Filmmaking
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  • NYFA Grad Kalpana Malviya’s “Made in America” to Air on Zee TV

    Kalpana Malviya is a New York Film Academy graduate who’s been blazing a trail in new television programing. Her new show, “Made in America,” is the first English language reality TV program designed for South East Asians to be shot in Hollywood. But she’s not content in just creating new programing, she’s also determined to bring the next generation of content makers with her.

    kalpana

    “Somebody helped me. I’m not too big to help anybody,” Malviya told me under a shady tree just outside of the studio where “Made in America” was shooting a dramatic prison scene. Malviya’s passion is earnest and forthright, “(students) have fresh ideas. We can learn from them and also guide them along the way.”

    Malviya credits the New York Film Academy with giving her a leg up in the industry, “I’m from India. Hollywood films really pop in India. I took what I learned at NYFA and landed a job with Zee TV.” While at Zee TV, she noticed the abundance of talent and resources and wondered why no one, anywhere outside of South East Asia, was making content for the region. She sought to change that, “I pitched them the idea. They loved it and now, here we are.”

    kalpana

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Kalpana Malviya for taking the time to speak with us. Malviya has created two more shows for Zee TV that will begin filming shortly. “Made in America” airs in early 2017.

    November 2, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2194

  • NYFA Instructor’s “Porgies & Bass” Wins Best Short at Coney Island Film Festival

    porgies and bassNew York Film Academy Filmmaking instructor Thomas Barnes’ latest short film, “Porgies & Bass,” recently won Best Short Film at the Coney Island Film Festival and will be screening at the Big Apple Film Festival, which will take place at the Village East Cinema in Manhattan on Friday, November 4th at 8:30pm.

    The film was co produced by NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo, and the crew featured numerous NYFA alumni and teacher’s assistants.

    The story surrounds Ben, a native fisherman on Long Island, New York, fishing for the prized large striped bass. Meanwhile, Jorge, a Latino immigrant catches porgies, a more common and smaller size fish. What starts out as a beautiful day on the beach turns into a skirmish over territory, and finally erupts in an unforgettable manner.

    We had a chance to speak with the director and NYFA instructor, Thomas Barnes, before his upcoming screening at the Big Apple Film Festival.

    What are some of the themes we can take from your film?

    With all the talk of building walls to keep people out and fears of outsiders stoked by politicians, this film explores social and racial tensions via a tense fishing story. Hopefully, the film transcends political sloganeering to get to a more complex view of people and their struggles to coexist.

    Thomas Barnes

    Thomas Barnes directing his actor on the set of “Porgies and Bass.”

    How did this film come about? 

    The story was devised after several years of fishing on beaches in Long Island, meeting men like the characters in the story, and imagining what would happen in a tense conflict between them. With script in hand in summer 2015, I invited NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo to come on board as he is an experienced Long Island producer where the film was to be shot.

    I raised the money for production privately and then successfully crowd-sourced the funds for post production via Indiegogo.

    What was the most challenging aspect of the production?

    The changing weather, tides, ocean conditions and light were all challenges. Shooting totally out of sequence and keeping on top of continuity was a headache.

    Also, working in the water with actors, props and camera made for some very tricky set-ups.

    porgies and bass

    Can you tell me the students and alumni involved with the production? 

    Co- Producer Richard D’Angelo helped to hire the following alumni:

    • Production Designer: Roxy Martinez
    • Associate Producer: Jolene Mendes
    • Assistant Director: Attapol Worrawuttaweekul
    • Production Coordinator: Francesca Morello
    • Key Grip: Mateo Salcedo Cancino
    • Gaffer: Miguel Garzon Martinez
    • Editor: Ross Vedder – works with NYFA Editing Dept. I met him through NYFA instructor Lanre Olabisi.

    What do you hope to achieve with this film and its screening at the Big Apple Film Festival?

    It’s a competitive awards festival, so I hope to earn the votes of our supporters in the audience!

    Are there any other screenings or festivals coming up where we can see the film?

