From Behind the Scenes MUA Flavia Vieira Makes Actors Glow On Screen

Diego Fontecilla; Liliana de Castro; Dylan Rourke; Jo Pratta; Paulo Nigro; Flavia Vieira. I don_t know Josh_s last nameFestival LABRFF2017 red carpet
Flavia Vieira (second to far right) and the cast and crew from “Lady Labyrinth” at LABRFF

While it’s the actor job to ‘become’ their character and bring their stories, personality and all of the mannerisms and idiosyncrasies that make them unique to the screen, it’s those behind the scenes, like makeup artist Flavia Vieira, that come together to transform the actor to look like the character in the script. In film and television believability is everything, something Vieira knows all about.

For Vieira, each actor is a canvas waiting to be transformed into someone else, someone we can watch on screen and effortlessly believe that they’re the real thing in a way that helps us get lost in their story.

Most filmmakers that have worked with Vieira call the Brazilian native back to their set for future productions due to her precision as a makeup artist and the diverse nature of her skill. Filmmaker Camila Rizzo first saw Vieira’s power as a makeup artist on the film “Oust,” which led her to tap Vieira to come on board as the makeup artist on her own films.

Rizzo explains, “‘Oust’ needed a lot of makeup work, and I saw how detailed Flavia was and I decided to invite her to work on my film ‘My Two O’Clock’.”

Flavia’s work on “My Two O’Clock” was key in making the film’s stars Nick Larice (“Je T’aime, Au Revoir”) and Henry Mark (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Unusual Suspects”) look the part of their characters, and the film ultimately went on to win the Global Film Festival Award, the LA Shorts Awards’ Diamond Award, the Award of Recognition from The IndieFest Film Awards and was chosen as a Semi-Finalist from the Los Angeles Cinefest.

“Flavia was very effective on set and she did a great job making the right makeup,” says Rizzo, who then hired Flavia once again to come onboard as head of makeup on her newest film “Headway.”

Based on real characters, “Headway,” which wrapped production earlier this year and stars Hayden Currie (“The Mirror”) and Connor Chess (“TMI Hollywood,” “Heartbeat Away”), revolved around the converging stories of two very different characters- an autistic boy (Currie) and an MMA fighter (Chess) facing the end of his career.

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Flavia Vieira working on Connor Chess on “Headway”

“She overpassed my expectations. ‘Headway’ had difficult makeup because one of the main characters is a fighter who had just been knocked out. During the pre-production, Flavia and I had some meetings to discuss every detail of the fighter’s wounds and how she would work on the make up during the passing of 3 months time to keep the continuity,” explains Rizzo. “During one of the Headway private screenings a couple of people came to me to say how impressed they were on the continuity of the fighter’s wound and how real it was.”

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Connor Chess ready for camera in “Headway”

Second to none, Flavia’s skill in creating the kinds of special effects makeup that ranges from gory fight wounds to using prosthetics to completely transform an actor to look like an otherworldly creature, which she did for the sci-fi film “Bloody Eyes,” has brought the sought after makeup artist quite a bit of attention for her work.

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Poster for “Bloody Eyes”

Though the intense transformations she pulls off on set definitely highlight the strength of her craft when it comes to complex looks, the key for any successful makeup artist in the film industry is to understand, from the minor to the monumental, the aesthetic changes the actor needs to best fit the character in the script. And it’s that keen understanding that has made Flavia such a powerhouse behind the scenes.

“I always like to discuss the looks with directors and writers… Especially when I’m creating the looks of the characters. The writer invented the character. The director is bringing him to life on the screen. What I need is to understand the core of the character to be able to translate it into the look,” explains Flavia.

For the multi-award winning film “Becoming Lucy” directed by Luisa Novo, Flavia was tasked with doing ‘beauty makeup’ for the majority of the characters, however one character, Lucy, the lead played by Maitlyn Pezzo, required a drastic hair change, one that the overall story relied on. After Lucy’s father leaves her mother for a young blonde, and she discovers her teenage crush likes blondes as well, Lucy decides to dye her blonde in order to attract their attention, but the result is disastrous.

In order to transform Lucy’s look Flavia devoted extensive attention to finding the perfect wig, cutting it to look the actress’ real hair and color testing it until she reached the perfect ‘imperfect’ shade.

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Flavia Vieira working on actress Maitlyn Pezzo for “Becoming Lucy”

“[Flavia] was the head of makeup, hair and wardrobe… She was essential in getting the wig to look believable. Get the color and texture right, and adding the style to it that fitted each scene. Without that the story would have failed. She also did an excellent job in adding personality to each character,” explains director Luisa Novo. “Flavia doesn’t accept doing a bad job. She does whatever it is in her power to make each project the best it can be. Her makeup and hair skills are fantastic, and she treats the actor so well that they always want to work with her again.”

Key to the film’s success, Flavia’s skill and attention to detail for the characters in “Becoming Lucy” led her to receive impressive industry praise that included earning the Diamond Award for Best Makeup from the LA Shorts Awards and the Bronze Award for Best Makeup from the International Independent Awards in 2017.

Though she’s made a prominent name for herself as a movie makeup artist, Flavia Vieira is no stranger to leading the makeup departments on popular commercials and music videos. Earlier this year she was the head makeup artist on the Tropkillaz music video for ‘Milk & Honey’ featuring Aloe Blacc, which has nearly three million views on YouTube.

