Actor Evan Marsh talks the importance of storytelling and loving what you do

For Canada’s Evan Marsh, acting is, at its heart, storytelling. Whenever he embodies a new character, he focuses on the story in the script and the untold story of his character’s life and their world. It isn’t just about believably saying the words on a page, it is becoming someone entirely new, living what they are living and going through entirely new life experiences. With that singular goal in mind, Marsh has quickly risen to the top of Canada’s entertainment industry, becoming a celebrated actor in his home country.

Throughout his career, Marsh has shown audiences all over the world just what he is capable of. Whether he is acting as the comedic relief/heartthrob in the Netflix Original Northern Rescue, or antagonizing the hero in DC’s newest hit Shazam!, Marsh’s versatility and talent is always on full display.

“As a man who gets bored of repetitive things quickly, I think the main thing I love about acting is the excitement of ‘what’s next?’ No single production is the same and each experience is so very different from the next. I also love meeting new people so walking onto a set with 10 new cast mates and 100 new crew members is a dream come true,” said Marsh.

Marsh is always looking for unique and often untold stories to put his touch on, and he found that with the 2017 comedic drama The Space Between. Amy Jo Johnson’s debut feature film is a heartfelt comedy about a proud new father who learns that his wife took his infertility into her own hands with a 19-year old university student and sets out on a journey to find the biological baby-daddy.

“I like this story because it brings both comedy and drama to the screen in a very unique and interesting way. It deals with the very real problem that people deal with that is infidelity but manages to discuss it in a way that still ultimately warms the heart. Amy Jo Johnson is incredible at writing in a way that is bigger than life, but never has a false note and I think that is why I myself and so many others really loved the story of The Space Between,” said Marsh.

On top of its compelling story, Marsh was attracted to the film because of the likeness he shared with his character, Danny Baker. When he first read the script, he was shocked at their similarities and knew there was no one better to play the role. Johnson agreed.

Danny is a very gentle and innocent kid. He is very smart, and when audiences first meet him in university, he explains that he is on his way to becoming a doctor. He cares about his family and puts them before everything. This is all a surprise to the audience because as the lead is trying to find him, they are naturally picturing someone completely different.

“It could be argued that this story wouldn’t even be possible without the character of Danny Baker. When I first read the script, I was surprised at how significant of a role the character played to the entirety of the story as the entire cast are trying to locate Danny. As this is going on the audience is creating its own idea of who my character might be along the journey,” Marsh described.

Because the storyline revolved around his character, Marsh felt a tremendous amount of weight on his shoulders. He loved that feeling and it allowed him to test his ability in a way he hadn’t yet had the chance to do at the time for a feature film. He sat down with the writer and really figured out what she wanted from the character and was sure to bring her ideas and thoughts into his scenes.

“I enjoyed so much about this project, but in particular I enjoyed working with Amy Jo Johnson the director/writer. I believe that because she has held such a long successful career in front of the camera that she developed a great ability to talk to her actors on set and discuss where a scene should be going or why something may or may not be working. She also has an infectious joy that she carries with her every day that made working on this project so fun and rewarding,” he said.

The Space Between was released in theatres on July 6th, 2017. On top of resonating with its audience, it went on to win awards and recognition at many film festivals around the world. Marsh was thrilled to be such a vital part of the film’s commercial and critical success, and still feels grateful to this day.

“It is great knowing a project that read so beautiful in the early stages was able to keep its heart throughout all the filming, editing and cutting. I think each cast member did such a wonderful job bringing their characters to life without losing any of the larger than life comedic aspects and I believe that played a significant part in the film’s success,” he concluded.

 

Written by Sean Desouza
Photo by John Bregar

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Kevin Clayette creates troublesome love triangle on Australian hit ‘Neighbours’

With every new role he takes on, Kevin Clayette gets to do something completely different and transform into someone brand new. For the actor, it is immensely fun, like playing make believe. He dives deep into his character’s back stories, journaling their thoughts and researching their backgrounds. With his characters, he gets to challenge himself, doing things that scare him and meeting new people, travelling to different places in time, adopting different cultures, and he loves every minute of it.

