Ekaterina Terekhovich
Author archives

  • In Conversation with Matteo Borghese and Rob Turbovsky, ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Co-Executive Producers and Writers

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    On June 15, New York Film Academy welcomed Matteo Borghese and Rob Turbovsky, co-executive producers and writers of the Hulu hit series, Only Murders in the Building at the Los Angeles campus for a Q&A. 

    The evening, moderated by Creative Director Lynda Goodfriend, was filled with laughs and inspiring stories from the writing team. Borghese and Turbovsky, have a long list of credits including Silicon Valley, Lady Dynamite, Black Monday, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Detroiters. They have developed original pilots at Comedy Central, TBS, ABC, and Fox. In film, they have contributed to the scripts for Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse, Ghostbusters (2016), Office Christmas Party, The Peanuts Movie, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, among others. Borghese and Turbovsky have been writing partners for ten years and both received an MFA in screenwriting from USC. They are Emmy, Golden Globe, PGA and two-time WGA award nominees. 

    The Hollywood Reporter named them “Best Hollywood Punch Up Guys”— “Matteo Borghese and Rob Turbovsky are Hollywood’s go-to guys when Phil Lord and Chris Miller or Paul Feig need a script to be funnier.”

    Lynda Goodfriend, Matteo Borghese and Rob Turbovsky during the Q&A at NYFA LA Campus 

    Rob and Matteo talked about their own journey as writers. They explained that they originally met as students in the Masters for Screenwriting program while at USC.  Borghese quipped, “After graduation, the first step was to completely bottom out, to feel like you’re never going to accomplish anything, you’re going to have to move back to your parents’ house, and you sit with that for 6 months and then realize you have to do something. So, you call your best friend Rob.” Rob Turbovsky, who was interning for Judd Apatow at the time, then joined with Matteo to write a pilot script. The script got them an agent and their first writing job on the show, Silicon Valley. Thus, a writing team was born. 

    The duo, who is currently working on the 3rd season of Only Murders in the Building, shared their advice to the writers in attendance and spoke to the writer’s career in the television industry:

    Q: How did your writing classes as a student help you as a professional writer?

    A: They both felt the best lesson was that “you just have to do it.” “Even if it is terrible you have to finish it.”

    Q: How do you get an agent?

    A: You have to have material. It doesn’t really matter what kind of writing sample it is, don’t limit your interest. But you need a sample that is good! An agent can always come later, they are always looking for good writers. Once you have some good samples ask anyone you know who may be connected- an agent’s assistant, somebody in the mailroom, another writer, a friend on a show to pass it along.

    A still of Only Murders in the Building. Courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar

    Q: How do I know if a script is good?

    A: The most valuable thing is a first impression. Start with people you know but don’t put much stock in one person’s opinion. If you hear the same note several times, be willing to make the changes. Get a sense of what the script needs. Some notes are technical, such as “I can’t track what the characters are doing.” Pay attention to those. 

    Q: What is your process?

    A: The importance of the outline cannot be overstated. The outline is difficult but you have to have it first. Once the outline is together it helps to have the Big picture. We split it up and write sections. Inevitably we will need to write a new outline and work again from that.

    Q: Where do writers get their ideas?

    A: Some people see articles, some just write down a list of ideas. You don’t have to have a lot of information. Sometimes a producer has an idea they want to write. It can come from somebody else, but we have learned we can still bring our own essence to it and get passionate about it. 

    Q: Who decides who is in the Writer’s Room?

    A: It’s a decision made by a lot of people – the show runner, producers, network. On Only Murders [in the Building] they also have novelists and playwrights on the writing staff as well as writers who’ve written on other shows. It’s really about if your material would fit the show. 

    Q: How do you get invited to the Writers Room?

    A: When meeting to be hired for a show, a lot of the meetings are about finding out if you like the show, how much you like the show and do your ideas for the show demonstrate that you “get the show. Enthusiasm goes a long way! Even if you go in with ‘I’d be lucky to have this job,’ it really has to be ‘I’d die to work on this show.’ When we met on Only Murders [in the Building] we had read the pilot script and loved it- really loved it. And we loved Steve and Marty. Our work was also tonally very close to what they were looking for.

    Q; What’s a pitch session like?

    A: It’s a 15-minute explanation of the idea for the show. Networks want to know why it’s you- why are you the one writing this? 

    Q: What kind of work besides television can writers look for?

    A: There are other writing focused jobs-punching up voice over, writing for reality shows, commercials, and public service announcements. Writing is writing. You still have to craft something and it’s good practice.

    Rob Turbovsky and Matteo Borghese ended the evening with some final words of advice to our students: 

    “Keep writing. When you’re on a show you don’t know if you‘re coming back for another season so you need to keep writing your own stuff rather than waiting for a staffing job…You can’t wait for inspiration. You just have to go to work and write.”

    Turbovsky said, “I don’t think the insecurity ever goes away. It’s important to know that writing is hard for everyone. Everyone makes bad work but you keep writing. Because you will write good work too.”  Borghese added, “When I see an audience laugh at something I wrote it’s really wonderful. The feeling that something you write is enjoyed by an audience powers you through.”

