Category Archives: international Talent

SALLY KINGSFORD IS HAPPY TO BE THE HEAVY IN THE AWARD-WINNING “STAMP”

Headshot 3Australia’s Sally Kingsford in known for playing comedic roles. She’s good at it and both peers and public know this. Being funny on camera is an inherent trait for some actors and it most certainly applies to Kingsford…she understands this. As Ashely in the award-winning and commercial hit Australian television comedy series “Summer Heights High”, Sally became an instantly recognizable comedic personality in her homeland, Europe (BBC 3), the US (HBO and Netflix) and other parts (such as the Comedy Channel in Canada). Numerous other productions have made use of the actress’s propensity for comedic moments but it was award-winning director Lukas Menitjes who wanted to flip that concept. He asked Kingsford to appear as the heavy, known as “The Suit” in his film “Stamp.” More known for being the always positive and often abused well natured character, Sally’s portrayal of “The Suit” in “Stamp” is that type of person we all love to hate, or at least strongly dislike. The actress was eager to show a greater breadth of range to her abilities in this film. While she has been often praised for the performances she’s given in a host of beloved productions, “Stamp” allowed her to show how she can bring a darkness to comedy as well.

Lukas Menitjes wanted to create an absurd comedy in “STAMP” and he felt that Kingsford would be the perfect villain for his story. As “The Suit” Sally appears as an obnoxious, self-involved, self-important professional with an over-inflated ego demanding others cater to her demands and condescending attitude. There’s plenty of comedy, based on reality in events of one Monday morning in a coffee shop. Rebecca (the barista) is hounded by a customer (Andrew) to get a free coffee after she refuses to give him an extra stamp on his coffee rewards card. Andrew tries various disguises to trick Rebecca into serving him. Rebecca eventually relents but takes solace in making Andrew the wrong coffee. “The Suit” adds to the chaos of the film (and Rebecca’s stress) by making her life at work a living hell with her demands. In a passive aggressive display, she complains on the phone to her friend about the barista right in front of her. “The Suit” serves to contribute a strong sense of reality by providing a more realistic character for Rebecca (the barista) to interact with in contrast to Andrew’s over-the-top characterisation and actions.

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Ask a director and they’ll likely tell you that the actors they choose for their villains are the ones who present them with a sense of humanity and relatability rather than one dimensional and cartoonish. In spite of her character’s exhibited negativity and rudeness, Sally sees her as very sensitive and donning a harsh defensive exterior to avoid being hurt. Meintjes confirms that it’s the actress’s ability to go deep into a character that caused him to approach Kingsford for the role. He professes, “Sally is an incredibly talented and diligent performer. In STAMP she delivered an excitingly bold and magnetic performance as ‘The Suit.’ The best actors have an insatiable inquisitiveness; this obsession enables them to create memorable performances. I can’t think of a more fitting description for Sally. Her passion is quite unlike the motivation I’ve seen in other actors. She is determined, honest, and possesses unequivocal integrity.”

Kingsford describes her preparation for roles as detective work but perhaps not in the traditional manner followed by most actors. Rather than delving deep into her own character first, Sally prefers a holistic sense of story, viewing the characters and actions from different angles/perspectives and then honing in on her place in the “big picture.” When she finally began focusing on her role in “STAMP” she looked outward. She communicates, “I did a lot of people watching. There is a street in Melbourne called Collins Street and the top end of it is known as the ‘Paris end’; it’s where all the most expensive designer stores are and where the most elite businesses and firms have their offices. This was the kind of place I imagined ‘The Suit’ going to work. I loitered around and watched people going to work in the morning paying particular attention to their physicality and imagined the kind of lives they lived. I knew that Andrew’s actions in the film were going to be over the top so I approached ‘The Suit’ in a very natural manner. I really enjoyed this role that was really a dramatic character in a comedy. I’ve done a lot of work in comedies being the funny one and it was nice to switch that around in this film.”

