From Kakuma to the Silver Screen: The Inspiring Journey of Athiéi

Athiéi is a talented film actress with a unique background. Born in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, located in Kakuma, Kenya, she shares South Sudanese heritage from both sides of her family and is the middle child among five siblings. In 1996, her family made a significant move to Perth, Western Australia, where Athiéi’s remarkable journey in the world of acting began to unfold.

Her initial exposure to the acting world commenced in 2009 when she attended her first professional acting classes at Actors Now. However, Athiéi’s educational pursuits also reflect her diverse interests and dedication. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and media Studies and Political Science and international Relations, which she earned from the University of Western Australia.

In 2018, Athiéi embarked on a new chapter in Sydney, Australia, where her acting career truly began to flourish. Her talents have graced television, theater, and film productions, marking her as a versatile performer in the entertainment industry. Notably, she is set to make her debut in the world of feature films, portraying the character Tina Honsou in the upcoming production, “Streets of Colour.”

Athiéi’s journey from Kakuma to the Australian stage and screen is a testament to her passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to her craft. With a promising future ahead, her presence in the world of film is sure to captivate audiences and leave an indelible mark on the industry.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Athiéi and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m currently a Sydney-based actor, but I grew up in Perth. I love and enjoy achieving my dreams and watching others do the same.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

From a young age, I’ve always had a love for acting. Drama was my favorite class in school, and I had my first professional acting classes when I was 15. I knew I wanted to be an actor early on, but it wasn’t until a couple of years after graduating from university that I decided that I was going to commit to my dreams and pursue acting as a career. I began, again, by seeking training and auditions, and soon enough, I was landing work and experience in the entertainment industry.

What do you like most about acting?

I love that acting can transform you into another human being and another world. The liberating use of imagination as an artist means that our possibilities are limitless. My character could be a lawyer, a rockstar, a mother, or a twisted or complex character, and I get to explore that story and that world. I get to learn about it. I get a glimpse into it, and I get to translate it to other people. What an opportunity! Acting is so powerful, and not only do I get to enjoy or be a part of the human experience that is right in front of me, but audiences can be inspired, entertained, and taken on this journey
also.

Tell us about your role in the new film Streets of Colour. What was your character like and how did you bring it to life?

I play Tina Honsou in Streets of Colour. Tina is the sister of Akachi, and Tina and Tez have a son together. Very early on, viewers can see that her relationship with Tez quickly goes downhill for more than one reason. To avoid spoiling the film, I can say that his inability to get clean from drugs was one of them. Tina is a strong character who is fiercely protective of herself, her future, and her loved ones. When bringing her to life, I found it most helpful to look internally for insight and answers to many deep, reflective questions that helped uncover her story.

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

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with directors – including Ronnie – who carry themselves with kindness, flexibility, and professionalism. This deepens and expands my own ability to carry these qualities forward when collaborating with others. With Ronnie, I also learned that passion, faith, and hard work can go a long way.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

Rejection. To face rejection and to STILL pick yourself up and move forward despite it. Another challenge is navigating through instability while fighting to stay true to your dreams and other areas of your life.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

There are so many pathways that you can take and ways that you can approach bringing a script to life. In order to believe a story, it must be truly seen, heard, felt, and understood. So there is this journey of uncovering those invisible things that are not seen or shown in the script so that they may be seen, felt, and heard by an audience when brought to life on screen. How an artist goes about this is unique, and the approach can be different with each film or work.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I like to read books, go for walks, and listen to music.

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

Being a part of this film, Streets of Colour. I had a lot of ‘firsts’ with this film. My first feature film role and the experiences that came with it (from preproduction to release). My first red-carpet premiere event experience. The first time, I did a behind-the-scenes interview for a movie. My first film as an actor to screen in theatres – and so on (the list goes on). And to be able to do all this through sharing a meaningful and significant story – what an honour! It has been such a rich and all-encompassing experience. I am grateful to have worked with everyone who made this possible. I feel blessed.

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

I’ve crossed paths with many interesting people, but here are three special shoutouts to Ronnie, Rahel & Yolandi. Ronnie is a passionate and gifted director. I admire his authenticity, uniqueness, and wisdom; he carries that with him everywhere he goes. Rahel is not only an extremely talented actor but one of the kindest, most professional artists I’ve worked with. How he carries himself, both on and off screen, is inspiring and remarkable. And our skilled and hardworking producer, Yolandi, always fills the room with her loving, glowing presence. What a beautiful, kind, and talented human being she is.

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

When I can see more actor representation (of people who look like me or very similar), I’ll be better able to answer this question authentically. At the moment, two actresses come to mind, but they are ten or more years my senior. And anyone else who comes to mind is not an actor. So, for now, my
sister is the best fit.

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

Working in various acting roles and being exposed to different kinds of acting experiences on screen.

Meet Junayed Alavi: The Rising Star in Hollywood’s Horror Scene

At just 24 years old, Junayed Alavi has already made a significant impact as an Independent Filmmaker, Screenwriter, and Content Creator hailing from India. With his latest horror short film, “Hunger,” he has captivated Hollywood audiences and garnered attention for his creative storytelling.

Throughout his career, Alavi has proven his talent in writing, directing, and producing a plethora of independent short films, showcasing his versatility and dedication to the craft. His unique storytelling ability and artistic vision have set him apart in the competitive world of filmmaking.

