Filmmaking
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  • Filmmaking Alumnus John Jencks Returns to NYFA to Screen “The Hippopotamus”

    Earlier this month, New York Film Academy Filmmaking alumnus John Jencks returned to NYFA Los Angeles to screen his feature film, “The Hippopotamus,” starring NYFA Board Member Matthew Modine.

    Having grown up in the UK, Jencks recalls his time as a student, hitting up three movies a day at the local theater. His fascination with films took a step further when he worked on a commercial shoot in Portgual with his friends. “I enjoyed the camaraderie of it all,” he said. Ultimately, Jencks relished the multitude of challenges and coming up with different solutions.

    john jencksIt was at that point that Jencks wanted to create his own projects under the tutelage of industry professionals in Los Angeles, where his father happened to live and teach at a local university.

    “I chose NYFA because they give you a camera and let you go on with it,” he said. “It’s an environment where I can make a lot of mistakes and then work them out with industry professionals.”

    While at NYFA, Jencks quickly found his clique who he bonded with and shot a series of short films that helped build his reel and filmmaking experience. After graduating from NYFA, he got a job at the production company, Muse. “I was the first person at work and the last person to leave, but as long as I kept a smile on my face, they’d keep giving me more and more responsibility,” said Jencks about his time with Muse.

    From there he took a job as a 3rd AD on a feature film that was filming in Utah. The film, “Blind Dating,” which starred Chris Pine, introduced Jencks to a fairly large budget production.

    He then went on to produce “Lying” which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, though things didn’t go quite as he’d hoped. “I was booed by the crowd. I believe the film may have been too pretentious, even for the French,” he quipped. Nevertheless, Jencks pressed on in his career, starting his own production company, Electric Shadow Company.

    Jencks has now been working in the film industry for over 10 years as a producer, writer and director. His short film, “Go Away, Please!” (2009) won the Shooting People prize at London Short Film Festival. His debut feature, “The Fold,” starred Catherine McCormack and got its cinematic release in 2013.

    Interestingly enough, back in 2002, while staying at producer Roger Corman’s home, Jencks noticed Stephen Fry’s novel, “The Hippopotamus,” resting alongside his guest bed. “I laughed and laughed,” said Jencks. “I responded very well to the protagonist and antagonist. I thought this story would do well if we were able to take the essence of it and provide a traditional narrative structure.”

    Years later he acquired the rights to the novel and directed the film under his production company.

    When it comes to directing his actors, Jencks talks about using the script as the blueprint to abide by, and how he interprets it is a really interesting journey. His job is to ensure each and every talented actor is on the same page. “You have to tie everything together. That’s the job of the director,” he adds.

    Aside from his directing credits, Jencks has executive producer credits on “Swallows and Amazons” (Andrew Scott, Rafe Spall and Kelly Macdonald); “The Trust” (Nic Cage and Elijah Wood), “Terminal” (Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Mike Myers) and “The Crow” remake.

    As for his role as executive producer, Jencks says he trusts his directors and tries not to get involved with the creative.

    john jencks

    NYFA Dean of the College Sonny Calderon with John Jencks

    Outside of the entertainment business, Jencks is a family man and a keen advocate of human rights. He’s closely involved with Reprieve and Just for Kids Law.

    He is the proud custodian of the internationally renowned “Garden of Cosmic Speculation” designed and created by his father, architect and landform artist Charles Jencks and late mother Maggie Keswick Jencksat, at their family home near Dumfries. His parents are also the founders of Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, which now have 17 units at major NHS cancer hospitals throughout the UK and overseas.

    For those with an affinity for wine, Jencks is also passionate about natural wine and is a part owner of Aubert and Mascoli Ltd, which supplies organic and biodynamic wine to some of the UK’s best restaurants and various discerning private clients.

    April 14, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1664

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Alumnus Works on “Pacific Rim 2” and “Jungle”

    Joe TiernanSince graduating from the Filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy, Gold Coast, Joe Tiernan worked on back-to-back blockbuster projects such as “Pacific Rim 2” and “Jungle,” starring Daniel Radcliffe.

    With credits including Australian features “Australia Day,” “Flammable Children” and “Boar,” Tiernan believes NYFA has him well prepared for working in the real world of film and television. “Understanding on-set lingo is essential. I’m happy that was well covered at NYFA,” says Joe.

