Prolific, versatile a nd boundlessly engaging, actress Scherrikar Bell is one of the most well established and recognizable forces in contemporary British television. From her earliest appearance small screen on venerable BBC series “EastEnders” Bell’s gift for creating authentic characterizations has made her a familiar and in-demand talent.
With an impressively spectrum-spanning skill set—uniformly adept at comedy, drama, action or horror—the London born-and-bred Bell is also equally at ease doing feature films, TV commercial spots and cutting edge hip-hop music videos (her mesmerizing performance as the lethal hit girl/assassin in rapper SL’s viral “FWA Boss” clip has been viewed almost 5 million times).
Along the way, Bell has become somewhat of a staple at the famed BBC network. Following her “EastEnders” debut, she graduated to roles on popular soap opera “Doctors” and currently co-stars on top sketch comedy series “Famalam” (the program earned both BAFTA and Royal Television Society UK Awards nominations in 2019).
Bell’s appreciable renown and popular cachet with viewers made her a natural choice for another significant BBC assignment, the leading role of narrator on “The Victorians.” Produced by the networks educational online Teach division and aimed at elementary school students. the collection of cross-curricular films explores contributions made by innovative 19th century Britons in the fields of science, geometry, history, arithmetic, art and music.
While the concept may sound dry as dust, the series focuses on both the familiar (Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria) along with lesser known characters (Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Pablo Fanque) and Bell’s light-hearted delivery—deft, loaded with charm and easy going appeal—is anything but tedious.
The presentation may seem deceptively casual but Bell, throughout, is actively involved with the instructive aspect and its particular subject—she slyly interacts with each historic figure via quips and conversational asides—creating a captivating overall tone that affords each topic an ideal showcase.
Bell’s knack for impeccably timed witticisms, put over with irresistibly cunning ease, creates a perfect persona for her youthful audience, one that thoroughly engages and informs the viewer—and making over Industrial Revolution-era civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel into an intriguing character is no small feat.
Bell pulls it off with a low-key yet spirited joviality that not only holds the viewer’s interest, it enhances and elevates each episode to a level where education and entertainment coexist with delightful effect. “The Victorians” is both a significant addition to Bell’s already notable resume of credits and an impressive first entry to the world of children’s television. Marvelous stuff.
Acting, for Natalie Charles, was never a choice; it was a destiny. As a child, growing up in Toronto, Charles secretly put on plays alone in her room, letting her imagination run wild. At the time, it was a way to entertain herself, but now, she entertains the masses.
Charles is a sought-after actress in her home of Canada and abroad, working on many of the country’s biggest films and television shows. Fans may recognize her from Suits, Sensitive Skin, Residue, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and so many more. One of her most recent roles was the recurring character of Nurse Connie in the award-winning series Mary Kills People.
“I am so proud to be part of such a successful show. This is not an easy subject. It must be told with care and dignity. To bring all of this to the forefront can be a daunting task. We have to be able to relate to the people on screen, which in turn may help us to give someone time and concern,” she said.
Mary Kills People follows single mother Mary Harris, a dedicated ER doctor with a deadly secret. She and her partner, a former plastic surgeon, are angels of mercy; or more commonly referred to as, angels of death, who grant terminally ill patients their wish to die with dignity.
“I had been following this project during its first season and knew I wanted to be included in telling such an important story. This topic is so divisive; it can bring out the worst in people. It is not a subject easily understood and if we are able to put a face to some of the stories, it can go a long way towards understanding and healing, instead of hostility,” said Charles.
Charles’ character Nurse Connie is one of Mary’s trusted staff, who keeps her mouth shut but her eyes open. She is meticulous at her job, and nothing gets past her. If someone wants to know something or wants the truth of a situation, they ask her. She may also let them know before they ask, but always gives the truth.
In a pivotal storyline, Connie recognizes, as does the doctor, what is happening with a patient and does her best to calm him. She is also keenly aware of what is happening between the ‘bickering’ doctors. She then risks her job to deliver important information to a former colleague, which changes the outcome of a police investigation and lawsuit. Charles was more than up to playing such an important role in the iconic show, and heavily related to her character.
