Ian Holliday brings cinematographic artistry to award-winning film “Tele”

While growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ian Holliday realized his passion in life: filmmaking. As a child he may not have always known exactly where his life would take him, but he knew what he loved, and now he finds himself as an internationally successful cinematographer.

Holliday’s career took off four years ago when he worked on the viral video Harry Potter in 60 Seconds for the Virgin Fake Film Festival. Since then, audiences around the world have been impressed by his work. He filmed the music video Fool For Love for the popular band Lord Huron, which has over half a million views on YouTube, and he continued his music video success for the band last year on their The World Ender music video, an official selection at over a dozen festivals, and the winner of Best Music Video at the 2016 Orlando Film Festival.

“I like the balance of creative authorship, and artistic collaboration, inherent in the role of a cinematographer. I love the team that builds around a production; I love the feeling that the director and I are working together on the same project, that we have each other’s backs, that we will tell each other openly when something isn’t working out, and that we’ll both push ourselves if necessary to make the project better,” said Holliday.

Shortly after the whirlwind of Harry Potter in 60 Seconds, Holliday’s success on short films continued when he worked on the film Tele. Tele is a symbolic film as the story focuses on a man who regularly, uncontrollably teleports across the world, and yet, the film truly dives into the feelings of isolation and displacement felt by the homeless. It went on the premiere at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival, and later screened at the 2013 Vancouver Asian Film Festival where it won Best Canadian Short Film.

“The success of Tele is widely attributed to the immersive sense of realism, an effect that was achieved chiefly through the style of photography I developed with the director,” said Holliday. “We knew we were each putting a lot of ourselves into the project, and trusted each other artistically.”

The director, Gabriel Adelman, had worked with Holliday in the past on the film Revolve and was immediately impressed with his cinematographic skills, and decided to bring him on as cinematographer for Tele. The two have developed a friendship from their work together, and find that they always make a great team, and were eager to work with each other again.

“Ian strikes a great balance between efficiency and friendliness on set, always keeping the momentum up and keeping the production moving efficiently, while maintaining a casual and sociable environment for the cast and crew. This is especially important when approaching intimate, emotional scenes with the talent,” said Adelman. “Ian’s experience and artistic instincts make working with him a smooth and fulfilling experience, from prepping a shoot, all the way through post. He is a very solution-oriented thinker, and always brings a massive amount of value to the productions he is involved with. “

Adelman completed trusted Holliday’s instincts, and they decided on a unique-style of filming. To make such a fantasy-like plot feel like an emotionally troubling look at a real crisis, the film relied heavily on verité, documentary style of filming. For Holliday, that meant making the lighting as naturalistic as possible.

“Trying to subtly accentuate what the light in an environment is already doing, instead of defining the lighting yourself from scratch. You ask yourself ‘what is beautiful about what this location is already giving me?’ and you work from there to emphasize those things, and perhaps minimize some things that are distracting from that,” Holliday described.

In terms of camera, this kind of approach heightened the connection between the cameraman and the actor. Rather than using a tripod or dolly, the camerawork for this type of filming is handheld, allowing for a much much more reactive narration.

“The operator becomes almost another actor in the scene, playing off the actor’s performance, moving in response to their movement, finding subtle ways to accentuate little shifts in the actors stance or tone. There’s a lot of intricacy to that kind of operating which I really love, and this is also at the heart of the trust between the actor and the cameraman in this kind of shoot. In this kind of reactive camera work, you’re dancing with the talent, that you’re working with each other to create something unique together. No two takes are the same,” he continued.

With all of the success that Tele achieved, it was a very small production. Many scenes were just Holliday, Adelman, a camera assistant, and the actor. With such innate talent like Holliday possesses, he can take such a production and work with it in a way that allows audiences to be consumed with what they are watching. They truly are transported to the moment due to his artisty.

“Our equipment package fit in the director’s car. I don’t mind working like that at all – while there’s a time and a place for a big budget, I think the bare-bones style of this production gave the shoot a very intimate feel, and that came across in the final product,” Holliday concluded.

Photographer Alejandra Sierra brings artistry to everything she shoots

For as long as Alejandra Sierra can remember, she has always been holding a camera in her hands. There was never a moment of doubt about what she wanted to do with her life; she always knew that photography would make her happy. But what makes her luckier than most is that not only does she love what she does, she is extraordinarily good at it.

