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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” ).

 

ESTEEMED FILM COMPOSER DAVID HEYMANN ON SCORING HORROR MUSIC FOR “GHOSTED”

Composer David Heymann
Film Composer David Heymann

Having started with playing the piano as his main instrument at the age of 10, David Heymann gradually got more interested in creating than performing, which eventually led him to compose and orchestrate music for films and other media. Ever since David has been involved in such productions as the video game hit “Elder Scrolls Online” as the lead orchestrator and the third installment of Sony’s “Smurfs” as part of the music department. As a composer, he has worked on countless trailers and films as the main orchestrator on a number of award-winning projects that have screened at diverse film festivals around the world. Last year David was recognized for his powerful music track “The Last Day of Hope,” for which he earned two Bronze Medal Awards from the Global Music Awards for Best Composition and Best Original Score.

His latest project was the horror-comedy film “Ghosted” by director Sevgi Cacina. “Ghosted” tells the story of an attractive woman who is being followed by a person only she can see and hear and tries to get help from a psychiatrist. Little does the psychiatrist know that he’s only being a puppet in a deadly game of lies and seductions. “Ghosted” strikes the perfect balance of jaw-dropping twists and hilariously funny moments that entertain viewers throughout the film. The film premiered at the Shriekfest Horror Film Festival in 2017, a popular festival that was founded in 2001 and is the oldest continually running genre festival in Hollywood. It’s one of the biggest and most important festivals for horror films in the world.

“It was an absolute joy to work on this movie! When I received and watched the picture-locked version for the first time, I already noticed that this wasn’t just an ordinary film. Sevgi, who wrote and directed it, has an incredible talent for telling stories. She makes everyone around her better,” David said.

“Writing music that needs to be absolutely synced to the happenings in the picture when it comes to building tension is something I love about horror films. In almost no other genre music plays such a significant part in helping to convey the feelings the director wants the viewer to go through. This not only applies when the music is supposed to enhance the picture but even more important when it’s contradicting the picture, an effect that directors sometimes are aiming for to mislead the viewer.”

Film poster for "Ghosted"

For a film like “Ghosted,” music plays an essential role, especially when it’s supposed to tell things that the viewer does not see in the picture.

“At the beginning of the movie we see the psychiatrist sitting in his office and looking something up on his computer. There’s actually nothing odd to see here, nothing that makes you feel scary or uncomfortable. But while you watch this scene the music is telling you a different story. Low cello and bass strings accompanied by a rising high strings cluster sound convey the message that something horrible, something very dark is connected to this character or is about to happen. These are things you cannot capture with the camera. That’s the composer’s task,” explained David.

Through the music he created for the movie David effectively heightened the intensity of some the film’s most thrilling scenes with his use of tension build-ups and “uncomfortable sounding” electronic synths.

“There was a lot of room for build-ups to create tension. In one scene the phone is ringing and the tension in the music keeps building until the character picks up the phone. Then the music is holding a note during the phone call and slowly builds again. Having the music buildup during the ringing of the phone and almost completely taking it out when the phone is picked up we get the viewer to pay closer attention to the content of the call,” explained David.

“As a composer, you also always try to keep the music light in terms of complexity and volume during a dialog so it doesn’t get in the way of it. Dialog is king in a movie. So having the high violins at that scene holding a note before the orchestration slowly starts growing again we’re able to get out of the way of the dialog without losing any of the subtle tension created by the high violins we’re aiming for during the call.”

The movie also provides a wonderful scene where the background sound is completely muted and the music takes over, demonstrating the power it creates in conjunction with the picture.

“Scenes like the seduction scene in ‘Ghosted,’ where there’s basically no dialog or any other sounds and your music gets prioritized to be a musical layer on top of the picture, is the kind of scene every composer loves the most in a movie because that’s where you can shine with your music and there’s no other sound that will distract from it. This scene had the ‘Basic Instinct’ theme as a temp track which worked incredibly well with the picture, so I wanted to create something similar to convey that kind of erotic but dangerous feeling that Jerry Goldsmith created in his track for ‘Basic Instinct,’” explained David.

The ending scene is an outstanding example of how David implemented synth sounds seamlessly into the overall orchestral, strings-heavy soundtrack. An electronic pad sound is mixed together with strings playing con sordino. The music is very static there with no sign of movement or any tension. This is intentionally done so the viewer doesn’t expect any sudden change. Only at the very last moment the music builds up for about one second and unveils the shocking twist moment of the film.

