• “Men of Honor” Filmmakers Visit NYFA LA

    Following a screening of Men of Honor, students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus welcomed Director George Tillman, Jr., Producer Robert Teitel, and Cinematographer and NYFA Cinematography Chair Anthony Richmond, for a Q&A. Men of Honor, starring Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Charlize Theron, is based on the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, a man who overcame racism and the amputation of his left leg to become the first U.S Navy Master Diver. NYFA’s Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, moderated the event.

    tillman and teitel

    Director George Tillman, Jr. and Producer Robert Teitel

    George Tillman, Jr. is a director/producer/writer, best known for the Barbershop franchise, Notorious, a film about rapper Notorious B.I.G., Faster, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, The Longest Ride.” Tillman also wrote, directed and produced the award-winning film Soul Food, with his producing partner, Robert Teitel. Teitel is a producer best known for his work on Tillman’s films, as well as Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and Nothing Like the Holidays (for which he wrote the story). NYFA Cinematography Chair and Cinematographer Anthony Richmond has had a long and illustrious career, starting in the 1960s with the Rock and Roll scene, working with, Jean-Luc Goddard, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and then making his way into features on films such as The Man Who Fell to Earth, Legally Blonde, and The Sandlot, among many others. The tight-knit group reminisced about their experiences on Men of Honor, relating fascinating tales from the production, as well as invaluable words of wisdom.

    Tillman spoke very fondly of working with Robert De Niro. He related one episode on set in which the legendary actor picked up a phone while acting and the heavy prop struck him in the head. De Niro quickly regrouped and yelled for the cameras to “Keep rolling!” and to start the scene again. Without missing a beat De Niro recognized that this incident provided him an opportunity and he used the unexpected emotions to give a better performance in the next take.

    Cinematographer and NYFA Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond related a funny anecdote about his experience with the costume design for the film. A U.S. Navy ship provides the backdrop for the film, which of course means the story involves many sailors in uniform–white uniforms. Anyone who’s tried to film an actor wearing white knows that achieving proper exposure balance within the scene becomes very difficult. When Tony first got to set on the deck of the ship and saw a hundred extras wearing white under the blistering sun he said he almost had a heart attack. However, the highly skilled DP quickly found solutions to make all the shots work.


    NYFA’s Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, Director George Tillman, Jr., Producer Robert Teitel, and NYFA LA Cinematography Chair, Anthony Richmond

    Producer Robert Teitel related the importance of how film school supplies students with the opportunity to create a “calling card” with which to break into the business. This is what he did with his 30-minute short Paula, which won several awards, including the Student Academy Award. This is also when he forged what was to become his very successful long-term partnership with George Tillman, Jr., who directed the short. The short helped Robert and George raise $150,000 and produced Scenes for the Soul, a feature film that was shot in Chicago, using local talent and resources. Scenes for the Soul was sold to Jackson-McHenry at Savoy Pictures for $1 million.

    We thank George Tilman, Jr., and Robert Teitel for visiting our school and wish them the best of luck in their careers!

    written by Melissa Enright and Robert Cosnahan

    June 23, 2016 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1066

  • POV Camera Operators Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev Talk Behind-the-Scenes of “Hardcore Henry”

    Recently, the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles screened the Sci-Fi action film, Hardcore Henry, which was shot almost entirely from a first-person perspective. Following the special screening, we were fortunate to welcome the extreme operators, Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev, who were behind the GoPro the entire time.


    After screening the film, Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev shared an exclusive behind-the-scenes trailer, which revealed the secrets of how this unflinchingly original wild-ride was actually made. It’s more complicated and dangerous than one would think.

    There were more than 100 working shifts, trainings with stunts teams, injuries, and other craziness. In one of the fight scenes Valyaev really punches Dementiev (who also played a character Slick Dmitry) in the face as hard as he can. When you shoot POV, the camera is so close to the face that you can’t perform a fight sequence in the usual way.