While being recognized around the world for her talents as a photographer, Sierra has seen tremendous success. She has over 22 thousand followers on Instagram, and her first individual exhibition, “Metalmorphosis” went on to be featured in the leading contemporary art museum, MURA, in her hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. Her photographs have been seen by hundreds of thousands of readers of various Mexican magazines, and contributed to making the magazine Cream the success it is today. This trend continues in regards to her work with national companies.

“I love photography and I really enjoy product shots, and shooting for national companies allows me to do both,” said Sierra.

Sierra’s work has helped boost many corporations such as La Tequila, Le Garraf, Marisa Pasteleria, Café Barra Café, California Wings and Beer, Cortez, Gaspar, Osaka, Olio Bistro, La Bocha, Ambiderm, Marianka, and Kuu, to name only a few. She was instrumental in providing them with widespread social media exposure, as well as drawing in a growth in sales.

“It makes me really proud to have such big enterprises to like my work, know about it and want their products shot by me,” she said.

One of her more substantial jobs was for the restaurant De La Rosa, and Sierra helped the company revamp their image with her work. For Sierra, the chance to work with a company that gives so many jobs to the people in her country was invaluable.

“It was a humbling experience to know that I was responsible for the pictures of this iconic brand. I shot products I grew up buying as a kid and then portrayed what they represent through a picture,” said Sierra.

Rocío Gómez Michel, the Marketing Manager for De la Rosa, was extremely impressed with Sierra’s work with her brand. She attributes Sierra’s work to the success of the restaurant’s social media, allowing for consumers to feel closer to the brand they grew up with, and they saw a sizable increase in sales as a direct result from Sierra’s photos.

“Given my history as a brand analyst, I know the importance of a good photographer in campaigning and branding an organization. Alejandra’s experience as a photographer, as well as her achievements through her career made her a clear choice to help in the continued success of De la Rosa. Her expertise is an invaluable asset toward the overall success and growth of any organization she becomes involved with, and I can confirm from personal experience that she is largely responsible for much of the success,” said Michel.

Sierra’s work has impacted not only the sales of companies, but also the awareness of many social cause organizations across Mexico. She uses her art to help improve the lives of others in her native country, something that is not only rewarding, but important.

“Telling a story, bringing a cause to life, being able to make a difference is one of the best feelings in the world,” said Sierra. “It makes me really proud. I feel useful and that I´m making a difference through my passion and career. Being able to help doing what I love the most is amazing.”

Of the various social causes she has helped, what was perhaps the most substantial was Sierra’s work with Mi Gran Esperanza (MGE), a widely renowned association dedicated to the eradication and treatment of cancer. Mi Gran Esperanza is a civil association founded 22 years ago that helps to treat and attempt to cure children with cancer. More than 3,000 children and their families, have been helped by the association, and they are one of the most important associations of our kind in Mexico. Mi Gran Esperanza helps with physical, emotional and spiritual health and recovery of low income patients and their families. Each year, they treat around 400 kids mostly from the western side of our country, helping them to overcome their battles.

“Working with MGE was Bittersweet. It was sad, because you never want kids to get cancer, but being able to know that my work was going to help their lives being a little bit better was great. It was an honor to shoot this brave kids and their families,” said Sierra.

Sierra’s photos were featured in the annual calendar that the organization puts out every year to fundraise and provide as a thank you for their donors. The calendar showcases the patients, the installations, the families and what they do. Estela de la Alba Rulfo the CEO of Mi Gran Esperanza, says that they chose Sierra for this project based on her previous work and reputation as an outstanding photographer.

“Alejandra’s leading role as the photographer for our calendar was instrumental in raising money for our organization, and that we required a top tier photographer to complete this task. After working with Alejandra, I am confident that we made the right choice. Thanks to Alejandra’s preeminent skills as a leading photographer, as well as her patience and ability to complete shoots timely, the people felt comfortable, happy and familiar in each shoot. The results were amazing pictures and a truly beautiful calendar. The closeness was such that Alejandra even became a sponsor for one of the girls she felt the most connected with. This encapsulated the desired tone of the calendar, and showcased the impact that the donations have on many of our patients and families. I am wholly grateful to have worked alongside her throughout this project,” said Rulfo.

The calendar has unparalleled success, and sold nearly 10,000 copies. Because of such tremendous success, MGE presented Sierra with a recognition as a thank you for all the work done and the positive results.

“It was great being able to help them and put a smile on their faces,” said Sierra.

