Tag Archives: acting

Canadian star Dewshane Williams recalls ‘Dogpound’ and why he went into acting

From the time Dewshane Williams was a child, he always had one passion: film. He spent his earliest years watching movies and television shows as much as possible. As he grew, he started to see himself as an actor. After his first performance, when he was just a schoolboy, he was hooked. He began to immerse himself in musical theatre, writing, choreographing, and acting in productions. He never envisioned himself doing anything else, and today, he is one of the best actors to recently come from Canada.

Williams has spent most of his life in Canada, and has taken the country’s film industry by storm. He has starred in hit television shows, such as The Expanse and Defiance, as well as critically-acclaimed films like The Story of Luke and Home Again.

Williams’ first true taste of international success came in 2010 from his work on the film Dogpound. Georges Bermann, the Executive Producer of the film, credits Dogpound of launching a number of careers, including Williams’. His convincing portrayal of Frank the inmate was spot on and accurate, and Berrmann was incredibly impressed with the, at the time, not well-known actor.

“I noticed that Dewshane is the type of actor that focuses entirely on creating the best work. Watching him channel the teenage angst associated with juvenile distress made our director’s job easy. He’s a joy to work with. Dewshane’s generosity and focus are admirable qualities. I think his performance in our film speaks for itself; hard work goes a long way,” said Bermann.

 Dogpound tells the story of 17-year-old Butch, who is sent to the Enola Vale Youth Correctional Center in Montana for blinding an abusive correctional officer. He brings with him a deep-seated intolerance for injustices and a penchant for meting out retributions on his own. He becomes friends with two other inmates at the correctional facility, where they encounter gang violence, death, and harassment from staff and other inmates.

“This film is important because it’s a cautionary tale. It’s social commentary. If you look closely enough, it’s an opportunity to show anyone who’s going down the wrong path where they’ll end up. Particularly young people who might not have any idea what that kind of world is like,” said Williams.

In Dogpound, Williams played Frank. He was a juvenile inmate who worked as an enforcer. Frank starts a riot that involves everyone in the jail. His character has an important arc, as Frank appears to be an immoral character, but ultimately has a heart. Due to an injustice perpetrated against another inmate, he takes it upon himself to act, which was surprisingly selfless for the character. Williams is now known for taking on roles that will impact audiences, and at the time, this is exactly what he did.

Dogpound premiered in June 2010 in Paris, France, and later was an Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival. The director, Kim Chapiron, won the coveted “Best New Narrative Director” at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film impacted audiences and impressed critics all over the world, and skyrocketed Williams’ name in the Canadian film industry.

“The thought that anyone would pay me to do what I loved was a dream come true, it really was,” Williams recalled.

Dogpound was Williams’ first feature film. At the time, the entire concept of being on set and shooting a movie seemed unreal to the young actor. He auditioned for the role just dreaming he would get the part, but his raw talent eclipsed any lack of experience he may have had at the time. He greatly impressed the casting director, and won the role.

“It’s a standard thing to hear, but actors almost always have to audition for a part. Before getting to revel in whom you might be working with, you’ve got to compete. You’ve got to show everyone why you’d be able to bring something to the character. I studied for hours, trained with my acting coach, and left school early that day. I can remember being in Character the whole day, maybe that helped,” said Williams.

Once earning the role, a lot of research was required for Williams to truly understand his character. He read articles, watched films, and a number of documentaries. He credits a docuseries titled Scared Straight as being great source material for him to understand the juvenile delinquent correctional system.

“The film was a co-production between Canada, USA, and France. Most of our film crew had flown in from Paris, so I had to be a great listener on that set. English wasn’t our director’s first language, so I picked up a bit of French while shooting. I loved our crew; they really wanted to create a good film – I could tell, and that was infectious,” said Williams.

Now that Williams has become such a successful actor, it may be easy to forget that feeling of what it was like to be young and struggling, just dreaming of becoming what he now is. However, Williams remains humble, and Dogpound still holds a special place in his heart.

“You never forget your first film, and this one was mine. To this day, complete strangers come up to me and say ‘that film was so realistic, I would never want to end up in there.’ That’s the point, you don’t want to end up in Juvie,” Williams concluded.

 

 

Victor Gilbert reminds the world that a kiss should just be a kiss

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Victor Gilbert

From the time he was a baby, Victor Gilbert has been immersed into a world of full of films, acting, and make believe. Given the fact that his mother is a cinematographer, Gilbert has played child roles in several of her films and he has had the unique opportunity to test his acting skills against a number of different storylines and plots. Like most children, Gilbert loves to play pretend and he finds himself energized by the ability to play pretend for more than just enjoyment, but as a career. Playing a wide range of emotions interests him, and he thrives on the chance to explore playing different versions of “happy,” “sad,” or “mad.” For Gilbert, acting is all he’s ever known. It is a part of his family. He has grown with it and he wishes to continue to let acting grow with him for the rest of his life.

As he has aged, Gilbert has slowly branched away from filming with his mother and has begun working with esteemed production companies, directors, actors, and more. At the mere age of 10, Gilbert is taking the entertainment industry by storm and having earned such great success so early on in his life, it is intriguing to wonder where his talents will carry him next. One of his most notable works was for Netflix’s Hell on Wheels, where Gilbert played the son of a railroad worker called Jeff Strobridge, played by Reg Rogers. In this role, Gilbert had the chance to act alongside Rogers, Anson Mount, the series’ lead actor, as well as several other experienced professionals. It was a great way to expose himself to various acting styles and techniques, and since he was a recurring character, he had the opportunity to develop his character throughout each episode he acted in. Gilbert thoroughly enjoyed learning from the individuals he acted with, and submerged himself into the film’s extravagant, western-themed set. To this day, he considers it one of the highlights of his career.

