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  • NYFA Screens “Blank City” with Filmmakers Amos Poe and Celine Danhier

    blank city“There’s no relationship between New York now and in the 70s,” said New York Film Academy’s recent guest speaker, filmmaker Amos Poe. This became apparent for incoming New York Film Academy students who were fascinated by Celine Danhier’s documentary “Blank City,” which captured New York’s indie filmmakers of the 70s, who were inspired by the burgeoning underground art and music scene.

    The era included this cross-pollination of art, music and film. Filmmakers with hardly enough money to pay their Con-Ed bills would hit the streets to shoot guerrilla-style movies while unknowingly influencing the highly regarded No Wave movement. Danhier’s film examines the events that led to No Wave’s creation, in which the city itself, which was in decay at the time, plays a significant role. Danhier, who came to New York from Paris, interviews such filmmakers and artists as Jim Jarmusch, John Waters, Amos Poe, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry and Lydia Lunch.

    “I didn’t know how to make movies but I had a camera,” said Poe. “I thought: I’m never going to make a movie that anyone is going to see, so why not make a film movement.”

    Danhier, who spoke to NYFA instructor Ben Maraniss and students after the screening, became interested in the lawless and desolate city streets of New York’s No Wave movement after seeing Poe’s “The Blank Generation” and Edo Bergoglio’s “Downtown 81.” In the spring of 2007, after meeting with producers, she began shooting her first movie, a documentary on the films associated with the No Wave movement and the city that set the backdrop.

    “I was charmed by her and her interest in our work,” said Poe. “Celine was dealing with a lot of difficult people and she stuck with it — even though it took four years.”

    Celine’s documentary screened at both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, where she eventually found a distributor.  

    Poe and Danhier are now working on their own project, which deals with their admiration for French New Wave cinema.

    May 26, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 96

  • Netflix Announces New Series “Tidelands” to Film in Queensland, Australia

    netflix australiaQueensland, Australia, home of the New York Film Academy Australia Gold Coast, continues to cultivate film production and acting jobs, with last year being its best year attracting production expenditure of more than $200 million. “Aquaman” is currently being filmed in south-east Queensland and the location also hosted the international and domestic productions of “Pirates of the Caribbean 5,” “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Pacific Rim 2.” The most recent announcement of Netflix’s newest Australian series, “Tidelands,” adds to the list of yet another major production in the region.

    “Tidelands will be the very first Netflix Original Series to be commissioned and made completely in Australia, with all filming to take place in south-east Queensland,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

    “Tidelands,” which is expected to create eighty jobs for Queensland acting talent and crew, was written and developed through Brisbane-based production house Hoodlum.” Set in the fictional Australian sea-side town of Orphelin Bay where the residents harbor deep secrets and nothing is as it seems, the series plays out with a supernatural undercurrent. Production will begin in early 2018.

    “Screen Queensland is committed to investing in innovative projects with international appeal and ‘Tidelands’ will deliver great opportunities for Queensland. The series will film ten 50-minute episodes in Queensland for its first season,” said Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira.

    nyfa Australia gold coast

    NYFA Australia Gold Coast students filming on set

    “High-profile filmmakers now consider the Gold Coast as a world-class destination with excellent filming options and multi-skilled crew,” said NYFA Australia Gold Coast Director Tasha Cooper. “I don’t even bat an eyelid these days with the amount of blockbusters filming in our very own backyard. It’s become very much like living in Hollywood. It’s great for the local industry. ”

    NYFA Australia maintains exclusive premises, located at Village Roadshow Studios. NYFA Australia alumnus Damian Lang has worked on both “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Aquaman,” both of which were filmed in the Gold Coast. Between his on-set experience and filmmaking background, Lang is currently working on an idea for his first feature film.

    “It makes us proud and acknowledges what we’ve always known — our unique learning style offers students incredible training that set them up for life — whether on small scale productions or massive blockbusters,” said Cooper.

