• Sony Chair Michael Lynton Says Now is the Best Time to Make Movies

    With Sony’s new Ghostbusters film coming out this Friday, the timing couldn’t have been any better to welcome Chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Michael Lynton, to the New York Film Academy’s Guest Speaker Series.

    michael lynton

    Lynton leads SPE’s global operations, including motion pictures, television and digital content production and distribution, as well as home entertainment acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities, and the development of new entertainment products, services and technologies.

    Under the leadership of Lynton, The Sony Motion Pictures Group has garnered Best Picture nominations for American Hustle, Captain Phillips, The Social Network, Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty in addition to blockbuster franchises such as The Amazing Spider-Man and James Bond.

    Lynton also oversees Sony Pictures Television (SPT), which produces and distributes award-winning programs such as Breaking Bad, Justified, and The Blacklist.

    At the Q&A event, moderated by producer Tova Laiter, Lynton provided invaluable insight into the business, especially from a studio standpoint. His overall look on the current state of Hollywood and the business was very positive, especially for our theatre full of filmmakers and actors.

    michael lynton

    “I think the studio model at moment is in pretty good shape,” said Lynton. “We are hungrier than ever for talent and new projects. This is a better time than ever to get a movie made and seen.”

    Lynton says that more than anything, it is a persons hustle, wits, and ability to make things happen that gets them in the door and climbing the ladder faster than others. As for how to get started, he says, “Get a job any place you can on the outset. You want to get noticed very quickly.”

    As for our acting students in the audience, Lynton said, “Go out on auditions as often as you can and have a thick skin. And don’t be particular about your first few jobs.”

    After an hour conversation, students left the theatre motivated and felt very encouraged about the outlook on their future careers. We’d like to thank Mr. Lynton for taking the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to let our students and recent graduates pick his brain on the many subjects of the entertainment business.

    July 13, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 2530

  • NYFA Welcomes Hong Kong Director Adam Wong

    New York Film Academy welcomed Hong Kong director Adam Wong as part of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York (HKETONY) program, which showcased nine distinguished Hong Kong films in New York. The program is an integral part of the current New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

    Adam Wong

    Director Adam Wong at New York Film Academy

    Wong shared his debut feature film, When Beckham Met Owen, which is about two thirteen-year-old boys, David and Michael, who are brought together by their mutual love of soccer. United by their obsession with the game and idolization of British soccer stars, the boys build a strong friendship. But as puberty brings about changes, the boys start to grow in separate directions. While David loves to talk about sex and other raunchy topics, Michael tries to avoid such conversations. Eventually, Michael must face what he’s been avoiding for some time—that his feelings for David are becoming increasingly complex.

    Wong shot his first feature of off a $30k budget, which he was able to raise from actor Eric Tsang while working on set of Infernal Affairs 2. From there Wong moved on to his second feature, Magic Boy, a Mongkok-set youth romance that takes place in the world of amateur magicians. Wong spent the next four years after Magic Boy looking for an investor to finance his third feature, The Way We Dance, which also captured the spirit of youth with its tale of hip-hop street dancers. It was an unexpected box office hit on release in the summer of 2013, scoring more than HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) at the Hong Kong box office.

    Over the years Wong says, “I’m trying to be more patient and believe in my initial intention.”

    With his latest film, She Remembers, He Forgets, Wong enters a more mature phase of his career.

    July 6, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 600

  • Student Networking Night in LA

    Every semester New York Film Academy Los Angeles gathers young aspiring professionals together to provide them with an opportunity to establish new connections and share their ideas and projects while building a strong list of professional contacts. It was a huge turn out for Student Networking Night on June 24th, which was hosted by NYFA’s Chair of Industry Outreach, Barbara Weintraub.

    meet greet

    “This is my second networking event at NYFA and it’s very helpful,” remarked MA Filmmaking Student, Daniel Peres Morel. “Here I’m getting all type of connections—meeting producers, cinematographers, people who I become friends with, collaborate with—and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”

    In the creative spirit of “meet & greet,” non-profit organization NewFilmmakers LA (NFMLA) joined the event to share information about all the wonderful showcases and screenings they organize monthly to support emerging filmmakers. NFMLA provides a forum where filmmakers can be recognized for their contributions, have open audience discussions about their projects and connect with industry professionals for insight on distribution, production, acquisition and representation.

    newfilmmakers la

    “This event is really important, because connections you make here could bring you on further when you go into your life after school,” commented One-Year Acting for Film student Stephanie Weise.

