Renowned Writer Camilla Sauer Talks Top Projects

Camilla Sauer is one of Germany’s most successful head writers. Over the past 20 years of her career, she’s been accredited for her remarkable work on over a dozen different TV series, produced by some of the biggest German and European TV and Film production companies.

Getting her start as a creative writer at the young age of 19, Sauer proved early on that she was destined to spend her life creating and telling stories. Just three years after her first professional gig, she went from intern to full-time storyliner on Germany’s second highest rated TV series, Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love). With numerous awards won and over 4,5000 episodes aired, Verbotene Liebe circles around the lives of young men and women in Germany, their friends, and their families, and has become well known for its positive representation of LGBT characters and its presentation of controversial issues. The show is produced by UFA Serial Drama (Metropolis and The Blue Angel), one of Germany’s oldest and most distinguished entertainment brands

Sauer worked on Verbotene Liebe for two of its 20 seasons. From there, she climbed the ranks and earned what would be her first of many head writer titles for a season on the crime series Einsatz für Ellrich, of the award-winning production company, Constantin Entertainment.

“Two years later I started working for Alles Was Zählt, where I continued to work for three years,” Sauer said. “I was there from day one and was fortunate enough to be able to create this TV drama with some of the most talented writers. We were all so different, but each and every one of us was passionate about the show. We were encouraged to tell fresh, new, and compelling stories. We all put 100% of our effort into the stories – and it paid off.”

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Camilla Sauer

In February of 2008, while Sauer was the head writer on the show, Alles Was Zählt was awarded Blu Magazine’s Best National TV Format award for its portrayal of the relationship between two of its characters, Deniz and Roman. Additionally, Guido Reinhardt, Chief Creative Officer of UFA and producer of the groundbreaking series, provided Sauer with the opportunity to work as a creative producer together with the producer of the TV series Unter Uns, ultimately trusting her to relaunch this show and work with a different team of writers, with a different broadcast station in the process. “Camilla is truly a writer of extraordinary merit and ability,” Reinhardt recently commented of his professional colleague of over 10 years. “She possesses a talent that is rare, and it is her unique combination of talent and experience that has resulted in her becoming one of Germany’s most successful head writers.”

Having aired in 2006 to the present, Alles Was Zählt is one of the longest running TV dramas in Germany.

While it’s obvious that creative talent is a must-have when it comes to being a successful writer, one of Sauer’s greatest strengths that Reinhardt pointed out: life experience, along with empathy and a sense of structure, are also qualities that mustn’t be overlooked. Sauer is well versed when it comes to all of these, her expansive success as a head writer in the entertainment industry serving as proof. Expanding upon what she’s learned regarding the importance of these assets, Sauer explained, “It takes empathy to create characters and to be able to connect with how they feel and act. Not because you would do so, but because your character with his background, culture, and personality would do so. It takes some life experience because life gives you the best inspiration every day, everywhere. The best stories I’ve ever heard stem from real life experiences. Lastly, structure is needed to be able to take your story to the next level; To create a plot, a script, a scene. I know a lot of writers who are either very creative, but have issues with creating structure, and vice versa. If you have both – you are considered one of the lucky ones.”

In addition to head writer, Sauer has also worked diligently as a creative producer and story consultant on numerous distinguished projects broadcasted on some of the most established networks throughout Europe such as, Soko Familie, Herzflimmern, Unter Uns, the award winning Dahoam is Dahoam, and Lena – Liebe Meines Lebens, the latter which she first began working on a few years post her work on Alles Was Zählt.

“A story consultant in Germany is probably considered a creative producer, or a co-showrunner in the US. It’s someone who works closely with the producer and/or show runner. Together they create the story concept, characters, and the long running plots of the TV series,” Sauer said of her job title. “This particular work is not so much focused on the details like scenes or dialogue, but more so of the development of the whole concept of the TV series. The staff writers break our ideas down into episodes, scenes, and scripts.”

In 2010, Sauer was hired by the academy award winning production company, Wiedemann & Berg (The Lives of Others, WhoAmI, Welcome to Germany, and Dark), to create Lena – Liebe Meines Lebens with showrunner Günter Overman (Storm of Love, Verschollen, and Hinter Gittern – Der Frauenknast). The series title translates to Lena – Love of My Life in English, and is an adaptation of the Argentine series Don Juan y Su Bella Dama, created by Claudio Villarruel and Bernarda Llorente.

