Producer Wows Audiences Across Cultures

Producer Min Dai shot by  Jan Cain
                                                                  Producer Min Dai shot by Jan Cain

In today’s global economy, cultural exchange is a valuable tool to possess. So has been the experience of producer Min Dai, who will attest that running productions in both China and the United States has greatly developed her ability to work in varying cultural conditions.

Throughout the last 10 years, Min has been in charge of the production process for countless film, television, and musical projects in both China and the US.

In addition to her work in editing and production, Min has extensive experience in writing, directing, visual effects, sound and cinematography. With such rich, far-reaching expertise in these areas, one can safely say that Min fully knows the ins and outs of the filmmaking process.

Her knowledge about the production process began long before she was able to contribute. As a child, Min learned what it took to run a successful production company from her mother. As a teenager, Min began writing, producing, and directing her own films, as well as those for independent filmmakers.

As a young adult, she began her professional career with the China International Television Corporation. During her time there, Min was put in charge of the production for several television series, including Mission for Peace and King of Silk, which starred major Chinese actors such as Ma Yili and Zhang Guangbei.

While in China, Min also served as executive producer for the King’s Film Company as well as the WIN China Group, where she spearheaded the production and editing processes for many films and commercials.

Min began to collaborate on projects in the United States upon partnering with Jackie Subeck of Footprint Worldwide, a company that works closely with Chinese productions. While working with Footprint, Min led live production for Linkin Park and 30 Seconds to Mars for the Chinese portion of their international tours.

It was not long after these experiences that Min brought her talent to the United States. During her time in the US, Min has focused on film, which she describes as her favorite type of production.

While Min has produced many dramatic films, including Eat a Hot Dumpling Slowly, Device, Icebox, Meeting Gary and 4 Latas, she has also thrived as a producer of documentary films.

“At times,” Min said, “I find documentaries have a much stronger social impact, [and are] sometimes more intense than a thriller.”

Two of these documentaries that were of particular social impact were A Trip to Tibet and You and Me.

A Trip to Tibet followed a group of teachers from Beijing who volunteered to help in a Tibetan school. During their time there, they found that the conditions were far worse than they had imagined, calling attention to the current struggle in Tibet and the country’s need for support.

You and Me offered a somber glimpse into “the dark side of elderly care taking” in the Washington region. The film showed how many senior citizens are abandoned and treated poorly, and highlighted the Washington County Home, which takes in many elderly lacking resources and access to care.

Min recently worked with InterMix Productions on another documentary, entitled Wake Up With Me, which is currently in post-production. The film features a group of people living in New York, and attempted to answer the question: does social media help people connect, or does it prevent them from doing so?

As she has continued to demonstrate her abilities in the US, Min has developed relationships with high-ranking figures in the entertainment industry. One such example is Carl Gilliard, whom Min met during the filming of Meeting Gary.

Gilliard is not only known for his role as an actor in more than 70 films, including Inception, Coach Carter, and the television series 24, but he is also the founder of the Gilliard Media Group. Min is currently working with the Gilliard Media Group on several upcoming projects.

Min’s dedication to making the best decisions in the production process is evident, as she has had a tremendous role as producer of countless critically acclaimed films, television series’, commercials, and events to which she has lent her talent; and she shows no signs of stopping.

 

 

 

RazoracK Takes EDM to New Heights

EDM Artist Omri Efrat
                              EDM Artist Omri Efrat aka RazoracK

Multi-instrumentalist musician, composer and producer Omri Efrat has been making waves with his innovative cross-genre style of electronic music for years, both in his native Israel and in the U.S. At the age of just 11, Efrat began working with digital compositions, combining samples and loops while still in grade school. In addition to creating and performing his original work under the stage name RazoracK, he uses his years of experience to produce work for artists whose styles range from electronic dance music to metal to traditional rock.

As a producer, Efrat has worked with a wide array of performers, including the immensely popular Israeli progressive metal band Distorted Harmony. Formed in 2009, the band has attained a huge following and immense success, and their album Utopia was nominated for Classic Rock Magazine’s Progressive Music Award for New Blood. Efrat said working with Distorted Harmony was fun and gave him a chance to mesh his unique style with theirs.

