It’s a romantic comedy about a woman who always finds herself the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
It was shot on real film without sync sound, tells a visual story without dialogue and features a professionally trained dog named Chachi who incidentally drives the plot.
For writer-producer Katie Micay, “Limited Engagement” is a testament to her exceptional filmmaking forte. The story follows Kate, an unmarried, perpetual bridesmaid and hopeless romantic. Kate is ecstatic to find an engagement ring in her boyfriend, Ian’s, pocket. But to her dismay, the ring goes missing and in a panic, Kate turns her house upside down to find the ring before Ian notices.
The two-person short stars Katie Lee (“10 Days of Rain”) in the role of Kate and Rex Alan McMillan (“Alice Agonistes”) as Ian.
“In just a few short minutes, this film takes you on a roller coaster of emotion,” Lee said. “There is a clear conflict which everyone can relate. The story finishes with a resolution that not only gives a sense of relief, but also reminds you to laugh at yourself because in life everything works itself out one way or another in the end.”
Micay aimed to craft a story with a self-deprecating and witty sense of humor. “While writing this, I pulled a lot from one of my friendships,” she said. “I am extremely sarcastic in real life and my good friend was extremely literal. It never ceased to amuse me how many times she would fall for my sarcasm.”
“Limited Engagement” is an exercise in creativity that demonstrates Micay’s screenwriting inventiveness. The entire story is put in front of the camera and is conveyed by the characters’ viewable actions. It’s entirely absent of expository dialogue and the achievement befalls only the best screenwriters.
“I actually love creating stories without dialogue because it pushes you to really tell a story visually,” said Micay, a Vancouver native. “These days a lot of films over explain, but the audience often prefers to put the pieces together on their own.”
Said Lee, “The script seemed really fun and quirky and I’m all about quirky. Plus, the idea that it was a silent, slapstick style comedy was very appealing to me because as an actor there is such a fun physical exploration to the characters.”
Growing up, Micay absorbed influence from shows such as “Friends” and subscribes to the writing convention that situational comedy is driven by strong characters. So is the case with “Limited Engagement,” where she created a dynamic leading female that carries the story in many scenes all by herself, all the while executing the needed comedic, situational mishaps.
“The audience really stays with Kate and goes through the struggle with her. You feel her pain and her happiness,” Micay said.
The character had familiar feelings for Lee and also hit close to home. She said the best part of acting in the role was “how relatable Kate is to most women. I was going on four years in my own personal relationship and was watching friends settle down left and right. Making Kate relatable and likeable gives the audience the ability to sympathize with her and also want to follow along on her journey to see what happens.”
From a producer’s standpoint, Micay was charged the task of finding a dog that would play an integral role. Kate’s plight within the story is incited to a peak when her dog accidentally swallows her ring. Kate discovers its whereabouts using a metal detector and winds up getting it back using a laxative.
“It could happen to anyone and likely something similar has happened,” Lee said. “You can’t help but laugh because everyone knows.”
Micay says implementing the dog, Chachi, was the biggest challenge to the production. “Even though he is a professionally trained entertainment animal, it was still much harder than a human,” she said. “We had him on set one day and had to get everything we needed in a very short period of time.”
Casting the human actors, on the other hand, was a different experience. “When casting, we needed people who were very expressive, but natural at the same time. Both Katie and Rex auditioned and it was clear that they were very talented,” said Micay. “They were both a great joy to work with. They really wanted to collaborate and help my vision reach the screen.”
Micay is known for her previous writing and producing of “Flirt,” a Reality Bytes Film Festival Official Selection, “My So Called Family,” that was an Official Selection at the Bel Air Film Festival and “The Firefly Girls,” which screened this month at the Sonoma International Film Festival.
“Limited Engagement” achieved critical acclaim as it received an Award of Merit at the Women’s Independent Film Festival. It was also an Official Selection at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival.
The 2012 film was dedicated to Micay’s great aunt, Clara Nelson. “She passed away before I made “My So Called Family,” which is loosely based off the week she died. She was a stand-up comedian that loved to tell a good dirty joke. She just loved life and family. When I moved to Los Angeles, she really helped make it home for me.”
The award-winning film and TV director Marcelo Galvão has selected Beto Araujo as editor for his forthcoming feature western movie, “The Bounty Hunter.” Araujo, an 18-year editing master in advertising, music videos and TV, brings a world of talent and experience to the forthcoming production.
Galvão penned the script and the story follows a feared killer living in the countryside of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco between the 1910s and 1930s.
“Beto was highly recommended by my friend and colleague, Fernando Sanches, and after meeting him and talking about the project, I believe he has the skills and the passion that I’m looking for,” said Galvão.
The film is being produced by Galvão’s production company, Gatacine. It is scheduling to film in Brazil and release next year in the U.S. and Brazil. As a release in Brazil, the western will be titled “O Matador.”
“This film is one international audiences will gravitate towards,” Araujo said. “It has a great cinematic story, dynamic characters, drama, action and it’s all set against the beautiful backdrop of early 20th century Brazil. Marcelo is an amazing, award-winning director who can deliver this western period piece in an extraordinary way.”
Creative, achieved, talented and recognized internationally, Araujo edited four episodes of HBO Latin America’s, “Psi,” including the series’ pilot and Season 1 finale. He edited a MTV VMA nominated music video for the Brazilian rock band, Nação Zumbi, and has edited hundreds of commercials and advertising promos including for brands such as Coca-Cola, Google, Samsung, VW, Ford, Visa and many more.
“Beto’s body of work shows the kind of versatility I was looking for in an editor,” Galvão said. “His work for HBO was nominated for Best Drama on last year’s international Emmy and his diverse work in advertising covers almost every possible editing style. All of that shows me that he is a passionate professional that put his best on all his projects and I want this passion and dedication on my project.”
Galvão, from Rio de Janeiro, wrote, produced and directed the 2014 feature drama, “Farewell.” The film told the story of a 92-year old man who decides it’s time to say goodbye to all that’s important in his life, including his lover who is 55 years younger. It won 15 international film festival awards including Best Film at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival. Galvão is also known for directing the award-winning films, “Buddies,” “La riña” and “Quarta B.”
For “The Bounty Hunter,” plot details are being kept under wraps, but the story features a captivating protagonist who was abandoned as a baby, raised in the wild by a bounty-hunting bandit and eventually becomes a feared bounty hunter himself.
The film will have story elements of old-fashioned vigilante justice, drama, action and revenge. The characteristics of the premise drive the editorial strategy and also create an opportunity within the filmmaking process.
“I believe that Western period movies made nowadays have a total freedom regarding editorial approach,” Galvão said. “For me, “The Bounty Hunter” requires editing skills both drama and for fast-paced action sequences.”
It’s a challenge Araujo is ready to oversee. He’s experienced with fast cutting and also knows how to strike the balance needed with slower, dramatic scenes.
“Cutting dramatic scenes and action scenes differ in terms of pacing, sequencing, tone and seamless continuity,” said Araujo, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. “With drama, the beats are slower and we’re serving the story that’s being driven by the characters who are layered and evolving. With action and fight sequences, it’s about creating the desired speed and tempo, and visually presenting what’s happening with a real force behind it. We want to make the action authentic and stylized, but also show the movements with clarity so the audience can see what’s unfolding.”
Previously, Araujo edited “O Desejo de Saiuri,” a short film from writer-director Fernando Sanches, and “The Side of the Door,” from writer-director Joao Simi.
