Composer Daniel Raijman Speaks to International Audiences Through Powerful Film Scores

Daniel Raijman
                                                  Film composer and guitarist Daniel Raijman shot by Fernando Stein

Guitarist and composer Daniel Raijman spent his youth growing up in Buenos Aires, the cultural hub of Argentina, has been playing music for most of his life. At age 8 he began playing piano, at 11 he picked up guitar, and at 17 he started attending the Buenos Aires School of Music where he would go on to receive a Bachelor of Music in Performance, Specializing in Guitar.

Heavily and eclectically influenced by Argentine tango, Pat Metheny and John Williams, Raijman has a hugely varied background of experience and style that he applies to his work as both a guitarist and film composer.

After touring Argentina and Uruguay for four years up until 2009, Raijman began working with Rosario Barreto, producing Barreto’s debut album Imagem Imortal. It was the first of many such projects he would work on in the following years.

Raijman, who studied film and television orchestration at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and graduated from the UCLA Extension Film Scoring Program, got his first job in Los Angeles working on An Opening to Closure. Raijman composed the soundtrack for the film, on which he also played guitar. A romantic drama, the film follows two ex-lovers who find themselves revisiting their painful past after a dinner party with mutual friends.

“There is a love scene in which there is passion but at the same time, sadness and regret. I decided to match the groove of their breathing to an electric guitar rock solo, along with programmed synths,” he said. “I increased the distortion and the effects of the guitar, and the music grows in intensity until there is clearly a feeling of sadness and loneliness. Then, by keeping the groove and letting the guitar fade out, the motif is introduced with a piano solo.”

One of his most moving projects to date, 8 Seconds: Humane Decision Making in the IDF, required Raijman to compose three different styles of backing music to match the changing mood and subject of the film. An eye-opening documentary, the film tells the story, from multiple perspectives, of the ethical training of Israeli Defense Force soldiers fighting Hamas and other threats to national survival, and the life-or-death decisions they must make on a regular basis.

“Composing three completely different cues to match the different part of the film was challenging… One of the cues had to represent the military part of the story, so it had to be very intense and fast,” said Raijman, explaining in depth the intense planning and research involved in setting the mood for the film.

“The next cue had to correlate with Israel and the authentic sounds that come from the music of the country… [so] I used a lot of Middle Eastern percussion and woodwinds like Duduk, and composed the melody around the Phrygian major 3rd mode, which is always related to Jewish music. For the last cue, I had to compose music that matched the soldiers’ feelings. I accomplished this using a lot of strings accompanied by Middle Eastern percussion played at a slow rhythm. I truly loved working on this documentary.”

In addition to scoring, Raijman also played guitar for the film, which was an official selection at the 2015 USC School of Social Work Film Festival.

The musical genius also arranged the composition for director Zack Wu’s Violet, about a young man in a new town, love at first sight, and the idea that things can often be far from what they appear, especially to someone blinded by love.

“Composing wall-to-wall music for this film with only a few days to deliver was a bit of a challenge but a great experience for me,” Raijman said. “When you see the film, you can tell from the beginning that the music is telling the story and that something isn’t right between the couple.”

When a composer does his or her job well, the audience should be able to feel the movie through the score, so much so that even with their eyes closed, they can still hear the plot, the relationships between the characters, and the anxiety in the action. Raijman has shown himself to be a natural and a consummate professional with a talent for organically conveying the filmmakers’ emotional intent through his music. He is currently working on several upcoming projects, including a solo album featuring some of his stirring instrumental music.

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Spotlight on Child Star, Alexander Davis!

Alexander Davis
                                       Alexander Davis on set of the film “Niko”

While it takes many actors years to develop great range, at eight years old, child actor Alexander Davis has continued to demonstrate his extraordinary talent in a variety of genres through leading roles in theatre and film; and his career has continued to flourish as a result.

Alexander was born in Russia, and placed into the care of an orphanage as an infant. When he was 16 months old, he was adopted and moved to Canada to live with his parents and older brother, Richard.