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Not only was “STAMP” embraced by the public but the short film received three nominations and a win at Australia’s Martini Awards. While the film industry peers who voted for the it appreciated Kingsford and her fellow cast and crew’s talent, the general audience recognized a part of their own lives that was delivered in a way that somehow made a common & difficult occurrence entertaining and enjoyable. Beyond the experience of working with the talented production members of “STAMP”, the woman in “The Suit” notes that there are some valuable life lessons to be taken from the film: 1) Don’t try and cheat the system, it won’t work, 2) Hard work and determination doesn’t always pay off, & 3) Don’t work as a barista…the customers are either incredibly rude or crazy.

 

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Animator Sijia Huang brings joyful characters to life in new film ‘Breakfast’

As an only child, Sijia Huang was always looking for ways to entertain herself. She didn’t have any siblings to play with, and growing up in Chongqing, China, she immersed herself into movies from a young age, finding that it not only passed the time, but consumed her every thought. She knew she had to be a part of that world, and loving drawing from an early age, she became committed to knowing everything she could about animation. She studied her favorite films and scoured video stores to find new movies she could learn from. Now, she is an acclaimed animator, winning audiences around the world over with her unique style and commitment to her craft.

Her films Box Home, Quitting Brave Victory, Measures and Frames and Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil have allowed the world to see just what Huang is capable of. Her ability to generate smooth animation while still maintaining a good balance between tension and looseness generate the perfect rhythm for her films. She knows that in animated films, her work is the entirety of the visual aspect, making up 50 per cent of the movie goers experience, and she knows how to make that lasting impression.

“Just like having good actors or actresses in a film, a professional animator can create lively characters that will contribute lots to the story. A good story is one of the most important parts of a film. The power of a well animated character, a good story, and the aesthetic value behind an animated film is why I want to be a professional animator,” she said.

Huang’s most recent film is titled Breakfast, in which she was both the director and leading animator. She designed and crafted all the puppets and did all the stop-motion animation. Breakfast is a combination of 2D and stop-motion animation. The character design is what intrigued Huang to take part in the film, with a unique take on stop-motion puppets. She also found the script interesting, with funny and unique characters.

The story begins with two hands hitting two eggs. As the hitting goes on, the two eggs start to crack and finally explode into pieces. Two creatures come out of the eggs. One is a duck with hairy human legs. The other one is a muscular man with duck feet. The duck and the man both have a crush on each other and start to dance. In the middle of the dance, the two hands interrupt them by hitting them on their heads. A chase and fight commence. In the end, it turns out all the encounters and fights are happening in a child’s imaginary world when he plays with his toys – a rubber duck and an action figure, during his breakfast.

“The story is more about viewing the world with children’s perspective and the positive messages behind the story include love, support and equality,” said Huang.

Huang began working on the animation back in 2015, and it took over two years to perfect every image. After premiering at the New York Short Film Festival 2018 where it was an Official Selection, the film has already seen great acclaim. It was an Official Selection at the 2018 GUKIFF Animated Short, UK Monthly Film Festival, and the Oniros Film Awards. It also had an Official Screen at the Oregon Shorts section in the 41st Portland International Film Festival. At the Los Angeles Movie Awards, Huang was awarded with Best Animation for her work on the film, and at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival she won Best Director. Needless to say, none of the film’s success could have been possible without her considerable contributions.

“Knowing the film has been so successful means a lot to me, as the director and the leading animator on this film, I had a lot of pressure. At the beginning, I didn’t know if the audiences would like the characters or not. This film is all about these interesting characters, which I personally love and had lots of fun on animating. It turns out that audiences really like it too, Every effort paid off at the end,” said Huang.

Huang was responsible for all the stop-motion animation in Breakfast, which was 90 per cent of the entire animation. Stop-motion requires working with puppets. While making the puppets, she was very careful when it came to the mold and cast process, one of the greatest challenges. When she began the process, she had no experience in casting them, and through trial and error, eventually created characters that were even better than the original design.

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Sijia Huang, Stan Lee, and Yifu Zhou with the Digital Domain team

“I first met Sijia when we worked together on some digital content pieces for Stan Lee, and immediately recognized her exceptional talent and matchless vision. She is one of these rare talents, as she clearly demonstrated in Breakfast, and her reputation precedes her in the industry. Her stop-motion work is renowned for being refreshing in the animation world, as it is simultaneously mature, artistic, and avant-garde,” said Yifu Zhou, Vice President and Visual Effects Supervisor at Digital Domain.