“Because of what was happening to me at the time, Nurse Connie was familiar. I had to be all knowing of what was happening in my home. All of it; eating times, Personal Support Worker arrival times, medical appointments. Connie and I shared a lot of duties,” she said. “In my personal life, if I could go back and have this discussion with family, certain things would have been done differently. This is not an easy topic, but one that deserves consideration. Everyone has the right or should have the right to decide how they say goodbye.”
Despite the serious nature of the show, the on-set environment was very lighthearted, full of laughter and enjoyment whenever Charles got to work. She entered the show’s second season, and although everyone had worked together for a year prior, they made her instantly feel like one of the team. This made it easy for her to focus on the story.
“I like the shocking reality of the storytelling in the show. As important as this topic is, we can miss the everyday aspects of life that can build up to some of these scenarios. The choices we make have origins in the simple acts or feelings of our day. You can’t decide you know what is best for an individual if you don’t understand their plight,” she concluded.
Be sure to watch Mary Kills People to see the compelling story and Charles’ captivating performance.
As an industry leading hair and makeup artist in Australia, Zuleikha Stevens does not simply apply some makeup and style hair, she transforms people. Every day, she makes people feel like the best version of themselves, enhancing one’s natural beauty and allowing them to feel good on the inside as well as out.
“You can really change someone’s day or moment in their life. As a makeup artist, there is a beautiful trust that your client enlists in you to transform their face,” she said.
From sporting events like Big Bash and Supercars to renowned channels including MTV and Network 7, Stevens has conquered the beauty world in Australian television. She loves the versatility of her chosen career, with something different to look forward to on every new project.
“You can be a part of so many different and exciting things from red carpet, to live music, sports, advertising, editorial, news, TV drama, breakfast shows, etc. You can take your makeup skills anywhere in the world,” said Stevens.
Stevens mentioned breakfast shows because of her work with Sunrise, Australia’s number one morning show. As one of the main makeup artists for the breakfast show, she is a pivotal part of the team to make sure the looks are current, appropriate and on trend and that everyone gets to air on time and ready for a three and a half hour long live show.
“I love working on Sunrise and have for years; the challenge of live TV is exciting. It’s the number one rated breakfast show on Australian TV. The show covers everything from news, sports, the days hot topics, entertainment and current affairs to everyone right across the country,” said Stevens.
Stevens personally takes care of Entertainment Main Host Edwina Bartholomew, Sport Host Mark Beretta and Co-Host David Koch every day, as well as a variety of guests. The guests vary every day, and can be famous musicians, celebrities, doctors, journalists, specialists, politicians and more.
“It’s people telling their story. I love the variety of people we meet and get to do hair and makeup on. I learn a lot from everyone that sits in my chair and knowing everyone’s story brings so much more to my life. It is so nice to have someone in my chair and watch them transform with makeup. This is vital for them to feel confident and good when going on screen,” said Stevens.
Stevens thoroughly enjoys working on Sunrise as she gets to use her hair and makeup skills, and get the talent looking and feeling good. She makes decisions with the hair and makeup depending on what the hosts are wearing, what their look may be, what they are talking about and basically the overall feeling of the day. She even sometimes utilizes her fashion stylist/wardrobe skills if anything needs to be steamed, changed, or mended. To do all of this, Stevens always has to stay on top of trends and work quickly. Working with the talent and wardrobe department in regard to looks and trends is extremely important for a live morning show. All of the hosts need to look good together. On top of this, Stevens and her team start work very early every morning and are often some of the first people the hosts see, so they need to be energetic and ready for anything live TV can throw at them.
“It is so nice to be part of such an ongoing successful show, seeing your makeup work up on the screen day after day and showcased all over the country. Seeing something that I do that I am passionate about every day is so great, it makes getting up in the middle of the night worth it, especially when the hosts are happy, and you meet so many amazing and talented guests and make them feel good. Being part of a team that brings so many stories and news to everyone’s lives is a great feeling,” she said.
Sunrise is on Network 7 every day at 5:30 a.m. Be sure to give it a watch to see the touching stories and Stevens’ beautiful work.
