Category Archives: international Talent

Haisu Wang: From China’s Base-FX to Becoming a Leading Art Director in the U.S.

 

Tian-ran QIn
Art Director Haisu Wang shot by Tian-ran Qin

No matter how skilled the cast and director are, how polished the script is or how astronomical the budget may be, a film will never reach its full potential without an art director capable of bringing its visual essence to life. Haisu Wang has dedicated years to becoming one of the best in the industry, and has an incredible list of credits under his belt earned while working at some of the most prestigious firms in the world.

Wang, while in China, was an integral part of the Emmy award-winning BASE-FX visual effects production company. BASE-FX has worked with every major studio in the U.S. to produce some of the most stunning and revolutionary CGI effects in 21st century film and television. Wang worked on two of the three projects for which BASE-FX earned Emmy wins. The first was HBO’s gripping World War II series The Pacific, produced by Academy Award winners Tom Hanks (Best Actor – Forrest Gump, Philadelphia) and Steven Spielberg (Best Director – Saving Private Ryan, Best Picture – Schindler’s List). The Pacific won eight Primetime Emmys; the effects work done by Wang and the BASE-FX team was recognized with the 2010 Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Television Miniseries.

The second, Boardwalk Empire, is the critically-acclaimed HBO crime drama starring Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Reservoir Dogs, The Big Lebowski). Boardwalk Empire was nominated for 57 Primetime Emmys and won a total of 20 in an array of categories between 2011 and 2015. For its visual production work on the series, BASE-FX won the 2011 Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Television Series.

After two immensely successful years at BASE-FX, Wang moved to Los Angeles and was accepted into the prestigious Production Design program at the world renowned American Film Institute. It was there that he further honed his already sharp talent for visual production and established his reputation as an extraordinary art director.

In 2014, he was the art director for two films – Contrapelo and Day One – which were both honored with a long list of accolades and critical praise. Both Contrapelo and Day One also caught the attention of Academy Awards judges and were on the top-10 shortlist of nominees for the 2015 Best Live Action Short Film award.

Thanks in no small part to Wang’s position as art director, Contrapelo has taken the festival circuit by storm. It won the Phoenix Film Festival’s award for Best Live Action Short Film and was nominated for Best Overall Short Film at both the Calgary International and Oldenburg Film Festivals. At its core, Contrapelo is a philosophical film about the gray areas of morality. When he discovers that the man in his chair is a cartel boss, a Mexican barber grapples with his desire and opportunity to kill the vile man responsible for innumerable deaths and heinous crimes.

“Because the story is set in a small town in Mexico in the 1990s, the main challenge was recreating the Mexican barbershop interior and the abandoned travel agent office – the hideout used by the leader of the drug cartel – in a soundstage in L.A.,” Wang said. “My personal challenge was designing these two main sets in a short amount of time, and also quickly gathering a really effective construction team to build them in one-and-a-half weeks.”

With his extensive 3D computer design skills, Wang was quickly able to create a digital mock-up of the sets. This enabled the director to visualize blocking and plan shots in earnest, and allowed the crew to prepare camera and rigging placements to meet those demands. Construction crews used Wang’s designs to begin building the sets while all of the planning was being done simultaneously using the same shared computer layouts. Rather than having to wait until the sets were completed, Wang’s quick thinking shaved weeks off of the tight production schedule.

Day One, the emotional true story of an American interpreter in Afghanistan, was also a top-10 Academy Award contender for Best Live Action Short Film. Though the film was set in the Afghan desert, it was filmed in the desert outside Los Angeles. The terrain proved a significant hurdle for the production, but once again Wang was able to apply his high-tech know-how to navigate the situation with ease.

“One of the main challenges of this set build was the uneven ground condition in the desert,” Wang said, describing another instance where his technical expertise proved essential to a production’s success. “I was able to use my digital skills to analyze the topography of the desert location, and I created a 3D model of the real location. I then helped the designer create the set in my 3D replica model.”

A huge critical success, Day One centers around a recently divorced woman joins the military and is deployed to Afghanistan as an interpreter. On her first day in the country she encounters a terrorist bomb-maker and his wife, who has just gone into labor. Her life is forever changed when she must help the woman deliver the child. At the 2015 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences College Television Awards, Day One received Emmys for both Best Drama and Best Directing. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Los Angeles (BAFTA/LA) also awarded the film’s director, Henry Hughes, with the 2015 award for Best Director.

Hughes says, “Haisu’s vision and rare skill using digital software to create some of the most challenging sets for ‘Day One’ was invaluable to our production, especially considering the geographic challenges of the location. Without his contributions it would have been nearly impossible to construct these sets in the amount of time and within the allotted budget. He is definitely a huge asset to the film industry.”

Wang’s skill, experience and qualifications put him in the same class as many lifelong industry veterans. A person with Wang’s talent and drive is a rare and precious asset in this business, and his awe-inspiring list of credits and accolades continues to grow every day. He is a master of the craft, gifted with an instinctive ability to visualize and execute both the subtle and the overt artistic and creative nuances of a film. A film is only as good as its art director, and when a film calls for the very best Haisu Wang is will be there to surpass even the highest expectations.

Q & A with Art Director Badr Farha

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Art Director Badr Farha shot by Michelle Castro

 

Regardless of whether he’s working on a film, music video or television series, leading art director Badr Farha let’s the director’s vision for a project guide his work. The versatile nature of his creative vision compounded by his intuitive approach has allowed him to nail the mark every time.

As an art director Farha has achieved unparalleled success in the international entertainment industry garnering attention in recent years for his work on the films “A, B, C or D?,” “The Last Conversation,” “More Than Words,” “Deliver Us,” “When Negatives Collide” and many more.

It is no coincidence that practically every project that Farha has art directed to date has received coveted accolades. The film “A, B, C or D?” earned the awards for Best Short Film and Best Cinematographer at the Golden Pomegranate International Film Festival in China, in addition to being chosen as an Official Selection of the prestigious NYC Independent Film Festival and the California Independent Film Festival; and the films “More Than Words,” “Negatives Collide” and “The Last Conversation” were all shortlisted for the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

Back in 2014 Farha leant his inimitable skill as an art director to the film “Deliver Us” directed by Laura Elisa Pérez Rebullén. The film, which followed a young activist who unites his people in a peaceful protest against their government, was included in The Cable Show’s Imagine Film Challenge hosted by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which was juried by industry heavy weights such as Oscar Award winning producer Nick Reed and Golden Globe Award winning actor Rutger Hauer.