Sierra chose the uplifting theme of gratitude for her photos, and showcased the reflection of this emotion from the families, whose medical expenses are entirely covered by donations. After choosing the theme, she had to coordinate the photo shoots. This resulted in a month of organizing and shooting, and dividing what our services include, what did we do with the donations and how the families were thankful for them. Sierra shot the patients, their families and the events, and was ultimately responsible for the majority of the calendar.

“This project has been one of my most valuable lessons in life. Seeing the kids so positive, so brave, and so happy was really inspiring,” she concluded.

“From Sydney With Love” Star Karan Sagoo in the Upcoming Film “Followed”

Karan Sagoo
Karan Sagoo shot by Toranj Kayvon

Indian-born actor Karan Sagoo recently wrapped production on the upcoming horror film “Followed,” which also stars Satellite Award Winner John Savage from the seven-time Oscar nominated film “The Godfather: Part III” and the five-time Oscar Award winning film “The Deer Hunter,” Blanca Blanco (“Bullet,” “American Romance”) and Kelsey Griswold from the two-time Golden Globe Award winning series “American Crime Story.”

Expected for release later this year, the film is depicted through a series of video blog posts made by an unseen vlogger whose interest in the macabre leads him to take his show, and a crew of three friends, to a famous Los Angeles hotel with a reportedly haunted past. As the group traverses the hotel in search of answers, they soon find themselves getting more than what they bargained for when they encounter an evil entity with malicious intentions. And that is where Karan first comes into play.

A key character and driving force in the plot, Karan seamlessly embodies the masked demonic character using his body movements to elicit fear within the amateur film crew in “Followed.” His spot-on performance is definitely a key element behind the film’s suspense.

Oddly enough, Karan was initially cast in the role of an aggressive and mentally unstable drug dealer who goes after the crew as they document the hauntings (a critical role which he plays in the film as well) however, after the film’s director, Antoine Le (“Bar Union”), saw Karan’s extraordinary command over his movements and body language, he immediately cast him to play the lead role as the film’s main antagonist.

“Karan is an incredibly talented actor. After watching the way he used his body as the deranged drug dealer in my film, I asked him to try to embody the evil demon for the film and he nailed it. I cast him for the second role right away. He was able to bring both characters to life, from their mannerisms to their body language, perfectly. Having him in the film has definitely been a huge asset,” says Le.

It will come as no surprise to those that have followed Karan’s career to date that his mastery over his body caught the attention of “Followed” director Antoine Le. Prior to embarking on his acting career, Karan Sagoo carved out a prominent position for himself in the fashion and advertising industries as a model, a field of work he continues to be sought after for today.

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Karan Sagoo shot by Casey Moore

Over the course of his career Karan has been featured in some of the world’s most popular magazines, including Elle magazine, DNA, Yuva Youth magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Man’s World, Society magazine and more. His charisma, good looks and ability to transform himself and embody different looks and personalities (which has been a huge asset in his acting career as well) has led him to be featured in ads for a diverse list of global companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Toyota, UK Trade and Investment, Videocon, Liril Soap, Max Lifestyle, Union bank, Focus T-shirts, E-Zone, Ernst and Young and others.

Having been on billboards and inside the pages of countless magazines, Karan Sagoo is probably one of the most recognizable male models in the eyes of viewers across India; but what he’s achieved as an actor has made his name known on a global scale. Karan first hit the big time when he played one of the lead bachelor’s in the hit series “The Bachelorette India,” which aired on India’s major TV network Life OK. While his role on the series several years ago made him a major heartthrob in the eyes of women across India, his dynamic talent as an actor is what has kept him on everyone’s mind.

In 2012 Karan starred in the hit romantic comedy film “From Sydney With Love,” which follows Meghaa, a small town girl from West Bengal, India, who is in for a major culture shock when she travels to Sydney, Australia for college.

Starring alongside some of India’s most sought after actors, including Bidita Bag (“X: Past is Present,” “Icche”) who plays Meghaa, as well as Ronjini Chakraborty (“Man’s World,” “At The End of it All”) and Evelyn Sharma (“Gadaar: The Traitor,” “Kuch Kuch Locha Hai”), Karan takes on the lead role of Suhail Syed in the film. A narcissist from an extremely wealthy family, Karan’s character Suhail becomes the film’s major antagonist through his relationship with Meghaa, who he sees as a challenge, which leads him to pursue her romantically.

Karan’s performance as Suhail is definitely one of the highlights in “From Sydney With Love,” as he easily embodies the attractive, but overly egotistical character in a way that makes him easy to hate.

