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  • NYFA LA Welcomes Writer & Producer Neal Baer as Guest Speaker

    On Wednesday, June 21, Neal Baer came to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus to talk about his illustrious career in television. Baer has the distinction of being a key figure in two groundbreaking series. He was a writer and producer on both “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “ER.”  Director of the Q and A series, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

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    Students filled the Riverside Theater to hear Baer speak about the history of the television industry. Many of the students were surprised to learn that “ER” once enjoyed an incredible share of the market. “There’s no drama airing today that comes close to having 40 million viewers. Not even ‘Game of Thrones.’”  

    Of course, a huge portion of the show’s success was the wildly talented and relatively unknown cast, including George Clooney. Baer recalled the excited fan reaction to seeing Clooney in a tuxedo. So mad was the fury, that Baer made sure to include a scene with him in a tuxedo in “Hell or High Water.” The episode went on to be the show’s highest-rated and even earned Clooney an Emmy nomination.

    “I’ve had a very different career than my friends. I’ve only ever been on four shows,” Baer said after being asked about his incredible trajectory. “I started in 1994. That’s twenty-three years. I don’t know anybody else who has done four shows straight through.”

    Whether it was talent, luck, or a combination of both that kept Baer on top, he always made sure to use the best of the time he had. “I loved SVU because every week I got to explore. You had to get into the story through a murder or assault but then I could do a show about teen access to abortion. They let us do amazing things with guns, homeschooling, HIV deniers, euthanasia, everything I was interested in was put into the show.” 

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    That inspiration translated into his hiring practices as a showrunner. Baer was fond of calling obscure actors from childhood favorites to come on the show. Carol Burnett chastised him when he called to ask her on the show: “You used to watch me with your parents on weeknights, didn’t you?” Once, Debbie Reynolds even shared a saucy story about Ava Gardner with Baer.

    “How could you not want to bring these people on your show,” Baer said. “I’ve been very blessed to work with incredible people.”

    One student asked if Baer had any advice for students looking to break into the industry. Baer responded, “They’ve made it very difficult to be a director. I think what you have to do if you want to work, as a director, is shadow. You attach to a director and you just become their shadow. You’ll go to casting meetings, location scouts, anything the director does, you’ll be there.”

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

  • NYFA Alumnus Anthony James Faure Releases “Kids With Guns”

    Anthony James Faure worked in the film industry for five years before coming to the New York Film Academy. When he started the 1-Year Filmmaking Program he was also starting the post-production process on his latest film, “Kids with Guns.”

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    Using Paris, France, as a backdrop, he shot the feature film over the summer of 2014. The story follows Arno and Mo, two unimportant drug dealers who happen upon a bag filled with MDMA. They decide to sell the trendy drug to the Parisian Golden Youth. Soon they’re forced to navigate the dangerous territory between the real owner of the bag and an overzealous cop that swore to stop him.

    The French thriller was produced with a budget of just €30,000, or around $35,000 in U.S. dollars. He earned the majority of the money via crowd-funding sites, personal savings, and a few grants. Then entire cast and crew worked on a volunteer basis.

    Faure attributes much of that success to his friend and producing partner Antony Renault. Faure said of the experience, “We were trying to get a short film produced in France for a long time. During that time, we wrote ‘Kids with Guns.’ Once the script was done we thought we should just shoot it. It’s that spontaneity that makes the essence of our film: we wanted to shoot now.”

    Faure’s scrappy nature had earned him great footage, but turning it into a film would be an entirely different process. “NYFA helped me in my rewriting process during postproduction. Indeed, after the course I took at NYFA, my understanding of film had evolved, and I managed to use that new knowledge in the editing.”

    The visual effects artist, postproduction manager, and sound mixer for “Kids with Guns” were all students Faure met at NYFA. He enjoyed his experience at NYFA so much he’ll be returning next semester: “I will never stop learning. I have a few feature film ideas and treatments I’ve been working on for a while, going back to NYFA in the screenwriting course will hopefully give me that little push I need to execute them.”

    TEASER KIDS WITH GUNS from Les Films de l’Ours on Vimeo.

