Category Archives: Artist

Actor Elvira Sinelnik Makes Dreams Come True

Actor Elvira Sinelnik has perfected both the art and science which her profession demands. As a raw, expressive emotional conduit and precise, impeccable technician Sinelnik is an unrivaled practitioner, one capable of presenting wholly convincing, on-target characterizations. And while her native Moscow has deep roots in the dramatic arts, Sinelnik’s early career path was something like a fairy tale with a modern twist—the naturally talented golden girl caught in the corporate web of Russia’s monolithic bureaucracy who made a surprise Hollywood elopement live out to follow her dreams.

“I was born and raised in Russia, Moscow,” Sinelnik said. ““From my childhood I dreamt of becoming an actress, attended acting classes, dance classes, took part in a lot of plays in camps during summer holidays. When I was 16 I was cast as a host for a show on a very famous TV channel, but due to some personal and family reasons I had to reject it.”

Despite pressure that pushed her in the opposite direction, the tenacious Sinelnik refused to give up.

“Regardless of my education in economics at the State University of Management, followed by prestigious and well-paid job in the upper chamber of the Russian Federation parliament and a number of private companies, I always dreamed, studied and prepared to become an actress. It required time and effort but I finally moved to Hollywood to pursue my dream.”

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Photo by Maria Artos (Top Photo by @K.i.n.o.f.a.c.e)

In Southern California, Sinelnik immersed herself in the craft seeking out some of the leading forces in the field, studying at the prestigious Los Angeles campus followed by courses with the leading educators.

“My acting education continued at well-known Broadway actor-writer William Burns’ Actors Gym,” Sinelnik said. “Also James Franco’s Studio 4, the Bernard Hiller Studio theatre by, and classes with award winning instructor Anthony Montes where I learned the Meisner technique.”

The skilled young actor was a natural and she thrived in the studio setting. “Elvira is a very special person,” Hiller, one of Hollywood’s top Acting and Life Coaches, said. “I wassurprised at how quickly she understood all the latest acting techniques I taught her. She has a unique ability to become the person she is playing in a role and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be lucky.”

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Photo by Justinia Romanova

Montes was equally enthusiastic: “In my 30 years of teaching Elvira is one of the most talented, hard-working actors I have ever encountered. She constantly sought out more work than was given her. She was always prepared, on time and supportive of her classmates. She has a passion for the work that is unmatched. She is not one to idly wait for her phone to ring in hopes of getting an audition—she is someone that will create her own opportunities.”

Sinelnik quickly moved on to independent shorts and the grind of the audition circuit.

“I audition for a feature movie where I played mafia boss, a cold-blooded, cynical, power-hungry woman,” Sinelnik said. “I became so caught up in the character that even my husband didn’t recognize me when I came back from the audition. I got the part, but for some financial reasons the film wasn’t shoot. But that experience was truly amazing.”

In short order, she began to appear in such feature films as Franco’s dark,intense “The Institute,” Kasra Farabani’s thriller “The Good Neighbor,” Jaden Hwang action film “Bloody Hands,” all fabulous opportunities for Sinelnik to gain additional exposure and work alongside stellar cast featuring luminaries like Franco, Orlando Brown and James Can.

“Being on set with James Franco for ‘The Institute,’ was wonderful,” Sinelnik said. “I was playing a nurse, but felt more like a fan. It was a really incredible experience to observe how he becomes immersed in his character and always be absolutely truthful on camera.”

None of this was lost on Sinelnik, whose depth of talent and ability, taken with an acute regard for, and total absorption of, her particularly rich resume of dramatic training, qualifies her as one of Hollywood’s fastest rising assets.

As Willow Tree Entertainment Films producer Elena Bleskina said: “I met Elvira when I was casting for a feature film project based on the novel ‘A Hero of Our Time.’ I saw something very special in this pretty girl with the beautiful blue eyes, and now she is a part of our team at Willow Tree. Elvira is sensitive and sensual actress willing to train hard to become the best she can be.  I am proud to know her and I know there are lots of successful projects in her future.”

