All posts by lgreenbaulm

Shlok Shukla: Producing Films with Substance

Producer Shlok Shukla on set of “Flesh Fresh”

“Content is king.” You’ve probably heard this phrase; better yet, you experience its meaning every day. In a world of scrolling newsfeeds, unoriginal remakes, and generic concepts being pumped out for a mass audience, every day it seems a bit harder to come across meaningful ideas in film. When corporate shareholders and investors are only concerned with superficial metrics and viewership numbers, bold and original scripts are often overlooked.

For producer Shlok Shukla, however, there’s much more to a film than its profit-generating potential. Shukla, a graduate of the New York Film Academy’s screenwriting program, isn’t just a producer; in fact, two of his feature-length screenplays have won multiple awards, including “Best Script” and “Best Dialogue,” at film festivals worldwide such as the Cult Valley Global Cinefest, American Filmatic Arts Awards, and Rome Prisma Film Awards.

So when Shukla is on the lookout for a new project to take on, he’s interested far more in the emotional and intellectual content of the scripts that come across his desk. “Personally,” Shukla began, “Any script with a message of change or growth, regardless of genre, is one that I’ll likely be interested in.” He continued, “Of course, I have to consider the project’s commercial viability as well as its message—but a promising script will strike a balance between the two.”

Shukla’s track record speaks for itself. One of his recent films, a music video titled “Young Soul,” was an incredibly special project that was created, in secret, as a gift for Ale Solar, lead singer of the Chilean rock band Temple Agents. “Young Soul” is a celebration of the life of Solar’s recently deceased father, lovingly crafted by Shukla and Solar’s closest friends.

This project initially came to Shlok’s attention via his partner at I’m Not Famous Films, Julian Santiesteban, who had worked with Temple Agents in the past. This existing chemistry made the process much easier, and much more meaningful for Shukla, who was very excited to work with Temple Agents on this film. “Having lost people close to us, especially in the pandemic, Julian and I felt attached to this from the get go,” Shukla said. “The ‘Young Soul’ video just felt like such a personal gift, and we were honored to produce it alongside Ale’s bandmates.”

(Left to Right) Producer Shlok Shukla, and production assistant Natasha Lewis on set of “Young Soul.” Photo by Elizabeth Collins

Shlok handled everything from writing an initial script for the project to budgeting and scouting locations for the shoot; even post-production duties and the eventual release and distribution of the music video on the band’s YouTube channel.

Santiesteban had nothing but praise for Shlok’s efforts after production had wrapped: “Shlok is a very professional person, with outstanding soft skills, which helps production teams to feel easy and comfortable while at work. This empathetic approach to work, plus his creative skills, make Shlok a valuable asset on set and during other stages of production.”

More recently, Shlok has been involved in the production of a feature-length film, titled “Love is a Game,” that delves into the nuances of a queer relationship on the rocks. The story follows Ellie and Mia as they return from a dinner that didn’t go quite as planned.

Based on his previous work, Shukla was approached by the film’s director, Lu Mendoza, to produce “Love is a Game.” After reading the script, Shukla was moved by the relationship between the characters, and was eager to get involved. “This film presents a very honest, ordinary, and relatable portrayal of an LGBTQ+ couple at their most vulnerable state,” Shukla remarked. “Ellie’s and Mia’s relationship is full of love and intimacy, while at the same time, in its final moments, it is also rife with despair and heartbreak—a scenario that we can all relate to.”

Mendoza has been thrilled to have Shukla on board for her film’s production. “Shlok is a great listener and problem solver,” Lu Mendoza said of Shukla. “He goes the extra mile, regardless of how small or big the project is, and he takes care of the project as if it was his own.”

At the time of writing, Shukla and the crew have wrapped pre-production, and filming will begin shortly. “Love is a Game” is slated for release in late June, 2022.

With an eye for moving stories with impactful messages, Shlok Shukla is committed to bringing fresh, meaningful films to life. His is a welcome mission in today’s entertainment market. Combining his business acumen as a producer and his passion for storytelling, Shukla is poised to leave an incredible legacy in Hollywood. He is also the producer behind the films “ALonely,” “Let’s Ride” and “Flesh Fresh.”

(Left to Right) Producer Shlok Shukla, cinematographer Joshua Fraser and actors Benjamin Williams and Kevin Amaya on set of “ALonely.” Photo by Gino Villanueva

Fitness Experts Tap-In Director and Producer Tom Edwards to Punch Up Content

Director and Producer Tom Edwards – Image by Varuj Chapanian

Creating compelling video content and staying relevant in the field of online education is no small task—actually, in such a competitive arena, such as online fitness, it’s a herculean feat. With so many content creators vying for viewers’ attention, it takes a special touch to stand out. That’s why the best of the best call upon the world-class production and directorial skills of Tom Edwards to help them rise above the crowd. 

So what makes Tom Edwards so unique? Perhaps it’s his diverse and complete understanding of the filmmaking process. Through his personal experiences as an actor, photographer, producer and director, Tom has learned first-hand how these disciplines function individually, and as a cohesive unit.

Tom’s natural talent also plays a huge role in his success. In fact, at the start of his career he solely wrote, shot, directed and edited his first narrative film, “Ninety One: A Tainted Page,” which won multiple awards at the Shanghai Student Film Festival in 2013, including the Best Overall Film Award.

But, according to Tom, the most important element of cinema, and his approach to creating it, is great storytelling. “Story comes before anything else,” he remarked. “If you have a good story and a message, the film can go far, regardless of its production value.” 

Since his early productions as a student, Tom has leveraged his talent, experience and story-driven approach to work his way up within the Los Angeles industry, directing and crafting branded content and music videos for the likes of Lamborghini, MenWithClass, Enrique Iglesias and Becky G. 

Tom’s plethora of experience culminated in 2019, when he branched out on his own to found Secret Film Service, a full-service production company focused on capturing compelling behind the scenes video content for film and television, as well as music and commercial productions.

