My Freelance Work

  • How Food Stylists Find the Right Recipe for TV Show Meals

    Variety5/01/19

    Tamara Reynolds’ first gig as a food stylist was no small job. Tasked with creating around 200 plates that, as she recalls, “would look Wolfgang Puck-y” for a wedding scene on the now-defunct USA Network series “Royal Pains,” her dishes included red kale and a zucchini cup filled with mashed potatoes and topped with cherry tomatoes. So far, so delicious.

    “It was tall and colorful and looked great,” she says. “And it was sitting out all day in the summertime, when it was hot as balls.” Late in the day, an extra ate the potatoes and … well, the result wasn’t pretty.

    “Trial by fire,” says Reynolds. “Welcome to food styling.”

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  • Boom in TV Period Dramas Raises Demand for History Consultants

    Variety3/27/19

    Ask production designer Maria Djurkovic how she researched period-accurate sets for the late 1970s-set espionage miniseries “The Little Drummer Girl,” which airs on AMC, and she answers: books, the internet, some personal experience. But then she brings up her secret weapon: Philip Clark.

    “Phil is something like a detective,” she says. “He can respond to a very specific brief, and my inbox will soon be filled with thousands of images that are appropriate. He has a skill of tracking everything down.”

    It may take a village to shoot a TV series, but historically based shows such as “Drummer Girl,” Starz’s “The Spanish Princess,” FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” History’s “Vikings,” Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” and PBS Masterpiece’s “Victoria” rarely get very far without some added know-how. 

    It’s these outside experts who make the shows historically believable. But even though their work is invaluable, their compensation is as varied as the shows themselves — and clouded by blurry distinctions between the rights of authors and the public domain. 

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  • The Envys: The film awards you didn’t see coming

    L.A. Times Envelope2/15/19

    Faces and films change every year at the Oscars, but only rarely do we see an award added. This means that the number of overlooked props, tropes and performances that go unheralded (or un-chastised) continue to pile up. In our annual effort to make sure everybody has a chance at a prize, we present the overlooked masterpieces and serious slip-ups that deserve shout-outs this awards season. Behold: The Envy Awards!

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  • Do Multiple Craft Nominations Indicate a Best Picture Oscar? Yes and No

    Variety - 2/13/19

    When Barry Alexander Brown received a film editing nomination for “BlackKklansman” (above, right) in January, he had to prepare a statement for the press. “I said, ‘Look, I wouldn’t be here without all this other talent in the movie,’” he recalls. “When you look at a film and it gets all of the best awards, that tells a story. This is what I’m given as an editor to work with. I can’t do my work if everyone doesn’t deliver.”

    Strictly by nominations, two films delivered strongest this year: “Roma” and “The Favourite” (above, left) received 10 nods each. (“BlacKkKlansman” earned six.) But when any film accumulates a stack of potential wins, it’s hard not to wonder if this year could be a sweep year. Will there be a convergence of opinions? Will the record books need to be rewritten?

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  • Costume Designer Sandy Powell Leads Field of Oscar-Nominated Peers

    Variety - 2/13/19

    Sandy Powell has done it again: For the third time in her career, she’s doubled up on nominations in the category of costume design, with her nominations this year for “Mary Poppins Returns” and “The Favourite.” But almost equally extraordinary is the fact that she worked on both films concurrently.

    “I lived on adrenaline,” says Powell when recalling the heady days of bouncing between 1930s fantasy London (“Poppins”) and 18th century Queen Anne’s court (“Favourite”). “It was incredibly exciting, but keeping them separate in my mind involved a lot of scheduling by my assistants.”

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  • Some Hair and Makeup Oscar Contenders Went Prosthetic, Others Used Traditional Tricks

    Variety - 2/13/19

    A historical British royal drama. A biopic of an American vice president. A Swedish film about real-life trolls. All three of this year’s Academy Award nominees for hair and makeup showcase a wide range of visual effects on the faces and bodies of their stars, but there’s one subject everyone has an opinion on: the use of prosthetics, or not, in “Mary Queen of Scots,” “Vice,” and “Border.”

    “Last year, prosthetics won the Oscar,” says hair and makeup designer Jenny Shircore, nominated with Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks for “Mary,” referring to the young boy’s headpiece in “Wonder.”

    “Prosthetics are the modern way of changing a character’s look, but I felt heartened that we had used a simpler form of makeup, with brushes and sponges [in ‘Mary’], yet it was considered worthy of a nomination alongside major prosthetics,” adds the Oscar winner (1998’s “Elizabeth”).

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  • Record of the Year: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

    Grammy Awards - 2/10/19

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s duet is called “Shallow,” but don’t let that fool you: it’s one of the deeper songs released in 2018.

    And it has to have depth, carrying the weight of being not just another love song – but one that showcases its singers’ different vocal styles while also setting the stage for a huge plot turn in the latest iteration of A Star Is Born, for which it was written. It does all of those things with pinpoint, professional precision.

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  • Prop or lucky charm? For character or comfort? These film items come straight from the actors

    L.A. Times Envelope - 1/23/19

    An emerald ring, a stuffed bear, a jacket — props and costumes always help ground actors in a film’s story, but few things are more powerful to have on set than something they personally connect with. “It’s a little whisper to yourself in the movie,” says John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”). The Envelope tracked down several of the things actors carried — sometimes directly from home — onto the set and listened to what those whispers sounded like.

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  • Glenn Close, John C. Reilly and other stars on what happens to their characters after the movie ends

    L.A. Times Envelope - 1/09/19

    When the credits roll, a movie’s story is over — or is it? That could depend on what chair you’re in. As a first-time director (of the family drama “Wildlife”), Paul Dano says he hasn’t thought about what comes after the credits in his picture. “The final image is the ending. That’s the film for me. It’s a moment of grace.” But when he shifts into the actor’s chair and recalls playing Brian Wilson in “Love & Mercy,” it’s a different story. “You spend so much time preparing for a role and doing it, it doesn’t just disappear,” he says. That’s the case for other actors, who often spend time building their character’s backstory, figuring out their life before the events of the film take place. So why not create an “after-story” as well? The Envelope spoke with some performers who did just that. Oh, and we’re talking about film endings here. If you haven’t seen “Widows,” “Leave No Trace,” “The Sisters Brothers” or “The Wife,” and don’t want to know how they end, turn the page now.

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  • 8 magic moments: Directors reveal what scene is key to their film

    L.A. Times Envelope - 1/09/19

    All films contain a beginning, a middle and an end. But for most directors there is one key scene that ties everything together or reveals a key motivation or turning point in the story. It can be a big dramatic moment or a quiet glimpse of an actor’s face that says it all. And more often than not, it is the scene that lingers in your memory after leaving the theater. The Envelope talked with the directors of eight of this season’s award-contending films to find out what scene for them was at the core of their films.

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