Tillery shared that the Fellows Program holds a special place in her heart: “It is particularly inspiring to welcome students to the festival. Through the Fellows Program, we strive to create a forum for up-and-coming artists to connect with content, filmmakers, and each other.”
Four lucky NYFA documentary filmmaking students got to attend the renowned Full Frame Documentary Film Festival as fellows this spring.The festival is distinguished from most major festivals by its laid back atmosphere. There’s a lot more hanging out and talking film, which creates a refreshing creative atmosphere.Even so, there were plenty of documentary bigwigs present, who made themselves very accessible to the student fellows.On the first day, festival Artistic Director Sadie Tillery invited them to have lunch with Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) and discuss his new doc, “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.” Later, she invited them to join her again for a special master class with Peter Nicks focused on his new doc, “The Force.”Tillery also hooked the fellows up with a specially curated program of films, many of which were in such high demand students wouldn’t have gotten in on their own.
The New York Film Academy’s Community Outreach Program has been around since 2012, forging partnerships that have included The British Academy of Film and Television Arts – Los Angeles, HandsforHopeLA, AmeriCorps, Young Storytellers, and the Bill Duke Media Foundation. NYFA’s Community Outreach Program has managed to teach fundamentals of filmmaking to students in a Los Angels Unified school district, students who typically don’t have access and who are from underserved communities. What they have in store NEXT will elevate their already commendable level of service education.
It is the goal of Community Outreach to not just educate, but to encourage students to tell their story from their perspective. This goal is achieved in a variety of ways. Here’s what’s been happening lately in NYFA’s Community Outreach Program:
With the AmeriCorps, Program Head of Outreach Mason Richards took NYFA Instructor Bart Mastrodoni and three cameras to a local high school. The challenge presented to the student was to write, direct, and edit a short film in a single day.
Bill Duke Media Foundation
Most teens have asked the question, “Who am I?” With the Bill Duke Media Foundation partnership and NYFA, students were asked this very question and challenged to create an answer on film. The goal was to help them get comfortable with telling their own stories. They made a short film exploring that query on the Universal Backlot that screened for their families at their graduation.
Students involved in the Young Storytellers Program were given the opportunity to film on the Universal Backlot. Learning from instructors and teacher’s assistants, the kids formed teams and filmed several projects on the Western lot.
HandsForHopeLA is an after-school program for children living in a single parent home. They teamed with NYFA to create a PSA on texting and driving. Students involved with this program created an anti texting and driving PSA. Families of the students were able to see the final product.
Through NYFA’s Community Outreach Program and partnerships, some students discover a future hobby and some discover a potential career. It is these career-minded students, the ones who arrive early and stay late, the ones excited to work on other peoples projects, the students eager to come back to NYFA for whom The NEXT Young Filmmaker Program was created.
NYFA’s NEXT Young Filmmaker Program
The NEXT Young Filmmaker Program is the “advanced outreach” program offering hosted by the NYFA Office of Community Outreach. Select students who have already participated in one of our Community Outreach Partner programs have an opportunity to go a step further in learning the filmmaking process with the NEXT Young Filmmakers Outreach Program, and learn supporting roles and crew positions in the film industry beyond directing and acting.
Head of Community Outreach Mason Richards said of the program, “We’ve found that most young filmmakers are only taught key positions in film production such as ‘director’ or ‘actor.’ We strive to show them what else is out there as far as careers in filmmaking.”
He continued, “We at NYFA feel that there are multiple ways to prepare young people for a career in cinema, and being a part of a team, working on skills of collaboration, team-building and communication are integral to the craft of filmmaking.”
The hope of the NEXT Young Filmmakers Outreach Program is to offer an opportunity for select LA high school students to receive a scholarship to participate in our advanced filmmaking program. Those selected will participate in a one-week workshop at the end of the summer when there are fewer opportunities for students from underserved communities until school is back in session.
