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  • New York Film Academy Division of Veterans Services Welcomes Casting Director Robert McGee, C.S.A as Guest Speaker

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Division of Veterans Services (DVS) recently welcomed NYFA’s veteran students and alumni, together with members of Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME), to a screening of the hit animated series Rick and Morty. Following the screening, the audience was treated to a Q&A with casting director extraordinaire, Robert McGee, C.S.A.

    The event was part of the NYFA DVS series of events that includes guest speakers, film screenings, master classes, workshops, and employment trainings — all of which promote industry engagement for NYFA’s veteran students, as well as the wider veteran communities, in Los Angeles, New York City, and South Beach (Miami).

    In addition to Rick and Morty, McGee has cast such hit shows as The Cleveland Show and Wizards of Waverly Place, as well as successful films such as The Virgin Suicides and World’s Greatest Dad, which starred Robin Williams. McGee is currently casting the newest rendition of The Adams Family, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac, Nick Kroll, and Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron.

    With over 20 years of experience in the casting business in both live action and animation, McGee enjoyed sharing valuable insight on the casting process for both live action and voice over work. McGee is very passionate about the casting business and enjoys meeting actors.

    “The Q&A with Mr. McGee was very insightful,” said NYFA BFA Producing student and U.S. Navy veteran Jonathan Garza. “As a Producing student it was very informative, learning the complexities of what a casting director goes through and how intricate the casting process is.”

    The New York Film Academy thanks Robert McGee for his generosity and willingness to help veterans pursuing careers in the film industry.

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  • New York Film Academy Instructor Joe Burke Releases Another Cancer Movie Indie Short

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    For many passionate filmmakers, one of the greatest challenges is bringing a film to life in spite of budgeting hurdles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Directing instructor Joe Burke recently set a great example with how to execute a clear, enteratining, artistic vision on a shoestring budget with his newly released comedy, Another Cancer Movie. Check out his film, and his insights on indie production for NYFA students, below.

    ANOTHER CANCER MOVIE from Joe Burke on Vimeo.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to teach at the New York Film Academy?

    JB: I started out making films at a very early age. I was eight years old when I first picked up the camera, and I haven’t put it down since. I studied film and acting all growing up, and eventually went to film school in Chicago, followed by grad school at the American Film Institute in LA. Once my career began to start growing after grad school, I found myself getting to a point where I really missed the film school setting. Hollywood can be a crazy place, and a lot of the “business” side of things can unfortunately interfere with the artistic side, and it can be very frustrating. It’s very easy to lose yourself in it all. For me, it was very important to reconnect to the fundamentals of why I really wanted to be a filmmaker, to reconnect to the actual craft and art of it all. I decided to pause on my career for a moment, and shift my energy back to film school. I love being in the classroom, both as a student and as a teacher.

    I was thrilled to join the NYFA staff and teach Directing. I love teaching. I love making films. I love inspiring my students, and even more so, being inspired by them.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments or memories from your time teaching with us?

    JB: I am very proud of the students I have taught. I have come across many talented young filmmakers who I see very bright futures for: it’s always inspiring to witness. I have found myself many times taken aback by the power of some of my students’ work. Those are my favorite memories.

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most? What kind of stories are you most passionate to tell?

    JB: I love telling stories on film. For me, it’s all about capturing the heart and sole of people, of characters. To shed a light on both the drama and natural comedy that exists in all our lives. I love human stories that are grounded and relatable. I love making an audience truly feel something. I naturally lean towards humor, because I think a strong sense of humor is so important in life — but it has to come from an honest place. That’s why it’s funny; because it’s true.

    NYFA: For our students interested in making their own shorts outside of school, what is your best advice about producing on a shoestring indie budget?

    JB: My best advice would be write a film around a location that you can shoot at for free. If you have a location(s) you know you are able to shoot at, write your movie with that in mind. It’s what we did with Another Cancer Movie, as well as what I have done with many of my films — including our last one, House Sitting, and even my first feature Four Dogs.

    Also, find friends you like to work with and trust. Build your community of people who will be there for you, and work for you because they believe in what you’re doing. Don’t feel the need to pay everyone the big bucks early on. Work with people who understand you have a tight budget, just make sure to feed them well! Great food on set goes a very long way. And of course, keep a very positive and fun energy on set. As the filmmaker, you must set the tone on set to keep everyone in good spirits. It’s a team effort, but the director is the leader.

