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21/12/2014

On the set of WE tv's new series 'South of Hell'

Maria Abiscal sits in the pickup next to her demon, Abigail, discussing what to do about the possessed woman. Should they intervene and free her of her fiend?

The scene for episode 5 only takes a few minutes to shoot, and director Jennifer Lynch, asks the two actresses - Mena Suvari and her stand-in - to run it again, and then again, and one last time.

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Afterward, Suvari goes to makeup somewhere inside a warehouse-turned-soundstage behind the shops and restaurants of East Montague Avenue in North Charleston. She is transformed into her sexy demon-double so she can shoot the same scene again. (The final product will show Suvari in both roles.)

A scene from WE tv's new series

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During the interval, the sun emerges from behind the clouds, forcing Director of Photography Walt Lloyd and his team to adjust the set lighting.

The large crew bustles about the warehouse for a long day of shooting: 13 scenes in all, a 12-page day.

They are working on the new WE tv series "South of Hell" and will be in town through Jan. 23, shooting eight episodes. The show should air at some point next year, perhaps during the summer, according to unit publicist Denise Godoy.

"South of Hell" stars Suvari, a former Charleston resident and Ashley Hall School alumna, in the lead role. She's joined on screen by Bill Irwin, Zachary Booth, Paulina Singer, Lydia Hearst, Lamman Rucker, Drew Moerlein, Slate Holmgren and Lauren Valdez.

The show is produced by horror genre veterans Jason Blum ("Oculus," "Ouija") and Eli Roth ("Hostel," "Cabin Fever"). Several directors with horror experience are rotating through, including Ti West, Rachel Talalay and Jeremiah Chechik. Roth directed the first episode; Lynch directed episodes 3 and 5, and she was cast in a small part for episode 6.

Matt Lambert created the show and wrote the original script. James Manos, an executive producer always on the set overseeing the TV project, worked with Lambert to define the mythology and massage the pilot script. Manos has taken charge of each subsequent script and of the editing process, flying to New York City on the weekends to cut every episode.

Inside the warehouse, Production Designer Carlos Menendez and his team set up a restaurant, Frogmore's Diner, and a flea market replete with vendor stalls chock full of merchandise. A fluorescent green serves as a visual leitmotif designating the supernatural.

Cast and crew have shot scenes at several locations in downtown Charleston and throughout North Charleston: The old Navy base and Navy hospital, this warehouse near Park Circle, a motel by Interstate 26 and a cobblestone street in Charleston's historic district, among other places.

Religion is a recurring theme in the show, Godoy says. It's a preacher (haunted by former troubles) who convinces a reluctant Maria to become a proactive exorcist. And Charleston's culture and aesthetics are woven through the story.

"What a great place to shoot this show - the Holy City!" Godoy says.

On the set

While Lynch, who is the daughter of movie director David Lynch, oversees a rehearsal for a scene in Maria's palm reading stall (they will run the lines, mark the scene, adjust the lighting with stand-ins, rehearse as if shooting, then roll cameras), Manos took a seat on a stool at the makeshift diner counter and explained how the show got a quick green light from WE tv and was off and running.

"I've never worked with a better crew in my life," Manos says earnestly, adding praise for the show's production and distribution teams. More than half of those working on the series are from the Charleston area, he confirms. Others come from Wilmington, N.C., where the film industry is active.

It's a time-intensive job, involving seven-day shoots per episode, he says. The work often begins around 9 a.m. and can last until midnight. And Manos sets the tone.

"I love what I do," he says. "I'm the first to arrive and the last to leave."

Most everything is shot "in-camera," which means there are few complicated digital effects; the big demon fights and other paranormal phenomena are staged, with heavy use of prosthetics and makeup and camera techniques, Manos says.

The conceit of the show is that the setting for all this ghoulish activity "is not fiery pits and lakes of blood" but spas and swimming pools and sunny skies, Manos explains. Hell is not red hot but verdant green, fertile, fecund, full of life.

The biggest challenge is coping with unwanted ambient noise, he says. Trains and airplanes and trucks often force a cut or a short delay.

While the crew prepares for the flea market scene, actor Zachary Booth, who plays Maria's troubled brother, waits his turn in his trailor.

Booth says a week and a half elapsed between his audition and first meeting with Manos in New York City and the first day of shooting.