In our week-long filmmaking program, we teach these talented young filmmakers advanced classes in lighting, production design, production sound, and assistant directing training. The aim is to keep the students who are engaged and serious about a career in filmmaking on a track to prepare them for college.
This is also a way for them to develop their personal voices as storytellers and filmmakers. In the NEXT Young Filmmakers program, 12 outstanding students will have the opportunity to work with NYFA faculty to further explore their paths in filmmaking.
The first NEXT Young Filmmaker’s Program will begin in August. The New York Film Academy would like to wish the students a successful semester.
On Thursday, July 6, New York Film Academy Instructor and Documentarian Heather Mathews sat in the hot seat on Popcorn Talk’s NYFA Hour. She spoke about her latest project, “Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America.” The film has been making waves since screening at Outfest last July. Since then, LOGO picked up the film for a special screening.
Director Tiffany Rhynard had been filming for two years already. Rhynard met the film’s subject, Moises Serrano, by chance when collaborating with a friend, and instantly felt a connection.
Serrano’s harrowing story as an undocumented immigrant was one that needed to be shared with the rest of the world. The fact that Serrano was also queer and DOMA was still in effect helped bring an eye to the intersectionality many undocumented people have to face daily.
When Mathews heard about Serrano, she instantly knew she wanted to be a part of telling his story and signed on to edit the project. Her first task was to try and figure out the best format to tell the story, but the decision to do a feature or a television show wasn’t clear immediately.”We didn’t know what it would be until I was deep into watching footage,” Mathews explained, “About two months, when I realized it would make a feature.”
“We picture-locked just in time for Outfest,” Mathews began. “Right before Tiffany arrived I had lunch with David Michael Barrett, a really good queer filmmaker. We were trying to remain positive and stay out of the [political] fray, but he sat me down and had a real heart-to-heart with me.”
Mathews pitched an idea to Rhynard and the powerful intro to the film, of a recent anti-immigration, rally was born.
To watch the NYFA Hour tune into Popcorn Talk on YouTube every Thursday at 4 p.m. PST. You can catch up on previous episodes with amazing guests like film critic Peter Rainer, who discussed the legacy of Marlon Brando. Catch “Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America” on LOGO, August 3, 9 p.m. EST/PST.
There are certain themes that I return to again and again. One of them — which current and former students will quickly recognize — is “I have seen the future, and it is on the phone.” Mobile phone, that is. The latest evidence comes from the BBC, as it prioritizes full motion video in its news app. Studies have shown that post engagement soars when you include video. This is a great time to be studying Broadcast Journalism, as we specialize in creating short-form, non-fiction video. You can’t find a more relevant course of study. Not so long ago, the BBC redesigned all of its websites in order to optimize them for mobile.
And speaking of the NYFA Broadcast Journalism course of study, a skill we put a great deal of emphasis on is the ability to conduct effective interviews. Getting the right “sound bite” takes one approach, while asking someone to speak directly “from the heart” is something else entirely. One of my favorite interviewers is Audie Cornish, who is an anchor/correspondent for NPR. (Formerly National Public Radio, but they changed their name to simply NPR so they didn’t seem wedded to a dinosaur technology. Personally, I love radio. But that’s another story…)
The Columbia Journalism Review is doing a series on interviewing, and the most recent edition features Audie Cornish. (I’ll have more to say about Columbia University a little later.)
Being a journalist isn’t easy. But some of the people who practice our craft are literally risking their lives to deliver the news. Wired posted an article about a journalist who is “defying ISIS one video at a time.” It is a tremendous read. Yes, it is an old-fashioned “article.” But don’t let that put you off. There are important themes discussed here. And while most of us never have to make the sacrifices that the journalist being profiled regularly endures, inevitably during the course of your career you will be asked to make difficult decisions. The question is: What will you do?
