Sought After Film Editor Andres Vergara Lends His Talents to “Stray Dog”

Andres Vergara
Film editor and VFX artist Andres Vergara

Over the past few years Andres Vergara has worked as an editor and VFX artist on some of the biggest films alongside some of the industry’s biggest names.

A citizen of both Canada and Mexico, Vergara moved to Vancouver in his youth to pursue his career as an editor and visual effects artist in the film industry. Today he has edited and produced visual effects for films featuring Academy Award winners Denzel Washington (Safehouse), Liam Neeson (Battleship) and Mickey Rourke (Immortals).

As a VFX artist, Vergara has also been tapped to lend his expertise to blockbuster titles such as Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and the 2011 prequel/reboot of John Carpenter’s classic sci-fi/horror masterpiece The Thing.

Although Vergara has clearly become a sought after talent for big budget feature films, his latest project, Stray Dog, took him back to the format that originally established his presence in the industry – documentary film.

Stray Dog is a “portrait of the life” of Vietnam veteran Ron “Stray Dog Hall, and was recently shown at the New York Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. The film won Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards as well.

“The documentary makes a strong social commentary on America, and modern society, without the need to explain or narrate things to viewers,” Vergara said. “Rather, the film lets audiences draw their own conclusions about the events and gives viewers a unique opportunity to find their own angle on it.”

Vergara worked hand-in-hand with Stray Dog director Debra Granik to select shots, edit sequences and classify scenes from the hours of footage shot in Branson, Missouri and Mexico City.

“Granik was very clear on what she was trying to find, and she communicated her vision and ideas in a way that was profound enough for me to understand the core idea of the documentary,” Vergara said.

For Vergara, editing has been an especially gratifying experience.

“To me, the privilege of being the first viewer of a project, while also making substantial decisions with the director on which scenes have to stay or go, is a hugely rewarding process to be a part of,” Vergara said.

But the talented editor hasn’t married himself to a single genre. Instead, he’s fluidly moved between non-fiction (documentary) and fiction throughout his career, which has allowed him to diversify his talents and excel far beyond those who play it safe and remain in the same genre.

“My experience in both genre’s has constantly proven to me that there is a big reward, and competitive edge, to know the rules of both games, which has lead me to exciting projects and opportunities,” Vergara said.

One of those exciting projects was the gritty, action-packed film Safehouse. Directed by multi-award winning director Daniel Espinosa who is known for the films Easy Money and Child 44 (Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace), Safehouse was set in Cape Town, South Africa, and starred two-time Oscar Award winner Denzel Washington (American Gangster, The Book of Eli, Training Day) and Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Smokin’ Aces).

As a lead VFX artist for Safehouse, Vergara seamlessly added a full crowd of people into a partially empty South African soccer stadium. He used real footage instead of CGI, which added a level of excitement and a layer of realism to the sequence that CGI could not have accomplished in such a seamless manner.

Vergara also worked as a lead VFX artist on the CGI-heavy blockbuster film Immortals. Based on Greek-mythology, Immortals was directed by iconic Indian director Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Mirror Mirror, The Fall) and starred Academy Award winner Mickey Rourke and Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Stardust).

Shot almost entirely on green screen, Immortals took full advantage of Vergara’s talents as a VFX artist to achieve the overall stunning look audiences experienced on the screen.

But Vergara’s favorite project so far has been Stray Dog.

“The narrative of the film was structured unlike few, if any, other documentaries ever done,” Vergara said.

Andres Vergara’s refined talents as an editor and VFX artist promise to keep him successfully working in the industry for years to come; and, thanks to his ability to handle diverse projects with ease, his career will continue to be one that is assuredly dynamic in scope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight: Dynamic Actress Manuela Osmont

Manuela Osmont
                                      Actress Manuela Osmont shot by Brian David

Dynamic actress Manuela Osmont’s stunning beauty is matched only by her ability to meld into character. Highly talented and experienced, Manuela has been at home on stage and behind the camera since the age of five. Raised and trained in four countries on three continents, her works run the proverbial gamut; from Gnossienne, a film which grapples with the subject of clinical depression, to the lighthearted Vice-Versa about a love triangle with a twist.