    Business cards were exchanged, filmmakers crewed up and lots of pizza was eaten!

    nyfa la networking

    “It was a great event to meet actors, actresses, directors, and filmmakers all under one roof,” added One-Year Cinematography student Zachary Haussmann.

    NYFA is very excited that students from different programs were able to find collaborators with shared interests.

  • NYFA Alumni Panel Talks Business, Networking and Movie Trivia Following Screening of “Hellion”

    New York Film Academy had the pleasure of welcoming back alumni Tanner Beard, Steven Garcia, Ashley Eberbach, and Ryan Rottman. These former students returned after over a decade, having attended NYFA Los Angeles when it was a small group of offices running out of the Universal backlot.

    The evening started with Hellion, starring Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and produced by Tanner Beard’s production company, Silver Sail Entertainment. They also screened a trailer of an upcoming film from Silver Sail Entertainment. Filmmaking instructor Eric Conner moderated the Q&A that followed.

    alumni nyfa tanner

    One of the first things the group focused on was the importance of being a positive person to work with, with Ryan Rottman saying, “In this town, the nicer you are, the more real you are…people appreciate that.” Rottman has acted in several TV series, including 90210, The Lying Game, and Happyland. He’ll be appearing with Kevin Spacey in the upcoming film, Billionaire Boys Club.

    Steven Garcia, VP, Current Programing and Development at B17 Entertainment, added, “I’m thankful I’ve surrounded myself with good people. I’ve been a good enough teammate to have them keep me around.”

    This went along with the question they were asked about how to network. The whole panel agreed when Rottman said to “talk to other people.” Beard added that students should “surround [themselves] with people who love what you love and do what you do. Once you get out of school you’re so hungry for it, you forget it’s going to take time.”

    6 Bullets to Hell – Video Game Doc from Ashley Eberbach on Vimeo.

    They did admit how difficult the business could be, but their hope was to show that it is possible to succeed. Beard said that “it never gets easier. It was something I wanted very badly. I took the glass half full approach.”

    Rottman advised that students “not [let] it beat you down…just keep going. I know people who booked it…do your best.”

    nyfa alumni panel

    Ashley Eberbach, who works as a photographer and runs a multi-media production company in Los Angeles, chimed in, saying, “I think we all have war stories of like ‘I can’t believe that worked out.’ Make the best of it—the minute you break, that’s when you have a disaster. Making movies is supposed to be fun.”

    They reminisced fondly about their time at NYFA, and Beard said that “it is so cool…we are so happy to be here.”

    They concluded the evening with a movie trivia contest with prizes like Silver Sail Entertainment T-shirts and a signed event poster. We hope this will be the first of many visits back from these thriving, successful graduates.

  • Director Alexis Sweet Holds Guest Lecture at NYFA South Beach

    An often overlooked but crucial element in pre-production is storyboarding. Recently, the New York Film Academy South Beach invited director Alexis Sweet to the college to speak on the importance of this very topic. Sweet provided several storyboard examples from his own films and music videos, which he has been working on since 1981.

    alexis sweet

    Director Alexis Sweet at NYFA South Beach

    Sweet has worked on feature films and TV commercials as 1st Assistant Director with filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Hugh Hudson, Joe Pytka, John Boorman, Ridley Scott, Nick Roeg, Richard Loncraine, Spike Lee, Mike Figgis, Tsui Hark and others over the years.

    From 1995 to 2003, he made a number of wildlife documentaries in Africa for national parks and projects funded by the EU.

    By 2002 he had shot over 100 TV commercials for Italy, Romania, Germany, US, England, Kenya and the Middle East.

    In 2003, upon meeting Pietro Valsecchi, he was offered to direct two seasons of “RIS Delitti imperfetti,” an Italian television series that is currently number one in Italy and France.

    Given the fact that Sweet has such a vast background in the industry, students were able to openly ask questions and get a greater insight into the job of a director.

    The New York Film Academy South Beach would like to thank director Alexis Sweet for taking time out from his duties at the Miami Independent Film Festival to come and speak with our students.

    June 30, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2629

  • NYFA Grads Team Up For “Thumbs Up”

    Acting for Film graduate Mey Ferdinand, who came to NYFA from Brazil, has recently spent a week in Los Angeles to act in the Brazilian-American production called Thumbs Up, directed by NYFA alumnus Brian Visciglia. The LA based film was produced in partnership with local and international artists, and the production company Red Line Filmes.