Another of Gilbert’s more enjoyable projects evolved over the summer of 2016 when he aced the audition for, and won the role of Peter in the influential film, The Kiss. The Kiss tells the emotional story of a young boy, played by Gilbert, kisses another young boy at school. It is set in the 1950’s and unpacks a controversial dilemma for a mother who tries to understand what her child is going through. With the tag line, “a kiss should just be a kiss,” the film explores deep themes of love and homosexuality, and is gaining a substantial amount of praise from film festivals around the world. Being only 8 years old at the time of filming, Gilbert was unfamiliar with the emotional nature of the plot line and didn’t realize the importance of the topic in today’s society. Upon learning of meaning behind the film’s premise, Gilbert was eager to play such an impactful role. In fact, Gilbert’s character was pivotal to the The Kiss’ storyline and he set the tone for the entire film.

Gilbert credits his role in The Kiss as being the toughest he had ever played. Having to travel back in time to the 1950’s through the film’s costumes and set design was unlike anything Gilbert had ever done before. When filming, he had to act out emotionally charged scenes involving kissing another boy, being scolded by his mother, and portray feelings of fear, sorrow, and intimidation. Fortunately, Gilbert excels in any environment where he has to sell different emotions for the better of his character’s storyline. He has a remarkable ability to play multi-dimensional emotions and despite his age, he never struggled to explore a new emotion when asked. David Emmanuel, who both produced and acted in The Kiss, has nothing but respect for Gilbert’s natural affinity to play his characters as realistically and organically as possible. He was astonished to see an actor as young as Gilbert displaying qualities that even some of the most established professionals have not yet mastered.

“Victor had a very, – I cannot stress it enough – very difficult scene to act at such a young age. He had to pretend to have kissed a boy in school, to dress up, to wear lipstick, and more. Still, he did an amazing job and was so right for the role. He was extremely patient and open-minded for this movie. Not to mention, he was very professional on set for such a young age. He listened to the director very well and was open to giving his input whenever he didn’t feel comfortable,” noted Emmanuel.

If you ask Gilbert, however, the film simply helped him tell an important story to the world and he was happy to have had the opportunity. Even he himself was moved by his character’s strength and determination. To play such an integral character at such a young age is a rare feat for any child actor and he hopes to be able to do so again in future.

“I think the story of this film is important because there are tons of people who are still too shy to love another person of the same gender. I think these kinds of films help these people come forward. It is so important to respect people for who they are. Films have a big impact on people and they can influence generations,” told Gilbert.

Upon wrapping The Kiss, it made its way to several prestigious film festivals in Orlando, Los Angeles, Brazil, Cannes, Germany, Sweden, and many more. Gilbert, along with everyone else involved in the film, are excited to see where else The Kiss will go and how many more lives they can touch with this incredible story.

Michael Whalley steals the heart of ‘Jean’ and audiences in new film

There is a camaraderie that comes from playing sports. Everyone has the same goal, they wear the uniform, they experience the same victories and failures as a team. For New Zealand’s Michael Whalley, he experiences that same solidarity from acting. He represents the team while still shining on his own. He works with that team spirit to achieve the best result possible. He loves to play, and considers acting a serious game, as each new project brings a new match and a different opponent. To use such a metaphor shows how much Whalley appreciates the intricacies of his craft, and this understanding translates to raw talent for this celebrated actor.

With an esteemed resume and unparalleled versatility, Whalley is an internationally in-demand actor. While working on many acclaimed films, such as the 2015 award-winning feature Psychoanalysis, he has shown the world what he is capable of. His work on Slow West, alongside Michael Fassbender and Ben Mendelsohn, received praise from audiences and critics, and this trend occurs with almost everything Whalley takes on.

“To think I could be paid for doing the very thing I wanted to do every day was such an incredible thought, so I sought to make that my reality,” said Whalley.

Earlier this year, one of Whalley’s newest films was once again a large success.  The actor played the leading character of Beverly Shepherd in the historical romance Jean. The film tells the story of Jean Batten, New Zealand’s greatest pilot, heroine, celebrity, and mystery. Beverly Shepherd is the romantic lead in the film. Beverly is a man with a strong moral backbone, a sense of fun for life and a determination to challenge for the things he wants in both affairs of his career and heart. Despite being the only son of wealthy Sydneysiders, he lacks the pretension of wealth. He can read people and knows instinctively if they are being untruthful. Independent and modern, he is attracted by Jean’s adventurous spirit and mystery. His greatest struggle is attempting to protect Jean from decisions that would put her in danger, only to have to accept that she isn’t someone who wants or needs protection. He knows he has to play a long game of love to not scare her away. Jean had lovers in her life, but Beverly is the one man who truly captures her heart. In the story, audiences see how headstrong Jean is with her life and career, and when Beverley sweeps in and shows her glimpses of recreation, fun and love, he innocently threatens her focus, creating Jean’s ultimate emotional conflict. Therefore, the filmmakers required a seasoned actor to play such a pivotal role in such an important story, and Whalley was the obvious choice, with the talent and passion to go with it.

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Michael Whalley and Kate Elliot in Jean, photo by Ginnie Loane

“Especially in the past few years, it has been of growing importance to remind ourselves of the power women had in shaping the world. Too many films are one-sided in their portrayal of male heroes, and Jean was a heroine that defied the constraints of a male-driven world. The film, the first about Jean Batten, is a piece of entertainment, education and inspiration for New Zealand and the world to see. I had known of Jean Batten in the past, but this was a chance to see behind the tabloids and popular public image into the life of such a mysterious firebrand,” Whalley described.

After premiering earlier this year, the film has seen vast critical success. At the Film Awards New York 2017, Jean won an unprecedented nine awards, including “Best TV Movie” and “Best Drama Special”. These are immensely prestigious honors, as New York Festivals recognize only the best content from over 50 countries around the world. In addition, the film was successful commercially, airing on TVNZ, which reaches over 2 million people and has recently been acquired by distributor Banijay International for the ROW market. Such success could not have been possible without Whalley’s portrayal of Beverly.

“He brought a charm, wit and strength to the character of Beverly Shepherd that we could only imagine.” said the Producer and Writer of the film, Donna Malane.

