Filmmaking
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  • NYFA Instructor William Dickerson Breaks Down Microbudget Filmmaking in “DETOUR: Hollywood”

    william dickersonIt’s a great time to be a filmmaker. With old models of film financing and distribution breaking down and increasingly cost-efficient and easy-to-use film production equipment available, filmmaking has become democratized. A handful of studio heads no longer stand between you and success in the entertainment industry. Now more than ever, the power to shape your career as a director is in your hands. This is the realization that film director and New York Film Academy instructor William Dickerson had a few years ago when a few of his scripts were seeing interest from studio development execs, but nobody was seriously considering him to direct any of them because he had never made a feature length movie. Dickerson and his writing partner decided to write a screenplay that could be made with a “microbudget” for William to direct outside the studio system. The film William directed was Detour, which centers around a man trapped inside of a car during a mudslide. The Hollywood Reporter declared Detour a “tautly efficient thriller that fully succeeds.” Dickerson established himself without waiting for anyone’s blessing and his directing career was underway.
    william dickerson

    NYFA Instructor William Dickerson

    To share the knowledge he gained from his experience of making Detour, William wrote the book DETOUR: Hollywood, How to Direct a Microbudget Film (or any film, for that matter). The book explains how to sidestep, or detour around, the Hollywood system and make a microbudget film by giving a detailed account of how Dickerson literally made Detour, thus DETOUR: Hollywood. This has to be the most clever film education book title in a long while. The book also contains some of the most meaningful and practical instruction on film directing ever provided in a text. For instance, Dickerson breaks down the concepts of Subtext and Point of View, the two most important yet neglected ingredients in filmmaking, in such a complete and digestible way that even directors already well-versed in story will have much to learn from it.

    Within DETOUR: Hollywood, William Dickerson analyzes all the hurtles he faced over the many years he spent trying to direct his first feature and the trial and error process that led him to what eventually DID work for him and will for you too. The obvious benefit to the reader is saving you time, money, and from unnecessary headache so that you can start your directing career sooner rather than later. Since making Detour, William Dickerson has experienced increasing success in film directing. Most recently William directed Don’t Look Back, a feature-length thriller that aired on Lifetime Movie Network and exhibits a level of craft in directing that is rarely achieved.

    William Dickerson’s book DETOUR: Hollywood, How to Direct a Microbudget Film (or any film, for that matter) comes out April 14th and can be ordered through Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/DETOUR-Hollywood-Direct-Microbudget-matter/dp/0985188634

    April 8, 2015 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 2065

  • BFA Filmmaker Introduces Khachaturian to Dali in ‘Sabre Dance’

    Dali

    Greg Louganis as Salvador Dali

    One of our BFA Filmmaking students from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Ilya Rozhkov, is already making his rounds at the festivals and experiencing critical acclaim with his film Sabre Dance, which imagines a meeting between two historic artists, Salvador Dali and Aram Khachaturian. The story starts with Khachaturian giving a performance to the people of Spain. After the show, the world-famous composer is showered with praise and given the opportunity to meet Salvador Dali. From this meeting, Aram learns that artists can be completely different in their attitude toward life, art and etiquette.

    Rozhkov’s film premiered at the San Louis Obispo Film Festival, and has already won a Best Performance Award at the Sierra Canyon Film Festival. Next up for Rozhkov on the festival tour are the Sacramento Film Festival, the USA Film Festival (Academy Award Qualifying Festival), Madrid Film Festival (European Premiere), Cannes Film Festival (Short Film Corner), and the Other Venice Film Festival.

    We had the opportunity to ask Mr. Rozhkov a few questions about his film and his experience thus far at the New York Film Academy.

    NYFA: Congrats on the success you’ve had so far with your film Sabre Dance! Can you tell us where the idea for your film originated?

    Sabre Dance is based on a great story that I’ve known for a long time, but I felt a real connection to it after I read Mikhail Veller’s novelette Sabre Dance, which describes the same events. After reading the novelette, I connected to the story on a personal level.

    sabre dance

    BFA Filmmaker Ilya Rozhkov working with his actors

    Could you describe some of the challenges of working with the actors in your film?

    I think one of the biggest responsibilities of a film director is to provide the best guidance for actors to portray the characters of the story. In the case of Sabre Dance, some of these characters are also real historic figures, which gives a responsibility of historical accuracy.

