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Female Filmmaker to Watch: Eliza Brownlie

Eliza Brownlie
Movie poster for “The After Party”

 

Canadian filmmaker Eliza Brownlie has firmly made her mark as a director in Hollywood. A breath of fresh air in the contentious filmmaking landscape, Brownlie has solidified her reputation as a director who tells stories with a unique aesthetic style while exploring social constructs and the human experience of modern life.

Her 2016 surrealist horror film The After Party earned praise from coast to coast in the U.S. garnering a hugely successful festival run with exclusive “invitation-only” screenings at the Sacramento Horror Film Festival in California and the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in New York.

Directed and written by Brownlie, The After Party follows an aspiring starlet who hopes to break into the Hollywood scene by attending a mysterious, late night party where she quickly discovers a darkness the lurks beneath the glitz and glamour.

With captivating visuals and an intriguing story that leaves audiences wanting more, The After Party is rendered even more interesting thanks to the distinct female lens through which it is filtered.

“I knew I wanted to make something within the horror/thriller genre and set in Hollywood. I had been living there and was interested in the idea of how this beautiful dream world could resemble more of a nightmare when you examine it a little closer,” explains Brownlie.

“I needed a context, so I thought, what more appropriate setting for a surrealist horror film than a private party in the hills. I also needed a protagonist who was naïve to this world and desperate to be a part of it, so, naturally, I decided to make the lead an aspiring starlet. The rest of the story and the characters expanded from there.”

 

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Still of actress Tarryn Lagana in Eliza Brownlie’s film “The After Party”

 

The film’s star Tarryn Lagana, who’s represented by Luber Roklin Entertainment, the same talent agency that represents Disney superstar Dove Cameron and the late Oscar-nominated actor Burt Reynolds, shines on screen. Lagana was also recently signed to Abrams Artists Agency, which represents Finn Wolfhard from the Netflix series Stranger Things.

“Working with Eliza is an incredibly open experience. She loves to communicate with her actors and give them freedom to explore within the scene. Which was great for ‘The After Party’ because it gave me a chance to create the character Simone and ultimately deliver a strong performance,” says Lagana.

“Eliza is a one of a kind director… She has a very specific voice and vision that makes her stand out as one of the greatest filmmakers of her generation… She is what the industry needs right now.”

 

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Cinematographer Ari Bre Bre (left), Director Eliza Brownlie (center), and producer Jessica Kelley (right) on set of a commercial for Cast + Combed

 

Well versed in directing projects across various mediums, Brownlie’s resume showcases her impressive flexibility and includes commercial, fashion films, music videos and narrative films, with her collective body of work revealing a highly stylized and dreamy nature that has reinforced her reputation as an auteur. Over the years she has directed numerous captivating and edgy commercials for an impressive list of clients including Dove, Top Expert and Canon.

In the fashion film she directed for Top Expert featuring model Breanna Box, she captures her subject with slow camera movements, creating a sultry, relaxed vibe that makes us want to dress ourselves in all of the company’s luxury basics. Brownlie effortlessly pulls us into the ethereal worlds she paints in many of her fashion films with a unique style that is simply unforgettable.

A dynamic director, another powerful aspect of her directorial prowess that has set her apart and led her to become a sought after director for more human-interest style commercial pieces is her talent for eliciting raw and vulnerable emotions from her subjects and revealing them with a rare form of elegance. As the director of the docu-style commercial series ‘Imperfectionists’ for Dove’s Self-Esteem Project, and Canon’s Female Hero series, Brownlie captures the women on screen in a way that is captivating, relatable and empowering.

“I like projects that challenge or engage the viewer in an interesting way. Something in the material needs to resonate with me. There’s nothing more painful than working on something you don’t have any passion for,” says Brownlie.

From the extensive repertoire of work that she has released to date it is clear that Brownlie is passionate about her subjects. She is definitely one contemporary female filmmaker that has made a powerful mark in both Hollywood and on a global scale, and she’s one that we will continue to look towards for inspiration.  

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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.

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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.

 

 

Netflix Actor Millie Samuels on working for the streaming giant, and more

While well-known actress Millie Samuels will strike anyone with whom she comes in contact as a truly down-to-Earth Australian, this young thespian has most certainly reached the level of international player after more than a decade in the film industry.

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Millie Samuels, as shot by renowned photographer Marnya Rothe.

