Tag Archives: Actor

Dewshane Williams on exploring his love of science fiction in The Expanse

image10
Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams) and Sa’id (Dewshane Williams) prepare for a Martian battle in The Expanse

What audiences tend to love most about science fiction is the fact that the realm of possibilities is endless. Science fiction is known for carrying fans into unfamiliar worlds, unexplored dimensions, and uncharted territory. Both characters and storylines defy the norms of the world we know and live in; however, social dilemmas, emotions, and personality traits often stay the same. As an actor, science fiction remains one of the most unique, interesting genres to explore. For Dewshane Williams, this is because it is a genre that allows us to determine what human beings are capable of, be that within the constraints of modern life as we know it, or beyond.

Besides science fiction, Williams has familiarized himself with a number of different genres and storylines throughout his career. For instance, Williams mastered the art of drama through his stellar performance of Frank in the film Dog Pound, which portrays the life of three juvenile delinquents who are sentenced to a correctional facility where they encounter gang violence, death, and harassment from staff and other inmates. Contrastingly, Williams immersed himself into the wonderful world of comedy in 2012 for the film The Story of Luke about a young man with autism who is thrust into a world that doesn’t expect much from him. Beyond that, Williams has tried his hand at action films, thrillers, mysteries, horror stories, and much more. There are few limits to what he can achieve when he puts his mind and his skill set to work.

In 2015, Williams earned himself a role in Universal SYFY Networks’s hit series, The Expanse as Corporal Sa’id. The show follows the lives of a police detective a spaceship crew who discover a conspiracy, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter, and an earth-bound United Nations executive director, who slowly discover a conspiracy threatening the Earth’s rebellious colony on the asteroid belt. Between Williams’ fascination with space travel and Sa’id’s passion for serving others, Williams became enthralled with the project. In the series, Sa’id serves as part of an elite Marine Firing Squad; however, what Williams respected most about his character was embedded within Sa’id’s devotion to his planet. His willingness to save his planet inspired Williams and motivated him to adopt every trait and mannerism that accompanied that level of selflessness. Fortunately, one of Williams’ greatest attributes is his ability to transform himself into the character at hand. For some actors, identifying with a specific style of acting comes naturally; however, for professionals like Williams, it is impossible to categorize himself. He does not act according to a specific set of styles or rules. On the contrary, his versatility allows him to adapt himself to a variety of different emotions and character traits.

“The story of this show is so important because we live in an age of Space X and interplanetary travel. I think it is important to embrace the possibilities that our future holds. The concept of space travel and exploration is very real. We’re doing it now, which is incredible. This show, in a way, sheds light on what we may go through as an evolving species. It shows what we may be capable of doing; both positive and negative. Not to mention, most of the concepts in the show are scientifically possible. For all of the future space explorers out there, this might be the inspiration they need to take us where no one has gone before,” gushed Williams.

image8
Dewshane Williams recording voiceover work for The Expanse virtual reality Game Battle For Mars.

As an avid science fiction fan, Williams loved getting into character and immersing himself in the costumes and props on set. When he was being fitted for his costume, Williams noticed something familiar about the design and upon inquiring about their origin, he learned that they were made by the same company who produce Iron Man’s iconic suit. His enthusiasm about the project grew with each day on set and the more he explored the script, the more he realized the potential that the storyline held. In fact, the show’s VFX Supervisor, Bob Munroe, took notice of Williams’ devotion to the project and solicited his help to act as the lead for a virtual reality video game based on the show’s premise. Williams was extremely humbled about the possibility of expanding The Expanse’s presence in the world of science fiction and eagerly accepted the offer to work on the video game, The Battle on Mars. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that Munroe was equally as thrilled to have Williams on board.

“The moment I met Dewshane, I knew he was a rare talent. I had such a great experience working with him that I later enlisted him to star in our virtual reality game. Considering how much VFX was required while shooting our opening scene on mars, Dewshane had to exercise a lot of patience. Not to mention, he had to wear a 40-pound suit on a hot day. It would’ve been very easy to complain but he never did. Instead, his generosity and attitude made him a standout. When I had the opportunity to create a video game for the TV show, he was the first person I called. His enthusiasm is so contagious,” said Munroe.

