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Artistic Director

John Cassini

John also produced and starred in the critically acclaimed feature film Daughter which was developed through the Railtown Lab. Daughter opened the BC Spotlight Gala at the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival and went on to be nominated for 7 Leo awards including Best Picture and Best Lead Actor for John. In 2020, John won the UBCP/ACTRA Award for Best Lead Actor for his role in Daugher.

In 2018, John was awarded the Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Achievement.


Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, actress, philanthropist, (more on jeweljk.com)

"Excuse my language, but John Cassini fucking rocks.  He has what a lot of the industry doesn’t - heart, soul, feel, humanity, and he actually cares ... really deeply.  This job can be a hard one.  It can grind up what starts as a passionate, wide-eyed optimism and turn it into dust in a hurry.  It can become a job, if you're lucky... but to have it still light you up and feel like a dream because you love the craft... that’s special.  My favorite part about John isn’t his acting ability (though considerable) or his ability to communicate with passion and expertise and advocate for other actors (he’s amazing); my favorite part about John is his humanity.  And from that, so many good things come.  Xx j."

Danny Nucci

The Fosters, Titanic, The Rock, Crimson Tide, (more on IMDb.com)

"John Cassini is a gift to the craft.  I've had the benefit of working with him as an actor as well as having been directed and coached by him.  Perhaps coached is the wrong word.  The experience is more like being "guided".  He not only understands what a particular part may need, but his ability to communicate the "how of it" is what makes me wish I could work with him on every script.  His experience in having played such varied characters is invaluable when breaking down any role from first read to performance.  His insight and passion for making a character "live" in you is inspiring.  I always feel like I've discovered something I didn't know was there."

Jennifer Beals

The Book of Boba Fett, L-Word, Flashdance, Book of Eli, (more on IMDb.com)

"Sometimes in the early process of creating a character I feel like I'm circling the castle looking for a way in. There are the initial impulses which are like treasures but in breaking down the entire arc and having an initial sense of flow there are times I just need to talk to someone I trust. For me that person has always been John Cassini. When I get stuck, or am afraid, or am afraid of getting stuck I call John and we talk about the material. His insights never cease to amaze me. He has such a lucid, grounded, powerful gift for analyzing text. He never tries to direct you; instead John asks all the right questions, and unveils clear paths so that you can see and DO more clearly. He is an invaluable friend and colleague."

Sonja Bennett, Award-Winning Actor & Writer

Family Law, Ghost Wars, Preggoland, Godiva's, (more on IMDb.com)

"After 20 years in the business I was feeling like the spark had died a little so I enrolled in John’s Film Immersion class.  When I shared with John that I had begun to turn down auditions that I knew I was “never gonna get” John challenged my rationale.  Why couldn’t I play these roles?  He encouraged me to work scenes in class that scared me.  Throughout the course, John helped me break down what the fear was, demystify the material and empowered me to discover my own versions of these characters.  Suddenly the work felt fun and fresh and exciting again.  John creates a safe and playful learning environment and the one–on-one structure of the class means each student gets a tailor made education.  John’s passion for the craft is infectious and I left the class feeling inspired and alive.  Spark’s back, baby!"

Chris Haddock, Writer

Davinci's Inquest, Intelligence, Boardwalk Empire, Romeo Section, (more on IMDb.com)

"John Cassini and I go back a long way, to Da Vinci's Inquest where he made an indelible impression when I first cast him, enough so that I brought him back for a longer arc. I cast him again on a show I did for CBS, as a series lead opposite Joe Pantaliano. The two of them together were riveting. When we made Intelligence, he was cast as Ronnie Delmonico and was again unforgettable. John's acting skills are renowned, and his dedication to the job at hand second to none, as he brings distinct unique characterizations to every thing he does. As an alumni of the famous Actors Studio, John continues his training in that great school of top flight actors. As an actor, teacher and coach, his reputation is gold."

Elias Koteas

Thin Red Line, Zodiac, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, (more on IMDb.com)

"To me acting at its purest is about giving.  John Cassini personifies that for me.  I remember a few years back we were working together on this mini series.  It was a tough scene and I was having a particularly rough time getting to where I needed to be in it.  A few choice words from him and suddenly anything was possible.  He saved my ass that day.  I will never forget it. I hope one day I can give back a fraction of what he has given me."

Terry Keli Chen

House of Cards, Jessica Jones, The Expanse, (more on IMDb.com)

"From script analysis to character development, John has always been the go-to guy for me. Working with him before starting my latest project gave me invaluable insights that I could bring to set. From understanding what the writers' intention is, he will lead you through a process that will be adaptive, and ground you as an actor in any work environment. Do the work with John and you will grow as an artist."

Jack Noseworthy

Actor & dancer.  Broadway: Come From Away, Sweet Smell of Success.  Film & TV: Law & Order, U-571, Alive, (more on IMDb.com)

"I first met John over 25 years ago when we were both cast in the film ALIVE.  John brought a dedication and an unwavering sense of professionalism to his craft those many years ago, which have now become legendary.  As an actor, John embraces preparation and allows for the unexpected to happen.  Over the years I have coached with John on various projects.  He has the unique ability to focus his own endless curiosity on your material, while patiently allowing you to answer specific questions that keep you out of your head.  He gets you back to "brass tacks" by helping you develop the foundation of your character, so you'll have the freedom to play.  Like all the best teachers, John generously and unselfishly shares his knowledge.  He invests in his actors and holds you accountable to build upon your time with him."