Millie, who honed her craft at Oscar-nominee William H. Macy’s Atlantic Acting School, has forged her place in entertainment by way of playing a wide range of characters in numerous successful productions. The topic we’ve sat down to discuss with the leading lady on this occasion though is specifically her successful partnership with streaming giant Netflix. That association has seen her leverage critically acclaimed Australian TV show “The Gods of Wheat Street” to international audiences. In turn, fans around the world have become familiar with the Sydney-local, who has also had projects screen in prestigious film festivals in New York and Los Angeles. Online series Girt by Fear, directed by Hyde & Seek’s Yianni Andrikidis, screened at the NYC Webfest in 2017, while film Three Hearts notably screened at the TCL Chinese Theatres in LA for the Dances with Films Festival in 2015. In both projects, Millie played the lead role – adding to her impressive roster of diverse screen performances.

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Millie trained at Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy’s Atlantic Acting School in New York City, alongside “Pirates of the Carribbean” actor, Travis Jeffery.

Regarding Netflix and Gods of Wheat Street, Millie enthusiastically outlines her character Anastasia Hamilton. “[She] was integral to the plot as I had the romantic storyline. Viewers enjoyed watching this romance grow with every episode and to see Anastasia’s morals outgrow her bigoted father and eventually convinced her mother to abandon him too. Although not initially apart of the Freeburn clan, it was her heroic heart that would do anything for love that eventually lead her to be accepted.”

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Millie has enjoyed playing leading roles on shows which have been popular with Netflix subscribers.

Millie adds with a smile, “Everybody loves a good romantic storyline and the relationship between Tristian and Anastia surely gave audiences that…it was so well received that Netflix bought the streaming rights.”

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Millie Samuels with SyFy Hunters star Mark Coles-Smith in a scene from Gods of Wheat Street, a show that’s been a hit for ABC and Netflix globally. 

This awareness of how her characters fit into the storylines of each project in which she has been cast has allowed Millie to develop an excellent reputation amongst filmmakers, a testament to the notion that being a hard-working team-player – especially with companies like Netflix and ABC – never goes unnoticed. When assessing her body of work, it’s clear Millie is an top-tier actor because she understand that she’s one part in a bigger machine, yet still gives 150%. This is a testament to a unique and strong combination of self-belief when it comes to her craft, but no ego when it comes to her status.

She further explains, “Now that Netflix has picked it up the show, the viewers only get larger as word travels and they are able to watch the series in its entirety. To have this touching series be given another chance to win over audience’s hearts was definitely a highlight for me.”

Undoubtedly, Millie’s ability as an actor to simultaneously tap into strength and vulnerability helped propel the story forward. Were it not for her gripping performance and chemistry she created with Tristan – played by SyFy Hunters star Mark Coles Smith – the evolution of each character would not have happened. As Millie clarifies, “It is the love and connection between these two characters that helps to break down the racial tension in the town… She brings hope and resilience to the story, she is determined to prove to the Freeburn’s that she is nothing like her father…inspir[ing] Anastasia’s mother to leave her abusive marriage.”

Undoubtedly, the crucial role her characters plays in the series, and how successful the show has been for Netflix, goes to prove that Millie is firmly a part of the Netflix family.

On the other end of the spectrum is Millie’s portfolio of film work. Compelling stories which have called for Millie’s craft include film The Passenger, which screened at the prestigious Chauvel Cinema in Sydney’s Paddington, and Flow, which drew packed crowds to the biggest independent cinema in the southern hemisphere, the Cinema Nova Carlton Melbourne. The diversity of the showcases in which Millie’s work has appeared ensure that she has a reach in different pockets of the industry, leading to her appointment as a judge for the highly regarded Monthly Film Festival, and various roles in production at companies like Network 7 and most recently for a film with a Disney star who boasts an enormous social media following.

“Judging [the Monthly] is an honour…the panel love my input as I have such a broad experience within the industry…even working with Disney star Sofia Riley, who has 1 million followers on Instagram, gives me a comprehensive understanding of how everything works at an international level.” She adds with a laugh, “I can’t believe Instagram is a thing now!”.

Of course, while this reputation might lead someone to develop an ego, as we stated in the beginning of this article, Millie is first and foremost down-to-earth. Her type of relatable personality, combined with her success, has meant she was selected to be the face of Arnotts, Australia’s most iconic maker of biscuits which retains its Aussie charm in spite of the fact it boasted a gob-smacking revenue of $1.09 billion in 2015.