Look for her next in dramatic forthcoming feature “City of Stars,” further evidence that the ambitious, charming Sinelnik is up for just about any conceivable role the dramatic spectrum can throw at her.

“I’m interested in challenging characters,” Sinelnik said. “Roles that force me to leave my comfort zone, immerse into my deep fears and overcome them through the role. I’d love to play a really bad character. I would find inside of myself one of her negative features, even the smallest one, and develop that into a full-fledged personality. I want to create inspiring films that can change people’s thoughts, and give even more hope to this fantastic world.”

 

 

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Dancer Mao Kawakami Glows on Stage and Screen

Japanese dancer Mao Kawakami’s graceful, kinetic precision and peerless creativity have earned her a fabulous career. Whether appearing on the movie screen, touring with major pop stars or performing show stopping numbers at major televised award shows, Kawakami’s vibrant, high-energy style commands attention. Even in an ensemble troupe setting, the charismatic Kawakami stands out—audiences can’t take their eyes off her.

The Los Angeles based Kawakami’s fascination with dance has been life-long. “At age 3, I was going crazy dancing with my fairy stick at home,” Kawakami said. “So my mom put me into a ballet studio, which turned out to be amazing! I was strictly a ballerina until I joined a dance club in middle school and was introduced to hip hop “

photo: Joseph Cultice

Even at this young age, Kawakami remained focused, steadily expanding upon her foundational training and always progressing. “I moved to Canada when I was 15,” Kawakami said. “I went to dance studio after school almost every day and that’s when I learned all genres in dance, because I wanted to learn more and have fun. I grew a lot as a dancer and teachers and choreographers also started to notice ne. The dance industry world seems really big yet it really is such a small world, so choreographers always talk to each other and you never know who’s watching.”

By the time she arrived in Hollywood, the stars were aligning in Kawakami’s favor, and while the dancer’s professional life is often a fast moving course of one-off freelance gigs, Kawakami easily established a steadily building momentum.

“Once I got to L.A. and started to work with on music videos, the choreographers referred me to other big name choreographers,” Kawakami said. “I was working with Oththan Burnside [MC Hammer, Snoop Dogg, Rihanna] a lot, music videos for Keyshia Cole and some other projects, and she referred me to Jamaica Craft, who choreographs TLC, Usher, NE-YO, Justin Bieber, she was looking for a dancer the FOX Teen Choice Awards. I got the job and that’s when my career grew from small projects to big award shows and tours.”

 

photo: Wes Klain

Things began to move fast for the ambitious young dancer. Before long she was getting assignments for jobs with alternative hip-hop sensations N.E.R.D., interpretive dance collaborations for pop princess Pink and hitting the road with rap superstar Iggy Azalea—some of the best, most high profile performance opportunities in all of show business. Kawakami’s signature combination of high energy, interpretive skill and flawless execution make her an in-demand asset to any dance presentation.

“I have worked with Mao on multiple gigs,” Burnside  said. “She ‘gets’ all aspects of work and has an ability to figure it out, in a matter of seconds, which makes things easier for all of us. Her presence is like a diamond—she brightens up the stage and makes the whole production look better. That’s the reason I keep hiring her.”

Kawakami’s sterling professional reputation professionalism and very impressive roster of credits are the result of one thing—her artistry. Her innate gift for dance colors every aspect of her life on stage, and off stage, and Kawakami embraces her art, life and career as equal parts of a holistic philosophy,

“My career really grew when I started to know myself more as a person,” Kawakami said. “Not only as a dancer, but also as a whole person. That is a big part of any successful career. Even if you’re a really good dancer, if you can’t figure out who you are, you just don’t glow the same. I think you glow the most when everything is aligned; your dance, your personality, character, and your health, mentally and physically. Everything shows from the inside out, and when I figured this out, I definitely started to book more jobs.”

