Neal Weisman
Author archives

  • NYFA Sponsors Producers Guild Produced By: New York Conference

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    The New York Film Academy was recently a sponsor of the Producers Guild of America 3rd Annual Produced By: New York Conference. Reaching across film, television and new media, the Produced By Conference is an educational forum conducted by acclaimed producers, including numerous Oscar and Emmy Award winners, as well as the next generation of creative entrepreneurs. 
Held at New York City’s Time Warner Center, a group of NYFA Producing Students, along with Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Producing Admissions Representative Sal Irizarry, participated in panel sessions and guest speaker presentations featuring a wide spectrum of industry professionals.

    Produced By: NY 2016

    Produced By: NY 2016

    Those attending heard from producer-actor hyphenates as Tina Fey, Chris Rock, Matt Damon, and the producers of current and upcoming projects like “Jackie,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Hidden Figures,” “Loving,” “Madame President,” “The Young Pope,” and “Silicon Valley.” Some of the more popular panel topics included: The Future of Producing, It’s Show(runner) Time, TV Today: Embracing the Second Screen, Using A Life To Tell A Story: When Real Life Becomes Fiction, and The Future of Producing.

    Produced By: NY 2016

    Produced By: NY 2016

    A special feature of this year’s Conference was the appearance of NYFA Producing instructor Mark Lindsay. His foreign sales experience was highlighted in the Demystifying the Money: Straight Talk About Film Financing panel discussion, led by frequent NYFA Industry Speaker and film finance expert John Hadity.

    Produced By: NY 2016

    Produced By: NY 2016

    This is the second Produced By: New York Conference sponsored by NYFA. The Producing Department is one of the few programs in the New York City area whose students are eligible to participate in the PGA East Student Membership Program. This two-year program gives highly- motivated students currently enrolled in a producing-focused degree or certificate program the unique opportunity to become part of their own PGA community by attending regular meetings, creating and supporting events, networking with peers, receiving invitations to PGA events and screenings, and sharing and advancing their knowledge of film (scripted & documentary), television, and new media.

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    November 15, 2016 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 3065

  • Former Students Return to Discuss Production of First Feature

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    New York Film Academy Producing and Screenwriting Alumni Justin Ford and Mark DeBarr spoke with current students last night about collaborations and their first feature film Lemons. Set in New York’s Lower East Side, the low budget film charts the breakup of a relationship between two Millenials.

    nyfa mixer

    NYFA alumni Justin Ford and Mike DeBarr with NYFA Producing Chair, Neil Weisman

    Written and directed by Mike DeBarr, produced by Justin Ford, and shot by fellow NYFA Producing graduate Heikki Herlin, the film is currently in post-production. Mike and Heikki also share producing credit.

    Having met at NYFA, Justin and Mike spoke about the development, financing, and production of the project, and shared their marketing and distribution plans in a conversation moderated by Producing Department Chair Neal Weisman.

    nyfa mixer event

    The team hopes to launch Lemons at a prominent film festival in early 2017. A mixer followed, encouraging current Producing and Screenwriting students to start their own NYFA collaborations.

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  • “Tangerine” Screens at NYFA NYC

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    tangerine

    Instructor Darren Dean, actor Karren Karagulian and Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman

    A packed and enthusiastic screening room at New York Film Academy’s Union Square campus was the scene of an exclusive showing of the new film Tangerine last night. As part of the Producing Department’s Industry Speaker series, students and faculty from all departments participated in a “Conversation with” and Question and Answer session with producer and NYFA Instructor Darren Dean, director and co-writer Sean Baker, cinematographer Radium Cheung, producer and costume designer Shih-Ching Tsou, and actors Karren Karagulian and James Ransone (The Wire).
    tangerine

    Costume designer Shih-Ching Tsou, director and co-writer Sean Baker, actor James Ransone (THE WIRE) and Instructor Darren Dean

    Led by Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman, the spirited conversation explored the producer/director relationship, and the team’s continuing collaboration on several films over more than eight years. Cinematographer Cheung described the process filming the entire movie with the iPhone, and Director Sean Baker ran down the technical work flow in this unprecedented approach to feature filmmaking. Sean also shared with the audience his genesis of the project, and his experiences during the extensive seven month research and development process that culminated in the script. Filmed on a micro-budget, with an assist from Executive Producers Jay and Mark Duplass, Tangerine is being distributed by Magnolia Pictures.
    The film opens July 10 in New York and Los Angeles.
    sean baker

    Sean Baker signing autographs for NYFA students

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    July 8, 2015 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 5094

