I am Esi Conway, and throughout my years of being a line producer, I have worked hard to become recognized as one of the best at what I do. As a line producer, I build teams who can pull together to make great television shows. I am often one of the first people on the team. I usually start off with a budget, schedules and deadlines. I then build teams, find locations, and book the crews. Going around the world, I have worked on some of the world’s most well-known television shows, for networks such as MTV, HGTV, BBC, Animal Planet, and more.
To be a successful line producer, you must be organized, disciplined, and have an in-depth knowledge of scheduling and budgeting, as well as an understanding of the technical accepts of TV making. On a day-to-day basis, you plan and schedule to get ahead of the project and forecast the needs of the team. You also trouble shoot any problems that arise. To succeed as a line producer, you need exceptional communication and diplomacy skills about to balance editorial expectations with the financial constraints of the budget. Here are my quick tips to getting into the industry and staying in the industry:
Getting into the industry
When I started out, nepotism was the name of the game. To get a start in the industry, you had to know someone working in TV. I had no such contacts, so I got a friend who studied design to make a cool eye catching resume and cover letter and sent it to every production company listed in the TV directory called “’the knowledge.’ I was given a few weeks work as an office PA, and that’s where I got my break. Thankfully, now there are sites you can go to where they advertise starting positions in TV.
Build relationships with your team
Gain an understanding of what each role does and the challenges they face as this will help you when it comes to problem solving.
Be flexible in your approach to problem solving
Editorial teams are constantly trying to squeeze more out of a budget. Listen to the idea and think is there a way to balance this request with the budget. Ask yourself “where might you be able to save to give them some of their additional requests?”
It is important that you know what’s going on in the project, so it’s important that you are approachable so that people come to you with ideas, issues, progress reports, and everything else.
Stay in contact with contractors
Be the connector person. In this role, it is important to have a great list of contacts with a proven track record in each area so that you can build teams for various projects. Who can pull together to produce hit shows?
Remember the working hours
Filmmaking and television don’t allow for the 9-5, so it is often hard for those with families to maintain their positions at companies. You must be prepared to put in the hours, whether it be the weekend, or holidays to get the project completed.
Take a minute to enjoy the moment
Once you get your foot in the door, it’s important that you maintain your enthusiasm and commitment. As it is a project based industry, you need to maintain your standards so that people want to employ you again. If you can do this, it can be very rewarding. I have worked with some top names in the industry, on television shows watched by millions. Although the hours are long, it doesn’t feel like work as the excitement from the team and the project carry you through. From being on a safari shoot in South Africa, to shooting in the favelas in Brazil, to filming with the Queen in Malaysia, there is never a dull moment.
For Mariana Montes, acting is more than a career choice: it is a chance to continuously grow as a person with each role she takes. She has conquered the stage both domestically and internationally, both in Spanish and English, both in comedy and drama. Whether it is as a small role or a leading lady, this versatile actress is doing what she loves, and giving audiences performances to remember.
Originally from Mexico City, Montes is completely bilingual in both English and Spanish. She has worked in successful plays, such as Second Chances directed by Connie St. John from No Weapon Productions, Oedipus Machina at the prestigious Odyssey Theater Ensemble directed by Ron Sossi, and starred in Uterine Affairs by French writer and director Celine Nyanga. Uterine Affairs was nominated as Best International Ensemble, and won for both Best Original Playwright, and the audience-favorite Encore Award at the Hollywood Fringe Festival last year.
Her Mexican heritage and love for language and travel is something she brings to her work as an actress. When starring in the play Too Many Tamales, she performed with The Bilingual Foundation of the Arts (BFA). The BFA has a 42-year history of commitment to all people in the greater Los Angeles area, presenting the finest Hispanic literary culture for both Spanish and English speaking audiences. BFA’s presence is an integral part of the Los Angeles cultural scene, and provides an added dimension of understanding between the diverse cultures of the area by emphasizing the similarities of the human condition, which serve to unite us.
“I am able to identify natural talent, and Mariana is one of those gifted artists, overflowing with beauty, charm and charisma,” said Cecilia Garcia, the Director of Too Many Tamales and the Artistic Manager at BFA.
Based on the story by Gary Soto, Too Many Tamales tells the story of the young girl Maria, who well helping her parents make the tamales for Christmas dinner, she sees her mother set her precious diamond ring to the side. Although only trying it on for a brief moment, Maria loses the ring. In a panic, she corners her favorite cousins, and the four of them secretly eat the 24 tamales in a goal to find the ring in the dough. After eating all the Christmas Eve dinner, Maria learns a lesson and witnesses a Christmas miracle.
