Category Archives: Upcoming Films

Actress Claire Stollery stars in upcoming film ‘Must Kill Karl’

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The cast of the upcoming film Must Kill Karl

When Claire Stollery was in Junior Kindergarten, her teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She had two answers, an actress or a storyteller. At even four years old, she had that sense of self already to know what she was destined to do. Now, over twenty years later, her answers still remain the same, for actors and storytellers are one in the same.

Stollery’s comedic prowess is remarkable. She has won her country over with her acting in television shows like True Dating Stories and Man Seeking Woman, and the hilarious films Who is Hannah and Love in the Age of Like. She is a force to be reckoned with.

“I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh. My parents were really funny, and if I could make them laugh I knew I was doing good. They were tough critics. Comedy is tough, but also great because it’s subjective! What is funny to me may not be funny to you. There are so many times I’ve seen a film and thought, ‘What? People weren’t supposed to laugh there.’ But that’s great! We didn’t plan for that moment, but now it’s there,” said Stollery.

Audiences will soon be able to again see what makes Stollery so great in the upcoming film Must Kill Karl. The film is about that “friend” that everyone has, the one who shows up uninvited, drinks all your booze, and hits on your girlfriend – who we all secretly hate and wish would just go away; one night, a group of friends decide enough is enough and there’s only one way to get rid of him for good: they must kill Karl.

“The film is really smart and funny. Everyone has that friend like Karl that ruins every party and you can’t even remember why you were friends with them in the first place. But I love the spin Karen Moore, one of the writers, put on it where the finger is actually pointed at Karl’s friends. It’s a good message. Sometimes you’re so busy judging other people you forget to look at yourself. That is what is so great about Karen’s writing. Even when it’s hilarious she makes you stop and think,” Stollery described.

Stollery plays Alyson, the sarcastic one of the group. On the surface, it appears like she hates all her friends, especially Karl, but deep down she just wants to be accepted as part of the group, which is like all people with a tough exterior. Her character is one of the few single ones. She gets repulsed by the other couple’s affection. Alyson, Stollery says, stands in the back and observes while silently hating everything.

“There was a lot to work off of because everyone’s characters were so different from each other and seemingly shouldn’t get along, but they all share the same hatred for Karl,” she described.

Must Kill Karl was written by the Producer of the film, Karen Moore, and the Director Joe Kicak. Stollery had always wanted to work with the pair, and when Kicak came to Stollery’s house at 11 one night to pitch her the story, she was immediately on board.

“My favorite thing is watching Joe pitch an idea. He could make lighting yourself on fire while being stung by a thousand bees sound exciting. He’s the most excitable guy you will ever meet. When he came over to my house to tell me about Must Kill Karl, it was the most entertained I’ve ever been at 11 pm drinking tea,” said Stollery.

The feeling was mutual; Kicak was highly impressed with Stollery from the moment she stepped on set. Having known each other before, but never worked together, there were high expectations, and Stollery did not disappoint.

“Claire brings so much subtlety to a scene that her performance continues to surprise me in the cut. Her reactions are so wonderful that you find yourself cutting back to her constantly. She possesses a calming force that arouses other actors around her to a natural state,” said Joe Kicak.

Despite their comradery, the film still required extremely talented actors and filmmakers to overcome some of the challenges that came when shooting. It was shot entirely at night, and therefore required 5 pm to 5 am shoots, which as Stollery says, upset a neighbor so much that they decided to play loud music to prevent the filming. Futhermore, the majority of the film was shot outside, and one night, there was a large thunderstorm. A tarp was placed over the actors’ heads, but the rain was so loud that it again made it difficult to hear. The actors kept their cool, and this was no problem for Stollery, who says despite everything, the experience was so fun that it felt like a summer camp.

“The joke was we all said we knew what Karen and Joe really thought of us based on how they cast us in the film. Jamie Spilchuk was the preppy but kinky husband, Sara Power and Peter Mooney were the annoyingly in love couple, Scott Cavalheiro was the secret psychopath and I was the bitchy single friend. I always seem to play the bitchy friend! I don’t know what that says about me,” she joked.

The role was not a walk in the park, however, as Stollery was faced with an unexpected challenge. That being said, she ended up finding it easier to get over than she may have once thought.