I play make believe for a living. I get to be the little five-year-old inside of me who didn’t care what other people would think. I get to be different people and to observe the world around me for a living. I am a storyteller,” said Clayette.

Throughout his esteemed career, Clayette has shown audiences all over the world just why he is such a renowned actor. He captivated audiences in the award-winning science fiction horror Doktor without uttering a single word and sang his way to fans hearts in the cult classic Emo the Musical.

Despite all of his success, Clayette claims the highlight of his career came back in 2016 when he was cast in the iconic Australian soap opera Neighbours. Australia’s longest-running drama series, Neighbours follows the lives and dramas of the residents of Ramsay Street, a quiet cul de sac in the fictitious Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough.

“I like that it’s one of those shows that doesn’t try too hard to be cool. It’s just really simple, it’s about the life of these characters who live on this street and what they go through. It’s obviously an important story because the show has been running for more than 30 years. I think people just find it really relatable which is amazing. We all need to recognize ourselves in something or feel inspired by something. Shows like this allow us to disconnect from real life for a moment. Neighbourshas also been known for dealing with important topics like bullying, depression, and much more,” said Clayette.

Playing the character of Dustin Oliver, Clayette had to transform into a homeless twenty-year-old who spent his life going in and out of foster homes. Dustin becomes best friends with Jack, a main character in the show, but quickly creates drama when he kisses Jack’s girlfriend Paige, creating a love triangle that completely captivated fans of the soap. Later on in the series, Dustin helps Jack remember who he is after he suffers from memory loss, allowing Clayette to become a fan favorite during his time on the show.

“I portrayed my character in many different ways ranging from a light charismatic side to a more dramatic and troubled persona,” Clayette described.

Even though his character is portrayed primarily as a good guy, Dustin has some anger issues because of his rough upbringing, and uses boxing as an outlet for stress relief. Clayette therefore had to learn boxing, which he had never done before, and utilize those new skills in choreographed fight scenes.

“It was truly incredible. When I first learned who I was going to play, I wanted to make it as believable as possible. I started thinking about my character’s background and researched on the show to get more context. Then closer to the shooting dates, I started receiving my scripts, which would have a lot more information about my character. I then proceeded to learn my lines thoroughly and put pieces of the puzzles together in regards to my backstory and who my character was. I loved the challenge,” he said.

Clayette loved every second of his time on Neighbours. Fans of the show still reach out to him, two years later, saying how much they loved his character and his acting on the show. He never grows tired of it and is still honored to have been part of such a wildly popular series.

‘It felt incredible. I’m following in the footsteps of many other amazing actors who were there before me. At the end of the day, I was only a piece in this gigantic machine, but I feel very honored that I was a part of it. The fact that I came from a tiny little French island in the middle of the Pacific, not speaking any English and managed to make it on there is something I’m very proud of,” said Clayette.

Undoubtedly, Clayette has had a career many can only dream of, and at just 25, audiences can continue to expect greatness from this extraordinary actor for years to come. He has many exciting projects in the works and has no plans on slowing down.

For those looking to follow in his distinguished footsteps, he offers some wise words:

“Be proactive about it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. The former because luck is not something you want to rely on,” he advised. “There are so many actors out there, you have to create opportunities for yourself. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities will come your way. If acting is your dream, then you should not allow anyone to take that away from you. Believing in your dream and yourself is 50 per cent of the job.”

 

Written by Sean Desouza

Multimedia Artist Gavin Mottram talks finding inspiration

As a scholar and practitioner of different types of media that encompass traditional analogue processes to new media technologies Gavin Mottram maintains that, “in an age where contemporary media is increasingly something that is experienced sensually it is our responsibility to be critical of the techniques that are producing meaning today, amidst an increasingly consumerist modernity.”

Growing up in the nineties, Mottram developed a creatively productive relationship with ‘video’. He would constantly record material from television, mainly American Cinema, that he would watch and re-watch in conjunction with exploring ways of illustrating the scenarios he found most compelling through drawing, performance, and other inventive methods of re-enactment. It was only natural for him to become the spirited multimedia artist he is today.

