Jing Wen talks becoming a web phenomenon

Jing Wen
Jing Wen

When Jing Wen sits to envision how to begin working on a new project, every fibre of her being comes to life. She is addicted to the power she experiences when she witnesses her audience feeling her story. From the very first take, she knows what she wants them to see and she commits herself to ensuring that every single step is taken with care to do her ideas justice. For the renowned director, her work allows her to be free to express herself and her opinions before the world in a way few other professions allow. It is a job unlike any other and her passion for her work is unprecedented.

For as long as Wen can remember, storytelling has been her calling and she has done so for the better of every project she has ever embarked on. In her work on films like Blossoming Flowers and Golden Eagle Festival, Wen has taken the inner workings of her mind and shared them with her audience in the most raw, authentic way possible. She is a natural connector, knowing all of the intricate roles involved in bringing a film to life and ensuring that each and every person she works with knows exactly what they need to do to help carry the film to greatness. When a problem arises, she knows exactly what to do and she makes sure that her co-workers are at ease and confident in their roles at all times.

Wen’s leadership skills are unparalleled and they have been instrumental to her success as a director. In 2016, she was tasked with re-vamping the Chinese reality show, Mom is Superman 1. The show’s producer, Baili Yuan, sought Wen’s help in the midst of a struggle to change the direction of the show after its first season. Yuan knew that the script needed the perspective of a director like Wen. Someone who had the creative edge to keep their audience fully engaged and eagerly anticipating each new episode. Yuan also knew that it needed a natural born leader. It required a skilled director who could talk the stars through their roles and establish attainable targets. To Yuan’s satisfaction, Wen agreed to share her talents with Yuan’s team and presented her vision for Mom is Superman 2.

The result was astounding. Wen far exceeded any expectations that Yuan had for her. The wildly successful web series received 1.4 million viewers online and became a Topic Discussion online over 3.2 billion times. Unsurprisingly, Mom is Superman 2 won Macau International Advertising Festival’s “2016-17 Best Program of China” award and Wen is without a doubt the reason why.

Wen’s satisfaction, however, came from the chance she seized to use her talents for the better of her viewers. She got to do what she loves more than anything else. She got to tell stories. “What I love about directing is story telling. It is the most essential part of any film. As a director, the way in which you choose to tell your story is crucial. I want my audience to feel amazed when they watch my films. More importantly, I want them to find meaning in the stories I tell,” said Wen.

Mom is superman 2 poster 2
Mom is Superman 2 poster

The challenge, for Wen, is that making her films often involves the assistance of a sponsor. She knows how difficult it can be when a sponsor pushes her to accept their advice and their suggestions. Her vast experience in the industry, however, allows her to overcome this obstacle each time she is presented with it. She is passionate about her work and she understands the need to stay true to her original ideas. In order to do so, she has grasped the ability to liaise effortlessly with her sponsors and ensure that any compromises she makes wont jeopardize the integrity of the film. Her professionalism is one of the many reasons that sponsors and producers are eager to work with her at any chance they get. Mom is Superman 2’s producer, Yuan is a prime example. Having worked with Wen on several occasions, Yuan continues to return to her whenever she is looking for a high quality director who can help take her projects to the next level.

“I first met Jing when she was a graduate but I haven’t forgotten her since. She is so full of curiosity and she thrives in a variety of situations. She is such a creative director and her experience makes her an asset on any project. She knows how to handle any emergency we encounter on set,” told Yuan.

After achieving such acclaim for Mom is Superman 2, Wen has already set her sights on an even bigger, brighter outcome for Mom is Superman 3. Every time she finishes a project, she is already thinking about the next best thing she can bring to the screen. This is because directing is a lifestyle for Wen and storytelling is her artistry. It isn’t something she can shut off, and why would she? She is fortunate enough to be able to do what she loves and to be great at what she does. She lives every artist’s dream on a daily basis and she does not plan on stopping any time soon.

Background in Focus: UK Costume Designer Jemima Penny

Costume Designer Jemima Penny

 

While most creatives take many years to find their true calling and turn it into a career, often times there are hints during childhood as to the direction their artistry will later take, and London-based costume designer Jemima Penny is no exception.

Penny recalls, “I was always drawn to costumes. As a little girl my favorite game was ‘dressing up.’ I never wanted bought costumes, I’d always make them up myself.”

Over the past decade Penny has become known internationally for her work as the costume designer on a wide range of projects, including films such as the popular Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth, which was nominated for a prestigious BAFTA Film Award for Best Documentary in 2015, the dramatic mystery film In The Dark Half starring Jessica Barden from the Golden Globe nominated series Penny Dreadful, the comedy film Where Have I Been All Your Life? with two-time Primetime Emmy Award winner James Corden (Into the Woods), and many more.

“I was always fascinated by how people define themselves and send messages to wider society about who they are through the way they dress. So I naturally gravitate towards character work over trend. And of course, storytelling is one of the most important and basic human needs. Its how we communicate and pass messages on to one another. So to be able to be part of this industry is a wonderful thing,” explains Penny about what led her to pursue her career as a costume designer.

Penny recently wrapped production on multi-award winning director Jonathan Hopkins’ (Goodbye Mr. Snuggles)  upcoming horror film Slumber, which is slated to be released later this year and stars Maggie Q (Live Free or Die Hard, Mission: Impossible III), Will Kemp (Reign, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce) and Sylvester McCoy (Sense8, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

The film follows Alice, played by Maggie Q, a rationally minded sleep doctor who, after finding no plausible scientific explanation for the terror an entire family of clients faces while they’re asleep, is forced to abandon reason and accept the existence of the ‘Night Hag.’ In Slumber, we realize that this supposed mythical creature who paralyzes her victims while they’re asleep, one who’s been referenced and written about by practically every culture since the beginning of time, may not be as mythical as everyone believes.

