All posts by lgreenbaulm

Richard Rennie: Dominating the Entertainment Industry from All Angles

Multi-hyphenate Richard Rennie – well-known for his work across the fields of acting, modeling and dancing – is not going away anytime soon. Much like entertainers Jennifer Lopez and Donald Glover, Richard has found that expression in all areas have helped him cultivate a truly unique place as an artist in an ever-evolving world. It’s this quality that ensures that there is no one really else like him. Yes, he might fall in the same area as the aforementioned Lopez and Glover – zipping between jobs on even a daily basis – but the energy with which the award-winning performer does it, is very distinct to him.

“I think I’ve always had a unique way of looking at things; a little bit left-of-centre, that has meant people know when ‘Richard’s stamp’ is on a piece of work. Whether that’s a film project I’m acting in, a performance I’m dancing in, or a campaign I’m featured in as a model or spokesperson.”

The entertainer, well-known for his work at the Moulin Rouge and on “Unverified” for Funny or Die, has several acting projects out this year that would suggest this man never quite stops.

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Richard Rennie has a slew of acting, dancing and modeling projects out this year.

“Bachelor Lions,” co-starring David Arquette from the “Scream” franchise and “Eight Legged Freaks,” is one such film that will showcase the unique blend of performance skills that Richard has at his fingertips. “I actually got to play their dance coach in the film.  It was an amazing experience – combining my love of dancing and acting. David Arquette, Mitchel Musso, and James Maslow were all so great to work with and I must say, they’ve all got some moves.”

This project, from RiverRock films, has already had a VIP screening at Cinerama Dome, the famously known leading first run theater. “Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the red carpet event, as I had commited work in Paris at the time. My co-stars included me though.  They were sending photos of themselves all posted up on the red carpet showing off some style, but that only made me want to be there more” Richard explains with a wink.  

Another project Richard has lined up, “My Mom Is Dead”, marks a change in pace for the comedic thespian who plays ‘Kristoff’ in this heartbreaking drama. “That film was challenging to shoot.  The story was created from real life hardship and experiences of the writer. It was great to have her on set sharing the experience with us. I wanted to make sure that we respected her truth and portrayed her story in the most realistic way possible. The whole cast went through something magical together, as we let our raw emotions run free to tell this sad but beautiful story.”

Co-starring Melanie Vesey (“Law & Order”, “Man on the Moon”) and “Twilight” hunk Michael Welch, also well-known for his role in “Z Nation” and NBC’s “Grimm”, “My Mom Is Dead” hails from acclaimed director Sophie Webb (dir. “El Mirador” starring Rick Cosnett of “The Flash”.)

“I really enjoyed the change of pace with “Mom” – every actor was amazing and the mood on set brought out a naturalism in everyone’s performances.” In that film, Richard’s role is crucial because he is the best friend of Emma. “Kristoff is really Emma’s pillar and emotional support throughout the whole film. Emma has lost her mother and is not close to the rest of her family, so Kristoff brings happiness and optimism to the story, proving that you do not need to be blood related to be family.”  

To top it all off, Richard solidifies his prominent relationship with ‘Just One More Productions’ – the esteemed company behind Lionsgate co-production, “Open Water 3: Cage Dive,” starring Megan Peta Hill (“The X Files”) and Joel Hogan (“Home and Away”). In the sequel to “Cage Dive” directed by festival darling Gerald Rascionato, Richard will play the lead love interest Chris. The role and project signifies yet another change in style that we are confident Richard will take with ease.  His previous collaboration with ‘Just One More Productions’, also directed by Rascionato, was “Call Me By Your Maid”- a hilarious award-winning parody film.

That project simultaneously confirmed Richard’s indispensable position at Funny or Die, the distributor of “Call Me By Your Maid”, as Richard had also appeared in a main role for the renowned company’s “Unverified”.

As Richard explains, “it’s so interesting how Hollywood and the entertainment industry works – there’s so many co-productions and crossovers between companies. We all know each other!” he adds with a laugh.

Wendy M. Bain, the accomplished writer and actress, who co-stars alongside Richard in the Hollywood Play Old Frenemies explains “Richard has been an absolute pleasure to work with! His unique skills as a comedic actor make it a nightly challenge to not break character and laugh while I am performing on stage with him. His comedic energy is incredibly engaging and he has a natural talent of commanding the stage. Hundreds of hopeful actors auditioned for the role of Martin, but as soon as we saw Richards unique performance and take on the character, we instantly knew he was the actor we wanted.”

While his future as an actor looks bright, Richard’s tantamount career as a model also doesn’t show signs of slowing down. His relationship with his European agent, Sports Models, who also represent specialized Models with skills in athletics and fitness alongside their high fashion books, continues to thrive. Richard works often with his Parisian agent, as he is represented in both High Fashion, and as a Dancer for specific shoots that demand the unique skill set which Richard holds. Other leading fitness Models represented by Sport Models include “Axelle Etienne (BMX World Champion) and Aria Crescendo (World Renowned Yoga Master). Upcoming is an anticipated spread in edgy publication, “Fantastic Man”, putting Richard’s look in front of hundreds of thousands of readers who subscribe to the men’s fashion bible.

In the dancing arena, Richard’s muscles will continue to stretch. “Dance was my first love of performing and I couldn’t imagine not working within the field. Although I am busy with acting gigs, I make sure to find time to get up on stage and dance. There is no other feeling in the world than allowing your body to move through dancing and get lost within music.”  He is continually involved in dance projects that showcase his dominance in the style of Hip Hop and Commercial dance, constantly expanding from previous performances alongside Grammy-nominated artists Florence and the Machine back in the UK.

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Richard Rennie, center, has been celebrated for his incomparable skills as a dancer and entertainer all around the world.

“I’m excited for the future,” Richard says with a smile. “It’s important to look forward with a positive attitude, as that’s what attracts people to work with you and hire you over and over again.”

From “Intrusos” to Hollywood Cinema: Actress Nazarena Nóbile

Nazarena Nóbile
Argentinian Actress Nazarena Nóbile

Argentinian beauty Nazarena Nóbile will be making her debut in U.S. cinemas later this year with roles in the upcoming feature films “Summer Night” and “Intolerance: No More.”