    Faure’s next project is a superhero story. “Super Zeroes” is the story of superheroes forced into retirement by a world tired of the destruction their crime fighting causes. They retire to Trinidad-and-Tobago but a crime committed on the island will force them to work together, even if their powers are a bit rusty. NYFA alumni Jolene Mendes and Chloe Na will work with Faure as producers, Sashank Sana is the director of photography, Carolina Lara will do production design, and Daniel Techy is editing.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Faure’s success. To learn more about Faure click here.

  • MFA Cinematography Grad Bob Nguyen Wins Vietnam’s Highest Award for Cinematography

    IMG_2291New York Film Academy is proud to congratulate MFA Cinematography graduate Bob Nguyen on winning the Golden Kite Award for Best Cinematography in 2016 for his work on the feature film “Sut.” The Golden Kite is the highest award given in Vietnam, and represents the country’s equivalent to an Academy Award.

    During his time as a student at NYFA, Bob worked hard to refine his cinematography skills and master his craft. He built a strong network, collaborating with many students from different programs. In addition to making connections, Bob built an impressive reel with a range of striking images that showcased his skills as a cinematographer. Bob took advantage of the network he built, finding work in Los Angeles, Italy, Australia, and Vietnam. Since graduating, he has photographed three feature films and a number of short films.

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    “Sut” tells the story of young man who became a national soccer star early in his life, but soon found himself lost after the death of his younger brother. Searching for purpose in his life, he returns to the sport he loves as the coach of his brother’s soccer team. He struggles to find a way to teach the players to come together and win as a team.

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    14Working with the director to realize his vision, Bob wanted to avoid the clichés of a formulaic sports movie. He and the director were inspired by a number of films, including “Moneyball,” and they worked to tell a simple human story against a backdrop of the world of professional soccer.  Shooting with the Red Epic digital cinema camera, Bob carefully planned his compositions and choice of lenses to present a different side of Vietnam not often seen on the screen. The film has been praised for its distinctive visual style, including winning the highest honor for cinematography given by the Vietnamese film community.

    We are proud to congratulate Bob on this incredible award, and we wish him continued success in his career as a professional cinematographer.

    June 23, 2017 • Academic Programs, Cinematography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1651

  • Spring 2017 Highlights from NYFA Los Angeles’ Acting for Film Department

    It’s been a busy semester at for the Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. In addition to our fabulous curriculum, we also hosted industry guests speakers, produced student directed plays, a 10-minute play festival, and presented our second successful alumni industry showcase.


    Industry Guest Speakers

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    Next up was veteran Casting Director Tineka Becker, former Manager of Feature Casting at Paramount Pictures. She told tales from the trenches of working with Tom Ford and Robert Zemekis, and on such projects as “Twilight: New Moon” and “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

    Finally, Image Consultant and Branding Specialist Tom Burke was a huge hit with students as he helped them recognize what type they are most likely to be hired to play, and how to best promote themselves in a crowded market.

    The upcoming guest list includes managers, agents and an expert on creating internet content (her music videos have gone viral with millions of views). Stay tuned!


    Student Directed Plays

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    It was an exciting semester of student directed plays. The students were ambitious with their self-generated projects. The plays included the dark drama, “Mujeres De Arena,” by Humberto Robles (directed by Guillermo Orozoo). This courageous play explores sex trafficking and the exploitation of women.

    “All this Intimacy,” by Rajiv Jospeh (directed be Roberto Jadue) explores the protagonist’s inability to have intimate relationships with various women, ultimately causing him isolation and despair.

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    The very complex play “Arcadia,” by Tom Stoppard (directed Daniel Pareja) is a play concerning the relationship between past and present, chaos and order, certainty and uncertainty.

    “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle (directed by Timothy Herrera), is a science fantasy about time travel, finding home, and ultimately that one cannot live without love.

    Congratulations to all the students involved this semester!


    Alumni Industry Showcase

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    After an exciting round of auditions, 15 alumni students were selected to participate in our second industry showcase directed by Associate Chair Anne Moore. The actors were showcased in both film and live performance. The turnout was terrific, and many of our actors had opportunities to meet with top agents and managers, as well as casting directors from ABC, NBC, CBS, Warner Brothers, and Sony Pictures.

    Our alumni chosen this round were Jordan Knapp, Gonzalo Martin, Jolie Chi, Christopher Akens, Martta Rebekka, Reinaldo Garcia, Demyra Ravyne Payne, John R. Twohy, Victoria Schneider, Christopher Allyn Rybka, Nathan Rosado, Brieyonna Monet, Aditya Joshi, Camila Mejia Duque, and Matt JJ Miller.


