Award-Winning Duo Savanna Crasto and Pierce Gordon Set to Take Audiences on an Emotional Journey with ‘Love and Lemon Trees’

Savanna Crasto and Pierce Gordon, the dynamic writer/director duo behind ‘Love and Lemon Trees,’ are gearing up to captivate audiences with their latest film. Produced by The Colour Series and Savanna Crasto, this poignant production promises to tug at heartstrings and provoke profound reflections on the nature of love and grief.

Savanna has already garnered critical acclaim, with her previous work ‘Chasing Lemons’ clinching the prestigious Best Director award at the Cannes World Film Festival. Building on this success, ‘Love and Lemon Trees’ is poised to leave an indelible mark on the international film landscape.

Savanna Crasto, an Australian actress, director, and writer, has established herself as a multifaceted talent with a string of accolades to her name. Her diverse heritage of Danish, Indian, and Portuguese roots infuses her storytelling with a rich tapestry of cultural influences. Notable achievements include multiple awards at the Cannes Indie Cinema Awards and the Cannes World Film Festival, solidifying her reputation as a visionary filmmaker. Crasto’s passion for storytelling led her to found her own production company, The Colour Series, where she has written, produced, and directed an impressive portfolio of films. She recently returned from Los Angeles, where she stayed as a resident at Charlie’s, a program facilitated by Australians in Film. This initiative serves as a vital support system for Australians transitioning to the Los Angeles entertainment industry scene.

Joining forces with Crasto is Pierce Gordon, an actor, writer, and director hailing from Detroit, Michigan. He boasts an impressive repertoire as an actor, writer, and director. Since early 2018, he has graced screens and stages alike, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. His career highlights include a notable performance in the 2019 production of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,’ where he portrayed the character ‘Nick’ for the Ad Astra theatre company in Brisbane, QLD. His talent was further recognized when he clinched the Best Actor award in the EMERGE! short film section of the Gold Coast Film Festival for his role in ‘The Longing,’ directed by budding filmmaker Maali Albert. Additionally, Gordon’s outstanding performance in the short film ‘Best Man,’ directed by Craig Cauchi, earned him the title of ‘Best Upcoming Actor’ at the Sanctuary Cove Film Festival. In 2021, Gordon marked his feature film debut with a memorable speaking role in the Elvis Biopic, ‘Elvis’, helmed by renowned director Baz Luhrmann. He also showcased his acting prowess on stage in the Anywhere Theatre Festival’s world premiere production of ‘Against the Wall’, where he portrayed the character ‘Leo’. His stellar performance earned him nominations in two different categories at the Queensland Theatre Awards, ultimately culminating in the prestigious Billie Brown Best Emerging Artist award. The beginning of 2022 saw Gordon land a recurring role on the highly anticipated Disney+ series, ‘Nautilus’, slated for release in 2024. He rounded off the year by making his mark as a writer and director with his debut theatre piece, ‘Why Young Men Run at 2 am’, which received widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

‘Love and Lemon Trees’ is a deeply personal project for Crasto and Gordon, exploring the intricate complexities of grief and love. With its compelling narrative and talented creative team, ‘Love and Lemon Trees’ promises to be a thought-provoking exploration of the human experience. Audiences can expect to be moved, challenged, and ultimately inspired by this powerful cinematic journey.

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

Could you please provide our readers with a brief background about yourself and how you started in the industry?

I got started in the industry in 2020 when I approached a friend to film a feature, Tender Napalm, an adaptation of Philip Ridley’s play. However, prior to that, I was part of a directorial team that directed US/THEM for the Gold Coast Drama Festival, which ended up winning Best Play in 2018.

 What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Knowing when to stop. I think writing, producing, directing, and acting are all very addictive, and at least personally, I get into the habit of going from production to production. As wonderful and fulfilling as it is, a part of yourself goes into making a film, whether you’re the writer, director, producer, or actor, and seeing as though I do all four; I find that I end up giving so much of myself that when I stop, I don’t have much more to give anything else.

My artistic process is very much all in, obsessive in some nature. I get very drawn into what I’m doing, and I have found that because of the way that I work, it can be difficult to be patient with others who don’t work that way. I don’t ever view a film as just a film; it’s an expression of so many thoughts, moments, and feelings that instead of it being of service to me and my love for art, I become of service to it. While I don’t want that ever to change, it does make the process slightly more difficult.

 Do you try to be more original or deliver to viewers what they want?

I don’t think I have ever felt at peace with making a film that gives viewers what they want; I’m more interested in exploring things. Sometimes, it’s what viewers want, and most times, it’s not, but in both stances, it’s always what is truthful to the world that the film aims to capture; it’s always truthful to what I resonate with.

I’m very interested in cross-cultural elements when it comes to film. Taking aspects of Italian neorealism, the French new wave, Danish cinema, a little sprinkle of Hollywood here and there, and theatre, I definitely try more to fuse these rather than stick to one form.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that “people don’t need to say you have a right to your voice for you to have a right to your voice.”

What is your directing Kryptonite?

I love a little ‘fun it takes.’ (But I’d use a different F word.) It usually ends well, but I can also get distracted by how much I love seeing actors play in a scene and go in a completely different direction.

What was the best money you ever spent as a director?

My films. Every cent that I’ve ever spent on any film is the best money I’ve ever spent.

What was an early experience where you learned that films had power?

The first experience where I learned that films could change the world is a seemingly innocent and simple one. I remember watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in grade four (I didn’t watch them sequentially, which was actually kinda cool), and I wanted to be a witch with a cat that went to Hogwarts. It became my dream of who I wanted to be. While that was also the moment I tribute to my wanting to be an actor, looking back, it showed me that a singular film that was made across the world at a different time had the potential to form my beliefs and wants.  There was nothing I could draw focus on that formed that want; all I know is that after watching that film, my idea of myself, what I valued, and who I wanted to be shifted. I also dedicate it to my value of knowledge, friendship, loyalty, and intelligence as the most attractive qualities people can have.

How many finished and half-finished books do you have?

Well… I don’t think I can give a number to how many books I’ve half finished, and definitely not to how many books I have finished. I’m a big reader and like to read plays, fiction, non-fiction, articles, newspapers, and recipes. I intend to have a library in my house, not just because I want one, but because I’ll need one to fit all my books.

Can you tell us more about your latest film?

My latest film, Love and Lemon Trees is one of the great loves of my life. That film holds so much of me and brings me so much pain and joy that I would create a world just for it, a world protected by a glass egg with waterfalls, horses, and maybe some macarons. I’m interested in grief and its connection to love, and because the film dives so deeply into the mind of grief, I find it painfully releasing in so many ways.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Don’t be stupid, just make a film, then do another one and do better.

What advice would you give to a newbie director who wants to make it in the industry?

Don’t be stupid, just make a film, then do another one and do better.

What are your future plans?

I’m moving to Paris for a bit at the end of 2024 after we finish filming Contingent (my next feature). Then, I’ll be heading back to Los Angeles to live. My plan is to go between L. A and the Gold Coast because I’d like to continue making films here.

StudioCanal Unveils Official Trailer for Highly Anticipated Sequel “200% Wolf”

Photo provided by StudioCanal

StudioCanal is thrilled to announce the release of the official trailer for “200% Wolf,” the much-anticipated sequel to the 2020 hit animated film “100% Wolf.” Set to open Down Under on August 8th, this exciting installment promises to take audiences on a wild and whimsical adventure.

