Category Archives: Film

Producer Filippo Nesci Continues the Nesci Family’s Successful Lineage of Creative Innovation

Arturo Nesci
A photo Arturo Nesci took of his brother Domenico Nesci in the early 1900s

Film has been a passion of millions of people all over the world for more than a century. But for Italian producer Filippo Nesci, film is much more than just a passion. It’s a birthright.

Nesci’s family history with film goes back to the early 1900s when his great grandfather, the Baron Arturo Nesci, was a photography enthusiast. 

A generation later, Nesci’s grandfather, Michele Nesci, established himself as a filmmaker, photographer and finally, a film professor at the prestigious Roberto Rossellini Film School of Rome. While Filippo Nesci’s father, Domenico Nesci M.D., took a different path, becoming a creative psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Domenico was also heavily influence by film; and, in the last decade he has incorporated the medium into a innovative creative psychotherapy training that he invented for medical students known as “The Workshop Movies and Dreams.”

After helping his father make a documentary for the Italian online scientific journal of psychotherapy “Doppio Sogno” several years ago, Filippo Nesci was hooked on the filmmaking process, and his innate skill in the industry immediately propelled him on the track to becoming a producer.

Filippo Nesci
Domenico Nesci (left), Filippo Nesci (center), & Professor Dominique Scarfone (right) after presenting a workshop on multimedia psychotherapy at the IPA Congress in Boston on Jul7 23, 2015.

Nesci’s breakout production was the music video for singer-songwriter Meg Myers haunting, beautiful, tour de force Monster. The video garnered more than 1 million views on YouTube despite Myers not being attached to a label or a publicist at the time of its production, which was an impressive feat for Filippo Nesci to pull off.

“It was organizing, planning and getting everything for the director (Abram Pineda-Fisher) in order to make his vision come true,” Nesci said.

Pineda-Fisher’s vision included a night scene in a forest that involved Myers being soaked in buckets of cold water. During the filming of that scene, Nesci went above and beyond the typical call of duty for a producer as he assisted his crew with keeping Myers as comfortable as possible during the challenging shoot.

“I was very impressed with the commitment she had for her first big music video,” Nesci said.

Myers has since signed with major label Atlantic Records, thanks in part to the organic success of the Monster video that Nesci produced. Atlantic Records is part of Warner Music Group, one of the “big three” recording companies and one of the largest and most successful labels in the world.

Nesci parlayed the success of Monster into more music videos, including 80s Fitness by British electronic music production duo KOAN Sound. The video featured an elaborate production of two fitness enthusiast teams who used a combination of parkour and martial arts to whimsically compete to the death in front of intricate, beautifully designed background sets that were created from miniatures.

“This was an extremely ambitious production considering this music video had a very limited budget,” Nesci said.

Nesci went out and covered vital expenses such as food, production design and additional staff that kept the production going. He even found two production designers to build a small gym on set, and scheduled the transportation, construction and overall management of the gym’s creation.

“The results were an amazing music video, and an extremely happy artist crew and record label,” Nesci said. “The director (Tim Hendrix) kept getting more work thanks to the success of the video.”

80s Fitness went on to win Best International Video at the 2013 FirstGlance Film Festival, a 2013 Jury Award for Best Music Video at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, and a College Emmy.

Another Nesci production, the film Wrecks and Violins, also took home multiple awards. The story of a disoriented teenager who needed to overcome a stranger’s bizarre torment with nothing more than a violin and a monkey-suited comrade earned the Golden Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival and was a 2012 NFFTY Audience Award Winner.

Nesci used his innate people skills to create a light and relaxed atmosphere throughout the film’s entire production process which was vital to the project finishing on time and within budget. His most remarkable accomplishment during the film’s production was when he used his diplomatic talents to obtain a permit to film a key scene in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena without spending a dime.

“(It was) not easy to get,” Nesci said. “It required all my unique communication skills.”

But perhaps the most impressive of Nesci’s production feats was when he found a white alpaca for a commercial for the Scotch whiskey distillery Lagavulin. The commercial’s director specifically wanted a white alpaca and a field in which to film the South American llama lookalike. Nesci found not only a white alpaca, but an entire alpaca farm.

