Rising Star Spotlight: Introducing George Pullar

Accepted at the age of 17 years old, George Pullar attended the prestigious, Western Australian Academy Performing Arts, where he trained extensively in theatre and screen in its coveted three-year acting degree. Since graduating in 2017, he has forged an impressive stamp on the Australian screen and more recently, established himself in the United States and abroad.

Fresh out of drama school, George played Larry Gray on Foxtel’s A Place to Call Home for which he was recognised by the Australian Academy of Film and Television and nominated as best new talent. In the same year, he also played a supporting lead on Foxtel’s acclaimed miniseries Fighting Season about returned soldiers from Afghanistan. In 2018, he was listed by the Casting Guild of Australia as one of the nation’s rising stars. He is recognised for his work as Daniel Fletcher on Chanel 10’s hit show, Playing for Keeps, and was involved in all episodes of its two seasons.

He also voiced the role of Bradley Burrows in the Universal Animated Film, Combat Wombat. Shortly after, George played the lead role of Tyler in the Australian Feature Film, Moonrock for Monday. He was awarded by the Australian Screen Network Industry, best lead actor in a feature film. In late 2019, George scored his international break, working alongside golden-globe winner Michael Chiklis, on Paramount Plus’ Coyote. He was directed by Michelle Mclaren who is known for work on Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Since returning back to Australia in 2020, George wrote, acted, and produced his own dark comedy short film, Stonefish, set for a festival run in 2021. George has recently wrapped on the feature film It Only Takes A Night, where he plays the romantic lead. The film is also set for release in late 2021. Currently, George is filming the ABC Series, Barrons, in which he plays American Businessman and co-leading role of Bernie Hunter Junior.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with George to discuss his journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I grew up in Queensland and base myself out of Currumbin on the Gold Coast when I’m not filming. I’m a twin (with a girl) and one of four kids in a very adventurous, chaotic, big family. Proud owner of a Senior Labrador, Lord Archibald (14), and an over energised British Bulldog, Theodore (4). I love to travel particularly anywhere near the ocean or the snow and am a diehard Brisbane Lions fan.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

Honestly, I chose drama as a bludge subject in Year 11 to balance out a heavy workload. Then I broke my leg quite badly on a holiday and Drama had turned out to be my best subject. My drama teacher encouraged me to audition for the school play, seeing as I was injured and had the time, and so I did, and that was that. Pretty quickly discovered it was the only thing I’d studied that came quite naturally to me and my teacher really planted the idea that I could pursue this and make something of it. So, I auditioned for WAAPA at 17, not really expecting to get in, and then I did and that really set me up. I think teachers are pretty amazing in the way they can impact an entire life.

What do you like most about acting?

I’ve always been very curious. I ask too many questions, too quickly, I’m told. Acting gives me a chance to really satisfy that curiosity about people and life in general. I love stories of any kind, children’s books, sporting legends, at the pub, in the cinema, or over a family dinner, I feel like I’m always looking to appreciate the joy and confusion and shortcomings in humanity. I suppose because I’ve always felt that way myself and acting in a strange way, helps me understand who I am and perhaps why I’m here. It also just beats sitting at a desk or shovelling concrete.

How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?

I think they’re becoming more similar. Typically, TV can feel a lot more formulaic and the shooting pace is a lot faster. In my experience, film feels a bit more collaborative. There’s something comforting in knowing where it ends, the director has a vision that starts and finishes and so you can really arch out where your character travels. Whereas TV there’s a lot more guessing and working the fly. But ultimately it doesn’t affect how I approach it. It’s all the same for me.

What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?

I think I still suffer a bit from wanting to be ‘likeable’. That’s only natural. You want the audience to like you. But that’s not actually my job and that’s not really how it works. Audiences invest in authenticity. When they see something on the screen that they know exists or could exist in their world, they’ll invest. It’s my job to just be true to the character. Even if that means doing things or behaving in a gross way. It takes courage to do that because it’s very revealing of your own demons and flaws. But that’s what great acting is. Exposing yourself. I’m trying a lot harder to create characters you pity rather than are jealous of or impressed by. And all I have to do is watch any of Phillip Seymour Hoffman to remind myself of what this is all about.

What are your strong points as an actor?

I just genuinely care. I always care about the person I’m playing and don’t think about them as a ‘character’. I think when you truly care, you bring your own heart to it and perhaps some real vulnerability. And that’s what I like to watch on screen. I also would like to think I’m fun to work with and am always open to whatever another actor has to throw at me. I love surprises!

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

Telling the Story is the single most important thing. I know that sounds kind of obvious, but on a set, it can be very easy to be distracted by superficial details or your own self-interest. Screenplays are written as emotional machines. They’re engineered with a specific structure with peaks and troughs and escalating story beats and tension that we should all adhere to. Simplicity is key. Great directors are good at reminding you we’re just here to tell this story. That’s what it’s about. Not your abs or your need to be constantly smoking in every scene.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

In a word, uncertainty. Uncertainty about your next job. Uncertainty if what your doing is any good. Uncertainty about what your filming schedule looks like for the next 5 days because of the weather. Uncertainty whether that film you shot will ever see the day of light. Uncertainty whether your nose looks very strange on that big screen! (It’s brutal watching yourself.)

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

I think the first challenge is making sure everyone, across all the departments, is trying to bring the same script to life. Sure, the words remain the same for everyone, but we all need to be visualising the same film, and the same tone. Once you’ve got that cohesion from the production design to the actors to the DOP and so on, you give yourself a chance of creating a world that is true to that story.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I surf. Play with my dogs. Chill with my girlfriend. And read and write a lot.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

Getting to act in the first thing I’d written and being directed by one of my best friends, Megan Smart, in our first short film – Stonefish (set for release later this year). I can’t wait to act on more stuff I write and produce. It’s all-consuming and deeply satisfying.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I recently shot a US Series in Mexico alongside Michael Chiklis. He’s had an amazing career and has become somewhat of a mentor to me. He had some Hollywood stories that blew my mind. But I think everyone that works in the film industry is interesting. It’s a bizarre and bold thing to do with your life and naturally draws a fascinating crowd. I’ve always been impressed by Unit Operators, those guys and girls that set trailers up at insane hours, first to arrive, last to leave, and always seems the happiest and funniest on set. I think some of them should have been actors.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Aside from the physical differences, I reckon my little sister would crush it. She’s always been a great mimic and quick to point out the flaws I struggle to see in myself. Her interpretation would be tough to watch but probably fairly accurate.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Make my own movies. Act in them. Act in other people’s movies too. Surf. Have a family. With lots of dogs and maybe one day write children’s books. At least for my own kids.

Is there is anything else interesting you can tell us about yourself?

I have a crippling addiction to peanut butter and black coffee.

Breaking: Buddy-Comedy “Carmen & Bolude” The Only Australian Project Invited To IFF At TIFF 2021

Australian producers Yolandi Franken and Michela Carattini of Draw Your Own Box Productions were ecstatic when they received the news their feature film “Carmen & Bolude” was selected for the highly competitive Ontario Creates International Financing Forum 2021 (iff 2021) at TIFF (or Toronto International Film Festival). “All of us know this project is magic,” says Franken, “that there is a force greater than us at play.”

The news came on the heels of preparing their Generate Development Funding acquittal for Screen Australia, and Bolude Watson and Carattini, who is also the co-writer of the script, had only just finished the final draft due for the acquittal. The project had already been seven years in the making, but the final shooting script had to be written together across 13,000km, with Watson unable to get home to Sydney from Edmonton, Canada due to the pandemic. 

“Bolude would be writing dialogue into her phone in the middle of the night while breastfeeding and trying to toilet train,” says Carattini, “I was in lockdown with two young kids of my own, and I thought to myself, ‘we can do it like this, we can do it differently – however works! The entire process for us has been profoundly similar to giving birth, and on all counts, we are privileged and blessed to have an enormous amount of support and encouragement.” That support, which included Anthea Williams as script editor, Beatrix Christian as script consultant, Paul, and Akala Newman as Gadigal consultants, a Sydney-based “Quarantine Writer’s Group” and household members generously looking after children whenever possible, saw the final script completed two weeks ahead of schedule, to the celebratory news of being one of only 20 international projects – and the only Australian project – chosen for the premiere financing forum.

