Apr 21, 2011

Students lives and careers transformed by dance and music audition, by Eva Rinaldi - 21st April 2011

Today was yet another pivotal step in the continued life and career transformation of my special needs students.

For the uninitiated, I teach a group of students in Sydney who have had a number of life and career challenges, many of them effected by traumatic early childhood experiences.

Studies have proven that the formative years of ones life - 1-10 years of age have a significant impact on how an individual will view the world for the rest of their lives.

I'm pleased to report that over the past five weeks the vast majority of my students have made significant gains in confidence, self esteem, attitude, work ethic, communication as a whole, and most have even started to grasp some of the inner workings of the arts, entertainment and media world.

Last week we focused on achieving some practical solutions such as real and sustainable employment opportunities. As a team, we have already identified that most of the students were not ideally suited for "normal jobs" - nor am I for that matter, and neither are most successful people in arts, entertainment and media. It takes a certain breed of person - strong personalities, vast imaginations and being high on energy and a 'can do' attitude. All are pretty much prerequisites for success. Some of my students have these attributes in spades.

Today was a golden opportunity for two of my class to land a dancer role in a major advertising campaign coming up for one of the world's leading entertainment and media companies - and right here in Sydney. While it was not a multi million dollar contract opportunity, it was a genuine foot in the door opp, or launchpad if you will, that the right person could bounce off into a solid TV, film, dance or advertising industry role.

Here's the great news. At least one of my students, let's call her "Ella", has progressed to the next round of casting where she gets one step closer to being a key face for an entertainment industry product and solution that could well end up becoming a household name in Australia. I see a little bit of a Susan Boyle thing going on with this student, and its so exciting to see her grow as both an individual and as a member of the workforce - in the ultra competitive entertainment and media sector. Yes, this chic has the right stuff.

I know the story may sound a little far fetched for some, and lets face it - we sometimes hear of incredible stories in the press (or in movies), which sound too good to be true. So, today I took along a video camera and we shot footage which will be incorporated into the documentary showcasing the transformation of the lives of my ever faithful class.

Within a week I will have a much clearer picture of just how far "Ella" is taking her dream, but the class and I have a really good feeling about it.

What's next for my class of "comeback of the decade" folks? More red carpets, events, artistic creations and some worthwhile media opportunities.

We've already proved the knockers wrong, and we look forward to doing it again and again.

Why do we continue to show that the "impossible" can become possible? Because we can, and also because its often lots of fun, and we get to not only share dreams and aspirations as a team - we also get to achieve greatness together also.

Dream, believe, love and achieve - thank you for joining us on our journey again and we shall look forward to sharing more "impossible dreams" again with you next week.


Human Statue Bodyart

Eva Rinaldi Photography

Eva Rinaldi Flickr

Music News Australia

Apr 17, 2011

Thor mania smashes into Sydney premier, by Eva Rinaldi - 17th April 2011


Jaimie Alexander

Chris Hemsworth

Thor mania, a big part of the Marvel Universe, smashed its way into the George St, Sydney Event Cinema tonight in front of hundreds of Marvel-Maniac fans and dozens of just as maniacal Australian photographers and paps.

Aussiewood - Hollywood leading man, Aussie born and bred hunk-0-mania Chris Hemsworth is ready to rock, roll, and get all caught up in Stan Lee's Marvel Universe, with Thor, which premiered in Sydney just minutes ago.

Thor is a killer movie, the type of blockbuster you have grown to love (or hate) based on the Marvel Comics character, who thanks to the flick push is starting to return to his former fame.

Hemsworth's mug is everywhere....billboards, soon TV, videogames, lunch boxes and god knows where else. The Aussie lad is understood to be in for a bush tucker bag of pay days, thanks to the revamped remuneration structure for Marvel Comics themed motion pictures.

Hemsworth was prepared to go on record with News Limited and wires with "It's been a slow burn for a year-and-a-half, gathering awareness, but now it's starting to really blow up with billboards and posters and more and more people seeing the trailer. It's nuts and it's exciting. I feel like a little kid, able to play a superhero, and that it's being received so well is exciting. It's incredibly surreal."

When Human Media asked him about the most enjoyable part of doing the film he said "Oh god, just all of it. It was all so awesome."

Movie insiders leaked that a Thor sequel is also about to go into production.

