Category Archives: Reviews, Interviews & Features!

Director Merve Tekin’s Short Film Honey Pot Makes World Premiere

Director Merve Tekin is having quite a year for comedic films, and on Friday night, her short film Honey Pot made its World Premiere at Hollywood’s celebrated TCL Chinese Theatre.

“I’m so honored that we made our premiere in the Chinese Theatre. The theatre was full. Many of my friends couldn’t find tickets,” said Tekin. “Hollywood Comedy Short Film Festival made a great job by putting this event together.”

Honey Pot stars Mark Kelly, known for his role as Dale in Mad Men, and his starring role in the Duplass Brothers film The Do-Deca Pentathlon. Kelly leads the comedy as Frank, a lonely farmer whose only interaction with the female form is by artificially inseminating cows for a living. He proudly call himself “The Inseminator!”, the alternative name for the film. This is until he picks up the dippy blonde Donna on the side of the road, who is in need of some help. Frank’s loneliness and manly needs cloud his better judgement. Donna is played by Brianna Oppenheimer.

“Everytime people laughed out loud, Mark was gripping my hand to share in this happiness,” said Tekin. “It is a beautiful feeling to make people laugh. It is so nice to share those happy moments.”

“Shooting a comedy film is tough,” she said. But the challenges that Tekin was presented with seem minimal now, as Honey Pot has been officially selected for six short film festivals so far. These include LA Cinefest, The Texas Ultimate Shorts Film Festival, TMFF, UCLAxFilmFest, IFS (Independent Filmmakers Showcase), and The Hollywood Comedy Short Film Festival where the film premiered.

Tekin is no stranger to success, having directed more than 20 different television programs in her home country of Turkey. The last program she directed for over 600 episodes was titled Shopping Monster, which was sold to 22 countries around the world. Her first feature film, Yes, It Is a Camel, is also set to start production later this spring.

“Merve is the director you dream of as she knows what story she is telling, and demands with a nourishing touch at getting that story told, all the while trusting the actor for giving his or her input as well,” said Kelly. “Merve handled the challenges of a tight schedule and budget with grace and fed me and the other actors with all the food we needed to tell the story. She also had the capacity to roll with needed choices that allowed us to tell her story under fire.”

Calli Ryals, known for the feature film Stick It, starring Jeff Bridges, as well as her work in sketch comedy with the world-renowned Second City, also wrote, produced, and acted in the short film. Ryals found there was a lot of chemistry working with Tekin. She described it as “Yes And” writing chemistry.

“Merve would throw out an idea, and I would go YES! and then I was off the ground writing a scene,” she said. “This was my first short film as a writer/producer.  I was really lucky to have this first time experience with someone like Merve.  She pushed me to set high expectations for myself and the project, and exemplified true leadership.  Even when times got really stressful, as they do especially in low budget film making, she was able to keep a calm demeanour and push through, always keeping a strong end goal in mind.”

Ryals, Tekin and Kelly all agree that they were a well oiled team, where working together was not only successful, but fun.

“I feel very lucky that I worked with Mark. He is a real talent. He contributed a lot and improvised a lot in this movie,” said Tekin. “Calli was involved in every aspect of this project, she co-wrote it, she produced it and she acted in it. She was always with me during the process. We are still working together for future projects.”

“Mark added so much to the character that wasn’t written.  In between takes, he would say ‘What if I did this?’ And Merve let him run with it. Merve let him improvise the takes and he would have everyone in stitches,” described Ryals. “Had I known he was so dang funny I would have budgeted in muzzles for the crew members.”

“I hope I get another opportunity to work with Merve and Calli Ryals as I felt we had a great balance in juggling all of the demands of a tight schedule and still walked away feeling like we achieved our creative goals,” said Kelly. “Merve knows when to leave the actors alone when things are creatively on par and when the step in when we go off the rails and need her guidance. She is an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Tekin desribes the entire process of making this film as fantastic.

