Navigating Through The Creative Journey and Success With ‘Hearts of New England” Producer J.R. Fortin and Actress Megan Salisbury

J.R. Fortin is best known for his series, Hearts of New England. In this series, he alone has won 30 awards and the series as a whole has won 60+ awards. The series is based on his character, Sebastian, coming home from war but not being able to escape war because his dad is the head of the mob.

Despite being most known for Hearts of New England, J.R. has been on over forty film sets and has been the lead in Suicide Hotline and For Bobby. His first film appearance was in the movie Paper City Burn Out.

J.R. Fortin is 33 years old. Despite all of his awards, his biggest achievements are Aleisha, Hope, Abigael, Noah, Landon, Nikolai, Annabelle, and Lylah, his children. He grew up in Poland, Maine, and resides in Maine to this day. J.R. Fortin’s hobbies include the ocean, modeling, acting, and the New York Jets.

The biggest key to his success was being taught work ethic at a young age. Starting at 12 years old, every summer he was putting in full-time hours. Outside of the entertainment industry he’s worked for the same company for 14 years and helps run operations for a Fortune 500 company. By implementing his leadership style that he used to get to where he is there, Maine Event Films has had a solid five-year anniversary as of November 12th, 2022.

“Create an inclusive and fun work environment where people want to work and treat others how you want to be treated and the business will run itself in any industry not just the entertainment industry. Awards and trophies are awesome but how you make people feel will be remembered forever so lead with your heart you may be the only positive part of someone’s day.”

-J.R. Fortin

The father, producer, actor, director, writer, filmmaking powerhouse, and creative visionary is on the rise and not stopping anytime soon. We Empower Magazine is thrilled to interview J.R. Fortin along with super talented actress and “Hearts of New England” cast member, Megan Salisbury about their experiences and success in the entertainment industry.

We Empower Magazine readers, please enjoy our interview.

Epic Studio ME Photographer: John Paul Rondeau Concept design: Sherry Estabrook

 

We would love to hear about Hearts of New England and DNA. What can you share with us at this time?

J.R. Fortin: Hearts of New England season 2 episodes are still being released. Hearts of New England season 3, episode 1 already has a rough cut. Season 4 will continue filming in March. The show takes a lot of twists and turns. I’m very excited to see the fan base’s reaction when we launch. If you like the show now then you’re going to love it as storylines fall into place.

DNA is going to be amazing. It follows a father who refuses to believe his daughter is dead after she has been missing for a few years. I was very lucky to have such a talented actress come on board and join the “family”.

What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

J.R. Fortin: My best friend, Joshua Harris, was such a powerful actor growing up. I would attend all of his plays and the crowds were always full. A big part of that was his performances. I’m not a theater actor but I’m definitely a t.v. actor. He could do either; lots of people can’t separate the two, especially in the independent film industry. It’s not one in the same; they’re completely different but I can appreciate both. I’ve always wanted to act in movies and Chris Dubey and Ricky Pivin gave me my first shot in Paper City Burn Out in 2016. Now I’m addicted to everything about filmmaking.

We love interviewing experts like yourself about leadership skills and team building. How has your journey been in this arena and what advice would you have for anyone who is currently needing to build a creative team?

J.R. Fortin: I’ve been a leader for a very long time, it just came naturally. I can often see ways to improve efficiency. The key to leading is a positive attitude and people skills. If you treat people good you will get good results, if you treat people bad you will see what those results look like. If you don’t know three things about the person you’re working with that have nothing to do with work then you’re not a leader, you’re a boss. You can’t be everyone’s best friend but you can always be engaged and acknowledge everyone. If you’re going to build any sort of team, get references from people you’ve worked with in all lines of work. If you bring on someone you don’t know, animosity can destroy a team. You also want to make sure that if you bring someone into a film they’re open to working strange hours. Most people in the independent film Industry have regular jobs and have to understand that we can’t just shoot on weekdays or weekends, we just have to find a day that works and make it happen. You should also ask the cast and crew to do different things so that if you have a hiccup then the actor knows how to be a P.A. or a boom operator; knowledge is power. In all industries, you never know when a door will close so at the end of the day you always want to protect your personal brand and treat people right. What you do will be forgotten shortly after you leave a workplace or a film set but how you treated people will be remembered forever.

What are you currently working on?

J.R. Fortin: Several films are in the works right now. More and more projects are popping up which is very exciting. I was recently asked to film short horror stories that were published in a magazine by an established author. As well as filming a western and also a timepiece called Memories.

What else can we be on the lookout for from you?

J.R. Fortin: My feature film, The Christmas Cape, and the release of my romance novel, A Cold October. You can also expect to see me attend many more events in person this coming year to celebrate the Hearts of New England’s success.

What is a super fun fact about yourself that many people are not aware of?

J.R. Fortin: I have an associate’s degree in legal studies, which not many people know about, and I was accepted into the only school in the state with a prep course for the bar exam. The school was too far from home so after two terms I walked away to spend more time with my kids.

In what ways do you empower others through your career?

