BRAZIL’S VICTOR LUCENA GAINS CRITICAL ACCLAIM AND FANS IN “ARRUFOS”

Stage actor Victor Lucena knows a great deal about love. Yes, he has leading man looks and charisma but that’s not the reason. As a lead actor in the play Arrufos (translated as “Tiffs” in English) by XIX Theater Group in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Lucena explored various representation of love. Every actor uses a part of themselves and takes something with them from a role. As a celebrated theater actor in Brazil, Victor is recognized for his willingness to take on complicated roles as he did in Arrufos. The play received awards from the Shell Theatre Awards, the Sao Paulo Art Critics Association Awards, the Sao Paulo Theatre Co-Op Association, and countless others. As the lead actor in this production, Lucena’s ability to emote and relate to the three different characters he performs as in Arrufos was the driving force which led to these achievements. We all know about love but to communicate its various representations in a way that we can all relate to takes an actor of great skill and sensitivity. This Brazilian thespian’s decision to focus on theater rather than film is because of the changing nature of each performance that he thrives upon. Rather than embracing the security of a perfect take, Victor basks in the uncertainty that performing in front of a live audience grants. This is an appropriate metaphor for the changing aspects of love in each of our lives, which again points directly to Lucena’s astute attitude and ability at performing his roles in Arrufos.

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Victor’s work with the XIX Theater Group has driven them to become one of the most beloved and respected of their kind in Brazil; it’s an attribute that Luiz Fernando Marquez (director of XIX Theater Group) does not take lightly. Marques declares, “Victor has an endless collection of credits. There can be no question that our incredible critical acclaim and commercial success is entirely thanks to Mr. Lucena’s leading role. Arrufos consistently achieved massive commercial success through sold out shows with large audiences, resulting in numerous awards. Victor’s unprecedented skillset allowed him to convey three extraordinarily different and crucial characters in such a way that the audience was able to understand the overarching theme of the production. Victor’s versatility as an actor was an invaluable asset to the creation of this production.” Lucena is the type of actor who delights both his peers and his audience, a testament to his talent and his professionalism. He is also quick to throw accolades to his director and co-stars as reasons behind the acclaim that Arrufos received. The actor notes, “Luiz Fernando Marques is truly talented, particularly in the way that he is able to take on the audience’s perspective. He is able to approach it with a fresh set of eyes each time and understand how the audience will see things, rather than getting lost in a director’s mind. My co-stars: Rodolfo Amorim, Ronaldo Serruya, Juliana Sanches and Janaina Leite…they all have such passion and presence! I’m fortunate that their performances challenged me to work at such a high level. Working with the best forces you to become even better…which is why I do it.”

One of the reasons that Victor was so lauded for his work in Arrufos is in regards to his multiple performances in the play and their believability. The production is a research into the history of love in Brazil, and was written into numerous skits and sketches which show the differing ways love can be perceived, given, and received. Despite wildly different depictions of this highly complex emotion, the overall theme of the play is the strength and prevalence of love across time and space. As a leading actor for Arrufos, Mr. Lucena performed three leading characters: The Priest, The Doctor, and The Lonely. Each character is a different look into various aspects of love. The Priest acts as a conduit of the influence of the Catholic Church in the 1700’s on love and faith, the Doctor establishes opposition to the church and the science of love, and the Lonely represents the lack of hope in life when loneliness is prominent and how love conquers it. Victor explains the acts of the play, “It is a really fascinating emotional curve for the actors involved in this play. The first act is so deep, dark, and heavy. Regardless of all the speeches we all have in it; it seems too silent. In order to create that atmosphere, we all would breathe together for a few minutes and then, about 15 minutes before play starts, each actor and actress would get quiet and start concentrating for it. The second act is much lighter. We took the heaviness off of the atmosphere to break away from the First Act, which is kind of relief for the actors and the audience. The Third Act was a joy! It was especially fun because we break the fourth wall; that was something that I felt really confident and comfortable with. A play is a live organism and as so it is always varying. While a song can be performed in the same way night after night in an orchestra, that’s impossible for a play; it depends on so many different variables. I think consistency is the most important achievement for a good performance but you have to explore new places at the same time.”