Directed by Satellite Award winner Joseph Cross “Summer Night” stars Victoria Justice (“Victorious,” “Zoey 101,” “The First Time”), Justin Chatwin (“War of the Worlds,” “Shameless”) and Analeigh Tipton (“Manhattan Love Story,” “Two Night Stand”).

“Joseph Cross is amazing. He is such a wonderful person. I mean, I knew him as an actor but he surprised me as a director,” says Nóbile. “He is such a nice guy. And his wife and his little daughter Amelia is a sweetheart. In fact, she played my baby daughter in the film.”

Prior to making the move to the U.S. with her husband Juan Baldini three years ago, Nóbile  established herself as an actress through featured roles on several popular Telemundo series such as the multi-award winning show “Silvana Sin Lana,” as well as “Quien es Quien” and “Eva la Trailera.”

Aside from her onscreen reputation in Latin America, Nóbile emphasizes the help of producer and fellow Argentinian, Angel Cassani (“Never Surrender,” “The Pastor”), in connecting her with the right people in the states and sparking her transition into the U.S. film industry.

She explains, “I met Joseph Cross and producer Tara Ansley thanks to Angel Cassani. We met through a skype conference because I was in Buenos Aires at that time, my father had health issues and I had to keep him company for a few months last year. And suddenly they told me there was a part for me. I played Harmony’s sister… It was a small part but I was so happy to be involved in that movie. It was my first important project in LA and I truly appreciate they had thought of me for that.”

In the upcoming film “Summer Night” Nóbile’s character is the disturbed sister of the lead character Harmony who is played by Victoria Justice.

“It’s about growing up…. And how difficult it is to go from adolescence to grown up life,” says Nóbile about the film.

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Poster for Sergio Guerrero’s “Intolerance: No More”

In the upcoming film “Intolerance: No More,” a cop drama directed by Sergio Guerrero who earned the Cartagena Film Festival’s  Golden India Catalina Award and the Gramado Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for the film “A Day Without A Mexican,” Nóbile will be taking on a larger role as Lucy, the wife of a cop who’s struggling with concepts of life, death and justice. Produced by Yeniffer Behrens (“The Power of One,” “Encounters,” “Between the Lights”).

Nóbile says, “The film is about the abuse of power, which is in the spotlight a lot these days. It’s a very interesting movie. And it is filmed in a very interesting way. I think it’s gonna be a great surprise for a lot of people.”

Nóbile also has a producer credit on the upcoming film “On the Other Side,” a film that centers on immigration and is currently in post production. Clearly this multi-talented Argentinian has been busy making moves in the states. She is also planning to relocate from Miami to Los Angeles very soon.

I’m so happy living in the US. I love this country, Miami, New York, Chicago, but Los Angeles is my favorite place in the world. I feel most at home there.”

Though Nazarena Nóbile began acting as a child, it was actually while working as a journalist in Argentina that her name first became synonymous with ‘celebrity’ across Latin America. She admits, “I started to work as a journalist for very important Argentinian newspapers and TV networks. I mean, even though acting was my first and true love, journalism was my first important job in the entertainment industry.”

And it was upon landing a recurring role on the entertainment show “Intrusos,” Argentina’s version of “TMZ,” where she was a regular entertainment journalist and panelist for several years, that Nóbile such a well-known figure across Latin America. Though she says she doesn’t regret the decision to move to the U.S., that doesn’t mean leaving her home country and her position at “Intrusos” behind didn’t bring some sadness.

“‘Intrusos’ is one of the most important TV shows in South America. It was very hard for me to leave” she explains. “I love my country so much. It’s such a beautiful place to live. And the people are amazing there, Argentinians are very special people. I miss a lot of things.”

But it seems as though she’s adapted to stateside living quite quickly as well. And with both “Summer Night” and “Intolerance: No More” in post-production and expected to be released in the upcoming months, it’s safe to say audience in the states who didn’t know Nóbile before, will definitely know her after.

 

Profile: Leading Actor Giselle van der Wiel

Leading Australian actress Giselle van der Wiel, who has just been cast in two series shooting in the United States, is not as intimidating in person as one might expect. In a career that spans different mediums (TV shows like “Hendrix” with “Neighbours” actor Chelsea Jones) and characters (and Spanish exchange student in “In the Land Farthest From”), Giselle has built a reputation as a powerful presence in camera that would lead one to assume she’s overawing in person. In the best possible way, Giselle retains her strength upon our meeting but also possesses an incredibly personable nature that makes it no surprise her acting career continues to go from strength-to-strength.

We’re sitting down with Giselle to discuss two feature films in which she appears in critical roles, “On Halloween,” a new feature film with “2:22” actor Ezekiel Simat and “Reaching Distance,” with “Unbroken” actress Morgan Griffin. It’s the night after a glitzy film premiere and Giselle has just walked the red carpet with fellow Aussie A-listers. “All part of the routine of being an actor,” she says humbly, with a laugh. It could be easy to get distracted by talking about the behind-the-scenes glamour of a blockbuster premiere, but Giselle likes to focus on the work. So we resume our conversation about her upcoming projects and how she has achieved such great things in her eclectic career.

“I’m constantly working at growing as a person – I feel that unless I really know myself, and if I don’t experience life and meet new people, I can’t really grow as an actor.”

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Giselle van der Wiel on the red carpet for a film premiere.

When contacted about Giselle’s performance, “On Halloween” director didn’t need to be prodded to heap praise on Australia’s answer to Kristen Stewart. “Giselle has a crazy unique ability to own every frame she’s in,” Timothy Boyle enthusiastically explained.” There are moments where an actor gives more than you, as the writer and director, ever intended. It’s in these moments that the film takes on an extra level of depth. It’s what good actors do. It’s what Giselle did for me every day of the shoot.” Timothy, whose feature “The Half Dead” starred “Lord of the Rings” star John Rhys-Davies, clearly speaks from a position of authority. He goes on to compare Giselle’s unique appeal to that of other mega-star Australians Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and “Avatar” star Sam Worthington.

