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  • From Comic-books to the Silver Screen: NYFA Screenwriting takes a Closer look at Thor: Ragnarok


    “Thor: Ragnarok” is here, and The New York Film Academy is just as excited as everyone else for the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For his third film, the Norse God’s story was placed in the hilarious and loving hands of an independent film director. Taika Waititi’s films include “The Hunt for the Wilder People,” “Things we do in the Shadows,” and “Eagle VS Shark.” They have garnered more than twenty nominations including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and the Bram Stoker Award. This is the first Marvel film directed by a New Zealander.

    Ragnarok represents a lot of other firsts for the MCU as well. The film also features the first female villain, with Cate Blanchette debuting as Hela. Hela is Odin’s first child, banished to another dimension for trying to conquer more lands than Odin was willing to rule. Tessa Thompson also enters as the first Black woman to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Storm of the X-Men cinematic franchise is owned and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

    This spirit of firsts carried over into the real world. Thompson, in a press conference in Los Angeles last week, told journalists that she rounded up all the female superheroes in the MCU and brought them to Executive Producer Kevin Feige. “It’s intimidating to get a tap on the shoulder and see all of the female heroes behind you.” The implication is that fans could see an all female-led cape and cowl film sooner rather than later from Marvel Studios.

    It’s these big ideas and game-changing plans that bring large crowds from all over the world to view these stories. We here at the New York Film Academy were curious as to how Marvel was able to create the first cinematic universe across multiple platforms. Since “Iron Man” was released in 2008, Marvel Studios has pushed the boundaries of what it means to have a successful franchise. Not just a trilogy, but multiple phases of films that affected not only the original comic books, but have also sold thousands of video games, toys, and entire lines of clothes.

    In order to learn more about how Marvel was able to reach these heights, we sat down with two comic book experts. Chair of Screenwriting, Nunzio DeFilipps, and Associate Chair of Screenwriting, Adam Finer spoke with NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith about how Marvel was able to break the mold.

    Screenwriting comic books for movies

    Adam Finer – Associate Chair of Screenwriting

    NYFA: Why do you think so many people gravitate towards Marvel stories?

    DeFilippis: There’s a joy to Marvel stories in the Cinematic Universe that is contagious. The broader Marvel properties speak to something primal like power, responsibility, community, and duty. We have always responded to superheroes because they speak to our desire to see powerful forces trying to help us. We live in a world, which more often than not, shows us powerful forces trying to hurt or control us.

    Lastly, the Cinematic Universe has done a good job of pulling different genres into their shared universe. There’s a spy thriller in Winter Soldier and a comedic heist movie in Ant-Man. And yet, both films share a world and work in a coherent way.

    Finer: Over the years, Marvel has done an amazing job of creating stories that have a deep emotional core. It doesn’t matter that most of the characters are superheroes. They still struggle with basic human emotions. How do you fit in when you’re different? How do you deal with alienation? How do you overcome your ego? How do you deal with great power? How far will you go for a friend?

    Marvel’s stories often ask readers if they can be different and find love and acceptance? Can they overcome massive obstacles placed in their path? These are universal questions and challenges. Marvel’s characters are flawed and human even with superpowers. We can relate to those flaws and the characters’ humanity.

    NYFA: How does the original comic-book form lend itself to film, video games, and long-form literature?

    DeFilippis: Comics are visual storytelling, and pre-date films as a visual way to tell stories. Cave paintings and pictograms were in effect comics – art that when taken in sequence creates a story.

    We learn to take in stories visually through art before we even start watching movies. Picture books, for example, are very similar to comics as a story.

    There’s an argument that can be made that says our natural form for visual storytelling is sequential art. As a result, I think it lends itself very well to any visual medium because it occupies a place in our minds as basic visual storytelling. The specific language of comics (page count, panel layout) may take time to master, but the idea of taking in stories in this way is so basic, that when laying out how a movie will look, we use storyboards, which are very much like comics.

    Finer: Comic books are an amazing storytelling format. If we go back to some of the earliest forms of written stories they are visual representations of life in the form of paintings on cave walls. The comic book is the natural extension of our earliest storytelling. This form of art lends itself to the tradition of visual storytelling. It is a great resource to build into other forms of storytelling. Seeing the comic book evolve into other forms of storytelling makes perfect sense. We’re seeing the renaissance of comic books evolving into other platforms, but this is not a new trend. Comic books and comic strips have been a source for other platforms going back to motion picture serials and early animated films.

