Spanish Photographer and Videographer Captures Wedding Memories that last a Lifetime

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Wedding photography from Padilla-Rigau is brought to breathtaking life by Cristina Tomas Rovira.


Cristina Tomás Rovira knows she’s done her job when goosebumps are part of the end result. She is a photographer and videographer who specializes in photographing and filming wedding videos for Padilla-Rigau, a celebrated photography company headquartered in Barcelona.

“You are witnessing a very special day and you need to make your clients feel like Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant,” said Rovira, an outstanding photographer who is also recognized for her work in music and fashion. “I always want them to have chills while watching the video. If the couple says they’ve got goosebumps while watching it and they love it, that’s all that matters and I feel proud and happy.”

Rovira oversees all of Padilla-Rigau’s filmmaking and has served in the role since 2010, when the company was formed by Bernat Padilla and Anna Rigau.

“This is the 6th year that we’ve been shooting weddings,” Rigau said. “We’ve evolved and we’ve created the Padilla-Rigau style. Lately, a lot of the couples that hire us tell us that they knew that they would hire us before they were even engaged. That is amazing — they love how our videos and our photos connect. Cristina’s work connects with the people, and given we work with emotions here, she knows how to make people happy.”

Padilla-Rigau’s videos range from three and half to four and a half minutes long and highlight all the intimate happenings at weddings, from the preparation moments just before the ceremony all the way to the bride and groom’s exit following the reception.

It’s a day-long shooting process that captures memories made for life.

Rovira, who has also collaborated with famed music photographer Joseph Llanes (Rolling Stone, Billboard, Spin and many more), said, “By the end of the day, all the guests and the couple are so used to us being there that they give us the best reactions. We are like four more friends who brought a camera and are capturing everything nonstop.”

The videos unfold as short romantic films shot in HD and set to music. They evolve from season to season and are altogether emotion-stirring, beautifully crafted, stylized and artistic.

The required ability of a photographer and videographer in the case of weddings extends beyond technical camera aptitude. There’s a need to develop rapport, to blend into the environment naturally and to shoot with delicate sensitivity. Rovira’s talent resonates deeply in this regard and lends itself to exceptional photography and filmmaking.

“I like people, I like emotions and I like to capture those emotions,” she said. “I treat every wedding as it was my own or one of my friends or family members, and I think to myself what I would want to see as a bride, as a friend and as a family member. After so many years shooting weddings, you kind of film instinctively.”

Rigau notices the same sentiment featured in Rovira’s work and said, “She’s been doing this for a long time now and she is great with emotion and her way to capture those emotions is beautiful. I think she sees weddings through her lenses, thinking she is filming a romance comedy movie. And it’s amazing. The other day, we were talking about how the four of us can sense when is going to be a high five, or a kiss, or a hug before it happens. She knows that she is filming one of the most important days of someone’s lives, and she treats that day the same way the bride and groom do.”

It’s a team-oriented approach that’s propelled Padilla-Rigau to the pinnacle of wedding photography.

“What makes Padilla-Rigau special and step out from the rest is that we are a team of two photographers and two videographers,” said Rovira, adding that Ferran Clotet rounds out the team. “We work together and synchronize. Like playing any kind of sport, sometimes you throw the ball without looking — you know your team is going to catch it because you’ve know each other really well. That’s our thing.”

The strategy and collaboration has certainly been working. While wedding season traditionally ran from mid April to September, Rovira noted how the schedule has expanded to a nearly year-round basis. Padilla-Rigau has booked more than 65 weddings in the last two seasons, Rovira said.

With a bevy wedding photographers shoring up the industry, Padilla-Rigau has risen to such outstanding heights in large part due to its dynamic video productions spearheaded by Rovira. It was a creative decision to trim down and succinctly portray the essence of weddings in a way that would bode well for sharing on social media.

“We were one of the first companies in Barcelona to do these highlight reel videos,” Rovira said. “When we started, Facebook was only like four years old and in Spain it got really popular around 2007. We decided to focus on that. People wanted to share their life and fast. So we wanted to step out of the old fashioned wedding videos that lasted forever and that families were forced to watch.”

