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  • “Blue World Order” Produced by NYFA Australia Instructor Timothy Maddocks

    NYFA Australia instructor Timothy Maddocks has taken the philosophy of learning by doing a step farther: teaching by example, continuing to not only remain active in his industry, expanding his impressive list of producing credits with a new feature and festival award wins. “Blue World Order,” which Maddocks produced, is causing a stir on the festival circuit, screening at the prestigious Madrid International Film Festival and sweeping awards elsewhere including:

    Winner, Best Narrative Feature; Film Invasion Los Angeles

    Winner, Audience Choice; Canberra International Film Festival

    Winner Best Feature; Mindfield Los Angeles

    Official Selection: Sci-Fi London, Madrid International (Nominated for Best Film), Burbank International, Phoenix Comic Con

    “Blue World Order” also co-stars fellow NYFA instructor Stephen Hunter, perhaps best known for his turn as Bombur in “The Hobbit” films. NYFA had a chance to catch up with Mr. Maddocks to hear some of his insights on producing high quality films for the festival circuits, and how his students can continue learning by doing out in the industry.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    TM: My road to producing and teaching has been a long one. It started with working shooting sports and community TV, then studying a diploma of film and television at TAFE. After my studies I used sports cameras to shoot several short films with friends where we all honed our skills. Some of the films were OK, but many of them were just lessons for us. After about 10 shorts we got together and shot a low budget feature film called “Sum of Existence” that we eventually sold to the National Nine Network. I thought that having made something we would be able to get funding more easily, but in the end it still took a number of years.

    One night, while showing one of the last of the short films at an event, I was approached by another director who had a film screening there, Marc Furmie, and we went for funding on a short and got it.

    “Death’s Requiem” was the first film to have a decent budget — twice what we had for “Sum of Existence,” and it opened doors to many other places. Through networking I met people who funded our first full budget feature, “Terminus.”

    Along the way, one of the people I had met was Hunter McMahon and after he saw “Terminus” he invited me to come and speak to the students at NYFA as a one-off. The students asked a lot of questions, and as it happened, NYFA was looking for a teacher for production — so I joined the school.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time as an instructor with us?

    TM: My favourite moment at NYFA came when I was working on my third feature, “Out of the Shadows,” and some students came on a field trip to assist with shooting pick-ups. I know the students got a lot out of that day and it felt good to give them real hands-on experience, because NYFA is all about the experience of making things, rather than just classroom learning.

    NYFA: As a producer, what do you look for in a project?

    TM: The script is the guide. Firstly, you have to be able to read it from cover to cover without wanting to put it down. Then, you think about genre, market, and how you can get it made. As I’ve grown, so have my tastes, and while I have been known for producing horror and thrillers, “Blue World Order” was a sci-fi and a great story to start with.

    NYFA: What inspired your film “Blue World Order,” which you produced?

    TM: “Blue World Order” was written by Ché Baker, and he is also a published author as Scott Baker. I read both his script and novel ,and saw the enormous potential in the world that he had created because, like all of the best sci-fi, it is only a small stretch from the world we live in — and that is what makes it easy to relate to. Ché had met me back in the sports days and reached out to get my opinion of the script. I gave him notes and he could see how they helped with the story. From then on, we started talking about how to make the film.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your experience producing the film? Were there any surprises along the way?

    TM: Producing the film was a great experience. We had the challenges that most face: limited time, budget, and resources, however Ché had really made a great start in that he had many of the people of Canberra on his side and they welcomed us with open arms. Ché had also worked on several films in crew roles and had made some good connections in both cast and crew. I had also worked with some great people. We set up the schedule so that the first couple of days on set had Bruce Spence starring as Whippet — a very dark character. Bruce brought him to life and that really sparked our crew.

    Many of the crew were Canberra locals with little or no on-set experience. In the middle of the shoot we had Jack Thompson come and that gave everyone a fresh injection. And partly because I was still closing the deal with the Department of Immigration, and also his agent, but the last few days were with Billy Zane. Ché had met Billy in the U.S. when he was working as an on-set driver and the two had hit it off. Billy came along and helped us finish the main block of shooting. As is often the case, there were pick-ups done later, but at the end of five weeks we had the makings of a film.

    NYFA: “Blue World Order” has swept quite a few film festival awards. What advice would you offer to students interested in producing quality films and competing at renowned festivals?

    TM: “Blue World Order” has picked up several awards, and so did “Death’s Requiem, The New Life,” and it is always the same reason: Because when we get an opportunity to make a film it is our job to pour everything into it.

