In the glamorous world of movie making, one aspect of the film production process is often overlooked and vastly underrated. This refers to the musical soundscapes that help mold the film into the magical art form that we have all come to know and love. Without the extensive efforts of a film’s music supervisor, in this case the talented Anna San Juan, all of the relevant audio featured in the film, including any and all music would be nothing but an illusion.
Born and raised in Manila, Anna San Juan has proven herself to be very talented when it comes to recognizing what sound best compliments a project she is working on. Many people don’t realize that being a music supervisor is much more difficult than just picking songs for a film. The job often entails not just the creative aspect of music but the business end as well including such tasks as dealing with numerous legal aspects of clearing song licenses’, extensive research to find the right’s holders, and most importantly reaching out to labels and artists about using their music in the first place.
San Juan realized early on in life that she had a deep passion for music and film so she figured why not try to involve both in her ideal career.
“It all started when a group of incredibly talented American Film Institute fellows took a chance on me bringing me on-board their films as the music supervisor. After two years of also learning alongside them, the opportunity for a feature film [Actors Anonymous] unexpectedly came along, ” recalls San Juan.
Actors Anonymous, the film in question, was a difficult project to take on, but San Juan’s music supervision endowed the upcoming feature with captivating soundscapes that take on a life of their own. It involved the collaboration of 12 directors and featured the esteemed actor, writer and director James Franco (127 hours, The Interview) in a starring role, who also happened to be the author of the adapted novel.
At times the role of music supervisor is a grueling job with little to no recognition for doing something that truly adds an inordinate amount of substance to the finished project. Nevertheless, San Juan certainly understands the importance of what she does for everyone involved with the production.
“My all-time favorite moments are always the unexpected. Something clicks in between song and picture, and suddenly the lines are blurred. At least this is how unique ideas blow me away. A great, innovative pick in my experience can transform and elevate the scene into more than it is. I wouldn’t say better, just different in an amazing creative way, ” adds San Juan.
Prior to her work on Franco’s Actors Anonymous, San Juan proved the diversity of her skill as the music supervisor on a variety of other films including Starman (2014), This Way Up (2014), Slut (2014), Young Americans (2014) and Martian American (2014). The latter two films went on to be featured at dozens of film festivals worldwide, won numerous awards, and both were presented with a prestigious Student Emmy Award in their respective categories.
Currently San Juan is working on a number of projects most notably The Chase and Pursuit, a comedy about a couple out on the run over a parking ticket, and the more serious City Limits, a crime drama that focuses on a man’s obsession with his father’s untimely death and the risk he and his friends take to uncover the dangerous truth about what really happened.
Tom Penpark has been at it since he was 6 years old.
“I was inspired by my father to become a photographer,” he said. “He carried his camera with him all the time. His main subject was my mom. One day, he handed me my first camera, and I’ve enjoyed taking pictures ever since.”
And since that initiation, it’s been a pattern of success, recognition, accolades and honors stemming from Penpark’s world-class photographic brilliance.
His outstanding work has been published with The Huffington Post, The Telegraph: UK, Discovery Channel, SF Chronicles: San Francisco, Amazon.cn, Photographer’s Forum Magazine, Popular Photography Magazine China, Chicago Metropolitan Association for Education of Young Children, and American Photographic Artists (APA) San Francisco, to name a few.
His photography clients have consisted of well-known brands like Adidas, Google, Crossroad Trading, Monster Products, and Rodeo Realty Beverly Hills. Additionally, Penpark has demonstrated his retouching skills with clients such as Men’s Warehouse, Levi’s, Old Navy, Peet’s Coffee, T-Mobile, Charlotte Russe, Airbnb, Adobe, Nike, See’s Candies, and Gillette.
Originally from Bangkok, Penpark was used to photographing communities where the scenery around him was all quite similar. Exploring America allowed Penpark to expand his photographic imagination and immerse himself into the realm of panoramic photography. “My first trip to the U.S. started with Yosemite National Park in 2007. I had my old Canon Rebel with me. I learned that I could not capture what I saw in one frame and I couldn’t show what I actually saw through my pictures. That’s when I began learning about panoramic photography and started shooting panorama in order to get exactly what I saw,” Penpark said.
While panorama remains one of Penpark’s highest interests, he thoroughly enjoys photographing many different subjects. From architecture, electronics to food, people and objects, and natural landscapes, his photography spans a wide range of topics.
Regarding his versatile style of capturing, Penpark commented, “If I had to pick a favorite subject, it would have to be either landscape photography or people in landscapes. I enjoy traveling to places I’ve never been and conversing with and learning from new people. I love capturing people’s emotions and the perfections made visible in still life through my photography. Having to hike up to new destinations and dedicate copious amounts of time in order to ensure I get the perfect landscape photography always inspires me and constantly pushes me to work beyond my limits.”
