PETR GOLIKOV USES HIS PRODUCING SKILLS TO CREATE AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARIES

As far back as we can trace the history of mankind is how long storytelling has existed; that’s because storytelling allows us to communicate our own history. At some point (most likely around a campfire) storytelling became an art and, as art does, the tales became more grand and entertaining. Through the ages, the means by which stories were communicated has evolved; oratory, legible, theatrical, and eventually we came to our modern cinematic means. Moving Pictures may be just a skooch over a century old but they have already transformed in so many ways and have escalated the art of storytelling on a global scale. Hollywood may be the epicenter of TV and film but many countries in the world have ingrained some form of the industry into their social fabric. Hollywood can be proud that its child has become loved everywhere on planet Earth. All the corners of the world use this means to tell their tales. By studying the productions of different countries we can understand more about them as well as gain insight into how they see themselves. Petr Golikov is a Russian producer who has had immense success in the world of commercial production but who has also been a producer on many documentaries which present the history of his country as well as how historical figures have effected Russian society. Because of his successful career as a producer and his respect for US productions, he has a healthy respect for Americas contributions. Viewing the documentaries, he has produced allows one to have an insider’s look at many historical figures and social aspects of Russian society that are not often presented to the US. It’s particularly interesting that a producer like Petr, who has such a lauded career (working with well-known US companies like: PUMA, Gillette, Kraft Foods, Ford, Phillips; with campaigns that won awards such as: an Effie Award, a Silver Prize at the Kiev International Advertising Festival, and a Golden Prize at the Golden Hammer International Advertising Festival, as well as others) is always searching for a way to hone his abilities and challenge his approach. Golikov left the world of commercial producing for a period of time to work at the award-winning Studio Ostrov. Studio Ostrov is a recipient of many prestigious awards including:  an Emmy Award, Bafta Award, and Nika Award. This award-winning production company was founded by the award-winning filmmaker Sergey Miroshnichenko. Petr admits that when he was offered the opportunity to work with an artist as important as Sergey Miroshnichenko, he could not forego the experience. It is a scenario that has altered his approach to production ever since, particularly his style of communication with directors.

gogol-farewell-letter-with-set-designer

The production Gogol: The Farewell Letter mixed actual letters of correspondence from one of the most celebrated Russian writers with a very artistic presentation. The film was recognized and awarded at the Kiev International Film Festival in 2009. The film is based on Nikolai Gogol’s correspondence with friends and contains reconstructed scenes from the life of this writer and the intellectual debates which he led with them. The main role was played by Eugeniy Voskresenskiy (he won an award at the Kiev International Film Festival for this role). Golikov describes the creative approach which the film is known for, stating, “Three-fourths of the film took place in the set designed and built to look like a huge head of Gogol. People appeared there like ghosts or thoughts or images. We wanted the viewer’s to feel that they were inside Gogol’s head and we took the metaphor to a very literal place, which the audience seemed to really enjoy.”

One of the films Petr produced (at Studio Ostrov) which received the most accolades was The Word. This film is about the life of famed writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The Word received a TEFI Best TV film nominee, a LAVR (2009) Best documentary film award, and a special award at the 2nd New York Festival of Russian documentary (2009). The Word was filmed shortly before Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn death in 2008 and discussed the writer’s book The Gulag Archipelago, his ideas, & future plans. The documentary contains rare footage of his life outside Russia and unpublished exclusive interviews in which he discusses modern literature and the future of Russian in the 21st century. Because the film discussed one of the most important writers and thinkers who witnessed such an extensive change in the world, it was paramount that it present his firsthand take on history and the literature of his lifetime.

One of the most intriguing documentaries which Golikov produced for Studio Ostrov is titled Closest. This is a riveting and poignant documentary which views the city of Kazan in Russia. This location is extraordinary in the fact that its population is comprised of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim people who live peacefully together. It is a model which attempts to explain if we can live amongst each other with these differences without strife and war. The production asks if “love thy neighbor” can truly exist. Filmed on location over a ten-day period, Closest gives first-hand accounts of what these different ideological groups think of each other and how they implement their religious teachings.