    NYFA: How important is an established fan relationship with these characters? Could another unknown company replicate this success?

    DeFilippis: Yes, another company could replicate this success. But not right away. Marvel and DC are building off decades of established world and characters. People today want to launch similarly powerful story worlds, but they hope to hit Marvel levels of success within years of launching their story world, and that just doesn’t happen.

    Finer: Yes, another company or franchise could find success but not through replication. A project that finds success would find it organically by creating a unique and compelling story world with unique characters. They have to build their own fan base. Harry Potter is a perfect example of this. In a fairly short time, in comparison to Marvel’s nearly 80 years in existence, Harry Potter has become one of the biggest franchise properties in the world.

    Screenwriting comic books for movies

    Nunzio DeFilippis – Chair of Screenwriting

    NYFA: What is your relationship with Marvel?

    DeFilippis: As a professional, my wife and I have worked for Marvel Comics for years. We’ve written X-Men comics. We have also worked with Marvel to develop a property into a film before they had their huge success with Iron Man and launched their Cinematic Universe. Our collaboration with them on the Hollywood side wasn’t nearly as successful as their later efforts.

    As a fan, I was initially a DC kid. But I was a huge fan of the X-Men and Captain America. And I read a lot of Spiderman as well. While I’ve always loved both universes, I think I stayed primarily a DC fan until recently. These days I lean a bit more Marvel as a fan. But that’s because their Cinematic Universe is so well put together, while DC has been hit or miss.

    Finer: I have been a comic book reader and collector since I was a kid. Marvel comics have had a huge impact on my desire to tell stories. Back in the late 1970’s, a little movie called Star Wars came out and it changed the way I thought about storytelling. Then in addition to the superhero comic books that I loved, Marvel began expanding the “Star Wars” universe through comics. I could read comics and learn more about the characters I had grown to love. Now both Marvel and the “Star Wars” universe are apart of the Disney family. We continue to see both story worlds expand and often see elements of different platforms extend and enhance the franchises.

    NYFA: When they first announced the Marvel Cinematic Universe did you have any doubts?

    DeFilippis: Not the Cinematic Universe. That was after the success of Iron Man, so I didn’t doubt them anymore. But I doubted Iron Man. I was teaching a class on writing comics and told my students that I didn’t think Iron Man would do well. I felt like he wasn’t iconic enough a hero. And “Iron” felt dated. Nobody’s that impressed by something being iron now that we have Titanium and other stronger metals.

    But then I saw the trailer, and when Tony said, “Yeah, I just flew” with such joy, I knew they had hit exactly the right tone for superheroes. And I knew I was wrong and Iron Man would be a hit.

    Finer: Marvel had some early attempts at building the Cinematic Universe before it took off. The Universal Studios “Hulk” movies have some tie-ins to the later MCU. So I think there was some trepidation about how the MCU was going to play out. I think when fans saw Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark those trepidations began to vanish. And then with Iron Man, we saw the Marvel Universe truly brought to life on screen.

    NYFA: As a writer, how complicated is the process of keeping 8 storylines cohesive at one time?

    DeFilippis: It’s not that different from working out a season of television. The only difference is the scope. Marvel’s got a LOT more going on than any one TV series. But the principles are the same. When you work on TV, you build stories for all characters and themes the series is exploring. Those storylines unfold over time as characters interact with one another. That’s what Marvel has to do. But for Marvel, each storyline is its own thing and could be developed with a natural sense that it could run independently. That makes the task harder but not different.

    Finer: I don’t come at this as a writer but as a Transmedia Teacher and Storyteller. So, from my perspective, I work with students to refine and fine-tune their story worlds so that they are able to work on multiple storylines at the same time. The focus is on telling simple stories in often-complex worlds. It can be challenging to rope in all of the stories but we help them build the tools and techniques to make the complex worlds cohesive and connected.

    That said, I personally like to think that at Disney there are several rooms with what I call the “Transmedia Wall of Crazy.” I have been told by people “in the know” that no such rooms exist, but I like to believe that somewhere there is the MCU Room and the “Star Wars” Room where stories are connected by yarn and post-it notes and crazy writings that connect the various elements of the franchises.

    NYFA: Why do you think other companies struggle to be both critically and financially successful as they build out their universes?

    DeFilippis: They struggle for several reasons. First, they don’t have the stable of properties that Marvel has. Second, not every story or story world should be developed like that.

