Category Archives: Celebrity

Actor Jolie Chi’s High Flying “Exorcism at 60,000 Feet”

Actor Jolie Chi’s infectious mixture of enthusiasm and playfulness may give the impression that she is all about laughs and frivolity but, in reality, Chi is a dedicated artist with a zealous commitment to refining and perfecting her craft. While still at the dawn of her career, the diminutive, charming Chi is quickly building impressive professional momentum and a burgeoning roster of credits.

The Taipei-born, Hollywood based Chi’s effortless ability to succeed as actor, model, dancer and on-the-spot improv comic reflect a comprehensive, impressively holistic approach to performing. Equally at home in a stage or competition setting (beating out thousands of international talents to place in IMTA’s Top 10 Female Young Actors of 2015) as she is working in film, video, comedy clubs and commercials, Chi has been a dynamic force since her arrival the United States when she was just 16.

 

“I grew up in Taiwan and China but I never really fit in, because I was always too outgoing for the culture,” Chi said. “I decided that I wanted to be an exchange student in America, so I went to Indiana—it felt like home. I realized how much I love America because I finally felt like I was accepted and loved. I decided to stay and finish my education.”

The teenager’s choice to pursue acting came about with a particularly poignant twist. “My parents had divorced when I was six,” Chi said. “Even though my mom always pretended to smile in front of me, I knew she was unhappy. Once when I was mimicking a character we’d seen on TV, she laughed—genuinely—for the first time in years. That’s when I realized how powerful acting was.”

From that bittersweet launch—the classic pathos/comedy paradox—Chi aggressively pursued success in film and television. Studying at the prestigious New York Academy of Film’s Southern California campus, she was soon working in TV commercials, short films and Los Angeles comedy clubs. Chi exhibits such irresistible dynamism and joie de vive that she graduated to high profile parts in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s 2018  dramedy “Destined to Ride,” starring Madeline Carroll, Denise Richards and Joey Lawrence, and landing the title role in the offbeat, award-winning comedy “My Lunatic Lucy.”

Chi’s memorable performance earned her numerous 2018 Best Actress awards win, from Top Indie Film Awards, Actors Awards, Independent Shorts Awards and the LA Shorts Awards, a hot streak of notoriety which led to her current project, another audacious indie feature, the wild horror-comedy “Exorcism at 60,000 Feet.” Forthcoming from idiosyncratic cult production company Girls & Corpses Presents, it’s about a stowaway demon wreaking havoc during a transatlantic passenger airliner’s final flight, and features American horror sci-fi stalwarts Adrienne Barbeau and Lance Henriksen alongside several of the top Hollywood-based Asian talents and Chi faced tough competition during the casting phase of production. Characteristically, she rose to the occasion with emphatic success

 

“My agent managed to get an audition for “Exorcism” and I was very excited since it stars Bai Ling and Matthew Moy, two of the most popular Asian actors in the States and because it is aimed for Netflix,” Chi said. “There were a lot of girls trying for the role and after they saw my headshot the producers wanted to turn me down. But my agent insisted that I get to read, so I went in and it was one of the best auditions I’ve ever had. I auditioned for three parts, and when they asked to improvise something for another important role, they were amazed because—without having seen the dialog—I actually spoke what was written in the script. They instantly wanted me to be in the film.”

That kind of spot-on instinct and skill is typical of the deeply talented actor, and she jumped into her part with both feet. “I was cast as Ms. Tang, a pregnant girl who is one of the main people on this airplane. She’s very spicy and just doesn’t care about anything but herself,” Chi said. “Honestly, it was quite a challenging role because I had to carry a 5 pound fake belly around with me for over 10 hours for 6 days straight. But it was also a really fun experience being able to play a pregnant lady which I’ve never done before. I was really nervous for my main scene, where I actually give birth. It was really difficult so I did my due diligence with a lot of research. I talked to friends, read up on pregnancy, watched videos of women giving birth, and all that helped a lot.”

Chi’s dedication to improving her artistry is a constant, innate pursuit and she is not one to squander any opportunity to do just that.

“It was amazing to be able to act with my idols Bai Ling and Matthew Moy,” Chi said. “They both gave me excellent advice about acting and this business. What was most interesting to me is that each of their suggestions was quite different. Matthew Moy said that studying acting and taking classes is important, because that’s what he did. But Bai Ling told me, since she didn’t to any acting school and learned on her own, that it’s important to just know your emotion—where it’s coming from— and once you know that, the rest will just flow. Either way, I loved getting their advice. So powerful.”

With her steadily ascending professional profile and reputation as a respected, formidable artist, Chi is a talent from whom the film industry will definitely be hearing a lot in the months and years ahead, a destiny which her positive attitude practically guarantees.

“My career aspiration is to make as many people laugh as possible,” Chi said. “I want to be able to make a difference in this world through my acting, to inspire the audience to smile, to reduce stress. Many people relax by watching films and I hope to help relieve their pain and make them happier.”

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From Mermaids to Mental Health, Actress Brie Kristiansen Does it All in TV, Film, and New Media

Article Written By: Ashley Bower

It’s not always easy to keep up with an industry that is constantly evolving, but when it comes to navigating the busy world of entertainment, working actress Brie Kristiansen is a pro.

“It all started with a musical in Iceland when I was a teenager,” stated Kristiansen, and right from the start, she was propelled into learning how to adapt to the unpredictable curves that life – and the film and television industry – are known for. “The musical was Bugsy Malone and hundreds of people auditioned. In the end, I was cast in the leading role of “Dandy Dan,” which was changed into a female role since they thought I fit very well for the villainous character. Funny story, at the dress rehearsal I fell down and broke my leg and had to do all of the remaining shows in a wheelchair. It actually turned out great in the end, as the wheelchair seemed to add almost another level of authority for this villain.” Ever since this debut, Kristiansen’s career has skyrocketed.

While Kristiansen has numerous projects that span film, television, and new media under her belt, she’s most known for her work on It Takes a Killer, Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?, Corrupt Crimes, and her latest role as a series regular on season two of Life as Mermaid.