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When a performance is as recognized by both consumers and critics, it’s natural to be curious about the preparation of the actor. For his roles in Arrufos, Lucena immersed himself with inspiration for the mood by reading books and watching films about the different presentations of love. He even created a specific playlist which he would listen to for 30 minutes prior to each performance. This gives credence to the idea that art inspires art. While Victor admits to ignoring critics during the run of the play, he admits to one self-congratulatory moment. He reveals, “During the First Act, as the Priest, I’d have to hide under a tiny bed, change clothes and “sing” a prayer in the complete darkness. To do all this, I had only about two and a half minutes, which is the time the character of the father had to give his speech. I’m 5’11’’ and the bed is about 5’5”. I truly believed that there was no way I could do all of this in such a cramped space, but I did and every time. When  I finished I’d secretly celebrate.” Perhaps it is this attitude, that of a man who focuses on the little things rather than worrying about grand acceptance from critics, that communicates Lucena’s joy of the stage and all its possibilities to a welcoming group of admirers.

Australian actor Luke O’Sullivan will star in upcoming Netflix series Dear White People

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Luke O’Sullivan plays Conner in Dear White People

Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Luke O’Sullivan always loved psychology and understanding what makes people tick. Eventually he began applying that natural curiosity to acting, and has never looked back. Now, he will be appearing in the new Netflix original series Dear White People.

Dear White People is a comedy series based on writer/director/producer Justin Simien’s critically-acclaimed, Sundance award-winning satirical indie film. Simien was the recipient of the 2014 Sundance Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, and will be continuing his success on the film with the show. The series is produced by Lionsgate, whose sister company Roadside Attractions released the original film in 2014.

Set among a diverse group of students of color as they navigate a predominantly white Ivy League college where racial tensions are often swept under the rug, Dear White People is a send up of “post-racial” America that also tells a universal story about forging one’s own unique path. O’Sullivan plays Conner, one of the students at the college who is integral to the storyline of one of the series’ main characters.

It means so much to be on such a great, meaningful show,” said O’Sullivan. “It felt like all the difficulties I had gone through to get here had been worth it just to have the amazing experience I had on Dear White People. It was also a lot of fun and I’m really excited for it to come out next year.”

O’Sullivan is first introduced to audiences in the second episode, where his character becomes friends with one of the central characters. Conner is a very outgoing, confident character who encourages others to be themselves.

“I love the character but he’s very different to me,” he said. “I’m a lot more shy and introverted than Conner, but that makes him a really fun character to play.”  

The 25-year old actor has seen success before. He had a role as a British pop star on Disney’s hit show Austin & Ally and has been seen in several national commercials, including a national anti-tobacco commercial for the FDA which has over 2.3 million views on YouTube. He showed what a versatile actor he is when he starred in the stage play Holding the Man, where he played a total of 11 characters in a production directed by legendary acting coach Larry Moss.

“I love being able to experience things through other people’s perspective and embodying that perspective as fully as possible. And I love being able to do that for a whole range of different characters, of different backgrounds and personalities,” said O’Sullivan.

Nate Jones, co-founder of the Australian Theatre Company and executive producer of Holding The Man, discovered Luke at the perfect time.

As soon as I met Luke I knew he was perfect for Holding the Man. We had been looking for someone to play his challenging and demanding role for some time and knew as soon as we met Luke that he was it,” said Jones. “Very few actors are versatile enough to play 11 completely different characters, but Luke did it with skill and talent that is rare for any actor, let alone one so young. We knew he’d be great, but Luke’s blew everyone away with his performance.”

The play’s director, Larry Moss, is an internationally renowned acting coach to Academy Award winners such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Hillary Swank and Helen Hunt.

“I went to a Masterclass with Larry Moss when he was visiting Melbourne, and that was when I fell in love with acting. So working with him so closely was a dream come true. It was so exciting to work with someone I’d looked up to for so long and he certainly did not let me down. He was a brilliant director and a great man to work with. I learned so much from working with him.”

O’Sullivan has had the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s best. Susan Batson, another acting coach who has coached A-list stars to win Academy Awards, worked with O’Sullivan in Melbourne and was the reason he moved to New York. After seeing his work she invited him to study with her further at her studio in New York City.

“Besides being young and handsome, Luke can really act,” said Batson. “He’s deeper than the Euphrates River, but funny and very, very smart.”

