From Commercials to International Ad Campaigns, Model Vlada Verevko Is a Knock Out!

 

When the average person thinks of modeling, images and ideas that usually come to mind revolve around fashion, travel and gorgeously, slender women. The modeling industry is highly competitive and highly selective, with strict guidelines such as height (5’8” to 5”11”), weight (90 to 120 lbs) and age (16-21) being factored in just for a young hopeful to be considered. Education and personality are only secondary in this aesthetically driven industry, and with 99% of the focus being centered on beauty, it’s no wonder that most perceive models as unintelligent. However, Vlada Verevko is the exception to this rule. She’s a prime example that a model can have both brains and beauty.

Vlada Verevko is not your run-of-the-mill model. In fact modeling was never a consideration for this Russian born beauty, at least not originally.

“I didn’t exactly choose modeling. Modeling chose me. I was always skeptical about it as a career and for that reason for the first few years I was only doing it part-time while getting my degree,” says Verevko.

Obtaining a psychology degree was always Verevko’s number one priority, and she stayed the path until her degree was completed before actually giving her all to the modeling world. As a travel-lover, modeling has given Verevko the opportunity to explore the world on a scale that psychology research never could.

The modeling industry first took notice of Verevko back in 2002 when she won the Miss European beauty pageant in Russia, which led her to sign with Ultima Models, one of Moscow’s leading modeling agencies, subsequently after.

Since that fateful encounter nearly 14 years ago, Verevko has certainly made a name for herself in the industry as the face of an illustrious list of international ad campaigns, as well as a featured model in national television commercials. For the past six years Verevko has been represented by Elite Models, the same agency that’s helped household names such as supermodels Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen, Tyra Banks, and Adriana Lima skyrocket to international success.

Standing at 5’8″, Verevko’s height barely made the cut for the runway, considering that most female runway models are around 5’11”, but whatever she lacks in height she makes up for in other areas.

Despite such limitations, she has strutted down the catwalk for big name designers like Louis Vuitton, Betsey Johnson, Nine West, Agent Provocateur, and L’Oreal, proving that she can captivate an audience in a designer’s new line better than anyone.

It’s as a print model however, where Verevko has clearly set herself apart from the masses. Verevko’s natural and mesmerizing beauty has garnered her much attention as a leading face in the makeup industry through her work for companies such as Sephora, Sally Hanson, Dermaglow, Elizabeth Arden, and many other iconic brands.

Aside from Verevko’s intelligence and energetic personality, her versatility in front of the camera has been a driving force in her career. She prides herself on her chameleon-like ability to adapt and transform into whatever character a shoot calls for. Her work in front of the camera ranges from sporty to classy, and fierce to seductive.

“In front of the camera I feel comfortable doing things that I probably wouldn’t do in real life,” she adds. This approach has earned her a number of editorial spreads in high-profile magazines such as Vogue UK, Kismet, Elevate, Clin D’oeil and T&M magazine.

Recently Verevko has shifted gears and has been working steadily on TV commercials for Herbal Essence, Venus, Mr. Clean and Quaker Oats. Her look has also landed her a plethora of roles in television and film productions, appearing on television shows over the years such as USA Network’s “Suits,” The CW’s “Beauty and the Beat,” Fox’s “The Listener” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” as well as the films “A Beautiful Side,” “Hacker,” “White Blossoms” and “Kalore.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Q & A with Leading Film Editor Sunghwan Moon

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Korean Film Editor Sunghwan Moon

Today Korean-born film editor Sunghwan Moon is living out his childhood dream of working on large-scale narrative film productions, but, as is the way with turning most worthwhile dreams into reality, his rise to the top didn’t come without a lot of hard work and effort on his part.

After spending several years as a lead editor for movie and TV series trailers including the ones for the film Kong-Zi, the series Iris and the promos for the film 71- Into The Fire and those for the Disney and Disney Jr. channels in Korea, Moon moved to Los Angeles to attend American Film Institute, a prestigious conservatory program that only accepts a maximum of 14 film editors from around the world every year. A major stepping-stone in his career, Moon received his master’s in film editing from AFI, which allowed his to make further connections in the American film industry while making his mark as a leading editor for films.

Prior to working as the editor of the films And The Wind Falls, Tracks, Head Trauma, Together Alone, The Lost Generation and many others, Moon was already well-versed in editing hours of footage into seamless stories for the screen. Earlier on in his career he established himself as a leading international music video editor through his work on the videos for Loveholics’ song “A Good Tain Knows,” Winterplay’s “Cha-Cha,” Shin Seung-hun’s “Love of Iris,” Baek Ji-young’s “Don’t Forget Me,” and K-pop artist Standing Egg’s songs “Kiss Me,” “MAM-E-GEOL-LYEO,” and “NA-O-NEUL-TTA-RA.”

The unfortunate truth is that many people sit around and wait for their dreams to happen to them, believing that their fated break into what ever industry they wish will just come if they are patient– Moon’s story is the exact opposite. Instead, his is one of perseverance and tenacity. After years of slowly working his way to the top and never losing sight of his end goal, all of his dedication paid off. To find out more about how Sunghwan Moon got to where he is today make sure to check out our interview below!                                                                                                         

Where are you from? 

SM: I spent my childhood moving around until third grade due to my father’s job. We lived in a mid sized town called Gwangju, Korea until I was in high school, and then I moved to Seoul for university. After serving three years in the Air Force, I moved to Oakland, CA, before moving back to Seoul where I worked for a while and got married. Now I’m living in the US again.

How and when did you first get into working as an editor?

SM: I’ve always liked filmmaking so I dropped out of the university where I was majoring in Law in Korea and entered a small arts college in Oakland/S.F. in California as filmmaking major. At first, I wanted to be a director, but soon I found out that I enjoyed editing more than any other fields in filmmaking. I kept working that path, and got my first job at a small company that was creating video pieces for mobile services such as Verizon. After that, I ended up working mostly on trailers, promos, and music videos. After doing that for about eight years, I was accepted to AFI and now I work mostly on narrative movies.

What inspired you to pursue this profession?

SM: I always liked watching movies as a child. I would skip school, which I’m not so proud, and go to a theater and watch the same movie again and again. I always wanted to do something related to film. I first wanted to be a film critic, but while attending college, I found that editing was the most fun thing to do. You shape the performance, the rhythm, the emotion– the movie is really created in a cutting room.

How important is formal education to getting a job in the industry?

SM: It’s important in a sense because it can help you make connections. People say how good you are is the most important, but it’s also important whom you know.

Can you describe some of the projects you’ve worked on and some of the challenges you’ve faced?

SM: I was the sole editor on the trailers for Iris, the No.1 hit TV series in Korea in 2009, which consisted of 20 episodes, and I cut the trailers for each episode. The schedule here in the US can be crazy, but in Korea it is very common to shoot an episode in the morning and then air it that same night. I would get the script they were out shooting, and do a paper cut – meaning I would select the lines and shots based on the script, then select the music, then do the basic editing on paper. Once they finished shooting, I’d request the footage and quickly grab what I had pre-selected. Then if I felt I needed something else, I would look into other parts of the footage. This might not be an ideal method, but given such a short time to cut, it worked well for me.

Disney launched the Disney and Disney Jr. channels in Korea in July 2011 and I joined the team in January as the leader of the editing team, as well as a lead editor for the On-Air-Promotions team. We created all the promos/previews for these two channels. As a team leader, I also had to supervise other editors on their work and I really enjoyed working with the other team members. In many cases, creating the promos involved a meeting with the producers and editors since sometimes what the producers imagined in their heads wasn’t possible. We had to create many promos every week with a fairly tight schedule, but everyone collaborated well and it always went well.

I was the editor on the 8 series scripted show Fall Into Me for Lifetime. The story of the series I worked on was pretty classical – a normal girl meets a billionaire who she used to know in high school, but they wanted to give a bit of an ‘indie movie’ feel to it. We had to try to balance between a romantic comedy and an indie movie. I’ve known the director since AFI, so it was easy for both of us to communicate. Although we had never worked together before, we still shared the same education, which provided us with the same basic foundation and let us speak the same language. From a creative point of view, most challenges come from a lack of communication with the director; but that wasn’t the case this time. The director knew what she wanted and she understood what could be done and what she had to let go of.

I also edited the film And The Wind Falls, which was a bit of challenge since the story wasn’t typical. It was written in a way so that the story would unfold with subtlety. Things happen to the main character, but so many things are only implied that you will miss them if you’re not engaged completely. I’ve worked with the director before this – we worked on two music videos and then a web series pilot together after this project. We worked hard and I’m glad that our hard work got some recognitions from others including getting a Special Mention at Singapore Short Film Awards.

The director’s vision here was very clear for the film Tracks. He and the DP shot the film in a way so that the camera looks at the main character all the time like a documentary. Our reference movie was Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold. During pre-production, I was very curious about how the director and the editor on Fish Tank worked together. So, I managed to find the editor’s contact info, I emailed him and we ended up having a conversation. We met a little later when he came to the U.S. to edit Still Alice (starring Julianne Moore), and became friends. He told me the story of how he approached Fish Tank, and it helped me a lot. The actor did a great job so I didn’t have to worry about making cuts to the performance, which helped me immensely. As I said, it was shot in a way that the camera never rests, and it keeps following the main character. I tried to respect how it was shot and edit accordingly. And this film got into many festivals around the world including this year’s AFI FEST.