In addition to his film endeavours, Alavi has ventured into the world of podcasting with “Late Night Show with Alavi,” the only live Hollywood podcast show in Bengal. Through this platform, he has hosted renowned Hollywood A-listers who share their journey and experiences, inspiring the next generation of artists. Distinguished personalities like Lexi Rabe from “Avengers Endgame,” Jeffrey Weissman from “Back to the Future,” Harry Gregson-Williams, the Music Composer of “Narnia” and “The Martian,” Rob Schmidt, the Director of “Wrong Turn,” Ashley Avis, Director of Disney’s “Black Beauty,” and Donald Mowat, the Oscar-nominated Make-up Artist of “Dune,” “Blade Runner 2049,” and “Spider-man: Far From Home,” are just a few of the esteemed guests who have graced his show.

Alavi’s passion for storytelling and dedication to his craft has allowed him to make a mark in the entertainment industry at such a young age. His ability to create compelling narratives and engage audiences has garnered praise and recognition from peers and industry professionals.

As an ambitious and talented individual, Alavi’s journey has just begun, and his future in Hollywood shines brightly. His commitment to pushing creative boundaries and telling meaningful stories promises a career filled with even more exciting projects and accolades.

Keep an eye on Junayed Alavi as he continues to rise in Hollywood’s horror scene and beyond, leaving a lasting impression on audiences worldwide with his captivating storytelling and innovative approach to filmmaking.

FilmCentral Magazine recently had an insightful conversation with Junayed, and here’s the highlight of our encounter.

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

I started very early. I never went to any film school. I used to make short films with my school friends. I did computer science and engineering. I started working in the Indian film industry as an Assistant Director. But there was so much hostility in the film industry. I have grown up watching Hollywood blockbusters. I dreamt about Hollywood since the beginning. But I had no connection in Hollywood. The only faith I had was in my skill. I got a job in a literary agency in Hollywood, where I used to work as a script analyst. And it helped me to understand the film business. I received so many networks over there. I became a poster boy of that agency. Prominent studio executives, writers, directors, and producers used to love me. I left the job and started my own production house, Alavi Motion Pictures. I started a podcast called “late night show with Alavi,” where Hollywood a-listers join and share their journey to inspire the youth. That’s how I started everything.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

It’s getting the right idea. Ideas come and go, but the right idea stays. It haunts the mind for a long time. And anything that creates magic in my mind, I write them.

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

I always believe in originality. If it’s not original, it doesn’t make me feel excited. And I think that’s what viewers want.

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

“You did a great job, Junior!” “Thank you for believing in your dream.”

What is your directing Kryptonite?

Directing a really bad actor on the last schedule. Too many NGs kill the patience.

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

On PRs, maybe. (laughs)

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

I have always believed in the power of storytelling. One film can change perception and can change the world. Filmmaking is a very responsible job. One personal story can change the global perspective. I was an introvert in my childhood. I used to speak through my films. And I still do the same.

Can you tell us more about your latest film?

My latest horror short, “Hunger,” has become a worldwide phenomenon. I didn’t expect this to happen. Last Halloween, I watched Marvel Studios’ Werewolf by Night,’ written and produced by Peter Cameron. Who also produced Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight. After watching Werewolf by Night, I also wanted to make a monster movie. But at the same time, I wanted to represent my culture through the film. I met Peter on a podcast episode. He watched some of the glimpses of hunger. He instantly loved the film and wished to executive produce the film. Peter’s involvement made the film even more bigger and bolder. The film received numerous appreciation from the Hollywood film fraternity. Hunger was screened at the First Cut International film festival on March 18, 2023. The film will be screened at the Festival del Cinema di Cefalu, Italy, on September 2023.  What a journey it was! Marvel Studios’ producer executive produced a film directed by a filmmaker who never went to any film school and had no connection in the film industry.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Having so many followers on social media doesn’t make you a star. Stay grounded.”

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

Have the courage to experiment. If you have a vision, stick to it.

What are your future plans?

My team and I are working on another horror short film. We are working on a feature film also. So, fingers crossed.

Introducing Streets Of Colour: The Film Behind The June 2023 Issue Of FilmCentral Magazine

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Excitement is building as the world premiere of the highly anticipated Australian drama, Streets Of Colour, draws near. This compelling film is scheduled to make its grand debut on June 26 at the iconic Hayden Orpheum Cinema in Sydney, Australia. Audiences are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to witness this captivating production that promises to leave a lasting impact.

The choice of Hayden Orpheum Cinema as the venue for the world premiere adds to the anticipation surrounding the event. Located in the heart of Sydney, this historic cinema has been a cherished institution since its opening in 1935. Known for its stunning art deco architecture and commitment to showcasing a wide range of films, Hayden Orpheum Cinema provides the perfect backdrop for the unveiling of Streets Of Colour.

Experience the gripping journey of Tez in ‘Streets of Colour’: a compelling film produced by Yolandi Franken and written and directed by Ronnie S. Riskalla, which explores identity, redemption, and the consequences of choices.

Starring a talented ensemble cast, including Tez, a 25-year-old drug dealer grappling with a cultural identity crisis and drug addiction who tragically loses custody of his son following the death of his best friend in a racially charged street altercation, ‘Streets of Colour’ delves into the depths of human emotions and challenges.

This thought-provoking film, produced by SkyCross Entertainment in collaboration with Frankendipity Enterprises and Rishi Raj Films, boasts an esteemed team with Chief Executive Producer Dr. Raj Patankar and Executive Producers Drew Pearson and Nenif David, who bring their expertise to elevate the film’s impact.