With talent like O’Sullivan’s, audiences can expect to see a lot more of him on both the big and small screens. The 10-episode, 30-minute series Dear White People will premiere on Netflix around the world in 2017.

“You have to accept that there is no certainty and that nothing is ever secure or guaranteed. There are so many things out of our control… It’s really hard to put your heart and soul into something when you don’t know if it’s going to pay off. But you have to remember how much you love it,” he concluded.

Actress Amor Sanchez to star in superhero series Scorpion Girl

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Amor Sanchez – Photo by Laura Escudero

Amor Sanchez wakes up every day knowing she is doing what she loves. While growing up in Madrid, she fell in love with art, and then acting. The bilingual actress takes roles that will offer her a challenge, and participates in projects that are important.

This is how she came to be in the upcoming television series Scorpion Girl. The show will introduce the first major Latina female superhero. The series follows a young girl named Suvanni, who is a sheltered, innocent young woman who abruptly departs from her small hometown in Mexico to track down her missing older sister, Alexandra. Her quest makes her a target of the most nefarious criminal, Hans Von Kruger; he is the man holding her sister captive as a slave in a sex trafficking ring. The scope of his demonic plans are limitless.

“I am very excited because the show will shatter two stereotypes. First, that women are weak and submissive, and second, that there isn’t a female Latin super hero,” said Sanchez. “I am very proud and I can’t wait to start. I think it will change the way the world sees the Hispanic people in general. “

Sanchez will play Endellion, who is Hans Von Krurger’s right hand. The casting was difficult and required martial arts experience.

“Endellion is on the bad side. She will act as a spy, following all of the protagonist’s moves. She is dangerous and you don’t see her coming, she acts from the shade,” described Sanchez.

Sanchez has lots of experience playing characters with depth. She has starred in over a dozen films, including the film Brando Unauthorized, which won the Best Director and Best Feature awards at New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. Damian Chapa, the director of the film, says he always wants to cast Sanchez in his films.

“I realized from the beginning that she is an extraordinary actress so I gave her one of the lead roles. Her performance embodied the character with such passion and such depth there was no point to keep the casting going. She stole the part and our hearts. Her work achieved outstanding results which made her an indispensable component of my films from then on,” said Chapa. “She always understands the roles right away, making them ‘alive’ and different from one another. Her eyes are so powerful that she is able to express deep feelings without even talking. My movies wouldn’t be the same without her.”

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Amor Sanchez – Photo by Laura Escudero

Chapa and Sanchez first started working together on the film Mexican Gangster. It was one of the first films Sanchez worked on, and led to the of a continuous artistic collaboration.

“Every time I decide to get involved in a new project, it is because I am very passionate about it. Every project is special,” said Sanchez. “Damian Chapa, David Carradine, Eric Roberts, Jeff Connaway, they all have something in common, hard workers. They are who they are and where they are because they are very professional and work hard. They are a role to follow. Watching them working definitely inspires you. They have a passion and they put it in all what they do.”

Amor Sanchez also has built a professional relationship with the Spanish producer Guillermo Escalona, one of the founders of the prestigious Spanish movie production company La Panda Productions and the sole proprietor of Quixote International Talent Management. They worked together on the film People You May Know, and are working on a adaptation of the film to a television series with the same name.

She is also set to star in two films by Rivera Films Studios The Curse of Manizales and The Curse of Manizales 2, the same production company for Scorpion Girl.

“I don’t like routine; some people do but is not for me. That is what I like about this job, not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow, the uncertainty. I am very thankful that I can do what I love as my profession,” she concluded.

Actress and model Jordan Claire Robbins talks upcoming projects and living her dream

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Jordan Claire Robbins has worked around the world as both a model and actress.

It’s amazing and rare for people to be able to know and identify what their passion and dreams are from childhood, and go on to follow through with these dreams. This is exactly the case for model and actress Jordan Claire Robbins. She knew she wanted to perform from a very young age, and since moving to Toronto she has taken advantage of every opportunity to realize these dreams. Not many can say this.

