Writer Emiliano Forino Procacci’s book is Golden Book Awards 2016 Winner

Emiliano 1Many people think that all of their problems can be solved by a high-profile, well-paying job. In today’s world, it is easy to be concerned with what will make us the most money, rather than what will make us truly happy. What many fail to realize is that success does not equate to your financial status, but your emotional status. Happiness is in fact success.

Emiliano Forino Procacci is an Italian writer and psychologist, and he knows this better than most. Procacci had a high-paying job, a good employment contract, and as he describes it, a “linear life”, but decided it was not the right path for him.

His leap of faith has worked out for him, as Procacci has written and published a list of successful books, which include: Secrets of Motivations and Personal Growth, Organizational Evolution and Development of Human Resources, Follow Your Own Star and Fulfill Yourself in Change, and The Freedom of Words. His book Communicating With Success: The Secrets of Persuasion is the Golden Book Awards 2016 Winner, and a finalist at the International Book Awards 2016.

“Writing is a communicative mode. I would like to help all people to be more serene,” he said. “In my books there is also the story of my life, of my travels around the world and how I tried to help the people that I met on my path.”

The biggest satisfaction for Procacci has been readers contacting him to ask you for an additional publication. He has now gained a true fan base.

“A few days after the publication of The Secrets of Motivation and Personal Growth, I received lots of comments by those readers who particularly appreciated the sentences that they considered, in their words, ‘poetical’,” he said.

Newton Lee, the Adjunct Professor at Woodbury University and the president of the Institute for Education, Research, and Scholarships in Los Angeles published some of Procacci’s books in English. Lee wrote the preface of Secrets of Motivations and Personal Growth called Exercises and Tools to Make the Quality of Your Life Better.

“Emiliano is very pleasant to work with. He is easy going and down to earth,” said Lee. “A good writer always writes from the heart. That is what makes Emiliano a good writer.”

Procacci writes from the heart because writing is his heart. He knows writing a book is not easy and it is very time consuming. He says that during that period many good and bad things happen in life and the writer becomes affected. For him, the desire to communicate and the love for his family has always given him the strength to write.

“Sharing what you know, donating your creative talent to the world and helping people to improve their lives are some of the things that can be done to fulfill ourselves as social beings and to step out of our comfort zone,” he described. “We don’t have to be masters to teach orchestral music, and the athletes who won the gold medal at the Olympics are not the only ones who can teach sports, in fact, every day is perfect to convey what we know to someone else and remember: even the most brilliant light has no value if it is hidden in darkness, be bold and show the world what you can do.”

Procacci teaches in the Department of Communication Sciences at the Università Popolare of Gorizia. He aims to inspire his students to both read and write.

“As I like to repeat to my students, the moment a writer and a reader meet inside of a book is magic, because they share the reading of the same printed characters on the paper, even if with different eyes. So, a thought takes shape in the writer’s mind, makes its way through emotions and feelings, adopting their movements and smell, and then transforms into sentences which are transferred to paper,” he said. “The reader, in turn, performs the reverse process and extrapolates the sentences from the text, hopefully remaining intoxicated by them and making them his own. It is a mutual exchange and the place where all of this takes place is between the pages of a book.”

Procacci believes books are all written with a purpose and that his is simple and unpretentious. He would like to somehow convey a message of hope that can help you realize what you most intimately want.

Procacci has now written five books of which four of are on the subjects of communication and personal growth. He is now I’m writing a motivational novel, which he is certain will as successful as his other books.

“It would be a shame to waste our time without trying to deserve serenity and happiness,” he concluded. “I chose to exit from my comfort zone and I have found happiness. There is a world right around the corner if you just to have the courage to look for it.”

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ACTOR MICHELLE ALEXANDER EXCELS AS ‘DARKNET’ SERIAL KILLER

Actor Michelle Alexander inhabits every role with a masterly conviction. Her characterizations, whether a light hearted comedy or dark suspense thriller, display an involvement and authority which completely draws an audience in. The Canadian-born Alexander’s artful prowess allowed her to transition, with admirable grace, from theater to television, where she electrified viewers as a knife-wielding slasher on the groundbreaking Darknet, a well-received, innovative anthology series of urban horror stories.

The lissome, charming Alexander was hardly an obvious choice for a serial killer, but she easily won the role of murderous psychotic Alison. “The Darknet auditions were highly competitive,” Alexander said. “The individual slots for the first round were only five minutes long, but I was kept in the room for 45 minutes. They had me do a 2-minute scene about 10 different ways, and later told me they were blown away by how quickly I adapted to direction.”

“Then there was the callback,” she said. “It was one of my favorite ever auditions. The scene was Alison stabbing her first murder victim and realizing how much she loved it. I wanted to have something to push against, literally, when doing the ‘stabbing’ so I slammed a giant chair into the ground over and over again. I thought ‘they’re either going to think I’m crazy or an acting-chair-wielding genius.’ That bold choice paid off.”