“We gathered great spirits together for this project. We stayed in a RV park in the middle of the desert with 17 people. We were shooting during the day and having barbecue parties at night. Locals joined us, we ate together, we drank together,” she described. “Keeping motivation up is one of the biggest duties of the director. People felt like they belonged to the project. What we laughed about during filming was what made people laugh in the screening.”

Tekin was very successful in her goal of keeping motivation up and ensuring a positive work environment on set.

“She is so passionate about film making, always learning, watching, using references, observing people in real life,” said Ryals, still describing working with Tekin. “She is the ‘reel’ deal, pun intended.”


Cinematographer Ross Radcliffe Captures Tough Shots for Film and Television

Last Alaskans - Dave Clawson
Cinematographer Ross Radcliffe on location of “The Last Alaskans” shot by Dave Clawson


After multiple life-threatening sports-related injuries suddenly derailed him from a future as a professional athlete, college student Ross Radcliffe turned to his interest entirely to his other love, cinematography.  Born and raised on Vancouver Island in Canada, Radcliffe became motivated by the idea of seeking out remote corners of the world and capturing them on film. Turning the hours he would have spent training into hours submerged in film making, the revolutionary cinematographer quickly became recognized as among the top of the field.

When asked what it was about cinematography that captured his interest, Radcliffe answered without hesitation. “To be a cinematographer is to be a visual storyteller,” he said.  “I get to craft images that effectively move the audience through a story, with all the twists and turns of emotions along the way.” And that he does.

Radcliffe began by shooting and editing his own projects, which quickly secured him a position with Susie Films, a full service, pitch to post production company.  At Susie Films, Radcliffe’s love for the industry flourished, and before long, his insurmountable talents were recognized by major reality TV networks. National Geographic quickly hired him as a freelance cinematographer, followed quickly thereafter by both Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.

With work pouring in, Radcliffe admits that his physical stamina and limitless capabilities are invaluable to networks filming shows revolving around high paced, action packed adventure. “I think a big responsibility of mine, due to the type of projects I shoot, is to stay on top of my physical conditioning,” says Radcliffe. He continues, “when I film a subject, I want to make sure their are no barriers between the story and the audience, so I have to be a pro at following along, no matter the conditions or situations might be. In my field, a good cinematographer blends into the situation to let it play out as naturally as possible.”

It is because of this physical endurance and artistically trained eye that audiences have the incredible adventure-based reality shows we see today.  For example, Radcliffe worked as the Director of Photography on The Travel Channel’s Jackson Wild.  The series revolves around the  EJ Jackson, a 4-time world champion and adventure author and founder of Jackson Kayak, and his brave and fearless family. During this production, Radcliffe followed the family to Germany, Austria, South Africa, England and Zambia, where he faced what he calls a “crazy challenge” of keeping up with them physically. Radcliffe recalls of the experience, “I was able to capture mountain biking through Europe and waterfall jumping in Africa but, for the record, running around Africa with a 40 lb camera on your shoulder isn’t easy!”

Trekking through the freezing temperatures of an Alaskan winter was no easy task, either, though through his beautifully captured images used in National Geographic’s Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet, Radcliffe made it look graceful and effortless. As the Director of Photography, the tactful cinematographer followed Dr. Oakley day and night and captured irreplaceable footage of the veterinarian as she helped a weak cow deliver an over sized calf.  Radcliffe recalls the experience fondly, adding “while this project was extremely demanding physically and sometimes entailed stepping in stinky animal droppings or running from an angry muskox, I was honored to be part of such a small, hand selected team.”

No longer a stranger to Alaska by any means, Radcliffe was hired next for his technological brilliance and insurmountable endurance by The Animal Planet and Discovery Channel to shoot The Last Alaskans. Ranked second in the network’s most watched shows, the program is internationally acclaimed for its genre-busting take on the people and families who reside in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, located just above the arctic circle.  Radcliffe’s contribution to the series gained recognition in The New York Times and The Washington Post, hooking viewers with depictions of unimaginably challenging living conditions, matched only in magnitude by the stunning beauty of the terrain.

