Category Archives: Producer

Annick Jaëgy talks dressing-up, showing up, and watching her dreams come true

Some say that playing dress-up begins during childhood and never truly ends. As we age, and we experience the ups and downs that life has to offer, we do our best to look our parts and to make our way in the world. For as long as she can remember, Annick Jaëgy has had a certain fascination with playing dress-up. When she was a child, her mother would allow Annick and her friends to explore her closet, trying on her 1960’s-style outfits and “playing pretend” in her wedding dress. Annick fondly recalls the way that way dressing-up in her mother’s old clothes made her feel; she felt alive in the stories that she and her friends created through the clothing and Annick knew that no matter where her life carried her, she would always have a desire to bring her ideas to life and to share them with the world around her.

Despite the fact that Annick and her friends no longer find themselves rummaging through her mother’s closet and pretending to be the characters in their make-believe worlds, she still feels a strong connection with the emotions and creativity that those memories instilled in her.

Nowadays, she spends her time nurturing her career as a successful film producer and does everything in her power to share the joys that she learned from a young age with audiences all over the world. With over fifteen years of experience in media and production, Jaëgy takes great pride in her ability to identify a great story when she sees one and works tirelessly to bring those stories to the big screen for film fanatics to enjoy at their leisure.

“I have learned that producers need to be able to tell a great script from a mediocre one, so having a creative spark has definitely helped me. As well, having vision has been crucial. Most importantly, however, having the business acumen and salesmanship necessary to execute that vision is paramount. You cannot turn a writer’s ground-breaking idea into reality without the right amount of funding, nor without a strong team behind it. You need to actually make it happen, by pulling together all the different strands,” shared Annick Jaëgy.

Fortunately for Annick, she has mastered each of those strands. Because she wasn’t always aware that production was her calling, she worked her way through the entertainment industry, trying her hand at various different jobs involved in filmmaking and learning the ins and outs of each one. It didn’t take her long to realize that she had a pressing desire to be involved in content and getting to have her hands on every aspect of the filmmaking process from one, single position. She always felt like there was something missing from her career and after producing her first film, Soledad Canyon, she knew exactly what it was. Since producing Soledad Canyon, Annick Jaëgy has gone on to work on hit films like Mackenzie and Gubagude Ko. In fact, in 2016, she became particularly excited about the opportunity to expand her skillset into the wonderful world of musical films when she was approached by renowned director, Dana Maddox, about her unique project, That Frank. Knowing of Annick’s love for music and costumes, Maddox was confident that Annick would help her execute her vision for the film and she was itching to watch the process unfold.

“Dana and I had worked on two projects together previously, including Mackenzie. She knew my style but, furthermore, she knew my love for musicals and how this love grew through my work at a London-based musical theatre company, as well as through my position as a co-producer of the show Cabaret in London,” Annick noted.

That Frank is a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s beloved musical, Merrily We Roll Along. It is set in 1976 Los Angeles where Franklin Shepherd, a once talented Broadway composer, abandons his songwriting career to become a Hollywood film producer. At the premiere of Frank’s latest blockbuster, his oldest friend and theatre critic, Mary Flynn, urges him to return to New York in order to regain his artistic credibility. Surrounded by the intoxicating adulation of his shallow admirers, Frank must choose between his new path and his old life that he worked so hard to achieve, as well as the friendships that got him there.

For Jaëgy, working on That Frank was unlike any other job she had ever done as a producer. She found that she had to alter her thinking a lot of the time to suit the unique nature of filming musical numbers. For instance, there are a lot of different elements involved in the rehearsal and filming process of a musical. Jaëgy loved learning about all of the intricacies involved in the film’s choreography, lyrics, timing, acting, etc. It was far more complex than she could have ever anticipated; however, she found that made the final product all the more rewarding. The biggest challenge came with ensuring that the production’s budget did not limit its potential. It was very important to her that That Frank did not appear to be a low budget musical and as a result of her devotion to this intention, the film far surpassed the expectations that its budget had set. She even managed to find an innovative solution to the question of fitting costumes into the budget, as her childhood dress-up days allowed her to put her 1970’s inspired fashion items to use. She felt a great joy in seeing her cast members clothed from head to toe in her own collection and was pleased to see the authenticity that they brought to the film.

After working with Annick on That Frank, Maddox had to keep reminding herself that this was Jaëgy’s first time taking the role of lead producer on a musical. She was astonished by her ability to improvise, lead, and go above and beyond what was expected of her for the betterment of the film.

“Going into this journey, I needed the support of a producer that could think creatively and fight for our project. There was only one person I wanted for the job and that was Annick. She knows how to satisfy the production needs without going over budget, yet still maintaining the artistic integrity and vision that I had for the piece. I knew she would be able to carry the burden of wrangling the cast, crew, and details of production. This, in turn, enabled me to concentrate on bringing my dream to the big screen. I could not have accomplished that without Annick’s support,” said Dana Maddox, Director.

