From the Australian surfing scene to the Pinnacle of Filmmaking, Australian director Luke Farquhar Shares his Story

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Luke Farquhar has directed standout spots for Fox Sports, Channel [V] and many more. 

For Australian director Luke Farquhar, it all started with a dream to become a pro surfer. He grew up on Australia’s beautiful Gold Coast, south of Brisbane, with inspiration to make his mark in the subtropical region that’s home to some of the most popular surf breaks and beaches in the world.

“I wanted to be a pro surfer,” he said. “I was super competitive and tried my hand at Air Shows, but I just could never perform when I needed to I guess. I got sponsored and was able to free-surf instead, which I enjoyed more because it allowed me to make videos with my friends and take pictures and be creative. The Gold Coast is the best place in the world to learn your surfing craft. There is so many good surfers there so it pushes you to surf good…or else you just get pushed to the side!”

Parlaying his wave riding experiences, Farquhar gained momentum and the sense of his foremost passion – filmmaking. At the age of 19, he began making surf films. “They began getting some traction and I was asked to make them properly,” Farquhar said. “I decided to focus on my love of film and have never done anything else since.”

The career decision resoundingly turned out to be the correct one.

Farquhar, known for his stylized, unparalleled and imaginative execution, has directed his way to a coveted position at the pinnacle of filmmaking. He’s directed commercials, spots, promos and outstanding branded videos for Fox Sports, Land Rover, Channel [V]’s hit music video show “The Riff,” Billabong, Schweppes, Insight51, and the Brit Music Awards, to name a few. Talent Farquhar has directed includes surfing icons Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning, Australian football star Callan Ward and MMA legend Ronda Rousey. (Check out Farquhar’s work here: http://www.vimeo.com/lukefarquhar)

Farquhar’s metamorphosis into a directorial auteur was a journey that saw him attend the Gold Coasts’ Bond University, a period during which he directed short films and TV commercials for a year and a half.

Leaving academia behind prior to graduation, Farquhar went on to direct for Oyster Magazine, a leading quarterly Australian publication that covers pop culture, music, fashion and beauty. His freelance appointment with Oyster was fruitful as Farquhar was nominated for the Harpers Bizarre/Peroni Creative of the Year Award for his 8mm short fashion film.

Riding the success, Farquhar assimilated into directing for FashionTV, a fashion and lifestyle broadcasting channel that airs to global audiences spanning North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Farquhar engaged his talents for the network for two years and directed a bevy of content including televised and esteemed fashion week events.

His services were then sought after and acquired by Channel [V], an Australian MTV equivalent for music enthusiasts with a nationwide cable audience. Farquhar directed the rebrand for Channel [V], which spearheaded the repositioning and marketing strategy for the channel. His animated spot – “For the Love of Music” –artistically shows a story that begins in the depths of hell and scrolls up vertically to the heavens, intermixed with live action placement of music figures such as Marilyn Manson, Daft Punk, 2pac, Notorious B.I.G., Kanye West, and others, finally ending with the Channel [V] logo.

“This was one of the most stressful jobs I have ever been a part of,” Farquhar said. “Overseeing an army of talented designers can be incredibly tough, but in the end, we did a lot of great things in capturing the spirit of Channel [V].”

It was during Farquhar’s four and a half-year tenure with Channel [V] that he met his girlfriend, Carissa Walford, who hosted for Channel [V]’s “The Riff.” The pair would collaborate on promo spots for the show with Farquhar directing and Walford lead acting. Farquhar exercised his profound creativity and demonstrated an uninhibited, sublime directing approach within his spots for “The Riff.” The director dispatched in the spots an array of sensory components including narration, bold imagery, grainy cinematography, dark undertones and striking messages that resonate with viewers.

“Luke’s directing is characterized with a grandiose, epic sensibility,” Walford said. “It’s a bold style that pushes the boundary, while also being representative and effective. His messages are original and memorable, and drove viewers to our tune into our show.”

Farquhar thereafter directed for a period for Television New Zealand, a 36-year government-owned national broadcaster, and later advanced to directing for Fox Sports Australia, including the network’s expansive “I AM” rebranding. Fox Sports is the foremost sports broadcaster in Australia featuring six sports channels and a dedicated news network.