    The Graveyard Plays

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    Our second playwriting festival was a huge success. The idea for the 10-minute festival originated in David Robinette’s Playwriting Studio Class. He saw it as a great opportunity for our actors to develop their voices as writers. This semester’s location was set in a graveyard. Given the opportunity they had to choose directors, cast the play, and get the plays on their feet for a live performance.

    The playwrights chosen were Sam LaFrance, Miranda Guzman, Zane Hudson, and Luis Alfredo Gonzalez. The event was stage managed by our wonderful student Simmie Sangian, Morgan Aiken, and set design was done by Daniela Gerdes.

    May 2017 Graduation

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    It was a beautiful day at Harmony Gold. Lynda Goodfriend gave a touching farewell to our students. Joshua Bitton, our guest speaker, brought lots of laughter and great industry advice to our spring graduates. We want to wish our students great success in their future endeavors. All that hard work paid off. Congratulations, Class of May 2017!

    June 22, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 2247

  • Musical Theatre Alumnus Pierre Marais to Perform in Baayork Lee’s “A Chorus Line,” “Dancing Queen” and “West Side Story”

    Pierre Marais comes from a family of circus performing trapeze artists from Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey, who were undoubtedly influential towards his aspirations to perform in his own way.

    “I still have very vivid memories of watching them perform and wanting to be up there with them,” said Marais.

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    It wasn’t long until Marais got his first break in the industry when he met Jean-Claude Van Damme at a training facility in his hometown of Cape Town, South Africa.

    “We met and struck a conversation; being from Belgium we immediately had a few things in common,” recalled Marais. “By the time I had gotten home, without my knowledge, Jean-Claude had called the producers of the movie, told them to fire the kid they cast as his son, and hire me instead.” Two days later, Marais was screen testing to play his son in “The Wake of Death,” which was about him being captured by the Triads and Van Damme coming for revenge.

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    After coming to the realization that he would need to move to the U.S. to further pursue his career as an actor and performer, Marais decided to take up the 2-Year Musical Theatre Conservatory at the New York Film Academy.

    “Broadway is a billion dollar industry; my New York training had a musical theater focus and most of the connections I made at college were in the theater world,” said Marais. “Taking classes with the right choreographers and casting directors has directly led to more job offers than I can count. Loyalty is certainly not dead. So taking classes and improving is a part of life. My friends who have been on Broadway for decades still take classes for acting, singing and dancing regularly.”

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    Since graduating, Marais has continued to work steadily as a performer. He recently finished performing in the musical “Rock of Ages.”

    This summer he will be in Niagara Falls as a lead singer for a show called “Dancing Queen,” and then after that he will be doing “West Side Story” and “Saturday Night Fever” at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut.

    “Doing different shows presents new challenges and those are the things that keep me excited,” said Marais.

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    Though he continues to book show after show, Marais said he still has a strong desire to return to Broadway. Surely, it’s only a matter of time. His next stop will be portraying the role of Paul in the national tour of “A Chorus Line,” directed by Bayork Lee next year.

    June 21, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1945

  • NYFA Alumnus Todd Lien Talks “You Have More Friends Than You Know” on NYFA Hour

    On Thursday, June 13, New York Film Academy alumnus Todd Lien appeared on the NYFA Hour for a special Pride month interview. The Popcorn Talk Network was proud to host the filmmaker, who in the past year has worked as a composer, writer, director, and actor.

    Lien’s latest project is a music video for Jeff Marx song “You Have More Friends Than You Know.” The song has been performed on Ryan Murphy’s Fox hit “Glee” and was created for the It Gets Better Organization.

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    When Lien first heard the song he was reminded of a good friend who lost his battle to depression. His friend was openly gay and married, but his family didn’t support him. He took his life. Lien wanted to re-write the story even it was just fictional. “What would have happened if I had reached out?” Lien asked.

    So, he announced his intentions to create a music video on Kickstarter. Marx caught wind of the campaign and donated the majority of the money to get the project made.

    Lien then took the original score and arranged it for members of the NYFA – LA Glee Club. Each voice was recorded individually and then mixed together. Lien also acted in the video, asking a fellow NYFA graduate to direct the video.