In the tragic and beautiful Gnossienne, which was recently accepted as an Official Selection of the Cannes Short Film Corner, Osmont plays the wife of a doctor. After the death of their first child, Osmont’s character becomes hopelessly depressed. The film follows her and her husband as she grapples with depression, and through the narrative the film examines one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in society.

“Each person is very singular about how they deal with grief and the loss of a child, and I enjoyed being able to experiment with my character’s vulnerable side,” said Osmont.

Osmont’s astounding ability to shift characters is seen in Mariana Can, where she plays the role of a prostitute who meets a writer and becomes his muse. The setting and cinematography take a surreal approach, making this film, like all of Osmont’s work, a cerebral and artistic examination of human emotion.

“I try and go for the roles with big moments and emotions that truly reflect how people behave,” Osmont said about choosing her roles. “I mostly try to do the projects that scare me the most. If I read a script and start to doubt my ability to do it, then I go for it. In my opinion, that’s what helps me grow.”

In Vice-Versa, Osmont plays a married woman who is having an affair; only, the woman she is seeing is also involved in a tryst with her husband. Osmont’s first comedic film role, Vice-Versa forced her out of her element; exactly what she loves in a role.

“I usually try and choose roles that I haven’t done,” Osmont said. “I don’t want to put myself in a box.”

In addition to her film experience, Osmont has spent practically her entire life on stage. Her repertoire includes roles such as Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Queen Margaret in Henry VI, Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Carol Cutrere in Orpheus Descending. Of her work on stage though, her most dynamic role was that of Sergei Upgobkin in Tony Kushner’s Slavs. The play centers on the fall of the USSR, with Osmont playing an old Bolshevik man.

“I had to work really hard to get the Russian accent right combined with the voice of an old man, which proved to be quite challenging, but a lot of fun nonetheless,” said Osmont, the consummate professional.

All of Osmont’s experience onstage and in front of the camera is compounded by her training at the renowned Cours Florent Acting School in Paris and UCLA’s Film School. A polyglot, Osmont fluently speaks French, Spanish and English, and is functional in German and Italian as well. With her diverse background Osmont is able to blend into almost any cross-cultural role.

“Because my father is French and my mother is Colombian, I am ethnically ambiguous; I get called in for European, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and sometimes even Indian parts,” said Osmont.

Her upcoming projects include Across The Desert, a film about a devoted sister spreading her brother’s ashes along a road trip; Smoking Gun, about a spy in the CIA who learns more than she’s supposed to; and Galleon, about the search for a shipwreck containing an enormous cache of treasure.

The New Face of Entertainment: Adam Pedicini

Adam Pedicini
                                                           Adam Pedicini shot by Andrew Raszevski

Australian entertainer Adam Pedicini has displayed a rare talent — the ability to seamlessly take on the roles of television host, model, dancer, and actor in a multitude of genres from drama to horror to his personal favorite, comedy. Pedicini’s strikingly good looks also put him among the ranks of such Aussie heartthrobs as Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

Pedicini has been an avid fan of the theatre his entire life, and when he began acting on stage as a teenager he immediately proved to be a natural. His first performance was in a play called Patrick’s Hat Trick, which was aimed at a young audience. His role as a struggling magician was so popular it earned the play tour dates across much of New South Wales and Victoria in south Australia.

His theatre experience is impressive, and his prolific dedication to the stage stems from his love of the art form. In addition to Patrick’s Hat Trick, he’s played the famous role of Puck in the Australian Shakespeare Company’s production of the classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a prestigious role in itself. In his roles in the double-billed productions of writer Mark Dunn’s Judy Garland Slept Here and Full Frontal Male Nudity, he showcased his comedic talent, while also shining a spotlight on issues facing the LGBT community.

