Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development Barbara Weintraub held a Social Media Networking Night at NYFA Los Angeles in late July. Over 220 students from the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus attended the event held in the Riverside Building.
The lobby was filled with film companies like Film Independent and New Filmmakers LA. They were there to share opportunities for students, membership experiences, and career paths.
A color-coded system helped students get in touch with other students. Small dots on name tags indicated whether the attending was an actor, filmmaker, photographer, or game designer.
“There are so many students that I hadn’t met,” said acting student An Phan. “I’m at the Barham building most of the time while the photography and filmmaking students are at Riverside. I never get to interact with them. I saw a lot of portfolios and I was blown away by how talented everyone was. It was great interaction. I had a lot of fun.”
The New York Film Academy would like to wish all the students applying for professional memberships and those students teaming up to work on a project success on their next venture.
Director Tiffany Rhynard had been filming for two years already. Rhynard met the film’s subject, Moises Serrano, by chance when collaborating with a friend, and instantly felt a connection.
Serrano’s harrowing story as an undocumented immigrant was one that needed to be shared with the rest of the world. The fact that Serrano was also queer and DOMA was still in effect helped bring an eye to the intersectionality many undocumented people have to face daily.
When Mathews heard about Serrano, she instantly knew she wanted to be a part of telling his story and signed on to edit the project. Her first task was to try and figure out the best format to tell the story, but the decision to do a feature or a television show wasn’t clear immediately.”We didn’t know what it would be until I was deep into watching footage,” Mathews explained, “About two months, when I realized it would make a feature.”
“We picture-locked just in time for Outfest,” Mathews began. “Right before Tiffany arrived I had lunch with David Michael Barrett, a really good queer filmmaker. We were trying to remain positive and stay out of the [political] fray, but he sat me down and had a real heart-to-heart with me.”
Mathews pitched an idea to Rhynard and the powerful intro to the film, of a recent anti-immigration, rally was born.
To watch the NYFA Hour tune into Popcorn Talk on YouTube every Thursday at 4 p.m. PST. You can catch up on previous episodes with amazing guests like film critic Peter Rainer, who discussed the legacy of Marlon Brando. Catch “Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America” on LOGO, August 3, 9 p.m. EST/PST.
On Friday, June 27, the first New York Film Academy teen and kids summer camp programs came to an end. As students waited for their graduation ceremony to start, they took selfies while their parents banded together.
As the lights dimmed, the acting students presented their one to two minute monologues. Their head shots were projected before the video began. Filmed against a white background “audition style,” each actor chose a unique piece to perform.
Then, the student’s short films were screened. Their backdrop was the Universal backlot, the same place “Hairspray” was filmed. Students were given a challenge to make a movie without dialogue. They wrote, directed, filmed, and edited their own productions from start to finish.
Their instructors and councilors were in attendance and issued certificates of completion. In their farewells they offered words of encouragement. Camera Instructor Bart Mastronardi offered the wise words of Helen Keller: “Life is either an incredible journey or it’s nothing at all.”
“In five days you’ve done an amazing job. This is one of the best one-week programs. You’re all so ambitious. Parents and grandparents keep pushing these kids. They really appreciate it. Even if they don’t always show it,” said NYFA Instructor Martin Thompson.
After they collected their certificates each student was given a copy of their work to use for reels or to share with friends and family. The graduates and their families finished the night with cupcakes and dancing by the pool.
Head of programs Ale Salinas described the programs objectively in her farewell, stating, “Some of you may have learned that this isn’t what you want to do at all, that’s valid, too. But I’m being honest when I say we’re going to miss you.”
The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all of the students in finishing their first film. We look forward to the seeing second film real soon.
Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members.
Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, assisting veterans and spouses with finding employment.
The first half of the eight-hour workshop was a practicum related to resume theory, networking techniques, and how to affectively prepare for an interview. Representatives from Hire Heroes USA, Jamie Rimphanli and Walter Serrano, coached veteran students on how to properly format their resumes and discussed, in-depth, the importance of networking and how to prepare for a job interview.
Highlights from the day included an exercise that had all of the participants do a speed networking session. Also, HHUSA brought a photographer who took professional head shots for the veteran students’ LinkedIn pages.
“We felt that this training and these types of vet student-centric activities are increasingly important because they help prepare our students to meet with HR/Talent Acquisition teams from the major studios,” explained NYFA Director of Veterans Services Department John Powers.