In “200% Wolf,” viewers will reunite with Freddy Lupin, the lovable protagonist who discovered he was destined to be a tiny pink poodle rather than a mighty werewolf like his family. Now, Freddy is back and ready to prove himself as a leader to his werewolf pack. However, earning their respect proves to be no easy feat, leaving Freddy longing for a more wolfish identity.

But when a wayward wish transforms Freddy into a werewolf and introduces a mischievous moon spirit into the mix, he finds himself on a quest to restore cosmic order before it’s too late. Joined by his trusty dog pals and faced with a formidable sorceress with a grudge against the wolf pack, Freddy must navigate a world of danger and magic to save his new friend and prevent catastrophe.

Featuring a talented cast including Ilai Swindells, Samara Weaving, Akmal Saleh, Jennifer Saunders, Elizabeth Nabben, and Peter Mcallum, “200% Wolf” is directed by Alexs Stadermann and written by Fin Edquist. Produced by Barbara Stephen, Alexia Gates-Foale, and Nano Arrieta, this film promises to deliver thrills, laughter, and heartwarming moments for audiences of all ages.

Prepare to embark on an unforgettable journey where friendship, courage, and the true meaning of identity take center stage. “200% Wolf” is a must-see cinematic experience that will leave viewers howling for more.

Don’t miss the adventure of a lifetime when “200% Wolf” hits cinemas on August 8th.

Introducing Rina Mousavi: The Rising Star of ‘Shayda’ Shines Bright at Sundance and Beyond

FilmCentral Magazine is proud to present an exclusive feature on the amazing journey of actress Rina Mousavi, whose unwavering dedication to her craft has propelled her to the forefront of the entertainment industry.

Rina Mousavi’s passion for acting burned brightly from a young age, igniting a lifelong commitment to the art form. In 2018, she embarked on a transformative journey, undergoing an intensive 10-month mixed martial arts (MMA) training regimen for her lead role in the short film The Society. This immersive experience not only honed her physical abilities but also opened doors to new opportunities.

Mousavi showcased her newfound MMA skills in the ABC/BBC TV series “Itch” Season 2, captivating audiences with her dynamic performance. Her seamless integration of martial arts prowess into her acting repertoire showcased her versatility and marked her as a talent to watch.

The following year marked a significant milestone in Mousavi’s career with the completion of her first feature film, “Alexander.” The film’s acceptance into nine festivals, including Fringe World Perth, served as a testament to Mousavi’s talent.

In early 2021, Mousavi once again proved her mettle with her lead role in the short film “The Gunslinger,” directed by Rachel Fitzgerald. Her captivating portrayal earned her a nomination for the prestigious Best Actress Award at the Atlanta Comedy Film Festival and secured acceptance into 28 festivals worldwide, further solidifying her reputation as a rising star on the global stage.

Continuing her upward trajectory, Mousavi’s journey reached new heights with her involvement in the critically acclaimed film “Shayda,” directed by Noora Niasari and executive produced by the legendary Cate Blanchett. Premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, “Shayda” captured the hearts of audiences, earning the coveted Audience Choice Award and emerging as Australia’s entry at the 96th Academy Awards. The film’s exceptional quality was recognized with nine nominations at the 2024 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards, including a win for the Best Casting In Film. In an exclusive interview with FilmCentral Magazine, we caught up with Rina to gain insight into her extraordinary journey. Here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m an actor with a dancing background, and I love pretty much every outdoor activity. I also have a Fashion Design background, and after doing 10 months of mixed martial arts training for a TV series, I find myself back in the dojo every now and then. I’m a huge animal lover! I can also do a pretty good impression of Britney Spears.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I’ve wanted to be a performer for as long as I can remember and was involved in drama classes throughout school. However, I was worried about disappointing my parents and felt like there wasn’t room for me in the industry. After working full-time as a garment technician in the fashion industry for five years, I decided to take an acting class and pursue my passion. It’s been the best decision.

What do you like most about acting?

I love so many things about my job, so it’s hard to pick just one… I get to be someone else. I create this new character and give them life. Actors have the ability to empower and move the viewer. As a kid, characters inspired me, and I used their strengths to do better. I don’t even want to talk about the magic of being on set and in costume with your scene partner.

How different is acting in a movie from acting in a TV series? Which one do you prefer?

They are both very special to me, and I don’t really have a preference. You have more time on a film set vs a faster pace approach on a TV series, but both processes are rewarding.

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

I also need to remember to pursue other interests and hobbies and to allow myself just to be. I’ve recently started learning to speak Spanish, which I’ve wanted to do for so long! I’ve purchased my first set of roller skates and hope not to break any bones while learning roller skating. It’s hard to find the time to fit everything in, but it’s important to take care of myself in order to be a better actor.

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

I’ve been fortunate to work with incredibly talented directors who are passionate about the production’s vision. They’ve taught me to let go and stay present. With every redirection, I’ve explored different emotions, allowing me to remain free and focused on my given circumstance. To me, having a good relationship with my director is crucial. If our visions align, then we create something beautiful that reads so loud and clear on screen.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

I have a fashion background, so I’ve been through the rejections and long hours since I was 16, but if you are not used to that, then it can be a little hard to navigate. I’ve learned to remember why I love what I do every time it gets hard. There are also not enough roles out there for the number of actors, so it can get very challenging when you’re trying to make a career out of just acting. It’s important to remember that nothing good comes easy.

Photo Credit. Sezgin Aygun

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

This part isn’t so hard when you have the role because you are given the opportunity to ask all the questions you need to bring the script to life. You have rehearsals with the writer and director, so you have lots of opportunities to figure out how to approach the character. The real challenge is when you are auditioning and you are given very little information. I do as much research as possible on the subject, script, and period, and I focus on giving it my own take on what I think it should be. I think of the “challenge” as investigating – I feel like a detective sometimes!

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I mainly work on honing my craft and watch as many films and TV shows as I can. I have Spanish to learn, and hopefully, I will become fluent soon! I also train with my acting coach as much as I can. My first acting coach once told me, “Athletes don’t stop training when they have made it. They train even harder to become even better.”

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

Attending The Sundance Film Festival 2023 with the film I was in was such a surreal experience. It all sunk in after I got home, though, and I couldn’t believe how incredible it was. I met some amazing filmmakers and learned so much about the industry while I was there.

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

Honestly, I find everyone I meet interesting, and I know this is a cliché answer. We all have such incredible stories and backgrounds that I find myself drawn to meeting new people. I also like to analyse and utilise the characteristics and behaviours of people for my next role so that my character is more relatable and authentic. Pretty much every role I’ve booked has had a portion of its personality drawn from someone I’ve met.

Photo Credit. Sezgin Aygun

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

I want to be involved in productions that inspire and empower and that tell a compelling story that resonates with the audience for years to come. I want others who have doubts about having a place in the industry to take a chance and believe in themselves. However, it will also be so much fun to be in an action movie where my tomboy side can really come out and play!

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

Once I overcome my fear of being eaten by a shark, I’ll take another surf lesson. I did a lesson last year, and I walked away with the most euphoric feeling! I speak fluent Farsi, but I can’t read or write, so that’s on my bucket list – learning a new alphabet is so hard though!

Introducing Mena Guy: A Filipina-American Filmmaker Redefining Horror Cinema

Mena Guy, a Filipina-American horror filmmaker, emerges as a prominent voice in the realm of independent cinema, captivating audiences with her dark and intricate storytelling inspired by literary icons like Edgar Allan Poe. From her humble beginnings to her current stature as a respected figure in the indie film community, Mena’s cinematic journey is a testament to resilience, vision, and the relentless pursuit of storytelling.

