Category Archives: Filmmakers

Sound designer Randolph Zaini says film “Mosquito: The Bite of Passage” is highlight of his esteemed career

Randolph Performing Foley Footsteps
Randolph Zaini working on “Mosquito: The Bite of Passage”

Randolph Zaini is more than a sound designer. He is an artist; the video is his canvas and audio clips are his paint. He is a storyteller, and sound is both the setting and the characters. He sees sound as one of the most important aspects of a film, and those that have seen his work can hear this immediately. There is no doubt as to why he is so sought-after in his industry.

Of all the films he has worked on, with many esteemed awards and praise, the highlight of Zaini’s career he says is working on the film Mosquito: The Bite of Passage, which was just shortlisted for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). The film tells the story of a young mosquito brought out by her mother on her first hunt for blood. The issue, however, is that she doesn’t like blood, and but fears disappointing her mother. Though the main story is simple and clear, there is a complex message underneath. It has much to do with being accepted for who you are. It exemplifies the best form of storytelling, where it can both entertain and illuminate.

“It was a great screenplay filled with heartwarming and funny moments,” said Zaini.

Since the story deals with opposing perspectives, it is imperative to give the appropriate sound design treatment on each subject matter. The mother has set her eyes on a single human: a slob who lives alone in his dingy apartment. When there is a switch back and forth between the perspectives of said human and the mosquitoes, audiences should hear the differences in ambiance. Everything feels gigantic in the perspective of the mosquitoes, even the air feels heavier; they are in the land of giant beings. Although Mosquito: The Bite of Passage is a hybrid live-action/animation, there was no production sound provided to Zaini, even on the live-action part of the film. This meant on top of creating every bit of audio clips for the mosquitoes, he also had to recreate the sounds of the human character, played by a live actor, from scratch as well.

“Every bit of sound that the animated character made, from the mosquitoes’ helmets, suits, boots and blood-bag was created by me in the foley recording studios. As for the human character, I also performed all his movement sounds, which then got a frequency manipulation treatment to make him feel gigantic when seen through the eyes of the mosquitoes,” Zaini described.

The film ended up becoming a large success after premiering at the prestigious Telly Awards, where it won Best Animated Short. In addition to BAFTA, it was an Official Selection at the Chinese International New Media Short Film Festival, Edmonton International Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Haryana International Film Festival, African International Film Festival, 9th CMS International Children’s Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, New Voices in Black Cinema, and more. It has gained offers for representation by CAA, WME, Paradigm and Verve. None of this could have been possible without Zaini’s work as sound designer, and he was recognized for it with the Outstanding Sound Award nomination at the 2017 First Look Film Festival.

“It was incredible. We make these movies to connect with audiences, to tell a story worth telling, with a hidden message worth sharing. Winning awards is always secondary. But I’d be lying if I say winning Telly Award for the second time did not give any affirmation that I was doing something right, that my passion was not misguided, and that people do appreciate the result of hard work and the vast amount of passion being put into it,” said Zaini.

Randolph Performing Foley
Randolph Zaini recording foley for “Mosquito: The Bite of Passage”

The detail Zaini put in to each and every sound in the film is outstanding. To create the sound of the mosquito wings, he used a combination of hummingbird wings flapping, plastic cards being run through bicycle spokes, and small airplane engines flying in the air, among other sounds that helped sell the integrity of the wings that carry these mosquitoes. Every single sound file was designed with the storytelling effectiveness in mind.

“Randolph is the best sound editor, ADR editor, foley artist, and re-recording mixer I have encountered. To cite a specific example, for Mosquito: The Bite of Passage, Randolph created the sound of the entire film from scratch. There was no production sound going in. He was notably innovative in his approach to creating a new world of sound for the macro world of the mosquitos in the film. Using devices like leather jackets, his own voice for various flight sounds, and other unique concepts, he made a deeply immersive experience. This film relied heavily on the sound design given its heavy science fiction component. I was very happy with the results,” said Brian Rhodes, the director of the film. “Randolph is extremely hard working, dependable, diligent and a wonderful human being to be around. I greatly look forward to working with Randolph the rest of my career. He pushes the boundaries of what is possible and is a visionary.”