Although they are not human actors, Huang says the puppets require a lot of care. For example, the Duck character has a pair of hairy legs that need special handling and care when animating. Therefore, she chose to only touch the joints that she needed to bend so that the leg hair would not fall off. She also used baby powder to help reduce the stickiness of the silicon surface.

“The ball and socket armatures were so fun to animate. I enjoyed the experience of animating on stage. It is hard to imagine without the ball and socket armatures, how to work on some of the shots. The most difficult part is to animate characters in the air. Two characters in the film are made of silicon and super sculpted. The materials and steal ball and socket armatures make the puppets heavy to animate. In order to stable them in the air, I used special designed rigs, so I can tie the puppets to the flying rigs to create movement in the air,” Huang described.

Music was also a big part of the film. Not only did Huang find the ideal composer in Lance Trevino, she also needed the choreography to be perfect. This required an ample amount of research on Tango dancing in order to perfectly execute the animation. To do so, Huang analyzed the patters of the dance steps and extracted the key movements to fit the animation style. Her dedicated resulted in the Tango being the highlight of the film.

“I loved the film, so animating it was really fun. When you see the characters on this film, you will know why I love them so much,” she concluded.

Be sure to check out Breakfast to know just what Huang is talking about.

Renowned Writer Camilla Sauer Talks Top Projects

Camilla Sauer is one of Germany’s most successful head writers. Over the past 20 years of her career, she’s been accredited for her remarkable work on over a dozen different TV series, produced by some of the biggest German and European TV and Film production companies.

Getting her start as a creative writer at the young age of 19, Sauer proved early on that she was destined to spend her life creating and telling stories. Just three years after her first professional gig, she went from intern to full-time storyliner on Germany’s second highest rated TV series, Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love). With numerous awards won and over 4,5000 episodes aired, Verbotene Liebe circles around the lives of young men and women in Germany, their friends, and their families, and has become well known for its positive representation of LGBT characters and its presentation of controversial issues. The show is produced by UFA Serial Drama (Metropolis and The Blue Angel), one of Germany’s oldest and most distinguished entertainment brands

Sauer worked on Verbotene Liebe for two of its 20 seasons. From there, she climbed the ranks and earned what would be her first of many head writer titles for a season on the crime series Einsatz für Ellrich, of the award-winning production company, Constantin Entertainment.

“Two years later I started working for Alles Was Zählt, where I continued to work for three years,” Sauer said. “I was there from day one and was fortunate enough to be able to create this TV drama with some of the most talented writers. We were all so different, but each and every one of us was passionate about the show. We were encouraged to tell fresh, new, and compelling stories. We all put 100% of our effort into the stories – and it paid off.”

In February of 2008, while Sauer was the head writer on the show, Alles Was Zählt was awarded Blu Magazine’s Best National TV Format award for its portrayal of the relationship between two of its characters, Deniz and Roman. Additionally, Guido Reinhardt, Chief Creative Officer of UFA and producer of the groundbreaking series, provided Sauer with the opportunity to work as a creative producer together with the producer of the TV series Unter Uns, ultimately trusting her to relaunch this show and work with a different team of writers, with a different broadcast station in the process. “Camilla is truly a writer of extraordinary merit and ability,” Reinhardt recently commented of his professional colleague of over 10 years. “She possesses a talent that is rare, and it is her unique combination of talent and experience that has resulted in her becoming one of Germany’s most successful head writers.”

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Camilla Sauer

Having aired in 2006 to the present, Alles Was Zählt is one of the longest running TV dramas in Germany.