Reaching much further back into Russia’s history, Petr produced Pyotr and Fevroniya: Story of Eternal Love for Studio Ostrov. The Orthodox Church in Russia has declared this couple saints and the keepers of family and marriage. According to lore, Pyotr and Fevroniya were buried in separate tombs but the following day their bodies were discovered together in the same tomb. Many people visit this tomb and ask for intercession. Golikov communicates, “I had to approach the story with great care before it was presented to channel’s producer. There was a presentation for a priest from the Orthodox church because this couple is recognized as saints. The church was happy with it and the film crew was actually very moved by the story, as were the viewers…which gave us such high ratings. It’s a wonderful love story.

dsc_7486

Petr’s acclaim as a producer of both documentaries and commercials in Russia has led to upcoming productions with Feel Good Video in the US. Golikov has been enlisted to bring his talents to a number of projects for Feel Good Video including the documentaries Dreams by the Ocean and Twinsters in addition to a series of commercials for both Dyno Wave and Joe To Door brands. Petr’s immensely popular and acclaimed work in the past is a causality to the effect of these international offers. The best reward for a professional such as Golikov is the abundance of offers that continue to find their way to this consummate producer.

kimberlyclark-with-akinshina

Actress Jordan Claire Robbins explores comedic side with Man Seeking Woman

Working on comedy requires more than just good acting skills. It requires a certain awareness of timing and type of instinct that not all actors are equipped with. Delivering a line is very different than delivering a joke, and knowing the difference is key.

Jordan Claire Robbins has had her share of serious roles. She played a character with a very troubled life in the film Black Dahlia and an assistant living in a doomed world in the Syfy show 12 Monkeys, and will be seen in the Andrew Niccol-directed sci-fi thriller Anon, to be released in 2017. In these roles, Robbins is recognized for her talents as a dramatic actress. However, her ability to also tackle comedy is what sets her apart, and she had the opportunity to showcase these talents on FXX’s absurdist comedy Man Seeking Woman, produced by Lorne Michaels.

“Comedy and drama are different in a lot of ways, and similar in others. I enjoy both, and I think in both it is crucial to be prepared at such a level that it’s possible to then completely let go and respond to the other actors in a truthful and present way. I find that the best moments usually happen when actors know their characters and the material well enough that they are just living in the scene, reacting in an honest way, and not in their head or worried about using any pre-planned ideas. For comedy, the funniest moments often arise out of spontaneity and these things can be just as unexpected to the actor as they are to everyone else, because they have let the characters and material take over,” said Robbins.

Man Seeking Woman tells the story of Josh (Jay Baruchel), a naive romantic who goes on a desperate quest for love when his longtime girlfriend dumps him.

“I loved working on Man Seeking Woman. The energy onset was amazing, and it was a great opportunity not only to work with very talented, funny people, but also to get to watch them work. The biggest challenge was to not laugh, as the leads on the show are incredibly funny and experienced enough that fear of failure is no longer a limitation for them,” said Robbins.

Robbins plays Julia in the episode Stain, a single guest who meets Josh at a destination wedding in hell. He is having a tough time because his ex-girlfriend is there with a new boyfriend, and in a moment of desperation he asks Julia to dance with him. Julia is open-minded, positive, and also date-less at the wedding, so she says yes even though he comes across as aggressive and perhaps slightly intoxicated.

screen-shot-2015-04-11-at-9-42-30-pm
Jay Baruchel and Jordan Claire Robbins in Man Seeking Woman.

“Playing Julia was a lot of fun, and while her tolerance level for bad behaviour is probably a little lower than mine I think we are quite similar, which is always fun to play with,” Robbins said.

The episode was directed by Tim Kirkby (VEEP, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), who encouraged the cast to follow their instincts. For Robbins, who has been studying improv at the world-renowned Second City in Toronto for over a year, this was a great opportunity to play.

“Jordan is the best possible student: curious, hardworking and willing to fearlessly challenge herself to excel,” said Michael J. Gellman, one of the original founders of Second City who coached Robbins at the school. “Her ability to find the heart and vulnerability in the characters she creates gives her a strong platform to continue to grow and build on her already significant talent.”