He edited Getty Images’ “85 Seconds” campaign that won many awards including the 2013 Gold Lion for Editing, the 2014 Gold for Best Editing at the El Ojo de Iberomerica and the Bronze award in Editing at the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards.
Among Araujo’s many other editing accolades, he cut the “Black and White” commercial for Skip, a laundry detergent manufacturer, that won a 2010 Cannes Silver Lion. He also edited BIC’s “Declaracao de Amor” (Declaration of Love) spot that won the Bronze at El Ojo and was shortlisted at the renowned Cannes Film Festival.
The award-winning sound designer Veronica Li has proven herself as a talented and invaluable individual when it comes to the art of storytelling through sound. Her knack for effectively enhancing a film with her sound work is showcased throughout her most recent success, the short film, “Looking at the Stars,” written and directed by Alexandre Peralta.
Originally from Changchun, China, Li was first introduced to her craft while attending school at the University of Southern California (USC), where the art of creating sound design initially sparked her interests. “I remember when I first started doing sound design, there was a scene where a woman walked out of a hospital very upset, and my professor told me that I should make the sliding door close behind her sound like a sigh,” Li recalled. “That was the moment I fell in love with sound.”
Li’s time at USC provided her with many opportunities to collaborate on several strong, student projects. One of her earliest works titled “STAND,” consisted of a documentary about Krump Dancers in Southern LA. “It was very successful at several film festivals, and also won the Outstanding Achievement in Sound Award at the First Film Festival,” Li said.
By way of excellent recommendations, Peralta connected with Li after making contact with her during his search for a post-production sound designer for “Looking at the Stars.” Even before seeing the project, Li was enthralled by the story on its own, and also noted it as a great opportunity for sound design. “When Alex showed me the first cut, I was so moved by it,” said Li. “I loved the characters, their stories and the look of the film and thought, ‘I have to work on this project.’”
The film takes place in São Paul, Brazil, and follows the lives of extraordinary ballerinas who attend Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind, the world’s only ballet school for the blind. Peralta, a Brazil native, read about the ballet school one day in a magazine. After reading up on the school, Peralta said, “I realized that I lived two blocks away and would walk by the school almost everyday. Everything started out as a curiosity; I wanted to know how they were able to teach something so technical and visual like ballet to visually impaired people. When I visited the ballet school for the first time, I was even more fascinated. It was a lively and inspiring place, and I learned that ballet played and even bigger role in these girl’s lives. I needed to tell some of their stories.”
“Looking at the Stars” was aimed at inspiring a visually impaired audience, ultimately making it so that having, “A great sound design was almost more important than having a beautiful picture,” Peralta said. From the beginning, he knew that having a sound designer who understood this idea and possessed a unique talent would be essential in ensuring the film’s success. “We wanted it [the sound] to be immersive and poetic like the images that we captured. Veronica brought even more than what I expected. It became a much better movie after her amazing work.”
Li sound designed the short on her own with the help of two Foley artists. Said artists aided in capturing mainly dance moves, footsteps and other various close touching sounds.
The majority of the editing process took place over a holiday break when Peralta and Li were apart from one another, Li in China and Peralta in Brazil. “We thought the distance might create some communication issues, but it actually went very smoothly,” Li commented. “I sent him every path and he would give me clear feedback. He was also always very helpful with anything I requested of him, like recording more ADR or helping me gather Brazilian ambient sounds.”
Despite the extensiveness of the project, the team was given the same amount of time as other USC student thesis films to complete the mixing of “Looking at the Stars.” However, unlike the other student theses, Li had three different versions of the short film to mix. “It was very challenging just to get the work done,” Li said. The final product included the completion and delivery of a normal mix, a mix with English description for blind audiences and one with Portuguese description for the Brazilian release. “I’d never mixed a film with audio description before, and in order to fit the description, we had to adjust a lot of our original dialogue and sound design,” Li explained.
While perfecting the sound design for “Looking at the Stars” came with challenges, the project also allowed Li to showcase specific skills in addition to acquiring new ones. Not only did the short feature Li’s dialogue editing abilities, it also provided her ample opportunity to implement her own unique creative design.
“The sound design of the film is subtle and very effective emotionally,” Peralta explained. “You are not necessarily aware of the sound work, but you can feel it, and that’s how good sound design should be. I really like the little details that came from Veronica’s work; some of the memorable moments are in the dance sequences. When we were picture editing these sequences, they used to be like music videos. After the sound work, they became much more emotional and you could feel them in a totally different way.”
The short was awarded the Documentary Gold Award in the 42nd Student Academy Awards, one grand achievement out of many for Li. Regarding the award, Li said, “Winning the Gold Award means the project is a great film as a whole, including all aspects of filmmaking. The Student Academy Awards is one of the biggest student film awards in the world. Being a part of a team whose project won a Student Academy Award is definitely a great honor for me.”
While Peralta and Li were new to collaborating with one another prior to “Looking at the Stars,” their partnership will continue to grow throughout a second rendition of the short, as a feature film version of “Looking at the Stars” is currently in the works. “I felt the short was like a simple melody where we just follow the arc as it builds up to the end climax. The feature is more like a polyphony where we have to balance several different melodies and make them work well with one another,” said Li. This new interpretation will introduce another main character, while the stories of the short’s current characters will undergo an increase in complexity.
The release date of the feature version of “Looking at the Stars” is still to be determined, however, the post-production sound mixing is set to begin in April of 2016.
When it came to Li’s contributions to the short style of “Looking at the Stars,” Peralta commented, “I can say that there was a movie before and after sound design. She definitely took the movie to another level. I am so glad we are working together again on the feature version of “Looking at the Stars.””
His formula for acting is simple: interest in fellow man, being observant, educating on life and psychology, stepping out of one’s comfort zone and not being quick to judge.
It’s a proven methodology for German film and TV actor David Mihalka.
“Try to understand others. Walk in their shoes for a mile!” he said. “Always be a better version of yourself. That’s what I am working on each day.”
It’s certainly fair to say it’s been working.
Mihalka, who grew up watching many movies such as “Amadeus,” is known in the international filmmaking community for his dazzling character portrayals, chief among them his role in director John A. Mati’s feature comedy, “Monsieur Brucco.”
The Switzerland-released film follows Brucco (played by Mati), an Albanian who cuts his finger and is certified permanently unfit for work. Reluctant to accept early retirement, Brucco reinvents himself as a door-to-door toy salesman, but the new career takes a twist when he inadvertently becomes the target of the mafia.
Mihalka plays Monsieur Houstaf, captain of a spaceship.
“His mission is find a new leader for his planet,” Mihalka said. “The computer of the spaceship said that Monsieur Brucco is the chosen one. But he is a total fool and catching him becomes a challenge, since Monsieur Houstaf is a complete idiot as well.”
The role allowed Mihalka to tap into his profound comedic acting talent. He says he relished the chance of “being a fool” on screen.
“Life is so serious. Being a fool frees you! And with a captain from out of space, you have even more freedom to go overboard.”
The film was a success to the point a sequel is now filming. “All I can say is: The fool is still chasing the other fool.”
Other 2015 acting roles for Mihalka include Emilio Ferrari’s TV movie, “All I Want for Christmas,” Jonathan Moy de Vitry’s “Difficult People,” Alex Lewis’ “Driverless,” and Mickella Simone’s “The WorkPlace.”