    No one gives you the opportunity. You earn it. Ché knew that and he poured everything he had into “Blue World Order,” and his passion was infectious. Our crew were drawn from film students to other people who just wanted to give it a go. A few of us had worked together before, like Production Designer Merryn Schofield who had been in the art department on “Terminus,” but being the designer was a big break for her and she had a great group of locals who are inseparable friends today.

    The thing anyone who has made a film knows, is that making it is only half the battle — getting it out there is the next part. You have to send it to festivals, research which ones are appropriate, and push, push, push. That’s the only way that industry buyers are going to notice your film, and from there, the real audience can discover it.

    NYFA: The film co-stars fellow NYFA Instructor Stephen Hunter. Can you tell us how that collaboration came about?

    TM: During his time on “The Hobbit” movies where he worked with Andrew Lesnie as his on-set colourist, Ché had made friends with Stephen Hunter, who played Bombur. Stephen read an early draft and gave Ché feedback and really brought the humour to the script. All of the best films are collaborations: Everyone brings something to the table, and the best directors and producers are the ones who know how to bring those ideas to the fore and make the film better each time. Stephen was full of ideas and willing to get in there and give things a go. It was a great opportunity for him to step into a role that had a lot more going on for his character too.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in preparing you for your work on “Blue World Order”?

    TM: My time at NYFA was helpful in that every time I do anything I look for the learning experience in it. As someone who had come from sports and worked into film, I hadn’t really sat down and broken down the elements of what I do as a producer until I had to teach students.

    Teaching other people gives you structure, and structure is important when managing a large project like a feature film. As a teacher I always love the enthusiasm students bring, and the attitude is one of “just do it” and I encourage that, but then impart on students some of the lessons that I have learned along the way.

    You can spend just as much time and money making a terrible film as making a good one — the difference is in the planning.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on, or what’s next for “Blue World Order”?

    TM:  Since “Blue World Order” spent a long time in post-production because of the special effects involved in sci-fi, I was able to get on and make “Out of the Shadows” while Ché, as director/producer saw “Blue World Order” home. “Out of the Shadows” is also making its way into the world.

    I’ve also started working on IMAX documentaries and helped Jen Peedom on “Mountain,” which is releasing soon.

    “Blue World Order” is going through the screenings for the AACTA awards and has screened in Melbourne on Sept. 12, Sydney on the Sept. 16, and Brisbane on Sept. 19. Any AACTA members can head along and see the film and vote for it there.

    Then later in the year there are more screenings open to the public in Australia. It is being sold by Arclight worldwide and so we’ll have to see where they get traction for the release. If you’re a student who is curious, then sign up for updates here.

    NYFA: Is there anything I missed that you’d like to speak on?

    TM: I’d really just like to reinforce how important it is to be passionate about your career in film, as no one else is going to care as much as you. Every time you get an opportunity to work on a film in whatever role it is, if you give it your all, people will notice. Several cast and crew that I have worked with on small films have come on to larger ones, and usually in greater roles. I do it myself where I have helped people out and then found myself with work. NYFA students often have that passion and some of my students are already building careers for themselves. I really enjoy working with people who seize the opportunities and then go on to create more.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Timothy Maddocks for taking the time to share his experience producing “Blue World Order” with our community.

     

  • NYFA Broadcast Journalism Spring 2017 Graduation and Updates

    Congratulations to the Spring 2017 1-Year Broadcast Journalism students, who graduated last Friday! A distinctive, and talented, group if there ever was one. They came to NYFA from (starting on the left) the Philippines; Guatemala; Alaska; Spain; France; New Jersey; Queens, New York (via Nigeria), Queens and Croatia.

    Emilie Olsson is now working with Bonnier News in Stockholm, Sweden. When I asked her about the company, she wrote: “They also own Expressen and TV4. So I am a videoreporter at a magazine, web TV channel. Doing health, travel, food, cars and lifestyle.”
    Bruna Beloch spent the past weekend covering the massive Rock in Rio music festival. And by the smile on her face, I think she had a good time. It also seems to be something of a family tradition, as her grandmother covered an international song contest for Correio da Manhã (I think it’s a newspaper) 60 years ago…
    Last week, Kecia Gayle was out covering New York Fashion Week, which included attending the Laquan Smith Spring 2018 Collection Fashion Show. (That’s Kecia in the middle.)
    Finally, on a personal note, a big “thank you” to the Zhejiang University of Media and Communications, for the opportunity to participate in the dedication of their new film production center in historic Wuzhen, China last week. It was a fascinating day…
  • NYFA Photography Alumnus Wins Annual Rangefinder Contest