As a musician, Alex Stewart knew that performing never intrigued him. Instead, it was the avenues of music that didn’t involve a stage. With a passion for television and the movies, he found himself drawn to the power of a score and its ability to alter the emotions of a scene. He realized at only 16 years old that he wanted to be a part of the aspect of movie magic and has never looked back. He is now a celebrated composer with countless esteemed projects on his decorated resume, and as the masses enjoy his work, he knows this is what he was destined to be doing.
Stewart has made quite a name for himself in his home of Australia and in the United States, composing for hit shows like Paradise Hotel, The Contender, and The Curse of Civil War Gold, and films like Cosmic Fling. He knows how to entertain through his music, and how to tell a story. Composing for reality television requires a unique touch, as it is real people’s lives you are conveying through each note. He executes such a large task with perfection with every project he takes on.
“I believe that a piece of music is only as good as its fundamental idea. If your melody, chord progression, or original idea is bad, then there is no way the piece can be good. I often spend the most time working on just the idea because it’s easy to build the piece if the idea is good. Badly written music can easily ruin a project,” said Stewart.
Music is an essential part of the experience when watching any film or television show, and Stewart knows this well. On Fox’s acclaimed reboot of the reality show Temptation Island, Stewart knew that his score was of the utmost importance to keep audiences engaged.
In this social experiment, four couples at a crossroad in their relationship put their love to the test by giving “single life” a try. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, they’ll take a break from each other while living in separate houses with sexy singles to discover if there is another partner with whom they are more compatible. In the end, will the couples leave together? Will they leave with one of the island’s “tempters”? Or will they break up and go home alone? Whatever the outcome, there is plenty of drama along the way.
“As we watch the events and drama that unfolds, it raises questions that many people might not normally ask themselves about their own relationships, both intimate and not intimate. Some of the people in this show rediscover a love and value in their partner, and others realize that maybe they’re better off taking different paths. It’s important for us to question why we choose to have certain people in our lives so we, as individuals, can thrive and not let others stand in the way of us getting to where we want to be,” said Stewart.
Stewart works with the immensely popular music production company Burnett Music Group on the show, who constantly reach out to the composer for contract work, knowing he is one of the best. Burnett was looking for a modern pop style sound with elements of tropical music that underscored the drama. This presented a fun challenge for Stewart, as these are two styles of music that do not typically go together. Therefore, a lot of the music he wrote for the show is electronic, but with instruments that make one think of the beach, like ukulele, steel pan, bongos, and conch shell. They were also looking for a vast range of emotions, everything from deep sadness, to upbeat dancing music, and Stewart delivered. His music captured the show very well, letting the audience be taken away with the cast to the tropical island through the sound, and also amplifying the emotions in each scene.
“I liked the challenge of combining modern pop with tropical/island sounds in various emotions and energy levels. But outside of that, I really liked working with the other people on the project. Everyone involved was an awesome person and easy to work with. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to get better at writing quickly. Sometimes I struggle with getting things done fast, so I used this project to practice getting music written and mixed within a day. I always enjoy challenging myself,” he said.
Temptation Island premiered on the USA Network on January 15th, 2019. It was a weekly episodic show that ran for 11 episodes, with extremely high ratings. For Stewart, that success is secondary, as he just likes to make music that audiences enjoy listening to.
“It feels nice to know that I was able to be a part of a show that so many people enjoy. It was a great project to contribute to. Seeing all the ads and hearing people talk about it online has been awesome and I’m certainly happy that most of the reviews and talk around this show has been positive. I look forward to the chance to work on another season,” he concluded.
With every new role he takes on, Kevin Clayette gets to do something completely different and transform into someone brand new. For the actor, it is immensely fun, like playing make believe. He dives deep into his character’s back stories, journaling their thoughts and researching their backgrounds. With his characters, he gets to challenge himself, doing things that scare him and meeting new people, travelling to different places in time, adopting different cultures, and he loves every minute of it.
“I play make believe for a living. I get to be the little five-year-old inside of me who didn’t care what other people would think. I get to be different people and to observe the world around me for a living. I am a storyteller,” said Clayette.
