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  • NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Directs Interactive Murder Mystery Series

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    untitled murder project

    Starting tomorrow, Untitled Murder Project 2.0, from Unlinear.tv, will be available online. The 49-episode interactive murder mystery comes from director and New York Film Academy Instructor, Alonso Mayo. Untitled Murder Project 2.0 is the follow-up to 2011’s Untitled Fiction Project, an hour-long experiment in unscripted fiction filmmaking about the aftermath of an affair. Like its predecessor, Untitled Murder Project 2.0 was shot using structured improvisation, with dialogue developed by the actors and the director on the day of the shoot based solely on an outline. The 13 original episodes of Untitled Fiction Project comprise Chapter 1 of Untitled Murder Project 2.0.

    Alonso Mayo, recently wrote and directed the feature film The Story of Luke, starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Seth Green, Cary Elwes and Kristin Bauer. The film won 20 festival top prizes including Best Film from the San Diego Film Festival, Irvine Film Festival, and San Luis Obispo Film Festival. Originally from Lima, Peru, Mayo won the Student Academy Award with his American Film Institute thesis film WednesdayAfternoon.

    “I wanted to experiment with a new storytelling format,” said Mayo. “I love making feature films, but to a certain point the format is limiting – given the storytelling possibilities offered by the internet. It was a great challenge to develop a project that puts many of the decisions that you would ordinarily be in charge of as a filmmaker in the hands of the audience, and still retain enough control to guarantee a uniform and entertaining experience.”

    Untitled Murder Project 2.0 Chapters 1 & 2 are available starting 10/10/2013 (22 total episodes) and the next 3 chapters (9 episodes each) will be released weekly through the end of October.

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    October 9, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 5664

  • NYFA Instructor Paul Warner to Direct 9th Annual OUTmusic Awards

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    Paul Warner

    Paul Warner directing Liev Schreiber with Alison Pill and David Michalek Photo Credit Mark Kornbluth

    Award-winning film and stage director Paul Warner has been commissioned to direct the 9th Annual OUTmusic Awards, as well as to produce the Academy’s music documentary film For Which WE Stand (One Queer Music Nation In The Visible).

    The Academy has launched a campaign to back the completion of the film For Which WE Stand and live production of the 9th Annual OUTmusic Awards slated to take place MLK weekend January 16th – 20th in Las Vegas, NV.

    Warner has directed more than fifty stage productions and numerous films, including the award-winning In the Name of the Father as well as his feature Fall Time, starring Mickey Rourke, Stephen Baldwin, and David Arquette, which premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for The Grand Jury Prize. In the Name of the Father also premiered at Sundance and garnered the Cine Golden Eagle, the Gold Hugo Award from the Chicago International Film Festival, first place at The British International Film and Video Festival, and best cinematography at The Atlanta Film and Video Festival. Warner has directed Fall Time, with “sadistic relish,” says the Hollywood Reporter. TV Guide refers to Warner’s work as “more repellently scary than most horror films.” Most recently, he directed the world premiere of a new dance-theatre opera, Women: The War Within, composed by Du Yun with a libretto by Matthew Maguire, at The Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City featuring the Chinese Opera Star Qian Yi and New York City Principal ballerina Wendy Whelan. He produced the film The Puritans, directed by Robinson, which has been the recipient of numerous honors on the festival circuit.

    In 2011, Warner directed the actors and served as Executive Creative Consultant for acclaimed photographer and visual artist David Michalek’s Portraits in Dramatic Time–a series of slow motion cinematic shorts featuring seminal performers of stage and screen, including: Holly Hunter, Patti Lupone, Lily Taylor, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Wendy Whelan, and William H. Macy, as well as seminal multi-disciplinary international artists. Portraits premiered at The Lincoln Center Theatre Festival. The LA Weekly has referred to Warner’s direction of Nelson Rodriques’ The Wedding Dress as “A phantasmagorical odyssey–a nonstop, mind-bending roller-coaster ride that is as haunting as a nightmare, while also being a touching affirmation of life.”

    paul warner alan rickman

    Paul Warner with Alan Rickman on Portraits In Dramatic Time

    Next, Warner will direct a new feature film, Reclaiming Eden, co-written with Sean Robinson, which is to begin principal photography in the summer of 2014. Warner has won numerous awards and fellowships including a Statue Award and a Works in Process Grant from the Princess Grace Foundation, which enabled him to serve as The Artistic Associate/Resident Director of New York’s Second Stage Theatre and The Baryshnikov Arts Center, as well as a directing fellowship from the Drama League of New York. He is a graduate of Harvard University and has an MFA in filmmaking from The American Film Institute. Paul currently teaches directing courses at the New York Film Academy.