    For aspiring photographers, few moments are as exciting as finding the right venue for their work. In the case of NYFA alumni Rutvik Katuri, finding the right home for his work has happened more than once. His series”Holi Colors,” which had previously been published on the cover and as an editorial spread in the prestigious “Imirage” magazine while Katuri was still a student at the New York Film Academy, has just gone on to further success and found a home as the winner of the Rangefinder Photography Annual Contest, winning first place along with another of Katuri’s series, “Fashion Forward.”
    Rangefinder” (Rf) is more than an exciting contest. It is also an award-winning magazine, with a global audience of 111,000, and a digital imprint. In all iterations, “Rangefinder” focuses on weddings and portraits, but their annual contest offers rising photographers exposure and exciting cash prizes, providing a unique platform to expand their audience and forge new connections within the photography industry. Contest winners also receive the boon of having their work published in both the digital and print versions of “Rangefinder.”
    In addition to cash prizes, Katuri’s winning photos will be featured in the September issue of “Rangefinder,” in ’The Senior Issue’ on page 66-67, as well as being showcased at WPPI conference & Expo as well as in the online gallery. The digital version of the magazine can be seen here.
    Katuri’s same series will be featured in gallery exhibition at WPPI Conference & Expo 2018 that takes place in Las Vegas in the month of Febuary, as well as appearing as an official selection of Photoville 2017.
  • NYFA Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate With an Industry Pitch Fest

    Graduating New York Film Academy MFA and BFA screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held at the penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by astounding views of Los Angeles.

    The catered event provided mingling and networking opportunities for the students, executives, and faculty alike. It was a capstone evening celebrated the New York Film Academy’s graduating screenwriting students, offering them an outlet to jumpstart their careers by pitching their film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.

    These writing students spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting classes working with instructors Adam Finer, Doc Pedrolie, and David O’Leary, in conjunction with Faculty Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and other members of the Screenwriting Department, preparing and fine-tuning their pitches.

    The students’ hard work and dedication shined as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year. Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard to create, and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the school as the graduating students’ first night as professional screenwriters, the evening showed that this group of talented and creative students’ hard work has paid off, as they pitched agents, managers, studios, and digital, TV and film production company execs in a relaxed, round-table environment.

    Organized and hosted by Adam Finer, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including Blumhouse, ICM, Left Field Pictures, Madhouse Entertainment, Manifest Talent, Quadrant Pictures, Skydance, Studio71, This is Just a Test Productions, and Weed Road Pictures.

    NYFA wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA and BFA graduates!

    September 15, 2017 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 110

  • NYFA Gold Coast Celebrates Jan ’17 Acting for Film End of Year Screenings

    In early September 2017, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus held the January 2017 Acting for Film end of year screenings at Event Cinemas in Pacific Fair.

    As a part of the New York Film Academy Australia’s commitment to hands-on education, the event was a glamorous and festive occasion that allowed the students to share their hard work in class projects with an invited audience of friends and family along with teachers and classmates.

    The opportunity to celebrate their school accomplishments and experience a formal screening was not to be missed.

    “It has been a pleasure seeing the students of January 2017 grow and develop into wonderful actors, which was portrayed through their screening tonight,” said NYFA Australia Acting Chair Stuart Lumsden. “On behalf of all the staff and lecturers at the New York Film Academy, Gold Coast, we would like to give our sincerest congratulations for all you have achieved throughout the year.”

  • NYFA Los Angeles Students Attend Exclusive Premier of “American Assassin”

    On Tuesday, September 12 New York Film Academy Students were invited to a once-in-a-lifetime event: the world premiere of “American Assassin.”

    The screening was held at the famous TCL Chinese Theater. As the students approached the theater, the red carpet stretched out in front them, including the Hollywood Boulevard handprints and stars. 

    Walking past the long line of paparazzi, journalists, PR representatives and screaming fans, students approached the grand entrance. After the large laminate tickets were shown to doormen, the student took their seats at the front of the theater.

    Director Michael Cuesta and producers Aidan Elliott and Lorenzo di Bonaventura introduced the film. They thanked the the men and women of the U.S. covert services who protect the United States of America. They also congratulated the entire crew for helping them complete this project, which they had been working on for over 10 years.

