Dancer Jackson Williams has conquered the United Kingdom

 

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Jackson Williams as a barber during the Take That 3 Tour.

Jackson Williams has already had an extraordinary career. He has toured the world doing what he loves, performed on national television, and worked with those that inspire him. He truly is one of the best dancers in the United Kingdom.

After performing on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor television show, Williams went on tour with the artists around the UK. He journeyed around Europe dancing for Whitney Houston, and went around the Eastern Hemisphere with Kylie Minogue and her Aphrodite Tour. Last year, he travelled all around, performing alongside Ellie Goulding’s Delirium World Tour. But what he says may be the most fun he ever has had on tour was for the celebrated boy band’s Take That 3 Tour.

“They were my favorite boy band growing up. I had posters. I had cassettes. I was young, and I would watch TV and they were in a boxing ring doing break dancing. I remember Take That. They hit the world by storm. They were like The Beatles 2.0. They still pack out stadiums for eight nights,” said Williams. “It was one of the most successful tours that have ever come into the UK. You are on stage with the best, and you can’t complain.”

The stadium tour was entirely indoors, and very theatrical. It allowed Williams to not just be a dancer, but a true performer as well. He went from a sea urchin, to a ninja, and then a barber. They incorporated a variety of styles when dancing, including contemporary, break dancing, puppetry, and even judo.

“There is so much to do when you do a show like this. The stage moves in a circle, the B stage goes up and down, it has ramps, the screens are some of the biggest screens you can get. The manpower is like 250 techies. It is the most creative virtual experience. It doesn’t matter if you are a kid or an adult, it is pleasing to the eye. My dad hates stuff like this, but he went and watched the Take That tour and said that was one of the best things he’d ever seen,” said Williams.

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The Take That 3 Tour Stage.

The 3 Tour was Williams’ third time touring with the band. The experience for him is particularly enjoyable because it is always the same people touring. Some of the people on the tour have been with the band for over fifteen years. The creative director and choreographer of the tour, Kim Gavin, has worked with Take That for the last 20 years  and Williams says he has learned more from Gavin than he has with any other choreographer he has worked with.

“Some of the things Kim asks you to do you think is impossible and he wants it to happen, and it does, you adapt. He always pushes you to the limit. He is just a genius. When he tells you stuff, you think it will never happen, and then it comes alive and you are like how did that happen?” said Williams.

Gavin likes pushing Williams to his limits, and describes him as one of the most renowned dancers in the U.K., always in high demand, and says Williams was a critical factor of the success of the tour.

“Jackson backed the group up with extraordinarily skilled and distinct dance moves and incredibly energetic flow that gave the shows explosive energy. He completely stood out among the rest of the dancers as a leader in every routine, and helped the group captivate the masses with an unforgettable concert experience,” said Gavin. “Jackson was always able to pick up on choreography very quickly and was even able to recreate every dancer’s routine in the shows, and would consequentially step in as the replacement of any dancers who were absent and would perfectly execute these routines due to his diverse vocabulary of styles and ability to handle high pressure. He has an incredible audience connection and has shown a unique ability of bringing his own personality to the stage, and this has made Jackson invaluable to the reputation of the shows that keeps fans coming back for more.”

The audience connection is one of Williams’ favorite parts of touring with Take That. The screaming fans that have loved the band for decades create a high when dancing on stage that is contagious, and dancing alongside the same people that he has been for years is like being with a second family.

“I was dancing for the biggest boy band in the country that everyone loves and knows. If there is any tour I would want to do again, it would be with Take That. It is like putting the Piri Piri sauce on. It’s exciting. There is something about it. You never have a dull day. It always feels different,” said Williams. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t in it; I wish I was out there watching it.”

One of the most unique and exhilarating nights of the tour involved doing a world exclusive in the cinema. There was a night doing a show at the O2 that streamed a live feed to cinemas all over the world.

“You aren’t just doing it for the people in theatre. You are doing it for 30 million people watching at the theatre,” said Williams. “There are cameras everywhere and people running around. You think about the safety of yourself and the band. We have birds flying around the sky with puppets, and we are dodging cables but the audience doesn’t see that, they see these beautiful birds. It was mental. It was hard work, but it was the best.”

Working side by side with his idols since childhood was a surreal experience for Williams. He was part of the choreography, and the band members would ask his opinion on how things should be in the show. Not many get to have their idols turn to them for advice.

“I know all their songs. I couldn’t help but sing along when I was dancing,” he said.