Farha helped create the bleak and somber tone of the film with his use of barbed wire spun across the tops of fences, sadly forgotten stuffed animals nailed to wooden posts and an abandoned baby carriage surrounded by trash on the street leading to the protestors’ meeting location; and, in the face of tough competition, “Deliver Us” proved victorious at the Imagine Film Challenge taking home the Best Film Award and a $10,000 Grand Prize.

Farha’s far reaching talent has also helped him gain traction as both an art director and production designer for music videos with some of his past work including the music video for famed EDM DJ Rusko’s hit song ‘Lytah,’ as well as the music video for Tisha Campbell Martin’s new single ‘Steel Here,’ which was released in September and already has over one million views on YouTube.

 

 

He also recently finished art directing several episodes of the new television series “Seven Years Switch,” which was purchase by the FYI network earlier this year, as well as the upcoming feature film “Goetia,” which is currently in postproduction.

To find out more about how art director Badr Farha got to where he is today, and what drives him to create the powerful work he does, make sure to check out our interview below!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

BF: I’m a Dubai based filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles. After graduating from the American University of Beirut with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, I worked in advertising at Leo Burnett as a communications executive for 2 years handling GM communications in the Middle East.

In 2006 I decided to pursue my adolescent passion of filmmaking, a world completely unknown to me at that point. While studying, I managed to direct several independent music videos while in New York City under the Irreverence Group, LLC.

My insatiable yearning to truly understand narrative storytelling led me to pursue my masters in Los Angeles and soon after I directed “The Last conversation,” a film that was accepted into the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Right now my passions lays in other below the line areas of production, and the films “More than words,“ which I art directed, and “When Negatives collide,” which I production designed, were also shortlisted as part of the Cannes Film Festival this year.

So how did you first get into art directing and what led you to this path?

BF: During my time spent pursuing my MFA in filmmaking and in April of 2014, I was brought on board to art direct a film titled “Deliver Us,” which was created as a part of the Imagine Film Challenge, a 48 hour Film Festival that took place during The Cable Show. We won the competition and received 10,000 dollars. It was a great milestone and looking back it served me as the universe’s tiny vibration or whisper to continue on this trajectory.

Can you tell us about how you approach your project from the time you’re hired on to art direct through the time of filming?

BF: Depending on the scale and scope of the project, I am either hired as an art director and/or production designer. My process has been the same throughout my career thus far. My first question about any project I consider attaching myself to is always the same and that is to ask for a script (shooting or otherwise).

Earlier in my career and for experience sake I was never too concerned over the content that would be generated during my employment onto a project. As the years have taught me, I have a gravitational pull towards stories that come from a place of truth and those that speak to the human condition. I realize my efforts are best served if I am passionate about the story being told, more importantly, if I can find a way to relate or identify to certain characters within the story, then I am able to serve justice to the film at hand or in discussion.

After having read the script and if I find that I am able to serve the film, further discussions are typically had with the director during preproduction that would entail the director’s vision in terms of color palette, stylistic choices and references of what the movie visually communicates in terms of aesthetics. During this time I make SketchUp presentations to communicate my ideas of what construction of the sets would entail in terms of design plans, budgets and turnaround time, granted that these are pre-visualizations and are not in fact practical locations. Once approved and in parallel, set dressing and conversation with costume designers will have been spearheaded to make sure all involved stay within the scope, palette and framework of the vision of the film.

Congratulations on the films “When Negatives Collide,” “More Than Words” and “The Last Conversation” being chosen as official selections of the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, that is a huge accomplishment!! Can you tell us about your work on these films?

BF: The film “When Negatives Collide” centers on a lower class teenager whose world is turned upside down when the hidden secrets of her past suddenly resurface, and force her and her mother into a painful examination of their lives, their relationship with one another, and their mutual faith, which might heal the damages from the past.

I am extremely happy with the work I’ve done on “When Negatives Collide,” the story takes places in 3 spaces so knowing that ahead of time allowed me to fully explore and flesh out ideas I had to create the complexities of the characters and their environment. With such an emotionally loaded script, I knew the prop selection choices would be fundamental as we shot in practical locations. Moreover, discussions on color palette were extremely important and were discussed very early on for this film as it would have to remain consistent from wardrobe to props etc.

The fact that it was accepted into the 2015 Cannes Film Festival is a great milestone for the director, and I was extremely happy to be a part of the film and family of cast and crew.

The film “More Than Words” examines family, drug addiction, and the limits of love and self worth, all seen through the lens of a couples’ relationship as they face what seems to be an inevitable fate. In the story, Rachel and Nick return to their hometown in rural Colorado to greet friends and family while seeking a solution to Nick’s recent diagnosis with a rare brain disorder

As the threat of possibly dying from surgery or the condition itself loom on the horizon, Nick separates from Rachel and his mom Alli, and he begins recklessly acting out. When Alli suggests Rachel repair the past with her own family as Alli tries to work on Nick, Rachel returns to her home to discover a drug addled mother and her younger sister Bryce enabling the situation. Rachel finds her whole world crumbling around her as she tries to find the words to convince Nick to tempt fate and chance surgery to correct his life threatening disorder.

The director wrote the script so I knew it came from a personal space and time in his life. I was extremely excited to work on this film primarily because we got to travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico for three weeks to create the worlds in which these characters lived. The characters were fully fleshed out in the script, so I had a real sense of who they were when moving into the project. I came in with a clear sense of tone palette and set design elements, which brought the story to life.

It was fully immersive and completely isolated in terms of where we actually shot the film and the fact that there was no reception or connection to the outer world. This forced everybody to stay present during production times.

A funny story from the production was when we had to create a trailer park scene in a grimy part of town, so one of the days we went all around town scooping up garbage and waste from the local dumpsters to set the scene and bring the story full heartedly to life. The waste also comprised of food, which drew in all sorts of bugs, termites, and ants to the surface of the ground, which ended up trickling into the DP’s shorts! That was definitely not my proudest moment and a lesson well learned. Having been accepted into the Cannes Film festival is wonderful, and I’m extremely happy I got to work on such a wonderful film.

I directed and art directed the film “The Last Conversation,” which also garnered attention during this year’s Cannes Film Festival and definitely, it was a great accomplishment textually, but when I caught wind of this news I don’t remember fully enjoying the moment. I had been art directing a feature film in Northern California called “Goetia.”

