Actress Sarah Wessendorf Wows Global Audiences in “Chain Opera”

 

S.Wessendorf-59-SarahValentino
Actress Sarah Wessendorf shot by Lars Gehrlein

Projected in planetariums around the globe, Chain Opera and The New Infinity introduce a new medium to filmmaking that has already begun to impress international audiences.

The film Chain Opera opens in a hospital room, where a woman is faced with an existential crisis after a medical event requires her to reexamine her life. Playing an anthropomorphized role, actor Sarah Wessendorf reveals to the woman that the path she has thus far followed was not really of her own choosing, but instead a construct created by perceived expectations of society, whom Wessendorf’s character personifies. 

What’s even more intriguing than Chain Opera’s storyline, however, is the venue in which it is displayed. Unlike most film viewings, Chain Opera is projected not on a flat screen but instead on the 360-degree panoramic canvas of a planetarium. 

The incorporation of the planetarium as a post-modern theatre is the center point of The New Infinity exhibition, of which Chain Opera is a part. Created as a collaboration between the Berliner Festspiele’s Immersion series and Planetarium Hamburg, The New Infinity exhibition features a variety of films and exhibits from many award-winning producers, artists and directors, all of which are displayed in the planetarium. 

PastedGraphic-2
Still of “Chain Opera”

“Planetariums have been high-tech spaces from their very inception, a sophisticated simulation of artificial worlds…” writes Berliner Festspiele about The New Infinity, “so why not use these institutions for artistic projects? The aim of this new project is not only to democratize the high technology of these places but, as an alternative to the works usually in the program, to invite contemporary artists to develop specific works of art for this ‘new’ medium, which is becoming increasingly accessible in the digital age.” 

The New Infinity debuted in a mobile planetarium designed by Planetarium Hamburg at the Berlin Art Week in late 2018 and was a popular success, attracting more than 23,000 people over the three weeks it was open. 

Since opening, The New Infinity has toured internationally and has received widespread acclaim. It debuted in the US at the Festival of Disruption by David Lynch in Los Angeles in June of 2019 and continues its tour this summer, with future installments scheduled for Hamburg (Aug 13-18), Mariannenplatz (Sept 5-17) and the Berlin Art Festival (Sept 18-Nov. 24). 

Written by Holly Herndon and Matthew Dryhurst and directed by Jos McKain, Chain Opera could not be a more appropriate story for the panoramic setting. Consider the gravity of a character contemplating their life using the planetarium as a medium… How vast that quandary must feel for not only the character, but for every member of the audience in attendance. 

What is even more uncanny is how Chain Opera  parallels the real-life experiences of Wessendorf. Similar to the bedridden character in the film who is forced to confront her mortality, Wessendorf was faced with a similar situation when she was wrongly diagnosed with cancer several years ago. 

S.Wessendorf-52-LarsGehrlein
Actress Sarah Wessendorf shot by Lars Gehrlein

“It rocked my world,” Wessendorf said, “I felt how precious this life is and that every minute doing what I don’t want to is throwing away a chance of experiencing this beautiful gift.” This pivotal experience not only influenced Sarah to pursue acting as a full-time career, it also opened her mind to pursue a wider range of stories and roles.  

Perhaps this open-mindedness was part of what led The New Infinity to Sarah. “I was suggested to the director Jos McKain by another director who had seen my work… Looking back now,” Sarah recounted, “I believe that my path was exactly planned and every experience was meant to be.”

“[Chain Opera] forced me to question my own life… To go against what society and family expects comes with a lot of pain, confusion and anxiety. But when you realize you lose yourself and waste your precious life if you conform, it all becomes worth it. The fight… the struggle to stay true to oneself will always be the right choice in the end.” 

According to Berliner Festspielethe, the second cycle of “The New Infinity” will have its world premiere in August 2019 at Planetarium Hamburg in cooperation with the International Summer Festival Kampnagel. Returning to the Berlin Art Week in September, the new works will again be shown in the Mobile Dome, return to its original location on Berlin’s Mariannenplatz

With The New Infinity series, the Berliner Festspiele aim at making planetariums and their technical knowledge available to all types of artists, including sound artists, musicians, filmmakers, and video game designers who want to explore the immersive genre of full dome projections. 

Extending beyond the medium of the planetarium, Berliner Festspiele is pioneering the development of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. “Besides these full dome productions, we have also been producing films for VR glasses since 2016 to develop artistic works that make it possible to experience the positions of contemporary artists in this young medium.”

The future is here, and art keeps up with the times. The avant garde is introduced by the most forward thinkers, of which the group of people contributing to The New Infinity, Chain Opera,  and the entire Berliner Festspiele Immersion series are. Sarah Wessendorf is no exception, communicating the same ideas both on and off the screen. 

“My personal mission for myself is to show how nothing truly differs between us except our experiences. If you would have experienced what I experienced you would understand and have compassion.” Much like the concept behind The New Infinity, “I love expressing how in the end we are all one.”

 

Advertisements

Comedic Actor William Prescott on the Difference between Commercials and Streaming

William Prescott, who currently appears across two seasons of the Netflix hit series Glitch, is also widely seen in huge campaigns for companies for Ford, Sportsbet and VB.

When William Prescott started acting, he wanted to do it all. Every genre, every type of character, every medium. 

William-Prescott-391620
William Prescott, photographed by Julian Dolman.

It’s rarely the case that actors’ dreams actually come to fruition, but in the case of this Melbourne local who’s now bound for the United States, William’s career has enjoyed the dreams of many a fellow actor. 