What tools do you use to edit? Avid? Final Cut? Etc. And what are the primary differences?

SM: My main tool is Avid, but I also use other software such as Final Cut Pro and Premiere. The only difference is the speed just because I’m more used to Avid than others. There are certain things that one is better at accomplishing than the others; and I feel Avid is better for cutting narrative films than other programs are.

What is it that you love about working as an editor?

SM: I respect what everyone does in the process of making a film. However, I feel it’s in the cutting room that the film is finally created in its final form. I love the feeling of being able to shape the rhythm, the performance, and finally create the story and the emotion through the film.

Also, if you are lucky and get to work with a good director, you’ll learn a lot while working with them. In a small editing suite, you talk to a director a lot. And you get to learn a lot. I think I’ve been lucky in that sense. So, in a sense, a cutting room is a working place as well as a learning place to me.

What separates you from the rest of the pool of editors in Hollywood? What is your specialty in the field?

SM: I have a background as an editor on trailers/music videos for eight years. I believe it has given me a better rhythmic sense. Also, I have a different cultural background as well, and I am sure it provides a unique point of view on a story.

Can you tell me a little bit about your editing process? Once you get the footage, where do you start?

SM: Once I get the footage, I try to understand what a director wants to achieve in each take and scene. If a director does multiple takes, I try to understand why. Once I get the footage, I don’t rely on the script as much. Yes, I’ll go back to a script to make sure I haven’t missed any small things that are intended for the story; however, I try to see what is actually captured in camera. In general, I believe how the footage is shot tells you how to edit. The footage tells you how to cut.

What is the collaboration process like in terms of working with the other departments on a project?

SM: There is a very popular comment from Jeong-min Hwang, the most famous actor in Korea. He once said something like, “All the other people prepared such a great meal. I did nothing. I just added my fork and knife, and enjoyed the meal. It was all possible because of them who prepared the meal.” I feel pretty much the same. So, I try to maintain solid communication with everyone so that there’s no room for misunderstandings.

Up to how long can it take to complete the editing on a project?

SM: It all depends on a project.

I’ve heard people say an editor can be sitting at their computer for up to 14 hours a day working on something—is this accurate? If so how do you stay focused?

SM: Yes, that’s possible. When I worked for a trailer company, I used to have to work even longer than 24 hours straight many times. I do not have any special way to focus. Since I do what I like to do, I don’t have to struggle to focus. I think all editors like their jobs. But I have to say it’s not healthy and it’s less productive to work for too long without taking a break. You get to be more creative when you take a break.

What projects do you have coming up?

SM: I’m currently working as the assistant editor on the feature film In Dubious Battle, directed by James Franco.

Do you have a passion for working on a specific kind of film or project, if so what kind of project and why?

SM: Although I’m leaning towards feature films, I wouldn’t mind doing a TV series as long as it has a good story. A good story is probably the only thing that matters.

 

 

 

Q & A with Dynamic Actress Erica Deutschman!

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Canadian Actress Erica Deutschman shot by Karen Benedict

Today audiences around the world will probably recognize actress Erica Deutschman best from her role as Beth in the dramatic fantasy series Being Human, where she transforms from the innocent girl next door to an eerie hauntress who makes the main character’s life unbearable. Never failing to captivate her audience, Deutschman’s impressive range coupled with her drop dead gorgeous looks have made her a leading lady for a long list of film and television productions across genres including The Howling Reborn, Hidden, Reign, Fatal Vows, Blue Mountain State, Sex Addict/Love Addict and others.

Earlier in her career Deutschman starred in Christos Sourligas dramatic feature film Happy Slapping, which premiered at the Montreal International Film Festival in 2011.

According to The Hollywood Reporter the film was the world’s first feature length project to be shot entirely using Apple’s iPhone 4. Happy Slapping revolved around five suburban teens that roam the streets at night attacking random victims and recording the assaults with their phones. Deutschman’s character Belle, who’s the polar opposite of most of the characters the actress has taken on over the years, was the antagonizing one of the bunch who continually eggs the other four, upping the ante and leading each action to be more atrocious than the one before.

Shortly after the release of Happy Slapping Deutschman went on to guest star on the hit television show Lost Girl, as well as A Stranger in My Home, before landing the recurring role of Beth on SyFy’s multi-award winning series Being Human. This year Deutschman wrapped production on multi-award winning director Deepa Mehta’s film Beeba Boys, which was chosen as an Official Selection of the prestigious 2015 Toronto International Film Festival where it had it’s world premier on September 13.

While Deutschman has undoubtedly made her name known as an actress in hit film and television productions, she has also proven her capacity to command the stage through her roles in high-profile theatre productions including “Nutcracker,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Coppelia,” and “The Comedy of Love and War.”

With a collective body of work that spans the gamut, Deutschman has displayed herself as the kind of actress who can take on virtually any role with ease and natural finesse. The actress is currently working on the upcoming comedy series Cross Rhodes where she will take on the starring role of Erica Rhodes.

To find out more about her and what’s next on the horizon for this talented Canadian beauty make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out about more of her work on screen through her IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4264669/

 

Where are you from? 

ED: I’m from Montreal, Canada.

When and how did you get into acting?

ED: I always knew I wanted to be an actress. I must have been 6 when I decided that it was my dream. But I was first a ballet dancer, and so I waited on the acting thing until I was 18, which is when I got an agent and really started doing it professionally.

Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?

ED: One of the film projects that I am most excited about is an indie I did in Montreal called Happy Slapping. It was the super gritty project with some really well developed and troubled characters. I played Belle; one of the five leads in the film. She is a party girl with a troubled family life, who turns to her vices too often for solace and definitely has a lot of issues but, she is also very charming and lots of fun.

Playing Belle was crazy, it’s sort of like exploring a side of yourself that doesn’t exist but when you think of certain scenarios, you wonder if it could really come out. I got to play and have lots of fun, but I also had to find this darkness and this trouble within and I really enjoyed doing that work. She completes part of the puzzle in this story, she is a bad influence on the kids around her and she pushes them into doing things that they might not be completely comfortable with—things they may even regret.

Mostly all of the shoots during the production were night shoots and we were exhausted a lot of the time, so by the time of the wrap party, I was passed out by midnight. I just couldn’t wait to sleep through the night again. But I wouldn’t change my experience for anything and I made some lifelong friends in the process. I look back on it really fondly. Look for Happy Slapping on IMDb and iTunes!!

My latest project was Academy Award nominated director Deepa Metah’s film, Beeba Boys. I played one of the boy’s girlfriends at the beginning of the film. First of all, what an awesome movie! It’s about the Sikh gangs in British Columbia and it follows their intense pursuit for power no matter what it takes. It was so exciting to work with Deepa Mehta, she’s insanely talented and I’m a really big fan of hers. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and that’s something that I’m really proud of.

How about television projects?

ED: My favorite television project I’ve worked on has to be Being Human. It shot in my home city of Montreal and it was an awesome set to be on and a really cool project to be a part of. I recurred in seasons 2 through 4 and I played a ghost who was killed by Aidan, the vampire, and I come back to haunt him throughout the rest of the series. Not only was it a really fun and sassy role to play, but it was also great to get to know all of the amazing cast and crew we got to collaborate with. It was a really excellent experience.

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Still shot of actors Imogen Hayworth (left), Connor Price and Erica Deutschman (right)  in “Being Human”

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

ED: What I look for in a project is first and foremost an interesting character. The parts that I enjoy playing the most are characters that either have a sordid past or interesting personality. Of course that requires good writing, but when I read something and think I can really make it my own, that’s when I get the most excited.

What as been your most challenging role?

ED: I think my most challenging role was Belle in Happy Slapping. She had so many dimensions underneath and it was definitely challenging to be able to portray all of that. I find that it makes a character so much more interesting when you give them layers and as challenging as it can be, character development is so important for the general outcome of the film.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

ED: I would have to say that my favorite genre not only to watch but also to play in is comedy. I am currently working on a really funny series called Cross Rhodes. I would say one of my favorite things to do as an actress, and in general, is to make people laugh! And in comedy, I get to laugh and make people laugh. I just get so much joy out of it, as you should.

Can you list some of the theatre projects you’ve participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played? From your perspective how does performing in the theatre differ from performing in on camera projects?

ED: I haven’t done theatre in a little while but as a young dancer, I did productions of the “Nutcracker” for eight consecutive years. I actually snagged the lead role of Clara when I was in high school. I also got to perform on stage a bunch when I was in school, which was a really awesome experience. I got to play the leading lady in “Commedia dell’arte,” the leading part in our Christmas Wishes Play, since I am bilingual, I also got to perform in all the French productions that we put on and in my last year, and I won the school’s drama award! As much as I enjoyed theatre though, my real passion is in film and television. I love the realism it captures and it’s also nice that you get to do more than one take so you can try different things.

