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  • “Blue World Order” Produced by NYFA Australia Instructor Timothy Maddocks

    NYFA Australia instructor Timothy Maddocks has taken the philosophy of learning by doing a step farther: teaching by example, continuing to not only remain active in his industry, expanding his impressive list of producing credits with a new feature and festival award wins. “Blue World Order,” which Maddocks produced, is causing a stir on the festival circuit, screening at the prestigious Madrid International Film Festival and sweeping awards elsewhere including:

    Winner, Best Narrative Feature; Film Invasion Los Angeles

    Winner, Audience Choice; Canberra International Film Festival

    Winner Best Feature; Mindfield Los Angeles

    Official Selection: Sci-Fi London, Madrid International (Nominated for Best Film), Burbank International, Phoenix Comic Con

    “Blue World Order” also co-stars fellow NYFA instructor Stephen Hunter, perhaps best known for his turn as Bombur in “The Hobbit” films. NYFA had a chance to catch up with Mr. Maddocks to hear some of his insights on producing high quality films for the festival circuits, and how his students can continue learning by doing out in the industry.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    TM: My road to producing and teaching has been a long one. It started with working shooting sports and community TV, then studying a diploma of film and television at TAFE. After my studies I used sports cameras to shoot several short films with friends where we all honed our skills. Some of the films were OK, but many of them were just lessons for us. After about 10 shorts we got together and shot a low budget feature film called “Sum of Existence” that we eventually sold to the National Nine Network. I thought that having made something we would be able to get funding more easily, but in the end it still took a number of years.

    One night, while showing one of the last of the short films at an event, I was approached by another director who had a film screening there, Marc Furmie, and we went for funding on a short and got it.

    “Death’s Requiem” was the first film to have a decent budget — twice what we had for “Sum of Existence,” and it opened doors to many other places. Through networking I met people who funded our first full budget feature, “Terminus.”

    Along the way, one of the people I had met was Hunter McMahon and after he saw “Terminus” he invited me to come and speak to the students at NYFA as a one-off. The students asked a lot of questions, and as it happened, NYFA was looking for a teacher for production — so I joined the school.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time as an instructor with us?

    TM: My favourite moment at NYFA came when I was working on my third feature, “Out of the Shadows,” and some students came on a field trip to assist with shooting pick-ups. I know the students got a lot out of that day and it felt good to give them real hands-on experience, because NYFA is all about the experience of making things, rather than just classroom learning.

    NYFA: As a producer, what do you look for in a project?

    TM: The script is the guide. Firstly, you have to be able to read it from cover to cover without wanting to put it down. Then, you think about genre, market, and how you can get it made. As I’ve grown, so have my tastes, and while I have been known for producing horror and thrillers, “Blue World Order” was a sci-fi and a great story to start with.

    NYFA: What inspired your film “Blue World Order,” which you produced?

    TM: “Blue World Order” was written by Ché Baker, and he is also a published author as Scott Baker. I read both his script and novel ,and saw the enormous potential in the world that he had created because, like all of the best sci-fi, it is only a small stretch from the world we live in — and that is what makes it easy to relate to. Ché had met me back in the sports days and reached out to get my opinion of the script. I gave him notes and he could see how they helped with the story. From then on, we started talking about how to make the film.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your experience producing the film? Were there any surprises along the way?

    TM: Producing the film was a great experience. We had the challenges that most face: limited time, budget, and resources, however Ché had really made a great start in that he had many of the people of Canberra on his side and they welcomed us with open arms. Ché had also worked on several films in crew roles and had made some good connections in both cast and crew. I had also worked with some great people. We set up the schedule so that the first couple of days on set had Bruce Spence starring as Whippet — a very dark character. Bruce brought him to life and that really sparked our crew.

    Many of the crew were Canberra locals with little or no on-set experience. In the middle of the shoot we had Jack Thompson come and that gave everyone a fresh injection. And partly because I was still closing the deal with the Department of Immigration, and also his agent, but the last few days were with Billy Zane. Ché had met Billy in the U.S. when he was working as an on-set driver and the two had hit it off. Billy came along and helped us finish the main block of shooting. As is often the case, there were pick-ups done later, but at the end of five weeks we had the makings of a film.

    NYFA: “Blue World Order” has swept quite a few film festival awards. What advice would you offer to students interested in producing quality films and competing at renowned festivals?