“Ghosted” director Sevgi Cacina said, “It was so pleasant to work with David. Even before I wrote the script I already knew I’d approach him for the scoring. It’s so important to team up with someone who understands you and your story, why and how you want to tell it and enhances it at times. David is so talented, and smart and yet so humble. He worked hard and delivered a great film score very fast. ‘Ghosted’ has so many twists in the story and I would ask the craziest things but also knew he could still find a creative way to make it happen. It was very exciting to sit down and listen to his creations whenever I received a new musical cue from him.”

 

Actor Profile: Ukraine’s Jane Kapriss!

Jane Kapriss
Actress Jane Kapriss shot by Chia Messina

Award-winning actress Jane Kapriss is known for her performances in an impressive range of films such as the romcom  “Mac Daddy & the Lovers,” which took home the Golden Reel Award from the Nevada International Film Festival, the film’s sequel “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure,” Geraldine Winters’ (“Clownstrophobia,” “Clownstrophobia 2”) thriller film “Psycho-Path: Mania” with multi-award winning actor Keith Collins (“Gravedigger,” “Awake in the Woods”) and many more.

Originally from Kiev, Ukraine Jane knew from a very young age that she would someday embark on a career as an actress.

Jane recalls, “I was interested in acting since I was a little girl. When I was 13, my mom took me to the audition at a modeling agency. They signed me and… later the agency sent me to the World Championships of Performing Arts to compete in the modeling category. I begged them to allow me to compete as an actress as well. Thankfully, they did. And as a result I won bronze medal for acting. After that acting has always been my priority.”

It’s not at all surprising that the Veni Vidi Vici modeling agency signed Jane on the spot, she is absolutely gorgeous, but it’s her talent as a performer that has ultimately put her on the map.

Jane Kapriss
Jane Kapriss on set of “Hand For Luck”

Early on in her career Jane landed a lead role in the popular Ukrainian feature film “Hand for Luck” aka “Ruka na Schaste,” where she starred alongside some of Russia’s most recognizable actors, such as Nina Antonova (“Polar Fight,” “Iron Ivan”), Golden Eagle and People’s Artist of the Republic Award winner Armen Dzhigarkhanyan (“Assassin of the Tsar,” “The Edge”) and MTV Movie Award Russia nominee Oskar Kuchera (“20 Cigarettes,” “Law of Corruption”).

A criminal action comedy, “Hand for Luck” follows Grinya (Kuchera), a shy loser who loses his hand after being run over by a car; but as luck would have it, the hospital has a fresh hand on deck to replace it– the only problem is that it came from a gangster who died in an explosion that same day, and once it’s on Grinya’s body, it tries to control the show pulling him into the life of it’s former owner.  To make matters more complex, the hand comes equipped with a ring engraved with the last 4 digits of wire transfer password that every criminal in the city wants to get their hands on. Unable to remove the ring, Grinya becomes a prime target, but with the hand of a gangster leading the way he becomes the hardest loser any criminal has ever tried to catch.

Jane gave a knock-out performance in the film as Anastasiya, the niece of feared mafia boss Krestnyy (Dzhigarkhanyan), and the original owner of the ring. Bringing the comedy into the world of cut-throat gangsters, Jane’s character Anastasiya is a teenager who just wants to make-out with her boyfriend and pass midterms, but even when the criminal dealings of her uncle overflows into her normal teen life Anastasiya remains rather oblivious to it all.

Jane Kapriss
Still of Armen Dzhigarkhanyan and Jane Kapriss in “Hand for Luck”

Jane explains, “I loved this character. She was one of my favorites. It was very funny how oblivious she was to the crime world cause she grew up in. My favorite scene to act in was the scene where she enters their living room where the shy loser in on his knees at gunpoint about to get killed. There are gangsters with guns everywhere. And she disregards all that because she has to walk through the living room to pick up the pizza delivery.”

Jane’s portrayal of Anastasiya definitely lightens the mood in the film, while also driving home the idea that even a crime boss who kills people on a daily basis still has room in his heart for family and struggles through everyday problems such as making sure his niece doesn’t run off with her boyfriend.

Produced by Zebra Productions (“Dare to Dream”), “Hand for Luck” garnered an overwhelmingly positive reception in the Ukraine upon its theatrical release in 2008, which also helped to boost Jane’s celebrity status at home.

Producer German Arkhipov, head of Zebra Productions, says .“As soon as I read the script, I knew that Jane was the perfect fit for the role of Anastasiya. And I offered her the part right away. Jane is a magnificent actress, a true professional who can make the audience laugh and cry. It is a rare gift. As a producer, I have to be sure that my project has the best actors attached to provide further success of the show. Having Jane on board means that half of my work is done.”

