Eric Conner
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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Kane Senes Makes Micro-Budget Film ‘For Now’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Kane Senes’ first feature, Echoes of War, is a period Western featuring high-end production value and a name cast. Where does one go from there? In Kane’s case, he went back to his DIY film-school roots. Armed with a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign and only the outline of a script, writer/director Kane Senes and fellow NYFA alum and director of photography Anton DuPreez hit the road (literally) and made For Now

    According to its official website, For Now is a “look at twenty-somethings adrift in the limbo between adolescence and adulthood, grappling with the superficial connections that define their generation.” The film was “shot on the road over seven days on a shoestring budget and with entirely improvised performances.” 

    Kane Senes For Now

    As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Senes and his fellow writers (Hannah Barlow and Katharine DuBois) were playing variation of themselves. And the tight schedule and budget meant they had no time for second takes or traditional coverage. 

    The result? A poignant coming of age/road movie akin to Diner, Noah Baumbach’s Kicking & Screaming, and the improvisatory works of John Cassavetes. Senes, DuPreez, Barlow, and DuBois had their official LA premiere of For Now at NYFA and talked about how they made their feature with little money and even less time.

    After attending a Q&A with low-budget maestros The Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, The MisEducation of Bindu), Barlow was inspired to create a film loosely centered on her relationship with her dancer Hannah Connor. An incredibly short four months and one Kickstarter campaign later, principal photography on the film was complete! 

    Kane Senes For Now

    Though initially hesitant to perform as the somewhat unsympathetic character “KANE SENES,” co-director Kane Senes realized that he needed to throw all aspects of himself into the project. This included some personal moments from his relationship with girlfriend/co-director/co-star  Hannah Barlow. The filmmakers soon discovered that the more personal they went with their story, the more relatable it became. However, DuBois (who is flat-out hysterical in the film) did stress that her character’s more “friendly” characteristics were pure fiction. 

    While a traditional narrative film might have a 10-to-1 raw-footage-to-final-edit shooting ratio, the For Now team’s approach meant they only had a few hours of footage to use. As an editor, Senes spent an extended amount of time in post-production and one lone day of reshoots to shape the improvisatory tale into a more cinematic story. Completing the film then led the team to their next big hurdle: distribution. Barlow and Kane connected with fellow NYFA alum Claudia Pickering, whose micro-budget film Frisky received international distribution and is currently being adapted for television. 

    Pickering’s sales agent watched For Now and fully committed to finding the movie distribution. And now, For Now has transformed from a improvisatory, crowd-funded project to a feature available to buy or rent on iTunes, Amazon, and countless other video platforms. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates the filmmakers for taking their passion project all the way to the finish line!

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    February 5, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 739

  • NYFA LA Students Participate in LA AIDS Walk

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFor five plus years, the New York Film Academy Los Angeles has been sending teams to the LA AIDS Walk. And since Hollywood loves franchises, we did it again!

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    Starting in 1985, AIDS Walk Los Angeles has benefited AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease. Their goal is to reduce the incidence of HIV infection and advocating for fair and effective HIV-related public policy.

    Actor Peter Gallagher (“The OC,” “American Beauty”) and Mayor Eric Garrett sent the 10,000 walkers off in style through the streets of Downtown LA. Unlike last year’s surface-of-the-sun level heat wave, the weather cooperated and even some clouds helped shield our speedy NYFA Walkers. With our trusted unofficial mascot, Gambit, by our side, the team made it all 10 KM in record time (for us).

    aids walk

    Once again, New York Film Academy is among the top fundraising universities… and can rise even further with your help! 

    Our team is still accepting donations for this important cause at: http://la.aidswalk.net/nyfa  The deadline is November 15 — in order to be counted for this year’s total.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    November 8, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 2886

  • NYFA Summer Camp Grad Michael Gallagher Releases “Internet Famous”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailMichael Gallagher began his filmmaking as a Freshman at New York Film Academy’s high school summer program. Whether it was a comedy about a dinosaur with bladder issues or a movie about a prison-bound sea captain (shot entirely in French!), no idea was too out there for his imagination.

    internet famous

    Over the next few years, Michael returned for NYFA’s advanced summer programs and continued making films on his own. Before he even finished high school, Michael had directed Oscar-nominated Michael Lerner and won numerous awards himself.