    May 25, 2017 • Entertainment Australia, Filmmaking • Views: 275

  • NYFA Documentary Alumna’s “Unwelcome” to Premiere at Seattle International Film Festival

    With experience covering the Syrian War and training at the Documentary School at the New York Film Academy, director Ida Theresa Myklebost takes us up-close and personal into a makeshift refugee camp in Greece where a young boy, Menwar, and his family face the biggest decision of their lives. “Unwelcome” captures his emotional journey and his flight from the devastating conditions in Syria. His story will turn everything you thought you knew about the Syrian refugee crisis on its head. And now, the film will have its North American Premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 27, 2017 at 6pm.

    unwelcome

    “In times when people become overwhelmed with negative media and fear for potential terrorist attacks, it is important to remember who the actual vast majority of these refugees are, and who really gets their lives destroyed by the terror organizations,” says Myklebost. “The children of Syria have had their lives turned completely upside down. These are the real victims of ISIS and the other terrorist organizations. They are the ones who are being pulled into this war completely against their will, and who have no power to escape.”

    Myklebost is a Norwegian journalist, with background from some of the country’s largest TV-stations. She wanted to go deeper and explore the human stories behind the state news. In 2015 she moved to New York to pursue documentary filmmaking at New York Film Academy.

    “Although I have a lot of experience in the media world and have worked under high pressure situations covering among others the Syrian war, the knowledge and training I got from NYFA was indispensable,” said Myklebost. “Mainly, I learned to organize on a larger scale, planning a three continental shoot.”

    She traveled directly from New York to India to shoot a film that had to be coordinated with her later shoot in Greece. Once in Athens, she led a team, keeping a cool and organized head under high pressure.

    Myklebost listed some of the complications, saying, “The police tried to take our passports away, the camp got cleared, we met a few threatening characters who didn’t like us filming, human smugglers and frustrated people talking about ISIS, planning a budget, dealing with many people in chaotic and sometimes dangerous situations, and planning a film while in the field.”

    I am really content with how I went over all the shots every night, and saw what we had and didn’t have,” said Myklebost. “I thought out what stories we might be onto and made detailed storyboards, so when I got back to New York, there were no surprises and I could just stitch the film together. These are the skills NYFA taught me. I’ve always been a go-getter, and a hard worker, but NYFA pushed me further. They took the skills I already had and offered me an opportunity to see how far I could go with this. They became a platform where I could bounce my ideas, discuss solutions, learn from the professionals and their experiences; and thus enter the field that much more prepared. The true lesson I take away from NYFA is to finally understand the value and importance of good and thorough pre-production. If you know what you want and how to get it (and how to get it if the first plan doesn’t work, or the second or the third), then the process of making movies in the field, and on the run, becomes that much more enjoyable. It’s hard work, but it feels like play if you’re well prepared.”

    May 24, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1029

  • More Industry Success for NYFA Games Faculty Scott Rogers: “Rayguns & Rocketships” Is A Hit

    The New York Film Academy Game Design Department is celebrating the success of our faculty member, Scott Rogers’, latest table top game: “Rayguns & Rocket Ships.” It just completed a successful run on Kickstarter and will be in stores in the Fall.

    ray guns and rocketships

    Like all NYFA Games faculty Scott is a working developer in the game industry. He was game designer and creative director on more than fifty AAA games for Disney, Sony, Capcom, Namco and THQ. His games have sold over 50 million copies worldwide. Over his career, Scott has partnered with major licensors including Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, MGA and DC Entertainment.

    For the last four years, Scott was an Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering’s R&D department where he helped create interactive experiences installed in Disney’s parks including: “Mickey’s Fun Wheel Challenge,” “Legends of Frontierland” and several app-based interactive games. Scott has authored two books on game design: “Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design” and “Swipe This! The Guide to Touchscreen Game Design.” Both books are top sellers and “Level Up!” is the #1 best seller on Amazon.com.

    Here are a few of Scott’s videogame projects:

    God of War (PS2)
    Saint’s Row Drive-by (PSN, XBLA)
    Maximo: Ghost to Glory (PS2)
    Warhammer 40K Kill Team (PSN, XBLA)
    Drawn to Life (DS)
    World of Zoo (Wii, PC, DS)
    Up (Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS, PC)
    SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants (PC, GBA)
    Battle of the Bands (Wii)
    Pac-Man World (PS)
    Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness (PS)
    Soul Blade (Soul Edge) (PS)
    Xevious 3D (PS)
    World Stadium Baseball EX (PS)
    Rage Racer (PS)
    Demoliton Man (SNES, Genesis, Sega CD)
    ESPN Baseball Tonight (Sega CD)
    ESPN National Hockey Night (SNES, Genesis, Sega CD)
    ESPN 2 on 2 Basketball (SNES)

    Scott’s latest game, “Rayguns & Rocketships” combines the polish and craftsmanship expected of an Imagineer with the tongue-and-cheek sci-fi aesthetic of the original Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. The game is an inventive miniatures-based board game where players control of a rocketship on one board and its crew on another as they battle friends and avoid a cold death in the vacuum of space. Check it out here.