“I’ve always encouraged productions to hire a team to shoot behind the scenes and help document the creative process,” Tom says. “After working on hundreds of sets, I’ve noticed a lot of teams haven’t yet tapped into this market, and I feel like they’re missing out big time.” 

As it turns out, Tom’s hunch was right. Secret Film Service has been a runaway success, filling the behind-the-scenes niche and working with high-profile clients such as Cardi B, Lamborghini, Shell, SLS Beverly Hills and Space X. 

With such an impressive resume, it’s no surprise that Olympic medalist and professional boxer Tony Jeffries hired Tom to bulk up the video content offerings for his fitness company, Box ‘N Burn. 

Recognized by Men’s Fitness as “The #1 Gym in California,” Box ‘N Burn is a global boxing academy that offers hardcore training in the gym, as well as online. Tony Jeffries, along with Box ‘N Burn co-founder Kevan Watson, brought Tom on board to produce multiple types of video content, from digital commercials and YouTube content to Online Video Programs. Tom has since produced over 100 videos for Tony Jeffries’ YouTube channel, which grew from 10K to 550K followers in under a year—making it one of the fastest growing accounts on YouTube. Tom also worked with other elite Box ‘N Burn trainers, such as Glenn Holmes and Stephen Cain, to create top-notch training videos and marketing materials.

“Tom has become an integral person on our team for his unprecedented talent for producing and creative skills,” Tony Jeffries remarked. “He has been a major factor to the online success of the Box ‘N Burn gym.”

Tom’s success with Box ‘N Burn led to more opportunities in the fitness world for Secret Film Service,  such as a partnership with Simon Ata, a fitness and calisthenics mogul with more than 600K followers who brought Tom in to create content for his online program focused on teaching students how to master handstand pushups. 

“Tom was a pleasure to work with, easy-going and very efficient,” Simon Ata remarked. “The final product far exceeded my expectations.” 

Tom didn’t just stop at fitness; he has also worked with prominent figures in the dance world, such as Richy Jackson, a creative director and choreographer to stars such as Lady Gaga, JoJo Siwa, Todrick, Zack Zilla and Trevi Moran. Richy hired Tom to shoot a two day Dance Master Class with over 40 students in attendance. Of course, Tom also captured tons of exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Richy and his students. 

Other dancers Tom has worked with include Jordyn Leann, and Samantha Caudle, who have danced with artists such as Chance the Rapper, En Vogue, Jason Derulo and Sage the Gemini. 

Tom Edwards has made a career of capturing the best of his clients and telling their stories in an authentic, compelling way. His mastery of the craft of cinema is without question; otherwise, the biggest influencers, brands, and celebrities in Hollywood would look elsewhere for a director and producer. So what’s next for Tom and Secret Film Service? That part of the story remains to be written, but if Tom is behind a project, it’s sure to be worth watching.

Communication is Key for Cinematographer Omar Ragab

The art of the motion picture has captivated audiences since its inception, but that final piece of magic, be it on the big screen or a smartphone, is a labor of love brought to life by many minds working as one. It’s an idiosyncratic machine that has to be speaking the same language, or the message will never be heard. Lucky for us, cinematographers like Omar Ragab are masters of communication behind the scenes.

Raised in the whirlwind of Cairo, Egypt, Ragab was in constant conversation with the city around him. At the crossroads of ancient and modern civilization, where deep-rooted family ties refuse to be swept up amidst big-city hustle and bustle, Ragab remained ever-connected to his community and environment. But it was the glimpses of nature that penetrated the chaos of Cairo that truly spoke to this cinematographer’s soul.

Omar Ragab shot by Devin Landgren

“I’ve always been infatuated with light, and how its presence, or absence, affects our perception,” recalls Ragab. “Once I realized that being a cinematographer gave a person the responsibility to tell stories through a visual language, I was hooked!”

Already fluent in Arabic and English, Ragab began his passionate study of photography, the language of light.

Immersion is the fastest way to fluency, and no job was too big or small for Ragab as he dove into Los Angeles’s film culture. His early work as a production assistant brought with it an appreciation for the importance of all positions on set. Even seemingly low-ranking posts carry the weight of the film production on its shoulders, and Ragab quickly understood that every crew member’s contribution was paramount to the project’s success. 

This understanding combined with his tireless work ethic, technical ability and family-oriented nature has brought Ragab success in every area behind the camera, from 1st assistant camera positions to stints as an assistant director. Experience not only as a crew member but as a leader in each department has equipped Ragab with a unique skill set that sets him apart from most cinematographers.

Ragab’s warm and confident demeanor, in combination with his enthusiasm and proficiency behind the camera, allows him to lead a production from a place of lived experience. His rise through the ranks has imbued him with a sense of duty to pass his wealth of knowledge on to aspiring cameramen and women on set.

Working in close collaboration with the director to uphold the visual integrity of the film, these qualities are crucial for a cinematographer to embody and exemplify. Also known as director of photography, the DP is responsible for overseeing all aspects of a film’s photography, and must have a comprehensive command of three different departments: camera, lighting and grip. To harmonize the efforts of each team and accurately capture the film’s intention, communication is key not only through the camera, but amongst the crew as well. 

Rebecca Hertz, showrunner and director for Netflix’s “Cooking With Paris,” was quick to praise Ragab’s constructive influence on set. “Omar’s positivity beams through his work and into others, creating a loving, friendly, and therefore, efficient work environment,” said Hertz. “He is highly intelligent when it comes to camera and production knowledge and is patient with others, teaching and directing them methodically.

When UberEats secured a coveted Super Bowl commercial spot, Ragab was called on to bring his creative expertise to the set. Featuring Mike Meyers’ and Dana Carvey’s beloved “Wayne’s World” characters, Ragab was tasked with invoking the broadcasting nostalgia of the 1980s. To achieve the desired effect, Ragab dug deep into his toolkit, using vintage lenses and 3 different cameras to capture the performance of each actor and provide a canvas for the special effects work in post production.