    Soon after high school, Michael began the comedy site “Totally Sketch,” which currently tallies 1.2 Million “Beautiful” Subscribers (Michael’s own words) and over 400 MILLION VIEWS!

    As Michael explained,  “When we first started, people (on YouTube) were just turning on WebCams. I thought I’d take what I learned at NYFA and take a more cinematic approach (to my comedy shorts).

    In 2012, Michael co-wrote and directed the horror feature “Smiley,” starring Caitlin Gerard, Shane Dawson and featuring Rogert Bart and Keith David.  (Link On ITUNES –  )  The trailer scared up more than 30 Million hits on youtube and introduced the world to the creepiest slasher’s mask this side of “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”.

    Returning to his Internet / comedy roots, Michael co-wrote and directed the parody “Internet Famous,” now available on iTunes and streaming on Netflix. 

    Michael explained, “The movie is about five internet personalities who travel across the country to compete in a talent competition. The problem is – they don’t have any talent.”

    The mockumentary stars Shane Dawson and other internet stars who were more than happy to mock their corner of the Industry. “These are people I’ve worked with in the past. It was fun to bring them in to parody themselves,” said Gallagher. “Shane (in particular) wanted to take the piss out of what he’s doing and comment on all the people who he works (around).”

    A Maker Studios co-production, “Internet Famous” was one of the most highly touted projects at this year’s VidCon (the Comic0-Con for the YouTube generation!)

    But “Internet Famous” is more than just a series of gags, as Michael lets the characters’ emotional stakes never get lost in all the youtube mockery. “Even in Airplane, you care if they land the plane.”

    Gallagher is already gearing up for his next film “The Thinning,” which will be coming to a computer near you this fall.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    August 9, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4330

  • Chris Lofing Returns to NYFA to Screen Debut Horror Film ‘The Gallows’

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailEvery low-budget horror filmmaker’s dream is to have his or her work seen by producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, Whiplash). In the case of New York Film Academy alumnus Chris Lofing, this dream was transformed into something even bigger than he could have imagined. On July 10, his debut feature The Gallows, co-written and co-directed by Travis Cluff and produced by Jason Blum, will be released nationwide and in over 50 countries.

    Chris and Travis gave New York Film Academy’s students a sneak preview of The Gallows, and discussed their movie’s journey from a micro budget to 2,700 screens.

    In 2010, the future horror auteurs met while making Chris’s NYFA thesis film. This wildly ambitious project had a tight budget, necessitating Chris’s shooting in the more affordable city of Fresno. A call for stuntmen led to his meeting Travis Cluff, a recent champion on ABC’s Wipeout. Soon after their first collaboration, Chris and Travis discovered they were perfect teammates and created their own company, Tremendum Pictures.

    For several years Chris and Travis produced commercials and industrials, but always had an eye on making feature films. Inspired by a tragic high school tale Chris heard from his father, The Gallows was born. The plot (no spoilers, we promise): Several years ago, a high school student named Charlie was killed in a horrific accident during a performance of The Gallows. Cut to present day and the school is resurrecting the failed play in an attempt to commemorate the tragedy. When a few students break in one night to stop the production, they discover that Charlie’s “performance” is far from over.

    Embracing the found-footage style employed in films like Paranormal Activity, Travis and Chris have created a horror film which is scary and remarkably grounded, featuring a cast that comes off as real high-schoolers trapped in a truly horrific situation. Chris and Travis explained that they did not write a traditional script, but instead used an outline, which allowed the actors to better inhabit their roles and sell the film’s realism.

    When Travis and Chris initially shot their film, they could afford only one location: a beautifully gothic theater in Fresno. Once they posted their trailer on Youtube, people in Hollywood began to take notice and the calls came rolling in. Major production companies reached out including Management 360. Suddenly the filmmakers who were by their own description “sleeping in their van” while visiting LA were a hot commodity. All of which culminated in a meeting with the modern day godfather of low budget horror, Jason Blum. The producer hosted a screening of their film that was met with a rapturous response. Realizing they had the potential for a wide release, the filmmakers (now teamed with Blumhouse Productions) went back to work.

