Category Archives: Reviews, Interviews & Features!

Writer and Director ADRIAN PROSPERO: Getting the Job Done

Recognized as an influential storyteller with tremendous success in the festival circuit, acclaimed Writer and Director Adrian Prospero can be described as a young Ridley Scott; a filmmaker whose sole focus is on his craft and in getting the job done- and done right. This preeminent Australian director has made himself indispensable to the industry by crafting films that are uniquely his.

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Celebrated Australian filmmaker Adrian Prospero, who writes, directs, edits and produces various projects, on set for an upcoming production. 

2018 has been a defining year for Prospero, having received glowing recognitions from festivals all around the globe including the Los Angeles Film Awards and the Berlin Flash Film Festival.

Adrian Prospero received great acclaim in his film “The Hunt” about an absentee son attempting to reconnect with his father by going on a hunt for a beast that no one believe exists. Prospero showcased his capabilities in building suspense in this drama that leaves the audience at the edge of their seats. The film earned the Best Australian Film Award at the prestigious Canadian World International Film Festival which recognizes the very best of world cinema with submissions from over 90 countries around the world.

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CANADIAN WORLD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL OFFICIAL WINNER - Best Australian Film - THE HUNT

“The Hunt” was also recognized by the Accolade Film Festival, a festival celebrated by Movie Maker Magazine as one of the Top 25 Festivals in its category, and was a finalist at the New York Film Awards. For his screenwriting, Adrian was recently a finalist at the Ojai Film Festival in recognition of his compelling script for “The Marketplace,” a highly anticipated project which will continue to build Adrian’s impressive reputation.

Prospero’s dedication to his craft can be seen through his investment in himself as a filmmaker, having qualifications in Film Production, Marketing and Accounting. This explains his great ability in keeping productions within budget, and being able to excel in the festival circuit due to his deep understanding of what sells to an audience. In addition to that, as an esteemed member of the DGA, Prospero has also invested in various Masterclasses and have taken several short courses in directing, screenwriting and photography in order to become a well-rounded filmmaker.

The distinguished writer and director admits “I see great value in investing in yourself in order to become a better version of what you currently are. You are your greatest asset and you should always seek to improve yourself”.

Prospero also takes pride in his multitasking abilities which allows him to take on several projects at any one time. He explains “multitasking allows me to explore my creativity in various platforms. I can be directing a narrative film that demands creative storytelling while also direct a commercial that utilizes creative problem solving. It provides me a balance in my work while harnessing all facets of my abilities and also keeps me on my toes.”

The Australian native began his career in directing television commercials, and have since worked with successful Australian service industry companies like RAC, Novotel, and the multi-billion dollar company CBH Group which is Australia’s leading and largest exporter of grain in which he travelled through the West Australian Wheatbelt for two weeks, capturing stories of the communities and their community service projects.

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An eye-catching still from one of the many impressive commercials Adrian has produced as writer and director. This one was promoting the alternative energy company, Elan Energy. 

It is noteworthy to mention Prospero’s directing style in commercials that leaves fellow directors in awe as he is able to engage an audience with excellent use of motion and fluidity in his shots whether through the blocking of actors or camera work, or a combination of the two.

When asked about his recent work, Prospero was ecstatic to talk about his directorial work on the Australian workplace comedy mini-series “Unrealty” in which he directed all seven episodes. “It was a really rewarding experience directing for a comedy series as it demands a different kind of skill set and challenges you as a director to trust your actors and your gut, and to really just dive into it”.

“Unrealty” is an excellent example of Prospero’s attention to detail in regards to using colours to his advantage. The use of primary colours in the show emphasizes the series’ fictitious and comedic elements, and serves to distinguish characters from one another. The use of symmetry and dutch angle shots are also unique and serves the story well.

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A still from the hilarious comedy series Adrian directed, “Unrealty.”

Prospero’s ability to tell a wide range of stories is impressive, ranging from horror to comedy, and more documentary oriented stories of human nature and experience. Shifting between genres can be challenging, but seems to be second nature to this seasoned storyteller who has been in the industry for over a decade.

Often the director of the films that he writes, Prospero focuses on each film’s particular needs and has the advantage of understanding the film to its core. “Being a writer and director of a film allows me a creative independence in what I want to convey to the audience. It is a wonderfully surreal intimacy which grounds me in keeping an honest conversation”.

