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  • Oscar Winner Wally Pfister Talks Chris Nolan

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    Over 400 students signed up to attend Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister’s Q&A in after the screening of Inception for New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. The atmosphere in the room could only be described as a rock concert. And though Pfister was recovering from a bout of food poisoning, he wasn’t going to let down the auditorium full of excited students, who greeted him with cheers of “Wally! Wally!” He spoke about his long-time collaboration with Chris Nolan, saying, “Chris is an incredible storyteller and incredible screenwriter.”

    Following an interview with producer Tova Laiter and Cinematography Chair Michael Pessah, Pfister took questions directly from the students who lined up in what can only be described as a conga line to ask the master about his work. “You have to take risks,” he said. “That’s what will make your career last longer. You have to fight to get your vision on the screen (but not fight with your director).”

    Besides winning the Oscar for Inception in 2011, Wally also garnered Oscar nominations for The Dark KnightThe Prestige, and Batman Begins, and is well known for his work on Insomnia, The Italian Job, Moneyball, Memento, and The Dark Knight Rises.

    MFA Screenwriting student Jordan Farrester said, “It was great to be there with someone who has worked on some of the biggest films of the past ten years. He was really thoughtful and insightful, and had a lot to say about the industry and his vision.”

    Pfister’s latest project is his feature film directorial debut, Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp, and written by NYFA instructor Jack Paglen. The film is slated for release in 2014.

     

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    January 31, 2013 • Academic Programs, Cinematography, Guest Speakers • Views: 7167

  • NYFA Instructor Shooting for Disney on the Slopes

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    Award-winning cinematographer (and NYFA instructor) Suki Medencevic is currently shooting a highly-anticipated snowboarding film for Disney. Though details are quite hush-hush, we know there is some big-name talent attached to the project. Suki is teaming up with director Paul Hoen and shooting on location in Utah.

    Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Suki Medencevic has shot numerous features, documentaries, and commercials around the world, working with talent including Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal, Lauren Bacall, and Janet Leigh. He began teaching courses in cinematography at  New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus last year. As he says, “Being a teacher means that you have to be well informed about the latest in the camera art and technology. The most exciting thing about teaching is to be able to share my own knowledge with the students and make them understand the power of the visual storytelling.”

    After wrapping the film for Disney, Suki has two features in development that are scheduled to shoot later this year, with veteran actor Ed Begley Jr. attached.

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  • New York Film Academy Music Video Competition!

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    New York Film Academy is excited to announce a music video competition with Born Leaders Entertainment/Management artists Weston Coppola Cage, Christina Fulton, and Hassan Khaffaf. Students will compete for the chance to direct, shoot, and produce the singles for the artists’ upcoming singles.

    The competition is open to AFA, BFA, and MFA students in their second year, and alumni. Students will have the opportunity to meet the artists on Thursday, August 9 at 7 p.m. in the Welles room at the school’s Universal Studios campus. After the meet and greet, students will have a week to come up with their pitches for the music videos, and the winning concepts will be chosen by the artists.

    As the son of Nicolas Cage and Christina Fulton, actor and recording artist Weston Coppola Cage, carries on a rich artistic legacy. He released his first album with his band Eyes of Noctum, working with award-winning producer Jack Douglas, and top Swedish black metal producer Fredrik Nordstrom. He was asked to record a song for the major motion picture Drive Angry, and was asked back by the studio to record the monstrous evil voice in Ghost Rider. His much-anticipated solo album is due out at Christmas 2012, and will also star in the forthcoming film Sugar Rat in 2013.

    Shortly after coming to Hollywood, actress and recording artist Christina Fulton landed a part in Oliver Stone‘s critically acclaimed film, The Doors. Her portrayal of the enigmatic Nico launched an illustrious acting career that has included roles in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s DraculaBrian DePalma’s Snake EyesAbel Ferrara’s Dangerous Games and the award-winning independent film, Lucinda’s Spell. Her debut single, Thank You, premiered on MTV’s Jersey Shore earlier this year. She previewed her second single, Freeing My Mind, while opening for Lupe Fiasco, Rock Mafia, and Cobra Starship at Kodak Theater this year.

