Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Production company releases anti lawn TV series

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 24, 2023

Joey Santore and Al Scorch, hosts, Kill Your Lawn

Joey Santore and Al Scorch, hosts, Kill Your Lawn

Photo: Empty Quarter Studios

Kill Your Lawn, a new half-hour reality-TV series that began airing last month, seeks to inspire viewers to rid themselves of their home lawns. Based on two screeners provided by an Empty Quarters representative via email, the guys next door style program showcases examples of yard transformations and lawn-less projects. In Episode Two the program’s two hosts and a dog travel to Miami, Florida where they share their opinions on lawns, interview a homeowner keen to replace his lawn with native plants as well as a nursery owner and others. With the owner’s approval the hosts kill the lawn using a pressure washer. In a similar episode they redo the yard of a Fort Lauderdale, Florida couple. They remove the lawn using a portable fire device.

According to a press release Kill Your Lawn “is a rejection of the lawn industrial complex, celebrating the courage and inspiring messages of first-time lawn killers.” It consists of eight half hour makeover episodes. The goal is to replace homeowner lawns with pollinator-friendly, native plant gardens, according to promotional materials.

Joey Santore and Al Scorch are the hosts. Santore is described in promotional materials as “a blue-collar schmuck from Chicago who left a career at the railroad to pursue a lifetime studying botany and educating others via his cult-hit YouTube channel Crime Pays But Botany Doesn’t.” Schorch is said to be his best friend from Chicago, “a bicycle mechanic and punk rock banjoist.”

According to a spokesperson EarthxTV, is available on Charter’s Spectrum TV, FuboTV, the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) in the United States, Sky, and Freeview in the United Kingdom, M7 in Europe, Claro video and TotalPlay in Mexico. EarthxTV may be available on Directv for satellite and internet customers and Directv Streat.

Empty Quarter Studios (EQS) specializes in “unique, uplifting, and edgy entertainment, telling stories of human experience shaped by adventure, natural history, culture, and ingenuity.”

Animated short film focuses on mental health

Posted by Elena del Valle on May 1, 2023

Photo: Citronella Stories

Citronella Stories will release Bug Therapy, a seven minute animated short film about mental health, via YouTube.com on May 1, 2023. According to a press release the short film will have a limited release in North America online and at select theaters, at no cost, for the month of May, to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. The film strives to highlight the importance of therapy and mental health. It should be available today at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6n7aMfxKec

It features the voices of Phil McGraw, Meghan Trainor, Jay Leno, Sterlin K. Brown, Tom Green, Emily Goglia and Jason Reisig. It is due to have a wide release in June, with plans for a global release this fall, according to a press release received by email.

Bug Therapy was directed by Jason Reisig. It was written and created by Michael Jann and Michele Jourdan, of Citronella Stories, and animated by 88 Pictures. Randy Mills was producer. Eric Bergman was co-producer. Jann and Jourdan were executive producers, along with Jason Reisig, Randy Mills, and 88 Pictures’ Milind D. Shinde.

In Citronella (Trainor), a mosquito who faints at the sight of blood, tries to muster the courage to attend group therapy to overcome her phobia. She learns that “everyone faces mental health struggles.” Stick Bug (Brown) battles depression over never feeling seen, Fly (Leno) is “OCD and germaphobic and can’t stop washing his hands,” Grasshopper (Green) suffers from addiction to coffee, Praying Mantis (Goglia) is narcissistic and delusional and believes she’s God. A Dragonfly couple (Jann and Jourdan) are co-dependent, and Spider (Reisig) tries to overcome his phobia of spiders. Dr. Pill (McGraw) leads the therapy.

New French series on streaming service

Posted by Elena del Valle on January 19, 2023

Alice Nevers
Alice Nevers

Photo: Mhz Choice

Starting this month Alice Nevers, a 2019 French television series in French with English subtitles, will become available on Mhz Choice, a subscription streaming platform popular among audiences with a taste for international episodic programs and films. A screener of the first episode was provided by the streaming service.