Directed by Prateek Chakravorty, who produced the hit series “Born Stylish” and the films “Jomer Raja Dilo Bor”and “Tujhya Vin Mar Javaan,” “From Sydney with Love” premiered in Sydney, Australia and was screened across the globe in the U.S., Australia, Canada, England and India. The film was produced by Pramod Films, one of the most recognizable names in Bollywood cinema as the production company behind major hits such as “Deedar,” “Barood,” “Jagir,” “Azad” and others.  

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From Sydney With Love film poster

In addition to “From Sydney With Love,” Karan is known for his lead roles as Professor Drew in the docu-drama series “Cry Wolfe,” Mukul Sinha in the crime series “Khotey Sikkey,” as well as the series “Rishta.com” and the multi-award winning film “Band Baaja Baaraat.”

Karan took on the lead role of Vikram in the romantic comedy “Band Baaja Baaraat,” which won the coveted Aspara Award, Filmfare Award and many more. Directed by Maneesh Sharma (“Fan,” “Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl”),  “Band Baaja Baaraat” follows two wedding planners, Shruti played by Zee Cine Award winner Anushka Sharma (“Sultan,” “PK,” “Nh10”) and Bittoo played by BIG Star Entertainment Award winner Ranveer Singh (“Finding Fanny”), tasked with planning the weddings of three very different and demanding couples.

One of the couples is Vikram, played by Karan, and his fiance Preity, played by Kanksha (“Paranoia”). Due to Vikram’s family wealth and status, he has the means to give Preity the wedding she always dreamed of, even if it means bringing in India’s biggest star to perform at the wedding. A key character in the film, Karan’s memorable and magnetic performance as Vikram in the critically acclaimed film “Band Baaja Baaraat” definitely earned the actor quite a bit of attention both in India and abroad.

Aside from playing two lead roles in the upcoming horror film “Followed,” Karan is currently featured in a commercial for TagFi, a popular new social networking app that allows users to connect and find groups of people with common interests and passions, and easily make plans. In the commercial Karan plays Neil, an on-the-go business professional who is unable to meet and make connections with people due to his busy lifestyle, but thanks to TagFi, Neil’s social life is buzzing.

“The ad has been featured on app download services worldwide such as iTunes and the Apple App Store, and has been viewed millions of time. Karan is super professional and dedicated to his craft. He has a very natural charisma and gravitas as an actor that really comes across on screen. He has played a lead role in endearing Tagfi to millions around the globe,” says award-winning director Cole Mueller, who directed the Tagfi commercial.

In the commercial world, Karan is also known for being the face of major ads for Mother Dairy ice cream, Samsung, Raymonds suits, Ariel detergent, Lipton iced tea, Sompo insurance, Lux soap, Fiama Di Wills body wash, Volkswagen and more.

From his lead roles in several highly acclaimed films to his illustrious career as an international model, it’s easy to call Karan Sagoo one of India’s hottest exports– and he’s definitely one you should keep your eyes out for!

 

Editing Genius Rudy Vermorel Engages Millennials with his Work

At the heart of every production, whether it’s an advertisement or an epic drama, is a story with a purpose. The writers, cinematographers and director are all critical to a project’s creation, but it’s at the editor’s desk where it becomes more than just raw footage and words on a script. It’s up to the editor to see the forest through the trees — to know the story that’s being told, and to be able to put the right scenes together in the right places like so many puzzle pieces, to create the final product that movie theater audiences and home viewers will ultimately see.

The job of an editor can be grueling, but for Rudy Vermorel it’s all a labor of love. Painstakingly parsing through hundreds of hours of footage, one second at a time, is just the beginning of Vermorel’s zenlike process. He cuts, splices and rearranges scenes with a methodical efficiency and confidence honed by experience, breathing life into the story with every move.

“Once I have the footage I start to watch it to get an idea of the general tone,” Vermorel said. “If there is music in the background of the video I listen to the song to feel all the emotions and adapt the song to the footage. Then, I start cutting and I create my magic.”

In 2016, Taco Bell hired Vermorel as the lead editor for the company’s web series “Taco Tales,” an innovative marketing campaign geared toward the millennial demographic. In each episode, actors reenact Taco Bell-related stories found online at sites like Facebook and Reddit. Lighthearted and at times zany, editing the web series gave Vermorel the chance to showcase his talent for comedic timing. Moreover, the decision by such a massive company to hire Vermorel for a major social media marketing campaign speaks volumes about his talent.