“The first play dealt with the homophobic issues of a small country town in Southern America,” said Pedicini. “The second looked at the body image of gay men. Although both were rather funny plays, they also had a strong message about gay rights and issues.”

With his incredibly outgoing personality, and being an avid supporter of LGBT rights, Pedicini also had the privilege of hosting the televised Sydney Mardi Gras parade. The parade was organized in part by Academy Award nominated actress and comedienne Lily Tomlin, and earned more than $30 million for the state of New South Wales, making it the second-largest event in the state in terms of its economic impact.

An entertainer with no boundaries to his medium, Pedicini is incredibly proud of his work in film. His feature film projects include True Face and Cold Feet. In True Face, he actually plays two characters with vastly different personalities, and it isn’t until late in the film that the viewer discovers the characters are actually the same person. Cold Feet is a comedy-horror film about a bachelor party, where Pedicini’s character Barry is playing the “bad influence” on his betrothed friend Freddie.

The director of True Face, Lauren Batschowanow, spoke highly of Pedicini’s devotion to his craft, and of his chemistry with his co-stars.

“Adam’s charisma and confidence made it easy for his co-stars to be natural in the scene,” said Batschowanow, “and it certainly created electricity on screen, which is what every director dreams of!”

Passionate about traveling the world, Pedicini has done a great deal of jet-setting. At the beginning of his career as a dancer, he performed on cruise ships as a way to see the world; within a few years his immense talent earned him a place dancing onstage across Europe with Cascada, the gold- and platinum-certified German dance-pop trio.

“There’s a special bond that a performer has with a crowd, and I really feed off that,” said Pedicini. In addition to his tour with Cascada, Pedicini has also performed in the Britain’s Got Talent, UK X Factor, and Australia’s Got Talent.

With such a multi-faceted and rare set of talents, Adam Pedicini is certain to become the new face of entertainment.

Dean McCarthy: Australia’s Hollywood Insider


Dean McCarthy
Dean McCarthy (left) interviewing Niall (left from center), Louis (center) & Liam (right) of One Direction.

Dean McCarthy is the Hollywood correspondent for leading Australian entertainment news program, Scoopla. He interviews celebrities, attends red carpets and delivers the latest entertainment news to TV and radio programs all over down under.

At first glance you would think he actually walks the red carpet. His movie star looks are topped off with blonde locks and the perfect Hollywood smile. That’s not where the charm finishes though. Out of nowhere comes the thickest Australian accent you’ve ever heard. It’s polished, but undoubtedly Aussie.

He is the fresh new face of the Hollywood hosting world and quickly becoming a connected and well-respected member of LA press circles. He has covered every major award show and attends most of the major red carpet premieres too.

What’s even more interesting is how he ended up in Hollywood. The self confessed “boy from the bush” actually grew up in the middle of Australia, on a farm as the youngest of four boys. His first ever job was hosting his own radio program at the local station, 2TEN FM.

He attended boarding school in Queensland, where he excelled in speech and drama and was featured in various local and national TV commercials. After school he was accepted into the prestigious Queensland University of Technology’s Business School and had a part time role hosting “Cinema”, a TV program that aired on Briz 31.

It was when the producer of The Labrat, Camilla & Stav show offered Dean a gig as the movie reviewer on their morning radio program that things took off. “It was such an exciting time for me. I would wake up early and go into the station to review movie’s live on air.” Dean said.

Soon after, a friend submitted Dean for a unique modeling assignment, to be the face of a theme park in Australia called Dreamworld. His face was digitally created to look half wet and half dry, to promote the launch of a new water-park. Dean confesses that the reach of the campaign was overwhelming. “It was everywhere. They had me on busses, billboards, life size cutouts in malls, I even saw my face on a pizza box”.

Dreamworld
   Dean McCarthy on a billboard for Dreamworld in Australia (Photo courtesy of Dreamworld)

Dean then put his media career on the back burner and progressed with Austereo as one of their top advertising executives, eventually landing a promotion and transfer to their Sydney office, but his real dream of TV and radio never ever died. After months of auditioning, Dean was selected as a back-up reporter for The Dirt TV, an online program at the time. “The Dirt TV was fantastic. It was all about entertainment news, and I am fascinated by all things Hollywood and celebrity”.

