Recently, New York Film Academy Australia filmmaking alumnus RK Musgrave returned to give a Q&A at the Gold Coast campus as a part of the Guest Speaker Series.
RK graduated from the Diploma of Filmmaking program in 2013 and has since become a working writer and director in Queensland.
He recently wrote, directed and produced the dark comedy theatre production “The Turn of Winston Haggle,” which ran for three nights at the Gold Coast Arts Centre Independent Season. Joining RK for the Gold Coast Q&A was one of the stars of the production, NYFA Gold Coast Acting Lecturer Dean Mayer.
Students at the Gold Coast campus were given an insight into how RK established a creative relationship with his actors and how he utilized this during rehearsals as they collaborated to develop the characters.
RK explained to the students, “It might be my script but it becomes everyone’s to a point. I’m leading the team, but if Dean comes to me with an idea we test it out to see if it works and if it does, great, we’ll use it … you can’t have an ego about what you’re doing.”
As an actor, Dean Mayer explained what makes a good director: “Good communication makes me strive as an actor. They have to know what they want and know how to communicate it to actors.”
RK also informed the students the importance of networking, as well as how it’s critical to establish long-lasting relationships with both filmmakers and actors. RK stated, “I was originally reluctant towards networking but I had to change my opinion. You’ve got to network. A lot of opportunities I’ve got is through the people I’ve gotten to know … now that I’m out in the industry, I’m meeting people and it’s important to build a team you want to constantly work and bounce ideas with … that’s what Steven Spielberg did, he works with the same people.”
RK further spoke about how he won the 2013 Script-To-Screen longline competition while he was studying at NYFA, which granted him free script coverage. RK was also the winner of the 2016 Australian Commercial Radio Awards for Best Written Commercial.
RK is currently developing a TV series and pitching to production companies Teddy Browne and Can’t Country. He also has written a 30-minute TV pilot that has been shot with Australia actor, Damian Garvey from “The Kettering Incident,” and is now in post-production with a view to pitching ABC later in the year.
May 2017 Acting Diploma student Joshua Mackenzie was enthusiastic about the Q&A event: “It was so amazing to hear about his process of rehearsal, working with actors and how to network and maintain working relationships with filmmakers. I learnt a lot.”
March 2017 Filmmaking Diploma student, Phillip Paton stated, “In one word … inspiring.”
NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick
NYFA Veteran alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick is on the road to success, joining the team at We Are The Mighty (WATM) after completing both is BFA in Filmmaking and MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy.
While serving with U.S. Marine Corps, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (Known as Dark Horse) as an FMF U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, Tim Kirkpatrick wrote his first script during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. Tim’s experiences in Afghanistan, and his passion for films, led him to pursue his passion of filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.
After returning stateside and transitioning out of the U.S. Navy, Tim pursued his education at the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) in Burbank CA. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Filmmaking and then completed his Master’s degree in Screenwriting, all at NYFA.
It was while Tim was enrolled at NYFA that he attended an employment and internship event hosted by NYFA’s Veterans Office, which featured the veterans organization We Are The Mighty (WATM).
Tim’s skill set matched the WATM mission, which is to engage and entertain America’s 114 million military, veterans and their families with original content, branded campaigns and experiential events across multi-channel platforms and distribution partners.
He was offered an internship with WATM. Tim succeeded as an intern and was eventually hired full-time. He is currently serving as the editorial coordinator for WATM, working underneath David Gale, WATM’s CEO. Mr. Gale was previously an executive at MTV Networks.
Tim is truly a Renaissance man. In addition to using his talents on behalf of We Are The Mighty, he also works as a military consultant, and has successfully written, produced, and directed several short films, music videos, and commercials.
NYFA photography alumna Sinem Yazici is no stranger to success. As her interview with Asli Pelit illustrates, Sinem was a successful ad agency director before the age of 30 in her homeland of Turkey. This alone is an impressive feat, not least of all because she’s a woman, but more impressive still is her decision to leave her profession and start from scratch as an aspiring photographer.
As a NYFA photography student in New York she was able to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion photographer, proving that it’s truly never too late to pursue your dreams. Her dedication to the craft has quickly made her one of the rising stars in men’s fashion photography and while she has changed careers, her determination and success remains unmuted.
She recently sat down with us to discuss her experience at NYFA, her passion for New York City and men’s fashion photography.
New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Sinem and wish her continued success in her endeavors.
Below you can find her full interview with Asli. Note: the views and opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the New York Film Academy.
