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  • NYFA Hosts Actor Matt Ross in Guest Speaker Series

    The New York Film Academy was proud to welcome director and actor, Matt Ross, to the Los Angeles campus for a screening of his latest film, “Captain Fantastic.”  Director of the Q and A Series Tova Laiter, a producer known for her work on “Glory,” hosted the evening. Student packed the theater to standing room only.

    Matt Ross is a standout character actor in Hollywood. In the film world, he’s known for such hits as “American Psycho,” “The Aviator,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and “Twelve Monkeys.” He’s no stranger to television either, having appeared in “Six Feet Under,” “Big Love,” “Magic City,” “Revolution,” “American Horror Story,” and, most recently, on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” as Gavin Belson.  

    Matt Ross 006Ross is also a writer and director. His latest work, “Captain Fantastic” stars Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash, a man who raises his six children in the wilderness with his wife. The family has shunned all technology, but when Ben’s wife dies, he has to take his children out into the world.

    Laiter asked Ross about navigating the tension between the time one needs to immerse oneself in his/her profession, and the time one needs for parenting.

    “We live in a culture where you have to navigate work and parenting,” Ross said. He felt that it was easier for him to do this than many of the women he’s met that try to do the same thing. Society is ok with him being a father and a working creator. There’s a lot of societal pressure to be the perfect mom first.

    Laiter then turned the conversation to Ross’ beginnings. Ross grew up in rural California to similar circumstances as depicted in the movie, not knowing anyone in the entertainment business, but he applied and was accepted to Juilliard’s acting program. “I made films before I acted. I didn’t think I wanted to act. I just wanted to tell stories and that’s all acting is.”  

    But Ross was not satisfied with acting alone, revealing, “I taught myself to write.”

    His film “28 Hotel Rooms,” which portrays discovering marriage after romance, was inspired by director Mike Leigh, who workshops intensively with his actors. The short film received notice at Sundance and led to him writing and directing “Captain Fantastic,” which won him directing kudos in Cannes and a SAG nomination for Viggo Mortensen.

    Matt Ross 003Students were eager to speak with Ross about his acting career. One student asked, “How does the on-set dynamic and environment change as an actor as you’re working on sets like ‘American Psycho’ with actors like Christian Bale, as opposed to working on ‘Silicone Valley’ with comedians like T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani?”

    “I don’t think there’s any difference,” Ross responded. “I don’t come from comedy,  improvisation or stand-up. But, I think it’s all problem-solving. For comedy, you have the added difficulty of identifying and illuminating what’s humorous, whereas with drama you’re more focused on illuminating the perceived truth. It’s the same goal.”

    One student asked Ross if having so many children on set of “Captain Fantastic” was an exceptional challenge for him as a director.

    Ross replied, “They’re not difficult in the ways that people think they’ll be difficult. The difficulty was that they were having too good a time and so they’re playing around too much. I was worried about losing the light.”

    Ross advised the students, “Everyone has a process. My job is to create an environment in which their process can flourish. Kids need more time to get in character. Charlie was really young. Sometimes I’d have to break things down. Sometimes Viggo would push Charlie. Sometimes I would give him things to try. We’d play until we got it right.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Matt Ross for taking the time to speak with our students. “Captain Fantastic” is now available for download on Amazon.

    July 5, 2017 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1416

  • June Graduation for NYFA Teens and Kids Summer Camps

    On Friday, June 27, the first New York Film Academy teen and kids summer camp programs came to an end. As students waited for their graduation ceremony to start, they took selfies while their parents banded together.

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    As the lights dimmed, the acting students presented their one to two minute monologues. Their head shots were projected before the video began. Filmed against a white background “audition style,” each actor chose a unique piece to perform.

    Then, the student’s short films were screened. Their backdrop was the Universal backlot, the same place “Hairspray” was filmed. Students were given a challenge to make a movie without dialogue. They wrote, directed, filmed, and edited their own productions from start to finish.

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    Their instructors and councilors were in attendance and issued certificates of completion. In their farewells they offered words of encouragement. Camera Instructor Bart Mastronardi offered the wise words of Helen Keller: “Life is either an incredible journey or it’s nothing at all.”

    “In five days you’ve done an amazing job. This is one of the best one-week programs. You’re all so ambitious. Parents and grandparents keep pushing these kids. They really appreciate it. Even if they don’t always show it,” said NYFA Instructor Martin Thompson.