Williams has conquered the dance field in the United Kingdom. There is not much more he can do in his country that he has not already done, which is why he is heading to Vegas to dance in Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike Live after turning down the opportunity to tour once again with Take That’s tour this year. In his words, he is “ticking off the boxes” to a career of perfection.

Joy Sun shows her creativity with website and logo design for Bruber Media Partners

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Joy Sun is from Tainan City, Taiwan.

For Joy Sun, being a graphic designer is more than just a job. She is an artist, and she is passionate about what she does. Every day is the chance to create something extraordinary, and that is exactly what she is known for.

While having a successful career in graphic design, Sun has been able to work on both inspiring and award-winning projects. She designed the business cards for Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, a transgender advocate who was greatly impressed with Sun’s work. Using her naturally artistic capabilities, she is also a storyboard artist, and her work on the film Blake Chandler: Psychic Investigator went on to be recognized at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. As a graphic designer, she has worked with multinational companies, including Bruber Media Partners. Just last year, Sun was the chief designer of Bruber’s logo, their Chinese website, a 25-page investment presentation book (from designing and printing) and the PowerPoint.

“Designing the website and logo was absolutely exciting, it challenged me in ways that I had not been before,” said Sun. “If you think about a logo, it has to be timeless as it has to represent the company for a very long time. It is the first impression of the company to others. For the website, it was very fun and a fresh experience. It does not only include what the company does but also has to have what the company has to offer to the investors.”

Bruber is a company that is the very backbone of the film industry, dealing in investment and distribution. Sun had full creative control over the projects, and her work ultimately led to the overall success of the logo and website. She says that her upbringing in Taiwan ended up helping her with the final product.

“I had to shift my thoughts to a more business approach, and coming from a business oriented family I felt I had the tools and mindset to create something that would be intuitive, elegant and creative, and would exceed the expectations of my client,” said Sun.

When coming up with an idea for the logo, Sun wanted to highlight that it was not just an investment company, but an investment company in film. She began by starting with old film stock. She had open artistic license for the logo, which was not only used on the business card but on the website and all other media regarding the overall business image and branding.

“Bruber wanted something obvious but not cheesy so I designed different versions of the logos with the consultations I got and researched what the difference between 35mm and 16mm film stocks. That was very fun,” said Sun. “It all meant a great deal to me because my design will be seen and recognized in any business ventures Bruber Media Partners might undertake.”

While designing the website, Sun wanted to find a way to make it timeless. She wanted something that could tie in the elegance of old media with the style and seamlessness of contemporary graphic design. Not many graphic designers could have achieved such a task, as Sun describes designing in Mandarin as having a totally different mindset compared to designing in English, saying the spacing and the weight of the characters are enormously different.

“It was a huge challenge to research because there are not a lot of modern websites in Chinese for investment, which are based on information. When I was designing it, I had to play with English graphic design factors to create a good-looking website. Using a lot of shapes built by the paragraphs instead of sentences, I finally found a good balance between new and the knowledge I have for the graphic design that I am used to.”

Sun managed to find that perfect balance. Bruber has had immense success with both their logo and Chinese website, and Sun’s work can be directly attributed to that. Beryl Huang, the Chairman of Bruber Media Partner and Bruno Cavelier, Consultant of the Motion Picture Group, who both worked closely with Sun on the project, agree that Sun was extremely vital to the overall success of Bruber Media Partners, saying her work was a highly crucial factor in the development of the company since it focuses on establishing business relationships with China and the United States.

“One of Joy’s greatest strengths is her ability to elevate a project through her role, no matter what the size. She has performed many key roles in various productions that always seem to be of the highest praise which is why I have hired her in the past and will continue to bring her on to future projects,” said Cavelier. “ Joy represents the highest caliber of a graphic designer and storyboard artist in the industry. Her accomplishments and achievements prove time and time again that she can take on a leading role and go above and beyond what is expected, which in my experience, is a quality that separates the exceptional from the average.”

With such an impressive skill set, it is no doubt why Sun is regarded as one of the best.

Editor Rudy Vermorel Nails the Mark on the Campaign for Award-Winning Video Game Clash Royale

Often referred to as the ‘invisible art’ that takes place behind the scenes of a film, commercial and other visual media projects of the like, the work of an editor is critical to setting the tone, style, and structure of a project. While their work requires extensive skill and often long, laborious hours in order to sew hundred of hours of footage together into something that unfolds seamlessly on screen, editors rarely receive their due credit in the press; but that’s just the nature of the game, the mark of the best editors means their work goes unnoticed. One editor who deserves quite a bit of attention for his extraordinary talent though is Frenchman Rudy Vermorel.