“Being in this production was fantastic. I was surrounded by a great team of professional actors. I thought it was going to be hard to work with kids but I was mistaken. They taught me a lot actually, and it was always fun to have them around,” said Montes.
Montes played Maria’s Aunt Rosa, a middle class hard-working woman who is dedicated to her family and brings the rest of the characters together. For Montes, who does not often get to play fun roles like Rosa, the change was welcome.
“Rosa is the perfect Latino mom who has everything under control. She knows about her niece’s secret, she can talk to the puppets but she is supportive about it because she once knew how to do it too, it’s a matter of faith,” said Montes.
While Too Many Tamales is a comedic musical, Montes typically is cast in dramatic roles. The actress is a true triple threat, as her acting, singing, and dancing abilities shine.
“Everything was full of charm and love. We did this show in Plaza De La Raza at Margo Albert Theatre that holds almost 300 people. It was amazing when we had full house and we could hear all the audience members singing our songs,” described Montes. “At the end of the play, we would invite them to come and join us for a final dance. It was great to see how much they love the show. I was sad when it was over. People would come to me and congratulate me and the rest of the cast for our performances and you can see how happy they all were.”
The true highlight of the experience for Montes was working alongside such a great cast and crew, saying they became a family from the experience. The production starred child actress Tiffany Galaviz, who was recently seen on television show The Voice: Kids, as well as Gloria Laino, known for the hit shows American Horror Story: Asylum and Weeds.
“Mariana is an incredible talented actress. I have had the opportunity to work with her in both film and theater, and I can tell you about her dedication and passion,” said Laino.
Too Many Tamales is a Christmas classic, but it is so much more than that. For Montes, the message the play communicates is extremely important, especially in the divided nation that we see today.
“It’s all about family and love. It’s a play that leaves you with the desire to communicate how much you love and care for your friends and family. It is a play about friendship, love, and tolerance between cultures,” concluded Montes.
Alexandre Cornet was just a child when he discovered what his passion was. While many children are doodling in class, making stick figures as a distraction, his drawings were much more than that. This innate talent and enjoyment for art gave rise to a career in illustration and design, and he has never looked back.
Cornet’s abilities have led to many achievements throughout his career, and he is sought-after by many companies looking to define the artistic side of their brand. This includes the internationally successful production company CosmoVision Media Group. CosmoVision is a production company that specializes in high-end natural history and factual entertainment, specifically documentaries. Their goal is to make films that spread awareness on environmental issues, and help “heal the planet” as they put it.
“I like CosmoVision’s vision and the important subjects of their work and wanted to be part of it,” said Cornet.
When Cornet was brought on board, CosmoVision did not have an identifiable visual aspect to the brand. He was in charge of creating a logo that would be instantly recognizable to those in the industry.
“It was a great experience, I had never worked for a documentary production company and I had to create a logo that would have some animated version for video credit apparitions. It took some time as I had to create the visual identity from scratch. I had to create a slick and minimal visual identity, adaptive to different mediums and formats,” said Cornet.
When creating the logo, Cornet did not simply begin designing what he thought would work. He wanted to ensure the logo was suitable for the company, so he did his research. He began with several interviews and things started to take shape through the investigation process.
“I researched a lot to create a mood board and then spent a lot of times exploring possibilities sketching on paper, and developing selected ideas until approved. Once determined the idea and concept of the logo began the second phase of the work, which was to create some rules and guidelines, experimenting further for each application, and at last designing the basic printed materials such as letterhead and business card. Good communication and regular feedback made everything possible,” he described.
After conducting his research, Cornet decided to create something subtle and minimalistic, easy and didactic, to fit and emphasize the richness of the content and purpose of CosmoVision’s work. He had his work cut out for him, as the logo had to go into several mediums, such as print animation, and video, and would still work well on a business card. It had to work well being superposed onto moving images. The Idea behind the result is that the shape of the “C” of CosmoVision is eclipsing a circular light, like the moon to the sun, creating a different, unique and displaced “C” shape, bigger and standing out as the initial letter.
“I am happy I helped them to actually define their whole project and to know their satisfaction when they actually saw it in video opening credit use, on top of video sequences and when they printed their business cards and letterheads,” said Cornet.