With Ragab’s magic touch, UberEats’ “Wayne’s World” commercial was a standout favorite amongst the heralded Super Bowl line-up. Ragab’s efforts left a strong impression on the commercial’s production manager Giovanna Giangregorio, particularly his commitment to the project’s creative vision.

“Omar is outstanding at his craft and an invaluable asset to any project,” said Giangregorio. “He worked without rest to make sure all of our creative needs were met and transformed into a visual far beyond what we imagined.” 

At the end of the day, a film crew is like one big family—some members are close to the heart, some are distant relatives, but no matter the person or position, communication is essential. Fluent in the language of light and leadership, Omar Ragab connects with every level of his team so they can let the camera do the talking.

Mary McBain, from on-screen talent to a voice for society

Mary McBain, British actor (as well as comedian, screenwriter and producer) takes her profession above and beyond thanks to the social emphasis with which she directs her career, acting as a voice of feminism in the world of entertainment.

Mary McBain, delivering a speech at BAFTA, championing a cause which has informed her screen work.

The distinguished McBain breaks the mold of mere acting, thanks to her professional background. Undoubtedly, her extensive knowledge of the industry has allowed her to exploit her versatility and talent to other areas with a collective conscience. 

In acclaimed project Spaghetti: Silence Is Not Consent, McBain led her co-stars to a series of impactful screenings. 

Spaghetti attracted some impressive notices and sold-out screenings.

Spaghetti raises awareness about consent in sexual relationships, which denotes the very essence of the comedian, who constantly pays homage to a form of conscious entertainment that very few artists manage to exploit. The project has obvious resonance in a post #MeToo era, allowing McBain to connect with viewers on a deeper and more personal level. 

“I spent a lot of time then talking to men and women who have been on both sides of the consent conversation and felt as though there was a huge need for education on the subject – for both parties,” says McBain. Her concern to raise awareness about consent then led her to participate in one of the projects that would become an unimaginable critical success.

Due to its warm reception from globally esteemed film critics, the production was selected for screening at the British Academy Film Awards, which has been long-recognized as a world leading independent arts charity. The BAFTA awards, has over 8,000 members worldwide who are creatives and professionals working in and making a contribution to the film, television and games industries.

A project as deep as Spaghetti reaches the pinnacle McBain was looking for, reaching out to prominent schools in London to promote sex education to children, and positively impacting society more broadly. 

McBain, again, stands out as a prominent writer and actress, but also as a spokesperson for social causes that place her in an exclusive group in her field. Besides the above, her involvement with young audiences includes other well-reputed productions, such as Penny Sweets.

Penny Sweets, also known as Penny Candy, confirms McBain’s extraordinary performance as an industry professional and an incredible actor. She consolidates an artistic success with such a high level of acclaim that it sells out all the tickets for its performances. Therefore, the play is now available on Amazon and continues to gain favor with viewers all over the world. 

The production strengthened a close working relationship with a group of young people who shared their experiences so that McBain could give them a voice in this acclaimed project. 

“Over a period of three months I organized workshops with the teenagers in the acting company. The response was incredible and very moving. The participation was much greater than we expected and everyone showed immense vulnerability,” says McBain, with a humility often reserved for only the best actors. 

It’s no surprise, then, that the success of Penny Candy has come to generate tour offers for McBain. 

Thus, the expectation for the new projects McBain will be working on increases due to the high standards she has set. Leaving us with a perspective of the industry that runs through a more humanistic vision, it suggests that young people from all around the world will be able to build more critical perspectives due to the strong job of elite screen artists like McBain.

McBain, shot by Wes Klein, possesses an infectious positivity and work ethic.

Dan Hamill: Interview with one of Australia’s favorites

As renewed COVID-19 restrictions have taken over Sydney amidst the delta variant, viewers have once again returned to their screens to find a welcome respite from the stress of it all. Viewing habits have of course turned towards revisiting the comfort of Australian favorites, which lead our editors to speak with one of Australia’s brightest stars, Dan Hamill.

Australian star and acclaimed actor, Dan Hamill.

Multi-talented entertainer and actor Daniel Hamill brought his versatile skill-set and experience to the renowned Australian drama television series, Love Child. That performance, along with his appearances as a finalist on Popstars and X-Factor, was one of many which solidified Dan’s place in the Australian screen and television industry, so our writers thought it was befitting – as the series experiences renewed popularity via streaming – to revisit Dan’s work and the continued evolution of his career. 

The acclaimed Australian star, who also worked as a series regular across 26 episodes of SheZow and is due to work on an exciting slew of projects in the US in the coming years, is humble and down to earth in person. It’s befitting therefore that he played his role on Love Child with a salt-of-the-earth sensibility that was simultaneously elevated by a distinctly 70s debonair quality.

Dan Hamill as Dr Andrew Patterson in Love Child.

Love Child follows the lives and staff of the Kings Cross Hospital and Stanton House in Sydney, based on the real-life forced adoption program in Australia.  The series beautifully captures the coercion and stigma of unmarried women in Australia and the plight of their children.  One of Australia’s most popular dramas, the show was loved for its “70’s style” and its gripping emotion, which Dan was able to realize with his flair and emotional depth. His contributions solidified the show’s continued high-ratings as he became a fan favorite, helping Australia’s Nine Network strengthen its position as Australia’s top network. 

“Being part of a hit show like Love Child was such an honour,” Hamill explains. “It was one of those dream roles that fit like a glove and felt like a real extension of self. The reason it was so popular was because it was about WOMEN-  95% of the cast! and that was a really important story to be a part of and told.”

Hamill continues.

“I loved playing Dr Andrew Patterson as he was such a forward thinking guy for the time, he broke the rules, and was in FULL support of empowerming women and rewriting/opposing the patriarchal and archaic mindset of men in that time. Looking back to when I was a kid, playing a leading man ‘heartthrob’ was such a far off dream. I had to pinch myself a few times saying to myself ‘hey buddy, how fun is this!”

