Academic Programs

  • Former NFL Player-Turned-Writer Pat Hegarty Talks Business with NYFA Students

    patrick hegarty

    Patrick Hegarty

    Recently, movie and video game writer Patrick Hegarty dropped by New York Film Academy’s Business of Screenwriting class to share his remarkable journey of how this one-time professional NFL football player went on to become a professional screenwriter and video game scribe.

    Hailing from Orange County, CA, Hegarty attended the University of Texas at El Paso, where in addition to playing football on a scholarship, he earned himself a Bachelor of Arts in English. However, in 1989, he was recruited by the Denver Broncos and ended up becoming the back-up quarterback to John Elway and Gary Kubiak.

    After 2 years in the NFL, Hegarty attended the University of Colorado Denver and attained his masters in English. The initial plan was to become a novelist, get his PhD, and teach. And for a while that’s what he did, teaching high school English and writing books, including the semi-autobiographical tale, “The Dazzle of the Light” (Wexford College Press), about a troubled man coming to terms with the untimely death of his brother. “The problem with books is that they take a lot of time. A lot of time,” Hegarty smirked.

    However, a unique opportunity came for Hegarty when a friend working in the video game sphere needed a writer to generate announcer commentary material for a new football game they were producing called NFL GAMEDAY, and recruited Hegarty to write the play-by-play dialogue. “I guess they thought, given my experience, I could do it. I’m really glad they did. It opened up a lot of doors.”

    Before long, Hegarty immersed himself in video games, writing the scripts for over a dozen titles for Playstation 1 and 2, including, MLB 2002, The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning and Eragon, becoming a Senior Writer for Sony Computer Entertainment.

    “The great thing about writing video games is they give you the parameters, the plot-points, but you have a lot of freedom within those confines to make it your own,” Hegarty remarked. Hegarty soon became an acclaimed video game writer. He was a finalist at the 13th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards (Best Adapted Story for Ghostbusters video game); and a finalist at the 10th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards (Best Story – Kids’ Title for The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning video game). More recently, he was the Voice Director and Writer for Battleship, and wrote on Wipeout: The Game, NBA 2K15 and NCAA FOOTBALL 14.

    But writing in the gaming world isn’t all Hegarty has in his satchel of acumens.

    HIs first screenplay, Flower of Fire, won the prestigious Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition and garnered some industry attention. Soon, managers came clamoring, and he signed with Madhouse Entertainment, where he’s still represented.

    Another action feature script S.T.E.A.L. — about an American hiding in Brazil who is blackmailed back into his life of crime to steal back loot from ‘The Sao Paulo Seven’, a multi-national gang of expert thieves — placed on the Hit List in 2010, an industry insider’s list of the best specs screenplays in Hollywood, before selling to Fox International. It is currently in development there, with early 2016 as the scheduled start of filming.

    Hegarty has been writing TV and film projects in addition to video games ever since.

    On writing, Hegarty remarked, “You have to treat it like your day job, even when you have a day job, you have to always keep writing. I know it’s cliche, but I write every day. Maybe it’s from my discipline developed in football, but I make it my daily routine.”

    Hegarty also talked about his process, “I’m not the biggest outliner. I do it, but I don’t like to have my characters pigeon-holed into a pre-existing plot. I like them to take me to unexpected places. To let them surprise me. Sure, I’ll know the general shape of a story I’m working on, but I don’t let an outline rule the screenplay once I start writing it.”

    Hegarty advised the students to find the process that works for them. “Don’t be afraid to try it your own way. Look at Blake Snyder. His unique way of looking at things became a best-seller. And wear different hats. Many hats. Learn editing, copywriting, video game writing, directing — it’s all part of that same creative muscle. But never, ever stop writing.”

    Currently, Hegarty is working on a one hour drama pilot as well as several feature concepts. He is represented by Madhouse Entertainment and yes, he can still throw a mean spiral.

