Joelle Smith
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  • NYFA Student’s “Tempting Fate” Wins Four Awards at The Dove Foundation

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    tempting fateKevin Nwankwor is a current New York Film Academy film student, whose Tempting Fate won four out of five Doves at the Dove Foundation. We sat down and talked to Nwankwor about his latest works, the early years of his career, and what he plans to do next.

    Tell us a little about your film.

    Nwankwor: Tempting Fate is a movie about two brothers, one of deep faith and the other buried in a life of crime, their worlds are torn apart when the wrong brother goes to jail and the other commits an unforgivable act.

    The older brother, Edu, is a talented singer. He is calm, reflective and peaceful. He relies on his spirituality and the love of his wonderful girlfriend, Tracey, to help him combat a life-threatening illness.

    On the other hand, Ugo is hotheaded, impulsive and at times a menacing human being. He finds himself wrapped in a life of crime which he knows will lead him down a path of destruction, but it’s not an easy one to leave; a point his gang leader Scorpion has made clear.

    In an attempt to get money for a lifesaving procedure for his brother, Ugo triggers a chain of events that sends their worlds crashing. The film deals with themes of love, betrayal, and forgiveness.

    tempting fate

    You started your film career here at NYFA. What was the transition, from student to professional, like?

    Nwankwor: It was not easy. First, there was this fear of failure. Then doubt sets in. But again, I must commend NYFA instructors because they took their time to really open my eyes to the “make believes” that happens in movies, not only by teaching but also sending us links to materials and showing us where we can get discounts as filmmakers.

    My experience at NYFA made the transition an easy one, but above all the huge support from my family including my wife, Unoma Nwankwor, who is an award-winning author, my two kids, my special uncle who is also my Executive Producer, my Mum, and parents-in-law is what made the transition smooth.

    Assistant Director is notoriously one of the most physically and mentally challenging jobs on set. What did your time as an AD teach you about the filmmaking process?

    I worked as a Director in three of my movies and as an Assistant Director in two other movies. To be successful as an assistant director, you really have to work with a director that knows what he is doing – a director that knows his stuff. The worst thing that can happen to you as an AD is to work on an unprofessional set.

    Yes, it is your duty as the assistant director to run the set but, unfortunately, if the director is unprofessional, late to sets, and the members of the crew are the director’s family members and you are kind of in a position where you know things are wrong but unfortunately your hands are tied you can only make the best of your situation.

    Yes, I love it when I work as an assistant director but with a professional crew life is easier for you. Working as a producer / director… has been a pleasant journey for me especially with the skills I acquired from NYFA in terms of movie budgeting and scheduling. Before I started at NYFA, I was passionate about filmmaking. I knew what I wanted. NYFA groomed me and equipped me with skills towards my vision of making exceptional movies not just to entertain but also to inspire, motivate, and change lives.

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    What were you feeling the first time your film premiered?  

    Nwankwor: Hmmm – Tears, tears, and more tears. I trusted God all the way. I had some doubts along the way, tried to quit at some point but realized that quitting was not an option. But the very day the movie premiered I was filled with tears especially because I knew that I created a movie that made people cry and rejoice when they left the theater. Listening to their testimonies and reviews was fulfilling for me.

    Now that you’ve shown your film, are you looking for distribution? 

    Nwankwor: Yes, we are seeking distribution for TV and another medium. We are currently on Pay-Per-View Stage on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play but we are in talks with Netflix at the moment and hopefully some other distribution companies. We made a Spanish dub of the movie so it’s available in Spanish and English.

    Kevin Nwankwor

    What advice would you give to current students looking for success? 

    Nwankwor: Nothing is impossible. It all starts with overcoming fear. When I made my first budget it was $500K. I did not have $400 in my account… but I went on my knees asking God to direct me to the right person. The first person I pitched this project to was the last person I was expecting to act because he doesn’t look like a man that has a passion for entertainment.

    But as God will have it, he believed in me and invested in the project and me. Soon the film was made. So, don’t be discouraged, be tenacious, work hard, have a positive attitude and above all believe in your project because if you do not, no one will, and if you believe that it will succeed then you will be willing to take the risk. No success without risk, even if it does not come immediately. It will surely come, so stay focused.