Over the past ten years, Penpark has dedicated his time to exploring the different avenues of photography. “At the moment, I think my photography goes in two directions,” Penpark explained. When he has the time, Penpark continues to pursue his love of landscape photography through various road trips. “When it comes to my personal photography, I think the beauty of my photographs is the perfect of the imperfection. However, for my commercial photography, I focus specifically on perfection and what my clients are looking for.”
Early on in his career, Penpark worked as an Assistant Photographer to some of the biggest names in the business. For several years, he assisted talents such as Shalom Ormsby, Trinette Reed, Chris Gramly and David Fischer.
“I have learned all of my skills from others,” said Penpark. “My processes of planning, shooting, post-processing, and printing are all of general knowledge, the same as other photographers. Personally, I plan all of my shoots when I can. Long preparation and a short execution are always better than no plan at all for me. I will go the extra mile to find the best times and locations that will allow me to obtain the best final images as a result.”
Penpark has collaborated since 2008 with John Lund, a stock photography phenomenon, founding member of Blend Images and current APA SF Board Member.
“Tom’s background in art direction and design is apparent in his work, his Photoshop abilities are deep and professional, and his understanding of Lightroom and digital capture is extensive. Tom is more than just a talented photographer; he is a problem solver as well,” Lund said of Penpark’s many talents.
After earning recurring awards and recognition as a remarkable photographer by the American Photography Association (APA) early on in his career, Penpark was selected as a member and actively participates as leading voice in their events.
The APA is a non-profit organization built by photographers for photographers. It exists to provide business tools and creative inspiration in order to aid artists in the artistic process of photography and maintaining a stable, profitable business.
Over the years, many of Penpark’s images have been accepted by APA judges and exhibited throughout several selective shows such as the APA SF Something Personal Exhibition and the APA SF Selected Works Exhibition. In 2011, Penpark was awarded a Judges’ Fourth Place Award from the APA San Francisco Something Personal Exhibition.
“APA is a well-respected community for professional photographers. It was an honor to be selected for the APA Judges’ Fourth Place Award in their exhibition that took place in 2011,” Penpark said. In 2012, he acted as APA’s guest speaker at the Apple Store in San Francisco for their Creative Professional Series.
“After that,” Penpark continued, “my pictures were selected for their exhibitions almost every year.” In 2015, he was selected to be an APA judge. “As a professional photographer, this is a great honor.”
National Board Member of the APA and Chairman of the Board APA of San Francisco Chapter, Christian Peacock, commented of Penpark’s valued skills, “His talents and dedication to the excellence of his craft were evident in his examples of imagery that cannot be seen with the naked eye. I highly endorse Tom Penpark as an outstanding member of the APA and am looking forward to seeing his future accomplishments in our industry.”
Photography is a profession that requires both creative and technical abilities. Throughout the years, Penpark’s spent proving himself as an esteemed photographer. His work clearly showcases his mastery of having acquired both.
“Being a professional photographer requires a lot of investment in technical and artistic education,” Penpark said. “Having a solid foundation of the arts, painting and the history of photography are necessary qualities. However, at the same time, having excellent camera and lighting skills, knowing how to retouch images, and being knowledgeable of digital printing and digital assets management is important, too. Digital photography is half art and half tech. As a photographer, I can never stop learning and exploring.”
For the 2014-15 and 2016-17 editions, Penpark was selected and published as one of the Best Ad photographer’s for Leuzer’s Archive Magazine, a leading magazine for innovative ideas, photography and illustration. The honor is among the best in professional photography.
“The photos in Archive Magazine inspired me to become a full time photographer,” Penpark said. “I am proud and honored to be part of the selected group of photographers from around the world.”
In 2011, Penpark first initiated his role as a Contributing Stock Photographer at Getty Images and Blend Images.
Based out of Seattle Washington, Getty Images is a stock photography agency that is known for supplying business and consumers with an archive of over 80 million still, stock images and illustrations, and more than 50,000 hours of stock film footage. Similarly, Blend Images is an international commercial stock agency, founded by some of the world’s most successful photographers and industry veterans.
Penpark continues to successfully contribute his work to these stock agencies to this day and is now a Photoshop Production Artist with Schawk! on-site at Apple Headquarter in Cupertino.
Penpark formerly worked as the Digital Media Group Manager and Lead Photographer for Monster Cable Products, Inc., a company known for it’s manufacturing of audio and video cable products. The photographer fondly remembers one of his most recent shoots with the company – a concert at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“It was a Michael Jackson Tribute Concert,” Penpark said. “I was given the opportunity to take pictures of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Christina Milian, and the Jacksons. I was their official photographer at that event. One of the best moments was when my prints were signed by Jermaine Jackson, one of my idols.”