Vermorel worked hard to earn his reputation as a leading figure in the field, a reputation which in turn earned him the trust of a wide array of high-profile clients internationally. Among countless other productions he’s served as the lead editor on advertisements for Ford, music videos for artists including MTV Video Music Award winner Demi Lovato, and in 2016 he expanded his repertoire with a venture into the rapidly growing market of mobile gaming.

Supercell – the group behind the runaway hit game “Clash of Clans” on iPhone and Android smartphones – has relied heavily on its strategy of widespread marketing to entice players into joining, to great effect. When the company released “Clash Royale” in 2016, it began preparing for a massive advertising blitz and Vermorel was recruited as the campaign’s editor.

“I am not a big game player so… at first I was apprehensive about how to edit it,” he said. “I figured out that the best way to work on it was to start playing the game, and I enjoyed it a lot. After that, I had so many ideas for how to highlight ‘Clash Royale,’ and all the fun, strategy and entertainment that make up the game.”

Initially the campaign was challenging for Vermorel, but he quickly adapted and before long the campaign had produced 20 videos publicizing “Clash Royale.” The videos racked up more than 120 million views, and the game became the top downloaded and highest-earning app on the iOS App Store overnight.

“I was very attached to the characters. I attributed to them a very different style, which allowed me to vary the editing techniques,” he said. “I wanted to showcase the funny side of the characters. For that we worked on their design to make them endearing, then I opted for modern dynamic editing in order to attract the interest of a large audience.”

The campaign was such a wild success that Vermorel was asked to continue editing the game’s ad campaigns for the next three years, the first of which will begin development this year.

Very few people involved in a production can ever be as intimately familiar with the project as the editor. A dedicated editor can spend days or weeks poring through every scene countless times. They can spend years perfecting the ability to bring the narrative together using the timing, cadence, and music of each scene. An editor’s job is to build order from chaos, to understand the director’s vision for a project and to bring that vision to life. A production is only as good as its editor, and Rudy Vermorel is the best there is.

Catch Actor Toby Levins in “Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts” Airing March 26 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries!

 

Toby Levins
Actor Toby Levins

Some actors just have the kind of face audiences can’t help but love and Australian actor Toby Levins is definitely one of them. Besides being naturally good looking, Levins’ has an amiable and magnetic on screen presence that makes him an easy fan favorite– so it comes as no surprise that he was cast to take on the lead role of Deputy Bill Todd in the first five TV movies in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ on going “Murder, She Baked” series.

You can catch Levins reprising his role as Deputy Bill Todd in the series fifth film, “Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts,” which premieres Sunday March 26 at 9:00 p.m./8:00c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries!

Based on the cozy mystery novel series written by Joanne Fluke, the films follow Hannah Swensen, played by Daytime Emmy Award winner Alison Sweeney (“Days of Our Lives”), a small-town baker who starts splitting her time as an amateur sleuth after her delivery driver is found murdered behind her bake shop in the series’ first film “Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery” released in 2015.

Levins’ character Bill Todd, Hannah Swensen’s brother-in-law, is the town deputy, who works closely with series’ lead Cameron Mathison (“All My Children”), who plays Detective Mike Kingston.

While Levins is widely known throughout the industry for his recurring roles in several action heavy dramas such as the Primetime Emmy Award nominated post-apocalyptic drama series “The 100,” ABC Freeform’s Saturn Award nominated fantasy drama “Beyond” and the Leo Award nominated crime series “Rogue,” his character in the “Murder, She Baked” franchise is the polar opposite of most of his other roles. As Deputy Bill Todd, Levins effortlessly brings the films’ comic relief, further proving his dynamic range as an actor.

Levins’ says, “In one of the earlier films I was joking With Alison Sweeney, who plays Hannah in the franchise, that Bill should be based on Yosemite Sam. So now before a scene I just think ‘What would Yosemite Sam Do?’ How can you not have fun at work when that is your mindset!”

The on-screen chemistry between Levins and Mathison is immediately evident, and their relationship is definitely critical to the popular movie series as Bill is always at the scene of the crime doing his duty to enforce the law as Detective Kinston and Hannah try to solve the case.

About working with Levins, Mathison (who is also a lead reporter for “Entertainment Tonight”) says, “He is a riot on set. All of our procedural police scenes are together, and Toby and I always have a blast when we work together.”

