Everyone has a memorable childhood book that stays with them well beyond their early years. These books held stories and characters that came to life through the words of the writer, the voices of the loved ones who would read them aloud, and, of course, the illustrations carefully crafted by the artists. Illustrators can lead to a story continuing to be engaging and memorable at any age. Ohenewa Anno is one such illustrator who created the captivating visuals for the recently published What’s That Spooky Sound, a rhyming Halloween story for children written by Jim Horsman.
What’s That Spooky Sound follows three children as they go trick-or-treating through their neighborhood. As a graduate from Ringling College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation, Anno brings a unique look to the story through the use of 3D modelling. Jim Horsman, the author, chose to work with Anno after seeing her extensive portfolio of digital work.
“Ohenewa’s illustrations captivated me immediately,” Horsman said. “I found her 3D imagery to be a perfect fit for my project. Her creativity and talent was crucial in giving the book life and image.”
Anno was the illustrator for the entirety of the book. She designed the three main characters of the book based on the character descriptions and an understanding of the aesthetic Horsman was trying to acheive: a balance between a spooky Halloween story and a playful children’s book. This balancing act was artfully handled by Anno.
“It was very important to research different moods for both Halloween and children’s books to develop the overall aesthetic,” Anno said. “Most children’s books are very bright, but I wanted to experiment with keeping most elements besides the children themselves very dark.”
The design of the main characters, kept bright and relatable, stand out with their friendly faces and remain relatable to the target audience of children.
“The word most often used to describe Ohenewa’s illustrations is ‘adorable’,” Horsman commented, speaking of the design of the exceedingly adorable main characters of What’s That Spooky Sound.
The moody backgrounds and environments portrayed in What’s That Spooky Sound were fully developed by Anno’s talents with 3D modelling, texturing and lighting techniques. She also made the creative choice to include elements of 2D digital painting to soften the 3D aspects and integrate the story more effectively with the pages of a book.
Anno has mastered the use of multiple programs that she uses in her projects. For the illustrations in What’s That Spooky Sound, she used Autodesk Maya, Pixar’s Renderman, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign. These programs were used to set up controllers for the eye movement of the characters, creating a skeleton rig for each character and using intricate tools from each program to bring depth and life to the final image. This blending of her artistic and technological skills across these programs lead to high quality still images that moved the story forward.
Supporting the storyline is a crucial part of storybook illustration. Having strong illustrative storytelling alongside a well-crafted use of language by the author will lead to a successful story. What’s That Spooky Sound has received only positive reviews on Amazon, where it is currently available for purchase. Horsman has noted that the book’s success is due to a combination of the writing and the illustrations.
“We have received numerous positive responses to the book, with equal kudos for the story line and the illustrations,” Horsman said.
The book’s success has prompted Horsman to look for further ways to expand on the adventures of the three main characters. As he moves forward with these goals, he stated that he would definitely include his illustrative partner Anno.
“Through the book development process, Ohenewa was extremely professional and responsive. So much so that I am pursuing growth for this project and others,” Horsman enthused. “Indeed, I am preparing to pitch this project to national retailers as well as production companies for potential movie and TV rights. The potential for future development of the three characters is large. Ohenewa’s role in future development is crucial.”
For Anno’s part, her professional career as an illustrator is already taking off with projects spanning different applications for her impressive 3D artistry. She was the 3D designer, website designer, and graphic designer for a leather saddlery company based in Switzerland called Sattleria. She is also engaged in the creative design work as a 3D character modeler bringing even more characters to life for GenZed, an animated comedy.
It’s amazing and rare for people to be able to know and identify what their passion and dreams are from childhood, and go on to follow through with these dreams. This is exactly the case for model and actress Jordan Claire Robbins. She knew she wanted to perform from a very young age, and since moving to Toronto she has taken advantage of every opportunity to realize these dreams. Not many can say this.
Robbins has appeared in a variety of successful campaigns and worked worldwide as a model. She has shot music videos for The Midway State and Down With Webster. She is in the upcoming film Anon with an all-star cast including Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried, and she was in the television series 12 Monkeys and Man Seeking Woman. That being said, she still sometimes thinks back to her childhood in Bermuda, and fantasizing of one day having the career she has now.
“I remember playing alone in my backyard acting out different characters and making up stories. I would choreograph dances and write plays, then make my family watch me perform them” she said.
Despite a passion for singing and doing musical theatre throughout school, the process of film always fascinated Robbins. Upon graduating high school, she decided she wanted to seriously pursue acting abroad and moved to Toronto.
“I love the storytelling aspect of acting,” she said. “The investigative angle you must take to understand your character’s motivations and experiences, why they are the way they are. It’s an opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone who has led a very different life from the one you may have led so far.”
Robbins has shot commercials for companies such as Rogers, Mini Cooper, Open Wines, Air Canada, Reitmans,Engage Diamonds, the German clothing company Ernsting’s Family, Canadian shopping mall Shops at Don Mills, and French cable company Canal Sat. She worked with Jonathan Popalis, a supervising producer/director at the Bell Media Agency, on a TV commercial for CP24, one of Bell Media’s biggest news brands and the most watched news channels in Canada.
“Jordan was fantastic to work with and a bright, positive person to have on set during a fast-paced and hectic day of shooting,” said Popalis. “She took direction wonderfully and gave a nuanced and elevated performance to bring a very high concept idea to reality. Jordan can effortlessly bring a character to life while also being able to make changes on a dime when it’s needed. She has a stunning star quality look and backs this up with a fearlessness and willingness to create and do great things.”
She also worked with director Anton Josef on a commercial for Engage Diamonds The ad was featured on numerous media outlets around the world including ‘Best Ads on TV’ and won a 2014 AICE Award in Chicago. He describes Robbins as committed, passionate, hardworking and easily adaptable no matter how difficult the situation can become.
“When you work with Jordan, you have a sense that she’s not only a complete professional, but someone who genuinely loves her art form, bringing a contagious enthusiasm to every frame that inspires everyone around her. Our film would never had been so successful without her and everything she poured into it,” said Josef. “Jordan is that very rare blend of natural beauty, charisma and sublime talent. Having worked around the world for many years with some incredibly talented artists, Jordan easily comes to mind as one of the very best with the brightest futures, gleaming with potential. She has that special ability to roll with loosely scripted ideas and be captivating to watch as she naturally and effortlessly molds the role into her own. It’s a highly demanding and competitive field no doubt – but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see her landing even more ambitious projects among the best in the industry.”
Despite the pursuit of an acting career being Robbins’ main motivator, she also jumped into the modelling industry after being approached on the street. She sees modeling as beneficial to her acting career, because both involve playing a character to her.
“I’m pretty goofy and I never felt particularly attractive when I was growing up, so when I started shooting things such as sexy lingerie and high fashion, I learned to tap into parts of myself I don’t generally show on a day-to-day basis,” she described. “This was good preparation for taking on characters in my acting work that aren’t very similar to me.”
Needless to say, all of the experience in front of a camera combined with a passion for what she does has led to a successful career.
