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  • Documentarian Amy Rice Presents “By The People” to New York Film Academy Students

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    This July, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments presented a screening of By the People: The Election of Barack Obama followed by a Q&A with director Amy Rice. The discussion was moderated by Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    The nearly two-hour film documents the years leading up to the election of Barack Obama. Rice gives viewers an inside look into Obama’s evolution from little-known Illinois Senator to symbol of change for a generation.

    Calling it one of her favorite documentaries, Rice was greatly influenced by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s The War Room, about Bill Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992. By the People premiered in August of 2009 on HBO, and last week’s screening gave younger students a look at how the 2008 election differed from recent elections.

    Rice began her career as a cinematographer, working with her eventual co-director on By the People, Alicia Sams. The documentarian talked about the appeal of this type filmmaking, saying, “There was something very organic about documentary. Just pick up your camera and go shoot and follow the story as it’s unfolding in front of you.” 

    "By the People" director Amy Rice

    By the People director Amy Rice.

    After her other brother told her about Obama before he was well-known, Rice watched his speeches and read his book, Dreams from My Father. “I was just naturally obsessed with his story,” she says.

    Her and her team used a trip to Africa during a congressional delegation trip as a testing ground. From there, the film follows the lead-up to the 2008 election and Obama’s transition from presidential long shot to favorite. Rice discussed the difficulties that began to arise as the presidential candidate’s popularity increased. For instance, at one point the film crew was unable to use a boom mic due to secret service safety concerns. Rice pointed out another instance deep into the campaign where security tried to stop her from filming: “I looked so horrified that he was trying to stop me from getting my final shot.” 

    The filmmaker also dropped some words of wisdom on the students throughout the course of the discussion. One thing she stressed was to “always say ‘yes’ to all film opportunities.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Amy Rice for her time and the illuminating discussion with the Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments.

    Watch the trailer below and/or purchase the film here.

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  • NYFA Alumni (& Brothers) Maan & Talha Bin Abdulrahman Are Saudi Film Trailblazers

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    Five of the nine films premiered by Saudi Arabia at Cannes this year featured the work of NYFA students and alumni, including brothers and fellow BFA Filmmaking graduates Maan Bin Abdulrahman, producer, and Talha Bin Abdulrahman, director. Together, the brothers founded Prince of Arabia Entertainment, and have helmed an impressive series of award-winning projects.


    Talha’s NYFA thesis film, The Scapegoat, screened at the 14th Dubai International Film Festival as well as the second annual Young Saudi Film Festival, Irvine International Film Festival, Orlando Film Festival, San Antonio Film Festival, and Chandler Film Festival.

    At Cannes, the brothers presented Film School Musical, which they co-directed. Winning over critics and audiences alike, the musical short won the Best Shorts Competition at the Hollywood Comedy Shorts Film Festival as well as the Jury Prize for Best Musical and Best Cinematography, garnering numerous festival award nominations along the way.

    Additional film credits include Under the Concrete (Winner: Qomrah 2), Served Cold (ShortsTV, Winner: 2014 Student Filmmaker Awards Film Festival), and Not This Way (Winner – Golden palm in Dammam Film festival).

    We’re exciting to see the next steps these brothers take in both the Saudi and international film industry.

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  • Q&A with Filmmaker Ned Dougherty

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    It’s often said that family members should never work together. This certainly is not the case for Ned and Michael Dougherty, a father and son filmmaking duo who’ve been successfully working on films together for the past few years. They have just recently finished a feature film titled Love & Everything in Between. “I can’t stress this enough,” Michael shared, “it’s all because of my parents that this is even on screen. That’s the truth.”

    The New York Film Academy invited Ned and Michael Dougherty to do a special Q&A with students following a screening of their film, where they shared with the audience how the movie came to be, from the writing process to the marketing of the film. The film has already earned several awards and nominations from the festival circuit, including wins for Dramatic Original Feature and Best Feature Film – Romance from WorldFest Houston.

    One student asked what it was like to screen the movie in the Hamptons, where the movie is set. “It was a great turn out,” Michael answered.

