A packed and enthusiastic screening room at New York Film Academy’s Union Square campus was the scene of an exclusive showing of the new film Tangerine last night. As part of the Producing Department’s Industry Speaker series, students and faculty from all departments participated in a “Conversation with” and Question and Answer session with producer and NYFA Instructor Darren Dean, director and co-writer Sean Baker, cinematographer Radium Cheung, producer and costume designer Shih-Ching Tsou, and actors Karren Karagulian and James Ransone (The Wire).Led by Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman, the spirited conversation explored the producer/director relationship, and the team’s continuing collaboration on several films over more than eight years. Cinematographer Cheung described the process filming the entire movie with the iPhone, and Director Sean Baker ran down the technical work flow in this unprecedented approach to feature filmmaking. Sean also shared with the audience his genesis of the project, and his experiences during the extensive seven month research and development process that culminated in the script. Filmed on a micro-budget, with an assist from Executive Producers Jay and Mark Duplass, Tangerine is being distributed by Magnolia Pictures.The film opens July 10 in New York and Los Angeles.
Recently, one of our Russian filmmaking students, Sergei Frante, was asked to shoot a video spot for Nike in Moscow (seen above).
“To be honest, this was one of the coolest projects I’ve ever worked on,” said Frante. “Once again, I realized how important the vibe is on set. With the right vibe, we can really produce magic.”
Frante says getting to know the inside scoop on how Hollywood operates has been extremely helpful during his time at the New York Film Academy. “When you know how things should be done from directors’ and producers’ points of view, you can really accomplish a lot on set and be more dedicated to the creative aspects of the project.”
Frante is currently developing a television series with his friend and collaborator Alexander Babaev. The two are hoping to launch the series in Los Angeles by the end of 2015.
“As for my filmmaking career, I want to get on the level that Tarkovsky and Kubrick were on. I’m a big fan of old movies— without digital technology— when filmmaking was truly magical. I want to touch the hearts of the people, make them think and inspire them. Filmmaking is a form of art and has its own instruments to let the director speak, so I just want to keep on talking.”
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.This past Monday, June 23rd, the
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!
At a gala sponsored by the San Angelo Library, former New York Film Academy student Cody Broadway, director of the film She Rides Bulls, pulled back the curtains on his new dramatic short film, to a crowd of over 200 well wishers, crew members and public. The film was produced in and around San Angelo with a cast and crew from all over Texas, including seasoned professionals and amateurs all drawn to the project by its unique, thrilling story and the dynamic will power of its director.
The project began back in 2008, when the writer, Greg Mcgee, was a commercial producer at a San Angelo TV station (not coincidentally, where he met Cody Broadway).
“I had always been a fan of the rodeo — especially the bull riding competitions,” said Mr. McGee. “I’d been looking for a script idea to sink my teeth into, and for some crazy reason I came up with the idea of a girl going toe to toe against all those macho cowboys in the PBRA. It was just outlandish enough…but not something I figured any sane woman would actually DO anytime soon. I sat down one Friday night and started writing. The words were leaping on to the page. I knew I was onto something, because the script was virtually writing itself.”
The first person Greg showed it to was Cody. Greg was something of a mentor to Cody at the time, as this was Cody’s first industry job, and it was a “late career” job for Greg. “When I read the script, I literally BEGGED Greg to let me direct it,” said Cody. “It was such a great story. As a country boy from San Angelo, the rodeo setting and the strong family values in the story had a strong impact on me. It was something I knew I could do better than anybody else in the world, if I was given the chance.”
“I couldn’t pass up commitment like that,” said Greg. “Of course I promised him he could direct it, with one caveat. He’d have to raise the money to get it done, because I was a writer, not a producer.” It took a few years, but Cody never forgot that promise, and never forgot the script She Rides Bulls. Flash forward to 2015. Cody was a producer at the CBS affiliate in San Antonio with all his ducks in a row to make a short promotional film for She Rides Bulls. He called in favors from cameramen and lighting professionals, make up artists, designers and props people. Everybody in San Angelo wanted go get involved, so before you knew it, Cody had a herd of bulls, some stunt cowboys and wranglers, horses, locations — everything fell into place perfectly.
“I have a fantastic amount of support from my friends and family. It was sort of like a snowball effect. First, they read the script. Then, they saw my determination in my eyes. And then, they were on board.”
The film was shot over a long weekend in and around San Angelo, Texas. Working from a 20-page script provided by Greg McGee, based on the original screenplay, Cody used up to 4 simultaneous cameras to capture all the bull riding sequences. “We had some really talented riders from the local rodeo circuit. They were willing to do just about anything to get the shots we needed. It was really exciting to work with these guys,” said Broadway.