“I am so grateful to be able to do something I’m passionate about – that I can be 14 hours into a day of shooting and still not want the day to end,” she concluded. “I love that film and TV can transport an audience, provide an escape and change their perspective. It’s amazing to have a hand in that.”
I recently had the chance to catch up with the uber talented singer songwriter Juvicsa Vela, who released her debut EP Eyes to Land produced by Federico Angel earlier this year. In our interview Juvicsa opens up about the new EP, her writing process and some of her musical influences.
Born in Peru, Juvicsa discovered her god-given talent for singing and passion for music at an early age, and when she moved to Sweden with her mother at the age of 12 her artistry really began to take root. Having lived all over the world, it’s not surprising that Juvicsa’s music exhibits traces of influences from many cultures.
Juvicsa first began working on the EP while living in Los Angeles where she attended the Musicians Institute, but in search of new inspiration and a change of scenery, she moved to Reykjavik, Iceland last year where she finished the album working remotely with her LA-based producer Federico Angel.
Eyes to Land can easily fit into the pop/rock category, but with R & B and Latin elements, not to mention Juvicsa’a powerful vocals and bittersweet lyrics, the EP eloquently defies genres.
Juvicsa also wrote the popular theme song for an Indonesian adventure TV show sponsored by Mitsubishi called “Jonsson & Robinson Journey,” which premiered to millions of viewers across the country.
To find out more about Juvicsa and her new EP make sure to check out our interview below.
How old are you?
28 years young
When and how did you first get into music?
I must’ve been around 4 or 5 when I started to sing. I had this boombox with a built in mic and a lot of cassettes. I used to spend hours and hours and hours on the floor with my boombox, recording myself singing and creating harmonies over my recordings, I think that’s when I first created something musical. This was so liberating to me, a kid who was a rebel, always getting in trouble at school but when I went back home and locked myself in my room I’d spend hours singing and doing all those things I loved to do and that was my outlet. Then I started writing songs at the age of 15 with an old piano my mother got for me and a little MIDI controller.
When you say you were a rebel– what kind of trouble were you getting into?
As a very hyperactive kid, I didn’t really like to follow the rules at school so I got sent to the principal’s office very often for roughhousing and sneaking out of class to play with the older kids.
What do you think might have happened if you hadn’t found music as an outlet?
I already have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time so I think I would’ve probably lost my mind a little. I don’t think I would have been able to deal with the darkness and the difficulties of growing up. I would’ve possibly kept getting in trouble.
How long were you working on “Eyes to Land” before its September release?
It took me about a year from scratch to finished product, a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was in Iceland and my producer was back in the states, so there was a lot of going back and forth, time differences and work on both our parts. Lots of coffee, little sleep.
Can you give us a little back story on the EP and where you got your inspiration from?
I moved to Iceland a week after my grandma passed away, my grandma was more like a second mother to me, so the whole process of composing the EP was a very emotional one. I definitely think that both Iceland’s landscapes and nature, and being in a very emotional state, brought the EP out, especially being in a brand new country.
Did you write all of the songs on the EP?
I did, along with my producer.
What is the writing process like for you?
I think the writing process was different for each song, I could get inspiration by sitting by the ocean in Reykjavik, being in the shower for another song, conversations I had with friends that sparked something in me and made me drop everything and write. I do spend a lot of hours alone in the beginning, I think that’s what works best for me and I’m more comfortable that way. After writing a song I’d call my producer and we’d go to the next step, more composing, polishing, re-recording and so on, all through FaceTime.
Can you tell us about your inspiration for some of the songs?
Well for example “High Tonight” was born out of a glass of wine and a late night conversation with a friend of mine. She was going through a tough break up at the time and she said a couple of things that really struck me. I dropped everything, went over to the keyboard and started writing it, it was written in a couple of hours. She actually doesn’t know about it yet!
For “Unaware” I had to dig a little deeper, it’s definitely a very personal song to me. My inspiration came from being in a toxic environment and feeling exhausted but still seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, still not being able to let go of that thing that can break you but can save you. The sound for “Unaware” is definitely influenced by No Doubt and Spanish music.
“Now” is the song about hope. Like I said, there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel and this is it, this is your saving moment, it’s you giving in instead of giving up. “Now” is kind of my full circle song.
What is your favorite song off of the EP right now?
My personal favorite is “Unaware.” I’m very emotionally attached to that one.
Why did you choose to name the EP “Eyes to Land”?
It’s a poetic play on words. This EP symbolizes a person trying to deal with death and rebirth at the same time. The name comes from trying to deal with the death of someone so close that in a way symbolized the death of a part of me, but also the rebirth, which for me was moving to another country. That in both situations you need guidance, you need eyes. If not your own, then someone else’s.
How would you describe the album to those who haven’t had a chance to hear yet?
A shoegaze and pop/rock mix with emotional but energetic vocals. With all kinds of raw ENERGY ranging from sad to sensual.
Did you play any instruments on the album?
I played the keys on the final product but I program different instruments when I’m in the writing process as well so that everything is the way we want it.
Do you have a consistent band backing you?
Not as of now I don’t. It’s hard to keep one consistent band with you when you’re traveling a lot.
Who else was involved in the making of your new EP “Eyes to Land”?
Federico Angel as producer and instrumentalist, the amazing Ro Rowan on cello, Dean Dichoso as instrumentalist, Dean Dichoso Productions for mix and mastering and Steinunn Osk Axelsdottir as sound engineer on vocals.
How did you choose Federico Angel as your producer for the album?
From the first day we started working together I knew there was something that clicked. It’s actually very simple, we’re both very straight to the point and he knows exactly what I want and how I want things to sound, sometimes even without fully explaining what I mean, he gets it. I mean it’s gotta be a good match when the artist is explaining a sound as a color or a metaphor and the producer completely gets it down.
You’ve had a pretty multi-cultural upbringing, can you tell us about some of the places you’ve lived and how they have affected your journey as a musician?
I was born in Lima, Peru but I moved to Lund, Sweden when I was 12, as an adult I moved to Los Angeles and as of last year I live in Iceland. All of these moves and amazing experiences with different cultures make my music what it is. Ultimately all I want is to unapologetically mix everything I know and write something I think will sound great and people will relate to.
Were your parents involved in music as well?
No, my parents weren’t but I have singers and artists in my extended family.
Can you tell us a little bit about Iceland’s music culture? Do you feel that it has influenced your work as a musician?
Funny thing about being like a sponge when you’re a musician, I sent my producer a demo during our Eyes To Land writing process and he thought it sounded Björk-esque, which obviously was a huge compliment that I most likely didn’t deserve but it really made me think about inspiration always changing and how it can be so related to where you are, I think it’s amazing.
I’m a really big fan of Icelandic music, coming from Sweden, I initially thought it could be similar but it’s really an art of its own. To me, the peculiar sound that Icelandic music has, has to do a lot with the isolation of the island and even modern Icelandic music has a characteristic sound with traces of the old.