  • ‘The Jinx’ Screening with Supervising Editor Richard Hankin

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    weisman hankin

    Neal Weisman with Richard Hankin

    A standing room only crowd welcomed The Jinx Supervising Editor Richard Hankin to New York Film Academy Producing Department’s latest Industry Speaker series session. After screening Episode 3 of HBO’s groundbreaking series, Richard participated in a “Conversation with…” and Question and Answer session with Producing Department Co-Chair Neal Weisman. NYFA students from various departments heard Hankin discuss his early career, learning the Avid editing system (now the industry standard, used by NYFA students school wide), and parlaying his technical expertise to gain employment on a number of important documentary projects. He went on to describe his role working with various directors and producers, including editing and co-producing Andrew Jarecki’s Academy Award nominated film Capturing the Friedmans.

    hankin

    The Jinx garnered unprecedented media attention, thrusting it into the limelight. Richard Hankin gave great insight into the development, production, and most notably, the post production of Jarecki’s six part documentary series exploring the strange case of Robert Durst.

    Various production, legal, and ethical issues confronted by the filmmakers were discussed; especially noteworthy as the filmmaking process revealed incriminating evidence used to reopen murder charges in Los Angeles.

    The Jinx is currently available on HBO GO.

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    April 23, 2015 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 5009

  • Film Executive Ruth Vitale Discusses Creativity & Anti-Piracy

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    Ruth Vitale

    Film Executive Ruth Vitale with NYFA Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman

    Noted film executive and anti-piracy advocate Ruth Vitale participated in a “Conversation with…” as part of the New York Film Academy Producing Department’s Industry Speaker series recently at NYFA’s Battery Campus.

    Moderated by Producing Department Co-Chair Neal Weisman, students from various programs listened as Ruth intimately discussed her career as a producer and distributor. From the early days of basic cable, working as an acquisitions executive at the Movie Channel, Ruth has gone on to witness dynamic changes in the creation, financing, and distribution of film content for over thirty years.

    Ruth Vitale

    Sharing her experiences as President of Vestron Pictures, Ruth walked students through the producing process that led to one of that company’s most successful films, Dirty Dancing. She discussed her tenure as President of Fine Line features, where she distributed a number of notable films including Academy Award winner Shine. As the founder and Co-President of Paramount Classics, Ruth was involved in such seminal films as Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, Mad Hot Ballroom (frequently discussed in NYFA Documentary classes), and Hustle and Flow which garnered an Academy Award nomination for lead actor Terence Howard (currently starring in the television series Empire).

    Ruth shared insider details on the actual purchase of Hustle and Flow, which set the record for the largest sale ($9M) in the history of the Sundance Film Festival.

    As the current Executive Director of the organization CreativeFuture, Ruth has been on the forefront of battling film piracy. Students saw a dynamic video presentation describing the importance of protecting creativity in various mediums including film, television, music, new media, and fine art.

    In a spirited question and answer session, NYFA students offered valuable suggestions on how to fight this industry wide problem. We look forward to an ongoing discussion with Ruth and her CreativeFuture colleagues in the effort to conquer this important issue.

    We’d love to hear from you as well. How can we prevent this ongoing problem of piracy in our industry? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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    February 26, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5592

  • NYFA Welcomes Exec. Producer of Academy Award Nominated ‘Foxcatcher’

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    John Guira

    Executive Producer John Giura with NYFA Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman

    The Producing Department’s Industry Speaker program recently hosted John Giura, Executive Producer of Academy Award nominated film Foxcatcher. Students from various New York Film Academy departments participated in a wide ranging conversation and Q&A session moderated by Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman, covering everything from the genesis of the project though it’s current release. John brought a unique perspective on the film, as he was one of the champion wrestlers participating in the real events portrayed in the movie. Involved in the development of the script from its earliest stages, students discussed the evolution of the story from real life through numerous draft screenplays to the screen. John graciously provided a link to the screenplay in advance of the session, enabling students to fully appreciate his insights to the development process. A discussion on the casting and eventual financing of the film by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures followed.

    John Guira

    NYFA Producing Class at Battery Park

    John was able to give NYFA students an inside look at the shooting of the movie, as he also served as wrestling consultant. Training actors Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo, as well as choreographing sequences with director Bennett Miller, provided a close appreciation of the filmmaking techniques employed in the creation of this acclaimed film. John commented on a variety of clips from the movie, and shared some exclusive “behind the scenes” footage that he personally shot on set.

    Foxcatcher is currently in theaters nationwide, and has been nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Make Up and Hair. John Giura is currently producing and directing a feature documentary about a high school wrestling team in Oak Park, IL.

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    January 29, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 5619

  • NYFA Sponsors Producers Guild Conference at Time Warner Center

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    Hawk Koch and Jake Gyllenhaal

    Hawk Koch and Jake Gyllenhaal

    New York Film Academy was one of the sponsors of the Producers Guild of America “Produced by” conference at the Time Warner Center. NYFA had a strong presence at this historic event, staged for the first time in New York City. Participants included Producing Department Co-Chairs Neal Weisman and Nick Yellen, Admissions Reps Sal Irizarry (a Producing Program alumni) and Robert Gorrie, as well as a number of current Producing students.