J.R. Fortin: You empower people by giving them the ability to make decisions. I’m not the type of director that will yell at someone for not going word for word. Some of the best scenes come from actresses and actors when they go off script because the chemistry is just there and the scene comes out amazing. Empowering is such an important word in the independent film industry and the business industry. If you teach someone anything they can bring that knowledge to another film set or another job.

At my regular job, I empower people everyday. I need other people to make decisions helping oversee almost four hundred people. You have to let people make mistakes, it is critical for their development if they try something in any line of work and you disagree with their method. It’s critical to explain the why with a positive attitude. No matter what you do or how good you are at something there is always room for improvement. With that being said we should always celebrate small wins because they lead to big wins. This builds confidence so typically that person will empower someone and by the time you’re done, you will have a dream team that trusts one another.

If you empower people you’re a leader, not a boss. If people are working for you and not with you, self-evaluate. When you drive a car you need all aspects to work. You can’t just hope one part of it works. If you don’t have brakes you wouldn’t be able to stop, if you don’t have gas you wouldn’t be able to go, and if you don’t have a steering wheel you wouldn’t be able to turn. You have to trust every piece of the puzzle and in all industries you must start with a positive outlook to have a positive result. When you believe in your team and they know it then you will hit levels that no one dreamed possible.

Epic Studio ME Photographer: John Paul Rondeau Concept design: Sherry Estabrook

 

What are you most excited about for the remainder of the year and leading into 2023?

J.R. Fortin: I’m excited to get back to filming in full force. We had a lot of delays but we are going to start filming more of season 4 in the near future. I’m also excited for the release of more episodes from season 2. I’d say most of all though I’m looking forward to filming the Christmas Cape, if all goes as planned.

Any shoutouts you would like to give to anyone who has been there with you along your journey?

J.R. Fortin: My brother Christopher Fyfe and Caitlynn McCauley. I love these two people more than life. They were there oftentimes when no one else was. I could not have achieved half of my stuff if it wasn’t for their ongoing support. I also want to give a shout to my good friends and cast members, Stacey Stevens Badillo and Randy Wilson who both recently passed. Randy played the character of Thomas and Stacey played the role of Cynthia, Angela’s mom.

Keep up to date with J.R. Fortin on social media:

Facebook 
https://m.facebook.com/JRFORTIN.OFFICIAL/
Instagram 
https://instagram.com/j.r._fortin?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/justinfortin89
IMDB 
https://m.imdb.com/name/nm7581802/?ref_=ext_shr_lnk

Photographer: John Paul Rondeau Concept design: Sherry Estabrook

 

Megan Salisbury

Megan Salisbury is a New England-based actress. She is best known for her work on “The Business of Christmas.” She is patiently awaiting the release of many other films. She attended AMDA in New York and Los Angeles. And she is passionate about bringing characters to life on screen.

Photo credit: ATR Photography Photographer: Alisha Record

 

What do you enjoy most about being an actress and how did your career begin?

Megan Salisbury: I love psychology and the process of getting into character feels like jumping into someone else’s mind and seeing from their point of view. It’s such an experience to develop a character and notice their strengths and flaws and bring that person to life. My career began after I attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy College and Conservatory for the performing arts. My teachers really whipped me into shape and I learned a tremendous amount in the time that I was there.

What’s it like working with someone who wrote a series that has 60+ filmmaking awards?

Megan Salisbury: Justin is incredibly resilient, and an active problem solver. He really is a one-man show; producer, actor, director, and writer. I always look forward to working with Justin and learning more from him, he has such a wealth of knowledge. He is a great resource to learn from and a great friend!

What made you jump on board with Hearts of New England?

Megan Salisbury: I binge watched “Hearts of New England” as soon as Justin reached out to me with a role he wanted me to play. There is so much heart in this show, no pun intended, that I couldn’t say no. It has been such a pleasure working with him and getting to experience the camaraderie of the show.

What are the differences between the two characters you play for Maine Event FILMS in DNA and Hearts of New England?

Megan Salisbury: Oh, there is a huge difference. In “DNA”, I play the role of Ashley, mother and wife with a huge secret that could tear apart my family. Ashley for the majority of the film is a grieving mother trying to understand her husband who has never really gotten over the kidnapping of their child. In “Heart of New England”, I play Veronica, a conniving, violent, FBI agent trying to break a case that I’ve been working on for years.

What other projects had significant meaning to you in your acting career?

Megan Salisbury: Ember’s Night Out was a film I worked on last year that brought out the rebel in me and I really enjoyed getting to develop that side of the character. It’s a film with high stakes and low morals and the was a great experience as well.

Photo credit: ATR Photography Photographer: Alisha Record

 

What’s next for you?

Megan Salisbury: I’m currently working with some students at Emerson College on a project and you might see me popping up in some new and fun adventures. Shhh!….

What advice would you have for aspiring actresses?

Megan Salisbury: The advice I would give to an aspiring actress is to NEVER give up. That is what is most important. If you love what you do, it will always be worth your time.

Keep up to date with Megan on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megan.salisbury.39

Instagram: @salisburysteakyo

IMDb: https://m.imdb.com/name/nm4953397/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

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