It was Richard who inspired Alexander to pursue acting. “My brother is a professional actor, and I wanted to be just like him,” Alexander explains. “When I was three years old, I had a chance to be in a film with my brother… My parents could see I had a ‘gift’ for acting as well.”

The film he describes was In Lieu of Flowers. While this was Alexander’s first time appearing on film, it was far from his last. In this film, Alexander’s character was used as a plot device for the pregnant lead actress to ponder the life of her unborn child.

This experience excited Alexander, who began begging his parents to let him try acting, just like Richard. His parents agreed to allow him to start auditioning for roles when he turned five, and Alexander has been working non-stop ever since. He says, “I started working regularly that year… with people calling my mother, asking if they could use me in upcoming films.”

In the last three years, Alexander has excelled as both a dramatic and comedic actor on film through his roles as Thomas in A Long Way Home, Alex in Senior Drivers, Jacob in Volition and many others. He has even proven to have quite the proclivity for horror films, terrifying audiences through his portrayals of the title character in the film Niko and young Charlie in the film Neighbour.

As Niko, Alexander haunts the babysitter who murdered him and his mother, eventually driving her into an insane asylum, where he continues to torment her.

Besides acting in the film, Alexander recalls how he particularly enjoyed the special effects in the making of Niko, “It was so much fun to find out how horror films are made. I think the make-up artists in horror films have an awesome job… if I wasn’t an actor, I think it would be cool to do this.”

Alexander continued to send shivers down audience’s spines as Young Charlie in the film Neighbour. In this classic haunted house story, Charlie interrupts the lives of the new owners of his childhood home, who soon learn about the house’s sordid past.

Volition, which screened at the 2013 Grand River Film Festival, takes audiences to a more dramatic genre where Alexander’s character Jacob encounters a terrorist who plans to attack the train on which they ride. However, after meeting Jacob the man is overwhelmed with uncertainty over whether to continue with his plan. To find out if Jacob’s innocence is enough to detour the man away from committing this act of violence, you’ll just have to watch the film.

A more accurate representation of Alexander’s true personality emerges in Senior Drivers, where he played Alex, the grandson of an elderly couple who are late in taking him to his doctor appointment. Senior Drivers allowed Alexander to express his sense of humor, which was appreciated by critics and audiences alike, evidenced in his 2014 Young Artist Award nomination for his performance in the film.

Alexander learned the meaning of hard work in his role as Randy Parker in A Christmas Story, in which the cast staged 48 shows in six weeks. To commend his work, Alexander received the 2015 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in Live Theatre for his role in A Christmas Story.

Most recently, Alexander landed guest starring roles as the voice of Brownie and Checkers in the PBS television series Super Why!, which is scheduled to be released later this year. Confirming yet again another of his many talents, Alexander will also give audiences a chance to hear his singing voice in the series.

Alexander Davis has already soared to great heights in the entertainment industry; and with the upcoming release of Super Why!, and several more projects on the horizon, this little cutie will undoubtedly be touching the hearts of audiences everywhere for years to come.

“Laughing Wild” Theatre Review

Constantin Wenzel (left) and Samantha D'Alessio (right) on the flyer for "Laughing Wild"
Constantin Wenzel (left) and Samantha D’Alessio (right) on the flyer for “Laughing Wild”

 

Actors Constantin Wenzel and Samantha D’Alessio took the stage by storm last month in the production of Christopher Durang’s hilarious and relevant dark comedy “Laughing Wild” at the Let Live Theatre in Los Angeles.

The two-person show had an incredibly successful with four showings taking place in June as a part of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

“Laughing Wild” director Kymberly Harris says, “The play is absurd and experimental and wacky as all get out, so I think it’s a very fun piece to have in a one-hour high energy dose at the Fringe! We are honored to be part of such an iconic and free spirited theatre festival.”

Both Wenzel and D’Alessio give knock out performances that will leave you laughing, quite possibly to the point of tears. The characters that these two bring to life, no matter how extreme they are, offer up a mirror of the neurotic thought processes we have all experienced at one point or another.