What separates you from other actors? What are your strongest qualities?

ED: I think to be an actor, first and foremost, you have to have really tough skin. You have to let things roll off your back because with all the amazing parts you do get, there will also be a lot of really cool parts that you don’t get. The most important thing is to believe when one door closes another door opens and that some amazing opportunities are right around the corner. I think the fact that I’ve never lost sight of why I’m doing what I’m doing is also another key to surviving in this industry. Because at the end of the day, no matter how competitive it gets and no matter how critical some people can be, it is what I love to do so that’s really all that matters.

I’ve also been training for a really long time. A quality that I possess is that I really love going to class, learning from others and a desire to continue to grow as an actor. I think I’ve grown a lot over the past few years and I also know that I will continue to grow as an actor in the future. I think it’s really important to stay sharp by continuing to work, and I think that’s what really gives me my edge.

Have you been in any commercials?

ED: I have been in a bunch of commercials over the years. Actually, my first real project as a professional actor was a promo video for D-Box, you know, those movie theatre seats that move. That was so cool, because I didn’t have to audition. My agent called me up and was like ‘The D-Box people saw your demo on my website, they love your enthusiasm, they’re going to get you in the union.’ It was awesome, thank you D-Box!

I also did a PSA to raise awareness about rape for the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and commercials for Tax Free Credit Report, Samcon condos, as well as a couple videogames with UB Soft and Gameloft… I’m pretty much all over the map.

What projects do you have coming up?

ED: I am very very excited to announce my upcoming series Cross Rhodes. We just got the green light on it and we actually start shooting tomorrow! I play a character named Erica Rhodes (which is where the series gets its witty title) and she plays an actress who is followed by a documentary film crew. It’s a mockumentary, which is one of my favorite types of comedy so it’s basically a dream come true. My friend Jesse and I have been working on it becoming reality for about a year now, so the fact that it’s actually happening and we get to work with so many amazing actors as well, is just so fantastic.

What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

ED: I’m headed to LA for my next round of pilot season in January and I’m psyched because I also get to work on a really cool indie film while I’m out there called Ice. I can’t say much more than that about the project, but I think it’s going to be really cool, no pun intended. I just want to go out and work on as much as I can and continue to learn from some more great directors and fellow actors. It’s hard to put into words how much I would like to achieve, but at the moment the sky is the limit and I am very excited to see what kind of projects will be coming my way. I would love to do a funny movie next, seeing as that is my favorite genre and I think I have a knack for it.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

ED: Before I had ever acted professionally, I knew it was what I wanted to do. There was something about the way movies and television made me feel that made me decide I needed to be a part of the magic. Every since my first job up until now, there is no better feeling for me than being on set. I love the environment, the people and the whole process. As an actor, you work so hard on your off time, it is so exciting when you also get to show the world what you can do. There is no better feeling than booking that big part you wanted and once you do have it, challenging yourself and pushing yourself to be the best version of that character that you can be. I could go on, but that’s basically it in a nutshell.

 

 

 

Q & A with Canadian Actress Eliana Jones!

StephanieBeely
Actress Eliana Jones shot by Stephanie Beely

 

Over the last five years Canadian actress Eliana Jones has skyrocketed to the top of the entertainment industry internationally. If you watch television at all then chances are you’ve seen Jones working her magic on screen in one role or another.

In recent years she’s played multiple recurring roles on the hit television shows Hemlock Grove, Saving Hope, The Stanley Dynamic, Nikita and others. She also recently wrapped production on the first season of the new series Backstage, which is slated to begin airing on DHX Television’s Family Channel in 2016.

Jones’ collective performances reveal her as an exceedingly dynamic actress who is capable of portraying almost any character with ease and believability. Aside from her far-reaching talent, Jones’ ascetic appeal has assisted in making her the sought after actress that she is today; but, she remains humble just the same.

For Eliana Jones acting is about exploring other perspectives and pushing herself to see life through the eyes of her characters; and although at times, this can be a challenging experience, she admits, “I find that the most wonderful thing about being an actor is the array of different people and perspectives you get to play around with… each show/film is completely different and that just helps me grow, not only as an actress, but as a human being.”

To find out more about this captivating star make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out more about Eliana Jones’ work on screen through her IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4107867/

And you can follow her on instagram at: @elianajones and twitter at: @elianajonnes

 

 

Where are you from? 

EJ: I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.

When and how did you get into acting?

EJ: When I was about 8 years old, I was a competitive gymnast and that is what I spent almost all of my time doing, besides school. I went to gymnastic classes everyday for about five to six hours, then I would come home, do my homework, go to bed and restart the routine. I started getting notified by my doctor at the age of 11 that it might be time to throw in the towel because of the injuries I was receiving and the amount that the sport was stunting my growth. I finally agreed to quit gymnastics when I was 12 years old and had a back injury; I had bruised tissue around my spinal cord. It almost seemed as though it was meant to be though because during the next week or so, my mother and I were driving in the car and we heard an advertisement on the radio for some special acting, singing, modeling etc., school. I thought I might give it a go as a hobby type thing since I had nothing else to do as I was saying goodbye to gymnastics.

After that audition I became part of that school, and here I am now; 18 years old, making a career out of something I find so much passion and happiness in. I went to Los Angeles for auditions and networking and slowly but surely found myself absolutely falling in love with the craft. I never found that it was about the fame or money for me. I started realizing that I loved this craft when I was getting lost while watching movies and so inspired after watching a well-played, well-written film or television show. I wanted to be as talented and well respected as the people I spent almost all my time watching, observing and admiring. I got into acting when I was 12 years old and now I cannot imagine myself stepping out of this industry. I’ve found my calling!

Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?

EJ: I have done mainly television work however I was beyond excited to find out that I had booked the lead role in the children’s film Step Dogs. I can’t even begin to explain the feeling that ran through my veins when I received the call. In this comedic, fast paced film, I got the pleasure of playing Lacey; the obnoxious, self absorbed, conceited niece of a film and television star. We filmed in Saskatchewan for just under two months, and it was a fantastic experience.

Step Dogs is about a pampered girl, Lacey who is living in Hollywood with her Aunt Sabrina, and a down to earth boy, Josh who lives in Saskatchewan with his father. These two stories never should have crossed, but they did. Lacey is forced to move to Saskatchewan with Aunt Sabrina because she fell in love with Josh’s father. Lacey is one of the leads of this film and the audience gets to see her go from the claws out, angry teenager that could not be bothered, to a humbled girl that people actually enjoy spending time with. She was resourceful however she was hiding behind the fact that her parents’ passed away when she was younger as a license to be spiteful and hateful to every one around her. Throughout the film she is thrown into situations that bring her back to real life and show her how to connect with normal, genuine people. There was lots of comedic relief on Lacey’s behalf because of the idiotic and stereotypical things she would say. She was the classic stereotype of a Hollywood girl. It was really interesting feeling her perspective on the world change in a positive way throughout the film.

Playing Lacey was extremely fun because I found that she was completely the opposite of the person I am! It was super fun to pipe my voice up to a high pitched, annoying tone and aggravate every person as soon as I walked in the room. It felt amazingly horrible to play Lacey. It was amazing to play her because she was so big and fun and sharp-tongued however it was also horrible because I found myself apologizing after every take for sounding so condescending and rude! I eventually got over it and just basked in the fun of playing her. I also really enjoyed that Lacey had a story that unfolded throughout the film. She was very misunderstood and hid behind the facade of being a mean girl to block everyone out of her life, since her parents passed away. By the end of the film, Lacey begins to mesh more with her new family and starts getting comfortable in the cold, but cozy Saskatchewan.

I found myself being challenged because this was my first lead role, in a different town, with new people. I’m a very outgoing person but this experience had me feeling very intimidated in the beginning! Other than that, I enjoyed the challenge of memorizing chunks of lines each day and adapting to new people. Change is good. Another challenge I faced was the struggle of having about six dogs and animals on set everyday and trying to stay focused. Super fluffy, super cute.

A hilarious and memorable moment from this film/set is: In the very last scene of the film, Lacey brings a “cat” in the house from the backyard. Everyone in the room except for Lacey knew that it was a skunk. SO. My memorable moment. We used a real skunk for this scene and for the most part he was super cute and cuddly however he got scared very, very easily. When we were shooting for the movie poster we put Mister Skunk in with me and he got so frustrated and nervous that he actually pooped all over my bare arm. All I could hear on the walkie-talkies was “Eliana just got pooed on. Is she okay?” Let me tell you, it’s a moment that will last a lifetime!

How about television projects?

EJ: I played Alexa Sworn on:Eli Roth’s Netflix original series Hemlock Grove. Alexa is a shrewd vixen, with is a twin sister. Alexa and Alyssa completely tormented everyone around them and made sure that their presence was known. My character was the slight comic relief in this horrific, nail biting series. I got the opportunity to work with well-known artists such as Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Bill Skarsgard, Landon Liboiron, and many other talented actors. This Netflix original is currently in its third and final season.