Love Child notably received numerous prestigious accolades in the entertainment industry.  At the 2015 Logie Awards, an awards event which celebrates Australian television, the show was nominated for the Most Popular Drama Program Award, and in 2016, the show was nominated for both  the Best Drama Program and Most Outstanding Drama Series.  Love Child also received a nomination for the Best Drama Series Award at the Golden Nymph Awards, which are the prizes awarded to the winners of the Official Competition of the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, meaning Dan’s work has been enjoyed at the international scale and contributed to awards acclaim.

Hamill elaborates on the experience of what it meant for the show to be recognised internationally. 

“For Love Child to be nominated internationally was such a phenomenal nod to the show. We were all in disbelief initially when we heard about this. It’s a really heavy show- we talk about abortion, abandonment, women’s rights and injustice. It just goes to show that this is what the world needs right now.”

Love Child also featured Jessica Marais, Jonathan LaPaglia, and Matthew Le Nevez and was directed by Geoff Bennet, who won the AACTA Award for Best Direction in a Television Drama or Comedy. Hamill’s performance as the charismatic Dr. Andrew Patterson, a continuing fan favorite who impedes Dr. Joan Miller’s (Jessica Marais) efforts to continue her career after the birth of her child, represents the societal resistance towards unmarried women who had children in Australia during the twentieth century.  

Hamill joined the team in the show’s fourth season, but made an immediate impact as in the lead male role, claiming that although the loss of Jonathan La Paglia’s talent and role on the cast  left big shoes to fill , “the cast was so lovely and welcomed me with open arms, so it was good to be there.”

In one particular scene in the season’s fourth episode, Hamill’s character diagnoses Joan’s baby, Laura, with pneumonia, and does everything within his ability to assist the child but must simultaneously accept the reality that the child could die. Dan gives a showstopping performance by capturing the anxiety and panic of the moment, with fans and critics noting that the episode “drew out the best performances” from Dan. Hamill’s participation on the show made an immediate, demonstrable impact as IMDB indicates that ratings for each episode in the fourth season consistently exceeded 9/10, as opposed to the previous season’s episodes which largely received 8/10 ratings.

Hamill’s character also plays an essential role in the season finale, when he discovers the evidence that proves Joan’s baby was swapped with another mother’s, another cold reminder of the violations of familial bonds that occurred in Australia at the time.  

As Hamill explains, “the finale of the show was heavy. I mean in terms of dramatic tension, you can’t really beat a baby swap storyline right? Jess Marais and I had really built a beautiful emotional rapport and trust with each other and had learnt to really support each other in the heavy scenes.”

Acting, particularly in drama, requires a performer to deeply personalise and go deep into memories or imagined circumstances that trick your imagination and nervous system to believe these things are really happening in order to convey truth and emotionally affect audiences. 

Hamill elaborates on the dynamic with his scene partner. 

“Jess and I as buddies in this, sharing so many scenes together, created a really special space where we would drop into the depth of our emotional world to pay the script justice – you can’t fake that stuff. At the end of a scene or between takes that required deep grief or rage or even intimacy- we would give each other a little look that said ‘I got you mate’.” 

Hamill explains further. “That special bond you have with another actor that really goes there, as much as you do is so damn special and makes the whole process super, safe, beautiful and in an odd way healing.”

Dan Hamill and award-winning Australian star Jessica Marais were trusted scene partners.

Hamill also played an important role in the popular Australian television series Jack Irish alongside Guy Pearce. Here, Hamill appears as Wayne Dilthey, a member of the Way of the Cross Church who uncovers the nefarious actions of the church. His eventual murder later becomes the focal point of the show as Jack Irish (Guy Pearce) ends up getting framed for the crime. The show was one of the six most watched programs in all of Australia upon its release, recording nearly 1 million viewers, and Hamill’s popularity amongst television audiences undoubtedly contributed to this significant figure given the importance of his character. Critics praised the show and fans continue to stream it worldwide, and in the US, via Acorn TV. 

Hamill also appears in an important role in the acclaimed series Jack Irish, starring Iron Man star, Guy Pearce.

Hamill versatile skills as an entertainer in film and TV was also confirmed with his performance as a voice actor in the animated series SheZow. He performed in 26 episodes, showing his indispensability to the show as a talent. When watching the series, it’s clear that Hamill is an accomplished performer who can convey emotional depth and entertainment with just his voice, in addition to his skilled performances on television as a singer and actor.

Award-winning Australian icon Noni Hazelhursts says the following of Hamill:

“One of [Dan’s] great strengths as an actor is his “look” – he has the same ability that Heath Ledger did to play anything from a romantic lead to a hitman to a tramp. His looks are hard to define – he could be James Bond, he could be a filthy junkie – his casting potential is enormously wide.”

Award-winning Australian icon Noni Hazelhurst is one of Hamill’s biggest fans in the industry.

She elaborates further with reference to his transformational character abilities. 

“I can honestly say…[Dan] is one of the hungriest performers I know – constantly striving to stretch his knowledge, to challenge himself and to take risks in his choices. It’s starting to pay off, but his major contribution is yet to come. He could tackle any role. He is so talented and interesting.”

With the enduring popularity of some of his most popular roles, the ubiquity of streaming, and some exciting projects on the horizon, it’s safe to say Dan will continue to shine on screens all over the world.

Terrasse: new challenges for a successful brand

The Ukrainian brand Terrasse continues its successful path under the leadership of Kostiantyn Vlasenko

Opening a new store in the Retroville shopping center in Kiev, restructuring the brand to meet online sales, a necessity during the pandemic, and expanding the brand’s target audience are just a small list of achievements made by the brand Terrasse since Kostiantyn Vlasenko stepped in as a leader and production manager.

The Terrasse brand was created by an American designer of Ukrainian origin Viktoriia Vlasenko, whose career encompasses both fashion design and costume design for cinema. Several years ago, she transferred the management of the brand into the hands of her brother Kostiantyn, who continues to manage a large production in Kiev while also being integral to helping Victoria implement her new ideas.