    May 22, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Game Design • Views: 801

  • An Evening with Chris Buck and His “Uneasy” Photos at the New York Film Academy

    The Photography Department at the New York Film Academy hosted an evening with Chris Buck, one of the most captivating voices in celebrity portraiture. NYFA Photography Chair David Mager introduced the prolific photographer to a room full of photography students and avid fans of Buck’s work. Buck has been creating a unique space within the world of celebrity portraiture for three decades. His charming, odd, and captivating photos from 1986 to 2016 have now been compiled in a cohesive collection entitled “Uneasy,” which he will be signing before and after the event. The new book features his portraits of some of today’s most famous celebrities including Jay Z, Mary Tyler Moore, President Barack Obama, Louis C.K., Mac DeMarco, Lena Dunham, Snoop Dogg, George Clooney, William Shatner, Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer, and many others.

    Chris Buck

    photo by Alejandra Arias

    Buck began the evening with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of his photo shoots. He joked that while the production process may look easy and glamorous in a short film, most of the time he is freaking out and obsessing on whether he will be able to get the right shots.

    He soon recalled his early childhood where he didn’t have many friends and began to cling to pop culture through movies and music. It was his increasing interest in pop culture and the fact that his father worked at Kodak that led to his passion for photography. As a young photographer Buck would follow local bands in Toronto and take photos. Initially, Buck was so “uneasy” around his subjects that he would only take photographs of their feet rather than a proper portrait.

    chris buck

    photo by Alejandra Arias

    While known for his work with high profile individuals and celebrities, Buck says he’s also interested in exploring regular people and working in advertising. “My real mission is to project my wounded ‘damage’ personality onto the photography,” said Buck.

    As Buck’s confidence and experience grew, he soon learned that being a great portrait photographer requires a focus on making an image for the audience and yourself — not the subject. As a professional with 30 years of work under his belt, Buck says its his ability not to act like “buddies” with his subject that creates an atmosphere in which the subject sees him as a serious professional. This is typically when his best work comes through.

    After elaborating on his work and wisdom through a series of videos and slides, Buck signed copies of his new book, “Uneasy,” which constructs a road map of contemporary culture, featuring a wide range of subjects, including many of the most recognizable names today: President Barack Obama, George Clooney, Joaquin Phoenix, Lena Dunham, Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Louis C.K., Judd Apatow, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William Shatner, Aziz Ansari, Kristen Stewart, Jay Z, Cindy Sherman, Jimmy Fallon and Donald Trump.

    May 19, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 1017

  • Industry Trend Series with NYFA Alumna Caitlin Cooke: Casting Associate at Donna Grossman Casting

    This week, Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby welcomed back her former student Caitlin Cooke for an Industry Trends Series discussion. Aside from her acting career, Cooke is a Casting Associate at Donna Grossman Casting, a full service boutique casting company based in Manhattan. Donna Grossman Casting cast commercials, print, beauty, editorial, TV, film, theater, web series, live events and special projects.

    caitlin cooke

    photo by Alejandra Arias

    Cooke began the talk by saying, “This school to me, it kind of makes me emotional,” said Cooke. “It brought me a lot of friends and a lot of opportunities and I met a lot of people in the industry. Everything I learned here was helpful. I learned a lot of the business side. Also the access to the equipment I had here is insane. Access to the industry here was way better than other places. And the advice that Glynis [Rigsby] and other instructors offer is invaluable.”

    Facing the competitive field of actors after graduating, Cooke landed notable TV series and feature films such as Emmy-winning NBC series, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and the star-studded comedy blockbuster, “Grown Ups 2.” Most recently, she had the chance to guest star in an episode of “Tough Love,” a web series created by her friend Steven Bell. To further her and her friends career, she created an original series, “Rules of Cool,” which she was able to sell.