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    The music video for “You Have More Friends Than You Know” can be viewed here. To watch Todd Lien’s entire interview on Popcorn Talk’s NYFA Hour click here.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Lien for sharing his powerful story and his incredible work.

    June 20, 2017 • Academic Programs, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 537

  • A Q&A With “The Road” Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe

    On Tuesday, June 13, the New York Film Academy welcomed Javier Aguirresarobe to the Riverside Theater. His son, cinematographer Jon Aguirresarobe (“Hunter Gatherer”), was there to translate.

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    Aguirresarobe is a world-renowned director of photography known for his work on such great films like “The Others,” “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Goya’s Ghosts,” and “The Promise.” So, why did he pick “The Road,” a film from 2005, to show the students?

    Aguirresarobe shared that the book behind “The Road” was very special for him. He felt that telling this story was the perfect way to begin working in the United States. “The director (John Hillcoat) had already seen my movies at that time. So he thought I was the right one to do this movie, which he considered very special because it was the world after an apocalypse.”

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    “I asked the producer why they had picked me for the job,” Aguirresarobe said. “I could understand the director being interested, but what did the producers want me?” The producers responded that they wanted to do a more European-style movie.

    The director and cinematographer agreed that they wanted a more “realistic vibe” than a typical American film. One way they tried to achieve that look was by removing the sun. “The lack of the sun in the movie is one of the most challenging aspects of the film,” shared Aguirresarobe. But the aesthetic helped create a sense of complete and utter doom that quickly enwraps the crowd.

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    At first, Aguirresarobe was extremely troubled by this obstacle. “I was worried because I knew what kind of movie I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it.”

    He studied American films that were shot in Mexico. A lot of them had day for night shots, and Aguirresarobe played around with this to figure out the algorithm. He discovered that, back in the day, filmmakers would burn big piles of gasoline in order to create thick black clouds that could block out the sun. This is no longer a legal option, but Aguirresarobe did pitch it to the director as a joke.

    Aguirresarobe described himself as lucky to have pulled off the look. The time of year became a large factor in the shoot. The lack of greenery helped sell the idea of a dead Earth. “I wanted to respect the spirit of the book.”

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    Aguirresarobe also felt the lead actors helped cement the book’s spirit onto celluloid. “One of the best things in the movie is Viggo Mortensen. He went at the move with full energy. You can see all of that intensity on the screen.”

    Aguirresarobe joked with students that he would share a few tips and tricks, but in the age of digital, they might seem historic. This did not deter anyone in the audience. One student asked, “Can you talk about how you did that marvelous close-up on Robert Duvall in that speech and the eyes … Was that done in camera or in post-production?”

    Not missing a beat Aguirresarobe confirmed that the shot was done in camera. “Everything is done in camera. Duvall did have contact lenses to make it seem like he was blind.” Flame bars were used to get the look in the eyes. He said he learned a lot on those nights.

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    He began experimenting with real fire and the bars to create a better look. “Using the fire as a key light creates a horrible image. It creates a very intense red. The shadow gets very rough,” he said.  So he would mix the natural and the artificial to create a natural look.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank both Jon and Javier Aguirresarobe for taking the time to speak with our students about their craft. Javier Aguirresarobe’s next film is Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok.”

    June 19, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1730

  • June Updates From the Broadcast Journalism School

    There is an ongoing debate about whether the sort of digital content found on platforms like Vice qualifies as “journalism.” (My answer is generally “no.”) One of the exceptions is Vox, which while opinionated is grounded in solid journalistic traditions. Now Vox has partnered with ProPublica, a leading investigative journalism non-profit. (Full disclosure: back in my news reporting days I knew some of the people who went on to work with ProPublica.) It offers a new model for funding investigative reporting, as many traditional media outlets (read “newspapers”) have significantly reduced their investigative coverage.