    TM: “Blue World Order” has picked up several awards, and so did “Death’s Requiem, The New Life,” and it is always the same reason: Because when we get an opportunity to make a film it is our job to pour everything into it.

    No one gives you the opportunity. You earn it. Ché knew that and he poured everything he had into “Blue World Order,” and his passion was infectious. Our crew were drawn from film students to other people who just wanted to give it a go. A few of us had worked together before, like Production Designer Merryn Schofield who had been in the art department on “Terminus,” but being the designer was a big break for her and she had a great group of locals who are inseparable friends today.

    The thing anyone who has made a film knows, is that making it is only half the battle — getting it out there is the next part. You have to send it to festivals, research which ones are appropriate, and push, push, push. That’s the only way that industry buyers are going to notice your film, and from there, the real audience can discover it.

    NYFA: The film co-stars fellow NYFA Instructor Stephen Hunter. Can you tell us how that collaboration came about?

    TM: During his time on “The Hobbit” movies where he worked with Andrew Lesnie as his on-set colourist, Ché had made friends with Stephen Hunter, who played Bombur. Stephen read an early draft and gave Ché feedback and really brought the humour to the script. All of the best films are collaborations: Everyone brings something to the table, and the best directors and producers are the ones who know how to bring those ideas to the fore and make the film better each time. Stephen was full of ideas and willing to get in there and give things a go. It was a great opportunity for him to step into a role that had a lot more going on for his character too.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in preparing you for your work on “Blue World Order”?

    TM: My time at NYFA was helpful in that every time I do anything I look for the learning experience in it. As someone who had come from sports and worked into film, I hadn’t really sat down and broken down the elements of what I do as a producer until I had to teach students.

    Teaching other people gives you structure, and structure is important when managing a large project like a feature film. As a teacher I always love the enthusiasm students bring, and the attitude is one of “just do it” and I encourage that, but then impart on students some of the lessons that I have learned along the way.

    You can spend just as much time and money making a terrible film as making a good one — the difference is in the planning.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on, or what’s next for “Blue World Order”?

    TM:  Since “Blue World Order” spent a long time in post-production because of the special effects involved in sci-fi, I was able to get on and make “Out of the Shadows” while Ché, as director/producer saw “Blue World Order” home. “Out of the Shadows” is also making its way into the world.

    I’ve also started working on IMAX documentaries and helped Jen Peedom on “Mountain,” which is releasing soon.

    “Blue World Order” is going through the screenings for the AACTA awards and has screened in Melbourne on Sept. 12, Sydney on the Sept. 16, and Brisbane on Sept. 19. Any AACTA members can head along and see the film and vote for it there.

    Then later in the year there are more screenings open to the public in Australia. It is being sold by Arclight worldwide and so we’ll have to see where they get traction for the release. If you’re a student who is curious, then sign up for updates here.

    NYFA: Is there anything I missed that you’d like to speak on?

    TM: I’d really just like to reinforce how important it is to be passionate about your career in film, as no one else is going to care as much as you. Every time you get an opportunity to work on a film in whatever role it is, if you give it your all, people will notice. Several cast and crew that I have worked with on small films have come on to larger ones, and usually in greater roles. I do it myself where I have helped people out and then found myself with work. NYFA students often have that passion and some of my students are already building careers for themselves. I really enjoy working with people who seize the opportunities and then go on to create more.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Timothy Maddocks for taking the time to share his experience producing “Blue World Order” with our community.

     

  • NYFA Los Angeles Students Attend Exclusive Premier of “American Assassin”

    On Tuesday, September 12 New York Film Academy Students were invited to a once-in-a-lifetime event: the world premiere of “American Assassin.”

    The screening was held at the famous TCL Chinese Theater. As the students approached the theater, the red carpet stretched out in front them, including the Hollywood Boulevard handprints and stars. 

    Walking past the long line of paparazzi, journalists, PR representatives and screaming fans, students approached the grand entrance. After the large laminate tickets were shown to doormen, the student took their seats at the front of the theater.

    Director Michael Cuesta and producers Aidan Elliott and Lorenzo di Bonaventura introduced the film. They thanked the the men and women of the U.S. covert services who protect the United States of America. They also congratulated the entire crew for helping them complete this project, which they had been working on for over 10 years.