    The audience enjoyed the writing team of Borghese and Turbovsky and left with some excellent words of wisdom to help them on their own journeys. 

    Only Murder in the Building is streaming on Hulu!

    Watch the full Q&A below:

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  • A Conversation with 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory Alum & Director Florian Gunzenhauser

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Filmmaking alum Florian Gunzenhauser is a filmmaker and assistant director from Switzerland. His directing, writing, and filmmaking credits include the television shows Voice of Switzerland, The Bachelor (Switzerland), and The Bachelorette (Switzerland).

    Gunzenhauser’s thesis short film Glasgow, as part of his conservatory program with NYFA, won ‘Best Drama Short’ at the 2022 Coney Island Film Festival. The film follows the story of a young delivery man named Kyrie who befriends an older widower named George. Following their unusual friendship, the two men rethink how they approach their own lives. 

    The director Gunzenhauser is currently in pre-production as a first assistant director for the upcoming feature film Silver Star, starring Sydney Sweeney and Shameik Moore.

    Gunzenhauser spoke with NYFA about his filmmaking journey, career trajectory, and upcoming projects. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What brought you to New York Film Academy to pursue filmmaking?

    Florian Gunzenhauser (FG): I’m 31 years old and from Switzerland. I was working as a television director for roughly five years and directed shows like Voice of Switzerland, The Bachelor (Switzerland), and The Bachelorette (Switzerland). I came to NYFA because I wanted to see whether the film world was something for me after the extensive work I did in television.

    NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory alum Florian Gaunzenhauser

    NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory alum Florian Gaunzenhauser

    NYFA: What was your experience directing The Bachelor (Switzerland) and The Bachelorette (Switzerland)?

    FG: Directing television shows is fascinating, even though I’ve done it a few times now. I had the chance to travel to places like South Africa and Thailand to see real people potentially fall in love. I was fortunate enough to work with very interesting characters over the years, so I always enjoyed going back to those productions.

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating from NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory Filmmaking program?

    FG: Since graduating, I’ve been working in commercials as a 1st assistant director for brands like BoohooMAN, LIDL, and JVN, and the TV pilot for Here She Comes. I’ve also been working on the television film From Paradise With Love.

    My thesis film Glasgow just won ‘Best Drama Short’ at the 2022 Coney Island Film Festival!

    NYFA: What is Glasgow about?

    FG: The short film follows a young delivery man, Kyrie’s, friendship with an older widower named George. Their unusual friendship helps both of them rethink their own lives and provide introspection. 

    NYFA: Tell us about your latest project and how you got involved? 

    FG: Right now, I am in pre-production as the 1st assistant director for the feature film Silver Star. I saw that they were looking for a 1st assistant director on a Facebook group and apparently had very good chats with the current directors and producers of the film. 

    I’m also directing two music videos for two successful musicians from New York in the upcoming weeks. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your short film and other projects?

    FG: At NYFA, I learned how filmmaking works, as silly as that may sound. Television and film are so different in many aspects, so everything that I know is because of NYFA.

    NYFA congratulates conservatory alum Florian Gunzenhauser for his great work, well-deserved successes, and the best of luck as Glasgow continues on the film festival circuit!

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  • NYFA Alum Nathan Hale: Cinema as a Vehicle for Advocacy

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    NYFA alum Nathan Hale is an award-winning filmmaker, best-selling author and entertainment attorney. Hale is a two-time NAACP Image Award® nominee, the recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Prestige Award for Excellence; and his film, Burden, about an educated Black man who, in spite of his success, still must confront the micro and macro aggressions that come with being a Black man in America face, won “Best Picture” at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF).

    Nathan Hale is also passionate about HIV/AIDS advocacy. He partnered with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Hale’s upcoming project Love Will Save the Day, zeros in on the subject in an effort to destigmatize and educate the black community on the virus. In the film, A guarded Chicago lawyer who’s given up on love discovers that her chance for true love might be found in the unlikeliest person – her political opponent. The two navigate their past issues while trying to build their own relationship. One of them is also HIV positive. 

    Hale’s reputation as a storyteller with an eye for nuance precedes him, and his sophomore film is expected to be as groundbreaking as his first, All Boys Aren’t Blue. The 40-minute film, based on the memoir of the same name by George Matthew Johnson, tackles issues of masculinity and queerness in relationship to Blackness. Each character represents Johnson at different stages of their life, chronicling their story of growing up and challenging gender identity norms, as well as learning to adapt to living with HIV/AIDS. The film won a GLAAD Media Award, two Telly Awards, including one for Nathan Hale’s ‘Outstanding Direction,’ an inaugural Anthem Award and Best Narrative Feature at the NewFest Film Festival.

     

     

    Before venturing into the world of entertainment and film, Hale was a lawyer with limited knowledge about the entertainment industry. But he was committed to learning, “I had to teach myself a lot of the craft and learn on the job…NYFA helped me in this process.”