Alexander’s instinct and audacity, combined with a deep well of classical stagecraft—an alumni of the distinguished University of Windsor BFA Acting Program with extensive additional training and stage experience—effectively guaranteed her the part, and she took full advantage of the offbeat opportunity.

“Those are the scenes you wish for as an actor, going from 0 to100 in seconds, from innocent student to serial killer,” she said. “Alison was the first role that showed me how my own personal brand of humor and heart is watchable and exciting. I love bringing that quality, which is uniquely me, to roles that show how women can be really screwed up and still amazingly powerful at the same time.”

Alexander’s gift for weaving subtle ambiguity and blunt force drama together into an engrossing whole is impressive, and Darknet was an important upshift in her already solid roster of theatrical and film achievement. But she doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“Is anyone ever really satisfied with their performance?” Alexander said. “Actors are notoriously hard on themselves and driven for self-improvement, not qualities that foster self-satisfaction. Of course, there were moments in the final cut that I watched and thought ‘oh they chose that take, it’s good, but I can do better.’ I didn’t think that was my best’. But, ultimately, my job is to deliver believable moments and it’s their job to choose which version fits into the story they want to tell.”

Darknet’s singular format, with multiple plotlines progressing over several episodes, each helmed by different directors, provided Alexander a rare, interactive behind-the-scenes experience.

“It felt like a truly collaborative experience,” Alexander said. “The directors of the different episodes really treated me like the authority on my character, always asking what I thought Alison would do in a situation. Even the script writers were collaborative. For example, before they signed off on Episode Five they asked if I agreed with the very extreme choice they had Alison make. You can’t ask for a better work environment than that.”

“I had the pleasure of working with Michelle on Darknet,” director Jeremy Ball said. “Michelle stood out for her energy, commitment, and ability to take direction. I also found her to possess a singular screen presence that was at once completely her own and capable of accommodating a scene’s unique requirements.”

Alexander’s work on Darknet, currently streaming on Netflix, instilled a fondness for the small screen format. “It was fantastic,” she said. “The entire crew, creative team and cast were a joy to work with. Also, we laughed a lot when the cameras weren’t rolling, which is key when making any show, but especially a horror show.”

She has gone on to appearances on The Strain and Orphan Black and is eager to take on additional television roles. “I want to play amazing females who viewers can look forward to hanging out with, crying with and watching in awe as they take on the world episode after episode.” Alexander said. “My dream job is to helm my own sci-fi series as a character that’s riddled with flaws but has a killer sense of humor and can kick anyone’s ass.”

At her core, Alexander is a reliable, self-critical craftsman with a driven, pragmatic attitude that serves her very well. “Nothing will ever go exactly as planned,” she said. “So bend your knees, trust yourself and always be in the moment.”

Actor Cody Sparshu Shares His Secrets to Success as a Lead in Double Booked

By Martin Desouza 

cody 3It is no secret in the film industry that actors are faced with having to play characters who drastically differ in comparison to who they are in real life. 30-year-old Canadian actor Cody Sparshu knows this all too well.

In order to overcome this challenge, Sparshu likes to find emotional similarities between himself and the character in attempt to make the character’s behaviour as authentic as possible.

Sparshu attributes his success to this strategy, but laughed when admitting it was very difficult to do in preparation for his most recent lead role in, Double Booked. The laughter was in reference to the fact that the film’s award winning director and producer, Neil Webb, cast Sparshu just one week before shooting began in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

“I just locked myself at home for a week and prepared the 60 pages dialogue over and over. It’s just the nature of the business. Sometimes actors need to work with what they’re given and go with the flow,” said Sparshu.

Despite the intense preparation timeline, Sparshu felt he delivered one of the best performances of his career, and Webb agreed.

“Cody showed extraordinary commitment both on and off the set in his leading role. He had a very limited amount of time to prepare for this project, being one of the last members locked in and having one of the largest and most dialogue heavy parts,” said Webb. “Nevertheless, Cody showed up on set for his leading role prepared to the utmost extent, ready to deliver an amazing performance. Rarely did Cody require more than two takes to achieve the performance which brought not only a unique and extremely thought-out perspective, but an immediacy that resonated with viewers.”

Sparshu was very humbled to receive high praise from Webb, and on top of his ability to make emotional connections with the characters he plays; he acknowledges another untraditional and personal approach.

“As weird as it may sound, when I’m acting I’m able to be more true to myself,” he said. “When playing a character, you have the freedom to embrace the real emotions and actions within you, that you feel you might normally not have permission to. You’re living under imaginary circumstances so there’s no repercussions to being real.”

Double Booked premiered in Los Angeles in 2014 and depicts the story of a tight-knit group of friends who have been taken captive while on vacation at a cabin in the mountains. Months after a scarring event, the group find themselves being subjected to sleep deprivation and mental torture as they desperately try to discover the motivation of their captors, a seemingly normal couple.