Are you involved in any collaborations at the moment or are you mostly focusing on your solo career?
I’m working with a couple of artists at the moment for minor projects or songs I’ll be featured in but I’m mostly focusing on my solo career at the moment.
What five albums are you listening to most right now?
Garbage’s new album “Strange Little Birds,” Sia’s “This is Acting”, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and waiting impatiently for the New Lady Gaga album and the new Beth Hart album!
If you didn’t become a musician, what profession do you think you might have chosen?
I think I would’ve still been involved with the arts in some way, I would’ve been around music and art in any way I could. I always try not to let plan B distract me from plan A though.
We recently caught up with actress Tatiana Romao for an interview about what drives her to perform and how she got started in the industry. Romao, who is known internationally for her performances in the films Lips, Disruption, Corinne, The Red House, Abberation and many more, recently wrapped production on the upcoming film The Process. Set to hit the festival circuit in 2017, The Process is a powerful drama written and directed by Chinese director Apple Ng, whose film 1 Corinthians 13 screened at the Nevada Women’s Film Fest earlier this year. Taking on the starring role of Lindsey in the film, Romao acts alongside Kathy Wu from Chris Nahon’s (Kiss of the Dragon) 2016 film Lady Bloodfight and the secen-time Hong Kong Film Award winning film Port of Call, Yisrael Dubov from the films The Petulant, Scapegoat and the series Z Fever, and Jasmine Hill from the film Highland and the series Princess in Di-Stress.
Romao also recently wrapped production on the upcoming horror film Valentine DayZ from director Mark Allen Michaels, the director of the horror film The Fiance with Carrie Keagan from the films Dead 7, Sharknado 4D: The Fourth Awakens and Father Vs. Son, and Douglas Tait from the films Star Trek, Land of the Lost and the hit Primetime Emmy nominated series Grimm. Romao takes on the lead role of Diana in Valentine DayZ, which also stars Carrie Keagan, FANtastic Award nominee Robert Allen Mukes from the film House of 1000 Corpses and the series Westworld and Weeds, and Dallaz Valdez from The Fiance. An apocalyptic zombie horror film Valentine DayZ, which is due for release in 2017, follows a group of unsavory characters who get a rude awakening when a zombie outbreak plagues earth. In the film Romao’s character Diana, and Max played by Valdez, join forces to battle the undead.
To find out more about actress Tatiana Romao, make sure to check out our interview below!
Where are you from?
I’m from Sao Paulo, Brazil
When and how did you get into acting?
I started acting when I was 12 years old. I come from a family of all doctors. That includes both my parents, my siblings, my cousins, uncles, aunts and even one of my grandfathers used to be one. Acting has been my passion and a need in my life since I’ve come to know myself as a person. It all started as an after school, extracurricular activity and as time went by it became my goal in life. I went through all my years of school taking acting classes, first amateur and eventually a full professional acting program at one of the most respected schools in Brazil, Escola Celia-Helena. After finishing school I went to college for marketing. In Brazil it is almost something you HAVE to do if you want to get somewhere and coming from a family of doctors there wasn’t much discussion on that. During college I kept on working in small plays and small projects, worked with Fatima Toledo, one of the most respected acting coaches in Brazil (she worked on City of God, Elite Squad I and II, Alice and so many other very big movies and tv series in Brazil), went through her film program, organized myself and my life and moved to LA 2 years after graduation, in 2009.
What is it about acting that drives you to perform?
Acting is a need in my life, it’s not an option of whether or not I will do it, it is what I have to do, it is what I do and a great part of who am. Acting has shaped my life. The feeling, the emotion, hearing from the audience how you moved them, how you touched them, it is indescribable.
Can you tell us about the upcoming film “Valentine DayZ”?
“Valentine DayZ” was likely one of the most fun sets I’ve ever been to. I played Diana, a girl that, with Max (Dallas Valdez), has to defend the world and everything they hold dear from a zombie apocalypse that recently burst. We also had Carrie Keagan as part of our cast playing Sara. It was my second time on a horror/ thriller film (the first was ‘The Red House’) and besides what people may believe the energy on set is just so light and everyone just becomes this one big family. When I was at the beginning of my acting career I used to believe that even the filming of a horror film had to be somewhat scary, I remember reading stories of things that some people said happened on their sets and so I had in my mind that I was never going to be in one, well…that has changed a lot. Of course we have our very tense moments depending on the scene that we are filming but we had so much fun, we were always trying to scare each other and would burst into laughter right after. It was so much fun, I miss it a lot honestly. The film is still yet to be released and we are all very anxious and excited to watch the final version.
How about the film “The Process”?
“The Process” is a comedy about the day to day life in an office space and how frustrated people get in the normal 9-5 jobs. It’s centered on Lindsey (myself), Carter (Jasmine Hill) and Dwayne (Matt Pena). They are best friends and Carter’s life is falling apart. She just got divorced, after catching her husband cheating on her with an older woman, she can’t stand her boss anymore and she wants to sell all her things and move to Hawaii. Lindsey has a kid and almost lost her job twice for being so tired of it she just doesn’t deliver almost anything anymore, she is always stalling and was caught sleeping at a meeting. Dwayne is the nerd one, always afraid to lose his job as he lives from paycheck to paycheck and even though he is miserable and is always being relocated from different areas in the office as his boss doesn’t want him there anymore but don’t want to have to fire him and pay all the fees. The three decide to then find reasons to blackmail their boss Colton Ellis (Yisrael Dubov).
“The Process” was a fun light movie to be a part of. It barely felt like we were working. It was a thrill to play Lindsey. It’s so good to feel like we can let loose of everything that holds us back in life and just do exactly what we want, and that’s what Lindsey does in the end. I related a lot to Julia Roberts role in “Eat Pray Love.” When you hit that point in your life that you have to rediscover yourself, when you see yourself living a routine that was never what you planned or even though it was, you discover that money and stability don’t necessarily fulfill you in the way that you need. It was a most delightful role to play.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
It varies but sometimes it’s a director I’ve always wanted to work with like Mark Michaels and Giulio Poidomani, or the role is a challenge for me, it can be something so different than what I normally play that I am always dying to try, but one way or another the story has to move me in some way. I have to either relate to the role or the story and if it has a deeper message to the world or is a subject that we all have to start talking about, I’m all in straight away.
Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?
I do. I feel like I am emotionally open for deep and dramatic characters and I tend to always be a part of those projects and I always end up getting the more serious, responsible roles. I’ve always wanted to play a comic book villain or some sort of superhero, I feel like it would be perfect for me.
Out of all your productions both in the theatre and on screen, what has been your favorite project, or projects, so far and why?
