Writer Sonia Gumuchian Crafts Enthralling Stories for Film and TV

Poster for the new film “Home Entertainment”
Poster for the new film “Home Entertainment”

Every fiction contains at least a kernel of truth, but a great writer knows when not to let the truth get in the way of a good story. Taking inspiration from the people and experiences in her own life, Canadian writer Sonia Gumuchian is in a class of her own. With boundless curiosity, keen instincts and extraordinary perception, Gumuchian constantly watches and listens to the world around her, filtering everything she observes through the prism of her rich imagination.

Her most recent project, the film “Home Entertainment,” which Gumuchian wrote, co-directed, produced and edited, reveals her uncanny ability to translate real life experiences into laugh out loud stories that resonate with audiences. Told in three parts, the film takes place in a house that is rented out to temporary residents each weekend by its owner, who has a voyeuristic streak.

“Every story in this anthology, believe it or not, was heavily inspired by true stories- whether they were based off of our personal experiences or ignited with the help of a fascinating person that, at some point, crossed our path,” explain Gumuchian and her co-director Katherine Eaton in a Director’s Statement.

From a couple’s floundering romantic getaway to an unconventional sex-driven memorial and more, “Home Entertainment” follows a different set of house guests each weekend, all watched by the homeowner’s group of rich oddball dinner party guests through livestream security camera footage.

Eaton says, “Working alongside Sonia, it is evident that she is nothing short of an amazing writer, whose vision and leadership stands out beyond the norm. Apart from her great work ethic, she has this incredible creative ability to tell great stories, which are not only outrageously funny but also grabs and tugs at the hearts and minds of her audience — essentially getting people to think. I believe these elements make her an incredible asset in any film environment.”

Sonia Gumuchian

Gumuchian’s talent for creating captivating stories based, at least in part, on truths from her own experiences, was apparent even in her earliest work, and it’s one of the reasons her writing is so magnetic. Her vivid imagination proved invaluable when, as a young girl, Gumuchian was rarely surrounded by kids her own age. Aside from her parents and grandparents, her closest companions were often books, movies and TV. By the time she was a teenager, Gumuchian had taken to creating her own stories. During her first year of high school she met a strange boy with a bizarre hobby, and he quickly became her first muse.

“His name was Liam, and he told me stories of how he loved spending hours stalking people he barely knew, gathering intel on their lives, and even going as far as breaking into his school’s office and reading up on everyone’s medical history. Suffice to say, Liam and his strange addiction fascinated me,” Gumuchian said. “So one day, I sat down and wrote an entire novel from his point of view. It was through that experience that I found how exciting it was to spend hours escaping into someone else’s point of view.”

It was soon abundantly clear that the young Gumuchian was a bona fide prodigy. As soon as the ink was dry in her novel about Liam she focused her full attention on training with LEAP, a prestigious academy for promising young playwrights in Vancouver. By the time she finished high school she had already distinguished herself as the writer of two one-act plays, both of which were chosen to be produced and performed by the community of professional stage actors and writers at the Vancouver Arts Club Theatre Company.

The young writer’s remarkable abilities and accomplishments earned Gumuchian acceptance into the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, which was once again ranked by the Hollywood Reporter as the #1 film school in the country — where she studied Writing for Film and Television. Gumuchian was quickly tapped by networks, producers and prominent figures spanning every corner of the industry to contribute her skills much earlier than most writers. Though still in school, she began taking her first steps as a writer by learning from the brightest executives who oversaw shows on FOX, HBO, ABC, and virtually every network and studio from across the industry’s proverbial alphabet soup, such as “Big Little Lies,” “Barry,” “Silicon Valley, “Game of Thrones,” “Family Guy,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Black-ish,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and more.

“After working at TV and cable networks, at studios, and on independent films, I fell in love with the process of bringing stories to life,” said Gumuchian, recalling her early experiences as a writer in the industry. “From script to screen, my exposure to the inner workings of content creation taught me a lot about the craft and… shaped the industry professional I am today.”

