Tag Archives: British Talent

Executive Producer Ed Egan talks reviving his childhood favorite “Catchphrase”

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Ed Egan

Ed Egan has been a television addict all his life. Ever since he can remember, he has loved watching television, and knew from an early age that he would work in the industry. Now, he is an executive producer working on some of the world’s biggest game shows. He is not only an industry leader in Britain, but internationally as well.

Ever since he began working in the industry, Egan has had ideas for new formats and ways to tweak current ones. Starting from the bottom, he worked his way up to executive producer and showrunner, now being able to create the shows that he has always wanted. His work on ABC’s hit 500 Questions was then recreated in Germany and the United Kingdom after its success in the United States, and he developed the concept for ITV’s 1000 Heartbeats, which went on a very successful run for the network. He started Tipping Point at its inception, which now has hundreds of episodes, and his newest series, Genius Junior starring Neil Patrick Harris, premieres this Spring on NBC.

Despite this success, however, the British native says the highlight of his career came when he revived the classic game show Catchphrase. The original was a childhood favorite and was one of the shows that gave birth to his love of television. Being able to bring it back to air, and film it in his hometown where the show first began, was a special moment for this seasoned executive producer.

“I had been a massive fan of this show when it was on TV when I was young, and so I jumped at the chance to bring it back to our screens so that people could watch it again, or discover it for the first time. The show is perfect. It is the ultimate play-along show, which I love, as people can’t help but try to shout answers out when they are watching. It is a game show that anyone can play and is suitable for the whole family which is quite rare these days. It appeals to people from 8 to 80,” he said.

In the original series, two contestants, one male and one female, would have to identify the familiar phrase represented by a piece of animation accompanied by background music. The show’s mascot, a golden robot called “Mr. Chips”, appears in many of the animations. In the revived version of the show, the same format remains, but there are three contestants and there is no particular attention paid to gender.

Egan’s thorough understanding of the original format was essential to bringing the show back and making it a success. He knew just what was important for the new version to be a hit again. He was able to bring on board some of the best game show producers and production staff in the country, and together they knew the right type of contestants to cast and the right level to set the gameplay at. Not only did he update the format, but he got a younger generation interested in the show, applying to be contestants and also watching each week. The casting producer of the show, Helen Finnimore, was extremely impressed with his talents when they worked together.

“I have known Ed Egan for many years as both a television production professional and a friend. Without doubt, he is one of the most respected executive television producers in the industry. Prior to being head-hunted to relocate and work in the United States, Ed had worked on many internationally recognised programmes here in the United Kingdom and has maintained his position at the forefront of the entertainment business through these incredible accomplishments,” said Finnimore. “I had the pleasure of working closely with Ed on the Catchphrase revival series here in the UK in 2013 and again in 2014. Ed is a rare talent, one of the few executive producers I have met who truly understands the British and American audiences. He’s fantastic to work alongside, maintains a level of professionalism throughout and moreover, has an unparalleled ability to develop and adapt new and exciting formats. This unique flair has become his trademark in the industry both sides of the pond.”

When STV was looking to revive the hit show, they approached Egan knowing of his reputation as a tremendous showrunner. At their first meeting, they offered him the job. Egan wanted to keep as many parts of the original format as possible, but he knew the necessity of updating the show to bring in a newer and more modern audience. The show is very graphics heavy, so he knew that one of his main roles was developing the new look for the animations, as the technology had moved on so much since the original series. Egan wanted to keep up with what people were used to seeing in the modern era of apps. To do all this, he put together a team that not only worked together well but formed a strong bond.

“I loved the fact that the team who I put together all became great friends, and it was a real pleasure to work on. It is a fun format and we had great fun making it. I became good friends with our host Stephen Mulhern, who is the nicest and most professional host a producer could hope to work with,” Egan said.

The relationship Egan forged with his host meant that they were able to be very open and honest with each other, which Egan says is essential to get the best performance from on-screen talent. It also helped calm his nerves about reviving a cherished show for so many people, but once the show aired, his worries immediately evaporated.

“I was nervous about bringing this show back as it had been such as huge show back in the 80s and 90s and I wanted people to like our new, updated and modernised version. I was so pleased that it did so well on its return and I’m very proud that it’s still doing well today,” he said.

The revival began airing in 2013 and Egan produced its first three seasons. The show is now on its sixth season, and since Egan brought it back, it has been the top-rated Saturday night show on ITV. His production and development work with Catchphrase and ITV, as well as such well-known production companies as BBC, Endemol, RDF Television, STV Productions and Warner Horizon in the United States, confirms his reputation as one of the industries go-to executive producers and a highly sought-after talent. He’s achieved a level of prominence rivalled by few in the industry and continues to build upon his achievements.  

Be sure to check out the revival of Catchphrase to see how Egan modernized a classic.

 

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Q&A with leading British actor Pezh Maan

Throughout his career, Britain’s Pezh Maan has shown audiences he is a force to be reckoned with as an actor. His work as a villain in the James Bond blockbuster Spectre was an international success, and the actor quickly became recognized around the world. Since then, he has starred in television shows like BBC’s Eastenders, the award-winning French series The Bureau, and the immensely popular FX series Tyrant.