    Despite already being a decorated filmmaker and author, Hale is committed to learning and expanding his repertoire. In 2020, he took Online Cinematography to learn the language of cameras and lights. Hale shared with NYFA, “I took the [Online Cinematography] Class to understand the fundamentals of cinematography and shot composition. So that I could be better educated when talking to my DP’s and camera people. [I also wanted] more knowledge of basic lighting techniques”.

    NYFA congratulates Nathan Hale for his commitment to his craft and for all of his success!

     

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  • A Two Front War: Blackness & Representation in ‘The Woman King’

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    A Two Front War: Blackness & Representation in ‘The Woman King’

     

    The film Black Panther (2018) laid to rest the myth that Black (especially dark-skinned) leads could not carry feature films to box-office victory. The film earned $1.348 billion at the box office and became revolutionary for its representation and portrayal of a Black superheros and Black excellence. But in 2015, before Black Panther broke box-office records, shattered prejudice conventions about the allure of all-black casts, and before the Black Lives Matter movement ignited the fire in a new fight for representation in Hollywood, Maria Bello pitched The Woman King to the indomitable Viola Davis. The historical action drama is the story of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s.

    Seven years later, The Woman King, starring Oscar, Emmy and two-time Tony Award-winning actress Viola Davis and New York Film Academy AFA Acting for Film alum Masali Baduza in the role of Fumbe, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to unanimous praise.

    The road to The Woman King was not an easy one. Early on in the search for funding, colorism (defined by Merriam-Webster as “prejudice or descrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin”) plagued the hunt for production, with studios wanting to cast “light-skinned, well-known actresses” as members of the Agojie army. To do so would have meant sacrificing the integrity and historical accuracy of the film. This film about warriors and women on the front-lines, was fighting a two-front war both on-screen and behind-the-scenes.

    Studios didn’t think the film would be successful at the box-office, initially offering only $5 million for the film’s production costs. By comparison, low-budget films are usually made for less than $5 million, while mid-budget films cost anywhere between $5 million – $50 million, with high-budget films costs ranging from $50 million to infinity. To paint a bigger picture, Black Panther’s budget was $200 million and Avengers: Endgame, $365 million. In the end, The Woman King received a budget of $50 million.



    A still from The Woman King. Courtesy of PopSugar
    Director Gina Prince-Bythewood is familiar with strong female leads and warrior-women. In 2000, she wrote and directed the classic Love and Basketball about Quincy and Monica, two childhood friends and basketball players with league aspirations who begin to fall in love. Love and athleticism are a familiar terrain for the director who herself was a basketball player and track star at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prince-Bythewood joined the cast of The Woman King as they trained for four months before shooting began. The Hollywood Reporter reported, “the training consisted of 90 minutes a day of weight-lifting followed by three and half hours of fight training with a stunt coordinator which included running, martial arts, and working with swords and spears.” Many of the actors performed their own stunts.



    A still from The Woman King. Courtesy of Flickering Myth.
    The Woman King strives for authenticity and diversity at every turn, with the film’s story carefully researched and the camera crew consisting of Black women and women of color. Prince-Bythewood was committed to hiring Black women and women of color to work on the film citing, “often the résumés are not long because it’s about lack of opportunity, not lack of talent.”

    While presenting the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, lead actress Viola Davis said, “This film is for the Thuso [Mbedu]’s, Lashana [Lynch]’s … the Masali [Baduza]’s, the Black women who are out there on the periphery just waiting for the conduit–a vehicle to shine [their] beautiful and glorious light.”

     

    The Woman King premieres a couple of days after tennis titan Serena Williams bid farewell to the game she revolutionized; the same week Sheryl Lee Ralph serenaded us as she accepted the Emmy for ‘Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series’ for Abbott Elementary and Quinta Brunson won the Emmy for ‘Best Comedy Writing’ for the show; the same night Lizzo’s show Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls won ‘Best Competition Program’ and Zendaya took home the Emmy for ‘Best Actress in a Drama Series’ for Euphoria for the second year in a row. Needless to say, we have entered a cultural, creative renaissance and Black women are at the center.

    The Woman King premieres in theaters on Friday, September 16th. NYFA congratulates Acting for Film alum Masali Baduza for landing such a critical role in this ground-breaking film.

     

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

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  • Our Interview With Rising Artist Scholarship Winner Samantha Rosinski

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    FilmCampScholarship

    In the Summer of 2022, NYFA welcomed Samantha Rosinski, a recipient of our Rising Artist Scholarship for Teen Camps (RASFTC), to our 1-Week Filmmaking Workshop for teens at NYFA’s New York campus. An aspiring young filmmaker, Samantha was introduced to the art of filmmaking and wrote, directed, shot, and edited a short film project.  

    “The New York Film Academy’s Rising Artist Scholarship for Teen Camps is a wonderful way for NYFA to recognize emerging student artists for their achievements in the Performing and/or Visual Arts,” says Roger Del Pozo, Senior Executive Enrollment Specialist and RASFTC Selection Committee Member. “It provides the selected winner the opportunity to explore their craft in an advanced and immersive environment at NYFA.” 