Years working in creative development at many of the biggest networks in the world gave Gumuchian a staggering wealth of experience. XS Media Director of Development Julie Zhang, who worked alongside Gumuchian at HBO, says, “Sonia brings a contagious energy to the table that hooks you from minute one. Apart from amazing taste and her eye for good stories, she is a go-getter, and very determined to achieve the goals she sets for herself. In this business it’s sometimes more important to be perseverant than talented, so it’s good that she is both.”

As she grew in experience, so too did she grow in her determination to write and share with the world a story entirely of her own. With her 2017 script for the ambitious fantasy-comedy series “Loyal Royals” — which she created as well as wrote — that Gumuchian revealed once again that she is an imaginative and engaging writer in the modern era of television. The story is at once a whimsical and refreshing comedy, a farcical fantasy set in a world of knights and dragons and magic.

“Set in a medieval town, the recently divorced King Robert is forced to move into his daughter’s castle across the lands and aims to regain the little dignity he has left,” she explained. “Princess Lilian and Robert, her conservative dad, are at odds when he disapproves of her engagement to a frog, pisses off a local population of culturally sensitive unicorns, and continues causing ruckus in her kingdom.”

 

Her original pilot for “Loyal Royals” was exceptionally well received by critics and festival judges. Spotlighting Gumuchian’s talent on an international level, “Loyal Royals” earned First Place at the Hollywood Hills Screenplay Competition, Fifth Place at the London Film Awards, the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival’s Honorable Mention Award, the Jack Oakie Doubletake Award for Exceptional Achievement in Comedy, as well the award for Best Unproduced Script at the London Filmmaker Festival. “Loyal Royals” was also chosen an Official Finalist of the World Series of Screenwriting, a Semi-Finalist at the Screenplay Festival, as well an Official Selection of the Atlanta Comedy Film Festival. The success of the script proved once again that she is on par with the best writers in the industry, and it opened the door for her next project, the film “Home Entertainment.”

Ambitious and original, “Home Entertainment,” which Gumuchian marks as her biggest project to-date, stars Brock Ciarlelli (ABC’s “The Middle”) and features a soundtrack composed by guitarist Benjamin Sturley, known for his work with Noah Cyrus and Grammy-winner Selena Gomez. Hilarious and thoroughly unexpected, the film recently had its Los Angeles screening and is preparing to begin its festival run.

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Actor Brock Ciarlelli & Gumuchian on set of “Home Entertainment” (Photo by Penelope Eaton)

Perhaps Gumuchian’s greatest asset as a storyteller is an uncanny talent for identifying and appreciating the huge reserves of untapped narrative potential hidden in the most unexpected, overlooked and eschewed recesses of everyday life. Borne of her innate perception and indefatigable imagination, an endless stream of stories pour from Gumuchian’s mind — their impact compounded exponentially by the years she’s devoted to honing her already razor-sharp writing skills. Curiosity, imagination and an unrivaled mastery over the written word enabled Sonia Gumuchian to deftly ascend the ranks of cinematic academia, and she’s fully on her way to becoming one of the most sought-after writers in this burgeoning new golden age for film and television.

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Character Technical Director Qiao Wang revolutionizes animation tech for Lexus commercials

When watching the animated 2011 hit Rango, inspiration struck Qiao Wang. At the time, he was a graphic designer, creating still images, but when watching the film, he was transfixed by the technology used to create such realistic computer animation. Always a fast learner, Wang began to study new styles of mathematics and computer science to combine with his artistic background, wanting to create similar films to that which so motivated him.

“The visual effects industry in filmmaking was still fresh and new to the world, and not a lot of people knew what it was in my country. I enjoyed what I did as a designer and artist, but I would have definitely changed my career path earlier if I knew what VFX was,” said Wang.

Since that time, the Chinese-native has gone on to become an internationally sought-after Character Technical Director and Character Effects Artist. Using his skills in both mathematics and design, Wang helps to conceptualize some of the most beloved characters in many recent popular films, including Rocket the Racoon and Groot in the mega blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War. Not limiting himself to just one medium, Wang has collaborated with Justin Timberlake on his latest music video, “Filthy”, and worked with world renowned companies, like Target, on national commercial campaigns.