    To be confirmed. It just screened at Woodstock Film Festival last week.

    November 1, 2016 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1139

  • Rose McGowan Talks Directing and Gender Inequality

    This Wednesday, the New York Film Academy welcomed “charming” actress and director Rose McGowan to its New York campus. Following the screening of her short film, “Dawn,” McGowan spoke candidly with NYFA Acting for Film Chair, Glynis Rigsby, as well as NYFA’s Short-term Filmmaking Chair, Jonathan Whittaker.

    rose mcgowan

    After literally being discovered on a street corner, McGowan made her film debut in the 1992 Pauly Shore comedy “Encino Man,” where she played a small role. Her performance as Amy Blue in the 1995 dark comedy film “The Doom Generation” brought her wider attention, and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. McGowan then appeared in the 1996 hit horror film “Scream” and starred alongside Ben Affleck in the 1997 coming-of-age feature “Going All the Way.”

    Later, she appeared in several Hollywood films, including “Devil in the Flesh” (1998), “Jawbreaker” (1999), “Ready to Rumble” (2000), “Monkeybone” (2001) and “The Black Dahlia” (2006). In 2005, McGowan played Ann-Margret alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Elvis Presley in the CBS miniseries “Elvis.” In 2007, she starred in “Planet Terror,” part of the double-feature film directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, “Grindhouse.” The following year, she starred in the crime thriller film, “Fifty Dead Men Walking.”

    Since the age of five, McGowan has had a fondness for classic cinema. Realizing that her true passion lies in filmmaking, McGowan decided to pursue the craft of directing. “There were no directors that looked like me,” said McGowan. “The gypsy experience of [directing film] was appealing to me.”

    Her directorial debut short, “Dawn,” made its critically acclaimed world premiere at Sundance Film Festival. The film is a disturbing tale of a young girl’s budding sexuality and one’s desire to experience the unknown. Dawn, played by Tara Barr, is a quiet young teenager living in Kennedy-era America who longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life. When she strikes up an innocent flirtation with the boy who works at her local gas station (Reiley McClendon), she thinks that he is perhaps the answer to her teenage dreams. Though when she invites the boy and his friends into her otherwise cloistered world, she gets a lot more than she bargained for.

    “I definitely gained a sense of confidence as a director,” she said. “I learned I was wearing the pants that fit me for the first time.”

    McGowan says the film was partially inspired by the classic Robert Mitchum film, “The Night of the Hunter” while some of the aesthetics of her 1950’s period piece was influenced by the original 1960’s Disney film, “The Parent Trap.”

    rose mcgowan

    “A lot of filmmaking is to make the least amount of mistakes as possible,” said McGowan to room full of acting and filmmaking students. “A painter gives thought to each stroke, so why not you.”

    McGowan stressed the importance of actors and filmmakers to know and be confident in their worth.

    She warned young actors venturing into the field to be wary of being controlled by those in higher positions and encouraged those who are oppressed to speak out.

    She’s also incredibly devoted to empowering women in film and television, stressing the overall gender inequality in film.

    McGowan has many projects in the works, including a feature and a pilot for Amazon Studios. She’s also expressed interest in directing a “Dawn 2.0,” which she says will be shot using VR filmmaking.

    October 28, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2644

  • NYFA Australia GC Grad’s Music Video Featured on MTV

    Damian Lang is a graduate of the New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast. His digital dialogue, “Diamond In The Rough,” has just come off its festival run, screening at four festivals and winning Best Student Short at the Colorado International Film Festival. Damian’s music video production for Gold Coast based DJ duo “Bombs Away” is also currently featured on MTV.

    Damian Lang

    Damian says that NYFA helped prepare him for the real world of the industry through its hands-on approach. “As a filmmaking student, we were constantly creating and learning while performing multiple roles in a film-like environment,” he explains.