Now in its 16th year, the premiere two-day market serves international and Canadian producers developing mostly English-language projects and takes place in association with Toronto International Film Festival. Selected international and Canadian producers are brought together with international sales agents, US distributors, agents, equity financiers, and executive producers for brokered meetings and exclusive networking opportunities. This year the forum, which runs September 12th and 13th, 2021, will be an all-virtual event due to the pandemic. “Of course, there is nothing like those in-person networking events,” says Franken, “but being in lockdown in Sydney, we wouldn’t have been able to attend if it weren’t online this year – so that accessibility is a huge relief.” 

Projects include diverse and LGBTQ-themed narratives, female-driven stories, comedies, romance, and drama from all over the world, including teams from the UK, Brazil, Croatia, El Salvador, Finland, Greece, India, Israel, Scotland and the U.S. Event producer Larisa Gutmanis stated in the ‘IFF at TIFF 2021 Kickoff Panel,’ available on the Ontario Creates website, that IFF looks for projects in the US $1M-15M budget range of any genre except documentary and animation. “We look for originality – something we’ve never seen before,” she remarked, “All the executives want to see original material, and why a project is important now.” 

“‘Carmen & Bolude is based on Michela and my lives” says Watson, “That was the reason we wrote it: we were desperate to see a story we could relate to on the subject of multiple cultural identities and being constantly asked to choose.” Carattini adds, “For us, Australia has a unique light to shed on the subject, and we’re seeking to engage the conversation from a perspective we haven’t seen before, using laughter as a means of connection and accessibility, while still holding space for the depth of human experiences on this issue.” 

For more information, go to www.carmenandbolude.com

Rising Star Spotlight: Introducing Ashlyn Louden-Gamble

At 11 years old, Ashlyn made her screen debut starring as the title lead role of Monday in the feature film MOON ROCK FOR MONDAY, directed by Kurt Martin and also starring George Pullar and Aaron Jeffery. Ashlyn has participated in several NIDA acting workshops and currently attends an esteemed performing arts school as well as the Young People’s Theatre.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Ashlyn to discuss her journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Ashlyn Louden-Gamble, I am 13 years old and live in Port Stephens, NSW. I attend Hunter School of Performing Arts – HSPA which is a selective high school in Newcastle, NSW. Currently, I am in grade 8 and my electives are all drama-based – I am really enjoying improvisation and physical theatre.

In Port Stephens, we are surrounded by beautiful beaches and national parks. Where I live, we have kangaroos and koalas that regularly hang in our backyard and there is even an emu we see on my way to school. I just love nature!

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

When I was about 8 years old (grade 2 at school), I started drama classes with O’Grady Drama School. My mum thought drama classes which was a great opportunity for me to overcome my shyness and unleash my creative side. My cousin and I were always making iMovie’s, which kept our family entertained, but the first play I ever did was the Pied Piper (with Helen O’Grady). I played a pirate and a rat! I had so much fun and discovered I loved acting.

In January 2019 I completed a NIDA screen acting course and soon after that I had representation and started auditioning for films… not long after my first audition, I was lucky to be cast as Monday in the feature film Moon Rock for Monday! It all happened very quickly.

What do you like most about acting?

I love the freedom to pretend – I enjoy acting as someone else, thinking and feeling what life is like for that character. I like that being a different character gives you the opportunity to look at life and the world in different ways.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

I think many actors would say the auditioning process… there can be a lot of unknowns about the role, things outside of your control, and the “No’s” can be quite disappointing – especially when you have your heart set on a role. I just try to approach each audition as a creative outlet, show my take on the character and just have fun with the whole process! And keep my fingers and toes crossed for that “Yes.”

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

Initially, scripts are a lot of words and black print on pages of white paper. In bringing the script and your character to life, you must have a great imagination and be able to believe the story is your reality – the world it presents, the people in it, your experiences, your thoughts, and your feelings. I also think being able to empathise with your character in a way you think and feel like them is important. You cannot let your own feelings take over.

It is what I enjoy most about acting… you get to experience other worlds and life as someone else.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

School! But I am lucky to attend HSPA where I can study drama and join various ensemble groups and productions.

I also like to try new things and gain experience in as many courses as possible like drama, singing, accent training, aerial silks and I enjoy sports too and spending time with family and friends.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

Playing ‘Monday’ in MRFM was an amazing experience! I learned so much, met so many creative and talented people and travelled to new places. Coober Pedy is such a surreal place. One of the biggest highlights was attending Adelaide Film Festival where I got to watch MRFM for the first time – seeing it all come together was so exciting and seeing myself on the big screen was a little weird. But cool!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

There are so many talented and creative people in the industry. So much goes into making a film and so many passionate people are involved. Seeing people do what they love is interesting to me and what I hope for in my career.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

It would have to be Me! Only I could be me. Plus, I am quite young still so not sure who else. But I would love the chance to work with Tom Holland, Julia Roberts, Dwayne Johnston, and Hugh Jackman.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I would definitely like to do more feature films and screen acting as well as finish school. I have also been thinking about working in either a pet shop, florist, or crystal store.

If there is anything else or interesting, you can tell us about yourself?

I am a massive foodie! I love watching cooking shows and I even follow a few food critics on Instagram (which I am recently new to).

Pho and bubble tea also happens to be my comfort foods.

Australian Intimacy Coordinators Michela Carattini (“Nine Perfect Strangers”) & Steph Power (“Five Bedrooms”) Join Forces To Share World-Class Expertise

Michela Carattini is an Intimacy Coordinator and Company Director at Key Intimate Scenes (KIS), Australia. Her IC screen credits include “Nine Perfect Strangers,” “Blaze,” “Birdeater,” “Learning The Curvature Of The Earth” and “This River.” She co-created and co-instructed the first Intimacy Coordination Workshop for Directors at AFTRS, was a member of the panel which drafted Australia’s National Intimacy Guidelines, and co-founded the Australasian Intimacy Coordination Network. She developed the only Australian training curriculum for Intimacy Coordinators, and is one of the only people in the world to be fully insured under the title of “Intimacy Coordinator”. Specialising in cultural competency and mental health, she has been an expert speaker/interviewee on Intimacy Coordination for IF Magazine, FilmCentral Magazine, Cinema Femme Magazine, ABC News, SPA, WIFT, SFAA, and Mecury CX Screenmakers.

Steph Power is Australia’s leading Entertainment Industry Welfare specialist. Her ground-breaking production and acting welfare services are internationally recognised. Her informed practices are endorsed by actor Hugh Jackman who refers to Steph ‘as a leader in her field’. As an Intimacy Coordinator, she supports culturally appropriate performance coordination, and has conducted industry welfare training for West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, JMC Academy, National Theatre Drama School, Melbourne Theatre Company, WIFTAustralia, MEAA Equity Wellness, Dame Changers, and has contributed to the Covid Safe Set Guidelines for SPA and Screen Australia. Steph has worked on Covid sets as an Intimacy Coordinator for the film “Prawn,” the feature “Petrol for Arenamedia,” the TV series “5 Bedrooms” for Channel 10/Paramount Plus, and is attached to the film “Secret Dresses.” She also created a new role titled Production Welfare Coordinator on the ABC Series “Itch 2.” This work covers mental health risk assessment and planning, HOD training, and cast and crew support. As part of her advocacy, she is working with key players to further develop this role across the screen and broadcast industries. Steph provides consultation on psychological, cultural, or sexually diverse content and has a private counselling practice at her suites in Malvern. She is a graduate of the renowned WAAPA Acting School, has a degree in Directing Performance from WAAPA, a post-grad in Psychotherapy, and a Masters in Counselling. Her diverse qualifications bring depth and insight to her work.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Michela and Steph to discuss their journey in the entertainment industry and their latest projects and here’s what went down:

Who are you and what do you do in the film industry?