It was on Lena – Liebe meines Lebens where Sauer first worked with co-founder and CEO of Wiedemann & Berg, Quirin Berg. Berg, who thinks quite of the writer’s talents, shared, “I have had the pleasure of working with Camilla Sauer and can without a doubt certify that she is an exceptionally talented head writer, and furthermore, one of the best head writers in Germany. Camilla is extremely unique in many aspects. She is outstandingly creative, a very fast thinker, she has a wonderful ability to express her ideas clearly, create deep and three-dimensional characters, and eventually bring them to life. Additionally, she can immediately identify specific problems in a story and articulate a solution to them.”

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Camilla Sauer

Since 2012, Sauer has been staffed as the head writer for Germany’s hit series Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders (Fate – and suddenly everything is different). Produced by Constantin Entertainment, the TV series has been running for eight years, consists of twelve seasons, and was recently picked up for another (1 year).

In Camilla’s words, the idea behind Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders is that, “Things are not happening to you, they are happening for you. Even if it looks like something bad is happening to you, it just creates a new opportunity for us to learn, to grow, and to eventually make better decisions that lead to a better life. ‘Fate’ is about that one single moment, that ‘accident’ that might look like some random situation, that completely changes your life.”

While working on such a long running show for an extended period of time has its challenges, Sauer has demonstrated that she is an expert when it comes to contributing fresh and exciting stories to an ongoing series, and in doing so has played a pivotal role in the success of Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders. Former CEO of Constantin Entertainment Christoph Knechtel raved of the head writer, “Camilla is truly a head writer of extraordinary merit and ability. I was fortunate enough to witness her extraordinary talent in screenwriting when she served as writer, head writer, and showrunner on numerous television series like K-11-Kommissare im Einsatz, Einsatz für Ellrich, Schicksale, In Gefahr, Im Namen Der Gerechtigkeit, and Soko Familie for huge networks such as Sat. 1, RTL, VOX, and more. Her demonstrated skill and unparalleled creativity on these and other projects have earned Camilla widespread recognition and international acclaim as one of German television’s leading writers.”

Presently, Sauer is in development with the German TV production companies, UFA Serial Drama, Constantin Entertainment, and Bastei Media, on a few pilots and television series while continuing to write for Schicksale – und plötzlich ist alles anders.

 

For more information on Camilla Sauer, please visit: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4646044/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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Francesca Nicassio’s Boutique Agency ‘Stars Academy Talent’ boasts a world-class roster

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Stars Academy Talent founder Francesca Nicassio shot by @annawithlove

Being naturally talented and filled with passion for one’s craft is often not enough to make it as a successful working artist in the ever-changing and incredibly competitive world of entertainment. Often times the difference between those who achieve a successful and sustained career and those who don’t comes down to having the support and guidance of an experienced agent or manager.

With offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, and a roster that includes celebrated actors, dancers, musicians and specialty acts, Francesca Nicassio’s boutique agency Stars Academy Talent (SAT), has been a driving force behind the growth and success of her clientele.

Representing a range of talent that spans the gamut, Francesca’s acting clients currently appear as series leads, principal actors and guest stars on major networks including ABC, NBC, A&E, FOX, Universal, Disney, Nickelodeon, Netflix, Amazon, PBS, YTV, Family Channel, BBC, CTV and others. The list of specialty artists she represents through SAT is equally impressive and includes Broadway stars, principal dancers, emerging musicians, Youtube sensations and social media influencers.

“My goal is always the same, to help my clients realize their dreams and further their careers,” explains Francesca. “I am passionate about each and every client no matter the stage in their career. I am intrigued and inspired by talent and superhuman work-ethic. When those two qualities come together, and we have a clear plan, then success is eminent.”

Over the years Stars Academy Talent has become a strong force in the entertainment industry, due in no small part to Francesca’s seasoned eye for recognizing talent and her passion for the process. It was that fiery passion and dedication to helping talents achieve their dreams that first led Francesca to open Stars Academy (SA) in Toronto area back in 2000. SA began as a private performing arts school offering classes in music, dance and the dramatic arts, and Francesca brought in a world-class faculty to ensure her students received the training they needed to both excel and be competitive in the industry.

While she continued to direct the academy for 15 years, Francesca moved into her role as a talent manager rather organically as more and more of the talents she trained began booking professional work and requesting she represent them personally. With an entirely devoted approach, she’s made it a point to let the needs of her clients dictate the direction of her company and services, and it was from there that SA evolved into the boutique talent agency SAT.  

“I took pride in being their backbone and part of their unwavering support system because that is vital in such a challenging industry. I felt as though I was part of their journey experiencing the highs and lows with students who I knew so well and had become like family members,” explains Francesca. “As more and more asked for representation, I knew it was my calling to focus on the agency and artist management.”

