Category Archives: Spotlight

Actor Lucas Zaffari Overcomes All Challenges While Dubbing

Brazilian actor Lucas Zaffari

There are many different types of acting, but the most universally recognized can often be when one is standing on a stage or in front of a camera. For Brazilian actor Lucas Zaffari, a different type of acting challenge is presented to him on a regular basis.

Zaffari dubs Spanish telenovelas into Portuguese, his native language. Dubbing, also known as revoicing, is the replacement of the voices of the original actors with a different performer in another language. To do so, Zaffari receives the video and script with all the timelines of exactly where his character speaks and reacts in an episode. He then studies those lines and goes to a sound studio to record the revoicing of his character.

“As an actor, specifically for film and television, you get all you can from circumstances that are happening around you and in your imagination. When it’s me, I try to absorb as much stimuli as I can from my acting partner, location, sometimes music, smells, senses,” he said. “But in a sound studio all you have is a cubicle with foam and the recordings that you see on the screen, and on top of that, all you have to show what your character is feeling is through your voice. It is challenging.”

Zaffari is currently cast in three telenovelas with Voxx Studios. These seven to nine month commitment are the Colombian Allá Te Espero which is soon to be completed, Venezuela’s Piel Salvaje, and the Venezuelan American Voltea Pá Que Te Enamores.

Although it is more common for Portuguese dubbing studios to be in Miami and Brazil, Voxx set up their studio in LA because they believe that is where the most talented actors are located.

“I’m really honored to know that after I joined Voxx Studios, they continued to hire me on all of their new telenovelas. It’s a great opportunity to voice different characters,” said Zaffari.

The sound booth where Zaffari works is a cubicle about eight feet by eight feet covered in foam so the sound does not reverberate, a microphone, a headphone, two televisions (one for the video and one for the lines with the proper time codes). There is also a sound-proof window that goes through to a different room where the sound engineer and the director are located.

“It can be quite hard,” described Zaffari. “You need to match your voice to the mouth of the original actor. Sometimes the Spanish is too fast and it is hard to match everything in Portuguese to that pace. Sometimes we have to change it to what people would understand instead of a perfect translation, without changing the meaning, of course.”

Zaffari describes acting as the hardest job in the world. He says that feeling as someone else is extremely challenging, but with dubbing, you do not have the capability to pull from your surroundings and react instantly to the people around you.

“Dubbing is not on location,” he said. “You are in a cubicle. You don’t have another actor to pull emotion from. Your partner is a microphone and a television. The senses I use when I am acting

I can’t use when I am dubbing. I am not there. You need to put all of those things you would normally use into your microphone and just use your voice.”

Despite the challenges that dubbing can present, there are many parts that Zaffari enjoys.

“In a way it is less stressful because you are not on camera so you can just wear your comfortable clothes,” he said. “But I really like to put a little bit of my interpretation into a character, even though it is another actor’s performance.”

Zaffari said that when he first started dubbing, he was conflicted on how to approach each character.

“Should I dub as my personal interpretation of what that character is going through? Or as the original actor’s interpretation?,” he said, describing his initial thought process. “But to me now, it is a mixture of those two things.”

Leila Vieira, Zaffari’s dubbing director for Piel Salvaje, thinks Zaffari’s mixture is working out very well.

“One of the main qualities an actor has to have in order to be good at dubbing is being able to recognize and mimic pace,” described Vieira. “Lucas has an incredible ability for listening to the dialogue and being able to reproduce it in Portuguese with perfection, making the process fast at the same time as high quality with his great acting skills. Aside from recognizing pace, acting with only your voice can be a challenge that Lucas masters with flying colors.”

Vieira believes that it is not only Zaffari’s inherent talent that makes him successful at dubbing, but also his personality as a whole.

“Lucas is the nicest person you could ever work with,” she said. “Not only he has an amazing working ethic, but he also has a great personality that accepts critiques and understands the adjustments, which makes the whole process fast and productive.”

Sebastian Zancanaro, another director at Voxx, describes Zaffari as the ultimate professional.

“I cast Lucas as Francisco (Pacho) in the dramatic soap opera Alla Te Espero and I was mesmerized by his commitment to our team and by his stamina. His unique skill as a Portuguese speaker actor in conjunction with his acting abilities make him one of our most valuable cast members,” said Zancanaro. Lucas has also being cast as Pedro in our upcoming soap opera project entitled Our Family, our longest and most prized project to date.

Zaffari says that dubbing with Voxx is a great working environment.

“It is so much fun,” he said. “There are so many nice and talented people around, which makes this creative work much more richer.”

Zaffari has no plans on slowing down.

This versatile actor has already started dubbing the new telenovela Somos Família (Our Family) as Pedro.