An important component inserted in the videos during editing and post-production is the accompanying music selections that help set the tone and ambiance. A few clients may request specific songs, but most entrust Padilla-Rigau for musical selections.

“I think they like to be surprised by it and I love music, so finding the perfect song for the perfect moment is what makes me love my job even more,” said Rovira.

And the most rewarding part?

“It feels awesome to hear back from the couples who tell me that they felt all kinds of feelings watching the video and they felt like they were living again that day. I’ve cried reading most of their emails or feedback,” said Rovira. “When you hear from them and what they say is good, you feel such relief and happiness. As in any other job or in your personal life, you feel over the moon when you make someone else happy.”

Padilla-Rigau also shoots for events and fashion. In these areas, Rovira has photographed for a Friday’s Project branded campaign, for Shana Shops and for the Oysho free yoga Barcelona, Barcelona Night Out, Hard Rock Cafe Barcelona and luxury hotel events, among others.

“In fashion, we’ve noticed that our clients love Cristina’s work because she listens to them,” Rigau said. “She makes their ideas and thoughts real. She puts the same effort as she does at weddings to show emotions, even in fashion. She wants to make the people feel something while watching the video. She is fast, and a lot of times, she makes a great video when at first hand it could seem impossible.”

For more on Padilla-Rigau, visit:

Watch their wedding videos on Vimeo:

For the latest and greatest from Cristina Tomás Rovira, visit:


Kate Mahon’s Work Connects With Millions of ‘Real’ Women

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Kate Mahon’s work Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign lead to international success.

It can be easy to forget, when admiring something, who is involved. When reading a book, you are consumed in the story and not who published it. When watching a movie, you are wondering what happens next and not who was behind the camera. When looking at an advertisement, you connect with your need for the product and not who was in charge of the campaign behind it.

Kate Mahon, an advertising art buyer, knows this well. Mahon has had a successful career with many achievements, and millions of people have been impacted by her work, but not many know it.

Mahon worked on one of the most successful advertising campaigns of the decade. The Dove campaign for Real Beauty aimed to celebrate the natural beauty of women and inspire them to be a confident about who they are. Many young women’s lives were changed and tens of millions were impacted by the emotional and enlightening adverts. Videos from the campaign went viral, some receiving over 60 million hits on YouTube. It was named by AdAge, the leading global source of marketing and advertising communities, as one of the three “Ad Campaigns of the Century”.

“I wish I could say that I predicted the massive reaction the work would get, but in truth I imagined a couple of strong campaigns would be created and then the client and agency would return to producing more conventional work,” said Mahon. “Yet twelve years after its launch the Real Beauty campaign is still producing work that opens up yet more discussions about what is considered beautiful and the constraints placed both by society and women themselves.”

Mahon worked as a lead creative producer and art buyer for the campaign, essential to both its commercial and social success. She was in charge of all photography, design, print production, as well as commissioning the casting agents who had to find the women that would represent “Real Women” and resonate with so many people.

“Being part of this campaign makes me extremely proud. Advertising in general is often accused of being morally bankrupt. It is edifying to be part of work that truly opens up serious debate. I look at the ads now and they still look groundbreaking,” she said. “Campaigns such as ‘Real Beauty’ only come around once every few years or even decades, so when it does become apparent that they have broken the boundaries between commerce and social dialogue they take on a life of their own. Whether people like or loathe the work, they begin a discussion that is worth having, about conventional rules of beauty and women’s self-image in general.”

“The initial function of advertising is simple: to sell and raise the profile of a client’s product,” she continued. “If it then extends beyond that into serious social commentary then it is a rare thing which takes it beyond the norm.”

Mahon was essential to Dove’s Real Beauty success. Many of those she worked with remark at her ability to network and her creativity.

“She proved herself to be a valuable asset to the overall project and to the agency in general,” said Susan Pratchett, the Account Director of the Dove Campaign. “Kate’s lead creative role was responsible for much of the project as it created the public image for our campaign.”

Mahon was also in charge of recruiting A-List photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, David Bailey and Rankin for the campaign.

For Mahon, it’s the collaboration that she loves.