Vermorel began his career nearly a decade ago, and what he’s accomplished since is nothing short of amazing. With a keen eye for the perfect shots and the ability to create a seamless flow on every project he lends his magic editor’s wand to, Vermorel has become known for his distinct skill through his work as the editor of commercials for auto industry leader Ford, the video game Homefront: The Revolution, and countless music videos for artists including Demi Lovato, Party Favor, Av DiVinci, Alexx Mack.

Last year Vermorel signed on as an editor at Eyestorm Productions, an LA-based creative agency whose well-known clients include Hasbro, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, video games such as Tom Clancy’s Endwar, Call of Juarez the Cartel, Rocksmith and Zombiu, and many more. Eyestorm Productions also did the TV Spots, behind the scenes and featurettes for “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith,” and most recently the ad campaign for the video game Clash Royale.  

As the lead editor on all of the trailers and commercials for Clash Royale, Vermorel’s work for the game has been hugely successful on an international scale with the collection of ads garnering over 120 million combined views on Youtube, and other social media platforms.

“Last year Rudy came on board as the editor of the Clash Royale campaign, one of Eyestorm Productions latest projects. The series of commercials he edited for Clash Royale really drove home the intense competition and modern vibe of the game in a way that seamlessly represented the product to users and made them want to start playing Clash Royale. He nailed the project in every aspect,” explains Eyestorm Productions owner Michael Klima.

Released on March 2, 2016 Clash Royale was developed and published by popular mobile gaming company Supercell. Referred to as the ‘King of Gaming’ by Forbes in 2013, Supercell gained worldwide attention when its first two games, Hay Day and Clash of Clans, began pulling in $2.4 million per day.

Clash Royale is a real-time multiplayer mobile strategy game starring the Royales from the popular Clash of Clans game. Mixing together elements of a collectible card game, tower defense, and multiplayer online battle arena, Clash Royale allows users to form their own Clan and share cards to build their very own battle community. Available on Android and IOS platforms, Clash Royale quickly became No. 1 in the U.S. on the top downloads chart, as well as the top-grossing list on the iOS App Store game upon release. Last year Clash Royale also earned the coveted Google Play Award for Best Game of the Year, an award emphasizing app quality and innovation over the previous 12 months selected by a panel of experts on the Google Play team.

Over the past year Vermorel used his extraordinary editing skills to cut a plethora of commercials and In App ads for Clash Royale, including the incredibly popular “Clash Royale: Settle it with a Duel (Doctor v Doctor),” “Clash Royale: Settle Your Check With A DUEL!,” which has earned over 20 million views since it’s release last month, “Clash Royale Settle it with a Duel (Santa v. Dad)” and “Clash Royale: DEFUSE the Situation with a DUEL!” commercials.

“Clash Royale: Settle it with a Duel (Doctor v Doctor)” has earned a whopping 14 million views on Youtube since it’s debut on the Clash Royale Channel in January. The highly cinematic commercial is full of intensity and bright colors, which heightens the energy as two doctors battle it out over what treatment to give their patient– the perfect parallel to the intense competition users feel when playing Clash Royale.

Any user who sees the commercials edited by Vermorel would be hard pressed not to be pulled in by the cinematic effects, precise cuts and building energy set by the EDM music playing in the background– it’s no wonder that millions of users around the world have signed in and begun playing Clash Royale!

Vermorel says, “I love the game, and I love the company! They have a very modern way of working, each project is different, and there is always a new story.”

Rudy also edited a series of hilarious and visually modern character spots for the campaign, such as “I Am The Knight,” “The Log,” “Princess Got It,” “It’s A Goblin Barrel!,” and several more, all of which have gained incredible traction with viewers around the world garnering over a million views each on Youtube.

“I wanted to showcase the funny side of the characters and design the ads in a way that made them endearing, then I opted for a modern, dynamic editing approach in order to attract the interest of a large audience,” says Vermorel about his inspiration as the editor of the campaign.  

Aside from editing the Clash Royale campaign, Vermorel also edited a plethora of successful ads for Supercell’s Clash of Clans game. From the way he’s edited the commercials for each campaign, endowing the videos with an energetic and engaging vibe that is relevant to modern gamers, one might assume that Vermorel is a gamer himself, but ironically he is not! The fact that he is not a gamer, but has managed to edit the campaigns for both Clash Royale and Clash of Clans in a way that struck an obvious chord with users says quite a lot about his creative talent as an editor.