    Valyaev and Dementiev also recalled that there were a lot of scenes shot without any safety gear. One particular scene was when they were both running on top of the bridge. After four takes the entire crew was frozen, but, according to the talent, that was one of easiest scenes since both of them have over ten years of experience in parkour.

    Sergey Valyaev also discussed the invention of a special rig. He explained that in order to make viewers believe he is the main hero, the camera must be not be placed on the forehead area, as you would think, but on the mouth region. When the camera is in this position, it captures the body frame, which creates the effect of presence.

    In regards to what the hardest part of shooting Hardcore Henry was, Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev confessed that staying in one position and waiting for the command “action” was more difficult than anything else. Sometimes they would have to freeze in completely uncomfortable poses and hold it for hours, just so the continuity of the shot wouldn’t be ruined.

    Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev

    Valyaev and Dementiev answered dozens of questions from excited NYFA students and concluded: “Before learning how to fly you have to learn how to fall.” This rule applies to any field or profession.

    Be sure to check all Hardcore Henry behind the scene webisodes. You’ll be impressed!

    June 20, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2881

  • NYFA Alumna Livi Zheng Screens Debut Feature “Brush with Danger”

    On June 8th, New York Film Academy students were treated to an inspirational evening with one of their own when they attended a screening and Q&A with NYFA alumna, feature film director, and accomplished martial artist Livi Zheng.

    livi zheng

    Livi screened trailer clips from her first film, Brush with Danger, which she co wrote and starred in with her brother. She also screened press clips from her first film and exclusive behind the scenes from her second film.

    In addition Livi had good advice on the distribution process, one of the most difficult areas for new filmmakers to navigate. She addressed the topic of distributors pressuring to sell your movie immediately “take your time to make your decision. They want to rush you…once you sign, it’s binding,” she said.

    Livi began her academic career in economics before deciding to switch to filmmaking. A lifelong student of martial arts, she has been interested in filmmaking since she was fifteen years old because people in martial arts “do movies or coach.” She told the audience, however, that she sees a strong relationship between filmmaking and economics, telling the assembled students and guests,”Film is a business. It’s very related to economics, but you can learn [economics] by doing it—read a book or Google it.”

    June 16, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 664

  • MFA Filmmaking Grad Yolanda Centeno Directs Commercials with Grey Advertising

    Yolanda CentenoNew York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking alumna, Yolanda Centeno, has recently directed a viral campaign for one of the world’s top advertising and marketing organizations: GREY ADVERTISING GLOBAL.
    Centeno started enjoying a great deal of success in 2014 with her multi-awarded NYFA thesis film called Zugzwang, which was accepted into more than 400 film festivals around the world.

    All throughout 2015, Yolanda produced, directed and edited branded content video for international clients. She had several projects screen at a number of film festivals, but the biggest milestone has come while working for GREY.

    The clients, Real Academia Española (the official organization in Spain in charge of maintaining the purity and good use of the Spanish language), along with the Spanish Advertising Academy, were looking for a campaign that would discourage the use of Anglicisms in Spanish advertising. The majority of Spaniards don’t understand the real meaning of those words, which are simply used in advertising to embellish the delivery of the campaign.

    Based on that assignment, Grey’s creative directors discussed with director Yolanda Centeno what they could do to illustrate the misuse of anglicisms in Spain, in a way that was both effective and resonating.

    They came up with four commercials that were launched on TV and internet. After a few days, the campaign went officially viral, and the concept has been analyzed and spread in many news and shows around the country, as well as in other Spanish-speaking countries.

    The campaign has also been awarded two awards in the prestigious Ibero-American Advertising Film Festival, commonly known as “El Festival del Sol.”

    As a result of this project, Yolanda Centeno, is now represented commercially by Central Films production company located in California, México and Spain.