“I love to work with people from the metal community, they’re very open minded and enthusiastic about new ideas and new directions,” Efrat said. “When I was working with them I tried not to step on any toes and not to take over the production, but to be part of the band, which worked out great because everyone was very pleased with the fusion that we created.”

Efrat plays drums and keyboard and performs vocals, all of which he incorporates into much of his own work. His compositions encompass the full spectrum of electronic dance music, and while the common roots of those compositions are grounded in EDM their varied styles defy genre conventions.

“I feel like the EDM scene tends to sound very monotonic,” he said. “I wanted to prove that you can have EDM elements, a groove you can dance to and hard-hitting sounds, but at the same time you can have a story, a purpose and something of which to relate to.”

The massively popular EDM-centric YouTube channel VitalFM described Efrat’s work as “RockStep,” a label Efrat embraces but believes is too narrow. More often than not his work falls outside the dubstep category, and he prides himself on his genre-blending approach to composing and recording.

“I like the term ‘Electronic Rock,’” he said. “They’re rock songs – they all have a story and a meaning – they’re just built with electronic elements instead of traditional instruments.”

Showcasing his ability to work adaptively around artists’ personal styles, Efrat recently produced Israeli musician Evyatar Sivan’s EP Inside the Abalone. His touch can be felt on the title track, which centers around Sivan’s vocals and soft guitar but bears the mark of electronic ambiance, with a subtle chamber-like echo and rich harmonies.

“After some experimenting with sound design and different instruments we ended up having really huge and epic productions with many different and exotic instruments and it really gave a deep and unique tone to the production,” Efrat said. “We used a broken flute for the end of one of the songs and it sounded really weird at first, but after experimenting with different effects and secret sound design tricks we ended up with something that sounded like a war horn.”

That innovative, outside-the-box approach is what Efrat loves the most, and is perhaps his strongest asset as a producer. With each performance and artist collaboration, his repertoire grows and his style becomes even more distinct. Such a multi-faceted skillset is rare in a musician, and rarer in a producer, so Efrat has understandably become a hot commodity.

“Being AP” Producer Richard Moore Continues Production on the Film “The Baby Killers”  

Richard Moore
                  Producer Richard Moore shot by Charlie Hyams

After producing the documentary feature film Being AP, which focuses on the life and work of one of the most renowned jockeys in history, AP McCoy, producer Richard Moore continues his work on the upcoming documentary film The Baby Killers.

Directed by Alex Grazioli, the director of the film Odyssey in Rome starring Oscar Award winning actress Juliette Binoche, The Baby Killers will bring to light the dramatic true story of La Stidda, a Sicilian-based mafia group.

According to Moore, the film “documents the meteoritic rise of a clan of twenty teenagers in Gela the south of Sicily during the 80s, who after having been denied entry into the Cosa Nostra decided to start there own mafia faction known as La Stidda, which was more dangerous, more ruthless and more evil than anything before them.”

In the early 1990s, La Stidda waged a brutal war on the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra, a war, which according to Cosa Nostra News led to over 300 deaths. In Gela, Siciliy La Stidda recruited children who would come to be known as “The Baby Killers,” due to their young age and ruthless murder sprees.

“I took trip out to Sicily in April last year and was introduced through a Sicilian author to Orazio Vella who at the time was the youngest baby killer and murdered his first string of people at the age of 14,” recalls Moore. “After being arrested at 18 from years of murders, racketeering, drugs and prostitution, Orazio managed to escape a prison sentence after turning states evidence.”

Through the upcoming film, which Moore is producing with Unit9, audiences will witness first hand accounts of the violence inflicted on the people of the city and other mafia members from the perspective of former La Stidda members, and key features that made the organization far more dangerous than practically any other that came before.

Moore is a master of the game when it comes to producing projects that are both engaging and informative, hence his history of success producing documentary films. However, he has also brought to life shorter form projects that are just as informative and entertaining as his the feature-length productions.

“My goal in everything I work on is to produce a piece of work I can truly be proud of, which is incredibly difficult but it’s the challenge and risk that makes it so exciting. I like many other young producers fell in love with films because of directors like Bernardo Bertolucci, Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese,” says Moore. “When I first started in the industry and began to understand who it was that put these epic films together and the tasks and difficulties they went through to make these scripts a reality, it truly inspired me.”