photo: Wes Klain

Kawakami is rarely found relaxing at home between gigs and is constantly expanding her skillset and exploring new avenues of creative expression. “I love touring!! You get to see different cities and countries on top of doing a job you love.” Kawakami said. “But I also love doing movies—I just played the new Bella in Pitch Perfect 3. I got to work with my favorite choreographer Aakomon Jones and also learned to act and took vocal lessons. Singing and dancing require extra energy, so we took boot camp classes at night to keep our shapes. The whole movie experience was so amazing, we got to shoot at the biggest aquarium in the states in front of huge whales and turtles! The process went by so quickly but I would do it all over again.”

Kawakami’s intoxicating mix of raw talent, striking good looks, dynamic moves and limitless enthusiasm for her work places the dancer in a league of her own, one where she has already achieved great success and stands poised to ascend ever higher in the entertainment world.

“Everything is connected,” she said. “One experience fuels another, and that fuels another. It’s a chain reaction. So if you experience a lot, your creative flow just becomes so smooth and colorful. Dance is my job but it always has also been my escape, it is like therapy to me. It helps me express things that I can’t say with words, it is a nonverbal communication. It is art.”

Tooba Rezaei experiences the magic of touching hearts through ‘A Sweet Dream’

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A Sweet Dream film poster

One of the most unique joys of being an artist is knowing that your work evokes raw, human emotions within those around you. Visual arts have the ability to transcend the mundane aspects of human life and to push people to explore themselves and the world around them. Over time, art has created change. It has inspired and influenced. It has created chaos and disruption, and it has birthed a community of dreamers, and creators. It has produced renowned artists like Tooba Rezaei, whose passion has allowed her to touch the lives of several different people throughout her career. For Rezaei, the true joy of her craft comes from the platform it gives her to make people feel things that they may not otherwise have the chance to feel. She gets to tell stories and to motivate her audiences to dream without limits.

When Rezaei was a child, she would immerse herself in cartoon television shows. When each show ended, she would take her pen and paper and challenge herself to draw all of her favorite characters. She was energized by the feeling of her pencils exploring the paper and loved the creating things that hadn’t otherwise existed. As she grew up, she continued to test her skills against various mediums and art forms within the field of visual arts. This led her to discover the wonderful world of animation, a world in which she feels that she belongs. She has a natural affinity for bringing her drawings to life via animation and loves the dynamics that the motion brings to her artwork. As an animator, Rezaei has created a number of well-known animations, such as her original animation, A Sweet Dream. Prior to creating A Sweet Dream, however, Rezaei experienced her first sense of impacting the lives of others through her artwork with her animations for the game SilverFit.

SilverFit was a game designed specifically for use by an older demographic. Essentially, it is a virtual therapy system to be used to train gross motor skills and ADL tasks during rehabilitation sessions. The game presents the necessary exercises for elderly individuals to follow along with and keep their muscles working accordingly. Since its inception, the game received great success and is now used by over 20,000 individuals a week. As SilverFit’s first designer, Rezaei acted as the background designer, background painter, character designer, and character animator. She designed a wide variety of different games, each based on the use of different motor skills to suit the game’s intended audience. In working for SilverFit, Rezaei got a taste of what it felt like to know that her work would directly aid in helping improve the health of its target audience. It gave Rezaei’s art a meaningful sense of purpose and she was addicted to the high of helping those around her. SilverFit’s founder and managing director, Maaike Dekkers-Duijts, was blessed to have Rezaei on board for the project. Her talents exceeded far beyond simply animating.

“Her animations really seem to come alive. They really ‘touch’ you. She is a great artist, creating extraordinarily beautiful animations. She is so artistic and has exceptional talent,” regarded Dekkers-Duijts.