After carving out a strong reputation for herself as a dynamic actress in Ukraine, Jane moved to the U.S. where her onscreen career has continued to flourish. Up next for the sought after actress is an upcoming TV sitcom directed by Lana Lekarinou (“The Sparkle”) and produced by Antonia Roman (“Altruism,” “Hollywood Tale”). While we cannot disclose too much, we can say that the sitcom is co-production between That`s So Funny Entertainment and LVP Films, INC., and Jane will take on the lead role of Kitsa.

“I just want to act as much as possible. It’s never enough for me. It might be a cliche to say, but when I’m acting, I feel that I’m alive. So I just want to have a chance to keep doing that,” explains Jane.

Nicolas Jung’s Newest Film “The Way” Screening at the Chinese Theatre on Sept. 30

The Way

Creating a successful film is challenging enough, but taking on the role of writer, director and lead actor, that’s a pretty ambition step; but that’s exactly what South African native Nicolas Jung has done with the highly anticipated film “The Way.” Slated to screen at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles on Sept. 30, “The Way” revolves around Max (who’s played by Nicolas), a young man trying to cope with the loss of his sister. As the driver of the car that killed her in an accident, the paralyzing guilt Max feels makes moving on seem nearly impossible, but there is a way forward and that is the story “The Way” intends to tell.

The film, which finished production a few weeks ago has already received a positive response. Nicolas says, “I created this project from scratch, from writing the script to acting to directing and helping out with the editing. This was my baby and I am so excited of what is to come of it. When I screened it at Warner Brothers it received an amazing response with teary eyes and an encouraging applause.”

Nicolas, who’s been acting since he was in high school, is known for his impressive emotional capacity when it comes to bringing characters to life; but “The Way” is one project that definitely pushed him to new heights, especially considering he was able to act opposite his actual sister, Marcia Jung, in the film.

Nicolas says, “I hate knowing that someday I will lose my sister or someone so close to me, I, like the character, would also want to reject the thought that the person is no longer living. Max, however, has it worse as he lives with the guilt of killing his sister in a car accident. Nonetheless, it’s a situation that we all have to confront and this story is that journey.”

Known for his performances in a plethora of films, such as Nani Li Yang’s romance “Attraction,” Dulat Zhumagazin (“Welcome!”) crime drama “Warrior of Eclipse,” Daniel Bribiesca’s horror comedy “El Chupacabra,” and the upcoming action film “Bloody Hands,” which already earned the UIFF Trophy Award from the United International Film Festival for its trailer, Nicolas Jung is one actor who doesn’t ever seem to stop working.

Actor Nicolas Jung
Actor Nicolas Jung shot by Bruna Pedro

He recently wrapped production on the upcoming film “The Neighbors” from director and producer Zichen Liu (“The Loop,” “Demon’s Angel,” “My Baby My Enemy,”) a thriller film where he stars alongside Giulia Giovanetti (“Deadly Affair,” “Mistress Jane”) and Alternative Film Festival Award nominee Samuel Whitehill (“Corrupt Crimes,” “Dress Rehearsal”).

In “The Neighbors” Nicolas takes on the starring role of  Morgan, a man who falls in love with his next door neighbor’s daughter, Lilly (played by Giovanetti). After being led to believe that Lilly is being abused by her father, Morgan hatches a plan to help her escape the seemingly dire situation– but not all is as it seems in this story, and the final twist is assured to be one that keeps audiences holding on to their seats.

Nicolas says, “I enjoyed this project because it was about young naive love in addition to being a thriller. It really shows that you never really know a person, and how easily it is to be deceived when you’re blinded by what you think is love.”

For Nicolas, acting is a way of telling powerful stories that need to be told while inspiring and entertaining audiences around the world.

He says, “So many people can be reached through this craft that it’s an essential platform to convey messages and information that can have a positive impact on their daily lives. Typically all the films I work on have some sort of message that I think is worth telling.”

Last year Jung gave a knockout performance in the film “Losing Life,” which did incredibly well on the festival circuit taking home the Diamond Award from the International Independent Film Awards, the awards for Best Actor and Best Director from the Los Angeles Film Awards, the Festival Award from the Festigious International Film Festival, as well as several other awards at Los Angeles Cinefest, Global Shorts Los Angeles and the Top Shorts Monthly Film Festival.

“Losing Life” director Musab Alamri (“Hot Weather,” “Separation”) says,“Nicolas’ raw talent has the ability to bring any character to life, whether they are big or small, he always finds a way to make the character unique to the storyline; he is truly gifted.”

Up next for Nicolas is the feature film “The Truth.” The feature, which is expected to begin filming in the beginning of 2018, actually began as a TV series pilot cowritten by Nicolas.