His tenacity in the film industry goes beyond writing and directing as Prospero also plays a critical role in the company Stareable, a platform that seeks to connect web series creators with their audience. Stareable currently holds the title of the largest community of web series creators.

Adding to his already impressive CV, Prospero has also been held to high esteem by becoming a judge in film festivals such as the International Hollywood Short Film Festival in Los Angeles, California and the Jackson Hole Film Festival in Wyoming, USA. “It is an honour to be a judge in these festivals. There are so many great stories out there, and to have the opportunity to watch all these incredible films and judge them- it truly is a gratifying experience, one that I do not take lightly.”

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Adrian recently served as a juror for the International Hollywood Short Film Festival, reflecting the high-regard with which many in the industry hold Adrian

Prospero further acknowledges that being a judge for these films can be a very educational experience as it forces you to break films down into various components and to analyze each aspect individually like story, cinematography, sound, and editing in addition to viewing it as a whole.

Being compared to Ridley Scott is most certainly daunting, but Adrian Prospero is definitely up to the challenge. His work demands attention, and he has definitely been successful thus far. He is thrilled to continue living his passion as a writer and director and we are excited to see what’s next for this notable Australian filmmaker.

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An arresting still from “Ambience,” one of many gripping film projects directed by Adrian Prospero.

 

 

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Poland’s Maja Lakomy shines light on mental illness in acclaimed film

Growing up in Kielce, Poland, Maja Lakomy was always fascinated by performing. Whether it be in a film or on a stage, she found herself constantly impressed by what actors were capable of and the effects they could have on the audience. She began to realize even at a young age that she wanted to become like one of those incredible actors and do the same thing to the audience. She was encouraged to choose a career that could make her happy, and acting was therefore the only option for her.

Throughout her career, Lakomy has worked on a number of successful projects. Recently, her award-winning film Diminuendo saw critical acclaim at many prestigious international film festivals and is expected to continue to do so throughout the year. She also shot a music video for Andrea Bocelli, the Grammy nominated and Golden Globe winning Italian musician who has collaborated with greats such as Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, and more. Lakomy is doing what she wished for as a child and loves every day she steps onto a set.

“I imagine that it hardly ever happens that people are so lucky to do what they love as a career. Nevertheless, I went that direction and knew I would never give up and would always keep working towards my dream. Now, I am one of those lucky people who have their passion as their job,” said Lakomy.

One of Lakomy’s first tastes of international success came from her work on the film Star House. The film was uploaded on Vimeo, the online platform for video-sharing in December 2017 and is available worldwide. The project also received attention from the prestigious Berlin Fashion Film Festival. The representatives of the festival wrote a comment, that’s visible under the video on Vimeo, leaving a compliment about the project and offering participation in the festival under the category “Fashion, Lifestyle and Beauty Film – Emerging Talent”.

Star House follows two girls who break into an intriguing home they come across in the woods and decide to stay until the owner returns. The story is very unpredictable with a fun twist, something for the audience to look forward to. The drama also showcases two distinctive characters, with a disturbing and surprising realness to their psychological construction.

“I think that a lot of women could identify with the story and the message of it. Nearly everybody has some part of themselves that they don’t accept and makes them feel weak. Everybody has somebody like my character in their lives, who let their insecurities drive their mental health to the line where sane meets insane. This story shows how obsessive one can become while pursuing perfection. It’s also a sort of commentary on body dysmorphia and the dynamic among females who have the tendency to constantly compare themselves to one another. I think all of these aspects are very important,” said Lakomy.

Lakomy’s character, Cleo, is very interesting and complex. She lacks everything that the other charactor, Rose, possesses: confidence, beauty, spontaneity. Rose also has a certain type of control over Cleo. Cleo was mesmerized and infatuated by Rose. The irony, however, in this story was that the girls look very alike, but Cleo is only able to notice her own flaws and insecurities that she believes Rose does not possess, which is why she was so compelling and perfect in Cleo’s eyes. The idea of perfection that Rose represented was only in Cleo’s head, and that is what makes this story touching.

Lakomy excelled when presenting Cleo’s feelings and what she goes through, knowing the importance of her character and story for females in the audience who may feel similarly.

“I hope women that watched it or any other film with a similar message realize that being a perfectionist is not healthy and we need to accept ourselves as we are and not let other people criticize us, bring us down and objectify us,” she said.