Cornet has known Jacob Steinberg, the director of CosmoVision, and the art director Paola Saavedra, for some time, and knew of their experience and dedication to their work. It was because of their reputation that Cornet initially decided to take on the project.
“They both have different personalities and are full of stories and inspiring experiences. It has been a great working and learning from each other,” said Cornet.
Steinberg is an Emmy Award Nominated Cinematographer. His work has been screened internationally on television and in festivals. He is the owner and managing director of CosmoVision Media Group, a full-service production company specializing in high-end documentary film for television and cinema. He describes working with Cornet as a great experience.
“Alex was responsive, and took the time to be creative and interact with us throughout the entire process. He managed our feedback very well, ultimately producing a final product that we are extremely satisfied with. Alex’s work represents the face of our company, and we are thrilled with it,” said Steinberg. “Alex is a dedicated creative professional. He manages expectations well from the start, and provides the framework upon which to make progress effectively. He then is patient, giving and receiving his feedback, providing his own inputs simultaneously. He takes the time to really understand his clients’ passions, priorities, and ultimate goals to provide exemplary final work that exceeds expectations.”
Cornet’s vision for CosmoVision has been extremely well-received. You can view his work on the logo on the company’s website here.
Nick Fulton has deftly parlayed his personal interest in pop music into a successful career as a professional writer. The New Zealand-born Fulton’s concise, insightful style, impeccable taste and natural affinity for his subject have enabled him to go, in a decade’s time, from startup blogger to internationally recognized voice. His groundbreaking Einstein Music Journal was one of the first web presences in the remote island nation and virtually introduced the music blog format there.
For Fulton, it came together almost by chance. “I started writing after a friend encouraged me to start a blog,” he said. “In 2004 very few people in New Zealand were blogging, so it was pretty exciting to enter that space. It also meant that the people I connected with online were mostly outside my local community. I made friends and connected with other writers in Sydney, Los Angeles and London.
“Around that time I tried to connect with a couple of print publications that were based in Auckland, which is where all the major publications in New Zealand are based,” Fulton said. “But I was living in Wellington and struggled to find my way in. As a result, I started writing more frequently on my blog, which later evolved into Einstein Music Journal (EMJ). I got another writer on board and used Myspace to reach out to bands and music blogs in other countries. Before long we had a steady readership, and when we eventually launched Einstein Music Journal in 2006 we were able to throw a massive party and sell out one of Auckland’s best live music venues.”
“We operated slightly differently to the traditional music media,” Fulton said. “We didn’t always go through conventional channels to secure a story. We quickly gained a reputation for being bold and enthusiastic, and many publicists and record labels responded well to us. On several occasions we managed to secure stories that much bigger publications and other established writers in New Zealand missed out on.”
From this somewhat cheeky Do-It-Yourself start, Fulton, thanks to a reputation which was gaining respect and admiration beyond New Zealand, found respectability being thrust upon him and soon eschewed such pop guerilla tactics.
“My biggest achievement is finding an audience for my writing outside of New Zealand,” Fulton said. “With EMJ, I had regular readers in New York. LA and Australia. More recently I’ve worked with influential writers like Jessica Hopper, Cuepoint’s Jonathan Shecter and co-authored a column with hip hop writer Michael ‘DJ’ Pizzo. Being personally asked by Shecter to contribute to his publication was such an honor, and one that I will never forget. He wrote to me after I self-published an article on Medium, asking if he could republish my story on Cuepoint and if I’d be willing to join him as a writer and editor there.”
This natural momentum has served the writer well, and Fulton’s aim is always true—his 2015 Pitchfork magazine editorial “It’s Time to Put Our Cameras Away” (which called for a cessation of fan cellphone recording at concerts) not only inspired a contrarian clickbait response from venerable NYC weekly the Village Voice, it coincided with the practical use at numerous music and comedy performances of a variety anti-cell phone technology, a practice that is steadily growing.
“I like writing about a potential trend, or an unusual observation,” Fulton said. “My Pitchfork Op-Ed started a healthy debate online and had an overwhelmingly positive response. Pitchfork‘s Facebook and Twitter received a lot of comments, mostly agreeing with me, which was good. The only real dissent was shown by that writer at the Voice, who penned a response telling people to keep doing whatever they wanted. I think he thought I was being too politically correct.”