Now finished its second season, The Expanse has established a strong following, as well as a large amount of recognition in the industry. It has garnered a number of award nominations, as well as a win for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Hugo Awards in 2017. If you are curious to see Williams in action, as well as to see what the show’s hype is all about, start watching The Expanse now and stay tuned for the premiere of Season 3 in 2018.

 

Top photo: Dewshane Williams in the Virtual Reality Game “The Expanse: Battle on Mars”.

Advertisements

Canada’s Victor Gilbert enchants audiences in new film ‘The Walking Man’

HEADSHOT(1)
Victor Gilbert

With his mom being a cinematographer and sister being an actress, Victor Gilbert’s impressions of movies are quite different than most children his age. He doesn’t just see something to entertain him, he understands the whole filmmaking process, and has for most of his life. At only ten years old, he can navigate a film set and understand the intricacies of what is required to make a film like many much older. That is perhaps why he already knows he wants to spend the rest of his life acting, and he is in demand not just in his home country of Canada, but internationally as well.

Gilbert’s career is already very formidable. Just this year he worked on a powerful commercial for Alberta’s public service union AUPE, and his film The Kiss has made its way to several prestigious film festivals. He has starred in five seasons of Netflix’s hit series Hell on Wheels, and even with this, he feels like he is just getting started.

“I would really like to be an actor full-time when I grow up and don’t have to be in school,” said Gilbert.

Despite not being a full-time actor, Gilbert is still quite the professional. Just last year he starred in the film The Walking Man. The film tells the story of a man who is compelled to leave his job and become a homeless wanderer. His friends and acquaintances share their opinions, and audiences are left to ponder his purpose. In the film, Gilbert plays Eric, one of the principal children who talked to the camera about “The Walking Man”. Eric was once a player for the soccer team that The Walking Man coached prior to quitting and abandoning his life. Having a child’s perspective about why the man began wandering was essential to the story’s development and how audiences felt about the entire concept.  Eric is a young boy who loves to play video games and doesn’t really take his attention away from his game when he talks. He is a ‘rough’ boy who is not very interested by what is going on with his old coach. He is asked to speak about what he saw, but doesn’t really want to since he’s so busy with his games. The disinterest in such a unique showcases a child’s innocense, and required a talented young actor to embody such a character. This is where Gilbert shined.

“My mom says many adults, like the main character of the movie, question themselves and their lives at some point, so the topic is very accurate and recurrent and impactful. It’s not always easy to deal with all the bills, and many people probably feel like they want to quit. It’s good because it teaches everybody that they are not alone and there are options and people out there to help. Maybe it’s important to take pauses in life to stop and relax and just walk, and it’s ok. Basically, don’t stress about things, and ask questions in life,” said Gilbert.

The Walking Man had its premiere screening at Orange Lofts Condos in March of last year, and now is making its way to film festivals. It was previously selected for the Winnipeg Real to Reel Festival, and the Central Alberta Film Festival. It is expected to have screenings at even more festivals soon. Such success may not have been possible without Gilbert’s portrayal of Eric. He had many lines throughout the film, and he had to stay very serious. He was only 8-years-old when the filming took place, and this is no easy task for someone of that age. However, Gilbert understood the importance of his character, and even learned the whole script by heart to comprehend the story’s importance. He then did his entire scene in just one take.

“The fact that he was able to pull through his character so well makes his presence on screen quite remarkable as you can tell he masters his lines even if he is so young. In this scene, he has to look straight at the camera and deliver his lines. He did not budge, he delivered the full script and added very brilliant luminosity to the film, as his bright eyes and his lovely and joyful character pierce the screen for those scenes,” said Derek Selinger, the Writer and Director of The Walking Man. “I worked with Victor many times before. I keep hiring Victor because of all the various faces he can pull, his lovely personality, the fact that he can remember lines so well and because he is so professional. When I called him up on filming day to come sit on the couch to deliver his lines, he came right away.”

