Category Archives: Producer

Aiming For a Dream, Producer Angel Cassani Strikes it Hot in Hollywood with the UFC

Producer Angel Cassani
Producer Angel Cassani

“While working in financing I dreamt of myself one day working in films in the famous Hollywood, California,” says Angel Diego Cassani, a Latin American expert financier who is conquering Hollywood today.

Angel is a veteran financier with more than 15 years in the field of financing and filmmaking. He started Global Capital Markets Group in Chile, Colombia and Peru, a big multi-national client portfolio including BellSouth, Motorola, Avon, and more. He has now brought his expertise in financing to his true passion – film making.

The film business operates in the creative sphere, but first and foremost it is a business. So, in 2008 Angel Cassani, who understands both entertainment and financing, came up with a brilliant idea to capitalize on the tremendous popularity of the UFC at that time. The UFC was and is still today, the highest growing sport in the world, and was featured that year on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Prize fighters and show business have been drawn to each other through history. Jack Dempsey, a heavyweight champion during the movie explosion of the roaring 20’s did not defend his title for 3 years, instead he headed to Hollywood with his actress wife Estelle Taylor, and made a dozen films while the leading contenders kicked their heels. In 1952, Sugar Ray Robinson retired from boxing after unsuccessfully challenging for the light heavyweight title, the great fighter put his skills to good use and went on tour as a dancer, earning $15,000 a week at that time. Robinson had parts in movies alongside, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando, and many others.

Angel had the brilliant idea of using the popularity of the UFC and began approaching heavy-hitters, and Hollywood players, as well as the studio Lionsgate, which immediately jumped at Angel’s out-of-the box creativity of and signed a six picture deal with him and his partner Hector Echavarria, a famous world martial arts champion, and film and television star from Argentina.

There are clear parallels between the life of an actor and the life of a prize fighter. The structure of the two industries is almost identical at the top of the tree.

“An elite few are well rewarded,” says Angel. The titles that Angel was crucial in closing these deals with the famous Hollywood studio. This joint venture led to pictures like “Confessions of a Pit Fighter” with famous movie star Armand Assante, as well as “Death Warrior,” “Unrivaled,” “Never Surrender,” and “Chavez Cage of Glory.”

Film Poster for "Never Surrender"

These films not only started the cinematic career of UFC prize fighters Quinton Jackson and Georges St-Pierre, aka GSP, who would both later on be cast in giant Hollywood projects like the remake of “The A-Team,” and the “Captain America” series, but also generate millions in profits for Lionsgate who invested a small amount in the pictures that yielded a tenfold return on investment.

That is when Angel Cassani began to dream even bigger. Other Hollywood studios approached him to do the same deal with Lionsgate but Angel turned them down and decided to move on and produce big Hollywood pictures. Angel and his partner, Hector Echavarria, then teamed up with iconic Hollywood legend, Ronald Shusett, whose movies, which include titles such as “Alien,” “Total Recall,” and other hits grossed over 1.5 billion at the box office.

Over the years of acting as a financial manager, Angel managed a number of due diligence engagements, such as acquisitions, disposals and debt restructuring projects and was often involved in assisting foreign investors in identifying and understanding the differences between Argentine GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), IAS (Internal Accounting Standards) and U.S. GAAP depending on the origination of a target business. Angel also manages acquisitions, merger, sales, debt rescheduling for companies like Super Canal, Grupo Uno and Multimedios in Latin America. All of these companies related to the entertainment industry.

“It was there that I realized that my dreams one day may be a reality,” says Angel.

Now Angel is working with other A-list Hollywood directors and actors and is ready to launch his own Hollywood studio. Angel is currently producing three Hollywood films including “Last Tango,” “Hit man’s Funeral” and “Hunter.” “Last Tango” will be directed by Steven Campanelli who was the cameraman for Clint Eastwood for more than 20 years on films like “Million Dollar Baby,” “Sully,” “Grand Torino,” etc. Campanelli also directed “Momentum” with Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman. “Hit Man’s Funeral” was written by TJ Mancini who also wrote “Find me Guilty” for Vin Diesel and produced films like “Riddick” and the Sundance Film Festival nominated film, “Stray.”

