Melissa Enright
Author archives

  • Greenlight Women and New York Film Academy Host Special Screening of A Classy Broad With Anne Goursaud and Marcia Nasatir

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    This April, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles was proud to host Greenlight Women for a special screening of the documentary A Classy Broad, followed by a Q&A with the film’s director, prolific editor Anne Goursaud, and it’s subject, Marcia Nasatir — the first woman to be vice president of production in a major Hollywood studio.

    From left to right: Marion Rosenberg, Anne Goursaud, Marcia Nasatir, Lawrence Kasdan, and Meg Kasdan.

    Anne Goursaud is known for her work as an editor on films including Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Outsiders. Her 2016 documentary A Classy Broad chronicles Marcia Nasatir’s career from her beginnings as a literary agent in New York City to making history as the first woman to become vice president of production at United Artists, as well as her continuing career as an independent producer. Nasatir is known for driving such films as The Big Chill and Hamburger Hill.  

    Moderated by manager/producer Marion Rosenberg, the Q&A event was introduced by actress Piper Laurie and Greenlight Women President Ivy Kagan Bierman. Marion Rosenberg opened the event by asking how Anne Goursaud and Marcia Nasatir met.

    Anne Goursaud reminisced about going to a yard sale hosted by Marcia Nasatir, and striking up a friendship. Marcia then passed Anne’s name along to Fred Roos — leading to Goursaud becoming Francis Ford Coppola’s editor.

    Ivy Kagan Bierman, Lucy Webb, and Kim Ogletree.

    “She immediately took me in, like she does everybody,” Goursaud recounted fondly.

    The conversation turned to films, and Rosenberg asked, “Do you think it’s possible to make a good film from a bad or moderately well-written script?”

    Marcia responded positively, saying that for her, “It’s not always about all the words, it’s about characters you care about … you go to the movies, or you begin to hear a story that sort of interests you, and you wanna find out what’s gonna happen.”

    Marion Rosenberg, Marcia Nasatir, Piper Laurie, and Anne Goursaud.

    Hanan Higgi, a recent documentary filmmaking alumna, asked,  “Do you have any tips for how to get mentors?”

    Goursaud advised, “You never know where you’re going to meet people. You go to festivals … keep the relationships, keep telling people what you’re doing … have coffee with them … people in the industry are actually very nice.”

    To illustrate Goursauds advice, special industry guests were in attendance for the evening, including writer/director Lawrence Kasdan, known for Empire Strikes Back, The Big Chill and recently, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and his wife, Meg Goldman Kasdan. Nancy Schreiber, the fourth woman ever voted into membership of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers, and recipient of the 2017 ASC President’s Award, was also present.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Marcia Nasatir, Anne Goursaud, Marion Rosenberg, Piper Laurie, Ivy Kagan Bierman, and Greenlight Women for joining us to host this wonderful event.

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  • Candy Clark and Peter Rainer Screen American Graffiti at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    The Los Angeles Campus of the New York Film Academy welcomed back actress Candy Clark following a screening of the classic film American Graffiti. Previously, Clark had joined us for a Q&A following the classic David Bowie Film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. Prolific Film Critic Peter Rainer moderated the event.

    Candy Clark has worked in the film industry for nearly four and a half decades, with roles in classic films including George Lucas’ American Graffiti, The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Fincher’s Zodiac, Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Clark has also worked on TV series including Magnum P.I., Criminal Minds, and a few episodes of the 2017 version of Twin Peaks.

    Peter Rainer has been in the industry for over 30 years, and currently writes for NPR, The Los Angeles Times, and the Christian Science Monitor. He’s also the author of Rainer on Film: Thirty Years of Film Writing in a Turbulent and Transformative Era.

    George Lucas’ American Graffiti is a coming-of-age comedy based heavily on Lucas’ own teenage years in Modesto, CA. It was a huge success, and is one of the films that led to the start of the “summer blockbuster.” The film’s success also gave Lucas the funding for a film he’d wanted to do for a long time — a space opera that eventually became Star Wars.