    What’s up next for you? 

    Nwankwor: I am currently working on two projects now: Selina, a collaboration with Nachipala Productions, and Muna, which is my next feature film. My goal is to complete this new phase I started with NYFA. With the support from NYFA, I would like to go back to Africa and help the youths to hone their skills and talents in filmmaking and acting.

    You can find more about Tempting Fate and Nwankwor’s other works at www.facebook.com/TemptingFateFilm/ and on Instagram and Twitter at @knn335.

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    August 12, 2016 • Diversity, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3981

  • NYFA Cinematography Instructor Showcases “Tales of Poe” at Comic-Con

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    Comic-Con is the nation’s largest convention. It attracts fans not just of capes and cowls, but also genre fans. This year, New York Film Academy cinematography teacher, Bart Mastronardi, spoke on a horror panel about his forth-coming film Tales of Poe. Mastronardi took some time to tell us about his experience and what makes Comic-Con a great place to showcase your work.

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    Can you tell us a little about your film?

    Tales of Poe is an anthology film based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I wanted to make a movie using Poe’s stories in a cinematic way that has not been used before.

    The cast is made up of the horror genre’s best: Amy Steel (Friday the 13th part 2); Adrienne King (Friday the 13th part 1); Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Sharknado: The Fourth Awakens); Lesleh Donaldson (Happy Birthday To Me, Curtains); Debbie Rochon (Satan Hates You); along with Randy Jones (The Village People).

    We spent four years making the movie on an independent budget. I chose three of Poe’s works for filming: The Tell-Tale Heart, which I wrote and directed; The Cask of Amontillado, written and directed by Alan Rowe Kelly; and Dreams, which I directed and was adapted by screenwriter, Michael Varrati. I produced the film with Alan Rowe Kelly.

    What did you gain from showcasing at Comic-Con?

    A large amount of exposure and attention. Showcasing Tales of Poe at Comic-Con helped to gain a lot of attention to the movie including the cast and us, as filmmakers, too. Tales of Poe is an independent film in the horror genre so being asked to attend Comic-Con was an honor. It allowed the film to be seen on a large- scale platform and reach a broader audience.

    Our numbers began to increase in regards to publicity. Being at Comic-Con is, to a degree, equivalent to being at the Academy Awards. That is how big Comic-Con is. It’s immensely fun to be there as a fan and buyer, but to be there as a guest will draw audiences to your work, which is what you want it to do.

    tell tale heart

    What are your future goals for this film?

    Actually, Tales of Poe is going to be distributed this October 11th from Wild Eye Releasing on DVD, VOD and other platforms for viewing for North American sales. We are also focusing on international platforms, too. We do have a Tales of Poe poster and DVD signing with some of our cast and crew at Dark Delicacies in Burbank and in NYC at Forbidden Planet closer to the film’s release date.

    The film is in great hands with Wild Eye Releasing as they have been publicizing the film outside of the genre and within the core genre markets. It has already had its premiere and festival run for two straight years. We are all excited about the new journey the movie is taking this October.

    Tell us about how you got into filmmaking?

    I always loved movies not so much television, but movies. I watched all the black and white Universal horror movies. Frankenstein was my favorite. My dad always took me to the movies when I was a kid. I grew up in Queens, NY. Movie theaters were all over the neighborhood.

    He took me to see Star Wars when I was five years old and boy did that the film have a huge impression on me as a kid. When I was twelve my dad took me to see Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter in 1984 and that solidified my love for filmmaking and the horror genre. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It made me excited about movies even more.

    I knew then, filming and horror would be my future. I began to read “Fangoria Magazine”. I still do. I went to the Weekend Of Horrors Conventions and met my favorite horror celebrities. I wanted to be a part of the world. I knew that many people wanted to be directors, so me being a photographer, I studied cinematography, which led me to get into a great independent horror community in NYC. Then, I met filmmaker, Alan Rowe Kelly, and he formed this great friendship that led us to be business partners, which led to Tales of Poe.

