“The Way We Get By” Star Francesca Ravera Prepares for NYC Premiere of “Espresso”

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Italian Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Mario Buscaglia

Italian actress Francesca Ravera, who has made a huge mark for herself in the U.S. film and theater industry over the past few years, recently brought her talents back to her home country where she wowed audiences with her lead role as Beth in the acclaimed production of “The Way We Get By.” 

After a hugely successful run at the Urban Stages Theater in New York earlier this year, “The Way We Get By” embarked on an Italian summer tour with performances in Milan, Turin and Genoa. 

Written by American playwright Neil LaBute and directed by Kim T. Sharp, “The Way We Get By” revolves around Beth, played by Ravera,and Doug, two young attractive singles who meet at a drunken wedding reception and end up having sex at the apartment Beth shares with her control freak roommate. However, the intimacy that commences between the two is far from organic, and the underlying root of that is one of the main complexities of the story that makes it so intriguing. 

“Beth is a sweet and sensitive girl who has been hurt by fleeting flings with boys who only wanted her for her body. Used to being seen as an object or a trophy, Beth tries to connect with Doug the only way she knows how- through seduction,” explains Ravera. 

“I enjoyed exploring her needs, her desire to connect with Doug and be free to love him. I dug into her dreams, fears and contradictions.” 

After waking Beth up with his insomniac fidgeting, Doug deflects her sexual advances and she reveals that they share a surprising bond from the past. Beyond this startling discovery, we also learn that Beth is dealing, or in the moment, not dealing, with a riddled sexual history where, having been previously objectified by men, she’s learned to rely upon her sexuality as her only way to connect.

“The role [of Beth] called for an actor who could commit to the moment while still having a complicated, conflicting history she needed to access as the action shifted,” explains director Kim T. Sharp. 

A sexy and fast-paced rom com about love, lust and life, there’s no doubt about it, Francesca Ravera was the perfect actress to play the starring role of Beth in the production.

“It was fabulous to see [Francesca] unlock one moment after another as she found the foundation of Beth. When the action shifted and Beth was faced with her past it was both surprising and, yet, understandable. Francesca brought Beth’s two worlds together in a richly satisfying way.”

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Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Giada Lefebvre

“The Way We Get By” depended heavily on Ravera, and her performances in both Italy and the U.S. did not disappoint.

“In addition to her talent and commitment, she possessed a presence on stage. ‘Presence’ is an elusive quality that keeps the audience engaged even when the actor is not talking, moving or doing business; the audience is simply drawn to the character,” says Sharp. 

“In my experience as a director, it is a rare and intriguing quality that even very talented actors don’t have access to. Francesca’s presence was an essential part of the success of the project.”

For Ravera, who moved to the States a few years ago, where she has little expectations other than to complete her training and become a better actor, coming back to Italy with the production of “The Way We Get By,” which was performed in English, is like coming full circle.

“When I moved to New York I was focusing on what I had to give and offer, as a person, and as an actor. Little did I know back then that so many offers would come my way here in the U.S.,” admits Francesca. “‘I began feeling, every day, overwhelming gratitude, which translated into an urge to give even more. It was about then that this amazing opportunity opportunity came my way, and I was able to bring my work, and the work of an incredible American Playwright, to Europe, and perform it in its original language.”

In addition to illustrious list of powerful theatrical performances, Ravera has been praised internationally for her film work. She recently took home numerous Awards for Best Actress from the Oniros Film Awards, Care Awards, the Diamond Film Awards, Best Actor Award, Milestone Worldwide Film Festival, Mindfield Film Festival Albuquerque, Five Continents International Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Awards for her titular role in the dramatic film Claire. 

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Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Claudio Catania

Directed by Andrea Silvestro and produced by Adrama, which  Ravera previously worked with on the film Ulysses: A Dark Odyssey, where she shared the screen with four-time Primetime Emmy nominee Danny Glover, Claire tells the story of a young woman who is trying to hold on to a failing relationship despite knowing deep down that her fiance no longer loves her.

Claire screened in July at the at the Venus Italian Film Festival in Las Vegas, where Ravera took home yet another Award for Best Actress, as well as the at the Chain Film Festival last month. 

Up next for the actress is the production of Canadian playwright Lucia Frangione’s “Espresso,” which is slated to run in New York in 2020. 

Earlier this month “Espresso” had its first NYC premiere via a staged reading at Urban Stages Theatre in NYC directed by Kim T. Sharp, who directed Ravera in “The Way We Get By,” where it earned powerful and positive reviews. 

UK media outlet The 730 Review writes, “Clever banter and meticulous metaphors abound in Ms. Frangione’s bold and brilliant script, yet no word ever feels misplaced, forced, or indulgently included for the sake of ostentatiousness. The actors confidently give convincing performances, no matter the role they are playing in any given moment.”

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Jesse Koehler & Francesca Ravera in the Staged Reading of “Espresso” by ACV Photography

“Espresso” revolves largely around Ravera’s character Rosa Dolores, a first generation Canadian, and her Italian family. In fact, Ravera takes on three pivotal and starkly different roles in the production, the first as Rosa, the co-narrator of the story and the daughter of the now hospitalized patriarch Vito, her grandmother Nonna, and her stepmother Cinzella. 

Ravera says, “This story is inspired by the playwright’s life, and I could feel this. ‘Espresso’ is a generous and beautifully written gift, filled with humanity and passion. It makes you laugh, and cry, and ache and think, and hope. It’s a blessing for me to have been cast in it.”

Ravera plays opposite Jesse Koehler, who interchangeably takes on the roles of Vito, Jesus and Amante, who serves as both the Holy Spirit and a symbol of Eros.