    Tiernan’s brush with legendary Australian actor Geoffrey Rush during the filming of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” at Village Roadshow Studios is one of his fondest memories of student life at NYFA Gold Coast.

    Discussing the making of a movie about his life, Tiernan explains, “Well, I’m a sucker for a good rom-com and I think Domnhall Gleeson is a champ.” The title? “Redheads,” says Joe.

    The opportunities keep on coming for Joe: “I’ve got two more Art Department gigs lined up on some local features this year though the grand plan is to get on a ‘Star Wars’ set, then I can die a happy man.”

  • NYFA Grad’s “Check Your Mate” Wins at the Los Angeles Short Film Festival

    eliza bolshWe are pleased to announce that New York Film Academy alumna Eliza Bolsh’s film “Check your Mate” won Best Short at the Los Angeles Short Awards Film Festival! Bolsh also won the nomination for “Best Female Director” at the European Film Festival, as well as awards and nominations at other film festivals. This summer, the film will screen at the Cannes Film Festival and at the Mediterranean Film Festival in Italy.

    We had the opportunity to speak with Eliza despite her busy festival schedule.

    Eliza, congrats on your awards! Can you please tell us about your film?

    “Check your Mate” is a drama with deep emotional overtones. It tells us about a successful emancipated elderly woman. She used to manage her life as she wanted. She built a career and her life, and now she likes to teach the others, even if they don’t ask about it. Since she plays chess well, she uses her ability to see how much a person is afraid. She especially likes to play with her sister’s grandson. She teaches him strategies in business and always wins. One day, his wedding is at stake. He needs to win whatever it takes. But to do it he must find her weak spot.

    I was inspired by the fact that in my childhood my grandfather played chess with me. He skillfully linked the moves with real life strategies. He provided me with great food for meditation. Now I understand that it was an invaluable experience. There is a simple, vital and profound human history at the heart of my film.

    What were some of the difficulties you faced while creating your film?

    The budget was small, only $15,000. We worked at night to observe the context of the mystery. At the heart of it were two very complicated chess games, created for this film by a professional. The actors had a difficult task to remember all the moves, and, in fact, they had not played before.

    What made you decide to attend the New York Film Academy Los Angeles?

    Los Angeles is the meridian of world cinema, so I chose to study at the New York Film Academy. I have always been a creative person — that’s why I wanted to be realized on a world-wide basis.

    Are you currently working on anything else that you’d like to share?

    Recently I opened my production company, Boldman Bolsh Production, LLC in Los Angeles, which helps other people realize and implement their projects. We create music videos, commercials, films and all stages of the production, starting with the legal registration of documents, finishing with the construction of the set, castings, photography.

    I have far-reaching plans. I want to create global projects and develop my company in all directions. I’m also writing a script for a series. I plan to start shooting at the end of this year, or the beginning of next year. I hope audiences will love it.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Eliza Bolsh for taking the time to speak with us.

    April 6, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1487

  • MFA Honors Mixer at NYFA LA

    On Monday, March 13th, MFA Honors students gathered in the Riverside Building on the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus to be recognized for their outstanding achievements. Los Angeles Director Dan Mackler and Dean of College Sonny Calderon were in attendance to speak to some of the outstanding students.

    honors mixer

    A dessert bar filled with doughnuts, cakes, and other sweets lined the walls. Students mingled around standing tables, discussing upcoming projects and doing a bit of networking. MFA student Carmen Nelson said she was delighted with the staff, stating, “It’s definitely different than my undergrad experience, and I’m so appreciative.”

    Zandi Zima, a Filmmaking student said, “We found out that we’re doing well and there’s a whole evening to celebrate us!” Her frequent collaborator, NYFA student, Roberto Jadue cut in with, “We’re spoiled.” Jadue came around saying, “No, it’s nice to know that people care about you; that your hard work is being recognized.”

    Calderon and Mackler spent the better part of the evening speaking directly with students about their expectations for upcoming assignments. When asked why he felt events such as these were important Calderon said, “I believe that what you get at NYFA as a student is more personal attention. I have seen that the people that succeed here are the ones who take advantage of these resources. Events like this help make sure that our wonderful students know they can come to us for help.”