Michela: I’m Michela Carattini, and I’m an actor at AAA Talent, a filmmaker at Charcol Pictures, and an intimacy coordinator and company director at Key Intimate Scenes. I’m also mixed (Celtic Australian, Indigenous Latin American), CALD, multi-local, multi-lingual, multi-national, able, queer, cis-gender female, and a primary carer of young children. You wanted to know all that right?

Steph: I’m Steph Power and I’m an industry welfare specialist and intimacy coordinator at stephpower.com and founder of the original Intimacy Coordinators Australia forum. I’m also known as an acting coach, script advisor, and creative producer. I am an 8th generation Australian and have two children, both equally into films and all things entertainment.

How long have you worked in the industry and what was your journey?

Michela: Let’s see, I’m 41 years old, so…I have worked professionally in the industry for 28 years – with a few breaks trying to make a dent in human rights abuses. I started off as an actor/singer/dancer/choreographer in musical theatre and graduated from AMDA in NYC. I led and supported Off-Broadway and U.S. national tours when suddenly I was watching the second plane fly into the second tower from my window on September 11th, 2001. It made me want to understand human behaviour better, and I ended up with a BA in Psychology from Columbia University and a Masters in Criminology (specialising in ‘Violence Against Women’) from Sydney University. I worked in that area for about seven years, in New York, the Czech Republic, and Australia, until I had my first son. Who knew acting was a fall-back career? It provided an escape from life as a carer with a flexible schedule to boot. The joy, the pain, the life I had experienced, both vicariously and first hand, made me a more interesting storyteller, and I got a lot of work in film and ‘straight’ theatre, as well as producing my own work. I kept trying to put my two career paths together, noticing that my fellow actors were struggling with many issues for which I had the expertise, including consent, coercion, abuse, boundaries, trauma, and mental health. There was suicide, self-harm, exploitation, straight-up sexual assault, and just plain confusion about how to go about things everywhere I looked. I myself struggled with the occupational hazards of being an actor without clear production structures that could minimise those harms. When I started training with those who had established themselves as ‘intimacy coordinators’ in other countries, I was already developing the work on sets here. I am grateful for that overseas training, and it exposed me to international standards and strengthened my work in certain areas to be sure, but having now experienced what is on offer, I am continually impressed with the truly world-class expertise that exists within Australia and New Zealand already. I mean it! There are real gaps in the overseas training, not least of which is mental health, cultural competency, and legal literacy, which is what drove me to prioritize those approaches in the Australian curriculum and seek out those leading the way here.

Steph: I’ve been in the industry for 36 years, but as a professional for 28 years after graduating from the renowned WAAPA Acting school. After two years working in Sydney as an actress, I moved to London where I worked on contracts at companies like Polygram Films (script department) and Channel Four (programming) to pay rent while enrolled in the Actors Centre London. On my return to Australia, I took a job in Perth as an assistant director on Ship to Shore. I then moved to Melbourne, returned to acting, met and married a young filmmaker who became a successful editor, and had my first child. During this time I began a lifelong journey with coaching actors. I completed my degree in performance directing at WAAPA and in 2010 set up Enigma Films. It was losing two actor friends to suicide and seeing other industry friends suffer due to sysemic industry that shifted my focus to an urgent need for actor and crew welfare in professional settings to make the industry a supported workplace. In 2015 I began developing new practice strategies while studying for a postgrad degree in Psychotherapies and Counselling. I researched actors’ emotional vulnerabilities in their work especially in intimate and psychological material, and researched industry systems that impacted creative life. One of my research papers, “Being an Actor”, was a programme of strategies to alleviate mental health impacts in performance settings. On the back of my research in actor welfare and of set practices and crew issues, I set up stephpower.com and moved to Melbourne in 2017 where I completed my Masters in Counselling. Since I was already working with actors in performance welfare as half my business, registering the Intimacy Coordinators Australia as a business name and launching my Intimacy Coordinators Australia Facebook Page in 2019 was a natural move (Not to be confused with another ICA who has a website in this name but is unregistered). In 2020 at the start of the pandemic, I was invited by SPA and Screen Australia to deliver my Covid Safe Set Welfare guidelines to strategise protections for actors and their support crew. With an increasingly ‘welfare friendly’ industry thanks to changes brought about by the #metoo movement and now COVID, I am continuing to advocate for more on-set welfare roles such as the Production Welfare Coordinator which I first implemented on an ABC series in 2020. I love the work I do right across industry welfare and I love developing and improving my role as an Intimacy Coordinator.

What is intimacy coordination?

Michela: The role coordinates and facilitates the industry’s best practices for the portrayal of intimate scenes. This includes expertise in consent, sexual dramaturgy, movement direction and masking, modesty garments and barriers, risk and controls assessments, advocacy and the mitigation of power dynamics, minimizing secondary trauma, and localised mental health support as required.

Steph: It’s essentially supporting the right for protection of a performer’s wellbeing in any physical and emotionally vulnerable scenes. The role of Intimacy Coordinator is often limited in its general interpretation, however, the role itself – as it becomes more explored by people of different cultures, race, gender, sexual diversity, and skill backgrounds, including practitioners like myself with unique qualifications in performance, directing and mental health – will increase the specialisations that are employed in this role. While the specifics of consent, risk management, actor welfare, and shaping performance are required in most settings, I don’t promote the role being limited by overseas gate-keepers and want to see equally knowledgeable Australians culturally define this role themselves. Particularly because the IC role can be used in unscripted and factual formats not just scripted. For example, I was recently approached to IC a project with both real and dramatised women telling personal stories of childbirth and loss. I knew I was perfectly equipped to help, but a straight choreography-focused IC would not have been appropriate, as this project required solid mental health knowledge. This is why Michela and I teamed up because we know there can be complex depths to screen content that for mental health risk aversion require a more qualified practitioner.

What are some of the filming activities that require an IC on set?

Michela: The Australian Intimacy Guidelines (Nov 2020) are very clear that any nudity or simulated sex should have an IC on set. These guidelines have now been incorporated into SPA-MEAA’s National Guidelines for Screen Safety (Jun 2021). However, there are many other reasons you may want to have an IC on set, including any particularly vulnerable circumstances, such as a large power differential, cultural safety, or managing mouth-to-mouth risks in the age of COVID. The Australian industry has really been at the forefront of this (COVID physical and mental risk mitigation), being one of the only countries able to shoot content right through the pandemic.

Steph: Scripted and unscripted or live performances can have intimacy across drama, comedy, documentary, even music videos, and art-based performance. When I read a script and there is a scene where a performer is physically and/or emotionally exposed I assess that scene, do risk mitigation, and work with the actor’s own welfare status to decide if that scene is requiring intimacy coordination on set.

Who does the IC protect and why?

Michela: The IC is an expert consultant that can mitigate the inherent power dynamics on set and advise on industry best practices to better protect actors’ safety and mental health, crew safety, and ultimately production, in being able to show they have met their safety obligations and delivered best practice. No matter how nice a producer or director maybe, their roles have inherent coercive power over cast and crew. I am also a film producer, and today I would never IC my own set because I am aware that my position of power as a producer makes me unable to obtain boundaries and freely-given consent the way an IC, who has no power to hire or fire, is able to do.

Steph: I say to actors, directors, and producers separately. I’m here to protect your best interests. By positioning a third party into the process, the IC protects the actor’s consented safety measures while supporting the director’s vision and implements necessary duty of care and legal protections for the producers. It’s not just the actors who are concerned about physical boundaries of touch, I’ve had directors concerned about actors getting too familiar. I’m forever hearing a new story that makes me reassess and expand my thinking. Bottom line, anyone involved in the telling of intimate performance content should have welfare safety protections so they can get on with the job and not be concerned for their wellbeing. This includes working respectfully with the crew on closed set intimate shoots. A good IC always checks in with the First AD regarding closed set crew care prior to the shooting of intimate scenes.

What are some of the tools and methods used? Why are these important?

