The diverse work of Italian line producer Nicola (Nick) De Stefani has taken him around the world several times over, and although his work on countless award-winning commercials and documentaries has put him in many perilous situations, his love for his work and dedication to getting the shot has kept him calm and motivated even in the face of life-threatening danger.
While De Stefani has fulfilled the role of producer on several documentaries, his most consistent role over the last 25 years has been that of a line producer, which means he functions as the key manager of daily operations for the majority of projects he takes on.
During his time as co-owner and producer with World Watching Film from 1990 to 1995, De Stefani produced nearly 20 documentaries informing audiences on everything from the indigenous people, native plants and animals, and magnificent, yet equally treacherous mountain ranges, which exist in various parts of the world.
A dedicated producer, Nick De Stefani explains, “it was my production company that was producing and realizing the projects so it was my job to work at my best, even at the cost of being bitten or strangled by a snake, eaten alive by a nearby tiger that no one knew was around, or stomped by an Indian rhino.”
Some of his documentary titles include Tsaatan, Gli Uomini Renna (Tsaatan, The Reindeer Men) and I Nomadi Kazaki Degli Altai (The Kazak nomads of the Altai), which he shot in Mongolia, Il Mondo Perduto – Roraima (The Lost World – Roraima) and La Pianura Infinita – Llanos (The Endless Plain – Llanos), which he shot in Venezuela, Il Destino Del Gigante – Chitwan (The fate of the giant – Chitwan) and Il Parco di Chitwan (The Park of Chitwan), which he shot in Nepal, as well as many others.
“In the forests of southern Nepal, at Chitwan National Park, I had to tackle and handle a 10-foot constrictor snake by the tail, while my working partner was filming it. I did the same thing in Venezuela with a 12 foot injured anaconda, which had an extended mycosis on one side,” admits De Stefani.
In addition to taking on his main role as the producer of these documentaries, De Stefani also fulfilled various other roles while on location including co-director, sound recorder, art director, grip, electrician, and cameramen.
“Making these kind of documentaries means that you alone, or you and your working partner, will do the job an entire crew does while filming a feature film or a commercial,” says De Stefani. “You have to have the knowledge and the skills to cover all the roles.”
After De Stefani and his partner Rolando Menardi closed World Watching Films in 1995, De Stefani switched his focus from documentary filmmaking to the commercial world, an area in which he has found unparalleled success.
While Nick De Stefani’s love for exploration and the wild unknown made him an asset and key developer in the production of documentaries, these same traits have also made him an irreplaceable counterpart as the line producer on multiple award-winning commercials for high profile brands including Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Ariston Aqualtis, Tuborg, Ferrero, Vodafone, Volvo and many more. For the last two decades De Stefani has been a go-to line producer for commercials for some of the world’s leading ad agencies like BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Lowe Pirella, and Grey.
On a commercial for Snam, a division of Italy’s largest gas company, Nick used his knowledge of Alaska and his vast skills as a line producer to make the commercial a success.
“It is not everyday that you have the chance to shoot in the middle of the ice and in my personal experience these, along with the desert, are the most challenging grounds you have to cope with… Nick helped us all, with a perfect blend of a professional and friendly attitude. It is important, especially when you are in a tough ground, to have very focused people around you who can help solve problems, but at the same time capable smiling and keeping the atmosphere light and pleasant, even in the most difficult situations,” explained Simona Ferraro, who is an executive producer at Filmmaster Service based in Rome.
Nick’s ability to think quickly and always find the tools necessary for the director and the rest of the team to create a successful production has been an asset to every project he has worked on.
Check out one of the commercials Nick De Stefani produced for Indesit Company’s Ariston Aqualtis washing machine below! Indesit Company is one of the leading European manufacturers and distributors of major domestic appliances. The commercial was directed by Italy’s three-time Advertising Director of the Year, Dario Piana. Piana has shot over 650 commercials over the course of his career, as well as received countless awards including four Gold, three Silver and four Bronze Lion Awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and a Clio Grand Prix Award.
Recognized throughout Mexico for her roles on the popular shows María Belén and La Rosa de Guadalupe, Daniela Mandoki has created an astonishing reputation as a go-to actress for a variety of challenging roles.