Oh wow, that’s a hard one. I have to say I have an undeniable passion for theatre. I loved all the plays I was in. The thrill of not being able to mess up your lines or a mark, cut and do it again, having the audience right there, being able to play with the audience and the amazing connection you always end up having with those people that you are rehearsing with 24/7 for God know’s how long is such an amazing feeling that even though I love doing films and I know I can achieve a wider audience with those, plays are always going to be my number one passion. On that note, that are 2 plays I did back in Brazil that were certainly some of the best moments. One is called “The Exception and The Rule” by the german playwright Bertolt Brecht and the other one is “Rosita Letters and Poems” by Federico Garcia Lorca. They were both extremely acclaimed at the time… Our group just worked so so hard on both of them, we became a big close family. We would rehearse all day long at times, we had so many struggles during the process that we didn’t think that we were going to be able to present them in the end. Both stories are absolutely beautiful. “Rosita Letters and Poems” is such a delicate story about a teenage girl and “The Exception and The Rule” is one of my favorites because the role I played was so different from me. I played a tour guide in the desert, had to eat with my hands, was dirty all the time. During this last one we were also a very small group, it was only 4 of us so if was definitely a great great time.
What has been your most challenging role?
My most challenging role I think I’ll have to say was when I played Sarah in “Disruption.” I had never played a mom and that was one of my first bigger roles in the US. That was actually an amazing experience because Giulio, the director, wrote the script and the role for me, so it was an honor to be a part of the project. It was the first time I was dealing with a kid and had to work with him, I’ve learnt that I’m not that good at it hahah. Also I had a lot of experience with roles that are emotionally deep and Sarah was more of a stay at home mom dealing with an unbalanced husband. I never knew that holding back was actually going to be a bit of a struggle for me but Giulio guided me and helped me out in understanding how to approach it. It’s funny, we understand that “being pushed” is only for something somewhat extreme, but that role for me was completely out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot from it.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
It’s a lot “ lighter” to do comedy, even though it’s super hard, but I have to say that my favorite is drama. I just connect with the stories straight away and I feel like I can give the weight necessary. I am very emotional and I feel like my emotions are very deep so I am able to give the depth needed for more dramatic roles.
During her childhood years in Jakarta, Indonesia, Michaela Angelique always was taking pictures. She was known amongst her friends as the one with the camera. As a teenager, she knew the camera inside out. She adjusted to the conversion of film to digital. And now she is still the one with the camera, but there is a new meaning to it.
Angelique is a camera department specialist, working for various films and television shows and with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. In 2015, she worked on the film Rated, which has lighting up various film festivals since its world premiere and won a Best Comedy Short at the Sonoma Film Festival in April this year.
“Working on Rated was really fun. The producers were really awesome and director knows what he was doing,” said Angelique. “And the kids are super cute and adorable.”
Rated follows Maggie, played by Christie Lynn Smith. Maggie must find the courage to own up to her behavior when she wakes to find every adult has received a YELP-like star rating floating over their head. While most every adult has a shining 4 and 5 stars, Maggie’s got just 2.5. The director of the film, John Forston, plays Maggie’s husband.
“It is just such a cute story,” said Angelique. “And John was such an awesome person to work with. He is very talented and knows what he is doing. He is a very humble person and treats everybody respectfully.”
Fortson was the director, lead actor, and executive producer for Rated. He was so impressed with Angelique’s professionalism and adaptability on set that he says he wants her to work on his next project.
“It was a pleasure to work with Michaela because not only is she a consummate professional about her camera work but she is a kind and lovely person to be around. Working on a film set can be stressful, but Michaela brought her smile and professional work ethic,” he said. “Our film Rated has gone on to much success, winning many awards and being accepted to many of the top festivals in the United States and this is in part because of having Michaela there working with us. She worked amazingly well with the other crew, always courteous and with an attitude of teamwork. Her qualities are invaluable.”
“Michaela’s attention to detail was invaluable,” he continued. “She constantly made sure that our camera lenses were properly handled and protected, as well that every shot was perfectly in focus. Time was of the essence on our shoot and Michaela pulled through with excellence every day.”
Angelique had to overcome many challenges on set and as a camera assistant. It isn’t always easy being in charge of carrying a forty-sixty-pound piece of equipment all day.
“It was not always easy when shooting on location and trying to locate where to stage the camera gears. We also had a handheld shot which went from the bedroom through the house hallway and then to the living room which has a mirror, and the shot was looking everywhere. We had to hide our gears and I had to pull focus manually from the camera. It was close to impossible pulling focus on that specific shot,” she described.
The important thing for Angelique, however, is what the film represents and what she took away from working on such a dynamic project.
“After working on this movie, I have more belief in humanity, I know it’s a movie, but movies help people to realize there are good things in the world, and to not judge people too harshly and quickly. Everybody has their own struggle that we don’t always know, and we would never to come through it like they do if we were in their shoes,” she concluded.
Actor Vishal Arora’s career is a fascinating study in multi-culturally informed artistic disciplines. An accomplished stage, film and television player, his professional background as a full time Bollywood actor and subsequent training in Los Angeles at the famed Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute provide him a world class foundation of technique and experience. Arora’s broad international palette of skill and training also includes youthful participation in the rich Indian tradition of street plays, a sort of guerilla theater, performed in public, which often examine pointedly topical themes.
Ambitious, enthusiastic and always upbeat, Arora, now based in Los Angeles, spent his life working to reach this point. “From childhood I have been very active on stage and in street plays,” Arora said. “It’s a form of theater all about society, an activity that creates an awareness among people about ongoing problems—things that, with the help of street plays, we can change.”
“I love to live different lives, and acting is the best way to do that,” he said. “And, doing television, I get the chance to play a different character every week, it’s like having another person’s experience, an entirely new life span, one different from your own.”
The handsome young actor’s resume includes appearances in the Fox Star Studio’s hit feature “Neerja,” a tense thriller centered on an airline hijacking, parts in numerous television crime, comedy and soap opera series, short films and pop music videos. Arora’s soul deep passion and drive him allows him to not just seek out, but spontaneously discover unexpected roles. This was exactly the case with Kis Din Mera Vyah Howega, a popular Indian TV comedy series.
“I went in to give an audition for a particular role on the show,” Arora said. “But, on the spot, the casting director gave me another script, I wasn’t expecting this, because I’d been called for a different character but, of course, I read for them. After a few days I got the call saying that I have been finalized for this particular role, so I accepted the challenge of playing Gay character.”
The Indian LGBTQ community routinely faces significant opposition; homosexuality is largely considered taboo and is illegal, but Arora, with his grounding in topical street plays, didn’t hesitate to take this opportunity.
“I have to do my work and make sure I put 100% of my efforts while on set” Arora said. “So, I spent some time with one of my gay friends, to observe how, as a person, he was different from straight guys. I just see things internally and then apply that to myself—‘if I were gay, what would my feelings and reactions will be?’ That’s how I did my homework for this role.”
“This particular character is the one who really brings comedy to the show,” Arora said. “I was doing a scene with a guy in drag, who I turned into a girl with makeup, saying Now, if you stay at my place, people will talk!’ Because in Asian countries, without a marriage, guys just don’t stay with girls, and so, having a gay character saying that was really a different, funny twist.”
“Working on the show was a really fun experience,” Arora said. “I took the challenge, learned new things, l and made some good friends while we were working together. This was a good character for me and it did very well in towns all over India, people liked the comedy and my character.”