A passionate story about family values, religion, oppression and transformation centered around three women very different women in need of deep healing, “Espresso” is definitely one production theatre goers won’t want to miss. 

 

Composer Weijun Chen dances away with audiences’ hearts in Aspen

The moment Weijun Chen puts his pencil to a piece of staff paper, he allows inspiration to overtake him. From the outside, watching him sketch notes onto a piece of paper, it may not seem like the most glamorous job, but when an orchestra is performing his music that he spent so long crafting, he feels truly alive.

Chen is a classical composer, writing music for symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, instrumentalists, and singers, which is then performed at grand concert halls and music festivals all over the world. He is a renowned composer, best known for Three Earlier Songs, Watercolors, and Canoe, to name a few.

“I write every single note on the page, from vague ideas, sketches, to complete scores. In terms of the writing process itself, I am quite old-fashioned. I always start with pencil and staff paper, and eventually move to the computer during the engraving and mock-up stages. Once the piece is finished, I work closely with the musicians to bring the music to life. Often times, some of my works were written for a specific soloist or group of musicians, so the collaboration process starts during the writing stage. I also enjoy collaborating with artists from other disciplines, as my music often draws influence from poetry and visual arts,” said Chen.

Chen has seen much success throughout his career, but he believes the highlight came when he wrote the orchestral version of his piece Dancer. Already a success as a chamber piece, Chen decided to rework Dancer for an orchestra after being awarded the Jacob Druckman Prize by the Aspen Music Festival in 2015 with an invitation to the 2016 festival to premiere new work.

“I believe that writing for orchestra is a composer’s highest calling, and there is no better feeling than hearing your music performed by a large orchestra at a premier classical music festival in the beautiful mountains of Colorado,” said Chen.

Despite the title’s implications of continual movement and activity, Danceropens with somber stillness, a single chord that then gradually collapses under slowly descending scalar lines. As the glacial motion rises again through chromatic dissonances, gentle clusters form periodically, producing alternating moments of tension and relaxation. Then, after building in intensity, scale fragments and rapid turn figures cascade through the orchestra, initiating the swirling, dancing central section. This culminates in a growling climax and a grand pause, leading into the concluding slow section.

“When I was drafting this final slow section in February 2016, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of American composer Steven Stucky’s passing. Stucky was the director of composition at the Aspen Music Festival where this piece later received its premiere. The last section unmistakably became an elegy, in memory of my beloved mentor,” said Chen.

Chen decided to create an orchestral version of Dancer after the success of the original chamber piece for several reasons. Musically, when he was working on the chamber version, he realized that the intended soundscape, in particular the overlapping scale lines, would have great potential written for an orchestra. When the opportunity arrived from the Aspen Music Festival in 2016, he jumped on it immediately.

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2016 Aspen Music Festival
Bowing after the premiere of Dancer
W/ Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra & conductor George Jackson

The orchestral version of Dancer is both an expansion and a reduction. By expansion, the ensemble got bigger by ten-fold, and Chen was able to fully take advantage of the color palate of an orchestra. Dovetailing techniques are used extensively in the piece, as Chen threads the scale materials across the entire orchestra. By reduction, he deleted a large portion of music from the chamber version, specifically the Spanish-dance-influenced melodic section, as he felt that the materials were out of focus and not as compelling.

“It was simply amazing to see how my music came alive in the hands of seventy incredibly talented young orchestral musicians, under the baton of Maestro Jackson. It was also immensely gratifying to hear the transformative improvements from one rehearsal to another, and the premiere performance was deeply moving,” said Chen.

After its premiere at the 2016 Aspen Music Festival, the performance received a brief mention in The Aspen Times. The reviewer, Harvey Steiman, stated that “Dancer explored resonant harmonies and sonorities and reflected fine command of orchestration and form.” The piece was also a finalist in the 2017-18 The American Prize in Composition, Orchestra Music.

“I felt extremely grateful. As composers, we completely rely on others (i.e., the musicians) to bring our wildest imaginations to life. It is even more true in an orchestral setting, simply due to the sheer number of players and moving parts. This piece would not exist without the support and dedication from the music festival, Maestro Jackson, and the amazing musicians of the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra,” said Chen.

On top of its success, Dancer has deep meaning for Chen. The greatest reward, for the composer, was honoring his mentor and friend.

“It was impossible not to think of Steve when I was at the premiere in Aspen. I was honored to share this piece with many of his colleagues, friends, and students in the audience. I miss him dearly, and I hope that the success of the premiere would make him proud,” he concluded.

 

Cover photo by Ahron Cho

The Artist Life with Frances Folies

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There are layers in the meaning of the word “artist.” These are important because the difference between being skillful at your craft and possessing this AND an expansive vision for its possibilities is what separates talent from true artistry. The latter describes Fraukje Van De Wiele aka Frances Folies. An artist can be anyone from a painter to a pastry chef; Fraukje’s work as a makeup and hair artist displays the traits that make her an internationally recognized leader in her field. Print and the exponentially increasing digital formats which exhibit the world’s many interpretations of style & fashion have given this Belgian born talent the opportunity to expand the many “beauty dialects” of our time. From celebrity models, to fashion influencers, and everyday people, Frances Folies has become an important part of the evolving discussion of what defines beauty. More importantly to her, it’s a way of presenting the strength and importance of women today.

Every artist is part historian. As they say, “You must know the rules to break them.” Francisco Valencia’s Elegant magazine (the online version of which is Mith Magazine) featured Frances’s work with Belgian photographer Babeth Albrecht in the photo essay titled “Pink Inception.” Albrecht’s minimalist approach found a counterpoint in Folies lively yet sparse use of color. Frances remarks, “Nature is a major inspiration to me. Though I lean towards the dramatic, the beauty in small things can be quite impactful. Flower petals, landscapes; these things can go unnoticed until something focuses your gaze on them. This is when you take notice of the majesty of nature. It’s peaceful and powerful.” “Pink Inception” displays the spectrum of Folies work as she exercises subtle restraint yet still manages to infuse Albrecht’s framing with flourishes of chromaticity.