    Still from "Thumbs Up"

    Still from “Thumbs Up”

    Thumbs Up surrounds Internet celebrity, Gabriel, a young Brazilian artist who becomes lost in his own fame. Dealing with his agent, personal problems, as well as his superficial and selfish decisions moves him into an entirely new lifestyle that is anything but “normal.”

    With an international cast and crew, the movie focuses on the fact that today’s Internet stars are the new decision-makers in the entertainment world and, often times, are not prepared to handle the responsibilities. The goal of the film is to show how the Internet influences our youth not only in the US and South America, but in the entire world.

    thumbs up

    Still from “Thumbs Up”

    The film is also an important lesson to all of our students, as we always encourage our graduates to work on projects with the people they hit it off with in school.

    “NYFA was very important to my career,” said Ferdinand. “Not only for its acting lessons, but all of the networking I was able to do while attending.”

    Upon her return to New York, Ferdinand will be acting in another short called Model Life, where she plays a fashion director of a magazine. The film will be released for cable in Manhattan.

    June 29, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 808

  • “Men of Honor” Filmmakers Visit NYFA LA

    Following a screening of Men of Honor, students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus welcomed Director George Tillman, Jr., Producer Robert Teitel, and Cinematographer and NYFA Cinematography Chair Anthony Richmond, for a Q&A. Men of Honor, starring Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Charlize Theron, is based on the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, a man who overcame racism and the amputation of his left leg to become the first U.S Navy Master Diver. NYFA’s Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, moderated the event.

    tillman and teitel

    Director George Tillman, Jr. and Producer Robert Teitel

    George Tillman, Jr. is a director/producer/writer, best known for the Barbershop franchise, Notorious, a film about rapper Notorious B.I.G., Faster, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, The Longest Ride.” Tillman also wrote, directed and produced the award-winning film Soul Food, with his producing partner, Robert Teitel. Teitel is a producer best known for his work on Tillman’s films, as well as Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and Nothing Like the Holidays (for which he wrote the story). NYFA Cinematography Chair and Cinematographer Anthony Richmond has had a long and illustrious career, starting in the 1960s with the Rock and Roll scene, working with, Jean-Luc Goddard, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and then making his way into features on films such as The Man Who Fell to Earth, Legally Blonde, and The Sandlot, among many others. The tight-knit group reminisced about their experiences on Men of Honor, relating fascinating tales from the production, as well as invaluable words of wisdom.

    Tillman spoke very fondly of working with Robert De Niro. He related one episode on set in which the legendary actor picked up a phone while acting and the heavy prop struck him in the head. De Niro quickly regrouped and yelled for the cameras to “Keep rolling!” and to start the scene again. Without missing a beat De Niro recognized that this incident provided him an opportunity and he used the unexpected emotions to give a better performance in the next take.

    Cinematographer and NYFA Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond related a funny anecdote about his experience with the costume design for the film. A U.S. Navy ship provides the backdrop for the film, which of course means the story involves many sailors in uniform–white uniforms. Anyone who’s tried to film an actor wearing white knows that achieving proper exposure balance within the scene becomes very difficult. When Tony first got to set on the deck of the ship and saw a hundred extras wearing white under the blistering sun he said he almost had a heart attack. However, the highly skilled DP quickly found solutions to make all the shots work.


    NYFA’s Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, Director George Tillman, Jr., Producer Robert Teitel, and NYFA LA Cinematography Chair, Anthony Richmond

    Producer Robert Teitel related the importance of how film school supplies students with the opportunity to create a “calling card” with which to break into the business. This is what he did with his 30-minute short Paula, which won several awards, including the Student Academy Award. This is also when he forged what was to become his very successful long-term partnership with George Tillman, Jr., who directed the short. The short helped Robert and George raise $150,000 and produced Scenes for the Soul, a feature film that was shot in Chicago, using local talent and resources. Scenes for the Soul was sold to Jackson-McHenry at Savoy Pictures for $1 million.

    We thank George Tilman, Jr., and Robert Teitel for visiting our school and wish them the best of luck in their careers!

    written by Melissa Enright and Robert Cosnahan

    June 23, 2016 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1153

  • POV Camera Operators Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev Talk Behind-the-Scenes of “Hardcore Henry”

    Recently, the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles screened the Sci-Fi action film, Hardcore Henry, which was shot almost entirely from a first-person perspective. Following the special screening, we were fortunate to welcome the extreme operators, Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev, who were behind the GoPro the entire time.