    August 14, 2015 • Game Design, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Sports • Views: 1607

  • Watch Broadcast Journalism Chair’s WWII Doc ‘So Very Far From Home’

    Eight years ago, New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism Chair, Bill Einreinhofer produced a documentary called So Very Far From Home. The documentary is about innocent American, British, Australian and Dutch children who were sent to prison camps in Japanese-occupied China during World War II. The camps were places of hunger, disease, brutality and death. A fictionalized version was the basis of Steven Spielberg’s epic film Empire of the Sun.

    To mark the 70th anniversary of the rescue of these child-prisoners, Einreinhofer hopes to share the documentary to new viewers via social media as a way to remember, and commemorate, a forgotten bit of history.

    With the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II rapidly approaching, this is probably the last opportunity to get this story out!

    You can watch the documentary in its entirety below.

    So Very Far From Home from Bill Einreinhofer on Vimeo.

    August 11, 2015 • Broadcast Journalism, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 821

  • NYFA Alumna Aubrey Plaza from ‘Parks & Recreation’ Revisits Her Alma Mater

    aubrey plaza

    Aubrey Plaza

    New York Film Academy students gathered in a theater on the Warner Bros. studios lot in Los Angeles to watch a special screening of the indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, and participate in a Q&A with the film’s star actress, Aubrey Plaza. The discussion was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA acting instructor Anne Moore.

    Aubrey is most widely known for playing the deadpan employee April Ludgate in the hit TV series Parks and Recreation. She has appeared in Funny People—directed by Judd Apatow—as Seth Rogan’s love interest, as well as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Portlandia, Derrick Comedy’s Mystery Team, a CollegeHumor short alongside Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, the Sundance hit Life After Beth, and the speaking voice of Grumpy Cat in their upcoming original movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Her first starring role alongside Mark Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed, directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurrassic World), was critically acclaimed. Aubrey loves performing improv and stand up comedy and has appeared regularly at The Upright Citizens Brigade, Laugh Factory, and The Improv.

    Aubrey, having attended NYFA’s high school summer camp for filmmaking in 2001, was enthusiastic about returning to her alma mater and talking to students who are journeying down the same road she took not to long ago. She had fond memories of her experience at the New York Film Academy and even said that she learned more practical knowledge about filmmaking in those weeks she spent at NYFA than in the first two years of undergraduate film school. She was also very adamant that the short films she made at NYFA were integral in making her college application package successful. Aubrey established a sincere connection with the over 150 high school NYFA students in attendance and they were eager to ask her questions.

    Plaza discussed how she managed to foray into the mainstream. In 2007 she appeared in a web series called The Jeannie Tate Show — a mock talk show about a soccer mom who interviews celebrities in her van while running errands. Aubrey played Jeannie Tate’s delinquent junkie daughter who harasses the show’s guests. This got the attention of an agent who contacted her. Plaza called and emailed the agent regularly checking on whether any roles appropriate for her had come across his desk. Finally, in 2009, the agent recommended Aubrey try out for Seth Rogen’s love interest, Daisy, in Judd Apatow’s Funny People. Since stand up comedy is a focus of the show and the character Daisy is a stand up comic, Aubrey began signing herself up for open mic nights at comedy clubs and bars all across New York City. It was extremely terrifying for her at first but she became more and more confident in doing it. She had her friend film her during the stand up routines and she sent the tapes in to Judd Apatow and his casting director and they loved her. Instead of just auditioning and hoping she got the part, Aubrey took initiative and took her destiny into her own hands.


    Anne Moore, Tova Laiter and Aubrey Plaza

    Aubrey reminisced about her time on the wildly successful series Parks and Recreation, noting that the relaxed environment of a TV series allowed her and comedian co-stars like Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari to try different things and improv. This contrasts for her with the more stringent environment of a movie set which demands that actors say their exact line, precisely hit marks and find their light just right — however, Aubrey loves both challenges. When talking about what it was like to work with Chris Pratt, Aubrey admitted that she absolutely adores him and says he’s like a smart “giant puppy,” but that she was not as obsessed as her character.

