• Matthew Jennison on Starting His Screenwriting Career from a ‘Wonder Woman’ Spec


    Matthew Jennison

    This past semester, screenwriter Matthew Jennison visited with our Business of Screenwriting students to regale his improbable story about how he literally sold his first project to Warner Bros.—without any representation whatsoever—before going on to become a rising film and TV writer.

    Jennison, who is six-foot-six, had at first considered being an actor when he originally moved to Los Angeles from Albuquerque. He recalled, “They told me I was too tall, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.” Jennison always loved storytelling, and soon he discovered that he wanted to explore different sides, including the writing side. So, he partnered up with actor/writer Brent Strickland, who he met in an acting class. They read some scripts and a few books, and they started writing projects together.

    The problem was they had no representation and didn’t really know how to get people to read them. They wanted to write something that would garner them some attention, maybe even based off something people knew… “Wonder Woman seemed like the perfect property and character to write a spec script about. Many people had tried to crack a Wonder Woman movie, but it had lingered in development, and it’d been a very long time since the TV series. She was powerful and alluring. We thought we’d give it a shot…”

    They figured if done right, it was a good way to get noticed, a good sample, by building a story around a character people knew. So they wrote their ‘Wonder Woman’ script, an ambitious take set against the backdrop of WWII. “At the time, doing a period comic book was a pretty novel idea and was one we were really excited by.”

    When it was done, Jennison got his friend Kristian Harloff (now of ‘Schmoes Know’ fame, then an assistant at Silver Pictures) to give it a read. “I knew Kristian from my time interning at Village Roadshow Pictures, and since he worked at the production company who was producing the real Wonder Woman movie, I figured, who better?”

    Harloff liked the script and it trickled up the chain fast, as everyone at Silver Pictures grew more and more excited about it. Then, the studio Warner Bros. got their hands on it, and they liked it too. “It was one of those Tuesday-to-Friday stories we rarely hear about anymore, where people read it at the start of the week and you have a deal by the close of the week. “It was crazy,” Jennison recalled.

    wonder woman

    With a studio deal under his belt, reps came calling and Jennison and Strickland signed with ICM and Underground Management. They began what’s known as ‘the water-bottle” tour, “This is where you meet a lot of people—execs and producers—in a short amount of time. Lots and lots of general meetings.”

    Universal was interested in adapting the graphic novel Villians from Viper Comics into a feature, and they hired the writing duo to adapt it with Sean Bailey’s Ideology producing. “What was great about this project, is we got to have some fun with a group of bad guys with super-powers and tell a story through the lens of someone who wants to learn the fine art of super-crime.”

    Jennison offered a variety of advice for the screenwriting students with adapting pre-existing properties. “The source material is never just what they want. They want your own unique spin on it. They want you to take it somewhere they haven’t thought of… But you as a writer also need to find your own emotional connection to the material, if you strip the fantasy and sci-fi away, what’s the story about for you on a primal human level?”

    Jennison warned that it can be a difficult business, especially when company politics that you have no control of play a role. “Companies merge or an executive leaves and projects linger. Outside forces are constantly altering the landscape of your projects, which is why you have to keep writing, keep coming up with new ideas.”

    Jennison also advised that writers get a day job in the business when they get out of school. One of Jennison’s first jobs was working for the comedy troupe Broken Lizard as an assistant to actor Kevin Heffernan on the movie Beerfest. “It was a great experience working on set and working for an actor. I learned a lot.”

    Jennison shared a few more nuggets, “Play ball. That’s an expression to remember as a writer. Always try and make it work and be collaborative,” Jennison advised. “It’s not for me.” That’s another expression you’ll hear a lot. It’s the soft pass and may be unfortunately all you get sometimes.”

    Joining a writer’s group and working with a writing partner who keeps you to deadlines were two other strategies Jennison suggested when starting out. Jennison now writes his projects himself but got his professional start with a partner.

    “And always remember ‘that was then’ with executives notes,” Jennison closed, “In other words, their opinions can change. What they thought a few months ago or even a week ago, may not be how they feel now. But you need to be flexible and adapt to their changes. And always be searching for where the notes are really coming from. Not the solutions, but the problems”.