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Folies finds her true north in looks that are the inverse of self-conscious, at least in regards to a visual demeanor. Women are not a monolith. There is no single accepted definition of what makes a woman feminine or attractive; nor should there be. Frances holds the contention that a woman is perhaps most powerful when her look is strikingly feminine. As she states, “It’s important to celebrate femininity in all forms. I love the over the top Glitter & Kitsch of Burlesque. I always tend to create something dreamy, girly, glamourous, and pretty; however, I also like to clash and contract in styles. I’ve been drawn to it since my youth. It’s about claiming who you are. I can love Hip Hop just as much as 50’s Jive; beauty and personal expression should not be any different.” Vetting Folies acclaim in this approach, model Gia Genevieve specifically requested Frances as her makeup artist on the photoshoots which created Gia’s 2018 pin-up calendar. Known for gracing the covers of major publication like Galore Magazine and Playboy (in which she was also featured), starring in music videos like “Now That You’re Gone” by Grammy-Award winning band The Raconteurs, and a massive Instagram following, Genevieve has come to define this retro approach to modern beauty. Photographed at the iconic Madonna Inn, the photos are a benchmark for Vintage glamour style in the 2010s.

The strength of a true artist is in their vision and its relevancy, rather than attaching themselves eternally to one form. Displaying her versatility, Folies recently worked on a photo shoot for the French photo art publication Normal Magazine. US photographer Paul Zhen enlisted Frances for the project which took place directly across from the Louvre in Paris. Surrounded by the original 19th century décor, four models (@CharlineMuse, @alexandrazimny, @tanyachubko, @chloejasmincjw- British- X factor finalist UK 2014) appear in garb inspired by the era of Marie Antoinette. Reminiscent of a period that coveted class and formality above all, Frances recreation of the look somehow infuses a modern attitude with this classic look. The delicate nature of combining such contrasting ideals in a cohesive manner is not to be understated or under appreciated. The stunning handmade period inspired dresses featured in the photos were created by the famous @Ritual_official. This re-einvisioning of historical style between Zhen, Frances, and @Ritual_official features the drama of late 1700’s France with the titillating color of present day. Even in this traditional setting, Frances has found collaborators who are empowered by her exciting presentation.

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While it isn’t the most discussed component of an artist’s personality, responsibility is one found in the greats. Frances has no misconceptions that her work as a makeup artist supersedes the importance of the commerce taking place in a majority of the industry. Even makeup can’t compete with specialized filters and the kind of pressure placed on women to reach an impossible standard of beauty. To offset this, Frances reveals, “That’s why I offer from several times a year professional photoshoots in collab with a female photographer who has the same goal to prove to everyday women that they also can be as glamorous as professional models. After this type of photo session, the female clients go home with lots of confidence and feel good about themselves. This is part of why I love my job so much. Not only do I want to create visual magic but, I also love to give everyone a good feeling about themselves. It feels great to make them happy and see that sparkle in their eyes when they look in the mirror at themselves when hair-and make-up is done. That is truly the biggest satisfaction of my job, that feeling of enjoying beauty in all its shapes and forms.”

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(All photos courtesy of Lesley Hoste)

Max McLachlan helps kick-off the newest season of ‘The Voice Australia’

As a renowned cinematographer, Max McLachlan translates a vision into a visual. Through the use of lighting, camera, and lenses, he tells a story. Originally from the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia, McLachlan is now a recognized name around the world for what he does, and his passion for his work translates directly to what audiences see on screen.

“The Cinematographer must work closely with the Director to ensure their vision comes to life in front of the camera and I find that whole process so exciting and satisfying,” said McLachlan.

McLachlan is an asset to any project he takes on, with a vast knowledge in Steadicam operation that allows him to consider original camera movement suggestions that many may never have considered. This unique approach can be seen in many of his projects, from his new acclaimed horror flick The Furies to DZ Deathrays’ award-nominated music video “Like People”. He has extensive training in a variety of camerawork, and this versatility creates an outstanding viewing experience for audiences.

“I love the juxtaposition when handheld footage is cut together with Steadicam footage. If a scene goes from smooth Steadicam shots to all of a sudden handheld, then it gives the viewer an indication that the tone of the story is about to change and I love that,” he said.

Recently, millions of viewers around Australia got to see McLachlan’s work on their tv screens on the season premiere of The Voice Australia. The iconic singing competition is similar to the American format, where four celebrity judges blindly listen to contestants, looking to find the best voices to fill their team that they then coach. The contestants then battle it out throughout the weeks until one lucky artist is crowned “The Voice”. The most recent season in Australia features judges Delta Goodrem, Kelly Rowland, Boy George, and Guy Sebastian, global superstars that McLachlan worked closely with on the project.

“I think The Voice is a unique talent show in that the initial auditions are purely based off the singing ability of the performer, not on their looks. Too many talent shows focus only on the physical show of the performance and I think so many talented singers get overlooked because they don’t meet society’s image of what a pop star should look like. I also like the fact that each performer that makes it past auditions gets to choose which celebrity judge they want to be mentored by. This sets The Voice format apart from the rest and allows the viewer to look behind the curtain at the training and mentoring that takes place between each contestant and their celebrity mentor,” said McLachlan.