Sparshu played the role of Jeff, an easy-going hipster who was very passive and timid in nature. Throughout the course of the film, Jeff undergoes a dramatic self-realization experience as he eventually finds the strength, motivation and courage to stand up for himself.

The Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association nominated the film for Best Feature Drama and Best Original Score, two achievements that Sparshu is very proud of.

Undoubtedly, Sparshu’s passion for the arts runs deeply, as he references being on the family video camera with his sisters at age six. As he studied drama in elementary and high school, he acted in several theatrical plays, commercials, and films. It is on this foundation that he has been able to build a successful career.

“In studying various forms of theoretical acting techniques, I’ve been able to develop a strong sense of self-awareness which has allowed me to execute the techniques that best suit my style and strengths,” he said.

On top of his acting roles, Sparshu is building his portfolio as a writer and producer. In the process of writing his first feature film, Sparshu revealed that he has been able to leverage his experiences from acting, and apply them to the realm of writing and producing. Ironically, by improving his writing and producing skills, he is able to further evolve as an actor. It is a reciprocal process that Sparshu feels any aspiring actor should consider. He added that he is excited to show his dynamic ability to the world in the near future.

“As I mature in this business, I want to model myself off the Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson’s of the world,” he concluded. “Those guys produce more work than they act in. They are just as concerned with delivering a captivating movie as they are about their own individual acting performance.”

It is this deeper understanding of the fundamental elements that go into the production of a movie that Sparshu feels will allow him to continue to grow in the film industry as an actor, as a producer, and as an artist.

Cinematographer Peter Hadfield “disarms” viewers with his talent

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Peter Hadfield is from British Columbia, Canada.

Peter Hadfield has achieved a lot through his career, and a lot of this has to do with his success filming music videos.

The Canadian cinematographer has had four music videos selected as Vimeo Staff Picks. He describes the highlight of his career so far as working on the politically charged music video for Wintersleep’s song Amerika.

Two years ago he experienced success working along directed Dee Shin for Akmu’s video for the song Melted, which has over 6.5 million views on YouTube.

This song gets a strong emotional reaction from people.
There are tons of comments on how it makes them cry, and there are a few reaction videos of people watching the video and crying,” said Hadfield. “I think after this video was released I thought, ‘wow, I can do this.’”

The video was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, and follows a boy as he comes across a variety of different people.

“It was fun to shoot a video with so many different people. Lots of different faces and textures in that video. Shooting a bearded dragon lizard with a macro lens was a ton of fun,” said Hadfield. “Everyone has a sweet spot, or a certain way they can be photographed that shows off their personality immediately. It was a challenge to find that spot with all the different people in the video.”

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Hadfield’s work on Melted brings out an emotional response from audiences.

After this success, Hadfield had the chance to work with his college friend, the musician, Pomo, aka Dave Pimentel, on the video Back 2 U, which Hadfield describes as his favorite videos that he has shot. It was shot in Toronto at the Pan Am Sports Facility as the video features many divers on their way into the pool.

“Finding the angles for the divers was a lot of fun, and taking the dives to the next level by adding the visual effects gave it a weird, trippy feel,” he said.

A challenge was presented when it came to shooting underwater. Hadfield had operate a 7D in a 5D underwater housing.

“We just rolled the camera, put it in the housing, and jumped in,” he said. “You can’t really see what you’re doing when you shoot underwater. I was wearing a snorkel and mask, but there are still a few inches of water in between your eyes and the mask that makes the monitor blurry. It was also really hard to keep the camera still, and I knew that shaking underwater footage wasn’t going to cut well with the footage we were getting of the divers in midair or on the deck, so we had to figure out a way to steady it. Our PA had to dive down to the bottom of the pool each time to retrieve the camera because we ended up just resting it on the bottom of the pool!”

Hadfield worked alongside Bahwee Suh, who was the executive producer and president at HW&W record label, as well as Kerry Noonan who is a producer and art director in Toronto, and Jack Yan Chen who was the camera operator.

“Things always seem to go smoothly when working with Peter. He has a warm and thoughtful presence on set which can sometimes disarm you from how professionally he executes every shot, every scene, every day. In short, Mr. Hadfield has a great deal of technical proficiency and makes it look easy,” said Kerry Noonan. “As a cinematographer, Peter has a lot of skills at his disposal. His instinct and sensibility come through on his reel, however something that you can only see on set is his cautious curiosity. Peter looks at figures, objects and landscapes and wonders how many new ways can we see it. He is always considering slight adjustments to impact a shot. If the idea doesn’t work he moves on, it does, it might just be the best part of your day.”

Hadfield agrees he and Noonan made a good team for the video.

“Kerry had some great creative input on the video and he worked his butt off to make it all happen,” said Hadfield.