“I suppose the title ‘multimedia artist’ implies flexibility, or ambiguous limitations. I am most compelled by things that skew traditional form, or that disobey or disband contours, and I desire to practice these values when creating something myself”.

Mottram made waves by applying these values last year at Gemini G.E.L., the renowned artists’ workshop and publisher of fine-art limited edition prints and sculptures. The gallery has collaborated with and published work by some of the most influential artists of the past 50 + years, such as Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, David Hockney, Vija Clemens, Bruce Nauman, and currently Richard Serra, Anne Hamilton, Tacita Dean and Julie Mehretu.

In addition to this, living in Los Angeles and being part of a diverse community of young experimental artists and filmmakers, contributing to contemporary, independent and forward thinking projects, Mottram has been inspired in his work, which has been screened at locations such as the Echo Park Film Center, an achievement that he is very proud of.

The opportunity to screen work at the Echo Park Film Center is, to me, a great one, as the center is a hub for experimental filmmaking within the city of LA, dedicated to the practice of analogue filmmaking whilst at the same time being a space that supports innovations in new media. It is an inclusive organization committed to providing access to film/video resources to the local community, with a special focus on ‘at risk’ youth, but the center also has wider influence/impact that spans many territories” he said.

At the distinguished film center, Mottram screened a number of small interrelated experimental film/video works -16mm film, animation and digital media – that focus mainly on the relationship between the screen and subjective identity.

“My enduring interest is the notion of ‘subjectivity’ as a participant – voluntary and involuntary – of an economy of interrelated signifiers and technologies,” he said.

Mottram maintains that it is of great importance to pay attention to the relationships between the different forms of media, images, objects, technologies, that surround us, and to the manifestation of “ideologies” through popular media, into external realities.

Some of these cinematic works of art were evolutions of things he had been working on for years, and some were also the beginning of new work that he hopes to develop in the future.

“I had been generating the work slowly, as a collection of ideas, which allowed me to take the time to explore approaches and processes without any particular agenda or deadline but arranging the screening at EPFC required me to organize the work into some resolved/ presentable form. The opportunity to show work publicly is a valuable one, and having this deadline allowed me to achieve some progression of work that, up until that time had remained private and more like research. To show work to a group in a setting such as EPFC is extremely rewarding in receiving diverse feedback, and to remain involved in dialogue with peers and a wider network,” he said.

This year, Mottram has many artistic projects on the go, and hopes to continue showing his work to a wider audience. He feels blessed to have found himself part of a creative network where critical thinking and dialogue are the foundation, and believes that for anyone compelled to contribute, thoughtfully and creatively, in some way, to the world around them they try to do the same.

 

By John Michaels

Artist Spotlight: MTV Director Pete Ireland on festivals and filmmaking

Veteran Australian filmmaker Pete Ireland has enjoyed a career all over the world. Best known amongst industry insiders for directing and producing thousands of videos while working at MTV in London, Argentina and then the US, the innovative filmmaker recently joined the Los Angeles based company of Verve, a new sales platform targeted at millennials.

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Australian filmmaker Pete Ireland.

“It’s definitely challenging work but at its core it’s work I love because get to tell stories across so many different mediums from social to broadcast, my work at Verve lets me play with filmmaking in a unique way.”

As a company valued at 180 million dollars wanting to connect the media and entertainment industry with young trendsetters, it came as no surprise that Verve turned to Pete for his expertise and experience in the youth-branded content industry.

Pete is one of the few distinguished filmmakers who is capable of increasing company revenues as his innovative projects rake in millions of views effortlessly, which in return increases company visibility and revenue.

Early on, the award-winning filmmaker, whose narrative projects have screened at exclusive festivals in Europe and America, developed a reputation for using a left-of-centre style which conflated quirky set-pieces with bright and honest imagery.  

“I was obsessed with movies ever since I was young. I wanted to tell stories and discovered that film was the medium I wanted to do it with. I started with editing but quickly realised directing was where I could make the most impact. When I started my own company [The Production Room] in 2010, I did really have high expectations.” Pete continued with a laugh. “But still, I never imagined that I would be in this situation, talking to you guys 10 years later.”