With over 25 million views and more than 155k subscribers, it’s safe to say that the hit YouTube Series Life as a Mermaid has a passionately committed following. The story follows two mermaid sisters and their journey on land as they work their way around obstacles while adjusting to life with the humans. Kristiansen plays Astrid, a ruthless European villain with an icy demeanor, whose mission is to hunt down the mermaids with the intention of selling them for billions.

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Brie Kristiansen as “Astrid” in Life as a Mermaid

“From the start of when season two started airing, we received such fantastic reactions from people all over the world. We started getting asked for autographs and receiving fan mail which has all been an amazing experience. We truly have the best fans, and they are what made all the hard work worth it in the end,” Kristiansen reminisced.

Though Life as a Mermaid airs on YouTube, one of the entertainment industry’s newer media platforms to publish episodic content on, the production process was exactly the same as any other television show. The only difference: the website makes its content accessible to anyone anywhere in the world.

Starring opposite Kristiansen in the series is Marcella Di Pasquale, who is also credited as casting director and one of the producers of the show.

“Brie is the sweetest person, so it is so interesting to see her play such a brilliantly evil villain,” explained Di Pasquale. “To be able to switch into such a strong character within a matter of seconds just really goes to show Brie’s true talents and acting skills. She is also great at stage combat and I loved watching her film her fight scenes on the show. Brie is very charismatic and naturally talented, which makes her a great addition to any set, and us on the Life as a Mermaid team always love having her around.”

In addition to villainous roles, it’s apparent that Kristiansen has a gift for securing and excelling in roles that encompass very serious, emotional qualities, such as the roles she played in It Takes a Killer, Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?, and Corrupt Crimes. Elaborating on her love of playing and process of preparing for such kind of a role, Kristiansen explained, “I always think it’s really funny since I’m actually quite a goofy person, but I guess I look very serious. However, I love doing these roles, especially when there’s an added challenge or something I haven’t done before.” An example of such is Kristiansen’s work she did on Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?” where she plays the character of Ava, a teenager with schizophrenia.

Prior to being cast as Ava, Kristiansen wasn’t familiar with the mental disorder outside of what she had seen in other film and television shows. Therefore, it was a role that require extensive research – something which was already a very major component of Kristiansen’s character preparation process. “I try to get closer to my character’s mindset and who they are. I’m a total nerd when it comes to this and will dive into research for significant amounts of time until I feel that I have managed a full understanding of the character, and then I go into the next steps of my preparation,” Kristiansen said.  “With Ava, I did so much research, probably more than I’d ever done before. I thought it was vital for the authenticity of my character to absolutely dive into research. I went to libraries, read books, and even spoke to people with experience in the field.”

Currently, Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear? is being screened at multiple film festivals around the world.

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Brie Kristiansen as “Ava” in Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?

Coincidentally, on Kristiansen’s episode of Corrupt Crimes titled Vulture Feeder Fiend, the topic of schizophrenia arose yet again for the actress, though this time the character with the disorder was not her own. Taking place in California in the 1970’s, the storyline of the episode follows a schizophrenic serial killer named Herbert who murders a homeless man while in his altered state of mind. Kristiansen plays a hippie named Mary, who attempts to hitchhike her way to an event only to suffer a similar fate after she’s given a ride by Herbert himself.

Kristiansen not only loves the roles she’s been given the opportunity to play but is also passionate about the impact they make on her viewers, along with the awareness they bring to mental illness in film and television. “I’m a very open and honest person who comes from a very liberal society. The way I was raised is that if there’s a problem, you speak about it, and that you should never judge others for their feelings or behaviors because you don’t know what they’ve been through or are going through. Mental illness is a very serious issue, and the shame and stigma surrounding these issues need to stop. We need to be able to speak about our feelings, experiences, and illnesses openly in order to help or even fix them. There are so many tools one can learn from speaking to a professional, or by simply opening up to a friend. Love conquers all,” she said.

While some roles help to expand the knowledge and understanding of one’s mind, others do the same for the heart. This is the case for one of Kristiansen’s earlier television series: It Takes a Killer. “In my role as Charlotte, I played an emotionally unstable teenager who goes through a horrible tragedy,” Kristiansen discussed, revealing her journey of portraying the sixteen-year-old character left parentless after discovering her father murdered her mother.  “Charlotte is extremely vulnerable and has moments where she has emotional breakdowns. For me personally, this role was a great opportunity to showcase my talents with vulnerability and fully diving into the character. It was a great experience, and also helped me become more vulnerable and open as a person.”

There’s no question that Kristiansen’s vast experience and success as an actress has helped her grow not only as an artist within the film and television industry, but also as a person. There’s no doubt that this is something she’ll continue to do throughout her acting career in the years to come. Regarding this idea of both personal and career evolution, Kristiansen stated, “I’m incredibly lucky to be a working actress in different parts of the world, and on a variety of project types portraying completely diverse characters. Each time I take on a new role there’s something new I learn about people from the character I’m portraying. As a people person, this job will never become boring. The challenges, in drama, in comedy – all of it – just makes you really grow as an individual and you learn so much about yourself. I’m all about figuring out your dream and making it happen, and I find it to be one of the perks that I am able to grow both personally and professionally while living mine.”

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Brie Kristiansen walking the red carpet

For more information on Brie Kristiansen, please visit:

www.imdb.me/briekristiansen
https://www.briekristiansen.com/

IN BRAZIL & GREECE, MODEL-ROCKSTAR IS PRONOUNCED “TAPIGLIANI”

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During music award show season, it’s likely that you have seen constant advertisement declaring pairings of artist as “the performance of the century that you cannot miss!” While most of these never match the hype, one collaboration which has been an overwhelming success is fashion-meets-music. Most Americans are very familiar with the Victoria’s Secret special which features their fashion models and popular music artist; in Greece, a similar production is the famous Madwalk. Madwalk is the most popular show of its kind in Greece, combining famous singers and the work of well-known fashion designers. The show airs on television once per year and has done so since 2009. It’s a presentation of what is wonderful and beautiful in Greece, the centerpiece being the lovely models which adorn the creations during each performance. For model Alana Tapigliani it’s an opportunity to do what she is known for and celebrate Greece at the same time. Tapigliani appeared in 2012 presenting the Deux Hommes brand. Madwalk is more than an awards program for Greek citizens; it’s a national event and they take great pride in the artistry of their country. Even though Alana is known for her international modeling career, she admits that appearing on Madwalk had the result of her being stopped by the public to a much greater extent than ever before.