With a strong and fruitful relationship already in place, as her young clients grew into adults Francesca expanded her roster to include talents of all ages, with her youngest client today being 3-year-old Canadian Instagram star Luigi Columbo and her most mature being 80-year-old award-winning director and actress Gaylynn Baker who’s based in LA.

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Inside Francesca’s Stars Academy Talent Office. Photo by @annawithlove

Though SAT has grown exponentially, Francesca continues to run the agency with the same founding philosophy of SAT existing as more of a tight-knit family where every client, regardless of where they’re at in their career, receives the attention and support they need in order to progress.

“I now maintain a client list of around 100 artists including star names, emerging and developmental talents of all ages,” explains Francesca. “I am very hands-on and work closely with my talents to make sure they get the guidance and feedback they need to be their very best. They can always count on me to support them through thick and thin. Our roster is a family and it takes a village to become and sustain a career as a working artist. I strive to foster an environment of teamwork, collaborations and encouragement.”

In response to the growing needs of her emerging music clients, she founded the indie record label and music management company FAN ENTERTAINMENT INC., in 2016. She says, “I have been managing distribution, PR and bookings for my musician clients for years now so it was a natural progression to start the label. I have a team of the best writers, producers, video directors, consultants, legal advisors and of course some of the most talented emerging musicians out there, so it was an easy decision.”

The first act she signed was Canadian pop band The Revel Boys, who will be featured on CTV’s highly anticipated music series “The Launch” as one of Canada’s top 30 emerging musical acts. Her music clients have topped world-wide viral and trending charts, charted on iTunes, and have been added to prominent Spotify playlists including New Music Friday, Discover Weekly and many others.

In an article published by Rolling Stone about how Spotify playlists can turn an artist’s song into a hit, Steven Knopper writes, “Big names like Ed Sheeran are almost guaranteed space on prominent playlists. For smaller names, the journey takes longer.” While this is true for the most part, Francesca explains, As an indie record label, it’s all about knowing the right moment to lobby for my artists, getting booked on a music series, going viral and getting placed on any prominent playlist has become as important as radio play and the moves we make in the wake of that are vital.”

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Talent agent Francesca Nicassio shot by @annawithlove

As a strong and fearless woman working in the entertainment industry, and someone who’s successfully managed to build a boutique agency whose talents consistently work at the same level as the biggest international agencies and management firms, Francesca Nicassio is not only helping her artists achieve their dreams, but she’s using her position to support others. She is an Executive Member of Women in Film (WIF) in Los Angeles, an organization that has been working to empower women in the film industry and create an equal playing field for over four decades.

Francesca says, “It’s about women helping women in an industry where we have been statistically underrepresented and treated unfairly. I am strongly committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion in all areas of my life and career, and of course the careers of my clients,  so it is an honor to work towards this with like-minded women. “

She’s contributed to multiple other non-profits focused on arts in education, such as Artists In the Classroom, for which she’s placed professional dance and music educators in participating schools for free extra curricular music theatre arts programs for 17 years. She’s also spent the last 20 years working with local private arts educators to provide thousands of dollars in dance music and theatre training scholarships to underprivileged children and teens, and has recently focused on the anti-bullying movement by placing young stars in schools across Canada to speak to students and bring awareness to the issue. Additionally, Francesca has volunteered as an entertainment booker and director of annual events for CIBC Run for the Cure since 2000 and Toys for Tots since 2002.

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Music Week casts artists in new light with help of influencer Ashley Bruzas

When Digital Writer and Content Producer, Ashley Bruzas, looks back on her life, she cannot ever remember a time where writing was not a main component of her deepest inner passions. As a child, she recalls her mother and father encouraging her to send hand written letters to her family members, praising her for her adept ability to articulate and for the way in which she used her extensive vocabulary to express herself in an interesting way. From then on, she made a personal point of ensuring that she made full use of the resources within her reach to be able to establish well-rounded, educated points of view. For Bruzas, it was always important to embrace the historical, cultural, and personal differences of the world around her and to celebrate these variations through the stories she tells.

“I have always had a passion for writing and I have been able to use my writing and journalism background to assist me with a number of different positions that have required my skills as a writer and digital content producer. Of course, digital writing involves writing content such as news stories, editorials, opinion pieces, blogs, etc., that are published in a digital environment and that can be accessed through digital devices and online platforms that require the internet to be searched, shared, commented on, and more. It is essentially the same as a content producer; however, you are working alongside others to bring life to new ideas and create unique content that is ultimately shared across different mediums,” stated Bruzas.