    Hassan Khaffaf is a Middle Eastern producer and recording artists, soaring off his successful world debut with last year’s number one song in Asia, co-produced by Kanye West. Now he is on his own journey to captivate the world with his unique production and extraordinary artistry.

    Today, Christina Fulton released a statement saying, “New York Film Academy has long been a respected and renowned institution for students seeking training in the creative arts, acting, film, and photography. For many years I’ve wished to collaborate with them and I am very excited by the uniqueness and promise of the program we have designed that combines the excellent training NYFA has long been known for with premier exposure of the student’s work and most importantly, an opportunity for them to work with established artists that can greatly assist in their fretful transition from school to real world that every student must face. What I, and the wonderful NYFA executives who’ve embraced my idea, have done is to combine training with opportunity.”

     

     

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    August 7, 2012 • Academic Programs, Cinematography, Film School, Filmmaking, Producing • Views: 4215

  • The Psychology of Learning Film

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    David Egozi was a college student visiting New York from his hometown of Miami, Florida. One weekend, he saw a magazine advertisement about a certain film school. As the son of a news broadcaster, David grew up surrounded by cameras and lighting. A chip off the block, as they say, since he visited the school and quickly transferred to the New York Film Academy. David’s transition from liberal arts to the technical training provided at NYFA seems to be a seamless one. The most important lesson he has learned here, however, is something beyond skill. “[Department Chair] Claude really pushes us. It’s persistence that matters. It’s commitment. Always giving 110% percent.”

    A remarkably thoughtful young man, David admitted to having difficulty structuring his thoughts. “My head’s always been cluttered. Filmmaking allows me to organize my ideas and my feelings and turn them into something tangible.” He pursued filmmaking after working on creating videos for bars and clubs who were trying to promote their parties. After beginning his studies, however, he understood that the making of art had more to do than marketing it to an audience. Studying narrative helped him to appreciate the internal process of thought and emotion.

    “We shot in Super 35mm. Not digital.” – Nicola Raggi

    Speaking to Nicola Raggi also reveals a filmmaking student who recounts a growing experience. Originally from Sienna University in Italy, Nicola felt his education wasn’t teaching him anything. After winning a Bernardo Bertolucci scholarship for the Cinematography program, he decided to take the plunge into New York City. “I learned more in one year [at NYFA] than I did in five years at Sienna,” he said. Learning both digital and film, Nicola feels his skillset is finally complete. Because of the hands-on nature of our curriculum, Nicola quickly realized “the harsh reality of filmmaking”. The hours of long and brutal. Tensions can run high. As he said, “You learn how to behave on set. Working with the cast and crew can be difficult without sleep or much food.”

    Nicola and David both learned to solve specific types of problems. They learned to adapt and improvise in response to unexpected situations. The ability to think creatively is highly desirable in today’s rapidly changing world. However, can we safely say that many of America’s classrooms focus on helping students develop as creative thinkers? Arts education teaches young people today to create and control. There is a fundamental difference between being consumers of the mainstream media and being producers able to share their creations in order to influence minds and shape how a society behaves. If the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement is any indication, today’s students are growing up in a socially connected world which is very different from previous generations. Modern times have increasingly deemed the exchange of information as pivotal to everyday life, however, educators now are recognizing that information is only useful when it is transformed into knowledge.

    What David learned from the technical knowledge and creative execution was the ability to develop his own ideas, test them, discover boundaries, experiment, receive input, and generate newer ideas based on the feedback he received. Students like Nicola learned to work under stress, collaboratively and creatively, for long periods of time. This is socio-emotional learning. There is evidence that social and emotional capacities are just as brain-based as mathematical and linguistic competencies. Education should have both pedagogic and systemic dimensions. It is statistically proven that the skill-set which socio-emotional education such as the arts can lead to higher standardized test scores. Schools should promote socio-emotional competencies because it is a holistic approach to comprehensively educating our young people. It provides the skill-set necessary to creatively address today’s problems. If anything, a creative curriculum empowers students to believe they’re equipped to do anything they truly believe in.