Asli: New York is a difficult city to be successful or to live in. To be successful is even more difficult. To leave your life behind you and start over again and even start a totally new career, which is photography that you have never done before also as a woman, how did you decide to come to New York?
Sinem: Of course! I should tell you a little bit about my life before I answer this question. I was in the advertising business. For about 15 years I worked for a big international agency and two of the biggest companies in Turkey. When I became a director at my company I was 29. My goal had been to become a director before I turned 30 years old. After I reached my goal, I started asking myself, “Ok what is going to happen now? What is my next goal or target?” because I always set goals and targets for myself in life. When I started asking myself these questions I realized that I did not want to work in advertising anymore. I was so tired, and felt like I had been working for 30 years: never ending meetings, writing back and forth, working on the weekends. I remember that some days I was working 20 hours a day. At the time that I asked myself these questions, I already had an interest in art and photography. While I had never been the type of person to walk around with a camera everywhere I had been in the photo studio a lot and had worked with photographers because of my job in advertising. So I said to myself, “Why don’t I do this job? I would love to do this! What can I do about it?” One of my clients was a photographer. I called him my brother, Kerim Sandiman. I went to him and said “Kerim can you take me as an assistant to work for you? I don’t want money. I just want to learn what you are doing.” He said, “My dear Sinem, you have to take a class first.” So I said “ok,” and I started going to a class instructed by Muhammer Yatmaz, who is a photography teacher. I loved his classes and I had a great time. I completed two levels. I started taking pictures of my friends and family and I was enjoying it. I told myself I had to educate myself more about photography. I decided to go to NY because Advertising business was almost done for me. When I started doing this, I was up and down and I couldn’t decide what to do but I didn’t stay home and do nothing, I kept learning about photography. I came to NY and took a program at the New York Film Academy. The program was extremely fun and for years I had been dying to live in New York City. This period in my life was fun and I made a lot of good friends. I was stopping people in the street and telling them “ I am sorry, are you a model? Can I take your photograph?”
Asli: Yes, it is a classic NY story.
Sinem: I took a lot of pictures in NYC and then I went back to Turkey. I started working this time with Tamer Yilmaz, who is a professional photographer and my client. I started working as his assistant and editor. I got a chance to see the real fashion world when I worked with him. When I started taking pictures, I knew I wanted to be a fashion photographer, and mostly I wanted to photograph men’s fashion. My advertising background taught me to focus on one thing and do your best. I told myself that this was my goal, and I wanted to focus solely on being a photographer. I am really enjoying what I do. I worked one year with Tamer and slowly, slowly started missing NY and started wondering if I should go back. I decided to go back. It was a really tough decision but I told myself this, “If I do something really good in one year, I will give myself one more year, but if I cannot do anything, at the end of the year I will go back and continue my photography career in Turkey”. I came to NY on a tourist visa and I had to leave the country every six months. After the first six months, everything went very well. I realized that I had not done a portfolio because I was taking pictures of my friends and family. I started working with professional models, and while I was doing this I submitted everything that I had done and sent my photography everywhere. All of a sudden I started seeing my photos all around and set-up two or three photo shoots a week. That was unbelievable and I started to have a good network of models, agents, hair and makeup artists. I saw that everything was going very well and decided to do my own portfolio. When I did the portfolio, I decided to try to get an artist visa and I was able to get it two years ago. Now I am working legally, I have my clients, and everything is going well but NY is a tough city. There are always ups and downs. I have one more year and we will see after that.
Asli: When I look at your industry from the outside, men have all the good positions. Do think that women in this industry are behind men or are they equal?
Sinem: Openly, I cannot say that they are equal. There are a lot of successful women photographers but when I look at the top 10, 70 or 80% are male. As someone who wants to be in the men’s fashion photography business, I’m pushing my luck because the business is already male dominated. There are a lot of gay photographers in this business. As a woman photographer, I am trying to survive. Being a woman, I believe gives me an advantage. The feedback that I am getting from my models and agents is that there is a difference as to how a gay male photographer sees a male model and a woman photographer sees a male model. I believe this minor difference makes my work unique.
Asli: And this gives you an advantage.
Sinem: Yes, yes, yes.
Asli: Generally, when I look at the world and we talk about women’s rights, human rights and women doing two jobs at the same time – on one side they have a family, and at the same time try to have a career – do you think there is anything that has to change or do you believe that this idea gives women a chance at a higher position at work? Do you have any advice that you would give women?