Klima says, “Rudy’s unique creativity and extensive knowledge as an editor are what have made him so successful. From our experience working together I can easily say he is the best at what he does and that is why we’ve hired him to continue on as the editor of future campaigns for Clash Royale.”

 

Justine Gera and the Stars That Guide Her Path in Dance

Dancing side by side with your mentors every day while fine-tuning your dance skills and perfecting your ability to absorb new choreography quickly — sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? It has been for dancer Justine Gera.

“I have met so many amazing people — choreographers I look up to,” explains Gera. “I’ve learned a lot about their career paths and knowing that they are supportive of my career and want me to succeed is the greatest feeling.”

For six years, Gera has taken the stage next to world-renowned dancemakers Tyce Diorio, Napoleon & Tabitha D’umo, Sean Cheesman, Luther Brown, ShoTyme, Megan Lawson, Jillian Meyers, Tina Landon and others as an assistant with Triple Threat Dance Conventions. It’s her job to demonstrate and lead the movement given to students by whichever top choreographer(s) she is assisting that day.

Dancer, Justine Gera

Versatility is key. It’s not uncommon to be performing contemporary dance in one session and transition to a completely different style in the next. Gera must also absorb the choreography as quickly as a thirsty sponge and immediately execute it flawlessly to provide students with a clear model of technique and of the quality of movement and style each choreographer desires.

Though the job demands a machine-like accuracy when it comes to mastering new dances, Gera’s dancing is far from robotic.

“Justine has a flare and character in her dance that is unique to her and is rarely seen,” says Triple Threat director Carolina Lancaster-Castellino. “She truly is one of the most exquisite and extraordinary dancers we have seen over our 18 years traveling across Canada.”

It is these qualities that have helped this stand-out make her mark outside the convention circuit as well. Gera has performed with Canadian pop artist Victoria Duffield and in music videos featuring Amanda Blush and Tristan Thompson. She’s also enjoyed time at sea as a dancer with Royal Caribbean cruise lines and appears as a dancer in Disney’s Descendants 2 movie.

A personal and professional highlight for Gera was performing “Rhythm Nation” with the legendary Janet Jackson during her Unbreakable World Tour. After a brief but intense audition process, performing with the superstar was exhilarating.

“The whole performance was a complete rush of adrenaline and I got a bit teary eyed when we finished,” recalls Gera.

Kelly Konno, who has worked with international music stars like Janet and Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Prince, Pink, and*NSYNC and is director and co-owner of Triple Threat, has witnessed Gera’s development as a professional first-hand.

“Justine is one of the most hungry, driven, passionate and talented dancers that I’ve seen in a long time,” she observes. “She is the perfect representation of the next generation of professional dancers in Canada and the U.S..”

Justine at convention

It’s clear her dedication and talent are why Gera has been hired again and again by the convention to assist.

“We look for dancers who are not only at the top of their craft, but who are committed to all of the behind the scenes work as well,” says Triple Threat president and co-owner Dorie Konno. “Justine has been one of Triple Threat’s greatest assistants. Her passion for dance and the entertainment industry shines through.”

Despite the long hours and minimal sleep a dancer gets while working in this role, Gera is happy to go back for more each year.

“The best part is that it is just like a family reunion. Sometimes I don’t see a lot of these people until we reconnect at conventions and they are like my family,” she explains.

Gera’s dance family and her biological family encourage her to follow her dreams despite the obstacles that are part of a life in dance. Physical toll and the risk of injury are ever-present challenges but dance is often an emotional journey for performers as well.

“There have been many times in my career when I have thought that I wasn’t good enough or talented enough to ‘make it’ and reach my goals,” says Gera.

In those inevitable moments when her confidence is shaken, Gera recalls the advice of her supporters to never give up and channels her feelings into her dancing. Given her success in the dance industry, it’s a method that has clearly served Gera well.

Though she will continue to explore new heights, Gera is humble and thankful for the continued opportunity to develop professionally as a choreography and teaching assistant at conventions under the watchful eyes of the star choreographers who have been her mentors.

“It’s just a really good feeling to be relied upon. Certain choreographers have watched me grow up [at conventions] and having their support has made me believe that I am on the right career path.”

The dance world never doubted it.