Throughout his esteemed career, Clayette has shown audiences all over the world just why he is such a renowned actor. He captivated audiences in the award-winning science fiction horror Doktor without uttering a single word and sang his way to fans hearts in the cult classic Emo the Musical.
Despite all of his success, Clayette claims the highlight of his career came back in 2016 when he was cast in the iconic Australian soap opera Neighbours. Australia’s longest-running drama series, Neighbours follows the lives and dramas of the residents of Ramsay Street, a quiet cul de sac in the fictitious Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough.
“I like that it’s one of those shows that doesn’t try too hard to be cool. It’s just really simple, it’s about the life of these characters who live on this street and what they go through. It’s obviously an important story because the show has been running for more than 30 years. I think people just find it really relatable which is amazing. We all need to recognize ourselves in something or feel inspired by something. Shows like this allow us to disconnect from real life for a moment. Neighbourshas also been known for dealing with important topics like bullying, depression, and much more,” said Clayette.
Playing the character of Dustin Oliver, Clayette had to transform into a homeless twenty-year-old who spent his life going in and out of foster homes. Dustin becomes best friends with Jack, a main character in the show, but quickly creates drama when he kisses Jack’s girlfriend Paige, creating a love triangle that completely captivated fans of the soap. Later on in the series, Dustin helps Jack remember who he is after he suffers from memory loss, allowing Clayette to become a fan favorite during his time on the show.
“I portrayed my character in many different ways ranging from a light charismatic side to a more dramatic and troubled persona,” Clayette described.
Even though his character is portrayed primarily as a good guy, Dustin has some anger issues because of his rough upbringing, and uses boxing as an outlet for stress relief. Clayette therefore had to learn boxing, which he had never done before, and utilize those new skills in choreographed fight scenes.
“It was truly incredible. When I first learned who I was going to play, I wanted to make it as believable as possible. I started thinking about my character’s background and researched on the show to get more context. Then closer to the shooting dates, I started receiving my scripts, which would have a lot more information about my character. I then proceeded to learn my lines thoroughly and put pieces of the puzzles together in regards to my backstory and who my character was. I loved the challenge,” he said.
Clayette loved every second of his time on Neighbours. Fans of the show still reach out to him, two years later, saying how much they loved his character and his acting on the show. He never grows tired of it and is still honored to have been part of such a wildly popular series.
‘It felt incredible. I’m following in the footsteps of many other amazing actors who were there before me. At the end of the day, I was only a piece in this gigantic machine, but I feel very honored that I was a part of it. The fact that I came from a tiny little French island in the middle of the Pacific, not speaking any English and managed to make it on there is something I’m very proud of,” said Clayette.
Undoubtedly, Clayette has had a career many can only dream of, and at just 25, audiences can continue to expect greatness from this extraordinary actor for years to come. He has many exciting projects in the works and has no plans on slowing down.
For those looking to follow in his distinguished footsteps, he offers some wise words:
“Be proactive about it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. The former because luck is not something you want to rely on,” he advised. “There are so many actors out there, you have to create opportunities for yourself. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities will come your way. If acting is your dream, then you should not allow anyone to take that away from you. Believing in your dream and yourself is 50 per cent of the job.”
As a fashion photographer, Adam Flipp captures feelings and energy with his viewers that communicate a message and act as aspirational for a consumer. He uses art to evoke commercialism, using his unique eye to capture visual masterpieces that many of the world’s largest companies then use to market their products and brands.
Flipp has made a name for himself in Australia as a celebrated fashion and portrait photographer, working with some of the world’s most recognizable brands. He has travelled the world doing what he loves, shooting for Hewlett Packard, Johnny Was, Magic Millions, Nike, and many more throughout his well-established career.
Throughout the years, Flipp has also shot for many high-fashion projects, including the tenth season of the iconic series Australia’s Next Top Model. Australia’s Next Top Model is the extremely popular Australian version of America’s Next Top Model, on which Flipp performed a leading and critical role as a photographer. Flipp was a photographer in the models’ screen test challenge. After this, he shot the models in a session at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. These shoots prominently featuring Flipp aired on Episode 5 of Season 10, which aired on television in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Asia featuring world-renowned model Gemma Ward. He worked closely with stylist Jessie Heart, who asked Flipp to join the team.