    After screening the film, Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev shared an exclusive behind-the-scenes trailer, which revealed the secrets of how this unflinchingly original wild-ride was actually made. It’s more complicated and dangerous than one would think.

    There were more than 100 working shifts, trainings with stunts teams, injuries, and other craziness. In one of the fight scenes Valyaev really punches Dementiev (who also played a character Slick Dmitry) in the face as hard as he can. When you shoot POV, the camera is so close to the face that you can’t perform a fight sequence in the usual way.

    Valyaev and Dementiev also recalled that there were a lot of scenes shot without any safety gear. One particular scene was when they were both running on top of the bridge. After four takes the entire crew was frozen, but, according to the talent, that was one of easiest scenes since both of them have over ten years of experience in parkour.

    Sergey Valyaev also discussed the invention of a special rig. He explained that in order to make viewers believe he is the main hero, the camera must be not be placed on the forehead area, as you would think, but on the mouth region. When the camera is in this position, it captures the body frame, which creates the effect of presence.

    In regards to what the hardest part of shooting Hardcore Henry was, Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev confessed that staying in one position and waiting for the command “action” was more difficult than anything else. Sometimes they would have to freeze in completely uncomfortable poses and hold it for hours, just so the continuity of the shot wouldn’t be ruined.

    Sergey Valyaev and Andrey Dementiev

    Valyaev and Dementiev answered dozens of questions from excited NYFA students and concluded: “Before learning how to fly you have to learn how to fall.” This rule applies to any field or profession.

    Be sure to check all Hardcore Henry behind the scene webisodes. You’ll be impressed!

    June 20, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3100

  • NYFA Alumna Livi Zheng Screens Debut Feature “Brush with Danger”

    On June 8th, New York Film Academy students were treated to an inspirational evening with one of their own when they attended a screening and Q&A with NYFA alumna, feature film director, and accomplished martial artist Livi Zheng.

    livi zheng

    Livi screened trailer clips from her first film, Brush with Danger, which she co wrote and starred in with her brother. She also screened press clips from her first film and exclusive behind the scenes from her second film.

    In addition Livi had good advice on the distribution process, one of the most difficult areas for new filmmakers to navigate. She addressed the topic of distributors pressuring to sell your movie immediately “take your time to make your decision. They want to rush you…once you sign, it’s binding,” she said.

    Livi began her academic career in economics before deciding to switch to filmmaking. A lifelong student of martial arts, she has been interested in filmmaking since she was fifteen years old because people in martial arts “do movies or coach.” She told the audience, however, that she sees a strong relationship between filmmaking and economics, telling the assembled students and guests,”Film is a business. It’s very related to economics, but you can learn [economics] by doing it—read a book or Google it.”

    June 16, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 752

  • MFA Filmmaking Grad Yolanda Centeno Directs Commercials with Grey Advertising

    Yolanda CentenoNew York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking alumna, Yolanda Centeno, has recently directed a viral campaign for one of the world’s top advertising and marketing organizations: GREY ADVERTISING GLOBAL.
    Centeno started enjoying a great deal of success in 2014 with her multi-awarded NYFA thesis film called Zugzwang, which was accepted into more than 400 film festivals around the world.

    All throughout 2015, Yolanda produced, directed and edited branded content video for international clients. She had several projects screen at a number of film festivals, but the biggest milestone has come while working for GREY.

    The clients, Real Academia Española (the official organization in Spain in charge of maintaining the purity and good use of the Spanish language), along with the Spanish Advertising Academy, were looking for a campaign that would discourage the use of Anglicisms in Spanish advertising. The majority of Spaniards don’t understand the real meaning of those words, which are simply used in advertising to embellish the delivery of the campaign.

    Based on that assignment, Grey’s creative directors discussed with director Yolanda Centeno what they could do to illustrate the misuse of anglicisms in Spain, in a way that was both effective and resonating.

    They came up with four commercials that were launched on TV and internet. After a few days, the campaign went officially viral, and the concept has been analyzed and spread in many news and shows around the country, as well as in other Spanish-speaking countries.

    The campaign has also been awarded two awards in the prestigious Ibero-American Advertising Film Festival, commonly known as “El Festival del Sol.”

    As a result of this project, Yolanda Centeno, is now represented commercially by Central Films production company located in California, México and Spain.

    June 13, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 751