“In the film I had to be repulsed by my fiancé, Scott, who was playing the weirdo in the group. He’s extremely handsome in real life, but they didn’t want his character to be, so they gave him a terrible haircut. Just the greasiest hairdo you’ve ever seen. Combine that with this accent he had for the film and his wardrobe… let’s just say their mission was accomplished,” Stollery concluded.

Must Kill Karl will premiere on Bravo in January and then CBC in February of 2018.

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Andrew Searles is seriously funny in upcoming film Cereal Killer

While growing up in Montreal, Andrew Searles always knew he wanted to perform. As a child, he would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and be captivated not only by the special effects and storyline that made the show what it was, but the performances of the actors. He watched every episode he could, studying how the show was made, fascinating him even more. When was watching other movies and shows, recognizing actors but seeing them play different characters, he was enchanted. He knew that he had to follow in the same footsteps. And he has, Searles is an incredibly versatile actor, just like those whom he idolized as a child.

While also being an established stand-up comedian, Searles is of course capable to deliver a comedic scene. He understands improvisation, and exactly how to deliver a joke that will leave the audience in stiches. However, it is his more serious side of acting that leaves audiences bewitched. He really can do it all.

“I like the aspect of portraying somebody else who isn’t me,” said Searles. “Taking on a new persona, a new identity, embodying their traits and creating an entirely new person, or taking on the personality of whomever I’m supposed to be portraying.”

Searles flexibility as an actor is exemplified further in the upcoming film Cereal Killer, written and directed by Fabrice Barthelemy. Cereal Killer is a comedy that follows Jimmy, a young man who loves eating his cereal. However, things take a turn for the worst when someone in his neighborhood keeps breaking into his apartment and eating his cereal. Jimmy, along with his best friend, Sean, team up to begin an investigation of who keeps eating Jimmy’s cereal. Searles plays Gus, the antagonist in the film. Gus is a very mild mannered, quiet, reserved, caretaker of an apartment building. He often says inappropriate things without realizing he said them. When Jimmy is searching for whomever has been breaking into his apartment and eating his cereal, it eventually turns out Gus was the culprit the whole time.

“Portraying a character like Gus allowed me to ‘get my hands dirty’. I wanted Gus to be a very dark, twisted, soulless type of character. I wanted to use this opportunity to break away from being a ‘comedic’ actor in a sense, and shine as someone playing a character who is disturbed. Even though Gus’s lines would still be comedic in nature, I figured his lines would come off even funnier if they were delivered in a dark, morbid tone, rather than from a goofy, comedic character,” said Searles.

Gus was not originally intended to be a dark character, but it was Searles’ intuition that brought the character to life, and the twist added even more humor to the film.

“I created his personality and traits and integrated them into the film. I also learned how to embody a very serious, dark character, darker than I’ve ever played on camera. I learned how to keep the balance of playing a very serious somber character while playing with the comedic lines and aspects of the film. I wanted to be dark enough so the darkness of his character shined through, and the audience felt that, but not too much where the comedy aspect of the film is off balance,” he explained.

And does his technique ever work. In a pivotal scene in the film, when Gus is being confronted for being the cereal thief, he is extremely serious, as if confessing to an actual murder. He even puts his hands up to be handcuffed after his confession, as if he committed a large crime, but he is just being told he is fired.

“Fabrice originally intended the role to be a fun, goofy, type of character, but wanting to play something different than just a type casted comedic role, I played it my way at the table read and Fabrice lost his mind and hollered at how much he loved my angle on Gus. He was so ecstatic and in awe because he never envisioned his character to be that dark, and it’s his dark humor and awkwardness that made Gus even better on screen. I figured that if funny lines from a funny character are expected and normal, then funny lines from an unfunny and dark character would be even funnier, because it’s not what the audience would be expecting,” said Searles.

Although Searles went in to read for the character of Gus, he was actually approached and asked to play the part without an audition. The Assistant Director and Assistant Writer of the film, Sara Sommers, knew that Searles possessed extraordinary acting capabilities that would make the film even better.

“Andrew is an extremely driven and talented individual. During filming, he displayed his incredible acting and comedic talents. There is no doubt in my mind that he was the correct person for the role. No one else could bring this character to life the way Andrew did. His portrayal was done magnificently and effortlessly and I am sure that he will bring these attributes to all his future roles. Andrew is the type of talent that we do not meet on a day to day basis. He is unique, one of a kind and truly remarkable. He is the type of actor that not only would directors and producers love to work with, but also will be loved by audience members as they will be struck by his presence. I would work with Andrew on a future project in a heartbeat. He truly is a talent to look out for,” said Sommers.