    After Aubrey was asked, “If you could be in any movie franchise, what would it be?” she immediately burst out with, “Catwoman!” Yes that’s right, she would love to reinvent the DC Comics character and add her own Aubrey Plaza brand of charm and wit much like what was done with Guardians of the Galaxy. Everyone in the audience cheered, she sold us on it and now we too want to see Aubrey play Catwoman on the silver screen.

    We sincerely thank Aubrey for returning to the New York Film Academy and we wish her continued success in her exciting career!

    August 10, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2233

  • Indie Filmmakers and New York Film Academy Instructors Present ‘The Last Survivors’

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    Michael McCartney, Tom Hammock and Jacob Forman

    Students gathered in New York Film Academy Los Angeles’s theater to watch a special advance screening of the new indie film The Last Survivors and participate in a Q&A with Writer/Director/NYFA instructor Tom Hammock, Writer/Producer Jacob Forman and Actor/NYFA instructor Michael McCartney. The discussion was moderated by NYFA LA’s Dean of College Sonny Calderon.

    The Last Survivors is a post-apocalyptic thriller about a teenage girl who fights to protect the last working well in a drought-stricken valley from a greedy water baron. The film is a perfect example of maximum efficiency to the utmost effect in low budget filmmaking. Director Tom Hammock and Producer Jacob Forman wrote The Last Survivors with the limited resources available to them in mind. After viewing the film, it’s mind blowing to comprehend what they were able to achieve with A-list talent, in the middle of a desert that often dropped below 30 degrees, and all the while creating a completely unique world so different from our own. Tom and Jacob are successful because they know it’s not their resources that matter but their resourcefulness. Tom has worked in the entertainment industry as a top-notch production designer for many years now. Along the way he has made strong alliances with cinematographers, editors, sound designers, title artists, etc., who work on the biggest and most prestigious Hollywood productions. He was able to convince this level of talent to join his team because of the trust he’s built with them, but also because his unique film offered opportunities for these professionals to expand their creative horizons.

    The film was shot with a skeleton crew of six or less. The director also served as 2nd AC and props master. The producer acted as 1st AD and even performed as many of the masked henchmen in the film. Michael McCartney and the other cast members would pitch in in every way, assisting with production design and moving equipment. This is a testament to how incredible these filmmakers are. They used their resources for what mattered most, and after watching the film, any knowledgeable producer would swear the film couldn’t be made for less than five times its actual budget. This type of creative economic efficiency is what’s valued most in Hollywood. These are filmmakers who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. This was a large point of discussion during the Q&A: Moving up the ladder does not mean productions will be more “comfortable” or “easy” for you as you ascend. Filmmakers must always be willing to show their collaborators that they themselves are willing to do whatever it takes to make their projects and make them great. Tom Hammock, Jacob Forman, and Michael McCartney went through hell to do the impossible and they did it smiling because they love making movies.

    hammock forman

    Tom Hammock with Jacob Forman

    Tom Hammock, the Writer and Director of The Last Survivors, is also a seasoned professional production designer with over 15 feature films under his belt, including the critically acclaimed horror film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, The Guest, which sold to Picturehouse out of Sundance, You’re Next, which sold to Lionsgate out of the Toronto International Film Festival, reshoots on Jacob Aaron Estes’ The Details starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney and Ray Liotta, and reshoots on Taylor Hackford’s Parker starring Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Nick Nolte. Tom is currently designing the feature Babylon for director Sean Byrne and promoting his YALSA-nominated graphic novel An Aurora Grimeon Story: Will O’ The Wisp, for publisher Archaia. Tom has taught production design and marketing courses at New York Film Academy.