    Stars Michael Keaton, Dylan O’Brien, Taylor Kitsch, and Shiva Negar were also in attendance. “American Assassin” is O’Brien’s first leading role in an action film, though the former MTV “Teen Wolf” star is also known for “The Maze Runner.” His turn as a grieving fiancé seeking revenge against the terrorist organizations who killed the love of his life will have fans seeing O’Brien in an entirely new light.

    During the screening, the crowd was very vocal about their appreciation of the film. They roared with laughter as Keaton used wit and a sharp tongue to eliminate a bad guy and cheered as the hero made a daring last-minute escape.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank CBS Films and Lionsgate for the incredible tickets. Go see “American Assassin” in theaters on Friday, September 15.  

    September 15, 2017 • Academic Programs, Entertainment News, Film School, Filmmaking, Producing • Views: 225

  • NYFA and RED Digital Cinema Reveal RED Challenge Contest Winners

    After months of absolute suspense, New York Film Academy and RED Digital Cinema finally revealed the winners of their fierce competition. The Brazilian alumni pair, Leco Moura and Rodrigo Zan, took the stage for their clean sweep of awards at the wrap event hosted at RED Studios Hollywood on August 31.

    Moura took home the most coveted accolade of the festival, a brand new RED EPIC-W, an 8K professional digital cinema camera, as the Grand Prize for Best Cinematography for his outstanding work on “Jimbo.” Zan was the writer/director of the same heist short film, which could soon become his debut feature. From RED, he already got the jump-start: a three-week rental of a DSMC2 camera for winning the Filmmaker’s Prize.

    It was also a night to remember for Colombian alumnus Andres Hernandez. As the jack-of-all-trades in his dramedy “Monday” — script, directing, and photography — he won the Audience Award. His leading actor, Carlos Perez, accepted the prize on his behalf, for which Hernandez got a $1,500 REDucation voucher for an intensive professional camera workshop.

    The awards ceremony was the culmination of a blazing competition that started in late March, raising more than 130 submissions of the school’s one-year projects or thesis films shot entirely on RED cameras. Then, a NYFA Selection Committee led by the Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond, best known for his work on “Legally Blonde” and “Men of Honor,” carefully watched over 30 hours of film, picking the top 19.

    Those semi-finalists had the opportunity to participate in the Audience Award category while keeping in the run for the Cinematography and Filmmaker prizes. Eleven of them decided to give it a shot at the online voting. Andres Hernandez’s film “Monday” was the favorite of the public.

    In late July, RED narrowed the 19 semi-finalists to just five. Along with “Jimbo,” the top NYFA alumni films were the coming-of-age drama “The Farthest Apple From the Tree,” by director Elmo Kebour with Italian director of photography Andrea Gavazzi; the twisted fable “Feast,” led by a female pair, Kazakhstani writer/director Aizhan Tuganbayeva with French D.P. Julie Angelo; The U.S.A. was represented in the supernatural western “Revelation,” directed by John Willment-Knowles with Ruperto Sanchez as director of photography; and the sci-fi comedy “H.A.M.,” by writer/director Boise Esquerra with Spanish D.P. Julio Escames.

    The Wrap Event held at RED Studios Hollywood highlighted the five finalists and the audience favorite to a handpicked group of guests from the industry and the NYFA/RED Jury. That is the same room where David Fincher color-corrected “Gone Girl.” Formerly an MGM lot and then later the home of the famous Desilu Productions — run by Hollywood royalty supercouple Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball — the place preserves a piece of American film history. It was acquired by RED in the early 2000s, preventing the land from turning into high-rise condos.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank RED Digital Cinema for this consistent and fruitful partnership through several years, being instrumental in the mission of fostering a global new generation of talented and diverse filmmakers. NYFA would also like to congratulate all winners, finalists, and semi-finalists, wishing this competition serves them as a stepping stone in the visual storytelling arts journey to become industry leaders.