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    After they collected their certificates each student was given a copy of their work to use for reels or to share with friends and family. The graduates and their families finished the night with cupcakes and dancing by the pool.

    Head of programs Ale Salinas described the programs objectively in her farewell, stating, “Some of you may have learned that this isn’t what you want to do at all, that’s valid, too. But I’m being honest when I say we’re going to miss you.”  6B2A0062

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all of the students in finishing their first film. We look forward to the seeing second film real soon.

  • Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond Screens His Classic “The Man Who Fell to Earth” At NYFA Los Angeles

    On Monday, June 26 New York Film Academy students were treated to a star-studded screening. NYFA’s Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond screened his classic film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” The film’s leading lady Candy Clark joined him for the discussion of one of David Bowie’s most popular films.

    Directed by Nicolas Roeg,The Man Who Fell to Earth is about an alien (Bowie) trying to save his planet by siphoning water off of Earth. To do so, he assumes the identity of Thomas Jerome Newton, starts a billion dollar company, and moves in with Mary-Lou (Clark). But the creature could not predict the cruelty of business done here on Earth and soon must face the consequences.

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    Film critic and frequent NYFA collaborator Peter Rainer hosted the Q and A. Rainer kicked off the evening by enquiring about working with the renowned director and frequent collaborator of Richmond, Nicholas Roeg.

    Landing the lead male role for any film can be difficult. Roeg originally had someone else in mind for the role. As Richmond shared, “Nick’s first choice was Michael Crichton. He was very tall. He was going to do it and then pulled out. The whole thing kind of fell apart. Then Nick saw ‘Cracked Actor,’ a documentary on David Bowie on the television. They scheduled a meet-up. Bowie kept him waiting for about six hours, eventually said he would do it, and then we were off and running.”

    Many perceive “The Man Who Fell to Earth to be a science fiction film. According to Rainer, this is not the case: The themes are much more closely related to a family drama. This weird blend of genres along with the magnetism of superstar David Bowie at the helm the film led to the creation of a hit. But, as actress Candy Clark told students, not everyone thought that success would translate.

    “It’s a two hour and twenty-three-minute movie,” Clark began. “Donald Rugoff, head of Cinema 5 at the time, was like Harvey Weinstein. He had a reputation for putting out art house films that exemplified the director’s vision. But with this film, he started seeing dollars. Nick Rogue and Graeme Clifford had spent a year and a half meticulously cutting this film, piece by piece. Rugoff got a hold of it. Despite his reputation, he decided to cut twenty-three minute. He hired a guy who cuts commercials. This film took a year to cut. The new guy did it in a week. He just willy-nilly took out stuff.”

    While touring to promote the film, Clark saw the fist American cut of the film.  She called Nick immediately after, but the damage was done. “Years later I called up Cinema 5. I pitched this big lie that I was getting asked about the film all of the time.” Clark then convinced them to release the original cut of the film, saying she told them, “You don’t have to spend any money. Just take the original poster and add a banner with the word: uncut. I’ll promote it any way you want … As a result, the American cut has dwindled to the wayside. All that is seen now is the director’s cut. It’s now out on Criterion. I never gave up on this film.”

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    During the Q and A, one student asked how Richmond planned so many of the daytime shots to get the light just right.

    Richmond revealed, “I would like to say that I did it. But I was so, so lucky with the sky. Every time we did some vast exterior there would be this incredible sky. The scene with the cottage, for instance, that cloud hung over the cottage all day. It never moved. I went back to Mexico and I was going through this little town and I felt like I’d been there. Now, it’s a huge artist commune.” The location holds artistic magic.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tony Richmond and Candy Clark for sharing their experiences with our students. We would also like to thank Peter Rainer for hosting the night’s festivities. The 4k restoration of “The Man Who Fell to Earth is now available everywhere Blu-Rays are sold. Rainer’s book “Rainer on Film” is also available for sale on Amazon.

  • NYFA Co-Sponsors The Best Of Miami

    Miami, Florida is a paradise that is not only brimming with creativity, but is also a thriving center for business-savvy professionals. As a part of this diverse and bustling community, the New York Film Academy’s South Beach campus is honored to have had the opportunity to co-sponsor June’s The Best of Miami event.

    On June 27Miami New Times, celebrating its 30th anniversary, put together a party that filled the newest of Miami’s finest venues, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.

