Over the weekend the New York Film Academy hosted an Open House for over a hundred people at Universal Studios, Los Angeles. Prospective students and their parents had an opportunity to meet our award-winning faculty, learn more about our programs, and even participate in mini-classes.
NYFA Screenwriting instructor Eric Conner welcoming prospective students.
NYFA Instructor Justin Lareau talks about the importance of pitching.
Chair of the Cinematography Department, Tony Richmond, whose career spans well over six decades, welcomed our guests with a camera workshop. Some of Richmond’s credits include: The Sandlot, Legally Blonde, Candyman, Playing God, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Stardust, Rough Riders, Silver Bears, That’s Life and Sunset, The Eagle Has Landed, and The Greek Tycoon. He also served as DP on Tony Goldwin’s directorial debut Walk On The Moon, Sean Penn’s directorial debut Indian Runner, and Anjelica Houston’s directorial debut Bastard Out Of Carolina.
Tony Richmond leading a Cinematography class.
Those interested in Acting for Film jumped into the Improv for Camera Workshop with Chair of Acting, Lynda Goodfriend, and Associate Chair for Acting for Film Studies, Christopher Cass.
Christopher Cass teaching Improv
Associate Chair of Animation, Matt Galuppo, discussed the role of the animator in the entertainment industry. An unparalleled animation institute, the animation school at the New York Film Academy provides students with state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on experience with the industry standard Maya, ZBrush, Mudbox, Motion Builder, and Nuke software and top-notch equipment.
Matt Galuppo leading an Animation discussion.
Instructor Richard Friedman, who has over 25 years experience in directing and producing film and TV, including work in independent feature films, television movies, episodic television series, reality TV, and music videos, immersed the guests in a filmmaking workshop.
At the same time, Chair of the Photography Department, Michele Kirk, spoke about how the New York Film Academy offers students the remarkable opportunity to study under award-winning, professional photographers who remain active in the many genres of photography, from fine art to fashion, commercial work to photojournalism.
NYFA Open House at Universal Studios.
We had a full crowd of interested people, many of whom are very serious about pursuing a career in the Film and Entertainment industry.
Visit our website to learn more about future open houses!
This week, New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles were treated to a Q&A with visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel following a screening of Godzilla. Rygiel won three Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His excellent work has also contributed to other feature films such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fast and the Furious, and Night at the Museum. NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki moderated the event.
One of the things that Rygiel touched on was using real imagery alongside digital effects. “We always tried to get something in the shot,” said Rygiel. “My trick is to always try to get something real In the shot…it’s a mix. I’m always trying to get the director to shoot more, not less.”
He stressed the importance of keeping parts real in order to keep it feeling real.
Rygiel also advised students that when trying to get hired, they should let their work speak for itself. “What you mostly get hired on is your portfolio,” he added.
One of our NYFA students asked for advice on how to act for effects, such as motion capture or with green screens. Rygiel reassured the student, saying, “Just shoot it. Act like you normally would—we’ll never replace actors. I could never create whole scenes [without actors].”
Finally, he talked to the students about the importance of a balance between sticking to the plan for shooting and rolling with changes. He said that costs can go up if you change from what was already planned but, “don’t be a complete stickler to the pre-vis. There are things that happen. It just might be a better shot—always go with the better shot.”
After coming on the scene as a semi-finalist in Season 9 of American Idol, the multi-talented performer Todrick Hall has quickly built a following to become a household name in the world of musical theatre. From his flash mob for Ariana Grande to his Beyoncé themed flash mob performed in the middle of a Target store, Hall’s Youtube channel has grown to over 2 million subscribers.
Hall is now taking his talents on tour in his upcoming show, Straight Outta Oz. The tour will run the entire summer at cities all across the country. New York Film Academy Musical Theatre students and alumni shouldn’t be surprised when they see a familiar face in the cast, as recent graduate Kylan Ross will be playing “The Wizard.”
Fortunately for us, we had a chance to chat with the recent Musical Theatre graduate before he heads off on tour this summer.
Kylan Ross in a NYFA Musical Performance
Congratulations on being cast as ‘The Wizard’ in Todrick Hall’sStraight Outta Oz! When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue musical theatre?
I guess there were many different moments in my life that led up to me wanting to pursue musical theatre. Before I can remember, I loved singing pop music. I remember my mom would always be playing either Celine Dion or Michael Bolton songs, or singing random show tunes in the house, so I was raised with music all my life.
What really opened my eyes to musical theatre was the movie musical adaptations of the musicals Rent and Chicago. I remember being younger and watching those movies on repeat, over and over again, to the point where I could recite the whole movies from start to finish.