    Matthew Jennison currently lives in Los Angeles and works as a Film and TV writer. He is currently developing a variety of TV and film projects around town and repped by Matt Bass at Chemical Imbalance.

    June 23, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1226

  • Actor Stephen Lang Visits NYFA for Q&A After Screening of “Beyond Glory”

    Stephen Lang

    Actor Stephen Lang

    On Thursday, June 18th students, many of whom were veterans, gathered in the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles Theater and were treated to a special early preview of the documentary, Beyond Glory, followed by a Q&A with actor Stephen Lang. In early May, Lang screened the film to NYFA students at the New York City campus where he joined Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program, and himself a Medal of Honor recipient.

    Beyond Glory is a blending of footage from Lang’s one-man show, cutting across multiple performance venues and incorporating original material shot for the film. In it, the seasoned actor interprets interviews with a number of Metal of Honor Recipients. The result is a moving journey through the experiences of those who have survived some of war’s harshest of circumstances.

    “Beyond Glory allows the voices of servicemen to be heard without the filter of the conventions of drama or the prerogatives of deadline-driven journalism. Its sobriety, simplicity and lack of histrionics are the show’s signal strengths.” — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times


    The discussion with Stephen Lang and Larry Brand was moderated by NYFA LA’s Veteran Outreach Coordinator, NYFA AFA Acting alumnus, and Navy Veteran Eric Brown.

    As a stage actor of great recognition, Stephen Lang has shaped a formidable career on and off the various stages of the United States and abroad. Though he is arguably most well-known for his acclaimed performance in James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), Lang began his career in theater. Broadway roles include his Tony-nominated performance as Lou in The Speed of Darkness, Happy in the Dustin Hoffman revival of Death of a Salesman, Colonel Jessep in A Few Good Men, and Mike Tallman alongside Quentin Tarantino and Marisa Tomei in Wait Until Dark. The film’s director, Larry Brand, was also on stage to answer questions. NYFA LA’s Veteran Outreach Coordinator, NYFA AFA Acting alumnus, and Navy Veteran Eric Brown moderated the discussion.

    The 100-seat theater was overflowing with attendees when Stephen Lang and Larry Brand took the stage to an uproar of applause. It was obvious that Lang was greatly appreciative of the warm reception. He talked with zeal about his experience performing for military and civilian crowds domestically and overseas for almost ten years now. He discussed the differences between performing with a cast of actors versus working in a solo show and jokingly said: “The good part of doing a solo show is I don’t have to rely on the other actor … but then again, the cast parties aren’t as fun!”

    stephen lang

    Stephen Lang, with director Larry Brand, discusses the acting techniques he utilized in “Beyond Glory.”

    There were many acting students in attendance who were curious about techniques Stephen Lang utilized in the film. Lang admitted that he spent most of his time shaping the performances in an audition room at the Actors Studio, which he affectionately calls his “home” in New York. Stephen never relies on one technique, but rather tries something different for each project. Sometimes he’ll find that an approach consistently serves him. The more experience he’s gained, the more basic his approach to acting has become.

    During the discussion, the similarities between an actor and a soldier were discussed. Both play a “role.” A soldier’s role includes his or her branch, job, rank, etc. while realizing elements of honor, integrity, and service. Through theater there is the opportunity for healing from the traumas of war, in which the soldier learns to tell his or her story instead of repressing the memory. This seems to be much of the idea behind Beyond Glory—humanizing the hero and helping us to imagine their incredible tales of selfishness and valor.

    “As a former US Marine, I thought both Stephen and Larry brought so much truth to the reality of each Medal of Honor Recipient’s experiences,” said Tyler Williams, a NYFA BFA acting student and a veteran. “The Medal of Honor is the pinnacle of one’s military career or existence while at the same time a pebble or ripple in the pond that is their life.”

    The New York Film Academy sincerely thanks Stephen Lang and Larry Brand for visiting the College and sharing their experience of creating this tremendous film and piece of American History with NYFA students.

    stephen lang

    Stephen Lang poses in a picture with NYFA veterans.

    To learn more about Beyond Glory, please CLICK HERE.

