DIRECTOR ALEXANDRA LA ROCHE ON HAVING FUN WITH EUREKA

Science and Tech nerds are the new rockstars. There was a time when the brains behind these types of advancements were kept hidden away while the powers that be put a public face on those they deemed marketable. Carl Sagan, Steve Jobs, and many others completely changed that. Sci-Fi Channel’s “Eureka” presented the idea of an entire community of these brilliant minds. The Emmy nominated and Leo award-winning TV show was a ratings hit during its six year run as one of Sci Fi’s highest rated series. One of the brilliant minds behind the scenes of “Eureka” was director Alexandra La Roche. The writers of the series are self-proclaimed science geeks who structured many of their themes on real or postulated science. This coupled with the show’s heavy oversight by actual science consultants not only informed La Roche but required her to be on her toes. In contrast to the normal greed, sex, and ensuing power struggle, “Eureka” episodes presented conflict of a more cerebral nature. Alexandra concedes that it’s one of the most unusual and fun shows she has ever directed precisely due to this aspect.

“Eureka” is the story of a scientific community, in large part based on the perspective of the town’s sheriff Jack Carter. Carter cooperates with scientific geniuses in the community who work for Global Dynamics. They often find approaches to resolving situations that require more cerebral effort than “stop in the name of the law.” A perfect example of this is “Up in the air.” This episode was based on the opening sequence of the show which depicts the town floating away as the Sheriff watches. The opening had never been explored as a story before. What seemingly starts out as a normal bank robbery quickly became a situation in which the entire bank had been taken, the whole building! An element of the Higgs Bosen (based on real science) has been stored in the bank and somehow is effecting everything in the town. Carter is tasked with having to get the element contained and bring everything back to earth. Unfortunately, the bank is floating 4 miles above the earth and nothing can fly him there. He does make it, but the bank is on a terrible tilt and when he does get the element contained, the bank starts to plummet, listing back and forth and sending him in all directions with amazing physical comedy from Carter, played by Colin Ferguson. The day is saved at the last minute and order is restored. Even though “Up in the air” employed extensive use of VFX and filming trickery to make the scenes believable, Alexandra believes that the performances of the actors are the cornerstone to any production. For this particular episode, the physical comedy performed by Colin Ferguson (starring as sheriff Jack Carter) due to the gravity challenged nature of the situation was a high note (no pun intended). On working with La Roche, Ferguson proclaims, “Alexandra is one of, if not the best, director I have ever worked with.
I think it is fair to say that I have a deep understanding and appreciation for Alexandra’s talent. When we worked together, we worked in tandem to improve, correct, defend, and in short, save eighty plus hours of television from lesser hands than hers. She has the rare ability to follow the story, hear the actors, know the technical, and bring it all together in a manner that gets better, quantifiable results, faster than most, and in the form that others only dream they could achieve. This is exceptional. She always helped. She was never wrong. Not once. Our show had the quality that it did because of Alexandra La Roche. When I am asked by someone which episodes to watch to see if they will like I show I always say ‘Up in the Air’ or ‘Smarter Carter’, both of which are Alexandra’s episodes. She is an ally, she is a friend and she is someone I will always look up to.” Perhaps the reason that Alexandra is so respected and appreciated by the actors she works with is due to her honesty with them. She stipulates, “I had an excellent rapport with all the actors on ‘Eureka.’ Our deal was simple; I did not lie. If Colin wanted an honest opinion, he knew he would get it from me. Actors are so used to smoke being blown up their asses, they were really quite happy for me to say what I really thought. Of course, I never approach any situation with a negative. If I see a problem, I only mention it if I have a solution or proposal on how to solve it. This is what I know endeared me to the entire cast, with a particularly close working relationship with Colin as he trusted me implicitly.”

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One of La Roche’s favorite experiences directing for Eureka was the episode “Smarter Carter.” It combined many of the elements that were so endearing about the series: science, VFX, and comedic performances. A confrontation between sheriff Carter and two disembodied legs in the town square was a scene which Alexandra had conceived of herself. Kevin Blake (played by Trevor Jackson) and the sheriff square off with the legs in an attempt to capture them. The director describes, “It was written as a simple chase through the town square ending in a crash into the café patio. Parkour was just getting really popular so I expanded the scene and created a sequence where the legs jump, leap, and hang all over the town square ending up with Carter pinned in a head lock. This was a massive sequence and I had to call out to the actors every beat and every move because the legs were all CGI.  I had no voice left by lunch!! We had to use green screen elements as well. It took 7 hours to shoot, but it was a great scene, very funny and well worth it.” These situations give evidence that La Roche had a deep understanding of the personality the producers wanted “Eureka” to project. While executing these scenes can be taxing and stressful, the final result was well worth it. Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 8.58.16 AM

While “Eureka” left a lasting impression on its fans and science nerds everywhere, the road is two-way. Alexandra admits that to this day that she gravitates towards science magazines on plane rides and whenever she has free time. The experience working on “Eureka” led not only to many more professional opportunities (La Roche has directed CW’s “Flash”, USA network’s “Dead Zone”, and many others) but left her with a lifelong interest in science. Sometimes the conduit for learning resides in unobvious means.

