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  • NYFA Alumnus Directs Hillbilly-Horror “Tuftland”

    Roope Olenius, who graduated with his BFA in Acting for Film from the Los Angeles campus in 2013, is currently working on his directorial debut Kyrsyä – Tuftland, in Finland.

    roope

    Kyrsyä-elokuvan kuvaukset.

    Honoring films like The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby, the Finnish film discusses current topics such as women’s rights, man’s relationship with nature and young people’s difficulty to find their way into the work life. The story revolves around a young textile student, who takes on a summer job at a secluded and totally self-sufficient town. The cast consists of upcoming actors like Veera W. Vilo, Saara Elina, Ari Savonen and Enni Ojutkangas who have become known as the faces of the new wave of Finnish genre movie with films like Bunny the Killer Thing and Backwood Madness.

    “In addition to the fact that the story discusses extremely important topics, it does it with a very raw and objective voice, which for me was very fascinating from the get-go,” said Olenius. “It was important for me to tell this exact story at this point of my life because it really allowed me to throw my questions into the film and at the same time transform myself into a better person. Even though the story is fictitious (and in ways goes over the top), it points out some mindsets and behavior patterns that currently take place in Western countries and especially in Finland, which for me was a way to connect with the story. The possibility to make a film that has the potential to challenge the audience to think about their own values and opinions in life, is, for me, the whole point of filmmaking.”

    roope

    Kyrsyä-elokuvan kuvaukset.

    Olenius, who has consistently worked as an actor in his home country after graduation, is also producing the film and responsible for the adapted screenplay, which is is based on an original play of the same name by Neea Viitamäki. Kyrsyä – Tuftland is currently in production and set to premiere in 2017.

    “My training at NYFA has helped me enormously in terms of understanding all aspects of filmmaking and how they play together in a film production,” said Olenius. “Even though I studied acting, thanks to the versatile program I attended, I already had a good understanding of filmmaking after graduation and, therefore, the potential to pursue the making of this film after working only few years in the industry. Studying acting for film in Los Angeles has given me resourceful tools to get cinematic and true performances out of the wonderful cast of this film, which I believe will really make this film extraordinary.”

     

    September 5, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3083

  • NYFA Showcases its Talents at the Venice International Film Festival

    It was quite an honor to take part in the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. The exclusive New York Film Academy Showcase at the VIFF began with a Q&A between NYFA Florence Program Director, Diana Santi, and NYFA alumnus, Giorgio Pasotti, who attended a Filmmaking Workshop in 2003. Pasotti has acted in numerous well-known Italian films, including Paolo Sorrentino’s Academy Award-winning film “The Great Beauty.”

    Held at the Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel, Pasotti discussed his overall education at NYFA, which he described as an amazing learning experience.

    diana and pasotti

    “It was more useful to study 8 weeks at NYFA in NY than the years I’ve spent studying and watching movies,” said the Italian actor. Pasotti used the skills he learned from NYFA to direct his debut film, “Io, Arlecchino.”

    Following the Q&A, the festival screened five NYFA student and alumni films that included two live-action shorts, two animated shorts, and one documentary short.

    The five films that screened were:

    “The Life Of Janka,” by Luis Henriquez Viloria (fiction)

    After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, thousands of kids went to the streets and became targets for organizations of child traffickers. These kids were traded like livestock. “The Life of Janka” is a fictional story of two brothers who go through such an experience.

    “Fumo,” by Sean Miyakawa (fiction)

    Set in the mid-1920s, a frustrated sound composer works as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema, and happens to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

    “Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa,” by Lara-Ann de Wet (documentary)

    In Limpopo, South Africa, the village grannies lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way down the field — and through centuries of oppressive taboos. They play serious soccer and then break into the laughter and traditional song that help fuel their singular struggle for decent lives and a league of their own.

    “The Perfumist,” by Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, Sandra Rivero Ortiz (animation)

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of Machine-Equipped Man against Cosmic Nature. Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    “The Right Way,” by Elena Zobak Alekperov & Flavia Groba Bandeira (animation)

    A short animated story of the day in a mom’s life of raising her young child. While the child tests the mother’s patience, there is a final moment of relief after the mom reveals her secret oasis within the confines of the home.

    santi in italy

    Following the screenings, director Sean Miyakawa spoke in-depth about the making of his original film, “Fumo.”

