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  • President of Paramount Television Amy Powell Holds Q&A at New York Film Academy Los Angeles Screening of Hit Show The Alienist

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    The New York Film Academy welcomed Paramount Television President Amy Powell to its esteemed roster of Q&A guests this week. Director of the Q&A Series at NYFA Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Powell began her career as an intern for Ted Turner. She went on to create the marketing campaign for Paranormal Activity and produce the 3D Justin Bieber film Never Say Never. Now, she’s the president of Paramount Television, the one who has brought 13 Reasons Why, Grease Live for Fox, and The Alienist to screens everywhere.

    Based on a Caleb Carr novel of the same name, Paramount Television bought the rights for The Alienist 20 years ago. Yet when they acquired the rights, they were only in the filmmaking business, and the project proved too ambitious for a two-hour film.

    The Alienist was a perfect book for us to conceptualize for television,” Powell explained. “In fact, nine out of 10 of the shows we produce are based on literature.”

    Books play a huge role in Powell’s life. Even with two kids, a full-time job, and all the globetrotting she does for her shows, she still reads two books a week. Recently she bought the right to the Margaret Atwood trilogy Madd Addam as well as George David-Roberts’ Shantaram, a book she’s obsessed over for years.

    Laiter asked Powell why novels make such great television.

    “Books create the roadmap for depth of character,” Powell began. “They create set pieces and story arcs that are robust in nature. The ability for a screenwriter to come into a world that a novelist has envisioned allows them to create a visual patina on top of the depth of character that already exists.”

    Powell is an innovator. She created a marketing campaign for Paranormal Activity called “demand it.” At the time, Paranormal Activity was a small budget horror film. After its successful screening at Slamdance, the studio knew they had a potential hit on their hand.

    The “demand it” strategy began with a website. Powell would call up movie bloggers from all across the country and send them screeners of the film, they would write a review, and the fans would get excited about the movie. Fans were then directed to a link where they could demand the movie come to their city.

    Powell then personally called movie theaters and asked, “If we sell out your theater will you screen this film?” No one turns down free money. Once the theater agreed, local fans rushed to get their friends and families to buy a ticket so the theater would sell out.  

    The final touch to “demand it” was Powell’s; she arranged it so that the film only screened at midnight, making it feel more like a special event. The timing also meant that moviegoers left the theatre terrified at 1:30 a.m. — greeted not by the sun, but by pitch-black night. Fans leapt onto social media to tell everyone about the experience.

    Paranormal Activity went on to make $107 million.

    During the Q&A, one student wanted to know what Powell thought the future of television looked like, considering new tech like neural networks and quantum computing.

    Powell answered, “The shared experience of enjoying the paranormal and the scare and the thrill of being in a packed audience, that community sense of fandom is going to come to an end.” Instead, Powell projects that the experience will be more personalized. Exactly how that will come to be is unknown, but she encouraged students to study and explore VR and AR storytelling formats.

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

    Be sure to watch the last episode of The Alienist on Monday 3/26, or 13 Reasons Why, originated by Selena Gomez; Maniac directed by Carrie Fukunaga and starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill; Catch 22 directed by and starring George Clooney; Jack Ryan starring John Krasinski; and Shooter produced by Mark Wahlberg and starring Ryan Phillippe and Omar Epps.

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  • Kinjo Students Complete Filmmaking Workshop at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    The Kinjo University in Japan has enjoyed a long partnership with the New York Film Academy (NYFA). The collaboration between the schools allows Kinjo students to spend a few weeks in Los Angeles as they learn advanced hands-on skills in the visual and performing arts.

    After just a few days in the New York Film Academy’s program Kinjo students were taken to the Universal Backlot, where they filmed their first projects on the Western and Mexico sets. Students took advantage of the versatility the set provides to complete their class projects.

    Universal’s Western Backlot provides a number of settings for students. The exterior is a reproduction of an Old West town, but creep behind the set and it could be a modern-day industrial sight. Travel further onto the set, and it turns into an old town in Mexico.

    Charlyne Tsou, the coordinator for NYFA, praised the students’ preparation. “They are incredibly meticulous in designing their story. They only needed a little polish.”

    NYFA Instructor Michael Sandoval was equally impressed with his students. He said, “I always love working with the Kinjo students. I found them engaging, dynamic, and respectful. While we needed a translator, I don’t think this got in the way of communication. These students were incredibly sharp and especially warm.”

