The New York Film Academy Industry Lab participated in the production of the fifth edition of the Platino Awards, which was celebrated April 29 at Riviera Maya and broadcast to more than 60 countries. The Platino Awards have quickly become the Oscars of the Spanish and Latin-American film industry.
The New York Film Academy team shot a comedy sketch written by and starring Eugenio Derbez (Overboard, How to Be a Latin Lover, Instructions Not Included), and Rob Schneider (Saturday Night Live, Grown Ups, Don´t Mess with the Zohan).
The premise of the sketch was built around the clichés that Latin artists face when crossing over into the American film and television industry. Based on Derbez’s recent success in hits such as Overboard and How to be a Latin Lover, this hilarious sketch focuses on Rob Schneider wanting to cross over to the Latin market and being asked to audition by Derbez for all sorts of stereotypical characters.
The sketch was directed by Spanish comedy director Miguel Cruz (Aída, CaigaQuienCaiga). Cruz is also a senior acting instructor for sitcoms and drama at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus.
The Industry Lab was proud to offer equipment and production services for this groundbreaking sketch. NYFA Cinematography alumni Mridul Sen and Filmmaking alumni Fady Elmankabady were able to work as Gaffer and AC, under the guidance of Spanish Director of Photography Jon Aguirresarobe, son of renowned cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe (ASC).
The Industry Lab is a production services entity of NYFA, offering equipment and crew support for professional productions. Our Industry Lab members have excelled in all aspects of production which enables them to acquire real world experiences.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Rob Schneider, Eugenio Derbez, the Platino Awards, and the students of Industry Lab for putting together such an incredible event and hilarious sketch.
New York Film Academy Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond recently hosted a special screening of his film Men of Honor for New York Film Academy students at the Los Angeles campus. Rather than a formal Q&A following the film, Richmond encouraged his students to join him in an intimate conversation.
Richmond is well known for his cinematography on beloved classics including The Sandlot, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Don’t Look Now, Legally Blond, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, yet Men of Honor has a special place in his heart because both of his sons worked on the crew with him.
Based on a true story, Men of Honor follows Navy diver Carl Brasher, the first Black man to become a U.S. Navy Master Diving Instructor. Extraordinarily, Brasher was able to passe the qualification test to become a master diving instructor with an amputated left leg. It’s an inspiring film that earned numerous award nominations.
About the film’s star, Cuba Gooding Jr., Richmond said, “He’s a wonderful actor and an even better man.”
Filming underwater presented a lot of fun cinematography challenges for Richmond. Some of the behind-the-scenes stories he shared with NYFA students included the creation of an eight-foot-deep pool to accommodate Richmond’s photography, and rigging Cuba Gooding Jr.’s diving helmet with lights.
Students were curious to hear how Richmond was able film underwater with such clarity. Richmond explained that finding a good lighting balance was the most important element.
“There’s a very fine line when filming underwater,” he said. “There were times during the filming process that I felt there just wasn’t enough silt in the water.”
In order to give the tank a realistic feeling of the ocean, silt, the fine sand found in ocean water, had to be added.
“You have to be careful when adding that stuff,” Richmond warned. “If you put too much silt in the tank it takes four days to filter it out.”
One student asked about the most challenging aspect of making the movie. Richmond didn’t hesitate to answer: the film’s final courtroom scene
The location was on the seventh floor of a beautiful old building, but because of its age Richmond couldn’t set up a lighting rig inside. Instead, everything had to be lit through the windows.
After an enlightening evening, Richmond’s final advice to his Cinematography students was about working with directors:”You have to remember that this is the director’s film. Before you’re called in for an interview, he or she has already been working for months if not years on it.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tony Richmond for taking the time to host Man of Honor and speak with our students.
To learn more about the Cinematography programs offered at the New York Film Academy, click here.
New York Film Academy would like to congratulate another class of graduating students.
