Sharp and incisive both with a sword and his acting skills, a young lad from Goa’s Parra village wants to cut a wide swath in the world of US cinema. After training in samurai sword-fighting in Japan, Miles Lobo, a 2nd Dan in the Iaido — a Japanese martial art which specialises in the use of a sword to respond to a sudden attack — is putting the lessons learnt from this fighting technique to climb the rungs of the world’s biggest film industry.
The year 2019, appears to be serving as a launch-pad for Lobo, with five under-production projects, including two feature films, already in his kitty. “2019 has been very kind to me. This is also the year I hope to start breaking into the independent film festivals. I am currently in five projects that I am very happy to be a part of, two of which are feature films,” he said. One of the feature films is being directed by Gabriel Barreto, son of Oscar-nominated actress Amy Irving, who starred in the 2000 Hollywood hit Traffic and director Bruno Barreto, whose film Four Days in September was nominated as Best Foreign Language Film at the 1998 Academy Awards.
While confidentiality clauses bar him from speaking about the projects, the young actor and martial arts exponent says, that all the projects are in the production stage. For now, his move to New York is the sum of two major career decisions which Miles took early on in life; one was to learn the skill of samurai sword fighting in Japan and the second was to train in fine arts and performing arts at Pune’s FLAME University, where he spent four years learning the acting craft. Both stints appear to have taught him skills critical and necessary to succeed in the rough and tumble world of cinema in USA.
While the rigours at FLAME University, readied him to study ‘method acting’ in New York at the world famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, his merit earned him the Vincent D’Onofrio scholarship, which is awarded to a matriculated student, either domestic or international, with a passion for the craft of acting, unique talent, and a dedication to lifelong artistic development. Miles Lobo has been working in New York for a year now since graduating from the Institute. But it is the Iaido skills which he honed in Japan, which are helping him to sharpen his desire, commitment as well as talent in New York, thanks to the sense of discipline, and development of motor and observational skill.
Miles Lobo is a black belt 2nd Dan in Iaido and won the international sword fighting championship held annually in Tokyo in 2015. Iaido is a Japanese martial art that emphasizes being aware and capable of quickly drawing the sword and responding to a sudden attack. “When I lived alone in Japan, all I did was train every day. To be honest I had no choice but to get better. Now as an actor, there are many days when I find myself alone just like in Japan, so I simply train more. I do a scene with other actors, work on a monologue, go to the gym. I just keep at it,” Lobo said, adding that for a ‘struggler’, the only one factor which is in one’s control is the ability to better oneself.
Needless to say, his sword-fighting abilities have not gone unnoticed in New York. “I got roped into doing a small combat demonstration in Harlem one time. My director told me that it was to promote the film. (Laughs) Let’s just say at that time, I didn’t know any better. That said, I have performed fight sequences in quite a few plays and films. One of my first jobs in New York was to get beaten up by an old security guard in a music video,” he explains, adding that he also choreographs combat in indie films and in theatre performances. “Yes, I do choreograph combat, but I am in no way a professional. Many times I end up in that position out of necessity. I have choreographed for theatre companies such as Shakespeare Downtown, Surati Performing arts and a few indie films,” he said.
Training in samurai sword-fighting helps a lot, he said, as it enhances common motor and observational skill and generates the ability to absorb fight choreography in an action sequence or to read body language of other characters in a scene. “One exercise that translated very well to acting was visual training. When we would do our solo training in sword-fighting, we would always visualise the attacker. The more vivid the attacker was, the better your movement became. In acting, we deal with similar what-if scenarios all the time,” he further said.
One question Miles Lobo cannot seem to escape being an Indian lad, is his choice to scout a career in Hollywood, instead of India’s very own Bollywood. But he has an answer ready. “Opening one door doesn’t mean that I have to close another. But for me there were several reasons why I came to America first, the main reason was language. In order for me to improve my technique, I needed to be able to express myself linguistically. As I think in English, reactions to what my co-actors throw at me happen effortlessly,” he says. “That doesn’t mean that I am opposed to the idea of working in India, it’s quite the opposite. My primary education in acting was in Hindi. The audience of India is maturing and films have improved drastically. I will be happy in Bollywood or Hollywood as long as I can act,” he further says, adding that he is looking forward to an Indian co-production project.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by ItsGoa staff and is published from a press release.)