Category Archives: Television

Canada’s Leading Cinematographer Jonathan Bensimon

Jonathan Bensimon
Cinematographers Vilmos Zsigmond (left), Jonathan Bensimon (center) & László Kovács (right)

Jonathan Bensimon is a rare breed of visionary. As both a director and cinematographer, he exercises precise control over both the storytelling and artistic aspects of his craft. He has worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment, and his exceptional talent behind the camera has earned him a myriad of awards from some of the most prestigious institutions in the business. His work with a camera knows no boundaries in genre or format, and includes everything from feature length and short films, documentaries, dramas and comedies, to music videos for major artists and commercials Fortune 500 companies.

Bensimon began his training in Toronto, and before long earned a coveted place in the exclusive Budapest Cinematography Masterclass, a program funded by Kodak and taught by Vilmos Zsigmond. Zsigmond himself has had an enormous impact on the field, having won an Oscar for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind and a BAFTA for The Deer Hunter, as well as an Academy Award nomination for the latter film. During this period, Bensimon worked hand-in-hand with Zsigmond on the inimitable Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda.

You Might As Well Live, Bensimon’s first feature film as a cinematographer, was a dark comedy about a “loser” trying desperately to change his fortunes. The film also marked the first feature film collaboration between director Simon Ennis and Bensimon, and garnered praise from critics at publications such as Variety and The Toronto Star. The film stars Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Vol. I & II), and won the award for “Most Interesting Film” at the Slamdance Film Festival where it premiered in 2009.

Having proven his innate ability to capture the essence and vision of a story on film, Simon Ennis once again chose Bensimon as the cinematographer on his film Lunarcy!.

The film premiered at the world renowned Toronto International Film Festival, and has since aired on television channels around the world.

Being that the film Lunarcy! is a documentary and the subjects aren’t actors, missing the right moment means the moment is lost, it can’t be fixed by calling another take. Bensimon had to be constantly aware of the subjects in order to catch them at their most earnest, and sometimes most vulnerable, moments.

“Although this film had a comic undertone, it was also filled with heartwarming moments,” Bensimon said when describing the challenges of the documentary. “As the cinematographer on such a documentary I had to make sure the camera was in the right place at the right time to capture these moments.”

Bensimon’s artistic vision behind the camera is perhaps best exhibited in The Long Autumn, a film set in a land where seasons last 10 years. Filmed entirely in a studio, he had to rely on his raw talent to portray a beautiful environment where the passing of seasons and years is completely fabricated, yet wholly immersive and believable.

“A climactic scene takes place just before winter sets in,” said Bensimon, describing his signature technique and unique visual approach. “To light the surreal set, I used blacks and deep blues to illustrate the darkness and the drama of the scene. The film was shot on Super 16 to give the images texture and grain.”

Bensimon again applied that vision in his work on The Death of Chet Baker, a dark film about the jazz icon’s mysterious death. Exhibiting his adaptive style, Bensimon filmed primarily on a handheld camera in low light to capture the haunting mood.

His critically-acclaimed work is by no means limited to his work on films, however. He’s been receiving recognition and praise for his cinematography and directorial work on music videos for nearly a decade, and has been credited on more than 25 videos for international recording artists. Among those musicians is Grammy and Juno Award winner Nelly Furtado; Bensimon exhibited his diverse talent for cinematography in Furtado’s video, Spirit Indestructible.

Bensimon’s cinematography in the video for Canadian artist Kreesha Turner’s hit song Rock Paper Scissors was also nominated for a MuchMusic Video Award in 2012.

In addition to this immense catalog of work, Bensimon has also served as both director and cinematographer on dozens of commercials and advertising campaigns. Notably, his work directing and filming the hilarious Canadian Zombie short film, promoting the Canadian Film Festival, earned him one gold and two silver medals across three categories from the Advertising and Design Club of Canada. The promo also made the short list for the Cannes Lions, the branch of the Cannes Film Festival that awards filmmakers of advertisements; the Cannes Lions festival has been referred to as the world’s biggest ad-film festival.

