Producing
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  • Writer / Creator Matthew Arnold Gives NYFA Students Advice on How to Pitch for TV

    The writer and creator of “Siberia,” “Emerald City,” and “Shadow People,” Matthew Arnold, visited the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy on Monday, February 27, 2017. Students from several writing classes attended the event.

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    Arnold read pitches for each of his most recent projects and gave students advice on how to refine their pitches. “I like to do a little research (before a pitch), so I have something to talk to the executives about….

    But for ‘Siberia,’ I did something different. I went in and said, ‘Have you seen this new thing going around YouTube? There’s this reality show in Russia and people are being killed. They think it’s Chechen rebels.”

    Arnold said this pitch would often get Executives to call in their assistants and request to see the videos. When he revealed that this was not a real occurrence, but the pitch for “Siberia” they were already vested in the project. The end of that pitch was this: “We’re going to do for TV what ‘The Blair Witch Project’ did for film.”

    One student asked, “There’s a long established relationship with the world of ‘Oz’ for most of your audience. How did you create something new and not damage the source material?”

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    “I think that’s the big challenge. To be honest, I didn’t have this thought when I first sat down to write it. I was just excited to write. But when we got into production, I realized there was a huge responsibility on me. People have a certain feeling about the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ They have childhood memories and beliefs about the story. It really irks me when someone takes the source material and go left, keeping only the names. What’s the point of that?

    So, I wanted to dig into the source material more and kind of translate it. If you read those books they are very vague. You have to infer that this would be a problem and hence there would be a conflict. That’s where you get the complexity without necessarily tampering with the source material.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Arnold for taking the time to speak with our students. You can watch “Emerald City” Fridays on NBC.

    March 13, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 1556

  • A Talk with Producer Darryl Marshak at New York Film Academy LA

    Legendary Producer and Talent Manager Darryl Marshak gave a rousing Q and A during the New York Film Academy’s Guest Lecture Series, run by Tova Laiter, at the Los Angeles campus. Students packed the theater to hear advice, stories, and anecdotes from the man who has represented such actors as Leonardo DiCaprio, Ernie Hudson, Phil Hartman, and Ray Liotta among many.

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    The Chair of the Acting for Film Department, Lynda Goodfriend, hosted the evening. Marshak brought memorabilia from his life’s journeys, including a hundred dollar bill signed by Leonardo DiCaprio and a dozen GoPros he handed out to students to film the event.

    Marshak was asked about his early years as an agent and he had this to say before the Internet, you had your feet and you had dimes. You could use the pay phones on the back lot to do business throughout the day. You had to know not just the casting agents, but their assistants, too. Casting directors are like Elephants. They never forget. “

    As for producing now: “It’s really hard to do this without a trust fund, guys. I was shooting on 16 mm and spending all the money I earned for the week on making the next film.”

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    When asked about transitioning from an agent to manager Marshak said: “It was harder to be a manager because I wanted to run it like an agency.” As a manager, Marshak helped both Hilary Swank, who was living in her car, and James Franco, who hadn’t yet joined SAG, get their start in the business.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Marshak for taking the time to speak with our students. You can learn more about the illustrious career of Marshak here.

    March 2, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1428

  • NYFA Welcomes a Group of Enthusiastic Italian Students

    An exceptional group of Italian students recently graduated from the 4-Week Producing Program at New York Film Academy’s New York City campus. The students, all from the Lazio Region of Italy—most whom reside in Rome—attended NYFA as a result of being awarded special fellowships from the Roma Lazio Film Commission’s Torno Subito (“Be Right Back”) program. The Torno Subito program was created to fund projects submitted by Italian university students or graduates, aged 18 to 35 years, with the interest in taking advanced training courses, and upon completion, return home to use their newfound skills in the workplace. Also involved in this educational initiative is AssForSeo, an Italian employment guidance organization.

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    In addition to the students enrolled in the Producing Department at NYFA New York’s campus were dozens of students in the Filmmaking, Documentary Filmmaking, Animation, Broadcast Journalism, Screenwriting, Digital Editing, and Acting for Film programs. Both the New York and Los Angeles campuses of NYFA hosted this wonderful group of talented young Italians.

    NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman declared, “It was a pleasure having this group in our 4-Week Intensive producing workshop. They were very engaged, enthusiastic, and curious – of course they were, they’re Italian!”