At Monster Cable Products Inc., Penpark worked under Ryan Notch, the Former Digital Media Group Manager of the company. “Tom is the real deal,” Notch said. “Not only is he an incredibly skilled technician at his craft, but he is amazing at concept and creative as well. I have been extremely fortunate to have Tom as the rock on my team here at Monster. He is very hardworking, dependable, and self-driven. Best of all, Tom is truly a pleasure to be around. His thoughtful and eager-to-help attitude has always made him an integral team player within our department. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Tom. I would, without hesitation, recommend him for any and all opportunities that come his way.”
In 2013, Penpark had the opportunity to meet Hossein Farmani, the founder and president of the legendary “The Lucie Awards,” Co-Founder of the Palm Springs Photo Festival and an all-around icon of photography. “I showed my prints to Hossein and they were selected to be a part of the 180th Anniversary of Thai – U.S. Exhibition,” Penpark said.
Penpark’s photos were showcased in the same exhibition as other world-class famous photographers such as James Nochtwey, Steve McCurry, Greg Gorman, Colin Finlay, Benya Hegenbarth and Douglas Kirkland.
Penpark’s photographs have also been featured in a solo exhibition at Google Headquarters and recognized as an award winner in the Travel Category of the Top 50 Sony World Photography Awards of 2015.
It’s a romantic comedy about a woman who always finds herself the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
It was shot on real film without sync sound, tells a visual story without dialogue and features a professionally trained dog named Chachi who incidentally drives the plot.
For writer-producer Katie Micay, “Limited Engagement” is a testament to her exceptional filmmaking forte. The story follows Kate, an unmarried, perpetual bridesmaid and hopeless romantic. Kate is ecstatic to find an engagement ring in her boyfriend, Ian’s, pocket. But to her dismay, the ring goes missing and in a panic, Kate turns her house upside down to find the ring before Ian notices.
The two-person short stars Katie Lee (“10 Days of Rain”) in the role of Kate and Rex Alan McMillan (“Alice Agonistes”) as Ian.
“In just a few short minutes, this film takes you on a roller coaster of emotion,” Lee said. “There is a clear conflict which everyone can relate. The story finishes with a resolution that not only gives a sense of relief, but also reminds you to laugh at yourself because in life everything works itself out one way or another in the end.”
Micay aimed to craft a story with a self-deprecating and witty sense of humor. “While writing this, I pulled a lot from one of my friendships,” she said. “I am extremely sarcastic in real life and my good friend was extremely literal. It never ceased to amuse me how many times she would fall for my sarcasm.”
“Limited Engagement” is an exercise in creativity that demonstrates Micay’s screenwriting inventiveness. The entire story is put in front of the camera and is conveyed by the characters’ viewable actions. It’s entirely absent of expository dialogue and the achievement befalls only the best screenwriters.
“I actually love creating stories without dialogue because it pushes you to really tell a story visually,” said Micay, a Vancouver native. “These days a lot of films over explain, but the audience often prefers to put the pieces together on their own.”
Said Lee, “The script seemed really fun and quirky and I’m all about quirky. Plus, the idea that it was a silent, slapstick style comedy was very appealing to me because as an actor there is such a fun physical exploration to the characters.”
Growing up, Micay absorbed influence from shows such as “Friends” and subscribes to the writing convention that situational comedy is driven by strong characters. So is the case with “Limited Engagement,” where she created a dynamic leading female that carries the story in many scenes all by herself, all the while executing the needed comedic, situational mishaps.
“The audience really stays with Kate and goes through the struggle with her. You feel her pain and her happiness,” Micay said.
The character had familiar feelings for Lee and also hit close to home. She said the best part of acting in the role was “how relatable Kate is to most women. I was going on four years in my own personal relationship and was watching friends settle down left and right. Making Kate relatable and likeable gives the audience the ability to sympathize with her and also want to follow along on her journey to see what happens.”
From a producer’s standpoint, Micay was charged the task of finding a dog that would play an integral role. Kate’s plight within the story is incited to a peak when her dog accidentally swallows her ring. Kate discovers its whereabouts using a metal detector and winds up getting it back using a laxative.
“It could happen to anyone and likely something similar has happened,” Lee said. “You can’t help but laugh because everyone knows.”
Micay says implementing the dog, Chachi, was the biggest challenge to the production. “Even though he is a professionally trained entertainment animal, it was still much harder than a human,” she said. “We had him on set one day and had to get everything we needed in a very short period of time.”
Casting the human actors, on the other hand, was a different experience. “When casting, we needed people who were very expressive, but natural at the same time. Both Katie and Rex auditioned and it was clear that they were very talented,” said Micay. “They were both a great joy to work with. They really wanted to collaborate and help my vision reach the screen.”