    Paul is thrilled to be working alongside his longtime creative colleague, Sean Robinson, who will direct the documentary as well as Chairwoman/CEO Diedra Meredith, whose exceptional leadership at LARA has brought about enormous changes for LGBTQ artists that will be felt for decades to come.

    Warner says: “I am honored to both direct the 9th Annual OUTmusic Awards and produce For Which WE Stand as I feel strongly that the LGBTQ Academy of Recording Arts’ mission is essential to the LGBTQ equality movement,” says Warner. “While experiencing considerable gains, there has also been an escalation of bullying and continued discrimination, so the pursuit of equality is far from over. Of equal importance, I am excited to collaborate with music and media artists from all disciplines whose passion for and undying dedication to their craft will shape our future cultural and political landscape.”

    The film will feature live performances from the OUTmusic Awards with behind the scenes footage, interviews with pioneers, recording artists, activists, industry executives and various creative industry professionals.

    Diedra Meredith, Chairwoman/CEO of LARA says, “I am equally honored to have Sean Robinson and Paul Warner on board. This film and the live production of the OUTmusic Awards is integral to the Academy’s mission to document and archive our movement and history. Our goal is to create more opportunities for LGBTQ recording artists and ensure that Queer Music Culture will continue to be included as an integral platform in music and media history.”

    Women: The War Within a new dance-theatre opera by Du Yun, Matthew Maguire, and Paul Warner from Paul Warner on Vimeo.

     

     

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    September 30, 2013 • Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, Musical Theatre • Views: 6919

  • Literary Agent Says TV is Where it’s At

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    melinda jason

    Once again, producer Tova Laiter put together an exclusive event for New York FIlm Academy students in Los Angeles. One of the toughest obstacles coming out of film or acting school is landing the right agent — or landing any agent for that matter. Given the full house at Warner Bros, Theater 4 for this event, students were anxious to get some inside information from Melinda Jason and her business partner Simon Ore. Melinda is a prominent literary agent at Conspiracy LLC – with her partner Simon Ore – a production and management company based in Los Angeles. As a former lawyer at 20th Century Fox and former Head of Literary Department at Gersh, Melinda has also established producing deals with Universal Television, Disney and Sony Pictures, and has produced five feature films. Some of the talent she is most famous for discovering are Michael J. Fox, Dean Pitchford (writer of Footloose), Ron Bass (writer of Rain Man and My Best Friend’s Wedding), and David Saperstein, whose manuscript Cocoon she sold to Fox. Melinda and Simon Ore are currently developing an animated series, several feature films, and several television pilots, including one in partnership with Producer Nick Welchsler (The Road, Requiem For A Dream, Sex, Lies & Videotape, Drugstore Cowboy).

    Melinda wasted no time in getting straight to the point, “In order to get yourself out there nowadays you have to be a great writer, get a producer, make content and create experiences!” Melinda, who has a first look deal with Fox Television, thinks television is where it’s at today. “TV is great now, it’s on a higher level intellectually, you can get your writers paid and once they are respected there they really get to show what they’ve got. These writers really think, they do research. The arch is different than in film, the characters have a lot of potential. TV is about being strategic.” Melinda clearly cares about her writers.

    Simon spoke in terms of what young writers tend to do when getting off the ground. “Sell your passion!” exclaimed Simon. “Once you are in, find the happy medium in compromising with your work.” Don’t sell out, don’t be unreasonable and inflexible.

    Melinda continued on, saying how a good writer must constantly read. “Read good stuff and bad stuff, lots of it. Go to places like www.simplyscripts.com and do the work.” Simon added that a writer needs to be patient. “Some of it is not over when you’re done. Take a break. Come back to it.”

    One thing the pair really stressed is how in today’s market, writers need to MAKE CONTENT! “Create something, put it on the internet.” However, once you get the ball rolling with credibility, it is important to know where content belongs. “Know the networks, they want different things,” said Melinda. “You have to know where content could live.”

    Her final words of advice, “You have to be really careful to never make a choice based on money. Follow your passion. You must feel strongly about it!”