Robbins has appeared in a variety of successful campaigns and worked worldwide as a model. She has shot music videos for The Midway State and Down With Webster. She is in the upcoming film Anon with an all-star cast including Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried, and she was in the television series 12 Monkeys and Man Seeking Woman. That being said, she still sometimes thinks back to her childhood in Bermuda, and fantasizing of one day having the career she has now.

“I remember playing alone in my backyard acting out different characters and making up stories. I  would choreograph dances and write plays, then make my family watch me perform them” she said.

Despite a passion for singing and doing musical theatre throughout school, the process of film always fascinated Robbins. Upon graduating high school, she decided she wanted to seriously pursue acting abroad and moved to Toronto.

“I love the storytelling aspect of acting,” she said. “The investigative angle you must take to understand your character’s motivations and experiences, why they are the way they are. It’s an opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone who has led a very different life from the one you may have led so far.”

Robbins has shot commercials for companies such as Rogers, Mini Cooper, Open Wines, Air Canada, Reitmans, Engage Diamonds, the German clothing company Ernsting’s Family, Canadian shopping mall Shops at Don Mills, and French cable company Canal Sat. She worked with Jonathan Popalis, a supervising producer/director at the Bell Media Agency, on a TV commercial for CP24, one of Bell Media’s biggest news brands and the most watched news channels in Canada.

“Jordan was fantastic to work with and a bright, positive person to have on set during a fast-paced and hectic day of shooting,” said Popalis. “She took direction wonderfully and gave a nuanced and elevated performance to bring a very high concept idea to reality. Jordan can effortlessly bring a character to life while also being able to make changes on a dime when it’s needed. She has a stunning star quality look and backs this up with a fearlessness and willingness to create and do great things.”

She also worked with director Anton Josef on a commercial for Engage Diamonds The ad was featured on numerous media outlets around the world including ‘Best Ads on TV’ and won a 2014 AICE Award in Chicago. He describes Robbins as committed, passionate, hardworking and easily adaptable no matter how difficult the situation can become.

“When you work with Jordan, you have a sense that she’s not only a complete professional, but someone who genuinely loves her art form, bringing a contagious enthusiasm to every frame that inspires everyone around her. Our film would never had been so successful without her and everything she poured into it,” said Josef. “Jordan is that very rare blend of natural beauty, charisma and sublime talent. Having worked around the world for many years with some incredibly talented artists, Jordan easily comes to mind as one of the very best with the brightest futures, gleaming with potential. She has that special ability to roll with loosely scripted ideas and be captivating to watch as she naturally and effortlessly molds the role into her own. It’s a highly demanding and competitive field no doubt – but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see her landing even more ambitious projects among the best in the industry.”

Despite the pursuit of an acting career being Robbins’ main motivator, she also jumped into the modelling industry after being approached on the street. She sees modeling as beneficial to her acting career, because both involve playing a character to her.

“I’m pretty goofy and I never felt particularly attractive when I was growing up, so when I started shooting things such as sexy lingerie and high fashion, I learned to tap into parts of myself I don’t generally show on a day-to-day basis,” she described. “This was good preparation for taking on characters in my acting work that aren’t very similar to me.”

Needless to say, all of the experience in front of a camera combined with a passion for what she does has led to a successful career.

“I am so grateful to be able to do something I’m passionate about – that I can be 14 hours into a day of shooting and still not want the day to end,” she concluded. “I love that film and TV can transport an audience, provide an escape and change their perspective. It’s amazing to have a hand in that.”

Gioya Tuma-Waku talks importance of diversity in film Bloggers

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Gioya Tuma-Waku says being African is important to her.

Gioya Tuma-Waku was born in the Congo and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, something that she is proud of. During her career as an actress, not many roles have allowed her to explore this side of her. However, that changed when she was cast in the film Bloggers.

Bloggers tells the story of six young multinational blogging entrepreneurs who come together in Los Angeles to launch a blogging business. The main cast are all from different countries, including from Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, America, South Africa and the Congo.

“It was such a diverse and multi-cultured group. And that was one of the best parts of Bloggers, was the ability to show how diversity is possible we can all work together and create art,” said Tuma-Waku. “Which was cemented with the use of different languages spoken in the film. Especially with the issues of diversity that Hollywood is facing right now, I knew that this was a project that could break down those barriers and provide a template for where this industry could go in terms of casting and opportunities provided.”