Earlier in his career, Moore served as the senior producer of the Google funded online docuseries Line 9, an extreme sports series that brings audiences some of the most compelling stories from inside the world of BMX, surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding led by Fergal Smith, Harry Main, Madars Apse and Stale Sandbech.

The series, which Moore produced with Bigballs Films, did exceptionally well thanks to Moore’s ability to not only manage the projects logistical and financial aspects, but more importantly, create, inspire and lead a great team.

His talent for understanding what a client is looking for in the end-product, build relationships with the right media outlets and infuse each work with a creative edge that is fascinating to its target audience has made him a sought after producer for a range of production companies and global clients. The mélange of Moore’s unparalleled capabilities as a producer can only be understood in full through an examination of the stark differences between all of the companies that he has worked with over the years.

“In the past I’ve predominantly worked with three very different production companies,” explains Moore. “Partizan, which has been running since the early 90s and is led by incredible directing talent and great ideas fundamentally. Bigballs Films, which works solely within sports media and programming… and Unit9, a tech-savvy contemporary hybrid production company that doesn’t have any barriers, they build software, apps, websites, 360 VR projects and films that live on any platform that exists today.”

While he was still a teenager Moore founded his own production company with Oliver Barron known as Mrs Grey. The company reached astonishing success in a relatively short time, and through the company Moore produced the music video for James Morrison’s “One Life,” which you can check out below, as well as several commercials and the television documentary Find the Torch.

Producer Richard Moore has undoubtedly secured himself as a top producer in the international entertainment industry; and, as the feature documentary prepares for its world premiere, which will take place next month at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, and production continues on The Baby Killers, audiences around the world can continue to expect great things from this rare talent.

Producer Filippo Nesci Brings Captivating Stories to the Screen

Producer Filippo Nesci shot by Steve Dabal
                                                                       Producer Filippo Nesci shot by Steve Dabal

Italian producer Filippo Nesci has established a career in the international entertainment industry that is as varied as it is impressive. With several multi-award winning films, documentaries, high-profile commercials and hit music videos already under his belt, Nesci has proven that his unparalleled talent as a producer make him a highly sought after leader in the industry.

In recent years, Nesci has produced the films The Carnival is on Fire, Lineman, Snippets of Wally Watkins, and Wrecks and Violins, as well as the music videos for Meg Myers’ “Monster” and KOAN Sound’s “80s Fitness.” He also produced the Clio Award winning commercial series for Lagavulin last year.

Directed by H.R. McDonald (Happy Birthday, Thomas), The Carnival is on Fire follows a young woman through the woods as she is stalked by a lustful but timid boy who disguises himself behind the trees that line their path whenever she turns around to face him. With beautiful imagery and a melancholic score, viewers witness the girl’s transition from childhood to adolescence through flashbacks as she reflects on the innocence she’s lost over the years.

The lighting included in the flashbacks of the film is magnificent; and, although a producer rarely has anything to do with lighting, in the case of The Carnival is on Fire, Filippo Nesci was an integral contributor to the unique lighting used in the film.

“I was aware that most of the art of the director had to do with his unique use of light. So, I thought that a professional I knew, who personally invents and builds equipment for cameras might invent a new equipment with lights that could be used specifically in this film,” recalls Nesci.

“Thanks to my very good and friendly relationship with this builder, I convinced him to do it having in mind two tasks, at the same time: a) make a tool that was able to generate a vortex of lights, b) make it nice, so that it could be filmed rather than go unnoticed, as usually happens to all camera equipment.”

Nesci’s ability to not only understand the needs and vision of his director, but also seek out the perfect people to make those ideas happen made The Carnival is on Fire a huge success, and the film went on to be chosen as an Official Selection of the Little Rock Film Festival in 2012.

Something that separates Nesci from the majority of other producers in the industry is that fact that he is passionate about changing the world through stories that touch audiences on an emotional level.

“All the projects for which I have been working as producer are very different indeed… However, they always have two factors in common: a) something intriguing from a psychodynamic point of view, b) something affective that really touches me at an emotional level,” explains Nesci.