After the success of Silverfit, Rezaei then extended her talents to the children’s show Parparook for Persian Gulf TV. Parparook (meaning ‘Pinwheel’ in the South of Iran) is a special program that is produced and distributed in Kahlije Fars IRIB (Islamis Repablic of Iran Broadcasting, also known as Persian Gulf). Rezaei wrote, directed, designed, painted and animated all the characters and all the objects on the background of Parparook, creating everything from scratch and differentiating her shorts from everything on the show. The producer and manager of the program were so happy with results that years later they used some of Rezaei’s work for other kid’s television programs as well.

Knowing that she had always wanted to create her own animated story, she knew that in order for it to be truly worth her while, she would need to give it an element of social influence. She wanted to do more than just entertain, and out of this determination, A Sweet Dream was born. A Sweet Dream can be described as a bittersweet, allegorical look at the desires of a little girl who wants the world to see her talents shine through her difficult life circumstances. Not only did Rezaei animate this project from start to finish, she also wrote and directed the storyline. To fit with the animated short’s premise, Rezaei felt it fitting to use a simple, two dimensional, flat design. In fact, she felt that the simplicity of the drawings was imperative to the overall mood she was attempting to portray. She wanted it to seem as if the little girl could’ve drawn the lines and shapes herself, making her world easier to relate to for her audience. Rezaei then added a second element to her design concept by showcasing the little girl’s reality through dark blue tones and contrasting it with her dream state, which Rezaei colored in golden tones.

“In her dream world, forms are curvaceous and delicate. There is dance and movement and inspiration. However, in reality, she is in an orphanage and the forms of the beds and the room are sharp and straight with harsh angles, alluding to her real-life struggles and difficulties,” said Rezaei.

Rezaei hoped that A Sweet Dream would challenge her audience to question their own harsh realities and evaluate them against their own hopes and dreams. She wanted them to think about how they would react if they were in the little girl’s shoes. Would their dreams be squandered by their reality? According to Rezaei, if we don’t push ourselves to understand the lives of others, we can never truly improve our society as a whole and make our collective world a better place. She felt as though A Sweet Dream helped to remind her why she does the work that she does. Seeing her audiences shed tears over her story solidified the reality that this is exactly what she wants to be doing and that she had succeeded in her efforts to make them stop and think about the consequences of their actions.

After screening at a number of different film festivals, A Sweet Dream even went on to win Best Animation at the Los Angeles CineFest, as well as Finalist in Animation Short at both the International Film Awards in Berlin, Germany, as well as at Constatine’s Gold Coin Festival in Serbia. If you wish to experience the magic, watch A Sweet Dream for yourself and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Image by Tooba Rezaei, captured from ‘A Sweet Dream’

Graphic Designer Suzy van der Velden beautifully captured surf lifestyle for O’Neill

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Designer Suzy van der Velden

Suzy van der Velden was just six years old when her father made her first desk. It was then when her creativity awoke. She could sit at her desk and spend the day drawing whatever came to her. She still does this today, however, it is often for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Van der Velden has quickly become one of the best Dutch graphic designers. She has established herself through her impressive work with Lululemon, Oilily, and more. When working with the internationally successful sporting wear brand O’Neill, van der Velden once again showed the world what she was capable of.

“I wanted to be part of O’Neill because it’s a brand with a rich heritage. Not a lot of brands have a real story, but O’Neill does and it’s a great one. Rooted in surf, it’s founder Jack O’Neill has changed and touched the lives of many by inventing the wetsuit. That mindset of innovation and to see how we can enjoy nature for longer is something that really attracted me to the brand. As an outdoor enthusiast, I love spending time exploring nature and to be part of a brand that views nature as a playground is an amazing thing,” said van der Velden.

While with O’Neill, van der Velden was responsible for all artwork for the Women’s & Girls collection, including swim wear, snow jackets, lifestyle, outerwear and collaborations such as Liberty London. With such a vast range of work, she researched the different categories extensively, looking to find what the best print techniques were, what was suitable for them, and how to push the limits to innovate and what the trends were. With a shift towards craftsmanship in the company, van der Velden was then free to use her creative freedom, producing the high-quality artwork she is known for, which was more expressive and pushed the brand forward. She worked to create an image for each specific product, as well as the brand as a whole.