“In the fine art world it is all a very personal and solitary process but in advertising every part of the creation of a campaign is a collaboration between the clients brief, the creatives idea and the photographer or directors vision of bringing the idea to life,” she said. “My job means I get to work with a huge range of image makers from all genres and I have to work with an equally diverse range of budgets. Complacency is not possible with the ever changing industry. During my career I have seen a seismic shift in my role and over the advertising industry as a whole which is incredibly exciting.”

Mahon says she never expected the reaction the campaign received.

“The agency and client knew the strategy was a break from the conventional notions of a beauty campaign, but I don’t think anyone expected the massive reaction we received from the outset,” she said. “It is not often that one gets to work on an advertising campaign that ends up being covered in national and then global media. Once the first couple of posters and print advertisements were launched to such universally positive reviews it allowed the creatives even more freedom to push the boundaries of the clichéd notions of beauty.”

Mahon’s work proves that a simple ad can be more than just a small sales technique. Her work shows that she can change lives.

Nathaniel James — From The Weeknd to Full Time!

The music industry is an ever­changing force, with new artists popping up and powerful legends lost, all the while a tempo being kept by those masterminds behind the scenes. Nathaniel James is one of the prominent tempo­keepers of modern music, and his deep and soulful relationship to music is as dynamic as the industry itself.

At the ripe age of 3, James’ father put him at the piano keys, not much later seeing this young prodigy playing “On the Hill Far Away” at the local church. Like most brilliant minds, an obstacle got in the way — and for Nathaniel James the hurdles were the struggles of adolescence. James’ passion for music never left, and was powerfully reignited when he was 16 years old and a friend invited him to play at a church. It was back at the church that James’ passion was sparked, and stayed aflame.

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Nathaniel James, who has toured and performed with renowned superstars such as The Weeknd, began playing music when he was just 3 years old. 

“It’s what I am,” says Nathaniel James, who has since worked with notable artists including touring as the keyboardist for The Weeknd, and playing alongside powerhouses like Kaya Stewart & YouTube sensation Leroy Sanchez. James acts as the co­arranger and musical director for many of the artists he works alongside, bringing a vast knowledge of both traditional and contemporary musical styles to the table, which allows him to share a rare versatility. James prides himself on fostering a warm and comfortable working environment where the collaborators are able to flow and organically create together.

The Weeknd’s acclaimed drummer, Ricky Lewis, raves about the young and hungry talent. “I initially met Nate on a gig we did together when we were much younger and then reconnected in our twenties through some mutual musician friends. The next time we would get the chance to play together was for The Weeknd’s European and American tour in 2012. He had just over a week to learn the set with our arrangements, different transitions and recreate all the patches before our headlining show for the Primavera Festival in Barcelona, and he killed it.”


Of music, Nathaniel James says it best: “It’s what I am.”

As a pianist, composer, keyboardist, and bassist, Nathaniel James has managed to travel throughout his native country of Canada, and throughout the United States, France, Germany, Barcelona, England, and Amsterdam. As a freelancer, he is not tied down to any single artist, and is constantly excited about fostering new relationships. So much so that he’s recently launched his very own hosted show entitled “Living Room Session,” where he facilitates filmed sessions with artists performing cover songs. This YouTube series is proof of James’ proactive nature. The young and passionate musician saw a need for a platform allowing artists to put a face to their music, and for the audience to meet their favorite singer/band through a low­key performance and video segment.

“One of the greatest guys I know, even outside of being an amazing musician,” raves Ledaris Jones (The Weeknd’s keyboardist/bassist). “Something to for sure appreciate! You can count on him showing up knowing the material and carrying himself in a respectable manner. He’s also a good hang, which is super important when you’re spending months at a time with the same people on the road.”

James recently started his own production company, providing music for all facets of music, from in­studio recordings to live performances. And some upcoming gigs including playing alongside artist Snoh Aalegra, as well as performing in Maui, Big Bear, and New York, among many other locations abroad, alongside a some high profile production companies.

Nathaniel James (right) performed at Lollalapooza with Grammy Award winning artist, The Weeknd (center), whose 2015 hit, “Can’t Feel my Face,” peaked at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Canadian Hot 100 charts.