While it’s obvious that creative talent is a must-have when it comes to being a successful writer, one of Sauer’s greatest strengths that Reinhardt pointed out: life experience, along with empathy and a sense of structure, are also qualities that mustn’t be overlooked. Sauer is well versed when it comes to all of these, her expansive success as a head writer in the entertainment industry serving as proof. Expanding upon what she’s learned regarding the importance of these assets, Sauer explained, “It takes empathy to create characters and to be able to connect with how they feel and act. Not because you would do so, but because your character with his background, culture, and personality would do so. It takes some life experience because life gives you the best inspiration every day, everywhere. The best stories I’ve ever heard stem from real life experiences. Lastly, structure is needed to be able to take your story to the next level; To create a plot, a script, a scene. I know a lot of writers who are either very creative, but have issues with creating structure, and vice versa. If you have both – you are considered one of the lucky ones.”

In addition to head writer, Sauer has also worked diligently as a creative producer and story consultant on numerous distinguished projects broadcasted on some of the most established networks throughout Europe such as, Soko Familie, Herzflimmern, Unter Uns, the award winning Dahoam is Dahoam, and Lena – Liebe Meines Lebens, the latter which she first began working on a few years post her work on Alles Was Zählt.

“A story consultant in Germany is probably considered a creative producer, or a co-showrunner in the US. It’s someone who works closely with the producer and/or show runner. Together they create the story concept, characters, and the long running plots of the TV series,” Sauer said of her job title. “This particular work is not so much focused on the details like scenes or dialogue, but more so of the development of the whole concept of the TV series. The staff writers break our ideas down into episodes, scenes, and scripts.”

In 2010, Sauer was hired by the academy award winning production company, Wiedemann & Berg (The Lives of Others, WhoAmI, Welcome to Germany, and Dark), to create Lena – Liebe Meines Lebens with showrunner Günter Overman (Storm of Love, Verschollen, and Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenknast). The series title translates to Lena – Love of My Life in English, and is an adaptation of the Argentine series Don Juan y Su Bella Dama, created by Claudio Villarruel and Bernarda Llorente.

It was on Lena – Liebe meines Lebens where Sauer first worked with co-founder and CEO of Wiedemann & Berg, Quirin Berg. Berg, who thinks quite of the writer’s talents, shared, “I have had the pleasure of working with Camilla Sauer and can without a doubt certify that she is an exceptionally talented head writer, and furthermore, one of the best head writers in Germany. Camilla is extremely unique in many aspects. She is outstandingly creative, a very fast thinker, she has a wonderful ability to express her ideas clearly, create deep and three-dimensional characters, and eventually bring them to life. Additionally, she can immediately identify specific problems in a story and articulate a solution to them.”

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Camilla Sauer

Since 2012, Sauer has been staffed as the head writer for Germany’s hit series Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders (Fate – and suddenly everything is different). Produced by Constantin Entertainment, the TV series has been running for eight years, consists of twelve seasons, and was recently picked up for another (1 year).

In Camilla’s words, the idea behind Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders is that, “Things are not happening to you, they are happening for you. Even if it looks like something bad is happening to you, it just creates a new opportunity for us to learn, to grow, and to eventually make better decisions that lead to a better life. ‘Fate’ is about that one single moment, that ‘accident’ that might look like some random situation, that completely changes your life.”

While working on such a long running show for an extended period of time has its challenges, Sauer has demonstrated that she is an expert when it comes to contributing fresh and exciting stories to an ongoing series, and in doing so has played a pivotal role in the success of Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders. Former CEO of Constantin Entertainment Christoph Knechtel raved of the head writer, “Camilla is truly a head writer of extraordinary merit and ability. I was fortunate enough to witness her extraordinary talent in screenwriting when she served as writer, head writer, and showrunner on numerous television series like K-11-Kommissare im Einsatz, Einsatz für Ellrich, Schicksale, In Gefahr, Im Namen Der Gerechtigkeit, and Soko Familie for huge networks such as Sat. 1, RTL, VOX, and more. Her demonstrated skill and unparalleled creativity on these and other projects have earned Camilla widespread recognition and international acclaim as one of German television’s leading writers.”

Presently, Sauer is in development with the German TV production companies, UFA Serial Drama, Constantin Entertainment, and Bastei Media, on a few pilots and television series while continuing to write for Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders.

