BY HAZEL REID

Community, grief, and netball come together in Here If You Need, an epic short-form heightened reality drama series that shows a team of young 20-something kiwis attempting to manage the death of their friend, sibling and ex-partner through interceptions, goals, and coherent on-court leadership.

We caught up with actor Jacob Masters, to chat about the web series and his character Will

The series launches on RNZ’s Rangitahi platform TAHI on Wednesday 8 June.

Can you share a bit about the new project you’re involved in, Here If You Need, and your character? 

Here If You Need is a passion project from acting school in 2019 that blossomed into a full web series. We shot a proof of concept episode in 2020 on basically zero dollars after the first lockdown that Manuka and I produced. It was too much fun to stop pushing, and we were lucky that the right opportunity came along to make it thanks to New Zealand On Air. 

I play Will who is a brooding young 20s boy. Deep down he’s thoughtful and caring, he just doesn’t express that side of him very well. Like all the other members of the team, he’s struggling to come to grips with this new reality he’s found himself in. 

The series explores some serious subjects – why do you think stories like those told in Here If You Need are important to share? 

I believe any form of content should engage its audience in truth and authenticity. What we chose to explore stuck out like a sore thumb due to its relevancy to the youth of today. It’s important to share stories that are relevant, regardless of taboo too. We’re never coming with answers but just sort of saying hey look this thing is still happening all the time, and we feel this conversation should still be alive.

What do you hope people will take away after watching Here If You Need? 

I don’t know. I hope people find and enjoy the light and the shade in the series. In a dream scenario, I hope we just expand the bubble of empathy a little bit wider so that we can be more forgiving of others. Everyone’s going through something and nothing is black and white.  

You’ve been part of a number of projects over the last few years including a role in Head High, what do you love most about acting? 

I love working in this industry, and I love working with other actors. The number of artists you have on set in different roles is immense (Art department, directors, writers, costume, makeup), and they’re all bringing their own experience to the table to create a show. The actors that I’ve met have always been so much fun, always up for a laugh, and so it makes for a pretty amazing workspace. Acting itself is incredibly creative, joyful, difficult, and rewarding. You have to learn anything and everything to pull off the role. I’ve always loved trying pretty much everything, and whilst it’s not technically possible to be a cop, a lawyer, and an astronaut in one lifetime, you sort of can as an actor. 

Is there any specific genre and/or any actor/producer/director that you would love to work with in the future? 

There are too many. I want to try them all. A lot of my favourite shows are dystopian, sci-fi, or period pieces – the scale and thought to create the world are incredible. There are many directors, actors, and producers as well. A couple would be Edgar Wright and Ari Aster… I just love their films so much. 

Anything else you would like to share with Tearaway about the Here If You Need series? 

It’s quite a silly world we’ve created. There’s a real sense of heightened reality despite the grounded throughline. That’s one of my favourite things about the show. The polarity between the world and what the characters are going through.

Check out the trailer below and watch Here If You Need on TAHI.

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