Spotlight on Canadian Actress Cecilia Deacon!

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Canadian actress Cecilia Deacon

 

Often, the pursuit of one’s dreams takes a leap of faith, and this is especially true for prospective actors. To get one’s foot in the door as an actor requires a great degree of luck; to actually walk through the door and find lasting success requires charisma, poise, and most of all, talent. Cecilia Deacon has all of those qualities in spades, and the actor’s long list of diverse credits speak volumes to her enormous dedication.

Her leap of faith began with her journey to New York at 17, to attend the prestigious acting conservatory, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As an AADA alum, she is in the company of Hollywood giants Robert Redford, Danny DeVito, and Lauren Bacall, among countless others. Shortly after graduating in 2013, Deacon was featured in the hit comedy “Delivery Man,” starring Chris Pratt (“Parks and Recreation,” “Jurassic World,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Vince Vaughn (“Wedding Crashers,” “The Internship,” “Old School”). The decision to cast Deacon in the star-studded and uproariously hilarious film is a testament to her talent as an actor.

Deacon just finished work on her most recent project, “The Transcendents,” in May. Directed by playwright Derek Ahonen, the film tells the story of a group of people who were once tied together by the music scene, but now find themselves at odds. Faced with a range of obstacles, each must either overcome their personal challenges or be crushed beneath the adversity.

“[The film] is essentially a Rock n’ Roll, PTSD driven, film noir,” Deacon described. “There are so many different elements to it.”

Deacon was cast in the role of Cecilia, the film’s protagonist, whose true love has been long-absent in her life. Tragedy, heartache, and disability have shaped Cecilia’s life; however, despite arguably having the most reason to be upset with her circumstances, she remains a steadfastly optimistic beacon of hope to those around her.

The story, at its core, is essentially about people trying to overcome – to transcend – the painful experiences that have shaped them,” she said.

In addition to her work in film, Deacon has also been featured in a number of television and serial roles. She was cast in the lead role of a particularly chilling episode of the popular Investigation Discovery series “Deadly Sins.” For the young women before her, becoming romantically involved with the episode’s antagonist proved to be a death sentence. Deacon played Stormy, the sole survivor of the homicidal adulterer’s dark machinations.

In the more light-hearted series “Catch-30,” Deacon played the lead role of Sandra, a well-to-do young woman making her own way in the world. Sandra is the core of a tight knit group of twenty-somethings who find their friendships with one another tested by life, love and sex in the adult-world.

“Sandra was the privileged one in her group of friends, all glamour and gold. For all that she For all of her overt confidence, she was intensely vulnerable.” Deacon said. “She hid it behind the mask of what everyone expected her to be. ”

Playing Estelle in No Exit with Christopher Wharton and Regina Blandon; play directed by Derek Ahonen
Cecilia Deacon (L), Christopher Wharton & Regina Blandon (R) in “No Exit”

Her experience acting in film and television is extensive, but Deacon has never strayed far from her roots in theater. Prior to her starring role in “The Transcendents” she had the opportunity to work with the film’s director, playwright Derek Ahonen, in his 2011 play “No Exit.” Deacon played Estelle in the production, which was an existential examination of the limits of human resilience in the face of unimaginable strain.

“It challenged me as an actor in a way no role has since,” recalled Deacon. “It was an exercise in despair; discovering what was each our own personal hell. But the most difficult thing about playing Estelle was not even that we were in hell; it was that the character herself found safety in all the places that I myself do not.”

Whether on stage or in front of the cameras, Deacon has proved herself to be an immensely talented actor whose versatility knows no bounds. With a charisma that most people only dream of, she is a born performer; and her audience eagerly awaits her next move.

Legend of the Fall: Russian-Australian Actor is an ‘energetic fulcrum’ when it comes to performing

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Russian-Australian actor Peter Fall has excelled in his roles in international film, TV, commercials and stage productions.

Actor Peter Fall has been wowing international audiences for his outstanding character portrayals spanning action-adventure, mystery, drama, comedy and more. The Russian-Australian talent — who formerly went by Igor Fall — is classically trained and owns a myriad of specialized skills that make him recognized, praised and sought after by Hollywood movers and shakers.

Fall, 30, parlays his personal experience into an exploration of character in each of his performances. While growing up, Fall spent time living in Europe, Asia and Australia. He speaks English, Russian and Korean, and has mastered dialects including Australian, British, Irish and South African, among others. Fall embraces physicality when it’s demanded of his roles and is a skilled sportsman and former Australian National WTF taekwondo champion.

He’s been living in Los Angeles since 2010 and underwent training at the renowned Stella Adler Conservatory and Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Whether for the stage, award-winning short and feature films, TV or commercials, Fall has stood out as a gifted actor with dynamic range, engagement and authenticity.

“I’ve always had a great love of acting,” said Fall, who started performing seemingly since birth and signed with his first talent agent at the age of 10. “I’ve studied the art of acting with some of the world’s finest practitioners. I’ve had the chance to act alongside some supreme talents and for some world-class filmmakers. Through it all, I’ve applied the strategy of absorbing and implementing effective technique, and more than anything, being a positive presence on set and in production.”

Fall’s first role on TV came in 2000 in “Beastmaster,” a fantasy series about an adventurer (played by Daniel Goddard (“The Young and the Restless”) who can communicate with animals. As child actor, Fall performed a featured role for Season 1 Episode 10 — “Riddle of the Nymph” — that was directed by the award-winning Brendan Maher.

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Actor Peter Fall (far left) made his TV debut on the fantasy adventure series, “Beastmaster.”

“This was an immersive introduction into the world of television,” he said. “It was an exciting time and great chance to be a part of a series that found international success. The opportunity to act for “Beastmaster” fueled my drive to pursue a performing career at an early age.”

The series ran for three seasons with 66 total episodes and broadcast in America, Canada and Australia. It was derived from MGM’s 1982 film, “The Beastmaster,” and was nominated for awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films and the Australian Film Institute.

Since his move to Los Angeles, Fall acted in “Perception,” a feature mystery film written and directed by Stan Harrington. The movie tells the story of a man who questions his sanity when reality blurs with his own imagination.

Harrington, a 25-time award-winning filmmaker and actor, starred in “Perception” alongside R.D. Call (“Waterworld,” “Into the Wild,” “Murder by Numbers”), Kely McClung (“Blood Ties”) and Blythe Metz (“Nightmare Man”). For “Perception,” Fall acted in the key role of Hoges.

“Perception” tells a great cinematic story and I was thrilled to work with a brilliant filmmaker and terrific cast,” said Fall. “The character, Hoges, is a bit of a catalyst who drives the story. He introduces Athena, played by Blythe Metz, to Marcus, played by R.D. Call. Athena takes on a poor relationship with Marcus and Hoges tries to interject and reason with her. I felt we delivered a solid film that’s a callback to the story-driven approach.”

Harrington said, “It takes a certain kind of excellence to enter films and spin the story like Peter did. It is the best proof of his immense talent and range as an actor to see him do so superbly. His performance was honest, appropriate, and above all excellent.”

Fall thereafter played a soldier in the short drama film, “Red Poppies,” directed by Yaitza Rivera. The film follows the story of a woman (Zulivet Diaz) who was sexually assaulted, but finds a chance at happiness when she meets the love of her life while attending her father’s funeral.

“Red Poppies” was written by the great Tim McNeil, an actor-writer-producer known for his work in “Contact,” “Forrest Gump,” “Starship Troopers” and many more.

“It’s a powerful film with strong thematic elements,” Fall said. “There’s drama and conflict aplenty, but it’s also a touching story of hope and perseverance. I played the solider who attacks the lead, Iris. My part in the story is dark, grim and detestable, something that’s a real performing challenge. It’s difficult to go that far against the grain of who you are as a person, but that’s what acting’s all about. If I can make the audience hate me and root for the leading lady, I’ve done my job.”