Rooted in a deep appreciation for fantasy and horror, Mena’s cinematic journey began with a profound love for the dark and intricate worlds depicted in literature. A graduate of CUNY Hunter, Mena possesses a profound understanding of the business and creative facets of the film industry, laying the foundation for her multifaceted career.

Mena’s expertise in editing, honed through years of dedication and hard work, serves as the cornerstone of her filmmaking endeavors. Fueled by a pragmatic approach and devoid of financial privilege, she mastered both editing and shooting techniques, enabling her to bring her unique visions to life independently.

A passion for music has always been a driving force in Mena’s creative endeavors. Drawing inspiration from her love of music, she has seamlessly integrated dynamic music videos into her repertoire, infusing her film projects with vibrant energy and emotion.

Currently, Mena is exploring the intersection of music and film, aspiring to cast musicians in unconventional roles to create groundbreaking cinematic experiences. Her innovative approach and dedication to pushing boundaries have earned her recognition and respect within the industry.

As Mena Guy continues to carve her path in the world of cinema, her journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers everywhere. With her unwavering commitment to storytelling and a relentless pursuit of excellence, she is poised to leave an indelible mark on the landscape of horror cinema.

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

Could you please provide our readers with a brief background about yourself and how you started in the industry?

I began my filmmaking journey as a writer. I was very much drawn to fantasy and horror. Horror could easily blend the two, and on a much cheaper budget, so I started trying to produce horror scripts. Actual dark history, crime, and literature geniuses like Edgar Allen Poe heavily inspired me. I even have a raven tattoo because of how much I love his works. I went to college at CUNY Hunter to study film. There, I realized how crazy expensive filmmaking is, and to
be good in the field, you have to understand the business aspect of it. I just needed to get on set, so I learned editing. Everyone needs an editor, so in my mind, it was the easiest and most secure way to get a job. I didn’t come from money, so I needed to work, and editing seemed the easiest way to get my foot in the door. It was something that I could also strengthen my skills on my own without having to make as much of an investment into gear. I started editing
projects for people to build up a reel and eventually did it for profit. I saved up, bought a camera, and learned how to shoot. I figured if I could shoot and edit, I could make my own movies without having to rely on people. Of course, you need a crew, but I wanted to make sure that if in case someone bails I would be able to make my own projects and keep practicing. I’m a big music fan and would work with a lot of artists. I’d offer people free music videos just to keep creating and building my portfolio. Huge metal and rap fan – I love high-energy music. I eventually got a job as an in-studio video producer with XXL magazine and Loudwire magazine. I honed my video skills there, but my main love is storytelling, so I’d write during my breaks at work. I’d write and save up to make a legitimate short film so I could hire actors, hunt locations, the whole thing. I did it from the ground up and produced “MONSTER,” which is on my YouTube channel “Church of Mena.” From there, I would connect with people in the indie film world and make projects. Eventually, people liked my work and would hire me to help them produce and direct their projects. I’m absolutely influenced by music as well as literature and human nature. One of my goals is to use musicians in films as actors.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The artistic process is the fun part, but the planning is challenging for me. Nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. But making sure you have a solid crew is what helps.

Do you try to be more original or deliver to viewers what they want?

Yes, of course! If you’re not original, what’s the point? There’s an audience for everything, so just be yourself and stick to it; the audience will come in time.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

It’s okay to let people go. Teamwork is good, but cut ties if people are not looking out for your best interest. Don’t let them take you down.

What is your directing Kryptonite?

Working with people who don’t have your back is also a sign of poor communication. You need communication—heavy communication —to have successful projects. Make sure people understand you and your vision.

What was the best money you ever spent as a director?

I invest in my own projects, even if they’re short films, so people can see what I want to direct, write, and produce so I can get my stories out there. If I won the lotto, I’d make a movie.

What was an early experience where you learned that films had power?

There wasn’t a particular experience that stood out. Films have always had power. They immortalize stories, create life, and birth stories, worlds, people, etc., according to the creator’s best vision.

How many finished and half-finished books do you have?

Not sure. I do try to read often, though. One day, maybe I’ll write one.

Can you tell us more about your latest film?

My last short was an animation, which you can find on my YouTube channel, “Church of Mena.” I post my free to the public films there. It’s about two sisters who go away to their disabled aunt’s house for the summer and stumble upon a cursed mirror. It deals with facing your insecurities and trauma and battling yourself. I plan to turn it into a feature and use the concept short as part of the pitch. Currently working on polishing the feature script. My brother Brandon Guy actually animated the short, so it’s pretty cool to have done something with my sibling.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Stop caring what people think.

What advice would you give to a newbie director who wants to make it in the industry?

Make projects. If you’re not a writer, connect with one and make some projects that bring their stories to life. Practice on set is so valuable, even if it’s your own set and you’re not getting hired yet.

What are your future plans?

Make more movies! Bigger sets! Bigger budgets! ENJOY LIFE. I’d love to make films that are tied to Filipino culture.

From Gold Coast to Tinseltown: Marissa Kaye’s Journey as an Aussie Producer Takes a Quantum Leap with Upcoming Hollywood Blockbuster

Australian actor and film producer Marissa Kaye is poised to make a groundbreaking entry into the U.S. film industry with her latest venture, spearheading the creation of the next big Hollywood Franchise, “Anti-Social.” Collaborating once again with award-winning writer Brendan Byrne, the duo aims to captivate global audiences with their creative prowess.

Having accumulated a series of accolades throughout her career, Marissa Kaye expresses her excitement about the project, stating, “I’ve always been inspired by the history of stories that Hollywood has produced over the years. It’s a dream come true to be part of the industry and contribute my perspective to the global tapestry of cinema. I believe that by immersing myself, I can push my creative boundaries and create something truly extraordinary.”

Brendan Byrne, known for his award-winning work, joins forces with Marissa once again after their successful collaboration on multiple projects under Shadow Wolves Productions, spanning Sydney, Gold Coast, and now the United States. Their shared commitment to storytelling is further emphasized by the success of their previous film, “I’m Here Too,” which became a viral sensation, raising awareness for teen suicide.

With over 13 million views on YouTube and significant success on Tubi, the duo’s impactful film sparked widespread conversation with over 100,000 comments, paving the way for their upcoming Hollywood project. Currently shrouded in secrecy, the project is already generating buzz among industry insiders, who eagerly speculate on the genre and potential star-studded cast.

Marissa and Brendan, who have two more productions lined up to shoot on the Gold Coast, continue to push boundaries with their unique storytelling approach. Their dedication to creating meaningful content that resonates with audiences reflects in the success of their previous works and sets the stage for another remarkable Hollywood venture.

As the industry anticipates the unveiling of their latest project, Hollywood is on notice – Marissa Kaye is bringing her creative vision and Australian charm to the forefront. Get ready for the next big Hollywood franchise as another Aussie powerhouse takes center stage.

FilmCentral Magazine Spotlights AACTA Awards 2024: A Night of Celebration, Diversity, and Unforgettable Moments

Photo Credit: Matt Bonnici

The glamour of the 2024 AACTA Awards illuminated HOTA, Home of the Arts on Queensland’s breathtaking Gold Coast, on Saturday, February 10. The preceding AACTA Industry Awards took place on Thursday, February 8, marking an extraordinary celebration of the Australian film industry. Among the attendees was FilmCentral Magazine’s editor-in-chief, who, along with the Streets of Colour team, captured the essence of this prestigious event.