It was at that point that I learned that in our field a sense of accomplishment or pride over your own accomplishments isn’t ever fully realized, because moving on from the work you’ve done is paramount. The quote “You’re only as good as your last film” rings very true, and I find a deep sense of satisfaction when I learn of a new script and when I get to work on it, once it’s done it’s done. I have to let it go, regardless of where it goes and who sees it, that bares no relevance to the present.

I remain humbled by the response to the film and the fact that it was well received.

Can you tell us about some of the other projects you’ve art directed so far?

I worked on DJ Rusko’s music video ‘Lyta,’ which I thoroughly enjoyed. Just by having read through the treatment the director’s vision was clear and I knew the execution. Even though it wasn’t story boarded or even shot listed I knew a lot would have to be thought in scene and on the day of (improv), therein lies a major risk of it being a blessing or a curse. Luckily it proved to be a blessing.

I’ve art directed 3 of Julian De La Chica’s music videos in New York City, which have gathered over 100,000 views to date. At the time of production budgets are usually next to none, so a lot of the world that I along with my team have to create end up having to be extremely resourceful and limited. With this limitation I find comes the greatest challenge and if you’re able to serve absolute justice to the projects completion, that’s the greatest satisfaction you can hope for.

I got the opportunity to art direct Tisha Campbell Martin’s music video titled “Steel Here,” which was a great experience and I am really happy with the end result. I hadn’t seen her since her days on “Martin” and this was her breakthrough moment into music. I appreciate both the music video and film worlds, but in terms of fulfillment I find total comfort and enjoyment in the process of working in film as it’s far less forgiving, which is justified simply by the fact that you have time to fully create these characters’ worlds.

Why are you passionate about working as an art director?

BF: Being entrusted to decide on what goes into a frame is a grave responsibility that not too many people understand, at least the audience at large, when they watch a great film. Art direction always suggests consistency in themeless color tones, a “natural sense of placement,” being meticulous and attention to detail. These are some of the things I’ve always noticed in myself, and I have questioned the natural timidity and yearning I had in my earlier years, but they’ve proven to be useful in creating sets and deciding on the overall creative approach.

Can you tell us about any of the challenges you’ve faced on your way to the top of the industry—or any memorable “aha” moments where you felt like “hey this is the key to success”?

BF: Sometimes in this field when I have a minute to re-charge my batteries, I often think of something someone said to me– “Your own intellect can very much work against you”– at the time I never really understood it, but I now live by that very notion, which is simple really and with time I have learned to accept it. I tend to over analyze situations and dwell in certain moments far after the moment has passed. Milan Kundera’s book “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” speaks to this very notion and answers it beautifully and provided a great breakthrough moment that has gravely helped me navigate in this industry.

What have been a few of your favorite projects so far and why?

BF: Every project I work on is always my favorite because the process is always the same for me. The projects that are less volatile are the ones I tend to worry about , which typically begs further questioning.

What would you say your strongest qualities as an art director are?

BF: I’d say I am highly adaptable, meticulous and detailed. It helps that I possess excellent communication skills, both personally and professionally.

What projects do you have coming up?

BF: I will be working on the feature film “1982” and the documentary film “Free America.”

What are your plans for the future?

BF: I’d like to return to my first love of directing, but thoroughly enjoy art directing in the present and plan to continue down that path for the next 5 years.

What do you hope to achieve in your career?

BF: An Oscar. No more, no less.

What kind of training have you done, and how has it helped you in your field of work?

BF: Being on set is the best training in this field. I have seen my work grow over the past few years, or rather my eye has become sharper creatively.

Q & A with Leading Film Editor Sunghwan Moon

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Korean Film Editor Sunghwan Moon

Today Korean-born film editor Sunghwan Moon is living out his childhood dream of working on large-scale narrative film productions, but, as is the way with turning most worthwhile dreams into reality, his rise to the top didn’t come without a lot of hard work and effort on his part.

After spending several years as a lead editor for movie and TV series trailers including the ones for the film Kong-Zi, the series Iris and the promos for the film 71- Into The Fire and those for the Disney and Disney Jr. channels in Korea, Moon moved to Los Angeles to attend American Film Institute, a prestigious conservatory program that only accepts a maximum of 14 film editors from around the world every year. A major stepping-stone in his career, Moon received his master’s in film editing from AFI, which allowed his to make further connections in the American film industry while making his mark as a leading editor for films.

Prior to working as the editor of the films And The Wind Falls, Tracks, Head Trauma, Together Alone, The Lost Generation and many others, Moon was already well-versed in editing hours of footage into seamless stories for the screen. Earlier on in his career he established himself as a leading international music video editor through his work on the videos for Loveholics’ song “A Good Tain Knows,” Winterplay’s “Cha-Cha,” Shin Seung-hun’s “Love of Iris,” Baek Ji-young’s “Don’t Forget Me,” and K-pop artist Standing Egg’s songs “Kiss Me,” “MAM-E-GEOL-LYEO,” and “NA-O-NEUL-TTA-RA.”

The unfortunate truth is that many people sit around and wait for their dreams to happen to them, believing that their fated break into what ever industry they wish will just come if they are patient– Moon’s story is the exact opposite. Instead, his is one of perseverance and tenacity. After years of slowly working his way to the top and never losing sight of his end goal, all of his dedication paid off. To find out more about how Sunghwan Moon got to where he is today make sure to check out our interview below!                                                                                                         

Where are you from? 

SM: I spent my childhood moving around until third grade due to my father’s job. We lived in a mid sized town called Gwangju, Korea until I was in high school, and then I moved to Seoul for university. After serving three years in the Air Force, I moved to Oakland, CA, before moving back to Seoul where I worked for a while and got married. Now I’m living in the US again.

How and when did you first get into working as an editor?

SM: I’ve always liked filmmaking so I dropped out of the university where I was majoring in Law in Korea and entered a small arts college in Oakland/S.F. in California as filmmaking major. At first, I wanted to be a director, but soon I found out that I enjoyed editing more than any other fields in filmmaking. I kept working that path, and got my first job at a small company that was creating video pieces for mobile services such as Verizon. After that, I ended up working mostly on trailers, promos, and music videos. After doing that for about eight years, I was accepted to AFI and now I work mostly on narrative movies.

What inspired you to pursue this profession?