Despite the mystery murder concept that runs through the “Murder, She Baked” series, there is definitely a romcom element, especially as things begin to heat up between Hannah and Detective Kingston over the course of the films; and with Levins’ character Deputy Todd married to Hannah’s sister Andrea, played by Lisa Durupt (“Preggoland”)– Hannah, Kingston and the Todd’s might just become one big happy family. But you’ll just have to keep watching the on going series to find out!

Since “Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery,” Levins has starred in the series’ follow up films “Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery,” “Murder, She Baked: A Peach Cobbler Mystery,” “Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe,” and most recently, “Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts.”

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Film Poster for “Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe” released in 2016

The “Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe” film will air on Sunday at 7:00 p.m./6:00c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, just before the most recent film in the franchise premieres.

In “Murder, She Baked: A Deadly Recipe” Levins takes center stage when his character Bill Todd runs for town sheriff. Up until then, Levins’ character has been a staple in the series representing the honest, good-natured energy of small town law enforcement. However, when the current sheriff, the one Bill is running against in the upcoming election, is found murdered, he becomes the prime suspect. The film offers quite a drastically divergent plot line from the previous films, one that gives way for a lot more character development on Levins’ part, which he nails as usual. To find out whether the lovable Deputy Bill Todd is actually a cold-blooded murder who’s been disguising his evil ways all along, you’ll have to catch the movie when it airs on Sunday.

Out of all five films, Levins admits that his favorite one to work on so far has been “Murder she Baked, Just Desserts.” “I had a lot of police procedural scenes with Cameron Mathison (Mike), who is a lot of fun to work with. We have an ongoing battle to make each other laugh during a take. I am kicking his ass,” explains Levins.

Over the last few years Toby Levins has been one incredibly busy actor who continues to be in high demand for a number of lead roles. Since shooting the first five films in the “Murder She Baked” series between 2014 and 2016, he’s also played an impressive list of critical recurring roles on some of the most-watched TV series in the U.S. and Canada.

His lead role of Lieutenant Carl Emerson on season 2 and 3 of the “The 100” really gives audiences an opportunity to see Levins’ capacity for playing intense, dark and action-packed characters.

The series follows a group of 100 teens from the Ark Space Station who return to earth 97 years after a nuclear disaster to see if earth is inhabitable. There they find that a few groups had survived the disaster, but the surviving groups are caught in an intense power struggle, with the Mountain Men having the dominant upper hand.

Toby Levins
Marie Avgeropoulos (left) & Toby Levins (right) in “The 100” Season 2 Ep.11 ‘Coup de Grace’

Levins’ character Lt. Emerson, the right hand man of the Mountain Men president, comes onto the scene in season 2 when he tries to kill members of the Ark, but is captured instead. He becomes a key piece in the Ark’s unfolding plan to gain the upperhand when they send him back to the Mountain Men with a message: “We’re coming for you.” Towards the end of season 2 Emerson becomes the only surviving Mountain Man after Mount Weather, the Mountain Men’s headquarters, self-destructs killing everyone but him. Despite being on the antagonist side of the story, Levins’ portrayal of Lt. Emerson easily made him a fan favorite in the show.

While Levins look has made him an easy cast for authoritative, law enforcement roles, the stark contrast between the characters he plays has revealed him to be an incredibly dynamic actor.

What makes a performance interesting, and I am speaking for myself here, is truth. There is nothing duller than watching an actor working extremely hard in order to show the audience how amazing an actor they are,” explains Levins. “What is mesmerizing is watching an actor and forgetting they are an actor. What leads to this, I think, is twofold; making the truth of both the scene and the character the highest priority, and not allowing one’s ego (which is usually a very loud voice in an actor’s head) to have skin in the game.”

Up next for Toby Levins is the highly-anticipated scripted comedy series “Loudermilk,” which is being developed for AT&T Audience Network by Peter Farrelly and former “Colbert” Report writer Bobby Mort. The 10-episode series centers on Sam Loudermilk, played by Golden Globe nominee Ron Livingston (“Swingers”), a recovering alcoholic and substance abuse counselor with a bad attitude.

Levins will play a key recurring role as Carl, the boyfriend of series’ lead Allison, played by Laura Mennell (“Alphas,” “Watchmen”). “In playing Carl I was afforded the opportunity to improvise with Ron take after take, a luxury so rare and rewarding. ‘Loudermilk’ is a show that I would watch if I wasn’t in it – that is a very nice thing to be a part of,” says Levins.