“Qiao is both technical and artistic, he contributed to the team and film’s success in many aspects, including troubleshooting and solving technical issues on hero characters, and developing aesthetics for character cloth and hair simulation and skin deformation,” said Fabrice Ceugniet, Creature Pipeline Technical Director at Method Studios.

Ceugniet and Qiao worked together at Walt Disney Animation Studios on the upcoming film Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 and Godzilla: King of Monsters. The two had previously worked together many times, and recently worked on a commercial series for the leading automotive company Lexus. The commercials, such as “2018 Lexus Golden Opportunity Sales Event: Lap the Planet” provided a unique and fun challenge for Wang, who delivered both technical and art direction to the digital Lexus vehicles. He took on many responsibilities for the commercial, working closely with the Character Supervisor, CG Supervisor, VFX Supervisor, Producer, Art Director, Model Maker, and Animators.

“Vehicles are like characters, they have characteristics. Especially Lexus vehicles; they are not only transportation tools, but also a work of art to me. To be able to help build extremely realistic CG Lexus cars sounds very cool, especially as they are the best-selling luxury cars in the United States. I’ve done human characters, cartoon characters, spaceship vehicles, utility vehicles in feature films, and more, but this was a type of project I’ve never done before. I always love to experience new challenges,” said Wang.

The goal was to create realistic CG Lexus cars to express their high performance. This meant that everything had to be exactly the same as the real cars. Wang was up to the task, so he first started doing research and development on rigging setup for cars, watching many videos to find out the details of movement of a race car’s wheels, suspensions, etc. He also had a few meetings with animators to ask them about what needed to be provided. After all that, Wang did not use the auto mastic vehicle setup tool to rig the cars. Instead, he scripted his own procedural Lexus cars rigging tool to provide animators with only a few very intuitive custom controls. He was also able to widely use the ‘Piston’ rigging system that he personally developed previously to fix bugs and improve features to make it a very powerful component in our character technology pipeline. These systems require less setup time and provide institutive and realistic controls for improving the motion of vehicles and many auto parts. On top of all this, Wang also solved wheel spinning motion blur issues to achieve the realistic yet artistic wheel effects. It requires a lot less rig rebuild time when there are model updates for over 10 vehicles. Undoubtedly, the vast technological improvements that Wang implemented saved not only him, but the entire team time, money, and effort.

“I really like the fast pace of this type of project, and the final results are fantastic. The whole production process went super smooth. I also like the different ways of logical thinking to explore and solve various fully mechanical rigging challenges for the vehicle parts,” said Wang.

The commercial series was to promote the 2018 Golden Opportunity Sales event for Lexus. Wang’s work was pivotal to the commercials’ success, and ultimately that of the sale. The company knew they needed someone with his talent, which is why they reached out to him in the first place to take the task. Wang did not take this honor lightly and is extremely happy with the outcome.

“It always feels great to know that our work is helping clients to make more money. I was amazed at how real those cars look, and how beautiful. Even though I work in the industry, if no one told me, I wouldn’t know those were computer generated cars,” he concluded.

Watch the other commercials in the series, “2018 Lexus Golden Opportunity Sales Event: Always in Your Element” and “2018 Lexus Golden Opportunity Sales Event: Higher Standard”.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee
Photo by Shino Tang

Art Director Cagri Kara Always Exceeds Expectations

Art Director Cagri Kara, whose professional reputation reaches all the way from his native Istanbul to current headquarters in Hollywood, has established himself as one of the leading, most sought after talents in his field. A renown award-winning talent whose skill and professional capacity effortlessly spans a wide variety of visual platforms – posters, billboards, web, television – Kara is currently enjoying a fruitful alliance with home entertainment giant Netflix, making key contributions to promotional campaigns for their acclaimed original series.