Kis Din Mera Vyah Howega represented another upshift for the talented, restless Arora. It was a significant achievement that underscores his natural ability to inhabit any role with a truthful. instinctive skill, and this natural talent has steadily heightened his professional profile. A success in Bollywood, Arora’s now poised to storm Hollywood with his same measured combination of hard work and priceless intuition.
“The part was a challenge in the beginning, but then I let it go, and got over that pressure,” Arora said. “And I was very natural with it. These challenges are one of the factors which led me to pursue acting in the first place, and when you have the whole country watching you, when you are a part of big successful project, it provides a good platform to make a name for yourself and your family.”
Actor Michelle Alexander inhabits every role with a masterly conviction. Her characterizations, whether a light hearted comedy or dark suspense thriller, display an involvement and authority which completely draws an audience in. The Canadian-born Alexander’s artful prowess allowed her to transition, with admirable grace, from theater to television, where she electrified viewers as a knife-wielding slasher on the groundbreaking Darknet, a well-received, innovative anthology series of urban horror stories.
The lissome, charming Alexander was hardly an obvious choice for a serial killer, but she easily won the role of murderous psychotic Alison. “The Darknet auditions were highly competitive,” Alexander said. “The individual slots for the first round were only five minutes long, but I was kept in the room for 45 minutes. They had me do a 2-minute scene about 10 different ways, and later told me they were blown away by how quickly I adapted to direction.”
“Then there was the callback,” she said. “It was one of my favorite ever auditions. The scene was Alison stabbing her first murder victim and realizing how much she loved it. I wanted to have something to push against, literally, when doing the ‘stabbing’ so I slammed a giant chair into the ground over and over again. I thought ‘they’re either going to think I’m crazy or an acting-chair-wielding genius.’ That bold choice paid off.”
Alexander’s instinct and audacity, combined with a deep well of classical stagecraft—an alumni of the distinguished University of Windsor BFA Acting Program with extensive additional training and stage experience—effectively guaranteed her the part, and she took full advantage of the offbeat opportunity.
“Those are the scenes you wish for as an actor, going from 0 to100 in seconds, from innocent student to serial killer,” she said. “Alison was the first role that showed me how my own personal brand of humor and heart is watchable and exciting. I love bringing that quality, which is uniquely me, to roles that show how women can be really screwed up and still amazingly powerful at the same time.”
Alexander’s gift for weaving subtle ambiguity and blunt force drama together into an engrossing whole is impressive, and Darknet was an important upshift in her already solid roster of theatrical and film achievement. But she doesn’t take any of it for granted.
“Is anyone ever really satisfied with their performance?” Alexander said. “Actors are notoriously hard on themselves and driven for self-improvement, not qualities that foster self-satisfaction. Of course, there were moments in the final cut that I watched and thought ‘oh they chose that take, it’s good, but I can do better.’ I didn’t think that was my best’. But, ultimately, my job is to deliver believable moments and it’s their job to choose which version fits into the story they want to tell.”
Darknet’s singular format, with multiple plotlines progressing over several episodes, each helmed by different directors, provided Alexander a rare, interactive behind-the-scenes experience.
“It felt like a truly collaborative experience,” Alexander said. “The directors of the different episodes really treated me like the authority on my character, always asking what I thought Alison would do in a situation. Even the script writers were collaborative. For example, before they signed off on Episode Five they asked if I agreed with the very extreme choice they had Alison make. You can’t ask for a better work environment than that.”
“I had the pleasure of working with Michelle on Darknet,” director Jeremy Ball said. “Michelle stood out for her energy, commitment, and ability to take direction. I also found her to possess a singular screen presence that was at once completely her own and capable of accommodating a scene’s unique requirements.”
Alexander’s work on Darknet, currently streaming on Netflix, instilled a fondness for the small screen format. “It was fantastic,” she said. “The entire crew, creative team and cast were a joy to work with. Also, we laughed a lot when the cameras weren’t rolling, which is key when making any show, but especially a horror show.”
She has gone on to appearances on The Strain and Orphan Black and is eager to take on additional television roles. “I want to play amazing females who viewers can look forward to hanging out with, crying with and watching in awe as they take on the world episode after episode.” Alexander said. “My dream job is to helm my own sci-fi series as a character that’s riddled with flaws but has a killer sense of humor and can kick anyone’s ass.”
At her core, Alexander is a reliable, self-critical craftsman with a driven, pragmatic attitude that serves her very well. “Nothing will ever go exactly as planned,” she said. “So bend your knees, trust yourself and always be in the moment.”
It is extremely difficult to make your dream come true, but so rewarding. It is that much more difficult when you have two dreams, but Priscila Zortea is beginning to feel the immense satisfaction that comes with achieving both dreams: dancing and acting.
Since graduating from HB Studio’s acting program in New York City, the Brazilian native has been quite busy. Priscila appeared in the regional musicals A Chorus Line, The Music Man, Joseph and the amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, as well as several commercials and industrials, which launched her career into a large list of achievements.
She acted in the feature film A Journey to a Journey directed by Canadian Barry Germansky, the short film Unveiled directed by Klemen Novak, and the webseries Distortion based on super hero fights. She danced with Gotham City Cheerleaders in New York, which is an unofficial dance team that supports the New York Giants, and with them had the opportunity to dance on HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. She also was a dancer in the 2015 season of LA KISS football, making her rock ’n’ roll dream come true.
In a short time, Priscila Zortea, has an ever growing list of achievements. To find out more about this up-and-comer, make sure to read below.
PZ: My mom took me to my first ballet class when I was three years old and I haven’t stopped dancing since! I fell more in love with ballet and performing as each year passed and in a way I knew I wanted to keep doing that. When I was around 12 my dream to become an artist became stronger and I felt like I could talk about it and try to improve myself. I told my dad that I wanted to dance “seriously” and asked if I could attend a better school. We lived in a very small town and there weren’t opportunities available for me. I’m very thankful to have a supportive family! My dad said yes and my mom started driving me to a bigger city an hour away a few times a week so I could take dance classes and perform.
My love for acting also was always there but once again I didn’t know what to do about it. I remember playing in the background of my house as if I was an actress performing something, or I would dress up and sit by the trees and pretend I was Alice in Wonderland, or a character from a TV show I happened to be watching at the time. But there was no way to really go after it. I did some theatre in school but that was about it.
Then also when I was about 12 or 13 I went to my first audition for TV. I read about it on a newspaper, it was an audition for the Brazilian version of Argentinean TV hit Chiquititas. I had no idea what to expect but I went to this audition in the capital of the Estate I lived in. I had a great time, even though I had no idea what I was doing.
What do you like about acting and dancing?