Mandoki’s most recent film roles include Valeria in Divina Confusión and Laura in Obediencia Perfecta. Unfolding like a love story gone sour, Divina Confusión opens with a melancholy dialogue about moving on between Dante, played by Damer, and Javier, played by Xabiani Ponce de Leon who plays Marco on Disney’s hit series Violetta. The way the dialogue proceeds on an emotional level leads audiences to believe that the two men are lovers, however, with the appearance of Valeria, played by Daniela Mandoki, we quickly learn that the two men are talking about moving on from their band and Valeria is in fact Javier’s girlfriend.
“It was a very smart way to distract the audience,” explained Mandoki. “It’s incredible how we as the audience jump to conclusions forgetting that close relationships go beyond romance.”
In addition to her work on-camera, Daniela Mandoki has also starred in a lengthy list of well-known theater productions under the direction of world renowned directors including Emmy and Oscar Award winner Milton Justice and Christopher Thornton who is known for the films Sympathy for Delicious, Hitched, I’m With Stupid, Pretty Persuasion, Welcome To California, as well as many others.
Putting the vast nature of her craft on display, Mandoki took on two drastically different roles in Milton Justice’s production of “Our Town.” Taking the stage as both Rebecca Gibbs, an 8-year-old girl, and Mrs. Louella Soames, a 60-year-old woman, Mandoki transitioned with ease between the role of the young and naïve Gibbs and the elderly town gossip and choir singer Mrs. Soames. A talented singer and musician herself, Mandoki amazed audiences across Los Angeles with her capacity as a vocalist in her performance of Mrs. Soames.
The actress proved her diversity once again when she took the stage in the male role of Schuppanzigh in the production of “Black Comedy” under the direction of Christopher Thornton. Mandoki’s remarkable theater resume also includes the productions of Juan Gabriel Moreno’s Delitto All’isola Delle Capre (Crime on Goat-Island), Ana Lourdes Lopez and Margarita Mandoki’s Abrir La Ventana (Open The Window), Israel Velasco’s El Paraiso De Los Gatos (Cat’s Paradise), and more.
Audiences in New York will have the opportunity to see Daniela perform this March in Elia K. Schneider’s upcoming theater production of “Judgment on a Gray Beach” where the actress will take the stage in the starring role of Josephine. A new production based on the work of Franz Kafka, the production will be held at the La MaMa theater. One of the most recognized venues for experimental theater in New York, La MaMa has received more than 30 OBIE Awards, as well as a long list of Drama Desk, Bessie and Villager Awards since its founding 50 years ago.
Originally from Mexico City, Mexico, Maria Bosque is an actress whose extraordinary range and versatile look has put her front and center as a go-to talent for film and theater productions in both Latin America and the United States.
Over the course of her career Maria has landed starring roles in the films Ellas, Solo Yo, Final Test, Oh Jesus and many more. In her most recent film, Oh Jesus, Maria Bosque touches the hearts of international audiences in the role of Violet, a young woman who is made to feel shame over her homosexuality. Riddled with theological and sci-fi influences, Oh Jesus follows Violet on a journey spearheaded by a chance encounter with Jesus who leads her back in time in order to decipher and repair the ill-fated event that brought about her homosexuality. However during her journey with Jesus, Violet discovers something much more valuable than the anecdote for her homosexuality– self-love and acceptance. After realizing that she cannot spend her entire life running away from herself and her problems, Violet comes out of the closet with confidence professing her true feelings for the girl she is in love with.
A film with a powerful message for audiences across the world regardless of their individual sexuality, Maria Bosque brought Violet’s struggle to life in a way that is honest, relatable and downright beautiful. She explained, “I love playing strong female roles, and I love doing things that have an important message, especially for those girls that are going through a similar thing in their one lives.”
In addition to her work as an actress on film, Maria Bosque is renowned for her talents on stage as well. She got her first taste of the theater in the production of The Wizard of Oz in Victoria, Canada, and has since gone on to star in countless productions including Titus Andronicus, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, and The Seagull, as well as the plays Six Degrees of Separation, Waiting For Godot and Middleton, which were directed by Oscar winner Milton Justice.
“I like to choose characters that are very different from me, ones that I haven’t done before,” said Bosque.
In the production of Anton Checkov’s The Seagull, Maria played the starring role of Masha, an affluent young woman who repeatedly refuses the affections of Medvedenko in an effort to hold out for Konstantin the man with whom she is in love. A sad melodrama about unrequited love, Masha eventually gives in and marries Medvedenko and has his child, a choice that dooms her to live a depressed and unfulfilled life as she continues to harbor feelings for Konstantin.
