Pentatonix’s music video for “Can’t Sleep Love” is a bona fide hit with more than 13 million YouTube views to date. Directed by the great Alon Isocianu, the “Can’t Sleep Love” video is a sensory stimulating masterpiece featuring the amazing talents of the five member a capella pop group, Pentatonix (RCA Records).
The video’s stylized color palette coupled with an innovative set design entices viewers to make visit after visit. No other treatment of the two-time Grammy Award winner’s piece could have been better imagined.
And imagination is Isocianu’s forte. An already internationally established music video director, Isocianu flexes with one his best career deliveries in “Can’t Sleep Love.” Revered, celebrated, and achieved, Isocianu’s effort creates definite anticipation for what lies ahead in his illustrious career.
Familiar personal themes establish a hypnotic, but relatable atmosphere to audiences. We’ve had those feelings. We’ve been down that road. We’ve been there those restless nights that bring on an unwanted dawn. “Can’t Sleep Love” hits the target without exception.
“The overall concept loosely revolves around the idea of staying up at night, not being able to sleep because all you can think of is someone you’ve fallen in love with,” says Isocianu. A careful examination of the brilliantly written lyrics reflect that – and more.
“Primarily the different colors and pattern designs are meant to distinguish the spaces from one another,” Isocianu said. “Each band member in Pentatonix brings a unique voice to the group, so I wanted to highlight that by giving each “vocal instrument” and each band member their own space. So while the designs don’t relate to the song’s lyrics or tone in any specific way, they do relate to the vocal arrangement.”
Chemistry between song lyrics and set design firms the tone for a unique blend. From the band’s idea of sitting on a couch in a multi-patterned room came the rich vision that eventually manifests itself throughout the video.
“I then took that idea and expanded on it, by creating multiple rooms, each with their own “hidden” dancers,” Isocianu said. Different dance styles are purposed to highlight the different vocal skills of each band member of Pentatonix.
An undeniable flair is reached through the vibrant colors and repetitive patterns in an acceptably excessive, theatric splash – a vibrancy rarely seen is achieved through the skillful director.
The individual Pentatonix vocals deftly harmonize to a finale with all the group’s members in the same room. The culminating effect is an impressive display of vocal talent and extraordinary directing skills.
From his directing of videos for Kelly Clarkson, to Shawn Hook, to Finger Eleven, to Meaghan Smith, and countless others, music and film enthusiasts both see Isocianu’s prolific prominence.
And thus it is with Pentatonix, who this month captured their second Grammy Award for the song “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
“Pentatonix were great to work with,” Isocianu said. “They’re very humble and fun, and very collaborative. As performers they each have their own style which is really fun to watch. They each bring a distinct sort of vibe individually, yet when they’re performing together they seem to groove in a cohesive way.”
The list of Isocianu awards and nominations is extensive. And, it will no doubt expand.
The year 2015 saw him win the East Coast Music Awards “Video Of The Year” (Meaghan Smith’s “Have a Heart”), and a Berlin Music Video nomination for “Best Visual Effect” (The Angry Kids’ “Battle”).
In 2012, Isocianu received a Much Music MMVA “Pop Video Of The Year nomination for Victoria Duffield’s “Shut Up and Dance.” In 2011, his music video for Candy Coated Killahz’ “Neon Black” was nominated for the Much Music MMVA “Post Production of the Year.”
Through it all, Isocianu is a director skilled in bringing feeling to his work through the extensive use of explosive colors, patterns and a degree of welcomed quirkiness. It’s established him and set him apart from others as a uniquely skilled craftsman in his trade.
With an already established reputation synonymous with success, director Diego Arredondo embarks on his next project for the big screen, the feature film “Sonambulo.”
Set in Mexico City in 1941, “Sonambulo” follows Dr. Minvielle, a Parisian medical expert who travels to Mexico in an attempt to cure a growing number of inhabitants from a rural mining town suffering from chronic insomnia. However, Minvielle’s use of electroshock therapy and strange machinery unleash a mysterious chain of events within the town that threaten everyone’s lives including his own.
The filmmakers are hoping to land Cesar Award winner Vincent Cassel (“Black Swan,” “Child 44,” “Ocean’s Thirteen”) as Dr. Minvielle, multi-award winning actor Daniel Gimenez- Cacho (“Get the Gringo”) as Dr. Krauss, and Ana de la Reguera (“Cowboys and Aliens”).
“Sonambulo” was co-written by WGA writer Brian Horiuchi (“Brass Monkey,” “America So Beautiful,” “Parts Per Billion,” “Circle of Eight”), and is slated to begin filming in San Sebastian Del Oest, Jalisco, Mexico later this year.
Horiuchi says, “In working on ‘Sonambulo’ I was constantly delighted by Diego’s ability to find the truth of the story, to search the depths of the characters and allow the plot to develop naturally… Due to Diego’s contributions ‘Sonambulo’ has just been selected to participate in Strategic Partners, one of the world’s preeminent co-production/co-financing markets.”
LA-based post-production company Punch Media has already signed on to handle the film’s equity and post-production processing.
“In working on ‘Sonambulo’ I was constantly delighted by Diego’s ability to find the truth of the story, to search the depths of the characters and allow the plot to develop naturally… Due to Diego’s contributions ‘Sonambulo’ has just been selected to participate in Strategic Partners, one of the world’s preeminent co-production/co-financing markets.”
Diego Arredondo is one of Mexico’s most talented directors in the industry today. International audiences and festival judges began recognizing Arredondo’s prowess as a director even during the early stages of his career, something that is proven by the success of his films “Heel” (2004) and “Tequila Chamuco” (2005).
Created for the Straight 8 Film Festival in London, both films were awarded among the best films of the competition leading them to screen at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
Additionally, “Tequila Chamuco” screened at London’s Soho Shorts Festival and won the Best Short Award at the Silent Light, Cork Super 8 Fringe Festival in Ireland; and “Heel” took home the Straight 8 Film Festival’s Best Short Award. The films also aired during the BBC’s “4 Minute Wonders” special about the Straight 8 Film Festival.
Aside from the brilliantly crafted stories they portray, the laborious planning process and unique requirements that these films had to adhere to in order to qualify for the festival reveal Arredondo’s astonishing versatility and unparalleled vision as a filmmaker.