“Be it a movie, a documentary, a music video, or even a commercial, I take the job only if there is a “narrative” quality in the project since I love stories: to tell stories, as well as to “view” and “listen” to stories.”

For him, a project’s emotional elements and its ability to tap into the viewers subconscious and cause them to contemplate ideas that extend beyond what is unfolding visually is a deciding factor in whether he will produce a project or not. What is even more astonishing however, is the fact that these characteristics are evident in the commercials he’s produced as well. Compared to the way the majority of commercials on television can be seen as shameless advertising, Nesci commercial projects to date shine brilliantly through the mediocre as nothing less than art.

As the producer behind the “Running Motivation” for Orange Mud, a California-based company that makes innovative athletic equipment, Nesci helped create a beautiful commercial for the company’s HydraQuiver hydration pack. The commercial follows a few different runners as they individually traverse some of the most captivating landscapes on the planet; and, no matter how far they travel, their no bounce hydration pack is always there to keep them hydrated.

You can check out the commercial Nesci did for Orange Mud below!

The Golden Girl of Advertising: Producer Susie Liu

Susie Liu
Advertising Producer Susie Liu shot by Robin Gaultier

Advertising ace Susie Liu knows everything there is to know about marketing. That’s because she has immense experience working hand-in-hand with clients – including titans of industry and Fortune 500 companies – to formulate strategies and campaigns specifically tailored to their needs. However, Liu has the added edge of having spent years as an artist, personally creating, drafting and implementing creative concepts to meet the needs of those clients.

“At a young age, I always gravitated towards anything visual or creative,” she said. “As I grew up, I enjoyed spending time in my own company, drawing on paper and eventually on the computer. I looked at ways to improve magazine articles and advertisements, and changed the style to my own liking by recreating visuals on the computer.”

Starting out with ZONE, a cutting-edge advertising production firm based in London, as a digital artist, her incredible talent helped her quickly move up through team leadership positions, and ultimately to the role of content advertising producer.

Prior to her work with ZONE, Liu worked with Wordsearch, a design and advertising company specializing in real estate advertising. In her time at Wordsearch, Liu applied her managerial and artistic skills to massive undertakings such as The Shard in London, One World Trade Center in Manhattan and the ambitious Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The iconic One World Trade Center, completed in 2013, was built as a testament to American resilience after the destruction of the previous towers on September 11, 2001. However, beyond its symbolism and status as the tallest building in the western hemisphere, it is a financial and economic hub in the busiest city in the U.S., and as such it was critical that such a costly and labor-intensive project attract the maximum possible amount of renters, businesses and investors. That’s where Wordsearch and Liu came in.

“I was involved with the creative art-working as well as the management of the print production. It was imperative to be organized and have a structure from the start,” Liu said. “It was my role to organise and ascertain from the briefs how long each element would take to execute and deliver in a timely manner.”

The Shard skyscraper in London, the tallest building in the European Union at a fifth of a mile high, is another of Liu’s most monumental projects. Completed in 2012, The Shard relied on the creative mind of Liu and her team at Wordsearch to attract tenants such as Al Jazeera, Gallup, and the five star Shangri-La Hotel, who have all made the magnificent work of art-in-architecture their home.

 “The objective was to entice companies, investors and the sale of residential apartments into this new living, working and social space by demonstrating what was on offer and how it would look once complete,” Liu said. “This campaign was worked on by a team of designers, art directors, Project Managers and myself as a Production Manager, which involved the creative art-working and design of the technical brochures, as well as managing the production on all the other work.”

Liu also helped draw tenants and investors with her campaign for Masdar City, the eco-friendly metropolis currently in development and construction in Abu Dhabi. Built in the desert of the Arabian peninsula, the arcology – or “architecture/ecology” – city is founded on the principles of responsible environmental practices. Featuring a fleet of clean energy and electric vehicles in lieu of personal commuter vehicles, operating on solar and wind energy, and carefully designed with walls, streets and building meant to maximize the cooling power of the desert wind in the hostile region, Masdar City is what many climate scientists and environmentalists envision as the responsible future for humanity.