Nicolas explains, “The concept is great as it touches on racial profiling, something that is quite common in society. Once we completed the filming, it became clear that there was more to the project that we could dive into. After screening the episode we got a good response from the audience, because it touches a topic that not many people discuss.”

In the film Nicolas will take on the starring role of Jake, a suspended FBI agent who hopes to reclaim his position and former prestige by unveiling a non-muslim terrorist group hiding under the guise of Islam.

Film Financing Today by the Experts

Traditional financial models are a thing of the past, with digital platforms offering a double-edged sword of bigger buying with hard-hitting competition, and with economic volatility overseas, many experts say global independent film financing is riskier than ever.

Indeed, studios released today are only franchises, “We’re in a period of uncertainty, both domestically and internationally,” told IM Global CFO Miguel Palos to Variety. Other industry heavyweights like Weinstein Co. COO/President David Glasser says, “In the U.S., you used to say, ‘If my budget is $30 [million]-$35 million and I spend $20 million on P&A, I’ll get a minimum amount from home video and a minimum MG from certain territories.’ Now Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others are creating so much content that it’s difficult to model out what return you’ll get on your investment.”

Though the scenery is wobbly, some specialists note that the opportunities are superior now more than ever. “Independent financiers are now instrumental in the backing of almost every independent movie inside and outside of studio slates, and more often, they’re the ones that greenlight many of the most successful commercial films,” says executive producer and financial expert Angel Cassani. “This is not what the business looked like 10 years ago.”

Angel has made incredible strides on an international scale as the executive producer of critically acclaimed films such as the fast paced assassin film “Hell’s Chain” with Latin American action star Hector Echavarria from “Los extermineitors,” one of Argentina’s most successful action films in history. As an expert finance guru and film producer, Angel knows exactly what it takes to produce a high-grossing film, and his keen attention to changes in the market combined with his ability to adapt is what keeps him ahead of the curve.

Angel says, “The increased risk is moving financiers to focus on either $10 to $20 million-and-under films, and to partner with studios on select features above $60 million, where you can hopefully protect the majority of it from international presales,” Angel also believes that. “Budgets are probably lower now for international distributors, and how much product they can acquire has lessened.”

Angel has produced successful independent films and now is set to play a big part in Hollywood. Since entering the industry in 2009 as the producer of the film “Never Surrender,” starring Hector Echavarria (“Death Warrior,” “Unrivaled”), award-winning actor James Russo (“Django Unchained,” “Not a Stranger,” “Donnie Brasco”) and Patrick Kilpatrick (“Minority Report”), Angel has continued to make a powerful mark in the industry internationally. And much of that success comes from the fact that he has not only found a niche and ever-growing market by focusing on producing films that tie in the popularity of the world of UFC fighting, but also because he knows how to adapt to the demands of the industry.

An informal survey of sellers points to some of the top buyers in key international territories: eOne in the U.K., Australia, and Canada; StudioCanal in France, Germany, and the U.K.; along with several other well-capitalized distributors such as Universum, TeleMunchen, and Constantin in Germany; Metropolitan and SND in France; Roadshow in Australia; Elevation in Canada; and Entertainment Film Distributors in the U.K. “And In a lot of circumstances, we’re selling to studios’ international divisions, whether it be Sony or Universal or LionsGate,” says Solution Entertainment Group co-founder Myles Nestel.

Angel Cassani is one producer/financier taking a new approach to the way he leads the film business. “When I started producing seven years ago, there was seemingly one way we made films. We fully financed them and didn’t need foreign pre-sales in order to cash flow the film, or need to sell them for distribution to greenlight them,” says Angel. “That’s all still true, except now it feels like each movie has a creative way to be made so I have come up with the perfect formula that make sense and we are now implementing and is working at perfection.”

“China is recognizably much more significant,” Angel says, “and even though you get a smaller percentage of the box office with what the government gets to take, it’s only rising at great speed.”

Angel is known for producing some of the best fight films in recent years, such as the action-packed love story “Death Calls” starring Echavarria, Yolanda Pecoraro (“Dancing Still,” “Death Tunnel”) and Ron Roggé from the five-time Emmy Award winning series “Stranger Things,” and Echavarria’s recent film “No Way Out,” which stars “Machete” star Danny Trejo as the villain and the dazzling Estella Warren (“Transparency”)  In order to increase the profit margin, Angel brilliantly decided to have the film “No Way Out” released on Blu-Ray and DVD in Germany where he saw a special opportunity to increase sales, in addition to having the film theatrically released in the U.S.

As for new trends in film financing, Angel says while the basic formula has remained the same — a combination of debt and equity from P&A lenders, mezzanine lenders, and money providers — “there are several new mezzanine players in the marketplace who are taking a more aggressive position than traditional lenders like the banks would.”