My first big theatre experience was when I went on a high school trip to London when I was 14 and our teachers brought us to see Wicked. From the moment the overture began to play I was in awe. I stood up at the end of the song ‘Defying Gravity’ and began to leave the theatre, until my teachers stopped me and told me that there was another act. I couldn’t believe how music, singing and dancing could tell such a story and I knew from that moment that this was something that I wanted to do. When I returned home I joined a local musical society called S.O.N.G and with them my passion and love for musical theatre grew with every show we put on.
Why did you decide to study at NYFA?
When I decided to study musical theatre I was actually in my final year of college studying Forensic Science and Biology. I knew I wanted to finish my degree but I also knew that there was really only one thing I wanted to do, and that was to perform, so I began to research schools. After looking through lots of programs I came across NYFA and from reading what classes they offered and seeing who some of their staff members were, I was sold. NYFA’s 2-Year Conservatory Program not only offers musical theatre training but on-camera training too, which no other program I researched offered. Other classes like Pop/Rock and Movie Musical were also a huge bonus to an already impressive program. I knew NYFA was the place for me.
Kylan Ross at NYFA performance
How did you land the role of ‘The Wizard?’
I was looking up auditions on backstage.com when I came across the auditions for Straight Outta Oz. I have been a huge Todrick Hall fan, so when I read the breakdown I knew that this was something I had to audition for. It was one of the first auditions I did after graduating from NYFA, so I was still getting used to the daily audition routine while trying to keep the audition nerves at bay. The first day of auditions at Pearl studios was the singers’ call and I sang “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. I came back the following day to the dance call where we did a commercial/hip-hop routine followed by another singing call where I sang “Alive” by Sia. A few weeks later I received a call from Todrick Hall offering me the role of ‘The Wizard.’
What was your reaction when you found out?
I was actually on a break from a restaurant job I was working at when I got the call from Todrick. I was in complete shock, so I did what most people do in a time of shock and I called my mother. We spent about five minutes just shouting back and forth at each other with excitement on the phone. I then called my boyfriend Cullen, another NYFA alum, and told him the good news. Unfortunately for me, I had to go back and work the dinner shift at my job, but, needless to say, I was smiling from ear to ear that night.
Would you say your training and experience at NYFA is useful in terms of being prepared for this role?
I can honestly say that my training and experience at NYFA played, and will continue to play, a huge role in my audition process, as well as preparing for a role and performing. I have learned so many valuable skills and knowledge from the best in the business and I will be forever grateful for that. I would especially like to thank the dance staff at NYFA and in particular Chad Austin, Michelle Potterf and Deidre Goodwin, who I was lucky enough to have from the beginning to the end of my NYFA training.
I never thought I would ever be able to go to a dance audition, but working with these people really improved my confidence, skill and training in dance and now I go to as many dance calls as I can. All of the staff at NYFA are the most supportive, caring and driven people I have ever met and I am so grateful to have learned from and to have worked with such talented people who genuinely want to best for all their students.
When will we be able to see you perform as ‘The Wizard?’
Straight Outta Oz will be touring the country all summer and we will be having a New York show on August 4th in The Highline Ballroom. For tickets and more information about show locations and venues visit todrickhall.com
New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism graduate George Colli was on-the-scene in Orlando, for Cox Media, last week. His reports appeared on Fox 25 in Boston, Channel 11 in Pittsburgh, Fox 23 in Tulsa, News Center 7 in Dayton, Channel 9 Eyewitness News in Charlotte, Fox 13 in Memphis and KIRO 7 in Seattle.
George Colli in Orlando
Here, in his words, are what he was doing: “Very intense first 48 hours. The vigil last night seems to have lifted the air a little bit. Definitely a different intensity this morning. I’m on about four hours of sleep since Sunday morning, and approaching 90 live shots since 10pmSunday. I’ve been doing double duty. Starting at 3:30a for morning shows right through the late shows.”
Zack Baddorf has been pretty busy too. He is editing a cross-platform video project called Veterans Coming Home. In addition to being distributed digitally, these powerful stories will also be broadcast on PBS television stations across the country. His most recent video is about Jeff Hawkins, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, teaches kids to build their own projects at YMakers, a partnership between YMCA of San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Health System.
If you are in Europe, or a big fan of soccer (OK… futbal), then you know that the eyes of the world are on Europe for Euro 2016. Our very own Beytullah Bayar, a graduate of the Fall 2013 1-year Broadcast Journalism program, is reporting on all the action for Turkish Radio and Television (TRT). As usual, Beyt has a tremendous tie to go along with his equally fashionable suit. Looking sharp there, Beyt!
We end this week with a final “congratulations” to our most recent NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduates. And thanks to Joel Spector for capturing the final moments of their graduation ceremony. See it here…
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.
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.
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 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.”