Most recently, Cagri was key in the launch of a groundbreaking international project for the company, one where his own Turkish heritage played a critical role. Having previously executed well received campaigns for Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet and Grace and Frank, when Kara got a call from top Hollywood entertainment marketing and advertising agency Rhubarb, the results were all but inevitable. Truly in the right place at the right time and brimming with the skill to make him indispensable, the stars aligned for Kara when he was given the green light to art direct promotional efforts for an ambitious new fantasy adventure series The Protector.

“I’d worked on several campaigns with Rhubarb in the past,” Kara said. “When Andrew told me about the project I was very excited and felt very lucky to work on this Netflix project in Istanbul. They brought me on-board right away.”

Kara’s instinctive ability to command and extend the delicate co-dependence which advertising and pop culture share is reliably invaluable. This unrivaled skill has also earned him a shelf full of awards and recognitions: his groundbreaking 2015 Woman with No Voice Campaign for Polisan Cosmetics was took both the Crystal Apple Festival of Creativity’s Most Creative Use of Social Media and the Kirmizi Advertising Awards’ Best use of Medium-length Video in Social Media honors; the year prior, Kara’s boundlessly appealing Coca-Cola 50th Anniversary in Turkey Campaign won the Crystal Apple’s Best Integrated Campaign award and along the way he’s earned additional trophies from the MIXX Awards and the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity

Significantly, Kara’s works seamlessly in any setting, always displaying with an authority, ease and understanding of his role that is internationally successful.
“It’s important to understand the culture when you work on a project from a foreign country,” Kara said. “Advertising is basically a communication channel to speak to the public. So it’s imperative that you understand people’s cultural and societal filters, especially when they look at printed media or a TV commercial for less than 15 seconds.”
For the Protector, Kara’s heritage and comprehensive mix of intuition and commanding visual design was ideal.

“There were lots of advantages to me being a Turkish art director,” Kara said. “The story is about a young man given mystical powers by a talismanic keepsake. Fighting shadowy forces, he learns about himself and his past along the way. It is the first superhero show in Turkey and it also has a lot of historical content and deep significance that would be harder for a non-Turkish person to research and understand in such a short time. The ancient history that is woven into the show is something Turkish people cherish and are very proud of.”

Kara relished the layers of societal and cultural elements the project features, and approached the project with characteristic sensitivity.

“We had many great concepts that we needed to cover in the production,” he said. “The story plays in our current period of time, and it connects modern day Istanbul to its past. It was challenging to juxtapose the ancient history of the city with a modern execution. The photographer and motion director for the campaign were very well known and had many years of experience as artists in the field, so that made things go very smoothly. Also the cast were amazing with their patience.”

“The show’s importance for Turkish culture cannot be overstated,” Kara said. “It was very exciting for me to work on something that will be seen as groundbreaking and, eventually, a part of Turkey’s entertainment culture history”.
“I’m very satisfied with the result of the production and very excited to see the campaign out in the world. There is already a lot of buzz in print and television media about it.”

Kara’s involvement and enthusiasm are second only to his elevated sense of craft and ingenuity, attributes which define both his acclaimed professional reputation and the accomplished depth of skill he brings to any project. This winning formula—which makes Kara’s presence indispensable— guarantees an ever heightening professional profile.

As the Rhubarb agency’s owner-creative director Andrew Irving said, “When Netflix asked us to help with their first original Turkish series, I immediately thought of Cagri. He flew to Istanbul to direct the marketing photo-shoot, which was shot by Tamer Yilmaz, one of Turkey’s leading fashion photographers. He played an integral role in creating the marketing campaign, and Cagri directed the cast with such finesse that the client said she didn’t know how we would have accomplished the shoot without him.”

Writer and Director ADRIAN PROSPERO: Getting the Job Done

Recognized as an influential storyteller with tremendous success in the festival circuit, acclaimed Writer and Director Adrian Prospero can be described as a young Ridley Scott; a filmmaker whose sole focus is on his craft and in getting the job done- and done right. This preeminent Australian director has made himself indispensable to the industry by crafting films that are uniquely his.