    June 23, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 1274

  • NYFA Hosts Special Event for Wounded Warriors

    wwp at nyfaAs a nationally accredited and degree granting college, the New York Film Academy has been privileged over the last few years to enroll hundreds of veteran students at our campuses in both New York City and Los Angeles. To further give back to our veteran and military community, the New York Film Academy in Battery Park held an event exclusive for veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project.

    The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured servicemembers, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

    The daylong event began with a speech from Colonel Jack Jacobs, NYFA’s Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program. Jacobs has served as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division, executive officer of an infantry battalion in the 7th Infantry Division, and commanded the 4th Battalion 10th Infantry in Panama. A member of the faculty of the US Military Academy, Colonel Jacobs taught international relations and comparative politics for three years, and he was a member of the faculty of the National War College in Washington, DC. He was in Vietnam twice, both times as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions, and he is among the most highly decorated soldiers from that era, having earned three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat decoration.

    Jacobs spoke in depth about the importance of veterans in Media and Film, and joined the Warriors for lunch after his inspirational speech. After that, the Warriors were given two truly hands-on workshops in both filmmaking and acting for film.

    “It was an honor and privilege doing this event for the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Director of Performing Arts Enrollment, Roger Del Pozo. “They did a fantastic job in the workshop, and they were very inspiring — it was an amazing experience.”

    wounded warriors

    An award-winning Top Military Friendly School, the New York Film Academy is dedicated to helping veterans achieve their educational and career goals. Many of NYFA programs are approved for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the New York Film Academy proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

    For more information about NYFA’s Veterans Benefits, Resources and Alumni, please visit

    June 16, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1531

  • Jamaican Novelist Roger Williams Sets Sights on Film

    roger williamsAlready with a successful novel under his belt, American-based Jamaican novelist, Roger Williams, came to the New York Film Academy to expand his creative writing abilities in the field of screenwriting. Williams’ book, Turn Back Blow, made him the first Jamaican author to advocate animal rights and bring awareness to animal cruelty. The novel was inspired by a real-life event where a dog was being used as bait to lure a crocodile in a Jamaican community. Since releasing the book, its become a part of the catalogue at Yale, Princeton and England’s Oxford University.

    Now, with his sights set on the film world, Williams is working on two screenplays that he began developing at NYFA. His first full-length screenplay is an action/drama called Murder For Sale, which he intends to shop to Jamaican producers.

    “The experience with NYFA was great,” said Williams. “I learned so much — things that I wouldn’t have learned from a book about screenplays. The knowledge from NYFA will be very valuable when it’s time for me to adapt my book into a screenplay.”

    In addition to his writing, Williams took an acting course at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. While there he wrote and acted in a short film called Redemption Irony. From there, he took his hand at directing while at a course at NYFA New York. His short was entitled Shutdown, and was well received, especially by women.

    “I never dreamed of working behind the camera, and working on Shutdown was a tremendous experience. The short has been receiving great feedback from women on Facebook and YouTube, because they can all relate to what is taking place in the scene.”

    On the whole, Williams hopes to not only entertain his audience with his work, but to educate them in the same way he did with his novel, Turn Back Blow. We look forward to seeing his adaptation, as well as his original material in the near future.

    June 11, 2015 • Acting, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1195

  • New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program Shines in ‘Chess’

    One of the many enticing aspects of being a student in New York Film Academy’s Musical Theatre School is the opportunity to perform in a MainStage musical production in New York City! Thus far, the program has put on two spectacular shows, including Spring Awakening and The Wedding Singer.

    Last month, Musical Theatre students, alumni and faculty put together another fantastic performance in the MainStage musical, Chess, which was held at the American Theatre of Actors. The show included 27 performers and 6 orchestra members.

    chess nyfa

    Chess is a pop opera that had its original broadway production in 1988, which included two NYFA Instructors, Rosemary Loar and Wysandria Woolsey. There was also a famous London concert of the show in 2009, starring Idina Menzel, Josh Groban and Adam Pascal.