    The Last Survivors Producer and Writer Jacob Forman’s first produced feature, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, starring Amber Heard and Anson Mount, screened at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, and was acquired there by The Weinstein Company for worldwide distribution. The film received its much-anticipated US theatrical release in October 2013. In 2007, MTV Films bought Jacob’s feature film spec Handsome Devil in a bidding war with several studios. Kevin Misher is producing. Jacob currently has features in development at Paramount Pictures, Davis Entertainment, and Liddell Entertainment. IM Global, the Mark Gordon Company and Film 360 are producing his latest spec. Jacob has also held television development deals with ABC Studios and CBS Television.


    Sonny Calderon with Michael McCartney

    Michael McCartney has appeared in The Amazing Spiderman, Dealing, Neal Cassady, Confess, Bringing Rain, Halloween: Resurrection, Conan O’Brien, Law & Order, Conviction, and The Office. Most recently, Michael completed directing, writing, producing and starring in his web pilot The Millionaires. Michael is on faculty at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    We sincerely thank Tom Hammock, Jacob Forman, and Michael McCartney for visiting the New York Film Academy and giving us an invaluable lesson on filmmaking, and we wish them the best with their film.

    The Last Survivors is in theaters now, available on VOD, available to buy on Blu-ray, and to stream through

    nyfa la survivors

    August 6, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1401

  • NYFA Hosts “Life in Television” Panel with Final Draft

    Recently, the New York Film Academy’s Screenwriting Department, in cooperation with Final Draft, hosted the second in a series of “Life In” panels. This second panel arranged for NYFA’s Final Draft Fellowship (a 12 week Writing Fellowship for the finalists in Final Draft’s Big Break Contest), focused on “Life in Television” and saw the panelists explore television’s past and its ever-evolving future.

    The Television panelists, consisting of former and current NYFA Instructors, included:

    • Rachel Vine, animation writer, (RAINBOW BRITE)
    • Justin Sternberg, half-hour and sketch comedy writer, (THE PAUL REISER SHOW, LOVEBITES)
    • John Marsh, half-hour comedy and animation writer, (THE PROUD FAMILY, FATHERHOOD, ARTHUR)
    • John Carr, reality TV writer, (THE BACHELOR, THE HILLS, VANDERPUMP RULES)
    • Christina Weir, half-hour comedy and animation writer, (ARLISS, KIM POSSIBLE)
    • George McGrath, half-hour comedy writer (TRACY TAKES ON, PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE)
    • Dan Kay, one-hour drama writer, (THE DIABOLIC, NOCTURNAL)
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    NYFA’s Associate Chair of the Screenwriting Department, Adam Finer

    Adam Finer, NYFA’s Associate Chair of the Screenwriting Department, moderated and had several pieces of insightful advice from his years as a manager. He guided the panelists in an animated discussion of their path into the writer’s room and how they found their brand as a writer. John Marsh said,“Whether it’s being a PA on the show, being an assistant to an executive producer, figure out exactly what you want to do and try to gear yourself towards that. …Once you’re in there, use those relationships to help you.” Rachel Vine added, “I think there’s this myth that the industry is unapproachable, but I find that people want to help people. …Don’t be afraid to ask.”

    The panelists also explored the differences in network and audience targets, pitching, and how the world of television is evolving to the point that there are shows and networks niche enough for all tastes. John Carr said, “With the proliferation of networks it’s increasingly niche driven. …When you’re talking about your voice, you’re really talking about what network are you on? What is the micro-niche they’re reaching out to? Those are the questions you can ask yourself as a writer.”

    Dan Kay discussed the need to be savvy about the Business as well as the Craft, “Being a professional writer is not just writing. Although…you have to be writing all the time. But you also have to have a business brain. And you have to spend a lot of your time figuring out how to network and following up on your network and broadening your network. Part of being a writer is doing the business.” Adam talked about the challenges new writers face and the need to not give up,“It’s incredibly tough when you’re getting out of school to survive. To make a living doing what you love. And sometimes you take the jobs that sustain you while you pursue your career. But, you have to be tenacious. You have to keep going.”

    At the end of the discussion the audience, made up of Final Draft fellows, NYFA students, and alumni, was invited to ask questions, which ranged from how to find an agent or manager, to pitching, to specific questions about the writing work of each panelist.

