Category Archives: international Talent

Brazil’s Samar Kauss is a Multi-Faceted Editor, Director of Photography and Humanitarian

Photo1_Kauss
Samar Kauss is a Brazilian filmmaking tour de force.

 

Brazil’s Samar Kauss has proven herself to be a filmmaker to watch, as any project she is attached to gains immeasurable success. Hailing from Brazil, Kauss has established herself as an internationally recognized editor, lending her services to some of her home country’s most distinguished productions over the past decade.

Native Brazilians may recognize her for her sustained work on the highly popular television show GNT Fashion, the Brazilian equivalent of E! News, which examines all things fashion, pop culture, and celebrity gossip. Since 2001, Kauss worked as an editor for GNT Fashion for several years, working alongside some of the country’s most notable celebrities, directors, and creatives across the entertainment industry. The show, distributed on Brazil’s leading network TV Globo, one of the country’s largest broadcast stations, reaches over 180 million homes in Brazil, rivaling that of even some of the most popular American productions.

Kauss does not let the bar lie with only one immensely popular television show, however. She has also worked as an editor for the highly popular series Mesa Para Dois, (Table For Two), a culinary series hosted by the renowned Brazilian celebrity chefs Flavia Quaresma and Alex Atala. The two chefs are nationally famous for their entertaining, yet informative series in which Kauss’ job is to propagate the show’s energetic pacing, and to support the comedic timing of the two chefs as they dive through local community’s in search for the most rich and flavorful recipes around Brazil and internationally. As a longstanding editor on the program, Kauss ran a tight ship, and was able to understand, envision, and articulate through her cuts exactly what the directors and producers of the show had in mind for the final visual product. The show’s executive producer, Alessandra Casado, had this to say: “Thanks to the tight, polished editing skills demonstrated by Samar, Mesa Para Dois was received tremendously well and garnered a substantial viewership of up to 183 million Brazilians.”

In addition to her work as an editor, Kauss also has worked hand-in-hand with the Australian government’s Department of Health as a leading Director of Photography for their government-funded educational documentary, aimed to raise international awareness and pledge support to a large and thriving aboriginal tribe known as the Wadeye Community, who live in the rural Northern Territory of Australia. The documentary has had a significant impact on the aboriginal tribes of Australia, and was hailed for its significant cultural impact across the community.

Whether it’s landing leading roles on Brazil’s leading television networks or extending her talents to a noble, humanitarian cause for Australia’s Department of Health, Editor and Director of Photography Kauss has certainly taken the international entertainment film and television industry by storm.

Veteran Film-TV Stunt Performer and Actor Carson Manning shares his story

IMG_2069.jpeg
For more than 25 years, Carson Manning has brought his stunt performing and acting talent to film and TV productions.

 

The inspiration was sparked for Carson Manning when he was growing up watching films and TV shows in Toronto with his grandfather, Frank Billing. Manning was raised by Billing and by his mother, Pixie, after his father left when he was born. Manning and ‘Grandfer’ took it all in together, from classics to sitcoms to reruns, and everything in between. The magic of moviemaking and television stirred an irresistible urge to be a part of it all.

“As a small boy, I never missed watching the Academy Awards, even till now,” Manning said. “I always dreamed I would work and act in the film industry. I always enjoyed the amazing talent I would see and how actors could become someone else.”

What started as a boyhood dream would materialize into a rare reality. Manning’s destiny wasn’t to view from the audience, but rather to be an on-screen figure entertaining them. He tapped into the perilous world of stunt performing and is also a formidable actor of praiseworthy merit nearly 30 years experienced.

Manning has braved car and motorcycle stunts, fight scenes, hard falls and hits in Fox’s box office smash, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” Columbia Pictures’ “Pixels” starring Adam Sandler, 2014’s “RoboCop” reboot starring Joel Kinnaman, Sony’s “Pompeii” starring Kit Harington and New Line Cinema’s “Shoot ‘Em Up” with Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti, to name a few.

This year, Manning served as stunt performer, stunt driver and stunt rigger for the highly anticipated “Suicide Squad” from writer-director David Ayer. Warner Bros. is releasing the picture globally August 5 and it features a star-studded cast including Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and others.

Manning has collaborated with and engaged his talents alongside a list of names analogous to the Hollywood Walk of Fame including Oscar winning actors Denzel Washington, Rod Steiger, Timothy Hutton and Halle Berry. Other notables Manning has worked with include the late comedy legends George Carlin and John Candy, as well as the famed Second City “SCTV” cast, Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey, Oscar nominees Will Smith, Hugh Jackman and Sir Ian McKellen and “Star Trek” icon Sir Patrick Stewart.

First showing a flair for performing when he was going through public school, Manning was inspired by classic comedy shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” the Dean Martin Roast and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” He actually went to St. Clair Jr High School with Kiefer Sutherland in Toronto and developed a reputation as a class clown who found himself in trouble often for disrupting lessons with improv and mime skits of his own creation. When the charades caught the attention of Manning’s school principal, he was made to go from class to class performing the skits that otherwise resulted in discipline. Manning would go on to take improv and comedy classes, but never ventured into the world of stand-up. His performing future laid elsewhere.

Many stunt performers come from a martial arts background that allows them to deliver the needed action sequences on film with authenticity. Manning’s path instead included stints in athletics that proved similarly befitting. He exceled in track and field, and has played hockey since he was 4 years old. When he was young, his grandfather gave him a unicycle that sharpened his balance early on, and Manning also participated in dancing, horseback riding and dirt biking.

“I used to love driving anything and fast,” he said. “So with all that, it gave me some very great skills that I learned to perfect for what I ended up doing later in life.”

Acting, though, came before stunts. Manning was initially steered to break into the business by taking extra work. One of his very early roles came in 1987 where he played a gang member on the award-winning CTV crime drama, “Night Heat.” A year later, Manning played a rioter on an award-winning CBC series called “Street Legal.” That inception to filmmaking was all Manning needed to discover his true passion.

On TV, he would go on to act in William Shatner’s “TekWar,” Paul Haggis’ “Due South,” HBO’s Golden Globe nominated “Gotti,” Fox’s hit “Goosebumps” series, the Stephen King, Emmy-winning mini-series, “Storm of the Century” and more. Manning got his start in film acting in 1994 when he played prisoner characters in both “Car 54, Where Are You?” with David Johansen and John C. McGinley, and in “Trapped in Paradise” with Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey. He would go on to act in the cult comedy classic “Half Baked” starring Dave Chappelle, in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” and in “The Hurricane,” from seven-time Oscar nominated producer-director Norman Jewison (“Fiddler on the Roof,” “Moonstruck,” “Jesus Christ Superstar”).

In “The Hurricane” – that stars Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who was wrongfully imprisoned for murder – Manning played a prison guard and shared scenes with Washington. In one on-screen instance, Carter meets Canadians in prison for the first time who are trying to help him. Carter gets mad and tries to leave his table when Manning’s character gets in his way and assures him to relax.

“It was a nice, moving scene,” Manning said. “It was a pleasure to work with him and of course having Norman Jewison direct me. It was a big thrill working and acting for Mr. Jewison.”

Manning’s stunt performing career is littered with coveted credits both on TV and the big screen. He got started with stunts in 1993 on CBS’ Gemini-nominated action series, “Top Cops.” Since then, Manning has performed, rigged, coordinated and doubled stunts for shows such as FX’s “The Strain,” the CW’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Syfy’s “Defiance,” History’s “Gangland Undercover,” the CW’s Emmy-nominated “Nikita,” Syfy’s “Alphas” and more. Manning has most recently performed stunts for the independent action film, “Gridlocked,” starring “Prison Break” star Dominic Purcell. He’s also done stunts for and plays an assassin in NBC’s forthcoming “Taken” prequel series based on the film franchise that starred Liam Neeson.

Stunt coordinator/performer Brian Jagersky has worked on more than 100 different films and TV series including “The Incredible Hulk,” “300” and “X-Men.” Jagersky and Manning have collaborated in delivering stunts for several productions, namely “Shoot ‘Em Up,” “Pompeii” and for the Emmy-nominated CW action series, “Nikita.”

For “Nikita,” Jagersky served as stunt coordinator and said, “Carson performed stunts in many key scenes in the show, demonstrating his extraordinary prowess in precision driving and fighting skills. One of his most notable action scenes was a scene where he breaks into a house to look for someone. After stepping into a kitchen with all-glass windows, machine guns and explosions begin bursting the windows and Manning gets hit causing a big chest explosion, and then gets jerked across the room backwards into a large gas stove. This scene was incredibly performed and demonstrated his exceptional technique.”

Training and fine tuning the body is a necessity for stunt performing, but it doesn’t stop there. “As a stunt man, you always have to be training and keeping your body in tune and you have to have the skills to accomplish stunts that you are called upon to do,” said Manning.

Those types of skills showed up again with Manning’s work with TJ Scott, a 30-year, Canadian Screen Award winning director-writer-producer. Scott has directed hit shows such as “Orphan Black,” “Gotham,” “Spartacus,” “Longmire,” “Dark Matter” and many more.