Poster for Slumber
Poster for the upcoming film “Slumber”

For the upcoming film costume designer Jemima Penny has done a thoroughly brilliant job of representing the changing mental states of the characters into their wardrobe, which in the case of this film in particular, changes drastically over the course of the film, at least for some. One of the most drastic visual changes in wardrobe style that audiences will immediately notice is that of Q’s character Alice.

“Alice, the main character is a rational, scientific person who likes to have total control over every element of her life. She is ordered and methodical. However over the course of the film she starts to unravel as the Night Hag becomes more real to her,” explains Penny.

“We used her costumes to help depict this journey. At the beginning of the film she is very put together. Her clothing reflects her character– buttoned up, stylish, sleek, conservative and coordinated… As the film progresses and Alice’s mental state deteriorates we gravitate to more casual, rougher looks– jeans, boots and tees… and the colour palette becomes more earthy and darker.”

The reason Penny has become such a recognizable and sought after costume designer in the industry is due to more than just her skilled abilities as a designer and seamstress. At the end of the day her success can be attributed to the rare and unique way that she gets inside the head of each character she designs for… it’s the methodical way that she breaks down their personality, changing emotions and the outer circumstances that they can’t control to design their wardrobe scene by scene that makes her such a powerful force in her field.

Slumber star Maggie Q says, “Jemima is one of my favorite designers. Not only does she have an incredible sense of style, that is evident in all her work no matter what the brief, but she is totally dedicated to getting the costumes right for the piece, which, for an actor, is such an essential part of being able to fully become immersed in a role.”

Bringing such talent to the table, it is not at all surprising that Slumber is not Jemima Penny’s first time working as a costume designer on one of Jonathan Hopkins’ films. Earlier on in her career she served as the costume designer on his comedy film Minimus, which earned the Festival Award from the 2013 Chicago Comedy Festival. The genres alone reveal the polar opposite nature of the previous project compared to their most recent collaboration, but clearly Penny’s talent as a costume designer proves that her skill exceeds the limitation of any particular genre– or medium for that matter.

“Johnny and I have worked together for a long time. We started making TV commercials together nearly 10 years ago and have built a solid understanding of each other’s work. So after an initial meeting Johnny will ask me to develop designs for the piece and we have a very collaborative process… he is always open to new ideas and trusts in the rest of his creative team to bring valuable input to the project,” says Penny about working with director Jonathan Hopkins.

In addition to making a strong impact as a costume designer in the world of film, Penny has also created a dazzling repertoire of work that includes music videos, such as Calvin Harris’ ‘Sweet Nothing’ feat. Florence Welch, which has over 200 million views on Youtube, as well as an overwhelming list of commercials for globally recognized brands such as Nike, Virgin Media, ITV’s The X Factor, the BBC, Cadbury, Dyson, Disney, Absolut Vodka and many more.

Up next for costume designer Jemima Penny is Primetime Emmy nominee Polly Draper’s (Thirtysomething, Demolition) film Stella’s Last Weekend starring Nat Wolff (Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars) and Alex Wolff (Coming Through the Rye, Patriots Day), as well as the upcoming film Farming, which is set in Great Britain in the 1970s and follows a Nigerian child who grows up in a white working class family and ultimately becomes the leader of a skinhead white supremacist gang.

About the upcoming film Farming, Penny says, “It’s a heart wrenching terrifying look at racism in the not too distant past and it should be a very powerful piece. It’s also a fantastic era for costume.”

 

Television Host Dan Babic strives to be in the one percent

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Dan Babic on set

Working in a field as gruelling as the entertainment industry is no small feat. Where most individuals see a daunting career path, plagued by unstable income and fierce competition, Australian entertainer Dan Babic has only ever seen a breadth of opportunity. It has never been about a steady pay check, or a permanent “nine to five,” but rather about embracing the unknown and the diversity of challenges that entertaining unveils. When most parents ask their child about what they’d like to be when they grow up, they often expect to hear answers like “famous entertainer” and simply hope that the novelty will wear off with age. This, however, was not the case for Babic’s mother and father, as his unwavering desire to entertain has only grown stronger over the years.

 

“Less than one per cent of the world’s entire population are at the top of the entertainment industry. So, if you want to be part of the one per cent, you have to be prepared to do what only one per cent of people can do,” notes Babic. Unsurprisingly, he is prepared to do just that and more. His relentless desire to share his talents with the world push him to test his own limits and to bring the unique elements of his personality to the industry in ways that other television personalities haven’t before. The result is a seemingly effortless combination of humour and realism that flavour his work in a unique way that one can only truly understand by witnessing him in action. The success that this up-and-coming entertainer has achieved so early on in his career is a result of his natural affinity for entertainment and his drive to showcase himself as an authentic television personality.

In 2016, when Babic was approached to host Fashion One’s Design Genius, Babic couldn’t resist accepting. The series centres around a “fashion-packed” competition that challenges fashion designers to create original and inventive clothing and accessories. A show of this nature requires an effective host. A host who isn’t afraid to challenge its competitors, but who also has the capacity to empathize with the designers and capitalize on the genuine moments that a testing competition orchestrates.

“I wanted to work on Design Genius, as the success the show relied entirely on the host’s ability to captivate, engage and connect a culturally diverse audience of over 400 million people from 173 countries. I wanted to showcase my ability of to unifying individuals of all different backgrounds. The show sought a distinctive, unique personality to host and I knew this is something I have to offer. I knew that I would be an asset to the project. It required a host with the rare skill set needed to take the audience on a journey from beginning, through the middle, to the end in an improvisational, yet precise fashion. This isn’t something that every television personality is able to do, but it is the exact hosting style that I thrive in and so I knew from the start that I was the only person for the job. What’s more, is that I had always dreamed of working with the show’s producer, Tone Innset,” tells Babic.