Tuma-Waku plays the role of Destiny, a strong woman but sweet woman who dislikes confrontation and who always tried to see the good in people. She is a lover of life but is going through something major that has dimmed her light. She blogs about health and that often helps as a distraction from her personal life.

“I liked playing her because of her layers and vulnerability. And although she is facing something that frightens her, she also a strong person being able to carry this burden but at the same time, no matter is going on in her life, she is still there to comfort and be there for her friends. At the end of the day she is a reliable person because she does what needs to be done with a smile on her face despite what she is going through,” described Tuma-Waku.

The role of Destiny was written specifically for Tuma-Waku by the writer and producer Anele Morris. Morris has seen Tuma-Waku’s work and knew instantly that she wanted her to be involved in the project.

“Gioya is one of the most talented actresses I have ever met. She knows when to be centered and focused on the story being told, which is what I find sometimes lacks in young actors. Gioya is an exception, she is not easily distracted and delivers when she has to. She really knows how to execute her job as an actress because she asks questions, important questions and she takes the time to get to know the character. Her performances are always from the heart of who she believes the character is, but she is always open to direction and respects the individual roles of the production crew,” said Morris.

Morris also acts in the production, as many of the stories revolve around the female characters, something that Tuma-Waku thinks is a vital part of the production.

“This is a piece of filmmaking written by a woman telling a story about women, but without diminishing the importance of the male sex. And it’s always great to be part of a project that allows women and minorities to tell a story. Especially when it’s a story that’s not clichéd. It’s just a simple story about daily struggles that people go through while highlighting the strength in women,” said Tuma-Waku.

The film still features male leads, including Tony Beguez, who plays Destiny’s boyfriend Fred. Beguez and Tuma-Waku worked alongside each other throughout the film. Destiny’s storyline involves heartbreak and vulnerability, and Fred is a big part of that.

“I believe that in order to get better in any profession you need to surround yourself with people better than yourself, and I was given that opportunity in working with Gioya,” said Beguez. Her work ethic is incomparable.”

Bloggers is currently set to be screened at a variety of film festivals. However, for Tuma-Waku, that is not what is important, it is sharing the story that she thinks needs to be told.

“I want to tell stories that don’t always get told or manage to get told in a different way and have it mean something to someone, even if it’s in the smallest way possible. If even one person finds meaning, inspiration or gets affected by any story I’m in, then I know I’m on the right path,” she concluded. “And I feel like this could be one of those stories.”

Adversity and Success – The Unconventional Career of Tim Hauraney

By Martin Desouza 

It is undeniable that in the pursuit of a passion, adversity is inevitable. Canadian professional racecar driver Tim Hauraney came to this realization early and often in his career. No matter how fast he could drive, adversity would catch up to him around every corner, and straightaway.

Hauraney recounts several difficult situations he had been able to endure in his pursuit of becoming a professional.

In racing academy, Hauraney would spend months fixing cars for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, just to be able to test the Formula 2000 cars and sharpen his skills.

While racing in the ChampCar Atlantic Championship, Hauraney had to place high enough in each race to earn enough prize money to finance the next race.

Hauraney was even forced to sleep in the transport truck, which carried his car on a tour across North America, while competing in the Formula Renault Series (Fran-Am) – a feeder system into Formula 1.

“While other drivers were flying first class and sleeping in five star hotels, I laid my head to rest at many of the wonderful roadside truck stops across America. Truck stops are… interesting places to say the least,” Hauraney laughs.

Despite all of the challenges, nothing compared to 2008 when North America entered the worst recession in 75 years.

“I drove a rusty old 1987 Mazda 626 with no heat,” Hauraney says.

Not exactly the car you’d expect one of Canada’s most illustrious racecar drivers to use to earn a living.

“Sponsors and owners tightened their wallets, racing teams folded, and I had to find a way to earn a living. I moved home to Peterborough, Ontario and got a job delivering pizzas.” Hauraney says.

In 2008, Hauraney was a local celebrity known for driving some of the fastest, most expensive automobiles on the planet, who found himself driving a car worth $800, chasing teenagers for tips. He went on to confess that it was without a doubt the lowest point of his career.

Prior to the recession, Tim Hauraney was one of the most promising young drivers in racing.