The six episodes star Marine Delterme as Alice Nevers, an investigating judge and single mother returning from maternity leave, and Jean-Michel Tinivelli as Fred Marquand, her policeman partner. A Mad World, the first episode, centered on a mental health case, hints at a possible romance between the two colleagues. It was directed by Rene Manzor and produced by Ego Productions “with the participation of TF1.”

Streaming service offers Icelandic series

Posted by Elena del Valle on November 2, 2022

Last month Ordinary People began streaming on MhzChoice.com

Photo: MhzChoice.com

On October 11, 2022 Ordinary People, described in promotional materials as a comedy drama from Iceland rated TV-14, began streaming on MhzChoice.com. Reinvent Studios released the series about two friends, Vala (Vala Kristin Eiriksdottir) and Júlíana (Júlíana Sara Gunnarsdóttir). The women, best friends since drama school, pursued different paths in life.

The series, in Icelandic with English subtitles, centers around their friendship. Vala, a destructive and difficult to like character, seeks an acting career. Júlíana stepped away from acting choosing to have two children with her husband Tómas (Halldór Halldórsson), an aspiring entrepreneur. Vala, who had hoped to host a TV program of her own, is only offered the role of sidekick. Her friend received the opportunity of main host, making Vala unhappy.

New film explores complexities of parenting, ADHD diagnosis and its consequences

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 12, 2022

The Other Tom poster
The Other Tom poster

Photo: Outsider Pictures

Outsider Pictures is releasing a new production in New York October 14, 2022. In The Other Tom filmmakers Rodrigo Pla and Laura Santullo present a painful to watch 111-minute drama of Elena, a single mother in El Paso, Texas, and Tom, her nine year old son who teachers identify as a problem child. Their lives, already stretched financially and emotionally, take a turn for the worse after he is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The film explores the controversial diagnosis, subsequent prescription of psychiatric medication, the school system’s intense pressure on parents to comply with a chemical solution and the concept of excessive medication in childhood. According to a spokesperson it will be available for online streaming.

Julia Chávez plays Elena and Israel Rodríguez Bertorelli plays Tom. The film, in English and Spanish with subtitles, premiered in Venice in 2021 and includes on screen sexual situations. No rating was listed in the press release.

Following a troubling accident Elena becomes concerned about the possible side effects of the prescription medication her son is taking. When concerned for his well-being she stops administering the drugs to Tom, Social Services threaten to remove him from her custody unless he resumes taking the powerful psychiatric medication.

“The fact that we are parents was the single overwhelming motivator in our making this film,” Plá said of his collaboration with wife Santullo on The Other Tom in promotional materials provided via email by a publicist. “It’s nearly impossible these days to remain oblivious as a parent to the myriad of mental disorders and pathologies our children are diagnosed with, based entirely on behavior. It has become normal to create syndromes for behaviors and then develop drugs to ‘treat’ them. Increasingly, overworked teachers demand that their students be put on psychiatric drugs to quell disruption, and more and more doctors oblige, prescribing them like candy…but parents also, out of ignorance or convenience or sheer desperation, may find themselves surrendering to this mindset and medicating their children. This generation carries our hopes, and with this film, we hope to open eyes to a more human approach to helping them to adulthood.”

Chavez is a graduate of the Pearson College UWC in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Plá, director and writer, is a Mexican-Uruguayan director, screenwriter and producer. In addition to this production his feature films are La Zona (Venice, 2007), Desierto adentro (Cannes, 2008), La demora (Berlinale, 2012), and Un monstruo de mil cabezas (Venice, 2015). Santullo, director and writer, is a narrative and screenplay writer. In addition to this production her work as a screenwriter includes the feature films Un monstruo de mil cabezas, La demora, Desierto adentro, and La Zona. The Other Tom was produced by Buenaventura Cine and BHD Films.

