Tag Archives: Canadian Talent

Canada’s Aida King is worried wife and stepmother in action flick ‘Hemorrhage’

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Aida King

Being Canadian of Filipino descent and growing up in a multicultural downtown Toronto urban neighborhood, Aida King uses her prominence as an actress to be a representative of a world population sector that is still well under-represented in the entertainment industry. Her unique appearance allows her to portray a variety of cultures and she aims to provide a deeper understanding of different ethnicities. Through the creative arts, she can provide a fresh perspective and not only entertain her audiences, but also educate. With every project she takes on, no matter the genre, she makes sure to understand her character and their background, as well as what drives them. It is such a devotion that makes her such an outstanding actress, and a leader in the industry in Canada.

Known for her versatility, King has worked on a variety of genres as an actress, showing that she is capable of anything. Whether bringing on the laughs in Desert Drive or keeping you on the edge of your seats in the thriller War of Mind, this actress knows exactly how to captivate an audience.

King not only impresses audiences, but also those she works with, as seasoned Producer and Director Josh Mitchell was so moved by the actress’ work in his film The Convicted, which went on to several prestigious international film festivals, that he immediately offered her more roles on his future projects. The two also worked together on the 2015 film Hemorrhage.

Hemorrhage tells the story of a brawling hockey player who suffers from his fourth concussion and is forced to retire. He connects with a shady old high school friend and starts flipping houses, but quickly finds himself face-to-face with a dangerous Mexican gang. When they rough up his wife and kidnap his son – the gloves come off and he takes matters into his own hands.

“Everyone thinks that a pro athlete leads only a glamourous life. That being said, not all are successful as the main stars that are showcased. So many of them face their own unique set of challenges, especially if their career gets cut shorter than expected. The movie is an age-old warning to be careful of whom you associate yourself with,” said King.

Playing the lead role of Ana Chaffe, King was ready to take on a little bit of an action hero. She was a wife and step-mother that was stereotypically cautious and suspicious of her husband’s questionable associates. She was very protective of him and had been worrying about his future, ever since he was forced to retire from his professional hockey career. Her instincts turn out to be correct as she later suffers from her stepchild being kidnapped and her husband under the control of a criminal. Ana’s worry provided pivotal foreshadowing in the film, building suspense and emotionally investing the audience.

“It was a rush to play such a strong character, fighting for her husband and step-child,” said King.

While shooting Hemorrhage, King was required to handle a gun for the first time in her career. Even though it was just a prop, she found the experience quite unnerving. She researched how to shoot a gun, and despite never actually doing so, perfectly executed the scene. This was made easier because of how comfortable she was on set, extremely familiar with the entire cast and crew. However, there was a lot of testosterone on the sports fuelled action film, she joked.

“It’s such an overall different frame of mind when you’re involved in an action focused film. I enjoyed this new approach and the comradery that goes along with it. It was a great time to channel in all great angry female roles that I have seen on TV over the years,” she said.

The trailer for Hemorrhageis featured on Daily Motion‘s website, and the full film is available via Vimeo on Demand since September 2015.

“I am very proud of its outcome. The reviews have been kind and we are grateful for it,” King concluded.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

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Canada’s Romaine Waite terrifies audiences in sci-fi horror flick ‘Antisocial’

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Canadian Actor Romaine Waite

Romaine Waite has always been an outgoing person, a trait he believes has helped him greatly as an actor. When he was a child, growing up in Canada, he participated in school plays and drama programs, not because he thought it would be his career, but simply because that is what he enjoyed. It wasn’t until his early twenties when he realized he could truly follow his passion, and the second he got his first professional part, he knew that acting was his calling.

“I’ve always had this innate ability to connect with people in some way, making people laugh or causing disruptions, depends on who you ask,” he joked.

Now, Waite is a celebrated actor. His work in television series such as Star Trek: Discovery,Frankie Drake Mysteries, and The Mistimpressed audiences in not only Canada, but the rest of the world. His versatility knows no bounds, and he is always looking for a new way to explore his talents.

