Director/Producer Jamly Yang shoots moving commercial for Nike

As an industry leading producer and director, whenever Jamly Yang steps onto a film set, she is a leader. She is in charge of both the artistic and business sides of the production, ensuring everyone works harmoniously to make the best piece of art possible. When directing, she is highly creative, looking at each shot from an artistic standpoint to make the film a success, and when she is producing, she ensures each project she embarks on reaches its maximum potential.

“The responsibility of a producer is not just making sure the production makes a profit, but also to have eyes for stories that can change people’s lives,” said Yang.

These stories are what Yang is known for and are evident in her films The Screenwriter in the Restroom, The Invisible Superman, The Milk Tea, and many more. She also brings that sense of storytelling to her commercials, and with award-winners like the Alpha Browser Commercial, Doritos Campaign, Folgers Coffee, and beyond, she knows how to make an advertisement that not only resonates with consumers, but also entertains.

Yang has worked with many renowned brands throughout her career, including Nike. Yang shot for the iconic sporting wear company back in 2017 for a campaign that went on to win Best Commercial at the San Francisco International New Concept Film Festival 2018.

“This is a trend in the commercial industry, using stories to sell products. It is a trend I both enjoy and believe in, and I love making commercials that move audiences not only to buy something, but also get them to feel something,” said Yang.

The commercial tells the story of three generations of a family. A man gave all the best to his son, and now that the son is a father, he tries to impart some of his own father’s wisdom to his son, and Nike is a part of that. It is a beautiful story.

“Most Nike commercials we see are all about strength and power, but how do you bring more customers who are not entirely about that lifestyle, but who are just normal people who need to exercise every day? You need a touching story. Everyone has a father, everyone runs. Everyone has something from their parents that they cherish. For this Nike commercial, it’s a pair of running shoes that ties to three generations,” said Yang.

The commercial was shot at Land’s End, one of San Francisco’s most iconic spots and a beautiful scenic backdrop for the video. Yang directed, produced, and wrote the commercial, handling the majority of the responsibilities from casting to distribution. She is thrilled to play such a large part in such a successful commercial, especially because she is and has always been a fan of Nike.

“Everyone likes Nike. It’s so iconic to the point where they almost don’t need commercials at all. It is more like a culture than just a sporting wear company, and that’s how Nike differs from other brands,” she concluded.

Check out Yang’s moving Nike commercial here.

 

By John Michaels

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Producer Katy Lopes’ Brilliant, Engrossing ‘Inner Self’

Katy Lopes 1

By Jeff Monroe

Producer Katy Lopes has enjoyed significant professional success thanks to an extraordinary methodology, one that mixes her precisely ordered grasp on big picture logistics with a soulful, artistic need to explore and express the depth and nuance of the oft troubled human condition.

It’s a knock out combination which lends each of her productions a distinctive flair and appeal, and her current project, the engrossing film Inner Self perfectly crystalizes the Brazilian-born Lopes’ remarkable skills. An emotional tour de force, Inner Self is a passion project, one which her entire life has steadily built up to.

I was born and raised in Sao Paulo and grew up in a family with a strong artistic side,” Lopes said. “My mom was a theater actress and my dad worked as a music manager. When I was 11, my mom signed me up to acting school, where I spent seven years doing theater and also helping her manage entertainment events.”

Lopes grew up in the middle of a rich creative milieu, experiencing both sides of that world by acting onstage and organizing details in the back of the house. She quickly realized where her interests lay.

“I figured out that my passion was actually behind the scenes,” she said. “I was always fascinated by the production side.”

Lopes was just 18 but she plunged into professional life with full grown zeal.

“I decided to do my BFA in Radio and Television Broadcast,” she said. “I also started working in the industry, producing for ‘Panico na TV,’ one of Brazil’s most famous comedy TV shows. I had the most amazing and great experience of my life, in terms of professional and personal growth.”

Katy Lopes 2

The ambitious Lopes was balancing studies at Sao Paulo’s distinguished Universidade Anhembi Morumbi with her work on the series—and both proved invaluable.

“The great college I went to made me a better professional” she said. “But the best training I had was working and living the reality at ‘Panico na TV’ which taught me a lot of things about how to be a producer and also how not to be.”

Lopes’ acutely discerning perspective allowed her to gain critical knowledge at an accelerated pace, one which her professional career path easily matched; she relocated to Southern California where she earned a certificate in producing at the prestigious New York Film Academy.