Sinem: Clearly, until this time, I was able to accomplish this as a CEO, but I believe I got tired. That was the reason I stopped my career. When I look at successful women’s lives as a CEO or Executive level, they have a great family life. This shows how strong we are already. You are a mom at home but you are a CEO or boss at work. When I search their personality, the successful ones always listen to their brain, not their heart. We, as women are very emotional and when we leave the emotions on the side we become equal with men. Men do not work with their emotions. I experienced this 15 years and the last six or seven years, I experienced it a different way. I believe that if women leave their emotion on the side there is nothing that can stop them. They can do anything. That is the only advice I can give. Other than that, we are already strong and powerful.
Asli: I know that two years will go by quickly, but I hope that you stay here longer and continue your career here. What is your goal now in your career?
Sinem: Hmm, I want to be in the top ten. You know, there is the top ten in the world. There is already a Turkish photographer in this top ten, Mert. I am very proud of him, he is my idol. I hope to reach his level. This is a big dream for me. If I do reach his level, I will be the happiest person in the world. Even if I cannot, I would be very proud if people are discussing the work of a woman Turkish photographer. I don’t want this just for myself, I want to represent my country. We have a lot of problems in Turkey right now and when people hear this type of story they get happy. This would be my other goal if I cannot be very famous. This is my plan for the next couple of years. I don’t know what I am going to do after that, we will see.
St. James Place, a historical spy thriller, has quite the pedigree background behind it. Steven Spielberg will be directing a screenplay by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers. Its cast includes Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, and frequent Spielberg collaborator Tom Hanks. Also included in the cast is Eve Hewson, 23, a rising star from Ireland who also happens to be the daughter of music legend Bono.
Hewson studied acting at the New York Film Academy in 2005 and has since found roles in music videos, thrillers and romantic comedies. She currently co-stars with Clive Owen in the Cinemax medical drama The Knick.
Spielberg’s hotly-anticipated film takes place in 1960 and stars Hanks as real-life lawyer James Donovan. Donovan was tasked with negotiating the release of a pilot shot down in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Filming commenced last Fall in Hewson’s current hometown—Brooklyn, New York. Ironically, the plane shot down in both real life and in the movie was a U-2 spy plane, U-2 inspiring the name of Hewson’s father’s legendary rock band.
Dream of co-starring with Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg film one day? Check out New York Film Academy’s acting school program today!
One of the more proactive ways to raise funds and gain support for your feature film is to create a short or trailer to give producers and investors of an idea of what they’re getting into. Such is the case with one of our recent One Year MFA Filmmaking students from Syria, Urwa Al Hallak. His sci-fi short, The Paradigm, was his thesis graduation film that he hopes to soon turn into a feature.
“New York Film Academy gave me a lot of important tools that I needed to create this trailer,” says Al Hallak. “If you think about it, it has a three act structure, and many of the filmmaking techniques that I learned at NYFA, such as coverage and blocking.”
While Urwa has a treatment prepared for the feature, he’s leaving the actual screenplay slightly flexible, depending on the producing he team he builds around the project. He hopes to eventually produce the feature as a three part trilogy with a video game release as well. Truly ambitious goals!
Be sure to check out this very impressive trailer that Urwa created.
Within two months of graduating from New York Film Academy’s One-Year Acting for Film Conservatory, Mia Ella Jordan was cast in the feature film, Basketball Girlfriend, which is now available to rent on RedBox. She was also in Jez Dior’s music video, Who Drank My Whiskey, which, at one point in time earlier this year, was the #1 song trending on Twitter. Aside from those two projects, she was the lead actress in the short, I-589, which premiered at the LA Indie Film Festival.
Hailing from Santiago de Chile, Mia had originally auditioned with Basketball Girlfriend director Jean-Claude La Marre for another project and, some time later, he called her in to audition for the role of Jenny and cast her that day. This is fairly common in the industry, so don’t get too discouraged when you don’t land the initial audition. Maintain strong relationships with directors and casting directors.
Mia had been working in theatre for quite a while and while she loved it, her heart was in film. After attending an international school fair in Santiago, she was drawn to NYFA. Mia felt the Acting for Film courses were the perfect compliment to her previous acting training in theatre.
“The Meisner technique has been the most useful to me in terms of auditioning and being on-set,” said Mia. “I’ve heard from a lot of actors and even some agents that Meisner doesn’t help in auditions, but to me listening is everything because it sustains my being in the present and so it instills me in my truth.”
Mia eventually hopes to reach a point in her career where she can choose specific roles that truly resonate with her. As an actress, she believes she has a wonderful responsibility with the audience and wants to honor it by creating and being a part of projects that truly inspire and make a difference.
