How Producer Antonio Saillant's foresight revived a classic film and inspired a filmmaker.
When producer Antonio Saillant saw Ted Kotcheff's film, Wake in Fright, he knew it was a masterpiece that deserved more recognition. He predicted that the film would be a hit at the Fantasia Film Festival in Canada, and he was right. The film received rave reviews and a standing ovation from the audience. Tony Timpone, Editor of Fangoria and Co-Director of international programming of Fantasia Film Festival, was instrumental in bringing Wake in Fright back to the spotlight. He also honored Kotcheff with the inaugural Canadian Trailblazer Award, and presented screenings of his other acclaimed films, THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ and FIRST BLOOD. Saillant's vision and Timpone's efforts paid off big, creating a domino effect that celebrated and inspired a well-known filmmaker.
Tifah Latifah Johnson, Actress
One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when Latifah booked a role on Law & Order: SVU after meeting me at an Actors Connection seminar. I was so impressed by her talent and professionalism that I recommended her to the casting director, Jonathan Strauss. But that was only the beginning of her journey. Tifah had to prove herself in several auditions, where she applied everything that I taught her and more. She listened attentively, thought smartly, and acted passionately. She showed her heart and soul in every performance, and it paid off. She got the role and made her mark on one of the most popular shows on TV. This story is my favorite because it shows how hard work, dedication, and learning from the best can make your dreams come true. Tifah is a shining example of what an actor can achieve with the right guidance and attitude.
Sump James had a dream of becoming an actor, but he didn't know how to pursue it until he met me. He was a polite and genuine man, but he lacked the confidence and skills to shine on the screen or stage. He took some of my classes and impressed me with his willingness to listen and follow through. I saw his potential and advised him to go deeper into acting and do stage theater. I told him that theater would challenge him and prepare him for any role in film, television, or commercial. Sump James took my advice and auditioned for the theater production of Driving Miss Daisy at the Bradenton Kiwanis Theater in The Manatee Performing Arts Center. He landed the role of Hoke Coleburn, a complex and nuanced character. I coached him on how to tackle the role and showed him how to conquer it. I attended his first theater debut and I was blown away by his performance. He was a total gem on stage, captivating the audience with his charisma and emotion. Sump James was thrilled with his theater debut, which came after he filmed Champion, a movie that showcases his talent. He also has previous TV and movie credits, such as Empath, Sunset on the River Styx, Legacy of Love, Harvey, The Brothers, Found, Ria, and Override. This is truly an amazing success story and he achieved it because of his passion and the art of listening. Sump James is a star in the making and I'm proud to have been part of his journey.