In 2005, the Formula Ford 1600 rookie of the year found himself all over newspapers and magazines as he made his ChampCar Toyota Atlantic Debut at the Honda Indy in Toronto, his home event. Race fans knew Hauraney as an aggressive, dynamic, and calculated driver. Owners and managers knew his true strengths were in his knowledge of the cars, his attention to detail, and his ability to provide accurate feedback for his team to make adjustments on the fly. This ability was the most important characteristic that teams look for in their driver and one that helped Hauraney develop an elite reputation in the racing community.

In 2008, however, Hauraney’s abilities and reputation didn’t matter to team owners.

“Teams were looking for money, not talent. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the financial support that many other drivers had, so I was left without a team to drive for. Psychologically, It was very difficult to accept. I definitely felt that my passion for racing was fading,” Hauraney describes.

A passion that began by fixing cars with his father, and grew stronger watching the likes of Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna tear up the track on TV, was once again struck with the difficult reality that auto racing is the most expensive sport in the world.

A full season competing as a semi-professional racecar driver costs about $1,000,000, which made sponsorships, and wealthy team ownership essential.

Even though Hauraney was no longer racing, he did maintain a part-time job touring the US working for car manufacturing companies on a segment called “Editor for a Day.” He would educate consumers using his expert knowledge of cars, while they test-drove the cars on a track. The driving program was turned into a TV commercial and aired in several states.

“I played an intricate role in developing the program and the production experience added a new dimension to my career,” Hauraney says.

This experience helped Hauraney to transition when a new opportunity presented itself from an unlikely source.

Prior to Dan O’Toole becoming the news anchor for Fox Sports Live in the United States, he was the anchor for TSN in Toronto.

O’Toole is a big racing fan and a former fan of Hauraney’s. The anchor recognized that Hauraney’s racing career had slowed down as a result of the recession and he asked Hauraney if he’d ever considered applying his professional racing knowledge and experience to a role in sports media.

O’Toole recommended that Hauraney take a crash course in journalism at the Toronto College of Sports Media.

“Dan pulled me aside and pointed out that racing is a good niche for TSN which I could add value to. He knew TSN’s Formula 1 product could be better and that there was huge potential for me, and the product” Hauraney says.

As he had done so often in his career, Hauraney put his head down and worked relentlessly to learn the ins and outs of his newfound industry.

He spent months learning as much as he could about the production process, and before he knew it, he became a lead producer for TSN’s racing content, and the official racing analyst.

Hauraney has interviewed some of racing’s biggest stars including the likes of James Hinchcliffe, Nicholas Latifi, Lance Stroll, and Lewis Hamilton.

When asked how Hauraney handled the challenging transition, O’Toole says, “Tim was able to make the jump from the driver seat, to the analyst seat, without even a wobble. He brought his expertise as a racer, and delivered it to the viewer in a very digestible way. Tim not only has the ability to break down races, but also get inside the minds of the current drivers, like he did with Lewis Hamilton.”

Evidently, what seemed like an unfortunate end to a once promising career became revitalized by the perseverance of a man so committed to his craft.

These days, Hauraney continues to apply his advanced knowledge of cars as a product specialist for Ferrari and Maserati.

He also helped forge a television deal between TSN and Nissan in which he acts as the producer and star of their television commercials.

The zealous athlete turned analyst is evidence that through determination and persistence, no amount of adversity can overcome a person committed to pursuing their passion.

Senior motion designer Ilya Tselyutin’s artistry leads to dynamic opening of FINA World Championships

The opening ceremonies for any sporting event always brings out the best in the home country, from culture to talent. The opening ceremony of the 16th FINA World Aquatics Championship in Russia last year did just that, and senior motion designer Ilya Tselyutin knows this better than most.

Tselyutin worked on the Opening Ceremony of the 16th FINA World Aquatics Championships, which took place in Kazan, in his home country of Russia, on July 24th, 2015. Pilgrim, as the spectacle staged as part of the ceremony was called, was created by the Sechenov.com team, which Tselyutin worked with. The team was responsible for the idea and original scenario, design and creation of the engineering structures and scenery, selection of the performers, production of the musical and dramatic performances and organization of the Parade of Nations and other formal aspects of the Opening Ceremony.