The poster of the online store Terrasse
Designer Viktoriia Vlasenko

 “Kostiantyn is literally my right hand, it’s hard for me to imagine how I would have realized all of my plans without his help,” says Viktoriia about her brother. “He has so much energy, he has so much experience, and he’s always finding new opportunities for us to grow, I rely on him for absolutely everything.”

While Viktoriia works from the United States and Kostiantyn from the Ukraine, the distance does not stop the creative collaboration this powerful brother and sister team have created. Over the past few years they have developed and implemented many new collections under the Terrasse brand, whose products are currently sold in seven of their own stores, as well as a number of additional outlets throughout Ukraine.

Terrasse brand store in Kiev, Ukraine

Kostiantyn previously lived in America where he graduated from the New York Film Academy, as well as starred in more than a hundred films, however he later returned to the Ukraine for familial reasons.

 “Despite the fact that my soul remains devoted to the cinema, the production of clothes captures me no less… In addition, Viktoriia is full of ideas, and all of us in Terrasse, even during a pandemic, had no time to get bored,” comments Kostiantyn Vlasenko.  

“We are intensively expanding the range of the brand’s clothing, and now it will focus not only on a youth audience, but also on successful and stylish older women, which means a change in concept and a completely different approach to production. All of  these tasks are complex and interesting at the same time, especially in an environment where the coronavirus pandemic has caused difficulties in business.  However, we have managed to cope with everything, we continue to go forward and this spring we opened another store in Kiev in the Retroville shopping center.”

Brand Production Manager Terrasse Kostiantyn Vlasenko

The family collaboration of Viktoriia and Kostiantyn is famous for more than just the unique clothing innovations that they’ve made with the Terrasse brand, but also for their unusual social and artistic fashion projects. Viktoriia Vlasenko’s largest social project, which received a wide response and drew the attention of the Milanese society to the war in Ukraine, was called “I can’t keep calm: Stop War in Ukraine,” with all of the fashion design created by her.

Book published as part of the No War project

Within the framework of this project, a collection of women’s clothing was created, as well as a collection of dolls, which were exact copies of the models at the shows. The project also included the release of a book of the same name, which sold 100,000 copies and the creation of the film “No War.” Kostiantyn Vlasenko also took part in the implementation of this large-scale project.

Movie poster for “No War”

In addition, Kostiantyn and Viktoriia collaborated on the production of costumes for several films. Working together behind the scenes, Viktoriia handles the creative part of this process, including the creation of images, patterns and prototypes for the costumes, while the complex production process, logistics and overall management is headed by Kostiantyn. They’ve spent the last few years carrying out their cinematic creative work simultaneously with their work on the Terrasse brand, but this has by no means meant their fashion brand has become less successful.

Over the past few years, the Vlasenko siblings have received 17 awards from various film festivals for their costumes, and this seems to be the very beginning of a long and prosperous creative journey.

According to Viktoriia Vlasenko, in the near future she and her brother are planning to carry out another large-scale art project, the name of which has yet to be disclosed, but is intended to be released in both the Ukraine and the United States.

AN ACTOR’S PROFILE: Hannie MAY ON ACTING WITH PURPOSE AND DEPTH

While Hannie May’s acting skills were put to the test in the film Breakdown, it’s clear that the passionate actress passed with flying colors. The recent project is but one of many hallmarks in a career that has been characterised by overcoming challenges, to eventually rise to the top. Indeed, May has cited how the industry is shaped by contradictions. On the one hand, the stereotypical casting in some instances provides challenges for actors with multi-cultural backgrounds to explore their possibilities to the fullest. On the other hand, it’s opening the world up to an onslaught of more diverse casts on high-profile projects – from Crazy Rich Asians to Marvel’s upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It’s clear that the diversity of casting choices has stepped up to the next level, and May – as one of the industry’s breakouts – has most certainly stepped up too.

An actor with purpose: Hannie May shot at Vantablack Studio.

While much has been written however around increasing diversity of representation in film, the subject of this piece became clear when reviewing May’s work. The depth of talents rendered all socio-political commentary irrelevant, as the true significance of May as an actress comes to the forefront when watching any of her films. She simply makes it about the work, and makes it as deep and meaningful as possible.

In the case of Breakdown, it was up to May to not only lead a film, but also empathise with the character’s circumstances to the degree that any viewer would feel like the significance of mental health was given meaning and respect.

Ultimately, Breakdown is a display of a personal battle between self versus self, a real-life struggle that continues to go on today. In one particularly memorable moment, Hannie has to face a mirror and gradually let her inner self out while watching at her own reflection. The scene involves no dialogue, and is entirely fulled by the actress’ emotional expression.

Hannie May, playing the role of ‘Diana’ in the Cristal Alakoski film, Breakdown. 

The continuation of the story sees May’s character suffering from mental health issues, which triggers her to resent her own values and build up a significant fear from society. The internal crisis becomes an external one, providing a rich opportunity for May to showcase her significant emotional range as an actress. 

In the words of one industry professional, May is a tour de force in the film and a reason for why and how it resonates with any viewer.

All the more impressive is how Breakdown was created and directed by Finnish filmmaker Cristal Alakoski, herself known for a prolific career in Europe marked by memorable projects like music videos and commercials with Finnish band Aija Puurtinen & Brooklynin satu for their popular song Maantie (Highway), and another music video for John Westmoreland with his acclaimed hit, The Sparrow. 

Being the lead in a movie is one thing, but being cast as the only role of a film is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Even more impressive was the development of Breakdown and its unconventional filming process. While the role of Diana and her circumstances came with a lot of challenges, aside from being vulnerable to the audience, the project also did not have a set shooting script. 

May expected the role of ‘Diana’ to come with different challenges, but this knowledge didn’t make it any easier.

“It was one of the film projects I’ve worked on that requires the majority of acting from improvisation. So the process of filming this project with Alakoski was also a journey of experimenting with the idea of the film together,” said May. 

While the storylines Breakdown and May’s other recent project, Interrupted Girls couldn’t be more different, the emotional weight of each reflects the level of responsibility filmmakers place on May in casting her in such meaningful stories. 