There’s a duality to the attention one receives from being involved in such a prestigious show as Madwalk. Alana’s excitement about appearing on the program was heightened by the exuberance of her friends and family. This is certainly meaningful on a personal scale but professionally, the fruit of this appearance made Tapigliani a very sought after model in Greece. While often admired, models don’t always receive the praise of other entertainment professionals; the praise Alana received from her appearance was a welcome exception to the common rule.

The Ace agency from Athens chose Tapigliani to work with designer Kostantinos Mélis for Madwalk. Mélis found his eponymous haute couture house in 1997 in Greece after a stint in London. Known for designing wedding gowns of exceptional aesthetics and quality, he then turned to a collection of haute couture gowns. His designs have been equally embraced by critics and the public, often donned by celebs on the red carpet.

Appearing as the only model representing the work of Melis was beneficial for any professional, a fact recognized by Alana. However, this was only half of the fun for her involvement in Madwalk. Each model is paired with a famous singer and Tapigliani made her appearance with Giorgios Mazonakis. The iconic Greek singer sang “Parole.” Being sung to by a music artist everyone knows while you are wearing dresses of incomparable beauty; it was no less than a magical moment for this model, but not one without concern. She reveals, “Of course I was very happy and excited to be there. In your mind you think that everything will be perfect and that’s what you want to portray for the audience. It’s their moment, not really your own. In truth, there were a million things going through my mind at the time. As a native of Brazil, the negative-four Celsius winter in Greece while wearing a dress was less than comforting. Towering high heels may look great, but the experience is equally uncomfortable. I wouldn’t trade it for anything but my pleasant expression during the appearance was not completely honest. At some point I was able to be lost in the moment.” For Alana, that moment was when the music took over. There’s an undeniable power to music which allows all people, models included, to don a powerful stance. Tapigliani exhibited this during Madwalk, capturing all eyes as she strutted around the catwalk. The music, the lights, the DJs, and of course the designs which Alana and her fellow performers wore created a spectacle which transfixed the audience.

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 Madwalk may be a Greek event but it is viewed widely across the world. Tapigliani received attention from even more designers and took part in events like this in other countries. She credits Madwalk with giving her both the exposure and confidence to relax and enjoy them. Because it was the first experience of the kind, she confirms, “Madwalk was my first time doing this kind of a show with singers, the stylists, and the like. You never forget the first time, especially doing a live show like this one for all of Greece. At the risk of sounding trite, the biggest reward was doing Madwalk itself. Big productions such as this one have not been around that long and they give an opportunity for a model to do something completely different. A live event is always more challenging; an internationally televised one is even more so. I love doing work like this where the designs and the music excite me. Madwalk was the beginning of a new era for me and it will always hold a special place in my heart because of the start it gave me.”

A PHOTO IS ONLY A GLIMPSE INTO THE DEPTH OF RANDI KENNEDY

Randi Kennedy is attractive…and a fitness enthusiast…and an extremely positive person. How is this possible when she two of the main facets of her life and career are social media and being a fitness model? That’s because much like the aforementioned aspects, Randi Kennedy is much deeper and more complex than a superficial viewing can ascertain. You have to spend time with Kennedy to understand what makes her tick. In contrast, her enthusiasm is evident within the first few seconds of speaking with her. All of these characteristics have led international companies such as 1UP Nutrition and Live Fit apparel to seek her out as an ambassador of brands. In this modern day society where it seems everyone wants to be famous by presenting commonplace as extraordinary, Randi has done the opposite by making her followers and fans believe that her extraordinary accomplishments are achievable by all…something which she wholeheartedly believes.

When posed with the query of how one gets to the same point of success and personal fulfillment that Randi has attained she communicates, “My best advice is to aim big and don’t settle, chase after those dreams. If you aim low, you are going to fall short of the bigger picture and what you truly want to accomplish. I believe you can truly accomplish everything and anything with hard work. Create a game plan for yourself. What do you want to accomplish? What do you need to do to get there? What would the first and second steps be? Take action and keep a clear vision. You’re not going to build your dream career overnight but it will take a lot longer if you give up. Don’t be afraid of hard work and don’t be afraid to take risks. Owning your own business is not easy but it’s worth it.”

Judging Kennedy by her big smile and her athletic physique will misinform you as to the astuteness and determination to have a benevolent effect on those around her, which is the true center of this self-made very modern day success story. As a health and fitness enthusiast herself, she noticed early on that there weren’t a large number of what she considered to be healthy supplements marketed towards women when she first started her journey, this has since changed. While her endorsement and use of such products from companies such as 1UP Nutrition shine a light on the visceral physicality of a woman, her work as one of the faces of Live Fit Apparel embrace the femininity of it. There’s a holistic approach to Kennedy’s personal life and her professional/public one. As with any relationship, Randi feels that both herself and the companies she works with must have a belief in each other. When a common goal appears, both sides benefit. Since it is a working partnership so of course both sides need to feel they are being taken care of for the relationship to work. When it comes to sponsorships in the clothing and supplement industry it typically goes something like this: The sponsor receives a brand affiliate and becomes associated with the influencers brand. They receive marketing which generates more brand awareness and sales. The influencer receives support from the sponsor in the forms of compensation in a monthly salary, commission on sales and can even go as far as support for competitions and further education in addition to marketing by the sponsor.