    With a larger – though still minute – budget, the filmmakers could now shoot scenes in an actual high school. The crew got a little bigger, but the do-it-yourself attitude remained the same. However, one major change occurred in the recasting of a principal role, which necessitated filming most of the movie a second time. With every new cut, the filmmakers realized there was still more they could do and continued to shoot more material.

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    Dean of Students Eric Conner with the filmmakers and his students

    Once the film was finalized, New Line & Warner Bros. came on board to distribute The Gallows. As the directors explained, The Gallows is the lowest budget movie to ever receive such a wide opening weekend release.

    Chris said the work he did at NYFA in directing so many different projects and having to be a “do-it-yourself” filmmaker gave him the preparation needed to get The Gallows made. After riding his bike every day next to Warner Bros. en route to school, he’s now got the privilege of seeing his own movie’s poster adorning the Warner Bros wall.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    July 9, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6096

  • HollyShorts Presents NYFA Night

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    Continuing its collaboration with New York Film Academy, HollyShorts dedicated a screening exclusively to the films of NYFA students and alumni.

    From HollyShorts‘ website: “HollyShorts is an organization devoted to showcasing the best and brightest short films from around the globe, advancing the careers of filmmakers through screenings, networking events, and various panel and forums.”

    For the past eight years, the HollyShorts annual festival and monthly screenings have become a Hollywood staple. Playing to a sold-out house at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, these eight films were a terrific showcase for our talented filmmakers and performers.

    Maggie Lin’s RED HOUSE received the audience award for best picture!
    Thank you to everyone who participated, and to Theo & Daniel at HollyShorts for hosting such a memorable screening. Congratulations to all the cast and crews!

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  • You’re Never Too Young to Become a Screenwriter

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    eric conner and students

    Dean of Students Eric Conner with Valley View Elementary students

    Each year, Hollywood seems to get younger and younger. Just ask the ten writers from Valley View Elementary, who witnessed their original screenplays performed live in front of a packed audience.

    As part of the Young Storytellers Foundation, a group of New York Film Academy students and alumni have been mentoring these fifth grade writers, helping them to realize their unique visions and commit their words to the page.

    After eight weeks of zip zap zop, three-act breakdowns, NASA shakeoff, story games, lectures on theme, character, tone & conflict—not to mention a whole lot of writing—our talented young auteurs created ten original screenplays.

    young nyfa students

    Featuring power-absorbing banana bread, transforming robots, sibling rivalries, magic fairies and talking New Jersey lions, these scripts were worthy of a world-class show. And thanks to the tireless work of our NYFA & Young Storyteller actors, the scripts were brought to vivid life.

    Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 11.25.24 AM

    Congratulations to our budding writers from Valley View. Look for them all to get their first studio deals by age 13!

    If you’re a kid who is interested in learning screenwriting or another creative discipline, be sure to check out the New York Film Academy Summer Camps.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 30, 2015 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5408

  • NYFA Covers Young Storytellers’ Final ‘Glee’ Big Show

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    As part of our on-going collaboration with the wonderful Young Storytellers Foundation, New York Film Academy students and alumni recently got the chance to film “THE FINAL GLEE BIG SHOW.”

    Glee cast members Mark Salling, Dot Marie Jones, Harry Shum Jr., Max Adler, and Alex Newell along with Chrissie Fit (Teen Beach Movie, Pitch Perfect 2) performed four different short screenplays written by a group of inventive middle schoolers.
    glee la
    The connection between Glee and Young Storytellers dates back to the organization’s very beginnings when Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk helped create what is now YSF. Since then, Mr Falchuk has regularly brought the cast of Glee to perform the student’s material as part of YSF’s “Big Show.” With Glee now coming to a close after six seasons, this performance truly marked the end of an era.