While we lose focus laughing about the ironically funny moments that come with shooting a horror film, we briefly touch on her key character in “Reaching Distance,” from award-winning director David Fairhurst. In the role of “Chell,” Giselle shares the screen with BAFTA-nominated actress Tara Morice, best known for her work opposite twice-Oscar-nominated Emily Watson and her part in Baz Luhrmann’s “Strictly Ballroom.” Giselle explains “the beautiful thing about this industry is that it’s really collaborative, so everyone’s connected and everyone knows each other. It helps everyone lift their game.”

On the topic of those two TV shows Giselle is due to start filming in the US, she has to stay quite mum. “Unfortunately I’m not able to go into too much detail about my characters, but I can say that my character’s name in “Masculinity in Crisis” season 2 is Joanna.” “Masculinity” series is an award-winning co-production between Joseph Gordon Levitt’s production company HitREcord and successful outfit Nix Film, and is distributed by Amazon Studios. Series creator and lead actor Alex Cubis (“Dear White People”) explains that Giselle was cast because there was no other actor who could play her role. “The character was specifically written to possess the ability to perform in Australian and American accents, and speak Spanish. Aside from her X-factor, Giselle was the only girl who auditioned who could play the role.”

When asked about her character in “Dipsticks,” Giselle laughs. “That project is going to be fun because it’s a comedy; I don’t want to reveal too much about that. But I’m really happy to have a chance to play a lead in a comedy series.” That series also stars NBC “Community” actor Dominik Musiol, so it’s safe to say that Giselle is in fine company when it comes to her career.

“I feel really lucky that I get to continue working in different countries and in different styles – that was always my goal when I started acting. I’m very grateful.”

Filmmaker & Journalist Liliya Anisimova Reveals Her Fashionista Side on TheSTYLEtti

Journalist Liliya Anisimova
Journalist Liliya Anisimova

From her time as a news anchor for local Moscow news stations Doverie and Teleinform, to working as the host of several hit TV programs on the popular Russian Travel Guide (RTG), journalist and filmmaker Liliya Anisimova has spent a lot of time in front of the camera, and she always looks stunning. Granted, she’s a natural beauty, but her keen eye for fashion truly makes her stand out.

My mom likes to tell this story all the time of how when I was about three putting clothes on for daycare. I put my yellow track suit on, I remember that suit, it was chic yellow with colorful stars, a Juicy Couture style tracksuit. And my mom gave me pink socks,” Liliya recalls with a smile. “I looked at her and said, ‘I’m not going anywhere in a yellow suit and pink socks. I need yellow socks’… I wouldn’t go anywhere until my mom found me yellow socks. She always tells this story saying, ‘who told you about matching colors, nobody taught you how to pair colors’.”

As a journalist and filmmaker, Liliya Anisimova’s accomplishments are beyond impressive– to the point of making of us wonder if she has some super human power giving her the ability to accomplish more in a day than most. As the writer and director of the films “From Real to Reel,” “Magic of the Underground,” which earned the Best Experimental Film Award at the 2013 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, and the poignant documentary “Love is the Highest Law,” which screened internationally and earned numerous awards including the Award of Merit from the 2015 IndieFEST Film Awards, she’s made a strong name for herself as a talented storyteller.

Ironically though, it was Liliya’s chic style, not her seemingly endless accolades, that first caught the attention of The STYLEtti Editor-In-Chief Janea Mastrandrea. Janea recounts on TheSTYLEtti blog, “I was shooting street style in New York one day when I came upon this woman with fabulous shoes. I met filmmaker and shoe-lover Liliya Anisimova. And the next day, we began collaborating.”

Charline De Luca black and white heels
Liliya’s Charline De Luca black and white heels

Wearing her Charline De Luca black and white heels, black skinny jeans and a light pink-beige soft wool cardigan jacket, Liliya was rushing to meet a friend in midtown NYC when she was approached by Janea, who ironically had no idea that she was already a celebrated journalist. 

“[Janea] was a very beautiful classy lady, one of those editor-in-chief looks. She asked about my shoes and complimented my style, and that’s how I met Janea.. and that’s how I started writing for The Styletti. It was such a privilege and joy to start writing column regularly in a fashionable glossy magazine style,” recalls Liliya.

“I’ve since written around a hundred articles about traveling, attending events, meeting outstanding people and of course, fashion.”

Since that fated encounter three years ago, which is proof that you never know who you’re going to meet out there in the world so you might as well opt for looking your best, Anisimova has continued to be a lead fashion columnist on the site.

Janea adds, “[Liliya’s] posts are among our most read.”

Growing up in Volgograd, former Stalingrad, Russia, Liliya’s love for fashion and the desire to express herself through her own unique style was something she developed early on in her youth.

She recalls, “When I was growing up it was the time when the USSR had just crashed and we didn’t have a big clothing or shoe selection in stores. So everyone pretty much looked the same, and I hated it, so I would come up with my own ideas and ask my grandmother to sew and knit me different pieces. I remember she did a knitted 100% light wool sweater and matching knitted sweatpants which I loved!”

It was only a few years later, at the age of 13, that Liliya first began working as a contributing journalist to local newspapers such as the Russian national newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda’s Volgograd regional edition, Volgogradskaya Pravda and Vecherniy Volgograd aka Evening Volgograd.

She admits, “I’ve loved to write since I was a little girl. I used to ‘publish’ my home-made magazine, I published multiple school papers while in high school, and collaborated with some local papers in my hometown before I started my undergrad in broadcast journalism.”

Liliya went on to earn her Bachelor’s in journalism, another Bachelor’s in translation in professional communications and her MFA in Journalism from Moscow State University before relocating to the states where she earned another MFA in Social Documentary Filmmaking from New York’s School of Visual Arts.

As a local news anchor in Russia Liliya covered a wide range of subjects. Occasionally those subjects intersected with her love for fashion, such as covering Moscow Fashion Week; but The STYLEtti has given her a platform to reveal her fashionista side in a different way.

Liliya explains, “For me, writing a column is very much a get away from my daily video work, I write it once a month, sometimes two if the schedule permits. I love attending events, art gallery openings, fashion shows of course, meeting photographers, designers, artists, models and other interesting people. It’s genuinely very inspiring.”

