Joelle Smith
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  • Tony Richmond Screens Men of Honor With Special Q&A at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    New York Film Academy Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond recently hosted a special screening of his film Men of Honor for New York Film Academy students at the Los Angeles campus. Rather than a formal Q&A following the film, Richmond encouraged his students to join him in an intimate conversation.

    Richmond is well known for his cinematography on beloved classics including The Sandlot, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Don’t Look Now, Legally Blond, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, yet Men of Honor has a special place in his heart because both of his sons worked on the crew with him.

    Based on a true story, Men of Honor follows Navy diver Carl Brasher, the first Black man to become a U.S. Navy Master Diving Instructor. Extraordinarily, Brasher was able to passe the qualification test to become a master diving instructor with an amputated left leg. It’s an inspiring film that earned numerous award nominations.

    About the film’s star, Cuba Gooding Jr., Richmond said, “He’s a wonderful actor and an even better man.”

    Filming underwater presented a lot of fun cinematography challenges for Richmond. Some of the behind-the-scenes stories he shared with NYFA students included the creation of an eight-foot-deep pool to accommodate Richmond’s photography, and rigging Cuba Gooding Jr.’s diving helmet with lights.

    Students were curious to hear how Richmond was able film underwater with such clarity. Richmond explained that finding a good lighting balance was the most important element.

    “There’s a very fine line when filming underwater,” he said. “There were times during the filming process that I felt there just wasn’t enough silt in the water.”

    In order to give the tank a realistic feeling of the ocean, silt, the fine sand found in ocean water, had to be added.

    “You have to be careful when adding that stuff,” Richmond warned. “If you put too much silt in the tank it takes four days to filter it out.”

    One student asked about the most challenging aspect of making the movie. Richmond didn’t hesitate to answer: the film’s final courtroom scene

    The location was on the seventh floor of a beautiful old building, but because of its age Richmond couldn’t set up a lighting rig inside. Instead, everything had to be lit through the windows.

    After an enlightening evening, Richmond’s final advice to his Cinematography students was about working with directors:”You have to remember that this is the director’s film. Before you’re called in for an interview, he or she has already been working for months if not years on it.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tony Richmond for taking the time to host Man of Honor and speak with our students.

    To learn more about the Cinematography programs offered at the New York Film Academy, click here.

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  • Boy Scouts of America Earn Special Merit Badges at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) celebrated the third year of its partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with a special event offering scouts the chance to earn merit badges in the visual and performing arts.

    Through NYFA, boys and girls from local scouting dens were given the opportunity for special merit badges in Game Design, Filmmaking, Photography, or 3D Animation, through one day of hands-on intensive training at the New York Film Academy. In the morning, scouts attended classes with NYFA instructors, where they learned the basic rules of their selected craft and began to formulate the stories they wanted to tell. By the end of the day, each scout had completed a project and earned a new badge.

    The partnership between BSA and NYFA began with NYFA Service Learning Manager Paul McKenna. A native of Burbank, CA, McKenna got the idea for the partnership after reading about a similar program at Harvard. As a father and a scout leader, McKenna explained that many titans of the entertainment industry got their start in programs like the Boy Scouts.

    “Both David Lynch and Michael Moore began making films when they were in the scouts,” McKenna said. “Giving these kids an opportunity today could lead to a life-long passion.”

    Throughout the day, local scout leaders worked with NYFA instructors to help guide the scouts through the process. Assistant Scout Leader Paul Chiaravalle remarked, “The scouts are really enjoying this. … In scouting, we try to balance both outdoor and technical skills. It’s really nice of NYFA to provide this opportunity.”

    Scouts who chose the Filmmaking or Photography tracks at NYFA were taken to the Universal Backlot, where they shot a short film or learned to take portraits against a world-famous backdrop: the European set, which included storefronts, old houses, and even a train station.

    The student filmmakers were ultimately responsible for making a three-minute silent film. In teams of four or five, scouts took turns acting, directing, and filming their movies. Photography students learned how to work with light and shadow and were encouraged to explore the dynamic range of natural light. Framing was also heavily emphasized.

    At the end of the day, parents were invited to attend an award ceremony. Each scout received a certificate with his or her name on it in addition to their badges, which would be received at a later date. The scouts cheered for one another as they received their awards and celebrated their full day of storytelling through the visual and performing arts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Universal Studios, The Boy Scouts of America, and our instructors, who helped make this event possible. Congratulations, scouts!