    Working with Armen Babasoloukian (who portrayed Aram Khachaturian) was an incredible journey, which required a lot of preparation. Since Aram is not only a composer, but also a conductor, we worked with a conducting coach so Armen could really conduct in front of the camera. He did a fantastic job preparing, and when it came to shooting the orchestra scene, Armen was actually conducting the orchestra. I felt incredibly happy when one of the orchestra players, who actually worked with the real-life Aram Khachaturian, approached Armen and told him that he was looking and conducting just like the real Aram. I’m extremely glad that he received the Best Performance Award at Sierra Film Festival— he absolutely deserved it.

    Working with Greg Louganis (who portrayed Salvador Dali) was a very enjoyable experience. I had no idea about his Olympic successes until we started preparing with him for the part. When we cast him, I just saw an incredibly talented actor. And on set Greg proved to be extremely professional, talented, creative and dedicated. His portrayal of Salvador Dali is incredibly authentic and one of my very favorite Dali portrayals.

    Working with all the cast members of Sabre Dance was a huge pleasure.

    Backtracking a bit — you grew up in Russia. What made you decide to enroll in the BFA Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles?

    For as long as I can remember, I wanted to direct films. Following advice from a director I know, I first decided to take diplomacy education in Russia to get a broader view on the world, and have an in-depth study of History of Religions, Philosophy, History of Literature, Ancient Cultures, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, and more. This knowledge I obtained helps me every day while making films and studying at NYFA.

    In the summer of 2012, I took an 8-week Filmmaking course. The workshop made me realize that I was ready to start the journey I was preparing for all my life. All the general education classes in my university in Russia were over, and it was time to focus on filmmaking. So as soon as the 8-week course was over, I transferred to NYFA’s BFA Filmmaking Program. I’m incredibly happy that I took that choice and went to NYFA.

    sabre dance set

    Has your training and education at NYFA thus far been helpful in terms of producing your film Sabre Dance?
    NYFA education was an essential part of Sabre Dance’s creation.

    In terms of producing, Sabre Dance was a challenge. It’s a period piece taking place in Spain, involving a palace, theatre, and a whole symphonic orchestra. All of these things are a challenge to obtain when creating an independent film with a limited budget. Both New York Film Academy administration and instructors who were supervising the creation of the film—Saga Elmotaseb and Will Dickerson— were always incredibly supportive and helpful, always giving the right advice on all of the complicated aspects of the film.

    Moreover, I met most of my collaborators at New York Film Academy. We worked together with my cinematographer Egor Povolotskiy on all the films since Mise-en-Scene, the first film we get to shoot in the very beginning of the program. It was an enjoyment collaborating with producers Radhika Womack and Janek Ambros, who are both 2011 NYFA graduates.

    I’d love to highlight that the most helpful side of NYFA is the hands-on experience. There is some knowledge you can only learn on set. NYFA provides a lot of practice to master that knowledge, along with the theory to support that practice.

    So you’re screening at festivals around the world. What is the overall goal with Sabre Dance?

    First and foremost, to tell audiences a story about these legendary artists—explore the theme of artistic ego and the difference in their attitude toward art. Also, reaching the audiences through the festival circuit.

    Ilya Rozhkov

    What do you hope to achieve overall as a filmmaker?
    Through feature-length films, I want to tell important and interesting stories to audiences worldwide.

    Are you working on anything else at the moment or just focusing on Sabre Dance for now?
    Currently, I’m in development on an action-adventure feature film, and also writing a family drama. And of course, I’m preparing for my thesis film at NYFA.

    Have a look at the trailer for Sabre Dance below!

    Sabre Dance Trailer from Ilya Rozhkov on Vimeo.

    April 6, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4574

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Student’s Script Accepted to Oscar Library

    Pink

    The New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi is pleased to announce that one of its 8-Week Filmmaking students, Arkus, has had his script Pink accepted into the Oscar Library, and the short Arabic film he created from the script has already screened at more than 10 international short film festivals around the globe.

    Pink is a story of Khadijah, a middle aged Arabic woman suffering from depression and low self-esteem after her divorce. The divorce has scarred her and led her to believe that she is no more attractive. Therefore, she begins a quest to look beautiful once again.

    Arkus

    Arkus

    “I am honored that Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences popularly known as the Oscar library has accepted the screenplay of Pink,” said Arkus. “It gives me a great sense of joy to know that my screenplay will share a room with some of the best screenplays in the world.”