The end of a program is always a bittersweet time, as our students and instructors develop a strong bond over the many intense hours spent learning, practicing, and crafting projects, but before the winter class of 2018 walked across the graduation stage to accept their diplomas, the New York Film Academy celebrated all the graduates’ work with a series of final pres
entations. The day before graduation, all students were given an opportunity to show off their work for family, friends, and entertainment professionals. Filmmaking, Documentary, Acting for Film and Cinematography students held their final screenings at the Riverside Theater and on the Warner Brothers Studios backlot. Photography students had their work displayed in galleries throughout Los Angeles. Game Design students held a game night where anyone in the school could play their games. Writing and Producing students had evenings where they could pitch their projects to industry professionals.
The winter 2018 graduation ceremony was held at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Hollywood. The graduating class of 2018 was so large the ceremony had to be broken into two parts. Both ceremonies were standing room only. Families and friends came from all over the world.
In his graduation speech, NYFA Instructor Mike Civille asked the students to think of their education as a gift. He said, “You come from places near and far. You have treated each other and your instructors to your fascinating stories. In this process, you have joined the great filmmakers who have also spoken to audiences about what was important to them. You have learned a new universal language. It’s young, only 100 years old. It crosses both political and cultural borders. This was the gift of the Lumiere brothers and it has traveled all the way to you. Use it wisely to tell your story.”
The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all of the incredible students who have completed their training here. We look forward to watching your films, playing your games, seeing your photographs, and celebrating your creative endeavors for years to come. Congratulations.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to congratulate cinematographer & recent graduate Manuel Velasquez (Spring ’16 MFA Cinematography) on signing with Pipeline Entertainment, a New York-based agency representing both above- and below-the-line talent.
Velasquez joins a roster that includes many notable producers, writers, directors, and cinematographers who are working at the highest levels of the industry. Pipeline has staffed their clients on shows including Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, Kick-Ass 2, and Dexter, among others.
Velasquez was pleased to sign with a prestigious agency so quickly after graduating. He believes the company signed him both on the strength of his reel, built largely from the NYFA projects that he shot as a student, and due to his positive attitude. Additionally, he built a diverse resume with many short film credits during his time in the MFA Cinematography program, giving him the experience to prepare him for professional sets. Velasquez’s cinematography credits include fellow NYFA alum Christian Bulich’s 64 Koufax, among many others:
Asked about his advice for current students who are looking forward to starting their careers, Velasquez noted that “finding an agent leads you to a lot of new possibilities, but finding a balance between art and business is key.”
For Velasquez, those new possibilities include being offered his first feature film as a director of photography. He has signed on to photograph An Essential Gift, directed by fellow NYFA alum Jose Mario Salas (Fall ’16 MA Film & Media). The film will star noted Costa Rican actors Viviana Calderon and Pablo Rodriguez, as well as Mauricio Hoffman and Norval Calvo in supporting roles. The project is currently scheduled for a four-week shoot in San Jose, Costa Rica.
NYFA MFA Cinematography grad Manuel Velasquez
Asked about the film, Manuel had this to say:
“Prepping to shoot my first feature film in a country that I have never visited is more than exciting. I am very moved by the story and fascinated about the attention that our production is getting in Costa Rica. There are very high expectations for us, and I love the challenge.”
We are proud to congratulate Manuel Velasquez on signing with the Pipeline agency, and locking his first feature film. We look forward to seeing this film, and more of his excellent work in the future.
To view some of Manuel’s reel and some of his recent work, please visit his website.
Following his recent write-up as one of the Rising Stars of Cinematography in American Cinematographer magazine, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Cinematography graduate Egor Povolotskiy returned to visit NYFA Los Angeles to present a feature film that he photographed.
Gold Dust is a feature-length adventure film about two treasure hunters searching for gold in the desert, who accidentally uncover a smuggling operation. Egor described it as a “family movie,” referring to both the story’s theme of friendship over material wealth, as well as the process of making the movie with a tight-knit crew that came to feel like a family by the end of the shoot.