    The ultimate bit of wisdom given to the attendees was to always be writing, to always be creating, and to write stories that speak to you and that you are passionate about. Christina Weir said, “…the focus is always on the story – how to tell a good story in the medium you’re doing it.” Christina’s comments were echoed by Justin Sternberg who said,“Tell your stories. Just keep writing and write you. Just be you.” George McGrath added, “What excites you? What do you want to see on TV? That’s what you should write. Whether that’s a sitcom, hour drama, kids show or animation, or a variety show you have to be excited to have that sense of ‘this is magic, this thing they handed me’ because it’s coming from a place that’s you.”

    The Panel was the second in a series being offered by NYFA, and in cooperation with Final Draft, and was followed by a “Life In Features” Panel.

    August 4, 2015 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1288

  • Broadcast Journalism Summer Camp Wraps

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    Broadcast Journalism “Teen Camp” students in class

    Our 2015 Broadcast Journalism “Teen Camp” at New York Film Academy New York City wrapped up recently. Drawing students from as far away as Korea, the Dominican Republic and Taiwan, along with California, New York and New Jersey, the four week course gave participants the chance to be actual broadcast journalists.

    broadcast journalistDuring the program, broadcast journalism students researched, reported, shot, wrote and edited their own TV stories. They even had the opportunity to cover a Ryan Seacrest press conference outside of Fox TV, where Seacrest was promoting a new show. From there, the students were given a tour of the Fox TV studio.

    The course-of-study mirrored our adult classes, with instruction on all aspects of reporting. That included working on-camera in the field, and in the studio.

    If you’re interested in learning more about any of our Broadcast Journalism classes, please visit


    August 3, 2015 • Broadcast Journalism • Views: 748

  • Star of “Laverne & Shirley” Actress Cindy Williams Makes NYFA Laugh

    New York Film Academy students came together in our Los Angeles campus theater to watch a compilation of scenes featuring actress Cindy Williams and then participate in a Q&A with the cultural icon. Moderating the Q&A were producer Tova Laiter and NYFA LA’s acting department chair Lynda Goodfriend, who co-starred on Happy Days with Williams as Lori Beth Cunningham, Ron Howard’s girlfriend then wife on the TV sitcom.

    After college, Williams began her professional career by doing theater, waiting tables and landing important film roles early in her career including Ron Howard’s high school sweetheart in George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973) and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974). In 1975, Williams was cast as a fun-loving brewery worker, Shirley Feeney, in an episode of Happy Days, alongside Penny Marshall, who played her best friend and roommate Laverne De Fazio. The characters proved so popular that a spin-off featuring the characters, Laverne & Shirley was created and aired from 1976 until 1982. In 1990, Williams returned to series TV on CBS sitcom Normal Life and family sitcom Getting By (1993–94). She has guest starred on several television shows including, including two episodes of 8 Simple Rules, performed onstage including the national tours of Grease, and was originator/ a co-producer on the Steve Martin comedy film Father of the Bride and its sequel. Most recently, Cindy has authored the book “Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life,” an autobiographical recount of her funny and heartfelt journey from blue collar roots to unexpected stardom.

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    Lynda Goodfriend, Tova Laiter and Cindy Williams

    Cindy reminisced on her career, describing first how she fell in love first with the American theater in acting school. She had the incredible experience of working with legendary directors Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas early in her career. Williams went into great details describing the extremely different styles of each director but how they are geniuses in their own right–Francis Ford Coppola LOVES actors and eager to ask for their opinion and praise them while George Lucas is shy and laconic, rarely saying more to an actor than “Terrific,” after a take. Williams’ career path was unorthodox as she initially landed major film roles before transitioning into television. In the past, an actor was branded in either film or television and transitioning was rare. She even recalled being turned down for a particular film role by a director who recognized her from the Laverne and Shirley and dismissed her upon entering the room. Today, it is much more flexible as actors want to follow the good material.