    Additionally, “The Life of Janka” director of photography Leandro Mouro spoke about his cinematography on Luis Henriquez Viloria’s film, shot in Haiti.

    The prestigious Venice International Film Festival will continue to run until September 10, 2016.

  • Filmmaking Grads to Screen at Venice Film Festival

    This year’s Venice Film Festival will feature short films from two New York Film Academy Filmmaking alumni. Along with a documentary and two animated shorts, the films will be presented at the NYFA Showcase, which will be introduced on September 1, 2016 by NYFA alumnus Giorgio Pasotti (“The Great Beauty,” “After Midnight,” “Salty Air”) at the brand-new Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel.

    life of janka

    One of the films, “The Life of Janka,” directed by NYFA alumnus Luis Henriquez Viloria, focuses on the story of two brothers from a very poor village in Haiti who are kidnapped by an organization of child traffickers.

    “Because of its honest performances, beautiful cinematography, and tasteful direction, ‘The Life of Janka’ is not only very engaging, but provides a poignant glimpse into the world of Haitian youth after the devastating earthquake of 2010,” said NYFA Academic Chair, Arthur Helterbran.

    After the massive earthquake in 2010, a lot of people went to Haiti to help, but another group of people went there to take advantage of the situation. This is what the filmmaker hopes to finally expose.

    “This will be the first time this fact will be exposed through film,” says Henriquez Viloria. “It’s interesting how many people know about the earthquake, but do not know about the kidnappings.”

    Henriquez Viloria is currently working on the feature length of “The Life Of Janka,” which he hopes will provide more details as to how everything was happening from other point of views.

    Fumo

    “Fumo”

    Another very captivating film that will be screening in Venice is from NYFA Filmmaking alumnus Sean Miyakawa. His film, “Fumo,” set in the mid-1920s, is about a frustrated sound composer working as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema, and just so happens to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

    “’Fumo’ is a visually and sonically arresting love story that is equally sweet, sincere, and sardonic,” says Helterbran. “I have not seen many student films that move me the way that Sean Miyakawa’s surreal romantic-romp ‘Fumo’ does.”

    August 31, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2848

  • NYFA Takes Over Brazilian Film Festival in the US

    Five out of nine films selected for the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival this year are either from NYFA students or from recent grads.

    After the success of the Olympic Games in Rio, a new competition for Brazilian filmmakers is about to begin. It’s the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival (LABRFF), in which the New York Film Academy (NYFA) is already leading the pack. The official selections of the festival were announced earlier this month, and in the category that rewards short films made by Brazilians in the US, five out of nine films selected are either from NYFA students or from recent grads.

    Winners will be announced on September 20th, but for now we present the selected NYFA filmmakers and their films, which will be screened to the entertainment industry in Los Angeles from the 16th.

    the dress

    on set of “The Dress”

    Publicist Raphael Bittencourt competes with “The Dress,” which is his first year’s project for the NYFA MFA in Filmmaking in Los Angeles. The outfit in question serves as a pivot to introduce family issues between the father and his daughters.

    Despite having solid experience in cinematography and advertising in Brazil, Bittencourt came to study at NYFA to network with high caliber professionals and discover technical differences between shooting in his country and in the US. “No school can compete with NYFA in terms of equipment usage,” said Bittencourt. “In our second class, we headed out with a camera in hand, learning by practicing. In Brazil, colleges end up developing film critics, because everything is more theoretical.”

    under water

    “Under Water”

    Family drama also inspires “Under Water: Dive Deep” by MFA in Filmmaking student Lucas Paz. His film portrays the redemption journey of a mother when she returns to the beach where she lost her son in the sea. There, she meets fantastical characters that share unusual experiences, shedding light into her lament.

    For Paz, the face-to-face contact with movie idols, visiting NYFA as guest speakers, is one of the greatest school highlights. He also points out the possibility of students filming their own projects on film (and not only in video) as another big advantage.