Harris explains, “The message of the play is that we effect each other, and in ways that are deeper than even we are consciously aware of sometimes. It is easy to judge someone’s exterior or to “judge a book by its cover”, without stopping to think about why people behave and respond the way they do.”

From Constanin’s character who attempts to draw conclusions regarding why other people do the things they do, to Samantha’s character, who desperately wishes to find a connection with others but whose extreme emotion-driven actions lead her to be viewed as crazy, we see how two completely opposite people suffer from a similar ailment: a disconnect in their relationships with, and understanding of, other people.

The play opens with a 15 to 20 minute monologue given by Constantin whose character wishes to share how a personality workshop on positive thinking has transformed his life; but through a forced smile and starch-stiff posture his palpable anxiety concerning the unpredictable nature of life tells a very different story.

As he lists depressing events like Chernobyl, national mass murder, and other occurrences that he feels make it impossible to stay positive, he quickly becomes engulfed in trying to make sense of a traumatic experience that took place in the grocery store earlier that day when an impatient woman knocked him over the head with her fist in order to get to a can of tuna fish.

Constantin’s character repeatedly tries to establish a positive mindset and become a “glass half full” kind of guy through deep sweeping breaths and affirmations, however upon the utterance of one affirmation he falls prey to a Freudian slip proclaiming: “this glass is not half full, it’s half empty!”

Correcting his mistake apologetically he soon fades off stage with the breadth of his dilemma unresolved, and Samantha D’Alessio moves into the spotlight.

An emotionally unstable woman, Samantha’s character engulfs our attention in a tangent ridden recounting of the events of her day, which come to reveal her as the woman from the store.

While her perspective on the grocery store debacle fails to make hitting a man out of the blue in order to get to the tuna seem any less crazy, her monologue helps us to understand that her drastic responses are just a side effect of a lack of connection with others and a life lived perpetually misunderstood.

With each being a player in the other’s dream, the two characters reconvene on stage reenacting the scenario from the store in a multitude of ways in an attempt to reconcile how the chain of events could have unfolded differently.

“I think the play speaks to the importance of empathy in today’s world, and that is what my concept for the play is- to create troubled characters who reject each other and slowly discover through compassion and truth that they actually need each other to become fully self realized,” explains Harris.

In the end, we see through these two characters that regardless of how messed up their thought processes are or however hysterical their actions, they can each find peace within themselves by allowing the space for understanding towards the other.

“Sam and Constantin had to be completely different types and energies for the play to work, in this case, she is kind of wild and untamed, and he is seemingly anxiety ridden and conservative, so when they come together there’s a lot of room to travel from dissonance to understanding. They have both entered into the worlds of their characters deeply so they can take this journey every night on stage.”

In addition to starring in “Laughing Wild,” Constantin, who is originally from Germany, has starred in the theatrical productions of “Vieux Carre,” “Sweet Charity” and “Motherfucker with the Hat,” as well as the films Think Like a Shrink, Johnny, Brooklyn Bridge, Luke and Ellis, and Electric Pink.

Samantha, who is originally from Canada, is known for her roles in the films Chess Club, The Broadcast, Lights Out, Teenage Counseling, and Sick Twisted Legend, as well as the stage production of “Roger World.”

These two diversely talented actors gave captivating performances that are sure to be talked about for years to come.

Brazilian Event Producer Makes a Name for Himself in the U.S.

Today producer Sylvio Fagundes is known as the mastermind behind a long list of events. He’s not shy about his ambitions, admitting, “You have to take chances and risks in life if you want to make it to a place where you really want to be.”

A motto to live by that has clearly served him well, the Brazilian native has strategically used each and every one of the various roles that he’s taken on over the years in the event and media industries to build a dynamic foundation for his career as an event producer.