Michela: The KIS method incorporates mental health, legal and cultural competence approaches that inform our practice from the inside out. Our risk and control documents are developed specifically for this work, which requires continuing consent, flexible assessments, and creative solutions. This helps to minimise coercion and secondary traumatization, giving creatives space within which to ‘play’ and let go in safety. One actor I worked with described it as ‘a bungee cord’ with which she then felt free to ‘jump off the cliff.’ In particular, we as an industry ask our actors from marginalised communities to re-enact their own and their community’s traumas, and we must be aware and responsible for the occupational work hazards that go along with that.

Steph: I agree with everything Michela says regarding the documentation process, I use an IC-specific script co-joined with actor consent forms to map out the intimacy boundaries during rehearsals. I also consult on actor welfare, waivers, wardrobe intimacy covers, the line producer regarding any risk assessments, the safety or covid officer for updated set protocols or risks, and standby wardrobe for on-set changes. I want to be clear that an IC like myself trained in mental health does not therapise an actor. However, that skill is helpful in recognising when an actor is uncomfortable on a somatic level that is not obvious to the untrained eye. This improves your ability to assess risk so you can respond appropriately as an IC. I’ve picked up vulnerabilities with actors who don’t want to mention it because of wanting to placate everyone and then when they do say, “actually, you know I had a bad experience with another actor or scene which really impacted me so yes I wouldn’t mind you being on set”, the actor instantly feels relieved when I’m able to read their non-verbal cues. Young actors are especially great maskers when they want a job!

Tell us about your new business venture, and what you do, your approach.

Michela: Steph and I decided to join forces because we admired each other’s work. We were a natural fit as we were both mental health professionals, who also had a background in academic research and as trained, working actors. She’s just also a wonderful human being, and I appreciate her compassion as a fellow parent and actor welfare activist to no end! We kept reading about overseas intimacy coordinators in the Australian media, and both of us felt it was important to support our fellow Australians in this work, especially when they are of such high calibre!

Steph: Though different in personality, life stage, and cultural background, I think Michela and I share the belief that Australia should not be looking outward, but self-defining the role of an intimacy coordinator. We should look towards experts in Australia who have researched and developed welfare tools in performance here for years. As Australian ICs we believe we must, as a priority, address the individual cultural needs, systems, and power dynamics within our own country before adopting attitudes to intimacy coordination that do not fit our own industry systems – and also adapt and conduct IC education here accordingly. Australians need to look at their own knowledge base and voice for this role.

Who can become an intimacy coordinator (what qualifications do you need, and where can you get trained)?

Michela: As with any position, I think it’s worth looking at a person’s resume (what is their training, qualifications, and experience?), their work (do you like it?), and who they are as a whole person (are they the right fit for this production?). KIS has created the first Australia-specific training curriculum for intimacy coordinators, as well as the first training program based in Australia, full stop. Our curriculum has been endorsed by overseas leaders in the field, but most importantly, by local leaders across fields and ethnicities, including Australian First Nations elders. Outside of this, there are only overseas training programs.

Steph: Well I can’t comment on overseas training programs because I don’t personally recommend them – mainly due to the lack of research and mental health training of the people running them, their predominant focus on choreography which doesn’t equip anyone for factual unscripted content, and the fact their certs are not recognised by education providers. I’d rather see ICs in Australia train here, use pre-existing qualifications and learn under experienced Australian ICs. For a designated training course in IC, I do however recommend KIS as Michela’s qualifications and course provide comprehensive learning on welfare, and we are in discussion about how we can work together to expand training here in the future. I myself educate on intimacy with workshops to industry providers, educators, and individuals.

Is IC a new thing, what made it relevant?

Michela: To me, it’s kind of like asking if consent is a new thing. No, it’s not, but our understanding of it is continually changing. The industry’s understanding of the need for this role, like our understanding of consent, is tied to our understanding of power dynamics, which we often put in terms of gender and race issues. Post #metoo and #blacklivesmatter, it’s certainly the zeitgeist to consider the nuances of consent in our industry, so I think it does feel to a lot of people that this role has suddenly come out of those movements, but that’s not really the case. To quote Kaja Dunn, a contemporary for whom I hold the utmost respect: “As ICs, we stand on the shoulders of many.” In particular in marginalised communities, there has been recognition of the importance of consent and the importance of safety in our storytelling much earlier. We now have scientific research, from neuroscience and from psychology, which provides evidence for the fact that, when we pretend things, there can be real biological effects, which validates for Western culture the wisdom of our First Nations peoples, who incorporated ritual into storytelling, which we now recognize as an essential tool for minimizing secondary trauma. If you look at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, who was starting to bring in this work in the 1960s in her writings on Black Theatre, and Tonia Sina, one of my mentors in the US, who wrote a thesis in 2006 and used this title that we use now, this ‘Intimacy Director’ or ‘Intimacy Coordinator’ title that has really caught on. At the same time as progress was being made there, Steph was building the concept of ‘on-set welfare’ in Australia, and Jennifer Ward-Leeland was developing ‘intimacy guidelines’ in New Zealand. In England, Ita O’Brien was developing the work through Laban and dance and choreography. So, you know, it hasn’t come out of just one country or one person and it hasn’t really been as recent as it seems. What I think is recent is the understanding and acceptance that the role is necessary, and that, like seatbelts, this will become a normalised feature of our safety repertoire.

Steph: Yes, the recent movements helped make the role essential, the exploration of the role of intimacy coordination was used within academic research and development by those like myself doing studies in performance welfare much earlier. I used to use the words ‘intimate performance welfare’ as I was referring to ‘actor welfare’. As is the case for years there have been many people all over the globe tediously researching performance methodologies and the neurology and psychology of acting and performer welfare, before those who defined themselves in the role. I know of several university fellows who were researching actor welfare, mental health, and performance care strategies when I did my own research. However, when an idea is placed within mainstream settings, that is when it gets exposure. It has also been when this role first was limited by definition.

What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of working in this industry?

Michela: Favourite – That magic that happens when a collaboration of artists creates something truly greater than the sum of their parts…and when that product is able to affect or validate the thinking and being of others because that story was told.

Least Favourite: Artists as a whole are so undervalued in our culture. They give such invaluable gifts, and at great sacrifice. Even within the industry, there is still this sense of hierarchy, fiercely protected by gatekeeper after gatekeeper. I think historically creatives have had to wield power and sacrifice mental health in order to be treated with respect. I sincerely hope intimacy coordination will support changing this aspect of the culture.

Steph: Favourite – Well I love acting with a passion so I feel an instant kinship and protection towards actors. I could work 7 days a week doing what I do to create better support systems for actors than the zero support system on offer at the time I was an actor. You had to look after yourself in performance settings and there were stories we all shared as actors that only made me more determined to pursue this work. Actors to me as storytellers are untapped treasures.

Least Favourite: Industry people who don’t support others. I think that falls into a number of categories including unfriendly competitive behaviours. I think if you have a dream and really believe in something, go for it and only listen to your own voice.

What are some of the most challenging aspects of being an IC?

Michela: At the moment, I think many people are still confused about what we do and don’t do, particularly if they have never worked with an IC. I get a lot of “Michela’s here – does anyone need help with their sex life?” jokes or scoffing, “How exactly did you get this job?”. The other major challenge is self-care; it’s a role that requires an immense amount of bravery, and among powerful players.

Steph: I think for me right now it’s working with Australian directors or producers who have read an article by the UK or US IC gatekeeper who has scared them off using an IC! I’ve been pretty lucky most of the time, but I always make a point of explaining how I work and my understanding of the needs of both actors and directors. We think differently in this country and I understand the concerns of directors enough to navigate my positioning in the process.

What are some of the films, actors, and directors that you worked on as an IC?

Michela: People always want to hear about the names they know – so yes, I was the intimacy coordinator on Nine Perfect Strangers with Nicole Kidman, Tiffany Boone, Samara Weaving, Manny Jacinto, and Melvin Gregg, and on Blaze, with Yael Stone, Josh Lawson and Simon Baker, but I also love the queer stage piece I IC’d called Set Piece, and This River, the little short that could, which ended up winning Naomi Fryer ‘Best Director’ at Flickerfest. Different kinds of productions with differing scopes and budgets really have different intimacy coordination needs, so it keeps me on my toes!