“The whole country was getting ready to host the World Aquatics Championship and I was very excited to be a part of this project despite working remotely. I was working with a team of excellent professionals, highly skilled animators, designers, producers that had an extensive experience of creating animation for the large-scale shows including the Olympics, presidential inaugurations and international boxing tournaments,” said Tselyutin.

The show received the Sides of Theatre of Masses Award, the national highest and the most prestigious professional award in Performing arts founded by the Union of Theatre Workers of the Russian Federation. Around 50,000 people watched the Opening Ceremony at the stadium and hundred thousands of people watch the live streaming on TV. The show was broadcasted by Eurosport in European Union, BBC 2 in the UK, Channel 7 in Australia, YLE TV2 in Finland, LRT televizija in Lithuania.

Tselyutin produced the 3-minute dynamic intro animation that was played on the 6th minute of the ceremony. The animation featured a story of a sportsman swimming throughout the whole world pass popular landmarks such as Eifel Tower, Big Ben the Statue of Liberty to greet the visitors. This work required advanced keying technique in After Effects and 3D modeling and shading in Cinema 4D. This required him to learn some new advanced keying techniques in After Effects.

“I acquired an invaluable experience managing a group of 3D designers prioritizing tasks and improving my time management skills, something that would prove to be extremely helpful later on in my career,” said Tselyutin.

During his time working on the opening ceremonies, Tselyutin worked very closely with Alexey Sechenov, the production director of the ceremonies. Sechenov is a Member of the Russian Academy of Television, an Honorary Member of the Russian Academy of the Arts, and an Honoured Art Worker of the Republic of Tatarstan. Sechenov founded one of the most successful show production agencies in Russia that lists national TV Channels, artists, performers, State Federal Agencies and Ministries such as Ministry of Sport as its clients.

“Ilya is a very talented designer and was a pleasure to work with. During his 4-month contract he exhibited his outstanding design skills, extensive professional experience and strategic thinking. At the concept development stage Ilya took an initiative to go beyond what was expected of him. Not only did he understand perfectly the aesthetic of provided style references, but also devised a creative solution of integrating the world’s famous landmarks into the production pipeline, an idea that subsequently became the project’s main feature. Ilya proved to be an excellent modeler by creating 3D architectural objects of Eifel Tower, Big Ben, Louvre and other landmarks. He has an impressive ability to work efficiently under tight deadline and handled the pressure extremely well even though he had to deal with numerous edits and changes. Despite the fact Ilya was working remotely, he maintained effective communication and was easy to reach anytime. Our company is recognized as the most successful show production agency in the country and we strive to maintain the highest standards of production. Ilya can be easily credited to raise that bar of excellence,” said Sechenov.

Tselyutin found working alongside Sechenov to be a very rewarding experience. Sechenov is a very experienced producer who adheres to high standards of quality. Tselyutin describes him as very demanding yet respectful and supportive, and that he had a clear vision of the project from the very beginning but was always open to other suggestions.

“What I admired most about him was his ability to supervise the whole two-hour show preparation and never lose focus no matter what he was doing, from staging acrobatics performance to giving feedback on the 3D animation,” Tselyutin described.

Despite being very limited on time, Tselyutin’s creations for the ceremony are mesmerizing. He also overcame the challenge of rendering high resolution graphics which consumed a lot of CPU power and slowed down the process.

“I liked the general concept and interesting references given by the client. Being a small but significant part of such a show that took 4 years to develop felt really great. The show was an amazing display of high quality graphics, animation, spectacular performances, art and creativity. I felt extremely proud to work on it,” he concluded.

 

BRAZIL’S RODRIGO BRANCO BECOMES A STAR BY SUPPORTING THE FAME OF OTHERS

For all of those who proclaim television to be a detriment to one’s life, please kindly consider Rodrigo Branco. This Executive Producer/Communications Director/Social Media expert has built a life out of his work in TV. His roots in TV can be traced back to his youth, a situation that his own children are experiencing. Branco has become one of the most successful executives in his field in all of Brazil. His status is earned with years of working his way up the ladder in TV production. Having become internationally recognized for his work on multiple domestic and international productions, he most recently has turned his attention to the TV community in the US and the opportunities it affords. It’s quite a story, a young boy in Brazil who follows his dream and effects millions around the world. It proves that hard work is rewarded and there is a chance for everyone to pursue their goals no matter how unbelievable they might seem.

