From Syfy’s “Lost Girl” to the miniseries “Gangland Undercover,” Actress Jessica Huras

Jessica Huras
Actress Jessica Huras shot by David Leyes

The vast array of roles played by Canadian heartthrob Jessica Huras speaks to her incredible ability to not only blend into any character, but to stand out among star-studded casts. She has become an inimitable asset to countless productions, and with more new projects lining up each day, she is certain to be a household name among audiences the world over.

In the award-winning SyFy channel original series Lost Girl, Huras’ recurring performance as a mischievous receptionist proved so impressive that she earned a role as the acting double for Anna Silk, who plays the main character of Bo in the series. Huras, as Silk’s double, took on the role of a supernatural being who fights against her insidious roots to try to become a champion for righteousness.

Her exceptional charm and talent caught the attention of the makers of the Lifetime Network’s original series Missing, on which Huras gave a stirring performance that helped to launch her career. The show follows a detective, played by MTV and BET award-winning actress Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Volumes I & II, Independence Day, Batman & Robin), as she searches for missing persons in Washington D.C. Huras plays a missing teen, and worked directly alongside Fox during the shoot. Huras’ character was a transgender youth, a potentially controversial challenge, which she took on with a sense of pride and personal conviction.

“This role was a ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ type of role, and I prepared intensely for the job,” said Huras, a consummate professional and equal rights advocate. “It’s an important issue and I wanted to find an honest portrayal of the struggles transgender youth face.”

Recently, Huras played the role of Natalie, the wife of a man tasked with infiltrating a criminal motorcycle club in the 2015 hit History Channel miniseries Gangland Undercover. Her husband Charles, played by Damon Runyan (On the Other Hand, Death; Cheaper by the Dozen 2), is a hardened member of the notorious Vagos biker gang. Charles, is caught by the police and made to choose between hard time in prison or turning on his former comrades and becoming an informant.

“Natalie was a wholesome young woman who got dragged into the lifestyle of her meth-operating husband,” said Huras. “Over the course of the series we see how her choice to marry Falco and get into drugs ruined her life.”

Of his time working alongside her and portraying her husband, Runyan said Huras was critical to the plotline of Gangland Undercover.

“My amazing onscreen wife, Jessica Huras, is at the heart of [the story arc],” Runyan said of their work together on the miniseries. “Tune into her fine work on Gangland Undercover.”

Huras has several exciting upcoming new projects for audiences to eagerly anticipate, including Teeth, an independent film which deals with the male-centric state of the entertainment industry in New York. A heavy-hitting examination of a perennially relevant and critical topic, Huras said she felt right at home playing the lead character.

“I felt I could heighten my current experience into a kind of surreal, somewhat psychologically broken down version of myself,” she said, “and that was fun and scary at the same time.”

Teeth is currently in post-production and will be released on the festival circuit this year, where her role will no doubt leave a lasting impact on audiences once again.

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Actor Spotlight: Dynamic Australian Actress Alli McLaren!

Alli McLaren
                                               Actress Alli McLaren shot by Jen Allison

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, actress Alli McLaren’s impressive acting performances in a variety of genres, both on stage and screen, are demonstrative of her vast range and skill.

With acting in her blood, as both her mother and grandmother are acting coaches; McLaren began honing her craft at an early age. Although facing many setbacks throughout childhood, McLaren has developed her acting talents by channeling these challenges to further her understanding of characters and their emotions.

Although McLaren states that “drama is her favorite genre,” and while the majority of her performances elicit strong emotions from viewers she is much more then an outstanding dramatic actress.

McLaren proves her genre flexibility in the action packed comedy film Writer’s Block, where she plays the starring role of Sophie. With a light and boisterous comedic undertone, Writer’s Block is packed full of exciting scenes and fast paced choreographed action. As the star of the film, McLaren inhabits the role with perfect comedic timing and impressive action skills.

A stark contrast from the majority of her past performances, McLaren found herself engaging in combat and using weapons throughout the film, which was a new experience for the young actress, but something she found extremely exhilarating.

“I always love to change up what I do to challenge myself both creatively and artistically, thus it also makes it more fun for me” says McLaren.

Due to the immense popularity of the film, which was produced by White Night Films, a sequel is currently in the works.

Return of Greta, which was written and directed by Boardwalk Empire star Victor Verhaeghe also showcases McLaren’s comedic chops as a beauty contestant who must overcome the often silly and surreal drama of pageant life. The film Return of Greta is a tremendously poignant and satirical look at a real life institution.