“Any producer looking at a program has to think about an incentives certainty in the law, in the process, and in the funding, to be sure the state or country actually has the money to pay you,” he says.

Atlanta, New York, and New Mexico are now among the top selections due to their incentives and organization, and he’s also seen a recent tendency of producers heading to Canada to take advantage of a 20%-25% tax rebate, on top of federal and provincial encouragements.

In China Dalian Wanda Group and the Qingdao municipal government’s new 40% rebate (offering $750 million over five years to attract productions) possibly impacting U.S. productions that might else go to Australia, Canada, etc.

The much-discussed arrival of Netflix and other high-end digital platforms has proven to be a mixed blessing.

Netflix is a much-appreciated buyer, “especially with U.S. distributors that have gone into bankruptcy in the last few years, and in this tumultuous period where you’re not sure if companies are going to be able to continue their services,” Palos of IM Global notes.

The ways financiers and sellers are acclimating reveal growing tendencies in global financing: more co-funding partnerships, more companies developing TV divisions, and a greater emphasis on developing projects with international appeal.

“Producers have to be open to change, take more risks, create content that’s not as U.S.-centric,” Angel says, “and not necessarily follow traditional models over the next few years, since things are up in the air.”

 

Costume Design is a Family Affair for Romania’s Claudia Sarbu

Claudia Sarbu
Costume Designer Claudia Sarbu shot by Marius Vilanus

Romanian costume designer Claudia Sarbu is living proof that the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree. Creating the styles and wardrobes for entire worlds’ worth of characters is both a gift and a reward for Sarbu, who has been immersed in and enamored with the glamor of costume design her entire life.

“My mother was a women’s tailor in the studio workshop when I was a little kid, so I more or less grew up around that world,” Sarbu said. “You could see the studio lot from our apartment window, we were so close.”

Her mother realized early on that her daughter was gifted, and she was in the perfect position to foster that gift. Sarbu learned from her mother, worked together with her, and when the time came for her to step into the professional world her mother was there to point her in the right direction.

“She’s the one who put me up for ‘Gunpowder, Treason and Plot,’ a period piece for BBC,” Sarbu recalled. “I fell in love with that world, with creating costumes for a type of character, with the world behind the camera and with the process of translating a sketch into an actual garment to go on screen. To me, the people who made that possible were wizards and I wanted to be one of them.”

A historical bio-drama set in the 16th century and following the scandal- and intrigue-rich reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, “Gunpowder, Treason and Plot” was a golden opportunity for Sarbu. The BBC miniseries was a hit among critics and cleaned house at the renowned Biarritz International Film Festival, where it was awarded four prestigious Golden FIPAs in the TV Series and Serial category; among those honored for their work on the series were actress Clémence Poésy (“Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” parts one and two) and actor Kevin McKidd (“Brave,” “Trainspotting,” “Grey’s Anatomy”). In addition to being Sarbu’s first chance to distinguish herself as a powerful creative force in the field of costume design – which she did with aplomb – it was also where she became certain of what she wanted to spend her life doing.

“I realized I was in an environment that was perfect for me. I remember Nic Ede, the designer, telling me ‘You got this!’ at the end of the project. I was so passionate about it and it was obvious,” Sarbu said. “I absorbed everything like a sponge. I wanted to learn everything I could.”

So began her illustrious career, and though her talent was undeniably immense from the start, it has since grown exponentially as she’s continued to chart new and unexplored territories as a designer. In 2012 Sarbu’s skill was again on full display with the German film “Bissige Hunde” about a detective, a bank robbery, and a hard choice between duty and family.

“‘Bissige Hunde,’ or ‘Vicious Dogs,’ is set in a small German town and follows the complicated relationship between police officer Arved and his teenage son Jacob. Both are dealing with the loss of Arved’s wife – Jacob’s mother – in different ways,” Sarbu described. “Arved is forced into an extreme situation when his son robs a bank and [Arved’s] the one leading the operation to rescue the hostages. He’s torn between doing his job… and the guilt and responsibility he feels for his lost son… It’s a wonderfully told story about love, acceptance and forgiveness.”

Claudia Sarbu
Carlo Pogglioli (left) and Claudia Sarbu (right) dress a background actor for “The Zero Theorem”

Following “Bissige Hunde” Sarbu worked to create the styles and costumes for an array of projects. Among her ventures are the 2013 Saturn Award-nominated “The Zero Theorem,” directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam (“Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”). After “The Zero Theorem” the incorrigible young Sarbu once again exhibited her superior design talent and vision with her contributions to the 2014 blockbuster smash hit “Divergent.”