After being hand selected for the role by the Director, Allison Bunce, Lakomy was eager to begin playing such an insecure and controlled character, offering a challenge she had not encountered yet in her esteemed career. She had previously played a similar character in the play Angels in America, and therefore applied the same principles when it came to portraying Cleo; this time, however, in front of a camera.

“Acting with the other lead actress opposite of me was very interesting when you’re aware her character doesn’t really exist. At the same time, she was one hundred percent real to my character, so I had to focus on remembering that,” Lakomy described.

Star House was also shot on 16mm film and a Super8 camera, so it had a very unique visual style to it. Lakomy had previously never worked with this type of camera equipment and she now says she is a fan of the style. The best part of the experience for the actress, however, was those she worked with.

“Working on this project was truly a magical experience. I loved working with such a professional crew. Every single person on the set has been committed, successful, and excels at what they do. It was a great pleasure to be around them and learn from them. I think we made up a great team,” Lakomy concluded.

Check out Star House on Vimeo to see Lakomy’s outstanding performance.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Graphic Designer Laura Suuronen’s Flair for Arresting Visuals

Graphic designer Laura Suuronen’s command of virtually every conceivable visual format—designing everything from billboards and logos to web sites and product packaging—has established her as one of the preeminent leaders in her field. Suuronen’s gift for delivering a final product which surpasses her client’s original expectations is a skill that’s earned her an international reputation of significant renown.

She has a particular affinity for projects from the world of art and publishing—sophisticated platforms where her impeccable visual style and deep well of skill and instinct really come into play and one of Suuronen’s most striking achievements was her design of a monograph on famed artist Timo Heino for a retrospective exhibition at the Helsinki Art Museum.

“Timo Heino was represented by Galerie Anhava, the leading contemporary art gallery in Finland, who is a client of mine,” Suuronen said. “I’d seen his installation ‘Addiction’ when it was exhibited there, but otherwise I wasn’t familiar with his work. I’d already designed the 20th anniversary book for Anhava, and when Heino asked the gallery directors for recommendations on designers to do the catalog for his retrospective at the Helsinki Art Museum, they dropped my name.”

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This was no simple task. Heino is an acclaimed artist with a distinct approach that frequently emphasizes a striking juxtaposition of man-made and organic substances, and Suuronen relished the chance to complement his visual style. The project required her to bring all of her creative techniques to the table—art direction, graphic design, typography, photo editing, layout design—and the book she produced was a stunning example of Suuronen’s versatile design genus.

She managed every aspect of the challenging task from the top down, and typically, expanded her role to also create a visual identity for both the exhibition and its promotional materials.  “I created the entire book,” Suuronen said. “The client only provided me text files and photographs. I art directed and designed the whole thing book from the format, materials and photo editing on up. I decided the size and shape of the book, how it’s bound, selected the papers. I chose the typefaces, designed the typography, selected the images, and conceived the structure of the book, its rhythm, its pace, and further highlighted that by the use of different paper stocks.”

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From there, Suuronen went directly to the source to finalize the project. The whole process was pretty informal and most of what I presented got approved straight away, from the structure and layout style to paper stocks,” Suuronen said. “For the cover I offered several options, and they chose the one which best fit Heino’s work—we made it into a curious object, a hard cover book complete with soft, squishy cover boards. Seriously, who makes a book to be like an egg?”

Upon publication, Suuronen’s eye-catching mixture of elegance and eccentricity quickly earned significant notice. The monograph was recognized as a Beautiful Book by the prestigious Finnish Book Art Committee’s annual Most Beautiful Books competition and also by the Finnish Art Society with an honorable mention in its Literature Awards category. The Book Art Committee described Suuronen’s work with particular enthusiasm: “What is this? Human skin, animal hide, marble? The cover of this book casts the reader straight into the physical nature of contemporary art: grab, squeeze, open. Anyone who dares to venture into this book is rewarded with a fine introduction to the artist´s works and a pleasant reading experience. The difference between the natural-yellow of the text pages and the chalk-white paper of the photo pages, the calm and well-paced layout and the modern typeface all deserve due thanks.”