For the Tropkillaz music video, as well as the commercial she did for McDonald’s Brazil, which featured Tyler James Williams from the hit series “Everybody Hates Chris,” Flavia aired on the side of minimalism, using her artistry to highlight the natural features of those on screen.

Flavia says, “An actor, man or woman, wouldn’t feel comfortable in front of camera without makeup, or even without knowing a makeup expert took out the shininess out of their skin and took care of unwanted hair flyaways.”

As a makeup artist Flavia Vieira’s knowledge and seasoned skill behind the scenes keeps her working on set more than most. In addition to several upcoming films and television series, she says she is also excited to be a part this year’s 48 Hour Film Project, which takes place in August. With a production team of all women, Flavia says “We’re in it to win it!”

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Cinematographer Yang Shao talks ‘The Great Guys’ and philosophical filmmaking

Yang Shao always knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. He loved the idea of sharing his views with the world, and filmmaking is the ultimate way to do so. Born and raised in the Eastern part of China, he wants to share his passion and viewpoints with the world and bring heartfelt stories to the cinema.

“Modern cinema being predominantly shaped by the western culture is in my opinion missing some jigs of the puzzle which I think eastern culture can offer. Films can be entertaining without having one guy kill everybody around him. Life is so much more than just guns and murders. Beauty and soul of the world – that’s what I want to share with the world through my cinematography,” he said.

It is such a philosophy that has made Shao an internationally sought-after cinematographer. His contributions to films such as A Better World, Under, and Once More have asked audiences some of life’s biggest questions while captivating them with their stories, and the comedy horror television series Life is Horrible has brought joy and tears of laughter to viewers all over the world.

In Shao’s most recent film, The Great Guys, he explores a magical world through the lens of his camera. The film follows a fairy who comes to earth to look for the greatest kid to keep in her home, which is in a fairytale world. She meets eight kids and hears eight different stories. At the end of the story, she decides to bring all those eight kids back to her home together. The story reminded Shao of his childhood.

“To be honest with you, as a kid I always believed in magic. I was a naïve kid when I was growing up and I think that helped me become and achieve those results in the film industry. I try to always stay curious and allow things to surprise me. I think that’s what drew me to this story. I wanted to share this magical world with the young generation, including my own kids who are growing up in a completely different world today,” said Shao.

The Great Guys premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival where it received the Best Director Award. The movie then was distributed in theaters across China. After a successful run, The Great Guys was sold to one of the biggest streaming platforms in China iQiyi. The Director, Jin Zhang, thanks Shao for the success the film received.

“An artist friend of mine recommended Yang as a highly professional and aesthetically exceptional cinematographer. Talented artists have their own vision of things, of ideas and scripts. We managed to find the midpoint where our visions met. To create an outstanding product, you need an extraordinary talent. I’m lucky to have had Yang on my movie,” said Jin Zhang.

Shao did indeed find ways to make each scene visually shine. He aims to light up every scene in a way that drives the story forward. There are different ways to do that, but specifically for this project, he decided to experiment with using only soft filling light of warm colors. He wanted to put more emphasis on the characters. The light therefore is what draws audiences’ attention to various parts of the scene, highlighting what to focus on. In this story, it also shows the difference between the protagonist and the antagonist.

Shao also used a hand-held camera to film, having long takes between cuts. With a magical story, he wanted that feeling to be conveyed at all times. Lots of colored filling light helped to achieve bright and colorful picture that played well with the story and highlighted the emphatic world saturated with magic.

“One thing that I particularly like is the dedication of the crew and the entire team to the craft. I really enjoy working with people who are not only professionals but who also are passionate about what they do. Passion is really what shapes the work and how you see yourself dealing with those people. Nine out of ten times when I’ve seen people had some issues on the set is when they were not driven by their passion. Passionate-driven people on set come from a very different place and in my opinion the final outcome is different in this case. More intimate and personal,” said Shao.

Shao’s favorite part of making the film, however, is the interest he received from his daughter. At the time he was reviewing the screenplay, she was only five years old. He was unsure if he had the time to take on the project, so he read the script many times trying to make a decision. When his daughter asked what he was doing, he began to explain the technical aspects of filmmaking. He realized, that rather that talk to a young child about these things, he’d explain the fairy tale script instead. Immediately, his daughter was enthralled.

“At that moment I thought that with this movie maybe I can get her closer to the magic and not let her think that our life depends only on technological progress. And I did. With that movie my daughter and I started talking about more fun and kid stuff,” he said.

So, what’s next for this industry leading cinematographer? Keep an eye out for Shao’s three upcoming features, NeedIn the Middle of the Night, and Excel on the Highway.

Ukraine’s Alina Smolyar enchants audiences in award-winning performance

Actress Alina Smolyar knows the challenges of her chosen career path. Memorizing large amounts of text, researching characters, drastic physical appearance changes, lack of sleep, transforming into another person, working in extreme weather conditions, the list goes on. However, without such challenges, acting wouldn’t be what she fell in love with when she was only a child. For this internationally sought-after actress, these obstacles are what drives her.

Every project any actor takes on has its own set of challenges, and Smolyar not only accepts this fact, but enjoys it. When working on her film Molehill, which is perhaps the actress’ most decorated film to date, she was faced with what seemed like an endless list of obstacles to overcome, and although it was daunting, this is where she shined.

“Honestly, Molehill was one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever worked on. I thought it would be a disaster! No jokes. But this journey made it all the more rewarding when everything came together,” said Smolyar.

