Victor Osorio On Living to Write

Victor Osorio is part of the 0.1 per cent of the general population that suffers from a rare neurological disease characterized by recurrent, severe headaches. The disease is called Cluster Headaches, but sufferers often refer to their condition as “Suicide Headaches” due to the often insurmountable pain that it causes. Osorio, on the other hand, sees his Cluster Headaches as the driving force behind his unwavering passion to write. Despite the massive amounts of pain and suffering that he has endured over time, he has only grown stronger and more determined to enlighten the world with his ideas. For the Spanish-native, writing is his reason to wake up in the morning, and although it isn’t the simplest profession to master, he has done so with ease. He doesn’t write because he wants to share something, he writes because he has something to share, and he has crafted a remarkable career around it.

When Osorio was a child, his parents deterred him from spending too much time in front of the television. As a result, he became an avid reader. He was fascinated by each author’s ability to awaken his imagination in ways they might not have ever intended. He loved learning the various styles and techniques that his favorite writers would use and he was inspired to develop his own unique methods. Today, the renowned writer can be credited as being the successful mastermind behind works like his children’s book, Cosas Que Nadie Sabe (translated in English to: Things Nobody Knows). He also worked for the longest running child and teen magazine, Dibus! Magazine, as a children’s comic writer for their hit feature, Alienados. Osorio’s talents, however, are not limited to writing for children’s publications. When he expanded his reach into the television and film industry, he lent his expertise to the award-winning web series, Hollywood and later earned himself a position working for Origo Media.

 For Osorio, working with Origo Media is unlike anything he had ever worked on in the past. The job requires him to write short commercials and corporate videos for Origo Media’s clients. In addition, he is expected to deliver material on a weekly basis, according to very strict deadlines. Fortunately, he thrives under pressure and can produce high quality content in a very short period of time. The videos that he writes, which appear mainly online and on television in Central and South America, would not be the success that they are today without Osorio’s unprecedented ability to turn a minor concept into a piece of artwork. In his time spent working with Origo Media, Osorio has written over 200 commercials and corporate videos, as well as a spec pilot.

When asked about his position at Origo Media, Osorio would tell you that he felt lucky to expand his skill set and learn to succeed under a different kind of pressure. “Working at Origo Media was a big deal for me because it allowed me to work on a series of projects with the same people for a year. By now, I consider myself to be very skilled at being concise and to the point, without sacrificing flavor, entertainment, and quality writing. Working on commercials really brings those skills to light and being able to put them to use within the context of this job has been extremely satisfying,” said Osorio.

Those who have worked with Osorio, however, would tell you luck has little to do with it. Luiz Santiago, who is the CEO at Origo Media, considers Osorio to be an invaluable asset to his company. “Victor is a very good writer with a big imagination and his command of creative writing techniques highlight his prowess as a writer. He also takes any potential set and post-production complications into account when developing his scripts to make everyone else’s work easier. Beyond that, he writes interesting, dynamic characters for our actors to explore,” told Santiago. Given the fact that Origo Media creates commercials and corporate videos in Central and South America, it is also important to bridge the gap between American and Hispanic culture in their work. Osorio’s life experiences allow him to do so flawlessly, in a way that resonates well with his audiences. For this reason, Santiago went on to say that, “Victor’s Spanish heritage and culture give him a unique perspective into American culture that infuses his work.”

Working at Origo Media has added a new and interesting dynamic to Osorio’s career. His eagerness to write and his passion for spreading his ideas across the world make him particularly open to expanding his horizons into new mediums and genres wherever possible. He enjoys stepping out of his comfort zone and striving for excellence in each new territory that he embarks on. A quick glance into the future of Osorio’s career looks bright. Recently, his children’s book was translated into English and eventually, he hopes to see it on as many bookshelves as possible. He is also working on a second children’s book, as well as a feature film script. He has no shortage of ideas in his brain, and will continue to craft them for success. From the outside looking in, Osorio writes for a living but if you ask him, Osorio simply lives to write.

Challis and Cooke: Actors Talk Making ‘Memories’ and Movies

Sitting with Australian actors Alistair Cooke and Mia Challis, it’s easy to forget that we’re here to talk about work, such is the fun energy they both bring into a room. After quickly discussing how they like to spend their weekends however, an assistant director reminds the actors that they’re due on set in another 30 minutes. Both quickly start sharing details about the project that’s brought everyone to set this week. ‘Memories,’ a film produced by Lachlan Ward (who has most recently found success with the film ‘Quiche’, which won the Drama Award at the Deep Cut Film Festival in Canada) and helmed by acclaimed director Cassandra Lionetto-Civa, is a perfect example of a project that manages to assemble an accomplished cast, a distinguished creative team and a unique story.

Actors Alistair Challis and Mia Cooke
Actors Alistair Cooke and Mia Challis shot by David Attwell

Lead actor Alistair, who plays Tim, offers some insights into ‘Memories’ storyline. “Without giving too much away, the film is set in the not too distant future where accessing and viewing people’s memories has become a reality.” His co-lead Mia, who plays Charlotte, is equally discerning about revealing the plot completely, but did tell our editors that it’s a “sci-fi love story.”

Aside from what is clearly a fascinating blend of genres, ‘Memories’ also reflects how an accomplished cast can elevate a project’s esteem. Cooke, who made his debut in Ben C Lucas’ award-winning feature film ‘Wasted on the Young’ opposite ‘The Originals’ star Oliver Ackland, played the critical role of Young Hammers in the SBS mini-series ‘Deep Water’. It was in that series, which only aired just recently to high acclaim, where Alistair shared the screen with ‘Orange is the New Black’ Screen Actor’s Guild winner Yael Stone. He adds: “[w]atching that woman work was incredible and so inspiring.”