From her articles covering NYFW where she’s interviewed international designers and covered the runway, to those about attending gallery openings, such as Karim Rashid’s exhibit featuring his new design collaborations in Manhattan last Spring, Liliya writes about fashion in a way that makes the reader feel like they’re one of her close pals.

Karim Rashid
Karim Rashid and Liliya Anisimova at Rashid’s Exhibit in NYC

Dressed to impress, Liliya wore her sensible, but classy black peep-toe Gucci flats, a red Kate Spade knee length coat (featured in another post you can check out here) and her white boatneck sleeveless Raoul dress to Karim Rashid’s exhibit. With over 300 awards under his belt, Karim Rashid is considered one of the world’s most famous industrial designers; and, with the images of Liliya looking chic and stylish at the opening being featured on The STYLEtti site, the post became highly popular and offered readers insight on how to dress one’s best in such a high profile environment.

She often does #OOTD and #OOTN posts as well, which show her personal style for everyday and nightly outings, and serve as a great source of inspiration for those looking to making their wardrobe more fashion forward.

“I like to write about every day simple events, something that anyone can relate to…. I normally get more inspired to find beauty in everyday life in regular people… I think it is my background in journalism and filmmaking that makes me have the same approach to that column.”

On a personal level, Liliya’s natural style is simple, but classy, which makes sense considering her fashion icon is Audrey Hepburn. A little black dress, which she says is ‘as old as time,’ classic nude heels, which work with everything, a silk pastel colored blouse,  ajean shirt and black skinny jeans are among the basic selection of items she says are ‘must haves’ for any fashion forward female reader.

While she’s made a name for herself covering hard-hitting news and travel stories, as well as through her work as a documentary filmmaker, where she primarily focuses on human interest stories relevant to present times, fashion has been a part of Liliya Anisimova’s life all along. So, having her own fashion column is not only the perfect grounds for her talent and personal interests to intersect, but it also continues to draw readers to The STYLEtti site.

Janea says, “Liliya’s sense of humor and understanding of what interests our audience has helped grow our exposure and keeps readers coming back for her influence and entertainment.”

Professional Heavyweight Boxer Turned Actor Larry Olubamiwo is a Knockout On Screen

Larry Olubamiwo
Actor Larry Olubamiwo shot by Karen Scott

As a former professional heavyweight boxer Larry Olubamiwo knows a thing or two about knocking opponents out in the ring; but the successes he’s become widely recognized for in recent years have actually taken place outside of the boxing ring as Olubamiwo’s continued to show what he’s made of on the silver screen.

At 6-foot-4, Olubamiwo looks outwardly dominating, something that undoubtedly lent itself to his benefit in his boxing career and intimidated opponents before the first punch was even thrown. While that naturally strong aesthetic has also led him to be the first choice for a number of commanding lead roles as an actor, his collective work in film and television have revealed his capacity take on multi-layered roles that extend far beyond that of the stereotypical tough guy.

In projects such as Verona Rose’s 2016 dramatic film “Fabric of the Royals” where he stars alongside Alice Fofana from Benjamin Rider’s multi-award winning film “Seven Devils,” and the series “Life of Hers,” which won the Best Ensemble Award at the 2014 Screen Nation Awards, the emotional range and vulnerability that Olubamiwo brings to his characters draw us into the story making it hard to peel our eyes away.

Despite earning extensive praise for his on-screen roles, Olubamiwo remains admirably humble about his career and his talent, but knowing his strengths and capitalizing on them, as is the way for any actor who wishes to ‘make it’ in such a competitive industry, have been imperative to his success.

“My sensitivity and vulnerability as an actor despite my physicality sets me apart,” says Olubamiwo. “I have been told that I’m able to convey a range of emotions with just my eyes, which I am grateful for as acting, a lot of times, is about stillness.”

Though Olubamiwo had a passion for acting during his youth, at that time boxing was where his heart and mind were focused. He spent years undergoing the intense training required of a professional athlete, eventually going on to become a powerful heavyweight competitor in the ring. In 2012 his boxing career ended abruptly, which brought understandable challenges, but in a way came as a godsend as it opened the doors for Olubamiwo to devote himself fully to his work as an actor.

While he’d already played key roles in films such as Jim Dickinson’s comedy “Rough and Ready,” as well as several commercials including a BBC Sport promo for the Rugby World Cup where he played a featured rugby player, and the popular 2007 ‘Bungee’ commercial for the Electoral Commission in the UK, which continued to air during every election until 2013, Olubamiwo was finally in a position to fully immerse himself in his acting training and take his work to the next level. Bringing the same fervent dedication and focus that he gave to his work as a professional boxer, the actor quickly became a sought after force in the entertainment industry.

He explains, “My love for acting and my natural work ethic I have as a boxer allowed me to excel in the training. And while I was training, I was very proactive in searching for acting work and an agent. And the rest is history as they say.”

After landing representation with Imperium Management, Olubamiwo’s captivating talent immediately struck a chord with “Fabric of the Royals” director Verona Rose, who aside from her work as a director, is known for numerous performances on hit series such as the multi-award winning series “EastEnders,” the two-time Primetime Emmy nominated series “Hustle,” and most recently, the Golden Lion Award winning dramatic film “Our Little Haven.”

Rose says, “It was such a pleasure to work with Larry. I had seen his work previously and it’s amazing what range he has despite his size and skills as a fighter. He is able to show such emotion without even saying a word which is true acting. I learned alot from him on set and want to work with him again.”

Nominated for Best Film at the 2016 Screen Nation Digital-iS Media Awards, a prestigious awards ceremony in the UK that’s often referred to as the ‘black Bafta’s,’ “Fabric of the Royals” tells the powerful story of a family who leaves their home in Jamaica to start a new life in the UK in the 1980s. Taking on the starring role of Derek, the head of the family, Olubamiwo gives a captivating portrayal of a man struggling to assimilate to a new culture and rise above the racism and violence he experiences in his new country, in hopes of giving his children a better shot in life.

Told through the eyes of his youngest daughter, “Fabric of the Royals” offers an impactful insight into the many challenges minorities face upon emigrating to a new country.