    As a director, I approached my films on a personal level. This means I financed them myself for artistic means. My first film, Vindication, took 4 years to make and I was honored when the great horror master, Clive Barker, reached out and attached his name to Vindication with an incredible review. His touch opened so many doors for me. It brought a larger budget and reputable name actors to Tales of Poe. Because of those connections Tales of Poe has a Hollywood premiere at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd and at the NYC Horror Film Festival at the Tribeca Movie Theater.

    What advice would you give to students interested in showcasing their work at Comic-Con?

    Do it! But, do it with purpose! That means you go with posters, characters dressed up, T-shirts, bags, cast, crew, business cards. Find out who will be there in regards to publicity and ask them for interviews, platforms to showcase, panels to speak on if you can.

    Use your social media to the film’s advantage. Social Media is the best form of free publicity and it gets the word around fast. Comic-Con is not a film festival so don’t think you are selling the film. What a filmmaker needs to do is publicize and market the film. Comic-Con will help you find an audience who enjoys genre works of all kinds. You will reach an incredible amount of people.

    What filmmakers must understand is that Comic-Con is for a specific audience. You will not gain interest marketing your latest drama. Comic-Con focuses on specific genre markets. These are the markets I work in as it interests me as a filmmaker. To be an invited guest to speak as a director and showcase Tales of Poe at Comic-Con two years in a row has only benefitted the film. I am honored to be there, but I also know what I had to do to help get the interest for Tales of Poe out there.

    What is the networking scene at Comic-Con like?

    Networking at Comic-Con is incredibly insane and intense as there are many talented people there showcasing their work and art on so many levels. Comic-Con represents the best on a visual scale. It is colorful, loud and big with so much going on in the area. You walk around and something is being promoted in and out of the convention center. The trick is to be prepared to network with as much as you can bring to it. If you go to Comic-Con as just a fan to look around, buy merchandise and see what it offers then great. If you are going for networking then you must bring your game face.

    tales of poe

    What was it like speaking on a panel at Comic-Con?

    It is an honor and so much fun. I have to thank Michael Varrati for asking me to be a part of it. I was there to talk at the biggest, most attended comic book genre convention in the world as an independent filmmaker in the horror genre for Tales of Poe. Talk about it all coming full circle at that moment from being that kid watching Star Wars and Friday the 13th to speaking at Comic-Con.

    Aside from being excited as a fan, being there gave me a platform to discuss the issues the horror genre faces and how Tales of Poe is a part of those issues, too. The panel is a great way to have a dialogue with peers and audience. A filmmaker’s presence at events is important in getting the word out there. Audiences want to know what we have to say outside of print. My presence allows them to meet, greet, and hear what I have to say. It’s a personal thing for audiences to meet and hear the filmmakers as it connects them to the film a bit more. I enjoy the publicity and getting out there to talk to audiences about my work. At Comic-Con it means so much more to me because I love what Comic-Con is. I was that kid who grew up on comics, genre, and fan-fare.

    How important are signings like this in getting your project to the intended audience?

    It is important if you are looking to draw more of an audience to see your movie and get the word out there to be present. Audiences love it when the actors and filmmakers show up to talk, sign, and take pictures.

    For me it is fun. I also know it is important to understand that art is what we as filmmakers bring to our work. But, at the end of the day it is business particularly once distribution gets involved and money exchanges hand.

    If I want to be a part of something then I have to put myself out there to get the intended audience to see what I have produced. Tales of Poe is a very important film to me. I spend four years of my life with Alan producing and directing it to get it out there.

    I equate it to being a parent. When someone has a child you must raise it, educate it, feed it, clothe it, send it to school and do all the things that are important to helping it grow and experience life. The same is with a film. I make movies to fulfill my own artistic needs, but once I am completed with the film it goes to the audiences. They then watch it, giving the movie a new life.

    It’s a great journey if you want it to be. The signings help the film reach an audience on a personal level. Combine that with good social media and the word spreads fast. If the audiences publicize it right away, and if they love it they will talk about it even more. It gets the buzz about your film heard.

    Do you plan on going next year? Why or why not?