    During their classes, students were given a position on a film crew. Writers, directors, cinematographers, and sound recorders were all trained in their craft. Because of the time restraints of the program, not every student could make their own story, so they worked in four different teams to make four collaborative films.

    It’s clear the students were also elated with their experience at New York Film Academy. Runa Yamanouchi, a business student at Kinjo, was surprised that she was able to learn each stage of filmmaking in such a short time, and said, “I learned everything. It was a wonderful experience. I can write and direct a film without a problem now.” Yamanouchi was most excited about the experience she had at the Universal Backlot. “I still can’t believe it happened,” she exclaimed.

    Kinjo business student Raina Kobayashi is still processing her time at the Universal Backlot. “Shooting days were really challenging,” she said. “But my crew was really good, plus they all had really positive attitudes. I’m proud of the work we did.”

    The two weeks were a positive experience for everyone involved.

    “The most rewarding part of working with the Kinjo students was watching them grow through practical exercises in class,” Sandoval confessed. “I was amazed at their level of engagement and ‘go-getter’ attitude. When they picked up on the theory, the look of enlightenment in their eyes was energizing.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kinjo University and the incredible students who took part in the partnership course at New York Film Academy, and the long history of collaboration we have with the Kinjo school. We look forward to your next visit.

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    March 23, 2018 • Filmmaking • Views: 467

  • Director & New York Film Academy Grad Aymen Khoja’s Feature Debut is First American-Saudi Film Collaboration

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    The Arabian Warrior is not only the very first American-Saudi film production, but has also celebrated its premiere in Saudi Arabia at a historic moment, just as the Kingdom celebrates the opening of its movie theaters for the fist time in 35 years. The film follows Anmar, a young Saudi man who dreams of becoming a professional football player. It’s a deeply human story about navigating the tension between following one’s dreams, honoring one’s family and traditions, and finding one’s own way in a complicated world.

    After an incredibly successful red carpet premiere covered by major news networks in Dubai, the film is screening across the Middle East with Grand Entertainment — and soon the world, with a distribution deal with MultiVisionnaire Pictures, and an upcoming digital release on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.

    In the midst of his busy opening month, director and New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Aymen Khoja found the time to sit down with the NYFA Blog via email to talk about the film, the Dubai screening, and what’s next.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    AK: Passion and ambition. My active soul pulled my body from all the challenges I faced to the city of angels to study what I’ve dreamed of: becoming a filmmaker!

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most?

    AK: Filmmaking is the best way to get into people hearts! People would listen when they see things through films more than if you talk to them face to face. Plus, I love inspiring people with what I believe is right. Also, I love putting a smile on people’s faces!  

    NYFA: Can you tell us what brought The Arabian Warrior project to life? How did the film come about for you?

    AK: Young people always fight to achieve their goals against their parents, society, or any challenges could stand in front of them. I wanted to explain the pressure young people face when it comes to making their choices about what they want to be in the future.

    NYFA: The Arabian Warrior tells a story that highlights some tensions between a young man with a dream to pursue a non-traditional career, and his parents’ concerns for his future. What resonated with you about this story?

    AK: I’ve seen this situation around me with friends, family. To me the most important question is, how can the son reach his goals but at the same time respect his parents?  

     

    The Arabian Warrior poster via IMDB

    NYFA: Congratulations on screening The Arabian Warrior in Dubai! How did this event come about? Can you tell us a bit about the process of organizing the screening and how it feels leading up to the screening?

    AK: Thank you! It feels wonderful.

    I’d love to thank Dubai for welcoming my first of all time film premier! It was a super exciting process from very the beginning, when we signed Grand Entertainment to distribute our film in the Arab region.

    Big thanks to Isaac, who really worked everything out! It just can’t get better!

    Our film played in 48 theaters all over the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Fantastic success. I thank God, and everyone who helped me with this achievement.   

    NYFA: Did anything surprise you during filming, or where there any hurdles you overcame? Any words of wisdom for our students from your production experience?

    AK: A lot of surprises and many challenges, from losing locations, working with actors, staying within the budget, getting creative shots to save the day, etc.

    Advice I can give: be collaborative. Listen. Build a fantastic positive team. Move on. Don’t get stuck with one challenge; fix it and move on.