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Typical of Suuronen’s intuitive style, the book’s design itself reveal as great a depth of insight to the subject as the text and illustrations. “The book presents an experience similar to viewing Heino’s work in a museum setting, but with deeper insight into the artist’s philosophy and approach,” Suuronen said. “The text pages are printed in black only on uncoated cream-colored paper, while the projects are presented in full color on bright white, coated pages. The differences in paper stock not only create rhythm and pace into the flow of the book, but also make each section better functioning: the text sections are easier to read from the off-white, and the artworks are better reproduced on the coated paper. There’s also a few underlying narratives that run hidden throughout the book, should a reader really commit to the experience… there’s different levels in it.”

This is key to Suuronen’s constantly expanding international profile—her innate ability to enhance and elevate a project to the point where it assumes an even greater impact and significance for its audience. As the esteemed American designer Vanessa B. Dewey, formerly Mattel’s Lead in Creative and Development Experience and current LA Design Festival Board of Directors member, said, “I’ve been a fan of Laura’s work for some time—it is a fresh voice that stands out from current design. It possesses a refreshing elegance that catches your eye and pulls you in. While exploring, you’ll discover thoughtfully designed books with brilliantly sophisticated type to vibrant sculptural branding or poster design. Overall, it’s intelligent, simply brilliant design that’s never forced.”

The Los Angeles based Suuronen’s professional recognition steadily grows with each project, making her one of the most in-demand graphic designers anywhere—so much so that her current, very high-profile work load is subject to client mandated non-disclosure agreements. But, with her distinctive flair for arresting visuals, you’ll know it when you see it.

“I’d designed books and record covers before,” Suuronen said. “And these are the most permanent and culturally relevant mediums in the field of graphic design. I actually prefer making things that stand the test of time, as opposed to short lived, more commercial projects. I’m not interested in adding to the noise and clutter, but seek to create work that connects with people. I do love what we ended up with—I live for this stuff.”

Netflix Actor Millie Samuels on working for the streaming giant, and more

While well-known actress Millie Samuels will strike anyone with whom she comes in contact as a truly down-to-Earth Australian, this young thespian has most certainly reached the level of international player after more than a decade in the film industry.

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Millie Samuels, as shot by renowned photographer Marnya Rothe.

Millie, who honed her craft at Oscar-nominee William H. Macy’s Atlantic Acting School, has forged her place in entertainment by way of playing a wide range of characters in numerous successful productions. The topic we’ve sat down to discuss with the leading lady on this occasion though is specifically her successful partnership with streaming giant Netflix. That association has seen her leverage critically acclaimed Australian TV show “The Gods of Wheat Street” to international audiences. In turn, fans around the world have become familiar with the Sydney-local, who has also had projects screen in prestigious film festivals in New York and Los Angeles. Online series Girt by Fear, directed by Hyde & Seek’s Yianni Andrikidis, screened at the NYC Webfest in 2017, while film Three Hearts notably screened at the TCL Chinese Theatres in LA for the Dances with Films Festival in 2015. In both projects, Millie played the lead role – adding to her impressive roster of diverse screen performances.

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Millie trained at Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy’s Atlantic Acting School in New York City, alongside “Pirates of the Carribbean” actor, Travis Jeffery.

Regarding Netflix and Gods of Wheat Street, Millie enthusiastically outlines her character Anastasia Hamilton. “[She] was integral to the plot as I had the romantic storyline. Viewers enjoyed watching this romance grow with every episode and to see Anastasia’s morals outgrow her bigoted father and eventually convinced her mother to abandon him too. Although not initially apart of the Freeburn clan, it was her heroic heart that would do anything for love that eventually lead her to be accepted.”

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Millie has enjoyed playing leading roles on shows which have been popular with Netflix subscribers.

Millie adds with a smile, “Everybody loves a good romantic storyline and the relationship between Tristian and Anastia surely gave audiences that…it was so well received that Netflix bought the streaming rights.”

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Millie Samuels with SyFy Hunters star Mark Coles-Smith in a scene from Gods of Wheat Street, a show that’s been a hit for ABC and Netflix globally. 

This awareness of how her characters fit into the storylines of each project in which she has been cast has allowed Millie to develop an excellent reputation amongst filmmakers, a testament to the notion that being a hard-working team-player – especially with companies like Netflix and ABC – never goes unnoticed. When assessing her body of work, it’s clear Millie is an top-tier actor because she understand that she’s one part in a bigger machine, yet still gives 150%. This is a testament to a unique and strong combination of self-belief when it comes to her craft, but no ego when it comes to her status.