Fortunately, the reputation that Babic has established for himself presents him as a top tier television host and personality. When producers or directors are searching for a host, his name comes to mind almost instantaneously. Innset’s knowledge of Babic’s talents made her eager to work with the entertainer and Design Genuis’ viewers reaped the benefits.

“Mr. Babic performed the leading role of host for the series Design Genius, where he garnered a substantial amount of praise for himself and the series. In his leading role, his responsibilities required him to complete a number of tasks, including introducing the series, the contestants, and their projects for each and every episode. His larger than life personality allowed him to attract audiences to the show simply by listening to him or watching him, as his exciting interactions with his co-hosts and contestants were often unconventional in the approach, confronting aggressive contestants, or heartily joking and laughing with his fellow hosts and judges. It is imperative for a host to have such a personality, and to utilize their skillsets as a performer to convey this to the audience. In addition to the typical duties of a host, he was also responsible for leading the show as a judge, and he decided which contestants advanced to the subsequent rounds, which contestants were eliminated, and which contestants broke the rules and must be disqualified. Dan has a unique ability to command attention from his audience and the other contestants, as well as his other judges, highlighting his domineering on screen personality, which translates into increased viewership for the series as a whole,” says Innset.

The show’s wide reach is a testament to Babic’s mastery of television hosting and flawless ability to captivate his audience. What’s most impressive, however, is Babic’s ability to remain humble in his rise of fame. In the wake of praise, Babic remains true to himself. “What I like most about being an on-camera personality is that it feels like home. It completely lights me up in every way possible. When I’m hosting a television show, I feel an overwhelming sense of comfort in knowing that I am doing exactly what I am meant to do. The pure joy it brings me extends to all aspects of my life and helps me become the best version of myself that I can be. Words cannot describe how much I love and live for what I do and I am beyond grateful that I get to experience that every single day with my work. It is such a rare thing and I never forget that but I know that my success comes from my persistence, my fearlessness, my hard work and by simply trusting my intuition,” Babic states.

Babic’s talents as an entertainer are unparalleled. Television show creators would be hard-pressed to find a host more dynamic and at ease in front of the camera than him. He was born to be on screen and anyone who has seen his work knows that great things are in store for his future audiences.

Andre Chesini tackles Alzheimer’s in moving film

Andre Chesini measuring light on Chocolate
Andre Chesini behind the scenes for “Chocolate”

Ask any cinematographer what they love about film and you’re likely to get a different answer. For some, it’s about having an outlet; a way to channel the vast array of emotions, thoughts, and experiences that life has to offer. For others, it’s a platform to showcase an artist’s creativity and to entertain audiences of all sizes. It is both gruelling and competitive; however, most cinematographers will tell you that above all else, it’s about the indescribable feeling of getting to see your work come to life on screen. Filmmaking is an ever-evolving art form and over time, it has broken barriers, tested limits, and motivated human beings to see the world in different lights. For award-winning cinematographer, Andre Chesini, it is about all of this and more.

“Cinematography is a dynamic process, borrowing from different art forms to create an art form of its own. It drives me to evolve not only as an artist, but as a human being and it has helped me to learn so much about the world that we live in. It is an endless process of discovery and it has given me the opportunity to travel to new places and meet new people. It’s in those places that ideas flourish and new projects come to life,” says Chesini.

At a young age, Chesini began to work with 3D CAD modelling at a SolidWorks reseller. It was here that he earned himself various positions working for prominent companies like Alston and Embraer Suppliers as a 3D modelling designer, using mechanics to help pre-visualize ideas and concepts. In those days, Chesini thought he might eventually work toward becoming an engineer; however, he was always hungry for more. His unrelenting desire and creative insight, paired with his technical skills, drew him toward cinematography and from there, he has never looked back.

As he continued to pursue his dreams, Chesini moved to the south of Brazil to lend his talents toward projects like the award-winning, A Fábrica; a film which won over 60 awards and went on to secure a nomination at the 85th annual Oscars Awards. Another of his works was a viral music video called Oração. If not for Chesini, it is unlikely that the video would have reached three-million views in less than three days. Achieving such success so early on in one’s career can often have a negative impact on his or her ego; however, this was never the case for Chesini. He is simply grateful for the recognition and motivated to continue to produce even greater work.

With a decorated career like Chesini’s, it comes as no surprise that director Thiago Dadalt was determined to work with him. Dadalt’s familiarity with Chesini’s work on A Fábrica solidified this desire. The two worked together for the first time on the wildly hilarious television series, Life on a Leash. When Chesini was approached about the possibility of working with Dadalt again for the film Chocolate, he found himself instantly intrigued. The film portrays the beautiful tale about the power of family and hope when a suburban housewife and mother finds herself homeless in Skid Row, Los Angeles as a result of her Alzheimer’s Disease.

“I feel a strong impulse to jump on board with projects grounded in a social issue. For Chocolate, we had the opportunity to portray the life of a house-wife who finds herself homeless as a result of her early-onset Alzheimer’s, a disease that degenerates the mind. I was born in Brazil, where homelessness is a prevalent social issue and I really wanted to portray it as close to reality as we could,” tells Chesini.

The reality that often goes unseen with cinematography, however, are the challenges that filmmakers must overcome to produce high-quality content for their viewers. By the time the ensemble hits the screen, a cinematographer’s work typically appears seamless. In the case of Chocolate, Chesini, Dadalt and their entire team encountered several obstacles along the way. It is in situations like these, however, where Chesini’s natural affinity for filmmaking comes to light.