His immense commercial resume also includes gold medal-winning work on several public service announcements for the World AIDS Organization, as well as both director and cinematographer credits on advertising campaigns for massive international companies such as Walmart, Honda, Mazda, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Budweiser, Tylenol, Bayer, Hitachi, Keurig and Hershey’s, just to name a few.

Nobody else in the field today can match Jonathan Bensimon’s cinematography chops. He is without a doubt one of the most talented and prolific filmmakers in the business, and his credits and commendations are sure to multiply exponentially over the coming months. Most importantly, Bensimon has exhibited a rare and masterful ability to produce work that is at times commercial, at other times entertainment, but no matter the project, his work without exception possesses the touch of a visionary and an artist.

The Producer Behind “Shaya” Prepares for the Release of Two Upcoming Features

Amir Noorani (left) and Mike Gut (right) at the 2013 CAAM Film Festival
        Amir Noorani (left) and Mike Gut (right) at the 2013 CAAM Film Festival

Using his background in finance along with his creative talents as a filmmaker himself, producer Mike Gut knows how to make a winner. As a producer with Oracle Film Group, Gut recently produced the upcoming films Timber the Treasure Dog and Cowboys vs Dinosaurs, which are set for release this year.

Timber the Treasure Dog, which is being distributed by Archstone Distribution, the company responsible for distributing mega-hits such as Machete, The Rum Diary and For the Love of Money, follows a young boy and his talking pup as they embark on a hunt for grandpa’s hidden treasure in an effort to save the family home from foreclosure.

Out of all of the films Gut has produced Timber the Treasure Dog was a game-changer in this talented producer’s career. He says, “Timber the Treasure Dog was my favorite so far. The reason being is that it was the hardest film I’ve made to date, which ultimately made it that much more rewarding to pull off.”

When it came to the challenges, Gut says that they shot the film under strict time constraints with all of the actual filming taking place in a time span of less than three weeks, additionally the film’s cast included three dogs and two kids as lead actors, performers who are known throughout the industry for having unpredictable behavior on set.

“The old Hollywood adage that states– “never work with kids or dogs,” was on my mind the entire time, however I think we got lucky and had an amazing cast all around,” explains Gut.

Gut also played a huge role in another of this year’s highly anticipated flics, Cowboys vs Dinosaurs. Shot in Montana, the perfect location for a story set in the wild west, the film stars Eric Roberts, Vernon Wells, Sarah Malakul Lane and Rib Hillis. A high-energy action packed sci-fi film, Cowboys vs Dinosaurs revolves around a group of prehistoric dinosaurs that come to life after a catastrophic mining accident and the band of cowboys and girls who will stop at nothing in order to send them back to where they came from.

As the Executive Producer and Producer of Cowboys vs Dinosaurs and Timber the Treasure Dog, Mike Gut has devoted the last year and a half to helping perfect these films to a place worthy of Hollywood critics and international audiences. But this isn’t Gut’s first rodeo; if anyone knows how to make an award-winning film it’s him.

Shaya, one of the first films he produced, along with Eric Bergemann, was an instant success on the international film festival circuit.

Directed by Amir Noorani, Shaya is loosely based on the perplexing experience of an Afghani refugee family Noorani helped move to the United States several years ago. While the story in the film includes a cast of characters with different circumstances and ethnicities compared to those in the event Noorani previously witnessed, Shaya raises similar questions concerning morality and the migratory experience many face when moving to a new land.

The film follows a tribal Pakistani refugee family who move to Los Angeles in hopes of escaping the trauma of war-torn Pakistan; however, they instead discover that moving to a new country brings an entirely new set of challenges, making them long for their former home.

Gut says, “We wanted to bring light to an authentic true story that was gripping to all of us who were involved in making the film, as well as deliver a transformational experience to the audience.”