“Divergent is a fantasy movie set in a dystopian future where the world is divided into factions, each with a restrictive set of personality traits,” Sarbu said. “The costumes needed to translate each faction and show what each embodied — power, intelligence, candor, kindheartedness and selflessness — either through color, shape, or texture. We needed to create a uniformed world that was clearly divided.”

To that end, Sarbu excelled. Just as with “Gunpowder,” “Bissige Hunde” and all her other countless projects, “Divergent” bears all the hallmarks of Sarbu’s visionary aesthetic instinct.

“I’m passionate about storytelling, and I think costume design is a very important part of that,” she said. “I always, always have the story’s best interest in mind.”

 

Inside Scoop: SIC To Begin Production on Two New Projects

Inside Scoop: SIC To Begin Production on Two New Projects

Story by Alex Jack

 

SIC productions will soon begin production on two new projects, in what sources are describing to our editors as what will be “two vastly different, but both hugely impactful stories.”

The first is the television series “Viral,” a spin on the sci-genre format will blend thriller-drama genres in its story about a group of scientists attempting to save humanity from an alien virus. New Zealand star Sophie Renée will play the lead role of Emma Greene, one of the scientists. Naresh Kumar is playing the supporting lead role of Johnny, and previously worked with SIC productions on the world-renowned short film “Cyberversity”. Kaisania Calubaquib is attached to direct. If the casting of such high-caliber talent as Emma and Kumar wasn’t enough, Calubaquib’s association brings with it even more credence. Calubaquib, who won the  Best Director in NYC Indie Film Awards 2017, Platinum Award Best Short in NYC Indie Film Awards 2017, and the the Grand Jury Prize Best Short in UMFF 2017, is said to be “incredibly excited” at the prospect of working both with SIC and his leading actors.

Acclaimed actor Naresh Kumar in “Cyberversity,” one of SIC’s well-known productions.

Renée, most well known for her role in “The Velvet Hour,” won the Award of Excellence in the 2017 International Freethought Film Festival in Orlando, Florida for her work. She proudly explains that “it was also the first time that I got that I got to use my French language skills in the acting world!” Renée recently worked in a critical role with hugely famous French star Francis Lalanne on a secret project. Via our editors, Sophie proudly added: “I was also lucky enough to be taken under his wing throughout our time together and the emotional support that he gave me is something that I will forever be in his debt for.”

Sophie Renée
Sophie Renée will play Emma Greene in “Viral.”

The second of SIC’s projects due to begin shooting any day now couldn’t be further from the sci-fi genre. “Singled Out,” a feature film that it is said to be in the grittier vein of Bradley Cooper-vehicle “A Place Beyond the Pines” and the Oscar-nominated “Hell or High Water,” instead explores drugs, crime and corruption in the Atlanta Police Department. In the role of James Montgomery, who our editors believe could either be an anti-hero or a traditional protagonist, is UK star Neil Reidman. Reidman, who shares the screen with superstar Nicole Kidman for Etihad’s global advertising campaign, is said to be thrilled at joining such an eminent production. While the exact release date of “Singled Out” hasn’t been identified, SIC have exclusively revealed to us that it will most definitely be in cinemas in 2018, likely in contention for the 2019 awards season. Such strategic release plays at the Oscar-race are frequently looked upon with cynicism, but given SIC’s track-record of highly-regarded films and the Academy’s response to films like “Moonlight,” it’s looking likely that “Singled Out” will be a strong contender.

Neil Reidman
Famed thespian Neil Reidman will play James Montgomery in the feature film, “Singled Out” for SIC Productions.

Reidman, often recognised for his portrayal of Lieutenant Atillo in “Doctor Who,” is currently shooting an undisclosed feature. While the details have to stay under-wraps, it’s understood the project is highly-anticipated and will bring the actor even more fans worldwide. The classically trained actor, who also starred in Laurence Olivier Award winning stage shows on the West End in key roles, including “Big Life,” will go straight from his wrap party to the shoot of “Singled Out.” He also played critical roles in the hugely-successful TV shows “Holby City,” “Doctors” and “Casualty” and is repped by some of the most powerful agents in entertainment.

Dani Bryan, CEO of SIC, has worked with numerous major brands such as Michelob Ultra, AutoTrader, DSW, Lincoln Navigator, and Facebook. The extension of SIC’s line-up with these two projects, and the addition of such-high caliber stars, will undoubtedly allow Bryan to wield more power in the business.