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    September 27, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 8808

  • Nigerian Filmmaking Grad Wins 2 African Oscars

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    The Fetus

    Filmmaking student John Chuka graduated from the New York Film Academy with the goal of revolutionizing the African film industry. Thus far, John is on the right track with his short film, The Fetus, winning Best Short Film/Trailer and Best Original Score/Soundtrack at the Nollywood and African Film Critics’ Awards (NAFCA) – otherwise known as the African Oscars. Two other NYFA alumni, Jason Mohan and Jessica Garza, who contributed to the making of the film’s theme song, were also on hand to receive the awards at the NAFCA Ceremony in Washington D.C.

    John Chuka on set of "The Fetus"

    John Chuka on set of “The Fetus”

    The Fetus is about Catalina, a religious undocumented teenage immigrant, who worked at a nursery in Arizona, but relocates to California as a result of her sexual abuse experience that left her pregnant. Now, working in a Californian sweatshop, trying to climb out of her horrible living conditions, Catalina’s destiny unfolds as she struggles with immigration laws, religious dogmas, abortion laws, and the fetus in her womb. “The film cuts across a wide range of hot topic social issues – immigration, abortion, and religion,” says John Chuka. “Being an immigrant that went through all kinds of hoops to get to where I am today, I’m hoping that somebody will watch my film and decide to do things a little bit differently in regards to how immigrants are treated around the world.”

    John is originally from Nigeria. After acquiring a business degree, he tried his hand at a few businesses, but realized that he didn’t quite have a product. While living in the United States, it dawned on him that he comes from a country with an emerging film industry. While at the time he understood business, he did not know film. It was at this point John decided to attend the New York Film Academy. “Considering the fact that I wasn’t going back to school to acquire just a degree, but a product, I chose NYFA because of its hands-on approach to teaching filmmaking. And moreover, NYFA is highly recognized as a credible film school in my country of origin, Nigeria.”

    With the success of his short film under his belt, John is working diligently to start a film production company that will generate and develop African story ideas into screenplays, transform the screenplays into films, and ultimately distribute the films to the worldwide African films enthusiasts.

     

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    September 25, 2013 • Diversity, Film School, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5548

  • ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ Screening with Taylor Hackford

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    Taylor Hackford

    Taylor Hackford at NYFA LA

    Last Wednesday, at the Warner Bros theater in LA, New York Film Academy students were treated to a screening of the classic Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves film, The Devil’s Advocate. Following the screening, director Taylor Hackford dropped by to talk about the film and his career on a whole. Taylor, who directed such films as An Officer and a Gentleman and Dolores Claiborne, says he developed an interest in film during his time in the peace corps in Bolivia. He saw many films there and shot his own on super 8 film. After coming back from the peace corps, he went to law school for two weeks, but then quit because he decided he really wanted to work in the film industry.

    His first job was in the mailroom at the Los Angeles TV station KCET. He began writing copy, editing, shooting and reporting for their news program. Working as a journalist really helped Taylor develop as a director–learning how to tell people’s stories and make them feel comfortable enough to open up. He also learned how to “deliver on a deadline” with the high turnover rate in news. He eventually started making documentaries for the news station and became passionate about the stories he was telling.

    taylorTaylor also has a love for music and it’s no surprise that his films are known for their great soundtracks. In An Officer and a Gentleman, Taylor knew that music was important to the working class people the movie was about. Taylor went to great lengths to find the right music and especially in convincing the producers to spend the money on the soundtrack. His persistence didn’t stop there. In order to convince the studio to shoot the opening of An Officer and a Gentleman in the Philippines (which sets up Richard Gere’s backstory), he agreed that any expenditures that went over budget for the additional shooting would be taken out of his own salary. Paramount never realized what an amazing movie they had, until it sold so well and became such a success. “Nothing is ever predictable,” Taylor told the students. “All you can do is keep your vision. That is all you have.”

    While shooting The Idol Maker, Taylor was not as experienced as a director. He came onto set with a very detailed plan as to how he wanted to shoot everything. However, his cinematographer and 1st AD had different opinions, and since they were much more experienced than him, Taylor ended up using their ideas. When he saw the dailies two days later, Taylor realized he had made a big mistake–the drama wasn’t there and the shots didn’t mean anything. After that, Taylor remained firm in following his own vision. There was a reason he was hired to direct the movie. “You have to make decisions. If you must, ‘get on with it’ and you can’t ‘take your time.’ Time is money with filmmaking. Preparation is key–you can work through most of your potential mistakes if you think it out ahead of time.”