“Working in Tasmania was amazing and probably the coldest environment I’ve ever worked in. The grass crunched when you walked on it and seeing how determined the girls were to succeed in these punishing conditions was inspirational,” said Flipp.
Flipp has previously seen the show and aspired to be better than any of the other photographers they had. He had found previous seasons often had stiff photographers, and he didn’t want to come across as wooden and tight, because he knew it would make the aspiring models nervous. He therefore pretended that he wasn’t being filmed and focused on doing the job as if it was like any other fashion shoot he had conducted in his past.
“The location was amazing, and the crew were really cool. They were all true professionals,” he said.
The photoshoot challenge for Flipp’s episode was to send the girls into freezing cold conditions to model in swimwear and activewear. Therefore, Flipp had to get high results quickly, especially because the models were also inexperienced and had never been shot in these conditions before. Flipp managed to produce photos that captured the beauty of the freezing scenery and the essence of each model.
When Flipp first looked at the models, he was worried that the season would not produce a model worthy of the opportunities that the finalist receives for winning the show. However, the moment Flipp put his camera on Aleyna Fitzgerald, he knew she was the winner. He found that immensely rewarding, helping launch the career of someone so deserving. For the photographer, it felt like destiny.
“I love the fact that the end result of the show is that one of the models gets given the chance of building a really successful modelling career. In this case it was Aleyna Fitzgerald,” Flipp concluded.
When Ranran Meng was just a young, artistic child growing up in China, she became enthralled by the possibilities of the movies. She would sit in front of the screen in awe, blown away by the infinite possibilities that the medium offered, taking audiences to different places in time, and making the impossible, possible. The more films she watched, the more she began to wonder just how every element was made, and she found herself intrigued by the idea of creating something that wasn’t there during shooting and making it very real for viewers.
“The world has no limit, we can produce an image from the past or from the future, from down the road or other galaxies. Films present these worlds that are so real to us and show us something we would not experience in our day-to-day, or even our lifetime. I told myself as a child that I would one day be a part of creating these new worlds,” said Meng.
Meng now is living her childhood dream. As a compositor, Meng uses advanced visual effects techniques to create the impossible, which she has done for revolutionary projects like The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them VR Experience, making the world of Harry Potter accessible to fans through virtual reality. She has also vastly contributed to the success of many award-winning and critically acclaimed productions, from HBO’s hit show The Deuce to Showtime’s Golden Globe winning mini-series Escape at Dannemora.
Another career highlight for Meng was working on the award-winning film Fahrenheit 451. Starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, the film is based off the dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury, a story that Meng was a big fan of before the film was even announced.In a terrifying care-free future, a young man, Guy Montag, whose job as a fireman is to burn all books, questions his actions after meeting a young woman, and begins to rebel against society.
“The story talks about a future American society where books are outlawed and ‘firemen’ burn any that are found, focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas. I like this story because it satirizes the society that tries to control and restrain people’s minds. This society phenomena actually still exists in our world, and it is important to present this to the audience and make them think and do something,” said Meng.
Fahrenheit 451 premiered at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival in 2018 and aired on HBO on May 19th, 2018. Not only did it captivate audiences, but it wildly impressed critics, and went on to receive several award nominations, including five Emmy nominations. Such success makes Meng very proud, who worked tirelessly to make the film the success it became.
Rather than using VFX to create the impossible, for Fahrenheit 451, Meng used various software to refine every shot, creating an immersive experience for the audience. For this work, the goal is for viewers to not even realize she touched up a scene at all, removing background images that would take away from a shot or inserting important elements into the background to maintain consistency. For example, for the full view of the city shots, there were a lot of lighting boards on the top of the buildings; Meng removed the boards and created new building tops. Also, they shot the film during Christmas time, but that is not when the actual story takes place. Therefore, Meng had to go through every shot and eliminate any Christmas decoration or element that would imply it was the holiday season. It takes a refined eye to catch every detail, but Meng was more than up for the task.