“Romaine is great. He makes my job a lot easier. He is the consummate professional and a very dedicated and crafter artist. It is always pleasurable working with him,” said Alan Moy, Producer who worked alongside Waite on Murdoch Mysteries and Usher the Usher.

Waite recalls his first real taste of international success as the sci-fi horror flick Antisocial. The movie follows five university friends who gather at a house party to ring in the New Year. Unbeknownst to them, an epidemic has erupted outside, causing outbreaks around the world. With nowhere else to turn, they barricade themselves indoors with only their phones, laptops, and other tech devices. They use their devices to research the possible cause of this outbreak. Information and video footage over flow their computers as they descend further into the cause and the ensuing chaos. As the virus spreads, the mood in the house changes from fear to paranoia. Who is safe? Who can they trust? Reality becomes blurred as they slowly discover the source of the virus causing the sickness… and there is no going back.

“I thought the story was clever it takes something that everyone was familiar with, being social media, and took it to the extreme. If you take away the gore, it’s basically what we’re experiencing today. Snapchat, Instagram, etc. have become these tools that are allowing people to share every single aspect of their life. In a way, I think the film talks about a very important subject in our society — what are the effects of social media and what are the limits and consequences of sharing too much on social media,” said Waite.

In the film, Waite plays Steve, one of the five friends gathering to celebrate New Year’s Eve. He was jovial and sincere university student. Audiences got to see him enjoy time with his close friends and girlfriend. Unfortunately, he was first in the house to experience the epidemic that trapped them in the house. This is pivotal, as Waite was responsible for getting the audience to truly understand the epidemic, and therefore the film. Within the film, Steve was the only individual who the audience was able to see go through a full transition. With this, the audience knew what the signs were and what would happen if another character was to get infected.

“It was really important to me that people felt the struggle of this character. As he tried to figure out what was happening to him without revealing anything to others in house. Through my portrayal, I hoped the audience would feel like they were a friend to my character and miss this him when he was gone,” Waite described.

The film had its premiere at the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal back in 2013, and from there went to several high-profile international film festivals, including Calgary International Film Fest, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival. From there, it was distributed through Monster Pictures on DVD, through Super Channel, and on iTunes. Such success could not have been possible without Waite’s portrayal of Steve, hooking audiences to the story early on.

“It’s always nice to see an indie film do well. It takes so many people and long days to make a film. To me the success is in completing the project. I am proud of everyone involved,” said Waite.

Antisocial was Waite’s first horror feature film, and five years later he still looks back and coals the experience amazing. At the time, he was still very curious about the process of filmmaking and how it all would come together, and he could not have been happier with the result. Everyone on set was professional and inspired, creating a contagious energy. He found himself watching everyone on set, from the cinematographer to the special effects make-up artist, taking everything in and reminding himself why he wanted to be an actor in the first place.

“I liked the comradery. Everyone was really passionate about the project. We were all stuck in a house for weeks. Friendships were built, and some good memories were made. I hadn’t done anything like that before. Overall it was a great experience,” he said.

Be sure to check out Antisocial to see Waite’s terrifying performance as Steve.

Using makeup to embrace womanhood with Allison Giroday

Allison picture sitting down
Allison Giroday, photo by Liz Rosa

There is a common understanding in the fashion industry that clothing, and makeup are products that you buy, but style is what you do with them. Style is eternal. It doesn’t fade when new trends emerge, or when old trends divulge. For makeup artist, Allison Giroday, style is inherent, running deep through her veins. She credits her love for fashion and makeup to the fact that she grew up in one of fashion’s most acclaimed decades: the 1990s. She recalls herself as a young girl, inspired by the token 90s bombshells she’d see on billboard signs and magazine covers. She even remembers her 13-year-old self, locking herself in her school bathroom, trying all sorts of tips and tricks to achieve Pamela Anderson’s signature smudged-eye and baby pink lip look.