So perhaps you were watching the National Geographic cable channel last night. The evening was called “Earth Live,” and it was a real-time, worldwide exploration of the planet’s wildlife. Absolutely amazing! Equally amazing, there were about 50 music segments in this “live” program, all of which were skillfully integrated by NYFA’s own Joel Spector. Joel is the audio wiz behind NYFA News, and he has been with the program since it started. We are incredibly lucky to have Joel, and he asked me to pass along a message to our current students: “Don’t over-modulate your audio! You can’t fix that in post-production!”
OK … He really didn’t ask me to say that. But if he did request me to say something, it would likely be somewhat similar. Our graduates can attest to that.
Arrivals and departures are an essential aspect of our craft, and this week I announce the departure of our personal journalism instructor, Thor Neureiter. Thor worked with the Fall 2016 1-year students along with the Spring 2017 1-year class, and he did an outstanding job. How “outstanding”? So outstanding that he has been hired by Columbia University to direct their Video Journalism program. It is a great opportunity for Thor, though we will miss him. (And I still think, if you want to become a multimedia journalist, NYFA is the place to go.)
That’s Thor below, with a fellow attendee at the (non-alcoholic) “toast” following the graduation of the Fall 2016 1-year Broadcast Journalism students. And its a good thing that glass is filled with seltzer, as some of the other attendees were a bit on the young side. (Look carefully…)Good luck, Thor…Meanwhile, NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate Christian Good continues his “world video tour,” this time shooting in Reykjavik, Iceland. And once again, he faces the difficult task of figuring out how to say “Good Morning” to the locals. “Góðan daginn, or something,” he writes.
On Saturday, July 1, teens and tweens participating in the New York Film Academy Summer Camp in Los Angeles took a break from the hard work of filmmaking to see a summer blockbuster classic. “Top Gun” was screening in the field at the Autry Museum.
Usually, the students are hard at work developing their film projects. Most days, they are learning the difference between camera lens sizes, rehearsing a new acting technique, experimenting with the latest 3D technology, revising a script or shooting on a professional backlot. On this night, however, their hard work was rewarded with a special screening.
This screening was unique because it was surrounded by some of the top food trucks in Los Angeles. For many of the students, this was the first time they had seen a movie under the stars. The combination of live music and multicultural food trucks made the night an event.
The New York Film Academy is proud of the great strides out Summer Camp students are making and hope their night off was a fun one.
In keeping with the New York Film Academy’s international community spirit, around 70 students and staff from New York Film Academy Gold Coast celebrated the American holiday 4th of July, at the Southport Campus.
Acting and filmmaking students from all intakes came together with the 1-week teen campers to celebrate this all-American themed event.
The celebrations also fell on orientation day for the July 2017 actors, filmmakers and screenwriters, who joined the festivities, as they were welcomed to NYFA Australia.
Students and staff partied to all of the great American songs while indulging in hot dogs, snow cones and an array of red, white and blue candy. Students also had fun posing at the American-themed photo booth and tested their knowledge on a 4th of July Quiz.
And, to connect the American celebrations to a universal love for film, the movie “Independence Day” was screened at the on-campus theatre for students to enjoy.
Campus Manager DJ Stonier said of the event: “The students and staff all in attendance had a blast and it was wonderful to see everyone enjoying each others company. It’s important to celebrate significant events that bring staff and students together that are also equally important across our campuses globally. At NYFA Australia our philosophy is to create a sense of belonging, community and celebration, both within and outside of the academic realm.”
January 2017 Diploma Acting student Evelyn Dolan said, “Wow, it was so amazing to be part of this celebration for all of the students and the Academy. I can’t wait until next year’s.”
Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond Screens His Classic “The Man Who Fell to Earth” At NYFA Los Angeles
On Monday, June 26 New York Film Academy students were treated to a star-studded screening. NYFA’s Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond screened his classic film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” The film’s leading lady Candy Clark joined him for the discussion of one of David Bowie’s most popular films.
Directed by Nicolas Roeg,“The Man Who Fell to Earth“ is about an alien (Bowie) trying to save his planet by siphoning water off of Earth. To do so, he assumes the identity of Thomas Jerome Newton, starts a billion dollar company, and moves in with Mary-Lou (Clark). But the creature could not predict the cruelty of business done here on Earth and soon must face the consequences.
