This summer, the New York Film Academy held Filmmaking & Acting workshops in both Beijing and Shanghai, China. The workshops have drawn a growing number of international students who want to live and learn in China, where the entertainment industry is growing exponentially.
Students were able to learn the various aspects of the filmmaking process, including writing, directing, acting, editing, and lighting a set.
“The instructors were quite helpful and always ready to help you with your specific project,” said Enna, a student who grew up in British Guiana. “It was great to have industry standard equipment to work with and bring our projects to life.”
“I will definitely choose New York Film Academy,” added another student, Steven. “I think it’s very hands on, very practical; it will help me get started.”
Many of the students had the same sentiment as the event was a tremendous success, with many attendees committed to pursuing their education further at the Academy.
During his second year, New York Film Academy BFA Filmmaking student, Richard Selvi, developed his short film “Oiled Up” with the intent of eventually turning it into a feature.
cast and crew of “Oiled Up”
“I thought it’d be a better idea to prove we could handle such a story on both an emotional and visual standpoint by turning the premise into a stand-alone short which would showcase that and perhaps help us find funding for the larger project,” said Selvi.
Produced by NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo and shot by cinematographer and NYFA instructor Till Neumann, the film stars some very well known actors, including Chuck Zito, James Mcaffrey, Lou Martini Jr, Cathy Moriarty, Vincent Pastore, Larry Romano and Eric Roberts, amongst many other younger talented actors.
“I am beyond thankful for those two instructors that have put their backs on the line more than once in order to bring the film to competition,” said Selvi. “I am honored to be able to call them mentors, but more importantly, friends. I’d also like to thank NYFA for putting absolutely all the tools in our hands, as well as a great infrastructure to make our film without ever trying to stop us.”
“Oiled Up” (Teaser 2.0 // LA Shorts Fest) from Richard Selvi on Vimeo.
The story is told through Mike Simms, the elder brother of three. After a robbery gone wrong, Mike sacrifices his life as a free man to save his younger sibling’s lives and better their relationship. Unfortunately, when Mike comes out of jail years later, he realizes his sacrifice did not help his younger siblings in any way; and they have parted ways since Mike’s imprisonment. Mike has to set the right example as an elder brother, once again, in order to regain his younger siblings’ trust as well as reconcile their broken relationship.
“I’ve always wanted to make a film based on the relationships I have and had with my siblings” says Selvi. “It’s been very important to me all along through making the film that I maintain a clear understanding of which of my characters represented which of my siblings. When you watch the film and if you happen to know my family, I’m sure it is very apparent. I’d consider it successful in that way, as I’ve managed to convey a chemistry and a relationship on screen which did not exist prior to that based on my life off-screen.”
“Oiled Up” is having its official US Premiere in competition at the LA International Short Film Festival on September 6th at 5.30pm followed by a Q&A with director Selvi and a few members of the cast. The festival, which will take place at the Regal Cinemas downtown Los Angeles (1000 W. Olympic Blvd), is an Academy Award qualifier for the top 3 winners.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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”
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.
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.
If 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.”
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.”
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.”
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 Partyand talk about his long acting career. Hollywood Producer, NYFA Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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” starsShelley 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.
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.