Mihalka’s been acting since 2014 in the comedy web series, “Zero Button,” and he played Sean Benini in writer-director Stan Harrington’s “Lost Angels,” that won four awards at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival.
“Sean is a sleazy paparazzi in Hollywood hoping to make big bucks,” Mihalka said. “The movie is about Los Angeles, the glamour and the gutter.”
Mihalka’s filmography also includes acting in Harrington’s multi-award-winning feature mystery, “Perception” and Yu Jung Hou’s “Forever.”
In “Perception,” Mihalka played the role of Yuri and said, “Yuri is a very shy and silent student. The opposite of me. It was my first movie…exciting of course.”
Mihalka’s theatre background provided a valuable training ground before he parlayed his talents to film. From 2010 to 2012, he studied at The Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles and starred in theatrical productions of “J.B.” and “The Diviners.”
“In theatre,” he said, “I learned to speak up and be clear in my speech to make sure the guy in the last row won’t fall asleep. Also, I learned to get used to many eyes watching me. This benefits me on set since there are as many eyes watching you like in theatre.”
Veteran actor, writer and producer Tim McNeil has appeared in more than 30 films and television shows including “Forrest Gump,” “Contact” and “Starship Troopers,” as well as in over 40 plays. McNeil directed Mihalka in his original play, “Margaret,” at the Gilbert Theatre at Stella Adler Los Angeles.
“The play is about a community’s reaction to the unexpected suicide of a 16-year old girl,” McNeil said. “Initially, nobody speaks about it, all acting as though nothing has happened. Bruce, played by David, is the most vocal about his concerns. He is a drunk who is not afraid to speak the difficult truth, bringing comedy to a very dark and dramatic play. He is critical to the production because he is the only one who challenges everybody in the neighborhood to talk about Margaret, searching for an answer as to why she did it.
“David proved outstanding in his sensibilities and his knowledge of the character. He understood both the material and his own character, and in turn, made the play feel that much more real. His ability to bring comedy to such a tragic subject, and make it all seem natural without being over the top, is a testament to his ability as an actor. David has something to offer the entire world with his exceptional talent.”
Mihalka credits other actors as having a great influence on him. “Established actors taught me two things: find the unique things about yourself and don’t be shy. Enhance them and show it to the world. The other one is: never give up!”
Mihalka’s talents don’t stop in front of the camera – one look at his work in photography verifies another field where he excels.
Capturing difficult scenes through his work with a camera are a testament to his gifted photographer’s eye. Mihalka’s photography captures scenes from a diverse slice of life. From the sublime to the exotic, to the baseness of life, his photographic eye catches, captures and produces exceptional and unique perspectives of people, places, and situations.
DD8, a creative, full-service company specializing in design, producing, directing, shooting and post-production, was commissioned for the rebrand of Australia’s premier sports network – Fox Sports Australia. The network includes six sports channels, a news network, sports apps and digital channels.
The catalyst for the rebranding was a series of new original “I Am” promotional video spots. Chief among the creatives behind the rebrand was visionary director Luke Farquhar, who was then a director for Fox Sports.
The Sydney based director is known for his poignant and highly stylized spots that blend together an impressive concoction of abstract imagery, strong characterization and world class storytelling.
Jean-Christophe Danoy is the acting CCO for Fox Sports Australia and he founded DD8 with Adam Duncombe and Susie Riddell. DD8 has ushered in its expansion with offices in Sydney, Singapore and Vietnam, and Danoy said, “Luke is different from the pack. Everyone in the office wishes they could do what he does. He is somehow freer – uncomplicated – and very different from any other director I’ve come across. He’s the cool one in any room. And he’s always right on brand.”
Farquhar has directed many commercials, spots, promos and branded content including for Channel [V] Australia’s music video show, “The Riff.” Farquhar has directed compelling spots for the Grammy nominated rapper ASAP Rocky, the UFC, Land Rover, Billabong, Schweppes, the Brit Music Awards and more.
“I like my spots to stand out from the rest,” Farquhar said, “so I always tried to push the envelope when coming up with the creative.”
For Fox Sports, Farquhar directed the “I Am Surfing” promo last March, which features surfers Noa Deane, Kelly Slater, Kolohe Andino, Gabriel Medina, Matt Wilkinson, Tyler Wright and others. Shooting commenced at the Australian Open of Surfing in Manly, New South Wales, Australia, and at Queensland, Australia’s Gold Coast.
“Because of my surfing background, it felt like the natural thing to do from Fox Sports’ perspective to put me in charge of the surfing re-brand, and all things that come under the Extreme Sports banner,” said Farquhar.
Set to the Ramones cover, “Beat in the Brat,” the surf promo is a 45-second rock and roll-like blitzkrieg that captures the spirit of the Australian surf scene both in and out of the water.
“I Am Surfing” received a lot of great responses, especially within the surfing communities,” Farquhar said.
Another component of the “I Am” rebranding campaign showcased Farquhar’s directing of personal narratives of acclaimed athletes such as boxer Jeff Hornet, surfer Mick Fanning, MMA star Ronda Rousey and Australian footballer Callan Ward.
“Luke’s not by fazed by fame. He can mix with anyone, and he gets a good relationship going with the talent,” said Danoy. “He’s a sports person himself and he gets them and they get him. He’s incredibly perceptive and really gets something unique from the talent. It’s in his personality. Luke has a great personality and unique perception and vision. He engages people and gets something out of them that they haven’t ever given before. He enables them to discover different parts of themselves. And they in turn enjoy the experience.”
The inspirational spots feature voiceover narration of the athletes who detail their personal stories of triumph.
“Luke gets the essence of the person,” Danoy said. “He tends not to go for the middle ground – he gets the darker or the lighter side. He gets the side that you don’t usually get to see. And he tells a story simply and clearly in a visual and emotive manner.”
Within the spots, Hornet recalls his journey to boxing and explains how he was picked on in high school, which motivated him to become a fighter.
Fanning, who survived an infamous shark attack last year, shares his wisdom on overcoming adversity, improving as a person and believing in your chosen course. “Dealing with mother nature, you never know what’s going to get thrown at you and things can turn around so quickly,” he says in the spot.
“After his nearly fatal shark attack in South Africa, Mick Fanning became not only the most popular surfer on the planet, but one of the most wanted people on the planet,” said Farquhar. “Our creative had to be different, original and worth his time.
“Being from the Gold Coast also, I knew where Mick would be and worked out my creative there. Instead of doing a “wham bam” in your face spot, I wanted to slow it down and strip it back. Mick agreed and went to work. A few days later, the job was done and got the tick of approval from Mick. Mick is a true pleasure to work with and created a very smooth work flow because of his laid back ‘yes’ attitude.”
In Rousey’s spot, she shares her story of working three jobs to make ends meet, while training full-time, and pursuing her goal of becoming not just one of the greatest women’s fighters, but one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Ward is the co-captain of the Greater Western Sydney Giants, of the Australian Football League, and in his spot, Ward explains the “Captain’s Curse,” which is the need for extreme mental toughness in conjunction with physical toughness.
Cinematographer Tom Punch worked with Farquhar on “I Am Callan Ward,” on The Riff spot, “New Blood” and on Farquhar’s Land Rover Discovery spot.
“Luke approaches directing in an original way,” he said. “It is refreshing and I think gets the best out of people. He is in it for the love, not the money. His approach is very unique. He has taught himself to tell stories in a very obscure way. He takes risks that others wouldn’t and this makes working with him exciting! Whether it’s the narrative, or concert he wants to get across, I feel that only Luke knows what the outcome of his work will be. He leaves me in suspense until I see the final cut and each time I’m always blown away.”
