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Canada's Matthew Isen stars in highly anticipated new film 'Brotherhood'
As an actor, Matthew Isen takes words on a page and brings them to life. No matter the character or story, he uses his life experiences, background and body to create an entirely new person – a character with its personality, choices, and thoughts. When given a script, he doesn't simply read the pages; he analyzes every word, using each new bit of information as a piece of a puzzle, allowing his character to form in his mind.

Throughout his esteemed career, Isen has achieved what many can only dream of in a lifetime, and he's only 18 years-of-age. He has appeared in hit Canadian shows like Murdoch Mysteries, and he stars in the widely popular Family Channel series Backstage, which is also on Disney Channel internationally. He has fans all over the world and is an in-demand actor in his native country.

Isen recently finished filming his latest project, the upcoming feature film Brotherhood. Based on a true story, the film takes place in 1926, where eleven teen-aged boys arrive at Long Point Camp for the adventure of their lives. When their canoe capsizes in a freak summer storm, their holiday descends into a soul-shuddering fight for survival.

"Anyone that watches this film will be sure to take something positive away from it. There are themes of brotherhood, of course, but also humanity, perseverance, tolerance, individuality, and still commonality. The film puts the audience in the seat of the characters - allowing them to feel the impact that such a catastrophe has on a group of young individuals," said Isen. "And of course, this story is such a tragic story that very few people have heard of. Sharing this narrative with a much larger audience I believe is important in remembering the lives of those that were lost in this incident."

In the film, Isen portrays Leonard O'Hara. Among the group of boys in the film, Leonard is one of the youngest - leading to him being picked on by some of the older kids. Although being at summer camp isn't one of his favorite things, he befriends another boy his age named Will, who is also a bit of an outsider. Together, they form a friendship that helps them more than they know through the boating accident that changed their lives forever. 

"One thing that was great about filming this project was that the other actors in the film were incredible. This made it so easy to be in the moment while filming; acting off of the other actors' performances made the immediacy and stakes of the scenes much more believable, which only allowed for better performances from all the actors involved in the film," said Isen.

Leonard, at his core, is a survivor. When he was only a young child, his father died by drowning in the sinking of the boat, the Empress of Ireland, in the St. Lawrence River. This led to his intense fear of being inopen waters. He plays a crucial role in the movie - especially with him being one of the only boys who cannot swim. When the time comes, Leonard is the type of person who would choose to face his fears, rather than letting his fears consume him. He is smart, strong-willed, and puts others before himself. Leonard is the underdog in the story, a pivotal role that may or may not end up saving the day. Audiences will have to wait and see.

"Matthew is an exemplarily actor. While on set, Matthew brings the utmost professionalism to his work. Matthew has the ability to create engaging characters and elevate any scene he is a part of. Matthew is an absolute asset to the film and tv industry and will continue to work at the highest level," said Jake Manley, who plays George Waller in the film.

Working on this film was an amazing experience for Isen. The shoot was just over two months, the majority of it spent in a small Northern town called Wawa. This is where all the outdoor camp scenes were filmed. The second month, they filmed in a studio in downtown Toronto, where all of the scenes where the boys were stranded in the middle of open waters were shot; they had set up a gigantic pool in a film studio surrounded with green screens, which, using special effects, is being turned into a huge open body of water during post-production. Spending a month soaking wet every day still having to perform is a unique challenge for any actor, but Isen impressed.

"Working with Matthew was a great experience. He's a great scene partner, whose dedication really brings the best out of the actors around him. Matthew's ability to be both professional and friendly is a huge asset. When the cameras are rolling, he's 100 percent in the scene, and then they've cut, he makes everyone on set feel at ease," said Gage Munroe, who plays Jack in Brotherhood.

The process of becoming Leonard was quite challenging for Isen. With the intense nature of the film, there were many physically and emotionally demanding scenes that required a great deal of focus and stamina in order to film them effectively. As Leonard is afraid of water, a lot of the scenes on the open waters were quite traumatizing for him. Getting to that emotional stage was not an easy task, especially with the quick pace of filming. Isen made sure to always know exactly what happened in every scene to make sure his character was portrayed believably. This made it easier to access the emotional sides of himself with very little time. 

"I loved being able to work on this film because for me, the best acting work is the work that challenges me the most. I pushed myself through the long hours, and as a result, I was able to see results - takes of scenes that I myself was proud of," said Isen.

Brotherhood is expected to be released next year. Undoubtedly, it's a can't miss.

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