“For Swim, I would design in a different way than for a Snow jacket so to say. This could have to do with scale, but also the esthetic would differ and use of color. This made the role interesting and never dull. I became a specialist in knowing what was the best way to approach all the different categories,” she described.

Van der Velden’s passion for the brand was evident in each piece of work she produced. She designs with the end customer in the back of her mind, and at O’Neill she gained a strong understanding of the action sport industry and the lifestyle that goes with it. The energy of the board sports, she says, is reflected in the collections, making it a really diverse and fun environment to be in. Van der Velden also travelled frequently for work, and she really got to see how the brand was appreciated beyond just the walls of her office. She immediately noticed the team spirit from those that wear it.

“I loved the fact that the product I worked on gave people the opportunity to enjoy what they loved most. My greatest reward was being able to see my designs come to life and seeing people wear my clothes in all areas around the world,” she said.

It wasn’t just customers that were impressed with what van der Velden produced. She was able to take trends and translate them into her work in a way that made sense for the brand, greatly contributing to its success. She consistently hit the right tone for each specific product, and her artistic instincts were greatly appreciated by all she worked with.

“It was great working with Suzy and I personally really enjoyed it. She was very well respected by the entire team and had an easy yet professional nature. I found that Suzy could bring a graphic story and direction across with natural authenticity and could get people to buy into the big picture with her simple but very educated communication style,” said David Henry, the Global Snow Performance Product Manager and European Accessories Product Manager at O’Neill. “Three words spring to mind when I think of Suzy: easy going, knowledgeable, and professional. Suzy was always on top of things and this gave me confidence that we were on the right track. She was also always open to others point of view and the resulted in meetings that were well balanced. Suzy always brought a sense of calm with sometimes big egos and I really liked that about her.”

Initially, van der Velden wanted to work at O’Neill for the experience, but it quickly became much more than that. As soon as she started working at O’Neill, she knew she wanted to stay a part of the team of young talented individuals with a passion for action sports. Although it was initially a temporary position, van der Velden’s work ethic and talent quickly impressed, and she was offered a permanent spot not long after.

Van der Velden also was inspired by the story of the founder, Jack O’Neill, who invented the wetsuit. This allowed people to surf in all areas of the world that were never able to otherwise. The goal of the company is to ensure people can surf no matter the water temperature. Their mission is ‘to surf longer’. O’Neill is known for its extraordinary athletes that are always pushing the boundaries, causing people to always be engaged to what the brand is going to do next. Van der Velden’s designs captured those ideals perfectly.

“Innovation is in the brands DNA and this makes sure O’Neill is ahead of the game, plus there is always an element of fun keeping it light,” said van der Velden.

The six years van der Velden spent at O’Neill, were in her words, a “blast.” However, it was always the inspiring story of Jack O’Neill that appealed to her, which she describes as timeless.

“Jack O’Neill passed away on the second of June of this year. It’s sad to see such a legend pass away, but I’m grateful for what he has built and that I’ve been able to be a part of the experience in a way,” she concluded.

Cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse’s Perfect Mix of Art and Science

With any feature film, audience interest always centers on the starring actors, but the fine art of cinema succeeds or fails due to the efforts of three key contributors—director, writer, and, perhaps most critically, the cinematographer. Whether photographing in lush color or stark black & white, the overall look of a movie sets the tone and provides invaluable context for its storyline, and one of the field’s fast-rising practitioners is the skilled British-born cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse.

Hers is an exacting occupation, part science, part art, that requires both acute aesthetic sensibilities and precise technical acumen— qualities that Fieldhouse been cultivating since she was a pre-teen shutterbug. “My love of photography began when I was twelve,” Fieldhouse said. ”I attended a local independent school that had an incredible darkroom and photography teacher, and was lucky enough to spend many hours taking pictures and developing prints, and exploring art galleries on weekends.”