    The party had a line that wrapped around the Museum entrance. Everyone from the “who’s who” of Miami was anticipating the event, which included vendors from all over Miami. Each of the six floors of the Frost Museum had something exciting going on, and the New York Film Academy South Beach was happy to join in on the festivities as a co-sponsor. NYFA’s booth was situated inside the planetarium where the attendees were able to mingle amongst the stars.
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    On the same floor just across the way located inside what is known as their Deep Aquarium a DJ was spinning tracks while attendees from the diverse crowd broke it down on the dance floor. Above the dance floor was the deepest part of the aquarium that hung low nearly able to touch by an outstretched hand. A few doors down was a minimally lit room with columns of jellyfish swimming around lighting up the room in a natural artistic manner.
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    NYFA’s guests of honor included Acting for Film Chair Mark Mochabee, Filmmaking Chair Maylen Dominguez, and Program Coordinator Laura Gasperini. Although the event was filled with tons to do, the New York Film Academy carved out its own niche in the planetarium. The top floor of the aquarium was open for the attendees to pet a live stingray while they swiftly swam by.

    One of the most memorable aspects of this event was the skyline, a filmmakers dream; surrounded by water with a backdrop of Brickell on one side and downtown Miami on the other.

    Miami New Times made a wave with this event, finding the perfect and newest venue in Miami to throw a spectacular party. The New York Film Academy was able to make its presence in South Beach known while enjoying the fun of the event, which reminded every attendee of Miami’s motto: “We live where you vacation.”

    June 30, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 47

  • NYFA Sydney Filmmaking Student Wins UBER Competition

    The sharing economy has created all kinds of opportunities for people and organizations to come together in new ways. Recently, ride-sharing giant Uber connected with 90 Seconds to create a contest, inviting filmmakers to submit a film concept around the theme “a shared ride.” Finalists were selected to compete for votes in the Uber & 90 Seconds Short Film Festival, and first prize was taken home by New York Film Academy Sydney filmmaking student Michael Gosden for his short, “Hitchin’ a Trike.” Michael’s video has since surpassed 3 million views on Youtube.

    We had a chance to sit down with Michael and hear a little bit about his journey with NYFA and the inspiration behind his film “Hitchin’ a Trike.”

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    Filmmaker Michael Gosden.

    NYFA: Congratulations on your success in the Uber & 90 Seconds Short Film Festival! First, can you tell us a little about yourself and why you chose New York Film Academy?

    I originally grew up on the Central Coast and moved to Melbourne in 2011 to study acting with the Victorian College of the Arts. Being there solidified my passion for storytelling and, with a few friends, I started to create work outside of acting. We would shoot short films, web series, music clips and even a few feature films. I quickly found that being behind the camera was just as exciting as being in front of it. But I found that our guerrilla filmmaking approach was limited by my day-to-day obligations, and I wanted to commit to immersing myself in film as much as possible for a period of time. That’s what attracted me to the New York Film Academy Australia. The hands-on approach to study was exactly what I wanted.

    How did your entry to the UBER competition come about? What drew you to it?

    It popped up on my news feed and this was around a time between semesters, so there was a tiny gap in my hectic schedule to pursue. I had a great little team of friends that were available and the story I came up with was a simple one. Also, it had a pretty great cash prize attached to it, and being a student in Sydney is hard!

    What inspired your idea for “Hitchin’ a Trike”?

    Nostalgia was my biggest inspiration, to be honest. The only thing Uber attached specifically to the brief was the theme “shared ride,” and it made me think about the moments I spent with my older brothers in our little kid bike gang, and how we would often have to share bikes if one of the other had broken down for whatever reason. I just ran with that idea and intertwined it to what I understood Uber to be at the time.

    Would you say your time at NYFA was useful in terms of preparing you for your work in the competition?

    Definitely. Primarily in my preparation, which I severely lacked the skills for beforehand. We had one day to shoot, so we couldn’t waste time with shot listing or anything like that.

    With over 3 million views on your UBER video, what are you planning next?

    I have a mockumentary web series that I shot before starting at NYFA about a group of master sommeliers (expert wine tasters) and how they are put through different tests to be inducted into the Grand Master Sommilier Society, the Illuminati of wine society. I put that on hold while studying and now I want to edit and distribute that to the world.