    His father Ned added, “That was our quiet, low-key premiere at the Southampton United Artists Theatre last July, to a standing room of more than 300 friends.” Another student, Roberto, approached the microphone, and Ned immediately recognized him — they both attended a producing workshop together a couple years back, and Roberto had helped to create the thesis for Love And Everything in Between.

    Michael & Ned Dougherty

    Michael & Ned Dougherty

    Robert shared, “We were classmates… as a matter of fact, we actually shot a short film, a thesis for this movie… it was actually the dinner scene…. it was so fun.” Roberto continued, “I don’t really have a question, I just want to say congratulations because I know… I was kind of a witness to how much work you put into this project. And I think that it’s a big motivation for me, because I can see closely how dreams actually become true.” According to Ned,  that statement made his night.

    Prior to the screening, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had an opportunity to ask Ned Dougherty a number of questions pertaining to Love and Everything in Between (LEIB), concerning the struggles he and his son faced, his experience as a producer, and any insight he could give to aspiring filmmakers:

     

    NYFA: How did you get involved with this film?

    Ned Dougherty: Following [his] high school graduation, my son Michael Dougherty studied acting for two years at Stella Adler in New York City and then came to Los Angeles in late 2012 to pursue an acting career. After several years of “pounding the pavements” in L.A., Michael decided to promote his career by creating his own projects through his own production company, Hampton Filmworks.” Michael’s first project is Love & Everything in Between, written primarily in 2015.

    Here is the key: Michael’s mother Ginnie and I both fully supported Michael’s decision to pursue his dream, including our financial support. We are both co-producers with Michael and I have been actively involved as a full-time creative filmmaker and business-end producer. Initially, we hired a line producer in January 2016 who prepared a $250k budget. In February 2016, I completed the NYFA Los Angeles Producing Program. The principal cinematography was completed over six weeks in Fall 2016 with pick-up scenes filmed in May 2017.

    NYFA: Why are you passionate about this film’s success?

    ND: When Michael initially wrote the screenplay in 2015 without ever attending a screenwriting course, I read it and said: “Son, you have written The Graduate for the Millennial Generation.” Michael had never heard of or seen The Graduate (1967) at that time. Both films feature a recent college graduate trying to find himself, complimented by a beautiful music score, but the similarities end there. Michael was passionate about writing Love & Everything in Between and his passion for the story, as well as the location settings, is evident in his storytelling.

    Michael grew up in the Hamptons and I taught him to swim and surf at the same beach which is the opening scene location. Michael created a “Romeo & Juliet” in the Hamptons story and his knowledge of the Hamptons provided him with the beautiful Hampton scenery as well as the inspiration for a compelling Romance/Drama which morphs into a Romance/Thriller.

    NYFA: What has been the hardest part of completing this film?

    ND: We are currently marketing the film, attending film festivals, seeking distribution opportunities, etc., to successfully monetize the project. Finding a successful route to making the film financially viable seems to be the greatest hurdle for first-time filmmakers.

    Michael & Ned Dougherty

    Michael & Ned Dougherty


    NYFA: When did you first know you were in love with cinema?

    ND: In my youth, I read classic American novels (by Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John O’Hara, and James Michener) and developed an appreciation for great storytelling that morphed into my interest in great films. Among my favorites: Casablanca, It’s A Wonderful Life, To Kill A Mockingbird, Dr. Strangelove, Rocky, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Forrest Gump, and ironically The Graduate.

    NYFA: Why are you passionate about producing?

    ND: I prefer to introduce myself these days as a “filmmaker,” rather than as a “producer.” I am more passionate about the creative side (filmmaking) as opposed to the business side (producing). Michael has allowed me to creatively participate in his project, and I have really cherished that opportunity to work alongside my son from creation to distribution. I have been primarily a businessman for most of my life, so I had that experience to offer Michael, but both Michael and I have had to learn the business by trial and error.

    NYFA: What advice do you have for young producers?

