A talk with renowned cinematographer Feixue Tang

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetWhen Feixue Tang thinks back to growing up in Beijing, China, she recalls her middle school and high school years as being extremely dull and oppressive. The school system only cared about high grades, and students are then rated, ranked, and sorted based on academic performances. As an escape, the young Tang started watching a lot of films in her own time. She felt her life expand through immersing herself in all those different movies around the world.

“When I was in high school, I watched Elephantby Gus Van Sant. I was very impressed by the film as it showed me the great possibilities of what film as an art form could be like. I really loved how Elephantplayed with narrative structure and perspectives to tell the story artfully and creatively and how it utilized the form to serve the best of its content. While watching behind the scenes of the film it fascinated me seeing all these different crafts and creative minds going into the making of a film,” said Tang.

As a young teenager, Tang knew she wanted to one day go on to making movies. She wanted to tell stories and share a part of herself with the world through her work. Now, she has achieved all that and more. She is an award-winning cinematographer, internationally in-demand with a series of decorated projects highlighting her resume.

Throughout her career, Tang has shown what she is capable of as a cinematographer. Earlier this year, she made headlines with the multiple awards she took home for her outstanding cinematography on the film Here & Beyond. The experience of making the film, for Tang, was one of the best of her career, and the awards and recognition are secondary to simply loving what she does.

“I would say the highlights of my career are the moments when as a cinematographer, you meet a director that you can communicate so well with and with whom your collaboration is so spontaneous, fluid, inspiring and creative,” said Tang. “The collaboration with director Colin West on Here & Beyond was definitely one of my highlights. We talked day after day in pre-production discussing how to create the visual world for his film Here & Beyond. That collaboration, the continuously mutual inspiring experience was definitely why I chose and love this job.”

Here & Beyond is just one of Tang’s many success stories. She was also recently nominated for Best Cinematography of a Documentary Short Film at the Asian Cinematography Awards for her work on Lumpkin, GA, which dives into the issues surrounding America’s immigration policies by documenting the stories of a small town with a huge immigration detention center right next to it.

Lumpkin, GA’s praise is hardly Tang’s first success story in the documentary genre. Her film Who We Are, a film that starts in the midst of America’s Opioid Epidemic when a Southern California family searches for meaning in the wake of their son’s death, received critical acclaim at many international film festivals.

Undoubtedly, Tang is a force to be reckoned with as a cinematographer, and she understands the intricacies of the artform more than most. She did not always know this would be her path, but she knows she is just where she is meant to be and worked hard to get there. For those who are pursuing a similar dream, she offers the following advice:

“I think in general to work in film you need to be really passionate about what you do. It’s working long hours, it’s challenging physically and intellectually, and compared to other jobs it has so many turbulences and unknowns. I think feeling that you honestly love the job and enjoy being emerged in it is very important. And then just continue learning and never stop,” she advised.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Tang’s future projects. She is about to begin work on a new feature length documentary, as well as a fictional movie. You can stay up-to-date with her work by checking out her website here.

 

By John Michael

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Otavio Rabelo talks passion for graphic design and working with ‘TheWrap’

IMG_0565As an industry-leading Editorial and Marketing Designer with Deadline Hollywood, Otavio Rabelo works with typography, colors, images and other design elements to create unique graphic layouts that are printed or used digitally. He designs conceptual layouts to all sections of a magazine using all the mentioned elements on computer software, and he is responsible for checking and sending final files to printers and making sure that everything is going to be printed correctly. It is a pivotal role in the success of each issue of a magazine he touches, and he knows this well. He remains dedicated to his craft at all times, a true perfectionist.

“Publications are always trending around the most well-known people in all fields. People love to read about who is on top of the world. I work creating printed and digital content to announce nominees and winners. It’s fun to get to know before everybody else what the editorial team is thinking,” said Rabelo.

Prior to his work with Deadline, Rabelo worked with other renowned magazines, including FourTwoNine and TheWrap, the latter of which truly allowed his work to be seen by Hollywood’s elite on a regular basis.

TheWrap is a well-known entertainment magazine in Hollywood/Los Angeles. When the opportunity presented itself to me, I was excited to grow as an Editorial Designer and show my design skills to such a great audience. The magazines that I design are only distributed to the most well-known people in the industry,” he said. “TheWrapis a small company but very well- known in the entertainment industry. Working there I was able to use my own design skills as an outlet for the projects.”

Working at TheWrap presented several new and unique challenges for Rabelo, who had previously never designed for the entertainment industry. It was his first time working with Oscar and Emmy Seasons, and he had no idea how the entertainment world worked. There are always new films and TV shows being released, as well as nominations and awards, the Oscars and Emmys are extremely important and he had no idea how complex the film industry was, with new festivals always coming up that he needed to stay on top of. He loved the challenge and knew understanding the industry was extremely important in knowing the design, as he had to understand his target market. Now, he feels like a seasoned professional, and the learning curve was well worth it.

“Getting to know the inside of the entertainment industry for the first time was very new to me. I got to see the world’s most famous actors, actresses and directors in person. It was the first time that I realized that my work was important and respected by those professionals,” he said.

Rabelo was responsible for designing and creating layouts for different sections of each publication. He was also in charge of checking and sending advertisements with final editorial files to the printer. He made sure to always have a perfect copy, as if something was incorrect after the final approval, there was no way to fix it. During his time at the magazine, there was never a single mistake to be fixed.

“Since it was such a small company, everybody at TheWrap was always very connected with me and my work. People would often ask my opinions about multiple projects based on my skills. Once the magazine was out everybody would be very nice and compliment me a lot about the issues,” he said.