“Hit Man’s Funeral” is an Irish gangster story– think “The Usual Suspects” meets “Reservoir Dogs,” offering a peek inside the gritty world of dangerous hitmen, where no one can be trusted and everyone’s a suspect.

“My goal in film is to work with the best people in the industry and create a piece of work I can truly be honored by, which is incredibly difficult but it’s the challenge and risk that makes it so exciting,” says Angel.

Producer Angel Cassani has secured himself as a top producer in the international entertainment industry; and the formation of his new Hollywood film studio has brought the attention of the Hollywood elite to him. Angel is one of the few people in the world that can say that he did everything he dreamt of doing in his life and being part of the Hollywood history is one of his biggest accomplishments.

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Producer Katie Horbury is essential for Disney channel hit

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Katie Horbury

When Katie Horbury decided to pursue a career as a television producer, she knew that she had her work cut out for her. Amidst fierce competition, grueling hours, and unpredictable schedules, she would have to come out on top. The now esteemed television producer knows that if she were to go back in time and share with herself the key to her success, it would be to make her dream her number one priority, and to make sure that she stops at absolutely nothing to make it her reality. Early on in her career, she moved away from family and friends and worked odd hours, oftentimes sacrificing weekends and holidays to gain as much experience and knowledge in her field as possible. Fortunately, it all paid off. In the entertainment industry, reputations are paramount and as a result of her unwavering drive, Horbury’s is world-renowned.

As Horbury became more established in her career and took on more prestigious roles, her name became a staple in television production. Having lent her talents to hit television shows like Big Brother, Don’t Tell the Bride, and Come Dine with Me, Horbury is well-versed in producing high quality content for reality television. Her job requires her to take an idea from a script or a project outline and bring it to life. She needs to be able to capture the emotional response that her audience is intended to feel and communicate it to them creatively and meaningfully.

“In pre-production, I must be able to visualize the final product, plan how to achieve it, and be able to communicate that to my team to ensure that everyone is working toward the exact same goal. During production and shooting, I have to create a buzzing but professional atmosphere to allow the entire team to function confidently and to the highest standard possible. This usually has to be done under harsh time constraints, so I have to keep the momentum up for the duration of the project. Finally, the edit is where the magic happens. Everything I envisioned in pre-production, and hopefully even more, comes together here when myself and my editor wrap up our work,” stated Horbury.

Horbury considers the highlight of her esteemed career to have been in her lead production role for Disney Channel Vlog. The show’s tremendous success is a reflection of Horbury’s natural affinity for producing. Horbury, who is no stranger to producing for large audiences, was particularly humbled by Disney Channel Vlog’s 3.5 million views and 300% increase in viewership since she took over the role of Director and Producer. For the first time in her career, Horbury was working with a very small team and had the opportunity to showcase her ideas and her ideas alone. For a producer used to working with hundreds of team members, she was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed managing a smaller, more intimate group of individuals. To date, she has been the mastermind behind 52 episodes of the hit show, each littered with her ideas, scripts, edits, and more.

Disney Channel Vlog airs weekly, featuring two teenage hosts and targets children between the ages of 8 and 16. The Vlog has three segments and shows all of the latest Disney channel shows, DIYs, spoof music videos, comedy skits, hosts that talk about issues concerning teens today, and more. During pre-production, Horbury generates all of the concepts behind the show’s content, ensuring that every segment promotes the Disney Channel in a natural, compelling way. She has the distinct pleasure of creating and pitching a series of ideas to Disney and writing each script from start to finish. During production, she composes and decorates each set to appeal to her audience and appear fun, colorful and engaging. She then produces and directs the talent and camera crew while shooting. Once production concludes, Horbury masterfully edits all material gathered to make sure that only the best footage is kept. She adds her finishing touches in the form of after effects, visual and sound effects, graphics, etc., and the result is profound. Viewers are eager to tune in again on a weekly basis and consume whatever great content Horbury has to offer them that week.

