Category Archives: Filmmakers

Alice Esposito reminds us it’s never too late to change your mark on the world

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Poster for Alice Esposito’s work with Vincenzo Castella

In today’s day in age, it is nearly impossible to envision a world without photography. Picture yourself walking down the street toward the supermarket, only imagine a lack of billboards, advertisements in store windows, and posters on the walls. What would magazines look like? Or film and CD covers? How would we capture perfect moments in time? Photography is a universal language, spoken and understood by people from all different walks of life. It speaks to our eyes, but more deeply, to our souls. It is an undying profession and as technology advances, we are increasingly able to see the world through millions of different lenses. It is an exciting time to be a photographer and for artists like Alice Esposito, it only heightens a passion that has been embedded within her from the time she was a child. For Esposito, photography is both a skill and a hobby, but above all else, it is a job that she has enjoyed building into a career.

“For the kind of photography that I do, it is essential for me to travel, to meet new people, and to learn new cultures. It is something that I truly love to do and the way photography connects me with people all over the world is something rare and beautiful. The potential to tell stories in countless different ways is magical,” tells Esposito.

Esposito has differentiated herself from her competition by more than just sheer talent. She has developed a way to combine her photography skillset with her interest in filmmaking in such a way that gives her a unique edge and understanding of her industry. Her filmmaking skills have earned her several prestigious jobs across the world. For instance, Esposito worked as a photographer and videographer from 2009 to 2011 in Italy and was tasked with filming for multiple different events, conferences and Exhibit Shows. Later on in 2011, she landed herself a job as Vincenzo Castella’s photographer and personal assistant, where she experimented with different cameras and set ups to bring Castella’s photography to a different level. Whenever she was tasked with one of his projects, Esposito would heavily research the concepts, study any and all appropriate mediums, and determine how best to showcase his visions. She is a trusted talent and has an unprecedented ability to capture the ideas of her clients or employers flawlessly.

In 2011, following a conversation with a colleague, Esposito was inspired to tell her own, original, compelling story to the world via stop motion animation. She was excited about the opportunity to explore stop motion animation, as it was the first time she had worked with it. The video short that she created, called Thend, tells the story of a man who occupies a city but consequently becomes occupied by it. The story presents the idea that human beings often forget that when they invade the earth like a virus, they eventually find that the earth, or in this case, the city, ends up infecting and assailing man. Essentially, the story is a reminder for people everywhere to be mindful of the consequences of destroying the earth out of personal interest. Esposito and her team aimed to remind people to think about the repercussions of their actions and to be careful where they step, what they do, and ultimately, of the legacy they will leave behind.

For Esposito, the joy of creating Thend, in collaboration with Carlotta Roda, was based on the ability to both explore her storytelling abilities, as well as to dive deeper into the art form that she lives and breathes for. She took a lead role on the production, leaving herself in charge of the visual style that was to be achieved, the choice of equipment, the set locations, and more. Her natural affinity for photography and videography allowed her to see the project from a unique angle and to bring it the level of quality that the premise and script demanded. In the end, Esposito could have never anticipated the wide-range success that the short would receive. Upon releasing Thend, it was selected for a special screening event called Cronachedi Fotogradia in Verona. It was subsequently screened on the show VideoSoup at Artist’s Television Access in San Francisco in 2011 and was later shown at SiFest 2014 Urban Space Garden.

“The success of the film came as a surprise at first. It started out as something that was supposed to be a fun way to collaborate with other colleagues. When it became a success, I was honored. I loved seeing the way it was received and knowing that I took a risk in showing something new and different but that it paid off big time. It made people think and I enjoyed answering questions about the process of creating it. It was humbling to hear their thoughts and interpretations as well,” says Esposito.

For Esposito, creating Thend presented a series of unforeseen challenges that she is fortunate to have encountered. Every set back and obstacle allowed her to build and refine her skill set and provided her with a series of opportunities to learn new things about her artistry. The reality of working with stop motion is that it is precise and any minor mistake can create a large impact on the final result. The project required a very diligent, detail oriented artist like Esposito and the final result of Thend was a reminder that all of the hard work, time, and dedication that she put into its final production was more than worth it.

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Alice Esposito and Stella Tinucci on set, photo by Nilangana Banerjee

Today, Esposito continues to use her exceptional skills to show the world how powerful photography and videography truly are. She is currently working on creating her own, independent production company and with that, she has some short films moving their way through the editing process. In addition, alongside Director and Producer, Stella Tinucci, Esposito is collaborating on a television pilot called Surreal Estates. The show has been successfully crowdfunded and Tinucci attributes a large part of this success to Esposito’s prowess as a filmmaker.

