Tag Archives: Producing

Producer Mickey Liu went back to high school for ‘Sail the Summer Winds’

STSW on set with postcards and slate
Mickey Liu on set of Sail the Summer Winds, photo by Aijia Che

Mickey Liu knows that every day he steps onto a film set, it will be different than the day before. Every new project brings something new, and every experience is distinctive. Because of this, he always feels like he is learning something new, and no matter how seasoned of a producer he is, he finds that sometimes his experience can mean nothing in the wake of a new challenge. He is consistently exposed to talented individuals and brings teams together to create a masterpiece. For him, that is the best feeling in the world, and he loves what he does.

“Producing is about lots of instant decisions and last-minute situations, which is challenging and exciting. What’s more, I get to read many good stories… and a lot more bad ones,” he joked.

Hailing from Shenzhen, China, Liu has become a renowned producer. His work on films such as An Ill-Fitting Coat, Marie, Nocturne in Black, and Tear of the Peony have made headlines around the world. He knows what it is to tell a good story, and consistently manages to bring his films great success. However, the first time he truly felt this was in 2014, with his feature Sail in the Summer Winds.

Sail in the Summer Winds tells the story of Michael, a 30-year-old white-collar worker, who is always recalling memories with his 6-year desk mate Cammy and best friends Leon, Joyce and James about when they were 17. Back then, these high schoolers were faced with the biggest challenge of their life – the College Entrance Exam. Michael didn’t know what his future held but got an early admission to Cammy’s dream school; Cammy had feelings for Michael but couldn’t say it out loud; Joyce, once a model student at school, failed to live up to expectations at the very moment; Leon wanted to be an artist but was torn between reality and dream; James worked really hard, but things didn’t turn out great for him. Just like every coming-of-age story, they grew up and changed through the best years of their youth.

“I think the story of the film is important because it is a story focusing on friendship in high school. We’ve seen enough saccharine high school dramas on screens and they almost always center on how to get the guy or girl you like. American high school culture is very different from Chinese high school culture. I think the story provides a fresh perspective of Chinese high school life. The story would remind people of their dreams and courage, and maybe they would want to reconnect with friends they haven’t been in touch with for years,” said Liu.

When the Director of Sail the Summer Winds, Lanxin Yu, approached Liu over social media to produce the feature, Liu was immediately intrigued. Yu went to the same high school that Liu attended and wanted to film the movie there. Upon reading the script, Liu knew he wanted to be a part of the film, as the words took him back to his high school days and brought back memories of his younger self. He knew many others would be able to relate, and his partnership with Yu began.

“Working with Mickey is always a pleasure. His great sense of humor makes everyone chilled and relaxed. When it comes to the set, he’s sensitive, responsive, and caring to every crew member and tries his best to make the set an enjoyable working environment that everyone wants to come back to. When we were shooting Sail the Summer Winds, most of the crew members were first-timers, but he was very patient and made our set run like a real Hollywood set. In addition, his charisma held the crew together, not just as an efficient team, but a real family. Mickey is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. He always has brilliant ideas about the story and has a deep understanding on the structure. Therefore, as a creative producer, he gives clear notes to writers, constructive advice to directors and inspirational directions for promotions. He’s easygoing and reliable, making him the one person on set that everyone trusts,” said Yu.

As the sole producer of the film, Liu’s work was essential for the film’s success. He held the team together and drastically improved their efficiency, while still providing ample amounts of encouragement and boosting morale. He provided critical creative notes at the script development stage, created the shooting scheduling and supervised the pre-production and production. During post-production, he personally designed the merchandise and arranged for the film’s distribution.

Liu also trained the crew and brought professional help to the production, as he was the most seasoned filmmaker on the set. The majority of the crew were young volunteers looking to experience film production, and therefore required a lot of training. Because of him, he had everyone on the crew working extremely well despite their lack of previous experience.