We had a chance to sit down with this dynamic actor and find out about the beginnings of his career and get some advice for those looking to follow in his footsteps. He also gives a brief preview to his upcoming American television show Deep State, which premieres on FOX in over 50 countries later this year.

Check out this interview!

Pezh Maan Promotional 2 (2017)

EWG: Where are you from?

PM: I was born in Plymouth, United Kingdom, a naval town on the south-west Coast bridging the counties of Devon and Cornwall. I spent most of my childhood and youth there before moving away at 18. Since then, I’ve lived in Cambridge in the UK, spent most of the past 20 years making London my home, except for several lengthy stints traveling the globe, once circumnavigating from the UK eastwards and arriving back via Brazil a year later, and several months in different cities in India and the Far East. My star sign is Leo born in the year of the Chinese Wood Tiger.

EWG: In your own words, how would you describe what you do as an actor?

PM: I think what I do is to interpret the words of the writer and turn them into all the facets of the living breathing human being that I am being asked to play. I get into the skin of the character whilst still being myself with all my own emotional responses. When the character is somewhat at odds with my own experiences then imagination can come to one’s aid in creating a way to relate to the character. Imagination is the lifeblood of an actor’s work and interpreting the text is an imaginative endeavor and an extremely rewarding one for me.

EWG: What initially sparked your interest in acting?

PM: Like a lot of kids, I was involved in school productions and I remember just enjoying being on the stage and being in a position to influence the audience with humor or different emotions. I developed a love for performing over the years that was nurtured as I moved through high school and began reading more about plays and watching films and I had some great teachers who inspired in us a love of drama and life, which was invaluable for us. Acting was part and parcel of understanding life it seemed to me and felt like a natural place for me to express myself.

EWG: Why did you want to be a professional actor?

PM: For several years I was involved in amateur productions in London on stage as well as on camera in low-budget short films. After a while it became clear that I needed to be doing it full-time and so it became a natural progression to take the steps of a professional actor. I began the actor’s journey of auditions, castings, knock backs and small successes. None of the joys would have been possible for me if I hadn’t taken the plunge and signed up to be full committed to the activity that was my passion since childhood. And I sort of fell into small successes that led to further work and I’ve been lucky enough to see my career grow.

EWG: What do you like about being an actor?

PM: It’s now such an integral part of my life I can’t see myself doing anything else. I like the work, and the people who are drawn to this particular way of telling stories. One thing we all have in common is the need to tell stories and actors are charged with bringing stories to audiences in a collaborative endeavor that can move people. It’s also a lot of fun. I feel in acting we are given free rein to experience the whole gamut of emotions that in everyday life we don’t get to experience that often (and rightly so!). It’s a very invigorating activity and I find it hugely inspiring.

EWG: What are the challenges to being an actor and how do you overcome them?

PM: The work you need to do as an actor on your mind body and probably soul to be best equipped to be able to produce performances that move people, that are specific and bring characters to life in that believable way that keeps audiences attentions. That entails a lot of preparation and study, especially learning lines and cues of when to make actions necessary for the story and so forth. Then there are the challenges of how to make a life and a living from a profession that has been described as the most competitive one out there. Being rejected is something that you accept as an actor and an experience you become accustomed to and probably the major part of any working actor’s success is having the resilience to keep working despite fallow periods of little or no success. It’s a real test of one’s self-belief as actors. Actors need to be in tune with their sensitivity as humans to be good actors and so it can be quite a challenge to maintain that equanimity and take the challenges in your stride.

EWG: What would you consider the highlight of your career?

PM: That is an interesting question because initially the early successes made a huge impact and it felt as if I was moving from highlight to highlight. Now that my career has a steady momentum I feel as if the highlight of my career is having a career. I’m very grateful to have had the honor of working with some great actors and directors on film and television and being cast in the Bond film Spectre will always be an experience I will remember. I’d like to think that the highlight has yet to happen and wait to see what the future will bring. That attitude keeps me fresh and not complacent which I think is detrimental for any artist.

EWG: How would you describe your style of acting?

PM: I think that is something that critics are better placed to comment on this. Words such as naturalistic and minimalistic are ideas that resonate with me when thinking of performances on camera. I’m excited by seeing performances with those qualities and I like to think that I do my best to try and achieve that on camera. Acting for the camera is an art in itself as the camera picks up on everything you are doing, and so minimalism is amplified and goes a long way. Apart from that I would say that having no style works best for the camera, trying to be as truthful to the moment as possible without embellishing unnecessarily and being economical with gestures and actions can really enhance the portrayal you achieve on screen.

EWG: What advice would you give to those looking to pursue a career in acting?

PM: That’s an interesting question. I’ve read other actor’s responses in the past to that question which fall into the “Do/Don’t do it and Keep going you’ll get there in the end” categories. I would say that either you know you want to do it or you don’t and that you should listen to your gut and heart because then you can never go wrong and in the end if you followed your heart you will be a success whatever happens. And to avoid becoming negative or cynical because life is bigger than all of us and to keep a perspective on it is to have cracked the secret to a successful life. One I’m still trying to achieve myself.

EWG: What are your plans for the future?

I have a really interesting role in a brilliant new thriller series Deep State in Spring 2018, which was great fun to shoot and I can’t wait to see the final cut. I also have another film project that I can’t talk too much about now and a television project to shoot this year. 2018 promises to be an exciting one and we have only just begun.