“I thought those women were just the most beautiful women in the world and I would stare at their pictures, studying their makeup. I collected fashion magazines and watched Fashion File. I never anticipated that I’d be in the position I am, looking back on those days. Now, the greatest feeling in the whole entire world is when a client gets excited over the reflection she sees in my mirror. It doesn’t matter whether she gasps, smiles, tears up, or sits up taller, it brings me a pride like no other. Every woman deserves to feel beautiful, powerful, and confident. I love the fact that I get to be a part of that,” raved Giroday.

Fortunately for Giroday, she has been able to be a part of that journey for a number of different people, projects, and publications over the duration of her career. For instance, Giroday was referred to hit Canadian artist, Lights, in order to do her makeup for Canada’s largest, most prestigious music event, The Juno Awards. She has also worked for several other celebrities such as professional basketball player, Steve Nash, and successful rap artist, Lil John. Her work has even found its way into publications such as Glassbook Magazine, British GQ, Life & Style, Reader’s Digest, and several others. When founder and editor-in-chief of Mother Muse Magazine saw Giroday’s work, she knew she had to bring her on board for her publication.

Mother Muse is a fashion and lifestyle printed coffee table book, available worldwide, that focuses on the quality of slow living and modern motherhood. It is rich with artwork, articles, interviews, and editorials intended to inspire everyday women and everyday mothers to follow their passions and to live life to the fullest. Due to its heavy emphasis on style, Mother Muse is often full of unique images of models, beautiful color schemes, and several other style inspirations. It is important, therefore, that Mother Muse work with exceptionally talented artists to shoot images that will captivate their readers’attention at first glance.

They begin every shoot with a mood board selected and prepared by the editor with a description of the woman or women that will be featured. This is when Giroday begins to determine how best to match her model’s facial makeup with her other style and hair elements. In a constant determination to outdo her former self, Giroday places great emphasis on keeping her makeup looks current and ensuring that she doesn’t fall behind on the latest trends. With that, she conducts research in her own time to ascertain that she is providing her clients with the latest and greatest that the cosmetics industry have to offer.

“Success has the ability to breed complacency and that’s an easy trap for an artist to fall into because at that point, you stop continuing to grow. It’s important to want to stay inspired so that you never fall out of love with what you are doing. To me, the term makeup artist really is about the art. I don’t just apply makeup, I paint the canvas. My goal is to make my client feel like it’s the best makeup they’ve ever had and I’m so passionate about that,” noted Giroday.

In addition to her passion for makeup itself, Giroday loves working for Mother Muse, as it allows her to explore femininity with every shoot and to embrace the qualities of a goddess. She has crafted her talents so much over the years that she manages to evoke emotions of power and wisdom through the makeup looks she presents and with that, her work tends to flow seamlessly alongside the rest of the magazine’s team. She loves being able to work with other organized, motivated individuals to promote and celebrate the nuances of motherhood, and womanhood in general. What’s more, is that Giroday gets to see the final outcome of her work in print form, a dying art. She loves the fact that she can pick her work up, hold it beneath her fingers and touch it. The amount of dedication and love she puts into her work makes it all the more exciting when she gets to hold it in her hands.

Overall, Giroday considers herself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Mother Muse in the past. Every time she is brought on board for a project with them, she remembers exactly why she fell in love with their publication in the first place. She also takes great pride in knowing that Mother Muse has been covered internationally by Yahoo Australia, as well as the Daily Mail. It has also showcased the faces of popular celebrities like Selma Blair and Brie Bella. Next time you’re walking by a copy, pick one up and witness Giroday’s greatness with your own eyes.