Of course, Pete didn’t start at Verve with the same naivety that characterised his early beginnings.

In his new role in LA, he’s in charge of building a new creative standard across a wide variety of youth-focused travel, live music, event and festival experiences by producing, directing, and editing hundreds of promotional films and video campaigns.

“I have been doing exactly that for more than six years at the MTV International, and as a producer and editor for fifteen years before that.” He added. “I really admired Verve’s mission and I am excited to be helping build a brand that I know is going to be huge not only in the US market but globally”.

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As MTV has become more known for, and found greater success in its series programming, Pete has found a niche in the industry playing an incredibly important part in shaping the company’s reputation and visual aesthetic.

After he directed film projects Blueberry Lane with Sleepover actress Leisa Barry Smith and Breathless with Home and Away’s Esther Anderson, Pete’s ability to capture an audience’s attention and move them with humour was recognised by both film-lovers and big businesses.

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Pete and Home and Away actress Esther Anderson, who starred in his film Breathless, at the world renowned Bondi Film Festival celebrating the screening of their film.

“Pete has always been a master narrator who can tell stories from outside his own experience,” said prominent EVP of MTV International, Kerry Taylor when contacted to comment. “He always knows the right balance between storytelling and selling.”

Thrilled by the quality of Peter’s work, advertisements for MTV were also advertised through social media outlets such as Facebook as well as MTV’s company website, which in return increased company visibility by millions. Throughout Pete’s time with the network, he undoubtedly was responsible for the increase in ratings (and consequently, ad revenue) experienced by the programs on which he was a director. 

In the midst of his early days running his own film production company, Pete found particular success directing a number of high-profile music videos, laying a firm groundwork for his eventual role at MTV.

The highlight was his works for X Factor Australia winner Altiyan Childs and ARIA Music Award ‘Song of the Year’ winner Tim Freedman. 

“He really understood the message I wanted to convey with my music,” said Brendan Maclean. “Work with Pete was an absolute treat.”

Some of the music video work for which Pete is still well-known includes projects for hugely popular artists like Cub Sport and Eurovision contestant Kate Miller-Heidke, meaning that Pete’s directing efforts have been shown in arenas for their concerts all over the world, including at the renowned Splendour in the Grass music festival in Queensland.

It was no surprise therefore that MTV recognized Pete’s remarkable talents so they reached out to him in the midst of a his freelancing career. After his outstanding edits on promo films for MTV UK’s Geordie Shore, the company brought Pete on in a full-time capacity as a Senior Promo Producer and Creative. Three years later, he was handed the reigns of shaping MTV International’s brand across a range of mediums and channels, allowing him to flex the full range of his filmmaking muscles.

“Pete was a total package for us. Not only his creative ability, but also his leadership skills, attention to detail, and work ethic all contributed to our company,” said Kerry Taylor, Pete’s ex-boss at MTV.

Pete oversaw all promotional projects for MTV shows including Geordie Shore, Teen Mom, Catfish, Ex on the Beach, Judge Geordie, The Valleys, and many others. He worked all over Europe, mainly in London, and later in Argentina and New York, always executing work at the excellence for which he has become known, regardless of the city he was in or team of people with whom he was working.

Of course, a filmmaker’s career wouldn’t be complete without some experience in the City of Angeles itself.

“I felt called to Los Angeles, it was always the end goal for me. I’m excited to continue to explore more opportunities in different avenues of American filmmaking,” Pete offered.

He wanted to work with a company in a more hands-on capacity and work with it from the ground-up in its early stages of development. The role also permits Pete the freedom to pursue his own personal projects, including a number of projects in development including The Morning After Night. 

“This industry can certainly challenge you at times. No question. But I still have the same fire that I always had since the beginning of my career. I feel truly privileged to be able to do what I feel passionate about. I get to tell stories from many different perspectives and to be a part of worlds so different from my own. I absolutely love it, and I cannot wait for the next challenges.”

Q&A with Leading Colombian Actress and ‘Therapy’ star Juliana Betancourth

Juliana Betancourth, industry-leading actress in Colombia, is known for her talent and versatility. She has starred in countless acclaimed productions, from Bite! to La Reina de Sur. Her most recent project, Therapy, allows worldwide audiences to once again appreciate her outstanding acting capabilities.

