Is Film Really Dead?
An Interview With Steve Cossman

By Tara D. Kelley

While conventional wisdom predicts the death of film as we know it, the next generation of filmmakers are creating, experiencing, and exploring photochemical film at MONO NO AWARE workshops. Founder and Director Steve Cossman, expands on the organization’s vision, future plans and their need for a home base. 
After a successful week at the Tribeca Film Festival, where workshop instructors and former participants ran the Handcrafted Film Atelier with Persol, attention must be paid to MONO NO AWARE. If you’re wondering what MONO NO AWARE is and how it got started, you’re not alone; Steve Cossman answered this question during our first conversation:
MONO NO AWARE began as my own curatorial effort and over the last 8 years grew into a multi-faceted organization. I moved to New York in 2006; I had just returned from film school, and I was looking for a way to engage with local filmmakers…
I thought a good way for me to get engaged with the community would be to organize some sort of exhibition or festival. I had seen a lot of festivals - thousands of festivals, actually - listed everywhere for every genre and subgenre and micro-genre – on T-shirts, tote bags, and posters. I set out to do something that was unique to my interests and meaningful. I wanted to focus on what drew me to cinema in the first place. You know, that gathering of strangers sharing this common experience; tension in the air, laughing together, or being in shock. There is a kind of magic that happens there that I felt was missing my visits to fine art galleries. I set out to do something that focused on the gathering, where the emphasis was on that cinematic experience. So, the initial idea for MONO NO AWARE, the exhibition, was: expanded cinema performance, with projected film prints only to kind of over-emphasize that idea of the artist being present, the audience being present, and the work being a one-time experience...
...which kind of leads into the concept of Mono no aware, the Japanese expression having to do with this emotional connection with something that’s fleeting, an attraction to the ephemeral. The environment created by expanded cinema performance, or even by an installation which has that moving image element, is kind of this temporal experience. The group of people that you share it with is unique in that sense, too, so…. It seemed to fit the event.
MONO NO AWARE started with just me organizing the festival the first three years. From there, with the help of dedicated friends, and now a small staff, it’s built into a dynamic arts organization with educational initiatives 6 months out of the year, a monthly in-person screening series called Connectivity Through Cinema, film related field trips, an equipment rental program, and one of the premiere platforms for expanded cinema performance and installation work with almost 650 in attendance in 2013. 
MONO NO AWARE offers amazing workshops led by local filmmakers which include Expanding the Frame; Handmade Emulsion (with a second class using an eco-friendly seaweed/agar emulsion recipe to be offered this fall); 16mm Pinhole Filmmaking; and Alternatives to Projection. For information about the workshops click here.
Workshops sold out? No fear. You can still include the group in your summer plans, especially if you enjoy field trips outside the city. On Sunday, July 27th, MONO NO AWARE takes a return trip to the Thomas Edison Museum. While last summer’s visit included a tour and use of the museum grounds, on this voyage you have the opportunity to shoot film inside the museum’s replica of the Black Maria as well. MONO NO AWARE will offer this workshop - shooting, processing, and projecting on the grounds of the park - to both trip participants and museum visitors. You can visit the Warwick Drive-In Theater in July and August too. As an added perk, short films created by MONO NO AWARE’s spring workshop participants will be digitally projected onscreen before the main feature. 
While digital technology is an important tool, MONO NO AWARE pursues ways to make film and film technology available and affordable at a time when the infrastructure of industry-supported film is being stripped away. One of their initial plans, a film equipment rentals program, has generated such high demand that the organization is now seeking permanent space. At present, coordinating equipment pick-ups and drop-offs is organized around the group’s full-time work, so a fixed address would help consolidate their efforts and allow more time to develop programs. As a natural extension of their rentals program, MONO NO AWARE recently began to sell 100’ loads of reasonably priced 16mm color reversal Agfa stock (200D) and ORWO UN-54 (100D) black and white, which can be processed as negative or reversal. 
However, one can’t ignore the impact that the industry shift has had on filmmakers. Advocates like filmmaker Tacita Dean ( and the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA Film Advocacy Task Force), continue to raise public awareness around the issue of creative choice. In the past, I’ve asked Steve to respond to what now seems to be the annual question on the future of photochemical film. As always, he’s realistic, yet remains positive:
I’m as much in the hands of the material and the manufacturers as anybody else. I certainly can’t single-handedly change the direction of a large manufacturer. As an organization we can certainly make a small contribution in sales for these companies, but we really can’t start a revolution – we need to work together.  
It’s a strange situation, because if they stop making oils, painters use acrylic or gouache or mix berries if they are desperate. They have options. But, in the case of working on film, if Kodak stops making film, you can make your own emulsion (and we are happy to show you how), but there are very few other people producing film commercially.
The future of film is an uncertain one, which might be a factor of why people are excited about it again. I remember while in high school reading about the vanishing number of record pressing plants in the US, with headlines shouting that vinyl is dead. This morning I saw records for sale at Whole Foods. DJs love vinyl, Film makers love film.  
People, generally speaking, love mystery and chaos, so as technology automates everything around us, we sense that something is missing. There are filters and applications that, at the push of a button, create a sepia tone effect or a solarizing effect or anime-eyes effect - but it’s all binary and the results are still encoded. There’s no room for accidents and experimentation, and there’s no room for things to be out of control… 
Sometimes I’ll be shooting with my Bolex, and people will say “Those things are so hard to find!” or “Too bad you can’t get projectors anymore” or “The parts are going to be harder to come by, and soon you’re not going to be able to shoot anymore.” So much of which is a misconception; it’s no wonder film is foreign to so many children and young adults. I feel like we’re at a point where the common person believes that digital and technologies have replaced analog machinery all together. My response to that is, ‘Have you seen what a 3D printer can do?’ At some point, I’m going to be able to 3D scan my entire Bolex and print out a Bolex then shoot film with it! I can replicate almost any EIKI part I need; I’m going to be able to build an optical printer in Rhino. I’ll be able to build custom gates and trick it out in any way I want. I think certain advancements in technology make it possible to sustain analog practices and improve upon them.
It hasn’t come to that point just yet. Right now, film equipment is more accessible than it’s ever been. So many schools and filmmakers are just unloading equipment. They’re either giving it away or selling it cheap – happy to see it put to ‘good use’. If, twenty years ago, you wanted to shoot on film you’d have a hard time budgeting a camera rental, and certainly you wouldn’t buy one. Now, you might fall into one for less than a grand or possibly free. Equipment is collecting dust on closets and shelves; all you need is some simple maintenance to get it running again. How are you going to say that it’s difficult, or more expensive, to shoot on film when someone hands you a camera for free?
Every time we meet, Steve is excited, energetic, and focused. There is always a new workshop and a future aim for the organization. What keeps him this positive?
It’s all the connections that we are able to make with people from all over the world… 
It’s the new work that is so creative and inspiring - and then to have the ability to share it with others. Receiving an email for an upcoming screening or performance by two artists who met in our workshops -- that’s such a great feeling! While at Tribeca, a former participant came up to me, excited, and told me that her workshop film screened at a festival in Italy. On the street, I’ll run into at least one person a day either who I met from a workshop or from the annual exhibition -- it makes the entire city of New York feel like home.  
If you’re an artist or filmmaker and want to have your work considered for the eighth annual MONO NO AWARE, the  call for entries is open. As a nonprofit, MONO NO AWARE can accept donations of equipment, building space, and generous contributions of time. If you would like to help in any way, please reach out to them. After all, “The future of cinema is ours.”  
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K-12 + The Arts = The Future of Innovation