Chocolate had its production challenges. We were going to shoot in the midst of a hot summer in Los Angeles and our ideas involved several locations, as well as various moving parts. I decided to choose handheld and steadicam given our locations and hard placements to set tracks and cranes. I felt that it created a more intimate connection with the characters since the camera position was closer to the action. I also recognized that it was an emotional film for the actors, so Thiago and I decided we would use longer shots to help the actors delve deeper into their characters. Even with all of our production challenges, Thiago managed to pull a 29-minute cut. He didn’t need to re-shoot any of the material or film additional shots. The result was a consistent film that draws the audience into a tale of survival and love in the midst of the devastating reality of forgetting and losing yourself,” states Chesini.

Prior to completing the film in November 2016, Chocolate was already nominated for the London International Film Festival where it received the award for Best Supporting Actress. Following this early success, the film went on to be an Official Selection for the Hollywood and Hollyshorts Film Festivals in 2017. It later won Best Drama and Actress at the Firstglance Film Festival Los Angeles and Marché du Film at Le Festival de Cannes 2017 and continued to win awards thereafter.

So, what makes a short-film like Chocolate so successful? Naturally, it comes down to talent like Chesini. When asked about working with the cinematographer, Dadalt comments that “Andre is an outstanding professional that I feel extremely fortunate to have come across. We’re both Brazilian, so we share a mutual understanding of the unique challenge that it brings to establishing a career in Los Angeles. He is a very talented cinematographer with a keen eye for capturing the perfect moment. His input and his work ethic are a delight when filming.”

With a cinematographer like Chesini on the scene, one can only imagine the calibre of content that he will continue to bring to the industry.

Check out some behind-the-scenes footage of Chocolate here.

Turning Life’s Challenges into Comedy: Comedian Ronen Tverya

Comedian Ronen Tverya
Comedian Ronen Tverya

When it comes to traversing some of life’s most trying and tragic situations, sometimes the quickest way to turn that frown upside down is through comedy. For men and women around the world, attending a good comedy show can be exactly what they need to escape their reality for a little while and press that much needed reset button when things become too overwhelming.

Watching a comedian get up on stage and reveal some of their darkest and most awkward moments with humour, someone like Israeli comic Ronen Tverya, can have a cathartic effect on an audience and give them the boost they need to face their own problems from a renewed, light-hearted perspective.  

The world can be a pretty rough place. Often times what makes good comedy so powerful is the fact that it comes from truth, that’s why audiences are able to relate to it. Some of the best comics have experienced the darker sides of life, and these experiences have fuelled their routines and their jokes, and Ronen Tverya is no exception.

The youngest of three siblings, Ronen grew up in Holon, Israel where his family’s economic situation was not always comfortable. Having parents who immigrated to Israel from Persia back in 1948 where they faced a unique set of circumstances and struggles, provided Ronen with an unconventional upbringing that has lent itself to the brilliant comedy routine he brings to the stage today.

In spite of the challenges Ronen managed to find the bright side of coin from an early age, and today he credits those challenges as integral to the positive and humorous outlook that guides his life and career on stage.  

He says, “Honestly I thank god for the [economic difficulties] because that made me realize a lot of important things in life… like enjoying the small things you have and looking at the glass half full.”

As a child in Israel, Ronen was the one his peers turned for the jokes. It wasn’t until the age of 17 that Ronen finally took his comedy skills to the stage. That fateful night on stage back home in Holon set Ronen off on his rightful path, and he hasn’t turned back since.

He recalls, “It was an amazing feeling performing in front of people, of course it was scary at the beginning but after a few minutes when the adrenaline started floated in my veins. The feeling was incredible.”

Using his own life situations to create comedy routines that center on marriage, divorce, dating, living in America versus Israel and many more topics that pique the interest of audiences, Ronen has a unique way of helping his audience forget about their personal woes.

About what drives his career as a comedian and why he feels it’s important, Ronen explains, “First of all this world is stressful enough with all sorts of issues. I think comedy is a great opportunity for people to forget their problems, change their mood and the most important thing is that the comedian can give the audience a different perspective on certain subjects, some of them are taboos that you can only hear in comedy.”

Early on in his career Ronen was sought after to be a featured comedian on the bill of major comedy showcases across Israel such as the Tzavta Theater “Idea to Performance” show, “The improv show” at Anat Barzilay Academy, Comedians Ltd., and many more. Performing at some of Tel Aviv’s hottest comedy clubs such as Camel Comedy Club and Stand up Factory, his name quickly became synonymous with laughter to comedy fans across the country.

Yoni Lahav, who produced the Tsavata Theatre show, explains “Ronen is an amazing person to work with. He is a very positive and funny guy and he is very professional. I think his drive and motivation keeps him up, when he is on stage he radiates a lot of fun and delivers it to the audience. He is very talented performer.”

Ronen’s ability to bring a smile and a laugh to his audience is not reserved to his fans in Israel alone though. Recently he has been invited to test out his routine at some of the biggest comedy clubs across the states, including NYC’s Greenwich Village Comedy Club, Seattle’s popular Laughs Comedy Club and Comedy Underground, the Improv Comedy Club in Hollywood, San Francisco’s Brainwash café and more. With a unique approach to comedy, an accent that American’s find hilarious, and a diverse range of personal life situations to pull material from, such has his recent divorce, Ronen has also become a hit with comedy fans in the states.

Cinematographer Yan Rymsha’s Skills Shine Bright in a Diverse Range of Films

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Cinematographer Yan Rymsha

It takes a uniquely talented artist to take a film’s scripted story off the page and translate it into the shot by shot visual language that moves viewers. Many will try, but only a small portion will ever truly succeed.

Over the past seven years cinematographer Yan Rymsha has proven himself to be one of those rare and diversely talented visionaries who’s able to authentically capture a script’s story and paint it visually on the screen through his camera lens. No matter how opposite the previous project is from the next, Rymsha’s keen understanding of film, vast skill as a cinematographer and his ability to connect and communicate with those he works with have ensured that he nail the director’s vision every time.

