All posts by lgreenbaulm

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.”

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

VFX artist and director Zhaoyu Zhou23592110_10215392853721198_2657579445691441541_o
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.

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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.

Actor Profile: Australia’s Madalein Jackson

Madalein Jackson
Australian actress Madalein Jackson

Hailing from Newcastle, Australia actress Madalein Jackson first took to the stages at the age of 7. Performing in multiple theatre productions over the course of her childhood and teenage years, Jackson realized early on that acting was a passion she had to follow.

“I find acting to be extremely cathartic; it’s such a great outlet for expressing yourself.  Acting has always been a weird obsession for me that has sometimes been difficult to make sense of… There is also nothing like the rush of performing, I cannot think of anything else that compares to the feeling,” explains Jackson.

One of the aspects of Jackson’s talent that has made her such a dynamic asset to the theatre productions she’s starred in to date is her remarkable singing voice. Early on in her career Jackson’s voice landed her a coveted spot in Newcastle’s Hunter Singers choir, with which she travelled and performed across both Australia and Europe.

“Being a member of Hunter Singers improved my singing technique immensely… we were constantly learning and performing new repertoire, helping me to develop fast learning and excellent sight-reading skills, both of which are extremely beneficial in the musical theatre world.” explains Jackson about being selected to sing for one Australia’s premiere vocal groups.

“I was lucky enough to be part of the European tour to Austria, England and Wales, as well as competing at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and being part of premiere performances of commissioned works by renowned Australian composers Stephen Leek, Paul Jarman and Gordon Hamilton.”

Jackson’s seasoned skill as an actress coupled with her powerful singing voice has made here a natural choice for leading roles in an impressive list of esteemed productions in Australia, such as “Urinetown,” “Seussical,” “Pride & Prejudice,” “Les Miserables,” “Animal Farm,” “Bugsy Malone,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Our Day Out.”

One of her most memorable performances, and one that definitely struck a chord with audiences, was her performance in the hit musical “Seussical” where she took on the starring role of Gertrude McFuzz.

“My favourite part of ‘Seussical’ is absolutely the music. It has such well-written, catchy songs, and we had an amazing cast and band who did such an incredible job bringing the music to life,” admits Jackson.

The play pulls together characters from Dr. Seuss’s most famous books, mainly those from “Horton Hears a Who!,” “Horton Hatches the Egg” and “Miss Gertrude McFuzz.” When Horton the Elephant hears a sound coming from a speck of dust he is convinced that there must be someone in it– so he places it on a clover and guards it; meanwhile the surrounding community led by the villain Sour Kangaroo go to town mocking Horton without mercy, all but Gertrude McFuzz. A shy and insecure ‘bird-girl,’ Jackson’s character Gertrude McFuzz is overwhelmingly in love with Horton, but fearing he won’t notice her because of her puny tail, she goes to the doctor who prescribes her pills to take to make her tail grow. Thrilled by the immediate results, Gertrude quickly overdoses on the pills, which lead her tail to grow to an enormous length.

Jackson’s ability to bring to life such an awkward and fantastical character on stage while singing all of the dialogue was tantamount to the success of “Seussical” in Australia.

When asked how she feels on stage, Jackson said, “It’s a combination of overwhelming euphoria and varying degrees of nervousness. It is exciting, nerve-wracking and exhilarating. It’s like jumping out of a plane without a parachute! A great audience will feed you energy and contribute to the highest high there is.”

Over the years Jackson wowed countless audiences with her capacity as an actress on stage, and in 2012 she made the cross over to the film and television. Her first role on screen was on none other than four-time Golden Globe Award winning series “Glee,” which she followed up with a featured role on the Golden Globe Award winning series “Enlightened” with Laura Dern (“Jurassic Park,” “The Fault in Our Stars”). In 2013 Jackson took on a key role as Miss Merryweather’s Assistant in the film “Wiener Dog Nationals” where she acted alongside Golden Globe nominee Morgan Fairchild (“Life’s a Beach,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”) and Jason London (“The Man in the Moon,” “Jason and the Argonauts”).

From the stage to the screen actress Madalein Jackson has created a dazzling repertoire of work that reveals the dynamic nature of her craft and we’re sure we’ll be seeing a whole lot more from her as time goes on.

 

The Character Actor Swell Soubra

Actor Swell Soubra
Actor Swell Soubra shot by Joshua Shelton

Hailing from Geneva, Switzerland actor Swell Soubra has become known for his roles in a plethora of high profile film and television productions such as Stan Harrington’s (“The Practice,” “The Insomniac”) multi-award winning film drama “Lost Angels,” which took home a whopping seven awards from the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival, Frank Perry Lopez’s (“Tangerine Sky”) dramatic crime film “Three Kings Down” with award-winning actor Marcos Gracia (“Black Jacks”) and most recently, the sci-fi action series “The Last Ship.”

While Swell quickly made a name for himself in the industry as a dynamically talented actor who can breathe life into virtually any character, his professional adult life began in a field that many would consider the polar opposite of the arts– banking.

“I used to be a Swiss private banker,” recalls Swell. “But then I did a commercial for Pepsi Switzerland, which was my first step into the acting world and I loved it. I was surprised that it was actually a job.”

That transformative step, one that has taken Swell on a journey far away from the 9 to 5 and one that ultimately led him to relocate to Hollywood, happened in 2011. Since then, Swell’s career has unfolded at an impressive pace with the now internationally sought after actor being called in for a variety of roles across genres.

The Last SHip

Swell was recently tapped to play a key role in the hit series “The Last Ship.” Created by Primetime Emmy Award nominee Hank Steinberg (“The Nine”) and Steven Kane (“The Closer,” “American Dad!”), “The Last Ship” follows the crew of a naval destroyer who are forced to consider the reality of a new existence on earth when an unexplained pandemic wipes out most of earth’s population.

Acting alongside Adam Baldwin (“Full Metal Jacket,” “Independence Day”), People’s Choice Award nominee Eric Dane (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Marley & Me”) and Bridget Regan (“Jane the Virgin”), Swell Soubra comes into the series in the premiere of season 4 directed by Paul Holahan (“The Man in the High Castle”), which aired in August. Kicking off the season with a bang, the episode follows the crew of the Nathan James ship as they traverse the globe in search of a precious seed that could save the world. Swell comes in as a businessman in Morocco who is connected to the black market sales organization in charge of selling the seed. Swell’s critical performance not only showcased his rare capacity as an actor and on screen magnetism, but the role also required him to converse in both French and English, something few actors can believably achieve.

Nominated for the prestigious Saturn Award in 2015 and 2016 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, “The Last Ship,” which airs on TNT, proved to be a powerful first foray into primetime television for Swell.

Swell explains, “Playing that character was an amazing experience because of the setup. Mixing languages on set was quite fun and I enjoyed being with such a great cast… It was a wonderful experience because Warner Bros., the production company, invested a lot of money in terms of the action scenes. Working with such a versatile director who worked on so many huge TV series was quite an experience.”

Over the past six years Swell Soubra has been tapped to play a wide range of characters including everything from a man struggling with depression in the film “Alone,” which screened at the renowned Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, to a transgendered serial killer in the film “I Am Tommy Talbot.” One of the things that sets Swell apart from most other actors in the industry is the fact that he is a versatile character actor. He starred in the films “Three Kings Down,” and award-winning director Tekin Girgin’s (“Mayweather Experience Documentary,” “Here’s Johnny”) dramatic crime film “The Incision,”

Up next for Swell is the dramatic thriller film “Killer Issues” from award-winning director Jonathan Cocco ( “The Max It Show” ).