A testament to Mike Gut’s skill as a producer, and the entire team behind Shaya, the film was chosen as an Official Selection at the Figari Film Festival in Italy, the LA International Short Film Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival, the Sedona International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the Champs-Elysees Film Festival and the Bel-Air Film Festival. Shaya was also a finalist at the Academy Qualifying USA Film Festival in Texas, and took home the Platinum Remi Award (1st Place) at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival, as well as Second Place at the Athens International Film & Video Festival, among other awards.

For Gut, the magic of producing lays in the fact that he is able to have a hand in every phase a film goes through on its way to the screen.

He admits, “Nothing makes me happier than when I’m on set. When I used to make films as a hobby on the weekends, I remember thinking– If I could get paid to do this, it would just be icing on the cake. It’s really rewarding to read a good script and eventually see that script come to life.”

It is also interesting to note that in addition to producing, Mike Gut has appeared in several of the films he’s produced including Shaya and Timber the Treasure Dog, as well as worked as the director of the film Unfair and Imbalanced, which he produced as well.

Producer Meric Aydin Unveils His Highly Anticipated Upcoming Projects

Meric Aydin
Producer Meric Aydin

Visionary producer Meric Aydin has displayed a keen eye and untiring work ethic through his work on projects such as the critically acclaimed Zayiat. While Zayiat did incredibly well on the international film festival circuit being chosen as an Official Selection of the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, the International Film Festival of Colombo in Sri Lanka, and the !f Istanbul International Independent Film Festival, Aydin’s upcoming projects are set to be his most ambitious yet.

As a producer, Aydin is heavily involved in every aspect of a production, giving him a great deal of responsibility for and influence on every production to which he lends his name.

“The producer is the person who’s with the project from the beginning to the very end, doing whatever it takes to achieve production and release,” Aydin explained about his work. “I genuinely enjoy every stage.”

Working from behind the scenes, Aydin’s mastery of the filmmaking process ensures his projects run like a Swiss clock. This year will mark the release of two highly anticipated feature films from Eclectic Pictures, both bearing Aydin’s distinct touch. The first, Septembers of Shiraz, is a thriller with a backdrop of political turmoil. The film centers on a Jewish family in Tehran after the Iranian Revolution, and their lives following the fall of the Shah. Septembers of Shiraz will feature an all-star cast, including Salma Hayek (Frida, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) and Adrien Brody who received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Pianist.

Also set for release later this year is Frankenstein, a project in which Aydin played a critical role in getting off the ground, and one that is sure to terrify audiences. A contemporary metamorphosis of Mary Shelley’s classic novel led by director Bernard Rose (Candyman), whose work has been known to give millions of people nightmares, for fans of the horror genre the new Frankenstein will undoubtedly be on the top of list of films to see this year.

As for lovers of films riddled with suspense, Meric Aydin recently began the first phases of production on The Census Taker, a film destined to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Inspired by the classic style of Alfred Hitchcock, this enthralling mystery follows a wealthy New York couple who find the body of a real estate developer in their apartment. When a census taker arrives at the house and witnesses the scene, a police investigation ensues, but the plot begins to thicken when the census taker disappears. The Census Taker is being produced by Eclectic Pictures.

With his experience touring the festival circuit, it’s fitting that one of Aydin’s most ambitious productions yet is set in Cannes. Du Cap follows a former paparazzo as she is called back for one final job covering the famed Cannes Film Festival. Staying in the glitzy Hotel Du Cap and reporting undercover, she becomes wrapped up in a series of events, which culminate in the murder of a star. Aydin will be working with producer Heidi Jo Markel (Olympus Has Fallen, As I Lay Dying) on Du Cap, which is being produced by Eclectic Pictures as well.

As he has climbed the ladder to the top of the film industry Meric Aydin has proven that he is the kind of producer that makes successful films, but beyond success Aydin is dedicated to making pictures that bare a deeper meaning.