    Semi-finalists (in alphabetical order):

    • “Beyond Cornfield Street”
    • “Blue Bird”
    • “Brad Lee”
    • “Family”
    • “Feast” 
    • “H.A.M”
    • “Harmonica”
    • “Jimbo”
    • “Monday”
    • “Mutus”
    • “One Last Breath”
    • “Revelation”
    • “Rosetta’s Blues”
    • “Somewhere”
    • “The Farthest Apple from the Tree”
    • “The Hook”
    • “The Other Side”
    • “Twenty Years After”
    • “Visitors”

     

  • NYFA at IFP Week: Faculty Panel, Student and Alumni Discounts, and More

    The New York Film Academy is proud to be a sponsor of upcoming top industry gathering IFP Week, in Brooklyn from Sept. 17-21. This year, NYFA faculty will be represented on an IFP panel — stay tuned for more details as they come!
    “If you can go, go!” said NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Program Chair Andrea Swift.
    NYFA Documentary Chair Andrea Swift and Producing Chair Neal Weisman explain that IFP Week is a critical industry gathering — whether you’re a producer, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, director, or are involved in the industry in any way. It is as important for launching and maintaining careers as Sundance, and people fly in from all over the world to attend. Simply put, IFP Week is one of the most important events in the U.S. film industry.
    NYFA is proud to help sponsor it and is very pleased to share that IFP has extended a 20% discount to our alumni with special code: NYFA20.

    “IFP’s signature event, IFP Week, has expanded again this year to include numerous public screenings, talks, meet ups, and exhibitions centered on cutting-edge independent content for the big screen, small screen and Internet,” says IFP Deputy Director & Head of Programming Amy Dotson. “From our Filmmaker Magazine Talks, IFP Screen Forward Conference, Direct Access program, VR exhibitions from The Guardian, and more, our guests will have access to some of the most interesting, innovative and outspoken storytellers and leaders working today.”

    NYFA Chair of the Producing Department Neal Weisman will represent as moderator of the “Direct Access” panel: “Finding the Sales.” Neal Weisman is an award-winning film and television producer with over 20 years of international experience. Producing credits include “The Politician’s Wife” (BAFTA and International Emmy Awards for Best Drama Serial, Peabody Award), “Seeing Red” (Christopher Award), and “My Kingdom,” which starred Richard Harris in his last leading role. “Let’s Talk About Sex,” a documentary about adolescent sex in America, broadcast on TLC, digital and DVD release through New Video. Vice President, Edward Pressman Film Corporation: Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” and “Talk Radio,” Barbet Schroeder’s “Reversal of Fortune,” Taviani Brothers’ “Good Morning Babylon,” Fred Schepisi’s “Plenty,” David Byrne’s “True Stories,” David Hare’s “Paris By Night,” Alex Cox’s “Walker,” Charles Burnett’s “To Sleep With Anger,” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Blue Steel.”

    NYFA VR Instructor Caitlin Burns will appear on the IFP Panel “(Virtual) Reality Check: Bringing Filmmakers into the 21st Century.” As a transmedia producer for over 15 years, Ms. Burns has developed storyworlds and sustainable multiplatform strategies for franchises ranging from global blockbuster feature films, award-winning television shows, AAA console games and Virtual Reality. She also works with international brands, and organizations to use new media technologies to reach audiences and create impact. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Producers Guild of America’s New Media Council and Lead Instructor for 360° Filmmaking and VR Gaming at the New York Film Academy.

    IFP Week in Brooklyn, NYC Sept. 17-21, Programming to include (via official website):

    Filmmaker Magazine Talks @ BRIC

    This year’s IFP Week will kick off on Sunday, September 17th with Filmmaker Magazine Talks @ BRIC. In honor of the 100th issue of the iconic publication, programming will celebrate the creative talents and industry who have filled Filmmaker Magazine’s pages for a quarter of a century. The event will feature Editor-in-Chief Scott Macaulay in talks with 2017 Academy Award-winners Barry Jenkins & Adele Romanski (“Moonlight”), Emmy-nominated director Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), The Safdie Brothers (“Good Time”), Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”) as well as past and 2017 Filmmaker Magazine “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

    IFP Screen Forward Conference @ Made in NY Media Center by IFP

    Featuring intimate conversations with some of the most interesting, innovative and outspoken storytellers and leaders today, the program runs Monday, September 18 through Wednesday, September 20 at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Speakers include Cenk Uygur (“The Young Turks”), Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”), Mark Douglas (“The Key of Awesome!”), Anjali Sud (Vimeo CEO), Jenna Wortham (“Still Processing”) and many more!

    IFP Direct Access & Meet The Decision Makers @ Made in NY Media Center by IFP

    IFP also offers aspiring artists and entrepreneurs – as well as working professionals in the media & tech industry – direct access to top industry leaders through its Meet the Decision Makers and Direct Access tracks.