    Finer: Marvel took their time building up their characters, the cross character stories, and the universe as a whole. I think one of the struggles other companies deal with is that they want to launch their massive worlds all at once without giving the audience time to connect with characters and their stories first. Also, Marvel has done a terrific job injecting humor into their stories and it feels like so many other companies have wanted to go dark without the relief that humor provides.

    It is important to note that companies like Blumhouse have done an outstanding job building story worlds and franchises in the horror genre. Many family films have built tremendous franchises as well (obviously Disney and Pixar but also Universal with the “Despicable Me” and “Minion” franchise).

    NYFA: If you could write a solo film for a Marvel character whose story would you write and why?

    DeFilippis: I’m not sure. Rogue is a favorite. Captain America is amazing, but he’s in great hands right now. Nightcrawler or Kitty Pryde are both great. But my favorite obscure character is a woman named Diamondback who’s a villain who fell in love with Captain America and then reformed to be with him. She’s not with him anymore. So what happens to a character like that?

    Finer: I’d still like to see Marvel get back the “Fantastic Four” and really knock that world and those characters out of the ballpark. I think the Thing is such an interesting and tragic character. Along those lines, I remember years ago reading a Beast comic book (I don’t recall if it was a trade or a graphic novel) and my recollection was it was a tragic love story and I thought it would make a great stand-alone movie.

    Catch the continuation of the Marvel Universe with Thor: Ragnarok in theaters November 2nd.


    October 24, 2017 • Screenwriting • Views: 1082

  • NYFA Alumna Meghan Modrovsky is Arya in “Game of Thrones: The Musical”


    NYFA acting alumna Meghan Modrovsky is on her way to Broadway as one of the most popular characters in America: Arya Stark, the littlest assassin on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is now a rapping, singing assassin in “Game of Thrones: The Rock Musical.”

    Modrovsky was interviewed via email by NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith to talk about the monumental task of playing Arya and what it’s like to be a part of something with such a large fanbase.

    NYFA: Can you talk a little about the audition process? Did you go in for Arya or were you surprised by the casting decision? 

    Modrovsky: I applied for the part of Arya via Actor’s Access in October of 2016. The audition itself was the same as any other. I had to prepare 16 bars and a scene, but there was one big exception.

    The role of Arya required the actor the rap. While I’m a fan of the genre, I had never rapped for anyone other than my cats. I prepped my song, my sides, and my 60 seconds of rap and went into the audition that day fully expecting to make an *ss out of myself.

    As I was sitting in the waiting area about to implode from anxiety, a wave of calm washed over me and I just started smiling. I’m sitting here about to rap a frickin’ Eminem song so I can hopefully play Arya Stark in a “Game of Thrones” parody musical. As soon as I accepted how ridiculous the whole situation was, I was ready to go. This was a rare audition. I felt really, really good afterward, so I was just elated when they called to offer me the part.

    NYFA: Are you a fan of the book or the show? Who is your favorite character? 

    Modrovsky: At this point in time, I prefer the books to the show. Once the show ran out of George R. R. Martin’s source material and started bending towards fan fiction, the carefully constructed character logic started getting sacrificed for sake of the plot and the show has suffered as a result. Yes, I’m that person.

    My favorite character has always been Cersei. She is vile, vindictive, power-hungry, murderous, and her blowing up the Sept is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on television. What’s not to love?

    NYFA: Did you base your characterization off of the book, the show, a mixture of both, or just use the script you had? Why?

    Modrovsky: I stuck to the script we were given almost exclusively for Arya’s portrayal. Our show’s plot focuses on season one of “Game of Thrones,” with some well-placed spoilers, and Arya wasn’t a big player in the story yet. We are first and foremost a parody musical, so the writer decided to play with Arya’s arc and make it a running gag. I don’t want to give too much away, but in our show, you see Arya go through hilarious phases and stages of adolescence as she tries to figure out who she is.

    NYFA: What was it like performing at Comic Con? Do you have a favorite memory from this performance? 

    Modrovsky: San Diego Comic Con was an absolute madhouse in the best possible way. We had eight shows over four days and we were all sick and exhausted by the end. The audiences loved it though. My favorite memory happened after our final show.

    We went out into the lobby to take photos with people and after some time, I headed backstage to change out of my sweaty costume. As I rounded the corner to the entrance of the theatre, I heard someone shriek, “Arya!”

    It was a group of audience members from the last performance. They rattled off how much they loved the show, how much they loved what I did with Arya, how much they loved my rap sequence and a slew of other incredibly kind words. We all hugged and they went on their merry way, but man, that was a truly amazing way to end a crazy week. That alone is one of the coolest things that have ever happened to me.