Film critic and frequent NYFA collaborator Peter Rainer hosted the Q and A. Rainer kicked off the evening by enquiring about working with the renowned director and frequent collaborator of Richmond, Nicholas Roeg.
Landing the lead male role for any film can be difficult. Roeg originally had someone else in mind for the role. As Richmond shared, “Nick’s first choice was Michael Crichton. He was very tall. He was going to do it and then pulled out. The whole thing kind of fell apart. Then Nick saw ‘Cracked Actor,’ a documentary on David Bowie on the television. They scheduled a meet-up. Bowie kept him waiting for about six hours, eventually said he would do it, and then we were off and running.”
Many perceive “The Man Who Fell to Earth“ to be a science fiction film. According to Rainer, this is not the case: The themes are much more closely related to a family drama. This weird blend of genres along with the magnetism of superstar David Bowie at the helm the film led to the creation of a hit. But, as actress Candy Clark told students, not everyone thought that success would translate.
“It’s a two hour and twenty-three-minute movie,” Clark began. “Donald Rugoff, head of Cinema 5 at the time, was like Harvey Weinstein. He had a reputation for putting out art house films that exemplified the director’s vision. But with this film, he started seeing dollars. Nick Rogue and Graeme Clifford had spent a year and a half meticulously cutting this film, piece by piece. Rugoff got a hold of it. Despite his reputation, he decided to cut twenty-three minute. He hired a guy who cuts commercials. This film took a year to cut. The new guy did it in a week. He just willy-nilly took out stuff.”
While touring to promote the film, Clark saw the fist American cut of the film. She called Nick immediately after, but the damage was done. “Years later I called up Cinema 5. I pitched this big lie that I was getting asked about the film all of the time.” Clark then convinced them to release the original cut of the film, saying she told them, “You don’t have to spend any money. Just take the original poster and add a banner with the word: uncut. I’ll promote it any way you want … As a result, the American cut has dwindled to the wayside. All that is seen now is the director’s cut. It’s now out on Criterion. I never gave up on this film.”
During the Q and A, one student asked how Richmond planned so many of the daytime shots to get the light just right.
Richmond revealed, “I would like to say that I did it. But I was so, so lucky with the sky. Every time we did some vast exterior there would be this incredible sky. The scene with the cottage, for instance, that cloud hung over the cottage all day. It never moved. I went back to Mexico and I was going through this little town and I felt like I’d been there. Now, it’s a huge artist commune.” The location holds artistic magic.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tony Richmond and Candy Clark for sharing their experiences with our students. We would also like to thank Peter Rainer for hosting the night’s festivities. The 4k restoration of “The Man Who Fell to Earth“ is now available everywhere Blu-Rays are sold. Rainer’s book “Rainer on Film” is also available for sale on Amazon.
On Thursday, June 23, Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development Barbara Weintraub held her annual Talent Meet and Greet. The event serves as a giant casting call exclusive to New York Film Academy acting for film students.
Actors were encouraged to prepare their pitches and research each agency before they arrived. At 7 p.m. students began lining up in the lobby of the Riverside building, head shots and resumes in hand.
Agents from Moving Pictures Artists, Brady, Brannon and Rich, Coast to Coast Talent, Debra Manners Talent Management, Ideal Talent, and Prodigy Talent were ready to receive the students. Agents from the Daniel Hoff Agency said they wouldn’t be surprised to find new talent at NYFA: “We had someone come last year. We knew we would be coming back.”
Weintraub said of the evening, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our acting alumni to find representation and help further their careers after graduating.”
After making her way around the tables, Gina Powerless joked that she had been a little nervous at first but at the end of the night, she was singing a different tune. Powerless felt she was well received and hoped to get a phone call shortly.