    Meet The Decision Makers

    Get face-time with some of the most exciting organizations in indie entertainment today in small group meetings with company representatives from Amazon Studios, A&E, Bleecker Street, Cinetic, First Look Media, Field of Vision, HBO, IFC, Killer Films, POV, Oscilloscope, Sony Pictures Classics, Submarine, Vimeo, and more.

    IFP Direct Access

    NEW TO IFP WEEK 2017.  Join top industry leaders for sage advice and time-saving information on how to launch your narrative feature, doc, serialized content, in intimate, small workshops with accomplished industry leaders whose expertise ranges from finding financing to digital distribution.

    NYFA students and alumni are invited to attend the prestigious independent filmmaking event. As part of our partnership, IFP is offering 20% discount to students and alumni. To purchase your ticket(s), go to the website and use the Partner Code.

     

  • NYFA Producing Grad Kalpana Malviya’s “Made in America” Airs on Zee TV

    New York Film Academy 4-Week Producing Workshop graduate Kalpana Malviya’s original reality program “Made in America” launches this week on Zee TV, India’s largest television network.

    India.com reports that “Made in America” is the first-ever English-language Bollywood reality program to be produced entirely in Hollywood. Hosted by Nina Davuluri, the 2014 Miss America winner, the show  chronicles the journey of six young South East Asian women selected from a pool of 6,000 hopefuls in a talent competition in the vein of “America’s Next Top Model.” The competition includes participation in acting classes at the New York Film Academy.

    Last fall, Malviya told the New York Film Academy Blog that her NYFA training was a help in poising her to launch her professional life in television: “I’m from India. Hollywood films really pop in India. I took what I learned at NYFA and landed a job with Zee TV.”

    It was while working with Zee TV that Malviya came up with the idea for “Made in America,” which combines Hollywood glamour with Bollywood power for an entirely unique reality television experience. Malviya recalled, “I pitched them the idea. They loved it and now, here we are.”

    As Sameer Targe, CEO, ZEE TV America explained to India.com, Zee TV is “the flagship television network for the South Asian community in the United States,” meaning that the new reality program will provide an exciting collaboration and cultural bridge between Hollywood and Bollywood.

    We had a chance to catch up with Kalpana Malviya to hear her thoughts about bringing her original series to life.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    KM: As a child I was always fascinated by films and wanted to make movies and TV shows. I pursued modeling in India to try and further my dreams. I won (first runner up) a beauty pageant, Miss Gladrags, 2009, and from there received many opportunities. After my modeling contract was up, I started working at various production companies. I soon realized I had to learn. So, I decided to come to the New York Film Academy to expand my knowledge in production.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us?

    KM: My favorite NYFA moment was the realization of my true abilities. I saw a new world opening with tremendous opportunities all around me. I was soaking up as much as I could, but it wasn’t until a professor from NYFA sat me down and told me that I had a natural talent for producing, I realized what I wanted to do within the industry.

    NYFA: What inspired your passion for producing?

    KM: In addition to my fascination with films, I had a knack for business. I am certain the business woman in me was influenced by watching my father run his own company. I found myself naturally gravitating towards producing, without realizing what it was at the time. There I could utilize both my creativity and business abilities to produce quality film & TV shows, which allowed me to bring all my skills to the table. It wasn’t just enough to understand the story, I had to visualize and work towards bringing my vision to the right niche market.

    NYFA: Now that “Made in America” has aired on Zee TV (congrats, again!), can you tell us how your role as a producer has evolved? Are there any aspects of bringing the production to air that have surprised you, or opened new challenges?

    KM: I would have to say that learning to market the show to the right audience was certainly a challenging and evolving aspect for me. In addition, to bring the story forth I had to explore new ways of marketing with social media, targeted ad campaigns, and press coverage, all while keeping in mind the final goal of increasing our show’s revenue.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for preparing you for the work you are doing today?

    KM: Of course! I took my first steps toward development, direction and distribution (“Triple D’s”) at NYFA. There, I gained all the necessary knowledge and technical skills to become a creative mega force. All of those technical skills and creative understanding are critical for my role at Zee TV.

    NYFA: You’ve said in other interviews that part of your inspiration for “Made in America” was a desire to see more high quality South East Asian content on TV. Can you share with our international student community your view, as a working producer, as to why this is so important?