Taking part in this period piece was enticing for Whalley, and as an actor he is always looking for new challenges and experiences to refine his talent. This story is set in the thirties, and Whalley researched the decade extensively to ensure he would completely transport audiences. Parts of this process were more fun than others, such as driving around an open top 1930s Model A Ford, and getting to know about the planes they were working with, which by a happy coincidence, were taught to Whalley by an old friend of his grandfather, Dennis. However, some parts of the preparation process were more grueling. Whalley had to take on the language, manner of speech and the classic nature of the period drama, and work to make that all ring true for his mouth, body and mind to create a genuine portrayal. To do this, Whalley infused his character with the parts of himself that fit best, which he tries to do for every role he can. This helps create an authenticity that captivates audiences, and what the actor is so well-known for.

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Michael Whalley in Jean, photo by Ginnie Loane

Whalley says getting into the mindset of the time was made easier by the incredible costumes designed by Kirsty Cameron. As soon as he put on his gear, he felt clean, classic and upright. “Putting on my costume became a very important part of my morning ritual to get into Beverly’s shoes, literally,” he joked.

Improvisation also was a great tool for the actor when preparing for filming. During rehearsals with his co-star, Kate Elliott, they would have a series of improvisations around the scripted dialogue, which he says was a sure-fire way to find out what they knew or didn’t know about their characters and the world of the film. These exercises were helpful as the role of Beverly was a refreshing change for the actor, who often plays “punks and public nuisances”, and the character of Beverly is very dependable and ethical.

The actor also uses music frequently to prepare for roles. For Jean, Whalley made a playlist specific to what Beverly may have been listening to at the time, mixed with songs from Postmodern Jukebox to “get in the zone to play”, once again, similar to an athlete.

Undoubtedly, Jean is a must-see, and Whalley is enchanting in it, as he is so well-known to be. His passion for the story is evident, and his passion for what he does is even more so.

“This was a chance to act in an historical and important story in both New Zealand and International history. The true love of Jean Batten, at one point the world’s most famous and respected women. To play a character who had the charm, wit, intelligence and pilot skills to win the heart of the Lady that kept it locked away,” concluded Whalley.

 

Top photo by Ginnie Loane

Anna Pniowsky masters different levels of fear to terrify audiences in ‘He’s Out There’

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Photo by Kevin McIntyre

Even at the age of 12, Anna Pniowsky understands that choosing to pursue a career as an actress would not be worth doing for the wrong reasons. It is a cutthroat field to work in and if you wish to become an actress for glamor or fame, it is unlikely that you will be able to withstand the pressure and the challenges that you will be faced with. Pniowsky knows that becoming an actress involves a type of perseverance that most individuals will never require in their lifetimes. She is always on her game, ready for any audition, callback, or role that she is tasked with. On top of that, she has mastered the ability to look self-doubt in the face and turn it away. Her love for acting transcends any obstacle that she comes across and by believing in herself and surrounding herself with people who support her dreams, she has no doubt that she will be acting for years to come.

“If you feel that acting is truly in your blood, remember the well-known adage – it is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a lot of auditions before you book something. You will feel self-doubt and you will want to give up, but if you truly love it, you can push forward. You just have to believe in yourself,” told Pniowsky.

Despite her age, Pniowsky has earned herself a breadth of experience and training in her field. Just this past year, she landed the lead role in a film written, directed, and starred in by Oscar-winning actor Casey Affleck. The film, Light of My Life, is a drama about a father (played by Affleck) and his daughter (played by Pniowsky) who live on the outskirts of a society that was destroyed by a pandemic ten years ago. Buzz about Pniowsky’s role in the film is already gaining traction as being a career-defining moment for the talented young actress and audiences everywhere are eager to see what happens when it premieres.

Prior to filming Light of My Life, Pniowsky won the role of Kayla in Sony Screen Gems’ horror film, He’s Out There. He’s Out There depicts the terrifying tale of a mother and her two daughters who take a vacation to a remote lake house and wind up being tormented by a murderer in the woods. In the film, Pniowsky acted alongside celebrated actress Yvonne Strahovski, as well as her little sister, Abby. She was paramount to the film’s storyline and appears in the entire duration of the film. In order to play her character as convincingly as possible, Pniowsky endeavored to master multiple different ways of appearing frightened. Since her character is scared throughout the entirety of the film, she felt it was very important to develop her character to be dynamic and she avoided appearing one-dimensional at all costs. With that, she developed various different levels of fear that she could transition back and forth between, depending on the intensity of the scene. In doing so, she created a character that audiences can relate to, and ideally, will identify with as they embark upon the journey that the film aims to take them on.

The film’s director, Dennis Iliadis, could not have been more pleased with Pniowsky’s performance. Knowing that the quality of the film rested entirely on the performance of his cast, he was determined to find actresses that could emulate the mood of the film directly into its audience. When asked about Pniowsky’s performance, Iliadis had the following to say:

“Anna was phenomenal to work with. For such a young age, she’s an actress of incredible intelligence, sensibility and instinct. I have never worked with a young actor or actress who is so hard working, disciplined and focused. We had a very emotionally demanding and technically difficult shoot but in those very challenging conditions, Anna gave a great performance in a role of strenuous physicality and very complex and heightened emotions. Even in the most difficult situations, Anna was always prepared, always ready to go. She really made the rest of us up our game.”

After wrapping He’s Out There, Pniowsky gained a new appreciation for the horror film genre. Most mainstream horror films today have one goal and that is to terrify an audience. It is rare, however, to be able to act in a horror film with an underlying moral compass. Pniowsky was fortunate enough to be able to identify the deeper meanings that the story tells. Not only is it a story that highlights the unrelenting strength of a mother’s love for her children, it also does an excellent job of emphasizing a journey of personal growth in Pniowsky’s character. She found herself inspired by the presence of strong, female characters in the film and feels that young girls can learn a lot from Kayla’s will and determination to survive. She loved seeing strong female characters taking charge and fighting hard for what they believe in. It is a message that women of all ages can carry with them beyond the film and into their own personal lives and Pniowsky was honored to be able to play a role in helping foster that movement.

Actress Marysia Peres dives into ‘The Mystery of Britannic’

In life, one must constantly be learning. No one will ever know everything there is to know, and this realization is what keeps us humble. For Marysia Peres, acting is the very same. She constantly sees what she does as a learning opportunity. This acceptance and realization is what makes her so extraordinary. There is no role that doesn’t excite her, as each comes with its own set of challenges to overcome. She is constantly working at being better, and as she is already one of Malta’s best actresses, this is no easy feat.