    Director Aymen Khoja via IMDB

    NYFA: What’s next for The Arabian Warrior?

    AK: It will be released on digital platforms in the U.S. and Canada: Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. We’ve signed with an international distributor worldwide, MultiVisionnaire. The film already has been released on TV, in some part of Asia and Africa.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    AK: I’m developing three projects at the same time. I prefer not to speak about them now, but all what I can say is, they will see light soon inshallah!  

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you are doing now?

    AK: NYFA is one of the main reasons for me to be at this place. I can’t thank NYFA enough. Instructors, environment, departments, classmates, everyone were super helpful. They gave me all the knowledge I needed for this wonderful journey in creating my first feature  film! I’m still in touch with all my instructors, we became like a family! Thank you, family of NYFA, from my heart.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Aymen for his interview, and congratulate him and Mohammad on the great success of The Arabian Warrior

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  • Face 2 Face by New York Film Academy’s Matt Toronto Now on Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Instructor Matt Toronto has just signed a two-year deal with Netflix to stream his film Face 2 Face.

    Together with his brother Aaron, Toronto wrote Face 2 Face about growing up in the age of social media. The film screened at the Manhattan Film Festival and had its premiere at the Edmonton International Film Festival, where it won the jury award for innovation.

    The movie follows two teenagers, Teel and Madison, who rekindle a childhood friendship online. Soon, they begin sharing their lives over the internet as a means of coping with the typical problems of adolescent life even though they are at opposite ends of the popularity spectrum. Madison in an A-list party girl, and she takes pity on Teel, the social outcast, vowing to help him win friends on social media.

    As their relationship deepens, Madison falls for Teel. She forces him to confess the hidden cause of the bullying he faces. His admission sets off a sequence of events that ultimately motivates Madison to expose her own secret. This digital coming-of-age story examines some of the most pressing and difficult social issues facing teenagers today.

    The story was inspired by a vacation Toronto took with his family years ago. While directing a play at the University of Utah, Toronto would FaceTime his wife and kids every night before bed.

    “At one point, the thought struck me,” Toronto said, “If we were talking about something interesting, this could be a movie.” That was when he decided to write a movie that takes place completely over video chat.

    As a professor working with young people, Toronto saw the effects social media had on his students. “I was working with young people all of the time. I could see how they interact with technology,” he said. “Teenagers seemed like natural choices for the heroes of the film.”

    As he dove further into the script, he decided to reach out to his brother, a counselor who has treated many people struggling with the same issues that Madison and Teel face in the script. “Aaron was able to bring a real authenticity to the characters and their development,” Toronto said. “But one of the most important inspirations came from a close cousin of ours who suffered in much the same way that Madison does in the film. We made this film in her honor.”

    Face2Face | New York Film Academy

    Some of the issues that the film focuses on include bullying, sexual identity, suicide, and sexual abuse. Raising awareness was a vital part of the filmmaker’s goals, but Toronto described a realistic and honest portrayal of friendship as the true heart of the film: “The film is about the power that friendship has to help us change, to help us become better people, and to help others as well. I hope the movie will inspire people to be friends. We can all be better friends to anyone who needs one. That’s the kind of thing that changes lives.”

    Toronto credited his time with the New York Film Academy to opening his worldview. The diversity of the school’s student body, in particular, had a profound effect on him. “I learn every time I teach,” he said. “That diversity has brought new insights and perspectives that I might never have found. Each student expands my point of view on the world and on the craft.”

    As an Acting for Film instructor stepping behind the camera, Toronto was able to bring a lot of the lessons from his classroom to the set. “My experience as an actor and an acting teacher are both essential to my work as a director. Actors are the humans that give life to the characters in a script. My background allows me to participate in that process with skill and compassion. I see my actors as designers.”

    To any actors looking to make their debut behind the camera, Toronto offered this advice: “Learn the craft of directing.”

    Matt Toronto | New York Film Academy

    NYFA Acting for Film Instructor Matt Toronto

    As intense as it is to learn the craft of acting, it’s equally important to focus on the details of directing. Toronto warned that it takes years to master directing, but there’s no better time to start than now. “The best actor/directors are the ones that respect both crafts, and put in the effort to grow as artists and storytellers throughout the entire process and on every project.”