    June 13, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 674

  • Nuria Castro’s Dream Comes True in “Mirage”

    mirageThe idea for former New York Film Academy student Nuria Castro’s award-winning short, Mirage, initially came to her through a dream. The idea developed into a psychological thriller that leads the audience into the mind of Julian, played by Roberto Arrizon, a man who suffers the loss of his family. The Puebla, Mexico native’s film screened her film at the Mexican International Film Festival where she won the Bronze Palm Award in the Best Student Film Category.

    The film was also a finalist at the Just 4 Short Film Competition in 2015 and is still being considered for several festivals around the world.

    NYFA was responsible for introducing Castro to both Luciana Capela, her co-writer and co-editor, and Konstantin Frolov, her cinematographer. Both Luciana and Konstantin graduated with a MA degree in Film and Media Production.

    “NYFA was essential in helping me and Luciana structure the story properly and prepare the production,” said Capela. “With the guidance and lessons from Nils Taylor, my directing instructor, the whole experience of directing was great and the outcome couldn’t have been better.”

    Castro and her co-writer are currently developing the feature version of Mirage.

    June 9, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2030

  • BFA Filmmaking Student’s “The Enemy” Accepted into 5 Festivals

    the enemyAmbre Bourdon’s thesis film for the 1-Year Filmmaking Program in New York, The Enemy, has recently screened at five film festivals around the world:

    • Goldensun Short Film Festival, Malta
    • Sguardi Altrove Film Festival, Italy
    • Whatashort India International Film Festival, India
    • Tlanchana Fest, Festival de Cine y Arte Digital, Mexico
    • Jagran Film Festival, India

    The Enemy is a short film about a man meeting his alter-ego in a waiting room while waiting for his doctor. The overall theme of the film tackles mental illness and multiple personality disorder. The story was adapted from a novel called “Cosmetique de l’Ennemi,” written by Amélie Nothomb, a very notorious author from Belgium.

    “I had the chance to meet the author after making the film,” said Bourdon. “She saw it, loved it, and is exited about the feature.”

    After attending the 1-Year Filmmaking and Cinematography Programs in New York, Bourdon decided to continue her education by pursuing a BFA in Los Angeles.

    “My experience at NYFA was definitively useful in terms of their equipment,” said Bourdon. “I was also very lucky to have an excellent writing teacher that truly inspired me.”

    Bourdon says her experience in New York was much more intense due to the fact that she had to complete several projects within the year.

    “At NYFA NYC, I was shooting constantly, which was an amazing opportunity to learn on set,” said Bourdon. “At NYFA LA there is much more theory, but it is another way to learn and inspire us for the content of our films. Also, the biggest advantage of the campus in LA is their contacts within the industry and being surrounded by major studios.”

    Bourdon has recently released a campaign of commercials for an NGO called STOP (Trafficking Of People) which is running on their website. She’s also working on two main projects at the moment—one of them being her third short film and the other is the feature version of The Enemy.

    June 8, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 887

  • NYFA Filmmaking Graduation and Final Screenings

    filmmaking graduation

    Filmmaking graduates from New York Film Academy held a final screening at the Edmond J. Safra Hall Screening Room at the Museum of Jewish Heritage located near the New York campus in Battery Park.

    Introducing the films and congratulating the graduates prior to the screening was NYFA President Michael Young and Directing Instructor Brad Sample. Both Young and Sample stressed the fact that a key to their future success relies on their networking and collaborations with each other. A large portion of the NYFA success stories have come about from former students teaming up on projects together.

    The thirteen films that screened this past Friday, May 27, 2016 were:

    filmmaking 2016

    Summer 2015 Section A & B Final Films

    “We witnessed firsthand the effort all students collectively put into this program,” said NYFA Filmmaking Chair Claude Kerven. “This isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Completing this program is a testament to each student’s hard work, commitment, and desire to excel in filmmaking. To master the craft of film directing is a life-long endeavor. We look forward to hearing good things about all of our graduates in the years to come.”