She further explains, “Now that Netflix has picked it up the show, the viewers only get larger as word travels and they are able to watch the series in its entirety. To have this touching series be given another chance to win over audience’s hearts was definitely a highlight for me.”

Undoubtedly, Millie’s ability as an actor to simultaneously tap into strength and vulnerability helped propel the story forward. Were it not for her gripping performance and chemistry she created with Tristan – played by SyFy Hunters star Mark Coles Smith – the evolution of each character would not have happened. As Millie clarifies, “It is the love and connection between these two characters that helps to break down the racial tension in the town… She brings hope and resilience to the story, she is determined to prove to the Freeburn’s that she is nothing like her father…inspir[ing] Anastasia’s mother to leave her abusive marriage.”

Undoubtedly, the crucial role her characters plays in the series, and how successful the show has been for Netflix, goes to prove that Millie is firmly a part of the Netflix family.

On the other end of the spectrum is Millie’s portfolio of film work. Compelling stories which have called for Millie’s craft include film The Passenger, which screened at the prestigious Chauvel Cinema in Sydney’s Paddington, and Flow, which drew packed crowds to the biggest independent cinema in the southern hemisphere, the Cinema Nova Carlton Melbourne. The diversity of the showcases in which Millie’s work has appeared ensure that she has a reach in different pockets of the industry, leading to her appointment as a judge for the highly regarded Monthly Film Festival, and various roles in production at companies like Network 7 and most recently for a film with a Disney star who boasts an enormous social media following.

“Judging [the Monthly] is an honour…the panel love my input as I have such a broad experience within the industry…even working with Disney star Sofia Riley, who has 1 million followers on Instagram, gives me a comprehensive understanding of how everything works at an international level.” She adds with a laugh, “I can’t believe Instagram is a thing now!”.

Of course, while this reputation might lead someone to develop an ego, as we stated in the beginning of this article, Millie is first and foremost down-to-earth. Her type of relatable personality, combined with her success, has meant she was selected to be the face of Arnotts, Australia’s most iconic maker of biscuits which retains its Aussie charm in spite of the fact it boasted a gob-smacking revenue of $1.09 billion in 2015.

“I was the face of the new line of shapes and was exciting to see the ad played nationally for one of Australia’s largest food companies in the Asia Pacific region” Millie states.

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Millie looking glorious in a shot from her Arnott’s campaign.

Arnott’s exports continue to grow, with the company’s Australian-made biscuits now being shipped to more than 40 countries around the world including Japan, the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Tahiti and New Zealand.

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Millie in another shot from her Arnott’s campaign for ‘Shapes’ biscuits, an Australian icon.

Millie elaborates that “having that kind of…exposure for such an iconic company like Arnott’s was surreal, shapes have been in my life ever since my first lunch box in first grade.”

The continuing evolution of Millie’s body of work ensures that roles in projects for a company like Netflix, independent films, or international brands, will undoubtedly continue. “I’ve been very lucky,” Millie gleefully exclaims.

Audience Favourite Cooper van Grootel on his dominance of Australian film and TV

When asked about his growth as an actor over the years, Cooper van Grootel is confident but still unassuming. “I am extremely proud of my development as an actor and to see how far I have come over many years.”

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Aussie star Cooper van Grootel on the red carpet for the Revelation Film Festival, one of Perth’s most highly regarded film festivals.

Indeed, Cooper has forged a path in the industry that’s unheard of; switching between film and TV projects at a rapid-fire pace, and he’s still only the tender age of 17. Such is the degree to which Cooper is in demand in the film industry, this interview had to be scheduled in between takes on set where he is filming a yet-to-be-announced project.

Previous performances Cooper has delivered to critical acclaim include Brayden in the highly regarded mini-series Mystery Road, the second time Cooper had been hired by Rachel Perkins after the two had already worked together on award-winning feature film, Jasper Jones. A second casting by an acclaimed director like Rachel is a rare occurrence in the industry, and serves as proof for how Cooper is held in high-esteem within the industry.

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Cooper as ‘Brayden’ in the acclaimed ABC series, Mystery Road co-starring Oscar-nominee Judy Davis.  

Notably, Cooper’s time on both sets was spent being antagonistic towards main characters, reinforcing the view that Cooper’s journey to the top is unconventional. Most teen actors are typecast as the boy-next-door, but Cooper brings an authority and intensity to his screen performances that ensure he always stands out.