    Meet Rising Artist Scholarship Winner Samantha Rosinski

    Following the completion of the 1-Week Filmmaking Workshop, we wanted to hear all about Samantha’s experiences at NYFA and her favorite memories while studying at our New York City campus. The RASFTC winner gave us the opportunity to hear about her experience making new friends, learning the essentials of directing, and living in the “Big Apple,” the home of major filmmaking and television studios, for an entire week.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): How did you feel when you heard that you were selected for the Rising Artist Scholarship for Teen Camps?

    Samantha Rosinski (SR): I was incredibly surprised since I had only been experimenting with film for about a year and was grateful my teacher sent his recommendation to the NYFA for this opportunity. Also, I found out I was the scholarship winner the day before my birthday, so it was the ultimate birthday gift!

    NYFA: What did you learn during your 1-Week Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA that you have applied to your life?

    SR: A few girls were knocking on dorm doors on our first day to meet those on my floor. I realized how beneficial it is to put myself out there to meet people with similar aspirations. To become an open-minded filmmaker, you must remain curious. Coming to this hub of all different cultures, I have learned more about unique individuals and will be able to apply this to the character of my future film endeavors.

    NYFA: What was your biggest challenge while studying Filmmaking at NYFA?

    SR: Learning to work in a short time frame, for instance, utilizing just two hours to shoot your entire short film. In the end, this boosted my confidence in my abilities when I was able to meet that deadline successfully. 

    NYFA: Did you have any worldly experiences while studying at NYFA in New York City? 

    SR: I met people from all over the world, but one sticks out the most. I spoke with an aspiring photographer from France, who didn’t speak as much English as I did, however, we were able to communicate due to our shared knowledge of cameras. Going to another country for the four-week program is admirable! I follow his photography account on Instagram and can see his determination has truly paid off through his current work. 

    NYFA: What was your biggest takeaway from studying directing?

    SR: I learned a lot about blocking and how it relates to which characters are dominant. I already understood how camera angles can have this effect, but I never realized how much went into feature films where character movement is specifically coordinated to add to this. 

    NYFA: Are you considering pursuing filmmaking/directing as a future major in college?

    SR: Of course! I plan on majoring in film production in college.

    NYFA: What was your favorite thing about living in New York City for a week?

    SR: Being within walking distance of discovering all varieties of food with all my new friends remains unrivaled in my experience. The Eastern Nova Bagel from Leo’s Bagels was my favorite!

    NYFA: What advice do you have for other teens considering our programs?

    SR: Prepare as much as possible for your film to get the most out of the program. Make connections with the people in your class quickly (especially during the one-week session!).

    NYFA: Be honest, would you recommend our camps to your friend or family member?

    SR: Yes, I think it was a program that would be useful for any skill level. It was great to hear from professionals in the industry, and I would recommend living in the dorm to prepare for college.

    NYFA congratulates filmmaking teen camp alum Samantha Rosinski on her achievement and wishes her the best of luck in pursuing film in the future.

    How to Nominate a Student For NYFA’s Rising Artist Scholarship

    Designed for teen visual and performance artists, NYFA’s Rising Artist Scholarship provides students with the opportunity to attend a teen camp or workshop at NYFA. Teachers, counselors, employers, and mentors may nominate teens to attend in person at our New York or Los Angeles campus or complete an online program. All submissions must include a brief essay written by the nominator on why the candidate should be considered. To learn more, visit our Rising Artist Scholarship for Teen Camps page.

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    September 10, 2022 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Summer Camps • Views: 55

  • Allan Ungar on Directing ‘Bandit’, an Ode to Toronto

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    Allan Ungar on Directing Bandit, an Ode to Toronto

    Five years ago, NYFA Teen Filmmaking alum Allan Ungar, a new director at the time, was sent scripts for films “people thought [he] wanted to make.” Ultimately, these scripts did not resonate. Ungar, a Toronto native, was searching for a way to incorporate his hometown into his work. “I always wanted to find bold and audacious stories to tell that … [had] some connection to that “home.” He continued to work on developing his skills as a director while searching for that story. “With a country so rich in its history, I felt that it was only a matter of time before I would come across a story that had all the right elements to make a powerful and convincing film that people could relate to.”

    In Bandit, Ungar found a story that captured the essence of his home country and captivated him. Bandit is based on the exploits of Gilbert Galvan Jr., an American who escaped from a Michigan prison and crossed the border to Canada. Upon arriving in the northern territory, Galvan, alias Robert Whiteman, planned and executed 59 heists in banks and jewelry stores in almost every province from Vancouver to Halifax. The director shared that he read the Bandit script in one sitting. “I called my agent that night and said, ‘I have to make this film.’