Under the direction of Emmy Award winning actress Blanche Baker, McLaren delivers a stirring dramatic performance with a strong core as Gretchen in the film Infidelity.

In the film, which is a brilliant 21st century re-imaging of the French script La Despute, McLaren plays a scientist attempting to discover the cause of infidelity in couples; and it is up to her to tie together all the dramatic threads of love and loss between the couples she researches. McLaren’s performance in the film is as thought provoking as it is powerful.

“For me, its very easy to find a connection to a character and then go and watch people in real life who are like that character, to build a foundation from,” admits McLaren.

With the rare ability to listen to both a persons words, and body language, McLaren has the skills to bring real, heartfelt emotion to any character she plays.

My Year Of Silence, a film written by and starring McLaren, is proof of this. As the character of Callie, McLaren craftily weaves an emotional journey based on her own life experience, a performance that is highly anticipated.

The open minded and always hungry for something new approach to acting that Alli McLaren brings to the table is as refreshing as it is skillful.

“I feel like working with so many different people and in so many different genres makes me a better actress,” says McLaren.

The Wizard Behind the Scenes: Reality TV Producer Tone Innset

In the world of reality television, producer Tone Innset is the wizard behind the scenes. Responsible for some of the hottest competitive and documentary series in her native Norway, Innset regularly oversees crews and cast of more than 100 people and ensures that everything goes off without a hitch. With a huge range of projects under her belt, and more on the way, Innset raises the bar for producers following in her footsteps in the industry.

Tone Innset
Producer Tone Innset shot by Mark Newton

As the producer of Unge Modre, the Norwegian counterpart to Teen Mom, Innset shows an exceptional talent for capturing the most honest, human moments of the show’s subjects on the screen.

Unge Modre is a compelling display of both her business savvy and creative vision. Her approach to working with the stars of the intimate docuseries is one of compassion, carefully treating each of the young mothers with compassion while still managing to give viewers the truth about what is often a very difficult subject matter.

“When you are making a series like Unge Modre, it’s important to be aware of and remember that you are dealing with teenagers and very young adults, and their kids and families, and take that into account,” she said.

Using a closely-guarded set of insider secrets to coax the stars into giving the most earnest interviews and relatable on-camera interactions, she has helped make Unge Modre into the dramatic and moving pieces of television that it is today.

“I like to ask questions they don’t get asked everyday in order to dig a little bit further into their lives. Then I listen and ask new questions based on what they’ve just said,” explained Innset. “Usually, the person you are interviewing will show some real feelings and tell you what they really mean.”

Much more than a world-class, detail-oriented producer, Innset is a people-person who knows the importance of being sensitive to the needs and circumstances of those people her work documents. She makes gripping television by using more than just her technical skill and business-savvy, but by knowing her subjects and recognizing that they are human beings with strengths, vulnerabilities, and stories that reach out and resonate with audiences. She describes herself as a “people-junkie,” and admits that, “producing reality TV is more a lifestyle than a job.” That passion shows in her enormous volume of work.

“You get to meet so many different kinds of people, see many different places, and hear so many different stories,” she said. “I love to meet new people and get to know them. I think unscripted reality is awesome. I mean you never know what you are going to get on tape. You don’t know what it’s going to be like until you finish editing, and that excites me.”

Innset’s people skills also make her an essential player in the casting process, which is probably the most crucial factor in determining the success of a documentary series. Through a rigorous array of methods, she finds and narrows down a huge pool of candidates and potential cast members, until a final group is ready for eager viewers to follow their figurative journey.

In the case of Charterfeber, that journey is actually quite literal. Following a group of Norwegians as they escape the frigid north and travel to an idyllic Spanish island, the show allows viewers to escape the daily grind and live vicariously through the eclectic cast of characters. As the producer for seasons eight, Innset was tasked with overseeing the casting of the show, which required a lot of networking, hours of planning and research, and many, many phone calls.

“When you have done casting for a while you get connections, and a network you can contact when you’re looking for people to do a new season or a new series,” said Innset, who knows just how important that network is to the success of a production.

“It might be you have a person you know that’s been in a series you produced earlier, so you call them and ask if they know someone [relevant]. Then they might give you some names, and then you call them up and do your research on them.”

That process, one of her many techniques, is long, intensive and very hands-on, but has yielded excellent results and made her a standout figure among her peers in the world of reality television. , With her heart, soul and utter dedication invested in every element of production, the quality of her work shines in every episode of every one of her series. Innset, who’s on call all day, every day, says she loves each second of the hectic job she refers to as her calling.