“I worked in an office for 10 years before finally getting my acting going. I didn’t start until I was 27 and it takes time to build it to a financially sustainable place. Eventually I quit the office life for good. I’m so grateful that I now get to just do what I love doing full time with no more Monday dread!”

The versatility of the acclaimed actor’s talents, which have treaded the boards for Q44 Theatre Company and shared screen-time with other award-winning Australian actors, is reflected in the dynamism of his project choices and the wide variety of roles he continues to play.

In the series Glitch, William embodies the role of Connor Carmichael with such considerable edge that only someone of his left-of-centre awareness, reminiscent of actors like Joaquin Phoenix and Christian Bale, could do so.

In one scene in this year’s new season of Glitch, William’s character of Connor returns to an unexpectedly hostile reception from “Phil” played by award winning actor Rob Collins. Without giving too much away, William plays the bumbling and friendly Connor to perfection and expertly showcases fear, panic, comedy and drama. When watching the series, it’s clear that William manages to do it all seamlessly across the two seasons. 

Also significant is the way William continues to play starring roles in campaigns for iconic Australian company Dare Iced Coffee on one end, and in another for McCain Chips. It’s no surprise that he is a firm favourite for these multinational companies and their big advertising budgets, as William naturally embodies an everyman charm which continues to posit him as an audience favourite. 

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 11.18.55 am
William’s everyman appeal has been used by a plethora of multinational companies to help sell products, including this acclaimed campaign for McCain Craft Beer Batter Chips.

“I love comedy. It’s where my acting naturally sits. I find myself gravitating towards it even in drama because often it’s where the truth lies. I don’t need to think too hard about it and I find that so long as it’s not forced, making people laugh means they’re connecting to the story you’re telling.”

In an increasingly saturated media landscape, it’s rare for an actor to make a living full-time off their craft, but William is one of the lucky few who benefit from prioritising ability over the pursuit of fame or celebrity. Indeed, when examining his resume which includes critical roles in shows like Movement with Maria Angelica and The Time of Our Lives with Shane Jacobsen and Claudia Karvan (Love My Way), it’s clear that William has bided his time in forging relationships with revered industry figures. 

b181d26cfc1fdda9161f929e4e290e92
William appears in the acclaimed drama The Time of Our Lives, and is credited alongside a stellar cast including Shane Jacobsen and Claudia Karvan (left).

“I worked with Shane Jacobson on The Time of Our Lives and I just remember how much he had everyone on set laughing…I was nervous. He had me at ease and sharing some banter quickly and I thought – that’s how I want to operate in the industry. I want it to be fun, all the time, even when it’s hard work.”

It’s no doubt the case that William has played a crucial role for companies like McCain and Dare given the lasting impression his hilarious performances in their campaigns leave on the minds of audiences, shaping the way the company is perceived. 

Funnily enough, William has experience playing two characters in the same project, as he did with brilliant comedic timing in Tom Cruise Disorder and The Next Big Thing. Both performances attracted notices from top industry figures. 

Justin Rupple, American actor and comedian known for his celebrity impressions and work in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and his performance alongside Liam Neeson in the 2016 film Operation Chromite said “William’s Tom Cruise performance in TCD might be one of the best impressions I’ve ever seen.”

The two are looking to collaborate in the US together soon on a comedy project. 

Aside from the critical acclaim such performances generate, William’s roles in campaigns like McCain, Dare and also Sportsbet reflect a considerable degree of success in helping the Australian companies generate a substantial return for stakeholders and investors. 

Indeed, each campaign has seen a return or increase in a customer base, a commercial accomplishment that can without a doubt be attributed back to the memorable performances of William. 

“I remember the first time I performed in the ABC series Glitch in season 2, I really didn’t know anyone. I had a scene with Hannah Monson who I hadn’t met before. The first time we did meet was 3 mins before we filmed the scene during a rehearsal. Fortunately she was a total champion as was everyone else. But walking out onto the outdoor set and meeting everyone, thinking about the scene, the lines, etc. It tests your ability to focus on the reason you’re there – to help tell a story.”

William’s performances in other projects, like his memorable turns as Teddy in Beat Bugs or as Sam in Lucky Stryke alongside Leticia Monaghan (Neighbours) and Mark Kenfield (Underbelly). In those projects, William’s abilities to deliver short sharp bursts of comedy  were readily apparent. More than that, William stole every scene he was in much the same way he continues to do so with all the campaigns that currently air all over the world. 

“When I get cast in something, anything, I just feel grateful. It goes back to the office stuff for me. This acting life is all just one big game that I get paid to play. It’s a reminder that I don’t need to be unhappy in my working life. I don’t believe that anybody does.”

It’s no surprise that William has been offered work in the US – the specifics of the projects are under wraps, but it goes without saying that this hard-working actor is excited. 

Hollywood Sign hillside closeup
William has been offered a role in an upcoming comedy project filming in the United States. Details have been kept under wraps, but the actor is “thrilled.”

“I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work in the U.S. It’s going to be an adventure and I’m interested to see where it takes my career. I’m open to all possibilities.” 

Behind the Scenes: Internationally Celebrated VFX Supervisor and Flame Artist Gurvand Tanneau

Gurvand Tanneau
“Better Than Love” Director Ted Carney and VFX Supervisor Gurvand Tanneau (right)

Gurvand Tanneau has spent the past two decades setting the screen on fire with his highly acclaimed skills as a senior flame artist and VFX supervisor. Widely regarded as an accomplished post-production effects artist, he’s been tapped to lead VFX work for some of the biggest names in the business, such as Method, Moving Picture Company (MPC), EightVFX, Mikros Image Group, Mac Guff, Ntropic, and Logan. A clear reflection of his standing in the industry, Tanneau’s credits include VFX works for clients such as Apple, Audi, Adidas, Mercedes, Budweiser, Peugeot, Armani, L’Oreal, Toyota, Dodge,  and Coca Cola, to name just a few. 