McLachlan was in charge of shooting the opener for the season, which featured the four judges singing Phil Collins’ iconic hit “In The Air Tonight.” Before the shoot, McLachlan sat down with Director of Photography Gregoire Liere and Director Harry Hunter to discuss the storyboard. There were a number of CGI elements they wanted to include into the edit as the whole sequence had a futuristic look and feel. For McLachlan, this meant leaving extra space in certain frames for special effects elements to take place.

On top of this, each celebrity judge had a different setting and required specific lighting, but the Steadicam moves stayed relatively the same for each scene. McLachlan was often finding ways to find the shots more dynamic. At one point, while the team was waiting for lighting to be adjusted with Boy George, he grabbed Liere’s attention and showed him a shot he had in mind where he rolled the camera from left to right as he pushed in on Boy George performing. The shot made it into the final cut and is extremely captivating.

“I think the large-scale nature of the shoot is what I liked most about the project. We had a different set for each of the judge’s performances and then an additional set where all four of them performed together. This allowed Gregoire and I to create a specific look for each judge in their environment. We also had a large lighting and camera support crew at our disposal, so we were able to implement lighting changes quite quickly without holding everyone up. It was also fun to work with the judges as they were professional and didn’t need too much direction or practice which allowed myself and Gregoire to get the most out of each shot,” McLachlan described.

The Voice Australia premiered on May 19th, 2019 and raked in almost two million viewers, one of the week’s most watched programs. McLachlan’s tremendous work for the opener became a hit online, with over 500,000 views on YouTube alone. It is a remarkable achievement and shows just how adept he is behind the camera.

“It was a great feeling being able to start the new season of The Voice Australia with a sequence that I was directly a part of. I think it is an incredible achievement. Our opener sequence with the judges helped set a high standard for the rest of the season of the show which I am stoked about. I think everyone involved in the production did an incredible job and should be very proud of what we achieved,” said McLachlan.

The Voice Australia is on 7 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Monday, and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on Nine Network in Australia. Be sure to check it out, and in the meantime, watch the Season 8 Opener here.

Comedic Actor William Prescott on the Difference between Commercials and Streaming

William Prescott, who currently appears across two seasons of the Netflix hit series Glitch, is also widely seen in huge campaigns for companies for Ford, Sportsbet and VB.

When William Prescott started acting, he wanted to do it all. Every genre, every type of character, every medium. 

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William Prescott, photographed by Julian Dolman.

It’s rarely the case that actors’ dreams actually come to fruition, but in the case of this Melbourne local who’s now bound for the United States, William’s career has enjoyed the dreams of many a fellow actor. 

“I worked in an office for 10 years before finally getting my acting going. I didn’t start until I was 27 and it takes time to build it to a financially sustainable place. Eventually I quit the office life for good. I’m so grateful that I now get to just do what I love doing full time with no more Monday dread!”

The versatility of the acclaimed actor’s talents, which have treaded the boards for Q44 Theatre Company and shared screen-time with other award-winning Australian actors, is reflected in the dynamism of his project choices and the wide variety of roles he continues to play.

In the series Glitch, William embodies the role of Connor Carmichael with such considerable edge that only someone of his left-of-centre awareness, reminiscent of actors like Joaquin Phoenix and Christian Bale, could do so.

In one scene in this year’s new season of Glitch, William’s character of Connor returns to an unexpectedly hostile reception from “Phil” played by award winning actor Rob Collins. Without giving too much away, William plays the bumbling and friendly Connor to perfection and expertly showcases fear, panic, comedy and drama. When watching the series, it’s clear that William manages to do it all seamlessly across the two seasons. 

Also significant is the way William continues to play starring roles in campaigns for iconic Australian company Dare Iced Coffee on one end, and in another for McCain Chips. It’s no surprise that he is a firm favourite for these multinational companies and their big advertising budgets, as William naturally embodies an everyman charm which continues to posit him as an audience favourite. 

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William’s everyman appeal has been used by a plethora of multinational companies to help sell products, including this acclaimed campaign for McCain Craft Beer Batter Chips.

“I love comedy. It’s where my acting naturally sits. I find myself gravitating towards it even in drama because often it’s where the truth lies. I don’t need to think too hard about it and I find that so long as it’s not forced, making people laugh means they’re connecting to the story you’re telling.”

In an increasingly saturated media landscape, it’s rare for an actor to make a living full-time off their craft, but William is one of the lucky few who benefit from prioritising ability over the pursuit of fame or celebrity. Indeed, when examining his resume which includes critical roles in shows like Movement with Maria Angelica and The Time of Our Lives with Shane Jacobsen and Claudia Karvan (Love My Way), it’s clear that William has bided his time in forging relationships with revered industry figures. 

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William appears in the acclaimed drama The Time of Our Lives, and is credited alongside a stellar cast including Shane Jacobsen and Claudia Karvan (left).

“I worked with Shane Jacobson on The Time of Our Lives and I just remember how much he had everyone on set laughing…I was nervous. He had me at ease and sharing some banter quickly and I thought – that’s how I want to operate in the industry. I want it to be fun, all the time, even when it’s hard work.”

It’s no doubt the case that William has played a crucial role for companies like McCain and Dare given the lasting impression his hilarious performances in their campaigns leave on the minds of audiences, shaping the way the company is perceived. 

Funnily enough, William has experience playing two characters in the same project, as he did with brilliant comedic timing in Tom Cruise Disorder and The Next Big Thing. Both performances attracted notices from top industry figures. 

Justin Rupple, American actor and comedian known for his celebrity impressions and work in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and his performance alongside Liam Neeson in the 2016 film Operation Chromite said “William’s Tom Cruise performance in TCD might be one of the best impressions I’ve ever seen.”

The two are looking to collaborate in the US together soon on a comedy project. 