More Than Just a Music Video Heroine: Swedish Actress Josefin Nilsson

Actress Josefin Nilsson
Actress Josefin Nilsson shot by Tajna Tanovic

Audiences across the globe, hip-hop fans especially, will recognize Swedish bombshell Josefin Nilsson for her featured role in an impressive list of music videos in recent years, but her skill as an actress extends far beyond simply playing a music video heroine, although she does that incredibly well.

Earlier this year Nilsson was featured in the music video for Mike WiLL Made-It’s hit song “Perfect Pint” featuring Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, and Rae Sremmurd. In the video, which was released in May and has already garnered nearly 15 million views on YouTube, Nilsson comes onto the scene as a gargantuan model whose legs the rappers driving a car between as she towers over the desert. Later on in the video fans will see Nilsson fly across the screen riding a rocket through the air, a trippy video to say the least.

Nilsson recalls, “The first music video I was a part of was actually a Chris Brown music video for the song ‘Bitches N Marijuana.’ I grew up idolizing Chris so the thought of actually being wanted for his video felt a little crazy at first.”  

In addition to  “Bitches N Marijuana Feat. ScHoolboy Q,” a 2015 collaboration between Brown and Tyga that earned over 20 million YouTube views, Nilsson has been featured in a number of Grammy Award winning artist Chris Brown’s other music videos, such as those for the hit songs “Grass Ain’t Greener,” which garnered more than 60 million views on YouTube, as well as Gucci Mane’s 2017 hit “Tone it Down” featuring Brown.

Actress Josefin Nilsson
Still of Josefin Nilsson from the “Perfect Pint’ music video

While Nilsson, who attended The Ballet Academy, one of Sweden’s most prestigious dance schools, has definitely made an impact with her featured performances in several hit music videos, her performances in films such as the startling horror flick Darkest Decision prove her strong capacity as an leading lady on film.

In Darkest Decision, which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Northern Frights Festival, Nilsson gives a riveting performance in the starring role of Cara Fox. Directed by Derek Quick (Fist Full of Glove, Lovisa, Set Ettiquette), Darkest Decision is a zombie film that follows a group of friends running for their lives, with Nilsson’s character Cara serving as the hero of the movie.

After being chased down by a bevy of bloodthirsty zombies, Cara, Darren and Jay lock themselves indoors, escaping in the knick of time. However, when Cara realizes Darren, played by Shane Liburd, has been infected, she has to make the pragmatic, but cold decision to kill him on the spot before he turns.

In Darkest Decision actress Josefin Nilsson nails her mark as the film’s fierce female hero, while also imbuing her character with just enough fear to make the situation believably terrifying. In the film Nilsson stars alongside Asians on Film Festival Winter Award winner Daniel Joo (Art of Deception, Fortune 500 Man), Diego T. Kuri (Life as a Mermaid, Golden State), and Mari Ørstavik (Killing Time in America, A Dolls House).

darkest decision film poster
Josefin Nilsson on the poster for the film “Darkest Decision”

About working on the film, Nilsson says, “It was really a great experience being a part of this project. It was a great team and the other lead Daniel Joo is such a great actor, I was blessed to work next to him on this film.”

Before making her way to Hollywood several years ago, actress Josefin Nilsson took to the screen in Sweden where she took on numerous critical roles in high profile productions such as the family romance film Eve & Adam: Four Birthdays & a Fiasco directed by two-time Guldbagge Award winner Catti Edfeldt, the International Emmy Award nominated series Laura Trenter- Fire! aka Det Brinner,  and the dramatic thriller Medicinmannen.

Up next for the actress is the film 7 Days a Kingpin, which is slated to begin filming later this year and will be directed by Paul Bunch (Waiting for Michelle, Crossing the Line, Thy Will Be Done).

Nilsson says, “I am super excited for the feature film ’7 Days as a Kingpin.’ I will be playing one of the leads and it will be great to be a part of such a big production. Daveigh Chase, known for ‘Donnie Darko,’ is starring in it and big producers like Scott Reid and John Ryan Jr. are a part of it.”

Background in Focus: UK Costume Designer Jemima Penny

Costume Designer Jemima Penny

 

While most creatives take many years to find their true calling and turn it into a career, often times there are hints during childhood as to the direction their artistry will later take, and London-based costume designer Jemima Penny is no exception.

Penny recalls, “I was always drawn to costumes. As a little girl my favorite game was ‘dressing up.’ I never wanted bought costumes, I’d always make them up myself.”

Over the past decade Penny has become known internationally for her work as the costume designer on a wide range of projects, including films such as the popular Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth, which was nominated for a prestigious BAFTA Film Award for Best Documentary in 2015, the dramatic mystery film In The Dark Half starring Jessica Barden from the Golden Globe nominated series Penny Dreadful, the comedy film Where Have I Been All Your Life? with two-time Primetime Emmy Award winner James Corden (Into the Woods), and many more.