Now working at the height of the industry, Tanneau recalls how he got started working in the industry back in 2001, “After working on some junior jobs at an editing company, I was given the opportunity to make some basic visual effects tests for an offline edit of a commercial. I had a great time doing them… They turned out to be a success and the producer liked my work enough to offer me a position at a visual effects company, Def2Shoot, to go further.”   

Tanneau’s talents have since been integral to the success of numerous advertising campaigns such as the Super Bowl commercials for Mercedes-Benz’s “The Science,” Anheuser-Busch’s “Buschhhh,” Acura’s “The Dark Horse” and Suzuki’s “Sled,” as well as commercials for Geico’s “The Giant,” “Spaceship” and “The Whale,” and Nissan’s “The Chase.” 

As the VFX supervisor on a production, Gurvand Tanneau is responsible for guiding the entire VFX team, ensuring the seamless continuity of the work and making the necessary changes when things fall short, which is a rare occurrence when he is the one behind the scenes. With his expertise in all aspects of special effects, Tanneau helps to make the impossible, possible. 

“I worked extensivly on a lot of commercials for the luxe industry, many of which have been high-end perfumes and cosmetic brands. The demand for quality is extremly high in this industry; the work must be seamless. It is a very rigorous environment with tight time timelines and where everything is judged by a standard of flawless perfection. Starting my career in that kind of environment has allowed me to develop an eye and sensibility for projects that depend on the aesthetic of an image,” explains Tanneau.

In addition to his contributions to the field of marketing and advertising, Gurvand Tanneau has also been a key VFX artist and supervisor on hit television series including “Chicago Fire,” and has contributed to Top 40 music videos with celebrities like Janet Jackson, in her 2016 “Dammn Baby” video, which has over 9 million views on YouTube. He has also worked on cutting-edge films such as the thriller “lll Wind” directed by Stephane Allagon, the dramatic film “La Pirogue” directed by Morussa Toure and the dramatic comedy “Odette Toulemonde” starring Catherine Frott and Albert Dupontel.

Born in Brittany, France, Tanneau realized his passion for visual effects at the age of 12 after discovering he could manipulate chemicals to produce certain effects that he could then introduce into films. He has been living and working in Los Angeles for the past six years, where he is represented by Digital Artists Agency. By the time he was 21, he moved to Paris to pursue a career in film production. It was there that he began to make a name for himself working on commercials for BMW led by MPC London, Schweppes led by NOZON Brussels, and H&M campaigns created by CHIMNEY Stockholm. 

Tanneau recalls, “While In Paris I was working essentially on beauty commercials, including cosmetics, perfumes, and fashion.” 

While in Paris, in 2004, Tanneau ventured out as the animator and visual effects flame artist for the popular cartoon “Obras” directed by Hendrick Dusollier (“A Day in the Life of a Dictator”), which earned numerous awards including those from the Aubagne International Film Festival, the Dresden Film Festival and the Lutins du Court-Metrage, as well as nominations from the Cesar Awards and the Lyon Festival of New Generation Cinema. He was also a key member of the visual effects team on the 2010 Guldbagge Award nominated biographical film “Cornelius.” 

Six years ago, Tanneau was brought to Los Angeles where he has since been represented by the Digital Artists Agency, to further develop his skills and provide specialized VFX support to major U.S. and global brands. When working on a project, Tanneau’s involvement begins in the early concept planning stages where he lends his expertise to developing the creative elements that are designed to captivate and intrigue audiences. From proposing artistic direction and determining which technology would be the most effective, his role is both creative and technical. He meticulously follows through the entire process, collaborating with the post production teams to implement the stunning effects that ultimately enthrall viewers. Tanneau attributes his success, in part, to those who he has learned from.  

Tanneau explains, “Having a background in photography and having been surrounded by artists most of my life has allowed me to cultivate a strong aesthetic and critical eye for images. I have been very fortunate to learn from and work closely with many talented artists who have come from photography, particularly fashion photography. The work I do is very similar, particularly when considering the light in a scene. Except in my work, that light is moving, and I can use that light to enhance the details of the form and quality of materials.”

The special effects graphics expert brings 20 years of experience to the table.  He has the uncanny ability to apply his knowledge and skills in a seemingly effortless fashion in a way that brings magic to life on the screen. His optical and digital work-streams are inspiring, along with his superior experience in specialized areas as stop-motion, motion graphic design, on-set practical effects, and VFX supervision that are simply phenomenal. 

With a dazzling portfolio that proves he is both dynamic and exceptionally talented, Tanneau has been tapped to work as a VFX supervisor and specialized flame artist on a wide variety of production in countries such as England, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Australia, Czech Republic, and Russia. In 2016 Tanneau was VFX supervisor on the indie movie “Better than Love” directed by Ted Carney, starring Andrew Lawrence (“Bean,” “Bones”), Alexandra Rodriquez (“The X Factor,” “East Los High”) and Matthew Lawrence (“Mrs. Doubtfire”).

Tanneau’s work in the world of visual effects ranges from the highly technical creative design of graphic visuals like the ones seen in the L’Oreal commercial below, to integral changes to live action film footage, such as removing elements that cannot be seen in the final product, and much more.

For “Better than Love” Tanneau had the heft task of removing a number of things present in the live captures.  

