Category Archives: Director

Director Jan Pavlacky turns harsh conditions into artistic masterpiece

Many people are haunted by the idea of what they should spend their life doing. Finding a career path that pays the bills and makes one truly happy seems almost impossible. Luckily for Jan Pavlacky, a chance job on a film set ignited a dream, and that dream has turned into the reality of becoming an award-winning director.

Pavlacky’s talents are recognized around the world by both colleagues and audiences that see his work. His directing on his film BKA 49-77 received international acclaim and was screened at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. His exceptional directing abilities have been appreciated by companies such as Nike when he did a commercial campaign for them, as well as world re-known production companies such as Savage and atSwim. He has excelled in directing commercials, films, and even music videos, including his work on the music video for the Please The Trees song “It’s Not Me.” The music video called for Pavlacky to shoot in difficult conditions during the middle of winter, on the highest mountain in the Czech Republic. When it came time for the shoot, there was a massive snowstorm, and temperatures fell below zero degrees.

We drank a lot of hot tea and mountain rum and wore warm clothes. We were fighting against extremely low visibility but luckily we had several walkie-talkies that we were able to hide in the actors costumes so we I could direct them during the shot. We had the chance to shoot on film stock, which, due to the extreme weather conditions, was the only way how to shoot, since the temperatures were too low for a digital camera,” said Pavlacky. “I love when the conditions are somehow extreme. It makes me somehow more focused towards the one single goal. We were really lucky to have such harsh weather conditions since the weather played a crucial part in the story.”

“It’s Not Me” was Please The Trees’ first music video. Although such extreme weather conditions were not originally part of the plan, Pavlacky used it to add an extra element to the story, thinking it was the best way to show a man finding his soul in the emptiness, which is what the song is about.

Rather than giving up, Jan pushed forward in order to convey the deep subject matter through the visual medium.  The final product ended up being a beautiful piece of art, showcasing gorgeous shots of the white-out conditions.  Since its release, the video has accrued tens of thousands of views and kick-started the successful career of the band,” said Alessio Spinelli of Milk and Honey Pictures, the production company that did the music video. “The band wouldn’t be where they are now if it weren’t for Jan’s incredible work as lead director on that first music video.”

Milk and Honey is a production company that focuses not only on commercials and music videos, but also on feature films and television series. They are one of the biggest production houses in Prague, and have an impressive reputation not just in Pavlacky’s native country of the Czech Republic, but also worldwide.

“Milk and Honey have been in the business for more than 20 years. They’ve produced big Hollywood Blockbusters and countless foreign commercials, and working such an important company was a huge step in my career,” said Pavlacky.

Pavlacky’s impressive work with Milk and Honey goes far past the “It’s Not Me” video. He was also the lead director for multiple Milk and Honey projects including commercials for Theraflu and GS Enerix. The Theraflu commercial was his first experience working on a project for the U.S. market and worldwide renowned digital agency Wunderman.

“Notably working for the US market is always something special and it is a benchmark for many directors in my field, so obviously, the responsibility was huge, and I was extremely happy that the shoot ended up successfully. The collaboration with the New York creative team brought some great ideas into the shoot. I also had a great Director of Photography on board who shot many feature films and together we delivered a great commercial and had an amazing and creative time on the set,” said Pavlacky.

The commercial was shot at many different locations around Prague, creating a visual experience that impressed both Wunderman and the American audience. His work on the GS Enerix commercial also did wonders in the Czech market, airing to thousands of viewers on television. It helped to improve all brand indexes, including brand recognition, purchase intent and sales. With results like this, it is no doubt that Pavlacky’s impact will continue to impress audiences on both the big and small screen for years to come.

Diana Chao: A Creative and Thought-Provoking Director on the Rise

Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, Diana Chao is a highly successful, 32-year-old, Los Angeles-based director. After obtaining her MFA in Film Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2013, Chao continues to direct shorts, commercials, and features professionally, both locally and abroad.

“I was first hired as a director in 2011 for Violence in the Closet in Taiwan,” Chao said. “In 2013, instead of directing a school thesis film, I decided to do The Restoration as an independent project in which professional crew were on board, where I could immerse myself in telling the story without supervision. I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for making the film. Upon its completion and recognition for festivals, I have had the pleasure to be hired as director for more projects.”

Diana Chao on the set of The Restoration 

For Chao and her career, this achievement was just the first of many.

The Restoration is a story that focuses on our desire to say goodbye. Inspired by an event that occurred in Taiwan in 2008, it follows Sean, a young restoration apprentice, who learns about closure and his feelings toward a family member’s departure while working on a project with an experienced restorative artist named Joanna. Together, their skills in preparing a corpse for its transition from the present are challenged by the extensive damage caused to the body. The film stars John-Scott Horton, Katie Savoy and Jason Caceres.

Chao first wrote the script back in 2010, where it was short-listed twice for a USC production class. “I pitched it the first time and had meetings with various directors the second, but ultimately they had their own visions about the project. Jeff – my classmate and trusted friend as well as the editor of The Restoration – encouraged me to make the film myself. With his support and encouragement, little by little, The Restoration storyline evolved into its current version,” commented Chao.

