All posts by scottmac37

Literature degree University of Oregon, class of 2000. Member IATSE local 44 crafts person union Lover of the written word

Actor Spotlight: Dynamic Australian Actress Alli McLaren!

Alli McLaren
                                               Actress Alli McLaren shot by Jen Allison

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, actress Alli McLaren’s impressive acting performances in a variety of genres, both on stage and screen, are demonstrative of her vast range and skill.

With acting in her blood, as both her mother and grandmother are acting coaches; McLaren began honing her craft at an early age. Although facing many setbacks throughout childhood, McLaren has developed her acting talents by channeling these challenges to further her understanding of characters and their emotions.

Although McLaren states that “drama is her favorite genre,” and while the majority of her performances elicit strong emotions from viewers she is much more then an outstanding dramatic actress.

McLaren proves her genre flexibility in the action packed comedy film Writer’s Block, where she plays the starring role of Sophie. With a light and boisterous comedic undertone, Writer’s Block is packed full of exciting scenes and fast paced choreographed action. As the star of the film, McLaren inhabits the role with perfect comedic timing and impressive action skills.

A stark contrast from the majority of her past performances, McLaren found herself engaging in combat and using weapons throughout the film, which was a new experience for the young actress, but something she found extremely exhilarating.

“I always love to change up what I do to challenge myself both creatively and artistically, thus it also makes it more fun for me” says McLaren.

Due to the immense popularity of the film, which was produced by White Night Films, a sequel is currently in the works.

Return of Greta, which was written and directed by Boardwalk Empire star Victor Verhaeghe also showcases McLaren’s comedic chops as a beauty contestant who must overcome the often silly and surreal drama of pageant life. The film Return of Greta is a tremendously poignant and satirical look at a real life institution.

Under the direction of Emmy Award winning actress Blanche Baker, McLaren delivers a stirring dramatic performance with a strong core as Gretchen in the film Infidelity.

In the film, which is a brilliant 21st century re-imaging of the French script La Despute, McLaren plays a scientist attempting to discover the cause of infidelity in couples; and it is up to her to tie together all the dramatic threads of love and loss between the couples she researches. McLaren’s performance in the film is as thought provoking as it is powerful.

“For me, its very easy to find a connection to a character and then go and watch people in real life who are like that character, to build a foundation from,” admits McLaren.

With the rare ability to listen to both a persons words, and body language, McLaren has the skills to bring real, heartfelt emotion to any character she plays.

My Year Of Silence, a film written by and starring McLaren, is proof of this. As the character of Callie, McLaren craftily weaves an emotional journey based on her own life experience, a performance that is highly anticipated.

The open minded and always hungry for something new approach to acting that Alli McLaren brings to the table is as refreshing as it is skillful.

“I feel like working with so many different people and in so many different genres makes me a better actress,” says McLaren.

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Composer Vincent L. Pratte Uses Music to Communicate Abstract Emotions

Vincent L. Pratte
      Composer Vincent L. Pratte shot by Marie-Ève Labadie

Canadian born film composer Vincent L. Pratte creates dynamic and thematically rich film scores that will enthrall any audience with their musical diversity and depth.

A musician who began scoring orchestra pieces in high school, Pratte is a composer who doesn’t mind going outside his comfort zones and trying new and unique methodologies. In college Pratte came to the conclusion that, “music and especially composition was not monolithic, and that there was room to do whatever he could imagine”.

Pratte believes that in films, the music is there to add emotional, dramatic or narrative layers to a scene, but not to overwhelm it. It is through this meticulous and complex process that Vincent L. Pratte is able to stand apart from other film composers as someone whose music is truly original and highly sought after.

Pratte says, “I do try to pay attention to things beyond the narrative, like editing choices, camera angles, and lighting… In the end, I think that those elements will have an impact on my musical choices as well.”

Demon Gate, a horror film revolving around demonic possession, beautifully demonstrates Pratte’s style of composition. The film’s score showcases an open ended musical structure that features a wide array of musical styles to achieve a deeply dramatic tone. Pratte is a composer who feels a film’s score can make the viewer feel visceral in ways that the visual medium cannot– a point that is driven home by the haunting score found in Demon Gate.

The film Eleanora: The Forgotten Princess, which is a cross between a musical, a period piece and a fantasy film, features a riveting score by Pratte that serves as an exploration of the character’s inner motivations. This super natural tale of revenge and jealousy sports a composition that embodies the weight of a much larger thematic piece without overwhelming the narrative.

“Although we often tend to think of film music in terms of dramatic end epic themes, so much of the work of a film composer is actually about how to subtly complement a scene,” admits Pratte.

Pratte’s score for Foos Your Daddy, a coming of age comedy, creates a brilliant texture reminiscent of large-scale gladiator-style films, which perfectly accompanies the film’s “absurdist touch,” as Pratte puts it. In the film, which was directed by Luke Patton, a father and son indulge in one last foosball game before the son heads off to college. Pratte’s score is a testament to his brilliance as a composer who fully understands how to create music that sets the tone for each scene.