In 2012 Dean was cast as a “fake” housemate on Big Brother Australia, a stunt by producers to drive ratings and controversy with the original 12 housemates. Shortly afterwards Dean moved to LA and his dream of reporting from the USA became a reality. His first assignment was to cover the red carpet of the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. “I was terrified. They placed me on the red carpet next to E! News’s correspondent, Khloe Kardashian. There I was, standing next to Khloe, interviewing A-List celebrities in Hollywood. It was the dream coming true in front of my eyes”.

The success of The Dirt TV continued and the online program became telecast during prime time nationally on Channel 11, ONE and Southern Cross TEN. The name then changed to Scoopla and Dean became the regular and key Hollywood correspondent.

Red carpets are now a breeze for this talented Aussie, having covered dozens of them and interviewed countless A-List celebrities. He confesses that his days of getting intimidated are long gone. “I don’t bat an eyelid anymore about who I’m interviewing. I interviewed One Direction in front of thousands of screaming girls, Tom Hanks in front of hundreds of paparazzi and I’ve sat down with Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence. They are all just people, exactly like you or I. The only difference is that everyone in the world knows who they are.”

Dean now also reports for Scoopla online, and often crosses during the national radio program, syndicated on the Today Network. He recently became the Hollywood correspondent for Hot FM and Star FM too. In September 2014, Dean joined the Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine team. “I interview celebrities and review luxury cars, houses, hotels, anything that our readers adore, really. I absolutely love it.”

His role with the prestigious magazine has opened up connections and contacts that Dean had never imagined possible, and even landed him cameo appearances on the popular TV show The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills, which airs weekly on Bravo.

With an intensely busy schedule, the determined reporter still manages to squeeze in his favorite past time, the gym. The results certainly show. “Second to my career, my greatest passion is health and fitness. I am obsessed with it. I train almost every day and I am very very dedicated. I have become even more focused on it since moving to LA and hanging out in Hollywood”.

At 30 years old, Dean has carved out his dream life and even his dream address in the exclusive Hollywood Hills. So what’s next and where does one go from here? “I want to build my career further in America. I am still very rooted in Australia, I’m in the process of building a home back in Aus as we speak, but while I’m here, I want to make the most of this incredible country and this exciting city”.

Sofar so good: Estefania Sequeira on the best-kept secret music movement

Ever wonder what it’s like to be one of the behind-the-scenes people in one of the most behind-the-scenes movements happening today?

Estefania Sequeira happens to be one of those very cool people. For the past few years now, Sequeira, an editor for film and music videos, has helped shape Sofar Sounds, an underground music event that’s spreading at the speed of, well, sound.

Sofar Sounds
      Estefania Sequeira capture the magic of a Sofar Sounds’ event

The movement’s formula is basic, but brilliant. Sofar Sounds brings together a group of people in a small space, for example someone’s backyard, living room or even a desolate barn out in the sticks, where attendees share the similar desire to listen to really, really good live music.

Whether it’s the result of social media and its lack of human contact, the quick and cheap downloadable tracks of our time that leave people craving real raw sound, or all those packed festivals that went on for days and days and days— for music lovers, Sofar Sounds is a grassroots breath of fresh air that offers the close-knit community experience that has been so hard to find in the modern age.

For those who have missed the global phenomenon to date, this isn’t your catchy Groupon gimmick. The story of how Sofar Sounds started is repeated just about every time the name is mentioned. This lends even more to its lore, which goes like this:

Sofar Sounds began in London in 2009, when three friends—Rafe Offer, Rocky Start and Dave Alexander—went to a pub to hear Friendly Fires, a band whose debut album the year before had cast them into success. But when these three music-loving friends got the chance to hear the amazing band—it was in front of an awful crowd.