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    After graduating from the NYFA program, the students are headed back to Rome where they will work at various industry internships. Most positions are with prominent Italian film production companies, where they will assist in the creation of a wide variety of film projects. The NYFA LA Campus Director, Dan Mackler, was effusive in his praise for the visiting students and stated, “Integrating seamlessly with our large international student community—currently representing nearly 80 countries—the Torno Subito students brought wonderful energy to our school. We expect great film industry success stories to come from these special NYFA alums.”

    NYFA is proud to participate in this program and looks forward to future collaboration with a variety of international partners.

    February 7, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 1752

  • Producing Couple Finds Love and Distribution From NYFA Thesis Film

    With students coming from all areas of the world, it’s inevitable that a student will partner up with somebody from an entirely different culture than their own. It’s even possible that the working relationship could extend in personal areas of life beyond the set. At least this was the case with two former students, Rudi and Radhika Womack, who met at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, collaborated on Rudi’s thesis project, and are now married!

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    Rudi came to NYFA from the hills of Cheyenne, Wyoming while Radhika came all the way from New Delhi, India.

    Rudi’s thesis, “Call of the Wolf,” was produced by Radhika, and now, as a much deserving added bonus, the couple’s film was picked up for worldwide rights by Gravitas Ventures.

    Gravitas has set a Feb. 7 VOD/DVD release date for their film, which is about two kidnapped and trapped strangers who must survive the brutal onslaught of winter and are forced to play a deadly game of survival to outsmart their kidnapper — a sniper calling himself “Wolf.”

    “‘Call of The Wolf’ really stood out to us among a sea of submissions,” said Dan Fisher, director of acquisitions for Gravitas. “We really appreciated the quality of the filmmaking and the gradual reveal of the story, and we are excited to release across our multiple platform partners.”

    We spoke to the newly married couple and filmmaking partners before their upcoming release tomorrow.

    Congratulations on having your thesis film picked up by Gravitas! Can you tell us how this film first came about?

    Rudi: I have always wanted to tell a story of survival; of a character who is ripped from their element and forced into a hostile environment. As I developed the story I knew there wouldn’t be a chance of it getting picked up unless the film had some more “traditional” elements. Over seven drafts Call of the Wolf took shape; evolving from a story of pure survival in the wilderness, into a cat-and-mouse game with a man hunting the protagonist.

    How would each of you pitch this film in your own words?

    Rudi: There’s plot and story. The plot is simple: Madman kidnaps two strangers and forces them into the wilderness for a deadly game of survival. But the story, the meat and bones of the film, is all about Lester. He’s a rich kid who has never had responsibility, risk, or any real challenge. Over the course of the film he slowly evolves into a much stronger, self-reliant person.

    Radhika: The film is about survival. It is about overcoming difficulties, rising to the occasion to learning to fight for what is important to you.

    How did you get your thesis film into the hands of Gravitas, your distributor? Were you surprised when they picked up your film for distribution?

    Rudi: We avoided the festival circuit and went straight to distributors with the film. I guess it turned some heads because we had 3 positive responses in the span of a week. Gravitas Ventures was our best choice because of the care and consideration they had towards the integrity of the story. Gravitas Ventures has taken great care of us and I’m very lucky to be working with them.

    Radhika: We were surprised and thrilled when Gravitas Ventures picked up Call of the Wolf for distribution. They have a great line up of films and Call of the Wolf fits right in. We are looking forward to the great things we can do together with them.

    What were some of the challenges of shooting a film on location in the mountains of Wyoming? How did you overcome them?

    Rudi: Wyoming is my home, so I know how unpredictable it can be, especially on the mountain. The weather was really tough for sure. It dropped far below 0 many, many times. But the hardest part for me was the limitations of budget. There were so many things I wanted to do that simply were not possible with the constraints we had. Even simple things like dolly shots were mostly unachievable for us. It also makes it really hard to set up a shot in the snow, because you can’t leave any tracks. You end up walking a long way so the shot is clear. I knew the limitations of budget and equipment were going to hurt us, so very early on I started designing the look of the film around static wide shots. I think the mountain, trees, and snow offered a multitude of opportunities for beautifully framed wide shots. So that’s what we did; we trekked into the trees, set up the camera, and let it roll for a bit. This also helped with the slower pace of the film I was trying to achieve.

    Radhika: The biggest challenge we experienced was the weather. It was very cold and at that temperature and elevation, everyone’s efficiency level goes down. We had planned for it to the best of our ability by scheduling easier scenes at the beginning of the shoot, slower and shorter days than we would normally have if we shot in sunny Los Angeles. Kudos to the cast and crew to have powered through the month and for bringing their A-game on even in such difficult conditions!