Established in 1999, the Straight 8 Film Festival requires all films to be shot and edited in-camera on a single Super 8mm film cartridge that the festival registers and sends to applicants once they have applied. This means that there are no second chances and no room for post-production editing; in fact, Arredondo didn’t even get to see his films until they premiered at Cannes. An assuredly nerve racking experience, which was only made less so because he knew his films had been awarded as the best out of hundreds of submissions.
Some of Arredondo’s other films to date include “Luchitas,” “Pancho Pozole,” “For the Wings of Angels,” “Hector y Tatis” and “Goyo.” He’s also had great success as a commercial director for globally recognized brands including Phillip Morris, Diageo, Tequila el Jimador, Tequila Corralejo, Mini Cooper, Dos Equis Entertainment, J&B, Corona and Heineken.
Another early accomplishment that testifies to Arredondo’s talent came in 2007 when he was chosen to participate in Berlinale Talents, a summit of master classes and lectures with the world’s most renowned filmmakers. The summit, which occurs annually during the Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin, invites five of the top young filmmakers from every country to attend.
While he was in Berlin, Arredondo also participated in the global documentary film project “Why Democracy”” where ten hour-long documentaries and 17 short films were broadcast in the world’s largest ever factual media event.
Arredondo’s film “Maria y Osmey,” which he wrote, directed and produced, was one of those films and as such, the film was broadcast in over 180 countries by over 48 broadcasters including the BBC, SVT Sweden, PBS USA, AL Arabiya Dubai and others.
To shed a little more light on the caliber of films included in “Why Democracy”” the film “Taxi to the Dark Side,” which showed alongside Arredondo’s film, went on to win an Academy Award for Best Documentary in the US in 2008.
Diego Arredondo has a creative vision unlike any other, but what is even more astonishing is the fact that his genius extends beyond film. Whilst living in London several years ago Arredondo solidified his reputation as a sought after music video director.
His debut in the format, the 2008 music video for the band Trickbaby’s hit single “Slipping Through Your Fingers,” which featured members of the Great Britain synchronized swimming team and was shot primarily underwater using Super16mm film, reached astonishing international acclaim and went on to be featured on MTV across London and Asia. Mexico-based production company Contenido Neto currently represents Arredondo as a music video director, and he is represented for commercials by Camaleon Films.
In addition to having created a dazzling repertoire of work over the past decade, Arredondo has attended some of the most competitive film schools in the world including the New York Film Academy, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design London where he received his B.A. in Film and Video, and the London Film School where he received his Master’s Degree in Filmmaking.
Corona beer and Sony are also sponsoring one of Arredondo’s other upcoming films “Cloverlawn 3D,” a horror film based around events that take place at an eerie old house in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Whether it be in television, commercials, plays, or films, actress Taylor Beadle-Williams has proven herself to be quite the versatile talent through the plethora of roles she’s taken on in a variety of intriguing projects. Her ability to push herself to the limits in the craft of acting has distinguished her as one of the most talented actors working today.
In her recent film Clarity, Williams plays a blind photographer by the name of Celine. The character does not have any dialogue whatsoever, so Williams had to rely heavily on facial expressions in order to communicate without actually speaking a word, which is why she found this role to be a challenge, but an exciting one at that. In fact, in October of last year, the film was screened at the 59th BFI London Film Festival and grabbed the attention of the festival’s ambassador, Dame Helen Mirren, who expressed her delight with Williams’ performance being “amazingly believable and sensitive.”
Williams’ wonderful range extends to projects such as PLANS, a film series shot in 2014 and slated to be released at a number of film festivals, and online, later this year. Williams’ portrays Belle, a sociopath and lost soul who does just about anything she can to get by in life, even if it takes some manipulation to get what she desires. It’s currently Williams’ favorite role to date. The series also co-stars up-and-coming actors Rahel Romahn (The Principal, Alex & Eve) and recent AACTA nominee Alice Keohavang.
In addition to her film roles, Williams’ earlier work includes nearly a dozen commercials over the past couple years for brands such as Mazda, Hungry Jacks, Woolworths, Priceline, AboutLife and HCF among many others. However, her passion for film and her admiration for director Paul Kampf (From Grace) landed her a role in his 2014 independent film Amnesia: Who Are You?
Williams’ jumped at the opportunity to be in such a fascinating film about a man suffering from amnesia and his attempt to piece together his fractured existence. The film went on to win an award for Best Dramatic Film at the 19th Annual IFS Festival in Los Angeles.
The dazzling actress recently wrapped up Stanley Joseph’s Love You Krishna, where she plays the role of Radhika, an angel who helps guide the lead character, Kris, through some family struggles. Having such a poignant premise and being such a pivotal role, Williams couldn’t wait to take on this character. The film is currently in post production and is slated to be released later this year.
TBW: Although I was born in Sydney, Australia I grew up in Marrickville, which is near the city centre. I am actually a Kiwi because both of my parents are New Zealanders.
When and how did you get into acting?
TBW: I have always been a drama queen. I grew up in an entertainment household: my father is a well-known, established New Zealand singer, Mark Williams (currently the lead singer of the AUS/NZ band, Dragon), and my mother was a dancer, so the performing arts have always been in my veins.
During high school, which was a performing arts school, I started focusing on ballet and dance but I fell in love with acting, particularly after watching Joss Weadon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. It was the show’s script writing, storylines, themes, and of course, the female actors playing strong, independent, riveting characters that really struck me. I just had to be a part of that world. Buffy really enlightened me on what I could do with my life: to be an actor, to develop the potential to be anything I want – to whisk myself away from normality and put myself in another person’s shoes and experience different worlds. Although I still dance, acting took my heart and I have never looked back.
Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?
TBW: In Clarity, I play the leading role, Celine. Clarity was presented at the 59th BFI London Film Festival in October 2015 as part of Giorgio Armani’s “Films of City Frames” section. The chosen directors were briefed to create films inspired by real lives and told through the eyes and emotions of characters immersed in the reality of everyday life.