    “Creating your own work is very important,” she said. “When you get out of school you’re not sure what to do next. We decided to take control and create our own opportunities.”

    Cooke provided invaluable insight into the casting process, breaking down the process and providing tips and suggestions to improve NYFA Acting for Film students’ auditions.

    “Auditions are like a first date,” said Cooke. “Act natural, but if it doesn’t work out there’s always someone else. Always take a chance and always listen to what they have to say. Always be appropriate for what the role is. Look appropriate for what you’re doing.”

    NYFA would like to thank Ms Cooke for taking the time to speak to our students, and we wish her the best of luck on her blossoming career!

    May 18, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1128

  • NYFA Launches New Mumbai, India Location

    With the every-growing popularity and tremendous interest in cinema in India, the New York Film Academy is thrilled to announce its newest Mumbai location, which welcomed its first group of filmmaking and acting students.

    nyfa mumbai

    NYFA Kitty Koo with film and acting students at NYFA Mumbai

    Located in the heart of the world’s largest film industry and the home of Bollywood, NYFA Mumbai offers both an 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop and a 4-Week Acting for Film Workshop. The workshops are held at the Urmi Estate (95 Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel [West] Mumbai, Maharashtra 400 013, India).

    “The New York Film Academy turns 25 years old this year, and we’re thrilled to add this beautiful new location in Mumbai to the global NYFA family,” said Kitty Koo, NYFA Vice President – Mumbai, India. “There is no place better than Mumbai, India — the land of Bollywood.”

    Similar to its core curriculum, the Mumbai Filmmaking Workshop focus on learning in a hands-on film environment, where students will have the opportunity to make a fully-realized final film. The Acting for Film Workshop provides students with a strong foundation of acting skills with a specific focus on the basic elements of the craft of acting using Stanislavski’s System, scene study, and monologue work as starting points. Students also participate in courses aimed specifically at training the actor for the technical requirements of acting on a film set.

    mumbai

    NYFA Acting for Film Associate Chair Peter Stone with Acting for Film students at NYFA Mumbai

    “We’re proud to bring our innovative film and acting for film programs to Mumbai, India, an epicenter for world cinema,” added NYFA President Michael Young. “We look forward to teaching a whole new generation of Indian filmmakers and actors.”

    As those who have taken a workshop with NYFA know, the workload is intensive, meaning students must be prepared to live and breathe the program during their enrollment.

    “Taking that experience from NYFA, I was able to act as a major supporting role in ‘Baahubali’,” said NYFA alumnus Rakesh Varre, who plays Setu Patti in “Baahubali: The Conclusion.” The film has become the highest grossest Indian film in history, and has even been impressive in the North American market.

    For those interested in studying in Mumbai, please visit www.nyfa.edu/mumbai for more information.

    May 15, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Study Abroad • Views: 1716

  • Virtual Reality School Highlights at New York Film Academy

    Last month the inaugural 8-Week Virtual Reality students showcased their final projects in conclusion with their graduation. Students and faculty were able to experience student work through interactive stories and games, which captured everything from Central Park to a virtual beer pong game.
    vr students

    Carlos Cruz, who worked for more than fifteen years in video production in Brazil, came to NYFA to learn about the emerging VR technology. “It was a great opportunity to come to NYFA,” said Cruz. “To study here was like a dream.” Cruz’s project allowed us to explore a blossoming relationship which began as an accidental encounter in Grand Central Station.

    “I find VR absolutely captivating as a medium,” added Catherine Dionne Henry, a NYFA VR student who is a native New Yorker. “We are at the forefront of a technological transition and I feel that this is a very exciting medium to be in.”

    Henry’s final project “Welcome to Harlem USA!” captures the legacy and culture of Harlem, which she says is a neighborhood in a period of transition and change.

    The projects were all impressive, making the 8-Week program a huge success. The Academy looks forward to its next batch of VR pioneers and wishes the best of luck to its recent graduates.

    In VR Faculty news, NYFA VR instructor Caitlin Burns headed a panel discussion on Virtual Reality at the Las Vegas Convention Center on April 23. Burns and other panelists tackled questions as to whether the technologies will be around for the long run and explored how to use and take advantage of the growing technologies, uncover how the experiences will look down the road, and the potential revenue strategies.