“I was the face of the new line of shapes and was exciting to see the ad played nationally for one of Australia’s largest food companies in the Asia Pacific region” Millie states.

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Millie looking glorious in a shot from her Arnott’s campaign.

Arnott’s exports continue to grow, with the company’s Australian-made biscuits now being shipped to more than 40 countries around the world including Japan, the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Tahiti and New Zealand.

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Millie in another shot from her Arnott’s campaign for ‘Shapes’ biscuits, an Australian icon.

Millie elaborates that “having that kind of…exposure for such an iconic company like Arnott’s was surreal, shapes have been in my life ever since my first lunch box in first grade.”

The continuing evolution of Millie’s body of work ensures that roles in projects for a company like Netflix, independent films, or international brands, will undoubtedly continue. “I’ve been very lucky,” Millie gleefully exclaims.

Audience Favourite Cooper van Grootel on his dominance of Australian film and TV

When asked about his growth as an actor over the years, Cooper van Grootel is confident but still unassuming. “I am extremely proud of my development as an actor and to see how far I have come over many years.”

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Aussie star Cooper van Grootel on the red carpet for the Revelation Film Festival, one of Perth’s most highly regarded film festivals.

Indeed, Cooper has forged a path in the industry that’s unheard of; switching between film and TV projects at a rapid-fire pace, and he’s still only the tender age of 17. Such is the degree to which Cooper is in demand in the film industry, this interview had to be scheduled in between takes on set where he is filming a yet-to-be-announced project.

Previous performances Cooper has delivered to critical acclaim include Brayden in the highly regarded mini-series Mystery Road, the second time Cooper had been hired by Rachel Perkins after the two had already worked together on award-winning feature film, Jasper Jones. A second casting by an acclaimed director like Rachel is a rare occurrence in the industry, and serves as proof for how Cooper is held in high-esteem within the industry.

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Cooper as ‘Brayden’ in the acclaimed ABC series, Mystery Road co-starring Oscar-nominee Judy Davis.  

Notably, Cooper’s time on both sets was spent being antagonistic towards main characters, reinforcing the view that Cooper’s journey to the top is unconventional. Most teen actors are typecast as the boy-next-door, but Cooper brings an authority and intensity to his screen performances that ensure he always stands out.

“I really like playing the bad guy,” Cooper exclaims. “It’s a lot of fun,” he adds with a laugh.

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Cooper van Grootel, in another scene from Mystery Road, which was shot in the outback of Australia.

Adding to that, Cooper showered praise on his director.

“Working with Rachel Perkins was an honour and one of the highlights of my career so far.”

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Award-winning director Rachel Perkins and her company Blackfella Films, are huge fans of Cooper’s and have hired him on multiple occasions to appear in their acclaimed projects. Photo by Meg White. 

Jasper Jones received positive notices from around the world, including a review from Trespass which described it as “well scripted, shot, and acted…it streamlines a story without sacrificing complexity, and it is both entertaining and thoughtful while it’s at it.”

 

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Jasper Jones also featured The Matrix and Lord of the Rings star, Hugo Weaving.

While on set, Cooper had to be racist towards a Vietnamese character, played by Jeffrey Lu, giving way to revelations around racial tension concerning one of the film’s leading characters.

“It can sometimes be hard to relate to characters with derogatory attitudes like the guy I played in Jasper Jones.”

He elaborates. “Moments like that in films though make a valuable point about characters being lonely and misunderstood in Australia.”

What’s unique about Cooper is his ability to simultaneously retain his position at the top of young Australian actors and an affable quality that guarantees audiences always fall in love with him.

In the film project Resonance, Cooper played a key role under the direction of inspiring filmmaker Jade Chamberlain.

When asked about Cooper’s screen presence and ability to take direction, Jade beamed. “I would recommend him to anyone as he is a great actor.”

Cooper also received extremely positive notices from industry professionals for his role in the chilling mini-series Monday Night Menace, co-starring fellow teen star Shannon Berry who recently starred in the #1 Sci-Fi movie on Amazon, Alpha Gateway and the big-budget SyFy show, Hunters. She was recently announced as part of the cast for Amazon’s The Wilds. 

“Shannon Berry is a creative, strong-willed and a brilliant young actress who brings so much realism and energy to the screen,” Cooper generously and enthusiastically said, when asked about his co-star. Cooper’s humility is clear when he recognises how, even when he might be considered at the top of his field, he points to the creative lessons he continues to learn from his A-list co-stars.