Keeping true to his surfing roots, Farquhar directed the Fox Sports “I AM Surfing” promo, along with other inspiring personal narrative tales from Fanning, Ward, Rousey and boxer Jeff Hornet, as well as “I AM UFC” and “I AM a Fanatic” spots. The “I AM” campaign was recently selected into the Promax Awards in June in New York City.

“The ‘I AM’ spots were a tremendous opportunity to champion the Fox Sports rebrand,” Farquhar said. “My goal for directing and working with our featured talent subjects was to present their personal stories of triumph, in their own words. The campaign collected multiple awards and we achieved our goal for the extreme sports banner.”

Most recently, Farquhar has directed spots for Necro Surf and is currently working with DD8, a creative international company that designs, produces, directs and shoots incredible branded content. Farquhar and DD8 co-founder Jean-Christophe Danoy are planning forthcoming expansion of the firm with a Los Angeles based branch.

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‘Zero Button’ Holds Back Nothing in Delivering Absurd Impromptu Comedy

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Actors Stephan Bosch (left) and David Mihalka bring comedic genius to the YouTube series, “Zero Button.”

 

The idea behind the hilariously uninhibited YouTube series, “Zero Button,” is actually a hidden message conceptualized by actors David Mihalka and Stephan Bosch.

“On the TV remote, when you enter the zero button, there is nothing. The message is: the best program is the imagination,” Mihalka said. “That’s what we do! We take our wildest imagination – inspired through real situations – and the result is “Zero Button.”

The sketch comedy series is a riot. Mihalka and Bosch, who co-created the series, star as an assortment of larger than life characters who encounter zany scenarios and predicaments. “It’s like a contract from a lawyer,” Mihalka said. “There are the obvious jokes, but also the fine print, where you have to pay attention to the words and subtle things happening.”

Mihalka often plays gangsters and fools in “Zero Button.” “The challenge lies in not playing a clown,” Mihalka said, “but rather to be serious in the scenes and still funny. That’s the art.”

Bosch described the characters as, “real and imaginary characters under real and imaginary situations. We have no rules at all, and we are not planning on having them.”

The parody series is directed, written and produced by Mihalka and Bosch. It features a load of improv and overall comedic genius.

As to developing ideas for sketches, Mihalka said, “We don’t come up with anything. They come to us! There are so many situations in daily life that are funny. You just exaggerate and let your imagination flow, and you have scene!”

The latest episode – “The Typical Driver” – released Sunday and features Mihalka playing a driver with road rage who gets the favor returned by an angry pedestrian at the end.

Saturday saw the release of “LangWhich,” an episode where Mihalka converses with a passerby at a park who asks Mihalka if he speaks English. “No, I don’t speak English,” Mihalka says in perfect English. “I used to, but no, I don’t like it.” The paradox continues in Spanish, French, German and Sign Language – all of which Mihalka’s character can speak – and ends when the passerby suggests in sign that they have sex, prompting Mihalka to give the guy the middle finger.

There’s episodes where Mihalka plays robbers, thieves, bad guys, a therapist, philosopher and other ambiguous, side-splitting roles.

There are How To episodes such as “How to Solve ALL your Problems” (by drinking a glass of alcohol) and “How to Stop Smoking” that shows Mihalka lighting up a mouthful of cigarettes, then taking a bucket of water to the face.

One episode features an intellectual conversation regarding two percent milk. Another parody is titled “Citizen Pain.” Another shows a Rubik’s cube conundrum called “YouCube?” and there are cultural parodies such as the amusing “Bank of Armenia” episode.

“Our most views and likes are the scenes together with Stephan,” Mihalka said. “We have the same frequency, a good connection. It just works. I can’t explain it.”

The dynamic duo shine on the sketches “Hairdresser,” “Monk,” “Bench,” “Change is Good,” “American Impress,” “How To Solve All Your Problems” and “Pool.”

“If I think about it, David plays a lot of bad guys, which is the opposite of what David really is,” said Bosch, whose other acting credits include “Juventud” and “7 Days” from directors George Blumetti and Maurice Kelly. “He knows what he is good at. His life, plus acting experience, can easily be seen through his performances.”

