Saturday, August 30, 2014

THEATRE: "It's War!" Written/ Directed by Alex Lykos

When I first heard of this project, I was a little reluctant to get on board. There's plenty of wannabe theatre makers out there that keep on making content that just don't gel with audiences....entertainment them....or at least is thought provoking. 

Also, there's just not much going around from ethnic artists that tell stories from the inside out, instead of the other way around. Then there's Alex Lykos -- a theatre maker underdoggie champion of the Greek community. His long time success is theatre-turned-movie "Alex & Eve". 

Lykos is quite a humble man. He loves his track-a-dacks but operates like clockwork and there's no airy fairiness when it comes it rehearsal scheduling. His directing style is quite similar to mine, unconventional and quite emotive and I'm in awe on how he works. 

Theatre is a relatively new craft to me. I've done a couple of play before such as facilitating "Aussie Cuoi" with Lex Marinos and a few snippety martial arts based performances. Then there's Playwriting Australia's Lotus Program that I got a chance to get the lowdown in play writing. 

But this play is exciting. I play Vietnamese import "Ngoc Bich" and this is a crazy colourful character that is a reflection of my mum and aunts in a blender.
There's a lot of "Domas" to be heard from my fiesty pocket rocket character, and her wannabe fight stances will sure be a crack up as she tries on several punch ups with her Greek counterpart; Soula. I'm not going to say much more, you have to come to the play.

A couple things I love about this play and commend it for it economics. Small cast, small staging but large stories and a whole lot of wackiness. 

Working with Lykos makes me inspired to get into theatre. Film is my thing, I know; but theatre is so exciting and lived experience. I think my acting has improved exponentially as well! I'm able to digest pages of scripting and present it's truth. No fear. Just character. 
Love it! Do book in to see the show!

Friday, August 29, 2014

TEACHING: Sutherland Christian Shire School

I love teaching. In between the diverse projects that occupy every moment of my life; my bread and butter from teaching film is a blessing. I had an opportunity to travel all the way to the Shire, work with 14 students in making 3 films: a social twerking mockumentary, a film about the personification of feelings and a futuristic world where everything is in sync. 
Teaching is a breathe of fresh air. I get to give kids my tried and tested knowledge and divulge into their own creativity. It gets even more exciting when dull kids are running around and motivated to get all the shots and then plunge into a tight editing deadline.  What's more impressive is when they go out the way to get the highest production value they can get on their 5 hour shoots. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BLOGGIT: End of August, 2014

Date: Thursday, 28th of August, 2015
Time: 7.30am
Location: Sutherland Shire High School

I seriously don't know where to start. The last 3-4 months has been a crazy whirlwind; overseas trip to Hong Kong and Beijing, from entering and winning People's Choice at the Dreamgirl 2014 pageant competition, to being a main cast in Alex Lykos's theatre production "It's War!" and now just sitting in my Toyota 86 and getting ready to teach another AFTRS school filmmaking workshop all the way in the woop woop of Sutherland. Life just gets more varied and full of life.

Not to mention that in the coming months I'll be straight back into scheduled trips to Malaysia, China and possibly New York for more movie making fun! 

And yes....Hit Girls 2 is on the way for a Nov/Dec shoot! More details will be revealed.

In the meantime, I will try not to procrastinate and keep you updated on my adventures!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

FILM SHOOT: Ch 7's "Australia: The Story of Us"

1 day after the fall of Saigon commemoration, I find myself in an acting gig playing a Vietnamese mother set in the 70s and giving away her baby child in a reenactment scene for Channel 7's "The Story of Us". 

It's been quite sometime since I've sharpened my acting skills; but this gig definitely kick started it.

My directions were to run across the Tarmac with a live baby in my arms and hand it over to the Australian nurses for them to take away; knowing that, that is the final moments I will ever see my son again. Such a heartbreaking scene. 

Years of making shorts, studying psychology and directing indie project finally helped. I understood where the camera set ups were, how to prep myself up, and how create that visual image in my head that will bring the real deal water works out of me...several takes as well. 

No need for the eye droppers people! The real tears is the deal maker. I recall seeing the other cast and director well up as well. I've made an impact; not only to them, but to myself. For the first time, I feel like a legitimate actor and it's a call to action for me to work more harder and understand the mechanics of my internals. I really want to be a great actor; a versatile actor and one that is really memorable. So let this be a start to that thought.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Maria Tran's CV/ Resumes for 2014

Here's an update to what this multi-tasking freakoid of a being has been up to these days. My CVs are usually just a summary only, enquire within and you'll find a lot of other things going on. :).

I'm always on the look out for any innovative and creative projects with collaborate or be a part of as artistic, creative director or facilitator.

Acting CV/ Resume
Workshop Facilitor/ Creative Projects Resume

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014: Kick start with ABC's Maximum Choppage

Post teaching at AFTRS, I nose dived straight into working on Kung fu series in the making Maximum Choppage. The concept spawned out of the original indie feature film that was made 5 years ago in 2008 in Cabramatta with fellow indie filmmaker; Timothy Ly. I was part of this collective and we called ourselves "Rumble Pictures". Since then, one of Australia's leading film production mob; Matchbox Pictures have optioned and developed it into a 6 part series scheduled to air at the end of 2014 on ABC2 starring Lawrence Leung. 

So what am I doing on it? I'm working as an associate producer/ extras casting coordinator as well as a screen fighting double. Thrice of a role but definitely a great variation for me to be on my toes.

It's been 3-4 weeks in this role and my 8am-6pm involves working with the other show producers (Julie Eckersley, Linda Miscko & Sophie Miller) and mediating between all the different departments from Art, locations, fights etc... just to make sure every effort ensures the best possible outcome for the production of the show. In between that, I have to fit in the cardio and martial arts training required for my role as a double. The other biggest chuck is the extras casting and getting it across the Asian community that this is worthwhile and a rarity. How often do you watch shows that you see Asian faces everywhere on Australian TV? Perhaps we are creating history? 