    Though the production is not very often produced and includes some extremely difficult music, NYFA faculty members were not disappointed with the amazing singers and actors. Under the direction of Chad Larabee, choreography by Chad Austin and music direction by Joshua Zecher-Ross, the cast and crew put together NYFA’s third successful musical, and will now be preparing for a fourth.

    chess performance at nyfa

    “I am extremely proud of the hard work of our students and creative team,” said NYFA’s Creative Director of Musical Theatre, Kristy Cates. “Chess is a really difficult show and our singer/actors nailed every moment. As a producer, it was so exciting for me to watch our audience members — many of whom know nothing about the musical theatre program at NYFA — leave the theatre inspired and very impressed by the quality of the work. The Musical Theatre Department at NYFA is making an amazing name for itself, and that’s such an awesome thing to be a part of!”

    Our next MainStage show will also be at the American Theatre of Actors, November 20-22nd.

    Cast (in no specific order):
    Kylan Ross
    Emma McGlinchey
    Christopher Viljoen
    Malie Thekiso
    Paul Moore
    Rodrigo Carter
    Bruno Uribe
    Thomas Walsh
    Anthony Lalonde
    Felipe Carrasco
    Cullen Shirtz
    Will Van Moss
    CorBen Wright
    Charles Engelsgjerd (NYFA Alumnus)
    Jonina Bjort
    Melissa Gonzalez
    Kia Laitakari
    Myms Rouelle
    Akhia Andersson
    Emily Caroo
    Beatriz Cavalieri
    Stephanie Sequeira
    Katie Wright
    Kodi Lynn Milburn
    Alli Ryan Motley
    Yasmin Schancer
    Jessi Shannon

    Directed by Chad Larabee
    Music Director, Joshua Zecker-Ross
    Choreography by Chad Austin

    June 4, 2015 • Acting • Views: 1749

  • NYFA Australia Acting Chair and Alumnus Appear in ‘San Andreas’

    san andreas premiere

    One-Year Acting Grad, Nick Allen-Ducat and NYFA Australia, Gold Coast Chair of Acting, Brad McMurray                                                              picture by David Clark; Gold Coast Bulletin

    It’s no coincidence that the New York Film Academy Australia’s Gold Coast campus is situated on the backlot of Village Roadshow Studios adjacent to Warner Bros Movie World in Queensland, Australia.

    Similar to our Los Angeles campus, NYFA Gold Coast students have access to the movie studios, giving them a truly hands-on, real-world experience.

    Given the unparalleled access to the filmmaking community in Queensland, it came as no surprise to find two of our very own in front of the camera for the upcoming blockbuster film San Andreas, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Paul Giamatti. NYFA Australia, Gold Coast Chair of Acting, Brad McMurray and One-Year Acting Grad, Nick Allen-Ducat had roles in the film, and walked the red carpet at the Queensland premiere, which took place at the Roxy Theatre.


    pic by David Clark; Gold Coast Bulletin

    “Being on the backlot leaves it wide open to massive possibilities as many of our current and former students had on set experience as extras on San Andreas and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken,” said McMurray. “Having international blockbusters shooting on NYFA’s doorstep creates an industry pulse that is felt by all of the students at NYFA. This creates a hunger that will drive them into this vibrant exciting industry. In securing a role on something as big as San Andreas, it enables me to get in the room face to face with the students and share this valuable experience with them. The class experience then becomes a session of artistic osmosis where the students beliefs and expectations are ramped up ready for the industry.”

    In addition to Brad and Nick’s roles in the film, NYFA Australia filmmaking students were able to intern on the production of the film.

    Having filmed on the Coast, The Rock, who was in attendance at the premiere, had this to say about his experience: “I had the best time — amazing time — shooting the film on the Gold Coast.”

    Look for Brad, Nick, and The Rock in San Andreas, which opens in theaters today!

  • NYFA Grad Produces ‘5boys’ with All-Female Cast


    The New York Film Academy is proud to announce the New York City premiere of 5boys, an award-winning play by the Slovenian playwright Simona Semenič. Produced by NYFA Acting alumna Sandra Herlog, directed by NYFA Instructor Rico Rosetti and featuring an all-female, all-Swedish cast of former NYFA students!

    The female cast portrays the young male characters of Blaž, Vid, Krištof, Jurij and Denis, who initially meet up to play in an empty lot. The innocent games they create — superheroes, house, cowboys & Indians — slowly, and inadvertently, expose a deep-rooted legacy to the violence, misogyny, bigotry and homophobia in our modern world. Blending humor, physical action and an unflinching honesty, 5boys invites its audience to view the world as seen through the eyes of 10-11 year old boys.