Molehill is an artistic film that follows a group of friends at a party. Audiences are kept guessing until the very end, never knowing what is going to happen next. The ending is completely unpredictable, encouraging audiences to think long after the film concludes, giving the impression that it is a beginning rather than an end.

“I like when it’s unexpected in movies, we as an audience always remember this type of film,” said Smolyar.

Smolyar’s character in Molehill is Leigh, an adult in her early 20s who became older earlier than she’s supposed to. She has a full-time job, her mother is going through health issues, and she has a lot to deal with at home. She finds the need to protect her younger brother Sid, who upon turning 21 becomes very wild. For him, he is having fun, but for Leigh, it is another problem to take care of. She doesn’t have time for herself, to enjoy life or to go out and find a guy. She is incredibly stressed. Her character works in a contrast with everybody and everything around her. From the very beginning we can hear and see a party, people are having fun and this black spot named Leigh who’s so serious and stressed and everything goes wrong for her.

“You know when we are over stressed and it’s so hard to focus on something positive, because it’s like a tornado? You just keep dealing with all this craziness around you. That is the exact struggle Leigh is facing,” said Smolyar.

Smolyar faced a similar struggle when she began working on the film. As a writer of Molehill, she had a different idea of where to take the story, but it wouldn’t work for the film. At the time, she had no idea what else she wanted to share or how to share it. Upon meeting with her director and producers, inspiration struck and she was able to come up with a story she liked.

“You know that feeling when you have to do everything very fast, but you have a white sheet or a monkey with plates in your head? That was me. I had no idea what else I wanted to tell, and we were running out of time,” she recalled.

When making the film, Smolyar was also one of the producers, a role she had never taken on before as she typically focuses on acting. She found her experience as an actress helped with her producing role.

When it came to acting, she put herself fully into Leigh, understanding her struggles and motivation behind every move she made. The arc of the character was important to Smolyar. It was part of her initial idea and was vital for the film.

“It was complicated for me. I guess at one point it worked very well for my acting perspective, because you can definitely see that contrast which I needed for Leigh. I was as stressed in my real life as Leigh was in hers. However, all my preparation for the project as both producer and actress helped to create my Leigh,” said Smolyar.

Being the writer, producer, and star of the film was an enormous amount of responsibility for Smolyar, but she enjoyed that. Molehill truly felt like her film, more so than any other project she had done before. She found wearing so many hats allowed her to become a better actress, and when the film became so successful, she knew she had done her job right.

Molehill premiered last May and then made its way to several festivals both in the United States and around the world. It was an Official Selection at Cine Fest, Festigious International Film Festival, and Mindfield. Smolyar herself was also awarded with Best Actress at the Actors Awards, New York Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, and Oniros where she won Best Acting Duo. The result astounded Smolyar, who although had tremendous success with past projects, did not expect it for her own film.

“It still feels pleasurable, especially when you didn’t expect this kind of success. It feels great when you’re getting recognition for what you’ve been working on and especially when you do what you love,” she concluded.

Be sure to check out Smolyar’s upcoming films 1stBorn, and Skeleton in the Closet.

Yun Huang talks editing powerful new film ‘Stardust’

Editing is about emotion, and Yun Huang knows this well. In order to be successful in her field, she knows that understanding every detail in a script is a necessity. She does not simply put footage together, she tells a story, and she has to know the best way to captivate an audience.

“Being an editor provides me with a chance to tell the story to the audience in my way. I can alter a script if necessary and trust my emotional instincts. I connect with people. This job provides me with a great sense of accomplishment,” she said.

No matter what project she takes on, Huang is sure to keep the story at the forefront of her mind while editing. This is evident in all she does, from the powerful commercial “Choice” encouraging girls to follow their hearts, to the informative and telling docuseries Unveil China Outside China, educating its viewers all over the world on the country’s social and political happenings.

The challenge of any new project is that I have to figure out how I can attract the audience best; for example, how to make an audience laugh at the point that we set up. I always go to the cinema or some film festivals to watch with audiences to see their reactions based on the editing. I should know their thoughts and therefore know how to make my work resonate with the audience,” said Huang.

Huang’s most recent film exemplified just how she connects with viewers. Stardust tells the story ofa male Chinese agent who, loyal to the country, finds out that his most trusted partner, a female Chinese agent, betrays their country. However, as the story progresses, he begins to question his beliefs and the truth.

“I like the story. I’m touched by the soldier’s loyalty to the country and their missions. I believe that showing this kind of emotion is what film is all about,” said Huang.

After premiering earlier this year, Stardust has gone on to several prestigious international film festivals. It was an Official Selection at both the Austin Spotlight Film Festival and Direct Monthly Online Film Festival, an Award Winner at Accolade Global Film Competition, and the winner of Best Action Short Film at Five Continents International Film Festival. With all this, Huang herself was awarded Best Editing at Festigious International Film Festival.

“I was so excited that it got so many awards, and I got an editing award. It just goes to show that hard work and determination will pay off,” she said.

Huang was both the video editor and colorist of this short film, and it was her first time working on a film in the action genre. Initially, she was unsure if she wanted to work on the project, normally leaning towards relevant dramas and documentaries. Before deciding to take part in the film, she talked with the director, Shihang Qu, several times. He told her that he really loved Wing Chun and other kinds of Kung Fu since he was a child, and he always dreamed of directing an action film. She was moved by his efforts, so she decided to take on the project and help the director achieve his dream.