Jamie Dornan

BBC's The Tourist, Belfast, Dinner with Hervé, The Fall, (more on IMDb.com)

"I had a brilliant experience working with John Cassini. He has a distinctly passionate take on the craft of acting and is thorough and precise with his influence. He’s a great actor himself, but above everything he’s just an amazing guy to be around. ."

Erin Karpluk

A Million Little Things, Being Erica, Rookie Blue, Saving Hope, (more on IMDb.com)

"Over the past 18 years I have had the fortune to work with John as my acting teacher in scene study, coach for auditions, my producer on set, and cast mate. Regardless of what hat he wears, John always brings the same thing to the work: professionalism, insight, humanity, no BS, and FUN. I feel the craft is unique to each actor, and appreciate John doesn’t teach “his way or the highway”. Rather, he is incredibly perceptive and intuitive and will challenge and guide his students based on their individual needs. I’ve seen him coach leading actors to people who are just starting, his dedication to empowering all is the same. I have looked to John to help navigate all forms of obstacles, on set, in the work, and the ups and downs of this bizz. He always elevates my craft and confidence and keeps me feeling sharp & creative. It’s not common to have a teacher with an extensive background in film, theatre, and television, both in front and behind the scenes. I feel this is invaluable in a coach, he is out there on the field battling with us and gets it. While John is supportive and empathetic, the best part of working with him is knowing he will always call me on my sh*t and push me to go outside my comfort zone. This is when I grow as an actor. Best advice he every gave me was to ‘surprise myself’ in the work. Once I understood this, my craft and career completely expanded. Forever grateful to him as a coach, peer, and all round great guy!."

Photo: Charles Zuckerman

In addition to a busy, award-winning acting career, John is also a TV and film producer and one of Canada’s most sought after acting coaches. He is a lifetime member of the renowned Actors Studio in NYC/LA and is the Artistic Director and co- founder of Railtown Actors Studio in Vancouver.

John’s film credits include Disney’s Alive, David Fincher’s Seven and The Game, Sony’s A Dog’s Way Home, and the black comedy Break A Leg which he also co-wrote and produced (Best Actor at the Marco Island Film Festival). Some of John’s television credits include lead roles in the series Robson Arms (CTV), in which he won a Leo Award for Best Actor, and the critically acclaimed drama Intelligence (CBC) currently on Netflix, for which he received a Gemini Award nomination. John was a co-founder of 3rd Street Theatre in Los Angeles and performed in several of their productions including David Mamet’s Edmond, Sam Shepard’s Geography of a Horse Dreamer, and Harold Pinter’s One for the Road. In Canada, some of John’s theatre credits include, Rabbit Hole (Arts Club), God of Carnage (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre) and Stephen Adley Guirgis’ The Motherf**ker with the Hat, (nominated for Best Lead Actor).

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Gil Bellows

Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal, Patriot, Women of the Movement, (more on IMDb.com)

"John has been a tremendous friend and peer to me. I respect and have loved acting with John for a long time. Then we started working together in a new way as actor and coach. It has been electric, straight up magic. Coaching is a very intimate dynamic. It requires unconditional honesty and incredible humanity while you encourage, cajole, challenge and seduce. Those of us who are fortunate enough to work with John - to get out of our own fucking way and do the work - come from love and stay humble."

Recent projects include the upcoming Fox series NeXT, multiple award-winning sci-fi thriller Volition, APTN's much anticipated Tribal and the horror film True Fiction.

For an extended list of John's Film and TV credits, please refer to IMDb.com.

Aleks Paunovic

Hawkeye, War for the Planet of the Apes, Showpiercer, Van Helsing, (more on IMDb.com)

"I started late with my acting career. I was looking for guidance and I rolled into Lyric acting studio. To me, being a fan of John before I even met him was just cool, to be in a space where he would guest teach when he was up from LA to work or visit. Then when I started communicating with him and looking for guidance in the industry, he treated me like an equal. That was huge for me. The next step was getting coaching from him, and that was next level. I was beaming with wanting to learn. He spoke to every part of my creativity and helped me flourish and understand text and exploration. He is the epitome of a teacher. Selfless, strong-willed and compassionate. Now with Railtown Actors Studio and working with him in his Peer Group is next level And the thing I love most is seeing the next generation of talent walking through those doors. I'm excited for the future and for the talent that will create amazing performances because of John and Railtown."


Yvonne Chapman

Avatar: The Last Airbender, Kung Fu, Family Law, Street Legal, (more on IMDb.com)

"John is my go-to coach. I greatly appreciate his approach to the craft - his care, personal attention and enthusiasm is invigorating. There's no "one fits all" perspective that you find at some other studios. He really pays attention to who you are as a person, and caters his approach so that you can bring your individuality and uniqueness to each character.  After every session, I know that we really dug into the script, and he always pulls out more nuances out of my performance. And more than anything, because he's so grounded, approachable and fun to work with I always leave with a renewed and inspired excitement for the work."