As a young boy in Sao Paulo, Rodrigo used to live with his grandmother while his mother (a ballet dancer) was often out on tour, working to pursue her own artistic endeavors. This situation created two prominent factors in Rodrigo’s future. First, the understanding that following a creative dream is valid and secondly, TV was a fixture of life. Branco’s grandmother was a TV fanatic to say the least. When his mother took Rodrigo with her to a TV station for a taping, the two worlds collided. As a 10-year-old, he was amazed by the environment as well as the fact that they would tape three episodes in one day. The sudden realization that every production was not live, yet seemed to be so when viewed on TV, was like discovering the secret to a magic trick. Years later, Branco would begin his own TV career on the Marcia show. This show is one of the most popular talk shows ever on Brazilian TV. Rodrigo was with the show for more than a decade and explains, “The Márcia show was my high school, college and university! I started as a trainee and eventually became the executive producer. It was the hardest, and at the same time, the most positive show I have done in my career. According to VOGUE BRASIL, Márcia is the Brazilian Oprah. I’m proud that our ratings proved that we were number 1 every day. There is no secret to achieving this; I used to work 16 hours a day from my start as a trainee and all the way up to being EP.”

Many people sacrifice their personal life to be a part of TV production, especially those who are highly successful. Branco did the opposite and made his life and career intertwined. He met his wife when he was a trainee on Marcia and has become a father while working on the show. As the EP of the show, he worked most closely with the show’s star and namesake. He notes, “Working 16 hours a day, 6 days a week; Marcia became my second mother. We spent Christmas, New Year’s Eve…all the good times and bad times together. She has the most brilliant career in Brazil and she decided to share it with me. I think this interaction is what made our work so successful!” Rodrigo’s work in particular was recognized early in his career. In 2002, he was awarded the Premio Jovem Brasileiro [Young Brazilian Award] for his work with the Marcia show (he received this award again in 2011 for his work on the Miss Universe Pageant) …at the early age of twenty years old. Branco also received the Communication Merit Award, granted by Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, Artes, Historia e Literatura (Science, Art, History and Literature Brazilian Academy) which he refers to as the greatest honor of his professional career. Marcia is known for her show being about people, their families, and struggle. She wanted an individual steering that show who was doing it for more than the money; a person who was truly passionate about the work. Marcia recognized these traits in her early interactions with Branco. She declares, ““I met Rodrigo in his first day as a trainee in TV Bandeirantes. I immediately knew he was special. A few months later, I told him he would be the executive producer of my show and in only 3 years it became true. We had a great and fruitful partnership. He is incredibly talented!”

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Besides giving Branco a literal family as well as a professional family, TV has also given him the ability to travel the world. Experiencing locations such as; Israel, Paris, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, and all the states of Brazil, have helped Rodrigo to understand how different and yet how incredibly similar the people of the world can be. In particular, his US visits have motivated him. Branco communicates, “The TV Industry in the United States is the most professional and competitive in the entire world. There is no space for amateurs there. I have hopes of working there because it would challenge me to be the best in the US. The resources and the technology in the US are the example to the world. If a professional wants to learn how to do their job better, they need to stay close to the best! Marcia was discovered by an American Director who taught her how to do TV. Nobody does TV and Entertainment better than Americans. I could see this with my own eyes at the Latin Grammys, Miss Universe, and from studying American Shows and formats. I’ve had an extraordinary career but I am only 33 years old and I want to be better and bigger.  The only way to do that is to learn from the best. My passion is t work with talent and communication not only in TV, but with social media and other formats as well.” When contemplating Rodrigo Branco’s life, it is impossible to septate his story from the inclusion of television. When discussing it, Rodrigo himself comments, “My life was built inside a TV. My childhood was spending time with my grandmother, bonding over shows and their topics. I saw my mother performing on TV and she took me ‘inside’ television for a perspective that not many people witness. I have made many of my closest friends through my work in TV, as well as meeting the woman who became my wife. Now my children understand TV because they see their father using it to provide for them as well as understanding, as my mother showed me, that you can be creative, challenged, and rewarded with that pursuit. They realize, as I do, that I am able to make the magic that we see on the screen.”