Steph: Ha! I naturally err on naming names but I’m currently attached to 5 Bedrooms TV series for Channel 10/ Paramount + and just finished on the feature Petrol for Robert Connolly’s company Arenamedia, also an independent film Prawn for new director Ella Carey. I’m due to start on Secret Dresses (lockdowns willing!) and I’m also an educator at JMC Academy Film School and The National Theatre Drama School in performance welfare. It’s been a busy year. I think to bring the industry up to speed with overall performance welfare we need to educate from the top down and bottom up right across industry platforms.

Were there any important/memorable moments on set when you felt you made a difference?

Michela: Well, yes, lots. I know just having an IC on set puts people on their best behaviour. For some actors, you can see the relief in their faces and bodies that someone cares about their Consent (with a capital “C”), and they get excited about using intimate scenes to reveal characterisation and story. Actors say things to me like “I’ve never met anyone who talks like you” or “who really listens like you.” And producers are like “this is so great – we avoid tonnes of expensive, time-consuming, awkward negotiations with lawyers and agents, cause you’re there to sort the wording for nudity and simulated sex clauses.” But maybe my proudest moment was in the closing interview for this incredible young woman I worked with on a feature, who said, “Because of you, I will never agree to do something that makes me feel unsafe and I don’t want to do. I look at scripts now sometimes, and just go, ‘no, that’s not for me.’” She’s fourteen! I just thought, wow, how I wish I started my career with that sense of self-knowledge and empowerment.

Steph: Oh yes, on every job. Especially with young actors, you know you have increased their comfort level and their access to joy and play within rehearsals. I think the role really is key in enabling actors to give their best performances in those scenes. I had two young actors aged 16 and 18 doing a simulated sexual act, which is very young. I really am conscious about knowing this cohort’s boundaries and needs at an age when they may not be able to articulate them. When they automatically say yes to anything I continue the conversation past that automatic yes. I also had a middle-aged actor with previous bad experiences with intimate scenes, and we worked on re-framing her narrative away from placing herself to the character, the character’s individual nature, and experience of sexuality…when we did that, it was like a switch went off and she bloomed, it wasn’t about her personal experience of sex, she then had a lot of fun with her character’s performance in the scenes. This is one of the reasons I am so grateful I have that behavioural training as a backstop, because I know a simple question or way of phrasing from counselling experience that can switch things 180 degrees for an actor. I love seeing a nervous actor on Day One become the most confident actor on set after working with me. I often roll up and go, is this the same actor? It’s fantastic! When you show up for someone’s vulnerabilities and provide that support for performers- and the production is there for them by employing you – my gosh, actors bloom!

Meet The Woman Behind The August Issue Of FilmCentral Magazine: Emmy Winner Jodi Long

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Film, television, and stage veteran Jodi Long, best known for her roles in “Sex & the City,” “Sullivan & Son,” and “The Hot Chick” recently won her first Emmy for “Outstanding Supporting Actress” on behalf of her role as the bold and fabulous “Mrs. Basil E” on Netflix’s “Dash & Lily.” She is Lily’s stylish and extravagant great-aunt who offers wisdom and pushes them to enjoy life. She is also the glue that ties Dash and Lily together. Interesting fact: Her character is an homage to the eccentric character from the novel “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” She is the mentor and best friend we wish we all had and were! Dash & Lily was nominated for a total of 6 Daytime Emmy© Awards including a nod for “Outstanding Young Adult Series.”

Although best known for her roles as the power lesbian ‘Patty’ in HBO’s “Sex and the City” and her role as the Korean mother in The Hot Chick (“Ling Ling! You forgot your bling bling!), Long has been working consistently in Hollywood for decades following her roles in hit TV series “Café American,” “All-American Girl” and “Miss Match.” She starred on Vince Vaughn’s TBS sitcom “Sullivan & Son” playing ‘Ok Cha,’ the ever-amusing Korean immigrant mother of ‘Steve’ played by comedian Steve Byrne. Long’s extensive list of TV and film credits also includes “Franklin & Bash,” “Desperate Housewives,” and Beginners alongside Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. Not only limited to acting, Long is also a talented filmmaker creating an award-winning documentary Long Story Short, her personal family story which tells the tale of her Chinese-Aussie tap dancer father and Japanese-American showgirl mother (‘Larrie & Trudie’) who became a popular husband-and-wife nightclub act in America in the ’40s and ’50s even landing a performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Born and raised in Queens, Long graduated from the High School for Performing Arts in New York and graduated with a BFA from the acting conservatory at SUNY Purchase. Long’s love for acting came from traveling with her vaudevillian parents and growing up backstage which eventually led her to star in her first Broadway show at just 7 years old in Sidney Lumet’s Nowhere To Go But Up. After an illustrious theater career in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions, Long would eventually win an Ovation Award for the 2002 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song (her father starred in the original production in 1958). She also starred in Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s theater production of The World Of Extreme Happiness which ran in both Chicago and New York last year.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Jodi to discuss her recent win at the Emmy Awards and here’s what went down:

This is obviously a very personal project for you. What was your reaction when you saw these nominations pop onto the screen?

I didn’t see the nominations pop on a screen until the day of the actual Awards ceremony. So by then, that was the least of what was going to happen in the next few minutes! The day I found out I was nominated, it came in an email from the showrunner/creator of Dash And Lily, writer Joe Tracz. He created such a delicious part in Mrs. Basil E that I was so happy to hear the news from him first.

Of course, we definitely have to congratulate you on your Emmy win this year! Can you describe the feeling you had when you heard your name called and that moment you held that Emmy in your hands?

Thank you! I was stunned with disbelief when I heard my name called, can someone pinch me so I know I’m not dreaming?! Holding the Emmy? Exhilarating!

Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas

You were nominated for “Outstanding Supporting Actress” on behalf of your role as “Mrs. Basil E” on Netflix’s “Dash & Lily.” Can you tell us more about your role in this TV series?

I play the Great Aunt of the main character Lily. She’s a Broadway musical diva who is very rich, very grand, and quite eccentric in a bohemian way. She is also very wise and a bit of a fairy godmother to Lily. Like Glinda with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Mrs. Basil E is always asking the right question at the right time, encouraging Lily to make her own decisions.

What sort of person is going to relate to this character?

Everyone, young and old! I mean, who doesn’t want a fairy godmother in their life right?

How is this character like you? Different?

Well, I have been on Broadway doing musical theater in the revival of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song playing a character who had quite a lot of stage presence and “je ne sais quoi”. I’m different in that I don’t lounge around my house in sequined caftans with rings on every finger!

What’s the biggest challenge to taking on this role?

The biggest challenge was it was freezing in NYC while we were shooting in my fabulous townhouse answering my front door. I had hand warmers under and in every part of my costume just to keep warm!

If you could actually play any other character in this series, who would it be?

I think I won the lottery with Mrs. Basil E even if I was young enough to play Lily.

How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?

There is really no difference between working in front of a camera for a movie and TV series except the time you get to do a scene. With a TV series, if you are lucky enough to get more than one season, you and the writers have more time to understand and develop a character which usually yields you a bigger arc.

Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas

What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?

I don’t feel I have any weak points! The most important thing for an actor is to be in the moment of a scene and take it a moment to moment.

What are your strong points as an actor?

I guess you would classify me as a character actor. I like to challenge and stretch myself as an actor and subsequently have a large range. I am also not afraid of taking chances as I explore a scene.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

If you mean on a set, I am not a person who can read a book! Some actors like to retreat into a book. I have to stay focused on the world and character I am inhabiting. I can read a magazine or check email, but nothing too involving as I like to stay focused. When I am not working, I do a lot of yoga, garden, and do Tai Chi.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

The hardest part is sometimes you can be on a great work roll and sometimes it’s slow. You never really know why but that’s when it’s important to keep your center and be creative anyway. As an Asian American woman actor, the most difficult part at the beginning of my career was to be cast in parts that weren’t specifically Asian. In those days, Asian written parts were few and far between. But I was and still am determined to change things for more inclusive casting. My part as Mrs. Basil E in Netflix’s Dash And Lily, for which I won an Emmy, was originally played by Ingrid Bergman (in the movie version) and then by Lauren Bacall (in the tv movie). It’s been a long time coming but now that’s progress.

