Actress Ariel Zhang captures split personalities in award-winning performance

International film festival
Ariel Zhang 

Despite being an award-winning actress, Ariel Zhang remains humble. For the Chinese native, she is just thankful to be doing what she loves each day. Audiences around the world have had the opportunity to appreciate her talents, and with each project she takes on, it shows how versatile she truly is. This was never more evident than when she shot her film Consumemate.

Consumemate tells the story of Amalthea, a writer who wants to write a perfect story, but has her own internal struggles. It shows the consequences of Amalthea losing herself in her art. She sinks into madness as she immerses herself in her drive for perfection to live in the character of Piner, the protagonist of her story. She develops a split personality and cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. Zhang played both Amalthea and Piner in the film.

“I like the theme of the project that is about success and ruin. The acme of desire is ruin, it’s difficult and important to make a balance. I believe the aim of every artist is to achieve perfection of execution. As an actress and artist, I always hope to find roles that are challenging and have perfect performances. Setting a goal is the whole life. In order to achieve that goal, I have to eliminate all the obstacles. Sometimes the obstacle is ourselves, so I start to fight with myself and seek a breakthrough,” said Zhang. “As an actress, I have to put myself into some imaginary circumstances and feel my characters. I have to have my heart open and be vulnerable. Sometimes, if I go deeply and stay in that imaginary circumstances for a long time, it can feel hard to get out. I also have a negative side in my body and feel self-denial and self-doubt. The feeling of failure is like an evil power, just like the writer Amalthea. The harder part was the ghost, Piner. She represents the dark side of people, she is like a powerful evil. I had to overcome my fears. I had to find out the dark side beyond myself.”

Although Consumemate just started its film festival run, it has already seen a lot of success, and was the winner of the Festigious International Film Competition 2017. Zhang has been recognized internationally for her outstanding performance. She won the Award of Merit – Leading Actress at the Best Shorts Competition 2017, the Festival Award – Best Actress at the Festigious International Film Festival 2017, the Bronze Award – Best Actress at the NYC Indie Film Awards, and was an Honorable Mention – Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

still of Consumemate
Ariel Zhang as Amalthea in Consumemate

“When we were working on the first steps of rehearsals of this film, I thought this could be a great movie, so I gave my best, as everyone did. The fact that this film is doing so well on an international level is something that makes me feel really proud, and inspires me to keep working hard, because every victory means more and more work,” said Zhang. “It was fun and challenging having two different characters in the same movie. They were so opposite that I really needed my space and to work with each of them, and the director and the rest of the crew were really helpful about that.”

The success of the film truly came down to Zhang, as she had to fully capture both of the characters she had created. The director, Jun Xia, says he cannot imagine any other actress for Consumemate other than Zhang, and her acting in the film was complete perfection.

“Ariel nailed every single scene. Her understanding of the character and her journey was 110 per cent accurate, and even more important, believable. And for sure, she can make a project awesome just by having her as part of it. She has such a high level of professionalism as an actress. Also, the fact that she can deliver any emotion on screen completely real, makes the product basically perfect. She understands and works the character of the film as much as the director, so they end up giving life to any single detail of the film,” said Jun Xia, the director of the film.

In addition to being the lead actress, Zhang also wrote the film. Her idea to create the two characters were to create contrasts between them. She says the challenge is not only that the two characters have totally different personality characteristics, but they also live in different times. She was seeking to find different characteristics for each character. To do this, she explored the symptoms in schizophrenic patients, ensuring the feel was believable and raw. To set up the tone of ancient people, she also read a lot of ancient literature and watched many ancient themed movies. She truly wanted to explore more details to create a believable and truthful performance.

“After I created the two characters and the story, I also learned a lot of things from my characters. In a personal aspect, I learned that I need to appreciate the imperfect self, imperfect art and imperfect life. In a professional aspect, I found deeper areas of both myself and my role. I learned how to use acting skills and techniques to create characters, and not just playing myself. I knew more about my capability which will help me with developing different types of characters and different genres of films,” Zhang described.