    Toronto is working on several new projects. He’s keeping it a family affair, working with his wife to develop three television pilots and a feature, and working on two features with his brother, Aaron Toronto. Though it’s thrilling to see his film as he scrolls through Netflix, Toronto says that hasn’t been the most rewarding part.

    “About a week after it was released,” Toronto began, “I got a message from a viewer through the film’s website. In it, she shared that she was a teenager struggling with depression. She had been planning to commit suicide, but after watching Face 2 Face, she decided she wanted to live. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Knowing that our film had helped someone in such a profound way is worth more to me than all of the artistic accomplishments in my entire life. That’s what art is all about.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Toronto on all of his hard work. Face 2 Face is now available on Netflix in the U.S.

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  • New York Film Academy Alum Alex Kahuam’s So, You Want to Be a Gangster? on Amazon Prime

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking alum Alex Kahuam’s latest feature film, So, You Want to Be a Gangster?, is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

    Alex Kahuam directing So, You Want to Be a Gangster? via IMDB

    Shot in just three weeks, the dark comedy was inspired by the work of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Kahuam credits his education at NYFA and the amazing crew he met there for his success.

    Kahuam wanted to explore a black-comedy action film.  So, You Want to Be a Gangster? is a film about an unsuccessful actor named Victor, whose friends decide to enter him in a poker tournament to cheer him up — not realizing that the American mafia controls the game. When a fight breaks out, Victor is kidnapped and trapped inside a warehouse with the leader of the Yakuza and the head of a Mexican cartel.

    “I wanted to make something similar to my idols,” Kahuam says, pointing to his influences. “They make fun of reality, but at the same time manage to have some sort of political or moral message in the end.”

    For a true homage, Kahuam filmed So, You Want to Be a Gangster? in the same style as his cinematic heroes, implementing long takes.

    Long takes are challenging for a number of reasons: The actors have to nail every line of dialogue and every part of the blocking, the lighting has to be perfect throughout the entire shot, and crews will go through multiple tests to make sure everything runs smoothly.

    With such a short production schedule, Kahuam had to think and move quickly.

    “We didn’t have that luxury of time but we were able to manage,” explains Kahuam. “You have to be able to show your cast and crew that everything is okay. As the director, you’re the captain. Everyone is looking at you.”

    Kahuam says he was driven by this challenge. “We had long, complicated action scenes, stunts, pyrotechnicians, blood, makeup, prosthetics, squibs, etc. All those things that I just mentioned take a lot of time to coordinate and execute. I think the cast and crew did an awesome job. I’m really happy with the results.”

    Kahuam credits his education at NYFA with his ability to cope with the demanding schedule.

    “NYFA really instills two things in its students,” he says. “The first is teamwork. The second is to use the time at school to make mistakes.”

    Kahuam went on to explain that making mistakes in a safe environment allowed him to learn more quickly: “When you’re making a feature, you don’t have time to make mistakes. You can only rely on the team that is surrounding you.”

    Kahuam has been excited to share So, You Want to Be a Gangster? with audiences around the world. Now, distribution with Amazon has allowed him to attain this goal.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Kahuam on all of his success. We look forward to the next project!

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  • The Greensboro Four Remembered on February One with New York Film Academy Faculty Filmmakers

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    “February One” marked the 58th Anniversary of the Greensboro Four sit-in, and the producers, director, and editor of the award-winning short film, The Counter: 1960 were invited to North Carolina A&T to participate in a commemorative celebration.

    The day culminated with a screening of the film, The Counter: 1960, produced by New York Film Academy’s Chair of the Industry Lab and Producing Instructor Kimberly Ogletree, edited by NYFA’s Leander Sales; directed by Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd, and co-produced and starring Ashley Jackson, daughter of Reverend Jessie Jackson, to commemorate the protest in 1960. The story chronicles three WOKE students who are frustrated by police killings of unarmed black youth and wanting to contribute to positive change, the students experience time travel, finding themselves seated at a lunch counter in 1960 which sparked more civil rights sit-ins across the nation. This is the first award-winning short produced through the NYFA Industry Lab.

     

    In 1960, Jim Crow was the law and segregation was enforced. The flourishing five & dime store Woolworth’s sold inexpensive merchandise to the working middle class but African Americans were only allowed to shop there. Four apoplectic college students from North Carolina A&T decided that, when it came to segregation, enough was enough.