    Allan Ungar, the mastermind behind Uncharted: Live Action Fan Film, has always been a fan of the heist genre. The classics “employed an inherent and organic ability to entertain, thrill, and excite audiences. Whether there was action, drama or romance involved, I always felt that there was a heightened sense of authenticity that was relatable.” With Bandit, Ungar found a film that possessed all of these qualities. “It had heart,” he said. In the film, Gilbert Galvan Jr. (Josh Duhamel), turns to robbing banks and jewelry stores after falling in love with a woman (Elisha Cuthbert) whom he cannot provide for. As it turns out, love is what motivated one of the most notorious heist-men in Canadian history. “It was a story about a real human being who had a dream and went for it. No matter the cost.”


     

    Bandit gets its title from The Flying Bandit, the book by Robert Knuckle with Ed Arnold that inspired the screenplay by Kraig Wenman. Gilbert Galvan Jr., was dubbed “the Flying Bandit” because he was a member of a frequent flyer program; and under the pseudonym Robert Whiteman, a computer salesman, Galvan would fly first class to different cities across Canada to rob up to 3 banks in the same day before flying back home to his wife. Galvan was one of the most productive heist-man and still holds the record for most consecutive robberies in Canada’s 155-year history. In his three-year spree, he amassed over $2 million.

     

     

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    A post shared by Allan Ungar (@allanungar)

    The Toronto native would have preferred to film Bandit in and around Canada, but 2020 had other plans for Allan Ungar and his crew. Due to the pandemic, Ungar was forced to relocate. He had to “recreate 1980’s Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton all in modern-day Georgia.” The task was no easy feat, but Ungar affirms it was “one of the most … rewarding experiences of my career.”

    Bandit was purchased at the Cannes Marché du Film, the business counterpart of the legendary Cannes Film Festival, earlier this year. As the world’s largest film market, Marché du Film is where producers, directors and distributors from all over the world gather in droves looking to buy and acquire the rights to the next big film. Highland Group closed on an array of international deals and sold the rights for Bandit to Signature Entertainment for distribution in the UK and Scandinavia, Originals Factory for France and French-speaking Switzerland, Eagle Films for the Middle East and many more distributors.

    “I can’t wait to see the way it resonates with [people]. Because at the end of the day, that’s why we make movies.”

    Bandit will premiere in theaters on September 23, 2022.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Allan Ungar on all of his work and success!

     

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

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  • Nicole Clemens, President of Television at Paramount & Paramount +, Talks Legacy IP’s & Industry Tips

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    conversation with nicole clemens

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with Nicole Clemens to discuss content acquisition and studio production with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.


    Nicole Clemens serves in the dual role as President of Paramount Television Studios (PTVS) and Paramount+ Original Scripted Series. She joined PTVS in 2018 and added the Paramount+ position to her portfolio in 2021.

    Clemens’ primary responsibility at Paramount+ is to shepherd original series and formulate programming strategies for the streaming platform. Paramount+ projects include the global hit series Halo for which NYFA alum Andor Zahonyi was a Visual Effects Artist, The Offer, Star Trek franchises – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Discovery, as well as Seal Team, Evil, The Good Fight, and The Game. Some of Paramount+’s upcoming series include Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, Fatal Attraction, Rabbit Hole, and Criminal Minds.

    In addition, as President of PTVS, Clemens oversees a robust slate of shows for buyers across multiple platforms, including Emmy-nominated Station Eleven, created by NYFA Guest Speaker Patrick Somerville, Reacher and Jack Ryan for Amazon Prime, American Gigolo for SHOWTIME, Defending Jacob, Shantaram and Time Bandits for Apple TV+, and The Haunting anthology series for Netflix.

    Before coming to Paramount, Clemens was a producer at Anonymous Content. Previously, she served as Executive Vice President and Head of Series Development for FX Networks, with a roster of original series including Atlanta, Snowfall, Better Things, You’re the Worst, Baskets, Tyrant, Mayans MC, and The Strain.

    Clemens is no stranger to the world of content and production, as she was a partner and Head of the Motion Picture Literary Department at ICM Partners for 16 years, a position preceded by tenures at Rod Holcomb Productions and as a television executive at Spelling Television.


    The NYFA Guest Speaker shared with the NYFA community that she is in a unique position as “both a buyer and a seller” at Paramount Television Studios and Paramount+. Working at a television studio has afforded her the opportunity to “buy, sell and make things”. At PTVS, the studio can buy their own material, greenlight original pitches, make deals with screenwriters, directors and producers, then sell to either broadcast or streaming platforms. “It is very rare that a
    show can go everywhere,” says Clemens, so PTVS finds the content a fitting home where it has real chance of getting made and seen by the target audience.

    Paramount’s own streaming platform, Paramount+, is a broader and bigger canvas for a variety of audiences rather than coastal or niche ones, such as 1883, The Wolf of Wall Street, Spongebob Squarepants and other “crown jewels” that Clemens has sworn to protect.


    The “crown jewels” are the legacy IPs. Among them is a groundbreaking film that was produced by Paramount during an uncertain time and catapulted the production studio to great heights The Godfather. Clemens jokes that as keeper of the jewels, she has sat through more “Godfather 4” pitches than she could possibly share. But meeting with producer Al Ruddy and hearing how the movie got made inspired the series THE OFFER. The series is a hit with audience and critics alike, and Clemens could not have been prouder!