By Alexander Ostroff


Technology has accelerated our society to hypervelocity. Public and private educational institutions have launched an unprecedented effort to make sure that every student does well in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Makes perfect sense, these subjects give birth to all technology. Moreover, America must compete and when it comes to STEM our educational system is way down the list in comparison to other countries.

Educational funding is finite so administrators have been given (or have given themselves) the green light to make room for STEM. The bloodiest victims of this diamond encrusted chainsaw have been the arts. Private schools have a financial advantage, at least that’s the assumption. In reality many private K-12 institutions have followed the same blueprint; drastically defunding the arts in order to focus on STEM.

The reasoning seems logical enough: the future is based on STEM, the highest paying jobs will be in STEM, and therefore STEM should be the priority. Ironically, by eradicating the arts from K-12 we will destroy exactly what STEM hopes to achieve. Innovation.

Today we use advanced technology to build more advanced technology. The role of the human being in this process is increasingly that of feeder of information and data. The great innovators of the past had to create everything from scratch. The Wright brothers did not test aeronautical theories on a computer. Nicola Tesla, perhaps the greatest inventor in modern history, pushed his mental faculties to the edge and beyond. Einstein didn’t have an app to help him, only his brain and a piece of chalk. Edison had his mind wrapped around everything that came out of his lab. Entrepreneurs of the past were also innovators. John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie are a few examples of self-made businessmen who built entire industries. All of these disrupters had countless disadvantages over the innovators of today and yet, relatively speaking, accomplished far more. In terms of innovation, the 18th to 20th centuries brought more changes to the world than at any other time in modern history. Why?