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Gisele Goes went from writing letters to producing content for the world’s biggest brands

When Gisele Goes was just a child growing up in Brazil, she moved around a lot. Going from city to city, she began writing letters to keep in touch with her friends. Eventually, as the internet became more readily available, she transitioned to more modern methods of communication, like email, blog posts, and social media. This gave her the foundation for what she would then need later in life. Now, she is an internationally sought-after content producer and writer.

Goes has an esteemed reputation, with an outstanding career doing what she does best. She has worked with several large companies, creating content to help boost, restore, and promote brands. Not only does she create such content, but she is also responsible for providing a strategy behind it, and how the message will be distributed to different outlets/channels. That includes press releases, blog posts, social posts, video content, event marketing and any type of asset that is part of the overall strategy.

“It is important to have a good understanding on what kind of role content plays for each brand or service. There are so many different channels to explore nowadays and so much content that you need to be able to identify the best strategy to make your name stand out and how to increase brand awareness,” Goes explained.

More recently, Goes has been doing just that with Wpromote, a digital agency with sixteen years of experience. It was elected one of the best places to work in the United States twice and has offices in Dallas, Chicago, NY, SF, LA, and more. Since starting with the agency in March of this year, Goes’ job is to manage and oversee content strategies for some of Wpromote’s clients. Wpromote has been growing in the United States, and expanding internationally is definitely something they want to pursue. Goes’ background in different content initiatives and international expansions makes her a great asset for that expansion plan, and she has been helping improve this process.

“Wpromote is an amazing agency and I’ve heard so many cool things about it. Not only the culture of the company but their reputation for being the “Challenger” agency, it sounded a lot like me,” she Goes. “It’s been only a few months but I’m really excited to move forward with the projects I have upcoming here and make Wpromote global.”

Some of Goes’ current clients include major companies like Shutterstock, RoadRunner Sports, Imprivata, Minnetonka Moccasin, and more. Her international perspective and the way she worked with Content before, such as the mega popular Asian company Meitu, is definitely essential to do a good work for Wpromote.

“It’s always amazing to see the work you do coming to life. Establishing good relationship with the clients, their teams and being able to present all those results is really rewarding. Also, being able to bring something new to an amazing company like Wpromote makes me so happy. I know I have a lot to add and I know that I’m valued as a professional,” she said.

Her team is made up of professionals with varied backgrounds, but with Goes’ experience with launching a product and working for a global company allows her to look at things from a bigger perspective. To be able to establish effective process around content production, put together solid strategies with a great sense of direction, and attach important KPI’s to measure the actual impact of the content in the goals she is already beginning to achieve make her essential to the company’s success.

“I worked with Gisele to develop an international content marketing presentation from the ground-up. We collaborated on this project from the ideation process to detailing how we would implement and execute the strategies, which we later presented to a board of directors. Currently we are continuing to further develop and grow this exciting, new offering at Wpromote,” said Ana Vila, Content Marketing Manager with Wpromote. “Working with Gisele is an absolute pleasure; she brings unique ideas to the table with a fresh perspective backed by relevant previous experiences, data and trends. She’s able to convert ideas from a stream of consciousness to actionable next steps. Gisele’s diverse life and work experience positively contribute to her successful, multifaceted approach to content creation and building strategies.”

Unlike her previous projects, working with Wpromote allows Goes to manage content for a large variety of clients rather than focusing on just one. For many, this task would be almost impossible, but for Goes, it is a refreshing change. It’s a fast paced, dynamic environment but is great to expand different content initiatives and align them with different business goals. Most of the decisions are directly related to business goals and how they can achieve them as a team, some accounts have more than one service here, and it allows everything to be very integrated, making Goes’ job much more interesting.

“Everything is super flexible and the main goal is to achieve our client’s business through powerful and unique content – regardless of what distribution channel or type of content. We cover it all,” Goes described. “I like the fast-paced environment and I love being able to “switch” mindsets every day since all my clients are so different from each other. It’s also great to be in contact with people from other industries that come from a different background. And because Wpromote has such a strong internal culture it’s amazing to feel part of the team and being able to bring my international experience to the Content team and optimize our strategies in order to grow the company and achieve its goals.”

No matter who she is working with, whether it be her clients or her teammates, Goes impresses. Her vast range of knowledge caters perfectly to the goals she aims to achieve with Wpromote, and Jessica Anguiano, a Content Marketing Manager for the agency, is continuously impressed.

Gisele and I have worked together on developing digital campaign strategies for a number of clients ranging in size and budget. Working with Gisele is fantastic. She is a wonderful teammate and I know I can always rely on her. Above all else, the positivity and optimism she brings to situations is such a breath of fresh air. Gisele is extremely dedicated to her career and clients. She’s extremely passionate about everything she does and it is reflected in her high-quality of work. She is never afraid to tackle big projects and consistently develops out of the box ideas and campaigns, never hesitating to go above and beyond,” said Anguiano.

Goes’ dedication to her work combined with her innate talent have skyrocketed her career, allowing people all over the world to see why she is considered one of the leaders in her field.

Award-winning photographer Jennifer Roberts is one to watch

When Jennifer Roberts was just a child, she was always taking photos on her mother’s camera. She loved looking at them. Whenever she would go on a trip, she would take that camera and capture everything she saw. At the time, photography was just a hobby, but as years passed she realized she could turn what she loved into a career.