PZ: I think art in general is such a wonderful way to express yourself and connect to other people. I always felt like myself dancing, like my best self, like my true self, like the person I wanted to be. And then when I found out I could also talk it was even better! Acting is an amazing exercise to get to know yourself and I feel like I’m always learning how I truthfully react to things and how I feel about different situations that I don’t get a chance to explore in ‘real life’. Also, the fact that a character has the power to connect to the public, it makes my work even better. It’s such a powerful thing when you can relate to characters you see on TV or films. You can feel like you’re not the only one who’s going through that. You can feel supported. You can feel hopeful. You can dream about a happy ending just like the one you saw and that’s priceless! And as an actor I’m the one who will pass that message to you, the public. And I love that responsibility.
What are the challenges to acting and dancing?
PZ: Being vulnerable in front of strangers, be willing to show your true self, those are challenges to all artists. We just use our experiences and our emotions, and we show the most beautiful and the ugliest things about ourselves. That’s a scary thing. Human beings tend to hide and feel comfortable and by avoiding their honest feeling. Artists are not allowed to do that. It seems vague but those things are a huge part of our daily challenges. A dancer needs to always be in shape, eat well, be strong, have technique, but also be artistic. We need to learn choreography quickly and give a voice to it immediately, and those are lifelong challenges for us. There’s no such thing as perfection but we’re always working towards it. Acting makes you question so much about yourself in different situations and your relation to other people. then you put yourself in a position of being judged for who you are, the way you look, the way you speak, the way you react to things, the limitations people say you have, and much more. You really need a tough skin to keep true to yourself and move forward believing that the answer you have is the right one, and one day you’ll show it to the right person and the right time and it’ll give you a career and sense of fulfillment.
What made you want to move to LA?
PZ: I graduated from a theatre program in New York City and then worked there for a couple of years. I then found an audition to be a dancer for the arena football team LA KISS in Los Angeles and moved here to dance for them last year. It was a dream come true! The owners of the team are Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from the band KISS and I’ve been a huge fan of them since 1997. Rock ’n’ Roll is my biggest passion after acting and dance! I couldn’t believe I got the opportunity to represent their brand!
What are you currently working on?
PZ: I’m in a play called Wonder Women at The Next Stage Theatre in Hollywood. It’s a comedy directed by Chris Berube. I play the role of Mistress. She’s slightly based on the Catwoman and it’s a very fun role. The play is about female super heroes who decide to rebel and go against the league that makes them be sidekicks to male heroes, wear skimpy outfits and never get the job done by themselves. They’re showing that they are better than that and deserve respect!
I’m also collaborating with screenwriter CJ Walley on a short film to be shot in Vancouver in July.
What are your plans for the future?
PZ: I want to be a working actress in American television. I want to help bring even more diversity to what you see on your TV and I want to be an example to everybody who thinks they can’t dream too big because they were born in a small town with no opportunities, or because someone told them they have limitations. I want everything to be possible for me and for anybody who dreams. I dream of being the first Brazilian actress to be respected worldwide and accomplished in different fields.
The innovative game designer and game producer Zi Li has spent years studying various forms of media and entertainment. Originally from Guangdong, China, the experienced creator has demonstrated a proficiency of filmmaking and animation in addition to her expertise in the world of gaming.
With four years of game designing under her belt and two years of game producing, Li is known for her work with companies such as Firefly Games Inc., Floor 84 Game Studio, and Ericsson Communications Company. As a designer, producer and artist, Li has contributed to top, award winning games of various genres, including “Dissonance,” “Leviathan,” “Dungeon Crash,” “Epic Knights,” “Paralect,” and “MiraLab.”
As a game designer, Li’s role is similar to that of a film director’s, where as a game producer is in charge of overseeing the development of a video game, acting as a liaison between everyone involved with the project.
At an early age, Li developed a passion for science and art. “Unlike a lot of game developers, I didn’t fall in love with games first,” Li stated. “I spent more than six years studying paintings. I always thought I could become a part-time artist. Later, I dabbled in animation, however, neither satisfied my needs of expressing my engineering mindset. Eventually, I understood that in the gaming industry, science intersects art. For me, games are a media that allow both areas to collapse together.”
Li first got her start in the industry as a graduate game design student at the University of Southern California (USC). Through her extensive work on various independent projects, Li was able to gradually figure out her strengths, ultimately learning what it takes to become an effective inventor aside from the expected creative and technical aspects. “One of my main strengths is execution,” said Li. “As a game designer and programmer, I can execute myself very well. As a game producer, I can push other people to execute ideas well and understand every aspect of the game.”
Steve Cha, producer and fellow Collaborator on “Dissonance,” raved about Li’s talents. “Zi is not only about coming up with ideas, but also completing them with efficient ways. Dissonance is a game with relatively new gameplay and needed time to implement. Since everything in the game has two shadows, the team needed to make a system that casted two shadows for one object. Some talked about recalculating the vertices and some suggested using black 3D objects to make the shadows. Zi came up with the idea of using two cameras and casting images from these cameras to the walls. Her ideas efficiently solved the issue without slowing down the computing process. Zi can always find efficient ways to solve problems and keep everything running forward simultaneously.”
There are several required characteristics a game designer must have in order to be successful in their career. Every game has a target audience, and as a designer, it is his or her job to be aware of said audience. “Game designers communicate with the players through their games. A game designer should love his or her players and aim to work their design around their audience in order to provide a complete gaming experience,” said Li.
When it comes to her games in particular, Li works hard to engage these qualities that will ensure audience fulfillment as well as personal success in her own designing approach. Commenting on the matter, Li said, “I love being able to see into other people’s minds through their work, and I try to provide my players with a glimpse into my own through mine. My passion is communicating with people through the game as a form of art rather than just being passionate about making a game with no meanings.”
As a designer, it is Li’s responsibility to apply design and aesthetics to a game for its players to enjoy. More often than not, this type of work expresses the theme of the game. “For example,” Li explained, “I came up with the mechanics that translate the idea of psychological concept related to dualism in “Dissonance.” The two shadows involved in the came are casted from different lighting and visualize the abstract concept of dualism. One shadow represents logic and actions, while the other represents intuition and feelings. This approach I’ve created is unique and has never been done before. The game communicates the psychological concept through gameplay and people can see the idea even if they don’t speak the language – one of the main reasons why I believe “Dissonance” gets recognition from so many countries.”
“Dissonance,” an award winning, video game developed by Team Dissonance, is a puzzle-adventure game. After six months of development, what started out as Li’s personal thesis project, expanded to a team of over ten people. The developers transmitted the psychological concept about dualism into the core mechanics of the game to make it more than just a puzzle.
Since it’s initiation, “Dissonance” has received awards such as Most Innovative Game in Indie Prize and Experimental Game Finalist in Out of Index Festival, as well as appreciation from several different countries and organizations.
“I draw inspiration from all sorts of things,” Li answered, when asked from where she draws her ideas. “I often find myself motivated by other media, biology, psychology, and life experiences.” “Orbanism,” a game Li created with her friend Anisha, is inspired by the biology concept of mutualism and interspecific competition. Regarding how the game works, Li said, “It’s a two player game in which players are competing against one another and working as a team to overcome obstacles.”