The short film was beautifully shot by the award-winning Cinematographer, Will Jobe. He and Chao initially met at USC where they were classmates and both received their MFA degrees in Film Production. Jobe’s work has screened at South by Southwest, Slamdance, and Cannes, his clients including well-known names such as ESPN, Hallmark and Subway Sandwiches, to name a few.

“Diana was the principal creative force behind The Restoration,” Jobe praised. “She was meticulous in the planning of her vision for the film and coordinated with the heads of each department to ensure its proper execution. I remember in the many preproduction meetings how Diana exposed me to a variety of visual references that I had never seen before. I discovered the work of both Easter and Western directors and cinematographers that exhibited fresh aesthetics that differed from the Hollywood norm. It was obvious to me that Diana had a keen academic understanding of film history, but was also well versed in many different genres and aesthetics of modern independent and international cinema. I feel that The Restoration was only a first step in seeing Diana’s true potential.”

Diana Chao and the crew of The Restoration

The Restoration was the independent project Chao directed in which she had full control. Thanks to her training and education from USC, Chao had acquired a full understanding of how production works, as well as the role of every individual on set. Elaborating on this, Chao said, “Production is teamwork with hierarchy. As a director, it’s crucial to do my job and let the team do theirs. I was passionate about making The Restoration. I don’t necessarily know the technical details of how to execute each person’s job, but as long as I was clear about my vision, my team wasn’t confused about how to help me make the film.”

Chao wound up receiving much praise and recognition for her film, including an award for Best Original Score from the 2015 Long Island International Film Expo and a Merit of Cinematography from the 2015 Rochester International Short Film Festival.

In April of 2012, Chao was asked to document the production of the feature film Finding Mr. Right in New York City, a US-China collaboration. Chao acted as the director of the film’s promotional materials and was therefore given the challenging responsibilities of conducting interviews, editing footage, and bridging communication between three main parties: the production company, the promotion company, and the main cast, directors, and their agents and assistants.

According to CEO Lisa Chen, who collaborated with Edko Films on Finding Mr. Right and speaks very highly of Chao, creating the promotional material is the, “Single most important tool for a film’s publicity. Great promotional material can get you into festivals, boost your crowdfunding, and even land you a distribution deal.”


Diana Chao working on Finding Mr. Right

From a commercial standpoint, Finding Mr. Right grossed the U.S. equivalent of $84.4 million at the box office. Additionally, the film won 2 China Film Director’s Guild Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Actress, was nominated in the same awards show for Best Director and Best Picture, took home a win at the 2013 Golden Phoenix Awards, and received 2 nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2014.

“We fully trusted Diana as the director for our promotional material and the footage that she made was exceptional and used for marketing and promotion throughout China. Due to Diana’s prowess as a bilingual filmmaker, Diana was able to bridge the gap between the Chinese production team and the local freelance filmmakers. Her work provided an easy way to get the word out about the production with her concise, creative, and impressive directional style, which also influenced the entire production as a whole,” said Chen.

It is evident that Chao excelled in generating extraordinary press materials for the film, her efforts playing a vital role in its ultimate viewership and success. Her work has a tendency to reach and inspire wide audiences in every instance, as also demonstrated by her work on the 2011 short film Violence in the Closet.

Violence in the Closet is an eight-minute short film and Public Service Announcement (PSA) that brings awareness to domestic violence among the LGBT community. The film tells the story of a 30-year-old lesbian, WenWen, undertaking multiple pressures in life and arising conflicts between her and her girlfriend. “It was meant for promoting the amendment of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act and letting the LGBT community know that homosexual couples, partners, and roommates are also under protection of the law,” Chao further explained.

Due to budget limits and time constraints, Violence in the Closet was shot over two nights and finished within one week in order to meet the deadline of the annual fundraiser it was intended to screen at. “Because of the NPO’s (Non-profit Organization) budget limitations and of Taiwanese actors’ hesitation to be cast for lesbian roles, we ended up casting non- actors who are lesbians,” Chao added. This route came with a few challenges when it came to directing, but nevertheless, Chao overcame them and prevailed.

Diana Chao directing Violence in the Closet

“There’s a set of languages a director uses when working with professional actors,” she went on to describe. “Non-actors don’t really take those directions. I found method acting helpful – it doesn’t require actors to become the characters, which is difficult for non-actors. Instead, it helps actors find the expressive emotions that they share with the characters. By walking them through the emotional beats the characters had in the script, I was able to overcome that challenge.”

Chao performed the service of directing the project for free, out of the grace of her heart, and for the betterment and expansion of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association.

Originally founded in 1998, the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association is a non-profit organization aimed at providing a space for acceptant and empathy in the LGBT community. It is now the oldest and the largest, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization in Taiwan.

Violence in the Closet was released at their 2011 annual fundraiser, Taipei Hotline events, and online in an effort to help raise awareness and funds for the organization. Chao’s work helped the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association earn a total of $103,722 in donations.

Jennifer Hsin Chieh Lu, the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association’s Director of Public Affairs, stated that Chao’s generosity provided them with, “A rare instance where we were able to engage an extraordinary filmmaker and director for the betterment of our cause, and thus, the betterment of our society. Violence in the Closet was highly influential, important, and touching to many viewers. We needed to work with a remarkable director who understood its sensitivity and was able to deliver a powerfully striking, unforgettable message. Without a doubt, Diana Chao achieved to direct such a powerful short film for us and was able to successfully send the message to the audience.”