    I also have a one-shot feature film that I wrote and directed, with a friend, a few years ago that is premiering at the Perth Revelation International film festival. I also have a treatments for a TV show and three features that I want to explore more and hopefully get some funding for. So I’m guessing that will keep me busy over the next few years.

    As a filmmaker, what is your driving passion?

    For who I am at the moment, the driving force has always been to try and tell the story of people or communities that wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance. I don’t know if I necessarily have an overall goal or message: That usually comes when I start focusing onto a story. But the passion definitely comes from the excitement I feel when a film leaves you with a greater sense of that topic than when you first walked in, good or bad. I just hope that people are changed by the stories I create.

    Is there anything I missed that you’d like to talk about?

    If you happen to be in Perth for the Revelation film festival, it’d be great if you went along and supported my film “Watch the Sunset.” You can find all the information here.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Michael Gosden on his success with “Hitchin’ a Trike” and thank him for sharing some of his story with the NYFA community.

    June 30, 2017 • Acting, Contests, Film School, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2508

  • NYFA Filmmaking Grad Assaad Yacoub’s Film “Cherry Pop” Featured in NYLON

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    NYFA filmmaking alumnus Assaad Yacoub via IMDB.

    As Pride Month celebrations bring the LGBTQ+ community to the world spotlight, New York Film Academy had a chance to go behind the scenes with the creator of “Cherry Pop,” triple-alumnus Assaad Yacoub, who graduated from NYFA’s 2-Year Filmmaking Program in New York City before going on to complete both his BFA and MFA degrees in Filmmaking at NYFA Los Angeles. His much-buzzed feature film stars Bob the Drag Queen from “Rupaul’s Drag Race” along with Tempest DuJour, Latrice Royale and Lars Berge.

    With a recent interview in NYLON and a busy schedule touring such film festivals as Outfest Los Angeles and the London International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema, Yacoub took some time to talk with NYFA about his “Cherry Pop” journey.

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    NYFA: Congrats on your feature film debut with “Cherry Pop”! First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    AY: I’m Assaad. Nice to meet you!

    When I was younger, I would take our old school video camera and film my brother and my friends doing anything and everything. I enjoy the art of telling a story. It’s fun! I used to dance with a group in Dubai and that form in itself is storytelling. Then I went to art college where I majored in painting. I remember one of my teachers, Rachael Hines, and I’ll never forget this, told me to get the hell out of the Middle East and move somewhere that would actually allow me to succeed and have a career in my talents.

    At the time there was no “art scene” in Lebanon or the Middle East — no one took it seriously as a career pursuit — art classes were basically just electives not majors. Moving to the states was the best thing I could have done for myself and my future. That’s how I ended up at NYFA!

    NYFA: Your feature “Cherry Pop” started out as a student short film project at NYFA, can you tell us a little about the journey you underwent to turn that student project into a feature?

    AY: The feature was actually also a project I did at NYFA as my thesis in the MFA program. It started as a short film in 2013 and we enhanced it into a feature film by 2015.

    The short film’s success is basically what decided to make the film into a feature. The festival circuit showed me it was valuable to movie audiences and I decided to push forward with it. When I started my master’s program, from day one I knew I was going to choose the feature track and make this film.

    NYFA: What advice can you offer to fellow NYFA students eager to make their first feature film?

    AY: You have to be prepared. And even when you think you’re prepared you have to be even more prepared. Mistakes are going to happen no matter what. The more prepared you are the easier and quicker you will solve obstacles as you go along.

    Stick to one idea and go with it. Stick to your guns, believe in your idea and what you’re doing. Other people will then believe in you.

    NYFA: You mention in your NYLON interview that you were especially interested in showing a “day in the life of a drag queen” with “Cherry Pop.” Why do you feel it is important for people to have a chance to see that world? Why is this story so important to tell, at this moment in time?

    AY: It’s important because a lot of people just don’t understand what drag queens do and who they actually are. The topic is now more important than ever – the timing is perfect especially with transgender/LGBTQ+ community speaking out a lot more nowadays. It’s amazing to be a part of the bigger picture of it all.

    NYFA: Has the experience of working on “Cherry Pop” in any way transformed the way you approach filmmaking?

    AY: Yes. I learnt I do not what to produce ever again. Ha! — I’m sticking to directing!

    It was my very first feature film so there really was so much I didn’t know and was learning on the way. I learnt a lot about post-production and about what happens with the movie after you achieve distribution.