‘Streets of Colour’ aims to captivate audiences worldwide, with plans for distribution and sales in various regions to follow. Prepare to embark on an emotional rollercoaster as Tez confronts his past, battles addiction, and strives to reclaim his son while attempting to transform his life before it spirals beyond redemption.

In a refreshing departure from the norm, Australian cinema is set to venture into uncharted territory, delving into the captivating world of the outer suburbs. With a tantalizingly brief but promising teaser, anticipation builds as audiences eagerly anticipate the unveiling of this unexplored cinematic landscape.

Leading the charge is the talented Rahel Romahn, a recipient of the prestigious Heath Ledger Scholarship and a recent standout performer alongside Michael Sheen in the acclaimed stage production of “Amadeus.” With his exceptional skills and undeniable on-screen presence, Romahn takes on the challenging lead role, promising to deliver a performance that will captivate and resonate with viewers.

As the teaser hints at the rich tapestry of stories and experiences waiting to be unveiled, excitement mounts for an authentic exploration of the Australian outer suburbs’ lives, struggles, and triumphs. This groundbreaking cinematic endeavour promises to shed light on a world rarely seen on the big screen, offering a fresh perspective and a profound connection to the lives of its characters.

With Rahel Romahn at the helm and a team of talented filmmakers steering this venture, Australian cinema is poised to embark on an exhilarating journey into uncharted territory.

Stay tuned for this compelling film that explores themes of redemption, personal growth, and the consequences of one’s choices in a society plagued by racial tensions and personal struggles. ‘Streets of Colour’ promises to be an immersive cinematic experience that will leave a lasting impact on viewers worldwide. Buckle up and prepare to be immersed in a cinematic experience that will challenge conventions and offer a compelling glimpse into the unexplored depths of the outer suburbs.

“The idea for the film came from my personal experiences suffering at the hands of racism as a child, all the way through to my adult life. The brutality I witnessed was very confronting and frightening, how people treated me because I looked different. Those haunting images followed me for a long time. It wasn’t until it happened to me again in my 30s that I put pen to paper.” Streets Of Colour writer/director Ronnie S. Riskalla.

This captivating film brims with raw self-identity and searing anger, while delivering a desperate plea for peace and understanding. With an exceptional lead performance by Rahel Rohman, whose talents have graced films such as The Combination, Shantaram, and Here Out West, this movie radiates an unparalleled authenticity rarely seen in Australian cinema.

Streets Of Colour tackles poignant themes with unflinching honesty, shedding light on the universal struggles of identity, belonging, and the human desire for redemption. Through Riskalla’s masterful storytelling, the film delves deep into the heart of contemporary Australian society, challenging preconceived notions and fostering a profound understanding of our complex world.

This powerful film intertwines a deeply personal narrative of struggle and redemption with a broader exploration of a vibrant working-class community devastated by drugs, violence, and cultural conflicts. It fearlessly exposes the complexities of life, showcasing both the beauty and the harsh realities. With an unwavering commitment to truth, Streets Of Colour spotlights the individuals caught amidst the chaos. A strong and impactful work from a passionate filmmaker deeply connected to the pulse of Australia, this film demands the attention it deserves, reflecting the nation’s current state.

“We couldn’t be more excited about getting this incredible film in front of local audiences,” says Dov Kornits, the managing director of distributor Screen Inc. “We’re certain that the film will kick-start some very, very interesting conversations. We can’t wait for the premiere on June 26.”

Further exciting news about the Streets of Colour release coming soon. For interviews or any further information, contact Dov Kornits, dov@screeninc.com.au, 0411559519.

Streets of Colour is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Screen Inc. The film is produced by SkyCross Entertainment, in association with Frankendipity Enterprises and Rishi Raj Films, with Chief Executive Producer Dr. Raj Patankar and Executive Producers Drew Pearson and Nenif David.

Get Ready for a Dazzling Spectacle! Streets of Colour World Premiere Hits Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace on June 26!

Excitement is building as the world premiere of the highly anticipated Australian drama, Streets Of Colour, draws near. This compelling film is scheduled to make its grand debut on June 26 at the iconic Hayden Orpheum Cinema in Sydney, Australia. Audiences are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to witness this captivating production that promises to leave a lasting impact.

The choice of Hayden Orpheum Cinema as the venue for the world premiere adds to the anticipation surrounding the event. Located in the heart of Sydney, this historic cinema has been a cherished institution since its opening in 1935. Known for its stunning art deco architecture and commitment to showcasing a wide range of films, Hayden Orpheum Cinema provides the perfect backdrop for the unveiling of Streets Of Colour.

“The idea for the film came from my personal experiences suffering at the hands of racism as a child, all the way through to my adult life. The brutality I witnessed was very confronting and frightening, how people treated me because I looked different. Those haunting images followed me for a long time. It wasn’t until it happened to me again in my 30s that I put pen to paper.” Streets Of Colour writer/director Ronnie S. Riskalla.