Neuroscience is revealing the powerful impact that the arts have on the developing brain, when neural connections are rapidly being generated. The arts offer not only expression and emotional well-being, they are deeply cognitive and develop critical thinking skills for the future. The arts enable us to really see and feel the human experience and explore different ways of thinking.

Innovators in the past were not distracted by the internet or mass media. Reading and the arts were the only form of entertainment, even for average people. It’s easy to assume that life was simpler back then and more time was available for the arts. On the contrary, every professional and personal activity required more time and effort. This magnifies the further back we go. For innovators the arts were not merely a form of entertainment, but also a means to relax, relieve stress and set the mind free.

The arts help develop the most important skill of them all: a powerful imagination.

We have become a society obsessed with the acquisition and regurgitation of information and data. Instead of teaching students how to use their brains to blaze new paths, our educational system is pushing standardized tests and rote memory; essentially transforming students into human hard drives.

Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

From an early age Einstein was a dedicated violinist. Later in life he took up painting. Both of these activities were critical to his work in physics. Einstein himself said: “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well."

The arts train the brain to develop the process of imagination and creativity. Given the opportunity to be unrestrainedly creative, a child will develop a way of thinking that is best suited for innovation, regardless of what profession they eventually go into.

The arts also play a critical role in battling the single greatest threat there is against humanity. Stress. Exposed to enough pressure, the most brilliant and capable person can be rendered dysfunctional. As the population increases and resources decrease, the fight for a “piece of the pie” is driving global stress levels off the charts.

Art Therapy has been scientifically proven to be extremely effective in reducing stress and enhancing well-being. Working on an art project takes your mind off of what’s stressing you. Studies have shown that focusing the conscious mind on a creative task offers the same health benefits as daily meditation.

We have a duty to teach our children about the value of freedom, and the importance of doing everything possible to preserve it. Exposing them to the arts at an early age is a critical first step. An enlightened, thinking society cannot be suppressed and controlled. Freedom must be felt and experienced by a young mind otherwise it will remain an amorphous concept.

The arts promote thinking. Seems a bit obvious? Not if we notice that thinking is rapidly being replaced by reacting. Government and the multinational corporations that employ it is thrilled that we are concerned about threats to our freedom of speech, because it takes our attention off the real threat—endangerment to our freedom to think. After all, speech comes from thought. It’s far easier to have psychiatry label daydreaming and creativity a mental disorder, to be chemically treated until rendered harmless. It’s far easier for the powers that be to defund and/or remove the arts from K-12. Once our natural human curiosity and desire for intellectual enlightenment is extinguished, they will no longer need to expand resources to keep us in the dark. We’ll be there without noticing it.

What does the future hold if educational institutions will continue to view the arts as a nuisance?

The theory of singularity predicts that one day artificial intelligence will supersede human intelligence. At that point the human mind will no longer be necessary or even relevant.

What makes this prediction frightening is the insufficient lack of fright it evokes. Perhaps society wants autonomy from itself. Contemptuous of the intangibility of the spiritual and chronically dissuaded from individuality, society will embrace singularity as means to free itself from introspection. Imagination will become a liability. Social discourse will be reduced to an exchange of data, instead of an exchange of ideas. We will emulate our masters by judging each other by numerical scores, instead of our unique traits and abilities—the very elements that built civilization in the first place. We will enter a super advanced version of the Dark Ages. A cynical and pessimistic view of the future? Well, it’s already happening.

We have the power to prevent this—as long as we choose to use this power. The arts train our minds to never accept a constricted consciousness as being a normal. The arts promote the very thing that makes us human. Individuality. If we lose that, we lose everything.

To contact Alex Ostroff email him here:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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From Kendall to Sara:
Alicia Minshew’s Rise above ‘Soapy’ Stardom

By Mende Smith


A conversation with actress Alicia Minshew reveals that life after daytime television can be beautiful. Born and raised in the South Florida sunshine, Alicia was the third of four girls. A minister’s daughter, she began acting and performing plays for her family and soon realized that the acting bug was going to stay with her all of her life. Cast regularly in community theatre productions and high school musicals, young Minshew received a musical theatre scholarship to Indian River College. Alicia believed her next spot would be on Broadway.

“I knew at a very young age that I wanted to act,” Alicia said. “I just remember saying I actually wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to be a theatre actor, and it was something my parents always supported.”