Egor praised writer and director David Wall for the strong script and excellent performances in the film, and for creating an atmosphere of collaboration. Wall was also present for the screening, along with many members of the cast and crew who came out to participate in the NYFA Guest Speaker Series event.
Following the screening, Povolotskiy took part in a Q&A session moderated by Associate Chair of Cinematography Mike Williamson. He discussed some of the challenges of making this project on a low budget, and his desire to work quickly to maximize the time available on set. Povolotskiy offered praise for his crew, many of whom he first worked with during his time as a NYFA student, noting that he could not have achieved the look of the film without their hard work.
He offered advice to the Cinematography students in attendance, speaking about the importance of finding good crew members and trusting them to do their work without micro-management. He also discussed some of the technical challenges of the film, including his use of classic “day-for-night” techniques for the massive night exterior scenes in the desert.
When asking questions, many of the NYFA students in attendance raised topics like how to break into the business, what films have inspired him, and how to pick the best visual approach for a project. Povolotskiy answered their questions, and reminded the students that the cinematographer must create visuals that support the actors and the story, and not merely create pretty pictures. He discussed the importance of picking good projects with strong scripts, rather than looking for projects with big budgets.
Since graduating, Povolotskiy has photographed eight feature films, and continues to collaborate with fellow NYFA alumni — including many producers, directors, and crew members. His films have played festivals in many countries, and have won awards such as the Festival Trophy and Audience Award for Best Short Film. In addition to working as part of these successful teams, Povolotskiy himself has collected several nominations for his work as a cinematographer. He has two wins for Best Cinematography at the Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival and the WIND International Film festival. He has photographed major actors including Malcolm McDowell, Chris Hemsworth, Steven Bauer, and Eric Roberts.
Povolotskiy’s next feature film stars Taye Diggs, John Cusack and George Lopez.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Egor Povolotskiy, director David Wall, and the cast and crew of Gold Dust for sharing the evening with our student community.
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) has just completed its annual MFA Production Design and Cinematography Practicum, as a three-day production at the Laurel Canyon Stages.
Throughout the practicum, NYFA Instructor Anthony Cook stepped in to offer guidance and support as the students worked through the many problems that can arise on set. Color theory, storytelling, and layout were all discussed throughout the class. Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond oversaw the production.
“Production designers work hand in hand with the cinematographers,” Cook said. “Production Design is really another character in the film. It should be as carefully considered as the actors. It’s an unbelievably important component of crafting a good story.”
The New York Film Academy had created the Production Design Practicum for Cinematographers largely to help rising producers understand, through hands-on experience, the vital importance and intricacies of production design.
The three-day shoot took place at the Laurel Canyon Stages. The New York Film Academy has been working with the studio for several years.
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) released its original Gender Inequality in Film infographic in 2013. Now, following the TIME’S UP™ movement and actress Frances McDormand’s impassioned call at the 90th Academy Awards for the industry to embrace Inclusion Riders, NYFA’s updated Gender Inequality in Film infographic presents research on gender in film from 2007 to 2017, from more than 40 sources and scholarly studies.
“With all that’s happening in the film industry, the New York Film Academy hopes to contribute what we can to the conversation with this infographic. It can be used as a reference and an educational tool to raise further awareness and inspire leaders within the entertainment industry, and beyond,” explains NYFA Chair of Documentary Andrea Swift. “It is an accessible way to interact with key information to support the movement to reach 50/50 by 2020.”
Throughout Women’s History Month in March, NYFA will be highlighting different aspects of the data in this infographic as a four-part series. This is part one, and reveals the full, updated infographic. Stay tuned for more!
To further support the conversation around gender inequality in film, NYFA will also host events throughout Women’s History Month, with a focus on International Women’s Day on March 8. For more information, click here.
For additional content related to the conversation surrounding gender equality in film, check out these additional resources from the New York Film Academy:
This Women’s History Month, which also includes International Women’s Day on March 8, the New York Film Academy joins the conversation on gender inclusivity with an updated Gender Inequality in Film Infographic as well as a full slate of events across its campus locations.