FilmCentral Magazine proudly reports that several members of their Streets of Colour team graced the AACTA Awards ceremony, commemorating the collective effort that earned them a nomination for Best Film – Independent. The editor-in-chief expressed immense pride for the cast, crew, and supporters, acknowledging the dedication and hard work that led to this significant recognition.

“While we didn’t secure the win in our category, being nominated was a monumental achievement in itself. Our Streets of Colour team had a one in six chance, and the acknowledgment of their work on such a platform is a testament to their talent and dedication,” said Yolandi Franken, Editor-in-Chief of FilmCentral Magazine.

The Streets of Colour team’s nomination for Best Film – Independent was a remarkable acknowledgment of their commitment to storytelling that pushes boundaries. The editor-in-chief emphasized the importance of overcoming systemic challenges and addressing the fear associated with telling stories that resonate with marginalized communities.

“In their pursuit of creative excellence, the Streets of Colour team faced systemic mountains and navigated the fear entrenched in those hesitant to share narratives like theirs. Their journey symbolizes a commitment to breaking barriers, taking risks, and amplifying voices that often go unheard,” added Franken.

While the win eluded them, the Streets of Colour team’s presence at the AACTA Awards was a triumph in itself, shining a spotlight on their resilience and dedication to bringing meaningful stories to the forefront of the Australian film landscape.

Meet The Rising Star Behind The December 2023 Issue Of FilmCentral Magazine: Kian Kavousi

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In the realm of the entertainment industry, Kian Kavousi emerges as a luminary, showcasing profound skill and versatility that has etched an illustrious path. His enduring impact on the small screen, silver screen, and theatre stages has left an indelible mark, garnering recognition and acclaim.

Foremost among Kavousi’s achievements is his standout portrayal in the renowned TV series “The Chosen,” a global hit distributed by Lionsgate and accessible on platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NBC’s Peacock, and the CW Network. Critics and viewers alike have lauded his compelling performance in this celebrated series.

Venturing beyond television, Kian Kavousi has graced feature films, earning acclaim at prestigious film festivals globally. Notable projects, including “1st Born,” “The Big Apple,” “Sarah Is Not Her Name,” “Miles,” and “The Last Chance,” showcase his diverse range and talent, infusing depth and authenticity into every character.

Kian Kavousi’s journey in the acting realm was shaped by dedicated training and mentorship from industry luminaries such as Larry Moss, Kristof Konrad, Jean-Louis Rodrigue, and Vincent D’Onofrio. This guidance refined his craft, endowing him with wisdom and technique that paved the way for success.

Beyond the screen, Kavousi’s artistry has graced Off-Broadway stages in productions like “The Defendant Maurice Chevalier” and “Professionals.” His captivating stage presence and unwavering commitment to characters showcase his adaptability and depth as an actor.

With an impressive body of work and an unwavering commitment to continual growth, Kian Kavousi’s future in the entertainment industry appears promising and vibrant. His dedication to his craft, coupled with powerful performances, solidifies his position as a distinguished actor both on screen and on stage.

A recent conversation with FilmCentral magazine delved into Kian’s industry journey, providing insights into his artistry and the path that lies ahead.

Your role in “The Chosen” has received widespread acclaim. Can you share some insights into your experience working on such a globally recognized TV series and the impact it has had on your career?

Working on “The Chosen” has been an incredible honor and one of the highlights of my career so far. As an actor, you always dream of being part of a production that reaches viewers globally on a massive scale. You are not aware of that fact at the beginning until you start seeing people recognizing you or reaching out to you. Many use you as an inspiration in their artworks or edit your scenes together in video clips while industry people contact you for upcoming projects. That’s when I first realized the impact of it all, and I knew things wouldn’t be the same anymore. Seeing so many supporters and fans around the globe fuels my motivation to deliver my best work. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work with many talented directors, but Dallas Jenkins stands out for his visionary approach and ability to get the best from his actors. Being on set with Dallas, the experience is electric. He encourages us and gives us the freedom to take risks and explore the depths of each scene, asking thoughtful questions that reveal new dimensions. But what really stunned me was that through his vivid descriptions, he instantly transports you into the emotional space needed for the performance. All doubts were eliminated, and you end up organically creating a character on the spot that feels grounded and authentic but safe enough to go beyond and try different approaches. Dallas has this gift for articulating his creative vision so clearly that you intrinsically understand what needs to be done. He draws out nuanced performances from all of us. Combining his guidance with our own preparation, we, as the cast, have been able to create magical moments on camera. The actors and directors with whom you share a significant amount of time become unforgettable moments. You receive support, and you give support. You become a family, and you grow together. The series has been professionally and personally gratifying, and I’m very thankful for this opportunity that pushes me to be my best. It has profoundly shaped my career trajectory, and I will carry these invaluable experiences forward.

Photo Credit – The Chosen

You’ve been part of both TV series and feature films. How do you approach your acting differently in these two mediums?

Acting for film and television share many similarities and core techniques, yet the mediums have distinct differences and approaches that you have to adapt to. In film, I often join the production with a fully envisioned character already crafted by the director and writers. This requires intense preparation beforehand to internalize their vision while still leaving space for changes. Once I receive the schedule, I map out the character’s arc and storyline over the course of the shooting days. Filming is usually concentrated into weeks or months. In TV, your character has the opportunity to develop and grow over the course of multiple seasons. I still come in absolutely prepared, but the process is more dynamic since I have inhabited this persona for months or years. You get the chance to return and revisit a character, experience something new, and peel back layers as their journey evolves from episode to episode. While film provides a concentrated storyline, television allows for subplots and development. I find the key is staying open to both, whether playing a character for months on a series or weeks on a film. Both mediums produce outstanding content. There is a lot of great material out there. I feel fortunate to work in both formats and appreciate what each uniquely brings out in me as an actor. The differences keep me sharp and creative. I enjoy both as I love the challenge of bridging a character from script to screen.

Your training includes working with renowned coaches like Larry Moss and Vincent D’Onofrio. How have these experiences shaped your approach to acting, and what lessons have you carried from these mentors into your roles?

I’ve had the incredible privilege to study under some of the best acting coaches in the industry. Their wisdom and techniques have stuck with me and profoundly impacted my work, and I apply their fundamental teachings to every role I play whenever possible. Working with Vincent was extraordinary. I witnessed firsthand his brilliant character transformations and camera technique. He taught me the art of finding those subtle nuances for camera work and constantly adjusting the performance through layers and subtext. Making it seem effortless actually required meticulous craft and a lot of practice, analysis, and sleepless nights. Every time we wrapped filming and reviewed footage, it was as if night turned into day – it was acting at the highest level. Larry Moss expanded my mind with his vast knowledge. I could listen to him for hours and still only absorb a fraction of what he imparted. He taught me how to fully inhabit the mindset of a character and keep the audience invested. We spent intensive sessions breaking down scripts, tweaking performances, and learning to avoid traps. He went with you to the furthest reaches, where things suddenly dawned on you. His insights brought my acting to entirely new and creative heights. I have to hand it to the coaches Kristof Konrad and Jean-Louis Rodrigue – they really drilled character work and technical skills into me that are so crucial. We worked extensively on using the body, voice, and breath as instruments. Breaking old habits while adopting new and specific ones. Never showing up unprepared, yet remaining flexible. I learned how to build a character properly from the ground up and hone the techniques to bring a role to life. I’m sincerely grateful because I owe so much to these masters. Each intensive workshop demanded my complete dedication and best work. Thanks to them, I am where I am in my career, trying to deliver the most genuine performances I can every time.