The notion vaulted into fruition as “Red Poppies” received a Best Short Film nomination at the 2013 SoCal Independent Film Festival. Diaz was nominated for Best Actress at the festival, Rivera won Best Director and the film was also up for award consideration at the Action on Film International Film Festival.

Film festival judges weren’t the only ones who noticed the captivating acting displayed within “Red Poppies.”

“Peter’s ability to play such a dark and unforgivable character was key to the film’s ability to affect an audience,” said McNeil. “He portrayed the soldier with such a gruesome reality that everyone cringed in their seats and was immediately empathetic toward the struggle of Iris. The technique of an actor is often lost by the non-professional, especially in scenes of such intensity. Only the best actors can work honestly under such duress and employ years of technique to excel in such a despicable character.”

Fall has also routed his cut-above-the-rest acting talent for TV commercials. He acted as a young guitar player in Ubisoft’s “Rocksmith 2014” commercial and as a German protestor for a Sony Mobile spot from Tarsem Singh, director of hit blockbusters “Mirror Mirror” starring Julia Roberts, “Immortals” starring Henry Cavill, “The Cell” starring Jennifer Lopez and others.

The Sony commercial is titled “Always with You” and advertises the global electronics manufacturer’s waterproof Xperia Z smartphone. The spot shows Sony products throughout history and Fall’s role featured him taking a sledgehammer to the Berlin Wall to the delight of a crowd rallying behind his protesting action.

“Peter’s performance was the energetic fulcrum in the ad, bringing the excitement to the screen and loading the audience up for the new product reveal,” said Fall’s agent, Martin Herrera, of the Sherman Oaks, Calif. headquartered Baron Entertainment. “The ability to not only lead a commercial of that magnitude and work with a director of such prominence is exactly why we put him up for that part.”

For the Ubisoft commercial that branded their hit video game, “Rocksmith 2014,” Fall played a young man who selects his first guitar in the game’s debut trailer campaign. The game has achieved best-seller status and has the unique functionality of teaching users how to play the guitar. Fall’s face is the trailer’s opening image that sparks the pace for the commercial, which was directed by David Moodie, producer and director known for his work with games such as “Rainbow Six: Vegas.”

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Ubisoft’s commercial for the video game, “Rocksmith 2014,” featured actor Peter Fall in the role of an aspiring guitarist.

“Acting for commercials and branded content like that is a nuance unto itself,” Fall said. “The goal is to quickly create a lasting message that makes consumers take action and feel persuaded to purchase a product. Acting on large-scale productions with exceptional directors and for companies like Sony and Ubisoft was an altogether tremendous experience.”

Fall’s formidable prowess and career track record typifies acting excellence. His other highlights include acting in McNeil’s film, “Gettin’ Off,” where he plays a man who has a relationship with a prostitute, and in McNeil’s original stage play, “Margaret.”

Fall played the leading role (Edmund) in the Stella Adler production of “Edmund,” written by David Mamet (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), who has won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony and Oscar nominations for his script writing. Fall’s performance as Stepan Stepanovitch in Chekov’s “The Proposal” (Nairn Theatre) resulted in Outstanding Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards at regional and state short play festivals in the U.K.

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Actor Peter Fall (center) performing in Chekov’s “The Proposal.”

He has also starred in “M, M, M! Music, Monologues and Mayhem” (The Theatricians), “The Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui” (Nairn Theatre), “Private Wars” (Lee Strasberg), in Oscar winner Milton Justice’s production of “J.B.” (Stella Adler), “The Diviners,” from writer-producer Christopher Thornton (“Sympathy for Delicious”) and in the film, “Shell Shock” from Levy Lambros.

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Actors Peter Fall (left) and Austin Iredale (right) starred in “The Diviners.” 

Continuing to show up in many productions to come, Fall is attached to the forthcoming comedy film, “Not Summer Camp,” from actor-producer Joshua Marble (“CSI,” “Unusual Suspects,” “The Ex List”). He will also star in the YouTube comedy series, “Little America,” from Cobblestone Productions. Morayo Orija (“Spit”) and Sam Marin (Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning “Regular Show”) will produce. Orija and McNeil will direct. Fall is also starring in the 2017 feature western period drama, “Colt,” about the last week of Russian poet, playwright and novelist, Alexander Pushkin. Fall is co-writing with Austin Iredale and will produce along with Orija and Marin.

Renowned Female Television Writer Contributes To Multi-Cam And Single-Cam Comedy Series’

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Comedy TV Writer Nadiya Chettiar

Nadiya Chettiar is a powerful woman, writer and voice in the world of comedy television. The multi-talented, Leo Award nominated television writer currently based out of Vancouver, Canada has perfected her craft over the past three years, and is now a sought after talent in the film and television industry.

Chettiar got her start on the hit comedy series “Some Assembly Required” in 2013 and has been working on the writing side of the television industry ever since. Starting out as a script coordinator, Chettiar worked on the show for three successful seasons, ultimately climbing the ranks.

Created by Dan Singer (“A.N.T. Farm,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “The Suite Life on Deck”) and Howard Nemetz (“Mr. Young,” “The Suite Life on Deck” and “Smart Guy”), “Some Assembly Required” follows a fourteen-year-old Jarvis who takes ownership of a toy company and hires a group of his friends to aide in running the company and constructing new toys. Kolton Stewart (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” “Saving Hope” and “Angels in the Snow”), Harrison Houde (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “I Dare You), Sydney Scotia (“I Dare You”), Charlie Storwick (“The Stanley Dynamic”), Travis Turner (“A Princess for Christmas” and “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years”), and Dylan Playfair (“Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story,” “If I Had Wings” and “Grave Encounters 2”) star in the series.

Immediately following her first season with “Some Assembly Required,” Chettiar learned of a show that was returning for its second season: “Package Deal.” The two shows were both products of the same production company, and after approaching the producer regarding a job opening on “Package Deal,” Chettiar booked the gig. “It was a total ‘right place at the right time’ type of scenario,” Chettiar explained. “I was lucky enough to be transferred over to “Package Deal” where I got to work with more great writers, and had the added bonus of getting lots of opportunity to pitch jokes, many of which made it to air.”

“Package Deal” was created by the Primetime Emmy nominated Andrew Orenstein (“Malcolm in the Middle,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Good Luck Charlie”) and starred Randal Edwards (“Room,” “The Best Years” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation”), Harland Williams (“Dumb and Dumber,” “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” and “The Whole Nine Yards”), Jay Malone (“Struck by Lightening” and “Dumbbells”), and Julia Voth (“Bitch Slap,” Project: S.E.R.A.” and “Lilith”). The series revolved around a woman named Kim struggling to accept her new boyfriend’s meddling brothers.

On both “Package Deal” and “Some Assembly Required,” Chettiar was responsible for pitching hilarious jokes and storylines in addition to writing. “In any writing room, your main responsibilities, no matter your rank, are to pitch the funniest, most interesting stories and jokes you can, and to help the showrunners achieve their vision. To me, that’s the job in a nutshell,” Chettiar said.

This year, it was made evident that Chettiar succeeded in doing just that. The witty writer was recently nominated for a 2016 Leo Award in the category of “Best Screenwriting in a Youth or Children’s Program or Series” for an episode she wrote on season two of “Some Assembly Required.” The awards ceremony will take place in the film and TV hub, Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 4th, 2016.