In addition to Horbury’s satisfied viewers, she is used to receiving positive feedback from her co-workers. She differentiates herself by her ability to inspire her crew and make them feel at ease when they work with her, keeping them up to speed with her visions and addressing any questions or concerns they have along the way. Heather Nair, who works closely with Horbury on Disney Channel Vlog, witnesses Horbury’s remarkable talents on a daily basis for the show and considers herself lucky to work with such an unprecedented producer.

“Working with Katie is an absolute dream. She knows exactly what she wants, is decisive, and very knowledgeable in her field of work. She has such a magnetic personality with a fantastic sense of humor. She is so good at what she does because she is incredibly sharp and on the ball. She is also extremely creative. On this show, not only does she script and direct each shoot, but she comes up with all of the ideas for each segment,” said Nair.

For Horbury, working for Disney Channel Vlog has been a dream come true. Not only does she get to do what she loves, she has the satisfaction of knowing that she has been a positive influence in the lives of young viewers. She hopes to continue to inspire children to pursue their dreams as feverishly as she has through the content she creates for them and takes pride in knowing that 10-year old Katie Horbury is living her dreams to their fullest extent.

Producer Antonio Vigna connects with his culture in new film ‘Dia de Muertos’

Antonio Vigna had dreams of being an actor ever since he was a child. When he first watched a film, he pictured himself in front of the camera, stepping into another’s shoes and showing the world his passion. However, what Vigna did not anticipate was his love for being behind the camera, helping put together every aspect of a film. Now, as both an actor and producer, Vigna is known internationally for what he does.

As an actor, Vigna has shown the world his talent in films such as Perfection and Klaazor. Working behind the scenes, his work producing the films Camilla and Consumemate contributed to the films great success at many international film festivals. The highlight of Vigna’s career, however, comes from producing the film Dia de Muertos (English translation to Day of the Dead), which allowed him to connect with his Mexican heritage.

“Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of my favorite traditions from my country, so the moment I was told to produce a script that had the tradition as part of it, I wanted to be involved in the film, no matter what,” said Vigna.

The film follows a young Mexican woman struggles to keep on living after the death of her loved one, but during the Mexican holiday, The Day of the Dead, she experiences a contact with him that changes her life. It was written by Laura Gudiño, who also starred in the film. Gudiño knew of Vigna’s work, and knew she needed a producer of his caliber to take her film to a success.

“Antonio was my producer and he helped me so much and made the whole process easy. In this industry, you always want people who are easy going, that you know you can work with them for days, and he’s definitely a person you’d like to have in any team. Antonio has great work ethic. He is very responsible and creative. In addition to that, he is an easy going, friendly person so in any project I have worked with him, I know everything will be alright,” said Gudiño. “I think in this industry, the more you know about it and the more you explore, the more you understand everybody’s job and the more valuable you are. Antonio has been a reporter, a journalist, an actor, a producer, an AD, a writer, etc. I believe, thanks to all of that journey, he has become very good at anything he does. Knowledge opens doors, and he has definitely opened many.”

Because Vigna knew he would be working on the film months before pre-production, he had time to put together the ideal team. He believes it is the best crew he has ever made. He also decided on the process for the film. Initially, the supporting actor was not going to have to audition, but Vigna knew to hire a casting director and have a formal casting for the film in order to find the best person. After the auditions, they cast someone else, rather than the original actor, knowing that with such a small cast, it was necessary to have the perfect person. Without Vigna, this would not have happened.

Initially, the casting director wanted Vigna to audition for the role, but he refused. He wanted to make sure the film was the best it could be, and for him to do that, he would have had to step away from producing to focus on creating the character.

“I declined the offer to act in the film, as I had already a few months working on it as a Producer. I don’t regret it at all, since this is one of the films that I’m most proud of,” said Vigna.