“On set we found out there would be things to erase from the picture, like billboards for example. Or we would need to change or remove names and images from things like posters, mailboxes, and TV screens. Removing these in post helps to ensure continuity and is often more efficient due to the cost and time it often takes during the live capture,” explains Tanneau. 

All of Tanneau’s work comes down to serving the storyline, and without his work, many of these projects would not only cost the production exorbitant amounts of money, but some of them may never see the light of day.

Tanneau’s unabridged combination of experience, knowledge and talent in the visual effects industry make him a leading artist that is sought after by the biggest names in the business and judging from his popularity, it doesn’t appear the fire will be dying down anytime soon.

 

Hong Kong’s Samuel Lam gives musical life to new Chinese television series

Samuel Lam was born with a large birthmark on the right side of his face and spent much of his childhood alone because of it. Growing up in Hong Kong, it was hard for him, being a loner, but when he was 12 years of age, his sister bought him a guitar and his whole life changed. Music became a way to express himself, changing his personality and giving him something to connect with others.

Now, Lam is an industry leading composer and orchestrator is his home country and abroad. He has worked on multi-million-dollar blockbusters, such as Crazy Alien, to award-winning films like Mommy’s Girl. He has scored dozens of short films, and has many exciting projects on the way, including Paramount’s Playing with Fire, starring John Cena, Judy Greer and Keegan-Michael Key, directed by Andy Fickman, and Detective Chinatown, a 12 episode web-series, produced and written by Chen Sicheng, the director of the feature film of the same name, which generated over $600 million USD at the box office.

Lam is known all over the world for his talent, and recently worked on the highly anticipated Chinese series Paratrooper Spirit. The show is about a team of paratroopers with actual combat as their training ground, as they push hard to level up their fighting abilities and complete different missions. Set in the foreground of military reform, the story follows military men like Zhang Qi and Qi Xiao Tian. To develop an air force that can compete in the global stage, a special team called Guo Gai Tou has gathered. After the initial adjustment period, Guo Gai Tou began fighting wars in the North and South and challenging greater enemies. Warriors from Guo Gai Tou who are dispatched to other teams become aces in the field.

“It is a good way to increase understanding and knowledge about the military through the influence of media and entertainment. This show has a really interesting military service theme, the paratrooper,” said Lam.

Working on a series is far different than a feature film, and Lam was eager to work on his first television show with Paratrooper Spirit and working in television in China differs greatly from America. Rather than getting each episode weekly, as the U.S. does things, Lam got every episode of the show at once. Although there is a greater time crunch with this method, Lam likes knowing how the entire story is developed to orchestrate the score accordingly. He was given all 35 episodes of the season to work on and began by watching each one. Then he and his team started developing essential thematic materials such as main theme and melodies for characters that worked with each and every episode and helped to tell the story.

“It is very challenging working on a TV Show. Because of the large amount of content, you have to be very organized, and work at a super-fast pace. I had to arrange all kinds of music genres, from action orchestra, to rock and romantic pop song, and that was really fun,” said Lam.

It takes an extremely broad skill-set to orchestrate for a television show, and Lam possesses just that. He arranged hundreds of minutes of music for Paratrooper Spirit that will continue to be played over the show’s run, with millions hearing his work, and he couldn’t be more excited.

Paratrooper Spirit is currently being promoted in China and will be released in September 2019 on a major television network in the country. Be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Mix Engineer Jordan Oorebeek works with emerging Canadian pop icon Jordan Waller

With the infinite possibilities that music offers, no two days are the same for Jordan Oorebeek, an immensely talented and sought-after recording engineer, mix engineer, and producer in Canada. Every day has the same ultimate goal; make excellent art, but the unending variables of songs, personalities, studios, instruments, gear and glitches makes every day have its own unique challenges and rewards. He is constantly trying to put a moving puzzle together, and sometimes, he does not even know what it is supposed to look like until he takes a step back. When he has that “ah-ha!” moment, that adrenaline rush is why he loves what he does so much.

Oorebeek is known for his work with many prominent musicians in Canada, including Chris Buck Band, Wes Mack, George Canyon, and many more. He has made a significant mark in Canada’s country music scene, with many of his projects being nominated for CCMAs, and he was awarded with the 2018 British Columbia Country Music Association Recording Professional of the Year Award. For Oorebeek, however, it isn’t about awards or recognition; he simply just enjoys what he does.

“I love to create contrast and dynamics in my productions. I often employ bold transitions between a softly sung pre chorus with just an acoustic guitar, into a full band chorus with the singer belting out. I believe it’s this kind of contrast that we as humans love in every great story. Creating dynamic highs and lows in songs helps to mimic the emotional experience in life that makes us connect with music so deeply. My productions are more often than not very “hi-fi” and polished in nature, but I’ve also worked on many projects where a stripped down more raw and vulnerable approach was what the song needed. I know a lot of producers who really impart ‘their’ sound to a record, but that’s not really my style. My role as a producer is to be a creative liaison for the artist’s vision. I think it’s important to know when to stay out of the way and when to guide,” said Oorebeek.

Oorebeek’s success is not limited to the country music genre and has worked with many artists spanning across genres from electro-pop to rock. He recently collaborated with pop singer Jordan Waller on his newest album. Oorebeek loves mixing pop/dance songs, so when he first heard Waller’s music, he was really looking forward to working in this style. Waller’s music, although very pop driven, had elements of real drums, acoustic guitar and electric guitar, and Oorebeek loved that.

Before he starts mixing, Oorebeek always listens to the rough mix. It gives him cues and insight into what the producer’s vision is for the song. He finds it is a way of learning about the artist without them actually being there. When he began working on Waller’s music, he once again started in such a way. Then he began mixing.