    Stars Michael Keaton, Dylan O’Brien, Taylor Kitsch, and Shiva Negar were also in attendance. “American Assassin” is O’Brien’s first leading role in an action film, though the former MTV “Teen Wolf” star is also known for “The Maze Runner.” His turn as a grieving fiancé seeking revenge against the terrorist organizations who killed the love of his life will have fans seeing O’Brien in an entirely new light.

    During the screening, the crowd was very vocal about their appreciation of the film. They roared with laughter as Keaton used wit and a sharp tongue to eliminate a bad guy and cheered as the hero made a daring last-minute escape.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank CBS Films and Lionsgate for the incredible tickets. Go see “American Assassin” in theaters on Friday, September 15.  

    September 15, 2017 • Academic Programs, Entertainment News, Film School, Filmmaking, Producing • Views: 225

  • TIFF 2017 Highlights NYFA Alumni Film Work Including “Pahuna,” “Waru,” and “Decoy”

    The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a seminal event of the film industry’s calendar, and is in full swing this year from Sept. 7-17. Celebrities, filmmakers, producers, critics, and cinephiles travel to Toronto from around the world to screen and celebrate new films from rising names and established stars.

    This year, as part of its mission of “changing the way people see the world through film,” TIFF is screening a number of groundbreaking, buzz-worthy films — and a few were created by and with NYFA alumni.

    Pahuna: The Little Visitors

    Produced by global superstar Prayanka Chopras and her mother Dr. Madhu Chopra through their production company Purple Pebble Pictures, “Pahuna: the Little Visitors” has garnered a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in its Special Event category screening. NYFA filmmaking alumna Pragya Rathor partnered with the film’s first-time director, Paakhi Tyrewala of Bonfire Tales production company, to work on the shoot.

    Described as a “contemporary Indian version of Hansel and Gretel,” the film grants viewers a rare glimpse of Northeast India as it weaves a fable-like story of three children who are forced to flee their Nepalese village and become separated from their parents in the forest, adapting to survive together. Through this rarely seen portrayal of a typically voiceless region of India, the film brings larger issues such as children’s rights, racism and refugee crises to the global stage.

    “Waru”

    NYFA alumna Renae Maihi’s work in feature film “Waru” has made an paradigm-shifting international debut, screening at TIFF in its Discovery section as well as opening for 2017 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in October, which according to Screenz is the world’s largest platform for indigenous media.

    According to Stuff, the innovative feature contains eight separate narratives written and directed by nine different Maori women. New Zealand Film Commission told the magazine, “With ‘Waru,’ there has not been a narrative feature film helmed by a Māori woman since Merata Mita’s ‘Mauri’ in 1988. Having a film made by nine wahine Māori screening in Toronto feels like a positive step toward addressing this, with the opportunities the festival can provide for these filmmakers.”

    TIFF programmer Jane Schoettle praised the “Waru,” saying it’s “like nothing anybody has seen before.”

    “Decoy”

    Another exciting NYFA-TIFF connection comes via The Hollywood Reporter’s announcement that NYFA alumnus Allan Ungar will be at TIFF this year, working with 13 Films to shop new feature project “Decoy” to buyers.

    Heavy hitters including actors Andy Garcia, Frank Grillo and Tyler Posey and producers Andrew Gunn, Michael Bien, Henry Less, Sissy Federer, Tom North, Tannaz Anisi and Greg Schenz are already attached to the action projec. Director Allan Ungar wrote “Gridlocked,” which was acquired by Netflix.

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Works With Prayanka Chopra, Paakhi Tyrewala on TIFF’s “Pahuna: The Little Visitors”

    Produced by global superstar Prayanka Chopras and her mother Dr. Madhu Chopra through their production company Purple Pebble Pictures, “Pahuna: the Little Visitors” has garnered a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in its Special Event category screening, even winning a mention in Vogue India. NYFA filmmaking alumna Pragya Rathor partnered with the film’s first-time director, Paakhi Tyrewala of Bonfire Tales production company, to work on the shoot.

    Described as a “contemporary Indian version of Hansel and Gretel,” the film grants viewers a rare glimpse of Northeast India as it weaves a fable-like story of three children who are forced to flee their Nepalese village and become separated from their parents in the forest, adapting to survive together. Through this rarely seen portrayal of a typically voiceless region of India, the film brings larger issues such as children’s rights, racism and refugee crises to the global stage.