Scott directed Manning in episodes of “The Strain” and “12 Monkeys.” “In “The Strain,” Scott said, “Mr. Manning performed wonderful stunt acting that totally brought the episodes to life with his natural way of simulating action. He played a father being harassed by a group of marauders who ends up getting away in a car with his family and crashes into stuff along the road. On the episode of “12 Monkeys,” Carson played a scientist who gets killed in a cross fire of an important scene. Mr. Manning is a stunt performer who has done wonders in both the film and television industry, and is certainly well-known and revered to come out of Canada.”

Manning has stunt doubled for many actors throughout his career including talents such as Hugh Jackman, Joe Penny, Graham Greene, Tim Daly, Victor Webster, Colm Feore, Scott Highland, Jay O. Sanders, John Shea and others.

“As a stunt double, I work very close with actors so they feel confident that they have a double who is going to make them look good, as well as be there for them when they need me,” he said. “Sometimes the lead actor will do his own stunts, so it is my job to make sure the actor is safe along with the stunt coordinator. I will make sure the actor is padded in case they have to fall down or if the actor is throwing a punch or taking a punch, I demonstrated the proper way to execute that without actually getting punched in the face, but make it look like it did happen.”

Combining Manning’s dual talents – stunt performing and acting – makes for an invaluable qualification when it comes to film and TV production that’s few and far between. It’s not often casting decision makers elect stunt performers for character roles, but the paradox is one defied by Manning’s career achievements. He brings a wealth of know-how from stunt perspectives and has also proven to be a talented asset as an actor, a notion that makes budgeting sense for producers.

“Being a good stunt performer who can act is great for a production,” Manning said, “as they save money by having an actor who can do his own stunts, as well they do not have to spend more money bringing in a separate double for the actor too.”

In looking back from when he was a boy watching movies and TV shows with his grandfather to where he’s ascended to today, Manning says, “All I can say is I love the business, I feel very fortunate and to be a part of it has been a thrill.”

The journey continues for Manning, who has been attaching to act and perform stunts for forthcoming projects in 2016 including writer Sebastian MacLean’s feature film, “Tuff,” writer-director Travis Grant’s “Time Man” and other exciting projects that are presently under wraps.

From Australia to Hollywood, Award-winning Actress has shown who is ‘Next,’ what ‘Love Is’ and a whole lot more

DSCN1193 (1)
Kayla Strada is an award-winning actress from Australia known for her standout roles in the films “Next” and “Love Is…”

 

Kayla Strada, an Australian actress known for her award-winning performance as Chelsea Johnson in the short drama film, “Next,” has been dazzling international audiences for years for her refined character portrayals in film, TV, commercials and theatre. The enticing Strada has a track record of swelling success. With demanded talent, passion for the craft and a look tailor made for a career in front of the cameras, Strada has risen to international prominence for her standout acting facilities.

Strada’s star quality was recognized in no time by the ultra-competitive industry that is acting. When she was just 17 years old, Strada was cast among thousands of auditioning actors as the beloved character, Betty Boop, for Universal Studios Singapore.

IMG_2038.PNG
Kayla Strada was cast as Betty Boop for Universal Studios Singapore.

She’s since gone on to act in films championed by award-winning filmmakers such as Stan Harrington and Tessa Blake. Strada has acted in “Home and Away,” a 28-year running soap opera that’s the most awarded show in Logie history (Australia’s version of the Emmys), in commercials for Universal and Fox and in theatrical productions of quintessential shows such as “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “West Side Story” and more.

Strada was tabbed for a coveted scholarship at the McDonald College — Australia’s top performing arts school headquartered in Sydney — and also perfected her craft at Australia’s National Institute for Dramatic Arts.

After moving to the U.S., Strada attended Los Angeles’ renowned Stella Adler Academy of Acting, which boasts famed alums such as Oscar winner Benicio del Toro (“Traffic”),  Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (“Spotlight”) and Golden Globe winner Henry Winkler (“Happy Days”), among dozens more.

“The real art of acting, I feel, starts from theatre,” Strada said. “The theatre background shaped me as an actress because of the amount of work involved in the collaboration with others. Working with other people’s ideas and your own brings what’s on paper to life. With theatre, you’re never really finished. It’s taught me it’s an ongoing learning experience.”

Strada hails from the city of Gosford that is situated on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, just outside of Sydney. Part of her initial lure to acting came after watching Universal’s 2003 reimagining of an iconic story that’s moved audiences for decades.

“The story all began after watching Peter Pan,” Strada said. “And no, it’s not the story of ‘I never want to grow up, so that’s why I act.’ I think I was about 13, kinda when I thought of myself as a woman. I had a child crush on Peter Pan, then played by Jeremy Sumpter, and really wanted to meet him. The only way to meet him was to be an actor myself. Obviously, my inspiration for acting changed, but that’s where it semi-started.”

Strada’s early taste in film and TV was influenced by her mother, Mary, who made a point to have Strada and her brother, Joseph, watch movies based on true stories.

Added Strada, “I am a big fan of Cate Blanchett. She is a big inspiration because she still goes back to her foundation and still does a lot of theatre, as well as the film side. She knows how to juggle both really well.”

11891142_10152965101202041_4395991120329263447_n.jpg
Actress Kayla Strada reflected on performing the character, Chelsea Johnson: “She taught me to never give up.”

Strada’s own performing began on the stage. Her first big role came in the Gosford Musical Society production of “West Side Story,” where she played Anybody’s, the stubborn tomboy who joins the Jets gang in the story.

“It was super funny for me because I was probably the most European looking girly girl playing the part of an American tomboy, but I had a blast exploring that character,” she said.

It was another character, however, that Strada first performed on stage who holds a special place in her heart and has served as the catalyst for recurring success. Strada debuted one of her favorite characters — Chelsea Johnson — for a memorable high school theatre project. She developed and performed the character, who was a familiar someone that hit close to home.

“Chelsea Johnson’s secret is the same as mine,” Strada said. “We both share the fact that we are dyslexic.”

And both equally brave. Chelsea is a character Strada describes as a bubbly, bright go-getter who has her sights set on being a star actress, despite her impediment. “Cold reads are her obstacles and she is motivated to prove to herself and to others that she can do it.”

Effectively performing a monologue brings its own share of challenges, but delivering one all the while overcoming dyslexia is a feat of remarkable merit. That’s precisely what Strada did.

“To have the audience laughing at me at the beginning, then to not hear a pin drop by the end of my monologue was the most satisfying feeling as an actor,” said Strada. “To have a judge who was examining my performance tear up at the end of my high school performance exam was more then worth it.”

What was gained beyond acing the dramatic test?

“She taught me to never give up,” Strada said.

And Strada didn’t give up the character either. She reprised Chelsea Johnson for a short film called “Next,” whereby this time Chelsea auditions for Hamlet, but has unwittingly memorized the wrong lines and is asked to cold read for the part in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

“Chelsea is forced to face her fears and insecurities to reveal her hidden secret,” Strada said.

Strada’s groundbreaking performance in “Next” was recognized with a Best Actress award at the 2016 Nova Film Fest (Virginia) in April. “Next” was also nominated for Best Short and was the runner-up for Best Dialogue Short at the 2015 Action on Film Festival (Monrovia, Calif.).

13271658_10153468919107041_1888822087_o.jpg
For her role as Chelsea Johnson in “Next,” Australian actress Kayla Strada won the Best Actress Award at the 2016 Nova Film Fest.

Stan Harrington directed “Next” and is a multi-award-winning director, producer and actor known for “Lost Angels,” “Perception,” “The Craving Heart,” and many more.

“I asked Stan if he would film it. When he said, ‘No,” I asked if he would just read the script first. He came back the next day and said, ‘We’re filming it this weekend,’” said Strada.

The pair would collaborate again on the short romantic drama, “Love Is…” with Harrington writing and directing, and Strada starring in the role of Maddie.

The film follows Nick (Bryan Lee Wriggle) and Maddie, who fall in love at first sight, but find their relationship stalling and themselves searching for the true meaning of love.

“The nature of a shoot required to make a movie like “Love is…” is exceptionally trying, so getting to work with actors that not only come prepared, but also have incredible talent and insight, like Kayla, makes everything just that little bit easier,” said Harrington.

Strada described her character as a relatable girl with universal themes including wanting her boyfriend to show his love instead of only saying it. The story picks up where Nick and Maddie are at a routine stage in their relationship, but Maddie is trying to change things because she doesn’t believe Nick has been trying to show Maddie he loves her, even though he has and his efforts went unnoticed.

“It has been a privilege to work with someone like Kayla Strada,” said Wriggle, who has also acted in Harrington’s “Bella” and Relativity Media’s hit “21 & Over.” “She brings a professional attitude and great work ethic to set each day. I feel honored to work with actors that take control of their work and ‘bring it’ on set each and every time!”

