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  • New York Film Academy Instructors Selected for Sundance Documentary Labs

    In a world where social media has inspired millions to document their everyday lives, it becomes more and more important to recognize the exceptional craftsmanship and diligence of professional documentary filmmakers. Few accolades and distinctions have quite the power to delineate excellence as selection and participation at the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Edit and Story Labs.

    This June, the New York Film Academy is proud to celebrate the achievement of our own Documentary Editing Instructor Kristen Nutile, editor of  the film “Warrior Women,” which has been selected for this summer’s Sundance Documentary Labs. Directed by Christina King and Dr. Elizabeth A. Castle, “Warrior Women” follows Madonna Thunder Hawk and her daughter Marcella Gilbert, a civil rights-crusading Lakota team, through the grassroots protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline, also known as #NoDAPL, in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

    Warrior Women_1

    Madonna Thunder Hawk and her daughter Marcella Gilbert, of the film “Warrior Women.” Photo by John Larson.

    “Sundance is, of course the gold standard in the film world,” explains New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking Department Chair Andrea Swift. “They select very few films for their prestigious Labs, films they believe will be important and among the best of the best. Of course we already knew Kristen belonged in that category and are thrilled that NYFA’s Documentary Filmmakers work with her and faculty of her caliber everyday.”

    Acceptance into the Sundance Documentary Labs is not only one of the independent film industry’s most prestigious honors; it is also a resource, providing filmmakers with an opportunity to continue to develop and deepen their projects during post-production in a richly exploratory and dynamic creative space at the Sundance Mountain Resort. The Sundance Institute website explains, “DFP Creative Labs are unique, artist focused residential retreats that bring together a community of world-class documentary directors, editors and producers from around the world.”

    Kristen Nutile is quick to point to the collaborative nature of this work and applaud the directors of the film: “This is a film that I’m very honored to be working on. But, it’s the directors’ film and that success is really all theirs!”

    The New York Film Academy also congratulates two of our Master Class instructors, who have also been selected as directors at the Sundance Labs: Petra Costa (“Impeachment”) and Marilyn Ness (“Charm City”).

    Stay tuned to hear more about “Warrior Women” at Sundance Labs from NYFA Instructor Kristen Nutile, coming soon.

    June 21, 2017 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals • Views: 1911

  • NYFA’s Bill Duke Directs Legal Drama “Created Equal”

    Bill Duke

    Bill Duke

    New York Film Academy instructor Bill Duke, who has an extensive background in acting and filmmaking, returned to the directing chair in his upcoming legal drama, “Created Equal.” Duke is coming off of directing the documentary “Dark Girls,” which premiered on OWN in June 2013 and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

    The script was written by Ned Bowman, Michael Ricigliano Jr., and Joyce Renee Lewis. The film was produced by Thada Catalon of T-Cat Films. The film will star Aaron Tveit as the lawyer opposite Edy Ganem (“Devious Maids”) as the female lead, along with Lou Diamond Phillips (“Longmire”) and Greg Alan Williams (“Greenleaf”).

    In a world where gender equality remains a critical issue, this controversial film doesn’t set out to challenge the Catholic Church doctrine, but asks a very modern question: Should women be allowed into seminaries to study for the priesthood?

    “Created Equal” is based on a novel written by Roger A. Brown —who is also serving as executive producer on the film. Duke’s film sheds light on a delicate issue, women becoming priests — Alejandra Batista (Edy Ganem) is a devoted Catholic who feels the calling to become a priest. Because the Catholic Church law forbids women from entering the seminary, Allie files suit against the Archdiocese of New Orleans for sex discrimination without justifiable cause with the help of a young and successful attorney, Tommy Reilly (Aaron Tveit). As Allie’s case starts to make headlines both she and Tommy face serious backlash from the people in their lives. As the trial unfolds an extremist concocts a plot to stop the heresy against the church by attacking Alejandra and threatening to kill her if she doesn’t back off.

    The film will premiere at the American Black Film Festival.

    June 13, 2017 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 4285

  • NYFA’s Eric Conner Honored at Burbank Leadership Program

    New York Film Academy instructor and NYFA Podcast Host Eric Conner was recently honored as a graduate of the Burbank Leadership Program. The Mission of Leadership Burbank is to identify, educate, and motivate current and emerging leaders in Burbank to develop ideas and solutions that make Burbank a strong, sustainable and vibrant community.

    Conner recently stepped down as Dean to spend more time with his growing family. “This was something a little bit different. I wanted to serve the whole community not just a piece of it,” said Conner.

    eric conner

    As a citizen of Burbank, he began looking around and seeing an opportunities to connect more with the community. As VP of Education for the Temple Emanu El, he started building relationships with individual citizens. Conner MC’d the platinum anniversary, which included esteemed guests U.S. Representative Adam Shiff, Senator Anthony Portantino, Former Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes, and Councilman Bob Frutos.