Mihalka enjoys both current and classic comedy styles including the work of legends such as Steve Martin, Roberto Benigni, Peter Sellers and Jacques Tati.

“What makes something funny is the perception of things,” he said. “For example, recently I have been to a fancy restaurant to make a reservation for a special day. While making a reservation, I noticed behind me many cops with a dog entering the restaurant. They told the dog: ‘Search, Search!’ When I left the restaurant, I told my mum, ‘I know what happened! A guest had a cake with icing sugar, which left traces of sugar under his nose and they thought it was cocaine and called the police!’ A new scene is born.”

No stranger to film and TV, Mihalka, from Germany, has shined on screen in his numerous roles including in the John A. Mati feature Swiss comedies, “Monsieur Brucco” and “Monsieur Brucco 2.” He acted in writer-director Stan Harrington’s “Lost Angels,” which won four awards at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival, and in Harrington’s four-time-award-winning feature mystery, “Perception.”

Mihalka’s other film and TV roles include in Mickella Simone’s “The WorkPlace,” Alex Lewis’ “Driverless,” director Emilio Ferrari’s “All I Want for Christmas” and “Difficult People” from director Jonathan Moy de Vitry. Theatrically, Mihalka acted in the Stella Adler Los Angeles production of “Margaret,” an original play directed by actor-writer-producer Tim McNeil (“Contact,” “Forrest Gump”).

Mihalka also doubles as a photographer with a premier aesthetic and captivating imagery. Check out his behind the camera work here: www.davidbehindthecamera.com

Keep up with the latest and greatest from “Zero Button” by subscribing to its YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/ZeroButtonFILMS

Says Mihalka: “Hit subscribe! A small step for man, but a giant leap for your laughing muscles. Hit it! What are you still doing here?”

For more information, visit: www.davidmihalka.com

Q & A With Seasoned Stylist Patricia Lagmay

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Styled by: Patricia Lagmay. Photo by: Ian Lanterman.

 

Currently based out of Vancouver, Canada, Patricia Lagmay is a fashion stylist known for styling leading fashion editorials and esteemed lookbooks and campaigns. Her work with brands spans professional labels such as Priory, Samsung, Wings + Horns, and Aritzia, and her editorial spreads have been published by Hearst Media.

Lagmay spent time both abroad in Canada and locally in Los Angeles, where she was initially drawn to pursue a career in styling. Once just a place of work for Lagmay at the age of nineteen, the renowned stylist was represented by THEY Representation by the time she was twenty-one, and remained with the agency until 2012, when she began working exclusively with Aritzia.

While at Aritzia, she refined her talents and made a significant impact on the brand’s growth and development , with her role becoming more senior as time progressed. Lagmay contributed her innate skills to the retailer until 2015 as a lead stylist on their seasonal lookbooks, campaigns, and eCommerce catalogue. Most recently, for the past year and a half, she’s worked with the clothing line Priory, styling and art directing their Fall ’15, Spring ’16 and Fall ’16 collections.

Throughout her profession and on many occasions, she has established herself as an invaluable asset to the fashion industry. We recently had the chance to sit down with Lagmay and discuss a few of her crowning career highlights, which we’ve outlined in our exclusive, one-on-one interview below.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in the Philippines and lived there until I was 10. My family moved to LA and lived there for six years, and then relocated to Vancouver, where I’ve now lived for the past 11 years.

What inspired you to purse a career in styling?

This is going to sound like a cliché, but I don’t think I had a choice. I’ve been drawn to it since even before I realized it was a career.

 What types of platforms does your work span?

My work spans print and digital. I work on editorial stories for varying publications, alongside styling campaigns, lookbooks, and eCommerce for established and emerging brands.

Does your approach to styling differ from one platform to the next?

Print has a longer lead-time whereas digital is more or less immediate. This dictates what season the clothes I choose have to come from so that when the story hits, the clothes are available.

 Who are some of the top clients you’ve worked with?

I worked with Aritzia extensively for the last three years. I’ve also worked with Priory, Wings + Horns, Sitka, and Samsung, among others.

 In your opinion, what are some of the most important characteristics a stylist can possess?

You really have to love it. The decisions you make as you style won’t make any sense otherwise, since a lot of it is instinctual. You also have to be extremely organized. There are a lot of moving parts to a shoot and it takes a healthy dose of OCD to get everything done.