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  • New York Film Academy Screenwriting Grad Rosa Falu-Carrion is Keynote Speaker at 7th Annual Luna Fest

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    NYFA MA Screenwriting alum Rosa Falu-Carrion.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MA Screenwriting alum Rosa Falu-Carrion was the keynote speaker at the seventh annual Luna Fest, hosted by the Burbank Chapter of Zonta International. 

    Held at the Laemmle Theater in North Hollywood, the festival featured films by women, for women. The powerful stories portrayed in the Luna Fest touched each NYFA staff and faculty member in the audience.

    “This film festival is a two-hour slate of films that inspired me like nobody’s business,” NYFA Los Angeles Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley said. “Female friendship isn’t always depicted accurately in the media. These films put female friendship at their center. I’ll absolutely be suggesting that my students, both male and female, check out the film festival next year.”

    The Luna Film Festival is just one way in which the local chapter of Zonta International helps female filmmakers. Proceeds from the Luna Film Festival ticket sales help fund the Wings Grant, which helps support women looking to further their education after enduring a hardship.

    The Wings Grant was established eight years ago, and this year, Falu-Carrion is the recipient. About the Wings Grant, Zonta Club of Burbank Foundation President Nickie Bonner explained, “We chose to help support the education of older women because there isn’t a lot of financial aid available to them.”

    Falu-Carrion shared her story of how the Wings Grant helped to open new possibilities for her at a crossroads in her life. When her husband died, Falu-Carrion wasn’t sure what to do with her life next. The former event planner found solace in watching films.

    “I was stuck for a very long time,” Falu-Carrion said. “I thought there was no use for me anymore. I couldn’t find my identity. I just existed. I began watching more and more films. All of a sudden, my imagination was running.”

    As Falu-Carrion watched new movies being released, she realized she didn’t see a lot of characters that looked like her.

    “My family is originally from Puerto Rico,” she explained. “I’m all kinds of mixed. Plus, I’m a military brat. I have so many different life experiences and cultural differences that I want to include in my storytelling.”

    Falu-Carrion began taking online screenwriting classes at NYFA, and then she decided she would need to immerse herself in a full-time graduate program. If she was ever going to achieve her dream of seeing her story on the big screen, she felt she had to “go big or go home.”

    NYFA MA Screenwriting alum Rosa Falu-Carrion.

    Falu-Carrion credits the “intenese” education she received in the New York Film Academy Los Angeles’ MA Screenwriting program with her success. “I was surprised, at my age, that I had enough brain energy,” she joked.  

    The intensity of the MA program was a motivator for Falu-Carrion, who said she never backs away from a challenge. Called “Mama Rosa” by her classmates, she was inspired by her instructors and motivated by her classmates.

    “I had a wonderful time at NYFA,” she said. “I made some great friends.”

    The first graduating MA class at NYFA Los Angeles was small but mighty. “We were tight,” Falu-Carrion recalled. “We helped each other through it.” She boasted that the entire class made sure they graduated as a team. “We left no man behind,” she said.

    Falu-Carrion encouraged anyone hesitant about getting into the industry to think of her story.

    “I was scared on my first day,” she admitted. “I was 45 years old. I thought, ‘What am I doing with these 20-year-olds?'” Yet, she knew that her perspective was a unique one and it didn’t take long for Falu-Carrion to see the fruits of her labor. At the end of the program, she had a script ready to sell.

    “If you feel that you missed your opportunity,” Falu-Carrion said, “That’s when you need to go grab the opportunity.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Rosa Falu-Carrion on for being selected for the Wing Grant and for her keynote speech at this year’s Luna Fest.

    The application for the Wings Grant opens on April 30 and September 30. To learn more about Zonta of Burbank click here.

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  • Kinjo Students Complete Filmmaking Workshop at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    The Kinjo University in Japan has enjoyed a long partnership with the New York Film Academy (NYFA). The collaboration between the schools allows Kinjo students to spend a few weeks in Los Angeles as they learn advanced hands-on skills in the visual and performing arts.

    After just a few days in the New York Film Academy’s program Kinjo students were taken to the Universal Backlot, where they filmed their first projects on the Western and Mexico sets. Students took advantage of the versatility the set provides to complete their class projects.

    Universal’s Western Backlot provides a number of settings for students. The exterior is a reproduction of an Old West town, but creep behind the set and it could be a modern-day industrial sight. Travel further onto the set, and it turns into an old town in Mexico.

    Charlyne Tsou, the coordinator for NYFA, praised the students’ preparation. “They are incredibly meticulous in designing their story. They only needed a little polish.”