Robbins has come a long way from the first film she did. Money is about a man who gets sucked into the world of gambling and the ramifications it has for his friends and family. At the time, she had been training to be an actress for much of her life, but was mostly modelling. This step required her to transition from just thinking about the look of her character to thinking about her character’s whole world.

“When a person is really engaged in a conversation and living fully they are not aware or concerned with how they look, but when I’m on a modelling shoot it’s crucial to constantly be aware of how my body and face are looking on-camera and making sure the angles are always flattering for the clothes,” said Robbins.

Robbins played the character of Jackie, an outspoken, fun, and loyal best friend to the film’s lead, Amber. Jackie strongly feels that her best friend can do better than her boyfriend, and when he gets caught up in the unsavoury world of a gambling she is adamant that Amber needs to move on.

“Having trained on and off camera for many years, it was satisfying to be able to carry over and put into practice everything I had learned. It was the perfect scenario for a first film as there wasn’t the pressure of having a studio involved, and the team was young and fresh so the energy was great onset. I loved having more time to dive into my character and try things onscreen,” said Robbins.

Now, Robbins has mastered the art of getting into her character’s world, which is exactly what she did for Man Seeking Woman, with Stain being a well-received episode of the series.

Actress Amor Sanchez is both evil and innocent in upcoming feature films

aresized
Amor Sanchez- Photo by Laura Escudero

While growing up in Madrid, Amor Sanchez always felt art inside her. She grew up in an artistic family, and she was always acting, dancing, drawing, or whatever else she could do to explore this side of her. Slowly she realized she was meant to not only be an artist, but she was meant to be an actress.

Sanchez has now starred in over a dozen feature films all over the world. She is recognized for her versatility, and being completely fluent in English and Spanish allows her the opportunity for even more roles. She excels in accents, and never wants to play a similar character twice. She will soon be on the big screen once more in the feature films The Curse of Manizales and The Curse of Manizales 2, made by the prestigious Rivera Films Studios.

The upcoming films are based on the Colombian short film La Maldicion de Manizales. They are suspenseful period pieces that revolves around love, envy, intrigue and hate. The first film follows the difficult love between a priest and a young orphan during the Inquisition in Colombian territory, product of the Spanish colonization. Nothing is sacred for Satan and he is ready to open the doors to hell. Sanchez will perform the lead role of Isabel.

“Isabel is evil. She is smart. She loves gossiping. She is a jealous person, of everyone and everything. And she likes doing bad. She is the mayor’s wife and she won’t stop until she breaks the forbidden love of the priest and the young girl. She is capable of creating any kind of sleight. She won’t stop, and when she finishes with this love she will find a new thing to destroy. She has one purpose in life – destroy what makes her jealous. Nobody can be better than her. She is the devil’s ally. But from the outside she looks their ally, nobody can suspect she is cooking up anything,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez is known for being multi-faceted. She was selected for the role of Isabel because they needed a special kind of actress who could look ingenuous and evil as same time. The role requires someone who can be innocent in some scenes and completely villainous in others.

“I like playing any kind of role. Even evil people has their own truth and reality. Their own reasons that are valid for them, maybe for nobody else. Maybe life made them be that way, maybe they were born like that, maybe they can change, maybe not,” she said. “This is a story of a forbidden love and everyone and everything is conspiring against them. It’s them against the world, against the devil, and against Isabel.”

resized4
Amor Sanchez – Photo by Ruben Navarro

Despite the evil tendencies of the character, Isabel is still a strong woman, not stopping until she reaches her goals. This is something that Sanchez admires about her character.

“She has persistence. And I would like to think that I am smart too,” she joked. “I like gossiping too. Just kidding.”

Isabel is a different character for the actress. Sanchez has had success playing a variety of roles, from gangsters, to business women, to women in love.

“I don’t like being typecast, so every time I pick a role it is different from the other ones I played previously,” she said. “I can be a teacher, next a nurse, next a naive girl, next an expert in martial arts, next a busybody neighbor, and of course every one of them have their own look, cloths, hair, way of talk and walk, and their own personality. I like challenges.”