For more information on Diana Chao, please visit:

For The Restoration, please visit:
For Finding Mr. Right, please visit:
For Violence In the Closet, please visit:



Zheng Kang is redefining the role of animator. Yes, he is technically given the title director/animator but he does (pun intended) the lion’s share of the work on Lion Dance. For this production, he helped create the script, directed a live action cast (more about this later), directed the animation (coordinated with different teams on different continents), animated, and essentially helped to coordinate every aspect of this film. Zheng has been a driving force behind so many animated productions (Comedy Central’s TripTank, Diors Samurai, Baby and Granny, etc.) that he is constantly striving to create original approaches to ward off any unconscious attempt to fall into a pattern. In Lion Dance, Kang has gone to new heights of diligence and preparation in order to create a unique look and storyline to reflect accurately on his native culture and the characters of the film. It’s this intense work ethic and attention to even the smallest detail that led to a host of accolades for Lion Dance, not the least of which was the decision to use Lion Dance as a teaching aid by the faculty at USC (University of Southern California) School of Cinematic Arts for their graduate animation classes. Winning awards and screenings at prestigious festivals is high praise (both of which Lion Dance has garnered) but being used as a template to the premier graduate students in the field is a rare accomplishment indeed. It doesn’t come easy; Zheng can attest to this. He worked hard to make Lion Dance an epitome of its ilk. The achievements and praise of the film confirm that all of this tenacity paid off in spades for this young and creative professional.  Lion Dance continues to focus attention on Zheng Kang’s contributions to the animation film world.


In creating Lion Dance, Kang wanted to present a love story that was original. Just as importantly, he wanted to present its main characters in a new way. He states, “As a Chinese man, I’m well aware that the male Chinese characters are often presented as comic relief. I was committed to portraying my leading man as exactly that, a leading man. I wanted to show that he could be brave, kind, searching for love; I wanted him to represent all those qualities that Asian men are seen void of.” The Hero, Jian, is the “head” of the lion in the traditional ‘Lion Dance’ during the parade celebrating Chinese New Year in his town. He and Ayumi (the female lead) lock eyes and fall in love, but Jian is in mid- parade and must continue his march through the town. It is typical when the Lion Dance is performed in real-life that two teams will take turns performing inside the Lion costume because it is so heavy and hot! When Jian hears a hand tapping on his Lion costume, he assumes it is the relief team and he races off to find Ayumi. He arrives at her balcony and is sad to see she is not there. Heartbroken, he heads back to take his place in the parade. The film then switches to Ayumi’s perspective of the events. After their eyes met, Ayumi decides that she can’t let Jian simply march away. She races after him, catching up with his Lion at the same time as the relief teams are taking their shift. She taps Jian’s Lion costume, and he mistakes her for the relief team. Throwing the Lion head onto Ayumi without looking, he races off to find her, unaware that she was standing right next to him! Now, as the relief team begin to march, poor Ayumi finds herself pushed along inside the parade. The star-crossed lovers seem doomed at this point to be diverted from each other. In the final act of the film, a sad Jian becomes very confused when he spots that his Lion is no longer in the parade, and is instead playing with local children. He walks over and lifts the Lion’s head off to find Ayumi underneath. Both are surprised, and relieved, having finally found each other. In the final scene, the camera drifts off to a romantic firework display as the young heroes fall in love. Zheng created these young characters to provide a role model he felt had been too often overlooked in film. He comments, “I wanted to ensure that I was as diverse as possible and created a starring role for an Asian man that allowed him to be an action hero (rather than a comedy relief) and a starring role for an Asian woman that allowed her to have confidence, strength of character, and personality (rather than being a Caucasian guy’s one-dimensional love interest). I believe that no matter what art form you work in, you have the ability to inspire and educate society with a positive message.

In his role as director/animator for Lion Dance, Kang utilized a very unique approach. Because he wanted the characters to avoid any status-quo type movements found in animation, Zheng cast and directed a group of live actors in order to get completely original movements and expressions. Employing a method known as rotoscoping, the animators would work on top of the live action footage and follow the actual live sequences. This led the animators to following the movements of the actors rather than deferring to their stock ideas about what movements should look like in animation. The result is immediately noticeable as different from the vast majority of animation productions. Zheng concedes that this method was every bit as successful as he had imagined. The only difficult aspect was that he had so many great actors auditioning with interesting interpretations of the characters.


To meet the scheduling and budgetary constraints but yet still bring his vision to completion, Kang hatched another ingenious approach. Coordinating multiple crews on different continents, he created a twenty-four hour per day work schedule. Zheng’s co-director Tim Pattinson was astonished as he relates, “On Lion Dance, Zheng’s directing skills were exceptional. Using a series of sketches, drawovers, and video calling, he was able to effectively and assuredly communicate very complex animation direction to teams across 5 continents, resulting in the successful completion of our animated scenes. In Tokyo, Zheng created a complex and incredibly successful method of visually communicating the direction of our original sound and score design to Japanese speaking team members, via a series of graphs showing our story’s emotional peaks and troughs, high-energy moments, etc. Lion Dance has been very well-received globally and I have no doubt that it could not have enjoyed any of this success without Zheng’s clear, confident, and incredibly commercially-successful direction. Zheng’s skills on Lion Dance as the Animation Lead were invaluable, in terms of achieving our finished film.” The recognition and achievements Lion Dance has received are literally too numerous to mention in one article but a few include: Award of Recognition (Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival 2016), Animation Of The Month (The Monthly Film Festival) October 2016, Best Animation (Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards) November 2016, Best Animated Short Film (Chandler International Film Festival) October 2017, Best Animation (Asian On Film), Best Short Animation (Canadian Diversity Film Festival), Best Short Animation (Canadian Diversity Film Festival), and official screenings around the world in LA, London, Guam, Toronto, and many others.