“Alice’s efficiency, combined with her warmth, add to her talents and knowledge of her craft. She has a very keen eye and she cares about details. This attention to detail, coupled with her professionalism, make her a pleasure to work with. She is also a strong communicator, which is key in this industry. She will do great things,” concludes Tinucci.

Watch Esposito’s astounding work in Thend here.

Top photo by Claudia Caldara

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AWARD-WINNING CINEMATOGRAPHER DEPICTS A WAR TORN FAMILY IN “LAST CALL”

Cinematographer Ruixi Gao can’t help herself sometimes, she is overwhelmed with ideas. This is the blessing and the curse of possessing a creative personality. It’s incredibly difficult to make a film so when you do, you want someone talented and driven like Ruixi to be among those enabling you to manifest your vision. This was the mindset of Zhipeng Xing, director of “Last Call” when he approached Gao to be the DP for this film. After receiving the script from Xing, Ruixi recalls, “I sat down and read it immediately. I think it is instinctual for many cinematographers, it most certainly is for me. I could see the scenes inside my mind as I read. The whole picture played out for me. I understood the lighting & the perspective of the camera in relation to the action. It’s exciting when you read a script for the first time and the film is playing in your head; I wish the audience could see it so quickly. That’s part of what motivates me as a DP; I see this wonderful movie and the desire is to bring that to life for others to witness.” Besides her obvious passion, Ruixi brings years of experience and talent to every production she is on. An emotional film like “Last Call” requires every bit of her sensitivity and expertise.

The relationship between Director and DP is commonly accepted as one of the closest working relationships in film. Each director has their own process and the cinematographer must be flexible to this to help said director achieve their vision for the story being told. “Last Call” director Zhipeng Xing prefers to focus on the actors instead of fixating on the framing of the scene in the lens. Rather than a shirking of responsibility, this was a result of Xing’s trust in Gao’s abilities and talent. This allowed Ruixi to communicate extensively with her team. Working with her Gaffer and Key Grip to establish the lighting plan, and framing with the PD, the effort was highly collaborative. Her plan used soft filters for imaging effects and a low-key style with warm and cool tones to control different emotions between war and home.

This story depicts war and its effect on family. The father and son are separated from the mother (& wife) who is still in war torn Iraq. They communicate via letters and a weekly Facetime. After one of the weekly family Facetime talks, the father is speaking with the mother after their son has gone to bed. Disturbing noises are heard and the signal is lost. A week goes by with no word from the family’s beloved wife/mother and they fear the worst. Unable to sleep from worry, on the morning of the son’s birthday, the husband hears a knock at the door. It could be the mother or a government official to announce her unfortunate death. The filmmakers do not reveal the answer, leaving it up to the viewer to decide what they think happened. The purpose of telling this tale is not to resolve it either way but rather for the viewer to contemplate the effect of war on real people with families. In the last scene, prior to the knock, the father receives a letter from his wife in which she states that she won’t make it to see them for their son’s birthday.  When the father reads this letter it’s impossible to not feel the pain of being separated by these circumstances. War is cruel, it makes people ache; it’s also what makes this film work and have such impact.

Ruixi was awarded two best cinematography award for this film: Best Cinematography Platinum Award WINNER at the LA Shorts Awards & Best Cinematography Gold Award WINNER at the NYC Indie Film Awards (the film also received multiple other awards at these festivals). Gao’s passionate disdain for war and its malevolent effect on people in many parts of the world moved her to dig deep in her abilities for “Last Call.” Edwin Beckenbach worked with Ruixi on the film and professes, “Ruixi brings with her the experience of an international woman to a domestic industry that has traditionally been dominated by men and is not known for inclusivity or diversity. Film as art is a powerful generator and amplifier of cultural values and perspectives and as such the addition of underrepresented voices, especially those as promising as Ruixi’s, can entertain as well contribute to the benefit of society overall. In an industry where many people place their image before their abilities and ‘fake it until they make it’, Ruixi is authentic to a fault and is singularly focused on the artistic and technical challenges of the job at hand. Her dedication to her craft and clarity of vision is a unifying motivator for the camera and lighting crew to perform to the best of its ability.”