Cereal Killer is expected to be released later this year.

Actress Valeria Gonzalez stars in upcoming film Jaloguin

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Valeria Gonzalez, photo by Victor Crespo

Although Valeria Gonzalez studied Media and Communications in university, she was born to be an actress. Watching movies as a child with her family, she would see actors on the screen and aspire to one day do the same. Even throughout her schooling, she took acting classes, knowing what her true passion was. She moved all over the world, picking up habits and languages from people of all cultures, and with this diversity she can play almost any role. It was when she was studying her masters when Gonzalez decided to leave school to truly pursue acting, and has never looked back.

Gonzalez is a celebrated actress, recognized internationally for her talents. She has starred in many award-winning films, such as Sexy Jalapenos and Isola, as well as the web series Okupados.

“It is privilege to enjoy the whole process of creating a character and playing it, as challenging as it may seem at times, and working as a team with creative and professional people,” said Gonzalez.  

Now, Gonzalez is starring in the upcoming, anticipated film Jaloguin. The film follows Maria, the mother of a 9-year-old who is 8 months pregnant with her second child. While living in Tijuana, she decides to go to San Diego with her son to see her husband on the day of Halloween, and their journey ends up being quite an adventure.

“Maria is a loving and caring young mother, and a strong young woman who finds herself raising her son by herself, because her husband works and lives in another country. But when she finds out that her son is being bullied by other kids, and that she won’t get support from the parents of those kids, she decides to go her husband,” said Gonzalez. “I find that is very common nowadays for families to be separated due to work all around the world, and the reality of dealing with that struggle is something I was very interested in portraying, especially in such a beautiful story.”

Jaloguin is directed by Enrique Unzueta, who Gonzalez describes as being very interested in portraying the city of Tijuana as he knows it, so the locations where they filmed are very unique, adding an extra artistic element to the film.

“Valeria’s ability to connect in the most basic human level to the reality of the character is just one of her many assets. Her hard work and commitment go beyond her performance, she truly is part of the team. Valeria understands that besides an actor, she is a storyteller,” said Unzueta.

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Valeria Gonzalez in Jaloguin

Unzueta is not the only person that recognizes Gonzalez’s extraordinary abilities as an actress, as she was previously nominated for Best Female Actor in the YoungCuts Film Festival in Montreal, in 2013, when she played the role of Nicole in the film Dolce Fantasia. Nicole, an introverted day dreamer, struggles to complete a screenplay based on La Dolce Vita. She is passionate about Italian films and especially films from director Federico Fellini, her favorite movie is La Dolce Vita. Through casual glimpses of her crush, Marc, Nicole subconsciously enters Fellini-esque fantasies channeling her alluring alter ego, Nicoletta, who represents the person she would love to be, an elegant and confident Italian woman. Embodying this confident Italian muse, she captures Marc’s attention and finds the inspiration to complete her script. The film is directed by Jessica Angiuoni, and Marc is played by actor Jacob Frank.

“I felt really honored to be considered for this award. I absolutely loved the story. I related to how Nicole’s daydreams being so far from reality brought her great deception, but at the same time served to create something artistic and to learn and grow by putting herself out there with all her heart,” said Gonzalez. “I loved playing these two characters in one film, her in real life and her ideal woman in her fantasies. Working on how each of them presents herself to the world, one lacking confidence and a voice and the other one being elegant, sexy, confident and smart.”

Despite her successes, Gonzalez acknowledges that there are still challenges to her chosen career that even a skilled actress like herself has to overcome with each new role. She describes the biggest challenge as there being no right way of preparing for a character and playing it on stage or on a set. Gonzalez would tell new actors that they have to be open and ready to fail, ready to try something different, which is what helped her.

“I have learned that there are many ways I can start working and preparing, and I always feel tempted to do so in a way I haven’t tried before. Once the curtain is up or the camera is rolling, unexpected things happen, and in a way, I hope they do, since they make the performance new and real, and it makes me present,” she concluded.

