A GUIDE TO PROPER AND IMPROPER VIEWING OF JAPAN

Artists are dangerous; not in a “hold you at gunpoint demanding your wallet or your life” kind of way but rather, they can be highly intelligent people who use their talent to sway both individual and mass opinion/sensibilities. If you upset a writer, they can compose something that addresses you in a subversive way. An actor might deliver the lines in a subliminal tone, guiding you to a feeling that might differ from what is instinctual for you. All that is needed is an Executive Producer to enable them to make it all happen. Combine all three of these with a slightly sarcastic comedic wit and timing and you’ll get Roger Bainbridge…the most interstin…err, dangerous man on Earth…well, at least in Canadian entertainment. Comedians and comic actors get away with saying and displaying some truly awful things by delivering them in a way that shines a light on their ridiculousness. Case in point; Bainbridge had seen many of his friends taken advantage of as unpaid interns. Not only did these people not receive monetary compensation for their toil but, they were quite often not treated with respect. As a writer and an actor with the resources to green light a film, Roger used his role as a part of the Canadian comedy group Tony Ho to create, produce, and present Japan. The film reveals the politics and disrespect (in a very funny way) of the modern office template.

Roger Bainbridge has worn a lot of hats in his career; writer, actor, music video director, executive producer, but he is most commonly associated with Tony Ho (the aforementioned Canadian comedy group). Tony Ho enjoys tackling ideas like threesomes (Wanda), dysfunctional family dynamics laced with time travel (Time), etc. No subject seems to eclectic for Tony Ho. Bainbridge was inspired to write Japan based on the shared office experience many of us have. He explains, “The impetus for writing Japan was seeing a lot of my friends being forced to take unpaid internships at places that really should have been paying them, and seeing how messed up the job market was at the time for people just getting out of school. From there I just thought about what might spurn a change of heart in someone in charge of the hiring. I worked briefly in an office where we did subtitling, so it wasn’t a really traditional office. Everyone had headphones on, pretty cut off from everyone else. No one really spoke to each other, it was all done through e­mail. So I guess I was just left with an impression of people being timid to go talk to anyone, which creates this awkward tension, and tension is really at the heart of comedy.” As the writer of Japan, Roger had the inspiration and the skill to conceive the notes of his comedic sonata and as the EP he could find and reserve the concert hall, he simply needed to proper “musicians” to perform the piece with the delivery and skill that would inspire his trust.

Tony Ho has been creating comedy for over a decade. You don’t stay in any relationship that long unless you have a deep caring and trust of the other(s) involved. Once he had conceived the idea for Japan and written the lines, Bainbridge immediately understood that Tony Ho were the best performers suited to make the film. The trio of Tony Ho has spent more than a decade creating and performing together both live and on screen. Roger refers to Adam Niebergall and Miguel Rivas as two of the funniest and most interesting performers he has ever worked with. Niebergall diverts praise to Bainbridge stating, “He’s a ‘taste maker’ and he’s incredibly compelling. I’ve spent a decade or so working with him in comedy and I still can’t ever see it coming. I’m amazed by Roger’s Vision. He has an unwavering integrity with his comedy. His work is so good because he is always asking himself what he would want to watch and he would never bother making anything that doesn’t pass that test. I think a lot of people write things with the mentality “Oh, this would be good; people are talking about this right now.” and a lot of times that type of thing can come off flat. You can tell when a comedy writer isn’t obsessed with her/his subject matter. Roger knows what he wants to say as a writer and for me that’s always much more compelling to pay attention to. He’s always one step ahead. He thrives on making people think about themselves and it really motivates his work.”

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With the writing of Japan completed and Tony Ho set to star in the film, Roger’s job as EP meant he would acquire the production team that would capture the action of Japan. Henry Sansom was the professional that Bainbridge entrusted to be seated behind the camera. DOP Sansom echoes Adam Niebergall’s sentiments, declaring,” In my experience, Roger Bainbridge is one of the most talented and disciplined minds in comedy in Toronto.   Not only an incredible actor dedicated to craft and context, he is a star writer of subtlety, relevance, and boldness. Without seeming too fellating, if there was only one artist I could work with for the rest of my career, and know that every project was able to reach the highest standard, that would be Roger Bainbridge.” Inspiring confidence in others is the template of Roger’s career, a worthy attribute for someone whom both creates and enables the filmmaking process. The fact that he is so adept at creating the storylines and situations that take place on camera might divert one’s attention from the fact that Bainbridge is such a respected an accomplished actor. A viewing of his many diverse roles and the temperament of his characters serves as a confirmation that he is truly in his element in front of the camera.

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Roger reveals the tone that he wanted for the action on film as he communicates, “In making Japan, we knew we were really pushing ourselves to make something more relatable in tone of comedy, pace, and look, so it was nice to have it be received so well by people who

have seen it. Our stuff can tend to be a bit more challenging, so this was a test to see if we could dip a toe in something a little more mainstream, and people seem to like it.” Centering on the stereotype that the Japanese culture is focused on workplace competition and Karaoke leads Miguel’s character to force Roger and Adam to compete in a sing-off with the winner being awarded a paid position for the company. While Sophie B Hawkins “I Wish I Was Your Lover” has never been so amusing, it’s the flashbacks and narration that empower the performances to have deeper laughs than simply the action might elicit on their own. Japan has a greater level of complexity in terms of the number of sets and number of cast members involved than many of the Tony Ho productions. There is a trait that enables Japan and the theme to be irreverent to the stereotypes that the general public often feels comfortable buying into. Bainbridge agrees, “I think Canadians have a unique take on comedy because we have the benefit of being influenced by both American and British comedy. The British style can be a great deal more subtle and satirical and American stuff can be so in-your-face and broad and angry. I think we have the ability to marry those two influences in an interesting way. I have never been to Japan, and that’s deliberately part of the humor of the piece for me. I like it when people feel like they completely understand a place by just gleaning bits and pieces of their culture as it’s been distorted through media. The larger joke is that these are ideas people may hold about Japan while not actually knowing anything about the place.” Bainbridge is currently in development for TV productions with Tony Ho. With successful comedy albums, his involvement heading films and music videos, Roger Bainbridge is equipped to bring the full package to the home viewing public.