“There is something very sad and beautiful about her. I guess I like the darker side of things because I am always very drawn to these types of characters,” admitted Bosque.
Audiences will have the opportunity to see Maria Bosque on stage in New York in March 2015 at the La MaMa Theater in the production of The Beach of Joseph K. Directed by multi-award winning director Elia Schneider, The Beach of Joseph K is an experimental work derived from the writings of Franz Kafka.
A multi-talented Canadian dancer, Taylor Reardigan was first drawn to the stage and the dance world after witnessing the fast-moving feet, graceful jumps and rhythmic clicking sounds of Riverdance early on in childhood.
Caught up in a whirlwind of Irish dance at an age when most of her peers were still learning how to run and decipher their right from left, Reardigan put her magical feet to the test and whole-heartedly jumped into the competitive field of Irish dancing at the age of 6.
Naturally gifted with perfect rhythm and incredible athleticism, the young competitor spent her youth and teenage years training and competing with the best Irish dancers in the world.
“Irish dancing is literally all picking up your own body weight. You are flying in the air for 3 minutes picking yourself off the ground and it seriously takes so much out of you,” explains Reardigan. “The amount of training you have to do just to get through one dance is crazy. There are so many drills and weight lifting and leg training. For worlds we actually get a personal trainer in before every class to help us build up our stamina.”
By the time she had reached high school, Reardigan had already staked her claim as one of the strongest dance competitors in the sport, a feat proven by her extensive award collection which includes a lengthy list of 1st place awards at world qualifiers, as well as 15th place at the 2008 World Irish Dancing Championships and 13th at the 2009 World Irish Dancing Championships.
“I have won against literally 100’s of other Irish dancers and at world championships you are against 300 or more girls and dancing in a concert hall for 1,000’s of people,” said Reardigan.
While Reardigan continues to perform professionally as an Irish dancer, her repertoire of work has come to include an incredibly diverse list of television, theater and musical productions as well.
Some of her theatrical and musical productions include “Leaps and Bounds,” where she wowed audiences with her mesmerizing abilities as a jazz dancer at Victoria Performing Arts, St. Francis’ “High School Musical” where she played the role of Sharpay, “Shumka” at the Jubilee Auditorium and “Shhh” in New York. Reardigan has also been cast as a dancer in the television shows Blacklisted and Starz Power.
Audiences can catch Taylor Reardigan in the musical production of “Homecoming,” which opens this Friday at 7 p.m. at the York Performing Arts Center in Queens, New York. She will also be performing as an Irish dancer in the renowned Big Apple Circus in New York next year, and is currently working as the associate choreographer of the musical “A Christmas Story,” which will open at the John W Engeman Theater in New York on November 20.
When it comes to performing on stage, Reardigan feels at home, explaining, “I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I love it.”
Finding his musical talents early on in his youth, Philip Nielsen, the highly-skilled bassist from the bands Grit, Swarming Orchids, PixLips, It Came From A Lab and Tic Tic Boom!, embarked on his musical journey by first honing skills on the piano. With musicianship in his blood, Nielsen easily transitioned from the piano to the bass, but his extraordinary skills as a musician do not stop there, he also plays the upright bass (double bass) and synth keys.
“I play electric bass, which is my main instrument and I’ve been playing that for about 17 years. I’ve been playing the piano/keyboards on and off for at least 20 years, and I also play upright bass,” said Nielsen. “I started experimenting with the upright bass 6 or 7 years ago, so far it has brought the most attention to my work as a musician, which is a little ironic since it’s not my main focus”
Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Philip Nielsen toured extensively throughout Europe with the reggae/ska band PixLips and the punk band It Came From A Lab before later moving to Los Angeles, California where he would join the bands Grit and Swarming Orchids.
Aside from Nielsen’s vast knowledge of music, the commanding nature of his stage presence not only helps to raise the energy of the audience, but it ensures that all of his shows, regardless of which band he is playing with, are consistently exciting and never boring. While a band’s front man, or woman for that matter, generally gets the most attention in the media, the spotlight was never a factor for Nielsen; it has always been about the love of the bass.