SM: I always liked watching movies as a child. I would skip school, which I’m not so proud, and go to a theater and watch the same movie again and again. I always wanted to do something related to film. I first wanted to be a film critic, but while attending college, I found that editing was the most fun thing to do. You shape the performance, the rhythm, the emotion– the movie is really created in a cutting room.

How important is formal education to getting a job in the industry?

SM: It’s important in a sense because it can help you make connections. People say how good you are is the most important, but it’s also important whom you know.

Can you describe some of the projects you’ve worked on and some of the challenges you’ve faced?

SM: I was the sole editor on the trailers for Iris, the No.1 hit TV series in Korea in 2009, which consisted of 20 episodes, and I cut the trailers for each episode. The schedule here in the US can be crazy, but in Korea it is very common to shoot an episode in the morning and then air it that same night. I would get the script they were out shooting, and do a paper cut – meaning I would select the lines and shots based on the script, then select the music, then do the basic editing on paper. Once they finished shooting, I’d request the footage and quickly grab what I had pre-selected. Then if I felt I needed something else, I would look into other parts of the footage. This might not be an ideal method, but given such a short time to cut, it worked well for me.

Disney launched the Disney and Disney Jr. channels in Korea in July 2011 and I joined the team in January as the leader of the editing team, as well as a lead editor for the On-Air-Promotions team. We created all the promos/previews for these two channels. As a team leader, I also had to supervise other editors on their work and I really enjoyed working with the other team members. In many cases, creating the promos involved a meeting with the producers and editors since sometimes what the producers imagined in their heads wasn’t possible. We had to create many promos every week with a fairly tight schedule, but everyone collaborated well and it always went well.

I was the editor on the 8 series scripted show Fall Into Me for Lifetime. The story of the series I worked on was pretty classical – a normal girl meets a billionaire who she used to know in high school, but they wanted to give a bit of an ‘indie movie’ feel to it. We had to try to balance between a romantic comedy and an indie movie. I’ve known the director since AFI, so it was easy for both of us to communicate. Although we had never worked together before, we still shared the same education, which provided us with the same basic foundation and let us speak the same language. From a creative point of view, most challenges come from a lack of communication with the director; but that wasn’t the case this time. The director knew what she wanted and she understood what could be done and what she had to let go of.

I also edited the film And The Wind Falls, which was a bit of challenge since the story wasn’t typical. It was written in a way so that the story would unfold with subtlety. Things happen to the main character, but so many things are only implied that you will miss them if you’re not engaged completely. I’ve worked with the director before this – we worked on two music videos and then a web series pilot together after this project. We worked hard and I’m glad that our hard work got some recognitions from others including getting a Special Mention at Singapore Short Film Awards.

The director’s vision here was very clear for the film Tracks. He and the DP shot the film in a way so that the camera looks at the main character all the time like a documentary. Our reference movie was Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold. During pre-production, I was very curious about how the director and the editor on Fish Tank worked together. So, I managed to find the editor’s contact info, I emailed him and we ended up having a conversation. We met a little later when he came to the U.S. to edit Still Alice (starring Julianne Moore), and became friends. He told me the story of how he approached Fish Tank, and it helped me a lot. The actor did a great job so I didn’t have to worry about making cuts to the performance, which helped me immensely. As I said, it was shot in a way that the camera never rests, and it keeps following the main character. I tried to respect how it was shot and edit accordingly. And this film got into many festivals around the world including this year’s AFI FEST.

What tools do you use to edit? Avid? Final Cut? Etc. And what are the primary differences?

SM: My main tool is Avid, but I also use other software such as Final Cut Pro and Premiere. The only difference is the speed just because I’m more used to Avid than others. There are certain things that one is better at accomplishing than the others; and I feel Avid is better for cutting narrative films than other programs are.

What is it that you love about working as an editor?

SM: I respect what everyone does in the process of making a film. However, I feel it’s in the cutting room that the film is finally created in its final form. I love the feeling of being able to shape the rhythm, the performance, and finally create the story and the emotion through the film.

Also, if you are lucky and get to work with a good director, you’ll learn a lot while working with them. In a small editing suite, you talk to a director a lot. And you get to learn a lot. I think I’ve been lucky in that sense. So, in a sense, a cutting room is a working place as well as a learning place to me.

What separates you from the rest of the pool of editors in Hollywood? What is your specialty in the field?

SM: I have a background as an editor on trailers/music videos for eight years. I believe it has given me a better rhythmic sense. Also, I have a different cultural background as well, and I am sure it provides a unique point of view on a story.

Can you tell me a little bit about your editing process? Once you get the footage, where do you start?

SM: Once I get the footage, I try to understand what a director wants to achieve in each take and scene. If a director does multiple takes, I try to understand why. Once I get the footage, I don’t rely on the script as much. Yes, I’ll go back to a script to make sure I haven’t missed any small things that are intended for the story; however, I try to see what is actually captured in camera. In general, I believe how the footage is shot tells you how to edit. The footage tells you how to cut.

What is the collaboration process like in terms of working with the other departments on a project?

SM: There is a very popular comment from Jeong-min Hwang, the most famous actor in Korea. He once said something like, “All the other people prepared such a great meal. I did nothing. I just added my fork and knife, and enjoyed the meal. It was all possible because of them who prepared the meal.” I feel pretty much the same. So, I try to maintain solid communication with everyone so that there’s no room for misunderstandings.

Up to how long can it take to complete the editing on a project?

SM: It all depends on a project.

I’ve heard people say an editor can be sitting at their computer for up to 14 hours a day working on something—is this accurate? If so how do you stay focused?

SM: Yes, that’s possible. When I worked for a trailer company, I used to have to work even longer than 24 hours straight many times. I do not have any special way to focus. Since I do what I like to do, I don’t have to struggle to focus. I think all editors like their jobs. But I have to say it’s not healthy and it’s less productive to work for too long without taking a break. You get to be more creative when you take a break.

What projects do you have coming up?

SM: I’m currently working as the assistant editor on the feature film In Dubious Battle, directed by James Franco.

Do you have a passion for working on a specific kind of film or project, if so what kind of project and why?

SM: Although I’m leaning towards feature films, I wouldn’t mind doing a TV series as long as it has a good story. A good story is probably the only thing that matters.

 

 

 

Brazilian Hottie Fred Fleury Plays the Perfect Bad Boy

Fred Fleury
                                  Actor Fred Fleury shot by David Mueller

According to an article published by CNN Travel, American women ranked Brazilian men as the third hottest out of all of the countries in the world, and those good looks have definitely not skipped Brazilian actor Fred Fleury.