Hadfield was not only the cinematographer on the film, but he also had the opportunity to direct it. He says having this opportunity further cemented his knowledge on shooting ratios and how much you actually have to shoot to make a cohesive music video.

“Directors are always editing in their minds on set, and I think being a cinematographer who can also edit and has a deep knowledge of post-production is an advantage. Before you specialize you’ve got to know how the whole machine works. I think that’s the difference between film making now and film making 20 years ago. Before each position was very specialized and delegated in a militaristic way, but the contemporary digital cameras completely democratize the whole film making experience. Since everyone can now direct, shoot, edit, and mix sound more can be accomplished with a smaller amount of people,” he said.

From a young age Hadfield knew what his passion was, and his love for his art has contributed to his many achievements.

“I’ve always had an interest in cameras and filmmaking,” he said. I played with my dad’s camcorder as a kid, and made little movies with my sister. There’s footage of me somewhere filming my sister giving a tour of the house, and walking into a wall with the camera held up to my eye.”

His understanding and appreciation for the art of cinematography, as well as his inherent skill behind the camera show why Peter Hadfield’s name will continue to be seen on rolling on the credits, now and in the future.

MASTER FILM EDITOR TAKASHI UCHIDA’S LIGHT TOUCH STRIKES COMEDY GOLD

Whether film editor Takashi Uchida is assigned a drama, fantasy or action film, the Japanese born craftsman always delivers a crisp, distinctive cut which enhances the impact of any story. Equally adept at complex narrative dramas—he worked with ten different directors on Actors Anonymous—or the walloping animated adventure of the Netflix Kong: King of the Apes series, Takashi’s technical facility and innate grasp of any subject’s subtly and nuance is uniformly excellent.

Takashi’s instinct for what a story requires and the impact even a single frame of film can have to achieve a specific dramatic goal is masterly, and these formidable skills were recently brought to bear on a new type of subject for the editor, the fizzy tween comedy Jessica Darling’s IT LIST, an Amazon online release starring Disney TV actress and YouTube phenomenon Chloe East.

Adapted from the sixth of Megan McCafferty’s best-selling teen novel series, the middle school-set prequel presented a unique new setting for Takashi. The titular ‘It List” passed down by a sibling to her little sister when  she enters junior high, touts “the 3 Ps: popular, pretty, perfect” as Jessica’s requisite goals for survival. Intrigued at the prospect of exploring new thematic territory, Takashi didn’t hesitate.

“I was introduced, by a mutual friend, to editor Daniel Hanna, who was a good friend of the director, Ali Scher, and I joined the team as co-editor,” Takashi said. “After I started the project, a couple of Japanese friends said they had read the novel as teens and told me how the books actually became an important part of their young lives. So, I was really proud to be working on a project that I hoped would stay in the audience’s heart like that, as a bright spot in their own youth.”

Takashi doesn’t just inhabit a story, he carefully manipulates the action in a way that elevates each sequence. “In order to express the youth and freshness of the story, we were using a very playful editing style, making creative transitions,” he said. “But at the same time, however comedic it is, there’s still dramatic arc in each character and the editor’s job is to reconcile these two elements.”

Takashi’s deft handling of the story’s content paid off. “Takashi is a great editor because he is dedicated and detail oriented.” Scher said. “He’s also a fantastic storyteller. He can see where the story in a scene is and flush it out in the cut in a way I might not have thought of. That’s what a great editor does—brings the director a new perspective on something they’ve looked at a gazillion times. It’s always very exciting to get to see your film in a new light, the great editors understand this and push the envelope with their first cuts. Then it’s all about collaboration and marrying the two visions. Takashi excels at this because he doesn’t bring his ego to the table. The edit should never be a fight, but rather a dance, where the two partners each bring a lot of passion and a lot of give. Takashi is a great dance partner.”

Together with Hanna, the emotional content was carefully addressed. “In this film, we are trying to capture Jessica’s nervousness and struggle in this new place,” Takashi said. “It is her journey to find out who she is and also what it means to stay true to yourself. As an editor, crafting a narrative to express her emotion was the most important thing and our goal was, always, to build character and express their emotion.”

“There were a lot of challenges,” Takashi said. “I learned so much from editing this film. I was really lucky to work with such a talented director, Ali, and Dan, a great co-editor. Also, a lot of times the editor really has to work on shaping up the acting in post-production, but I didn’t have to worry about it at all—these kids were so talented. I am really proud of it and I believe this film will remain in the audience’s heart along with many other classic teen movies.”

The mutual pleasure which radiated throughout the IT LIST team imbued the finished product with great warmth, charm and appeal, and connected them on both a personal and professional level. “Takashi was such a joy to work with,” Scher said. “He was innovative and hard working. It takes a lot of determination and perseverance to be a great editor and Takashi worked a scene until it truly sang. I personally could not be more pleased with the work that Takashi did and the way the film turned out. I would definitely work with him again, no question.”