Clarity is about having a different outlook and a fresh perspective of something that has always been there right before your eyes. My character, Celine, is a blind French photographer and is critical to this film as we see Celine’s perspective on the small but important details in the city. As Celine is filmed, Clarity progresses sonically using the other main character’s, Emma, voice over. Playing a blind woman was intriguing, plus my character didn’t have any dialogue, so to be able to portray a story through actions and say so much, without actually speaking, gave me the chance to really use a wider range of expression. It was a fantastic challenge. At the screening of the film in London, my director, Chris Joys, was approached by the London Film Festival ambassador, Dame Helen Mirren, who described my performance to Mr. Joys as “amazingly believable and sensitive.”
In Love You Krishna, I played Radhika. In 2013, while searching for the best actress to play one of the important “mistress” roles in his film production, Love You Krishna, writer/director of World Pictures Australia Stanley Joseph came across my body of work and immediately picked up the phone to contact me and see if I was interested in playing this significant role. I jumped at the chance, and it was then that our professional relationship, and friendship, began. Radhika is one of many angels’ who guides the leading character, Kris, through his journey of taking care of a family dealing with many struggles. Kris is a representative of Krishna, a worshipped Hindu deity, and I played one of his “mistresses/angels.” Love You Krishna is due for release later this year.
In early January, I attended the premiere of PLANS, which is a series that was shot in 2014 and will be released at various festivals and online later this year. I play Belle, one of seven lead roles. PLANS was written and directed by Do It Now Production founders, Peter-William Jamieson and Diana Popovska and is about seven young twenty something’s trying to find their own place in the world while living together. It confronts the everyday challenges and struggles facing this group: sexuality, relationships, guilt, grief, love and hate.
Belle is one of my favorite roles. A sociopath, Belle manipulates people, mostly men, to get her way. She is a lost woman, unsure of exactly what she wants in life so she uses other people as a means of controlling. Intelligent and sexy, Belle knows the power she has over people and knows how to work a room. Although, in some sense, she is aware of her control and manipulation, even Belle can surprise herself with her own power. She really disturbs a lot of the relationships in the series and causes some chaos. The series also stars recent AACTA nominee and Australian upcoming actor, Rahel Romahn (The Principal,Alex& Eve) who plays Zia, and AACTA nominee Alice Keohavong, who plays Belle’s arch-nemesis, Claire.
I also played Jeannine, in the US independent feature film, Amnesia: Who Are You?, directed by US filmmaker, Paul Kampf, which won the award for Best Dramatic Film at the 19th Annual IFS Festival in Los Angeles. Getting asked by producer, director, and writer Paul Kampf (who is now in partnership with Ted Field’s production company, Radar Pictures) was a real honor.
How about television projects?
TBW: The past 2 years have been a success: playing the lead in 10 Australian commercials for brands such as James Squire, Woolworths, Mazda 3, Telstra, Hungry Jacks, Priceline, Gravox, HCF, News.com.au, etc. This includes a cinema advertising commercial for Aboutlife. Shot as a music video, my role in the commercial was inspired by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. My character sings about the opening of a new AboutLife store in Surry Hills (Sydney suburb) spoofing “The Hills are Alive” song. In September 2014, I also played a role in the Sims 4.
I also played the guest role, Ginette, in the Channel 9 TV series Tricky Business, which co-starred Lincoln Lewis and Anthony Starr.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
TBW: Diversity is a gift not many actors, or people for that matter, get to experience. There is nothing more exciting than being in someone else’s shoes for even a day or so, to trample in their footsteps and lose yourself to your own imagination. It’s exciting, it’s dynamic, and it’s creative. The best part is trying to find “yourself” in those characters, to still have the essence of you. That helps to bring truth to your roles, so they are well-rounded and 3-dimensional.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
TBW: I love a challenge. I am a go-getter when it comes to finding a character that I can really delve into. I do not want to be put into a hole – variety is my passion. I have to see how much I can push my acting chops to the edge while maintaining a grounded life. I must never let life imitate art with some of my roles; it’s too dangerous especially when my last three stage roles were a drug addict, a prostitute, and a burlesque fan dancer!
Also, if the writing isn’t great, then I usually won’t bother going ahead with a project. Although, I can be a professional and do my best to give every role a decent go, but ultimately, if you are let down by the script then the whole project will go down, and the end result can really be disheartening.
You’ve also performed in several theatre productions over the years, can you tell us what you personally feel are some of the difference between performing in the theatre and acting on screen? Which one do you prefer and why?
TBW: I have been involved in a lot of theatre, my most favorite productions being two seasons of the Black Box Production of Trainspotting, one in Sydney, the other in Port Kembla, in which I played the only female in a cast of four. The production did not receive one negative review. In September 2014, I also performed in a new independent theatre production for Sydney Fringe Festival 2014, called Ambrosia, with Grumpy Mandrakes Theatre.
I love the flamboyancy of theatre. A mistake a lot of actors fall into is getting bored by theatre because of the repetition, but I find that is the beauty of theatre – to explore more and more, and develop more. Just like people, a character is never “finished,” there is always more to find, always more to give, and that is a gift shared with yourself as an actor, and with other actors performing with you. Keep it exciting!
The process of screen is a lot like theatre, with rehearsals and explorations of character being important in the growth of every character. The real difference between the two is how big your performance is. The screen accentuates EVERYTHING, so actions and speeches are better delivered minimally when in front of the camera. Less is more on screen, and it is this challenge that makes me prefer theatre. It’s easy to go over-the-top in theatre and screen, but harder to control it in screen.
What has been your favorite project so far and why?
TBW: Both Trainspotting and PLANS have been my most favorite projects as I was really pushed to the edge with both – completely out of my comfort zones. To explore characters and world’s so different to my own really got my heart racing.
What as been your most challenging role?
TBW: I played multiple characters in Trainspotting. Alison was my main character. Alison comes across as headstrong, experimental and aggressive, but she is still a little girl lost in a big boy’s world. She is a junkie; she has lost her grip because of heroin, and is always on a quest for a distraction from her hum-drum life. Alison’s journey starts with experiencing pain and loss, then learning to forgive herself, and move on, finding her feet, making amends with herself, and getting revenge in every aspect of her life.
