From Beauty Queen to Leading Lady On Screen

Actress Jane Kapriss
Actress Jane Kapriss shot by Bjoern Kommerell

 

It’s no secret that the media, and the general public for that matter, have a thing for beauty. We are mesmerized by beautiful things, places and of course, beautiful people. Ukrainian beauty Jane Kapriss seemed destined for the spotlight since a young age, and while she definitely achieved impressive success as a beauty queen, it’s her talent as an actress coupled with her stunning aesthete that has kept her in the public eye.

Over the years Jane has won countless beauty pageant titles such as the Miss Fashion Award at the Miss Teen International competition, Miss Pearl of the Ukraine from the Ukraine National Beauty Pageant, as well as being chosen as a top ten finalist at the Miss Teen World competition where she also took home the Brand Ambassador Award. But anyone who’s seen Jane’s performances as an actress, on both the screen and the stage, knows that she is much more than a pretty face.

Jane let us in on a funny story from her childhood, and it’s one that makes quite a bit of sense now, considering the career path she’s chosen. She recalls, “My parents still argue about my first word. In Russian the words ‘building crane’ and ‘movie screen’ are very similar. The difference is just the first letter. For some reason my first word was not mom or dad. My dad heard it as ‘building crane’ and he said it was a sign that I was gonna be an engineer. But my mom heard it as ‘movie screen’ and said that it was a sign that I was gonna be an actress. Now our friends who know the story say: well, we all know now what word she meant.”

Prior to moving the U.S. where her success has continued at record pace, Jane made a huge mark for herself Back home in Kiev, Ukraine with her lead role as Anastasiya in the 2008 comedy crime feature “Hand for Luck” aka “Ruka na Schaste.”

Since then Jane has become known for her stand-out performances in a plethora of films such as “Love Changes,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Odessa International Film Festival, Manhattan Film Festival and the Toronto Independent Film Festival, WIND International Film Festival Award winner Antonio Chavez Trejo’s (“Bloody Luck”) comedy crime film “Killer Tango,” as well as the film “Mac Daddy and the Lovers,” and the sequel “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure,” which was released earlier this year.

Directed by Mac Jay, who plays the lead character Mac Giani, “Mac Daddy and the Lovers” follows the notorious Mac Daddy, a suave ladies man who seduces rich women and then robs them with the help of his two accomplices. While Mac Daddy doesn’t believe in love, his best friend Franco (played by Mario Novell) does; but unfortunately for Franco, his girlfriend Tina, played by Jane, is a ruthless gold digger who’s only with him for his money.

Jane says, “It was interesting. I personally disagree with her logic on so many levels so it was challenging and interesting to dive into her life to understand her and to be able to play her.”

Right before Franco is about to propose Tina dumps him for a wealthier man. Giving a knockout performance, Jane flawlessly breathes life into her conniving character making Tina an easy character to hate, one who also represents the reason Mac Daddy turned away from love in the first place.

After the successful release of “Mac Daddy and the Lovers,” which earned the Golden Reel Award from the Nevada International Film Festival in 2015, Jane was tapped once again to star in the sequel “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure” where she acts alongside Madeleine Wade (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Sons of Anarchy”), Jacqui Holland (“My Best Friend’s Girl”) and C. Young Artist Award winner Thomas Howell (“The Outsiders,” “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” “Animal Kingdom”). This time Jane was cast in the critical role of Megan, and like the true chameleonic actress she is, she brings Megan to life in a way that it is so different from her character in the previous film that few could tell these characters are played by the same actress.

After finding love in the first film Mac Daddy takes himself out of the game, but when his accomplices continue his former racket without him in “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure” Mac Daddy is forced to come to their rescue. After targeting the wrong woman and pissing off Vegas’ feared Italian mafia boss Alfieri (C. Thomas Howell), Mac Daddy’s accomplices find themselves in hot water. Realizing that his woman was susceptible to the con artists seduction tactics, Alfieri works out a deal with Mac Daddy to teach him his womanizing expertise in order to get a woman to really fall in love with him in exchange for sparing the life of his friend.