 

Mariana Wahrhaftig goes from fan to expert producer for Zelda symphony

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Mariana Wahrhaftig used her years of being a Zelda fan to her advantage for the concert series.

Most adults in today’s modern world grew up playing video games. For many children, opening up a gaming was the greatest gift they could possibly receive. A favorite video game often has more of an impact on a child than a favorite book, and people become nostalgic when talking about them.

 

Producer and director Mariana Wahrhaftig is one of those people. For her, like so many others, Nintendo was the system of choice, and Zelda was the game. But, for Wahrhaftig, she doesn’t have to talk about “the good old days” playing the game, because Zelda is her present.

Wahrhaftig was a producer for the third season of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses – Master Quest. The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses is a concert that features music and video from the acclaimed video game The Legend of Zelda series where new and exclusive musical arrangements are played by a full live orchestra and choir in sync with vides played on a giant screen. Master Quest is the third season of this concert.

The Legend of Zelda was my childhood. I fell in love with the games after playing them, and have loved them ever since. The games’ soundtracks were basically the soundtracks to my childhood,” said Wahrhaftig.

As producer, she was responsible for all the new creative content of the show. She supervised the pieces, as well as produced it. She was in charge of the new piece for the Majora’s Mask game, which was a request from Nintendo, since they were releasing a remake of the 2000 game. She also was responsible for writing, and providing direction for the videos they recorded with the game creators. She directed creative content and produced the new videos, and some updates requested by Nintendo. She also worked a bit of tour logistics.

“I loved the fact that I got to work with my favorite video game, and bring life to pieces that would touch the hearts of fans and take them back down memory lane and re-live the moments from their childhoods,” she said.

Wahrhaftig worked alongside Bill Panks, a composer who orchestrated the Majora’s Mask piece under her direction, and Daniel Johnson, the editor of the videos that accompanied the music. Johnson described working with her as a “total blast.”

“We had so much fun on this project, and her insight and fandom for the Zelda games really helped guide me along in the edit, since at the time I had never played any of the games myself,” said Johnson. “Her knowledge and passion for all the little details of the Zelda universe really helped flesh out the final videos to be as rich and specific as possible for all the fans who came to the show.”

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The concert features videos that are perfectly timed with the music.

Wahrhaftig agrees that the experience was a great one, especially because of those she worked with.

“The videos are a huge part of the show, and they have to be perfectly in sync with the music, and Dan and I spent hours on end in front of his computer getting things just right,” she said. “He’s a star, he truly made the videos amazing. He knows his craft, and he does it really well.

I got to work with some great people who are very talented, and I am very thankful for that.”

The pressure was on for Wahrhaftig to deliver, as Zelda fans have a love for the game that is unlike most other video games.

“You want to make things that are true to the original games, and that are at Nintendo’s standards. You aren’t dealing with your own content, and so, everything you do, you have to make sure you do it right,” she said.

And it looks like she did, as The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses – Master Quest received extremely positive reviews, and is described as something every fan must see. And who better to do this, than a true fan.

Click here to buy tickets at a concert near you.

 

Keanu Uchida Embodies a Champion Horse in New Musical “Dancer”

Keanu Uchida is still a fresh face in the professional dance world but he has already achieved considerable diversity and prestige in his career.

While still studying dance at his home dance studio near Ottawa, Uchida was honored with acceptance into the highly-respected summer intensive program at The Julliard School in 2013.

He has also received many regional and international titles in dance competition, making him one to watch in Canada and beyond. Most notably, he was awarded the title of Senior Male Best Dancer in 2014 at international dance event, The Dance Awards and given the opportunity to assist celebrated choreographers like Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Mia Michaels, and Al Blackstone at conventions.

The multi-talented Uchida, who is a musician as well as a student of physics at The University of Toronto, is making big contributions to the professional dance community with his work on screen and on stage. He danced leading roles as a principal dancer on BBC television series, The Next Step and was hand-selected by head choreographer, Jeff Dimitriou to appear as one of only 15 dancers in the 2015 Pan American Games Closing Ceremonies production which was broadcast to an international audience.

“Keanu is simply brilliant,” says Stacey Tookey, who oversees contemporary dance for the NUVO Dance Convention and is probably best known for her appearances as a resident choreographer and guest judge on the Canadian and American versions of the dance competition reality show So You Think You Can Dance.

Canadian dancer Keanu Uchida

Uchida has also proven an invaluable contributor to dance in Toronto as a featured dancer in immersive and challenging performances by leaders in the city’s contemporary dance scene.

“I often create while channeling Keanu’s movement and essence,” says Cora Kozaris, choreographer of CARNÉ, a bold, new work debuting at one of Toronto’s oldest contemporary dance presenting organizations, Dancemakers Centre for Creation. “His uniqueness and creativity is harmonious with my mind. Together, we inspire each other to push boundaries.”