To the great advantage of audiences worldwide, Radcliffe’s deep desire to put himself into other people’s shoes through the magic of cinematography will never fade. He admits, “being a cinematographer is the only job I have ever had that doesn’t feel like work.  Every day that I wake up on location, I truly cannot believe how lucky I am. I’m honored and humbled to be instrumental in telling stories about people and places that would have gone otherwise unnoticed.” With his rare and refined compounded talents in both technology and athleticism, Radcliffe is sure to bring us uniquely captivating and alluring images for years to come.


Canadian Actress Alison Balnar gets “You’Nique” Role

There was never a moment of doubt for 22 year old Alison Balnar. The feeling of uneasiness that haunts so many millennials who don’t know which career to chose was never an issue. From the first moment she stepped onto a stage, she knew what path to take.

Now, 12 years later, Balnar has moved on from the small town to the big city, and from the stage to the screen. The Guelph, Ontario native has recently been cast in the web series Bloggers.

“It feels nice to be cast in a web series where there is a genuine complexity to all of the characters,” she said.

Balnar has been cast as the role of Carla, the youngest of all the bloggers whose area of blogging is in urban culture, the latest trends, and following celebrities.

“She isn’t just your typical one-layered type of character. She has no fear of speaking her mind, but at the same time she has a lot to learn,” she said. “She is also sarcastic and I have a flare of sarcasm, and we’re both Canadian.”

The character of Carla, which was written specifically for Balnar, is one of six of the main bloggers that the show follows who work for one popular website, “You’Nique Blogging”. Each blogger has been recruited by Anna, the founder of the company.

“As the team begins to work together, opinions differ, egos get in the way and each character’s personal struggles are exposed,” described Balnar. “Each episode reveals how successful millennial entrepreneurs figure out what it means to have extraordinary jobs, real friendships and meaningful lives in a world that promotes the opposite.”

A key element of the show is that all six starring actors are international. The cast members, including Gino Lee, Lucas Zaffari, Gioya Tuma-Waku and Ellinor Taflin come from various places around the world, which adds a unique element to the show and each of the characters.

“It’s great,” said Balnar when discussing this important aspect to the production. “It is incorporated into each character, which is really nice for each of the actors.”

The show’s creator and executive producer is Anele Morris. She also plays the role of Anna in the production.

“I’ve seen Alison’s work first hand, she is not afraid to go where the character needs to go,” said Morris. “She respects the story and takes on a role with no reservations about who might think what of the character, and that is very important for the essence of her part in this series.”

Balnar likes the challenge that playing Carla brings her. It is a different role than she is used to, and the change allows her to tap into parts of herself that she has been unable to do in previous roles.

“I always play more gentle characters who are close to I am,” she said. “But Carla and I are similar in the sense that we both have great ambition. We both started to pursue our career at a young age and where the odds are more against us in succeeding. She lets her passion and her drive overcome that.”

With the role being written specifically for her, Balnar did not have to go through the typical auditioning process, which she described as a welcome change.

“When I go to an audition, I go and sit in a room with ten other brunettes who kind of look like me,” she said. “Knowing this role fits me is a gift.”

Bloggers is set to start filming shortly and will premiere in the late Spring. The web series is a chance for Balnar to express herself while exploring her passion.

“The feeling I have in the theatre or on set, it is a feeling that I can’t ignore,” she said. “I am a person who believes in doing what you love. If you can combine work with love, then success is the result.”

Photo by Ellinor Taflin

Director Marcelo Galvão’s ‘Bounty Hunter’ has found its prized editor

Beto Araujo is bringing his editorial talents to “The Bounty Hunter.”

The award-winning film and TV director Marcelo Galvão has selected Beto Araujo as editor for his forthcoming feature western movie, “The Bounty Hunter.” Araujo, an 18-year editing master in advertising, music videos and TV, brings a world of talent and experience to the forthcoming production.

Galvão penned the script and the story follows a feared killer living in the countryside of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco between the 1910s and 1930s.

“Beto was highly recommended by my friend and colleague, Fernando Sanches, and after meeting him and talking about the project, I believe he has the skills and the passion that I’m looking for,” said Galvão.