“Wordsearch was approached by the Masdar client to adapt its existing brand and produce a series of printed and digital marketing literature to entice people into this new, not yet built city. Over a period of 2 years, the requirements were to design and produce magazines, brochures, advertising, leaflets, internal forms, point of sale, exhibition stands/space (WFES), marketing suites, banners, computer generated images and a website,” she said of the intensive process. “The idea was to entice people and investors into this eco-city by demonstrating what was on offer and how it would look when the city would be finished.”

While working for Hogarth Worldwide, a multinational company that specializes in marketing implementation and centralized advertising production for clients worldwide, Liu helped ensure the success of the HTC One ad campaign.

“This was a global campaign that was rolled out to a very tight deadline and within strict security restrictions,” Liu said. “Our job included the translation and localization of all literature in up to 40 languages, and the creation of a variety of advertisements, both point of sale and signage.”

With such an impressive array of clients and projects under her belt, it’s no small surprise that Liu has become one of the most sought after players in the global advertising and marketing fields. With her immense creative and artistic talents surpassed only by her managerial skills and her ability to oversee teams working on large-scale campaigns, she is truly a master of the trade.

Born to Perform: Actor & Musician Evan Williams

Evan Williams
                                        Evan Williams shot by Elodie Cabrera

Hailing from Alberta, Canada, Evan Williams is a born entertainer whose astonishing talents have taken him around the world and back several times over. As a musician, he has gained the attention of Oscar-winners. As a stage actor he’s been in some of the best-known productions in the business. And as an actor on television and film he’s become an audience favorite for viewers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Williams recalls, “I got into acting through music, which was my first passion and continues to be a vital part of my life. I was a middle kid and always a bit of a clown, so I found myself comfortable on the stage at a young age. I sang in a choir as a kid, and when the opportunity to participate in musical theatre came my way I jumped at it and have never really looked back.”

Although his career began on stage, it has evolved to encompass virtually all aspects of performance. In the 2014 comedy Ride, directed by and starring Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt, Williams plays a surfer named Brad who meets Hunt’s character when she travels to California to find her son Angelo who dropped out of school to pursue the carefree surfer lifestyle. The film also stars Luke Wilson (Idiocracy, The Royal Tenenbaums) as Hunt’s surf instructor and love interest Ian.

“I’m always after the roles that scare me for one reason or another. I think these are the ones that an actor will do his best work on, because it becomes personal,” admits Williams. “I was attracted to Helen Hunt’s indie film ‘Ride’ because I knew I’d have to surf in the film.”

Williams, a lifelong musician, also wrote and performed the song “I’m Not Waiting” which Hunt selected to be used in the soundtrack for the film. This is by no means the only time his diverse skill set and talent as a musician were put to use in film though. In addition to playing the leading role of Mark Robertson in the film On Strike for Christmas, Williams’ original composition “You’re My Joy, Merry Christmas” was also chosen to be included on the film’s soundtrack.

On Strike for Christmas is a heartwarming family movie about Joy Robertson, played by Daphne Zuniga (Melrose Place, Spaceballs), who becomes fed up with her family when they refuse to help her prepare for the holiday festivities. Williams plays the role of Joy’s son Mark in the holiday classic.

This year, Williams played the lead role of Rodney in Fishing Naked. The film follows four friends on a camping trip playing pranks, causing mischief and generally wreaking havoc. After the group’s antics threaten the welfare of a local creature, the group tries to set things right with one last trick.

In his early days, Williams played Oliver in the theatre production of Shakespeare’s classic As You Like It. The play follows a noble girl as she escapes her uncle’s court, after the exile of her lover by his older brother, Oliver. The girl is then banished as well following a dramatic change of leadership. As You Like It, one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, examines the contrast between life for nobles and commoners in the 15th century.

In a production of the classic Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, Williams played the lead role of Sky Masterson, a gambling man on a mission to win the heart of a young girl whose dedication to her religion keep her from taking him seriously. The two ultimately fall in love, with her resolved to reform him into a proper gentleman.