Rhodes, who previously worked with Zaini on the award-winning film Harold’s Fish Sticks, refused to have another sound designer work with him on the project. He even pushed back the timeline to work with the sound designer, knowing he needed the best. Although it was a long process from start to finish, there was not a moment of it that Zaini did not like.

“It was work that I enjoyed wholeheartedly. Mosquito: The Bite of Passage is an action-filled movie, which means there are a lot of high-paced sequences that were fun to design. I had a blast planning, recording, and editing the sounds I created,” said Zaini.

With every project he takes part in, no matter how successful, Zaini is living his dream. As a child, he told stories, always putting in captivating sound effects. He may not have known at the time it would be his future, but he always knew what his passion was.

“Like most children, I grew up watching animations. Though I wasn’t always aware of the sound design aspects of those cartoons, it had always sold the believability of these drawn and sculpted worlds and characters, being brought to live with sound. To think that what I do now is breathing life into these lovable characters, it is like having an important role behind a magician’s performance,” he said.

Working on Mosquito: The Bite of Passage was just another chance for Zaini to live out his dream.

Costume designer Angela Trivino talks award-winning horror flick “Fear, INC”

For Angela Trivino, a character in any film is born in the fitting room. Yes, the writer creates a character in their mind and a director creates a vision, but the character is not fully realized until they put on their costume. That is why she is an artist and a storyteller. She takes an idea and turns it into something visual. Her talent has earned her a reputation as one of the best, but her passion for what she does as a costume designer is what drives her into work each day.

Trivino completes the transition for audiences from a theatre chair into the film. Her period piece costume design for the film Tragiometry and the commercial for Environmental Working Group Setting the Bar Low, took viewers to a different time, and her work on the film The Fog encapsulated the struggles of a war veteran, even visible in what he was wearing. With this, it was her work in the feature film Fear, Inc. starring Academy Award-nominated actress Abigail Breslin, where she created a horrifying spectacle for audiences, and was pivotal to the film’s success.

“The script was really fun, and I thought it was such a clever story. I knew right from the beginning that I was going to have fun,” said Trivino.

Fear, Inc. follows a company of degenerates who can be hired for a premium to bring your greatest fears to life. But when horror junkie Joe Foster’s customized scare seemingly begins, he and his friends must decide if this company is there to scare them, or make them pawns in their own sick game. The film has 5 bloody scenes, more than 3 dramatic days in the story, 24 characters with different costume changes, and an all-star cast.  As the head of the Costume Design department, Trivino not only designed every look, but also lead her department in different office endeavors like managing finances, scheduling fittings, doing alterations, and executing breakdowns of the script in order to keep track of continuity.

“Just as the story, the characters were young, fresh, and hip, so my inspiration was mainly contemporary trends. However, the film had a dark side to it, as it was also a celebration to horror American classics such as Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Shinning, and The Game. Therefore, keeping the aesthetic references from these films was key to creative process of the project,” Trivino described.

As a designer, Trivino wanted to make sure every character’s costume reflected who they were. She had multiple meetings with the principle cast to discuss their character, and the physiological layers to come up with the right look for the story. While filming, she was on set to give final approval on the looks, and assisted with any last-minute costume changes.

From the moment we met Angela, we knew that she was going to be the one ready for the challenge. Angela is a hard-working designer with the absolute best energy on set to work around actors and help them find their characters through their costume. She truly helped us tell our story using wardrobe. She really understands contemporary trends, and was able to achieve an overall hip fresh look for the cast. Angela is incredibly intuitive. We never had to manage her or worry that our cast wouldn’t be in the right wardrobe. She was consistently on top of her job. Angela went above and beyond what we asked of her and that truly shows with the success of the film,” said Luke Barnett, the writer and producer of the film.

After premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, Fear, Inc. went on to be an Official Selection at the Sitges Film Festival and the San Diego Film Festival. It was then released on Amazon Video, YouTube, ITunes, Vudu, Google play, and Hulu.

 “It is so gratifying, and a total surprise that the film has done so well. I knew the film was going to do great, but I think the results totally exceeded my expectations,” said Trivino. “The film was Luke’s baby and you could feel the passion around set.”

That energy on set made all the challenges that came from shooting a horror film worth it. They shot in a short amount of time, and Trivino’s department overcame any obstacles that would ordinarily arise with a tight timeline. The experience made her want to work on even more films in the horror genre in the future.

“It was a film about horror films, so the impact of these films was huge. However, we wanted to visually quote these movies in a way that they would fit in the contemporary hip, young world that we wanted the story to have,” Trivino concluded.

Viewers wanting to see Trivino’s bloody work can watch the full-length film here.

Actress Ariel Zhang captures split personalities in award-winning performance

International film festival
Ariel Zhang 

Despite being an award-winning actress, Ariel Zhang remains humble. For the Chinese native, she is just thankful to be doing what she loves each day. Audiences around the world have had the opportunity to appreciate her talents, and with each project she takes on, it shows how versatile she truly is. This was never more evident than when she shot her film Consumemate.

Consumemate tells the story of Amalthea, a writer who wants to write a perfect story, but has her own internal struggles. It shows the consequences of Amalthea losing herself in her art. She sinks into madness as she immerses herself in her drive for perfection to live in the character of Piner, the protagonist of her story. She develops a split personality and cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. Zhang played both Amalthea and Piner in the film.

“I like the theme of the project that is about success and ruin. The acme of desire is ruin, it’s difficult and important to make a balance. I believe the aim of every artist is to achieve perfection of execution. As an actress and artist, I always hope to find roles that are challenging and have perfect performances. Setting a goal is the whole life. In order to achieve that goal, I have to eliminate all the obstacles. Sometimes the obstacle is ourselves, so I start to fight with myself and seek a breakthrough,” said Zhang. “As an actress, I have to put myself into some imaginary circumstances and feel my characters. I have to have my heart open and be vulnerable. Sometimes, if I go deeply and stay in that imaginary circumstances for a long time, it can feel hard to get out. I also have a negative side in my body and feel self-denial and self-doubt. The feeling of failure is like an evil power, just like the writer Amalthea. The harder part was the ghost, Piner. She represents the dark side of people, she is like a powerful evil. I had to overcome my fears. I had to find out the dark side beyond myself.”

Although Consumemate just started its film festival run, it has already seen a lot of success, and was the winner of the Festigious International Film Competition 2017. Zhang has been recognized internationally for her outstanding performance. She won the Award of Merit – Leading Actress at the Best Shorts Competition 2017, the Festival Award – Best Actress at the Festigious International Film Festival 2017, the Bronze Award – Best Actress at the NYC Indie Film Awards, and was an Honorable Mention – Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

still of Consumemate
Ariel Zhang as Amalthea in Consumemate

“When we were working on the first steps of rehearsals of this film, I thought this could be a great movie, so I gave my best, as everyone did. The fact that this film is doing so well on an international level is something that makes me feel really proud, and inspires me to keep working hard, because every victory means more and more work,” said Zhang. “It was fun and challenging having two different characters in the same movie. They were so opposite that I really needed my space and to work with each of them, and the director and the rest of the crew were really helpful about that.”

The success of the film truly came down to Zhang, as she had to fully capture both of the characters she had created. The director, Jun Xia, says he cannot imagine any other actress for Consumemate other than Zhang, and her acting in the film was complete perfection.

“Ariel nailed every single scene. Her understanding of the character and her journey was 110 per cent accurate, and even more important, believable. And for sure, she can make a project awesome just by having her as part of it. She has such a high level of professionalism as an actress. Also, the fact that she can deliver any emotion on screen completely real, makes the product basically perfect. She understands and works the character of the film as much as the director, so they end up giving life to any single detail of the film,” said Jun Xia, the director of the film.