REGGAE BY WAY OF NEPAL WITH JOINT FAMILY INTERNATIONAL’S MAGNETIC DRUMMER

One of the most effective way to influence a culture is through the Arts. For example, when the music of one region permeates the world on a global scale, it’s doubtless that this region “has arrived” as a worldwide focus. Reggae has brought attention to parts of the world which might have been overlooked, giving voice to the sounds and moods of its originators with great positive effect. Kathmandu is a long way from Trench Town in Jamaica but the Nepali band Joint Family International (JFI) heard the call of reggae and took up the mantle, to great success and acclaim. In addition to their domestic and international touring, JFI won three Hits FM Music Awards (Nepal’s equivalent of the Grammy) for: Best New Artist, Best Performance by Group or Duo with Vocals, and Best Pop Composition for their debut release One Good Thing. Perhaps the most intrinsic facet of reggae is its rhythm which is so unlike the European or American ones found in Jazz, Rock, R&B, and so many other modern musical forms. Sanjay Shreshta (JFI’s founder, bandleader, and guitarist) needed the most adept drummer possible to give JFI’s rhythm section authenticity. Sanjay knows quite a bit about drummers as he is also the drummer for the famous 1974 AD band. Sanjay’s enlisted Nepali session drumming ace/instructor at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory Kismat Shreshta. Sanjay proclaims, “Kismat is charisma personified when it comes to playing on the stage in front of an audience who wishes for an unforgettable musical experience. I’ve never seen anyone who has a better command of groove and blends so well with the music and Bass lines. Kismat has such a deep understanding and sensitivity of what the music needs…and when he solos, it’s a treat for his bandmates as much as the audience. I knew that having him behind the drums in JFI would be the spark that would propel JFI to greatness.”

Kismat has toured and recorded with a variety of successful groups including: Albatross (Band of the Year award winner- Radio Kantipur), Urjazz (playing to crowds of thousands at the World Village Festival held in Helsinki) and various others. As the only Nepali drummer to ever have been awarded a professional endorsement from an American company (Vater sticks and percussion), Kismat is more than a respected drummer in his homeland; he has become a drum hero. While the respect and praise of others might be the icing on the cake, this drummer is always focused on the music. JFI presented Shrestha with an opportunity to dig deep into reggae. As a longtime fan of the genre, it was a welcome challenge for him. He comments, “The general idea most people have about reggae drumming is that it is easy and that’s exactly what the great drummers of reggae want you to think. They want you to feel the lightness of the music and lyrics, without noticing how amazing they are as musicians. The more I researched and studied Reggae, the more I learnt about its specifics and differences, meaning that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I listened to the best reggae drummers and taught myself about reggae music. During JFI rehearsals, Sanjay would show us a certain grove and feel of the music, which we then took home and internalized. I also researched more on the different styles of playing to allow myself to play this kind of music as authentically as possible. There are still parts of who we are all as players that crept in to the music, it’s inevitable. I have spent my life performing jazz and rock music. I think there will always be some of that in my playing.” The song “Netaji” from JFI’s debut recording is an example of this. “Netaji” spent 3 months as the number one single atop the Nepali charts. While the song exhibits the authentic reggae sound and hopeful attitude, the linear hi hat, snare, bass drum “licks” that Kismat subtlety weaves into his drum part give a hint that his proficiency is always slightly restrained to serve the groove.

 

JFI received international accolades and garnered fans in addition to those of their homeland. The group appeared at the 2014 Kolkata Peace Festival which took place in Calcutta, India. Invited by an organization named Bangla Natak which hosted this annual music festival in association with the US embassy, JFI performed to an estimated 5,000 concert attendees. In 2015, the band travelled to Thailand as part of the Global Battle of the Bands as well as the Kathmandu Jazz Festival in 2013. JFI has been the headliner band for the Sundance Festival (in Kathmandu) from 2010-2012.

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Kismat and his bandmates began JFI as a way to celebrate Bob Marley and also challenge themselves. The overwhelming acceptance of this band from Kathmandu playing music born of Jamaica has surprised them more than anyone. Kismat confirms, “Honesty, these awards came as a huge surprise for us all as we had never imagined a reggae band such as ours to receive awards and acceptance of this magnitude. The recognition we got through media and the like for winning these awards made all our efforts seem worthwhile. While we had started the band for fun’s sake, winning these awards made us even more inspired to move on.” One Good Thing is available on iTunes and multiple digital music formats.