Selinger, a well-known magician, knew Gilbert was the right person for the role in his film. Gilbert had to sit on the couch and play on a Nintendo GameBoy, and then talk to the camera. While saying his many lines, he always stayed in character and very serious. He describes The Walking Man and what his character saw, and does so in a confessional sort of way. Such a style requires extreme focus, as the camera sees every aspect of your face. It also requires a rawness, as the scene had to present in the style of a documentary interview. With the distraction of the video game console, this could have been difficult for many child actors, but Gilbert embodied it perfectly. Besides, for the young actor, this was a dream come true, as he still got to play video games, something he already enjoys. 

Derek is just really nice. He is not stressful, he helps his actors and makes the set very comfortable. He takes his time to explain the set, he is all prepared already when we show up on set, so things go super fast. Like, the fastest I have seen,” Gilbert described.

However, even though he got to play video games and work with people he liked, the best part of Gilbert’s experience shooting The Walking Man came from an unexpected source.

“Derek is a magician. A real magician! He does shows on big stages. So, he is a very interesting person. He does magic tricks sometimes on set,” said Gilbert.

Check out the tralier for The Walking Man here.

Michael Whalley talks playing make believe for a living

Headshot pic Sheridan Harbridge
Michael Whalley, photo by Sheridan Harbridge

When adults are asked what they miss most about childhood, their answers tend to have to do with the loss of their imagination. Children are known to imagine without limits and to dream without fear or understanding of failure. With that, children allow their minds to carry them into different worlds; worlds through which they create, discover, fantasize, and invent. Much like children, actors and actresses transform themselves into the characters that they portray and they do so without constraining their imaginations. They will stop at no lengths to mold their characters to fit into a plot line and they devote themselves to telling stories as convincingly and engagingly as possible. For actors like Michael Whalley, there has always been an undefinable intrigue to playing make-believe for a living and he has established a remarkable career out of exploring the industry that goes along with it.

Throughout his career, Whalley has acted in a number of award-winning films, such as Slow West and Jean. He has earned himself a reputation for his profound ability to bring his characters to life before his audience’s eyes and he accepts nothing less than the best from himself, regardless of the role or film. Just this past year, Whalley landed himself the role of Hugo in The Pretend One. The Pretend One depicts the emotional rollercoaster that unfolds when an adult woman’s imaginary childhood friend, Hugo, finds his existence threatened by a real, live love interest. Essentially, Hugo is the product of the main character, Charlie, who attempts to combat her loneliness after the death of her mother. As adults, Hugo and Charlie have to navigate their feelings for each other and their relationship when Charlie’s romantic interests steer in different directions. Hugo’s very existence is dependent upon Charlie’s attention and he is therefore determined to keep himself and their love alive.

“Hugo is pivotal to the storyline because he is the reason that the film was written in the first place. The unique thing about this story is that it deals with the existence of an adult imaginary friend, even though we typically associate imaginary friends with children. To think that an imaginary friend can have as many complex feelings as we do is something I hadn’t seen before. Witnessing Hugo grow aware of life and it’s worth was enlightening. His quest to become real is the burning centerpiece of the film,” told Whalley.

SONY DSC
Michael Whalley with Geraldine Hakewill, photo by Benedict Wall

Not only was The Pretend One an unusual storyline, it was also filmed in an extremely unique fashion. Whalley recalls it as being one of the rawest and fulfilling experiences of his career, having much to do with the fact that he and the other cast and crew members of the film disconnected themselves from reality to enhance their focus on their work and to produce the most organic, authentic performances that they could conjure up. They filmed on a cotton farm, far from cell phone and internet reception. In addition, cast and crew members all lived in mining huts on location while filming, requiring them to bathe in the farm’s lake, to eat the local cuisine, and to detach from modern day pleasantries.

When it came time to film their scenes, the actors and actresses were expected to deliver a wholesome, fully attuned performance. They rehearsed where possible, and improvised where necessary to sell each scene effectively. Whalley, who has a profound ability to gain the trust of his director, adopted what he calls a “two for you, one for me” rule while filming whereby he received permission to shoot two options: the first one as the way that the director wished, followed by one take where Whalley could feel out the scene and act as he saw fit. Fortunately for Whalley, the majority of scenes that he took creative authority over ended up making the film’s final cut.

Dinusha Ratnaweera, who produced The Pretend One, had nothing but positive things to say when asked about Whalley’s performance. He was astounded by the way the actor’s performance has been received by those who have seen the film so far and is eager to see what will be said once the film actually premieres. After seeing Whalley dedicate himself to the part of Hugo and doing everything in his power to meet the demands of the film, Ratnaweera earned a new appreciation for his talents.