    Currently working as a Locations Production Assistant on the latest Marvel feature shooting at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, Australia, Damian is also in post production for his latest music video produced for New Zealand rock-band “Mi-Sex,” as well as for his latest short-film entitled “The First Step.”

    damian lang

    His advice to aspiring filmmakers is that “no one gets a free ride, the choices you make will define you.”

    Check out Damian’s work on the latest music video for “Bombs Away” on MTV Australia’s website, by clicking here

    October 26, 2016 • Entertainment Australia, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1364

  • Guest Lecture from Director Bruce Bilson

    On Thursday, October 13th prolific director Bruce Bilson brought more than just a lecture to the BFA Filmmaking students on the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, he brought the history of Hollywood with him. Mr. Bilson took over David Newman’s class for the day and spoke with the students about the “nuts and bolts” of directing.

    bruce bilson

    Bilson’s notable credits include: The Flash (1994), Hogan’s Heroes, The Love Boat, The Six Million Dollar Man, Sanford and Son, Mary Tyler Moore, Get Smart, The Patty Duke Show, Bewitched, Dynasty, The Fall Guy, and Dinosaurs; to name just a few.

    Bilson recounted the tale of filming The Andy Griffith Show title sequence. A six-year-old Opi, played by Ron Howard, would stroll in next to Griffith. They hit their mark as they walked down the dirt road, but when Howard had to throw the rock he couldn’t quite make the lake. After several failed attempts, Bilson decided to have the prop guy sit behind a bolder and throw the rock. Bilson said if you watch the opening the timing of the rock hitting the water is visibly off. But, that’s the only tell.

    bruce bilson

    Bilson had some advice for the students. “Learn as much as you can about anything that interests you.” He credits his two years in the Air Force helped him direct an episode of Pensicola. “Nothing’s wasted,” he continued, “Lessons will come back to you.” He expanded by saying he hated taking the class that was most helpful to him, playwriting. Even though he never became a writer, being able to understand what made great storytelling was indispensable.

    His final bit of advice was to, “Research your project.” The obvious job is to watch the show and knowing the stats on the most popular episodes. “Do the show you were hired to do.” Perhaps not so obvious is to know who all of the people involved in the show from the Executive Producer to the Office Production Assistant. Bilson encouraged his students to “Get to know the secretary. They control everything.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Bilson for taking the time to come speak with our students. You can continue to watch Mr. Bilson’s work in syndication everywhere.

    October 25, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1413

  • Victor Okoye Frank’s Award-Winning “Purpose”

    Victor Okoye Frank came to the New York Film Academy from Nigeria to further pursue his passion for storytelling. “After college and research, I knew there was no better place to learn the precious art of storytelling than the prestigious New York Film Academy,” said Frank.
    victor frank

    His first semester in the 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory has been selected into a couple of festivals and won six awards including two from “My Rode Reel,” a competition that included over 1,500 submitted films from around the world. Recently, “Purpose” was nominated for Best Short Documentary and Best Director in a Documentary Award at the New York Short Film Awards (SOFI). The winners will be announced in December.

    “I was thrilled to receive the announcement from Rode,” said Frank. “Being such a big company and having over 1,500 movies to sort through — mine came in the top 2 in the Judges’ best films. Also, from the SOFI awards, I’m hopeful for the best overall film, but I will find out in the coming month.”

    victor frank purpose
    “Purpose” is a personal film, not just of his story, but of countless people around the globe who struggle through daily activities, doing things that barely make them happy. “It’s a story of hope and of a revelation that ultimate happiness can be found in doing what you love, and there’s no better time to get to it than now,” the director says.


    “I remember discussing the movie with my directing teacher [at NYFA],” Frank recalled. “He gave me tips of how to propel the story. Overall,  my training at NYFA gave me a good boost toward perfecting the film.”

    Frank is currently in pre-production on his first feature film “365.” He also runs a vlog about filmmaking, “Fourth Film,” which he says he attributes to the knowledge he received from NYFA.