Last year Rymsha earned the prestigious Artistic Vision Award for Best Cinematography from the Santa Monica Film Festival for his mesmerizing work on Ibrahim Nada’s film “Zaar,” a dramatic thriller that did exceptionally well on the film festival circuit taking home several awards from the Cleveland International Film Festival and San Antonio Film Festival as well.  

For Rymsha, who hails from Saint Petersburg, Russia, the past two years have been riddled with accolade after accolade leading his name to become more and more well-known across the United States. In 2016 Rymsha was nominated for the Indie Gathering Award for Best Cinematography from the Indie Gathering International Film Festival for his work as the cinematographer on Vasily Chuprina’s dramatic crime film “The Rat,” yet another one of Rymsha’s projects that was highlighted by film festivals across the states.

“The Rat” director Vasily Chuprina, who’s earned countless awards including the Platinum Award from WorldFest Houston for the film “The Boy By The Sea,” explains, “Some directors don’t get too involved with the cinematography process and prefer to focus on the story and performance– I’m that type of director… and that is why I work with Yan Rymsha… because I trust his vision and I know that he understands my vision.”

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Poster for the award-winning film “Plaything”

Last year Rymsha was the cinematographer on the film “Plaything,” a dramatic musical directed by Yufei Qiao (“The Sadness Shop”), which earned the four awards from the 2017 California Women’s Film Festival, as well as the Award of Merit from The IndieFest Film Awards.

As a musical, the film was starkly different from anything Rymsha had worked on prior, yet his visual skill behind the lens shone through clearly and his work proved to be tantamount to the overall success of the film. The integral nature of Rymsha’s work on “Plaything” was singled out and praised within the industry earlier this year when he was awarded the Master of the Craft Award for Best Cinematography from the Southern Shorts Awards for his work.

Starring Marianne Bourg (“Awkward,” “Sketchy”), Gabriel Burrafato (“RoboCop,” “Street Legal”) and Samantha Sutliff (“The Leslie”) “Plaything” tells a story of a woman trapped in a dangerous polygamous relationship. Desperate to fight for her love, she engages in the ancient Chinese game known as Mahjong with the other women serving as her opponents, but when she finds out what’s really hidden behind the game, the truth may be too painful to face.

“From the first moment I fell in love with this project. It was period piece, it was challenging and it had an awesome storyline,” recalls Rymsha. “For this project I paid more attention to lighting. Me and my gaffer spent quite a lot of time deciding on the lighting style. Since it was a period piece, Yufei wanted to have an antique, vintage feeling.”

Influenced by the work of master painters such as Jan Vermeer and Hans Holbein Younger, Rymsha designed the lighting to reflect a visual warmth that both softened the skin tones of the actors and helped transport viewers into a world set in the distant past.

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Still from “Plaything”

 While Rymsha’s versatility behind the camera and his unparalleled knowledge of how to use certain angles to create a desired feeling within the audience have been a powerful tool in his work, his use of lighting has been equally as important to each and every film he’s shot to date.

Earlier on in his career Rymsha was the cinematographer on the dramatic sci-fi film “Sandbox” from Latvian director Gleb Kiselov (“Dollar for a Thought”), which earned Gleb a Best Director Award nomination at the Largo Film Awards and was also chosen as an Official Selection of the Short Stop International Film Festival. Starring Andre McQueen (“It’s Temporary,” “LaLa Land Sketch”), Al Gerschutz (“Nightcomer,” “Dirty South”) and Masha Malinina (“The Labyrinth,” “Fresh Off the Boat”), the film follows Jack (McQueen) a man who wakes up in the middle of nowhere with complete amnesia. As he sets off scouting the mysterious place, he encounters Judas (Gerschutz) who triggers Jack’s memory sending him back to a specific day in his life when he nearly lost his daughter.   

For the film Rymsha was essentially tasked with creating two worlds, that of Jack’s present experience and the one where his past memory unfolds. In order to represent the strangeness of the present world Jack wakes up in, Rymsha chose to use neutral density filters, which created an infrared appearance that drives the feeling of being stuck in purgatory and the hopelessness Jack experiences. When it came to the world of Jack’s memories however, all the scenes were shot with vibrant color, which perfectly represented the nature of his past being full of life on a visual level.

His strategic choices as the cinematographer of the film were invaluable in painting the film’s story visually. Once again, Rymsha nailed the visual mark,

It’s easy to see from the montage of his work below why he has earned such staggering acclaim for his work internationally. He is a proverbial genius when it comes to crafting the perfect lighting, and knowing precisely what angles and camera movements will best support the story.

With nearly 30 films already under his belt, including the upcoming film “Battle Fields” from CineRockom International Film Festival Platinum Award winner Anouar H. Smaine, several prestigious awards and an unparalleled capacity for taking on diverse projects, Yan Rymsha is one cinematographer audiences across the states will assuredly being seeing a whole lot more from for years to come.

 

Britain’s Rosie Kinane-Adams is not just a producer, but a true storyteller

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Rosie Kinane-Adams

Rosie Kinane-Adams has always been aware of the power of storytelling. She understands the connection one can feel with someone they have never met, simply by hearing their story. She has felt this obsession since she was a child. She wanted to know everything about everyone that ever existed. She became fascinated with television and its ability to share the story of a child her age going through much different circumstances; from her house in London, England, she was able to see far beyond her city, and into the happenings around the world.

It was only natural for Kinane-Adams to want to do her part to tell people’s stories, and the answer was simple. She would be a producer. She would spend her life showing people who overcome all obstacles, whether it be the story of a dancer who overcame a disability to perform on the biggest stage in the world, or a couple trying to overcome their lifestyle differences and fall in love.

“I wanted to be responsible for inspiring people around the world and showing them what’s out there and what people are capable of,” she said.