When asked what fueled the herculean amount of work he did for Lion Dance, Zheng reveals, “I really do feel that any artist can have a positive effect. I knew that this was a great love story that could also show people from my part of the world to be the same as anywhere else. There will always be cultural differences but in our hearts we all want the same things. Animation serves to tell that story just as well as a feature film, a great song, or a moving painting. Oh, and one other thing fueled all of this. Typically, for a whole year, the work for me was 15-hour days/7 days- per-week. Approaching the last month of production, the light at the end of the tunnel was visible. Tim [Pattinson] and I have a friend named Konie and his fantastic Korean cooking kept us going. we’d have been living on hot dogs and potato chips for that last month if not for him. That’s a hero to me as well!”








Director Ben Bhatia goes on holiday with Channel 4’s Tattoo Fixers

Everyone seems to have a bad tattoo story. Whether it is their own, someone they know, or something they have seen, they make for great cringe-worthy yet fun stories to tell amongst friends. Most people learn creative ways to hide those tattoos they don’t want people to see, some people decide to get them removed, but some people turn a bad tattoo into one they love. That is where the UK television program Tattoo Fixers comes into play.

The show has been a runaway success for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. The format of the show is a split studio and location format. People apply to be on the show because they have a tattoo disaster that they want to fix. Examples of these tattoos can be anything from the name of an ex-partner, to an embarrassing drunken tattoo. They visit a tattoo parlour to get the tattoo corrected into something they would prefer. During their consultation, a video of their backstory is shown. They then go into the tattooing room to have their tattoo corrected. The big finish is then the reveal of what their new tattoo looks like and their reaction.

Director and producer Ben Bhatia worked on a special edition of the program, Tattoo Fixers on Holiday, which premiered this summer. He had the responsibility to produce the backstories video for the contributors on the show. This would either tell the story of their life or how they obtained the said tattoo. A vital task, because if viewers aren’t hooked by the back story of the person they are watching, they change the channel.

“I loved being able to flex my creative muscles and have the flexibility to devise, write and shape the script,” said Bhatia. “I shot, produced and directed the clips. This was an awesome opportunity for me.”

The ‘Holiday’ spin-off was something new for the show as it takes the series out of its normal studio setting and would take the cast members to a foreign holiday resort and would fly contributors over from the UK. This was unchartered territory for the show, but was an instant success with the help of Bhatia.

“Ben was highly recommended by many of my peers in the industry. Because of this, we knew he would be the perfect fit and we were keen to invite him to become a part of our successful series. Within his career he has established himself to be a well-respected and forward thinking director and producer, and has a very bright future ahead,” said Matt J Smith, the executive producer for Studio Lambert, who is responsible for the show.

“Ben is a real pleasure to work with, he has a natural creative and visual flair, he is an outstanding communicator, he works exceptionally well as both leader and part of a team,” continued Smith. “Ben could be nothing but the brightest of assets to any company or production.”

As well as working with Smith, Bhatia also worked with Tim Harcourt, both of whom are extremely well established veterans in the UK television industry. They have developed many television shows in the UK, including Gogglebox, which has become such a big hit as a format it has spawned regional versions all over the world.

Despite having never worked with Studio Lambert before, Bhatia’s work was so impressive that he was asked to edit and produce an entire episode, giving him full control. With this, he had the opportunity to learn how to use an entirely new camera.

“Due to the small amount of time to get accustomed to the camera, I had to hit the ground running. Luckily I was quick to adapt and it has become a skill that I have used elsewhere ever since,” said Bhatia.

Using a new tool wasn’t the only obstacle to overcome to ensure success. The time constraints on making the bio clips meant Bhatia had to think quickly.

“I personally feel like I work best under pressure, so when I saw the final product that was transmitted, I was very happy and felt like I had achieved a lot,” he said. “I also enjoy reading twitter posts about the show and seeing how well received the episodes and stories have been.”

It is impossible to complain, as the project was shot on the beautiful Greek Island of Crete. Bhatia got to experience the scenery while working alongside some major players of British television.

“This was a fun project to work on,” he concluded. “Having the ability to lead a team to shoot that would creatively tell the contributors backstory and using a wealth of exciting technology was something I really enjoyed being a part of.”

You can watch episodes of Tattoo Fixers on Holiday here.

Q&A with Producer Mariana Wahrhaftig

Creating art about art can be a tricky thing. Making a music video that accurately reflects the emotion and integrity of the music is not easy. Directing them in a style that conveys the meaning of the song is art itself, and very different than directing a television program or film. Mariana Wahrhaftig knows this well.

Wahrhaftig is extremely versatile. Not only has she worked with many rising artists on music videos, and ventured into the world of video games. Fans of the games can be extremely critical of the score that accompanies it, and Wahrhaftig, being a fan herself, knows how to deliver.