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    Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of being able to create this film?

    Radhika: Yes. This was Rudi’s thesis film for his MFA in Filmmaking program. We had support and guidance from the teachers at every step of production. There were times we felt they were being too harsh or difficult but in the end it was always for our benefit.

    Where will we be able to see your film?

    Radhika: Just about anywhere that you would see most movies! It will be released on DVD and Blue Ray, and will be available on most major VOD platforms. We’re also hoping to secure a limited release in theaters across Colorado and Wyoming.

    Are you currently working on another project that you’d like to tell us about?

    Radhika: Rudi and I are currently in principal photography on our next untitled feature film. Additionally I am working on a documentary with an Academy Award nominated director as well as Line Producing a soon-to-be announced Virtual Reality series

    Rudi: We’re currently in production on our next feature film, which is still untitled. It follows the story of a young man who robs a pawnshop to help support his girlfriend. The robbery goes wrong and he barricades himself in a truck stop bathroom, which triggers an intense standoff with the police. Radhika and I also recently made a short film called “Chippy” about a dog who bites a little girl, and the repercussions it has on a single mother and her family. It’s just finishing up its festival run.

    February 6, 2017 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2227

  • Shanghai Theatre Academy Studies Producing at NYFA NY and LA

    Given China’s rapidly growing movie business, students from the Shanghai Theatre Academy traveled to New York Film Academy for a Producing Workshop, which consisted of one week at the New York campus and one week at the Los Angeles campus.

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    The producer is the spark of the creativity in filmmaking,” said NYFA Senior Executive Vice President, David Klein while introducing the students to NYFA’s Producing Workshop. “If you don’t have a strong concept of how the story will be told, budgeting and preparing the numbers for the project will become extremely challenging.” 

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    The workshop provided an overview of what role the producer plays on a given production, with a strong emphasis on budgeting and scheduling in Movie Magic. Classes within the workshop also included Film Financing, as well as a Directing Class in order to have a filmmaker’s perspective on the process of filmmaking. “I always look to my director as my partner,” said NYFA NYC Producing Chair, Neal Weisman. “It’s my job as a producer to put the director’s vision up on the screen.”

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    Students also learned best practices for how to pitch their projects and, very importantly, where to find the money and how to control the project’s risk.

    “We have learned much and experienced the well developed producing system in Hollywood, said Shanghai student Hongyu Liu. “Thank you very much!”

    January 27, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 1213

  • NYFA Alumnus Jean de Meuron’s “La Femme et le TGV” Nominated for Academy Award

    la femme et la tgvBack in 2009, the New York Film Academy offered a Brett Ratner Tuition Grant, which was awarded to a passionate young filmmaker from Switzerland, Jean de Meuron. While at NYFA, de Meuron got a full scope of the movie-making landscape, studying filmmaking, screenwriting, and cinematography at both the New York and Los Angeles campuses.

    Now residing in Los Angeles, de Meuron was recently Executive Producer on the short film “La femme et le TGV,” directed by Timo von Gunten and starring César Award nominee Jane Birkin. The short film, which was inspired by true events, was nominated for a 2016 Academy Award in the Best Live Action Short Category!

    We had a chance to speak to our former student before his big day at the Academy Awards this upcoming Feb. 26th, 2017.

    Congratulations on your film’s Academy Award nomination! In your own words, what is “La femme et le TGV” about?

    “La femme et le TGV” is a charming tale about a lonely woman who, through poetic and thoughtful letters, connects and builds a close relationship with a TGV train driver that passes her house at 190 mph every single day. As the two anonymous souls share their worlds by writing to each other, one fateful day the train does not pass her house, leading her to embark on a journey away from the place she calls home in search of that lost connection.

    How did this film come about and how did you become involved with the project?

    Our director, Timo von Gunten, read this incredible true story in a Swiss tabloid about a woman who’s been waving at the passing TGV train for many years from her balcony. He immediately fell in love with the whimsical nature and tone of this true story: A woman and a man writing letters to one another without ever meeting in person — or at least for the first couple of interactions. A huge inspiration for Timo has always been “Amélie” — and I think this is quite apparent in his work, as far as the visuals and camera blocking are concerned. However, Timo has such a strong style and visual sense on his own, so he puts his own stamp as a director, infused with elements from the works of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson.