Q&A with Actor Dominic Kay of ‘Allies’

There is little doubt as to why Dominic Kay has become a force to be reckoned with in the United Kingdom’s film and television industry. This revered actor has proven what he is capable of in a series of demanding and versatile roles, captivating audiences around the world. Whether it is with his work in the horror White Settlers or in a comedic role in ITV’s iconic soap Coronation Street, Kay is always on the top of his game.

This year, audiences can look forward to Kay once again gracing the big screen in the upcoming 20th Century Fox feature Walk Like a Panther. The film that tells the comedic story of a group of 1980s wrestlers are forced to don the lycra once last time when their beloved local pub is threatened with closure. They put on one last show for their local town, which becomes legend.

One of the highlights of Kay’s career came when making the 2014 historical drama Allies. The film, directed by Dominic Burns and stars Downten Abbey’s Julian Ovenden. The film is close to Kay’s heart, and we had a chance to sit down and talk to him about his role in the endearing World War II movie, and once reading, be sure to check out Kay’s dynamic work in Allies. 

EWG: What made you want to work on the film?

DK: Well what had me interested in this particular project was pretty much everything about it. Firstly, the genre, being a period war movie set during World War II. Ever since I first watched Band of Brothers I have always wanted to be in a period war project. I just love everything about them to be honest. The uniforms, weaponry, language and dialogue are all factors in my interest in a project like this. Also having family members who fought in the war and hearing harrowing stories from my grandfather was a key factor. I had often imagined what it was like to be fighting in a war and I guess this was an opportunity to experience a little bit of that. It was kind of a way of experiencing what it would have been like back then. I love watching movies like these and period dramas. I love everything about them really. It’s not every day you get to go back into the past and wear those uniforms, fire those old classic weapons and act in a way fitting with that period. I guess I’m a classic soul.

The script was a big positive for me as well. It was great and had me hooked from start to finish. It gave a very accurate representation of the war as we know it.

EWG: What is the film about?

DK: The film is set around the ‘D Day’ landings in Normandy France in World War II.
The Germans were occupying France and obliterated pretty much all of the resistance. The next step for them was crossing the English Channel and invading the United Kingdom. The Brits had set up a crack team enlisting the help of the French resistance and help from an American captain. Their mission was to be dropped behind enemy lines in France and to connect with the French resistance, causing as many problems for the Germans as possible in an attempt to shorten and even end the war. The story of the film is particularly important as it is based on true events that hold significant importance in European history. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives during this grueling war and many of them were children. To give an accurate and believable performance and do justice to a topic with this magnitude is of paramount importance. Many people growing up today don’t realize what sacrifices their predecessors made for them and I think giving them a glimpse of what it was like can be a good thing.

EWG: What character do you play? How does your character fit into the story?

DK: My character is ‘Coresman’. He is a soldier and field medic. His duties are to firstly fight but also patch up injured soldiers as best as he can and save as many lives as possible. He is placed in amongst this group of elite soldiers and assists them in their mission in trying to push the Germans back, retrieving as much land as possible and ultimately defeat them. He has a lot riding on him as the team is constantly under fire and involved in some pretty ferocious battles. His abilities are constantly called upon and heartache ensues when he realizes he can’t save everyone.

EWG: What was a day on set like?

DK: For me personally it was a complete joy to be on set daily. It was my first experience of anything like this. Even when the weather turned sour it didn’t really dampen anyone’s spirits due to the fact it was so much fun. That being said, it comes with a lot more pressure than usual as to reset and re-shoot scenes took time and a lot of money. So, everyone knew they had to be on point all of the time.

EWG: What did you like about working on this film?

DK: With a production like this there is obviously a lot of fighting and battle scenes with a lot of cast and extras. I mean, you know you have to give an accurate account of what happened, but sometimes you just can’t help your inner child coming out. Running around with firearms and weapons, riding motorcycles, riding around in tanks, fighter planes flying overhead and not to mention huge explosions and pyrotechnics going off all over the place. It was just brilliant.

EWG: What was the highlight about working on the film?

DK: There were quite a few highlights for me regarding working on this film to be honest with you. It was just such an absolute adrenaline rush from start to finish. Long days, bad weather, delays, etc. didn’t distract from the fact that I was having a ball every day I was on set.

The cast was just awesome. There were no bad apples complaining or whining, just great people pulling their socks up and mucking in. Everyone really worked for each other which made it that much more special to be involved in. The main highlight for me though has to be being involved in such a good factual representation of a piece of history that is not just close to my heart but to hundreds of millions of people. Having watched this with my grandfather and seeing the emotion on his face was a real sobering moment for me. Although it did show me that the film had got across what it wanted and was a huge success.

Creative Director Mitch Crook talks Nike and establishing a successful business

When Mitch Crook recalls what initially sparked his interest in design, he credits an inspirational art teacher from his youth. Mr. Dominic Culkin, from Crook’s high school in Hertfordshire, England, would inform his student about exhibitions to see what books to read, and what magazines to buy. This teacher’s ability to connect his class to art and design opened up a world and sparked a passion for a young Crook that shaped his entire future, and he still possesses today. Little did Mr. Culkin know the impact he would have on not only his pupil, but the United Kingdom as a whole. Crook is now the Founder and Creative Director at his company Hotel Creative, a design agency behind some of the country’s most renowned retail advertising campaigns.