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    Print publishers have seen their business model decline to the point where they are ready to do (seemingly) anything to generate new revenue. In the case of the Boston Globe, they rented a theater where on a Friday night last month editors and reporters shared “insider” perspectives. (One editor played recordings of his telephone conversations with then-candidate Donald Trump.) While the Globe is the first newspaper to do something like this, Public Radio programs like This American Life and The Moth regularly schedule live “performances” of their stories. (And while they are still “radio” programs, an ever-growing percentage of their listeners hear them via podcasts.)
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    Increasingly, journalists working for a news publisher don’t have to be located in the city (or even the country) where that publisher is based. Cheap, reliable and fast Internet service means that reporters, or even entire units, can be scattered around the globe. This is of particular concern for HuffPost — formerly The Huffington Post, prior to the departure of founder Arianna Huffington — which operates units in 18 countries. Digiday posted a great story recently on how the company is trying to virtually “stitch together” an organization that spans continents and time zones.
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    I don’t know how many of you watched the Tony Awards recently, but I always listen to the Tony Awards. That’s because NYFA News audio maven (that’s “expert”) Joel Spector was once again on-the-job at this year’s ceremony. For years (I won’t say how many) Joel has been the “secret ingredient” in major TV event audio. Fortunately for our students, he brings the same dedication and commitment to his work at NYFA. Thanks, Joel!
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    We also got another dispatch from Broadcast Journalism instructor Zack Baddorf, who is currently “on sabbatical” in Central Africa.

    “Today, after descending from a helicopter, I met this beautiful eland and (very slightly) helped collar him with these rangers, researchers and a vet at a nature reserve in Central African Republic. It was an incredible experience.”

    Inline image 1We also heard from NYFA grad Francielle Mianes, but since her message went through Google Translate it doesn’t read as well as it should.

    “Today was my debut in the presentation of the program Programa Ver Mais da RICTV Record de Blumenau. This month I’ll lead the program while Gisele Scopel is on vacation! Thank you for trusting in my work … Thank you to all team involved!” 

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    Finally, there is an old saying: “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.” Here is an example, a “live shot” by a reporter at the CBS television station in Chicago. Somebody should have spotted this before it went on the air, but nobody did…

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    Stay tuned.

    June 19, 2017 • Academic Programs, Broadcast Journalism, Community Highlights • Views: 478

  • Student Games Shine at the NYFA Student Showcase

    NYFA’s Game Design Department had another great showcase for graduating MFA and BFA students this June. This year, highlights from the students’ academic careers were on display, and they did not disappoint.

    Highlights of this year’s showcase include Blake Shao’s “Enlightenment,” an epic third-person fantasy adventure game that allowed players to embark on a grand quest through an Elven realm. Breathtaking art coupled with original play mechanics lead to a NYFA game experience that will be remembered for years to come.

    The game is displayed proudly in the school and is a magnet for curious students and visitors alike. A gallery of images from games featured at the student showcase is viewable below.

    Another highlight came from BFA student Scott Zhang, who took a widely different approach to his games; he included examples of his game art.

    Scott’s concept art runs the gamut from dangerous industrial labyrinths to sci-fi rovers that are indistinguishable from the best art AAA games have to offer. It is no wonder he has already been picked up as an environment artist for 3BlackDot studios. For those interested (and everyone should be), his art is available here. 

    We wish all graduates continued success as they embark on new adventures.

    June 18, 2017 • Academic Programs, Game Design • Views: 20

  • NYFA 3D Animation Students Go on an Art Space Odyssey 

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    The #14th Factory has erected a huge art experience just down the street from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles’ Burbank campus, and NYFA 3D animation and visual effects (VFX) had the opportunity to explore it in the context of their recent studies. The #14th Factory show included the work of 20 artist collaborating on acres of indoor and outdoor space.

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    Most exciting for NYFA students was a very precise replica of the famed “2001: A Space Odyssey” bedroom set from the epic conclusion of the film. With the NYFA animation and VFX students recently viewing Stanley Kubric’s masterpiece in instructor Matthew Sheehan’s matte painting class, this exhibit was impossible to miss.

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    Last week, the animation class got immersive art experience, with artists Simon Birch, Paul Kember, and many others dropping the class in the lead role with endless paths ways and surprises around every corner. The experience, modeled around the Joseph Campbell’s narrative arc of a hero’s journey, was playful at times and scary at others, all the while pushing the imaginations of the group that much closer to the next level.

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    The New York Film Academy 3D animation and VFX students and faculty are very thankful to the artists and the team members who hosted us and for an invigorating four hours.

    June 15, 2017 • 3D Animation, Academic Programs • Views: 1793