Nathaniel James carries a heart filled with desire, and an extensive catalogue of compositions — including commercial music from jingles, to film cues, to radio theme arrangements. As for the future, James is beyond excited to grow his YouTube series and continue fostering relationships with top artists worldwide. He aspires to great heights — writing hit songs with superstars, and one day planning to open his own music institution whereby he can equip musicians with degrees and diplomas — the tools he feels are necessary for working musicians to attain. “Sometimes you have to sacrifice going on a tour to pursue education. I want to help students study music a s they play, and gear the institution towards working musicians, giving them education as a backup, as a supplement. This will ultimately allow musicians to continue working past just touring or working gig to gig.”

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Mastery on keys and piano are chief among the sensational talents of musician Nathaniel James.

“When you watch Nate play you can see how much he truly loves music. His discipline and respect for his craft not only make him easy to work with, they make him reliable as well,” Ricky Lewis adds warmly.

Nathaniel James is a young and multi­talented musician with a solid resume, but an even sturdier purpose. With his heart in the right place, it is only a matter of time before all of James’ dreams come true.

For more information and to check out the music of Nathaniel James, visit:­jv5ruR9Tl6Z1vVSEA

Shayar Bhansali’s Editing on “Against Night” Earns International Recognition

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“Against Night” team from left to right: editor Shayar Bhansali, Elena Caruso (actor), Stefan Kubicki (writer/director), Saba Zerehi (producer), Konstantin Lavysh (actor) and Lucas Lechowski (composer) at AFI Fest in Los Angeles


Getting his start as an editor in the world of narrative film with none other than the iconic India based production company, Yash Raj Films International, Shayar Bhansali seemed destined for greatness even at the very the beginning of his career. And, the international success he’s received over the last few years through his work on multi-award winning films including “Wild & Precious” and “Kicks” make it undeniably clear that he’s already made it to the top.

One of Bhansali’s recent projects as lead editor, and one that proves why he is such a sought after talent in the film industry, is “Against Night” from writer/director Stefan Kubicki.

Set in the 1960s, “Against Night” starring Konstantin Lavysh (“Five Days of War,” “Karaganda,” “Juke Box Hero”) as Vitali, multi-award winning actress Elena Caruso (“Paper,” “Cloverfield”) as Marina, and Eve Korchkov  (“Joseph,” “A Night at Christmas”) as Lenka, follows Vitali, a cosmonaut who crash lands in a seemingly desolate stretch of snow-covered land in Mongolia.

Climbing out of the small capsule, Vitali stumbles his way through the ostensibly endless miles of snow and nothingness in the midst of a blizzard until he finds himself at the door of a lamp lit yurt in the middle of nowhere. The home of a reticent and shaman-like man, once Vitali steps into the yurt, the real emotional drama and the film’s underlying story begins to reveal itself. As he drifts into a deep and feverish dream-state, Vitali’s present world intermixes, through a series of flashbacks that serve as a major source of plot development, with painful memories of the daughter and wife he lost in a tragic accident years prior.

“[The film] explores the relationship we have with time and memory,” explains Bhansali. “Part of the challenge with the project was to find a good handle on tone, and to be able to maintain the style and rhythm achieved by production through the edit.”

The numerous awards Bhansali earned from festivals across continents prove that he nailed the task with his work taking home the Festival Prize for Best Editing at India’s 2015 Kolkata International Film Festival and the LAIFF June Award for Best Editing from the 2015 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards.

Immediately drawing viewers in with a heart-pumping scene of Vitali and his co-pilot struggling to remain calm as their capsule malfunctions and begins to crash, Bhansali’s precise edits created a beautiful and dynamic rhythm for the unfolding story throughout the entirety of the film. Through his edits Bhansali provides the necessary pauses to allow viewers to really understand and feel the pain of Vitali’s loss when the emotional aspects of the dram are at their height.

While “Against Night” was shot with Russian dialogue, Bhansali admits that there were many similarities in his approach to editing regardless of the language. “I’ve worked with other languages before and the interesting thing for me is how similar the process is – I still spend a lot of time watching dailies and making decisions about performance, thinking about structure and the emotional rhythm of the piece and putting together a first cut within the time frame that’s expected for a project like this. The thing that’s a little different is how the director and I end up spending our time – initially a lot more of it was spent looking at dialogue delivery and sculpting performance.”