    Rainer and Clark opened the discussion by talking about the doubts studio executives had about American Graffiti, specifically: “they hated the title … nobody knows what graffiti means.”

    Producer Francis Ford Coppola asked everyone on set — actors included — to come up with a new title. Coppola’s suggestion was “Rock Around the Block,” but Clark said they held firm. “American Graffiti has a good rhythm … it just sounds great.”

    One audience member asked if Clark always knew the film would be a success. With a big smile on her face, Clark said that she always thought it would be a hit. Earlier in the Q&A, Clark even talked about how she had a first audition before she’d seen the script, and after reading it, she insisted her agent get her another audition so she could do the writing justice. She really identified with the characters, as she had spent her youth cruising between drive-ins in Fort Worth, Texas.

    Clark talked about her experiences on set, including the fact that “there would not be many takes at all, they had to move on.” Regardless, Clark said she always had confidence in her portrayal of Debbie, who she felt was an easygoing and kind character.

    Clark also reminisced fondly about her castmates and told stories from their time together, including one about Richard Dreyfuss: He was late meeting her for dinner because Harrison Ford and Paul Le Mat threw him in the hotel swimming pool.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Candy Clark for coming back and speaking to our students about this classic film, and Peter Rainer for his insightful moderation.

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  • NYFA and Mexican Consulate Present Mexican Film Series in LA

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    Recently, the New York Film Academy worked with the Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles to present the Itinerant Mexican Film Program – screenings that celebrate the cinematic and artistic history of Mexico. Thursday featured a pre-screening reception with Andres Webster Henestrosa (cultural attache from the Mexican Consulate), and a few honor students from Mexico, invited by the diversity department.

    mex consulate

    In his remarks before the screening of “El principio” (The Beginning) Thursday evening, Consul Webster spoke to the importance of showing films by Mexican filmmakers. “I think now that Mexican filmmakers are more recognized…[we want to] show people that Mexican creators are very strong in history.”

    He also spoke to the importance of changing the current perception of people from Mexico, saying that they want to show people from Mexico “a different way than is commonly known — movies are important for this.”

     

    nyfa la

    Consul Webster concluded his introduction by saying, “with this project we want to show that Mexico is a very rich culture…cinema is powerful.”

    The screenings continued on Saturday July 23rd, with “La Pasión según Berenice” (The Passion of Berenice) at noon, and “El lugar sin Límites” (Hell Without Limits) at 2pm.

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    July 25, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 3784

  • NYFA Alumni Panel Talks Business, Networking and Movie Trivia Following Screening of “Hellion”

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    New York Film Academy had the pleasure of welcoming back alumni Tanner Beard, Steven Garcia, Ashley Eberbach, and Ryan Rottman. These former students returned after over a decade, having attended NYFA Los Angeles when it was a small group of offices running out of the Universal backlot.

    The evening started with Hellion, starring Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and produced by Tanner Beard’s production company, Silver Sail Entertainment. They also screened a trailer of an upcoming film from Silver Sail Entertainment. Filmmaking instructor Eric Conner moderated the Q&A that followed.

    alumni nyfa tanner

    One of the first things the group focused on was the importance of being a positive person to work with, with Ryan Rottman saying, “In this town, the nicer you are, the more real you are…people appreciate that.” Rottman has acted in several TV series, including 90210, The Lying Game, and Happyland. He’ll be appearing in the upcoming film, Billionaire Boys Club.

    Steven Garcia, VP, Current Programing and Development at B17 Entertainment, added, “I’m thankful I’ve surrounded myself with good people. I’ve been a good enough teammate to have them keep me around.”

    This went along with the question they were asked about how to network. The whole panel agreed when Rottman said to “talk to other people.” Beard added that students should “surround [themselves] with people who love what you love and do what you do. Once you get out of school you’re so hungry for it, you forget it’s going to take time.”

    6 Bullets to Hell – Video Game Doc from Ashley Eberbach on Vimeo.

    They did admit how difficult the business could be, but their hope was to show that it is possible to succeed. Beard said that “it never gets easier. It was something I wanted very badly. I took the glass half full approach.”