    NYFA:  Is there any fan interaction with the show? What has that been like? 

    Modrovsky: There is! Not so much with famous lines, but during the transition from the opening number to scene one, we normally start singing “Peter Dinklage” to the tune of  “The Game of Thrones” theme song.  It always gets a good laugh. At Comic Con the crowds participated loudly and enthusiastically. They loved booing Joffrey and even started singing the chorus with us for “Things I Do For Love.”

    NYFA: What’s the most exciting part about taking the show to NY? 

    Modrovsky: The most exciting part is being taken to NY as an off-Broadway production. This is not the normal fate of most theatre productions, and we are very fortunate to have this opportunity. I’ve been doing theatre since I was 13 and the notion that in one short month I’ll be playing several doors down from some of the biggest names on Broadway is mind-boggling.

    NYFA: Has the cast and crew watched this season of “Game of Thrones” together?

    Modrovsky: Yes! Several cast members would regularly organize screenings and good portions of the cast would get together to watch. Sadly, I don’t know about any fun reactions. I haven’t been present for any of the viewings for two reasons. One, my fiancé would be very upset if I watched it without him. “Game of Thrones” runs deep in our relationship. Two, I am incapable of shutting the heck up during an episode. I didn’t want to inflict that on my friends.

    NYFA: What’s your favorite song to sing in the musical? 

    Modrovsky: Definitely “Stronger.” “Stronger” is our feminist power ballad where all the women of Westeros including Daenerys, Sansa, Arya, Catelyn, and Cersei come together to say, “Yes, our current circumstances suck, but we possess the strength to rise above and conquer.” The song is about empowerment and overcoming the odds of your situation. We’re a parody show, so this number is particularly special as it’s our one serious moment.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that helped you with this role? 

    Modrovsky: It wasn’t specifically something that helped me with the role; rather it helped me land the role. I learned to never make the casting director’s choice for them. I was so nervous the morning of the audition that I seriously considered canceling my time slot. I’m so glad the logical side of my brain told the emotional side to shut up.

    It’s not your place as an actor to decide if you’re right for the part. That’s the casting director’s job, and your speculation on the whys and why not’s are irrelevant and a waste of your energy. Focus on being prompt, prepared, likable, and leaving a good impression in the room.

    NYFA: Why do you think fans have flocked to the show? 

    Modrovsky: “Game of Thrones” has a ravenously devoted fanbase. People have flocked to ”Game of Thrones: The Rock Musical” for the same reasons they flocked to ”A Very Potter Musical.” They love these characters and story so much and they want to share their love of it with their fellow nerds.

    You can watch “Game of Thrones: The Rock Musical” at The Jerry Orbach Theater on 50th and Broadway in midtown Manhattan. The show runs from October 13 – 29.


  • From Doctor in Saudi Arabia to Acting Student in Los Angeles


    Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 4.57.29 PM

    Often creative individuals are afraid to take the necessary steps toward becoming a working artist, especially those who have found a comfortable life in another professional industry. One of our newest students put fear aside and decided to pursue his passion for acting. As a doctor in Saudi Arabia, Abdulhakeem Jomah still felt that something was missing in his life. After learning about a friend who had taken up filmmaking at New York Film Academy and another in the producing program, Jomah became more and more interested in our hands-on programs. Ultimately, his decision was to enroll into NYFA’s MFA Acting for Film Program in Los Angeles — stark contrast from being a doctor. We decided to have a brief chat with the new student, as perhaps his story could pave ways for others looking to break into a creative pursuit.

    What ultimately made you decide to go from being a doctor to pursuing acting at the New York Film Academy?

    I’ve always been into acting as more of a hobby — coming from a militarily academic family very much eliminates an academic pursuit of the arts right off the bat.

    I suppose my tipping point was when a group of amateur actors, led by an ambitious director, took a pretty daring chance (considering the highly traditional playing field) in staging an all English, localized adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. In which I would play the lead, McMurphy.

    It was a hectic eight months of rehearsal at one of the local college auditoriums where we were meant to stage it. And not three weeks before opening night we were shut down by the government.

    We were in shambles for a good while, but a private benefactor took up our cause. He gave us his estate to use for our play.

    And for one night, we did two shows, to two explosive standing ovations. The energy was electric. The aftermath very positive, and the pleads for more thrummed through the following year.