“I like stories that are based in the future and have a science-fiction theme. This is new to me, as it was my first time working in the genre. The images are different and fun to watch or work on. They have a lot of effects in it,” said Meng. “I like the creative work in this project, I needed to change the environment from Christmas period to just a regular time of year, so I used elements in the footage to erase or fill out the scene. It was interesting for me, kind of like creating a whole new environment.”
Meng’s work for Fahrenheit 451 allowed audiences to travel from modern day to the future, just what she envisioned doing when she was a little girl. Creating a clean and complete environment for the film was pivotal to its success, and Meng was more than happy to be a part of such a moving and inspiring cinematic work of art.
“I am very happy to see this film presented to the audiences. To show this satirical story to more people and introduce such a good novel to a larger audience, it’s great. Maybe it can make people think about how knowledge is important. I think this movie is a good influence on the world and shows people what a free world should be. I am proud that I could be a part of it,” she concluded.
The most successful art is that which is universal and international in its nature. That which needs no translation and has an appeal that transcends the local identity. The same can be true for the artists which present said art; when we see something of ourselves in them, we are more welcoming. This is an apt description of actor George Zach who seemingly always appears as the character but in a way that doesn’t seem foreign. It’s a benevolent part of this actor’s career which has spanned theatre to film, Australia to numerous other parts of the world. From his Logie nominated role as Michael in Loulla to the metaphysically mysterious priest in Six Steps to Eternal Death, Zach has always found a way to perfectly fit in. There’s an element from his early childhood which contributed to this template and blossomed into a highly successful career.
Australians know George Zach well from his appearance in the iconic 90’s comedy film Nirvana Street Murder. Zach starred with other well-known Aussie actors such as Golden Globe nominated actor Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Dark Knight Rises) and Mark Little depicted the culture clash of Greek immigrants and Australians in the country at the time. As a first generation son of Greek immigrants himself, George’s preparation for this role was literally a lifetime in the making. His own lineage has blended ideally with a number of productions in which he has been cast. These range from comedy to drama to…well, something altogether different. As someone who grew up with and rejected stereotypes, George was happy to take part in the SBS TV production English at Work. This ground breaking series dealt with issues relevant to people of non-English speaking backgrounds in work place environments. Presented in a dramatic documentary format, it afforded Zach the opportunity to portray an immensely diverse set of characters. He informs, “It was a really important and revealing program. Facets like the Australian sense of humor was explored. A joke in one person’s language can easily be an insult in another person’s culture. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. The propensity to be misunderstand is enormous. I did enjoy this series. It reminded me of how difficult it must have been for my parents and other immigrants who faced challenges which I can only imagine.”
Completely contrasting this very real world type of subject matter; George appeared in Peter T Nathan’s (known for the award winning Australian TV series Shortland Street and Home and Away) Six Steps to Eternal Death. Selected an Official Selection of the Celtic Mystery Short Film Festival, nominated for Best Supernatural Film at the New Hope Film Festival, and a recipient of awards from the Bucharest Shortcut Cinefest and others, this highly stylized and does not lend itself to a logical interpretation. Zach appears as a priest in an Alternative Universe where a Mother is forced to accept she is dead and move on. The actor notes that the power priests held over parishioners in his youth gave him insight into the role.
Equally fantastic and much more menacing is Zach’s appearance as King Oleander in Michael Loder and Charles Terrier’s fantasy/war film A Little Resistance. Driven to madness over the death of his wife, King Oleander embarks on a campaign of obliteration that ultimately results in his own daughter taking up arms against him. The personification of evil in its extremist form, George relates that he found the experiences quite enjoyable. For the affable actor, the role seems to have been a catharsis. Actors often take the painful circumstances of others and live through them, coming out wiser in the end. For George Zach, there are infinite more experiences awaiting him and his admirers.
Helen Finnimore always envisioned working in the creative industry. As a child, growing up in Bristol, United Kingdom, she had a fascination with everything that happened behind the scenes. Even at a young age, she would sit and watch the credits at the end of a film or television program, seeing all the different roles it took to make a masterpiece. Now, years later, she still watches the credits, but she sees several familiar names among them, including her own.