“Although it was challenging, I actually enjoyed training the crew a lot. They were very smart and hard-working ‘students’, so it felt very rewarding seeing them successfully applying the training to their work. The atmosphere was very loving and full of energy. I loved that good vibe on set very much,” Liu described.

In addition to all of this, Liu employed some American methods of film production to this Chinese movie. The Director was pulling herself in every direction, taking on many tasks beyond what she needed to do. On Chinese film sets, this often happens, as they are very director-centric. Liu however, having experience on American film sets, talked to the director and told her how they could make everything more efficient, and she just needed to focus on her main duties as a director. In the end, it worked seamlessly.

“Producing this film was a very unique experience because I think it would be almost impossible to have this selfless of a cast and crew ever again. Everyone gave their one hundred percent for free and they never complained and never lost morale while working long hours in hot summer. It was definitely a labor of love and I was very moved by what they did and shooting at my high school brought back so many happy memories,” said Liu.

Sail the Summer Winds premiered in August 2014 at a theatre in Shenzhen and then went straight to DVD, where it sold well locally. It was covered by local newspapers and television stations in China, where it received very positive reviews. It is now available to stream online.

Liu and his team decided to donate all the proceeds from the film to his local high school, to support the film and television club there. Liu wanted to motivate the next generation of young filmmakers to follow their dreams, and in his footsteps. For those looking to do so, he offered the following advice:

“Find the stories you really love and try to make them happen. Don’t pursue certain types of stories just because they are “hot and trendy”. It takes such a long time to get them made that you may give up if you don’t love them enough. When in doubt, you can always go back to why you wanted to pursue a career in producing. It can actually give you a lot of strength. It’s all about the nuts and bolts, and your instinct is usually right,” he concluded.

 

Top photo: Zihao Qin and Mickey Liu on set of ‘Sail the Summer Winds’, photo by Aijia Che

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Join Dixie Chan in honoring Borneo’s unsung environmental heroes

At the outset of her career as a documentary film producer, Dixie Chan made it a long-term goal to one day use her talents to cast a light on an important social issue. For Chan, being a film producer allows her to research compelling people, places, and customs across the globe and share them with interested audiences alike. In her eyes, it is a privilege to be able to take advantage of the social platform that her profession provides her and if she can make a difference in the life or social awareness of even one individual, she’ll have succeeded.

“Being able to tell a good, compelling story that will resonate with people for a long time requires experience, technique, patience and empathy — all elements which I believe can be honed when you are learning and working with the best in the field. During my college years, I started going to film festivals and getting more exposed to independent documentaries and films, many of which were centered around social issues. I became so fascinated by the visual and narrative power of these films and I knew I had to be a part of it,” Chan discussed.

As Chan became more and more involved in the realm of narrative documentary filmmaking, she realized that her dreams to raise awareness about socially charged issues was not at all unrealistic. In fact, she has gone on to work on several documentary films and shows that cast a light on various places and people around the world who share in her desire to educate the masses about important issues, be they cultural, environmental, historical, political, religious, etc. In her role as the producer of an upcoming project, Chan had the unique opportunity to bring viewers inside a world where a group of passionate individuals ensure that China’s ancient trees are protected and its legacy of woodcraft is preserved for prosperity. Similarly, when she acted as the Story Producer for Frontier Borneo, Chan was not only able to work in one of the world’s most spectacular rainforests, but she was able to do so whilst supporting their local environmental conservation efforts.

FRONTIER BORNEO 01

Frontier Borneo is a Discovery Channel documentary series showcasing a breathtaking, action-packed journey following the lives of remarkable men and women and unforgettable creatures on the third largest island on the planet. Interesting and unusual feats like dealing with home-made bombs in the oceans, exploring uncharted jungles, rescuing endangered animals and coming face to face with deadly creatures are all in a day’s work for the characters featured. Chan was asked to produce this awe-inspiring documentary in March of 2016 and later, when it premiered on February 28, 2017, it became apparent why.