    Rottman advised that students “not [let] it beat you down…just keep going. I know people who booked it…do your best.”

    nyfa alumni panel

    Ashley Eberbach, who works as a photographer and runs a multi-media production company in Los Angeles, chimed in, saying, “I think we all have war stories of like ‘I can’t believe that worked out.’ Make the best of it—the minute you break, that’s when you have a disaster. Making movies is supposed to be fun.”

    They reminisced fondly about their time at NYFA, and Beard said that “it is so cool…we are so happy to be here.”

    They concluded the evening with a movie trivia contest with prizes like Silver Sail Entertainment T-shirts and a signed event poster. We hope this will be the first of many visits back from these thriving, successful graduates.

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  • “Men of Honor” Filmmakers Visit NYFA LA

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    Following a screening of Men of Honor, students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus welcomed Director George Tillman, Jr., Producer Robert Teitel, and Cinematographer and NYFA Cinematography Chair Anthony Richmond, for a Q&A. Men of Honor, starring Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Charlize Theron, is based on the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, a man who overcame racism and the amputation of his left leg to become the first U.S Navy Master Diver. NYFA’s Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, moderated the event.

    tillman and teitel

    Director George Tillman, Jr. and Producer Robert Teitel

    George Tillman, Jr. is a director/producer/writer, best known for the Barbershop franchise, Notorious, a film about rapper Notorious B.I.G., Faster, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel, The Longest Ride.” Tillman also wrote, directed and produced the award-winning film Soul Food, with his producing partner, Robert Teitel. Teitel is a producer best known for his work on Tillman’s films, as well as Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and Nothing Like the Holidays (for which he wrote the story). NYFA Cinematography Chair and Cinematographer Anthony Richmond has had a long and illustrious career, starting in the 1960s with the Rock and Roll scene, working with, Jean-Luc Goddard, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, and then making his way into features on films such as The Man Who Fell to Earth, Legally Blonde, and The Sandlot, among many others. The tight-knit group reminisced about their experiences on Men of Honor, relating fascinating tales from the production, as well as invaluable words of wisdom.

    Tillman spoke very fondly of working with Robert De Niro. He related one episode on set in which the legendary actor picked up a phone while acting and the heavy prop struck him in the head. De Niro quickly regrouped and yelled for the cameras to “Keep rolling!” and to start the scene again. Without missing a beat De Niro recognized that this incident provided him an opportunity and he used the unexpected emotions to give a better performance in the next take.

    Cinematographer and NYFA Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond related a funny anecdote about his experience with the costume design for the film. A U.S. Navy ship provides the backdrop for the film, which of course means the story involves many sailors in uniform–white uniforms. Anyone who’s tried to film an actor wearing white knows that achieving proper exposure balance within the scene becomes very difficult. When Tony first got to set on the deck of the ship and saw a hundred extras wearing white under the blistering sun he said he almost had a heart attack. However, the highly skilled DP quickly found solutions to make all the shots work.

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    NYFA’s Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, Director George Tillman, Jr., Producer Robert Teitel, and NYFA LA Cinematography Chair, Anthony Richmond

    Producer Robert Teitel related the importance of how film school supplies students with the opportunity to create a “calling card” with which to break into the business. This is what he did with his 30-minute short Paula, which won several awards, including the Student Academy Award. This is also when he forged what was to become his very successful long-term partnership with George Tillman, Jr., who directed the short. The short helped Robert and George raise $150,000 and produced Scenes for the Soul, a feature film that was shot in Chicago, using local talent and resources. Scenes for the Soul was sold to Jackson-McHenry at Savoy Pictures for $1 million.

    We thank George Tilman, Jr., and Robert Teitel for visiting our school and wish them the best of luck in their careers!

    written by Melissa Enright and Robert Cosnahan

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    June 23, 2016 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3788

  • Oscar Winning VFX Artist Jim Rygiel Advises Students on Working in Visual Effects

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    Jim RygielThis week, New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles were treated to a Q&A with visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel following a screening of Godzilla. Rygiel won three Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His excellent work has also contributed to other feature films such as The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fast and the Furious, and Night at the Museum. NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki moderated the event.