    KM: I think it’s super important to celebrate diversity within media. America has been recognized as the melting pot of cultures from my recollection. Its even more pertinent to bring this to our communities given today’s heated political climate. We can use media as an outlet to reflect different ethnicities, viewpoints, and lifestyles. I would urge to all student to choose a media platform that represents diversity.

    I am thankful to be a part of one such media force with a threshold of 1 billion viewers  over 171 countries around the world. Zee TV brings cultures together and celebrates differences in cultures of our unique countries to amplify the beauty.

    NYFA: For our producing students, can you offer any advice on bringing an original concept like “Made in America” to live on a major network?

    KM: Its a combination of finding the right media platform that allows you to be innovative and creative and where the executives fully support their staff’s new ideas. Without people like Sameer Targe (Zee America’s CEO) and Kitty Koo (VP International Relations at NYFA), among others, to support and believe in me, making these shows would not be possible.

    At the end of the day you need to believe in your own vision and people to help you make that vision a reality. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” (Harriet Tubman)

    NYFA: Can you share with us about any upcoming projects you are working on?

    KM: I’m working on an array of new programs produced in the U.S. by Zee, which will air on the channel throughout 2017 and 2018. There’s a huge variety in what we’re producing — a matchmaking show, a business show, and a new style family quiz game show, as well as a docu-drama on successful Indian-American entrepreneurs.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kalpana Malviya for taking the time to share a part of her story with our community.

  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Viceland’s Eddie Huang as Guest Speaker

    This month, the New York Film Academy welcomed New York Times Bestselling author (“Fresh off the Boat”), chef, designer, and producer Eddie Huang to the Los Angeles campus. The event was hosted by Q & A Director Tova Laiter, who produced “Glory” with Denzel Washington.

    Huang showed NYFA students a segment he filmed in D.C. part of a series he is producing and stars in for Viceland called “Huang’s World.”  On his show, Huang travels the world tasting unique foods from every culture.

    Huang has an incredible resume that included being a lawyer and doing stand-up comedy. He shared that he had wanted to get into film but was told no one wanted to buy Asian American stories. He was crushed, but he did not let it stop him from being an artist.

    “Americans expect us (Asian Americans) to be good at cooking and kung-fu,” Huang said. So he started cooking, but kept his focus on Asian culture when he spoke to the media. Pretty quickly he was picked up for shows like “Munchies” and “Snack-Off.”

    Laiter asked Huang how he pitched “Huang’s World” to Viceland. Essentially, he blended his frustration with not being seen with his love of food: “I told them I wanted to explore culture through food.” That was it. The show was picked up for six episodes.

    When asked how he’s been able to accomplish so much in his short life Huang said, “It’s schedule and discipline. If I wake up and I’m not on it, I get mad.”

    That attitude has permeated every aspect of his life. He has studied everything  (“its about the science of it”) from boxing to film to the difference in how his parents cooked (“mother was more focus and her food tasted better!”).

    Huang expanded upon the unique racism he has faced. In one anecdote, he shared that once he had written an article for a local paper. They liked it so much, they asked him to come in for a job. But when they saw his face they didn’t think people would be interested in talking to him. This is one example of many.

    So, Huang began working a lot of different jobs: “I didn’t know where my entry point was.”

    Huang explained that it is impossible to know where to start a career, but by being forced to start over so many times he grew into a more knowledgeable person and a stronger candidate for every job he applied for afterward.

    His final lesson: “Whatever you’re doing, do it well.”

    Huang had a lot of advice for students, including taking advantage of the library here at NYFA. “I just happened to walk into your library and you guys have a great collection. Use it!” Huang likes to go to Cinefile and watch the entire filmography of a single director. “I like seeing how they’ve progressed from start to finish.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Eddie Huang for speaking to our students. You can watch his show “Huang’s World” on Viceland.

  • NYFA Alum Janek Ambros’ Film Produced by Barbara De Fina

    New York Film Academy alumnus Janek Ambros, known for his work on “Valley of Bones,” “10,000 Saints,” and “Imminent Threat,” is working with Marin Scorsese’s long-time producing collaborator, Barbara De Fina.

    Ambros’ film, “May 15th in Paris,” retells the story of a large protest on the streets of Paris on May 15, 1848. Ambros uses a narrator to recount this historic date and juxtaposes that story with images of current controversial populist political wins across the globe.