    Committed to making a change, they walked up town and sat down at the F.W. Woolworth “whites only” lunch counter and politely asked to be served. When they were refused, these brave young men remained in their seats. This event immediately sparked national attention. The action of four courageous young men added fuel to an already burning fire, with hope that this injustice would right a wrong through a nonviolent Civil Rights protest — which was only one of many that were spreading across the rural south.

    Hundreds of students, churches, civil rights organizations and members of the community joined the six-month-long protest. And on July 25th, 1960 the Woolworth department store chain ended its policy of racial segregation in its stores across the southern United States.

    New York Film Academy digital editing instructor, Leander Sales, remembers the racial tension in North Carolina: “I grew up in this and that’s what keeps me strong and focused.”

    The anniversary celebration at North Carolina A&T began with the laying of a wreath beneath the bronze statue of the Greensboro Four: Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain (Deceased), David Richmond (Deceased) and Ezell Blair. The event was well attended by the news media, students, young children from nearby elementary schools, and community residents, all present to honor the men.

    The day continued with a packed campus auditorium celebrating the civil rights movement with a panel of A&T students discussing the state of African Americans in 2018.

    After the assembly, a march from North Carolina A&T to the F.W. Woolworth museum was organized.

    As Kimberly Ogletree commented, “This is a monumental moment in my life. As I walk the same path as the Greenboro Four walked I can feel the anxiety they must have felt, because ultimately those young men had no idea if they would leave unscathed and alive because police brutality was an everyday occurrence in the rural south.”

    Once the march arrived at the Woolworth’s, the group was taken on a tour of the museum, where they were able to see the original counter where the sit-in took place in 1960. The celebration continued as The Counter: 1960 filmmakers shared their “February One” experiences and pitched their film on the campus radio station WNAA 90.1 FM, followed by the screening of the film.

    Every seat was filled in the theater and the film was very well received. The panel discussion was educational and informative. As these men were remembered, the celebration paid homage to their sacrifice to stand, sit, kneel and march on. They will forever be remembered in history as the Greensboro Four.

    The New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab in Los Angeles, California provided production services for the short film, which is currently receiving film festival accolades worldwide.

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    March 12, 2018 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 808

  • NYFA NEXT Young Filmmaker Program Participates in All Rise Film Competition

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    Three young filmmakers from the New York Film Academy BAFTA Community Outreach program were selected as finalists in the 2018 All Rise Say No to Cyber Abuse Filmmaking Competition in the ages 16-21 category. The theme this year was, “Is Cyber Abuse an International Crime,” and entrants incorporated this theme into their films, giving them a voice on the global epidemic that is cyber abuse.

    Chair of NYFA Community Outreach Mason Richards sounded the call for submissions to the NYFA Community Outreach alumni in Los Angeles who participated in the NEXT Young Filmmaker Program, an advanced outreach filmmaking program held in the summer at NYFA Los Angeles. The students responded by writing three different PSAs focused on the dangers of cyberbullying and its effects young people. “What was amazing about the short films is that the students wrote, directed, and filmed stories based on their real experiences growing up in south LA. They were able to utilize the filmmaking techniques they learned in the outreach film program to tell powerful and unique stories.”

    The students shot their 3-minute PSA at the Universal Backlot and the NYFA soundstage, and at Washington Prep High School in their neighborhood. NYFA provided the equipment and mentors to assist the students with their films. Post-production was also completed at NYFA where students practiced what they learned while editing on AVID.

    Sharyn Ross, Head of Outreach Program for BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), a long time partner with NYFA’s outreach program, added, “The students get so much out of the filmmaking program at NYFA, and they’ve always talked about coming together to create more work, so the All Rise competition was the perfect opportunity for them to collaborate on a project with a purpose and a message. The international exposure of their films was also very exciting for them.”

    The All Rise annual film competition is designed to give young people a voice about Cyber Abuse and how it affects their everyday lives. The 2018 All Rise young filmmaker finalists Rosalinda Larios (The Victim), Kevin Miles (All Rise) and Jeannie Gardner (Hidden Secret) were among hundreds who submitted to the competition and comprised three of the six finalists in their category. Other students that collaborated on the films are: Tashad Rutherford, Michael Madrid, Chablee “Bubbles” Adams, Daizia Gray, and A’leah Love. The final six films selected were screened and critiqued live online by a panel of distinguished judges including:

    • Paul Giannasi – Leads the UK Cross Government Hate Crime Program and manages the Police’s National Policy on Hate Crime.
    • Ronan Keating – Singer/songwriter.
    • Katie Corcoran – Secondary school history teacher and swimming teacher.
    • Simon Stanley Champ – Senior visual effects supervisor, Cineaste Studios.
    • Otto Bathurst – UK award-winning director, Robin Hood opening this year.