“People like to watch docuseries and reality shows because they like to peek into others’ lives,” said the unwaveringly passionate Innset. “We get a sneak peek into how other people choose to live their lives, and see people that live very different from how you do.”

Her latest production, Norges Grillmester, recently aired during a primetime slot on TV2, Norway’s biggest commercial television station. Innset’s latest season of Unge Modre is also set to premiere this fall on SBS Discovery’s FEM, and will be syndicated internationally.

Dwayne Hill Brings Our Favorite Characters to Life!

Dwayne Hill
Dwayne Hill shot by Garlande Erion

The most valuable skill an actor can possess is the ability to completely transform themselves and become so unrecognizable from one role to the next that a viewer no longer sees the actor, but the character. In doing so they bring that role to life, they immerse the audience in the story and make them forget for a while that they’re watching a work of fiction.

Dwayne Hill is one of the greats. He is the recipient of an ever-growing number of international awards and nominations, the man behind hundreds of characters in both film and television, and the voice of countless advertisements for some of the biggest companies in the world. If you’ve been within earshot of a television this week, chances are pretty good you’ve heard his inimitable voice.

In his capacity as a voice-over actor in advertising, Hill’s contributions are legion. He has done more than 1,000 commercials for innumerable businesses including Toyota, 7/11 and MasterCard. Presently, he serves as the voice of Vonage.

Hill played the fan-favorite role of Coach Carr in Mean Girls, easily the most iconic high school comedy of the 2000s and arguably since John Hughes’ films of the 80’s. His performance as Coach Carr, the hyperbolic sex education teacher with a “scared straight” approach, made him one of the film’s most quotable characters, and a source of frustration for the protagonist, played by Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday, The Parent Trap).

Coach Carr was exactly the kind of ridiculously outlandish teacher that exists at virtually every high school, believable in his absurdity. The screenplay for Mean Girls was written by the amazing Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) whose trademark blend of dry wit and whimsical satire are apparent in the Coach Carr character, which Hill brings to life perfectly.

“I had a great time playing Coach Carr,” said Hill, praising both the role and the writing. “Tina Fey is a genius.”

Incredibly gifted as a screen actor, Hill also possesses an exceedingly rare talent for breathing life into animated characters through his amazingly varied voice-over work.

“I somewhat unconsciously become the character I play,” Hill said, describing the way a person of his talents gets in character when that character happens to be a cartoon. “I stoop my back and flail my arms; to an outsider I’m sure I look like a madman, but I really can’t help it.”

He has mastered 40 accents, and has voiced hundreds of roles in over 70 animated series. Recently, he became the voice of Cat on the PBS cartoon Peg + Cat.

“It has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my career. It’s a show that makes math fun for kids, and it does it through songs and great stories,” Hill said. “If you’ve got kids aged two to five they’ll love it, I promise.”

Peg + Cat has been a huge hit with not only kids, but also with parents who have come to rely on the exceedingly high standards of PBS programming to supplement the early childhood education of their children. The show has won four Daytime Emmy Awards, and Hill’s vocal talents earned him a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.

Another of Hill’s long list of star-studded credits is the wildly popular Gemini Award-winning animated television series Braceface, starring and loosely based on the life of MTV Movie Award winner and Golden Globe-nominated actress Alicia Silverstone (Clueless, Batman & Robin). Hill’s incredible voice talents earned him the role of Silverstone’s dentist on the show, which helped launch the career of Canadian Comedy Award winner Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad, Arrested Development).

Hill’s most massive television undertaking, Atomic Betty, saw him playing 26 different characters. Each of the roles he voiced in the popular Canadian animated series was a distinct individual, entirely original and with their own unique personality. His huge contributions to the show earned him the 2009 Gemini Award for Best Individual or Ensemble Performance in an Animated Program or Series.

Atomic Betty was an amazing experience,” Hill said. “Kevin Gillis, who produced the series, is one of the most supportive people I’ve ever worked with. He trusted the talent to meet every challenge, and it was truly inspiring.”

His reputation as a prolific actor with a gift for assuming any character he plays or voices has made Hill one of the most sought after names in an ever-growing business.

Alan Morell, Dwayne’s business manager at Creative Management Partners, says “Dwayne is truly one of the greats and at the tip of the iceberg for his career accomplishments current and future. His road ahead is going to be stellar.”