It’s one of the great dichotomies of the industry that the visual aspect of the exterior is so often displayed as proof of internal health. Sometimes these traits are congruent and sometimes they are not. Kennedy adamantly relates, “I think that it’s very easy to forget about your mental health/mental state when you’re caught up in looking a certain way. Often people are working so hard to improve their physique that they don’t realize how extreme they are being with training and nutrition, which can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and create body dysmorphia. This is something I preach about on my [social media] platforms. I always tell my clients: “Work to improve your mindset just as hard as you work to improve your physique.’ Many people seem to think that fitness is solely having shredded abs and being jacked all year round; little do we know that same person thinks that nothing is good enough, barely eats enough to fuel their body, their energy levels are low, they’re hair is falling out, hormones are out of whack and it’s all in order to look a certain way. Social media does not help with this but I’m happy to say that it is slowly changing, people are sharing a more realistic side of fitness and starting to accept that it is unmaintainable and unrealistic to look like that year round. Not all progress is physical! Fitness is more than a shredded physique.”

In the fitness world, one of the bench marks is having your photo taken by the celebrity photographer known as “King of Covers” Jason Ellis. The noted photographer has taken cover photos for more than five hundred magazines. With his work gracing the covers of magazines such as: Muscle and Fitness, Fitness RX, Oxygen, Iron Man, Men’s Health, Muscular Development, Train, and many others, Ellis is the gold standard of the industry. Jason worked with Randi two years in a row, shooting her at the IFBB Olympia in Las Vegas. He professes, “Randi is a young talent who both reflects the fitness aesthetics and lifestyle and is very astute in her comprehension of the modern industry. She is very marketable and understands how branding works in this new marketplace. Add to that, she is always a pleasure to work with. That positivity of hers is very authentic!”

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Part of the new model of branding and marketing is social media; it’s something which Kennedy has embraced deeply. There’s a duality to the modern approach. Meet & greets and magazine covers are still important to be noticed but social media means there is a necessity and a responsibility to stay connected to followers on a daily basis…no matter where they might be in the world. While she concedes that social media can have negative aspects, Randi also notes, “I enjoy social media in my professional life because it is an amazing way to market to your ideal demographic all over the globe. We literally have access to millions of people at our finger tips. Social media is a very powerful tool if you know how to use it. There is an account for almost every business these days. I enjoy social media in my personal life because I get to capture and share memories and moments that will last a life time. I get to share the experience I had a restaurant and say “hey, you should go here too!” I can share my travels and inspire others to get out there and explore the world. Through my photos they get to see something they might not have ever seen, and then I get to reflect back on it years down the road.” No matter where she might be and what the images she shares, Randi Kennedy will be encouraging and assisting those in her sphere to challenge and better themselves just as she had done.

www.randikennedy.com

Instagram: @randikennedy_

YouTube: Randi Kennedy

Facebook: Randi Kennedy

Challis and Cooke: Actors Talk Making ‘Memories’ and Movies

Sitting with Australian actors Alistair Cooke and Mia Challis, it’s easy to forget that we’re here to talk about work, such is the fun energy they both bring into a room. After quickly discussing how they like to spend their weekends however, an assistant director reminds the actors that they’re due on set in another 30 minutes. Both quickly start sharing details about the project that’s brought everyone to set this week. ‘Memories,’ a film produced by Lachlan Ward (who has most recently found success with the film ‘Quiche’, which won the Drama Award at the Deep Cut Film Festival in Canada) and helmed by acclaimed director Cassandra Lionetto-Civa, is a perfect example of a project that manages to assemble an accomplished cast, a distinguished creative team and a unique story.

Actors Alistair Challis and Mia Cooke
Actors Alistair Cooke and Mia Challis shot by David Attwell

Lead actor Alistair, who plays Tim, offers some insights into ‘Memories’ storyline. “Without giving too much away, the film is set in the not too distant future where accessing and viewing people’s memories has become a reality.” His co-lead Mia, who plays Charlotte, is equally discerning about revealing the plot completely, but did tell our editors that it’s a “sci-fi love story.”

Aside from what is clearly a fascinating blend of genres, ‘Memories’ also reflects how an accomplished cast can elevate a project’s esteem. Cooke, who made his debut in Ben C Lucas’ award-winning feature film ‘Wasted on the Young’ opposite ‘The Originals’ star Oliver Ackland, played the critical role of Young Hammers in the SBS mini-series ‘Deep Water’. It was in that series, which only aired just recently to high acclaim, where Alistair shared the screen with ‘Orange is the New Black’ Screen Actor’s Guild winner Yael Stone. He adds: “[w]atching that woman work was incredible and so inspiring.”

Of course, being the talented actor he is, Alistair is firmly grounded in the present and not focused too much on the past. He describes current co-star Mia as “something else. During the course of our first job together I soon discovered she was a natural talent, a true professional and a force to be reckoned with. We clicked immediately and I now consider her a great friend.” Mia, whose exotic looks seem to blend the innocence of Natalie Portman with the fierceness of Jennifer Lawrence, interrupts. “Working alongside Alistair was a pleasure; I learnt a lot from him and had the best time too. He’s very talented and we clicked straight away which was a bonus!” Mia elaborates that she originally recognised Alistair from his key role as Jake in the international hit series ‘The Horizon,’ which has garnered over 54 million views worldwide.

Although Mia may have been somewhat star-struck, she is an established actor in her own right, currently juggling three projects. Along with ‘Memories’, she is currently filming ‘Backstabbers’, directed by Lauren Mazzucato and ‘The Twincident’ directed by Blake Thomson, playing identical twins Claire and Evelyn in what will surely be a funny turn in her growing body of work. When asked who was crazy enough to represent her and her busy schedule, she laughs.

Alistair: “her manager actually is crazy!”

Mia: “in a good way!”

Alistair: “she’s exactly how you would imagine a Hollywood manager to be!”

Mia and Alistair’s chemistry is proven as the stars proclaim, “[w]e have the same American manager!” launching into a discussion about their different representatives around the world.

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Actress Mia Challis in ‘Memories’ (photo by: David Attwell)

Most importantly, both Alistair and Mia shed light on how actors’ own traits can inform character development. Mia tells us about Charlotte: “We actually have quite a lot in common; we both can be pretty awkward and really don’t have a clue how to flirt! She is a character that cares deeply for others, isn’t afraid to take chances and follows her heart.” Regarding Tim, Alistair explains that “Tim throws himself into everything he believes in and that’s a trait that really resonates with me. I’m a passionate guy and I can really relate to his way of thinking and drive in life.”