“I was always fascinated by how people define themselves and send messages to wider society about who they are through the way they dress. So I naturally gravitate towards character work over trend. And of course, storytelling is one of the most important and basic human needs. Its how we communicate and pass messages on to one another. So to be able to be part of this industry is a wonderful thing,” explains Penny about what led her to pursue her career as a costume designer.

Penny recently wrapped production on multi-award winning director Jonathan Hopkins’ (Goodbye Mr. Snuggles)  upcoming horror film Slumber, which is slated to be released later this year and stars Maggie Q (Live Free or Die Hard, Mission: Impossible III), Will Kemp (Reign, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce) and Sylvester McCoy (Sense8, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

The film follows Alice, played by Maggie Q, a rationally minded sleep doctor who, after finding no plausible scientific explanation for the terror an entire family of clients faces while they’re asleep, is forced to abandon reason and accept the existence of the ‘Night Hag.’ In Slumber, we realize that this supposed mythical creature who paralyzes her victims while they’re asleep, one who’s been referenced and written about by practically every culture since the beginning of time, may not be as mythical as everyone believes.

Poster for Slumber
Poster for the upcoming film “Slumber”

For the upcoming film costume designer Jemima Penny has done a thoroughly brilliant job of representing the changing mental states of the characters into their wardrobe, which in the case of this film in particular, changes drastically over the course of the film, at least for some. One of the most drastic visual changes in wardrobe style that audiences will immediately notice is that of Q’s character Alice.

“Alice, the main character is a rational, scientific person who likes to have total control over every element of her life. She is ordered and methodical. However over the course of the film she starts to unravel as the Night Hag becomes more real to her,” explains Penny.

“We used her costumes to help depict this journey. At the beginning of the film she is very put together. Her clothing reflects her character– buttoned up, stylish, sleek, conservative and coordinated… As the film progresses and Alice’s mental state deteriorates we gravitate to more casual, rougher looks– jeans, boots and tees… and the colour palette becomes more earthy and darker.”

The reason Penny has become such a recognizable and sought after costume designer in the industry is due to more than just her skilled abilities as a designer and seamstress. At the end of the day her success can be attributed to the rare and unique way that she gets inside the head of each character she designs for… it’s the methodical way that she breaks down their personality, changing emotions and the outer circumstances that they can’t control to design their wardrobe scene by scene that makes her such a powerful force in her field.

Slumber star Maggie Q says, “Jemima is one of my favorite designers. Not only does she have an incredible sense of style, that is evident in all her work no matter what the brief, but she is totally dedicated to getting the costumes right for the piece, which, for an actor, is such an essential part of being able to fully become immersed in a role.”

Bringing such talent to the table, it is not at all surprising that Slumber is not Jemima Penny’s first time working as a costume designer on one of Jonathan Hopkins’ films. Earlier on in her career she served as the costume designer on his comedy film Minimus, which earned the Festival Award from the 2013 Chicago Comedy Festival. The genres alone reveal the polar opposite nature of the previous project compared to their most recent collaboration, but clearly Penny’s talent as a costume designer proves that her skill exceeds the limitation of any particular genre– or medium for that matter.

“Johnny and I have worked together for a long time. We started making TV commercials together nearly 10 years ago and have built a solid understanding of each other’s work. So after an initial meeting Johnny will ask me to develop designs for the piece and we have a very collaborative process… he is always open to new ideas and trusts in the rest of his creative team to bring valuable input to the project,” says Penny about working with director Jonathan Hopkins.

In addition to making a strong impact as a costume designer in the world of film, Penny has also created a dazzling repertoire of work that includes music videos, such as Calvin Harris’ ‘Sweet Nothing’ feat. Florence Welch, which has over 200 million views on Youtube, as well as an overwhelming list of commercials for globally recognized brands such as Nike, Virgin Media, ITV’s The X Factor, the BBC, Cadbury, Dyson, Disney, Absolut Vodka and many more.

Up next for costume designer Jemima Penny is Primetime Emmy nominee Polly Draper’s (Thirtysomething, Demolition) film Stella’s Last Weekend starring Nat Wolff (Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars) and Alex Wolff (Coming Through the Rye, Patriots Day), as well as the upcoming film Farming, which is set in Great Britain in the 1970s and follows a Nigerian child who grows up in a white working class family and ultimately becomes the leader of a skinhead white supremacist gang.

About the upcoming film Farming, Penny says, “It’s a heart wrenching terrifying look at racism in the not too distant past and it should be a very powerful piece. It’s also a fantastic era for costume.”