    A fun thing on set that was new to me was that we built the “Cherry Pop” sets. I have never experienced having full control of how the space was going to look, which was pretty cool.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was helpful in preparing for your experience making “Cherry Pop”?

    AY: My time at NYFA was the only experience I had to prepare for “Cherry Pop” so yes it was very helpful! I think everyone should go through the feature track [in the MFA Filmmaking program] because the classes we took were invaluable. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of Lydia Cedroni, Justin La Reau, William Dickerson and Mike Civille — thanks guys!

    NYFA: Are you working on any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?

    AY: In addition to touring with “Cherry Pop” nationwide, I am working on its TV adaptation. We just finished writing the pilot. I have a bunch of music videos coming up for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Queens. Those should be lots of fun. I also just pitched and sold a web series to an online streaming platform.

    NYFA: Is there anything I missed you’d like to mention?

    AY: Ya! If you’re in LA on July 10 come watch “Cherry Pop” at The Harmony Gold Theatre. If you’re in San Francisco July 11, we will be at The Castro Theatre. Come!

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Assaad Yacoub for the success of “Cherry Pop” and thank him for sharing his story with the NYFA community.

  • NYFA Alumnus Miguel Garzon Martinez Releases “The Broken Legacy” on Amazon

    New York Film Academy alumnus Miguel Garzon Martinez has been hard at work on his latest project, “The Broken Legacy.” Now that the film has completed it’s festival run, it is available to stream on Amazon and Vimeo.

    Martinez sat down with us to talk about his experience writing, directing, and editing the project.

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    NYFA: Tell us a little about your latest project?

    Martinez: “The Broken Legacy” is a personal project for me. It came from a mixture of past experiences. This was an incredible opportunity to explore those experiences. I was able to share my own thoughts about how the world works. Before I came to study at NYFA, I was a teacher at a high school back home in Colombia. I had some crazy experiences that taught me many things about the nature of people, and about myself as well.

    Originally the film was set in a high school. But then I realized that in order for me to make it happen within my budget I had to make some changes. I changed the setting to a research facility where the characters are forced to live together, which definitely amps up the stakes and the drama. But, at the end of the day, I wanted to portray the light and darkness that lives inside of all of us, which I show personified in the two leads: Steven and Tomás.

    NYFA: Why is this story important to you?

    Martinez: I needed to tell the story of “The Broken Legacy” because it’s heavily based on my own experiences. Sharing something so personal with the world is terrifying and difficult. I felt that as a filmmaker I had something to say, and that feeling continued to bug me until it became this film. However, my intention is not to preach or to tell people what to think or how to behave. For me, it was very important to portray characters who were honest. I tried to show every side of the conflict.

    NYFA: What was the hardest part of making this film?

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    Martinez: When I think about my biggest challenge making this film, and maybe this answer is not as thrilling, but it was unexpected to me as well: it was editing. When you’re so close to something you stop seeing things. It becomes harder and harder to judge what is working and what isn’t working.

    After several months of work in post-production and some test screenings, I had to make a very difficult decision. I stepped away from editing and hired an editor to do a new cut from scratch. I had to do what was in the best interest for the film.

    I had a wonderful editor, Aashish Mayur Shah, who brought so many ideas to the table and a strong vision that enhanced my previous work. It was a great learning experience.

    NYFA: What did what you learn at NYFA that helped you make this film?

    Martinez: My experiences at NYFA were integral to making “The Broken Legacy.” It is incredible looking back at how much of what I learned in school helped me through this project. NYFA’s hands-on approach really prepared me to be in command of the set, because I have already done it before many times in smaller projects.

    On top of that, I was very lucky to have two great directing teachers, Nick Sivakumaran and Adam Nimoy, who showed me how to visually tell a story without losing sight of the spine of each character. Most of my crew was wonderful people that I met at NYFA, including one of my actresses and co-producer Cynthia Bravo. I would never have been able to complete my film without the NYFA community.

    NYFA: Would you do anything differently if you could?

    Martinez: I think that if I could go back in time, I would have approached the screenwriting process differently. Writing a film is by far the most complex part. I wrote the script in eight months and I still feel like I could have used more time.

    Looking back, there are little moments where I realize that I should have added this or that to make it perfect. It is kind of like that feeling you have after walking away from a conversation and suddenly know exactly what to say. It’s very annoying, but I have learned from it. Now, I try to focus 110 percent on those details during the writing process.