A mix can make or break a great song, so when Oorebeek was mixing Waller’s music, he was always focusing on what elements in the mix were essential to bring forward. Which synths had a rhythm to them that gave him a feeling? What was the relationship between the kick and snare that made him want to move? How dark should the vocal be to match the tone of the lyric? He kept these questions in mind as he worked and paid close attention to all the elements in the tracks, making choices based on his experience.

“I always impart a bit of myself into every mix based on my personal taste. I think that’s the reason I was approached to mix these songs. I loved being creative with the use of effects in Jordan’s mixes,” said Oorebeek.

“This Feeling” was Waller’s first release and also his first single to chart. Oorebeek is extremely proud to have been a part of the success. Oorebeek worked on several more singles for Waller, whose debut album was released in February of this year.

“It’s always special when a debut single is received well right out the gate, especially as an unsigned, independent artist. You can never really predict how radio is going to receive a song, but while working on “This Feeling” I felt there was something special about it. It’s great when that gut feeling I get is affirmed by commercial success,” he concluded.

Producer Jamly Yang shoots in stunning locations for award winning commercial

One of the most life changing events in Jamly Yang’s life occurred when she was only a child and watched a feature film for the first time. She was transfixed by what she saw, not only by the story, but how everything looked so real. She remembers being convinced that the action shots and detailed war scenes were actually happening in front of her eyes and had to be consoled by her mother. After the movie finished, she became obsessed with the idea of one day making films of her own, with impactful stories that could touch audiences.

Now, Yang does just that, as a celebrated producer in her home country and abroad. Working on acclaimed films like Step Out, The Screenwriter in the Restroom, Billy’s Bear, and many more, Yang has combined her passion for storytelling with her determined mindset.

Yang has also worked with internationally recognized brands, such as Nike and Doritos, on many revenue generating commercials. Just last year, she worked on a commercial for Alpha Browser, an interactive mobile browser and all-in-one tool. The commercial is a powerful video that shows how Alpha Browser can help you in your daily life.

“I like how the commercial approaches it’s idea, instead of just introducing the product, which is what most tech companies would do, it shows people’s daily life, making the audience relate to the product,” said Yang.

Shooting the commercial involved a great deal of travelling between locations for the cast and crew, and Yang was in charge of organizing it all. She planned everything, from the hotel booking, to casting, to the budget, and even assisted with shooting when necessary.

“I loved the pretty location we shot in. What is different about commercials from film is the beauty of every frame. We can show a lot of pretty landscapes and use them to draw the audience’s attention. This is great for me because I love to travel, and on commercials you do a lot of it,” she said.

Under Yang’s leadership as the producer, the commercial went on to win several awards, including Best Commercial at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival in both 2018 and 2019. It was also distributed internationally by ATK technology, directly contributing to sales for the product. Yang could not be prouder of what she and her team achieved, and as a fan of the Alpha Browser, she truly believed in the message she was putting out there.

“I like how it is designed. Every button is very clear and easy to understand. Compared to many of the other major browsers out on the market, Alpha Browser is more personalized. It’s more like your own account rather than just a browser. Whenever you use it, you feel at home, not in the internet ocean,” she said.

Yang has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is today, determined to achieve her childhood dream. Now that she has done so, she says the hard work doesn’t stop, and in order to continue her success, she treats every new project as a learning experience, constantly staying a student in an ever-changing world.

“This is an industry where you can’t expect fast success,” she said. “I guess just like every industry, there is nothing easy, and being passionate is the key. If you are still full of energy and love what you do after a long day, then don’t give up. Go for it and fear nothing.”

Watch the Alpha Browser commercial here.

 

 

Guitarist in the Spotlight: Agam Timor of the Barns Courtney Band

Agam Timor
Guitarist Agam Timor shot by Monika Wilczynska

While the frontman in a band usually gets most, if not all, of the media’s attention, the bands we love would not be what they are without the integral contributions of the rest of the members. When it comes to the guitar stylings and overall musical contributions of Israeli musician Agam Timor, his are ones that deserve exponential recognition.

You may know Timor as the lead guitarist for the Barns Courtney band, whom he’s been touring the globe with for the past year. Signed to Capitol Records, the band has skyrocketed to international acclaim in recent years with sold out shows and several of their singles topping the charts.

“After so many gigs together, almost every night, it creates a really warm environment, like a family,” says Timor.

Timor’s rhythmic fluidity, precision on the guitar, and mesmerizing stage presence have proven to be a powerful addition to the Barns Courtney band, just as they have for a long list of other bands over the years. While Timor’s talent has helped bring him into the spotlight, his success didn’t just happen overnight. It’s the result of years of dedication and an inexhaustible passion for what he does.

Growing up in Tel Aviv, Israel, Timor discovered his love for music at the budding age of 6. Quickly picking up the violin, piano and saxophone, his passion for music grew, but it was upon discovering his connection with guitar that he found his true love.

“Since I was 12 I never put the guitar down,” admits Timor. “I immediately fell in love with it.”

Most Israeli citizens living in Israel serve in the military at some point in their lives, and while Timor is no different, he served the country in a rather unique capacity. During his three year military service he was the guitarist and arranger for Israel’s military band.