 

Written by Sean Desouza

Liam Casey Sullivan takes destiny into his own hands

It has been said that destiny doesn’t come down to chance. Rather, destiny is a choice. It isn’t something to wait for, it is something to be achieved. Growing up with actors as parents, Liam Casey Sullivan has always known that entertaining was his destiny; however, rather than wait around for his fate to unfold, Sullivan took matters into his own hands and began doing the very thing he knew he was meant to do. His childhood was charged with exposure to entertainment and other forms of artistic expression. With that, his imagination ran rampant and he was captivated by the world it molded around him. As a result, the talented young actor is no stranger to the stage. Whether he is acting in a theatre production, on a television program, or on the big screen, he is determined to ensure that he never lets his calling escape him. He was born for the screen and knows that with the right amount of hard work and dedication, he will be able to continue along a path to greatness and enjoy it.

Since the outset of his career, Sullivan has earned himself a number of different roles across various entertainment mediums. For instance, when Sullivan was just 10 years old, he felt more than ready to begin his acting journey. The unrepresented, eager young artist had compiled a portfolio of head shots and information about himself, as well as his skill set, and to his avail, was recognized by renowned director, Pat Mills, who wanted Sullivan to act in his upcoming film, 5 Dysfunctional People in a Car. The film comedically follows five individuals during a car ride to drop their grandmother off at her retirement home.

Given his desire to immerse himself into the entertainment industry, Sullivan recalls the experience as feeling absolutely surreal. On top of the excitement of simply getting to act professionally, knowing that his first ever film went on to successfully screen at several North American film festivals, as well as to secure a win for Best International Short Film at FilmOut San Diego, was all the more exciting for the enthusiastic Canadian actor. In addition, he was over the moon when BlogTO named 5 Dysfunctional People in a Car one of the top 8 must-see films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

5 Dyfunctional
LIAM CASEY SULLIVAN AND SHANNON FORD 5 DYSFUNCTIONAL PEOPLE IN A CAR, PHOTO BY PAT MILLS

For the film, Sullivan played a character by the name of Robbie Gordon, intended to be the ultimate heartthrob and the coolest kid in his school. He exists within a constant buzz that results from his popularity, keeping his friends close and turning his nose up at anyone else he crosses paths with. Stereotypically, girls crush on him, his grades lack, and his ego fills every room he enters. In order to play Robbie as convincingly as possible, Sullivan made an effort to channel the excitement of entering the acting world at such a young age and allow him to appear conceited and aware of his reputation. In addition, he seized the project as an opportunity to act as a sponge, absorbing as much information as he possibly could from his experience on set, working alongside other talented actors and under a skilled director. He took note of the hard work and processes evolving around him, vowing to bring his skill set up to par and to start off his career with a bang.

“I was so fortunate to be able to witness a group of people so passionate about what they were doing at the young age of ten. It really solidified my aspiration to continue to do this for the future of my career,” recalled Sullivan.

After working on 5 Dysfunctional People in a Car, Sullivan dedicated himself to pursuing other meaningful roles. He continued to surround himself with like-minded creatives and seizes each new learning experience as ferociously as he did for his first. Since that very first film, Sullivan has gone on to work on a number of other successful projects, such as Mary Goes Round and Degrassi: Next Class. Sullivan is a firm example of the notion that by combining his talent with a willingness to learn and a determination to find work, he can turn his dedication into positive outcomes. For other young actors looking to seize their destiny, Sullivan has the following advice to offer:

“Always challenge your emotional capacity and don’t be afraid to take leaps outside of yourself. It is surprising how well you can do when you consistently test the boundaries of your work. It is really important to always keep in mind how many people go into making a production successful and it is crucial to trust your collaborators. Whether that’s your director or your fellow actors, developing solid trust amongst each other is a great way to achieve results. Be that firmly supporting and believing in your director or fully engaging with another actor in a scene, always remember that achieving greatness in this industry is solely based on the collaboration of many.”