One of the most essential qualities that Bruzas has developed thus far in her career is her ability to maximize her versatility at all times, be that through her skill set, her range of job opportunities, her collaboration with influential brands, and more. In fact, her versatility is undoubtably the reason that she has successfully branched out into various inherently different, yet interrelated fields. For instance, throughout her career, Bruzas has utilized her journalism skills and techniques to work for the Toronto Observer in both a print and digital fashion. In addition, she uses her online presence to obtain viewership on her prosperous lifestyle blog, WhoIsVeronika.com, as well as to earn a substantial following on other various social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. When Bruzas sets her mind on something, she stops just short of nothing to not only achieve it, but to do so while exceeding all expectations of those around her. This is why, earlier on in 2017, she managed to earn herself a position working at CIUT 89.5FM, writing on air announcements, station advertisements, organizing shows, and running the control board, as well as organizing large-scale initiatives such as Canadian Music Week 2017.

For Bruzas, working at CIUT 89.5FM meant so much more than expanding upon her skill set in the field of radio journalism. It was an opportunity to explore one of the oldest forms of journalism, whilst excelling in her area of expertise: connecting with niche audiences and sharing information on a digital platform that requires elements of content production. Her in-depth understanding of how to interact through the use of social media allowed her to help CIUT 89.5FM reach audiences in ways they hadn’t ever imagined before she came on board. This, paired with her dexterity as a journalist lead to her leaving a lasting mark on the station and its counterparts. They were fortunate to have such an accomplished member on board and shared in the sentiments that she has received from previous co-workers throughout her professional career in terms of applauding her versatility and commending her unprecedented work ethic. Imad Elsheikh, for instance, who has worked with Bruzas on a number of occasions through creative agency, PIQUE, and highly esteemed brand, MooseKnuckles, celebrates her versatility and similar to those who worked with Bruzas at CIUT 89.5FM, found her to be instrumental to the success of the initiatives she shared her expertise on.

“The best word to describe Ashley would be versatile. She is able to integrate many skills, like pitching ideas, writing, interviewing, working with people, understanding target demographics and creating a final product that combines all of the elements that are needed to create original content that can be shared. She has appeared both in front of and behind the camera and delivers on her work promptly, working around the clock and with others to make sure there is a common objective for everyone on board. I have yet to work with Ashley on a project that was not well received and imitated by others in the realm of social media and content/writing,” noted Elsheikh.

Working at CIUT 98.5FM meant writing content for a terrestrial range of more than 8 million people. Bruzas, with a personal following of over 85,000 people, was the ideal candidate for the job due to her understanding of interacting with and appealing to a large audience. She went above and beyond the call of duty in order to introduce new artists, segments, stories, and news happening in Toronto that would be relevant to the station’s target audience, and demographic that she had a strong foundational understanding about from her previous work history. She is a natural-born connector and has a profound ability to inspire others to join in her efforts to celebrate the undiscovered talents and skill sets of individuals all over the globe. When she worked on the Canadian Music Week 2017 project, in particular, she took great pride in increasing awareness of the station and bringing together artists and listeners who would find value in experiencing the programs she created. In the process, she was thrilled to be able to brush up upon her skills as an interviewer, communicator, writer, radio host, editor, and content producer.

In all, working for CIUT 98.5FM and coordinating top projects like their Canadian Music Week 2017 helped reinforce the fact that Bruzas is equipped with a rare skill set and one which she maximizes the use of on a continual basis. She takes great pride in knowing that she helps to inform and inspire through the content that she generates and she hopes to be able to continue to do so for the remainder of her career. In the long term, she endeavors to use her platform as a journalist and a digital writer to give a voice to the voiceless in our society and raise awareness about uncovered issues across the globe. In the meantime, she continues to build her online presence and tell compelling stories to all that will listen. Check out her blog for a better idea: WhoIsVeronika.com.

 

Photo by Pat Moore

Watch Ryan Hughes give back to his community in special “CS:GO” charity edition

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Ryan Hughes is widely known under the alias ‘Bucks”

It can be argued that Western society has progressed quicker in the last decade than in the last 50 years combined. With the rise of technology and the ever-changing way in which information is created, distributed, and consumed, it is easier than ever before to spread a given message or idea across the globe. In the wake of this fast-paced societal transformation, there lies a community that was seemingly inconceivable for generations gone by: a network of online personalities, social media moguls, and internet gurus. More commonly, we now understand these individuals as being social media influencers: social media users who have established credibility within a specific industry and who have access to a large audience, allowing them to persuade their followers by virtue of their authenticity and reach. While it may appear to be a glamorous profession, in reality, social media influencers undergo immense amounts of pressure and public scrutiny for the views they put forth before others. For the most part, however, they attract large followings of supporters who value their efforts and find inspiration in their content. For one social media influencer in particular, Ryan Hughes, it is a dream job and one that he cherishes dearly. It is his pride and joy and the British-native works tirelessly to ensure that it is everything his followers desire and more.