After the great reception that the short theater play Terapia had, winning several awards of the Short & Sweet: Hollywood 2017, an adaptation of the script was made. Betancourth in the lead role of Marina, is a self-sacrificing wife who during couples therapy is discovering disturbing secrets about her husband, which causes a turning point in the story to show us a darker side of this character. Each one has a secret to reveal that seems to indicate that there is no way to fix the marriage, but the perverse sexual hobbies and fetishes of both end up uniting them and committing the greatest monstrosities; impacting the life of the person who tried to help them: their therapist. Betancourth develops an exquisite multidimensional, sensual and violent character.

The film crew is composed of successful filmmakers in Los Angeles, such as director Jhonatan Tabares, director of photography Jaime Salazar, Producer Yaniv Waisman, among others. A group that has been developing different audiovisual pieces for the Latin American industry in Hollywood.

The premiere was at the Panamanian International Film Festival, where the film took home the top prize. It then did the same at the Panamanian International Film Festival 2018 and the ELCO Film Festival, with many more expected this year.

We had a chance to sit down with Betancourth to talk about the making of this critically-acclaimed film.

IFR: Why did you want to work on this project?

JB: I already had an emotional connection with the project, and with the character of Marina who had allowed me to access very deep places acting wise.

The premise of this artistic piece was wonderful. It had a completely unexpected turning point, which was exciting for me, and as an actress it allowed me to play practically two roles in one.

I also liked working with the team involved that was composed of producers, director, cinematographer, and actors whom I’ve always admired.

IFR: Why did you want to work on this project?

JB: Therapy started as a theater play, and was directed by Jhonatan Tabares. Due to the great success it had, the Super Hero Latina production company run by Tanya Mordacci wanted to turn it into a film.

Everyone involved in the project already knew my acting work. They had seen me in the lead role in the Virginia Casta movie, and many other projects that were seen in Mexico and the United States. Also, with Jhonatan, we had already worked on previous pilots for TV shows. He knew me personally. We had already worked together in the stage version of Therapy.  It is very important when accepting a project to not only like the script, but also the quality of people who are part of it.

IFR: What do you like about the story?

JB: The story of this project is one of the most interesting in which I have worked. It is fiction, but it is an experiment that brings us closer to the understanding of human psychology. To that infinite universe of our mind, of the decisions we make and our behavior towards society.

I love that the story is transgressive. That it is perpetuated in the mind of the audience. That they want to stop seeing it, but they cannot look away. I am fascinated by social experiments.

This is why the premise of this story is important, it is also not far from reality. Within our communities are these types of dangerous individuals that are the product of our shortcomings as a society; of our injustices and oppressions; but each viewer is free to draw their own conclusions.

IFR: What was it like working on this project?

JB: The process with the director Jhonatan Tabares was special. There were many hours of rehearsals, finding the characters, their motivations, their actions, and their arcs through the written words and physical work.

I studied the behaviors of the most dangerous serial killers in world history, especially couples like Charlene & Gerald Galician, Raymond Fernandez & Martha Beck, Bonnie & Clyde, among others. I wanted to know the reasons why they killed their victims, the way they did it, and the satisfaction they found in it.

One of the things that I liked most about this project was working alongside my colleagues Ramón Valdez and Fernanda Kelly, two great Mexican actors. Also, the producer Tanya Mordacci, producer Yaniv Waisman, and the always supportive Vange Tapia. Director of photography Jaime Salazar, still photo Elena Rojas, and all those who were part of this family made this an unforgettable experience.

IFR: What was your character like?

JB: Marina is a supposed self-sacrificing woman. A Latina who lives in the United States, and who depends economically and emotionally on her husband, but this is just an act and part of a macabre game she carries out with her partner. At the turning point, we will see the real Marina, a psychopath, who finds sexual pleasure in seeing her victims die.

It is a dark character, with complex psychology, special motivations and very different from conventional characters. Marina all the time is playing at being another woman different from who she is. She is a kind of actress, but her performances hide macabre intentions.