The decision proved to be the right one, as the film made its way to some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. After premiering at the Film Festival of Cannes 2017 Short Film Corner, it made its way to the Los Angeles San Rafael Film Festival, Tulipanes Film Festival, and the Cinetekton Film Festival. However, the awards and accolades are not as important to the producer. For Vigna, the passion he felt for the story helped his drive, ensuring that every decision he made, every road block he overcame, was perfect. The Latino passion, he says, was felt on set all the time, even though most of the people there were not Hispanic at all. 

“I think that I liked the fact that we were portraying a Mexican tradition at its best on screen. Most of the films out there from our country talk about drugs or corruption, but we took just one of the beauties in our culture, to share it with everyone in the world,” Vigna concluded. “Most of the people don’t know the best parts of our Latino culture, so it’s important to show the other side of the coin. Also, there are Latinos all over the world, who can feel identify with the film, and reconnect with Dia de Muertos. It’s hard when you weren’t born in our country to feel it just like us, especially having Halloween, shadowing it, so strongly in United States, even among the Hispanic culture. So, we need to keep our traditions with their meanings strong enough for everyone appreciate it as we do.”

Producer Cassie Friedman is ‘one stop shop’ for Studio Lambert

Cassie Friedman describes her producing style as hands-on and hungry. If something needs to get done, she jumps right in. The Development Producer became one of the best in her home country of Canada, working for some of the country’s largest broadcasters and on popular news programs. Despite such success, she remains humble, knowing that you can’t achieve greatness without the help of others.

“I’m big on collaborating. As nice as it would be to have a huge vision and execute all the pieces yourself, that’s not realistic and would probably grow isolating after a while. The fun of producing is working with great teams, so I love helping my co-workers with their tasks or projects and vice versa. I’m very lucky that I’ve only worked in environments where my co-workers have been more supportive and collaborative than competitive with one another,” said Friedman.

Now, Friedman has taken her talents abroad, working with the independent production company Studio Lambert, based in Los Angeles and London. She has worked as Manager of Development at Studio Lambert for over a year, greatly contributing to the acclaim of several television shows, such as Second Wives Club on E!, Growing Up Evancho on TLC and seasons 8 & 9 of Undercover Boss on CBS. She has worked for projects on even more major networks with the production company, such as FOX, ABC, NBC, LIFETIME, and A&E.   

“Cassie is an extreme asset to the company.  She has an incredible eye for talent as well having the intellect to develop shows,” said Rich Leist, Supervising Casting Producer at All3Media America. “Cassie is phenomenal at her job and has the best attitude. It is a pleasure to work with her because she is creative, hits deadlines, and has an excellent understanding of the television industry. Cassie has many quality skills that make her an asset to the company. She can find talent, edit, create pitch documents and sell a concept. Cassie is a one stop shop for us.”

While working on various shows, Friedman has impressed many of her colleagues at Studio Lambert. She takes on many tasks, from development to casting. She also works on many network-funded and internal development projects for the company, including writing, producing and editing sizzle reels, heading up casting, writing and producing detailed decks, producing and developing segments for shows, and field producing for various TV projects. While taking on so much responsibility, Friedman is still loving what she does.

“I am extremely lucky to work at Studio Lambert. Some days, as I’m driving to work, I check-in and smile because I am doing what I set out to do – working in television in Los Angeles. My work consists of many different roles on various projects. In the morning, I could be casting therapists to host a family show and in the afternoon, I could be scanning evidence binders for a true crime show,” she said. “What I love about working at Studio Lambert is the drive of everyone I’m surrounded by. Our team, along with the teams at All3Media America, our parent company, is always driven to do our best work. And the next best part is seeing something you worked on air across the continent, that story you’re telling making its way into people’s homes and starting a conversation.”

Friedman is incredibly versatile, with a wide range of talents beyond simply producing. This immediately impressed with Vice President and President of Studio Lambert during their first meeting. Friedman’s experience in television, writing and on digital projects was extremely comprehensive at just 27-years-old. She had produced live TV for more than two years, but had also spent time working in the start-up world in Silicon Beach. Her ambition was highly-regarded.