With a kaleidoscopic range of subjects from world class pop superstars to offbeat independents like Italian noise rockers Father Murphy, offbeat New York hip-hop group Das Racist, New Zealand filmmaker-music video director Simon Ward or a behind the scenes piece of music studio production Fulton’s analytical easy going methodology always holds the reader
“Nick’s a great guy and a great writer,” broadcaster David Klein said. “EMJ was one of the key music blogs in the country, and one that was a real defining authority. We met when he was a guest on a radio show I hosted. It was awesome to have Nick onboard, he always presented interesting new music, and could speak about it with a good understanding of trends, composition, and just the way music appeals to you at an emotional level. I’d trust Nick’s taste, and the quality of his writing is what has made him so successful. And he is always expanding his range –I just read something about music studio production he’d written a few weeks ago, and it was great.”
Now an almost ubiquitous figure in the local music scene, Fulton’s achievements and variety of outlets continue to grow.
“Being viewed by the public as an expert in my field is one the highest honors,” Fulton said. “I’m proud of the times I was invited on to radio shows, to comment publicly about a trend in music or share my thoughts on a popular band. Now my goal is to become a trusted voice outside of New Zealand and Australia. I’d like to immerse myself in the American music scene for a while and soak up as much knowledge as possible. I got a taste of it all when I visited in 2012, but there’s still so much to discover and write about.”
Fulton’s elegant yet hard charging style has taken him far, but the writer is just now really coming into his own, and this success is very easily explained.
“Working with Nick was great,“ editor Katy Hall said. “He’s the kind of writer you hope will stumble into your inbox at some point but rarely does. He’s personable, professional, knows how to stick to a deadline, and most importantly, he always delivered really high-quality work. It was engaging, tailored to the publication’s tone and needed no editing. I don’t want this to sound cheesy or overhyped; it was just the reality of working with a great writer.”
Even at the start of his career as an editor back home in India, Shayar Bhansali was making innovative contributions to the entertainment industry with his work. The now multi-award winning film editor began his career as the visual media editor for The Big Indian Picture, India’s premiere online cinema magazine. Whereas most of India’s prior entertainment outlets focused on Bollywood fluff, The Big Indian Picture offered audiences a serious look at the world of Indian film; and the videos Bhansali edited for the outlet earned the magazine national attention.
Bhansali recalls, “I worked with the producers to edit interview segments, and these interviews turned out to be so genre-defining that they became the first ever web-produced content to air on national television on NDTV Prime.”
After getting his feet wet as an editor in India, Bhansali moved to Los Angeles to complete his master’s at the world renowned American Film Institute. Once in the states, he dove in with full force creating a reputation for himself as an exponentially talented editor in the narrative film world. Some of his recent work includes Cusi Cram’s award-winning dramatic comedy “Wild & Precious,” which earned the Best Narrative Award from the NYLA International Film Festival, Mattson Tomlin’s family drama “Persuasion” and Stefan Kubicki’s “Against Night.”
In addition to winning awards at the USA Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, Ojai Film Festival, as well as being nominated for several more from the American Society of Cinematographers and Guam International Film Festival, Kubicki’s drama “Against Night” also earned Bhansali international recognition for his work. Delicately weaving together the story of a cosmonaut who struggles to deal with the haunting memory of the loss of his wife and young daughter, Bhansali’s work on the film earned the Festival Prize for Best Editing at the Kolkata International Film Festival in India and the June Award for Best Editing from the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards in the US.
For Bhansali, the art of editing is all about striking a balance between the director’s vision and what his creative voice believes is best for the story.
“I find editing to be humbling and empowering at the same time – you’re constantly making decisions about the way in which a story unfolds, but you do this within the context of the director’s vision,” he explains. “This balance of finding my own expression and balancing it with the larger creative arc is what drew me into the world of filmmaking, and editing became a way of life before I knew it.”
One of the many unique aspects of Bhansali’s gift as an editor is his ability to adapt to the needs of a project and use his creativity to solve potential problems in a way that allows the production to flow seamlessly. His work as the editor on Tomlin’s 2014 film “Persuasion” speaks leagues to why these traits are such a vital asset to any production. “Persuasion” focuses on a father’s process of coming to grips with his son’s unnatural gift for controlling people’s behavior with David Kopelev (“The Escort,” “Heritage”) starring as the son and Gregory Linington (“Indigo,” “Dune”) as the father. Early in the developing story there is a scene where Kopelev’s character has a face off with a bear, an event that instills in the father the startling awareness of how truly powerful his son is.
