Category Archives: Director

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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