Similarly, Li’s game called “Greek to Me,” is a game in which each player hears multiple different languages and has to distinguish which is English in order to reach their goal. “The game shows how hard it is for a foreigner to achieve things in a strange country,” said Li, detailing its purpose.
Li’s years of experience in designing and producing video games have allowed her to explore various diverse genres, ultimately rounding out her impressive framework of success. Her projects range from the puzzle genre to games that fall into the category of RPGs, ultimately proving a type of versatility that not every game designer carries.
“Through working on various projects, I can easily understand different aspects of a game and, overall, the image of each project. Though they all vary from one another, every step of the process teaches me new skills and perspectives of game development. These experiences contribute to me becoming a better designer who can be creative and resourceful. Thanks to my past experiences, I have learned how to be a better leader and am very confident approach to game designing and producing,” said Li.
“Dungeon Crash” and “Epic Knights” are two of Li’s mainstream mobile RPG games. With over 1 million download, “Dungeon Crash” was featured at both Android and Apple Stores, and was rated as a top-grossing Android game. With 50,000 downloads from over 100 countries, Li’s “Epic Knights” was rated the same.
Observing Li’s leadership abilities, Annie Chan, associate producer of “Dungeon Crash,” affirmed, “The developers of all games always want to put every fun element into their game, which not only slows down the development, but often creates a lot of bugs. Zi quickly spots this tendency and puts a stop to it. She directs the team to focus on improving the current version of the game and providing users with a user-friendly experience. Since Zi has stepped in and corrected the direction of “Dungeon Crash,” the overall performance of the game as well as its player reviews has gone up.”
Aside from Li’s sought after designing and producing abilities, her work as an art director has also reached a massive number of audience members. As the art director of “Leviathan,” Li is accountable for the overall look and feel of the Leviathan-world, as ensures the quality and style of the world as it is built.
The game itself is a bold and daring mix of virtual reality, augmented reality, cinema, and the novel based on the celebrated steampunk series by Scott Westerfield.
For her role, Li was required to conduct research in order to offer various ideas for the creation of an assortment of creatures for the game. “Zi came up with creatures that carried the story plot and were consistent with the rest of the world,” explained the creative director of “Leviathan,” Sunil Kalwani. “In the ship of “Leviathan,” the main characters need a communication tool. Zi designed Messenger Lizard, which is similar to a mobile phone, which offers an incredible user experience. Messenger Lizard’s skin color can change based on the emotion of the person on the other side. In this way, users can see the visualized emotion of the messages and choose if they would like access to whatever type of emotion or person. Zi’s creativity brings vivid life and a friendly, visualized experience to the Leviathan-world.”
“Leviathan” won the award for New Frontier Project at the Sundance Film Festival and has been featured on The Creators Project, a joint celebrity blog of art and technology by VICE, as well as at the internationally renowned Consumer Electronics Show.
In an industry that is still dominated by males, Li takes pride in being a successful, Asian female game designer. “Every time I’ve attended a game festival, I’ve noticed that the majority of the developers are male,” Li recalled. “As an Asian, female game designer and producer, I realize that my background is definitely different from most of the game developers I know.”
As a child, Li was fascinated with the Asian culture, art pieces that speak universal languages, and struggled with being both logical and sentimental. Now, she’s discovered her voice in the industry, and doesn’t hesitate to own her perspectives, thoughts or feelings. “I like to express my progressive, Feminist views through my work. I am proud to be a woman working in a field that used to be entirely dominated by men. I hope I can bring more of my unique viewpoints to the table and push the game industry to be more progressive with my knowledge and skills,” said Li.
Continuing that thought, Li added, “Contrary to popular belief and stigmatism, games aren’t always products used to simulate violent actions in the virtual world. Games can be used for educational, medical or experimental purposes. For me, I would like people to have fun and also find satisfaction within the spiritual communication through the gameplay when they play my games. That is what I aim to achieve.”
We are all born with unique gifts that make us different from the rest of the masses. Some know from an early age exactly what those gifts are, while others, arguably the majority, have to go through the sometimes grueling process of trial and error before their true ‘purpose’ shines through clearly.
Today, Toronto-based photographer Peter Tamlin is sought out by major companies like cosmetic leaders including MAC, CoverGirl, Revlon and Clairol to jewelry designers such as Dean Davidson and award-winning stylists like Caffrey Van Horne to use his creative eye to capture their products and designs for all the world to see. But, if you asked Tamlin back in high school how his life would look in 10 years, chances are he wouldn’t have predicted himself having a career as an internationally celebrated photographer, but that’s exactly what has happened. After discovering his love for photography at the age of 19, he dove in full force and hasn’t looked back since.
Aside from the impressive list of clients Tamlin has shot for to date, he has also had his personal photography work featured in gallery shows including the “Vision-Perceptions of Light” exhibition at the Warren G. Flowers Gallery in Montreal, Canada.
In 2011 he earned the award for Best Fashion & Beauty Photography from the prestigious Applied Arts Photography & Illustration Awards for the intriguing black and white photo he took of Tea that is featured below. The way he endows the shot with a feeling of movement and the whimsy of a fairy tale make it a difficult photo to take our eyes away from.
Tamlin has shot editorials for a diverse collection of some of the most read magazines around the world including Fashion Magazine, Plastik Magazine, Lush Luxury Magazine, Fantastics Magazine and countless others. While he is continually pushing the boundaries of the mainstream with his personal photography style, what has made him such a success in his field is the fact that he is able to strike a balance between what his clients want and what he finds creatively inspiring.
Regardless of whether they are fashion models donning new designs or products for the various companies that hire him to shoot their ad campaigns, Tamlin is a miracle worker when it comes to creating the perfect lighting to capture his subjects. His unique ability to light a model’s skin in a way that glows effortlessly while still looking natural was a huge draw factor for Shoppers Drug Mart, which hired him to shoot their Glowing Skin campaign in 2013.
To find out more about photographer Peter Tamlin, what inspires him and how he got to where he is today, make sure to check out our interview below. You can also check out more of his work through his website: http://www.petertamlin.com/
Where are you from and how did you first begin learning photography?
PT: I was born in Scarborough, but raised in a small town named Stouffville, both in Ontario, Canada. I’m now based in Toronto.
When I was 18, one of the first friends I met in Toronto was a photographer and was an assistant to famed photographer David Lachappelle. My friend would always show me David’s photography books and expose me to the many types of pop-culture photography coming out of New York. When I was 19, I bought my first 35mm film camera and began shooting and experimenting.
Are you self-taught or did you go to school to study photography?
PT: When I was 23, I moved to Montreal and enrolled in the Dawson Institute of Photography. It was a two year program and I graduated at the top of my class.
What is it about photography that first inspired you to pursue it as a profession?
PT: Basically, I love the idea of being creative and creating artwork that is captivating and original. Professionally, I detested the idea of working a 9-5 job and doing the same thing everyday. I wanted a career where I could always be setting new goals and where there is no limit to the success I could have.
I also wanted flexibility with my schedule and to be able to work when and where I want. I love the idea of being able to travel as well.