Producer Elena Ioulianou working with Milk and Honey Films all over the world

Elena Ioulianou is a Greek South African. She was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Like many of us, she had a dream. It may not have seemed practical to her parents, who encouraged her to pursue a business degree, but despite this, she never gave up on it. She always loved performing and filmmaking from a young age. Now, she is an internationally successful producer with Milk and Honey films and Milk and Honey Pictures.

Throughout her school career, Ioulianou was very involved with drama and performing arts. She performed in every school play and loved being on stage. Her passion to perform was very evident. When she finished high school, her parents advised her to obtain a degree before pursuing anything arts related.

“I have no doubt that my parents believed it was a phase and that it would eventually pass, at least they hoped,” she said.

A phase it was not. Ioulianou attained her Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Econometrics at the University of Johannesburg, but she knew her passion still was with filmmaking. She then chose to attend Reel Edge Film Academy, and her life changed.

“During the course of my first year I fell in love with ‘behind the camera’ work. Every minuscule technical detail and little creative elements became my whole world,” she said.

During the course of my studies she became more and more enthralled by the business side of film, and realized her future was in producing.

“I never thought I would use the financial side of my econometrics degree but turns out it came in handy,” she said. “My dream career was now vivid and complete. I was going to be a financial and creative producer.”

elena_9976Success has since followed Ioulianou. She worked on major South African campaigns for 1:Face Watch, the electoral IEC Cool Campaign, and the human trafficking PSA Ruby’s Story. She has worked on commercials for Land Rover and many more. Early in her career she worked on the series The Message. She also worked on the PR of the film Little One, which went on to be the South African selection to be nominated for an Academy Award, and recently worked on a film with Studio 4 with Oscar-nominee James Franco. Now, she is a producer with Milk and Honey Films in the United States.

“Elena has a background in financial analysis. This combined with her unique international network throughout LA and South Africa makes her a formidable asset to any production,” said Tomas Krejci, the CEO of Milk and Honey Films. “When I learned she was interested in coming to Los Angeles, we discussed what she had done. Her extensive experience in feature films and commercials in South Africa is impressive and that caught my eye. She clearly understands the very complicated ins and outs of production budgets on wide-reaching scale.”

Milk and Honey Films and Milk and Honey Pictures is a global production company which provides services for commercials, feature films, TV series and content creation. Ioulianou will be working on many commercials with them that are in pipeline, as well as two television series and three feature films. She will be very busy.

“I have a long way to go and there is still so much I still have to learn. My biggest challenge is trying to remain patient with myself while building my career. It’s not easy, I try as best as I can to learn from and absorb whatever guidance industry professionals are prepared to give me and then I actively take strategic steps towards reaching my goals,” she said.

Ioulianou has relocated to Los Angeles to work with Milk and Honey. However, they will be opening up a Cape Town South Africa branch, which she will be heading along with the Los Angeles Branch.

“What attracted me most to this career path is my belief that film can express anything. It is a secondary reality that can move one emotionally and open one’s eyes to new ideas, exposing the viewer to a different perspective on life. Film is like most forms of art; first and foremost, it is about expression. It is a collaboration of creative ideas and technology to create the finished product that will captivate others. I can think of nothing more exciting than that,” she concluded. “For me, a producer is the heart of any production.”

 

 

DRAMA ON A DESOLATE ISLE WITH GRIVAS KOPTI

UK based Naked Entertainment is the producer of a new reality show titled Stripped and Stranded, commissioned by Channel 5. This factual-entertainment series is not about unclad individuals on a desert island but rather, it shows multi-generational families attempting to complete challenges while relying on each other for support and survival. The real goal of the show is to present all viewers with someone whom they can relate to regardless of what age and background they come from. Even more importantly, the show wants to reveal that we all struggle with relating to someone in our own family and should not discount their potential contributions to our life. One of the great things about reality TV is that it allows the public to see “regular” people, representative of all walks of life. We wanted to find out more about the contestants and the programs itself, so we approached leading casting producer Grivas Kopti. As the person at the heart of finding, researching, and presenting the family members on Stripped and Stranded, Grivas has a perspective unique to all others involved. Mike Warner, Senior Executive Producer at Naked Entertainment sought out Kopti because, in his own words, “He is undoubtedly one of the industry’s most prominent associate producers, and I am positive that he is among the most elite in his field. Mr. Kopti’s involvement on many celebrated and nationally distributed programs is an excellent example of the undeniable success that Grivas brings when he performs the leading role of associate producer.”

Stripped and Stranded was filmed in Panama but the process began in England with casting. The goal of the show was to find families with multiple generations. This meant that normal social media blasts would not work as many of the older generations are not as tech-savvy and tech-conscious. Online forums, newspapers, as well as social media were used to attract interested applicants. Following extensive interviews, Kopti worked with an editor to create 1:30sec Skype audition tapes which were then used to decide which four families would offer the most interest as well as the greatest potential for growth. For those unfamiliar with the role of leading casting producer, Grivas found the applicants, screened them, produced pitch tapes, produced and oversaw all legal paperwork for applicants (on a survival series!), and wrote extensive family biographies which are key in shaping the narrative of each episode. Essentially, Kopti performed as interviewer, legal advisor, film producer and editor, and journalist…all before the show began filming!