Other “I Am” spots Farquhar directed included “I Am a Fanatic,” which shows the euphoria experienced by two female Australian football fans riding in a car, screaming and celebrating the thrill of victory, as well as “I Am UFC,” a gritty ad focused on the training of male and female fighters.
The “I Am” rebrand also featured spots centered on other Australian sports franchises and figures such as Melbourne Victory, La Liga, Greg Inglis, Kim Ravaillion, Tim Cahill, Scott Pendlebury, Jack Miller, Israel Folau and more.
“Overall, the “I Am” rebrand has collected multiple awards with the help of myself and other directors under the guidance of the creative director, Jean-Christophe Danoy,” said Farquhar, who is eyeing further DD8 expansion with Danoy into the U.S market.
The accomplished art director, M. Cagri Kara, has established himself as a valuable talent in the advertising industry, and is known for his brilliant, visually stunning work with brands such as Audi, Lamborghini, Frito-Lay, FOX Television, Yamaha and Coca-Cola.
Kara’s art direction was on full impressive display with an ad campaign celebrating the Coca-Cola Company’s 50th Anniversary in Turkey.
The campaign advertised the global beverage corporation, which was founded in Georgia in 1892, and was aimed at representing the special Turkish way of optimism. The prints changed the spelling and logotype of the iconic soft drink to Koka-Kola to befit the brand’s pronunciation and spelling to Turkey’s vernacular.
The campaign’s theme encompasses security, positive tolerance and the healthy concept of living in the moment opposed to remaining stuck in the past. The ideas of optimism were linked with the Cocoa-Cola philosophy of promoting happiness, and ultimately reached the targeted Turkish audience with great success.
“The campaign’s message was clear. I didn’t want to use too many graphic elements for the print version, or in the television commercial,” said Kara. “Instead, we opted to use optimistic Turkish words that were positive, clear and strong, as in the word ‘mutluluk,’ which means ‘happiness’ in Turkish.”
KARPAT, a leading independent advertising agency in Istanbul, produced the campaign. KARPAT’s Creative Chairman, Karpat Polat, said, “Cagri was undeniably a lead contributor to the success of our company and in particular, the Coca-Cola 50th Anniversary commercial campaign.”
Prior to hiring Kara at KARPAT, the pair worked together at DDB&Co. Istanbul Group, where Polat served as President and Chief Creative Officer, and Kara, as an art director.
“From the inception of the Coca-Cola project to its completion, he [Kara] was fully attentive and engaged throughout the process, producing fantastic results day after day that led the campaign to wide acclaim and roaring success,” Polat stated.
The Coca-Cola advertisements were shown on live TV and spanned billboards, bus shelter ads and print ads featured in many magazines, each emphasizing Coca-Cola’s trademark and their stand-out color, red.
“Coca-Cola’s red is already a pretty strong reminder for the brand,” Kara said. “Because of method, our point became very clear. Instead of being overly descriptive, we only used Coca-Cola’s iconic red, their very recognizable cans with the letter ‘K,’ and the positive, optimistic words to work for us. In this case, less was very much more.”
Kara’s work on the Coca-Cola 50th Anniversary campaign was immediately well received, earning him the distinguished 2014 Crystal Apple Award for Best Integrated Campaign for his work.
Regarding this achievement, Polat explained, “This is an enormous honor, even for an art director of Cagri’s caliber. I can positively state that we could never have achieved this without his leading expertise and creative vision.”
In addition to Kara’s success with the Coca-Cola campaign, the prestigious art director has also been awarded a Crystal Apple Award for Most Creative Social Media Campaign for his work with the cosmetic brand Polisan, and the Cannes Lions Bronze Award from Finansbank’s “Evolution,” a 2013 Cannes Finalist.
“As his multitude of impressive credits clearly indicates, M. Cagri Kara is among the most sought after and prolific art directors working today. His aptitude for visual design and aesthetics is second to none, and his instincts for delivering the best work possible for a given project position him as a formidable talent nationally and internationally,” Polat said.
Born in the UK and raised in Milan, Italy, 23-year-old Axel Swan is one fashion model whose pouty lips and bad boy style exudes the kind of sex appeal that transcends cultural boundaries. Being brought up in what is arguably the high fashion capital of the world, it’s not surprising that Axel was scouted by a plethora of agents who hoped to represent him in his teens; but at that time he had other things on his mind– like art, music and roaming the streets of Italy on his moped. The now sought after model admits that he just needed to grow up a little before he was ready to give the fashion world a try; but once he did, there was no turning back.
Currently signed to Two Management in the states and Uniko Models in Barcelona, Axel’s edgy rocker look has led major fashion companies around the world to consistently book him to be the face of their campaigns. Besides his outward appearance, which is undeniably a challenge to peel your eyes away from, what makes Axel so special in front of the camera is the fact that there is a sweet air of innocence to his personality that radiates from his photos and creates a beautiful dichotomy. To put it simply, Axel Swan is one mesmerizing model.
Some of his most recognizable campaigns and editorials to date include shooting for Junya Watanabe & Loewe’s collaborative collection, Barbara Sanchez-Kane’s “Catch as a Catch Can” collection, Urban Tribe’s “Sub Urban” collection, Hells Bells, Cult Shoes, Cotton Club and others. Axel also recently shot a campaign for Coca-Cola, which will be released later this year.
Axel was not only featured in leading men’s magazine GQ (Italy) as one of the main models in the campaign for the Junya & Loewe collection, but he was also featured in the collection’s fashion video, which was shot by Andrea Olivo and went viral in 2013. The video garnered Axel, the other models and the company a lot of attention when it was included on The Fashionisto, GQ Italia’s website and many other high profile outlets.
In addition to helping put many brands on the map in the eyes of fashion consumers, Axel has also taken his place in front of the camera shooting editorials for purely artistic purposes, like the 10-shot solo editorial he did for Papercut Magazine’s “Shiele Reloaded” spread. The photo collection, which was inspired by the work of iconic Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele, reflects Axel’s astonishing versatility and capacity for bringing intense emotions and characters to life.
To find out more about Axel Swan make sure to check out our interview below!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
AS: My name is Axel Swan Maldini, I’m 23. I was born in a small town close to Manchester in the UK in July 1992. My mother was modelling in Milan at the time and my dad started working in a bank while he was promoting at one of Milan’s biggest nightclubs, and so they moved back to Italy when I was just 2 years old. I attended Italian schools, and I recently got my bachelors degree in fine arts at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera.
I’ve always been really into music and skateboarding. I picked up the bass guitar at the age of 15 back when I was a punk, probably one of the few ones in Milano, Italy. All I was doing was putting soap in my hair and sewing patches of the bands I liked on my jeans and putting together some great distorted tunes with my friends. When I realised music wasn’t just about screaming and distortion I decided to attend a music school where I studied bass guitar for more than five years. In 2011 I started a band called ØJNE. We toured Europe a few times and released three vinyls.
About modeling.. I remember I was scouted by a tall young ginger haired man, on a warm day of the Italian Autumn, during my punk times. I was sitting in a corner next to a shopping mall having a beer and listening to my favourite noise, and the young lad come close to me and he smiles asking me if I could please open for a fashion show that I would have been perfect for, and that he would bring me to Elite afterwards so they could represent me.