    5boys cast

    Photos by Luis Alarcon – Edit by Ellinor Denkert – Poster by Ellinor Denkert and Sandra Herlog – Graphic Design by Linnea Larsdotter

    “Last summer while visiting a friend in Norway I came upon 5boys,” recalls Herlog. “Sometimes there’s those special pieces of art that linger, they effect you and they won’t let go, and that’s what 5boys did to me. It’s a brilliant and raw piece—daring, violent, comedic, honest—and it’s written for an all female cast, which is not exactly the most common thing. Realizing it’s never been up here in NYC there was no doubt about it, I had to make it happen. So I got in touch with the author, got the rights, and started the journey of putting things together.”

    While the performance is being held for 7 days, Herlog hopes for a second run and perhaps even a tour.

    Herlog appreciates her time at NYFA, and admits it was crucial in terms of producing this play. “The networking and the connections I made during my time as a student is what made 5boys become a reality. Rico Rosetti (director, mentor and the one helping me out with exactly everything) was my former teacher. The cast are alumni and current students. The photographer is a TA. The whole crew and everyone building sets is a former student or TA. Yes, 95% of the whole 5boys production is generated through NYFA, and all my questions and concerns have been solved through the contacts I’ve made there. I’m extremely grateful to have found these incredible people.”

    5boys runs May 12-17th at the Access Theater in New York City. Tickets are free of charge and available at

    May 13, 2015 • Acting, Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1108

  • NYFA Hosts Wounded Warrior Event with Guest Tom Sizemore


    The New York Film Academy had the unique opportunity to host injured service members and their families from the Wounded Warrior Project for a daylong event at its state-of-art Burbank facilities. The events featured a tour of the New York Film Academy’s campus, a filmmaking and acting workshop taught by the Film Academy’s esteemed faculty. In addition to the workshops, NYFA screened True Romance followed by a Q&A with award-winning actor Tom Sizemore. In addition to his role on True Romance, Sizemore has appeared in such films as Heat, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and more.

    The warriors and their families had the opportunity to participate in an acting or filmmaking workshop. Those interested in the acting were put in front of a camera, and directed by a NYFA instructor on simple scenes while learning the fundamentals of acting. Many of them shared personal stories, which applied to being emotionally available in their work. They learned essential tools of the industry and how to translate their life experiences within their craft.

    nyfa students

    Warriors interested in filmmaking learned about the aspects of a film set, the qualities that make a good director and employment in the film industry. They also had the opportunity for intensive hands-on experience working with state-of-the-art cameras and equipment. They were asked to work as a team to direct, operate cameras, act, and shoot a scene from an existing film.

    Tom Sizemore

    Actor Tom Sizemore at the New York Film Academy

    After the workshop, NYFA screened True Romance followed by a Q&A with award-winning actor Tom Sizemore. During the Q&A, Mr. Sizemore spoke to the more than 70 NYFA veterans and wounded warriors in attendance about his upbringing, the importance of his family, and military service as he has two brothers currently serving in the military. He was open and honest about his experiences as an actor, and the personal struggles he has endured throughout his career. Veterans in audience were able to ask Mr. Sizemore questions as well as those students attending classes at the New York and Australian campuses as it was live streamed. Mr. Sizemore stayed afterwards to take photos with many of the veterans and their families. They were extremely excited to meet him, and expressed their sincere gratitude for his attendance and his support shown to the veteran community.

    The New York Film Academy is appreciative of the Wounded Warrior Project and Tom Sizemore for collaborating on this event to support injured service members and their families.


    May 8, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 1429

  • 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 and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2030

  • NYFA Hosts Transmedia Panel with Final Draft

    transmedia panel

    On Thursday, April 9th, the New York Film Academy, in cooperation with Final Draft, hosted a “Life In Transmedia” Panel. The panel was arranged as part of NYFA’s Final Draft Fellowship, a 12 week Writing Fellowship for the finalists and winners of Final Draft’s Big Break Contest. The fellows were in attendance at the panel, as were NYFA students and alumni. The Panel, the first in a series, will soon be followed by a “Life In Television” Panel and a “Life In Features” Panel.