    Seeing that energy, that positivity, the fruits of our near nine month struggle come to fruition, we weren’t paid, we did it because we loved it and it was ALL worth it, and I’d do it again, a million times over.

    That, is what made me realize that this is what I needed to do.

    Have you acted in anything prior to the play: professional or otherwise?

    Aside from the play I mentioned earlier, nothing professional.

    Abdullah Kurashi, the aforementioned production student, and I have done a lot of shorts together back in Saudi. Ranging from Joker impersonation videos for local competitions, to completely random, often psychotic shorts. Only because we loved doing it.

    Is there an actor who inspires you?

    I can mention oldies all day, but there are actors that have a deep, personal methodology that I respect and one day hope to attain that discipline.

    Christian Bale, is at the top of that list. His methodology is absurdly dedicated and there’s nothing I didn’t love him in.

    Jake Gyllenhaal was the star of the first movie I ever called my favorite (Donnie Darko), and has ridiculously come into his own recently with Nightcrawler and Prisoners.

    But most recently, Oscar Isaac has really won me ove with Inside Llewyn Davis, and Ex Machina — he’s just a cool guy.

    What do you hope to achieve with your training at NYFA?

    I’ve no illusions of living the American dream and making millions. I have a genuine, embedded love for the craft. If it were about the money, doctors make tons of it. I’d stick with that and call it a day.

    There are artists in the Middle East that CAN’T go public with their art out of fear or scrutiny, it’s a taboo. And I want to change that. We can only perform after jumping through a million and one hoops, and even then with restriction.

    If nothing else, I’m hoping this move will inspire my fellow artists in the trenches and foxholes to come out and show the world what we have, and perhaps in doing that, shed light and awareness on all other issues that, if addressed and abolished, could better our home.

    And I’d love to say I was at the vanguard of that movement.


    May 7, 2015 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4873

  • Comic Characters Get Cast



    It’s a big day for fans of comic book adaptations, or for that matter, fans of Glee, Game of Thrones, or the recent Lifetime biopic of Aaliyah. Bryan Singer used his Twitter account this week to announce the three young stars of his latest X-Men sequel, X-Men Apocalypse. Apocalypse will be following the series reboot in Days of Future Past with a 1980s setting and starring returning cast members Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.

    However, the series will be recasting its original characters—Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey. James Marsden, Halle Berry and Famke Janssen are out, and Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Sophie Turner are in. Sheridan is best known for his roles in Matthew McConaughey vehicles Mud and Joe, Shipp starred as Aalyiah in the Lifetime biopic and Sophie Turner has been winning over more and more fans as determined survivor Sansa Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

    Don’t worry if you’re more of a DC than a Marvel fan—there’s news for you too. Supergirl, a new CBS series with elements of a police procedural (because it’s CBS, duh) has found its lead—Melissa Benoist. Benoist is best known for Glee, and has found a more serious audience recently with her role in Best Picture nominee Whiplash. Superman’s younger, blonder cousin should be showing up on TV sets this September.

    Finally, if that’s enough news to satiate your comic book appetite, there have been a couple of not-quite-casting stories this week. Marvel is supposedly courting 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor for a “leading role” in their upcoming Avengers installment, Doctor Strange, which already has Oscar nom Benedict Cumberbatch set as the magician superhero. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Jake Gyllenhaal has taken himself out of the running to replace Tom Hardy, who recently dropped out of the leading role of DC’s Suicide Squad. The follow-up to this summer’s Batman V. Superman, Suicide Squad focuses on a team of supervillains who must save the world. While the production is struggling to find a new star, it’s now rumored that Ben Affleck’s Batman will make an appearance with Jared Leto’s Joker at some point in the film.

    And that’s all the comic book movie news there is… for the next twelve minutes.


    January 23, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3444

  • Kooky Kaiju: A Look at Some of Godzilla’s Most Outlandish Monsters


    Godzilla and Momoko Kôchi on the set of Gojira

    When it was announced that the latest reboot of the Godzilla franchise would center around the film’s titular character battling other creatures, you could almost hear the collective shriek of excitement from fans around the world. After all, with the exception of the original 1954 Gojira and 1998’s unfortunate US version, Godzilla has tended to serve as an ally, albeit a destructive one, to the human populace against invading monsters. Over the past sixty years, Godzilla has encountered numerous foes and friends that have ranged from the imposing—King Ghidorah anyone?—to the downright silly.