“Shihang is very nice, and he listened to me and considered my suggestions. He accepted all my recommended changes. I really like being respected,” said Huang.

It took over six months to generate a final cut of Stardust. With every day they were shooting, Huang would then look at the footage. This is not a common process, and normally the editor receives all the footage at once in post-production. However, by adopting this style, Huang not only got a better understanding of the story, but also an idea of what the director envisioned. This also allowed her to make suggestions that were instantly implemented. For example, there is a shot of the main character in a scene when they were fighting with bad guys. The director had initially planned for it to be put in the middle of the film as it showed in the script, but Huang thought it would be better if it was moved forward in the story, as the opening scene. It instantly captivated audiences and allowed for the story to be told as a memory, slowing the pace of the beginning and speeding up at the end.

In the end, Huang changed the structure of the story which made the short film more attractive and meaningful. Her instincts as both an editor and storyteller are always fruitful, and she will no doubt continue to have an impressive career. Keep an eye out for her future work.

Mariana Mendez seizes adventure project ‘Viviendo Van’

Ever since she was a child, esteemed film producer, Mariana Mendez, has had a knack for organization. Regardless of the activity she was taking part in, be it a school project or planning a birthday party, she always seemed to naturally advance into a leadership role and handle all decision-making responsibilities with ease. It is almost as if these qualities were ingrained in her DNA and as she grew up, she found an expert way to couple her love of organization and leadership with her passion for the art of filmmaking. She’d catch herself renting movies just to watch “the making of” the film in its bonus features. Seeing how scenes were shot and hearing how actors would talk about their experiences on set made her feel alive in a way she couldn’t put into words. Instead, she put those emotions into an unwavering determination to rise as a producer in the film industry and she has since established a reputation as one of the most invaluable professionals on any project she lends her talents to.

“When I realized that I could pursue a career in film, I looked at all of the roles and crew member descriptions to decide which interested me most. After reading the description of a producer, I just knew that it was the perfect fit for me. I wanted to be the one lifting an entire project from the ground and making sure it runs smoothly until completion. I wanted to be the one organizing, overseeing, and problem solving. These qualities come very naturally to me so it just felt like a no brainer,” told Mendez.

When it comes to growing a project from the ground up, Mendez is a natural. She has seemingly effortlessly been the mastermind behind a number of reputable films such as Viva El Rey. Despite her prowess in the art of film production, however, she is also well versed in the world of producing for reality television. Early on in her career, Mendez was approached with an idea for a reality sports television show that she and her filmmaking partner, Rodrigo Courtney, could produce via the production company that they had started together, Mindsoup Entertainment. After listening to the pitch for the show’s premise, Mendez felt compelled to give it her personal touch and help ensure that it made it to local Mexican audiences in a big way.

Viviendo Van is an extreme sports reality show that follows former kite surfing world champion, Sean Farley, along his adventures around Mexico. The vision for the show was to cast Farley’s life in an exciting, adventurous fashion and the result, for Mendez, was the successful execution of an enjoyable passion project. To her, it felt more akin to a vacation followed by cameras than it did “work.” Once she had sorted all of the show’s permits and logistical details, she was able to experience the excitement and unpredictability of Farley’s love of extreme sports.

Mendez learned quickly that there was a place for planning on this project; however, there was an even more prominent place for improvisation. She knew that as a crew, they would have to accept the reality that certain scenes would require them to merely “go with the flow” and adapt to whatever situations unfolded. It was both thrilling and relaxing, all in one, and Mendez considers herself fortunate to have even been a part of it.

While Mendez was busy taking in all of the joy and excitement associated with the project, her co-creatives were learning of the level of competence she possesses as a producer. She provided them with a platform that they wouldn’t otherwise have had to showcase their skills and to produce something that audiences wouldn’t be able to get enough of. She also managed to raise all of the funds necessary to allow their budget to appear as though it was an afterthought and to seize every opportunity available along the way.

The show was shot in Cuixmala, a beach town along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Its importance in society was twofold: it contributed to Mexico’s tourism industry by showcasing some of the beautiful locations and landscapes that Mexico has to offer, as well as reminding audiences that there is a large place in life for taking risks and chasing adventures. It is easy to become complacent in today’s society and Mendez, along with other cast and crew members, were determined to remind audiences that they should always find time to actually live in life. As soon as the final product was released on YouTube and Vimeo, Viviendo Van was purchased by OnceTV and renewed for several subsequent seasons. It is no secret that it would not have seen such success if it hadn’t been for Mendez.

Since Viviendo Van’s release in 2012, Mendez has gone on to work on a number of other award-winning projects such as Zero Hour and OverAgain. She is currently working on a project that holds very dear to her heart called Inzomnia.Keep an eye out for its release in 2020 and see for yourself exactly what makes Mendez such a desirable asset in the industry she loves so much.

Producer Brandon Lankar delivers hot topics for hit Canadian talk show

Brandon Lankar was just eleven years old when he first began working in the entertainment industry. Because of this, many assume his parents were involved in the industry in some way, but his father was a mechanic, and his mother a stay-at-home-mom. He grew up in a small town outside of Toronto, and still Lankar always knew just what his path would be and never strayed.

Starting off as a pre-teen television host, Lankar soon discovered his passion lay behind the camera, pulling the strings. It was not long before he found his way to producing, and now he has produced several hit programs in Canada, including the news channel CP24 and the popular iHeart Radio Much Music Video Awards, working alongside the world’s most iconic musicians.