It also became a very personal part of her life and identity. “Photography gave me the opportunity to find my voice through imagery and a means to express myself as an artist,” Fieldhouse said. “Having gone through some childhood trauma—losing my father and sister—photography was a healing process and gave me the opportunity to connect with people through an artistic medium. And that, in turn, led me to cinematography.”

Even before completing her education, Fieldhouse began racking up some significant camera department credits, contributing to such high-profile Hollywood projects as The Incredible Hulk, Total Recall, music documentary Neil Young Journeys along with numerous television and short film credits. Upon graduating, with an MFA, from the American Film Institute, her professional life as a cinematographer began to blossom.

With a solid roster of short film credits, Fieldhouse moved into feature film, shooting Michael Seater’s Sadie’s Last Days on Earth, Jenée LaMarque’s The Feels and veteran actor Amy Jo Johnson’s directorial debut The Space Between, an offbeat comedy about a man who learns his new born son was sired by another and embarks on an odyssey to find the biological father. Her experience shooting the film encapsulates Fieldhouse’s comprehensive grasp of the demanding craft.

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“Amy Jo Johnson and [producer] Jessica Adams were building a team of artists and technicians that understood their vision—within the confines of an ambitious script, a micro-budget and a short shooting schedule,’ Fieldhouse said. “This was to become an epic road movie, with lots of locations, limited time, large cast, babies and a travelling limousine. They reached out and brought me on for a lengthy prep—which was essential for the project. I developed a language and symbiosis with Amy, and was also able to help organize and put in place the various cinemagraphic elements required under challenging circumstances.”

In short order, the company was off and running. “The challenges of the film were numerous,” Fieldhouse said. “16 days of shooting, always on the move, many locations, and lots of road and car work. We managed it using smart scheduling and techniques that kept crew and gear light and streamlined and by working together to overcome the obstacles that came up with locations, weather and schedule.”

It’s not all logistics—the conscientious cinematographer must also contend with myriad, far more subtle issues. “I tried to approach the film as a fly on the wall,” Fieldhouse said. “I attempted to let the themes of the film play out unobstructed, working to enable authentic comedy and to allow for improvisation. It was also important for me to use framing and lighting to bring connection to our characters and support personal and nuanced scenes that required a delicate touch. I wanted the camera to be close and personal for some scenes, and then to stand back for others giving breath and a more objective point of view.”

Fieldhouse’s sensitivity—a singular, artful empathy for story and characters—is a quality that not only characterizes her approach to the camera, it also directly affects the production itself.

“I found Kristin to be a true artist,” Johnson said. “Her ability to work with the cast and make them feel comfortable and free to experiment contributed significantly to our great performances. She and I fully collaborated on every shot and created the look and feel of the film together. She was also an incredible leader who had her crew inspired and motivated the entire shoot. We had a very demanding schedule but Kristin exceeded all my expectations and delivered exceptional image quality. I’m excited to see where Kristin’s career takes her. I believe she’ll be one of the great ones”.

That kind of intuitive, on-the-spot collaborative creativity is rare, and is certain to push Fieldhouse’s burgeoning professional reputation even higher throughout the international film community. For Fieldhouse, the prospects are limitless, but at her core, it’s all about genuine artistic expression and the impact it can make.

“I see film as a medium that connects and enlightens,” Fieldhouse said. “It has an incredible capacity to give space to voices and experiences. If I can continue to tell honest stories that inspire and challenge the status quo—that would be a true gift.”

Production Designer Alex Craig’s Extraordinary Creative Vision

English production designer Alex Craig is one of the leading proponents of his craft. Well known to UK television audiences through a sterling roster of credits, from his contributions to the avidly watched BBC National Lottery and A Question of Sport and runaway reality smash This Time Next Year, Craig has perfected a mixture of bold creativity and context sensitive design that’s made him one of the most in-demand talents in the business.