 

Written by Annabelle Lee, top photo by Joshua Augusto

Production Designer Elisia Mirabelli creates new worlds through her artistic eye

For Canada’s Elisia Mirabelli, Production Design is an element of acting, inhabiting another person, stepping inside of their world, and feeling their story. Each time she begins a project, the seasoned production designer tries to imagine herself as the character whose space she is creating. She asks herself why each object in the space remains there, the history behind it, the psychology of how and why a space is divided the way it is. How much time has been spent there? Who a character lets into their space? What it looks like if their alone in it vs what it looks like if a friend is over? She maps out a life in artifacts, creating backstory, revealing loves, interests, experiences, peeling back another layer.

“Production Design for me is really designing and shaping the insides of a person outwardly. In a practical sense, production design is the construction and creation of a film’s overall look through its set and prop design,” she said.

Mirabelli has a decorated resume, with esteemed projects such as Night Owl, Pretty Thing, Let Me Down Easy, and many more. She has created the background for celebrated music videos and popular commercials and collaborated with some of Canada’s biggest networks.

A highlight of Mirabelli’s career came in 2013 when she did the production design for the prolific network MTV. Working with Bell Media and MTV Canada, Mirabelli designed the promo spot MTV #IN24, a collaboration between FORD and MTV promoting MTV’s new cross-platform series #IN24. It aired domestically across the country on MTV Canada and online at MTV.ca and was winner of the 2014 Media Innovation Awards and also received the Silver Award from Best in Cars & Automotive Services.

For the commercial, Mirabelli designed an indoor forest equipped with real foliage, taxidermy and textured dirt flooring. She and her team built the forest set around the Ford Fiesta. The set included a pathway for actors to dance on and a green screen backdrop for day and night simulated VFX.

“Working with MTV was always a dream of mine. It’s such an iconic production company with a history in creating unique, youth focused, genre pushing content. Additionally, the task of designing and creating an in-studio forest set was super exciting. Designing for a company as iconic and groundbreaking as MTV was a career milestone,” she said.

Mirabelli’s time with Bell Media was filled with exceptional projects. She did the production design for a commercial for CP24, a Canadian news network that reaches more than 3.1 million viewers a week and 3.7 million in all of Ontario. The commercial CP24 Moving at the Speed of Your Morning aired nationally on CP24. It went on to win the 2017 Promax Promotion, Marketing and Design Award.

When working on the commercial, Mirabelli refitted an outdated living room with new furnishings, lighting and small props and set accessories to make the location feel more modern, fresh and bright. She built five custom, faux LED screens that were set in each of the four locations. The LED screens played a pivotal role in the promo as they acted as the transition between scenes, with the camera travelling in and out of each of them. Additionally, her team managed the food styling for forty plus extras.

“The opportunity to create and work on a commercial for CP24’s morning show was really exciting. CP24’s morning programming brings in millions of unique viewers a week, so it was really incredible to work on something knowing that it would be reaching such a large audience,” said Mirabelli.

That same year, Mirabelli also worked with The Space Channel on their holiday programming, creating the commercial Spacemas and highlighting The Doctor Who Christmas Special. To do so, she designed a string of sets that replicated a collection of unique living rooms, fitted with holiday décor. The main set included a 14-foot Christmas tree that sat next to a scaled replica of the Doctor Who Tardis, brought in for the shoot from outside the province. The promo relied heavily on its production design and the ability to design a string of living room sets all captured during a single day of shooting. It went on to receive the 2017 Promax Promotion, Marketing and Design Award: Channel: Holiday or Special Event Spot.

“Space Channel is known for creating content that’s wonderfully lively and ultramodern, an ode to its fantastical programming. Working with props from the BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’ series was a real thrill. Additionally, working with the creative director of The Space Channel was awesome and I’m such a fan of his originality,” Mirabelli described.

Once again in the holiday spirit, Mirabelli worked on Christmas commercials for Gusto, Bell Media’s speciality food channel. The set of commercials launched Gusto and was their first national holiday campaign, an opportunity that excited the production designer. After the commercial series, Gusto was nominated for International Channel of the Year at the 2016 Content Innovation Awards. It aired domestically across Gusto’s sister channels (34 channels total, including The Discovery Channel and TSN).