Composer Vincent L. Pratte Uses Music to Communicate Abstract Emotions

Vincent L. Pratte
      Composer Vincent L. Pratte shot by Marie-Ève Labadie

Canadian born film composer Vincent L. Pratte creates dynamic and thematically rich film scores that will enthrall any audience with their musical diversity and depth.

A musician who began scoring orchestra pieces in high school, Pratte is a composer who doesn’t mind going outside his comfort zones and trying new and unique methodologies. In college Pratte came to the conclusion that, “music and especially composition was not monolithic, and that there was room to do whatever he could imagine”.

Pratte believes that in films, the music is there to add emotional, dramatic or narrative layers to a scene, but not to overwhelm it. It is through this meticulous and complex process that Vincent L. Pratte is able to stand apart from other film composers as someone whose music is truly original and highly sought after.

Pratte says, “I do try to pay attention to things beyond the narrative, like editing choices, camera angles, and lighting… In the end, I think that those elements will have an impact on my musical choices as well.”

Demon Gate, a horror film revolving around demonic possession, beautifully demonstrates Pratte’s style of composition. The film’s score showcases an open ended musical structure that features a wide array of musical styles to achieve a deeply dramatic tone. Pratte is a composer who feels a film’s score can make the viewer feel visceral in ways that the visual medium cannot– a point that is driven home by the haunting score found in Demon Gate.

The film Eleanora: The Forgotten Princess, which is a cross between a musical, a period piece and a fantasy film, features a riveting score by Pratte that serves as an exploration of the character’s inner motivations. This super natural tale of revenge and jealousy sports a composition that embodies the weight of a much larger thematic piece without overwhelming the narrative.

“Although we often tend to think of film music in terms of dramatic end epic themes, so much of the work of a film composer is actually about how to subtly complement a scene,” admits Pratte.

Pratte’s score for Foos Your Daddy, a coming of age comedy, creates a brilliant texture reminiscent of large-scale gladiator-style films, which perfectly accompanies the film’s “absurdist touch,” as Pratte puts it. In the film, which was directed by Luke Patton, a father and son indulge in one last foosball game before the son heads off to college. Pratte’s score is a testament to his brilliance as a composer who fully understands how to create music that sets the tone for each scene.

As the film progresses the intensity of the score expands exponentially. Whereas the film starts out with a “coming-of-age… indie rock vibe,” as the foosball match unfolds the composer uses music to create an air of high stakes, big action, and emotional transitions.

Pratte has composed for a lengthy list of films across virtually every genre, but he admits that his favorite medium to compose for is animation because of the freedom and intensity it allows.

His poetically melodic score for Eloise, Little Dreamer gave the tale of a young girl, who is separated from her sister in the big city, a multi-layered emotional resonance. The film was most recently awarded the Best International Animated Film at the New York International Film Festival.

John Doe, the animated story of a detective lost in a case he is unable to solve, features another strong score by Pratte, with the film’s lack of dialog making the score integral to providing the narrative for the twisted tale.

Although Vincent Pratte still enjoys composing orchestra pieces, his passion for blending the abstract nature of music with the more concrete artistic medium of film, is by all accounts his true calling. A film composer who, like a magician, has many tricks up his sleeve, Pratte is a dynamic musical talent whose compositions augment any project to which they are attached.

Spotlight: Film Composer Shaun Chasin!

Shaun Chasin
                                          Composer Shaun Chasin conducting a string orchestra at The Bridge Studio

Shaun Chasin is a prolific composer who uses his immense musical talent to write and record soundtracks for films, television programs and video games for some of the biggest production companies in the world. Through his work Chasin essentially sets the mood for entire narratives, breathing life into what would otherwise be just dialogue and silence.

Chasin recognized early on the importance of the growing video game field, and has applied his knowledge and passion for that booming sector of the entertainment economy to boost the sense of immersion. He was integral to the success of the recent game Hektor, for which he was not only the composer and sound designer, but also worked with a 40-piece orchestral band to record the soundtrack.

“Video games provide an interesting opportunity for a composer because it’s a non-linear medium,” Chasin said, explaining how unlike the score for a movie, video game soundtracks must be able to change and adapt on a moment’s notice. “The music must stick with them and be able to change based on their actions.”

Hektor is a great display of his adaptable and varied talents, but Chasin primarily works in film, where his compositions truly shine. One such film is 11 Minute Mile, the striking story of a man stuck in an airport after all flights are cancelled in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The man tries desperately to reach his brother, a runner in the ill-fated foot race, but his attempts are in vain. Through Chasin’s careful work on the film’s score, the audience feels that frantic anxiety and emotional distress.