Award-winning photographer Tom Penpark Delivers for Leading Brands and Publications

Photographer Tom Penpark specializes in panorama, natural landscapes, architecture, electronics, food, people and objects.


Tom Penpark has been at it since he was 6 years old.

“I was inspired by my father to become a photographer,” he said. “He carried his camera with him all the time. His main subject was my mom. One day, he handed me my first camera, and I’ve enjoyed taking pictures ever since.”

And since that initiation, it’s been a pattern of success, recognition, accolades and honors stemming from Penpark’s world-class photographic brilliance.

His outstanding work has been published with The Huffington Post, The Telegraph: UK, Discovery Channel, SF Chronicles: San Francisco,, Photographer’s Forum Magazine, Popular Photography Magazine China, Chicago Metropolitan Association for Education of Young Children, and American Photographic Artists (APA) San Francisco, to name a few.

His photography clients have consisted of well-known brands like Adidas, Google, Crossroad Trading, Monster Products, and Rodeo Realty Beverly Hills. Additionally, Penpark has demonstrated his retouching skills with clients such as Men’s Warehouse, Levi’s, Old Navy, Peet’s Coffee, T-Mobile, Charlotte Russe, Airbnb, Adobe, Nike, See’s Candies, and Gillette.

Originally from Bangkok, Penpark was used to photographing communities where the scenery around him was all quite similar. Exploring America allowed Penpark to expand his photographic imagination and immerse himself into the realm of panoramic photography. “My first trip to the U.S. started with Yosemite National Park in 2007. I had my old Canon Rebel with me. I learned that I could not capture what I saw in one frame and I couldn’t show what I actually saw through my pictures. That’s when I began learning about panoramic photography and started shooting panorama in order to get exactly what I saw,” Penpark said.

While panorama remains one of Penpark’s highest interests, he thoroughly enjoys photographing many different subjects. From architecture, electronics to food, people and objects, and natural landscapes, his photography spans a wide range of topics.

Photo: Tom Penpark.

Regarding his versatile style of capturing, Penpark commented, “If I had to pick a favorite subject, it would have to be either landscape photography or people in landscapes. I enjoy traveling to places I’ve never been and conversing with and learning from new people. I love capturing people’s emotions and the perfections made visible in still life through my photography. Having to hike up to new destinations and dedicate copious amounts of time in order to ensure I get the perfect landscape photography always inspires me and constantly pushes me to work beyond my limits.”

Over the past ten years, Penpark has dedicated his time to exploring the different avenues of photography. “At the moment, I think my photography goes in two directions,” Penpark explained. When he has the time, Penpark continues to pursue his love of landscape photography through various road trips. “When it comes to my personal photography, I think the beauty of my photographs is the perfect of the imperfection. However, for my commercial photography, I focus specifically on perfection and what my clients are looking for.”

Early on in his career, Penpark worked as an Assistant Photographer to some of the biggest names in the business. For several years, he assisted talents such as Shalom Ormsby, Trinette Reed, Chris Gramly and David Fischer.

“I have learned all of my skills from others,” said Penpark. “My processes of planning, shooting, post-processing, and printing are all of general knowledge, the same as other photographers. Personally, I plan all of my shoots when I can. Long preparation and a short execution are always better than no plan at all for me. I will go the extra mile to find the best times and locations that will allow me to obtain the best final images as a result.”

Penpark has collaborated since 2008 with John Lund, a stock photography phenomenon, founding member of Blend Images and current APA SF Board Member.

“Tom’s background in art direction and design is apparent in his work, his Photoshop abilities are deep and professional, and his understanding of Lightroom and digital capture is extensive. Tom is more than just a talented photographer; he is a problem solver as well,” Lund said of Penpark’s many talents.

After earning recurring awards and recognition as a remarkable photographer by the American Photography Association (APA) early on in his career, Penpark was selected as a member and actively participates as leading voice in their events.

The APA is a non-profit organization built by photographers for photographers. It exists to provide business tools and creative inspiration in order to aid artists in the artistic process of photography and maintaining a stable, profitable business.

Over the years, many of Penpark’s images have been accepted by APA judges and exhibited throughout several selective shows such as the APA SF Something Personal Exhibition and the APA SF Selected Works Exhibition. In 2011, Penpark was awarded a Judges’ Fourth Place Award from the APA San Francisco Something Personal Exhibition.

“APA is a well-respected community for professional photographers. It was an honor to be selected for the APA Judges’ Fourth Place Award in their exhibition that took place in 2011,” Penpark said. In 2012, he acted as APA’s guest speaker at the Apple Store in San Francisco for their Creative Professional Series.

“After that,” Penpark continued, “my pictures were selected for their exhibitions almost every year.” In 2015, he was selected to be an APA judge. “As a professional photographer, this is a great honor.”