Grivas has an extensive and highly successful career in casting. He has been in charge of finding the “right” people for reality shows like; Tattoo Fixers on Holiday, Celebs Go Dating, Naked Attraction, Couples Come Dine with Me, and numerous others. As someone who has always been able to talk and connect with strangers, his natural talent resonates well in the TV industry. His desire to focus on Reality TV is centered around the diversity that it depicts in society. He states, “There is always a magical element to seeing faces on TV that you don’t usually see or wouldn’t expect to see; especially in a show like this one, where we really delve into people’s lives and dysfunction. That’s one of the biggest takeaways for the viewers, insight into communities and homes you don’t see too often.

  The challenge of Reality TV shows like Stripped and Stranded is to show real people in a way that we can all relate. However, most of us don’t find ourselves stranded on a desert island, fighting for survival. The subtext of the show, and its true goal is to depict how family members relate to each other when times are good and bad. The producers hope that, in seeing the drama and struggles exhibited on-screen, viewers will not only discuss, but also learn from the challenges which the contestants endure. Grivas feels confident that all viewers will find something relatable, as did he, revealing, “One of the families was unable to communicate effectively and make decisions simply because most, if not all members, are extremely headstrong, proud and constantly talk (scream!) over each other. I come from a feisty Greek family, so that explains a bit there. You definitely know when we are home; as do our neighbors.”

Stripped and Stranded could be considered “extreme” family therapy. The families learned a great deal (good and bad) about their own feelings as well as those of their family members when confronted with dire circumstances. Just as in counseling, participants were faced with uncomfortable thoughts and history in order to move ahead and grow. Kopti confirms, “After carrying out in-depth research, we concluded that, when faced with challenges and obstacles to overcome collectively, people in disagreement are more likely to put their differences to one side to overcome the hurdles they are faced with. We wanted to put that to the test and see what happens when families who are in some sort of crisis are stripped of their technology and other modern comforts and left on a deserted island for an amount of time to fend for themselves. What took me by surprise, even after extensive casting interviews and from meeting our contributor’s prior to filming, was just how much the families had not communicated amongst themselves. There were a lot of stones unturned and things never said. As families, we want to avoid things instead of dealing with them – which is so detrimental to a family’s dynamic and bond in the long run. Ultimately, from an editorial perspective, we wanted to achieve some resolution and peace at the end of each episode/story. We were hoping to say that when we take away every day distractions and modern comforts from people, we can actually instigate healthier communication and positive, healthy relationships.”

The filming location for the show is Panama. The crew obviously needed open and remote locations as the “stripped” part of the show’s title refers to being stripped of modern conveniences. The natural aesthetics of Panama produced a pleasant backdrop dichotomous to the tense action. Grivas relates, “It’s beautiful landscape. It’s paradise. For a show of this scale, as Stripped and Stranded was, we need to ensure we have an elaborate space, so Panama seemed perfect. It has many different sides to it. Obviously you have Panama City, then you have the beautiful islands. Both were great as a backdrop for the show. It wasn’t only the cast that was at risk for this production. Most of the crew was petrified of exotic spiders and snakes; you can only prepare so much for those kind of things. I think education is key, more than anything, to know how to best handle a potential encounter with a dangerous species.

  Stripped and Stranded has yet to air which means you won’t find any spoilers here. Only the participants and the producers know the actual outcome. While much of Kopti’s work has focused on individuals relating to other individuals, he finds the familial aspect of Stripped and Stranded to be very rewarding and complex. Grivas confirms, “Every generation will have something to say and things they want to change, that’s just natural. Parents want the best for their children, but need to accept that that it’s not necessarily what they had in mind for them. And I think that’s okay. It’s certainly something I battle over with my parents.Stripped and Stranded will soon air on UK’s Channel 5.

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Mike Goral went from radio DJ to voice actor extraordinaire

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Mike Goral is a voice actor from Oakville, Ontario

Imagine having only your voice, with no gestures or expressions, to convey every emotion you wish to release. Imagine these emotions are not what you are truly feeling, but you have to express them anyways. Imagine doing this, completely isolated in a dark room.

That is what voice actors do on a daily basis. They have very little stimuli: there is no scenery to pull from, no props to use, no actors sharing the scene to work with. They have to trust their abilities completely, and use only one tool to do this. It takes a specific talent to excel in such a field, and that is exactly what Canadian voice actor Mike Goral is.

Goral has many achievements in his years as a voice actor, with an extensive resume. He has worked with networks such as HGTV, ESPN, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, DIY Network, and many more. Despite his success, he remains humble.

“I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I enjoy working for myself. It’s very rewarding. No two days are the same. I love all my clients. I get to work with wonderful people from all over the world, and I have many loyal clients who have worked with me for several years. Nothing beats working with nice people every day.”

Goral has been a voice actor for over twenty years. Back in the early 90’s, he started working at a local radio station in Burlington, Ontario, a neighboring city to where he grew up. He had always wanted to be a radio DJ, but found it wasn’t quite what he wanted.

“I finally got my shot at being a radio personality. Once I got a taste, I realized I didn’t really enjoy it, so I started hanging around the production room, and watching what the commercial producers did. This fascinated me almost instantly,” he explained.

This experience proved to be an excellent learning opportunity for Goral, and he eventually began producing commercials. Although, as it was early in his career, he wasn’t allowed to voice the commercials himself.

“The bosses wouldn’t let me, so I had to get whatever DJ was on the air at the time to voice the commercial for me. Well, it turned out one day that the usual DJ scheduled called in sick, and the department needed a male voice to do a local nightclub commercial,” said Goral. “I got my big chance. The rest is history.”

That it is. Since that time, Goral relocated to Los Angeles, and now Scottsdale, and has done voice work for commercials, video games, documentaries, and television programs.

He recently worked with Spirit Communications as they promoted their introduction of their Gigabit service for broadband and OAJ, which is the Jacksonville Regional Airport out of Jacksonville NC.  For this, he worked alongside producer John Peace. They had worked together previously on countless automotive campaigns, and various other parts.