 How do you try to incorporate those qualities into your own styling?

I make sure to listen to my instincts. There can be a lot of cooks in the kitchen at times, and paired with the number of trends that arise every season, it’s easy to get caught up in styling to please the whole team. But as the stylist on set, you’ve been hired for your taste and opinion, so it’s important to know when to stick to your guns. As for being organized, I’m definitely a bit OCD so that part comes naturally!

Your journey with THEY Representation is a fascinating one. What was your first role with them?

I started out as an intern when I was 19 and eventually became the Head Booker and Marketing Manager, handling all bookings for the artists, dealing with production, and managing the agency’s brand. After a couple of years I was ready to move on from my role. Since I’d already been styling my own shoots, THEY’s owner and agent suggested that I jump over to the artist side instead and become a represented stylist on their roster.

 What about your time working with Aritzia? You were a stylist there for over three years. What were your main roles? Did your roles change as time went on?

The areas of the business that I worked on more or less remained the same, but my involvement with each of them progressed as the years went on. I worked on the brand’s seasonal lookbooks and campaigns, alongside styling (and often art directing) their extensive eCommerce catalogue.

 With Priory, how do your roles as a stylist and as an art director differ from one another? Similarly, how do they complement one another?

Technically speaking, a stylist is someone who deals primarily with the clothing—choosing which pieces to use, putting the looks together, and ensuring they look good on the model. An art director is someone who deals with all the creative facets of a shoot—from the photography, to the styling, to the hair and makeup, to the casting, all the way down to the posing. I find it difficult to not have an opinion on all of those different areas since each of them greatly impacts the final images. I can bring the best clothes in, but if what I have doesn’t work with what the hair stylist has chosen, or vice versa, it really doesn’t matter. In that sense, styling and art directing are very intertwined.

 Tell us a little bit about the Samsung commercial you worked on. Who did you collaborate with? What brands were incorporated into the shoot?

Samsung was looking to change their creative tonality and this commercial was their first step in that direction. We had an amazing international crew—the director and producers had flown in from Copenhagen, the clients from Seoul, the talent from the U.S. and Europe. My goal, along with everyone else’s, was to bring a sense of authenticity to the characters. To do this, I pulled from a variety of sources—from vintage stores to more contemporary brands such as Reigning Champ.

 What has been your most challenging project thus far, and how did successfully completing it help you grow as a stylist?

Each project’s been challenging in it’s own way so it’s hard to choose. Some have been a challenge from a creative perspective, some from a budget perspective. They’ve all worked out regardless, so I try to keep that in mind whenever I’m faced with another hiccup.

 What is one thing that people on the outside of the fashion industry would never suspect about being a stylist?

There are just as many unglamorous parts to the job as there are glamorous ones, if not more. From taping shoes, to dealing with customs, to trying anything to get a stain off of a garment – the list goes on.

 Why is having a stylist so important?

When it comes to shooting a brand’s lookbook or campaign, a stylist brings an important level of objectivity to the set. That outsider’s perspective combined with the designer’s vision is what brings the collection to life. A stylist also knows how to make the clothes look their best for the camera—which requires more trickery than you’d think.

Can you elaborate on a favorite project or two that you’ve worked on?

My favorite part is the mix of it all so I definitely can’t choose just one. Working on varying projects is what keeps the next one as interesting as the last.

 From where do you draw your inspiration?

It can come from anywhere—runway, the old lady walking down the street, a recent film, old editorials.

 What are your personal hobbies and interests outside of styling?

Eating. Good meals with good friends and I am a happy camper.

How would you describe your own sense of style and fashion when it comes to your own wardrobe?

I definitely have a uniform. Lots of nude, black, and navy, and not a whole lot of anything else.

What brands do you aspire to one day work with?

The Row, Celine, and Protagonist.

 What brand or client is up next on your agenda that you’ll be styling?

I don’t like to count my eggs before they hatch, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

For the multitalented Zoe Cleland, acting ‘never seemed like a choice’

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Actress Zoe Cleland has shined in her roles in “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town,” “Murdoch Mysteries,” “Reign” and more.