Revealing Derek as both the strong backbone of the family who commands respect from his children and the fun-loving dad who makes everything alright when they experience truly horrific treatment from the outside world, Olubamiwo endows his character with multiple layers. His performance on screen not only makes his character easy to love and root for as the film unfolds, but it also serves as a testament to his impeccable acting ability.

While Olubamiwo nails the mark in the powerful father-figure roles he plays in both “Fabric of the Royals” and “Life of Hers,” not all of his characters are as easy to love, but they don’t have to be. In the 2016 dramatic horror film “Cat Face” he took on the starring role of Kaka, a priest with mystical powers that brings a murdered woman back to life and gives her the power to track down a violent cult of serial killers and take bloody revenge.

Olubamiwo sends chills down the spines of viewers with his performance, and “Cat Face” went on to be awarded at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) in 2017. Revealing yet another area of the actor’s widespread skill set, Kaka speaks Yoruba in the film, a language Olubamiwo is not only fluent in, but one that makes the character that much more mysterious on screen thanks to the way the actor portrays him.

Larry Olubamiwo is one uniquely talented actor who embodies the beautiful contradiction of being the polar opposite of what outsiders tend to assume at first glance. And while his imposing figure has made it easy for him to play the intimidating, sometimes even criminal role, like Reynolds in the 2015 thriller “Honour Amongst,” it’s Olubamiwo’s incredible emotional depth, dedication and magnetism on screen that makes him someone worthy of the spotlight and international praise.

Up next for this talented actor is the dramatic crime film “The Middle Man,” which is written and directed by Philip Howard and is slated to begin filming late this year.

Charlotte Chimes On Acting Real: Playing Real-Life Characters

Charlotte Chimes has always believed that the best acting performances are those which are ‘real.’ Others might choose the words ‘truthful’ or ‘believable’ for the same effect, but whichever term is used, it’s clear that Charlotte has carved quite the niche for herself as a leading Australian actress regularly called to play real-life people in gripping dramas.

Such is the impressive significance of her reputation in Australia, Charlotte played the key role of Katrina in the acclaimed Channel Nine movie, “Schapelle.” Directed by award-winning “Better Man” filmmaker Khoa Do, “Schapelle” tells the story of Australia’s most notorious and high-profile convicted drug smugglers in the nation’s history. Schapelle Corby spent nine years in an Indonesian jail cell, and maintained her innocence that she did not plant marijuana found in her bodyboard bag by Indonesian airport security. The case drew international headlines and remains as one of Australia’s most well-known real-life stories, and was therefore the country’s most highly-anticipated television event when it aired, drawing millions in viewers.

Any actor who would be involved in the narrative production documenting Schapelle’s story could easily therefore be called successful, because the story is so well-known; the fact that Charlotte Chimes played a key role “Schapelle” therefore puts her in the top echelon of Australian actors.

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Charlotte, with director Ben Mathews, on the red carpet for the prestigious Sydney Film Festival last year.

Co-star Krew Boylan, well-known for her roles in Logie-winning series “Molly” and international favourite “A Place to Call Home,” speaks very highly of Charlotte. “I had the pleasure of working with Charlotte [on SCHAPELLE]. Charlotte is a gifted actress…I highly recommend her skills, dedication, craft and talent for any work both in Australia and abroad.” Boylan, who is also one of the founders of the Dollhouse Production company alongside Golden-Globe nominated star Rose Byrne, played Schapelle herself. “Krew was lovely to work with,” Charlotte explains. “We had a great time exploring the story from all different angles.”

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“Schapelle” was a highly-anticipated movie on Australia’s #1 network, Channel Nine.

In addition to her work in “Schapelle,” Charlotte is also well-known for her role as Anya Habschied in “Catching Milat.” Charlotte explains her character well. “Anja Habschied was one of Ivan Milat’s seven victims  –  it was so important that all of his victim’s stories were told in this mini -series…to honour them.” The mini-series was especially important in the Australian film industry because it was directed by Peter Andrikidis, Australia’s most prolific television director also responsible for helming the award-winning ABC series “Janet King” and the feature film “Alex and Eve” with “Chasing Life” star Richard Brancatisano.  

In another strong reflection of her truly unique talent and incredible accomplishments, Charlotte featured as Erin Everett in the successful series “Deadly Women.” Her performance was therefore available to 300 million Netflix subscribers all over the world who watch the popular program. For her role in the chapter titled “Green Eyed Monsters,” Charlotte explains the importance she placed on bringing truth and giving justice to the real-life story of her character. “Female murderers are rarer than male murderers and often become quite famous for their crimes, as the media sensationalises them. It was important to portray her not simply as a one dimensional monster but a three dimensional heart-broken woman who made some very grave choices.”

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Charlotte in a gripping scene from an episode of “Deadly Women.”

Charlotte, who has also given critical turns in film “Loco” (with “Neighbours” star Taylor Glockner) and TV series “The Verge” (with “Twilight: Eclipse” actor Matt Deane), warmly expresses her gratitude when it comes to her career success.

“At the end of the day, I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to give voice to such interesting and complex, real-life characters.”

Through Motion Visualization Captures and VFX Zhaoyu Zhou Creates Innovative Film “Last Dance”

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VFX artist and director Zhaoyu Zhou

From manipulating the imagery of live-action footage to creating characters like the titular bear in “Paddington,” the CGI Autobots in “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” and even bringing former ones back from the dead, such the “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” character Grand Moff Tarkin, the advances in visual effects technology has given filmmakers exponential freedom to literally create anything they can imagine.

A perfect example of the unique power and possibilities that new digital technologies have brought to modern filmmaking is Chinese VFX artist and film director Zhaoyu Zhou’s recent film “Last Dance,” which earned the Best Experimental Film Award at the Miami Short Film Festival and was chosen as a Semifinalist by the 2017 Adobe Design Achievement Awards.

An experimental motion capture visualization film, “Last Dance” tells the ancient Chinese romance story “Farewell My Concubine” in the way of Peking Opera, a traditional Chinese performing art that combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics.