For many viewers of the film the most heart-wrenching aspect of the story is the young boy’s difficulty in being separated from his mother. With the understanding that this character would have be both a catalyst and proxy for the audience, Gao took extra preparations including reading psychology books on working with young professionals and preparing props with stickers and colored tape to make them more enjoyable. Far from being the task of a normal DP, this type of approach in working with a young actor is indicative of Ruixi’s overall pattern of professionalism. By creating a positive and friendly atmosphere in a variety of ways she is able to get the best performance from everyone and thereby get the best shots with the camera, to say nothing of coming in ahead of schedule. While some prefer to stay in their “own world” Ruixi Gao feels that the images she wants to create allow us to see through the eyes and emotions of others, which is what “Last Call” is all about.

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Liya Shay tells tragic true story in acclaimed film ‘The 4th Person’

By the time a film is shown on a screen, it has been cut, edited, and perfected over a long, grueling period of time. In fact, oftentimes, films can take anywhere from several months to years in order for every element to come together. What audiences don’t typically see, however, is all of the hard work and dedication that goes into making a film the best that it can possibly be. For an actress like Liya Shay, she understands this all too well. For Shay, the biggest challenge that accompanies her career choice is remembering that her physical and mental health are of utmost importance. Her unwavering commitment to mastering every thought, emotion, and feeling of her characters makes this a difficult reality. After years of acting, however, she has developed various techniques and skills that allow her to separate herself from her characters, while still ensuring that when she is in front of the camera, she is everything her character needs to be and more.

Shay’s skill set is a testament to her dedication to the job that she loves most in this world. Her achievements are widespread and she has acted alongside strong directors, renowned production companies, well-known actors, and more. In 2016, she worked with Rouge Shakespeare Company at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. She has also played lead roles in two hit web series’, Vape Series and Drug. Beyond these roles, she has appeared in various commercials for major companies like Miller Lite and Echosworld Entertainment. One of her greatest achievements is perhaps for her role as “Sister” in the film The 4th Person. Her contributions to the film were absolutely instrumental to its success and it eventually went on to screen at the Pune Shorts Film Festival, Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival, and the Equality Festival Ukraine screenings.

When asked about the highlights of her career, Shay has a few; however, she considers her role as “Sister” in The 4th Person to be one of the most emotionally testing characters she has ever had to play. The 4th Person, which was directed by Indian director, Nonidh Yadav, depicts the true, devastating tale of a human who is forced by his mother to rape his sister in order to overcome his homosexuality. The story depicts his self-destructive journey toward redemption and his search for self-existence. For Shay, the decision to play the “Sister” was simple. She knew how important it is for society to understand that situations like this occur all over the world and it can’t continue. She delved deep into the role, researching about the effects of rape on an individual’s life, especially at a young age. This is nothing out of the ordinary for an actress with talent as unparalleled as Shay’s. She dedicates her entire self to every role she plays, and works tirelessly to ensure that she does her characters the justice that they deserve.

“When we were filming, The 4th Person was the only project I was working on and it was difficult not to get too overwhelmed while I researched the effects of rape and incest on women, especially young girls. Despite the fact that the information was emotional, I believed that the only way to truly understand how my character would’ve felt was to have all of that information and to be fully educated on those topics. I usually conduct extensive research if I think it will help me get into my character. It definitely creates a bigger picture around the given circumstances,” said Shay.

Between her research and her raw acting abilities, Shay delivered a stellar performance for the film. Her depiction of the “Sister” helped instill a sense of realism for the audience. Knowing that she was telling a true story made her all the more inclined to deliver an honest, authentic performance and to bring her audience on the haunting journey that the characters embarked on. As a director, Yadav could not have asked for a better actress to play her crucial, lead role. He credits much of the film’s success to Shay’s natural affinity for playing a dramatic role.

“Liya’s unique way of seeing her characters was the reason why this project came to life. She never judged any of the characters, instead she always wanted to discover and rationalize why someone would be behaving in the way they do. As a person, she is very passionate and caring, which was a key to her character as well. She created a character that was like a glue to the pieces of this story. She is an actress with a beautiful soul that translates into her performances. She is able to create characters that live and breathe through emotions that not every person will experience in their lives. She has a strong will, that doesn’t let her break as a person after filming scenes like the scene of rape between she and her brother,” told Yadav.

Shay’s success in her career is a direct result of her drive, passion, and sheer talent. She is not naïve when it comes to her career choice; she knows that the stakes are high and the competition is tough. She understands the reality that at times, it is not always the most stable source of income and that it is more competitive than most other fields of work. This reality, however, only pushes Shay harder. She loves the job she does and she intends to continue to do so for years to come. Fortunately, her accomplishments thus far in her career have painted her a strong background of work. There is no doubt that with talent as profound as Shay’s and a burning desire to do what she loves, she will continue to bring greatness to the entertainment industry in every role she sets out to do.