Uchida is looking forward to the next evolutionary step in his career as he immerses himself in the leading role, Northern Dancer in the upcoming musical theater production, Dancer, which is expected to debut in Spring 2017 at Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre.

After a competitive audition process that lasted two days and lured many of Canada’s best dancers, he waited months for casting results to discover he was being offered to lead the cast as a race horse that is crowned Canada’s first winner of the Kentucky Derby. Uchida spent an intense three weeks last Spring working with Tookey, who is choreographer for the show, and producer John McKellar to artistically draft the scripted dance pieces during the workshop phase of the production.

“Digging into the creative process with both Stacey and John was a compelling experience,” recalls Uchida. “Both asked a lot from me regarding my character and discovering the role of Northern Dancer became a collaborative effort. I was given artistic freedom to try lots of things.”

The musical, told in “ten furlongs” and split into two acts, follows Northern Dancer’s steady rise to success. A horse no one wanted to buy, he forms special relationships with his owners, is trained and put to the test in race after race, eventually becoming a national symbol of pride. The story is an emotional journey as he seeks acceptance from the equine community and of himself.

The character of Norther Dancer has no lines in the musical, though he is in almost every scene. He communicates through body language and dance with friends and a few enemies throughout the performance. The technical and demanding choreography by Tookey requires of Uchida significant grace, poise, and control, not to mention, imagination and the ability to explore and innovate.

“Lots of movement was developed from improvisation, where I was asked to embody the horse and embrace its motion as naturally as possible,” says Uchida. “I wasn’t asked to ‘dance’ like a horse, but rather to be one.”

Uchida’s capabilities as a very creative and dextrous dancer made him perfect for this character and its development.

“Keanu’s ability to implement his creative vision while adhering to tight deadlines is what makes him an essential asset to any project he is a part of,” says Tookey.

Toronto-based dancer, Keanu Uchida

Fellow dancers and choreographers with whom Uchida has worked repeatedly mention his unique brilliance and artistry as a performer.

“Besides his physical capabilities, he has an incredible way of bringing you into a world,” explains Julia Cratchley, who hired Uchida last year for an immersive dance project with her company TranscenDANCE. “He will make you believe anything he does and captivate you doing even the slightest thing.”

Being thrown into a central role in a musical has inspired Uchida to take voice lessons.

“This process has completely sparked my interest in musical theatre,” he remarks.

Given his dedication and talent, it seems inevitable that no matter where Uchida’s career takes him next, audiences are very likely to see more of this young professional on stage in the future.

Simone Lombardo has Just Cause for praise

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Simone Lombardo is internationally recognized for his abilities and achievements in the visual effects industry.

It can be during difficult times where one discovers what they are truly passionate about. When people are pushed to their limits they find happiness, no matter how old they are.

This is what happened for Simone Lombardo, who is now an internationally recognized 3D artist in visual effects in both film and video games.

As a young boy growing up in Liege, Belgium, Lombardo was frequently very ill, and was limited on what he could or could not do, and where he could and could not go.

“I couldn’t go outside and play until I was about 8 years old, but even then I was a bit weak, so I would stay inside,” he described. “One of my teacher’s setup a computer for me during lunch time at school so I didn’t feel bored or lonely. That is when I fell in love with computers.”

It did not take long for Lombardo to start discovering different software that the school computers had to offer, such as Logo and Turtle Graphics and later Klick & Play which would let him do mini-game, and finally 3D Studio 4, which he says made him discover 3D.

“I was always interested by Japanese animation because of my grandfather’s love of it, as well as Walt Disney, but when A Bug’s Life was released I knew this was the future of animation, and I knew this is what I wanted to do, this and video games.”

Lombardo has achieved his childhood goal. He has worked on the blockbuster films The Maze Runner and its sequel The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, the Academy Award winning film Hugo, as well as the largely successful video games Resident Evil and Soul Caliber V.

“I love the fact that if I have an idea late at night, I could just jump on the computer and quickly prototype something. I went to art school, but I always have had problems learning how to draw. many of my friends tried to teach me, but somehow it never works. But, when it comes to visual effects, everything is possible. It’s like magic,” said Lombardo.

Lombardo is an award-winning member of his field. He was an honorable mention at the CG Society International Challenge Spectacular, and first runner up at the Journey Begins. He won the Vocation Foundation Price in Belgium, in the CG Animation category in 2007, and is in the official 3dsmax Bible Book of 2008 and 2009

“Simone is an elite visual effects artist and animator of extraordinary ability,” said Saku Partiamies, the VFX supervisor at Pixomondo Shanghai, who worked with Lombardo on Hugo. “Simone possess excellent interpersonal skills and is a natural leader on set, instructing a large team of people how to achieve the most effective results to make the best film possible.”

Despite his overwhelming success and accolades, Lombardo says there are still challenges he faces each day.

“VFX is a young industry, and it keeps changing almost every day. It can be difficult to jump in the middle, as it is difficult to keep up to date with it. It has so many branches and variations,” he described.