“I found him the exact alpaca he wanted, and I also found other different ones that we later filmed just to have more options in post-production,” Nesci said.

The find paid off for Nesci and Lagavulin as the commercial won a 2014 Clio Award.

Nesci has already build an impressive resume of award-winning projects such as films, music videos and commercials, and will no doubt add many more to it in the future.

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Canadian Heartthrob Evan Williams Shines on Screen!

Evan Williams
                                                           Evan Williams shot by Elodie Cabrera

Canadian actor Evan Williams has become a hit with audiences in film, television and stage. He got his start as a performer as an actor in musical theatre, which led him to pursue a career on screen. Working on projects produced by industry giants including HBO, Disney, MTV and ABC, he’s portrayed roles in everything from the wildly popular teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation to the feature film Lloyd the Conqueror, a college comedy with a twist of fantasy.

His wide dramatic range sets him apart from his peers, and was a decisive factor in the decision to cast him as a lead in the sophisticated new French drama Versailles.

Versailles is the highly anticipated upcoming series from Canal+ and SuperChannel, and is the highest-budgeted French television program ever produced. Williams plays the role of Chevalier, a cunning and unscrupulous noble in Louis XIV’s 17th century court based on the real life Chevalier de Lorraine. With Machiavellian efficiency, he works his way into the higher echelons of French royalty, making no effort to conceal his affair with the king’s brother Phillipe.

“He was a ruthless schemer, a guileless manipulator and an imperious presence in the court of the king… It was fun to dive into the real man beneath all the layers,” Williams said. “This position made him very dangerous and very much in danger, and that type of complicated tightrope walk is a dream for an actor to dig into.”

Following in the footsteps of The Tudors and The Borgias, the series is set for release later this year, and producers are pushing for the risque, political intrigue-driven Versailles to compete with American shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards. By filming in English, Canal+ and SuperChannel will undoubtedly court international audiences with the enticing and addictive tale of French royalty in a country on the brink of revolution. The highly ambitious Versailles is slated to begin its captivating hold over television audiences on the French Canal+ channel in the fall.

Constantly showcasing his cross-genre talent, Williams previously played the lead role in Lloyd the Conqueror. The film centers around the subculture of “LARPing,” or live-action role playing. Popularized in the film Role Models, it is a real world version of fantasy games complete with knights, kings, dragons and plenty of props. Williams’ titular character Lloyd is on a mission to dethrone a dark wizard ruling over the group.

A hilarious film crossing college humor with a nerdy edge, Lloyd the Conqueror won the Alberta Media Production Industries (AMPIA) Award for Best Dramatic Feature and Best Original Score.

Williams plays the lead role of Ben in director Carolyn Cavallero’s upcoming drama Paradise Club, about the San Francisco’s cultural renaissance in the 1960’s. The film stars award-winning actors Elizabeth Rice (From Within, My Dog Skip, Mad Men) and Eric Roberts (Runaway Train, The Dark Knight, The Expendables) as members of the counterculture. Williams’ character Ben finds himself falling for Catherine, played by Rice, but they soon find that the cold reality of real life may destroy their utopian fantasies.

“I play a disgruntled alcoholic rock star named Ben, who has hit the peak of his fame and wants out, as he navigates a twisting and turning relationship with a young student named Catherine who is moonlighting as an exotic dancer,” Williams said. “It’s a very elemental story told through the freaked-out lens of the period.”

Paradise Club will begin its tour of the festival circuit in October.

An avid devotee of all things music, Williams got his start singing in choir before he began performing in musical theatre productions. It was those roots which motivated him to write and record one of his songs, “I’m Not Waiting,” for the film Ride, which was selected and requested personally by director and Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt (As Good As it Gets, Mad About You).

As if that array of new projects were not enough, fans of Williams can also catch him in the fifth season of MTV’s Awkward beginning August 31, where he will be appearing in the lead role of Luke.