“Studio Lambert has a fantastic history. The original production company dates back to the 1950s, as a successful UK production company. Being from Canada, with close ties to family friends back in the UK, I always felt connected to that part of the world. So, on top of the current Studio Lambert being an extremely successful, Emmy-winning production company, with unbelievably talented producers leading it, I also appreciated the company’s history. It felt like a team and family I wanted to be a part of from day one,” said Friedman.

On an average week, Friedman touches at least five to ten different projects, all in different stages of development. This could be anything from research, outreach for a potential show idea, meeting with artists and creators, casting, producing decks or sizzle reels, producing pilots, development notes for shows in production. Friedman’s high level of organization is essential to such a workload, and she meets the challenge easily.

She works closely with her team, not making a major decision without consulting her coworkers to make sure it will work for everyone. She values their opinions, and also uses her knowledge in the industry to make decisions on her own that will benefit everyone. This was exemplified when she wrote and designed the pitch deck for the company’s show Growing Up Evancho, which aired on TLC just last month. She designed the deck specifically for TLC, getting ideas by looking at the posters for the network’s current shows. She did the same thing for Second Wives Club on E!.

Working in development, Friedman is often one of the first people to touch a project. “It’s so thrilling, because every project has the potential to become a major hit. Pitching, researching and casting sets the tone of the show for the network. We set things up so the next team can hit the ground running into pre-production and production,” she said.

Friedman also enjoys meeting all sorts of people while she is working, not just those in her industry, but those in her stories all over the world. There was one instance at Studio Lambert when she was casting a show with youth sports coaches around America. She dove into that world, infiltrating sports-parents Facebook groups and connecting with that community. She got to call and Skype with coaches all over the country, hearing about their lives, jobs, etc. This passion for what she does keeps her going every day.

“It is so cool learning about worlds I know nothing about. And that happens all the time as a producer. You dive deep into new environments. No day is the same. No project is the same. That is one of my favorite parts of my job” she concluded.

Producer Rosie Kinane-Adams talks ‘America’s Got Talent’ and working with her idol Simon Cowell

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Rosie Kinane-Adams

There was never any other choice for Rosie Kinane-Adams; she always wanted to be a producer. It was more than just about wanting to behind the camera, she has an extraordinary ability to hear someone’s story and find the aspect that makes it different. There are so many stories that have been told over and over again in the same way, whether it be in reality television or film, but Kinane-Adams instinctively knows how to find that angle that makes audiences remember what they just watched. She knows that everyone has a uniqueness to them that is interesting, and finding that uniqueness and telling that story is what makes Kinane-Adams such a renowned producer, and why she loves what she does. Each job is a puzzle to her, and each piece is put together but how to properly tell the story.

Kinane-Adams has worked all around the world doing what she loves. She is internationally renowned, working at the forefront of the film and television industry. She has a resume filled with achievements, and has greatly contributed to the success of shows such as The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, Married at First Sight, Masterchef, and First Dates. By working on these formats across the world, Kinane-Adams is able to bring the best of each country’s production techniques, and combine them to be at the height of it all globally. However, it was working on the award-winning show America’s Got Talent that was the highlight of Kinane-Adams’ esteemed career.

“Working with Simon Cowell has been beyond a doubt the highlight of my career. He is an incredibly talented executive producer and on-screen talent, and growing up in England, watching the X-Factor, it was beyond my dreams that I would ever be working with him on America’s Got Talent, one of the biggest shows in the world. He was an idol of mine throughout my career, so to be working with him was inspirational,” said Kinane-Adams.

After seeing success on the hit game show The Price is Right, Kinane-Adams was approached to work on America’s Got Talent by Fremantle Media. The show was on its eighth season, with vast success and an outstanding reputation. They knew they needed someone with an eye for story in order to eventually lead a story team that would create and pursue interesting and unique stories and bring the level of storytelling to a new high.

“My focus throughout my career in television, and at America’s Got Talent, has been story telling. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has something interesting about them that the rest of the world wants to know. Especially on America’s Got Talent, these people have had the most interesting lives. The hardest part of my job is choosing one part of these people’s lives to focus on, because they are all truly some of the most interesting and creative people in the world,” she described.