Fagundes began his journey as a journalist and photographer, covering events for the popular radio station Jovem Pan FM. Jovem Pan was something of a launch pad for him as it was there that he discovered his passion for music, but the call of event life was too great to ignore so when he was asked to go on tour with singer-songwriter Alex Band, best known for his work as lead singer of The Calling, Fagundes jumped on board.

The nine-city tour across Brazil was an unforgettable experience, and only further solidified Fagundes’s fascination with producing large-scale musical events.

“It motivated me to pursue a career as an event producer in the music industry”, he recalls.

After the tour, Fagundes was hired by Yahoo! as a staff photographer where he had the opportunity to photograph an extensive list of high profile concerts including Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Krall, Chris Brown, The Prodigy and Moby.

As his reputation as a sought after photographer in the industry grew, Fagundes continually found himself in the right place at the right time, allowing him to develop connections with prominent figures in the live event and public relations industries. Thanks to these connections, as well as his background in communications, media and journalism helped him build a strong foundation as an event producer, and in relatively no time at all Fagundes was working on monumental events like the 2011 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and commemorated the event’s 60th anniversary.

Since then Sylvio Fagundes has also amassed an astonishing collection of producing credits for music festivals including Brazil’s first Lollapalooza edition, the 2012 Sao Paulo Live Music Rocks Festival featuring Maroon 5 and Keane, and the 2012 Pop Music Festival featuring Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Lopez. He even had the opportunity to work on the production of rock and roll legend Sir Paul McCartney’s 2010 Up and Coming World tour.

After producing some of the largest and most notable events in Brazil, Fagundes moved to the U.S. to further his education in the music business at UCLA; but naturally, his proven track record of success caught the attention of those in the event industry in LA, which led him to assist in securing the talent the 2013 Los Angeles American Trend Vision Awards on behalf of leading cosmetics company Wella. The event, which featured music icon Blondie, was a rather synchronic development for the young event producer who by that time had barely been in the U.S. for a year.

A diehard concert lover even when he’s not at work, the first show he attended stateside as an audience member was Blondie.

“It felt like a full circle. I would have never imagined that the first concert I would help assist in the USA would also feature this artist,” admitted Fagundes.

In addition to music-based events, Fagundes’s skillset as an event producer has come to include producing film festivals and award shows like the 2013 Hollywood Brazilian Film Fest in Los Angeles and the Sao Paulo International Film Festival. But his list of production credits does not end there; in fact, it doesn’t seem like they end at all.

In addition to concerts, massive music festivals, film festivals and award shows Sylvio Fagundes has also produced street fairs, motorcycle rides and parades.

Fagundes currently works for Nuell Entertainment, where some of his recent production accomplishments include securing music from The Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, and The Wallflowers for GEICO national television campaigns as well as a nationwide celebrity image licensing campaign with Sebastian Professional and pop superstar Kesha to serve as the face of the “Rock Your Shaper” advertising campaign.

With his expertise in photography, journalism and public relations all blending together to give him an edge that sets him apart from other event producers, Fagundes’s diverse resume demonstrates that when a person is passionate about their work there is literally nothing they can’t accomplish.

(Pictured from left to right at MILK Studios : Sebastien Professional Prestige Brand Manager Becky Godlove (Sebastian/Wella/Nioxin Brands), Sebastian Professional Brand Manager Bailey Dyer, Education Director for Sebastian Professional Christina McCarver, singer-songwriter Kesha, P&G Salon Professional Education Director Carole Protat, Nuell Entertainment VP Global Partnerships Fred Sherman, Nuell Entertainment President Gary Nuell, Sylvio Fagundes.
(Pictured from left to right at MILK Studios : Sebastien Professional Prestige Brand Manager Becky Godlove (Sebastian/Wella/Nioxin Brands), Sebastian Professional Brand Manager Bailey Dyer, Education Director for Sebastian Professional Christina McCarver, singer-songwriter Kesha, P&G Salon Professional Education Director Carole Protat, Nuell Entertainment VP Global Partnerships Fred Sherman, Nuell Entertainment President Gary Nuell, Sylvio Fagundes.