The only thing I could do at the time was tell him to get lost… I refused his offer and wouldn’t take his business card. I just probably needed some time to figure things out and maybe grow up. Yeah I was a punk, but I was only 15. I got into modelling few years later at the age of 21.
How did you get into the industry?
AS: I remember meeting my ex-booker at a bar and we exchanged numbers. And then I received her call a couple of months later while I was driving my moped. She said a client really wanted to meet me so I accepted, and became a part of the agency.
What do you enjoy about working in the industry?
AS: Growing up I was always really shy and introverted, and I thought the industry was the right place to force myself to show my personality to others, as well as meet many talented individuals. I managed to improve my personality and kicked away most of my shyness!
Also I’m very fascinated by what happens behind the camera, and it’s really interesting to try and understand how another person sees you and what role they give you to interpret. Being the “object” of a creative process can only improve my skill as a graphic designer, as well as train my eyes and develop further awareness in my artistic choices.
On top of that clothes are always really, really nice. Also it’s a great opportunity to understand something more about fashion design, fabrics textures and all that comes with it!
What agencies are you with?
AS: TWO management – Los Angeles Uniko – Barcelona
What are some of your favorite brands and why do you love them?
AS: I don’t have any favourite brands and I don’t love any one in particular. I used to be really into Rick Owens (I still am, except for the fact that billions of people started to dress with copies of the real clothes without really seeming to understand why) and all the high end brands related to it… I still think the atmosphere they recreated, it’s something unique and has taken a lot from a few different cultures and background and they put them together with a dark “goth” attitude.
On top of that there’s alway a meticulous attention to the details of the fabrics and textures. Recently I re-discovered the Scandinavian touch to fashion, which is always extremely clean and minimalistic.
How has working as a model affected your style?
AS: I don’t think working as a model has affected the way I dress. Obviously at times you need to dress accordingly to fit the client you’re going to meet, but I always do it with my own touch and taste.
I’ve always been extremely sure that in a way what you wear expresses yourself and in some ways some of your personality. I’d say music has affected my style more, as well as my mood and my growth.
I rarely wear clothes that I bought a year before or more, because being still quite young, I feel they don’t represent me anymore or they represent non-updated version of myself; and they could also remind me of periods of my life that can be either good or bad, but still in the past.
Who are some of your go-to style inspirations?
AS: Love to mix and match. It could be a punk, a skater, another model, anyone could make me think of something new and different to put on.
Do you ever feel like you are two separate people, one when you’re in front of the camera, and a different one when you’re not working?
AS: Not really. Though I have to say that I mostly get picked to be the badass boy with tattoos and in “real life” I’m definitely not the one to be tough and cocky. I think one of the most interesting parts of being a model is learning to interpret the role they give you during a shoot or a movie and try your best to feel that way in front of the camera.
Can you list some of your clients, as well as the campaigns you have shot for them?
AS: I shot a multi-platform campaign for GQ Italy x Junya Watanabe x Loewe where the editorial shots were featured in the magazine, as well as GQ’s online platform and I also shot a video for them, which was featured on Highsnobiety and The Fashionisto.
I’ve shot campaigns for Rebel Root that were featured on billboards and in the papers in Barcelona, Spain, Cult Shoes and Evin Beachwear in Italy, as well as Catherinelle Bags and the campaign for Urban Tribe’s Sub Urban Collection.
AS: I’ve done a bit of everything from walking the runway and shooting high fashion editorials to commercial work and bathing suit ads, but so far I’ve done editorials more than anything else.
What is your favorite job you’ve done as a model?
AS: I’ve really enjoyed doing them all to be honest. The one I liked most was probably shooting for Fucking Young, it was fun messing around with a painted face and some Lucha Libre pieces.
What would you say your standout characteristics/physical features are in the modeling world?
AS: I’m really skinny and long, got a bunch of tattoos but mostly concentrated on my left arm and my legs. Got some quite high cheekbones but not so edgy of a face. I can look a bit more commercial when I have a bit of a beard.
Who have been some of your favorite photographers to work with and why?
AS: Szilveszter Mako. I shot with him for Fucking Young! andLui Magazine. I’m really into his surreal approach to photography– the atmosphere he manages to reproduce in his pictures definitely recalls his background and where he comes from. He has a really cold touch and the geometries in his pictures as well as the framing is something unusual. He definitely has a great eye.
Andrea Olivo . I shot with him for GQ. His style reminded me a bit of Terry Richardson, the shots were really simple and the atmosphere was more than laid back. The focus was just on the attitude of the models.
What would you say your strongest qualities as a model are?
AS: I think being myself has always worked pretty well. Apart from the way I look, which is very contradicting compared to who I am (people always expect me to be the badass junkie but I’m very sweet and easy going), I think having loads of passions and interests helps me get along with pretty much everyone in the industry and there’s always a lot to share about something. I’m very professional, I always do the best I can do, and I’m easy to work with.
Can you list some of the people you’ve worked with that our readers might know?
AS: Andrea Olivo, Catrinel Marlon, Francesco Chiappetta, Krizia Robustella, Szileszter Mako, Juny Watanabe x Loewe, Federico Garibaldi, Evin Beachwer, and Settimio Benedusi to name a few.
As a model, what are your plans for the future?
AS: Work as much as I can and discover as many markets as possible.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as a model?
AS: A couple of those big billboards wouldn’t hurt, must be a weird feeling seeing yourself printed that big! I would probably crash my moped If I saw myself that big while i was riding around town. Apart from that, I’d love to work with designers I’ve always admired and get to know who’s behind the “big name.”
What is it about modeling that you love?
AS: Modeling is a great way to get to know great and talented creative people and gives you the possibility to see places and travel more.
We recently had the chance to sit down and visit with the talented, lovely actress Zoe Cleland, who film and TV audiences would recognize from her stand-out character portrayals in “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town,” “Murdoch Mysteries,” “Saving Hope,” “Pay Up,” “Reign” and others.
A Toronto native, Cleland first starred on the stage before hitting the screen. She booked her debut TV role when she was just 15 and became the youngest actor to ever attend the National Theatre School of Canada.
Cleland has acted alongside famed talents such as Lauren Holly and Megan Follows, and has appeared in roles ranging from comedy to period drama to medical drama and more.
She’s been in the trenches on many productions. We’ve put the spotlight on Zoe, who shared this exclusive question and answer session that reveals just what it’s like to work nowadays as a film and TV actress. We think Zoe’s awesome and invite you to find out her story below!
When you read scripts and discover characters, what qualities do you look for and what aspects attract you to a role?
ZC: I’m attracted to all kinds of characters for lots of different reasons. Great writing has a huge impact on what I want to be a part of. I think if the writing is good, it usually means there’s a level of depth to the characters and the story that is super exciting to mine as an actor. I’m also drawn to roles that I feel will illuminate some aspect of the human experience that I feel needs to be looked at, that will benefit people to empathize with…and then sometimes it’s purely selfish in that a character might be fun to play or might have an aspect that I want to explore for my own understanding or personal development. It all depends! I rely a lot on my intuition.
You booked your first role at the age of 15 when you guest starred as Eva Rookwood on “Murdoch Mysteries.” How did this character tie into the episode and what was the experience like being on a television set for the first time?
ZC: Yeah, so I played Eva Rookwood, a British orphan who gets adopted into a well-to-do Canadian family, only to be abused by her stepfather. He ends up getting murdered and the episode revolves around solving that crime…won’t give too much away but the crime is a result of the abuse that was going on.