Williams also recently wrapped production on Jay Lee’s film Gutter Slut, a social satire comedy horror film where he plays the role of Cooter, a mentally unstable hillbilly whose strict religious views are contradicted by his uncontrollable lust and violent acts. The actor also stars in the upcoming film Cannonball where he plays the role of Ian. Directed by Katherine Barrell, Cannonball revolves around a young woman who, on the night of her 30th birthday, struggles to move on from her past.

Williams says that the film “is an examination of the nature of endings, of relationships, of plans, and of ideas, of the push and pull of will and remorse.”

He adds, “It was a very personal and moving project to shoot, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

A master of anything involving a stage, a microphone or a camera, Williams has already won the hearts of fans everywhere; and as he lands starring role after starring role in exciting new projects, it is obvious that audiences will continue to find him an omnipresent figure in entertainment with no end in sight.

Composer Daniel Raijman Speaks to International Audiences Through Powerful Film Scores

Daniel Raijman
                                                  Film composer and guitarist Daniel Raijman shot by Fernando Stein

Guitarist and composer Daniel Raijman spent his youth growing up in Buenos Aires, the cultural hub of Argentina, has been playing music for most of his life. At age 8 he began playing piano, at 11 he picked up guitar, and at 17 he started attending the Buenos Aires School of Music where he would go on to receive a Bachelor of Music in Performance, Specializing in Guitar.

Heavily and eclectically influenced by Argentine tango, Pat Metheny and John Williams, Raijman has a hugely varied background of experience and style that he applies to his work as both a guitarist and film composer.

After touring Argentina and Uruguay for four years up until 2009, Raijman began working with Rosario Barreto, producing Barreto’s debut album Imagem Imortal. It was the first of many such projects he would work on in the following years.

Raijman, who studied film and television orchestration at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and graduated from the UCLA Extension Film Scoring Program, got his first job in Los Angeles working on An Opening to Closure. Raijman composed the soundtrack for the film, on which he also played guitar. A romantic drama, the film follows two ex-lovers who find themselves revisiting their painful past after a dinner party with mutual friends.

“There is a love scene in which there is passion but at the same time, sadness and regret. I decided to match the groove of their breathing to an electric guitar rock solo, along with programmed synths,” he said. “I increased the distortion and the effects of the guitar, and the music grows in intensity until there is clearly a feeling of sadness and loneliness. Then, by keeping the groove and letting the guitar fade out, the motif is introduced with a piano solo.”

One of his most moving projects to date, 8 Seconds: Humane Decision Making in the IDF, required Raijman to compose three different styles of backing music to match the changing mood and subject of the film. An eye-opening documentary, the film tells the story, from multiple perspectives, of the ethical training of Israeli Defense Force soldiers fighting Hamas and other threats to national survival, and the life-or-death decisions they must make on a regular basis.

“Composing three completely different cues to match the different part of the film was challenging… One of the cues had to represent the military part of the story, so it had to be very intense and fast,” said Raijman, explaining in depth the intense planning and research involved in setting the mood for the film.

“The next cue had to correlate with Israel and the authentic sounds that come from the music of the country… [so] I used a lot of Middle Eastern percussion and woodwinds like Duduk, and composed the melody around the Phrygian major 3rd mode, which is always related to Jewish music. For the last cue, I had to compose music that matched the soldiers’ feelings. I accomplished this using a lot of strings accompanied by Middle Eastern percussion played at a slow rhythm. I truly loved working on this documentary.”

In addition to scoring, Raijman also played guitar for the film, which was an official selection at the 2015 USC School of Social Work Film Festival.

The musical genius also arranged the composition for director Zack Wu’s Violet, about a young man in a new town, love at first sight, and the idea that things can often be far from what they appear, especially to someone blinded by love.

“Composing wall-to-wall music for this film with only a few days to deliver was a bit of a challenge but a great experience for me,” Raijman said. “When you see the film, you can tell from the beginning that the music is telling the story and that something isn’t right between the couple.”

When a composer does his or her job well, the audience should be able to feel the movie through the score, so much so that even with their eyes closed, they can still hear the plot, the relationships between the characters, and the anxiety in the action. Raijman has shown himself to be a natural and a consummate professional with a talent for organically conveying the filmmakers’ emotional intent through his music. He is currently working on several upcoming projects, including a solo album featuring some of his stirring instrumental music.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Hollywood's who's-who.