Consumemate has been officially selected for the Los Angeles CineFest and Digital Griffix Online Film Festival, and there is no doubt that Zhang’s performance will once again be appreciated by those audiences, and many more.

Production Coordinator Victoria Marino Makes Shooting in Brazil Easy for Foreign Productions

Production Coordinator Victoria Marino
Production Coordinator Victoria Marino

Whether it be from Hollywood or any other country for that matter, when a production decides to shoot in a foreign country it’s imperative to have a strong production coordinator on the ground who’s familiar with the country they’re on location in to make things flow as seamlessly as possible. That’s where Brazilian production coordinator Victoria Marino comes in.

For several years now she’s been the production coordinator for high profile foreign productions who’ve gone on location throughout Brazil, including the Discovery Channel’s new series “The Wheel” and the network’s upcoming series “72 Dangerous Animals: Latin America” produced by the Australian production company Showrunner Productions Inc., the popular “UFC Embedded: Vlog Series” and “Road to the Octagon 24,” season two of the MTV series “Catfish: The TV Show Brazil” and more.

Over the years Victoria has accrued extensive experience in the film and television industry taking on practically every behind the scenes role imaginable, including working as a producer on the film “Goodnight Willy,” which screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Court Metrage, and many others as an assistant director, production manager and assistant editor. The wide scope of her work and inside knowledge of how each department functions best, combined with her expansive contact list, are a few of the reasons that she’s become such a sought after production coordinator.

Last year Victoria was tapped to come on board as the lead production coordinator at Figura Media aka Brazilian Production Services, whose clients include industry giants such as Netflix, Disney, Marvel, Google, Fox, UFC, MTV and Discovery Channel.

About what drew her to join Figura Media, Victoria explains, “Being a Brazilian living in the United States, I was happy to find a production services company that specializes in providing production infrastructure to foreign clients filming projects in Brazil. This was the perfect position for me, because it gave me the chance to use my cultural Brazilian background combined with my production experience and knowledge of American client-handling.”

Her key role at the company has placed her in the lead as the coordinator on a long list of film and television shoots, as well as branded content, such as a recent project for the Wallpaper* Magazine and Pullman Hotels Global Nomad series, a series of films aimed at helping the sophisticated world explorer navigate the planet’s hottest cities.

As the production coordinator for the second edition of the series, which focused on São Paulo, Brazil, Victoria led the film crew around the city and ensured that the production ran smooth and nailed the client’s desires.

“For this project, our client had high ambitions in terms of the artistic look of the project, but a limited budget to accomplish it, so one of the main aspects of the production was to find creative solutions to make a beautiful film within the budget that we had,” explains Victoria.

“We were shooting at several different locations in São Paulo, so I personally negotiated location fees for each of them. I also had to find a crew that was ideal for the project, and coordinate all the other aspects of the production. At the end of the day, our client was really satisfied with the final project, and I was really proud of pulling off that production within the constraints that we had.”

Another project where Victoria’s skill and Brazilian familiarity proved her to be an invaluable asset as the production coordinator was on the docuseries “72 Dangerous Animals Latin America” produced by Showrunner Productions. The second edition in the “72 Dangerous Animals” series, the first of which aired on Netflix, the Latin American edition brings viewers up close and personal with the continent’s most deadly creatures.

Considering that many of those animals live in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, having someone who not only knows the local film crews and culture, but also the often treacherous terrain was imperative to a successful shoot.  

Carolyn Bertram, Senior Producer at Showrunner Productions, says, “In the production of a 12 episodes of a 1 hour international broadcast series, Victoria helped me navigate a minefield of challenging situations, and extreme locations… the guidance, help and expertise she added to our production, has enabled us achieve a much higher standard of content than we had dared hope for.”

Leading the way as a top production coordinator in Brazil, it will come as no surprise that more and more productions specifically request her to join their team on location in South America. Next up, Victoria Marino will be production coordinating the upcoming MMA documentary “Fightworld” for Netflix starring Frank Grillo, as well as an episode of NBC’s “The Voyager with Josh Garcia” in Rio de Janeiro.