Micay is known for her previous writing and producing of “Flirt,” a Reality Bytes Film Festival Official Selection, “My So Called Family,” that was an Official Selection at the Bel Air Film Festival and “The Firefly Girls,” which screened this month at the Sonoma International Film Festival.
“Limited Engagement” achieved critical acclaim as it received an Award of Merit at the Women’s Independent Film Festival. It was also an Official Selection at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival.
The 2012 film was dedicated to Micay’s great aunt, Clara Nelson. “She passed away before I made “My So Called Family,” which is loosely based off the week she died. She was a stand-up comedian that loved to tell a good dirty joke. She just loved life and family. When I moved to Los Angeles, she really helped make it home for me.”
Director Merve Tekin is having quite a year for comedic films, and on Friday night, her short film Honey Pot made its World Premiere at Hollywood’s celebrated TCL Chinese Theatre.
“I’m so honored that we made our premiere in the Chinese Theatre. The theatre was full. Many of my friends couldn’t find tickets,” said Tekin. “Hollywood Comedy Short Film Festival made a great job by putting this event together.”
Honey Pot stars Mark Kelly, known for his role as Dale in Mad Men, and his starring role in the Duplass Brothers film The Do-Deca Pentathlon. Kelly leads the comedy as Frank, a lonely farmer whose only interaction with the female form is by artificially inseminating cows for a living. He proudly call himself “The Inseminator!”, the alternative name for the film. This is until he picks up the dippy blonde Donna on the side of the road, who is in need of some help. Frank’s loneliness and manly needs cloud his better judgement. Donna is played by Brianna Oppenheimer.
“Everytime people laughed out loud, Mark was gripping my hand to share in this happiness,” said Tekin. “It is a beautiful feeling to make people laugh. It is so nice to share those happy moments.”
“Shooting a comedy film is tough,” she said. But the challenges that Tekin was presented with seem minimal now, as Honey Pot has been officially selected for six short film festivals so far. These include LA Cinefest, The Texas Ultimate Shorts Film Festival, TMFF, UCLAxFilmFest, IFS (Independent Filmmakers Showcase), and The Hollywood Comedy Short Film Festival where the film premiered.
Tekin is no stranger to success, having directed more than 20 different television programs in her home country of Turkey. The last program she directed for over 600 episodes was titled Shopping Monster, which was sold to 22 countries around the world. Her first feature film, Yes, It Is a Camel, is also set to start production later this spring.
“Merve is the director you dream of as she knows what story she is telling, and demands with a nourishing touch at getting that story told, all the while trusting the actor for giving his or her input as well,” said Kelly. “Merve handled the challenges of a tight schedule and budget with grace and fed me and the other actors with all the food we needed to tell the story. She also had the capacity to roll with needed choices that allowed us to tell her story under fire.”
Calli Ryals, known for the feature film Stick It, starring Jeff Bridges, as well as her work in sketch comedy with the world-renowned Second City, also wrote, produced, and acted in the short film. Ryals found there was a lot of chemistry working with Tekin. She described it as “Yes And” writing chemistry.
“Merve would throw out an idea, and I would go YES! and then I was off the ground writing a scene,” she said. “This was my first short film as a writer/producer. I was really lucky to have this first time experience with someone like Merve. She pushed me to set high expectations for myself and the project, and exemplified true leadership. Even when times got really stressful, as they do especially in low budget film making, she was able to keep a calm demeanour and push through, always keeping a strong end goal in mind.”
Ryals, Tekin and Kelly all agree that they were a well oiled team, where working together was not only successful, but fun.
“I feel very lucky that I worked with Mark. He is a real talent. He contributed a lot and improvised a lot in this movie,” said Tekin. “Calli was involved in every aspect of this project, she co-wrote it, she produced it and she acted in it. She was always with me during the process. We are still working together for future projects.”
“Mark added so much to the character that wasn’t written. In between takes, he would say ‘What if I did this?’ And Merve let him run with it. Merve let him improvise the takes and he would have everyone in stitches,” described Ryals. “Had I known he was so dang funny I would have budgeted in muzzles for the crew members.”
“I hope I get another opportunity to work with Merve and Calli Ryals as I felt we had a great balance in juggling all of the demands of a tight schedule and still walked away feeling like we achieved our creative goals,” said Kelly. “Merve knows when to leave the actors alone when things are creatively on par and when the step in when we go off the rails and need her guidance. She is an absolute pleasure to work with.”
Tekin desribes the entire process of making this film as fantastic.