As the film progresses the intensity of the score expands exponentially. Whereas the film starts out with a “coming-of-age… indie rock vibe,” as the foosball match unfolds the composer uses music to create an air of high stakes, big action, and emotional transitions.

Pratte has composed for a lengthy list of films across virtually every genre, but he admits that his favorite medium to compose for is animation because of the freedom and intensity it allows.

His poetically melodic score for Eloise, Little Dreamer gave the tale of a young girl, who is separated from her sister in the big city, a multi-layered emotional resonance. The film was most recently awarded the Best International Animated Film at the New York International Film Festival.

John Doe, the animated story of a detective lost in a case he is unable to solve, features another strong score by Pratte, with the film’s lack of dialog making the score integral to providing the narrative for the twisted tale.

Although Vincent Pratte still enjoys composing orchestra pieces, his passion for blending the abstract nature of music with the more concrete artistic medium of film, is by all accounts his true calling. A film composer who, like a magician, has many tricks up his sleeve, Pratte is a dynamic musical talent whose compositions augment any project to which they are attached.

Through the Eye of His Lens Egor Povolotskiy Captivates International Audiences

Egor Povolotskiy
                                                Russian cinematographer Egor Povolotskiy

Mixing both European and Hollywood styles, Russia’s Egor Povolotskiy is a cutting edge cinematographer soon to be on every director’s must have list. Although beginning his education in artificial intelligence and computer sciences, Povolotskiy soon determined through his love of photography that his real passion was to be behind the lens.

Choosing projects on the potential for a unique story telling experience, Egor’s desire as a cinematographer is to make the audience feel something, and to leave them thinking. Povolotskiy truly believes that “the cinematographer is the bridge between the direct and the people in the movie theatre.”

When asked to describe the role of the cinematographer, Povolotskiy stated: “Turn off the sound, if you understand the story, if you feel it, that means the cinematographer did their job right. The main responsibility is to translate the story in people’s minds without them noticing it.”

With such films as Red, Blue, and Purple, Egor’s camera work is demonstrative of his ability to convey emotion with color, light, shapes, and textures. Telling the tale of a journey inside the mind of a prisoner who’s mentally drifting between, two worlds, the individual, and the collective. In Red, Blue, and Purple, Povolotskiy’s cinematic eye shines brightly.

Egor went on to win much acclaim for his cinematography work on the film Sabre Dance, winner of numerous awards from both the Rochester International Film Festival as well as the USA Film Festival. Telling the true story of famed Russian composer Aram Knachaturian preparing to meet famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali for the first time. Povolotskiy’s excellent use of period lighting and color palettes gave the film an emotional and realistic depth bringing the actors performances right off the screen.

As the main characters were so vastly different, Egor has stated his greatest challenge on this project was capturing the emotional point of view of opposite personalities.

“The cinematographer is in charge of the mood of the film, he or she has to understand not only how the lighting works, but how to be a bit of a director also,” says Povolotskiy.

We Are Enemies, a compelling tale of bonding under unconventional and extreme circumstances, is a prime example of Egor’s ability to do just that. Using gritty color tones and lighting techniques, Povolotskiy’s cinematographic skills are truly evident. This film also garnished several awards from the esteemed Rochester International Film Festival.

Known for making magic with whatever equipment and location he has available, Egor Povolotskiy feels that “by his eye, the audience will see the film.” With his work on the acclaimed film Death of a Government Clerk, based on the famed short story of the same name by Anton Chekhov, this truth is clearly demonstrated. With creative and moody camera work and lighting, this story of the personal trials of a 1900’s Russian clerk who finds himself on a life altering path of self destruction is a compelling and visual experience.

“There is no project for me so far, which I have shot the same way” states Povolotskiy. And with several exciting upcoming projects such as the horror film Goetia, Egor clearly demonstrates he will hold true to this statement, always evolving with each incredibly entertaining and engaging project.

Talented Film Director Explores the Effects of War Torn Societies Through Film

Onn Nir
                                                                                                       Film Director Onn Nir

Israeli film directing phenomenon Onn Nir is taking Los Angeles and the international film scene by storm with several award-winning projects under his belt. This coupled with his passion to tell humane stories that provoke change, and his direction of characters with great authenticity make Nir a sought after director, and one to keep your eye on.

Serving as a combat medic in the Israeli army led Onn Nir to his true calling as a visual storyteller, with strong roots in the psychology and emotions of the complex world in which we live. Focusing on the primary concepts of image, mood and emotion, Nir creates a sense of social realism through his camera work and creation of real time intensity.

“I am utterly intrigued by the here and now, especially during extreme circumstances that expose the behavior of the characters with great authenticity,” said Nir.

Believing the true mission of a film director is to enhance the story telling on the page by mixing thought provoking story lines and emotional characters; Nir stands out as a director with true vision and spirit.