    NYFA Instructor Michael Sandoval was equally impressed with his students. He said, “I always love working with the Kinjo students. I found them engaging, dynamic, and respectful. While we needed a translator, I don’t think this got in the way of communication. These students were incredibly sharp and especially warm.”

    During their classes, students were given a position on a film crew. Writers, directors, cinematographers, and sound recorders were all trained in their craft. Because of the time restraints of the program, not every student could make their own story, so they worked in four different teams to make four collaborative films.

    It’s clear the students were also elated with their experience at New York Film Academy. Runa Yamanouchi, a business student at Kinjo, was surprised that she was able to learn each stage of filmmaking in such a short time, and said, “I learned everything. It was a wonderful experience. I can write and direct a film without a problem now.” Yamanouchi was most excited about the experience she had at the Universal Backlot. “I still can’t believe it happened,” she exclaimed.

    Kinjo business student Raina Kobayashi is still processing her time at the Universal Backlot. “Shooting days were really challenging,” she said. “But my crew was really good, plus they all had really positive attitudes. I’m proud of the work we did.”

    The two weeks were a positive experience for everyone involved.

    “The most rewarding part of working with the Kinjo students was watching them grow through practical exercises in class,” Sandoval confessed. “I was amazed at their level of engagement and ‘go-getter’ attitude. When they picked up on the theory, the look of enlightenment in their eyes was energizing.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kinjo University and the incredible students who took part in the partnership course at New York Film Academy, and the long history of collaboration we have with the Kinjo school. We look forward to your next visit.

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    March 23, 2018 • Filmmaking • Views: 478

  • Algee Smith Holds Q&A at New York Film Academy Los Angeles Campus

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles African and Black American Club (ABA) held a special screening of Detroit on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Special guest speaker and actor Algee Smith was in attendance to give a Q&A after the screening. ABA Club President Furaha Bayibsa and Chair of Industry Lab Kim Ogletree moderated the event.

    Bayibsa opened the evening by asking Smith how he got the job on Detroit.

    The actor explained, “I was in rehearsals for the New Edition Story when I got the call from my agent to audition for a Kathryn Bigelow project.” At that point, the title of the film had not been released. Smith had no idea what he was agreeing to, but his agent was insistent he needed to go.

    Detroit depicts events that took place at the Algiers Hotel two nights after the Detroit Riots during the summer of 1967. With the news media’s lens turned to police violence in 2017, the timely historical drama created a national conversation.

    The audition process for the film was a unique experience for Smith. After a first audition with Casting Director Victoria Thomas, Smith was invited to come back and audition for Bigelow. At a mansion in the hills, Bigelow held a second, more unique, audition.

    Bigelow directed behind a camera that Smith described as “old.” She asked the actors to sit in a circle and sing a song. Then, she told them, a police officer would burst in and throw them against a wall. She asked the actors to respond naturally at that moment. “She was trying to capture authenticity,” Smith said.

    Though the character Smith plays (Larry Reed) is a living human being, Smith didn’t meet the man and inspiration for the film until after production had wrapped. When asked what his preparation for the role was Smith joked, “worrying and being nervous. I couldn’t call Larry or talk to his family. I had to rely on understanding the energy of the time period by researching the reactions of citizens to the event at the time it took place.”

    During production, Bigelow relied on the element of surprise to get the most authentic reactions from her actors. Several of the actors playing police officers were given a script, but those portraying the hotel patrons did not receive a script. This gave the police officers in the scene total control. Everyone else could only react.

    Smith explained, “She just threw us in there. … We didn’t know what would happen after that.”

    Because of the surprises on set, the actors connected much more deeply to their characters’ lives.

    “Even after leaving the set, I took a lot of that tension with me,” shared Smith. “The hotel we were staying in looked like a prison. There were bars on the windows and heavy locks on the doors.” Smith said it was challenging to leave the experience behind. “It was tough for me every day.”

    When it was time for the Q&A, one student asked for Smith’s insights as a person of color in Hollywood today, asking, “How do you stay motivated when you’re profiled or rejected for a role because of your race? I think a lot of the Black actors at this school think about the discrimination they might face in the casting room once they graduate.”

    Smith was candid with his response. “I don’t know if there were parts that had been kept from me because of my race. There very well may have been. Sometimes you hear casting directors say, ‘Oh, you were amazing in the audition, but we’re going with someone else,’ or, ‘we’re going in a different direction. ’ But you’ll never really know the reason why they made that choice.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Algee Smith for taking the time to speak with our students. See Smith next in Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams on Amazon and The Hate U Give, coming to theaters soon.