Along with Jaloguin, audiences have the pleasure to see Gonzalez in two new feature films that she will be filming shortly. One of the films is about vampires, an old story adapted to modern LA, and the other is about the relationship between two sisters. Jaloguin is currently in post-production, but is expected to make its way to film festivals later this year.

Megan Waters to produce upcoming sequel of hit film Ditch Day Massacre

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Megan Waters is a producer from Toronto, Ontario.

Megan Waters is many things. She is a Canadian, born and raised in Toronto. She is a pinball enthusiast who loves retro games. She is a world traveller and describes the world is her playground. She is a salsa dancer, believing it to be an amazing dance and community. And above all else, she is an extraordinary film producer, using her skill and creativity to entertain audiences.

Waters passion for producing is evident. She has been producing for over twelve years, and has received praise and recognition for her talent. In 2012, the “Soul of a Ninja” Kawasaki USA commercial she produced won the Bronze ADDY Award at the American Advertising Awards. The first feature film she produced, Ditch Day Massacre, won the 2014 Best Feature Length Horror Film at the Burbank International Film Festival. Waters is one of those people who knows she is doing what she was meant to do.

“Why be the puppet when you can be the puppet master?” said Waters. “I got into producing because I love the business just as much as the creative process. As producer, I get to wear both hats and interact with all aspects of production.”

Now, Waters is set to continue her success of Ditch Day Massacre by producing the sequel Ditch Day Massacre II. The film will follow the character of Jenny, who is placed into a mental institution after suffering from a mental breakdown as a result of a brutal attack. Little do Jenny and her mom know that what’s inside the walls of the mental institution is far more deadly than the world outside. There will also be a documentary about behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film, which Waters will be producing.

“Working on Ditch Day Massacre has been the highlight of my career. It taught and tested me so much. It was an incredible experience as the crew all had the same level of passion and commitment to making this project go,” she said.

Waters had help on Ditch Day Massacre, with producer Michael J. Zampino as a consultant for the film. Zampino has lots of experience working on horror films, including distributing the award-winning film The Slaughter. Despite this, he was still impressed with Waters’ commitment and knowledge of the genre.

“What sets Megan apart from many producers is that she has confidence but very little ego. That’s extraordinary in our business itself. Megan moved mountains and motivated everyone to bring their A-game to complete Ditch Day Massacre in 17 days,” said Zampino. “Megan is a tireless worker who strives to carve out not one film but a career worth of films. Ultimately, the film would never have been completed, and never would have received the attention and sales that is has, if it weren’t for Megan’s drive and leadership. Megan’s successes in the international film and television industry marks her as one of the most successful and skilled producers to come out of Canada in some time.”

Waters’ success is not just limited to film. She produced the Emmy-nominated series Chop Cut Rebuild and the Speed Channel series Street Tuner Challenge. It is not the accolades that motivate her. She says every project is a creative and logistical puzzle that needs to be completed.

“I create and execute. I get an idea, script, project, client need and make it happen. I usually start from where I wish to finish and then work backwards. I think mostly in visual stories and then align the team and resources to execute,” said Waters. “When I produce I like the challenge of figuring out the puzzle pieces and then putting them together. Plus, all the hurdles that make it a one of a kind experience on each project. I love that producing offers a different road every time. I fear a career that becomes repetitive. I love the randomness and goal of planning for the unpredictable. It’s organized chaos and when you build the team that communicates, respects and share the same passion for the project amazing things happen.”

Part of this passion also comes from using film as a tool to send a meaningful and powerful message. Waters has seen. a lot of success while making PSAs, especially producing the PSA “Over Watering Is Out” about water saving gardening. Part of what makes her PSAs captivating is that she refuses to create what she would consider “boring content.”

“When I am considering film or documentary projects I look at the story. It must hold my interest and I must feel passionate it about it. I say this because it takes everything in you to complete a long format project. If you don’t have a connection to it then you will be pulled away from it and it will never get done,” she said.

There is no doubt that with the innate skillset Waters possesses alongside her passion for the industry, her name will continue to roll past the eyes of audiences in the credits for years to come. She is determined to produce quality, and she never lets anything stand in her way.

“I expect and accept challenges. It’s part of producing. I actually joke with my teams that my title may be ‘producer’ but it should be changed to ‘head problem-solver.’ I am proactive and focused on the solution when challenges arise. It’s better to work toward the solution and communicate, communicate, communicate. Some of the best creative ideas have been derived and developed because of a challenge,” she concluded.