“I really like playing the bad guy,” Cooper exclaims. “It’s a lot of fun,” he adds with a laugh.

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Cooper van Grootel, in another scene from Mystery Road, which was shot in the outback of Australia.

Adding to that, Cooper showered praise on his director.

“Working with Rachel Perkins was an honour and one of the highlights of my career so far.”

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Award-winning director Rachel Perkins and her company Blackfella Films, are huge fans of Cooper’s and have hired him on multiple occasions to appear in their acclaimed projects. Photo by Meg White. 

Jasper Jones received positive notices from around the world, including a review from Trespass which described it as “well scripted, shot, and acted…it streamlines a story without sacrificing complexity, and it is both entertaining and thoughtful while it’s at it.”

 

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Jasper Jones also featured The Matrix and Lord of the Rings star, Hugo Weaving.

While on set, Cooper had to be racist towards a Vietnamese character, played by Jeffrey Lu, giving way to revelations around racial tension concerning one of the film’s leading characters.

“It can sometimes be hard to relate to characters with derogatory attitudes like the guy I played in Jasper Jones.”

He elaborates. “Moments like that in films though make a valuable point about characters being lonely and misunderstood in Australia.”

What’s unique about Cooper is his ability to simultaneously retain his position at the top of young Australian actors and an affable quality that guarantees audiences always fall in love with him.

In the film project Resonance, Cooper played a key role under the direction of inspiring filmmaker Jade Chamberlain.

When asked about Cooper’s screen presence and ability to take direction, Jade beamed. “I would recommend him to anyone as he is a great actor.”

Cooper also received extremely positive notices from industry professionals for his role in the chilling mini-series Monday Night Menace, co-starring fellow teen star Shannon Berry who recently starred in the #1 Sci-Fi movie on Amazon, Alpha Gateway and the big-budget SyFy show, Hunters. She was recently announced as part of the cast for Amazon’s The Wilds. 

“Shannon Berry is a creative, strong-willed and a brilliant young actress who brings so much realism and energy to the screen,” Cooper generously and enthusiastically said, when asked about his co-star. Cooper’s humility is clear when he recognises how, even when he might be considered at the top of his field, he points to the creative lessons he continues to learn from his A-list co-stars.

“Shannon helped me push the boundaries, in very difficult scenes, and from this I learnt some much about myself as an actor.”

Monday Night Menace also gave Cooper the opportunity to work with innovative filmmaker Blake Hay.

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Cooper played the leading role of Daniel in Monday Night Menace. 

“Blake Hay made us push boundaries with our acting,” Cooper quickly asserts.

Of course, Cooper is used to pushing himself as an actor. The blue-eyed youngster’s ability to continually stretch himself and push for a higher-standard in his abilities was reflected when Showcast, Australia’s leading casting network, awarding him the 2017 and 2016 awards for Outstanding Achievement in Acting.

“Winning the award from Showcast was a very humbling and delightful experience,” Cooper eloquently stated, adding that he was also especially grateful to CAA-represented producer Lauren Elliott and Mazair Lahooti for judging his work and making a decision about the prize.

“I can’t thank Showcast enough for giving me the award for my work,” Cooper reiterates.

There’s no doubt this gratitude will see Cooper continue to grow and jump between projects. In the meantime, he tells us he needs to get back to set.

“I’ve gotta go run lines!” he laughs.

SYD2030 star, and commercial favourite Alistair Cooke, on his leading career in Australian TV

Alistair Cooke has become used to dealing with the pressures of a busy acting career. Originally from Perth, Australia, this home-grown successful thesp sits down with us to reflect on his critical role in the award-winning online series, “Syd2030”.

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Alistair Cooke, photographed and styled for our story about his impressive career.

Alistair prefaces the conversation with a declaration on why he does what he does.

“At the end of the day, I believe in story-telling and that’s my main purpose,” he clarifies with the wisdom of someone three times his age.

When asked to elaborate, Alistair points to what he hopes to do with his acting in general.

“I’m an actor focused of sharing the experiences of characters and giving audiences the opportunity to learn and experience things they wouldn’t in their day to day life.”

We begin our discussion with a reflection the hit drama, “Syd2030.” When asked about his contribution to the show, Alistair speaks with an authoritative confidence.

“My character “Avery” in “Syd2030” was a necessity to the show. He brought the comedic relief in what was a drama heavy production.”