In her youth, Finnimore joined the prestigious ITV Television Workshop in Bristol, England, their motto: “training tomorrow’s talent, today!” The workshop was established in 1985 and a resource offering experience for young people aged five to 25 in performance and production skills required for Film, Television, Theatre and Radio. Some very famous faces have walked through its doors! While at the workshop, she secured a children’s presenter role fronting a Channel 5 educational programme for two-five years olds called Look.
“In each programme I would pop up at a different location and chat about where I was and what I was up to,” said Finnimore.
Some 300 programmes later, as well as fronting the programme, Finnimore did everything on camera from feeding penguins, giraffes and lemurs and holding a lion cub to making Easter treats and Christmas crafts.
“I even got to travel to Wilmington in America and present an episode at Peggy Farrell costumes. I absolutely loved it, and it was here that gave me a real sense of what it’s really like in front of the camera,” she said.
Now, Finnimore is currently a Senior Casting Producer in the UK, and a leader in the industry behind the camera. Soon, she will be heading across the pond to Los Angeles to take on the role of Casting Executive for Lazy Bear Productions Inc., and she could not be more excited.
Lazy Bear Productions, based in Los Angeles, has headhunted Finnimore to work on a number of upcoming projects. One of which will be as a Casting Executive on Chatterbox, a new family primetime game show, and another of which is Off the Scale!, a large-scale entertainment show following a cappella groups around the United States. She will be working across both series, from pre-production through to filming.
“I’m looking forward to what the future has in store. 2019 is going to be an exciting year ahead as I’ve been approached by a television company in Los Angeles to work across and head up some of their new major projects, which I’m really excited about. Although I’ll never tire of working in casting in the UK, I am keen to broaden my horizons and pursue other opportunities,” said Finnimore.
While new opportunities and challenges lie in wait across the pond, Finnimore has made quite a name for herself on British soil. She has worked on countless successful film and television projects, and had the honor of sitting on the RTS Awards Selection Panel. She’s also interviewed the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Jake Gyllenhaal and George Clooney on the red carpet at the BAFTAS. She was responsible for securing talent on the UK’s debut series of The Voice Kids, something she never grew tired of, as was constantly amazed by the children she came across.
“I’ve always loved working on children’s programming and of course jumped at the chance to work on The Voice Kids. A big brand format with quite a reputation, I couldn’t wait to take on the challenge,” she said.
After meeting with the Creative Directors at ITV, one of the UK’s largest networks, Finnimore was tasked with finding the best casting talent to join the team, and once they were secured, she had the challenging task of figuring out how to approach the series, from an already well-established format. Word of the UK launching its first Voice Kids series got some serious attention and the pressure was on to deliver, and with Finnimore at the casting helm it did just that.
“We uncovered some remarkable talent over the series, some of which have continued on making an even bigger name for themselves, such as Courtney Hadwin, the Janis Joplin phenom with YouTube clips viewed over 50 million times,” said Finnimore.
Despite her vast success, Finnimore credits working on a bunch of educational programs for a company based in Sweden as the highlight of her career. She was able to travel the world doing what she loves most, casting for what the company deemed as the “project of all projects”. Finnimore had to cast 12 different teenagers living in different parts of the world, ready to tell the story of their life. She worked on her own, scouting and securing the cast, setting up shoots, securing licenses and permits, coordinating with film offices and tourist boards, managing the budget, booking the crew, and more. Once the cast was signed off, she spent weeks liaising with the scriptwriters and talent. When it came to film, she flew out and worked as the sole Producer/Director on location as well as the location stills photographer. She was the driving force of the show and got to meet some incredible teens with captivating stories.
“I met with local crews and filmed in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Nassau, Ottawa, New York, and Los Angeles. When I returned back to the UK I continued to work for the company, casting shoots in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and India – it’s the most I’ve ever learned in my career. Having all that responsibility and workload, working out of an office at home, certainly gave me some incredible skills. It has to be the hardest job I’ve ever done – but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do it,” she said.