    NYFA reps attended a variety of sessions that addressed the entire spectrum of the producing process: from creative producing, to the latest in international and domestic financing, to the very dynamic and fluid distribution landscape that is challenging the entire industry. Prominent among the panels attended were such diverse sessions as “Inside Showrunning”, “Financial Models in the Era of Hybrid Distribution”, “Tax Credit Financing”, and “The Power of Female Driven Content”. A variety of participants included actor/producer Jake Gyllenhall, director/producer Darren Aronofsky, television show runner Jenni Konner, producer Scott Franklin, writer/producer/distributor James Schamus, Academy Award winning producers Donna Gigliotti and Cathy Schulman, regular NYFA industry speaker and film finance expert John Hadity, and producer Steven Haft. Of special interest was the presentation by famed distributor Ruth Vitale on the subject of film piracy. Look for Ruth to be a guest at NYFA early in the 2015 where she will elaborate on industry efforts to confront this serious issue.

    Mark Gordon and Terrence Winter

    Mark Gordon and Terrence Winter

    NYFA Producing students attending the PGA “Produced by” Conference not only participated in panel sessions and networked amongst industry professionals, they also spent a good part of the day posting social media messages across multiple platforms! All in all, the Conference was a valuable experience for all concerned.

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    December 19, 2014 • Community Highlights, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5114

  • ‘Bad Turn Worse’ Filmmaker Returns to NYFA

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    bad turn worse

    The New York Film Academy’s Producing Program Industry Speaker series hosted an exclusive screening of the new film Bad Turn Worse this week at the Union Square Screening Room. Opening this weekend in New York, and then fifteen cities across the United States (as well as Video On Demand), NYFA students participated in a post-screening Q&A session with filmmakers Zeke and Simon Hawkins, moderated by Producing Department Co-Chair Neal Weisman.

    The story revolves around three Texas teens who hope to make a break for it and escape their dead-end existence in a cotton-mill town but get sucked into the seedy underbelly of organized crime when one of them steals from the wrong man.

    Having premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and picked up for distribution by Starz, the movie is a thriller set in rural contemporary Texas. The directors, who are brothers, cited various influences in making this first feature film including Terence Malick’s Badlands, Steven Spielberg’s The Sugarland Express, and James Foley’s At Close Range. Made on a low budget, the film shot over forty days, and stars a host of emerging young actors, as well as William Devane (currently appearing in Interstellar). The directors shared their experiences working with L.A. based producers Justin Duprie and Brian Udovich, as well as heads of departments Cinematographer Jeff Bierman and Production Designer Seong-Jin Moon. Director Simon Hawkins also served as Editor on the film. The filmmakers explained their work process, what it’s like to direct as a team – who also happen to be brothers.

    NYFA students were pleasantly surprised to hear that director Simon Hawkins took his very first film course at the New York Film Academy twelve years ago. Screening his first feature film on campus was an exciting homecoming for this NYFA graduate!

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    November 13, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 4360

  • Producer Adi Ezroni Talks ‘Kelly & Cal’

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    Kelly CalNew York based producer Adi Ezroni recently spent time with New York Film Academy Producing students discussing the upcoming release of her new film Kelly & Cal. The film stars Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) and is the feature debut of director Jen McGowan and writer Amy Lowe Starbin. Participating in a “Producer’s Craft” conversation with NYFA Producing Department Co-Chair Neal Weisman, Adi generously shared details of the project’s development, financing, production, as well as the sales/marketing/distribution of the film. Adi also spoke of her career trajectory, starting as an actress (and star of the Israeli television series that gave rise to Homeland), and her entry into producing with such films as A Late Quartet (starred Philip Seymour Hoffman).

    Adi’s film Kelly & Cal opens September 5 at the IFC Center in NYC, and on Video On Demand. The film has been receiving terrific reviews, including this recent New York Times review.

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    September 5, 2014 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 6398

  • Film Finance Expert John Hadity Speaks with NYFA Producing Students

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    John HadityJohn Hadity, the renown film finance expert, recently spent time with New York Film Academy‘s Producing students at the Battery Park New York City campus this month. An Industry Speaker in the Producing Program’s Film Finance series, John shared the latest developments in various areas, including: tax schemes, equity financing, and bank loans. Currently, John is the Executive Vice President for Entertainment Partners Financial Solutions. Over the course of his career, John has worked with a diverse group of film companies including twelve years as the Executive Vice President of Motion Picture & Television Production Finance for Miramax Films. He is also on the Executive Board of the Producers Guild of America. His expertise has established John as one of the first “go to guys” in the world of film finance, a fact not unrecognized by NYFA Producing students!

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    August 11, 2014 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 4608