With her degree in hand and based in the film epicenter, Lopes quickly began to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with. She produced a series of arresting short films (‘Blurred,’ ‘Blades,’ ‘Incomplete,’ ‘UnHappy,’ ‘Misfit’s Prick’), handily accomplishing everything from story and script development to budgeting, scheduling, location scouting and securing locations—the always demanding check list of requisite elements at which Lopes’ excels.

All of this led up to her most ambitious project to date, the altogether extraordinary ‘Inner Self,’ a film focused on an unusual and compelling subject—depression.

“Inner Self was an experimental project that inspired me,” Lopes said. “As the producer of this film, I want to depict the naked day-to-day truth of a young girl who suffers from severe depression.”

Lopes’ deftly handled examination of such raw psychological realities shrewdly mixes emotional subtlety and societal insight.

“Today’s social media generation ends up making it very difficult to identify depression as a disease,” she said. “The social mask teenagers wear also masks the problem, because they may show us a happy person with a happy life, but the problem is hidden inside, and they end up in a deep black hole of their inner, unrevealed self.”

Lopes aimed—and succeeded—in raising awareness and aiding the cause of suicide prevention with the engrossing production and the remarkable contributions of her marvelous star player.

“I was blessed to find an amazing and extremely talented young actress, Ester Vasquez,” Lopes said. “She brought so much life and value to this film and, in addition, she wrote a song especially for Sara, her character, who is a young musician that is trying to live her life with the disease.”

The actress was equally impressed with her producer. “Katy is a great producer because she is passionate and persistant,” Vasquez said. “she knows what she wants to achieve, has excellent pre-production organization She and smpathizes with her crew. By istening and treating everyone with respect, she makes us give the best of ourselves. Katy allowed me to freely explore my character while the camera was rolling—she let me improvise a song in the middle of the shoot! She truly values the people she’s working with.”

Lopes with Ester Vasquez

Lopes with Ester Vasquez

‘Inner Self’ is currently making the rounds of the festival circuit and has just been recognized as a semi- finalist at the prestigious Los Angeles Cine Fest.

“It’s been well received and people are very touched by the movie,” Lopes said. “After all, 99% of the population have someone close who suffers from depression or suicidal thoughts. As a producer and filmmaker, I feel completely responsible to try to influence this generation for the better.”

‘Inner Self’ epitomizes Lopes’ signature combination of prescient professionalism and socially conscious creativity, defining attributes with which she will continue to deliver even more significant creative contributions.

Karen Mitchell: Owning the Screen with Magical Presence

Karen Mitchell
Actress Karen Mitchell shot by Chris Jon Photography

It’s not every day that an actress with the scope of talent Karen Mitchell has comes along. The Australian actress is not only skilled on screen, she has the magic that draws viewers in, bringing her character to life, no matter who it is she’s playing; like the recent role as Linda in the soon to be released romantic drama “If I Were You.” Other upcoming parts she’s championed are Alexa in “Just One More Day,” Tina in “The Margin of Things”.  She can just as easily turn around and seemingly effortlessly play detective roles in projects such as the three-part series “Ice Cold Blood,” and the award-winning television series “Starship One.” She not only skillfully plays the character, she truly is the character.

Perhaps it is the former years she spent as a classic ballet dancer that gives her the ability to glide into any character she graces on screen. Or, perhaps it’s her vast experience and portfolio of masterpiece performances that gives her that special touch.

Throughout her career, Karen Mitchell has built quite a portfolio, bringing to life character after character in a long list of award-winning films, well-known television shows, and nationally-aired commercials. She’s especially drawn to the investigator crime drama roles, beginning with her debut as Twila Busby on “Facing Evil,” a Discovery channel hit.  Her success in the show gave way to many others in the same and similar genres, like playing Catherine in the thriller “Nameless: Blood and Chains,” Tracy in “Deadly Women,” and the unforgettable Carmen on the crime drama series “Behind Mansion Walls.”

Karen Mitchell
Karen Mitchell shot by Sagar Beleka

Karen could have easily become comfortable in her convincing crime drama roles; but, she’s not one to be pigeonholed into playing one type of character. The substance she’s made of radiates way further than that. She excels in stretching herself, playing both good characters and not-so-good ones, which is even more evidence of her elevated skill and talent, a trait that has earned her fans from around the world.