Jane’s character Megan comes onto the scene as the unassuming woman who Alfieri seduces into falling in love with him. “She shows that even the mafia lord can truly fall in love and second, that karma will find you no matter what,” says Jane about her character in the film.

While Jane Kapriss has made a name for herself on the big screen on an international scale, she is no stranger to the theatre. Over the years she’s performed starring roles in a number of productions across continents including “Dark Side of the Moon” at The Next Stage theatre in Los Angeles, “Something Outrageous” at the Michael Chekhov Theatre Company in New York, as well as “A Servant of Two Masters” and “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” in Ukraine.

It’s clear from Jane Kapriss’ impressive body of work over the past decade that her first word was without a doubt ‘movie screen’ and that’s exactly where she belongs.

 

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MADDURY CREATES AN EPIC SCORE ALONG THE STORMFRONT

One of the most important things that Steve Jobs proved in his illustrious career is that vision is equally as important, some might say even more so, than the ability to manifest. There’s a bit of a chicken/egg quandary there but, what Jobs made clear was that genius exists in the birth of an idea just as much as creating something. Of course, the symbiosis of these two factors are essential. Technology has created an ease that never existed before. It allows individuals to do what took legions previously. Consider entertainment. The ability to create full length animated productions that are vivid and amazingly realistic require a fraction of the man power previously needed. The same can be said for music. Modern purveyors are able to use technology to make single droning notes or the sonic onslaught of a major symphony orchestra…all at the fingertips of one person. Of course they may not sound exactly like an orchestra with the subtle perfect imperfections that are the human trait but, the end result is so moving and virtually undistinguishable that only the most discerning experts might even notice the minute difference. The animated film “Along the Stormfront” is epic in both its action and its music. Sai Sriram Maddury is the composer who was contacted by Griffin Giersch (Director & Screenwriter of the film) to match the tone of this larger than life story.

“Along the Stormfront” is an animated tale with epic fights and a huge visual landscape. A powerful score was needed to match the striking visuals. The idea was to balance the humor of the tiny characters while also rising to acknowledge the epic battle scenes. The music in the film was the ingredient which empowered the characters to become something akin to superheroes during the battle scenes. In a distant futuristic world, Finn (a fox) and Dallas (an armadillo) take a bus to get to town. They are later attacked by deadly Monster who jump onto the bus. The personalities of these characters are representative of the characteristics the animals are noted for; however, the events of the story call them to achieve inner strength and greatness in a classic story of self-discovery. It’s no coincidence that Maddury’s score recalls visions of superhero films and their grandeur. When Finn stands his ground for himself and his friend against a seemingly unconquerable oppressor, his bravery is announced by a huge brass section.

Griffin Giersch (Director, Screenwriter, & Animator of “Along the Stormfront”) declares,

“Sai was an incredibly important part of making Along the Stormfront what it was. His music brought the project to a higher level that it could not have reached otherwise. The goal with the story was to make an epic action/adventure with elements of suspense, tension, excitement, and some humor thrown into the mix as well. Sai brought all of this to the forefront with his music, letting all the moments of this story shine through. Working collaboratively on projects like this that have so many different aspects and pieces can often be a huge challenge, especially when it comes to communicating and sharing ideas to get everyone on the same page creating a cohesive work. Sai was always right there with us, listening and understanding our thoughts and ideas. He did more than just listen; he brought his own ideas to the table as well. Ultimately, his creative voice came through in a strong way that we hadn’t even expected. His contributions to the project made it even better than we’d hoped.”