Seeing That Frank successfully screen at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, as well as the Toronto International Independent Film Festival were dignifying reminders to Jaëgy that being a film producer is what she was born to do. In addition, she was humbled by the experience of seeing Maddox, as well as That Frank’s cast and crew beaming with joy for the duration of the film’s premiere. It was an emotional experience and one that Annick wouldn’t change for the world.

Advertisements

Bulgarian Producer Assya Dimova: Defying Cultural Standards to Follow a Dream

The fact that certain cultures see some professions as king and count others as unworthy ‘hobbies’ should come as no surprise, but for many kids growing up in cultures where their personal dreams are seen as unacceptable, this can have a debilitating affect on their ability to confidently pursue the path they desire. We see it everyday through stereotypes, such as those of Asian and Indian descent being pushed into careers in tech and computer engineering, or others that push their youth to become doctors or lawyers. While satisfying one’s parents and conforming to cultural expectations can be heavily weighted, sometimes the inner pull of what one feels is their destiny is strong enough to defy the expectations– even if it takes a while to develop the courage to defy the standard.

IMG_8248
Bulgarian producer Assya Dimova shot by Megan Cooper

Esteemed Bulgarian film producer Assya Dimova is a prime example of one woman who was expected to pursue a path other than the one she felt she was personally meant for; but after making the definitive choice to devote herself to working as a film producer, everything seemed to fall into place naturally. Dimova, who recently produced the films “Stygian” and “Our Blood is Wine,” has secured a strong place for herself in the film industry on an international level; but it didn’t happen overnight.

During her youth growing up in Sofia, Bulgaria Dimova had an unwavering love for visual storytelling and a special knack for bringing creative talents together to realize a single vision. She recalls, “At the time, back home, the arts were not a traditional career path, especially for a girl. So I did the next best thing, I moved to Italy and enlisted in business school while actively building a taste for emerging talent,” adding however, that “the fascination with the magic of visual storytelling was just not going away, and I desperately wanted to one day be a part of bringing all those talents together.”

While in Italy, Dimova attained her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and her Master of Science in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology, and even though she hadn’t made the leap into the film world just yet, in a way she was already working as a producer. She began utilizing her natural ability for recognize creative talents and bringing them together

She explains, “I’ve always had the tendency to bring a group of friends together and lovingly push them to show off their talents in plays and short films. The first bigger endeavor was probably while I was living in Italy and with a small group of friends decided to create a series of concerts, cultural nights of sorts, where we presented Bulgaria to a diverse audience. We handled every aspect, from all the logistics, to involving talent, getting sponsorships, working with local media.”

By the time she was 25 Assya Dimova came to the firm realization that there was no other satisfying path for her, so instead of sticking it out in a career that didn’t utilize her natural gifts, she whole-heartedly dedicated herself to her passion– producing. Dimova relocated to the states soon after where she completed her Master of Arts in Creative Producing for Film and Television at Columbia College.

“As a producer my goal has always been to find and cultivate relationships with inspirational filmmakers who have an individual voice,” explains Dimova. And the work she’s done in the industry prove that she knows how to discover strong and innovative filmmakers with powerful stories to tell, and she’s the right producer to bring their tales to the screen.

Stygian Assya Dimova
Poster for “Stygian” directed by Josh Garvin

In 2015 Assya Dimova began production on Josh Garvin’s (“Daisy,” “Uncle Evan”) dramatic western “Stygian,” a silent film that follows an old gunslinger on a perilous trek across a barren desert. The climax of the film commences when the gunslinger falls from his horse and incurs a fatal injury that leaves him suffering from dehydration and a vicious infection on the desert floor where he is left to ponder his past mistakes.

As both the producer and the line producer on the film, Dimova did everything from raising funds and managing the film’s budget, to solidifying the shooting locations in New Mexico, pulling together the right people to head each department and also managing the day to day progress of the production.

About what led her to produce “Stygian,” Dimova explains, “On one hand, there was the creative aspect. The central themes of sin, guilt and atonement make for a powerful and thought-provoking story. Josh Garvin’s vision was nuanced and passionate and it was a no brainer decision.”

Being chosen as an Official Selection of the Wild Bunch Film Festival, Globe International Silent Film Festival, New Filmmakers Los Angeles, Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and the Grand OFF World Independent Film Awards, the overwhelming acceptance “Stygian” received from film festivals around the world make it clear that Dimova chose the right story to the bring to the screen.

Besides her ability to ensure the productions she chooses are completed in time and on budget whilst remaining to true to the director’s creative vision, one of the unique strengths that Dimova brings to the table as a producer is the ease with which she is able to navigate cross-cultural film productions. A polyglot, Dimova is fluent in German, English, Bulgarian and Italian, and as someone who’s lived and worked in multiple countries over the course of her life she understands how the filmmaking process differs vastly between countries. This skill proved to be incredibly valuable in her work as the line producer on Emily Railsback’s (“The 6th Stage of Sugar,” “WarBaby”) documentary feature “Our Blood Is Wine,” which was shot in the country of Georgia earlier this year and is slated for release in 2018.