Cinematographer Andre Chesini talks viral music video ‘Oração’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Videographer Maria Aguado takes us back in time with Button Barcelona

Maria Aguado has always known she was meant to be a filmmaker. Since the age of seven, she wrote screenplays and made movies. At the time, just a small child in Barcelona, she filmed her dolls, editing the footage, unaware of what she was really doing. She grew up holding a camera, and to this day, nearly twenty years later, that remains true.

Aguado’s unique eye has greatly contributed to the success of many brands who seek her services. Just last year, the company Button Barcelona reached out to the videographer to make a promotional and informative video about the brand that would be played at a Button Barcelona event, as well as two other videos to be used to promote the brand on social media.

“I really liked the romanticism that creates Button Barcelona and I wanted to be a part of it. They emphasize how everything worked in the old times, enjoying every step with serenity and a slower rhythm. I was happy to express this through audio-visual,” said Aguado.

Button Barcelona is a company inspired by the way people used to live sixty years before the industrial revolution in a small village in Barcelona. They sell all type of products with one thing in common: bringing back the traditional methods of production and elaboration with hand-made products. As a videographer and editor, Aguado had to transmit this idea to the audience. She filmed and edited three videos for Button Barcelona. The first one was a series of interviews explaining the story of Button Barcelona. The second was the “making of” of the photo shoot. For the third video, she edited the previous two videos together, for the Button Barcelona event. All three were posted and used on social media as their marketing campaign.

“The shooting was really fun. We immediately became a good team from the start. The event was also amazing, my video was screened and we were all there, overwhelmed by the story the video shows and the whole experience,” Aguado described.

While shooting, Aguado filmed the models in different parts of the village doing antiquated activities, such as washing clothes in a bucket of water, going to an antique cinema, and sewing clothes. She truly shows really the audience how these people used to live, emphasizing the essence of the company.

“Button Barcelona is everything that defines us, differentiates us and reaffirms our personality. That’s why I decided to select every single piece that showed a narrative in order to create a story inside a fashion video,” said Aguado. “Through the shooting and the editing, I transformed models into characters. This is the nice and tricky thing about editing, with just one look, a movement, a step, you can create a story, a narrative structure. The tricky part is to know when you are cutting a video and why, it all has to end up making sense in order to touch the audience. Also, remembering all the material in order to be fluent and creative. The brand’s idea is the opposite of frenetic; it’s all about taking your time to produce with love. I showed this by carefully selecting pieces of music and mixing them together. The rhythm plays a very important part too, music and video have to dance together.”

The final video is eight minutes long. It begins documentary style, interviewing the various people at Button Barcelona, and explaining the story behind the company. The final five minutes feature the “making of” from the photoshoots. Aguado perfectly blends the shots to the music, editing the cuts to the exact beat of the song. It does not appear to be a promotional video, but instead an artistic music video, where the models are simply people enjoying their life rather than working. The result is outstanding.

“Maria was given full freedom to create both videos and the result was even better than what we had expected. She is a very hard worker with a positive attitude and creative mind! Her creativity and passion for what she does is what makes her so good at it,” said Candelaria Turrens, CEO and Founder of Button Barcelona.

The three videos were crucial in branding Button Barcelona. They explain the company’s idea, and introduce the world to the members of the brands Button distributes. Without Aguado, the event would not have been the success that it was, and the brand itself could not have achieved what it has today. She captured the company’s essence through the lens of her camera.

“It felt like we were teleported to another time; the times Button Barcelona tries to keep in our lives. The story was clearly shown to the audience, they could feel the essence of the brand and really enjoyed it. The video was repeated every half an hour, people kept asking to see it over and over again. It was amazing,” Aguado concluded. “I believe I showed the value of the simple way people used to live, the romanticism of the old times, enjoying every step with happiness, calm and serenity.”

Canadian actor Tim Hildebrand stars in Steampunk sensation ‘Steamwrecked’

TimHildebrand HeadshotTim Hildebrand says he was once taught that “the secret to truthful acting is to love your character, no matter who he is.” This versatile Canadian actor has stepped into many roles, always conveying sincerity with each performance, and this directly relates back to that mantra that has stayed with him throughout his formidable career. He loves every character he plays, and is committed to each and every performance.