In addition to being the lead actress, Zhang also wrote the film. Her idea to create the two characters were to create contrasts between them. She says the challenge is not only that the two characters have totally different personality characteristics, but they also live in different times. She was seeking to find different characteristics for each character. To do this, she explored the symptoms in schizophrenic patients, ensuring the feel was believable and raw. To set up the tone of ancient people, she also read a lot of ancient literature and watched many ancient themed movies. She truly wanted to explore more details to create a believable and truthful performance.

“After I created the two characters and the story, I also learned a lot of things from my characters. In a personal aspect, I learned that I need to appreciate the imperfect self, imperfect art and imperfect life. In a professional aspect, I found deeper areas of both myself and my role. I learned how to use acting skills and techniques to create characters, and not just playing myself. I knew more about my capability which will help me with developing different types of characters and different genres of films,” Zhang described.

Consumemate has been officially selected for the Los Angeles CineFest and Digital Griffix Online Film Festival, and there is no doubt that Zhang’s performance will once again be appreciated by those audiences, and many more.

Film Producer Kseniya Yorsh’s Creative, Kinetic Approach to Movie Making

Film producer Kseniya Yorsh’s approach to cinematic excellence is a high-powered mixture of meticulous attention to detail and an impressive grasp of comprehensive overall scope of any project. Although a relatively recent arrival to Hollywood, Yorsh’s brief yet fruitful career trajectory encompasses a broad spectrum, including music videos, feature films, documentary and shorts—four of which were screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner. Most recently, Yorsh produced Visitors, an engrossing Science Fiction short drama that’s been getting a lot of attention and is set to be showcased in half a dozen prestigious film festivals across the country in 2017.

The Belarus-born Yorsh always gravitated towards the creative, a pursuit which inevitably led her to film. “As a kid and teenager I received all sorts of artistic training,” Yorsh said. “Classical piano, theater classes, film school, literary practice, and I learned 3 foreign languages. As a young adult I worked extensively in business, and all these disciplines have helped build my film producing career. Once I decided to devote myself fully to filmmaking, I came to the US, got a degree in Documentary Filmmaking at New York Film Academy and in Entertainment Business and Management at UCLA.”

Ambitious and focused, Yorsh perfected her craft with experience in almost every aspect of filmmaking. She has written, directed, acted, edited, and worked as an art director, make-up artist, production designer, even in the sound department. It’s an impressive background that’s created her near encyclopedic grasp of what a film producer must both anticipate and turn to the project’s advantage—locations, crew, casting, supervising daily operations on set—and her roster of achievements currently stands at 13 shorts and 3 feature films.

The intense, idiosyncratic Visitors, which combines themes of family dysfunction and chilling otherworldly suspense, offered Yorsh some unique opportunities for trouble shooting.

“Alon Juwal, the director, came to me with the script and the budget he had for the film and I transferred his ideas into a feasible reality,” Yorsh said. “We had some shots that were difficult from a technical standpoint. For example, we had a shot where we see the main character in a beam of light as if from a landing spaceship. We were filming at night so it had to be bright light coming from the sky, with a lot of wind, and us moving in closer and closer to his face. We had aerial shots; we had night shoots in a forest; we had a dog that we needed to film at night; we had guns, special effects.”

“When producing a short film, budget and logistical limitations make you become creative in solving technical challenges and making sure the shoot like this is done in comfortable and safe conditions for the actors and the crew. Figuring these things out was an exciting challenge for me as a producer.”

Characteristically, Yorsh met every concern head on and turned in a flawless finished product. Her vision and drive not only set Yorsh apart but also unfailingly impress her colleagues. “I first met Kseniya a few years ago and was immediately impressed by her clear vision, discipline, imagination and passion,” Sergei Stern, the film’s musical composer, said. “When I was recommended as a composer for Visitors, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Kseniya was the producer. She and Alon built a great team around this wonderful project and I think we did a solid, beautiful film that combines visual beauty with an emotional, dramatic story.”