    One of the things that Rygiel touched on was using real imagery alongside digital effects. “We always tried to get something in the shot,” said Rygiel. “My trick is to always try to get something real In the shot…it’s a mix. I’m always trying to get the director to shoot more, not less.”

    He stressed the importance of keeping parts real in order to keep it feeling real.

    jim rygiel

    Rygiel also advised students that when trying to get hired, they should let their work speak for itself. “What you mostly get hired on is your portfolio,” he added.

    One of our NYFA students asked for advice on how to act for effects, such as motion capture or with green screens. Rygiel reassured the student, saying, “Just shoot it. Act like you normally would—we’ll never replace actors. I could never create whole scenes [without actors].”

    Finally, he talked to the students about the importance of a balance between sticking to the plan for shooting and rolling with changes. He said that costs can go up if you change from what was already planned but, “don’t be a complete stickler to the pre-vis. There are things that happen. It just might be a better shot—always go with the better shot.”

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    June 21, 2016 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 5786

  • Representatives from Brave New Films Discuss Documentaries and Gun Control

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    New York Film Academy students welcomed representatives from Brave New Films—Laurie Jones and Tommie Bayliss—after a screening of their documentary, Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA. The event was moderated by NYFA Documentary Chair Barbara Multer-Wellin.

    brave new films

    NYFA Documentary Chair Barbara Multer-Wellin, Laurie Jones, Tommie Bayliss, and Tova Laiter

    Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA featured stories from people who have been impacted by gun violence, such as the woman who had been attacked by her estranged husband, the family of a young boy accidentally shot at a friends house, and a woman whose fiancé had committed suicide a few months before their wedding. Bayliss spoke to the difficulty of compassionately interviewing people involved, saying, “I think you have to be a skilled director to put people in a place where they’re comfortable.”

    brave new films

    When asked about the lack of a segment specifically about school shootings, Jones said, “the media covers mass shootings, but domestic violence and suicide are not [covered] — other short films are available on our website.” Bayliss added that, “you can’t get it all…you grab what you can. It’s a filmmaker’s dilemma.”

    Jones and Bayliss concluded the talk with a positive message. “We kind of think our voices don’t matter, but they do.”

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    May 9, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3344

  • A Talk with the VFX Artists Behind ‘Sharknado’

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    A storm whipped through the New York Film Academy Theatre last week—a combination of wind, water and sharks, known by the title Sharknado. After the screening, NYFA students welcomed Emmy Winning VFX Artist Glenn Campbell and VFX Supervisor Joseph Lawson from “The Asylum” Studio. NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki moderated the event.

    sharknado

    NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki with VFX Supervisor Joseph Lawson and Emmy Winning VFX Artist Glenn Campbell

    Sharknado was a made-for-TV disaster film produced between the SyFy Channel and “The Asylum” Studio. Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante and starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, and John Heard, the film has been a cult sensation since its release, spawning a franchise that includes three sequels (the fourth installment will be coming out this summer, titled Sharknado: The 4th Awakens).

    Following the screening, Glenn Campbell and Joseph Lawson showed a reel featuring shots from the movie before and after the visual effects were added, with their own personal commentary on the process. They showed scenes from the first three films in the Sharknado franchise.

    Campbell and Lawson explained that visual effects aren’t just for storms featuring murderous aquatic creatures—it’s for things as simple as turning a blue sky into a stormy sky, or removing satellite dishes from houses.

    sharknado picture

    They both agreed that planning was a very important part of the process—making sure that all necessary shots are taken, knowing what you want before you start setting up. “Don’t change your mind so much,” they advised.

    They also spoke to the importance of things like storyboards to help with planning and getting the best performance out of the actors. “It’s a challenge…nothing can replace the tangible, someone holding something in their hands.”

    Finally, a student asked them if there is, or should be, a limit with visual effects. “There is no limit,” they responded. With enough time and creativity, anything that one could imagine is possible with visual effects.