“Being an influencer, especially on YouTube, is a 24/7 job. There isn’t a time of day where it is not on your mind. You’re constantly juggling your next idea, your future ideas, your current online performance, any increase or decrease in growth, any upcoming deadlines, any contracts, or sponsorships, etc. It takes a great toll on you mentally,” said Hughes.

Hughes began his YouTube career in 2012 when he created a channel under the alias, “BuckFizz,” a name which he later shortened to “Bucks.” It wasn’t until he began attracting thousands upon thousands of followers that he decided to leave his role at a large, global digital marketing agency to pursue a full-time occupation as a professional social media influencer. Today, his YouTube channel hosts to over 400,000 subscribers and all of his videos combined have earned a remarkable 62,839,195 views and counting. In addition, Hughes Instagram and Twitter accounts have earned upward of 90,000 and 72,000 followers respectively. As he continues to create and publish his content, those numbers are only sure to rise. His reach is wide and his motivation to expand his presence in the online entertainment industry is stronger than ever before.

At the beginning of his YouTube career, Hughes set out to create a channel that would act as a source of entertainment and laughter within the online gaming community. He recorded himself playing popular online games, full of tips and tricks as well as elements of his own quirky personality. Today, he has expanded his content to include not only gaming material, but also personal vlogs, product promotions, and much more. For instance, earlier this year, Hughes was selected as a candidate to promote and endorse a Cineplex and WorldGaming tournament in Canada which has earned nearly 100,000 views in total and can be found online here. In another of his brand collaborations, Hughes was approached by the app, Skinsilo, to promote their inflammable mobile phone case. In situations like this, companies will reach out to social media influencers in order to use their creative space and their strong followings to promote their products. These influencers are often given full creative reign to create a video using and reviewing the chosen product. In his collaboration with Skinsilo, Hughes entertainingly set fire to a phone, which you can watch here.

Hughes is well known for his unusual, captivating antics and his followers continue to tune into his videos time and time again knowing that they will get to see whatever exciting new idea he has conjured up. Another of his more notable characteristics, however, which makes him an even larger source of inspiration for his subscribers, is the fact that he is consistently looking for ways to not only connect with his followers, but to reach out to them and to give back to the community in whichever way he can. He recognizes that social media platforms provide influencers like himself a unique opportunity to raise money and awareness about prominent social issues and he is proud to work in an industry that makes a great effort to support individuals and communities in our society that experience hardship in their daily lives.

“Charity is a very important thing in my life. As a child, I always vowed that I would support charities at all costs, no matter what sort of salary I’m making. There are so many people in this world that experience unfair situations and I think it is imperative that as humans, we join together and help,” Hughes noted.

On May 22, 2017, a homemade bomb was detonated at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in Manchester, United Kingdom. In the wake of this devastating attack, twenty-three people were killed and over 500 others were injured. When Hughes learned of this news, he was extremely affected and determined to find a way to lend his support to the victims and loved ones of this horrific event. In June, he learned of a crowdfunding page hosted by the website, www.justgiving.com, and decided that he would find a unique way to raise money to donate to the cause.

“Working on this involved playing on the sponsored website, CSGORoll.com, which essentially offers Vegas-style games to bet on using onsite credit which can be exchanged and withdrawn in the form of in-game cosmetics for CS:GO. To raise money, I filmed myself playing on the website to earn as much money as possible to donate to the charity. In the end, myself and the website put forward a total of over $1700.00. In addition, the amount that my audience donated in total is unknown due to the fact that they were contributing to a large-scale crowdfunding page; however, it is thought to have added a substantial amount to their total. You can watch the video here,” indicated Hughes.

Hughes’ manager and agent, Ryan Fenwick, took great pride in knowing that he is representing such a courageous, giving individual and supported Hughes every step of the way for this initiative. He was astounded by Hughes’ drive to carry this project out carefully and considerately. He wanted to raise as much money as possible, whilst still appealing to his audiences and making sure that the entertainment and fun they know and love about him was not compromised at any given point.