To create the commercial, Mirabelli built a winter wonderland themed set equipped with half a dozen 8-foot-high white trees, 250 presents, a snow machine, teal lights and custom-made glass ornaments spelling out the names of the program’s hosts, which included Jamie Oliver and Martha Stewart. They were able to design and build two unique, modernized Christmas sets that completely distinguished the promo in an ever-crowded market of holiday programming, which was no easy feat.

“Reimagining the look of a holiday promo into something fresh, modern and cool was fantastic,” Mirabelli said.

Undoubtedly, Mirabelli will continue to be a formidable force in Canada’s film and television industry. Keep an eye out for her work.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

Overcoming diversity barriers in the industry

My name is Xiao Sun. I was born and raised in China before coming to Canada nine years ago. The performing arts has always been my passion and I have been getting up on a stage to express myself since I was only five years old. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of Hollywood’s elite, like Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Charlize Theron, and most recently Seth Rogan, to name a few.

Like many in this industry, my path towards becoming an actress has been unique. I originally started off as a dancer, training for ten years in Chinese traditional dance. I travelled around China with my team, competing and learning along the way. My dance background taught me how to express myself through performing arts from a young age, and I was later hired as a dancer in Cirque du Soleil’s touring show Amalunain Montreal, Canada.

After moving to Montreal with my parents in 2009, I also began modeling. I joined Miss Universe Canada and was one of the top 10 national finalists and was awarded the Best Runway Model award. At the time, I was the first Asian contestant to ever receive this prestigious award. That was when I realized, maybe for the first time in a professional sense, that I had the power to overcome diversity barriers and become a role model for other Asians looking to make their way in North America’s fashion and entertainment industries.

It was after this experience when I began pursuing my truest passion: acting. Not too long afterwards, I booked my first ever film, Fatal (Universal Pictures), and my career kicked off. However, as the years went by, the only roles that I was getting were those that were specifically looking for Chinese actresses to play “hot girl” or “girlfriend” or “receptionist” or “best friend”. I was and still am very grateful for these roles and how they helped develop my career, but I was beginning to want more. Very few casting calls were looking for Chinese or Asian actors for leading roles, and none of the roles had any real substance.

Recently, the trends in the industry are changing. The success of Black Panther was just one of many awakenings for Hollywood, showing production companies that films not only starring minorities, but also celebrating them, can become massive successes both critically and at the box office.

Television is undergoing a similar paradigm shift. Just last month, Glamour published an article titled “Now Trending on TV: The Sexy Asian Hunk” highlighting the many hit shows that feature Asian actors in the starring roles, playing roles that go beyond the typical stereotype often associated with Asian characters. This is exactly what I, like many Asians in the industry, love to see. However, even with all the progress that has been made in the last two years, dynamic female Asian leads are still very underrepresented.

For the first few years of my acting career, I was building quite the resume, but was still finding myself playing secondary characters that showcased Asian women in a way I found stereotypical; I was either hot, or nerdy, or a funny best friend, or a combination of the three. I wanted to be able to develop a role, get into the substance of the character, and really show a wide range of emotions while reminding myself why I got into acting.

I decided to slightly change the roles I was going for. I started going to less auditions, as I started picking roles that I felt were more suited to what I felt I wanted, and what I thought would be more interesting roles for an Asian woman. This included my 2016 appearance on Syfy’s Incorporated. The story took place in a future where the United States was no more, and China had taken over as the global superpower. I played a public influencer that encouraged and inspired people to save the kids suffering in areas affected by natural disasters caused by climate change. In Mother,opposite Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, my character was a huge fan of poetry. I travelled days to see a famous poet (played by Bardem) to tell him how much I liked his work, and my character was just a normal human being on this planet. These roles did not require a specific ethnicity. These types of roles are the type we should all strive for.

