Category Archives: Brazil

Brazilian triple threat Rita Shukla is an indomitable force on stage

Rita Sjukla
Brazilian Performer Rita Shukla

You may have seen performer Rita Shukla on stages across Los Angeles as a lead singer with the classic rock band Lloyd Moss & The Rock Collective, singing jazz-style Brazilian bossa nova with the Electrobossa band, or heavy rock n’ roll with Redemptrix. Her strength and dynamic range as a vocalist coupled with her lively and magnetic stage presence has made her a go-to performer for a number of bands in need of a strong lead singer.

As part of Lloyd Moss & The Rock Collective, Rita is a vocalist alongside Andrey Tsvetkov Nazarbekian, who made it to the semifinals on the incredibly popular TV series “The Voice Russia” season 2, and was also a contestant on the 8-time Primetime Emmy Award winning “American Idol” season 15.

“Working with Rita is a constant exchange. Her vast knowledge in music and her stage experience are the factors that give all of our band members a new perspective on the way things should be done, how harmonies should be written and songs should be sung,” explains Nazarbekian. “What really makes her good at what she does is her natural gift for music supported by the education and training she acquired in Brazil ”

Rita began cultivating her talent as a performer at the age of 4 whilst growing up in Campinas, Brazil where music and performance are a vibrant part of the country’s colorful culture. First immersing herself in music classes, Rita immediately fell in love with the way music made her feel.

It’s just like being in nature for me… I feel joy when I sing. it brings me so much peace and happiness, as if I don’t think of anything else. I’m just there present in the moment,” admits Rita. “For you to be able to sing well, you first need to breathe well… the whole process of singing is just therapeutic and healing.

Knowing the competitive nature of being a lead singer, Rita didn’t rely solely on her natural vocal strengths as a high soprano. Instead she devoted herself to perfecting her skills by training with some of the best in the industry internationally, including vocal coaches such as Molly Rocklind (who’s shared the stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder, popular classic rock band America and Chaka Khan), Dawn Bishop (who’s performed with household names like Brian McKnight and the Black-Eyed Peas,) Brazilian soprano Lucila Tragtenberg and maestro Thiago Gimenes, among others.

It didn’t take long for Rita to be tapped to begin performing on stages across Brazil. By the age of 16 she was playing starring roles in popular theatre productions such as “A Receita” by Jorge Andrade, followed by “Um Cadillac Para as Estrelas” and “Quero a Lua” at the Tao Theatre.

With many of her major theatrical projects back home in Brazil utilizing her talent as an actress and singer, she quickly stood out as a rarely gifted performer capable of flawlessly executing both with equal pizazz. But there’s another area of Rita’s ‘gift’ as a performer that has made her so unique amongst others in the industry– and that is her skill as a dancer.

In the same way that her impressive vocal range and natural rhythm has led her to lead bands with musical styles ranging from jazz and bossa nova to classic and hard rock, her skill as a dancer has given way to a multitude of dance performances ranging from flamenco and belly dancing to jazz and tap for musical theatre.

Beginning flamenco dance training at 11 and belly dance at 13,  Rita explains, “First, I fell in love with flamenco, for its strength, rhythm, passion, and history, but dancing in general makes me feel good as I feel the energy of the music and the beat flowing through my body.”

The way she translates music into her movements as a dancer, embodying the rhythm in human form on stage, has not only been a highlight for the audiences who watch her, but a draw factor for those who cast her in their shows. Whilst in Brazil, she was cast as a lead dancer in numerous shows such as “Noche Caliente,” “Bombardeio de Dança” and “Noite Flamenca” with leading Brazilian flamenco dancer and choreographer Karina Maganha. She also made a name for herself as a lead dancer with the Jimena Lourenço Dance Company, starring in shows like  “A Arte Milenar Da Dança Do Ventre,” “1° Festival de Dança Do Ventre,” “2° Festival de Dança Do Ventre,” “Clip” and many more.

By college Rita had not only perfected her individual skills making herself known among the country’s best young performers in each area, but she had blended all of these talents, making her an undeniable triple threat– an asset that boosted her reputation within the world of musical theatre.

About her beginnings, Rita explains, “Growing up studying and doing theatre [in Brazil], and feeling on my skin the importance of embodying the character as a dance, the music as a text and the acting as music, made me a very open, strong and vulnerable actress and singer.”

After completing her bachelor’s in drama at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, scholarship offers began rolling in from schools in the U.S. for her to continue her education in the performing arts. And in 2013 she packed her bags and relocated to California on a scholarship to study Musical Theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

As a singer she’s quickly became a lead member in several bands in the states, while also writing her own songs and embarking on many other fruitful collaborations. After being recognized by music producer and songwriter Ted Perlman, who’s known for his work with renowned stars such as Whitney Houston, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan and Diana Ross, the two collaborated in writing a praise and worship rock tune.

Perlman recalls, “As soon as she sang one note, I knew she was special… Rita is one of the most soulful white girls anywhere! She has everything- talent, beauty, brains, and joy. She’s as close to perfect as it gets.”

In the states her seasoned skill as a performer coupled with the fiery nature of Brazilian culture pulsing through her veins, led her to be viewed as a unique talent in the industry.

Last year Rita was personally invited to perform as a singer and dancer alongside some of the most recognizable Broadway stars in the world in the production of “Broadway to the Rescue.” A concert gala for charity, Rita shared the stage with the likes of Tony Award Winner LiLlias White and Tony Award nominees John Tartaglia and Sharon McNight where she gave a memorable performance in numbers from the hit Broadway shows “Hair,” “Memphis,” “Hairspray” and more.