Retired Army veteran and MFA cinematography student Bryan Hudson stated, “The Hire Heroes USA workshop was a fantastic forum to introduce veterans with industry insiders and provide the opportunity to learn from them. The event was beneficial to everyone involved about learning the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the interview process and how to break into the entertainment industry. One thing that I learned from the workshop is to establish relationships that will be beneficial to both parties. Thank you to the NYFA Veterans Department for putting on this marvelous event, and I hope that this will be the first of many events with Hire Heroes USA.”
The NYFA Veteran Services Department is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for partnering with us to bring this wonderful opportunity to NYFA veteran students.
The latest music video, “Champion,” from famous Trinidadian cricketer and singer Dwayne “DJ” Bravo made quite an impression around the world. After blowing up on YouTube with over 12 millions views in a month, it successfully premiered on ESPN. The music video was edited by NYFA Grad Bogdan Yansen, who became involved with the project as a part of the CONTENT team.
Yansen admits that he wasn’t initially sure what he wanted to do in the film industry when he first came to Hollywood. So he decided to start by attending the One-Year Filmmaking Program at New York Film Academy where he was able to get experience in all of the key positions involved with filmmaking. During the educational process he realized that his main interest was in cinematography and digital editing.
“To succeed in the industry you have to find the right position for yourself,” said Yansen. “Once you can determine what your real passion is, things will fall into place. NYFA helped me to find out what I’m good at. Prior to NYFA, I received a Master’s in Architecture and never knew that it could be so useful in terms of cinematography. I can analyze the space and apply it for the visual aspects of the shot.”
Bogdan Yansen on set of “Dudes”
It seems that Bogdan Yansen is on the right track in his career. Right after graduating from New York Film Academy he was offered an editor position at the Los Angeles based production company Content, which provides its clients with all aspects of video, photo, audio and SM content, including photoshoots, films production, commercials, music videos, and more.
Last year, Yansen made several projects as a DP, including the music video “Roller Skater” for Swedish DJ Chris Tall, travel guide TV project “Citizen of the World,” and the character-driven short comedy “Amish.”
NYFA wishes Bogdan Yansen all the best and is looking forward to hearing about his future professional accomplishments!
The New York Film Academy Photography Department’s most recent guest speaker was Pascal Dangin, the world’s pre-eminent post-production digital artist for photography and creative director for advertising.
Dangin is the founder and CEO of Box Studios, where he leads a team of 40 photo post-production experts doing work for major magazines, photographers, and ad agencies. He is the most widely quoted and sought after post-production/digital artist, frequently interviewed in the press regarding the implications of digital image manipulation.
His reputation as a “photo whisperer” has expanded his involvement to encompass every aspect of production on major photography and video shoots. He founded Kids Creative and serves as a Creative Director to top international luxury brands including Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Prada among others. He advises top tier photographers and artists as a curator and creative director. Pascal commissions world-renowned photographers from the old guard and also collaborates with emerging talent.
Dangin got his start in the art world through his work with hair. His attention to detail while on set was noticed by photographers and directors alike, propelling him into the world of digital photography and advertising.
Like film and television, Dangin stresses the importance of storytelling in his photography and advertising work. If there’s no story behind the images, he admits he’s easily bored.
As for what makes artists successful in his business, Dangin says, “Fear of failure is the biggest stumbling block. There is no such thing as failure. As Nike says, just do it.”
Our photography students learned a great deal from Mr. Dangin, who has had a hand in the production of many of the most iconic images of the past twenty years.
After graduating from New York Film Academy in 2001, Liam Le Guillou returned home and began working at a major broadcasting station in the UK, ITV. While there he trained as camera and editor technician, building on his training from NYFA. Having reached some success at the station, producing his first 30-minute program after only 3 years, Le Guillou decided to set up his own company; Spike Productions. At Spike he produced a number of documentaries as well as some award-wining corporate and commercial content. But his love of narrative filmmaking was still burning and in 2011 he returned to New York to work on his first feature film, Dutch Kills, as Director of Photography/Producer and Editor.
Dutch Kills was filmed on a nearly impossible $12,000 budget, with mostly a four person crew (two of which were the lead actors). Despite the small crew and budget, the film won Best Thriller Feature at the Manhattan Film Festival in 2014. Also, Dutch Kills is being distributed by Screen Media Films, and is available now on iTunes!
Recently, we had a chance to ask the filmmaker and former NYFA student about Dutch Kills and his career since graduating.
How did you get involved with Dutch Kills?