My most recent role, in Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron’s film Flarsky, I once again had the opportunity to play a character that was proudly Chinese. Initially, the role did not specifically call for an Asian actress, as the film was still being written. After getting the role, the finer details were ironed out, and I was written as a powerful Chinese executive passionate about rescuing animals. This character is passionate and complicated, and the kind of character I always dreamed of playing when I first set out to become an actress.

For too long, Asians have lived on the edge of screens. Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu were pioneers in overcoming such barriers, and in recent years, minorities are having more and more opportunities to take on roles that highlight their culture but are not limited to that audience. Asian actors still have a long way to go, but I would encourage all looking to break out in the industry to keep trying. Go for roles that you are passionate about, write the character you want to play in the story you think is important to be told, be proud of your accent, and sooner or later, audiences will have their own Asian “Black Panther” to look up to.

 

Written by Xiao Sun

Go behind-the-scenes of Korean hit ‘The Society Game’ with TV Exec Dan Cazzola

For Dan Cazzola, a career in television was always what intrigued him. He never had a back-up plan, and never needed one. Starting out as a producer, he found his calling, as every day he was doing something different and meeting new people; every day was a learning experience. Overseeing every aspect of a show, from beginning to end, was exciting to this Canadian native, and as a producer, he brought shows to success in both his home country and internationally.

Cazzola has now moved on from producing just one show and is currently the Vice President of International Development for Endemol Shine North America, the world’s largest television production group. Working on the corporate side allows him to lend his talent to a variety of current and upcoming shows. Having previously worked for Shine Group in the United Kingdom, he brings years of experience to his role.

“I worked with Dan over many years at Endemol Shine, and he is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He continuously strived to make every single project we worked on top-notch, and always managed to succeed. On top of all this, he is an extremely positive force in the workplace, always encouraging everyone to do their best work. He is a leader, and I am happy to also consider him a friend,” said Fotini Paraskakis, Managing Director, Endemol Shine Asia.

One of Cazzola’s largest successes abroad was with his work on The Society Game, a South Korean reality TV series, which he co-created. The format was similar to Big Brother, where contestants are isolated from the outside world, but instead featured two teams competing against each other with the twist that one side had to live as a democracy and the other a dictatorship. It was a social experiment to see which society was more effective and which types of leaders would rise to the top and win the game. The show premiered on TVN in October 2016 as their tenth anniversary special series where it was extremely popular and was picked up for a second season.

When creating the idea for the show, Cazzola tried to think of a format that could take place in Korea but resonate with other countries. While brainstorming, he asked himself, what is something many people associate with Korea? His answer was the North and South divide. This is when inspiration struck to have a reality competition show with one team representing dictatorship and the other democracy to see which was ultimately better.

“My favorite thing about working on this project was that we actually shot it outside Seoul close to the border of North Korea. It was a constant reminder that the show we were filming actually was real life for these two countries. We would see the military helicopters flying over every morning and night and the rugged mountain range that we could see in every aerial shot was the physical barrier between us and the DMZ,” Cazzola described.

TV, as Cazzola says, is a universal language. However, its development greatly varies around the world. The Society Game was Cazzola’s first experience with the Korean market and television production in the country. Not only were there language barriers to overcome, but processes were different than what Cazzola was accustomed to. This provided a pivotal learning experience for Cazzola, who at the time had only worked on television programs in Europe and North America. Cazzola and his team set many strict targets and made sure everyone knew exactly what the plan was. In the end, they developed, filmed, and aired the show all within a mere nine months.

“I loved that I not only got to work on an exciting new reality format idea but that I learned all about Korea and how they make TV there. So much of TV can be inward facing and the best part of my role was that I learned how it all comes together there. I learned new ways of doing things and also saw great creativity from the team there. I had a huge amount of respect for them,” said Cazzola.

The Society Game was a large success for Cazzola, as it was his idea that sparked the hit. Now it is a successful format currently being adapted to sell around the world, and Cazzola’s understanding of various markets are one of his greatest assets when scoping out international formats for American television.