    In his speech to the students at the end of the night, Mackler said, “You guys represent us very well. I’ve given all of you my card. E-mail me. I want to hear from you guys. I’m always dealing with little fires that have to be put out. I want to hear from great students. I want you guys to take advantage of the resources we can give you now and after graduation. I’m happy to help in any way.”

    The New York Film Academy applauds the hard work of the Honor Students enrolled in the Masters Program. We look forward to seeing their next great work.

    April 4, 2017 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1274

  • Director Brian DeCubellis Screens “Manhattan Night” at NYFA NYC

    It was a film noir night for New York Film Academy Filmmaking students, who were treated to Brian DeCubellis‘ new film, “Manhattan Night,” coincidentally on a rainy night in lower Manhattan. The film stars Academy Award winner, Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Campbell Scott, and Jennifer Beals. Porter, played by Brody, is an investigative Daily News reporter who becomes involved with a mysterious woman, Strahovski, while investigating her late husband’s death.

    brian decubellis

    Brian DeCubellis with NYFA Filmmaking Chair, Claude Kerven

    Director Decubellis has written and directed films,  TV shows, commercials,  music videos and branded programming for MTV, Fox, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, Teen Nick, ABC and more. Formerly the founding Creative Director at MTV and Viacom’s creative group Scratch, his work has been recognized with an Effie Award, Ava Platinum Award, Creativity Annual, Beacon Award, Mobius Award, Gracie Award, Prism Award, the prestigious Peabody Award, Telly Award, and an Emmy nomination.

    He has directed programming with over 300 recording artists for MTV Networks as well as RollingStone.com and getmusic.com where he was the in-house video director.

    DeCubellis, who spoke to students after the screening, adapted the screenplay from the Colin Harrison novel, “Manhattan Nocturne.” From the moment he wanted to adapt the book until the film was in the theaters, was a span of about 17 years. While his background is in creating short content for TV and branded campaigns, DeCubellis had been motivated since film school to be a feature filmmaker and storyteller. He advised students to “keep making your stuff and building your reel. Keep writing if you’re a writer. Keep making shorts to really hone your craft, so you’re ready when you have that opportunity.”

    He also suggested that screenwriters read Blake Snyder’s, “Save the Cat,” and to truly work on their script until it is at a professional level and is enticing for actors. “When you’re writing the script, think of the actors and why they would like to do this.” Not only do you want to have talented actors in your film, investors want to see a package with known talent attached.

    DeCubellis also stressed the importance of knowing the financial side of the business, especially as an independent movie director. At the end of the day, you’re the one with the vision, and you’re the only one who can be the driving force behind your first feature film.

    Manhattan Night” is now available on VOD.

     

    April 3, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1488

  • NYFA Grad’s “The Kobal Report” Screens at LA Film Awards and NYC Indie Film Awards

    the kobal reportRecent New York Film Academy Filmmaking graduate Javier Alfonso Bartolozzi’s thesis film, “The Kobal Report,” has been selected to screen at the Los Angeles Film Awards, NYC Indie Film Awards, and it will also appear at the Cannes Short Film Corner in May 2017.

    His film is about a depressed journalist, Colin, who has no aspirations and winds up meeting a cruel “vigilante,” killing criminals in New York. Colin sees him as an opportunity to grow professionally and to fulfill his empty life, with inevitably disastrous results.

    “I wrote the script so that the audience can decide what is right or wrong,” he said. “It’s ‘take law into your own hands’ — a way to give justice.”

    Bartolozzi came to NYFA from Spain. He says he was looking for a school to not only network with like-minded individuals, but also work with students from all over the world.
    “I had the support of a lot of teachers, classmates and, of course, NYFA helped with all the equipment,” said Bartolozzi. “Also, I learned a lot from my instructors, especially from the screenwriting class.”

    Bartolozzi is currently writing a couple new short films, but is still in the early stages of the process.

    “My goal is to create stories to create emotions in people,” says Bartolozzi. “I also want to produce all the crazy ideas I have in my mind. I’m not interested in prizes or festivals, I just want to work as a filmmaker and make a living in the industry.”