Born Guilty, one of Nir’s early films, tells a complex story of fear and prejudice. The film’s examination of prejudice through the experience of an unconventional victim caught the eye of the international audience. Born Guilty received the esteemed National Board of Review award.

Pressure Point, Nir’s follow up to Born Guilty, depicts and examines the complexity of the Middle East through a simple, emotional circumstance. Shot in Nir’s native Israel, and featuring the beautiful Judea Desert as its’ backdrop, Pressure Point is a visual and emotional tour de force. The film, which starred acclaimed Israeli actor Danny Geva (Sweets, Marzipan Flowers, Ha-Hamama, Kalevet), was an Official Selection of the Hamptons International Film Festival and the St. Louis International Film Festival.

Onn Nir’s most recent film however, Bamidbar, is one of his most powerful project to date. The film received the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival and was nominated for several awards at the renowned Shanghai International Film Festival and the Champs-Elysee Fesitval in France.

A tale of a father and daughter’s strained relationship, Nir’s Bamidbar explores the subject of trauma in a society of constant war as one character prepares to join the army and the other struggles to forget the experience he had in the war decades before.

Bamidbar is a progressively uncomfortable journey into loss and it’s consequences, a raw story about post trauma, and how one can heal from it in order to survive” said Nir.

Starring veteran Israeli actor Sabi Dorr, Bamidbar is a remarkable work of cinematic beauty that bravely depicts a psychologically complex relationship in a brutally honest way.

Nir has two hot new projects that he plans to begin production on very soon, The Drummers, and Kamel. The Drummers tells the harrowing tale of a lost US Army unit in Afghanistan. Following the real life exploits of famed Israeli spy Eli Cohen, Kamel is an intense thriller featuring the missions of the legendary spy. Onn Nir’s Kamel will no doubt prove an exciting tale of espionage in 60’s era Middle East.

Onn Nir is poised to take his work to the next level of cinema, and is truly an impressive and innovative filmmaker for our ever-changing society.

Breathtaking Spanish Actress, Maria Luna

Maria Luna
Maria Luna shot by Brandin Photography

One of Spain’s most sought after exports, Maria Luna is a dynamic and multifaceted actress who brings complexity and diversity to her every role.

Active in theatre since a young age, Maria Luna was chosen to participate in a number of international drama programs, advancing her education on and understanding of her craft. With a dream of helping to create a global artistic collaboration through acting, Luna’s humanitarian nature is the driving force behind her strong performances.

Starring as Lucy in the film Dada, which wrapped production earlier this year, Luna tackles the very real and concerning plight of human trafficking. Set in Kenya, Luna’s character of Lucy finds herself thrown into a dangerous world she does not understand. The experience forces her to embark on a journey where she transitions from naivety and fear to empowerment, compassion, and freedom. To further the authenticity of the role, Luna prepared by living in Kenya, doing volunteer work, and educating herself on the subject through the real life stories of others.

In the 2014 film Romanian Fairy Tale Luna played the film’s integral role of Sara, a women who wishes to leave her life behind and start anew. Sara finds a kindred spirit in Timo, a young boy on the run from an abusive father. Luna’s character guides Timo through the labors of growing up amidst abuse, and emotional neglect. Sara develops through the film’s progression into both a friend and a mother to young Timo, saving the boy in mind, body, and spirit.

Maria Luna appreciates all genres of film, from the dramatic, to the comedic, or in the case of the 2015 film No Solicitors, the dark world of horror. In Emmy nominated director John Callas’s disturbing and unique tale of a simple solicitor at the door spiraling into a terrifying situation, Luna’s character Martha stands out. Luna plays a woman whose family must come first, at any cost. The terminal illness of her young son forces Luna’s character to push beyond past social acceptability, while still remaining very human. Luna brought this amazing character to life in a seamless manner that exposed her emotional range as an actress layer by layer.

Whether playing a struggling mother, a woman on the run, or a Pentagon Special Agent in 2015’s The Sheriffs, Maria Luna proves she can create a real character of depth in any role. As Mariana in veteran sci-fi director Neil Jordan’s Starship: Rising and Dawn of Destruction, Luna plays the catalyst in an intergalactic struggle for survival. The role as the sister to the film’s hero Lt. John Worthy, places Luna at the heart of the dazzling science fiction series, even having her play a robot version of herself as part of the twisted enemies’ plans.

Summing up her perspective perfectly: “I love everything about acting, doing the research, getting into character, and finding how I can relate to the situation, expressing in a way which I can connect to the rest of the world,” said Maria Luna.

Luna’s greatest desires in her acting career are to bring people together, form new collaborations, and affect change through her roles as seen by audiences across the world.

Providing exemplary performances in a variety of genres, and with such realism and heart, actress Maria Luna is undoubtedly one of the most talented Spanish actresses working in Hollywood today.