I also played pregnant June (a lonely, insecure woman, hopeless in her efforts to control her macho and abusive boyfriend, Franco); Lizzie (a sexy and fiery lassie with a short fuse); Lassie (another physical abuse victim); as well as other characters.
I enjoyed playing the multiple roles, although it was difficult at first to tweak each character’s own little niche and differences and to switch rapidly from one character to another during the show.
Besides the Scottish accent being the main challenge, being the only woman actor in the play means all the heavy subject matter falls directly on my head. I play a number of female characters, all of whom are victims. They all suffer under this machismo society, and each have to deal with it in their own way. Also, with regards to the graphic content of the play, particularly dealt with by my central character, Alison, it is sometimes difficult to tap into such emotions when her experiences have been so different from my own, but what I have realized is that this is it – this is their life – it is all they know.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
TBW: Comedy comes naturally, as I’m a quirky person, but drama is something I’ve worked hard at and therefore am getting better and better with each role I play. Crying on cue is always a challenge though! I would LOVE to be in a psychological thriller though. Or be slashed to death in a horror film. Oh, the dreams of actors!
What separates you from other actors? What are your strongest qualities?
TBW: My strongest qualities are:
– My patience and tireless efforts when it comes to character development. When I commit to something, I do it 1000%.
– My look – having an exotic “no-one can tell where you come from” appearance benefits me in picking up various roles. I love pushing for characters of all ethnicities and accents.
– I have a natural calmness, serenity and warmth to my acting too, however that is sometimes difficult to shake off when I am trying to play someone rough – take Belle in PLANS, or Alison in Trainspotting, for example.
– You have got to know how to laugh at yourself. I can never take myself too seriously, and, luckily for me, I can break out of character after the day is over, go home, and watch some trashy TV or read a book. I get so involved with each character that I HAVE to have some time to switch off. Not all actors can do that, and it really ticks me off. You cannot be too serious in this business or you will really be disappointed.
What projects do you have coming up?
TBW:Love You Krishna will be released later this year, and the series PLANS is being submitted to festivals this year, as well.
What are your plans for the future?
TBW: Travel, volunteer in Africa at a conservation reserve, and move to the States to continue my career as an actress. Those are my immediate plans. Until I achieve the latter, I will keep building my status here in Australia.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
TBW: Success without the invasion of privacy, but that can be very tricky. Also, I want to be able to maintain that success, which can also be very tricky. This industry is very fickle and as long as you can laugh about it and you have a fantastic support system around you, then you’ll be just fine.
And to continue to be diverse in my characters – I applaud actors like Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet and Rose Byrne, who are able to completely transform with every character they play, yet still keep that essence of themselves within their role.
And I would love to play the lead in a psychological thriller and in a biopic.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
TBW: Because I am a child at heart, I have to keep playing and having fun. A 9 to 5 p.m. desk job just won’t cut it for me. I was a wild child when I was young, and I still (to some degree) am.
Since Tom Stevens’ introduction into acting for film and television six years ago, his career has featured many milestones and highlights, and has reached a boiling point level of immense success. That’s not much of a surprise to anyone who has ever seen him act. He commands the screen in every scene he’s in, which has resoundingly resulted in his placement among the best actors in the business.
Pitting himself analogous to some of the greatest talents in cinematic history, Stevens has the ability to carry his performance in his eyes. Whether they offer sympathy, invoke charm, or bring out a raw intensity, they always draw in the audience. It’s this impressive characteristic— along with his natural instincts— that have allowed him to play so many diverse roles throughout film and television. Some well-known titles he’s acted in include the TV series “Fringe,” “Wayward Pines” and “Cedar Cove.”
But perhaps Stevens’ most fun, most heart-pumping role to date is almost certainly “12 Rounds 2,” where he starred opposite the WWE’s Randy Orton. A powerhouse of adrenaline, the film was directed by Roel Reiné, produced by WWE and Michael J. Luisi, and co-starred Brian Markinson. Released on DVD and Blu-ray, “12 Rounds” was a hit for action fans who crave action-packed sensibilities the genre brings, and for Orton fans who yearned for a new dynamic platform to see their hero perform.
The film follows Nick Malloy (Orton), a paramedic taking care of a patient with a cellphone stitched inside his chest. Before the paramedic can offer much help, he receives a call that his wife has been kidnapped. The only way he can get her back is to play a 12-round game run by an unknown, evil mastermind. Stevens’ character joins the chase early on in the rounds. He plays Tommy, a wealthy, drug abusing son to a big-time politician.
Playing Tommy wasn’t going to be easy to pull off. He had to be played by someone that could work well within the script, but also improvising when the time called for it. Most importantly, he had to be someone that was willing to perform the dangerous stunts director Roel Reiné envisioned.
Stevens didn’t shy away from any of these challenges. He recalled telling Reiné, “I’ll jump off the roof on fire if you want me to. I like the idea of falling off of something and doing my own stunt work.” That’s a Tom Cruise level of commitment; the making of true star, indeed.
Two of Tommy’s most dangerous stunts took place during a pivotal scene during round 10. The character’s father is being buried alive beneath tons of sugar by non-stop conveyor belts above him. Stevens was required to act below a hanging 3,000-pound bulldozer’s bucket, and later within circles of fire. On the experience, he said, “You’re not unprotected. I had my shirt off and you feel the flames.”
All these action-based stunts make perfect sense for a film so heavily connected to wrestling. Orton was new to film acting at the time of production, and this meant Stevens was able to give out some pointers to his co-star. Sometimes it was just in calming his nerves, or helping his acting achieve a more polished, authentic look. By the end of the shoot, Stevens found himself becoming friends with one of his once heroes.
Speaking on being a lead in a feature film, Stevens said, “It’s something about being a leading man in the film. People look up to you to perform. You show any points of spite, anger or sadness, people start going, ‘Is Tommy okay?’ Everybody’s connected on set. You’re in this together. It’s powerful to be that guy stronger than you are sometimes. It’s a persona, a mental challenge. That’s what being a leading man is all about. It’s about everybody else on set.”
With his role in “12 Rounds 2” under his belt, and many other roles such as those in “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,” “Wayward Pines” and “Cedar Cove,” Stevens has established himself as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after, go-to acting talents.