A film that has had an incredible impact on audiences, “Against Night” actors Konstantin Lavysh and Eve Korchkov earned the Best Actor and Best Actress Awards at the Long Island International Film Expo for their performances in the film. Aside from the awards Bhansali and the two lead actors earned for their work on the film, “Against Night” also won the Cinematic Achievement Award from THESS International Short Film Festival, the National Jury Award from the USA Film Festival, the Maverick Award and the Jury Prize from the Woodstock Film Festival, the Best Narrative Award from the Ojai Film Festival and several others.

You check out the trailer for the multi-award winning film “Against Night” edited by Shayar Bhansali below:

Some of Shayar Bhansali’s other work includes Mattson Tomlin’s drama “Persuasion,” Sahirr Sethhi’s “Zoya,” Shuming He’s comedy “La Bella” and the drama “Loveland.”

About the powerful force Bhansali brings to the table as an editor, “Persuasion” director Mattson Tomlin (whose film “Rene” Bhansali is currently editing) explains, “The work of the director, cinematographer, and the actors very often falls on the editor’s shoulders. A great editor is able to champion the best of the best performances and manipulate even those at their worst into something emotional and resonating. In the case of Mr. Bhansali, I have seen him time and time again act as both a problem solver and a treasure hunter, often finding the key moments to make a scene work in the most unintended places.”

Over the years Bhansali has proven his ability to tackle some of the most challenging stories and translate them into seamless visual productions through his precision as an editor. While he earned his master’s in film editing from AFI, he initially began his collegiate career many years ago studying psychology, something that has proven to be incredibly useful in his work as an editor because it allows him to understand the mindsets and emotions of the characters in the stories he creates with his edits.

“As filmmakers, I believe we are constantly working with the medium to guide the way our viewers feel – and to do this successfully one has to have to be sensitive to the way we think. I’m not sure I realized this at the time but my interest in psychology and the way our minds work definitely helped me shape emotions and characters,” explains Bhansali.

“Whether it’s a fictionalized post apocalyptic world with a robot as it’s protagonist or a based-on-reality story about a soldier fighting in WWII – the thing that makes these movies resonate with me is the humanity within the story and characters.”

Sitcom Writer Nadiya Chettiar Offers Advice to Those Starting Out

Connecting with people on an emotional level is tricky. Creating something that truly terrifies someone, or makes them overwhelmed with sadness enough to shed a tear is not easy. Being capable of writing something that truly speaks to someone is a gift. That being said, there is one reaction that many writers strive for and fail to achieve, and being able to generate it takes not just skill, but talent a writer must be born with. That reaction is laughter.

Canadian sitcom writer Nadiya Chettiar knows this too well. After having overwhelming success writing for Package Deal, Netflix’s Some Assembly Required where she was nominated for a Leo Award, and the upcoming show Workin’ Moms, Chettiar is becoming a seasoned professional.

After achieving so much in her career so far, she can now offer advice to those looking to follow a similar path.

“The biggest challenge is that trying to make people laugh involves putting yourself out there,” said Chettiar. “You’re showing people what you think is funny, what you think period, and that’s revealing something about who you are. Even a dog in a lobster costume has to reveal that he had that lobster costume in his closet already. It’s scary.”

“I think when you and other people laugh at the same thing together, it’s a bonding experience. You’re also bonding with the person/thing/dog in a lobster costume that made you laugh. So that’s really rewarding. It’s tapping into something that is universal,” she continued.

Sitcom, short for “situational comedy,” is all about working around relationships and experiences of the characters that the audience slowly becomes more and more familiar with as each episode progresses. It is different than writing stand-up comedy, where the joke is the punchline. Often, the punchline in a sitcom is entirely dependent on the characters the writers have created.

“I think when you’re writing for characters the only real rule that applies is the comedy has to be true to the characters,” described Chettiar. “The moment you have a character saying or doing something that they wouldn’t normal do, the illusion is broken. It’s game over.” 

“Personally, I think writing is really tight when the character has to say the funny thing they are saying or do the funny thing they are doing because there is simply no other way for that character to react in that situation,” she explained. “Also, I love it when comedy is grounded in reality. The closer to real life, but maybe tweaked in a way that only that specific character would react, the better.”