This is echoed by fellow actress Vida Harlow, who has worked alongside Sanchez on multiple projects, including the film Vampiro.

“I know the tenacity and perseverance that it takes to be a professional actor. Amor is among the highest caliber of actors in the film industry. Her talent continuously grows and improves. Her remarkable onscreen presence contributes significantly to the overall quality of any project she is involved with,” said Harlow.

Sanchez is continuing this professionalism and commitment while working on The Curse of Manizales, as well as her upcoming television series Scorpion Girl.

“Every time there’s a new project there are new challenges. Every character has a different personality, with new concerns and new situations. It needs to be fully understood. When preparing for a role is important to know all the answers of every situation in the script. You have to decipher your character’s mind. It is important to know that the role is not you, but acting from its own truth,” she concluded. “That truth has to become your truth to make the character alive.”

The first film of The Curse of Manizales is expected to be released next year.

Q&A with transgender actress Savannah Burton

Thousands of people have been watching the small screen and seen Savannah Burton, but may not have known it. She has appeared in television shows such as Killjoys and Beauty and the Beast. She has worked on a variety of films, including The Kiss, an upcoming film that will bring light the issues of the transgender community from the 1950s.

Burton has overcome many barriers to reach the success she has now. Being a transgender actress in the industry, many opportunities can be limited to trans roles only. That is not the case for Burton, a refreshing and promising change.

As she discusses in the interview below, Burton did not always know she wanted to get into acting, but once she had a taste of it, she knew that is where her future was. To find out more about her career and her story, make sure you read below.

 IF: Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?

SB: I was born and raised in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, a town with a population of about 19,000 people. My father was a small business owner and my mother is in real estate. Growing up in such a small place a million miles away from Hollywood, you never really think about being in the entertainment industry. It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto, Ontario in my twenties that I took my first acting class. It was in the basement of a church and from the very first class, I was hooked. I love the feeling of making the audience have an emotional reaction to something I’m doing and taking them on a journey. 

IF: Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?

SB: Some of my most recent projects have been on Beauty and the Beast on The CW network and Killjoys which airs on Syfy and Space. Being able to work with actors like Aaron Ashmore, Thom Allison and Ryan Blakely on Killjoys and Austin Basis and Nina Lisandrello on Beauty and the Beast have been wonderful learning experiences. While I’m on set, I try to be like a sponge and watch the actors who are where I want to be in their careers. It was a huge thrill to work on a show created by Michelle Lovretta who was also the creator of the popular series Lost Girl. She masterfully creates amazing, original story lines with characters who just happen to be LGBTQ+.

IF: What is it like being a transgender actress in the industry?

SB: Being a transgender actress in the industry is still a big challenge at this point. We are still kind of waiting for society to catch up to us as far as understanding what Trans people go through and have to deal with on a daily basis. Many people have this false narrative of what a trans person is from decades of misrepresentation of us on film and TV screens. Fortunately, shows like Sense8 and Transparent are helping to educate and create dialogues where none existed before. 

IF: When looking at a script, what makes you pick one role over another?

SB: I certainly wouldn’t want to limit myself when it comes to roles, though knowing what your “look” is and what types of roles you are more suited for is something that every actor should be aware of. 

IF: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

SB: I’ve played many roles from villains to incredibly sympathetic characters. My favorite to date would have to be Itchy Woman on Killjoys. First of all, the role isn’t written as Trans, plus she is a guard at a place for criminals to gamble their merchandise they have illegally obtained.  She carries a big gun and isn’t afraid to use it. I love seeing a strong powerful Trans woman on screen. It really goes against stereotype. 

IF: What is your favorite genre to work in as an actress?

SB: Honestly I like all genres. I grew up collecting comics like Thor, Captain America and Doctor Strange so I love what Marvel is doing right now. I also remember watching Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs for the first time and thought this is something different. The way he would mess with the linear storytelling and take the audience from 0 to 100 miles an hour in an instant made me want to be part of a film like that. People mostly see the violence in his films, but he also writes incredibly strong female characters to which he doesn’t get enough credit. Most of the female characters in Kill Bill, Jackie Brown and Inglorious Bastards are totally bad ass.