Actress Daphne Tenne (“Monkey Say, Monkey Do,” “Vort”) co-starred in the role of Liz. “This project has been an amazing journey,” she said. “Kayla is extraordinary at what she does, truly a professional at work. Acting alongside Kayla in this film was a journey that I will take with me forever. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of the project and I learned a lot about myself and about love.”

The “Love Is…” story had thematic elements inspired by events from Strada’s life. “My uncle passed away and my mother, back home in Australia, was noticing all these five cent coins all over the house. She started to put things together that it was my uncles’ way of telling my family that he his around watching them and things are okay. It may sound strange, but I have had other people come up to me after watching the film, saying they have had similar experiences, so although this is based around a couple, the inspiration came from my uncle.”

“Love Is…” became an Official Selection at the Nova Film Fest, is expected to screen at forthcoming film festivals and will be shot as a feature film adaptation. “The team we had…it became a real family and I love that,” Strada said. “It’s a project that we have worked so hard to tell a story that we are all passionate about.”

Strada’s other film roles include playing an ER Nurse in “Upended,” a short drama directed by the award-winning Tessa Blake (“Election Night”). The film tells the story of an unstable single mother who looks after her young son, who is rushed to a hospital after eating what he though were acceptable brownies. Strada’s character enters the plot and tries to help the boy survive.

She also acted as Nancy in the Nick Seabra-directed film, “Cold Milk.” The role saw Strada carry out the victimized Nancy, who is taken hostage by an unfamiliar, crazed man who wants Nancy to impersonate his daughter, who was taken away from him.

For TV, Strada performed in the role of Gypsy for the Discovery Channel’s “Deadly Women” docu-crime series that chronicles true crime stories of female killers, and in writer-director-producer Sophie Webb’s, “Same Sex.” She’s also acted in Australia in the Nine Network’s “Underbelly” and 7 Network’s hit soap opera, “Home and Away.”

Strada has acted in the music video, “Here’s to the Sunrise,” for the pop/hip-hop group, Kicking Sunrise (Right Coast Music), and co-hosted on YouTube’s popular “The Naked Traveller” adventure series with Tyson Mayr. She most recently presented at the 2016 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival with host Mena Suvari, star of “American Beauty” and “American Pie.”

13396538_10153499582577041_2103501990_o
Actress Kayla Strada presented with Mena Suvari at the 2016 Los Angeles Greek Film Festival.

We’re looking forward to seeing Kayla Strada in many more exciting roles to come! For all the latest, visit her official site, www.kaylastrada.com.

Legend of the Fall: Russian-Australian Actor is an ‘energetic fulcrum’ when it comes to performing

MV5BMTc3OTIxOTgxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU0MTQxMjE@._V1__SX1537_SY747_ (1).jpg
Russian-Australian actor Peter Fall has excelled in his roles in international film, TV, commercials and stage productions.

Actor Peter Fall has been wowing international audiences for his outstanding character portrayals spanning action-adventure, mystery, drama, comedy and more. The Russian-Australian talent — who formerly went by Igor Fall — is classically trained and owns a myriad of specialized skills that make him recognized, praised and sought after by Hollywood movers and shakers.

Fall, 30, parlays his personal experience into an exploration of character in each of his performances. While growing up, Fall spent time living in Europe, Asia and Australia. He speaks English, Russian and Korean, and has mastered dialects including Australian, British, Irish and South African, among others. Fall embraces physicality when it’s demanded of his roles and is a skilled sportsman and former Australian National WTF taekwondo champion.

He’s been living in Los Angeles since 2010 and underwent training at the renowned Stella Adler Conservatory and Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Whether for the stage, award-winning short and feature films, TV or commercials, Fall has stood out as a gifted actor with dynamic range, engagement and authenticity.

“I’ve always had a great love of acting,” said Fall, who started performing seemingly since birth and signed with his first talent agent at the age of 10. “I’ve studied the art of acting with some of the world’s finest practitioners. I’ve had the chance to act alongside some supreme talents and for some world-class filmmakers. Through it all, I’ve applied the strategy of absorbing and implementing effective technique, and more than anything, being a positive presence on set and in production.”

Fall’s first role on TV came in 2000 in “Beastmaster,” a fantasy series about an adventurer (played by Daniel Goddard (“The Young and the Restless”) who can communicate with animals. As child actor, Fall performed a featured role for Season 1 Episode 10 — “Riddle of the Nymph” — that was directed by the award-winning Brendan Maher.

rsz_screenshot_4.png
Actor Peter Fall (far left) made his TV debut on the fantasy adventure series, “Beastmaster.”

“This was an immersive introduction into the world of television,” he said. “It was an exciting time and great chance to be a part of a series that found international success. The opportunity to act for “Beastmaster” fueled my drive to pursue a performing career at an early age.”

The series ran for three seasons with 66 total episodes and broadcast in America, Canada and Australia. It was derived from MGM’s 1982 film, “The Beastmaster,” and was nominated for awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films and the Australian Film Institute.

Since his move to Los Angeles, Fall acted in “Perception,” a feature mystery film written and directed by Stan Harrington. The movie tells the story of a man who questions his sanity when reality blurs with his own imagination.

Harrington, a 25-time award-winning filmmaker and actor, starred in “Perception” alongside R.D. Call (“Waterworld,” “Into the Wild,” “Murder by Numbers”), Kely McClung (“Blood Ties”) and Blythe Metz (“Nightmare Man”). For “Perception,” Fall acted in the key role of Hoges.

“Perception” tells a great cinematic story and I was thrilled to work with a brilliant filmmaker and terrific cast,” said Fall. “The character, Hoges, is a bit of a catalyst who drives the story. He introduces Athena, played by Blythe Metz, to Marcus, played by R.D. Call. Athena takes on a poor relationship with Marcus and Hoges tries to interject and reason with her. I felt we delivered a solid film that’s a callback to the story-driven approach.”

Harrington said, “It takes a certain kind of excellence to enter films and spin the story like Peter did. It is the best proof of his immense talent and range as an actor to see him do so superbly. His performance was honest, appropriate, and above all excellent.”

Fall thereafter played a soldier in the short drama film, “Red Poppies,” directed by Yaitza Rivera. The film follows the story of a woman (Zulivet Diaz) who was sexually assaulted, but finds a chance at happiness when she meets the love of her life while attending her father’s funeral.

“Red Poppies” was written by the great Tim McNeil, an actor-writer-producer known for his work in “Contact,” “Forrest Gump,” “Starship Troopers” and many more.

“It’s a powerful film with strong thematic elements,” Fall said. “There’s drama and conflict aplenty, but it’s also a touching story of hope and perseverance. I played the solider who attacks the lead, Iris. My part in the story is dark, grim and detestable, something that’s a real performing challenge. It’s difficult to go that far against the grain of who you are as a person, but that’s what acting’s all about. If I can make the audience hate me and root for the leading lady, I’ve done my job.”

The notion vaulted into fruition as “Red Poppies” received a Best Short Film nomination at the 2013 SoCal Independent Film Festival. Diaz was nominated for Best Actress at the festival, Rivera won Best Director and the film was also up for award consideration at the Action on Film International Film Festival.

Film festival judges weren’t the only ones who noticed the captivating acting displayed within “Red Poppies.”

“Peter’s ability to play such a dark and unforgivable character was key to the film’s ability to affect an audience,” said McNeil. “He portrayed the soldier with such a gruesome reality that everyone cringed in their seats and was immediately empathetic toward the struggle of Iris. The technique of an actor is often lost by the non-professional, especially in scenes of such intensity. Only the best actors can work honestly under such duress and employ years of technique to excel in such a despicable character.”

Fall has also routed his cut-above-the-rest acting talent for TV commercials. He acted as a young guitar player in Ubisoft’s “Rocksmith 2014” commercial and as a German protestor for a Sony Mobile spot from Tarsem Singh, director of hit blockbusters “Mirror Mirror” starring Julia Roberts, “Immortals” starring Henry Cavill, “The Cell” starring Jennifer Lopez and others.

The Sony commercial is titled “Always with You” and advertises the global electronics manufacturer’s waterproof Xperia Z smartphone. The spot shows Sony products throughout history and Fall’s role featured him taking a sledgehammer to the Berlin Wall to the delight of a crowd rallying behind his protesting action.

“Peter’s performance was the energetic fulcrum in the ad, bringing the excitement to the screen and loading the audience up for the new product reveal,” said Fall’s agent, Martin Herrera, of the Sherman Oaks, Calif. headquartered Baron Entertainment. “The ability to not only lead a commercial of that magnitude and work with a director of such prominence is exactly why we put him up for that part.”

For the Ubisoft commercial that branded their hit video game, “Rocksmith 2014,” Fall played a young man who selects his first guitar in the game’s debut trailer campaign. The game has achieved best-seller status and has the unique functionality of teaching users how to play the guitar. Fall’s face is the trailer’s opening image that sparks the pace for the commercial, which was directed by David Moodie, producer and director known for his work with games such as “Rainbow Six: Vegas.”