Mr. Shawn Berryhill, who raises bulls and runs a bull riding school in San Angelo, furnished the bulls. “These weren’t amateur bulls,” says Mr. Berryhill. “They’re the same bulls I supply to rodeos all over Texas. They’re professionals, with over 100 years of breeding for one thing: to hate having a man on their back.
The star of the movie is Melina Lyon, playing the role of Darlene, our bull riding diva. Melina is an accomplished horsewomen as well as a talented actress, but she’d never ridden a bull before. “This was a great role for me. Working with Cody and Michael (Lukaszewskyj, the Director of Photography) and the rest of the crew was an awesome experience. But, in real life, I think I’m going to stick to riding horses. Bulls are just too freakin’ crazy!”
Cody was not only the director and the producer; he was also the movie’s editor. In less than 30 days, Cody had it finished and ready for the big screen. “We shot most of it on 4K video, which is a huge frame,” says Cody. “It gave me a lot of options in the editing room, such as cropping in on various parts of the picture to get the composition just right, and not sacrificing image quality. There was a lot of footage from multiple cameras, so it was a complicated editing job. It helped a lot to be the guy who shot it as well. I didn’t have to waste time figuring out where all the shots were. I already knew.”
After a very successful first screening in San Angelo and San Antonio, Cody has entered the short movie in numerous festivals in the U.S. and Europe. “We’re hot on the trail of funding for the full feature film. There’s a lot of interest. I can’t say any more or I’d have to lock you in the stall with my favorite bull. Just kidding.”
Announcements are forthcoming about major talent being attached to the project!
The New York Film Academy is proud to be a Supporting Sponsor at the 18th Brooklyn Film Festival. This year, the festival received 2,331 films coming from 114 countries and selected 109 film premieres coming from 26 countries.
“Our film competition has been incredibly successful,” said Brooklyn Film Festival Director, Marco Ursino. “The great thing is that our audience, professionals or not, truly enjoyed all of the films.”
As part of our sponsorship, NYFA’s President Michael Young was on hand to present a tuition scholarship to the Best New Director Award-Winner, Robert Gregson, for his film The Refrigerator. The Brooklyn-based filmmakers’s film focuses on the lives of Howie and Mark, two broke friends who happen to find a refrigerator on the street. Inside the fridge, they discover the way to another dimension. Greed, drunkenness and hilarity ensue.
We’d like to congratulate Mr. Gregson, as well as the other winners and competitors in the festival. Mr. Gregson’s scholarship entitles him to attend an 8-Week Workshop to one of our many locations around the world. For a full list of this year’s winners, visit the Brooklyn Film Festival’s official website at http://www.brooklynfilmfestival.org/winners/.
We look forward to supporting next year’s Brooklyn Film Festival!
As a nationally accredited and degree granting college, the New York Film Academy has been privileged over the last few years to enroll hundreds of veteran students at our campuses in both New York City and Los Angeles. To further give back to our veteran and military community, the New York Film Academy in Battery Park held an event exclusive for veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project.
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured servicemembers, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.
The daylong event began with a speech from Colonel Jack Jacobs, NYFA’s Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program. Jacobs has served as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division, executive officer of an infantry battalion in the 7th Infantry Division, and commanded the 4th Battalion 10th Infantry in Panama. A member of the faculty of the US Military Academy, Colonel Jacobs taught international relations and comparative politics for three years, and he was a member of the faculty of the National War College in Washington, DC. He was in Vietnam twice, both times as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions, and he is among the most highly decorated soldiers from that era, having earned three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat decoration.
Jacobs spoke in depth about the importance of veterans in Media and Film, and joined the Warriors for lunch after his inspirational speech. After that, the Warriors were given two truly hands-on workshops in both filmmaking and acting for film.
“It was an honor and privilege doing this event for the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Director of Performing Arts Enrollment, Roger Del Pozo. “They did a fantastic job in the workshop, and they were very inspiring — it was an amazing experience.”
An award-winning Top Military Friendly School, the New York Film Academy is dedicated to helping veterans achieve their educational and career goals. Many of NYFA programs are approved for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the New York Film Academy proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
For more information about NYFA’s Veterans Benefits, Resources and Alumni, please visit https://www.nyfa.edu/veterans/
Directing commercials can not only be a creative and rewarding career, it can also propel directors into the world of feature directing. Just have a look at David Fincher or Michel Gondry’s early career in the film business.
One of our 8-Week Filmmaking graduates, Francisco Miranda, directed a commercial in his hometown of Portugal, which recently won the grand prize in the prestigious “Galp Create” publicity contest. The video is a 30 second spot for Tangerina.