Although a fun character to play, Alexa was a real pill to swallow. Alexa Sworn’s character was the best friend of lead character, Christina, played by Freya Tingley. The twin sisters were aggressors and peer pressuring friends; which made my character the antagonist to Christina’s storyline. Alexa and Alyssa made fun of everyone and we became the comedic relief of this horrific series. Some of the scenes involved mocking students in the hallways, or calling our best friend a prude because she wouldn’t make out with her crush at the time. Alexa and her partner in crime, Alyssa would spend hours making fun of people on their online pages, but at the end of the day, they were just regular teenage girls.

On the CBC series Saving Hope I got the rare opportunity to act alongside Wendy Crewson as her daughter, Molly. On the show, I start off as a regular teenage girl living with her single mother; but, I eventually drift into three more episodes where my character overdoses on drugs and is sent to rehab. My story was vital to the show because it created mystery in Dana’s (Wendy Crewson) life however also created a more deep-rooted storyline for Dana and her struggles, fears and joys.

Playing this character was especially fun because of the type of girl she was– high on opiates, drunk at a house party. Molly is a real mess. It was super fun playing her because I had lots of research to do! Pretending to be in this state of mind and body for a character really takes a lot out of you, however it was interesting to see myself transform when I watched the episode. I really found that the research I did came through in that episode. One of my favorite characters and episodes I have done! A fun little memory from this episode was: when I had to overdose, I was forced to lay in fake vomit. The fake vomit was a mixture of lentil soup and yogurt. I hate both of those things! Just from the smell, I almost made the vomit real! Everyone really enjoyed watching me suffer in agony from the stench hahaha.

When I booked the role of Rachel Skarsten’s younger version of herself on The CW series Lost Girl I was extremely excited for the platinum blonde hair, the opportunity to meet these talented individuals, and the learning experience I would receive from being on set with these phenomenal, well rounded people. My character in the couple episodes I starred on was “Teen Tamsin.” Rachel’s character gets sucked into a time warp and becomes young again, which is where I come in to play. It was critical for the audience to know what background Tamsin came from and how she dealt with situations as a youngling, which made my character important to the show.

Nikita on The CW was my very first show and I feel blessed to have been able to work on it. Maggie Q, Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca; It was completely unbelievable. I worked as Lyndsy’s younger self. My character had a Russian accent, and I often spoke Russian throughout the show, which is something that I had to spend hours learning. My role was important to the storyline of Alexandra Udinov, and became a reoccurring character throughout the seasons that the show aired, which was a true honor and huge learning experience. I felt like a real adult when I found myself surrounded by all these established and talented actors. I loved playing the younger version of Lyndsy Fonseca because it challenged me to meet her level of acting by being her younger version. I really was excited and happy to become a part of the Nikita family. Something I will hold very dear to my heart for a very long time. I learned so much on that show!

YTV’s The Stanley Dynamic is a new show that I have been working extremely hard on. My character, Summer Dewhurst, is the competitive, sporty and fun-loving girl, who lives next door to the lead character of the show, Larry Stanley. Throughout season one and mid way through season two I have worked with acclaimed actors such as Michael Gross! This show was and is a huge learning experience for me as well because this was my very first multi-cam style show. We used four cameras to shoot and everything is extreme high energy and super funny. I loved playing Summer because she is similar to the person I actually am. Super competitive but means well all the time and really values friends and family. Summer and Larry constantly get into friendly battles over who is better and it makes for some great TV comedy gold!

Being on a show with more kids my age is also super fun because I feel more relaxed and at ease. I get to be silly and work with such phenomenal people. It truly is a blessing. A funny and memorable moment from this set is: during season one, Madison, the young girl who plays Lori on the show, absolutely loved pranking people. Long story short, I walked into my dressing room filled with: toilet paper, post it notes and laughter from all the pranking!

The Family Channel’s Backstage is a new show that follows a bunch of extremely talented and interesting artists such as dancers, singers, painters, actors, djs etc. I got the pleasure of working as Mel, the student teacher of a dance class. The show is airing most likely mid January.

They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

EJ: I find that the most wonderful thing about being an actor is the array of different people and perspectives you get to play around with. I have never turned down an opportunity to be in a television or film because each show/film is completely different and that just helps me grow, not only as an actress, but as a human being.

Adapting to a new character, new cast and crew is truly an extraordinary path that I have chosen and gotten the blessing to be a part of. In the past I was working on two different shows at the same time, (The Stanley Dynamic and Saving Hope) and the characters I play on the shows are just so completely different; one being a drug addict that has spun out of control and one being a competitive teenager that loves basketball and skateboarding. Jumping from set to set really just accentuates the incredible notion that I can be whoever I want to be within the walls of this industry. I have the ability to be an extremely sad, angry teenager and then switch to being a happy, carefree, 15 year old.

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

EJ: Thankfully I haven’t actually had to choose between roles because everything I book somehow works out to be filming/rehearsing on different days. I have gotten the chance to participate in every single role and job that has come my way. I feel truly honored and blessed to be able to say that. I do not actually know what I would do if I had to choose between two separate roles. It would be so difficult, the “what if” would always linger through my mind.

Can you list some of the theatre projects you’ve participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?

EJ: I went to a performing arts high school, which gave me the opportunity to play in numerous theatre projects. I acted in “Chicago,” “Almost, Maine,” “Zapped” and a few others. “Chicago” was my favorite one because I got to be in cellblock tango and perform number seventeen – the spread eagle. In “Almost, Maine” I got to play alongside my friend, being two best friends that turn out to be gay and then find out that we are in love with each other. As I mentioned earlier I just really enjoy getting to play different people with different mind frames.

What has been your favorite project so far and why?

EJ: This is such a tough question! I’ve absolutely loved every single show I got the pleasure of working on however I found Hemlock Grove and Saving Hope to be my favorites. Here’s why: While working on Hemlock Grove, I got to be a part of one of my favorite genres of film/television; horror/thriller. I got the chance to be splattered with blood and let out some scary loud screams from time to time. I also got to work with Eli Roth, which was extremely cool and humbling because of how much I admire his work ethic and work in general!

Saving Hope is also a favorite of mine because I got to tap into my “drunk mess” side. I had to overdose on opiates, which was something I found interesting to research. It was difficult to get into that frame of mind and body language but once I got there it was crazy awesome. With those two being my favorites, I also have Nikita, which was extremely emotional and allowed me to show a side of myself as my character that had not been shown to an audience before. The Stanley Dynamic and Backstage are shows that I got to be on set with a bunch of people my age or younger and just sit around and be super silly and super funny with! Lost Girl was also such a fulfilling experience because of the big wig, the frantic, air headed girl I got to play around with. I’ve gotten the chance to play some very intricate and phenomenal characters so it really is hard to narrow it down to one favorite.

What as been your most challenging role?

EJ: My role as Molly Kinney in Saving Hope was the most challenging for me. Molly is the chief of plastic surgery’s daughter; and within the three episodes I played in, it has been a different experience each time; episode one was being a hot headed, self indulgent teenager, episode two included stealing drugs from the hospital while I was interning, episode three involved me being a drunk mess, a teenager stoned on opiates, an emotional and angry comatose teenager that overdosed and didn’t think of the consequences after those events. I’ve been in rehab for a while and my fourth episode is currently in the works.

Saving Hope was challenging for me as an actress because it pushed me to do more research on my character and the details of the script (overdosing, slowing down my breath to feel dizzy and nauseous, getting the perfect amount of day dreaming to look disconnected from my consciousness). I also found that working alongside Wendy Crewson and Erica Durance for the majority of this episode helped me learn more about being a true actor. While doing my scenes with Wendy it was mind blowing how committed and in the moment she became. Wendy (and Erica) being so unbelievably present in the scenes really helped me become more present and aware of my surroundings, rather than getting caught up in the lines and actions behind the intentions. When the actors around you are giving 110 percent, it makes you bump up your game and meet them at the same level! Challenging, however, it was a fantastic learning experience that I still bring with me to every audition and set.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

EJ: I really enjoy working all genres because I love learning about new and different types of acting however I have really come to enjoy comedy. I love the little tidbits of funny jokes that are written in for my characters! Working on television shows that are comedic are just extreme high energy and super fun to be a part of.

What separates you from other actors? What are your strongest qualities?

EJ: Honestly, there are so many outstanding actors and actresses and I am often just honored to work on the same set as some of them. I think the only thing that separates me from other actors is that I am a one of a kind version. There are not any clones of me (to my knowledge J )… So I like to believe that I bring a fresh face with a unique and bubbly personality to the table. I try really hard not to be nervous in auditions because the people sitting at the table in front of me are humans just as myself and they’re rooting for me just as much as I’m rooting for myself. I think that my strongest quality is that I am personable and approachable and I am most definitely not afraid to be myself, whether it be on set, in the audition room, or in my day to day life. All actors are extremely talented and I don’t find myself more talented than any person but I do believe that I work extremely hard and I push myself to be at the places I want to be.

What about commercials?

EJ: One of my very first jobs was a KFC commercial, and let me tell you, it included a lot of finger licking good chicken and to die for fries. I was in junk food heaven to say the least!

What projects do you have coming up?