Of course, being the talented actor he is, Alistair is firmly grounded in the present and not focused too much on the past. He describes current co-star Mia as “something else. During the course of our first job together I soon discovered she was a natural talent, a true professional and a force to be reckoned with. We clicked immediately and I now consider her a great friend.” Mia, whose exotic looks seem to blend the innocence of Natalie Portman with the fierceness of Jennifer Lawrence, interrupts. “Working alongside Alistair was a pleasure; I learnt a lot from him and had the best time too. He’s very talented and we clicked straight away which was a bonus!” Mia elaborates that she originally recognised Alistair from his key role as Jake in the international hit series ‘The Horizon,’ which has garnered over 54 million views worldwide.

Although Mia may have been somewhat star-struck, she is an established actor in her own right, currently juggling three projects. Along with ‘Memories’, she is currently filming ‘Backstabbers’, directed by Lauren Mazzucato and ‘The Twincident’ directed by Blake Thomson, playing identical twins Claire and Evelyn in what will surely be a funny turn in her growing body of work. When asked who was crazy enough to represent her and her busy schedule, she laughs.

Alistair: “her manager actually is crazy!”

Mia: “in a good way!”

Alistair: “she’s exactly how you would imagine a Hollywood manager to be!”

Mia and Alistair’s chemistry is proven as the stars proclaim, “[w]e have the same American manager!” launching into a discussion about their different representatives around the world.

Actress Mia Cooke
Actress Mia Challis in ‘Memories’ (photo by: David Attwell)

Most importantly, both Alistair and Mia shed light on how actors’ own traits can inform character development. Mia tells us about Charlotte: “We actually have quite a lot in common; we both can be pretty awkward and really don’t have a clue how to flirt! She is a character that cares deeply for others, isn’t afraid to take chances and follows her heart.” Regarding Tim, Alistair explains that “Tim throws himself into everything he believes in and that’s a trait that really resonates with me. I’m a passionate guy and I can really relate to his way of thinking and drive in life.”

Actors Mia Cooke and Alistair Challis on set
Actors Mia Challis and Alistair Cooke on set of ‘Memories’ (photo by: David Attwell)

While ‘Memories’ might explore the challenging terrain of technology and the questions it raises about our society’s future, the film is nevertheless grounded in a very human story. It certainly would’ve helped that the actors were guided in their direction by celebrated filmmaker Cassandra Lionetto-Civa, who beat out an incredibly competitive field to win the open category at the Hip on Heritage Film Festival in Perth, Australia just last year. It’s therefore no surprise that ‘Memories’ is fielding countless distribution options to screen right around the world.

So what’s next for these screen stars?

Alistair tells us: “I am going straight into rehearsals for my next film. A black comedy that follows an unusual friendship between an armed robber and the man he is holding hostage.”

Mia explains that she can’t talk too much about her upcoming project, but she is allowed to share some funny details.“I’ve actually just started filming a new project where I play a character that is the polar opposite of Charlotte. She is a high school student who is the leader of a group of girls who murder some of their classmates with stilettos!”

Whatever is coming up for them filming wise, audiences can rest assured that ‘Memories’ will live up to its hype and challenge us all about love and the future of technology.

 

ACTRESS JAEDA LEBLANC IS A LITTLE GIRL ON A BIG SERIES

Actor’s know that when you exhibit your skills on a project this is not only the action of using your talent but also the way in which you advertise yourself to other potential employers. Being of benefit to any production allows directors, writers, and other professionals to envision you in their own creations. An actor can spend a lifetime amassing a collection of performances that will keep them employed doing the vocations that they enjoy so much. It can take decades, even lifetimes to do so. In the case of Canadian Jaeda LeBlanc, it may happen much more quickly…because it already has. While still in her single digits, this young actress was noticed by Gregory Smith, director of the highly successful TV series “Saving Hope.” Airing on Fox in the US, “Saving Hope” joined the lineage that has lasted for decades of popular dramas that take place in the medical field and portray the humanity behind the healers, the afflicted, and their loved ones. When Smith saw Jaeda on “Odd Squad” he understood that her talent and abilities transcended those of youth based stories. Casting her as Aisha Kai in “Saving Hope” not only proved that he was correct but also gave a boost to LeBlanc’s credibility and vetted her as an actress more than capable of working in prime time television.20728338_157108004866208_2853571896937534171_n

The key to being a great guest star on an already popular show, as well as being a great actor, is being memorable without trying too hard. Performance is a requirement; beyond that you can chalk it up to charisma. Robin Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio, countless actors have appeared on prime time TV shows in bit parts that morphed into careers on the small and the big screen. Canadian actress Jaeda LeBlanc has that same magnetism. Although still in her early teens she has appeared in a number television and film productions. She’s appeared in films with such household names as Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, and Natalie Portman. It’s easy to see why her roles have been much more prolific in the past two years when viewing the heartfelt portrayal, she gave in “Saving Hope.” As Aisha Kai, a bossy, sassy, and very intelligent young girl mature beyond her years, Jaeda gives a layered performance. Aisha’s mother died of cancer three years prior and she now lives with her father who is also terminally ill. She has learned everything she can about her father’s illness and takes the doctors to task about it. Dr. Reid (Erica Durance, star of Saving Hope) makes matter worse when she makes a promise to Aisha whose own birthday is derailed by her father’s sickle cell crisis. Aisha (powered by LeBlanc’s portrayal) gives the audience the dual sense that she is very young but has been forced to mature quickly due to her difficult circumstances. She’s a girl who is aware well beyond her years about life’s harshness…but still is a young girl, with all of her concerns and uncertainty. At times irreverent and at other times fearful, the role gave Jaeda the opportunity to convey many subtle shades of emotion rooted in body language as well as dialogue. Gregory Smith, director of “Saving Hope” tells, “On our show Jaeda played Aisha, an insecure stubborn child that is authentic without being annoying or exaggerated.  As a director I know that it is not easy for a young actor to fully immerse themselves into a role but this is not the case here. Jaeda translated her actions and emotions to a believable character that drew sympathy with her realistic yet endearing delivery. Jaeda is an accomplished young actress who commands powerful, nuanced performances, the quality of which exceeds that of many of her peers. She was able to take on and be this child with a sick dying parent, unsure, stress and sad of what could happen.  Jaeda has the ability to know if she is under or over acting and correct her own self, this is an impressive trait.”Photo 2016-05-11, 4 37 09 PM