Originally born in Sao Jose dos Campos, the young stud entered the world of musical theatre back home in Brazil where he studied at the famous Escola de Atores Wolfmaya.

Fleury was not only blessed with good looks and undeniable acting talent though, he also has an astonishing singing voice, something that has definitely come in handy in the myriad of stage productions he has starred in over the years.

Prior to moving to New York to attend school several years ago, the young performer made it to the semifinals as a singer on Tudo É Possível hosted by Brazilian celebrity Ana Hickman, a popular program that airs on Rede Record de Televisão aka Record, Brazil’s second most popular television network.

Shortly after, Fleury began applying for placement in musical theatre programs in NY; and it’s not surprising that he was accepted to each and every one he applied to considering the breadth of his talent, but the prestigious Circle in The Square Theatre School where such notable stars as Kevin Bacon, Molly Shannon and Benicio del Toro attended was the one that won out.

Through his performances including productions “Periodic Maintenance,” “Marley: A Musical Tragedy,” and “The White Man Is The Right Man,” Fleury has proven his natural capacity for taking on challenging roles; but, his talent extends far beyond the stage.

Last year he landed a spot as a guest star on the Oxygen Network’s TV series My Crazy Love, which stars Isaiah Seward from the popular shows Hostages, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Black Box, The Knick and The following, Laura Lamberti from Cassanova Was a Woman, Dark Tarot, Stunods and Celebrity Ghost Stories, and Alexandra Lopez from Very Mary-Kate, CollegeHumor Originals, The Pox Show, and Jake and Amir.

Shortly after, Fleury landed another guest starring spot as Jesse on the hit comedy series Gringolandia, which recently began airing on Netflix.

The comedy series, which is currently on its second season, has amassed an impressive list of awards spanning the US and Mexico; and, prior to airing on Netflix, Gringolandia became a major hit with social media fans when the first season was released on the YouTube Channel Contento garnering over 80,000 subscribers.

While Fleury displays his knack for the comedy genre beyond a doubt through his role as Jesse in the series, the actor’s most passionate about playing more dramatic roles.

Fleury admits, “My favorite genres are drama and horror with heavy content. Actors that inspire me are Jack Nicholson in The Shining; Anthony Perkins in Psycho; Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Man; and the recent work of my Brazilian compatriot Wagner Moura as the lead in the Netflix’s Narcos has been very inspiring too.”

In Pat Williams’ 2014 film When Good Girls Kill, Fleury took on the leading role of a ruthless Russian gangster. After a heated argument with her ex-husband, Ashley, played by Samantha Rivers Cole (The Long Island Serial Killer, Guyz, Fists of Love, The Psychotics, Downtown Girls), takes her daughter to the park, but when her young child disappears terror ensues.

Panicking as she scans the park for her daughter, Ashley is taken by surprise when Fleury’s character approaches her from behind, holding her at gunpoint he threatens her with never seeing her daughter again unless she does exactly what he says.

After forcefully dragging her to his mob boss Odey, played by Jon L. Peacock (The Wolf of Wall Street, Royal Pains, Deadly Devotion, Bridge of Spies), and pushing her into an SUV, Fleury’s character explains that if she wants to see her child again she will have to commit a murder in exchange.

Caught in the middle of a battle between the Russian and Columbian drug lords, Ashley sees no way out other to kill Arturo, the Columbian drug lord that Russian’s want removed from the equation.

“It’s through my character that Ashley understands the danger and violence of the situation she’s dealing with, and it’s that latent reality that makes her control her nerves and perform a murder,” Fluery explains. “This is a type of role that I love playing (the villain) and have been called for a lot since. So it was a great opportunity.”

Fleury’s versatility as an actor combined with his good looks have made him the perfect actor to play roles like the handsome bad boy, a type of character he portrays with total believability, and one that we are assured to see him take on again and again in the future.

Actor Profile: Poland’s Diana Matlak

Diana Matlak
Polish Actress Diana Matlak shot by Luis Ruiz

In the world of show business, success in one discipline is never easy to accomplish. Yet for Diana Matlak, success has come her way in two very demanding performance arts: dancing and acting.

Early on in her life Diana made her mark on the performing world as an international competitor in Latin dancing, before going on to be recognized as a versatile actress in both Europe and the United States thanks to the multitude of leading roles she has landed in high-profile films, television shows and commercials.

Diana resembles the classic beauty of yesteryear. Her natural looks are reminiscent of the classic cabaret era where a woman’s beauty could shine through from her talent and stage presence, not needing flashy costume or hair to make a scene.  Whether fully dolled up in makeup and a dress or made to look like a poor villager, she emanates a look that gives the viewer an ability to relate and empathize with her characters.

As a dancer in Poland, her native country, Diana excelled to the top ranks of competitive Latin dancing, an area of performance that she competed in for over 15 years. Her remarkable reputation in the industry established her as a highly sought-after performer where she was respected for her precision and determination to be one of the best.

After stepping away from the world of competitive dance, Diana’s love for performing remained strong; and, after landing a few standout television roles in Poland including the country’s longest-running primetime drama Na dobre i na złe (For better and for worse), Diana decided to take her acting career to the next level.

She moved to Los Angeles shortly after where she has not wasted any time making a name for herself. Over a relatively short period of time she has landed spots on network TV shows such as Bones, Scandal and American Crime Story. She has also starred in several American films playing everything from a flirtatious girl to a depressed woman and a challenging role in the film Red House by the Crossroads where she played Deena Kravitz, a young woman struggling to keep her family together.

Diana is also continually seeking better knowledge, and has sought the best mentors in LA to help her succeed. She has studied the Meisner technique extensively, a style of acting that many of the greats from Anthony Hopkins to Robert Duvall, as well as more contemporary veteran actresses such as Helen Hunt and Hilary Swank rely on in their craft. She is also currently studying at Ivana Chubbuck Studio in Los Angeles.

Matlak says, “Ivana Chubbuck is a great teacher who has been in the business for years. She used to coach stars like Charlize Theron who won the Oscar Award for Monster, Brad Pitt and Halle Berry who won an Oscar for the Monster’s Ball.”