From International Women’s Day industry panel events to film screenings and raffles, check out NYFA’s calendar of Women’s History Month activities, below, and join us on campus in Los Angeles, New York City, South Beach, and NYFA Australia, Gold Coast. And on social media, we’ll be shouting out to many of the Women of NYFA — alums who are doing incredible work in the community, in the entertainment industry, and beyond.
New York Film Academy Women’s History Month events will include:
MARCH 7 – Stand Up for Women Comedy Night
Lisa deLarios – Lisa has toured the country featuring for Zach Galifianakis, Paul F. Tompkins, Anthony Jeselnik, and Maria Bamford among others. She was showcased on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and has been a frequent guest on Doug Loves Movies.
Laura House – Laura is a headlining comedian who has performed on HBO, Comedy Central, NBC, and starred in MTV’s Austin Stories. She written on the Emmy-winning shows Mom and Samantha Who, BAFTA-winning Secret Lives of Boys, as well as Nicole Byer’s Loosely, Exactly, Nicole, The George Lopez Show, Mad Love, Blue Collar TV & more.
Jackie Kashian – Jackie is a comic whose new album, I Am Not The Hero Of This Story, was the #1 comedy album on iTunes and Amazon. She is in the 12th year of her podcast The Dark Forest and has a new podcast on the Nerdist Network called The Jackie and Laurie Show.
Jena Friedman – Jena is a comedian, writer, filmmaker and political satirist who recently appeared on Conan. Her Adult Swim special Soft Focus with Jena Friedman aired in February. She has been a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman.
Annie Lederman – Annie was the co-host of We Have Issues on E! and has been a cast member on Chelsea Lately, Girl Code, @midnight, and Impractical Jokers.
Kate Willett – Kate tours nationally and internationally, has been featured on Viceland’s Flophouse and Comedy Central’s This is Not Happening, and recently taped a Netflix special.
Vanessa Gonzalez – Vanessa was recently voted “Best Stand-up Comic” in the Austin Chronicle readers’ poll, and created and stars in the Mas Mejor web series Ms. Vanessa.
Jessica Sele– Jessica is a stand-up comedian who tours across the country, and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and SF Sketchfest. She was written about in HuffPost.
Ellington Wells – Ellington is a filmmaker and comedian who hosts the monthly stand-up show Blackberry Jam, and has worked on television shows such as Insecure, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Baskets.
March 8 – International Women’s Day: A Perspective on Women in Entertainment: Industry Panel Discussion
Dea Lawrence – CMO of Variety
Kelly Gilmore – Sr. VP Marketing at Warner Bros.
Barbara Bain – 3 time Emmy Winning Actress
Jeanette Collins – Producer/Writer: Big Love, Drop Dead Diva, Suddenly Susan
American Cinematographer magazine, the official publication of the American Society of Cinematographers, recently spotlighted the meteoric rise of New York Film Academy MFA Cinematography grad Egor Povolotskiy in it’s Rising Stars of Cinematography piece.
In an issue that also features ASC giants like the creative minds behind The Last Jedi, American Cinematographer highlights how Povolotskiy’s pathway to success in Los Angeles was paved in large part through his NYFA connections.
First, Povolotskiy points to his NYFA instructor and mentor Mike Williamson, and later to fellow NYFA alum and line producer Mariietta Volynska, who hired the cinematographer for his first project post-graduation, based on his NYFA thesis.
Since then, Povolotskiy has padded out his already impressive resume with three wins at the Rochester International and Voya Film Festivals plus another four nominations for his short film We Are Enemies.
Nowwith eight features and almost 60 short films under his belt, we had a chance to hear from Povolotskiy about his experience working on the riveting thriller, Gold Dust, and his own journey behind the lens.
NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?
EP: My journey starts back in Russia. I was at university getting my first master’s in artificial intelligence. Somewhere in the middle of my education, I started taking pictures of my friends and becoming interested in photography in general. I realized that AI was not that interesting for me anymore, and I started growing more as a photographer. (I still finished my masters though!)