The film is being produced by Galvão’s production company, Gatacine. It is scheduling to film in Brazil and release next year in the U.S. and Brazil. As a release in Brazil, the western will be titled “O Matador.”

“This film is one international audiences will gravitate towards,” Araujo said. “It has a great cinematic story, dynamic characters, drama, action and it’s all set against the beautiful backdrop of early 20th century Brazil. Marcelo is an amazing, award-winning director who can deliver this western period piece in an extraordinary way.”

Creative, achieved, talented and recognized internationally, Araujo edited four episodes of HBO Latin America’s, “Psi,” including the series’ pilot and Season 1 finale. He edited a MTV VMA nominated music video for the Brazilian rock band, Nação Zumbi, and has edited hundreds of commercials and advertising promos including for brands such as Coca-Cola, Google, Samsung, VW, Ford, Visa and many more.

“Beto’s body of work shows the kind of versatility I was looking for in an editor,” Galvão said. “His work for HBO was nominated for Best Drama on last year’s international Emmy and his diverse work in advertising covers almost every possible editing style. All of that shows me that he is a passionate professional that put his best on all his projects and I want this passion and dedication on my project.”

Galvão, from Rio de Janeiro, wrote, produced and directed the 2014 feature drama, “Farewell.” The film told the story of a 92-year old man who decides it’s time to say goodbye to all that’s important in his life, including his lover who is 55 years younger. It won 15 international film festival awards including Best Film at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival. Galvão is also known for directing the award-winning films, “Buddies,” “La riña” and “Quarta B.”

For “The Bounty Hunter,” plot details are being kept under wraps, but the story features a captivating protagonist who was abandoned as a baby, raised in the wild by a bounty-hunting bandit and eventually becomes a feared bounty hunter himself.

The film will have story elements of old-fashioned vigilante justice, drama, action and revenge. The characteristics of the premise drive the editorial strategy and also create an opportunity within the filmmaking process.

“I believe that Western period movies made nowadays have a total freedom regarding editorial approach,” Galvão said. “For me, “The Bounty Hunter” requires editing skills both drama and for fast-paced action sequences.”

It’s a challenge Araujo is ready to oversee. He’s experienced with fast cutting and also knows how to strike the balance needed with slower, dramatic scenes.

“Cutting dramatic scenes and action scenes differ in terms of pacing, sequencing, tone and seamless continuity,” said Araujo, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. “With drama, the beats are slower and we’re serving the story that’s being driven by the characters who are layered and evolving. With action and fight sequences, it’s about creating the desired speed and tempo, and visually presenting what’s happening with a real force behind it. We want to make the action authentic and stylized, but also show the movements with clarity so the audience can see what’s unfolding.”

Previously, Araujo edited “O Desejo de Saiuri,” a short film from writer-director Fernando Sanches, and “The Side of the Door,” from writer-director Joao Simi.

He edited Getty Images’ “85 Seconds” campaign that won many awards including the 2013 Gold Lion for Editing, the 2014 Gold for Best Editing at the El Ojo de Iberomerica and the Bronze award in Editing at the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards.

Among Araujo’s many other editing accolades, he cut the “Black and White” commercial for Skip, a laundry detergent manufacturer, that won a 2010 Cannes Silver Lion. He also edited BIC’s “Declaracao de Amor” (Declaration of Love) spot that won the Bronze at El Ojo and was shortlisted at the renowned Cannes Film Festival.

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Diana Matlak Takes Trip to Big Screen

Polish actress Diana Matlak is no stranger to success. At a young age, she mastered the art of dance and rose to the world stage. Now, she is gracing the big screen and working with some of Hollywood’s top talent.

Matlak has been cast in two leading roles recently. The first of which, the highly anticipated upcoming film The Train Trip (previously named Company of Women), Matlak will work alongside cinematographer John M. O’Connor. O’Connor previously worked on the blockbuster Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. Matlak will also be working with a familiar face, director Joseph Brandon. The two previously worked together on the short film Coincidental Romance, which is now in a film festival circuit and it got already accepted to The Indie Fest in La Jolla.