Aside from the critical acclaim such performances generate, William’s roles in campaigns like McCain, Dare and also Sportsbet reflect a considerable degree of success in helping the Australian companies generate a substantial return for stakeholders and investors. 

Indeed, each campaign has seen a return or increase in a customer base, a commercial accomplishment that can without a doubt be attributed back to the memorable performances of William. 

“I remember the first time I performed in the ABC series Glitch in season 2, I really didn’t know anyone. I had a scene with Hannah Monson who I hadn’t met before. The first time we did meet was 3 mins before we filmed the scene during a rehearsal. Fortunately she was a total champion as was everyone else. But walking out onto the outdoor set and meeting everyone, thinking about the scene, the lines, etc. It tests your ability to focus on the reason you’re there – to help tell a story.”

William’s performances in other projects, like his memorable turns as Teddy in Beat Bugs or as Sam in Lucky Stryke alongside Leticia Monaghan (Neighbours) and Mark Kenfield (Underbelly). In those projects, William’s abilities to deliver short sharp bursts of comedy  were readily apparent. More than that, William stole every scene he was in much the same way he continues to do so with all the campaigns that currently air all over the world. 

“When I get cast in something, anything, I just feel grateful. It goes back to the office stuff for me. This acting life is all just one big game that I get paid to play. It’s a reminder that I don’t need to be unhappy in my working life. I don’t believe that anybody does.”

It’s no surprise that William has been offered work in the US – the specifics of the projects are under wraps, but it goes without saying that this hard-working actor is excited. 

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William has been offered a role in an upcoming comedy project filming in the United States. Details have been kept under wraps, but the actor is “thrilled.”

“I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work in the U.S. It’s going to be an adventure and I’m interested to see where it takes my career. I’m open to all possibilities.” 

Behind the Scenes: Internationally Celebrated VFX Supervisor and Flame Artist Gurvand Tanneau

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“Better Than Love” Director Ted Carney and VFX Supervisor Gurvand Tanneau (right)

Gurvand Tanneau has spent the past two decades setting the screen on fire with his highly acclaimed skills as a senior flame artist and VFX supervisor. Widely regarded as an accomplished post-production effects artist, he’s been tapped to lead VFX work for some of the biggest names in the business, such as Method, Moving Picture Company (MPC), EightVFX, Mikros Image Group, Mac Guff, Ntropic, and Logan. A clear reflection of his standing in the industry, Tanneau’s credits include VFX works for clients such as Apple, Audi, Adidas, Mercedes, Budweiser, Peugeot, Armani, L’Oreal, Toyota, Dodge,  and Coca Cola, to name just a few. 

Now working at the height of the industry, Tanneau recalls how he got started working in the industry back in 2001, “After working on some junior jobs at an editing company, I was given the opportunity to make some basic visual effects tests for an offline edit of a commercial. I had a great time doing them… They turned out to be a success and the producer liked my work enough to offer me a position at a visual effects company, Def2Shoot, to go further.”   

Tanneau’s talents have since been integral to the success of numerous advertising campaigns such as the Super Bowl commercials for Mercedes-Benz’s “The Science,” Anheuser-Busch’s “Buschhhh,” Acura’s “The Dark Horse” and Suzuki’s “Sled,” as well as commercials for Geico’s “The Giant,” “Spaceship” and “The Whale,” and Nissan’s “The Chase.” 

As the VFX supervisor on a production, Gurvand Tanneau is responsible for guiding the entire VFX team, ensuring the seamless continuity of the work and making the necessary changes when things fall short, which is a rare occurrence when he is the one behind the scenes. With his expertise in all aspects of special effects, Tanneau helps to make the impossible, possible. 

“I worked extensivly on a lot of commercials for the luxe industry, many of which have been high-end perfumes and cosmetic brands. The demand for quality is extremly high in this industry; the work must be seamless. It is a very rigorous environment with tight time timelines and where everything is judged by a standard of flawless perfection. Starting my career in that kind of environment has allowed me to develop an eye and sensibility for projects that depend on the aesthetic of an image,” explains Tanneau.

In addition to his contributions to the field of marketing and advertising, Gurvand Tanneau has also been a key VFX artist and supervisor on hit television series including “Chicago Fire,” and has contributed to Top 40 music videos with celebrities like Janet Jackson, in her 2016 “Dammn Baby” video, which has over 9 million views on YouTube. He has also worked on cutting-edge films such as the thriller “lll Wind” directed by Stephane Allagon, the dramatic film “La Pirogue” directed by Morussa Toure and the dramatic comedy “Odette Toulemonde” starring Catherine Frott and Albert Dupontel.

Born in Brittany, France, Tanneau realized his passion for visual effects at the age of 12 after discovering he could manipulate chemicals to produce certain effects that he could then introduce into films. He has been living and working in Los Angeles for the past six years, where he is represented by Digital Artists Agency. By the time he was 21, he moved to Paris to pursue a career in film production. It was there that he began to make a name for himself working on commercials for BMW led by MPC London, Schweppes led by NOZON Brussels, and H&M campaigns created by CHIMNEY Stockholm. 

Tanneau recalls, “While In Paris I was working essentially on beauty commercials, including cosmetics, perfumes, and fashion.” 

While in Paris, in 2004, Tanneau ventured out as the animator and visual effects flame artist for the popular cartoon “Obras” directed by Hendrick Dusollier (“A Day in the Life of a Dictator”), which earned numerous awards including those from the Aubagne International Film Festival, the Dresden Film Festival and the Lutins du Court-Metrage, as well as nominations from the Cesar Awards and the Lyon Festival of New Generation Cinema. He was also a key member of the visual effects team on the 2010 Guldbagge Award nominated biographical film “Cornelius.” 