“This project was an especially challenging production that was shot across 6 months in some of Borneo’s most treacherous terrain. Dixie was able to manage production of one shoot, which typically covers jungles, crocodile-infested rivers and seas, while doing the preproduction work of researching and casting of an upcoming shoot, all at the same time. Despite her ability to coordinate different aspects of the production simultaneously, she remains extraordinarily meticulous and hands on at every step and this enabled production to move forward seamlessly with minimal delay,” told Jacqueline Leow, Production Manager, who currently works at Beach House Pictures, one of Asia’s largest media company producing content for the international market.

Not only was she the most experienced producer working on the project, but she also proved to be invaluable to the entire initiative. She has an ability to juggle competing priorities with ease and to logistically map out every task involved with a project to such a degree that other cast and crew members are never left wondering what is required of them. For this particular project, Chan made it a top priority to establish and facilitate effective working relationships with her team, as well as the locals, due to the intimate nature of their filming location. She inspired each and every member involved to treat Frontier Borneo as a passion project, as opposed to an average job. In addition, her experience working in rural areas of China on other career projects gave her an advantage when liaising between crew members and local conservationists. Her adept understanding of Chinese working culture allowed her to bridge any cultural gaps they encountered and helped the planning, filming, and production processes unfold seamlessly.

“The rapport that I was so intent on building with the locals helped immensely in production, from accessing hard-to-film areas to getting information post-shoot, and even getting translators for interviews done in the tribal languages,” Chan reflected.

All in all, in order to make Frontier Borneo the true success that it was, Chan had to immerse herself mentally and physically into this expansive Malaysian rainforest and wildlife sanctuary. Whether they were shooting about marine conservation or mountain marathons, Chan was directly involved and on scene. To be so heavily engaged in such a hands-on Discovery Channel documentary is something that few producers can say they’ve ever done, let alone well enough to earn awards and accolades along the way. For Chan, however, being professionally recognized for her efforts meant little in comparison to the humbling knowledge that she and her team were able to truly celebrate the livelihood and struggles of the selfless individuals fighting to protect our Earth’s enriched wildlife and environment. Acknowledging the heroes of Borneo on such a large, influential scale gratifies her in an indescribable way and served as a safe reminder that she is doing exactly what she wants to be doing with her life.

Yayun Hsu talks pressure of producing first-ever American Influencer Awards

For award-winning film producer Yayun Hsu, being one step ahead of her work has always served her well in her field. Hsu understands better than most just how unpredictable a film set can be and learned the value of proactivity very early on in her career. She has since developed a style of producing whereby she strives to eliminate her proverbial “to-do” list on any and every set she works on. This is not to suggest that she wishes to kick up her feet and relax at work; however, it motivates her to meticulously plan each film shoot to such an extent that it could hypothetically run itself. By anticipating and accounting for any possible setbacks on set, she is always on her toes and ready to react when an issue arises. Her instinctive ability to problem solve, coupled with her desire to be an invaluable asset to any film project, makes her a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry, and she is taking her field by storm.

“I’m a problem solver at heart and I enjoy being a leader. In a book I read years back called Producer to Producer, the author noted that his students would often approach him to tell him that they could not afford a producer. To this he would reply, “You cannot afford not to have one.” This idea spoke to me and it became my goal to become invaluable as a producer in this industry. I like the idea of the crew needing me and I want to be that one producer that comes to mind whenever someone is looking to start a new project and to make it great,” told Hsu.

Throughout her career, Hsu has produced a number of highly acclaimed films, such as Because I Love You, and Caged Bird. In fact, after writing, directing, and producing the film Eli, she went on to receive prestigious awards such as Best Woman Filmmaker at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards in March 2017 and an Award of Distinction at the Canadian International Short Film Fest. Given that Eli was Hsu’s first major project for which she both directed and produced, she classifies it as a large accomplishment in her repertoire. It is one of the greatest highlights of her career thus far, and helped encourage her to continue pursuing filmmaking and producing for a living. In addition to Eli, Hsu considers producing the American Influencer Awards in November of this year as being another of her major career highlights to date.