Recently, Mia finished acting in another music video for Jez Dior’s single, Clean Me Up. She’s also finishing up filming a short film, I Forgot You Were Here, where she plays a blind woman in a troubled relationship. “I love it because it’s not moral and I believe art never should be,” she says.
Check out Mia Ella Jordan in Jez Dior’s Who Drank My Whiskey.
Paquita Hughes, who completed the One-Year Filmmaking and Photography programs at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, was recently hired at Imaginary Forces, a creative studio and production company that focuses on major film and TV productions.
“I was one of 15 veterans selected to interview for 8 companies through the AICP (Association of Independent & Commercial Producers),” said Hughes. “We each had five minutes to pass our resume to the company representatives and give our 30 second commercial. I was the only veteran hired ON THE SPOT, in less than five minutes, as an Associate Producer for the company Imaginary Forces.”
Founded in 1996, Imaginary Forces is a creative studio and full service production company specializing in creating and developing content for commercial advertising, digital and interactive platforms, feature films and film marketing, television, architectural spaces and global brands.
Their body of award winning work includes the EMMY winning main titles for Mad Men, as well as the celebrated opening sequences for Boardwalk Empire, The Pacific and Nurse Jackie.
The production company has created hundreds of main titles and content for films like Transformers, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 500 Days Of Summer, Terminator Salvation, Seven, and Minority Report.
In the commercial world, Imaginary Forces has directed and produced spots for Pepsi, Microsoft, Scion, Chrysler and Google through agencies like ATTIK, JWT, TBWA\Chiat\Day, and The Richards Group. They have also created brand identity for networks such as USA Network, Lifetime, Discovery and Hallmark Channel, and experience design for MoMA, Lincoln Center, The Oscars and Victoria’s Secret.
Imaginary Forces is comprised of over 70 artists and creative professionals: directors, designers, writers, animators, editors, and producers. Their studios are located in both Los Angeles and New York City.
Not only that, Paquita’s short film about sexual assault in the military (all female crew) titled Breaking The Silence, which she directed for the 48hr Film Contest last year, was selected for the GI Film Festival in Washington, DC!
Director Marko Nabersnik attended an 8-week Film Workshop at New York Film Academy in 1996. His first film, Rooster’s Breakfast, won numerous national awards and became the biggest box office hit of the year in his native Slovenia. The film won the CBS Critics Award at the Southeast European Film Festival in Los Angeles and was also the official entry from Slovenia for the Academy Awards. He recently completed his second feature film, Shanghai Gypsy, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Market.
“My childhood dream was to be a filmmaker,” says Marko. “I read an article about NYFA in Cinema, the German film magazine. Two months later I flew to New York. This was [before] the internet, so the best way to get real information on the NYFA was to board a plane, cross the Atlantic, and go there to learn first-hand. After my first day, I knew already that NYFA was something special.”
“Surrounded by the inspiration and atmosphere of New York City,” he continues, “You pick up direct knowledge of filmmaking from prominent professors and guests within the film industry. The study process was intense. There were students all over the world. In my class alone, I interacted with future filmmakers from Italy, Spain, Japan, Germany, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We helped each other, explored the beauty of storytelling, and shared experiences about the unpredictability of shooting on original locations.”
“When I came back to Slovenia from New York, I was determined that filmmaking would be my destiny. Whenever I found myself in the dilemma of choosing the next step for my filmmaking, I would remember a quote from Adam Stoner, our directing class professor: ‘Filmmaking is constant exploring and learning. Don’t forget the fun and passion which is hidden in that process and don’t get lost only because you have more questions than answers!’ Today I am a professional filmmaker and a professor. I teach at our national film academy, the Academy for Theater, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. I still recall the time I spent at NYFA and the endless inspiration the Academy gave me. NYFA gives you knowledge and builds your self-confidence.”
David Egozi was a college student visiting New York from his hometown of Miami, Florida. One weekend, he saw a magazine advertisement about a certain film school. As the son of a news broadcaster, David grew up surrounded by cameras and lighting. A chip off the block, as they say, since he visited the school and quickly transferred to the New York Film Academy. David’s transition from liberal arts to the technical training provided at NYFA seems to be a seamless one. The most important lesson he has learned here, however, is something beyond skill. “[Department Chair] Claude really pushes us. It’s persistence that matters. It’s commitment. Always giving 110% percent.”