Actors Mia Cooke and Alistair Challis on set
Actors Mia Challis and Alistair Cooke on set of ‘Memories’ (photo by: David Attwell)

While ‘Memories’ might explore the challenging terrain of technology and the questions it raises about our society’s future, the film is nevertheless grounded in a very human story. It certainly would’ve helped that the actors were guided in their direction by celebrated filmmaker Cassandra Lionetto-Civa, who beat out an incredibly competitive field to win the open category at the Hip on Heritage Film Festival in Perth, Australia just last year. It’s therefore no surprise that ‘Memories’ is fielding countless distribution options to screen right around the world.

So what’s next for these screen stars?

Alistair tells us: “I am going straight into rehearsals for my next film. A black comedy that follows an unusual friendship between an armed robber and the man he is holding hostage.”

Mia explains that she can’t talk too much about her upcoming project, but she is allowed to share some funny details.“I’ve actually just started filming a new project where I play a character that is the polar opposite of Charlotte. She is a high school student who is the leader of a group of girls who murder some of their classmates with stilettos!”

Whatever is coming up for them filming wise, audiences can rest assured that ‘Memories’ will live up to its hype and challenge us all about love and the future of technology.

 

Model Francois Angoston travels the world doing what he loves

Francois Angoston has always had one dream. It never was what he would do when he grew up or who he would be with, it was where. He wanted to travel. The Guadelopian native spent his childhood dreaming of seeing the world, and eventually he realized the best way he could live his dream and work hard: modeling. Since that time, he has never looked back, and now is an leader in the industry.

Throughout his esteemed career, Angoston has represented some of the world’s largest stores and brands. He has worked with the world-famous department stores JC Penney and Macy’s, as well as Belk, Bon-Ton, and brands like Pendleton, SanMar, Bonobos and IZOD.

“As a model, it’s a lot about being flexible and ready, to fulfill the client’s wishes and expectations when it comes to how they want you to highlight their clothes. The best way to promote a product is when you can relate to it. I love what I do,” said Angoston.

Angoston’s charisma comes through every photograph he takes, and he has contributed to the success of many campaigns. While working with the iconic shoe company Skechers, Angoston showed what he can do to the world, allowing all to see why he is considered one of the best.

“It’s always been a great experience working with Skechers. When I began to work for them, I met the director and I have to tell you, that she was quite a bit intimidating at first. She even got me a little bit shy,” said Angoston, laughing. “She is a fire ball of energy and she never stops. But you know, when you get to know her way of working through observing, you see that strong, ambitious and big-hearted woman with other eyes. She knows what she wants and there is no way around, but she would always make sure that everyone is happy in the end. I really admire her for being so tough and ambitious.”

Angoston represented Skechers through many different mediums, including television Commercials, print campaigns, catalogues, billboards, and in-store advertisements. He held the leading role of sole model for a print ad campaign the company ran in 2015. He could be seen across the country showing off the Relaxed Fit Footwear collection.

“I liked the fact that working with Skechers offered me a lot of exposure in different sources such as magazines, billboards, TV commercial, catalogs and so on.  On set, I worked with a lot of interesting people,” said Angoston.

One of those people was Lindsey Clarke, Vice President of Creative and Advertising at Skechers. Clarke believes Angoston’s talent is one-of-a-kind. She says he has the unique ability to look totally natural and at ease while consciously modeling, a skill that is not easily found. After his first shoot, Clarke was so impressed with Angoston that she invited him back for the 2016 and 2017 campaigns, as well as the television campaigns after seeing the success of the print ads.

“Having worked closely with Francois, I can attest to how commercially invaluable he is. His dashing good looks and extraordinary modelling abilities have established him as a highly sought-after model who brings immediate prestige to any publication, brand, or production he models for. Francois’ stature in the fashion and modeling industries is monumental,” said Clarke. “Though Francois undoubtedly looks exceptional no matter what he is wearing, he is able to combine his professional-looking clothing with the Skechers in such a way that the images emit a strong sense of poise and sureness that few models could pull off.”

This unique talent transcends to all of Angoston’s work. While working in London with the brand Express Gifts, Angoston was able to show a different audience what he is capable of. Express Gifts had seen Angoston before, and knew they wanted him to represent their brand. After meeting him, they were immediately convinced, and he has been working with them for years now.

“I worked a lot already for this client and we are always having a good time. Working with Express Gifts is easy for me, as I exactly know what the client expect from me on how I represent their brand. I shoot E-Commerce content and TV commercials with them. The TV commercials are always a lot of fun. Also I became their ‘Polo Guy‘. They love to shoot Polo Shirts on me, from Superdry to Ralph Lauren,” said Angoston.

Express Gifts is a company based out of the United Kingdom. They have many different brands, ranging from clothing, to greeting cards, gifts, and home and garden items. They are an extremely popular personal shopping service. But most importantly, working with Express Gifts once again gives Angoston that chance to live out his dream.

“At the shootings for Express Gifts, the team is always super nice and we’re always having a great time and good laughs. I get to travel all over Europe. Sometimes I really miss Europe, and especially the food there,” he concluded.

BRIAR NOLET HAS TAKEN “THE NEXT STEP”

While the entertainment industry is for the most part based around youth, it’s rare that we see someone truly grow up on camera. Ron Howard, Drew Barrymore, and a select few have come into their own and lasted in the business. In what would appear to be the most recent individual to fill this template is Canadian Briar Nolet. An artist of impressive dance and acting skills, Nolet appears on Temple Street Productions “The Next Step” about a group of young dancers. The Canadian program is equal parts astounding dance and a (fictionalized) depiction of the lives of the characters. As the youngest cast member of this program, Briar began as a member of J Troupe (the in-training group) but was so skilled that she was quickly was moved up to A Troupe and cast on the show. Throughout the several seasons of “The Next Step”, fans from across the globe have seen Briar grow from a young girl into a woman, mirroring the evolution of her acting and dance abilities. As a fan favorite, Nolet has traversed the planet with the live performances that “The Next Step” has toured with including; the UK, Australia, Europe, Canada, and many other destinations.