    NYFA: What’s next for Another Cancer Movie?

    JB: Another Cancer Movie just had its world premiere online. We’re stoked to finally be releasing it. This is a very personal movie to us, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any other projects upcoming you can tell us about?

    JB: Right now, the big focus is developing a TV show with a buddy of mine. I can’t talk too much about it at the moment, but it’s an exciting project for us. I am also working on a couple of other screenplays, and acting in a few fun projects as well.

    Thank you so much for having me be a part of this. For those folks who would like to keep up with what I am doing, they can find me on Instagram/Twitter @joeburkefilm and my website joeburke.net

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  • Loveratri, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, Arya Babber and More From New York Film Academy Mumbai Alumni & Guest Speakers

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    Since opening its doors in May 2017, NYFA Mumbai has seen an incredible year filled with student successes, insightful guest speakers, special master classes, and powerful storytelling. If you’re a film buff, whether you’re in the capital of Bollywood or simply streaming movies from anywhere in the world, you won’t want to miss what’s been happening at NYFA Mumbai.

    Check out these alumni success stories, as well as some of the luminaries that have visited our newest campus this year as Guest Speakers to share their advice with NYFA Mumbai students.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Sana Saeed

    TODAYYY ❤️ @newyorkfilmacademy #NYFAMumbai #letstogethermakethisyearcount

    A post shared by Sana Saeed (@sanaofficial) on

    It’s always a special occasion when a NYFA alum returns to their alma mater as a Guest Speaker, and NYFA Mumbai recently welcomed NYFA Acting for Film alum and child star Sana Saeed. Sharing a joyous evening with a packed house of students, Saeed spoke especially to the new class of NYFA Mumbai teen camp attendees in sharing her experiences as a child actor in Bollywood.

    As a child, Saeed played megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter in the romantic epic Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and was re-cast by same director Karan Johar 20 years later!

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Arya Babbar

    Noted actor Arya Babber is currently studying at NYFA Mumbai, taking a Filmmaking course to expand his already impressive repertoire. Well known in Punjabi film industry, Babber was nominated as the Most Promising Newcomer in 2002.

    Babber has also had crossover success in Bollywood, where he is one of the best known Punjabi actors; he has acted in 25 feature films in 16 years. So far, he’s been very open on social media about how much he is loving his time at NYFA Mumbai.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty


    Founder, Director at Opticus INC, recent NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty has over two decades of experience as a director at Ad-Films. During his time at Ad-Films, Shetty was a finalist at the Cannes Lions Festival, one of the most prominent and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. He has been recognized for his work at Promax-Asia Advertising Awards & Goa Abbey Awards.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya


    With over 17 years of experience as a producer, from feature films to ads, for the past eight years NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya has executive-produced such Bollywood hits as Love Story 2050, 1920 London, and TV series 24:India. As a producer, he has worked all over India and internationally, from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Bangkok to Dubai, Paris, Switzerland, and much more.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Tharun Bhascker


    NYFA alum Tharun Bhascker attended NYFA’s intensive 4-week Filmmaking Program in Mumbai in 2011, even before NYFA established its permanent campus at the Urmi Estate. He’s recently directed his second feature hit, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, which follows the major success of his first feature, #Pellichoopulu.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre


    NYFA Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre is an Acting for Film, Filmmaking, and Screenwriting New York Film Academy alumnus. He is best known for for Baahubali: The Beginning, and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, where he played Setu Patti, and Vedam.

    Bahubali 2: The Conclusion was released in April 2017 and quickly became the highest-grossing film in India, grossing $82.8 million in five days.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Seher Latif


    Seher Latif is a Casting Director and CSA member who has had success in both the American and Indian film industries. Her credits include Zero Dark Thirty, Furious 7, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Eat Pray Love. Her Bollywood credits include The Lunch Box, and Monsoon Shootout.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Warina Hussain


    Warina Hussain is a model and actress of Afghani-Iraqi descent, who attended the New York Film Academy’s Mumbai campus in 2017 to study Acting for Film. She is currently filming the lead role in Salman Khan’s Loverati, in which she will star alongside Khan’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma, in his acting debut.