“Shannon helped me push the boundaries, in very difficult scenes, and from this I learnt some much about myself as an actor.”

Monday Night Menace also gave Cooper the opportunity to work with innovative filmmaker Blake Hay.

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Cooper played the leading role of Daniel in Monday Night Menace. 

“Blake Hay made us push boundaries with our acting,” Cooper quickly asserts.

Of course, Cooper is used to pushing himself as an actor. The blue-eyed youngster’s ability to continually stretch himself and push for a higher-standard in his abilities was reflected when Showcast, Australia’s leading casting network, awarding him the 2017 and 2016 awards for Outstanding Achievement in Acting.

“Winning the award from Showcast was a very humbling and delightful experience,” Cooper eloquently stated, adding that he was also especially grateful to CAA-represented producer Lauren Elliott and Mazair Lahooti for judging his work and making a decision about the prize.

“I can’t thank Showcast enough for giving me the award for my work,” Cooper reiterates.

There’s no doubt this gratitude will see Cooper continue to grow and jump between projects. In the meantime, he tells us he needs to get back to set.

“I’ve gotta go run lines!” he laughs.

SYD2030 star, and commercial favourite Alistair Cooke, on his leading career in Australian TV

Alistair Cooke has become used to dealing with the pressures of a busy acting career. Originally from Perth, Australia, this home-grown successful thesp sits down with us to reflect on his critical role in the award-winning online series, “Syd2030”.

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Alistair Cooke, photographed and styled for our story about his impressive career.

Alistair prefaces the conversation with a declaration on why he does what he does.

“At the end of the day, I believe in story-telling and that’s my main purpose,” he clarifies with the wisdom of someone three times his age.

When asked to elaborate, Alistair points to what he hopes to do with his acting in general.

“I’m an actor focused of sharing the experiences of characters and giving audiences the opportunity to learn and experience things they wouldn’t in their day to day life.”

We begin our discussion with a reflection the hit drama, “Syd2030.” When asked about his contribution to the show, Alistair speaks with an authoritative confidence.

“My character “Avery” in “Syd2030” was a necessity to the show. He brought the comedic relief in what was a drama heavy production.”

Indeed, watching the show it’s very clear Alistair brings an inviting humour into every scene in which he appears, but balances that out with a extremely strong grip on the dramatic tension. Proof of the exceptional acting talent he has come to be known as.

“Syd2030” was acclaimed as Australia’s answer to “Gossip Girl’ meets “Suits” – a fictional inside look into the lives of ambitious law students. This meant that some episodes were laced with heavy topics, include drug use and depression. The role of Avery, as played by Alistair, therefore became a fan favourite for the way he offered comedic punctuations to every scene in which he appeared. This balance in tonality clearly struck a chord with industry peers, as it helped the propel the show to critical acclaim and win Best Drama Webseries at the highly regarded Webby Awards.

“Syd2030 was an enjoyable production to be a part of and I loved every minute of it,” Alistair says with a smile.

Adding to the specialness of the project was the fact the show’s season, and the many episodes in which Alistair’s work appeared, premiered at an exclusive venue in Bondi in Westfield Bondi, one of Australia’s biggest event centres.

“It was really fun, I took Giselle Van Der Weil, from Channel Seven’s “Manhunt,” as my date…once seeing my character’s comedic relief in the show on the big screen, it all made sense.  My role helped keep things light and relatable for an audience when the scene was in a dark or emotionally turbulent place.”

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Alistair with fellow famous Aussie actor, Giselle Van Der Weil, on the red carpet for SYD2030, in which he played the compelling character, Avery.  

When viewing the series, it’s clear that Alistair’s acting allowed an audience a conduit through which they could connect with the character’s storylines, because of the unique humanity he brought to the character of Avery. Producers of SYD2030 attribute the jump in viewers – estimated to be 3 million across Australia alone – to Alistair’s involvement.

Aside from the inextricable function Alistair played in the second season’s plotline about upper-class law students at Australia’s best law school, Alistair’s casting in the show is equally impressive.

“I was actually contacted by producers who had seen my work in the past and asked if I would be interested in the role,” when asked whether he auditioned for the job.

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Alistair in action playing ‘Avery’ for the award-winning series, SYD2030.

It’s clear that, such is the excellent reputation Alistair has built for himself, he is frequently in demand.