You can look out for Waters’ work on the upcoming Accio Cine feature film From Dust to Diamonds, and of course, the anticipated Ditch Day Massacre II.

 

 

Film Director Claudio DiFede’s Date with Cinema Fate

The movie business is fraught with ambition, cynicism and expedience—qualities diametrically opposed to producer-director Claudio DiFede’s gentle, artistic nature. The Canadian-born DiFede, who is equally at home working in television and motion pictures, betrays a gentle, individualistic aesthetic that is a refreshing divergence from hard driving commercially-fixated attitude which so frequently saps the creativity from mainstream Hollywood projects.

Claudio’s aesthetic, part vulnerable hesitancy, part determined auteur, part pop culture guerilla is showcased in his unusual, career defining documentary film “Calling Spielberg.” The story is one of fateful twists and human foibles that reflects the film maker’s distinct, creative philosophy.

The origins of “Calling Spielberg” goes back to the early 1990’s, when the 22 year old Claudio was barnstorming through Tinsel Town, tuxed up and cheeky enough to finagle his way into the People’ Choice Awards ceremony at Sony Studios. This was a star-studded, formal affair with tight security which the charming film maker easily bypassed. Backstage following the presentations, Claudio came to face to face with his greatest idol, the legendary director Steven Spielberg.

“It was a once in a lifetime thing—by chance if you will!” Claudio said. Like my whole life had lead up to that moment in time. It was crazy! Spielberg had just accepted the People’s Choice Special Tribute award and I found myself, backstage, just walking right beside him. It was one of those things I’d always thought of, ‘what would you say to Spielberg if you met him?’ Well, it happened, it took a lot of chutzpha but I introduced myself and I told the biggest Director in Hollywood: ‘Take it to the bank,’ I told him. ‘You and I are going to work together one day. For a split second I thought ‘WTF did I just say to him?’ He smiled, asked my name again and replied ‘Sure kid, why not?’”

Emboldened, Claudio repeated the feat weeks later, but at even higher profile affair: the post-Academy Awards Governor’s Ball at Shrine Auditorium, a big night for Spielberg whose “Schindler’s List” had just won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.

“It happened again a few weeks later, after the Oscars,” Claudio said.  This time I found my chance, I hugged him and face to face I told him that I can only imagine what it must be like to create such an incredible, moving film as Schindler’s List. He replied ‘Thank you,’ and told me it had taken a lot out of him. I then asked, ‘So, when can I call you?'”

DiFede today would not elaborate much more on the conversation or on his reply “I don’t want to give out too much on the film,” he said. “But let’s just say; it was encouraging.”

“I drove home that evening, roof down and I remember I couldn’t contain my emotions any longer. So I let out the loudest scream!” Claudio said. ‘The fact he remembered my name from our first meeting—it was a feeling I cannot describe. We all have dreams and this was mine. It was nothing short of a crazy euphoria.”

Was it just a lark, a childhood fantasy that had unexpectedly played out? Time passed. Claudio moved along with his life, fell in love, married, and started a family.

“I never called the man,” he said. “I had the chance, and I never did. I was asking myself that question. Then It occurred to me, I must be the only human being that never called Steven Spielberg when he asked someone to. What if? What if I did call? I was thinking there must be a lot of people in my situation that have left behind many of opportunities maybe even regrets and dreams left behind. We all once had aspirations, dreams – did I miss my opportunity?  there was one way to find out.20 years later, and that was to make ‘Calling Spielberg.’”

“When I first started working with Claudio I didn’t really have any formal training in filmmaking,” Mike T. King, editor at Big Coat Productions, said. “I jumped at the opportunity. Claudio’s attitude was infectious, which got me excited to hop onboard. The amount of time and effort he has poured into ‘Calling Spielberg’ is incredible, inspiring even. It is his passion project.”

Still in post-production, Calling Spielberg promises to be a fascinating examination of the human condition. Unorthodox and compelling, equal parts documentary, philosophical seeking, self-examination and show business truth-telling, it’s a rich, multifaceted achievement.