By Annabelle Lee

Thespian Profile: William Prescott

Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman have each been quoted on a number of occasions that their success on screen, and their award-winning performances, are attributable to their early careers in the theatre. And while it’d behove many young actors to follow their advice, it’s rare in today’s age to meet a successful TV or film actor who treads the boards much like Blanchett and Jackman, particularly with the current rise of Instagram and YouTube stars.

 

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William Prescott, as photographed by Julian Dolman.

 

This week’s feature about acting and craft is on Australian actor William Prescott, a commanding thespian originally from Melbourne who has come to show no signs of slowing down.

William represents something of an anomaly in today’s industry, as this actor – who started out in the Australian theatre scene in 2015 with his acclaimed performance in a Melbourne production of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” at Q44 Theatre and now commands a high-salary across many different mediums – proved his worth on the stage prior to his current success on screen, silver and small.

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A rehearsal shot from Q44’s production of Hurlyburly, in which William enjoyed a leading role. 

“Training in the theatre has been key to developing my skills across all other acting mediums. Theatre forces you to be in the moment. There are no retakes save for the following night’s performance.”

William, who received acclaim for his role as Phil, a suicidal bully, in a stage production of Q44s “Hurlyburly”, is adept at explaining in detail the benefits of acting on stage. 

“I went from fearing something going wrong during a performance – a spilled drink, a dropped line, a missing prop – to praying for it. These moments are often the most true (and still most terrifying!)”

When asked about what theatre has taught him, and how it has undoubtedly informed his success that can be seen in Netflix series Glitch, upcoming series The Next Big Thing and other shows like Movement and Beat Bugs, William is quick to keep bringing back his observations to the craft.

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William appears in multiple episodes of the acclaimed Netflix series, Glitch. 

“A lot of the time in TV for example, you need to create a relationship to your character and the world that character lives in very quickly, because you might only be doing one scene. Why are they here? What do they want? How can the other character(s) in the scene help them get it? If you can answer those questions, you’re halfway there in creating something real for the audience.”

In many ways it’s not a shock to learn of William’s success, as it’s to be expected that someone with such an ardent appreciation of art, as he shows, would want to have explored every facet of performance on his way to moving through the ranks to be among the top of the acting field in Australia.

“Hugh Jackman is a huge inspiration of mine. Of course he’s a fellow Australian actor but it’s the way he carries himself through the industry that I admire. He did a talk for us at 16th Street Acting Studios where I began my training. He was meant to be there for 45 mins and stayed for over 2 hours taking questions.”

William elaborates on the movie star’s generosity.

“He’s as generous and honest as you hope he’d be. At one point a student asked about whether he fears going to dark places for disturbed characters such as the one he played in Prisoners. He answered, “no, it should be FUN! I’m lucky that I GET to go to dark places and explore that side of myself” I couldn’t agree more…it kind of works like free therapy!

There’s a running joke from my acting friends that I think Hugh is my best mate because he gave a group talk once. I refer to this Q&A… a lot.”

William’s ability to speak articulately about other performers is as much a lesson in history as it is in acting, as he also offers great tidbits about those who cross between the comedy and acting fields.

“It’s no surprise to me that some of the greatest contemporary actors seem to have come from a stand-up comedy background. I did stand up for 2 years before I jumped into acting. There is honestly nothing more terrifying and vulnerable than being in front of a silent audience with one task – make them laugh. If you can survive that (and there were some bad ones) you can survive anything.”

William’s recent starring performances in the TV shows Glitch and The Next Big Thing are in many ways a culmination of his earlier work on stage, given how he effortlessly traverses between drama in Glitch and comedy in The Next Big Thing. As Cate Blanchett exclaimed when winning her Oscar for Blue Jasmine in 2014, her work in that film represented a synthesis of her time in the theatre, and William’s compelling work in the Netflix and other online hit shows reveal similar signs of a revered sense of acting.

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William delivers a hilarious performance in the impressive comedy online series, The Next Big Thing (aka TNBT).

Adding to his repertoire is William’s experience in voice work, as another leading Australian actor Hugo Weaving himself has suggested on many occasions, has granted William a reflexivity and adaptability on any set to keep filming past a 12-hour day.

“I’m really fortunate to regularly work as a Voice Actor in Melbourne. It’s a lot of fun and it teaches you to survive under high pressure set/studio environments. When you have 8 clients and a sound engineer staring at you through the glass and you’re on take 10  having not yet given them what they need, the voice in your head needs to be a supportive one – “breathe, take a sip of water, think about what you want to deliver in this next take and smash it”. 

William’s comedic work in series The Next Big Thing particularly showcases this remarkable skill.

“TNBT was a blast to film. It’s my first time playing multiple characters in Jeremy (an overly gentle, uncoordinated boxer) and Jack (an arrogant rock star with little to boast about). They’re kind of two sides of the same coin. It’s being produced by Bravada Films, directed by Dean Codrington. It’s basically been a huge improv fest and heaps of fun.”

William’s work is one of many examples from his career that shows why he’s now in demand by the US market. We’re quick to ask about his role in an upcoming project shooting in the US, and his strengthening relationships with an array of US producers. 

“I can’t quite give details just yet, but I’m very excited about that project.”

For this versatile performer, it’s a deserving reward for hard work done, and a sign for what’s to come.

“A lot of people ask me “how long will you give it? The acting thing?” My aim is just to stay in the game, any way I can. If I’m in it, I’m happier than if I’m out…Just so long as I’m a part of it somewhere, somehow, that’s a life win for me.”