Only 3 days left till we start shoot so I'm definitely excited and nervous at the same time. Once the production train starts, it will be rolling all the way till the end. 
Yeah that me! Fly kickin' and all...

Monday, January 27, 2014

NEW SKILLS: Dong Tam Lion Dancing Team

Yup, more epic adventures with my acting buddy Joe Le. This time we have teamed up to become lion dancing partner for the 2014 season of lion dancing performances in and out of NSW and Sydney. This year we have over 40 performances scheduled in and this Chinese/ Vietnamese new year is looking choc-a-block with performances around the clock. We did our first class last Sunday and truly had to quickly fast track ourselves with all the moves from one leg, two legs, and even on shoulders! Epic achievement on both our parts and I'm definitely welcoming the new year with all things physical!
Looks like I'm driving a car
First time on shoulders!
Practicing to the drum beat

Wiggle, wiggle, shakey shake. 

RECIPE: Creamy Cashew Kale & Chickpeas

For all youse non-vegans, this is a vegan recipe to go "wow!" for. I've always had the impression that a vegan diet is just a piece of lettuce but this creamy cashew kale and chickpeas is a sure winner. It's my first time also trying out kale, which tastes like a cross between cabbage in a lettuce outfit. Definitely hearty indeed and the cashew sauce is the stuff that makes you full.

Here's the recipe!

Creamy Cashew Kale & Chickpeas

½ cup raw cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 20 minutes
½ cup hot water
1 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 clove garlic
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1-2 carrots, julienned (or medium bell pepper, diced)
1½ cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
1 bunch kale, central stems removed and leaves thinly sliced, or a 10oz package of chopped kale or other hardy greens
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh basil or cilantro, minced (optional)
Drain the cashews and place in high speed blender or food processor with the broth and garlic. Blend until completely smooth, and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or dutch oven over medium-low heat and cook the onion and carrots (or pepper) for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Stir in the chickpeas. Increase heat to high, and add the greens and 2-3 tablespoons of water, stirring to combine everything. If using kale for the greens, cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until it’s tender.

Stir in the cashew sauce, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes, until sauce thickens. If using, garnish with basil/cilantro before serving.


TEACHING: AFTRS in Muswellbrook & Mudgee

This has got to be one of the highlights for January 2014! I've been a tutor for AFTRS (Australian Film Television Radio School) before for workshops in MacArthur &; Hornsby but this is the first time I get to venture out rural NSW on the good word of teaching the fundamentals of filmmaking amongst the local youngies.
On Market St, Mudgee
One of the workshop participants
I love adventure and I've never been to these two places so I was set up for the road trip with budding filmmaker Brendan Toole.
My road trip journey began on a Sunday morning (12th Jan), filled up petrol at Cessnock and checked into the Red Cedar Motel

Red Cedar Motel
Muswellbrook is a suburb located in the upper part of the Hunter Region with a population of approx. 11,000. It is a place known for coal mining and horse breeding as well as gourmet food and wine production.

Driving the AFTRS van
Loads of fun!
The following day we had out one off workshop at the Muswellbrook Library and has a total number of 14 kids to workshop facilitate. The outcome was great! We has kids making really quirky comedy short films. 
Post workshop I had to log myself into Anything Fitness and go for my daily 5km run just to unwind and de-stress. The heat was blazing and there's not much going in this little town but I'm glad there's a reliable gym and pool facilities for big smoke folk like myself. 
We checked out at 10am the following day, dropped past the local tourist hub - Hunter Belle Cheese Factory and the Vietnam War Memorial. It was then a scenic 2 hour drive to Mudgee.

Hunter Belle Cheese Factory
Cheese making
I have to say, Mudgee is an amazing place! It felt like someone sliced off a piece of Newtown and plonked it outback. Mudgee has a smaller population of about 9,000 but there's a lot happening at this place.

Streets of Mudgee
I stayed at the Wanderlight Best Western Inn and was within distance of everything; shops, fancy restaurants, gyms, pools, RSLs, library etc... The buildings have a funky new vibe too it and people were in and out of places. 
Some recommend places to eat include:
The caf├ęs are hip and trendy. The most recommended is The Quick Brown Fox Cafe (opposite to the theatre space that I was facilitating). I have now adopted the soy milk cappuccino into my daily staple diet now because of this place. 

Mudgee Library & Cinema
Back to the workshops, Mudgee provided us with a relatively older bunch of kids who were creative, self motivated and produced 4 amazing shorts, paired with behind-the-scenes documentaries. These kids were working around the clock to make their final films as best as it could have been. Mind you, their projects were shot on an iPad with no external sound and they managed to produce something compelling and cinema screening worthy. 

Action underway
Some things that I couldn't get about Mudgee is this store selling these dolls. It was literally a full store of them and they seem to be wearing outfits that I've seen in the movie "The Colour Purple". I don't want to say it, but are they slave/ servant outfits on "blackfaced" dolls? Who would buy this stuff? Why a store that specialises in this? Is there a "demand" for it? Makes you wonder doesn't it?
Dolls anyone?
Back to the final day of the workshop; it was a crazy mad dash 3 hours of final video exports, documentary making and the coordination of a public screening of the films. Then a "go-go-gadget-go" last few moments of farewells and a non stop drive back to Fairfield. 
Overall, I has a great time, flexing my teaching as well as filmmaking muscles. Super thanks to AFTRS (Coordinators Lynette & Abigail) for taking me out for this project!

Out in the hot glaring heat!
Trippy moon!
AFTRS happy van
Me at the clocktower