Maddury concedes that modern technology has made composers capable of spending more time experimenting with their ideas and sonics with a much more budget friendly approach. Instead of having studio musicians wait “on the clock” while varying approaches are taken, a composer is allowed to hear each of their ideas on a schedule that is conducive to inspiration. This characteristic however does not preclude the use of real instruments and musicians. Sai communicates, “Technology plays a vital role in the process of film scoring. Due to the advancement of technology most of the job is done at the studio with Computers installed with DAW applications (Digital Audio Workstation) and connected to MIDI Keyboards and speakers. The major advantage in today’s music programming technology is to have amazing sample libraries for film scoring, allowing composers to create an orchestral score and make it sound exactly or very close to a live performance. This helps directors and producers to listen to them before going to the scoring stage. Basically now we can have the mock ups for the entire score sound close to the live recording. But for a film that demands an electronic score, it can pretty much be written and produced in your DAW at the studio.  That being said, I love the qualities that come from a more traditional approach in film scores. I’m a musician and have a soft spot for traditional or organic instrumentation. I think it’s the life of a modern composer to use the proper tool for each film they work on.”

05 Sai Sriram Maddury Pic

It’s a testament to this composer’s talent and creativity that he conceived of and created the score for “Along the Stormfront” based on storyboards and sketches rather than the final film. The common practice in the industry is for a composer to view either dailyies or the completed production and then compose based on this. Against normal convention, Sai discussed the characters and the story with Griffin, composing during the animation process in order to meet deadlines. Proof of the success of the film and its composers work lies in its being recognized as an official selection to the Full Bloom Film Festival 2015 and Carrborro Film Festival 2015 as well as receiving the Gold Remi Award at the 49TH WorldFest­Houston International Film and Video Festival. Discussing these accolades, Maddury remarks, “I personally consider awards as a token of encouragement requesting the recipient to contribute more to the respective field of art with which we are involved. Even though I did get more projects to work on as a result of my score for Along the Stormfront, having the experience of working on an award-winning film will always keep one motivated and inspired to work hard and contribute more to the art of film scoring/storytelling.”

Costume Designer Spotlight: Claudia Sarbu

Costume Designer Claudia Sarbu
Costume Designer Claudia Sarbu

A passion that courses through her veins and experience far beyond her years have earned costume designer Claudia Sarbu her place at the forefront of her field. Her sheer talent is reflected in her diverse work on films ranging from the epic 2014 blockbuster “Divergent” to the heartwarming drama “20th Century Women,” released early this year. Few in the field are able to move so seamlessly between such wildly different productions, but Sarbu has been training her entire life.

She was born near Bucharest, and growing up she lived just blocks from the film studio where both her parents worked. Her mother made costumes for the studio and encouraged her daughter’s natural talent.

“I remember when I designed my teacher’s wedding outfit, and then my mom made it,” she said, recalling how she got her first taste of design. “It was very avant-garde for that kind of small town wedding, but she looked great.”

Having been immersed in the field for longer than she can remember, Sarbu knows better than anyone how crucial good costume design is to any production that aims to create a believable universe. She proved this on an enormous scale when she served as Costume Coordinator for “Divergent,” the first in a hotly anticipated series of films based on the trilogy of internationally bestselling books by Veronica Roth. As the costume coordinator, Sarbu was responsible for ensuring the film’s costumes were made and prepared perfectly.

Divergent

The cast of the film made raised the stakes for Sarbu even higher. In addition to Shailene Woodley, known for her roles in “The Fault in Our Stars” and in “The Descendants” (alongside George Clooney), the film also stars Ashley Judd (“Double Jeopardy”) and Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet (“Titanic,” “Finding Neverland”).

The events of “Divergent” take place in a dystopian future where every person must fit neatly into one of five factions, each representing a different virtue. Anyone who is unable to assimilate into one of these factions is labelled a ‘divergent’ and faces mysterious but almost certainly deadly consequences. At the heart of the story is one such divergent, Tris (Woodley), who defiantly resolves to fight back against the unjust system.