In addition to “The Chosen,” you’ve been involved in various film projects like “The Last Chance” and “The Big Apple.” What drew you to these projects, and do you actively seek out diverse roles in your career?

When I was starting out, I jumped at every role that came my way. I tried to be cast in a theater play, a commercial, or a film and TV because I needed the experience and exposure. But as I grew, I became more strategic. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed, but instead, I constantly developed my skills and took on increasingly complex roles. When cast in projects, I think about how to bring my full range of training and life experience to the table. I like to explore new roles that will push me creatively into unfamiliar territory. The more uncomfortable, the better – those roles force me to tackle new challenges. What drew me to all the projects were the multidimensional characters. The uniqueness of the characters and their psychology and physiology interest me. I’m not picky about roles and try to find parts that will stretch my acting chops. This pursuit keeps me engaged and motivated to deliver authentic performances on screen. My goal is to avoid stagnation. I want to carry audiences along as I continue growing as an actor. I remind myself why I started this journey in the first place and try to find ways to play in the league of those actors I admire.

Photo Credit – Halima H

Your performances have been featured in film festivals globally. How does it feel to have your work recognized on such a broad scale, and what do you believe sets your performance apart from others in the industry?

Being featured in film festivals around the world is incredibly humbling. It’s heartening to know my work resonates on such a broad scale. But the truth is, those moments always catch me by surprise. You try to fulfill the director’s vision and story needs when developing a character. Even when a performance feels strong, as actors, we are often self-critical, doubt our choices, and are never completely sure. So nominations or awards are always an unexpected honor that tells me I must be doing something right and motivates me to keep growing. I don’t think it sets me apart, as there are so many remarkably gifted performers in this industry that I learn from all the time. Watching their work pushes me to refine and expand my creative toolbox continuously. Awards aren’t the main reason actors perform, but it is tremendously moving to celebrate your work as it provides new opportunities. The true reward that emerges is the privilege of collaborating with incredible filmmakers to tell universal stories that impact viewers and resonate across borders, cultures, and experiences. If I can bring honesty to a character and move audiences emotionally or in any other way, that is already a profoundly fulfilling creative accomplishment. Though it’s certainly wonderful when a performance you poured your soul into gets recognized far and wide.

Tell us about your experience performing in Off-Broadway productions such as “The Defendant Maurice Chevalier” and “Professionals.” How does live theater compare to working on film or TV sets, and do you have a preference between stage and screen acting?

Performing in Off-Broadway productions like “The Defendant Maurice Chevalier” and “Professionals,” among many others, provided invaluable stage experience. The weeks of intense rehearsals leading up to opening night and the live performances show after show in front of hundreds of audience members were exhilarating. Once the curtains are up, it is only you and your preparation on stage. Compared to film and TV, you have weeks of rehearsals to experiment and refine details. There are no second takes in theatre – it’s live for all to see. There are no cuts and no post-production for any edits. In “The Defendant Maurice Chevalier,” I portrayed two opposite characters – it was a challenge not to play any stereotypes or cliches to show how different they were. I had to embody each character’s distinct psychology and physicalities fully. Precise blocking then ensured seamless transitions between roles. I required vocal training to find ways of projecting to the back rows without straining my voice for the following performances and stage combat training to avoid injuries on one side and deliver the emotional impact it needed to convey. With “Professionals,” I learned to handle technical stage elements – hitting light cues, quickly changing costumes, and sustaining focus and energy during set changes and throughout the entire production. It demanded specific flexibility and preparation to handle anything that came my way. It is interesting to observe how performances can evolve or change over the run, and you never know how a show will turn out – feeling great could mean it wasn’t great at all, and thinking that it was the worst night could turn out to have been one of the most brilliant and refreshing performances. Both mediums stretch me in different ways. While I would rather lean more toward film and television, it is inevitable and absolutely vital to participate in theater productions as often as possible. You create the stamina and acting chops necessary to build proper character work, and the thrill of live performing and constantly improving a role is tough to beat.

Given the diverse range of projects you’ve been involved in, how do you approach selecting roles? What criteria do you consider when deciding to take on a new acting opportunity?

When considering roles, authenticity is key. I always try to do something new and seek compelling characters or interesting collaborations with other filmmakers. I am very open to different opportunities, and I enjoy exploring people and their psychology to understand what motivates them to behave the way they do. How they feel, talk, walk, and express themselves, and then find ways to bring them to life through myself. Researching characters and discovering what you have in common with them and what makes them different is absolutely exciting. You gain perspective and realize the complexities of the human mind and behavior. People share a lot of psychological traits, desires, and tendencies, such as the need for social connection, the pursuit of happiness, or the capacity to feel any emotions at all. However, there are also significant other differences among people. These differences usually come from a combination of unique genetic factors, personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and environmental influences, among many other factors. While humans are alike in some ways, they are also quite diverse in other aspects. I can feel much more comfortable portraying characters when I come from a place of understanding them and showing empathy. Sometimes, it’s easier and more relatable, but in other instances, you may have to delve deep and never truly relate. Nevertheless, playing these roles and tackling the challenges is always exciting.

Photo Credit – Angie Kremer Photography

”The Chosen” is available on various streaming platforms. How do you think the accessibility of content on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime has influenced the entertainment industry, especially for actors and creators?

The rise of streaming platforms has transformed the entertainment industry. They provide many new and fantastic opportunities but also some challenges for actors and creators. Compared to the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s pre-streaming era, the current landscape offers actors access to vastly more projects and roles. More original series and films are being produced. This allows actors to showcase their talents in different genres and potentially gain worldwide exposure by having their work seen globally. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and others are prestigious platforms where their original shows earn critical acclaim and award recognition. Starring in a Netflix series, Apple TV+, or Amazon Production can elevate an actor’s reputation and chances for future work. This is also true for creators, who now have outlets willing to take risks on new or unconventional ideas and stories that may not have been greenlit before. You can say that there is much more creative freedom. However, a possible downside could be that the content quality might suffer slightly, with many new titles being added regularly because of the quantity. The volume of projects could also mean that actors may get typecast because of the tight scheduling and casting time available. And while streaming provides a global stage, the focus on digital distribution has minimized theatrical releases for some films. But overall, these are exciting times full of new and wonderful opportunities and possibilities that open new doors.

Are there any upcoming projects or roles that you are particularly excited about or that you think will challenge you as an actor in new ways?

I’m thrilled to have very exciting projects on the horizon that will provide new acting challenges. While I can’t discuss details just yet, a few roles are coming up that will stretch my abilities in new directions. I cannot wait to unpack, explore them, and break out of my comfort zone again.

Aspiring actors often look up to successful individuals like yourself. What advice would you give to those who are just starting their journey in the entertainment industry, especially in terms of training and navigating the audition process?