    Young filmmaker Rosalinda Larios added, “It is absolutely great to know that we made it to the final round. This truly acknowledges that our films have that special potential in it, that differed from among hundreds of other films. Hearing these major directors talk about my film, made me feel great. I received many compliments that elevated my self-esteem, but I also received other concerns that actually just motivated me to fix my errors, in order to become a great and better filmmaker.”

    Rosalinda adds, “Being part of the BAFTA/NYFA Outreach program has made a dramatic impact in my life. What I truly like the most about this program is the support system that we receive from all our teachers and mentors. This BAFTA/NYFA family we have created is a wonderful connection that has been part of my life.”

    The BAFTA/NYFA Community Outreach program is currently in its fourth year of partnership, where select students participate in a nine-week film camp on Saturdays, where they produce, write, direct, act and edit shorts films to be screened at NYFA Los Angeles. Classes are taught by NYFA faculty, mentors, and student volunteers. The current NYFA/BAFTA Community Outreach program is running for the Spring 2018 semester, and the final screening for the new cohort of films will screen on in April 2018 at the NYFA theater.

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    March 8, 2018 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1028

  • Gender Inequality in Film Infographic Updated in 2018

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) released its original Gender Inequality in Film infographic in 2013. Now, following the TIME’S UP™ movement and actress Frances McDormand’s impassioned call at the 90th Academy Awards for the industry to embrace Inclusion Riders, NYFA’s updated Gender Inequality in Film infographic presents research on gender in film from 2007 to 2017, from more than 40 sources and scholarly studies. 

    “With all that’s happening in the film industry, the New York Film Academy hopes to contribute what we can to the conversation with this infographic. It can be used as a reference and an educational tool to raise further awareness and inspire leaders within the entertainment industry, and beyond,” explains NYFA Chair of Documentary Andrea Swift. “It is an accessible way to interact with key information to support the movement to reach 50/50 by 2020.”

    Throughout Women’s History Month in March, NYFA will be highlighting different aspects of the data in this infographic as a four-part series. This is part one, and reveals the full, updated infographic. Stay tuned for more!

    To further support the conversation around gender inequality in film, NYFA will also host events throughout Women’s History Month, with a focus on International Women’s Day on March 8. For more information, click here.

    For additional content related to the conversation surrounding gender equality in film, check out these additional resources from the New York Film Academy:

    1. Time’s Up and #MeToo Dominate the 2018 Golden Globes
    2. Oscar-nominated Editor Kristen Nutile Screens Heroin(e) at New York Film Academy
    3. Anna Serner Speaks on Behalf of Gender Equality in Film
    4. Actress Rose McGowan Screens her Directorial Debut Dawn at NYFA
    5. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Diversifies With 774 New Members
    6. Patricia Arquette Demands Equality for Women
    7. Black Inequality in Film
    8. Sony Pictures Television Selects NYFA Alum Tiffany Paulsen for Diverse Directors Program
    9. NYFA Student Takes Part in Women of Sundance Panel
    10. Legendary Agent Boaty Boatwright Speaks at the New York Film Academy
    11. NYFA Spotlight: Gina Theresa on Women in Games and Motion Capture Acting
    12. Brandii Grace Discusses Inclusiveness in Video Games
    13. NYFA Embraces the Fearless Girl Statue Outside New York Campus
    14. Has Female Equality in Hollywood Progressed in 2014?
    15. UNESCO’s Gender Equality Heritage & Creativity 2014

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  • Oscar-nominated Editor Kristen Nutile Screens Heroin(e) at New York Film Academy

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    Academy Award-nominated editor and documentarian Kristen Nutile visited the New York Film Academy recently for a screening of Heroin(e) followed by a Q&A at the NYFA Theatre at the Battery Park campus.