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Celebrated Australian filmmaker Adrian Prospero, who writes, directs, edits and produces various projects, on set for an upcoming production. 

2018 has been a defining year for Prospero, having received glowing recognitions from festivals all around the globe including the Los Angeles Film Awards and the Berlin Flash Film Festival.

Adrian Prospero received great acclaim in his film “The Hunt” about an absentee son attempting to reconnect with his father by going on a hunt for a beast that no one believe exists. Prospero showcased his capabilities in building suspense in this drama that leaves the audience at the edge of their seats. The film earned the Best Australian Film Award at the prestigious Canadian World International Film Festival which recognizes the very best of world cinema with submissions from over 90 countries around the world.

The Hunt

CANADIAN WORLD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OFFICIAL WINNER - Best Australian Film - THE HUNT

“The Hunt” was also recognized by the Accolade Film Festival, a festival celebrated by Movie Maker Magazine as one of the Top 25 Festivals in its category, and was a finalist at the New York Film Awards. For his screenwriting, Adrian was recently a finalist at the Ojai Film Festival in recognition of his compelling script for “The Marketplace,” a highly anticipated project which will continue to build Adrian’s impressive reputation.

Prospero’s dedication to his craft can be seen through his investment in himself as a filmmaker, having qualifications in Film Production, Marketing and Accounting. This explains his great ability in keeping productions within budget, and being able to excel in the festival circuit due to his deep understanding of what sells to an audience. In addition to that, as an esteemed member of the DGA, Prospero has also invested in various Masterclasses and have taken several short courses in directing, screenwriting and photography in order to become a well-rounded filmmaker.

The distinguished writer and director admits “I see great value in investing in yourself in order to become a better version of what you currently are. You are your greatest asset and you should always seek to improve yourself”.

Prospero also takes pride in his multitasking abilities which allows him to take on several projects at any one time. He explains “multitasking allows me to explore my creativity in various platforms. I can be directing a narrative film that demands creative storytelling while also direct a commercial that utilizes creative problem solving. It provides me a balance in my work while harnessing all facets of my abilities and also keeps me on my toes.”

The Australian native began his career in directing television commercials, and have since worked with successful Australian service industry companies like RAC, Novotel, and the multi-billion dollar company CBH Group which is Australia’s leading and largest exporter of grain in which he travelled through the West Australian Wheatbelt for two weeks, capturing stories of the communities and their community service projects.

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An eye-catching still from one of the many impressive commercials Adrian has produced as writer and director. This one was promoting the alternative energy company, Elan Energy. 

It is noteworthy to mention Prospero’s directing style in commercials that leaves fellow directors in awe as he is able to engage an audience with excellent use of motion and fluidity in his shots whether through the blocking of actors or camera work, or a combination of the two.

When asked about his recent work, Prospero was ecstatic to talk about his directorial work on the Australian workplace comedy mini-series “Unrealty” in which he directed all seven episodes. “It was a really rewarding experience directing for a comedy series as it demands a different kind of skill set and challenges you as a director to trust your actors and your gut, and to really just dive into it”.

“Unrealty” is an excellent example of Prospero’s attention to detail in regards to using colours to his advantage. The use of primary colours in the show emphasizes the series’ fictitious and comedic elements, and serves to distinguish characters from one another. The use of symmetry and dutch angle shots are also unique and serves the story well.

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A still from the hilarious comedy series Adrian directed, “Unrealty.”

Prospero’s ability to tell a wide range of stories is impressive, ranging from horror to comedy, and more documentary oriented stories of human nature and experience. Shifting between genres can be challenging, but seems to be second nature to this seasoned storyteller who has been in the industry for over a decade.

Often the director of the films that he writes, Prospero focuses on each film’s particular needs and has the advantage of understanding the film to its core. “Being a writer and director of a film allows me a creative independence in what I want to convey to the audience. It is a wonderfully surreal intimacy which grounds me in keeping an honest conversation”.

His tenacity in the film industry goes beyond writing and directing as Prospero also plays a critical role in the company Stareable, a platform that seeks to connect web series creators with their audience. Stareable currently holds the title of the largest community of web series creators.