“I’m an extremely organized and sometimes controlling person and that’s really what being a producer is all about. You have to have a vision, plan on how you will make that vision a reality and execute it. I’m not risk averse when it comes to my career and that’s something that’s incredibly beneficial when producing. If you’re trying to get an audience to really connect with something you’re producing, you can’t do something that’s been done before. You have to push the boundaries as much as you can and not be scared that you might offend someone or that someone might be uncomfortable with your work. I’ve always said that I don’t care if you hate my work or you love it as long as it makes you feel something,” said Lankar.

Lankar is currently a producer on Canada’s number one talk show, The Social, responsible for not only launching the show five years ago, but also combing through news outlets from all over the world to find stories that will spark captivating debates that will engage the at-home and digital audience. He aims to ensure a robust discussion and works side by side with the hosts to prepare them for the live show. He also produces the final segment, typically a fun game he has created or a light-hearted chat that will leave viewers excited to tune in again the next day.

The Social is a highly rated, award-nominated, national daytime talk series that brings a fresh perspective on the latest news, pop-culture topics and lifestyle subjects. Now on its fifth season, it continues to be the only format of its kind – featuring ways for viewers to be socially interactive through comments and feedback on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks.

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Brandon Lanker in rehearsal with the hosts of CTV’s The Social

“I really love working on The Social. I’m so privileged to be able to work on a show that connects with so many people across Canada. Firstly, it’s allowed me to mix the two genres of live television that I love the most: hard news and pop culture. One day I could be working on a story about the federal budget and another day I could be reaching out to Katy Perry’s publicist to find out who she wore on last night’s red carpet. Secondly, I love working with such a diverse group of people. I think if you want something to be successful, you have to be able to analyze it from several different lenses. Thirdly, I love to ask questions. I was recently working on a segment with a lawyer all about what the legalities are surrounding online dating. To be able to make a career out of being inquisitive has been such a blessing. I’m on social media for everything including news, connecting with friends, dating, travelling, etc. The Social has allowed me to use all these things I love to create content for the country,” said Lankar.

The Social is immensely popular in Canada, and attending the live shows is extremely desirable. The energy from the live audience, as Lankar describes, can be felt throughout the studio, with people travelling from all over the country solely to see the show. That is what he finds so rewarding about his work. Many people reach out to him consistently to tell him what fans they are of the show and how its affected them. He loves seeing the impact the show has had.

“I’ve had someone say they love putting their baby down for a nap and watching the show because it’s the only time they feel they can actually breathe. I’ve had someone tell me that they would watch The Social while going to chemotherapy because it was the escape they needed,” said Lankar. “Even my mom watches the show every day and that’s saying something because she typically only watches home renovation shows.”

The Social is undoubtedly the highlight of Lankar’s esteemed career. He finds himself constantly connecting with his audience, and his work excites him. Earlier this year, he realized just how much he loves what he does when he was given the opportunity to work with his all-time favorite comedian, Kathy Griffin. As a child, he and his sister would lock themselves in their basement with their father’s laptop and spend hours howling with laughter listening to stories of the comedian’s celebrity run-ins. When he heard she was coming to Toronto, he immediately got her booked on the show.

“Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of comedy – specifically female comics. There is one specific comic that I spent hours and hours watching online when I was growing up and her name was Kathy Griffin,” said Lankar. “I booked her for three segments on our show. Two of the segments were her discussing the hot topics of the day and the third segment was a sit-down interview with her. When the day came for her to be on the show, she couldn’t have been nicer. The segment went viral and it was surreal that the young boy that used to watch her on his dad’s laptop was now working with her to make TV magic,” he concluded.

Living her dream, Sherry Du is both producer and explorer

As a producer, Xiangrong (Sherry) Du considers herself almost an explorer; she searches for a script and voyages deep into the story; she locates the heart and soul and finds exactly the right way to portray it. That is why she loves what she does, and that is just what makes her so extraordinary at it.

“Producers take words on a page and make it real on a screen. It’s really cool to me,” said Du.

Throughout her career, Du has used her sought-after talents to create captivating stories. Her films such as AugustFront Door,and Eyes on You have been great successes at various film festivals, taking home awards and impressing audiences. Her work on the commercial for KYJ sausage went viral, amassing millions of views after just a short time online.

With such success, it may seem hard to identify one outstanding project that stands out in her mind, but when asked about the highlight of her career, Du knows that without a doubt it has been working on the film Autumn Ghost.

Autumn Ghost is about a banker, Shawn, who can see ghosts like his mother Maggie. Because of his mother’s medical expenses, Shawn uses his bank clients’ money to buy stock. He loses a big amount of money and can’t put it back. Knox is a ghost who was killed by Shawn’s boss, Raven. He notices that Shawn can see ghosts and wants to ask Shawn for help. However, Knox makes a deal with Shawn: Knox helps Shawn get money, whereas Shawn helps Knox get revenge on Raven.

“As I studied the horror genre, I realized that the most terrifying thing is not simply dying, but being a ghost stuck in the veil of humanity. Ghosts cannot do anything, like they are lost in another world,” said Du.

Du actually came up with the idea for the story after watching horror films in her teens. She decided to research the genre and create a feature film. Once hiring a co-writer, they finished the script of a man who can see a ghost that helps him solve his future problems. Du had always liked stories about gods and spirits and found that the supernatural element of the script added a uniqueness to it.