Roberts is now an internationally sought-after photographer, with an esteemed resume that has earned her the reputation as one of Canada’s best. She has shot for the world-renowned Wall Street Journal, and The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s largest newspapers, as well as magazines like Canadian Business and Moneysense. She is an award-winning photographer, and her shots for Getty last year featuring Academy Award winning actress Michelle Williams received won a 2017 Applied Arts Annual for Best Portrait, and was nominated for a Communication Arts Award.

“I would say my style is very natural looking but also has a nice polished edge. I like using light in a natural looking way and always try to make sure any artificial light doesn’t look too source-y. Depending on who I’m photographing I’ll decide how much direction to give. I find that when shooting actors and actresses, they don’t need much direction. They’ll know their best angles and be able to provide a lot of interesting poses. If there is a specific angle for the story or tone then I’m happy to provide a little direction. If someone isn’t familiar with being in front of the camera then I’m happy to give some direction so they’ll feel more comfortable,” Roberts described.

Recently, Roberts has shot features for Canada’s largest and leading news magazine Maclean’s, founded in 1905. The magazine has published the work of Canada’s top photographers and photojournalists, including Roberts.

“It was a career goal of mine to be a contributor to the magazine. Working on Maclean’s stories are always really interesting. The topics are very timely and relevant. The art department leaves the photographer with lots of room to be creative and they like the photographer to provide lots of options. It’s also great to know that the end product will be seen around the country,” she said.

Shooting for Maclean’s, Roberts has done very high-profile projects, often being commissioned to shoot subjects with sensitive subject matter. One of these pieces was shooting a critical piece about Dr. Darryl Gebien, titled “How fentanyl turned an ER doctor into an addict.” Dr. Gebien was a former drug addict, also being charged with illegally prescribing fentanyl. Roberts did a portrait shoot with him in his home and she had to be extremely gentle with him as he was really worried about being photographed. In the end, Roberts had captured a beautiful series of photos of Dr. Gerbien that really spoke to his personal struggles.

She also photographed internationally renowned artist Ed Burtynsky, for a profile on his career as an artist. When shooting the Ed Burtynsky, she was on a super tight timeline and small window of opportunity with Burtynsky, but she was able to photograph beautiful studio portraits that really captured the mood and tone of the story.

Another feature included shooting Kristine Johnston and her husband Jimmie Johnston for a piece on Alzheimer’s and Assisted Suicide in Canada. Roberts says she had to be very delicate and gentle in such a sensitive situation. Jimmie Johnston was suffering from Alzheimer’s and was seeking the right for assisted suicide.

Later, she a story following NDP Leadership Candidate, MPP Jagmeet Singh. This was no easy documentary piece, as she had to photograph him while he went about his day in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. She also shot a portrait of Giller Prize and Governor General Literacy Award Nominee Gary Barwin, and worked as a freelance photo editor at Maclean’s Magazine 4.

“As a photo editor and producer, I’ve hired Jennifer countless times over the past five years for photography assignments in Maclean’s, Canadian Business, MoneySense and Tourism Toronto. She continually delivers the best quality of work and exceeds my expectations with every assignment, whether shooting portraits, food or reportage. I have found her to be versatile in her photographic ability, resourceful in difficult situations that may present itself on a shoot, highly creative in her approach, and always reliable. I can say with confidence that she is a well-respected and established photographer in the industry and among her peers,” said Kayla Chobotuik, a Canadian Business Editor.

What was, however, the most influential of Robert’s work for Maclean’s was her feature for the social movement Black Lives Matter. The shoot from demonstration won international Applied Arts Award for Best Documentary photo and was a nominee for an international Communication Arts Award. It demonstrates great documentary ability as Roberts was originally commissioned to shoot a Pride Parade, but when the protest broke out, she was able to capture award winning photos of the event.

“When I won the Applied Arts Award for the Black Lives Matter photo I was really excited that more attention would be given to the issue. By winning that award and being nominated for a Communication Arts award I knew even more people would have the opportunity to see an image from their demonstration. I was also really proud that the photo was being recognized as award worthy,” said Roberts.

With such innate talent, there is little doubt as to why Roberts receives the accolades she does. She is definitely one to watch for.

Dancer Ivan Prokhiro talks dancing with Cher at the BBMAs

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Ivan Prokhiro, photo by WanderlustCreatives

When Ivan Prokhiro was just five years old, he saw something that changed the course of his life forever. It was Michael Jackson’s hit music video for Smooth Criminal. At the time, watching the screen, captivated by Jackson’s ability to dance, Prokhiro made the decision that would determine his future. He wanted to be able to do what he saw on screen. He wanted to be a dancer, and he wanted to be on stage. That was his first inspiration, and since that moment, that is exactly what Prokhiro has done: dance.

Now, Prokhiro is an internationally renowned professional dancer, with an outstanding career. He danced on the summer and Halloween shows for Knotts Berry Farm, worked on E-Plus Productions New Year’s Eve shows two years in a row, was Erica Jayne’s back-up dancer in the Fort Lauderdale Pride Parade, and just this year he danced alongside pop-sensation Katy Perry at the Grammy’s one of the world’s largest stages. His talent is evident from the moment he steps on stage.