IF: What separates you from other actors?

SB: One of the most important things you can do as an actor is training. I’ve been training off and on for more than ten years. It’s necessary to stay sharp by going to classes frequently. Try different acting coaches and see what style works for you.

IF: What would you say your strongest qualities as an actress are?

SB: They say that the eyes have it. One way to tell good acting from bad acting is in the eyes. Being focused on the task at hand during a scene. The audience has to relate with you and put themselves in your place. This can only happen if they believe what you are doing and saying. It’s not really about acting; it’s about being real.

IF: What projects do you have coming up?

SB: I’m really excited about a film that I’ve recently worked on called The Kiss. It’s an LGBTQ themed period piece which takes place in the 1950’s. There are so few stories with Trans characters from this time as much of our history as Trans people has been erased or been completely misrepresented. Being able to tell a story like this is incredibly important and I hope will start conversations.

Restoring the Excitement of Formula 1 Racing in Canada with Tim Hauraney

img_0865

By Martin Desouza 

Any high level athlete will attest that the thought of retirement, and not being able to compete in the sport that they love, can be inconsolable. It is an unavoidable conviction for all athletes nearing the end of their career.

Canadian Tim Hauraney is a veteran professional racecar driver who knows this all too well, but is taking an alternative approach to the later stages of his career.

“Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be the fastest, most fearless professional race car driver on the planet. I have dedicated my entire life to accomplishing this feat and I believe that I can play a bigger part in helping others share this passion as well,” he said.

Whereas most professional athletes wait until after retirement to explore other opportunities within the sport that they love, Hauraney has found a way to expand his horizons as a professional, prior to officially retiring as a driver.

Hauraney is on a mission to bring the excitement of racing back to Canadians.

He has found several ways to shoulder this challenge, but none more intriguing than earning a role with TSN, Canada’s leading sports network. Former TSN anchor and racing fan Dan O’Toole was a driving force in leading Hauraney to his role with TSN.

“In the beginning, Dan knew that a transition to sports media would be a challenge for me, but having known me and my passion for racing, he felt I could excel,” Hauraney said.

Thankfully for Tim, and Canadian race fans, O’Toole was right.

“Professional athletes are viewed as people who can easily step behind the microphone, since they have played the game. This could not be further from the truth. Just because you played a sport, does not mean you can accurately discuss it. It’s a very difficult transition to make, and an even more difficult one to excel at. Tim is one of the people that has been able to make the transition, and do it seamlessly,” O’Toole said.

“I’m thankful for Dan helping me realize that TSN’s Formula 1 product could be elevated with my help, and that I could leverage my experiences and leadership towards the program,” Hauraney added.

These days, Hauraney makes a regular appearance on SportsCentre’s television and radio programs discussing Formula 1, and IndyCar racing. He is one of TSN’s leading race analysts responsible for breaking news on Canadian racecar drivers, dissecting racing events, and producing various racing related content.

In addition to acting as TSN’s racing analyst, Hauraney also spends time on-camera starring in commercials for some of the largest car companies in the world.

Rex McDaniel is a colleague of Hauraney’s and has hired him as a product specialist for several automotive jobs over the past 10 years. He called Hauraney a very sought-after spokesperson and cited Hauraney’s leadership as his strongest asset.

“Tim’s leadership, attention to detail, and dedication to his work, make him the best at what he does. We first started working together with Cadillac back in 2006. Now I hire Tim for a number of different auto shows where he represents automotive companies such as Maserati and Ferrari,” said McDaniel.

Considering the fact that Hauraney began fixing automobiles with his father at just ten years of age, to say that he knows an engine inside and out, is an understatement.

“I really enjoy working as a product specialist because I have the opportunity to connect with fellow car enthusiasts and educate them by leveraging my experience and expertise,” he said. “As much as I love providing my own insight, I love hearing what others have to say just as much. Technology is ever evolving and allowing for greater mechanical innovation, so the learning never ends.”

Evidently, Hauraney has found several avenues through which he can impart his wisdom and passion for racing onto others within the racing community. His efforts to do so are beginning to pay dividends.