 

For more information on Camilla Sauer, please visit: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4646044/?ref_=nv_sr_1
 

Article Written By: Ashley Bower

YUXIN BOON HEARS THE ART IN FILM

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Sound editor Yuxin Boon works in the film industry but when she is asked exactly what a sound editor does, she often explains that it’s like being in a band. Boon does have a background in music so this isn’t simple conjecture…she knows what she is speaking about. Yuxin describes, “The general public has a view that the only job of a sound editor job is dealing with sound effects. The truth is that editors are divided into different categories of sound, like dialogue, Foley, and ambience. A sound editor is not usually in charge of remaking all the sound the audience hears. Editors are assigned to one particular category of sound but also applying their work to the overall sonic image of the film. It’s like a band; every member has one instrument and task. They need to play their own instrument while also working cohesively as a team to make the music and deliver the emotional intention of the song.”

As a professional female sound editor focusing on dialogue and Foley editing in the film post-production industry, YuXin has created a career path in the industry that includes working with Oscar-Award winners (as she did in “Heavy Rain” with Bill W. Benton) that display nature’s fury, romance films (“Christmas in Mississippi” & “Enchanted Christmas”), Westerns, and a myriad of other genres. A sound editor is required to be creative as well as detailed, which are the characteristics which drew her to this work. While many vocations in the TV and film industry steer professionals towards a certain genre, it’s the absence of this aspect for sound editors which allows professionals like Boon to test themselves to apply their talents a wide variety of story types. While the application of abilities may differ, the means by which they are applied is often universal.

A sound editor must possess a discerning eye, well…perhaps ear is the appropriate body part in this particular scenario. Talent is a requirement and the application of these are a given but Boon believes that this is only a baseline for contributing to a production. One needs only to watch your favorite movie with the sound down to gain an immediate appreciation for the work of a sound editor. Even this simple example does not properly communicate the affect a sound editor has on the entertainment. The work of Boon and her peers involves layers upon layers of sound that weave together a sub-story that most of don’t ever fully appreciate. In Yuxin’s opinion, a good editor not only inspires the other professionals on the production team to perform at the next level but also carries the emotion to the audience for a better understanding. A good sound editor can offer intriguing soundscapes which the director is looking for as well as combining it with creative designs and techniques. Skill is an element that can be used to evaluate editors’ work, but it’s far from the only one. Creativity may be the most important trait a sound editor can bring to those they work with.

It’s likely that Boon’s unique perspective came from her path to sound editing. As a child of parents who were not musicians but great lovers of music, her parents took her to piano lessons and encouraged (but did not push) YuXin towards making music a part of her life. While she thought that her aim would be in the music world, Boon took a film class and discovered that her natural inclination towards detail and her finely tuned ear (thank you piano) made her highly adept at timing and sound editing/design. The process of mixing different elements to create completely new sounds, such as the dinosaurs’ roar in “Jurassic Park” fascinated her and stimulated her creatively. As Boon discovered that a sound editor is given the opportunity to work with aspects like dialogue, Foley, and other sonic presentations of a film, she became increasingly drawn to it. Trail blazers like Singapore’s Ai-Ling Lee (Oscar-Award Nominee for La La Land) continue to reinforce the idea that an Asian woman/professional has a place in the film industry of Hollywood.

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Any art form must grow. To achieve this requires individuals with fresh perspectives who understand and respect the process and individuals which created the template being used. Yuxin Boon has already created a community of peers and professionals who recognize this in her work and her view of her own application of her talent. The very fact that she sees her role in a manner that is simultaneously similar and differs from the traditional idea indicates the reasons why she has found herself so busy with an eclectic set of productions these days.

YouTuber Ryan “Bucks” Hughes promotes Cineplex and WorldGaming for large tournament

When Ryan Hughes made his first video on YouTube, he never expected the fame he would achieve from the platform. At the time he was just 17, growing up in the small town of Horsham, England. Like many at that age, he was dealing with the social stresses of teenage years. He also was struggling with anxiety and depression, dealing with what seemed like unsurmountable personal problems at the time. He turned to YouTube as an escape; making videos under the alias “Bucks Fizz” was a way to make his audience laugh and briefly forget about the struggles he was dealing. Now, five years later, Hughes is known internationally as “Bucks”, a celebrated YouTube content creator and social media influencer, and he attributes those difficult years to the success he has today.