“The Next Step” has won many awards (Canadian Cinema Editors Award, BAFTRA, Canadian Screen Award, etc.) and received numerous nominations, but that’s not what made the show an international success. Fans from different cultures connected with the young cast members, the stories, and their struggles to pursue their dream. Frank Van Keekan (Creator of “The Next Step”) confirms that Briar was a focal point of this reaction and the show’s success. He states, “Briar Nolet burst onto the scene of The Next Step as a member of J-Troupe. J-Troupe was the junior troupe in the dance studio. We specifically designed J-Troupe to be a training ground for new actors, getting them ready to move into A-Troupe once they were old enough and if they showed enough talent. Briar was one of the few actors that made it through the ‘system’. Her dancing and acro abilities were unparalleled. We were continually gob-smacked by her performances. After a couple of seasons, we quickly had plans to grow her into one of the main cast members. As soon as she arrived there, Briar excelled, becoming one of the show’s regular cast members. During that time, and with very little effort, she grew a massive fan base and quickly became one of the stars of The Next Step. She has gone on the live tours which travel the world over. Briar is easily one of the show’s most beloved cast members and one of the show’s most in-demand characters. It’s been amazing to see how she has gone from a young J-Troupe member, to being one of the show’s stars. It’s all due to her amazing work ethic, her immense talent, and her star quality.”

Briar’s role on “The Next Step” is Richelle, a feisty and talented dancer who is singularly focused to become the greatest dancer she can. Possessing more attitude than friends, she exemplifies determination. Nolet describes, “Playing Richelle on The Next Step, really grew my skills as an actress. I have similar characteristics to Richelle; however, she does have an edge that I don’t really share with her. In saying this, it’s fun to experiment and portray emotions that are different than how I [as Briar] would react to certain things.” It is notable that one of the reasons Richelle has become such a favorite to fans of the show is for this unique personality. Richelle doesn’t fit the mold of the status quo, which many of the show’s admirers appreciate in both the character and Briar’s portrayal.

Something that Nolet does share with her character is the sacrifices which a dancer must make to pursue this passion. The life of a dancer, whether real or fictional, is one of giving up time with family and friends to hone your craft. The same cause and effect applied to Briar’s work as an actress. Richelle was perhaps communicated so well by this actress because she could completely empathize with the character.

The immense talent of Briar’s dance abilities is well documented and displayed on “The Next Step.” Pushing the limits of where dance stops and acrobatics begin, her performances on screen were often unbelievable. Briar is more than amused to share as she states, “I would say something that sets me apart from everybody else is that I have no fear. As a dancer, I will always take risks and try different things that sometimes nobody could even think was possible. It’s a shock to everyone that such a little body can do that. I also have a crazy amount of energy and determination and I think that helps separate me from other people. I am one to of course be safe but at the same time just go for things. Sometimes I honestly throw my body somewhere and hope that I find my feet. Ha. A lot of my tricks that not many people can do come from just trying the impossible. These are moves I have been doing for a long time and am very comfortable with, to the point that sometimes I don’t even have to think about it. The difficulty level is the same no matter where I do them. Obviously, on camera they can edit if I mess up a trick they can make it look like I didn’t but,  on stage you can’t do that so you’ve just gotta go for it. I get super pumped up and excited when I am doing these things, I absolutely love it.”

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Briar’s fans will be happy to know that the upcoming season of “The Next Step” shows Nolet (as Richelle) to be one of most focused upon leads for the new storyline. As Briar Nolet’s star continues to rise, admirers of her acting and dancing can be certain that this talented young woman will be pushing herself to the surprise of all who watch.

DAHOV AND JEREMIH BRING MUSIC FANS TOGETHER

 

The Arts are often the key to a universal experience and language among all people of the planet. While the accent of different paintings, cinema, and music may reveal their point of origin, the ability of these mediums to convey emotion and a connection with others is often beyond the words and language they might contain. It has often been said that the work of an artist is that of bringing all peoples together by conveying the emotions we all share, regardless of our background. As technology brings the world closer, the assimilation of different cultures and their artistic contributions is clearly evident and results in a decrease of noticing the differences and an increase in the appreciation of what these differences offer to the collective global experience. The Canadian percussionist/drummer/entertainer knowns simply as Dahov performed at a concert with American artist Jeremih (Jeremih Felton) exciting the crowd at the Olympia Theatre in Montreal. Jeremih is a Chicago native whose multiple high charting hits like “Birthday Sex” and “All About You” broke into the top five on the Billboard charts. His legions of fans are based in the R&B/Hip Hop world while Dahov is a solo artist known for House, EDM, and various other musical forms with which he infuses Latin and Middle Eastern rhythmic ideas. While both artists share a love of percussion from their early teens, each of them has cultivated and evolved into their own style and brand of musical entertainment. Their performance together at the Olympia Theater shows how these artists brought their fan bases together for a night of thrilling entertainment, proving that we can appreciate the differences we have while recognizing a common thread.

For his appearance in Montreal, Jeremih and his management were seeking out a Canadian artist who would both be familiar to the crowd as well as be exciting enough to create a feverish tone for the concert. Patrick Farah (owner of Sky Entertainz) was consulted and he immediately suggested Dahov. Patrick and Dahov have worked together on numerous large scale entertainment events in Canada. Farah declares, “Dahov’s unique style and looks are definitely a selling point. With such passion in what he does, he sets the bar at a complete different level from others in this business! He is also such a wonderful person and he reflects his personality in his work ethic. He is the type of musician and entertainer who creates a special bond with his audience. Rather than setting himself above the audience, Dahov has an amazing ability to pull everyone in and making them feel as if they are in an intimate party, relaxed and able to have fun.”