“Training and performance skill once you reach a higher level is not hard to find in Los Angeles. But one thing that I look for in performers, and Rita is one of a few that has it, is personality and unique instinct,” explains Rodrigo Varandas, one of the choreographers behind “Broadway to the Rescue.”

“I feel that her Brazilian culture makes her unique already. But she is able to incorporate American culture in her performance as well and that is just impossible to find. She mesmerized me every time she sang and danced.”

Rita Shukla is one performer who’s managed to excel as singer, actress and dancer, and while she spent years training in order to get where she is today, the natural and vibrant energy she brings to the stage is something that just can’t be taught– and it’s definitely something that has set her apart from the pack.

 

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DAN WAINER IS LIVING EVERY MAN’S DREAM

For decades, men have wanted to be one of two characters; Superman or James Bond. These icons represent the epitome of masculinity. While the caped son of Krypton generally appeals to mostly prepubescent males, once a boy’s hormones begin stirring there is no one more representative of a real life scenario of having it all than 007. This charismatic, suave, self-assured archetype embodies all the qualities to which most men aspire. He almost always wins and even when he doesn’t, he handles the situation with class and composure…and he somehow always manages to capture the attention of the women he sets his sights upon. The actors who have portrayed Bond are legendary. They number in the single digits but a very select few have joined them in different mediums. Noted Brazilian model Dan Wainer has appeared representing a number of clients and graced the covers of such internationally recognized publications as Men’s Health and others but it was his work appearing in Playboy magazine for a pictorial that celebrated 007 which he counts among his career high points. No doubt Wainer was able to live out the dream, however brief, of millions of males across the globe to become James Bond for the most celebrated men’s magazine of all time. Nothing short of a Nobel Prize, winning the World Cup, or the Superbowl could have elevated his “cool” level among his gender.

When Dan’s modeling agency pitched him to Playboy for the Bond shoot, it was because he shares so many qualities with the book & film character. There’s no waifish quality to the steely stare that Wainer possesses, an it’s one that’s full of gravitas. That’s not to say that this model took the job lightly; he put plenty of time in studying the body movement and attitude of his all-time favorite 007, Sean Connery. The unexaggerated charm, strength, and humor of Connery is clearly seen in this Playboy editorial. The potentially fatal circumstances which Bond frequently finds himself in never causes his emotional barometer too skyrocket, nor does it do so in the many trysts he also experiences. What we love about Bond is that he is always a measured man regardless of the positivity or negativity of his situation, yet he’s far from cold. Viewing the photos of Wainer, this is as natural for him as any of the actors who played the spy.

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There is an emotional component to modeling but it is conveyed primarily through physicality. To create this for Playboy’s Bond editorial, Dan reveals, “This job was actually very different from most in my career because it did involve acting. I’ve done my share of studying cinema, television, and theater…as any good model does. It helps you to become a better professional. I love my job and I want to be the best I can possibly be. I didn’t have a specific Bond film that I was trying to ‘copy’ or recreate. What I wanted to do was to contain and communicate the feelings and qualities of Bond: confidence in critical moments and risk, a charm and kind way of talking to women, he always knows what to do, etc. This is a time when I feel that modeling is like acting because I need to feel these things in myself for the camera to capture them. The biggest difference between the two in this instance is that in a film the action helps you to feel the emotion but in a photograph the emotion must happen at a specific second and be frozen in the photo.”

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Even though this 007 editorial is shown in a series of still pictures, there is still a story communicated. The series of less than a dozen photos transports each of us to our favorite Bond film, proof that the template is something that so many of us hold dear and admire. Photographer Sasha Hochstetter’s images are truly cinematic and rival any of the cold war era films, with Dan perfectly placed as the centerpiece. Through the series we see Wainer and the 007 accoutrements of guns, beautiful women, and bad guys played by Aline Samie and Michel Serdan a well-known wrestling fighter in Brazil. The ubiquity of Bond includes Brazil and the trio were all well-versed in the character’s lineage. Each member of this combative trio gleefully threw themselves into the archetype characters they were embodying. Dan relates that there were some intense physical moments that were painful but all a part of being Bond. In typical 007 fashion, the final photo saw Wainer getting his in the last chapter of the story. He explains, “The last photo in the editorial was also the last photo that we shot. It shows myself in an inflatable raft in the ocean, alongside four very beautiful women while there is an explosion in the background…obviously my nemesis meeting their just ends. I have a sly smile on my face and have lost my jacket and tie but am still composed and relaxed. While everyone looks relaxed and at ease, it was far from the reality of the situation. It was the most difficult photo of the day. We had been working for more than 8 hours in several different locations in the city. Everyone was very tired but we still had to make the last epic photo. There was a small boat inside the studio, but the hull of the boat did not allow stability, even more with 4 people moving inside it. The photographer was far up on a ladder, taking the photos from top to bottom. Everyone had to be well positioned. As the boat moved, it was difficult for everyone to be balanced and still have a happy face because they had been victorious. It was certainly the most time consuming and tiring picture of the whole day. But in the end everything went well and it was a beautiful job, very rewarding.”

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The James Bond editorial caused quite a stir and resulted in greater acclaim for Wainer. This specific editorial was cited as one of the reasons he was chosen by Nova Cosmopolitan as the “Gato de Nova.” Simply being chosen by an iconic men’s publication like Playboy to portray their view of all things a man should be in James Bond, it’s an award in itself. Dan definitely thinks of it as such. He concedes that he often was stopped for months following the publication of this issue of the magazine, by men and women alike, with congratulations and recognition. While he finds it flattering, the real compensation is being able to know that if just for a little while, he became the one and only James Bond. Dan Wainer is a proud member of a very select group.

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Drummer Ivan Copelli remains humble in his rise to fame

When hard rock musician, Ivan Copelli, began drumming as a young child, he had no idea of the impact it would have on the rest of his life. For the Brazilian-native, it was all about tending to the passion inside him and exploring himself through his music. The now wildly successful artist is used to other aspiring professional musicians asking him for the secrets to his success, but for Copelli, it is simple. He understands that regardless of whether or not you can be classed as a “good” musician or a “bad” one, you owe it to yourself to just keep playing.

As he earned success in his career, after playing with the hit Brazilian band Motores, he learned the true value of remaining true to yourself and to your original sound. He has mastered the ability to market himself effectively and ensure that he doesn’t allow major companies or record labels to take advantage of his purity as an artist. His art is his business and he works tirelessly to grow it wherever possible. He also recognizes that today, with the power of the internet, it is easier than ever before to educate yourself and keep yourself busy. There is no excuse to give up on what you love to do most.

After achieving a series of accomplishments with Motores, including winning MTV Rally’s fierce competition in 2007, Copelli was approached by another up-and-coming Brazilian band, Kiara Rocks. He was familiar with the band’s sound and had attended their shows on several occasions. The band’s lead singer, Cadu Pelegrini, was eager to work with Copelli when he heard that he had left Motores. He wanted a drummer that would attract the attention of a larger audience and to boost the band’s visibility in the industry. Fortunately, Copelli’s work with Motores positioned him well above other drummers of his kind and Pelegrini knew that his contributions to Kiara Rocks would be invaluable. Copelli jumped at the opportunity to lend his talents to the band and it was the beginning of something new and exciting for his already esteemed career.

What Copelli ended up enjoying most about playing with Kiara Rocks, however, was touring around the world and being able to share the band’s music to new audiences in new areas on a daily basis. “For the three years that I played with them, we spent most of our weekends on tour, playing in different cities and states, making new friends, and growing our fan base. We were very close as a band. We didn’t even need to look at each other when we were on stage to know what everyone was doing. We were so connected,” said Copelli.

Copelli’s ability to not only adapt himself to the style of the band he is playing with, but to enhance their sound is what makes him such a highly sought after addition to every project he is asked to work on. After Kiara Rocks appeared on the successful Brazilian web series, Showlivre.com, producer Clemente Nascimento realized just how intangible Copelli’s skills are.

“Across his time with the group, he provided expertise as a top tier drummer. He also appeared in a number of the band’s virally popular music videos. Specifically, in his role as the drummer for the band, he kept the rhythm solid and consistent and while his work does not overshadow the tones of his fellow musicians, anyone who listens to their music notices the harmonious coordination between his drumming and the bass to create a tight rhythm section. He is absolutely vital to any band he collaborates with, more so than most drummers in his field. His contributions Kiara Rocks highlight both his prowess as a drummer, as well as the impact his music had on the band’s incomparable success,” recalled Nascimento.

With Copelli’s rising success, came unexplored territory. When his first single with Kiara Rocks received over 300,000 views on YouTube, he started to see the impact that his music had on the band’s presence in a new light. He could see the difference they were making in the field of rock music on an unfamiliar scale and he was humbled by the recognition they were receiving. All of a sudden, he found himself encountering excited fans in the street, screaming at him and honking their horns. He still gets shivers down his spine when he thinks about it and he credits this success as being the to motivator driving him to create new sounds and bring even more high-quality music to the shelves for his followers.

In fact, it was during his time playing with Kiara Rocks that Copelli experienced one of the major highlights of his career. Being a die-hard rock music fan, Copelli had the distinct pleasure of working with Guns n’ Roses’ drummer, Matt Sorum. Sorum produced what Copelli considers to be one of the most important albums for the Brazilian rock music scene in years. Copelli played his heart out and to little surprise, the band’s fans were immediately addicted. Seeing his work come to life for his fans is just one of the many reasons he continues to play and produce music for a living.

So what does Copelli have in store for hard rock music fans around the world? He has a few projects in the works. Ultimately, however, he hopes to re-connect with some of the artists he has worked with in the past, as well as with new artists, in order to create unique new sounds and albums that his fans will thank him for.

Cinematographer Andre Chesini talks viral music video ‘Oração’

Andre Chesini behind the scenes of Oracao 2
Andre Chesini behind the scenes of the “Oração” music video.

Anyone can move around with a camera to their eye, in fact, many people try. However, Andre Chesini understands what it is to be extraordinary at what he does. Chesini’s unwavering passion for filmmaking extends back as early as his childhood and his perspective derives from years of immersing himself in the arts. He understands that the artistry of cinematography comes from controlling what the audience sees and doesn’t see. As a cinematographer, he doesn’t just strive to make a frame beautiful, he tries to create images that evoke emotions and enhance the storytelling. That is what makes him such a rare talent.

Chesini has adopted a style of cinematography that many of the world’s most recognized strive and fail to achieve. For him, lights are motivated by nature, not only by the actors. He searches for a naturalistic cinematic sense of reality. He worked on several documentaries in the beginning of his career, and is an experienced Steadicam operator. This experience translates into his cinematography.

“Documentaries are based on working with the environment and searching for the natural and available light. That shaped me a strong bond for an alive camera and strong naturalistic sense of reality. Thus, I’m looking for a life-like images. A design that is closer to reality, yet enhancing the cinematic look making the ordinary into extraordinary. Every cinematographer is unique; it is about the inner voice that each of us have. How it echoes with the director and all the people involved in a film,” said Chesini. “Steadicam operation is an amazing skill that makes my senses for motion and blocking of the actors very sensitive. I can feel the energy that the scene requires, capture the emotion of the actors and translate it through the movement of the camera.”

Having worked on several award-winning films, such as Chocolate, Tereza, and A Fabrica, as well as the television show Life on a Leash, Chesini put his work on the world stage, showing audiences everywhere what he is capable of. However, this versatile cinematographer has had limitless success, and his work on three music videos for Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade displays that perfectly.

“Music allows you to have more freedom in style as a cinematographer. It is a great territory to experiment and push your visual limits as a creator. “Oração” was actually the first music video that I shot. I mostly work in narrative. I believe that this narrative background weighs on the decisions and how I could contribute for the impact of the music video,” said Chesini.

Three days after its release, “Oração” already had over three million views on YouTube. It now has over 27 million. Chesini went on to be interviewed by Fantastico, a popular Brazilian Sunday evening program, to comment on the video. Later that year, “Oração” won the Best Web Video for the MTV Video Music Brazil Awards.

“It was an insane reaction, from no recognition to international recognition, being published in Rolling Stone and Washington Post, among others. The Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade became recognized artists and in that year, and have recently released their third album,” said Chesini.

Vinicius Nisi, the creator of the band and the keyboard player, called Chesini to be part of the video. The proposal was to record three music videos in one weekend, the main video being “Oração,” a one-shot video while recording the live audio at the same time. Such a task was enormous, and Chesini was the only one for the job. Chesini’s Steadicam experience once again was vital for the music video, as his knowledge of where to place the camera and follow the talent to have the six-minute film be one shot was fundamental. The two other videos shot were “Boa Pessoa” and “Canção para não voltar.”

“Given the success of “Oração”, our band became full time job, becoming our main source of income. We owe this to the talent and love that Andre has,” said Nisi. “Andre is an easy-going person and very easy to work with. He is always with good-humored and is very communicative. He likes to know all details in order to do a good job. His technical and artistic capabilities are undeniable.”

“What I most like working with him, is that he is secure, calm and aware. He is also really humble, and would listen all my directions and when was necessary he was pro-active in resolving issues that would appear. Andre focuses on making his work pristine. He studies the video, techniques, equipment and always makes his best. Andre knows his immense responsibility as the first viewer of the everybody work. At the same time, he does that gently and with kindness,” Nisi continued.

It took 8 shots for Chesini to get the one-shot film that was needed. This technique was a fundamental factor for the success of the video. It required skills and a sensibility as cinematographer and camera operator that Chesini always displays.

“I’m really proud of that video and its success also gave me strength to continue to pursue my dream of film,” said Chesini. “The challenge of a one-shot film is quite exciting, and being a steadicam operator, I felt compelled to immerse myself in this challenge. The long shot also requires working together with all the musicians, extras and everybody involved and seeing the involvement of everybody was really rewarding to see.”

You can watch Chesini’s work in the “Oração” music video here.

Writer Guilherme Ribeiro was force to be reckoned with during times with Globo TV Network

Guilherme Ribeiro was meant to be a writer. Ever since he was young, he always enjoyed writing, but as he aged, his hobby transformed into his passion. Today, he is celebrated internationally for his talents, with an esteemed career as an online content writer, captivating readers all over the world.

Throughout his career, Ribeiro has worked on several successful projects, with readers in his home country of Brazil and abroad. He wrote about the wonders of Rio de Janeiro for Mastercard Priceless Rio, and wrote for television programs such as TV PUC, and Toxic Rio. With everything he works on, he contributes to its success, which is exactly what happened when he worked with Globo TV Network, a major media group in Latin America.

“Globo TV Network is the dream of almost every media professional, actor, comedian and journalist in Brazil. It is like a billionaire holding with the TV studios producing content meeting Hollywood standards (series, telenovelas and movies) and exporting it for more than 100 countries. I started there as an intern and I was glad I could be hired afterwards, as my career took off from there,” said Ribeiro.

And that it did. Ribeiro worked at Globo TV for three years, between 2012 and 2015. Initially, he started as an intern, but he quickly impressed. Now, he is one of the best content writers in Brazil. All those he worked with recognized his skill, and his work was always popular among readers and viewers

“Guilherme is a creative guy, takes good pictures and was a proactive journalist and reporter for Globo. He started as an intern and ended up working full time, covering daily news for the website but also participating in especial projects, such as Carnival and 2014 World Cup news coverages. He has a good eye for details, wrote interesting reports and compelling stories during his time at Globo and was constantly working on news that reached great results regarding online views and shares on social media,” said Eduardo Vallim, Editor in Chief of two websites, Gshow and EGO, owned by Globo TV Network, and was once Ribeiro’s boss.

When working with Globo and their publication G1 – Portal de Notícias da Globo, the main news program for Globo, Ribeiro’s articles and news reports were usually in tune with everything happening in the city of Rio de Janeiro. He worked with a strong team, saying the work structure was always essential to keep a good work. He could cover a good variety of subjects, culture, music events, police, politicians, protests, press conferences, prep for the Rio Olympic Games and more. Many of his stories had over a million viewers.

“Globo is a strong brand for every Brazilian and also within Latin America, so it is comfortable and challenging at the same time write reports and articles for them. It is always a guarantee your article will reach more than a hundred thousand views in couple of days, so I can say that be behind this brand makes your name be easily written by people. But it also a little bit threatening to follow the results of your work, check if you are providing accurate and clear information,” said Ribeiro. “I used to receive a huge amount of material from press agencies, PR companies, government, companies, important people and more. Sometimes a good idea comes from a source you are definitely not expecting. That’s why the field of online content writer requires a detail oriented eye for good hooks, new possibilities to redirect news that are going on media, and other always be open for the new.”

Initially, Ribeiro was selected as an intern from over 15,000 candidates. Although he describes the process as long and hard, he was recognized for his knowledge of web journalism, and his strong writing skills. He knows how to word a story to capture an audience’s attention, making him an asset to the network. He used to cover local news in Rio, working together with the TV team from the local TV news in Globo TV, so each day was a new adventure in the city. He covered special events in Rio, such as Soccer World Cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016, but also yearly events like Carnival parades at the city. Eventually, he became the Web Content Editor at Globo.com, a very important position. At that time, he says he literally had to run to win, competing against media websites for audience and news.

“Working with Globo was very challenging, but very rewarding. Every day was a challenge, but I can say it made me fast and strong. It was awesome to work very close to such important and remarkable things to the history of my city, my country, totally participating on that. It is a journalism feeling that made me happy in there for three years,” he described.

Now, Ribeiro has moved beyond reporting for Rio, and is currently working with a Fortune 500 company on a new music project. It is definitely something we can all look forward to.

Cinematographer Ernesto Pletsch is True Storyteller for Award-Winning Film “Akirah”

AKIRAH, 2015. Dhruv Lapsia (1stAC), Derrick Cruz (director), me and Andrés Hernandez (gaffer)
Ernesto Pletsch with Dhruv Lapsia, Derrick Cruz, and Andres Hernandez

Despite always having a deep passion for art, photography, and film, Ernesto Pletsch was hesitant to follow his dream. Growing up in Porto Alegre, Brazil, there is no film industry, and not many people believe filmmaking is a sustainable career choice. However, Pletsch was determined, and refused to give up on what would make him truly happy. Audiences are thankful for this perseverance, as now he is an internationally successful cinematographer.

Pletsch sees cinematography for what it is, a true and important form of art. He is a visual storyteller, giving a voice to people that may not have had one without him. While working on the film Akirah, the voice was more metaphoric, as there was no dialogue or speaking parts. The storytelling was completely dependent on the lens of Pletsch’s camera, and he was completely up for the task.

“I liked shooting this project because I put all I had into it. Derrick, the director, trusted me and gave me freedom to try something unusual. As the film is purely visual, we had a lot to experiment with. There was lots of camera movements and dramatic lighting. I think Akirah is a cinematography guided film, so that’s why I was intrigued to work on it,” said Pletsch.

Pletsch was extremely vital to the success of the film as the director of photography, and after premiering at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank in September of 2015, it went on to have success at international film festivals. It was an Official Selection for the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival in February 2016, where it won Best Student Short Drama, as well as the Gold Award Student Film at the International Independent Film Festival.

“It feels gratifying to have the film be so successful and recognized at these festivals. When directors, producers, actors or any other people who watched Akirah come up to me to congratulate, you feel gratified because you played an important piece in the success of it. And it’s only when each piece gets together that we can make something great,” said Pletsch.

Akirah shows the struggle of young gangs in a disturbed environment. It is a film about violence, an exploration of the psychological motivations of violence and the consequences that come with growing up in a culture of it. The film deals with our society structure and the people without a chance.

“Whoever is grown in this scenario is faded to the consequences of this culture. The culture of violence. My work was to take in consideration of this environment and try to translate this idea to spread this subject to a broader public,” said Pletsch.

To try to tell this story, Pletsch chose a specific style of cinematography, similar to that of David Fincher and Fight Club for look, colors and framing, and Akira Kurosawa in terms of the blocking of the actors and movement of camera. This approach was appreciated by director Derrick Cruz.

“Working with Ernesto has been one of the most seamless and easygoing partnerships of my career. His outstanding work lighting and composing shots speaks for itself. And I contribute his excellent craftsmanship and skill as the key factor in creating the quality and professional aesthetics of my films and TV show. But above all, what has kept me going back to Ernesto with my projects and films is his excellent on set demeanor, fearlessness and professionalism,” said Cruz. “Ernesto is great at what he does because of his passion and commitment to it. Watching him grow throughout our time together at school and now in our professional careers has been terrific. He is great at what he does because it is clear to me that every day he strives to get better and be better. And because of his dedication and love for photography and film he has continued to do so. I look forward to our continued partnership.”

It was Cruz who initially invited Pletsch to work on his film. He saw a bit of Pletsch’s work and knew he had the talent and skill to take the project to the level it needed to be. After discussing the project in detail, Pletsch was won over, and was eager to start working. Arriving to set, he knew no one, and now, two years later, the crew have made many films together with no plans of stopping.

“At first, filming Akirah was challenging. Being a film without any words, it was a big step to me in the pursuit of being a cinematographer. I was anxious. At the end of the shoot I was very pleased with the results. My crew was great, composed by talented people. Overall, it was a good stress. I was a little nervous by the responsibility put upon me, but it’s a natural process. We all have to pass through that at some point, and I did it,” Pletsch concluded.

Art Director Diego Coutinho tackles award-winning film War on Drugo with perfect execution

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Part of the crew of War on Drugo

They say when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. Diego “Couts” Coutinho knows this to be true. The art director and motion graphics designer spends every day living his dream, and enjoys everything he does. But what makes his job even more enjoyable is working on projects that he truly believes in. When a film sends an important message and he is part of creating it, there is a sense of purpose that goes far beyond loving what you do.

This is exactly what happened when Coutinho worked on the Brazilian film War on Drugo. Although the film was recognized internationally and received many awards, it was working on something he believed in that was truly special.

“I can honestly say that this movie wouldn’t have been possible without Diego as Art Director/Production Designer. He was my right hand throughout the whole production, responsible for directing the Concept Art Crew while also working as Lead Concept Artist; overseeing the production of puppets and settings to make sure the original visual concept wouldn’t get lost,” said director Gabriel Nóbrega.

Commissioned by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, developed by Almap/BBDO agency and produced by Vetor Zero/Lobo studio, the film was to created to motivate a reflection on the consequences of 40 years of “war on drugs”, and to foster a broader discussion of drug policy reform. War on Drugo is set in a fairytale setting. The movie explains the disastrous war against drugs by telling the story of a dragon banished from an ancient kingdom, and how people who spent time with the dragon were thrown into jail. The visually appealing metaphor uses a simple narrative that is designed to help overcome these barriers and break taboos when it comes to discussing the issue with the public.

“The good work in this project was to create a tool to raise people’s awareness, so they can better understand the issue of drug abuse in the contemporary world,” said Coutinho.

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Artwork in War on Drugo

Coutinho took on multiple roles to ensure the film’s success. As production designer of the project, he was responsible for pre-production during the beginning stages. He followed storyboarding, creating and developing characters and scenarios. At the same time, he was the lead artist of the team, so beyond the creation of scenarios, characters and special effects, he was required to pay attention to the development of the project, ensuring other artists were consistent with the conceptual proposal of the film.

After the pre-production was finished, he followed the production and preparation of the pieces so that they were faithful to the concepts. In the sequence, he went to work in the post-production, assuming part of the coordination in the final moment. He also worked as a composer, being responsible for the main special effects of the film.

“It is normal not to have the answer to everything, but you must to be prepared to change what is necessary and correct process failures as soon as possible. So, the sooner we make a mistake, the sooner we correct the problem,” said Coutinho.

Despite War on Drugo being an extremely important project, it became Coutinho’s most-awarded project to date. Besides a lot of print and online press coverage, it was acclaimed by many of the most important awards in the field, and went on to win gold at the London International Advertising Awards for Motion Graphics Design, gold in animation at the Cannes Lions 2015, Gold at the IF Design Awards 2015 in Short Animation, and 16 other awards worldwide.

“Couts isn’t just one of the most talented Art Directors I have worked with, he also has integrity in the way he treats the project and the people,” said the animation director of the film, Lee Peffer.

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Set from War on Drugo

After the success of their previous project, the credits for the Brazilian film Brincante, Coutinho, Nóbrega, and Peffer decided to embark on this project. They knew they worked well together, and therefore used a similar style of artwork for War on Drugo. They used one of the oldest types of animation techniques: stop-motion, using hinged cardboard puppets and miniature sets. Most of the artwork was printed and glued onto pieces of laser-cut MDF, while some settings were hand-painted or created with mixed materials. Coutinho’s team took over 30,000 photographs, and built a total of 13 scenarios and over 300 characters, of which around 80 were animated, meaning they had a structure of articulated joints.

“It was a great time because it was almost like a family, where everyone stopped to talk,” said Coutinho. “We developed the proposal to mix both temporal moments in the film. We can see the logic being applied throughout the film. Early at the beginning of the movie, we see the shot of the king, he’s showed in an American capitol that has a mixed architecture with a castle. The logic also applies to the design of the clothes. In the first scene, you can see two women in medieval clothes walking with shopping bags, as if they were returning from shopping at the mall. The result is a visual of a story of fairytales, but has obvious and direct relationships with today, which helps in having a public identification with the subject, and so we get the opening to about drugs dialogue.”

You can watch the powerful film here.

Gabriella Spacciari stars in Red appearing at New York Jazz Festival

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Gabriella Spacciari at the New York Jazz Film Festival

Gabriella Spacciari was always fascinated with acting. Growing up in a small town in the south of Brazil, she used to imitate her idols and favorite characters she saw on the screen. Now, she is the one on the screen.

Spacciari has a starring role in the film Red (also known as Vermelho). The film, which originally premiered at the Madalena Festival de Cinema at São Paulo in June, is being shown at the New York Jazz Film Festival this month.

“It was an amazing surprise to go to the New York Jazz Film Festival, especially after one year of living in the United States. It’s like starting your career again. It is a gift to have a project that I did back home selected to a film festival in Manhattan. I’m going to New York for the first time to check it out. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience,” said Spacciari.

The film Red is about Ana, played by Spacciari. While under narcotic substances, Ana tries to commit suicide.

“The film is very poetic and I needed to go deep into the scenes to convey in just a few seconds all the pain that is to be cheated and the depression and self-destruction that lead us to make decisions that can bring us serious consequences,” she said.

The film was written and directed by Guilherme (Guily) Machovec Rahner. He had Spacciari in mind for the role while writing, and knew she would be able to portray Ana the way he envisioned. He describes her as very important to the success of the film.

“Gabriella is a very deep actress. Besides the fact that the camera loves her, the emotional range required to go into the circumstances of the scene made it easy to work with her.  The scenes had a high emotional stake and her concentration kept uptake by take,” he said. “I loved working with her, she is a very committed and talented actress. It was a very demanding role, but it seemed effortless for her. I look forward to working with her again as soon as the opportunity arrives.”

Spacciari agrees that they make a good team. Machovec Rahner, who teaches and produces at Operahauss in São Paulo, met each Spacciari through another producer, and knew she was the right person for his film.

“Guily said he thought about me while writing the film,” said Spacciari. “It was a very special gift to play this role.”

Spacciari has a life full of experience. Also a model, she decided to get into acting at a young age when she enrolled in the theater group in her home town. She relocated to São Paulo when she was just sixteen to pursue my career further.

“The theater group was very small. The director used to write and produce. He emphasized the importance of the classics and had us read them,” described Spacciari. “It was very important to me to understand the work of the artist – not from the glamour, but from the stage work.”

Since that time, Spacciari has had a variety of roles that explore her versatility as an actress. She was in the film Julia that premiered at 8o. CineFantasy, and Aluga-se o Ponto, which was nominated for the Prize FICC for Audiovisual at Campinas
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“I think the most difficult thing about acting is to deal always hearing the word “no”. But you have to just keep practicing your technique, cultivating good friendships, communicating with other artists, and making art,” she said.

Spacciari also has a successful modelling career, and has appeared in a variety of successful commercial campaigns, including Cultura Inglesa and Quem Disse Berenice. She was also in a multi-national Pepsi commercial.

“Acting is the art that deals with the intricate and wonderful condition that is human nature,” she concluded. “I think nowadays we are so full of information that acting is a powerful way to combat this, through sensibility.”

You can view the trailer for Red here.

BRAZIL’S VICTOR LUCENA GAINS CRITICAL ACCLAIM AND FANS IN “ARRUFOS”

Stage actor Victor Lucena knows a great deal about love. Yes, he has leading man looks and charisma but that’s not the reason. As a lead actor in the play Arrufos (translated as “Tiffs” in English) by XIX Theater Group in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Lucena explored various representation of love. Every actor uses a part of themselves and takes something with them from a role. As a celebrated theater actor in Brazil, Victor is recognized for his willingness to take on complicated roles as he did in Arrufos. The play received awards from the Shell Theatre Awards, the Sao Paulo Art Critics Association Awards, the Sao Paulo Theatre Co-Op Association, and countless others. As the lead actor in this production, Lucena’s ability to emote and relate to the three different characters he performs as in Arrufos was the driving force which led to these achievements. We all know about love but to communicate its various representations in a way that we can all relate to takes an actor of great skill and sensitivity. This Brazilian thespian’s decision to focus on theater rather than film is because of the changing nature of each performance that he thrives upon. Rather than embracing the security of a perfect take, Victor basks in the uncertainty that performing in front of a live audience grants. This is an appropriate metaphor for the changing aspects of love in each of our lives, which again points directly to Lucena’s astute attitude and ability at performing his roles in Arrufos.

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Victor’s work with the XIX Theater Group has driven them to become one of the most beloved and respected of their kind in Brazil; it’s an attribute that Luiz Fernando Marquez (director of XIX Theater Group) does not take lightly. Marques declares, “Victor has an endless collection of credits. There can be no question that our incredible critical acclaim and commercial success is entirely thanks to Mr. Lucena’s leading role. Arrufos consistently achieved massive commercial success through sold out shows with large audiences, resulting in numerous awards. Victor’s unprecedented skillset allowed him to convey three extraordinarily different and crucial characters in such a way that the audience was able to understand the overarching theme of the production. Victor’s versatility as an actor was an invaluable asset to the creation of this production.” Lucena is the type of actor who delights both his peers and his audience, a testament to his talent and his professionalism. He is also quick to throw accolades to his director and co-stars as reasons behind the acclaim that Arrufos received. The actor notes, “Luiz Fernando Marques is truly talented, particularly in the way that he is able to take on the audience’s perspective. He is able to approach it with a fresh set of eyes each time and understand how the audience will see things, rather than getting lost in a director’s mind. My co-stars: Rodolfo Amorim, Ronaldo Serruya, Juliana Sanches and Janaina Leite…they all have such passion and presence! I’m fortunate that their performances challenged me to work at such a high level. Working with the best forces you to become even better…which is why I do it.”

One of the reasons that Victor was so lauded for his work in Arrufos is in regards to his multiple performances in the play and their believability. The production is a research into the history of love in Brazil, and was written into numerous skits and sketches which show the differing ways love can be perceived, given, and received. Despite wildly different depictions of this highly complex emotion, the overall theme of the play is the strength and prevalence of love across time and space. As a leading actor for Arrufos, Mr. Lucena performed three leading characters: The Priest, The Doctor, and The Lonely. Each character is a different look into various aspects of love. The Priest acts as a conduit of the influence of the Catholic Church in the 1700’s on love and faith, the Doctor establishes opposition to the church and the science of love, and the Lonely represents the lack of hope in life when loneliness is prominent and how love conquers it. Victor explains the acts of the play, “It is a really fascinating emotional curve for the actors involved in this play. The first act is so deep, dark, and heavy. Regardless of all the speeches we all have in it; it seems too silent. In order to create that atmosphere, we all would breathe together for a few minutes and then, about 15 minutes before play starts, each actor and actress would get quiet and start concentrating for it. The second act is much lighter. We took the heaviness off of the atmosphere to break away from the First Act, which is kind of relief for the actors and the audience. The Third Act was a joy! It was especially fun because we break the fourth wall; that was something that I felt really confident and comfortable with. A play is a live organism and as so it is always varying. While a song can be performed in the same way night after night in an orchestra, that’s impossible for a play; it depends on so many different variables. I think consistency is the most important achievement for a good performance but you have to explore new places at the same time.”

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When a performance is as recognized by both consumers and critics, it’s natural to be curious about the preparation of the actor. For his roles in Arrufos, Lucena immersed himself with inspiration for the mood by reading books and watching films about the different presentations of love. He even created a specific playlist which he would listen to for 30 minutes prior to each performance. This gives credence to the idea that art inspires art. While Victor admits to ignoring critics during the run of the play, he admits to one self-congratulatory moment. He reveals, “During the First Act, as the Priest, I’d have to hide under a tiny bed, change clothes and “sing” a prayer in the complete darkness. To do all this, I had only about two and a half minutes, which is the time the character of the father had to give his speech. I’m 5’11’’ and the bed is about 5’5”. I truly believed that there was no way I could do all of this in such a cramped space, but I did and every time. When  I finished I’d secretly celebrate.” Perhaps it is this attitude, that of a man who focuses on the little things rather than worrying about grand acceptance from critics, that communicates Lucena’s joy of the stage and all its possibilities to a welcoming group of admirers.

BRAZIL’S RODRIGO BRANCO BECOMES A STAR BY SUPPORTING THE FAME OF OTHERS

For all of those who proclaim television to be a detriment to one’s life, please kindly consider Rodrigo Branco. This Executive Producer/Communications Director/Social Media expert has built a life out of his work in TV. His roots in TV can be traced back to his youth, a situation that his own children are experiencing. Branco has become one of the most successful executives in his field in all of Brazil. His status is earned with years of working his way up the ladder in TV production. Having become internationally recognized for his work on multiple domestic and international productions, he most recently has turned his attention to the TV community in the US and the opportunities it affords. It’s quite a story, a young boy in Brazil who follows his dream and effects millions around the world. It proves that hard work is rewarded and there is a chance for everyone to pursue their goals no matter how unbelievable they might seem.

As a young boy in Sao Paulo, Rodrigo used to live with his grandmother while his mother (a ballet dancer) was often out on tour, working to pursue her own artistic endeavors. This situation created two prominent factors in Rodrigo’s future. First, the understanding that following a creative dream is valid and secondly, TV was a fixture of life. Branco’s grandmother was a TV fanatic to say the least. When his mother took Rodrigo with her to a TV station for a taping, the two worlds collided. As a 10-year-old, he was amazed by the environment as well as the fact that they would tape three episodes in one day. The sudden realization that every production was not live, yet seemed to be so when viewed on TV, was like discovering the secret to a magic trick. Years later, Branco would begin his own TV career on the Marcia show. This show is one of the most popular talk shows ever on Brazilian TV. Rodrigo was with the show for more than a decade and explains, “The Márcia show was my high school, college and university! I started as a trainee and eventually became the executive producer. It was the hardest, and at the same time, the most positive show I have done in my career. According to VOGUE BRASIL, Márcia is the Brazilian Oprah. I’m proud that our ratings proved that we were number 1 every day. There is no secret to achieving this; I used to work 16 hours a day from my start as a trainee and all the way up to being EP.”

Many people sacrifice their personal life to be a part of TV production, especially those who are highly successful. Branco did the opposite and made his life and career intertwined. He met his wife when he was a trainee on Marcia and has become a father while working on the show. As the EP of the show, he worked most closely with the show’s star and namesake. He notes, “Working 16 hours a day, 6 days a week; Marcia became my second mother. We spent Christmas, New Year’s Eve…all the good times and bad times together. She has the most brilliant career in Brazil and she decided to share it with me. I think this interaction is what made our work so successful!” Rodrigo’s work in particular was recognized early in his career. In 2002, he was awarded the Premio Jovem Brasileiro [Young Brazilian Award] for his work with the Marcia show (he received this award again in 2011 for his work on the Miss Universe Pageant) …at the early age of twenty years old. Branco also received the Communication Merit Award, granted by Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, Artes, Historia e Literatura (Science, Art, History and Literature Brazilian Academy) which he refers to as the greatest honor of his professional career. Marcia is known for her show being about people, their families, and struggle. She wanted an individual steering that show who was doing it for more than the money; a person who was truly passionate about the work. Marcia recognized these traits in her early interactions with Branco. She declares, ““I met Rodrigo in his first day as a trainee in TV Bandeirantes. I immediately knew he was special. A few months later, I told him he would be the executive producer of my show and in only 3 years it became true. We had a great and fruitful partnership. He is incredibly talented!”

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Besides giving Branco a literal family as well as a professional family, TV has also given him the ability to travel the world. Experiencing locations such as; Israel, Paris, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, and all the states of Brazil, have helped Rodrigo to understand how different and yet how incredibly similar the people of the world can be. In particular, his US visits have motivated him. Branco communicates, “The TV Industry in the United States is the most professional and competitive in the entire world. There is no space for amateurs there. I have hopes of working there because it would challenge me to be the best in the US. The resources and the technology in the US are the example to the world. If a professional wants to learn how to do their job better, they need to stay close to the best! Marcia was discovered by an American Director who taught her how to do TV. Nobody does TV and Entertainment better than Americans. I could see this with my own eyes at the Latin Grammys, Miss Universe, and from studying American Shows and formats. I’ve had an extraordinary career but I am only 33 years old and I want to be better and bigger.  The only way to do that is to learn from the best. My passion is t work with talent and communication not only in TV, but with social media and other formats as well.” When contemplating Rodrigo Branco’s life, it is impossible to septate his story from the inclusion of television. When discussing it, Rodrigo himself comments, “My life was built inside a TV. My childhood was spending time with my grandmother, bonding over shows and their topics. I saw my mother performing on TV and she took me ‘inside’ television for a perspective that not many people witness. I have made many of my closest friends through my work in TV, as well as meeting the woman who became my wife. Now my children understand TV because they see their father using it to provide for them as well as understanding, as my mother showed me, that you can be creative, challenged, and rewarded with that pursuit. They realize, as I do, that I am able to make the magic that we see on the screen.”