Tag Archives: Film

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.

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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.”

Liya Shay tells tragic true story in acclaimed film ‘The 4th Person’

By the time a film is shown on a screen, it has been cut, edited, and perfected over a long, grueling period of time. In fact, oftentimes, films can take anywhere from several months to years in order for every element to come together. What audiences don’t typically see, however, is all of the hard work and dedication that goes into making a film the best that it can possibly be. For an actress like Liya Shay, she understands this all too well. For Shay, the biggest challenge that accompanies her career choice is remembering that her physical and mental health are of utmost importance. Her unwavering commitment to mastering every thought, emotion, and feeling of her characters makes this a difficult reality. After years of acting, however, she has developed various techniques and skills that allow her to separate herself from her characters, while still ensuring that when she is in front of the camera, she is everything her character needs to be and more.

Shay’s skill set is a testament to her dedication to the job that she loves most in this world. Her achievements are widespread and she has acted alongside strong directors, renowned production companies, well-known actors, and more. In 2016, she worked with Rouge Shakespeare Company at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. She has also played lead roles in two hit web series’, Vape Series and Drug. Beyond these roles, she has appeared in various commercials for major companies like Miller Lite and Echosworld Entertainment. One of her greatest achievements is perhaps for her role as “Sister” in the film The 4th Person. Her contributions to the film were absolutely instrumental to its success and it eventually went on to screen at the Pune Shorts Film Festival, Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival, and the Equality Festival Ukraine screenings.

When asked about the highlights of her career, Shay has a few; however, she considers her role as “Sister” in The 4th Person to be one of the most emotionally testing characters she has ever had to play. The 4th Person, which was directed by Indian director, Nonidh Yadav, depicts the true, devastating tale of a human who is forced by his mother to rape his sister in order to overcome his homosexuality. The story depicts his self-destructive journey toward redemption and his search for self-existence. For Shay, the decision to play the “Sister” was simple. She knew how important it is for society to understand that situations like this occur all over the world and it can’t continue. She delved deep into the role, researching about the effects of rape on an individual’s life, especially at a young age. This is nothing out of the ordinary for an actress with talent as unparalleled as Shay’s. She dedicates her entire self to every role she plays, and works tirelessly to ensure that she does her characters the justice that they deserve.

“When we were filming, The 4th Person was the only project I was working on and it was difficult not to get too overwhelmed while I researched the effects of rape and incest on women, especially young girls. Despite the fact that the information was emotional, I believed that the only way to truly understand how my character would’ve felt was to have all of that information and to be fully educated on those topics. I usually conduct extensive research if I think it will help me get into my character. It definitely creates a bigger picture around the given circumstances,” said Shay.

Between her research and her raw acting abilities, Shay delivered a stellar performance for the film. Her depiction of the “Sister” helped instill a sense of realism for the audience. Knowing that she was telling a true story made her all the more inclined to deliver an honest, authentic performance and to bring her audience on the haunting journey that the characters embarked on. As a director, Yadav could not have asked for a better actress to play her crucial, lead role. He credits much of the film’s success to Shay’s natural affinity for playing a dramatic role.

“Liya’s unique way of seeing her characters was the reason why this project came to life. She never judged any of the characters, instead she always wanted to discover and rationalize why someone would be behaving in the way they do. As a person, she is very passionate and caring, which was a key to her character as well. She created a character that was like a glue to the pieces of this story. She is an actress with a beautiful soul that translates into her performances. She is able to create characters that live and breathe through emotions that not every person will experience in their lives. She has a strong will, that doesn’t let her break as a person after filming scenes like the scene of rape between she and her brother,” told Yadav.

Shay’s success in her career is a direct result of her drive, passion, and sheer talent. She is not naïve when it comes to her career choice; she knows that the stakes are high and the competition is tough. She understands the reality that at times, it is not always the most stable source of income and that it is more competitive than most other fields of work. This reality, however, only pushes Shay harder. She loves the job she does and she intends to continue to do so for years to come. Fortunately, her accomplishments thus far in her career have painted her a strong background of work. There is no doubt that with talent as profound as Shay’s and a burning desire to do what she loves, she will continue to bring greatness to the entertainment industry in every role she sets out to do.