Indeed Interrupted Girls, the release of which preceded Breakdown, was one such impressive project which garnered May significant attention. 

Directed by Christopher Cass, Interrupted Girls, focuses on two sisters who come from a broken home. May plays Elena, who is forced to side with her mum and go against her sister’s wishes. 

May mid-scene in Interrupted Girls, taken at a recent private exclusive screening of the film.

Award-winning director Cass is best known for his work on Trey Pops (2020), Scrubbers (2014), and The Bus Stop (2017). 

Christopher brought extensive experience from his career when directing May, and also boasted associations and screen experience with NBC. It was this epxienece that undoubtedly made May feel comfortable in front of the camera, expressing vulnerabilities about topics which – although incredibly specific, are also especially universal. 

Hannie’s exquisite performance in Interrupted Girls is best effectively distilled at the moment where her character chooses pride when it was “happiness” that she wanted. When it came to “Elena” and her self growth during the film, the remarkable emotional access of Hannie’s talents made especially clear in memorable moments where she was vulnerable and driven by her emotions in a significant way.

Divorce is a hard topic to discuss, many families everywhere have been torn because of failed marriages, and struggling relationships. 

May’s polished skills brought life to the character of Elena, further shedding light on the value of sisterhood  With a statement as powerful as the one that Cass’ shared, it required a lot of strength to push through discomfort, two things that Hannie May provided with excellence and perfection. 

In a scene where the two sisters fight, May shows the extreme of her character’s personality and emotions within the confines of no movement or dialogue. Her performance not only shows a strong internal life, but also reveals the contrast between the two sisters’ personalities and shows authentic real-life emotions which deeply connects with any viewer.

Ultimately, it’s these dual experiences on film that signify the mark May is leaving on her field as an actor, a storyteller, and more generally, a professional empathizer. 

“What’s the most interesting to me in acting is finding the complexity in every single character,” she beams with a smile.

“The story behind what’s on the page, what I enjoy digging into, is always more than what I have to show in front of the camera.”

Playing the Long-Game with Grant Lyndon

When we were asked to choose one of our 2020 interview guests for a ‘New Year’ check in, we didn’t hesitate in selecting Grant Lyndon. 

Catching up after the start of the new year with award-winning Australian actor, Grant Lyndon. Our readers loved our profile of Grant in last year’s edition. Photographed by Leeroy Tehira.

When the renowned New York International Film Festival announced its most recent winners in December 2020, Grant Lyndon was “humbled but proud” to be among the list and acknowledged as Best Actor for his work in the acclaimed film, Ruby. 

For anyone else in the industry however, it’s no surprise, as Lyndon has been turning in acclaimed performances for years. While under the radar for the early stages of his career, during which he appeared in ABC’s Rogue Nation alongside Gold-Logie winner John Wood, Lyndon continues to attract national and (clearly) international attention for his work and media appearances, recently generating rave reviews in Frontline Views and Entertainment LA.

The New York Film Awards were held in a COVID-safe public screening event at Producer’s Club, in the heart of Manhattan, the urban core of the New York metropolitan area. 

The award is an important moment for Lyndon, who has had an arduous career as an actor in film and television, as well as in the theater and voice-over spaces in Australia. The New York International Film Awards have also offered his colleagues a way to record his hard work in the industry, but also to thank him for his contribution as one of Australia’s most reliable talents. 

In this way, Grant himself has referred to his career as “a long haul.” 

Grant Lyndon has not only stood out as an exceptional actor in any area in which he’s worked, but has also offered expertise and encouragement to motivate emerging actors through teaching, and to build empathetic connections with his characters to convey to each audience a real and profound experience that is far from mere imitation. He understands this field well and from his self-knowledge and his professional career he knows how to distinguish clearly from a neat and well-developed job from any other. 

Hence, his extraordinary skills have been recognized in productions such as Home and Away, Old School and A Place to Call Home, where in each of them he has been able to show us completely different characters, but equally impressive.

In Home and Away, Grant played Professor Calabra. There, audiences identified him with a resistance that denotes tints and shades as intense as delicate from each other. His performance gave the audience a serious, quite formal character, something abrupt that transmitted emotions against him. Such a clean performance that could make anyone disconcerted and angry just to see how well he played a disdainful and badly humored role. Afterwards, as if nothing has happened, Lyndon changes his position and shows himself to be kind, attentive and respectful. 

Without effort or tension, Grant part of Home and Away’s huge bump in ratings, making a memorable impression through the turn in the story that his character produced, unleashing new dramas and new challenges. Ultimately, Grant allowed a depth of authority with reason to underpin the storyline involving Marie Claire covergirl, Pia Miller’s character, to work through her challenges. 

Grant Lyndon playing Professor Calabra in the much-loved and written about, ‘Home and Away.’

For juxtaposition, a viewer can find Lyndon’s portrayal in the acclaimed series ‘Old School’, which attracted some of Australia’s highest-live-to-air ratings with more than 664,000 viewers tuning in to Grant’s performance. An eight-part series screened on ABC1, created by Paul Oliver and Steve Wright, and directed by Gregor Jordan, that follows the adventures of the retired criminal Lennie Cahill and the retired cop Ted McCabe, played by legendary actors Bryan Brown and Sam Neil (Jurassic Park). 

Grant opposite screen legend Bryan Brown in ‘Old School.’

Marcel was crucial to the plot in Old  School, as he underpinned and greatly affected the dynamic of the long running lost love battle between Barb (Linda Cropper) and Lennie (Bryan Brown). He was the new love of Barb that set Lennie off into a jealousy spiral. The tone set by Grant on set was clearly irreplaceable, when watching the footage. He held the line between Barb & Lennie with good weight. This gave a great and realistic feel to the underworld aspect of the show. 