Thor is a key member of the Marvel Universe, at least these days. An insider leaked "Marvel comics living legend Stan Lee was quizzed and consulted on the the future of Thor, and he advised the one who swings the hammer must be a key part of the Marvel Universe future. Lee got his wish."

Thor will also appear in The Avengers, with Hemsworth in store for yet another pay day. Hollywood comeback kid Robert Downey Jr will get another go as as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as The Incredible Hulk, and Chris Evans as Captain America. Scarlett Johansson is strongly tipped to be appearing as spy Natasha Romanoff.

Back to Thor, Natalie Portman plays Hemsworth's superhero babe. Living legend Anthony Hopkins from 'Hannibal Lecter' world stars as Thor's dad Odin.

The film is directed by Kenneth Branagh and is getting the push in Australia by Paramount Pictures, rather than Sony, which looked after other Marvel Entertainment flicks such as Spider-Man. Spider-Man 4 is rumored to have got bumped to make way for the Thor release, with Captain America tipped to hit Australia within 6 months, possibly sooner.

"We'd talk about the business and Anthony always said, 'Make sure you're having fun, take it seriously and do the work' - but it is fun," Hemsworth stated.

Working with Portman, who recently won an Oscar for playing a troubled ballerina in Black Swan, was also enlightening.

"Natalie was fantastic, another one who I've been a huge fan of for years, and she's just as wonderful as you'd imagine, and really funny," he says. "I didn't realise she had such a great sense of humour."

To help prepare for playing Thor, the fit bronzed Aussie gained some extra beef, hitting the gym and gained about 10kg of muscle to finally tip the scales at 100kg. Movie special effects of course took care of the rest, so we think.

"I saw a nutritionist who said to think of myself as a caveman, and protein is what I must consume and lots of vegetables and fruit and a very little amount of carbs," he told the wires.

Hemsworth states there were no special effects to add to his look, but we are not totally convinced, but only he knows for sure.

"I can safely say that's all me. Short of going in and digitally copying every frame, colouring it in or something, I don't even know what they could do - they didn't have to change anything."

Hemsworth is warm and likable, especially by showbiz standards and says his three years on Home and Away was the best training an actor could have.

"Home and Away was one of the biggest learning curves for me because you're thrown into the deep end of it all," he says.

A couple of years ago Hemsworth quit Australian TV, headed off to the U.S, and got some cracker roles in films such as Star Trek, The Cabin In The Woods and Red Dawn.

My team and I found the actors and management very helpful and friendly, and from the footage we've seen of the film so far it looks fantastic, and we think its going to be in the 4 stars range, if you just make the allowance that it's a superhero movie.

A special thank you to the good folks at Paramount Pictures for your excellent assistance in helping coordinate things for us tonight, and also Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston for autographing the Thor picture that my son Joseph brought along this evening. Joseph and some of his mates were overheard to say they would see the film five times as a token of appreciation.

Thor premiered in Sydney tonight and opens on Thursday. As our un-met friend Stan Lee in the U.S says, Excelsior!


Apr 16, 2011

Parramatta students feel like a billion dollars after Arthur red carpet event, by Eva Rinaldi - 16th April 2011

It's been said that many times education should incorporate aspects of fun and creativity to help facilitate real learning.

This concept is something I have wholeheartedly embraced in my teachings of wellbeing, life and communication skills at Parramatta College.

My students are not what you would call run of the mill. They have been labelled as "disadvantaged", as far as employment and business prospects go.

Our once a week class comprises of adult aged students who have to put it mildly, had a really rough go of it in life. We go around the room and learn of the stories of family breakdown, job retrenchment, depression, weight and diet issues, sexual abuse, homelessness and we need not elaborate any further. But, we are hear to look forward, not look back.

Just in case you blinked and missed it, last week saw Eskimo the miniature pony visit our class where he was treated to being painted and pampered from head to hoof. Eskimo and the students really enjoyed themselves. The end result was a pony turned into a zebra, and a whole lot of fun, creativity, and we filmed some footage which will eventually be turned into a documentary.

Many of the students were hesitant to be interviewed as they want to achieve more first before getting too much attention in the media.

Lately we have been ramping up the media, communications and interview skills component of the course.

It's been long known that a lot of the general public have a fascination about celebrities, showbiz and media. Truth is, it can be a lot of fun, quite rewarding, but also a lot of hard work.  I don't have to tell you about how competitive it is.  You may even ask yourself why I would actually introduce my students to such a business.  Well, because it can be a lot of fun as well as some employment prospects still exist in the field, and in the early stages of my course I discovered that some of our students showed some aptitude for photography. Some people are best suited for jobs that express creativity or jobs that are "in the field", rather than being desk or office bound.