    Leadership Burbank was, in essence, a class. I’ve taken classes once a month since September. The class was two-dozen people representing the Police Department, Fire Department, Clergy, local school district, and Salvation Army. A veterinarian, it’s a cross section of Burbank.

    burbank leadership

    “I think what they’re trying to do is cultivate the next batch of civil leaders. For me, since I grew up in Delaware, which is so small, it didn’t take much to get involved in things. Delaware has one congressman and my mother was his treasurer. She helped raise money for a retirement board while still working a full-time job.” Community Outreach runs in Conner’s blood.

    Classes were held all over town including the Burbank airport and churches in order to introduce members to key organizations in Burbank. “There are so many elements of an airport that you don’t think about until you’re in there,” Conner stated. A few years ago there was an accident at the airport. A plane skidded off the runway and through a gate. “We studied what changes were made to make the airport safer. I really liked that class.”

    Part of his leadership included building a Wellness Center for Burrow’s High School. “The Wellness Center is a place where high school students with mental health issues, gender identity issues, anxiety, or depression can congregate and seek help. The space is conducive to helping mental health victims through art therapy.”

    The New York Film Academy donated Summer Camp experiences to both the Emanu El 75th Anniversary Celebration and the Gala to support the Wellness Center. Conner was touched at the gesture. “This is something I sought on my own. To have NYFA to two separate organizations was really cool. The school’s been doing a lot to connect to the community.”

    Conner intends to use the lessons learned from this course to one day apply for a cabinet seat or chair a board in the near future. “Burbank has its foot in Mayberry. There are two VCR repair shops within walking distance of my house and they advertise themselves that way. Burbank Leadership is trying to push and expand Burbank. These are things I’ve started to think about after I became a homeowner here.”

    May 31, 2017 • Faculty Highlights • Views: 1461

  • NYFA LA Chair Tony Richmond Interviewed by Cineaste

    New York Film Academy Los Angeles Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond recently discussed his long-standing career as well as the new 4k digital restoration of “The Man Who Fell to Earth” with Cineaste, a leading magazine on the art and politics of cinema.

    cineaste

    Beginning with his first gig as a news runner on London’s Wardour Street, Richmond chronicles his rise in the business. Early in his career, Richmond had the extraordinary opportunity to work with Jean-Luc Godard on “One Plus One” (“Sympathy for the Devil”), followed by three groundbreaking films for Nicholas Roeg, including “Don’t Look Now,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” and “Bad Timing,” among many other films.

    “The greatest thing about Godard, for me, and this has resonated throughout my career, is that, as he once said, movies have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order,” said Richmond about his work with Godard. “I think that’s fantastic…bloody fantastic!”

    As to his work with director Nicholas Roeg, Richmond said, “The cinematographer’s job is to put the director’s vision on the screen and maybe enhance it. But Nic has a very strong vision for the movie. What I’ve always found is that as a cameraman, or as a cinematographer as we’re called, we want to learn from the director exactly how he wants his movie to look, feel, and smell. Some of them know what they want, but they can’t put those feelings into works, whereas Nic can.”

    cineaste

    To date, Richmond has worked as a cinematographer on more than ninety films from all genres, including “Men of Honor,” “Candyman,” Legally Blonde,” “Dumb and Dumberer,” and recently completed “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” with NYFA alumnus Jeremy Harris working as his personal assistant on the film.

    Having worked on a variety of genres, Richmond says he has now reached a point in his career where he will only work with friends. He’s currently working on a movie a year while serving as the Chair of NYFA LA Cinematography.

    “It’s wonderful watching these new kids coming up,” said Richmond in his interview with Cineaste.“

    Richmond will be heading east to NYFA’s New York location for an exclusive Cinematography Master Class on June 16, 2017.

    May 30, 2017 • Cinematography, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1480

  • NYFA Hour with Acting for Film Chair Lynda Goodfriend

    New York Film Academy Hour on Popcorn Talk recently featured New York Film Academy Los Angeles Chair of Acting for Film Lynda Goodfriend, who shared her experience working on the iconic American Television Show “Happy Days,” as well as making the shift from actress to talent manager, and what inspired her to teach.

    lynda goodfriend

    One of the best stories Goodfriend shared was how she helped Robin Williams get his start in the industry. Williams and Goodfriend were in an improv class together. “He was either great or he was terrible,” Goodfriend said of watching an early and unpolished Williams leave it all on the stage. His talent was apparent but he never stayed on script, a large faux pas in television, where the writer is king.

    Goodfriend saw an opportunity to help the struggling actor when “Happy Days” was having trouble casting a new frazzled alien character, Mork. “We were shooting the scene on Friday. It was Wednesday and we still hadn’t cast the role.” She told the producers about Williams and his wild and hysterical performances.