Hughes passions for gaming and making videos has led to his YouTube channel having over 400,000 subscribers from all over the world. When he first began his channel, he played a game called Runescape, which his first couple of years using the platform was focused on. As he began to average more views per video, he started to expand his content, playing more video games and making videos about his thoughts and opinions, as well as day-to-day experiences. Eventually, he found he could make a career out of his favorite hobby, and has never looked back.

“I found YouTube as a platform where you could be creative without having to speak, or even show your face if you didn’t want to. Reaching out to an online audience in a situation like this and receiving compliments and support on your work only motivates you to keep striving forward. Growing up through my teens, I was an avid gamer, I use to play games with my friends all the time, which brought the YouTube world of gaming to life, where we watch YouTube for guides, entertainment and more. This then sparks up personalities that you enjoy watching in relation to what you’re interested in, which is and for me, was a very desirable thing,” he said.

Hughes fame and influential power over his audience allows him to work with relevant brands to help grow their customer base. One of these brands was the North American theatre giant, Cineplex. When hosting their Cineplex WorldGaming Canadian Championships this year, they reached out to several influencers to help gain awareness for the competition, “Bucks” was one of those few.

It was a pleasure to work with Ryan and his agency of record Studio 71,” said Oliver Silverstein, Marketing Manager at WorldGaming. “Ryan creates compelling content on his channel and has a very loyal following. We look forward to working with Ryan again in the future.”

Hughes promoted the competition through his videos in August and September of this year. Playing the game Counter Strike: Global Offensive, he was able to inform his viewers of the competition and provide them with information of how to sign up and attend. Although he is based in England, Hughes has a large fan base in North America, which the tournament was open to. Through his campaign, he was able to generate over 200,000 impressions and create awareness for the tournament.

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Ryan “Bucks” Hughes

Earlier this year, Cineplex and WorldGaming approached Hughes to promote the competition. They knew with his vast audience and creative videos, he could find a fun and unique way to help promote the tournament. Hughes was happy to generate interest in the tournament, and was invited to the finals in Toronto from September 22nd to 24th, where the winner would take home $90,000. This was the first of its kind for this type of collaboration, as Hughes’ videos are for the entertainment aspect of gaming and are generally watched by those who play for fun, rather than the professionals. The campaign was the ideal way to integrate both the fundamental entertainment side of E-Sports games and the professional side.

“E-Sports is such a huge and increasingly dominating part of our community, and I want to support it in so many ways. Being offered this position to promote such a large tournament was an honor and beneficial to myself to shed my personal light on it. Although I’m more on the entertainment side of CS:GO opposed to the professional scene, I always look up to the professionals who are very talented in what they do. I wanted to make this video to promote a huge tournament and be involved in such a spectacular event,” said Hughes.

Hughes believes it is crucial that both the entertainment and creative side of E-Sports games, where people such as himself create entertaining videos about the games collaborate with the professional side. They are completely different to each other, the professional scene’s target audience are those who take the game very seriously, whereas the entertainment scene has a more relaxed approach, targeting a huge amount of people who just enjoy playing every so often. To combine both these huge audiences together builds our community, both synergise and help each other.

Hughes enjoyed being able to be seen as a professional for the promotion. In his initial video promoting the tournament, Hughes continued his trademark enthusiastic act, but used extensive use of sound and lighting in front of the camera to create an elite atmosphere to give insight into how “crazy” it would be to enter and win such a tournament, with a huge prize pool of $90,000. He also had to have a player photo taken, as well as work closely with other professionals of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, a favorite game for the influencer.

“I took this promotion very seriously as it’s not often to see such a collaboration. I wanted my audience to feel the professionalism, just like an average tennis player would feel how great their sport’s top athletes were,” he said.

Collaborating with Cineplex and WorldGaming was just a fraction of Hughes’ success in the past year. He was sent to Australia with PAX to have a meet and greet with fans and meet other successful social influencers, and he worked with SkinSilo to promote the platform and once again use his brand to create awareness. Despite such success, his humble beginnings are still a part of him, as he is thankful to do what he loves each day.

