Tag Archives: filmmaking

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.

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

Headshot 1
Konstadinos Bahamas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jing Wen breaks through the ‘man’s world of directing’

JING WEN 2
Jing Wen

Jing Wen says she works in a “man’s world.” Many female directors in the film and television industry feel this way. It is classically a male dominated field, and just last year the Hollywood Reporter stated that a mere seven per cent of all directors directed the top 250 films, a two per cent decline from 2015, according to San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. Wen, however, does not allow herself to be fazed by this. The award-winning director goes after any and all jobs that would typically be given to a man, constantly looking to break barriers. The Chinese native has become one of the leaders in her field in her home country, and is continuing to cross borders with her impressive skillset.

Earlier this year, Wen once again showed that there she can be a typical ‘rich man’ as she puts it, but directing a luxury car commercial. Dongnan DX7 car commercial. The commercial features Chinese actress and star Wenjing Bao, alongside her three-year-old daughter Jiaozi. The story shows Wenjing making a travelling plan with Jiaozi, asking her daughter to pack her own toys. Unfortunately, Jiaozi slow and took a lot of toys. Luckily, the car gave them much space so Jiaozi can keep all of her toys, and is fast enough to make up the time that was lost. Finally, they are shown having a wonderful road trip in their Dongnan DX7.

“This commercial was a very quick job, so every decision I had to make had to be made quickly. This always provides a fun challenge, and you have to make sure you let everyone on your team know every one of your decisions and any plans you have made, so they can easily do what you ask. There is not much time, so the most important thing you should do is follow your heart and trust your instincts. That makes me excited,” said Wen.

The commercial was produced by Mei Yang. Yang had heard of Wen from the lead producer at Mango TV, Shan Zhou. Zhou worked alongside Wen on a series of projects, such as the television shows Never Give Up, Salute to Life and Blossoming Flowers. Zhou told her friend Yang about Wen, and Yang was immediately impressed with the director after watching some of her work. Wen was asked to take part on the commercial right away.

“Jing Wen has very strong skills as a director, and also she can handle a lot of emergency problems while shooting. We only had five days to prepare this commercial. When she got the script, she went through it and found things that were impossible given our timeline, and found other ways to do it instead,” Zhou described. “For example, Jingwen Bao’s daughter Jiaozi, she is only three-years-old, and a lot of the time she was out of control. In order to complete shooting on time, Jing decided to use montage shots to show the reaction of Jiaozi in her enjoyable moment in the car. We also had the problem, where one day before shooting, the advertisers change the content of the shooting plan. Jing fixed the shot list and gave the advertisers new ideas that still were close to their suggestions, making them very happy. Jing did a very good job on this commercial shooting. I want to work with her again.”

Directing a difficult three-year-old is something that would cause many directors with a short time frame to become frustrated, but Wen never let that happen. Instead of trying to keep the child’s focus on the camera or the scene, Wen decided to let her focus on the toy. That way, she could then use the toy to lead Jiaozi to do something for the shot. The result looked very authentic.

“Wenjing and I worked together on Mom is Superman 2. We already knew we had a great partnership and could work together very quickly and efficiently. She is a big star in China, and she has almost 2 million fans in WEIBO, which is kind of like Instagram. She is really nice, and even sometimes when Jiaozi was really out of control, she helped me to deal with her daughter’s problem. She is a patient mother, and after were finished shooting, she always accompanied Jiaozi around the set,” Wen described.

When always aims to work efficiently. When she first got the script, she discussed the possible shooting locations with the producer. They only had five days to prepare the entire production, so after she chose the locations, she used two days to make a storyboard with my director of photography. She wanted to make sure she was involved with every aspect of the production, making sure to keep the client happy.

“Shooting a commercial, the most important part is talking with advertisers. Sometimes they will ask you to do something nonsensical in part in your film to show their product. At this moment, you need balance their intentions and the story telling. Know what they want to show, that’s the key to success when shooting a commercial,” said Wen.

No matter what project she is working on, success is always the end result for Wen. Her work on the web series Mountain Comeback, the Shenzhen television show Ji Ke Zhi Zao, and the promotional video for Red Nose Day of China follow in that same pattern. At the end of the day, however, it is about how her work resonates with audiences that drives this formidable director.

“I’m a storyteller, and I like giving hope to everyone and making them feel love all around,” Wen concluded.