“I first met Ivan on a project I was assisting on. He was a dancer for a choreographer’s So You Think You Can Dance submission. Since then, I have had the pleasure of hiring Ivan for four productions including: two Hallowe’en spook-tacular’s for Thee Mistress of the Dark herself, Elvira. Elvira’s Asylum & Elvira’s Danse Macabre both at Knott’s Scary Farm were very well reviewed & received shows. In addition to theses, Ivan has performed in the summer circus show that has now run for two seasons at Knott’s Berry Farm, the Circus of Wonders,” said Melena Rounis. “It is such a pleasure to work with an artist like Ivan. He is so professional and hardworking, always willing to go the extra mile which is a choreographer’s dream! He is uninhibited and passionate about his craft and his work. Ivan takes great pride in everything he does and it shows in rehearsals transcending to the stage when he is in front of an audience. He has given so much to the many audience members in the multitude of shows he has performed in and had the opportunity to touch. I look forward to creating on and with him every time I have the opportunity. Ivan’s work ethic, focus and knowledge of various dance styles truly sets him apart from the masses. He is a quality artist and I am fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of working with him on so many diverse projects over the past couple years.”

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Ivan Prokhiro, photo by Oleg Leshonok

Earlier this year, Prokhiro dazzled the world once again when he danced at the Billboard Music Awards with none other than Cher. The choreographer, Denise Faye, had previously met Prokhiro at an audition for a different show in Las Vegas. She remembered Prokhiro from that audition and asked him to be a part of the BBMA performance, knowing Cher needed to be accompanied by the best dancers possible.

“It was amazing to get so huge of a project without any auditions,” Prokhiro described. “It’s one of the biggest awards show. Also, it’s the greatest place to perform, the T-mobile Arena in Las Vegas. And, of course, to dance as a backup dancer for Cher is huge honor.”

The Billboard Music Awards premiere on May 21, 2017, and was watched by millions in America on ABC, and different stations around the world. The cast for Cher’s performance was seven boys and seven girls, but only two dancers were selected that were outside of Cher’s residency Vegas show. Prokhiro was one of them.

“It was a big responsibility to perform in front of this audience, which were mostly celebrities. A lot of cameras around made me excited and a little bit nervous. Working with Cher inspired me a lot. I saw her during rehearsals, she is a great example how humble and hardworking an artist should be. She is an icon of pop-industry, I learned a lot from our week of rehearsals,” said Prokhiro. “All my friends were so jealous.”

Prokhiro and the rest of the dancers accompanied Cher on her hit single “Believe” and were considered to be one of the best performances in the show. Prokhiro’s dancing was a large part of the success. He spent time studying Cher’s performances before the show, and went to her residency show in Las Vegas three times, saying once was not enough. Each time, he learned something new about how she worked.

“I was feeling a huge responsibility because I knew it was a live stream on TV. You do not have a chance to make any mistakes. You know that all eyes stare at you, and you need to be a star as Cher as an equal. I got a lot of feedbacks about this project. My friends and family watched this performance, some of them even didn’t know about it, and saw it randomly on television, which made it more exciting for them,” he said.

The performance was show stopping, and Prokhiro’s commitment and talent were evident to all who watched, as they are with every performance he does. There is no doubt why he has conquered the dancing industry in Russia, and is on his way to conquering the world.

Featured Model: UK Bombshell Alice Phillips

Hailing from Hertfordshire, England blonde bombshell Alice Phillips began her modeling career a little over three years ago when she was scouted by Anne Tilby, a UK-based artist who was collaborating with a London designer, and was immediately attracted to Alice’s look and asked her to model for their project.

In the years since that fated encounter, Alice’s presence as a model has grown exponentially; and with her flawless fair skin, mesmerizing blue eyes, pouty lips and perfect blonde hair, it’s no wonder why. The girl is a knock out!  

She has a unique way of exuding the type of appeal that says girl-next-door and sexy vixen all at the same time, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if she get’s tapped to become a Victoria’s Secret angel in the very near future.

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Model Alice Phillips featured in the Sept. 2015 edition of Hello! magazine

Early in her career Alice was featured in the September 2015 issue of Hello! Magazine, one of the UK’s most popular magazines specializing in celebrity news. Alice, who was featured in a prominent beauty editorial for the magazine, shot with internationally known photographer Bjoern Kommerell, who’s known globally for his shots of celebrity icons such as Elton John, Danny Trejo, Ashton Kutcher and many more household names. Wearing very little make-up, Alice looks natural, calm and graceful, creating a striking yet relatable look that easily caught the attention of the magazine’s readers.

Since she got her start in the industry Alice has made a name for herself as a uniquely versatile model. Over the years she’s been the center focus for a plethora of ads and magazines back home, but her appeal has definitely extended beyond the borders of the UK.

Brands across the world have continued to seek her out to be their featured face in a long list of campaigns, editorials and billboards, including those for companies in the U.S. such as New Yorker’s Apparel. Being chosen to model for New Yorker’s Apparel– arguably the largest women’s wear wholesaler in the U.S., Alice appeared on several billboards and print ads distributed across Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas earlier this year. Alice’s slim figure and dynamic look made her the perfect model to wear a variety of styles for New Yorker’s Apparel including everything from upscale evening dresses to sleek and fitted casual wear; and not surprising in the least to anyone who’s seen her work, she looked stunning in them all.