    I was planning on going next year as just a fan of Comic-Con. Spend the weekend in San Diego to feel the excitement on a different scale. For two years in a row, I was invited to speak and promote my work. Next year, I would love to go just to go, enjoy San Diego, and be that kid again. But if invited again I would certainly go.

    What’s up next for you?

    I literally just moved from NYC teaching at NYFA in NYC to Los Angeles to teach at NYFA full time. Much of my time is devoted to educating young filmmakers on the understanding of filmmaking through cinematography and lighting. I’ve been a teacher for over 15 years, so to teach filmmaking full time is a lot of fun.

    Besides the promotional circuit for Tales of Poe, I shot a short film called MONTY that will be premiering this year from director Billy Clift, based on actor Montgomery Clift. It was a beautiful art piece to film it as I was the cinematographer. I own my own photography business, too, so I am always working on new projects with other artists. My personal project that I am doing right now is my first photography book focusing on portraits. Another project is to catch up with sleep.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mastronardi for his time. You can learn more about Mastronardi and his work at http://www.talesofpoefilm.com

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    August 9, 2016 • Cinematography, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 3715

  • Pulitzer Prize Nominee Peter Rainer Discusses Film Critique

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    rainerThis past week, Pulitzer Prize nominee Peter Rainer stopped by New York Film Academy – Los Angeles to discuss what makes a good critic, what he sees as the next wave of filmmaking, and, of course, his years and development as a cinematic journalist. Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, hosted the event.

    Rainer began his career as a film critic for his college newspaper. In fact, he eventually became the managing editor of the paper, so he could give himself more space for his film reviews. “I really had this jones to be a critic ever since my dad gave me this book called Agee on Film: Criticism and Comment on the Movies. I learned you could be a real writer and still be a critic.”

    He continued, “When I graduated, I went to the library and wrote out a list of 50 publications that I could work for. Not knowing anybody. And I just sent my best work. I think I got two responses. One was from William F. Buckley. John Ford had died around that time so they asked me to do a piece on Ford. That was my first published piece as a writer. “

    Rainer’s first permanent job was with Mademoiselle Magazine. Rainer said of his time there, “The first film I ever reviewed professionally was Chinatown. And I also did an interview with Robert Towne. He let it slip for the first time anywhere that he did an uncredited rewrite of Bonnie and Clyde.” This scoop became a huge Hollywood controversy and put Rainer on the map as a serious journalist.

    paul rainer

    From there, Rainer moved onto the L.A. Times. I had six years at the times. It was an interesting time. I think then the publishing industry had a very cozy relationship with Hollywood.”

    Rainer went on to describe the difficulties critics have faced balancing thoughtful journalism with the demands of their publications’ advertising departments. When the studios keep your paper afloat it’s best not to upset them. “I thought being a critic was this refined thing. It’s connected to the dynamo of journalism, which means you’re connected to advertising. Critics were considered to be antagonistic to the advertisers.”

    Speaking on the state of the pictures today Rainer said, ”I’m always amazed that films that are remade are always the ones that worked the first time. What you should do is remake a film that had a great idea but failed. I see 300 movies a year. I’d say 280 of them are – ugh. I wish I had more time to watch TV. A lot of what’s going on in television, right now, is more exciting than the movies. When I started in the mid 70’s maybe five or eight movies were released a week. Now…it’s more like 25. I never walk out of a film I’m going to review. I still have this ridiculous notion that at some point the film is going to get good or there’ll be some breakthrough performance…”

    Paul Rainer

    To end the evening Rainer read his eulogy to the person he considers the greatest actor of all time, Marlon Brando. A sincere hush fell over the students as they listened to the ups and downs of Brando’s career and how, through it all, he remained the best at his craft.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Peter Rainer for his time and insight. Calderon highly suggests reading Rainer’s book, Rainer on Film: Thirty Years of Film Writing in Turbulent and Transformative Era. This is a great book for film lovers and creators and gives a broad history of one of the medium’s best critics. You can catch reviews from Rainer at the Christian Science Monitor and on NPR’s FilmWeek.