Alicia landed her first commercial while still in high school. And although she did attend almost two years of college, once she started making money doing what she truly loved, college aspirations faded out like the small set lighting of the local theatre and the spotlights on her were ever-growing. As an MTV-style VJ on a small satellite TV show, she really got the fever. “I said, ‘You know, the heck with college. I‘m making money.’ So, I started acting classes and eventually moved to New York City with my boyfriend at the time.”

In New York, Alicia found an intensive acting school. The William Esper Studio prepared her for television while she made a living doing commercials for her first year in the big city. Soon after Alicia's first film role with actor Richard Lewis and a few indie projects, she auditioned for All My Children. The soap opera set was soon to be her professional home away from home. Cast as Erica’s daughter, Alicia found herself on stage with daytime TV icon, Susan Lucci.


“When I auditioned for All My Children, it was kind of a secret role. They didn’t really tell us who it was going to be. I think they wanted to keep it a secret. So when I finally got the part, they said, ’By the way, you’re playing the part of Kendall Hart, Susan Lucci’s daughter,’ and then I got nervous. [Laugh] Because she’s the queen bee, she’s the queen of daytime, and I wasn’t sure how she would react to me. Thank God she is an amazingly sweet, grounded, awesome woman and kind of embraced me from day one and we’ve been friends ever since. It was definitely my first big job,” Alicia said.

For almost a decade she played the role of Kendall Hart, memorizing a 30- to 40-page script every single night before filming the next day. The makings of steady work in television came with a price. Alicia worked through the last era of daytime TV, when there were fewer cable channels drawing viewers from prime-time stations. From there, she moved into the film industry.

“It’s funny,” Alicia said. “When I first got the job, I was happy … people make fun of soaps and, listen: there’s silly story lines, people come back from the dead, there’s evil twins, all that stuff. But, if you can kind of just suspend your belief, act like it’s real and have fun with it, it’s a really fun gig.”


Alicia never thought her first TV gig would become a 10-year role. She said she had hoped for three years and held fast to the idea of moving on after that, but the lifestyle that soap opera stardom afforded her proved hard to leave.

“Once you’re in it and you have this lifestyle and you’re working with these people that become your family, it’s a hard job to walk away from,” Alicia said. ”It was inevitably going to come to an end. I watched a ton of other soaps slow down and get cancelled. It was a long time before our show did, but we all knew it was on its last leg.”

By the last season of All My Children, Alicia had already given birth to her first child and was contemplating her withdrawal from the role before the show was cancelled. She recalls planning to leave the show when her contract ended, longing to “spread her wings” by trying different things. When she left the show, there were tears. The family that Alicia had been working with every day for years was coming to an end.

“I was sad for the fans because the fans are really die-hard and really love the show, but there was also a part of me that was excited to start this new chapter,” Alicia said.

The auditions that followed came easier then. As a seasoned television actor, Alicia embodied a new confidence in her abilities after acting every day for the past 10 years. She was still challenged by being “the soap actress,” and so part of her life after All My Children was focused on reinventing herself as an actress, not “just the girl who played on the soap.”

“People still see (me) as the actor who played Kendall Hart, so I am trying to do other things and move past that,” Alicia adds. “At least my acting muscle was being used every day.”

Alicia was glad to learn that she landed one of her film roles last year because the producer was a fan of All My Children, and felt that casting Alicia in her American love story Desires of the Heart was a little bit like paying it forward for the show’s fanfare. Desires of the Heart, screened this year at the Cannes film festival last night.


“When I go on auditions, I have casting directors say, ‘We really loved All My Children,’ and I do think that audiences are kind of used to seeing people cross over now. We have reality stars, people from American Idol who are doing TV shows, and I think people are getting used to seeing different personalities in TV and movies now, which is great for people like me.”

And although Alicia is moving from the face of daytime television to the big screen, she is still an active mom to a 4-year old. While Alica was wrapping up the show, Willow volleyed between Minshew’s husband and their “wonderful nanny.” She recalls how fortunate she was to have a team for Willow’s early years. Today, Alicia plans her working schedule around her daughter’s birthday parties and family events. She said all the juggling can sometimes become a struggle, but she wears her life well.

“I think it’s really about balancing. When I’m in work mode, that’s really what I focus on and when I’m home with (Willow) and taking her to her gymnastics classes, I’m all about her. Again, it was harder in the beginning but now I've kind of found my groove. I finally found my groove.”