When starting out, the focus should be on a lot of training and practice. One challenge is the extensive preparation required beforehand. This includes a thorough script analysis and gathering all necessary information about a character, including the emotional state, motivations, intentions, needs, fears, flaws, and many more, all without passing judgment. Then, integrate these elements into the character, avoid playing cliches or stereotypes, and instead find unique traits. The next level would be listening and reacting to your acting partners and incorporating their performances in a scene while staying true to your character and being able to adjust. Finding coaches, mentors, and suitable classes and workshops would be very helpful for polishing these skills. You want to try to avoid acting only when auditions are coming in because then you are never really ready and end up winging it somehow. What I used to do was, when there weren’t any auditions, I would find audition sides of projects that had already been cast and filmed. I would then prepare those sides for a mock audition and sometimes even compare my performance to the actual casting. This became like a muscle memory exercise, and I was able to carry different characters with me in my back pocket. In addition, there are technical aspects to consider, especially for auditions. It is essential to adapt to a project’s genre, style, and tone. Knowing your lines inside out allows you to be free and fresh in your performance. Also, facing rejections is normal and necessary for growth. Allowing yourself to fail is part of the process. So are taking risks and getting up again when things don’t work out; don’t get discouraged. And if you are not in class, on stage, or in front of the camera, the few minutes in the audition room are the ultimate opportunity to act.

Introducing Kian Kavousi: Illuminating the Silver Screen and Theater Stages with Artistry

Photo Credit: Halima H

Kian Kavousi, an actor of profound skill and versatility, has carved an illustrious path through the entertainment industry, leaving a lasting mark with his performances on the small screen, silver screen, and theater stages.

Kavousi’s standout portrayal in the celebrated TV series “The Chosen” has earned him widespread recognition. The series, distributed by Lionsgate, is a global hit, accessible on various streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NBC’s Peacock, and the CW Network. His compelling performance in this series has been lauded by critics and viewers alike.

Beyond his TV success, Kian Kavousi has graced feature films and various projects that have garnered acclaim at prestigious film festivals worldwide. His impactful roles in movies such as “1st Born,” “The Big Apple,” “Sarah Is Not Her Name,” “Miles,” and “The Last Chance” demonstrate his diverse range and talent. Each portrayal brings depth and authenticity to the characters he embodies.

Kian Kavousi’s journey in the acting world was honed through dedicated training and mentorship. Under the guidance of industry luminaries like Larry Moss, Kristof Konrad, Jean-Louis Rodrigue, and Vincent D’Onofrio, he refined his craft, imbibing wisdom and technique that set him on a trajectory toward success.

His artistry extends beyond the screen, shining on Off-Broadway stages in diverse productions like “The Defendant Maurice Chevalier” and “Professionals.” His stage presence and commitment to the characters he portrays captivate audiences, displaying his adaptability and depth as an actor.

With an impressive body of work behind him and a commitment to ongoing growth and development, Kian Kavousi’s future in the entertainment industry seems promising and vibrant. His dedication to his artistry, coupled with an array of powerful performances, has solidified his position as a distinguished actor, both on screen and on stage.

FilmCentral magazine recently engaged with Kian to delve into his industry journey, and here’s a recap of the conversation:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I grew up in Germany. When I was not in school or with my friends, I spent most of my time playing the piano or sports. My mother always insisted that I see the world, so every vacation she had, she took me with her to different destinations all over the world. Sometimes, I felt uncertain about how to handle all the new impressions because they were so new to me, but they always ended up shaping me and proving useful for my future profession. After graduation, I spent a year volunteering at an institution for the elderly and children in upstate New York. Later, when I finished my Bachelor of Arts in Interpretation and Translation Studies in Germany, I pursued a Master of Science in International Relations and Politics in England. However, I somehow always ended up acting, whether it was in school plays or putting on shows with the money I had saved over the summer. I used my friends in short clips and films we made, imitating game shows and creating music videos with cameras that could only record for about 15 minutes. Years later, it eventually led to Off-Broadway shows in Manhattan and film projects in Los Angeles. There were a lot of signs and indications that this was what I should do. I decided to go all in and moved to New York. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make, but at the same time, one of the easiest. And now I’m here having a conversation with you.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

Through the infamous New York snowstorms, I went out to countless auditions. I booked a film here and a commercial there, but I noticed the lack of exposure to industry professionals. I knew I had to open up to different ways of getting on the radar of casting directors and securing representation. Some friends of mine who are writers regularly invited me to table reads. We put our heads together and came up with potential self-written plays to perform. We rented theater spaces and continued to invite professionals to see all our different shows while I pursued auditions on the side. Eventually, some investors noticed our work and believed in our potential. We had several meetings, and they decided to organize and invest in a full-budget Off-Broadway production. Tickets were sold on Broadway, and the reviews started coming in. There was a lot of pressure because we had to deliver in front of hundreds of audience members every night. The production became a success, and an agency signed me. Afterward, I was submitted to feature film productions, TV series, and projects sent to film festivals around the world, bringing home awards. Finally, all the short films, plays, and auditions combined put me on the radar.

Photo Credit: The Chosen

What do you like most about acting?

I enjoy exploring people and their psychology, to understand what motivates them to behave the way they do. How they feel, talk, walk, and express themselves, and then finding ways to bring them to life through myself. It is absolutely exciting to research characters and discover what you have in common with them and what makes them different. You gain perspective and realize the complexities of the human mind and behavior. See, while there are common psychological traits and tendencies that people share, like the pursuit of happiness, the need for social connection, and the capacity to experience emotions at all, there are also significant differences among individuals. These differences come from a combination of genetic factors, personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and environmental influences. You can feel much more comfortable portraying characters when you come from a place of understanding them. At times, it’s easier and more relatable, but in other instances, you may have to delve deep, and you might never truly relate. Nevertheless, it’s always exciting to play these roles. The other aspect I love about acting is the environment in which you work and act. The people on the set that you see every day, whether it is the lighting or sound crew, the cameraman, makeup, hairstylists, or crafty, become memorable and fun. The cast members and directors with whom you share a significant amount of time become unforgettable moments. You receive support, and you give support. You become a family, and you grow together, even beyond the projects.

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

While acting in both mediums shares similarities, there are also a lot of differences. In film, you usually have a fully developed character when you come to the set. This means it requires a lot of preparation in advance, and you discuss it with the directors to make sure it aligns with their visions as well while also leaving space for changes. You know the beginning, middle, and end of your character’s journey, and you map out the characters’ arc accordingly and throughout the shooting schedule, which usually spans between weeks to months. The shorter production time allows actors to explore a wider variety of characters for other projects. In TV, your character has the opportunity to develop and grow over the course of multiple seasons. You can return and revisit a character and experience something new. So, even though you are prepared, the actor’s process and progress are not set in stone because you play the same character over an extended period, which can lead to a more in-depth exploration as the plot progresses and unfolds over months or years. In film, you often find a concentrated storyline; in TV, you have subplots that evolve across episodes. But again, it is important to mention that it all depends on the projects because some of the best content out there is on both film and TV, and I enjoy acting in both.

Photo Credit: Angie Kremer Photography

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

I would say uncertainty at times. Yet again, I believe this is a challenge actors generally struggle with. On set, you juggle all these aspects, including immersing yourself in your character’s world and physicality, while also managing technicalities like blocking, hitting marks, and adjusting to camera frames. It can be busy on set, and the pace can be fast, and there is not often time for immediate feedback or approval of your work. So in order to bypass uncertainty and bring my best performance to the table, I work with professional coaches. We focus on different areas, such as character development for consistency throughout filming, and work on voice and accents for proper authenticity. We analyze the scripts and explore different techniques to find the physicality. I try all approaches, whether I work from the inside out or from the outside in. However, I collaborate with coaches to avoid limiting myself and to expand my character range as well as my emotional range.