Last week my good friend Greg Tingle, a seasoned communications analyst, dropped in to brief my students on some interviewing techniques. Some potential work experience opportunities had arisen including photography and interviewing at some film premiers and other public events. Before the conclusion of the class all the students had questions ready for the likes of Russell Brand (Arthur), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator).  Arthur and Mr Brand were the entities that were most discussed.

A few days ago I got the green light from the good folks at Roadshow Films that my class and I could attend the Arthur red carpet event. You can imagine how ecstatic we were upon hearing the news.

I can honestly say that for many reasons the night was one of the most memorable experiences I had enjoyed for a long time.  It wasn't because it was a red carpet - I've done plenty of them before. It was because I was able to share the experience with many of my students who have also become my friends. The new experience expanded their minds and they were beaming with excitement - especially when Russell Brand approached us. It's hard to explain but for that evening all of our troubles seemed to disappear. My student Ella actually achieved some outstanding results as far as media and communications standards go. She got the attention of a communications officer for Mr Brand, and before long, she was speaking with Russell, got his autograph, and even took the most amazing close up photo of his expression full face. What also impressed me with Ella was her determination to do a good job and she even held her ground to a couple of other photographers who were being quite aggressive towards others. Mr Brand may have been the advertised star of the evening, but I feel my students were stars.

As I was just finishing off this piece I got a phone call.  I had suspected before even day one of the course that there would be significant media and entertainment industry interest in what we are doing. I can't disclose too much at this time, but what I can tell you is that the production company has strong ties to a number of government departments including the Department of Education and Training. In addition, there's been some follow up from contacts of mine at Network Seven, Nine and Ten. Channel Seven and Nine actually shot some footage of us from both last night, and also at the Arthur press conference on Thursday, and a few clips of us have also appeared via Fairfax Media. I don't know what exactly the end result will be as far as the documentary goes, but as always we are reaching for the stars.

Here's some information on the film too.

Arthur premier in Sydney, Australia: Russell Brand mania goes wild, by Eva Rinaldi - 15th April 2011

Bondi Junction's Westfield - Event Cinema to be precise, was swamped by thousands of fans and dozens of photographers, paparazzi and security guards from 7pm earlier today.

Brand, now frequently billed as the 'world's funniest man', was in fine form and was extremely generous with fans and the press, frequently stopping to chat on his slow walk down the red carpet.

I hear Mr Brand is off the drugs and booze - at least the hard stuff, but he's taking a liking to caffeine. He told press "I need caffeine. (I keep up) through artificial stimulants that are legally available through hot drinks. I am, one day at a time, still off the booze. I don't have alcohol in my life."

The funnyman is married to Katy Perry, but also on Thursday at the Sydney press conference admitted his love for co star Helen Mirren, and his choice of words indicated they were romantically linked.

Arthur, a remake of the 1981 classic starring Dudley Moore, sees the comedy genius star in the title role - a lovable but pretty hopeless billionaire set to lose all of his inheritance if he doesn't enter into an arranged but loveless marriage.

I loved Russell, as did my camera lens and special needs creative arts students. I would also like to make a big public thank you to Nathan and the team at Paramount Pictures who made tonight possible for my group and I. The act of generosity, warmth and understanding was an outstanding thing to come out of the otherwise often cut throat showbiz industry.

In a touching moment Brand accepted a hand made sketch by a teenage artist and publicly congratulated her on her gift, made jokes about how it might be worth a lot more if something happened, but went on to say to the young lady to stick with the art and that she had a lot to offer the world.

Paramount and Team Brand showed tremendous leadership tonight which many think will be returned to them ten fold. The right mix of fun, ability and the personal touch has been put into the production and promotion, and despite some mixed reviews coming out of the U.S, both Brand and Arthur already have hit written all over them for Australian audiences, and no  I'm not being too rich with the accolades. If an actors heart could ever be measured financially, Brand's is that of Billionaire ranking.

Arthur will open to general audiences in Australia on April 21.