Whether it be modelling or acting, Peres is always at the top of her game. As a model, she has worked all around the world, showing off fashion trends and styles with large brands in many countries. As an actress, she has impressed international audiences, whether in the blockbuster Assassin’s Creed alongside Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, or the romantic travel tale Love to Paradise. No matter what she embarks on, she impresses both audiences and colleagues. Jonathan Pyatt, a fellow actor, has worked work Peres on four short films, as well as a commercial photoshoot for Vodafone. He believes she is a one-of-a-kind actress.

“It is always a pleasure to work with Marysia because she’s very professional, focused and dedicated to giving her best performance. She is very good at receiving feedback from directors and incorporating it onto her performance, as well as at communicating with her fellow actors. She has a good combination of intense focus and seriousness while also incorporating a nice sense of humor when appropriate, which is an important trait to help keep moods light at times during long filming days. I am always grateful when I sign on to be part of a project in which she’s also taking part because I know that it will help to elevate my performance,” said Pyatt. “Compared to other young actors that I’ve worked with locally, Marysia is the most dedicated and hard working. She also has a strong passion for the craft of acting and sees it not only as a job, but also as an art form. Due to the fact that she enjoys the process so much, she can perform at a very high level. She has a willingness to bring parts of herself into every role, which leads to authentic performances.”

Most recently, Pyatt and Peres worked together on the upcoming TV documentary mini-series The Mystery of Brittanic. The series, produced by U-Film, tells the story and research of the wreckage of the Britannic, the sister ship of Titanic, which shared the fatal fate of its predecessor during the World War I. The ship sank near Kea in the Aegean Sea on the 21st of November 1916. The project has two parts: underwater footage of the Britannic, the sister ship of Titanic that sank in 1916 near Kea in the Aegean Sea, and the re-enactment part of the tragic events. The reenactment portion follows the adventures of the volunteer nurse Eleonora Morrison (Nelly), played by Peres.

“The entire world knows about the Titanic, and I believe the Britannic deserves the same honor. It is a sister ship of the Titanic, it was used as a hospital vessel during WWI, and its story is both terrifying and fascinating. I am very happy that U-Film researched the wreckage site and decided to tell the story of this ship. I believe it will be both educational and entertaining for the audiences,” said Peres.

The character of Nelly was very complex and interesting for Peres to dive into. She is from an upper-class family, but against her family’s wishes she joins the Brittanic as a volunteer nurse. Her eagerness to help people takes her on a journey that changes her life forever. There is both strength and vulnerability to the character of Nelly; shy and introverted on the surface, she is brave and full of love and empathy on the inside. In the show, Nelly is the main character of the story. The re-enactment part of the docudrama is told from her perspective, and she is always in the center of events. The script follows her adventures, relationships, accomplishments and struggles. For Peres, is great to see such a female-driven story, and her embodiment of the character is essential for the show’s audience engagement. Her portrayal already impressed those she worked with, and will undoubtedly do the same with viewers.

“Marysia is a very easy-going and friendly person. Whilst shooting scenes it turned out to be very natural for both of us as we have already had a good chemistry. It was an honor working with Marysia and I do hope we will cross paths again in the near future. She is a very focused, ambitious, determined person and a very talented actress to say the least,” said Jeanette Cutajar, Actress.

Peres has always loved historical films, and when she had the opportunity to be a part of the show, she knew she had to take it. Initially, she was interested in a supporting role, but the director was so impressed with her talents, he wanted her as the lead. Peres was eager for the challenge, as she had never been a part of a docuseries before.

The Mystery of Britannic was a big budget production with a lot of comprehensive sets and filming in the open waters. It was the biggest local project of the year in Malta. Some days provided unique challenges for Peres: the cast was soaking wet in the cold, swimming and overcoming obstacles while trying to escape the sinking ship. She also had a day in the open sea, where her character swam in a dress while carrying along her best friend. Peres wanted to do the role justice, and extensively prepared. She researched the history of the time period, especially regarding Vera Brittain, a volunteer nurse on the Brittanic, reading her memoir Testament of Youth. These first-hand experiences greatly impacted the way Peres portrayed Nelly, and the authenticity is evident in the show. For Peres, her passion for the project eclipsed everything else.

“One of my favorite days on the project was when we filmed Nelly leaving her home and family to volunteer on the Britannic. The location was Palazzo Parisio, a beautiful venue in Malta, usually used for weddings and specials events. It was a spectacular day, full of beautiful costumes, family drama and decision-making for the character of Nelly. I also clearly remember the day we filmed in the open sea. The water was cold, and the sun was burning, we were filming the sequence when Nelly and her friends finally reach the lifeboat. It was such an emotional moment for all the characters, and although challenging to film in the open waters, it was truly special and memorable for me too,” said Peres.

The Mystery of Brittanic is currently in post-production and with the distribution company Fairway Film Alliance in Los Angeles. It will be released early next year.

 

Photo by AJ Singh

Michelle Howarth on starting difficult conversations through the art of film

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Michelle Howarth

What Michelle Howarth loves most about being an actress is having the opportunity to submerge herself into the lives of other people. She is fascinated by human beings and thrives on any opportunity to learn about unfamiliar cultures and places around the world. For Howarth, acting is a chance to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. When her characters feel pain, she wants to understand it. When they feel fear, she wants to know why. Beyond the empathetic nature of connecting with her characters, however, Howarth is grateful to work in a profession that provides a platform to channel untold stories and bring them to life. Oftentimes, this means shining a global light on a social, political, or socio-economic issue that the world may not fully understand, or even be aware of. It is one of the few occupations in the world with the potential to start important, controversial conversations and ultimately, change perspectives, minds, and lives.

“Acting can take you into a world with the potential to transform, educate and initiate conversations. It can affect audiences in different ways, whether you’re making them laugh or challenging their beliefs. Acting also allows the audience to escape into a different realm for an hour or two and experience a world beyond themselves… I think that’s really beautiful,” tells Howarth.