    The cultural impact of The Godfather cannot be understated; The Godfather won ‘Best Picture,’ ‘Best Actor’ (Marlon Brando), and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola) at the 1973 Academy Awards. The film also won several Golden Globes that year, including ‘Best Motion Picture – Drama,’ ‘Best Director,’ and ‘Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama’. The Godfather trilogy has been lauded as the best and most influential film of all time and influenced Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and David Chase’s The Sopranos – but it was almost never made. The story behind the legendary film and how it almost didn’t make it to the screen is what Nicole Clemens pitched and turned into The Offer.


    Clemens also shared insider information about how shows get made and how to break into the industry. She shared that even if aspiring screenwriters send studios work, the studio does not and legally cannot accept unsolicited or unrepresented work. She suggested that writers seek out agents and, better yet, managers for representation. “Everyone wants to find the next big thing,” Clemens said, and agents and managers are looking for new talent to represent. Clemens also encouraged students and alumni to take jobs at agencies to acquire knowledge about the industry, stating that there is great value in work that may, at times, seem unrelated to entertainment but, in fact, is the center of how shows get put together.

    She also recommended making as many contacts as possible, especially if, like her at the beginning of her career, you don’t have a direct connection to someone in the industry. The NYFA Guest Speaker shared that “there’s a lot of rejection in this industry” but affirms that “You have to believe in what you believe and just go and go.” Eventually, something will stick. When asked what she believes got her to her position at Paramount today, she replied, “tenacity.”

    Watch the full interview below:

     

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Nicole Clemens for sharing her time and expertise with NYFA students and alumni.

     

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

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    August 26, 2022 • Academic Programs, Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 22

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum Michel Curiel is a Smash in ‘She-Hulk’

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    NYFA Acting for Film Alum Michel Curiel is a Smash in 'She-Hulk

    As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand and carry on the legacy of Stan Lee, audiences have found more characters with which to identify themselves. In 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, based on Marvel’s first Asian superhero, was a box office hit. This year, Disney + revealed another MCU adaptation, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, about the Hulk’s cooler female cousin.

    She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) first made her appearance in a Stan Lee Marvel Comic in 1980 as a lawyer who acquires a milder version of the Hulk’s condition after receiving an emergency blood transfusion from him. In the Disney+ adaptation, Walters is an attorney who specializes in superhuman legal cases.

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum Michel Curiel has been booked and busy since graduating from the One-Year Acting for Film conservatory program. This year, Curiel adds She-Hulk’s love interest to his long list of IMDB credits. Curiel spoke with NYFA about his upbringing, auditioning for Marvel and his decision to stay off social media.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

    Michel Curiel (MC): I grew up in the Bronx with my mom and two sisters. I lived there for a while before moving to Michigan where I finished high school and joined the military. After completing my service, I attended college and received my BBA in accounting.

    NYFA: What has your journey been like?

    MC: While in college, I did some commercial and print work and with the little work I booked, I got “the itch” and decided to move to Los Angeles. I didn’t know much about acting, but what led me to the New York Film Academy was their reputation and that they accepted the GI Bill. I completed the One-Year Acting Conservatory. My Meisner class was what really led me to understand what acting is about: living truthfully under imaginary circumstances and not pretending. That’s when I fell in love with the craft. The education that I received in my year at NYFA laid the foundation for my career. I realized that it’s not just, ‘hey, show up to LA and get discovered’, you actually have to put in the work.



    Caption: Still from She-Hulk: Attorney at Law courtesy of ComicBookMovie
    NYFA: How did you get involved with She-Hulk: Attorney at Law? What was the audition process like for you?

    MC: I live in Atlanta where auditions are primarily self-tape submissions. The self-tape process is something that I’ve gotten really acquainted with since I moved here in 2017. When I received the audition for She-Hulk, it said “Marvel SVOD (Streaming Video On Demand)”, but the project name wasn’t disclosed. I was auditioning for the role with a friend who’s a comic book nerd and stays up to date on everything Marvel. It had leaked that Marvel was going to be releasing She-Hulk, a show about the Hulk’s cousin who has Hulk-like powers and my friend said, ‘I’d be willing to bet this audition is for She-Hulk, in which case this is a scene
    where you’re on a date with She-Hulk herself.” So that’s how I played it for the audition. When I received a call from my team saying I booked the role, I had to sign all the NDAs. But I still didn’t know what it was for, so it was exciting.


    NYFA: How do you handle high stake auditions? What’s your secret weapon?

    MC: I’ll backtrack to my time in LA. I was attending a lot of in-person auditions. Some were for co-star roles, some were guest stars, and I feel like I had success in booking many of them because I didn’t put the pressure on myself as if it was a “big deal”. Ironically, when I had auditions for big shows with well-known casting directors or producers, or major roles as lead or series regular, I would almost psych myself out of doing a good job because I would put so much pressure on myself. Nowadays, my secret weapon for high-stakes auditions is that I don’t make them high stakes. I don’t consider the production or the size of the role, I just focus on doing my job and on what I can control. [The She-Hulk] audition had Marvel written on it, but I didn’t care. It doesn’t matter if I’m auditioning for Steven Spielberg or for a student film, I’m always going to do my best work.