Recalling that night, Sofar Sounds founder Rafe Offer, who is actually a Chicago native, tells the Wall Street Journal, “Rocky, Dave and I all could not believe that this superb band was playing their hearts out and yet half the room was busy talking about other things, fondling phones or clanging drinks.”

Of the guys, Dave Alexander was, himself, a musician, who invited a few friends over to his London flat to try out some of his new songs. The atmosphere at that event was so markedly different, and better, than the night at the pub that these guys decided to host another one just like it.

It didn’t take long for their idea to take off—and land overseas. One of the first major cities to latch on was San Francisco, where film editor Estefania Sequeira, a life-long music lover who earned her BFA in Motion Pictures and Television, helped firmly implement Sofar Sounds in the US.

Already making music videos, Estefania’s editing skills and knowledge of the area’s music culture made her the perfect person to translate the founders’ idea—which, remember, is meant to introduce good music beautifully.

In a way Estefania Sequeira jumpstarted Sofar Sounds SF using her background in editing to shoot and cut videos of the group’s events, among other things. “I’ve worn many different hats, as I’ve been very involved from the beginning stages,” Sequeira explains. “I was there in San Francisco when it was first starting out. I was the video production supervisor, as well as a videographer and editor. In Vancouver I took more of a leading role and managed the whole event while also being very involved in the video production.”

In addition to the San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada branches, she has also participated in some events in Costa Rica. Definitely a labor of love, Sofar Sounds requires a lot of amazing people to make these secret music events happen. Money has never been a big issue as the events are financed by attendee donations, which pay the production staff, including great talents like Estefania Sequeira, and also covers the cost of the beer, wine, and refreshments served.

Using cell phones and other recording devices is usually discouraged during the gigs, so having someone like Sequeira, a trained videographer and editor, there to record the acts and putting out excellent quality videos of Sofar concerts is incredible. Those videos will be the only chance most people ever get to see these gigs, since the number invited to attend is so low.

However, even though Sofar Sounds’ attendees are hand picked, it’s worth the effort and so much fun to try and gain acceptance. First go onto the Sofar Sounds website and sign up for the newsletter. Pick a city (again, with the popularity there’s bound to be one nearby) and fill out a brief survey. Yes, survey—to determine if you’ll be selected to attend.

The locations are kept secret until hours before. Even the performers’ names are not usually disclosed. For those invited to attend, they arrive and are guaranteed an unforgettable music experience. For those performing, it’s a chance to gain new fans as well as make contacts with other musicians. Sofar is about really cool people, like Estefania Sequeira, who love good music and want to hear it, rather than watch a mass of phone screens float in the darkness of a crowded club.

Sofar Sounds
                                       One of Sofar Sounds’ events in San Francisco shot by Estefania Sequeira

Half-Korean and half-Costa Rican, Estefania describes how the movement is universal at its core. She says, “I think people love how global it is. How you can experience the same event in different parts of the world. Also, both the musicians and the guests relate to the respect for music that Sofar Sounds represents.”

So what once was known as “Songs from a Room” has morphed into Sofar Sounds. And what once was a room in a London flat has grown into a worldwide movement.

Sequeira, who continues to also work full-time on her documentary films and music video projects as well as with the movement, says Sofar should never lose its essence, the closeness to the music and to others.

“People love Sofar Sounds because of how intimate it is and because of the music you’re able to discover through it,” she says. “It will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a truly special community to be a part of.”

Spotlight: Captivating Dutch Model Eva Rutten

Originally from the Netherlands, model Eva Rutten has made her name known throughout the international fashion industry with her mesmerizing beauty and vast repertoire of work. Rutten, who is currently signed with Susan B Talent & Management NYC, and Network Model Agency in Antwerp, Belgium, won a huge make-up campaign at the age of 19 making her the face of Teeez Cosmetics for five years.