“We gathered great spirits together for this project. We stayed in a RV park in the middle of the desert with 17 people. We were shooting during the day and having barbecue parties at night. Locals joined us, we ate together, we drank together,” she described. “Keeping motivation up is one of the biggest duties of the director. People felt like they belonged to the project. What we laughed about during filming was what made people laugh in the screening.”
Tekin was very successful in her goal of keeping motivation up and ensuring a positive work environment on set.
“She is so passionate about film making, always learning, watching, using references, observing people in real life,”said Ryals, still describing working with Tekin. “She is the ‘reel’ deal, pun intended.”
After multiple life-threatening sports-related injuries suddenly derailed him from a future as a professional athlete, college student Ross Radcliffe turned to his interest entirely to his other love, cinematography. Born and raised on Vancouver Island in Canada, Radcliffe became motivated by the idea of seeking out remote corners of the world and capturing them on film. Turning the hours he would have spent training into hours submerged in film making, the revolutionary cinematographer quickly became recognized as among the top of the field.
When asked what it was about cinematography that captured his interest, Radcliffe answered without hesitation. “To be a cinematographer is to be a visual storyteller,” he said. “I get to craft images that effectively move the audience through a story, with all the twists and turns of emotions along the way.” And that he does.
Radcliffe began by shooting and editing his own projects, which quickly secured him a position with Susie Films, a full service, pitch to post production company. At Susie Films, Radcliffe’s love for the industry flourished, and before long, his insurmountable talents were recognized by major reality TV networks. National Geographic quickly hired him as a freelance cinematographer, followed quickly thereafter by both Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.
With work pouring in, Radcliffe admits that his physical stamina and limitless capabilities are invaluable to networks filming shows revolving around high paced, action packed adventure. “I think a big responsibility of mine, due to the type of projects I shoot, is to stay on top of my physical conditioning,” says Radcliffe. He continues, “when I film a subject, I want to make sure their are no barriers between the story and the audience, so I have to be a pro at following along, no matter the conditions or situations might be. In my field, a good cinematographer blends into the situation to let it play out as naturally as possible.”
It is because of this physical endurance and artistically trained eye that audiences have the incredible adventure-based reality shows we see today. For example, Radcliffe worked as the Director of Photography on The Travel Channel’s Jackson Wild. The series revolves around the EJ Jackson, a 4-time world champion and adventure author and founder of Jackson Kayak, and his brave and fearless family. During this production, Radcliffe followed the family to Germany, Austria, South Africa, England and Zambia, where he faced what he calls a “crazy challenge” of keeping up with them physically. Radcliffe recalls of the experience, “I was able to capture mountain biking through Europe and waterfall jumping in Africa but, for the record, running around Africa with a 40 lb camera on your shoulder isn’t easy!”
Trekking through the freezing temperatures of an Alaskan winter was no easy task, either, though through his beautifully captured images used in National Geographic’s Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet, Radcliffe made it look graceful and effortless. As the Director of Photography, the tactful cinematographer followed Dr. Oakley day and night and captured irreplaceable footage of the veterinarian as she helped a weak cow deliver an over sized calf. Radcliffe recalls the experience fondly, adding “while this project was extremely demanding physically and sometimes entailed stepping in stinky animal droppings or running from an angry muskox, I was honored to be part of such a small, hand selected team.”
No longer a stranger to Alaska by any means, Radcliffe was hired next for his technological brilliance and insurmountable endurance by The Animal Planet and Discovery Channel to shoot The Last Alaskans. Ranked second in the network’s most watched shows, the program is internationally acclaimed for its genre-busting take on the people and families who reside in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, located just above the arctic circle. Radcliffe’s contribution to the series gained recognition in The New York Times and The Washington Post, hooking viewers with depictions of unimaginably challenging living conditions, matched only in magnitude by the stunning beauty of the terrain.
To the great advantage of audiences worldwide, Radcliffe’s deep desire to put himself into other people’s shoes through the magic of cinematography will never fade. He admits, “being a cinematographer is the only job I have ever had that doesn’t feel like work. Every day that I wake up on location, I truly cannot believe how lucky I am. I’m honored and humbled to be instrumental in telling stories about people and places that would have gone otherwise unnoticed.” With his rare and refined compounded talents in both technology and athleticism, Radcliffe is sure to bring us uniquely captivating and alluring images for years to come.
There was never a moment of doubt for 22 year old Alison Balnar. The feeling of uneasiness that haunts so many millennials who don’t know which career to chose was never an issue. From the first moment she stepped onto a stage, she knew what path to take.
Now, 12 years later, Balnar has moved on from the small town to the big city, and from the stage to the screen. The Guelph, Ontario native has recently been cast in the web series Bloggers.
“It feels nice to be cast in a web series where there is a genuine complexity to all of the characters,” she said.