12633472_118008761918366_2187576880615833728_o.jpg
Ubisoft’s commercial for the video game, “Rocksmith 2014,” featured actor Peter Fall in the role of an aspiring guitarist.

“Acting for commercials and branded content like that is a nuance unto itself,” Fall said. “The goal is to quickly create a lasting message that makes consumers take action and feel persuaded to purchase a product. Acting on large-scale productions with exceptional directors and for companies like Sony and Ubisoft was an altogether tremendous experience.”

Fall’s formidable prowess and career track record typifies acting excellence. His other highlights include acting in McNeil’s film, “Gettin’ Off,” where he plays a man who has a relationship with a prostitute, and in McNeil’s original stage play, “Margaret.”

Fall played the leading role (Edmund) in the Stella Adler production of “Edmund,” written by David Mamet (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), who has won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony and Oscar nominations for his script writing. Fall’s performance as Stepan Stepanovitch in Chekov’s “The Proposal” (Nairn Theatre) resulted in Outstanding Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards at regional and state short play festivals in the U.K.

rsz_12694687_118002448585664_4000200084330276815_o.jpg
Actor Peter Fall (center) performing in Chekov’s “The Proposal.”

He has also starred in “M, M, M! Music, Monologues and Mayhem” (The Theatricians), “The Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui” (Nairn Theatre), “Private Wars” (Lee Strasberg), in Oscar winner Milton Justice’s production of “J.B.” (Stella Adler), “The Diviners,” from writer-producer Christopher Thornton (“Sympathy for Delicious”) and in the film, “Shell Shock” from Levy Lambros.

12688378_117997471919495_6375390901459934126_n
Actors Peter Fall (left) and Austin Iredale (right) starred in “The Diviners.” 

Continuing to show up in many productions to come, Fall is attached to the forthcoming comedy film, “Not Summer Camp,” from actor-producer Joshua Marble (“CSI,” “Unusual Suspects,” “The Ex List”). He will also star in the YouTube comedy series, “Little America,” from Cobblestone Productions. Morayo Orija (“Spit”) and Sam Marin (Cartoon Network’s Emmy-winning “Regular Show”) will produce. Orija and McNeil will direct. Fall is also starring in the 2017 feature western period drama, “Colt,” about the last week of Russian poet, playwright and novelist, Alexander Pushkin. Fall is co-writing with Austin Iredale and will produce along with Orija and Marin.

POETRY IN MOTION Animator Angela Yu’s Compelling Vision

Angela_Yu_credit_courtesy_Angela_Yu
Animator Angela Yu: “I love telling stories carrying a message that matters to people.” (photo courtesy of Angela Yu).

With a dazzling visual style, an acute eye for design and a keen ability to overcome unexpected challenges, animator-art director Angela Yu’s boundless technical capacity and artistic creativity are remarkable. Moreover, she has an innate knack for approaching projects with a transformative originality that frequently redefines and improves upon the initially proposed concept.

Yu’s spent her entire life preparing for this, going all the way back to her childhood in Bejing, China. Yu became fascinated by comics, anime and manga books at an early age, covertly defying her parents’ strict bedtime rule to read them by flashlight under her blanket. “I always loved to draw and became obsessed with beautiful things and I wanted to know how to create things like that,” Yu said. “Manga books were my earliest inspiration for drawing—I’d doodle the characters all over my text books. I also loved watching animation, especially Japanese anime—“Dragon Ball” and “Sailor Moon.” I still watch anime these days, such as “One Piece.”

“I grew up in a very traditional family in China, and though I dreamed of being a Manga artist or animator as a kid, I never thought I’d have a chance to do it in reality—because for all my life I had made decisions based on whether or not they would impress my parents,” Yu said. “But when I was 22, I came to America and was studying at Michigan State University, just as my parents planned. This gave me a chance to view my culture from a distance, with a different perspective, and it gave me the space to think independently and the courage to pursue what I really wanted for my own life.”

Once that decision was made, Yu, with an MA in advertising from MSU, did not hesitate. “I studied Motion Graphic Design at the Ex’pression College for Digital Arts. Since I graduated, I’ve worked at studios and agencies such as Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Oddfellows, First person. And I worked on projects for clients like Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Comcase, NBA, Motorola, GE, Adobe.”

“I love telling stories carrying a message that matters to people. It needs to be meaningful. It can be either an artistic short film or a commercial project. As long as I feel what I am creating has a purpose, I find it fulfilling,” Yu said. “It’s all about how strongly I believe in the message I work on, even on a branding video for a digital product. If I believe the message in the video will make a difference to the brand, to people who work for the brand, then I enjoy what I am doing.”

Once Yu brings her talent to bear, the results are impressive. The ability to enhance and elevate has been a hallmark of her career; if Yu is brought in to consult, she’ll envision something that takes the entire project to a higher level; when Yu finishes a task, it often assumes a life of its own, garnering more notice and appreciation than anyone expected, whether a promotional film or a rock music video.

As Dorry Levine, Digital Media Strategist at ReThink Media, describes her: “Angela was easy to work with, very accessible, met every deadline, was flexible with our ever-changing requests, and turned out a phenomenal project that people are still talking about. The video she animated for us was even covered by the New York Times. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat!”

Yu’s artistic vision is a marvel in its own right. Her gorgeous animated short, “This is California,” is a perfect example of the animator’s rich aesthetic. With stunning visual design and flawless animation, it depicts some of the Golden State’s most iconic spots in an arresting, irresistible form that earned Yu the Best Animation award for 2015 at the IndieFEST Film Festival.

Yu’s already impressive roster of successful jobs with some of the world’s biggest companies underscores both her illimitable potential and singular gift for expanding the parameters of any design or animation undertaking. “Angela is the type of person that makes the seasoned artist step up their game, while also reminding everyone what that fire looked like when they first started,” said Mike Landry, Creative Director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Most importantly, Yu loves what she does: “I see animation as music written in pixels. I don’t play music very well, but I am fortunate to find animation as the medium to express my creativity,” Yu said. “To this day today, I still enjoy spending the whole afternoon nerding out a motion curve in the graphic editor. It is a very ‘zen’ feeling. I enjoy my craft, and I never stop creating original content. I want to keep developing myself as a better animator and designer.”

Q & A with Dazzling UK Actor Rob McLoughlin

Suspect13 (2)
Rob McLoughlin as DCI Mills in the film “Suspect 13”

 

We already know through his powerful leading performances in films like “Suspect 13” and “Bio Killer,” that English actor Rob McLoughlin’s dramatic disposition and captivating on screen presence have made quite an impression on audiences.

Early on in his career McLoughlin established himself as a diversely talented actor capable of holding his own alongside industry greats such as Golden Globe nominee Martin Freeman, who McLoughlin acted alongside in one of his first projects on the big screen, the BBC’s “Micro Men.”

Aside from being an extraordinarily talented performer, McLoughlin has the added bonus of being drop dead gorgeous by anyone’s standards. What’s more is the fact that, regardless of whether he’s playing a bad boy criminal like his character in the film “The Fry Up” or a debonair stud, which he portrayed in a recent commercial for Audi (which you can check out below), McLoughlin is a gifted chameleon who is able to easily adapt his look to fit the role.  

 

In one of his most recent films, “Il Sonnambulo,” he applies his remarkable artistry to the horror genre for the first time. His expressive and self-aware nature is serving him well for this new challenge, as the psychological horror featuring a murderous Venetian “Boogey Man” has already won several impressive awards including Vancouver Web Fest’s Best Horror and Seattle Web Fest’s Best Cinematography and Best Director.

With his belief in the power of creativity, his trust in the writing and his engagement in the development of his characters, McLoughlin is a director’s dream. He worked closely with award-winning “Il Sonnambulo” director Doug Rath to create the dynamic character of Roberto Aurelio; an accomplished and somewhat arrogant journalist looking for a big break.

For the recent and first time dad, McLoughlin says, “The subject matter was challenging…although it was so much fun, it was really really dark too.”

It takes a certain positive attitude and passion to cultivate fun on the set of an intense and  murderous horror film, read McLoughlin’s interview below to see how he does just that!

Hi Rob, thanks for joining us! Can you tell our audience where you are from? 

RM: I’m from Liverpool but London has been my home for the past 14 years. It’s a great, fun and  creative city.

When and how did you first get into acting?

RM: When I first came to London I was working as a model. I got into acting that way.  I just got to help out on a couple of unpaid short films. Couple of lines here and there. That sort of thing. I got hooked immediately. I love being on set. I love the process of it all. It’s just so much fun and it is really absorbing to get into the heads of the characters and to tell their stories.

Can you tell us a little bit about the storyline of the film “Il Sonnambulo”?

RM: “Il Sonnambulo” translates as “The Sleepwalker” in Italian. He’s a Venetian ‘Boogey Man’. He is a character that people would warn their kids about, “Be good or Il Sonnambulo will get you.” That kind of thing. He’s really bloody horrible! He kills kids and adults; he mutilates them in fact!