“I like the way the bass glues the song together. My uncle who is also a bass player, once said to me that a song first starts when the bass begins to play after or during the intro,” said Nielsen. “During my years as a bass player I completely see what he meant. It just feels right for me.“
Nielsen recently finished recording Grit’s debut EP “LA Don’t Love You,” which is scheduled to be released in January 2015. Fusing together the southern rock, blues and punk genres, the song ‘Look Away’ off Grit’s EP was selected to be included in the film The Dust Storm, which is scheduled for release next year.
A film about one man’s chance to rekindle love with the one that got away, The Dust Storm stars award-winning Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue from Wild Decembers, The Rite, Home For Christmas and the shows Once Upon A Time, Love Is The Drug, The Tudors, Fair City and Jim O’Heir from the films Ed, Accepted, Safe Harbor, Comedy Hell, Welcome to Paradise and the hit comedy series Parks & Recreation, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Dharma and Greg.
Aside from Nielsen’s extensive background as a bassist in rock, reggae and punk bands, his work with indie synth band Tic Tic Boom! serves as further proof of his diverse musical talents.
Tic Tic Boom!, which is lead by Leilani Francisco & Mike DeLa, Philip Nielsen on electric bass and Joey Ponchetti on drums, released the EP “It’s the Heart That’s a Fool” in late 2013. Nielsen also plays synth keys intermittently with the band. Tic Tic Boom!’s music video for the song ‘How It Ends’ off of the EP was included in a segment on Blip.Tv by Style-City Music, and was also featured on Artist Direct’s website and Frequency.com.
Neilsen is also known for his work as the upright bassist in Drake Bell’s music video for the rockabilly inspired song ‘Bitch Craft.’
“I have always loved early rock and roll music like Elvis and Neil Sedaka among others, the upright brings the right sound and authenticity to that kind of music, much like certain electric basses have a better tone for certain styles,” explained Nielsen.
The song ‘Bitch Craft’ is off Bell’s third album “Ready, Steady, Go!,” which was released earlier this year and debuted at #32 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums charts. Additionally Bell, who has won three Kids Choice Awards in the US, as well as three Australian Kids Choice Awards, a Teen Choice Award and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, is known for his work as an actor from the hit Nickelodeon shows Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, as well as the films Jerry Maguire, High Fidelity, A Fairly Odd Summer and many more.
Although Nielsen notes the upright bass as being somewhat more challenging than the standard electric bass, the skills and stamina he has developed over the past 20 years allow him to transition between both instruments with consistent grace and perfect execution.
“The main differences between the upright bass and the electric bass is that the electric bass has frets, so I would say that the upright bass takes more discipline regarding hand positioning for the right intonation and playing in pitch. It’s also a lot more physically demanding, the size of it combined with the fact that it’s an acoustic instrument really makes you work to bring out the right tone,” said Nielsen.
Check out Philip Nielsen on the upright bass in Drake Bell’s video for ‘Bitch Craft,’ below.
A genuinely talented actress both on the stage and silver screen, Kelsey Oluk has proven time and time again the dynamic nature of her craft through the vast number of diverse roles she has taken on over the course of her career.
In the film My Little Girl Kelsey plays the starring role of a girl caught between the dilemma of no longer being a teenager and what it means to be a grown up. Kelsey explains, “On the morning of her 20-something birthday, my character wakes up hiding from herself, and the reality that another year has passed.”
A shy young thing confused by the fact that while her age keeps growing, she still feels like a child, the film is a beautiful display of self-discovery and the confusion most 20-somethings face in the wake of getting older.
While Kelsey’s character in the film My Little Girl shows the actress’s softer more vulnerable side, viewers have the opportunity to see her get under the skin of a totally different character in the film Secret Clubhouse.
Much like the film My Little Girl, the film Secret Clubhouse also revolves around the fear that comes with transitioning into adulthood, however this time Kelsey undertakes the role of Natalie, the film’s supreme bitch. Nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award, the film follows an anxious 29-year-old named Shannon, played by Sara Hennessey, who flees a party after Kelsey’s character Natalie destroys her confidence with a cutting dialogue that hits like an iron-fist.
Aside from the films My Little Girl and Secret Clubhouse, Kelsey Oluk has starred in the films Ivadelle, Kenneyville, Crazytown, the documentary Look At What The Light Did Now, and the shows Goodbye Sara Hennessey and How To Be A Friend.