    The film’s director, Paakhi Tyrewala, told LiveMint, “When I started looking for producers for this film — I must have gone to nine or 10 producers before I came to Priyanka — they all rejected me. Four reasons: first, I was a first-time director. Second, I was a woman director. Third, I wanted to make the film in Sikkim [Province]… and fourth, it was a children’s film. When I came to Dr Madhu Chopra, I was so tired of being told no. So I told her upfront, I have these four problems. She started laughing, and she said, ‘For those reasons, I’ll do your film.’”

    NYFA Filmmaking Alumna Pragya Rathor

    From the red carpet at TIFF, The Indian Express quoted Priyanka Chopra as echoing the theme of overcoming obstacles and raising up unheard voices that has helped to make “Pahuna” a success: “It’s not easy – when you come into entertainment being a woman. You’ve got to pull your socks up for a fight.’”

    Filmed in the remote Indian province of Sakkim using unknown local talent and the local language, the film is a remarkable step in Prayanka Chopras’ venture to bring rarely seen stories and marginalized voices from India to the forefront of cinema. So far, her Purple Pebble Pictures has produced regional films in dialects including Bhojpuri, Marathi and Punjabi, with films planned in Bengali and Konkani.

  • NYFA and RED Digital Cinema Reveal RED Challenge Contest Winners

    After months of absolute suspense, New York Film Academy and RED Digital Cinema finally revealed the winners of their fierce competition. The Brazilian alumni pair, Leco Moura and Rodrigo Zan, took the stage for their clean sweep of awards at the wrap event hosted at RED Studios Hollywood on August 31.

    Moura took home the most coveted accolade of the festival, a brand new RED EPIC-W, an 8K professional digital cinema camera, as the Grand Prize for Best Cinematography for his outstanding work on “Jimbo.” Zan was the writer/director of the same heist short film, which could soon become his debut feature. From RED, he already got the jump-start: a three-week rental of a DSMC2 camera for winning the Filmmaker’s Prize.

    It was also a night to remember for Colombian alumnus Andres Hernandez. As the jack-of-all-trades in his dramedy “Monday” — script, directing, and photography — he won the Audience Award. His leading actor, Carlos Perez, accepted the prize on his behalf, for which Hernandez got a $1,500 REDucation voucher for an intensive professional camera workshop.

    The awards ceremony was the culmination of a blazing competition that started in late March, raising more than 130 submissions of the school’s one-year projects or thesis films shot entirely on RED cameras. Then, a NYFA Selection Committee led by the Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond, best known for his work on “Legally Blonde” and “Men of Honor,” carefully watched over 30 hours of film, picking the top 19.

    Those semi-finalists had the opportunity to participate in the Audience Award category while keeping in the run for the Cinematography and Filmmaker prizes. Eleven of them decided to give it a shot at the online voting. Andres Hernandez’s film “Monday” was the favorite of the public.

    In late July, RED narrowed the 19 semi-finalists to just five. Along with “Jimbo,” the top NYFA alumni films were the coming-of-age drama “The Farthest Apple From the Tree,” by director Elmo Kebour with Italian director of photography Andrea Gavazzi; the twisted fable “Feast,” led by a female pair, Kazakhstani writer/director Aizhan Tuganbayeva with French D.P. Julie Angelo; The U.S.A. was represented in the supernatural western “Revelation,” directed by John Willment-Knowles with Ruperto Sanchez as director of photography; and the sci-fi comedy “H.A.M.,” by writer/director Boise Esquerra with Spanish D.P. Julio Escames.

    The Wrap Event held at RED Studios Hollywood highlighted the five finalists and the audience favorite to a handpicked group of guests from the industry and the NYFA/RED Jury. That is the same room where David Fincher color-corrected “Gone Girl.” Formerly an MGM lot and then later the home of the famous Desilu Productions — run by Hollywood royalty supercouple Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball — the place preserves a piece of American film history. It was acquired by RED in the early 2000s, preventing the land from turning into high-rise condos.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank RED Digital Cinema for this consistent and fruitful partnership through several years, being instrumental in the mission of fostering a global new generation of talented and diverse filmmakers. NYFA would also like to congratulate all winners, finalists, and semi-finalists, wishing this competition serves them as a stepping stone in the visual storytelling arts journey to become industry leaders.