EVGENY TELEGIN: EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS IN THE COMMERCIAL INDUSTRY

The difference between good and great is most easily revealed when the pressure is on. One’s true abilities rise to the surface when instinct and “thinking on your feet” is all that is afforded. If you want to be considered the best of the best you need to possess these skills as well as surround yourself with professionals whom also embody them. Dmitry Venikov is CEO of Trehmer CGI and the in-house director of this elite Russian production house that specializes in design and three-dimensional work. When Unistream (money transfer company) needed to create nine commercials in a very immediate time frame, Venikov was relaxed knowing that expert producer Evgeny Telegin was at the helm. Telegin’s work with many international brands such as Nike, IKEA, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and countless others gave him a proven record to handle any situation with all global and domestic clients. His respect and countless international connections in the industry reinforced his ability to insure his productions were received with high praise. Telegin’s reputation as welcoming obstacles was an attractive attribute as well. The Unistream project would test this as it required nine commercial spots to be filmed in one day! When the person in charge is relaxed and confident, this demeanor trickles down to the entire production team. As proof, Evgeny and his team delivered their work ahead of schedule and with the high level of production imagined by Unistream. With apparent pride in his voice, Venikov professes, “, It was a saving grace to have such a legendary producer as Evgeny at the helm of the production. The Unistream commercials were a triumphant success due in large part to Evgeny’s ability to handle multiple things at once while still performing each task at the highest level of skill possible. Given the strict deadline at hand, Evgeny was a lifesaver by hiring an outstanding crew and cast, which included the celebrity host of Russia’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, along with coordinating set construction and the preparation of the shoot. The commercials called for finding representatives of different nations, who could speak their language fluently while acting on stage.  This task was not easy to approach in such a short amount of time; however, Evgeny found everyone at a rapid pace, and they all turned out to be the perfect fit for the client’s needs.  As a result of Evgeny’s producing, the commercials aired all across Russia and CIS countries, driving Unistream’s sales up 300 percent.”

New Year in Trehmer_2

When dealing with advertising, casting is always important. For a production discussing finances, trust is paramount. Telegin needed a star for the Unistream commercials who embodied both of these traits. Everyone in Russia knows Dmitry Dibrov; not only for his work as the host of “Who wants to be a millionaire” but also as a journalist, actor, director and musician. Highly detailed planning and preparation made the filming occur smoothly, while Evgeny credits Dibrov’s high level of professionalism (delivering everything in almost the first take each time). This highly respected and recognizable celebrity, coupled with a delivery of the message in each geographic area’s authentic language, allowed consumers to feel comfortable in a number of ways.

The communication between Dibrov and the other actors in these commercial spots reveals a truly Russian (and areas surrounding Russia) scenario. It’s quite different from what many American advertisers or even American citizens experience. It also further reinforces the challenges which Telegin and his team faced in preparation for the production. Evgeny notes, “Unistream is very popular for money transfer within the country but mainly targets post-Soviet countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, etc. It’s not a secret that many neighbors of Russia come to Moscow seeking jobs. They send money that they earn back home to their families. That was the target audience for this campaign. Our goals for the commercials were to be easy to understand and informative in terms of benefits. We came up with the idea of Dmitry Dibrov doing his own small investigation about why is it that every second Armenian or every third Kazak sends money back home through Unistream. He is asking at the Unistream “random” customers why they choose Unistream. They all say in their native language what they like about it: fast service, broad network, and low rates. In the end of every story Dibrov repeats “low rates” the way the customers just said it in their language. It also adds some familiarity and comfort with Dibrov saying words in the customer’s native language.” To help create the “everyman” feel of these commercials, many first time actors were cast to interact with Dmitry. Instead of an overly polished and slick feel to the performances, viewers felt that those seen in the commercials were just as believable as themselves, which transferred the message that this was an appropriate service for them to us in their own lives.

Talent, experience, and connections are a requirement of every producer, but Evgeny points out one attribute that is often overlooked…awareness. He confesses, “I think a good producer has knowledge of what is popular, what is trendy at the moment. For example, there was a time in Russia when viral videos were very popular. If you know these kind of tendencies, you can come up with interesting and fresh ideas for great productions. No doubt that all the world looks closely at productions done in the US. I would say it’s the main course of style and techniques. You might want to monitor this direction if you want to succeed. Another direction would be international festivals. You see who wins or is nominated so you can find some young and unknown talents to offer to your clients. These young talents are fired up to work and extend their experience in other countries while the clients/agencies are happy because you bring something new and fresh to the productions. It’s a win-win. You must be sure that this young director will be able to produce the results you expect. You have to use your ‘6th producers sense’ based on your experience. Being an effective communicator allows you to tell if it will work out or not.” Telgin requires the same traits that Dmitry Venikov attributed to him. His achievements give increased validity to the professionals he works with, bringing those with a similar desire for exceptional work cultivates greatness at all levels. Delivering greatness is what drives this exemplary Russian producer to get up and face a new challenge every day.

