On Box Office Success: Brett Ratner at NY Film Academy

Brett Ratner

Brett Ratner

New York Film Academy students and alumni packed the room to capacity on the Tuesday, January 24th talk with prolific filmmaker Brett Ratner, director of films Rush Hour 1, 2, & 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand. “How many people are at this school?” Brett joked as more students poured in, grabbing floor seats and standing room only space.

Madonna “A Beautiful Stranger” video directed by Brett Ratner

Brett started the event by screening his student films, providing hilarious commentary on the trepidation of the actors to kiss, the out of focus shots and the many overexposures. Brett advised students you have to start somewhere as he continued through his body of work, explaining the evolution of how he got better (Brett’s films have grossed over 1.3 billion dollars). Some of his key points to success:

  • Filmmaking is about persistence, not just talent. If you need more practice, work harder. If your films aren’t as good as your classmates, make more of them.
  • Realize what you are good at it and find people to fill in the gaps. If cinematography isn’t your strength, bring on a DP.
  • Learn to get the best out of your cast and crew.
  • Maintain good mentor relationships with people whom you admire and respect.
  • Be convinced of your own worth. People will doubt you. Be fearless.
  • Don’t make films just for a few people. It is the film business. Make sure your films are for a large audience.

The room was captivated by the time Brett talked about getting started in music videos, including working with Public Enemy and Madonna. Tweeted @ErickaPeace from the event:


One of the most touching moments came when Brett talked about the importance of mentors. Brett pulled up one of his personal mentors, James Toback, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Bugsy, onto the stage. Brett explained that you need to find people in the industry you trust who want to see you succeed and are willing to have a conversation with you about your work.

The event concluded with a Q&A where students had the opportunity to ask questions. Many New York Film Academy fans also tweeted their questions in advance to @nyfa using hashtag #nyfa. Congratulations to the winner of our tweet up contest @ErickaPeace who will be receiving an autographed Brett Ratner DVD!

New York Film Academy looks forward to our upcoming February 1st LA guest speaker, Producer David T. Friendly (Little Miss Sunshine, My Girl) and February 3rd New York guest speaker, Casting Director Amy Gossels, who cast the Student Academy Award Winning film Zen and the Art of Landscaping.

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Published on: January 26, 2012

Filled Under: Acting

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