Last but not least, we should also mention his appearance in A Place to Call Home as Jay Kenneth Katzan III in the Do Not Go Gently episode. Ironically, his role seemed to be kind like no one else, arousing the anger and envy of others. There, Grant showed a side of himself in which his body expression said more than a thousand words. At first, without a script, he had the duty to make known an imposing, elegant and charismatic position of an epochal character. Only through his gestures, his movements and his smile he conquered the heart of the audience. Later, as if this had not been enough, he intervened with a dialogue as friendly as he had shown himself. 

Showcase’s ‘A Place to Call Home’ is still beloved by audiences around the world.

The abovementioned roles are a distinct distillation and manifestation of Lyndon’s wide-ranging career path. From the early days of his career, Grant has been able to recognize his strengths and to express it, whether it was with a neutral character or with another hateful one. So much so, that even without a word or a thousand of them, he always made himself stand out. 

Not surprisingly, he has more artistic facets than just his performance in front of the cameras and in theaters. Grant is known as Australia’s ‘voice over king’, and in fact, his record in this area is as competitive as his long stage career. Thus, he has developed magnificent voice works where he is able to vary between American, British and Australian accents. 

Therefore, he has his own podcasts hosted on major platforms such as Spotify and Apple: Busy Dads, described as a podcast packed full of great information, stories, and resources for dads on the go, and The Defiance Code, a health and motivation podcast exploring remarkable mature minds and how they stay fit, happy, and vital. Productions that stand out for relying on listeners and speakers as an assertive means of communication where Grant’s background as a voice artist plays a key role in delivering a powerful message to the audience. 

On the other hand, his work is perfectly complemented by the use of his voiceover for narratives such as House Rules, Aussie Lobster Men and the Australian National Museum. Grant reliably connects with the viewers and listeners of each project, respectively, generating an undeniable added value. This also led him to be part of the animations  Mia & Me and Motown Magic, animated series with a much sought-after impact on children’s content in Australia’s continually evolving film and TV industry. 

For all these reasons, it is a pleasure for the entertainment industry to have the certainty that Grant will continue to develop new roles in the future. Building on his successes,  his next step involves productions in the US. These projects, involving award-winning filmmakers from all over the world, include a hilarious role as ‘Utag the Barbarian’ in ‘The Role World’ from Dlugos ventures, and in White Pixel’s highly-anticipated feature film project, ‘The Other Mike.’

“I’m super excited because I’m in a place where I can draw on all of my experience from both my life AND my career. A great part of my inspiration also comes from my family. My four kids keep me very real & greatly inspired with a healthy curiosity for the arts. The innocense and command of “Why not?” from a child always brings me into thinking  – “Yeah, why the hell not!”.

Adding more excitement to our conversation, Grant continues. 

“My 2021 is going to be filled with breaking down even more barriers, and keeping a youthful thirst for work alive. In a lot of ways I’m at a time in my career when I feel this really is just the beginning. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to date, but am even more excited for what’s to come!”

Home and Away’s grant Lyndon on alternating between mediums

While 2020 has been a year characterised by people being forced to pivot, Australian actor Grant Lyndon has been used to doing just that on a regular basis since the beginnings of his career in Sydney for quite some time.

As he, and any other prominent studio executive or producer would attest, actors need not just be malleable and versatile in their screen abilities, but their dexterity with life too. 

Grant Lyndon, shot by Leeroy TeHira.

The life of an actor calls for flexibility and frequent change. It’s to be expected that, in the case of an expert on the matter like Grant is, he boasts prominent experience across all different mediums and genres. 

The Shane-Abbess-directed feature The Osiris Child, where Grant is listed amongst other cast members such as The Mummy franchise star Luke Ford and Transformers actress Isabel Lucas, represented a pivot in a medium after Grant had spent years in television and voice work. 

In his role as Dr Curruthers, Lyndon stands out especially in the penultimate scene counseling Sy (played by Twilight star Kellan Lutz) through the loss of his wife in the futuristic world’s emergency room.

The gritty realism infused with a metallic energy reminiscent of the best George Lucas movies formed a fitting backdrop for the compelling energy of Grant’s time on screen in character, underscoring the notion how he is a true cinematic actor deserving of a close-up. 

Grant’s pitch-perfect embodiment of an American character was also a notable feature of the stand-out role, which is an effective juxtaposition to the father-of-four’s memorable appearance in Home and Away. 

The iconic and long-running TV series could not be more different from the futuristic world in Shane Abbess’ feature, serving as another strong example for how Grant – in his dexterity as a trained actor – effortlessly jumps from world to world. 

Grant appears on the iconic and award-winning drama ‘Home and Away’, also streaming on 7+, reinforcing the importance of his role at the network.

There was one similarity between the roles however, as Grant was asked by Home and Away producers to embody the senior academic authority of his Osiris Doctor character when playing the part of Professor Calabra. While the storyline was crucial to viewer interest, involving the development of Pia Miller’s Katarina Chapman’s career changes, the performance gives any viewer insight into the skills and talents that set Grant apart from other Australian TV actors. 

For one, echoing the words of notable producers, Lyndon’s handling of the material and dialogue encapsulates a masculine credibility as conflated with an understated sensitivity. This duality, seen throughout exchanges between Grant’s character and others as well as in private moments and close-ups, embodies a masculine credibility more reminiscent of old-style Hollywood than modern television.

If that proven versatility wasn’t enough, Grant also is well-known for his voice work. In Motown Magic, Grant voices the character of Johnny in a role well-received by viewers of the hit children’s series all over the world on none other than streaming giant, Netflix. 

In one notable moment, Grant brings the tender tones that are available in one’s voice when using a US accent, to console his daughter. Less is definitely more in this case. The subtleties that are required to really nail a convincing performance so the accent is as natural as possible & doesn’t get in the way, can only come from an artist who has carefully fine tuned his craft over years of development and work. 

The role in Motown Magic solidified a relationship Lyndon has proven with the streaming platform, as he also made a memorable appearance in the popular Netflix series Chosen, alongside Sam Hayden Smith and AACTA-nominated actor Fayssal Bazzi (who stars alongside Cate Blanchett in Stateless). 