Apr 14, 2011

Russell Brand's Arthur Sydney Premier Inspires "Disadvantaged" Students, by Eva Rinaldi - 14 April 2011

The talk of Australia's entertainment industry for the past weeks has been the long awaited Sydney premier of Jason Winer's 'Arthur' - the remake of the 1981 classic which stared Dudley Moore.

Staring the ever entertaining, funny and oh so controversial Russell Brand, alongside Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner, the flick has already been predicted by numerous insiders to be in line for a number of Oscars.

For me this is much more than just another run of the mill movie write up.

I've got a bit of history with Russell, mainly via his beautiful woman, Katy Perry. A number of years ago I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to do make-up on Ms Perry via my creative arts company. Katy was absolutely delightful to work and deal with, and I understand that word of the creation filtered back to Mr Brand a while later who was pretty impressed.

Ever since that personal connection with Ms Perry I have taken a more than casual interest in the affairs, if you don't mind my choice of words, of Katy and her man.

Just last March I was blessed to be able to speak about 'Team Brand' on Channel Seven's 'The Morning Show' while I was interviewed about various celebrities' experiences with professional photographers, paparazzi and the press in general. It came to my attention that a pap had attempted to put a camera up the skirt of Katy, and her man, Russell, had came to her rescue.  This is something that resonated with me, as my partner has also done his best to try to protect me from some of the undesirable aspects of the photography and larger media landscape also. Russell and Katy understand all too well that there are boundaries to personal privacy that need to be protected and honoured, but unfortunately some of the "bad guys" in the business don't understand (or don't want to understand). It actually felt wonderful to be able to publicly stick up for the lovely couple. Doing so actually got me a little bit of heat from a small number of other photographers in Sydney (so I knew that that my appearance on tele must have been good and had made an impact).

Moving along to the present, not everyone will know this but I'm also an educator. Over the years I've taught art, life skills, and more recently, even the basics of photography and media skills.  My current group of students are far from a typical student body.  This is not high school, TAFE, uni or even close. I teach a dozen students who have been labelled as "disadvantaged" (education land's legal term, not mine), and we are now five weeks into an eight week course. It's a modest, yet effective classroom at a Sydney college that doesn't require naming here.  I think the most newsworthy aspects of my class is that of the determination of the students to succeed, and how they are progressing towards their individual goals of once again entering the part or full time workforce, despite enduring some massively challenging circumstances - early childhood trauma, depression, sexual abuse, neglect, financial devastation, significant health issues and you get the idea. This crew is never say die, and they are determined to beat the odds and prove the knockers wrong. I know many folks would see my class as being in the "too hard basket" and one for the "in your dreams" category, but sometimes I look at my own life and career, and I see that the impossible can indeed become possible. The more folks tell me and us that it can't be done - the more I know it can be.

The last few weeks in the classroom have been so exciting.  We've given the the class a shot of showbiz flavor, but in quite a practical way, with just a modest amount of hype to keep things interesting, but at the same time we didn't over promise, but we did add fun, creative expression and fun in learning.  We also shared true stories of how other "successful" (whatever that is) people had themselves overcome massive odds, saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and have achieved things behold their wildest dreams.

Let's see... first up we had Eskimo the miniature pony and his handlers, Jason and Susan. The class transformed Eskimo into a Zebra! How you might ask... with bodypaint of course.  Eskimo was transported over to our college, and before you could say 'Mr Ed', he was in the lift on route to level 1.  When he trotted into the room the response was amazing, and before long many of the buildings teachers had invaded our class to take a closer look and the citizen paparazzi had swamped us (in a nice way). Fortunately we took lots of photos and also caught much of the transformation and action on video, so be sure to check it out on the web. What a wonderful day that was, and one that my students and I will remember for a long time. School had never been so much fun.

Crowe for that matter, but Mr Crowe, we know you don't have a film out in Sydney at the moment (but the students and I are super keen to see you attend our class to share also. If anyone knows about beating the odds, and some of life's challenges, that would be you. Yeah, there's some Rabbitohs fans in the class also.

All of this brings me to the present as I count down the hours to Sydney's premier of 'Arthur'. My big news is that the wonderful folks at Roadshow Films accepted our proposal to have a number of our lucky students attend the Sydney premier - camera and interview notes in hand no less! Wow. What you have to understand is that many of these students have had a really rough go of it in life, and none of them have ever got even close to showbiz before. Some of them had demonstrated a nature flair for photography, and a few even have some very solid interview techniques. Enough to trip up Russell Brand... not likely, but they will sure get him thinking if he can take the time to stop and take some questions that will surely be a breath of fresh air.