Wahrhaftig’s lifelong appreciation of music and film have shaped her talents in the combination of the two, which is expressed in the interview below.

In the last year, Wahrhaftig had the opportunity to direct and produce music videos with musical talents such as Chandler Juliet and RVLS, as well as produced The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses third season, working with the world renown gaming franchise Nintendo.

Wahrhaftig is a name to look out for, and you can find out more by reading our exclusive interview.

Where are you from? When and how did you get into producing and directing music videos?

MW: I was born and raised in Curitiba, in Brazil. Growing up. I used to love watching music videos on MTV, it was the perfect way to learn about who the people behind the music were. I moved to Canada when I was 16 to pursue my studies and career in film and video, and the first job I got was as working on a music video for Eric Speed, a violin player. And after that I was hooked. I worked with the same director for a while until I moved to Los Angeles when I started directing and producing them. I love everything about them, the productions are short, fun and you get to be creative with what you do.

Can you tell us a little bit about the projects you’ve done?

MW: My first video as director/producer was for the band RVLS, and a few others were for Chandler Juliet. Before I moved on to work at The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, where I was a producer for season three, where I got to work with another passion of mine: video games.

What makes you pick one project over another?

MW: I try to work with things that I’m interested on, because that’s how I know I’ll give my best work. I like the artists I worked with, I enjoy their music, and that way I feel confident that I am able to put out a good piece of work. With Zelda it was no different. I grew up playing the Majora’s Mask game, I had the game’s soundtrack and arrangement album by Koji Kondo, the composer, and so to have the opportunity to create a piece that encompasses the feeling of the game, and have it approved by Mr. Kondo himself is truly something I’ll keep in my heart for the rest of my life.

What is your favorite project you have worked on, and why?

MW: I love every project I worked on, I get attached to them on personal level. But producing the Zelda symphony was special to me. I got to produce the new musical arrangement and video from the Majora’s Mask game, which is a dream come true. I also got to write the script and direction for the videos that we recorded with the Zelda creators themselves. I wrote something for my childhood idols! I don’t think I can top that off!

What would you consider your strongest qualities in your field?

MW: My wild imagination? (laughs). I like to push things beyond what’s normally possible, and so it does help a lot. On my first video, A Get Away Plan for RVLS, I don’t think any of the band members knew what they were in for when we started. They told me their idea, what they wanted to do for the video, and what was originally supposed to be a confetti fight in a desert turned into a giant confetti party at the Sepulveda dam – complete with confetti guns! It was really cool for me take their idea and go crazy with it. I’d say they were very happy with the end result.

Who have you worked with that has inspired you and why?

MW: Both RVLS and Chandler Juliet are phenomenal artists that I have a lot of respect for. But I think what had a great impact in my career was the music video director I worked with in Canada – Pierre-Luc Bucher. He was the person that took a risk in hiring someone new to the industry as his production manager and assistant director, and he respected me in my position to do my job. Having someone believe in you at the beginning goes a long way to that person’s career, and I’m thankful for having that.

What projects are you currently working on or have coming up?

MW: Chandler and I are putting the last touches on her upcoming video The World’s Not Ending and we’re pretty excited to release it. I also will be running a video competition for an NGO on water awareness, which I’m really excited about.

What are your plans for the future?

MW: Hopefully more music, video games, and music videos.  I can’t have enough of it in my life. I hope I get to do more projects and collaborate with some awesome artists.

Why music videos instead of films or television programs?

MW: It’s the perfect place for me to work with my passions. I get to mix music with visual productions, and I love everything about that. It’s also the fact that the productions are so short, that you have the flexibility to constantly do different projects, and work with different artists. It’s the perfect balance!

Directing Virtuoso delivers ‘the essence of the person’ in part of Fox Sports Australia rebrand

Director Luke Farquhar

DD8, a creative, full-service company specializing in design, producing, directing, shooting and post-production, was commissioned for the rebrand of Australia’s premier sports network – Fox Sports Australia. The network includes six sports channels, a news network, sports apps and digital channels.

The catalyst for the rebranding was a series of new original “I Am” promotional video spots. Chief among the creatives behind the rebrand was visionary director Luke Farquhar, who was then a director for Fox Sports.

The Sydney based director is known for his poignant and highly stylized spots that blend together an impressive concoction of abstract imagery, strong characterization and world class storytelling.

Jean-Christophe Danoy is the acting CCO for Fox Sports Australia and he founded DD8 with Adam Duncombe and Susie Riddell. DD8 has ushered in its expansion with offices in Sydney, Singapore and Vietnam, and Danoy said, “Luke is different from the pack. Everyone in the office wishes they could do what he does. He is somehow freer – uncomplicated – and very different from any other director I’ve come across. He’s the cool one in any room. And he’s always right on brand.”

Farquhar has directed many commercials, spots, promos and branded content including for Channel [V] Australia’s music video show, “The Riff.” Farquhar has directed compelling spots for the Grammy nominated rapper ASAP Rocky, the UFC, Land Rover, Billabong, Schweppes, the Brit Music Awards and more.

“I like my spots to stand out from the rest,” Farquhar said, “so I always tried to push the envelope when coming up with the creative.”