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    August 8, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3826

  • NYFA Welcomes Academy Award Nominated Actor Don Murray

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    Historic actor and activist Don Murray presented his classic film Bus Stop — his first film starring opposite Marilyn Monroe — to the New York Film Academy. After the screening, students watched highlights of Murray’s forthcoming documentary, Unsung Hero, which was followed by a Q & A.

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    Don Murray graduated from The American Academy in 1948. He studied method acting in New York City through the 1950’s, the same time as the greats: James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Steve McQueen. After graduating, Murray auditioned for legendary director, Joshua Logan, for Picnic, but instead of taking the role, Murray decided to take some time off to volunteer overseas.

    When he returned he was cast in a play called The Skin of Our Teeth. Logan was in the audience saw him and decided to hire Murray a week before Bus Stop was to begin filming. Murray, a New York native who had never been on a horse, found himself in a rodeo scene on his very fist day on set.

    don murray

    Aside from some television programs in Los Angeles, and his theater studies, Murray didn’t have a lot of Hollywood experience. Because he’s been overseas, he didn’t even think of Monroe as a big star. Initially, Murray continuously turned down the lead role of Bus Stop down because the studio wanted him to sign an exclusive contract. Something, Murray was unwilling to do and called a “slave contract.” They eventually agreed on two pictures a year for five years and every other year he could go to Broadway.

    Murray described his first love as musical comedy, of which he says Monroe was the best. “I never saw a straight play until I was out of high school. My mother was a Ziegfeld girl and my father managed stage musicals.” He took on his next role, Charlie Samson, in the Bachelor Party because it was an ensemble film. “It was like being in a jazz band,” Murray said. That year both Bachelor Party and Hatful of Rain took the second and third place in Time Magazine’s “Movie of the Year” list.

    “I really didn’t appreciate films until I made my own, The Cross and the Switchblade, which I directed. Then I fell in love with movies. Because (before) I hated that there was no continuity (in filming). Always stop and go. I also didn’t like the star system. What (studios) would put up with someone because they were a ‘star’.”

    During the Q & A, a student asked, “What is the one thing that acting didn’t teach you that you wish you knew?” Murray responded, “Your performance comes not only from the text in the script but the eyes of the director. I didn’t join the Actors Studio when I was invited because there was too much business. An actor would get a cigarette in their hands and suddenly the scene becomes about the cigarette.”

    Murray’s most controversial role was in Advise & Consent where he played a closeted Secretary of State who comes under Senate investigation. The film was released in 1962 decades before its time. A student asked if he worried for his career when he took on the role. Murray responded with, “It was an acting role. It never occurred to me to wonder whether or not people would consider me a homosexual. It was an acting role and a wonderful script. It’s probably the best political film ever made. No, excuse me, All The President’s Men is of the same caliber.”

    Another student asked, “Who did you admire coming up?”

    “Well, of course, when I got out of the academy in ‘48, Marlon was on Broadway in A Street Car Named Desire and I’d never seen anything like that. In the audience, you could feel the heat of New Orleans. I was standing in back totally mesmerized by the whole play but specifically Brando. In films, I liked Clift Montgomery… And, also (I liked) James Dean. Not so much Rebel Without a Cause. But I thought East of Eden was fantastic. That was really Cain in the bible. Whose father, God, rejects his gift of wheat, but accepts Abel’s gift of slaughtered lamb. So he was playing Cain, and that was my part in Skin of Our Teeth. So we were basically playing the same part thematically. But that scene where he is confessing to his father really tears at your heart.”

    don murray event

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Murray for taking the time to come speak with our students and wish him luck on his next project, the Twin Peaks revival on Showtime.

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    August 4, 2016 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 3990

  • Lessons From Storyboard Revisionist for DreamWorks Animation

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    This past week New York Film Academy Animation students were given an opportunity to meet with Diana Ling, storyboard revisionist for Hasbro’s Transformers. Ling has worked in advertising, storyboarding commercials and on animation projects including Transformers.

    diana ling

    Ling began her career by drawing ten hours a day. She drew over and over until she could sketch at a lighting pace. “Fast is fifteen to twenty clean sketches a day,” said Ling. “So, I decided to go back to school…to specifically learn how to draw, because I still didn’t know what it is I wanted to do. I built up my drawing chops. You sit there for five hours drawing and then you go home and you draw for another ten hours for each class. It’s a lot of mileage.”