For example, Alistair shot his key role in internationally-syndicated “Behind Mansion Walls”, which airs on Investigation Discovery in the US, in between various stage shows in Sydney.

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Alistair in character for the hugely popular show “Behind Mansion Walls,” in which he played the twisted character, Marc Shrueder.

Alistair’s eyes light up when recalling that shooting experience.

 

“Behind Mansion Walls” was actually my first experience on set with a fire arm. I played Marc Schrueder, a young man who killed his grandfather with a gun.”

The menacing nature of the character meant that Alistair was the subject of the show’s storyline, and without his committed performance of playing a real-life person, the story simply would not have worked.

“It was a very interesting experience,” Alistair continues, “learning how to use the weapon and how to use it safely was an eye opening experience that helped me sink into the worldview of the character more accurately. “

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Alistair, mid-scene in “Behind Mansion Walls,” had to learn how to use a firearm in preparation for this chilling scene.

The significance of Alistair’s performance in “Behind Mansion Walls” aside, it’s apparent that Alistair is particularly adept at lighting up the screen with his distinct portrayal of joyous characters.

It’s this casting niche that has meant he has also experienced a lengthy record of success in Australian TV commercials, meaning audiences have become used to associating Alistair with household brands.

“Commercials are definitely a fun part of the job,” Alistair smiles, who also appeared as a lead in the TV series “Wicca” with “Innuendo” actress Naomi Lisner that same year he was the face of a campaign for Crown Resorts, Australia’s largest entertainment, resort and and gaming conglomerate.

“Working with famous AFL footballer “Nic Naitanui” was a commercial highlight. It was advertising “Crown Resorts”, we were in a sports bar watching the footy together.”

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Alistair (left), in the hugely popular Crown Resorts campaign featuring famous AFL footballer, Nic Natanui 

Indeed, Alistair was a central part of the campaign, as the story centred around him watching the big game with his friends, when they bump into AFL football star Natanui who then joins Alistair’s character for a drink to watch the game. The premise of the commercial was that is “you’ll never know who you will meet at Crown Resorts.”

When we followed up with Alistair about the TV campaign, Alistair’s representatives were quick to boast: “this commercial had a very large budget, so over 80 people auditioned for this role!”

Aside from this budget, Crown Resorts is one of Australia’s leading companies, generating 4.71 billion dollars in revenue in 2015 alone – the same year Alistair’s campaign originally aired. Alistair’s connection to the glowing success of the company is ultimately undeniable, and has been very lucrative for the dedicated thespian who originally started his career determined ironically to live as a ‘starving artist’ to benefit his craft.

Commercials have also resulted in Alistair building on the prominence of his working relationships, as his leading role as the face of KFC gave him the opportunity to work with American director Ken Lambert.

Sounding like the health-conscious actor he is, Alistair added “However…I was certainly looking forward to salad by the end of the shoot.”

And on that note, Alistair tells he needs to get back to set. He adds with a smile, “they’ve got really healthy catering on this one though!”

Australian Star Emily Gruhl: Truth on Screen at Home and Abroad

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Emily Gruhl continues to push the boundaries of acting truthfully with her groundbreaking performances.

Australian actress Emily Gruhl quickly became an audience favourite upon entering the industry, winning roles in a range of highly-esteemed projects that have helped her carve out a place at the top of what is frequently perceived as an incredibly competitive field.

A graduate of the prestigious QUT acting programme – the same school through with “Pirates of the Caribbean” star Brenton Thwaites trained – Emily hasn’t let a busy filming schedule get in the way of balancing work with artistry. She sat down with us to discuss her views on acting, and how it has helped her traverse a relatively calm journey in a notoriously difficult career.

Upon listening to her reflect about her authoritative approach to her craft, it’s not surprising to learn that Emily has enjoyed more leading roles in a range of film and television projects than some actors more than twice her age, such is the depth of her experience and the degree to which she is respected in the Australian entertainment industry.

Emily explains, “I believe the best actors strive to achieve the highest level of truth in performance possible. This is certainly something that is of the utmost importance to me. I feel a responsibility to my characters when I play them and do everything in my power to achieve this.”

In Hobby Shop, Emily delivered a leading performance in the character of Mary. Produced by the highly regarded team at Like a Phonton Creative in partnership with Screen Queensland, that film concerned a hobby shop owner who kidnaps Mary while in grief over the loss of his daughter. In a creepy twist, Mary is forced to be displayed in the shop as if she is a puppet. Without Mary, and therefore Emily’s scene-stealing acting, the film simply would not have any drama and it wouldn’t make its creepy turn into the horror genre.