The intense physical training necessary to be an accomplished dancer helps set Diana apart from other actresses. Aside from the obvious physical benefits of being in shape, mastering her dance skills was no easy feat. Rising to the top of any field takes hard work, discipline, and relentless passion. For Diana, these qualities are long instilled and have carried over to her acting career where she has excelled in roles that are diverse and impactful. In addition to her accomplished dance background, Diana has a multidisciplinary athletic background, having earned certifications in snowboarding, skiing, and even combat training – allowing her to train and perform for many demanding roles. She can also speak Polish, German, and Russian in addition to English.

Recently Diana has been working with director Aditya J. Patwardhan on several projects, the most notable being Red House By The Crossroads, a drama that premiered at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival. She also starred in the music video “Katra, Katra” directed by Patwardhan, which allowed her acting and dancing talents to seamlessly collaborate.

Diana continues to stay busy. Coming up next for her is the the lead role of Lotta Ditsy-Flirt in the film Maneater, directed by Stephanie Moningka, set to release in January 2016. She is always seeking new challenging roles that can push her craft further, inspiring audiences around the world.

Q & A with International Star Aleksandra Kovacevic

Aleksandra Kovacevic
                              Aleksandra Kovacevic in the film “Bertilda” shot by Anup Kulkarni

Over the years actress Aleksandra Kovacevic has made a lasting impression on audiences with her spellbinding performances in a wide range of films and stage productions; and, as she prepares to lend her talents to several upcoming productions including Tony Aron II’s series Crackerjack, and Magaly Monterroso’s film Sebudai, we anticipate the opportunity to see some of the actress’s new work!

Kovacevic’s emotional range is unmatched, something she’s proven through her roles in films including Hush, Room 007, Bits of Glass, Bertilda, A Fistful of Films and many more. Kovacevic is also featured in South by Southwest Film Festival Audience Award winner John Suits’ film Viral, which wrapped production earlier this year, as well as Rachel Yingxaun Zhou’s Web series Life is Horrible and the new Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer directed by David Wain.

Back home in Germany, Kovacevic starred in several theatre productions in Cologne including “Top Dogs” where she took on the challenging role of a man, Mr. Yellow, and “The Bond that Keeps Us Together” where she played the starring role of Lisa.

She also recently finished an incredibly successful run of the theatrical production of “4.48 Psychosis” at the Hyperion Lyric Theatre in Los Angeles where she took on two drastically roles as both the therapist and her patient’s other personality.

To find out more about this inspiring actress, make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out more about Aleksandra Kovacevic through her website: http://www.aleksandra-kovacevic.com/#!home

LG: Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?

AK: I was born in Sarajevo, but I grew up in Germany. By the age of 16 I joined our theater group in high school and ever since then I’ve continued following my passion.

LG: Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?

AK: I’ve worked on films like Hush, Room 007, Bertilda, Bits of Glass, A Fistful of Film, Caged: How to clip your birds Wings and the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer. In Hush I portrayed the judgmental, negative thought of a man’s mind. In Room 007, I played a Russian spy that is looking for her partner in crime. In Bits of Glass I portrayed a warmhearted manager that can’t let go of her dead sister, but is forced to deal with the reality of the loss during one painful day. In A Fistful of Film I played a director that is taking her divorce out on set with her director husband. In Bertilda I played Bertilda, a marionette. The story portrays the social standards of a woman, Bertilda, and how she breaks free from the norm. In Wet Hot American Summer I portrayed a ventriloquist puppet that is auditioning with her friend for the camp talent show. In Caged: How to clip your birds Wings I played Justice, a young female that falls in love with her military girlfriend Serenity. She is not the only one who has romantic feelings for Serenity, her Boyfriend wants to marry Serenity as soon as possible. On her weeding day Serenity has doubts about getting married. Justice tries to opens her girlfriend’s eyes, and guides her to find herself and develop courage. But Serenity decides to live the lie, which Justice can’t accept.

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

AK: I like to be challenged. If I personally feel that a role brings me to my limits and makes me discover a completely new journey—if it makes my imagination glow and provokes people to think, then I will participate in that project. Also, if I feel the script is well written and there is a great connection with the director, or a strong connection between the whole cast and crew, then I believe a project can have a better end result as well.

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

AK: As an artist you should affect people. It could be positive or negative. This is how I feel as well when picking a role. If the character affects me, evokes certain emotions in me and I feel this is a new challenge I would like to face I’ll pick the role.

LG: Can you list some of the theatre projects you’ve participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?

AK: I’ve participated in plays like “Top Dogs,” “The Bond That Keeps Us Together,” “Freak Show,” “The Shape of Things,” “All In” and “4.48 Psychosis.” In “Top Dogs” I played a rich, snobby manager that cares more about his lifestyle and bank account than about anything else. He was greedy for more power, more money and more influence. Until he gets fired. With the help of the New Challenge Company and six others who are in the same boat, he tries to find a new job.

In “The Bond That Keeps Us Together” I played Lisa. The play revolves around a girl and a boy from different religious backgrounds falling in love. In “Freak Show” I played Irene, a manipulative businesswoman who is always hunting for the new circus sensation for her own show. She knows what kind of affect she has on men and that she can get everything she wants with her charm.

In “The Shape Of Things” I played Evelyn, a manipulative graduate art student that makes a human transformation to her thesis masterpiece. In “All In” I played the eccentric showgirl Victoria Lichtenstein, who accepts that the Casino owns her. However she is a feisty one and has built up her rank at the Casino.

And recently in “4.48 Psychosis,” I played Sarah Kane’s psychiatrist who wants her to get better. I also played the patient that she meets in the hospital after her attempt to commit suicide. There is a connection between them, which is both heartbreaking and funny at the same time. 

LG: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

AK: One of my favorite roles so far was Irene in “Freak Show” and the therapist and patient in “4.48 Psychosis.”

I loved embodying Irene, because I saw her as some sort of a goddess, an object of desire that no one can have. She is independent and knows how to survive in a man’s world. She is smart and charming, and the fact that she owns her own circus attraction made her even more appealing to me. The oddness in her life path and her way of life was fascinating.

I also liked playing the psychiatrist and patient in “4.48 Psychosis” because it gave me a spectrum to discover and gain more knowledge about the extremes that the play contained. The play itself is an emotional marathon. Since it was an in your face theater piece and it is dealing with every extreme, it was really important for me by the end of the shows to in a sense “take off the shoes” and get back to my usual every day. It was interesting to learn more about the psychology of the human mind and body, and to understand the body’s functions and the complexity of the mind.