    “He came in for the audition. He didn’t stay on book but what he brought to the performance was even better than what was on the page. He was booked immediately.” The role led to a spin-off series that launched Williams into superstardom, and the rest is history.

    To watch the NYFA Hour tune into Popcorn Talk on YouTube every Thursday at 4:00 PM PT. You can catch up on previous episodes with amazing guests like film critic Peter Rainer, who discussed the legacy of Marlon Brando.

    May 24, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1478

  • 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: 1087

  • 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: 1365

  • NYFA Instructor Scott Rogers to Create “Rayguns and Rocketships” Game

    New York Film Academy Game Design Instructor Scott Rogers is bringing his two great loves of classic sci-fi cinema and gaming together for his next project “Rayguns and Rocketships.”

    Described as “an inventive dual-scale miniature board game for 2-4 players that takes place in the golden-ago of Sci-Fi space operas,” the game promises hours of fun for fans of role-playing and strategy games.

    Rogers debuted the game on the New York Film Academy’s Twitch Stream. He demonstrated how to play through the game, premiered characters like the Space Pirates and Astro Rangers.

    Have a look at Rogers’ Kickstarter campaign below, which has already surpassed his goal!

    May 3, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Game Design • Views: 1387

  • NYFA Photography Instructor Chris Knight Listed on Profoto’s “Legends of Light”

    Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, New York Film Academy Photography Instructor Chris Knight’s work has appeared in Vogue, People, MSNBC, ABC, Ocean Drive, GQ and others. Knight says photography started as a hobby for him until it became compulsive.

    “It was something that appealed to me in a lot of different ways — technically and creatively,” he says. “Once I had a few years under my belt, part-time, I figured ‘why not?’ and dove head first. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into, but somehow managed to come out okay on the other side. I consider myself very lucky that I am able to work in a field that is my passion and fulfills me creatively.”

    Chris Knight

    Chris Knight

    Knight is the recent author of the book, “The Dramatic Portrait.” The book is a photography education book that talks about the techniques and creative use of lighting, styling, retouching, and developing your own personal creativity.

    “It was something of a bucket list item for me,” said Knight. “I had always wanted to write a book and about a year ago had the opportunity to do so. It has been a labor of love for about a year, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to release it.”

    Knight also recently completed his work with RGG EDU (rggedu.com), which is a video tutorial / documentary that covers the process of him creating and photographing three different shoots. “It’s a companion piece to the book, and the images I made for it are some of my favorite I’ve ever done,” said Knight.

    Chris Knight

    photo by Chris Knight

    Given his work, book, and teaching, Knight has been named one of Profoto’s “Legends of Light,” which honors photographers’ outstanding skills and contributions to the professional American photographic community. “Just being placed on a list with people I’ve had tremendous respect and admiration for over the years is incredibly humbling,” said Knight.

    “Don’t underestimate the power of time, patience, and hard work,” Knight advises his students and aspiring photographers. “It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting everything to happen quickly, but sometimes the process is a significantly longer one. Use that time as a way to continue developing your personal voice. Once your stumble on what is uniquely you, more opportunities will present themselves and you’ll be happier with the ones that do. Go above and beyond (without being asked) and have a positive attitude about it. Being a working creative is hard. Those that are strong self-motivators are always the most successful. When you’re your own boss, you don’t have someone telling you what to do, so learn to take the initiative for yourself.”

    For more of Knight’s work, visit chrisknightphoto.com or on Instagram at @chrisknightphoto. “The Dramatic Portrait” is available for pre-order on Amazon in paperback or ebook, and the tutorial with RGG EDU will come out this summer.

    April 11, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Photography • Views: 1619

  • NYFA Hour Chats with Acting for Film Instructor Ken Lerner

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film instructor Ken Lerner was the most recent guest on NYFA Hour. Lerner brought great advice from his acting class The Business of Acting and personal stories from his journey including shooting “Happy Days” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

    The New York Film Academy Hour is a weekly podcast hosted by Joelle Smith and Pegah Rad on The Popcorn Talk Network. A prestigious alumnus or highly touted faculty member gives a mini master class each week on their cinematic specialty.

    Lerner discussed comedic acting by highlighting moments from his career including playing the lawyer who is stabbed in the back in “Running Man” and the Snicker’s commercial for which he won an award.

    When asked about how he prepares for his roles Lerner had this to say:

    “When I was younger I did really a lot of research. I would call up hospitals if I was playing a doctor or a heroine addict. I even went to a friend who’s an obstetrician and watched. I asked cops if I could do a drive around. They said no, but I tried. I once played an army guy on Project X. I went out to the air force and watched the guys work. You pick up things. I did the research, that’s what I advise my students.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Lerner for coming on The Popcorn Talk Network to discuss his career. You can watch Lerner in episodes of “This is Us,” “Legion,” and “Feud: Betty & Joan.”

    March 17, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 896