 

Natasha Khan Mayet is one Indian Actress Making a Huge Splash in Hollywood!

Natasha Khan Mayet
Actress Natasha Khan Mayet shot by Paul Smith

When internationally acclaimed actress Natasha Khan Mayet was growing up in South Africa, she knew her future would be a creative one. Since beginning her acting career over a decade ago, Natasha has become known for her roles in Mother, May I Sleep with Danger with James Franco and Tori Spelling, Metropolitan Detective, and 2 For Flinching. In a time when actresses like Priyanka Chopra are protecting national security in Quantico and Deepika Padukone is making moves in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Natasha Khan Mayet proves actresses of Indian descent can make it in the big time on a global scale.

One of her most recent projects, Trafficked, is proof of her incredible accomplishments as globally renowned actor. In that film, Natasha shares the silver screen with Golden-Globe nominated actress and American movie star, Ashley Judd, well known for her roles in the blockbuster Divergent franchise, Olympus Has Fallen and Double Jeopardy. Natasha admits that Judd is “one of [her] favorite actresses,” so it’s no surprise that she’s proud of the esteemed production. The story of Trafficked concerns three girls from America, Nigeria and India who are trafficked through an elaborate global network and enslaved in a Texas brothel, and must together attempt a daring escape to reclaim their freedom.

In her key role as a woman who is kidnapped by Albanian mercenaries and sold to a group of Italian men, Natasha steals the audience’s attention every time she is on screen, such is the power of her captivating performance. She proudly explains that the filmmakers needed an “Indian woman with strong acting skills,” and that she was the only actress who fit the bill.

Given the critical impact her scenes have on the film’s plot development, it’s easy to describe her role as the heart of the film. The emotional depth of her role and its critical importance to the film’s story was clear while shooting. Natasha tells us how “[t]he scene where we were tied up and at the mercy of the Albanians was pretty raw, and as I stood there tied up with other girls we literally felt as if we were their prisoners.” She goes on to say that “the scene became so real…a couple of us were already crying because the moment was so real to us.”

Not only was Trafficked shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, it was written and produced by Siddharth Kara, author of the internationally acclaimed book Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. Kara is also a leading professor at Harvard and a lecturer at UC Berkeley, attaching greater credibility to a film project that not only brings an audience to tears, but has a politically charged message that will ensure its global success.

Further to that, Natasha confirmed her exceptional acting skills in Trafficked by working alongside award-winning director Will Wallace, who won a feature film prize at WorldFest Houston for his hit comedy Cake: A Wedding Story, starring Major Crimes and The Closer TV star, G.W. Bailey. Another one of his projects, the romantic drama Red Wing starring Hidden Figures star Glen Powell and the late Bill Paxton, was an additional credit to why Natasha was so excited to play a critical role in Wallace’s latest project.

Natasha’s authentic relationship with her craft is reflected not only in her involvement with Trafficked, but the diverse range of roles she has played in a number of other high-profile film and television productions. She explains that “acting constantly challenges me,” and that “it allows me to explore the different aspects of myself, grow and constantly evolve, and tell a different story through each role that I play.” So while Trafficked represents a recent silver screen highlight of which Natasha was a key reason in its success, she is also experiencing extraordinary triumphs on the small screen too.

Film Poster for
Film Poster for “Trafficked” directed by Will Wallace

Most recently, Natasha was seen playing the critical role of Helena Michaels in the Amazon-Prime original series Music & Murder. Appearing alongside Atlanta TV star Tony Scott, the formally-trained actress added a great depth of intrigue as the mother of lead character Chastity Michaels, and thus provided important emotional life to a storyline about a talented music video producer who avoids life on the streets and finds success, only to be framed for murder.

In further support of her reputation as an actress capable of playing complex and fully-rounded characters, much like her South African compatriot Charlize Theron, Natasha plays reporter Angela Lee in the upcoming television pilot Stimulus. In this provocative series, Angela is torn between reporting the news and uncovering the truth, in a story that raises significant questions relating to race, politics, religion and prejudice.

Clearly, Natasha’s recent work shows she is an actress who sticks to her artistic values. She elucidates that she loves “any project or role that challenges” her, and that it’s crucial for the production to “tell a story that is in some way important and conveys a message.”  