“I worked with Joseph Brandon before, and I have to say that he has a very unique way of telling a story,” said Matlak. “He is very demanding, but at the same time he trusts his actors and gives them freedom when it comes to making choices. When we collaborate our styles mix together perfectly.”

Brandon chose Matlak to star in his film based on her talent and commitment to her roles.

“Working with Diana always makes my job as a director a more enjoyable process. I can always rely on her to be there for me, on time and ready to work hard. That is all I can ask for from anyone on any project,” he described. “She always comes with questions for me about her character and sometimes she answers them for me. She is very dedicated and that is what makes her such a great actress and easy person to work with.”

The Train Trip is in preproduction with filming set to begin in June. It follows the story of an architect named Jimmy. Jimmy travels by train on business and has an argument with his selfish girlfriend. He then battles the temptations of a sexy train attendant who wants to party. Matlak plays the role of Hannah, Jimmy’s girlfriend, who despite her self-indulgence loves Jimmy very much.

“It feels amazing being cast in The Train Trip,” she said. “I really can’t wait to play this character.”

Joseph Brandon plans on submitting the film to prestigious film festivals like Sundance and Cannes.

After playing the selfish but endearing character of Hannah, Matlak will have her second starring role in the feature Maneater, directed by Stephanie Nauli Moningka.

“I wanted to be in this film,” described Matlak. “It shows that many times, when everything seems perfect, it is not. We can’t judge book by its cover.”

In Maneater, Matlak plays the leading role of Lotta. When everything seems ideal, it’s just the beginning. She has the perfect house, the perfect man, her perfect friends and her perfect career. Nothing can go wrong at this point. Then her status quo meets its match during her in-house photo shoot. In fear of loosing everything she has worked for, she fights to keep her reputation before it slips away. The film is still in pre production with the hopes of starting shooting in this summer.

Versatility is clearly one of Matlak’s specialities, and acting was clearly something she was meant for.

“I love acting. I love telling stories and portraying different characters.I love the fact that I can play someone who is totally different from me,” she said. “Thanks to acting I can learn about myself.”

It is clear to audiences that a talent like Diana Matlak will have many more opportunities to tell stories as her acting career continues.


Sound Designer Veronica Li Completes the Vision Behind Alexandre Peralta’s ‘Looking at the Stars’

Final Mix
Veronica Li brings the sound design to director Alexandre Peralta’s “Looking at the Stars.”

The award-winning sound designer Veronica Li has proven herself as a talented and invaluable individual when it comes to the art of storytelling through sound. Her knack for effectively enhancing a film with her sound work is showcased throughout her most recent success, the short film, “Looking at the Stars,” written and directed by Alexandre Peralta.

Originally from Changchun, China, Li was first introduced to her craft while attending school at the University of Southern California (USC), where the art of creating sound design initially sparked her interests. “I remember when I first started doing sound design, there was a scene where a woman walked out of a hospital very upset, and my professor told me that I should make the sliding door close behind her sound like a sigh,” Li recalled. “That was the moment I fell in love with sound.”

Li’s time at USC provided her with many opportunities to collaborate on several strong, student projects. One of her earliest works titled “STAND,” consisted of a documentary about Krump Dancers in Southern LA. “It was very successful at several film festivals, and also won the Outstanding Achievement in Sound Award at the First Film Festival,” Li said.

By way of excellent recommendations, Peralta connected with Li after making contact with her during his search for a post-production sound designer for “Looking at the Stars.” Even before seeing the project, Li was enthralled by the story on its own, and also noted it as a great opportunity for sound design. “When Alex showed me the first cut, I was so moved by it,” said Li. “I loved the characters, their stories and the look of the film and thought, ‘I have to work on this project.’”

The film takes place in São Paul, Brazil, and follows the lives of extraordinary ballerinas who attend Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind, the world’s only ballet school for the blind. Peralta, a Brazil native, read about the ballet school one day in a magazine. After reading up on the school, Peralta said, “I realized that I lived two blocks away and would walk by the school almost everyday. Everything started out as a curiosity; I wanted to know how they were able to teach something so technical and visual like ballet to visually impaired people. When I visited the ballet school for the first time, I was even more fascinated. It was a lively and inspiring place, and I learned that ballet played and even bigger role in these girl’s lives. I needed to tell some of their stories.”