“This was not the most traditional territory to film in, but based on test screenings that we’ve had so far, Michael’s performance has been very well received and praised. I believe he took a risk with this role, but he more than achieved a nuanced, sensitive, compelling portrayal of what is indeed a very complex role,” said Ratnaweera.

The Pretend One is set to premiere in 2018 and Shoreline Entertainment will be responsible for its worldwide sales and representation. In addition, cinemaaustralia.com.au recently gave the film an extremely rare, 5-star review. Whalley is very excited to see how the film will fare with the public and hopes that it will reflect the hard work and dedication that each member of the project put into it. As for the rest of his career, Whalley is taking things one part at a time. He is currently preparing for the world premiere of Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical. Upon closing Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical, he will embark upon his first pilot season and from there, he hopes to continue playing make believe for as long as he possibly can.

 

Top photo: Michael Whalley and Geraldine Hakewill in ‘The Pretend One’, photo by Rob Morton

Scott Michael Wagstaff on creating his own destiny

ScottWagstaff' headshot 2 by Simon Kelski photography
Scott Michael Wagstaff, photo by Simon Kelski

On paper, Scott Michael Wagstaff can be described as an actor, portraying the lives of television and film characters in a variety of different genres. One a deeper level; however, Wagstaff is far more than your average actor. When he acts, the British-native is adamant about bringing as much honesty and realism to the characters he plays. He is driven by the unique opportunity he has to inspire his audiences to feel emotions that they might not otherwise allow themselves to feel. More often than not, acting is a taxing job and Wagstaff accepts this reality. Despite this, what differentiates him from his competition is that the onerous aspects of his job are the ones that motivate him to conquer every obstacle he encounters and continue to excel above his fierce competitors.

As an actor, Wagstaff is aware that his job is not always as fascinating as it may seem. Over time, it has involved challenging auditions, inconsistent hours, and a second job to keep on top of the bills. With a passion as strong as Wagstaff’s, however, there are ways of counter-acting the somewhat defeating uncertainty of not knowing when your next job will be. When he isn’t filming, the talented actor balances between developing ideas and concepts for his own future projects with expanding his skill set as an actor to ensure that he never loses his edge. He believes in the power of refreshing his skills to bring a bigger, better performance to his upcoming projects; a strategy which has paid off time and time again for his work in well-known films and television show like 6 Days and Color Me Grey. In addition, for his work on the film Pendulum, Wagstaff received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the prestigious FilmQuest Film Festival.

In 2014, a former co-star of Wagstaff’s recommended his name for an upcoming film called Final Reflection. When he was approached about working on the film, Wagstaff found himself drawn to the well-written script and the authentic relationships depicted in the storyline. Final Reflection portrays the emotional journey of a Jewish Policeman who forms a rapport with a young Nazi officer in 1942 when the Nazis deported approximately 300,000 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. It is a story of survival, hardship and hope for which Wagstaff played the lead role of Isaak. Without Wagstaff’s stellar performance, it is unlikely that the film would have been selected for prestigious film festivals like the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Student Arts Festival, TiltShift Film Festival, and several others after its premiere at the BFI Southbank in London.

Wagstaff is used to dedicating every fibre of his being to his roles; however, he felt an overwhelming responsibility to accurately portray the facts of this story and the types of emotions that the men and women would have been feeling at the time that these events took place. He heavily researched the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, the struggles that Jewish police officers faced during this era and how they would’ve interacted with Nazi officers. He was intent on bringing every piece of history and raw emotion to Isaak’s character as he possibly could, something he strives to do for all of his characters. In return, he thrives on the way in which his characters reveal aspects of his own personality and his own life circumstances that he isn’t always aware of.

Playing the part of Isaak was unlike anything Wagstaff had ever done and his audience reaped the benefits. Beyond the props and the realistic sets, he enjoyed the deeper realities that Isaak’s character unveiled.