“Some Assembly Required” and “Package Deal” are both multi-cam comedies that are shot before a live studio audience. It is because of the audience that multi-camera shows are shot with three cameras at one time. This makes the shooting of the show go by much faster, so the audience can enjoy the show, and the show gets the benefit of the audience laughter, which is all recorded throughout the taping.

Chettiar stated that because of this, the script of a multi-cam show requires a very specific style of writing in order to obtain proper execution – a style she has mastered. “Multi-cam shows are extremely prolific,” she said. “Every episode sees up to five rewrites, and sometimes more. The scripts are read and rehearsed in front of the writers, so we get to see what works (and doesn’t) before we go to camera. The sets are setup in a row, facing the audience. For this reason, the writing centers around using those main sets as much as possible.”

Regarding Chettiar’s talents when it came to this intricate process of storytelling, creator Orenstein commented, “Nadiya was great at pitching on her feet. She pitched some of my favorite jokes.”

Scripts of multi-cam shows are combed over and scrutinized for days so that by shooting time, the cast and crew know them inside and out. This process takes a week total and involves long hours and many late-night rewrites. To be successful in your work, “You need to be easy going and good-natured, because nobody wants to work long hours with a jerk. It’s also helpful to be flexible in your opinions and ideas, because sometimes things aren’t going to go the way you’d hope and you need to be able to change direction on a dime,” Chettiar added.

Orenstein fondly remembered working with Chettiar, describing her as the kind person who was, “Eager to absorb and learn. It made working with her a pleasure,” he said. “Working long hours on set with Nadiya, I had the pleasure of getting to know her. She comes from a really unique and diverse background that has shaped her sense of humor and comedic lens. I always felt confident she would get the job done.”

All that being said, a writer’s work doesn’t stop when they clock out for the day. In fact, it only continues. “In order to survive in the industry, I think you need to be dedicated, and stay practiced,” Chettiar commented. “You can’t stop writing just because you’re not working. To that end, I even try to write my own stuff outside of working hours when I’m on a show.”

Prior to establishing herself as an accomplished writer, Chettiar experienced great success in the world of acting. Not only did her prior training and experience serve as, “A tool to unlocking that part of the brain where the character voices live,” she said, it also granted her the opportunity to pull from her roots and act on either show.

“On ‘Package Deal,’ I got to play a small role along side of Jason Priestly, which was very fun. On ‘Some Assembly Required,’ I got to be in the series finale, which was a total honor. It hasn’t aired yet, so I don’t want to give anything away, but I can say that I was in a head-to-toe fun fur costume and it may have been the sweatiest night of my life,” Chettiar recalled, laughing.

Currently, Chettiar is making the transition into writing for a new, single-cam television show called “Workin’ Moms,” created by Catherine Reitman (“Friends with Benefits,” “Knocked Up” and “I Love You, Man”). This will be Chettiar’s first time writing for a single-cam show professionally, though she is no stranger to the art of it.

The show is very female focused, containing stories of women’s issues told via comedy. In comparison to the two prior shows she’s worked on, Chettiar explained, “The comedy style is very different. ‘Workin’ Moms’ is a much more grounded series so we’re looking for comedy that is coming out of very real characters, in very real situations. It’s really fun. I think it’s reflective of the era we are living in with so many great cable comedies seeing so much success.”

Television has been critiqued for a long time concerning its lack of female personnel in the industry, especially when it comes to writers. While “Workin’ Moms” is a new series that will contain an emphasized female presence, the birth of the show in its entirety means audiences will be presented with, “More comedy written for and by women that deals with real female issues,” Chettiar stated.

“I think that it’s unlikely a man would create a show about working mothers, so that sets the tone for conversations we’re having in the [writers] room. I think it takes a woman showrunner to bring ideas like these to TV, and I’m so happy to be in a position of supporting [Reitman] in any way that I can in that effort. Of course, there are men making great comedy that looks at women’s issues, for example, ‘Togetherness’ had fantastic—some of my favorite—female characters dealing with the complexities and hilariousness of being a woman. Unfortunately that show was cancelled, and with shows like “Girls” wrapping up, my sincere hope is that more new shows will be able to pick up this slack and carry on making great female comedy. I think “Workin’ Moms” could fit that bill, which is very exciting.”

 

Article Written By: Ashley Bower

Game-Changing Journalist Richard Bence Found His Voice at Europe’s Best-Selling Gay Magazine

 

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Journalist Richard Bence

Getting into media can be overwhelming. There are so many different outlets available that fledgling journalists often find themselves asking, “Where do I start?” Now a seasoned multi-platform writer, British journalist Richard Bence asked himself that very question at the beginning of his career.

The professional storyteller has successfully worked in the field of journalism since 1998, his framework of experience including well-known media heavyweights like Ink Global, CoutureLab, Barclays’s Little Book of Wonders, Vind & Vag Publishing, Camberwell Consulting, and BritWeek Magazine. Bence’s lengthy list of credits have established him as a sought after talent in the world of writing, and it all started with the infamous UK magazine, Attitude.

Founded in 1994, Attitude is Europe’s best-selling magazine for gay men. The magazine is available both online and in print and is known for its A-list celebrity exclusives, the latest breaking news, entertainment, style, travel and lifestyle features.

At the start of his career, Bence didn’t want to work for just any magazine. He had his sights set firmly on the men’s style title from day one. “It had to be Attitude,” Bence recollects. “It appealed [to me] because it was in a league of it’s own. It didn’t want to be defined or pigeonholed, and neither did I.” As a result of rigorous hard work and dedication in addition to a relocation in order to gain applicable work experience, Attitude was the place where Bence’s career officially began.

Bence devised, developed and wrote content for the lifestyle section of Attitude. “I was given total free rein, which meant that there really were no limits,” Bence says. He reported on the best places to sleep, eat and drink across the globe while also conducting A-list celebrity interviews. In addition to collaborating with the world’s leading fashion and lifestyle brands, Bence created a more high-end environment, which allowed luxury advertisers to feel safe in a previously unknown territory, ultimately boosting ad revenue in the process.

The work he contributed in his early years served as building blocks and set the framework for his incredibly successful future. Attitude served as a launch pad for Bence’s entire career, including his work as an arts guest critic on TV and radio shows for Channel 4, Channel 5 and the ever so popular VH1.

At the time of the magazine’s inception, a lifestyle revolution was taking place in the world of journalism and media. Magazines such as Wallpaper were at the vanguard of this new subject’s popularity. Bence was given the opportunity to personalize Attitude’s lifestyle section and really make it his own. “This was done by broadening the interiors section to include design news,” says Bence. “I made it more current by reviewing the latest restaurant and hotel openings. In the travel section, I broadened the remit to include destination guides, which you could actually use to navigate through the city, as opposed to just having first person stories. I also made sure we had a well-known reality TV star contribute to the fitness section which helped boost interest in the magazine”, he recalls.

These personal touches added to Attitude’s unique offering and aided in the creation of a lifestyle section that stood out from the rest. “My job was commissioning and editing copy, conceptualizing shoots, future planning in the hard-bitten world of celebrity, brokering deals with PRs, gaining exclusives and keeping the magazine at the absolute top of its game,” Bence remembers. His work covered leading fashion and lifestyle brands ranging from Roland Mouret, Burberry, Gucci, Tom Ford and Dunhill, to luxury hotels, resorts and individual properties like W Hotels, St. Regis, Rosewood, Morgans, Ace, Soho House, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, The Dorchester, Claridge’s and The May Fair Hotel, to name a few. Furthermore, he interviewed eminent hoteliers and chefs, including Ian Schrager, the man who started the boutique hotel revolution, and Yotam Ottolenghi, The Guardian food writer. Bence was also responsible for interviewing internationally famed celebrities such as Pop Idol winner, Will Young.