Indeed, watching the show it’s very clear Alistair brings an inviting humour into every scene in which he appears, but balances that out with a extremely strong grip on the dramatic tension. Proof of the exceptional acting talent he has come to be known as.

“Syd2030” was acclaimed as Australia’s answer to “Gossip Girl’ meets “Suits” – a fictional inside look into the lives of ambitious law students. This meant that some episodes were laced with heavy topics, include drug use and depression. The role of Avery, as played by Alistair, therefore became a fan favourite for the way he offered comedic punctuations to every scene in which he appeared. This balance in tonality clearly struck a chord with industry peers, as it helped the propel the show to critical acclaim and win Best Drama Webseries at the highly regarded Webby Awards.

“Syd2030 was an enjoyable production to be a part of and I loved every minute of it,” Alistair says with a smile.

Adding to the specialness of the project was the fact the show’s season, and the many episodes in which Alistair’s work appeared, premiered at an exclusive venue in Bondi in Westfield Bondi, one of Australia’s biggest event centres.

“It was really fun, I took Giselle Van Der Weil, from Channel Seven’s “Manhunt,” as my date…once seeing my character’s comedic relief in the show on the big screen, it all made sense.  My role helped keep things light and relatable for an audience when the scene was in a dark or emotionally turbulent place.”

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Alistair with fellow famous Aussie actor, Giselle Van Der Weil, on the red carpet for SYD2030, in which he played the compelling character, Avery.  

When viewing the series, it’s clear that Alistair’s acting allowed an audience a conduit through which they could connect with the character’s storylines, because of the unique humanity he brought to the character of Avery. Producers of SYD2030 attribute the jump in viewers – estimated to be 3 million across Australia alone – to Alistair’s involvement.

Aside from the inextricable function Alistair played in the second season’s plotline about upper-class law students at Australia’s best law school, Alistair’s casting in the show is equally impressive.

“I was actually contacted by producers who had seen my work in the past and asked if I would be interested in the role,” when asked whether he auditioned for the job.

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Alistair in action playing ‘Avery’ for the award-winning series, SYD2030.

It’s clear that, such is the excellent reputation Alistair has built for himself, he is frequently in demand.

For example, Alistair shot his key role in internationally-syndicated “Behind Mansion Walls”, which airs on Investigation Discovery in the US, in between various stage shows in Sydney.

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Alistair in character for the hugely popular show “Behind Mansion Walls,” in which he played the twisted character, Marc Shrueder.

Alistair’s eyes light up when recalling that shooting experience.

 

“Behind Mansion Walls” was actually my first experience on set with a fire arm. I played Marc Schrueder, a young man who killed his grandfather with a gun.”

The menacing nature of the character meant that Alistair was the subject of the show’s storyline, and without his committed performance of playing a real-life person, the story simply would not have worked.

“It was a very interesting experience,” Alistair continues, “learning how to use the weapon and how to use it safely was an eye opening experience that helped me sink into the worldview of the character more accurately. “

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Alistair, mid-scene in “Behind Mansion Walls,” had to learn how to use a firearm in preparation for this chilling scene.

The significance of Alistair’s performance in “Behind Mansion Walls” aside, it’s apparent that Alistair is particularly adept at lighting up the screen with his distinct portrayal of joyous characters.

It’s this casting niche that has meant he has also experienced a lengthy record of success in Australian TV commercials, meaning audiences have become used to associating Alistair with household brands.

“Commercials are definitely a fun part of the job,” Alistair smiles, who also appeared as a lead in the TV series “Wicca” with “Innuendo” actress Naomi Lisner that same year he was the face of a campaign for Crown Resorts, Australia’s largest entertainment, resort and and gaming conglomerate.

“Working with famous AFL footballer “Nic Naitanui” was a commercial highlight. It was advertising “Crown Resorts”, we were in a sports bar watching the footy together.”

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Alistair (left), in the hugely popular Crown Resorts campaign featuring famous AFL footballer, Nic Natanui 

Indeed, Alistair was a central part of the campaign, as the story centred around him watching the big game with his friends, when they bump into AFL football star Natanui who then joins Alistair’s character for a drink to watch the game. The premise of the commercial was that is “you’ll never know who you will meet at Crown Resorts.”

When we followed up with Alistair about the TV campaign, Alistair’s representatives were quick to boast: “this commercial had a very large budget, so over 80 people auditioned for this role!”