Dancing is another passion that Alicia has pursued since she was a child. Whenever she gets a chance to get out on the dance floor, she said, she is right there. She said that if she was not an actor, she would have become a professional dancer. In her spare time, Alicia takes classes and dances with her daughter. Her grandmother, now 103 years old, dances at family gatherings and parties, too.

“I guess it is in the genes,” Alicia said with a laugh. ”We could all learn something about celebration from my grandmother.”

Alicia's career has taken her from New York City to L.A., to Atlanta and even Canada. Her husband, Richie Herschenfeld, owns a string of restaurants in New York. Alicia said she can work as an actress anywhere!

In one of her most recent, diverse roles, on Crystal Chappell’s lesbian-centric web series Beacon Hill, Alicia plays one of the lead roles, Sara, a reporter who is very much in love. Alicia described the script as Dallas meets The West Wing.


“There is some really great writers working on this show,” Alicia said. ”I got to work with some people that were on All My Children with me and I got to work with people that I’d never met but whose work I’d always admired, especially Sarah Brown, who plays my girlfriend. She was on General Hospital and I always loved her work, so it was really cool to meet her and get to work with her for a while. Beacon Hill is streaming now on the Beacon Hill website. And Season 1 DVD will be available later in the year. It was really fun and different. I had never done a Web series before.”

Alicia credits her family with being her biggest influences. Her parents supported her through the ups and downs of her career, emotionally and financially. Growing up with their support, she said, saved her. She aspires to be as great a parent to her daughter as her parents and grandparents were to her.

“My grandfather was really the only other actor and performer in my whole family,” Alicia adds. “He used to do Vaudeville and he used to put on little shows, and we used to kind of sing and dance and do silly little shows together. So I think I would watch him perform and that inspired me: ‘Oh, I want to do what Grandpa’s doing.’ He only did it at local theaters and stuff, but I thought, ‘This is really cool!"

When asked if she would do any of her life differently, Alicia said no, adding that she has been blessed with a great support system and credits her close-knit family for her success. She offered advice to young actors, saying if they share her love for the craft, than they should never give up.

“Not to sound cliché,” Alicia said, “but you really have to believe in yourself because it did take me several auditions and several acting classes and several restaurant jobs before I got the steady job on All My Children. I just had to believe in myself and be very, very persistent and don’t take things personally. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t mean you’re not good. It just means that you weren’t the right person for the job but you’ll be right for something else. So I really believe you have to do it because you love it. Don’t do it for the money, don’t do it for fame. Do it because you love it and just be persistent. Just keep at it, keep at it, keep at it.”

Alicia feels just as passionate about education as she does about her acting career. The community literacy support organization City Year is one of her favorite ways to give back.

“I actually learned about (City Year) when I was in Los Angeles,” Alicia said. “I actually visited one of the schools in Los Angeles and…I've just reconnected with the City Year here in New York. …City Year is…an organization that finds low-income schools where the dropout rate is really, really high, and it’s this program built to keep these children in school. So when I was in California, for instance, I went to a school in L.A. that was not in a very safe neighborhood and it was just a lower-income school. (City Year is) a really wonderful program that … encourages the children to do the after-school programs and to do something good with their time after school, and they’re basically just trying to get the kids to stay in school. The organization is making leaps and bounds for these kids.”

Now, Alicia fanbase spans from TV to the web, active Twitter users, and to the community of education.

“I love that even though the projects I am working on now is not a soap, the fans just want to be supportive,” she said. “So I think for that, I have to just have a lot of gratitude to the fans…soap fans are the most loyal fans and even if you move on from soaps and do other projects, they are always there to support you and that’s another thing I’m really lucky to have, is people that support the new things that I work on.”

In the years since portraying Kendall Hart, Alicia has come full circle in grace and beauty. Her story offers hope to the modern American family, to the continuing study of acting, and to the brightest of television’s rising stars.