You’d think that for a young actor the excitement would be finding themselves on set, under the lights with all eyes on them. For some it might be the luxury of having their own trailer with snacks and video games. For LeBlanc it was sitting down for the table read. The formal table read is a staple of all major productions; for Jadea, this was her first and a true indicator that she had made it to the big leagues. Many table readings would follow this one but you always remember your first…like a first love. Without a frame of reference, Jaeda paid attention to how far the other actors “turned up” their performances at the table read and matched them toe to toe. Reading the room and acclimating is a benefit of being an actor. While she received praise for the read, it was the test of being on set that confirmed her abilities when under pressure. LeBlanc remarks, “It was nice to be a ‘Guest Star’ and work with seasoned actors in one of the most popular TV show in Canada. From the first moment I was on set everyone was super nice to me, not only because I was a kid but as another actor. People may not always admit it but, kids can tell when someone is being nice to you because you’re young rather than being honest. It was a great feeling to be treated as a peer by so many great actors. Like my mom always says, I have an ‘old soul’ so for me to be around adults feels normal. It was nice to feel like a peer playing in the same field as all those seasoned actors of this start cast TV show.” When you play a role in a Canadian Screen Award-Winning Series (“Saving Hope” has received numerous awards including: Canadian Screen Awards, Directors Guild of Canada, Leo Awards, Joey Awards, and others) that is watched by most Canadians, you are bound to get noticed. Casting Directors definitely paid attention as proven by the numerous TV and film roles which followed this young actress’s appearance on the series. Jaeda LeBlanc is just embarking on her teen years yet she has already amassed a long list of credits that have set a strong foundation for an already impressive acting career.

With Director

(Jaeda with director Gregory Smith)

Scott Michael Wagstaff on creating his own destiny

ScottWagstaff' headshot 2 by Simon Kelski photography
Scott Michael Wagstaff, photo by Simon Kelski

On paper, Scott Michael Wagstaff can be described as an actor, portraying the lives of television and film characters in a variety of different genres. One a deeper level; however, Wagstaff is far more than your average actor. When he acts, the British-native is adamant about bringing as much honesty and realism to the characters he plays. He is driven by the unique opportunity he has to inspire his audiences to feel emotions that they might not otherwise allow themselves to feel. More often than not, acting is a taxing job and Wagstaff accepts this reality. Despite this, what differentiates him from his competition is that the onerous aspects of his job are the ones that motivate him to conquer every obstacle he encounters and continue to excel above his fierce competitors.

As an actor, Wagstaff is aware that his job is not always as fascinating as it may seem. Over time, it has involved challenging auditions, inconsistent hours, and a second job to keep on top of the bills. With a passion as strong as Wagstaff’s, however, there are ways of counter-acting the somewhat defeating uncertainty of not knowing when your next job will be. When he isn’t filming, the talented actor balances between developing ideas and concepts for his own future projects with expanding his skill set as an actor to ensure that he never loses his edge. He believes in the power of refreshing his skills to bring a bigger, better performance to his upcoming projects; a strategy which has paid off time and time again for his work in well-known films and television show like 6 Days and Color Me Grey. In addition, for his work on the film Pendulum, Wagstaff received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the prestigious FilmQuest Film Festival.

In 2014, a former co-star of Wagstaff’s recommended his name for an upcoming film called Final Reflection. When he was approached about working on the film, Wagstaff found himself drawn to the well-written script and the authentic relationships depicted in the storyline. Final Reflection portrays the emotional journey of a Jewish Policeman who forms a rapport with a young Nazi officer in 1942 when the Nazis deported approximately 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. It is a story of survival, hardship and hope for which Wagstaff played the lead role of Isaak. Without Wagstaff’s stellar performance, it is unlikely that the film would have been selected for prestigious film festivals like the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Student Arts Festival, TiltShift Film Festival, and several others after its premiere at the BFI Southbank in London.

Wagstaff is used to dedicating every fibre of his being to his roles; however, he felt an overwhelming responsibility to accurately portray the facts of this story and the types of emotions that the men and women would have been feeling at the time that these events took place. He heavily researched the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, the struggles that Jewish police officers faced during this era and how they would’ve interacted with Nazi officers. He was intent on bringing every piece of history and raw emotion to Isaak’s character as he possibly could, something he strives to do for all of his characters. In return, he thrives on the way in which his characters reveal aspects of his own personality and his own life circumstances that he isn’t always aware of.

Playing the part of Isaak was unlike anything Wagstaff had ever done and his audience reaped the benefits. Beyond the props and the realistic sets, he enjoyed the deeper realities that Isaak’s character unveiled.

“It is certainly important to educate people of the horrific situations that occurred in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. To this day, many people don’t actually know what really went on. At the core of it for me, however, are the broader realities rooted in the lives of everyone who lived through the tragedy that was World War II. The underlying truth in the film is that we, as human beings, always have a choice – no matter how dreary the situation you are in. Even in the face of death, you can turn around and take a stand to bring about a change in the world. One small act can make a profound difference in the life of someone else. Isaak makes that small step and I find it so important to teach the world that one small bout of courage can carry a very long way,” said Wagstaff.

The film’s writer and director, Charles Copsey, had the distinct pleasure of witnessing Wagstaff become Isaak on-screen and inspire his audiences to find Isaak’s courage within themselves. He values the opportunity to work with profoundly talented actors like Wagstaff and the success that they bring to his scripts.