“If it wasn’t for finding this passion and expanding my hobby into what it has become today, I’m not quite sure where I’d be in life. It’s changed everything, from all those years ago where I feared any form of social confrontation, leaving the house, self-confidence. This has a very big impact on how seriously I take what I do. I know a lot of people that will just simply ‘put off a video’ due to being a little tired or busy, whereas I’ll stay up through all ends of the night if I have to in order to finish a project for my planned distribution time,” Hughes concluded.

From Narratives to Documentaries, Producer Assya Dimova Brings Powerful Stories to the Screen

Producer Assya Dimova

Film is a remarkable medium. It can make us laugh, cry, scream, think, and occasionally all of the above. It offers weary audiences an escape from the tedium of the real world, and it gives them a glimpse of places they may never see otherwise. That’s exactly how producer Assya Dimova first fell in love with film, and ultimately with filmmaking.

As a producer, Dimova is essentially a project’s chief architect. It’s her responsibility to guide the entire process, from finding talent to organizing the countless moving parts that make up every production. But having spent nearly her entire life producing films, plays and events, Dimova is a master of putting on a show.

Born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria, Dimova has worked in nearby Italy and Germany for much of her professional career. The rich culture and artistic traditions of Europe have greatly influenced her work. Her upcoming film “Our Blood Is Wine” is a tribute to one of the continent’s most under appreciated contributions.

“It focuses on Georgia’s fascinating history of winemaking, past and present,” Dimova explained. “Director Emily Railsback and award-winning sommelier Jeremy Quinn provide intimate access to rural family life in the Republic of Georgia as they explore the rebirth of 8,000-year-old winemaking traditions almost lost during the period of Soviet rule.”

Dimova served as a line producer on the film, which is slated for release in 2018. In her position she was responsible for overseeing the planning of the film and ensuring the day-to-day production went according to plan and stayed within the budget. It’s a difficult job in any production, but the challenges are even more pronounced on a feature-length documentary like “Our Blood Is Wine.”

Traditional filmmaking is an indescribably intense process, and there are certainly benefits and drawbacks from working with tightly-controlled sets, schedules, and scripted dialogue. Documentaries, by their very definition, offer filmmakers none of that control. It was up to Dimova to plan for and provide everything director Emily Railsback needed to tell the story, with no telling what that story would ultimately be.

Because of her, “Our Blood Is Wine” grew into a beautiful story about an ancient art form in an ancient place, and about the families that still live on the same land and in the same pastoral way as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. When the film is released in 2018, audiences will be able to see for themselves how the prehistoric craft of winemaking in Georgia is still thriving there today.

Prior to her work on the documentary, Dimova was the producer of the 2015 drama “Stygian.” The film is the tragic tale of a dying man who spends his last hours of life haunted by his mistakes.

“‘Stygian’ is a Western following the trek of an old gunman across a barren desert. Injured by a fall from his horse and suffering from dehydration and illness from an infection, his time is running out,” Dimova said, painting an image of hopeless desperation that the film captures brilliantly. “The central themes of sin, guilt and atonement make for a powerful and thought-provoking story.”

“Stygian” immediately won audiences over with its distinct blend of minimalist qualities and emphasis on visual storytelling. It was showered with critical acclaim and was named an Official Selection at five film festivals, including the 2015 Santa Fe International Film Festival and the 2016 Wild Bunch Film Festival.

Film has always been a major influence for Dimova, but her work as a producer isn’t limited to the screen. Some of her most impressive work has been as a curator of events, including the prestigious Leiden International Film Festival and the Hollywood Film Festival. As a curator, Dimova watches the films submitted by potential festival entrants and works to decide which ones the festival will screen. Her experience as a producer is invaluable to her curatorial work, which demands a fastidious and analytical approach that she’s honed through producing her own films.

“As a producer, one must have a wide range of taste and ability to spot up-and-coming talent. With my international experience and background I’m able to critique submissions for both their production and creative value,” Dimova said. “As in my personal producing career, I always go for story first and how captivating, original and authentic it is. I always look for something fresh that surprises me.”