With an Indonesian mother, a Dutch father and an Italian grandmother, Rutten’s unique ethnic background has given her an inherently exotic look that is versatile and highly sought after across continents. Rutten says, “I’m a chameleon, I can do all kinds of looks. I can look Asian, Caucasian, Spanish and African American. I also speak several languages including English, German, French and Dutch.”

Eva Rutten
Eva Rutten shot by Edwin Van Wier

Since she first got her start in the industry at the age of 12, Eva Rutten has not only won an impressive list of international modeling competitions and had incredible success as a print, commercial and editorial model, but she has also created an astonishing repertoire of work as a runway model.

One of Rutten’s most notable accomplishments as a runway model came when she was chosen to walk the runway at a Diane Von Furstenberg event in New York City. Diane Von Furstenberg, formally known as Princess Diane of Furstenberg, is best known for her clinging jersey wrap dress, which she introduced in the early 70s. Since its first introduction the DVF wrap dress has continued to be an iconic staple of contemporary women’s fashion; and, due to the heavy influence it has had on the fashion world and the modern working woman, not only are several of DVF’s wrap dresses included in the Costume Institute’s collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art dedicated an entire exhibition entitled ‘Journey of a Dress’ that showcased the designer’s dress in a myriad of prints and patterns last year.

To be chosen to walk in an event for a designer of this caliber puts Eva Rutten in league with supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Lindsay Ellingson, who have both walked for the designer as well. Rutten has also gained worldwide attention with her participation in several well-known international modeling competitions. In 2011, she became Miss World Bikini Model Netherlands, as well as Miss European Tourism of the Netherlands. These winning titles put her in the running for the Miss World title for which she went to China to compete against the best models the world has to offer, where she placed in the top 20.

Eva Rutten
2011 Miss World Bikini Model Netherlands Eva Rutten

In addition to her outer beauty, Rutten lets her inner beauty radiate outward through her work as a model; and, she is intent on breaking the stereotypical stick-figure body type that has become the standard for models across the industry while also helping other women follow their dreams.

Several years ago Eva Rutten began using her notoriety to put the spotlight on the Women Empowerment Foundation, a non-profit organization through which she has dedicated herself to helping women and children who are victims of trauma. Rutten is also passionate about fitness, something she has used along with her recognizable name as a model to help children in Indonesia. Through a collaboration with Child Support Indonesia, Rutten organized a kickboxing event called “Eva’s Boot Camp,” as well as a model workshop, donating the proceeds from her events to the organization.

Eva Rutten
Eva Rutten on the flyer from Eva’s Boot Camp

Rutten says, “I love to help children because I strongly believe they are the future. I want to be able to inspire them to become whatever they want, because there are ways to make things happen even if they weren’t born into the best circumstances, if they want something bad enough there is always a way to achieve it.”

With beauty, brains and talent, Eva Rutten is undoubtedly the whole package. In the past she has starred in several national commercials including ones for Samsung’s Galaxy S2 and S3 commercials and she looks forward to becoming the face of many more brands once she solidifies her place in the American fashion industry.

 

 

Producer Meric Aydin Unveils His Highly Anticipated Upcoming Projects

Meric Aydin
Producer Meric Aydin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talented Cinematographer Brings the Film “Dirty Laundry” To Life

Cinematographer Guy Pooles
             Cinematographer Guy Pooles shot by Michel Copeland Toft

A common theme among many Los Angeles transplants is a desire to make it big in one aspect or another of the film industry. Whether it is because they were a big fish in a small pond who have been told since they were young that they belong on camera, or they have worked their whole life to be accepted as a filmmaker in Hollywood, there is so much more to film than just being talented in one’s creative field; film is a collaboration between countless departments who must individually put their egos aside in favor of the story they are creating for the audience.

For internationally respected cinematographer Guy Pooles, this foundational aspect of filmmaking is basic knowledge; and, the process as a whole is something that allows for a level of fulfillment that far surpasses anything that stems from ego-driven motives.

According to Pooles, “Cinema is a fusion of many different art forms, from writing, to music, to costume design and so on. Good cinema is brought into being by every one of those crafts working in harmony to achieve a collective vision.”