Bhansali recalls, “Mattson was convinced that the only way to portray this scene in a realistic sense would be to shoot it with a real bear. Given that the child actor was only 7 years old, we had to come up with a way to use a motion controlled camera rig to shoot separate plates with the bear and child, and combine them in post production with the help of visual effects supervisor Mike Pappa.”
To ensure that the production captured the two separate shots in a way that would make it possible for Bhansali to seamlessly combine them in post, the visionary editor actually spent quite a bit of time on set during those shoot days providing quick mock-ups to show the team what the scenes would like. When most of us think of a film editor we imagine them tied to their desk spending hours upon hours cutting and sewing footage together; and while that’s mostly true, having an editor like Shayar Bhansali on set can mean the difference between saving time and money or having to go back and do those dreaded reshoots.
“This level of involvement is becoming more common for an editor and when done efficiently, I find it can be an irreplaceable tool for the director and production crew,” admits Bhansali.
Much of what drives Bhansali’s work as an editor is the inherent power that comes with job to change and shape the story; he enjoys the laborious and highly creative process of sifting through hours of fragmented pieces of footage, fusing the perfect shots into fluid scenes and purposefully forming a coherent whole that will impact viewers.
He explains, “I like the process through which we rewrite the story with editing, the power to manipulate and curate the emotions of our audience with every decision we make. I’ve always been drawn to the inner workings of a film, understanding how structure and scene construction influences the way we relate to characters and story – and editing for me gives me the opportunity to do this every day with every project I work on.”
From his work as the editor of the interview series “Tete-a-Tete” broadcast on NDTV to the powerful stories he crafted as the editor of the films “Loveland,” “La Bella,” “Persuasion,” “Against Night,” “Zoya” and “Wild & Precious,” Bhansali has amassed an impressive repertoire of work that spans several mediums and practically every genres.
Up next for Shayar Bhansali is the film “Rene” starring multi-award winning actor Xander Berkeley (“Taken,” “Airforce One,” “Justified”), and the film “Shinje,” which is in preproduction and will be directed by Stefan Kubicki.
Brazil’s Samar Kauss has proven herself to be a filmmaker to watch, as any project she is attached to gains immeasurable success. Hailing from Brazil, Kauss has established herself as an internationally recognized editor, lending her services to some of her home country’s most distinguished productions over the past decade.
Native Brazilians may recognize her for her sustained work on the highly popular television show GNT Fashion, the Brazilian equivalent of E! News, which examines all things fashion, pop culture, and celebrity gossip. Since 2001, Kauss worked as an editor for GNT Fashion for several years, working alongside some of the country’s most notable celebrities, directors, and creatives across the entertainment industry. The show, distributed on Brazil’s leading network TV Globo, one of the country’s largest broadcast stations, reaches over 180 million homes in Brazil, rivaling that of even some of the most popular American productions.
Kauss does not let the bar lie with only one immensely popular television show, however. She has also worked as an editor for the highly popular series Mesa Para Dois, (Table For Two), a culinary series hosted by the renowned Brazilian celebrity chefs Flavia Quaresma and Alex Atala. The two chefs are nationally famous for their entertaining, yet informative series in which Kauss’ job is to propagate the show’s energetic pacing, and to support the comedic timing of the two chefs as they dive through local community’s in search for the most rich and flavorful recipes around Brazil and internationally. As a longstanding editor on the program, Kauss ran a tight ship, and was able to understand, envision, and articulate through her cuts exactly what the directors and producers of the show had in mind for the final visual product. The show’s executive producer, Alessandra Casado, had this to say: “Thanks to the tight, polished editing skills demonstrated by Samar, Mesa Para Dois was received tremendously well and garnered a substantial viewership of up to 183 million Brazilians.”
In addition to her work as an editor, Kauss also has worked hand-in-hand with the Australian government’s Department of Health as a leading Director of Photography for their government-funded educational documentary, aimed to raise international awareness and pledge support to a large and thriving aboriginal tribe known as the Wadeye Community, who live in the rural Northern Territory of Australia. The documentary has had a significant impact on the aboriginal tribes of Australia, and was hailed for its significant cultural impact across the community.
Whether it’s landing leading roles on Brazil’s leading television networks or extending her talents to a noble, humanitarian cause for Australia’s Department of Health, Editor and Director of Photography Kauss has certainly taken the international entertainment film and television industry by storm.