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(Photo courtesy of Ara Sassounian)

This event featuring Jeremih and Dahov is a template for how different artists can create an experience for an audience that is eclectic and yet relative. While Jeremih is a singer/rapper, Dahov is a percussionist who does not sing. Both artists perform with DJ’s and/or tracks and, at least in this situation, both had dancers joining them onstage. Very similar production styles but very different content. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Dahov’s ability is that he is able to entertain the audience by playing a hand percussion instrument know as a Darbuka. This middle eastern “goblet drum” is the core and essence of his one-man band (supplemented by tracks). It is truly amazing to see how this talented artist can drive a crowd (in this case, the 700-member audience that packed out the Olympia) to a literal feverish pitch. His technique and musicality is mesmerizing while his ability to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand and create the excitement equal to any outdoor EDM festival is…well, jaw dropping. The synergy between the artists’ performance was a great success but was not necessarily intuitive. At a meeting prior to the performance that night, Jeremih and Dahov discussed how to approach the differences in their musical styles in order to insure a cohesive quality for the crowd. While much of Jermih’s music is more relaxed in tempo (sometimes even romantic), Dahov is known for his upbeat party vibe style. Dahov explains his approach to manifesting the appropriate vibe for the evening, “We wanted to do something different than the usual upbeat show, so I used Arabic oriental techniques. This style usually calls for you to play for belly dancers and, even though there are faster beats, we performed the slower beats using the derbake percussion because it allows for very intricate and interesting rhythmic ideas. It was a perfect match to afterwards fade with Jeremih’s first song.” Dahov readily admits that, just as the crowd was exposed to different musical influences at this performance, the percussionist/entertainer himself also gained an even greater appreciation for his fellow entertainer. He notes, “Jeremih is truly an amazing talent. It’s always educational for me to see how another artist relates to the crowd, how they design the rhythm of their show, and how the crowd reacts to what they do. Anyone who has seen Jeremih perform has seen the evidence first hand of how great he is. I knew his music but seeing him live gives me a deeper understanding of his talent. I like Hip Hop and Rap but I am more into a club house, EDM, Latin kind of music. I love the feel of the beat, the melodies, especially when I perform to these kinds of music it feels like I am actually inside the music…producing it! I like Bachata, in particular Romeo Santos. Bachata is such a relaxing type of music. I enjoy listening to it whenever and wherever. It makes me feel like I’m somewhere down south sitting on the beach and watching the ocean! Another type of Latin music that I like is reggaetón. Reggaetón is all about the party; the positive mood and tropical paradise! EDM and house artists like Calvin Harris and Tiesto are my favorites. I have seen them both perform in Las Vegas and their music is on another level! Their collaborations with other artists are perfect! The melodies and sound samples they integrate enter your ears and gets your emotions jumping. I’m hoping to come to the US and pursue my own version of the path that these artists have forged. I have proven to myself and the people of Canada that a drummer can perform by himself and command the attention of sold out crowds. Performing and communicating with American artists like Jeremih has only made my desire to become a part of the great American music and entertainment industry even more attractive…and seem more possible.”

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Shu Zhang is first ever Chinese makeup artist to work on NBA players

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Shu Zhang with DeAndre Jordan

As a makeup artist, Shu Zhang has done it all. Her time both working and volunteering around the globe doing what she does has earned her a reputation as one of the best, and that is why she works with the best. From doing the makeup for actresses attending the Academy Awards, to perfecting the image of some of the world’s best athletes, Shu has had international success.

While working with the Chinese media company Tencent, Shu had the chance to work with not only her idols, but those of her native country. The NBA has been loved and followed by generations of fans in China, and Shu was the first ever Chinese makeup artist to do the makeup for their players. Tencent had recently began the NBA network exclusive copyright for 5 years. The Tencent NBA official Propaganda “Not Just Competition” in the Chinese market turned out successfully, so Shu thought to herself “I would like to volunteer to be involved in this.”

“Being the first Chinese makeup artist to do makeup on NBA players is an honor that Shu deserves. She is great at time control and adaptable under pressure,” said Jackie C. Lin, who was working with the NBA Official Propaganda as a producer at the time.

While working on the ad campaign for the NBA, Shu had the opportunity to do the makeup for all-star players Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. The players, with Shu’s makeup, were featured in various shots shooting baskets, dunking, and standing still, to promote the NBA.

“I feel easygoing and confident while doing makeup for celebrities, but male makeup could be tough. My application style is to guide the actor while coordinating the best makeup in a short time, before they lose patience and get less of a chance to bothered by the makeup,” Shu described.

Doing the makeup for each of the players was a very different technical experience for Shu. Chris Paul had a more sensitive skin type. To overcome any issue that would come up from this, Shu prepared medical level cosmetics and used a cotton pad. She applied a layer of anti-sensitive isolation cream before doing his makeup, and then evened out his skin tone safely and easily.

“Everything I put on the players had to be extra safe makeup, because on sport players, you have to prevent from any allergies or any other interferences that can impact their upcoming NBA game,” she said.

While working on Blake Griffin, whose skin was slightly drier, Shu knew to apply lots of toner before starting his makeup process. She then applied skin care products to hydrate, and gave him a more matte looking appearance with his wheat skin tone. She shaped his face using darker foundation, and then used light translucent powder to finish it.

While doing DeAndre Jordan, she felt extremely at ease despite his reputation as one of the best basketball players out there. She has lots of experience doing makeup for darker skin colors, which gave her the confidence to smoothly finish his makeup.

“They are not only amazing sport players but also have extremely professional work ethic,” said Shu. “DeAndre Jordan has an energetic and humorous personality, making him very easy to work with. For one shot, the production only had three chances to shoot his movement of a dunk, and aim to shoot and find facial expressions. This was a big challenge that Jordan seemed to do flawlessly, by being professional but also acting before the camera to achieve advertisement effects.”

As a makeup artist, she had to constantly work between shots to ensure the player’s real sweat did not ruin their makeup, and the fake sweat stayed on their face. There was also a time crunch on the shoot, as they were doing it in the LA Clippers Training Center. This was no problem for the makeup artist, as working with time constraints was nothing new to her.

“I kept a high efficiency in my work, doing everything I could to save time. Already being skilled in high speed makeup application, it helped me solve the problem of lacking time,” said Shu.

Her speed and talent thoroughly impressed all those she worked with, including Lin Wang, who was working with Shu on the NBA Official Propaganda shoot was the head of the art department.

“Shu is sufficient while working in high speed and still producing quality makeup application. She has an awareness for detailing, and knew to use highly safe makeup cosmetics on the professional athletes for this shoot, which is important to protect them from getting any skin irritations that could impact their game,” said Wang.