Former editor of Attitude, Adam Mattera, elaborates on the extent to which his coworker’s contributions enhanced the magazine by saying “you could always count on Richard to stay ahead of the curve with trends and on top of his workload with deadlines. His own writing was always insightful and accurately pitched to our readership while his commissioning of other writers always brought out the best in them. His proactive attitude meant the section soon expanded from a few pages to over twelve at its peak. Richard’s commercial smarts – his targeting of the lifestyle pages – often lead to advertising leads that contributed to the overall financial strength of the magazine,” says Mattera.

Alongside the mainstreaming of “lifestyle” in the public’s vernacular, the early 2000’s were also a pivotal time in the expanding power of the gay market. Attitude began reaching more than just an audience – it connected with a community. After Young won Pop Idol in 2002, his double A-sided debut single “Anything Is Possible” / “Evergreen” was released two weeks after the show’s finale and became the fastest-selling debut single in the UK. Shortly after this release, Young came out to the public. “Attitude’s unprecedented access to a generation of artists, musicians and actors allowed me to chronicle key moments in the cultural zeitgeist, like Mr. Young’s win,” says Bence.

At the turn of the millennium, attitudes to gay men in the media were not as they are now. There was a noticeable sense of prejudice and some latent homophobia. Bence could diffuse these situations easily and was a brilliant journalist who played a significant part in changing these perceptions and prejudices through his work. “We were part of a movement,” Bence says, “breaking down barriers with wit and irreverence and we did it better than anyone. We had clout.”

For twenty years now, cover exclusives with Madonna, Lady Gaga, Daniel Radcliffe, Cher, James Franco, Elton John, Sir Ian McKellen, Robbie Williams, Take That and George Michael have defined Attitude magazine. In the early years, having A-list heterosexual male celebrities like football legend David Beckham actively court the gay audience was a new thing. Bence’s presence actively changed the game in the realm of gay media: “He was a great advert for the magazine, the person from the office you would often send out to meet tricky people that needed persuading into being a part of the world we were creating’ says ex colleague Paul Flynn.

One of the perks of being a smaller magazine at the time meant that every contributing body had a hand in everything. For the magazine’s 10th anniversary in 2004, Bence had to wear multiple hats and organize the event’s red carpet party at a leading London nightspot. “The guest list was jaw-dropping: Elton John, David Furnish, George Michael and Will Young all attended, while the newly launched pop group Scissor Sisters performed live,” Bence recalls. “At one point I had to fight through the crowd to make sure acclaimed artist Sam Taylor Wood, Lulu and Elton got to their table safely, and made sure Elt got his special non-alcoholic beer delivered without a hitch! It was an epoch-defining ‘moment’ in London’s nightlife history.”

A smaller magazine additionally meant close, tight-knit interactions and relationships between each of its core staff members. One such stable mate was Paul Flynn, a prolific London-based writer and pop cultural commentator who writes for i-D, Attitude, Fantastic Man, The Sunday Times, GQ Style and Grazia. Flynn is also one of the co-writers of Enquirer, the brilliant 2012 play about the present state of British journalism. A long-time writing influence and mentor for Bence, Flynn worked alongside him as the Features Editor of Attitude for several years. “Richard was brimming with ideas for original editorial material which would often find its way seamlessly from his pad to the page. He was as good at being managed as he was managing his own pool of contacts. He maintained excellent relationships with often difficult PRs and had a smooth manner extremely conducive to getting good interviews out of his subjects,” Flynn comments of his colleague. “Celebrities like talking to him, he is a good listener and is always determined to tell a fair story, with heart, in which the subject will recognize themselves. He is particularly adept at shifting gear, from the most fantastical report on a new hotel opening to a deeply evocative first person think piece. Overall, he is great at painting a picture with words on a variety of subjects,” says Flynn.

In addition to holding the title of Attitude’s Lifestyle Editor, Bence simultaneously had other full time staff jobs editing various travel magazines at Ink Global. He made it his goal to be the most well-informed and well-traveled lifestyle journalist in London. But for Bence, it was the camaraderie with his Attitude teammates that made his first steps in journalism so memorable. “We created a home away from home for misfits, waifs and strays. It was such a privilege to be part of something like that. Attitude is groundbreaking. It is more than just a magazine – and where I found my voice. No part of my career would have been possible without it.”

For more information on Richard Bence, please visit: http://www.richard-bence.com
To view or read more information regarding Attitude, please visit: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 

Article Written By: Ashley Bower

Sound Editor Xiao Hou Collaborates With Renowned Supervising Sound Editor Martin Hernandez On The Action Packed “Compadres”

Universal talent advances in sound

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Sound Editor Xiao Hou

Xiao Hou is an international sound editor who has been working among various platforms of the audio industry perfecting his craft for eight years. His credits include commercials starring famed celebs like the Los Angeles Clippers and Paris Hilton, and a series of short films such as “Once,” “God Save the Queen” and “Until the Dust Settles.”

Most recently, Hou has acted as the sound editor of the Lionsgate produced feature film “Compadres,” directed by Enrique Begne (“Dos Abrazos” and “Busco novio para mi mujer”) and starring Omar Chaparro (“Pulling Strings” and “Superfast!”), Joey Morgan (“Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” and “Camp Manna”), Eric Roberts (“The Dark Knight” and “The Expendables”), Kevin Pollack (“Special Correspondents” and “Mom”), and Erick Elías (“Qué Culpa Tiene el Niño” and “The Color of Passion”).

“Compadres” is an action comedy film that follows a former cop named Garza, who seeks revenge on a crime lord named Santos, who framed him.

Martin Hernandez, known for the his work in sound on the renowned films “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Birdman” and the Oscar award winning “The Revenant,” contributed as the supervising sound editor of the film.

“I was absolutely thrilled when Martin came to me with the news that he wanted to bring me on board,” Hou said. “Throughout the entire process, he was my mentor. I followed his lead and directions and learned first hand how a high scale film like “Compadres” is put together.”

Hou and Hernandez first met at the screening of “The Revenant,” where the latter later informed Hou of upcoming projects. “Compadres” was the project Hernandez pitched to Hou, who relished the idea of becoming involved.

“Working on “Compadres” was an absolutely amazing and unforgettable experience. Not only was I presented with the opportunity to work with the legendary Martin Hernandez, it was also the first time I worked on a film of such magnitude that required such detailed sound work,” Hou commented.

In post production, Hou was required to implement his creative abilities in order to cut sound effects from different sound libraries and mesh them together in new and unique ways, ultimately producing a desired sound. “For example, I applied a jet engine sound underneath the sound of a cop car to make the effect beefier and more vivid,” Hou offered, elaborating on his responsibilities.

The job of a sound editor is one that requires much patience and detailed work. In fact, Hou recalled spending hours, and sometimes even days, looking for and designing a specific sound that would perfectly match a particular scene. Regarding this rigorous process, Hou explained, “It gave me the chance to utilize all of my resources and prior experiences in order to tailor the sounds to meet the director and supervising sound editor’s requirements.”

“Throughout the entire post production, I followed Martin’s directions and learned how a film like “Compadres” is successfully put together. It was all such an enjoyable experience and was definitely one of the peak moments of my young, professional career,” said Hou.

The final version of the film “Compadres” was released in theaters on March 31, 2016 in Mexico, and on April 22, 2016 in the United States.

Xiao Hou with Martin Hernandez
Xiao Hou with “Compadres” Supervising Sound Editor Martin Hernandez

For more information on “Compadres,” please visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3367294/

For more information on Xiao Hou, please visit:
http://www.xdecibel.com/
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5670635/

Spotlight: Award Winning Cinematographer Martin Kobylarz

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Cinematographer Martin Kobylarz

Cinematography is a delicate balance between the technical and the creative, and Polish director of photography Martin Kobylarz has mastered the art of walking that fine line. Known for his work on both films and commercials, Kobylarz’s projects often raise questions about issues facing society in the past, present and future.