“Ryan and I worked very closely to come up with a highly effective way to make a positive impact. Not only did Ryan show great support and love, he went above and beyond to complete the video in a timely manner. I’ve never seen someone miss so much sleep over a charity video before, but I could really tell that Ryan cared and his fans did the same. He has one of the most sickening work ethics I’ve ever seen and he is truly dedicated to creating as much valuable content as possible. He’s by far the greatest social influencer I get to work with on a daily basis.

For Hughes, being able to use his YouTube channel to generate awareness about this tragic event, but also a financial contribution to its victims, was indescribable. He felt that being able to bring such a powerful meaning to this particular video gave it a very intense feel and he made a strong effort to raise as much money as he possibly could in order to donate. Being able to combine his creative and philanthropic interests was unlike anything he had ever done before on his channel and it inspired him to continue to do so for as long as his YouTube and social media influencing career will permit.

 

Join Dixie Chan in honoring Borneo’s unsung environmental heroes

At the outset of her career as a documentary film producer, Dixie Chan made it a long-term goal to one day use her talents to cast a light on an important social issue. For Chan, being a film producer allows her to research compelling people, places, and customs across the globe and share them with interested audiences alike. In her eyes, it is a privilege to be able to take advantage of the social platform that her profession provides her and if she can make a difference in the life or social awareness of even one individual, she’ll have succeeded.

“Being able to tell a good, compelling story that will resonate with people for a long time requires experience, technique, patience and empathy — all elements which I believe can be honed when you are learning and working with the best in the field. During my college years, I started going to film festivals and getting more exposed to independent documentaries and films, many of which were centered around social issues. I became so fascinated by the visual and narrative power of these films and I knew I had to be a part of it,” Chan discussed.

As Chan became more and more involved in the realm of narrative documentary filmmaking, she realized that her dreams to raise awareness about socially charged issues was not at all unrealistic. In fact, she has gone on to work on several documentary films and shows that cast a light on various places and people around the world who share in her desire to educate the masses about important issues, be they cultural, environmental, historical, political, religious, etc. In her role as the producer of an upcoming project, Chan had the unique opportunity to bring viewers inside a world where a group of passionate individuals ensure that China’s ancient trees are protected and its legacy of woodcraft is preserved for prosperity. Similarly, when she acted as the Story Producer for Frontier Borneo, Chan was not only able to work in one of the world’s most spectacular rainforests, but she was able to do so whilst supporting their local environmental conservation efforts.

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Frontier Borneo is a Discovery Channel documentary series showcasing a breathtaking, action-packed journey following the lives of remarkable men and women and unforgettable creatures on the third largest island on the planet. Interesting and unusual feats like dealing with home-made bombs in the oceans, exploring uncharted jungles, rescuing endangered animals and coming face to face with deadly creatures are all in a day’s work for the characters featured. Chan was asked to produce this awe-inspiring documentary in March of 2016 and later, when it premiered on February 28, 2017, it became apparent why.

“This project was an especially challenging production that was shot across 6 months in some of Borneo’s most treacherous terrain. Dixie was able to manage production of one shoot, which typically covers jungles, crocodile-infested rivers and seas, while doing the preproduction work of researching and casting of an upcoming shoot, all at the same time. Despite her ability to coordinate different aspects of the production simultaneously, she remains extraordinarily meticulous and hands on at every step and this enabled production to move forward seamlessly with minimal delay,” told Jacqueline Leow, Production Manager, who currently works at Beach House Pictures, one of Asia’s largest media company producing content for the international market.

Not only was she the most experienced producer working on the project, but she also proved to be invaluable to the entire initiative. She has an ability to juggle competing priorities with ease and to logistically map out every task involved with a project to such a degree that other cast and crew members are never left wondering what is required of them. For this particular project, Chan made it a top priority to establish and facilitate effective working relationships with her team, as well as the locals, due to the intimate nature of their filming location. She inspired each and every member involved to treat Frontier Borneo as a passion project, as opposed to an average job. In addition, her experience working in rural areas of China on other career projects gave her an advantage when liaising between crew members and local conservationists. Her adept understanding of Chinese working culture allowed her to bridge any cultural gaps they encountered and helped the planning, filming, and production processes unfold seamlessly.

“The rapport that I was so intent on building with the locals helped immensely in production, from accessing hard-to-film areas to getting information post-shoot, and even getting translators for interviews done in the tribal languages,” Chan reflected.