The film’s directors, Stephanie Liquorish and Isabel Stanfield, elaborated on how Emily’s performance was inextricably tied to the film’s success. “Emily had a remarkable character transformation…She had developed a different gait and speech pattern. It was incredible character work…you could really feel the desperation and intense need of her character for salvation. This was all due to Emily’s wonderful screen craft and her inventiveness in the presentation of Mary.”

“Hobby Shop,” along with Emily’s masterful work, was showcased at the prestigious Chinese Theatre in Hollywood at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival – the largest and longest running horror film festival in the United States. In addition, it recently won the Gold Award at the Australian Cinematographer’s Society Awards.

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Emily Gruhl on set for “Hobby Shop” with the award-winning cinematographer, Lucas Tomoana.

The successful project is another example of how Emily has become a leading lady in the style of Golden Age Hollywood – a true thespian who can work like a character actress and appear in different genres, but also present herself as a true movie-star.

This is because accessing truth for Emily is more important than fame. “Last Cab to Darwin” star Mark Coles Smith offered our editors unfiltered praise when asked what sets Emily apart from other actors. ““It is not often you have a deep sense of the talent and focus of a particular artist until you get to know them, however, Emily’s unprecedented excellence was apparent from my first meeting with her.”

Such compliments are unsurprising considering her experience in theatre, well-known for providing a necessary training ground for thespians who build long-lasting careers. Emily shared the stage with Golden-Globe nominee Katherine Langford (“13 Reasons Why”) under the direction of revered coach-to-the-stars, Larry Moss. She has also worked with  star AACTA award-nominated Andrew Ryan in the Queensland NRL program, in which she had to deliver a heartfelt and challenging monologue.

“Every time I did the monologue the men were extremely affected and I really do believe we affected change during the time we were there.”

Mark Coles-Smith, who also appeared as the lead role in the SyFy series “Hunters,” elaborates even further in his praise. “It was an absolute pleasure working with Emily. She is so giving with her time and energy, which is the hallmark of a world class actor with an assured future of success. She is an incredible performer, a truly exceptional actor and gracious and giving human being.”

Ultimately, from “Hobby Shop,” to “Picnic at Hanging Rock”, and now feature film “Angel of Mine” with “Dracula” star Luke Evans, Emily has indeed proved herself more than capable from being just another actor. Emily Gruhl is truly unique.

She eloquently adds, “The character of Courtney in “Angel of Mine” is extremely different to me as a person. [Director] Kim Farrant knows me very well personally after working together so much and so she very clearly knew that I am very different to the character of Courtney.”

Extending on her comment regarding truth in performance, “Kim’s work is very personal and she kindly demands a lot from her actors to the point where she believes that putting yourself back together emotionally as an actor is as important as getting to those intense emotional places.”

Emily offers an even more specific viewpoint. “The kind of acting Kim excels at directing and enjoys the most is performances that have incredible emotional dexterity, complexity and nuance to them. This is also the style of acting I most enjoy doing and this usually requires incredible emotional depth from the actors.”

Another project that demanded Emily’s attention, and ability to be truthful, is “A Suburban Love Story.” In the key role of Molly, Emily worked opposite “The Mummy’s” Luke Ford and “Secret City” actor Vanessa Moltzen. Director Stephen Wallace, who has also directed Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, explained that Emily “worked extremely hard in some very difficult circumstances, never giving less than her best. She is a true professional whom I would recommend to anyone.” Extending upon his exploration for why Emily is truly a one-of-a-kind actor, Stephen added: “She is also photogenic and can produce deeply emotional performances when called on. That’s rare.”

While Emily spoke about her craft fondly, she was simply too humble to offer an assessment for why she is considered a true star. Instead, to carve out the truth about Emily’s uniquness it only made sense to seek out the opinion of one of Australia’s leading casting directors, Faith Martin (responsible for casting “Peter Pan” and “Evil Dead”). Martin notably cast Emily in her critical role in “A Suburban Love Story”

“Combined with her naturalness, her beauty and her commitment,” Faith explains, “Emily Gruhl is a force to be reckoned with.”

 

Leading Australian Actor Joel Hogan: Leading On All Platforms

Award-winning Australian actor Joel Hogan is used to getting attention; he’s played leading roles in huge films that have screened right across the world.