Balnar has been cast as the role of Carla, the youngest of all the bloggers whose area of blogging is in urban culture, the latest trends, and following celebrities.
“She isn’t just your typical one-layered type of character. She has no fear of speaking her mind, but at the same time she has a lot to learn,” she said. “She is also sarcastic and I have a flare of sarcasm, and we’re both Canadian.”
The character of Carla, which was written specifically for Balnar, is one of six of the main bloggers that the show follows who work for one popular website, “You’Nique Blogging”. Each blogger has been recruited by Anna, the founder of the company.
“As the team begins to work together, opinions differ, egos get in the way and each character’s personal struggles are exposed,” described Balnar. “Each episode reveals how successful millennial entrepreneurs figure out what it means to have extraordinary jobs, real friendships and meaningful lives in a world that promotes the opposite.”
A key element of the show is that all six starring actors are international. The cast members, including Gino Lee, Lucas Zaffari, Gioya Tuma-Waku and Ellinor Taflin come from various places around the world, which adds a unique element to the show and each of the characters.
“It’s great,” said Balnar when discussing this important aspect to the production. “It is incorporated into each character, which is really nice for each of the actors.”
The show’s creator and executive producer is Anele Morris. She also plays the role of Anna in the production.
“I’ve seen Alison’s work first hand, she is not afraid to go where the character needs to go,” said Morris. “She respects the story and takes on a role with no reservations about who might think what of the character, and that is very important for the essence of her part in this series.”
Balnar likes the challenge that playing Carla brings her. It is a different role than she is used to, and the change allows her to tap into parts of herself that she has been unable to do in previous roles.
“I always play more gentle characters who are close to I am,” she said. “But Carla and I are similar in the sense that we both have great ambition. We both started to pursue our career at a young age and where the odds are more against us in succeeding. She lets her passion and her drive overcome that.”
With the role being written specifically for her, Balnar did not have to go through the typical auditioning process, which she described as a welcome change.
“When I go to an audition, I go and sit in a room with ten other brunettes who kind of look like me,” she said. “Knowing this role fits me is a gift.”
Bloggers is set to start filming shortly and will premiere in the late Spring. The web series is a chance for Balnar to express herself while exploring her passion.
“The feeling I have in the theatre or on set, it is a feeling that I can’t ignore,” she said. “I am a person who believes in doing what you love. If you can combine work with love, then success is the result.”
The award-winning film and TV director Marcelo Galvão has selected Beto Araujo as editor for his forthcoming feature western movie, “The Bounty Hunter.” Araujo, an 18-year editing master in advertising, music videos and TV, brings a world of talent and experience to the forthcoming production.
Galvão penned the script and the story follows a feared killer living in the countryside of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco between the 1910s and 1930s.
“Beto was highly recommended by my friend and colleague, Fernando Sanches, and after meeting him and talking about the project, I believe he has the skills and the passion that I’m looking for,” said Galvão.
The film is being produced by Galvão’s production company, Gatacine. It is scheduling to film in Brazil and release next year in the U.S. and Brazil. As a release in Brazil, the western will be titled “O Matador.”
“This film is one international audiences will gravitate towards,” Araujo said. “It has a great cinematic story, dynamic characters, drama, action and it’s all set against the beautiful backdrop of early 20th century Brazil. Marcelo is an amazing, award-winning director who can deliver this western period piece in an extraordinary way.”
Creative, achieved, talented and recognized internationally, Araujo edited four episodes of HBO Latin America’s, “Psi,” including the series’ pilot and Season 1 finale. He edited a MTV VMA nominated music video for the Brazilian rock band, Nação Zumbi, and has edited hundreds of commercials and advertising promos including for brands such as Coca-Cola, Google, Samsung, VW, Ford, Visa and many more.
“Beto’s body of work shows the kind of versatility I was looking for in an editor,” Galvão said. “His work for HBO was nominated for Best Drama on last year’s international Emmy and his diverse work in advertising covers almost every possible editing style. All of that shows me that he is a passionate professional that put his best on all his projects and I want this passion and dedication on my project.”
Galvão, from Rio de Janeiro, wrote, produced and directed the 2014 feature drama, “Farewell.” The film told the story of a 92-year old man who decides it’s time to say goodbye to all that’s important in his life, including his lover who is 55 years younger. It won 15 international film festival awards including Best Film at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival. Galvão is also known for directing the award-winning films, “Buddies,” “La riña” and “Quarta B.”
For “The Bounty Hunter,” plot details are being kept under wraps, but the story features a captivating protagonist who was abandoned as a baby, raised in the wild by a bounty-hunting bandit and eventually becomes a feared bounty hunter himself.
The film will have story elements of old-fashioned vigilante justice, drama, action and revenge. The characteristics of the premise drive the editorial strategy and also create an opportunity within the filmmaking process.