Six years ago, Tanneau was brought to Los Angeles where he has since been represented by the Digital Artists Agency, to further develop his skills and provide specialized VFX support to major U.S. and global brands. When working on a project, Tanneau’s involvement begins in the early concept planning stages where he lends his expertise to developing the creative elements that are designed to captivate and intrigue audiences. From proposing artistic direction and determining which technology would be the most effective, his role is both creative and technical. He meticulously follows through the entire process, collaborating with the post production teams to implement the stunning effects that ultimately enthrall viewers. Tanneau attributes his success, in part, to those who he has learned from.  

Tanneau explains, “Having a background in photography and having been surrounded by artists most of my life has allowed me to cultivate a strong aesthetic and critical eye for images. I have been very fortunate to learn from and work closely with many talented artists who have come from photography, particularly fashion photography. The work I do is very similar, particularly when considering the light in a scene. Except in my work, that light is moving, and I can use that light to enhance the details of the form and quality of materials.”

The special effects graphics expert brings 20 years of experience to the table.  He has the uncanny ability to apply his knowledge and skills in a seemingly effortless fashion in a way that brings magic to life on the screen. His optical and digital work-streams are inspiring, along with his superior experience in specialized areas as stop-motion, motion graphic design, on-set practical effects, and VFX supervision that are simply phenomenal. 

With a dazzling portfolio that proves he is both dynamic and exceptionally talented, Tanneau has been tapped to work as a VFX supervisor and specialized flame artist on a wide variety of production in countries such as England, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Australia, Czech Republic, and Russia. In 2016 Tanneau was VFX supervisor on the indie movie “Better than Love” directed by Ted Carney, starring Andrew Lawrence (“Bean,” “Bones”), Alexandra Rodriquez (“The X Factor,” “East Los High”) and Matthew Lawrence (“Mrs. Doubtfire”).

Tanneau’s work in the world of visual effects ranges from the highly technical creative design of graphic visuals like the ones seen in the L’Oreal commercial below, to integral changes to live action film footage, such as removing elements that cannot be seen in the final product, and much more.

For “Better than Love” Tanneau had the heft task of removing a number of things present in the live captures.  

“On set we found out there would be things to erase from the picture, like billboards for example. Or we would need to change or remove names and images from things like posters, mailboxes, and TV screens. Removing these in post helps to ensure continuity and is often more efficient due to the cost and time it often takes during the live capture,” explains Tanneau. 

All of Tanneau’s work comes down to serving the storyline, and without his work, many of these projects would not only cost the production exorbitant amounts of money, but some of them may never see the light of day.

Tanneau’s unabridged combination of experience, knowledge and talent in the visual effects industry make him a leading artist that is sought after by the biggest names in the business and judging from his popularity, it doesn’t appear the fire will be dying down anytime soon.

 

Hong Kong’s Samuel Lam gives musical life to new Chinese television series

Samuel Lam was born with a large birthmark on the right side of his face and spent much of his childhood alone because of it. Growing up in Hong Kong, it was hard for him, being a loner, but when he was 12 years of age, his sister bought him a guitar and his whole life changed. Music became a way to express himself, changing his personality and giving him something to connect with others.

Now, Lam is an industry leading composer and orchestrator is his home country and abroad. He has worked on multi-million-dollar blockbusters, such as Crazy Alien, to award-winning films like Mommy’s Girl. He has scored dozens of short films, and has many exciting projects on the way, including Paramount’s Playing with Fire, starring John Cena, Judy Greer and Keegan-Michael Key, directed by Andy Fickman, and Detective Chinatown, a 12 episode web-series, produced and written by Chen Sicheng, the director of the feature film of the same name, which generated over $600 million USD at the box office.

Lam is known all over the world for his talent, and recently worked on the highly anticipated Chinese series Paratrooper Spirit. The show is about a team of paratroopers with actual combat as their training ground, as they push hard to level up their fighting abilities and complete different missions. Set in the foreground of military reform, the story follows military men like Zhang Qi and Qi Xiao Tian. To develop an air force that can compete in the global stage, a special team called Guo Gai Tou has gathered. After the initial adjustment period, Guo Gai Tou began fighting wars in the North and South and challenging greater enemies. Warriors from Guo Gai Tou who are dispatched to other teams become aces in the field.

“It is a good way to increase understanding and knowledge about the military through the influence of media and entertainment. This show has a really interesting military service theme, the paratrooper,” said Lam.

Working on a series is far different than a feature film, and Lam was eager to work on his first television show with Paratrooper Spirit and working in television in China differs greatly from America. Rather than getting each episode weekly, as the U.S. does things, Lam got every episode of the show at once. Although there is a greater time crunch with this method, Lam likes knowing how the entire story is developed to orchestrate the score accordingly. He was given all 35 episodes of the season to work on and began by watching each one. Then he and his team started developing essential thematic materials such as main theme and melodies for characters that worked with each and every episode and helped to tell the story.

“It is very challenging working on a TV Show. Because of the large amount of content, you have to be very organized, and work at a super-fast pace. I had to arrange all kinds of music genres, from action orchestra, to rock and romantic pop song, and that was really fun,” said Lam.

It takes an extremely broad skill-set to orchestrate for a television show, and Lam possesses just that. He arranged hundreds of minutes of music for Paratrooper Spirit that will continue to be played over the show’s run, with millions hearing his work, and he couldn’t be more excited.