    Taylor now directs a scene without providing blocking instructions to his actors and tells them to “do the scene.” The actors typically find a few great moments that Taylor will incorporate into the scene. This way the actor feels like he is using their ideas and he’s able to include some spontaneous moments that he hadn’t thought of. Directors have to learn how to work with an actor until they can catch them in an authentic moment. Taylor used the example of working with Keanu Reeves who is not, at first, as spontaneous as Al Pacino. He would have to do eight takes with Keanu before he would break out of his preconceived notions of how to perform. This is a tactic that he had to employ as a director, which worked for this particular scenario.

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    September 23, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 9656

  • How Long Should a Short Film Be?

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    My September One-Year Filmmaking students are screening their thesis films this week and, once again, this issue of length has come up. Although we recommend that students keep their films to 10-15 minutes, many of my students have made films that are 20-25 minutes.

    The problem is that film festivals are inundated with hundreds, sometimes thousands of film submissions all competing for a place in, what is in all likelihood, a 2-hour program of shorts. Because festivals often have a cut off of 30-minutes for short films, few of these films get accepted. Film festivals want to help and support as many filmmakers as they possibly can, and accepting a 25-minute film into the festival means the five 5-minute filmmakers are going to be excluded.

    So, my advice to my students (and makers of short films, in general) is to keep the film as short as possible. Naturally, you have to do justice to your stories. You can’t squeeze a 30-minute story into a 10-minute package without ruining it. But there’s no question in my mind that with every minute you add to the length of your film, the odds of getting your film accepted decreases.

    Case in point: When my son Bret was 14, he took our summer program for high school students. In that program, he made 3 very short films. The first was 90 seconds, the second 2.5 minutes, and his last film 3 minutes. Although they were very well done for a first-time filmmaker, they were not brilliant. And yet he was able to get each of them into over 10 film festivals.

    Believe it or not, even a 90 second film will open doors for you. One of my son’s films, managed to get into the LA International, at which point, he was contacted by writers, composers and even agents. In fact, the agent who represents Renee Zellweger contacted him to see if he was interested in hiring Rene for his next film!  Now, clearly the agent did not know that he was dealing with a 14-year old. I imagine he (and the other agents) just download the names of the filmmakers from the festival website and start sending out email inquiries.

    So, although I understand that as you grow as a filmmaker it’s natural that you desire to make longer and longer films to demonstrate your ability to handle professional shoots, it is in your best interest to keep the running time short. Remember, festivals include your titles in the running time, so don’t put 5 minutes of credits at the end of the film. Many students are under the mistaken impression that the more names they can run past the screen at the end of their film, the more impressed the audience will be. The problem is that the audience has just seen your film and they’re only going to be as impressed as your film makes them. So keep your titles moving quickly. Just make sure they slow down when it gets to your name. After all, you’re the one you should be promoting.

    Food for thought.

    -Claude Kerven, NYFA NYC Chair of Filmmaking

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    August 26, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 83599

  • September One Year Filmmakers Preparing to Screen Thesis

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    Pater Familias poster

    Rasmas Roenberg’s thesis film “Pater Familias”

    This is an exciting time of year at the New York Film Academy. All of my September 1-Year filmmakers are preparing to screen their thesis films next week. 6 screenings in 4 days! It should be action packed and exhausting, but well worth the time to watch them all. You never know if one of the hard-working directors will surface with an outstanding project that will launch his or her career. Perhaps among them is the future Chris Nolan, Ang Lee or Kathryn Bigelow?

    If you’ve never been to one of our thesis screenings, it can be quite moving to see the intense bond that has formed among the students and how proud they are of themselves for having come so far in such a short period of time. It’s often amusing to remind them of their first film projects and watch them blush with embarrassment, as they recall how naïve they were when the first arrived and how much more confident and experienced they feel now – ready to take their place in the professional world of filmmaking.

    Baby Steps - Pic for Brochure

    Tomer Sinai’s thesis film “Baby Steps”

    No sooner do we say a fond farewell to those filmmakers than the new class of 1-Year students arrives, wide-eyed, fearful, and hungry for knowledge. How interesting it is to look out at the sea of fresh faces, wondering which among them will be next year’s standouts. There’s nothing like spending an entire year, nurturing and guiding these talented young minds, helping them evolve as visual storytellers. It’s a thrill awaiting the day, 1-year from now, when it will be their turn to screen their thesis films and stand upon the stage to accept their certificates in front of the adulation of a standing-room-only theater.

    Here we go!