During university, I was working as a photojournalist as well as a wedding and family photographer, shooting for Marriott Hotels in Moscow. I was also an official photographer of Russian Association of Motorcyclists. Bikers and their bikes were involved in film productions, and for me it was always magic to see how films were done. So the next time I saw them on set, I called the president of this association and asked him if I could stop by and take some pictures just for myself. It was a shoot of a son of one of the most famous directors in Russia, with the biggest production company. I ended up being hired as bts [behind-the-scenes photographer] after my first day on set.
After working for three years as bts and 2nd unit, the producer asked me one day if I wanted to DP a film. I refused, and told her that I would first get my education. … I had a sense of framing and lighting, but I didn’t know anything about being a DP at that time. Being a DP is not just framing and lighting. A DP is a storyteller, a head of a department, a set runner and problems solver — that’s became a definition of my job now.
When I was choosing a school I was really afraid to go overseas, but my wife supported me, saying that everything was going to be how I wanted. My parents also gave me big support. My DP friends recommended NYFA as a possible school — hands-on and not that expensive. I was choosing between London, Lodze (in Poland), and NYFA, and I choose NYFA in the end.
NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time as a NYFA student?
EP: As for favorite moments — I really don’t know, because it was great overall. … Every project I was shooting, I was trying to do better and bigger than my previous project. I still have warm feelings about NYFA and mention it where I can. I was also TA-ing sometimes between projects. By the time I graduated, a lot of people at NYFA knew me already. But I was still afraid of what would happen after school, how I was going to find a job. But right at two weeks after my graduation, I booked my first feature film as a DP!
NYFA: Can you tell us a bit more about your experience shooting Gold Dust?
EP: That was a fun experience. I went to an interview and I usually talk first, but here I was kind of shocked that the director took the initiative. He ask me, “What’s wrong with you Russians, you shoot so differently?” I really didn’t know what to answer. Later when we became friends he told me that he hired me because of the way I told him that I like to shoot fast. David Wall — a true director, in my understanding of what that means: great powerful leader, a captain of a ship. …
We were actually blessed to have a desert with its very different looks — breathtaking sunsets, rain, heat — we got everything taped. We got a great “family” film by the end.
NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your prep process before you start working on a film?
EP: I read the script as the “dumbest person,” meaning that everything should be clear for me. If I have any questions, there’s going to be a person [in the audience] who will ask the same question. Then, myself and the director talk about the story in general. … In most cases I’m able to tell what kind of film the director sees in his mind. I do a beat breakdown of a script, and we decide if the film needs to be stylized or not. Then I build visual arcs based on developing the character and style of the film. Usually I give a couple of options to the director, if he gives me freedom. I prefer collaboration over the projects were I have no creative influence — every film is a part of myself.
… I remember at NYFA we had some sort of test. If the director wanted a shot, but the producer was not giving him money, which side you will take? There are always two [out of three] things you have to choose: not expensive, good or fast. The secret is you can combine all three, actually!
Being a collaborator with understanding of storytelling is a great help for a director, if you’re fast. … You have to stay in the budget, and then the producer will always love you. Learning how to use visual tools (composition, lighting, movement, editing, color grading), how to be a leader, how to delegate to your crew and build a shooting process so the crew feel safe, comfortable, respectfully treated — it is huge work.
…Being a DP you’re learning not only about other people, but also about yourself.
At the New York Film Academy, we are big believers in the idea that understanding all different aspects filmmaking offers a huge advantage for aspiring artists — an advantage that can pave the way to all kinds of creative successes. NYFA Cinematography Conservatory grad Sapra (2009) is living proof that being able to approach the entertainment industry from multiple angles is sure to come in handy. The dynamic artist is many things — rapper, actor, director, producer, cinematographer — and now he has just dropped his own music video, Love Trumps Drugs.