EJ: I am currently working on Saving Hope again which is a huge honor, and I am working on season two of The Stanley Dynamic!

What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

EJ: I really just hope to achieve greatness. I want to be a notable and extremely talented actress and I wont stop working until the day I die. I want to be a good influence on those who are just entering this industry. I hope to build a solid body of work as an actress and I would really like to make myself proud of my achievements by being the best that I can be, and learning as much as I can; and hopefully ill have an Oscar sitting on my shelf one day. I really look up to actresses like Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock because of their astounding performances in everything they do. It is also inspiring seeing young girls like Abigail Breslin and Chloe Grace Moretz become so successful because that’s what I am striving towards! Its extremely admirable and I try to work towards that every day!

What kind of training have you done?

EJ: I have done so much training it is actually hard to remember ahah! I have done a lot of “new students” classes, in front of the camera classes, what to expect in an audition classes, how to be what the casting directors want, the basic fundamentals of acting. I am now enrolled in master and advanced classes with David Rotenberg, which I am finding very eye opening and a fantastic learning experience. I learn something new from each coach I go to. My brain is just filled with acting tips! I still don’t think I have enough training yet because there is always room for improvement, but I truly am loving every minute of it.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

EJ: Although some may find it an odd and rarely successful career path, I find that acting and performing brings me true and genuine happiness. It blows my mind every day that I am doing what I love for a living. I love the freedom of expression that acting gives me. I love that I can play so many different people and characters. I really find it a blessing to have found my passion at such a young age. I love learning more about myself everyday through my craft and I also love that it gives me the opportunity to meet new and exciting people. I love that one character can be a drunken mess, but the next one can be an innocent little girl that has lost her way. I absolutely love that sometimes the projects I work on involve travelling. Being an actress has combined everything I love into one perfect little craft. I can’t really explain completely why acting is my passion, but I can assure you that it fills my heart and soul with joy and that’s more than enough for me.

 

 

 

An Interview with Acclaimed Canadian Screenwriter, Mark Satterthwaite

Mark Satterthwaite
                                 Screenwriter Mark Satterthwaite (right) and girlfriend Carla Gallo (left)

Over the years award-winning screenwriter and producer Mark Satterthwaite has brought laugh out loud comedy to some of Canada’s most beloved television programs.

Satterthwaite is a master wielder of jokes who has doted his ingenious writing upon an array of TV shows ranging from live-action and animated series to awards programs and talk shows.

In 2006 Satterthwaite wrote and produced the highly popular single camera sketch comedy series The Morgan Waters Show. The critically acclaimed series, which aired on CBC and garnered a Gemini Award in 2006, starred Morgan Waters (The Amazing Gayl Pile, Cock’d and Gunns) and featured celebrity guests including stand-up comedian Gilson Lubin, Tyler Kite (Republic of Doyle, Instant Star), actress and musician Alexz Johnson (So Weird, Final Destination 3), Canadian television personality Ed the Sock and many other pop culture icons.

Satterthwaite, who has written several other hit television programs including the animated series Almost Naked Animals, Grojband and The Dating Guy, as well as episodes for MTV Live, CBC’s one-hour special Canada’s Smartest Person, and the second season of the game show Bet Your Ass, has a talent for sniffing out jokes that will stick with whatever audience he is writing for. As the writer, director and producer of the episode “My Brother, My Record” for the series Canadian Comedy Shorts, Satterthwaite’s work earned the award for Best Mocumentary at The World of Comedy Short Film Festival.

While his innovative writing has helped garner countless programs a long list of prestigious awards over the years, he has also written the scripts for some of Canada’s most beloved awards programs.

In 2007 he co-wrote and directed the Gemini Awards, which were televised on CBC and hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos (The Hour, Battle of the Blades, Chelsea Lately, Bystander Revolution). A successful awards program relies on strong comedy moments in order to keep audiences engaged while the hosts announce the awards for each category, and Satterthwaite’s unparalleled writing for the 2007 Gemini Awards kept fans buzzing long after the awards ceremony was over.

To find out more about this exceedingly talented screenwriter’s career and what’s next on the horizon for him, make sure to check out our interview below!

 

Where are you from and what was it like growing up there?

MS: I was born and raised in downtown Toronto, Canada. I loved growing up there cause it always felt like a *small* big city. Toronto’s super walk-able and is broken up into amazing neighborhoods, so I feel like I spent my youth on tree-covered streets with friends. Pretty good.

How have your early experiences influenced some of the work you create today?

MS: My parents used to take my sister and I to see plays when we were kids. A lot of sleuth-style, whodunit plays, and it was so much fun. I would always figure them out at the act break. Not sure what it means, but that gave me a weird confidence when I was a kid… That I could solve these scripted mysteries.

Growing up in Canada we didn’t have much of a star system so it never occurred to me that I could end up writing television for a living. It just didn’t seem plausible. When I got my first writing gig at 22, I was floored. I really couldn’t believe it.

When and how did you get into the industry as a screenwriter?

MS: Canada’s answer to MTV, a station called MuchMusic, held a yearly competition where one lucky Canuck got to work at Much for a summer, with a free apartment, a new car and $10,000. All you had to do was submit a creative video to show why you deserved it. Long story short, I wrote a short and got second place in the national competition. The next year, I wrote and animated a 3-minute short and got second place again. It was heartbreaking. But the creative director at Much, David Johnson, loved my video and hired me on as a freelancer. I owe my career to David!

What are your favorite genres and audiences to write for?

MS: I love absurdist comedy. I think that’s why I ended up doing a lot of writing in animation, because it’s such an anything goes environment. Want to create a new character? Do it! Blow something up? Sure. Morph anything into anything else? WHY NOT?!?! It’s very liberating.

I actually prefer writing animated shows to writing ALMOST anything else… Other than film. Writing big splashy, Hollywood comedies has my heart. I just finished a 90-minute ridiculous script. I’m really happy with it, and I hope you get to see it soon!

Can you tell us a little bit about some of the projects youve written over the years?

MS: Coming up as a freelance writer in the Canadian television system was tough but exciting, because I had to wear many different hats to keep the lights on and to stay creatively challenged. One week I was writing an animated series, the next I was writing jokes for a game show, and after that I was in a writer’s room, scripting a sitcom with a bunch of other writers. It was a great way to figure out what I liked.

I started writing and developing TV years ago with my friend Morgan Waters. The Canadian Broadcast Corporation asked us to put together a sitcom that would work for “tweens.” Something distinctive that could be a starring vehicle for Morgan. We were both very into an American comedy troupe called STELLA at the time (we still are) and we decided to emulate what they were doing, with our own twist, for a Canadian audience with The Morgan Waters Show. Our writing and development process was to push the humor and scenarios as far as we could, so we made sure we were challenging our audience, as opposed to holding their hands. It worked out. The show won a Canadian Screen Award in its first season.

Soon after The Morgan Waters Show ended, I was offered the job of helping to bring MTV to Canada by working on the creative for the network launch, casting the hosts and story editing the live, daily comedy show, MTV LIVE. This was such an incredible experience. We watched audition tapes from hundreds of hopeful hosts from all over Canada, worked on the creative for the launch to make sure that people noticed, and put together a live daily show like no other on Canadian TV. We had amazing leaders in Mark McInnis and Alex Sopinka, and they really trusted me to lead the team of 30 or so creatives, coming up with script ideas every morning. It was a blast. The show was a hit within a year and was doing something for Canadian comedy that hadn’t been done since SCTV.

The Canadian Screen Awards are Canada’s answer to the Golden Globes, honoring excellence in both television and in film. I’ve been lucky enough to work on dozens of projects that have won CSAs, but I also got to work on the other side of the stage when I was approached to write the awards show with a super talented writer named Paul Bates. Our job was to focus on making sure that the show ran smoothly and was super funny. This was at a time when videos were just starting to go viral, so one of our mandates was to come up with edgy sketches that could roll into the show and might get people looking online the next day. I wrote and directed a sketch about what happened to all the puppets from Canadian television shows after their shows ended, a retirement home for puppets sketch. The sketch aired in the middle of the show and the live audience roared with laughter. The sketch became a national news story and even ended up in the New York Times. Mission accomplished.

My break into animation came when a Canadian production company I had done a lot of work for, Marble Media, approached me about re-writing and punching up an entire season of a new animated series called The Dating Guy. The show had good bones but needed a lot of help in the comedy department. I had such a good time peppering in as many original jokes as I could, often pushing the limits of good taste and TV acceptability. I learned a lot from the project- namely, that it’s always better to push as far as you can with your writing and get pulled back by producers. If you come in soft, it’ll be near impossible to edge things up later on. The Dating Guy was my first foray into animated TV, and my writing and contributions were very well received, so soon after, I was getting offers to write on other animated series. I did three seasons of writers’ rooms, punch-ups, rewrites on an international hit kid’s animated series called Almost Naked Animals. It was a great show and I learned so much from it.