I think its wonderful that the 'Arthur' powers that be - Roadshow, Russell and you know who you are, have made the decision to enrich the lives of other Aussies less fortunate than most. The showbiz industry does have a heart, and has showed me that sometimes love can win over money - just like has been exhibited in 'Arthur'.

Hey Arthur, er... I mean Russell, I think it's time we got to know one another. My students and I really look forward to seeing you at the premier, and don't forget who publicly defended you and Katy in the Aussie press a few months ago will you mate? Just kidding, I think you and your team have already remembered it, and for that I am forever grateful.  The positive buzz and karma is already coming back to you and your team ten fold, such is the power of love and appreciation. Go with the heart, and just about anything can be achieved, be it in showbiz or everyday life. Thank you kind sir.


Apr 11, 2011

Disadvantaged students go animal for Eskimo miniature pony: Zebra Painting Improves Wellbeing - 10th April 2011

We've all heard the stories of the "too hard basked", "will never get a job", and "in your dreams".

Local teacher, celebrated media businesswoman and artist, Eva Rinaldi, is once again proving the naysayers wrong with her new life skills and wellbeing course tailored for disadvantaged people.

Ms Rinaldi is used to achieving the possible, so when the opportunity presented to teach life skills at The Parramatta College to a dozen people categorized as "disadvantaged" as far as job and business prospects go, she jumped at it.

The class comprises of adult aged students who have to put it mildly, had a really rough go of it in life. We go around the room and learn of the stories of family breakdown, job retrenchment, depression, weight and diet issues, sexual abuse, homelessness and we need not elaborate any further.

Ms Rinaldi said "I feel so blessed to be able to give these people new hope. My life has not been sheltered either and I've had my own share of ups and downs on the rollercoaster of life so I feel that I was hand picked for this most challenging role. I think that everyone one of us has a calling. We are four weeks into the eight week course now and the students are starting to open up to me more about their goals, dreams, aspirations, fears and life journey now. Many of them were quite hesitant at first. We've identified a few diamonds in the rough and we have already got some work experience opportunities confirmed for a number of them and their overall positive mental attitude has increased remarkable".

The charismatic teacher, well known for her media and arts appearances, has been contacting her impressive network of business contacts and has also secured the strong interest of News and Media. She's already signed up a number of the students as models and artists assistants for her Human Statue BodyArt, organised interviews with Media Man to raise more awareness and to give the students an outlet to share the story, and book into some of them to be St John's Ambulance volunteers at a number of upcoming music and sports events.

Ms Rinaldi said "Every little thing counts and gets them a step closer to where they want to be. You have to keep their spirit alive and heading in the right direction. Even this modest news article helps them see that society cares and has an interest. A very good friend of mine who works in media showed me the documentary of 'The Choir Of Hard Knocks' which showed many disadvantaged people come together and build up a formidable choir. There's were some absolutely golden people with amazing talent. I'm certain we have a similar kind of scenario with the students in my class. They just need to find their niche, and step by step they are. We're all really excited".

Many of the students were hesitant to be interviewed as they want to achieve more first before getting too much attention in the media, but we secured permission to publish some overview details.

Andrew: 55 years, booked into St Johns Ambulance volunteer service, into motorbikes and music and is looking forward to getting back into the workforce.

June: 50 years, long term depression issues, enjoys dancing, is into nutrition and helping others. Eva has identified June as been extremely intelligent.

Sarah: 20 years, long term unemployed and weight loss issues, but has lost 20kg in the last 2 months. Loves her dog and is looking forward to getting out and about more, and easing herself back into the workforce.

In the coming weeks we will be tracking the progress of these never say die students, and Ms Rinaldi promises us that she will have some very special guests coming along to share their own stories, and further reinforce to her class that nothing is impossible, by providing real life examples and genuine work experience opportunities, some of which will likely lead to sustainable employment prospects.

An enthusiastic Ms Rinaldi closed in saying "We have some amazing talented people here with lots to offer and who can't wait to get back to work. The more the naysayers say it can't be done, the more I know it can be. I've made some big comebacks in my own career, and I've been sharing some of the secrets with my class. Together I know we will all cross the finish line. This assignment has been one of my careers biggest challenges, but already its turning into one of the most rewarding".

We have a lot of images of the pony going into the lift will send them through if you are interested.