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  • New York Film Academy Highlighted at New Taipei City Film Industry Exchange Conference

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    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) was honored to participate in a high-level New Taipei City media event, the New Taipei City Film Industry Exchange Conference.

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China Region Dr. Joy Zhu was a panelist at a segment of the event that focused on the cultivation of talent. Dr. Zhu offered an experienced American and Chinese perspective to the conference delegates, which included members of the Taiwan media.  

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China Region Dr. Joy Zhu.

    The conference saw film industry professionals from around the globe converge to explore the new Linkou International Media Park, the largest film park in northern Taiwan. Under the guidance of the city government policy, the film industry in New Taipei City has cumulatively developed nearly 130 hectares of industrial land, not only attracting famous TV stations like TVBS and FTV, but also 597 film companies, including Vieshow Cinemas of Banciao Mega City, Showtime Cinema of HiMall, Ambassador Theatre’s Crown Plaza and the upcoming Showtime Live Shulin Store.

    The opening ceremony was presided over by the mayor of New Taipei City, the Honorable Zhu Liwen. In his speech, Mayor Zhu Liwen commended NYFA, and stated, “NYFA’s involvement will bring opportunities of high-level film and media education to the media park.”

    Along with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA), the event marked an exciting opportunity for NYFA to forge a new and lasting partnership aimed at fostering talent and cultivating rising stars in New Taipei City.

    An Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing between NYFA and NTUA was a highlight that captured a great deal of media attention. The agreement is expected to yield a rich collaboration on future culture exchanges, academic partnerships, research, trainings, and more, as the institutions work together to develop new courses and programs attuned to the exciting opportunities developing in New Taipei City.

    As New Taipei City opens its state-of-the-art film park up to the world, the New York Film Academy is honored to partner with the city’s government, National Taiwan University of Arts, Linkou International Media Park, and the American Institute in Taiwan, to cultivate rising professionals in the media and entertainment industry.

    NYFA is very grateful to the Commercial Specialist Department of the American Institute in Taiwan for this opportunity.

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  • Iggy Pop, Johnny Depp, and Jonathan Shaw in New York Film Academy Alum Mariana Robles Thome’s Scab Vendor

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    As a result of screening her film at the Marché Du Film at Cannes, NYFA Filmmaking alum Mariana Robles Thome landed her first celebrity interview with rocker Iggy Pop for her upcoming feature documentary Scab Vendor.

    Thome graduated with her BFA in filmmaking in 2015 and she’s in the home stretch of her documentary about renowned New York tattoo artist Jonathan Shaw. Thome, originally from Brazil, took some time to chat with the NYFA Blog about her career, her experiences at NYFA and her film.

    Photo provided by Mariana Robles Thome.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about Scab Vendor?

    MRT: Scab Vendor is a documentary about the life and times of Jonathan Shaw. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth as the son of jazz bandleader Artie Shaw and Hollywood starlet Doris Dowling, Jonathan’s teenage years were marked by rebellion against the glamorous life of his parents and extreme aversion to his mother’s alcoholism.

    After almost dying of a heroin overdose in his 20s, hitchhiking from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro, and learning from the best old-school American tattoo artists, Jonathan Shaw became the go-to tattoo artist in New York City. The clientele at his shop, Fun City Tattoo, ranged from Johnny Depp to Jim Jarmusch to the Ramones. Scab Vendor explores how a man at the height of his career as a tattoo artist chose to give up on his celebrity lifestyle and find his redemption through writing. 

    NYFA: How did the project come about?

    MRT: I met Jonathan Shaw because he was releasing his novel, Narcisa, at a renowned art gallery in Los Angeles, La Luz de Jesus Gallery. My co-director, Lucas de Barros, told me about it and asked if I could shoot the night, since he lives in Brazil and wanted it documented.

    When I met Jonathan, on the front door of his Hollywood penthouse, I was immediately drawn to him as a character. In front of me there was this 62-year-old man puffing on a vape, full of tattoos, chains, dressed like a hobo and speaking perfect Portuguese. Immediately I knew this project was going to be a feature documentary, and Jonathan was more than happy to be a part of it. 