“I believe that Western period movies made nowadays have a total freedom regarding editorial approach,” Galvão said. “For me, “The Bounty Hunter” requires editing skills both drama and for fast-paced action sequences.”
It’s a challenge Araujo is ready to oversee. He’s experienced with fast cutting and also knows how to strike the balance needed with slower, dramatic scenes.
“Cutting dramatic scenes and action scenes differ in terms of pacing, sequencing, tone and seamless continuity,” said Araujo, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. “With drama, the beats are slower and we’re serving the story that’s being driven by the characters who are layered and evolving. With action and fight sequences, it’s about creating the desired speed and tempo, and visually presenting what’s happening with a real force behind it. We want to make the action authentic and stylized, but also show the movements with clarity so the audience can see what’s unfolding.”
Previously, Araujo edited “O Desejo de Saiuri,” a short film from writer-director Fernando Sanches, and “The Side of the Door,” from writer-director Joao Simi.
He edited Getty Images’ “85 Seconds” campaign that won many awards including the 2013 Gold Lion for Editing, the 2014 Gold for Best Editing at the El Ojo de Iberomerica and the Bronze award in Editing at the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards.
Among Araujo’s many other editing accolades, he cut the “Black and White” commercial for Skip, a laundry detergent manufacturer, that won a 2010 Cannes Silver Lion. He also edited BIC’s “Declaracao de Amor” (Declaration of Love) spot that won the Bronze at El Ojo and was shortlisted at the renowned Cannes Film Festival.
Polish actress Diana Matlak is no stranger to success. At a young age, she mastered the art of dance and rose to the world stage. Now, she is gracing the big screen and working with some of Hollywood’s top talent.
Matlak has been cast in two leading roles recently. The first of which, the highly anticipated upcoming film The Train Trip (previously named Company of Women), Matlak will work alongside cinematographer John M. O’Connor. O’Connor previously worked on the blockbuster Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. Matlak will also be working with a familiar face, director Joseph Brandon. The two previously worked together on the short film Coincidental Romance, which is now in a film festival circuit and it got already accepted to The Indie Fest in La Jolla.
“I worked with Joseph Brandon before, and I have to say that he has a very unique way of telling a story,” said Matlak. “He is very demanding, but at the same time he trusts his actors and gives them freedom when it comes to making choices. When we collaborate our styles mix together perfectly.”
Brandon chose Matlak to star in his film based on her talent and commitment to her roles.
“Working with Diana always makes my job as a director a more enjoyable process. I can always rely on her to be there for me, on time and ready to work hard. That is all I can ask for from anyone on any project,” he described. “She always comes with questions for me about her character and sometimes she answers them for me. She is very dedicated and that is what makes her such a great actress and easy person to work with.”
The Train Trip is in preproduction with filming set to begin in June. It follows the story of an architect named Jimmy. Jimmy travels by train on business and has an argument with his selfish girlfriend. He then battles the temptations of a sexy train attendant who wants to party. Matlak plays the role of Hannah, Jimmy’s girlfriend, who despite her self-indulgence loves Jimmy very much.
“It feels amazing being cast in The Train Trip,” she said. “I really can’t wait to play this character.”
Joseph Brandon plans on submitting the film to prestigious film festivals like Sundance and Cannes.
After playing the selfish but endearing character of Hannah, Matlak will have her second starring role in the feature Maneater, directed by Stephanie Nauli Moningka.
“I wanted to be in this film,” described Matlak. “It shows that many times, when everything seems perfect, it is not. We can’t judge book by its cover.”
In Maneater, Matlak plays the leading role of Lotta. When everything seems ideal, it’s just the beginning. She has the perfect house, the perfect man, her perfect friends and her perfect career. Nothing can go wrong at this point. Then her status quo meets its match during her in-house photo shoot. In fear of loosing everything she has worked for, she fights to keep her reputation before it slips away. The film is still in pre production with the hopes of starting shooting in this summer.
Versatility is clearly one of Matlak’s specialities, and acting was clearly something she was meant for.
“I love acting. I love telling stories and portraying different characters.I love the fact that I can play someone who is totally different from me,” she said. “Thanks to acting I can learn about myself.”
It is clear to audiences that a talent like Diana Matlak will have many more opportunities to tell stories as her acting career continues.
The award-winning sound designer Veronica Li has proven herself as a talented and invaluable individual when it comes to the art of storytelling through sound. Her knack for effectively enhancing a film with her sound work is showcased throughout her most recent success, the short film, “Looking at the Stars,” written and directed by Alexandre Peralta.