What are your strong points as an actor?

It is always difficult to evaluate yourself, but I would say that I feel comfortable with creating the characters I play. I prioritize understanding their internal psychology and their external physicality. I approach my characters with empathy and avoid preconceptions and judgments. I also thoroughly analyze scripts and quickly memorize them while staying open to continuously learning more and what is required for the role. I like to be so well prepared that I feel comfortable and at ease to adjust to any directions or changes. It is like a muscle that grows stronger with practice. The more you do it, the better you become.

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

Over the years, I have had the privilege to work with some great directors – visionaries who possess the ability to convey and communicate their creative ideas with such precision that they are crystal clear to the actor, and you know exactly what to do. Among them is Dallas Jenkins, the celebrated director of the global hit series The Chosen. Working on set with him for the show is an experience out of this world. We know that actors have to be flexible enough to find more than just one or two ways of approaching a performance. Dallas, however, encourages his actors to explore multiple dimensions of a character; together, you end up creating an entirely new personality on the spot. He asks the right questions and provides vivid descriptions that instantly transport you to the exact emotional environment you need to be in for the scenes. He knows how to bring out the best performance from you. With his guidance and our own preparation, the cast members and I have been able to create magical moments. Director Satrajit Sen gave me the freedom to improvise. He recognized that within the given circumstances, this was the way to find my character’s authenticity. Ali Atshani said, “You listened the right way, so you knew how to answer the right way.” I can say that I have learned valuable lessons from many directors, and I carry each experience with me and use them in other projects.

Photo Credit: Angie Kremer Photography

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

I think there are many factors to consider, and the experiences differ from person to person. Some actors don’t like auditions; they feel blocked or uncomfortable, which can affect their performance. They are not sure how to give their best or how to handle rejections. Sometimes, you find yourself with little time to prepare. Other times, you invest long hours in preparation and travel miles and distances to wait behind closed doors in a room full of stressed people, only to be called in and rejected. However, auditioning is an inevitable but invaluable opportunity to stay sharp and continuously explore new characters. There is your chance to act, and if you deliver a good performance, you will be remembered. Also, these are all opportunities; you never know which room you are entering. Others struggle to find the right representation that aligns with their needs and try to find the proper support and guidance. On the other hand, some actors feel emotionally and physically exhausted and drained or feel that they lack control over their careers and perceive the industry as too insecure and struggling to maintain perseverance. Some actors are stuck in guest roles, while others don’t secure those parts. I believe these ups and downs in this industry are part of this profession, and everyone has to go through them at their own pace. On top of that, both aspects have to be taken care of as an actor, the acting part as well as the business part.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

Well, that’s a great question, and it brings a lot of answers to it. One challenge is the extensive preparation required before even stepping into a character’s shoes. This includes a thorough script analysis and the gathering of all necessary information about the character, including their psyche, motivations, fears, and flaws, all without passing judgment. You have to understand intentions, subtext, needs, transitions, your character’s emotional state, and much more. Once you have laid the foundation, the next challenge is integrating these elements into the character. You should avoid playing cliches or stereotypes and instead find unique traits and physicality. In addition, there are technical aspects to consider, such as adapting to the genre, style, and tone of the project and knowing your lines inside out to be free and fresh in your performance. Another significant challenge is listening and reacting to your acting partners in a scene while staying true to your character and incorporating their performances. The list of challenges can be quite long, and it continuously varies from one project to the next.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

Honestly, I love adventures; that’s what truly excites me. I like traveling to new places, trying out new cuisines, meeting new people, exploring new things, and being together with my family and friends, which brings me joy. In my free time, I like to play sports like soccer and basketball, as well as go to the gym. I also enjoy playing the piano, reading, and sometimes dancing.

Photo Credit: Halima H

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

That is probably the hardest question. I have so many memorable experiences and moments that I am grateful for, and they have all been very exciting. If I had to pick one off the top of my head, I would say the audition for the TV series The Chosen. I was going home from a late shoot when my manager called me and said that another audition had come in and that they had requested a tape due the next day. The only problem was that my camera had broken a couple of days earlier, and I also couldn’t find a reader on short notice that late at night. I called a friend who worked at a self-taping service and asked if I could Schedule a one-hour taping session in the morning. He was kind enough to agree and reserve a spot. I opened the sides and found three scenes and 13 pages of script. I pulled an all-nighter and prepared everything. The following day, I rushed to the studio. To my surprise, my friend told me there had been a mix-up in the booking, but if I waited another hour, he could skip his break and give me a 10-minute window for taping. Having only ten minutes for a 13-page script meant I had one try to record all scenes in one single take, and it had to be done quickly. After the taping, we sent the material, and for the next three months, I heard nothing from them. Then, out of the blue, I received a call that the director and casting director wanted to see me. I drove over and noticed I was the only one in the waiting room. The sign-in sheet said one actor per hour. Sitting there, I could hear them playing the entire audition tape. Moments later, they called me in, and we spoke a little and began the audition. They sent me out two or three times to prepare for different roles and then had me come back in. The audition lasted over 30 minutes. Two weeks later, I was packing for a trip to New York when my manager called me and asked, ‘Have you left yet?’ I said, ‘Not yet, why?’ She said, ‘You might want to change your flight to Texas.’ At that moment, I had no idea what she meant until she said, ‘They’ve cast you for the series!’

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

In this profession, you meet a lot of people, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet many fascinating individuals. It is impossible to pick a starting point, but one who stands out is Vincent D’Onofrio. He taught me so much, and we had interesting conversations, but witnessing how he transformed into a character was extraordinary. Another encounter was with Val Kilmer. I could not believe my eyes. We were chatting, and within an instant, when the 1st AD signaled everyone, he effortlessly shifted and transformed into another person. He changed the room’s energy. What is even more stunning is that he did it differently every time, with new creative intentions. Larry Moss blew my mind with his vast knowledge. I could listen to him endlessly, knowing there was still a lot of wisdom I needed to absorb. The same goes for Al Pacino and Adam Driver. The list of people is very long, but it is fascinating how each one leaves a unique impression on you with their personality.

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

There are currently some exciting projects on the horizon that I can’t discuss in detail. Also, I could use a proper vacation to recharge again.

SXSW Sydney: Promoting Inclusivity in Film and Television Production

In the ever-evolving landscape of the film and television industry, inclusivity and diversity have become more than just buzzwords; they are the pillars upon which creative excellence thrives. With this ethos in mind, SXSW Sydney brings you an enlightening session from October 15 to 22.

For those who aspire to create content that resonates with a broad and varied audience, understanding how to assemble a production team that reflects the world we live in is paramount. Many, however, find themselves at a loss when it comes to practical steps and overcoming obstacles. This session, made possible through the collaboration with Women In Film and Television (WIFT) and their global network, intends to shed light on this vital aspect of the industry.

Breaking Down Barriers

The heart of this session lies in its commitment to breaking down barriers and assessing the approach to crewing productions. Oakley Kwon, an award-winning actor, policy maker, and film producer, as well as the head of Loom Films and a prominent figure on the boards of WIFT Australia, Asian Food and Film, and the QLD Community Television Association Inc., will lead the discussion as the moderator.

Joining Kwon are three leading industry experts, each with an impressive track record in sourcing and running inclusive sets:

Andria Wilson Mirza: As the Director of ReFrame, a gender equity coalition founded and led by Sundance Institute and Women In Film, she brings a wealth of knowledge on the subject. ReFrame has been instrumental in promoting gender equity in the screen industry and is an influential advocate for diversity.