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    April 11, 2016 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 4807

  • Bruce Wagner Discusses Personal Journey After “Maps to the Stars” Screening

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    This past Tuesday, New York Film Academy students welcomed screenwriter, novelist, and director Bruce Wagner to the NYFA theatre, following a screening of his film, Maps to the Stars. David Cronenberg directed the film, which stars Julianne Moore (for which she won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress), John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson. The Q&A was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA Instructor David O’Leary.

    bruce wagner

    While discussing his writing, Wagner said, “I’m interested in people in extremes: fame and anonymity…the very rich and very poor, night and day.” He referenced the fact that Pattinson’s character is somewhat autobiographical, as he was once a struggling writer waiting for his break while driving both an ambulance that picked up the disfranchise dead and injured and also a limousine driver for celebrities in Beverly Hills.

    He also spoke about the fact that much of his writing concerns Los Angeles and the film industry, saying, “I write so much about this town, so I’m considered a Hollywood writer. I’m from here—it endlessly ignites me.” He added the fact that if he grew up in Detroit, he’d write about the auto industry.

    bruce wagner

    When asked by a student about working with a director, and the fact that each party would have their own vision of the film, he spoke fondly of the fact that he was invited on-set of Maps to the Stars—which “doesn’t always happen.” He also told a story about how he kept asking the script supervisor “what are you doing next” and he was encouragingly told by Cronenberg to start saying “what are WE doing next.” Overall, when it comes to turning your writing over to a director, he advised students that “you have to surrender.”

    Another student asked how Wagner balanced his artistic integrity with the need to pay the bills. Wagner said, “We all have to do what we have to do. The only way I survived was by exploring the darkest [possibilities] of what could happen to me and projecting it into my work…(transference of sort)” or “you do one for them, one for you.”

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    April 4, 2016 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 4137

  • Discussion with 20th Century Fox Chairman & CEO James N. Gianopulos

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    New York Film Academy students were invited to a theatre on the 20th Century Fox Studios Lot in Beverly Hills for an amazing opportunity—a Q&A with Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of 20th Century Fox Corp., James N. Gianopulos. The event was moderated by producer Tova Laiter.
    fox ceo

    Often, throughout the event, the subject of international filmmakers and more diversity in the industry came up. When asked if students from abroad who studied here should stay here or return home to start their careers, Mr. Gianopulos said,  If you’re [already] here, stay here…there’s so much talent here. It’s no accident that Hollywood is what it is.”

    He acknowledged, though, that “very few movies are filmed in Hollywood—it is too expensive,” but overall he still believed that students should remain here if they can, unless they want to return to live in their original country and make movies about their own culture.

    A student asked what would make Mr. Gianopulos want to work with an international filmmaker, and he told the student, “it’s not whether they are international or not, it’s whether they are a talented filmmaker with a good story to tell.”

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    Producer Tova Laiter with 20th Century Fox Chairman & CEO James N. Gianopulos

    “Culture is more diverse than ever and the studios are looking to match it both because it is the right thing and also because the movies will appeal more to the the diverse audience around the globe. He brought the example of The Martians in which the cast was very diverse. Ridley Scott chose them because they were best for the role.

    Where the industry is lacking is behind the camera. He expressed Fox’s support for “The Ghetto Film School,” which is a program for high schooler filmmakers in disadvantage areas of NYC and LA to learn without cost to them. In terms of gender, four out of the five top positions of the creative divisions at Fox are women (big applause here from NYFA females!).

    When asked where a young filmmaker should start in order to get the attention of the bigger studios, Mr. Gianopulos told the student that Fox doesn’t “take unsolicited material,” so the students should “keep making stuff and keep networking relentlessly until [they] get noticed by an agent who can submit for you.” He candidly told students “I worked my a– off in between the lucky breaks.”

    When asked what trait that he found most useful, he considered the question for a moment, and then said that “I’ve been trying to put humility to work.” He also said to “have trust in the people you work with.”

    After the Q&A, students were treated to a trailer for the film X-Men: Apocalypse on the big screen.

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    March 25, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 3933