You remember him as the snarky, tech-savvy aide who became a Ranger from our first fully Disney produced season; Ninja Storm!
Well, the Call is On! His Legacy as the First Green Samurai Ranger lives on in the episodes of Ninja Storm!
We Luckily got a chance to sit down and ask the man himself, Jason Chan, a few questions about his time on set, how it was to Play Cam & Cyber Cam and how was it talking to his Dad the Guinea Pig!!
Had you ever heard of or watched Power Rangers before auditioning?
A: Yes, I’d heard of it but I’d never really watched it. But I certainly knew that it was about some kind of superheroes battling evil – that was enough for me to know I wanted to do it. Who doesn’t dream of being a superhero at some point in their childhood? My agent actually asked me to go watch some of it before I auditioned. I got out the DVD of the movie made in Sydney and just loved it. Didn’t want to get too excited cause it was a “cattle call” audition which meant everyone had been called in (literally hundreds just in Sydney) and I was expecting a very slim chance of getting the role.
What was the audition process for Ninja Storm and the character “Cam” like?
A: The audition process involved me just acting out a script about a teenager asking a girl out to the prom. It was pretty simple – only a few lines and I was acting opposite a celebrity from Big Brother at the time. I didn’t know her but she was quite nervous I think. We did the scene twice and that was that. I didn’t think twice about the audition – thought I’d done badly and that I wouldn’t get a call back but 6 months later they said that I’d been selected for the final call back. I was pretty excited!
Do you remember what was it like to hear you got the role?
A: Well, I was in the final audition and Doug Sloan (producer / writer) was there with the casting agent. He asked me to read a scene – which I did – and then he got up and said “can you demonstrate any martial arts moves?” I went ahead and did some punches and blocks that I’d learnt years ago and then he just came right over smiled and asked “have you ever lived in New Zealand?” – I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Will always remember that day – just like the day I heard I got into NIDA: one of Australia’s top drama schools.
What was your first day on set like?
A: I didn’t shoot for 2 weeks after our initial stunt training with Koichi and the Japanese stunt team so I was a bit worried that I’d never be called to set. The paranoid actor in me thought they had changed their mind and were trying to think of a way to send me home. REALLY! So when I was finally called to set I was kinda over the moon.
My first day was with B unit which does all the stunt work – we were out in a forest clearing and I had to learn and perform a fight sequence. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I was petrified but kept trying to keep my nerves under the lid. Koichi works so fast with choreography – he basically walked me through the sequence in like 2 mins and then said “Got it? Just go through it a few times and we’ll shoot…” I could barely remember the sequence but had to just go ahead and do it. During one of the turns I stepped into a little pot hole and twisted my back – my disk injury reared up and I was in so much pain. However, I did not want anyone to know. I was so nervous they’d send me home – I just grit my teeth and got through the shoot that morning. It was tough and it took me like a week to get over the back pain but I survived. Things got better of course and once I relaxed into the role and the stunt work I absolutely loved it.
Who would you say was your closest friend on the set of Ninja Storm?
A: I’d have to say both Sally and Glenn. We hung out a lot off set and looked after each other on set too. Sometimes it was just a matter of who you were shooting with. I rarely had scenes with my evil cousins but when we did I’d hang out with Kat Browne a lot and we’d just talk crap in the trailer. We’ve since become good friends and keep in touch. I’ll have to say though – we had a fantastic team – not just the cast but the crew were all part of an amazing family – apparently it was quite unique to Ninja Storm as I’ve heard from crew who’ve stayed on for other series that the energy was never quite the same. I think the mix of individuals is very important to the energy of a set and we happened to have a remarkable mix of people. For example I remember spending a lot of time with Adam (boom operator) talking about financial freedom – he introduced me to the Kiyosaki books and it changed my life.
If you can remember, What was your favorite Ninja Storm episode to film?
A: Of course, the trilogy – Samurai Journey AND when Cybercam emerged. The Samurai Journey was such a treat because it was basically a full heroic character journey for Cam and the story mirrored my own frustration and wish to finally become a real Power Ranger. Up until then I was always stuck at Ninja Ops shooting in a studio set – whilst my co-actors were out in beautiful locations – forests, waterfalls, cliffs… I couldn’t wait to get out there.