“I expect Tom to be doing high end work in film and TV for years and years to come,” said Stevens’ manager, Robert Stein, who discovered and helped launch the careers of other superstar talents such as Heath Ledger, Mark Ruffalo and Jason Clarke.
Coming next for Stevens is his role in “The Game of Love,” where he co-stars with Heather Locklear. The to-be-released comedy drama movie is headed to TV this spring.
When asked, most filmmakers will agree that maintaining creative control of a production is one of the most highly prized opportunities in any project. However, directors must often sacrifice that sovereignty when seeking financial backing. Investors frequently assume the role of producers, and leave the visionary with little power over their own original creation. Carlisle Antonio has successfully evaded that pitfall by producing every project he’s directed in his illustrious career.
Carlisle is an innovative artist as well as an adept businessman, and as the CEO of the Red Man Films production company he has proven his aptitude for both time and time again. The son of a “Navy man,” Carlisle was raised in Europe but spent much of his life in far-flung locales around the globe. That worldly experience, combined with his strong ties to his Native American heritage, sparked Antonio’s imagination and passion for storytelling and helped inspire some of his most acclaimed productions.
“I have a diverse background; my roots reside within an indigenous form of storytelling, and I feel this lends itself to a different style of creativity,” Carlisle said of his diverse influences, which include “European cinema to indigenous American, Latin and Brazilian art forms.”
He is particularly renowned for his work producing and directing a wide array of documentaries, which range from awe-inspiring and majestic to gripping and emotional in subject. Carlisle wrote, directed and produced the 2008 feature documentary “Coloring the Media” in partnership with the BBC. The documentary details the film industry’s long, shameful history of using dehumanizing stereotypes when portraying Native Americans.
“Coloring the Media” won a Millennium Award and was a hit success with viewers during its worldwide festival tour. It featured Sundance Film Festival founder, actor and Academy Award-winning director Robert Redford (“Ordinary People,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), as well as the late John Trudell, a legendary artist, poet and prominent Native American activist. The film was bold and concise in its message, and as with many of Antonio’s productions, had a lasting impact on audiences and critics.
Carlisle’s work often centers on Native American culture and heritage, as well as on the lands that indigenous peoples called home for millennia. While working with the Alaskan National Park Service, he produced, filmed and directed three films aimed at promoting tourism by showcasing the raw beauty of the vast expanse of forest, mountain and glacier-covered Alaskan landscape. The films, “Walking the Wild,” “Bear Country” and “Under the Borealis,” offer viewers an informative peek into the gorgeous Alaskan parks. With stunning cinematography, the films teach potential visitors about native plants and wildlife, as well as ways to ensure safe visits to the remote and isolated wilderness.
As a filmmaker, Carlisle knows the value of his medium as a way to inform audiences and advocate for change. He is currently using this platform to give a voice to Native American victims of suicide with his upcoming film “Walking the Line.” Despite having the highest suicide rate of any group in the Western Hemisphere, Native American tribes are often unwilling to discuss the epidemic. Carlisle is determined to expose this tragic cycle, and plans to begin shooting “Walking the Line” later this year.
“I feel that by giving a voice to the dead, they may just be able to help the living, and perhaps help the grieving families and loved ones left behind,” Carlisle said, describing his passion for the project. “It could also help another young person living on the edge, or someone contemplating suicide as the only alternative. Film in any medium has the power to change and affect people’s lives.”
Filmmakers are perhaps the most powerful agents of social reform. By putting a spotlight on issues that are too often underreported, they can enlighten audiences and inspire action. As the CEO of his own production company, Carlisle has the rare and enviable creative advantage of being the writer, director and producer of his own projects. That level of control is critical when the subject matter deals with issues as monumentally important as those in Carlisle’s work. Anyone who has seen one of his productions can attest to the fact that Carlisle’s gift for filmmaking can open eyes, move hearts and change the world; and as he embarks on several upcoming projects, it’s a guarantee that he will he continue to do just that.
In today’s world, the term “artist” is used rather loosely. Virtually anyone who has ever picked up a pen, brush or guitar is free to describe him or herself as an artist. Some however, possess an indisputable acumen for more than just aesthetics and are able to use the craft for its original intent. A visual storyteller, Katie Bright is one of these true artists. Her strikingly visceral works are seeped in both beauty and symbolism – the marks of true artistic masterpieces – and continue to grow in popularity among collectors and galleries alike.
Bright specializes in the fantastical, and her art is right at home on the other side of the rabbit hole. Much of her work features familiar characters from fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and she has a rare gift for reimagining classic childhood fables from a more mature and often darker perspective.
“Fairy tales were the first stories to capture my imagination as a child,” Bright recalled. “They are a combination of morals with a touch of mystical and supernatural elements that propel the creativity.”
Bright, or Miss Brightside as she is known professionally, kicked off her career with a bang. The first time her work appeared in a gallery was at aMBUSH in Sydney, Australia, and was aptly publicized as an extravaganza, rather than as an exhibit or installation. The pieces on display exemplified the unique fairy-tale-gone-bad style that she has continued to cultivate, and which has become her trademark in the years since. Snow White, Tinkerbell and the Queen of Hearts are among characters depicted in Bright’s often hyper-sexualized scenes.
“From an adult perspective, fairy tales have a whole darker element. In particular, from a scholar’s level, the unraveling of the encrypted symbolism is prolific,” she said. “I found I had a division between my childhood ideals and existence in an adult sexualized society. For this reason I began entwining and reworking fairy tales within my artwork.”
It’s a recurring theme, which Bright employs as a deliberately eye-catching metaphor for the dichotomy between childhood innocence and the expectations subconsciously placed on the children who grow up hearing those fables. The images used at aMBUSH were primarily screen printed on mirrors, and in tandem with Bright’s careful selection and placement of lighting, attendees were transported through the looking glass to a world of her invention. Her use of color in prints such as “Some Day My Prince Will Come” and “If I Had a World of My Own, Everything Would be Nonsense” is mesmerizing; an array of prime reds and blues and yellows, starkly contrasted with ominous black and white backdrops, with the shimmering surfaces of the mirrors serving to further capture viewers’ attentions and imaginations.