    After graduation, Nicola continued work as a cinematographer with his production company The Loading Lab. He is the Director of Photography for the commercial being produced by CenterLight Health System, which currently ranks among the nation’s leading resources for long term residential and community-based healthcare. This commercial, which is also directed by NYFA alumnus Dmytro Maliuga, will air in four different languages on local television stations. David is currently finishing up his studies and expressed confidence in his newfound ability. “My dad hired a film crew for his business recently. For casting, directing, editing… I was like, ‘Why?’ I can do it. All of it. I learned everything.”

    To learn more about our filmmaking programs, click here.

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    May 29, 2012 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 13915

  • From a Roman Garage to Successful Filmmaker

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    Luigi Benvisto was born in Varese, Italy with dreams of filmmaking and New York City. After discovering his passion while shooting short films on his digital camera, Luigi moved to Rome to try his luck in the Italian film industry. “For two years I lived in a garage with a bed and a bathroom, but kept shooting projects. One day I shot some casting videos for actors in a different way than usual; instead of recording just the actor saying the lines, I created a short movie where I was introducing the character and the actor was saying his lines. The actor wasn’t selected, but the producer called me saying that what I did was amazing and he gave me the possibility to direct and shoot the backstage of the feature movie they were shooting. I worked on set with actors like Valeria Golino, Alessandro Haber, Andy Garcia, and director Mario Monicelli. It was a very exciting experience. From there, I moved to Cinecittà where I discovered the New York Film Academy.”
    Luigi attended the 8 week film workshop summer program in Rome. After completing the course, Luigi was awarded a scholarship from famous director, Bernardo Bertolucci, to continue his NYFA education with a one year film-making program in New York City. “Not only does NYFA teach you how to become an expert in your field, it also shows you how to build relationships, friendships and industry collaborations. The program is intense, but I like it that way. It teaches you to work under stress and control the situation even when everything is going wrong – which is basically what happens on set in the real world.”
    Currently, Luigi balances his schedule between teaching at NYFA and working on set. Luigi just finished a feature thriller, which is being shopped around to distributors. He wanted to share the exciting cast with us, but was told to wait until the film acquires distribution. He recently started his own production company,  Jack Boar Pictures, which produced a documentary called The Paper House: Report. His next projects include a production in association with Lima Charlie Productions and a feature about the life of actor Mickey Rooney, that he will shoot in Minnesota at the end of the year.
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  • New York Film Academy Welcomes “Rocky” Director John G. Avildsen

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    Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen joined students at New York Film Academy for a Q&A following a screening of his film, Rocky. The excited students filled the theater to capacity, and cheered when the opening credits started rolling.

    john avildsenDuring his on-stage interview, Avildsen spoke about the film, saying, “When I first heard about it, I said, ‘Boxing is really dumb.’ But it’s a beautiful love story – a great character study. He’s a very engaging guy. The boxing is the background. It’s about a guy and a girl, and it’s a delightful story…. You have to have a great story.”

    He talked to students about his long career, and his films that helped launch the careers of Sylvester Stallone, Peter Boyle, and Susan Sarandon. He also gushed about working with Jack Lemmon on 1973’s Save the Tiger, for which Lemmon won the Academy Award.

    The energetic director offered up advice to his gathering of young filmmakers, saying, “The audience is very smart and they have nothing else to do but sit there an judge [your film]. Make sure you have your bases covered and make sure they believe it. When you do, they get their money’s worth.”

    When asked why he chose to become a filmmaker, Avildsen responded, “It’s not work. I’ve worked. I’ve been behind a desk and punched clocks. It’s make believe with all of these creative people. They hang lights up, and try to find strange little props. They’ll find you a great jacket, better than anything you could have thought of. People laugh, they cry, and respond to things, and it’s amazing.”

    Avildsen was extremely generous with his time, and stuck around after the event to sign autographs, pose for pictures, and give advice to eager students.

     

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    April 9, 2012 • Cinematography, Filmmaking • Views: 4782