“If I really care about the people I portray, I’ll identify with them, and understand why they do the things they do, at the heart level. I’ll care. I’ll want them to succeed, and so I’ll invest in getting them what they want through the methods that make sense to them, because of who they are, what they know, and what they’ve experienced,” he said.

Audiences will once again have the chance to see Hildebrand in the upcoming film Steamwrecked, set to be released later this year. The film, written by Rachel Hemsley, and directed by Christopher Matista, follows a “lightning harvester” zeppelin pilot named August Morlock, in a steampunk/sci-fi world. Crashing in a forbidden zone during an exceptionally bad storm, he and his lone surviving crewmember are forced to traverse a deadly desert, inhabited by wild creatures called “scavengers”, to bring their coveted cargo to safety.

“When I read the script, I was just intrigued. I’d never read anything like it. It was a Steampunk universe, which I wasn’t really into, but the universe Chris and Rachel came up with was so well thought out and plausible it actually grabbed me. The film is about beating the odds and surviving. It’s about unlikely alliances, learning to love someone you don’t think you can, and making sacrifices for one another. Ultimately, it’s about overcoming. It’s inspirational,” said Hildebrand.

Hildebrand plays August Morlock, a widower and a loner. He’s gruff, but a softie deep down. When his ship crashes in a storm, in the worst possible place, he finds himself stuck between his young, stubborn and injured female crewmember, and the local inhabitants tracking them to kill them. August has to try to get the girl and the canisters to safety.

The character of August Morlock is wonderfully layered. A life-and-death urgency underscores Hildebrand’s captivating portrayal, as he and his shipmate avoid their hunters. Hildebrand also utilizes Morlock’s background with wonderful restraint, his caution and world-weariness contrasting the stubbornness and passion of his protégé, Rowe Windsor (portrayed superbly by Sarah North). This, combined with unexpected moments of softness, create an interesting mystery to Morlock that only fully makes sense when revelations come to light late in the film. To carry the truth of that unspoken backstory throughout the film, so consistently and effectively, demonstrates a unique depth and maturity in Hildebrand’s acting.

“Because there was so much going on internally, this was a project where it felt appropriate to stay ‘in mood’, between takes: not exactly staying in character, but staying in the emotional space of the character. I don’t always do that, it’s case by case. But this project was right for that kind of focus,” Hildebrand described.

The actor worked closely with director Christopher Matista to develop the many layers of August and accurately portray his vision for the film. Matista was constantly impressed with Hildebrand, from the moment he auditioned to the last scene they filmed. Being the male lead actor, the film is dependent on Hildebrand, and according to the Director, he did not disappoint.

“Tim is an amazing actor to work with. On camera he is talented, creative and flexible. Between takes he has a great sense of humor to keep the mood light. When filming a stunt scene that involved four other stuntmen, Tim was very careful during rehearsal to communicate his actions, while also paying close attention to the stunt supervisor. During the actual filming, Tim continued this communication, and was able to deliver great results. Tim acting performance stood out even before he was cast, actually. He wasn’t able to make it to our first casting session and elected to instead submit a video audition. In my experience, actors who submit video auditions rarely make it to call backs. However, Tim stood out. In his audition, he used his teeth to tie off an imaginary bandage around his arm. This small action brought real life to his character and to that moment, and got him a spot in callbacks, and eventually the film.”

“He’s very intelligent.  And adaptive. During one rehearsal, he and I discussed his experience with hang-gliding to connect fictional lines of dialogue to the real world. On set, a director should spend a significant amount of time with the actors, discussing the scene and rehearsing. Because of complications, this wasn’t the case on Steamwrecked. I was lucky to have ten minutes to rehearse before filming a scene. Many actors would have shut down or failed to get into character but Tim kept his cool. Because of his prep, and understanding of the character, I could always rely on him to deliver,” said Matista

Steamwrecked is currently starting its festival track in the United States, but may also be headed abroad to countries like China, New Zealand, and Brazil. It not only appeals to Steampunk communities, but also a wider audience, with memorable performances and a heartwarming story.

“We shot in late Fall, and the desert gets cold. Our first twelve hours were a night shoot. The winds got up to about seventy miles per hour and it was absolutely freezing. I’m from Canada, so it was kind of strange to experience air and wind that cold, but not see any snow. I remember PAs were driving to different towns trying to find those little packages for the crew that you put in your shoes and gloves to stay warm. After two days of that, the weather turned sharply and it became blazing hot; like, oven hot. So the back and forth with the temperature had an effect on some of the equipment and on people’s bodies, but when it was all said and done, we knew we had been a part of something special and everyone was on a real high,” Hildebrand concluded.