An incredible asset to every production to which he lends his name, and believe me, there have been many as he has worked non-stop over the last five years in both the UK and the United States, Pooles is the kind of cinematographer who is not only able to bring stories to life in an extraordinary manner, but he is also heavily conscious of how is work will blend with the work of each and every other department in the final product, the mark of a true collaborative genius. He explains this necessary attitude toward filmmaking by saying, “If I’m too preoccupied with how I’m lighting a scene to notice how it destroys the subtlety of a set design, or how it distracts from an actor’s performance, then a couple of audience members might leave the cinema saying “I liked the lighting” but no one will be saying “I liked the film”.”

Originally from England, Guy Pooles reached international acclaim after working as the cinematographer on the film Dirty Laundry, which was released in 2013. Directed by Aaron Martinez (Substrata), Dirty Laundry received incredible praise, as well as an impressive list of awards last year at film festivals around the world. To name a few, Dirty Laundry garnered an award from the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, a Golden Starfish Award at the Hampton’s International Film Festival, as well as was an Official Selection at the BUSTER Children’s Film Festival Copenhagen, LA Shorts Fest and the DC Shorts Film Festival, and a Special Mention Award at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival. Pooles was also honored on an individual level for his cinematography work on the film with the Linwood Dunn Heritage Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.

A beautifully shot film, Dirty Laundry follows a young boy named Sam (Zander Faden) as he traverses his beyond heartbreaking childhood full of real life bullies and those of which only he can see like that of the laundry monster. After Sam’s father abandons his family, and Sam’s mother falls into a dark and paralyzing depression, the young boy is forced to fend for himself on every level from the unrelenting bullies at school to the monster inside the ever piling dirty laundry within the basement. The level of collaboration and creativity that went into Dirty Laundry all the way down to the way the team managed to bring the laundry monster to life is staggering. Using miscellaneous clothing pieces, all of which were chosen by color and texture in order to fit the film’s palette, and a hand & rod puppet that required three performers to operate, they miraculously brought the laundry monster to life in a way that was not only believable, but frighteningly beautiful as well.

Shamim Seifzadeh, the production designer on Dirty Laundry, says, “I removed the common purpose from each piece of clothing, only to re-assign them to the monsters body parts. In the end, pants became the head; back pockets became his eyes; a zipper became his mouth; and socks became his fingers…. The final design concept became a giant, hunch-backed creature. His weight would not allow him to run fast but his sheer size made him intimidating. It is important to note that the Laundry Monster isn’t evil, but rather, misunderstood.”

Pooles used his expertise as the film’s cinematographer to create a dark and eerie atmosphere within the film that fully supports Sam’s mother’s debilitating depression and the cold world Sam lives in by using little, if any, artificial light. The film is shot solely from Sam’s point of view, a choice that posed challenges, but ultimately made Dirty Laundry a riveting masterpiece that allowed the audience to feel Sam’s struggle and experience his reality with little effort.

In reference to the technical cinematographic decisions that went into the film Pooles recalls, “Our first rule was that the camera would always be at the exact eye- height of Sam… This meant that when the other characters of the film towered over Sam in height, they were towering over the camera, and thus, the audience too. Another tool we utilized was to maintain the relative distance of objects and other characters. So if Sam sees something that’s on the other side of the room from him, the camera will then observe it from the other side of the room.”

While these elements combined to create the film’s general perspective as it unfolds before the audience, there was another more philosophical approach that went into providing the film with its capacity to touch the audience emotionally.

“The strongest tool we utilized was the notion of Pathetic Fallacy, where we render the world surrounding Sam, not how it would realistically appear, but rather how it feels to Sam. Examples of us doing this were: lighting each scene to feel de-saturated and overcast, helping the audience to feel the lack of warmth and colour in Sam’s life,” explains Pooles. “We would also often place Sam in a frame so that he was very small in relation to his empty environment, allowing the audience to understand the extent of the isolation that he feels.”