    Congratulations to all of our graduates, and best of luck on your future careers in filmmaking!

    To view more photos from the graduation, CLICK HERE.


    June 3, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2713

  • Master Class with Academy Award-Winning Producer James Skotchdopole

    Last week, Academy Award-winning producer James Skotchdopole held a Master Class at the New York Film Academy New York with Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker. Skotchdopole has worked alongside some of Hollywood’s leading directors, including Quentin Tarantino, Tony Scott, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu, with whom he won Best Picture for Birdman. His filmography includes many memorable and award-winning films like Django Unchained, The Revenant, True Romance, and dozens of others.


    Producer James Skotchdopole with NYFA Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker

    Skotchdopole broke down his path to becoming an Academy Award-winning producer, which developed over time from being an Assistant Director to Line Producer. As a Line Producer he is heavily involved with the day-to-day responsibilities of production. His hard work and problem solving skills have been noticed and appreciated in the industry and, due to his integral involvement with each project, he is now well respected in the business.

    Since climbing the ranks, Skotchdopole has had the privilege of choosing his own projects wisely. “For me it’s about keeping a connection to the creative process,” said Skotchdopole.

    During the Master Class, Skotchdopole went through several of his projects and explained how he and his team overcame some major obstacles to create some of film history’s most memorable scenes. He recalled a time during the middle of production on Django Unchained when Tarantino came to him and said he has an idea for an epic hero moment for his main character, Django, played by Jamie Foxx. Tarantino had hand-written an eleven page scene at the estate where Django blows away dozens of men — a scene that is now a staple in the film. It was up to Skotchdopole and his team to make that scene happen, no matter what. So, he immediately took action calling in favors, extras, special effects teams and, most importantly, more money.

    Another incredible scene that required a tremendous amount of preparation and time was the bear attack in The Revenant. The team spent days researching bear attacks and needed the choreography to be perfect between Leo DiCaprio and the stunt man (who is one of the tallest stuntmen in the business). With the choreography between the two perfected and shot over a few weeks, a special effects team was able to come in create the bear, which is practically indiscernible from a real one.

    Some final general advice that Skotchdopole provided the NYFA students was to keep their expenses as low as possible, so that they can take risks in life. If you burden yourself with a great deal of overhead, it’s difficult to take on some of the entry level jobs that enable you to break into the business and climb the ranks — just like he was able to do.

    Be sure to look out for Skotchdopole’s most recent film with Brad Pitt, War Machine.

    June 2, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1182

  • NYFA Grad Discusses New Film “6 Bullets to Hell” and Producing with Terrence Malick

    6 bullets to hellAlready with an extensive list of noteworthy credits in producing, writing, directing and acting, 8-Week Filmmaking and 4-Week Acting for Film graduate Tanner Beard has recently released his newest feature, 6 Bullets to Hell, which Tanner stars in, co-wrote, co-directed and is Executive Producer of through his production company Silver Sail Entertainment. His film is a Grindhouse style Spaghetti Western shot and made to look like the classic European Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s. 6 Bullets to Hell is loyal to its predecessors as it even stays true to the form of how these were filmed in the late 1960s, all the way down to the dubbing of the audio. In the film, Beard plays a bandit, Bobby Durango, who heads up a ruthless gang in the West.

    Aside from Tanner paying homage to Sergio Leone, his company is actively producing projects including: a travel show, award-winning short films, award-winning documentaries, commercials, music videos, two seasons of a web-based television series and feature films such as the critically acclaimed Hellion starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis. Established during the 2008 writers’ strike, the company set out to create professional media content, and exploded from there.

    Outside of the company, Tanner has been the Executive Producer of three films under the iconic director Terrance Malick and producer Sarah Green, starring some of Hollywood’s most well-known actors like Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman. The third of which is a documentary, Voyage of Time, executive produced by Brad Pitt, who also narrates the film.