    I met Timo while I was a Jury Member at the Basel Gässli Film Festival, where I saw his short film that he had directed. I was immensely impressed with his visual flair, mise-en-scènesensitivity with which he directed actors and staged scenes, as well as the color palette, soundtrack and edit. There was a filmmaker at work, who I considered a true artist that caught my attention. During the festival, I approached him, complementing his work and saying that I would like to work with him very much. The rest, so they say, is history.

    How did you attach Jane Birkin to the project? And what was it like to work with her?

    Timo tells this story best, so I extend the courtesy of having him share his thoughts here, as he as the director, worked most closely with her:

    “First of all, I had to write a screenplay that was emotional, touching. I have a very good friend, a casting director and acting coach in London, who helped me to pass on the script to Jane’s agent. What I didn’t know, of course, and I was quite lucky — I have to admit that — the topic of solitude resonates so much with her. She just fell in love with the story. She called me up and said wants to do it. However, the funny thing was, first she said, “I want to do it, but I can’t because I’m not supposed to ride bicycles anymore.” And as you know, the film has loads of biking scenes… Working with Jane was quite an extraordinary experience because she has this inner beauty still kept alive. She’s quite fragile but very, very truthful. That’s what’s really great about her.” — from Timo von Gunten’s interview with ScreenPicks (Alfonso Espina) – Interview: Timo von Gunten Talks About ‘La Femme et le TGV’

    I would add that Jane has this incredible generosity and gentle kindness that I witnessed while we were attending the Locarno Film Festival, where she was awarded the Golden Leopard for her Life Achievement.

    Can you tell us how you found out about NYFA and the Brett Ratner Tuition Grant?

    While I was a student at the New York Film Academy, NYFA founder Jerry Sherlock, who had always been very supportive of me, suggested that I should apply for the Brett Ratner Tuition Grant — as I had done several short films during my studies that did the festival circuit. While applying, I put all of my passion and dedication into my application materials, meaning I went above and beyond by presenting a strong package. When I was awarded the Brett Ratner Tuition Grant I was very proud, as Brett’s impressive career has inspired me very much and continues to do so. His journey from having Steven Spielberg support his student short film, “Whatever Happened to Mason Reese” (1990), to becoming a Hollywood movie mogul (co-financing the slate of Warner Bros. with his company RatPac) is immensely awe-inspiring.

    Would you say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being able to produce this film?

    Certainly. I always liked the New York Film Academy’s philosophy and educational approach of “learning by doing.” The practical experience enabled me to gain a very sophisticated understanding of physical production, and all its challenges that come with it. As my favorite filmmaker of all time, Steven Spielberg, once noted, “Filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.” That being said, with director Timo von Gunten and my producing partners Giacun Caduff and Bela Böke, we had a wonderful synergy of complementing components, as we each could rely on each other’s strengths and interests.

    Jean (on the right) attending the Golden Globes

    Jean (on the right) attending the Golden Globes

    What has been the reaction of your team, knowing you have a one in five chance of winning an Academy Award for this short?

    I think every filmmaker aspires for his or her work to be critically acclaimed — some more than others of course — but in the end, storytelling is also entertainment, and as such we thrive to speak to, emotionally engage and captivate an audience. The reaction has obviously been overwhelming, however, we won’t define the success of our film solely on awards, but also on how the story resonates with our audience and how we are able to touch and move people. It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be considered for Academy Award consideration and we are infinitely grateful.

    Why do you feel your film deserves to win the Academy Award? What makes it so unique?

    Tough question. I think every film that has been nominated is there for a reason and deserving of such an accomplishment. What makes “La femme et le TGV” unique — at least as far as I am concerned — is its fairytale element that makes this story not only very charming and uplifting, but also relevant and meaningful. Our story, more than ever, is timeless because of the fact that although developed between written letters, most people of several generations (young and adult) can relate to our protagonist’s journey where, in the digital realm of things, loneliness and longing for something, are huge components of our daily lives.

    Where would we be able to see this film?

    “La femme et le TGV” is currently available on iTunes.

    Are you currently working on any other projects you’d like to discuss?

    Yes, I am currently developing a feature film with Timo and my producing partner Chady Eli Mattar, who, like myself, worked for prolific and immensely gifted producer Scott Rudin — a true industry icon. The film is called “The Man Who Sold The Eiffel Tower” and tells the true and epic tale of a charismatic con-artist, Victor Lustig, whose journey culminates in pulling off the biggest scam in the history of mankind — selling the Eiffel Tower — ensuing in a manhunt across the world that threatens to tear apart his beloved family.