All in all, in order to make Frontier Borneo the true success that it was, Chan had to immerse herself mentally and physically into this expansive Malaysian rainforest and wildlife sanctuary. Whether they were shooting about marine conservation or mountain marathons, Chan was directly involved and on scene. To be so heavily engaged in such a hands-on Discovery Channel documentary is something that few producers can say they’ve ever done, let alone well enough to earn awards and accolades along the way. For Chan, however, being professionally recognized for her efforts meant little in comparison to the humbling knowledge that she and her team were able to truly celebrate the livelihood and struggles of the selfless individuals fighting to protect our Earth’s enriched wildlife and environment. Acknowledging the heroes of Borneo on such a large, influential scale gratifies her in an indescribable way and served as a safe reminder that she is doing exactly what she wants to be doing with her life.

Yayun Hsu talks pressure of producing first-ever American Influencer Awards

For award-winning film producer Yayun Hsu, being one step ahead of her work has always served her well in her field. Hsu understands better than most just how unpredictable a film set can be and learned the value of proactivity very early on in her career. She has since developed a style of producing whereby she strives to eliminate her proverbial “to-do” list on any and every set she works on. This is not to suggest that she wishes to kick up her feet and relax at work; however, it motivates her to meticulously plan each film shoot to such an extent that it could hypothetically run itself. By anticipating and accounting for any possible setbacks on set, she is always on her toes and ready to react when an issue arises. Her instinctive ability to problem solve, coupled with her desire to be an invaluable asset to any film project, makes her a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry, and she is taking her field by storm.

“I’m a problem solver at heart and I enjoy being a leader. In a book I read years back called Producer to Producer, the author noted that his students would often approach him to tell him that they could not afford a producer. To this he would reply, “You cannot afford not to have one.” This idea spoke to me and it became my goal to become invaluable as a producer in this industry. I like the idea of the crew needing me and I want to be that one producer that comes to mind whenever someone is looking to start a new project and to make it great,” told Hsu.

Throughout her career, Hsu has produced a number of highly acclaimed films, such as Because I Love You, and Caged Bird. In fact, after writing, directing, and producing the film Eli, she went on to receive prestigious awards such as Best Woman Filmmaker at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards in March 2017 and an Award of Distinction at the Canadian International Short Film Fest. Given that Eli was Hsu’s first major project for which she both directed and produced, she classifies it as a large accomplishment in her repertoire. It is one of the greatest highlights of her career thus far, and helped encourage her to continue pursuing filmmaking and producing for a living. In addition to Eli, Hsu considers producing the American Influencer Awards in November of this year as being another of her major career highlights to date.

“The American Influencer Awards were a unique accomplishment in my career. It represented my first “live” work, which came with its own new set of challenges. There were so many different responsibilities involved, from working with celebrities to coordinating with corporate sponsors, and more. I really learned a lot from the experience,” reflected Hsu.

The American Influencer Awards is an awards show for the online beauty influencer community. For the show, award-nominee video packages were played at the ceremony, and a live stream of the awards show was broadcasted on YouTube for fans of these wildly popular beauty influencers. With that, Hsu was responsible for conducting background research as it pertained to the nominees’ video packages, cutting demo video footage, securing an event location, a contact cast and crew, handling catering services, preparing props, and several other essential roles. In addition, during post-production, she helped edit and color-grade all of the event footage.

Interestingly, this was the first ever American Influencer Awards show and for that reason, Hsu was intrigued by the idea that she would be able to sculpt and shape something that would hopefully be such a success that its sponsors would like it to be replicated for years to come. Most importantly, however, she was both excited and nervous about the idea that she would be producing live content for the show. Her quest for perfection in her work grew with the understanding that there were no opportunities for re-dos. All of the content she was working with would be taken at face value, the first time and therefore, she exercised her best use of her skillset to ensure that her audiences could reap the benefits. She researched the show’s content, guests, and the style of live production heavily before she began planning, and after she gathered all of her ideas for nominee award packages, she and her team were able to narrow their ideas down to fifteen of the best packages for storyboarding. Her expertise was crucial in making sure that the entire production moved at a favorable pace and that the show’s events were shot with fluency. The show’s Executive Producer, Jay James, was blown away by Hsu’s contributions to the success of the show and hopes to be able to call on her again next year to make the show’s second annual awards ceremony as great as the first.

“Yayun demonstrated that she can listen well and perform under pressure. Her innate ability to multitask makes her a clear standout in my eyes. It also helped that many people that were in attendance at the event commented on how Yayun had helped them or made arrangements for them in advance, which totally gave the show an extra professional touch. We will definitely be calling her for our next American Influencer Awards show,” told James.