On the other hand the role of the patient was a paradox, like a free spirit trapped in her own prison. She suppresses her path and tries to reflect her fate on others. She is Sarah Kane and still can’t except that she is ill. If she dies both of them die. My character is basically telling her not to give up on herself. It was also a very fascinating journey and great experience for me to portray two completely different roles in one play and see myself growing. We had a fantastic crew and very talented people on board, which made this journey incredible. Everyone put so much hard work and passion into this production that I’m fortunate to have had the chance to work with such great people, which made the experience for me even more unique.

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

AK: I don’t really like to narrow myself down to one specific genre, but my old time favorite is Sci-Fi and fantasy genre. I can definitely see myself doing more in this genre, but I like to keep myself open to all other genre as well.

LG: What separates you from other actors?

AK: My imagination. Each and every imagination, the spectrum of the unknown is what separates us all from one another. Everyone has unique ideas and is unique in themselves.

LG: What would you say your strongest qualities as an actor are?

AK: Listening and observing. I’ve always liked to hear other people’s stories or the way they talk, the sound of a unique voice. I also like to observe and be aware of my surroundings. No matter if human, animal or just the flow of the nature. For example just observing people sitting at the bus station, at a restaurant or waiting in line, observing their habits, seeing different manners, behaving differently and reacting differently to situations in everyday life. Everyone is unique and everyone carries their own story, which makes everyone interesting in their own way.

LG: What projects do you have coming up?

AK: I have a new series coming up, which is called Crackerjack. It’s about a woman who sees art in the murders of a serial killer. I will be working with filmmaker Tony Aaron II. Season 1 will be released in a few months and I will be in season 2, which will begin shooting this winter.

I will also be working on a play called “Florescene” written by Cassandra Shea. “Florescene” is the journey of a young girl with a wild imagination who grows into a world where it’s hard to express that imagination. She believes she holds an ocean inside her and doesn’t know how to express the immense depth of her feelings until she meets a boy who believes he was created from the earth. When they meet the question is posed: can they sustain a steady relationship or are they destined to be separate elements?

I’m also cast in the feature film ALA (animal lovers anonymous) written by Cassandra Shea, and preproduction starts September 2016, shoot dates are scheduled for late 2016. It is a comedy film in the style of the TV show The Office and Parks And Recreation. It centers on an anonymous group meetup that doesn’t understand what it means to be anonymous. The leader of the anonymous group decides to hire a team of filmmakers that films the journey of the 7 members of the group over the span of three days. As problems arise from the introduction of the film crew and new members, the leader begins to wonder how long the group will last together.

I will be also working on another film Sebudai written and directed by Magaly Monterroso, which is slated to shoot this winter. It is a fairy tale for grownups that follows a young girl named Samantha who becomes friends with the monster under her bed. Growing up in a foster home, her foster mother isn’t really amused by Samantha’s stories. But Samantha loves to read Dracula, Frankenstein and all the other classics. When an unfamiliar creature visits her one night, she fears him at first, but they quickly become friends. He seems to be the only one she is able to share her passion for stories with. When Samantha is visited by a social worker to move to another home she knows that she won’t see her friend anymore. As Samantha grows into a young woman she decides to visit her old home. It is shabby and there is a “For Sale” sign in front of the yard. As she indulges and reminiscences, her old childhood friend appears, and she finally can finish telling him her own story.

LG: What kind of training have you done?

AK: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting for Film& Television. I did Comedy and Improve, Scene Study, Acting Techniques (Konstantin Stanislavski, Sanford Meisner, Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, etc.) Audition Techniques, Master Class for Actors with Matthew Modine; and before coming to LA, I participated in a Theatre Workshop at Stage Studio Cologne.

LG: Who are some of the people who have inspired you over the years?

AK: Some of the people that have inspired me and my work include Tim Burton, Federico Fellini, Marina Abramovic, Robert Wiene, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp and Tom Hardy.

LG: What is your favorite film?

 AK: My favorite movie is Pan’s Labyrinth. I love Del Toro’s combination of Fantasy and historical context in this movie. A well done horror fairy tell for grown-ups, which keeps a thin line between reality and fantasy. The visuals are magic and the build of the movie is incredible. A movie you can get lost in and be ready to experience all emotional ranges.

An Interview with One of Canada’s Hottest Actresses, Sarah Jurgens!

Sarah Jurgens
Actress Sarah Jurgens for “In the Tub” photography project in support of Breast Cancer Research

Over the last five years UK-born actress Sarah Jurgens has amassed an impressive repertoire of work on both the stage and screen; and as she continues to grow her artistry with new projects and diverse roles audiences around the world can rest assured that we will be seeing a whole lot more from her for years to come.

Jurgens landed one of her first television roles as Gaia on the hit Gemini Award winning series Lost Girl, followed up by her role as Karina Vost on the Golden Globe nominated series Covert Affairs. 

A breath-taking beauty by anyone’s standards, what makes Jurgens so special, aside from her aesthetic appeal, is her emotional range. Her ability to get inside each and every one of her characters and seamlessly bring them to life regardless of the genre has made her a sought after actress for roles in the international entertainment community.

The actress recently wrapped production on the TV miniseries Green-ish directed by multi-award winning filmmaker Matthew Kowalchuck, and she is slated to star in the upcoming film Country Time, which will be directed by Jonathan Bensimon.

To find out more about Sarah Jurgens make sure to check out our interview below. You can also check out some of her theatre work through her production company’s website: http://www.bloodprojects.com/

PLM: Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?

SJ: I was born in Epsom, United Kingdom. My family is from Cape Town, South Africa. We immigrated to Canada and I grew up in British Columbia. I was hooked on the power of theatre the day my dad took me to see “Cats” on Broadway in London, England when I was 5. I got involved in musicals in high school for fun, and then decided to train as an actor through the acting conservatory at York University.

PLM: Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done? 

SJ: I played the Russian wife of a big time business man in Two Hands To Mouth, a drug addicted photographer who loses all sense of reality in The Man In The Shadows, and the girlfriend of a Trailer Park Boy driven mad by jealousy with an obsession over an ex-punk rock star in Swearnet.

Two Hands To Mouth is a dark, comedic, politically-driven feature film where eight blind folded guests assemble at a secret pop-up restaurant. Chef Michael Bradori is back, sober and ready to reclaim his former glory. Food, wine, greed and lust fuel the appetites in the room. Things take a shocking turn when the dining room is transformed into a minefield of political and personal danger where the characters come under threats of guns and violence. I played Anya, the Russian wife of a business man named Frank, who was played by Joe Pingue from the films Drive, The Book of Eli, Pompeii.