    ND: As trite as it sounds, follow your dream! If you are not “passionate” about your project, take a pass! Optimally, strive to balance your energies between your dual responsibilities as a creative filmmaker and as a business-oriented producer. While Michael was pursuing his acting career, I encouraged him to take college business courses to develop a business sense and an understanding of basic business principles.

    NYFA: Why should people see Love & Everything in Between?

    First of all: Location! Location! Location! The Hamptons has a global appeal to moviegoers and LEIB is a cinematic treat for the eyes with spectacular drone shots and scenery of the Hamptons and Montauk that — and I say this with all humility — has never been achieved before in previous Hamptons’ films. At our World Premiere, the Culver City Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, the judges agreed; we garnered the “Best Cinematography” award (Thank you Red Dragon!)

    While your eyes are being dazzled by the scenery, story, and character development, the romance/drama unfolds unexpectedly into a romance/thriller that never stops moving while accompanied by an outstanding musical score that appeals to all generations.

    Secondly, LEIB is a socially relevant story. In writing LEIB, Michael never intended to create a controversial film, but so it is — much to our surprise. The controversial aspect of the film, which deals with sexual assault, became obvious in test screenings that we held at several Hampton libraries. At these events, college students wanted to know if they could bring LEIB to their campuses as a teaching or learning tool for students. As a result, we have developed a program to provide public service screenings for colleges and universities, particularly during “April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” utilizing TUGG.com and TUGG.edu.

    There is one word that continuously surfaces from viewers: “Amazing!” A sure sign that LEIB made a significant effect on viewers was the consistent feedback from many viewers that the story and the music stayed with them days later. I often heard “I can’t get the music (or the story) out of my head!”

    As a matter of fact, LEIB was selected and screened at the Socially Relevant Film Festival NYC in March 2018. In February 2018, LEIB received The Grand Prize – Best Feature Film at the Silicon Beach Miami Film Festival and has already been nominated as a finalist for a REMI Award as Best Feature Film at Houston Worldfest in April 2018.

    NYFA: What projects are you working on next?

    ND: We have a number of projects and several episodic series in various stages of development to be filmed primarily in the Hamptons and Los Angeles. Michael’s personal next feature film preference is The Butterfly & the Butcher, a colorful character crime drama to be filmed primarily in the Los Angeles Artist and Warehouse Districts. Followed by a paranormal love story to be shot on location on Shelter Island, New York. The Marakesh Story is my personal true story of my experiences as a nightclub owner (played by Michael) in the Hamptons and Palm Beach during the champagne/cocaine-fueled disco era of the 1970s-80s,  with additional shooting locations in New York City, Washington D.C., the Cayman Islands, Central America, and other locations.  TV episodic series include South Beach Spirit and an untitled Hamptons project Michael is developing. However, film financing and future producer/partner relationships may determine the scheduling of our next projects.

    NYFA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I could not have effectively assisted my son as a producer without the NYFA Producing Program and have great respect for the professionalism of the administration, staff, and faculty at NYFA L.A. I view this opportunity to screen LEIB at NYFA as a way of “giving back” by sharing more details of what it is like to be a first-time filmmaker. I am developing a “Dos & Dont’s” list for the Q&A Session on June 7, 2018, following the NYFA L.A. screening of LEIB.

     

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ned and Michael Dougherty for graciously attending this Q&A and sharing their story with our students. They are a true example of teamwork and great minds coming together to collaborate on a project for which they hold a great deal of passion. We look forward to continuing to follow their journey and watching the rise of their success that undoubtedly awaits them in the future! 

    If you are interested in attending a NYFA program, you can find more information here

    Michael & Ned Dougherty

    Michael & Ned Dougherty

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    July 11, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 499

  • Insomnia on STARZ Executive Produced by New York Film Academy Alum Slava N. Jakovleff

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    Many artists dream of creating something entirely original, but to realize that dream on prime-time television is extra special. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Filmmaking grad Slava N. Jakovleff has done just that, distributing not one but two of his original series to major networks; Siberia, to NBC, and Insomnia, now seen worldwide on STARZ.

    Here, Slava shares some of the amazing story behind producing his hit series with the NYFA Blog.