Kinane-Adams has worked on many successful projects throughout her career. She produced Married at First Sight Australia, which has been nominated for Best Factual Program Silver at the Logie Awards. She also produced two seasons of Simon Cowell’s hit show America’s Got Talent, impressing audiences and colleagues across the globe.

“The simplest way to describe working with Rosie would be like a ‘breath of fresh air.’ That is why she stands out among other producers I worked with. Her approach to the job, her attitude, and her overall presence are something all producers need to strive for. She brings excitement, positivity, and new ideas in every situation she is in. She is the best producer I have ever worked with; and hopefully will again in the near future,” said Chase Marbumrung, Line Producer of America’s Got Talent. “Rosie is so amazing at what she does because she is dynamic. She is full of energy and new ideas; and she adapts to any situation without sacrificing her character. Everyone I know who worked with her can vouch for this. Every production would be lucky to have to her.”

Earlier this year, Kinane-Adams once again put her touch on a popular television show, this time being for the ninth season of Masterchef Australia. The Masterchef franchise is one of the most successful cooking shows in the world, with a presence in 52 countries, and on every continent. The Australian version differs slightly from the original British version. The initial round of the show consists of a large number of hopeful contestants from across Australia individually “auditioning” by presenting a food dish before the three judges in order to gain one of 50 semi-final places. The semi-finalists then compete in several challenges which test their food knowledge and preparation skills. The contestants will then be whittled down through a number of individual and team-based cooking challenges and weekly elimination rounds until a winning MasterChef is crowned. The winner plays for a prize that includes chef training from leading professional chefs, the chance to have their own cookbook published, and $250,000 in cash. Working on the show has been a mission point of Kinane-Adams’ career.

Masterchef is the most successful cooking show format in the world, and a lot of that comes down to story. People at home love to see home cooks like themselves succeed and achieve their dream. It’s about good people wanting to follow their dream and learn from the best in their business. It’s a feel-good show, and they never go out of style,” said Kinane Adams.

After her success with Married at First Sight, the Endomol Shine Group recruited Kinane-Adams to work on Masterchef. They were looking for the best, and Kinane-Adams’ results from Married at First Sight showed she was just that. Her episodes did incredibly well in the ratings up against tough competition. Her episodes came in at number one in the ratings the night they aired, and were up 98 per cent year on year from the timeslot the year before. She continued a similar pattern on Masterchef.

“Having an internationally renowned producer like Rosie on the team brought an invaluable source of knowledge and creativity to the show. Working with her inspired creativity for myself and the rest of the team. Rosie’s unique approach to storytelling is what makes her one of the best in the business,” said Kelly Maycock, Senior Producer of Masterchef Australia.

Kinane-Adams edit produced two 60-minute episodes of Masterchef Australia. To do this, she took the raw content from the field and crafted it into a clear, concise and compelling episode for the viewers at home. She would watch through over a hundred hours of footage and create a clear timeline and story from the many stories that existed within the episode. From there, she would work with her editor to polish it into an episode that met the high standard that Masterchef has the reputation for. She was vital to the success of her episodes, and the season as a whole.

Working on such a respected format within my industry, and one that has been around in one form or another since I was born, is an incredible milestone for me. To have such final creative control on such a successful and complex show is a wonderful feeling. With just myself and an editor working on it gives you a real sense of ownership over the episode. The success of that episode is, in a large part, down to storytelling,” Kinane-Adams said. “The show has a lot of integrity. It’s all about encouraging growth for the everyday man, proving that anyone can follow their dreams and achieve them. It has a really positive vibe to it, and that’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.”

Masterchef is known in the industry for being one of the hardest shows to post-produce and edit. It is said if you can do Masterchef, you can do it all in the reality world, and Kinane-Adams can truly do everything in the reality world. She is one of Britain’s best, and there is no doubt that we can continue to expect great work from this storyteller for quite some time.

PACKING A PUNCH ON SCREEN WITH ALYSSA VENIECE

Female action heroes; yes, the time has officially arrived. Between Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, the age of lead action female star is upon us. There have doubtlessly been those who have preceded them but these two hit films prove that women in these roles are not only equal to their male counterparts but are currently exceeding them in popularity (to say nothing of revenue generating). Assuredly, a host of productions which offer these female alpha types and actress Alyssa Veniece is ready. She’s not just interested in pursuing these types of opportunities, they are her goal. She espouses her love of action films, especially the ones in which the females overcome emotional weaknesses and matters of the heart. As with the aforementioned actions stars, Veniece possesses not only the aesthetic beauty of a lead actress but also the athleticism which is a necessity. It’s the reason that the filmmakers of “My Ex-Ex” cast her in the role of Tina Phung for the film.

In contrast to actresses who prepare a part once they are cast, Alyssa had literally been training for years when she was serendipitously offered the role of Tina. She had been working out at Tommy Chang’s Black Belt World Taekwondo school for a year and a half prior to being offered the role and training in kickboxing and muay thai for seven years before that. Heeding her father’s advice that “success happens when preparation meets opportunity” Veniece has always been driven to make the best of use of time varying her skill set. “My Ex-Ex” was her first project as a stunt actress and first opportunity to play a character who spoke and could also use her fight technique. Tina Phung is fearless and brimming with self-confidence. Reinforcing her father’s words, her work on this film allowed Alyssa to experience what it was like to work as a professional using all the skills she’d developed specifically to land jobs in entertainment, which includes years of acting training. Mirroring the mental state of her character, the experience gave Veniece the confidence to know that she was on the right path and capable of achieving her dreams.