    A Netflix original, Heroin(e) was nominated in the 90th Academy Awards Best Documentary Short category. The film follows three community leaders, all women, as they battle the opioid epidemic and work to save lives their city of Huntington, West Virginia, a place where the overdose rate is 10 times the national average. Heroin(e) is directed by Peabody-awarding winning Elaine McMillion Sheldon and edited by Kristin Nutile, a NYFA instructor.

    “When I was approached by Elaine, I was very moved by this particular problem and that is why I took on the project,” Nutile has told NYFA. “I loved how she was following three women trying to make a difference. I love that it was female-centric.”

    Despite the early, 7 p.m. start time and the fact that Heroin(e) runs at a tight 39 minutes, the event lasted late into the night, as Nutile generously and thoughtfully stretched her time to answer every student question.

    Nutile explained to a packed house of NYFA New York Documentary Filmmaking students, “I choose projects because I am interested in the subject and like to work with great people. Winning awards is never the goal. To be in an Oscar-nominated crew is truly amazing. Ultimately to me, it’s about the work.”

    Nutile has directed six of her own films and edited two dozen more in addition to teaching at New York Film Academy’s Documentary Filmmaking program in New York City. The program was named by The Independent Magazine in the Top 10 Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers and recently featured in IDA’s Documentary Magazine.

    Watch Heroin(e) on Netflix. You can also learn more on the website.

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  • Unwritten Obsession Screens for New York Film Academy Guest Speaker Series

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    This February, the director and stars of Lifetime Television’s Unwritten Obsession stopped by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles for a special screening and Q&A with our students. The evening was hosted by NYFA Instructor and Co-Chair of the Producing Department Roberta Colangelo.

    In attendance were the film’s director, NYFA Instructor David Martín Porras, and leading actors Haley Webb and Chelsea Lopez, who spoke about the filmmaking process from pre-production through post.

    Unwritten Obsession follows the story of Skye (Lopez), a struggling writer who loses her husband to suicide. In desperate need of money, she decides to mentor a young fan, Holly (Webb). When Holly completes her book, it is better than anything Skye had ever written. Devastated, Skye submits the book to her publisher with her own name on the cover. When Holly finds out, she decides to take what she’s learned about Skye and use it against her.

    From left to right: NYFA moderator Andres Rosende with Unwritten Obsession Director David Martin Porras and Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    Webb spoke about her process for getting into character. One of her more ambitious strategies was to begin writing a novel of her own. “I didn’t finish it,” Webb admitted. Yet the process of beginning a novel helped her get into the right headspace.

    “I focused a lot on the justice Holly was trying to get,” Webb explained. “She may seem evil at times, but there’s more happening underneath the surface.”

    Adding to the discussion of an actor’s preparation, Lopez shared that, for her, the rehearsals were the most important aspect of developing her character. She remarked that it isn’t often that actors have time to rehearse before production begins.

    Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    “Getting to hear David’s thoughts on each scene and how my character evolves was very helpful,” she said.

    For Porras, on the other side of the camera, the hardest part of completing the film was finding a way to make two characters in a house feel dramatically interesting for an hour and a half.

    “Slowly I realized none of the characters were as transparent as I thought,” Porras said. He got to work reorganizing portions of the script so the film would feel more like a thriller, and focused on working with his actors to illuminate the motives of their character. Porras described this process as “a pleasure.”

    Both Lopez and Webb spoke highly of their time on set, reminiscing that between takes they would have fits of laughter.

    Director David Martin Porras and Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    “It was a really great set, said Webb. “When a director is grounded in what they’re doing, they create a domino effect. They set the tone for the rest of the crew. It allowed us to perform and be present.”

    One student wanted to know if Parra had given his actors a specific theme or note to follow throughout the film. Webb jumped in and said, “Maintaining secrecy and holding secrets in my body posture was something we spoke about a lot.”

    “We spoke about journaling too,” Lopez added. The actress shared that journaling isn’t something that is usually a part of her process, but she found it was helpful in Unwritten Obsession. “We shared our journals with David. He was able to use each of our internal motivations and drives to help us bring life and depth to our characters.”

    From left to right: NYFA moderator Andres Rosende with Unwritten Obsession Director David Martin Porras and Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank David Martin Porras, Chelsea Lopez, and Haley Webb for taking the time to speak with our students. To learn more about New York Film Academy’s Guest Speaker series, click here.

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