“Things happen for a reason, and we simply cannot give up on our dreams,” Claudio said. “I have matured and what my goals were in my 20’s compared to what they are now are very different. My goal now is to truly be who I am, living out my life doing what makes me happy. Honestly, I consider being a dad, fatherhood, as my greatest achievement.“

But Claudio’s romance with film remains profound. “Professionally, I was involved in Canada’s first reality TV show, and that was a great experience,” he said. “And being part of the American Film Institute, just being immersed with such talents from all walks of life was wonderful. To collaborate with my AFI fellows was a cherished experience. I am passionate about storytelling, through television or the big screen, either way its storytelling.”

Claudio’s commitment and emotional involvement with storytelling is a compelling, legitimate creative force, one that is certain to soon reach a wide international audience.

“Claudio is a talented director and pays a great attention to detail,” composer Mark Dunnet said. “He never gives up until he gets that perfect shot or performance”.

Navid Charkhi Dances Into His Second “Descendants” Movie

Working 15-hour days is nothing when you love what you do and you’re having a good time doing it. For Iranian-Canadian dancer, Navid Charkhi, it is working with esteemed director, Kenny Ortega, the cast and the choreographers on Disney’s Descendants 2 film that makes long, grueling days fun in front of and behind the camera.

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Navid Charkhi with Kenny Ortega on the Descendants 2 set.

“The way Kenny talks to the actors and dancers, and presents his acting or movement ideas to the cast– I feel he sees everything happening already and when he gives direction to the cast it is usually brilliant. There’s always a wow factor when you see his demonstrations,” says Charkhi.  “I watch closely and follow his steps behind the scenes.”

Who wouldn’t when working with a three-time Emmy award-winner who has directed projects like High School Musical, choreographed timeless films such as Dirty Dancing, and collaborated with heavy-hitters Michael Jackson, Bette Midler and Gene Kelly?

Charkhi and Ortega actually have similar reasons for getting into show business. Both were inspired as boys by dancers they idolized. For Ortega it was Hollywood screen legend, Kelly that moved him toward a career in the entertainment industry. Charkhi grew up watching Michael Jackson on television and was mesmerized, copying and learning from the popular recording artist and dancer’s moves. Charkhi admits to being a bit starstruck by the Descendants director’s history with the King of Pop.

“Kenny has worked with Micheal Jackson himself. Hearing stories of them working just brings tears to my eyes.”

Ortega is pretty impressed with Charkhi, too. The director recalls that Charkhi proved himself a standout right from the very beginning.

“I could not believe how much talent and skill he demonstrated at the initial auditions for the production,” remembers Ortega. “Usually dancers take a few takes and auditions before beginning to impress the director and the production crew. However, this was not the case for Navid.”

Dancer Navid Charkhi

Indeed Charkhi’s natural instincts when performing complex dance moves became an asset during the three-day Descendants 2 audition.

“On the first day over 400 people showed up and more than 200 of them got cut,” he says.

Co-choreographer, Tony Testa, explains that those who could not keep up while learning a new piece of choreography each day were cut from the production. Charkhi, on the other hand, has quickly made himself an “irreplaceable asset to the film,” according to Ortega. Not long after the initial auditions Charkhi was assigned to working alongside Testa, as he was the only dancer able to keep up with the changing challenges throughout the production.

“[Navid] is able to instantly adapt to any type of dance depending on the style of the production, which is an extremely important characteristic for a Descendants 2 dancer to have,” explains Testa.

In addition to versatility, characterization is also extremely important for a dancer working in the film industry. Ron Oliver directed Charkhi in the film Mostly Ghostly 3, for which Charkhi was promoted as assistant to choreographer, Richard O’Sullivan and helped to create choreography and prepare the cast for filming the sequences in just three days. Oliver is quick to express how well Charkhi works under pressure but, as a director, also gives insight into Charkhi’s acting abilities.

“Navid’s dance aesthetic is extremely distinct from the rest of his peers as he is able to portray character emotions through his dance moves,” states Oliver.

In the first Descendants movie, Charkhi got to play a baddie that wreaks havoc on a village. For Descendants 2, which is set to premiere in summer 2017, he still gets to explore his dark side, this time as a pirate. According to Paul Becker, who co-choreographed the original Descendants film, it’s a far cry from Charkhi’s real-life personality, however.

Navid Charkhi

“Navid is a generous spirit and great to work with,” insists Becker. “His giving nature comes across in his dancing. I have had the pleasure of hiring Navid as a dancer on [multiple] projects and always welcome the opportunity to work with people like him.”