    *Please note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    INSOMNIA | TV SERIES | TRAILER 1 [HD] | STARZ from Slava Jakovleff on Vimeo.

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

    Slava: I wanted to be an actor — this is my passion. I graduated as an actor after four years at one of the best and most famous Russian acting schools in Saint Petersburg, and then got a PhD as an acting and voice teacher. I always thought about directing and producing. I figured out that the knowledge of acting and directing was not enough to make my dream happen. I needed to study filmmaking. And where is the best place to do it? Of course in Los Angeles, the global center of the film industry.

    I checked online resources and found that New York Film Academy had Filmmaking courses at Universal Studios. So, I joined the school at 36. Yes! At 36. It’s never too late to learn.

    NYFA: You wear many hats, as an actor, director, and producer. What inspires you about these various roles, and how does changing between them inform your work?

    Slava: It’s great that now I know something more about acting, directing, and producing. I know how to play, how to be an actor on the set or on the stage. For me, acting is an absolutely phenomenal state of mind. To me, it’s not a job! It’s a state of mind, of soul. Acting is a study of the human soul. This is the first and inner circle.

    Acting really helps me to direct. I’m more an actor’s director than just a director; I love actors and love to work with them. Directing makes it possible to not only deliver the story and actors’ emotions to the audience, but also to make the audience think, laugh, or cry — in short, feel something — while watching a screen or a stage. This is the second circle, a bit wider.

    Producing is the third, wide circle, and gives me the opportunity to care for the first two circles and bring all of these three circles to the audience.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    Slava: I loved how the learning process was organized at the Academy. I got so much professional information in such a short time.

    NYFA: Before establishing yourself in Hollywood, you worked as an actor in Russia. How did you navigate that transition from one industry to another, including acting in another language?

    Slava: Yes, I was a pretty established actor at that time in Russia. When I moved to LA for business reasons, only one thing was important to me: I wanted to establish myself in Hollywood as a producer and director. … But regarding acting as a whole, if you are a professional, educated actor, it doesn’t matter in which language you act. It’s only about the professionalism.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your company, Welldone Production?

    Slava: I founded Welldone Production as my own company in 2004, during my time at NYFA, as a filmmaking company.

    The first project I did in LA was a stage play called The Last Night of The Last Tsar, a mysterious story about the last night of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II Romanov and his family — and what happened with the lead executioner, Yurovsky, exactly 20 years after the execution. We played 6 weeks at the Stella Adler Theater in 2005. It was a successful run, and I told myself, “Let’s start to write the script for my own feature film.” We are now in pre-production. I rewrote the script many times since the start, researching historical information and studying archives. And now I am completely happy with the script I have, titled Swampy Roads. It seems like a very long journey just for one project, but I am completely satisfied and proud of that.

    At the same time, my company and I did many projects in Russia and the U.S. One of them was my first TV project here in Hollywood, Siberia (2013), where I was an executive producer and director of some episodes. Siberia was completely independently financed, and afterward the show was bought by NBC for prime-time airing. It was the first time that a Russian producer sold his own independent TV show to NBC. I am very proud of that.

    Siberia TV Series_NBC_ Official Trailer from Slava Jakovleff on Vimeo.

    NYFA: As executive producer and director for STARZ series Insomnia, what inspired you to take on this project? 

    Slava: Insomnia was also a completely independently financed TV series, and when the show was completely ready it was picked up by STARZ.

    My Russian friend, a producer, showed me a story on which he was working at that time. I loved the concept, because I thought this could work for any audience around the globe. I bought the license from him to make an English version, and invited an American-Canadian writing team to rework the story. At the end we got a deep, very edgy psychological thriller, an action story with sci-fi elements.

    I knew that not everyone would like this story, and some networks and streaming platforms would be afraid to put it on the air, saying that the story is too extreme for them. My team and I tried to show the truth that human life costs nothing in modern life. My entire team, cast, and crew members — including one of the best directors of cinematography, Primetime Emmy winner John S. Bartley (LOST, X-Files, Bites Motel), and one of the best casting directors, Primetime Emmy winner Stephanie Gorin (Fargo) — tried to make it happen. I understood that many of us would not like to hear the truth. I really do not like it either, but I needed to say this about it to sort it out myself. I needed to say it without any “politeness” and “polishing.” I wanted to make the viewer think and draw conclusions.