Born in Denmark to Polish parents and educated at the prestigious American Film Institute in Los Angeles, Kobylarz uses his vast and worldly experience to raise the bar for his craft. Recently, he was the cinematographer in charge of the National Autistic Society’s awareness campaign commercial, “Can You Make It To The End?”

“The whole commercial is seen from a first person perspective of a child with autism so it was up to me to find the right gear to give this a realistic feel,” Kobylarz said. “When reading about autism they give very specific definitions as to how they feel and perceive the world when they have sensory overload.”

The public awareness campaign was highly effective, and Kobylarz’s first-person approach played a large part in that success. The commercial’s frenetic and tense style is especially impactful, as if the viewer is experiencing the sensory overload as the child would.

Kobylarz has worked on a wide variety of film productions as well, including the 2012 drama “Wolves From Another Kingdom.” Directed by Christopher Carbone (“Mother Nature’s Son,” “Revivify”), the film centers around a group of children trying to survive after the end of the world. The project holds a rare 9.1 out of 10 rating on IMDb, and brought with it the unique challenge of strictly adhering to the child labor laws governing the cast of “Wolves From Another Kingdom.”

 

“My role included being a key creative figure and maintaining production efficiency, whilst working under strict child labor laws,” Kobylarz said. “My responsibilities also included overseeing and ensuring on-set safety rules and guidelines within my department were upheld.”

With more than 25 actors aged 5 to 17, safety standards were obviously a big consideration on-set. However, it’s a very different story within the ravaged world that audiences see in the film. Tasked with keeping his little brother Daniel safe, Aiden must navigate the ruins of a post-apocalyptic hellscape. When the duo meet a band of children living in the wastes, Aiden must decide whether or not to settle down with the group of dystopian Lost Boys.

“We worked very hard in prep across all departments. Plus I had time to read the script 100 times over and really get into the world of the film, and align myself to the director’s vision. I feel like every shot we made was discussed and thought about in prep,” said Kobylarz, who described the project as his favorite to date. “Of course we were open to spontaneous moments of inspiration when we got to the shooting, but because we were so prepared we knew if it was something that fit the project or not.”

Among Kobylarz’s myriad of other projects are the darkly-romantic drama “Do It Yourself,” as well as the upcoming historical drama “Adrift In Soho,” a period piece about a 1950’s artists’ movement in London to end nuclear proliferation. “Adrift In Soho” is currently in post-production and is scheduled to be released to eager UK audiences this July.

Using Nottingham as a stand-in for London, “Adrift In Soho” tells the story of the activists who pioneered the counter-cultural anti-war movement which evolved into a phenomenon that defined the 1960s Vietnam-era. The exceptional period piece also has the distinction of being the first film to document the origins of a now iconic symbol.

“‘Free-cinema filmmakers’… were documentarians who wanted to film the real people on the streets and everyday life. Coincidentally this was the same time that people started protesting about nuclear bombs and this was when they invented the peace sign that we know today,” Kobylarz recounted. “They used the symbol in their March to Aldermaston, which was a protest march the filmmakers captured. Our film is the first film ever to portray the origins of the peace symbol.”

Because of his unmatched passion for his work, Kobylarz’s projects run the gamut from film to advertising. He learned early in his life that his love for cinematography was a love for all film, and he doesn’t play favorites when it comes to genre or subject. In fact, the productions he’s been a part of are so diverse and his skills so varied that the only thing they all share in common is the exceptional talent and vision of his expertise as director of photography.

POETRY IN MOTION Animator Angela Yu’s Compelling Vision

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Animator Angela Yu: “I love telling stories carrying a message that matters to people.” (photo courtesy of Angela Yu).

With a dazzling visual style, an acute eye for design and a keen ability to overcome unexpected challenges, animator-art director Angela Yu’s boundless technical capacity and artistic creativity are remarkable. Moreover, she has an innate knack for approaching projects with a transformative originality that frequently redefines and improves upon the initially proposed concept.

Yu’s spent her entire life preparing for this, going all the way back to her childhood in Bejing, China. Yu became fascinated by comics, anime and manga books at an early age, covertly defying her parents’ strict bedtime rule to read them by flashlight under her blanket. “I always loved to draw and became obsessed with beautiful things and I wanted to know how to create things like that,” Yu said. “Manga books were my earliest inspiration for drawing—I’d doodle the characters all over my text books. I also loved watching animation, especially Japanese anime—“Dragon Ball” and “Sailor Moon.” I still watch anime these days, such as “One Piece.”

“I grew up in a very traditional family in China, and though I dreamed of being a Manga artist or animator as a kid, I never thought I’d have a chance to do it in reality—because for all my life I had made decisions based on whether or not they would impress my parents,” Yu said. “But when I was 22, I came to America and was studying at Michigan State University, just as my parents planned. This gave me a chance to view my culture from a distance, with a different perspective, and it gave me the space to think independently and the courage to pursue what I really wanted for my own life.”

Once that decision was made, Yu, with an MA in advertising from MSU, did not hesitate. “I studied Motion Graphic Design at the Ex’pression College for Digital Arts. Since I graduated, I’ve worked at studios and agencies such as Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Oddfellows, First person. And I worked on projects for clients like Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Comcase, NBA, Motorola, GE, Adobe.”

“I love telling stories carrying a message that matters to people. It needs to be meaningful. It can be either an artistic short film or a commercial project. As long as I feel what I am creating has a purpose, I find it fulfilling,” Yu said. “It’s all about how strongly I believe in the message I work on, even on a branding video for a digital product. If I believe the message in the video will make a difference to the brand, to people who work for the brand, then I enjoy what I am doing.”

Once Yu brings her talent to bear, the results are impressive. The ability to enhance and elevate has been a hallmark of her career; if Yu is brought in to consult, she’ll envision something that takes the entire project to a higher level; when Yu finishes a task, it often assumes a life of its own, garnering more notice and appreciation than anyone expected, whether a promotional film or a rock music video.

As Dorry Levine, Digital Media Strategist at ReThink Media, describes her: “Angela was easy to work with, very accessible, met every deadline, was flexible with our ever-changing requests, and turned out a phenomenal project that people are still talking about. The video she animated for us was even covered by the New York Times. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat!”

Yu’s artistic vision is a marvel in its own right. Her gorgeous animated short, “This is California,” is a perfect example of the animator’s rich aesthetic. With stunning visual design and flawless animation, it depicts some of the Golden State’s most iconic spots in an arresting, irresistible form that earned Yu the Best Animation award for 2015 at the IndieFEST Film Festival.

Yu’s already impressive roster of successful jobs with some of the world’s biggest companies underscores both her illimitable potential and singular gift for expanding the parameters of any design or animation undertaking. “Angela is the type of person that makes the seasoned artist step up their game, while also reminding everyone what that fire looked like when they first started,” said Mike Landry, Creative Director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Most importantly, Yu loves what she does: “I see animation as music written in pixels. I don’t play music very well, but I am fortunate to find animation as the medium to express my creativity,” Yu said. “To this day today, I still enjoy spending the whole afternoon nerding out a motion curve in the graphic editor. It is a very ‘zen’ feeling. I enjoy my craft, and I never stop creating original content. I want to keep developing myself as a better animator and designer.”

Famed Film and Television Producer Daniel Ariano Facilitates Final Seasons of “O Aprendiz”

Media production expert thrives in producing high-rated television shows

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Daniel Ariano is a seasoned television and film producer with over eight years of industry experience. His extensive list of credits includes hits such as “Ídolos” (Brazilian “American Idol”), “TUF Brasil” (Brazilian “The Ultimate Fighter”) and most recently, “O Aprendiz” (Brazilian “The Apprentice”).