However, there are obstacles in the way for those who strive to make others laugh. Everyone knows the feeling of telling a bad joke. The moment where you say something with a bit of a chuckle, and the room falls silent. Slowly, you have to pretend you didn’t think the joke would be that funny, and crawl into a small corner of the room to hide the embarrassment. For sitcom writers, there are a lot more people to hear the joke than a couple of your close friends. The key to success as a comedy writer, according to Chettiar, is perseverance. 

“I write bad jokes all the time,” she said. “When a joke is one where I find myself doing a lot of explaining about why it was funny afterward… That’s never a good sign.”

“If you’re in a writing room and no one laughs at a joke you pitch, it feels bad, but at the same time, the writers’ room is a place for experimentation, and pitching bad jokes is unfortunately a part of the process of pitching good jokes,” she explained. “If you’re on stage and you don’t get a laugh, it just sucks. But the same rule applies. You have to keep going because if you don’t, you’ll never make anyone laugh. But I will say that the best jokes are ones that I think are funny, as well as other people. When we agree on something being funny, that’s a good joke. Write, fail, write, get better. It’s a process.” 

Chettiar also recommends enrolling in writing courses to gain experience for new writers.

“Not only will you get the benefit of someone skilled looking at and assessing your work, you get the beyond important bonus of deadlines,” she said. “Deadlines, especially when they are imposed by someone other than yourself, can be enormously helpful.”

Television writers also have to deal with a fact that many jokesters are exempt from. They are not the ones telling their joke. 

“Actors bring so much to your work,” said Chettiar. “We’re really lucky as scriptwriters in that way. Especially in the hands of a funny actor.  I’ve written lines that weren’t even jokes, but in the hands of the right actor, end up being the funniest moment in a scene. That is always so fun to see.”

Chettiar always knew what her path should be. For those just starting out and starting to feel discouraged, remember what brought you there in the first place.

“I love to laugh. I love funny people,” she said. “I guess it comes out of growing up with three siblings. Four kids under one roof meant there were often fights and squabbles going on between us. But it seemed that whoever could make the others laugh was always the top dog. And if you “got” the joke, you were in. I guess there’s a sense of belonging tied into sharing a laugh with people. I guess for me, comedy was like a commodity when I was growing up. We really valued a good joke.”

After all, there is no greater feeling than making people laugh.

“It may be the purest form of joy I know,” Chettiar concluded.


The next time you are feeling like the ultimate multitasker, consider actress Hunter Phoenix who uses her vocation as therapy. Okay, that’s an oversimplification. When the director of the London based production of Streetcar Named Desire cast her in the role of Blanche “Because it’s going to be fascinating to watch you fall apart (emotionally)”; that would likely seem intimidating to most of us. It was to Hunter, until she realized this was a chance to lead out a very different life without repercussions. The actress decided to embrace the unknown, resulting in two decades of a highly successful career in Canada and Europe. Seeking new experiences for growth has now led her to Hollywood and the ever changing possibilities of acting. The long list of Canadian actors contributing to American Television and Film such as; Raymond Burr, Dan Aykroyd, Pamela Anderson, Rachel McAdams, Mike Myers, Ryan Reynolds, Ellen Page…and honestly, too many to mention here, continues to grow. Hunter Phoenix is following the path of her fellow countrymen by investing in Hollywood’s possibilities. She is no stranger to the international film industry (taking part in films recognized at the Oldenburg Film Festival, Toronto Black Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival, plus many others) and Los Angeles is astute in recognizing her luminous qualities. Following years of establishing herself in the Canadian and European markets as a talented and charismatic actress, Ms. Phoenix has increasingly appeared in many different formats here in the United States. Modern actors cross many varied platforms including; film, television, theater, even web-based, Hunter has immersed herself into all of these. In 2016 you can find Hollywood’s A-list at your local theater, on a cable series, or in original content for websites such as Funny or Die.