He's done a lot of theater work, most recently, in 2013, Terence Rattigan's "The Winslow Boy" at the Roundabout Theater Company and Lanford Wilson's "The Mound Builders" at the Signature Theatre, and a good amount of film work ("The Beaver," "Keep the Lights On," "Last Weekend"). But the TV experience has been piling up and helps him keep the rent paid, he says.

"It keeps me busy. This is my largest role so far on TV." And it has brought him together with producers, actors and directors who are good at what they do. As an actor, "it's easy in the world of genre TV to stop thinking and shocking, but Jim puts an intelligent thread through (the show)."

Another long day

Inside a dilapidated manor house in the officer's neighborhood on the old Navy base, the large "South of Hell" team busies itself with all sorts of details. They are shooting a brothel scene. Smoke is pumped into the rooms. The lighting is made golden. The digital camera on its dolly is positioned strategically in one of the doorways (the room has several mirrors making this a particularly delicate task). The actors block the scene, women in lingerie slink across the space.

Manos is there of course, chatting with Lynch. It's 6:30 p.m. The crew is trying to finish this flashback scene before they break for "lunch."

Paulina Singer's character is seeking information from the madam of the house. The young ingenue turns her back to the camera, revealing the symbol of an angel tattooed on her right shoulder.

Lynch directs the "inserts" - detail shots, close-ups, snippets of dialogue - that will be edited in with the main shots. Makeup personnel touch up the actors. Lynch calls action, then, in typical fashion, asks for two or three more takes in quick sequence. This is easy and cheap because of digital technology; she can keep the camera rolling even as she tweaks this or that, walks onto the set for a consultation or calls out commands, and she doesn't have to worry about burning a lot of dollars, she says.

It's been another long day, and the intensity hasn't let up, but Lynch is in good humor. She's got it well under control. She jokes with Manos. She is in her element.

Then just as she prepares to call action again, another train rumbles by. So it goes.

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03/12/2014

VN designers shape new fashion scene

VN designers, Spring-Summer Fashion Week, The Twins showcasing, world fashion market
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Viet Nam's annual Spring-Summer Fashion Week will be from December 7 to 10 preceded by Vietnam International Fashion Week, which will be held in the in the first week of the month.

The Spring-Summer fashion event will feature 26 designers' collections, including one from Italy and one from Malaysia.

According to Vietnam Fashion Design Institute Mode, the show's organiser, this is the first time collections from foreign designers have been displayed.

At these two large-scale events, local fashionistas will be able to learn more about trends and designs.

November witnessed a number of shows, from the Elle Fashion Show – Spring Summer 2015 – which presented six younger designers' collections – to The Twins showcasing their latest Autumn-Winter collection by renowned designer Do Manh Cuong.

Designer Quynh Paris introduced her Spring-Summer 2015 collection in Viet Nam, following its October debut at Los Angeles Fashion Week.

To some extent, these events signal growth in the country's emerging fashion industry.

"The more fashion shows are organised, the greater choices customers will have," noted designer Minh Hanh said.

"Vietnamese people have become aware of the value of outfits with special designs. As a result, designers and fashion brands have started organising large-scale shows, which help to pass messages of styles."

In recent years, Vietnamese creators have moved fast to respond to the domestic market.

"In the world of fashion, Viet Nam has its own style, but what we need to focus on is building a professional fashion industry," Hanh said.

"In this flat world, unique hallmarks will become rare and warmly welcomed no matter where you are."

A participant in the 2015 Spring-Summer Fashion Week, Ha Noi-based designer Hung Viet said he was delighted to see Vietnamese designers rapidly catching up with world trends.

"To achieve that, they must have certain professional qualifications, as well as creativity," said Viet, who will present his collection of monochromatic outfits with geometric designs at fashion week.

"It's good that local consumers also have such a positive outlook. They see trends in Viet Nam, but with Vietnamese style."

Aside from fashion shows at home, Vietnamese designers have been invited to present their collections abroad during the past few years. Now, an international fashion show being hosted locally shows Viet Nam is making strides in entering the world fashion market.

"The most challenging thing for a designer is to shape a future trend that highlights fashion's values," Viet said. "Fashion is not only products that you put on your body, but also it presents the trends, ideas and concepts of life, forcing designers to change their way of thinking."Read more at:prom dress shops

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