Stay tuned for updates on the release date for the upcoming series “Loudermilk,” and make sure to catch actor Toby Levins in the premiere of  “Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts” Sunday, March 26 at 9:00 p.m./8:00c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

 

Graphic Designer Joy Sun does noir film poster for “Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator”

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Film poster for Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator

While growing up in Tainan city, Taiwan, Joy Sun always loved drawing. She knew quickly that she had to be involved with art in her future, but she didn’t immediately know how. Failure wouldn’t get in her way, and after teaching herself storyboarding and working on business cards, she wanted to be both a storyboard artist and graphic designer. Now, she is recognized internationally for her talents as both.

As a storyboard artist, Sun has worked with some of the world’s largest companies, such as LG when she did the storyboard’s for their commercial Bring the Aurora to Life with Power of Perfect Black. As a graphic designer, Sun designed both a website and logo for Bruber Media Partners, as well as business cards for the famous transgender advocate Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen. She has an extensive resume, but she would consider the highlight of her career working on the posters for the film Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator, a project that truly combined both her graphic design and storyboard artist talents into one.

Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator was a very fun and special project since a lot of movie posters nowadays are made with photographs and are heavily Photoshopped. It was a rare chance to get to take a more minimalist approach in terms of style and execution of a movie poster, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to do so,” said Sun.

Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator is a critically acclaimed and highly successful feature film. It is a science-fiction comedy about a psychic investigator who tries to seek revenge on the ghost of his former crime fighting partner. The film was written, directed, and produced by Elran Ofir, who describes Sun’s work as immensely vital to the production as she was the lead graphic designer for the film, therefore creating the overall image that was most accessible to the public eye.

“There are very few people in the industry with the level of extraordinary talent and ability as Joy Sun and she has earned her lead roles on some of the most widely distributed productions for some of the biggest production companies in the industry. I feel extremely honored to have worked with Joy Sun throughout the production of Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator and know that she will only continue to create commercially successful and critically acclaimed productions, which is why Joy is an excellent addition to the graphic design industry,” said Ofir. “I personally commissioned Joy for this lead role because she is the only graphic designer in the industry able to recreate the classic style of noir films. Joy’s illustrative and graphic design abilities are undoubtedly distinguished within her field. In addition, I wanted someone that could visualize my direction clearly and the result was an extraordinary film poster that neither me or the rest of the production crew could have expected.”

When the director Ofir approached Sun, he had very clear vision of what he wanted, but still gave Sun the space to be creative. Through his words, Sun says she found myself in a world of fonts. He specifically stated that he wanted the main character holding a flashlight with a cigar in his mouth and with the ghost smoking out of the cigar. Sun immediately wanted to make it her own. She started researching what noir films posters look like and tried to bring that vision onto the paper. She used her knowledge of colors and her digital drawing skills to mimic what Ofir had in mind, and made something he wanted and still from her own creation.

“It is always good to work with someone knows what they are doing as a leader. Elran is a great director and producer with an artistic vision that demands attention, I wanted to work with him for this reason. He is a succinct and clear individual whom is easily approachable, which I respect within business relations,” said Sun. “Also, Noir film has an amazing and deep history and the production of Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator set out to revive the style. Beyond that, the crew I worked with was magnificent and made the process very enjoyable and interesting. Moreover, who wouldn’t want to work on a film about taking revenge on a ghost?”

The film has seen an enormous amount of success, having been selected for HollyShorts 2015 Official Selection, Fargo Film Festival 2016 Official Selection, SOCAL Film Fest 2016 Official Selection, and the Festival De Cannes 2015 Short Film Corner. For Sun, going to Cannes was an overwhelming experience, as she knows the prestige the film festival has. Not only would the film be showing, but people from all over the world would see her one-of-a-kind poster.

“I am so honored to be part of this process and had the pleasure to have my work out there to share with people,” Sun concluded.

Cinematographer Jon Keng feels lucky to be doing what he loves every day

No matter how many awards he wins, festivals he attends, or film sets he works on, Jon Keng remains humble. For him, it isn’t about the recognition or the praise, for him, it is just about doing what he loves. He knows how fortunate he is. Keng is from Singapore, where people rarely get to pursue their true passions in life as they get forced to conform with societal norms. Despite all that he has accomplished, he just feels to be able to make a living out of being a cinematographer.