    NYFA: What festivals did you take the film to?

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    Martinez: “The Broken Legacy” has screened at the Pasadena International Film Festival, where it won Best Feature Film, and at the Gwinnett Center International Film Festival, where Michael Stahler won Best Male Actor for his portrayal of Steven. We also screened at the Manhattan Film Festival, Culver City Film Festival, Speechless Film Festival and Hoboken International Film Festival.

    NYFA: What was it like watching your film with an audience for the first time?

    Martinez: Watching the film for the first time in front of an audience was incredibly uncomfortable. I felt as if I was naked in front of them and they were staring into my soul. However, and this is weird, it’s also a wonderful experience because it allowed me to connect with them. Every time I hear a little reaction, like a gasp, I know that people are invested in the story that I want to tell. It’s amazing because ultimately I want to make films so people can watch them and get involved with the characters. Eventually, you get used to people staring at you naked.

    NYFA: What is the message you hope viewers walk away with?

    Martinez: The main questions the film asks is, would you be able to sacrifice your happiness in this world to achieve a great work of art? Is it worth happiness, worth immortality? I don’t want people to walk away with an answer to that dilemma, but I want them to walk away asking themselves, is it possible to have both? And what would they be willing to sacrifice to achieve immortal fame?

    NYFA: What’s up next for you? Are you working on any new films?

    Martinez: Right now, my main focus is the distribution of the film. “The Broken Legacy” is finally available on Amazon and Vimeo.

    I am also developing a couple of new projects. I am in the middle of the post-production on a short film that I did in Colombia. It was produced by another NYFA alumni, Juan Sebastián Sarmiento Bazzani. I really wanted to have the experience of doing a short film back home. Thanks to the people I met at NYFA I was able to do so.

    Finally, I have also been collaborating with a wonderful group of actors in New York City, where I currently live, to develop a series of short films that will soon be on the festival circuit.  

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Martinez and all those involved in the making of “The Broken Legacy” on their success. To learn more about the film click here.

  • NYFA Welcomes Hire Heroes USA

    On June 24, The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) Veteran Services Department was fortunate to collaborate with Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) to host a daylong exclusive employment workshop for NYFA’s veteran students. The NYFA military students also benefited from one-on-one time with the Transition Specialists from HHUSA.

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    Hire Heroes visits the New York Film Academy

     

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    Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members.

     

    Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, assisting veterans and spouses with finding employment.

    The first half of the eight-hour workshop was a practicum related to resume theory, networking techniques, and how to affectively prepare for an interview. Representatives from Hire Heroes USA, Jamie Rimphanli and Walter Serrano, coached veteran students on how to properly format their resumes and discussed, in-depth, the importance of networking and how to prepare for a job interview.

    For the second half of the workshop, industry professionals from Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Legendary Entertainment, and Plan A Locations joined the workshop for a moderated Q&A panel discussion. Panelists discussed how they began their careers in the entertainment industry and how they’ve navigated their careers for success.

    Highlights from the day included an exercise that had all of the participants do a speed networking session. Also, HHUSA brought a photographer who took professional head shots for the veteran students’ LinkedIn pages.

    “We felt that this training and these types of vet student-centric activities are increasingly important because they help prepare our students to meet with HR/Talent Acquisition teams from the major studios,” explained NYFA Director of Veterans Services Department John Powers.  

    Retired Army veteran and MFA cinematography student Bryan Hudson stated, “The Hire Heroes USA workshop was a fantastic forum to introduce veterans with industry insiders and provide the opportunity to learn from them. The event was beneficial to everyone involved about learning the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the interview process and how to break into the entertainment industry. One thing that I learned from the workshop is to establish relationships that will be beneficial to both parties. Thank you to the NYFA Veterans Department for putting on this marvelous event, and I hope that this will be the first of many events with Hire Heroes USA.”

    The NYFA Veteran Services Department is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for partnering with us to bring this wonderful opportunity to NYFA veteran students.

  • NYFA LA Welcomes Writer & Producer Neal Baer as Guest Speaker

    On Wednesday, June 21, Neal Baer came to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus to talk about his illustrious career in television. Baer has the distinction of being a key figure in two groundbreaking series. He was a writer and producer on both “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “ER.”  Director of the Q and A series, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

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    Students filled the Riverside Theater to hear Baer speak about the history of the television industry. Many of the students were surprised to learn that “ER” once enjoyed an incredible share of the market. “There’s no drama airing today that comes close to having 40 million viewers. Not even ‘Game of Thrones.’”  