 

 

For Canadian actress Zoe Cleland, the journey began on the stage, advanced to the screen and has featured her becoming many memorable characters across comedy, drama, mystery and more.

“I think every time I do a new project, I grow as an actor and as a human being,” she said. “One of the things I love about acting is that it’s not static. Every job requires me to expand myself and my vision of the world.”

Her own story is one characterized by ambition, talent and success. She began performing for theatrical productions as a child and made her TV debut on “Murdoch Mysteries” at the age of 15. By the age of 17, Cleland was among a dozen actors – and the youngest ever – to be chosen for the National Theatre School of Canada, a milestone selection into her home country’s top conservatory training program.

“I literally knew I wanted to be an actress when I was about 5,” Cleland said. “It never seemed like a choice to me. It was always just part of who I was. For about a year, when I was really little, I used to watch “The Wizard of Oz” every day and told everyone at my school that my name was Dorothy! My parents took me to a lot of theatre as a kid. They would take me to the Stratford Festival every year and I remember that being the first time I started thinking of acting as a profession beyond playing dress-up at home. I remember being about 4 years old and seeing a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that seemed like the most magical thing on earth.”

Cleland, a Toronto-born talent, is classically trained and among her performing arsenal, she’s studied dramatic combat and is well versed in singing, dialects and accents including British, Irish, Scottish and American.

While attending the National Theatre School, Cleland starred in eight productions at the conservatory including her own self-written solo show, “Drawing White,” and in a production of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” in the role of Irina, one of the sisters.

“I also played the Fool in “King Lear,” which was a lot of fun. Sometimes just doing scene work in a lot of detail was most rewarding,” said Cleland. “The great thing about theatre school is that they give you so much time to just totally dive into things and pick everything apart as much as you want, so sometimes just doing scene study was great because you got the chance to look at something from every possible angle.”

The training and experience helped groom Cleland, 24, into a dynamic, well-rounded and brilliant actress with a world of authenticity and performing charisma.

“I think in all honesty going to theatre school taught me more about how I am as a person than any one thing about acting,” she said. “I went when I was really young, 17-19, so I was really still just trying to figure out who I was. The whole thing was such an intense experience and it changed me so much. I think overall it taught me to trust my own internal guidance system and let that lead me in my work, rather than looking to the outside for someone to tell me what I should do.”

Cleland later went on to star in the theatre productions of “Wishes of This & the Other Thing” directed by Rose Plotek and “The Chimes” directed by Nancy Palk. In 2013, Cleland received the Theatre Centre Emerging Artist Award at the Summerworks Festival for her starring role in “Girls! Girls! Girls!” directed by Donna Marie Baratta and Jessica Carmichael. The play is about a group of 14-year-olds who one night decide to attack one of their peers.

“It is written in a poetic, playful style that makes it kind of otherworldly,” Cleland said. “I played Jam, who is a follower just trying to fit in and be liked. She ends up getting in way over her head in the violence that her friends are perpetrating. She struggles with her integrity when she realizes that they have gone too far.”

Parlaying her strong theatre background into TV recognition, Cleland went on to land recurring roles on the CW’s fantasy drama series, “Reign,” starring Adelaide Kane and Megan Follows, and Bite TV’s comedy series, “Guidance” starring Rob Baker.

Millie Tom has worked in the casting of more than 50 films and 19 different TV titles including “A History of Violence,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” She said, “I have known Zoe since she was 15 years old, when she first started auditioning. I believe she has a unique, magnetic quality that lends itself perfectly to film and television. I cast her in two projects since she graduated the National Theatre School, one being “Guidance,” a comedy series about three inept guidance counselors working in a high school.”

In five episodes of “Guidance,” Cleland played Morgan, a student who approaches the counselors for help.

“She was so good as Morgan, a precocious teenager who was being bullied,” Tom said. “She nailed her role as the ‘straight man’ to Rob Baker, who played opposite her, while at the same time pulling off the comedic timing that made the show a success.”

Cleland kept the momentum going and booked roles on the History Channel’s “Brainwashed,” Craig Macnaughton’s comedy webseries, “Pay Up” and in the hit supernatural medical drama, “Saving Hope” starring Erica Durance.