Adding to his already impressive CV, Prospero has also been held to high esteem by becoming a judge in film festivals such as the International Hollywood Short Film Festival in Los Angeles, California and the Jackson Hole Film Festival in Wyoming, USA. “It is an honour to be a judge in these festivals. There are so many great stories out there, and to have the opportunity to watch all these incredible films and judge them- it truly is a gratifying experience, one that I do not take lightly.”

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Adrian recently served as a juror for the International Hollywood Short Film Festival, reflecting the high-regard with which many in the industry hold Adrian

Prospero further acknowledges that being a judge for these films can be a very educational experience as it forces you to break films down into various components and to analyze each aspect individually like story, cinematography, sound, and editing in addition to viewing it as a whole.

Being compared to Ridley Scott is most certainly daunting, but Adrian Prospero is definitely up to the challenge. His work demands attention, and he has definitely been successful thus far. He is thrilled to continue living his passion as a writer and director and we are excited to see what’s next for this notable Australian filmmaker.

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An arresting still from “Ambience,” one of many gripping film projects directed by Adrian Prospero.

 

 

Art Director Youjia Qian envisions visual spectacle for viral Roy Woods music video

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Youjia Qian

China’s Youjia Qian sees herself as a very perceptual person. She has always been extremely immersed in music and words. As an art director and stylist, she has the ability to take those things and create a visual for them. Through her work, she combines her original style with the needs and wants of those she collaborates with, turning out masterpieces over and over again.

Qian is best known for her work on a number of acclaimed music videos. These include “Devil in California” by Burna Boy, “Death Wish” by DeathbyRomy, and several hits for Gab3, including “Talking to Me” and “Hollywood Angel” featuring BEXEY. She is one of the leaders in her industry in both her home country and abroad and has no plans on slowing down.

“I think being an art director enables me to effectively communicate what I want to express in my heart and show the more profound feelings in the form of a visual. I want to present what I have seen and what I have learned and experienced through my work,” she said.

Just last year, Qian collaborated with hip hop artist Roy Woods on one of her most renowned projects to date. The music video for the artist’s hit “Say Less” has amassed over four million views on YouTube alone since its debut in November. It was issued WMG (Warner Bros Label); UBEM, Sony ATV Publishing and CAMERA and four other brands.

“Roy Woods is an artist that I truly admire. I started hearing more about him in the music industry after he signed a contract with Drake. There are so many personal emotions in his music and I also feel that I could feel something that he wants to express in his music. Many of my young friends like his music,” said Qian.

Qian was brought onto the project thanks to her good professional relationship with Gab3, who directed the video. Qian has worked on several of Gab3’s music videos, and he knew she was just the right person to help make Roy Woods’ video a hit. The teamwork between the three artists led the video to enormous success.

“It is so exciting that everybody likes our work and I also hope to collaborate with all kinds of artists again in the future. I hope to continue to reach a wide range of audiences and have my work impact many people.,” said Qian.

As the song “Say Less” is filled with emotion, Qian used that to set the tone for the entire music video. To prepare for the shoot, she spent most of her time listening to the song and all of Roy Woods’ music, to understand just what type of artist he is and what he wanted to express in the song. She decided after her research on a color tone of red. The actors in the music video are filtered by this, and it creates a specific mood that fits right in with the song. Gab3 supported her decision and worked closely with Qian during the shoot.

“We had really good communication as a team. I understood what Roy Woods wanted to express in his music, so I could create what he wanted visually, including the color and the switching of lens,” Qian described. “I like his music, which helped me to have a better understanding of his direction in the project. The people that I worked with on this project were great and I felt very comfortable with, which made the work that much more enjoyable.”

Check out the video for “Say Less” and admire Qian’s outstanding work.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Australia’s Stephanie Evison Williams talks ‘Lazy Boy’ and truthful acting

Stephanie Evison Williams’ day always starts with a coffee. She then will walk her dog and head to a fitness class. She knows how you begin your day as an actress is vital to your success. It is about getting in the right headspace, so when she walks on set she is someone else entirely. She devotes herself completely to those she portrays, even trying to dream about future scenes while embodying her character. That, for Evison Williams, is what being an actress is all about.