It was very interesting to work on this character because the unexpected turning point leaves the audience surprised based on how Marina was from the beginning.  She plays the role of a sheep beautifully, but in reality, she is a hungry wolf.

IFR: How did your character fit into the story?

JB: There are only three characters in the whole movie. Marina, although initially playing the role of victim in therapy with the couple’s psychologist, crying and accusing her husband of being abusive, ends up being the mastermind with a criminal plan.

Driven by her desires and impulses, she mentally dominates her partner to commit the homicides while she enjoys the process and destruction it causes. It is an incredibly complex character, one that generates uncomfortable feelings from the audience when they realize the true objective of the two main characters.

Without Marina, there is no Therapy.

IFR: What did you like about working on this project?

JB: Working on this project has been one of the best experiences of my life. Connecting with so many talented people, who have become my friends, and will be people I plan to work with again in my future projects. It was great to work and build this character, to keep experimenting until we found what worked best, and have direct and honest communication with the director.

Art projects fascinate me because it is not about business and how much money we can make, but more about character, story, and connections with the cast and crew to make a film or TV show that moves people and makes them think. That is always a beautifully motivating factor for me.

IFR: What else did you like about working on this project?

JB: We filmed in one location. The office of the psychologist. The final scene was exhausting and dramatic, that we could only film in two sequences. We both were spent when the director finally called cut.

In the play, there was no character of the psychologist. It was just a voice, and we broke the fourth wall when speaking to the voice, which made it feel like to the audience that we were speaking with them. In the film, Fernanda Kelly played the role of the psychologist, and she was marvelous in it. It was amazing to act opposite her, and it lifted our performances to another level.

IFR: How does it feel knowing the project has been such a success?

JB: I knew it would be a resounding success since I had first read the script, and saw the reaction when performing it as a theater piece. I fully trusted the director’s work, and my own. I had no doubt about the success it has had and will have for the next few years.

When you do a project, you do not think about prizes, you know if the project is good or not regardless of the recognition or criticism you receive, but I would be wrong if I said that it is not rewarding to receive the accolades.

Each time we have received these awards for Therapy I have celebrated them. I feel proud. It fuels my fire, and I long to do more great work with excellent projects.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee
Photo by Vinny Randazzo 

Photographer Adam Flipp talks shooting in freezing Tasmanian conditions for ‘Australia’s Next Top Model’

As a fashion photographer, Adam Flipp captures feelings and energy with his viewers that communicate a message and act as aspirational for a consumer. He uses art to evoke commercialism, using his unique eye to capture visual masterpieces that many of the world’s largest companies then use to market their products and brands.

Flipp has made a name for himself in Australia as a celebrated fashion and portrait photographer, working with some of the world’s most recognizable brands. He has travelled the world doing what he loves, shooting for Hewlett Packard, Johnny Was, Magic Millions, Nike, and many more throughout his well-established career.

Throughout the years, Flipp has also shot for many high-fashion projects, including the tenth season of the iconic series Australia’s Next Top Model. Australia’s Next Top Model is the extremely popular Australian version of America’s Next Top Model, on which Flipp performed a leading and critical role as a photographer. Flipp was a photographer in the models’ screen test challenge. After this, he shot the models in a session at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. These shoots prominently featuring Flipp aired on Episode 5 of Season 10, which aired on television in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Asia featuring world-renowned model Gemma Ward. He worked closely with stylist Jessie Heart, who asked Flipp to join the team.

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photo by Adam Flipp

“Working in Tasmania was amazing and probably the coldest environment I’ve ever worked in. The grass crunched when you walked on it and seeing how determined the girls were to succeed in these punishing conditions was inspirational,” said Flipp.

Flipp has previously seen the show and aspired to be better than any of the other photographers they had. He had found previous seasons often had stiff photographers, and he didn’t want to come across as wooden and tight, because he knew it would make the aspiring models nervous. He therefore pretended that he wasn’t being filmed and focused on doing the job as if it was like any other fashion shoot he had conducted in his past.

“The location was amazing, and the crew were really cool. They were all true professionals,” he said.