Cinematographer Jon Keng captures beautiful moments in award-winning film “The Stairs”

Growing up in Singapore, Jon Keng was always interested in photography. This love for still images eventually grew into something more. This lifelong passion of looking through a lens transformed from still images to filmmaking, and now he is an internationally successful cinematographer.

Working all over the world, Keng has shown his extraordinary capability as a cinematographer on a variety of films. His work on the award-winning film Fata Morgana was screened at some of some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, and this trend continued when he worked on Cocoon, Home, and Tadpoles. Last year, his film The Stairs premiered at Ashland International Film Festival 2016, where it won the grand prize of Best Short Film. It also was screened at the Festival 2016, the USA Palm Beach International Film Festival 2016, and the USA River’s Edge International Film Festival where it went on to win the Special Jury Prize for Best Film.

“It feels great to be validated by the success the film has been receiving,” said Keng.

The Stairs was initially conceptualized as a television series, based around a gay, high end male escort and the lonely men he meets each week. The film follows an older man who hires a male escort for company on Christmas Eve, finding an unexpected kinship with the young man in this late-night exploration of solitude, intimacy and the basic human need for connection.

“I was attracted to the script of The Stairs initially. On the surface, it seemed very ‘undramatic’, with the entire story centered around a long conversation scene, but digging deeper, I began to uncover many subtly hidden emotional beats and arcs that each character goes through. I thought this was very tasteful and I made it my challenge to make the piece visually arresting to keep the audience engaged through the long dialogues,” said Keng.

Keng describes the style he filmed in as very calculated, as he tried to focus on emphasizing each specific beat during the long dialogues in the scenes, in order to make sure that the audience fully understood what was occurring, which largely contributed to the success of the film.

“I also played around with themes of escalating visual connection between the two actors in the film, building up to a final point of disconnection,” he said.

Keng worked alongside an all-star cast and crew on The Stairs. The film stars Tony award nominated actor Anthony Heald (Silence of the Lambs, Boston Public, Red Dragon). It also starred Kelly Blatz (NCIS, Fear the Walking Dead, Aaron Stone) who co-directed the film with the writer Zach Bandler (Switched at Birth).

As a director who has worked and will continue to work with Jon at every opportunity, I can say without hesitation that he has the rarest of talent in cinema: instinct. Cinematography isn’t just a technical job where someone points a camera for you at the actors or figures out where the lights should be. A great cinematographer is as much a storyteller as the director or screenwriter. Watching Jon work, he is truly “one” with the camera. It’s an organic part of them. He makes it move like a human being in a way that draws the audience into film. He has a sense for the lighting that evokes the perfect emotional response for that moment in the story on screen. He possesses nuance, sensitivity, he is a leader in their own right, without whom a director would be lost. That type of talent cannot be learned or taught, because it’s God-given. Jon has it. He is an artist in the most profound sense of the word,” said Bandler.

All who worked with Keng on the film were impressed with his cinematographic instincts. Meg Steedle, an actress known for her work in Boardwalk Empire, Grey’s Anatomy, and American Horror Story, was a producer on the film. She describes Zeng’s work as masterful.

“Jon’s was a dream to have on set. He ran the camera, grip and electrical department with an efficiency and effectiveness that kept the film running on time while still capturing beautiful moments on screen. For a producer, someone like Jon is the ideal,” said Steedle. “He’s got a ridiculously bright future ahead of him in this industry and I intend to hire him every chance I get.”

The opportunity for Keng to work with such a distinguished cast and crew was a vital aspect to his experience working on The Stairs. Blatz and Bandler knew what he was capable of, and were very open to collaboration. This gave Keng the freedom he needed me to push himself visually and experiment, and watching the actors provided inspiration.

“It was a privilege to be able to work with Anthony Heald, a veteran actor with such a strong theatrical pedigree. I was really just transfixed watching him go through his long monologues, conveying a deep sense of emotion,” said Keng. “Kelly was amazing to watch on set, as he was both acting and directing the film. He would be acting in one moment, then switch to director’s mode and talk about shots. This takes a great amount of multitasking. Despite doing multiple overnight shoots in a row, he was still filled with energy and concentration, which he was able to bring across to the entire crew.”

Keng was also a multi-tasker on set, working all the way from pre-production to post-production, ensuring everything was executed to perfection. With commitment like that, there is no doubt as to why he is considered such an exemplary cinematographer.

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