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

The good ones trust you. The bad ones will try to micromanage you if you let them.

Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

It really depends on the script and the role because each has its own challenges. Some require research into a character or a way of life and some just learning lots of lines!

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

I think an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress is pretty memorable!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The most interesting people I’ve met have all been artists and creative types. Why? Because most of the ones I know are critical thinkers and I enjoy hearing different points of view and how they manifest within their creative process. Don’t get me wrong, business-minded folks can be very creative thinkers too.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

We’ll leave that up to the casting director (laughs)!

Can you tell the readers any new projects you have coming up that you are excited about?

I have a movie coming out in September, although I can’t say what yet. And I am currently in talks for my one-woman show SURFING DNA to be produced on the East Coast.

What advice would you give anyone who is looking to follow in your footsteps?

Follow your dream and keep the naysayers away. Work on your craft and let your instincts guide you. Most importantly, do what you love, for even though you will work hard, it will never really be just work, it will be creative PLAY.

Photo Credit: Jim Krantz

One On One With A Professional Stuntwoman: Introducing Jackie Murray

Jackie Murray is an accomplished martial artist, gymnast, dancer, and business owner. In the film and television industry, she is a successful and dedicated assistant director, production manager, stuntwoman, and actress.

Jackie was born and raised in a Martial Arts family and gained much experience training in locations all across the world including Hong Kong, China, the U.S.A, and her home, Australia. Her primary style is Kung Fu, and she is trained in Karate, Wu Shu, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Tai Chi, including the traditional weaponry of these arts. She is also a proficient Gymnast and is an accredited Level 1 Gymnastics Australia coach.

For many years, Jackie has held ownership over her family’s Martial Arts studio, which she herself expanded to include tuition in Dance, Gymnastics, and Parkour. She is an extremely successful Master, who in 2011, was inducted into the ISKA’s (International Sport Karate Association) Hall Of Fame twice and awarded the title: ‘Female Instructor of the Year’.

Having entered the Film and TV Industry as a child actress, Jackie’s passion for both the Performing Arts and Martial Arts led to her unite the two when she began to pursue Stunts. Here, her skills truly flourished and she showed not only promise as a Stuntwoman but through much experience and training, expanded herself to undertake roles as an Assistant Director -Production Manager and also Safety Assist(WHS).

Jackie has been involved in the Film and TV Industry since childhood, appearing in several commercials and short films. Over the last 10 years, she has gained notable successes as a Stuntwoman for tackling high-risk jobs including multiple full-body burns. She has also gained multiple acting roles in which she has been able to align both her Acting Persona and Stunt Persona to complete both dialogues-heavy and physical roles.

FilmCentral magazine recently caught up with Jackie to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I am a company owner x 4; an actress, stuntwoman, first Assistant Director, Assistant Stunt Coordinator, and Film and TV Safety Supervisor.

What are some of the most known projects you have worked on?

Marvel, The Kingsman, The Bold & the Beautiful, Home & Away, Mavrix, Love you like that, Wyrmwood, The Moth Effect, (Gold with Zac Effron)

-What are your role/s in the film industry?

Stunt woman, Assistant Stunt Coordinator, 1st AD, Actress, Producer, and Safety Supervisor.

What do you like most about what you do?

The Variety of roles I can do.

How dangerous is a stunt job?

Stunt always will have danger attached to the job but with all the safety precautions and training and equipment we now have access to makes our job so much safer to do.

What training and qualifications are required?

There are many qualifications and lots of training that must be done to work within the stunt field. There is also a grading system that must be met and a panel of people run under the MEAA that approve you and your application to become a stunt performer.

There is also a number of levels that you work your way up. When you first get accepted into the stunt world you are known as a SAP and then you apply to work your way up the ranks. See the stages below :

-SAP (Stunt actor provisional)
– Stunt Actor
-Safety Supervisor
– Assistant Stunt Coordinator
_ Stunt Coordinator

Is there an age limit to stunt work?

Too young or too old? Yes, starting age of 18 yrs. However, you can you a younger specialist in a field and request a dispensation from the MEAA Stunt Panel.

Did you find it difficult to work as a stunt woman in a male-driven environment?

Yes, when I first started they were getting the male stuntmen to dress as a woman to do the stunts even when there was a Female stuntwoman available. Times have changed a lot now and there are so many stunt women working within the industry and it’s great to see.

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

There is so much out there in the way of learning… I have a rule that I live by and that is to learn at least one new thing a day. One thing I love is that directors are becoming more accepting of Stunt Coordinators and Stunt Professionals helping out with the actions scenes and having more say in the direction of action scenes and how to shoot and edit them or now more and more we are seeing 2nd unit Action director credits.

What are some of the difficulties of the entertainment business?

The long hours we do and trying to also have a family and children and the travel.

What are the different sorts of stunts?

Wow, there are so many to list and we would need this full magazine to list them all…….. But here a few of the most common used regularly:

-Basic Trip and Falls
– Driving Sequences from basic driving to precision driving to racing, crashing, rolling, and exploding cars.
– Car knockdowns
– Jerk backs
– High Falls
– Fire both on our bodies and explosive fires
– Gun & weapons
-Water & Boat
– Motor Bikes
– Animals
And I could keep going and going…

What is involved in performing a stunt?

Stunts can be very basic to doing things that we think are never possible. What’s involved in a stunt no matter how basic still holds risk and the stunt person and all involved need to be well trained and highly skilled to make it look amazing in a safe way.

So training is a must also making sure preparation of what’s involved is fully thought out and rehearsed over and over to rule out all the risk and show all the possibilities in making a stunt look and work to its full potential in keeping stunt safe but as real as possible so the viewers watching the stunt feel like they are there when it’s happening.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

Okay, so here is yet another long answer that I may need pages for (laughs).

When I am not on set filming which is not very often, I am a mother of 3 amazing children (So cleaning, cooking, school, shopping, and all mother and taxi duties). I am a wife so basically add that to mother of 4. I own 4 companies so working on all the paperwork and everything it takes to run a business with 25 staff. I find time to train and I also prep scripts and do script breakdowns for Safety reports and 1st AD scheduling along with Assist stunt coordinating doing stunt breakdowns and budgeting etc…

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have met so many famous actors and would take forever to list them all but some of my favourite for many different reasons are Zac Effron, Rebel Wilson, John Jarrod, Hugh Jackman, Hugh Sheridan, David Wenham, and Susie Porter.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you? Me.

Rising Star To Watch Out For In 2021: Introducing Kathy Luu

Kathy Luu is an actor, director, photographer, and writer. Born in Sydney to Vietnamese refugee parents, she studied law and film at UNSW, before becoming an actor. Creating innovative short content videos and visuals for social media is part of Kathy’s creative practice. She is inspired by work that is bold, funny, unique, playful, and crazily creative. Her film The Real Zombie Housewives has won international awards for its originality and comedy.

She can be last seen acting in the NBC comedy The Good Place, and domestically soon to be released, the first Asian-Australian lead rom-com, Rhapsody of Love as the lead and associate producer. She is currently in post-production for her web series Zombie Therapy as director, co-producer, and actor.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Kathy to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

They say we carry the unlived lives and dreams of our parents. My parents, though factory workers by day in their early years of living in Australia, were at heart romantics, poets, artists, philosophers, dreamers, and great humanists. This explains my love for the arts and also why I did not finish law school! So love, art, beauty, creativity, movement, care for humanity, delight, and freedom (when I remember!) is who I am in more core essence – to express and live that in my daily life and through my art is what I am about in a paragraph.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

My first acting gig was when I was 6 years old – cast as Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ in the primary school play. My first adult acting gig was in a music video with a very talented Australian director Luke Eve, who has become a great friend.

What do you like most about acting?

Acting is so much an exploration of being human. Getting to experience something new through the characters – the process of transformation and embodiment is something else. Getting to work and create with other people and the ability to tell new stories. Filmmaking and movies are a way for people to see and experience something new. Like any art or experience, a moment of new truth or beauty in a movie can shift the way you see yourself and thus the world. Movies can be a very positive force.