A recognizable face in the Canadian entertainment industry, Ms. Oluk has also been in several Canadian public service announcements including “Taking Pulse,” which was sponsored by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society’s “Julyna” PSA for Cervical Cancer Awareness, and the Autism Awareness PSA entitled “Carly’s Café.”
Although Kelsey has undoubtedly staked her claim as a highly sought after actress in the Canadian entertainment industry, she is also known on an international level for her extraordinary abilities as dancer.
Kelsey was chosen by multi-award winning choreographer Noémie Lafrance to dance in Feist’s music video for the song “1,2,3,4.” The video, which was also used for a commercial for Apple’s iPods Nano, was so successful that it received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Music Video, the Le Prix Victoire de la Music for Best Music Video of the Year, which is often referred to as the French Grammy, and a CAD Award in London, as well as garnered Noémie Lafrance the award for MVPA Music Video Production Award for Best Choreography.
Besides starring in the music videos for the songs “The Way It Should Be” by PLEX, “Laces Out” by USS, “You got it” by George Leach, “PF” by Controller.Controller and “Do it in the Dark” by The Balconies, Kelsey also choreographed the video for The Balconies’ song “Boys and Girls,” which she danced in as well.
With a repertoire of work that spans many genres, photographer Emma McIntyre’s creative eye has captured endless subjects in a way that speaks to audiences around the world. Whether she is shooting celebrity portraits or capturing the energy of an environment, Emma McIntyre’s natural photographic style reveals her subjects with a surreal-like beauty, and something she likes to call the ‘pause’ in between our ever-changing reality.
Over the years, McIntyre, who has has amassed an impressive client list that includes Horses Atelier, Sennheiser, Hudson’s Bay Company, Tiffany & Co, and many others, has had countless images appear in magazines and newspapers like Rolling Stone, Nylon, Spin, The New York Times, and Toronto Life.
Read our interview below to find out more about this incredible photographer.
TTNN: For those who don’t know you, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
EM: I’m a photographer from Toronto, Canada. I shoot a mixture of editorial, fashion and commercial work.
TTNN: How did you learn photography?
EM: I started taking pictures in high school where I had a great instructor and learned in a dark room. We also always had cameras lying around the house because my dad was a hobbyist photographer, as was his father. I inherited a Pentax Spotmatic when I was 16 and fell in love with the whole process.
In University I worked as the photo editor for our campus paper and ended up shooting a lot during that time as well. Eventually I studied photography at NMIT (North Melbourne Institute of TAFE) in Melbourne, Australia for two years.
TTNN: What equipment would I find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot?
EM: My Nikon D3S with 85mm and 35mm prime lenses.
I also love to use my film cameras – a Hasselblad and a Mamiya 645 film camera. On commercial jobs it’s harder to shoot film, but I still love the feel of it and think it’s unparalleled.
TTNN: What lighting equipment do you favor and why?
EM: My preferred light is natural light but I’m fortunate to have worked with some great lighting techs in studio who have taught me how to recreate beautiful lighting scenarios that emulate natural light.
TTNN: How many shots on average do you shoot during a session?
EM: It really depends. With digital as you know it’s so easy to go overboard. I think that’s another reason I like to shoot with film if I can. You are so much more deliberate and don’t have the option to constantly check what you’re doing and tweak it. Film still forces you to be a bit more instinctive and trust that you’ve captured what you needed to. That being said I do commercial and fashion shoots with digital and in those cases can shoot hundreds of images. Especially with assignments like lookbooks when you’re firing off a lot of frames to make sure you capture a variety of angles and looks.
TTNN: Can you tell our readers about some of the projects you’ve worked on?
EM: Recently I’ve been working with the Toronto fashion designers Horses Atelier on their lookbooks and e-commerce. It’s been a really rewarding evolution collaborating with them and their art director to strike a balance in the look with something that properly shows the clothing while still remaining artful. I’ve loved finding that balance and their clothing is so well designed and executed it’s great to work with.
Lately I’ve also been shooting a lot of music – live concert photography as well as some backstage portraits. It’s really challenging to work with the changing lighting conditions and in a really limited time (usually the first three songs only.) I’ve loved trying to capture something unique and being a part of that performing energy is really invigorating. I’ve shot several music festivals this summer like Osheaga, North by Northeast and TURF Festival.