So it begins with a very famous photographer, Atticus Hurst, whose daughter vanished 20 years ago and he’s been taunted by someone claiming to be Il Sonnambulo ever since. This has lead him to many gruesome murder scenes, but his pain of loss and over exposure to the gore has lead him to be somewhat desensitized to it all. Then he teams up with a ‘gonzo’ style journalist, who has forced his way on to the trail of Il Sonnambulo. Things take a very different turn for both of them after that.

How does your character Roberto fit into the story?

RM: I play the journalist, Roberto Aurelio.  He’s a good guy. Was successful in the past winning loads of awards for his war stories when he managed to sneak into Syria to report on the conflict, but the past few years have been quiet for him.  Getting an interview with Atticus Hurst is his big break back into the big time. And oh boy, does he want to exploit that.  Roberto is a fun character.  He’s a chancer, you know? He takes loads of risks. He’s cheeky and arrogant but somehow still remains likable.

How did you approach developing this character for the screen?

RM: I actually sat down with the director, Doug Rath and his wife Hanna and invented Roberto’s back story.  He’s not a million miles away from me personality wise. He definitely looks like me for sure.  I wanted him to be vulnerable but arrogant at the same time.  He has to show balls but he’s scared shitless. And that’s confusing because he thinks Atticus is completely mad, that this is all some spooky crap that Atticus has made up after too many absinthes. However, it’s all too enticing and could get him back on track professionally. I mean, who knows that feeling better than an actor right? Pretty much everything we do is a shot in the dark. Maybe I’m closer to Roberto than I thought. Interesting.

Did you face any challenges along the way?

RM: The subject matter was challenging, I had never done an outright horror film before, and although it was so much fun it was really really dark too. It’s a psychological horror. I think I could have dealt with gore easier. The fact that we were dealing with the horrible murders of babies is what did it, as I had just become a dad for the first time and now I had to put these thoughts in my head.  Yeah, it was really tough, as you can imagine. In fact don’t imagine, I have imagined it for you.

What were some of you most memorable moments during the production?

RM: I broke my nose. All by myself. Actually, I rebroke it.

We were waiting in the green room on set to do a scene at night to be shot in the back of a black cab and I was a bit fidgety. Doug has this cane that he got off a set in Chicago, it was an antique wooden stick with a heavy solid silver bulldog handle. Apparently it belonged to some nasty East End gangster in Victorian London. It was also supposedly cursed. I started spinning the thing around and sure enough I wack myself in the exact place where my nose had been broken 2 months before. I looked around the room and luckily no one had noticed until the makeup girl pointed out there was blood pouring from the bridge of my nose. We were just about to film a scene, man, not good timing.

Has “Il Sonnambulo” had its world premiere yet?

RM: It was shown on the productions own website at Halloween; IlSonnambulo.com. It’s now doing rounds at film festivals and gaining interest from several networks in the States to be shot as a series. It has a lot of legs and the story needs to be pushed on. We left it at one hell of an amazing cliffhanger, so all our fingers are crossed.

Does the film have any upcoming screenings that you can share with us?

RM: It’s been shown at the “Vancouver Web Fest” where it won for Best Horror. It also won Best Cinematography and Best Director at Seattle Web Fest. Its showing in Buenos Aires and Toronto, New Media Film Fest and Montreal Web Fest too. There’s more to be confirmed at this point.

Can you tell us about some of the other film projects you’ve done over the course of your career?

RM: I’ve done quite a few films. My first big film was on a BBC production called “Micro Men” starring Martin Freeman. It’s a true story about Clive Sinclair (Alexander Armstrong) who invented ZX Spectrum home computer and Chris Curry (Freeman), who invented the BBC micro computer which was used in almost every school in the UK. I played one of Curry’s technicians, Nick Toop. The BBC didn’t credit me with the role as I was a late casting, but I’m on the poster! Something I’m still trying to put right 10 years later.

“Suspect 13” was also a highlight in my acting career. Set in a high class private members bar in the city, I played a gangster, who sticks the place up taking all 13 witnesses hostage, and the investigating officer, who accuses all 13 of committing the crime.  It was amazing fun to play 2 characters at the same time. Playing the bad guy is always fun. Written and directed by Sam Walker and produced by his company BloomBox, this was his first film. It was shot in black and white for a very noir feel. Sam has become a good friend since we worked together.

Can you tell us about some of the notable people you’ve worked with over the years?

RM: I spent eight years working at the Royal Opera House in London doing stage combat and stunt work. Working with Placido Domingo on Cyrano De Bergerac and Simon Boccanegra was awesome! I’ve worked with world renowned director David McVicar many times. One of the things I worked with him on was Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) which won several awards. We actually devised an opening scene during the overture which has never been done in the two hundred years of its production so there’s a little bit of history there.

Going from there to films, back and forth has always kept things fresh for me. Working with Martin Freeman on “Micro Men” was great. He’s a super friendly guy. I also told him he was going to play the Hobbit after reading it in Empire Magazine. Something he knew nothing about at the time. I take full credit for that by the way!

They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

RM: That is simple; fun! That’s why I do what I do. I love my job. Love it! I get to make pretend like we did when we were kids, but now I do it for a living. I hope that shows in my performances. One day I’m sword fighting on stage in front of two thousand people and the next I’m on set with fifty people who’ve all shown up because they believe in this script we’ve all read. It’s amazing! That’s the power of it. Everything we do, we believe is the best thing ever. That’s exciting!

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

RM: The story for a start. The experience I will get and what I will learn from it. I’m not financially motivated at all. I leave that to other people. I’ve worked on many things for very little to no money because I believed in the story. You just know when you read the script, “I want to do this!” Everything is in the writing.

Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?

RM: No, not really. I’ve probably played a version of the same character more than once but not that I’ve really noticed. Any similarities in roles I have played have always been far apart enough for me not to notice. So no, I don’t feel typecast in any way.

Out of all of the projects you’ve been in to date, what has been your favorite project, or projects, and why?

RM: Working at the Royal Opera House was amazing fun! I love doing the stunts and training hard. I even went and got a personal trainer qualification off the back of it.

“Suspect 13” was amazing! Pulling off a heist in the middle of the financial centre in London was brilliant. We nearly got arrested by the CID when we began filming as they didn’t realize we had permission to film in the area. Especially dressed in suits with balaclavas carrying baseball bats and concealed guns. That was a memorable moment!

I did a six week run in theatre playing the role of Jean in “Miss Julie.” That was a real eye-opener for me. I hadn’t done much theatre before then so playing the lead in a classic such as that brought it’s own challenges. I learned so much in those 6 weeks. On the last performance, a matinee on a Sunday afternoon, we did a performance for a school. When the curtain went down at the finale a 16 year old kid in the front row said to his friend (not too quietly either), “Thank f*** for that!” “Yep,” I said, “Thank f*** for that!”

What has been your most challenging role?

RM: Erm,…. a couple I think.  I played an abusive husband in “The Loving Brutality.” That was tough as I had to get my head around someone who beats his wife. I had to find some sympathy for the character as that’s the only way you can play it. He’s a bully, a horrible guy, but of course, he doesn’t know he’s bully. It was dark. The role made me feel very weird, I don’t do bullies.

“Il Sonnambulo” was tough, again because of the subject matter. As a new dad, I didn’t expect I would be imagining horrific things happening to babies as part of my job. It was extremely challenging. Doug (the director) felt the same. He had a model made of a dismembered baby for one of the scenes. We couldn’t even look at it. Up close it didn’t even look that realistic but we kept it covered until it was needed. I don’t think it even made the final cut. It was too much.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

RM: Saying all that, I really liked doing the horror thing. We all get a thrill from being scared or creeped out. I’m lucky I got to make one. I would definitely do another one. I also love comedy. It’s so bloody hard to get that right. People always tell me the way to play comedy is to play it straight and I agree on the most part but America loves slapstick. You can’t play that straight. That needs to be amped up. Laughter is the best medicine they say.

What separates you from other actors? What do you feel your strongest qualities are?

RM: I’m me. I don’t look at others and wish I was them. I’m just me. I don’t really blow my own trumpet, I believe I have good qualities though. I have good acting chops! I know I can switch from drama to comedy. Sometimes in the same sentence. We’re particularly good at that in the north of England, and that’s how life is most of the time, isn’t it? I can scrub up ok, don a suit or scruff up quite easily for a role. My normal style is jeans and a t-shirt. I’m witty, I’m intelligent; I was given a good brain and I like to use it. I’m relaxed. Maybe too much sometimes but I’m also professional. I do my job to the best of my abilities every time.

Have you been in any commercials or music videos?

RM: Yes, I’ve done a few commercials. Last year I did a six-part Mark’s and Spencer ad for Valentine’s Day. It was based on an internet date that goes really well thanks to M&S. I also did a commercial for Audi recently. We filmed in Spain and I was strapped to the top of their new cars being driven down an airport runway at 80 mph. That was so much fun. I wanted to do it all week. The hardest part was I was meant to be reading a newspaper and looking really relaxed. Not so easy when the wind is pushing the paper into your face. We used a cardboard one in the end. It was like 100 degrees and I got totally burnt but I really enjoyed it.