An even greater testament to this talented young Englishman’s auteur is the fact that Pooles wrote the film in addition to working as its cinematographer, no small feat, but one he seamlessly accomplished as proven by the shear number of awards the film received. Aside from Pooles’ work on Dirty Laundry, he has worked as the cinematographer on the films Happenstance, Martha, Jobe, What Must Be Done. What The Monkey Saw, Wake, Chronophobia, as well as the music video for Bryarly’s hit song ‘In The Bright Daylight’ and the documentary Best of The Pacific Northwest.

Guy Pooles is undoubtedly a cinematographer whose creative vision, backed by his highly specialized technical skills, will continue to impress for decades to come; and frankly, we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

 

Spotlight on Canadian Actor & Model Steven Van Nguyen

Canadian Actor and Model Steven Van Nguyen
Canadian Actor and Model Steven Van Nguyen photo by Marc Shultz and styling by Paul Langill

Originally from Waterloo, a small town in Ontario, Canada, Steven Van Nguyen rose to the top of the Canadian entertainment industry as an actor and a model several years ago. As an actor Steven has starred in the films The White Samurai, Deception, Checkmate, Add To Cart, M.E.G.O., Cheese The Musical and others, as well as an impressive list of commercials for companies including Canadian multinational coffee and doughnut restaurant chain Tim Hortons, Voxx Sports, Emerald City Condos, Mani Wonders, mobile game developer Emoteplay, OCMT College, and Clipter, a collaborative video stories app for Apple operating systems.

Steven played the starring role of Ryan in the dramatic Web series UNDERside, which was nominated for an Upper Year Script Award at the 56th Annual TARA Awards last year. Produced by V.O.P. Media, UNDERside centers on youths from different socioeconomic classes and seeks to reveal how the financial class one grew up in affects their overall outlook on life. Through Steven’s character Ryan audiences see how growing up wealthy without ever having to work can lead to ignorance and hinder one’s ability to create authentic relationships. Steven gave a stellar performance in the show where he starred alongside Lisa Lau (Covert Affairs, Purple Squirrels, Her Shadow, Poker Night, Broken Earth). 

Over the course of his career it has become clear that Steven has a look casting directors are dying to cast for a variety of roles, but more importantly he has shown through his work that he is a great actor with incredible versatility. Collectively, his projects span virtually every genre imaginable. While his uniquely handsome appearance is what helped Steven first break into the industry after he signed with Geoffrey Chapman Model & Talent Agency, which has received 24 consecutive Reader’s Choice Awards including the Award for Best Model & Talent Agency for the past three years, the young actor’s dedication to his craft is what has made him truly successful. Nguyen is also signed to Talent INK and MoonStar Management.

In 2013, Steven Van Nguyen took on the role of the Demon in the horror noir film The White Samurai. Produced by Gorgeous Horror Entertainment and D.B. Films, The White Samurai is a film about a man who must break his oaths and reclaim his former identity as the White Samurai after his daughter is taken from her bed in the middle of the night. While the White Samurai will stop at nothing to rescue his beloved daughter, evil natured villains like the Demon, played by Steven Van Nguyen, challenge his tumultuous journey at every corner.

Steven admits, “My favorite role so far was playing the Demon in ‘The White Samurai’ because the role was solely based on my acting abilities and not on my looks. I was able to express freely without any restrictions from the director on how I thought my character should be portrayed from how he sounded to his little ticks.”

Not only did the role allow him to showcase his acting prowess without the limitations posed by the audience’s perception of his physical features, as he underwent 10 hours of prosthetic make-up before each shoot in an effort to make him look as evil as possible, but the role offered him the challenge he was looking for. He says, “I’m not a sadistic person so I had to really dig deep and find a memory in the past that made it possible to be an evil, sadistic character.”

In addition to his growing Canadian fan base, Steven Van Nguyen is in negotiations with Plaza 7 Talent and several other agencies for representation in the U.S., a move which guarantees audiences across the United States will be seeing a whole lot more of this talented young star.

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