“Looking at the Stars” was aimed at inspiring a visually impaired audience, ultimately making it so that having, “A great sound design was almost more important than having a beautiful picture,” Peralta said. From the beginning, he knew that having a sound designer who understood this idea and possessed a unique talent would be essential in ensuring the film’s success. “We wanted it [the sound] to be immersive and poetic like the images that we captured. Veronica brought even more than what I expected. It became a much better movie after her amazing work.”

Li sound designed the short on her own with the help of two Foley artists. Said artists aided in capturing mainly dance moves, footsteps and other various close touching sounds.

The majority of the editing process took place over a holiday break when Peralta and Li were apart from one another, Li in China and Peralta in Brazil. “We thought the distance might create some communication issues, but it actually went very smoothly,” Li commented. “I sent him every path and he would give me clear feedback. He was also always very helpful with anything I requested of him, like recording more ADR or helping me gather Brazilian ambient sounds.”

Despite the extensiveness of the project, the team was given the same amount of time as other USC student thesis films to complete the mixing of “Looking at the Stars.” However, unlike the other student theses, Li had three different versions of the short film to mix. “It was very challenging just to get the work done,” Li said. The final product included the completion and delivery of a normal mix, a mix with English description for blind audiences and one with Portuguese description for the Brazilian release. “I’d never mixed a film with audio description before, and in order to fit the description, we had to adjust a lot of our original dialogue and sound design,” Li explained.

While perfecting the sound design for “Looking at the Stars” came with challenges, the project also allowed Li to showcase specific skills in addition to acquiring new ones. Not only did the short feature Li’s dialogue editing abilities, it also provided her ample opportunity to implement her own unique creative design.

“The sound design of the film is subtle and very effective emotionally,” Peralta explained. “You are not necessarily aware of the sound work, but you can feel it, and that’s how good sound design should be. I really like the little details that came from Veronica’s work; some of the memorable moments are in the dance sequences. When we were picture editing these sequences, they used to be like music videos. After the sound work, they became much more emotional and you could feel them in a totally different way.”

The short was awarded the Documentary Gold Award in the 42nd Student Academy Awards, one grand achievement out of many for Li. Regarding the award, Li said, “Winning the Gold Award means the project is a great film as a whole, including all aspects of filmmaking. The Student Academy Awards is one of the biggest student film awards in the world. Being a part of a team whose project won a Student Academy Award is definitely a great honor for me.”

While Peralta and Li were new to collaborating with one another prior to “Looking at the Stars,” their partnership will continue to grow throughout a second rendition of the short, as a feature film version of “Looking at the Stars” is currently in the works. “I felt the short was like a simple melody where we just follow the arc as it builds up to the end climax. The feature is more like a polyphony where we have to balance several different melodies and make them work well with one another,” said Li. This new interpretation will introduce another main character, while the stories of the short’s current characters will undergo an increase in complexity.

The release date of the feature version of “Looking at the Stars” is still to be determined, however, the post-production sound mixing is set to begin in April of 2016.

When it came to Li’s contributions to the short style of “Looking at the Stars,” Peralta commented, “I can say that there was a movie before and after sound design. She definitely took the movie to another level. I am so glad we are working together again on the feature version of “Looking at the Stars.””

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German actor-photographer David Mihalka shines both in front of and behind the cameras

Mihalka - picture
David Mihalka

His formula for acting is simple: interest in fellow man, being observant, educating on life and psychology, stepping out of one’s comfort zone and not being quick to judge.

It’s a proven methodology for German film and TV actor David Mihalka.

“Try to understand others. Walk in their shoes for a mile!” he said. “Always be a better version of yourself. That’s what I am working on each day.”

It’s certainly fair to say it’s been working.