What projects do you have coming up?

RM: So, apart from the interest in “Il Sonnambulo,” I’m currently attached to a film called “Betrayal,” written by my friend Malcolm Davies. It’s a really well written gangster drama. It’s in pre-production at the moment but there’s a few big names attached already. I’m set to play the co-lead in this. There’s such a nice twist in this story which sets it apart from the mainstream British gangster film, which usually gets centered around football for some reason.  I’m really looking forward to getting started on it.

What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

RM: I love working. I just want to work. I’m ambitious, I want to carve out a successful career.  I can see myself directing at some point. I would love to write, direct and star in something one day. It’s the life less ordinary, isn’t it?

My family and friends have always supported me and my partner is a rock. I owe it to them to be successful.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

RM: I studied fine art in college. My dad is an artist, my whole family is quite creative actually. We have lots of musicians and singers. It was a natural progression for me. I’ve always been obsessed with movies and I’ve always wanted to make them. I hope I can be behind the camera at some point, but for the moment I’m really enjoying working in front of it. I must be mad!

 

Photographer and Videographer Cristina Tomás Rovira Creates and Captures Life’s Most Expressive Events

ct.jpg
Cristina Tomas Rovira specializes in photography and videography for music, fashion and weddings.

 

Professional photographer and videographer Cristina Tomás Rovira has worked alongside with some of the greats of the entertainment industry, capturing moments via still photography and film for more than half a decade.

Originally from Barcelona, Rovira’s awareness of the arts was sparked at a young age. “I’ve been interested in this world since I was little,” Rovira said. “Every time I watched a movie or a TV show, I could picture myself working on one of them. I was, and still am, addicted to watching behind the scenes videos.”

After obtaining her first camera around the age of 10 and receiving praise for her photographs, Rovira explained that, “something just clicked. I loved the feeling of people telling me that my talents were special and that they liked my pictures. So, I kept going to continue to get the same reactions from them.”

Rovira began working professionally while attending The Centre de la Imatge i la Tecnologia Multimèdia (Barcelona) in 2010.

“My first job as a photographer was at a music festival in Barcelona. I was 19 years old at the time, and it was one of the best experiences of my life,” Rovira described. At the time, Rovira’s pictures from the festival were used for press, ultimately gaining her work recognition around the city of Barcelona.

It was also during college when Rovira picked up her first DSLR camera in an attempt to figure out the basics of videography. “I was working on a fashion assignment for one of my classes and noted a lack of videographers surrounding me. DSLR cameras were increasing in popularity, so I decided to try the whole video thing for myself. I ended up capturing the making of that fashion project, and from that day forward my life was forever changed,” said Rovira.

Since 2010, Rovira has been in charge of all filmmaking at Padilla Rigau, a leading, Barcelona-based Wedding Photography and Videography company. The company is known for capturing some of lives most precious moments with a unique, modern and fresh twist.

“I truly believe that our work as photographers and videographers is based on feelings – to create them, and to capture them,” said Rovira. “Attending weddings has provided me with a greater sensitivity towards what is in front of the camera, and I now use that sensitivity always, whether I’m shooting a wedding, a commercial or a fashion film.”

In Rovira’s opinion, two of the most powerful qualities a good photographer can have are that of speed and affectivity. One must be fast, humble and approachable, and the same goes for videographers. “If you shoot the same look or seen a thousand times, the subject will get the impression that it is his or her fault. If you have something specific in mind, you need to explain your idea when everyone’s around, so that everything translates, including your excitement regarding the prospective shot,” Rovira explained.

When it comes to her own work and creative tendencies, Rovira tends to enjoy capturing the details that are often overlooked. “I consider myself an adventurer,” said Rovira. “I have always been on the hunt of new perspectives. I like telling stories from a different outlook. I’m really observant. I’ve always been that way, and that fact about my personality has given me an extreme sense of what people like to see in my work.”

The work of a photographer entails so much more than a simple point and click. It is a job that requires an excellent aesthetic eye, and both creative and technical aptitude. For example, when it comes to the different types of lighting she’s worked with, Rovira provided, “You have to be like a chameleon and adapt to the lighting that has been given to you. Sometimes, I’m shooting something that’s happening under one kind of light, and when I turn around to film something else, the light is completely different, so I have a very small window of time to reset my camera to shoot the second scene. I have to be fast and prepared so I don’t lose the moment.”

Rovira developed her own photographic style upon moving to Los Angeles for a year, where she collaborated and refined her camera skills with the internationally renowned photographer, Joseph Llanes. Llanes’ work has been published in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Spin, New York magazine and L.A. Weekly. His wide range of clients includes talents like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Katy Perry and Gavin Rossdale, to name a few.

“Everything that surrounded me was invigorating and I felt a constant need to capture most of the people and things that I came in contact with,” Rovira explained of her introduction to the entertainment industry of Los Angeles. “Being a foreigner gave me the chance to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Alongside mentor Llanes, Rovira assisted with multiple photo shoots with top clients, where she ultimately acquired an intense understanding of the building blocks of professional photography. “I always learn something from Joseph in every photo shoot or project that we collaborate on. He taught me the importance of creating a good environment at work, and to always be two steps ahead of yourself with every project. Have a plan B, C and D, so you’re prepared to quickly solve any problem that might occur during the shoot, without the client noticing that there was even a problem to begin with,” Rovira said.

Since this experience, Rovira has photographed and assisted with shoots involving many top tier musicians, bands and musical events, her framework including talent such as Quincy Jones, Phoenix and Els Catarres. In 2013, Rovira assisted Llanes at the world famous annual music festival, Coachella. She has also photographed leading music events in Los Angeles with Llanes such as Hard Summer and the Hard Day of the Dead Festival, where Rovira worked in photographing such famed talents as the Grammy winning DJs Calvin Harris, Skrillex and Zedd.

During the Aokify America Tour’s November, 2013 Los Angeles show for Steve Aoki, a Grammy nominee and Billboard Award winning EDM musician, Rovira photographed Aoki as well as music superstars Iggy Azalea, Linkin Park, Travis Barker and Kid Cudi.

As a videographer, Rovira has engaged her outstanding talents for companies Brownie Spain and Padilla-Rigau, for several years. As an innovative team member, Rovira has, and currently, films and photographs weddings and fashion events. “Nowadays, we are amongst the top ten wedding photographers and videographers in Spain,” Rovira said. “I love doing weddings because I work with two of my best friends. We have built a really strong company together.”

When it comes to fashion, Rovira has created fashion films with some of the most well known brands in all of Spain. Some of Rovira’s clients include Shana, Swarovski, Codigo Basico, Estel Alcaraz and Pompeii Brand, among others. Regarding her work, Rovira commented, “Working with [these brands] on a regular basis allows me to improve and try new things with each video. I love capturing what’s going on around me.”

With industrial designer Estel Alcaraz, Rovira has acted as her, “right-hand person,” as quoted by Alcaraz, since the beginning of Alcaraz’s career. “Cristina is a part of my team. I was lucky enough to know her when we were both starting our professional careers and we helped each other as much as we could. She works with me on every project I start. She’s exceptionally sensitive to detail and puts my ideas on paper or on video. Either way, she always gets what I want because she has the ability to capture the emotion and passion that I put into my products through her work.”

The pair worked closely with one another on one of Alcaraz’s most important projects, The Sardines Boots. The Sardines Boots are bright yellow, light, flexible rain boots that are designed to easily fold and compress to a backpack size. With the motto, “Don’t let wet socks give you cold feet,” the campaign was published worldwide.

“Cristina knows how to showcase the essence of my products and it was great to be known inside the world of industrial design with her work, as she is one of the people who believed in me from the very beginning,” Alcaraz said. “Working with Cristina is great because she always wants to go one step further and is always thinking about starting new projects. Sometimes, she even encourages me to design so that can she make a new video. She has this contagious positive energy that makes you believe that you can make everything come true.”

Rovira has also applied her profound camera skills for a TV commercial with professional Spanish footballer, Andres Iniesta. “I showed my footage and pictures to the director of that shoot and his reaction was priceless. He liked how I captured moments that he didn’t realize happened, and commented that the composition of my work was extremely beautiful.”

Jordi Egea, owner of the Spanish production company Smilefilms, directed the commercial shoot. Previously, Egea and Rovira have collaborated on several projects with the brand Dormity. Regarding Rovira’s sought-after skills, Egea said, “We hire her because she is great at doing her work, she gives you what you and your client ask for, and goes above and beyond what is needed of her. She understands her clients and what they want and captures the essence of every brand while still maintaining her personal style. Plus, people feel comfortable around her, and that’s key when you work with people who are not necessarily used to being in front of a camera.”

Check out Cristina’s photography and videography here: http://www.cristinatomas.com

Exclusive Q&A with game designer and producer Zi Li

image1 (1)
Game designer/producer Zi Li has been the brains behind many leading titles in today’s marketplace.