    After the show was done, STARZ picked up the series for worldwide distribution. I am very proud of that.

    NYFA: Were there any challenges along the way in bringing Insomnia to Starz?

    Slava: Bringing any projects to any network or distributor is a big challenge for every team, and this project was no exception.

    The story of Insomnia was set for filming in Washington D.C., but when I was scouting locations there I realized it was impossible. I took a week-long break and announced to my team that the show would be filmed in Moscow, Russia, and the first day of filming should be June 1. This was a real challenge: the team was booked for principal filming starting on April 15 in D.C.

    We had only six weeks for making changes in the script, finding a local Russian production company, organizing to bring the entire American-Canadian team to Moscow, rescheduling the production, new location scouting, language problems (as we had two teams), etc. But we went through all these incredible difficulties (just imagine the problem with visas or understanding between two different languages and mentalities on set) and began to shoot exactly as planned, on June 1.

    Then we figured out that Insomnia is not just the title of this series, but actually what became a way of life for the cast and crew! Filming for all eight episodes took place over 68 working days, 2/3 of which were night shoots. We needed to shoot everything by the end of August, as the story takes place during four consecutive summer days. Management of the production was critical, as filming night scenes during the summer in Moscow was challenging — some nights only had around 2-3 hours of darkness, and the weather is unstable: the sun, clouds, and storms.

    The entire show was filmed in Moscow, with scenes set in New York and Cambodia being filmed on sets. We were able to film in unique locations, such as Red Square and near the Kremlin, Bolshoi Theatre, the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the Four Seasons, and the Ritz Carlton Presidential Suite with its authentic view of the Kremlin and Bolshoi Theatre — no other foreign production companies have been allowed to film in this location before. By the way, Insomnia’s production company, Welldone Production, is the only foreign production company in the last 20 years to be able to film in the highly secure Red Square.

    All explosions, car crashes, gunshots, and underwater scenes were filmed without CGI, and all action scenes were filmed by the main unit team (we didn’t have second unit).

    Then, we spent months editing the series here in Los Angeles in one of the best post-production facilities in town: Burnish Creative. They’re such a talented, professional, and passionate young team. When the show was picked by STARZ, we entered the delivery process and had to go through quality control. It was such a great challenge and big experience.

    The series employed 720 people from nine countries and filmed around 750 total scenes. And I want to again say thank you to my entire team and the people who worked for Insomnia.

    NYFA: What is your best advice for NYFA students who are interested in following your footsteps and founding their own production companies, in Hollywood or elsewhere?

    Slava: In short I can say: break the rules (which is very tough sometimes), and never give up.

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

    Slava: No doubt!

    NYFA: Anything I missed that you would like to speak on?

    Slava: Many years ago, when we were young, my army friend, on the day when we finished our service in the tank troops, gave me a simple drawing of our tank with the inscription, “Follow your star!” Here I am, still following.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Slava N. Jakovleff for his generous interview.

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  • Christina Beck Brings Perfection to New York Film Academy Los Angeles Guest Speaker Series

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    In February, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles welcomed writer, director, and actor Christina Beck as a Guest Speaker to the Q&A stage, following a screening of her award-winning film Perfection.

    The film, which tells the story of a young woman who struggles with self-harm, and her relationship with her mother, was screened in honor of Self-Injury Awareness Day, a global event dedicated to removing the stigma surrounding self-harm, and spreading awareness so that those who suffer do not have to suffer in silence.

    Beck began by discussing the script’s origins, which, unsurprisingly, initially sprang from her own experiences. “I wasn’t a cutter, but in my 20s I used to pick at my skin a lot, and I had a lot of self hatred,” she shared. “I grew up in LA, I had a very beautiful mother, and there was a lot of emphasis on exterior beauty and trying to be perfect. And trying to fit in and finding my way as a young woman, I felt like I wasn’t enough … so I started writing that character, and then later it morphed into a bigger story.”