Many young people who are dreaming of being able to enroll in a higher education institution in the United States often give up this idea because of high tuition costs. But for those who really want to achieve their goals, the financial barrier is not an issue.
Today we spoke with New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) graduate student, Elena Kulikova, whose story is truly fascinating and inspiring. In 2008, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship that completely covered her two-year master’s degree tuition at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, as well as living and traveling expenses.
Elena, how did your Fulbright Scholarship come about?
I really love studying, in general. I need constant development, constant stimulus, and training is the best motivator. Previously, I had received my degrees from Lomonosov Moscow State University and VGIK, and I then wanted to get my Masters Degree abroad.
At that time, I was working with a wonderful film producer Roman Borisevich. We attended various international festivals and film markets together and I realized that I want to study co-production — an area of filmmaking that wasn’t widely known, and taught in Russia at that time.
Visual Arts education in the United States was a natural logical solution, but I could not afford it financially, and began to look for grants options. As a result, I learned about the Fulbright program, which is on a competitive basis, providing grants for education, research, and training in any US university for citizens of Russia and many other countries.
Can you describe the competition process?
The first step required submitting translated diploma of higher education, two letters of recommendation, two motivational essay (personal statement, study objective), as well as to pass the pre-TOEFL test. Then I passed the TOEFL iBT and GRE General official exams. The final step was the interview.
Who conducts the interview and what questions should candidates be prepared for?
Every interview begins with a self-presentation. This part should be prepared in advance. Preparation will give you self-confidence, which is very important. The members of the Commission are teachers from different US universities participating in the Fulbright program. There might be representatives of Harvard, the University of Utah, professors from Texas, etc. But this does not mean that you go to those universities. Their goal is to assess your motivation to study in the chosen area, see if you have “sparkling eyes,” that your English is good and academic goals are serious.
You should keep in mind that Fulbright provides scholarship for more than 40 disciplines. And the commission chooses one or two candidates from each field. I can’t tell exactly how many applications were in my stream, but at the first stage, we were told that there are 10 candidates for one spot.
Be confident, positive, friendly and prepare a few questions to the Commission. Ask them for advice. Keep the dialogue.
Tell us about your interview experience?
This is a very funny story. A specific time of the interview was scheduled for each candidate. Of course I was very nervous, because it was the final step. When I entered into the room and saw six American teachers, my heart dropped down.
They asked me to introduce myself and talk about my education and work experience. I was prepared for this question and spoke enthusiastically about how lucky I was to study in two of the best Russian Universities, and how grateful I am to my destiny.
Suddenly, the professors started talking to each other, and then one of them interrupted me. He asked me to wait outside because of “technical issues.”
I did not understand anything, but went out obediently, thinking I had failed.
Ten minutes later, I was invited back and explained that there was confusion with my documents. Instead of my portfolio they had documents of another Elena Kulikova from Tula (also a member of the competition), who studied the biology of invertebrates.
The professors apologized and asked me to come for a new interview the next day. We laughed together, and next day I wasn’t scared anymore. The professors seemed almost like family.
How did you prepare for the TOEFL and GRE exams?
I did it on my own and most of my energy was spent for GRE preparation. This exam is more difficult. In addition to language skills it required a refresher in algebra and geometry memory. Even if it’s just a high school level, it’s been 10 years since I graduated the school. After all, my GRE result was “passing,” but with the TOEFL I “flunked” the speaking section.
I did not have enough time to formulate my thoughts. The timer counted five seconds, and I fell into a stupor. Due to the low results in this section my overall score went down. Instead of the required 100 I scored 97.
I would advise students who are planning to apply to try several times before the exam to pass the training tests (from books or online) and watch video tutorials on the passage of each section (a lot of them are on YouTube), to avoid the situation that happened to me.
Any tips for recommendation letters and motivation essays? What should you pay attention to?
Letters of recommendation have to be written by teachers (who know the academic performance of the candidate), or colleagues, including managers from work. They should really know you and your abilities very well.
Motivation letter: Try to imagine your future in three years. What would you like to achieve? Now think about how a Masters Degree from a United States university can help you realize your goals. This should be the main idea of your essay. Describe your experience up to date. What achievements have you already made? At the end, add about how you plan to apply the knowledge when you return to Russia.
Please share with us the most vivid memories of studying producing at NYFA.
At the New York Film Academy I started adding practical skills and techniques to the theory background I had and I was able to produce more than 10 projects in two years.
Most of them were short films for students from the Filmmaking Department, but still it was a major operation, which required my producer’s knowledge to count the number of shooting days and break down a budget on paper. We received official permission to shoot along with major production companies in Film LA, scouted locations, organized and conducted auditions, signed contracts with actors and crew, and organized catering. In short, with each new project I was gaining new real producing experience.