But Lombardo has done a good job at keeping up-to-date with his chosen field. While studying advertising at a young age, he mastered programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and branched into 3D Studio 4, despite there not being any access to it in his hometown.

“I just learned by reading the documentation and finding really rarely some book at the library. I ended up knocking on the door of the only company in my country at the time that was doing 3D Animation at the time, Neurone Animation, and asked them how I could learn more,” he said.

This sheer determination led Lombardo to a night school where he could refine his skills.

“They had computers, and software like Alias, and 3dsmax. I was freaking out,” he said. “For 3 years I made the trip from my hometown to the school every day. It was one hour on the bus, two and a half hours on the train, and then a thirty minute walk each way.”

A four hour commute to school has paid off for Lombardo, who worked on Take Back Your Power, which was done under Reuben Langdon at Just Cause.

“It was a really great project to work on, because the time was short, and I could test some game engine render with it. While 80 per cent of it was done with traditional CGI, the other 20 per cent was done using a really early version of my Game Engine Hybrid pipeline, it was a really good warm up. And the director was really nice,” he described.

Langdon, the founder of Just Cause Productions, knew from the time he met Lombardo that he wanted him to work at Just Cause.

“I can honestly say that working with a visual effects artist of Simone’s caliber has been one of the high points of my career,” said Langdon. “Simone’s work changed the way the industry looks at game engine.”

Working with Just Cause, Lombardo also worked on Resident Evil and Soul Caliber V, which many gamers recognize for their outstanding visual effects.

“Working on an amazing game like Resident Evil taught me a lot about motion capture and game tech. It re-connected my visual effect knowledge with my game engine root from Amsterdam. Working on Soul Caliber V, I could learn from the amazing team at Just Cause, and their amazing knowledge of Facial Motion capture and voice-over,” described Lombardo.

Lombardo has ambitious goals, from wanting to become a director for a movie or game, as well as release his own IP he wrote called HOPE, which will consist of three movies, two games, one comic book series, and a television show.

“Once that is done, I think it will be ok to take a break,” he concluded.

Well, he has definitely earned it.

HOW BRUNO NUNEZ ROMAGNOLI IS SUPPORTING “HER LAST JOB”

Bruno Nunez Romagnoli is already a well known actor in his homeland of Argentina. With his latest role, he is becoming a part of the lineage of Latin actors in Hollywood; a list which includes such actors as Anthony Quinn, Antonio Banderas, Michael Pena, Edward James Olmos, and so many others. This actor exudes the intensity and charisma that the aforementioned leading men posses but is also required to establish a career in a modern day market which is somewhat chaotic. With so many paths available to the actors of today (film, TV, online and streaming platforms), the path to work and success is more fragmented than ever before. This also means that the potential for an actor to be seen is greater, as is the competition for the public’s attention. To get noticed takes that intrinsic quality, a quality that many are recognizing in this young actor known for his commanding presence.

Her Last Job is writer/director Leon Tianze Wang’s film about modern day hitmen and their pursuit of a mark while dealing with their personal lives. Romagnoli plays Robin, an assassin hired for a job who runs into an old flame, who was also a hitman. The reunion does not end well for Robin. Her Last Job creator and director, Wang recalls the experience working with the actors, “Bruno’s performance in the film is incredible but he added more than the public will ever know. Without him on set, I don’t think we would have been able to achieve making this film. We had so many problems when we were shooting in the Salton Sea. I was worried about the actors all the time because I was making them work for more than 16 hours straight. Bruno, who was the leading character told me, ‘Don’t worry. I understand how directing works. I’m here for you so let’s work, okay?” I couldn’t believe it. He truly helped me out at a time when everyone was exhausted. He led the charge to stay focused and at delivered a heart wrenching and riveting performance.”

her last job 2

 

Romagnoli always loves the challenge of filmmaking and acting but reveals that Her Last Job was a challenge that required him to stay particularly focused. The location and the fact that this was an independent film made the shoot especially difficult for its cast and crew. Bruno reveals, “Filming in the middle of the desert at noon is insane! It was more than 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and was also full of flies, making it very uncomfortable. The incredible heat caused some of the equipment to intermittently stop working, which delayed shooting. Filming was delayed so much that the script needed to change and 30% of the scenes became night scenes. Independent films have a much tighter budget and in order to not exceed that, we had to stay awake and work through the entire day and night for the climax scene. The two actresses and I who were a part of these scenes were working for more than 20 hours straight, only stopping for lunch. The director felt awful about the working conditions; we were all tired and dizzy because of the heat. If I only had an acting background, I might have been grumpy, but I understood his situation. I let him know that I was going to be there for whatever he needed and I was not going to stop until it was done. With tears in his eyes, he hugged me. I might have helped but it still wouldn’t have worked without the two talented women, Caitlin Harty and Mariana Huerta who worked just as hard as everyone involved in the film. There were no rampant egos on this production.”