A remarkably thoughtful young man, David admitted to having difficulty structuring his thoughts. “My head’s always been cluttered. Filmmaking allows me to organize my ideas and my feelings and turn them into something tangible.” He pursued filmmaking after working on creating videos for bars and clubs who were trying to promote their parties. After beginning his studies, however, he understood that the making of art had more to do than marketing it to an audience. Studying narrative helped him to appreciate the internal process of thought and emotion.
“We shot in Super 35mm. Not digital.” – Nicola Raggi
Speaking to Nicola Raggi also reveals a filmmaking student who recounts a growing experience. Originally from Sienna University in Italy, Nicola felt his education wasn’t teaching him anything. After winning a Bernardo Bertolucci scholarship for the Cinematography program, he decided to take the plunge into New York City. “I learned more in one year [at NYFA] than I did in five years at Sienna,” he said. Learning both digital and film, Nicola feels his skillset is finally complete. Because of the hands-on nature of our curriculum, Nicola quickly realized “the harsh reality of filmmaking”. The hours of long and brutal. Tensions can run high. As he said, “You learn how to behave on set. Working with the cast and crew can be difficult without sleep or much food.”
Nicola and David both learned to solve specific types of problems. They learned to adapt and improvise in response to unexpected situations. The ability to think creatively is highly desirable in today’s rapidly changing world. However, can we safely say that many of America’s classrooms focus on helping students develop as creative thinkers? Arts education teaches young people today to create and control. There is a fundamental difference between being consumers of the mainstream media and being producers able to share their creations in order to influence minds and shape how a society behaves. If the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement is any indication, today’s students are growing up in a socially connected world which is very different from previous generations. Modern times have increasingly deemed the exchange of information as pivotal to everyday life, however, educators now are recognizing that information is only useful when it is transformed into knowledge.
What David learned from the technical knowledge and creative execution was the ability to develop his own ideas, test them, discover boundaries, experiment, receive input, and generate newer ideas based on the feedback he received. Students like Nicola learned to work under stress, collaboratively and creatively, for long periods of time. This is socio-emotional learning. There is evidence that social and emotional capacities are just as brain-based as mathematical and linguistic competencies. Education should have both pedagogic and systemic dimensions. It is statistically proven that the skill-set which socio-emotional education such as the arts can lead to higher standardized test scores. Schools should promote socio-emotional competencies because it is a holistic approach to comprehensively educating our young people. It provides the skill-set necessary to creatively address today’s problems. If anything, a creative curriculum empowers students to believe they’re equipped to do anything they truly believe in.
After graduation, Nicola continued work as a cinematographer with his production company The Loading Lab. He is the Director of Photography for the commercial being produced by CenterLight Health System, which currently ranks among the nation’s leading resources for long term residential and community-based healthcare. This commercial, which is also directed by NYFA alumnus Dmytro Maliuga, will air in four different languages on local television stations. David is currently finishing up his studies and expressed confidence in his newfound ability. “My dad hired a film crew for his business recently. For casting, directing, editing… I was like, ‘Why?’ I can do it. All of it. I learned everything.”
To learn more about our filmmaking programs, click here.
Actress Aubrey Plaza has hit it big since taking a New York Film Academy High School Hands-On Summer Workshop. In the past three months, Aubrey has been a featured guest (with hilarious interviews) on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Lopez Tonight with George Lopez. Her list of costars has grown to include Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman. Aubrey is currently filming Safety Not Guaranteed with Kristen Bell and has signed on to film The Hand Job with Christopher Mintz-Plasse (more commonly known as “McLovin” from Superbad) and Andy Samberg (of SNL favorite’s comedy troupe the Lonely Island).
Aubrey Plaza stars on NBC’s Parks and Recreation with SNL star Amy Poehler
So what makes this NYFA graduate a star? Jarrett Wieselman of New York Post comments, “Aubrey isn’t a bubbly, gum-chewing 20-something who tacks a giggle on the end of her sentences and dots her I’s with hearts. She’s smart, dry and totally sarcastic…Aubrey is one of the most disarmingly hilarious people I’ve ever had the chance to interview.”
Aubrey Plaza stars as Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Aubrey stars as April Ludgate on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, recognized as one of the top ten TV shows in TIME, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and People Magazine. Her feature film career includes playing Seth Rogen’s love interest in Funny People and Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This May, Aubrey beat actresses Christina Ricci, Ellen Page, Janeane Garofalo, Liz Lee, Zooey Deschanel, and Thora Birch in a MTV poll of who viewers would hope to be cast as Daria in a live action movie. So what comes next for Aubrey Plaza? Follow nyfa on twitter @nyfa for the latest updates.