“It was more than an art show; it was a whole visual feast and a circus production. I made and curated 102 artworks, we had two pole dancers, a contortionist, dwarves dressed as cupids, two bands, a DJ, a film crew and press,” said Bright, describing just how extravagant the whole affair was. “The major alcohol sponsor was an absinthe brand, which supplied a mixologist who made ‘Love Potion’ cocktails, two women dressed as green fairies and two topless male waiters working the bar.”
The massive event, launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, was Bright’s first solo show and a watershed moment for her. Its opening night saw more than 1,000 people in attendance, and both inspired her and established her in the incredibly competitive field. Since the success of that first exhibit, Bright has organized several other huge art-and-culture events, including one in Swindon, England in early 2015. Working with Harris + Hoole Coffee, she took it upon herself to propose, plan, organize and ultimately produce a huge event for the company.
“The event I coordinated turned into a 3.5-mile radius tour of three artisan coffee stores that have opened in the last year. My concept was Love Coffee for Valentines Day,” Bright said. “I liaised with three venues, arranged sponsorship, wrote copy, designed promotional material, illustrated the map, logo and branding, filmed and edited a promo video and created a website. In addition to the tour I orchestrated Creatively Made In Swindon. An art and design exhibition displayed over the three venues during the Love Coffee Tour, which continued into March. For the exhibition I collaborated with seven local artists to curate and install the show.”
Currently, the extraordinary Miss Brightside is wrapping up work on a series of interior visual designs for the luxury hotel Surftides Lincoln City in Oregon. Asked to create a design based on a unique fairy tale, Bright chose to write her own, “Atargatis.” A brilliant show of her unlimited, cross-media creative talent, “Atargatis” tells the story of a mythical beauty, a girl who can transform into anything. But in so doing, the girl retains conflicting features of both bird and mermaid and realizes she has lost herself and become something unrecognizable and unsustainable.
“When creating the wallpaper design I wanted it to have a moral. This quote from Thich Nhat Hahn encapsulates the meaning behind the fairy tale of Atargatis — ‘Changing is not just changing the things on the outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing,’” Bright said of her inspiration. “After I created the fairy tale based on the Thich Nhat Hahn quote, the illustration element was straightforward; I just illustrated the story.”
The results are as beautiful as they are imaginative. The gorgeous series of scenes tell the tragic tale of Atargatis, and in such a way that they would be just as suited for a children’s book as they are in this luxury beachfront locale.
Bright’s ability to accentuate and illustrate the darker undertones of familiar stories has made her an international sensation in the art world. Followers of her work will be excited to hear that she is currently planning for her next solo exhibition, tentatively scheduled for early 2016. A visionary master of storytelling through imagination, illustration, creation and design, Bright certainly lives up to her name and will never cease aweing viewers with her work.
Since breaking onto the scene in 2008 with a win as Best Writer at the Vancouver 48 Hour Film Festival, Thomas Pound has written, created, and produced some of the most groundbreaking TV series and films to date.
Tenacity and persistence are vital to make it as a working writer and/or producer in the entertainment industry, and Pound has certainly exhibited both qualities in droves with the projects he’s brought to the screen. In the early stages of his career, immersing himself in the writing process and building experience were his primary goals, something he achieved in 2008 with Universal’s third installment of the cult classic Slap Shot, Slap Shot 3: The Junior League.
In 2010, Pound went on to write, direct, and produce the film The Wilderness Within, which earned him a Silver Ace Award the following year at the Las Vegas Film Festival.
On a hot streak, there was no stopping Pound as he continued to write feature films including Anomalies, The Cold, and Nextworld until he landed his first television series Motive. Working with an established writer and executive producer like Dennis Heaton (Fido, Call Me Fitz) helped give Pound the confidence to evolve his craft and provided audience members with a deeper look into the show’s main characters, and by dong so Pound, and the Motive team, received a Canadian Screen Award’s nomination for Best Dramatic Series in 2014.
Following ABC’s Motive, Pound took on the hefty task of re-writing and executive producing the horror film Torment, with only six weeks before shooting. He ended up doing major rewrites on the script and eventually came up with a new story and screenplay in just three days, which is a major feat, and one that Pound claims he will never attempt again but definitely well worth it since the film premiered at Los Angeles Screamfest.
The next couple of years proved to be very busy yet successful ones for the Calgary, Alberta native as Pound went on to write, create, and produce his most challenging TV series to date, Rookie Blue. On Rookie Blue, Pound acted as executive story editor in addition to his usual duties as a writer.
He is currently in the process of developing two new one hour drama series for Canadian TV: The Brick and The Faculty. Both shows are currently in production and are slated for a 2016 release date.
Where are you from and what was it like growing up there?
TP: I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was like growing up in a giant small town. The people there are salt of the earth and humble. The town is victim to subzero winters and urban sprawl, which has resulted in the people bonding much tighter and becoming much warmer than many other cities I’ve spent time in. At the time, I likely would have said the town was too quiet and too wholesome. Only since leaving have I realized the rest of the world could use a little more wholesome.
How have your early experiences influenced some of the work you create today?
TP: Everything I create today goes back to my roots. Growing up in the prairies instilled a strong sense of community, family, and wholesome living. The Brick started as a love letter to the prairies. Witnessing a small town I would spend summers in, Brooks Alberta, become hit with big box-stores and chain corporations changed the simple small town memories I had from childhood. This town was no longer what I remembered. Knowing the people from that small town and their polarizing opinions on what this means for their way of life, it was an easy creative leap to build a fictional world using this prairie touchstone. Peppering in the organized crime elements was creative freedom and no reflection of Brooks Alberta to my knowledge. The Brick became my attempt to reclaim the small Alberta town I remember fondly spending summers at the lake in.
When and how did you get into the industry as a screenwriter?
TP: I moved to Vancouver, BC immediately after high school to attend Vancouver Film School and study Film Production. I started writing feature screenplays on my own time, trying to better understand story and how to manipulate it. It was the series Lost which sparked my interest in television. I also worked in the industry as an assistant in every capacity for four years following film school.