    As she applied for a director’s lab instead of acting, the program director put her in touch with an upcoming talent agent, Gary Marshall, who at the time was running a talent agency with Fred Roos, a casting director who went on to produce Francis Coppola films and cast her and client Harrison Ford in Lucas and Coppola movies. Then, Gary Marshall became the creator of many hit TV sitcoms including Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. This was the twist of fate that would change Cindy’s life forever. Cindy told the audience, “This is how things in life happen, and don’t let anyone ever tell you any different. One day something will just plop right down in front of you.”

    Cindy Williams

    Cindy Williams speaks to a theater full of NYFA students

    Williams gave extensive insight into the traditional TV sitcom multi-camera process from her experience on Laverne & Shirley. The cast, director, writers and producers would arrive to set on Monday to do a table read of the script and perhaps block a scene or two. On Tuesday, they were given a new script based on notes the writers made during the table read and they would rough out the blocking of all the scenes on stage. On Wednesday, they were given another script with changes from the previous day’s notes, and the actors would begin setting the blocking in stone by laying marks for themselves. On Thursday, the cast and crew received yet another script and the cameramen were included this time to learn the blocking and lay marks for camera. On Friday, yes one final version of the script arrived, and the actors would perform the episode with cameras rolling in front of a live studio audience. Cindy loved this form of TV because its process is so closely linked to acting in plays, particularly the fact that she feeds off the live audience’s reaction.

    Cindy Williams was so entertaining and funny as she recounted her amazing career. In fact, she had the audience in stitches most of the time. Not only is she an incredible actress but a top-notch storyteller. Her new autobiographical book “Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life” is sure to be a fun ride.

    We sincerely thank Cindy Williams for visiting the New York Film Academy and wish her luck on whatever exciting step she takes next on her adventure.

    July 31, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1385

  • A Stop Motion Gift from China

    New York Film Academy Los Angeles animation students recently enjoyed a rare treat when visiting professor and stop motion artist Xian Wu gave a presentation of his amazing works, including clips from Professor Wu’s most recent animated feature film. In an event hosted by NYFA Chair of 3-D Animation and Visual Effects, Mark Sawicki, the first presentation displayed work involving a beautiful setting of a village and a train station. The incredible detail put into the models was magical. Models were created at many different scales, and animated with the utmost patience and care to yield a charming cinema experience. The film was shot at 12 frames per second, and took 5 years to complete.

    wu animation

    Next was a screening of the soon to be released animated feature that Professor Wu created. The characters were absolutely delightful, and had the audience cheering with pleasure. Professor Wu explained that the puppets had removable mouths attached with magnets to enable their expressions to change. The eyes had tiny holes in the middle of the pupil, allowing a small pin to be inserted to move the eyes to the proper position for each frame. The puppets were also able to stand on one foot by bolting the feet from underneath. For walking action, the little screw holes in the floor were filled in with colored clay to make the mounting trick invisible.

    The students were touched at the end of the evening when Professor Wu presented NYFA with an original stop motion puppet used in the film. This priceless animation art piece is now on display at the school for all to see. In gratitude, Mark Sawicki gave Professor Wu a signed copy of his stop motion book, “Animating with Stop Motion Pro,” published by Focal Press.
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    Mr. Wu’s gift to NYFA

    The event was a wonderful exchange of cultures in the field of animation that we are confident will continue in the years ahead.  Thank you so much, Professor Wu, for an unforgettable experience and your gift of an amazing piece of animation art.

    July 30, 2015 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 776

  • East Meets West to Share the Magic of Animation

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    Animator Weiyu Wang

    New York Film Academy was thrilled to host animator Weiyu Wang (Let’s Wait Together) at our NYFA Los Angeles campus. As an artist in residence, Mr. Wang had the opportunity to create another beautiful and painterly animation film called Another Man. Weiyu was so appreciative for being our guest that he put together an event where he shared several short animation films made in China.