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“My Ex-Ex” is not the typical vehicle for an action role. It’s the tale of a recently-jilted woman (Mary) who has to decide whether to take back the man who dumped her or return to her college boyfriend. When Mary’s boyfriend Ted invites her out to a fancy restaurant she’s convinced he’s going to pop the question but instead of getting hitched, Mary gets dumped. To cheer her up, Mary’s friends take her to see a psychic who casts a spell to reconnect Mary with her ex-boyfriend. The only problem is that Mary didn’t say which one. She bumps into her college boyfriend Patrick, and despite feeling he’s completely wrong for her, she slowly falls for him again. Ted soon realizes his mistake and wants Mary back. Mary is torn between her two exes: Mr. Right on paper, and Mr. Right for her.

Alyssa appears as Tina Phung; a young, fearless, actress and skilled fighter. She is the contrast to the main character when they are both auditioning for a role, however he was not so skilled and definitely more nervous. In one of the most hilarious scenes of the film, these two characters audition for a casting director who asks for a glimpse of the character’s ninja skills. Phung rips off her Adidas tearaways and begins her (actual) fight routine: a mix of punches, spin kicks, and roundhouses. The casting director praises her and then requests the other auditionee to perform the same, which is less than extraordinary. The entire group watches him in disbelief and, in the end, the director awards Tina Phung the role, which she happily accepts while still popping her bubble gum.

Alyssa describes the charismatic Tina Phung as being part herself and part the self she aspires to become. Veniece relates, “I created Tina to be a girl who takes every moment as it comes, every challenge as it comes. She was super confident, uncomplicated, and self-assured in her talents and capabilities. I believed she came from a close-knit family who supported her and had faith that she was a star, so when she entered the audition rooms she already believed she would come out the winner. I’d describe her as a totally un-phased, free-spirit with pretty bad ass martial arts skills. Tina and I are alike in our fearlessness and sense of adventure. We like to push our boundaries and challenge ourselves without worrying about who wants to take our spot. I’d say our style is different. She’s pretty bubbly and a bit unaware of her surroundings, almost in her own happy bubble. Me on the other hand, I’m always aware of who is around me and the vibes they give off. I probably wouldn’t be the one obnoxiously popping my bubble gum in an audition room. Her confidence is quite loudly displayed, and mine is simply internal.”

There’s no danger of Alyssa being a one trick pony/action film based actor. Veniece got her start early on as a bikini model and purposely avoided music video work after she had been cast one too many times as the “hot girl.” These days she has numerous Hollywood blockbusters, commercials, and stunt actor roles to her credits. She readily admits that it’s like a secret hidden power when she is sized up as “just another pretty face” and then demonstrates her agility and fighting skills. She reveals, “It’s show business and you have to let people know all the abilities you bring to the table. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. When I first enrolled at Black Belt World taekwondo school, the owner took note of my skills and was dong fight coordination on the Pacific Rim production filming in Toronto. At the time I had no stunt demo reel, nothing to show for my technique, only modelling photos. He brought me to the set to meet the stunt coordinator, who took one look at the shots and said “Well, she knows how to wear a bikini.” You can imagine my disdain. I never let that happen again.”

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So what’s the most unexpected secret weapon in her arsenal that she exhibited on “My Ex-Ex”? Veniece declares without hesitation, “I can rip off my tear-away pants like any pro now. It’s pretty impressive.”

Rhythmic gymnast Ana Perez talks National Base Spanish Championship 2015

Ana Perez has always loved rhythmic gymnastics. It was her first love, and she realized it when she was just four years old, growing up in Valencia, Spain. She appreciates every aspect of it, basking in the sense of achievement that comes from having a perfect routine. She loves the concentration of the sport, only having two minutes to make something flawless, knowing even the smallest twitch can throw off everything for the judges. However, what she likes most, are the hours spent training, knowing she is fighting for a dream. She felt this when she was a competitive athlete for twelve years, and now, she feels it as a coach.

Working with many top athletes, Perez quickly became recognized as one of Spain’s best rhythmic gymnastics coaches at the age of sixteen. Ten years have gone by, and her reputation is known, not just in her native country, but around the world in her sport. She has won championships and trained the best, sharing her experience with beginners and shaping them into professionals. In 2015, this is just what she did for her winning team at the National Base Spanish Championship with her club, Club Morvedre.

“When I saw the result on the screen of the ranking and saw that Club Morvedre was the first, we were calm, since there were some teams to compete, but when the category ended and Morvedre was first in the National Base Championship in the Juvenile category, we embraced the technical team and the gymnasts who make up the whole and we were excited. At that moment, we felt very proud, because it was a dream that we had finally achieved. At other times, we had not had good days of competition and at last here we had performed a perfect exercise,” Perez described.

Every November, this Championship occurs, where 16 teams of each category come from all the communities. This Championship of Spain Base level corresponds to the second highest level that Spain has, only ahead is the Absolute level. It is a competition that allows gymnasts to be evaluated on their level, where they can take a step forward in the rankings. It is one of the most vital competitions for the athletes in the country.

“I love being able to teach gymnasts, transmitting the values of sport, competition, discipline, companionship and self-improvement that are essential to rhythmic gymnastics. Even more importantly, about the relationship between a gymnast and her coach. A good relationship leads to the achievement of results. There is a very strong relationship between myself, as a coach, and this youth team, as performers. Our mutual work has allowed us to obtain the best result that we could achieve,” said Perez.

As a coach, Perez helped to make the corrections and modify those parts of the choreography that did not work well. Thanks to these corrections, the team were classified in the autonomic phase for the National Base Spanish Championship, in Zaragoza, and were champions of Spain in the Young Category.

“Ana worked closely on the project where we managed to help the youth team win first place in the Spanish Championship. She is an excellent co-worker and a good support in the hardest moments or, better said, in the most stressful moments as well as in the happiest ones. She always tries to look for the best for the Morvedre club, and she gives it her all. She is ferociously committed to her work. I have worked with her for a long time and she has taught me many things, among which I emphasize commitment, discipline and comradeship,” said Alicia Gaspar, Perez’s fellow coach.