After completing the screenplay, Du decided to shoot a trailer. The first step was finding a team who was passionate about her story, which Du found in Director Jing Ning and Cinematographer Will Job. The next step was finding a location. They needed an entire office that would be big enough for a film crew. Du managed to entice a company by suggesting that with production design, their office would be spruced up and modernized.

When shooting the trailer, Du felt something truly special. It was her first time ever writing a script, and she was amazed to see the character’s in her brain become real people when portrayed by the actors. When the visual effects were added, it brought everything together. She truly felt like her story was coming alive.

The idea of shooting a trailer first is to gain investors for the film, something Du is responsible for as the producer. The trailer itself has been making its way to several film festivals, impressing audiences and critics. It was an Official Selection at the CARE Awards Around International Film Awards in Berlin, Orlando Film Festival 2017 and the Creation International Film Festival 2018 Winter. It won Best Trailer at 15 Minutes of Fame Film Festival 2017 and Glendale International Film Festival 2017 and Best Horror/Thriller/Sci-fi Short at the London Independent Film Awards. Most recently it took home the Diamond Award for Trailer at EIFA Winners Spring 2018. Needless to say, such a response gained much recognition for the film, and Du is very excited to begin production.

“Even though it’s hard to produce a feature film from scratch, trust me, it’s worth it. I want to thank my director, my team and my actors. I can’t wait to get the film started,” she said.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Autumn Ghost.

Dancing with Everybody Watching: Audience Favourite Richard Rennie on His First Craft

Tinseltown News favourite Richard Rennie is back centre stage, this time to talk about his experience as a highly acclaimed international dancer.

Richard Rennie’s journey into the world of professional dance was one that started at four years of age.  Put in a ballet class by his parents, it was apparent that Richard was a star-to-be. “I remember my parents speaking about it – I was going crazy, I loved the classes so much.  And then I think I was actually quite good – I picked up the choreography well, I had great discipline, I loved to listen to the music and the teacher – I was apparently an exemplary pupil,”  Richard adds with a smile.

After completing his time at the amateur dance studio of Aberdeen, Scotland, where Richard Rennie grew up, it was clear that he was meant for something much greater in the world of dance.  “I was given the suggestion of auditioning for dance schools at the age of 15 and I knew it was where I wanted to put my focus,” explains the globe-trotting Scot.

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Richard Rennie: centre stage as the principal dancer for the world-famous Moulin Rouge

Richard then moved to Paris to study and pursue a career in professional dance.  Upon arrival, he became unstoppable in the dance world; a name that would come to be both known and revered by many in the highest elite circles of the notoriously competitive and niche community.

“I had an opportunity at age 18 to get a summer job at Disneyland Paris.  It was my first professional gig – a real dance job – and it was an amazing experience that I’ll cherish forever.  That really was the onset of my career,” Richard notes fondly of his time with the Disney Corporation.

From ages 18-21, Richard was found studying at the prestigious, Doreen Birds of London.  His studies there were ballet focused with the addition of musical theater, jazz and tap influences.  Graduating at the top of his class, Richard undoubtedly had the technique, presence, sharpness, musicality, and natural talent to become one of the highest regarded dancers in London.

“I mean in my career, I was still considered a kid.  I was just starting out but I had drive and an understanding of my talents.  My teachers and peers complimented me on my stage presence and my partner work all the time.  I knew I was ready to reach the highest level of my career – and my dance abilities were taking me there.”

After graduating, Richard’s career took off over night.  He landed a principal position in a dance production of Cinderella at The King’s Theater in Glasgow, Scotland.  He quickly went on to work with top professionals in his industry, dancing for renowned artist Florence and the Machine, Volkswagen’s Car Show, and modeling and dancing for the most elite line of dancewear in the world, Capezio DanceWear.

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Performing as a professional dancer has required Richard to develop skills that are equivalent to a top-level professional athlete. 

It was after much success that at the age of 25 Richard was offered a position at the well known Moulin Rouge.  A star within itself, established in 1889, the Moulin Rouge is the pinnacle place for dance in not only France but in all the world.  It was no wonder that Richard joined the team and rapidly rose to the top. As principal dancer for a tenure of 5 years with the company, Richard was deservingly compensated at 600 euros per night, the highest of salaries offered with the company.  Like all professional dancers with a rigorous show schedule of 6 nights a week, RIchard dealt with his bout of injuries throughout his time. However, his fortitude and dedication to his craft kept him steadily on the path to quick recoveries.

“Because of my intense ballet training, my dance technique has always been impeccable and that helps a lot (with injuries) – as long as you practice dance in a safe and controlled way, you shouldn’t get serious injuries – however with the intense nature of the Moulin Rouge: doing 2 shows a night, 6 days a week, for 5 years – it’s inevitable that you will get injuries here and there.  I was lucky though, when you get to a successful level of an established company like Moulin Rouge, and then even more so because of being a principal dancer – you are treated with the utmost care and concern – amazing physio, attention to injury and healing. I bounced back quick.”

It’s clear that it wasn’t just the extremely delicate treatment of the professionals at the Moulin Rouge that allowed Richard quick recoveries.  His training, adeptness, and skill set didn’t let him skip a beat.

Richard speaks of his time at the Moulin Rouge; “I think my fondest memory was probably my opening night (at the Moulin Rouge) because at that point I hadn’t worked in a company for a long time and hadn’t been on stage for a long time.  I’d worked on a lot of music videos and fashion shows, but not been on stage since 2008 and now it was 2011, and I remember the feeling at the beginning of the show – we’re all at the back waiting to start and the audience went wild and I remember that hitting me, being on stage again.  I mean, there is nothing better.”