    Semi-finalists (in alphabetical order):

    • “Beyond Cornfield Street”
    • “Blue Bird”
    • “Brad Lee”
    • “Family”
    • “Feast” 
    • “H.A.M”
    • “Harmonica”
    • “Jimbo”
    • “Monday”
    • “Mutus”
    • “One Last Breath”
    • “Revelation”
    • “Rosetta’s Blues”
    • “Somewhere”
    • “The Farthest Apple from the Tree”
    • “The Hook”
    • “The Other Side”
    • “Twenty Years After”
    • “Visitors”

     

  • Special Screening of Netflix’s “Death Note” With NYFA Alumnus Jason Liles

    This September, New York Film Academy alumnus Jason Liles was the second guest for the Alumni Screenings taking place the first Thursday of every month. After a screening of Liles’ latest work, Netflix’s “Death Note,” there was a Q and A. The creature actor is playing the indomitable Ryuk, who was voiced by Willem Dafoe.

    This is Liles’ first major motion picture and his enthusiasm for the craft of acting was tangible. He even stayed late, past the school closing, to speak with students about how to break into the industry.

    Chair of Alumni Affairs Gabriela Egito and Chair of Animation Craig Caton hosted the evening. They kicked off with the question on everyone’s mind, “What was it like in the Ryuk costume?”

    The outfit is skin tight leather, covered in sharp quills, and topped with bold purple hair. The costume came with a lot of restrictions. For one thing, common set etiquette requires crew yell, “Points!” when walking around with tripods, c-stands, or any object that could potentially impale another person. A common joke when Liles arrived on set was to yell, “Quills!”

    According to Liles, the quills were the heaviest part of the costume, but not the most challenging part. “Death Note” was filmed over the summer in Toronto. This was not exactly ideal weather in which to be covered head to toe in tight black leather.

    One student asked, “How do you, as an actor, take care of your health when you’re in the suit?” Liles gave a lot of credit to the makeup and wardrobe team, who he lovingly called “Team Ryuk.” At one point, a cooling suit was implemented: a system of tubes that run underneath the costume. The idea is that ice-cold water can be shot through the tubes to cool the performer down without taking off the costume.

    Keeping on the costume is vital to the filmmaking process. When they first began filming it took about an hour and a half to turn Liles into the god-spirit Ryuk. Before the end of production, Team Ryuk was able to get the costume and makeup done in about 30 minutes, according to Liles. Unfortunately, the cooling suit only worked once for five minutes.

    So, Liles was forced to manage his body temperature. The crew was helpful, setting up a cooling tent which was an air-conditioned reprieve from the summer heat. Cold packs were occasionally inserted into the suit between takes to help bring his body temperature down, which could reach over a hundred degrees. But it was staying hydrated that was the most important part.

    Getting the right amount of water was tricky. Since taking on and putting on the suit was a complicated affair, Liles had to strike a balance between staying hydrated enough not to die, but not so hydrated that he has to use the restroom every 15 minutes.

    But the suit wasn’t the only thing the NYFA community wanted to know about. Many were curious about how an actor can project through big costumes and pounds of makeup. Liles said in order to prepare for Ryuk, he watched the anime series and read the manga created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. But this was just the jumping off point.

    David Bowie and Prince were both wanted to perform the role of Ryuk before they passed, and director Adam Wingard wanted to use these musical geniuses as inspiration for the characters movements.

    The audition was a simultaneously grueling and joyous process. See, the audition was a movement audition. The single camera was mounted with a wide-angle lens. The script described movements such as popping in and out of the scene in poofs of smoke. “At first I thought, this is impossible,” Liles said.

    But he persevered, experimenting with different animal movements and eventually landing on a snake. He used his height to control the space. Sometimes he’d be crouching or slithering across the floor and then he’d stand up, his lanky body creating this skeleton-like creature. Liles even wore an all black leotard, employing his brief training as a mime, hoping the dark clothing would help him look more like liquid.

    The casting director was so impressed she told him immediately that he had done a great job and that she hoped he would be cast. Even so, he wasn’t sure he’d land the role. He recalled he had been close to being cast as the titular “Krampus” a few years earlier.

    “I was always so close,” he said, but his agent assured him he earned the part. “He told me the only way I wasn’t going to get the part is if I turned it down.”

    Liles had quite a lot of wisdom to dispense. He encouraged students to, “…be the CEO of your life. I stopped waiting for somebody to do something.” He told stories of making international calls to Australia to figure out who was casting “Alien V. Predator” because he wanted to be a xenomorph, and walking into casting agents office in Canada and asking for a part.

    “I never thought I would do this,” he shared. But Liles wouldn’t let fear stop him from pursuing his goal. “Just try stuff,” he encouraged the students. “There’s only so much prep you can do. When you get on set everything is going to be changing.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Liles for taking the time to speak with our students. Watch Liles in the movie “Death Note” on Netflix, and performing with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “Rampage” as his best friend, an albino gorilla named George.