Despite not having heard of Mitch Crook before, you have most likely seen his work. His company, Hotel Creative, is a multi-disciplined creative consultancy based in London. His team specializes in concepts, visual design and art direction for brand communications, experiences and pinnacle retail. They pride themselves on great ideas, quality production and a high standard of delivery, combining attention to detail with a no-limits attitude. With Crook at the helm, he constantly impresses both colleagues and clients, and after seven years in business, Hotel Creative has become a leader in the industry.

“I have never come across a more brilliant, talented and charismatic Creative Director than Mitch. I am constantly astounded by the innovative experiential campaigns he creates on behalf of his clients,” said Marcus Price, Associate Creative Director R/GA, New York.

Collaborating with Nike, Hotel Creative was responsible for many of their most successful product launches, directly contributing to increased awareness and commercial sales. Through his work, Crook has been partly responsible for Nike being the dominant sportswear brand in retail across the United Kingdom and Western Europe.

“Nike is the best brand in the world. Their vision for the future is streets ahead of their competition. I’m a massive Nike fan, love their product, love their demand for excellence and how innovative they are across all fields of play. The way they took on soccer with a clear mission to be the biggest brand was outrageous, but totally Nike and look how they’ve achieved that over the last 15 years. So much of what I see in Nike reflects why I set up Hotel Creative, we share similar creative goals to do things that haven’t been done before,” said Crook.

Specializing in apex visual experiences for luxury brands, Crook is a Nike brand expert and a global design influencer. Earlier in his career, before Hotel Creative, Crook was given great insight into working with Nike whilst working his way up in the creative world. At the time, online shopping was beginning to take off, with e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay beginning to emerge as the giants that they are today. Despite this, Crook had a vision for retail that went against this trend; he believed that physical retail could still be more successful than ever if more of an artistic and creative approach was taken, making it bigger and better than ever. It was this idea that sparked the creation of Hotel Creative, and he pitched his concept to Nike UK, and they agreed to be his founding client. The promise of work gave Crook the courage and confidence to launch his own agency, and Nike has been his principal client ever since.

“Mitch has been responsible for, and involved with some of the most iconic Nike campaigns in the world. He always looks to push the boundaries of retail design,” said Adrian Fenech, Senior Brand Director, Nike Inc.

Crook’s loyalty and passion for Nike is evident in Hotel Creative’s work with the sporting brand. His direct experience with the company and his understanding of the field gives Hotel Creative an intimate knowledge of what works. Crook says his team pushes their own boundaries every single day to consistently produce high-achieving results for Nike. Nike respects this, and gives Crook a lot of creative freedom to explore new and unique ideas, something that has become a bit of a trademark for Hotel Creative, as no other creative consultants have achieved for Nike what they have. Crook treats every project through a fresh lens, and he does not have one house style that Nike simply adopts. Every single campaign is different, and each is visually stimulating for consumers.

“We have to react, find new things, new techniques, continually adapt our creative approach to what will excite and capture the imagination of consumers and what enhances and communicates Nike’s product,” he described.

Such an approach makes Nike the best and most challenging client in the world, according to Crook. Not only do they work with Nike on local territory campaigns around the UK, Hotel Creative also works on them at a global creative level, creating future campaign directives that set the tone for their creative rollouts across the world. There is never a moment with Crook’s company is not dealing with Nike. Projects typically take about four weeks, sometimes even less, but can last up to three months. The creative process involves Hotel Creative presenting a number of creative directions and refining them to align with Nike’s product and their audience. Every day is different, processes and order are often hard to impose, but they have built up a lot of trust between each other. Crook knows what is expected of him, and never rests on his laurels.

“Nike have an unnerving sense of the future and that futuristic vision excites and inspires me. Over the last 30 or so years they have transformed into such a globally innovative brand, continually pushing technologies to create new products for both elite sports and everyday consumers. This cutting-edge approach is a magnetic force for many creatives and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved working with Nike, given they have the ability to pick the best,” added Crook.

With such a passion for his work, there is little doubt as to why both Crook and Hotel Creative have become international success stories. Crook never let his connections with Nike die down as he was building his business, and he encourages all those who look to follow in his footsteps to remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who.

“Study, work hard, play hard. Work the system and build your contacts. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Look who’s doing work you love or aspire to do. Contact them and ask if you can assist in any way at all,” he advised. “All knowledge is good knowledge, even if it’s a bad experience, it is something you know not to do again. Always learn and reflect on what you did and what you could have done better. Then you are ready for next time.”

Actress Francesa De Luca to star in upcoming film ‘Café Mnemosyne’

Originally from Hammersmith, London, Francesca De Luca knew she was meant to perform at the age of six. At the time she was dancing, but she realized the stage was her home. She knows what it is to connect with her audience, to make them feel something they didn’t know was there. She brings everything she has to every performance she does, and this is what makes her such an outstanding actress.

Throughout her career, De Luca has risen to one of England’s top actresses. She has worked alongside extraordinary talent like herself, including Producer, Writer, and Director Francis Ford Coppola, known for many award-winning films including The Godfather trilogy. He is also one of De Luca’s idols.