How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?

I don’t feel it is that different – same delicious cake, different packaging. If I have a delicious cake to sink my teeth into, I don’t mind what the packaging is like. Sometimes the cake needs to be made and eaten fast, and other times you get to slow down a bit and enjoy the unexpected custard and surprise layer that is in the cake. I just try to make sure that I enjoy whatever cake I am eating!

What are your strong points as an actor?

Anything involving going deep is my strength, as well as going sideways and very silly. I have no fear in going deep into a scene, nor making a fool of myself for a laugh. I’m also very good at falling over.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

The same difficulties you’d probably find in other areas of life! But they don’t have to be. Any difficulty presents an opportunity for strengthening or renewal of our character. Difficulty changes a person – I do what I can to let it change me in a positive way and it becomes a blessing. Plus, once you are forged between fire and iron, you bring something else to who you are and your work that hasn’t been there before. What a gift! ‘Waiting’ is a big difficulty for a lot of people in this business I feel. For me waiting changed me significantly and allowed me to discover all these other skills and potentials I had inside me.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

As an actor, finding your character I feel is key and also one of the most challenging and satisfying experiences. If you can find the movement and essence of your character this adds an incredible life and world to the life of a script. As a director, having a very clear vision and mood – the translation and execution of the script into a tangible form – so what you produce is as good or better than what you and the scriptwriter imagined.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I enjoy life as much as I can. I am one for celebrating simple pleasures, as well as great ideas. Creativity, love, care, and being happy is my lifestyle. I direct, I photograph, I write, I make art, I explore human consciousness with my cup of coffee. I take great pleasure in people. I find people so rich with beauty, stories, and interesting things. So I spend a lot of time alone and spend a lot of time with people. I’d love to spend more time in nature.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

Getting my first US TV job (The Good Place) was very memorable. But right now Rhapsody of Love has been one of my favourite projects to work on – I got to work and play with so many amazingly beautiful people, and it is also the first time I got to lead a film – and that has been one of the most satisfying experiences.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far and what have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

Joy Hopwood, the director/producer for Rhapsody of Love has been one of the most interesting people I have met. Her tenacity and passion are on another level. Our producer, Ana Tiwary has both extraordinary kindness and as well as strength and vision- she is amazing at what she does. Jeneffa Soldatic, another amazing director and dramaturg has such a beautiful way of guiding actors into deep and open places and has done this for me. All these women have been so true to themselves, and I have seen the ripple positive effects it has on all those around them. It has shown me what one person can do.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Firstly, it would have to be an animation or a stop motion animation. I pretty much would like Rudolph the rednosed reindeer from the 80s Christmas stop motion to play me. If he’s unavailable then Emmett from The Lego Movie. And if he happens to be on the 6th Lego movie, then probably Emilia Clarke would be wonderful.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

This morning I woke up thinking, “Let’s just live and love the heck out of life”. That’s my plan for now.

Rising Star To Watch Out For In 2021: Introducing Damien Sato

Damien recently starred in the feature film ‘Rhapsody of Love’ with co-star Kathy Luu, in Australia’s first rom-com featuring two Asian leads. The film has gained wide interest and has been submitted to various film festivals including the prestigious Gold Coast Film Festival. He has also been involved with various productions including ‘Innocent Killer’ which won best feature film at the International Film & Entertainment Festival of Australia.

Damien is known as a multi-talented actor with a broad range of skills including but not limited to: languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese), martial arts (krav maga, weapons, boxing), presenting, and hosting.

He has also studied at various established institutions such as the Actor’s Centre of Australia, NIDA and Screenwise, Actors Pulse, and several of Australia’s top directors and casting directors. With a firm drive for constant self-improvement and growth, he is relentless in becoming a better actor and just an overall better human being. FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Damien to discuss his journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I would consider myself somewhere between a mad scientist and a Zen monk. I like to experiment with optimising my biology i.e. performance, whilst also remaining relatively unattached to anything worldly.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I got started after seeing an advertisement for talent, with the key phrase “no experience necessary”. I was very shy and awkward in front of the camera, so it was a perfect career choice!

What do you like most about acting?

I consider acting a “meta career”, meaning that it is a career that involves learning about all other careers. I mean you could be playing a doctor or lawyer one day, and a serial killer the next (not like being a serial killer is a real career). Basically, you get to delve into the lives of many people and learn what it’s like to be someone else.

How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series?

Well, I haven’t really acted in a TV series so I wouldn’t really know. I guess I’d prefer to act in a movie since you don’t get locked into playing one type of character.

What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?

Being inside my head. It’s all about being in the moment, and you can’t really be in the moment if you are thinking about the moment. I just really let go of the outcome or trying to act, and just be. Often, just listening produces the best acting.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

The whole thing has been a giant blur of goodness. I would say the best times I’ve had were being paid to travel the world whilst being able to work with awesome people.

What are your strong points as an actor?

I’m a very analytical person, which tends to keep me in my head, however, at the same time, it allows for me to break down and understand characters with great depth.

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

That every director has their own style and processes – It’s up to the actor to adapt to them, just as much as it is for the director to adapt to actors.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

What’s not difficult? Seriously, there are too many to list (uncertain career path, don’t know when your next paycheque will be, dealing with egomaniacs, etc.), however, it’s the challenges that make it such a rewarding career path.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

Really believing you are the character. Audiences can tell when you are being inauthentic or trying to act as if you are the character.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

Keeping my other assets working sharp, i.e. body, mind, and relationships. As an actor, you are the product, so you have to take care of all areas of your life to keep yourself going strong.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Actors are an odd bunch, there’s always an interesting story behind each of them. No one really stands out when I think about it.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

Someone devilishly handsome and charming… so myself (laughs). Kidding (or am I?). Truth be told, it would have to be Henry Golding, because lots of people say I look like him. It would be a good chance for people to say he looks like me!

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Keep doing what I’m doing – putting myself out there and growing. I would love to have broken out to the U.S or international markets.

If there is anything else or interesting you can tell us

I plan to be single at this moment, there are simply too many things to do in life!

Meet The Woman Behind The Latest Issue Of FilmCentral Magazine: The Amazing Lili Liu

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A classically trained musician who happens to have a flair for theatrics is a killer combination. This combination resides in Lili Liu, an upcoming actress from Melbourne who plays an exciting role as the confident and ambitious young woman, Pinyuan Xue in her upcoming musical drama “Life as a Summer Flower,” which was originally written by her good friend, Xiaolin Shen.

Produced by Liu Entertainment (L Enter Pty Ltd), and starring Lili Liu, the musical comedy is centered during the Liang period of Wei Jing and Northern and Southern Dynasties (220-589) in ancient China. The family-oriented narrative of this series focuses on a heroine called Pingyuan Xue who originally hails from a peasant family but later emerges as a warrior who is determined to find her true love. After being overcome with a powerful vision, she becomes a legendary female warrior, meeting the Emperor whom she falls in love with, but then she eventually discovers she’s just being used for a different motive which leads her to go on a journey of discovering herself. While the series is supposed to be a musical comedy, at the heart of it is a message of determination and hope.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Lili Liu to discuss her journey in the entertainment industry and her latest project and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I’m a classically trained musician. I did my piano recital in Sydney Opera House and many other concert venues. But I have always wanted to write my own songs and share my love for storytelling. When my good friend Xiaolin Shen showed me her novel Life as a Summer Flower, I immediately felt I need to turn the story into a musical drama. It’s a story people need to see!

What do you like most about acting?

To become the other person. To think, act, and see the world from another person’s perspective allows me to see the world differently. When I act, I can give the voice to that character, that soul. To help that soul to express herself, to bring that soul to physical life is what I enjoy the most.

Can you tell us about your recent role in your drama series?

Pinyuan Xue is a very confident, independent, and ambitious young woman. She almost never doubts her own ability. She has lots of challenges in her life. She faced many setbacks. But she seems always to have the power to rise from the ashes, like a phoenix reborn from the ashes. I’m learning a lot from her, her brightness, positivity, and her ability to turn her vision into reality are very admirable.

What sort of person is going to relate to this character?