“The American Influencer Awards were a unique accomplishment in my career. It represented my first “live” work, which came with its own new set of challenges. There were so many different responsibilities involved, from working with celebrities to coordinating with corporate sponsors, and more. I really learned a lot from the experience,” reflected Hsu.

The American Influencer Awards is an awards show for the online beauty influencer community. For the show, award-nominee video packages were played at the ceremony, and a live stream of the awards show was broadcasted on YouTube for fans of these wildly popular beauty influencers. With that, Hsu was responsible for conducting background research as it pertained to the nominees’ video packages, cutting demo video footage, securing an event location, a contact cast and crew, handling catering services, preparing props, and several other essential roles. In addition, during post-production, she helped edit and color-grade all of the event footage.

Interestingly, this was the first ever American Influencer Awards show and for that reason, Hsu was intrigued by the idea that she would be able to sculpt and shape something that would hopefully be such a success that its sponsors would like it to be replicated for years to come. Most importantly, however, she was both excited and nervous about the idea that she would be producing live content for the show. Her quest for perfection in her work grew with the understanding that there were no opportunities for re-dos. All of the content she was working with would be taken at face value, the first time and therefore, she exercised her best use of her skillset to ensure that her audiences could reap the benefits. She researched the show’s content, guests, and the style of live production heavily before she began planning, and after she gathered all of her ideas for nominee award packages, she and her team were able to narrow their ideas down to fifteen of the best packages for storyboarding. Her expertise was crucial in making sure that the entire production moved at a favorable pace and that the show’s events were shot with fluency. The show’s Executive Producer, Jay James, was blown away by Hsu’s contributions to the success of the show and hopes to be able to call on her again next year to make the show’s second annual awards ceremony as great as the first.

“Yayun demonstrated that she can listen well and perform under pressure. Her innate ability to multitask makes her a clear standout in my eyes. It also helped that many people that were in attendance at the event commented on how Yayun had helped them or made arrangements for them in advance, which totally gave the show an extra professional touch. We will definitely be calling her for our next American Influencer Awards show,” told James.

After months and months of tireless preparation, countless long hours, and ample effort, Hsu was relieved and grateful to hear the thanks and praise of her boss and clients. She felt proud and accomplished to know that she was responsible for the show’s success and she hopes to be able to continue that trend for future American Influencer Awards shows in years to come.

Annick Jaëgy talks dressing-up, showing up, and watching her dreams come true

Some say that playing dress-up begins during childhood and never truly ends. As we age, and we experience the ups and downs that life has to offer, we do our best to look our parts and to make our way in the world. For as long as she can remember, Annick Jaëgy has had a certain fascination with playing dress-up. When she was a child, her mother would allow Annick and her friends to explore her closet, trying on her 1960’s-style outfits and “playing pretend” in her wedding dress. Annick fondly recalls the way that way dressing-up in her mother’s old clothes made her feel; she felt alive in the stories that she and her friends created through the clothing and Annick knew that no matter where her life carried her, she would always have a desire to bring her ideas to life and to share them with the world around her.

Despite the fact that Annick and her friends no longer find themselves rummaging through her mother’s closet and pretending to be the characters in their make-believe worlds, she still feels a strong connection with the emotions and creativity that those memories instilled in her.

Nowadays, she spends her time nurturing her career as a successful film producer and does everything in her power to share the joys that she learned from a young age with audiences all over the world. With over fifteen years of experience in media and production, Jaëgy takes great pride in her ability to identify a great story when she sees one and works tirelessly to bring those stories to the big screen for film fanatics to enjoy at their leisure.

“I have learned that producers need to be able to tell a great script from a mediocre one, so having a creative spark has definitely helped me. As well, having vision has been crucial. Most importantly, however, having the business acumen and salesmanship necessary to execute that vision is paramount. You cannot turn a writer’s ground-breaking idea into reality without the right amount of funding, nor without a strong team behind it. You need to actually make it happen, by pulling together all the different strands,” shared Annick Jaëgy.