When preparing the team for the competition, Perez worked on the warm-ups, handling of the ribbon, and the physical preparation required for competition, as the gymnasts needed to be in the proper physical condition at the required level of competition. This sport is about sets of repetitions of the choreographies prepared by the trainers so that the exercise is successfully performed. They trained in the summer, preparing the choreography with the music. They trained three hours a day, five days a week, making sure every detail was ironed-out.

“My contribution has been to give my best to bring about the best result, both in the editing and in the choice of music. I have given them the commitment and the confidence to be able to get the result obtained. I find this to be an essential element to coaching any sport, both when it comes to training and when it comes to competing. The instructions are key, as well as the part that the athlete plays,” said Perez.

Some parts of the choreography originally did not go as planned, as the apparatuses fell and the gymnasts became nervous. Perez then decided to make it easier for some pitches, so gymnasts felt safer with their choreography. That is essential when it comes to competing, because gymnasts should be comfortable with their exercises. Without Perez, the team could never have achieved what they did, and this was acknowledged by all who witnessed the team’s results.

“As president of the Morvedre Club where Ana has been working for more than ten years, I have to thank her for everything she does: for being part of my team of coaches, for the great work done season after season at all levels and for her results obtained. But above all, I have to thank her for creating the good atmosphere of fellowship between coaches, parents and gymnasts, as well as the excellent preparation of the gymnasts that led to one of the competitions in which more than 100 gymnasts competed, getting to be among the best,” said Luis Marín.

Needless to say, Perez’s commitment to coaching is greatly appreciated by all.

Videographer and video editor Maria Aguado had “the courage to pursue her dream”

“All of our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Maria Aguado wrote this to herself at the beginning of her career. At the time, she was just a girl from Barcelona with big dreams; she wanted to make films. Throughout her life, Aguado never stopped believing she was meant to be behind a camera, and this belief became her mantra. Now, she is one of Spain’s best videographers and video editors, and her faith to overcome any obstacle has contributed greatly to her acclaim.

Throughout her career, Aguado has shown international audiences what she is capable of with a series of celebrated projects. She worked with high-profile fashion designers Claudia Morera and Carlota Cahis, the popular shoe brand Alvarez & Moixonet, the fashion company Brownie, the iconic fitness brand Les Mills, and the eclectic Spanish shop Button Barcelona. She worked with the advertising company Puente Aereo helped the company gain new clients, her videos for the magician Nilo with MCN Magic helped put the magician on the map, and just this year, she worked with the fitness company Human Body Experience to create outstanding informational videos for consumers. Her work in both filming and editing has impressed many, and her passion for what she does inspires others.

“As editors, having another point of view is basic. Working together gives us the opportunity to fusion our minds and obtain the best results. Maria brings a very creative perspective to every project. She is very hard working and has a huge knowledge as an editor. Working with her is a pleasure,” said fellow editor Felipe Bravo.

Bravo is a well-known editor in Barcelona, and has worked alongside Aguado many times.  The two immediately connected because of their shared passion for film, and make quote the team. Last year, they worked on the award-winning short Happy Burger, a project that Aguado thinks of fondly.

“I love the feeling of being emerged. While I film or edit everything else disappears,” said Aguado. “I create a world that is later shown to an audience to express a feeling, a concept or an idea. Since the age of seven, I filmed my dolls, edited my films and wrote screenplays without being aware of what I was doing. I grew up with a camera.”

Aguado’s first job was years ago, working as a film editor for Puente Aéreo, an advertisement company. Just beginning, it helped the now esteemed filmmaker learn a lot about advertising and editing ads for television. Since that time, she has worked for countless brands. After Puente Aéreo, she moved on to working for the interactive party platform Get Wasted Events. She was ready for a new experience, and it was there was she learned exactly what style she enjoyed that has now become her signature.

“I always film with a bit of camera movement. My shots are not static and I use a lot of close ups. While filming I try to forget everything I’ve ever seen and have a new vision in each project. I play while I am filming, I don’t see it as a job. I also edit in my head while filming, I know which shot will go next to the other, it’s like building up a story,” said Aguado.

Aguado’s first time working with the fashion industry was with Carlota Cahis, a well-known designer of jewelry and clothes. By this time, Aguado already had an outstanding reputation, and the firm contacted her to film and edit Cahis’ fashion show. Cahis was instantly impressed, and contacted Aguado many times after this to shoot for her. Quickly, other designers began to notice her and to seek the videographer out. She did several fashion videos for fashion designers such as Mercedes Arnus in her “Pure White” Collection and Claudia Morera’s brand, selected in 080 Fashion Week Catwalk Barcelona.

“I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do. I grew up playing with a camera. This is what I’ve always done. Filming and creating is a huge part of me. Without filming and editing I wouldn’t be able to fully express myself,” said Aguado.

Not only does Aguado excel with advertising and fashion videos, she is highly experienced in film. She worked with director Max Larruy on the film Caperucita Roja, and later worked on the feature film Barcelona Nit destiu. She has an extraordinarily artistic eye whilst looking through a lens, and her editing experience helps her know exactly how to frame a shot. She also edits films, such as the short Blanco Roto by Director Belen Reina.

“Creating movies is a way to believe in the magic of life. It is a way to experience different lives. It is a way to be a part of new stories and experience another point of view. It is a way to make people feel, know, and experience new emotions, new ideas! It is a way to express the parts most inside of your soul, and surprise yourself in the process by opening your mind to new perspectives. It is a way to make your dreams come true while you show them to the world. Making cinema is the same as travelling around your dreams. Making movies is not letting the child you’ve got inside to die. It is a game. Being able to make cinema is a good reason to be alive,” concluded Aguado.