Playing another surgeon, Grant clearly solidified his place as the ‘go-to’ doctor in the Australian film and television industry.  

When asked about the secret to carving out places in different pockets of the industry, Grant speaks from a humble place. 

“You just need to be yourself. Ultimately there  is something in the essence of each character in all of us. Locating the likeness (sometimes it may be something we don’t necessarily like about ourselves!) in your character allows you to really walk in the shoes of your character.” 

The spirit echoed in Grant’s words speak to the balance between focus and relaxation needed for people during a stressful year like 2020. 

If there was any advice to aspiring actors, Grant’s would be: Be patient, and use all of the experiences in your life, good and bad, to allow you to deepen your empathy, and ultimately give life to any character you play with authenticity and truth.”

Grant also adds something someone once told him: “the best advice I was ever given was, “Be the kind of actor that gets booked twice”, meaning be humble, generous, and a team player.”

If dominating the feature, television and animated corners of the industry wasn’t enough for the accomplished actor, however, Grant boasts a career as the undisputed ‘voice over king’ of Australia. 

Grant is not just the voice of one, not two, not three, but 6 major household name companies in Australia, ranging from Toyota, bank ING, Qantas, Channel Seven and none other than McDonalds. 

Grant Lyndon is the voice of McDonald’s prolific television and radio commercials.

“Putting in the hard work on your technique, really getting used to hearing yourself in a studio environment, and knowing your strengths are all super beneficial to becoming a working voice artist…It’s also great to be able to work remotely. It’s a saving grace in a world where human contact has been very limited. Most voice artists have a home studio set up of some description.”

Suffice to say, Grant’s capable of giving valuable advice but doesn’t stray away from continuing to evolve himself, as 2020 has shown.

Exclusive: award-winning Australian Actor Alec Ebert on craft and commerce.

Alec Ebert as ‘Derek’ in ‘The Expert’.

Award-winning Australian actors 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 develops a career on stage like the generations of actors before them in an era of TikTok and Instagram.

Award-winning Australian actor Alec Ebert therefore falls into a rare category. After starting out a career in sales, Ebert burst onto the Australian theatre scene in 2016 with an acclaimed performances Charlie Fox in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow.  It’s this past history which has formed a solid bedrock onto which his film and TV career has been built which, in the word of those industry professionals interviewed for this profile, will allow it to continue for decades to come. 

As well-known actor Chris Thornton attests, “…few can rival the skills and ability Alec Ebert possesses. I would rank Mr. Ebert as one of the very best performing artists internationally.”

Alec’s work in the film The Expert is in many ways a synthesis of his work in the theatre. In the intense thriller, Ebert plays Derek, an introverted, socially awkward man who fetishises one of his work colleagues. The story concerns the presumptions we make of others, social  isolation, and a thriller-style twist, while dragging the audience into the dark inner life of Derek. When watching the film, it’s clear how it called on Alec to tap into a range of intensity reminiscent of Marlon Brando. 

‘After Nightfall’ star Alec Ebert as ‘Derek’ in ‘The Expert.’

In one moment, Alec, as Derek, portrays the intensity and inner life of his character through wordless expression, raising a scarf stolen from his crush in his mouth in a creepily sensual way, leaving no allusions as to how we as the audience feel about this guy.

It probably also helps that The Expert’s director, Rachel Soland, has also worked on Hulu thriller series Into The Dark, from legendary ‘horror’ production company Blumhouse (helmed by Oscar-nominated producer Jason Blum). That company, helmed by Oscar-nominated film producer Jason Blum, is behind such mega horror successes like Insidious, The Invisible Man (Elisabeth Moss), Paranormal Activity and Happy Deathday.  Such esteemed associations evident when examining Ebert’s career reinforce how the creme da la creme of the industry always ends up working with one another, and that he himself belongs in an elusive category of artists who – while ironically commercially and financially successful – are first and foremost focused on story and craft. 

Ebert’s career boasts associations with filmmakers who have worked on Hulu’s popular ‘Into the Dark’ series

Good art leads to commerce, as they say. Not the other way around. 

When asked what theatre has taught him, and how it has undoubtedly informed his success which can be seen in film Vulture, and David-Lynch-like online series After Nightfall, Alec is simple and direct. 

“The theatre taught me that no performance is too big if the inner life of the character’s experience is truthful. This is as true for the camera as it is for the stage.’

In many ways it’s not a shock to learn of Alec’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.

“Child-like curiosity is in all of us, sometimes just below the surface, sometimes buried deep. As we grow older, we forget it, we ‘grow up,’ but it’s still there. I really believe that the secret to true maturity is finding your curiosity – learning to be a child again. I learned this from my late grandfather and it is how I found acting.”

Alec’s upcoming starring performances in US projects from filmmakers like Tim McNeil and Eric Thompson are a testament to how the international film industry seeks out exceptional talent, no matter where they are in the world. The engagements in these projects were arranged by his Amercian sponsor, underscoring how vital a role he will play at the companies in the future, given the high-anticipation the industry places on the productions as it seeks to recover from COVID-19.

Ebert, who was originally born in Melbourne, Australia to parents of Sri Lankan and Australian heritage, is humble when asked about his current success, even when we point to the the recent acclaim The Expert attracted at the Los Angeles Thriller Film Festival or the Minnesota Terror Film Festival, and his acknowledgment by the Short + Sweet Festival for Best Actor, where none other than Miranda Otto and Peter O’Brien were in attendance. 

Ebert in a rehearsal for one of his many stage productions which have established a strong foundation upon which his screen career has been built.

Alec’s appearance in DNA: The Petersons is an additional reflection of the wide range of his craft as proven in a number of leading roles in production of significant merit. In that film, Ebert worked with Nelson Cruz. 

“Acting will never be about Instagram or networking or accolades. These are incidental. It’s all the work you do in the quiet of the night that will define you. It is hard and it is rewarding. The true joy of acting is in the process – to honour the truth of a story – not the honours that come from a job well done. Having said that, it’s always nice to indulge in a little recognition every now and again!”