Fortunately for Annick, she has mastered each of those strands. Because she wasn’t always aware that production was her calling, she worked her way through the entertainment industry, trying her hand at various different jobs involved in filmmaking and learning the ins and outs of each one. It didn’t take her long to realize that she had a pressing desire to be involved in content and getting to have her hands on every aspect of the filmmaking process from one, single position. She always felt like there was something missing from her career and after producing her first film, Soledad Canyon, she knew exactly what it was. Since producing Soledad Canyon, Annick Jaëgy has gone on to work on hit films like Mackenzie and Gubagude Ko. In fact, in 2016, she became particularly excited about the opportunity to expand her skillset into the wonderful world of musical films when she was approached by renowned director, Dana Maddox, about her unique project, That Frank. Knowing of Annick’s love for music and costumes, Maddox was confident that Annick would help her execute her vision for the film and she was itching to watch the process unfold.

“Dana and I had worked on two projects together previously, including Mackenzie. She knew my style but, furthermore, she knew my love for musicals and how this love grew through my work at a London-based musical theatre company, as well as through my position as a co-producer of the show Cabaret in London,” Annick noted.

That Frank is a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s beloved musical, Merrily We Roll Along. It is set in 1976 Los Angeles where Franklin Shepherd, a once talented Broadway composer, abandons his songwriting career to become a Hollywood film producer. At the premiere of Frank’s latest blockbuster, his oldest friend and theatre critic, Mary Flynn, urges him to return to New York in order to regain his artistic credibility. Surrounded by the intoxicating adulation of his shallow admirers, Frank must choose between his new path and his old life that he worked so hard to achieve, as well as the friendships that got him there.

For Jaëgy, working on That Frank was unlike any other job she had ever done as a producer. She found that she had to alter her thinking a lot of the time to suit the unique nature of filming musical numbers. For instance, there are a lot of different elements involved in the rehearsal and filming process of a musical. Jaëgy loved learning about all of the intricacies involved in the film’s choreography, lyrics, timing, acting, etc. It was far more complex than she could have ever anticipated; however, she found that made the final product all the more rewarding. The biggest challenge came with ensuring that the production’s budget did not limit its potential. It was very important to her that That Frank did not appear to be a low budget musical and as a result of her devotion to this intention, the film far surpassed the expectations that its budget had set. She even managed to find an innovative solution to the question of fitting costumes into the budget, as her childhood dress-up days allowed her to put her 1970’s inspired fashion items to use. She felt a great joy in seeing her cast members clothed from head to toe in her own collection and was pleased to see the authenticity that they brought to the film.

After working with Annick on That Frank, Maddox had to keep reminding herself that this was Jaëgy’s first time taking the role of lead producer on a musical. She was astonished by her ability to improvise, lead, and go above and beyond what was expected of her for the betterment of the film.

“Going into this journey, I needed the support of a producer that could think creatively and fight for our project. There was only one person I wanted for the job and that was Annick. She knows how to satisfy the production needs without going over budget, yet still maintaining the artistic integrity and vision that I had for the piece. I knew she would be able to carry the burden of wrangling the cast, crew, and details of production. This, in turn, enabled me to concentrate on bringing my dream to the big screen. I could not have accomplished that without Annick’s support,” said Dana Maddox, Director.

Seeing That Frank successfully screen at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, as well as the Toronto International Independent Film Festival were dignifying reminders to Jaëgy that being a film producer is what she was born to do. In addition, she was humbled by the experience of seeing Maddox, as well as That Frank’s cast and crew beaming with joy for the duration of the film’s premiere. It was an emotional experience and one that Annick wouldn’t change for the world.