Sitting down with him though, it’s clear that he hasn’t let the attention get to his head. When we meet, Joel is as down-to-earth as his parents described him when he was in school – a true Aussie larrikin who simply was grateful for what he had.

“I like to think my mum and dad raised me right – they’ve always said, no matter how famous or successful I became, that I should remain humble, with a firm grounding within my family and friends with whom I grew up with.”

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Amongst the many topics we touch on when talking with Joel is his lead role in Lionsgate’s “Open Water 3: Cage Dive”

Joel is certainly known for being famous and successful these days, and an indie favourite who’s been working with the same roster of impressive production companies in the same way that Oscar-winner Brie Larson and, A-lister Ryan Gosling, have created partnerships with a select list of directors and filmmakers.

“The benefit of working with the same production company multiple times is that we all trust each other – so I feel very grateful that I’ve been given these opportunities.”

One of the production companies with whom Joel has played an immeasurably significant role is Forte Pictures, an American outfit well-known in the incredibly competitive film industry for producing the award-winning “Actor for Hire”, a 2015 comedy-romance distributed by Gravitas Pictures in which Joel played a leading role. The Australian hunk, who’s been compared to James Dean by several top-industry insiders, enjoyed being profiled in The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood. “It’s nice to know that the film, production company and my role got attention, but what’s most important to me is whether I’ve played the character authentically.”

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The undisputed nature of Joel’s significance to Forte Pictures and the fact he has played a essential role in the success of the company is further confirmed in how he stars as Patrick, the central figure, in the upcoming crime-thriller “Chameleon”. “That film is very different from “Actor for Hire”, but it still feels like a distinctively Forte film because Marcus is involved and the desire to create the most entertaining project was the core value while we were shooting.” The film also notably stars Alicia Leigh Willis, widely known for her roles in the “National Treasure” franchise opposite Oscar-winner Nicholas Cage, and the long-running hit show, “General Hospital”.

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Aussie A-lister Joel Hogan in a still from the upcoming feature film, Chameleon, from Forte Pictures. Joel also starred in Forte Pictures’ Actor for Hire. 

“Well-known American actors love working with Joel,” Marcus Mizelle, the director says. “He’s played an irreplaceable role in my production company because he brings life to my films – from an acting and creative point of view. There’s no doubt the films attract acclaim and have been successful because he’s in them. Prospective distributors for “Chameleon” have said so, as did reviews and industry professionals said about his work in “Actor for Hire.

In true fashion reminiscent of how Leonardo Dicaprio repeatedly collaborates with Martin Scorcese, and Jennifer Lawrence has with David O. Russell, Joel not only enjoys a collaborative partnership with Marcus but also Gerald Rascionato, Australian auteur filmmaker best known for helming the Lionsgate feature film, “Open Water 3: Cage Dive”. Gerald’s production company, Just One More Productions, is inextricably tied with Joel’s talents as an actor because he is the leading man behind its most impressive productions.

“Gerald is an auteur,” Joel explains, “because he’s focused on the specific moments, second-by-second, with how it looks and how it could make an audience feel, as much as he is by the way a mainstream audience will view it.”

“Open Water 3”, distributed in cinemas around the world by studio powerhouse Lionsgate, was the first of what Gerald says will be many collaborations with Joel Hogan under his production banner. “I already have Joel signed onto my next feature, and we’re full-steam ahead for production in mid-2018. That film revolves around the life of famous aviator and film producer Merian C. Cooper who was the creator and producer of classic films such as King Kong, Mighty Joe Young & The Searchers, starring John Wayne. Joel will fittingly play the lead role of Merian himself.”

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Joel (left) on the cover for the recently released DVD of “Open Water 3: Cage Dive”, which enjoyed box office success at the cinema last year. 

Gerald also claims to like that Joel brings the backing of the Australian film industry, the multi-talented performer – who has also performed in theatre productions like “High School Musical” and on TV shows like “Home and Away” and “Unverified” many times over – is a member of the highly reputable AACTA and MEAA organisations in Australia. “Like production companies, having relationships with organisations like AACTA and MEAA are very important because they ensure I maintain my standing within the industry and keep connected to new material, while also giving me an opportunity to be aware of how I can give back to an industry which has given me so much.”

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Joel enjoying a laugh on the red carpet last year – keeping it positive as part of his ultimate plan to give back to an industry that has “given [him] so much.”