The next day, students were getting appointments. Laura “Fernada” Ruiz Niebla said, “I have a meeting Wednesday next week with Jean Marc from Central artists. Thank you for the opportunity and looking forward to seeing you soon.” Lucia O’Brien heard from Moving Pictures Artists the following morning, and Nuria “Nunu” Vega was contacted by Renee at the Daniel Hoff Agency. She has since been signed.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank the agencies and organizations that helped make this event so special and wish a heartfelt good luck to each of our students in their search for representation.
Miami, Florida is a paradise that is not only brimming with creativity, but is also a thriving center for business-savvy professionals. As a part of this diverse and bustling community, the New York Film Academy’s South Beach campus is honored to have had the opportunity to co-sponsor June’s The Best of Miami event.
The party had a line that wrapped around the Museum entrance. Everyone from the “who’s who” of Miami was anticipating the event, which included vendors from all over Miami. Each of the six floors of the Frost Museum had something exciting going on, and the New York Film Academy South Beach was happy to join in on the festivities as a co-sponsor. NYFA’s booth was situated inside the planetarium where the attendees were able to mingle amongst the stars.
On the same floor just across the way located inside what is known as their Deep Aquarium a DJ was spinning tracks while attendees from the diverse crowd broke it down on the dance floor. Above the dance floor was the deepest part of the aquarium that hung low nearly able to touch by an outstretched hand. A few doors down was a minimally lit room with columns of jellyfish swimming around lighting up the room in a natural artistic manner.
NYFA’s guests of honor included Acting for Film Chair Mark Mochabee, Filmmaking Chair Maylen Dominguez, and Program Coordinator Laura Gasperini. Although the event was filled with tons to do, the New York Film Academy carved out its own niche in the planetarium. The top floor of the aquarium was open for the attendees to pet a live stingray while they swiftly swam by.
One of the most memorable aspects of this event was the skyline, a filmmakers dream; surrounded by water with a backdrop of Brickell on one side and downtown Miami on the other.
Miami New Times made a wave with this event, finding the perfect and newest venue in Miami to throw a spectacular party. The New York Film Academy was able to make its presence in South Beach known while enjoying the fun of the event, which reminded every attendee of Miami’s motto: “We live where you vacation.”
On June 24, The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) Veteran Services Department was fortunate to collaborate with Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) to host a daylong exclusive employment workshop for NYFA’s veteran students. The NYFA military students also benefited from one-on-one time with the Transition Specialists from HHUSA.Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, assisting veterans and spouses with finding employment.
The first half of the eight-hour workshop was a practicum related to resume theory, networking techniques, and how to affectively prepare for an interview. Representatives from Hire Heroes USA, Jamie Rimphanli and Walter Serrano, coached veteran students on how to properly format their resumes and discussed, in-depth, the importance of networking and how to prepare for a job interview.
For the second half of the workshop, industry professionals from Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Legendary Entertainment, and Plan A Locations joined the workshop for a moderated Q&A panel discussion. Panelists discussed how they began their careers in the entertainment industry and how they’ve navigated their careers for success.
Highlights from the day included an exercise that had all of the participants do a speed networking session. Also, HHUSA brought a photographer who took professional head shots for the veteran students’ LinkedIn pages.
“We felt that this training and these types of vet student-centric activities are increasingly important because they help prepare our students to meet with HR/Talent Acquisition teams from the major studios,” explained NYFA Director of Veterans Services Department John Powers.
Retired Army veteran and MFA cinematography student Bryan Hudson stated, “The Hire Heroes USA workshop was a fantastic forum to introduce veterans with industry insiders and provide the opportunity to learn from them. The event was beneficial to everyone involved about learning the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the interview process and how to break into the entertainment industry. One thing that I learned from the workshop is to establish relationships that will be beneficial to both parties. Thank you to the NYFA Veterans Department for putting on this marvelous event, and I hope that this will be the first of many events with Hire Heroes USA.”
The NYFA Veteran Services Department is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for partnering with us to bring this wonderful opportunity to NYFA veteran students.