    January 24, 2017 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2811

  • NYFA Alumna Produces Six Feature Films in Three Years

    Producing six features in three years since graduating from film school sounds impossible. However, New York Film Academy graduate, Mariietta Volynska, proved that you can do it as long as you have the true desire to set that goal and accomplish it.

    Her first notable break into the industry was when she won the Best Commercial at the Tribeca Festival with her NYFA thesis project, an American Express Spec Commercial.

    Since graduating in 2013 she has produced numerous shorts, music videos, commercials and several feature films including “El Freeman” directed by Eljazz Rakhimbekov and Antonio Chavez Trejo, “Summer of 8” and “Still Life” directed by Ryan Schwartz, “Bornless Ones” directed by Alexander Babaev, starring Michael Johnston, and most recently the independent thriller “Culture of Fear” starring Malcolm McDowell, Steven Bauer, Edoardo Costa and Kayla Tabish.

    We recently spoke with Mariietta Volynska and asked her what she thought helps her start and keep the ball rolling on so many projects.

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    1% talent and 99% hard work will get you there. The competition is huge, pure talent is not enough. Don’t be lazy.” Every day Volynska wakes up at 6am and goes to bed around midnight. This schedule allows her to have more working hours.

    Experience. “You learn while you are doing and NYFA provides you with all of the opportunities to get solid experience. Be on set while in school as much as you can, do not avoid participating in a project, because there is only a PA position left or no budget. Work for free. Work as a PA. Just be on set, observe! Get valuable, strong experience.” Before producing her first feature Volynska already had about 30 shorts under her belt.

    Reputation. “Start building your reputation from the first day of classes. You have to click together with your peers. You see who you will work with in the future.” Half of Volynska’s crew are NYFA alumni. They help each other. They recommend each other and always try to get hired as a team. But it’s not only the New York Film Academy that they have in common; all of them are hardworking, trustworthy, and passionate.

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    Broad knowledge. “I’m very happy that I got my BFA in Filmmaking,” said Volynska. “During this program I studied every aspect of filmmaking. I know the equipment and how to use the equipment. I know how to work with actors. I know editing and I know the responsibilities of each crew position on set. All of this knowledge helps me tremendously in line producing and saves a lot of time on all stages of production.”

    Be prepared. If you take a look in the trunk of Volynska’s car you will find everything that could possibly be missed or forgotten on set. Her experience has helped her build a kit, so that no production will be stopped and no set will ever be missing the tools needed to keep working.

    And of course communications. “As a producer you have to know how to deal with every personality to make it work. You need to know how to make your crew a team.”

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    “In another life I probably would be a car racer,” said Volynska with a smile on her face. “But in this one I am the producer and I love every moment of producing, every single problem, every hour I didn’t sleep — everything!”

    Mariietta Volynska goes far and beyond with her passion of being a line producer. As a true problem solver she recently launched a new locations website, which certainly looks to be an asset for many people in the industry. All locations have special rates for students and independent filmmakers.

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    NYFA would like to thank Mariietta Volynska for sharing her experience and wish her luck with the launch of her new website. We hope to see more of her movies on screen very soon.

    January 19, 2017 • Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2337

  • NYFA Producing Department Students Tour NBC Studios At 30 Rock

    A group of One Year Producing students recently toured the NBC studios at legendary 30 Rockefeller Plaza led by NBC and MSNBC on air talent and editorial consultant Col. Jack Jacobs. Colonel Jacobs is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program, and is one of our nation’s most decorated military servicemembers—including being a recipient of the Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest military award.

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    photo by Marc Frattini

    NYFA producers and Department Chair Neal Weisman got a behind the scenes look at the various newsroom and studio sets for such iconic television shows as the “Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Morning Joe,” “AM Joy,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and a glimpse of the famed “Saturday Night Live” studios. Already familiar with multi-camera studio broadcast techniques from their television production classes at NYFA’s New York City Battery Park campus, students got up front and personal with the state-of-the-art professional control rooms, switchers, robotic cameras, and other equipment that bring NBC shows into the nation’s living rooms every day.

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    photo by Marc Frattini

    Mr. Weisman stated, “in keeping with the Producing Department’s philosophy of emphasizing practical and pragmatic knowledge, skills, and tools — nothing beats observing world class professionals at work. This has been an invaluable experience for our producers as they get ready to enter the Industry.”