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Producer (and actress) Maria Rohm has worked with everyone from Orson Welles to Christoph Waltz. She knows how to recognize talent as well as marketability. Maria has worked with Ms. Phoenix on multiple films and notes, “Hunter is very unique as an actress. She has the ability to convey vulnerability and handle the most dramatic scenes but also has great comedic timing. You rarely see that in a woman of such poise, beauty and grace. She raises the bar of any project she becomes involved in.”

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For the film High Adventure (distributed in Canada by Universal Studios Home Video), Hunter played the role of Ingrid, Chris Quartermain’s ex-girlfriend.  Phoenix’s performance added greatly to the depth of the film according to its director Mark Roper who relates, “What these two characters create on-screen and accomplish in this movie is transcendent, and greatly responsible for the movie’s overwhelming commercial success. This was largely due to Hunter’s commitment to her performance in this role.” It is readily apparent in the film that Phoenix enjoys the subtle nuances and mannerisms of her performance. No doubt her costars appreciate the fact that she helps the audience to see the main character through her eyes, allowing them to become more real, flawed, and interesting. Hunter considers this to be one of her finest achievements as an actress, to aid the audience in seeing deeper into the characters.

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  Pact with the Devil is a modern adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and would seem an appropriate analogy for the lifestyle and challenges of the entertainment industry. The film’s cast includes Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, The Artist), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglorious Bastards, Spectre) and, as Isabella…Hunter Phoenix. Producer David Goldstein describes Hunter in the film as “commanding the screen” and “fascinating to watch!” Phoenix’s physical beauty is natural as a character that has an affair with the handsome Dorian Gray; what comes as a complete surprise is her comedic timing. Her performance gives unexpected moments of humor and levity to a dark story being played out by actors with potent gravitas. “I have written roles for Hunter on several movies and she makes the characters tangible and temporarily suspends all disbelief. When watching Hunter, you forget that she is an actress playing the part; she just IS that person.” remarks writer Peter Jobin.

In a more family themed role, Hunter will appear as Sabrina Baroque in The Bandit Hound II (she is also credited in The Bandit Hound I). This family tale centers on an unwitting dog’s involvement in an armed robbery and his road to redemption through the love of his adoptive family. In addition to Phoenix, the cast includes household names like; Catherine Bell (JAG), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), and Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club). The Bandit Hound and The Bandit Hound II’s director Michelle Danner praises Hunter remarking, “I was inspired by this new actress and immediately made the decision to cast Hunter in the sequel ‘Bandit Hound II.’ The chemistry between Hunter and two of our leads was magnetic, a crucial element to achieving the heartwarming finale we’re hoping for.” In the sequel, the bank robbers are locked up but Sabrina is their “man on the outside.” Sabrina is the typical pretty face who aligns herself with the bad boys but she has a secret…one that will require viewing of the movie to reveal…no spoilers here. With the movie set to begin filming in 2016, fans of the film will have to wait a while to discover the plot twists. In the meantime, to get their portion of Hunter, they’ll have to do no more than turn on their computers. Just as cable grew into the creative and ratings juggernaut it is, the web is a new avenue for many a creative series.

Beyond Approval 1

For someone like Hunter Phoenix who has tested herself in live theater, television, and films, seeing what online entertainment can do is a natural exploration. She is cast as Vanessa in Uncensored Hollywood, a series about aspiring actors in Hollywood and the culture of sex, drugs, alcohol, and lies. The subject matter could lend itself to drama but the tone is definitely one of comedy.  With episodic titles like; “Arnold Schwarzenegger and Godot”, “The King’s Speech – Made in Hollywood”, “Game of Thrones – The amateurs”, and “SNL Tennessee Williams” it is easy to see that the series pokes fun at the self important side of Hollywood as well as pop-culture.  Phoenix describes her character Vanessa as a former child actor/now talent agent, full of grit and toughness, while still being humorous and fragile (due to her ex-husband). The role is a perfect place for the actress to show an intense yet comedic facet of her inner self. That seems understandable for someone whose achievements range from Tennessee Williams to Second City improv. Hunter embraces Uncensored Hollywood and her character stating, “What makes the show both poignant and funny is that it contains that kernel of truth. It’s not me but I draw on my own experiences to breathe emotional vibrance into Vanessa’s world.”  This acting therapy that Hunter uses allows her to be people that she isn’t, while doing things she’d probably never be comfortable doing, and somehow results in her being a more actualized self. Maria Rohm of (Tower of London Films) describes Phoenix stating, “Hunter is also one of the kindest and most caring people I have ever met. She worked with street youth, mentoring them for a number of years during her time in Toronto through Covenant House, and she gives generously to animal welfare charities.” Hunter’s personal form of acting therapy results in great work that is appreciated by the industry, as well as therapeutic side effects for herself and those around her.