From a young age, Evison Williams loved musical theatre, and as an overly creative kid and sometimes, as she describes, a loud child, she found her way into acting. In her high school years, she played Sally Bowles in a small production of Cabaret and that was when she knew. There was nothing else in this world she wanted to pursue, and since that time, she has devoted herself solely to acting, quickly rising and becoming one of Australia’s most sought-after actresses.

“I love the people, like-minded creative people who observe the world slightly differently to most, people who people watch and who go through life with a scalpel trying to understand why people behave like they do. I love the feeling when you are so ‘in’ a moment, it’s the best form of mindfulness or meditation because you are so present, listening and reacting. Creative flow. It’s a drug, acting,” she said.

Known for her work in the Netflix series Rostered On, as well as films such as Playgroundand In the Wake, Evison Williams has had a formidable career, with many highlights decorating her resume. One such project was the award-winning film Lazy Boy, which saw critical acclaim at many prestigious international film festivals, despite being made for the infinitesimal budget of $600 AUD.

Lazy Boy was awarded a 2016 Flickerfest finalist and nominated for the Flickerfest National Tour as well as a SciFi Film festival nomination. It received a Heathcote Film Festival nomination and was an Official Selection and a Top 100 Short Film at the 2016 St Kilda Film Festival. In 2017, it toured theatrically around the United Kingdom with Discover Film.

“It’s fantastic. I am really proud of the film. It’s an amazing story. It’s a great sci-fi-esque, time travel concept with a sinister undertone and a lot of heart,” said Evison Williams.

Lazy Boy tells the story of Ray and when he brings home a new purchase, his pregnant girlfriend is not impressed. Banished to the garage he soon realizes the old La-Z-Boy recliner he bought is in fact a one-minute time machine. Audiences are asked the question: will Ray learn from his mistakes, or is he destined to repeat them forever?

In the film, Evison Williams plays Sarah, Ray’s girlfriend. Although the synopsis may present her as simply hormonal, she is far from it, and she and their unborn baby end up being the catalyst of the story, ultimately affecting Ray’s decision on whether to use the time machine for good. Sarah is trying to hold it all together, and Evison Williams perfectly portrays her struggle. She is pregnant and has a partner who is not rising to the occasion, she hormonal, working and doing all the preparation for the new baby. She is pulled very thin.

To prepare for the role, Evison Williams spent a lot of time working with her scene partner, Steve Carroll, who played Ray. They wanted to ensure they had good chemistry while in front of the camera, as the success of the film hindered on their authentic performance as a couple. For Evison Williams, a large part of her research also went in to studying how a pregnant woman may be feeling when stressed. It would have been easy for her to come off as a “nag” or “buzz kill” and Evison Williams was very conscious of showing her heart and struggle.

“I didn’t want to continue that persistent sexist stereotype. Choices were made to motivate why she is saying and behaving as she is. Not that Dave wrote her like this, but it would have been the easier choice as an actor,” she described.

The Writer and Director of the film, Dave Redman, is a prolific storyteller with a passion for film and television. He has worked in the Australian film and television industry for over 20 years and has established a solid career as a film and television editor, cutting five feature films, 160+ episodes of TV, hundreds of TVCs and more than 45 short films that have played at festivals worldwide. When Evison Williams saw the opportunity to work with him, she was eager to take part. When she read the script, she was hooked.

The story allowed for Evison Williams to dive deep into a character that could have been very two-dimensional if she allowed. In exploring Sarah, her performance was real, and that is what Evison Williams aims for in every performance, a truthful style.

“Even when doing comedy or character I am always aiming for truth. I would prefer watching a scene about ‘what’s for dinner’ more than two people not listening and performing an idea,” she concluded.