    NYFA: What was your experience working on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law?

    MC: My experience was incredible. Working alongside Tatiana Maslany was rewarding. I was a little nervous at first, but she was very welcoming and easy to work with. I also had the opportunity to work alongside Renee Elise Goldsberry, who I am a huge fan of from her work as Angelica Schuyler on the original Hamilton cast. Working with director Kat Coiro was also a great experience. She was very collaborative and gave me a lot of creative freedom to play as an actor. In the trailer when I ask She-Hulk, ‘should we split some fries?’, we did 4 or 5 different takes and Kat playfully redirected my delivery and intention behind that line. Overall, I got an inside look into Marvel’s storytelling. It was truly an invaluable and unique experience to be a part of it all, and now, to see it all come together on the screen…it’s Marvel movie magic. That’s beautiful.


    NYFA: What kind of work would you like to do in the future?

    MC: I would love to book a role as a series regular. I like the idea of getting to flesh out a character and live in that world over an extended period. I’d also like the opportunity to work behind the camera, either as a director or cinematographer. I’ve always enjoyed filmmaking, and someday I hope to put my own ideas on screen.

    NYFA: Do you have Social Media?

    MC: I’m a bit old school. I actually don’t have any social media. Honestly, I just can’t keep up with it all. I think that sometimes you can get caught up in the noise and lose sight of what’s really important. For me personally, I want to focus on what matters to me the most – my family, my career, my authenticity. I don’t want to be “insta-famous”. I want to be recognized for my work.

    NYFA: Are you working on any other projects?

    MC: I just wrapped the new show on Fox, Panhandle. I’m currently not attached to any new projects, but my team keeps me very busy with auditions. So, the work doesn’t stop.


    NYFA congratulates Michel Curiel on all his success and hard work!

     

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

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  • NYFA Alum Andrea Muñoz Joins Star Cast in ‘Bullet Train’

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    NYFA Alum Andrea Muñoz Joins Star Cast in Bullet Train

     

    On October 1,1964, Japan introduced the world to the first high-speed rail system, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, just in time for the first Tokyo Olympics. The Shinkansen, colloquially known as the “bullet train” for the way it resembles a bullet and its high speed, is a network of high-speed railway trains that operate all over Japan.

    In 2010, Japanese author Kōtarō Isaka wrote Mariabītoru about the worst-case scenario on board a bullet train: hitmen carrying out their missions. Mariabītoru was adapted for the Japanese stage in 2018. In 2022, the book inspired a Hollywood adaptation, Bullet Train, starring Brad Pitt.


     

    The film boasts an all-star cast that includes Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny, Sandra Bullock, and many more. Among this dazzling cast is NYFA Acting for Film alum Andrea Muñoz, who spoke with NYFA about her work on Bullet Train, as well as her role in Hulu’s limited series Pam & Tommy.



    Andrea Muñoz, NYFA Acting for Film Alum
     

    Like with most actors, for Muñoz, the work begins way before the director yells “action” on set, it starts at the audition. An actor’s preparation and audition technique is part of their craft. Muñoz said during a conversation with NYFA, “I have an acting coach. One of the things I learnt from NYFA is that your training as an actor will never end. I have an ongoing coach and she helps me with all my acting preparation, whether auditioning or preparing for a role.”

    Muñoz shared that the most difficult parts of filming during Bullet Train were the intimacy scenes and insisted that respect is at the heart of intimacy work. “You have to have a high level of respect for yourself and your scene partner to provide a safe space for both. You are jumping into someone’s personal space,” As of late, the work of intimacy directors has been ‘essential’ for its importance in preventing and deterring abuse on set. “It’s known that in this industry, many times those [intimate] moments have been violated.” Muñoz adds, “that was my first kiss on camera, and it was harder than you would think it would be. I promise you a one-minute monologue is easier than that.”



    A still from Bullet Train. Courtesy of Vulture
    Muñoz’s preparation for Pam & Tommy was a little different, “One of the things they don’t tell you in school is that there is not such a thing as rehearsals on TV.” The alum goes on to describe the fast-paced nature of television work, “They give your lines, and they expect you to come ready to shoot on set.” Muñoz insists on joy and communication as a prime component of the actor’s experience on set. “It’s important to never forget to have fun and communicate with your scene partners.”

    A lesson the alum learned while at NYFA, she notes, was the business of acting.“NYFA taught me how to start my career on my own, how to start putting myself out there, look for an agent, a manager, and how to build material to present myself to this massive industry.” This knowledge gave her the upper hand in many situations, “I’ve met so many actors that don’t know where to start.”