Alexander Davis: A Child Actor That Needs to Be On Everyone’s Radar

Alexander Davis
Alexander Davis shot by Denise Grant

To find one’s calling can take a lifetime, but Canadian actor Alexander Davis found his in acting when he was just three years old.

Since then, the eight-year-old prodigy has already played lead roles on stage (A Christmas Story, The Little Mermaid) and in film (The Closet, Volition).

Davis portrayed the lead character of Randy Parker in A Christmas Story, which ran for 48 shows in just six weeks at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Davis’ portrayal of the quirky Parker was so well done that it earned him a 2015 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in Live Theatre.

Though Davis’ work in A Christmas Story was a resounding success, it was not without its challenges. Just before intermission of one of the shows, Davis fell on the set’s stairs and hurt his leg. He was bleeding, in pain, and his next stage direction was to walk out the door. That’s when he learned the meaning of “the show must go on.”

“My acting mom was amazing. She just carried on with the show and picked me up to carry me out the door,” Davis said. “I don’t know if the audience knew what had happened was real or not. During intermission, I put ice on my leg and went back out and finished the show. Now that’s show business.”

Despite working through injury, Davis was hungry to act again when the show’s run ended. On the flight home from Halifax, he asked his mother if he could go back for more.

“I feel like I was born to perform,” Davis said. “I loved performing to sold out audiences and making the crowd laugh. I think my role at the Neptune Theatre really prepared me well.”

But Davis’s budding brilliance has not been confined to just the stage. He played the lead character in The Closet, a film in which he flawlessly executed the difficult proposition of playing his own twin.

“I had to be exact with where I stood to make sure the shot worked with both of us in the scene,” Davis said. “They edited it or layered the scene to make it look like there were two of me. You learn a lot being an actor.”

Davis’s rapidly expanding reservoir of acting knowledge continued to expand when he played the lead character in Volition, a film about a terrorist who saw the world through a different lens after he met Davis’ character on a train.

The film’s production schedule forced Davis to adapt, which he did with flying colors.

“We filmed late every night on the train, so I had to change the time I went to bed,” Davis said. “It was worth it and so much fun.”

Volition co-star Romaine Waite (Antisocial, One Night a Stranger) liked Davis’ performance so much that he asked the emerging star to be in a music video for rapper Pas Da’ Millz that Waite would later direct.

From stage to film, Davis has achieved more before his ninth birthday than many actors do in a lifetime. But the young Canadian has barely scratched the surface of his brilliance, and is already taking his career to the next level.

While in L.A. to receive his Young Artist Award earlier this year, Davis caught the attention of veteran Hollywood executive producer Irene Dreayer (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Suite Life on Deck, Smart Guy).

Dreayer’s known as an honest-but-tough executive producer who’s often told parents of young actors that L.A.’s not a starting point for a growing career, but rather an end result of a successful career. She’s usually recommended to families they go home, but that was not the case for Davis, according to the young actor’s parents.

Instead, Dreayer spent a lot of time convincing Davis’ parents that L.A. was where the sought after actor should be, according to Davis.

Most recently, the young thespian used his voiceover chops to portray the characters Brownie and Checkers in the animated TV series Super Why!, a popular, animated kids show about the magical adventures of reading-powered superheroes on PBS.

Whether on stage, film or television, Alexander Davis has proven himself to be a talented, reliable and dedicated actor who will no doubt make his presence felt in Hollywood and beyond for many years to come.

Born to Be a Star: Australian Triple Threat Jessica Waters

Jessica Waters
Actress Jessica Waters

Born into a family of entertainers, actress Jessica Waters has been in the spotlight her entire life. Together with her four siblings and her father, the lead singer of a local band, she was playing music, dancing and acting beginning at just five years old. By the time she was eight she had her heart set on acting professionally, and in the years since she has grown from one of the most promising young Australian talents into an international powerhouse of the screen.

In 2014, Waters joined the cast of The War That Changed Us, a four-part documentary drama series recounting the stories of real-life Australians who fought in World War I. Waters played a nurse traveling with soldiers on the front lines, and said she fell in love with the role.

“This has to be one of my favorite TV shows I have worked on,” Waters said. “I loved the costumes, and dressing in all the lovely clothes they wore really made me feel like I was back in that time, and I had to do some nurse training for the role.”