Can you tell our readers about some of the projects you’ve shot?
PT: In Jan 2015, I was hired as photographer for a campaign and hair competition shoot for Aveda Canada and specifically for Civello, which is an Aveda Salon in Toronto. Over the course of two days we shot 7 different models, each with different hairstyles. The photos were used in a campaign and also entered in the NAHA’s (North American Hair Styling Awards) and also the Constessa’s, which is a Canadian hairstyling competition. The entry was named a finalist in the CONTESSA Awards for Canadian Salon Team.
I was hired for this shoot by Aveda Canada’s Creative Director, Kristjan Hayden. I worked directly with Kristjan to develop the direction for the shoot. The concept was based on movement and motion of the hair, so with the specific lighting I developed with Kristjan, I was able to use a special effect to illustrate the movement.
I believe the reason I was asked to be involved in this project was because of my unique creative vision and my ability to bring original and captivating ideas to this project. Hair photography is not only about showing the detail in the hairstyles, but also about presenting the hairstyles in creative and interesting ways. I think the specific lighting, set, special effects and retouching treatment I produced for this shoot are extremely unique, interesting and effective.
In 2013 I was hired to produce the Glowing Skin advertising campaign for Canada’s largest drugstore chain, Shoppers Drug Mart.For the Glowing Skin Campaign, we shot 4 different models in one day. The purpose of the shoot was to showcase clean, healthy, glowing skin. The photos were used in a national advertising campaign, appearing on billboards, in stores, newspapers, magazines, online and many other advertising outlets.
I was hired again as photographer for Shopper’s Drug Mart in 201 for their 30 Days of Beauty campaign. We shot 30 different models ranging in age from 16-60, over seven days. The purpose of the campaign was to showcase diversity in beauty. Again, the photos were used in a national advertising campaign appearing on billboards, in stores, newspapers, magazines, online and many other advertising outlets, as well. Each model was featured for each day in September 2014.
It was extremely important for these projects that the lighting capture the detail on the skin and the texture and colour of the products used. The lighting I used for both shoots was designed specifically to the needs of each campaign. For the Glowing skin campaign, it was very important that the skin looks healthy and glowing. The lighting that I designed incorporated many different light sources from multiple directions giving the skin enhanced luminosity.
For the 30 Days of Beauty campaign, it was very important that we showcased diversity in beauty, but in many different ethnicities and ages. The lighting that I used was softer and more flattering than standard beauty lighting. This meant that the light helped highlight and enhance each model’s own beauty.
Early in 2015 I was hired by Dean Davidson, a top Toronto based Canadian jewelry designer, to shoot his spring/summer campaign. Being the first time I had a chance to shoot for Dean, I wanted to do something completely original for him, so I suggested that we have the model pose in a pool of water. The model’s name was Hannah Donker from Elite Models in Toronto.
Then in October Dean approached me to shoot his fall/winter campaign. Again, I wanted to do something original, so I suggested shooting in a set of mirrors. The model’s name was Emily Van Raay and she’s represented by Anita Norris Models in London, ON. I worked with a very talented team with Greg Wencel doing the hair and makeup, and George Antonopoulos as the stylist. Both shoots were a great success and very well received.
In June I was hired to shoot an editorial for the September issue of FASHION Magazine, which is Canada’s leading fashion magazine. The editorial was titled “Team Spirit” and the theme for it was androgyny. It was a 10 page editorial and we shot in the ballroom of the historic King Edward Hotel in Toronto. The editorial featured two models, Alice Ma, represented by NEXT Models and David Chiang, represented by Ciotti Models, both in Toronto. Hair and makeup was by Susana Hong and the Fashion Director was George Antonopoulos. The editorial featured many top fashion brands including DSquared, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Gucci and Dries Van Noten.
Most of my work is photography, but I am also inspired by music videos and films, so over the past few years I have branched out in that direction. In 2013, I was hired to produce and direct and show package video for one of the top male modeling agencies in Toronto, Elite Model’s.
In one day, we shot nine different male models in the studio in front of a black background. The video was black and white and high contrast. I really enjoyed the editing process of the project and I was able to experiment and create with many different filters and effects. Even though the video is very different from my photography work, it was very popular and gained over ten thousand views online.
What has been your most memorable shoot?
PT: I would have to say that most memorable shoot would be the Elite Models video. It was a project where I had no restrictions or limits to what I could do. I was able to experiment with editing and effects and create something very bold and original. Also, it was great working with all of the models. Shooting photos can sometimes be tedious, but shooting this project was very exciting and enjoyable. It is probably the one project that has gotten me the most exposure.
What is inspiring you as a photographer now?
PT: It’s hard to say what inspires me now. My inspiration changes daily. At the moment I am really inspired to do shoots that are very dark and macabre. When the industry is moving into a more bright and fresh mood for Spring, my gut is telling me to go in the other direction.
Aside from the jobs that you are hired on to shoot, how would you describe your personal photography style?
PT: Captivating, dramatique, intense and unique. My main priority as a photographer and visual artist is to always be creating work that is original and reject the “norm.”
I always try to go against the grain and turn convention on its head. My most successful projects have been ones where I did something unexpected. I also enjoy experimenting with contrasting colours.
How much freedom do you have when it comes to creating the direction of a shoot for brands like Mac and Covergirl?
PT: Unfortunately, with those two clients specifically, I don’t have much freedom. For Covergirl, the direction was very conservative and commercial. Basically, it was a standard beauty shoot. We shot a pretty model with 4 or 5 makeup looks. The lighting was very basic in order to show off the product.
Clients like Dean Davidson, Greta Constantine and Aveda are the ones that give me more creative control. I generally have no limits to how creative I can go with the direction for those shoots.
Do you have a specific area of interest or subjects that you prefer to focus on with your photography?
PT: Commercial. I like to focus on conceptual beauty and hair projects. I find that I can be more creative in that area than the standard fashion shoots.
For my creative work, I like focus on models or subjects that are unusual, bizarre and outside of the norm. I like photographing unique characters that don’t fit in the fashion industry’s molds.
How do you keep productive and retain your creative edge?
PT: I try to keep productive by always exposing myself to different and new experiences and people. I’m constantly researching new concepts and lightings. The best way I’ve been able to retain my creative edge is by always pushing myself to do what no one else is doing, being original and pushing boundaries.
What has been some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
PT: The best advice I’ve received wasn’t actually from a photographer, but one of my best friends. When discussing what career path I should take, he said I should “do what I love.” It was really the catalyst for me to pursue photography professionally.
What special advice would you like to share with other photographers?
PT: Don’t follow trends.
Do what makes you happy.
Who are some of your favorite photographers?
PT: David LaChappelle, Steven Klein, Mert & Marcus, Txema Yeste and Solve Sundsbo.
What equipment would we find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot?
PT: Generally, I shoot with a Canon 5d Mark II, my MacBook Pro, and a Profoto ComPact-R kit and lots of colour gels.
What lighting equipment do you favor and why?
PT: Profoto is the brand I learnt with and probably the most popular and versatile.
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