I got involved with Dutch Kills when I met the Director, Joseph Mazzella, at a networking party in NYC. He told me he was starting the project but was still in need of a cinematographer. After I met with Joe and the two writers (who were also both the lead actors, Tama Filing and R.L. Mann), I realized they had a pretty decent script but they also needed some more help in getting the project off the ground. So I came onboard as DP, but also as a producer — particularly to help with the technical aspects of putting a film together. And when we found that the previously assigned editor was unable to commit enough time to project, I also came on as editor of the film.
In your own words, what is this film about?
Dutch Kills is about two close friends who get back together after some time in jail and are forced into doing “one last job” by a crooked cop. But for me it’s really a story about the nature of trust and friendship and how that can change over time.
Was your NYFA education useful in terms of being able to produce / DP / edit a film like this?
So I completed an 8-week intensive filmmaking course in 2001 at NYFA in New York. It was an amazing experience for a young Brit, who had never been to New York before. What I loved about the course was it was very practical. We took out 16mm cameras and shot our first shorts the very first weekend of the course. Those skills, and the experience, landed me a job in the technical crew as a trainee position for one of the major TV stations in the UK, ITV, where I continued my camera and editing training for the next few years.
Liam Le Guillou with Director Joseph Mazzella
What advice would you give to other filmmakers working on such a tight budget?
Dutch Kills was almost an impossible task of completing a film on just $25,000 (we finished shooting on just $12K). It’s obviously a really difficult job and there are loads of tips and tricks we used to make it happen, and I should probably write a book on it! But a few of the key things were to have a core team, (we had four of us) who were passionate about the film and also equal owners of the project. We each had unique and complimentary skills, which were crucial in pulling together all of the cast, crew, locations and equipment to make it happen. In fact, production went incredibly smoothly but we did underestimate the amount of work and effort post-production would take. I think if you have little to no money, you have to have someone in the team who is a good editor and has the time to take on the project. In our case, I took on the the edit with most of the other team members in the edit with me—this saved a huge cost. But the negative side to that is you don’t have fresh eyes on it, so we ran 4 or 5 test screenings with friends and family which gave us a new insight to the film, and actually lead us to shooting three new scenes, including a new end scene—almost 12 months after principle photography!
Are you currently working on another project?
Since we completed Dutch Kills, I’ve DP’ed a second feature film, Painless, which is currently in post and I’ve been working on a number of documentary and short form projects, including a really fun travel/fashion piece called Style Out There, for Refinery29. The series has had over 2 million views, which is really exciting. Have a look at the piece below!
Perhaps one of the most notorious drug lords of our time, Pablo Escobar has been an appealing character often explored in film and television over the years. In writer/director Andrea Di Stefano’s recent film, Escobar: Paradise Lost, the filmmaker sets up a young couple who fall in love in Colombia and, after discovering the young woman’s uncle is Pablo Escobar, are faced with a dramatic, life-altering turn.
One of our Editing Instructors in Los Angeles, Zack Stoff, was a research consultant to Oscar-winning actor Benicio Del Toro, who happened to play Escobar. “I became involved in research for Benicio through my editing background,” said New York Film Academy Instructor, Zack Stoff. “It gave me the ability to scan through and edit material from many different sources.”
Also starring in the film is lead actor Josh Hutcherson, who Stoff worked with as Assistant Editor on Benicio’s directorial short film Seven Days in Havana. “This was their [Del Toro and Hutcherson] first time acting together and they have a great chemistry,” said Stoff. “Benicio’s portrayal of Escobar is really captivating.”
Stoff offered some great advice to students looking to break into the industry as a research consultant or anything else for that matter. “Be ready to walk through whatever door opens for them. This business is run by need and opportunity. One person’s need is another person’s opportunity. Hold onto your skills and ambitions and know they will eventually pay off, but be patient and just do good work. Good things will happen if you prove yourself to be dependable.”
Actor Micah Hauptman with Director Mel Rodriguez at NYFA Union Square
This past Monday, June 23rd, the New York Film Academy in Union Square played host to an early screening of the upcoming New York indie, In Stereo, which was directed by first time director Mel Rodriguez and stars Micah Hauptman. Both Rodriguez and Hauptman joined us after the screening for an intimate conversation with NYFA Instructor Randall Dottin about the production of their film, as well as their triumphs and struggles in this competitive industry.
The film initially started out as a short film, which writer / director Rodriguez said, “came out of frustration and necessity.” It was at a festival screening in Austin where producers were hooked and made the feature version of his short a reality.