    Arkus describes the New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi as his second home.

    “I had amazing teachers and staff who took the pain to guide me even after the lectures at pretty odd hours, and my batch mates who made extra efforts to ensure that the film is what it is today. Specifically for the screenplay — maximum credit goes to my two teachers, Norman B. Schwartz and Scott Hartmann, who poured their heart out. I just feel that if I would have listened to them more, the screenplay would have been better.”

    Arkus continues to screen his film at festivals around the world. After making Pink, Arkus teamed up with a few close friends to create a paper-cut stop motion animated short film Dubai LoveScape, which screened at Dubai International Film Festival, 2014.

    He is also working on a feature film script, which he hopes to find the right sponsors who can someday make it a reality.

    March 31, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1431

  • ‘X-Files’ Alumnus Paul Brown to Teach Workshop at NYFA South Beach

    Paul BrownAfter a thirteen year hiatus, Fox has officially let fans know that the popular 90s TV show, The X-Files, will be returning for a brand new season. Series creator Chris Carter says the series will pick up right where it left off with stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny all on board to reprise their roles.

    The six-episode season is set to begin production this summer.

    In the meantime, X-Files alumnus Paul Brown will be teaching a workshop at the New York Film Academy’s South Beach campus.

    The Secret of Great Stories
    Workshop Featuring award-winning writer, director and producer, Paul Brown
    SATURDAY, APRIL 11th, 2015 at 12pm

    If you’re interested in attending the workshop, email southbeach@nyfa.edu

    Instructor Paul Brown is an award-winning writer, director and producer, having worked in film and television for over twenty-five years. He has produced over one-hundred television dramas, pilots, and movies, working on such series at The X-Files, Quantum Leap, The New Twilight Zone, Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise.  He has received nominations for three “Emmy Awards” and three “Golden Globes” as well as winning the “Edgar Award” from the Mystery Writers of America for Best TV Drama. He has also received the “Genesis Animal Rights Award.”

    He co-created Disney’s world-wide smash hit Camp Rock.  Most recently, he directed and co-wrote the dramatic feature film Heaven’s Rain in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

    As a teacher for the New York Film Academy, he also gives lectures on writing, acting, and filmmaking throughout the year in Latin America, Europe, and Russia.

     

    March 25, 2015 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 413

  • NBC Visits NYFA in Search of Diverse Talent

    nbc diversity

    NBC’s Grace Moss presenting NBC’s Diversity Initiative Programs

    This past Thursday, March 19th at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, our students, alumni and faculty were treated to an informational session on NBC’s Entertainment Diversity Programs hosted by Grace Moss.

    The goal of their initiatives is to increase diversity on the network through programs like Writers on the Verge, the Directing Fellowship Program, NBCU Short Film Festival and Scene Showcase.

    Grace was able to break down each program with her informative presentation, and answered questions from the audience. She even answered specific one on one questions for students after the presentation.

    nbc diversity

    The New York Film Academy strongly recommends its students of diversity apply to these programs, as it is an amazing opportunity to break into the industry on a serious level.

    Below are just a handful of the programs Grace highlighted in her presentation:

    DIRECTING FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM The Directing Fellowship Program is designed to take directors accomplished in their respective fields (features, commercials and/or music videos) and give them the opportunity to work alongside episodic television directors. The selected directors will foster relationships and fine-tune their art to fit the television format.

    NBCUNIVERSAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL The Short Cuts Film Festival is an initiative to discover diverse voices both in front of and behind the camera. It provides creative individuals of diverse backgrounds an opportunity to get their materials in front of key decision makers from the entire NBCUniversal family, as well as agents, managers, producers, and other industry players.

    WRITERS ON THE VERGE Writers on the Verge is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. We are looking for writers who are “almost there,” but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills.

    LATE NIGHT WRITERS WORKSHOP The NBCUniversal Late Night Writers Workshop is a program focused on exposing talented joke, sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late-night & alternative lineup and readying them for a staff writer position.

    NBC SCENE SHOWCASE A 6-8 week workshop of original scenes by diverse writers, cast with up-and-coming actors and guided by directors of diverse backgrounds presented in a one-day showcase for executives, producers, casting directors, and other industry professionals.