Howarth has taken her audiences on a number of journeys throughout her career, allowing them to escape their own realities for hours at a time and simply immerse themselves in her talents. She regards herself as a naturalistic actress, lending her authentic style to a number projects in television, film, and theatre. The esteemed actress is well known for her ability to convincingly transform into any character she sets out to play and is well known for her roles in television mini series such as OCD Mayhem, as well as film shorts like Mad House and The Comments. Recently, Howarth earned herself a role in the television series Hummingbird, and credits landing this role as being one of the greatest highlights of her careers.

Earlier on this year, Howarth auditioned for and won the role of Kelly in a psychological thriller called Madness Descending. The film, directed by Jimmy Cenci, tells the chilling tale of a brooding artist and writer, Devon, and his quest to complete his own novel. In the film, Kelly is Devon’s girlfriend and the story depicts the tole Devon’s creative process takes on their happy and loving relationship. One day, during the Christmas holidays, the couple experience a strange encounter with their landlord and the storyline spirals downward as Devon investigates the haunting truth inside their basement.

Playing Kelly was Howarth’s first experience within the horror genre and she was particularly eager to explore this new territory. She is very keen on the idea of expanding her skill set wherever possible and jumps at any opportunity to develop herself for the better of not only her career, but the entertainment industry as a whole. Cenci, who is used to working with extremely talented actors and actresses, was particularly impressed with the quality Howarth added to the film and knows that she was an integral cast member.

“Working with Michelle was a terrific and wonderful experience. She is extremely talented and a fantastic, professional actress – even in situations of great stress. I subjected her to some miserable situations and she rose to the occasion, exceeding all of my expectations. She is quick-witted, understands character development and takes direction well. All in all, she is a wonderful person, an exquisite actress, and a joy to work with. I’d be honored to work with her on any project in the future,” states Cenci.

What makes Howarth such a dream for a director to work with is her unwavering commitment to getting into character and to playing her part to the absolute best of her ability. Having only a week to learn the script before filming, Howarth meticulously learned her lines and ensured that she acquainted herself with the script in such a way that gave her a thorough understanding of how her character would think and act in the situations she was placed in. In the film, Kelly turns out to be a figment of Devon’s imagination. For this reason, Howarth dedicated her initial character analysis to learning Devon’s psyche, in order to grasp how he would’ve interacted with the character and which parts of his personality she would showcase.

Through this process of learning about Devon and about how he envisioned Kelly, Howarth was able to juxtapose the elements of his character that Kelly was supposed to highlight. In addition, she flawlessly mastered Kelly’s transition from Devon’s bubbly, fun-loving girlfriend into a fear-ridden, anxious character toward the end of the film. It takes an actress with unprecedented talent to be able to transform a character so drastically within the parameters of a single film, but Howarth did so with ease. There are no bounds to the quality of her skills and she was instrumental to the quality of the film.

“I liked the fact that I got to experience being the figment of someone’s imagination and having the challenge of portraying that as a reality for the film. I also like the arch of Kelly’s character and how she transforms from being the sweet, lovable girlfriend to a terrified mess, to an ultimately empty vessel devoid of emotion by the end of the film,” recalls Howarth.

The underlying message of the film is that Devon’s mind is a much more powerful tool than he knows, much like Howarth’s talents are far more profound than she may realize. The film is currently in post-production and is set to premiere in 2018. As for Howarth, however, her career is in full swing. She hopes to be a series regular on Hummingbird, as well as working on as many independent and feature films as her schedule will allow. She is also currently in production for two different films, one of which she helped write and produce. In all, she hopes to continue to act for the rest of her working days in order to keep telling stories that are worth telling. As far as she is concerned, the film industry is one of the greatest ways to initiate difficult conversations and she is honored to raise awareness to the important aspects of humankind.

Scott Michael Wagstaff talks new film ‘Pendulum’

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Scott Michael Wagstaff, photo by Kim Hardy

Creativity has always been a guiding force in Scott Michael Wagstaff’s life; it is his fuel. From a young age, he channeled that into performing. The buzz he would get from standing on a stage in front of a live audience was addicting. As he grew, performing was no longer about the thrill, but rather living in a place of honesty for himself, and inspiring audiences to do the same. It is this understanding that makes Wagstaff such an extraordinary actor today. He acts not only because he wants to, but because he needs to. There has never been an alternative for him.

Throughout his career, Wagstaff has taken not only his home country of England, but the world by storm. With memorable roles in BBC’s Doctors, 6 Days, The Time of Their Lives, and Final Reflection, audiences can see exactly why Wagstaff is at the top of his field. Recently, his accolades grew yet again, with a nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” at the FilmQuest Film Festival for his role in the new film Pendulum.

“Playing the role of Gwilym was a very fulfilling and a great challenge. The role required me to be a man of few words which is tougher than what it sounds. As an actor, you feel at times the words do the work for you, so when I found I had little to say to honor this role, and furthermore the story, it always seemed challenging. I had to just completely trust that I had everything going on already,” said Wagstaff

Pendulum is a film about two friends who seek spiritual salvation in India in advance of the impending collapse of the cosmos. It is a spiritual science fiction tale with a deep message, telling audiences the importance of being okay with themselves, who they are, and to stop attaching to everything else to distract from who they really are. Wagstaff plays the pivotal role of Gwilym. Gwilym is a very cold man, but has great care and love for his best friend Cerys. The role was entirely improvised, with no script. Wagstaff had to ensure that whatever he improvised would not only keep true to the story, but enhance it.

“What helped is knowing why Gwilym is so cold. He didn’t agree with the hedonistic and disconnected world in London, a result of the end of the world upon them, and had given up on connecting himself, thinking he’s better off alone without joining in the numbing of the end of the world. Once I understood that part of myself that wanted to numb from certain things in life did that then help me embody this character,” Wagstaff described.

In addition to Wagstaff’s nomination, the film is in competition at Encounters Film Festival at the end of the month, making the film BAFTA and Oscar qualified. It is an Official Selection at the Stranger With My Face Festival, NOLA Horror Film Festival, PUNE Film Festival, and of course, the FilmQuest Festival. It has just begun its film festival run, so it will likely be recognized much more around the world. None of this could have been possible without Wagstaff’s understanding of his character and his dedicated and captivating portrayal of Gwilym. He also produced the film.