Aside from this budget, Crown Resorts is one of Australia’s leading companies, generating 4.71 billion dollars in revenue in 2015 alone – the same year Alistair’s campaign originally aired. Alistair’s connection to the glowing success of the company is ultimately undeniable, and has been very lucrative for the dedicated thespian who originally started his career determined ironically to live as a ‘starving artist’ to benefit his craft.

Commercials have also resulted in Alistair building on the prominence of his working relationships, as his leading role as the face of KFC gave him the opportunity to work with American director Ken Lambert.

Sounding like the health-conscious actor he is, Alistair added “However…I was certainly looking forward to salad by the end of the shoot.”

And on that note, Alistair tells he needs to get back to set. He adds with a smile, “they’ve got really healthy catering on this one though!”

Alina Smolyar to star in upcoming horror ‘Skeleton in the Closet’

photo Valery Sobol
Alina Smolyar, photo by Valery Sobol

Growing up in Odessa, Ukraine, Alina Smolyar always believed she would be a painter. She had been drawing since the age of three and gained recognition for her work around the world. However, at twelve-years-old, she quit it. Even at that age, she knew she did not have the inspiration or the drive to become a visual artist; this was her parents dream, not her own. She knew she had another passion to explore, one that excited her beyond anything else, and that was acting.

As a childhood pastime, Smolyar would put together small plays or sketches with other kids in her neighborhood. They invited audiences of their parents and neighbors, and every time Smolyar would perform she felt an energy that was unparalleled with anything else she had ever experienced.

“When it came to that point when I had to choose my future job I totally knew what I wanted to do. The only problem was that I had to convince my parents that I could do it. They didn’t want me to become a professional actress. They are not related with show business at all,” said Smolyar.

Now, Smolyar has indeed shown not only her parents, but also the entire world just what she is capable of as an actress. She starred in her own filmMolehill, taking home several awards for Best Actress for her performance from many prestigious film festivals around the world. She has been in several national commercials and acclaimed television series. She has worked alongside Hollywood’s elite, like Denise Richards, Val Kilmer, and William Baldwin in the upcoming comedy 1stBorn.

Smolyar’s latest film is the action/thriller feature Skeleton in the Closet. The film tells the story of Jason, 20-something slacker and computer savant who, on a dare, hacks the White House computer servers. He covers his digital tracks, but a hacker buddy boasts of Jason’s exploits online. The FBI tracks down the friend – then breaks down Jason’s door. The events that follow are a race against time, a battle of wits, and a fight to the death for two young computer prodigies pitted against a group of armed, determined criminals who will stop at nothing. In the end, the difference between life and death rests solely upon superior intelligence – and willingness to trust, but as things spiral further and further out of control, the question for us is: will they make it?

Valery Sobol
Alina Smolyar, photo by Valery Sobol

“It’s so fresh right now audiences will love it. It’s going to be a Ukrainian-American project, a thriller with some action elements. I won’t give you details about the story but it’s very hot and new for this particular time. It’s a thriller, you will see a lot of action and of course everything is based on love. You’ll see some drama, elements of comedy. David Ransil is a script writer, you will enjoy it for sure. He definitely knows what he does,” said Smolyar.

In the film, Smolyar plays a pivotal role. At first, her character appears to be very nice and helpful, but she is also very deceiving. She aims to benefit herself in every move she makes. She also is pivotal to the climax of the story, helping audiences better understand every characters’ motives.

Smolyar is very excited to be working on such a unique film. Not only does she like the story, but she loves the team she will be working alongside. Shooting will begin in September, with an expected release date of next year.

“It’s very important to have a great team. I like the script, the idea, my character and the place where we are going to shoot it. It’s a huge mansion with an amazing lake. I am really looking forward to it,” she said.

Smolyar has quite the year ahead with Skeleton in the Closet and1stBorn. With so much going on, she still remembers being a young girl in Ukraine with a dream that her family didn’t support, and now, for others that may be facing the same challenge, she offers the following advice.

“Think wisely before choosing this career. You always have to be prepared to hear no and just move on. The best phrase for that if you can see yourself doing something else besides acting, do it, don’t start an acting career. But if you decide to take this road you have to understand that it takes so much commitment, inside power, taste and knowing what you’re selling. You are a product, know your brand,” she advised.

To stay up-to-date with Skeleton in the Closet, check out the film’s website here.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee