Category Archives: Television

Writer Guilherme Ribeiro has always aimed to make a difference in society

Guilherme Ribeiro has been writing since he was just a child. Growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, his marks in school were always best in the subjects of Portuguese, History and Geography, all writing based, constantly impressing his teachers with his compositions and use of words. It was always easier for him to write about something or draw a cartoon character rather than trying things in math or the sciences. Even at a young age, writing was his passion, and after getting his first computer at the age of eight, he started developing both his writing and online savvy. It was therefore a natural progression for him to eventually become an online content writer, and now he is one of Brazil’s best.

Ribeiro has impressed many with his writing in many mediums and genres. He has written news articles, travel blogs, and television documentaries. He has helped build up websites and has impressive social media knowledge. His work on the new music project Welocalize, as well as Mastercard Priceless Rio, Toxic Rio, and Globo TV network, just a few of the highlights of his esteemed career.

“I can see myself now in a highlight moment of my career. I found my way on writing about entertainment, music and content for e-commerce and I really believe that’s the way conventional writers will renew themselves and find another alternative to make money and get in touch with readers. I’m working for important clients, sometimes signing my name on articles, others just working with content editing, and creative input for online stores and apps,” said Ribeiro.

Before getting to this point, however, Ribeiro worked to earn the reputation he now has. Part of this involved his work with TV PUC and his award-winning show. The TV show Paternidade Ausente, Histórias Incompletas revealed an important issue for the Brazilian society and could open a discussion about paternity.

“Guilherme had good writing skills that could improve his journalistic knowledge during his time at TV PUC. He participated as a reporter in the most awarded TV show in TV PUC, so was an overall good and enriching experience,” said Carmen Petit, Ribeiro’s coordinator during his time at TV PUC.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Estatistic (IBGE), about 9 per cent of children born in 2008 were not registered. The following year, the Brazilian government undertook to zero the number of sub-registrations. They occur when a child is born and does not have the birth certificate made in the same year or within three months of the following year. The distance between the registries and the houses, a common problem in regions of North-Northeastern Brazil, helps to explain the occurrence of sub-registries. Another reason is the lack of knowledge of the free document. In addition, many children are late registered by the mother’s shame in assuming the father’s omission. Of every four birth certificates registered in the country, one does not have the father’s name. The percentage was estimated by the University of Brasilia (UnB), which crossed data of one hundred and eighty-three thousand certificates of notaries in the city and compared them with IBGE figures on children outside the marriage. Paternidade Ausente, Histórias Incompletas speaks about paternal recognition, paternity investigation, and the relationship between parents and children.

“This is such an important subject almost not explored by Brazilian media. When it was released, I was selected by my boss to be the reporter.  I was one of the producers and reporters, and we made the show from scratch, which was a huge thing for me at the time,” said Ribeiro. “We got so many good results. This TV show was the most awarded show in the history of TV PUC and I could believe I had future as a writer at this time. I learned a lot from my bosses and I wanted to use my skills and desire to make a difference and to create a good content for our society.”

As the reporter and producer of the TV show, Ribeiro was responsible for finding characters, collecting data from institutes, universities, doing the research, and helping to find the best lead for this compelling story. He wrote the script along with another reporter while being supervised by an editor chief. Content was aired by TV PUC in Pay TV, for educational and social communication purposes. The show is still available online, on the TV PUC website.

“When the show started winning awards, I felt I would have a promising future as a writer. We currently have four awards, two of them from a respectful academy for feature films in Brazil, Gramado Film Festival. It was such a pleasure to travel to this small town in the South part of the country to receive two awards, the Best Report of Brazilian University Television and the Best Video of the whole category of Brazilian University Television, both in the 18th edition of Gramado Cine Vídeo Festival in 2010,” Ribeiro described.

Now, almost eight years later with many successful projects on his resume, that initial success from his time at TV PUC was the beginning of Ribeiro’s outstanding career. He has always shown not only a dedication, but a passion for what he does, making him the extraordinary writer he is today.

Photo: Márcia Antabi (left), Guilherme Ribeiro (center), and Mariana Moreno (right) working with TV PUC

Writer-Producer Stuart Reid Sets New Standard for Kid’s TV

Writer-producer Stuart Reid’s appealing combination of talent, good humor and ambition has an unusual effect on just about every project he’s attached too. As soon as he joins a team, Reid’s high quality contributions typically elevate not only the task at hand, but also his role.

His first writing credit was for DHX Media and Nickelodeon’s Make It Pop, but since then, the charming Canadian has gone on to story edit, write or co-write nearly a dozen episodes of children’s television, develop original series for Sesame Street and NBCUniversal, and even been hired to simply write jokes, ‘punching up scripts’ on shows “looking for a little extra oomph in the comedy department”.

Earning industry-wide recognition is a characteristic aspect of Reid’s sure-footed career path, a journey that led him to film and television even before he finished school. “One of my first summer jobs as a teenager was with Corus Entertainment at Treehouse TV in Toronto,” Reid said. ”Working at Treehouse sort of piqued my interest and got me interested in television and production, and specifically kids. Next thing you know, cut to ten years later, and I’m living between Toronto and Los Angeles, staffing regularly and working with brands I grew up loving, like Doozers and The Jim Henson Company.”

For Reid, his professional life was firing on all cylinders. “It was a lifelong dream for me to work with Henson – a legendary brand with such a cherished and iconic history,” Reid said. “To me, it was a great accomplishment. The Doozers are those little green guys and gals from Fraggle Rock. The Doozers are always building, inventing things and engineering solutions to overcome the obstacles in front of them. There’s a real curriculum there, teaching kids to overcome adversity, and nurturing essential skills to help them creatively problem solve.”

From there, Reid continued to distinguish himself, working with writing partner Mark Purdy on an unannounced series for DHX Media and Mattel (the toy company). “Stuart is one of our primary writers,” story editor Shea Fontana said. “And he also one of the few writers that we could rely on to generate solid episode premises for a series. I knew I could always count on Stuart to deliver high quality, funny and entertaining stories. His work has been integral to our success.”

His gift for mastering the tricky balance of heart and comedy is Reid’s calling card, one that affords him many opportunities. It’s a comprehensive set of skills that allows him broad professional latitude. “Right now, now I writing on an upcoming show for Air Bud Entertainment, but mainly trying to find the time to develop more original material. It’s been a busy year.”

Reid always has one eye on the horizon, and he knows exactly what he wants. “I really enjoy working in animation, but really anything involving comedy that lets you flex the creative muscles. We love to play in big worlds with supernatural elements and larger than life stories. As long as there is heart and something real that makes our characters tick.” Reid said, “we’ve been writing on a lot of existing franchises or other people’s shows. Our ultimate goal is to get a series of our own on the air… Something original, in the truest sense of the word, that came from our tiny, tiny brains.”

Cinematographer Ernesto Pletsch travels to home country of Brazil for new show “Desterro”

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Dhruv Lapsia and Ernesto Pletsch on the set of Desterro

Ernesto Pletsch is one of the lucky few. Not only does he get to do what he loves every day, he is exceptionally good at it, and isn’t that the dream?

Originally from Porto Alegre, Brazil, Pletsch has seen success both domestically and abroad. Just last year, he worked on the pilot for the television series Desterro, a show in Florianópolis, Brazil. The series follows the investigations of two detectives in a witchery island located in southern Brazil.

Desterro is a thriller and crime story. My favorite genre to watch. I was very excited about the whole project and the ambition of it,” said Pletsch. “Looking back, I think that was my best experience as a cinematographer. I had a great team, working with people I already trust and felt confident with. In Brazil, I ended up meeting more awesome and talented people that were essential for this to work. Every day was a different challenge and learning to me, making Desterro a very special experience.”

Desterro was inspired in folkloric tales of the island Florianópolis. These folkloric tales were written, drawn and sculpted by a famous artist called Franklin Cascaes. A blend of witchery, mystery and gothic, creating great inspiration for Pletsch and the rest of the team.

“I loved shooting Desterro because everyone was putting their souls into the project. Everyone was doing their best. We had our moments of tension, but we also had those moments of euphoria, and when we called it a wrap and you could just see smiling faces around,” he said.

The pilot was shot during a five day time period in Santa Catarina. The people in the area had not had the opportunity to see a film production before, as the island is somewhat secluded. Pletsch and his team were viewed as true Hollywood guests, and the best treatment was offered.

DESTERRO, 2016. Mayanna Neiva (lead actress, star), Chico Caprario (actor), Dhruv Lapsia (1stAC) and me
Mayanna Neiva, Chico Caprario, Dhruv Lapsia, and Ernesto Pletsch on the set of Desterro

“Shooting in Brazil, as expected, had completely different rules, as in no rules,” Pletsch joked. “We had the freedom to do whatever we wanted to, shoot anywhere at any time. This was very exciting.”

While shooting, Pletsch was presented with the challenge of overcoming an obstacle he had no control over: the weather. Certain scenes would be completely prepared, and when it came time to shoot, it would become windy and rainy. Low tides made it difficult to carry boats to desired locations. Equipment would have to be moved and plans would have to change, but for Pletsch, a seasoned cinematographer, he says that is all part of the experience.

“It will always feel frustrating and disappointing at the time because you have a certain idea in mind, but it happens. You move on, and sometimes it comes out better than you originally thought,” he said.

According to Pletsch, shooting Desterro was different than a usual television show, saying it was shot like a movie. They had four days for twenty pages of script, which gave them a reasonable time for each scene. They took our time and made it day by day.

“Usually television shows would require more efficiency from the crew. On a film, we record five to seven pages of the script a day. For a television episode, it tends to go over ten pages. This can get pretty hectic, and sometimes you prioritize delivery over creativity. That’s how usually goes. In any production, you have to pick at least two sides of the triangle: price, quality and time. If they want something delivered fast, they better have money to accelerate the process. If you don’t have money, you may take time to do something good. But if you don’t have either money or time, you’ll probably end up with something of poorer quality,” he advised.

Despite the great success he saw on the show as the Director of Photography, Pletsch was first signed into this project as a gaffer. When he first became aware of the project, there was already an American cinematographer on board. Wanting to work in his native country, he took on the role of lighting technician, and offered to help the cinematographer understand Brazilian practices and translate for the Brazilian crew. However, three weeks before they were scheduled to shoot, the director, Mariana Má Thomé, approached Pletsch to take on the role of cinematographer, as the previous cinematographer could no longer do the role for personal reasons. Having already worked with Má Thomé before, and getting to truly work as a cinematographer in his home country, it all felt like destiny.

“I always like working with Ernesto because we combine the best of our abilities to make the perfect visual for the film. We get together references and break them down in visual palettes, styles and movement.
On set, our work is smooth. Most of it was already planned ahead, and I know I can trust him with his work. Ernesto loves what he does, and this can clearly be seen on screen. He is always striving for the best, and will work with all department heads to achieve the best picture. His work with light is spectacular, and for me, as a director, is lovely to see your vision on screen,” said Má Thomé.

The pilot premiered at Florianópolis, Brazil, on September 11, 2016. From there, they had two more public screenings, and had a lot of success with rave reviews from both locals and critics. Desterro is currently being negotiated with Brazilian and international networks.

Mike Goral’s narration of docuseries “Polar Bear Town” captivates audiences

Mike Goral has built his career in acting without the “lights, camera, action” experience. Instead, he works alone, in a small sound-proofed room, with only a microphone as his partner. Goral is a voice actor, and has narrated projects appreciated by millions, both in his home country of Canada and the United States.

While working in the industry for over twenty years, Goral has worked on promos and imaging products for some of the world’s most recognized companies, narrated television shows for some of the largest networks, and voiced segments for local radio stations that thousands listen to every single day. He is extremely versatile, and has genuine passion for what he does. While working for the television show Polar Bear Town for the Smithsonian Channel, Goral is able to do what he loves while continuously learning about something he knew nothing about, making each day completely different.

“I thought Polar Bear Town was a really cool story. I loved the script and the story. It’s always fun to work on a production that is well-planned. The production team was awesome and I was drawn to the project immediately. Nothing beats working with great people,” said Goral.

Polar Bear Town is a documentary series about a community of people in Churchill and Northern Manitoba, Canada that reside in a part of the continent where polar bears dwell at certain times of the year. People from all over the world travel to this remote community to get a close-up, in-person look at the mighty polar bear.

“I’ve heard stories about Churchill for years. It’s one of the most remote communities in Canada. I grew up in Southern Ontario, nowhere near Northern Manitoba, and the polar bear stories were legendary. I always heard that some people carried guns up there because of the imminent danger of bear attacks. I always thought it would be a cool place to visit, but haven’t made my way up there just yet,” said Goral. “I’ve learned so much about Churchill, Manitoba because of this show. I’ve experienced a different culture within my own native country. I found the people’s stories fascinating: people who make a living out of being tour guides for seeing polar bears, up-close in their natural habitat. I didn’t even know such careers existed. “

As the narrator for the show, Goral has what he describes as the unique privilege of telling a great story to a large audience of viewers. Each episode shows a different element to the story, and there are different tones in the episodes. There are parts where there is imminent danger, and Goral has to deliver his narration with a certain intensity. Then, there are parts where two of the cast members are arguing, which requires different cadence to his deliveries. The narration is key to the show’s success.

“The story takes a lot of different turns, and I have to use all that I have learned over the years to help make those make transitions when I am telling the story. It was a lot of fun, and it’s what I love to do,” he said.

Goral has now voiced the first season of Polar Bear Town, and he worked with director Jeff Newman on this most recent season. The two have a great sense of teamwork, as Goral describes the director as awesome, and a consummate professional.

“Jeff is very focused and would walk into our sessions knowing exactly what he needed done. He gave very clear direction, and was a lot of fun to work with. We shared a lot of laughs while working together too. The process was relaxed and enjoyable. I really hope to work with him again. Nothing beats good chemistry,” described Goral.

Newman agrees, and says working with Goral is fantastic and a lot of fun. As the director, he knows the importance of a voice actor, especially for a documentary type of show. Narration is pivotal to the telling of the story.

“Mike’s easy to work with, consistent, and has a great delivery. He takes direction really well and was able to give me exactly what I needed really fast,” said Newman. “This series has a wide range of reads to it, from scientific and informational, to intense adventure, to balls out fun. Mike was able to cover all the bases and provide the right tone in every scene.”

Despite discussing polar bears so frequently, Goral has found he is more scared of them than he once was, becoming more aware of how dangerous the bears are.

“There was one segment of the series that described the vicious attack of a local woman. She almost lost her life. I couldn’t imagine experiencing something like that. I think going through something like that can change a person forever,” said Goral.

While his subject matter might be harsh, the experience is a great one for Goral. Working on Polar Bear Town allows him to do what he loves on a regular basis, and although he is not featured on the screen, but rather through the speakers, fans appreciate the value that he adds to each episode.

 “I really enjoy it. When you are part of something you like, it’s a lot of fun. You get to be a part of something great. I just loved the way the series was produced. It was an awesome production team. They were true professionals, and that’s what made it such a pleasure,” he concluded.

You can watch full episodes of Polar Bear Town here.

Camera operator Mike Heathcote brings talent and artistry to Canadian television series Cardinal

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Michael Heathcote

It was when Michael Heathcote was a teenager that working with video cameras went from being a hobby to a viable career option. Growing up in Toronto, it was in a high school course when he realized the responsibility that comes when looking through a lens of a camera, having the power to shape how people see things. Since that moment, he has never looked back, and now he is an internationally successful camera and Steadicam operator.

Heathcote’s success did not come overnight. He has extensive training and a natural talent that have contributed to where he is today. He worked on the highly-anticipated Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale set to release this Spring, based off the famous book by Margaret Atwood. Last year, he also worked on the upcoming film Downsizing, directed by Academy Award winning director Alexander Payne, with an all-star cast of Matt Damon, Kristin Wiig, Bruce Willis, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, and Neil Patrick Harris. Currently, Canadians have the pleasure of seeing Heathcote’s artistry with a camera on the hit television show Cardinal.

“I am very proud of Cardinal. Everyone involved with the project worked incredibly hard and it’s nice to see critics and fans admiring and appreciating our work,” said Heathcote.

Cardinal is a six-part crime drama on Canadian television network CTV. It is an adaptation of the mystery novel Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt. It follows Detective John Cardinal as he attempts to catch a serial killer while also struggling to right past wrongs that could derail his investigation and end his career, as the case grows more violent and twisted, and the clock ticks down on the killer’s next victim.

“I loved the book and admire Steve Cosens, the cinematographer, and Director Daniel Grou who were also attached to the project. I knew with these two talented individuals and such an amazing story this would be a great TV series,” said Heathcote.

Cosens and Heathcote had worked together previously on feature film Mean Dreams, which was an Official Selection at some of the world’s top film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the Canadian Screen Award nominated series Rogue. Cosens, knowing the talent that Heathcote posses, asked him to join the Cardinal series as a Steadicam operator.

“I’ve known Michael for several years and have been fortunate enough to have hired him as my A-camera/Steadicam operator on more than one occasion.  His images consistently exhibit a very strong and unique sense of composition, and his Steadicam work is, hands down, the best I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked around the world in the industry for twenty years.  His framing is always rigorous and fully considered and his camera movement is consistently fluid, artful and full of grace,” said Cosens.

The series was filmed in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada in the middle of winter, when the average temperature is -4 to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. Battling these brutal conditions was worth it in the end, as the cold and harsh climate enhanced the mysterious aspects of the story.

“Equipment starts to fail and camera operating in knee deep snow is very physically demanding. It was very challenging but I had a lot of fun,” said Heathcote.

Working to achieve director Daniel Grou’s vision, Heathcote had his work cut out for him. Grou planned many uninterrupted single take Steadicam shots. Single take shots are very hard to design because there is no cut away. The shot has to be perfect from the start to finish and encompass everything the audience needs to see or hear to help tell the story.

“This is very unique, and Daniel would come up with these beautifully choreographed shots daily. There is one five minute Steadicam shot in particular that Daniel designed that begins outside a school, follows our lead actor John Cardinal up and down several flights of stairs, a shoot-out and chase sequence evolve and the shot ends up back outside where we began. It was incredibly challenging physically and mentally. There aren’t a lot of projects that you get an opportunity to camera operate a shot like this and it was an absolute honor Daniel and Steve trusted me to execute it. It is definitely one I will never forget,” Heathcote described.

Grou, who has over two and a half decades of experience working internationally in the entertainment industry, was immediately impressed by Heathcote’s talents. Despite working with many talented camera/Steadicam operators over his long and awarded career, Grou says working with Heathcote this one time was enough to try and bring him on to every one of the projects he works on.

“Mike is just a complete genius at what he does technically, but artistically is where he truly shines. He can interpret a director’s or a photographer’s vision and go beyond it to find a true soul; a true magic to the images he helps us create. He is in tune with actors’ movements, as well as their fragile, ineffable emotional state as they work through a scene. He is always at the right place and in the right moment as he accompanies them on their journey. He is a treasure,” said Grou.

 

Cardinal is on CTV Wednesdays at 10 pm, or you can catch up on the series, and see Heathcote’s outstanding work, here.

Maryanne Emma Gilbert shines bright in McDonalds Commercial

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Maryanne Emma Gilbert is from Calgary, Alberta.

Maryanne Emma Gilbert discovered her calling at a young age. She didn’t know she would fall in love with performing, but she saw her mother on film and thought she wanted to try it. As a shy child, there was a lot that could go wrong. But that is how she knew what she was meant to do; when she stepped onto the stage to perform in her first play, the nerves and shyness melted away, and a star was born.

Now, those days of camera shyness seem like a distant memory, even though the Calgary-born actress is only seven-years-old. Her career has taken off, and she is recognized around the country as being one of the best for her age. She has been nominated for two Joey Awards recognizing her acting abilities, and she has performed in commercials for Doritos and Canadian Tire. She has appeared in films such as Jewel Fools, Season’s Greetings, and the upcoming science-fiction flick Space Rippers.

“Acting is super awesome because I make tons of super cool new friends. Also the food is good. And people are really nice. And I like to tell my family to watch me in movies,” she said.

Despite all of this success, for Gilbert, the highlight of her young but blossoming career was when she appeared in a Canadian nationwide McDonalds commercial. The commercial appeared during the 2016 Summer Olympics, and millions of Canadians began to see Gilbert’s face regularly in their living rooms.

“My whole family in Quebec saw me at every Olympics commercial. My grandpas and grandmas said they saw me all the time at the Olympics commercial. They called me. So I got to talk to my grandparents, and my cousins and aunts and uncles too. They said they saw me. Even a stranger we were talking to recognized us, that was funny,” said Gilbert. “Also, my dad loves to eat McDonalds. He would eat there every day if he could. Also, there was a cow named cupcake.”

The commercial is one of McDonalds’ campaigns trying to show canadians that their food is Canadian. This one was Alberta beef. The commercial features a group of children going to a local farm to learn about cows.

“We got to learn how the beef gets to our plate at mcdonalds and how the cows are treated and where the cows live. We meet the cows and the farmer and we run in the field. There were many things I did not know. It was interesting to see cows. I live in the city and rarely see cows that close,” said Gilbert.

During the commercial, the children follow around the farmer and run around in a field. The director, Tom Feiler, was impressed with Gilbert’s natural instincts as a performer. At one point, when she was supposed to be running around the field with the other children, Gilbert stopped to pick up some flowers, a moment that made it into the final cut and one of the highlights of the commercial.

“I only wanted the best and brightest young actors to be part of the shoot. What struck me the most about Maryanne was her ability to provide a lively performance, while still maintaining a great degree of focus, which increased the productivity of the other kids as well,” said Feiler. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to have directed Maryanne in her leading role.”

Even though she had to battle the cold weather that occurred the day of the shoot, Gilbert’s professionalism and genuine passion for what she is doing shines on screen. For her, it isn’t about just getting to try new things and learn something, it is about who she is with along the way.

“I love meeting new friends. This commercial was with other kids. I met a good friend, Victoria. The other kids were super nice. The crew was really nice too. It was not easy as it was cold that day but everybody was still really nice,” she said. “Also we got to run around lots. I like to run. And it was great to discover a farm. I don’t have one.”

You can see Gilbert in the McDonalds commercial here.

LIVI ZHENG EARNS HER REPUTATION AS AN INTERNATIONAL FILMMAKER

Many of us from the West are mesmerized by the martial arts. Though we might pretend otherwise it’s mostly about self-protection peppered with a dash of “I’m cool.” The difference is that those from the part of the world in which this discipline originated and who truly understand it is this; it’s a way of life. There is a mastery of self that transfers to all parts of one’s life. It becomes a lifestyle rather than an expertise with combat. Yes, the physical benefits are there but the mental and spiritual one’s supersede them. Livi Zheng is a respected producer and director began her career as a stuntwoman and actress due to her mastery of martial arts on the enormously popular Asian television program Admiral Zheng He. Immersing herself in the production world, she began assisting in all of the different department until she became the assistant to the producer. Quickly thereafter she was working on scripts, doing research, prepping for shoots, and finally became the producer herself. The immensely popular program about Admiral Zheng He led to a film about this historic Chinese figure. As a testament to the benefits of her martial arts training, Livi assessed what was needed to conquer the production world; achieving great acclaim in the ever-expanding Asian TV and film industry; no small achievement for even the most accomplished professionals.

Livi is originally from Indonesia but moved to Beijing, China with her brother to further pursue martial arts training. While her excellence in the discipline would lead her to working on the hugely popular TV show about one of the most respected historical figures of China, it would also take her life down an entirely different path. The Admiral Zheng He TV series is a massive hit in Indonesia; to simply be an actor on the show would already register as a great success for Livi. But she was so interested in the workings she saw behind the camera that she immediately began the pursuit of assisting in the many different parts of production. Her dedication to learning every aspect of production paid off when she began her role as a producer on the program. In her role on the series as Suhita she was a Javanese queen regnant and the sixth monarch of the Majaphit empire (the biggest empire in Southeast Asia), ruling from 1429 to 1447. Somewhat mirroring that character, Livi oversaw productions that took place in China, Indonesia, and Thailand. It’s poetic that Zheng would learn the lifestyles of each of her people (the cast and crew) and then rule (produce) with the knowledge and empathy gained.