Relocating to Toronto, Ontario was the first step towards making a concentrated focus to write full time. The few working writers I did know lived there and the executives who could hire me had offices there, so I had to move. There’s something to be said about persistence, because that’s all I shelled out for two years. Writing spec script after spec script, I knocked on doors of producers, agents, broadcasters, to learn who was being read and what projects were coming up. Eventually, pilots I wrote found homes: Anomalies was first sold to Gearshift films, and a short while later The Faculty found its home at The Nightingale Company. The relationship with Gearshift Films presented an opportunity to co-writer and executive produce a horror film they had in the works, which turned out to be Torment. Through the effort of simply trying to meet people, I suddenly had a produced feature under my belt. That same year, I was hired on as a writer for the CTV series Motive, and where I was able to co-write my first produced hour of television with Dennis Heaton. After that year with Torment and Motive, I felt comfortable introducing myself to strangers as a writer.
What kind of audience do you generally write for, and why are you passionate about writing stories for this audience?
TP: I try to write stories anyone can enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed commercial feature films and television, and enjoy delivering material which can reach the widest audience possible. That being said, every story I write has to have a human heart, an emotional anchor anyone can relate with or connect to. Whether it’s a sweeping science fiction epic or an ensemble character drama, I strive to find the heart at the core of every story, giving the audience something tangible to latch onto and pull them into the piece. I approach every story I write with the same simple question: “What would I want to feel?” The answer can be excitement, of heartbreak, or inspiration, but it always comes from a place within of what I want to feel. If I can tap into that emotion, I hope it is translated on the page and the audience feels that same sensation. That’s the beauty of television and film, the journey and triggering of emotions to audiences all over the world.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the projects you’ve written for film and television?
TP: I was fortunate to be brought onto the horror film Torment when it was very close to start filming. There was a script, which was to be shot in six weeks, and it needed a lot of work done on the project. I was inspired by what the filmmaker, Jordan Barker, wanted to do with the film, but the existing script didn’t provide. We met in his office on a Wednesday and spent two days locked away reworking the entire story from page one. Once we had a new story and shape for the film we wanted to make, I went away and wrote the first draft of the screenplay in three days. The quick turnaround is not common, nor would I attempt or offer it again. However, with the deadline of filming starting within weeks, we needed a script to work off of. We were rewriting large chunks of the story as the weeks wore down to the start of principal photography, often turning around entire new drafts of the script within a day or two. It was an intense process, which left me feeling like my head was spinning. When filming finally began, I recall standing on set in awe. This was my first ever produced script, and dozens of people were committing incredible effort and time to make it real. I imagined a car blowing up and typed it on my computer in my tiny apartment, and now I was on location watching the flames grow and feeling the wave of heat from the vehicle engulfed in flames. Those lost weekends and evenings were worth it. Torment was my first produced film, which I also executive produced. It confirmed what I already knew: I’m in this for life.
Motive was the first series I ever wrote for. When I moved away from Vancouver to Toronto in pursuit of a writing career, I told friends I’d return one day with a show. The joke amongst us is that I had to move to Toronto to get a job in Vancouver. Low and behold, some years later, it finally happened. Working under Dennis Heaton on Motive was invaluable. He let me hit the ground running, co-writing my first episode of broadcast television with him: “Kiss of Death”. This was another case of being under the pressure of schedule. We spent weekends locked away together working out the beats of our story, a similar experience to Torment. We wanted to do something different with the show and take a deeper look into our killer’s point of view, experiencing his own hallucinations when we learn he’s been poisoned. This seems like an easy task, however, the show had never done something like this and with Dennis’ leadership, we were able to craft a story, which sold the emotion of the moment, bringing it to screen.
On my second year, I was able to write an episode I’m deeply proud of – “The Glass House”. The idea of this episode had been brewing since my first year on Motive. It started with a very simple emotional anchor “A Father trying to get his daughter back”. I didn’t know the story, I didn’t know the character, all I knew was the core emotional drive, and it was what I constantly went back to in crafting the story. I was given tremendous freedom on Motive to tell the story I wanted. I believe this came from always servicing the emotion of the story first.
You’ve also produced some of these projects, is that correct? Can you tell us a little bit about the projects you’ve both written and produced and how tackling both jobs draws upon your different skill sets?
TP: With Torment, I was also the executive producer on the film. In writing, you rely on the ether of imagination, allowing the story and characters take you wherever they need to go. As we were counting down to the start of shooting on Torment, my role as producer on the project involved constant collaboration with the production. If we lost a location, I would have to find a creative solution in the screenplay to make the new one work. I would work closely with every department to develop the ideas of how a particular action sequence would play out, knowing they wouldn’t get the new script for several days, but they still needed to move forward in prep. It was a constant juggling of guiding production concerns as the script changed and vice versa. You have to be malleable and see how things can shift if circumstances change on a film. Things will seldom go how you planned on a film, writing and producing to those changes is an essential skill set.
Do you prefer to produce the projects you write?
TP: When given the opportunity, I prefer to produce the projects I write. I love the entire process of putting a television or feature project together. I have tremendous admiration of every department that it takes to pull off such an incredible feat. By producing the project I write, it gives me a chance to work as closely as possible with every department and collaborate our ideas. Producing something you write gives you, and the entire team, the opportunity to have constant transparency as to why a particular action or moment plays out a specific way. While production issues will arise, as the writer and producer, I can offer creative solutions, which maintain the sanctity of the story, yet allow us to film what needs to be filmed.
You’ve also been called in as a story editor on projects like the TV series Rookie Blue, and Motive—can you tell us about how your role as the story editor on these projects differ from others where you have been the main writer? How much influence do you have over the story in these cases?
TP: The difference between being the main writer and a story editor is that as a story editor, it is your job to fulfill the show runner’s vision of the show. On Motive, I would have countless meetings with Dennis Heaton to fully understand the big picture story he wanted to tell in the series. Once I understood his intentions, I would be able to craft my writing and my episodes to facilitate that particular vision. The same can be said for Rookie Blue, where I can bring my ideas to the table, but they ultimately must facilitate what the show runner wants to do with the characters. It’s a vital role in aiding to bring the voice of the series to the surface as easily as possible. I have a great deal of influence on the stories in these cases; however it’s an incredibly collaborative process. I may bring my seed of an idea to the show runner, and it may inspire him to take the story in a new direction. Together, we will arrive at an entirely new story. It’s still my job to write it, and it was birthed through collaboration, however as long as it serves the show, it is fulfilling its purpose.