This captivating film brims with raw self-identity and searing anger, while delivering a desperate plea for peace and understanding. With an exceptional lead performance by Rahel Rohman, whose talents have graced films such as The Combination, Shantaram, and Here Out West, this movie radiates an unparalleled authenticity rarely seen in Australian cinema. Brace yourself for a contemporary masterpiece that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Follow the tumultuous journey of Tez, portrayed by the mesmerizing Rahel Rohman, a young Middle-Eastern man hailing from Sydney’s western suburbs. Tez grapples with the challenges of straddling two cultures and growing up in a misunderstood neighborhood. Consumed by a deep-rooted self-hatred for his identity and the skin he was born into, Tez finds himself at a crossroads when a life-altering event shatters his world. Losing his pregnant girlfriend, his friends, and everything he holds dear, he spirals into a self-destructive abyss, resorting to drugs and dealing as his path veers perilously downward.

Yet, amidst the darkness, a glimmer of hope emerges. True love and an emotional odyssey of self-discovery, culture, and spirituality beckon to Tez, promising redemption and a chance to reclaim his shattered life. As the gripping narrative unfolds, audiences will witness Tez’s relentless pursuit of meaning and healing, grappling with his past, his roots, and the inner demons that threaten to consume him.

Streets Of Colour tackles poignant themes with unflinching honesty, shedding light on the universal struggles of identity, belonging, and the human desire for redemption. Through Riskalla’s masterful storytelling, the film delves deep into the heart of contemporary Australian society, challenging preconceived notions and fostering a profound understanding of our complex world.

Rahel Rohman’s captivating performance anchors the film, immersing viewers in Tez’s emotional turmoil with unparalleled intensity. The on-screen chemistry and dynamic interactions with an exceptional ensemble cast further heighten the film’s impact, ensuring an unforgettable cinematic experience.

With Streets Of Colour, Riskalla has crafted a masterpiece that transcends boundaries, inviting audiences to confront their own biases, question societal norms, and embrace the transformative power of compassion and self-acceptance. This riveting drama pushes the boundaries of Australian cinema, delivering a message that resonates deeply within viewers’ hearts.

Prepare to be moved, challenged, and inspired as Streets Of Colour transports you into a world pulsating with emotion and gripping authenticity. Brace yourself for an unforgettable cinematic journey that will leave you contemplating the power of identity, the pursuit of redemption, and the universal yearning for understanding.

“I’ve had a passion for films since the age of five, and I was always drawn to stories that were meaningful and that affected me as a viewer,” says Ronnie S. Riskalla. “As much as I got lost in Hollywood fantasy films, I always found solace in real-world stories. The reason I wanted to tell this specific story is because it has the potential to be a captivatingly truthful depiction of people in our society. It will provide a gripping look into a world that is familiar to many, but also the underground world that a lot of people would never experience – the world of Western Sydney.” The story is inspired by and loosely based on Riskalla’s own life.

This powerful film intertwines a deeply personal narrative of struggle and redemption with a broader exploration of a vibrant working-class community devastated by drugs, violence, and cultural conflicts. It fearlessly exposes the complexities of life, showcasing both the beauty and the harsh realities. With an unwavering commitment to truth, Streets Of Colour spotlights the individuals caught amidst the chaos. A strong and impactful work from a passionate filmmaker deeply connected to the pulse of Australia, this film demands the attention it deserves, reflecting the nation’s current state.

“We couldn’t be more excited about getting this incredible film in front of local audiences,” says Dov Kornits, the managing director of distributor Screen Inc. “We’re certain that the film will kick-start some very, very interesting conversations. We can’t wait for the premiere on June 26.”

To coincide with the world premiere announcement, a second Streets Of Colour teaser trailer has been released and can be found below:

Streets Of Colour will premiere on June 26 at The Hayden Orpheum in Sydney. Tickets can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ycxtrbnz
Further exciting news about the Streets of Colour release coming soon. For interviews or any further information, contact Dov Kornits, dov@screeninc.com.au, 0411559519
Streets of Colour is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Screen Inc. The film is produced by SkyCross Entertainment, in association with Frankendipity Enterprises and Rishi Raj Films, with Chief Executive Producer Dr. Raj Patankar and Executive Producers Drew Pearson and Nenif David. 

Breaking Barriers and Shining on the Silver Screen: Liz Lin’s Inspiring Journey in the Film Industry

Liz Lin is a passionate young actor of Chinese-Australian heritage who speaks English and Chinese fluently. She strongly advocates for better representation of Asians, intersectional feminism, and diversity on and off the screen.

Originally born in Perth, Liz spent her early years in Shanghai before moving to Sydney at the age of three. It was during her childhood in Sydney that Liz’s love for performing blossomed. At just five years old, she began creating and staging her own shows in the living room, captivating her parents with her talent. However, as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, Liz faced discouragement when it came to pursuing a career in the arts.

Despite the obstacles, Liz excelled academically and followed the “conventional” path for many years. She attended an academically selective high school and pursued a combined Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Information Systems at the university.

However, during her final year of university, Liz realized that this path was not aligned with her true passion. With immense courage, she decided to pursue her dreams in the performing arts. Liz sought training under the guidance of esteemed coaches such as Lisa Robertson, Miranda Harcourt, Kevin Jackson, and Donald Woodburn. Through acting and storytelling, her goal is to give voice to underrepresented communities, promote acceptance, and empower others.

In 2022, Liz achieved her breakthrough in theater with her debut performances in KXT/Panimo’s “Tough Titties,” which enjoyed a sold-out season, and New Theatre’s “Chimerica,” where she played the pivotal role of Liuli. Her notable film and television credits include “Lonesome,” which received a nomination for Best Indie Film at the 2022 AACTA Awards, “Fruity,” selected for prestigious festivals like Flickerfest and St Kilda Film Festival in 2022, “Women in Refrigerators” (2021), and the AFTRS short film “Mansplaining” (2022).