    – Claude Kerven, NYFA NYC Filmmaking Chair

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    August 20, 2013 • Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 6377

  • The Brazilian Invasion

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    DeboraRodrigues&AlDanuzio2

    Over the years, the New York Film Academy has welcomed many talented actors and filmmakers from Brazil. This past year has provided much of the same. Acting for Film student, Al Danuzio, has worked as an actor in film, TV, and musical theater, working for Latin companies like Telemundo-NBC. The 24 year old actor, from Maranhão, has lived in the United States for five years now and hopes to eventually return to São Luis after he completes his studies at NYFA in 2015. “My goal is to be able to bring great productions from there (US) over here,” says Danuzio. “Bring professionals from there to here, produce things here to take there.”

    When asked about his experience at NYFA, Al says, “[NYFA] The best decision I ever made in my professional life. I feel I am being prepared by some of the top professionals in the film industry – people who are actually working. Also, I am surrounded by people who take the craft as a serious profession.”

    Al has also worked as an Assistant Producer of the New York Casting of La Voz Kids for Telemundo-NBC and El Factor X for Mundo Fox – both Spanish versions of the reality shows The Voice and The X Factor.

    This September, he plans to shoot a few more films, including How to Kill My Boyfriend, with NYFA director Alfonso Perugini, and Bom Dia with fellow NYFA Brazilian actress, Debora Rodrigues.

    Since coming over to study Acting for Film a year ago, Debora has acted in around 37 movies, booked two roles in plays, received an award for Best Short at the “Best Shorts Festival” in California, and performed at venues like Dixon Place, The Players Club, and Ripley Studios.

    “NYFA has been an amazing experience where you can make a lot of movies, meet a lot of people with the same interests, learn how to act on a movie set, and literally live your dream!” exclaims Debora. “Since starting, I have raised the bar on my overall goals. I will continue to work hard and apply everything that I’ve learned in class to the real world.”

    The two recently attended this year’s Brazilian Film Festival in New York City. The annual event honors the best and the brightest of Brazil’s innovative new cinema. It brings together Brazilian celebrities, actors, musicians, directors, producers, and, needless to say, is a terrific networking opportunity. “The quality and quantity of Brazilian productions have increased a lot in the last decade,” says Danuzio.

    Al and Debora are just two of the many talented actors, filmmakers and performers that have honed their craft at the New York Film Academy over the years. We look forward to meeting many more talents in our workshops in Rio and trips to São Paulo, as well as those who venture out to our LA and NYC locations.

     

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  • New York Film Academy Opens in Battery Park

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    Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.32.35 PM

    New York Film Academy Battery Park

    The New York Film Academy has opened the doors to its brand new campus, located at 17 Battery Place. The modern facility occupies 72,000 square feet on two full floors and offers breathtaking views of Battery Park and The Statue of Liberty. Each classroom was uniquely designed from scratch to meet the specific needs of the hands-on programs, including state-of-the-art production studios and sound stages.

    Summer Camp programs and Adult Musical Theatre programs have already begun, while Acting, Musical Theatre, Screenwriting, Producing, Photography, Journalism, and 3D Animation will kick off in the Fall. NYFA cannot be more thrilled to provide this wonderful new environment to its students, and is looking forward to meeting a whole new crop of talent!

    Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 12.37.14 PM

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  • From NYFA to FOX

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    Cody Broadway

    photo by Michael Fouché

    Given his passion for film and television production, Cody Broadway sought out the New York Film Academy in 2009 to decide what specifically he wanted to do in the field. “NYFA helped me with the skills and knowledge I needed to have in the real world.”

    After film school, Cody set his search for a career in either film or television. After coming across a position in FOX, Cody sent in his NYFA work for consideration. “They were very impressed with my work and brought me on at first as a host and producer of a show called FOX Live,” said Cody. “After about a month, they had an opening for a Promotions and Production Manager. They offered me the position and I took it.”

    Cody is currently the Promotions and Production Director for KIDY FOX San Angelo, as well as KXVA FOX Abilene. In the position, Cody oversees the production and promotions for FOX in both Texas markets. He has also helped create and host a show called FOX Live, which airs every Saturday in both markets. “Overall, I have been with FOX for 2 years now and believe that without the academy none of this would be possible.”

    Cody’s week consists of shooting and hosting the show, weekly production meetings, and working on promotional projects. For example, he is currently working on a local American Idol contest. Cody hopes to continue working at FOX with a major role in the company.

     

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    June 28, 2013 • Diversity, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5648