“It is certainly important to educate people of the horrific situations that occurred in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. To this day, many people don’t actually know what really went on. At the core of it for me, however, are the broader realities rooted in the lives of everyone who lived through the tragedy that was World War II. The underlying truth in the film is that we, as human beings, always have a choice – no matter how dreary the situation you are in. Even in the face of death, you can turn around and take a stand to bring about a change in the world. One small act can make a profound difference in the life of someone else. Isaak makes that small step and I find it so important to teach the world that one small bout of courage can carry a very long way,” said Wagstaff.

The film’s writer and director, Charles Copsey, had the distinct pleasure of witnessing Wagstaff become Isaak on-screen and inspire his audiences to find Isaak’s courage within themselves. He values the opportunity to work with profoundly talented actors like Wagstaff and the success that they bring to his scripts.

“Working with Scott was a great experience. His commitment to the film went above and beyond what was expected of him. He put time and effort into his role to ensure that he and his fellow actors were remaining true to the facts of these very sensitive, historical themes and topics. His passion and aptitude are key to the positive influence that he had throughout production. Scott was always challenging our progress and development and he is a delight to have on set,” told Copsey.

Ultimately, there are parallels that can be drawn between Wagstaff’s passion to inspire his audiences through his performances and Isaak’s inspiring discovery of his inner courage. Regardless of the hardships that an individual may be going through, Wagstaff understands the importance of persevering in the face of adversity. He hopes to motivate other aspiring actors to push forward when faced with a challenge and to rely on themselves to create their own success. If his career has taught him anything, it is that at the end of the day, he is more than just an actor. He is an artist and by allowing his creativity to carry him to great lengths, he has found satisfaction in his career.

“Make your own work. Don’t rely on Casting Directors and Agents to be your gatekeepers. Those relationships definitely help but you will find power in seeking out stories that you are passionate about and by surrounding yourself with like-minded, creative people who will help you move forward to be considered for future projects. Be fearless,” he concluded.

Q&A with ‘Never Knock’ star Darren Eisnor

Darren Eisnor is quickly lighting up the big and small screens in his home country of Canada and abroad. Growing up in Burlington, Ontario, the actor may not always have known he was meant to perform, but there is no doubt now. He has starred in hits like Netflix’s Anne with an E, and films such as Holiday Joy, and Early Release. Having quickly risen to the top of his field in Canada, Eisnor is now recognized internationally for his talents.

Audiences have a lot to look forward to when it comes to this talented actor. Not only is he starring in the Blackpills series Skal, he also has a pivotal role in the anticipated horror film Never Knock, which premieres next month as part of Syfy’s Halloween line up. To learn more about his life, role in the film, and what it was like to film in a graveyard, check out our extensive interview below.

EWG: What initially sparked your interest in acting?

DE: A few beers and some shawarma. Seriously. I never really thought about it at a conscious level at all, in terms of a career, but then one night with some friends changed my life. It wasn’t even anything anyone said in particular from what I recall, it was just some strange, divine epiphany that was cast down upon me from some unknown realm of energy. I had this realization that most of the people who I see on TV or in movies are just human beings, not these idols that we’ve placed on some pedestal that makes them seem like they’re there due to some benevolent gift. Of course, some nepotism happens, but many of them just focused their energy on what they wanted, and pursued it with vigor and relentlessness. I realized that if I do that, at the very least I’ll learn where my limits are and what I’m capable of doing.

Looking back in my life, there were definitely some signs of thespian tendencies. Even at the earliest grades of school, whenever teachers would say “you can write a paper, give a presentation, or do a skit” my heart jumped with excitement, and I’d immediately start planning out a performance. I’d fall in love with whatever I created, and tell my mom all about whatever it was with the utmost passion. I never did anything formal outside of those class assignments except a play in the eighth grade. They were having auditions at lunch, and we weren’t given material, so we were supposed to act out any scene from anything of our choice. At the first recess, I got a couple of my buddies together and made up some kind of family scene that ended with a big song; I guess I came up with the script in an early class, but whatever it was worked because I won the role of Sleeping Beauty’s prince!

Other than that, I’ve always been more into sports for most of my life. After the shawarma epiphany, I started a YouTube channel for sketch comedy that did well. And now here I am.

EWG: What was it like working on Never Knock?