Released in late 2016, the film—like just about every project Yorsh takes on—has been well received by audiences and recognized with awards at the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and New York City International Film Festival. And since then, she has already produced an feature film and 2 shorts and has another currently in pre-production.

“I love producing because it’s about seizing an opportunity where one doesn’t exist before,” Yorsh said. “It’s about bringing people together and being able to recognize unique skills in a person and link it to someone else’s skills or written material. I love seeing people shine professionally and I love bringing good material to life.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Esi Conway brings her line producing talent to Britain’s Next Top Model

Esi 2
Line producer Esi Conway

Esi Conway’s natural instincts are what make her such a gifted line producer and production manager. Her innate talent for pulling people together combined with her outstanding organizational skills have earned her a spot as one of the best. She has worked for many of the world’s best television stations and some of the most recognizable shows, and throughout it all, she is doing what she loves.

One of the highlights of Conway’s career was working as a Production Manager for Britain’s Next Top Model. The mega successful television show, based off America’s Next Top Model, gave the line producer the chance to be both a fan and a large contributor to the show’s success. Having already been familiar with the Top Model brand because of the American format, she jumped at the opportunity to work for the British version.

“It was a great opportunity to get a diverse range of experience working with leading figures in fashion, acting, and the arts. The fast-paced nature of reality television meant that I would be kept on my toes, with story lines moving and impacting the brief of the show on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

Conway worked on the series for its first nine series, and is largely responsible for making the show what it is today. After the first season, she was given the chance to work primarily on the show’s foreign shoots, allowing her to travel ahead of the production team, and immersing herself in the country of her choice while negotiating deals with local talent.

“No two days were ever the same, from setting up a make shift production office in the middle of the Moroccan desert to working with Jimmy Choo to come up with challenges for the contestants in Malaysia,” she said.

It was an executive producer of the show that Conway had previously worked with that recommended her for the position on the show. He knew from first-hand experience that she was a skillful line producer, with experience in negotiating deals with brands and thriving in a fast-paced environment, and would be a great fit on the show. From there, all those that worked with her on Britain’s Next Top Model were instantly impressed. Robert Pearson, currently a senior producer for the hit show Real Housewives of New York, worked with Conway in Argentina on the show. Together, they went ahead of the team to work out challenges for the contributor, and meet with contractors. He describes working with the line producer as a pleasure.

“Esi is a level-headed problem solver and an excellent people manager.  She is a dedicated team member who is able to motivate others. Her can-do attitude is an asset as well as her commitment to any project,” said Pearson.

Conway agrees that working with Pearson was a great experience, and the relationships she gained from working on the show was part of what made it invaluable. She also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities the show gave her to work with local designers and creative talents, and gave them the chance to showcase their capabilities on a show watched by millions.

“I love the varied nature of the show, knowing that each day would come with a new set of challenges and problems to solve. I loved working with people in different countries across the globe to pull together to make a great show. I also enjoyed seeing the ideas and concepts come together seeing the contributors getting excited by the challenges the team had thought up or about receiving one the prizes that I had negotiated,” she concluded.

From her work with BBC, MTV, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, and many more, there is no doubt to both audiences and colleagues as to why Esi Conway is internationally recognized as an extraordinary Line producer/ Production Manager. Those first nine seasons of Britain’s Next Top Model were just the beginning, and now, years later, the world is not only appreciative, but also thankful for her talent.

Cinematographer Jon Keng captures beautiful moments in award-winning film “The Stairs”

Growing up in Singapore, Jon Keng was always interested in photography. This love for still images eventually grew into something more. This lifelong passion of looking through a lens transformed from still images to filmmaking, and now he is an internationally successful cinematographer.