“He reminded me of my grandfather with his warmth and he told me I reminded him of his daughter Sophia. I spoke about my Italian heritage and it felt like I had known him for years,” she said.

With a busy upcoming couple of years, De Luca will once again appear on the big screen in several new films. One of these is Café Mnemosyne, set to be released in 2019. The film will be directed by a prominent director, who approached De Luca knowing he needed her to make his film a success, and that she would be perfect for the role. This was four years ago, and now, the film is finally coming to fruition. De Luca immediately was on board.

“I’ve seen this director’s previous work and love the script and think he will be a nice guy to work with. I like working with talented, nice people, and it’s important to feel relaxed on set,” she said.

Scripts are extremely important to De Luca. She wants to read a script and feel compelled by the story, and if she is, that is when she will take on a role. Café Mnemosyne is one of those films. It is set in a strange diner where a young girl shows up with an odd dilemma, throwing the regular café occupants into a panic. The suspense is evident while she finds out what the café really is and what will happen to her next. De Luca will be playing the role of Carrie, who is one of the main characters in the diner. The film is expected to make its way to many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

“The filming will be in New Jersey so it will be an opportunity to spend time in New York again and spend time with my cousins and friends. I love New York as a city and I love the directness of the people. Also, I love playing Italian America New York characters, so I enjoy people watching while I am there and picking up traits that I can later bring to my characters,” said De Luca.

There is no doubt that De Luca will help make the films a success. She is known for working on acclaimed projects, such as the docudrama Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. De Luca played the role of Margot Fonteyn in the film, a true Prima Ballerina. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and was subsequently selected for the prestigious Hamptons Film Festival and the Key West Film Festival. Earlier this year, it was released in theatres across the United States and Canada, receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, with a score of 82 per cent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. It was released on iTunes in July of this year, and went straight to number one in the documentary chart and top ten in independent movies.

“I am proud to have been part of such a successful film,” said De Luca, speaking of Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent.

De Luca saw similar success with the film Passports. The film follows Tanya who returns after six wild years of travelling. Once home, her mother and grandma make her join an online dating site and go on a date. The date is a visit to a psychic. During the visit, unexpected events occur and the guy hits on the psychic secretively sliding to her a piece of paper reading ‘Call Me.’ The psychic ignores him and tells Tanya her fortune and after Tanya shows the psychic a ‘new’ game of magic in which she makes her date’s car keys disappear. From then on things get heated between the three. This film is a dramedy with beautiful cinematography and interesting characters. De Luca plays the pivotal role of the psychic. Passports went on to win several awards at many prestigious international film festivals.

“During Francesca’s audition for Passports, we decided to cast her immediately because of her commanding stage presence and the many unique details she brought to her acting. What makes her special is her uncanny ability to perform at the drop of a hat, improvisation skills especially with dialogue, and her capacity to do numerous accents from all over the world. We are currently in the development stages of our first feature Midnight Daughter, filming to start early 2018, and are casting Francesca in one of the primary roles of the film. Her vast skill set allows Francesca to fit into different characters. Overall, Francesca’s dedication to the craft of acting and her easy-going attitude are two of the many reasons why we like working with her,” said Jeremy Pion Berlin, the Director of Passports.

Audiences have a lot to look forward to with De Luca gracing their screen presence so frequently in the coming years. She has recently been working with Mark Myers of CSP Management, who also plans to cast the actress is roles with his production company Citizen Skull over next few years. She is also looking forward to working on various roles in US television programs. She is definitely one to watch out for.

Editor Peter Hein digs into the emotion of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’

As an editor, Peter Hein does not begin his work until later in the process. He doesn’t figure out how it is shot, who will play what part, or what costumes they will where. He doesn’t stand behind the camera, looking for the right angles to frame a face. His role is much more nuanced. He does not write the story; he finds its heart and soul. During editing, he sees the emotion in each scene, and tweaks the storyline to truly hit home with its viewers. Whether it’s to make people laugh or cry, he gets every frame just right to connect with his audience. As an editor, he is responsible for the story coming together, and he is brilliant at it.

Hein is known in the United Kingdom for his exceptional work on many popular television programs. The Denmark native has worked on shows like X Factor and First Dates, as well as award ceremonies like The BAFTA Awards. He uses his extensive knowledge to glue audiences to their seats, ensuring they watch every moment of a show, feeling connected to the cast they see on screen.

This is perhaps most exemplified with his work on Britain’s Got Talent. The editor has been part of the show since its second season, and is consistently asked to come back due to his substantial contributions. Sophie Coen, the Senior Producer of the talent competition, says that Hein’s work is incredible, and he plays a large role in the editing team.

“Peter is a real team player and always goes the extra mile. He is a dream in the edit. He is creative, decisive, and hugely experienced. He is always positive and upbeat, even when presented with a very tricky story, and with incredibly tight deadlines he manages to make it work. He is a real joy to work with,” said Coen. “On Britain’s Got Talent, Peter would often be the editor that the show would depend on to make a story work. His passion drives his talent. He is one of the best editors I have worked with. He understands narrative, humor, and emotion. Peter is able to draw upon his varied experience to make the edit work. He is a lead editor – he can inspire, direct, and lead others. Peter thrives under pressure and always delivers amazing work.”