    The “Life In Transmedia” Panel, moderated by Adam Finer, NYFA’s Associate Chair of Screenwriting and architect of the school’s groundbreaking Transmedia track and Media Studies Program, explored the life of content creators, writers and producers in the new and expanding field of Transmedia. Also examined were the individual mediums that play a role in Transmedia, such as comics, videogames, podcasts, blogs, and webseries.

    nyfa transmedia

    Some notable words from the panel included:

    “Whatever your platform is: if it’s the web, if it’s comics…write every day. Even if you’re posting it, even if it’s garbage, just something, write something every day. And keep doing that and you will have something.” – Josh Eiserike


    “Transmedia, or multi-platform narratives, it’s telling a story in a way that asks the audience to lean in as opposed to just leaning back for the story. It’s asking the audience, hey, we’ve got a bigger world here. You don’t just have to watch it you can poke your head in and interact with it a little bit.” – Margaret Dunlap


    “I think transmedia takes you beyond ‘but’ and ‘so’ as solutions, and it’s much more ‘this happens, and then over here this other thing happens’. When you’re in transmedia, you want us to ask ‘what’s behind that door? What’s in that safe?’ …You want the fans to ask ‘what’s the combination to the the safe?’ And you want the fans to find out what’s in it.” – Nunzio DeFilippis


    Adam engaged the panelists in a spirited discussion of the avenues that led them to the Transmedia world. The panelists explored what makes a Transmedia project and debated the definition of Transmedia. Panelists ultimately defined Transmedia story telling as building story worlds that have unique story components in various different storytelling platforms. The panelists delved into the growing nature of Transmedia itself, how to build and engage an audience in various media forms, the virtues of each respective medium, and storytelling across all media. Panelists discussed the unique ability of Transmedia storytelling to truly engage an audience and even have the audience expand the story world.  A conversation about how to use crowd-funding to activate an audience to support a project examined how to access the community to finance projects and even a career.

    “You need to be able to embrace the chaos. You kind of have to hug it and expect it and if you’re not rattled by it then you can look at it as something kind of amazing. And really cool stuff happens.” – John Zuur Platten


    “I’m not sure you can always start out with a transmedia project. It’s really big and complicated and overwhelming. You have to start with the story you want to tell, the character you want to explore, a thing you want to do and figure out which is the best medium for it.” – Christina Weir


    “For everyone here there’s a pinpoint moment, maybe five, that lead down the road to whatever amazing thing they’re doing today.” – Jennie Josephson

    adam finer

    The Transmedia panelists (all of whom teach, or have guest lectured, at NYFA) included:

    • John Zuur Platten, writer/producer of video games (Google’s INGRESS, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, FEAR EFFECT) and co-author of the book THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO VIDEO GAME WRITING DESIGN
    • Jennie Josephson, producer, blogger, and podcaster (CBS Interactive, Yahoo!, Daily Tech News Show with Tom Merritt)
    • Margaret Dunlap, writer on the Emmy Award Winning webseries THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES, Executive Producer of the webseries WELCOME TO SANDITON, and writer on the TV series EUREKA and THE MIDDLEMAN
    • Josh Eiserike, writer/artist for MAD MAGAZINE, and the comics (ANYONE BUT VIRGINIA, ANNA AND PAT)
    • Nunzio DeFilippis (chair of the Screenwriting Department) & Christina Weir, writers of the comics X-MEN, BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL, BAD MEDICINE, FRENEMY OF THE STATE, as well as the TV series ARLISS and KIM POSSIBLE.

    At the end of the discussion, the audience was invited to ask questions, which ranged from how-to advice to specific questions about the writing work and preferred medium of each panelist. The ultimate message imparted was to find the medium that works best for the story you want to tell and go out and do it. Create. Write.

    Adam Finer left the audience with these final words of inspiration: “You guys can create content. You guys have access to an audience. You can steer the ship easily and not have to worry about having a giant battleship block you. You have the ability to create these worlds and engage that audience in a way we’ve never had before.”

    Led by DeFilippis, Finer and Weir, New York Film Academy’s Screenwriting Department offers a cutting edge Transmedia Track in the MFA and BFA Screenwriting Programs.

    May 1, 2015 • Acting • Views: 1008