    Of course, a huge portion of the show’s success was the wildly talented and relatively unknown cast, including George Clooney. Baer recalled the excited fan reaction to seeing Clooney in a tuxedo. So mad was the fury, that Baer made sure to include a scene with him in a tuxedo in “Hell or High Water.” The episode went on to be the show’s highest-rated and even earned Clooney an Emmy nomination.

    “I’ve had a very different career than my friends. I’ve only ever been on four shows,” Baer said after being asked about his incredible trajectory. “I started in 1994. That’s twenty-three years. I don’t know anybody else who has done four shows straight through.”

    Whether it was talent, luck, or a combination of both that kept Baer on top, he always made sure to use the best of the time he had. “I loved SVU because every week I got to explore. You had to get into the story through a murder or assault but then I could do a show about teen access to abortion. They let us do amazing things with guns, homeschooling, HIV deniers, euthanasia, everything I was interested in was put into the show.” 

    Baer Q and A 003

    That inspiration translated into his hiring practices as a showrunner. Baer was fond of calling obscure actors from childhood favorites to come on the show. Carol Burnett chastised him when he called to ask her on the show: “You used to watch me with your parents on weeknights, didn’t you?” Once, Debbie Reynolds even shared a saucy story about Ava Gardner with Baer.

    “How could you not want to bring these people on your show,” Baer said. “I’ve been very blessed to work with incredible people.”

    One student asked if Baer had any advice for students looking to break into the industry. Baer responded, “They’ve made it very difficult to be a director. I think what you have to do if you want to work, as a director, is shadow. You attach to a director and you just become their shadow. You’ll go to casting meetings, location scouts, anything the director does, you’ll be there.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Baer for taking the time to speak with our students.

  • NYFA Alumnus Anthony James Faure Releases “Kids With Guns”

    Anthony James Faure worked in the film industry for five years before coming to the New York Film Academy. When he started the 1-Year Filmmaking Program he was also starting the post-production process on his latest film, “Kids with Guns.”

    Screenshot 2017-06-23 15.06.19

    Using Paris, France, as a backdrop, he shot the feature film over the summer of 2014. The story follows Arno and Mo, two unimportant drug dealers who happen upon a bag filled with MDMA. They decide to sell the trendy drug to the Parisian Golden Youth. Soon they’re forced to navigate the dangerous territory between the real owner of the bag and an overzealous cop that swore to stop him.

    The French thriller was produced with a budget of just €30,000, or around $35,000 in U.S. dollars. He earned the majority of the money via crowd-funding sites, personal savings, and a few grants. Then entire cast and crew worked on a volunteer basis.

    Faure attributes much of that success to his friend and producing partner Antony Renault. Faure said of the experience, “We were trying to get a short film produced in France for a long time. During that time, we wrote ‘Kids with Guns.’ Once the script was done we thought we should just shoot it. It’s that spontaneity that makes the essence of our film: we wanted to shoot now.”

    Faure’s scrappy nature had earned him great footage, but turning it into a film would be an entirely different process. “NYFA helped me in my rewriting process during postproduction. Indeed, after the course I took at NYFA, my understanding of film had evolved, and I managed to use that new knowledge in the editing.”

    The visual effects artist, postproduction manager, and sound mixer for “Kids with Guns” were all students Faure met at NYFA. He enjoyed his experience at NYFA so much he’ll be returning next semester: “I will never stop learning. I have a few feature film ideas and treatments I’ve been working on for a while, going back to NYFA in the screenwriting course will hopefully give me that little push I need to execute them.”

    TEASER KIDS WITH GUNS from Les Films de l’Ours on Vimeo.

    Faure’s next project is a superhero story. “Super Zeroes” is the story of superheroes forced into retirement by a world tired of the destruction their crime fighting causes. They retire to Trinidad-and-Tobago but a crime committed on the island will force them to work together, even if their powers are a bit rusty. NYFA alumni Jolene Mendes and Chloe Na will work with Faure as producers, Sashank Sana is the director of photography, Carolina Lara will do production design, and Daniel Techy is editing.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Faure’s success. To learn more about Faure click here.