Liz’s journey reflects her unwavering commitment to breaking barriers and creating positive change through her craft, while also celebrating her multicultural background and heritage.

Liz recently had the opportunity to sit down with FilmCentral Magazine for an insightful interview, shedding light on her remarkable journey in the film industry. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m an actor and an avid fan of fashion, animals (particularly dogs), and a massive foodie.

Can you tell us something that would surprise us about you?

I have a double degree in Commerce and Information Systems.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I’ve been a massive fan of performing since I was a little kid, but it seemed out of reach. When I was in uni, I decided I was going to chase after this dream of mine. I remember a girl I worked with at Grill’d studied at Screenwise and so I started with a course there and have not stopped acting since.

What factors do you think contributed to your success as an actor?

Obsession and delusion. Both are innate traits in me and being obsessed with this art form and constantly seeking to improve and learn contributes to my success. Also, a healthy dose of delusion that everything will work out because sometimes this industry feels like a slot machine.

Which do you consider to be the standout roles of your career to date?

My first supporting lead role in the film ‘Fruity’ as Emily. This was my first acting role and first time on set, period. The story was incredible, I absolutely loved working with the team behind it, and the character was so much fun. And it premiered at Flickerfest – seeing myself on a movie screen for the first time was crazy.

A film that is currently in post-production is called ‘Mansplaining’ in which I play the lead character of Jen Li. That was such a fantastic role that allowed me to showcase a range of emotions – particularly this rageful monologue that I do in Mandarin. Working on that was such a rewarding experience.

What do you like most about acting?

Exploring the depth and range of human experience. I love delving into a character and doing research like a little scavenger.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing directors, including Craig Boreham (Lonesome), Caitlin Royston (Fruity), Suzanna Steele (Mansplaining), Alessia Francischiello (Deep Pockets, Empty Hearts). I’ve learned from directors to see filmmaking from more perspectives – they bring the words on the page to life with sound, lighting, camera work, set design, and so much more. It’s not just the acting, and I think having that perspective is so valuable and helps me adjust my performances to what the story needs.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

The oversupply of actors for a small number of roles. Which becomes even smaller when looking at roles for people of colour. Putting your vulnerability out there in your art and hearing no (or most of the time nothing at all), but continuing to do it over and over again.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

As an actor, I absolutely love bringing a script to life through a deep exploration of my character. Perhaps one of the most challenging things is learning a new skill you’ve never tried before, but that’s also so much fun.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

Work on my craft, sleep, try new restaurants, watch a lot of Youtube, dance, hang out with friends, travel, and spend time with my family and my dog. I’m trying not to be so chronically online.

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

Having a movie and being nominated for an AACTA Award, having that movie premiere at Sydney Film Festival and sell out for Mardi Gras Film Festival, being artistically supported by my coach Lisa Robertson, and working with incredible actors, directors, and scripts.

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

I’m so interested in everyone I meet because everyone is so unique and has experiences and backstories so unique to them, so I really can’t pick the most interesting.

What advice would you give to other Asian women looking to make an acting career? 

Your voice is unique and needed in this industry. Your experiences are valid and important; don’t be afraid to take up space.

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

That’s the crazy thing about this career – you never know what could happen tomorrow. At the moment, I’m about to shoot a romantic thriller set in 1960s post-colonial Hong Kong, and after that, I’m shooting a European arthouse horror movie with an all-female cast.

Is there anything else interesting you can tell us?

Omg, this is like those icebreaker questions, “Tell us something interesting about yourself,” which always makes me sweat! (laughs) I suddenly have a crisis about being completely uninteresting. I’ll recommend two books I’ve read recently that I’m obsessed with and would love to be a part of if they ever adapted it for the screen. The first is called ‘Parachutes’ by Kelly Yang, and the second is called ‘The Poppy War’ by R.F. Kuang. Both are written by Asian-American writers!

Introducing The CEO Of Tigertail Pictures, Tian Liu

Tian Liu, one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the USA, is the CEO of Tigertail Pictures. This production company offers a unique approach to the world of video and animation by collaborating with clients to capture their most influential stories. The engine behind Tigertail Pictures is its in-house team and a massive network of filmmakers and photographers. Tigertail Pictures is AN AGENCY BUILT TO CREATE REAL VALUE. They are the growth partner. They’re a nimble, hungry, results-driven firm. They execute with purpose and focus on measurable, actionable results.

Under Tian’s leadership, Tigertail Pictures has been delivering work that powers game-changing companies and global influencers. A graduate of Harvard Business School (Executive Education), the New York Film Academy, and an outstanding director of Photography, Tian Liu has truly carved out a reputation for herself as a highly influential person in the US media market. Her works have made appearances on the covers of “VOGUE,” “GQ,” “Forbes,” and other international magazines such as “Fox,” “Business Insider,” and many other mainstream media have commented and conducted exclusive interviews for her company’s advertising works. She has won more than 50 best cinematography awards at film festivals, and her film and television works have been shortlisted twice at the French Cannes Film Festival. She has worked with the likes of Oscar winner Tim Burton, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Lynne Littman, and three-time Oscar nominee for best cinematography Dean Cundey.