"Last Dance"
Poster for “Last Dance”

”I came up with this idea and concept back in 2015 since I have family and relatives engaged in Peking Opera performances, and I have also been influenced by this traditional performing arts since childhood,” explains Zhou. “By creating this film I wanted to depict Peking Opera in a new form, while also giving audiences the opportunity to experience this traditional Chinese performing art.”

Zhou shot “Last Dance” using famous Peking Opera artist Zhang Ming, who assisted in the choreography and performed the dance as both the King and the Concubine simultaneously on a motion capture stage. Zhou then transferred the motion capture data into Houdini where he created the dynamic simulation effects we see on screen. A data intensive film, Zhou also brought in Houdini FX artist Debra Isaac, who’s known for her visual effects work on the documentary films “Holy Man: The USA VS. Douglas White” and “Wildest Weather in the Solar System.”

“Motion visualization is a newer form of storytelling, and it utilizes the most advanced VFX techniques. The final visual look is achieved through the effects of dynamic simulation. I used Mantra to render and Nuke to composite,” Zhou explains. “There are no texture maps on the two characters, so in order to achieve the elegant look I had to tweak the light and shader material.”

The film, which has also been chosen as an Official Selection of the 2018 USC First Look Film Festival, is visually beautiful, with Zhou’s master skill in VFX making it possible for the figures to dance gracefully across the screen. Zhou’s minimalist style in “Last Dance” provides a lot of space for the viewer’s imagination. The dynamic fluidity of the characters, their bright colors– a key representation of the costumes in Peking Opera performances, and they way he structures the two characters, with the King coming across with a level of sharpness and the Concubine with smooth rounded edges, make “Last Dance” a rich expression of innovation and a homage to tradition at the same time.

Another key element to the film, one that helps create an emotional experience for the viewer, gives life to the characters and drives Zhou’s concept of blending the traditional with the modern is the accompanying music.

He says, “This kind of experimental work using motion capture and CG not only require a unique visual style, but they also need to be fully integrated with the music to achieve the best audio visual experience. I am so grateful to my composer Meizhen He for creating the music.”

Zhou, who’s originally from Qingdao, China, began his career a little over five years ago, and what he’s accomplished since is nothing short of amazing. Lately Zhou has been pulling in award after award for his films, which for the most part, are either animated or created through motion visualization techniques. His seasoned skill as a VFX artist is definitely one of his most powerful assets, one that is matched only by his unique creativity and the stories he’s driven to tell.

Some of Zhou’s other films include the 2017 animated film “Karma,” which earned more than nine Best Animation Awards at festivals including the Los Angeles Film Awards and Asians on Film Festival, as well as the Award of Distinction at Greece’s Athens Animation Festival, the 2016 film “Spherical,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Melbourne International Animation Festival, the Adobe Design Achievement Awards and more, as well as “Reunion,” “Dancing Blue” and others.

Considering Zhou had already proven his strengths as a narrative storyteller through his previous work, and being someone who’s driven to push his personal creative boundaries, “Last Dance” was the perfect opportunity for the VFX artist and filmmaker to experiment with his craft and create something new.

“This time I wanted to try something new. I saw a lot of experimental works in the beginning. The ones I found most inspirational are the series of motion visualization films by Universal Everything in the UK and WOW studio in Japan,” explains Zhou. “Minimalism combined with surrealism, and integrated with the Chinese Opera is such an innovation. Being able to innovate and combine traditional art with modern technology has always been my pursuit.”

Thanks to his vast knowledge and experience with VFX, Zhou was able to translate an age old form of performance and storytelling into the experimental and wildly creative concept that he envisioned in his mind; and created something audiences across the globe could enjoy.

“It was such an amazing journey for me. My favorite part was transferring the design and concept to the final look through the way of VFX by using Houdini. I couldn’t imagine making this happen without VFX,” says Zhou, adding that, “motion visualization has never been easy but it has challenged me to move forward without fear.”

 

Alastair Osment on His Craft And Working With Oscar-Winners

Not every actor gets to spend most of their time employed. Even more rare is an actor who gets to spend time on a critically lauded TV series. And even rarer than that? Acting opposite Academy-Award winners. Fortunately for him, Alastair Osment can say he has achieved all three, as this busy leading man recounts his rewarding experiences on highly esteemed shows like “Deadline Gallipoli”, “Home and Away” and “Top of the Lake” – all shot in Australia, and all loved the world-over.

Most recently, Alastair offered a scene-stealing turn playing the role of Morgan in the Golden-Globe winning series, “Top of the Lake: China Girl.” Besides two of his highlights being that he shared screen time with “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Mad Men” star Elisabeth Moss, as well as “Game of Thrones” fan-favorite Gwendoline Christie, it’s no surprise that a huge part of this project’s appeal was his chance to join a cast that included Oscar-winning superstar, Nicole Kidman. “Nicole is obviously a world-renowned actress with a huge career behind her; to meet her would be an honour for any actor, but to be in the same cast list as hers is an accomplishment of which I’m very proud.” Although it’s significant, Alastair’s role in “Top of the Lake” isn’t the only acting accomplishment for which he receives kudos in his native Australia. “Although the show winning awards is impressive, my job as an actor and in playing Morgan was to bring as much life to the character written on the page.”

Prior to his work on “Top of the Lake,” Alastair also played an incredibly important role in “Deadline Gallipoli,” a big-budget Australian mini-series that aired on the ‘Australian Home to HBO’, the Showcase network. “I personally love the Showcase network, so I was very excited to be working with them, along with the production company “Matchbox Pictures.” Also produced by “Avatar” superstar Sam Worthington, who also starred in the series, “Deadline Gallipoli” tells the story of journalists who struggle to report the true story of events occurring at Gallipoli during WWI in 1915. The period drama, which further featured Oscar-nominee Rachel Griffiths and Emmy-nominee Hugh Dancy in the cast, gave Alastair the opportunity to explore his country’s history and represent the ‘Australian everyman’ in the character of Melvyn.

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Promotional shot for season 2 of the critically acclaimed drama, “Top of the Lake.” 
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Alastair has a strong relationship with the Australian ‘Showcase’ network, Australia’s “home of HBO.”