Livi’s work was so successful and lauded by the viewing audience as well as the production company that she was asked to produce the film inspired by the TV program’s success; The Empire’s Throne. Her abilities as an actor together with her skill as a producer, handling the production schedule and budget, made Livi the two most valuable people involved in the series.

Managing hundreds of extras and animals on set with lead actors is quite a feat for any producer. Zheng is frank about the fact that The Empire’s Throne was all about spectacle with expansive vistas and huge numbers of foot soldiers and cavalry. Recalling one scene she states, “There was a very big fight scene with a many horses and challenging stunts. We prep it ahead of time but there was still so many details to work out on the day of; such as getting all the stunt people and extras in the period costumes and props. I hired an extra crew just to get everyone ready faster. I wanted to maximize the shooting time rather than using it to prep the hundreds of people involved in front of the camera.”

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The Empire’s Throne is a colossal dramatic action film, based on the story of the empire Majapahit, the most powerful Empire in Southeast Asia. The film tells the story of the epic struggle for the throne of this kingdom. It features a huge cast, stunning Southeast Asian sets, costumes, locations, and music. This epic period piece possesses a unique cultural aspect. Its spectacular production design is extravagant and unique in the eyes of US audiences, so much so that it garnered an official selection in Boston International Film Festival. It’s of great relevance that one of the stars of both the TV series Admiral Zheng He and The Empire’s Throne took note of Livi’s professionalism and excellence on these productions. In addition to being a star of the show, Saifullah Yusuf (also known as Gus Ipul Job) also has the distinction of being the Indonesian State Minister for National Development Planning (2004-2007) and Deputy governor of East Java, Indonesia (2009- Current) …meaning that he understands the historical accuracy and authentic recreation of these tales. as Saifullah Yusuf related,

 

”Livi Zheng is a talented and dedicated producer who has shown herself capable of executing sophisticated productions with significant budgets. On the TV series Admiral Zheng He (Laksamana Cheng Ho) and the feature film The Empire’s Throne she coordinated a cast of over 1000 extras along with hundreds of horses while shooting in three different countries. In the action genre her personal experience as a multiple award-winning martial artist gives her unique insight into the stories she produces. Not only was I impressed by her ability to access her prodigious skills and experience, but also by her devotion to depicting realistic portrayals of the locations and historic periods in her films. To this end she spent a good deal of time gathering research from museums around China to add authenticity to the production.”

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Director/producer Nirattisai Kaljaruek has worked with American household names such as Nicholas Cage and Bon Jovi. Regarding his experience working with Livi on these multiple productions, he comments

 

“Livi’s upbeat spirit and strong vision were an inspiration to our cast and crew, helping them realize the tone and spirit of the film. Her energy and passion are infectious. She manages to oversee everything with compelling detail, while paying attention to budgetary and scheduling constraints. Having grown up in Indonesia and China, and then continuing her education in the United States, she brings a unique multicultural perspective to all of her creative work.”

 

Zheng’s work on the productions concerning this popular historic figure continued as producer on the feature film Legend of the East. The film was a huge hit with notable achievements, including:  Nominated at the Madrid International Film Festival for Best Foreign Language Feature Film –Legend of the East (Livi Zheng and Nirattisai Kaljaruek), Best Director of a Foreign Language Feature Film (Nirattisai Kaljaruek), won Best Actor for Foreign Film and Best Supporting Actress for Foreign Film. With her successful directing credits adorning her resume  Zheng continues to expand her role as a respected filmmaker, more recently producing and directing the suspenseful Victorian period-piece The Lost Soul. Livi is currently fielding several  offers in the US.

(Title featured image courtesy-of-marie-claire-indonesia-by-irfan-hartanto-2)