    March 30, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1390

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Grad Works on “Thor” and “Aquaman”

    Former New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast student, Damian Lang, has shot three award-winning short films thus far, and has worked as a Location Assistant on major Hollywood films like “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Aquaman,” both of which were filmed in the Gold Coast. Between his on-set experience and filmmaking background, Lang says he is currently working on an idea for his first feature film.

    damian lang

    Below is Lang’s description of his three award-winning shorts:

    “Unauthorised Tears”

    “This film is about trying to re-connect with people, woman particularly. I returned from Afghanistan with the Australian Infantry a few years back and developed some mental issues, which unfortunately ended in me losing my wife and job. This sent me on a bit of a downward spiral, but I always forced myself to get out and push through. The events in the film actually happened multiple times — just not usually with a fairy-tail ending.”

    Screenings:

    Caymen, Int Film Festival
    Stage One, Int Film Festival (Won ACS Best Cinematography)
    Long Beach Indie, Int Film Festival
    Screen IT, Gold Coast Film Festival
    Austin Revolution, Film Festival

    “Diamond In The Rough”

    “This film is about understanding your own beauty and worth. I went through a faze where I was trying to build myself into another person to attract certain types of women into my life. I found out it’s not very sustainable or fair on the other person.”

    Screenings:

    Colorado, Int Film Festival (Won Best Student Short)
    Fort Worth, Indie Film Festival
    International Video and Music Awards
    Roma, Cinemadoc Film Festival

    “The First Step”

    This film is about re-connecting even if it isn’t the easiest route, and also about betrayal at the most unexpected times. The idea stems from when I was in Afghanistan and there were multiple ego driven orders that put us in unnecessary danger. Duty first is what we always did, but now we have to live with the outcomes and the question ‘why’.”

    Screenings: (This film is still on the festival scene until December 2017)

    Around Films, Int Film Festival (Won Best Short film)
    Hollywood Screenings, Film Festival (Semi-finalist)

    Lang also directed a music video for the Gold Coast based DJ duo “Bombs Away,” which was featured on MTV.

  • Juanjo Gimenez Screens Palm d’Or Winning Short “Timecode” at NYFA LA

    Juanjo Gimenez brought his Oscar-nominated and Palm d’Or winning short “Timecode” to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. The writer and director stayed after the screening to discuss his short shoot schedule, the difference between features and shorts, and what he has planned for the future.

    Juanjo Gimenez

    Gimenez has been working in the film industry for over twenty years. Highlights of his career include “Tilt,” “Maxima Pena,” and “Esquivar y Pegar.” His experience in film isn’t limited to writing and directing. Editor, Cinematographer, Actor, Producer and Sound are all titles Gimenez has held on various sets making him a true student of cinema.

    NYFA students were thrilled to discuss the short turn around of “Timecode.” Gimenez informed the crowd that from concept to sale, to the final shoot day, was only fourteen days. Developed with a local university Gimenez instituted cost saving measures to bring the film in at cost.

    Using students as part of the crew offered an educational experience. The garage in which the film was shot was offered to them for free. Gimenez didn’t go into detail about how, but he was able to get a RED Dragon for almost nothing. The monitors through which the security guards watch one another are the same monitors on which “Timecode” was edited.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Gimenez for taking the time to speak with our students. You can learn more about Gimenez and follow his creative journey by clicking here.

    March 28, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1240

  • NYFA Acting for Film Grad’s “Proceed with Caution” Available on Amazon

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alumnus Kojo Boama’s newest short film, “Proceed With Caution,” has been picked up by Amazon Prime video. “Proceed with Caution,” written by NYFA alumnus Joey Colebut, is about an upcoming NYC music producer who stumbles on his way to stardom by getting his mistress pregnant. The film has been talked about by major hip-hop artists such as P.Diddy, Jadakiss, and Swizz Beatz.

    We had a chat with Boama to find out more about his new film, and about how aspiring filmmakers should never give up.

    Hi Kojo. Can you tell us where you’re from and what brought you to NYFA?

    I was born in Ghana, West Africa and raised in Harlem, NY. My mother lived in London and had me educated in England as well. She was going to have me stay and live the rest of my life there, so NYFA in NY was an alternative escape route to move back in with my father up in Harlem while seeking to further my education and study a craft.