For Fox Sports, Farquhar directed the “I Am Surfing” promo last March, which features surfers Noa Deane, Kelly Slater, Kolohe Andino, Gabriel Medina, Matt Wilkinson, Tyler Wright and others. Shooting commenced at the Australian Open of Surfing in Manly, New South Wales, Australia, and at Queensland, Australia’s Gold Coast.

“Because of my surfing background, it felt like the natural thing to do from Fox Sports’ perspective to put me in charge of the surfing re-brand, and all things that come under the Extreme Sports banner,” said Farquhar.

Set to the Ramones cover, “Beat in the Brat,” the surf promo is a 45-second rock and roll-like blitzkrieg that captures the spirit of the Australian surf scene both in and out of the water.

“I Am Surfing” received a lot of great responses, especially within the surfing communities,” Farquhar said.

Another component of the “I Am” rebranding campaign showcased Farquhar’s directing of personal narratives of acclaimed athletes such as boxer Jeff Hornet, surfer Mick Fanning, MMA star Ronda Rousey and Australian footballer Callan Ward.

“Luke’s not by fazed by fame. He can mix with anyone, and he gets a good relationship going with the talent,” said Danoy. “He’s a sports person himself and he gets them and they get him. He’s incredibly perceptive and really gets something unique from the talent. It’s in his personality. Luke has a great personality and unique perception and vision. He engages people and gets something out of them that they haven’t ever given before. He enables them to discover different parts of themselves. And they in turn enjoy the experience.”

The inspirational spots feature voiceover narration of the athletes who detail their personal stories of triumph.

“Luke gets the essence of the person,” Danoy said. “He tends not to go for the middle ground – he gets the darker or the lighter side. He gets the side that you don’t usually get to see. And he tells a story simply and clearly in a visual and emotive manner.”

Within the spots, Hornet recalls his journey to boxing and explains how he was picked on in high school, which motivated him to become a fighter.

Fanning, who survived an infamous shark attack last year, shares his wisdom on overcoming adversity, improving as a person and believing in your chosen course. “Dealing with mother nature, you never know what’s going to get thrown at you and things can turn around so quickly,” he says in the spot.

“After his nearly fatal shark attack in South Africa, Mick Fanning became not only the most popular surfer on the planet, but one of the most wanted people on the planet,” said Farquhar. “Our creative had to be different, original and worth his time.

“Being from the Gold Coast also, I knew where Mick would be and worked out my creative there. Instead of doing a “wham bam” in your face spot, I wanted to slow it down and strip it back. Mick agreed and went to work. A few days later, the job was done and got the tick of approval from Mick. Mick is a true pleasure to work with and created a very smooth work flow because of his laid back ‘yes’ attitude.”

In Rousey’s spot, she shares her story of working three jobs to make ends meet, while training full-time, and pursuing her goal of becoming not just one of the greatest women’s fighters, but one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Ward is the co-captain of the Greater Western Sydney Giants, of the Australian Football League, and in his spot, Ward explains the “Captain’s Curse,” which is the need for extreme mental toughness in conjunction with physical toughness.

Cinematographer Tom Punch worked with Farquhar on “I Am Callan Ward,” on The Riff spot, “New Blood” and on Farquhar’s Land Rover Discovery spot.

“Luke approaches directing in an original way,” he said. “It is refreshing and I think gets the best out of people. He is in it for the love, not the money. His approach is very unique. He has taught himself to tell stories in a very obscure way. He takes risks that others wouldn’t and this makes working with him exciting! Whether it’s the narrative, or concert he wants to get across, I feel that only Luke knows what the outcome of his work will be. He leaves me in suspense until I see the final cut and each time I’m always blown away.”

Other “I Am” spots Farquhar directed included “I Am a Fanatic,” which shows the euphoria experienced by two female Australian football fans riding in a car, screaming and celebrating the thrill of victory, as well as “I Am UFC,” a gritty ad focused on the training of male and female fighters.

The “I Am” rebrand also featured spots centered on other Australian sports franchises and figures such as Melbourne Victory, La Liga, Greg Inglis, Kim Ravaillion, Tim Cahill, Scott Pendlebury, Jack Miller, Israel Folau and more.

“Overall, the “I Am” rebrand has collected multiple awards with the help of myself and other directors under the guidance of the creative director, Jean-Christophe Danoy,” said Farquhar, who is eyeing further DD8 expansion with Danoy into the U.S market.

Check out the Fox Sports rebrand here:

Follow Luke and check out his work on Vimeo:






Director & Producer Carlisle Antonio Impacts the Lives of Many through Film

Director and producer Carlisle Antonio

When asked, most filmmakers will agree that maintaining creative control of a production is one of the most highly prized opportunities in any project. However, directors must often sacrifice that sovereignty when seeking financial backing. Investors frequently assume the role of producers, and leave the visionary with little power over their own original creation. Carlisle Antonio has successfully evaded that pitfall by producing every project he’s directed in his illustrious career.

Carlisle is an innovative artist as well as an adept businessman, and as the CEO of the Red Man Films production company he has proven his aptitude for both time and time again. The son of a “Navy man,” Carlisle was raised in Europe but spent much of his life in far-flung locales around the globe. That worldly experience, combined with his strong ties to his Native American heritage, sparked Antonio’s imagination and passion for storytelling and helped inspire some of his most acclaimed productions.