    “I took this storyboarding class because I thought, ‘Well, I know how to draw.’ That means I can probably apply it to a practical skill. I used the portfolio that I had, the work that I had for that class, and decided to try advertising boards.”

    She would get a call asking if she could be at the studio in an hour. She’d meet with the commercial director. They’d talk about the look and story. By the end of the day, Ling produced a series of sketches that made up the entire advertisement.

    “In advertising boards you have to be able to draw relatively realistically,” said Ling. “A lot of it’s photobashing if you want it to be. But, for me, I just did everything hand drawn. You also need to know how to draw cars and environments. Your perspective has to be pretty good. And you have to learn to draw really fast too, because the turn around in advertising is one to two days.”

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    “The agent will call you and say, ‘Are you available today at 1:00 PM to come and work at the studio? They need boards for a pitch.’ I would meet with the director, one on one in a coffee shop or a Starbucks. We’d go over the boards and what he wants. I’d do little sketches. It was a really good experience because it introduced me to a lot of different people. It introduced me to what a director’s life is like. Where you just go from job to job. And it introduced me to the advertising world. In the process of doing that I learned to draw, really, really fast.”

    After some time, Ling began to have a crisis. She realized that she wasn’t fulfilled doing promotional work. So, she quit. She took some time to consider what she wanted and decided she wanted to tell stories. This is how she ended up at DreamWorks Animation working on Transformers.

    “In advertising you make a lot of money, but if it’s not fulfilling you artistically then you haven’t really succeeded. So I think my advice would be sit down, go to the beach, relax and think about what it is you want to do. I would write it down. It doesn’t have to be really specific, but if you keep thinking about that thing that’s on the tip of your tongue. If you just keep trying to kneed that dough than it’ll come in to fruition and it’ll be beautiful. And you’ll like it. You won’t be doing things that you don’t like to do.”

    “When I graduated in 2012, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I really wanted to draw for a living and so I tried finding work as an artist. I realized that it was really difficult. I was kind of just getting these one to two day jobs for about a year or so. It was like one a month. It was very, very little.”

    diana ling

    Ling continued, “I realized, like some people, all they want to do is draw and enjoy themselves doing that. But I realized that I kind of wanted to create something for myself. I wanted to create a name. In the past year I had been starting to think, ‘What kind of mark do I want to put on the world?’”

    Ling then looked over the students’ reels and sketches. She gave them advice and encouragement in applying themselves in the future:

    “A job is really just a job and as an artist you really need to think a little more entrepreneurially because there’s so many great artists in the world. Anyone can pick up a camera nowadays. Anyone can create a film on YouTube. Anyone can draw. There are lots of people who can draw very, very well. I used to be really worried about beating the competition. But now I’m not worried about that anymore. Your career is not really about beating other people. It’s about fulfilling what you want to do in your own life.”
    “If you want to become a master draftsman than you go do that and then the jobs kind of come. So you’re thinking more like an artist, rather than trying to progress your career. I think it’s more important to focus on your internal growth rather than begging for jobs.”
    “I believe the road to mediocrity is conformity. Trying to do what everyone else is doing and just trying to fit in to what all the people at Disney are doing. Rather, if you want to be successful you have to think about your own voice and be a non-conformist and trust that your voice and your skills will take you in the direction you want to go. You want to get job that you want. You don’t want to get jobs that you’re not interested in. You want people to be like, ‘Oh, Diana Ling she does that kind of stuff. We want that.’ They recognize your work and they associate your name with your work, because it’s not like anyone else’s.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Ms. Ling for taking the time to come speak with students. You can find Diana Ling’s work here.