Charkhi’s combination of generosity, work ethic, talent, and ability to adapt to any style or genre makes this Descendants dance principal one to watch as he ascends to great heights in Hollywood.

Brazilian Actor Lucas Zaffari Stars in Anticipated Short Film

For Brazilian actor Lucas Zaffari, acting comes naturally. Every role is an opportunity to better himself. Every role is a chance to learn. And because of that, he is continuously sought after.

Zaffari has a starring role in the short film Locked. Zaffari plays Simon, a 1970’s photographer the finds the love of his life while filming in a park. As time goes by, their relationship starts to have conflicts. One night everything goes south and a series of events occur to make Simon’s life unbearable.

“My character, Simon, is very timid and never had a purpose in life,” described Zaffari. “His life was dull and monotonous until the day Lily crossed his camera and fills his life with color.”

At first, Zaffari was invited by the director Xueru Tang to play to role of a policeman, but instead was asked to audition for the leading role of Simon.

“As soon as I read the script I was drawn to it. That was the first click. The way it was written made me imagine it beautifully in my head,” he said. “After the audition I remember Xueru hugging me and happily saying I was Simon.”

“I knew Xueru would really commit to her film and she did,” he added. “Her directing was on- point, I could understand what she wanted just by her behavior and it was amazing to see her passion towards this film.”

Tang believes that Lucas embodied the role of Simon, and describes him as the “one take king.”

“I really like working with Lucas, he is an exceptional actor and super talented,” she said. “During the whole process Lucas’s performance really touched me. The first day, for the first shot, we took a long time to set the scene up, and as soon as he finished makeup and wardrobe, I saw him lying on the bed. I asked him why he was there and he said ‘I need to get familiar with my bed, my room, here is my home, I lived here for 5 years, I’m Simon.’ That moment really, really touched me. I’ve never seen an actor do this.”

“Lucas will do everything he can to help the film. I’m super happy to choose Lucas as my Simon, and I’m so proud of him,” she added.

The film, which was shot on a sound stage built for the project, presented some challenges for Zaffari, but provided great learning experiences.

“The underwater scene was challenging in many ways. Besides the water temperature not being ideal to stay for more than 2 hours, I was supposed to fall on my back in the pool, but facing up underwater I had to constantly blow air from my nose, otherwise I’d drown, so I could never stay too long underwater,” he said, describing the first underwater scene he has had to film. “But with all the commitment and talent of the crew I strongly believe that we captured a beautiful moment.”

On set, Zaffari was recognized for overcoming any challenge he was presented with, which the cast and crew found very impressive.

“Lucas is really good at what he does because of his devotion and passion for the character he plays. For one shot, he had to sit completely still for over 30 minutes, and he did it with no complaints,” said Johanna Coelho, the director of photography on the film. “Working with Lucas was an amazing experience. He was extremely professional on set, always very cooperative to work with the cinematography department to make the shot work. I was always impressed behind my lens, watching him getting into character so fast and always succeeding performance every take.”

Zaffari also said that although he and Simon have their similarities, there is a large part of the character that is the complete opposite from himself.

“I was really interested in studying and working on that character because that is what I’m passionate about acting,” he said. “Every job, and every character is a new opportunity to learn and to study human behavior, and to be able to show that in a character is so rewarding for me.”

Zaffari believes that the most rewarding part of being cast in Locked was being able to work with such a talented crew.

“The cooperation with so many talented people created a wonderful creative environment that undoubtedly made this film extraordinary. It was beautiful to see this cooperation working, they really commit to the tasks and that flourished the environment with productiveness and creativeness. I remember when an unexpected blackout of the whole block stopped the production and in literally less than 10 minutes the crew got the generator on with all the lights of the set back on, ready to be filmed. That was impressive,” he said. “My partner Alyona Chase was incredible. She was really opened to rehearse and to talk about the scene and motivations of the characters. She really committed to the project and it’s great to work with talented and determined people. As an actor it’s really important to use stimuli for your performance and Alyona was amazing in giving 110% for every shot.”

“I was reminded of the importance of group collaboration,” he added. “Being part of this project and paying attention to the crew showed me how important is to have a good solid group working with you. I saw in everyone working on this project the common goal and that created a perfect environment for it.”

Locked is intended to be released at next years big film festivals, including Cannes and Sundance.