Sapra took the time to catch up with the NYFA Blog to speak about his experience making his own music video, and what it’s like to forge a truly unique path as a multi hyphenate artist.
NYFA: First can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?
Sapra: I was born in New Delhi, India, and started playing instruments as a kid. I was auditioned for a theater show randomly when I was bunking a class and that got me a lead part in a big theater production. That started my acting career. I got a taste of what it feels like to be in front of 5,000 people at an early age and I got addicted to the fun of performing. I remember while all of my school friends were studying in seventh standard and I was touring with my high school all over India. So I got to skip the classes!
In college, I was a theater performer, emcee and an event manager. I had my own event management company called Beyond Exclamation. This was in my first year of college. After doing a lot of that, I wasn’t able to really reach out to millions of people, I was performing for thousands. So the yearning to learn film got me to NYFA. I started with studying film and cinematography, and then ventured into acting for film.
After graduating from NYFA, I directed and produced multiple music videos for other artists, and I also directed and acted in PSAs. NYFA gave me a kick start in Los Angeles
NYFA: Love Trumps Drugs is very polished, romantic, and high-energy music video. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired the music and the story?
Sapra: I see the youth involved in all kinds of substance and I also see adults fancying the use of marijuana. I had a personal encounter where female friends of mine would use marijuana and become delusional and act weird. I also saw a lot of my talented friends leaving back for their country get involved in things they should have stayed out of.
What I found common in all of them was abuse of such drugs. I saw people who were more talented than me giving up because the drug made them weaker. So I thought of an interesting way to entertain youth and suggest my thoughts. I am not being judgmental about the usage of marijuana in my video, however, I am suggesting a fact.
NYFA: What surprised you most during the music video shoot?
Sapra: The steady cam guy did not show up, so I had to find someone on the day of. I was the producer on this so it was a challenge juggling multiple things and keeping everyone happy.
What also surprised me was the amount of money and time one has to spend to make each frame look good. Also one has to be spontaneous for last-minute story changes.
NYFA: Were there any challenges in creating this music video, and how did you overcome them?
Sapra: Budget was a challenge. What we wanted was not cheap. Our financier backed out two days before the shoot, so I had to take out a loan. The rest was easy as I had a great team.
NYFA: What advice would you share with our NYFA students who want to produce their own music and music video?
Sapra: Los Angeles is a producer’s paradise — you can make anything happen here! You can work with the best of the best people and teams if you hang tight. The best part is that it doesn’t matter if you have money or not. What matters is whether you are ready to put in the work.
My agent, Jon of JS Represents, says Los Angeles is a one-way move. Once you are here, get financially stable first. Make this your home and keep on your career, and you will find yourself where you want to be. The industry will cast you when they are ready for you in their time. So hang tight and don’t give yourself a time limit.
NYFA: What is next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Sapra: I am looking for distribution for my next music video Coco, which is my favorite of all. I filmed it in Mammoth. I have produced the video and it’s directed by my decade-old friend AB Chandra.
I have two more videos in pre-production and a series I am casting for — and guess what? All this with no financial support from anyone!
NYFA taught me in the beginning: DIY (do it yourself). I have the best mentors and team in the world. I am the lead actor/rapper and producer in all the productions.
NYFA: Would you say your time at the New York Film Academy was at all useful for the work you are doing now?
Sapra: Yes, NYFA taught me a lot. They supported me after completion of my course. They had great follow up. Dan Mackler, Michael Pessah, and Kirill guided me throughout my stay at NYFA.
NYFA gave me a jump start and gave an overall understanding of Hollywood and filmmaking in general. Doing multiple projects and finding ways to make them happen without any resources is a part of the great training one can get from NYFA. You can be the best writer, actor, or director, but if you don’t consistently produce your content you may not be seen for years in the industry. That’s what NYFA taught me.
The New York Film Academy congratulates Sapra on his exciting music video launch. Check out Love Trumps Marijuana, Coco, and more from Sapra, coming soon!