To watch Beacon Hill click here and for more information about City Year, click here

Photocredits: Top Photo: Peter Hurley, Desires of the Heart Photos Marayann Bates 

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Top 5 Expected Changes To The iPhone 6

By Kia Dargahi

Just a few hours short of WWDC, we know that Apple are about to heat things up with some new software, iOS 8 and OS 10.10 being the stars of the show. This being said, a new iPhone won’t pop up at Apple’s yearly tech showcasing. This hasn’t stopped the rumor mill going crazy with iPhone 6 leaks however including the supposed back housing. There is a lot to be learned merely from this back panel as well as a few rumors of features of this phone and I’ll be naming the top 5 most probable and to some extent beneficiary changes to the iPhone 6 so let’s kick it off with number 5:

5. NFC

This particular rumor appears nearly every time a new iPhone has been mentioned, dating back to the iPhone 5 (that was 2 years ago!!). The seemingly ancient technology has allowed for third party accessories to easily sync with the phone with the battery draining of Bluetooth or the nuisance of cordage. The rumor has a little more backing to it in that if the above image is indeed the back housing, there is a cutout in the Apple logo which would indicate a pretty ideal location for an antenna of some sort or in this case, the location in which NFC would be effectuated. All in all, it appears that NFC accessories is just a royalty to users but it has been a feature missing from iPhones but present in the competition for some time. Following this precise trend, let’s move on to number 4.


4. Water/Dustproofing

I personally think that this is the least likely of the list to make it onto the final product (perhaps we’ll see this on the iPhone 6S as an incentive to upgrade). This being said, the android competition has recently made water and dust proofing somewhat of a norm on flagships such as the Xperia Z2 or the GS5. Having such a practical feature on an iPhone, even if limited water/dust proofing, would make the iPhone a better rounded product for the mass markets and would allow for an incentive for android users to switch over to Apple’s flagship. Common in nearly every major revision to an iPhone’s design, let’s move on to number 3

3. Better Form Factor

It seems that the phrase “the new iPhone is blank percent thinner and blank percent lighter” is somewhat of a norm to the major design updates to iPhones. In the photo shown above, an alleged iPhone 6 aluminum mold (consistent with the first photo of the back shell) is being compared to all previous iPhones. The rear shell is allegedly 6mm in depth, a considerable drop from the iPhone 5S’s 7.6mm depth. The result is an ultra-thin handset with, more importantly, rounded edges. I myself use an HTC one and can appreciate its curvature, as it feels excellent in hand. When I hold iPhones for extended periods of time, I notice that my hand starts to cramp and is remarkably uncomfortable in comparison to my android device. These newly rounded edges and overall increase in size should prove better to hold in hand and use in general, but we’ll save the size increase for another number… Let’s move onto number


2.2. New and Improved Camera

Take a look at the cameras of the iPhone 5S and alleged iPhone 6 in the photo above; notice anything different? That’s right! The iPhone 5S has a dual LED flash while the iPhone 6 appears to only have one. “Are they mad? Have they gone completely bonkers?” I thought the same too at first glance; however, with a recent patent release from Apple, the one LED flash sort of excites me. Apple is supposedly preparing a sensor that will be able to capture colors so well even at night that a regular flash will suffice and in fact will complement the new camera. This, in a nutshell, means that the camera will be hugely impressive, even though it is rumored that it will remain at 8MP. If anything, it’s a good thing that Apple isn’t caught up in the MP specs race with the other android competitors and appears to be taking an HTC route, as I don’t think that anyone will argue that the iPhone takes great looking pictures and videos. So we’ve finally made it, I hinted at number 1 earlier so perhaps the surprise element of it isn’t quite there but we’ll be keeping true to number 1 right now!.


1. Increase in Screen Size

Man oh man I never thought that I’d see the say that Apple finally increase the size of their phones significantly. The bump up from 3.5 inches to the 4 inches of the iPhone 5 was a joke to say the least. In comparison to the android titans of today, the iPhone 5S appears to be a toy made for a child; it is way too small in the current market. Heck, even in 2010 handsets were around 4.3 inches big and Apple was still adamant on 3.5 inches (but those were the days of Steve Jobs may he R.I.P.). Who knows, if Jobs was still around today, we may not even have had the increase from 3.5 to 4 inches! But I digress, This screen size is significant in a number of ways. First and foremost, it is evidently important in that there will ultimately be a more user friendly feel to the device in that your fingers will not be cramped in trying to type even the simplest thing (don’t try and convince me typing is easy on iPhones, it just isn’t). The 4.7 inch screen is a great size for a device and has been seen on previous handsets such as the Moto X and HTC one, phones that have received praise for their feel in hand. There is no doubt that Apple will use the increase in screen real estate to their advantage, perhaps by adding an extra row to their home screen just as they did with iOS 6 and the iPhone 5. All in all, if there was ever a reason that I left iPhones, it was the screen size, and now that it’s relevant in size once more, who knows, I may be due for an early upgrade…

In conclusion, Apple is trying to draw attention to its flagship once more by adding elements that honestly should’ve been on the previous iterations of the iPhone. Updates such as increase in processing power were somewhat evident and were thus left out of this list as these are more or less novel additions to Apple’s cellphone. So, are you excited for the imminent launch of the iPhone 6 (rumored to be early September)? Not impressed by Apple’s improvements? Chime in down below!