Led by two different hosts over the course of its ten season run, “O Aprendiz” was a Brazilian, business reality show where candidates competed for a contract in a specific that would last at least one year, paid by the program’s sponsor. Competitors were divided into two teams where they were asked to complete a series of tasks that were then judged by the presenter and a panel of counselors.

A natural born leader, Ariano climbed up the latter upwards from his very first position on the show, moving from Production Assistant to Production Coordinator over a span of four seasons. Ariano was a part of seasons 7, 8, 9, and 10 of “O Aprendiz,” his responsibilities varying and increasing as the years progressed.

Prior to his work on “O Aprendiz,” Ariano gained experience with reality television via producing season 4 of “Ídolos,” Brazila’s version of America’s famed show, “American Idol.” His talents caught the attention of director Fernando Viudez, who later connected Ariano to “O Aprendiz.”

Speaking of their collaborations, Viudez provided, “I first met Daniel on the “Ídolos” production. Our crew was big, but Daniel was young and thirsty, and had a way of looking at television production like no one I’d ever met before. I invited him to be a part of “O Aprendiz” and, there, he surprised me even more. He is a leader, and he brought his intelligence and added to an already good TV show, making it great.”

The types of contestants involved and the overall theme of “O Aprendiz” that Ariano worked on varied from season to season. The 7th season followed college students, the 8th entrepreneurs, the 9th welcomed back the show’s original host, Roberto Justus, and the 10th showcased well-known celebrities. “Working on “The Apprentice” was a real challenge for me. I think it’s the most real TV show out there among all other reality TV. You give the contestants a task, and they can do and go wherever they want in order to complete it, so you have to be ready for every kind of situation,” Ariano said regarding his experience.

On the flip side of challenging, the production provided Ariano with luxury of traveling all over the world for his work as a result of his stellar communication skills and problem solving abilities. “Besides traveling all over Brazil, the show was shot in Turkey, Colombia, Orlando, Washington D.C., Italy, and South Africa, to name a few places. On top of location scouting and taking care of legal authorizations, my responsibilities were to follow all of the contestants during each of the tasks, make sure that the history was being told properly and that the logistics between the production crew were always 100%,” Ariano commented.

That being said, the perks of getting to travel for work didn’t come without challenges. “From dealing with flat tires to international travel arrangements for 60+ people, I faced it all,” Ariano admitted. “Traveling is fun when you’re on vacation, but when you travel for work, your mind never rests.”

With it’s multiple, demanding components, even Viudez agreed that working on “O Aprendiz,” “Is a challenge like no other. We chose every member of the production carefully. We have an inside joke that goes, “To be a good producer for The Apprentice, you can’t eat, sleep or sit.” However, joke aside, it’s hard. It’s really hard. And people like Daniel make it easy. He has a light way of dealing with hard situations, and that just makes everyone calmer. At his first season, he was a great producer. By his fourth, he was necessary for the show. Plus, if you enjoy the people you spend the majority of your day with, you will enjoy your work.”

Contestants over the four seasons of “O Aprendiz” ranged from everyday college students and businessmen, to musicians, actors, TV hosts, models, and athletes. For the first six seasons, businessman and TV personality Roberto Justus hosted the show, while entrepreneur, university professor and politician Joao Doria Jr. presented the latter end.

“My favorite episode was from the first season I worked on, the “semifinal” episode,” Ariano said. “It took place in Italy, and on that episode I had to go on camera and disqualify a contestant, Gabriela Gaspari da Costa, because she had broken a rule. The task was to get from one point in Italy to another point, in a different city, without money and without asking for it or for a ride. What you could do was find some work and get paid to do it. Contestants had 48 hours to complete that. What Gabriela did, was ask for a ride and ask for money to buy a train ticket. Since I was the one following her with a hidden camera, I had to disqualify her.”

In the final season of “O Aprendiz” involving celebrity contestants, every icon represented a single charity. The winning participant was volleyball player Ana Moser, who raised 828,000 reais (translated to something around $400,000) for her charity. “It’s always more satisfying when you know your work is going to help someone in need,” said Ariano of the matter. “It wasn’t about the audience, it was about doing the right thing. I gave so much of my life to this show, and knowing that charities benefitted from it made my time and work that much more worth it.”

Ariano stated, “There’s a saying among producers from The Apprentice that goes, “If you can produce The Apprentice, you can produce anything on TV.” And it’s so true. The show puts you on the spotlight constantly, and everyday is a new experience. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something brand new is thrown at you, and being able to live through that makes you grow as a person and as a professional.”

Q & A with Dazzling UK Actor Rob McLoughlin

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Rob McLoughlin as DCI Mills in the film “Suspect 13”

 

We already know through his powerful leading performances in films like “Suspect 13” and “Bio Killer,” that English actor Rob McLoughlin’s dramatic disposition and captivating on screen presence have made quite an impression on audiences.

Early on in his career McLoughlin established himself as a diversely talented actor capable of holding his own alongside industry greats such as Golden Globe nominee Martin Freeman, who McLoughlin acted alongside in one of his first projects on the big screen, the BBC’s “Micro Men.”

Aside from being an extraordinarily talented performer, McLoughlin has the added bonus of being drop dead gorgeous by anyone’s standards. What’s more is the fact that, regardless of whether he’s playing a bad boy criminal like his character in the film “The Fry Up” or a debonair stud, which he portrayed in a recent commercial for Audi (which you can check out below), McLoughlin is a gifted chameleon who is able to easily adapt his look to fit the role.  

 

In one of his most recent films, “Il Sonnambulo,” he applies his remarkable artistry to the horror genre for the first time. His expressive and self-aware nature is serving him well for this new challenge, as the psychological horror featuring a murderous Venetian “Boogey Man” has already won several impressive awards including Vancouver Web Fest’s Best Horror and Seattle Web Fest’s Best Cinematography and Best Director.

With his belief in the power of creativity, his trust in the writing and his engagement in the development of his characters, McLoughlin is a director’s dream. He worked closely with award-winning “Il Sonnambulo” director Doug Rath to create the dynamic character of Roberto Aurelio; an accomplished and somewhat arrogant journalist looking for a big break.

For the recent and first time dad, McLoughlin says, “The subject matter was challenging…although it was so much fun, it was really really dark too.”

It takes a certain positive attitude and passion to cultivate fun on the set of an intense and  murderous horror film, read McLoughlin’s interview below to see how he does just that!

Hi Rob, thanks for joining us! Can you tell our audience where you are from? 

RM: I’m from Liverpool but London has been my home for the past 14 years. It’s a great, fun and  creative city.

When and how did you first get into acting?

RM: When I first came to London I was working as a model. I got into acting that way.  I just got to help out on a couple of unpaid short films. Couple of lines here and there. That sort of thing. I got hooked immediately. I love being on set. I love the process of it all. It’s just so much fun and it is really absorbing to get into the heads of the characters and to tell their stories.

Can you tell us a little bit about the storyline of the film “Il Sonnambulo”?

RM: “Il Sonnambulo” translates as “The Sleepwalker” in Italian. He’s a Venetian ‘Boogey Man’. He is a character that people would warn their kids about, “Be good or Il Sonnambulo will get you.” That kind of thing. He’s really bloody horrible! He kills kids and adults; he mutilates them in fact!

