At 14, Julian Gopal is becoming one with the art of balance.
He’s a student of life – which means getting educated, as well as training as a second-degree black belt in taekwondo and all the other fun teenager stuff.
He rounds that out with a film career.
His latest project, “Wild Indian” is premiering Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Sundance Film Festival, which is happening virtually this year.
There will be a repeat screening of the film at 8 a.m. Feb. 1. Tickets are $15 at tickets.festival.sundance.org.
“Wild Indian” tells the story of Makwa, a young Anishinaabe boy who has a rough life.
He often appears at school with bruises and says he got them by falling down, but no one believes him.
He and his only friend, Ted-O, like to escape by playing in the woods, until one day Makwa shockingly murders a schoolmate.
After covering up the crime, the two boys go on to live very different lives. Now, as adults, they must face the truth of what they have done and what they have become.
Gopal plays young Ted-O and traveled to Oklahoma to film the project in late 2019.
“It was pretty fun,” Gopal says of being on set. “There were a couple of other kids on set. Usually the sets I’ve been on, it was just adults.”
The project was given to Gopal by his agency, Presley Talent, and he auditioned for it.
“It’s a very powerful story, and there were some intense scenes,” Gopal says.
The film was written and directed by Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.
“(Director) Lyle Mitchell Corbin Jr. was great to work with and really took them under his wing and helped them through the tough scenes,” Gopal says.
In addition to “Wild Indian,” Gopal has appeared in short films and in the TV series “The Night Shift,” “Graves,” “The Purge” and “FBI: Most Wanted.”
Having “Wild Indian” premiere at Sundance is a hefty achievement.
“It feels pretty good,” he says of the film at Sundance. “It’s definitely the biggest one that I’ve been in. I love the feeling of people watching me on screen. Even though we had to wait for this one to come out, I know that people will watch it.”
With each project, Gopal enjoys being able to get into a different character.
He’s overcome feeling uncomfortable with watching himself on screen.
“When I started acting classes, we would record a scene and the entire class would watch it on the screen,” he says. “It was very nerve-wracking, and over time, it’s become easier for me to be comfortable.”