Young actor Brayden Eaton has taken on a variety of roles – starring in a family adventure film and tackling darker subject matter in a dramatic thriller, for example – and this range earns him notice.

The 14-year-old from Hartland Township plays major roles in motion pictures.

Eaton said he had a trick for making a role his own.

“I describe it as zipping up your characters like a coat, and when you’re done, you zip it up,” he explained.

He said acting is not the same as pretending; it can stir up real emotions.

“You have to be very vulnerable to the character,” he said. “To be able to express such emotions, you have to be the characters, imagine that you are the characters. Actors have a good imagination, and you have to go about it mentally. I’m not pretending. You’re tapping into real emotions. “

He said that after shooting intense scenes, it helps to imagine him taking off the character like a coat.

Hartland Township teen actor Brayden Eaton stars in Crystal Creek Media's family adventure film

Now the teenager is taking on his first starring role in a major feature film – the family adventure, “Dinosaur Cove” (Crystal Creek Media), which is set to hit major streaming services this spring.

According to a trailer from the production company released last month, “Dinosaur Cove” promises to be a child-centered adventure about a boy, Eaton’s character Riley Harrison, who meets a pterodactyl and a top secret project.

Eaton said he had to channel real emotions for the role of Riley. In the film, Riley recently lost her mother and is grieving, according to a plot summary.

Eaton said he landed the role during an audition after starring in “Miracle on Christmas,” a film shot in the Brighton area and released on Amazon Prime and DVD in 2020. The Christmas movie and “Dinosaur Cove” share an actor, James Pilachowski.

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Eaton said he was able to have fun on the set of “Dinosaur Cove.”

“I’d take a prop egg, put it down, spin it around, and sing ‘You Spin Me Round,’ by 80s band Dead or Alive. “I love the 80s and I play guitar too .”

In December, he hosted a private, invitation-only screening of “Dinosaur Cove,” directed by Dearborn native Daniel Knudsen, at the Hartland Emagine Theater.

Miscellaneous topics

Eaton took on a darker dramatic role in “Pulled From Darkness” (Homesick Media), which is slated for release this spring in theaters and on streaming services.

“Inspired by the incredible true story of a woman who was torn from her children and trafficked after her husband lost her at a game night,” reads a description on IMDb.com.

A trailer for the film, directed by George A. Johnson, was released earlier this month.

Eaton, who plays one of the woman’s children, said he was able to handle physically and emotionally draining scenes, including an intense kidnapping scene and a choreographed fight scene.

“After you finish a scene, you don’t want to stay in that dark state of mind, because it’ll ruin your life,” he said and talked about taking the character off like a cloak.

Among other acting roles, Eaton played the younger version of the title character in the film festival short, “If Nothing Changes” (Tennille T. Productions) about a couple addicted to heroin.

He has also appeared in advertisements, including for Lysol, Fleet Farm, and RealTruck.com, among others.

Her first film role was in “Traveler,” a 2017 Atlas Pictures production that made the rounds at film festivals.

“A young girl’s quest for the stars teaches her about the reality of life on earth,” the film’s Facebook page reads.

So what’s the next step?

Eaton didn’t share details, but said he was waiting for three films to go into production.

“One is a Christmas movie. One is a superhero fan movie. The third is a fictional football movie. They’re all feature films, all in pre-production. We’ll probably shoot this year “, did he declare.

Family support

His father, Jason Eaton, said the family changed their lifestyle to support their son’s budding stardom.

“We’re in,” said Eaton, a music teacher at Lakes Elementary in Hartland Consolidate Schools.

“At any time, we could have 24 hours notice and we’ll have to pick up and go to LA. We’ll be there for a few days and turn around and come back. It’s a whirlwind every time we’re there, ” he added.

Jason Eaton said he and his wife Wendy Eaton, pastor of early childhood and family at the Central Church of the Nazarene in Flint, traveled with their son to Hollywood so many times they were looking to possibly secure a residency. high school in California so their son can be more available for auditions and filming.

Brayden Eaton attended public school at Lakes Elementary until he was in fifth grade, when he switched to online school through the Oxford Virtual Academy.

Most of his income goes into a trust fund which he can access when he turns 18.

Brayden Eaton (Young Simba), left, and Edona Vuli (Scar) prepare for the 2017 Prelude Theater Group production "The Lion King, Jr."

Local productions at SAG

His first acting gigs were in the Prelude Children’s Theater productions.

Jason Eaton is a theater program producer and director based in Hartland Township through Hartland Community Education.

Braydon Eaton has performed in several musicals produced by the group, including lead roles. He was young Simba in “The Lion King Jr.” and James in “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” among other roles.

Shannon Egenolf, the director of the theater troupe, said he was enthusiastic and taking great direction, even as a small child.

“He was always asking questions wanting it to come out the best he could do,” said Egenolf, who first worked with Eaton on a 2016 production of the children’s musical “Tut, Tut!”

She said if he ever won an Oscar, she didn’t need a red carpet invite.

“I said to him, just include me in your speech,” she said.

She said that even if he didn’t become “a million dollar star”, she knew he would find success as a working actor.

“He’s a hard worker and he’s really dedicated to it. You can see he has a passion for it. I see him doing something that’s going to stick, something big, something that’s really going to be something. He’s going to find success somewhere in I can’t wait to see what it is.

Prelude costume designer Sue DeKoninck said she remembered Eaton “being unafraid” on stage, even as a youngster.

She was thrilled when he came to see their latest production of “Peter Pan Jr.!” earlier this month: “He came to watch and just talked to me. So he’s got personality too. It was great that he came. He’s got this kind heart. He’s a nice kid and compassionate.”

Last year, Eaton became a member of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which he considers a big deal for a teenager, who also has a manager.

“It’s definitely a big achievement because you become a union member, and now you can only do union work. The sets have to follow safety protocols. They make sure you have a teacher on set,” did he declare.

He says he’s committed to trying to make his acting career his whole life.

“It was that feeling of wanting something to eat. That’s what I compare it to. You just feel like you want to do it,” he said.

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.