Critics and cast praised Bruno’s performance in the film. Bruno threw himself into the character and his preparation just as he would for any major studio production. He admits that he found transforming himself to be more difficult than the actual delivery of his performance. Romagnoli comments, “I did a total physical change to play Robin and it has changed the way I live. When I got the script the first thing I noticed was that my character was a hitman, and the second was that I had a sex scene. Because of his vocation, my character has to be in a really good shape. I think that is what someone who kills professionally would look like. There are a lot of physically demanding scenarios in his work and he has to be prepared if he wants to remain alive. I had three months before the shooting so I got a personal trainer and I started a program of intensive diet and training at the gym. I would not call it enjoyable. I would feel sick some days, but I got into shape just in time; and maintained it even after the shooting. There are many roles which call for this physical appearance so I have continued this approach to be prepared.”

Bruno Nunez Romagnoli has all of the physical attributes and talent of the marquee names that the public loves, but also has the perspective of a filmmaker. This winning combination has led him from his home in Argentina to the Hollywood community as he pursues and accepts the offers that continue to gravitate his way. Her Last Job is the first of many future jobs which are establishing him as one of the film industry’s bright faces.

Making a Dream a Reality: Venezuelan Actor Pedro Flores!

Pedro Flores
Actor Pedro Flores (left) and Laverne Cox from “Orange is the New Black” at the 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, CA (photo by: Inez Veronica Chavez)

His entire life, Pedro Flores dreamed of becoming an actor. But growing up in the small town of El Tigre, an eight hour drive from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, meant achieving that goal required him to defy the odds. With endless dedication, commitment, and a talent that out shined the competition, Flores has reached his dream. He’s become an inimitable figure in the industry, a go-to actor capable of assuming any role in any genre.

In addition to his extensive work in films like “Match” and television series like “What’s The Norm?,” Flores has also been featured in a number of successful commercial advertisements.  Among these were a commercial for Universal Studios’ “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” as well as an ad for Volkswagen’s Jetta and Beetle models earlier this year.

 

Pedro Flores
Pedro Flores on the far left in a poster for the new Harry Potter campaign

 

Flores recently wrapped filming on the first episode of the upcoming series “What’s The Norm?,” a hip new comedy which breaks down stereotypes about race and relationships. The series stars Kerry Rhodes as Norm, Nicky Whelan (“Hall Pass,” “The Wedding Ringer”) as his wife Chloe, and Flores as Pelo, a suave dancing coach with a record of seducing his clients.

“Norm is a baseball player, a legend now in the final stage of his career and about to retire. Chloe is an actress whose career is finally taking off. I play Pelo, Chloe’s dancing coach, and we’re competing in a dancing competition on TV,” Flores explained. “Pelo is the sexy, Latino dancing instructor who makes a move on Chloe — but he pretty much makes a move on all the girls he dances with.”

Though “What’s The Norm?” is a comedy at its core, it smartly examines the profound number of issues facing couples, particularly couples of different races. Pelo’s failure to woo Chloe is just one of his character’s hilarious moments, and it serves to show viewers just how strong Chloe and Norm’s love for one another is.

Flores starred as the Boyfriend who is at his wits’ end in the 2016 film “Match,” a film that revolves around the vapid and materialistic mindset that makes dating apps so popular. In the film, Flores is driven to madness when his girlfriend won’t stop staring at her phone while the two are on a date. Set to debut at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival in September, “Match” is a scathing critique of so-called smartphone addiction and mobile dating apps.

“It’s an excellent film because it shows how technology, specifically cell phones, are affecting our interactions and relationships with other people,” Flores said. “My character is annoyed at his girlfriend, who’s taking selfies while they are in the restaurant and giving all of her attention to the phone and how many likes she’s getting. So he just gets upset and leaves the restaurant.”

Last year, Flores also starred as Truce in the TV comedy “Jay Rocco.” “Jay Rocco” follows titular character and famous fashion designer Jay Rocco, who’s changing his entire collection based on the advice of a stranger he caught breaking into his house. Rocco sends his secretary Sibilla out to the Malibu Hills, where she finds herself stranded after a drunken night of partying. That’s how Sibilla and viewers meet Truce, a man whose wanderlust led him to give up his old life and explore the globe on a spiritual journey.

“Truce left his home in Venezuela, his family and his perfect job and just went out traveling the world in order to create his own path and discover the mystery of life,” Flores said, describing the nuances of Truce. “He likes the feeling of freedom and he loves to meet new people. He knows that he’ll always learn something from someone, no matter who they are.”

In a way, Truce has a great deal in common with Pedro Flores. Before he left Venezuela, Flores had attained a degree in engineering and could have easily settled for an easy life with a good job. But much like Truce, that life was not for Flores. Years of dedication and unquantifiable talent have allowed him to not only pursue his dreams, but to make them a reality.