I have an ongoing collaboration with interior designer Timothy Johnson in Toronto. I love his design work and some of his projects have been featured in House and Home, Objekt, and Toronto Homes. I’ve documented all of his projects over several years and love the meditative aspect of just shooting spaces and objects. Editorially speaking I’ve been published in a lot of local magazines like Toronto Life, Fashion, The Grid and re:porter and internationally in places like Monocle and NYLON.
TTNN: What has been your most memorable photo shoot, and why?
EM: Probably my favorite shooting experience was in Cuba – which wasn’t an assignment – I brought my Hasselblad there and it sounds like a cliche but the textures of the buildings and the color and life of the place was so inspiring to photograph. I took some of my favorite photographs in that country. By the end of the trip I actually felt visual fatigue from seeing so many beautiful things.
TTNN: I noticed on your website you have a section entitle ‘productions stills’, what productions have you worked on?
EM: I’ve worked as a production stills photographer (or unit stills photographer) on a number of films and television shows. My first job of this nature was for the documentary Don’t You Forget About Me about filmmaker John Hughes. Here I had an opportunity to travel with the crew and shoot B roll as well as still images on a road trip to Chicago to John Hughes’ hometown. From there I worked on a number of television shows including Curious and Unusual Deaths, Inventions That Shook The World, Rescue Mediums, Totally Amp’d and Million Dollar Critic as well as films such as Everyday is Like Sunday and Diamond Tongues (currently in post-production.)
In this role you are tasked to capture images that will function as publicity images as well as capturing general atmosphere for posterity and details for continuity. It’s always an interesting experience as a photographer because you are working with film/ tv set lighting. It’s a great learning opportunity because lighting techs in film and TV are so knowledgeable and shooting with their set-up is a bit of a luxury. It can be a fun collaboration with the producers/ directors when conceptualizing what will work for publicity images. For the show Rescue Mediums (a show about two mediums from England making house calls in North America) we decided to shoot in a foggy cemetery at night. My lighting equipment kept malfunctioning and the team was convinced it was supernatural forces at work. I like the TV and film world because it always takes you to places you wouldn’t expect and especially in the more documentary type of television you have an opportunity to encounter interesting experts and perspectives.
TTNN: You’ve had an opportunity to shoot a long list of celebrity photos, can you tell us a little bit about that experience, and some of the people you’ve shot?
EM: I collaborate with a team of great people here in Toronto who produce a long format interview magazine about cinema called The Seventh Art. They’ve attracted a number of well-respected directors to be part of the magazine and I’ve captured stills during the taping of these interviews and then often had an opportunity to capture a portrait after the interview. They always chose interesting locations around the city to conduct the interviews so this gives me an opportunity to shoot environmental portraits in new spaces. It was through this magazine that I had an opportunity to photograph Peter Bogdanovich, Xavier Dolan, Andrew Bujalski, Christopher Doyle, Whit Stillman, and Paul Schrader. I was especially excited to photograph Peter Bogdanovich as I was a huge Sopranos fan and I think he has such an iconic look. I had about two seconds to capture a portrait of him between takes and he just stared deep into the barrel of the lens and gave me an image that I just love.
TTNN: What inspires you? Who are some of your favorite photographers?
EM: Lately I’ve been loving the work of Pari Dukovic. He’s been appearing a lot in publications like the New Yorker and his portraits are so imaginative and his use of color is so beautiful. Some photographers I have admired for a long time include Nadav Kander, Autumn de Wilde, and Lauren Dukoff. Vivian Maier has been an amazing discovery in the photography world – her street photography is so inspiring. Instagram is also great in that way as means for discovering new photographers. I think it’s so important to try and soak up every type of culture for inspiration though. I find inspiration in music and film as much as other photographers. I recently saw the Nick Cave documentary and it’s always so interesting to witness someone else speaking about their creative process. His discipline and the longevity he’s had with his career is so inspiring.
TTNN: Do you have a specific genre that you focus on with your photography? What is it and why are you passionate about it?
EM: Like many photographers, I’m most passionate about photographing people. That being said I love assignments where I’m asked to go document an event, space, neighbourhood, etc. Anything that takes me into a new environment is always so stimulating and I love making use of whatever lighting situations I encounter to create something interesting and tells the story of the place/ person. Portraits are more challenging because if it’s successful it’s telling a powerful story with one image. Something that communicates more than just the surface and actually relays something about the person. My love of documentary style storytelling means I pretty much love every assignment– everything presents new challenges and often you have a really limited time to capture the essence of the person, place, or environment.