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  • Face 2 Face by New York Film Academy’s Matt Toronto Now on Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Instructor Matt Toronto has just signed a two-year deal with Netflix to stream his film Face 2 Face.

    Together with his brother Aaron, Toronto wrote Face 2 Face about growing up in the age of social media. The film screened at the Manhattan Film Festival and had its premiere at the Edmonton International Film Festival, where it won the jury award for innovation.

    The movie follows two teenagers, Teel and Madison, who rekindle a childhood friendship online. Soon, they begin sharing their lives over the internet as a means of coping with the typical problems of adolescent life even though they are at opposite ends of the popularity spectrum. Madison in an A-list party girl, and she takes pity on Teel, the social outcast, vowing to help him win friends on social media.

    As their relationship deepens, Madison falls for Teel. She forces him to confess the hidden cause of the bullying he faces. His admission sets off a sequence of events that ultimately motivates Madison to expose her own secret. This digital coming-of-age story examines some of the most pressing and difficult social issues facing teenagers today.

    The story was inspired by a vacation Toronto took with his family years ago. While directing a play at the University of Utah, Toronto would FaceTime his wife and kids every night before bed.

    “At one point, the thought struck me,” Toronto said, “If we were talking about something interesting, this could be a movie.” That was when he decided to write a movie that takes place completely over video chat.

    As a professor working with young people, Toronto saw the effects social media had on his students. “I was working with young people all of the time. I could see how they interact with technology,” he said. “Teenagers seemed like natural choices for the heroes of the film.”

    As he dove further into the script, he decided to reach out to his brother, a counselor who has treated many people struggling with the same issues that Madison and Teel face in the script. “Aaron was able to bring a real authenticity to the characters and their development,” Toronto said. “But one of the most important inspirations came from a close cousin of ours who suffered in much the same way that Madison does in the film. We made this film in her honor.”

    Face2Face | New York Film Academy

    Some of the issues that the film focuses on include bullying, sexual identity, suicide, and sexual abuse. Raising awareness was a vital part of the filmmaker’s goals, but Toronto described a realistic and honest portrayal of friendship as the true heart of the film: “The film is about the power that friendship has to help us change, to help us become better people, and to help others as well. I hope the movie will inspire people to be friends. We can all be better friends to anyone who needs one. That’s the kind of thing that changes lives.”

    Toronto credited his time with the New York Film Academy to opening his worldview. The diversity of the school’s student body, in particular, had a profound effect on him. “I learn every time I teach,” he said. “That diversity has brought new insights and perspectives that I might never have found. Each student expands my point of view on the world and on the craft.”

    As an Acting for Film instructor stepping behind the camera, Toronto was able to bring a lot of the lessons from his classroom to the set. “My experience as an actor and an acting teacher are both essential to my work as a director. Actors are the humans that give life to the characters in a script. My background allows me to participate in that process with skill and compassion. I see my actors as designers.”

    To any actors looking to make their debut behind the camera, Toronto offered this advice: “Learn the craft of directing.”

    Matt Toronto | New York Film Academy

    NYFA Acting for Film Instructor Matt Toronto

    As intense as it is to learn the craft of acting, it’s equally important to focus on the details of directing. Toronto warned that it takes years to master directing, but there’s no better time to start than now. “The best actor/directors are the ones that respect both crafts, and put in the effort to grow as artists and storytellers throughout the entire process and on every project.”

    Toronto is working on several new projects. He’s keeping it a family affair, working with his wife to develop three television pilots and a feature, and working on two features with his brother, Aaron Toronto. Though it’s thrilling to see his film as he scrolls through Netflix, Toronto says that hasn’t been the most rewarding part.

    “About a week after it was released,” Toronto began, “I got a message from a viewer through the film’s website. In it, she shared that she was a teenager struggling with depression. She had been planning to commit suicide, but after watching Face 2 Face, she decided she wanted to live. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Knowing that our film had helped someone in such a profound way is worth more to me than all of the artistic accomplishments in my entire life. That’s what art is all about.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Toronto on all of his hard work. Face 2 Face is now available on Netflix in the U.S.

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  • New York Film Academy Alum Alex Kahuam’s So, You Want to Be a Gangster? on Amazon Prime

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking alum Alex Kahuam’s latest feature film, So, You Want to Be a Gangster?, is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

    Alex Kahuam directing So, You Want to Be a Gangster? via IMDB

    Shot in just three weeks, the dark comedy was inspired by the work of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Kahuam credits his education at NYFA and the amazing crew he met there for his success.

