Archive for July 2009

ZEUS–Bleached, dressed & on-set by 3pm

July 31, 2009


Our art directors at UVPH envisioned Zeus as a younger man, but with white hair, a white beard, and white markings across his face and chest. White has a purity and power about it that one would attribute to the king of the gods. Plus, the juxtaposition of a fairly young guy all in white would be striking. And it was.

But it took hours.

To make his call time, Joseph Beddelem–our actor playing Zeus–had to leave Tangier, where he was filming another project, the night before. It’s a 12 hour ride to Ouarzazate. He was expected to arrive in town around 9am, and go right to the local salon to have his black hair bleached THREE times, which would take 3-4 hours. We needed him bleached, dressed and on set by 3pm.

At 10 am, we got the call that he was still three hours away. A flash flood had washed out the road through the mountains. We’d never make our day.

Thankfully, the gods intervened on our behalf. The road was re-opened, and Joseph made it to town around 1pm, and went straight to the salon. Meanwhile, we shot without him as best we could.

By 4:30pm, he was on set, but his transformation wasn’t quite complete. Next came the make-up. Getting clean, crisp edges on a very intricate design for his face and chest didn’t come quickly. Plus, his hair was still blonde – no amount of bleach would make it white. So our whole make-up department swarmed around him like bees. Here he was, having driven all night from Tangier, having endured three uncomfortable bleach cycles, scalp burning, lying on the floor of our make-up tent while his hair, face and chest were hastily polished.

At 6pm, he was finally on set. And looking just how I would picture Zeus.

Zeus Lightning

Kudos to everyone who made it happen.

–Chris Cassel,
Clash of the Gods, Series Director & Writer


Our Cool Movie Poster

July 29, 2009


CLASH OF THE GODS: Experience with Lightning preferred

July 28, 2009

On Monday August 3, KPI’s new series for HISTORY launches at 10PM ET/PT.
CLASH OF THE GODS tackles myths–big gutsy unwieldy myths filled with sex, snakes, sirens, flying dragons and monsters eating people.

Zeus Typhon

First episode is ZEUS–the greatest of the Greek Gods. So how do you cast a god? That was the question we kept asking ourselves. Zeus. All-powerful. Larger than life. Experience with lightning preferred.

We were filming in Ouarzazate – a remote studio town in the Moroccan desert where films such as Kingdom of Heaven, Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia filmed many of their scenes. You’d think you could find godlike superheros in a setting like that. You’d be wrong.

For days we scoured the town – home to about 80,000 people with droves of tourists passing through. We held casting calls at our hotel, scoured street corners, checked out the only gym in town, which looked more like janitor’s supply closet than a Bally’s. No one had the ZEUS “look”.

We extended our search across the country. Casting photos poured in from Casablanca, Marrakesh, Tangier. Where had all the superheros gone?

In the end, we settled for a mere mortal. We cast Joseph Beddelem, an experienced Moroccan stuntman with credits including The Bourne Identity, The Hills Have Eyes and Alexander as our Zeus.

Moroccan stuntman Joseph Beddelem

Moroccan stuntman Joseph Beddelem

Joseph is one strong and rugged dude. He had an air of authority about him and his screen experience suggested he’d be able to carry the role more convincingly than the janitor down the street (who usually has a steady side job thanks to small, poor productions like ours.)

We had our man.

Next…the task of turning him into a god.
(to be continued in our next blog post–)

–Chris Cassel,
Clash of the Gods, Series Director & Writer


July 23, 2009

Last week the Emmy (R) Award nominations were announced, and our friends at Pixeldust received 3 out of the 6 (!) special effects nominations for news & documentaries. One was for their incredible (& very scary) work on KPI’s October 2008 special for Discovery–APOCALYPSE HOW.

So we asked 2 of the principle creatives responsible–Nick Jernigan at Pixeldust and Ted Poole at KPI–to tell us a little about what’s involved with, say, decimating NYC.


Says Nick:
The challenge of Apocalypse How’s visual effects was to create multiple shots, spanning ten completely different doomsday scenarios. This was an extremely rewarding experience due to KPI being completely open to technique and style throughout the entire process. The artists used animation, visual effects and live action to achieve world destruction. One of the sequences was to destroy New York City with an atomic bomb, which consisted of more than 250 layers.

Says Ted:
A big challenge in doing the CGI for Apocalypse How was in trying to come up with visual representations of purely theoretical disasters. When all scientists have to tell us is that a “mini-black hole might eat the Earth”, there are a lot of different ways you could go with that. The team at Pixeldust helped us visualize these disasters in ways that are powerful and that hadn’t been done before.

See a clip on the KPI website at

CLASH OF THE GODS premieres Aug 3 on HISTORY

July 22, 2009

Flying dragon

KPI’s new series CLASH OF THE GODS tackles myths–big gutsy, unwieldy myths filled with sex, snakes, sirens, flying dragons and monsters eating people. From Zeus to Hercules to Medusa, this is the kind of stuff you haven’t seen on TV because it is such an unruly beast to fell.
Producing a series of this magnitude involves huge international crews, large casts, makeup teams, cutting- edge special effects, a ton of planning & perseverance and the best people you can find to pull it all off.

Chris Cassel and Jessica Conway (two elder KPI statesmen/women) spent months shooting this series in North Africa, Lithuania, Sweden and beyond. Then back in NYC Kristy Sabat and Andrea Pilat began sifting through the plot lines with editors Jennifer Honn, Tova Goodman and William Miller.

This series was pre-scripted with a Lord of the Rings trilogy shoot-it-all-at-once approach. The style (sketch above) is a very intentional graphic novel blend with plenty of live action. The goal is to create a signature look for channel surfers.

First episode (Aug 3) is ZEUS–Ancient Greece’s most powerful god in an epic struggle against his father for control of the universe. Experts believe this myth may have been ancient code for a real world event – one of the greatest natural disasters the Earth ever experienced.

–Vinnie Kralyevich, KPI founder & CCO

She’s Not in Kansas Anymore

July 17, 2009

Kansas is famous for its tornados, but how do you explain this one??
She’s the whirlwind of brains, beauty and drive that KPI just signed to a talent deal.

Raised up on a ranch (think: a cow for a pet) in Kansas (Louisburg, pop. 2,940).

Louisburg KS

“I just remember thinking my mother was so glamorous. She was the first woman I was fascinated with.” This little sprout blossomed to become a fresh-faced MISS TEEN USA. (She continues to mentor Miss Teen USA hopefuls.)

But she’s, uh, all grown up now…and thriving in California.

She started her own business in LA: Style Studio.
Image consulting, corporate branding and event styling to the max.

VERY successful.

Now she’s expanded her biz up the coast to San Francisco—new high-end clients, new hearts to win.

Her name is Keylee Sanders.

Keylee Grammy pic

Remember that name: KEYLEE SANDERS


July 2, 2009


KPI has secured access to the world’s foremost shark expert David Ulloa. We’re calling our three-minute demo tape The Shark Whisperer. While most shark shows deal with limited depths and species, KPI and David travel to investigate what happened behind the headlines in clashes between sharks and man. We go to the beaches sharks find most appetizing and then we send David in to get to know the sharks, debunk assumptions about the predators and, in the process, tell us why the attacks happened. (We’ve taken our teaser tape out
in the last week and are beginning to get a few bites. If you want to see it e-mail me directly please)
–Vinnie Kralyevich, KPI founder & CCO