“Scott is a generous and kind-hearted team member, who really wants the best for each member of the cast and crew and will go to lengths to let people shine. As a performer, he is able to deliver deep and emotionally connected performances in the trickiest of circumstances, always putting vast amounts of work in, and with the confidence to let his talents dazzle,” said Lauren Cooney, the Director, Writer, and Producer of the film. “As an actor Scott has a deep emotional well, on which to draw from, and is able to deliver truthful and complex performances in the moment. As a producer Scott is fully up for taking big risks, and jumping on board adventures. He seeks out collaborators who he is excited by, and is very committed to long-term work in this much-loved industry.”

Cooney initially invited Wagstaff to work on her film, knowing she needed the best actors to make her film a success, especially when it came to Gwilym. He is the catalyst for the lead female role Cerys to see that everything she has been searching for is right there within herself. Even though he comes across cold and disconnected, he breathes a truth into Cerys’ life about him being okay with being alone without him saying anything. He has a love for Cerys that helps her to see that love ultimately between human beings is what matters most – love of self and then love of others. The road trip to India wouldn’t have happened if Gwilym wasn’t there with her, as she wasn’t capable of being physically alone.

“On a deeper level, Gwilym represents people in this world who have great moral beliefs and want change, but don’t speak up until they feel they really do have to. It would be great if these people would speak up from the get go,” said Wagstaff.

Wagstaff had full creative freedom to create such an in-depth character. His instincts were almost always right, and very little was changed without his input. There was a great sense of teamwork on the film, and that is what Wagstaff loved.

“It was the ultimate meaning of collaboration to me and the people in the cast and crew were fantastic. I also loved that I got to travel around India with this film, I see the most radical and powerful sights and even ended up on a train for over three days travelling from one location to another,” he concluded.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Wagstaff in Pendulum.

Q&A with leading Canadian actor Darren Eisnor

Originally from a small town in Ontario, Canada, Darren Eisnor did not grow up aspiring to be an actor. It came to him suddenly, in an epiphany of sorts, and since that moment, he has never wanted anything else. Now, he is one of Canada’s top young actors, and he is quickly taking the globe by storm.

In many captivating performances, such as the films Holiday Joy and Early Release, as well as the acclaimed television show Anne with an E, Eisnor has gained fans from all over the world., and audiences are looking forward to his performance in the upcoming Syfy horror flick Never Knock. Currently, he is starring in the popular Blackpills series Skal, an enthralling story about the water disappearing across the planet overnight. To read more about the series, Eisnor’s career, and his life, check out the interview below!

IFR: What do you like about being an actor?

 DE: I get to be super cool. When people ask me what I do, and I say that I’m an actor as a career, they automatically assume I’m a cool guy. So that’s pretty cool. Really though, if you can get some lucky breaks and manage to carve a career out of the whole thespian thing, it is a ton of fun and incredibly liberating in a few ways. I’m the kind of guy who bounces around from friend group to friend group, and I’m always diving headfirst into new interests, as I like to keep things fresh and experience as much as possible in this life. Acting meshes rather well with that state of mind, because I get to become all sorts of different people in all sorts of different lives, and if I convince the right people that I’m really like those people – then I get paid for it!

It can be a great life experience for me to look at the world through all these different perspectives, even if it’s just for an audition or two and I don’t end up getting the part. We humans are such interesting and multi-faceted creatures, but I don’t think everyone gets the chance or has the courage to explore all their dimensions. Of course, there are some dark and dangerous sides to us as well, that are probably best left for the actors (and the Mixed Martial Artists). It really is a privilege to even have the opportunity to compete for all these roles that I go out for, and I am grateful for that.

When I first started training as an actor, it actually helped me in a therapeutic way. I didn’t realize how many emotional walls I had built up over the years, and I think this is especially prevalent among young men, and even more so for young men like me who were competitive athletes for most of their life. I actually think there is a fair argument for the building of these walls, because life is almost always very hard to tackle, and the battlefield of life can be easier to navigate if you are able to have a firm grip on your emotions. However, acting is a forum for the human condition to express itself, and to be successful and great at this profession, it seems to me that one must truly elevate emotional intelligence to a higher level of understanding and vulnerability.

IFR: Why did you want to work on Skal?

DE: Skal piqued my interest with its post-apocalyptic world, something that’s fascinated me in stories like The Walking Dead, or the Fallout video game series. At first, I auditioned for the role of Arthur, the outright leading role of the series. Arthur is a bit of a nerd, but he’s charismatic enough to operate a YouTube channel with three million subscribers. I submitted a tape that I really nailed down in terms of performance, and was really excited. The scenes they requested for the audition helped a lot in that regard, ranging from comical and cool, to raging and teary-eyed. I got a callback for it – but for the role of “Ylane”, which was a soon-to be-changed French name from the original French short film the series is based on. The character is Arthur’s best friend and manager, and an integral character within the series.

My agent set up a Skype session with the writer/director who is from France, Benjamin Cappelletti, who explained to me that my original audition was great, but I didn’t look enough like his vision of Arthur. He went on to say that I looked like a great “Ylane.” Luckily, I was able to flesh out this character into someone with some dark humanity, and they casted me! They even renamed the character “Darren” which was pretty cool, since I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to play my own name again.

IFR: What was it like working on Skal?

DE: Working on Skal was an outstanding career experience for me. Living in Montreal for about a month during this shoot really made me feel a sense of independence. Of course, it came with the great responsibility of carrying a lot of the burden of the show’s success on my shoulders, which was more than welcome on my end. This was exactly what I’d be looking forward to, and I wasn’t about to back down now that it was staring me down.

Darren was an interesting character to play. In the first episode, before the apocalyptic world is born, Darren is a bit of an arrogant showman, talking all sorts of big game to the hottest girls in the room. That said, he felt relatively happy and content in his materialistic world. But when all the bodies of water in the world dry up, he immediately adapts a “kill or be killed” mindset. While it’s easy to condemn that sort of regression, it’s easy for me to understand why someone would fall into that way of thinking in that sort of world. Although there are times when it seems Darren is being overly aggressive, often it’s hard to disagree with his sentiment in a world where you can’t trust anyone, or take any chances.