Timor says, “I enjoyed the fact that although people from different places can be very different, love different things and going through different experiences in life before joining the army . They can still go through a similar experience while watching the show, at the end of the day, people want to feel something. They want to feel the energy and forget about the tough day they had on the base”

After completing his military service Timor was free to take his musicianship to new heights and it wasn’t long before he became a national sensation in Israel. He would go onto share stages with some of the country’s most idolized talents, including singer and actress Ruthi Navon, Momi Levi and Moran Mazor, who competed in Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest, Chen Aharoni, who appeared on The X Factor UK, The X Factor Israel and Kokhav Nolad (Israel’s version of American Idol), vocalist Meital De Razon, and many more. Timor would also go on to perform as the house guitarist on the hit series The X Factor Israel, in the hit musical “Mary Lou,” as well as on Sports Channel 5 Israel, where he played the morning show hosted by Slutzki and Dominguez. Timor actually played the morning show on more than one occasion, often being called in to  play a few songs each time with a new rising artist, and then chatting with the hosts on air about life and music.

Agam Timor
Agam Timor shot by Arielle Kassulke

“I assume that any musician that keeps practicing and listening to music eventually would play great. The difference between being a professional and an amateur is pretty much the attitude and the amount of dedication one has to the project, always aim higher and keep evolving your craft,” says Timor.

Though there is definitely substantial truth in the age old saying ‘practice makes perfect,’ few will make it quite as far as Timor has over the span of his short life no matter how much they practice. At age 26, he has already proven himself to be among the world’s top guitarists. With his virtuosic talent, it’s not surprising that Timor was accepted to the Berklee College of Music, one of the most competitive music schools out there. Not only was he accepted, but he was given a scholarship, a rare award that few receive, and in 2018 he went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude.

While Timor’s strength and versatility as a guitarist has led him to be tapped to play with a pretty long list of heavy hitters in the music industry, it’s not the spotlight that drives him to perform. Behind the scenes, he is a powerhouse when it comes to writing and arranging music, and he’s used his talents in that area to create music for other artists over the years. In 2014 he worked alongside legendary producer Luis Lahav on the album for artist Or Colenberg.

“For this project I recorded all the guitars and arranged the album with my colleagues Amit Shtriker and Tom Lahav. I will never forget this project and how much we felt involved in the recorded music,” recalls Timor. “The most incredible thing is to add your own personal taste to someone else’s music and watch it become something whole.”

Another project that Timor holds dear to his heart was when he recorded the album Beit-Aba with the artist Doron Raphaeli, the founder of the popular music group Tararam.

“We spent days in the studio working on this album, I especially remember the day when we recorded the guitar solo for ‘Aguim’ that it was so late at night and Doron fell asleep in the control room while the engineer and I finished recording the song.”

With a plethora of cultural influences and experience playing diverse genres such as pop, funk, r&b, blues-rock, gospel, middle-eastern, fusion and jazz, Timor brings the full-package to the table as both a guitarist and arranger.

“When I work with artists, I first try to understand their character and what I can add from my perspective that would complement their music. When I succeed in doing that I feel that’s when the artist is being satisfied the most. Add your flavor to the same field.”

Last year Timor made another huge mark in the Israeli music industry when he was tapped to compose the intro for Omer Adam’s show, which was the first concert to be performed at the Sammy Ofer Stadium and was a sold out success. Having competed on the series Kokhav Nolad, and releasing four hit albums over the last few years, Omer Adam is arguably one of Israel’s most famous contemporary artists.

Timor admits, “I got amazing comments about the musical intro to his show and how much it enhanced Omer’s character as an artist.”

Though playing in shows such as the celebrated Israeli musical “Mary Lou” have led Agam Timor to become a celebrity in Israel, and his role in the Barns Courtney Band has led him to play in front of hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, what Timor enjoys most is the simple art of creating music.

Guiding his life and career by the famous quote, “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life,” Timor is an inimitable pro at doing what he loves and doing it in a big way.

Actor Kevin Clayette is stuck in a dystopian future in ‘Doktor’

Headshot Kevin Clayette (Photograph -Lauren Orrell)
Kevin Clayette, photo by Lauren Orrell

As a seasoned and celebrated actor, Kevin Clayette still tries to approach his craft, and his life, from the mindset of a child, by always being open to and excited by new experiences, and to love and believe like a kid. With this approach, every time he steps onto a film set, he is excited by the opportunity to play make believe and tell stories. He gets to be that little five-year-old that is always inside of him, not caring what others think and simply enjoying his life. For this New Caledonia native, there is no greater sense of joy.

At only 25, Clayette has already had a formidable career, becoming a recognized leader in Australia’s entertainment industry. Audiences everywhere recognize him from the long running soap opera Neighbours, in which he played fan favorite Dustin Oliver, and in the award-winning feature film Emo the Musical, in which he showed off his versatility as a triple-threat.

Another hit on Clayette’s resume came with the 2015 science fiction horror flick Doktor. Shot at the legendary Fox Studios in Australia where many popular films, including The Matrix, have been filmed, this award-winning film tells the story of an ancient man who is awake during surgery, triggering an hallucination, but also an allusion of a disturbing new reality.

“I liked that even though this story is set in a dystopian world and therefore quite far fetched from our current reality, it deals with themes such as money and power that are very real in our world. By talking about the reality of those issues, of those vices, we allow very important conversations to happen. Projects like these make you think and question our society and yourself. It’s a very interesting topic to reflect on,” said Clayette. “What does money do to you? Would you rather live a happy and fulfilled but short-lived life, or a lonely but long life thanks to money and corruption?”

In Doktor, Clayette plays the lead character of Gulham. In the dystopian world, Gulham is taken from the ones he loves after receiving a mysterious phone call. During that phone call, he made a deal with the devil and agreed to give his life in exchange for his family and loved one’s safety. He is then mistreated and drugged and dragged into a room before the film’s big reveal. Gulham is very ambiguous, but he is a good man, trying to do whatever it takes to save his family and loved ones. He is very brave.