    January 18, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 925

  • NYFA Alumni’s “Suka” Featured on Youtube’s Russian Cinema Week

    From November 28 through December 4 YouTube hosted “Russian Cinema Week.” During that period more than 200 Russian films were available in to watch in full. To launch that project Google has partnered with multiple production companies and distributors.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, the list of featured movies included the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning film “Leviathan,” Timur Bekmambetov-produced, New Year’s themed franchise “Yolki” (Christmas Trees) and one of Russia’s all-time box-office champions a Nikolai Lebedev’s hockey biopic “Legenda Nomer 17” (Legend No. 17).

    NYFA is pleased to announce that the short film, “Suka” — created and produced by New York Film Academy alumni, producer Maria Rogotskaya and director Cyril Zima — was chosen to be a part of the short selection of the site. It is now the film with the most views!

    “Suka” previously won Best Foreign Film Award at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival and was renowned at many others film festivals including San Jose, BUSHO, and Sapporo Short Fest.

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    producer Maria Rogotskaya and director Cyril Zima

    Rogotskaya and Zima are currently working on a feature noir / Sci-Fi thriller called “Charon,” which takes place in present-day Los Angeles. As a former crime journalist, Zima uses his huge investigating experience to work on the story development. Without giving away any spoilers, the film is a very deep physiological drama.

    “When Maria and I came to NYFA to obtain our Master’s Degree, we already had a solid background in the field, but we had no experience working in Hollywood. NYFA was a good transition; we obtained a lot of practical experience and met a lot of collaborators who we continue to work with after graduation,” said Zima.

    December 22, 2016 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1629

  • NYFA Welcomes Writer & Director of Award-Winning “Shadow Boxing”

    On Monday, December 12th, Ryan Taylor Lopez gave a Q & A at the Los Angeles Campus of New York Film Academy. Lopez is the writer and director of the award-winning “Shadow Boxing.” The film was based off lead actress Sam Wiechec’s personal life experiences. She was determined to make a film about a specific person.

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    “I met Sam through a mutual friend and she was very adamant about wanting to make a movie about a particular subject. It took a lot of effort and it took quite a while, but she trusted me enough to open up about her personal experiences.” There was no story. The creators went over life events and pieced together a story from there.

    Lopez took all of that information, retired to his room, and began outlining the film. He immediately likes the results and set out to put it down on paper.

    Lydia Cedrone, who hosted the evening’s events and was pitched the original script in class, asked Lopez about, “Writing the perfect scene and then changing it into the perfect scene you can shoot.”

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    “I didn’t know how much money I had and I didn’t know how much money I had to raise,” said Lopez. “I went into the process knowing everything in the movie had to be something I could pull off on a reasonable budget. Even things that don’t seem that unreasonable.”

    Originally, Anne, the lead character, was scripted to drive away in a bus in the final scene. But, Lopez quickly realized he could not afford a bus. So, if he wanted to get the film he had to work within his budget.

    Fundraising began around the fifth or sixth draft of the film. Most of the expensive ideas had been removed from the script, so it was time to budget the film. The initial budget was $75,000. They raised $55,000 by the first shoot date. There was a three-week period when there wasn’t enough money for post. Lopez began editing the film by himself.

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    One student asked Lopez where he got his inspiration. Several low budget pictures were screened in preparation for this film, but it was “The Snowtown Murders” that had the largest impact. The film’s creators only used soft natural light. This allowed for lower costs on lighting, faster setups, and less preparation.

    The two lead actors, Wiechec and Steve Luna soon joined Lopez on stage to give their takes. Wiechec was asked how she felt when she handed control of her story to Lopez. “You know it’s the definition of a passion project and it took two years to create. It was good.” Lopez chimed in, “If we’re being honest me and Sam did butt heads. Everybody wants success for the project but everyone has a different opinion on how to get there.” Despite difficult conversations, they were both happy with how the project turned out.

    Luna spoke about the love that flowed on set between the cast and crew. Because this was a low budget film there were not trailers to escape to. So everyone hung out together between camera set ups. This closeness helped Luna get into character. “As an actor, you’re supposed to fall in love with your co-star. Whether you’re a lover or, like this instance, a father, you have to fall in love. I just love, (her) Wiechec.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Lopez, Luna, and Wiechec for taking the time to speak with our students. “Shadow Boxing” is making its way around the festival circuit now.

    December 15, 2016 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1718