    NYFA was honored to be part of the experience, and congratulates the cast and crew of Glee as well as all the Young Storytellers Writers.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • New York Film Academy and The Young Storytellers

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    “In 1997, a group of film students learned that Los Angeles public schools were cutting creative arts programs from the budget. Knowing the value arts-education held in their own lives, they created a volunteer-based creative arts program they could take directly into public schools.” (From http://www.youngstorytellers.com/)

    For close to twenty years, the Young Storytellers Foundation has continued to bring art into thousands of students’ lives. Along the way, New York Film Academy has teamed with YSF by teaching production to their high school students and helping them create their own projects on the Universal backlot.

    nyfa storytellers

    This year – with the invaluable help of YSF’s Bill Thompson & Pilar Alvarez and Valley View Elementary’s Susan Kim – New York Film Academy has become one of a select few colleges running its own Young Storyteller classroom.

    For the eight weeks, a dozen NYFA students and alumni will each mentor a fifth grader from Valley View Elementary school. Led by “head mentors” Dean of Students Eric Conner, the mentors will encourage their students to create and write their own five page screenplays which will be performed as a “live staged reading” by a group of NYFA Actors.

    young storytellers nyfa

    YSF’s Pilar Alvarez trained and prepared the NYFA mentors for the daunting task of keeping up with the ten-year-olds’ minds! Each weekly session will be split between a lecture on the fundamentals of screenwriting followed by and the fifth graders workshopping their own ideas. One lesson in and the budding writers from Valley View Elementary have already reviewed the basics of three-act structure and what makes us all love storytelling.

    The young writers devised an agreement detailing how the class will be run and what is expected from each of them (and their scripts). Next week’s class can’t come soon enough. Stay tuned!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 12, 2015 • Acting • Views: 4338

  • New York Film Academy Student Arabic Film Festival

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    A frustrated screenwriter gets unlikely inspiration for his next “killer” screenplay. A young man is pressured by his father to leave his true love for an arranged marriage. A police detective viciously interrogates three suspects to uncover who murdered an innocent man over a parking spot.

    These stories were but three of the twelve films and music videos recently screened at New York Film Academy’s Student Arabic Film Festival. With Dean of Enrollment Tami Alexander in attendance (all the way from New York!), the festival showed how the themes and stories created by our Arabic students were truly universal.

    Recent alum Osama Alkhurayji along with current students Almotaz Aljefri and Fawaz Saleh organized the event with Dean of Students Eric Conner. After receiving submissions from several current students, a lineup was compiled which included an array of dramas, thrillers, comedy and romance.

    In a Question and Answer session after the screening, the student filmmakers described the passion (and occasional problems) that went into creating their work. What came across from the comments was how relatable the material was to an audience from all over the globe.

    At the end of the night, three projects were recognized by a judging panel that included Saudi film director Bader Alhamoud and Al Riyadh’s Film Critic Rja Almutairi.

    nyfa film fest arabic

    First Place
    NOT THIS WAY
    Producer / Director of Photography – Abdullah Alshuridah
    Producer – Mann Binabdulrahman

    Second Place
    SHARP
    Director – Omar Said

    Third Place
    JOHNNY SHADOW
    Director – Abdullah Abuljadail

    Congratulations to all the filmmakers on their work!

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  • NYFA Among Top 5 University Fundraisers for AIDS Walk LA

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    Last year, Team NYFA sent dozens of “walkers” to the AIDS WALK and together we raised thousands for a terrific cause. Since Hollywood loves sequels, we decided to do it again! Braving the not-so-harsh October weather, Team NYFA helped show that (once a year) people really do walk in Los Angeles.

    Since its inception in 1985, AIDS Walk Los Angeles has benefited AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), a service organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease, reducing the incidence of HIV infection and advocating for fair and effective HIV–related public policy.

    After receiving early morning encouragement from Lea Thompson (Back to the Future II and III) and Nick Wechsler (Revenge), all the walkers took over miles of West Hollywood streets without fear of receiving a jaywalking ticket.

    With the help of star fundraising students like Diana Perez and Katie Clem and the of course our wonderful NYFA staff, New York Film Academy is ONCE AGAIN in the AIDS Walk’s top five fundraising Universities… and rising.

    To donate to our team please visit: http://awla2014.kintera.org/nyfa.
    Last day to donate to our 2014 total is Friday Novmber 7 at 5pm.
    So click on over!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    November 3, 2014 • Community Highlights • Views: 3593