Craig arrived at his position through a somewhat circuitous route; he initially studied fine arts at a series of prestigious schools when fate intervened. “A good friend at art school was training to direct film in the Media Studies department,” Craig said. “And he told me about the role of the art director in film and TV and that immediately  interested me. My initial experience was working on music videos and fashion shows, which I loved, so it just grew from there and I became hooked. A Fine Art degree isn’t the most obvious route into production design, but in my case, it was.”

In short order, Craig established himself as a reliably creative professional with a peerless instinct for creating solid, appealing design

“Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on a wide range of interesting and well known UK and international productions,” Craig said. “Many of these required a variety of studio and location work in the UK, China and Spain  Large scale entertainment shows are definitely a favorite of mine, and I’m a big music fan, so l welcome the opportunity to get involved in designing tours for bands and solo artists. As a personal project, I’d also like to experiment with some of the LED technology that is commonplace in studio design and apply it to create innovative bespoke pieces for interiors. Variety definitely keeps my designs fresh.”

One of Craig’s biggest and most challenging assignments has been as lead production designer for BBC1 TV’s long-running, start-studded annual fundraising spectacular Children in Need for almost a full decade.  Since its 1980 launch, CIN has raised 600 million British pounds for disabled children and young people, established itself as a prominent staple of British pop culture and featured many of world’s most famous entertainers—from Taylor Swift and Madonna to Rod Stewart and One Direction.

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“The show producers approached me in 2006,” Craig said. “They wanted to bring the CIN set up to date—it was beginning to look a bit old fashioned. They were impressed by my designs, as I’d been production designer on a number of high-profile BBC shows, and they thought it would be a good fit. I jumped at the opportunity.”

It was formidable job. “The telethon is a live, 7 hour primetime broadcast,” Craig said. “It features numerous ‘A list’ acts from the worlds of pop, musicals, comedy, dance, plus surprise performances. For the most part, these take place on a very large, impressive main stage. But the set also requires areas for presenters, surprise guests and more intimate performances so the set design also includes additional stages, a catwalk, multiple entrance options, several huge LED screens, plus a large studio audience. “

As a fully live, in-the-moment theatrical presentation, Craig has to not only anticipate myriad potential complications, he must be prepared to confront any issue head on. “The set also has to be flexible enough to get specific ‘performance sets’ required by any given artist, onto and off the main stage at high speed. It’s a technically complex event, which requires a mixture of creativity, logistics and a calm nature—especially when there’s less than a minute to go till the next spot and I can see an incomplete performance set still being put together on the stage.  Back in 2006 there was also a large orchestra to accommodate, and although the orchestra is now gone, the amount of technology has increased which brings its own challenges.”

“There’s a creative pressure to design a set that is going to have the style and presence to work as an appropriate backing for a diverse mix of some of the world’s biggest stars,’ Craig said. “The fact that it is live requires a lot of quick turnaround scenic setting, striking and re-setting throughout the 7 hours that we’re live on air. Backstage can become extremely cramped, with props, scenery and band equipment stacked everywhere you look. The set also incorporates a huge amount of LED technology which has to be integrated into the scenery as the set is installed. This can sometimes slow us down if there’s any kind of fault or glitch.”

Few have the drive, vision and skill to take on such monumental task, year after year, but Craig wouldn’t have it any other way. Nor would the BBC: “Alex designed the main studio set for 9 Children in Need shows, which is an outstanding achievement in itself,” executive producer Clare Pizey said. “He is an innovative and extremely talented Production Designer who has managed to give the show a visual identity which sets the tone for the night. And he is always pushing to move the look of the set to the next level, which both uplifts and inspires the audience. This is much of the reason why Children in Need has become so special to British culture as a whole.”

Craig’s long stint with CIN is one of the crown jewels in his already glittering resume, and it holds a special place in the designer’s affections.