Keng started out wanting to be a photographer, but as he grew so did his dreams, and he turned to cinematography. His understanding of how to beautifully frame a still image greatly contributed to his talents as a cinematographer when he began, and now he has worked around the world on a variety of award-winning films and television shows. He previously worked on award-winning LGBT themed films Cocoon and The Stairs.  He recently shot the TV pilot Pineapple, which was selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017. His film Fata Morgana won a prestigious Golden Rooster Awards last year, China’s equivalent of the Academy Awards. There is no shortage of achievements for this cinematographer.

I enjoy my work a lot. Every film presents a different work environment, so I never get bored of what I do,” said Keng.

Working on the 2013 film Tadpoles, Keng began experiencing his enormous success. The film screened at over nine festivals, including the Vladivostok in Russia, Jogja-NETPAC in South East Asia, and the Singapore Short Cuts. He was also the first Singaporean to win the Jury Prize at Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland for his work on the film, the world’s longest running film festival, which is widely considered to be one of the top film festivals.

Tadpoles was, by far, the toughest film set I had ever worked on,” said Keng. “Being forced to tackle extreme challenges with a team of people is my favorite aspect of filmmaking. I feel that it really bonds the crew and gives us so many great memories to look back on.”

Keng was involved with the film right from the beginning of the screenwriting process, and was able to give his feedback to each new draft as it came along. He worked alongside his childhood friend Ivan Tan, the writer and director of the film. The two of them always had a shared interest in filmmaking, and became a compatible team.

“Jon is a great pillar of support on set. Even when things get stressful, he is always on point and calm with his decision making. This is very reassuring to the crew,” said Tan. “Jon never tries to impose a particular style onto a film. Instead, he digs deep into the core of the story and together, we find a unique look for every film we work on.”

Tadpoles follows two families who are forced to stay indoors and confront their fractured relationships as an unusual monsoon threatens to flood the eastern part of Singapore. There had been a series of floods in Singapore prior to the film, which became the inspiration.

“It feels great to be able to share this uniquely Singaporean story with the rest of the world,” said Keng.

After the triumph of Tadpoles, it became clear to not only Singapore, but the rest of the world, that Keng has extraordinary talent as a cinematographer. In 2015, he worked on the film Home, which became the first Chinese film to win at Best International Film at Raindance International Film Festival.

Home is a unique project because it started right from the ground up. We threw around some themes that we wanted to explore, being migrant stories in China, but we never really had a specific story in mind,” said Keng. “One day when we were on location scouts, we came across an abandoned hotel resort with a gigantic water lily pond. We spoke to the old caretaker of the resort, a migrant worker that had been left behind by the construction company many years ago after the construction had fallen through. inspired by this unique location and character, we decided to write an entire story around it.”

Home tells the story of Lao Tian, an elderly migrant caretaker of an abandoned construction site. On his last day of work, he encounters a five-year-old city girl who has run away from home. Bie Pu explores the concept of homelessness across the social classes of modern day Beijing.

“Shooting on real locations with real people cast in many of the acting roles was a great pleasure for me. It showed me that there is a multitude of stories out there in the real world left to be explored,” said Keng.  “I enjoy this organic style of working, to find a location first before writing the script. This brings a level of realism to the film, something that cannot be achieved with set builds. Once the location was found, the script was completed in less than a week and we were shooting within two weeks once the actors were cast.”

The film had its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015, an Oscar qualifying festival and one of the premier festivals in Los Angeles. It then went on to not only be screened at 13 international festivals, but win the HBO Films Competition Award at the Savannah Film Festival, and the Director’s Choice Award at the Miami Film Festival.

“Working with Jon Keng is the epitome of a professional working experience. Jon’s expertise in cinematography is only matched by his great demeanor and ability to remain calm under high pressure situations. Jon has made a name for himself as being the reliable artist and technician you want on set,” said the producer of Home, Edmond Yang. “J on is good at what he does because he approaches every job and every collaboration from a place of respect. His interactions with coworkers are based on a foundation of trust and professionalism surpassing any of his peers. He is able to keep focus on the overarching needs of a production while never forgetting the micro details which make up each successes. Jon illustrates why creativity fused with technical precision make an artist, but more importantly he reminds us why interpersonal communication is key to our discipline. This is why people want him on every set we have – because he is as talented as he is humble and that’s a combination we want to surround ourselves with in order to achieve our best on film sets.”

It seems that Keng does not work on a project that does not have outstanding results. His meticulous eye and passion for what he does justifies why he is such a celebrated cinematographer. With skills like his, there is no doubt his name will continue to appear on both the big and small screen.