    Kahuam wanted to explore a black-comedy action film.  So, You Want to Be a Gangster? is a film about an unsuccessful actor named Victor, whose friends decide to enter him in a poker tournament to cheer him up — not realizing that the American mafia controls the game. When a fight breaks out, Victor is kidnapped and trapped inside a warehouse with the leader of the Yakuza and the head of a Mexican cartel.

    “I wanted to make something similar to my idols,” Kahuam says, pointing to his influences. “They make fun of reality, but at the same time manage to have some sort of political or moral message in the end.”

    For a true homage, Kahuam filmed So, You Want to Be a Gangster? in the same style as his cinematic heroes, implementing long takes.

    Long takes are challenging for a number of reasons: The actors have to nail every line of dialogue and every part of the blocking, the lighting has to be perfect throughout the entire shot, and crews will go through multiple tests to make sure everything runs smoothly.

    With such a short production schedule, Kahuam had to think and move quickly.

    “We didn’t have that luxury of time but we were able to manage,” explains Kahuam. “You have to be able to show your cast and crew that everything is okay. As the director, you’re the captain. Everyone is looking at you.”

    Kahuam says he was driven by this challenge. “We had long, complicated action scenes, stunts, pyrotechnicians, blood, makeup, prosthetics, squibs, etc. All those things that I just mentioned take a lot of time to coordinate and execute. I think the cast and crew did an awesome job. I’m really happy with the results.”

    Kahuam credits his education at NYFA with his ability to cope with the demanding schedule.

    “NYFA really instills two things in its students,” he says. “The first is teamwork. The second is to use the time at school to make mistakes.”

    Kahuam went on to explain that making mistakes in a safe environment allowed him to learn more quickly: “When you’re making a feature, you don’t have time to make mistakes. You can only rely on the team that is surrounding you.”

    Kahuam has been excited to share So, You Want to Be a Gangster? with audiences around the world. Now, distribution with Amazon has allowed him to attain this goal.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Kahuam on all of his success. We look forward to the next project!

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  • St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt Brings Magic to New York Film Academy Los Angeles’ Safety Awareness

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    This month, faculty and staff at the Los Angeles campus of New York Film Academy (NYFA) participated in a Saint Patrick’s Day-themed Safety Scavenger Hunt.

    Throughout NYFA Los Angeles, the Human Resources department hid clues and cartoon leprechauns that led the staff over the rainbow and through the safety features of each of our three buildings. A “pot of gold” (gift card) was promised to the winner who could locate each of the seven clues.

    The event came as a fun Friday morning surprise to everyone. When employees opened their NYFA emails, they received a message with the first clue: “Looks like a leprechaun has tripped on a patch of shamrocks and cut his knee! Where can you find a band-aid for him?”

    Soon the halls were crawling with teachers, scheduling teams, and equipment staff, all looking for the green-hatted keepers of gold. The first clue wasn’t too difficult to solve. Once the first-aid kits were found, players were instructed to take a selfie or photo of the leprechaun before moving onto the next challenge.

    The second clue read, “Looks like a mischievous leprechaun has started a fire. Quick! Put it out with this! Extra points if you find them all.” While no real fires were started as a result of this scavenger hunt, each and every participant now knows where the nearest fire extinguisher is located, and is ready to respond in case of an emergency.

    One of the more enjoyable portions of the scavenger hunt was locating the floor captain, an assigned person on each floor of the NYFA Los Angeles campus who is responsible to make sure the floor is cleared when there is an emergency. Captains help students and faculty members get to the pre-designated safe zone.

    By the end of the St. Patrick’s Day safety scavenger hunt, everyone was up to date with the school’s safety procedures. As a bonus, everyone involved in the game got to know each other a little better. And while the quick and knowledgeable Sophia Monti, Eric Saldana, and Nancy Lee took home the prizes, we can all agree that a safer New York Film Academy makes us all winners!

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank the entire HR department, and Bridget Salinas in particular, for organizing this event. Interested in working at New York Film Academy? Learn more about our current openings here.

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    March 18, 2018 • Community Highlights, Contests, Faculty Highlights • Views: 41

  • Anthony Richmond Leads Production Design Practicum at Laurel Canyon Stages

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) has just completed its annual MFA Production Design and Cinematography Practicum, as a three-day production at the Laurel Canyon Stages.