He continued to live that rush of the stage life during his time in the professional tour of Chicago the Musical once he landed in the states.

If 5 years as a principal dancer wasn’t enough, Richard was found participating in the most elite showcases for modeling and dance offered in Paris – Schwarzkopf Hair Show, The Ou Café “Vivement Dimanche”, dancing for Lisa Angel and Arielle Dombasle, to name only a few.  

Out of all of that, what was the most challenging dance job?  “I think I’d have to say the Capezio Dance Fashion show – it was a tough, long, hard showcase of work – and representing a dance clothing brand, not any clothing brand, but the most renowned in the world, that was a big undertaking.”  Richard took the challenge on with grace and ease. “The choreographer, David Leighton,” the biggest name in London, “was known for very technical dancing with commercial and hip hop elements – big turns, difficult lifts – a dancer’s greatest challenge and greatest joy.  Truly a transformative experience in my career. I felt so blessed to be a part of something so colossal in the dance world.”

Capezio DanceWear can be seen worn by the most elite dancers around the world every day.  Richard, representing the line that in fact represents the entire dance community, was the greatest asset to the brand given his talent and skill that makes him the highest level of professional in his craft.

Olivia Jun rises in the face of stress for stellar HUAWEI Mate 10 commercial

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Olivia Jun

When Olivia Jun was just a child, she remembers watching her first movie and existing in a state of shock for the remainder of the day. She felt as though a door to another world had been opened. She saw people unlike her, in a life entirely different than her own. She realized that there must be more, there must be a world out there that was much larger than she thought. As she grew up, she allowed her love for film to inspire her and to guide her thoughts and interests to a better place. She immersed herself into the culture, history, and sciences of film. She absorbed as much knowledge as she possibly could about the industry and how to excel amongst the highly talented individuals who keep it alive. She never silenced the desire within her to become a filmmaker and today, she is well known for being a highly versatile, well-respected film producer.

So, what does an average day in the life of someone like Olivia Jun entail? Without fail, Jun tends to be one of the first people to arrive on set for the day and nevertheless, one of the last to leave. She spends every second in between undertaking tasks like ensuring cast and crew members are fed, monitoring the set up for the actors’ dressing rooms, liaising with department heads to ensure that roles and responsibilities for the day are clearly outlined, and much more. If an issue has arisen, she diligently opens lines of communication with everyone involved to make sure that they are able to come up with a seamless solution. Toward the end of the day, she proactively meets with each team to discuss preparation for the following day, and then finally, she determines how much of the budget was used that day and how best to manage remaining resources for the remainder of the project. To her coworkers, it feels almost as if she is capable of being in two places at once as she is always on her feet and she is there when someone needs a hand. Without Jun’s contributions, it is unlikely that many of the films and commercials she has produced would have ever been the successes they were. She was an invaluable asset in the creation of films like Esther, and Donna, as well as commercials for companies like eHi Car Service and HUAWEI Mate 10 Cellphone Commercial.

Earlier on in 2018, HUAWEI Cellphone Company put out a request to their contacts in the industry to recommend a highly skilled producer who would have the talent and expertise necessary to create a cutting-edge commercial for their company. As a direct result of Jun’s pristine reputation, she was asked to come on board for the project and to produce their commercial, HUAWEI Mate 10 Cellphone. Jun was particularly thrilled to join as the commercial was to be shot in the United States; however, the rest of the project would take place in her home country, China. She enjoys any opportunity that allows her to showcase her skills as a bilingual, culturally aware producer and she feels as though this ability gives her a leg up ahead of her competition.

The advertisement depicts a young man assuming a number of different roles in order to show off the multiple functions of the phone. The aim was to highlight the phone’s versatility and the knowledge that no two individuals will use it the same way; however, the phone is capable of accommodating each different variation of use. They wanted consumers to understand just how highly intelligent and convenient the phone is to have and Jun, along with the rest of the crew members involved in the commercial, did an exceptional job of making consumers feel as though the HUAWEI phone is the phone missing from their lives.

Jun joined in this project at a time after its former producer had to leave as a result of certain cultural and language barriers. Because of this, tensions were high amongst cast and crew members and her clients were very stressed. Astonishingly, even amidst difficult time constraints, Jun remained calm, patient and determined to bring her clients back to a place where they felt confident and excited about the project. Without wasting any time, she immediately began selecting and preparing set locations, organizing shooting schedules, and rebalancing the budget in such a way that actually afforded them an extra day of shooting without going over budget. Her clients were blown away and were relieved to know that they had hired a producer who could not only get the job done, but get it done well.

“The plan I came up with was very organized and it saved us a lot of time, lowered our risks, and allowed us to complete the shoot much better than we had originally anticipated. During the shoots themselves, everything was well organized, safe, and smooth. The director got more than he wanted in the first place and the entire cast and crew were left feeling content and excited about the work we had done. It was a great feeling,” told Jun.