Subscription streaming service to offer new Japanese miniseries in October

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 31, 2022

On October 4, 2022 MhzChoice.com plans to offer its first Japanese series, according to a recent press release. Pension Metsa, a six-episode miniseries released in 2021, features Tenko, a Japanese woman who runs a one room country guesthouse in the Nagano larch forest. Nagano is 278 kilometers northwest of Tokyo. MhzChoice.com provided a screener although no images or video clips were available for editorial publication.

A different brief story unfolds around a guest star in each 20-minute episode. The stories take place in and around the pretty guesthouse and its natural environs. Often there are shared meals and soulful conversations.

Satomi Kobayashi is Tenko. According to Imdb.com Kana Matsumoto is the writer and director of the series. The episodes are in Japanese. English subtitles were added by the streaming service.

Actress Tôko Miura, who played the young chauffeur Misaki in the Oscar-winning feature Drive My Car, appears in Episode 6. MhzChoice.com offers a streaming subscription service of European series and programs with English subtitles.

Podcast with Stanley Wong, co-founder, DistroScale, about streaming services targeting Hispanics

Posted by Elena del Valle on April 11, 2022

Stanley Wong, co-founder, DistroScale

Photo: DistroScale

A podcast interview with Stanley Wong, co-founder, DistroScale, is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, he discusses streaming services targeting Hispanics with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast.

Stanley is vice president of marketing at DistroScale, a media technology company and the parent company to DistroTV, an independent network home to 150 live streaming channels.

Prior to his role at DistroScale, Stanley was an early Yahoo! employee (41st). Since Yahoo!, Stanley contributed to Search Physics (now known as Metavana). He also served as the vice president of Ad Products at Glam Media and co-founded Permuto (acquired by AOL and re-named Buysight)

To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. You can listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Stanley Wong” and download the MP3 file to your audio player. You can also find it on the RSS feed. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the April 2022 section of the podcast archive.

Podcast with documentary filmmaker Claudia Sparrow about Maxima

Posted by Elena del Valle on January 24, 2022

Filmmaker Claudia Sparrow
Filmmaker Claudia Sparrow

Photo, video: courtesy of Claudia Sparrow

A podcast interview with documentary filmmaker Claudia Sparrow is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, HispanicMPR.com. During the podcast, she discusses Maxima with Elena del Valle, host of the HispanicMPR.com podcast. Scroll down to watch a Maxima trailer in English and Spanish with subtitles.

Claudia was born and raised in Lima, Peru. Her American Film Institute film El Americano won a 2009 Emmy Award in the drama category and she was a recipient of the 2009 Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award from the American Film Institute for directing that film.

Claudia’s first feature film I Remember You, starring Stefanie Butler and Joe Egender, premiered at the 2015 Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, where it won the Best Feature Length Dramatic Film Award. I Remember You had a theatrical release in 2016 and remains available on major streaming platforms.

To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. You can also listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Claudia Sparrow” or download the MP3 file to your device or player. You can also find it on the RSS feed. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the January 2022 section of the podcast archive.

Watch the Maxima trailer below:


New political thriller miniseries provides a peek into life in Senegal

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 27, 2021

Wara poster

Photos: Mhz Choice

Wara, a 2020 eight part miniseries set in a future Senegal, recently became available on MhzChoice.com, an online streaming service. Starring Issaka Sawadogo as Moutari Wara, France Nancy Goulian as Aicha Diallo, Maimouna N’Diaye as Yasmin Diallo, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye as Ganka Barry the program, based on a story by Magagi Issoufou Sani, is in French with English subtitles.

Set in the “City of Tanasanga” the story explores university student and community activism to combat the pervasive corruption of elected officials. It shines a light on the lengths the politicians and their supporters go to in furtherance of their goals. Much revolves around Wara, a law professor, Miriam Shugger, another professor, their students and others in their circle, some forces for community good and others for personal gain. Despite a seemingly incomplete ending Wara is suspenseful and engaging. Goulian and Maimouna N’Diaye’s performances stood out.