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U.S. Exclusive with Actor, Guile Branco!

By Bridget Brady

guilebranco.jpgHave you ever felt like you’re old friends with someone the moment you meet them? That is what it’s like to meet Guile Branco! His deep voice and let’s just say it, super-sexy Brazilian accent, put me right at ease. Immediately warm, instantly laughing, and almost “too” open for Hollywood, I have the U.S. exclusive on this handsome Brazilian actor!! Just back from Cannes, where the short film he starred in "The Thing About My Wife" screened at the Festival. We talked about his acting career, how he stays in ridiculously great shape, his love-life, his unfortunate “day-jobs,” and his secret-sauce to becoming a successful actor in Los Angeles!
Let's start with the 411...Who are you, what are you passionate about, and what's your mission?
I am an actor, but I'm a creative person, so I cannot just act. I've tried to just be an actor and I can't do it. I have a passion for film and theater. My goal for my entire life was to live in Los Angeles and be an actor, and I've accomplished it to a certain degree. I feel like I'm already successful with what I've achieved.  I believe that success is measured by the distance from where you started. When I look back in my life, I have to be beyond grateful for the people that I've met, and for being here. Although I'm not 'super' successful, I'm in a very good position in my life. I love to be an actor, I love to write and I love to put things together. I love to connect people and make films.
There are so many things you LOVE, and I love that!!
I have amazing friends in Brazil and America. I'm very lucky to have crossed paths with very talented, good people. We are together in this journey. We're making movies, we're laughing together, and we’re having a good time. My mission is to continue acting and making movies, on-wards and forwards, and nothing can stop me.
Tell me about being a law school drop out?
Let's go back to the beginning...People always ask me, "WHY are you here?" I was actually raised in California until I was about five years old. Maybe the answer lies in my childhood. I was born in Brazil, my dad was a very successful marine biologist and he was getting his PhD at Santa Barbara University. I'm their only son; we moved to Santa Barbara when I was one year old. My first contact with the world was here...I was a little child here. Maybe that changed my brain chemistry in a way. All my life, I have no memory of wanting to stay in Brazil. All my life, I wanted to move back to the U.S. I always felt like a strange person in a strange land in Brazil.  
When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?
My passion for acting and writing started very early as well. I remember I was about 17 when I started to do theater and study. At the same time, I had pressure from my father. My father was an academic example. He was someone who went through all the steps of academic life. He never believed that anyone could succeed in life without going to college. I had this pressure from my father to get into college and get a degree. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps as a scientist. When I was young, I thought, yes I have to do this. I was in law school, and at the same time I started doing acting here and there, and I loved it. When I was 18 years old, I spent a couple weeks in New York. I begged my father to go to an event that encompassed acting and writing. I convinced my dad to pay a lot of money, and he hated the idea, but I spent two weeks in New York, and that was perhaps the biggest turning point in my life. Now I knew what I wanted. Before it was fuzzy, but now it was very clear. I knew I loved the arts; I knew I was a creative person, but I needed something concrete. When I went to New York, that was it. Once I returned to Brazil, I immediately quit law school. My number one goal was to become a professional actor and move to California.  
How old were you when you moved here?
It took me five years. I was 23 when I moved to New York. In those five years, I became a professional actor in Brazil. I did so much theater; at one point I was doing three plays at the same time. I was like a machine. People would say, "Why did you leave, you were doing so well?" I couldn't control it; the desire to come here was stronger than me. But when I first got here, I went through seven months of hell. When you leave your native country, it's not easy. When you come here to be an actor, you're starting from scratch, starting at zero. I worked in everything you can imagine that was horrible. I did landfills; I had to move trash into containers from construction sites. I did landscaping outside. I was a brick-layer. Oh...bathroom attendant was a good one!
You DID have some good jobs!! (laughter). So what was the "big, medium…small" break that led you from bathroom attendant to professional actor?
That's very easy. To be an actor here, in the U.S., you need to have a good side job that’s flexible. The odds of you just getting jobs and becoming a successful actor, making money are very, very slim. I have to say the break was when I was able to get a flexible job that allowed me to pursue my career.
What job was that?
I have a background in fitness.
Yes!  I see that you used to be a body-builder.