FILMMAKING WITH TALENT AND HEART: ZHENG HUANG

The role of producer is about money and schedules, correct? In its most simplistic terms, yes but it’s also about much more than that. For Zheng Huang it’s about art, personal connection, and the bonds that tie us to each other. While that might sound overly emotional, one should remember that we are dealing with the artist temperament; they are known to investigate feelings. A producer is the boss of a production. Everyone has experienced a boss who is only concerned with the bottom line as well as the one who is interested in you performing your job with excellence because you are happy to be there. Huang is very much the later. Every producer has a budget, schedules, etc., the nuts and bolts of their job. Approaching their role from an emotionally inspiring place is just as vital as a cinematographer who looks for the moving aesthetic in the frame (rather than one who simply makes sure everything is in focus). This approach is as intuitive as breathing for Zheng, which is likely why he has become such a sought after producer. Often the difference between good and great is how much you care; Zheng Huang cares a great deal.

Upon returning for the Cannes Film Festival, where his film “Lost” had been presented, Huang was interviewed about this by Neo. Neo was not only the host of an interview show but is also a director. Neo was instantly appreciative of Zheng’s passion for film and his unique perspective, so much that he enlisted him to take on the role of producer for his film “Never mind I Remember.”

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The film details the plight of a family who is forced to deal with an all too familiar difficulty in life. When seventy-year-old Lily loses her husband Frank to a heart attack, her son Jackie comes to her aid. He discovers very soon that his mother is dealing with a very acute case of Alzheimer’s. While Lily struggles to deal with her own constant sense of disorientation and unfamiliarity with those around her, Jackie comes to terms that he must now be the caretaker for his mother and realizes (perhaps somewhat selfishly) the impact on his own life. While both deal with the loss of Frank, Lily deals with the confusion of why her husband is not with her. The film is acted with mastery and captured with the same level of excellence. In one of the most tender and heart breaking scenes, mother and son find themselves in the same tent they used to play in decades before as Lily asks her son when Frank will return and he replies, “Let’s wait for him together.”

Zheng was drawn to this intensely emotional story by the script as well as a personal connection. He shares, “My mom’s aunt has had Alzheimer’s disease for many years but her only child never comes back home to see her. Luckily, her husband takes care of her very well. Because of genetic inheritance of Alzheimer’s, my own mother worries that one day she will begin to show signs of this disease. I am her only child and she has fears about my being too busy to take care of her properly. When she told me these fears of hers, I realized that this is a very deep and powerful topic, one which I want to explore. The son in the story is MYSELF but also every single child who has a busy career and big ambitions. Alzheimer patients can be a big burden for their children but there is no option here. Our mothers are our caretakers, our protectors from the moment we first come into this world. I directly relate to the story of this film and I know that there are many other people who do also. I knew that I wanted to be a part of telling this story and it demanded to be told with the proper emotional lens.”

The vast majority of a producer’s work for any project is in coordinating and scheduling, there’s no denying this fact. Obtaining permits, scouting locations, casting, “connecting the dots” is the norm for producers in a wide variety of settings. The secret ingredient of Huang’s approach is his focus on the communication and relationships of those he is involved with on each project. Neo, director of “Never mind I remember” reveals, “I feel extremely fortunate to have had such an excellent producer as Zheng Huang on my film.  As we were preparing for the shoot, I was having some problems with my 1st AD. This person has also directed and was giving a great deal of unsolicited opinions about the shot list. When I approached Zheng about the situation he said, ‘Neo, I will always support you whatever the decision you make in the end. If you tell me you will fire the 1st AD one day before shooting, I will be your 1st AD if you need; whatever you need, I’ll be there. The most important thing is: you have to be happy with what you do. You have to create your film, not your 1st AD’s film, or anyone else’s.’ This stirred something in me and I was able to confidently move forward and resolve the issue with my 1st AD, which meant that the entire production would benefit as well. Instances like this prove how Zheng is so much more than your average producer or someone who schedules events.”

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When discussing his definition of a producer, there are many familiar tasks and terms that Huang uses to describe his day to day. There’s a verbiage that he has in common with his peers and then there is one word which he continually refers to that stands out; empathy. It’s not something that you often hear a producer discuss as part of their skill set and yet Zheng professes that it is an essential part of what makes him successful as a producer. For someone who works with artists every day, it seems an obvious trait; to those who work with this producer, it is obviously Zheng Huang.