Undoubtedly, Finnimore has had a career many can only dream of, just as she did as a child staring at the names moving across the screen on the credits. Although it is a hard path, she encourages all those looking to follow in her footsteps and achieve their dream of working in the creative industry to never give up, just as she did.
“Don’t let anything stop you. It’s a fantastic career; it’s challenging, relentless, ever-changing, exciting and fulfilling. No two days are the same, no two projects are the same and if you’re good at what you do, you’ll get plenty of exciting offers on the table,” she advised.
Be sure to check out Off the Scale! and more of Finnimore’s exciting new projects throughout the year.
As a Producer, Chandra daCosta wears many hats. She is a manager, financial analyst, filmmaker, and storyteller. It is the latter that she most enjoys in her role and combining creativity with business drives her. Development is a large part of the process, which entails finding interesting stories, people, or cultures, as well as coming up with new angles/spins on ideas that are already successful. In production, it’s all about details, logistics and ensuring things run smoothly and everything is taken care of. DaCosta excels at all aspects of producing, and her talent has led her to being a respected producer in Canada’s entertainment industry.
DaCosta finds herself drawn to the “Lifestyle” genre when it comes to her work, working on shows involving real estate, food, dating, and more. Such projects include Oxygen Network’s A Wedding and a Murder, Global TV’s The Stanley Show, and Animal Planet’s Biggest and Baddest.
“Chandra is a pleasure to work with. She is a skilled negotiator and effective producer. She knows the television industry well and is good at leveraging her many contacts within the industry. She is also a remarkable creative producer. She was the driving force behind Cruise Buzz from both a business and creative perspective in addition to being the on camera host,” said Lori Massini, who worked with daCosta on Cruise Buzz. “Chandra is intuitive and knowledgeable. She brings skills as both a business and creative producer to her projects. She has a sense for what works and doesn’t work and has great ideas for content. In addition to being a skilled producer, Chandra is magnetic on camera and makes an excellent host. Cruise Buzz was a terrific show and I have no doubt Chandra will continue to develop and produce top-notch content.”
It was Cruise Buzz that daCosta calls the highlight of her esteemed career. It was her show; she created it, developed it, found a production company to produce it, and put all the teams together. She was in charge of all the creative and business aspects for the show.
“I remember being on the Windstar cruise in the middle of the ocean and realizing that this was all because of my efforts. It was a real sense of accomplishment because it seemed like we were faced with road block and road block, but I just kept ploughing through. Being on the cruise ship, shooting our pilot episode was epic to me,” she said.
Cruise Buzz highlights the world of cruising, from big ships to small river cruises, all over the world.The premise of the series was “there is a cruise out there for everyone.” daCosta truly believes that. There are so many different types of cruises and itineraries to choose from, and daCosta wanted to show viewers their options. From a River Cruise through China, to the Baltic Cruise on a luxury liner, there is something that can win the heart of any traveler. Whether they want to explore the ports of call or visit foreign ports from the comfort of their stateroom deck. It’s a great and safe way to travel.
“This project was one of the best and challenging projects I’ve ever done. The idea of a travel cruise show was the perfect way to combine my love for travel and TV,” she said.
Every day daCosta worked on Cruise Buzz was an exciting and unique experience. She began with working on the pitch documents, episode ideas and brand integrations. Everyone she approached about being involved was excited about the show.
When she was trying to decide where to shoot the pilot, it was important to daCosta that the pilot episode was shot on a cruise ship that wasn’t the massive passenger cruise. She aimed to find a cruise that had an exciting and exotic itinerary and also show another side of cruising. She ultimately chose the Windstar in the Caribbean, a ship for 300 guests rather than the usual 3000 on large cruise lines. The ship had great visual appeal on camera, complete with sails, and an itinerary that visited ports that were familiar to many travelers, and also some hidden gems.
DaCosta spent almost four years of her life working on cruise ships, and she is extremely passionate about travelling. Being about to share this passion with the world was extremely rewarding for the producer.
“Getting the pilot episode made against all odds was a huge accomplishment. It was such a great feeling to know that Windstar was highlighted in such a great way that appealed to so many different travelers,” she said.