“This was a particularly moving project for me to work on,” said Chasin, who was a long-time resident of Boston. “I had many friends there at the time of the bombing and it occurred in an area where we all frequently would hang out. For the score, I looked to the emotional potential of synthesised sounds to try to create the feeling of the main character’s inner turmoil and worry.”

In The Sin Seer, Chasin helped compose music, which set the tone for the intense thriller. The Sin Seer stars Lisa Arrindell Anderson (Clockers, Madea’s Family Reunion) as Rose Ricard, a woman who has a special gift for sensing the lies and motives of people, which she uses to solve crimes and cold cases. The film also stars Michael Ironside (The Machinist, X-Men: First Class) and Salli Richardson (I Am Legend, Antwone Fisher).

Chasin’s exceptional musical talents and the diverse range of his skillset also made him the ideal composer for Ho Yaqeen, a series which tells the stories of six people who have strived to improve Pakistan, their home and the country they love. The series is directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, whose film Saving Face won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2012.

“The six-part documentary series looked at the contributions of unsung heroes to world,” Chasin said. “Each episode featured a new individual. This allowed each episode to have a different and unique musical sound.”

In addition to film, television and video game compositions, his contributions to the music of international advertising campaigns are invaluable. Among his projects are two public service announcements with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy prior to his work with her on Ho Yaqeen. He also did the music for Coca-Cola’s Crazy For Good ad campaign, the purpose of which was to encourage the commission of random acts of kindness.

With a virtuosic understanding of the power of music and sound, and an innate ability to apply them in a way that perfectly sets the mood and tone of any project on which he works, Shaun Chasin’s golden touch has made him one of the most desirable composers in the field of entertainment.

Through the Eye of His Lens Egor Povolotskiy Captivates International Audiences

Egor Povolotskiy
                                                Russian cinematographer Egor Povolotskiy

Mixing both European and Hollywood styles, Russia’s Egor Povolotskiy is a cutting edge cinematographer soon to be on every director’s must have list. Although beginning his education in artificial intelligence and computer sciences, Povolotskiy soon determined through his love of photography that his real passion was to be behind the lens.

Choosing projects on the potential for a unique story telling experience, Egor’s desire as a cinematographer is to make the audience feel something, and to leave them thinking. Povolotskiy truly believes that “the cinematographer is the bridge between the direct and the people in the movie theatre.”

When asked to describe the role of the cinematographer, Povolotskiy stated: “Turn off the sound, if you understand the story, if you feel it, that means the cinematographer did their job right. The main responsibility is to translate the story in people’s minds without them noticing it.”

With such films as Red, Blue, and Purple, Egor’s camera work is demonstrative of his ability to convey emotion with color, light, shapes, and textures. Telling the tale of a journey inside the mind of a prisoner who’s mentally drifting between, two worlds, the individual, and the collective. In Red, Blue, and Purple, Povolotskiy’s cinematic eye shines brightly.

Egor went on to win much acclaim for his cinematography work on the film Sabre Dance, winner of numerous awards from both the Rochester International Film Festival as well as the USA Film Festival. Telling the true story of famed Russian composer Aram Knachaturian preparing to meet famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali for the first time. Povolotskiy’s excellent use of period lighting and color palettes gave the film an emotional and realistic depth bringing the actors performances right off the screen.

As the main characters were so vastly different, Egor has stated his greatest challenge on this project was capturing the emotional point of view of opposite personalities.

“The cinematographer is in charge of the mood of the film, he or she has to understand not only how the lighting works, but how to be a bit of a director also,” says Povolotskiy.

We Are Enemies, a compelling tale of bonding under unconventional and extreme circumstances, is a prime example of Egor’s ability to do just that. Using gritty color tones and lighting techniques, Povolotskiy’s cinematographic skills are truly evident. This film also garnished several awards from the esteemed Rochester International Film Festival.

Known for making magic with whatever equipment and location he has available, Egor Povolotskiy feels that “by his eye, the audience will see the film.” With his work on the acclaimed film Death of a Government Clerk, based on the famed short story of the same name by Anton Chekhov, this truth is clearly demonstrated. With creative and moody camera work and lighting, this story of the personal trials of a 1900’s Russian clerk who finds himself on a life altering path of self destruction is a compelling and visual experience.

“There is no project for me so far, which I have shot the same way” states Povolotskiy. And with several exciting upcoming projects such as the horror film Goetia, Egor clearly demonstrates he will hold true to this statement, always evolving with each incredibly entertaining and engaging project.