So it begins with a very famous photographer, Atticus Hurst, whose daughter vanished 20 years ago and he’s been taunted by someone claiming to be Il Sonnambulo ever since. This has lead him to many gruesome murder scenes, but his pain of loss and over exposure to the gore has lead him to be somewhat desensitized to it all. Then he teams up with a ‘gonzo’ style journalist, who has forced his way on to the trail of Il Sonnambulo. Things take a very different turn for both of them after that.

How does your character Roberto fit into the story?

RM: I play the journalist, Roberto Aurelio.  He’s a good guy. Was successful in the past winning loads of awards for his war stories when he managed to sneak into Syria to report on the conflict, but the past few years have been quiet for him.  Getting an interview with Atticus Hurst is his big break back into the big time. And oh boy, does he want to exploit that.  Roberto is a fun character.  He’s a chancer, you know? He takes loads of risks. He’s cheeky and arrogant but somehow still remains likable.

How did you approach developing this character for the screen?

RM: I actually sat down with the director, Doug Rath and his wife Hanna and invented Roberto’s back story.  He’s not a million miles away from me personality wise. He definitely looks like me for sure.  I wanted him to be vulnerable but arrogant at the same time.  He has to show balls but he’s scared shitless. And that’s confusing because he thinks Atticus is completely mad, that this is all some spooky crap that Atticus has made up after too many absinthes. However, it’s all too enticing and could get him back on track professionally. I mean, who knows that feeling better than an actor right? Pretty much everything we do is a shot in the dark. Maybe I’m closer to Roberto than I thought. Interesting.

Did you face any challenges along the way?

RM: The subject matter was challenging, I had never done an outright horror film before, and although it was so much fun it was really really dark too. It’s a psychological horror. I think I could have dealt with gore easier. The fact that we were dealing with the horrible murders of babies is what did it, as I had just become a dad for the first time and now I had to put these thoughts in my head.  Yeah, it was really tough, as you can imagine. In fact don’t imagine, I have imagined it for you.

What were some of you most memorable moments during the production?

RM: I broke my nose. All by myself. Actually, I rebroke it.

We were waiting in the green room on set to do a scene at night to be shot in the back of a black cab and I was a bit fidgety. Doug has this cane that he got off a set in Chicago, it was an antique wooden stick with a heavy solid silver bulldog handle. Apparently it belonged to some nasty East End gangster in Victorian London. It was also supposedly cursed. I started spinning the thing around and sure enough I wack myself in the exact place where my nose had been broken 2 months before. I looked around the room and luckily no one had noticed until the makeup girl pointed out there was blood pouring from the bridge of my nose. We were just about to film a scene, man, not good timing.

Has “Il Sonnambulo” had its world premiere yet?

RM: It was shown on the productions own website at Halloween; IlSonnambulo.com. It’s now doing rounds at film festivals and gaining interest from several networks in the States to be shot as a series. It has a lot of legs and the story needs to be pushed on. We left it at one hell of an amazing cliffhanger, so all our fingers are crossed.

Does the film have any upcoming screenings that you can share with us?

RM: It’s been shown at the “Vancouver Web Fest” where it won for Best Horror. It also won Best Cinematography and Best Director at Seattle Web Fest. Its showing in Buenos Aires and Toronto, New Media Film Fest and Montreal Web Fest too. There’s more to be confirmed at this point.

Can you tell us about some of the other film projects you’ve done over the course of your career?

RM: I’ve done quite a few films. My first big film was on a BBC production called “Micro Men” starring Martin Freeman. It’s a true story about Clive Sinclair (Alexander Armstrong) who invented ZX Spectrum home computer and Chris Curry (Freeman), who invented the BBC micro computer which was used in almost every school in the UK. I played one of Curry’s technicians, Nick Toop. The BBC didn’t credit me with the role as I was a late casting, but I’m on the poster! Something I’m still trying to put right 10 years later.

“Suspect 13” was also a highlight in my acting career. Set in a high class private members bar in the city, I played a gangster, who sticks the place up taking all 13 witnesses hostage, and the investigating officer, who accuses all 13 of committing the crime.  It was amazing fun to play 2 characters at the same time. Playing the bad guy is always fun. Written and directed by Sam Walker and produced by his company BloomBox, this was his first film. It was shot in black and white for a very noir feel. Sam has become a good friend since we worked together.

Can you tell us about some of the notable people you’ve worked with over the years?

RM: I spent eight years working at the Royal Opera House in London doing stage combat and stunt work. Working with Placido Domingo on Cyrano De Bergerac and Simon Boccanegra was awesome! I’ve worked with world renowned director David McVicar many times. One of the things I worked with him on was Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) which won several awards. We actually devised an opening scene during the overture which has never been done in the two hundred years of its production so there’s a little bit of history there.

Going from there to films, back and forth has always kept things fresh for me. Working with Martin Freeman on “Micro Men” was great. He’s a super friendly guy. I also told him he was going to play the Hobbit after reading it in Empire Magazine. Something he knew nothing about at the time. I take full credit for that by the way!

They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

RM: That is simple; fun! That’s why I do what I do. I love my job. Love it! I get to make pretend like we did when we were kids, but now I do it for a living. I hope that shows in my performances. One day I’m sword fighting on stage in front of two thousand people and the next I’m on set with fifty people who’ve all shown up because they believe in this script we’ve all read. It’s amazing! That’s the power of it. Everything we do, we believe is the best thing ever. That’s exciting!

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

RM: The story for a start. The experience I will get and what I will learn from it. I’m not financially motivated at all. I leave that to other people. I’ve worked on many things for very little to no money because I believed in the story. You just know when you read the script, “I want to do this!” Everything is in the writing.

Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?

RM: No, not really. I’ve probably played a version of the same character more than once but not that I’ve really noticed. Any similarities in roles I have played have always been far apart enough for me not to notice. So no, I don’t feel typecast in any way.

Out of all of the projects you’ve been in to date, what has been your favorite project, or projects, and why?

RM: Working at the Royal Opera House was amazing fun! I love doing the stunts and training hard. I even went and got a personal trainer qualification off the back of it.

“Suspect 13” was amazing! Pulling off a heist in the middle of the financial centre in London was brilliant. We nearly got arrested by the CID when we began filming as they didn’t realize we had permission to film in the area. Especially dressed in suits with balaclavas carrying baseball bats and concealed guns. That was a memorable moment!

I did a six week run in theatre playing the role of Jean in “Miss Julie.” That was a real eye-opener for me. I hadn’t done much theatre before then so playing the lead in a classic such as that brought it’s own challenges. I learned so much in those 6 weeks. On the last performance, a matinee on a Sunday afternoon, we did a performance for a school. When the curtain went down at the finale a 16 year old kid in the front row said to his friend (not too quietly either), “Thank f*** for that!” “Yep,” I said, “Thank f*** for that!”

What has been your most challenging role?

RM: Erm,…. a couple I think.  I played an abusive husband in “The Loving Brutality.” That was tough as I had to get my head around someone who beats his wife. I had to find some sympathy for the character as that’s the only way you can play it. He’s a bully, a horrible guy, but of course, he doesn’t know he’s bully. It was dark. The role made me feel very weird, I don’t do bullies.

“Il Sonnambulo” was tough, again because of the subject matter. As a new dad, I didn’t expect I would be imagining horrific things happening to babies as part of my job. It was extremely challenging. Doug (the director) felt the same. He had a model made of a dismembered baby for one of the scenes. We couldn’t even look at it. Up close it didn’t even look that realistic but we kept it covered until it was needed. I don’t think it even made the final cut. It was too much.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

RM: Saying all that, I really liked doing the horror thing. We all get a thrill from being scared or creeped out. I’m lucky I got to make one. I would definitely do another one. I also love comedy. It’s so bloody hard to get that right. People always tell me the way to play comedy is to play it straight and I agree on the most part but America loves slapstick. You can’t play that straight. That needs to be amped up. Laughter is the best medicine they say.