“Mike is a very enthusiastic and reliable voice talent. He’s always a pleasure with which to work. His work ethic is very high and he completes projects quickly so that we may meet our clients’ deadlines and expectations,” said Peace. “There are many qualities that earn Mike the title of talented voice actor.  Versatile, Flexible, easily directed. Also, Mike will work within the client’s budget, which opens up the door to more for more exposure and the opportunity to make the most of his fiscal potential by working in volume. Mike has never declined a project because he ‘didn’t feel right for the job’. He’s eager to tackle anything.”

Goral really does enjoy his job, and wants to go for any project. He auditions on a daily basis, and overcomes any challenges presented to him, including the feeling of solitude that comes from working in a room alone on a daily basis.

“I have many great colleagues, but I don’t see them every day. It’s fun to get together with them when it’s possible. Many of them share that feeling of isolation. That’s why seeing old friends at industry conferences and agency parties is so much fun,” he said.

Even though being alone for extended periods may be difficult, Goral says it is worth it. He has been a professional voice actor for a long time, and has no plans of slowing down. Hearing his voice through the speakers of the small screen is a good high.

“What’s the highlight of my career?” he concluded. “Hearing myself on a commercial on a major network during an NFL game.”

From Acting to Covering the Red Carpet, Shanika Ocean has Our Attention

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Shanika Ocean at the Vin & Omi show, Congress Hall, London, 2016

 

After years of hard work and dedication, London-native Shanika Ocean has truly done it all — from her innumerable roles in film and television, to hosting television shows live from the red carpet, to a number of widely acclaimed performances as a singer in internationally broadcast competitions. A naturally gifted thespian, she’s a master of adapting to any and every role that comes her way. That talent has proven invaluable in an industry where many actors are often limited in the scope and range of their performing.

Ocean got her first taste of the spotlight as a child modelling and appearing on several children’s BBC shows. She then went on to take part in the British vocal competition series “The Choir.” The show saw her travel to China, where she performed for audiences watching around the world on international television. It gave her a chance to show off her vocal chops, but moreover it was that experience which set her on the path of a career in front of the camera.

“It was the first series I ever did and it was amazing to audition and then be picked along with 20 other people to be part of the choir,” Ocean recalled. “We flew to China to represent Great Britain in the World Choir Olympics and it was an experience I will never forget.”

In the film “Do Us Part,” Ocean delivers an unsettling performance as the lead character Shea, a woman driven to madness by her boyfriend’s incessant philandering.

“She was sweet and innocent and pretty much the perfect girlfriend,” Ocean said, describing Shea before her boyfriend’s constant cheating sends her past her breaking point. “Then the next minute she gets a gun and shoots her boyfriend. She can’t take it anymore.”

The film effectively makes audiences empathize with both Shea and her boyfriend, seeing each as both the villain and the victim. The morbid tragedy gives viewers a peek into the psyche of the serial cheater and the betrayed girlfriend who kills him.

Not all of Ocean’s roles are as dark as “Do Us Part” however, such as her role on “The T-Boy Show.” The British series stars Tolu Lope as the titular T-Boy, a wealthy Nigerian teen who travels to England to live with his working class aunt and awkward cousin.

“In the episode, T-Boy is upset with Abigail, the girl that he loves. She isn’t interested in him so he decides to go on a date with my character, Ella,” said Ocean. “Ella is not at all who he thought she was, and to make things worse Abigail catches him in the act.”

Ocean’s roles span from the light-hearted to the unhinged, from dramas to comedies to action-packed thrillers, and everything in between. But in addition to all of that, Ocean is perhaps best known for her countless appearances as a host and presenter on an array of series over the years. One such series was the enormously popular “Unplugged” on OH TV, which has given new or unsigned artists and bands the opportunity to become breakout sensations in the music industry. In addition to “Unplugged,” Ocean has hosted a myriad of other programs and events, notably the 2012 MOBO Awards, Capital Xtra Radio, and has covered London Fashion Week since 2015 as well as L.A. Fashion Week in 2016 for Fashion Thirst UK, which provides viewers with all the latest news and trends in the world of high fashion.

“When I did the red carpet at the MOBO Awards, that was a big moment for me,” she said. “I had always watched the MOBOs since I was a child and I had always wanted to go. And now here I was, interviewing celebrities from the likes of Rita Ora, Dionne Warwick, TLC and Emeli Sande.”

Ocean just finished shooting her latest project, the first episode of the upcoming series “Pursuit,” in which she gets to show off her skills as an action-star in the role of Officer Torres.

“I was running around with a gun, which I had never done before. I didn’t even know how to hold a gun properly when I started,” she said with a laugh. “But it was super fun and took me out of my comfort zone, and has made me really want to focus on doing action projects. I literally felt like I was in CSI.”

For someone whose skillset is as diverse as Ocean’s, it can often be more difficult to choose roles than to find them. After her roles in film, television, theater and her dozens of hosting and presenting credits, Ocean has developed a simple method of choosing her projects.

“Sometimes when I am given a script to read, I can feel the character and visualize myself playing them instantly,” Ocean said. “If I have that feeling, I know the role is for me.”

Cinematographer Guillermo Garza’s work on Alguien Mas hits Netflix

Guillermo Garza is no stranger to success. In both his native country of Mexico as well as internationally, he has been recognized as an extraordinary cinematographer.

In 2013, Garza shot the television program Alguien Mas, which premiered on Canal Once TV and has now made its way to Netflix Latin America. Viewers now can see the character of Arturo Meyer, a young architect who is dumped by his girlfriend Irene Cardenas, while both were studying in London. This destroyed his life and turned it upside-down. Upon returning to Mexico, Arturo not only decides to avoid any formal relationship but gradually discovers that he no longer fits in anywhere. His friends have formed their own families. His work begins to seem boring, routine and uninspiring, with no opportunity to express his true desires. Above all, getting over Irene is not so easy, especially when she returns to his life remorseful and determined not to lose him again.