The production, which was awarded multiple AACTA-Awards (Australia’s equivalent to the Oscars), was especially important to Showcase and Matchbox because it involved telling a story about an event that helped birth Australia’s identity. Alastair felt a responsibility to bring humanity to his character, as his character’s actions resulted in a monumental turning point in the psychology of the main character Charles Bean, played by actor Joel Jackson who stars opposite “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe in the upcoming film “Jungle.” Producers frequently talk deep respect when discussing the critical importance Alastair played in not only the success of the production, which averaged incredibly high ratings in Australia, but also story-wise.

“I brought pathos in the form of human loss and the loss of friendship, the scene where my best friend Arthur dies in my arms was described as one of the mini-series’ most heartbreaking and moving scenes.”

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Alastair Osment in a moving scene from “Deadline Gallipoli,” where he played the key role of Melvyn.
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Alastair worked with “Game of Thrones” actor Charles Dance in “Deadline Gallipoli.”

It’s clear that Alastair embodies the typical Australian man, given his characters that live in the time of WWI up until modern day. In the hugely popular series “Home and Away”, a show on which “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth appeared in a lead role and a series that is sold in over 100 countries around the world, Alastair played the important role of Cal Jackson.

Alastair therefore not only shared his acting talents with viewers in Australia, but with countries like Ireland where “Home and Away” is the number one TV show and entertains millions with its storylines about the residents of a seaside town called “Summer Bay.” “I felt very fortunate to play Cal, because the trajectory of two other main characters hinged on my performance.” Indeed, as Cal, Alastair plays a university student who causes something of a love-triangle when Summer Bay High students visit an art gallery where Cal exhibits his artwork. The emotional depth Alastair portrayed in the storyline provided the foundation upon which writers and producers built a major story arc around the two leads’ relationship.

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Alastair caused quite the stir when he joined the cast of “Home and Away”

“Home and Away” star Nic Westaway, who appeared in 387 episodes of the show over four years, offers his thoughts for what makes Alastair a successful actor. “What makes Alastair truly extraordinary to work with is his generosity as an actor. He is always willing to work collaboratively to achieve the greatest outcome for the story and the production.”

The importance of Alastair’s roles in such highly-regarded television productions ironically seems small when compared to the rest of Alastair’s hugely impressive career. Alastair gives credence to the notion that actors are not merely ‘performers’, but storytellers and artists who need a finely-tuned instrument and highly refined understanding of the craft to inject humanity into what is otherwise just words on a page. The fact that Alastair Osment has worked on the same productions as Oscar, Golden-Globe and Emmy-winners is obviously impressive, but he has also shown how in the age of social media and Kardashian-culture, pedigree and skill build integrity and success.

 

Filmmaking is All About the Beauty of Collaboration for DP Olesia Saveleva

Cinematographer Olesia Saveleva
Director Joshua Amar and DP Olesia Saveleva on set of “Steady Eddie”

The filmmaking process is arguably one of the best examples of a group of people collaborating across multiple departments in order to bring a single vision to life. Turning the initially ‘invisible’ vision of the director into a visible story that viewers around the world can experience is a massive undertaking, and though the role of every department is integral to the finished work, the relationship between a director and their cinematographer is one of the most vital.

Esteemed cinematographer Olesia Saveleva says that, for her, “the collaboration part of filmmaking is one of the most interesting and attractive parts of filmmaking.” She adds, “You never know how the dialogue with the director and other principal team members will go. I love when there is trust and honesty. I love when everybody is sharing ideas and I love when a director hears all the suggestion and takes a lead in making decisions.”

As the proverbial ‘eyes of the director,’ the cinematographer has to first understand the director’s vision, and then use their creativity and technical skill to translate that vision into what we ultimately see on screen. One of the things that has made Olesia Saveleva such a successful and sought after cinematographer in the film world is her ability to understand what the directors she works with envision for their project.

Earlier this year Saveleva wrapped production on Joshua Amar’s (“Velvet Waterfalls,” “Billy the Kid”) dramatic film “Steady Eddie,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the SCAD Savannah Film Festival where it premiered in November.

Starring Robert Daniel Sloan (“How I Met Your Mother,” “Bad Teacher,” “Sinister 2”), Gabriel Sousa (“Mad Men,” “Growing Up Immigrants”) and Shawn Lockie (“Criminal Minds”) “Steady Eddie” tells the story of Jesse (Robert Daniel Sloan), a young boy who, fearing his autistic older brother Ed (Gabriel Sousa) will die in battle, takes Ed to their father’s cabin in the wilderness in hopes of getting him to avoid the Vietnam War draft.

“In this project we wanted to stay in the perspective of the young brother, so we are much closer to him,” explains Saveleva.

In order to bring the audience closer to Jesse, Saveleva made sure that each scene in the film included both a shot from his point of view and one of him and his reactions, which helps viewers to identify with what he is feeling. From the lighting, which helped to transport the audience to the 1960s when the film takes place, to the decision to initially keep a portion of the frame out of focus in some shots, which directs the viewer’s attention to a specific area, Saveleva’s extraordinary work as the cinematographer of the film was key in making “Steady Eddie” a highly cinematic and visually gripping story.

Out of all of her productions to date Saveleva marks “Steady Eddie” as one of her top favorites. She explains, “It was the smoothest and the most pleasant set. And we had a very creative, responsible and collaborative team. The production of this film was the best in terms of organization, and I had the best director and producer. Everybody was on top of their jobs so we got everything we needed.”

As a cinematographer Saveleva is also known for her work on films such as Jorge S. Pallas’ “In Girum Imus Nocte,” which earned the Award of Recognition from the 2016 IndieFEST Film Awards, the comedy film “The Worst People at the Party,” the crime film “Brothers,” “X & Y” and the recently released drama “Immigrant Brothers.”

About working with Saveleva, Olga Solodukhina, the director of the film  “X & Y,” says, “It is a very fruitful collaboration. She bring a lot of ideas to the table. Olesia pays a lot of attention to the details. As a cinematographer she is very good with composition and designing camera movements. But also she collaborates closely with the production designer and costume designer.”