PROTECTOR OF THE FILM & MUCH MORE: XIN GONG

When director Yiqiong Li was preparing to make his film “A Gift” he did what most filmmakers do, he referred to the list he keeps of professionals that are both talented and enjoyable to work with. Li had recently served as Assistant Director on the film “Promise Land” and he immediately thought of the Xin Gong the DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) on that film and contacted her for this upcoming project. A DIT is one of those professions that many people do not fully understand but is integral to the camera crew operating efficiently and at full power. It’s a “boots on the ground” role in filmmaking and one which the director and cinematographer rely upon heavily. “A Gift” received numerous accolades including: Award of Recognition – Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival, a nomination at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema London, and was an official selection at film festivals in the US, Berlin, Rome, and others. The dream of a filmmaker cannot be realized without the daily utilized talent of professionals like Xin Gong; skilled artists who will never see their name on the marquee but will always be the support of those who do.

“A Gift” is a film which concerns itself with the choices and potential found in all people. Kindness and redemption are something which can only be offered up, never can they be forcefully taken. The film tells the story of Jack, a young thief who breaks into the home of Margaret. Margaret is a blind elderly woman who mistakes Jack for her son. Margaret comes to realize that Jack is not her son but she still covers for him, protecting him from being discovered when police and neighbors come looking for a dangerous young man in the neighborhoods. The thief comes to realize the error of his ways and is moved by Margaret’s gift of understanding, forgiveness, and non-judgement.

Gong served as a Digital Imaging Technician or (DIT) for “A Gift.” As the guardian in change of protecting the footage for a film, the DIT not only serves as the gatekeeper but also assists many different parts of the film crew and the filming process insuring that instrumentation is working properly and capturing the action properly. Xin’s naturally detailed personality and discernment make her an easy fit for this role in any production. Also known as a talented editor, the duality of her skill set has made her more proficient of both sides of the production process (filming and post). The two complement each other well. Xin describes, “When I work as an editor, I organize the footage, putting different labels on for different footages. In editing software, I’ll put the dialogue into the first track, sound effects are on the second track, and music is on third track. When you know the process intimately after filming, it heightens your awareness for potential problems or mistakes as they occur during the filming process. This is initially what interested me in pursuing work as a DIT. The first time I took on this role [DIT] I began catching things immediately which I understood would be problematic during the post process. I alerted the DP and director about this and corrections were made instantly. Everyone was very appreciative that we had just saved a lot of time and effort, which was a great feeling for me.”

A skill which is paramount for both a DIT and an editor is color correction. This happens to be something which Gong is highly adept at and quite known for. This skill was vital to her work on “A Gift” as she explains, “One of the most problematic scenes for the film was the opening scene. As this is the first impression the audience will have of the film, everyone was aware of its importance. The scene starts at night as the main character breaks into the house. Unfortunately, the production couldn’t shoot at night and were forced to film this scene in the daytime. This was a big part of the reason I was chosen to work for this production. It was a challenge for me. Before they shot, the director and director of photography asked if I could do some color correction to make the “Day to night” when I was on set. Using DaVinci Resolve to change the gamma and highlight, I then did some color correction of the sky. The final result relieved everyone involved and once again, I felt appreciated…that never gets old.” Director of photography for the film, Chuan Li, reiterates, “DIT is a very complicated job. I think it too often goes underappreciated and doesn’t receive the respect it deserves. As someone who is on the camera the entire time, I relax when I have Xin Gong on a film set because I know she has thought for and prepared for more obstacles and how to avoid them than I ever would. I also know that when there is a problem, she is the first on jumping in to fix it. She sets a tone and example that others would do well to follow.”

 

Canadian actor Tim Hildebrand stars in Steampunk sensation ‘Steamwrecked’

TimHildebrand HeadshotTim Hildebrand says he was once taught that “the secret to truthful acting is to love your character, no matter who he is.” This versatile Canadian actor has stepped into many roles, always conveying sincerity with each performance, and this directly relates back to that mantra that has stayed with him throughout his formidable career. He loves every character he plays, and is committed to each and every performance.

“If I really care about the people I portray, I’ll identify with them, and understand why they do the things they do, at the heart level. I’ll care. I’ll want them to succeed, and so I’ll invest in getting them what they want through the methods that make sense to them, because of who they are, what they know, and what they’ve experienced,” he said.