Short Film “The Horn” Shot Entirely On 16mm Film Has Been Completed

Director M.P. Wills (Mark Wills) has just finished his latest short film, THE HORN, which was shot entirely on 16mm film by Kieran Fowler NZCS ACS. Produced by Yolandi Franken, Heath Ledger Scholarship recipients Rahel Romahn and Mojean Aria, and executive produced by Oscar Leal, the film tells a captivating story about an adolescent girl trying to understand her mother’s obsession with a mysterious horn sound coming from the sky. The film promises to leave audiences on the edge of their seats while delivering a strange and beautifully haunting experience.

THE HORN stars Gabrielle Chan and An Dang, who both deliver stellar performances playing their roles as mother and daughter.

Shot on location in Sydney, the decision to shoot on film was deliberate for the creative team. Having shot his previous short film Blood Orange in 35mm, which premiered at Australia’s Flickerfest in 2019, Wills explained, “I think digital camera’s really tend to focus on resolution. It strives for perfection and tries to remove the imperfection in the image; things are always so clear and feel so real in the frame, but for me, everytime I go to the movies I want to be taken out of reality, not put back in it. That’s why I always gravitate towards shooting on film, because the textures and grain are the colour of our memories; they’re able to instantly pull you out of reality and take you back in time. You just can’t achieve that in digital.”

Indeed, the team faced several challenges while shooting on film. They had to be mindful of each frame, as film can be expensive and limited in quantity. This meant they had to be very strategic in their shot choices, often rehearsing and testing each shot before rolling the camera.

But for Wills and his team, the challenges were all worth it in the end. Looking forward, Mark is also planning on shooting his debut feature film – a Thai-Australian horror on 35mm, citing film as an art-form that he feels should be celebrated and preserved, not forgotten. “I think it’s really important that more and more people continue to shoot on film and explore it as a viable option for their films. It definitely has a more complicated workflow, but if you have the right crew and you’re economical with the way you shoot, it’s all worth it in the end; on top of having wonderful imagery, there’s this kind of wisdom that it passes down onto you as a filmmaker. And you never forget those lessons.”

The film, which just finished post-production, promises to be a cinematic experience unlike any other. With a talented cast and crew and the added authenticity of shooting on film, audiences can expect a short film that is both visually stunning and emotionally impactful.

One On One With Award-Winning Actor & Filmmaker Maria Tran

Maria Tran is an award-winning US-based, Vietnamese-Australian actor, filmmaker, and martial artist working across film & TV, stage & performance, and fight action choreography. She is the founder of female-led Phoenix Eye Films (In the US and Australia).

Her international film credits include “Fist of the Dragon,” “Death Mist,” and “Tracer/Truy Sat.” In 2013, she won the Breakout Female Performer award at the International Action on Film Festival, and in 2016, she was awarded Female Action Performer of the Year at MartialCon. She is also the director and producer of “Hit Girls,” a female-led action comedy. In Australia, she has appeared on several TV shows, including “My Place,” “Maximum Choppage,” “Street Smart” and “Fat Pizza.”

Maria has also worked as a stunt performer in movies such as Jackie Chan’s “Bleeding Steel” and “MEG” in New Zealand. In 2022, five months after moving to the United States, she landed her breakthrough role as Madame Tien on the 10-episode crime drama Paramount series “Last King of the Cross” starring Tim Roth.

Maria has also been involved in stage productions, including as a fight director and performer for Bell Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and her own theater production “Action Star,” which premiered at the OzAsia Festival in Adelaide in 2022. She has received the prestigious $50,000 Create NSW Western Sydney Arts Fellowship award and established Phoenix Eye Films, a female-led film and art collective based in Western Sydney.

Maria is also known for her documentary filmmaking work, including “Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta” and “My Mother, The Action Star,” which won the award for Best Film at the WIFT-V Fest Film Festival. Occasionally, she works as an action fight director for films such as “Ayotti” and “Terror Zone.” Her feature action thriller ‘Echo 8’; Australia’s first female-led action movie, has currently won several awards, including the Tokyo Film Awards for Best Film, Winner for Best Feature Film – Women’s Film at the World Carnival-Singapore Film Festival and will be scheduled for a screening at the Art Gallery of NSW this year. Maria is a trailblazer known for her community, cultural, and development practices in the film, TV, and entertainment industry.

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

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m a triple threat; an award-winning actor, producer, and director working across film & TV, stage & performance, & fight action choreography. I’m the founder of female-led Phoenix Eye Films (AUS & US) and co-facilitator of Acting for Mindfulness (AFM).

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I started on an independent Kung Fu comedy titled “Maximum Choppage” around 20 years ago while studying for a Bachelor of Psychology. I would dabble in a range of creative arts projects that put me both in front and behind the camera, and my transition into my first job was as a Youth Digital Cultures Coordinator and Information & Cultural Exchange (ICE), where I led the development and implementation of screen cultures across Western Sydney’s culturally diverse.

What do you like most about acting?

Acting is a tool of empowerment for the individual self as we strive to explore our body, voice, and imagination. I’m very fascinated by human psychology, the choices people from diverse walks of life make, and the opportunity to embark on the creative process of developing a character, bringing it to life on stage or screen and exploring new stories and worlds. It is also a form of self-expression, a way to communicate emotions, ideas, and perspectives to people around us. As an actor, I can bring joy and entertainment to others. On stage and screen, I love the challenge and reward of taking on new characters and taking them on a journey that impacts the audiences that view them.