From your perspective as screenwriter, what are some of the differences between writing for television and writing a screenplay for a film?
TP: One of the greatest differences between writing for television and writing for film is the pace. Television is a marathon. As soon as the gun fires and you’re off to the races, you’re cranking out story after story with the writing team and shooting a new episode every eight business days. It’s easy to drop the ball, but it’s an incredibly rewarding journey, which can create incredible partnerships with your colleagues. Feature films are much slower to produce and thus the writing can take quite a while as well. In features, you’re ideally writing about the characters most interesting day in his entire life. In television, every day has to be the characters most interesting day. You can concentrate a core theme or message much more succinctly in film; however you can build much broader and complex worlds in television.
Do you have a preference for one or other?
TP: I prefer the collaboration of television, writing with a team and building an entire world on a television landscape. However, I do love the intimacy of writing a personal screenplay and shepherding it through production on your own. I prefer whichever story idea more personally resonates with my soul.
What made you choose to participate in the projects you’ve done over the course of your career?
TP: In many ways, the project chose me. I have had the luxury of knowing talented individuals in film and television, and as soon as the windows opened to work together on their projects I leaped at the opportunity. For Motive, it was an incredible chance to work with Dennis Heaton, and join a show that expertly delves into the psychology of what drives an average person to become a murderer. I love studying psychology and this was a chance to look at the human condition on a deeper level. With Rookie Blue, the opportunity came to join the team of an already established series which I was a fan of. I believe writing should always be a fun experience, even when you’re writing about dark stories. Rookie Blue was an opportunity to play with wonderful relationship dynamics and romances on screen which I hadn’t done before. It became a wonderful experience which sought me out.
What have been a few of your favorite projects so far and why?
TP:Motive truly gave me my first opportunity in television. For that, I will always look back fondly on the project. I have remained near and dear to many of my colleagues on that series and became a part of a series I am incredibly proud of. Torment was a project which turned out far better than I could have imagined, through an experience that was incredibly draining and intense. I never imagined it would premiere in Los Angeles Screamfest, or be sold internationally in theaters. For this, I walked away with a tremendous amount of pride for what we accomplished together.
What has been your most challenging project and why?
TP: The most challenging project to date was Torment, primarily because of the timeline to write the entire screenplay when we were only several weeks out from filming. It was a real “sink or swim” scenario in many ways. With new information of casting issues, location changes, schedule shifts, coming in every day, the script was a constant moving target, at times to an overwhelming extent. In the end, we brought it together in a wonderful way and I have walked away with pride for what we did. It was a great lesson that the most challenging experiences can also be the most rewarding.
Can you tell us about some of the awards you’ve received over the course of your career and what you won them for?
TP: I was fortunate to win the Silver Ace Award from the Las Vegas Film Festival in 2011 for writing and directing my short film The Wilderness Within. It was a gratifying achievement for a project I solely wrote, directed, and produced on my own. I was also a part of the Motive team when we were nominated for the Canadian Screen Award for Best Dramatic Series in 2014. Seeing the season I worked on being honored with a nomination was a tremendous achievement.
Out of all of your awards so far, which one has meant the most to you personally?
TP: The Silver Ace Award means the world to me as it was the first award I received for bringing together a project that only exists because of the kind efforts of those who believed in me. I believe it’s important to remember where you started out, and this award embodies the person I was before ever getting the chance to make movies or television.
What projects do you have coming up?
TP: I have been currently developing two new series for broadcasters in Canada. The Brick is a one hour drama for TMN with Bell Media, geared to be one of their first original cable one hour dramas. It is a series about a fictional small prairie town, simple and untouched by big box stores of today, and what happens when a major city crime organization aims to turn this town into their new home base, and how the hardware store owner decided to take a stand. He’ll create his own mob to fight the big city mob. I have been developing this project with Bell Media and Pier 21 in Toronto since the summer of 2015, and aim to have an announcement early 2016 on the predicted release.
I am also continuing to develop The Faculty, a one hour drama series for Shaw Cable. The series is about life following a school shooting in a small prairie town, and how the faculty members return to work and strive to pick the pieces up and transcend tragedy through hope. We have been developing the series for a year, and aim to bring it out into American markets in early 2016.
As a screenwriter, where do you get your inspiration for the projects you create?
TP: As a screenwriter, I take as much inspiration as possible from my own life. Whether it be a particular experience or a specific relationship in my life, I always start inwards. If I can connect with a specific emotion I feel in relation to a story I would like to tell, I can build a script from there. I am always able to return to that place within me where it originated from. It’s as close to a “method’ approach to writing as one can get.
What do you hope to achieve with the projects you create?
TP: Ultimately, I simply want my audience to connect with the projects I create. If they are able to connect and feel the specific emotion I felt when writing it, that’s a pretty incredible journey. In anything I create, I hope there is always a personal honesty and deep truth which resonates to anyone, no matter what their background.
Why are you passionate about working as a screenwriter?
TP: I believe stories unite mankind. Films and television travel all around the world and leave immense cultural wakes, and soaring ripple affects through time. Stories challenge the way we think and how we communicate. Films and television have the ability to bring honesty and truth to an audience who may shy away or be unaware of it in their own lives. At the simple core of it, a story can help them escape and relive the sense of wonder we’ve all had at one point in our lives. My passion for screenwriting comes directly from the drive to share the wonder I have for the human experience. If I can find a way to share those stories in an entertaining way, then I’ve done my job.
Do you think you’ll stick to writing TV shows or is there another area of screenwriting you’d like to explore?
TP: I’ll absolutely stick to writing television, however I’d love to expand on the breadth of the TV I work with. I would love to be writing multiple television series as well as feature films at the same time. Of course I can only write so much, but the passion and ability to work with other writers, and find the stories they’re passionate about drives me. I’d love to explore an avenue of producing other material and using my experience to bring it to the screen and share their stories.
International Entertainment, and the Talents that Leave us Buzzing….