DE: Working on Never Knock was my first horror movie, as well as a role where I’m a kid in the 1980’s, so my preparation for this role had some cool details to get into. I play a guy named Jason who – spoiler alert – eventually gets completely annihilated by the evil “Never Knock” demon that lives in a haunted door. My character has a little brother, Ben, and a girlfriend in this story, and while he’s not really nice to his brother, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for siblings. After my role in Anne with an E, I’d have to say this character is the next most pure of heart. His intentions are good, as we see when things get scary.

In my character’s scenes, it’s Halloween in 1986, and Jason’s costume was Fonzy from Happy Days. So technically, I was a guy from 2017 pretending to be a guy from the 80’s, pretending to be a guy from the 70’s, pretending to be a guy from the 50’s! I watched some 80’s movies to get me in the zone for this role, as I usually do. I think it helps to notice the little differences in mannerisms or dialect; the 80’s were almost 40 years ago now, so people certainly have altered their social communication in that time.

Another cool part about this movie was interacting a lot with a really young actor. I had done a couple scenes with a young girl in another show, but in Never Knock I’m interacting with the little brother character a ton. I never had a younger brother, but it was fun pretending with this eleven-year old little dude, since younger kids have way less life experience and respond differently on set.

EWG: What was your character like?

The story of Never Knock begins on Halloween in 1986, and is centered around a demonic door that haunts anyone who knocks on it, and everyone who happens to be with them – and by haunts, I mean manifests the victim’s worst fear and brutally murders them with that fear. Yikes. No one else can see the demon either, but it kills you all the same. Some of the kids get killed by a ton of syringes draining their blood, or thousands of cockroaches, or…in Jason’s case, broken bones. Ouch.

Jason was a very real character to me. He jokes around with his little brother, taunts him, but then gets very embarrassed when the brother and Jason’s girlfriend team up to pull a trick on him. He shows a stubborn side and prideful side, but when the story gets to the haunted demon door, he immediately leaps to his brother’s aid. When Ben knocks on the door, his hand starts bleeding, and he’s sucked into the grasp of the house. Jason leaps in after him, and ends up getting brutally killed. All of his limbs break, and he’s smashed around from wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor! I lost my voice for a day or two after recording my screams for that scene.

EWG: What was it like working with such an all-star cast?

DE: Sheldon Wilson has been making these movies for Halloween just about every year for the past decade or so, so it was nice to have a guy who knows how to run an efficient set around. I’m not a huge horror nut, so he must have a few screws loose to write all this crazy stuff all the time! He was a pleasure to work under. As for the cast, there were some big SyFy names working on this movie, like Jodelle Ferland from Dark Matter and Dominique Provost-Chalkley from Wynonna Earp and The Avengers. They were really nice to be around, and were total pros.

My scenes were mostly with the actor who played Ben (Jack Fulton), who was a cool kid to work with. It turns out he came pretty close to landing the big role in Room, and he performed in it in a smaller role, as well as a role on Shadowhunters. Also, he randomly knew just about everything to do with Mixed Martial Arts fighting!

EWG: The film is part of Syfy’s Halloween lineup. What was it like working on a scary movie?

DE: It was definitely the most fun I’ve had in a graveyard in my life so far! For a while we’re running around a graveyard on a shortcut to Jason’s girlfriend’s house, and I had to keep refraining from resting against or sitting on tombstones in between takes…I don’t want any real hauntings coming after me, ya know? But really, it was nice to try out a new genre, as this was my first ever horror movie. It’s also the first professional production I’ve died in so far, although I did die in three small film productions I did when I was a kid. For a moment there, I was thinking I might be the next Sean Bean with all the on-screen deaths!

I’m not actually a big horror fan, but I can certainly respect any high-quality film that comes out of any genre. The Shining is a fantastic film, for example. My sister is the opposite of me in many ways, however, and one of them is her obsession with horror films. So hopefully, Never Knock will be something that she can enjoy! After all, I will have a brutal demise, and she’ll definitely enjoy seeing my character suffer like that.

Never Knock really made me learn a new level of respect toward hair and makeup people, especially when it comes to many horror or sci fi movie productions. The gory makeup for my face alone took quite a while, but the real labor was spent on my back. At the end of my death scene, the demon carves “NEVER NEVER KNOCK” into my back, and the makeup ladies spent at least an hour doing some crazy kind of stencil work on my skin that I can’t even really properly understand. All I know is that it took a long time, and looked incredibly authentic. It’s going to look great on camera, I promise you.