“This was a very interesting project to work on because it meant taking over the cinematography of three episodes in an independent television series, which is a very new format for TV in Mexico,” said Garza. “I had to give it a cinematic aesthetic with very limited resources.”

The series was produced by Canana production company owned by Mexican actors Diego Luna and Gael Garcia who were executive producers on the show and whose recognition allowed for the series to have an independent and original feel even though it was released for mainstream TV.

“I liked the challenge of working within the constraints of a pre-established cinematographic style. You’re working on a story that has already had other cinematographers and respecting the original vision of the series, but actually giving it my own voice and finding new and creative ways to give life to the scenes,” explained Garza. “Collaboration and a good working relationship with the director are a vital part of the positive result of a production. Being able to maintain a high quality cinematography in a project with limited time and resources is something that requires a great deal of experience.”

He definitely has the experience. Garza previously was the cinematographer on the film Flores Para El Soldado, which won the Mexican Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature a few years before. It premiered at the 2010 Monterrey International Film Festival winning best regional feature film.

Flores Para el Soldado tells the story of a young man´s search for information regarding the tomb of Edmond William Quear Jr., a World War II American Veteran who died mysteriously on June 3, 1946 in Monterrey, Mexico.  A family tradition was started by the young man´s mother twenty years before, consisting of laying flowers at the unknown soldier´s lonely grave every week as she visited her own mother’s tomb, which was beside the American’s in the Mexican cemetery. After a Google search of the soldier’s name, the young man finds some of the relatives of the soldier and begins a journey across different countries retracing the steps of the soldier to uncover why this American man´s tomb lay abandoned in a Mexican cemetery next to his own grandmother. He finds a heart- warming story of honor, tradition, cultural approaches towards death, love and loss.

“Working on Flores was a very interesting experience because this was a documentary film and we were figuring out where the story was going as we were shooting it,” said Garza. “We would follow storylines that would take us to very interesting and personal places.”

Garza worked with Daniel Galo, who was a co-director and producer on the project, and Ivan Garcia H., the other co-director, who believes the film would not have achieved the success it did without Garza.

“It was a pleasure to witness Guillermo´s creative process. The way in which he sees and understands light and knows the perfect frame in which to shoot each sequence, his skillful use of natural light to capture the very essence of the characters involved in the interviews, he has a superb problem solving skills that proved very useful in moments of haste and always maintaining the planned visual aesthetics,” said Garcia H. I can tell you first hand that his style, creativity, experience and all he has to offer take any project he is involved in to a great level. Besides being a great professional, Guillermo is an excellent person, mentor and friend.”

The film was Garza’s first feature out of film school, and was a new experience for him at the time, especially never having worked on a documentary.

“I learned to be quick to be able to capture fleeting moments with the camera because sometimes you never get the chance to shoot something twice,” he said. “But mostly, I learned that the most important thing is the story, and that you have to be aware of the subtleties of character that are revealed in the environments where people live.”

COMPOSER JAMES MCWILLIAM CREATES A DISTURBING & BEAUTIFUL WORLD IN THE PATROL

Being an artist is just like being an iceberg. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it likely means that you have never pursued a career in the Arts. The public witnesses about 5-10 percent of the work that you have done to get to the point in which they are actually aware of you. Anyone who thinks an artist is a slacker trying to avoid “honest work” is completely unaware of the years, even decades, of training accumulated just to be able to perform to best of your abilities. Athletes are the closest to this template and their physical forms give evidence to their toil. You won’t necessarily see a six pack on a painter or a cinematographer. Artists often work together to create works that are designed to move a mass audience. When Director/Writer/Producer Tom Petch wanted a film score for his award-winning film The Patrol, he enlisted James McWilliam as a composer. The result was a highly original and unique score which sounds both mechanical and organic. With sounds that are at times indiscernible and sometimes beautifully organic, McWilliam’s compositions (along with composer Nick Crofts) were created with the intention of being very prominent in the film to give the audience the uncomfortable feeling of being in a war. The Patrol was nominated for the Radiance award at the British Independent Film Festival and won the Jury Prize at the Raindance Film Festival, attesting to the achievement of this goal.

Filmmaker Tom Petch is a veteran. With The Patrol, he wanted the audience to understand what he and other veterans had felt in their experiences as a soldier. The film follows a patrol of soldiers in Afghanistan in 2006 tasked with keeping territory out of the hands of the Taliban and providing support to the Afghan National Army.  Rather than focusing on the war itself the film delves into the internal psyche of the individual men, and as the soldiers become disillusioned with their roles in the war asresources become stretched the authority that was, until that point the only thing holding them together, begins to unravel. The original plan to use music from a number of different artists was scrapped in order to create a highly original audio landscape which would be created by McWilliam. Petch was clear from the first conversations that he required some unorthodox compositions. Rather than a score which causes the viewer to feel for the soldiers, Petch wanted music that placed the audience into a state of similar sensation as these combatants. McWilliam states, “From the outset it was clear that Tom Petch didn’t want a conventional score.  He wanted to avoid the usual ‘trappings’ that came with a war movie set in the middle east such as Arabic wind and vocal parts mixed with emotive strings and orchestra that have become so common place in film & TV.  He wanted a score that reflected the alien like landscape the soldiers found themselves in and, in a musical way, mimicked the sounds of warfare.  It was important to him that the score reflect the emotions felt by the soldiers such as fear, anger, and isolation.  To achieve this, I knew I had to approach the compositional process in an unusual manner and cast off any preconceptions of what a war film should sound like.  An important point that Tom mentioned was that he wanted the score to develop along with the film moving from ‘ugly’ mechanical sounds at the beginning of the film and slowly transitioning into more ‘human’ recognizable sounds with the introduction of melody as the film develops and we come to understand the soldiers and their lives.”  