    NYFA Los Angeles Producing Department Co-Chair Roberta Colangelo, who moderated the event, followed up with a question about what the medium of film can do, or what kind of opportunities it can bring to the subject of self harm.

    “I think even if you’re not someone who cuts yourself you can relate, hopefully, to the feelings,” said Beck. “For me, I always think that filmmaking is such a powerful medium, that we can observe behavior, follow a story, hopefully, and connect with a protagonist, and go on that journey.”

    Beck went on to talk about the process of making the film, which took two and a half years — and in true micro-budget fashion, the journey was full of ups and downs. They started out with no financing, cast the film out of Beck’s living room, and on one occasion, had only a half-hour at a location to film an entire scene.

    “So that’s a little stressful, for sure,” Beck admitted. “And there were quite a few moments like that, honestly … but you just kind of have to make it work, because the bigger picture is more important than the stress of the moment.”

    The bigger picture, in the case of Perfection, is an opportunity to positively impact the people sitting in the audience.

    “It leaves you with a strange sense of empowerment,” Colangelo noted. “Not by showing a very powerful female figure that has heroically overcome everything, but someone that is working her way [through it]. It’s a very powerful message.”

    Perfection is by no means a comprehensive guide to healing, but it was never intended to be. As Beck stated, the intention behind the film was, if nothing else, to be truthful.

    “In 85 minutes, it’s really hard to wrap up someone’s whole recovery,” said Beck. “It just wouldn’t be truthful. And so we kind of modified that journey to leave with a sense of hope.”

    Perfection is now available to watch on Amazon Prime.

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  • Producer Howard Rosenman Delivers Lively Q&A to New York Film Academy Students

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) New York recently had the honor of hosting legendary producer Howard Rosenman for a Q&A. NYFA Chair of Producing Neal Weisman moderated the evening.

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman & Producer Howard Rosenman

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman & Producer Howard Rosenman

    New York Film Academy’s Producing and Screenwriting departments teamed up to bring in the acclaimed film producer on May 16th. The longtime Hollywood mainstay is known for  “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Father of the Bride,” “Family Man,” and the recent Academy Award-winning “Call Me By Your Name.”

    NYC Producing Chair Neal Weisman led a back-and-forth discussion which took place in the 1st Floor Theatre on New York’s campus. A longtime Hollywood icon, this was actually a homecoming of sorts for the Brownsville, Brooklyn-born, Far Rockaway, Queens-raised Rosenman. He attended Brooklyn College in Flatbush in 1965. For decades since, he has been a staple on the Hollywood scene.

    The LGBTQI icon discussed the difficulties of being gay in Hollywood and how he has championed gay characters and themes in film throughout his lengthy career. Discussing how he landed his first acting gig on the Oscar-winning “Milk,” Rosenman joked, “Gus [Van Sandt] said to Francine Maisler, the casting director, ‘get me someone that looks like Howard Rosenman, that talks like Howard Rosenman, that acts like Howard Rosenman, and has Howard Rosenman’s vibe.’ And she said, ‘let’s get Howard Rosenman!'”

    Producer Howard Rosenman at NYFA

    Producer Howard Rosenman at NYFA

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Howard Rosenman for sharing his extensive knowledge with students.

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    June 23, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 311

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes Producer Ted Field as Guest Speaker

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles recently had the honor of hosting prolific producer Ted Field for a Q&A, following a screening of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Currently the chairman and owner of Radar Pictures, Field has seen success in both film and music. In 1984, he founded Interscope Films, which produced hits like Cocktail, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Mr. Holland’s Opus, and more. He also founded Interscope Records, an independent record label that signed emerging artists such as Dr. Dre. Eminem, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and others. Through his current company, Field has released hits like The Last Samurai, Spring Breakers, the Riddick franchise, and The Amityville Horror.

    Field’s first film was Revenge of the Nerds, and he and Laiter fondly reminisced about the movie. Field shared some of his struggles making the film, “…[it] still took me two years to get that film made. And I almost gave up. I was like, ‘This business is just too hard’ and I nearly quit, and all of a sudden … [Fox] greenlit the film.”