Most recently, Cleland returned for a guest starring role in “Murdoch Mysteries,” for the episode – “Raised on Robbery” – that aired in January on the CBC. She also made her feature film debut in writer-director Jeremy LaLonde’s comedy, “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town,” that’s been screening on the independent film circuit and won Best Feature and Best Ensemble awards at the 2016 Canadian Filmmakers’ Festival. The film stars Jewel Staite, Lauren Lee Smith and Lauren Holly.

“I loved the sense that we were all collaborating and making something together, and that everyone’s thoughts were valued and taken into consideration,” Cleland said.

We’re excited to see Zoe Cleland in many future roles to come. Check out Zoe’s work on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/zoecleland and follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZoeCleland

 

 

 

Female lead is ‘lovable, but hopeless with guys’ in Katie Micay’s Romantic Comedy ‘Flirt’

 

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Kelsey Impicciche (middle), Lexi Giovagnoli (left) and Tyler Mauro star in writer-producer Katie Micay’s “Flirt.”

 

The short romantic comedy film, “Flirt” from Canadian writer-producer Katie Micay has all the ingredients of a champion paradigm of filmmaking. Micay wrote the high concept script featuring an endearing protagonist who faces a relatable obstacle and features a strong character arc. There’s a torrent of comedy stemming from firsthand source material, strong supporting characters with palpable chemistry and on-location shooting captured with refined cinematography.

The story follows Taylor (Kelsey Impicciche), a quirky college senior who lacks in the oft-tricky art of flirting and is on a quest to land the hottest guy in school as her date to her final sorority formal.

“Flirt” is a romantic comedy about a girl who is very lovable, but hopeless with guys,” Micay said. “Ultimately, she is focused on things that aren’t important and needs to learn to find someone who appreciates her for who she is.”

Impicciche, who has acted in the films, “Suicide Note,” “The Toy Soldiers” and “The Mastery,” said, “I loved the idea of the project and of this character who can’t flirt and ended up in many awkward situations. I loved the idea that this character really needed a date to a dance. I’ve honestly had this problem many times.”

The film co-stars Lexi Giovagnoli as Jenna, Taylor’s sorority sister and best friend. Playing Taylor’s love interests are Tyler Mauro as Liam and Shane R. Kennedy as Brad. “Flirt” was filmed on location at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles and went on to be an Official Selection at the Reality Bytes Film Festival in 2013.

Micay is known for her writing and producing of “Limited Engagement,” a comedy short that won an Award of Merit at the Women’s Independent Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival.

“Flirt” came on the heels of Micay’s “My So Called Family,” a darker, quirky dramedy she wrote and produced in 2013. “I was ready to just make something different,” she said. “I got to use a lot of wit and dry humor and I hadn’t done that before. My friends and I are hopeless at flirting and it was something we always joked about! After seeing “Easy A,” I was inspired to try writing “Flirt.”

The premise was one where art imitated life. Micay is a member of LMU’s Tri Delta Sorority. Her inception into sorority life was an unexpected one and an experience that would later lay the framework for filmmaking inspiration.

“I came into college with a very sour idea of Greek life,” Micay said. “But when my friend convinced me to try it, it turned out to be the best decision of my college life. I still live with my sorority twin!”

In the case of sorority formals, it’s the girls who find dates and ask out guys. “It was definitely stressful for my friends and I,” Micay said.

The fabric of the leading character, Taylor, was also derivative, on a certain level. “I’m not as expressive or over-the-top as Taylor can be, but she stemmed from me. When we auditioned Kelsey, she really took to the character right away. Through rehearsals, we built the character up to be what you see on the screen.”

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Katie Micay (middle) unifies the vision behind the romantic comedy, “Flirt.”

Said Impicciche, “Katie had a solid grip on what she wanted, and was very helpful with guiding me towards her vision, while still allowing me a lot of creative freedom. There was a lot of physical comedy she wrote for the character, which was incredibly fun to do.”

The relationship between characters Taylor and Jenna was based on one of Micay’s friendships, “one where you are essentially sisters,” she noted.

“For me, the characters made the story,” Impicciche said. “As soon as I describe them, other girls immediately can identify people in their own lives that relate to these characters. They’re very real.”

From a producer’s standpoint, Micay was charged the task of navigating the project among its multiple on-campus locations including a dormitory and a working lab classroom that required a filming permit with the needed safety protocol.