Kirsty Stark: AACTA, Rose d’Or, and Emmy award-winning television and feature film producer, Kirsty Stark, boasts an Emmy award for the children’s series “First Day” and extensive experience in championing inclusive storytelling. Her work speaks volumes about her commitment to diversity in the industry.

Kristen Hodges: With over 60 hours of television and feature films under her belt, Kristen Hodges is a Screen Australia executive and producer with a deep understanding of what it takes to create premium content. Her experience spans both Australian and US markets, emphasizing the importance of diversity on a global scale.

Tackling Obstacles and Sharing Resources

The panel will delve into the obstacles that screen practitioners face when crewing for diversity. By drawing from their wealth of experience and insights, they will provide practical solutions and share valuable resources to support those looking to make their productions as inclusive as possible. From casting to crewing, this session aims to equip attendees with the knowledge and tools to drive positive change in the industry.

Networking Opportunity

Following the panel discussion, WIFT will host a one-hour networking event, offering attendees a chance to connect with like-minded individuals and industry professionals. Networking is a vital component of forging meaningful collaborations and advancing the cause of inclusivity in film and television.

Event Details

Date and Time: Friday, October 20, 2023, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Location: Theatrette – Powerhouse Museum
In a world where storytelling has the power to shape perspectives and challenge societal norms, it is essential that our production teams reflect the rich tapestry of humanity. SXSW Sydney’s session on promoting inclusivity in film and television production is an opportunity to learn from the best in the industry and be part of the movement toward a more diverse and representative future.

Don’t miss out on this chance to be a catalyst for change in the entertainment world. Join us at SXSW Sydney and be a part of the conversation that matters.

For more information and tickets, visit SXSW Sydney’s official website via this link: SXSW 2023

Behind the Lens: George Basha’s Inspiring Path from Actor to Auteur

George Basha, a multifaceted artist from Parramatta, Western Sydney, has a remarkable journey reflecting his resilience and determination. Growing up on the challenging streets of western Sydney as the child of Lebanese migrants, George’s path to success was far from conventional.

In 1997, George received his big break in the world of acting when he portrayed ‘Kemel’ alongside the late Heath Ledger in the feature film ‘Blackrock,’ directed by Steve Vidler. However, despite this initial taste of the film industry, he encountered difficulties securing subsequent acting roles.

At the time, George’s agent conveyed the harsh reality that he faced hurdles in obtaining auditions due to his ethnicity. Refusing to be defined by these limitations, George decided to take matters into his own hands. He embarked on a journey as a writer, penning the feature film ‘The Combination.’ In George’s words, “It was my voice and the voice of western Sydney, which was never really told before.”

In addition to crafting the script, George took on the roles of co-producer and the lead character, ‘John.’ ‘The Combination’ made its cinematic debut in 2009, earning both robust box office receipts and favourable reviews. Esteemed movie critics Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton rated the film an impressive four and a half stars out of five.

Despite its early success, ‘The Combination’ faced controversy when it was unexpectedly pulled from all Event Cinemas nationwide. The decision came after an altercation erupted during a Parramatta screening.

In 2014, George continued his creative journey by writing, producing, co-directing, and starring in his second feature film, ‘Convict,’ in which he portrayed ‘Ray.’ The movie achieved remarkable success on DVD and quickly sold out in retail outlets, particularly in Western Sydney. As a producer, George showcased his ability to secure funding for both of these projects outside the conventional funding structures, leading to profitable returns for each venture.

Fast forward to 2019, George once again demonstrated his versatile talents as he wrote, produced, and starred in ‘The Combination Redemption,’ a film that received theatrical distribution throughout Australia. David Stratton, once more impressed, awarded the film a rating of four stars out of five. As with his previous works, George independently secured funding for this project, highlighting his resourcefulness and commitment to storytelling.

In 2002, George took on an ambitious project, directing, writing, producing, and starring in the yet-to-be-released “Retreat,” an action-thriller. Myriad Pictures has since acquired the film, and is scheduled for release in 2023.

George Basha’s journey is a testament to his unwavering determination to tell compelling stories and break down barriers in the entertainment industry. His resilience and talent have not only brought his unique voice to the forefront but have also paved the way for future generations of storytellers.

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

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started in the industry?

I grew up in a very rough and tough western Sydney suburb called Guildford. I come from a big family that consists of five brothers and one sister, and we were always so competitive in sports when we played against one another. We grew up with not much. My father worked long hours just to make ends meet, and my mother was one tough lady who was always tough on us, especially me, as I was the eldest. All that combined is what prepared me to tackle the film industry, my father’s hard work and the competition, which I loved that came from sports and always wanting to win no matter what. I had always had a love for American cinema and filmmaking, and I loved actors like Sylvester Stallone and Denzel Washington and have always wanted to be an actor. It wasn’t till I was In my early twenties that I decided to really give acting a go and started acting classes in 1996. By 1997, I landed my first-ever acting role in a film called Blackrock alongside some great Australian talent, which included the late Heath Ledger, David Field, John Howard, and Geoff Morrell, to name a few.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I would have to say, as a director, there are a few things. First, you need to get your casting right because I truly believe every actor in the film, no matter how big or small a role, maybe they are all equally important to the project. Then you have the artistic choice you make as in how you want the audience to feel as they watch the film, which will dictate how you want to shoot the movie. Then you have the edit and the music, which is just as important as your other artistic decisions because the edit and music will just amplify the emotions you want the audience to experience.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to viewers what they want?

Both. You always want to be original and add your own flavour to your films. You also have to deliver a film that the viewers want. It’s entertainment, and whenever I make a film it is important that I make it for an audience. Some filmmakers prefer making films for festivals and winning awards. I’m about making films for an audience; without an audience, to me, that’s a failure. So as a filmmaker, I always want to deliver what viewers want.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Follow your heart and get in the industry straight after school. Believe in yourself and your ability.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your stories?

The first few film scripts I wrote were written about some of my real-life experiences and, most importantly, from the heart. My inspiration comes from many places real-life stories or from other films I have seen over the years. I will always write from the heart, even if it is fictional. What I mean by that is as long as you believe and love a story you want to tell. Then you tell it and really believe in it.

What was an early experience where you learned that films had power?

In 2009 when I made The Combination it really opened my eyes to the power of film. The amount of messages and fans telling me the effect the film had on them blew me away. Even today, people still talk to me about the film and how it made them feel.

Can you tell us more about your latest project?

Hostile Forces is my new film which I directed, wrote, produced, and starred in. I play a retired soldier who takes his family on a quiet vacation into the Australian bush, which takes a deadly turn when they accidentally stumble across some mysterious bags, forcing the father to rely on his old military skills to protect his family from a team of trained killers.

Hostile Forces has just been released to the North American market by our international sales agent, Myriad Pictures, and distributor, Saban Films. The film has also been distributed in Australia & New Zealand by Pinnacle Films. The film will hit digital streaming in the coming weeks in Australia.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Nothing is ever given to you. You have to take it.

What advice would you give to a newbie writer who wants to make it in the industry?

Write something that is special to you or is passionate about, and do not listen to anyone but yourself as to what you really want to make. The industry is very opinionated, and there is no wrong or right.

What are your future plans?

I am looking at shooting a new feature next year titled Caught Up which will take me back to the streets of western Sydney. I’m also currently working on a TV series with David Field, which is still in the early stages.