The inspiration was sparked for Carson Manning when he was growing up watching films and TV shows in Toronto with his grandfather, Frank Billing. Manning was raised by Billing and by his mother, Pixie, after his father left when he was born. Manning and ‘Grandfer’ took it all in together, from classics to sitcoms to reruns, and everything in between. The magic of moviemaking and television stirred an irresistible urge to be a part of it all.
“As a small boy, I never missed watching the Academy Awards, even till now,” Manning said. “I always dreamed I would work and act in the film industry. I always enjoyed the amazing talent I would see and how actors could become someone else.”
What started as a boyhood dream would materialize into a rare reality. Manning’s destiny wasn’t to view from the audience, but rather to be an on-screen figure entertaining them. He tapped into the perilous world of stunt performing and is also a formidable actor of praiseworthy merit nearly 30 years experienced.
Manning has braved car and motorcycle stunts, fight scenes, hard falls and hits in Fox’s box office smash, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” Columbia Pictures’ “Pixels” starring Adam Sandler, 2014’s “RoboCop” reboot starring Joel Kinnaman, Sony’s “Pompeii” starring Kit Harington and New Line Cinema’s “Shoot ‘Em Up” with Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti, to name a few.
This year, Manning served as stunt performer, stunt driver and stunt rigger for the highly anticipated “Suicide Squad” from writer-director David Ayer. Warner Bros. is releasing the picture globally August 5 and it features a star-studded cast including Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and others.
Manning has collaborated with and engaged his talents alongside a list of names analogous to the Hollywood Walk of Fame including Oscar winning actors Denzel Washington, Rod Steiger, Timothy Hutton and Halle Berry. Other notables Manning has worked with include the late comedy legends George Carlin and John Candy, as well as the famed Second City “SCTV” cast, Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey, Oscar nominees Will Smith, Hugh Jackman and Sir Ian McKellen and “Star Trek” icon Sir Patrick Stewart.
First showing a flair for performing when he was going through public school, Manning was inspired by classic comedy shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” the Dean Martin Roast and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” He actually went to St. Clair Jr High School with Kiefer Sutherland in Toronto and developed a reputation as a class clown who found himself in trouble often for disrupting lessons with improv and mime skits of his own creation. When the charades caught the attention of Manning’s school principal, he was made to go from class to class performing the skits that otherwise resulted in discipline. Manning would go on to take improv and comedy classes, but never ventured into the world of stand-up. His performing future laid elsewhere.
Many stunt performers come from a martial arts background that allows them to deliver the needed action sequences on film with authenticity. Manning’s path instead included stints in athletics that proved similarly befitting. He exceled in track and field, and has played hockey since he was 4 years old. When he was young, his grandfather gave him a unicycle that sharpened his balance early on, and Manning also participated in dancing, horseback riding and dirt biking.
“I used to love driving anything and fast,” he said. “So with all that, it gave me some very great skills that I learned to perfect for what I ended up doing later in life.”
Acting, though, came before stunts. Manning was initially steered to break into the business by taking extra work. One of his very early roles came in 1987 where he played a gang member on the award-winning CTV crime drama, “Night Heat.” A year later, Manning played a rioter on an award-winning CBC series called “Street Legal.” That inception to filmmaking was all Manning needed to discover his true passion.
On TV, he would go on to act in William Shatner’s “TekWar,” Paul Haggis’ “Due South,” HBO’s Golden Globe nominated “Gotti,” Fox’s hit “Goosebumps” series, the Stephen King, Emmy-winning mini-series, “Storm of the Century” and more. Manning got his start in film acting in 1994 when he played prisoner characters in both “Car 54, Where Are You?” with David Johansen and John C. McGinley, and in “Trapped in Paradise” with Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey. He would go on to act in the cult comedy classic “Half Baked” starring Dave Chappelle, in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” and in “The Hurricane,” from seven-time Oscar nominated producer-director Norman Jewison (“Fiddler on the Roof,” “Moonstruck,” “Jesus Christ Superstar”).
In “The Hurricane” – that stars Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who was wrongfully imprisoned for murder – Manning played a prison guard and shared scenes with Washington. In one on-screen instance, Carter meets Canadians in prison for the first time who are trying to help him. Carter gets mad and tries to leave his table when Manning’s character gets in his way and assures him to relax.