While she has undoubtedly made a powerful mark through her work as the cinematographer on a diverse range of narrative films, she’s also lent her unparalleled skill to countless music videos. Most recently she worked with artists Julia Proskuryakova, Elena Esenina and Maxim Galkin as the cinematographer on their music video for the hit Russian song “I’m a Mother,” which was released in October and has garnered extensive attention from media outlets across Russia. The music video, which already has over 377,000 views on YouTube, follows two fed up housewives who get tired of doing everything for their family and getting no appreciation from their husbands so they decide to break free and have some fun.

From the way she zeros in on the intricately arranged food and shows only the housewife’s hands, which gives the sense that she is more of a servant than a person, to the following framing, which makes it feel as though she is trapped within four walls, Saveleva’s composition in the opening scenes perfectly supports the story. Through her camera movements, such as slowing down over a stack of plates as they shatter on the ground, signaling that the housewife is ready to break free, to the way she speeds up the shots and keeps the camera traveling once the women have reclaimed their freedom, Saveleva used her seasoned skill to set the pace of the video.

Thanks to her extensive experience in the field, Saveleva’s technical skill is so on point that she has the capacity to get creative with her director when it comes time to shoot instead of being fixated on sticking to one plan.

She explains, “When I plan a shoot thoroughly with a director we kind of get on the same wavelength. So that when we come on set we are both flexible to change shots and be creative because we are still on the same wavelength.”

At the end of the day filmmaking is all about collaboration; and a strong collaborative relationship between a director and cinematographer is one that often continues over the course of each of their career, with the two joining forces again and again to make magic on screen. And for Olesia Saveleva, that is precisely the kind of relationship she looks for in the people she works with.

“I want to find one or several directors who I collaborate well with and make many projects together. The collaboration part excites me the most because I believe in synergy. The better I know the director, the faster the decision making is happening. We trust each other in making creative decisions and we can challenge each other with ambitious plans. I believe that in those collaboration processes the strongest movies are being made.”

From High Tension Thrillers to Cutting Edge Emotional Dramas, Actress Daniela Junko’s Range Continues to Impress

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Actress Daniela Junko

When an actor brings a character to life on screen with such seamless believability, we’re sometimes led to wonder– is this character really just a natural extension of the actor’s off screen self? It’s when we see actors take on characters that are the polar opposite from one another and still deliver that same flawless authenticity (those such as Charlize Theron in “Monster” compared to “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” series compared to “Silver Linings Playbook” and Denzel Washington in “Training Day” compared to “The Magnificent Seven,” to name a few), that is when we know the true strength of an actor’s craft. One such actor who boasts an undeniably impressive range that places her in the upper echelon of the world’s most skilled actors is Daniela Junko.

Tall, exotic and beautiful, Daniela Junko’s look gives her the coveted ability to easily portray leading ladies on screen ranging from the femme fatale to the damsel in distress and everything in between. Her physical attributes aside, it is what she brings to the table in terms of talent that has really made her a powerhouse in the industry.

Over the years Junko, who is originally from Brazil, has become known for her starring roles in films such as Frank Lopez’s (“Tangerine Sky”) award-winning crime drama “Three Kings Down,” the twisted thriller films “I Am Tommy Talbot” and “The Incision” with Delpaneaux Wills from the two-time Golden Globe Award winning series “American Crime Story,” the hit feature film “Rough Mix” with Asian Television Award winners Kay Tong Lim and Rebecca Lim, and most recently the emotional drama “Alone,” which screened at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

When asked what drives her as an actress, Junko explained, “As funny as it may sound, humans. We are such beautiful and complex creatures, even if we were capable of living for hundreds of years we would still not go through all the emotions and experiences that life has to present us with. To be able to study, understand and portray those different emotions, perhaps even help someone open their mind is a gift.”

From her body of work it is easy to see Junko’s interest, aptitude and dedication to discovering and experiencing the wide spectrum of emotional responses available and the many ways each individual character’s past experiences frame those responses.   

Two of Junko’s projects that really shine a light on her inimitable capacity to bring two completely different characters in two totally different genres to life are the films “Alone” and “The Incision.”

In Tekin Girgin’s thrilling crime drama “The Incision,” which centers on an organ trafficking ring led by an unscrupulous entrepreneur looking to expand his business, Junko gave a chilling  performance as Jessica, the point person who leads potential victims (or ‘organ donors’ as her character might refer to them) into situations where they are drugged and operated on. The leading lady of the film, Junko carefully imbues Jessica with multiple layers that make her intriguing and scathing simultaneously. The way she initially comes across, mesmerizing victims with her beauty and appearing affable and trustworthy, to her true essence as an evil power hungry woman with no identifiable value for human life, Junko’s performance on screen is difficult to peel our eyes away from as we wonder what her character is going to do next.

Whereas “The Incision” proved Junko’s flare for playing the villain, her role in the 2017 drama “Alone” directed by Angelo Perrino (“Dirty Spaghetti,” “The Lost Samurai”) revealed the actress in a very different light.

Riddled with vulnerability and emotional turmoil, her performance as Emma, a beautiful woman struggling to cope with debilitating depression, earned Junko a prestigious Best Actress Award nomination at the Madrid International Film Festival– and to anyone who’s seen the film, it comes as no surprise.

Starring opposite Swell Soubra, who is known for his work on the multi-award winning film “Lost Angels” and plays Emma’s boyfriend in “Alone,” Daniella powerfully depicts the paralyzing struggles those diagnosed with clinical depression face on an everyday basis. The on screen chemistry between Soubra and Junko is evident throughout the film, which is understandable considering their a couple off screen as well.

I love working with [Daniela], she is a tireless worker who demands the most from herself and everyone around her and she’s always great to be around. She is an incredible actress and storyteller,” explained “Alone” director Angelo Perrino. “The whole film would not exist without her… She is the film.”

Incapable of being typecast, Daniela Junko is one actress who has managed to defy all genre limitations and pre-existing expectations concerning the kinds of characters she takes on. Up next for Junko is the film “Killer Issues,” which will be directed by Jonathan Cocco (“Abduction,” “Twice Blessed”) and is expected to begin filming in 2018.