The ability Karen has to take command of any role she plays, captivating her character’s every action and emotion, is unfounded. Over the years she’s expanded her repertoire to include a number of comedic roles in projects such as the hit television series “It’s a Dole Life,” the AACTA award winning television series “Black Comedy,” the two-part Australian satirical AACTA award winning television series  “Double the Fist,” the Australian television comedy series “Legally Brown,” the American adult Netflix sitcom “DisEnchanted” and the action comedy movie “The Tail Job.”  Not many could pull such a feat off but she did, and royally so. In addition, she nailed her performance as Sally in the thriller “Fearless Game” and was a stellar Angela in the family drama “About a Husband.” “The Hand that Feeds” would not have been the same without her in character as Mum and she rocked the role as Deedee Banks in “Torn Devotion” as well.

Karen is at her best when it comes to playing controversial characters that are immoral and conniving like her unforgettable role as Tracy Grissom in “Deadly Women.” She can go from being the lead protagonist to the despised antagonist in a heartbeat. She just has that magical ability to pull any character out of her hat. She can easily master an intense criminal investigator and whip right around and bring those criminal characters we love-to-hate to life. Those are the very attributes that are at the helm of her magnificent journey on screen.  

Karen is not only a highly talented actress and an exquisite dancer, she’s also a voice actor, model and presenter– we’d expect nothing less from the multi-faceted, multi-talented star who is one of those rare individuals that just seems to have it all.

Karen Mitchell
Karen Mitchell plays the lead in a National Commercial for The Commonwealth Bank

Her talents have caught the eyes of the corporate world, who practically stand in line to offer her roles in promoting their wares and services. Commonwealth Bank, Colosyl, Shark Sonic Duo, Thin Lizzy make-up, Coles, Marasilk and Biophysics are just a few of the big names that have sewn her talents up to represent them in commercials.  

Even her voice sets Karen apart. She has been the vocals behind a number of pieces. At present, she is the notorious voice of the children’s entertainment company, Party Pirates.  

Karen’s accomplishments don’t stop there either.  She was a finalist in the Miss Australia beauty pageant.  She’s a Screenwise Film and Television graduate and proud member of the Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA.  Her passion for acting was realized at the tender age of three years old.

It is clear to see that Karen enjoys each and every part she plays. Her passion for what she does is contagious, radiating from the set to the emotions of the audience, whether it be a loveable, despicable, intelligent, or funny part– she sinks into the characters and makes them her own, and it is hard to tell where they end and she begins. Yes, she’s that good!

 

Producer and Director Yuanhao Du dives into mother/son relationships in new film

Filmmaking, for Yuanhao Du, is magic; it is the ability to turn the impossible, possible. As an industry leading producer and director, Du is an extraordinary magician. His ability to take words on a page and turn them into a beautiful cinematic production is unparalleled, and as his name continues to become more and more recognized around the world, his passion for what he does only intensifies.

Throughout his esteemed career, this Chinese native has continuously impressed international audiences with his work. Award-winning films like Patrick, On the Other Side, Off to Care, and more encapsulate what a talent Du is, often working as both producer and director for a single project, taking on a vast amount of responsibility to ensure each and every film he works on is a roaring success.

Du’s acclaimed hit A Mother’s Love is just another example of what this filmmaker is capable of. The film is about a young man and his control freak mother after she discovers the son’s one-night stand died on his bed. Together, they have to find a way to fix this catastrophic problem. The story dives into deep-rooted themes like responsibility and, of course, a mother’s love.

“I guess some people have those types of moms who always try to help you do everything and make all decisions for you. We love that but we also don’t like it. We enjoy doing things without taking any responsibilities, but at the same time, we also hate to be controlled by other people. If you want to control your own life, you have to take responsibility for yourself. We can’t run away from that, no matter what,” said Du. “All parents love their children. They would do anything to protect their kids from anything. However, if parents do that too often, it will cause their kids to become either spoiled or weak. Both of these things are not good for them when they grow up. So, parents accept the truth that eventually kids will have to take responsibility for themselves. This film explores that notion.”

Once Du found the script, he took the time to find the perfect team. He had already done the extensive preparations necessary to turn the script into a film, planning the shot list, storyboard, and researching the themes in other films and literature. Once he had that completed, finding his crew was seamless, as he knew just what to ask of each and every individual.

“I enjoyed the tension that we created. We challenged ourselves and pushed ourselves to be better filmmakers. I love creating a story and being part of story development, but this time I just got a final draft script. It’s quite interesting because as director I need to respect the script and also put my ideas, my point of view into it as that helps make a good movie,” he said.