The War That Changed Us aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2014 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Australia’s entry into the war.

Recently, Waters acted alongside Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans) in Paper Planes. The film tells the story of a young boy who, after suffering the loss of his mother, finds solace and hope in a competition to design the ultimate paper airplane. Filmed in her hometown of Perth, Waters played the mother of one of the children competing in the whimsical tournament and said it was a fun project to be a part of. The film received nominations at both the Australian Directors’ Guild Awards and the Berlin International Film Festival.

In her latest television role, she plays an American reporter in the SyFy Channel adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke classic novel Childhood’s End. As an Australian, the role was a unique challenge for her, and required a great deal of intensive voice training to master the accent required for the part.

“I’ve been training my American accent for a year,” she said. “They loved my accent, and I got the part on the spot.”

Childhood’s End is the first screen adaptation of the science fiction masterpiece. Following the arrival on Earth by a race of mysterious but benevolent aliens, the human race begins to thrive and prosper; however, almost immediately suspicions begin to grow among people about their new isolationist neighbors. As a reporter, Waters is on the scene to cover their arrival. The series airs on SyFy later in 2015.

Waters played a reporter once before in The Great Mint Swindle, the true story of a massive 1982 Australian heist where more than $2 million in gold bars were stolen from the Perth Mint. The crime remains unsolved, adding to the mystery and making it one of Western Australia’s greatest and most famous true crime stories.

“I love being in true stories,” Waters said. “The set was very Australian, and I enjoyed being a news reporter because if I didn’t decide to be an actor, I was going to be a TV reporter.”

Not limited to film and television, Waters’ experience as a performer shines in her work onstage as well.

“I have spent three years working with the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Western Australia,” Waters said. “I was not only an actor, but I was also the dance choreographer and a singer.”

In her time with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, she’s worked on iconic Shakespearean plays including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest and Comedy of Errors.

Audiences can catch Jessica Waters in her upcoming feature film Reality, a satirical comedy in which Waters plays the lead.

“I just know it’s going to be a fantastic film. The script is amazing,” she said. “I have a lead role and it’s a film that kind of makes fun of reality TV shows.”

Reality is currently in the process of filming so eager fans will have to wait to learn more about the project. However, it’s guaranteed to be a fresh look at a genre, which provides a goldmine of comedic fodder.

For Actress Alli McLaren, Performing Runs in Her Blood

Alli McLaren
                                              Actress Alli McLaren shot by David Lee

The vast array of roles masterfully portrayed by Alli McLaren are a testament to the striking technique she’s spent her entire life honing, both onstage and in front of the camera. Following in both her mother and grandmother’s footsteps, the Australian dynamo is a third generation actor in whom the art of performance is deeply engrained.

McLaren’s unique talents stem from so much more than the impressive combination of her inherited genetics, for her upbringing in the theatre and her years of rigorous and dedicated training have put her far above the rest. One of her strongest and most valuable assets is something too many actors lack – real-life experience.

In addition to her acting prowess, McLaren is also a talented and accomplished writer for the screen. McLaren wrote the upcoming film My Year of Silence based on her own experiences. The film follows McLaren as she plays Callie, a role that shines a spotlight on the painful reality of those who cope daily with mental illness and depression.

For years, McLaren fought tirelessly to overcome long and difficult battles with illness and depression. Through that struggle, she gained an intimate and personal understanding of the peaks and depths of human emotion and an insight into the human psyche that is clearly displayed in every part she’s played. From the masterful way that she has transformed herself into the mind and body of every character she has taken on, audiences can expect yet another dazzling performance from the actress as Callie in the upcoming film My Year of Silence, which is being produced by White Night Films.

Though her dramatic flair is impeccable, her recent role in A Writer’s Block, also produced by White Night Films, gave her a chance to show off both her action and comedic chops. The project centers around two writers as the plot of their latest film begins to come to life. McLaren’s character Sophie, one of the characters in the two writers’ script, is kidnapped, and the ensuing rescue mission her older brother embarks on to save her forms the backbone of the film. The quick-action, fights and shootouts were a far cry from her other more cerebral and introspective roles, but in no time she mastered the dance-like combat moves with grace and professionalism — and a little bit of fun, too.