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    August 2, 2016 • 3D Animation • Views: 6557

  • Students and Alumni Meet with Agents

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    As the clock struck 7:00 at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Campus the lobby began to fill with acting students and alumni. Agents from Abrams Artists Agency, Central Artists, Daniel Hoff Agency, DDO Artists Agency, Howard Talent West, Ideal Talent Agency, LA Management, McKeon-Myones Management, Media Artists Group, Prodigy Talent, Debra Manners Talent Management, sat perched behind desks ready to take the student’s head shots and discuss their future.

    Frederico Mallet a recent MFA Acting graduate attended the recent looking for commercial and theatrical representation. “I think it’s fantastic that Barbara made this happen,” said Mallet. “Because she is really great. She’s one of the finest people at NYFA. She’s at it all the time. She cares so much about us and I’m really grateful that she did this.”

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    The event was organized and run by Barbara Weintraub, Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development. She wanted to give recent and soon to be graduates an opportunity not only to network and practice pitching themselves but hopefully to land an agent and secure work.

    Spring 2015 graduate, Katisha Seargent, “I graduated in May and I’ve been trying to get out there. I was doing a lot of self-submissions. I was so grateful to the school put together a program to help us get that foot in the door because it’s something we’ve been trying to do since we graduated.”

    “I watched the footage that they made us shoot on our very first week at NYfA and I just compare it to where I am now and the growth is just exponential. It’s ridiculous. I learned so many things. My interpersonal communication skills rose exponentially. My confidence…it just went through the roof. I’m playing roles now that I never thought that I would do, that I didn’t think I was good at. I found out I have a comedic side. I never thought I was funny. You find out so much about yourself through this process here at NYFA.”

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    Acting student Owen Rousu knew he only had two minutes to impress the agents, “I have a commercial agent already so I’m looking more for theatrical. My little spiel goes, ‘Hey, I’m Owen. This is my theatrical headshot. I’m looking for theatrical representation; either a manager or an agent. I’m SAG eligible. I think what sets me apart from other actors is I spent five years in the army. I deployed twice as a US Army Ranger. So, the roles that I would go up for are usually army, marines, cops, firefighters, or the bad guy, apparently. I get a lot of villains, which actually, I love.”

    When all was said and done we had several students reach back to tell us about their experience.

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    The meet and greet was such a great event! I got an audition for commercial representation at Daniel Hoff! Which is an agency I’ve wanted to audition for so bad!

    So, thank you!

    Best,
    Linnea

    Thank you so much for yesterday the event was great! I was already contacted by two talent agencies!
     
    So, thank you so much! Those events must keep on going! They are of great help.
     Gonzalo
    Thanks for last night event!! I got contacted by DDO agency already for an interview next Thursday for possible representation!
    Thanks,
    Todd
    unnamed-2

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank all the agencies that came to view our students and the current students and alumni who took advantage of this opportunity.

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    July 21, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3733

  • MFA Photography Grad Nominated as Top 15 Best National Cosplay Photographer of 2016

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    Alify Nasution

    photo by Alify Nasution

    MFA Photography Alumnus, Alify Nasution, has been nominated by Cosplay Gen Magazine as one of the top 15 Best National cosplay Photographers of 2016. Nasution is a fine art photographer, specializing in conceptual portrait photography. He’s been shooting since 2009 but found a passion for photographing costume enthusiasts, otherwise known as cosplayers.

    Cosplay is a design driven art form where fans create costumes based off their favorite characters. Media from which characters are pulled range from anime to video games, comic books, and even real people. Sometimes cosplayers take two characters and create a singular hybrid. This new age art form allows fans to demonstrate their incredible creativity and innovation.

    The costumes can take hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to create. For many in the community, it’s more than just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. Before turning to photography Nasution was a cosplayer. His first costume was Rogue from Ragnarok Online.

    Back in 2005, when Nasution was getting started, there was no such thing as cosplay photography. Photographers would simply go to conventions and take ‘documentary-style’ photographs of the convention goers.

    Alify Nasution

    photo by Alify Nasution

    This is when Nasution realized all of the efforts poured into making costumes and role-playing characters could be better appreciated if photographed professionally.  He saw how he could combine fashion photography, fine art photography, and portraiture to properly document these unique pieces of art.