What separates you from other actors? What do you feel your strongest qualities are?

RM: I’m me. I don’t look at others and wish I was them. I’m just me. I don’t really blow my own trumpet, I believe I have good qualities though. I have good acting chops! I know I can switch from drama to comedy. Sometimes in the same sentence. We’re particularly good at that in the north of England, and that’s how life is most of the time, isn’t it? I can scrub up ok, don a suit or scruff up quite easily for a role. My normal style is jeans and a t-shirt. I’m witty, I’m intelligent; I was given a good brain and I like to use it. I’m relaxed. Maybe too much sometimes but I’m also professional. I do my job to the best of my abilities every time.

Have you been in any commercials or music videos?

RM: Yes, I’ve done a few commercials. Last year I did a six-part Mark’s and Spencer ad for Valentine’s Day. It was based on an internet date that goes really well thanks to M&S. I also did a commercial for Audi recently. We filmed in Spain and I was strapped to the top of their new cars being driven down an airport runway at 80 mph. That was so much fun. I wanted to do it all week. The hardest part was I was meant to be reading a newspaper and looking really relaxed. Not so easy when the wind is pushing the paper into your face. We used a cardboard one in the end. It was like 100 degrees and I got totally burnt but I really enjoyed it.

What projects do you have coming up?

RM: So, apart from the interest in “Il Sonnambulo,” I’m currently attached to a film called “Betrayal,” written by my friend Malcolm Davies. It’s a really well written gangster drama. It’s in pre-production at the moment but there’s a few big names attached already. I’m set to play the co-lead in this. There’s such a nice twist in this story which sets it apart from the mainstream British gangster film, which usually gets centered around football for some reason.  I’m really looking forward to getting started on it.

What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

RM: I love working. I just want to work. I’m ambitious, I want to carve out a successful career.  I can see myself directing at some point. I would love to write, direct and star in something one day. It’s the life less ordinary, isn’t it?

My family and friends have always supported me and my partner is a rock. I owe it to them to be successful.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

RM: I studied fine art in college. My dad is an artist, my whole family is quite creative actually. We have lots of musicians and singers. It was a natural progression for me. I’ve always been obsessed with movies and I’ve always wanted to make them. I hope I can be behind the camera at some point, but for the moment I’m really enjoying working in front of it. I must be mad!

 

Ishita Srivastava Uses Humour to Help Audiences Connect on Polarizing Topics

 

As a population we are bombarded with an influx of content and information on a daily basis, so much so that it becomes challenging to sift through the over saturated media and find stories that really matter. Regardless of whether someone wants to spread a message about an upcoming event, groundbreaking discovery, or just wants to make a YouTube video with the possibility of going viral, knowing how to produce the message in a way that will reach the most diverse audience and actually have an impact is the most fundamental building block; and, digital content producer Ishita Srivastava knows exactly how to do that.

Some of the projects she has spearheaded and produced digital content for include the “Deport the Statue” campaign that reached over 20 million people in 2013, and the “Be That Guy” campaign, which aired on the Jumbotron at the NASCAR Miami Speedway Championship in 2013 as well as every other NASCAR race across the nation over the course of 2013 and 2014.

What is even more impressive than the reach and effectiveness of the digital content Srivastava has produced to date is the fact that she uses her brilliant skill to create work that spreads awareness and mobilizes people to take a stand against injustice. The issues she focuses on in her work, such as immigration reform, violence against women and racial injustice, notoriously elicit a wide spectrum of opinions. Naturally, you are probably wondering how Srivastava has managed to create content that diverse audiences with clashing beliefs can connect with when it comes to polarizing human rights issues; and the answer is– humour!

As the Producer and Deputy Director of the U.S. branch of Breakthrough, a global human rights organization that she has worked with for the last six years, Srivastava has continually used humour and storytelling as a tool to magically transform issues like gender equality, immigration and race into topics we can come together and see as “human” issues that affect us all.

For the first video of the “Be That Guy” campaign, Srivastava was charged with the hefty task of creating content that would inspire audiences at NASCAR races across the U.S. (an event that notoriously draws a large group of beer drinking race fans, most of whom are men) to stand up against sexual harassment and violence towards women when they see it happening.

Instead of creating a PSA that vilified men (which would immediately turn off a vast majority of the audience), Srivastava created an animated short film that portrayed the sexual harasser in the video as someone we all probably know or have met in our personal lives. The video in no way tried to make us hate him, instead it made us feel a bit sorry for his ignorance, and called on audiences step up and intervene, letting him know “hands are for beer and high fives, to imply, “hey man, that’s not right.”

 

 

Over the years, Srivastava, who has directed and produced countless films including the powerful documentaries “Desigirls,” “Inside- Out: Expressions of Gender and Sexuality,” “Checkpoint Nation” and “Mansimran,” has proven herself to be a master storyteller. So, it’s not surprising that when she was asked to transform the initial NASCAR-fan targeted “Be That Guy” video into a video that would effectively spread the message to audiences at a Green Bay Packers’ tailgate party, she was up to the challenge. Set in an animated version of the Packers’ beloved Lambeau field, the video portrays a crude fan in the stands shaking a hot dog as he makes lewd sexual innuendos at the stadium waitress.

The overall message of these videos is that if an action promotes violence or sexual harassment against women, regardless of how small an act it is, then it is up to us to take a stand and let others know that it’s unacceptable.

About creating the “Be That Guy” campaign and producing videos that would make an impression on these audiences, Srivastava explains, “they were great challenge because they were totally outside of my comfort zone in every possible way.”

While using humour appears to be a seemingly simple approach that helps those with opposing views see eye to eye over issues that under normal circumstances are known to cause arguments, there are few other digital content producers, and even fewer human rights activists, who have been as effective as Srivastava in transforming the way we see many of these polarizing topics.

One of Ishita Srivastava’s most recent projects for Breakthrough is THE G WORD, a global storytelling platform that is transforming our perception of gender norms by inviting people to submit their personal stories and experiences with the subject. After launching in December, the platform has received hundreds of powerful story submissions from people of all ages all over the world, many of them are available on The G Word website: http://us.breakthrough.tv/thegword/

 

G Word homepage

 

In an interview with Sue Ding for Docubase, Srivastava explained, “We invited people, not just women but everybody, to share their story with the invitation that we all have a gender story. They range from everyday experiences of norms to really dramatic stories of discrimination and violence.”

THE G WORD brings together a collection of stories that span a wide range of subtopics such as consent, masculinity, dating violence, the women’s movement, greek life and many others, all of which are connected through the issue of gender. Besides giving people all over the world a platform to share their stories, THE G WORD has made it apparent that many issues that we might not think of as being gender related, actually are. The Chore Challenge, one of the many story categories Srivastava created for The G Word, asks audiences to contemplate what household chores they have taken on and whether they are rooted in gender roles. Simple examples such as young girls being taught to do the laundry, whereas their brothers are tasked with such things as fixing things around the house or mowing the lawn show how gender norms have been woven into the fabric of each and every one of our lives; and that these issues connects us all, whether we realize it or not.

“THE G WORD has been a dream project for me—it is characterized by all the things that I love, the things that get me to work in the morning, Some of the stories we get can be hard to read, but they’re honest and nuanced, and work so well to inspire empathy and make complex and intersectional issues relatable.”

THE G WORD  platform and the impressive collection of ‘videos for change’ that Srivastava has produced to date have not only been astonishingly effective in spreading messages about globally relevant issues, but her unique and thoughtful approach to digital content has made it possible for her work to break through the cultural and perceptual barriers that separate us, in turn providing us with a common ground where we can stand together.