“It was a nice, moving scene,” Manning said. “It was a pleasure to work with him and of course having Norman Jewison direct me. It was a big thrill working and acting for Mr. Jewison.”
Manning’s stunt performing career is littered with coveted credits both on TV and the big screen. He got started with stunts in 1993 on CBS’ Gemini-nominated action series, “Top Cops.” Since then, Manning has performed, rigged, coordinated and doubled stunts for shows such as FX’s “The Strain,” the CW’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Syfy’s “Defiance,” History’s “Gangland Undercover,” the CW’s Emmy-nominated “Nikita,” Syfy’s “Alphas” and more. Manning has most recently performed stunts for the independent action film, “Gridlocked,” starring “Prison Break” star Dominic Purcell. He’s also done stunts for and plays an assassin in NBC’s forthcoming “Taken” prequel series based on the film franchise that starred Liam Neeson.
Stunt coordinator/performer Brian Jagersky has worked on more than 100 different films and TV series including “The Incredible Hulk,” “300” and “X-Men.” Jagersky and Manning have collaborated in delivering stunts for several productions, namely “Shoot ‘Em Up,” “Pompeii” and for the Emmy-nominated CW action series, “Nikita.”
For “Nikita,” Jagersky served as stunt coordinator and said, “Carson performed stunts in many key scenes in the show, demonstrating his extraordinary prowess in precision driving and fighting skills. One of his most notable action scenes was a scene where he breaks into a house to look for someone. After stepping into a kitchen with all-glass windows, machine guns and explosions begin bursting the windows and Manning gets hit causing a big chest explosion, and then gets jerked across the room backwards into a large gas stove. This scene was incredibly performed and demonstrated his exceptional technique.”
Training and fine tuning the body is a necessity for stunt performing, but it doesn’t stop there. “As a stunt man, you always have to be training and keeping your body in tune and you have to have the skills to accomplish stunts that you are called upon to do,” said Manning.
Those types of skills showed up again with Manning’s work with TJ Scott, a 30-year, Canadian Screen Award winning director-writer-producer. Scott has directed hit shows such as “Orphan Black,” “Gotham,” “Spartacus,” “Longmire,” “Dark Matter” and many more.
Scott directed Manning in episodes of “The Strain” and “12 Monkeys.” “In “The Strain,” Scott said, “Mr. Manning performed wonderful stunt acting that totally brought the episodes to life with his natural way of simulating action. He played a father being harassed by a group of marauders who ends up getting away in a car with his family and crashes into stuff along the road. On the episode of “12 Monkeys,” Carson played a scientist who gets killed in a cross fire of an important scene. Mr. Manning is a stunt performer who has done wonders in both the film and television industry, and is certainly well-known and revered to come out of Canada.”
Manning has stunt doubled for many actors throughout his career including talents such as Hugh Jackman, Joe Penny, Graham Greene, Tim Daly, Victor Webster, Colm Feore, Scott Highland, Jay O. Sanders, John Shea and others.
“As a stunt double, I work very close with actors so they feel confident that they have a double who is going to make them look good, as well as be there for them when they need me,” he said. “Sometimes the lead actor will do his own stunts, so it is my job to make sure the actor is safe along with the stunt coordinator. I will make sure the actor is padded in case they have to fall down or if the actor is throwing a punch or taking a punch, I demonstrated the proper way to execute that without actually getting punched in the face, but make it look like it did happen.”
Combining Manning’s dual talents – stunt performing and acting – makes for an invaluable qualification when it comes to film and TV production that’s few and far between. It’s not often casting decision makers elect stunt performers for character roles, but the paradox is one defied by Manning’s career achievements. He brings a wealth of know-how from stunt perspectives and has also proven to be a talented asset as an actor, a notion that makes budgeting sense for producers.
“Being a good stunt performer who can act is great for a production,” Manning said, “as they save money by having an actor who can do his own stunts, as well they do not have to spend more money bringing in a separate double for the actor too.”
In looking back from when he was a boy watching movies and TV shows with his grandfather to where he’s ascended to today, Manning says, “All I can say is I love the business, I feel very fortunate and to be a part of it has been a thrill.”
The journey continues for Manning, who has been attaching to act and perform stunts for forthcoming projects in 2016 including writer Sebastian MacLean’s feature film, “Tuff,” writer-director Travis Grant’s “Time Man” and other exciting projects that are presently under wraps.
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