     

    March 20, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 806

  • NYFA Student Lucas Diercouff to Film “The Gael” in Paso Robles

    Lucas Diercouff filming The Gael

    Lucas Diercouff, a United States Army veteran and current BFA Filmmaking student at the New York Film Academy, has announced his intention to film his short, The Gael, in Paso Robles, California. To help him achieve the goal, he has launched a GoFundMe campaign 

    The film takes place in 200AD Scotland, in a time when the Romans were trying to take over the Caledonia region. The story follows as Caer (played by Rachel J. Clark, Miss Scotland 2014), attempts to save her husband (Paul Meixner, NYFA graduate and veteran).

    Diercouff chose the Paso Robles area of California to film because he had heard of its resemblance to Scotland. After a bit of investigation and visiting the vineyards in the area, the stage was set.

    In a statement given to the Paso Robles Daily News, Diercouff says:

    “It has always been my dream to tell the story of a challenged love amidst the struggle of war, the kind of story that suits historical period and is an honest portrait of the passion of ancient Scotland.”

    The cast and crew plan to begin filming in May to finish by August, just in time for Diercouff’s graduation. Members of the project include current and former NYFA students, and members from outside the school (along with several veterans that fall into both camps).

     

     

    March 17, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 362

  • NYFA Filmmakers Making ‘Waves’ in the Philippines

    waves

    It’s no secret that networking is one of the most essential parts of becoming a successful filmmaker. At the New York Film Academy, we encourage students to find like-minded individuals who want to collaborate and are truly passionate about their craft. After all, you can’t create a film entirely by yourself. It’s a team effort.

    Recently, a team of NYFA students put their efforts together and filmed the feature film Waves. The film was written by Scott Acornley, directed by Don Frasco, edited by Adrian Morales Ramos, and produced by Anna Skrypka and Don Frasco, all of whom graduated from NYFA.

    “NYFA’s intensive hands-on approach worked well for me,” says producer and MFA Filmmaking alumna Anna Skrypka. “We were pushed to wear so many hats that we had no choice but to learn fast and figure our way out.”

    waves still

    The film, which will be Waverly Pictures first feature film, is about intimate friendship, love and heartbreak, revolving around two old friends who test their boundaries on a secluded island in the Philippines.

    Waves is mainly about a man in his later 20s, drowning in his own life, in his own indecision, in his own lack of focus,” says screenwriter and MFA Filmmaking alumnus Scott Graham. “The ocean is a great metaphor for the human subconscious, so I always thought that the main character should be consumed by it, overwhelmed by it. But with the appearance of the whale shark, he kind of starts finding his way. There is beautiful potential inside all of our minds, and sometimes we need to drown and struggle a little bit to find that potential.”

    Waves is now available on Vimeo on Demand, and will be theatrically released this June in the Philippines by the Distribution Company Viva. The team is also in the process of getting US and worldwide distribution.

    waverly pictures

    Frasco and Skrypka are currently working on a number of other projects, including a feature that they intend to shoot early 2016. Through the film, Frasco hopes to explore Cebu youth culture from the perspective of two fresh medical representatives tasked to introduce family planning products to rural towns.

    “I hope to make films that have a sincere impact on society and its culture,” says director and cinematographer Don Frasco. “I believe that principles can be influenced and shaped through cinema in ways that ignite passion and a resilient interest in contributing to the world.”

    There will be a screening and Q&A with the filmmakers at NYFA Los Angeles on March 27th.

    Have a look at the trailer below, where you’ll also have the option of purchasing the film to view in its entirety.

     

    March 17, 2015 • Filmmaking, Producing, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1169

  • Vine Royalty King Bach is Going Hollywood

    king bach

    Hollywood and Vine means something a lot different now than it has to Los Angelinos. For them, it’s always been a famous L.A. cross-street. But these days, in a post-Facebook twenty-first century, it represents a new and fruitful relationship between two titans of culture.

    Since Vine’s launch in 2012, the Twitter-owned video app has been looping millions of six-second videos to a predominantly young demographic. And nobody’s six-second videos get looped more than King Bach, Vine’s most followed user. Bach, 26, has over eleven million followers and is truly the current King of Vine. He has bigger aspirations though, and is getting ready to conquer his next kingdom—Hollywood itself.