“There was a lot of stage fighting choreography involved in this shoot, which was new to me,” said McLaren. “But I felt like a ninja doing it, which kind of rocked.”

In one of her most powerful roles, McLaren played the lead in Infidelity, directed by Emmy Award-winning actress Blanche Baker. Based on a French script, the film centers around an experiment meant to study the faithfulness of men versus women in committed relationships.

McLaren’s character, Gretchen, is the person responsible for conducting the experiment, and as such, she holds complete control over its success. “Gretchen was really the female power in this film,” McLaren said. “It felt great to play a character with so much power and so much control.”

An exceptional actress by anyone’s standards, McLaren’s upcoming projects include the 2016 release of My Year of Silence as well as a likely sequel to follow, in addition to a planned sequel to A Writer’s Block. The young starlet will no doubt continue to raise the bar for fellow actors across the industry as a whole; and as audiences flock to My Year of Silence, they’ll no doubt witness the internationally sought after talent set new standards for dramatic writing as well.

A Knockout from the Theatre to the Screen!

Alex Luukkonen
Alex Luukkonen in “Ravenscroft” shot by Julio J. Vargas

The incredible stage and screen talents of Scandinavian actor Alex Luukkonen have moved audiences to laughs and tears on three continents, and his latest projects are without a doubt some of his most ambitious to date. A native of Finland, he’s also worked throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S., which has taught him the intricate nature of the human condition, the common denominators of mankind beyond any cultural differences.

Luukkonen, in one of his many theatre roles, joined Academy Award winner Milton Justice’s (Down and Out in America) cast in a production of Clifford Odets’ classic Waiting for Lefty. Set in the years before World War II, the play consists of a series of vignettes, which tie together to address the prominent issues of the impending war, the struggle of workers in the Great Depression, the fear of growing communist sympathies and love trying to survive the desperate times.

In his role as Miller, a chemist with a moral quandary and one of the leading characters, Luukkonen worked closely with the esteemed Justice to perfect his performance. Miller, a lab assistant, is told by his boss that he will be given a raise and promotion but that he must now work under a chemist tasked with developing chemical weapons. An argument erupts between Miller and his boss, and in one of the more dramatic events in the play, Miller angrily refuses the job after punching his boss.

In addition to his role in Waiting for Lefty, as well as the productions of other iconic plays such as Much Ado About Nothing and Grease, Luukkonen is also a seasoned actor on the silver screen where his innate skill and charm complemented by his worldly experience make all of his performances something to write home about.

One of Luukkonen’s latest projects, Pastry, is slated for release this year. The film examines the pressure that society places on women to conform to preconceived standards of body image and sexuality. Directed by Eduardo Barreto, Luukkonen acts alongside Maureen Younger who plays Caroline in the film, a young woman who falls in love with a waitress and lets go of her obsession with dieting. Pastry is a delectably sweet work of powerful social critique that showcases Luukkonen’s acting prowess.

Luukkonen, whose character bears witness to the gradual process of Caroline’s enlightenment, admits that it was an incredible experience working with the British cast of the film.

“Theater is the king in London,” said Luukkonen. “So you get a lot more theater trained and talented people overall per capita.”

Recently, he played the inquisitive son of a detective in Outsider, an exciting pilot starring Luukkonen and Dean Bruggeman. In it, Luukkonen’s character discovers a startling video of a man being held captive by a psycho in clown makeup. He brings it to his father, played by Bruggeman (Don’t Pass Me By, The Time Capsule), who digs into the case. It all leads up to a shocking cliffhanger, which is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

In every role that he’s played to date Luukkonen’s passion for his craft shines through so clearly that it is almost tangible. That kind of performance, delivery and dedication comes only from love, and it is obvious in everything that he’s done that Luukkonen truly loves his art.

“I chose acting because I love it, and fortunately, I had the opportunity to pursue it,” he said. “I wish more people had the chance to pursue their dreams.”