Audiences will once again have the chance to see Hildebrand in the upcoming film Steamwrecked, set to be released later this year. The film, written by Rachel Hemsley, and directed by Christopher Matista, follows a “lightning harvester” zeppelin pilot named August Morlock, in a steampunk/sci-fi world. Crashing in a forbidden zone during an exceptionally bad storm, he and his lone surviving crewmember are forced to traverse a deadly desert, inhabited by wild creatures called “scavengers”, to bring their coveted cargo to safety.

“When I read the script, I was just intrigued. I’d never read anything like it. It was a Steampunk universe, which I wasn’t really into, but the universe Chris and Rachel came up with was so well thought out and plausible it actually grabbed me. The film is about beating the odds and surviving. It’s about unlikely alliances, learning to love someone you don’t think you can, and making sacrifices for one another. Ultimately, it’s about overcoming. It’s inspirational,” said Hildebrand.

Hildebrand plays August Morlock, a widower and a loner. He’s gruff, but a softie deep down. When his ship crashes in a storm, in the worst possible place, he finds himself stuck between his young, stubborn and injured female crewmember, and the local inhabitants tracking them to kill them. August has to try to get the girl and the canisters to safety.

The character of August Morlock is wonderfully layered. A life-and-death urgency underscores Hildebrand’s captivating portrayal, as he and his shipmate avoid their hunters. Hildebrand also utilizes Morlock’s background with wonderful restraint, his caution and world-weariness contrasting the stubbornness and passion of his protégé, Rowe Windsor (portrayed superbly by Sarah North). This, combined with unexpected moments of softness, create an interesting mystery to Morlock that only fully makes sense when revelations come to light late in the film. To carry the truth of that unspoken backstory throughout the film, so consistently and effectively, demonstrates a unique depth and maturity in Hildebrand’s acting.

“Because there was so much going on internally, this was a project where it felt appropriate to stay ‘in mood’, between takes: not exactly staying in character, but staying in the emotional space of the character. I don’t always do that, it’s case by case. But this project was right for that kind of focus,” Hildebrand described.

The actor worked closely with director Christopher Matista to develop the many layers of August and accurately portray his vision for the film. Matista was constantly impressed with Hildebrand, from the moment he auditioned to the last scene they filmed. Being the male lead actor, the film is dependent on Hildebrand, and according to the Director, he did not disappoint.

“Tim is an amazing actor to work with. On camera he is talented, creative and flexible. Between takes he has a great sense of humor to keep the mood light. When filming a stunt scene that involved four other stuntmen, Tim was very careful during rehearsal to communicate his actions, while also paying close attention to the stunt supervisor. During the actual filming, Tim continued this communication, and was able to deliver great results. Tim acting performance stood out even before he was cast, actually. He wasn’t able to make it to our first casting session and elected to instead submit a video audition. In my experience, actors who submit video auditions rarely make it to call backs. However, Tim stood out. In his audition, he used his teeth to tie off an imaginary bandage around his arm. This small action brought real life to his character and to that moment, and got him a spot in callbacks, and eventually the film.”

“He’s very intelligent.  And adaptive. During one rehearsal, he and I discussed his experience with hang-gliding to connect fictional lines of dialogue to the real world. On set, a director should spend a significant amount of time with the actors, discussing the scene and rehearsing. Because of complications, this wasn’t the case on Steamwrecked. I was lucky to have ten minutes to rehearse before filming a scene. Many actors would have shut down or failed to get into character but Tim kept his cool. Because of his prep, and understanding of the character, I could always rely on him to deliver,” said Matista

Steamwrecked is currently starting its festival track in the United States, but may also be headed abroad to countries like China, New Zealand, and Brazil. It not only appeals to Steampunk communities, but also a wider audience, with memorable performances and a heartwarming story.

“We shot in late Fall, and the desert gets cold. Our first twelve hours were a night shoot. The winds got up to about seventy miles per hour and it was absolutely freezing. I’m from Canada, so it was kind of strange to experience air and wind that cold, but not see any snow. I remember PAs were driving to different towns trying to find those little packages for the crew that you put in your shoes and gloves to stay warm. After two days of that, the weather turned sharply and it became blazing hot; like, oven hot. So the back and forth with the temperature had an effect on some of the equipment and on people’s bodies, but when it was all said and done, we knew we had been a part of something special and everyone was on a real high,” Hildebrand concluded.