Since Hauraney took over the TSN spot, the network has had increased ratings on its racing content. His passion and first-hand knowledge of the subject is captivating to viewers.

“I really take pride in my work because I know that there is a large community of race fans in Canada who have supported me in my journey as a driver, and who appreciate my ongoing intention to grow the sport for generations to come,” he concluded. “Leadership is an essential component to any community and I’m determined to provide it wherever I can.”

Ilya Tselyutin masters multi-tasking for television spot in Russia

Ilya Tselyutin has had an outstanding career as a senior motion graphics designer. He has learned from many talented professionals from all over the world including Konstantin Ernst, CEO of the Channel One Russia and the director of the 2014 Winter Olympics opening. He has worked with famous personalities from different industries, such as Formula One Champion and Tibor Pleiss, an NBA player. He has represented brands such as Lufthansa, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi and many more.

The 20th Anniversary of Internet in Russia was celebrated during 6 months with the major concert on April 7th, 2014 at Arena Moscow featuring an array of famous musical groups and musicians. The show started with a video streaming of the Russian Prime Minister giving a speech on the anniversary, followed by the concert alternated with the short reels with the TV pack identity we designed. The event was attended by a total of 2,500 people including major Internet business entrepreneurs and state officials.

Part of this included a promotional TV show spot dedicated to the 20th Anniversary of Internet in Russia. As a Leader Designer on this project, Tselyutin developed the concept, the opening title sequence, bumpers, lower third and a 30 second promotion using design elements typical to the past decades.

“It was really interesting to work on the project for your home country in collaboration with designers from Germany and Argentina,” said Tselyutin, being from Russia himself. “This kind of mixture helped us to create something completely unique for the Russian TV market. It’s a minimalistic, bold and yet clean brand identity.”

Stephanie Helou, currently the Design Manager at Unilever Germany Productions, and former Brand Consultant & Managing Designer at Vision Unltd, worked alongside Tselyutin for the project with the company Creative Worx GmbH. She describes him as Creative Worx GmbH’s most experienced designer and was trusted with directing projects that required both creative and advanced technical skills.

“As a Brand Consultant I worked closely with Ilya on many projects including the TV show pack for the 20th Anniversary of Internet in Russia. Having made an extensive research Ilya took an unusual approach to design and created a minimalistic and clean concept that was rather different from other TV packs we produced,” said Helou. “A remarkable combination of bold vibrant colors and animated geometrical figures made this spot stand out among all other TV commercials on Russian television. Ilya showed his strong leadership skills by guiding this project from its inception to completion as a conceptor, designer and animator. This was a truly enjoyable project and Ilya once again proved to be a highly skilled professional with a non-standard thinking.”

Together, Helou and Tselyutin were invited to give a speech about their work for the TV show pack for the 20th Anniversary of Internet in Russia at a Behance Dribble NRW Community event in Dusseldorf, Germany, where they presented design, concept and a making-of.

“Stephanie is an incredible source of ideas. From the very beginning she suggested doing something creative and new for the Russian TV market and set us up on the right course of actions. Also, as a brand consultant she supervised the process of following the brand guidelines to make sure all of the products including printed and digital were consistent,” said Tselyutin.

The project did present some challenges. Working in a refined schedule is always a challenge in the industry, but Tselyutin had to also work with another country remotely. This presented languages barriers, time differences, and communication difficulties, and gave him the additional role of translator. Despite this, he says the design industry is constantly evolving and it is important to maintain certain level of workmanship and live up to clients’ expectations. To continue improving despite his successes, Tselyutin frequently agrees to work on projects that he knows require some set of techniques he does not have a complete mastery of.

“I learned how to handle an international team on a project where I acted in both administrative and creative roles. I needed to take care of communication in one country and control the design process in another,” Tselyutin described. “I guess I mastered my multitasking skills.”

In the future, Tselyutin aims to keep evolving as a creative director and take on a managerial role in the creative process, especially on projects similar to this.

“I liked the idea itself – present the history of the Internet in Russia. Loved working with bright bold colors and mix them with clean and minimalistic geometric objects,” he concluded. “Overall, this was a very pleasant design project.”