     

    Throughout the practicum, NYFA Instructor Anthony Cook stepped in to offer guidance and support as the students worked through the many problems that can arise on set. Color theory, storytelling, and layout were all discussed throughout the class. Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond oversaw the production.

    “Production designers work hand in hand with the cinematographers,” Cook said. “Production Design is really another character in the film. It should be as carefully considered as the actors. It’s an unbelievably important component of crafting a good story.”  

    The New York Film Academy had created the Production Design Practicum for Cinematographers largely to help rising producers understand, through hands-on experience, the vital importance and intricacies of production design.

    The three-day shoot took place at the Laurel Canyon Stages. The New York Film Academy has been working with the studio for several years.

    “They’re always friendly and supportive,” said Associate Chair of Cinematography Mike Williamson.

    Students were involved in every aspect of filming.  They raised flats, designed the interior, directed the scene, and filmed the project.

    “They did everything. Right down to picking the sheets on the bed,” Cook said.

    NYFA alumna Natalie Whittle and actor Shamar Sanders were brought in by Cook to act for the student scenes.  Once the set was wrapped, the students were then able to edit the footage.

    The New York Film Academy Practicums are an opportunity for students to hone their skills in a real-world environment, under the conditions of a professional set.

    Cook was proud of his students stating, “The students did a really good job. It was a great experience. They handled themselves just like I would expect them to.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank all of the students who participated in this practicum as well as the instructors who made it possible.

     

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  • Unwritten Obsession Screens for New York Film Academy Guest Speaker Series

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    This February, the director and stars of Lifetime Television’s Unwritten Obsession stopped by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles for a special screening and Q&A with our students. The evening was hosted by NYFA Instructor and Co-Chair of the Producing Department Roberta Colangelo.

    In attendance were the film’s director, NYFA Instructor David Martín Porras, and leading actors Haley Webb and Chelsea Lopez, who spoke about the filmmaking process from pre-production through post.

    Unwritten Obsession follows the story of Skye (Lopez), a struggling writer who loses her husband to suicide. In desperate need of money, she decides to mentor a young fan, Holly (Webb). When Holly completes her book, it is better than anything Skye had ever written. Devastated, Skye submits the book to her publisher with her own name on the cover. When Holly finds out, she decides to take what she’s learned about Skye and use it against her.

    From left to right: NYFA moderator Andres Rosende with Unwritten Obsession Director David Martin Porras and Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    Webb spoke about her process for getting into character. One of her more ambitious strategies was to begin writing a novel of her own. “I didn’t finish it,” Webb admitted. Yet the process of beginning a novel helped her get into the right headspace.

    “I focused a lot on the justice Holly was trying to get,” Webb explained. “She may seem evil at times, but there’s more happening underneath the surface.”

    Adding to the discussion of an actor’s preparation, Lopez shared that, for her, the rehearsals were the most important aspect of developing her character. She remarked that it isn’t often that actors have time to rehearse before production begins.

    Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    “Getting to hear David’s thoughts on each scene and how my character evolves was very helpful,” she said.

    For Porras, on the other side of the camera, the hardest part of completing the film was finding a way to make two characters in a house feel dramatically interesting for an hour and a half.

    “Slowly I realized none of the characters were as transparent as I thought,” Porras said. He got to work reorganizing portions of the script so the film would feel more like a thriller, and focused on working with his actors to illuminate the motives of their character. Porras described this process as “a pleasure.”

    Both Lopez and Webb spoke highly of their time on set, reminiscing that between takes they would have fits of laughter.

    Director David Martin Porras and Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    “It was a really great set, said Webb. “When a director is grounded in what they’re doing, they create a domino effect. They set the tone for the rest of the crew. It allowed us to perform and be present.”

    One student wanted to know if Parra had given his actors a specific theme or note to follow throughout the film. Webb jumped in and said, “Maintaining secrecy and holding secrets in my body posture was something we spoke about a lot.”

    “We spoke about journaling too,” Lopez added. The actress shared that journaling isn’t something that is usually a part of her process, but she found it was helpful in Unwritten Obsession. “We shared our journals with David. He was able to use each of our internal motivations and drives to help us bring life and depth to our characters.”

    From left to right: NYFA moderator Andres Rosende with Unwritten Obsession Director David Martin Porras and Actors Chelsea Lopez and Haley Webb.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank David Martin Porras, Chelsea Lopez, and Haley Webb for taking the time to speak with our students. To learn more about New York Film Academy’s Guest Speaker series, click here.

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