    Each film was lovingly created by hand using traditional animation techniques. Mr. Wang commented on the work of each of the artists (many he knows personally) and spoke about the state of fine art animation in China. He said many of the animators work in the commercial industry or are teachers like himself who create these films outside of the studio system as a means of personal expression. At the end of the program Mr. Wang shared the film he made here during his stay at NYFA.

    weiya wang

    Another Man is an exploration of the inter relationship of a character and his reflection. The imagery was gorgeous with masterful and compelling animation. At the end of the evening Mr. Wang addressed numerous questions from the international student body who were captivated by his presentation. Mark Sawicki, the chair of animation at the Los Angeles campus, was so grateful to Mr. Wang for putting together the event that he created a clay sculpture of the main character in Mr. Wang’s film as a commemorative of the evening. They both exchanged gifts with each other days before the artist left for China.


    Mark Sawicki’s sculpture given to Mr. Wang


    We look forward to seeing you again, Mr. Wang, and are proud to have been able to have you as our guest during the making of your beautiful film.

    July 29, 2015 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 1254

  • Prolific Marvel & Sci-Fi Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski Visits NYFA

     J. Michael Straczynski

    Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski

    New York Film Academy students gathered recently for a screening of the hit film Thor followed by a Q&A with its story writer Joseph Michael Straczynski.

    J. Michael Straczynski works in films, television series, novels, short stories, comic books, radio dramas and other media. Straczynski is a playwright, former journalist, and author of The Complete Book of Scriptwriting. He was the creator and showrunner for the science fiction television series Babylon 5, for which he wrote 92 out of the 110 episodes, and the four Babylon 5 TV movies produced alongside the series. From 2001 to 2007, he was the writer for the long-running Marvel comic book series The Amazing Spider-Man. He also famously wrote for Thor, Superman, the Superman: Earth One original graphic novels, Before Watchmen and Wonder Woman. In 2009, Straczynski was nominated for the BAFTA Award for his screenplay for Changeling starring Angelina Jolie and directed by Clint Eastward. His new series, Sense8, for the Wachowski’s brother-sister team (Matrix) premiered in 2015. Producer Tova Laiter and NYFA’s screenwriting instructor Crickett Rumley moderated the Q&A.

    tova and Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski

    Screenwriting Instructor Crickett Rumley, Producer Tova Laiter and Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski

    Mr. Straczynski was an incredible inspiration to all writers in the audience. He discussed how writing was something he’s been doing since he was a boy and has continued to be a therapeutic process for him. In his dry sense of humor, his advice to young writers was to “write out the crap.” After chuckles from the audience Michael went on to seriously explain that the first couple scripts any writer produces will inevitably be bad. So you might as well accept the fact that you’ll only get around to writing better material when you get all that bad stuff out of your system. Michael advocates that to become a better writer you just have to write A LOT. Every script teaches you a lesson. The more scripts you write, the more lessons you’ll learn.

    What stands out most about Michael’s career is how extremely prolific he is. He related a story highlighting this strength which astounded students. Six years ago, the Wachowskis approached him to rewrite the script for the film Ninja Assassin. The only catch was that it was a Tuesday and they needed a rewrite by Friday as the film was going into production very soon. Michael said “OK,” went home and started the coffee machine. He calculated how many pages he would have to write per hour and slept three hours a day at his desk. Come Friday, however, he had a completely finished rewrite, and the Wachowskis were thrilled with!

    Sense8, a Netflix Original Series, is Mr. Straczynski’s most recent project that he created with the Wachowskis. The plot revolves around eight strangers from different parts of the world who suddenly become mentally and emotionally linked. The show aims to explore subjects that its the Wachowskis and Straczynski felt science fiction shows, at least ostensibly, tend to ignore or skim through — such as politics, identity, sexuality, gender and religion. Michael penned every episode of the series. The Netflix has seen huge success inside and outside of the U.S.

    We sincerely thank Joseph Michael Straczynski for dropping by NYFA and wish him continued success with Sense8 and his future endeavors!

    July 28, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 2706