    Paz produced another film selected by the festival as well: “Match,” starring Brazilian actor Domingos Antonio (“Blindness,” by Fernando Meirelles) and Puerto Rican actress Laura Alemán (Crackle’s series “Cleaners“). The film deals with the apathy and emptiness of the virtual relationships through smart phone dating apps.

    food for thoughts

    “Food for Thoughts”

    Director Luisa Novo is also a MFA in Filmmaking student at the Los Angeles campus. Her short “Food for Thoughts” was made after she completed the One-Year Filmmaking Conservatory at the school. “I wanted to shoot a film in between my programs and I proposed the idea to my former classmate Jordan Scott, who joined the project as Director of Photography,” she recalls.
    The starting point of “Food for Thoughts” is a relationship breakup with a chef, which leads Hope — played by American actress Brittany Falardeau, who attended a 4-Week Acting Workshop at NYFA — to recall her past relationships and come to a realization that will lead to a major life change.
    red souls

    “Red Souls”

    Brazilian actresses Paula Soveral and Valeria Guimarães also shot their film after graduation. Following the completion of their One-Year Acting Conservatory, in October 2014, they decided to develop a project where they could showcase their talent in English and Portuguese. “We wanted to overcome the accent barrier, showing our full potential,” says Soveral. Thus arose the short “Red Souls,” selected for LABRFF this year. The film shows the drama experienced by women recruited in Brazil under false promises of high financial gains that end up in the US as sex slaves.
    To produce their short film, Soveral and Guimaraes had the support of the Industry Lab, the NYFA department that works as a production company, intermediating real client demands for audiovisual products, which are entirely delivered by students and recent graduates.

    Soveral and Guimarães wrote the screenplay and produced it, also shining on the screen. To direct, they invited another NYFA grad, Indian Aditya Patwardhan, with whom Soveral had worked with previously. “This interaction with different cultures is one of the best things about NYFA,” says the director, who got his MA in Film & Media in 2014. Patwardhan enjoyed working with Brazilians so much that this year he directed “When Red is White,” starring well-known Brazilian actress Thaila Ayala and Al Danuzio, who is currently enrolled in NYFA’s BFA in Acting.

    August 30, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3617

  • NYFA Grads Team Up for Thriller “Ryde”

    rydeIf you rely on ride share systems like Uber and Lyft, you may be reconsidering after watching “Ryde,” written, directed and produced by New York Film Academy alumnus, Brian Visciglia, and co-written and edited by NYFA alumnus, Dustin Frost.

    The thriller/horror film is about a cereal killer that uses ride share systems to lure victims in and kill them.

    “The story serves as an awareness for all of us using these ride share apps and, even for the drivers, to be more conscious and vigilant with the service,” said Visciglia. “Pay attention to the correct driver, vehicle, and even clients. It’s a great system and very useful, but as always all good can be misused and/or abused.”

    The idea for the film came about after Visciglia noticed a couple of intoxicated young girls calling for a cab — he wondered about their safety. A few weeks later, his friend and fellow NYFA alumnus Olavo Jr. DaSilva asked him to write a thriller for a short. Visciglia decided to update “Taxi” to a more popular and relevant transportation method — ride sharing.

    The film was shot with the ARRI mini Alexa in and around Los Angeles, including Hollywood Blvd where the crew had to prepare and shoot a car crash.

    “I learned a lot from my two years at NYFA,” said Visciglia. “I used that knowledge to write, organize, pre-produce, and execute everything leading up to this feature.”

    As for some advice from the first time feature filmmaker, Viscigilia says, “Practice, practice, practice. Do, do! do! Don’t give up hope. Do everything with passion. Nobody wants it as much as you, so you have to keep the energy and morale going. Read. Research. Pay attention in class. Also, this is ‘art’ as well as business, stay true to your art and stay within your budget.”

    August 26, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1426

  • Summer Camp Grad Wins Award of Merit at IndieFest Awards

    New York Film Academy High School Summer Camp graduate Sara Eustáquio was a recent recipient of the Award of Merit at the IndieFest Awards Film Awards in Los Angeles for her debut narrative fiction short film “4242.”

    sara e

    The young Portuguese filmmaker had already been awarded with the Award of Merit Special Mention at the Best Shorts Competition, also in LA, and the Junior Winner Special Jury Prize at the Near Nazareth Film Festival, in Israel.

    Inspired by true events, “4242” is about a teenager who leaves her home country, her family and friends, to live in another country in Europe.