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Actor Shane R. Kennedy plays Brad, the elusive love interest  of Taylor, played by Kelsey Impicciche in “Flirt.”

 

“When shooting on a college campus, you have to go by their rules so when they will let you shoot really dictates a lot. We also shot outside with a dolly track during school hours so that completely killed our audio,” said Micay. “We went back and used ADR in post. During the shoot, I relied heavily on Alyssa Brocato, my cinematographer. We planned as much as possible ahead of time because we knew timing would be tough. On the day it was about getting everything we needed.”

Micay’s diligent producing paid dividends and led to the film becoming a success. “Katie ran a really professional and fun set. Everything ran very smoothly,” Impicciche said. “I was really impressed with how she organized everyone and how she kept everyone on track and doing their best work. She was a joy to work with.”

Most recently, Micay wrote and produced “The Firefly Girls” that starred the award-winning Savannah Paige Rae of “Parenthood” and “Date Night” fame. “The Firefly Girls” screened this year at the Sonoma International Film Festival and the Equinox Women’s Film Festival.

For more information, visit: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5084812/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Watch “Flirt” here: https://vimeo.com/81416130

Follow Katie on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/katiemicay

Actress Alison Balnar Stars in Film Headed to Cannes

When Canadian actress Alison Balnar first stepped on stage, it was to play the classic role of Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. At the time, she was ten years old, with big dreams and a life ahead of her. Now, she is a part of a film headed to the Cannes Short Film Corner.

Balnar believes that going to Cannes will give the film, 60 Eight, the recognition it deserves.

“It’s one of the most prestigious international film festivals and will provide a great platform for a fantastic film,” she said. “I feel that the filmmaker, Raja, and the film itself are very worthy of this platform.”

60 Eight follows the life of John, who at the age of eight gets stuck in a lengthy comatose/minimally conscious state. It exposes the life and relationships surrounding John. Balnar plays the role of Sarah, John’s best friend. Sarah is captured at three different ages since the film focuses on the 52 years that John is in a coma. Balnar portrays Sarah at the age of 18.

“It feels great to be involved with a project with such a touching story,” said Balnar. “Raja was a terrific person to work with and was the driving force behind finding and using the vulnerability that was required to portray Sarah.”

The film was written and directed by Raja Pothineni, and stars Matt Jayson, Reginald Span, Lucas Zaffari, Laine Hannon and Denah Angel.

Balnar was extremely dedicated to an accurate portrayal of Sarah right from the beginning, said director Raja Pothineni.

“It was great working with Alison. In the very first meeting, we talked about how 60 eight was going to be a film that tried to portray the lives of its characters as authentically as possible, and the work that would need to go in to be able to pull that off,” said Pothineni. “Right from the start, I could see that Alison was dedicated in bringing her character to life and her talent lets her play complex characters while hiding the effort it takes to create them.”

Pothineni also said that Balnar’s attitude and commitment allowed for a smoother production.

“During the shoot, her commitment to the moment and her fellow actors meant that I had to give very minimal direction, and on the edit table, I was very glad to find her maintain her rhythm across shots and takes,” he said.

For Balnar however, the film is about the story it tells and the life lessons that are conveyed.

“I think that this film is filled with many valuable lessons and Raja does a beautiful job in capturing them,” said Balnar. “One lesson that resonates with me is the power of love. John is consistently loved throughout his life even though he is put in extraordinary circumstances. I think that this film reminds the audience of this force of love and puts life into perspective.”

Playing the character of Sarah has given Balnar the chance show audiences her versatility by playing a very vulnerable character.

“As an actress, each role and character is unique. It requires you to look into different emotions and experiences and translate them to find parts of the character,” she said. “When you combine my exploration of the character with the director’s openness to my interpretation, it gives me total freedom to perform. As an actress, that is a great gift.”

The role did not come without it’s difficulties. Her character is in an extraordinary circumstance that needed to be displayed effectively on screen, and Balnar stepped up the the task.

“A challenge I had with the character, Sarah, was finding the right colours in my performance that captured exactly how she felt,” she said. “It was a matter of how to authentically capture what her character was feeling given these extraordinary circumstances. I needed to find a balance of both strength and weakness within her and have that translate on camera.”