Cybercam was such a treat. I remember Doug coming up to me and saying “we’re going to create an alternate CAM – you can do whatever you want with him – just go for it”. I had so much fun just creating something a little silly but still likeable. Of course as an actor you always want to be stretched and it was nice to just go crazy a bit with a kooky character like Cybercam.
What Was The Process Of Your Scene With Sensei Guinea Pig?
Did You Have To Act To Nothing, Was There A Mark There Or Did Someone Feed You The Lines?
A: The first AD would have a stick with a small box at the end of it – this would represent my father! They would move the box wherever Sensei needed to be so I’d just have to act with the box. A lot of my work was acting with green screens and a moving box. Usually the first AD would read the lines – sometimes they’d try to put me off by making up the lines or reading in a quirky voice. But I’d never fluff – I’d always make sure they got a usable take. I think it’s because I was always so aware of how much film cost (they were shooting on film) and I never wanted to waste it. But apparently it became a bit of a challenge with the directors and first ADs to try and make me break character or lose a line during my takes. It got to be quite funny but also a challenge for me never to let them win!
What was it like to play two different versions of the same character? Cam and Cyber Cam?
A: As I said before – I totally loved creating the character of Cybercam. So much fun to just do something really off the wall. In my graduating play at NIDA I had to play twins – an evil and a good one – it was a similarly challenging but fun experience. It’s what actors live for.
Did you know all along that Cam would eventually become the Green Samurai Ranger?
A: Yes, we were told once we arrived. I was a little disappointed at first because it did mean that I would spend almost half the episodes as the geek sitting at Ninja Ops… but it turned out well.
How did you go about playing Cam? Were there pieces of your own personality in him?
A: Sarcasm is strong in me 😉 That came quite naturally but it’s always a tough thing to balance. Sarcastic characters can be really unlikeable so I had to make sure Cam was still authentic, likeable and someone that others would root for. I’m also a bit of a geek and to be honest I’ve always dreamed of having an underground cave filled with technology like Ninja Ops – that was a bit of a dream.
Do you happen to own any Ninja Storm merchandise?
A: They did give us a box of merchandise after the show – I’m not really sure where I’ve stored it – must find it one day – I’ve moved around a lot so it’s hard to keep track.
Have you attended any conventions?
A: No, not yet – but I hope to one day soon.
Would you ever return for a guest spot on a future season of Power Rangers?
A: For sure – I loved returning for the team up with Dino Thunder – more so to catch up with my fellow cast and crew than anything else. If I returned now I’m not sure I’d know anyone there anymore so it wouldn’t be as fun I guess. For me acting is very much about the people I’m with and the places we’re in because most of the experience of making a show is about waiting with cast and crew. If you don’t love them you’re going to have a pretty boring time.
How was it like coming back and interacting with a different cast in Power Rangers Dino Thunder?
A: They were great – but it was only two weeks so I spent most of my time just catching up with Glenn, Sally, Pua and some of the crew. There was a bit of competition on set between the teams in terms of how fast each cast could get their takes done. We were told that Dino Thunder were relaxing a bit into their shoot and when we showed up and just started nailing takes (like morphing etc) they started to step up their game. It was friendly competition though.
Are you currently working on any projects you want your fans to know about?
Where can we Officially follow you on social networks?
A: Yes, I started a production company in Singapore called BananaMana Films. We created a 13 part drama series called “What Do Men Want?” which is a really fun romantic drama about two actors looking for love. I co-wrote, acted in and co-directed the series and also wrote the score – so please check it out. Basically we did everything. It’s apparently been licensed by the US library I think so I hope everyone will be able to watch it there.
More recently I again wrote, co-directed and acted in a webseries called “Perfect Girl Series”. They can watch it online here: www.perfectgirlseries.com but this site may soon be taken offline because we recently signed a distribution deal for both series. So if you want to watch it – go there soon! This series has so far won 7 awards including: Best Drama Category at Atlanta, LA and Toronto Webfest. We were just in LA to pick up 5 awards at the webfestival. Winning the awards has opened up a lot of doors and we’re now looking at creating our own action / thriller series – and there’s quite a bit of interest from investors so it’s exciting.
My social media:
One last funny question: In Power Rangers Samurai (2011-2012) it was revealed that the Pink Ranger, Mia’s last name was Watanabe, the same as your character. Could Cam have a long lost sister?
A: I hope so – maybe they’ll find one another in a family reunion story interrupted by Lothor’s reopening of the Abyss of evil… now there’s a movie…