Paratrooper Spirit is currently being promoted in China and will be released in September 2019 on a major television network in the country. Be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Mix Engineer Jordan Oorebeek works with emerging Canadian pop icon Jordan Waller

With the infinite possibilities that music offers, no two days are the same for Jordan Oorebeek, an immensely talented and sought-after recording engineer, mix engineer, and producer in Canada. Every day has the same ultimate goal; make excellent art, but the unending variables of songs, personalities, studios, instruments, gear and glitches makes every day have its own unique challenges and rewards. He is constantly trying to put a moving puzzle together, and sometimes, he does not even know what it is supposed to look like until he takes a step back. When he has that “ah-ha!” moment, that adrenaline rush is why he loves what he does so much.

Oorebeek is known for his work with many prominent musicians in Canada, including Chris Buck Band, Wes Mack, George Canyon, and many more. He has made a significant mark in Canada’s country music scene, with many of his projects being nominated for CCMAs, and he was awarded with the 2018 British Columbia Country Music Association Recording Professional of the Year Award. For Oorebeek, however, it isn’t about awards or recognition; he simply just enjoys what he does.

“I love to create contrast and dynamics in my productions. I often employ bold transitions between a softly sung pre chorus with just an acoustic guitar, into a full band chorus with the singer belting out. I believe it’s this kind of contrast that we as humans love in every great story. Creating dynamic highs and lows in songs helps to mimic the emotional experience in life that makes us connect with music so deeply. My productions are more often than not very “hi-fi” and polished in nature, but I’ve also worked on many projects where a stripped down more raw and vulnerable approach was what the song needed. I know a lot of producers who really impart ‘their’ sound to a record, but that’s not really my style. My role as a producer is to be a creative liaison for the artist’s vision. I think it’s important to know when to stay out of the way and when to guide,” said Oorebeek.

Oorebeek’s success is not limited to the country music genre and has worked with many artists spanning across genres from electro-pop to rock. He recently collaborated with pop singer Jordan Waller on his newest album. Oorebeek loves mixing pop/dance songs, so when he first heard Waller’s music, he was really looking forward to working in this style. Waller’s music, although very pop driven, had elements of real drums, acoustic guitar and electric guitar, and Oorebeek loved that.

Before he starts mixing, Oorebeek always listens to the rough mix. It gives him cues and insight into what the producer’s vision is for the song. He finds it is a way of learning about the artist without them actually being there. When he began working on Waller’s music, he once again started in such a way. Then he began mixing.

A mix can make or break a great song, so when Oorebeek was mixing Waller’s music, he was always focusing on what elements in the mix were essential to bring forward. Which synths had a rhythm to them that gave him a feeling? What was the relationship between the kick and snare that made him want to move? How dark should the vocal be to match the tone of the lyric? He kept these questions in mind as he worked and paid close attention to all the elements in the tracks, making choices based on his experience.

“I always impart a bit of myself into every mix based on my personal taste. I think that’s the reason I was approached to mix these songs. I loved being creative with the use of effects in Jordan’s mixes,” said Oorebeek.

“This Feeling” was Waller’s first release and also his first single to chart. Oorebeek is extremely proud to have been a part of the success. Oorebeek worked on several more singles for Waller, whose debut album was released in February of this year.

“It’s always special when a debut single is received well right out the gate, especially as an unsigned, independent artist. You can never really predict how radio is going to receive a song, but while working on “This Feeling” I felt there was something special about it. It’s great when that gut feeling I get is affirmed by commercial success,” he concluded.

Producer Jamly Yang shoots in stunning locations for award winning commercial

One of the most life changing events in Jamly Yang’s life occurred when she was only a child and watched a feature film for the first time. She was transfixed by what she saw, not only by the story, but how everything looked so real. She remembers being convinced that the action shots and detailed war scenes were actually happening in front of her eyes and had to be consoled by her mother. After the movie finished, she became obsessed with the idea of one day making films of her own, with impactful stories that could touch audiences.

Now, Yang does just that, as a celebrated producer in her home country and abroad. Working on acclaimed films like Step Out, The Screenwriter in the Restroom, Billy’s Bear, and many more, Yang has combined her passion for storytelling with her determined mindset.

Yang has also worked with internationally recognized brands, such as Nike and Doritos, on many revenue generating commercials. Just last year, she worked on a commercial for Alpha Browser, an interactive mobile browser and all-in-one tool. The commercial is a powerful video that shows how Alpha Browser can help you in your daily life.

“I like how the commercial approaches it’s idea, instead of just introducing the product, which is what most tech companies would do, it shows people’s daily life, making the audience relate to the product,” said Yang.

Shooting the commercial involved a great deal of travelling between locations for the cast and crew, and Yang was in charge of organizing it all. She planned everything, from the hotel booking, to casting, to the budget, and even assisted with shooting when necessary.

“I loved the pretty location we shot in. What is different about commercials from film is the beauty of every frame. We can show a lot of pretty landscapes and use them to draw the audience’s attention. This is great for me because I love to travel, and on commercials you do a lot of it,” she said.

Under Yang’s leadership as the producer, the commercial went on to win several awards, including Best Commercial at the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival in both 2018 and 2019. It was also distributed internationally by ATK technology, directly contributing to sales for the product. Yang could not be prouder of what she and her team achieved, and as a fan of the Alpha Browser, she truly believed in the message she was putting out there.

“I like how it is designed. Every button is very clear and easy to understand. Compared to many of the other major browsers out on the market, Alpha Browser is more personalized. It’s more like your own account rather than just a browser. Whenever you use it, you feel at home, not in the internet ocean,” she said.

Yang has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is today, determined to achieve her childhood dream. Now that she has done so, she says the hard work doesn’t stop, and in order to continue her success, she treats every new project as a learning experience, constantly staying a student in an ever-changing world.