    “This story is important to tell because teenagers across the globe increasingly face similar situations as the character of ‘4242’,” says Eustáquio. “For several different reasons, many teens end up living in different countries where they may not even speak the same language. This story is not only about immigration, as we have seen in Europe, but also about the mix up of so many feelings during adolescence. Perhaps even feelings that may occur during adulthood: loneliness, confusion, the integration process in new spaces, the challenge of displacement both physical and spiritual.”

    In addition to “4242,” the NYFA New York City Summer Camp grad also has a new micro short, “Mirror,” which she produced at NYFA to compete at several international film festivals.

    “My time at NYFA taught me much more than I could have imagined,” said Eustáquio. “During this program, I learned about all the technical aspects of the filmmaking process in a fast-paced environment, as well as the importance of telling a story and how to tell a story. It was an amazing experience which deeply changed my perspective and encouraged me to move forward. NYFA helped me find my voice and definitely made me realize this what I want to do.”

    August 23, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2495

  • Seth Rogen Screens “Sausage Party” at New York Film Academy

    Actor, writer, producer, and director Seth Rogen dropped by the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus on Wednesday, August 17th to show his new R-animated movie Sausage Party and talk about his long acting career. Hollywood Producer, NYFA Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

    seth rogen at nyfa

    photo by Kristine Tomaro

    The auditorium crescendoed into a roar when Rogen took the stage. And he didn’t disappoint, making the students laugh all throughout. Laiter began the conversation with Rogen’s beginnings: Rogen began his stand-up career at just thirteen. He had the usual plan: become a stand-up comedian, land a sitcom, and then make movies for forever. The goal was always to make movies.

    From his stand up, Rogen was able to land an agent. He auditioned for, and landed a role in, Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks when he was just sixteen. Then he began writing and acting on Undeclared. Next, he was hired on The Ali G Show, for which he was nominated for an Emmy. After conquering film in The 40-Year-Old Virgin he continued for two pictures with Judd Apatow: Knocked Up and Funny People.

    He then began working with his childhood friend and partner, Evan Goldberg. Their work includes This is the End, Superbad, Pineapple Express, and The Interview. He’s lent his voice to Horton Hears a Who!, Monsters vs. Aliens, Paul, and Kung Fu Panda. He’s recently turned his attention back to TV with AMC’s Preacher.

    tova and rogen

    photo by Kristine Tomaro

    Asked how the idea for the uniquely clever and funny Sausage Party came about he quoted two inspirations

    “Honestly,” Rogen said, Home Alone is one of the movies that made me want to make movies. Seeing a kid just beat the shit out of adults- it was like an action movie for kids and I remember thinking I want to make movies like that.”

    The second source: ‘When the Pixar movies started to come out I was just blown away by them. They weren’t just visually unlike anything I’d ever seen but the storytelling and the humor… It was completely a group of people working on another level. We were like, ‘Well, we’ll never be that good., so maybe we’ll do our own bastard version of that and we’ll get to take a sip from the well of glory for just a second.’”

    But an R-rated animated comedy was not an easy pitch, even with Rogen’s popularity and success. “Getting it made was the hardest part. It took us literally years, and years, and years of going to meetings and being told ‘no’ by independent financing companies and by major studios. Then finally brave Megan Ellison agreed to do it.”

    “So, that part was difficult. But we’d never made an animated movie. It was very different than anything we’ve ever done.”

    Also, “the releasing of the movie is always the most stressful time because it’s the part that one generally has the least control over. You never know how much they spent. You know how much the movie cost to make. You have a million conversations about that. But there’s literally never a conversation where a number is said in regards to the marketing budget. “But, in the end, the journey was worth it, if it helps the next person down the line, “I think there’s a distinct possibility that if someone was on the fence about making an R-rated animated movie maybe this might nudge them to the other side of it. We hope to make more R-rated animated movies and I really hope that, if anything, this inspires other people to take this and make something better”

    Laiter wanted to know what made Canadian comedians so consistently successful. “I’ve worked with British comedians before and they’re hilarious” Rogen Said, “but they don’t quite understand American culture to the degree they need to, to really infiltrate it. But Canadians grow up with American culture, but it’s not our culture. So, we probably more objective about it and a little more inclined to make fun of it”.