International Sound Designer Xiao Hou is the King of Foley

Xiao Hou recounts mimicking 1930s actions to recreate perfect sound


Sound designer Xiao Hou brought his world-class talent to “Until the Dust Settles,” an award-winning short film from director Alex Gangi.


Xiao Hou is an international sound designer with a passion for the craft burning so bright it pushed him to move his entire world from China to Savannah, Ga. in pursuit of his Masters Degree in Sound Engineering. However, Hou’s devotion to sound had its root far earlier than his post-undergraduate days.

“I’ve always been a big fan of music,” he said. “I love recording and mixing it, and really got a chance to explore live sound while in college for several years as an undergrad in China. So one day I told my parents that I wanted to dedicate myself to sound, to audio, to anything related to sound. Luckily, my parents supported me. To study abroad is a lot of energy, time and money, but my family was fully on board.”

The investment and dedication would pay off. Hou got a call in Jan. 2013 to work as sound designer on the short drama film, “Until the Dust Settles.” The story follows a father and his two sons who reconnect while traveling through the American Dust Bowl in 1932.

The call to Hou came after various colleagues sang Hou’s praises to the sound supervisor — Mike Patterson (“Battlefield Hardline” and “The Walking Dead: Michonne”) — who is a fellow Savannah College of Art & Design alum.

Patterson raves about Hou. “As the leading sound designer of the film, Xiao absolutely excelled in his duties of recording custom sound effects to reach a more realistic aesthetic for the film. He recorded these sound effects in an environment similar to the location of our main characters in the early 1930s to achieve a more realistic vision for the film as a whole,” said  Patterson. “While an uninspired sound designer could have easily pulled catalogued noises from sound libraries, Xiao took it upon himself to go the extra mile.”

Hou recalls director Alex Gangi’s high standards for the film’s quality and sound. But it wasn’t Gangi that pushed Hou to supersede expectations — Hou’s hard work is innate and is one of the reasons he’s amassed many outstanding achievements in film. His brilliant sound can also be heard in titles such as Lionsgate’s “Compadres,” in commercials for Paris Hilton and the LA Clippers and in other acclaimed short films such as “Once” and “God Save the Queen.”

“It was very challenging,” Hou said of “Until the Dust Settles.” “The director wanted to have really great sound, so I sifted carefully through the sound library, but for some actions I couldn’t find the exact sound I wanted, so I ended up recording the sound in my kitchen, and bathroom.”

Hou carefully explains the delicate and intriguing process of “foley,” whereby sound designers mimic on-screen actions to recreate precise sounds. Hou adds that since the film was set in the 1930s, he had to be very careful and precise while re-enacting. “I had to custom record by myself and cut those sounds into the film,” he said. “In the end, it turned out pretty great.”

Great is an understatement. “Until the Dust Settles” went on to win a handful of awards and festival selections: winner of the Savannah Film Commission Award at the 2013 Savannah Film Festival, winner of Best Student Short at the 2013 California International Shorts Fest, a nomination for Best Student Short at the 2013 We Like ‘Em Short Film Festival, 2013 official selections at the LA Shorts, Cincinnati Film Festival, Orlando Film Festival, Big Bear Lake Film Festival and Bald Shorts Film Festival, and 2014 official selections to the Macon Film Festival and Speechless Film Festival.

“I’m very happy to be the behind the scenes person. I have always been obsessed with sound. I call myself an audiophile,” said Hou.

His passion for the field oozes out of his pores, as he subscribes to magazines, reads articles and continues to keep his skills fresh and sharp. “The most important learning process is working on projects,” Hou said. “The ultimate dream would be to continue working on exciting projects and traveling to work with other countries. I’m an international person and so my goals aren’t limited to just the United States, but all over the world, working with different people.”