    Currently serving as Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council, Burns has spent a decade working with narrative intellectual property franchises, independent artists, brands and philanthropic initiatives. Developing content strategies, overseeing multiplatform storyworlds and supervising localization campaigns spanning the globe, she understands what it takes to create a success story.

    Her past work includes: “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Disney Fairies,” “Tron Legacy” and “Disney Descendants” for The Walt Disney Company, James Cameron’s “Avatar” for Fox, “Halo” for Microsoft, “The Happiness Factory” for The Coca-Cola Company, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for Nickelodeon and “Transformers” for Hasbro.

    She has also worked with Sony, Showtime, Pepperidge Farm, Scholastic, Tribeca New Media Fund, FEMSA, Diageo, Wieden+Kennedy, Odd Division, Tool of North America, Hush, Campfire, Reebok, Stratasys and UNICEF. Her independent feature McCarren Park, a film distributed by geolocated mobile app, premiered at the Tribeca Film Institute’s Interactive Day and screened at New York Film Festival.

    Burns will soon be heading a panel discussion on VR in New Zealand as well as introducing the technology to a group of Maori children.

    May 12, 2017 • Filmmaking, Game Design • Views: 1385

  • NYFA Screenwriting Instructors Release New Comic Miniseries “Dragon Age: Knight Errant”

    dragon ageChair of the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Screenwriting Department (and Dean of Faculty) Nunzio DeFilippis and his wife/writing partner Christina Weir, who is also an instructor at NYFA, have a new comic book miniseries which just launched on Wednesday, May 10th!

    “Dragon Age: Knight Errant” is a comic miniseries that ties into the story world of Bioware’s award-winning fantasy game series “Dragon Age.”  Set after the events of the last game, “Dragon Age: Inquisition, Knight Errant” is the tale of a drunken washed up Knight, Ser Aaron Hawthorne, and his elven Squire Vaea. Vaea is more than she appears — a thief who uses Ser Aaron’s travels to roam the world and steal high value artifacts. When a job goes wrong and pulls her into a larger Inquisition operation, she’s in danger of having her Knight (and meal ticket) find out the truth.

    The miniseries launches with Issue 1, on sale in comic shops across the country on May 10th.

    Nunzio and Christina recently appeared on NYFA Games’ Twitch channel to talk about this book, their careers, comics and games. The team discuss their newest miniseries, as well as their writing career which includes numerous comic books, television shows, movies and video games.
    Watch live video from NYFA_Games on www.twitch.tv

    May 11, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1175

  • NYFA Photography Alumna’s “Living Shape” Selected by the Prestigious Florence Biennale

    Zhuoqun Jiang

    photo by Zhuoqun Jiang

    New York Film Academy Photography School alumna Zhuoqun Jiang’s photography work, “Living Shape,” has been selected by the Florence Biennale. The Florence Biennale is the major contemporary art exhibition in Florence (Italy), where it is regarded as an outstanding showcase of the international contemporary art production. Every two years the Florence Biennale enlivens the Medicean city with a program of collateral events such as conferences, displays, performances, workshops and lectures. All this with a view to offer artists and their audience the opportunity to engage with art and culture, and know more about the theme of each edition of the biennial.

    Originally from China, Jiang moved to NY to attend Photography School at NYFA, where she created this piece as her first year final project. She then moved on to her MFA in Photography at NYFA Los Angeles.

    “This piece was created to show my respect of life,” says Jiang. “I am a minimalist, and I think the most simple thing carries the greatest power. The triangle represents strength and the color means growing and blooming of life. I handmade the costume as a soft sculpture and asked a model to dress it up.”

    Jiang says she was always encouraged by her instructors to create and explore new ideas and concepts. “The skills I learned at NYFA made me confident to face any problem while shooting my projects,” she added.

    Jiang has experience in many fields of art; her work consists of sculptural, fashion based, fiber art and photo illustrations. They can be exhibited both as photographs and individual pieces. Her current focus is on exploring the artistic expression through craft, sculpture and photography.

    The Florence Biennale 2017 will be held October 6th – 15th at Fortezza da Basso, Florence.

    May 10, 2017 • Photography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1180