Working all over the world, Keng has shown his extraordinary capability as a cinematographer on a variety of films. His work on the award-winning film Fata Morgana was screened at some of some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, and this trend continued when he worked on Cocoon, Home, and Tadpoles. Last year, his film The Stairs premiered at Ashland International Film Festival 2016, where it won the grand prize of Best Short Film. It also was screened at the Festival 2016, the USA Palm Beach International Film Festival 2016, and the USA River’s Edge International Film Festival where it went on to win the Special Jury Prize for Best Film.

“It feels great to be validated by the success the film has been receiving,” said Keng.

The Stairs was initially conceptualized as a television series, based around a gay, high end male escort and the lonely men he meets each week. The film follows an older man who hires a male escort for company on Christmas Eve, finding an unexpected kinship with the young man in this late-night exploration of solitude, intimacy and the basic human need for connection.

“I was attracted to the script of The Stairs initially. On the surface, it seemed very ‘undramatic’, with the entire story centered around a long conversation scene, but digging deeper, I began to uncover many subtly hidden emotional beats and arcs that each character goes through. I thought this was very tasteful and I made it my challenge to make the piece visually arresting to keep the audience engaged through the long dialogues,” said Keng.

Keng describes the style he filmed in as very calculated, as he tried to focus on emphasizing each specific beat during the long dialogues in the scenes, in order to make sure that the audience fully understood what was occurring, which largely contributed to the success of the film.

“I also played around with themes of escalating visual connection between the two actors in the film, building up to a final point of disconnection,” he said.

Keng worked alongside an all-star cast and crew on The Stairs. The film stars Tony award nominated actor Anthony Heald (Silence of the Lambs, Boston Public, Red Dragon). It also starred Kelly Blatz (NCIS, Fear the Walking Dead, Aaron Stone) who co-directed the film with the writer Zach Bandler (Switched at Birth).

As a director who has worked and will continue to work with Jon at every opportunity, I can say without hesitation that he has the rarest of talent in cinema: instinct. Cinematography isn’t just a technical job where someone points a camera for you at the actors or figures out where the lights should be. A great cinematographer is as much a storyteller as the director or screenwriter. Watching Jon work, he is truly “one” with the camera. It’s an organic part of them. He makes it move like a human being in a way that draws the audience into film. He has a sense for the lighting that evokes the perfect emotional response for that moment in the story on screen. He possesses nuance, sensitivity, he is a leader in their own right, without whom a director would be lost. That type of talent cannot be learned or taught, because it’s God-given. Jon has it. He is an artist in the most profound sense of the word,” said Bandler.

All who worked with Keng on the film were impressed with his cinematographic instincts. Meg Steedle, an actress known for her work in Boardwalk Empire, Grey’s Anatomy, and American Horror Story, was a producer on the film. She describes Zeng’s work as masterful.

“Jon’s was a dream to have on set. He ran the camera, grip and electrical department with an efficiency and effectiveness that kept the film running on time while still capturing beautiful moments on screen. For a producer, someone like Jon is the ideal,” said Steedle. “He’s got a ridiculously bright future ahead of him in this industry and I intend to hire him every chance I get.”

The opportunity for Keng to work with such a distinguished cast and crew was a vital aspect to his experience working on The Stairs. Blatz and Bandler knew what he was capable of, and were very open to collaboration. This gave Keng the freedom he needed me to push himself visually and experiment, and watching the actors provided inspiration.

“It was a privilege to be able to work with Anthony Heald, a veteran actor with such a strong theatrical pedigree. I was really just transfixed watching him go through his long monologues, conveying a deep sense of emotion,” said Keng. “Kelly was amazing to watch on set, as he was both acting and directing the film. He would be acting in one moment, then switch to director’s mode and talk about shots. This takes a great amount of multitasking. Despite doing multiple overnight shoots in a row, he was still filled with energy and concentration, which he was able to bring across to the entire crew.”

Keng was also a multi-tasker on set, working all the way from pre-production to post-production, ensuring everything was executed to perfection. With commitment like that, there is no doubt as to why he is considered such an exemplary cinematographer.