From seasons eight to ten, Kinane-Adams’ role on the show as a producer was to create the most innovative packages for each act possible. It was essential that the quality of work Kinane-Adams was creating was some of the best in the industry- from story right through to camera techniques. On a show as successful as America’s Got Talent, the pressure is high to be the best, and Kinane-Adams storytelling talents was evident with each episode she worked on.

“It was important being on a show as successful as America’s Got Talent, that we were seen to be showing America, not only the best and most unique talent, but also the height of sophistication in terms of how we were filming things, whether this be the camera techniques, or the creative ideas for opens to the show,” she said. “America’s Got Talent is the most successful talent show in the world. It is the epitome of the American Dream, and really shows the world what people are capable of. It has been by far the highlight of my career to work on a show reaching tens of millions of people internationally. The ‘Got Talent’ format is available in 69 countries and has reached over 500 million people worldwide, and that’s a really amazing thing to be a part of.”

In addition to her story producing responsibilities, Kinane-Adams worked on post-production with an editor, bringing the interviews, b-roll and performance together to create segments of the show. She also worked in the casting department where she would scout for the best talent in the country, whether that be online, at events, or at open call casting days. This commitment to the show and each contestant’s story impressed everyone she worked with.

“I first met Rosie working on America’s Got Talent in 2012 when she joined the story team as a producer. I was immediately impressed with how she stepped into an established show with such poise and professionalism, instantly becoming an essential member of our team. She came in not only with fresh, creative ideas, but the ability to execute them efficiently, keeping a positive, problem-solving attitude throughout even our longest shoot days,” said Lindsay Tuggle, Senior Producer. “Rosie has been one of my favorite producers to work with in my 10+ years in the reality realm. She’s reliable and hardworking, endlessly creative, and a pleasure to be around. It doesn’t matter if she’s setting up logistics for a complicated shoot, coming up with a creative way to visually tell a story, directing cameras in the field or putting it all together in post-production, you know Rosie is going to tackle whatever she takes on with a refreshingly positive attitude, which can sometimes be scarce in this industry.”

“Rosie is an especially good producer because she has the ability to see projects through from conception to delivery. While many producers are only experienced in one aspect of production, Rosie has experience in every single step of the process, which makes her an invaluable asset to any team she’s on. She understands each small piece of the puzzle, but because of her keen eye for storytelling, she never loses sight of the bigger picture,” Tuggle added.

Although the show has been the most popular show of the summer for its thirteen seasons, during Kinane-Adams time, it was also nominated for a TV Choice Award and a Critics Choice Award. She worked with hundreds of contestants each day, and instilled a complicated system in order to ensure that they shot all the content they needed to shoot, and that it was of the highest quality and had that each contestant had content that had a unique stamp on it. This highly complex system is still in place today and ensures that post production has everything they need to create the successful show that they do. She has greatly contributed to the show’s recent success, and she loved every minute of her time there.

“Another wonderful aspect of the job is working with such incredible judging talent. Mel B, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern and Heidi Klum are all incredibly talented people within their field, and take their job on the show very seriously. Their passion for helping people’s dreams come true is evident, and to interview them on the acts and film with them backstage during stage breaks has been a highlight of my career,” Kinane-Adams concluded.

RAFAEL THOMASETO KEEPS THEM COMING BACK FOR MORE

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A producer is the closest thing the entertainment industry has to a parental figure. As the head of any production, this individual oversees every aspect from beginning to end and ensures that it all runs smoothly. It’s a tiresome and exhausting vocation, the main reward of which is getting more of the same work. A producer will tell you that they choose this vocation because they love the creative process and being surrounded by others who take part in it. For a successful producer, diversity is the key. Similar to directors, a producer’s work on a notable ad campaign can mean as much (or more) recognition and compensation than on a film or TV presentation. The career of Rafael Thomaseto encompasses all of these different creations, leaving him in the enviable position of having an eclectic body of work and possibilities to pursue. His resume encompasses a strong list of production credits, including independent films, commercials for major brands (such as Chanel, Samsung, Nissan and Jose Cuervo), the clip of the song “Perfect Illusion” by the iconic Lady Gaga and the production of videos for the YouTube. The common thread among all these is the talent and work ethic he possesses. The best advertisement is performing your job with excellence and the word is out about Thomaseto.