“I’d like to achieve the creative power to tell thought provoking stories that bring up issues of misrepresented people, topics that are controversial to deal with and causes that we all care about; environment, animal welfare and poverty alleviation. I also wish to add to these exciting and engaging storytelling,” said Aydin.

Aydin’s interest in political, philosophical and humanitarian issues is apparent in both his work, as well as his personal life. In his native Turkey, Aydin volunteered with the philanthropic organization UNIRC where he taught children about cinematography and helped to cultivate the next generation of filmmakers.

Aside from Aydin’s upcoming film projects, he is also working on an hour-long television drama called Reminiscence. Proof that his talents extend beyond producing; Aydin was honored by the renowned Final Draft Big Break Competition where he was selected as a quarterfinalist for Reminiscence, which he wrote and plans to produce next year.

Reminiscence tells the story of a dystopian society where memory implantation and extraction have become so widespread that people no longer know what version of the past is true. The story follows a dissenting faction of the futuristic society that is dedicated to discovering and exposing the lost truth. Through the narrative Aydin explores the motif of censorship. “The general debate is a philosophical one: should you tell the truth no matter what, or should you restrain it,” said Aydin in a recent interview.

As for the future, Aydin said, “My plan is to raise the bar for filmmaking; as innovations occur, I am constantly learning new ways of doing our business. I’m open to improvements and I’d like to see opportunities in what some call cable cutting. The Internet came and started converging with how we are living in every way, and this has inescapably reflected upon our industry. Now if a film can’t find a place in movie theatres for one reason or the other, they can always go to VODs. And this doesn’t mean the traditional is going to decay forever. It is all about content; great stories will always be great stories. The main point is who tells those stories. Successful creators and content makers will define that by who they go to. And I would like to be that person that they go to.”

One of Mexico’s Brightest Stars, Actress Ale Fips!

Ale Fips
Mexican Actress Ale Fips

Originally born in Guadalajara, Mexico, actress Ale Fips began her career on some of the most prestigious stages in Mexico at the age of 8. The young Fips was first chosen to work with the International Book Festival known as the FIL, with which she performed for four years putting on a new a play each season for audiences in the hundreds.

Ale Fips got her first big break when she was cast in the starring role of Princess Nadia in the musical theatre production of “El Príncipe Rana,” also known as “The Frog Prince,” when she was barely 16-years-old. The production follows Princess Nadia, a spoiled young girl who loses a golden ball in the water, as she begins to cry a mysterious frog appears and promises to return her prized possession as long as she promises to let him live in the palace from then on. The princess agrees, but quickly forgets her promise until the frog appears at the palace as an honored dinner guest later that night. The moral of the story revolves around honoring one’s promises, as well as not judging others by their outer appearance a point which is furthered by the fact that frog turns into a prince towards the end of the story.

Ale Fips proved her tenacious dedication to her craft as she continually wowed audiences in her portrayal of Princess Nadia over the course of the production’s three season run in Mexico. While “El Príncipe Rana” proved the power of Fips’s magnetic stage presence as an actress, the production also gave her the opportunity to vocalize her impressive range as a singer, an asset to the production that kept audiences coming back over and over again. “El Príncipe Rana” was performed in several theaters in Guadalajara including Foro de Arte y Cultura de Guadalajara, Centro Cultural Jaime Torres Bodet, and Guadalajara Teatro del IMSS.

Ale Fips
Ale Fips as Princess Nadia in “El Príncipe Rana”

Some of Ale Fips’s other theater productions include “Monstruos El Musical” where she played the role of Dr. Jekyll’s daughter Belinda, “La Mulata de Cordova” where she played the starring role of La Mulata, “Fondo De Cultura Económica” where she played the role of Maya, as well as many others. While Fips’s dynamic abilities as both an actress and a singer have made her a highly sought after talent for high profile musical theater productions, her abilities have also made her an integral actress on some of the most popular television shows in Mexico.