Originally from Changchun, China, Li was first introduced to her craft while attending school at the University of Southern California (USC), where the art of creating sound design initially sparked her interests. “I remember when I first started doing sound design, there was a scene where a woman walked out of a hospital very upset, and my professor told me that I should make the sliding door close behind her sound like a sigh,” Li recalled. “That was the moment I fell in love with sound.”
Li’s time at USC provided her with many opportunities to collaborate on several strong, student projects. One of her earliest works titled “STAND,” consisted of a documentary about Krump Dancers in Southern LA. “It was very successful at several film festivals, and also won the Outstanding Achievement in Sound Award at the First Film Festival,” Li said.
By way of excellent recommendations, Peralta connected with Li after making contact with her during his search for a post-production sound designer for “Looking at the Stars.” Even before seeing the project, Li was enthralled by the story on its own, and also noted it as a great opportunity for sound design. “When Alex showed me the first cut, I was so moved by it,” said Li. “I loved the characters, their stories and the look of the film and thought, ‘I have to work on this project.’”
The film takes place in São Paul, Brazil, and follows the lives of extraordinary ballerinas who attend Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind, the world’s only ballet school for the blind. Peralta, a Brazil native, read about the ballet school one day in a magazine. After reading up on the school, Peralta said, “I realized that I lived two blocks away and would walk by the school almost everyday. Everything started out as a curiosity; I wanted to know how they were able to teach something so technical and visual like ballet to visually impaired people. When I visited the ballet school for the first time, I was even more fascinated. It was a lively and inspiring place, and I learned that ballet played and even bigger role in these girl’s lives. I needed to tell some of their stories.”
“Looking at the Stars” was aimed at inspiring a visually impaired audience, ultimately making it so that having, “A great sound design was almost more important than having a beautiful picture,” Peralta said. From the beginning, he knew that having a sound designer who understood this idea and possessed a unique talent would be essential in ensuring the film’s success. “We wanted it [the sound] to be immersive and poetic like the images that we captured. Veronica brought even more than what I expected. It became a much better movie after her amazing work.”
Li sound designed the short on her own with the help of two Foley artists. Said artists aided in capturing mainly dance moves, footsteps and other various close touching sounds.
The majority of the editing process took place over a holiday break when Peralta and Li were apart from one another, Li in China and Peralta in Brazil. “We thought the distance might create some communication issues, but it actually went very smoothly,” Li commented. “I sent him every path and he would give me clear feedback. He was also always very helpful with anything I requested of him, like recording more ADR or helping me gather Brazilian ambient sounds.”
Despite the extensiveness of the project, the team was given the same amount of time as other USC student thesis films to complete the mixing of “Looking at the Stars.” However, unlike the other student theses, Li had three different versions of the short film to mix. “It was very challenging just to get the work done,” Li said. The final product included the completion and delivery of a normal mix, a mix with English description for blind audiences and one with Portuguese description for the Brazilian release. “I’d never mixed a film with audio description before, and in order to fit the description, we had to adjust a lot of our original dialogue and sound design,” Li explained.
While perfecting the sound design for “Looking at the Stars” came with challenges, the project also allowed Li to showcase specific skills in addition to acquiring new ones. Not only did the short feature Li’s dialogue editing abilities, it also provided her ample opportunity to implement her own unique creative design.
“The sound design of the film is subtle and very effective emotionally,” Peralta explained. “You are not necessarily aware of the sound work, but you can feel it, and that’s how good sound design should be. I really like the little details that came from Veronica’s work; some of the memorable moments are in the dance sequences. When we were picture editing these sequences, they used to be like music videos. After the sound work, they became much more emotional and you could feel them in a totally different way.”
The short was awarded the Documentary Gold Award in the 42nd Student Academy Awards, one grand achievement out of many for Li. Regarding the award, Li said, “Winning the Gold Award means the project is a great film as a whole, including all aspects of filmmaking. The Student Academy Awards is one of the biggest student film awards in the world. Being a part of a team whose project won a Student Academy Award is definitely a great honor for me.”
While Peralta and Li were new to collaborating with one another prior to “Looking at the Stars,” their partnership will continue to grow throughout a second rendition of the short, as a feature film version of “Looking at the Stars” is currently in the works. “I felt the short was like a simple melody where we just follow the arc as it builds up to the end climax. The feature is more like a polyphony where we have to balance several different melodies and make them work well with one another,” said Li. This new interpretation will introduce another main character, while the stories of the short’s current characters will undergo an increase in complexity.
The release date of the feature version of “Looking at the Stars” is still to be determined, however, the post-production sound mixing is set to begin in April of 2016.
When it came to Li’s contributions to the short style of “Looking at the Stars,” Peralta commented, “I can say that there was a movie before and after sound design. She definitely took the movie to another level. I am so glad we are working together again on the feature version of “Looking at the Stars.””