Everyone who begins with a humble beginning, and fights their way to achieve their dreams can relate to Pinyuan Xue. The scriptwriter Xiaolin Shen told me Pinyuan Xue is her ideal character. She is also my ideal. I hope I can be more and more like her.

How is this character like you? Different?

We both have big dreams and visions in life. We both do our best to achieve them. However, Pinyuan is more confident. She is almost always certain, and she doesn’t have many doubts. I have much more fear and doubts. I enjoy being her in the show, she taught me how to face challenges and fear, and how to win the battle fair and square.

Besides yourself, what celebrity would you like to see tackle this character?

I would like to think I’m the most suitable person for the role. I love this role. The role of Pinyuan Xue and her story really inspires me. It’s a story I have to tell. It took the scriptwriter Xiaolin Shen many years to write the story and develop the characters. I feel very blessed for the trust Xiaolin placed in me, and I will do my best to deliver a performance that even in many years’ time, I can still be proud of. Hopefully, the audience will feel inspired and entertained too.

What’s the biggest challenge to taking on this role?

Singing the monologues and act at the same time. Because it’s a musical, there are many dialogues we need to sing. When I sing and act alongside others, it’s much easier. There is a scene that I need to sing a monologue, like a self-reflection song by myself, I found it takes a lot of skills to make it natural and impactful. That’s something I’m working on at the moment.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

There are a lot of interesting people in my life. Lately, I’ve been thinking about my homestay mum a lot. When I come to Australia for high school, I had an Australian homestay mum, Daphne. Daphne encouraged me to be independent, self-reliant, and to pursue my piano dream! I stayed with her for two years and a half. She drove me to all piano lessons, introduced me to Thai food and Spaghetti Carbonara… Her love and support made the pursuit of my dream a much easier journey. I’m very grateful to her!

How active are you on social media?

Not very active… I try to keep my distance from social media. I use it mainly for work. I prefer spending time with real people. In-person.

What are your plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I want to inspire people to follow their passion and their highest calling. I believe when each of us finds and does what we truly love doing, the world will be a much happier place, we can all fulfill our missions here on earth. I have always been attracted to music, art, and storytelling, everything that beautifies the world, that allows me to express myself creatively. I will continue to create new works in the future. Both music and screen productions. I feel very alive when I’m in the creative process of bringing an idea to life. The creative energy is what drives me every day. My current plan is to do all I can, with my team to create Life as a Summer Flower one that we are truly proud of. Art and music have great powers to break barriers and enhance understanding between people – that’s what I want to do through music and storytelling, to open people’s hearts and create channels for understanding.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Howl’s Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki. “They say that the best blaze burns the brightest when circumstances are at their worst.” This is one of my favourite movie quotes of all time.

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Helping others. I consider people helping each other, be kind and compassionate to each other to be the most beautiful act.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Start a family and have at least two children.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d….”

If I had no fear, I’d sit down and write out my life story. Then, I could understand how I have come to be who I am and where there is next for me to go with my career. I reflect on the events of my life often, and I would like to put them into a narrative structure.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself?

I always whole heartily go after what I want. I don’t have a backup plan. So when things don’t go the way I want, I can feel hurt and disappointed. But I like to stay this way. Because in order for me to go beyond myself, I need to give whatever I do my devotion, my 200% focus. As Rumi said “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens”, I consider any setback or heartbreak on the way are opportunities for me to upgrade myself. So, I wouldn’t change that ‘flaw’ of myself.

“Life as a Summer Flower,” the musical series will be filming in Bendigo in July, so be sure to follow this space to find out more details about this amazing project.

Rising Star To Watch Out For In 2021: Introducing The Beautiful Rupanty Akid

Rupanty Akid is a Sydney-based actress and model. Her acting agent is PG’s, and modelling agent is Royalle Modelling. Although residing in Australia, she’s filmed several notable works overseas consisting of TV shows and telefilms, such as ‘Hello Bangladesh’. In Australia, she is currently filming for Marvel’s next Thor movie which is set to release in 2022.’

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Rupanty to discuss her journey as an actress and here’s what went down:

What do you like most about acting?

I love that through me, other creatives are able to present their work. The writers get to see their character come to life, the directors get to experiment with different ways for me to portray a scene. The DOP sees me through their lens for an aesthetic shot. For me, the best thing about being an actor is to become many people’s medium to express their creativity.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

To be honest, in one word – nepotism. I grew up on sets and backstages as most of my relatives were working in the media. But that was just how I got started and interested. The rest was up to me to put in the hard work and hours to get myself jobs here in Australia. I think a lot of people just see the word “nepotism” and immediately have negative associations with it, but they don’t understand the number of auditions, castings, training, and working on sets that you actually have to experience yourself before you might start to get noticed.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

I recently filmed for Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” and that was a great learning experience for me. There was such a huge crew and everyone worked so efficiently together. Myself and other actors were managed really well during the very long shoot days. I’m not allowed to talk about my role or the amazing costumes and cool set, but definitely will be worth the wait when Thor releases in 2022!

What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?

My biggest challenge when acting overseas in another language is that it’s hard to improvise on the spot, whereas I can easily improvise in English. In many projects, I had to speak Bengali and the native speakers can always tell I have an accent. This has led to me being “typecast” into roles of the foreigner or tourist etc. so I am now improving my accent through a lot of conversations with some great friends and also watching Kolkata-made films. But just as people can’t pick up an “Aussie” accent overnight, it’s the same with me trying to practice another language.

What are your strong points as an actor?

I’m very adaptable to any situation and I can really understand what the directors want out of me, even when they don’t know how to explain it properly. It’s really important for any actor to be able to take any direction asked of you. I think also physically, I have a face that is extremely versatile with looks. I can look like a totally badass villain if I want to, but I can also look like a naive innocent if needed.

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

I guess the biggest lesson I learned was “never go to acting school”. It’s something no course provider wants people to know as it is nowadays pitched as a necessity. Honestly from my experience, I have learned so much from being on sets than all the courses I took as a child. Including learning from all the bad experiences. For example, I once worked with a director who was absolutely drunk and still kept us working until 3 am most mornings, but I learned a lot from that which I wouldn’t have experienced in a class. There are so many different skill sets and traits you pick up from just constantly working with different personalities, different mentalities – and I don’t think there are any shortcuts to gaining real-life experience by packing it into materials for a semester.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

Definitely the rejections. But you just have to remember not to take it personally, or else you will break. In most jobs, you get paid by the hour from when you start working. With acting, you have to constantly travel to auditions and castings which you’ll rarely hear back from. Spend hours on casting websites applying everywhere. Often work for student films or other unpaid gigs which may get you showreel material and potentially paid roles. In the creative industry, there’s a lot more time spent honing your craft and getting your work out there, before hoping to make a living out of it.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

Interpretation. It’s amazing how words on a script have no meaning by themselves, but different people will interpret them in different ways. It comes down to my perspective of the character and the director’s vision of it, then finding a middle ground that works best for the project. The most challenging part is the whole process and work going behind the character being built, before actually standing in front of the camera.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I’m always working even when I’m chilling on my phone. For example; researching all the casting directors around the world for open calls, noting the trending “actor” hashtags of the day for higher engagement, jotting down ideas for my own scripts further down the line, scheduling future posts, editing videos for Reels/Showreel, etc. There’s always something I’m doing related to the media, even when I’m not actually working.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

There have been many but most recently. I just finished a course at Modelle Academy and I was very inspired by George Bastoli, especially as we had both been introduced to the media as kids through a relative and then stayed interested enough to make a career out of it. George taught us, students, a lot about the modelling industry whereas previously, I was only familiar with the acting side of things. He is very motivating, has accomplished huge things and at a young age so it was very interesting.

What are your future plans?

Currently, I am sponsoring one child in Bangladesh through Jaago Foundation, and my goal is to extend this in the future to help many more children when I’m able to. I would love to continue growing my career through media works; with hopefully bigger projects in Hollywood and also, modelling for bigger brands in the fashion industry. Eventually, I think I’ll end up working behind the camera, either producing or creating but still staying connected to the media world.