National Board Member of the APA and Chairman of the Board APA of San Francisco Chapter, Christian Peacock, commented of Penpark’s valued skills, “His talents and dedication to the excellence of his craft were evident in his examples of imagery that cannot be seen with the naked eye. I highly endorse Tom Penpark as an outstanding member of the APA and am looking forward to seeing his future accomplishments in our industry.”

Photography is a profession that requires both creative and technical abilities. Throughout the years, Penpark’s spent proving himself as an esteemed photographer. His work clearly showcases his mastery of having acquired both.

Photo: Tom Penpark

“Being a professional photographer requires a lot of investment in technical and artistic education,” Penpark said. “Having a solid foundation of the arts, painting and the history of photography are necessary qualities. However, at the same time, having excellent camera and lighting skills, knowing how to retouch images, and being knowledgeable of digital printing and digital assets management is important, too. Digital photography is half art and half tech. As a photographer, I can never stop learning and exploring.”

For the 2014-15 and 2016-17 editions, Penpark was selected and published as one of the Best Ad photographer’s for Leuzer’s Archive Magazine, a leading magazine for innovative ideas, photography and illustration. The honor is among the best in professional photography.

“The photos in Archive Magazine inspired me to become a full time photographer,” Penpark said. “I am proud and honored to be part of the selected group of photographers from around the world.”

In 2011, Penpark first initiated his role as a Contributing Stock Photographer at Getty Images and Blend Images.

Based out of Seattle Washington, Getty Images is a stock photography agency that is known for supplying business and consumers with an archive of over 80 million still, stock images and illustrations, and more than 50,000 hours of stock film footage. Similarly, Blend Images is an international commercial stock agency, founded by some of the world’s most successful photographers and industry veterans.

Penpark continues to successfully contribute his work to these stock agencies to this day and is now a Photoshop Production Artist with Schawk! on-site at Apple Headquarter in Cupertino.

Penpark formerly worked as the Digital Media Group Manager and Lead Photographer for Monster Cable Products, Inc., a company known for it’s manufacturing of audio and video cable products. The photographer fondly remembers one of his most recent shoots with the company – a concert at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“It was a Michael Jackson Tribute Concert,” Penpark said. “I was given the opportunity to take pictures of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Christina Milian, and the Jacksons. I was their official photographer at that event. One of the best moments was when my prints were signed by Jermaine Jackson, one of my idols.”

At Monster Cable Products Inc., Penpark worked under Ryan Notch, the Former Digital Media Group Manager of the company. “Tom is the real deal,” Notch said. “Not only is he an incredibly skilled technician at his craft, but he is amazing at concept and creative as well. I have been extremely fortunate to have Tom as the rock on my team here at Monster. He is very hardworking, dependable, and self-driven. Best of all, Tom is truly a pleasure to be around. His thoughtful and eager-to-help attitude has always made him an integral team player within our department. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Tom. I would, without hesitation, recommend him for any and all opportunities that come his way.”

In 2013, Penpark had the opportunity to meet Hossein Farmani, the founder and president of the legendary “The Lucie Awards,” Co-Founder of the Palm Springs Photo Festival and an all-around icon of photography. “I showed my prints to Hossein and they were selected to be a part of the 180th Anniversary of Thai – U.S. Exhibition,” Penpark said.

Penpark’s photos were showcased in the same exhibition as other world-class famous photographers such as James Nochtwey, Steve McCurry, Greg Gorman, Colin Finlay, Benya Hegenbarth and Douglas Kirkland.

Penpark’s photographs have also been featured in a solo exhibition at Google Headquarters and recognized as an award winner in the Travel Category of the Top 50 Sony World Photography Awards of 2015.

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Powerful Actress Davina Cole Commands the Stage

Michael Wharley.
Actress Davina Cole shot by Michael Wharley

Since its inception, the stage has served three purposes above all else: to entertain, to recount important events, and to impart morals and lessons on an audience. In her years as an actor, Davina Cole has proven her acumen for all three. With a focus on drama, her work on screen and in theater masterfully encompasses the whole of the human condition through stories that are both fascinating and compellingly layered.

A phenomenal creative force whose talent lights up every project she touches, her work in film has long been acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Among Cole’s most noted roles was that of Soalaih Ez in the 2011 film “When Soukhina Disappeared.” After a young woman vanishes, a journalism student begins investigating the case in this suspenseful drama.

“Soalaih Ez was one of the last people to see the missing girl, and she gives her account of how Soukhina touched her life. It was an emotional piece and I really enjoyed playing a character with so many layers,” Cole said. “Soalaih was key to the getting an account of the final movements of Soukhina.”

The film was regarded as a cinematic triumph for Cole, whose character was integral to the chilling tale. “When Soukhina Disappeared” was directed by Francoise Ellong, whose work on the film “W.A.K.A.” would go on to win the 2014 Jury Prize at the Festival du Cinema Africain Khouribga.