With several films and television series under her belt as a producer, and a seasoned eye for creative talent, Dimova’s experience in the industry has also led her to be tapped as a curator for film festivals around the world. Some of the festivals she’s curated over the years include the Netherland’s 2016 Leiden International Film Festival, as well as the 2016 and 2017 Beloit International Film Festival in Wisconsin, and the 2016 and 2017 Hollywood Film Festival. As a film festival curator Dimova plays a key role in the screening and voting process that determines what feature and short form narrative and documentary films will be included in each festival, in addition to be involved in discussing the festivals proposed programming.

“As a producer, one must have a wide range of taste and ability to spot up-and-coming talent. With my international experience and background, I am able to critique submissions for both their production and creative value,” explains Dimova. “As in my personal producing career, I always go for story first and how captivating, original and authentic it is. I always look for something fresh that surprises me.”

In the end, producer Assya Dimova’s success in the film industry is proof that societal and cultural expectations sometimes have to be defied in order for one’s dreams to become fully realized.

Producer Sherry Yang brings out the laughs in film ‘Cash Back’

Filmmaking, for Sherry Yang, was always where she knew her future would lie. The ability to transport audiences to different places and time was always her passion. However, she did not always know she wanted to be a producer. Early in her career, she experimented with directing, writing, and editing. In taking on many roles, she came to realize that what makes all of these jobs possible is what a producer does. Producing is fundamental to filmmaking, and allows other departments to work flawlessly and concentrate on their tasks. It was this realization that put Yang on the path to greatness. She knew at that moment that she wanted to be a producer, and work on making each and every project she took on the best it can be in every aspect. That is exactly what she does; this award-winning producer is quickly becoming a leader in her industry, and despite an established resume, she is just getting started.

Yang is known for making films that not only impress audiences, but critics as well. Her historical film The Letter won awards at eight international film festivals. A similar pattern occurred with her work on the comedy Jiaozi, the romantic drama Te Echo de Menos, and the thriller Under the Pieces. All those she works with are immensely satisfied with her work, and attribute much of their success to her capabilities as a producer.

“I worked with Sherry on two films; I believe this speaks volumes. I truly enjoyed working with her and the professionalism she brings to the table. Sherry is a producer who considers herself as part of the crew, and she is proud of that fact. She does not sit in the high chair and stay away from the set. She is always working hard along with everyone else and still making sure everyone is happy. She is always with us, working hard to make the best film possible, and when there are hiccups, she is there to fix it quickly before anyone even notices. When there is trouble, she is always there backing you up and is the glue that keeps everyone together and working on the same page. It is no mystery as to why so many are happy to work with her over and over again. When working with her, she brings out everyone’s passion, thus making the filmmaking process an enjoyable journey, and reminds us why we all chose this path,” said Director Evan Xiao.

Cash Back cast & crew
Cash Back cast and crew

Amongst the films that Yang collaborated with Xiao on is the film Cash Back. It is a dramatic, dark comedy about love and trust. After two years in the making, the film premiered at the Asians on Film Festival in March of 2016, and continued to be selected for several more festivals. Yang is proud of what the film accomplished, none of which could have happened without her. And yet, she remains modest.

“I am very happy for Evan that he was able to give homage to his professor, who the film was dedicated to, and that it went so well. When I first saw the cut of the film, I thought it was quite clever and funny. I am happy that many audiences agree with me and enjoyed the film for the clever storytelling and directing,” said Yang.

When Yang was approached by Xiao to help tell his story, she was immediately captivated. The film was a tribute to one of the director’s teachers, and she was happy to be a part of something that was so close to home for her colleague. At the time, Yang had never worked on a dark comedy, but she was eager for the chance to try something new.

“Although it’s a dark comedy, the story deals with the morality of the human being. That thin grey area. After working with him on this project, I came to realise that Evan truly likes to play with that grey area of morality, as well as the comedic aspect of the naïveté of someone who acts morally all the time. I felt that this story did it right playing with the right amount of comedic aspects and the right amount of darkness to point out the naïveté and bending of morality,” Yang described.

As the producer, Yang helped find the perfect cast and crew for the film. She set financial matters and coordinated communications between creative and production crew members. Another responsibility included location scouting. She wanted to find something vibrant, affordable within budget, and convenient for the working schedule. The story originally took place in a comic book store, but this proved to be very difficult. After spending countless hours looking at comic book stores, Yang knew they needed to come up with an alternative. When meeting with the director, they decided to alter the story slightly, and changed the setting to a candy store. This was actually a great change, says Yang, because it allowed for a few more jokes to be added to the script.

It was crucial for Yang to remain organized and communicative with all cast and crew, as well as the business owner of the candy shop when it came to scheduling. She had to carefully plan everything in order for everyone to be on the same page and have the film shoot go smoothly. Needless to say, she achieved her goal, and the film is witty and artistic.

Yang is undoubtedly a producer to keep an eye on. She is already one of the best to recently come out of China, and as the years pass, we will continue to see her name attached to some extraordinary films.

 

Top photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu

 

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.

Producer Katie Horbury is essential for Disney channel hit

20
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.