“I moved to Mexico City when I was 18 because I was cast for the Latin version of High School Musical on TV Azteca. It was an amazing experience; we were on primetime television for five months on Canal 13, TV Azteca’s most popular channel,” recalled Ale Fips. “Then I continued my career in theater until I was called to start working on La Rosa de Guadalupe on Televisa.”

Ale Fips played several leading roles in the hit series La Rosa de Guadalupe, a dramatic anthology series that began in 2008 and continues to bring high viewership ratings today. Fips has starred in eight episodes of the series including “La Luz de la Verdad,” “La Semilla del Bien,” “Perdonar con Amor,” “Vivir en Paz,” “Con pies de Plomo,” “Donde está el Sol,” as well as others.

Now in her early 20s, the actress has advanced her craft with leaps and bounds and has come to be recognized throughout Mexico for her diverse acting skills. Fips is currently working on the production of “Judgment on A Gray Beach” where she will play the starring role of Leni. The production is scheduled to open at New York’s renowned La MaMa theater in 2015.

Acclaimed Cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse!

Cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse
                                                     Cinematographer Kristin Fieldhouse

Although Kristin Fieldhouse first obtained a Bachelors and Masters in International Development and Politics at the University of Sussex in England, an area of concentration that led her to spend several years working for the United Nations across Africa and Asia, her love of photography and it’s integral role in filmmaking was something too powerful to ignore. The now highly sought after cinematographer discovered her passion for photography in her youth.

“I lost my dad and my sister at a young age – so photography helped me through that period. It was my salvation in a way, a chance to connect with people through an artist medium and express what I was feeling and going through,” admits Kristin Fieldhouse. “Later on, cinematography offered me a new and exciting challenge. The moving image was fascinating for me and I loved the idea of sequences of images to tell a story.”

After spending several years working for the UN, Fieldhouse moved to Canada where she further honed and perfected her skills behind the camera lens. “I worked and studied as a camera technician for many years working my way up through the Cinematographer’s Guild I.A.T.S.E before starting to shoot my own work,” explains Fieldhouse.

A testament to her unparalleled skill in the field, Kristin Fieldhouse was accepted as one of only 28 cinematographers admitted into the American Film Institute’s competitive conservatory program where she received her MFA. With an impressive list of award-winning projects already under her belt, Fieldhouse’s work undoubtedly speaks for itself. The cinematographer received the Kodak Student Cinematography Award for her work on the film The Man Who Found DB Cooper, as well as the award for Best Cinematography at the Milledgeville Film Festival and the John Kelly Award for Excellence in Cinematography at the Fresno Film Festival for her work on the film Young Americans, and the award for Best Cinematography at the Real Teal Film Festival for her work on the film TESS.

One of Kristin Fieldhouse’s other recent projects, Kepler X-47, has also had an incredibly successful run on the film festival circuit as it was chosen as an Official Selection at The LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Comikazee Expo, ImagineNative Film & Media Arts Festival, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Film Festival, The Geekie Awards, Dragon Con Film Festival, and many others. Directed by Erin Li Kepler X-47 is a sci-fi film that follows a woman as she struggles to adjust to her new life as part of a human zoo exhibit on an alien planet 5,000 light years from earth. The film put Fieldhouse’s talents to the test as it required extensive period costumes, futuristic locations and dynamic lighting choices.

Fieldhouse explains, “This project was demanding in terms of budget and I had to come up with cheap lighting solutions that gave a large range of looks from candlelight dinner scenes at tables to large soft sources above actors to give them freedom to move, but would also create an eerie look. Panavision came onboard and helped us by providing great lenses, which I netted to give a softer image and raise the black levels. I remember spending many hours testing out different kinds of stockings from stores around LA.”