    And the craft you studied was Acting for Film. Can you tell us about your experience in NYFA’s Acting for Film program?

    I absolutely loved the acting program. Meisner technique is an essential tool I still use today: always listening to determine the true meaning underneath a person’s statement was a technique that was very useful in the making of this film. This is because I had to multitask around the set — produce, semi-direct and clean the set while playing the lead role. So aside from memorizing my lines, actually paying attention to other actors responses helped save me from potential bad acting.

    kojo boama

    How did this short film come about? What made you want to create “Proceed with Caution”?

    This short film was written by fellow NYFA student Joey Colebut, who had originally had me act in his final showcase at NYFA. I fell in love with the process. Most of our journey can be found on our episodic youtube documentary called “Never Give Up,” which showcases the trials and tribulation it took to actually make this project a reality. “Proceed with Caution” was scheduled to be wrapped in six months, but due to setbacks it ended up taking four years. (Below is the first episode of “Never Give Up.”)

    You have some really notable hip-hop artists and celebrities talking about your film. How did that come about?

    Due to the hardships of making this project a reality, I always had to plot ahead to see how I could overcome any giving situation. Initially, I worked over at CBS and used to rush down celebrities every time they came by to get some endorsements. One endorsement from Jack Thriller, which I actually got on 125th street in Harlem, helped turn this project around. I knew that hiring my co-star, Jack Thriller, who is signed with 50 Cent, and is talked about in the streets to be the next Kevin Heart, would help open other doors to various people within the entertainment business. (Check out this episode for more details.)

    Why do you believe people should see your film?

    Aside from the fact that it’s mere entertainment, I also want to give aspiring artists hope that they could do it as well. Thus, the making of the behind the scenes episodic documentary “Never Give Up.”

    What do you hope to achieve with this film?

    I hope this film helps open doors for me to grow as a filmmaker within the industry, and for me to be able to make a few feature films.

    Are you planning to film a feature version of “Proceed with Caution”?

    I could make a feature version of this project if need be, but I have already written another feature, “Blue Grease,” which I believe would be a great challenge for me if I’m able to accomplish it. “Blue Grease” is an urban love and basketball themed movie.

    We wish you the best of luck with everything!

    If you’re interested in checking out “Proceed with Caution,” CLICK HERE.

    March 28, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1967

  • NYFA Alumna’s Thesis Film “My Lover Never Came” Wins Three Awards at NYC Indie Film Awards

    Growing up in Myanmar, Moe Myat May Zarchi was very interested in a variety of movies from art house cinema to american independent films, and also reading about film history. Though adept to the storytelling aspects of filmmaking, Zarchi decided to pursue the Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy to learn how to make a film professionally and systematically. While in the program, Zarchi directed her thesis film, “My Lover Never Came,” which she says is about “the process of destruction in identity and sense of direction in this world for wanting something that you would never get back.” The protagonist is a young woman who is waiting and searching for her mysterious lover. It is told subtly in the form of a visual narrative using words and photographic frames.

    my lover never came

    “We had about four months to film our thesis film from writing scripts to production,” said Zarchi. “But just about three weeks before shooting my original script, I had to cancel it because of property rights. I went through an anxiety induced state as it felt too rushed for me to come up with a new idea, a new story. So I decided to take my mind from it. By chance, I came across photographer Duane Michels’ photo sequences, and one of his particular series made me think of this idea. I could personally relate to it so much that I need to make a film of it. The visual style is also an adaption of his photographs.”

    So far the film has screened in New Filmmakers NY and won three awards at NYC Indie Film Awards (Best Short Film, Best Director and Best Editing).

    my lover never came

    “The experience at NYFA was indeed very useful,” said Zarchi. “It totally made me consider all the production aspects of turning an idea into a film; how to balance the budget, draw the timeline, get all the rights, working with a big team and handling the stress. But the most important tip I learned from NYFA is the question ‘why?’ Knowing why I choose a particular frame or movement, the color palette, the production design, the acting style, the pace, and the rhythm, makes me really dig into knowing my film as a director. It really brings out all the emotions and tones from a film.”

    Zarchi is currently working on post-production of a short film she shot in New York, after graduating NYFA. She’s also working on a script for a feature film, which she intends to shoot Myanmar.

    March 27, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2882