As producer of the film “Inherent Greed” (Directed by Zachary Wanerman), Rafael oversaw this production which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and also impressed Louie Torrellas (CEO of Ambitious Media Productions). Torrellas relates, “One of the executive producers on the film recommended Rafael to my company, Ambitious Media, which was in charge of producing Inherent Greed. We hired him and he instantly took over the project and made it work, to great acclaim. Our first partnership was such a success that as soon as I received the briefing of the entire media production for LA Style Fashion Week, Rafael was the first name that popped into my mind. It was going to be a challenging job but I was sure he was qualified and experienced enough to handle it. Again, my expectations were attained. Once Rafael joins a project, he will do anything possible to make it work and to make it the best.”

Hired by Ambitious Media as head of production for the city’s biggest fashion event would seem to be a completely different environment than that of a soundstage or location shoot for a film however, Thomaseto’s skill set is equally applicable to both. Though Los Angeles Style Fashion Week has been around in some incarnation since the 70’s, the past decade has seen it evolve into a much more expansive and widely attended event. The city and the industry have taken an obvious step towards using their entertainment producing infrastructure to promote the fashion scene as a major player worldwide. While the surroundings and the players are different than the ones he is so accustomed to, many of the applications of Rafael’s abilities are lateral. Instead of overseeing a film production, he developed a documentary which showed the increase of the fashion scene in LA. Locating and hiring the director, cinematographer, and film/photography crew to shoot interviews with the major players in the fashion industry as well as the big name models who would be appearing at the event; all these were familiar procedures for Rafael though they were in a wildly differing venue. The producer notes that his ability to bring aboard world renowned fashion photographer Lemuel Punderson as the main director for the production was a particular source of pride.

A complete dichotomous experience of working with the beautiful people, Thomaseto’s past success on a number of productions for Traverse Media resulted in them hiring him as part of the production team for the experimental “Crypt TV.” Traverse Media, a production and talent management company committed to creative and enterprising content and filmmakers, hired Thomaseto as part of their Production team coordinating the project for Crypt TV. Crypt TV is a digital genre brand co-founded by Jack Davis and horror icon Eli Roth. Declaring its motto as “#WeirdIsGood”, Crypt TV creates and distributes dark, edgy, and scary video content on Facebook and across its family of publisher sites. One year after launch, with 2 million direct social followers and a syndication network of 2.5 million unique monthly visitors on the sites in its network, Crypt TV has quickly become the fastest growing leader in digital productions of this genre. In addition to working with the best up-and-coming filmmakers across the world, Crypt TV creates engaging original video content directly for the Top Hollywood Studios including: Universal, Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Netflix, and others. Crypt TV is uniting fans and creating a movement that’s redefining what the future of the genre among millennials.

Although hired on shortly before the shoot, Rafael quickly solidified all aspects of the production of the three short films which Traverse created for Crypt TV: “Lust Kills” (62,000 VIEWS), “Gluttony Kills” (371,000 views), & Sloth Kills (272,000 views). These three films were produced in just a matter of weeks and had received several thousand views in a mere matter of hours after being released. The expediency and process by which entertainment is created and delivered continues to evolve with technology and the public’s sensitivity to it but the need for professionals like Rafael Thomaseto will be a constant throughout these changes, as will the need of entities like Ambitious Media Productions and Traverse Media. The upcoming projects which Thomaseto is currently involved in with both companies assures this fact. The new edition of LA Fashion Week (which is a biannual event), an indie feature film in 2018, and several short films (a continuation of his partnership with Crypt TV) will all add to the association that Rafael has with both Ambitious Media Productions and Traverse Media in the very near future.

 

FILMMAKING WITH TALENT AND HEART: ZHENG HUANG

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

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

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

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

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

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