 

We recently had the opportunity to sit down and visit with Zi Li, a revered game designer and producer who has helped deliver award-winning titles including “Dissonance,” “Paralect,” “MiraLab,” “Dungeon Crash” and “Epic Knights.” Shining in both PC and mobile platforms, Li has also engaged her talents for the award-winning “Leviathan” virtual reality project and for the short films, “The Birthday Girl” and “Fly.”

Li, a Guangdong, China native, has a well-founded background for the field. She received a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Digital Media from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interactive Media & Games from the University of Southern California.

Dispatching her design brilliance, Li has been instrumental in the development, design and execution of cognitive puzzle games, fantasy RPGs and adventure games. She works with Firefly Games Inc., that operates offices in both Shanghai and Los Angeles, and had prior stints with Digital Domain 3.0 Inc., Floor 84 Game Studio and Ericsson Communications.

Li has constructed a standout career with a formula comprised of artistic creativity, engineering ingenuity and a command of computer programming and design principals. We are excited to share her story below in our exclusive interview!

 

What was it like to grow up and live in Guangdong?

ZL: To be honest it was kind of boring. I grew up in a middle city. Its economy is okay to maintain people’s basic needs. But we don’t have much to do. People are very chilled and always have morning tea, afternoon tea and night tea. Being chilled and relaxed is not in my nature. I always want to go to other places and see what is exciting and creative. I guess that’s why I am here making games.

 

What games did you grow up playing?

ZL: I did not grow up playing games. My parents were very strict when I was young. They don’t allow me to access to anything that could make me feel addictive. I was learning painting and into manga when I was a child. I always wanted to do art.

Unlike a lot of game developers, I didn’t fall in love with games first. I have particular types of games I like. I love visual art and engineer first and then found games that express meanings and allow me to feel smart when I am playing are very attractive. That’s why I get into game industry.

 

What drove you to pursue a career in game design?

ZL: I would say I’m driven by the idea of communicating thoughts through art pieces. For me game is art. Game designers are the same as other artists.

I was good at science related fields when I was a kid. I thought my ability is enough support me to become an engineer in the future. On the other hand, I spent more than 6 years studying paintings until high school. I always thought I could become a part time artist. I did an animation later. I found that doesn’t satisfy my needs of expressing my engineering mindset.

Later, I got clearer that in the field that science intersects with art is what I’m really passionate about.

For me, games is a media that allows both science and art collapse together.

 

What is your favorite game genre?

ZL: Puzzle. I like games that can make me think and use my logic.

 

What are your top three favorite games all-time?

ZL: Braid, Machinarium, Windosill.

 

How would you describe your job as a game designer and producer?

ZL: My job includes a wide range of tasks. As a producer, I work with different teams and communicate with each team about their perspective of the game. Also, because I’m a game designer, I also work on game design decisions and help with correcting the game development direction.

 

What does it take to be a successful game designer?

ZL: I think a good game designer should be innovative, open-minded, and passionate. Other skills will come along as long as the game designer knows what he or she wants.

 

How did your academic career help shape your professional career?

ZL: I got an engineering degree in Digital Media. We learned lots of basic knowledge about films, animation and games. I learned how to program and work on cinematic pieces during my study in the Digital Media Department. I found my passion in films and games by trying out various media.

Then I went to graduate school for Interactive Media and Games. I was majoring in game design. I knew that this program is not only limited in traditional games. It matches what I want out of games. So I started as a game design student in the industry and gradually figured out my strength. I was involved in various games projects and learned different skills, like design methodology, cinematic expression and so on. They definitely help me to become a game designer and producer.

 

“Dissonance,” for PC, won the Indie Prize and the Experimental Game Showcase at the Out of Index Festival. Tell us a little bit about it.

ZL: Dissonance is a puzzle-adventure game developed by Team Dissonance. I created Dissonance as a bridge between puzzle games and a psychology concept cognitive dissonance. It started as my personal project. With six months development, the team has expanded to over 10 people. The developers transmitted the psychological concept cognitive dissonance into the core mechanics of game to make it more than just a puzzle game.

 

What place do puzzle and psychology games have in today’s gaming market?

ZL: Puzzle games are always popular. But I don’t see many games combining puzzle and psychology together. I think as one of the art media, comparing to other media, video games are still new and have lots of potential. Hopefully it will be growing and explored the usage in different areas.

 

The fantasy RPG – “Dungeon Crash” – has over one million downloads for Android and Apple. How would you describe the game and what’s made it such a success?

ZL: Dungeon Crash is a fun and adorable game which has playful battles accompanied by strategic role-playing elements.

The gameplay is deep and fun. Players always have the next goal in the game. The main goal of the game is to collect the best team of warriors, mages and healers. When a player is trying to work towards the main goal, he or she can balances other elements like gear, upgrade system, guild and so on. There are numerous things a player can do. Each person has their unique way to get close to the goal. Also they can show off their progress through fight against other players to get to the top position on the leaderboard.

 

Share with us a little on your background in art and how that’s helped shape you as a game designer.

ZL: At the place I grew up, my life contains 3 major activities: taking regular classes, painting and notebook shopping in bookstores (I collected notebooks when I was younger). Like I mentioned earlier, I spent 6 years studying painting. Also, my dad loves poets and calligraphy. He loves sharing them with me. I think this type of environment helps to build my aesthetic standards, creativity and cultivates my passion in arts.

I do think game design is a pretty flexible area. A lot of times, game designers need to make decisions with their aesthetic and design sense. Those things are very abstract and hard to grow in a short term. I’m glad that I grew up with practicing my aesthetic consciousness.

 

You contributed to the art that’s featured in the PC game, “Paralect.” What is the premise of “Paralect” and how did you enjoy working as an artist for the game?

ZL: Paralect is a 2D platformer that uses gameplay, visuals and narrative to tell a personal story of cultural un-rooting. It explores the paradigm shifts caused by culture shock and adaptation and investigates how those transformations affect one’s vision of people, their environment, the place you initially came from and, most importantly, the place you wish to call home. It is a story and a world inspired by the creative director Loan Verneau.

I had great time working Paralect. I like the concept a lot. I think the protagonist reminds me a lot of myself. I feel attached to the character. The game is programmed with C++, so all the art asset needs to be designed carefully. Loan and I spent time together figuring out how to interpret the design through programmed visual elements. It is great that I got to apply what I know into the game and learning new ways to express ideas in games at the same time. It also helps me to grow and build up experience to make my independent games.

 

“MiraLab” went on to win the Gold Award in the Education Category at the Serious Play Conference. Was the educational aspect a motivator for the Miralab team in creating the “MiraLab” concept?

ZL: The world in Miralab is a media arts world and accompanying design methodology that emerged out of a multi-faceted exploration of a naturally occurring biological process: the lifecycle of Turritopsis dohrnii, the immortal jellyfish. The biological structure acts as a contextual framing, research prompt, and unifying theme that generates multiple interdisciplinary arts and science media explorations. It foregrounds knowledge and outcomes associated with arts and design practice experimentation within the realm of interdisciplinary arts science research. It asserts how the unique potential arts practice engagement contributes to interdisciplinary learning. This abstract briefly describes each mode of exploration and contextualizes it within a larger poetic science methodology. It considers this methodology’s contribution to a new understanding of interdisciplinary arts science research centered in transmedia design principles.

 

That said, the “Leviathan” project you worked on implements some VR along with other components. What’s “Leviathan” all about?

ZL: The Leviathan project, based on Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, takes place in 1895, 20 years prior to the source material. In Westerfeld’s story, World War I is reimagined with bioengineered fabricated animals replacing technology and facing off against large mechanical robots. While the books focus on the tension of war, the Leviathan Project emphasizes the experimental exploration in the concept of fabrication. By taking place earlier than the series, the project builds a world of wonder and amazement for the unknown and the unexpected possibilities that can suddenly arise.

 

“Leviathan” received the New Frontier Project award at the Sundance Film Festival and was featured at CES in Las Vegas. What were the responses and feedback you guys got on the project?

ZL: Players are amazed by what Leviathan offers. In the Leviathan project, we adapt the techniques that can track the player position in a room. So what players need to do is put on the headset and walk around in the room. It is simple and intuitive.

They love that they can walk around in the Leviathan world and observe the world and the stories as an officer. They can get immersive experience while creating their own version of story.

 

What opportunities does your role as producer allow for at Firefly Games?

ZL: As a producer, I get the chance of communicating with each team and overseeing the project I’m responsible for. Also, I have been communicating with other producers from other projects to share our experiences and tools. I have lots of practice in project management, negotiation and various problem-solving skills.

 

What can gamers expect to get from Firefly releases?

ZL: Firefly Games focuses on the games that are intuitive and fun for mobile gamers. We have three games out there and are developing more games. Hopefully players can find that our games are fun and relaxing.

 

What are some of your hobbies outside of the gaming realm?