    In 2015 Nasution began his journey to become a professional photographer. He moved from Indonesia to Los Angeles to study Fine Art Photography and in 2016 he graduated from the New York Film Academy receiving his MFA in Photography.

    Alify Nasution

    photo by Alify Nasution

    While at NYFA his knowledge of photography increased tremendously, both technically and theoretically.  During his studies he was able to explore vast concepts from political to fantasy, eastern and western culture, every race, creed and nation. Nasution remains steadfast in his goal to introduce cosplay photography to a global audience. He doesn’t just take a beautiful photograph; he preserves a story.

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    July 14, 2016 • Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4727

  • David Bowers Speaks with Summer High School Students

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    WC2

    This week, director David Bowers brought his latest project, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, the third installment in the Wimpy Kid franchise, to screen at the New York Film Academy – Los Angeles Campus. Flanked by NYFA Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond and moderator Eric Conner, Bowers spoke about his long career in animation, working his way up the ladder, and navigating big Hollywood studios.

    Students from the popular NYFA Summer High School Program were in attendance for the screening and were excited for the opportunity to speak with him about his successful career. Bowers had an illustrious career that began as a kid making Super 8 Claymation films. When he was twenty he began working as an animation artist on Who Framed Rodger Rabbit. Bowers said in the Q & A he was only hired because, “…they were desperate for anyone who could hold a pencil.” He went on to explain that this stroke of luck set him on a challenging and rewarding career path. Since the work on Rodger Rabbit was so new and complicated he was learning as the technology was being created. With the knowledge gained he was able to launch his career.

    Bowers continued to ascend the ladder as an animator in American Tale: Fievel Goes West and the 90’s revival of Danger Mouse. Other works include FernGully: The Last Rainforest, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (produced by Steven Spielberg), and The Prince of Egypt.

    But it wasn’t until he began work at the legendary production company, Aardman, that Bowers began his foray into storyboarding. First he worked on Balto and then The Road to Eldorado. Bowers recommended every film professional practice storyboarding, stating, “It’s an opportunity to make mistakes before you shoot.“

    WC3When Aardman and DreamWorks teamed up to do joint features Bowers was the obvious choice to direct. Students erupted when Flushed Away, Bowers directorial debut, was brought up. The director broke down his time on the nearly four-and-a- half-year project.

    After the massive success of Shrek, DreamWorks’ first tentpole project, the expectations of Flushed Away skyrocketed. The American based DreamWorks wanted to push for a universal project. They wanted less British and more standard American English. However, Aardman, the UK based company, felt the cultural touches made the film distinct. In the end, the British cultural touches gave the film a certain truth of character that made it a favorite of children on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Through the trying process of filming Flushed Away, Bowers learned what he liked and what he didn’t like about the animation process. The yearlong wait between storyboarding and viewable animation always felt too long. The teamwork and collaboration, on the other hand, were invigorating. Bowers shot one final animated feature film, Astro Boy, before moving to live-action properties.

    When asked if there was one thing he could go back and change about his career, Bowers stated, “I’d launch into live-action sooner.” Later adding, “Live action is thrilling because you’re making things all the time.” Within just 8 months Bowers had shot and released the second Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules. “Even on your worst day when everything’s gone wrong… it (film) is still fun.”

    Richmond, who shot the film, remarked at the onset movie magic they were able to create as a team. The luxurious country club is actually a very old community pool. Richmond described it as being “…rather dirty.” But with fabulous set dressing and a carefully placed camera they were able to convince the audience they were at a ritzy club.

    WC1A student asked the pair if they ever had trouble working with a director or cinematographer. Tony stated that a cinematographer’s job is to make the director’s vision come to life. He’s never had a problem working with a director.

    Bowers said his greatest challenge was learning that there are times when your confidence will be knocked or you believe in yourself and other don’t. “Astonishingly,” he added with a laugh. “It’s not that you get knocked down. It’s that you get back up.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Bowers for taking time out of his schedule to sit down and discuss his cinematic career with student. He did inform the audience that he was working on a fourth film in Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise. We look forward to seeing where Greg Heffley’s adventures take him next.

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    July 13, 2016 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3789