In addition to her prowess as a producer, Jun was such a prominent member of the entire project because of her ability to speak Mandarin and address the communication barriers with her Chinese clients that hindered the project with their previous producer. Her experience working with both Chinese clients and American clients increased the value she brought to the table and it also helped her to choose cast and crew members that would compliment their shared interests. On top of that, she entered a very stressful situation when she first joined the project; however, she has an affinity for looking stress directly in the eyes and refusing to back down. She keeps her sights set on delivering her very best and knows that if she comes up short, she will have no regrets regardless. Somehow, however, she never seems to come up short in the end. She loved embracing each challenge she was handed and was proud of the final outcome. Once again, the HUAWEI Mate 10 Cellphone Commercial exceeded all of her clients’ expectations and added yet another high calibre commercial to her repertoire.

Ultimately, the commercial premiered at the cellphone’s launch event in Munich, Germany, as well as on a worldwide lifestream. It was also released on Youtube, youku.com, tencent.com, and more. To date, it has just shy of 500,000 views and counting. Jun is extremely proud of how far they came when she first joined in on the project and she can’t wait to see what additional success this advertisement will bring to the phone’s selling story. Making her beam with even more pride, however, is the fact that in June of this year, HUWAEI made another commercial for their new cell phone called NOVA 3 and hired Jun as their bilingual producer after witnessing her expertise for the HUWEAI Mate 10 Cellphone Commercial. Stay tuned for its release next month.

Jamie Maunder designs without limits

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Jamieson Maunder

There are two types of people in this world: those who believe that there are limits to what an individual can achieve, and those who understand that limits only exist to be challenged. The latter group are few and far between yet tend to exist within a small percentage of society’s highest performing achievers. In the case of designer Jamie Maunder, for instance, dreaming without confines is a natural part of who he is. With each goal he sets for himself, he expects to not only complete it, but to outdo his former self. All it takes is a mere glance at Maunder’s career as Head of Design to know that he wasn’t built for an average life. He was designed for greatness and with greatness, he designs.

Throughout the course of his career, Maunder has tested his hand at multiple disciplines within the design industry, including working in design studios and clothing factories, as well as print and production agencies. The skills he has acquired throughout these diverse experiences make him an invaluable part of any project he collaborates on, as was the case when he worked for entities like Loughborough Sport and the International Olympic Committee. This reality was exemplified in 2006 when Maunder began his three-year journey working with the elite sportswear brand, Stash. Having grown up being inspired by Stash’s unique, British premium sportswear, Maunder felt that this opportunity was something he absolutely had to be a part of. His ability to secure employment with Stash is a testament to Maunder’s networking skills and eye for design. At that point in his budding career, he had made a name for himself and Stash were not slow to notice.

When Maunder first began working at Stash, he was taken back by their unique setup and by their willingness to foster his development as a designer. Within their headquarters, Stash came equipped with a design studio, as well as a full production house with approximately 75 per cent of production in house. This presented Maunder with a learning experience unlike any other he had known in the past. The setup epitomized the concept of being able to see a job through from start to finish.

“Having the production under the same roof as the design facilities allowed me to witness and learn the processes involved in carrying a product through from inception, or the design phase, to being packed up and ready to be shipped. I couldn’t resist learning how to use all of the machines and this took my understanding of the development phase to a whole new level,” recalls Maunder.

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Jamieson Maunder, Kerry Williams

As he tends to do with every company he joins or project he contributes to, Maunder left a lasting impact on the employees and design protocols at Stash. He can be credited with not only introducing the first three-dimensional rugby jersey illustration during his time at Stash, but also for training his colleagues to use this method. This resulted in a significant reduction in the duration of the illustration phase of a design. It allowed Stash’s design team to provide their clients with a prompt idea of what their design would look like in reality prior to actually creating it. In addition, this allowed his co-workers to expedite these processes which, in turn, allotted him more time to develop new, exciting products and ways to increase Stash’s brand awareness.

Ultimately, during his time with Stash, Maunder was responsible for developing compression garments for some of the world’s top professional athletes. In 2009, for example, he worked with the British Bobsleigh Association to design and create cutting-edge race suits that not only looked appealing but were designed with purpose and functioned in such a way that helped these athletes remain at the top of their game. The skill set he developed here is one that he carries with him in every job he encounters today, and he considers the opportunity to invent with no barriers as having been one of the most liberating, important parts of his entire career. It felt as though he was working with the elite in order to serve the elite and the outcomes kept in theme.

It isn’t difficult to understand why Stash were honored to have Maunder on their team for such a growth-oriented period of time. In fact, Sailosi Tagikakibau, who captained for the Stash Allstars team and who’d had Rugby performance apparel created for him by Maunder, found him to be an inspiring, valuable person to have collaborated with. When asked what made Maunder such a pleasure to work with, Tagikakibau was eager to describe him as someone genuine and skilled.

“Jamie is someone that puts his heart into everything that he does. From scratch, he managed to put together a team of professional international and national players to test the products he had created and to ultimately win tournaments. He always wants to know how he can improve something, which in turn, made me very comfortable as a professional athlete. Knowing he had my personal interests in mind at all time made a world of a difference,” told Tagikakibau.

For Maunder, on the other hand, working with Stash was so much more than a resume builder. It helped him to identify a passion he hadn’t quite taken notice of in the past and one that far extended beyond simply designing and producing sportswear. Rather, he finds himself driven by the fact that his profession affords him countless opportunities to dive deep into his problem-solving skills and address issues in an unexpected, yet meaningful way.

“My time at Stash changed my whole outlook on a career in design. I became obsessed with the human form and with the way in which it moves. For this reason, my ability to design apparel that enhances an athlete’s performance was strengthened by my time at Stash and I couldn’t be better off for it,” Maunder concluded.

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