Clayette knew that as the star of the film, he had to put everything he had into creating an authentic and captivating performance. Every morning, he would go through the entire script and storyboard before going on set, and every evening after leaving he would focus on creating the backstory for his character, imagining what he had been through, and then visualise what the next day would look like.

Clayette also had to prepare for his many emotional scenes, needing to portray a devastated character who sacrificed his life and knew he would never see his family again. In another scene, he was dragged down a corridor on a leash like a dog, and he had to show that hopelessness just with facial expressions. Such a challenge was exciting for the actor, who exceeded all expectations.

“Everyone in the crew was absolutely lovely, from the director to the producer to the makeup artists. It was very challenging emotionally on many levels to shoot some of the scenes I had in the movie. I liked having to get in the mindset and shoes of someone that lives a completely different life than the one I have,” he said.

Clayette had to portray a vastly emotional and dynamic performance despite the role being action focused with minimal dialogue. Using only his body language, he put everything he had into the role, creating many intense and dramatic moments in the film that greatly contributed to its later success.

Doktor was screened at many prestigious international festivals around the world. It took home Best Experimental Short Film at the Cutting Edge International Film Festival and was also selected to be showcased within the open competition category of AACTA’s Social Shorts (the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts). Clayette still feels honored by the film’s vast success.

“I’m really proud of this project and the hard work that everyone put in. It’s incredible to know that independent movies with smaller budgets can still have such an impact on our world,” he concluded.

Zara Michales on Making an Impact

It’s become standard for well-known actors to represent companies in huge commercial campaigns.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 11.07.17 am
Zara currently fronts a huge campaign for Australia’s Colonial Bank. 

Acclaimed actor Zara Michales however does things a little differently. While Australians have seen her image plastered across TV and computer screens all over the country (and by extension, around the world) for Colonial First State’s savings campaign, Zara distinguished herself from fellow Aussie and The Mentalist star Simon Baker (himself known for fronting bank ANZ) by including her family in the campaign as well.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 11.09.19 am

It was a personal touch such as this which speaks to the integrity around which Zara’s career has been built – only taking on projects if she has a personal connection to them, rather than serving her ego. And it’s for this reason that she was tipped for a profile in our publication as an artist making an impact in all the right ways, through creative choices that help make the entertainment industry a better one to work in.

“I think it’s really important to only do things that you’re going to be proud of, and the Colonial campaign was one I knew I could look back on with fondness because I got to work with my parents – how good is that?”

She adds with a laugh, “I mean, everyone’s parents drive them crazy sometimes but they’ve been so supportive of me over the years so I knew it was really awesome to spend time on set with them.”

Zara’s starring role in the commercial campaign has attracted millions of eyeballs online and on the TV where the spot was first shown, and is a testament to the credence of her body of work that a respected company like Colonial wanted to work with a TV and film actress like Zara.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 11.10.47 am

“The company represents security and family, things I value a lot – so it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of when my agent called me about it.”

Of course, Zara wouldn’t have been approached to front a multi-million dollar company were it not for the credibility she’s built over many years in the entertainment business, attracting a growing fan base each year she adds a roster of projects to her resume.

Starring appearances at events like the Australian premieres of Snow White and the Huntsman and Thor: Ragnarok also can’t hurt. Zara adds with a laugh, “It’s always lovely to get invited to those events and help support other filmmakers and actors, especially Aussies doing well.”

Chris Hemsworth & Zara Michales- White Carpet SYD
Zara alongside fellow Australian star, Avenger’s star Chris Hemsworth.

More important to Zara though were her involvements with UN International Women’s Day Breakfast, and her volunteering with the National Stroke Foundation. Each event, hosted by well-known newsreader Chris Bath, also boasted the attendance and support of fellow celebrities such as Sandra Sully, Kris Smith and Sarah Murdoch, just some of the high-profile entertainers like Zara who have merged entertainment with philanthropy.

UN WOMEN SYD IWD'17
Zara at the UN International Women’s Day Breakfast.

Undeniably important to Zara though is her actual craft, as evidenced by her role in the feature film 2:22. In that fan-favourite feature film which attracted attracted notices from leading publication The Wrap for its compelling storyline, Zara took on the critical role of Ellie.

MV5BNDQyMTUyMDExNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODkxODEyMjI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,672,1000_AL_
Zara worked alongside Hacksaw Ridge’s Teresa Palmer and Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman.

Zara’s character was specially written for her, as she had originally auditioned for a different character months’ prior. The award-winning director Paul Currie, himself known for producing the Oscar-winning Hacksaw Ridge, wanted to meet with Zara to figure out what type of character he could write into the script for 2:22. If there’s a definition for ‘making it,’ our writers could be forgiven for using that hallmark of Zara’s career as an example. It’s not often that an acclaimed filmmaker like Paul customises his film to fit in an actor, but with the reputation Zara has cultivated over many years in the industry, it should come as no surprise she found herself on set working alongside fellow household name, Teresa Palmer.

“I remember first meeting Teresa at the Table read during pre-production. She was so lovely and was a very down to earth girl.”

The shoot proved to be demanding and challenging in all the right ways, as Zara’s character was crucial to the developments of the thrilling script.

Zara’s character of Ellie works in Air traffic control with Dylan, played by Game of Thrones’ and The Haunting of Hill House’s Michael Huisman’s character ‘Dylan’. Ellie, in true Zara-fashion, offered a funny and edgy character to the roster of roles in the film as she was Dylan’s ‘bad influence’ who likes to have fun.