    Ambrose did an email interview with NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith to talk about his experience making this film.

    15th of May Poster

    NYFA: How did you team up with Hollywood legend Barbara De Fina? 

    Ambros: Since I was a kid, Barbara De Fina and Irwin Winkler were two people I greatly admired. As a director, I dreamed I would one day have as supportive and creative producers as Martin Scorsese did. However, it wasn’t really my intention to have her produce my films. I originally wanted to see if she had any projects she needed funding for, because I dabble in film finance.

    But when I came back from Paris and showed her the footage, she had a lot of great notes on the narration, editing, and overall pacing. We ended up collaborating on it and in the end, she decided to come on board as a producer.  

    NYFA: What was it like working with such a giant in the producing field?

    Ambros: Someone who has produced for my favorite director of all time is now producing my films. It was obviously a little surreal. It truly is an honor to work with her. But when it’s all said and done, she simply made the film better and that is always the goal. It’s extremely important to listen to others who have experience and expertise greater than your own. You don’t want to be too rigid-minded in your thinking. Having a good creative producer on board is incredibly valuable.

    NYFA: Can you expand upon why you wanted to compare the incidences of 1848 with the recent U.S. presidential election and Brexit? 

    Ambros: I’m really into history. It’s really important to not just know your history, but also understand how it applies today. No situation is entirely unique. In the 1840s, those in power blatantly ignored the powerless. To me, their situation is similar to how today’s “corporate Democrats” failed a lot of the lower and middle class. People finally had enough. However, when they went to the ballot, citizens went in the wrong direction, similar to the French in the 1840s when they voted for Napoleon Bonaparte. 

    NYFA: How did all of these events affect you as a creator? 

    Ambros: Given Trump, the overall rejection of globalism by many in Western countries, and the rise of nationalism, my approach to how I create content has changed. I’ve always been into politics. I’ve done shorts on the military industrial complex, the bank bailouts, authoritarianism, etc. I’m just sticking to my original game plan.

    I see a lot of other writers pull an audible to make their work reflect what’s happening with Trump and that can be great. But, I’d be cautious against changing your entire approach. Things are always going to evolve, especially living in a world with a never-ending news cycle. So, if you keep trying to make everything “current,” it can be challenging. 

    I do think this political climate will spark a “New Wave” of more politically challenging films, which is great. Our company is trying to focus on filmmakers who are making movies that strive for greatness. We want to be like Zoetrope, who tackled challenging cinema in the ‘60s and ‘70s.  

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that helped you make this film? 

    Ambros: The most important element I learned from NYFA to help make this film was to just go out and make it. So many other film schools focus on academia, where NYFA really taught me how to go out and make a film and learn from doing. Although my ultimate aspirations are writing and directing, I went to NYFA for producing. I’m glad I did. I no longer have an excuse to not make a movie.

    NYFA: What did you learn while making this film? Would you change anything about your process? 

    Ambros: I learned a lot about taking in surroundings when making a film. My previous doc was a lot of talking heads and stock footage with mostly stylized editing. This one I couldn’t have any stock footage and didn’t want to do any interviews; I wanted to approach it more as an experimental film with each segment having its own style. So, I was forced to really push myself to look for interesting imagery and create a solid composition and shot design. 

    NYFA: What projects do you have coming up next?

    Ambros: My next film is “Arlington West.” I’ll, once again, be working with Barbara De Fina. The movie is about two Iraq War veterans who spend the night debating war and peace along the Santa Monica pier after attending the Arlington West memorial service.

    We have other projects in development as well that include an adaptation of the widely acclaimed ”Nixon’s Nixon,” penned by Russell Lees, about the night before Nixon gets impeached; an adaption of the timeless play “An Enemy of the People,” by Henrik Ibsen; and a VR sequel to “Mondo Hollywood,” the 1967 cult classic. Lastly, we’re developing a psychedelic comedy about the re-awakening of liberalism in America entitled “Mondo Oligarchy.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Ambros for his incredible success with “May 15th in Paris,” and thank him for taking the time to share his story.

  • NYFA Los Angeles Holds Social Media Networking Night

    _DSC7452Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development Barbara Weintraub held a Social Media Networking Night at NYFA Los Angeles in late July. Over 220 students from the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus attended the event held in the Riverside Building.