    October 25, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2087

  • Comedy Director Paul Feig Screens “Bridesmaids” at NYFA Los Angeles

    On Wednesday, October 19th, 2016, famed comedy director, Paul Feig, came to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his beloved film Bridesmaids. Feig’s prolific film and television directing credits include Spy, Ghostbusters (2016), The Heat, The Office, Nurse Jackie, Freaks and Geeks, and Arrested Development. NYFA’s Director of Industry Lecture Series and successful Hollywood producer, Tova Laiter (Varsity Blues, Glory) hosted the event.

    Paul Feig

    Feig began the conversation by talking about his relationship with Judd Apatow. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know it’s who you know.” A lot of Mr. Feig’s career has been closely tied with Apatow’s career. “I’ve known Judd since he was seventeen. If he produced something, I’d act in it.” When Feig made a short film, Apatow liked it so much he helped him to get Freaks and Geeks green-lit. And in 2007, Apatow once again called Feig, this time for a table read of an untitled female comedy about a wedding.

    Feig said of that first table read, “I remember thinking ‘my gosh this is such a great vehicle for a bunch of funny women.’ Now, of course, this was the early days and the script needed a lot of work so I gave a bunch of notes. I called Judd (several months later) and asked him what happened. He said it was dead, so that was the end of that.”

    Three years later Feig got a call from his agent saying they were trying to revive the “bride movie.” The first name Feig thought of was Kristen Wiig. He had cast her in her first film role, “Unaccompanied Minors,” a few years before and “instantly fell in love with her.”

    laiter and feig

    When he started looking at how he was going to approach filming the script he used a standup comedy trick; write a bunch of jokes and then test them on audiences. The jokes with the best laughs stay in the movies, everything else is left on the cutting room floor. “I like doing action stuff. How can I make it physical and suspenseful so you’re scared and screaming at the same time? To get that kind of reaction out of the audience is a good time,” Feig said.

    One student asked, “When it comes to directing is there a difference between working with stand-up comedians as apposed to straight actors?” Feig responded, “Most of the funniest people I work with are really funny. If they’re going all out I usually tell them to pull back. [Directing] it’s really kind of guiding them. That safe environment is really important. Actors need to feel they can make mistakes. Let them try everything and don’t ever be punitive with them.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Paul Feig for taking the time come speak to our students. Ghostbusters is now available on DVD, and look out for his next film Song of Back and Neck coming out in 2017.

    October 24, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1427

  • Drone Presentation at NYFA Los Angeles

    On Thursday, October 13th, 2016 representatives from DJI came to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus to talk to the producing students about the opportunities drones bring to novice filmmakers.

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    The event began with a presentation exploring the different types of drones available for sale and to rent. After explaining the differences between a Mavic and a Phantom 4 it was time to explore how to use a drone in your film. Many think of the aerial helicopter shots being done for less. But, the presentation explored using a drone to replace everyday film equipment like a dolly track, steady cam, and a crane. Individually each piece of equipment could cost thousands of dollars to buy or rent.

    After the presentation, the students went to the parking lot to try their hand at flying the drones. Before the test flights began, the importance of contacting local law enforcement and air traffic controllers prior to filming was stressed to the students. Newest drone on the block, the Mavic, was the first out the gate. The stats on the Mavic are impressive: 24 high-performance computing cores, an all-new transmission system with a 4.3 mile range, a five vision sensors, and a 4K camera stabilized by a three-axis mechanical gimbal can be controlled with just a thumb.

    drone test

    Next, students flew the Phantom 4. The drone is controlled by an iPad and attached controller. It was Sherdell Turner’s, 2016 BFA Filmmaking, first time flying a drone. “I want to shoot a movie with nothing but drones. I’m putting my vision together now.” Aysha Radwan, 2014 BFA Filmmaking, said, “I would want to shoot a movie with this. I could replace a crane and a dolly for the interiors of my next film.”

    Filmmaking professor, Richard Freidman, originally conceived the idea of bringing DJI to come speak to the students after using one of their drones on his own project. “Drones are an important tool for filmmakers,” he stated. “Not enough people use it. Drones are revolutionizing how people make movies. Any film I’m shooting will have a drone on set at all times.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank DJI for presenting their drones to our students. If you’d like to learn more about the products and services DJI provides you can find more information by clicking here.