   The instrumentation for the later part of the film was much easier for McWilliam to envision but the “ugly” sounds required a lot of experimentation. Communication from Petch to McWilliam brought the ideas into focus and create the proper unpleasant audioscape. As a composer, conductor, and orchestrator, McWilliam has worked on films Exorcist Diaries, Crimson Peak (by Guillermo Del Toro, $73MM Worldwide), and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ($892MM Worldwide) and others in locations like Paris, London, and Macedonia. In creating the unusual music for The Patrol he leaned back on his early pop-musician aspirations with a modern twist. In his early days, James studied piano and drums. In his search for interesting yet uncomfortable ‘noises’ for The Patrol he used a bit of rock/experimental influence. The composer reveals, “A lot of our primary sounds came from a £30 guitar I bought which I then unceremoniously scraped, banged and smashed, mixed with lots of effects and then chopped up into useable bits of audio.  Along with sounds that Nick had created, we had our palette and we really felt that we’d made a sound world that couldn’t be for any film other than The Patrol.  Nick and I decided which scenes to work on and we talked about how the score was to develop as Tom had asked, starting with hard, mechanical, distorted sounds inducing unease and tension and then moving towards a softer more human sound with hints of melody entering into the score as we learn more about the individuals involved. Along with my composing partner, Nick Crofts, we created some pretty ugly sounds, alongside some very beautiful ones, and how we introduced these sounds into the film and layered them up to create intensity at key moments was important. For example, the beginning of the film begins with a wildly distorted guitar accompanied by pulsing low synths, this has the deliberate intention of dropping the viewer straight into the hell that is warfare in the Helmand Province.  Later on in the film shortly after one of the main characters dies (Taff) we get a glimmer of something you could call a melody, played on piano.  This point signifies a change in the film and the music. 

As anyone who has worked on a film can tell you, the Director is the person in charge who has the understanding of the tone of a film and will lead others to complement his/her vision. While some members of a production try to interpret a Director’s vision, others feel that their role as an artist is to present their ideas in an emotional way. Tom Petch clearly communicated his opinion of what the score to his film should be like; McWilliam took this advice but channeled in through personal sensibilities. James notes, “I think that as a film composer you are a filmmaker just like everyone else and it is your job to do offer a perspective on what you are seeing based on your knowledge and experiences.  It can be an incredibly difficult job under very stressful conditions and whether it’s composer; orchestrator or programmer you must be able to understand the needs of the director and help deliver a score that is right for the film. The composer is in quite a unique position as they’re often one of the first people outside of the closed circle of director, producer and editor, to see a full edit; this means they are one of the first to react to what they see on screen and this materializes in the form of music.  Given how long everyone else has had to form his or her opinions on the film, what the composer does next can be a crucial moment.  It can be a very difficult position to be in and this is where the real skill of being a film composer comes to the fore.  Will the composer see the film the same way as the director and or producer have been seeing it from the first day they began work on it?  Perhaps the composer has a different take on it that moves the film into an entirely new direction that no one else had thought of, this is the power that music can have on a film.”

The fact that Petch was not only Writer/Director/Producer of The Patrol but also a veteran required unmistakable aim from McWilliam’s score. James was immensely successful in his creation as Petch declares, “James’ score for The Patrol was outstanding. He developed the music for the film having really grasped the story, the film’s idea of isolation, and the brief I gave him for the movie. His score had an ethereal quality which lifted the imagery and definitely contributed to the film winning the UKs leading independent film festival, Raindance. James’ ability to work with a directors’ vision and turn it into his own work, while never baulking at the challenges, and understanding of the collaborative process is essential to successfully scoring a feature film. These qualities led to the great success of his score and thus our film.” The score in The Patrol leads the viewer on a disturbing trip which is used to translate the individual’s perspective and emotional state in a time of war. The film’s music stands by itself as a work of art that, when combined with the film, speaks to the humanity of those found in a circumstance which attempts to separate them from that same humanity. James McWilliam has succeeded as part of a production team in communicating the story of the dissipation of the team on-screen; helping us all to see that war is never pleasant for anyone.

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Sound designer Cindy Takehara discusses Suciedad Ltda.’s success and new Remnants film

Cindy Takehara is a Japanese sound designer who loves what she does. And she is good at what she does.

Takehara realized she could have a successful career in sound design working on the film Suciedad Ltda. The film develops in a retro-futuristic world ruled by the monotony of the industry, where there is only one purpose in life: to live to work. The characters have been immersed in the everyday dullness inside the factory, when they face an unexpected change caused by one of them breaking the work routine. Their fate changes dramatically, and leads them to re-discover something they had long forgotten, the best human qualities: rationality, art, and love.

Takehara’s job as the sound designer for the was to create every single sound from scratch, without using any sound effects library. She did Foley recording, music recording and music composition, and re-recording mixing in a 5.1 surround sound system.

“Both the director, Andres Tudela, and I agreed that in the film it was crucial for it to create its own sonic print, taking into account that we are creating a fictional world, and these sonic elements will bring the story to life,” said Takehara.

The film went to the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival in 2012. It continued on to the Mostra Latino Americana de Animação A Caverna in Brazil of that same year, as well as the International Festival of the New Latin Cinema – Habana Film Festival in Cuba. The next year, it went to the Udigrudi World Animation Convention – Mostra MUMIA in Brazil, the Ibero-American Short Film Festival -FIBABC in Spain, and the Bogoshorts Film Festival in Bogota, Colombia.

“Cindy knows what she’s capable of, but always stays humble. She’s really good at listening and suggesting ideas without imposing it. She’s a real team player,” said Tudela. “She is a visionary sound designer who can bring any fantasy world come to life. She did a great job on creating the soundscape for Suciedad Ltda. Without her creativity and skills, we wouldn’t have been able to make the animation happen.”