Shot entirely in New York City, the entire feature was filmed over only fifteen days! In addition to our gracious guest, Micah Hauptman, In Stereo stars Beau Garrett, Aimee Mullins, Mario Cantone, Maggie Geha, and Melissa Bolona. The story surrounds David (Micah Hauptman) and Brenda (Beau Garrett), who are perfect for each other, and everyone knows it…except David and Brenda. After their painful break-up, they each endure an individual purgatory (for David, a self-destructive artistic endeavor, and a relationship with an immature beauty who has taken to sleeping with his best friend – for Brenda, a failing acting career, an eviction notice, and a boyfriend who just doesn’t do it for her for Brenda) until chance brings them together on the streets of New York at the worst possible time. David invites Brenda to the opening of his first photography exhibit and it sets the stage for a night of drinking, flirting and truth-telling, leading to an untraditional and risky proposal of how they can be together… without getting back together.
A sharply observed, un-romantic comedy by writer/director/editor Mel Rodriguez, In Stereo is a stylish and striking first feature. With an innovative structure and bold performances, it offers an unflinching look at the complexity of modern relationships.
Both Rodriguez and Hauptman humbly recalled their roots in the industry, Hauptman admitting he’d been working as an actor for twelve years until he really considered himself having a career. In fact, it was a student film that really propelled his career to the next level. “Always be focusing on the work,” he advised.
As for Rodriguez, his directing career really blossomed from his work as an editor, in which he says, “Editing is film school. Editors tend to make the best directors.” While he had established himself as a premier editor in film and television, his true passion was to be a director. With the upcoming release of In Stereo, Rodriguez has made that dream a reality. Now, he intends to move further into larger projects — an action, thriller set on the Mexican border is what he hopes to shoot next.
In the meantime, be sure to check out this very realistic New York City relationship film, which opens in theaters starting July 3rd, 2015!
New York Film Academy students gathered in the school’s own Los Angeles theater this week for a screening of the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture Birdman followed by a Q&A with Douglas Crise, the Oscar nominated editor of the film. Crise received an Oscar nomination for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel in 2007. He has since cut John August’s The Nines, starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa McCarthy; David Schimmer’s Trust, starring Clive Owen; and Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere which has received much critical acclaim. His collaboration with filmmaker Harmony Korine on Spring Breakers—which stars James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens—has been talked about as revolutionary. Doug just received a BAFTA nomination for is work on Inarritu’s Birdman starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis. The discussion was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA LA’s Dean of Students Eric Conner.
It is often said that the best editors make their cuts “invisible” to the audience, stitching shots together in just the right so that the audience can lose themselves in the story and not focus on the filmmaking craft. Douglas Crise achieved this in a very literal way with Birdman—the vast majority of which appears to be all one shot, but in reality is composed with many, many edits. These cuts are nearly impossible to see at all, even with the trained eyed. So how many cuts were there in Birdman? This has been a topic of hot debate, and while the number of cuts have been kept secret but the team, the special effects department had spilled the beans and said it was 100, which Douglas didn’t deny. This is compared to the 30 definite edits planned before the shooting of Birdman.
To cut together the best film possible, Crise had to dig deep down and use every trick in the book, and even invent many himself to make the impossible possible. For instance, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu would like Michael Keaton’s performance at the beginning of one long shot and Edward Norton’s performance at the end of it. Douglass would have to dig deep to think of solutions such as rotoscoping Michael Keaton out of the first shot and laying him onto the background where Edward Norton appears in the next shot until Keaton walked offscreen and the second shot took over completely. Douglas Crise enjoyed working with Inarritu because the demanding director always pushed him to do his best work, and to achieve levels he originally thought impossible.
Crise discussed his contrasting, yet equally fulfilling experience, editing Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Whereas Birdman required working within strict limitations, Douglas was called upon to nearly rewrite Spring Breakers in the editing room. He moved things around out of chronological order, laid dialogue and sound over scenes from the footage of other scenes, and worked from a rough outline instead of a detailed script. Harmony’s approach to Crise was more relaxed, as the two discovered the story together from the footage. Having worked so well with two iconic directors whose working styles are at different ends of the spectrum Douglas has exhibited how creatively flexible he is.
Douglas Crise gave NYFA students a unique and important insight into the post production process. We sincerely thank Mr. Crise for taking the time to visit us and look forward to seeing his next critically acclaimed editorial work.