    Field also talked about his previous career as a race car driver: “If you’re thinking at 240 miles an hour about characters in your movie, it’s time to switch careers.”

    Laiter asked about the difficult things a producer has to do, including getting the rights to thought-after source material. Field dove into the topic, saying, “This business is ultimately about persuasion … you have to find a way to get to that author, tell that author how passionate you are, and how you would make it, and how you would protect his vision. Break down doors. Don’t take no for an answer … You know, the word you’ll hear most in the movie business, or the television business, is no. That’s the word. And it should not matter. By the way, you don’t get any credit for having made a lot of movies. We’ve made a lot of movies, but each one is a new series of no’s before we get a yes.”

    One student asked, “How does the development process work?” Field said that the development process is different on every film, and the one thing that almost all films have in common is they’re collaborative.

    “And, to me,” he added, “A producers not really a producer if he isn’t working on development — if he isn’t reading every draft, making comments on every draft … in the end, your responsibility as a producer is to make the best film possible.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ted Field for taking the time to speak to our students and share his wisdom from his many years in the industry.

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    June 20, 2018 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 698

  • The New York Film Academy Welcomes Echo Lake Entertainment Talent Manager Iris Grossman

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting esteemed talent manager Iris Grossman. Grossman works at Echo Lake Entertainment, a management and production company that represents veterans such as Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone as well as young artists such as Dakota and Elle Fanning. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Laiter began by asking Grossman about her start in the industry, and Iris described working early on at ICM as an assistant to agent Daniel Petrie Jr., who soon departed the company to write Beverly Hills Cop. Following that, she worked for agent Michael Black, who nurtured her and helped launch her career as an agent, where she developed her love of working with actors. 

    Years later, she took the job of senior vice president of talent and casting at Turner Network Television (TNT), where she had the joy of casting of stars such as Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Diane Keaton, at a time when actors did not do cable in the same way as today. She also discovered emerging talent: “I had the most incredible job. Every day I would get calls asking if I would like to meet with actors like Clive Owen, or Jude Law, who were unknowns at the time. It was pretty incredible.”

    Laiter followed up by asking Grossman about transitioning from being an agent into casting, and she responded, “I called casting ‘being an agent with a larger client list.’” When she would read a script at the agency, she would have to think about who at the agency would be right for the part, but in casting, she now had the world opened up to her.

    When asked about what it takes to have a keen eye for talent, Grossman answered that part of it is learned, and part of it is instinctual.

    “When you watch a movie, and you believe what you see, you know the person is talented,” she said.

    In regards to the teaching element, she remarked that you have to know about the history of the industry, and understand what made certain people stars, and then translate that into the moment.

    Her advice for actors upon graduation was to stay proactive, do theater, and create their own web content. “While I don’t cast people just based on their Instagram followers but their talent, if you have a video with a million views, people will start knocking on your door.”

    A student asked Grossman about what changes she saw with women in the industry, behind the camera, from the start of her career to now. Iris responded, “There are things that have changed, and things that haven’t changed.” She went on to say how women have always been producers in the industry, but how there aren’t enough women directors. She also noted that in television some of the top writers and showrunners now are women. “When I started out there were maybe five women agents. Now I see there are so many women agents and executives and managers. I think it’s changed, but it still has far to come.”

    When asked about what happens in her first meeting with an actor, she said she wanted to learn about them as people: “I already know they are talented from their reel.” She wants to make sure they get along, because it’s all about the relationship and making sure they have the same goals.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Grossman for taking the time to speak to our students and share her wealth of knowledge and experience.

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    May 1, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 426

  • New York Film Academy Hosts Producing Pitchfest For MFA and BFA Students

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    The recent graduates of New York Film Academy’s MFA and BFA Producing programs got to share their final projects with high-powered industry professionals at this year’s Producing Pitchfest.