    It’s a long time coming. Even before he joined Vine in 2013 and earned his fanbase with his quirky six-second sketches, Andrew Bachelor studied at the New York Film Academy and The Groundlings. It was as a struggling actor laboring in the audition mines that Bachelor adopted the stage name King Bach.

    Since breaking out on Vine, Bach has already scored guest roles on The Mindy Project and Wild ‘N’ Out. It was a short jump from mobiles to TV and now a shorter jump from TV to movies as Bach has five upcoming movie projects in production. He’s even playing himself in the Zac Efron vehicle We Are Your Friends.

    Bach has no plans to retire from Vine, however, appreciating the network he’s building his empire from. He likens himself to Will Smith, who gained movie superstardom from his sitcom role as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. While the Fresh Prince can still dominate the box office, there’s a good chance he’ll be competing with a King someday very soon.

    March 16, 2015 • Acting, Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 20139

  • AFA Filmmaking Grad to Screen ‘Ticketed’ at Cannes

    ticketed

    It cannot be stressed enough how valuable social media and crowdfunding have become in terms of independent filmmaking. As a student filmmaker working on a strict budget, it’s often times an essential part of pre-production. AFA Filmmaking graduate Shantal Freedman took full advantage of this avenue, launching a successful crowdfunding campaign back in September 2014 which raised enough money to get her through the production of her film Ticketed. Freedman recently turned to fans to launch another crowdfunding campaign to raise $7,000 to finish her thesis film.

    This May, Freedman will premiere her film, Ticketed, at the Cannes Short Film Festival. The film focuses on a small town cop, Jackie, who spends most of her time writing out parking tickets. As a trained police officer, all Jackie wants is a little more action: to bust a bunch of bad guys like the cops on TV. When the opportunity knocks, a group of miscreants seize the chance to steal a winning lottery ticket worth $60,000,000.

    However, fate has other plans when the ticket falls into the safekeeping of Jackie. When the thugs attempt to reclaim the ticket by any means necessary, Jackie winds up on the run.

    “More than anything in the world, I want to make movies that as many people as possible can see,” said Freedman. “I also want to get some sort of enjoyment out of it by putting the audience in a better place after viewing the film than they were before viewing it.”

    Freedman also hopes to change the status quo in terms of females in the film industry. She hopes to bring more females in front of the camera with deeper characters and equal representation.

    ticketed set

    The writer, Andrew Freedman, and Shantal have developed Ticketed into a feature. They also have several other scripts that they are shopping around in the horror genre. Ultimately, Shantal hopes to direct action/adventure films.

    She is also busy working at several entertainment companies in Los Angeles. She interns for the renowned casting director, Risa Bramon Garcia, and will be helping her as she starts to cast the 3rd season of Masters of Sex. She works for the talent management company, The Robb Company, and the talent management company, Jump Start Talent, where she is on a track to becoming a manager.

    Freedman’s advice for current students currently working on short films: “You’ll be your best and your happiest if you go all in and commit 100% to the film. If you do that, you’ll tackle every challenge and you’ll be the most pleased with your work at the end.”

    March 16, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 859

  • Julie Pacino Producing Mary Pickford Biopic


    Mary Pickford is finally getting the Hollywood treatment from the Hollywood she helped to create. Pickford, the curly-haired ingénue considered cinema’s first “America’s Sweetheart” was a huge star in the silent era and early days of Hollywood.

    Pickford wasn’t just one of the first starlets of the silver screen—she was also a powerful force behind the camera. During her career, she co-founded two significant institutions. The first, with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, was United Artists, a studio controlled by actors and filmmakers in an attempt to wrest power from the major studios. UA continues as a major producer to this day as part of MGM.

    Pickford’s other contribution was even greater—she was one of the original 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the organizations of cinema’s professionals in all fields and provider of the annual Oscars. Pickford won two Academy Awards herself, a Best Actress Oscar for 1929’s Coquette and an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 1976.

    It’s no surprise then that her fascinating life is being made into a film, adapted from Eileen Whitfield’s biography Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. The movie is being scripted by Josh Fagin and directed by Jennifer DeLia. DeLia is producing the film with Julie Pacino, a New York Film Academy graduate who co-founded Poverty Row Entertainment with DeLia. The two also collaborated on Billy Bates, the haunting look at a tortured artist. Pacino, the daughter of Al Pacino, is the perfect choice to tell the story of a Hollywood legend.

    March 12, 2015 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 862