After Almost Naked Animals, production companies started coming to me to develop and write pilots and bibles for new animated series. I loved getting involved in the shaping and writing of these worlds early on. One of the shows I got to help bring to television was a kid’s concept called Winston Steinberger and Sir Dudley Ding Dong, a ridiculous absurd show about a kid and his cat in space with their alien guardian. I wrote the pilot and the bible for E1 productions, Sticky Pictures Australia, Teletoon Canada and ABC Australia. After two pilot scripts and a bible, we were green lit to series with me at the helm as head writer and story editor of the show. I worked with over 40 writers on 52 scripts to get the first season done and done well. It’s a distinctive, hilarious show and I think it’s going to be a hit when it hits the airwaves in early 2016.

What made you choose to participate in the projects you’ve done over the course of your career?

MS: Sometimes I would choose projects, and sometimes they would choose me. I always knew that Canadian TV isn’t what it should be. There is a lot of filler in there. And I made a decision early on in my career, not to write for shows that I didn’t care about. That was my goal. And because I could write jokes and scenarios for both kids and adults, I was lucky enough to move around in the business, writing on many different styles of shows. My goal was always to work on something new and different. I think that’s why I like film so much, cause you sweat onto the page for one great story, and then you move on to the next. My ADHD doesn’t allow me to do the same thing over and over.

Do you take a different approach when writing for animation opposed to live action?

MS: If I had my way, I’d be writing the absurdist style I enjoy so much for live action projects, but it really can be a different beast. So I try to inject what I can, where I can. I love that animated, “anything goes” sensibility, and I think live action could use more of it. But I also love dry British humor. I grew up with a British dad holding the remote control, so we were always watching Britcoms. I loved them all. Still do. I think my sensibilities really come from the absurdist styles of STELLA, old 80s flicks like Top Secret and Spaceballs, and dry British comedies like Alan Partridge and The Office. I think there’s a place for animated humor in live action TV. It’s just about finding a balance.

You’ve also written storylines for several commercials, can you tell us about a couple of them and how you came up with the storylines?

MS: Agency 59 came to me about writing and directing a series of PSA commercials about drinking and driving for Labatt Blue. The goal was to deliver a strong message without beating people over the head. It was an interesting challenge to keep the topic light but focused, and I was up to it. I worked with the agency writing over six spots that I think were pretty funny and delivered a strong message. Everyone was happy.

You’ve also produced many of the projects that you’ve writtencan you tell us from your perspective, how the roles of screenwriting and producing are different? How do you manage to successfully tie them together?

MS: I never used to understand what producing was in television. But yes, I would often be hired to write and produce on shows. I really enjoy wearing both of those hats cause I don’t always find it easy to write and then give a script away, leaving it up to others to execute/shoot/animate. I really care about the projects that I work on and I like to be able to see them through to broadcast, to try and ensure that they end up being as close to what I had intended when I wrote them. Sounds a little controlling, I’m sure. And I think part of it is. But I really do care and want the best product to hit the screen. I don’t think there’s any point in working in a creative industry if you won’t bleed for what you’re writing.

What have been a few of your favorite projects so far?

MS: My complete favorite project was writing the feature I just finished. Film has always felt like this elusive, glorious mountain peak that I just couldn’t get to. I almost wouldn’t let myself try. So much of writing, for me, is overcoming all the little demons in your head that tell you that you can’t do it. “Hit the couch, fat ass. Just watch some TV. It’s easier”. Being a freelance writer takes so much discipline and you really have to believe that what you’re going to write will be worth someone else’s reading time. The feature I just finished, I think, is super funny and a good heartfelt story.

Other than that, being the head writer on Winston Steinberger and Sir Dudley Ding Dong, story editing a show for MTV when it first came to Canada, creatively helming a commercial shoot in Argentina, writing absurd sketches for Funny or Die and writing award winning sitcoms with your friends is a pretty sweet gig.

What has been your most challenging project?

MS: Writing a feature, by far. It’s so impossibly hard. I’ve been writing television for over 15 years now. I really felt like I had a good understanding of structure. But 90-minute films, the good ones, are beasts. They need to have a good strong structure, characters the audience can get behind, a minimally saggy middle and a nice arc that keeps an audience active. It’s so difficult. That’s why most films aren’t that good. It’s a very difficult proposition. Honestly, writing jokes is by far the easiest part of writing. It’s the structure and guts of a good script that need your focus.

As a screenwriter, where do you get your inspiration for the projects you create?

MS: I get inspiration from so many different aspects of my life. To start, my girlfriend is one of the funniest people in the world and a writing/acting force to be reckoned with. She’s been successful in TV/film for 15 years now, so I’m always bouncing things off of her to see what she thinks. If she likes it, I like it. I also have never been able to turn off the part of me that loved 80s and 90s silly, absurd comedies- Mel Brooks, Zucker Bros, John Hughes. I just loved all of their movies so much. John Hughes found a way to make me laugh so hard but also really care about characters. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is such a perfect example of that- hilarious, heartwarming and redeeming all at the same time.

What do you hope to achieve with the projects you create?

MS: I’d like to make people laugh and feel good, and I’d like to get offers for new, challenging projects from people seeing the work I’ve done. Sometimes I’ll read comments on the Internet from people who have watched episodes of something I’ve written. “This is my favorite episode!” or “This show is the funniest thing on TV” or “WRITE MORE! MAKE MORE!,” and that always makes me feel like a million bucks. Writing scripts is hard work; it’s so nice to know that people like it.

Why are you passionate about working as a screenwriter?

MS: I’m passionate about screenwriting because it’s a huge, huge life test. All of the time. It’s fun and it kills me. Do I have the will to get this script done? Am I confident enough in myself that I can write something that stands out? Am I special enough to write a script? Do I have a point of view that will engage people? Every script is a gut check. I think that’s pretty remarkable. And sometimes the answers to these questions can be very sobering. Other times they can make you feel like a million bucks.

 

Bringing Cultures Together Through Jazz: Master Trumpeter Ramiro Nasello

Romero Nasello
                                    Argentine Musician Romiro Nasello shot by Claudio Maxit

Every genre of music has fans, but jazz is among the few that has devotees. Variations of jazz exist in almost every culture in the world, distinct from one another but sharing common influences. The diehards, the connoisseurs and the aficionados ingest the sounds of a good jazz band like a fine wine and know every hook and riff like the face of an old friend. If one were to ask them where to find the thriving genre’s modern hub, they would answer in unison: Buenos Aires.

That’s where Ramiro Nasello found his calling. Nasello was born in Olavarria, Argentina, where he took his first steps toward his lifelong love of music at 10 years old. Starting off with the piano, Nasello felt at home around music and musicians. It was when he discovered the trumpet, though, that he really came into his own. He moved to the city of Buenos Aires at 14, where his natural talent caught the attention of the iconic Argentine trumpeter Roberto “Fats” Fernandez. A major influence in jazz music at home and internationally, Fernandez is well known for his work with world-renowned musicians including Ray Charles, Roy Eldridge and Lionel Hampton. He took the then young Nasello under his wing and helped him realize the extent of his innate gift.

“My style was further defined after I met my mentor Roberto “Fats” Fernandez,” Nasello said. “It was a big step up for me as a musician and trumpet player at that time.”

At 17 he was introduced to Fernandez’s close friend, music legend and eight-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis. Fernandez had written an original composition for Marsalis, “Luces de mi Cuidad,” aka “Lights of my City,” and Marsalis happily agreed to perform it as a guest artist on Fernandez’s album La Musica y La Vida. Nasello sat and listened as Marsalis played, and found himself moved to the core. Then, he got an opportunity many musicians spend a lifetime dreaming of.

“He did one take, and he was playing so beautifully I started crying like a kid,” Nasello recalled. “I also got to play for him. He was very nice and very encouraging to me.”

Throughout the ‘90s, Nasello had focused primarily on the classical side of trumpet. He became incredibly skilled during that time, and even held the prestigious principal first trumpet chair position from 1993 until 2000. But after training under Fernandez and hearing the sounds of Marsalis, he began to focus his efforts more on jazz and popular music.

Through his training, Nasello quickly became one of the most sought-after trumpeters in modern jazz ensembles. He’s played all over the world, and with some of the most recognizable names in the genre.

“I did a collaboration with ‘The Latinaje Project,’ a Latin jazz band led by the great bassist, composer and arranger, Guido Martinez. We played lots of high intensity music,” Nasello said of one project. “They put me in charge of the trumpet and flugelhorn solos. That was an all-star band that I was fortunate to be part of with musicians like Daniel ‘Pipi’ Piazzolla, Astor Piazzolla’s grandson. We played many concerts and I participated on the self-titled debut album with them.”

To be band mates with Astor Piazzolla’s grandson is no small achievement. “Pipi” Piazzolla’s grandfather was a revolutionary figure in Argentine jazz and tango, and helped put the country on the map as a major influence in both Latin and jazz music.

In the past two years alone, Nasello has played in Singapore, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Rome, Barcelona and Fort Lauderdale. He also recently played trumpet on Fernandez’s album ‘Montecarlo Jazz Ensemble,’ a charity album with an inspiring purpose.