Yes, I did compete as a body-builder, all my life. And because of that background, I thought maybe I could start a business in fitness, train people, and make money. That was a big turning point because once I became a trainer; I had a job that I controlled, that I could go out and audition, and do anything I wanted. I don't want people to have false dreams. It's really unlikely that someone would come here and just make it. No, no, no. If you get a job that's flexible and allows you to pursue your career, then you're doing the right thing. I believe that it takes time. You have to build the pillars, so you get to the point where people start seeing your value and want you. It's very rare that it's going to happen in two, or three, or even five years.
Are you still training?
I am training to a very small capacity. I've been phasing it out for the past two years.
But you still keep that flexible, steady-money “day-job.”
ABSOLUTELY! I've been doing it now for 10 years. It was the greatest decision I've ever made because it gave me freedom. Because of that, I'm able to do everything! It opened up the world for me.  
When did you make the move out here to LA?
I was in New York for five years, and moved to LA in 2007. Moving to LA for me was another big turning-point, because the quality of projects I was involved in got better. I also started to flex my producing muscles. I produced a film called, "Why We Train.”  It was a documentary about fitness that shows my preparation for a competition. That film won a couple of awards and now sells world-wide. It's a very inspirational film. For me, it's a blessing. I don't make much money with it, but it's been good for my soul.  
Tell me about the film, This Thing About My Wife, that screened at Cannes?
The story behind the film is quite extraordinary. I'm in this movie because of Facebook!
WOW! Now that is extraordinary. The power of Social Media!! Tell me about that!
I did a couple of interviews for Brazilian publications last year. One day, I get a message on my Facebook from a producer in Boston [Joe Moreira]. Basically he said, "I'm Brazilian as well. I was Google-ing 'Hollywood Brazilian actors' and your name showed up." He decided to stalk me because he wanted to see if I would audition for his movie. He calls me, and I find out that he wrote a book about his life. He adapted his life story to this short-film that he wrote. He then tells me the director is Jean-Paul Ouellette, who worked closely with James Cameron on "The Terminator.”  I was cast in the film and I had no idea that this film would be in Cannes!
And you went to Cannes?
Yes! I went to Cannes with Joe and JP [Producer and Director]. It was an adventure. A dream. Cannes is the biggest festival in the world. For me, it was a dream come true. It's the biggest thing that's ever happened to me! Going to Cannes with a movie that I'm the lead actor in!
YES!! It is a dream!  It's amazing!!  I would love to know more about your personal life.
Right now, I'm completely single. I just finished a relationship I had for about a year. I'm dating...but nothing serious.
What about outside of acting and fitness? What else is your life about?
I love to enjoy Los Angeles. I really enjoy going to the beach and exploring...Silver Lake, and small neighborhoods. Just sucking in this diverse place we live in I love Malibu!  I go to Zuma Beach a lot. I love traveling. Now I have a real possibility of making movies in Brazil because people are really noticing me. So, I may be back in Brazil for a couple months to shoot a film. The future is wide open!
What other projects are you working on?
I have a couple of big films coming up...not counting my chickens before they’re hatched, but there's a big chance that I'll be doing even less personal training in the next few months!
Obviously you're in "stupid-good" shape! (Guile laughs!) Just own it, love it, you know it’s true! So, what's your fitness routine? Are you super strict with your diet? How "crazy" are you?
I'm not nearly as crazy as I used to be. When I was competing in shows, for about ten weeks I am training six times a week, and I'm super strict. I'm not going to drink alcohol; I'm going to keep my carbs really low. I believe in a high-protein, low-carb, and high-fat (healthy fat) diet.  So for about ten weeks I'm a complete "meat-head" in the gym. But that's ten weeks before a competition. For the rest of the year, it's a whole different story!! what's the rest of the year look like?
For the rest of the year, I go to the gym maybe four times a week. I'll run three times a week. I will eat probably a bar of chocolate a day. I'm going to have, at least once a week, a good burger with fries. I'll indulge in ice-cream, cheese cake, pasta, and I'm going to drink lots of beer. I'll have an occasional martini…That's the rest of the year. (laughter)
Perfect! Awesome!! Now you're speaking my language. But c'mon...You're still going to the gym four times and week, and running three times a week!
My last competition may have been my last one. If I'm busy with making films, that's my priority. But I will still train of course! I believe in something called the "compensating rule.”  If I eat too much, I'm gonna stay good for five days to compensate. I enjoy my life. I enjoy my fitness. I enjoy everything. My story is about determination, perseverance and staying in the game. The only reason I'm still here is because I'm not quitting: perseverance and staying in the game.

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