The Got Talent format has been extremely successful in many countries, and the United Kingdom is no different. Hein’s work is what makes auditions so captivating, and even those not living in the UK have been privy to his talents. Many of his videos from the show have gone viral, including the iconic Susan Boyle audition, which has tens of millions of views on YouTube alone. The video starts in a comical way, with the audience laughing at the unassuming singer. By the end, viewers are in tears by her talent and the judges’ reaction.

This is what Hein does with every scene he works on. During the audition process, he spends weeks sifting through footage for seven minutes of the show, but it is worth it. As the show progresses into live shows, he works to edit videos of the talents’ journeys prior to their performances. His work is what makes viewers root for different contestants.

Britain’s Got Talent is one of the two hardest shows I’ve ever worked on. The days were very long in the earlier series because the show was still finding its feet. But the teams on that show have always been great, and the success and team effort makes it worth working on it. You get given a story and you try and make it the best you can, bring something to it nobody thought of before, whether that be the style or music choices. Anything to make it ‘pop’,” said Hein.

With Hein’s work, the ratings have grown substantially each year, and now it is one of the most successful television formats in the world. Hein brought his own sense of comedy and emotion to the show, resulting in such a feat. The show’s third season final was the highest rated television show that year, when Susan Boyle won the show. It even won a BAFTA award.

Despite his accolades, Hein finds working on the show to be a team effort. He loves who he works alongside, and finds everyone pulls together to make the best show they possibly can.  The show has been on for eleven years and still entertains audiences with the same format, and that is because of the stories they are sharing with the world; stories that Hein plays a large hand in telling.

In the beginning, Hein wanted to work on Britain’s Got Talent because it was a new and growing format that would provide a different editing experience. At the time, he was extremely grateful for the opportunity. He still is today.

“I still find it incredible when people love what I do. It’s a real compliment to know that after all the years on the show I can still surprise and entertain people with how I edit. Britain’s Got Talent has a special warm feeling about it, it has always had that, and I feel like I done my part to give the show that well-loved feeling,” he concluded.

Maria Akpan Scouted by Mark Anthony for Prince Revelation Tribute Show

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Maria Akpan

When most parents ask their children what they’d like to be when they grow up, they expect to hear answers like professional “actor” or “dancer” and simply hope that the novelty will wear off with age. This, however, was not the case for Maria Akpan’s mother and father. From a very young age, Akpan knew that she had a gift and over the years, she has been determined to share that gift with the world. The talented dancer and choreographer is passionate about not only keeping the art of dance alive, but ensuring that it remains fresh, engaging and entertaining. She has creativity soaring through her veins and is eager to continue shedding her greatness before aspiring dancers everywhere.

Only a small fraction of human beings can confidently say that they get to do what they love for a living, and Akpan is one of those few people. In living out her dreams, Akpan has built a strong career full of invaluable experience. Her exceptional reputation has earned her a vast amount of achievements. For instance, Akpan performed as a lead dancer for the production Thriller Live, where she was tasked with taking the audience on a journey through Michael Jackson’s childhood and career. She has also appeared in a number of hit music videos, like Funky Twinz featuring N. Kay’s video, Entertain You, where she choreographed each dance number and subsequently acted as the lead dancer in the video. Her exposure to high quality productions and performances has allowed her to showcase her skill set before the eyes of several major production companies and fellow dancers. As a result, she has been recognized for her talents and even won an award in 2014 when Shirlene Quigley, a former dancer for Beyoncé and Rihanna, was looking for a dancer that wowed her enough to donate $500 toward a scholarship for the Broadway Dance Centre in New York. Unsurprisingly, Akpan blew her away and won the competition by a landslide.

One of Akpan’s most notable career highlights was when she choreographed and danced in a lead role for Mark Anthony’s, Prince Revelation Tribute Show. When Anthony was looking for talent to not only choreograph dances for the show, but also star in the show alongside him, he demanded that Akpan come on board. He was astounded by her natural affinity for choreography and dance when he stumbled upon her website online. Akpan was thrilled to be able to lend her talents to the show, as Prince was one of her favorite artists. The job allowed her to dance in well-known venues all over England and she thoroughly enjoyed all of the various aspects that the job entailed.

“Working on this project was so awesome. Contributing my skills and work to this show made it feel like my own. It was even more fulfilling when crowd members would approach us after the show to let us know that they thought Prince would’ve been proud watching it. It was surreal doing the festivals because you knew people had travelled miles to be there just to see the show. The energy coming from the audience was addicting and Twitter views were at an all-time high after each show,” recalls Akpan.

20170607_174958Akpan is no stranger to the world of choreography and her unique delivery and storytelling are what set her above her competition. She has had to fight for every opportunity she has accomplished thus far in her career and has developed a certain strength through her perseverance, a strength that every dancer sticks around long enough to develop. It is a grueling profession, but it is one that Akpan excels in. Her unprecedented skills as a dancer are the reason that she is a perfectionist, holding herself to the highest standard possible, as she knows what she is capable of. In stressful situations, she thrives and her drive is at an all-time high.

Lucie Camelo, who was fortunate enough to dance alongside Akpan in the Prince Revelation Tribute Show, witnessed first-hand Akpan’s profound ability to take a production or performance to the next level. She knows of the quality of work that Akpan is capable of delivering and considers herself lucky to have worked with such unparalleled talent.