“I have a diverse background; my roots reside within an indigenous form of storytelling, and I feel this lends itself to a different style of creativity,” Carlisle said of his diverse influences, which include “European cinema to indigenous American, Latin and Brazilian art forms.”

He is particularly renowned for his work producing and directing a wide array of documentaries, which range from awe-inspiring and majestic to gripping and emotional in subject. Carlisle wrote, directed and produced the 2008 feature documentary “Coloring the Media” in partnership with the BBC. The documentary details the film industry’s long, shameful history of using dehumanizing stereotypes when portraying Native Americans.

“Coloring the Media” won a Millennium Award and was a hit success with viewers during its worldwide festival tour. It featured Sundance Film Festival founder, actor and Academy Award-winning director Robert Redford (“Ordinary People,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), as well as the late John Trudell, a legendary artist, poet and prominent Native American activist. The film was bold and concise in its message, and as with many of Antonio’s productions, had a lasting impact on audiences and critics.

Carlisle’s work often centers on Native American culture and heritage, as well as on the lands that indigenous peoples called home for millennia. While working with the Alaskan National Park Service, he produced, filmed and directed three films aimed at promoting tourism by showcasing the raw beauty of the vast expanse of forest, mountain and glacier-covered Alaskan landscape. The films, “Walking the Wild,” “Bear Country” and “Under the Borealis,” offer viewers an informative peek into the gorgeous Alaskan parks. With stunning cinematography, the films teach potential visitors about native plants and wildlife, as well as ways to ensure safe visits to the remote and isolated wilderness.

As a filmmaker, Carlisle knows the value of his medium as a way to inform audiences and advocate for change. He is currently using this platform to give a voice to Native American victims of suicide with his upcoming film “Walking the Line.” Despite having the highest suicide rate of any group in the Western Hemisphere, Native American tribes are often unwilling to discuss the epidemic. Carlisle is determined to expose this tragic cycle, and plans to begin shooting “Walking the Line” later this year.

“I feel that by giving a voice to the dead, they may just be able to help the living, and perhaps help the grieving families and loved ones left behind,” Carlisle said, describing his passion for the project. “It could also help another young person living on the edge, or someone contemplating suicide as the only alternative. Film in any medium has the power to change and affect people’s lives.”

Filmmakers are perhaps the most powerful agents of social reform. By putting a spotlight on issues that are too often underreported, they can enlighten audiences and inspire action. As the CEO of his own production company, Carlisle has the rare and enviable creative advantage of being the writer, director and producer of his own projects. That level of control is critical when the subject matter deals with issues as monumentally important as those in Carlisle’s work. Anyone who has seen one of his productions can attest to the fact that Carlisle’s gift for filmmaking can open eyes, move hearts and change the world; and as he embarks on several upcoming projects, it’s a guarantee that he will he continue to do just that.

Director Michelle Castro Flexes His Cinematography Skills

Gloria Trevi
Director and cinematographer Michelle Castro shot by Alejandro Ibarra

 Audiences around the world will recognize Michelle Castro from the plethora of directorial accomplishments he’s made to date, which span the likes of music videos for renowned artists, award-winning narrative films and commercials.

Castro’s reputation as a highly skilled director became increasingly well-known throughout the Latin American entertainment industry after he directed the music video for Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi’s hit song ‘El Favor De La Soledad.” Trevi, who is often referred to as the “Mexican Madonna,” is also the subject of the biopic “Gloria,” which was released in February 2015.

Michelle Castro’s strength as a director has undoubtedly earned him international acclaim over the years, but his work as a cinematographer is another area of his genius that deserves notice.

As his film “When Negatives Collide,” which he both wrote and directed, was making waves as an international hit at festivals last year including being chosen as an Official Selection of the 2015 Cannes Court Metrage du Festival de Cannes, Castro was busy immersing himself as the cinematographer of several new film projects.

One such project, “The Destroyer,” a documentary film directed by Rupert Luis Sanchez (“Moktane”), follows MMA fighter Sean Loaffler as he prepares for a fight that could make or break the future of his career.

After spending 16 years as a strong competitor in the sport, Loaffler finally got his chance to make it big in 2012 when he was scheduled to fight in the UFC against Buddy Roberts; however, after suffering a massive ankle injury and being deemed unfit to fight, it was back to the drawing board for Loaffler. The film follows Loaffler after the accident up through his fight comeback, which if he wins, will give him another shot at the UFC.

Director Rupert Sanchez explains, “Michelle and I have been working together for years so when I started developing the idea for ‘The Destroyer’ he was a part of the process from day one. We both decided that being a documentary, in order for the film to stand out visually,  it needed to feel cinematic. He suggested to film at an extremely shallow depth of field and with a free flowing camera; it proved to be the most important decision for the over all look and feel of the film. His undeniable eye for the human moments and complete understanding of my intention for the film is felt in the cinematography.”

Castro’s creative vision for the shots within the film coupled with his expert versatility behind the camera was a huge asset to “The Destroyer,” as he was able to get up close and capture the action of the fight scenes and the deeply emotional struggle Loaffler experiences in this very real story.

“We shot this with DSLRs because of the mobility that they provide. Also when [Sean] was either training or fighting you are very close to the action and you really need to be able to move away if they are throwing punches at each other,” says Castro.