Kristin Fieldhouse’s vast knowledge, dedication and substantial creative contributions to Kepler X-47 show through in the film’s end product and are proven by the film’s incredible success.

“I was inspired by the painters such as Caravaggio and wanted to be able to paint with light the way they would paint with oils,” says Fieldhouse. “We used a combination of in-camera effects and glass, with dramatic lighting, and I believe this gave the film an elevated look that took the audience on a beautiful and believable journey.”

Some of Kristin Fieldhouse’s other work as a cinematographer includes the films My Little Eye, Palm Swings, Brown Bag, He’s The Best, Borja, Future Me, Release, The Tent, Life In The Gutter, Hide & Seek and Things Go Wrong, as well as commercials for globally known brands like Nike, Coors Light and Kodak. The cinematographer has also contributed heavily to the camera departments on the films The Echo, Total Recall, The Incredible Hulk, Diary Of The Dead, House At The End of The Street, Resident Evil: Afterlife and A Beginner’s Guide To Endings, as well as the hit television shows Flashpoint, Happy Town, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures Fairfield Road, Abra Ca Debra, Nikita, Covert Affairs, Warehouse 13, Unrivaled, Latest Buzz, Unnatural History, The Night Before The Night Before Christmas, Alphas, Kenny v. Spenny and many more.

To find out more about Kristin Fieldhouse’s incredible work as a cinematographer be sure to check out her website http://kristinfieldhouse.com/ and her IMDb page http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2465060/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 

French Film Wizard Emeric Le Bars!

Emeric Le Bars
Editor Emeric Le Bars

Although they are never seen on screen, film editors select every single shot the audience sees, a role that holds the power to make or break a project. Something of a film wizard, Emeric Le Bars is among the best European editors working in the entertainment industry today.

Originally from France, Emeric Le Bars has been honing his skills as a professional film editor for more than a decade. The talented young editor has continued to expand on his already impressive repertoire of work since moving to the United States a few years ago.

Le Bars is currently working on a feature film entitled Perception of Art, directed by German filmmaker Roana Wullinger (Moonflower, Rain Day, Brown Bag, Second Date?, Soul Bird). Set for release in February 2015, Perception of Art is a dramatic comedy about a spoiled yet struggling Italian painter who receives an opportunity to bring his art into the spotlight, but to his dismay, the opportunity requires him to collaborate with a cleaning lady. In addition to his work as lead editor on Perception of Art, Le Bars is also working as a colorist for the filmLe Bars explains, “In the film two worlds clash together and the entertainment value is impeccable.”

Emeric Le Bars first met director Roana Wullinger at Smile TV, where he is employed as an editor. Two incredibly talented individuals, Le Bars and Wullinger intend to continue collaborating after the release of the film. They have already started the groundwork for their next project, a documentary that focuses on the lives of children in the Middle East, and Le Bars says, “We want to keep working together for as long as we can!”

While working as an editor for Smile TV, Le Bars has lent his creative talents to more than 15 interstitials for PBS SoCal and 2 segments through the series LAaRT, which highlights the Los Angeles art scene and airs on PBS Southern California. Proving his incredible diversity in the industry, Le Bars served as chief editor and director of photography on an episode of LAaRT entitled “Homeless Karaoke.” He describes the episode like this, “After a day of quietly asking for change, this diverse group of people comes in from the street to hear and be heard.” At a venue that enables the homeless population of Skid Row to lift themselves up through music and companionship, Le Bars admits, “The talent will surprise you!”

Over the years Le Bars has displayed his passion and talent for editing in numerous projects, and he continues to give life to the footage he edits on a daily basis. “I love creating a story from nothing, sharing emotion and feeling,” remarks Le Bars. “There are thousands of ways to edit one video and you choose the one you want. You decide how you want to tell the story and what feelings you want to share.”

In this way, Le Bars accurately describes just how important someone in his position is to the production process, and we look forward to seeing what he creates next.