“I attribute a huge part of this success to the New York Film Academy,” said Miranda. “Back in school, I gained a lot of knowledge in the classes that I was part of. The movies that I made at NYFA with my fellow students were very important to improve my craft and become a director.”
Have a look at Miranda’s award-winning spot below!
Urban Possibilities and New York Film Academy Team Up For Spoken Word Performance and Story Encounter
New York Film Academy students worked with survivors of homelessness to present a spoken word and musical performance at the NYFA Theater at the Los Angeles campus in May. Urban Possibilities is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the homeless and working poor. Urban Possibilities’ alumni performed spoken word pieces about their lives developed during one of UP’s writing workshops. NYFA Acting students Fernando Sambora and Roman Arnaize performed a musical interlude for the full house of enthusiastic NYFA students and faculty.
The next day, NYFA screenwriting, filmmaking, and documentary students participated in a unique daylong workshop facilitated by Urban Possibilities. NYFA students were paired with Urban Possibilities students to interview one another and share their personal stories. After an hour of heart-to-heart conversation, each person was asked to write a profile of the person they’d been speaking to. Touching, surprising and sometimes extraordinary bonds between the pairs were revealed. One NYFA student called it “an unforgettable day of learning and feeling and writing a truly original piece.” Another said, “I loved it. It was enlightening, inspirational, transformational and eye-opening.”
Eyvette Jones Johnson, Founder and CEO of Urban Possibilities said, “When we exchange our stories, bonds are created and biases begin to melt away no matter what our zip codes may be. That’s important in a world often violently divided by race and class — one that our students navigate daily.”
Queens of Flesh & Blood is a fashion piece statement that celebrates the hard-working women who inhabit one of the toughest cities in the world. Shot in the streets of New York City by New York Film Academy Cinematography alumna Michelle Cassis, the film is an anthem to real, persevering women who strive daily to conquer the concrete jungle. It is a film that captures and showcases New York City in its essence — by telling the story through New York’s most iconic signs and billboards.
“This film is dedicated to real women, with the hopes of inspiring them,” said Cassis. “My goal was to shoot a fashion film with a strong story and message — not just pretty shots — but an inspiring film to the audience. I wanted to jump out of the glamor of couture and editorial and come up with a down-to-earth fashion film that women all around the world could relate to.”
Cassis creates an homage to strong women while at the same time using New York as a character of the story. “These women, these queens, are out there, we see them everyday,” Cassis concludes.
The video was shot in New York last October. The crew consisted of other NYFA graduates:
- Producer Anthony Argento
- Jieun Shim and Mihyun Park from South Korea, both assistant cameras and graduates from the Cinematography course
- Tomas Velasques, from Colombia, who helped Ming as his gaffer
- Mariana Araujo, from Brazil, was assistant director
- Jorge Godinez, from Mexico, was the production designer
“I’m really grateful to the entire crew,” added Cassis. “Without their hard-work and help the film wouldn’t be what it is today.”
Shot with the Arri Alexa and the Optica Elite Anamorphic Primer lenses in 50mm and 70mm, cinematographer Ming Jue Hu said, “The look for each character is inspired by the space they live in. We were going for a romantic realism.”
In regards to the casting process, Cassis said while she wasn’t necessarily looking for a specific look, diversity was the main goal. The team ended up casting Darin Itdhanuvekin from Thailand, and Lidiia Vidrenko and Alexandra Chelaru from Russia.
Have a look at Michelle’s video in its entirety below.
With summer approaching, we’ve been looking back at what some of our High School Summer Camp graduates are working on today. Last week, we stumbled across a “Short of the Week” from New York Film Academy Summer Camp alumnus, Eli Shapiro. His award-winning film, Ike Interviews God, tackles the potential apocalyptic doom of our society in a somewhat dark yet comedic way. As the director puts it, the initial premise of the film was quite simple: if you could have a private conversation with God, what would you ask Her?
“I wanted to make fun of what would actually happen during a major religious event today,” said Shapiro. “How news stations would exploit it, how people would try to make money out of it, how they’d cast Ryan Gosling for the movie adaptation.”
While Shapiro practices the Jewish faith, he wanted the film to make people laugh regardless of his or her beliefs. “I think everyone — atheists and religious people — have these cosmic questions.”
To date, Shapiro’s short has screened at several film festivals, including the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival 2014, Screen Actor’s Guild Foundation Film Showcase 2014, DC Shorts Film Festival 2014, Montclair Film Festival 2014, and Hollyshorts Monthly Screening Series 2015.
Have a look at his award-winning short in its entirety below.