“The Destroyer,” which is currently in postproduction, will begin making its rounds on the festival circuit later this year.

For Michelle Castro the last few years have been incredibly busy, in fact, since 2013 he has lent his ingenious creative skill as a cinematographer to more than 15 films. From his most recent foray into the documentary film format with “The Destroyer” to dramatic narratives like Álvaro Ortega’s “Waltz” and Anish Dedhia’s “Chypre,” and the experimental mystery feature “Los Títeres de Belial,” Castro has revealed his remarkable ability to capture the visual story of each film, bringing each tale to life in a totally different way.

The film “Chypre,” which stars Svetla Georgieva (“Kantora Mitrani,” “A Punishment to Some, To Some a Gift”) and Christoff Lombard (“Waiting for the Miracle,” “Deguello”) takes audiences inside the cold relationship of one couple and examines how a young wife, who is sadly ignored by her husband, begins to desire a woman she encounters on the train. Castro sets the tone of the film with his visual approach in a way that, combined with the actor’s expressions and body language, allows the story to come across without relying heavily on dialogue.

The film, which had its world premier at the New York Indian Film Festival, earned the Best Film Award at the 2014 Los Angeles Thriller Film Festival, in addition to being chosen as an Official Selection of the India International Film Festival of Tampa Bay, the Third Eye Asian Film Festival, the Rainier Independent Film Festival and many more.

Castro admits, “‘Chypre’ is one of the projects that I hold close to my heart… From train stations to mock up trains this was an exciting film to shoot. Anish Dedhia, the director, is a good friend and did an amazing job writing the script. Another reason that I’m grateful for this project is because I got to work with Svetla Georgieva, which marked our third collaboration. I consider her to be one of the best actresses I’ve ever worked with.”

Prior to working as the cinematographer on “Chypre,” Castro directed actress Svetla Georgieva in his dramatic mystery film “Succubus,” which earned the Honorable Mention Award at the Los Angeles Movie Awards in 2014, as well as a nomination for Best Short Film at the Studio City Film Festival.

As for what’s on the horizon, Michelle Castro, who recently wrapped production as the cinematographer on the films “Charlie,” “Sleep,” “The Four Horseman,” “O1” and “The Delicious,” is slated to work as the cinematographer on three new film projects as well as direct an upcoming feature, with more information to be disclosed at a later date.


Amazing Chinese Director Jing Wen!

Film Poster for Jing Wen's film
Film Poster for Jing Wen’s film “A, B, C or D?”

Chinese director Jing Wen is one filmmaker international audiences will definitely want to keep their eyes out for. Jing first began her career as director for television in China where she was one of the directors of the series Yulapai on Chong Qing Television Station.

As the director of a series for Jing Li US, Jing had a chance to meet and direct an interview with one of America’s most-beloved film stars, Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise, Cloud Atlas, Robot & Frank, Stepmom, The Banger Sisters). Jing also directed a show for the NGO organization Voices of Africa Mothers, which delivered in depth interviews with eight African first ladies to viewers around the world.

In 2012 she made her mark on the world as a film director and ever since she has been making huge waves in the industries of China, the U.S. and others. Her film A, B, C or D?, which was released in 2014, follows Gary, a 45-year-old underling in a corporation who is forced to choose between what is right and wrong when a conflict arises putting Gary in the line of fire as the easy scapegoat.

Does he stand up for himself and tell the truth, or let sleeping dogs lie? Well, you’ll just have to watch the film to find out.

The film stars David M. Edelstein from the films I Killed Last Night, The Broom Wedding, I of the Beholder, No Way Out and others.

Jing’s film A, B, C or D? won Best Short Film, as well as Best Cinematographer for Xiaolong Liu’s work, at the Golden Pomegranate International Film Festival in China. The film was also chosen as an Official Selection of the prestigious 2015 Cannes Short Film Corner, the NYC Independent Film Festival, the California Independent Film Festival and others. 

In a Q & A session with the NYFA about her work as a director earlier this year, Jing said, “I like to observe people’s facial expression, voice, and body language in order to understand them. That’s one of the most important skills a director needs to learn and practice because film ideas are inspired by observations from life and they are a reflection of reality.”

Jing’s unique ability to find the hidden stories that exist around her and dissect them into something worth bringing to audiences in the form of captivating films is what separates her from most other directors.

After the success of her film A, B, C or D?, Jing was awarded a grant to begin directing the feature film The Disappeared FishThe Disappeared Fish finished filming in China in July and is slated to have its national debut in theatres across China next year.

The film follows a migrant worker named Guo Jia Ming who was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance in the film My Own Private Deutschland.

The film follows Gao as he is faced with a moral question of whether to save his boss’s son who was kidnapped by a group of ruthless gangsters, or let his boss deal with his own karma, considering that he treats Gao and the other workers terribly and keeps all of their pay checks for himself.

Jing is currently in pre-production with another exciting upcoming film entitled Let’s Get Married, a feature love story that will be produced by Bai Ge Zhuang Film Production Company.

You can check out some of the photos of director Jing Wen being interviewed by China’s largest media organizations including CCTV, CQTV station, Phoenix Satellite Television, Guang Sian Media, and Aidiyi Media.

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