    October 24, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Producing • Views: 1040

  • Award-Winning NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Talks “Money”

    Martin Rosete came to the New York Film Academy in 2007 thanks to La Caixa Fellowship Program in Spain. “At that time I could not even dream everything what I was about to learn at NYFA and all the opportunities it would provide me in the professional world,” said Rosete.

    martin rosete

    After attending the Two Year Filmmaking Program, Rosete went on to direct the short film “Voice Over,” which won numerous awards at festivals all across the world.

    From there, Rosete went on to direct the feature film, “Money,” which continues to gain buzz on the festival circuit. The movie stars Kellan Lutz (“Twilight saga,” “The Legend of Hercules”) and Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Cabin in the Woods”).

    On November 5th, the film will premiere in NYC at the Big Apple Film Festival, and on November 4th it will play in LA at the Egyptian Theater as part of the Arpa International Film Festival. Next year, the movie will be commercially distributed worldwide.

    We had the opportunity to speak with the award-winning director and NYFA alumnus before his upcoming premieres in NYC and LA.

    Congrats on all of your success! Can you tell us about your new film, “Money”?

    “Money” is an elegant thriller that talks about human greed and how money (and the lack of it) can affect different individuals from different backgrounds. We tried to do it as universal and commercial as possible, and we are really happy with the final movie.

    VOICE OVER (English subtitles) from Kamel Films on Vimeo.
    How did this film come about?

    After directing my short film, “Voice Over,” which won over 100 awards in film festivals and got a nomination for the Spanish Academy Award (Goya), I felt that I was ready to jump and direct my first feature film. I started to read a bunch of scripts that my agent (at WME at that time) sent me and, in the end, I found the script for “Money.” I felt it was perfect for my first feature. It was contained, commercial, fun, with great characters and dialogue. I fell in love with it.

    I teamed up with Atit Shah, an American producer based in NY, and we decided to produce it together. It took us a little bit of time to put all the pieces in place, and I have to say that it is been an exciting and fun process, and we are already planning to repeat the team for our next film.

    What was the most rewarding aspect of the production?

    Probably the cast we got. It was amazing to have the opportunity to work with so many talented actors such as Jesse Williams, Kellan Lutz, Jess Weixler, Jamie Bamber and Lucia Guerrero. And besides the talent they have, I will be always thankful for the professionalism and commitment they showed on set. It was a dream to work with all of them.

    on set of "Money"

    How did your NYFA education prepare you to direct “Money”?

    I am from Spain, and the time that I spent at NYFA helped me a lot in understanding the way things are in the industry, in the US; and the fact that we were literally shooting every week also helped in having the opportunity to try different things without any fear of failing. That is really important to be prepared for the real world after your studies are over, and I am really happy to have had that opportunity.

    You’ve had tremendous success at the film festivals. Can you provide any advice to students about to enter their films into festivals?

    Film Festivals are the main door to the professional world. Being in the big ones and winning awards gives you the visibility that you need to find the right producer, agent, or investor interested in your work. My work has been selected in more that 500 film festivals, winning over 200 awards. The only secret is to have something good to show out there and to have the energy to find the resources to distribute your work in order to get as much as possible out of it.

    "Money"

    Is there anything you can tell us about distribution for “Money”?

    The movie was completed in April 2016 and it is doing great in film festivals. About the commercial life of the movie, it has been sold to many territories and we are negotiating a deal with a studio right now. I would love to be more specific, but unfortunately I cannot reveal more yet. All I can tell you is that in 2017 “Money” will have worldwide distribution.

    What kind of advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers and NYFA students looking to direct their first film?