The photoshoot challenge for Flipp’s episode was to send the girls into freezing cold conditions to model in swimwear and activewear. Therefore, Flipp had to get high results quickly, especially because the models were also inexperienced and had never been shot in these conditions before. Flipp managed to produce photos that captured the beauty of the freezing scenery and the essence of each model.

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Photo by Adam Flipp

When Flipp first looked at the models, he was worried that the season would not produce a model worthy of the opportunities that the finalist receives for winning the show. However, the moment Flipp put his camera on Aleyna Fitzgerald, he knew she was the winner. He found that immensely rewarding, helping launch the career of someone so deserving. For the photographer, it felt like destiny.

“I love the fact that the end result of the show is that one of the models gets given the chance of building a really successful modelling career. In this case it was Aleyna Fitzgerald,” Flipp concluded.

 

Written by John Michaels

Jun Li Honestly Sees Son of Wanderer

Son of Wanderer

Movie fans across the world are familiar with the marquee names of actors. Directors and producers like Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Quentin Tarantino have also achieved the king of international notoriety that places them in the celebrity category. For each of these, there are legions of publicly unknown artists whose talent creates the stories that tug at our hearts, unearth laughter, and move us to appreciate the world we live in. Though the public may be unaware of these exceptionally skilled professionals, those who truly understand the storytelling process proclaim their contributions. Three-time Academy Award winning producer and writer Jana Sue Memel has produced more than twenty-five feature films as well as countless live action shorts airing in more than thirty countries. In discussing the film Son of Wanderer (on which she served as screenwriter) Memel points out, “The Camera Man position on a film is truly underappreciated. Jun Li was the camera operator/Steadicam operator for Son of Wanderer and his insightful contributions were a direct part of the recognitions the film has already received.” These recognitions include wins for the film at the London Independent Film Awards, Los Angeles Film awards, Rome Independent Prisma Awards, and others. While the producers, directors, and others are the brain which comprehends the story, professionals like Jun Li are the eyes which allow audiences everywhere to see first-hand the events which unfold on the screen. They are the windows to the movie’s soul. As the camera operator’s motto states “We see it first.”

 

Son of Wanderer is a story that allows us to see that holding back from those closest to us can cause a great divide. Mingzhe Li is a successful artist in the US but originally from China. He appears to have a great life with a beautiful and loving wife but he is estranged from his mother [Li]. When Li shows up unannounced at the couple’s San Francisco home, the motivation for this visit is kept secret. Through flashbacks we learn that Mingzhe’s father was a famous and talented artist in the 1970’s before the Cultural Revolution in China and alcohol led to his downward spiral. The family eventually dissolved and when her teenage son showed an inclination for art, Li quickly snuffed this notion. This planted the seed of resentment which would separate mother and child. In present day, Li finally informs her adult son that she has come to America to inform him of his father’s death. A torrent of emotion, years in the making, erupts and Li leaves for China at once. Only Li’s secret box contains the antidote to their discourse.

 

Director Chi Zhou and cinematographer Nan Li wanted to express the unusual coldness between mother and son in the movie, without the need for exposition. In many of the scenes, there is literally a divide between them. Jun’s skill with the Steadicam was heavily utilized in Son of Wanderer to obtain not only the composition but the feel which was so essential to this film. His carefully calculated movements with tight lock offs and use of negative space for both characters establishes a tone that belies its difficulty to create with a Steadicam. What might appear as dolly and track moves are in reality Jun’s skills operating at an exceptional level. He communicates, “I’m very delighted this film received so many cinematography awards. There are three main points made the look of this film. Because the theme of this story is a modern family drama, we based it in a realism style, emphasizing the saturation from very beginning. Secondly, in order to make each character stand out, we used a wide open lens for the whole shoot. The very shallow depth of field creates a grand cinematic look. Finally, the slow and gentle camera movements run through the entire film and transfer this sense of timing to the audience. All of these components were carefully crafted to help the viewer feel the emotions of our characters.” Camera operator/Steadicam operator Jun Li’s contributions to this production are key in presenting the story and its success. The verification of this is found in both the awards Son of Wanderer garnered as well as the deeply moving experience of watching this acclaimed film.