    Rogen has a reputation for working with his friends. “When you’re working, it’s really hard to do something that feels good a lot of the time. So when I’m on set I feel so much better if Jonah or Franco or Craig or Danny are there because they are just incredible at their jobs. Of the hundreds of things I have to worry about in my job as the director, producer, writer, that is not one of them. It’s just a stress relief. On top of that, we just like each other.”

    One student asked Rogen about how he handled criticism. “Honestly, that’s gotten harder as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger I was really aggressive and confident. Over the years, as I’ve read thousands of articles just saying what an idiot I am… I look back and honestly marvel at how little I thought about whether or not other people thought I was funny. It was all, ‘I think I’m good at this and I think I can do something different in movies, so I’m just going to write them’. The more I didn’t succeed, the more I’d get angry and I’d just try even harder… You just have to make sure it’s a good idea. Surrounded yourself with people who will be honest with you and give you good constructive criticism. Just never stop.”

    seth rogen in nyfa jacket

    photo by Kristine Tomaro

    Another student wanted to know if Rogen had advice for actors who were older and hadn’t hit yet. Rogen responded, “Ian McKellan became famous when he was like 80. There’re so many actors that just keep going and don’t quit. And there’re actors who don’t become famous until they’re in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and in the meantime they keep working in smaller roles. And if you’re only an actor and (you) can’t write or create material for yourself, then… become friends with a writer. They’re always looking for actors. Become friends with a director. They always need actors. Just link up with someone who has a job you can’t do.”

    “What is the most important ingredient in comedy?” a student asked.

    Rogen said, “Superbad is about two friends who don’t know how to tell one another they’re going to miss each other. That sweet center allowed us to have period blood on his leg and other crazy shit that would otherwise be appalling. So for us, we talk a lot about balance- emotion with crudeness, intelligence with stupidity, unpredictability with plausibility and sensibility. I think balance is the most important part of comedy, also between what genres you’re trying to mix- finding the exact mix of horror and comedy, of emotion and comedy. That’s what makes a movie unpredictable.”

    And as parting words Rogen emphasized the ‘unpredictability’ of great movies and asked the students to surprise him with the kind of breakthrough movies that make him ask: ‘How the hell did they do that?’

    That brought the house up to standing ovation.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Seth Rogen for his time. Sausage Party is now in theaters.

    August 22, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 2885

  • NYFA Instructor’s “Summer of 8” in Theaters Sept. 2

    New York Film Academy Los Angeles instructor Ryan Schwartz’s debut feature film, “Summer of 8,” is scheduled to be released in select theaters and all VOD platforms on Sept. 2nd, 2016. Schwartz has also recently started a new production company, Object In Motion, which is producing a true crime documentary, and he is currently attached to direct “Cadence,” a character driven sports drama set in the world of ultramarathons.
    summer of 8

    A Santa Monica, California native, Schwartz remained close with his high school friends and says his film is about that time in his life. “‘Summer of 8’ is about eight best friends sharing one last summer day together before heading off to college,” said Schwartz. “It’s a special day because they all sort of intuitively know things will never be the same again, so they really try to soak it all in.”

    “Summer of 8” stars Shelley Hennig as well as Carter Jenkins (from the upcoming MTV series “Sweet/Vicious”), Matthew Shively, Natalie Hall, Michael Grant, Bailey Noble, Nick Marini, Rachel DiPillo and Sonya Walge. The film has already been written about in Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, which wrote, “With an appreciation for the bittersweetness of summer’s last rays, first-time director Ryan Schwartz celebrates youth, beauty and mixed emotions over a daylong gathering at the beach. [SUMMER OF 8] strikes universal chords…the cast of twentysomethings deliver effective moments and a credible group chemistry…alive with flirtatious uncertainty.”

    With Schwartz’s release less than a month away, we thought we’d have a chat with the filmmaker to get a little more insight into his debut film.

    NYFA has a special thanks credit for the film. What was your reasoning behind that?

    NYFA is great about encouraging and supporting its faculty. They also provided grip and electric equipment, which I will be forever grateful for.

    Can you tell us how you secured distribution for this film? What was that process like?

    We shot most of film in Newport Beach, CA, and fittingly we premiered in April at the Newport Beach Film Festival. It was a blast. Most of the cast and crew came out and we sold out both shows.  After our screenings we had several sales agents and distributors approach us. We were absolutely thrilled that FilmBuff decided to take us on.

    summer of 8

    Were there any lessons you learned from making this film that you were (or will be) able to pass on to your students?