    Whatever you do, do it right. Even if you are doing a small practice with no budget. Try your best. Put all the energy and passion to get the best out of it. Sometimes the result won’t be great but you may get a good lesson that you can apply in the next shooting. I always joke with my crew, even on low budget sets, telling them that we have to face the shoot as if we were doing “Ben-Hur,” because that kind of commitment from everyone makes the difference. And besides all that, for me, it is very important to do things this way to show the respect for the profession and for the professionals involved.

    Are you currently working on any other projects that you’d like to share?

    Yes, as I said, Atit and I are working on a wonderful dark comedy called “Remember Me” written by Rafa Russo. The script was one of the top scripts of the year on The Black List, and it is one of the best scripts that I have read in my life. We are super excited because we know we have another winner on those pages. I cannot wait to start shooting!

    October 21, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1980

  • Golden Globe Winner Jacqueline Bisset Brings “The Last Film Festival” to NYFA

    On Thursday, October 13th, 2016, Golden Globe winner Jacqueline Bisset brought her film The Last Film Festival to New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. Bisset’s credits as an actress are wide and varied from her premiere role in Roman Polanski’s Cul-De-Sac, Casino Royale, Welcome to New York, Two for the Road, Murder on the Orient Express, and Nip/ Tuck. NYFA’s Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter, and Acting for Film Professor, Phil Kaufman, led the Q&A discussion after the screening.

    bisset

    The Last Film Festival was a big hit with the students, who laughed from the first scene on in recognition. Dennis Hopper’s last movie holds a bit of bittersweetness amongst the hilarious nature of the film. Director Linda Yellen’s crafted a film about passion and hope when everything is going wrong for your movie.

    Bisset had this to say about working with female directors, “Women directors have to adjust, particularly to the men. That was a big lesson to me. Female directors can’t behave like me. Their voice level, their tone, their gestures all have to be controlled at all times. The minute she gets a bit wobbly, everyone jumps on her and tries to seize control.”

    Laiter kicked off the conversation by asking Bisset the age-old question, “How’d you get your first break?” Bisset responded with, “The biggest break was me going, ‘well I might give it a try.’”

    jaqueline bisset

    Two comments she received in her youth helped define the direction of her career.

    “My Latin teacher told me once, ‘You’re such a chatterbox. You might make a good actress.’ Then I went to a dinner party; I was fourteen at the time and Roman Polanski was there. He said to me, ‘You’re quite the introvert. You might make a good actress.’” She tried her best to bring these two separate thoughts together to envision what kind of actress she would become.

    After making her decision, she had one fear. “I was very nervous about telling them [her parents] because I knew my father wasn’t going to pay for anything.” So Bisset began to work as a waitress in her spare time after school. She was cast in a Polanski film and did a few other projects before being offered a multiple picture deal with 20th Century Fox. She joined a talent pool and legendary director George Cukor (My Fair Lady and Philadelphia Story).

    jacqueline bisset
    But, coming to America wasn’t a waltz for Ms. Bisset. She was accustomed to English tradition, which stipulates one give up their chair to an elder and say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am.” “People in Hollywood want to be treated with respect, but they don’t want to be treated as if they’re older. It took me a little time to figure it out.”

    Bisset went on to answer some questions from students. One asked, what advice Bisset would give to women entering Hollywood, “Don’t do anything that you don’t want to do. I mean anything sexual you don’t want to do. I think a lot of people get caught up in the seedy part of life. How you dress has a tremendous effect on how men treat you. When I hear some of the tales people tell, particularly in books, I’m mortified. You’ve got to be very sure what you want. Never do any of that to get the job. It won’t guarantee the job. Absolutely not.”

    Another question asked was, knowing what you know now, what advice would you tell your younger self? “Educate yourself. We are the breath of other people. We have to empathize with the world and people around us. What you have in your eyes will tell a story. You emanate in your energy and passion. It’s about the make-up and the costumes, of course, I think if you educate yourself you become a more interesting person which means you have more to give. Don’t have a silly life. Try to have a deep relationship soon. All of that stuff.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Ms. Bisset for her time. You can see Bisset in her upcoming films Nine Eleven and Backstabbing for Beginners coming out in 2017.

    October 20, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1496