Mihalka, who grew up watching many movies such as “Amadeus,” is known in the international filmmaking community for his dazzling character portrayals, chief among them his role in director John A. Mati’s feature comedy, “Monsieur Brucco.”

The Switzerland-released film follows Brucco (played by Mati), an Albanian who cuts his finger and is certified permanently unfit for work. Reluctant to accept early retirement, Brucco reinvents himself as a door-to-door toy salesman, but the new career takes a twist when he inadvertently becomes the target of the mafia.

Mihalka plays Monsieur Houstaf, captain of a spaceship.

“His mission is find a new leader for his planet,” Mihalka said. “The computer of the spaceship said that Monsieur Brucco is the chosen one. But he is a total fool and catching him becomes a challenge, since Monsieur Houstaf is a complete idiot as well.”

The role allowed Mihalka to tap into his profound comedic acting talent. He says he relished the chance of “being a fool” on screen.

“Life is so serious. Being a fool frees you! And with a captain from out of space, you have even more freedom to go overboard.”

The film was a success to the point a sequel is now filming. “All I can say is: The fool is still chasing the other fool.”

Other 2015 acting roles for Mihalka include Emilio Ferrari’s TV movie, “All I Want for Christmas,” Jonathan Moy de Vitry’s “Difficult People,” Alex Lewis’ “Driverless,” and Mickella Simone’s “The WorkPlace.”

David Mihalka stars in the hilarious YouTube comedy series, “Zero Button.”

Mihalka’s been acting since 2014 in the comedy web series, “Zero Button,” and he played Sean Benini in writer-director Stan Harrington’s “Lost Angels,” that won four awards at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival.

“Sean is a sleazy paparazzi in Hollywood hoping to make big bucks,” Mihalka said. “The movie is about Los Angeles, the glamour and the gutter.”

Mihalka’s filmography also includes acting in Harrington’s multi-award-winning feature mystery, “Perception” and Yu Jung Hou’s “Forever.”

In “Perception,” Mihalka played the role of Yuri and said, “Yuri is a very shy and silent student. The opposite of me. It was my first movie…exciting of course.”

Mihalka’s theatre background provided a valuable training ground before he parlayed his talents to film. From 2010 to 2012, he studied at The Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles and starred in theatrical productions of “J.B.” and “The Diviners.”

“In theatre,” he said, “I learned to speak up and be clear in my speech to make sure the guy in the last row won’t fall asleep. Also, I learned to get used to many eyes watching me. This benefits me on set since there are as many eyes watching you like in theatre.”

Veteran actor, writer and producer Tim McNeil has appeared in more than 30 films and television shows including “Forrest Gump,” “Contact” and “Starship Troopers,” as well as in over 40 plays. McNeil directed Mihalka in his original play, “Margaret,” at the Gilbert Theatre at Stella Adler Los Angeles.

“The play is about a community’s reaction to the unexpected suicide of a 16-year old girl,” McNeil said. “Initially, nobody speaks about it, all acting as though nothing has happened. Bruce, played by David, is the most vocal about his concerns. He is a drunk who is not afraid to speak the difficult truth, bringing comedy to a very dark and dramatic play. He is critical to the production because he is the only one who challenges everybody in the neighborhood to talk about Margaret, searching for an answer as to why she did it.

“David proved outstanding in his sensibilities and his knowledge of the character. He understood both the material and his own character, and in turn, made the play feel that much more real. His ability to bring comedy to such a tragic subject, and make it all seem natural without being over the top, is a testament to his ability as an actor. David has something to offer the entire world with his exceptional talent.”

Mihalka credits other actors as having a great influence on him. “Established actors taught me two things: find the unique things about yourself and don’t be shy. Enhance them and show it to the world. The other one is: never give up!”

Mihalka’s talents don’t stop in front of the camera – one look at his work in photography verifies another field where he excels.

Capturing difficult scenes through his work with a camera are a testament to his gifted photographer’s eye. Mihalka’s photography captures scenes from a diverse slice of life. From the sublime to the exotic, to the baseness of life, his photographic eye catches, captures and produces exceptional and unique perspectives of people, places, and situations.

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