Although Balnar is only portraying the character of Sarah for a portion of the film, she is able to capture her story and the character’s feelings in a way she feels many will be able to relate to.

“When I play Sarah, she is 18 years old and moving to college. She needs to let go of John and accept his fate in order to move forward with her life. Sarah of course takes care of herself and lets go of her dedicated visits to John in the hospital. It’s her struggle of coming to that decision and moving forward with life that I can relate to. Sarah is growing up and facing decisions that will ultimately affect her life for the better or worse,” she said. “I think this is a struggle that is not only relatable to me, but so many other millennials.”

60 Eight premieres May 16 at the Cannes Short Film Corner.

Director Carlisle Antonio Learns Not Only About Wildlife But Life Itself During National Parks Film Project

The greatest forms of art are often achieved when one is pushed to their limits, when challenges that are presented seem impossible to overcome, but effort and determination lead to the shining light that is great success. And beyond that, the greatest sense of accomplishment can often be creating such a masterpiece where the reward is not monetary, but knowing what you have created will be appreciated by so many people, and forever changed your outlook on life. Not many people ever get to experience such a feeling, but filmmaker Carlisle Antonio is one of the lucky few.

Antonio spent months in gruelling conditions on a volunteer project in Alaska, making a series of films for the National Park Service that they will use for all the Park visitor centers around the United States as well as for distribution via the Internet, social media and NPS sites. It involved working primarily as the caretaker for the Bremner Historic District, which is situated deep in the Wrangell-St Elias mountains, staying in a primitive cabin that was part of the Yellow Band Gold Mines base camp from 1939 to 1941.

“It was challenging in every aspect, physically, emotionally and mentally. Having to live in extremely remote conditions surrounded by glaciers and steep mountains, with Grizzlies and other wildlife, collecting drinking water from glacial streams with temperatures that would chill every bone in your body, watching eagles playing amidst majestic mountains and landscapes,” said Antonio. “I refer to Alaska as  ‘Gods Painted Landscape’”.

Antonio has a vast amount of experience directing and producing films. As CEO of Red Man production films, he travels the globe telling the stories that need to be told. His success comes from the passion he has for filmmaking.

“It’s a medium that can have an immediate and powerful impact on people around the world from all walks of life,” he said. “It can transcend race, culture, religion, politics and prejudice and can build bridges that can play an important role in understanding the world we live in through all its complexities.”

This is the exact experience Antonio had in Alaska. With each rising sun, a new set of challenges were presented to him, while still combatting the difficult and harsh weather that the North can bring.

“To be so isolated, making a wrong decision can literally mean losing your life,” he described.

The change in his usual scenery allowed Antonio to learn and experience many things. He explained that he learned how to use satellite radios, talk to pilots, take weather readings off the mountains, maintain hiking trails, camp in wilderness, bear safety and the dangers of bears, camp safety, river crossings, trek through hazardous terrain, glacier crossings, how to read the terrain and signs of animal activity, trek though wilderness and back country, maintain cabins and campsites, give advice to visitors, and help plan hiking and trekking routes safely. He learned how to read topographical maps, maintain a strict camp discipline. He learned how to use solar paneling to charge phones, batteries and radios. But beyond what is practical, he learned much more.

“I learned how to live with myself in a way that I was deeply fulfilled, physically, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I learned about the difference between the things we need and the things we think we need. I learned about silence and the natural rhythms of the earth and what we call wildlife. I learned about awe and beauty and humility,” he described. “Because living in a place such as this, you realize the fragility of our own mortality and the delusions that we are in control.”

The National Park Service will benefit for years due to Antonio’s volunteerism. Without him, such a project may not have been possible.

“To be surrounded in such beauty and in a place where conventional time really didn’t exist; I felt a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else,” he said. “With no electricity and the normal everyday city trappings, like phones, Internet, Facebook, etc. its like throwing out all your stresses and anxieties and finding out what it means to be alive. What is not to enjoy about that?”

Antonio donated his time, and ample amount of experience and success in filmmaking for a project that has meant so much. The true definition of selfless art.

“I guess Alaska taught me how to be alive and thankful for being part of this amazing journey that we know as life,” he concluded.

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