    In 2016 I was able to go with a few projects to the Cannes Film Festival Market — including the film I made in my first year at NYFA. They were selected by Creative Minds Group, who booked a screening in the Marché du Film at Cannes for eight selected short films. This led to a great coincidence: Jim Jarmusch (who is good friends with Jonathan Shaw) was in the festival with two movies, including a documentary on Iggy Pop (who is also good friends with Jonathan). I immediately contacted Jonathan and we were able to schedule the first interview of the project with Iggy Pop.

    NYFA: How did NYFA prepare you for the professional world?

    MRT: Well, I must admit that I used my time at NYFA well. I really took advantage of everything that the school has to offer, the professionals, the equipment, the resources, and definitely, the red cards. (A red card allows any student to meet with any instructor at the academy for a consultation on their work.)

    I started this project when I was still a student at NYFA. I was actually in the middle of my thesis period, and was already producing three of my classmates’ films. I had the great advantage of having instructors who were willing to prepare me for the giant project that was ahead of me. Moreover, most of my classmates who were my close friends ended up helping me out in this project, and many NYFA alumni are part of my crew. 

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students — especially those about to graduate? 

    MRT: Keep doing what you love, work hard, go to festivals, talk to people, get out of your comfort zone. But most importantly, never forget that nobody will ever care more about your project than you do. 

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    MRT: This year I’m working on a TV series about the 1980s and 1990s in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with historian and videographer Clayton Patterson (who I met through Scab Vendor) — whose work is currently exhibited, archived, and preserved at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

    We’re also in the process of producing a TV Series called Desterro, shot in my hometown in Brazil.  

    NYFA: How can people get involved with Scab Vendor?

    MRT: You can support us by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign at www.seedandspark.com/fund/scabvendor. Even if you don’t have the means to contribute, you can follow us on Seed&Spark and you’ll be helping us get a chance to win an extra 75,000 towards the project when we reach 1000 followers! We are also on facebook @scabvendordoc and Instragram @scabvendor.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mariana Robles Thome for her time and for sharing her experiences with us. We wish her the best of luck on Scab Vendor as well as all her other projects, and can’t wait to see it playing on the big screen.

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  • The Simpsons Director Mike Polcino Shares Special Master Class at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) 3D Animation & VFX and Filmmaking students packed the Riverside Theater at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for a storyboarding master class from veteran The Simpsons director, Mike Polcino.

    The Simpsons just surpassed Gunsmoke to become the longest-running scripted show in television history, and Mike Polcino has been with the Simpsons from the very beginning, directing 31 episodes in addition to episodes from the first season of Family Guy.

    Polcino started his career in animation doing all of the tedious work that goes into a massive production such as The Simpsons, such as animation timing and quality control.

    “Occasionally, we’d get the final animations back and Bart’s eyes would be looking in two different directions,” Polcino reminisced. “You’d be surprised what people miss.”

    His talent was unmistakable and, after a few short years, he moved up to become a director. Since then, Polcino has been a staple at Fox Television Animation, whose office is next door to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in Burbank, California.

    Polcino took the students through his process of breaking down an Emmy-winning script to put it on screen. Episode #593, Fland Canyon featured some of The Simpsons most cinematic sequences, such as great sweeping shots of the Grand Canyon. Polcino took the enraptured audience through a visualization process to find the key shots.

    “Part of the fun,” he said, “is coming up with shots that would be impossible without the animation.”

    He then melded the material for both the Animation and Filmmaking students by sharing his process for storyboarding The Simpsons and how it is more directing than animating. The students loved the class, asking for autographs and even taking selfies with the Homer Simpson drawing Polcino left on the whiteboard.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mike Polcino for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students.

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  • Platino Awards and New York Film Academy Industry Lab Collaborate on Eugenio Derbez & Rob Schneider Comedy Sketch

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    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.

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  • IDA Magazine’s Spring 2018 Issue Highlights New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking School

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles’ Documentary Filmmaking department is honored to be featured in the prestigious IDA magazine, the official publication of the International Documentary Association, in an article exploring the advantages of pursuing an MFA in Documentary Filmmaking.

    In reading the article titled The MFA Considered: A Sampling of Programs that Tackle the Current Marketplace by Akiva Gottlieb, one of the ways that NYFA stands out among the other programs explored, is expressed in the sentence: “Within two weeks of the first class, students will be making films.” None of the other programs make this claim.