    A herculean effort went into completing these producing projects. NYFA is known for having classes that are fast-paced and hands-on. Students enter as aspiring creatives and leave with the ability to walk onto a set and make a film. From the producing side, students create a show bible, design a budget, and learn multiple ways to pitch their script to executives, studios, and potential investors.    

    The “story pitch” is as much a part of Hollywood movie making as is the script itself. At the Producing Pitchfest, students were given the opportunity to pitch their projects to professional producers, directors, writers and executives. Getting an opportunity to pitch a projects to professionals is incredibly important. Not only did students get the chance to get constructive feedback from the guests, they also had the chance to land a deal!

    Student Reginald E. Luck credited NYFA with his ability to look and sound professional in the presence of such incredible talent. “NYFA taught and prepared me by grilling me during thesis committee meetings. They really made me focus on why I was telling this story,” he began. “When my instructors said, ‘Relax, you got this,’ I found they were right. I had made pitching harder in my mind than it turned out to be in reality.”

    Luck said his favorite part of the event was meeting and interacting with the writers and producers who attended the festival. “It really made me feel important to have them all listen intently to my story,” Luck confessed. “I was given some tremendous pointers by each person I pitched too.”

    At the end of the event, many of the participating judges let our instructors know how impressed they were with the students and their work. The event was a huge success all the way around. Students walked away with encouragement, new ideas, and a lot of real-world contacts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank the following panelists for taking the time to hear our student’s pitches: writer and director Blake Harris, writer and director Doug Cooney, writer and director Brian Herskowitz, actor and producer John Morrissey, producer Patrick Peach, writer and producer David Rosenberg, writer and producer Arnold Rudnick, attorney and producer Marlon Schulman and filmmaker and festival director Kimberly Browning.

    Congratulations to all of our graduates. We look forward to all of the great stories you’ll tell.  

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    April 27, 2018 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 426

  • Indian Film Festival Los Angeles and New York Film Academy Renew their Partnership in 2018

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to be a promotional partner of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema. Screening from April 11-15 at Regal LA Live, this year’s lineup features award-winning new work from Indian filmmakers around the world, and NYFA alumni, students, faculty, and staff will be on hand to experience it from beginning to end.

    “I’ve been attending the Indian Film Festival since 2004, when I introduced and moderated a shorts program and Q&A,” said directing instructor Nick Sivakumaran. “The window it presents into the diversity and quality of Indian cinema never ceases to amaze me.”

    IFFLA 2018 Opening Night Film In The Shadows stars Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, and Neeraj Kabi, in a drama about surveillance and memory.

    IFFLA has graciously invited NYFA students to two programs of short films on April 13 and 14, and provided the NYFA student community a discount code for $2 off tickets.  

    Filmmaking Department Coordinator Prarthana Joshi noted that she had already watched several of the short films, and was excited to see the features — particularly Bornila Chatterjee’s The Hungry, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, that was screened at the Toronto Film Festival last September.  

    “Bornila Chatterjee is a young female filmmaker working outside of the traditional Bollywood system,” said Prarthana. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her film and learning more about how she is making her career happen.”

    Rima Das’s “Village Rocksters” features a powerful female-led narrative and will be the Closing Night film of IFFLA 2018. The screening will be preceded by an Awards Ceremony featuring a prestigious jury: Reza Aslan, Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, and Sundance breakout Aneesh Chaganty.

    Acting for film student Pauline Yang (Fall 2017 1 Year Acting for Film) will be volunteering for the Festival. “I really like being a part of film festivals because it brings a community together,” she said. “Everyone is always so excited to be a part of it, and the audience seems to always have a great time.”  

    In addition, NYFA alumni Rukmani Jones (Jan 2009 MFA Producing) and Ruchi Kishore (Sep 2012 MFA Filmmaking) both work for the Festival, with Rukmani serving as Filmmaker Liaison and Ruchi as Volunteer Manager.  

    “This is my fourth year being involved with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles,” said Ruchi, “And with every year my love and appreciation for the IFFLA community grows deeper.” 

    To see the full line-up of films, please visit www.indianfilmfestival.org.  The NYFA community can use the promotion code NYFA2018PP for a $2 discount off all tickets.

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