TTNN: How would you describe your photography style?
EM: In terms of style I would say I like to capture quiet candid moments and expressions both in people and in urban landscapes, details and still life. I suppose it could be described as documentary/ lifestyle with a bit of a stylized/fashion sensibility. Ideally I am striving to capture a subtle emotion, something that appears in the in between moments which can be awkward and beautiful. For all my subjects – interiors, people, still life/ food – I prefer to use natural light and try to communicate the brief moment of pause – before words are spoken, spaces are entered, still life is changed.
TTNN: How do you keep productive and retain your creative edge?
EM: Being freelance forces you to be inventive and disciplined in terms of finding new work. As far as creative edge I think it’s important to expose yourself to lots of new art, film, music for inspiration and travel always makes me feel newly inspired – even if it’s just a road trip outside of the city to get a different perspective.
Born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, actress Helena-Alexis Seymour first discovered her passion for the performing arts when she entered the world of competitive dance during childhood. Having attended the same dance school as actor Ryan Gosling, an Ontario native, Seymour established herself as a well-rounded dancer, model and frequent beauty pageant contestant before discovering her prowess as an actress.
“I was already involved in competitive dance & loved to perform, so when I found acting at the age of 7 I realized it was the perfect avenue to perform in a way that allowed me to voice my personality,” said Helena-Alexis Seymour.
While she is known today for her diverse talent as an actress, Seymour continues to use the tools she learned early on in order to further her craft. As a strong dancer and lover of yoga, Seymour explained, “I am very connected to my body and my breath, which I think is the most important thing. If you connect your emotions to your breath and body, you can act and react on instinct, which makes for a very natural performance.”
A hot young talent who has worked with entertainment industry icons like Oscar Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, three-time Emmy nominee Vanessa Williams, Golden Globe nominee Michael Keaton, Emmy Award winner Zach Galifianakis, and many more, Seymour has had a whirlwind of success in the film industry.
While Helena-Alexis Seymour’s vast body of work includes several multi-award winning films, she notes her character Chantal from the HBO/TMN TV series The Line as her favorite to date.
“Chantal had the most interesting story with so much depth to her character,” said Seymour. In addition to Chantal being her favorite role, Seymour referred to working on the series as one of her best life experiences yet. “The character reminded me of myself in many ways, because synchronically I was going through a rebellious teenage phase of my own at the time. Mine wasn’t like Chantal’s, but it helped me relate to her.”
Directed by Gemini Award winner Shawn Thompson, and Toronto Female Eye Film Festival Award winner Gail Harvey, The Line focuses on the intricate underground lives of drug dealers. Displaying the true depths of her acting craft, Seymour portrays her character Chantal through multiple stages of drastic change in the show. Beginning the series as a bright and innocent teenager, audiences see Chantal turn into a female drug pusher after falling victim to the corrupting influence of her boyfriend. The Line, which also starred Daniel Kash from RoboCop, On The Road, Cinderella Man and many more, was highly acclaimed in Canada and received the prestigious Gemini Award.
Seymour also recently starred in Lifetime’s dramatic thriller film The Husband She Met Online, as well as the science fiction film Rulers of Darkness.
Directed by Curtis Crawford, The Husband She Met Online dives into the horrors of online dating gone wrong, and follows Seymour in the role of Elise. Seymour costarred alongside several successful actors in the film, including Jason Gray-Stanford from A Beautiful Mind, Flags of Our Fathers and Monk, as well as Meredith Monroe from Minority Report, Dawson’s Creek, The Closer, The Mentalist and Criminal Minds.
In the film Rulers of Darkness, which was directed by Dale Windle and received the Royal Reel Award at the Canada International Film Festival, Seymour starred in role of Kelly. The film follows a young man as he searches for answers to his mother’s mysterious death, only to discover a terrifying entity in the woods, which threatens to take his life as well.
An incredible actress who’s diversity has landed her roles in a wide range of films and television shows, be sure to keep your eyes out for this unequivocal beauty.
World-class saxophonist and touring musician Gianni Vancini has touched the hearts of audiences around the globe with his sweet and soulful sound.
Earlier this year Gianni Vancini released his sophomore solo album entitled Get Your Groove On, which garnered a huge response in both the U.S. and Italy. Pre-releasing the first single from the album, also entitled “Get Your Groove On”, Vancini knew the album would be a surefire success after the single was rated on The Smooth Jazz Network’s top 20 charts for the week of September 28, 2013.