Cole’s immense skillset is not simply limited to acting, however, which she proved with her one-woman play “All the Colours.” Though she was born in London, Cole’s family hails from war-torn Sierra Leone, and those roots were critical in her writing and performing of the play.

“I felt this role took me to another level in my performance skills. It was, however, very draining at times playing a mother who had lost so much,” Cole said, describing the intimate familiarity with the subject matter that led her to write the play. “Having been through my own personal experience of loss and heartache, I was able to bring that to the role and give a truthful performance.”

“All the Colours” tells the gripping story of a mother, Salimatu, living through the horrifying decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone. Cole based her performance in the one-woman play on her mother’s own experience in the country. Cole’s writing was lauded by critics, and her acting earned her a 2014 nomination for Best Actress at the International One-Man Show Solo Festival in the U.K.

A natural choice to fill the shoes of strong, female lead characters, Cole’s performance in “1867” was a brilliant display of just how at home she is on the stage. Cole played Delilah McAndrew, from whose perspective the semi-biographical play tells the fascinating and inspirational story of Madame C.J. Walker, the first American woman to become a millionaire entrepreneur. Walker, who did this despite the added adversity of being a black woman in the post-Civil War South, employs Delilah, the first generation in her family to be born after the abolition of slavery.

“She was such a strong black woman in a time when black women were regularly looked down upon, and to have that level of success at that period of time is truly amazing,” Cole said, describing the connection she felt to Delilah. “As a character she had many layers and I was really able to explore the role.”

Through these roles and her countless others, Cole has established herself as one of the most powerful actors in the industry today. A dramatist of the highest order, she has used the craft not as a soapbox, but rather as a medium through which to remind us of the things we all too often forget. Where lecturers and historians may fall short of imparting these critical lessons, Davina Cole knows how to use the stage and screen to captivate our imaginations with the finesse and magic of a lifelong storyteller.

Production Designer Spotlight: Hank Mann

Production Designer Hank Mann
Production Designer Hank Mann

The visual component of a film production is an aspect often taken for granted. Combining elements of creativity with the ability to adapt the surrounding environment to fit whatever a film, television or commercial project calls for, the production designer is responsible for setting the cinematic stage. As the main head of the art department, the most labor-intensive aspect of the entire production crew, a good production designer needs to be as much of a leader as they need to be a visionary, while also being mindful of the production budget.

Hank Mann possesses all of these qualities, and then some. With an international upbringing that included the UK, Australia, and Canada, Mann’s career as a production designer has made him a sought-after asset to international film and commercial crews.

Mann’s reputation exploded early in his career as the production designer on a commercial for Ford Motor Company starring David Duchovny. In the production he was responsible for recreating an iconic American diner with a retractable roof (for filming) out in the UK countryside. The project was a success and since then Mann has designed sets on location around the world for clients such as L’Oreal, Infiniti, Audi, Barclay’s Premier League, Benjamin Moore paints and much more.

He is also a sought-after production designer in the music video industry—in fact, he was the production designer on the video for “How You Remind Me” by Nickelback, the most-played song of the decade for 2000-2009 (Neilson Research).

The video garnered over 135,000,000 views on YouTube, and the band went onto receive four Billboard Awards and four Juno Awards for the hit song. In the video Mann created a set that fused crisp modern elegance in the set design to a pre gothic-looking cinder block frame. The result was a contrast without prior labels, and sets a distinct tone for one of the most successful music videos in history.

For much of his career Hank was based in Vancouver, British Columbia, a hotbed for diverse film projects. Throughout his time there he was able to design a whole spectrum of challenging sets and locations, allowing for a rare type of versatility in his background.

“In Los Angeles a Production Designer will specialize into a niche field such as period pieces, sports movies, or science fiction, because there is enough volume of projects in each field being made to support niche skills,” he said.

“In Vancouver I have found that the diversity of experiences on all the projects over the years has made my problem solving skills quite acute. One day it’s designing a yurt village to be built in the mountains, the next it’s designing a kid’s bedroom circa 1981.”

Mann has a gift to be able to transform a setting to look like somewhere on the other side of the world. On a recent Arby’s commercial Mann turned Cape Town, South Africa into a street the looked identical to a main street straight of the USA.

For a Subaru commercial Mann and his team created a gigantic tornado-like storm with additional special effects such as explosions, flying boats, wind and rain – all on a perfectly sunny day. He has even created a prehistoric village deep in the rainforest on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island for the award-winning Discovery Channel docuseries Before We Ruled The Earth.

As important as the creative aspect of production design is the managerial side of things. In that role Mann has earned his reputation as a good delegator, able to synthesize the many moving parts of an art department such as set design, costumes, props, special effects, and more, all while keeping the producers happy and on budget and co-creating a vision in sync with the DOP and director.