“Working with Maria was definitely uplifting and enlightening for me. To be able to work closely with someone of her caliber was intense and just to get a glimpse into what it takes to be successful in this industry was a blessing in itself. She is a true inspiration to many. Her drive, commitment, and discipline for her work is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Working with her left me inspired,” says Camelo.

So, what is in store for this extremely talented dancer? Akpan created her own dance class called “#LinesNsaucewithmimi” which is taught in heels and has earned her great success so far. She also teaches children’s dance classes and continues to audition and perform for productions that interest her. On top of that, she is often called upon to teach private lessons for individuals of all different levels, from beginners and non-dancers to professional artists. In future, she hopes to dance with iconic artists like Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Madonna, Usher, and Christ Brown. So long as she is teaching, choreographing, and dancing, she will be content and motivated to continue along her successful path.

Producer Katie Horbury is essential for Disney channel hit

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Katie Horbury

When Katie Horbury decided to pursue a career as a television producer, she knew that she had her work cut out for her. Amidst fierce competition, grueling hours, and unpredictable schedules, she would have to come out on top. The now esteemed television producer knows that if she were to go back in time and share with herself the key to her success, it would be to make her dream her number one priority, and to make sure that she stops at absolutely nothing to make it her reality. Early on in her career, she moved away from family and friends and worked odd hours, oftentimes sacrificing weekends and holidays to gain as much experience and knowledge in her field as possible. Fortunately, it all paid off. In the entertainment industry, reputations are paramount and as a result of her unwavering drive, Horbury’s is world-renowned.

As Horbury became more established in her career and took on more prestigious roles, her name became a staple in television production. Having lent her talents to hit television shows like Big Brother, Don’t Tell the Bride, and Come Dine with Me, Horbury is well-versed in producing high quality content for reality television. Her job requires her to take an idea from a script or a project outline and bring it to life. She needs to be able to capture the emotional response that her audience is intended to feel and communicate it to them creatively and meaningfully.

“In pre-production, I must be able to visualize the final product, plan how to achieve it, and be able to communicate that to my team to ensure that everyone is working toward the exact same goal. During production and shooting, I have to create a buzzing but professional atmosphere to allow the entire team to function confidently and to the highest standard possible. This usually has to be done under harsh time constraints, so I have to keep the momentum up for the duration of the project. Finally, the edit is where the magic happens. Everything I envisioned in pre-production, and hopefully even more, comes together here when myself and my editor wrap up our work,” stated Horbury.

Horbury considers the highlight of her esteemed career to have been in her lead production role for Disney Channel Vlog. The show’s tremendous success is a reflection of Horbury’s natural affinity for producing. Horbury, who is no stranger to producing for large audiences, was particularly humbled by Disney Channel Vlog’s 3.5 million views and 300% increase in viewership since she took over the role of Director and Producer. For the first time in her career, Horbury was working with a very small team and had the opportunity to showcase her ideas and her ideas alone. For a producer used to working with hundreds of team members, she was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed managing a smaller, more intimate group of individuals. To date, she has been the mastermind behind 52 episodes of the hit show, each littered with her ideas, scripts, edits, and more.

Disney Channel Vlog airs weekly, featuring two teenage hosts and targets children between the ages of 8 and 16. The Vlog has three segments and shows all of the latest Disney channel shows, DIYs, spoof music videos, comedy skits, hosts that talk about issues concerning teens today, and more. During pre-production, Horbury generates all of the concepts behind the show’s content, ensuring that every segment promotes the Disney Channel in a natural, compelling way. She has the distinct pleasure of creating and pitching a series of ideas to Disney and writing each script from start to finish. During production, she composes and decorates each set to appeal to her audience and appear fun, colorful and engaging. She then produces and directs the talent and camera crew while shooting. Once production concludes, Horbury masterfully edits all material gathered to make sure that only the best footage is kept. She adds her finishing touches in the form of after effects, visual and sound effects, graphics, etc., and the result is profound. Viewers are eager to tune in again on a weekly basis and consume whatever great content Horbury has to offer them that week.

In addition to Horbury’s satisfied viewers, she is used to receiving positive feedback from her co-workers. She differentiates herself by her ability to inspire her crew and make them feel at ease when they work with her, keeping them up to speed with her visions and addressing any questions or concerns they have along the way. Heather Nair, who works closely with Horbury on Disney Channel Vlog, witnesses Horbury’s remarkable talents on a daily basis for the show and considers herself lucky to work with such an unprecedented producer.

“Working with Katie is an absolute dream. She knows exactly what she wants, is decisive, and very knowledgeable in her field of work. She has such a magnetic personality with a fantastic sense of humor. She is so good at what she does because she is incredibly sharp and on the ball. She is also extremely creative. On this show, not only does she script and direct each shoot, but she comes up with all of the ideas for each segment,” said Nair.

For Horbury, working for Disney Channel Vlog has been a dream come true. Not only does she get to do what she loves, she has the satisfaction of knowing that she has been a positive influence in the lives of young viewers. She hopes to continue to inspire children to pursue their dreams as feverishly as she has through the content she creates for them and takes pride in knowing that 10-year old Katie Horbury is living her dreams to their fullest extent.