A Mother’s Love premiered last year, and has recently started making its way to several renowned film festivals. It was an Official Selection at both the Jersey City Popup Film Festival and The Brightside Film Festival 2019, a Finalist at the ONIROS Film Awards and a Semi-Finalist at the Utah Film Festival. Although Du led the team, he remains humble in the wake of the film’s continued success.

“The biggest success is that everyone in my team knows each other well and that is the cornerstone of the whole production. Those experiments when preparing and shooting this project became a valuable resource for me when making even bigger projects in the future. At the same time, this project tested my limitations. It’s a good example to measure my directing and producing abilities,” he said.

A Mother’s Love shows the commitment and talent Du brings to every project he takes on, two fundamental aspects of filmmaking. He directs and produces because he loves it, and he knows that is the key to his success.

“If you just want to be famous, don’t become a filmmaker. There are many things you’ll need to do, and you always need to be ready for the coming challenge. Directing is not just a job, but also a big part of your life. You need to learn how to get those inspirations from your daily life and be ready for suffering when you don’t have inspirations. Your inspirations will come from your life, just be patient and pay attention to the little things. Learn everything you can about film, and always be a student to learn from every filmmaker you work with. Don`t be afraid to ask questions. Filmmaking is teamwork. Nobody really works for you; they work with you. Be nice to everyone, but also be strong as a leader,” he advised.

 

By John Michaels

Lucia Wang’s Free Ride

Free Ride

Audiences love a well-written story with twisting plots. These films are the result of layers upon layers of professionals both in front of and behind the camera. The path from the set to the silver screen is as complex as the actions and motives on screen. One of the professionals who gains the first glimpse to what “will be” is the on-set editor. Ziyang “Lucia” Wang was both editor and the on-set editor for the recently released comedy/crime film Free Ride. The fast pace of the film and its frequent use of VFX kept Wang on the edge of her seat in a manner similar to fans of this film. Even though it has barely had time to appear, Free Ride has already received awards from the Los Angeles Film Festival (Best Indie Short), the CineCina Film Festival, and the Transparent Film Festival (Best Comedy). Though not yet in wide release, Lucia offers an inside peek to the process of making this acclaimed film.

Free Ride is the type of film in which leaves you constantly guessing about who is the real danger. While transporting three dangerous mental patients to another state, the van driver loses one of them. During his search, he encounters a thief who is eluding the authorities. When the criminal offers the driver a cut off his loot, the actions and intentions of all involved parties becomes convoluted and suspect. Hot pursuit, questionable allegiances, and the X-factor of mental patients culminates in both nervous anticipation and hilarity.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the story is its constantly twisting and uncertain direction, by design. “What’s going to happen next?” is the sign of good writing and good execution in a film. This requires an incredible amount of planning and Ziyang was a part of this from the earliest of preproduction meetings. From storyboard layout to final presentation, her editing expertise was a major benefit for director Yi Qu in achieving her vision for this film. The tone of the story could be described as a sarcastic black comedy influenced by No Country for Old Men and Hell or High Water. There’s a palpable undertone which alludes to the human condition of always wanting more contributing to one’s downfall. Ziyang relates, “Free Ride is not only a tense movie but has a lot of craziness and cynical perspective to it. As a road film, it contains a lot of location changes that we needed to cover in a short amount of time. Our director was very worried about this during the pre-production but I showed her some short clips to convince her that in the world of editing, we don’t have to show every line, every sentence, and every second; jump shots work perfectly, especially in a comedic piece.” This approach is perfectly displayed when the criminal first jumps into the van. Lines of dialogue overlap and the back & forth editing perfectly complements this frantic moment. The silence that follows delivered by the punchline of the driver asking the robber to buckle his seat belt is even more gratifying because of this. Yi Qu’s confidence in Wang’s editing was so great that she even conducted a reshoot based on the editor’s input. Ziyang states, “In the original version of there is a scene in which the driver decides to strike the criminal with a taser. I felt there was a lack of drama for this peak moment in the story. I asked for a separate insert shot of the taser hidden under the driver’s seat as a POV shot. I cut it in this way: the driver hops off the van, looks down, and cut to the taser to highlight it as an important prop. Then I cut back to the driver looking up with this taser already in his hand…and now the audience knows what he’s going to do. Subtle tweaks like this are important and this shot totally increased the tension.”

In a variety of ways, Ziyang Wang proves that she’s not there simply to cut what others imagine but to reimagine ways of helping their vision be achieved. She’s not clairvoyant, she’s an editor. As a professional who is focused on making the work of others looking better, Ziyang is creating a reputation that will see much more work heading her way.