With track listings like “Didn’t You Promise” featuring Selina Albright, and “Thinking About You” featuring American jazz musician Terry Wollman whose recent single “Mandela” spent five months on Billboard’s Top 20 reaching No. 1 on the Smooth Jazz Top 20 and No. 4 on the Billboard charts, Get Your Groove On gives audiences that mix of smooth jazz and R&B that Vancini is known for.
Accompanying Gianni Vancini’s masterful abilities on the saxophone, the album includes a long list of collaborations from internationally renowned artists like bassist Alex Al who spent the last decade as Michael Jackson’s bassist and keyboardist, guitarist Sheldon Reynolds of The Commodores and Earth, Wind, and Fire, keyboardist Greg Manning who is a three-time certified platinum producer for Universal Music Switzerland, and drummer Ricky Lawson who passed away last year and was known for his work with Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton.
Get Your Groove On serves as a testament to Gianni Vancini’s versatility as a musician with the overall album commingling elements of funk and pop alongside his classic jazz and R&B sound.
Over the course of his career, Vancini has developed a dedicated international fan following with audiences all over the world regularly turning to his music for an infusion of spark n’ step that helps them get their groove on.
While some of his most notable international performances include famous venues such as Sanremo, Italy’s Ariston Theater and Rome’s Il Gran Teatro, Gianni Vancini notes the Olympia in Paris, and the Casino Rama in Toronto, as his favorites.
“I love the Olympia for what it represents, and because it means that I am in Paris, a city I can help but love, and the Casino Rama because it has the most amazing acoustics,” explained Vancini.
The Olympia is known for showcasing the word’s top musicians, including Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Tina Turner, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Björk, The Jackson 5, and many more household names.
One of the most captivating things about a film, or rather, a good film, is the compelling nature of its imagery. The way a single shot can effect our emotions as an audience provides cinematographers with the powerful tool to create a visual language that runs along with the film’s story.
French cinematographer Johanna Coelho falls into the group of cinematographers who are known for making films that draw viewers in with their film’s visually stimulating imagery and leaves them with an emotional experience.
Coelho explains, “Images have always been a passion for me. From an early age onward I was very interested in understanding how we can visually transmit feelings and emotions.”
What separates the best cinematographers from the mediocre is their ability to shift the mood and style of the images in a way that is cohesive to the ever-changing elements of the story— but more importantly, they need to accomplish this without the audience noticing.
If viewers become preoccupied with the images in a film to the point of overshadowing the story, then the purpose of film as a medium for expression has been lost.
This subtle balance is something that Johanna Coelho, and the rest of the world’s most renowned cinematographers, recognize and execute on a daily basis in their work.
“My job is to create images that represent the vision of the director in the film,” said Johanna Coelho. “I have to be able to interpret emotions visually and create the story’s various atmospheres in the best possible way. I like to say cinematographers are visual psychologists.”
Coelho, who is originally from France, has worked on an impressive list of projects that not only show her diversity when it comes to choosing what images strike the perfect balance in the way of what’s appropriate for contrasting genres, but also display her unparalleled abilities to propel the overall energy of the story to a place that visually impacts viewers’ on an emotional level.
As the cinematographer, also known as the director of photography, of the film Scaremonger, which debuted earlier this year, Coelho was in charge of creating a juxtaposition of imagery that had elements of both realism and fantasy. The film centers on the story of a mother worried for her son who is being bullied by the neighborhood kids.
“The director wanted to treat this social issue as a dark fairytale,” said Coelho. “I had to create this magical atmosphere for the mom’s nightmares versus a pretty realistic look for the day scenes. We created gigantic shadows representing monsters appearing on the walls, we tried to make them happen as much as we could on set, and for some of them we had to use VFX. It was very interesting to see what the limits of what we could achieve on set with the resources we had were.”
The outcome of the film serves as a testament to Johanna Coelho’s extraordinary creativity and skill as a cinematographer. The film did astonishingly well on the festival circuit where it received the awards for Best Narrative Film at the 2014 California International Shorts Festival and Best LGBT Film at the 2014 Fulbright Film Festival, as well as was an Official Selection at the IFS Film Festival, Serbia’s Cinema City Festival, Costa Rica’s International Film Festival, and the renowned Montreal World Film Festival.
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