“‘Montecarlo Jazz Ensemble’ was an album recorded for a UNICEF fund-raising initiative for the Indian descendants in the north of Argentina,” Nasello said proudly. “It was a collaboration of the most renowned artists of the Argentinian music scene for a good cause.”

Shakespeare once wrote that music is the food of love. Jack Kerouac called it the only truth. And Ramiro Nasello sees it as a gift shared between giver and receiver.

“When somebody comes to me and says, ‘Thank you for your music,’ and I can see in their eyes that they enjoyed that moment, that we felt the magic of music and they felt it too, it really is a beautiful thing.”

Nasello is currently working on several new and exciting projects with other internationally renowned musicians including Italian drummer Andrea D’Angelo, who is known for his work with the bands Human Feel, the Matt Wilson Quartet and Tyft. The two have already begun planning their first album, “Inside Out,” which they will begin recording in 2016 under the name of the D’Angelo-Nasello International Jazz Collective Project. The new project will bring together musicians from Italy, Argentina and the US, offering audiences a modern and culturally rich jazz flavor.

Q & A with Child Actor Richard Davis!

Richard Davis
Actor Richard Davis shot by Denise Grant

At 11-years-old actor Richard Davis has already accomplished more in the entertainment industry than many actors ever will. In the past three years he’s received four Young Artist Award nominations for his work on the films The Comeback Kid, Brothers and To Look Away and the award-winning series Kid’s Town.

While it’s undeniable that the kid has a face that could melt the heart of the Grinch, Davis has a lot of other things going for him besides just being ridiculously cute. For starters, his emotional range is astonishing, and not just for someone of his age but for an actor of any age. He understands the process of character development and knows exactly when and how to deliver the necessary comic relief or high-intensity dramatic moments within a scene. What is even more impressive though, is his knowledge of the world around him and the manner in which he speaks.

A speed-reader who actually competes in book competitions like the Battle of the Books, a competition that he won with his team earlier this year, Davis loves a good story. And, one of the reasons he loves acting, and has become so good at it, is because it allows him to become part of the story bringing characters to life on the screen.

Audiences across Canada and the U.S. will recognize Richard Davis from his roles on the popular television shows Good Dog, The Ron James Show, Murdoch Mysteries and Copper, as well as the films A Family Way, Hazel & Elwood, Amalgamations, Full Out and many more. The young actor recently wrapped production on the film Shahzad, which will be released on BravoFact in August of 2016, as well as Psychic Playground which will be available very soon.

To find out more about Richard Davis make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out more about his work through his IMDb page.

Where are you from and how old are you?

RD: I was born near Toronto, Ontario and I am currently 11 years old. Although at four years of age, I tested in the 99.9 percentile for oral I.Q. and could read encyclopedias, it wasn’t always easy for me. I was considered a ‘miracle’ when I was born and I had my challenges. My mom’s pregnancy was eventful and I was a premature baby that had to be intubated when I was born. I lived in three hospitals before coming home for the first time. I was followed by specialists for the first year until they discovered I was communicating in full sentences and starting to read using Baby Sign Language through American Sign Language. Eventually, my tongue caught up to my brain and there was no stopping me.

When and how did you get into acting?

RD: I was always curious. I wanted to learn about everything around me. I would ask questions and I would read everything I could get my hands on. When I had questions related to how something was made, my mom always said, ‘the best person to answer my questions were the people that worked in that area of expertise’…so we went on a lot of field trips. Even when we went shopping, I would ask about the products in the store and how everything, “operated”. After I learned about the products, I would proceed to play a ‘salesperson’ while my mom shopped. My mom would often apologize to the customers for me bothering them, but everyone seemed quite happy by it. Well, one day, I happened to try and sell lights in a lighting store to a gentleman, who turned out to be George Pastic, an Oscar nominated director for the film The Violin in 1975. Not only did George take me under his wing, but he became my mentor and friend, along with his wife Eleanor. Sadly, George and his wife tragically passed away in the fall of 2014 and I will always miss them.

What is it like having such a successful career at such a young age?

RD: It’s pretty cool to have people come up to me and say ‘Hey, are you that guy in the movies?’ It’s nice to be recognized for doing what you enjoy. I actually feel very fortunate that I have found something that I love to do at such a young age. Most people go through their lives trying to find out what it is that they want to do when they grow up. I love having the opportunity to be in front of the camera and bring a new character to life. One of the things I love to do most is to read a great book; the bigger, the better. When I get a new script, it’s like opening up a new book. The best part is that I get to be one of the characters in that book. When a script is based on a novel, I usually read the script and novel to get a full understanding of the character. Being a speed reader really comes in handy when you only have 24 – 48 hours to prepare for the audition.

 Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?

RD: I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play many exciting roles. When I was 5 years old, I landed a recurring role on Ken Finkleman’s comedy HBO series Good Dog. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with some very talented professionals over the course of the series. The series followed George, played by Ken Finkleman, a self-absorbed producer whose new reality show is in danger of being taken off the air. George is forced to liven the atmosphere of his life due to the network’s demands, so he asks his young model girlfriend, Claire, played by Lauren Lee Smith, to move into his house, but he doesn’t realize that means Claire’s son, my character, would also be moving in– along with my sister, nanny and our pet Rottweiler. George was often in the dog house.

I have also enjoyed filming on shows such as Murdoch Mysteries, set in the early 1900’s, as Finn Hopkins on the episode “Midnight Train to Kingston.” I will be careful about saying too much about this episode as I know that this show is played in many different countries around the world. I need to be careful so I do not give away any spoilers. I also played the role of Buzz in a black and white webisode for the television series Lost Girl. I thought it was cool to have my hair shaved to reflect my character Buzz’s name, and it was awesome wearing clothes from around the 1950’s. I love the wardrobe departments on shows like Murdoch Mysteries and Lost Girl. I’ve also had fun voicing with Ron James; I voiced Petey on The Ron James Show. Ron is such a nice person who is very intelligent and has a big heart. It was a real pleasure to work with him at CBC in Toronto.

I have also enjoyed playing the role of Brian Jr. on the web-series Kid’s Town, which is available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Ameba TV, Hulu, and Vimeo on Demand. Kid’s Town is a family show, and I play the next-door neighbor to the new kid in town. He befriends me in part, because we have the same name, and because I have no friends until he moves in, due to my big list of allergies. I enjoyed playing the character of Brian Jr. because I was the comedic relief in the show. I loved the writing in the series, and I must admit that I seemed to luck out with getting some of the best lines. I’m looking forward to doing more comedy in the future and creating more characters…Perhaps one with a British accent next time, as I love playing with accents.

For four years in a row, I won the lead role from the most prestigious university film programs in Canada. For one role, it was a two-hander where I played the lead role of Oliver in To Look Away. For this role, it involved filming late into each night in ridiculously below freezing temperatures.   I also played the lead role of Max in the film Brothers, which landed me my fourth Young Artist Nomination. I also played the younger lead character of Damian in Amalgamations, which ended up screening at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Courts Metrages in 2013.

Another memorable role that I was nominated for a Young Artist Award and loved playing was “The Comeback Kid”. I played the lead character of Boniface Domingo Brantley who is The Comeback Kid and goes by the nickname Bo. Bo is an 11-year-old boy whose only friend happens to be an imaginary luchador named M the Minotaur. Bo and M spend their days flying model airplanes. Well, one day an aspiring pilot named Susie shoots down their aircraft and she feels so bad that she invites them to her birthday party, the first birthday Bo or M have ever been invited to. Bo doesn’t like change and he’s never been good at making decisions, but he is forced to transform and come out of his shell when his parents announce that they are separating. Even though the story was written for an 11 year old, I was only 7 when I won the lead role of Bo.

My most challenging lead role to date would be Hazel & Elwood. I played the lead role of Elwood at 6 years of age in Hazel & Elwood, a film that revolves around a family stricken with tragedy.

I found myself in some precarious situations in Hazel & Elwood, like derailing an entire train by placing pennies on the tracks…from my little purse dressed as a girl. The challenging part was wearing those Mary Jane shoes – wow! They are not meant to fit boys feet! Plus, I learned what girls had to go through with a crinoline, nylons and dress if they had to go to the restroom! You girls do not have it easy! Truth be told…all great actors have put on a dress. Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler and Charlie Chaplin, just to name a few.

Richard Davis
Richard in a dress on set of the film “Hazel & Elwood”

They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

RD: Quite honestly, my love of acting made me eager to participate in every project I completed. It has only been due to prior bookings that I have had to turn down an audition or role.

What has been your favorite role so far and why?

RD: Wow…this is a difficult question, because I have loved so many roles. I would have to say that I loved being on the set of Copper as a street kid that was up to mischief. There was talk of where my character could be possibly headed on this show, but unfortunately the series was cancelled at the end of Season 2. It was an amazing set though with incredibly talented individuals from the show runner Tom Kelly on down. After my first day of filming, I spent an hour or two touring the set and learning how it all came together. This was another set where people were so nice and willing to teach me. It is definitely an experience that I will always treasure.