“This is an industry where you can’t expect fast success,” she said. “I guess just like every industry, there is nothing easy, and being passionate is the key. If you are still full of energy and love what you do after a long day, then don’t give up. Go for it and fear nothing.”

Watch the Alpha Browser commercial here.

 

 

Guitarist in the Spotlight: Agam Timor of the Barns Courtney Band

Agam Timor
Guitarist Agam Timor shot by Monika Wilczynska

While the frontman in a band usually gets most, if not all, of the media’s attention, the bands we love would not be what they are without the integral contributions of the rest of the members. When it comes to the guitar stylings and overall musical contributions of Israeli musician Agam Timor, his are ones that deserve exponential recognition.

You may know Timor as the lead guitarist for the Barns Courtney band, whom he’s been touring the globe with for the past year. Signed to Capitol Records, the band has skyrocketed to international acclaim in recent years with sold out shows and several of their singles topping the charts.

“After so many gigs together, almost every night, it creates a really warm environment, like a family,” says Timor.

Timor’s rhythmic fluidity, precision on the guitar, and mesmerizing stage presence have proven to be a powerful addition to the Barns Courtney band, just as they have for a long list of other bands over the years. While Timor’s talent has helped bring him into the spotlight, his success didn’t just happen overnight. It’s the result of years of dedication and an inexhaustible passion for what he does.

Growing up in Tel Aviv, Israel, Timor discovered his love for music at the budding age of 6. Quickly picking up the violin, piano and saxophone, his passion for music grew, but it was upon discovering his connection with guitar that he found his true love.

“Since I was 12 I never put the guitar down,” admits Timor. “I immediately fell in love with it.”

Most Israeli citizens living in Israel serve in the military at some point in their lives, and while Timor is no different, he served the country in a rather unique capacity. During his three year military service he was the guitarist and arranger for Israel’s military band.

Timor says, “I enjoyed the fact that although people from different places can be very different, love different things and going through different experiences in life before joining the army . They can still go through a similar experience while watching the show, at the end of the day, people want to feel something. They want to feel the energy and forget about the tough day they had on the base”

After completing his military service Timor was free to take his musicianship to new heights and it wasn’t long before he became a national sensation in Israel. He would go onto share stages with some of the country’s most idolized talents, including singer and actress Ruthi Navon, Momi Levi and Moran Mazor, who competed in Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest, Chen Aharoni, who appeared on The X Factor UK, The X Factor Israel and Kokhav Nolad (Israel’s version of American Idol), vocalist Meital De Razon, and many more. Timor would also go on to perform as the house guitarist on the hit series The X Factor Israel, in the hit musical “Mary Lou,” as well as on Sports Channel 5 Israel, where he played the morning show hosted by Slutzki and Dominguez. Timor actually played the morning show on more than one occasion, often being called in to  play a few songs each time with a new rising artist, and then chatting with the hosts on air about life and music.

Agam Timor
Agam Timor shot by Arielle Kassulke

“I assume that any musician that keeps practicing and listening to music eventually would play great. The difference between being a professional and an amateur is pretty much the attitude and the amount of dedication one has to the project, always aim higher and keep evolving your craft,” says Timor.

Though there is definitely substantial truth in the age old saying ‘practice makes perfect,’ few will make it quite as far as Timor has over the span of his short life no matter how much they practice. At age 26, he has already proven himself to be among the world’s top guitarists. With his virtuosic talent, it’s not surprising that Timor was accepted to the Berklee College of Music, one of the most competitive music schools out there. Not only was he accepted, but he was given a scholarship, a rare award that few receive, and in 2018 he went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude.

While Timor’s strength and versatility as a guitarist has led him to be tapped to play with a pretty long list of heavy hitters in the music industry, it’s not the spotlight that drives him to perform. Behind the scenes, he is a powerhouse when it comes to writing and arranging music, and he’s used his talents in that area to create music for other artists over the years. In 2014 he worked alongside legendary producer Luis Lahav on the album for artist Or Colenberg.

“For this project I recorded all the guitars and arranged the album with my colleagues Amit Shtriker and Tom Lahav. I will never forget this project and how much we felt involved in the recorded music,” recalls Timor. “The most incredible thing is to add your own personal taste to someone else’s music and watch it become something whole.”

Another project that Timor holds dear to his heart was when he recorded the album Beit-Aba with the artist Doron Raphaeli, the founder of the popular music group Tararam.

“We spent days in the studio working on this album, I especially remember the day when we recorded the guitar solo for ‘Aguim’ that it was so late at night and Doron fell asleep in the control room while the engineer and I finished recording the song.”

With a plethora of cultural influences and experience playing diverse genres such as pop, funk, r&b, blues-rock, gospel, middle-eastern, fusion and jazz, Timor brings the full-package to the table as both a guitarist and arranger.

“When I work with artists, I first try to understand their character and what I can add from my perspective that would complement their music. When I succeed in doing that I feel that’s when the artist is being satisfied the most. Add your flavor to the same field.”

Last year Timor made another huge mark in the Israeli music industry when he was tapped to compose the intro for Omer Adam’s show, which was the first concert to be performed at the Sammy Ofer Stadium and was a sold out success. Having competed on the series Kokhav Nolad, and releasing four hit albums over the last few years, Omer Adam is arguably one of Israel’s most famous contemporary artists.

Timor admits, “I got amazing comments about the musical intro to his show and how much it enhanced Omer’s character as an artist.”

Though playing in shows such as the celebrated Israeli musical “Mary Lou” have led Agam Timor to become a celebrity in Israel, and his role in the Barns Courtney Band has led him to play in front of hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, what Timor enjoys most is the simple art of creating music.

Guiding his life and career by the famous quote, “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life,” Timor is an inimitable pro at doing what he loves and doing it in a big way.

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