Every villain is a hero in the story of their mind, and that’s how I took ownership of Darren when he makes decisions that may seem wrong on the surface. There is one particular part of the series where I wish Darren were a little more heroic, but I remained entirely understanding of his motive of self-preservation. I think there’s also an automatic connection with a character when he has the same name as you – and when the other characters address me as “Darren” there is an added element of personalization.

I also tried to get into character for one particular series of events by going without food for a day or so. It was definitely tough turning down lunch that day on set, but at least the last meal I had before all that was a delicious all-you-can-eat sushi brunch!

IFR: What was your character like?

DE: The role of Darren is important to the story, firstly as Arthur’s best friend and Emma’s romantic interest. There’s an awkward love triangle going on where Arthur lusts for Emma, but never makes any moves on her. Darren is far from low on confidence, so him and Emma have been going at it for a while, and it really irritates Arthur – even after all the water dries up, and the apocalypse creeps on in. After survival mode kicks in, Darren and Emma clash often. Emma has an empathetic desire to help as many people as she can, but Darren understands that there is too much danger to risk the group, especially after they come across a huge stash of water bottles that could keep them alive long enough to figure out what the hell’s going on in the world.

The group runs into two other people named Frank (a police officer) and Malika (a nurse). Frank misleads the group when he comes into first contact with them, and Darren never trusts him again after that. There are many fiery exchanges while they try to escape the dangerous city, but as the season crosses the halfway point, tragedy strikes, and the pack is split up. Darren becomes a prisoner of a violent gang of brutal men. With his life fully in jeopardy, his every action has extremely high weight to it. In season two, I think I will be exploring an even darker side of Darren if we keep the fun rolling.

IFR: What was it like working with such an all-star cast?

DE: It’s important for there to be a good chemistry between cast members, especially when a group forms in the show and your characters spend a lot of time interacting with each other. Everyone got along really well, and really put their best foot forward with their performances in Skal.

In terms of performance, it was superb. Evan Marsh (who plays Arthur) was a consistent rock in the center of the production, and there’s one particularly powerful scene where we really pushed each other to emotional peaks. Oliva Scriven (Emma) managed to tolerate an intense make out scene with me, so kudos to her for that. She’s very popular on social media for her role on Degrassi, so it was nice to have her bring some viewers on board with that. Trevor Hayes (Frank) and Mariah Inger (Malika) were playing characters that “Darren” viewed as outsiders, and didn’t trust, and there were some great heated interactions between us on screen – especially Frank, the hard-nosed cop who doesn’t take too kindly to Darren’s big mouth.

Shawn Baichoo played a late-season villain named Pablo, who is a leader of a violent gang. I only got to work with him for a short period of time, but he really brought his A-game and played a convincing madman. They gave him a contact lens that made it look like he had a white “dead eye”, which added to the aura of evil. We had some intense scenes that he totally owned and showed a possession of confident power. I should also mention that little Chelsea Goldwater, who played a young child prisoner, helped add to the creepiness of the scenes.

This project was Benjamin Cappelletti’s “baby”. He’d been pushing this story for a while as a young filmmaker in France, and it was great to help bring his vision to life. His passion for Skal was evident, and even though there were a few moments of language barriers, we were able to communicate together and get the scenes done to his satisfaction.

IFR: The series premieres on the streaming app Blackpills. How do you think streaming websites have opened the doors for actors such as yourself?

DE: Well, obviously there is more opportunity than ever for an actor with all these new avenues of distribution. In the past, films were limited to festivals and cinema, while television series were limited to cable and satellite subscriptions. Now there are all sorts of streaming avenues out there for episodic series and films alike, and the opportunity to get quality productions made has never been greater.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have a leading role in Skal, and it will be interesting to see how Blackpills performs overall as a company. It seems they are aiming to get a firm grip on the mobile-streaming game, as their app is currently only available for mobile devices as opposed to TVs. I haven’t had the chance to observe many of the other shows on their app, but they have already granted out several second season renewals for some of them, so there is certainly a chance for us to get back at it. At the very least, the show is of high-quality and makes for solid demo footage to show other productions what I can do with a meaty role.

Blackpills also stands out with the brevity of each of their shows’ episodes; the average runtime for an episode of Skal was about nine minutes long. Today’s generation operate very much from an extreme lack of attention span, so this format is designed quite well with that in mind. Here’s hoping it works out!

Antonio Vigna talks adopting mindset of a serial killer

The first time that Antonio Vigna stepped onto a stage, he realized that he has a passion to entertain flowing through his veins. As he began to take on more prominent roles, he learned that there wasn’t a single part of acting that he didn’t enjoy. To this day, he thrives on the opportunity to step into the shoes of a new, different character every time he shoots a film or television show. He feels empathy for the unique situations that his characters encounter and he delves so deeply into his roles that he often catches himself feeling as though he is actually living through their eyes. The true joy of his job, however, comes from inspiring his audiences to overcome the hardships in their lives that are similar to those of the characters he portrays. For Vigna, knowing that he may be the source of hope in even a single viewer’s life is what motivates him to continue acting.

Vigna’s relentless desire to act has earned him a variety of diverse roles in several films and television series. During his work as an actor, however, he developed a profound appreciation for all of the intricate roles involved in creating a film and found himself intrigued to learn more about each one. Eventually, he realized that he enjoyed producing films just as much as he enjoyed acting in them, and his audiences are all the more fortunate for it. His talents as a producer are unparalleled and his works have landed him in several film festivals around the world. In fact, two films that he is particularly fond of, Dia de Muertos and In a Heartbeat were featured at the prestigious Cannes Short Film Corner in 2017. Despite his esteemed career as a producer, Vigna is still an actor and balances the two professions seamlessly.