From Wara

From Wara

The series was produced by M.J.P., Astharte & Compagnie, Raes Production, and TV5Monde (a French, Belgian and Swiss collaboration) with support from Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Agence Francaise de Developpment, and Centre National de la Cinematographie et de l’Image Animee among others listed in the series credits. A number of organizations in Senegal were listed in the end credits, including City of Saint Louis, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Culture, Village Mbaye and University Gaston Berger.

Sawadogo, according to Imdb.com, is a Burkina Faso-born actor, dancer and musician fluent in French, English and Norwegian. Maimouna N’Diaye’s other film credits, according to Imdb.com include Eye of the Storm and Les Trois Lascars; and per the same source Goulian’s other film credit includes Cacao. Charli Beléteau is listed as the series creator on Imdb.com.

With video – Documentary showcases extreme athlete crossing desert on foot

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 15, 2021

The Lost Desert

Max Calderan in The Lost Desert

Photos: Empty Quarter Studio

The Lost Desert, Empty Quarter Studio’s first feature length documentary, was acquired by STX and released last month on ad supported TubiTV.com. Most of the story takes place in Saudi Arabia’s Rub’ al Khali desert, where Max Calderan, an Italian extreme athlete, sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream: to walk 700 miles from west to east in an inhospitable uninhabited terrain.

An all male on the ground support team follows him in a caravan of vehicles, monitoring his well-being and filming. From idea to release the 83-minute film required four years of work. The company founders funded the project’s $1.2 million costs, hoping the film will appeal “to anyone who has big dreams and goes to any length to accomplish them. It will appeal to the elite sports athletes and fans, as well as people interested in natural history, science, culture and travel.”

“I met Max Calderan in 2016 and was immediately taken by his charisma, passion, and mission to accomplish his lifelong dream,” said Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios, in a press release for the documentary. “I wanted to tell Max’s story and document his last, greatest challenge – to cross the largest sand desert in the world. I’m very proud of our film crew, who captured this inspiring story in one of the world’s harshest, deadliest, and most remote deserts. This is an inspiring story about a man pursuing his lifelong dream. It’s a story about perseverance and passion. And it’s a story about one of the least traveled to, most inhospitable places on earth.”

Described as having spent years crossing deserts on foot Calderan, a driven self-effacing athlete in his fifties, braved punishing heat (averaging 117 degrees Fahrenheit, according to promotional materials), shifting sand dunes of up to 1,000 feet as well as “poisonous snakes, spiders, scorpions, and any number of life-threatening challenges” in the making of the documentary. According to promotional materials, among Calderan’s eleven world records in desert exploration, he has run 90 hours straight without stopping in Oman. He also once ran 225 miles in 75 hours across a Saudi Arabian desert in summer.

Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios

Billy Sprague, president, Empty Quarter Studios

When asked about the greatest challenge the film presented Sprague said, “Transporting our crew and thousands of pounds of equipment and life-sustaining supplies in one of the most remote, dangerous, completely off-grid locations.” The greatest reward? “Successfully capturing the story and wrapping production in one of the most remote, dangerous, completely off-grid locations.”

The documentary was directed by Christopher Cassel. Michael Haertlein (Jane Goodall: The Hope) was director of photography, Marcelino Belizario (Bad Suns) handled Aerial Cinematography, Adriano Bravo (Human Weapon) was sound recordist, Benjamin Frank was assistant camera operator, and Rosie Walunas (But It Doesn’t Have Me) was editor.

Empty Quarter Studios, a New York and London based film and television production company, creates original non-fiction content “using moving images to tell epic, immersive and transformational stories borne out of exploration, travel, history, science and everyday life in the world’s most exotic and unreachable places” for global distribution.

Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, is an “ad-supported video-on-demand service with over 30,000 movies and TV shows, 65+ local and live news channels, and 250+ entertainment partners.” Stxfilms is a five year old division of Eros Stx Global Corporation, which “produces, acquires, distributes, and markets motion pictures at scale.”