    Tanner’s next two projects are an animated feature entitled Fridgeport, which he co-created with Paul Khoury and is producing alongside Liam Hemsworth and Ashley Greene. His latest passion project is a Christmas comedy Just Be Claus, which he co-wrote with director Tim Skousen and is producing with Jeff Kalligheri and Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite.

    We caught up with the extremely busy actor / filmmaker following his recent trip to Cannes.

    Congrats on all of your success thus far! Can you bring us back to your time at NYFA. What stood out for you the most?

    I remember how incredible it was filming on the [Universal] backlot (and with actual film in the cameras). Even though that is obsolete these days it gave me a great appreciation for all the moving parts that go into each and every shot, each and every frame. I hope NYFA still has students shoot on film—it can train you for anything. I also did the 4-Week Acting for Film program immediately after. That was the first real “acting for film” study I had, as I came from theater studies in London.

    Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of what you’re doing now: writing, acting, producing, directing, etc. ?

    Absolutely. The requirements of the week-to-week assignments prep you well for the intense competition of the film/tv workforce. You have to stay creatively sharp to write, direct, and shot list your own projects, and the editing courses helped me immensely. It also shows you the importance of doing your best for someone else’s project because you would want them to work hard on yours. I’ve always loved that design of the 4 to 5 person teams.

    How did your working relationship with Terrence Malick begin?

    I produced a movie with Aaron Paul called Hellion and I met and worked with Sarah Green who has produced almost all of Mr. Malick’s films over the last couple of years. They had already been working on these projects I was involved in but there was still work to be done; and after we had seen Hellion through to the finish line, we continued to work together and she brought me in on the Malick films. And that’s another interesting thing about NYFA — I still work with three people who went there the same time I did.

    You started your production company during the writer’s strike. Did you get any backlash for that or do you think that it actually helped jumpstart the company?

    Well, during the strike, we were all out-of-work actors living on the same street. One other NYFA student—Phil Donohue and some other friends—just said, well, we own some cameras. People are talking about making these “series” and putting them on the “web.” It was the “Wild West” of web series and we just starting shooting on our street, really for something to do, or just to feel like we were working/acting. Once we started seeing what the results were, and we were also flying so far under the radar, no one was going to stop “a couple of kids with cameras.” It turned into something more lucrative than we thought and I never looked back with Silver Sail Entertainment which is now a company with credits I’m very proud of.

    Indeed the company is something to be very proud of. Anything else you’d like to share, specifically about your most recent film, 6 Bullets to Hell

    I’d like to share something that’s new to us. Silver Sail has created a mobile app video game as the films advertisement. It’s an arcade or “duck hunt” style shoot ’em game based on the movie, with direct links to buy or rent the film. Kinda of an experiment competing in the indie world of the 2016 market!

    We hope you get a chance to check out 6 Bullets to Hell, which also comes in a “Drive-in Style’ version with two Grindhouse trailers before the film begins.

    May 24, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3559

  • Grad Yico Tseng Releases Music Video “Can I Kiss You”

    yike zeng

    Former New York Film Academy 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop graduate, Yico Tseng, is a Chinese singer-songwriter who was a finalist on the popular singing competition show, Happy Girls, which has been dubbed the Chinese version of American Idol.

    Today, in alignment with “Chinese Internet Valentine’s Day,” she released her debut music video, “Can I Kiss You,” which she produced at the New York Film Academy.

    The video is about two girls from different countries who fall in love with each other, knowing they can never be together.

    From a singer-songwriter to a music video director, the multi-talented Yico says she decided to pursue music video production because it incorporates two of her main passions in life: music and film.

    “My experience at the New York Film Academy was great— it was very creative and practical,” said Yico. “I could access terrific teachers and meet wonderful people. And it was very helpful for my career.“

    Have a look at her brand new video below, and Happy Chinese Internet Valentine’s Day!

    May 20, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2048