Be sure to check out Never Knock next month on Syfy.

Producer Antonio Vigna connects with his culture in new film ‘Dia de Muertos’

Antonio Vigna had dreams of being an actor ever since he was a child. When he first watched a film, he pictured himself in front of the camera, stepping into another’s shoes and showing the world his passion. However, what Vigna did not anticipate was his love for being behind the camera, helping put together every aspect of a film. Now, as both an actor and producer, Vigna is known internationally for what he does.

As an actor, Vigna has shown the world his talent in films such as Perfection and Klaazor. Working behind the scenes, his work producing the films Camilla and Consumemate contributed to the films great success at many international film festivals. The highlight of Vigna’s career, however, comes from producing the film Dia de Muertos (English translation to Day of the Dead), which allowed him to connect with his Mexican heritage.

“Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of my favorite traditions from my country, so the moment I was told to produce a script that had the tradition as part of it, I wanted to be involved in the film, no matter what,” said Vigna.

The film follows a young Mexican woman struggles to keep on living after the death of her loved one, but during the Mexican holiday, The Day of the Dead, she experiences a contact with him that changes her life. It was written by Laura Gudiño, who also starred in the film. Gudiño knew of Vigna’s work, and knew she needed a producer of his caliber to take her film to a success.

“Antonio was my producer and he helped me so much and made the whole process easy. In this industry, you always want people who are easy going, that you know you can work with them for days, and he’s definitely a person you’d like to have in any team. Antonio has great work ethic. He is very responsible and creative. In addition to that, he is an easy going, friendly person so in any project I have worked with him, I know everything will be alright,” said Gudiño. “I think in this industry, the more you know about it and the more you explore, the more you understand everybody’s job and the more valuable you are. Antonio has been a reporter, a journalist, an actor, a producer, an AD, a writer, etc. I believe, thanks to all of that journey, he has become very good at anything he does. Knowledge opens doors, and he has definitely opened many.”

Because Vigna knew he would be working on the film months before pre-production, he had time to put together the ideal team. He believes it is the best crew he has ever made. He also decided on the process for the film. Initially, the supporting actor was not going to have to audition, but Vigna knew to hire a casting director and have a formal casting for the film in order to find the best person. After the auditions, they cast someone else, rather than the original actor, knowing that with such a small cast, it was necessary to have the perfect person. Without Vigna, this would not have happened.

Initially, the casting director wanted Vigna to audition for the role, but he refused. He wanted to make sure the film was the best it could be, and for him to do that, he would have had to step away from producing to focus on creating the character.

“I declined the offer to act in the film, as I had already a few months working on it as a Producer. I don’t regret it at all, since this is one of the films that I’m most proud of,” said Vigna.

The decision proved to be the right one, as the film made its way to some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. After premiering at the Film Festival of Cannes 2017 Short Film Corner, it made its way to the Los Angeles San Rafael Film Festival, Tulipanes Film Festival, and the Cinetekton Film Festival. However, the awards and accolades are not as important to the producer. For Vigna, the passion he felt for the story helped his drive, ensuring that every decision he made, every road block he overcame, was perfect. The Latino passion, he says, was felt on set all the time, even though most of the people there were not Hispanic at all. 

“I think that I liked the fact that we were portraying a Mexican tradition at its best on screen. Most of the films out there from our country talk about drugs or corruption, but we took just one of the beauties in our culture, to share it with everyone in the world,” Vigna concluded. “Most of the people don’t know the best parts of our Latino culture, so it’s important to show the other side of the coin. Also, there are Latinos all over the world, who can feel identify with the film, and reconnect with Dia de Muertos. It’s hard when you weren’t born in our country to feel it just like us, especially having Halloween, shadowing it, so strongly in United States, even among the Hispanic culture. So, we need to keep our traditions with their meanings strong enough for everyone appreciate it as we do.”