Producer Sherry Yang brings out the laughs in film ‘Cash Back’

Filmmaking, for Sherry Yang, was always where she knew her future would lie. The ability to transport audiences to different places and time was always her passion. However, she did not always know she wanted to be a producer. Early in her career, she experimented with directing, writing, and editing. In taking on many roles, she came to realize that what makes all of these jobs possible is what a producer does. Producing is fundamental to filmmaking, and allows other departments to work flawlessly and concentrate on their tasks. It was this realization that put Yang on the path to greatness. She knew at that moment that she wanted to be a producer, and work on making each and every project she took on the best it can be in every aspect. That is exactly what she does; this award-winning producer is quickly becoming a leader in her industry, and despite an established resume, she is just getting started.

Yang is known for making films that not only impress audiences, but critics as well. Her historical film The Letter won awards at eight international film festivals. A similar pattern occurred with her work on the comedy Jiaozi, the romantic drama Te Echo de Menos, and the thriller Under the Pieces. All those she works with are immensely satisfied with her work, and attribute much of their success to her capabilities as a producer.

“I worked with Sherry on two films; I believe this speaks volumes. I truly enjoyed working with her and the professionalism she brings to the table. Sherry is a producer who considers herself as part of the crew, and she is proud of that fact. She does not sit in the high chair and stay away from the set. She is always working hard along with everyone else and still making sure everyone is happy. She is always with us, working hard to make the best film possible, and when there are hiccups, she is there to fix it quickly before anyone even notices. When there is trouble, she is always there backing you up and is the glue that keeps everyone together and working on the same page. It is no mystery as to why so many are happy to work with her over and over again. When working with her, she brings out everyone’s passion, thus making the filmmaking process an enjoyable journey, and reminds us why we all chose this path,” said Director Evan Xiao.

Cash Back cast & crew
Cash Back cast and crew

Amongst the films that Yang collaborated with Xiao on is the film Cash Back. It is a dramatic, dark comedy about love and trust. After two years in the making, the film premiered at the Asians on Film Festival in March of 2016, and continued to be selected for several more festivals. Yang is proud of what the film accomplished, none of which could have happened without her. And yet, she remains modest.

“I am very happy for Evan that he was able to give homage to his professor, who the film was dedicated to, and that it went so well. When I first saw the cut of the film, I thought it was quite clever and funny. I am happy that many audiences agree with me and enjoyed the film for the clever storytelling and directing,” said Yang.

When Yang was approached by Xiao to help tell his story, she was immediately captivated. The film was a tribute to one of the director’s teachers, and she was happy to be a part of something that was so close to home for her colleague. At the time, Yang had never worked on a dark comedy, but she was eager for the chance to try something new.

“Although it’s a dark comedy, the story deals with the morality of the human being. That thin grey area. After working with him on this project, I came to realise that Evan truly likes to play with that grey area of morality, as well as the comedic aspect of the naïveté of someone who acts morally all the time. I felt that this story did it right playing with the right amount of comedic aspects and the right amount of darkness to point out the naïveté and bending of morality,” Yang described.

As the producer, Yang helped find the perfect cast and crew for the film. She set financial matters and coordinated communications between creative and production crew members. Another responsibility included location scouting. She wanted to find something vibrant, affordable within budget, and convenient for the working schedule. The story originally took place in a comic book store, but this proved to be very difficult. After spending countless hours looking at comic book stores, Yang knew they needed to come up with an alternative. When meeting with the director, they decided to alter the story slightly, and changed the setting to a candy store. This was actually a great change, says Yang, because it allowed for a few more jokes to be added to the script.

It was crucial for Yang to remain organized and communicative with all cast and crew, as well as the business owner of the candy shop when it came to scheduling. She had to carefully plan everything in order for everyone to be on the same page and have the film shoot go smoothly. Needless to say, she achieved her goal, and the film is witty and artistic.

Yang is undoubtedly a producer to keep an eye on. She is already one of the best to recently come out of China, and as the years pass, we will continue to see her name attached to some extraordinary films.

 

Top photo by Yuki Yoshimatsu

 

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.

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.”