After months and months of tireless preparation, countless long hours, and ample effort, Hsu was relieved and grateful to hear the thanks and praise of her boss and clients. She felt proud and accomplished to know that she was responsible for the show’s success and she hopes to be able to continue that trend for future American Influencer Awards shows in years to come.

Lili Huang reflects on “Mei Mei”, one of the highlights of her career

When Lili Huang looks back on her life, she finds it difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that she decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a filmmaker. As a young child, she lived with her grandparents and fondly recalls making up stories to entertain them during family time. She would dream up a world of little ideas, laughing hysterically as she acted them out for her audience and looking forward to the next time she would get to bring her characters to life before their eyes. She was always bursting with tales to share and she quickly learned that making movies allowed her to channel that creative energy productively. Today, the talented screenwriter, director, editor, and producer, has proven herself to be a strong presence in the industry and hopes to continue to grow that reputation for several years to come.

Throughout her career, Huang as lent her talents to a number of esteemed projects. In conjunction with other filmmakers, she has worked on several international feature film productions, such as The Jade Pendant and The Bombing. For projects like these, Huang often poses not only as a contributor to the filmmaking process, but also as a communicator between Mandarin-speaking colleagues on the Chinese side of production and English-speaking colleagues on the American side of production. Her vast amount of experience working within and outside of her native country give her a unique edge above her competition.

In addition to her work with international film productions, Huang writes, directs, edits, and produces her own scripts. Through her original concept films such as Xixi, and The Flower of the Future, Huang endeavors to broaden the perspectives of her audiences and open their eyes to cultural and intellectual issues across the globe. In fact, one of the highlights of her career thus far was in 2014 and 2015, when she created Mei Mei. Mei Mei follows the life of a Chinese girl living in the United States with her American adoptive parents. At school, a new boy joins Mei Mei’s class after moving from China to America with his mother. Struggling to make friends and assimilate to American culture, Chris attempts to bond with Mei Mei over their shared heritage; however, to his dismay, she is not so keen. As time elapses, Chris begins to teach Mei Mei the Chinese language. The story eventually comes to an end when Chris must move back to China due to his illness. Fortunately, Mei Mei has their time together to cherish in her memory and is finally able to come to terms with her own identity struggles.

“I think this film is so important because identities are crucial to each and every single person, no matter where they’re from. It’s a question of who we are, where we come from, where we’ll go, and how we will recognize and appreciate the culture we belong to. So many people face these kinds of issues on a daily basis, especially if they’re exploring a new culture or place. For some people, it takes a lifetime to come to terms with these internal struggles. Mei Mei does an effective job of showing that as long as you find confidence and comfort in your own identity, the peace inside your heart will allow your bravery to shine through,” stated Huang.

As the sole creator of Mei Mei, Huang had to exercise her abilities as a screenwriter, director, producer, and editor, all at the same time. With that, she had to finesse every single detail from conceptualizing, to filming, to post-production. She began by developing her script and upon receiving approval from her advisors and mentors, she solicited the help of a cast and crew. Together, they filmed each scene, carefully ensuring that they captured all of Chris and Mei Mei’s emotional conquests. Once they were certain that they had footage that they could be proud of, Huang edited it together to create her final project. Xuhua Hu, who was fortunate enough to work with Huang on the film, was impressed by the way in which her own experiences working in China and the United States helped her to form the film’s underlying mood and emotional tones.

“Lili has accumulated a vast amount of experience and understanding of film production resources through her work in China and the United States. After working with her, I can confidently say that she is an invaluable professional filmmaker. Not only that, but she is a talented and outstanding screenwriter,” said Hu.

Mei Mei premiered in May of 2015 and Huang was extremely humbled by the way her audience received it. She was showered with praise and recognition for the hard work and dedication that she had put into ensuring that the project was a success. To her added delight, Mei Mei garnered a substantial amount of acclaim when it screened at festivals around the world. In fact, the film earned her an Official Selection at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, as well as at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Film, and won Best Screenplay at the Golden Panda Awards in 2015. Though she does not conduct her work solely in pursuit of awards and praise, Huang was extremely humbled by the Mei Mei’s tremendous success. She felt that these awards were a testament to the devotion she had for the film and to her career as a whole.

So, what’s next for this talented filmmaker? Recently, Huang was hired to be the screenwriter of an animated feature film called Sang Sang, which is being developed by Shanghai Animation Film Studios. If Huang were able to tell her childhood self that she would one day write a screenplay for the number one animation production company in China, she would be overwhelmed with joy.