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Alice Phillips in a print ad for New Yorker’s Apparel

Earlier on in her career that same versatility that landed Alice a coveted position as New Yorker’s Apparel’s featured model caught the attention of Goals Boutique, a popular UK clothing store. In 2015 Alice shot a series of photos for Goals Boutique that were featured on the company’s website and were integral to driving sales. For Goals Boutique Alice exhibited more of a sexy sultry look, one where her ability to take on different poses without looking ‘forced’ was essential to making each outfit look hot, which was the key vibe the company was going for.

Though Alice’s physique and natural talent for adapting her look to fit whatever attitude the client is trying to achieve has made her a sought after model for a range of clothing, over the years she has also be tapped to model for several make-up companies.

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Model Alice Phillips for Jessica White Cosmetics

Her strong cheekbones, voluminous pouty lips, and perfect nose caught the attention of Sports Illustrated supermodel Jessica White earlier this year who cast Alice to model her new line of lipsticks in Paris for her company Jessica White Cosmetics. At 22-years-old, UK-based model Alice Phillips is in hot demand; and with a naturally youthful look, she definitely has a long and fruitful career ahead of her.

Actress Sunny Koll’s comedic chops on full display in award-winning series ‘Flat Whites’

Sunny Koll always knew she was meant to be an entertainer. Growing up in Adelaide, Australia, Koll always felt at home on a stage. However, from the age of 13, she pursued a singing career. Never did she picture herself becoming an actress, but one fateful day she decided to take acting lessons, and she quickly realized she had a passion for it. Now, years later, she is a sought-after actress all over the world.

Around Australia, Koll’s face is instantly recognizable from both the big and small screen. She has worked on several popular commercials, the award-winning series Traffik, the anti-cyberbullying film Zach’s Story, and many more. She is extremely versatile, going from different genres and perfectly embodying the characters she is playing. In the critically-acclaimed television series Flat Whites, Koll’s skills at playing a comedic role are more than evident.

Flat Whites was so much fun. It was my first indie job and I loved every minute. The crew were up for trying new techniques and ideas and it paid off,” said Koll.

Flat Whites follows the lives of best friends Phil and Luc in their endeavors to meet the perfect girl and fall in love, all the while willing to sacrifice their friendship if the chance of romance appears. The show was extremely popular, winning the Producing Award for a Comedy Series, Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Music Production in a Comedy Series, and Supporting Actor in a Comedy series at the LA WebFest. It also went on to be an Official Selection at the Hollyweb Festival and an Official Selection at the Pollygrind Film Festival in 2012. The show premiered as a web series and then because of its success, went on to air on three TV stations in Australia.

“It’s brilliant that the show has been so successful. Max Orter and the rest of the cast and crew deserve so much success. I’m really very happy everyone’s getting acknowledged for their work,” said Koll.

In the series, Koll played Stacy, the female lead in the episode Phil and Luc. Both Phil and Luc try to pick Stacy up, which causes an altercation with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend injures Luc, which forces Stacy to break up with him. She then takes Phil and Luc back to her place to tend to Luc’s injuries, only to discover it’s all been a ploy to win her over. Finally, Stacy throws them both out of her house.

“It was a very funny script. Two boys want to meet girls but they have the same taste and always end up falling for the same girl. They then sacrifice their friendship in order to win the girl over, only to both lose the girl and end up back at square one. It’s an oldie but a goodie,” said Koll.

Koll was asked to be a part of the show by the Producer, Director, and Co-writer Max Orter. Koll wanted to be involved, as she thought it sounded like a fun production, and contacted Orter. He was very impressed with Koll’s abilities and commitment to the project, and immediately requested she take the role of Stacy.

Working with Sunny is the perfect experience of working with a professional actor. She’s a very warm personality and gets along with all cast and crew. She also has an infectious smile and knows how to have a joke. Sunny is amazing to have on set. She puts in the time and effort to be as good as she possible can. She’s always well prepared and will do whatever it takes to make the production the best it can be,” said Orter.

Koll’s acting was so believable, in fact, that at one point during filming, spectators in the park did not realize there was a television set filming a fight scene, but rather an actual fight. During shooting, four men raced over to protect Koll.

“I still don’t know how they missed the cameras and the sound gear, but it was a very nice gesture on their behalf,” Koll laughed.

Koll’s portrayal of Stacy was extremely popular with viewers, and although the series ended in 2012, it is still considered a great episode. Koll has the ability to remain in the minds of viewers, bringing an authenticity that connects with audiences. This is exactly what she did for Flat Whites, and what she does for every role she takes on. It is no doubt why she is considered one of the best, and why audiences worldwide can expect to see her face on both the big and small screen for years to come.

Photo by Daniel Guerra

Producer Sonia Bajaj talks new film ‘A Broken Egg’

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Producer/Director Sonia Bajaj

Sonia Bajaj was born in the city of Mumbai, India, the birthplace of Bollywood. Living in the film capital, she was exposed to films from a very young age. This interest sparked something in her, and Bajaj knew watching films was not enough, she had to make them. She wanted to tell stories, and share with the world the ones she knew needed to be told. Now, she is recognized not just in India, but also internationally for her talent, and is a sought-after director and producer.

While working on films like Rose, Hari, The Best Photograph, Bekah and Impossible Love, Bajaj has earned the reputation as an outstanding filmmaker. Bajaj always had a talent for producing. Her father is a businessman who has dealt with paperwork all his life. At times, she would help him out and during that process; she began to learn the basics of business, and therefore, the basics of producing.