Behind the Scenes of 24 Hours in A&E with James Ralph

When you think about your favorite television show, what comes to mind? Is it your favorite actor’s Emmy-worthy performance? Or is it perhaps set in a part of the world that you’ve been itching to explore for all of your life. Is it funny, or is it sad? Is it dramatic, or is it scary? No matter what comes to mind, each component that makes it the show you love and cherish is rooted in an editor’s ability to tie every element together seamlessly before your eyes. Without the help of a skilled editor, storylines would falter and viewers would lose interest. Films and television shows that dominate the industry require a seasoned editor, one with a keen ability to captivate an audience and ensure that only the best quality content makes a final cut. They require an editor like James Ralph.

Ralph’s versatility as an editor makes him difficult to define, but a mere glance at his work will tell you that his talents are profound. His ability to transform his skill set to meet the demands of the project before him allow him to ease into new premises, scripts, and storylines flawlessly. He brings a certain authenticity and creative edge to his work that makes him instrumental to every job he accepts and over a twenty-year career he has accepted many. His unique editorial style can be understood through a variety of different projects he has worked on, from British favorites like X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK, to hit reality television shows like Love Island and First Dates. He differentiates himself as an editor through his natural ability to transition between different genres without weakness. According to Ralph, he doesn’t have one specific style or technique that characterizes him, which makes him all the more suitable to work on a diverse array of projects.

“I wouldn’t say that I have a definite style as my work spans multiple genres. I think my work is always smooth in that you can watch it without ever being aware that there are edits – unless I’ve placed them there deliberately. Editorially, I am thoughtful, intelligent, visually creative, and musically dynamic, all of which are crucial to any story you’re trying to tell. I think that there is a certain energy in everything I do,” tells Ralph.

Over the last three years, Ralph has worked on a number of series for the well-known British television show, 24 Hours in A&E. 24 Hours in A&E is a medical documentary set in a busy hospital in London, England. The unique docuseries offers an inside look at one of Britain’s busiest Accident & Emergency departments. For the show, cameras roll for 24-hours straight over the span of a 28-day period.

With a reputation as unparalleled as Ralph’s, it is not uncommon for a production company to solicit his talents. When 24 Hours in A&E’s production company, The Garden, were looking for an editor to flavor their series with the perfect amount of suspense and truth, they demanded that Ralph come on board. In fact, the show’s Executive Producer, Spencer Kelly, had worked with Ralph in the past and knew he was the perfect fit for the job. For Ralph, the opportunity was too great to turn down and knowing The Garden’s respected reputation in the factual and documentary making world, he was eager to accept.

Despite Kelly’s experience working with Ralph, he never ceases to be amazed by the quality of Ralph’s editing skills. Ralph is a rarity in his field and production companies are extremely fortunate when they come across talent as remarkable as his.

“I have worked with James on prime-time series for BBC 1 and for the last three seasons of 24 Hours in A E. Throughout each, he has brought a unique combination of consistency and editorial clarity. His work is beautifully crafted and his editing delivers compelling, thoughtful and entertaining television,” states Kelly. He also points out that Ralph’s “good humor and hardworking, collaborative attitude make him a pleasure to work with. Most importantly, he is quick at what he does so he can quickly sift through material and implement changes to meet pressured deadlines.”

As an editor, speed is crucial; however, the true art of editing shows in an editor’s ability to produce content quickly without sacrificing quality. Ralph is well-versed in this skill and it makes him a true asset to the teams he works on. For 24 Hours in A&E, this skill is paramount to the show’s success. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, it is important for Ralph to be able to accurately portray each situation with every aspect of authenticity and human nature possible. The show’s audience become privy to very intimate parts of people’s lives, ranging from birth to death and everything in between and as a result, Ralph has to thoroughly explore all of the footage, identifying any stories or themes that can be developed into an episode. On the surface, the show is about medicine but in reality, it is about people and the often fascinating stories of their lives. It is a challenge unlike any of Ralph’s other projects.

“It can be very challenging when you’re faced with the reality that people sometimes die or appear on the show with appalling injuries. As an editor, I have to work with this footage and find ways to tell these people’s stories without glorifying or reveling in the gruesomeness of the situations. It’s all about being sensitive and respectful to the people on the show and to your audience as you tell each story and ensure that you do them justice,” notes Ralph.

From an editing standpoint, 24 Hours in A&E was a thrilling job. With full creative reign, Ralph was trusted to make his own decisions in terms of which stories he followed and developed. He thrives in an autonomous environment, allowing his unrestricted creativity to reach the surface. He loves the responsibility that comes with being able to showcase such raw, human stories. There are moments of humor, as well as moments of grief. It can be touching, but also devastating. The show is characterized by a wide spectrum of emotions and Ralph gets to choose how he wishes to present each and every one. He has been instrumental to the show’s success and is without a doubt one of the main reasons that his viewers absorb the show in the way that they do.

“I take a great deal of pride knowing that the show is so popular, not only with the public but also amongst my colleagues. The fact that it is repeatedly commissioned, as well as on repeat across many of Channel 4’s subsidiary channels, is a tribute to the hard work and dedication that goes into making it. It’s one of those shows that a lot of my friends in the industry always say, “I wish I worked on that,” concludes Ralph, and he is proud that he does.

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.