    I would say there’s two things that really crystalize for me. The first lesson is quite simple: there is no magic fairy dust secret to making good movies. People make movies. If you want to make a good movie, you need to surround yourself with talented, smart, generous, wonderful people. If you do that, you have a chance. If you don’t, you don’t. I am so grateful to my unbelievable cast, and to my entire crew who worked tirelessly for very little money.

    Which brings me to my next lesson: in the world of low budget filmmaking, the most important currency you have to offer is your passion/energy for the project and your gratitude for those who have rallied around you. That passion and gratitude is really the fuel that keeps everyone going.

    What advice do you have for filmmakers who are getting ready to shoot their first feature?

    Take a lot of deep breaths and trust that you’re ready. We shot “Summer of 8” at a lightning pace…10 days! Things were moving so fast. The key for me was to stay calm and collected, stay truly ‘in the moment.’ And to remember, I’ve spent my entire life fighting for this opportunity. It was finally here, so I made sure to enjoy every moment of it. And I did. It was an absolute blast.

    August 19, 2016 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2765

  • NYFA Attends Fox 2016 Television Critics Association

    Twice yearly the Television Critics Association gathers to cover the upcoming Fall and Winter programming from major television networks. This year, the New York Film Academy attended the Fox 2016 TCA tour. Fox is putting a more diverse network in its sights this Monday at the Beverly Hilton. The new line-up goes way beyond racial diversity. Fox is expanding the idea of animation on television, the roles women might play in major league sports, and who can play traditional roles.

    Pitch

    With Fox’s new show, Pitch, starring Kylie Bunbury as Ginny Baker the first female pitcher to play on a major league baseball team. Creator and Executive Producer, Dan Fogelman, believes it’ll only be a matter of time before we see a woman in one of the four major sports currently played in America. Fox also brought us the first Black President in the early two thousands with their show 24. Tony Bill, Executive Producer, said the show was pitched ten years ago and predicted the future we live in now, where it’s just a matter of time before a woman plays in the majors.

    The show isn’t just about baseball. What drew many of the creators to the project is the character of Bill Baker, played beautifully by Michael Beach, who is the show’s “sports dad.” Think about Serena and Venus Williams’ father or Tiger Woods’ father. Who are the men behind the child? What do they sacrifice and what drives them? For Bill Baker, it’s the fact that his father wasn’t there to help him get to the majors. He topped at the minors. Baker swore that he would be there for his son. He has a daughter.

    This is where the story begins, a father making sure his daughter has everything she needs to be the very best. So, the show wouldn’t be too bogged down in men, Ginny is given a publicist, Amelia Slater, played by Ali Larter. Both women have to navigate male dominated industries as women at the top of their game.

    Son of Zorn

    Son of Zorn will join The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and Family Guy on Fox’s Sunday night lineup. The show is a family sitcom about a divorced dad trying to reconnect with his estranged son after ten years. One caveat: Zorn, played by a subdued Jason Sudeikis, is an animated barbarian. Yes, you read that right. In the live action world, he is the only animated being. Instead of slaying dragons, he’s trying to land a steady job. His son, a shy kid, and his ex-wife, re-married to Tim Meadows, aren’t too interested in having him back around. Zany antics are sure to ensue in this very weird and bizarrely brave new show.

    Rocky Horror Picture Show

    Fox is also pushing the envelope with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Televised musicals have been prime time gold for network television companies trying to find their way in a streaming dominant world. Rocky Horror is taking a very definite step away from the original by embracing the camp cult culture that has surrounded the film since its original release in 1975.

    Costumes are adorned with bright sparkles and lots of feathers; the album is brighter with a stronger emphasis on rock music. One reporter asked point-blank why have a transgendered woman play a transsexual? Lou Adler, Executive Producer, said that Dr. Frankenfurter is an alien. Both Cox and Curry played the role as a person from another world. That’s what they wanted to focus on.

    Victoria Justice said of the opportunity to play Janet Weiss, “Another generation will be singing Time Warp…I get to sing Touch Me. This is so exciting.” Executives clearly have the Rocky Horror fans, and the soon to be fans, in mind when crafting this film. They employed the fan club president to make sure the film stayed authentic.