I remember the experience being totally thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Up to that point, I had mostly worked on stage so I really didn’t know much about working with the camera. So the experience was very very new for me. I was so excited to be on set, though, and I remember being completely entranced with how much detail went into to building each room…I remember looking at the books on the bookshelves and how much thought had been put into what they were, even though they probably would never be seen by the camera. I wasn’t used to being immersed on a set in such a realistic way and I thought I had landed in heaven.
You returned to “Murdoch Mysteries” in the role of Joanne Perly in an episode that aired earlier this year. How was this character involved in advancing the story and did you ever anticipate returning to the series?
ZC: I never anticipated going back; I just assumed that would be it for that show but apparently not! I can’t say too much about Joanne Perly without giving too much away, but I will say that she appears to be a sweet young mother but is actually something else underneath. She ends up being an intricate part of the episode, which revolves around a bank robbery. Her baby also goes on to be adopted by the Murdochs, which was a new kind of plotline for the show.
Last year you made your feature film debut in Jeremy Lalonde’s comedy, “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town,” a project just a little different from “Murdoch Mysteries.” What was your experience playing Young Cassie?
ZC: My experience doing that film was really wonderful, it was a great set to be on and it was so exciting to be playing the leading character in the opening act. I had to have a different relationship with the camera than I’d ever had before, because the emotional heart of the opening of the film rested on me…because of that I learned a lot.
What was it like acting alongside Lauren Holly in the film?
ZC: It was great; Lauren is really lovely and very generous.
Did you learn or absorb anything from working with her?
ZC: I did, I learned a lot just from watching her work and also from talking to her, we had a lot of time to chat in between takes and she was really open about her life in the industry, so I absorbed a lot from that.
Did the topic of “Dumb & Dumber” or Jim Carrey ever arise?
ZC: Haha no, I’ve never actually seen the movie.
What are the characteristics a great actress possesses?
ZC: Great question! I think the ability to empathize is probably near the top, because without that there would be no acting. Apart from that, I’m going to say openness, vulnerability, bravery and imagination.
How do you try to incorporate those qualities into your own acting?
ZC: I just try to be honest with myself about whether I really feel I’m being true to a character and/or situation…whether I’m going as far as I can into whatever reality I am portraying. I think if I am I will exhibit these qualities by default.
What is one thing that people would never suspect about being a film and television actress?
ZC: I think people tend to have ideas about film and TV acting that it is a really glamorous job…and that somehow the actors are the most important part of the whole production. In reality it is really a collaborative thing, there is so much work that goes into film from so many different people and it is truly a team effort. That’s one of the things I love about it. It also really isn’t as glamorous as people think, there’s a lot of waiting around and it takes a lot of passion and stamina to continue to be present in the work.
What’s surprised you the most or surpassed expectations about working in the industry?
ZC: I think in a way the most stunning thing about the film industry is that it even exists at all. When you realize how much work and drive it takes from so many people working together to do a project, it’s really amazing how much great work gets produced. There’s such a magical element to the film industry and it’s incredible how many people have the passion to come together to make it happen.
What’s been your single most difficult day on set?
ZC: I had one day on “Reign” when they didn’t get to my scene till about 3 in the morning, so the whole day was waiting in my trailer, and then trying not to fall asleep. That was difficult purely physically because it was challenging to stay alert enough to do my best work.
What has been the most rewarding role you’ve played thus far in your career?
ZC: I was in a production of “Three Sisters” by Anton Chekhov in theatre school that really changed my whole approach to acting, and actually made me want to go into film. I played Irina, one of the sisters, and I don’t know if I’ve ever dove more into a part than I did with her. I just got totally lost in her and her story. We had a director who really encouraged smaller, more naturalistic acting and it made me realize how much I loved that kind of intimate work.
Continuing on the theatre theme, you attended the National Theatre School of Canada. How does that training bode well for your portrayals in film and television?
ZC: I think my training at NTS taught me a lot about myself…that has been incredibly valuable to me on many levels. The lessons that I learned about myself there made me really know who I am and how my mind and heart work, which is so necessary to act. The school also had a really strong emphasis on building stamina when I was there and that has also served me well.
What was the best part of acting in the comedy series, “Guidance,” alongside Rob Baker?
ZC: The best part of the experience was actually working with Rob, acting in those scenes with him was like being in a verbal fencing match. It was just so much fun.
You played Odette in two episodes of The CW’s award-winning period drama, “Reign.” Tell us a little about Odette.
ZC: Odette is an unfortunate maid who gets involved in a lot of intrigue that she would rather stay out of. Because she is lower class, she is in some ways not part of the world of “Reign” in the same way that everyone else is. It was fun playing her because she is a bit of a deer in the headlights…someone really powerless who has to live day to day surrounded by a lot of danger in the world of the French court.
What’s the best part of acting in a big period piece? Is it the costumes, set pieces, the transformative nature of the production or something else?
ZC: I have always had an obsession with period pieces, so acting in them is really a dream come true for me. It’s kind of the ultimate playground for my imagination, because when you are in a period piece it really is like stepping back in time. You are totally transported into another reality in a way that you aren’t when you are in something modern.
What was it like acting with Megan Follows in “Reign”?
ZC: It was wonderful acting with her, she has such a strong presence and she is so focused.
You switched gears last year and acted in the role of Brianna Pierre in the acclaimed medical drama, “Saving Hope.” How valuable is the range of an actress who goes from comedy to period drama to medical drama and more?
ZC: I think it’s valuable for sure, but to be honest I try not to think of each project as being that different from the next. It feels the most authentic to me to approach every character the same way, whether it’s a comedy or a drama. I think that’s what usually gets the best work out of me, when I’m more focused on the character and their situation, rather than trying to fit into a “style.”
How would you describe your character, Shawna, in Craig Macnaughton’s comedy series, “Pay Up”?
ZC: I would describe her as a teenage girl who is trying to assert her power in a situation in which she feels powerless. She is an only child of recently divorced parents, and she is tying to stay connected to both of them…and to keep a feeling of security around her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know how to do this in a way that will really serve her, so she ends up basically playing her parents off each other in order to get them to buy her things.
In “Pay Up,” Richard Lett plays a debt collector named Jack. Is Jack a guy you’d not want to cross or is he living on reputation?
ZC: I would say Jack has more bark then bite, if he even has much bark at all. He struggles a lot to assert his power over the people he is trying to collect money from, and that’s where the funny parts come in.
What are some go-to hobbies or activities when you’re not on set?
ZC: I meditate a lot, and I would say I have a pretty active spiritual life, so that’s something that I commit a lot of myself to…I also watch a LOT of movies. I also like to write and paint, but I’d like to be a bit more disciplined with myself about doing those things regularly.
Who is on your short list for fellow actors or filmmakers you’d like to work with in the future?
ZC: There’s so many! And it really changes from day to day. Lately I’ve been really getting into the work of Jane Campion. I love what she does. I’ve also been going on a Tom Hardy spree on Netflix…I have an insane crush on him in every way, and I think he’s an incredibly magnetic and dynamic actor.
As an audience, when we get wrapped up in a fast paced action packed film it’s easy to forget that the actor on screen is rarely the one performing their character’s crazy stunts. A production goes to incredible lengths to cheat the shots and make an actor’s stunt double look just like their character so that when they hit the screen jumping off buildings, engaging in intricate battles and all the other physically challenging feats that make stunt men so heroic and necessary, that we as viewers remain on the edge of our seat, never noticing the role change. Although it is a rarity in the industry, there are some actors who actually do their own stunts and Umar Khan is among the best of them.