    Gojira is a landmark film not only for its stark commentary on the effects of nuclear warfare—after all, it came out nearly a decade after the US dropped nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima—but it also helped to usher in the modern disaster film. However, with the massive success of the original film, Toho Studios soon found themselves with a franchise that needed additional kaiju—the Japanese term for monsters—to entertain their increasingly young fan base. While Roland Emmerich’s critically-panned Godzilla sought to take the film back to its roots, old and new fans of the iconic kaiju were understandably elated with the announcement that Godzilla would be returning to the screen to combat a terrifying new species of kaiju known as M.U.T.O (which stands for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) and save humanity in the process.

    While the new film, which opens today, aims to amp up the intimidation factor of the new monsters as they appear in both eight-legged and winged incarnations, looking back at six decades of Godzilla movies reveals a veritable rogues gallery of often laughable kaiju whose campiness has only grown over time. To celebrate this return to form, we decided to take a look at some of the more outlandish characters that have crossed paths with the green monster.

    King Kong

    King Kong and Godzilla destroy building during battle

    In what was probably a no-brainer for Toho studio execs, Godzilla’s third outing featured the classic American monster super-sized to make a worthy opponent for his much larger enemy. While undeniably hokey, King Kong vs. Godzilla remains the most profitable Godzilla film in Japan.


    Mechagodzilla from the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

    First introduced in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, this robotic re-imagining of the green monster has made a number of appearances in subsequent films and is one of Godzilla’s most effective enemies, whose nearly indestructible “Space Titanium” outer shell and “Space Beam” laser has helped him win several battles.

    King Caesar

    King Caesar in a scene from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

    Also making his debut alongside Mechagodzilla, this unusual beast combines elements of a dog, lion, and reptilian flesh to create an ally that helped Godzilla defeat Mechagodzilla through his speed and fighting skills. Unfortunately, his corny costume is not one of his special abilities.


    Godzilla battles Hedorah the smog monster

    Also known as the smog monster in 1971’s Godzilla vs. Hedorah, this nasty creature got its name from the Japanese word hedoro, which can translate as slime or vomit, an appropriate name given that this extraterrestrial kaiju derives its powers from pollution and attacks its opponent by spewing damaging sludge.


    SpaceGodzilla in a scene from Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla

    Not to be outdone by Mechagodzilla, this alien doppelganger somehow managed to best its predecessor in sheer silliness thanks to the awkward crystals protruding from its shoulders and dubious “space powers” that helped to make 1994’s Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla a camp classic.

    Baby Zillas

    Baby Zillas from Roland Emmerich's 1998 adaptation of Godzilla

    Wait, Godzilla can procreate? And his/her babies look like Jurassic Park’s velociraptors on steroids? Though previous films had featured the monster’s offspring, Emmerich’s sequel-baiting ending to his 1998 film was more of a nail in the coffin for any moviegoer to take the film seriously. Here’s hoping that the 2014 film avoids such cheap gimmicks.


    May 16, 2014 • Filmmaking • Views: 3314

  • ‘Midnight Cowboy’ DP Screens ‘The Panic in Needle Park’

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    NYFA Cinematography Chair John Loughlin with Adam Holender

    This Tuesday, the New York Film Academy in Union Square welcomed cinematographer, Adam Holender. His most notable credit is Director of Photography on the 1969 classic, Midnight Cowboy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. Adam suggested we screen another classic from 1971, starring the then unknown Al Pacino. The Panic in Needle Park is a stark portrayal of life among a group of heroin addicts who hang out in New York City’s “Needle Park.” The film was a part of the early 1970’s cinéma-vérité. Adam’s use of hand-held cameras, real-life urban location, sounds and lack of traditional soundtrack set the tone for a new style of realism. According to Adam, the film was shot primarily on-location in forty-three days.

    Living mere blocks away from the main location of the film up on 71st and Broadway, Adam and his director, Jerry Schatzberg, spent months in New York City diligently preparing for production. “Pre-production is the most important part of the process,” said Adam.

    Coming up in a time when film was meant to be gritty and real, Adam admits digital filmmaking is the obvious wave of the future. “If people have something to say, it really doesn’t matter if it’s digital or film,” admitted Adam. Though, he does feel a certain loss of intimacy between the cinematographer and the actors’ performance when shooting digitally as opposed to 35mm.

    When asked by a student if he typically criticizes his films or often thinks about “going back and making changes,” Adam said, “Your work is really never finished. It’s only abandoned.” Wise words from a DP with a long and successful career in the industry.



    April 10, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5690