Working with a Russian dialect opened up a very specific emotional range for me. It was incredibly fun to play a woman so secure in her sexuality and power. It was also an invaluable learning experience working with veterans like Kate Trotter, Ernie Grunwald, and Vincent Walsh.

In The Man In The Shadows I played Rachel, a photographer addicted to prescription drugs who starts to lose her sense of reality as she grapples with her broken marriage and her nightmares. The most challenging thing about this project was arcing the character’s decent into delusion. It was a small team of people, so we were able to get to know each other well and had a ton of fun. It opened at the Dances with Films Festival in LA, Cinefest and Scare-A-Con in New York where it was nominated for Best Feature and Best Actress.

Filming Swearnet was the most fun I’ve ever had on a set. Mike Smith, Rob Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Tom Green were constantly improvising, keeping the scenes fresh and hilarious. I played Julie, the girlfriend of Rob Wells, who is consumed by jealousy. The director, Warren P. Sonoda, created a working environment that was fast-paced and creatively freeing. We were often encouraged to stretch the boundaries of the characters actions, and the improv elements kept me on my toes. Julie spends the majority of the film making her boyfriend’s life a living hell. I anchored her destructive behaviour in deep insecurity and an insatiable desire for attention and drama. It was such a blast to be able to run wild with her. The amount of laughter and playfulness that surrounded the set everyday was an uplifting environment to be in. I developed some life long friends on that set.

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

SJ: Two Hands To Mouth allowed me to work in the world of money-laundering, power-plays and female politics in a mans world.

The Man In The Shadows gave me the permission to explore the experience of being haunted, hunted and stalked. By playing the character of Rachel, I was given the opportunity to live in a state of mental unraveling. I enjoyed the challenge of playing a character that was wrestling with truth and illusion, experiencing the slippage of her sanity.

Playing Julie in Swearnet gave me a chance to play with jealousy and extreme insecurity in a world of over-the-top comedy. Her unpredictable behaviour made her a loose canon, and the working environment allowed for much improv and play.

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

SJ: I choose roles based on challenge. If any sort of fear bubbles up when I encounter the script, I know it’s because the material is resonating with me, and whatever the character represents is a chance to explore that aspect of myself. I also get really inspired when the creative team is composed of artists who are equally passionate about telling the same story, and taking risks with it.

PLM: Can you list some of the theatre projects you’ve participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?

SJ: One of my favourite theatrical experiences was acting in the play, “The Bewitched.” Set in 17th century Spain, “The Bewitched” is the story of the last of the Hapsburg royal line, a family of rulers so inbred that their diseases prevent them from producing an heir to the throne.

The physical manifestation of corruption mirrors the appalling deterioration of the state and church, in an interpretation of the irrational fanaticism that led to the War of the Spanish succession. I played the role of Queen Anna through Theatre @ York directed by Nigel Shawn Williams. It was an incredible experience playing a historical figure. Maria Anna of Neuburg was Queen of Spain from 1689 to 1700 as the second wife of King Charles II. It allowed me to explore her explosive anger, resulting in seizures and phantom pregnancies.

Since then I’ve acted in and produced new Canadian plays with my production company The Blood Projects.

In “Little Tongues,” I played Tessa, the jaded daughter of a broken family. The production received extraordinary reviews from several outlets including Now Toronto and Mooney on Theatre.

I also played Eve in “This Is It,” a young woman navigating her way through a relationship guided by a broken heart, which received rave reviews as well.

PLM: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

SJ: My favorite role to play so far was actually in a Nightwood Theatre’s Director’s Summit Workshop. It was a short theatrical experience, but one of the most profound I’ve ever had. A group of actresses were gathered together for a workshop where a team of female directors were guided by world-renowned director and playwright Yael Farber. We explored Margaret Atwood’s play, “The Penelopiad,” Atwood’s daring response to Homer’s “The Odyssey.”

It was empowering to work with an inspiring collective of female artists, because everyone in the room was willing to take risks under the leadership and artistic genius of Yael Farber. I would love to work with her again in the future.

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

SJ: I find myself fluctuating between drama and comedy. Drama is usually my preferred genre to work in, but comedy provides a fierce challenge that I respond to as an actor because as everybody knows, it’s incredibly difficult to pull it off successfully.

PLM: What separates you from other actors?

SJ: I’m passionate about character exploration and really enjoy using different techniques to approach the work. Because I grew up with the gift and privilege of traveling to different areas of the world where my extended family resides, I developed a keen ear for dialects and accents. I really enjoy dialect work, it often opens up an entirely new inner-landscape for me to draw on as an actor, and it brings an edge to the character that I otherwise may not have found. I am also inspired by painting, singing, boxing and dancing, so I try to bring whatever alternative artistic experiences I have at the time into the project I’m working on as an actor. My goal is to continue growing, and for my work to come from a place of spontaneity and authenticity.

PLM: What projects do you have coming up?

SJ: I’m currently writing my own feature length script and am about to work on a film called Country Time with director Jonathan Bensimon and producer by Evan Landry.

PLM: What are your plans for the future?

SJ: I want to keep creating the type of theatre and film that I’m interested in. I work to write and act from a personal place. I’m currently working on a feature length script as well as a photography project about the relationship between a woman and her body.

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

SJ: I would like to play strong female characters who aren’t written as stereotyped or defined by patriarchal ideas but rather deeply human. I would like to work with Xavier Dolan, Lena Dunham, Patty Jenkins and Yael Farber. I would like to work on film and theatre that isn’t afraid to engage audience members and ask pressing questions about the nature of our humanity. Some films in recent years that have shaped me as an artist include The Tribe, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Mommy. I hope to get to a point where I can strike a balance between acting in and producing my own projects.

PLM: What kind of training have you done?

SJ: I trained in the acting department at York University and graduated with my BFA. I continued to study with David Rotenberg (pro-actors lab) and Michèle Lonsdale Smith.

PLM: Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

SJ: I chose acting as my chosen passion and profession for selfish reasons really. It was the art form that I found most challenging and demanding in terms of self-exploration. As I grow as an individual, I also grow as an artist. It is an ever-evolving process and it’s one that keeps me asking questions, and keeps me engaged with life. I have been profoundly shaped by fellow actors, directors, writers, theatre-makers and filmmakers. It is a world where I feel the most at home, and the most alive.