Khan is known for his work as both an actor and a stuntman in a plethora of titles including the films “Close Range” and “Deliver Us From Evil,” and the popular TV series “Bones,” “Rush Hour,” “Person of Interest” and “Scorpion.” Last year he also worked as a stuntman on the series “The Brink,” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” as well as the recently released film “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” starring Tina Fey and “Captain America: Civil War,” which is slated for its initial release on May 6.
Khan’s expertise in martial arts and various forms of combat have led him to become a sought after action designer in the industry with major productions hiring him to choreograph fights scenes for their projects. After working as the action designer on the 2014 TV series “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – District Voices,” Khan formed Stunt Fighting Concept – Umar Khan Stunt Team. With his team Stunt Fighting Concept Khan has developed pre-visualized fight scenes for several films that are set to begin production including “Killing The Seeds,” “The Master’s Legacy” and the “The Man From Kathmandu.” He is now along with his team set to make a pre-visualized fight scene for the American remake of “The Raid.”
Prior to moving stateside several years ago, Khan established himself as a sought after stuntman and actor back home in Sweden where he both directed and starred in the film “Veracious Perception,” in addition to being featured in countless magazines and commercials.
To find out more about this incredibly talented performer make sure to check out our interview, as well as the video of Umar in action below.
I’ve read from some of your past interviews that you knew as early as age 7 that you wanted to become one of the few actors who also performs their own stunts– with that idea in mind, how did you initially approach your career?
UK: I started off like any kid by mimicking the fight scenes from the different action movies I saw. Later on, I developed an interest in fight choreography so I started choreographing my own fight scenes with my friends. During my years in middle school I used to borrow the school’s video camera to shoot my own “fight movies.” I remember that I was already a perfectionist at that age, I used to handpick my co-stars (based on their height, look and skills), do location scouting, direct, choreograph and act in the films I made. All of this would account for how I got more and more into the creative side of it.
For the physical aspect I tried to learn new moves and new styles all the time, trying to perfect each move and develop a new move out of it and so forth, watching martial arts movies and later on YouTube clips and comparing myself to the best in each discipline, that way I had a goal of where I wanted to reach skill wise. I think if you are truly meant to do something, there will be an urge that will draw you there no matter what obstacles you face along the way.
As a stuntman what are some of your special skills in the industry?
UK: My background is in martial arts, so I would say my primary skills as a stunt performer is screen fighting along with fight design, however I do a lot of different areas of stunts today.
How long have you been practicing martial arts?
UK: I have trained in martial arts since I was 7 years old.
You recently wrapped production on the upcoming films “Captain America: Civil War” and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” starring Tina Fey, can you tell us about the stunts you did in these films?
In “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” I was initially set to do stunts only but I replaced the original actor who was cast for the role as “Wild-Eyed Man”, the director said that he was impressed with my performance while I was rehearsing the scene as a stand in for the actor so he cast me for the role instead. The character I was playing was possessed and was running in a crowd towards the lion cage screaming and eventually throwing a hand grenade inside the lion’s cage. We actually had a real lion on set, so it was pretty amazing to see such a magnificent animal so up-close.
In “Captain America: Civil War” I was playing Hero Mercenary and my main scene was fighting Scarlett Johansson’s character Black Widow, it was a great fight scene, one of the best in the movie, so you guys should definitely check it out!
What technical challenges did you face on these films when it came to mapping out how your stunts would play out on camera?
UK: The fight we did for “Captain America: Civil War” was a demanding one because of the extensity of the fight combined with the lack of time rehearsing it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any time to rehearse the scene, which happens sometimes. We rehearsed the fight on set a few times right before we shot it and it all went really great actually. It all comes down to how well trained you are in screen fighting and how fast you can learn and adapt to a new choreography. Fortunately, that’s something I have always kept in mind since the day I started doing this, you never know when/if the director wants something different once he sees it in front of him, so I always keep in mind to prepare myself for any changes or the possibility of learning a new choreography at the last minute.
You have also worked as an action designer on several projects over the years– for our readers who aren’t sure what that entails can you briefly explain what you do as an action designer on a project?
UK: An action designer is basically a person or a team who is/are hired to design the action scenes on a production. In many cases, the stunt coordinator designs and choreographs the stunt sequence to suit the script and the director’s vision.
What projects have you worked on as an action designer and what were some of the different approaches that you took on each project?
UK: I designed a fight sequence back in 2014 on the TV mini-series “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – District Voices.” While designing the fight scene for the series an idea I had many years ago of creating my own stunt team came back and so a couple of months later I formed my own team, Stunt Fighting Concept – Umar Khan Stunt Team. We have been fortunate enough after creating our first action design pre-viz (sponsored by Under Armor Germany) to get a lot of calls from producers requesting to make a pre-viz for their upcoming projects. We created two pre-vizes for Joyto Films for their upcoming projects “Killing The Seeds” and “The Master’s Legacy” and successfully locked the position on both as the Stunt Unit, and I’m set to Second Unit Direct/Stunt Coordinate on both projects.
We made another Pre-viz for a project called “The Man From Kathmandu” which my team and I will action design and coordinate on, I will Second Unit Direct and star in that film. We also recently made a pre-viz for Screen Gems that we’ll soon know if we secured the position of creating the action. And currently we’re rehearsing for our upcoming pre-viz for the American remake of “The Raid.”
I start preparing an action design for a certain project by reading the script a couple of times to get familiarized with the storyline and the characters involved in it, then I ask the producers or the director what his/her vision is and what they’re looking to do with the scene and then I’ll start working my way from there creating an action design that fits the script.
From safety to how things appear on camera, what are some of the most important aspects that you need to consider when designing fight sequences on a production?
UK: The general idea of my fight designs is to make it look as authentic as possible but also visually attractive for the audience, along with the unique camera technology that we possess (the only one on the market), the cameraman can approach the performers much closer in order to get the hands on feeling on the actual fight and give the audience almost a third person POV, video game kind of feel to it.
With this system in use comes a lot of other responsibilities to keep in mind. Not only safety for the performers but also safety for the camera man who is now one more “performer” in the mix and automatically becomes a safety priority. The fight sequences I design are meant to look very authentic due to the actual physical contact me and my teammates are inflicting upon each other, it’s not something I recommend; my team consists of guys that have fought professionally or are highly trained in various areas of the stunt business and are used to the physical contact as myself. We train the same way real fighters do, with sparring sessions combined with our choreography training to have the best of both worlds and adapt fast.
The second thing is the environment and the props. Basically we use props that look authentic and can simulate the real thing, just like in any of the props on set, we utilize them when we need but as little as possible since one of the main features of the camera technology we use is to capture the action scenes in “one shot.” We are limited when it comes to cuts between scenes so it requires a lot more from the performers to stay in shape, being well rehearsed and being sharp to prevent unaccommodated injuries to themselves or their fellow partners.
What is this new unique camera technology that your team uses?
UK: It’s basically something that we refer to as a “Semi-drone.” We believe that our concept will revolutionize how filmmakers capture movie fights and overall action scenes in the future. The reason being is that our system freely captures the fights and action in a video game style look by utilizing the DP as a part of the movement within the scene along with the performers and having a second camera operator moving the camera through a monitor for a more up-close and detailed view of the action, this way it won’t leave a single part of the move out for the audience to feel, you get the best of both worlds, the sense of POV along with the interactive part of 3D which makes it feel like you are a part of the action. It’s a pretty advanced technology that we are happy to bring to the big screen soon.