In 2015, Vigna wrote the script for Perfection which depicts the unique, thrilling tale of a young artist struggling to find the missing piece for his masterpiece. It isn’t until the artist has an accident and discovers the solution to his masterpiece is human blood, which leads him on a terrifying murder spree. When Vigna pitched the script to his director, they knew that they were going to need a high calibre actor to take on the part of the artist. Fortunately, they didn’t have to look any further than Vigna, who had the exact skill set and on-screen presence that the lead role demanded. For the highly sought-after actor, this character presented a unique opportunity to flavour his career in a newfound way and he was eager to bring his own story to life.

“Actors often find themselves playing interesting, dynamic characters; however, one of the most complicated character types to play is a serial killer. I saw this as both an opportunity and a challenge to master the complexity of his mind. I knew that I had to find element of his personality that I could relate to in order to become him on screen in a believable way, which was extremely difficult but rewarding in the end,” said Vigna.

The film’s first assistant director, Markel Goikoetxea was just as pleased with Vigna’s performance as he was. Goikoetxea, being the first assistant director, witnessed the film’s progress from conception to the finished product and he knows better than most about the value that Vigna brings to his roles. His unprecedented talents were the reason that the film showed at prestigious film festivals such as the Hollywood Screenings Film Festival and Los Angeles Cinefest. He was even nominated for Best Actor at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival for his work on Perfection.

“From the very first time I saw the director and Antonio talking about the role, I knew that he was going to nail it. He is so detail-oriented and he gives his best no matter what role he is playing. His work is a reflection of the level of care and consideration he takes to develop his characters flawlessly. He is one of the most talented and hard-working actors that I have ever met,” told Goikoetxea.

The opportunity to play such an intricate, troubled character was a thrill for Vigna. The artist, much like Vigna, is passionate beyond comprehension about his work. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that the artist’s determination to bring perfection to his masterpiece pushes him to lose touch with reality and to be blinded by his quest for greatness. Vigna was drawn to the complexity of the role and enjoyed searching for the parallels between his passion for acting and the artist’s passion for his masterpiece. Playing the artist was a journey in itself.

So, what’s in store for the highly esteemed actor? Vigna hopes to continue acting in and producing the highest quality films possible. When asked about the highlight of his career to date, the talented actor and producer humbly replied that his career is a highlight in itself and that the best is yet to come.

Actress Isabella Richardson captivates in ‘Next of Kin’

For Isabella Richardson, acting is pushing boundaries. She throws her emotions into her characters, and therefore evokes viewers emotions, allowing them to see themselves in her portrayal. She is aware of the importance of her work and how it can impact the lives of her audience, and this knowledge allows her to fully commit to each and every role she takes on. The Australian actress is internationally sought-after, with an esteemed career at just nineteen years of age.

Working on projects such as the sketch comedy show You’re Skitting Me, and commercials for Beyond Blue and Sprite, Richardson has won audiences over with her naturalistic approach to her craft. She never overacts, and that is what makes her such an outstanding talent. This is exemplified yet again with her work in the acclaimed film Next of Kin.

“The story of the film is a relatable, but yet complicated interpretation of frustrations towards loved ones. We may get annoyed at the smallest things that someone you love does, but in the end, you adore them no matter what and should never take the little annoying things for granted, because you don’t know when they might be taken away from you,” said Richardson.

The short film follows a policewoman whose job is incredibly straining on her relationship with her husband, who is also her partner in the police force. She has moments in the film of annoyances towards her husband, but in the end, realizes not to take the people she is surrounded by for granted, due to receiving a call about a young boy who was caught up in a terrible accident causing his death.

“I really loved the director and his passion for movie making. The storyline of the film was incredibly deep, but also very simplistic that anyone who were to watch it would relate to the main character. I also believed that it would be an interesting character to try and put myself into,” she described.

Richardson plays Kristine, a character whose boyfriend has just fallen off a bridge and died after doing daring tricks on his skateboard. Kristine is undeniably devastated and has to come to terms with just seeing her boyfriend fall to his death. She is comforted by the police officers and asked questions of the accident immediately following it. Kristine had a broken outlook on life until she met David, but he was rebellious and would sometimes do things that made Kristine uneasy. He was thoughtless at times when it came to how Kristine felt about certain activities he took apart, specifically the people he hung out with. Kristine is the kind of person who needs someone there at all times, she is very co-dependent due to her late family’s careless upbringing, and she relies on a safety blanket, that being David. Kristine is quickly faced with another death leading her to start living an independent lifestyle with the hopes of recovering any day now from all the loss she has experienced in such a short time. It was the first moment of a turning point that led to the rest of the films outcome. It was a pivotal moment of emotion that was needed to spark the main characters and their involvement with each other, and Richardson more than met the task at hand.

“Working on Next of Kin was a truly interesting experience. I had never cried on camera, so that was probably the biggest challenge for me. I got into the mindset of this character by putting myself into her shoes. She had just seen her boyfriend fall to his death right before her eyes, so placing my own thought process into that situation brought up a lot of external emotion which I was able to translate into my characters own emotion,” she said.

When looking for an actress who could convincingly capture the vital role of Kristine, director Nicholas Carlton immediately thought of Richardson. The two had worked together previously on the moving coming for Beyond Blue, titled ‘Preventing Youth Suicide.’ Richardson’s portrayal of a seventeen-year-old troubled skateboarder greatly impressed the director, and he knew her talent would be perfect for Kristine.

“Isabella is featured in a short film that I directed called Next of Kin, and she played the character of a young girl who had just experienced her boyfriend’s death right before her eyes. Isabella brought a realistic aspect to this character. The situation is a devastating ordeal for a young girl to manage. She applied her training and techniques that she has learnt through her short years to reveal a compelling outlook of a simplistic character without any scripted lines. She worked with the me to fully understand the feelings that her character would have felt in that moment, as if she was in the characters shoes,” said Carlton.

Next of Kin went on to receive praise as an Official Selection at the Byron Bay Film Festival where it premiered. Without Richardson’s authentic portrayal of Kristine, such acclaim may not have been possible, but for the actress, she simply enjoyed working alongside great people.

“I loved being able to work with a great crew and cast. They all were incredibly lovely and I was met only with helpful, kind people. We all were there because we loved doing what we do and that was one of the things that made the whole experience so much fun,” she said.

There is little doubt that Richardson will continue to be a name to watch out for on both the big and small screen for years to come.