In particular, I would like to mention the Head Producer of the program – Lydia Cedrone. She is an incredibly strong woman and an excellent professional. She knows how to motivate and is always ready to work with each student who needs her advice or consultation. We have developed wonderful friendships.
Also, my favorite NYFA instructor became Brian Udovich, who led the NYFA Industry “Pitching” course. Being an extremely shy person by nature, I was shaking like a leaf. He coached us how to speak in front of an audience. But the adrenaline from his lessons, plus the practical tips and friendly atmosphere, made me free from the fear of public speaking. Now I am happy and completely free to participate in the pitches and give presentations and provide lectures.
Also, I’ve never thought that, as a producer, I can independently write a full-length screenplay. NYFA proved to me that it is possible! During training, I wrote two features and a pilot for a television series in English. My thanks goes to Sharon Hoffman for her patience, professional comments, edits, as well as the delicious brownies that she fed the exhausted students who were not sleeping night after night writing the next 20 pages of their script.
What were some of your achievements while studying in the US?
It is difficult to write about the achievements. Rather, I have received a huge number of possibilities: the ability to learn from real professionals working in Los Angeles; the ability to have trained in the production company of Mark Cuban (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Road,” “Jacket”); the ability to live in the heart of the film industry and attend guest speakers events with Steven Spielberg, Janusz Kaminski, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, and J.J. Abrams; attend screening previews of films and join meetings with writers and directors nominated for an Oscar. Additionally, I worked as a volunteer at the AFI Festival.
How do you motivate yourself?
I just believe in my dreams. In fact, if you really want something, everything in life is possible.
What helps you make the right decision in difficult situations?
Confidence in my beliefs, colleagues support, and experience.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I prefer not to build plans for a career. I prefer harmony in my personal and professional life. Only then do I feel happy and full of energy for the realization of the boldest creative ideas. If something starts to outweigh—work or family—the problems begin. The only thing I’m sure about the future: I will keep studying and I would like to get a PhD.
In your opinion how in today’s world does the success of a creative person depend on the level of education received?
In my opinion creative success does not directly depend on the education received. And success itself is generally an ephemeral substance. Like luck. But education makes life more interesting and opens up new horizons, awakens imagination, and gives emotions and experiences that are not available to uneducated people.
As a graduate of the 3D Animation program at the New York Film Academy, Eliska Podzimkova has utilized her skills and creativity through the emerging social media platform, Instagram. Since creating her account animateNY, Eliska has grown over 56k followers, who all check their newsfeed for Eliska’s unique take on both New York City and, currently, the world.
A photo posted by Eliska Podzimkova (@animateny) on
The Prague native has loved New York City ever since she was a child and her pursuit of the arts at the New York Film Academy only furthered her love. To continue her stay in New York, Eliska was welcomed to NYFA’s social media team to liven its artistic brand and engage with likeminded artists. Her work was well received by students, alumni, and followers of the Academy.
A video posted by Eliska Podzimkova (@animateny) on
After nearly a year of working with NYFA, Eliska’s sense of exploration and desire to travel the world led her back to Europe where she continues to work, travel, and animate. Eliska has worked alongside British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, and has been featured in numerous publications including Metro NY, Evening Standard, boredpanda, and others. Her short film Babl won Best Animated Short at the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in Brooklyn.
This summer, the New York Film Academy is reuniting with the animation alumna through its annual #NYFASummer Photo Contest. For the past few summers NYFA has held a photography contest on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for our summer camp students to show off their locations, sets, and overall campus life at each of their specific locations.
For more information on the #NYFASummer Contest, please CLICK HERE.
Well, another week, another White House assignment for Alisa Rajkitkul and Urvashi Barua. This time it was the Indian Prime Minister appearing with President Barack Obama. Urvashi and Alisa, now “veteran” White House reporters, spent part of their time telling less experienced correspondents how things work there.
This isn’t typical of the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism experience. In fact, it isn’t typical of any school. These two have succeeded because of their dedication and hard work. We’re happy we gave them the skills to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.
The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are almost here, and our Brazilian graduates are especially busy. Flavia Renata Perez found an amazing background for a recent interview. Note that she is using a DSLR camera. Increasingly it is the camera of choice, especially in circumstances when you want to keep a low-profile.
Flavia Renata Perez
Meanwhile, NYFA grad Suzane de Oliveira was back at her college to talk with some current students there. Suzane works for Agence France Presse (AFP) in Rio, and isn’t going to be getting much sleep once the Olympics start. She is an exceptional role model. Here is a sample of her work:
Many, many miles away in Georgia (“the country, not the state”) Broadcast Journalism graduate Marika Gamtsemlidze was taking advantage of her press pass to better enjoy a recent Maroon 5 concert. Does the lead singer really have “moves like Jagger,” Pupa?
New 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.