Can you tell us about your work on the 2015 film “Close Range”?
UK: I got a call from the director of the movie, Isaac Florentine, when I was in Texas and he told me that he had a part for me on his new movie. So I flew back to L.A and we started working on it. Working with Isaac was great, we had been in talks of working together for about 5 years when I was still in Sweden, so when the opportunity arose we made it happen. I was playing a Mexican drug cartel assassin called “Sesma”.
How does your character Sesma fit into the film?
UK: Sesma is the Mexican drug cartel boss’ right hand in the movie, he is an emotionless cold-blooded killer. Playing the character that doesn’t have a lot of lines is quite demanding but also a lot fun since instead of vocally using your thoughts you have to transcend them through your facial expressions and body language.
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
UK: Not really, I have played a wide range of characters from different ethnicities and backgrounds.
Can you tell us about your favorite role to date as well as your most challenging role an actor?
UK: I would say until this date it’s probably a project I directed back in Sweden, “Veracious Perception.” I was depicting the role of Robert Martinez, a corrupt cop with multiple personalities, so I had to bring out so many different emotions while still maintaining character. It was very challenging but something I really grew from and enjoyed doing.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
UK: My main goal when coming to America and Hollywood was to work on projects that were on the mainstream level, such as popular TV shows and big budget movies. It has been great working on big name productions doing acting and stunts but at the moment I’m also looking for challenging parts for the acting aspect and great action scripts for the action design.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
UK: If the role has a challenging side to it, it’ll be more intriguing to me. I prioritize the parts when I’m pushed out of my comfort zone to find a “new” me through the character I’m playing. I believe as an actor if you are not pushing yourself to take on the most demanding parts you’re not really testing your limits of what you are capable of delivering from deep inside you.
Have you been in any commercials or music videos?
UK: I recently did a commercial for EAS Sports Nutrition as one of the featured athletes, before that I did a commercial for Red Apple’s Ale, performing as the Latino boxer. I did a commercial for Dick’s Sporting Goods representing Under Armor jogging apparel, and last year I did a photoshoot for Harley Davidson and Carnivore Fitness (Australian athletic apparel) who are also now my sponsors.
I was in a bunch of music videos back in Sweden, such as, Fjarde Varlden’s “Ingenting,” Unlima’s “N’ Say Love,” Emerson’s “Back Off” and Cee Rock’s “The Fury.” Anderson Iz Nice and I did a couple of commercials like Idol 2005 and ICS for Sony Ericson, and I’ve also been featured in many magazines such as Fighter Magazine, Fitness Magazine, twice in M3 Digital World, the cover of Friskispressen, as well as Kamera & Bild.
What projects do you have coming up?
UK: At the moment me and my team are rehearsing for a previsualization for the upcoming American remake of the martial arts film, “The Raid.” I’m also in preproduction with another project that is set to be shot here in the U.S. and Nepal later this year, an action thriller called, “The Man From Kathmandu.” The film, which I’m both action directing and starring in, is being produced by Clear Mirror Pictures.
Last year, I was requested to choreograph/direct two pre-vizes for Tom Delmar, a renowned British action director making his directorial debut. We shot the pre-vizes with our technology and he was really impressed by them, so he put me in charge as the Second Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator on his upcoming features, “Killing The Seeds” and “The Masters Legacy.” It will be my debut as a Second Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator on a feature film so I’m super excited about that and deeply honored to have been given such a high position.
What are your plans for the future?
UK: My plans for the future are to develop more innovative Action Design for major shows and carry on what I started when I was in middle school, borrowing the school’s camera and bringing my friends to different locations to shoot my own projects, this time I’ll do it with my stunt team and with big budget projects. I also have plans to star and direct in my own projects in the future.
When asked, most filmmakers will agree that maintaining creative control of a production is one of the most highly prized opportunities in any project. However, directors must often sacrifice that sovereignty when seeking financial backing. Investors frequently assume the role of producers, and leave the visionary with little power over their own original creation. Carlisle Antonio has successfully evaded that pitfall by producing every project he’s directed in his illustrious career.
Carlisle is an innovative artist as well as an adept businessman, and as the CEO of the Red Man Films production company he has proven his aptitude for both time and time again. The son of a “Navy man,” Carlisle was raised in Europe but spent much of his life in far-flung locales around the globe. That worldly experience, combined with his strong ties to his Native American heritage, sparked Antonio’s imagination and passion for storytelling and helped inspire some of his most acclaimed productions.
“I have a diverse background; my roots reside within an indigenous form of storytelling, and I feel this lends itself to a different style of creativity,” Carlisle said of his diverse influences, which include “European cinema to indigenous American, Latin and Brazilian art forms.”
He is particularly renowned for his work producing and directing a wide array of documentaries, which range from awe-inspiring and majestic to gripping and emotional in subject. Carlisle wrote, directed and produced the 2008 feature documentary “Coloring the Media” in partnership with the BBC. The documentary details the film industry’s long, shameful history of using dehumanizing stereotypes when portraying Native Americans.
“Coloring the Media” won a Millennium Award and was a hit success with viewers during its worldwide festival tour. It featured Sundance Film Festival founder, actor and Academy Award-winning director Robert Redford (“Ordinary People,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), as well as the late John Trudell, a legendary artist, poet and prominent Native American activist. The film was bold and concise in its message, and as with many of Antonio’s productions, had a lasting impact on audiences and critics.
Carlisle’s work often centers on Native American culture and heritage, as well as on the lands that indigenous peoples called home for millennia. While working with the Alaskan National Park Service, he produced, filmed and directed three films aimed at promoting tourism by showcasing the raw beauty of the vast expanse of forest, mountain and glacier-covered Alaskan landscape. The films, “Walking the Wild,” “Bear Country” and “Under the Borealis,” offer viewers an informative peek into the gorgeous Alaskan parks. With stunning cinematography, the films teach potential visitors about native plants and wildlife, as well as ways to ensure safe visits to the remote and isolated wilderness.
As a filmmaker, Carlisle knows the value of his medium as a way to inform audiences and advocate for change. He is currently using this platform to give a voice to Native American victims of suicide with his upcoming film “Walking the Line.” Despite having the highest suicide rate of any group in the Western Hemisphere, Native American tribes are often unwilling to discuss the epidemic. Carlisle is determined to expose this tragic cycle, and plans to begin shooting “Walking the Line” later this year.
“I feel that by giving a voice to the dead, they may just be able to help the living, and perhaps help the grieving families and loved ones left behind,” Carlisle said, describing his passion for the project. “It could also help another young person living on the edge, or someone contemplating suicide as the only alternative. Film in any medium has the power to change and affect people’s lives.”
Filmmakers are perhaps the most powerful agents of social reform. By putting a spotlight on issues that are too often underreported, they can enlighten audiences and inspire action. As the CEO of his own production company, Carlisle has the rare and enviable creative advantage of being the writer, director and producer of his own projects. That level of control is critical when the subject matter deals with issues as monumentally important as those in Carlisle’s work. Anyone who has seen one of his productions can attest to the fact that Carlisle’s gift for filmmaking can open eyes, move hearts and change the world; and as he embarks on several upcoming projects, it’s a guarantee that he will he continue to do just that.
International Entertainment, and the Talents that Leave us Buzzing….