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

Both movies and TV series offer unique and rewarding experiences for actors. The choice between the two depends on the project; the role offered, and the actor’s personal preferences and goals. Movies tend to have shorter and more intense shooting schedules that are more immersive, and I get a chance to really dive into their characters and the story. TV series, on the other hand, often have a more extended production schedule and a more serialized format. This allows for deeper character development and more opportunities for actors to explore different aspects of their characters over time.

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

My conventional trajectory as an actor originated in creating my independent films over the past 15 years. It has its benefits of wearing multiple hats of director, producer, fight action choreography, etc. however, when I transition into mainstream films and television, I tend to be hyperaware of the film production set. Sometimes I enjoy immersing myself and appreciating the other roles that make a film set seamless that I forget that I should only be fulfilling the role as a performer. Also, because I’ve had no formal training and am self-taught, I find it challenging to explain how I get into character, and other actors might find me professionally unrelatable. Ways that I’ve tried to improve this to reverse engineer the field of acting practices, study different techniques, and merge acting into psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. Ultimately, the key to improving as an actor is a combination of hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn and grow continuously. Actors who are open to feedback, willing to take risks, and committed to their craft often make the greatest progress and achieve the most success.

What are your strong points as an actor?

Authenticity, depth, and nuance to performances and creating a connection with the audience. I thrive on connecting with my characters on a deep emotional level. Years of training in martial arts and movement have allowed me the physicality, being able to use my body to bring the characters to life. Having a vivid imagination and strong collaboration skills is, perhaps, my biggest asset as an actor. I don’t believe in minor roles. Every role an actor breathes life into is a chance for audiences to be moved by something new.

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

I’ve worked with many amazing directors, including Antony Szeto (‘Fist of the Dragon,’ ‘Death Mist’), Jane Eakin (‘Street Smart’), Karen Therese (‘Action Star’), Kieran Darcy Smith (‘Last King of the Cross’), Adrian Castro (‘Tiger Cops’) and I have also turned into one myself, and I’ve learned that they have varied styles, but all have a clear vision. They know how and what scenes look, sound, and feel. I’ve learned to be able to interpret this for my own performances. Directors offer character insight, motivations, and relationships with other characters. technical aspects of filmmaking, such as lighting, sound, camera angles, and editing. Directing is a collaborative process, and directors work closely with actors, writers, and other members of the production team to bring their vision to life

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

Many actors compete for a limited number of roles, and the competition can be intense. Actors may face a lot of rejection before finding success. Actors need to have thick skin and handle disappointment and setbacks. You may also face stereotypes and typecast based on your looks, accent, or previous roles. Internal challenges include facing insecurities and self-doubt, as the craft is a personal and vulnerable process. In addition, acting is a volatile and unpredictable career with the instability of constantly moving from one project to another, which can be frustrating to someone who can’t handle the constant change.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

The production process can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more for a small, low-budget film. This can include pre-production activities such as writing the script, securing funding, casting actors, and scouting locations, as well as production activities such as filming and post-production activities such as editing and sound design. Making an independent film is often a long and challenging process that requires patience, persistence, and a deep passion for filmmaking.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I stay relatively busy maintaining my creative skills such as self-study, networking, self-care, getting involved in other people’s projects, and travelling between my two residencies, Australia and the United States. Going on road trips with my husband/ creative partner is something I look forward to in my downtime and spending time with my family.

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

I’ve had an incredible unconventional journey so far as a performer and filmmaker. I’ve been able to work with the impressive Jackie Chan on “Bleeding Steel” and can world premiere my theatre production “Action Star” at the OzAsia Festival. A defining moment is completing Australia’s first female-led independent action movie, “Echo 8,” on such a tight budget. And now, moving to the United States and landing a major role in the upcoming series “Last King of the Cross” has been an enormous accomplishment.

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

Jackie Chan, Nancy Valentine Smith, and Tim Roth.

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

I see the rest of my career trajectory as becoming the next generation of low-budget independent filmmaker ‘slashies’ that will garner the attention of the mainstream. Eventually, I’ll be able to sustain myself in the industry through the creative endeavours I choose. Since the release of ‘Echo 8’ and its positive reception, I’m currently working with screenwriter Elizabeth H. Vu in penning together the next two movie cinematic universe installments of ‘ Echo 8 Beyond’ and ‘Five By Five’ to be shot back-to-back in 2025. I aim to build a strong reputation around this, the female action forte that will make me and my film colleagues stand out internationally. I also hope to diversify my range of projects in different genres and styles to showcase my versatility, collaborate with filmmakers in the United States, build networks, gain new skills and experiences, and adapt to new technologies and market trends.

Make Way For AACTAs 2022 On The Cover Of The February 2023 Issue Of FilmCentral Magazine

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The AACTA Awards (formerly the AFI Awards) has honoured screen excellence in Australia since the first AFI Awards were held in 1958.

Held annually in Sydney in recognition and celebration of Australia’s highest achievements in film and television, the AACTA Awards present over 55 awards across two major ceremonies.

The peer-assessed AACTA Awards are the only Australian industry body to honour practitioners across all crafts and industry sectors, including feature film, documentary, short film, television, online, visual effects, and animation.

The Awards have grown to become a world-class marker of screen excellence alongside the Oscars® and the BAFTAs. Many of Australia’s most iconic and successful screen talent, both in front of and behind the camera – from actors such as Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Deborah Mailman, and Hugo Weaving, to directors such as Bruce Beresford, Gillian Armstrong, Dr. George Miller, and Warwick Thornton, to craftspeople such as Jill Bilcock, Catherine Martin and John Seale – have come through the ranks and been recognised among their peers at the AFI and AACTA Awards before going on to achieve international accolades and become household names.