“I’ve always been a good manager of time, deadline serious, and most importantly a team player as well as a leader. My goals are well defined before me and I seldom deviate from them. My experience handling paperwork, education and a creative mind inclined me towards becoming a Producer,” said Bajaj.

Bajaj’s producing instincts are evident in the new film A Broken Egg. It tells the story of a dysfunctional family that go through varied emotions over dinner due to the recent discovery of their teen daughter being pregnant. The entire film takes place during a family dinner scene.

“This meant that we had no location changes and had to film in a tight space for two days. It was a unique experience to have the beginning, middle and end of a film over the course of dinner. A Production like A Broken Egg is not a traditional style of filmmaking, making the project exciting and different. That’s why I wanted to work on this project,” said Bajaj. “Teenage pregnancy is quite prominent in the United States. Our goal was to make a film that showcases the after effects of teenage pregnancy from the eyes of the teenager as well as the family members, all together under one roof.”

The film premiered in June 2017 at the California International Shorts Festival in Los Angeles, and has since gone on to be an Official Selection at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival, UK Monthly Film Festival, and the Festival de Cannes Short Corner. It was a semi-finalist at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, and the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, and won the Bronze Award at the NYC Indie Film Awards, and the Gold Award at the Mindfield Film Festival. None of this could have been achieved without Bajaj’s producing savvy.

“Our goal was to create a voice for teenage pregnancy, a film that is relatable to teenagers and families, alike. We’re thrilled with the response the film was received so far and would love to see what happens next,” she said.

With Director Tushar Tyagi and Actor Lainee Rhodes on A Broken Egg Production Still
Actor Lainee Rhodes, Director Tushar Tyagi, and Producer Sonia Bajaj on set of A Broken Egg

Despite some budget constraints, Bajaj made sure there was still high production quality. Due to her experience producing and directing varied short films, she managed to get most of the crew work on minimum wage daily, which helped to secure a great camera and actors, leading to a successful completion of the production. They only had one day of rehearsals and two days of filming available, which meant that Bajaj had to make important decisions quickly, be on her feet at all times, and make sure that there was clear communication maintained throughout. Not many could pull off such a feat, but Bajaj’s ability to take risks and make swift decisions made her perfect for the job. The Director of the film, Tushar Tyagi, knew she would be able to make his film a success, as he had seen her work on the film Rose.

“No matter the budget level, Sonia has always been able to elevate the production to the highest standards. Whenever there’s been an issue, she’s been quick to resolve it without any setbacks to the schedule.  She is enthusiastic, a positive thinker and has a go-getter attitude,” said Tyagi. “Sonia has a fresh take on the stories she directs. Her style of directing is innovative, powerful and thought provoking. As a Producer, she is the foremost leader in every project she takes on. That’s why all her projects have enjoyed a great deal of success in film festivals both in the U.S. and globally.”

There is no doubt that A Broken Egg will continue to have success as it makes its way to more film festivals this year. For Bajaj, however, that is not why she loves what she does. The accolades and the awards don’t matter as much as getting to do what she is passionate about.

“Being a producer requires a lot of patience as you see through a production from the very beginning to right until the end. It gives one a chance to interact with different cultures, creativities and mindsets from all over the world. I enjoy this amalgamation of creative and business, and that’s why I like being a Producer,” she concluded.

SOCIAL MEDIA PRODUCER EZGI EREN: MAKING DREAM COME TRUE

Social Media; it’s intimidating and sometimes confusing to older generations and the thought of being without is unthinkable to younger generations. Your interpretation of it and its prevalence in your life is somewhat delineating and defining of your generation en masse. Social Media producer/manager Ezgi Eren is right in the sweet spot of Social Media (SM) and the idea of online interaction. Forgive the pun but she seems to be hardwired to achieve in the industry. She grew up in Izmir on the west coast of Turkey and used Myspace to connect with others worldwide about her interest in music, fashion, and creativity. A self-described shy young girl, being online empowered her with an ease of sharing thoughts and ideas. These days you’ll find Eren shuffling back and forth between her two modern day home cities of New York and Los Angeles conducting her work with clients and growing their brands with her SM skills. Her early interest and embrace of SM and its ability to connect with others for a variety of ends has served both Eren and those she works with quite well.

Dreaming has always been a part of Ezgi’s formula for life. While attending university she had thought she would be pursuing a role in music management, working with famous musicians from around the world. Her intuitive nature working with SM would lead to a redirecting opportunity. She recalls, “I was 20 when I started an internship at Opening Ceremony Web. I applied when I was still in Turkey. At that point going to New York was still a pipe dream but I ended up having a few Skype interviews and got the job; they even waited over a month for me to get my visa. My official title was Online Marketing and Social Media Intern. I worked directly with the Social Media manager and I learned a lot from her. I started out with compiling FB albums with the brand’s press mentions and later got to help with insights and analytics to figure out which posts work best on all social channels. I learned a lot about insights during this internship. I tracked all stats on google analytics and presented these to the whole team once a month. It was terrifying as an intern but I’m so grateful I got to do it as it made me so much better at public speaking.” Once again, SM helped a somewhat shy Ezgi break out of her shell.

Eren’s skills became so adept that she was recognized and hired to work as a social media manager to celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, whose social media presence is almost as well-known as her famous hair styles! Atkin was chosen Creative Influencer of the Year in 2016 by WWD. “Jen Atkin has always been one of my professional inspirations. I think she was one of the first people who was relatable on social media without even trying. She just makes her followers feel like they’re on her journey with her and I think that’s a powerful connection to establish. It’s such an honor to work as a social media manager to one of my ultimate social media she-roes!” notes Eren.

 

Ezgi is also most recently working on a new segment for Whitney Casey’s company Finery. Finer  is a highly interactive web based system for organizing, styling, and management of one’s wardrobe. It’s yet another indicator how people are using online methods to cultivate organization and style. Ezgi was brought on as Finery’s social media producer/manager shortly after the company’s conception in 2016. Casey (CEO & Founder of Finery) states, “It was important for us to have a social media manager from the beginning of our company to make sure we have a strong visual brand identity from the get-go. Ezgi worked closely with us from the beginning to achieve that and knows a lot about who we are as a brand and who exactly our customers are. “ Finery recently launched an exciting new segment on the site called “Featured Wardrobes”. Casey states “Our initial idea was to launch a blog for Finery to dip our toe in content and spotlight our friends and people we admire in the fashion industry but then we started receiving more and more comments from our users asking for styling advice, inspiration, etc. People don’t just want to see their clothes; they want you to help them put them together in different ways. We had various wardrobes we were curating for different reasons, mostly to continuously test out the site and its new features. Ezgi started helping me put one together and I loved all the items she curated, I even bought a few!! Most importantly it was great to see a wardrobe in front of you that was curated for a specific style. This combined with the comments from our users had us thinking, why not feature different influencers every month and give their fans a chance to go through their wardrobe digitally, instead of going with the same old blog content? Ezgi has been a key player in Finery in this process of rolling out a whole new way of presenting content. She knows the brand so well and cares about developing real relationships with our audience, which is part of what makes her so great at what she does.”

Seeing this professional woman who shuttles back and forth between NYC & LA, working in an exciting new industry…it’s hard to imagine that shy young girl from Izmir who only gained the courage to truly open up when she was typing to someone on a computer. In such a short amount of time both Eren and the way the world uses SM has evolved a great deal. Learning to find your passion and embrace change has worked well for Ezgi and it’s a good lesson for all of us. When considering change she states, “I think about this a lot because there’s no way of predicting what shape SM will be in in 20 years or more, but I think a big part of working in SM is collaborating with people from many adjacent industries: photography, videography, design, tech, styling, & others. I try to acquire as many new skills as possible from them along the way and just be more prepared for whatever SM managing turns into in the future.”

Ezgi 4

Makeup artist Jen Tioseco shows off natural beauty to Saucony shoot

Jen Tioseco is an artist. A face is her canvas, makeup is her paint. She uses her brushes to create something beautiful, or to completely change the way someone is perceived. It takes a certain skill to completely alter someone, making them unrecognizable, or just simply enhancing natural features that someone already possesses, and that is what makes Tioseco so sought-after. She is truly one of British Columbia’s best makeup artists.

Tioseco has worked with many prominent individuals throughout her career, and her work has been seen by millions across not only Canada, but the rest of the world. She has worked with the popular singer Dani LeRose, and did the makeup for two of her recent music videos. Last year, she worked on several editorials for the edgy magazine ION, showing off her innate talent. She even did the makeup for television personality George Stromboulopoulos.

“I am a huge fan of his show, and getting him stage ready and chatting with him about the charity he was representing was incredible. While men’s makeup may not seem creative, it actually is. You are working around stubble or a 5 o’clock shadow, under eye circles and blemishes, all while trying to give the illusion that they aren’t wearing any makeup at all.  Trust me, it’s a skill,” Tioseco described.

Those shopping at Saucony have the chance to see Tioseco’s fine work. Last year, she worked on their newest campaign, which is still in all of their stores. The renowned American athletic shoe manufacturer offers a variety of shoes, such as running, trail running, racing, walking, and a college collection. The shoes are designed for the main purposes of racing, running, and walking. Tioseco was already a fan of the brand, so when she had the opportunity to utilize her skills on their campaign, she was all for it.

“I had worked with the Creative Director, Jessica Law, on a Google shoot earlier in the year.  Having loved working with her and being a fan of Saucony runners, I knew it would be a fun shoot,” said Tioseco.

The shoot required Tioseco to overcome a difficult challenge for many makeup artists: making someone look completely natural while still wearing makeup. This, however, was not a problem for someone as seasoned as Tioseco. While it was not the most creative shoot she has worked on, she always enjoys making someone look their best naturally without it looking like they are wearing makeup.

“Trust me 95 per cent of the time the no makeup look is much more difficult to achieve, making it more fun to execute,” she said.

Jessica Law reached out to Tioseco after being impressed with her work on their previous shoot. Law needed a makeup artist with a high level of professionalism and attention to detail, and she immediately brought Tioseco back on board to work alongside her once more.

“Jen’s professional yet fun attitude is an amazing energy to have on set. She knows how to work in a timely and organized manner, while staying calm and positive. Jen’s ability to adapt to a situation is so refreshing.  If it’s a last-minute look change, or a change in the schedule or location, Jen always stays calm and gets the job done,” said Jessica Law.

The models on the shoot were true athletes, making the campaign more authentic, but causing some problems from the makeup perspective. Both athletes suffered from acne. However, Tioseco was able to cover up any marks so they appear to have no makeup on.

“I was able to cover their imperfections in a way where they didn’t feel like they had a lot on their face, but they could run and sprint for photos with confidence,” Tioseco described.

In addition to makeup, Tioseco was also responsible for doing the hair on the shoot, something she does not often get to do. Again, simplicity was key, and she had to make a traditional ponytail. This may sound simple, but having it perfectly frame the athlete’s face, and getting it at the right height, is actually quite a challenge. Again, despite not often doing hair, Tioseco’s adaptability shone, and the hair was perfect. She always enjoys taking on extra responsibilities.

“I actually got to do some special effects on this project. I love dewy sweaty skin, so I was very excited I got to break out the glycerine and recreate drops of water on the skin,” she said.

Not only was the work fun, but the location of the shoot also made the project extremely memorable for the makeup artist. Originally from North Vancouver, she travelled further north in British Columbia to Squamish, a stunning town filled with mountainous views.

“There was still snow on the ground and we go to hike the lookout where we shot. It was so beautiful and the team was so amazing, you forgot that it was freezing outside,” she said.

No matter what she is doing or where she is working, Tioseco loves being a makeup artist. And with such talent, it is no doubt why she has seen such success throughout the entirety of her career.

Producer Xueru Tang faces her fears, literally, in critically-acclaimed horror flick Emily

Xueru Tang’s life is making movies, and she loves every minute of it. Her work captivates international audiences, and her name is recognized all over the world. She is an extraordinary producer, and one of the best to recently come out of China.

While working on several esteemed projects, Tang has become an extremely sought-after producer. She has worked on films such as Locked, and Hot Pot Man. Both of these projects have gone on to do very well at several of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. However, what is perhaps the most decorated film of Tang’s career is the award-winning horror flick Emily.

“When I was asked to join the project, I was really interested. I love horror movies, but I always have trouble watching them because they scare me, so I really wanted to know how a horror movie was shot,” said Tang.

Directed by Jun Xia, the film tells the scary story of a woman named Emily. Emily dies giving birth at home after her husband, John, abandons her. However, she will have her revenge from beyond the grave when she returns as a ghost set on killing her widowed husband.

“I liked the script at first, it was short but it was interesting, and once I started working on the film, I began to really like the way the director told the story. He really caught the point at which everyone is frightened. It really made me scared. He really had his style and his visual for everything,” said Tang.

Tang was approached by co-producer Guannan Li to join the project. Li knew he needed a team of the best producers he could find, and having worked with Tang before, he knew she would be the perfect fit. Another producer on the film, Jingming Zhao, could not have agreed more.

“During development of the film, Xueru included her creative input for the film, and helped to polish the script, showcasing her creative abilities. She was responsible for renting equipment, creating and managing our budget and schedule, and making certain that this highly intensive work was made on our budget. Due to Xueru’s preeminent abilities as a creative thinker and a talented producer, she helped us to lay a foundation for the film, without which we would not have been nearly as successful. Of the many producers I have worked alongside, she is the most stand-out talent I can think of,” said Zhao.

Tang’s decisions for the film were very fruitful, as Emily has been a stand out at film festivals. After its premiere at the Los Angeles International Film Festival in August of 2015, it went on to be praised at the following festivals: Winner Best Horror Short Film – Hollywood Horror Festival 2015, Winner Best Short Film – Mad Town Horror 2015, Winner Best Horror Short – Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival 2016, Winner Best Student Horror Short – Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival 2016, Winner Best Student Horror Short – United International Film Festival 2016, Winner Best Director – Chandler International Film Festival 2016, Winner Official Selection Award – Chinese American Film Festival 2016, Official Selection London Digital Film Festival 2015, Official Selection International New York Film Festival 2015, Official Selection Full Bloom Film Festival 2015, Official Selection and Screening Big House Invitation Year One 2015, Official Selection Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival 2015, Official Selection Horror Short Video Contest 2015, Official Selection Los Angeles Short Film Festival 2016, Official Selection and Screening Holly Shorts Film Festival 2016, Official Selection AFMA Film Festival 2016, Official Selection and Screening Hanhai Studio 1st Short Film Festival 2016.

“When we won the first festival, we all super happy, and one by one, after like 10, to be honest, we all started to feel like ‘okay, this is normal,’” said Tang. “When we started winning the big festival, we felt happy of course. I felt like it showed how hard we worked and how good we are. When we work it can be a really hard time and not easy for all of us, but we studied from this production and we grew because of it.”

For a film to do so well over such an extended period of time, continuing to impress audiences and critics over a full year, shows just how good it is, and Tang was a big part of that. She dealt with the crew, worked on the budget, and was responsible for hiring a team that she knew could make the film the success it became. One role in particular that she tirelessly searched for was the cinematographer, as the director Jun Xia wanted someone he could work well with and share his vision. Tang spent months searching and interviewing candidates looking for that special director of photography. This effort led to finding the ideal match, and was vital for the film.

The team worked so well together, that they decided to embark on another horror film Inside Linda Vista Hospital, which production companies were eager to be a part of after Emily’s success. The second film has gone on to achieve similar feats at many film festivals, showing audiences all over the world why Tang is so good at what she does.