“Working with Scott was a great experience. His commitment to the film went above and beyond what was expected of him. He put time and effort into his role to ensure that he and his fellow actors were remaining true to the facts of these very sensitive, historical themes and topics. His passion and aptitude are key to the positive influence that he had throughout production. Scott was always challenging our progress and development and he is a delight to have on set,” told Copsey.

Ultimately, there are parallels that can be drawn between Wagstaff’s passion to inspire his audiences through his performances and Isaak’s inspiring discovery of his inner courage. Regardless of the hardships that an individual may be going through, Wagstaff understands the importance of persevering in the face of adversity. He hopes to motivate other aspiring actors to push forward when faced with a challenge and to rely on themselves to create their own success. If his career has taught him anything, it is that at the end of the day, he is more than just an actor. He is an artist and by allowing his creativity to carry him to great lengths, he has found satisfaction in his career.

“Make your own work. Don’t rely on Casting Directors and Agents to be your gatekeepers. Those relationships definitely help but you will find power in seeking out stories that you are passionate about and by surrounding yourself with like-minded, creative people who will help you move forward to be considered for future projects. Be fearless,” he concluded.

Q&A with ‘Never Knock’ star Darren Eisnor

Darren Eisnor is quickly lighting up the big and small screens in his home country of Canada and abroad. Growing up in Burlington, Ontario, the actor may not always have known he was meant to perform, but there is no doubt now. He has starred in hits like Netflix’s Anne with an E, and films such as Holiday Joy, and Early Release. Having quickly risen to the top of his field in Canada, Eisnor is now recognized internationally for his talents.

Audiences have a lot to look forward to when it comes to this talented actor. Not only is he starring in the Blackpills series Skal, he also has a pivotal role in the anticipated horror film Never Knock, which premieres next month as part of Syfy’s Halloween line up. To learn more about his life, role in the film, and what it was like to film in a graveyard, check out our extensive interview below.

EWG: What initially sparked your interest in acting?

DE: A few beers and some shawarma. Seriously. I never really thought about it at a conscious level at all, in terms of a career, but then one night with some friends changed my life. It wasn’t even anything anyone said in particular from what I recall, it was just some strange, divine epiphany that was cast down upon me from some unknown realm of energy. I had this realization that most of the people who I see on TV or in movies are just human beings, not these idols that we’ve placed on some pedestal that makes them seem like they’re there due to some benevolent gift. Of course, some nepotism happens, but many of them just focused their energy on what they wanted, and pursued it with vigor and relentlessness. I realized that if I do that, at the very least I’ll learn where my limits are and what I’m capable of doing.

Looking back in my life, there were definitely some signs of thespian tendencies. Even at the earliest grades of school, whenever teachers would say “you can write a paper, give a presentation, or do a skit” my heart jumped with excitement, and I’d immediately start planning out a performance. I’d fall in love with whatever I created, and tell my mom all about whatever it was with the utmost passion. I never did anything formal outside of those class assignments except a play in the eighth grade. They were having auditions at lunch, and we weren’t given material, so we were supposed to act out any scene from anything of our choice. At the first recess, I got a couple of my buddies together and made up some kind of family scene that ended with a big song; I guess I came up with the script in an early class, but whatever it was worked because I won the role of Sleeping Beauty’s prince!

Other than that, I’ve always been more into sports for most of my life. After the shawarma epiphany, I started a YouTube channel for sketch comedy that did well. And now here I am.

EWG: What was it like working on Never Knock?

DE: Working on Never Knock was my first horror movie, as well as a role where I’m a kid in the 1980’s, so my preparation for this role had some cool details to get into. I play a guy named Jason who – spoiler alert – eventually gets completely annihilated by the evil “Never Knock” demon that lives in a haunted door. My character has a little brother, Ben, and a girlfriend in this story, and while he’s not really nice to his brother, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for siblings. After my role in Anne with an E, I’d have to say this character is the next most pure of heart. His intentions are good, as we see when things get scary.

In my character’s scenes, it’s Halloween in 1986, and Jason’s costume was Fonzy from Happy Days. So technically, I was a guy from 2017 pretending to be a guy from the 80’s, pretending to be a guy from the 70’s, pretending to be a guy from the 50’s! I watched some 80’s movies to get me in the zone for this role, as I usually do. I think it helps to notice the little differences in mannerisms or dialect; the 80’s were almost 40 years ago now, so people certainly have altered their social communication in that time.

Another cool part about this movie was interacting a lot with a really young actor. I had done a couple scenes with a young girl in another show, but in Never Knock I’m interacting with the little brother character a ton. I never had a younger brother, but it was fun pretending with this eleven-year old little dude, since younger kids have way less life experience and respond differently on set.

EWG: What was your character like?

The story of Never Knock begins on Halloween in 1986, and is centered around a demonic door that haunts anyone who knocks on it, and everyone who happens to be with them – and by haunts, I mean manifests the victim’s worst fear and brutally murders them with that fear. Yikes. No one else can see the demon either, but it kills you all the same. Some of the kids get killed by a ton of syringes draining their blood, or thousands of cockroaches, or…in Jason’s case, broken bones. Ouch.

Jason was a very real character to me. He jokes around with his little brother, taunts him, but then gets very embarrassed when the brother and Jason’s girlfriend team up to pull a trick on him. He shows a stubborn side and prideful side, but when the story gets to the haunted demon door, he immediately leaps to his brother’s aid. When Ben knocks on the door, his hand starts bleeding, and he’s sucked into the grasp of the house. Jason leaps in after him, and ends up getting brutally killed. All of his limbs break, and he’s smashed around from wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor! I lost my voice for a day or two after recording my screams for that scene.

EWG: What was it like working with such an all-star cast?

DE: Sheldon Wilson has been making these movies for Halloween just about every year for the past decade or so, so it was nice to have a guy who knows how to run an efficient set around. I’m not a huge horror nut, so he must have a few screws loose to write all this crazy stuff all the time! He was a pleasure to work under. As for the cast, there were some big SyFy names working on this movie, like Jodelle Ferland from Dark Matter and Dominique Provost-Chalkley from Wynonna Earp and The Avengers. They were really nice to be around, and were total pros.

My scenes were mostly with the actor who played Ben (Jack Fulton), who was a cool kid to work with. It turns out he came pretty close to landing the big role in Room, and he performed in it in a smaller role, as well as a role on Shadowhunters. Also, he randomly knew just about everything to do with Mixed Martial Arts fighting!

EWG: The film is part of Syfy’s Halloween lineup. What was it like working on a scary movie?

DE: It was definitely the most fun I’ve had in a graveyard in my life so far! For a while we’re running around a graveyard on a shortcut to Jason’s girlfriend’s house, and I had to keep refraining from resting against or sitting on tombstones in between takes…I don’t want any real hauntings coming after me, ya know? But really, it was nice to try out a new genre, as this was my first ever horror movie. It’s also the first professional production I’ve died in so far, although I did die in three small film productions I did when I was a kid. For a moment there, I was thinking I might be the next Sean Bean with all the on-screen deaths!

I’m not actually a big horror fan, but I can certainly respect any high-quality film that comes out of any genre. The Shining is a fantastic film, for example. My sister is the opposite of me in many ways, however, and one of them is her obsession with horror films. So hopefully, Never Knock will be something that she can enjoy! After all, I will have a brutal demise, and she’ll definitely enjoy seeing my character suffer like that.

Never Knock really made me learn a new level of respect toward hair and makeup people, especially when it comes to many horror or sci fi movie productions. The gory makeup for my face alone took quite a while, but the real labor was spent on my back. At the end of my death scene, the demon carves “NEVER NEVER KNOCK” into my back, and the makeup ladies spent at least an hour doing some crazy kind of stencil work on my skin that I can’t even really properly understand. All I know is that it took a long time, and looked incredibly authentic. It’s going to look great on camera, I promise you.

Be sure to check out Never Knock next month on Syfy.

Producer Antonio Vigna connects with his culture in new film ‘Dia de Muertos’

Antonio Vigna had dreams of being an actor ever since he was a child. When he first watched a film, he pictured himself in front of the camera, stepping into another’s shoes and showing the world his passion. However, what Vigna did not anticipate was his love for being behind the camera, helping put together every aspect of a film. Now, as both an actor and producer, Vigna is known internationally for what he does.

As an actor, Vigna has shown the world his talent in films such as Perfection and Klaazor. Working behind the scenes, his work producing the films Camilla and Consumemate contributed to the films great success at many international film festivals. The highlight of Vigna’s career, however, comes from producing the film Dia de Muertos (English translation to Day of the Dead), which allowed him to connect with his Mexican heritage.

“Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of my favorite traditions from my country, so the moment I was told to produce a script that had the tradition as part of it, I wanted to be involved in the film, no matter what,” said Vigna.

The film follows a young Mexican woman struggles to keep on living after the death of her loved one, but during the Mexican holiday, The Day of the Dead, she experiences a contact with him that changes her life. It was written by Laura Gudiño, who also starred in the film. Gudiño knew of Vigna’s work, and knew she needed a producer of his caliber to take her film to a success.

“Antonio was my producer and he helped me so much and made the whole process easy. In this industry, you always want people who are easy going, that you know you can work with them for days, and he’s definitely a person you’d like to have in any team. Antonio has great work ethic. He is very responsible and creative. In addition to that, he is an easy going, friendly person so in any project I have worked with him, I know everything will be alright,” said Gudiño. “I think in this industry, the more you know about it and the more you explore, the more you understand everybody’s job and the more valuable you are. Antonio has been a reporter, a journalist, an actor, a producer, an AD, a writer, etc. I believe, thanks to all of that journey, he has become very good at anything he does. Knowledge opens doors, and he has definitely opened many.”

Because Vigna knew he would be working on the film months before pre-production, he had time to put together the ideal team. He believes it is the best crew he has ever made. He also decided on the process for the film. Initially, the supporting actor was not going to have to audition, but Vigna knew to hire a casting director and have a formal casting for the film in order to find the best person. After the auditions, they cast someone else, rather than the original actor, knowing that with such a small cast, it was necessary to have the perfect person. Without Vigna, this would not have happened.

Initially, the casting director wanted Vigna to audition for the role, but he refused. He wanted to make sure the film was the best it could be, and for him to do that, he would have had to step away from producing to focus on creating the character.

“I declined the offer to act in the film, as I had already a few months working on it as a Producer. I don’t regret it at all, since this is one of the films that I’m most proud of,” said Vigna.

The decision proved to be the right one, as the film made its way to some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. After premiering at the Film Festival of Cannes 2017 Short Film Corner, it made its way to the Los Angeles San Rafael Film Festival, Tulipanes Film Festival, and the Cinetekton Film Festival. However, the awards and accolades are not as important to the producer. For Vigna, the passion he felt for the story helped his drive, ensuring that every decision he made, every road block he overcame, was perfect. The Latino passion, he says, was felt on set all the time, even though most of the people there were not Hispanic at all. 

“I think that I liked the fact that we were portraying a Mexican tradition at its best on screen. Most of the films out there from our country talk about drugs or corruption, but we took just one of the beauties in our culture, to share it with everyone in the world,” Vigna concluded. “Most of the people don’t know the best parts of our Latino culture, so it’s important to show the other side of the coin. Also, there are Latinos all over the world, who can feel identify with the film, and reconnect with Dia de Muertos. It’s hard when you weren’t born in our country to feel it just like us, especially having Halloween, shadowing it, so strongly in United States, even among the Hispanic culture. So, we need to keep our traditions with their meanings strong enough for everyone appreciate it as we do.”

Isabella Richardson helps prevent youth suicide with moving work in Beyond Blue Commercial

Isabella Richardson was just nine years old when she realized what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. The Australian native realized then that she could have fun whilst doing what people would call a ‘job’. She realized she could inspire people, make them laugh, and make them feel emotions they didn’t even know were there. She loves that she can move people, and encourage them to follow her dreams the way she followed hers.

Richardson has quickly become one of Australia’s best young actresses. Her performance in seasons two and three of You’re Skitting Me have earned her an expansive fan base, and her role in the film Next of Kin received critical acclaim. Just last year, her work on Sprite’s commercial garnered international attention. However, Richardson often chooses her roles for the message they convey, and her work on the 2014 commercial for Beyond Blue helped shed light on an important issue.

“I was very attached personally to this project due to the nature of what it entailed. Depression and anxiety are a huge factor in today’s society, and I wanted to be a part of spreading the word, and having people know it’s okay to talk about these things to your loved ones,” said Richardson.

The commercial evolves around six teenagers explaining youth suicide prevention to the camera, showing the message of, “If you’re worried about your child, the best way to find out if something is wrong, is to ask”. The commercial encourages parents to look out for warning signs of suicide in young people, showing the importance of showing children that they have a support system that is always willing to listen to what they’re going through. It can be a challenging and uncomfortable conversation, but it could make all the difference to a child’s life.

“I believe this message behind the commercial was so important because we were reaching an audience that needed help in understanding why their loved ones felt a certain way and what they could do to help. I was really proud to work on something with such a powerful message that could actually help save someone’s life,” said Richardson.

In the moving advert, Richardson plays the role of Katie. Katie is a 17-year-old skater kid, who has a careless outlook on life. She doesn’t have many aspirations in life and doesn’t care to have any either. Katie wears clothes to reflect her personality, such as t-shirts, ripped jeans, converse and collared flannels. She lives in a housing commissioned area where her parents are trying their hardest to pay the rent, whilst Katie reluctantly contributes by working a couple days at the local supermarket. Katie mostly hangs out at the skate park to escape her home life. Although she seems careless and selfish, deep down inside she just wants her parent’s attention and affection. In the scene, she goes to the skate park to escape her parents from questioning her quality of life. The dialogue revolves around informative info to parents who may need help understanding if their child does have thoughts of suicide and are depressed.

“It was a real reward to know we were breaking down the stigma around depression and suicide by spreading the word through a commercial,” said Richardson.

Filming at the skate park provided some unique challenges while shooting that Richardson was quick to overcome. Shooting scenes in a skate park on a weekday allowed the actress to see some of the hardships of skateboarders and their need to skate. However, the noise this caused while filming created some difficulties, but Richardson used the noise to help fuel her character. Even some of the harassment she received from the skateboarders at the park provided an insight to her character.

“The actual situation of getting into character was quite easy. I just pretended I was talking to a best friend’s mother who wanted to understand why her daughter was feeling a certain way, and what she could do to help. I felt engaged in the character and knew exactly what I wanted to evoke from her,” she explained.

From the moment she auditioned, Richardson showed all those she worked with what she was capable of. The director was immediately impressed, noting how nice it was to see someone chatting to the camera like a real person, loving Richardson’s signature naturalistic approach. This was necessary for the success of the commercial, with such a tough subject needing to connect with those going through what she was portraying.

“Isabella is an actor in the Beyond Blue commercial ‘Preventing Youth Suicide’. Naturalism is a strong point for herself when bringing compelling reality to a character and their emotions behind their words and actions. This particular commercial was incredibly personal to her for multiple reasons, so being able to apply her true emotions and experiences to her character was very important in making the character and commercial feel realistic. This particular commercial was incredibly personal to her for multiple reasons, so being able to apply her true emotions and experiences to her character was very important in making the character and commercial feel realistic,” said Nicholas Carlton, the director of the Beyond Blue ad. “Isabella is incredibly natural in the way she applies herself to the character, and I truly believe she will have every success her heart desires, because she’s not only dedicated but very talented.”

The commercial premiered on Beyond Blue’s Facebook page, website, and YouTube channel, and had a very successful social media campaign, connecting to a large number of people through the ‘Preventing Youth Suicide’ project. The success of the commercial, for Richardson, is not measured in the number of views it received, but rather the effect it had on its audience.

“We were spreading the word about something very close to my heart, and maybe even helping some people along the way, and that is the most pleasing part,” Richardson concluded.

Liya Shay tells tragic true story in acclaimed film ‘The 4th Person’

By the time a film is shown on a screen, it has been cut, edited, and perfected over a long, grueling period of time. In fact, oftentimes, films can take anywhere from several months to years in order for every element to come together. What audiences don’t typically see, however, is all of the hard work and dedication that goes into making a film the best that it can possibly be. For an actress like Liya Shay, she understands this all too well. For Shay, the biggest challenge that accompanies her career choice is remembering that her physical and mental health are of utmost importance. Her unwavering commitment to mastering every thought, emotion, and feeling of her characters makes this a difficult reality. After years of acting, however, she has developed various techniques and skills that allow her to separate herself from her characters, while still ensuring that when she is in front of the camera, she is everything her character needs to be and more.

Shay’s skill set is a testament to her dedication to the job that she loves most in this world. Her achievements are widespread and she has acted alongside strong directors, renowned production companies, well-known actors, and more. In 2016, she worked with Rouge Shakespeare Company at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. She has also played lead roles in two hit web series’, Vape Series and Drug. Beyond these roles, she has appeared in various commercials for major companies like Miller Lite and Echosworld Entertainment. One of her greatest achievements is perhaps for her role as “Sister” in the film The 4th Person. Her contributions to the film were absolutely instrumental to its success and it eventually went on to screen at the Pune Shorts Film Festival, Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival, and the Equality Festival Ukraine screenings.

When asked about the highlights of her career, Shay has a few; however, she considers her role as “Sister” in The 4th Person to be one of the most emotionally testing characters she has ever had to play. The 4th Person, which was directed by Indian director, Nonidh Yadav, depicts the true, devastating tale of a human who is forced by his mother to rape his sister in order to overcome his homosexuality. The story depicts his self-destructive journey toward redemption and his search for self-existence. For Shay, the decision to play the “Sister” was simple. She knew how important it is for society to understand that situations like this occur all over the world and it can’t continue. She delved deep into the role, researching about the effects of rape on an individual’s life, especially at a young age. This is nothing out of the ordinary for an actress with talent as unparalleled as Shay’s. She dedicates her entire self to every role she plays, and works tirelessly to ensure that she does her characters the justice that they deserve.

“When we were filming, The 4th Person was the only project I was working on and it was difficult not to get too overwhelmed while I researched the effects of rape and incest on women, especially young girls. Despite the fact that the information was emotional, I believed that the only way to truly understand how my character would’ve felt was to have all of that information and to be fully educated on those topics. I usually conduct extensive research if I think it will help me get into my character. It definitely creates a bigger picture around the given circumstances,” said Shay.

Between her research and her raw acting abilities, Shay delivered a stellar performance for the film. Her depiction of the “Sister” helped instill a sense of realism for the audience. Knowing that she was telling a true story made her all the more inclined to deliver an honest, authentic performance and to bring her audience on the haunting journey that the characters embarked on. As a director, Yadav could not have asked for a better actress to play her crucial, lead role. He credits much of the film’s success to Shay’s natural affinity for playing a dramatic role.

“Liya’s unique way of seeing her characters was the reason why this project came to life. She never judged any of the characters, instead she always wanted to discover and rationalize why someone would be behaving in the way they do. As a person, she is very passionate and caring, which was a key to her character as well. She created a character that was like a glue to the pieces of this story. She is an actress with a beautiful soul that translates into her performances. She is able to create characters that live and breathe through emotions that not every person will experience in their lives. She has a strong will, that doesn’t let her break as a person after filming scenes like the scene of rape between she and her brother,” told Yadav.

Shay’s success in her career is a direct result of her drive, passion, and sheer talent. She is not naïve when it comes to her career choice; she knows that the stakes are high and the competition is tough. She understands the reality that at times, it is not always the most stable source of income and that it is more competitive than most other fields of work. This reality, however, only pushes Shay harder. She loves the job she does and she intends to continue to do so for years to come. Fortunately, her accomplishments thus far in her career have painted her a strong background of work. There is no doubt that with talent as profound as Shay’s and a burning desire to do what she loves, she will continue to bring greatness to the entertainment industry in every role she sets out to do.

Producer Cassie Friedman is ‘one stop shop’ for Studio Lambert

Cassie Friedman describes her producing style as hands-on and hungry. If something needs to get done, she jumps right in. The Development Producer became one of the best in her home country of Canada, working for some of the country’s largest broadcasters and on popular news programs. Despite such success, she remains humble, knowing that you can’t achieve greatness without the help of others.

“I’m big on collaborating. As nice as it would be to have a huge vision and execute all the pieces yourself, that’s not realistic and would probably grow isolating after a while. The fun of producing is working with great teams, so I love helping my co-workers with their tasks or projects and vice versa. I’m very lucky that I’ve only worked in environments where my co-workers have been more supportive and collaborative than competitive with one another,” said Friedman.

Now, Friedman has taken her talents abroad, working with the independent production company Studio Lambert, based in Los Angeles and London. She has worked as Manager of Development at Studio Lambert for over a year, greatly contributing to the acclaim of several television shows, such as Second Wives Club on E!, Growing Up Evancho on TLC and seasons 8 & 9 of Undercover Boss on CBS. She has worked for projects on even more major networks with the production company, such as FOX, ABC, NBC, LIFETIME, and A&E.   

“Cassie is an extreme asset to the company.  She has an incredible eye for talent as well having the intellect to develop shows,” said Rich Leist, Supervising Casting Producer at All3Media America. “Cassie is phenomenal at her job and has the best attitude. It is a pleasure to work with her because she is creative, hits deadlines, and has an excellent understanding of the television industry. Cassie has many quality skills that make her an asset to the company. She can find talent, edit, create pitch documents and sell a concept. Cassie is a one stop shop for us.”

While working on various shows, Friedman has impressed many of her colleagues at Studio Lambert. She takes on many tasks, from development to casting. She also works on many network-funded and internal development projects for the company, including writing, producing and editing sizzle reels, heading up casting, writing and producing detailed decks, producing and developing segments for shows, and field producing for various TV projects. While taking on so much responsibility, Friedman is still loving what she does.

“I am extremely lucky to work at Studio Lambert. Some days, as I’m driving to work, I check-in and smile because I am doing what I set out to do – working in television in Los Angeles. My work consists of many different roles on various projects. In the morning, I could be casting therapists to host a family show and in the afternoon, I could be scanning evidence binders for a true crime show,” she said. “What I love about working at Studio Lambert is the drive of everyone I’m surrounded by. Our team, along with the teams at All3Media America, our parent company, is always driven to do our best work. And the next best part is seeing something you worked on air across the continent, that story you’re telling making its way into people’s homes and starting a conversation.”

Friedman is incredibly versatile, with a wide range of talents beyond simply producing. This immediately impressed with Vice President and President of Studio Lambert during their first meeting. Friedman’s experience in television, writing and on digital projects was extremely comprehensive at just 27-years-old. She had produced live TV for more than two years, but had also spent time working in the start-up world in Silicon Beach. Her ambition was highly-regarded.

“Studio Lambert has a fantastic history. The original production company dates back to the 1950s, as a successful UK production company. Being from Canada, with close ties to family friends back in the UK, I always felt connected to that part of the world. So, on top of the current Studio Lambert being an extremely successful, Emmy-winning production company, with unbelievably talented producers leading it, I also appreciated the company’s history. It felt like a team and family I wanted to be a part of from day one,” said Friedman.

On an average week, Friedman touches at least five to ten different projects, all in different stages of development. This could be anything from research, outreach for a potential show idea, meeting with artists and creators, casting, producing decks or sizzle reels, producing pilots, development notes for shows in production. Friedman’s high level of organization is essential to such a workload, and she meets the challenge easily.

She works closely with her team, not making a major decision without consulting her coworkers to make sure it will work for everyone. She values their opinions, and also uses her knowledge in the industry to make decisions on her own that will benefit everyone. This was exemplified when she wrote and designed the pitch deck for the company’s show Growing Up Evancho, which aired on TLC just last month. She designed the deck specifically for TLC, getting ideas by looking at the posters for the network’s current shows. She did the same thing for Second Wives Club on E!.

Working in development, Friedman is often one of the first people to touch a project. “It’s so thrilling, because every project has the potential to become a major hit. Pitching, researching and casting sets the tone of the show for the network. We set things up so the next team can hit the ground running into pre-production and production,” she said.

Friedman also enjoys meeting all sorts of people while she is working, not just those in her industry, but those in her stories all over the world. There was one instance at Studio Lambert when she was casting a show with youth sports coaches around America. She dove into that world, infiltrating sports-parents Facebook groups and connecting with that community. She got to call and Skype with coaches all over the country, hearing about their lives, jobs, etc. This passion for what she does keeps her going every day.

“It is so cool learning about worlds I know nothing about. And that happens all the time as a producer. You dive deep into new environments. No day is the same. No project is the same. That is one of my favorite parts of my job” she concluded.

Kurt Szul blows away City of Los Angeles for Italian Heritage Day

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Kurt Szul

Kurt Szul is a firm believer that in this life, “you get back what you put in.” Working in a field as cutthroat and unpredictable as the music industry, he understands the reality of this motto better than most. Not only does he know the level of dedication and hard work required to stay on top of his competition, he makes it look effortless. His success is largely based on his unprecedented drive; however, it is perhaps his versatility that has earned him a profound reputation amongst some of the best artists in the world.

Szul’s background in jazz music allowed him to master other genres with ease; however, his talents extend far beyond his natural affinity for composing and playing music. He is also a seasoned businessman with a wide range of experience managing and promoting bands. He has an aptitude for preparing music, organizing musicians, rehearsing bands, creating concepts for projects, and ensuring that any band he manages are well prepared to exceed their goals. Beyond managing bands, Szul can be credited with inventing, pioneering, and co-building one of the first and only Nine String Guitars at the young age of 18.

In 2015, Szul shared his talents with Los Angeles’ Italian community when he performed at Los Angeles City Hall Chambers Ceremony for their Italian Heritage Day. The city’s primary contact when looking for an artist, Janet DeMay, was tasked with securing a band to play at the event. Given her prominence in the Italian community, she was determined to acquire a seasoned professional to ensure that Italian Heritage Day was equipped with the highest quality performance possible. DeMay was already aware of Szul’s reputation in the industry and knew that he would be the perfect addition to the event. When she approached him about the possibility of having him perform for the city of Los Angeles, Szul couldn’t resist saying yes.

Szul, who has ample experience performing for high calibre events, knew of the hard work that would need to go into preparing Italian Heritage Day and took careful consideration to guarantee that the session would be a hit. For Szul, opportunities like performing at the Los Angeles City Hall Chambers Ceremony are what motivated him to become an artist and a band manager in the first place. He was both honored and humbled by the experience and eager to make sure that the city would be left speechless when the band were finished.

“Before the performance, I felt excited that I was bringing session musicians that I handpicked, prepared, and organized for such a prestigious event. I felt confident that the band would flawlessly perform the music that I had prepared and that it would be appreciated for this special day. I helped the band prepare in such a way that when we talked over the music and set up, we were able to play exactly as planned and it was very satisfying seeing the crowd enjoy it as much as they did. People loved it and kept moving closer to watch us play. After we finished playing, people kept approaching us to express what our music meant to them and to offer us future work,” said Szul.

Szul’s successes at Italian Heritage Day continued to grow even after the band’s performance. In addition to the verbal feedback that the band received, DeMay went on to receive a Certificate of Recognition honouring the band’s contribution to the event. The entire Los Angeles City Council, including the Honorable Mayor Eric Garcetti and councilman Joe Buscaino of the 15th district, who were also impressed by the quality of the performance. Naturally, DeMay was ecstatic by the event’s reception and knows that its success is a reflection of Szul’s artistry.

“I hand-picked Kurt to perform at the Los Angeles City Hall Chambers Ceremony kicking off Italian Heritage Month because of his ability to perform authentic Italian Jazz music from Native Italian Composers, an ability that is not found among musicians in the Los Angeles area. Because of his early classical piano training and his years of experience playing a variety of Jazz music, he is able to meld two disciplines and traditions into one seamlessly. He has a unique ability that suited our needs perfectly and he is a valuable member of the extended Italian community,” told DeMay.

Szul prides himself on the feedback he receives from any project he completes and continues to labor his efforts toward creating new opportunities to do what he loves wherever and whenever he can. When his competition is fierce, he stays grounded by the knowledge that he is willing to persevere where many other artists would give up. Quitting isn’t an option for Szul and his vast amount of experience has allowed him to find stability in what he does. He puts one hundred per cent of himself behind every project that he works on and in return, he receives one hundred per cent satisfaction from his achievements.