The world in which the film is set is fractured and extraordinarily complex, which is mirrored in the relationships between characters and factions. It was an indescribably difficult undertaking to create a costume for each and every character that both captures the individual’s personality and visually represents the character’s faction and their station in the world’s social hierarchy.

“The majority of the costumes for ‘Divergent’ were manufactured in Romania by two workshops, and I was in charge of overseeing both. My job was to develop and translate the illustrations into actual garments by choosing fabrics, deciding on patterning and finishing details, as well as overseeing the quality of the manufacturing, aging and distressing processes,” she said, detailing her staggering list of responsibilities. “At the same time, I had to keep up with the shoot schedule’s demands, meaning prioritizing what to ship first while working under very tight deadlines. It was almost four months of intense work, but in the end we’d delivered over 2,000 pieces of costumes.”

All of Sarbu’s tireless work proved well worth it when “Divergent” was released in March 2014. It immediately shot to the top of the box office in its opening weekend as casual moviegoers and longtime fans of the novels piled into theaters to catch the first chapter in the epic trilogy.

20th Century Women
Poster for “20th Century Women”

At the complete opposite end of the spectrum lies “20th Century Women,” the exceptionally moving autobiographical story of two women who help a mother raise her son against the backdrop of Santa Barbara in 1979.

“The script for ‘20th Century Women’ is one of the closest to my heart, and also one of the most challenging ones I’ve read… spinning between past, present and future and mixed with dreams and flashbacks,” said Sarbu. “The costumes were extremely important to the film’s authenticity. We were dressing real life characters whose personalities and vibes needed to be conveyed through their style.”

The film debuted early this year and starred Annette Bening (“American Beauty”) and Elle Fanning (“Maleficent,” “Super 8”). Audiences and critics lauded “20th Century Women” with praise, and the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Comedy, and a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for Annette Bening for her powerful performance.

Despite being completely unlike “Divergent” in every conceivable way, the importance of Sarbu’s work to the industry at-large is illustrated by the fact that both of these wildly different films needed costumes, and both relied on Sarbu’s talents. For both, and for any other film, Sarbu knows that good costume design starts with understanding the characters and the worlds they live in. In this way, the process she follows for a film set in a nightmarish future is much the same as it would be for a film set in ‘70s-era Southern California. In practice, Sarbu’s process requires the instincts and training that she has honed throughout her illustrious career. When she describes what she does, however, she makes it sound straightforward and almost simple.

“Film and TV are essentially visuals,” she said, “and what people wear is essential to creating that visual.”

 

A PHOTO IS ONLY A GLIMPSE INTO THE DEPTH OF RANDI KENNEDY

Randi Kennedy is attractive…and a fitness enthusiast…and an extremely positive person. How is this possible when she two of the main facets of her life and career are social media and being a fitness model? That’s because much like the aforementioned aspects, Randi Kennedy is much deeper and more complex than a superficial viewing can ascertain. You have to spend time with Kennedy to understand what makes her tick. In contrast, her enthusiasm is evident within the first few seconds of speaking with her. All of these characteristics have led international companies such as 1UP Nutrition and Live Fit apparel to seek her out as an ambassador of brands. In this modern day society where it seems everyone wants to be famous by presenting commonplace as extraordinary, Randi has done the opposite by making her followers and fans believe that her extraordinary accomplishments are achievable by all…something which she wholeheartedly believes.

When posed with the query of how one gets to the same point of success and personal fulfillment that Randi has attained she communicates, “My best advice is to aim big and don’t settle, chase after those dreams. If you aim low, you are going to fall short of the bigger picture and what you truly want to accomplish. I believe you can truly accomplish everything and anything with hard work. Create a game plan for yourself. What do you want to accomplish? What do you need to do to get there? What would the first and second steps be? Take action and keep a clear vision. You’re not going to build your dream career overnight but it will take a lot longer if you give up. Don’t be afraid of hard work and don’t be afraid to take risks. Owning your own business is not easy but it’s worth it.”