Sonia Kruger, Mark Coles Smith, and the cast of Heartbreak High were among the stars to walk the carpet at the star-studded ceremony last year as the industry came together to honour Australia’s best and brightest screen talent.

Elvis and Mystery Road: Origin led the winners at the 2022 AACTA Awards Ceremony. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis was the biggest winner of the night, taking home four additional Awards, including the coveted award for Best Film, Best Direction in Film presented by Filmology Finance (Baz Luhrmann), Best Lead Actor (Austin Butler), and Best Supporting Actress in Film (Olivia DeJonge). Elvis dominated the AACTA Industry Awards with 7 wins, bringing the total AACTA Award count to 11.

In television, Mystery Road: Origin received an additional 3 AACTA Awards, including Best Drama Series, as well as Best Lead Actor (Mark Coles Smith) and Actress (Tuuli Narkle) in a Drama presented by Foxtel. After receiving 4 AACTA Awards during the Industry Awards, Mystery Road: Origin lead the TV Award categories with a total of 7 AACTA Awards.

Another big winner was internet-sensation Heartbreak High. The teen drama swept all 3 of their eligible public-voted Audience Choice Award categories, including Best TV Show, Best Actor (Bryn Chapman), and Best Actress (Chloe Hayden). The Audience Choice Awards continued with Kat Clark crowned Best Digital Creator and Abbie Chatfield given the title of Australia’s Best TV Personality.

Chris Hemsworth was the recipient of the Trailblazer Award. The AACTA Trailblazer Award highlights the achievements, abilities, and success of an Australian screen practitioner who inspires others in the industry. Hemsworth was honoured for his outstanding career and contribution to the Australian screen industry as one of the most famous residents of the NSW North Coast; Hemsworth has used his position and status to attract global productions to Australia, creating jobs and opportunities for hundreds of local screen practitioners and championing the Australian film industry.

Local artists launch web series on youth mental health

 
Canberrans will be the first to enjoy a sneak preview of an award-winning Canberra web series on youth mental health when it launches at the National Film and Sound Archives on 23 February.

Fragments thrust viewers into the world of eight teenagers navigating anxiety, depression, bullying, family dysfunction, gender dysphoria, body dysmorphia, neurodivergence, and more. Written by Maura Pierlot, the series aims to encourage candid discussions about mental health and well-being, chip away at the stigma, and encourage young people to check in with each other on a regular basis.

Supported by the ACT Government through artsACT, Fragments was awarded the Best TV/Web Series and Best Screenplay awards (Canberra category) at the 2022 Canberra Short Film Festival.

Pierlot, who is also Executive Producer, believes there is still work to do. “We’re getting better at talking about mental health and wellbeing, but there’s often a disconnect between words and action,” she said.

“I sometimes worry that we’re talking about the need to talk about mental health without really tackling the nitty-gritty issues. Fragments aim to help bridge that gap.”

The 8-episode web series will be launched by ACT Arts Minister, Tara Cheyne. The free event includes a film screening, followed by a Q&A with the Fragments production team. Award-winning documentary director-producer and Canberran, Michael Lawrence-Taylor, will emcee the event.

Producer Dan Sanguineti, who was a 2022 Finalist in the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards for his work supporting Canberra filmmakers, devised an ambitious production approach to bring Fragments to life on the screen, involving many talents that showcase the diversity of Canberra’s film community.

“We selected eight different Canberra film creatives, each directing an episode,” said Sanguineti. “Coupled with eight young performers, each director brought their own visual style and experience to the project.”

The Fragments web series is adapted from Pierlot’s stage play of the same name, which enjoyed a sell-out debut season at The Street Theatre in 2019 and was published in script format in 2021 by Big Ideas Press. Boasting new material, the second edition of the book will be available at the launch, ahead of its 1 March release.

Praised as brilliant and riveting, the novel is aimed at high school students but is also an eye-opening read for families and carers.

For Pierlot, the six-year Fragments journey has inspired changes in herself, her art practice, and her personal and professional goals.

“Like the characters in Fragments, I’ve had to dig deep to adapt, transform and stay connected, while carving a path forward in an ever-changing world,” Pierlot said.

Sanguineti agrees, citing the biggest challenges to bringing the web series to screens, “Producing with eight different styles and approaches was a mammoth challenge, particularly as we started pre-production just before Canberra’s last pandemic lockdown, which added complexities to getting the episodes shot. However, the finished series shows how rewarding it can be as a producer to see the successes when an entire team comes together.”

Fragments is written and executive produced by Maura Pierlot. It is produced by Dan Sanguineti. The Production Designer is John Silvestro and the Director of Photography is Miguel Gallagher. The episodes were directed by Joshua Koske, Carl Emmerson, Matthew J. Thompson, Julia Faragher, Declan Shrubb, Denai Gracie, Anthea Staats, and Shelly Higgs. The series cast includes performances by Tom Bryson, Linda Chen, Ankush Khanchi, Jade Breen, Rahel Alemseged, Brendan Kelly, Erin Pierlot, and Zane Menegazzo.

You can view the trailer here:  Fragments

The launch is 6 pm for a 7 pm screening. Register to attend via Eventbrite