 

Written by Sara Fowler

Poland’s Maja Lakomy shines light on mental illness in acclaimed film

Growing up in Kielce, Poland, Maja Lakomy was always fascinated by performing. Whether it be in a film or on a stage, she found herself constantly impressed by what actors were capable of and the effects they could have on the audience. She began to realize even at a young age that she wanted to become like one of those incredible actors and do the same thing to the audience. She was encouraged to choose a career that could make her happy, and acting was therefore the only option for her.

Throughout her career, Lakomy has worked on a number of successful projects. Recently, her award-winning film Diminuendo saw critical acclaim at many prestigious international film festivals and is expected to continue to do so throughout the year. She also shot a music video for Andrea Bocelli, the Grammy nominated and Golden Globe winning Italian musician who has collaborated with greats such as Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, and more. Lakomy is doing what she wished for as a child and loves every day she steps onto a set.

“I imagine that it hardly ever happens that people are so lucky to do what they love as a career. Nevertheless, I went that direction and knew I would never give up and would always keep working towards my dream. Now, I am one of those lucky people who have their passion as their job,” said Lakomy.

One of Lakomy’s first tastes of international success came from her work on the film Star House. The film was uploaded on Vimeo, the online platform for video-sharing in December 2017 and is available worldwide. The project also received attention from the prestigious Berlin Fashion Film Festival. The representatives of the festival wrote a comment, that’s visible under the video on Vimeo, leaving a compliment about the project and offering participation in the festival under the category “Fashion, Lifestyle and Beauty Film – Emerging Talent”.

Star House follows two girls who break into an intriguing home they come across in the woods and decide to stay until the owner returns. The story is very unpredictable with a fun twist, something for the audience to look forward to. The drama also showcases two distinctive characters, with a disturbing and surprising realness to their psychological construction.

“I think that a lot of women could identify with the story and the message of it. Nearly everybody has some part of themselves that they don’t accept and makes them feel weak. Everybody has somebody like my character in their lives, who let their insecurities drive their mental health to the line where sane meets insane. This story shows how obsessive one can become while pursuing perfection. It’s also a sort of commentary on body dysmorphia and the dynamic among females who have the tendency to constantly compare themselves to one another. I think all of these aspects are very important,” said Lakomy.

Lakomy’s character, Cleo, is very interesting and complex. She lacks everything that the other charactor, Rose, possesses: confidence, beauty, spontaneity. Rose also has a certain type of control over Cleo. Cleo was mesmerized and infatuated by Rose. The irony, however, in this story was that the girls look very alike, but Cleo is only able to notice her own flaws and insecurities that she believes Rose does not possess, which is why she was so compelling and perfect in Cleo’s eyes. The idea of perfection that Rose represented was only in Cleo’s head, and that is what makes this story touching.

Lakomy excelled when presenting Cleo’s feelings and what she goes through, knowing the importance of her character and story for females in the audience who may feel similarly.

“I hope women that watched it or any other film with a similar message realize that being a perfectionist is not healthy and we need to accept ourselves as we are and not let other people criticize us, bring us down and objectify us,” she said.

After being hand selected for the role by the Director, Allison Bunce, Lakomy was eager to begin playing such an insecure and controlled character, offering a challenge she had not encountered yet in her esteemed career. She had previously played a similar character in the play Angels in America, and therefore applied the same principles when it came to portraying Cleo; this time, however, in front of a camera.

“Acting with the other lead actress opposite of me was very interesting when you’re aware her character doesn’t really exist. At the same time, she was one hundred percent real to my character, so I had to focus on remembering that,” Lakomy described.

Star House was also shot on 16mm film and a Super8 camera, so it had a very unique visual style to it. Lakomy had previously never worked with this type of camera equipment and she now says she is a fan of the style. The best part of the experience for the actress, however, was those she worked with.

“Working on this project was truly a magical experience. I loved working with such a professional crew. Every single person on the set has been committed, successful, and excels at what they do. It was a great pleasure to be around them and learn from them. I think we made up a great team,” Lakomy concluded.

Check out Star House on Vimeo to see Lakomy’s outstanding performance.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee