Category Archives: Canadian Star

Voice actor Mike Goral narrates Polar Bear Town for Smithsonian network

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Mike Goral started as a radio DJ before transitioning to voice acting

Millions of people hear Mike Goral’s voice every day, and don’t even know it. He is not as instantly recognizable as Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep, but you likely know his work.

Goral is a voice actor who has worked with A&E, HBO, Showtime, Cartoon Network, Food Network, The Weather Channel, Discovery, HGTV, DIY, and many more. Now, he will be adding the Smithsonian Network to this extensive list with their new series Polar Bear Town, which he will be narrating.

Polar Bear Town is a documentary series about a community of people in Northern Manitoba, Canada that reside in a part of the continent where polar bears dwell at certain times of the year. People from all over the world travel to this remote community to get a close-up, in-person look at the mighty polar bear.

“I have been fascinated by Churchill, Manitoba for many years, so when I was approached to narrate this series, it was such a joy,” said Goral. “It’s a great production team too, which makes the job so much fun when you have great people around you.”

Goral is working under the supervision of Andy Blicq. Blicq is the post-production story editor on the documentary series made by Merit Motion Pictures for the Smithsonian Channel in the U.S.A.  The two agree they make a dynamic team.

“Andy is a fantastic director and I feel we have a really great chemistry. I really enjoy working with him. He brings a lot to the table because he’s a true professional,” said Goral.

“Mike is a top tier narrator. He’s a professional who gets the work done quickly.  He knows exactly what to do. He takes direction well and adapts quickly to suggestions when we are recording narration.  It was a pleasure to work with him,” said Blicq. “Narration work is challenging.  Each documentary series is different and a good voice actor brings his or her own creative talent to the production. Mike knows exactly what to do, adjusting his accent and performance to match the content and the emotion on the screen and the script. He executed this very well during the recording of the six one-hour episodes. We are going to work with him again, now, on a new season of this series.”

Goral is from Canada himself. He is originally from Oakville, Ontario, a town outside of Toronto. The project brought him back to his native country after living in Los Angeles and then Scottsdale where he currently resides. He has been voice acting for around twenty years.

“I service clients in all areas of the media industry with my voiceover services – everything from national TV shows, to product commercials, to corporate educational training courses for everything from banks to bakeries. I record most of my daily work from my own home studio facilities. But, some clients require I record at their studios instead of my own,” he described.

Goral does his work alone in a room, using only his voice to display the emotions that actors use their bodies, voices, scenery, props, and fellow actors for. It is no easy feat. The advantage, however, is that it is not quite as tiring.

“I don’t plan on retiring. The beauty of this kind of work is that it’s not physically taxing. Guys can do this type of work into their nineties,” said Goral. “And if they enjoy it like I do, they probably don’t really have plans to retire.”

Goral has a long time before he has to start thinking like that, and with more new episodes of Polar Bear Town ahead of him, he has a lot to look forward to.

“I’d love to do more long form documentary series. They are a lot of fun, and always a joy when those opportunities come around,” he said.

You can watch full episodes of Polar Bear Town here.

Actress Tara Yelland to appear in CTV’s Saving Hope

Canadian actress Tara Yelland will be gracing small screens in the fall.

Yelland has been cast in CTV’s hit medical drama Saving Hope. Yelland will play Summer, the nanny, a role that allows Yelland to show off her comedic side.

“She gets into trouble constantly! She’s inappropriate, wild, and generally just a total mess” said Yelland.

Initially brought in to audition for a smaller role, Yelland impressed right away. During the casting session the director suggested she read for another character. They sent her out into the hall with the sides where she had to quickly familiarize herself with the script.

“I came back in and just had fun with it, and I guess it worked,” she recalled. “They liked what I did with the character, so they kept her around.”

The role required Yelland work primarily with Erica Durance (Smallville) and Michael Shanks (Stargate).

“They’re total pros and the fact that they’re genuinely nice people and giving scene partners is definitely a bonus,” said Yelland.

The two play a recently divorced couple trying to co-parent, and Summer, the nanny, is there to help. However, it turns out she’s not very helpful.

“I don’t think I’ve had this much fun with a role in a long time. She’s so over the top that it really gives me a kind of freedom to be big and outrageous. Summer lives in a world where consequences aren’t a real thing, so she doesn’t really have any fear. I kind of admire that,” she said. “Summer is a bit out of control, and there are plenty of opportunities for comedy, and physical comedy, in particular.”

Yelland also worked alongside actor Greg Bryk for the role, who describes her as a “special actor.”

“Tara is beautiful, charming and sensitive.  She is also gifted with a fierce intelligence. She is very serious about her craft and has grown immensely as a performer in the time that I have known her,” said Greg Bryk. “She brings together a whimsical sense of humor with the emotional depth to fully realize more dramatic roles. That combination is incredibly rare and makes Tara one of the most unique people I have ever met. It would not surprise me if she became a star.”

The role allowed Yelland to experiment with challenges she had not frequently encountered in her acting career.

“I don’t have a lot of experience with children, so working with a set of twin babies was definitely a challenge! But an exciting one. I was so nervous about holding a baby, but it was actually kind of great, I was so focused on carrying this baby and not dropping him and trying to stop him from crying that it kept me very present during the scenes. You never knew how they were going to react during a take, whether it will be laughter or tears,” she said. “It kept things fresh.”

Playing Summer gave Yelland the opportunity to play around with a character that was extremely different than what she was used to.

“The fun thing about acting is that you get to keep a part of all the people you become with you, and I guess what I took away from Summer, and my time on Saving Hope, is her sense of risk and freedom. I mean, imagine being a person who just follows their impulses and does whatever they want, whenever they want…I kind of liked it. Summer is irresponsible. I am way too much of a control-freak to ever even show up late for work, let alone the kind of shenanigans Summer gets herself into.”

However, they have their similarities.

“We can both be a bit impulsive, but luckily, I’m far less self-destructive than she is,” Yelland concluded. “We’re also both very fond of big floppy hats.”

Saving Hope returns for its fifth season this fall.

 

ACTOR MICHELLE ALEXANDER EXCELS AS ‘DARKNET’ SERIAL KILLER

Actor Michelle Alexander inhabits every role with a masterly conviction. Her characterizations, whether a light hearted comedy or dark suspense thriller, display an involvement and authority which completely draws an audience in. The Canadian-born Alexander’s artful prowess allowed her to transition, with admirable grace, from theater to television, where she electrified viewers as a knife-wielding slasher on the groundbreaking Darknet, a well-received, innovative anthology series of urban horror stories.

The lissome, charming Alexander was hardly an obvious choice for a serial killer, but she easily won the role of murderous psychotic Alison. “The Darknet auditions were highly competitive,” Alexander said. “The individual slots for the first round were only five minutes long, but I was kept in the room for 45 minutes. They had me do a 2-minute scene about 10 different ways, and later told me they were blown away by how quickly I adapted to direction.”

“Then there was the callback,” she said. “It was one of my favorite ever auditions. The scene was Alison stabbing her first murder victim and realizing how much she loved it. I wanted to have something to push against, literally, when doing the ‘stabbing’ so I slammed a giant chair into the ground over and over again. I thought ‘they’re either going to think I’m crazy or an acting-chair-wielding genius.’ That bold choice paid off.”

Alexander’s instinct and audacity, combined with a deep well of classical stagecraft—an alumni of the distinguished University of Windsor BFA Acting Program with extensive additional training and stage experience—effectively guaranteed her the part, and she took full advantage of the offbeat opportunity.

“Those are the scenes you wish for as an actor, going from 0 to100 in seconds, from innocent student to serial killer,” she said. “Alison was the first role that showed me how my own personal brand of humor and heart is watchable and exciting. I love bringing that quality, which is uniquely me, to roles that show how women can be really screwed up and still amazingly powerful at the same time.”

Alexander’s gift for weaving subtle ambiguity and blunt force drama together into an engrossing whole is impressive, and Darknet was an important upshift in her already solid roster of theatrical and film achievement. But she doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“Is anyone ever really satisfied with their performance?” Alexander said. “Actors are notoriously hard on themselves and driven for self-improvement, not qualities that foster self-satisfaction. Of course, there were moments in the final cut that I watched and thought ‘oh they chose that take, it’s good, but I can do better.’ I didn’t think that was my best’. But, ultimately, my job is to deliver believable moments and it’s their job to choose which version fits into the story they want to tell.”

Darknet’s singular format, with multiple plotlines progressing over several episodes, each helmed by different directors, provided Alexander a rare, interactive behind-the-scenes experience.

“It felt like a truly collaborative experience,” Alexander said. “The directors of the different episodes really treated me like the authority on my character, always asking what I thought Alison would do in a situation. Even the script writers were collaborative. For example, before they signed off on Episode Five they asked if I agreed with the very extreme choice they had Alison make. You can’t ask for a better work environment than that.”

“I had the pleasure of working with Michelle on Darknet,” director Jeremy Ball said. “Michelle stood out for her energy, commitment, and ability to take direction. I also found her to possess a singular screen presence that was at once completely her own and capable of accommodating a scene’s unique requirements.”

Alexander’s work on Darknet, currently streaming on Netflix, instilled a fondness for the small screen format. “It was fantastic,” she said. “The entire crew, creative team and cast were a joy to work with. Also, we laughed a lot when the cameras weren’t rolling, which is key when making any show, but especially a horror show.”

She has gone on to appearances on The Strain and Orphan Black and is eager to take on additional television roles. “I want to play amazing females who viewers can look forward to hanging out with, crying with and watching in awe as they take on the world episode after episode.” Alexander said. “My dream job is to helm my own sci-fi series as a character that’s riddled with flaws but has a killer sense of humor and can kick anyone’s ass.”

At her core, Alexander is a reliable, self-critical craftsman with a driven, pragmatic attitude that serves her very well. “Nothing will ever go exactly as planned,” she said. “So bend your knees, trust yourself and always be in the moment.”

Actor Cody Sparshu Shares His Secrets to Success as a Lead in Double Booked

By Martin Desouza 

cody 3It is no secret in the film industry that actors are faced with having to play characters who drastically differ in comparison to who they are in real life. 30-year-old Canadian actor Cody Sparshu knows this all too well.

In order to overcome this challenge, Sparshu likes to find emotional similarities between himself and the character in attempt to make the character’s behaviour as authentic as possible.

Sparshu attributes his success to this strategy, but laughed when admitting it was very difficult to do in preparation for his most recent lead role in, Double Booked. The laughter was in reference to the fact that the film’s award winning director and producer, Neil Webb, cast Sparshu just one week before shooting began in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

“I just locked myself at home for a week and prepared the 60 pages dialogue over and over. It’s just the nature of the business. Sometimes actors need to work with what they’re given and go with the flow,” said Sparshu.

Despite the intense preparation timeline, Sparshu felt he delivered one of the best performances of his career, and Webb agreed.

“Cody showed extraordinary commitment both on and off the set in his leading role. He had a very limited amount of time to prepare for this project, being one of the last members locked in and having one of the largest and most dialogue heavy parts,” said Webb. “Nevertheless, Cody showed up on set for his leading role prepared to the utmost extent, ready to deliver an amazing performance. Rarely did Cody require more than two takes to achieve the performance which brought not only a unique and extremely thought-out perspective, but an immediacy that resonated with viewers.”

Sparshu was very humbled to receive high praise from Webb, and on top of his ability to make emotional connections with the characters he plays; he acknowledges another untraditional and personal approach.

“As weird as it may sound, when I’m acting I’m able to be more true to myself,” he said. “When playing a character, you have the freedom to embrace the real emotions and actions within you, that you feel you might normally not have permission to. You’re living under imaginary circumstances so there’s no repercussions to being real.”

Double Booked premiered in Los Angeles in 2014 and depicts the story of a tight-knit group of friends who have been taken captive while on vacation at a cabin in the mountains. Months after a scarring event, the group find themselves being subjected to sleep deprivation and mental torture as they desperately try to discover the motivation of their captors, a seemingly normal couple.

Sparshu played the role of Jeff, an easy-going hipster who was very passive and timid in nature. Throughout the course of the film, Jeff undergoes a dramatic self-realization experience as he eventually finds the strength, motivation and courage to stand up for himself.

The Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association nominated the film for Best Feature Drama and Best Original Score, two achievements that Sparshu is very proud of.

Undoubtedly, Sparshu’s passion for the arts runs deeply, as he references being on the family video camera with his sisters at age six. As he studied drama in elementary and high school, he acted in several theatrical plays, commercials, and films. It is on this foundation that he has been able to build a successful career.

“In studying various forms of theoretical acting techniques, I’ve been able to develop a strong sense of self-awareness which has allowed me to execute the techniques that best suit my style and strengths,” he said.

On top of his acting roles, Sparshu is building his portfolio as a writer and producer. In the process of writing his first feature film, Sparshu revealed that he has been able to leverage his experiences from acting, and apply them to the realm of writing and producing. Ironically, by improving his writing and producing skills, he is able to further evolve as an actor. It is a reciprocal process that Sparshu feels any aspiring actor should consider. He added that he is excited to show his dynamic ability to the world in the near future.

“As I mature in this business, I want to model myself off the Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson’s of the world,” he concluded. “Those guys produce more work than they act in. They are just as concerned with delivering a captivating movie as they are about their own individual acting performance.”

It is this deeper understanding of the fundamental elements that go into the production of a movie that Sparshu feels will allow him to continue to grow in the film industry as an actor, as a producer, and as an artist.

Cinematographer Peter Hadfield “disarms” viewers with his talent

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Peter Hadfield is from British Columbia, Canada.

Peter Hadfield has achieved a lot through his career, and a lot of this has to do with his success filming music videos.

The Canadian cinematographer has had four music videos selected as Vimeo Staff Picks. He describes the highlight of his career so far as working on the politically charged music video for Wintersleep’s song Amerika.

Two years ago he experienced success working along directed Dee Shin for Akmu’s video for the song Melted, which has over 6.5 million views on YouTube.

This song gets a strong emotional reaction from people.
There are tons of comments on how it makes them cry, and there are a few reaction videos of people watching the video and crying,” said Hadfield. “I think after this video was released I thought, ‘wow, I can do this.’”

The video was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, and follows a boy as he comes across a variety of different people.

“It was fun to shoot a video with so many different people. Lots of different faces and textures in that video. Shooting a bearded dragon lizard with a macro lens was a ton of fun,” said Hadfield. “Everyone has a sweet spot, or a certain way they can be photographed that shows off their personality immediately. It was a challenge to find that spot with all the different people in the video.”

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Hadfield’s work on Melted brings out an emotional response from audiences.

After this success, Hadfield had the chance to work with his college friend, the musician, Pomo, aka Dave Pimentel, on the video Back 2 U, which Hadfield describes as his favorite videos that he has shot. It was shot in Toronto at the Pan Am Sports Facility as the video features many divers on their way into the pool.

“Finding the angles for the divers was a lot of fun, and taking the dives to the next level by adding the visual effects gave it a weird, trippy feel,” he said.

A challenge was presented when it came to shooting underwater. Hadfield had operate a 7D in a 5D underwater housing.

“We just rolled the camera, put it in the housing, and jumped in,” he said. “You can’t really see what you’re doing when you shoot underwater. I was wearing a snorkel and mask, but there are still a few inches of water in between your eyes and the mask that makes the monitor blurry. It was also really hard to keep the camera still, and I knew that shaking underwater footage wasn’t going to cut well with the footage we were getting of the divers in midair or on the deck, so we had to figure out a way to steady it. Our PA had to dive down to the bottom of the pool each time to retrieve the camera because we ended up just resting it on the bottom of the pool!”

Hadfield worked alongside Bahwee Suh, who was the executive producer and president at HW&W record label, as well as Kerry Noonan who is a producer and art director in Toronto, and Jack Yan Chen who was the camera operator.

“Things always seem to go smoothly when working with Peter. He has a warm and thoughtful presence on set which can sometimes disarm you from how professionally he executes every shot, every scene, every day. In short, Mr. Hadfield has a great deal of technical proficiency and makes it look easy,” said Kerry Noonan. “As a cinematographer, Peter has a lot of skills at his disposal. His instinct and sensibility come through on his reel, however something that you can only see on set is his cautious curiosity. Peter looks at figures, objects and landscapes and wonders how many new ways can we see it. He is always considering slight adjustments to impact a shot. If the idea doesn’t work he moves on, it does, it might just be the best part of your day.”

Hadfield agrees he and Noonan made a good team for the video.

“Kerry had some great creative input on the video and he worked his butt off to make it all happen,” said Hadfield.

Hadfield was not only the cinematographer on the film, but he also had the opportunity to direct it. He says having this opportunity further cemented his knowledge on shooting ratios and how much you actually have to shoot to make a cohesive music video.

“Directors are always editing in their minds on set, and I think being a cinematographer who can also edit and has a deep knowledge of post-production is an advantage. Before you specialize you’ve got to know how the whole machine works. I think that’s the difference between film making now and film making 20 years ago. Before each position was very specialized and delegated in a militaristic way, but the contemporary digital cameras completely democratize the whole film making experience. Since everyone can now direct, shoot, edit, and mix sound more can be accomplished with a smaller amount of people,” he said.

From a young age Hadfield knew what his passion was, and his love for his art has contributed to his many achievements.

“I’ve always had an interest in cameras and filmmaking,” he said. I played with my dad’s camcorder as a kid, and made little movies with my sister. There’s footage of me somewhere filming my sister giving a tour of the house, and walking into a wall with the camera held up to my eye.”

His understanding and appreciation for the art of cinematography, as well as his inherent skill behind the camera show why Peter Hadfield’s name will continue to be seen on rolling on the credits, now and in the future.

IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD & ALEX MACPHERSON FEELS FINE

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Who likes the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse? Nobody, right? Well, except for Alex MacPherson. Maybe it’s because he is such a fan of the genre. Maybe it’s because he feels as if he has already lived through it with his role in Dead Rush. The film was released earlier this year and was an Official Selection of the Canada Film Fest. Unless you have been hibernating or living off the grid for the past several years, you know that zombies are ubiquitous in film and television. Walking Dead and movies like 28 Days Later ignited a zombie fire that has seen TV and movies about them set records. One thing is for sure, people love seeing zombies and MacPherson is no exception. Whereas most zombie scenarios show a group paradigm, Dead Rush takes an extremely personal perspective by following one man as he loses everything. It’s this individual’s struggle in a world that is crumbling around him that implies the modern concern for our planet and how society is causing it to fall into a state of disrepair; one from which it can never fully recover…or maybe it is just good old’ fashion Hollywood scare tactics.

Dead Rush is simply the zombie version of the “riches to rags” story for one man. Early in the film the main character’s wife dies as they attempt to escape the chaos that follows the apocalypse, soon all those around him are dying and becoming zombies. We follow the journey of the main character and his attempt to find refuge with survivors. MacPherson is literally the first person we see in the film. Sadly for him, he is killed trying to escape and is impaled by a pole; his death resulting in his rebirth as a zombie. Even the long periods required to be in the makeup chair couldn’t dull Alex’s enthusiasm as he recalls, “It sounds a little crazy to say that you love a car crash scene but I didn’t have any of the negativity of an actual crash or the repercussions that follow so it was a lot of fun. The Art Department had beaten the hell out of this old van. They shoved a pole through the windshield, hooked up smoke machines, it was pure Hollywood magic! The Makeup artists were incredible so when I saw the zombie it really was terrifying. He looked so real!”

Zac Ramelan directed (along with writing and producing credits for) the film. Ramelan (known for his work on feature films like Late Night Double Feature, Zombieworld, and others) often works with cinematographer Karl Janisse. Witnessing the professional relationship between the two, Alex comments, “Working with director Zac Ramelan, and Director of Photography Karl Janisse, was the best part of this project for me. The two were like peanut butter and jam, working so well together. I remember sitting back and watching with admiration as they broke down a scene. Zac, who also wrote the film, had such a clear vision of everything, and of course, that always help as an actor, when you have strong direction.” It would be quite difficult for anyone to understand what motivates a zombie (other than eating brains, of course) but MacPherson confirms that working with Ramelan made it easy, noting, “When you have a director with a vision as strong as Zac’s, not much research is required. As for putting my mind fully into the film’s character, it really wasn’t hard with how detailed the set was, which was just done so well. It truly felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic world.” The film’s cinematographer Karl Janisse praises MacPherson’s abilities and contributions that helped achieve such a positive public response declaring, “It was an immense pleasure to work with Alex on Dead Rush. He is so creative. Working in this genre you need the story to be fresh but you also need the actors to bring something new to a role, something that entices the viewer; Alex does that. He is a wonderful actor. I’m scheduled to work with him soon on a project for Mimic Entertainment and I am really looking forward to it.”

It would seem that the misfortune which befalls the cast on screen is not without a real life counterpart, although in a much more benevolent sense. When the cast walked the red carpet at the film’s premier (at the Canada Film Festival) they were caught in a torrential downpour…in Canada…in winter! This occurrence (soundtrack provided by fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette’s tempting of fate) still did not dampen the cast’s spirits. According to MacPherson it has more to do with Canadian’s love of film that anything. He states, “Studios like to pick up horror films because they sell! Much of the feel of a horror film can be created with lighting, color correction and music. I don’t think Canada in particular has any specific things that make the horror genre so prevalent but there is just so much filming here! Toronto and Vancouver are film capitols, and the amount of filming there is actually increasing!”

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Never content to settle, Alex has several projects in the works. He recently wrote and starred in Palmer’s Pumpkins. He wrote the film specifically as an ode to the 80’s horror films that he grew up loving, although it is more fun and fantasy based than horror. When Earth Sleeps is a trilogy set in a post apocalyptic world (a theme Alex is familiar with) in which the main character Aydin searches for solace. While maintaining a heavy workload of filming in his homeland of Canada, MacPherson hears the sirens beckoning from Hollywood. He reveals, “As much as I love Canada, and Toronto specifically, Los Angeles has been calling to me for a while. There’s something about the Hollywood dream that calls to all actors. I visited LA a few times over the last few years, originally thinking that I wouldn’t love the city, but would have to learn to at least accept it; the funny thing is, after my first visit I absolutely fell in love with it. That and every fiber of my being was screaming out that I had to get there. To this day I have a strong intuitive notion that my next chapter in film will occur in LA. Whether Toronto has a ton of projects shooting or not, there is still something about LA that Canada doesn’t have, when it comes to the entertainment world. As an actor and screenwriter, Los Angeles’s appeal is paramount. I’m also really lucky to have become close with a number of LA-based directors and producers. I am super excited to have a bunch of projects lined up already. It is one thing to want to get to LA as an actor, but it’s another thing altogether to have LA film people want to work with you. It’s like something out of a dream. What a life!”

Comedic actor and writer Adam Niebergall is a “joke factory”

Delivering a punch line is hard work. Saying things in the right way to provoke laughter is not easy. Comedic actors definitely have their work cut out for them. That being said, writing something that makes people laugh can be even harder. Ottawa born and Toronto based comedic actor and writer Adam Niebergall knows this better than most.

After discovering a passion for acting in high school drama classes and the improv team, Niebergall continued his dramatic studies at Queen’s University. After graduating and moving to Toronto, he took writing classes at the world-renown Second City.

“I got into writing because I was really inspired by what people around Toronto were doing with comedy and I wanted to find out what my point of view would produce compared to theirs. People like David Dineen Porter, who lives in LA now, working as a writer on The Late Late Show, or Tom Henry and Chris Locke, who are both stand ups in Toronto, were inspirations,” said Niebergall.

Niebergall also formed a close friendship with Roger Bainbridge and the two formed the sketch comedy group Tony Ho.

“I especially loved Roger’s writing, obviously I’m such a weird fan boy of my friend Roger, but he really made unique stuff and had great ideas and I wanted my writing to be my own version of that,” he said.

Niebergall is now an award-winning writer and actor after winning a Canadian Comedy Award in 2015 as a member of sketch troupe Get Some. Get Some also won Toronto Sketchfest Best of the Fest that year, as well as Best of Fest at Montreal Sketchfest in 2016.

“For me, my writing surprises me. Whenever I feel like I’m really getting somewhere with my writing I feel this sort of meditative quality of peace, and I’m pleasantly baffled at having no idea where it came from. You live your everyday life as yourself and you know who you are, but at least for me, when I write I feel like ‘…who the hell am I? I didn’t know that stuff was in there’. I like that feeling a lot,” he described. “What I like about writing comedy is making really complicated emotions. I love the idea of making someone laugh but also feel something else. It’s such a neat idea to me that someone can laugh and feel sad at the same time, or that you can laugh and feel confused at the same time. I want to write comedy that you might think about later. Either there was a visual or a joke or a concept that stayed with you and you can’t shake it and hopefully it makes you feel weird.”

Despite his success, Niebergall still acknowledges the challenges that writing can bring. He believes there are two challenges that all writers need to overcome.

“You have to maintain your confidence when you’re stuck with something and you have to try and figure out how to fix it or you feel unmotivated and you can’t think of what to write,” he said. “You also have to let go of things you love when you’re writing something. Often the kernel of an idea that got you so excited to write something is ultimately expendable when you’re nearing the final product or it doesn’t work anymore and you have to get rid of it. It’s really hard to do for me. I feel like it happens almost every time for me so I’m getting used to it.”

Niebergall definitely overcomes these challenges. Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, a producer and writer who has worked with Niebergall, describes working with him as working in a “joke factory.”

“Adam’s a complete dream to have on the production team, and brings a creative drive to the process, that not only makes everyone around him work hard, it gives us all a trust in one another. Adam not only works well professionally and with full attention to detail, he also makes sure we work efficiently,” said Fernandez-Stoll. “I’m thankful to know such a good writer, actor and all around great guy.”

Daniel Beirne, an actor, writer, and producer known for the award-winning television show Fargo, has known Niebergall since high school, and describes him as a pleasure to work with.

“Adam is a joy to have on set, both with his humor and his ease of performance. Adam comes prepared, and is always ready even after long hours of work and waiting. Adam makes other actors feel at ease thanks to his ability to make them laugh and feel comfortable, and by extension increases the overall workplace atmosphere to one of joy. Adam brings thoughts and ideas to his characters and process that strengthen the project as a whole, often in unexpected ways,” said Beirne. “His surprising approach, although often quite funny, comes from a very honest place, and it makes for extremely compelling viewing. Adam is naturally unique, and he uses his craft to enhance that uniqueness, to bring about a singular performer, who will go far.”

Niebergall’s writing credits now extend to two comedic short films Japan and Wanda that were both nominated Canadian Comedy Awards. Japan was also selected for LA Comedy Shorts Fi Festival and won the Laugh Sabbath film festival at NXNE in 2014.

“Making Japan and Wanda were both very hard work really taxing because we wanted to make spotless, professional impressive looking movies with almost no budget at all,” he described. “Luckily we had great help. Henry Sansom was a miracle for us because he had unbelievable camera equipment and he was willing to work with a really small crew to shoot them both. Same goes for Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll. He helped us produce both movies and we couldn’t have done it without him. Also Morgan Waters and Tim Moore who have cut our movies beautifully for us.”

Despite all of his success, Niebergall still finds the criteria for great writing to be mysterious.

“I wish I could make a formula or something. My process changes all the time. I know that I really get going when I feel like I’m making the weirdest possible idea I can write that still feels honest somehow or relatable. I’m inspired to be so damn weird but still really engage your interest,” he concluded.

Breakout Child Actor Samuel Faraci Stars In Three Upcoming Movies

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Samuel Faraci

The award winning child actor, Samuel Faraci, has three hit movies making their first debut to audiences around the world over the next few months. In “Country Crush,” “Blood Hunters” and “The Headhunter’s Calling,” Faraci shares scenes with some of Hollywood’s most riveting stars. While all three films differ in genre, they all share one surefire similarity: they all succeed at showcasing Faraci’s sought-after talents.

“Country Crush” is an upcoming musical drama from writer and director Andrew Cymek (“Night Cries,” “Agency of Vengeance: Dark Rising” and “Dark Rising: Warrior of Worlds”) that follows a city girl named Nancy Taylor, played by newcomer Madeline Merlo, who meets good-hearted Charlie Bishop, portrayed by Munro Chambers (“Degrassi,” and “Turbo Kid”). After sparks fly and a promising romance begins, Nancy and Charlie return to New York City where Nancy’s music career is beginning to flourish, until she’s faced with a choice: Will she continue along her career path as an opportunistic music producer, or follow her heart instead? One Tree Hill’s Jana Kramer (“One Tree Hill,” “90210” and “Entourage”) also stars in the film.

“I portray Cody Bishop Jr. in “Country Crush,” who is a sweet, good-natured boy who idolizes his dad. Cody’s father is Charlie’s older brother,” said Faraci. “and a soldier who serves his country overseas.” The film was shot in the Canadian countryside of Northern Ontario during the Summer, “A beautiful landscape that was close to forests and lakes,” Faraci fondly described. After a one of a kind experience working alongside the widely known country singer and actress, he commented, “Watching her work, I realized how hard it is to sing and perform at the same time. Jana is very sweet and a wonderful actress.”

The theatrical release of “Country Crush” will be introduced this fall, the home video launch set to take place on the Q1 of next year.

Additionally, in just about a month’s time now, Faraci’s second film titled “Blood Hunters,” directed by the acclaimed Tricia Lee (“Silent Retreat” and “Clean Break”), will be presenting its world premiere at the Horror Channel FrightFest Film Festival in London, England on August 29, 2016. Faraci plays a boy named “Hunter” in the film, the lead character’s son. “I auditioned for the role of Hunter and got a quick and positive response. I was so happy because I knew how good Tricia’s work was,” Faraci said.

The indie horror flick stars Leo Award nominee Lara Gilchrist (“Bates Motel,” “Rookie Blue” and “Supernatural”) as Ellie Barnes, a single mother who overdoses and wakes up in a medical facility to find that everyone around her is dead – and that she’s nine months pregnant.

Faraci is no stranger to the style of this elevated genre creature feature, as his prior film credits consist of the full-length film “Antisocial 2” and the horror TV series “Hannibal.” Elaborating on his character in “Blood Hunters,” Faraci explained, “Hunter is a precocious boy whose mom has not been the most attentive and whose dad has never been around. He has learned to not only take care of himself, but of his mom who leaves the stove on, food too long in the fridge or forgets to go to appointments. He understands more than his mom thinks he does, but loves her very much and will defend her to the end of the earth.” Furthermore, Faraci describes his scenes in “Blood Hunters” as, “Pretty emotional.”

“The Headhunter’s Calling” is the rising star’s third upcoming project, a Mark Williams (“The Accountant,” “Flawless” and “Shuttle”) family drama, follows a ruthless corporate headhunter played by Gerard Butler (“The Ugly Truth,” “P.S. I Love You” and “300”) who arranges jobs for engineers and is more focused on his job than his family. When his child is diagnosed with cancer, Butler’s character puts his overtly successful career on hold, leading to a clash of his personal and professional priorities.

“I play Kyle who is one of Ryan’s classmates. Ryan is the son of Gerard Butler’s character,” Faraci explained. “Kyle has an exchange with Elise, Ryan’s mom, when she stops by to get Ryan’s homework at school.” The character Elise is played by Boardwalk Empire’s very own Gretchen Mol (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Life on Mars” and “Mozart in the Jungle”).

Originally, Faraci had auditioned for the main role of “Ryan,” but didn’t book it due to physical traits the character needed to match. Just days after this unfortunate news, the casting director invited Faraci to perform the role of Kyle without the need of a new audition. “While I didn’t work directly with Mr. Butler,” Faraci also mentioned, “It’s exciting to have your name involved in a big production with A-List talent such as Alison Brie (“Community,” “BoJack Horseman” and “Mad Men”), Gretchen Mol, Willem Dafoe (“Spider-Man,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Finding Nemo”), and Alfred Molina (“Spider-Man 2,” “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angie Tribeca”).”

“The Headhunter’s Calling” will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, also known as TIFF, this September.

 

For more information on Samuel Faraci, please visit: http://www.imdb.me/samuelfaraci/

Follow Samuel Faraci on Twitter: https://twitter.com/samuelfaraci

For more information on “Country Crush,” please visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3901944/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

For more information on “Blood Hunters,” please visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3646592/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

For more information on “The Headhunter’s Calling,” please visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1718924/?ref_=nv_sr_1

HUNTER PHOENIX USES ACTING AS THE ULTIMATE RPG

The next time you are feeling like the ultimate multitasker, consider actress Hunter Phoenix who uses her vocation as therapy. Okay, that’s an oversimplification. When the director of the London based production of Streetcar Named Desire cast her in the role of Blanche “Because it’s going to be fascinating to watch you fall apart (emotionally)”; that would likely seem intimidating to most of us. It was to Hunter, until she realized this was a chance to lead out a very different life without repercussions. The actress decided to embrace the unknown, resulting in two decades of a highly successful career in Canada and Europe. Seeking new experiences for growth has now led her to Hollywood and the ever changing possibilities of acting. The long list of Canadian actors contributing to American Television and Film such as; Raymond Burr, Dan Aykroyd, Pamela Anderson, Rachel McAdams, Mike Myers, Ryan Reynolds, Ellen Page…and honestly, too many to mention here, continues to grow. Hunter Phoenix is following the path of her fellow countrymen by investing in Hollywood’s possibilities. She is no stranger to the international film industry (taking part in films recognized at the Oldenburg Film Festival, Toronto Black Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival, plus many others) and Los Angeles is astute in recognizing her luminous qualities. Following years of establishing herself in the Canadian and European markets as a talented and charismatic actress, Ms. Phoenix has increasingly appeared in many different formats here in the United States. Modern actors cross many varied platforms including; film, television, theater, even web-based, Hunter has immersed herself into all of these. In 2016 you can find Hollywood’s A-list at your local theater, on a cable series, or in original content for websites such as Funny or Die.

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Producer (and actress) Maria Rohm has worked with everyone from Orson Welles to Christoph Waltz. She knows how to recognize talent as well as marketability. Maria has worked with Ms. Phoenix on multiple films and notes, “Hunter is very unique as an actress. She has the ability to convey vulnerability and handle the most dramatic scenes but also has great comedic timing. You rarely see that in a woman of such poise, beauty and grace. She raises the bar of any project she becomes involved in.”

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For the film High Adventure (distributed in Canada by Universal Studios Home Video), Hunter played the role of Ingrid, Chris Quartermain’s ex-girlfriend.  Phoenix’s performance added greatly to the depth of the film according to its director Mark Roper who relates, “What these two characters create on-screen and accomplish in this movie is transcendent, and greatly responsible for the movie’s overwhelming commercial success. This was largely due to Hunter’s commitment to her performance in this role.” It is readily apparent in the film that Phoenix enjoys the subtle nuances and mannerisms of her performance. No doubt her costars appreciate the fact that she helps the audience to see the main character through her eyes, allowing them to become more real, flawed, and interesting. Hunter considers this to be one of her finest achievements as an actress, to aid the audience in seeing deeper into the characters.

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  Pact with the Devil is a modern adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and would seem an appropriate analogy for the lifestyle and challenges of the entertainment industry. The film’s cast includes Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, The Artist), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglorious Bastards, Spectre) and, as Isabella…Hunter Phoenix. Producer David Goldstein describes Hunter in the film as “commanding the screen” and “fascinating to watch!” Phoenix’s physical beauty is natural as a character that has an affair with the handsome Dorian Gray; what comes as a complete surprise is her comedic timing. Her performance gives unexpected moments of humor and levity to a dark story being played out by actors with potent gravitas. “I have written roles for Hunter on several movies and she makes the characters tangible and temporarily suspends all disbelief. When watching Hunter, you forget that she is an actress playing the part; she just IS that person.” remarks writer Peter Jobin.

In a more family themed role, Hunter will appear as Sabrina Baroque in The Bandit Hound II (she is also credited in The Bandit Hound I). This family tale centers on an unwitting dog’s involvement in an armed robbery and his road to redemption through the love of his adoptive family. In addition to Phoenix, the cast includes household names like; Catherine Bell (JAG), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), and Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club). The Bandit Hound and The Bandit Hound II’s director Michelle Danner praises Hunter remarking, “I was inspired by this new actress and immediately made the decision to cast Hunter in the sequel ‘Bandit Hound II.’ The chemistry between Hunter and two of our leads was magnetic, a crucial element to achieving the heartwarming finale we’re hoping for.” In the sequel, the bank robbers are locked up but Sabrina is their “man on the outside.” Sabrina is the typical pretty face who aligns herself with the bad boys but she has a secret…one that will require viewing of the movie to reveal…no spoilers here. With the movie set to begin filming in 2016, fans of the film will have to wait a while to discover the plot twists. In the meantime, to get their portion of Hunter, they’ll have to do no more than turn on their computers. Just as cable grew into the creative and ratings juggernaut it is, the web is a new avenue for many a creative series.

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For someone like Hunter Phoenix who has tested herself in live theater, television, and films, seeing what online entertainment can do is a natural exploration. She is cast as Vanessa in Uncensored Hollywood, a series about aspiring actors in Hollywood and the culture of sex, drugs, alcohol, and lies. The subject matter could lend itself to drama but the tone is definitely one of comedy.  With episodic titles like; “Arnold Schwarzenegger and Godot”, “The King’s Speech – Made in Hollywood”, “Game of Thrones – The amateurs”, and “SNL Tennessee Williams” it is easy to see that the series pokes fun at the self important side of Hollywood as well as pop-culture.  Phoenix describes her character Vanessa as a former child actor/now talent agent, full of grit and toughness, while still being humorous and fragile (due to her ex-husband). The role is a perfect place for the actress to show an intense yet comedic facet of her inner self. That seems understandable for someone whose achievements range from Tennessee Williams to Second City improv. Hunter embraces Uncensored Hollywood and her character stating, “What makes the show both poignant and funny is that it contains that kernel of truth. It’s not me but I draw on my own experiences to breathe emotional vibrance into Vanessa’s world.”  This acting therapy that Hunter uses allows her to be people that she isn’t, while doing things she’d probably never be comfortable doing, and somehow results in her being a more actualized self. Maria Rohm of (Tower of London Films) describes Phoenix stating, “Hunter is also one of the kindest and most caring people I have ever met. She worked with street youth, mentoring them for a number of years during her time in Toronto through Covenant House, and she gives generously to animal welfare charities.” Hunter’s personal form of acting therapy results in great work that is appreciated by the industry, as well as therapeutic side effects for herself and those around her.

Actor Cory Dagg is a Creative Powerhouse on Screen!

Some actors seem to be in absolutely everything, and for almost 30 years Cory Dagg has been just such an actor. He’s worked with many of the biggest names in the industry, played virtually every kind of character imaginable, and has left a trail of phenomenal productions in his wake. His raw talent and vast experience are complemented by an emotive and dynamic physical appearance that allows him to blend into any role. Dagg has a rare and priceless gift — the ability to flawlessly play any role in any genre without ever appearing out of place.

 

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Sean Penn (left), Robert De Niro (center) and Cory Dagg (right) in “We’re No Angels”

 

Dagg’s career began – and nearly ended – when he was cast in the 1989 comedy “We’re No Angels,” starring Academy Award winners Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull,” “The Godfather Part II”) and Sean Penn (“Milk,” “Mystic River”). De Niro and Penn play two escaped convicts who impersonate a pair of priests in a bid to cross the border into Canada. With the law hot on their tails, the two are almost in the clear when they encounter a rather ineffective border guard (played by Dagg) whose dream is to become a famous writer.

Few if any actors can say their first big screen role involved a hilarious exchange between themselves and two already-legendary actors like Robert De Niro and Sean Penn. Though Dagg’s scene had audiences in stitches, it was in serious danger of being cut altogether. After 15 hours on set an exhausted Penn and De Niro approached the director, Academy Award winner Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”), and Dagg feared the worst. He found himself faced with a critical decision: say nothing and risk allowing his career-making scene to be cut, or speak up and risk angering De Niro, an acting legend whose intimidating persona is iconic.

“Imagine, if you will, telling Robert De Niro and Sean Penn that they’re making a mistake. But I knew remaining quiet could cost me a huge break. Gathering up my courage, I poked my nose where De Niro made it clear it didn’t belong,” Dagg said, recalling the fear he felt when he took that make-or-break gamble. “Finally, I walked off, certain I would be fired.”

The next morning, he received a foreboding phone call telling him that De Niro wanted to speak with him on set immediately. With a sinking pit in his stomach, Dagg reported in to learn the fate of his career and braced for the worst.

“…But when DeNiro put his arm around my shoulder and told me to get ready for shooting, I knew I’d made the right decision,” he said with an obvious sense of relief. “Two days later, De Niro and Penn approached me on set to say they had seen my scene in dailies the night before, and wanted to say what a great job I had done and that they really liked my work!”

With the recognition of two universally well-known Academy Award-winning actors, Dagg’s career blossomed. Following the success of “We’re No Angels,” he was soon cast in an episode of the iconic sci-fi series “The X-Files.” Starring David Duchovny (“Californication”) and Gillian Anderson (“The Fall”) as the inimitable Agents Mulder and Scully, “The X-Files” was considered a rite of passage for up-and-coming actors in ‘90s; Seth Green (“Austin Powers,” “Robot Chicken”), Lucy Liu (“Kill Bill,” “Charlie’s Angels”) and Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool,” “Van Wilder”) all had guest roles on the series before becoming household names.

Dagg’s role in the series was that of a mysterious bartender with an even more mysterious past in the episode “Travelers.” The episode is critical to the backstory of Agent Fox Mulder and reveals a dark secret involving his father’s work with the State Department.

“Since the episode is partially set in the 1950’s I had the chance to do a bit of period acting, which is really enjoyable for me. I like the challenge that comes with researching a role to make it more accurate, and I can actually get a little obsessive about it,” Dagg said about the role, which soon led to a flurry of interest from casting agents. “At this time I was booking a lot of white collar roles, so it was fun playing the shady guy who takes deals under the table.”

 

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Cory Dagg as General Michaelson in “The Andromeda Strain”

 

In 2008, Dagg was cast as General Michaelson in the epic four-part miniseries “The Andromeda Strain,” based on the novel by illustrious sci-fi pioneer Michael Crichton. Produced by four-time Academy Award-nominated director Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Gladiator”), the intense doomsday thriller was lauded with praise and nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, including for Outstanding Miniseries.

The series follows the efforts of scientists and by the military to stop the spread of a deadly and contagious microbe with extraterrestrial origins. Dagg’s character, General Michaelson, is the key military figure tasked with quarantining the infected town and ensuring the containment of the aggressive microorganism.

“I originally auditioned on tape for a smaller role, and sent the tape to the producers in Los Angeles,” said Dagg, recounting how he landed a lead role in a Ridley Scott production. “I got a call from my agent over three weeks later saying the producers and director loved my audition so much they were giving me the much bigger role of General Michaelson, and I ended up being in three of the four episodes! The director said later he was surprised I didn’t have military experience — that’s how convincing he thought I was.”

Cory Dagg, an industry veteran, has proven himself to be a phenomenally talented and multifaceted actor. Where others have fallen into the trap of playing “the bad guy,” “the good guy” or “the funny guy,” Dagg has expertly avoided the pitfall of typecasting. By proving his ability to play a limitless range of characters across every genre, he’s rightfully earned a reputation as an actor who can do it all. Such talent is rare in the industry today, so when an actor like Cory Dagg presents himself, casting agents are quick to take notice.