Tudela and Takehara met while in college at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. Tudela recognized her talent immediately and invited her to take part in the project.

“Andres was the writer, animator and director on this animation, and he had very clear what he wanted regarding sound, but also he was very open to our suggestions. With the collaboration of the talented musician, Daniel Casas, we were able to build this imaginary world of Suciedad Ltda.,” said Takehara.

Takehara says she liked working on the film because of the aesthetic of the animation, and its strong view criticizing and depicting the dehumanization during the industrial revolution and modern everyday life.

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Takehara shooting at Sequoia National Park

“This format of animation gave me a freedom to express artistically using sound and music. No narrator was included and very minimal dialogue in this animation. The story and emotion was told only via picture, sound effects and music,” she said.

During the production phase, Takehara visited many places looking for any sound that could be useful for the short film; collecting different sounds to make a unique sound library specifically recorded for this animation. To create an industrial environment sound, she did some field recording of few workshops located in Bogota city and was able to record a couple of cooling engines, drills and bandsaw, and then added some layers of metallic hits to recreate the sound of people working in a factory.

The music soundtrack was composed, arranged and performed by Takehara and another sound designer. They implemented extended techniques on instruments such as piano, glockenspiel, and cymbals. Later, those sounds were sampled and used in a music sequencer.

“For the editing process, we took advantage of digital audio processing to convert the recorded sound effects into a completely new sound. The mix was made looking to engage the audience to the story,” she described. “I learned as a young sound designer that the power of music and sound is an important factor of storytelling.”

This knowledge aided Takehara on her work on the more recent film Remnants, which tells the story of an elderly successful writer struggles to reveal his dark and troubled past while suffering from Alzheimer’s. The film premiered during Endless Mountains Film Festival in Pennsylvania last month.

Takehara jumped at the opportunity to work on the film alongside award-winning cinematographer and AFI alumni, Justin Hong.

“It was my first time working with this crew, and it had several challenging scenarios and locations. It was extremely cold, we shot in the Angeles National Forest during Winter,” she said. “But overall it was a great production with some talented young actors.”

The performances, which Takehara herself describes as outstanding, received recognition at the festival. They were nominated for best actor and supporting actor and actress.

“It is such great script written by Al Plancher, a true storyteller. He was a pleasure to work with. He had very clear his vision for this film, and never hesitated to ask me any inquiries regarding sound during the production. And being in the forest allowed such beautiful cinematography by Justin Hong, who I have worked with previously,” said Takehara. “The whole crew displayed extraordinary professionalism.”

This film is a narrative drama with a lot of dialogue involved between the characters. There were a lot of movements with the actors that Takehara had to manage by changing the microphone position in order to get less clothing noises.

“There was a chasing scene where it was hard to get the cleanest dialogue due to harsh running movement, so we recorded several wild lines, giving better options to choose for the editor during the post production process,” she explained. “We also recorded not only the dialogue, but also several ambiences of the location and other sound effects that was useful to record on set.”

The film’s tagline is “always remember your future” and it looks like with Takehara’s abilities, she has a bright one to look forward to.

Camera Specialist Michaela Angelique embraces her inner “geek”

Michaela Angelique is proud to be a geek. In fact, she has made a career out of it.

Angelique is a camera department specialist for film and television, and has always had a “nerdy” love for cameras that has paid off in her later life.

“Cameras are changing every year,” she said. “They always release new cameras each year, and I am not talking about still cameras, I am talking about motion pictures.”

Angelique, who is from Jakarta, Indonesia, has been having success in Hollywood behind the camera. She has worked with Snoop Dogg, Melissa McCarthy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Hough, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, John Hawkes, Michael Kelly, Dick Van Dyke, Ioan Gruffudd, Vanessa Hudgens, and Mariah Carey, to name a few.

She recently worked on the film Kiss Kiss Fingerbang starring Buck Henry (The Graduate), Kate Lyn Sheil (House of Cards) and the late Anton Yelchin (Star Trek). The film was written and directed by Gillian Wallace Horvat. The film is about a young, sweet doctor discovers his dark side when he discovers his girlfriend’s hidden passion, which the title alludes to.  The film premiered at Beyond Fest at the Egyptian Theater last October, and has since been in many other film festivals and competitions.

“Working on Kiss Kiss Fingerbang was a lot of fun. There are not many movies that describe this kind of story. I found it very genuine and odd and sweet, funny, and quirky.” said Angelique. “What I really can remember is working with Anton. He was such a great actor. He was a true professional to work with.”

Angelique also worked closely with Olivia Kuan, the directory of photography on the film.

“We had fun amazing time together. Olivia is always great to work with,” said Angelique.

The two have worked together in the past, and it was Kuan who recruited her to work on Kiss Kiss Fingerbang after being impressed with her talent in the past.

“Michaela is always my first call when I have a film coming up. She is always eager to work with me to make the movie as good as it can be. Her demeanor is poised and confident when she is on set. She collaborates well with the actors, producers, and all other departments. To the other people in her department, she is a firm but fair leader. She keeps all the gears moving as she manages her crew without losing her cool. All her ideas are intuitive to story and the visual telling of it. When she offers them, she does so respectfully,” said Kuan. “Her technical knowledge is invaluable to me and I can trust her fully with caring for the equipment. But most importantly, she is an excellent focus puller. She is easily the best in my roster. A movie with out of focus shots risks failure, but this is not a risk I feel I have to take if Michaela is on board. She is a perfectionist. If anything feels even minutely wrong with the timing or look of a shot, she will speak up to ensure we can get it right.”

Pulling focus is a term all not may be familiar with, but it is one of Angelique’s specialties and contributes to her many achievements.

“People don’t know sometimes that when the shot has two actors where one actor looks soft and another one looks sharp, it’s actually the job of the first camera assistant. They pull the focus to anything and anyone that needs to be sharp,” she described. “The camera does not move itself. That’s my job.”