    Brad Pitt in Bullet Train. Courtesy of Vox
    COVID-19 has had a massive impact on Hollywood and the way cast and crew interact with each other on set. However, Muñoz suggests that the key to being a successful actor at this moment is patience and discipline. “Be very patient, work on your craft and try to keep the inspiration: read scripts, plays, and watch the movies and TV shows that you want to be part of.” She adds, “this is a tough industry, don’t allow distractions to get in your way, don’t give attention and time to anything that doesn’t serve your artistic and human purpose, and always be kind to the people that you work with.”

    Andrea Muñoz also gave us the insider’s scoop on what it is like to work with a camera on set. “It’s trickier than we think,” she explains, “if there is a prop on set that you have to work with all the time and be aware of, but pretend that is not there, it’s the camera.” The camera is, in many ways, a scene partner. “The big productions cheat a lot in order to get better shots of actors or because of artistic reasons. In the real world, the camera is not static, it moves a lot, or it’s very close or very far, and you have to work with it. I love it.”

    Bullet Train is now in theaters.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Andrea Muñoz for all of her hard work!

     

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

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  • NYFA Cinematography Faculty: Interview with Anthony Richmond, ASC, BSC

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    For cinematography students, learning from seasoned professionals such as BAFTA award-winning Anthony Richmond, ASC, BSC is nothing short of taking a masterclass in excelling behind the lens. Chair of the Cinematography Department at NYFA Los Angeles, Richmond’s career spans well over six decades, with over 85 films and television projects under his belt.

    nyfacinematography

    NYFA Cinematography Chair, Anthony Richmond, ASC, BSC

    Known for being both prolific and diverse in his range of genres, early on in his career, Anthony worked as Assistant Cameraman on such landmark films as From Russia with Love (1963) and Doctor Zhivago (1965). He also assisted on A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1966) and Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966). 

    In his later years as an established Director of Photography, he worked on films such as Don’t Look Now (1973), for which he won a BAFTA Award, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975) starring David Bowie, Candyman (1992), and Legally Blonde (2001). He also worked on the seminal British music scene of the late 60s and shot the Rolling Stones classic, Sympathy For The Devil (1968) for Jean-Luc Godard, and then collaborated with Michael Lindsey Hogg on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1996) and the Beatles’ Let It Be (1970). 

    In addition to his extensive work behind the camera and in the classroom, Anthony is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (A.M.P.A.S), British Academy of Film & Television Arts (B.A.F.T.A), American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C), and British Society of Cinematographers (B.S.C).

    We talked to him about how he first got interested in cinematography, his favorite projects, and his advice for students looking to get started.

    NYFA: How did you first get interested in cinematography?

    AR: I first got interested in cinematography when I was about 15 going to the movies three times a week.

    NYFA: What have been your favorite projects/productions to work on to date?

    AR: Don’t Look Now (1973), for which I won the BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography. Also, Men of Honor (2000), The Greek Tycoon (1978), Ravenous (1999), The Eagle has Landed (1976), and Silver Bears (1977).

    NYFA: What are your favorite courses to teach?

    AR: The Crane Workshop (3rd semester MFA Cinematography) and the Stage Lighting Workshop (2nd semester MFA & One-Year Cinematography).

    For Stage Lighting Workshop, we spend two weeks learning how to light in a stage environment using big lights, stage power, and advanced grip equipment.  We have a great set that’s been built for us, with a 20′ x 50′ backing of the New York skyline. The backing can be lit from the front for a day scene, or it can be lit from behind to create a night look.  Each student brings in a reference image, and they then create their own shot with the same lighting style.

    For the Crane Workshop, the students learn to operate the camera with a remote head.  This works like a traditional geared head, so the students work on this skill throughout the entire week of the class.  The workshop builds up to a Cinematography Practicum shoot where we bring in a massive telescoping crane and shoot a scene with actors and director.

    NYFA: Who do you believe have been some of the most significant individuals in cinematography?

    AR: Freddie Young OBE, BSC was a British cinematographer who photographed many great pictures, including major historical epics such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Dr. Zhivago (1965), both for director David Lean.

    Gregg Toland, ASC, was an American cinematographer who was very innovative and shot for many classic Hollywood directors.  His films include Citizen Kane (1941) for director Orson Welles, The Grapes of Wrath (1940) for director John Ford, and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) for director William Wyler.

    Raoul Coutard was a French cinematographer who brought new techniques to many of the French New Wave classics, including Breathless (1960) and Alphaville (1965) for director Jean-Luc Godard and Jules & Jim for director Francois Truffaut.

    NYFA: What are some of your favorite films (in terms of how they did the cinematography)?

    AR: Citizen Kane, Doctor Zhivago, and Lawrence of Arabia.

    NYFA: What advice would you give a prospective student looking to get started in cinematography?

    AR: Watch a lot of films.  You can learn so much about composition, lighting, and storytelling from watching all kinds of different movies. If you are interested in getting started in cinematography, you can also build some basic skills by taking still photos.  Be thoughtful about composition and lighting as you make your images.  You can also look for opportunities to crew on short film projects, music videos, commercials, etc.  Try to find other young filmmakers who have the same goal of making great films and collaborate with them.

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