ZL: I like reading books and watching animated films. These two media can always offer me endless inspiration. Currently, I’m reading a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

 

What types of games are you looking forward to designing and producing in the future?

ZL: As an artist, I hope one day I can make a game that offers players a unique experience in a way that they reach part of the mind they have never explored before. I always have fun knowing myself and learning about myself. I find it fascinating that a lot of us don’t know ourselves very well. And a lot of art pieces help us. For example, the pilot in The Little Prince does help me to see that I’m just like him. He wants to be a painter, not a pilot. And I’m a person who always wants to be an artist instead of an engineer. I hope people can try the game and then say ‘This game is affecting me. I never knew that I’m a person like that.’

Actor Lucas Zaffari Overcomes All Challenges While Dubbing

ZAFFARI-101Edited
Brazilian actor Lucas Zaffari

There are many different types of acting, but the most universally recognized can often be when one is standing on a stage or in front of a camera. For Brazilian actor Lucas Zaffari, a different type of acting challenge is presented to him on a regular basis.

Zaffari dubs Spanish telenovelas into Portuguese, his native language. Dubbing, also known as revoicing, is the replacement of the voices of the original actors with a different performer in another language. To do so, Zaffari receives the video and script with all the timelines of exactly where his character speaks and reacts in an episode. He then studies those lines and goes to a sound studio to record the revoicing of his character.

“As an actor, specifically for film and television, you get all you can from circumstances that are happening around you and in your imagination. When it’s me, I try to absorb as much stimuli as I can from my acting partner, location, sometimes music, smells, senses,” he said. “But in a sound studio all you have is a cubicle with foam and the recordings that you see on the screen, and on top of that, all you have to show what your character is feeling is through your voice. It is challenging.”

Zaffari is currently cast in three telenovelas with Voxx Studios. These seven to nine month commitment are the Colombian Allá Te Espero which is soon to be completed, Venezuela’s Piel Salvaje, and the Venezuelan American Voltea Pá Que Te Enamores.

Although it is more common for Portuguese dubbing studios to be in Miami and Brazil, Voxx set up their studio in LA because they believe that is where the most talented actors are located.

“I’m really honored to know that after I joined Voxx Studios, they continued to hire me on all of their new telenovelas. It’s a great opportunity to voice different characters,” said Zaffari.

The sound booth where Zaffari works is a cubicle about eight feet by eight feet covered in foam so the sound does not reverberate, a microphone, a headphone, two televisions (one for the video and one for the lines with the proper time codes). There is also a sound-proof window that goes through to a different room where the sound engineer and the director are located.

“It can be quite hard,” described Zaffari. “You need to match your voice to the mouth of the original actor. Sometimes the Spanish is too fast and it is hard to match everything in Portuguese to that pace. Sometimes we have to change it to what people would understand instead of a perfect translation, without changing the meaning, of course.”

Zaffari describes acting as the hardest job in the world. He says that feeling as someone else is extremely challenging, but with dubbing, you do not have the capability to pull from your surroundings and react instantly to the people around you.

“Dubbing is not on location,” he said. “You are in a cubicle. You don’t have another actor to pull emotion from. Your partner is a microphone and a television. The senses I use when I am acting

I can’t use when I am dubbing. I am not there. You need to put all of those things you would normally use into your microphone and just use your voice.”

Despite the challenges that dubbing can present, there are many parts that Zaffari enjoys.

“In a way it is less stressful because you are not on camera so you can just wear your comfortable clothes,” he said. “But I really like to put a little bit of my interpretation into a character, even though it is another actor’s performance.”

Zaffari said that when he first started dubbing, he was conflicted on how to approach each character.

“Should I dub as my personal interpretation of what that character is going through? Or as the original actor’s interpretation?,” he said, describing his initial thought process. “But to me now, it is a mixture of those two things.”

Leila Vieira, Zaffari’s dubbing director for Piel Salvaje, thinks Zaffari’s mixture is working out very well.

“One of the main qualities an actor has to have in order to be good at dubbing is being able to recognize and mimic pace,” described Vieira. “Lucas has an incredible ability for listening to the dialogue and being able to reproduce it in Portuguese with perfection, making the process fast at the same time as high quality with his great acting skills. Aside from recognizing pace, acting with only your voice can be a challenge that Lucas masters with flying colors.”

Vieira believes that it is not only Zaffari’s inherent talent that makes him successful at dubbing, but also his personality as a whole.

“Lucas is the nicest person you could ever work with,” she said. “Not only he has an amazing working ethic, but he also has a great personality that accepts critiques and understands the adjustments, which makes the whole process fast and productive.”

Sebastian Zancanaro, another director at Voxx, describes Zaffari as the ultimate professional.

“I cast Lucas as Francisco (Pacho) in the dramatic soap opera Alla Te Espero and I was mesmerized by his commitment to our team and by his stamina. His unique skill as a Portuguese speaker actor in conjunction with his acting abilities make him one of our most valuable cast members,” said Zancanaro. Lucas has also being cast as Pedro in our upcoming soap opera project entitled Our Family, our longest and most prized project to date.

Zaffari says that dubbing with Voxx is a great working environment.

“It is so much fun,” he said. “There are so many nice and talented people around, which makes this creative work much more richer.”

Zaffari has no plans on slowing down.

This versatile actor has already started dubbing the new telenovela Somos Família (Our Family) as Pedro.

Fashion Director Kirsten Reader Teams Up With Suits Star Patrick J Adams

Cover
Archibald Spring 2015 cover styled by Kirsten Reader

Sometimes, the greatest success can come from stepping outside of your comfort zone. Leaving what you know and experimenting with new things can lead to the extraordinary. This is what happened with wardrobe stylist and fashion director Kirsten Reader when she embarked on a journey to create Archibald Magazine’s spring 2015 cover.

Reader left her home in Toronto to shoot in Los Angeles. Not only was this her first time shooting in LA, it was her first time shooting in the United States. On top of this, Reader had to not just be in charge of fashion, she was also the fashion editor, creative director, wardrobe stylist and groomer.

“This was my second issue as Fashion Editor for the men’s fashion publication, Archibald,” said Reader. “I wanted to do something to really show what the publication could do and achieve given not only was it my second issue, it was also the second issue for the publication as a whole. I wanted to truly push myself and do a shoot in LA and also create content for the publication that showed being a new publication we could compete with the best men’s publications. This was a personal challenge to see what I could achieve.”

Reader decided to reach out to her former schoolmate Patrick J Adams to see if he would be interested in being featured in the shoot. Adams, a SAG-Award nominated actor well-known for playing the lead role of Mike Ross in the critically acclaimed television series Suits, jumped on board, along with the photographer Vanessa Heins.

“Vanessa was actually going to be there, and had been trying to get a shoot with Patrick so it was a project that was just meant to be,” said Reader.

The shoot was just Reader, Adams, and Heins, and took place in Los Angeles with a lot of it in Silver Lake and around the LA River.

“Once in LA we just location scouted and ended up shooting the whole concept fairly guerrilla style,” Reader described.

The threesome of Reader, Adams, and Heins worked extremely well together, and were able to create a successful feature for the magazine.

“It was great to work with Patrick as we hadn’t worked together since drama class back in high school,” said Reader. “To have Vanessa on board and her to have a relationship with Patrick already made the whole atmosphere of the shoot relaxed and enjoyable, really allowing us to have fun with the process and create some great images that showcased Patrick in a way that hadn’t been shown prior.”

Adams agrees, and attributes Reader’s talents as the reason the magazine sold over 50,000 copies in Toronto and received over 1.3 million views online.

“This extraordinary success would not have been possible without Kirsten’s prowess,” he said. “She successfully represented me as an actor and an artist.”

Adams describes the collaboration as “nearly flawless”.

“Kirsten always kept a laid back atmosphere for the shoot while directing the overall project and styling,” he continued. “She is widely recognized for her contribution in Canadian fashion, especially within Toronto, and is listed as one of the most recognized stylists in the world.”

Despite having to overcome some difficulties initially, Reader describes the shoot as a learning experience.

“There were numerous challenges for the shoot like not having an assistant,” she said. “I definitely learned by doing.”

Reader acknowledges that she was lucky to be able to reach the talents of Adams and Heins at the click of a button.

“I was lucky enough to go to high school with some incredibly talented people who have made an impression in LA,” described Reader. “Patrick was one of them and I took the chance and reached out. Vanessa has been a great friend and work colleague who I always feel privileged to work with. Her talent behind the lens is one that inspires me to be better on every project.”

All in all, the experience was a great one for Reader.

“The whole day was a so much fun and even though I was wearing many hats for the project we had fun just trying out the concepts we had loosely brainstormed,” said Reader.

She even got to discover some natural talent that was hidden before.

“My favorite part was probably the motorcycle shot. We actually shot it with my driving across the LA River Bridge keeping pace with Patrick on his motorcycle and Vanessa leaning out the window to shoot,” she said. “Apparently I make an excellent pace car driver as well.”

pat 1
Patrick Adams styled by Kirsten Reader featured in Archibald Magazine