Assya Dimova has built her career around her ability to examine every project not just from the perspective of a producer, but through the eyes of the audience. Her love of film inspired her to seek out and empower filmmakers with new stories to tell; and by giving them the platform and means to create and share their work, Dimova herself has continued the work of inspiring future filmmakers in audiences around the world.

An Exclusive Discussion of Award Winning Actor Christopher Capito’s Best Work

To be an actor is to be an expressive, fearless storyteller; Christopher Capito has been one of these since he was seven years old. Over the past fourteen years, it is a job he has fully embodied.

Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Capito initially got his start in a theater troupe before making the transition into film. Since then, his work has been viewed by a wide range of audiences and has been nominated for and won numerous awards at a variety of film festivals.

In the 2017 short film Rotten Grapes, directed by Marc-Ivan O’Gorman (The Black Magic, A Kiss and a Click, and Blood Coloured Moon), Capito plays Andres De La Vega, a grandchild of a Latino woman who is recently deceased. “The film won more than two festivals, and I won the award of best ensemble with the rest of the main cast,” Capito stated.

Rotten Grapes is a sitcom that follows the De La Vega family after the loss of their beloved grandmother. With the promise of leaving the entire fortune to only one of her grandchildren – the one who holds the most family values – the story delves deeper into the lives of each grandchild, revealing their individual troubles along the way.

The cast was lead under the guidance of experienced acting coach Michael Aspinwall, who’s known for his acting work as Dr. Shelby in the 2012-2013 TV series WWE Raw, and has also worked for companies such as Titan Sports Productions, USA Network, and World Wrestling Entertainment. Given the film’s comedic tone combined with Capito’s prior experience in both short and long form improv, the pair worked well together in training. Expanding upon this, Aspinwall said, “While the other actors had trouble bringing the characters alive, Capito didn’t have to make any effort. He has a natural timing for comedy, and that’s something you can’t learn. Capito was born with that.”

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Actor Christopher Capito

Also in 2017, Capito co-wrote and starred in the three-time award winning short film Milk Fang. “In Milk Fang, I played the main character named Andrew. The project is about a young vampire who lives in a conservative vampire family. In this world of vampires, there are two types: blood drinkers (who represent the societal norm), and the milker (who are vampires who drink milk instead of blood, and are an analogy to gay people),” Capito explained. “In the story, the young vampire Andrew comes out of the coffin with his parents, and has to face the prejudice of the rest of the vampire society.”

Ultimately exemplifying its success, Milk Fang was awarded with the titles of Best Screenplay, Best LGBTQ Film, and Best Sci-Fi Short Film at three different film festivals. It was directed by Nicholas Joseph Cunha (Red Souls, Outdated, and Daisy) and written in a collaborative effort. Two-time Daytime Emmy Award winner and Primetime Emmy Nominee George McGrath (Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, On the Television, and Tracey Takes On), who also worked as one of the three writers of the film, speaks highly of his writing partner and actor Capito, affirming, “Christopher has a special talent when it comes to writing and acting out real, human stories. He also has the ability to play multiple races, such as Latino, Italian, and Iberian, as well as a wide age range of 13 to 20 years old.”

Aside from his natural talent, this criterion played a crucial role in casting Capito as the main “Chambelan” named Santiago in one of his first U.S. based short films back in 2016, Terintañera. The story of Terintañera revolves around the Quinceañera party, a celebration that is a vital part of Capito’s culture. The film was based in Los Angeles, ultimately showing how the Latin culture is a growing minority. Additionally, the role of Sebastian provided Capito with the perfect opportunity to show his ability to connect with both the American and the Latin cultures.

Elaborating on this, Capito said, “For me, playing Santiago was an amazing experience. Not only was I challenged as an actor with having to revert back to thinking as a younger version of myself in order to pull inspiration from my Latin roots via experiences from a much earlier age, but I was also given the chance to rediscover my culture and ultimately revel in the nostalgia of growing up in it.”

 

For more information on Christopher Capito, please visit: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7462667/?ref_=tt_ov_wr