Judging Kennedy by her big smile and her athletic physique will misinform you as to the astuteness and determination to have a benevolent effect on those around her, which is the true center of this self-made very modern day success story. As a health and fitness enthusiast herself, she noticed early on that there weren’t a large number of what she considered to be healthy supplements marketed towards women when she first started her journey, this has since changed. While her endorsement and use of such products from companies such as 1UP Nutrition shine a light on the visceral physicality of a woman, her work as one of the faces of Live Fit Apparel embrace the femininity of it. There’s a holistic approach to Kennedy’s personal life and her professional/public one. As with any relationship, Randi feels that both herself and the companies she works with must have a belief in each other. When a common goal appears, both sides benefit. Since it is a working partnership so of course both sides need to feel they are being taken care of for the relationship to work. When it comes to sponsorships in the clothing and supplement industry it typically goes something like this: The sponsor receives a brand affiliate and becomes associated with the influencers brand. They receive marketing which generates more brand awareness and sales. The influencer receives support from the sponsor in the forms of compensation in a monthly salary, commission on sales and can even go as far as support for competitions and further education in addition to marketing by the sponsor.

It’s one of the great dichotomies of the industry that the visual aspect of the exterior is so often displayed as proof of internal health. Sometimes these traits are congruent and sometimes they are not. Kennedy adamantly relates, “I think that it’s very easy to forget about your mental health/mental state when you’re caught up in looking a certain way. Often people are working so hard to improve their physique that they don’t realize how extreme they are being with training and nutrition, which can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and create body dysmorphia. This is something I preach about on my [social media] platforms. I always tell my clients: “Work to improve your mindset just as hard as you work to improve your physique.’ Many people seem to think that fitness is solely having shredded abs and being jacked all year round; little do we know that same person thinks that nothing is good enough, barely eats enough to fuel their body, their energy levels are low, they’re hair is falling out, hormones are out of whack and it’s all in order to look a certain way. Social media does not help with this but I’m happy to say that it is slowly changing, people are sharing a more realistic side of fitness and starting to accept that it is unmaintainable and unrealistic to look like that year round. Not all progress is physical! Fitness is more than a shredded physique.”

In the fitness world, one of the bench marks is having your photo taken by the celebrity photographer known as “King of Covers” Jason Ellis. The noted photographer has taken cover photos for more than five hundred magazines. With his work gracing the covers of magazines such as: Muscle and Fitness, Fitness RX, Oxygen, Iron Man, Men’s Health, Muscular Development, Train, and many others, Ellis is the gold standard of the industry. Jason worked with Randi two years in a row, shooting her at the IFBB Olympia in Las Vegas. He professes, “Randi is a young talent who both reflects the fitness aesthetics and lifestyle and is very astute in her comprehension of the modern industry. She is very marketable and understands how branding works in this new marketplace. Add to that, she is always a pleasure to work with. That positivity of hers is very authentic!”

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Part of the new model of branding and marketing is social media; it’s something which Kennedy has embraced deeply. There’s a duality to the modern approach. Meet & greets and magazine covers are still important to be noticed but social media means there is a necessity and a responsibility to stay connected to followers on a daily basis…no matter where they might be in the world. While she concedes that social media can have negative aspects, Randi also notes, “I enjoy social media in my professional life because it is an amazing way to market to your ideal demographic all over the globe. We literally have access to millions of people at our finger tips. Social media is a very powerful tool if you know how to use it. There is an account for almost every business these days. I enjoy social media in my personal life because I get to capture and share memories and moments that will last a life time. I get to share the experience I had a restaurant and say “hey, you should go here too!” I can share my travels and inspire others to get out there and explore the world. Through my photos they get to see something they might not have ever seen, and then I get to reflect back on it years down the road.” No matter where she might be and what the images she shares, Randi Kennedy will be encouraging and assisting those in her sphere to challenge and better themselves just as she had done.

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