    As NYFA New York City Documentary Filmmaking Chair Andrea Swift notes, NYFA’s degree and conservatory programs are guided by the principal that students “learn to make documentaries by making documentaries.”

    Los Angeles Chair of Documentary Sanora Bartels concurs, noting, “The most important element of making documentaries is story. Our students are not just hands-on with equipment, they’re researching, they’re out in the community, they’re finding that story.”

    Here, in Los Angeles, those early films bloom into two years of intense research and production that culminates in a Master of Fine Art in Documentary.  The experience and degree allows our students to shine in the world of professional documentary filmmaking.

     

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  • New York Film Academy Joins the Red Carpet at Millburn Film Festival

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    The “not so sleepy” town of Millburn, New Jersey, enjoyed a Hollywood-style red carpet film festival this April, with the stars of the evening being the creative young filmmakers from Millburn Middle School and Millburn High School.

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was once again a proud sponsor of this annual event, which highlights original short films made by Millburn students. NYFA provides a tuition scholarship for a NYFA program at the school’s New York City campus at Battery Place. The scholarship is awarded to the young filmmaker judged to have created the best short film.

    The winning filmmaker for the 2018 event is Carli Platt, now in 7th grade, for her outstanding film In Plain Sight: A Hidden Child of the Holocaust.

    The Millburn Film Festival, now in its seventh year, raises funds for the Education Foundation of Millburn-Short Hills, a non-profit organization that provides equipment, technology, and programming to Millburn schools.

    With approximately 500 in attendance at Millburn High School’s auditorium, NYFA’s Associate Director of Outreach Maria Culbertson joined Lynn Farscht and Alyssa Russo (photographed), the Film Festival’s founders and co-chairs, to walk the red carpet and watch the screening of the films.  

    With such generous, engaged, and creative residents, it is no wonder that Millburn is ranked as one of the “Best Places To Live” in New Jersey!

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  • The New York Film Academy Welcomes Echo Lake Entertainment Talent Manager Iris Grossman

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting esteemed talent manager Iris Grossman. Grossman works at Echo Lake Entertainment, a management and production company that represents veterans such as Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone as well as young artists such as Dakota and Elle Fanning. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Laiter began by asking Grossman about her start in the industry, and Iris described working early on at ICM as an assistant to agent Daniel Petrie Jr., who soon departed the company to write Beverly Hills Cop. Following that, she worked for agent Michael Black, who nurtured her and helped launch her career as an agent, where she developed her love of working with actors. 

    Years later, she took the job of senior vice president of talent and casting at Turner Network Television (TNT), where she had the joy of casting of stars such as Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Diane Keaton, at a time when actors did not do cable in the same way as today. She also discovered emerging talent: “I had the most incredible job. Every day I would get calls asking if I would like to meet with actors like Clive Owen, or Jude Law, who were unknowns at the time. It was pretty incredible.”

    Laiter followed up by asking Grossman about transitioning from being an agent into casting, and she responded, “I called casting ‘being an agent with a larger client list.’” When she would read a script at the agency, she would have to think about who at the agency would be right for the part, but in casting, she now had the world opened up to her.

    When asked about what it takes to have a keen eye for talent, Grossman answered that part of it is learned, and part of it is instinctual.

    “When you watch a movie, and you believe what you see, you know the person is talented,” she said.

    In regards to the teaching element, she remarked that you have to know about the history of the industry, and understand what made certain people stars, and then translate that into the moment.

    Her advice for actors upon graduation was to stay proactive, do theater, and create their own web content. “While I don’t cast people just based on their Instagram followers but their talent, if you have a video with a million views, people will start knocking on your door.”

    A student asked Grossman about what changes she saw with women in the industry, behind the camera, from the start of her career to now. Iris responded, “There are things that have changed, and things that haven’t changed.” She went on to say how women have always been producers in the industry, but how there aren’t enough women directors. She also noted that in television some of the top writers and showrunners now are women. “When I started out there were maybe five women agents. Now I see there are so many women agents and executives and managers. I think it’s changed, but it still has far to come.”

    When asked about what happens in her first meeting with an actor, she said she wanted to learn about them as people: “I already know they are talented from their reel.” She wants to make sure they get along, because it’s all about the relationship and making sure they have the same goals.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Grossman for taking the time to speak to our students and share her wealth of knowledge and experience.

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    May 1, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 285