Another favourite role of mine was one I just completed; a Bravo Fact funded film called Shahzad. Shahzad is about an 11 year old Pakistani boy who moves to Toronto, and has to deal with transitioning into a foreign world. I played the role of Richie, a classmate that becomes Shaz’s best friend over the course of his first school year in Canada. The role was a favourite of mine because of the storyline and people involved in the project. It is a short story that I am told has already garnered attention to turn into a full length featured film, which I hope it does so I can read and see more of the story.

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

RD: I am up for the challenge of any role that is presented to me by my agent. However, if I had the choice to pick one over another, I would say that I love a good story with great writing. Having said that, I also love a film where the director allows me to add improv to the story, like my last film Shahzad. It’s the best when you can just be free to express what is truly in your heart and mind and play within a scene. What I think I loved best about my last film was that the other actors in my scenes were able to follow along with me in the improv. That’s when the most natural moments are born on film.

Have you done any commercials?

RD: Yes, I have. In fact, I was recently nominated for a Joey Award for my favourite commercial, which was a PSA for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Canada. I am most proud of this spot as the focus of the campaign was to promote fun ways to find money to donate to a very worthy cause. I have also done many commercials for companies such as McDonald’s, Maytag, Sears, KFC, Spinmaster Toys, Sprout T.V. etc. One commercial I did for Hasbro involving Play-Doh when I was 4 years old, is still continuing to collect views on YouTube. I find it quite interesting to hear the theme song being played in the commercial in so many different languages around the world. I have also done some voice over radio and television commercials for car companies and Robin Hood Flour.

You’ve also performed in several theater productions—can you tell us about your work in the theatre?

RD: When I was younger, I used my theatre productions as a way of training for television and film. When I first began in the industry, I was only 4 years of age. With my exceptional reading and memorization skills, I needed an outlet. Being involved in the theatre gave me the opportunity to develop my confidence and acting skills through performing monologues on stage to an audience. I also had the opportunity to work together with a group of people to act in stage performances.

Do you have a preference for performing on stage or on camera?

RD: I love my improv class and the immediate response I receive from the audience. However, I do tend to enjoy television, film and voice over more than theatre for one reason; I love the newness of the scripts. With being an avid reader, I really do love being able to be a part of that new adventure. I find it exciting and I look forward to every new opportunity that comes along in the business.

Is it overwhelming at times to be receiving so much recognition for your work so early on? How do you balance being a kid with having a career?

RD: I had a great role model with George. When he discovered me in the lighting store when I was three years old, I had no idea he had been nominated for an Oscar. He had many other awards as well for his work that George never displayed. After I knew both he and his wife Eleanor for quite some time, he shared with me that he had the awards on display at first. However, over the years he realized that the awards were not important. I learned a great deal from George. He was always so humble, that it was not even himself that informed me of all his success. As my mom often says, the most important role I will play is myself, and George exemplified this well.

I balance being a kid with having a career with just that…making time to be a kid. The fact that I love what I am doing makes it rather easy. I am happiest when I am on set, therefore it doesn’t feel like work to begin with. However, my parents make sure that there is a healthy balance between acting, schoolwork, family, friends, activities and sleep. Two years ago, I tried the “gifted program.” Although I managed to get great marks, my parents decided it was not a healthy balance for me as the focus was ‘pace’ and I craved ‘depth.’ With having extra assignments added into my schedule, my parents felt that the ‘fun’ factor was missing from my life. Each person is different and so are their circumstances; and for me, the perfect solution was to switch back to my regular school and begin part-time homeschooling for the core subjects. This enables me to dig deep into the subjects that I crave and be with homeschoolers for events like the advanced Battle of the Books, while still having the social experience of both worlds.

Which actors do you look up to, and why?

RD: I admire many actors and their work. The actors that stand out for me though are ones like George Clooney who are philanthropists and are willing to go out on a limb for what they stand for. I have always been a believer of giving back from a very early age. I know that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to do something that I love in life and get paid for doing it. My own brother was adopted from an orphanage, and it bothered me when I saw the pictures of the children not having a proper playground to play in. For two years, I saved up my money and built a nice playground for the children who were left behind. I also helped out some families financially in our community who were suffering due to cancer and sent a girl to camp who had just lost her father. I think it’s important to give back when you can, and my acting has allowed me to do some good things for others.

I also admire Tom Hanks. I loved some of his films such as Big, Forrest Gump and Cast Away. I hope to have the opportunity to work with Mr. Hanks one day as well as Adam Sandler and Kevin James, to name a few.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

RD: I love all genres of acting as each area brings out something new for me to learn. However, I must admit that I love comedy. I find that there is so much sadness and tragedy in the world. Unfortunately, with being such an early reader, I learned this at a younger age than I should have. Thankfully, I learned about most of it from reading and not personal experience. My one wish for this world would be to have all of the wars end and have everyone get along. The other wish would be to make everyone happy and laugh. I can’t make wars end, but I can make people laugh through acting in comedies. Therefore, Comedy would be my answer. I would also love to be a host on a game show or an educational show.

What separates you from other actors?

RD: Casting Directors have told me that the one thing that separates me from other actors is my ability to follow directions at such a young age. I was in a workshop for my union in Canada where I performed a mock audition for Los Angeles Casting Director Krisha Bullock (ICarly, Victorious, Sam & Cat, Henry Danger) and Larissa Mair Casting (Degrassi, Life with Boys, What`s Up Warthogs!). They gave me three re-directions and I nailed all three in the next take in front of everyone. They both told me that even adults have a hard time achieving this and I was only 8 years old at the time. They held up my headshot at the end of my audition and told the audience to watch out for me as I was going to be famous.

What projects do you have coming up, or have you recently finished filming?

RD: My next film where I play the lead role of Dez in Psychic Playground will be available on Vimeo before the end of the year. Psychic Playground is a dark comedy film about an inventive kid who turns show and tell into a disaster. I am excited to see this project when it’s finished, as the director was very artistic with my “Invention”.

You will also soon be able to find me playing the role of Richie in the film release of Shahzad on the Bravo Fact Channel. I had a great time on Shahzad with the lead character played by Yatharth Bhatt (Combat Hospital) and another supporting character, Filip Geljo (Odd Squad).

I am very proud to have had the opportunity to be part of such an inspirational feature film called, Full Out. It recently debuted in California on NBC and on the Family Channel in Canada. Full Out has become my top film to recommend to everyone, and is based on the true life story of California gymnast Ariana Berlin, who made an inspirational comeback after a devastating accident. I play a young boy who has also been in an accident and is going through his own recovery. The film stars Ana Golja, (Degrassi) and Jennifer Beals (Flashdance). I had a wonderful time filming with Ana Golja, Ariana Berlin, Ashanti Bromfield and Jacqueline Byers.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

RD: The short answer is I got discovered and I love it and I don’t want to quit. The long answer is I love to be in front of the camera. It’s the best feeling in the world. I simply love to analyze and learn. In acting, you are constantly analyzing the other character’s behavior and responding to it. I remember in first grade, a child had cut her hair in my class. I came home and said, “I’m not sure if my teacher was upset with the whole class for the incident happening, with whoever did it, or herself as a teacher for not being able to stop it from happening.’ I was six years old at the time. My mom said if I ever stopped acting, I could become a psychologist. I have come to realize that the writing of scripts and acting incorporates psychology.

I also think that there is something to be learned from every role I perform. Sometimes it’s within the material that I am studying for the role. For example, with Hazel & Elwood, with the movie being about trains, I loved that I could look up the trains within the script and learn about them. The same is true about the biplanes in The Comeback Kid. I also meet a lot of interesting people on set with so much knowledge to offer. Acting is really the best job in the world. I don’t know any other job that allows you to do something different every day and to continually learn.

If you weren’t an actor, what other profession do you think you would like to have in the future?

RD: I would love to become a writer and director so I would never be out of work as an actor. I think it would also be wonderful to be a teacher to students who want to learn. I would love to teach drama, history and geography.

What are your hobbies outside of performing?

RD: I have a few close friends that I like to spend time with, and I love spending time with my family. I love horseback riding, downhill skiing, swimming and biking, just to name a few. I’m a real history and geography enthusiast as well. I recently participated in a Battle of the Books competition where I read 25 novels ranging up to Adult fiction and non-fiction a few times each. Our team held practices weekly as we really needed to know specific details in the books. Our team did extremely well and we won the competition. I give kudos to the second place team as well as they were a great challenger.

I love reading so much that I read books on the side leading up to the competition. Some were part of a series in the Battle, and I found myself getting hooked on them. Even though the Harry Potter Series was not part of the Battle, I’m also on my 6th time reading that series and still enjoy it. A highlight for me this year was to travel to Cleveland, Ohio to see Potted Potter. For any Harry Potter fans out there, I recommend the show.

I enjoy going to the movies and the theatre to watch other actors perform. Another favourite thing to do is to spend time building Lego with my brother, Alexander. We have a rule in our house. When we get a new Lego set, we have to put it together correctly the first time. After that, we get to be creative and change it up to whatever we want it to be. My little brother is so creative, so it’s a challenge to keep up to him. He’s also followed in my footsteps with acting, so we enjoy singing, or doing improv together with different accents that we pick up from YouTube videos that we watch. We have a really good time together.

 

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