Shu’s bilingual background and flexible working style was invaluable to the process of working with both the NBA and Tencent. She values the diversified environment of working with both Western and Chinese teams. But it what truly made the experience was working with athletes, a new experience for her.

“NBA all-stars had been followed and loved by generations of Chinese fans, especially ones like Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin who are unreachable to them. I’m honored to be the first Chinese makeup artist for NBA players. It’s a great opportunity to get involved in,” she concluded.

GREENWOOD ISN’T AFRAID OF THE ANTI-SEQUEL

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There is a quote that is attributed to many fine actors that states, “Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult.” It has been repeated by Academy Award winners like Gregory Peck and Jack Lemmon (most consider Edmund Kean to be the originator) and speaks to the fact that making something seem spontaneous and light hearted takes a fair bit more convincing than a dire situation. There’s also a fairly common belief that the film industry takes itself too seriously and rejects mockery. This is a notion to which Canadian writer/producer/actor Troy Greenwood does not subscribe. As a part of the FAFC (Film Actors Fight Club), Greenwood helped create the award winning film Diamond Planet. With a very self-deprecating approach, Diamond Planet poked fun at filmmakers, the film industry, and even film students. In this production, fools abounded while intelligence was scarce. The film was so popular that Troy decided to write/produce and act in the sequel…a sequel which is in fact about a film that is not yet a film. As proof that filmmakers revel in self ridicule, Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon was embraced with greater enthusiasm than the original (winning at the Calgary Film Challenge and going on to screen at the Sun and Sand Film Festival in Mississippi). Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon is a testament to the fact that as long as creative individuals take themselves too seriously, there will be peers among them who remind us all how absurd they seem.

It has increasingly become commonplace for filmmakers to feed upon themselves, recycling films and themes from the past, sometimes even repeating the same current day premise but with different casts. While Diamond Planet shone a light on laughable concepts in modern film, Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon turns its gaze to the film industry’s lack of originality and ingenuity. It seems that the current M.O. is to go for a wide audience that assures box office rather than fosters new ideas and artists; at least for the most part. Greenwood had a clear idea for a sequel which immediately follows the action of the first film. In Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon, Ollie Swagger (the filmmaker from the original Diamond Planet) steals the idea for the “Diamond Planet” that was pitched in the first film. He’s going to try and sell the idea to a studio at the annual pitchtime event. Unfortunately for Ollie, when he was bragging about it the night before the meeting, his nemesis overheard him. The next day when they are seated together, Swagger starts into a pitch about “Diamond Planet”. In the film’s premise, the Diamond Planet will cross between the sun and the earth, magnifying the sun’s rays and burning the earth to a crisp. The government wants to send optometrists into space to change the curvature of the Diamond Planet rendering the rays harmless. However, Swagger’s nemesis jumps in, pitching his movie “Emerald Horizon” about a giant emerald planet and ophthalmologists in space. We, as the actual audience, see cuts back and forth between trailers for these films as they are pitched. Each trailer becomes more and more ridiculous until they’re basically turned into one complete parody of a movie; to which the studio’s representative responds “I like it, but how about a hamster!” The unseen wink with which Greenwood delivers the humor is obvious to all. One need not look too far into recent movie productions to see evidence of this scenario. Cutting to the core of the movie’s lesson, Troy notes, “Anything that tries too hard to purport itself is funny.”

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Due to the nature of “Diamond Planet” (the spoof movie) being a science fiction suspense thriller, the production value and the cast for this sequel necessitated a sizable increase from the original Diamond Planet. Because the original was so successful, it helped to propel much of the original cast and crew into busier careers and thus some key players proved unavailable for this sequel. Luckily the popularity of Diamond Planet attracted the interest and involvement of a large number of respected Canadian actors (both films are Canadian productions). This included noted theater and film actor Stuart Bentley. Greenwood’s prowess at a multitude of production roles, in addition to the script is what enticed Bentley to join the cast of Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon. He comments, “Over the years, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Troy Greenwood on stage and in film. In a production of Inherit the Wind Troy gave a masterfully understated and relatable performance of the accused schoolteacher, Bertram Cates. Troy effortlessly navigated this difficult character, drawing in audiences and critical approval. I had the opportunity to act in Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon which Troy wrote, directed, and starred in. Troy had written a wonderfully funny script, and easily navigated the tricky job of acting and directing in his own production. He took great care of his cast and crew, and kept the production flowing on time, while being careful to ensure that every needed master and coverage shot was captured to realize his artistic vision. Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon was a great success with judges and audiences and continues to be one of my favorite film projects of the past several years.” In addition to Bentley, the considerably larger cast included notables such as Jesse Collin (Fargo), Helen Young, and many others. Troy remarks, “Stuart, Louie, and Helen were all a breeze to work with. Stuart’s presence as the president had a great gravitas to it.  He really milked the moments of humour in the script, nailing the timing of lines to keep the pacing moving as the film progressed. Helen was also wonderful to work with. I had an interesting shot envisioned where the camera rotates around her before landing on the president; she was a trooper repeating the sequence a number of times while we worked out the technical kinks with the camera movement.”

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Another positive aspect of any sequel is that the success of the initial production allows for a higher production value in the second installment. The aforementioned larger cast and a greater array of interesting locations (including the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, and the Springbank Airport Flying Club), were augmented by state of the art VFX. Greenwood relates, “I invested money to buy specific models we needed through a 3D modelling page.  Specifically, I got two distinct space ships for the two different versions of the trailer within the film, and planet models for the solar system, and then a diamond model so that my VFX artist could place them into the editor and articulate them to create the sequences you see in the film.” In fact, Troy concedes that he had to make sure the graphics were not too professional, in order to add to the humor of the trailers and the actual film itself.

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Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon represents a blind spot in the film industry. While a considerable number of studios and filmmakers steer towards repeating proven ideas rather than creating new ones, Troy Greenwood has found a way to turn that concept around and use it against the very premise it represents…and still be wildly entertaining. Greenwood refers to comedy as a unique beast, remarking that you can plan all you want but often what is required is to just sit back and watch. Be careful filmmakers, you are being watched.

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