Greek actor Konstadinos Lahanas shows comedic skills in hit show ‘Lola’

Headshot 1
Konstadinos Bahamas

From the time Konstadinos Lahanas was a young boy, he always has been artistic. At the time, there was no preferred medium. He would paint a picture, or perform on a stage, and expressing himself in such a way was consistently a thrill. As he grew, his love of acting began to take over. He was able to express his emotions and change who he was for a brief moment, entertaining his audiences. He continues to do this today.

Now one of Greece’s most reputable actors, Lahanas shares his culture and talent with the world. His esteemed resume exemplifies the versatility he possesses, and his work on various film, television, and commercial projects have gone on to receive critical acclaim. These include popular television shows The Disappearance (I Exafanisi), Family Stories (Oikogeneiakes Istories), and I Have a Secret (Eho Ena Mystiko), the film The Pilgrim (O Proskinitis), and the popular Yoplait commercial, filmed in Croatia, which was shown all over Europe.

“I suppose the need to express my inner feelings was what initially sparked my interest in acting, and it has been my passion ever since,” said Lahanas.

When working on the popular Greek television series Lola, Lahanas once again captivated his audiences with his outstanding performance. Lola has over 200 episodes, and is distributed in Greek Television by Antenna TV. The series was directed by Kostas Kostopoulos and stars Christos Vasilolpoulos (Gregory) and Ada Livitsanou (Lola). The story is about a man (Leonidas) turning into a woman (Lola) through a magical spell activated by a disappointed and furious ex-girlfriend. Since that day, Leonidas struggles to continue his life and keep his job, by acting that his new female nature is his sister, Lola.

“I wanted to work on the hit television series of Lola, as it was based on a popular Brazilian hit television series that was brought to Greece. The high ratings the series had already acquired were intriguing to me, as was the story. I really wanted to participate and be a part of the cast in such a production,” said Lahanas.

Lahanas played a young friend of Gregory’s named George, a commercial manager. Alongside Gregory, George attempts to influence feelings of one Gregory’s ex-girlfriends. The requirements of this role were demanding, requiring Lahanas to convincingly flirt in a humorous way, while still telling the story.

“My character has to sell Gregory’s ex-girlfriend a product. Under Gregory’s guidance, my character was required to approach and flirt with his ex-girlfriend for the purpose of humiliating her in order for him to take revenge for her hurting him in the past,” Lahanas described. “I got into the mindset of the character by observing how men and women interact and how important it is to psychologically evaluate the behaviour of both sexes.”

When Lahanas was first approached about taking on the role in Lola, he immediately accepted. The producers had seen his performance in The Disappearance, and although the role was a dramatic one, they knew the actor was not only capable, but ideal, for the comedic role in Lola. They required an attractive and fit actor, and Lahanas was eager to make audiences laugh.

“What I liked the most about working on this project were the requirements to demonstrate specific social skills such as flirting and storytelling. as well as the importance of charm, in order to be convincing in this specific role. This was a fun attempt in trying out my comedic side and it was interesting, as it crossed a fine line between humiliation and admiration,” Lahanas described.

Many of Lahanas’ scenes in Lola, except for the scenes shot around the city, were filmed in one of Greece’s largest studios, Kappa Studios. Lahanas thoroughly enjoyed his time working on the show, and impressed all he worked with. The casting director on the show was so impressed with the actor that he immediately began recommending Lahanas for other projects, and is always eager to work alongside him once more. Lahana’s co-star, Christos Vasilopoulos, also said working with him was a great experience.

“I have the luck of being friends with Konstadinos ever since we worked together on Lola. Working with Konstadinos is always a very pleasant experience because he is a very positive and cooperative person. He always makes the person he is acting beside feel safe and cheerful,” said Vasilopoulos.

Lahanas’ performance in Lola was essential to the story of the episode, and the character development of the main character. Lahanas’ understood the responsibility of such a role, and gave an exemplary performance, as he is known to always do. However, at the end of the day, Lahanas is a storyteller, and like most storytellers, the message behind the words is always of vital importance.

“The story of the show is important, as it teaches the audience a lesson about behaviour between males and females. It really shows the kind of behaviour between a male and a female that can surface after a hurtful break up between a couple, as well as the consequences of seeking revenge. Audiences can really relate to the story, and see themselves in the characters, and as an actor, that is all you can ask for,” Lahanas concluded.