“I love designing this show and am proud of what it stands for,” Craig said. “It has become a very special annual event in my work diary and a career highlight for me. It’s an honor to have contributed to such a good cause for so many years.  The show has raised record amounts of money even during recession years, and that always spurs me on to dream up new ways of presenting a fresher, more innovative design.”

For more information on Alex Craig, visit alexcraig.com

Graphic Designer Joy Sun does noir film poster for “Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator”

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Film poster for Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator

While growing up in Tainan city, Taiwan, Joy Sun always loved drawing. She knew quickly that she had to be involved with art in her future, but she didn’t immediately know how. Failure wouldn’t get in her way, and after teaching herself storyboarding and working on business cards, she wanted to be both a storyboard artist and graphic designer. Now, she is recognized internationally for her talents as both.

As a storyboard artist, Sun has worked with some of the world’s largest companies, such as LG when she did the storyboard’s for their commercial Bring the Aurora to Life with Power of Perfect Black. As a graphic designer, Sun designed both a website and logo for Bruber Media Partners, as well as business cards for the famous transgender advocate Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen. She has an extensive resume, but she would consider the highlight of her career working on the posters for the film Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator, a project that truly combined both her graphic design and storyboard artist talents into one.

Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator was a very fun and special project since a lot of movie posters nowadays are made with photographs and are heavily Photoshopped. It was a rare chance to get to take a more minimalist approach in terms of style and execution of a movie poster, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to do so,” said Sun.

Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator is a critically acclaimed and highly successful feature film. It is a science-fiction comedy about a psychic investigator who tries to seek revenge on the ghost of his former crime fighting partner. The film was written, directed, and produced by Elran Ofir, who describes Sun’s work as immensely vital to the production as she was the lead graphic designer for the film, therefore creating the overall image that was most accessible to the public eye.

“There are very few people in the industry with the level of extraordinary talent and ability as Joy Sun and she has earned her lead roles on some of the most widely distributed productions for some of the biggest production companies in the industry. I feel extremely honored to have worked with Joy Sun throughout the production of Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator and know that she will only continue to create commercially successful and critically acclaimed productions, which is why Joy is an excellent addition to the graphic design industry,” said Ofir. “I personally commissioned Joy for this lead role because she is the only graphic designer in the industry able to recreate the classic style of noir films. Joy’s illustrative and graphic design abilities are undoubtedly distinguished within her field. In addition, I wanted someone that could visualize my direction clearly and the result was an extraordinary film poster that neither me or the rest of the production crew could have expected.”

When the director Ofir approached Sun, he had very clear vision of what he wanted, but still gave Sun the space to be creative. Through his words, Sun says she found myself in a world of fonts. He specifically stated that he wanted the main character holding a flashlight with a cigar in his mouth and with the ghost smoking out of the cigar. Sun immediately wanted to make it her own. She started researching what noir films posters look like and tried to bring that vision onto the paper. She used her knowledge of colors and her digital drawing skills to mimic what Ofir had in mind, and made something he wanted and still from her own creation.

“It is always good to work with someone knows what they are doing as a leader. Elran is a great director and producer with an artistic vision that demands attention, I wanted to work with him for this reason. He is a succinct and clear individual whom is easily approachable, which I respect within business relations,” said Sun. “Also, Noir film has an amazing and deep history and the production of Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator set out to revive the style. Beyond that, the crew I worked with was magnificent and made the process very enjoyable and interesting. Moreover, who wouldn’t want to work on a film about taking revenge on a ghost?”

The film has seen an enormous amount of success, having been selected for HollyShorts 2015 Official Selection, Fargo Film Festival 2016 Official Selection, SOCAL Film Fest 2016 Official Selection, and the Festival De Cannes 2015 Short Film Corner. For Sun, going to Cannes was an overwhelming experience, as she knows the prestige the film festival has. Not only would the film be showing, but people from all over the world would see her one-of-a-kind poster.

“I am so honored to be part of this process and had the pleasure to have my work out there to share with people,” Sun concluded.