And it’s no easy job. Angelique has to change lenses, filters, and carry around the camera, which is no small feat, as a camera weighs between forty and sixty pounds. I always try to get a prep day from production so I know that what cameras and gears that can fit into it together.

“I am in charge of changing all the settings and all the gears on the camera and accessories that fits into specific situation,” she said.

Angelique enjoys every aspect of her job, which is everybody’s goal.

“I love my job,” she concluded. “It is always different, each set is different, and working with either the same people or new people is always awesome and interesting.”

 

CHERNYSH SHOWS HIS DARKER SIDE IN MULE

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In 1984, a film buff who was working at a video store in Manhattan Beach, California wrote a script with a friend. Three years later, that same video store employee would turn that script into a film. The budget was a miniscule $5,000 but that film (My Best Friend’s Birthday) and the screenplay would become the basis for the film True Romance. Quentin Tarantino and his story have inspired legions of filmmakers and their work; filmmakers like Angus Bell Young. This Director/Writer/Producer and his award-winning film Mule are exactly the kind of gritty black drama/comedy that Tarantino is so fond of in his productions. There is something sad and funny about the foibles of humanity and their shortcomings. You can choose to cry or laugh and these filmmakers want to laugh. These filmmakers need a particular type of actor for their productions; someone whom audiences can both admire and hate. Very often they embody the anti-hero. Quentin’s films have given actors like Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, and Michael Madsen the opportunity to play previously unexplored areas of their abilities and given light to the depth of their range. In Young’s Mule, he provided the same opportunity to Australian actor Caleb Chernysh. Mule won the Certificate of Excellence at the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival. It’s highly unusual for a foreign film to be recognized with the Certificate of Excellence at this festival; it’s an achievement which is a testament to Chernysh and the entire production.

Caleb plays Martin in Mule. Martin is not the kind of man who is destined for success or even making the most of his opportunities. In fact, he’s not even the kind of guy that Caleb would want to hang around with or befriend in real life even though the actor feels sorry for him. Martin is a “Fryboy” at a local takeaway, not that there is anything wrong with that…it’s an honest living. What is not so honest or endearing is the fact that Martin only does this job as a way of allowing him to eek by some type of earnings and focus on his heroin addiction. Sadly, this situation is the way in which many addicts struggle for as long as they can hold their lives together with some sense of normalcy. To inspire him for the role, Chernysh turned to the performance of one of today’s most celebrated actors and an early role of his. Caleb confirms, “I watched Leonardo DiCaprio in the Basketball Diaries. It’s one of my favorite movies from Leo. I emulated his character’s drug addiction traits, and used it in my performance. His character in the movie has so much potential and yet he is throwing it all away. It’s the kind of story and performance that makes you upset because you can see how everything is controlling him.” This 1995 movie, based on the book of the same title from the 1960’s and published in the 1970’s displays how this story is timeless…being found just as relevant in the mid 2010’s.

Chernysh (known for his film roles in Fractured, The Gap, Life Lesson, and TV shows like Quite Frankly) is proud of Mule’s recognition and his part in it. Caleb’s performance as Martin is frustrating, depressing, angering, and comical. That’s quite a range for one film and one actor. Martin is a lonely man, working as a burger chef. Because of his heroin addiction, he has a debt to his dealer “Frenchy.” Typically, Martin dodges Frenchy because he owes her money but after shooting up, he loses his inhibitions and finds her at her trading location…which is when things start to go wrong. Caleb describes Martin stating, “He’s a loner who has basically lost hope for life and only lives for heroin. I don’t do drugs or associate with people who do, so I couldn’t really use that knowledge to help me understand Martin. One thing everyone has experienced is pain. Heroin is really just a way to avoid that pain, whether it be a bad experience, a sense of loss, or even physical pain. It’s an overwhelming loss of hope that things will improve. Channeling that feeling helps you to feel what motivates a drug addict.”

The experience of making Mule was unusual for Chernysh in just about every way, including the casting audition. He recalls, “Angus posted an audition notice on Starnow. I applied for the role of Martin and he sent me a script. We had an initial meeting in a coffee shop, which, at first, I found unusual as I’m used to an audition room. After talking to each other about the script, I was given the part on the spot. Angus is an amazing guy to work for and I can’t wait to work with him again. He is very edgy and also very funny. When I read the script the first time, I was certain that the writer was influenced by Quentin Tarantino. We all know with Quentin’s movies ..its mainly crime/comedy. I saw the dark humor that Angus was trying to portray, and that’s why I was cast…because I understood the script. I think that is one of the things that people don’t always consider. Filmmakers want a great performance but they really need someone who understands the way in which they are trying to communicate the story. That perspective or reference point is so important.” Mule’s director/writer/editor Angus Bell Young agrees with Caleb commenting, “Caleb’s resume came to me whilst I was casting for Mule and I noticed he studied at the Actor’s Centre, which is the same school that Hugh Jackman attended. That impressed me, along with his credits, and I decided to meet him. I met him at a café and had a chat about the character and gave him the part straight away. I wanted the character Martin to also be a comic relief in this project, which meant I needed an actor who understood the character and their place in the story arc. During the shoot he went above and beyond. I added some scenes on the spot and some new directions throughout the shoot, and Caleb had no trouble keeping up and delivering the exact type of performance I needed.”

Technology and the public’s support of Indie films has made productions like this award-winning film possible with smaller production teams. The art of storytelling and the means by which high quality presentation meets intriguing and compelling storylines has become much more commonplace than ever before, resulting in great films and entertainment for the viewing public. Caleb Chernysh agrees, noting, “You get to know each crew member during breaks when it’s a small production. Sometimes in larger production, you don’t get to have the same personal relationships as you do with the smaller ones. With independent productions, you are part of a family and the film is everyone’s baby.”