    They also added a crowd to the film. This is a weird kind of experimental twist on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It allows fans that love to participate in the action a chance to do so in their home. It also introduces new fans to crazy traditions of the fandom.

    Live social media interaction and the buzz around theater trained Lavern Cox, who has a five-octave range and will be playing the lead, nearly guarantee a high viewer turn out. Whether it’ll be a hit or not is something for which we’ll have to wait to see.

    The Exorcist

    Next on Fox’s plate is the television remake of The Exorcist. Creator and Executive Producer, Jeremy Slater, said he knew right off the bat he couldn’t write each season about a newly possessed family. No one tunes in for jumps and gore. The story has to come first. Evil has larger ambitions. They’re not just after one girl.

    There will be Easter Eggs for fans of the original series, and Slater insists that this is a continuation, not a remake. In his version, there are two priests, Father Tomas Ortega, Alfonso Herrera, and Father Marcus Keane, Ben Daniels, who are fighting to save the daughter of the Rance family. The matriarch of that family is Angela, played by Geena Davis. Davis said The Exorcist (1973) is the best horror film ever made.

    Gotham and Lucifer

    The Gotham and Lucifer panels went up at the same time. Immediately there was some concern about why Clara Foley had been replaced with Maggie Geha as the shows’ Ivy Pepper. Producers, Ken Woodruff and John Stephens, said the show is about growth and it was time for Ivy to grow from a timid fifteen-year-old to a sixteen-year-old who might be more willing to hurt people. (I could write about reactions here, but they’re mixed and I don’t know if we want to upset any potential future guests.)

    Lucifer will continue its exploration of adult children trying to work through familial issues, this time by introducing Lucifer’s mom into the mix. Some in the crowd voiced skepticism when they learned the actress playing the role, Tricia Helfer, was only a few years older than Lucifer actor, Tom Ellis. Show Producers insisted that Helfer was the best actress for the job, not to mention the supernatural aspects of the show allow for the suspension of disbelief.

    Finally, the time came to showcase the number one show on basic cable, Empire. Taraji P. Henson was there, along with Executive Producers Ilene Chaiken and Sanna Hamri. Season three’s focal point will remain on the Lyons, however, this time Cookie is determined to leave Luscious.

    Taye Diggs will enter the series as a potential love interest for Cookie. To which Henson responded, “…he wished.” Mariah Carey, who has already finished filming her role, will play Kitty a, “mega-superstar who comes to Empire to collaborate with Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) on an explosive new song.” Carey also has a story with lead character Jamal, played by Jussie Smollett, where she helps him acknowledge some personal difficulties.

    With its Fall 2016 line-up Fox continues its push for more diverse content. A mix of strong new content, listening to fan reaction, and a dedication to reinvigorating long-standing projects, Fox has set itself apart from other networks who’ve decided to stand close to their traditional programming; a gamble that’s already netted Fox big viewership rewards.

    August 17, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Entertainment News, Filmmaking • Views: 1562

  • Summer Camp Students Film on Universal “Western” Lot

    The New York Film Academy had a huge day on the Universal Backlot last Thursday as the tweens, teens, and Young Storyteller summer camps hit the Western lot to shoot twenty different films in just eight hours. Universal is the largest studio in the world and the Western set is one of their oldest and most recognized.

    young storytellers

    Students gathered on the set at 8am and were led a thorough safety meeting. Once the meeting wrapped, students broke into groups and set out across the lot to location scout. Potential sets included a saloon, stables, an apothecary, and façade of a stately home.

    Stories ranged from a tale of a sci-fi superhero, who’s been pushed around one too many times, to a standoff in a barn. The students explored every genre from romantic comedy to horror. The films shot on the lot will be screened at New York Film Academy for students and their families.

    young storytellers

    One of New York Film Academy’s acting students, Katisha Sargeant, said of her experience, “These kids humble me. Watching their passion for film has renewed my desire to pursue this craft.”

    One student said of her experience, “I’m glad we had a lot of time to think about the story before we got here. You just have to trust in your training and your crew and hope for the best.”

    universal backlot

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Universal Studios for their support and use of their lots.

    August 17, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1674