    The lobby was filled with film companies like Film Independent and New Filmmakers LA. They were there to share opportunities for students, membership experiences, and career paths.

    A color-coded system helped students get in touch with other students. Small dots on name tags indicated whether the attending was an actor, filmmaker, photographer, or game designer.  

    “There are so many students that I hadn’t met,” said acting student An Phan. “I’m at the Barham building most of the time while the photography and filmmaking students are at Riverside. I never get to interact with them. I saw a lot of portfolios and I was blown away by how talented everyone was. It was great interaction. I had a lot of fun.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to wish all the students applying for professional memberships and those students teaming up to work on a project success on their next venture.

  • NYFA Welcomes Sherry Lansing and Stephen Galloway as Guest Speakers

    NYFA students at the Los Angeles campus were invited to an exclusive Q & A event featuring former Paramount Pictures chairman Sherry Lansing and Hollywood Reporter writer Stephen Galloway, who penned Sherry Lansing’s recent biography, “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker.” Director of Q and A series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Lansing started her career as a script reader and worked her way up the ladder until she became president at 20th Century Fox in 1980. Lansing was the first woman in history to hold the position.

    LansingPhoto001

    Next, Lansing took on producing for such hits as “Fatal Attraction” (1987) and “Indecent Proposal” (1993). Later, Lansing became the chairman and CEO at Paramount where, for 12 years, she oversaw production and marketing on 200 movies — including blockbusters such as “Braveheart,” “Forrest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Titanic.”

    Lansing had a lot of advice for up-and-coming film creators. One large piece of advice was, “Returning every phone call is just good business. You never know were ideas come from.”

    ‘The executive’s job is to just find good talent,” she told students. “Every film that does poorly is my failure. Every film that does well is not my success.”

    Lansing left the entertainment industry at 60 to pursue an entirely new career in the non-profit industry, and created the Sherry Lansing Foundation, which focuses on cancer research and education. She sits on nine major profit and non-profit boards.

    LansingPhoto008

    Galloway centered the book on Lansing’s journey from an insecure young girl to her incredible ability to make a space for herself where previously there had been no women, saying, “There was no Churchill before Winston Churchill. There was no Sherry Lansing before Lansing.”  

    One of the questions asked was, “What advice do you have for screenwriters and working with a budget? We are always instructed to write from our imagination, but I’ve heard other people say you should write for the budget. What do you think?”

    Lansing responded, “You should always write from the heart. Our job in the studio is to keep the eye on the budget.”

    Lansing advised that striking a harmonious balance is in the best interest of the writer, particularly when working with a studio: They have bought the script and will eventually do with it as they please. If the writer wants to stay on the project they should find a way to work with the studio.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Sherry Lansing and Stephen Galloway for taking the time to speak with our students.  

  • NYFA Veterans Division Screens “Between Iraq and a Hard Place” With Special Guest Q&A

    This month, the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) hosted a special screening of the military documentary, “Between Iraq and a Hard Place,” at its Los Angeles campus.

    Following the screening, NYFA Acting Instructor Michael Bershad moderated a Q&A with the film’s producer, Rex Pratt, and current MFA acting student, technical advisor and retired Navy/Marine Corps Chaplain Ron Ringo.

    (Left to Right) Moderator Michael Bershad discusses the process of making the film withProducer Rex Pratt and current MFA student and Technical Advisor Ron Ringo.

    The film takes a deep look at the impact that war has on members of our nation’s military when they return from home, and asks the question; Are we are really doing enough to help service members with this transition?

    Packed with raw and unfiltered footage from the war and personal interviews with the men that were there, the film helps the audience gain a valuable perspective on the issues that face our returning men and women who serve our country in the military.

    Marine Corps Veteran and BFA filmmaking student David Jimenez said:

    The film hit home. It captured the stress and fear of combat and how we still manage to have a sense of humor about things, and push through it all. The fact that they mention the difference between coming home on a ship and coming home on a plane is actually astonishing since no one normally thinks of that. I came home on a plane and I was literally on the I-5 freeway going home 25 hours after a mortar attack in the Middle East. The last scene in the film when they are being mortared was powerful. I remember being that scared when it happened to me. That is something that I don’t normally talk about with people.”

    For more information on “Between Iraq and a Hard Place,” please visit the film’s website

     

    by Michael Kunselman