“I took Dylan out and about on the town to get his mind off the major incident that happens at the beginning of the film where two planes had almost collided under his supervision.”

If it weren’t for Ellie, Dylan wouldn’t overcome his guilt and insecurities – crucial to the next set up that leads to the movie’s famous plot-twists.

At this point in the conversation with Zara, she wants to hold back from revealing too much about the feature’s plot so that readers can enjoy the film on their own via Netflix.

“It’s so gratifying to be an actor who’s a part of the Netflix family,” Zara says with a smile.

Zara’s work on 2:22 is just one in a number of edgy film projects that, she believes, helps innovating the film industry to challenge audiences in the most impactful way possible.

“I love playing vastly different characters…I’ve always try to work with the director to flesh out what the character needed to be in the life of the project.”

Indeed, Zara’s played everything from a tough and ruthless army officer to the spunky, sassy, confident, hot blooded girlfriend.

In Crossing Paths, Zara joins the trend established by Black Mirror by taking part in an interactive film, where she plays the leading role of Lena.  The director of Crossing Paths, JJ Winlove, is also in talks with Margot Robbie’s company LuckyChap Entertainment to produce a feature script.

It goes without saying that Zara’s on a great run; something though which hasn’t come out of luck, but instead due to hard work and smart choices.

“I’ve had to work really hard, and developed new skills along the way.”

For her role in US series Childhood’s End, which was filmed in Australia, Zara had to perfect a Latin American accent with a coach. The hard work paid off, as she proved to be critical to the show’s storyline.

childhoods-end-syfy
Another show in which Zara appeared, the US SyFy mini-series Childhood’s End.

“In the first episode my character Freya abducts and interrogates the lead Ricky Stormgren played by Mike Vogel.  From this point of the story onwards the plot catapults forwards and everything more or less descends into chaos.”

In real life though, Zara’s less of antagonist and more of an agent for positive change. Something she hopes to do in the near future as she gears up for a role in a US feature film.

“I’m really excited,” Zara adds with a smile.

The same can be said we’re sure for our readers.

Adam Flipp photographs luxury California fashion brand Johnny Was

Adam Flipp2From the moment Adam Flipp began exploring the art of photography, he found himself enchanted by its limitless possibilities. He knew early on that he was destined to explore a career in the medium and set out to become a still life photographer specializing in advertising. However, with his vast technical knowledge, he soon found himself in the fashion world, and he knew he was meant to become a fashion and portrait photographer.

“I think it was my destiny as my great grandfather owned a large fashion manufacturing business in New Zealand and I realized I had an understanding of fashion as it was in my blood,” he said.

Now, Flipp is a sought-after photographer in his home country of New Zealand and abroad. Millions have seen his work, whether on television with Australia’s Next Top Model, or in print, like in Marie Claire. He has shot for Nike, Canon, Converse, and more, with internationally renowned brands seeking him out for his extraordinary talent.

Across the pond, Flipp has been making quite a name for himself as well, working with well-known American brands, including California fashion company Johnny Was. Johnny Was is luxury boho chic clothing and accessories with vintage inspired style, which Flipp knew would make for a creative and fun project, and it was right in his wheelhouse. The Johnny Was Australian wholesaler reached out to the photographer after seeing work he had done for Grazia, knowing he could turn their campaign into a success.

Just like the universal and timeless appeal of a great song, Johnny Was designs clothes that cross cultures and defy trends. With a bohemian spirit and a true sense of authenticity, they take our inspiration from anything that is beautiful, genuine and special—a striking piece of artwork, the luxurious hand-stitching on a vintage dress or the natural simplicity of a vibrant bougainvillea. Their signature embroideries and effortless silhouettes are unparalleled. After more than 30 years of their artisan-inspired stitch work and luxe fabrications, the undying allure speaks for itself. For the woman looking to showcase her personal style, while appreciating the thoughtful details of timeless techniques. An aesthetic that embraces their California-based lifestyle but always with a global vision. It’s the gorgeous details in life that make it beautiful, and that’s what they strive to create with Johnny Was. Embrace the beauty, look beyond and enjoy the journey.

“The vibe and the clothes are beautiful. Working with brands from America is a dream come true for me as I consider the US to be at the center of the world for professionalism. My aspirations and influences are all based there,” said Flipp.

In 2018, the Jonny Was team traveled to Sydney Australia to shoot two catalogues at iconic locations in the country. Flipp shot the Spring 2018 catalogue on Sydney harbor and famous palm beach area. He shot the Summer 2018 catalogue on Hyams beach south coast NSW, which features some of the whitest sand in the world. These two catalogues were some of Johnny Was’ most successful catalogues to date.

Johnny Was1.2

“It’s fantastic. It is really great to be able to shoot such a successful catalogue to a very established brand,” said Flipp.

Flipp had never worked with the Johnny Was team before shooting that Spring catalogue, so he didn’t know what to expect. He quickly earned their trust, showcasing his extensive experience which proved essential to the job. They shot on ships, with horses, and in mega mansions, all settings he was very familiar with, which ensured a smooth shoot.

Whenever Flipp arrives on a job, he focuses on the energy of the models, making sure they are happy as that is what will come across in the pictures. He was pleased to discover Johnny Was was also all about good energy and he therefore managed to capture that in every shot.

“The team from Johnny Was were amazing. They traveled all the way from the United States, but still managed to keep the energy up the whole trip. They were so professional and a pleasure to work with,” he said.

Stay up-to-date with Flipp’s work by checking out his website.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Hollywood's who's-who.