Community Highlights

  • NYFA Athletics Department Hosts “1st Annual Athletics Banquet 2016”

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) Athletics Department hosted its 1st Annual Athletics Banquet for its coaching staff and athletes on Sunday, August 14, 2016. The Banquet brought together the department in its entirety to recognize and celebrate everyone’s hard work and success. Since the establishment of athletics in 2014, NYFA has created seven athletic teams and two clubs that would go on to earn seven 1st place and 2nd place trophies.

    eric brown

    NYFA’s Athletic Director, Eric Brown, took the podium and delivered a welcome speech elaborating on the department’s history, prospective goals, and plans for the future. Stefan Leach, a BFA Acting Student and men’s basketball player, said, “The banquet had a great atmosphere with lively music and amazing food! We danced, ate, and had a blast with the other athletes!”

    Following Eric’s speech, each coach shared memorable moments and cherished experiences throughout their seasons. The men’s basketball coach, Lucius Allen, talked about his team and the players’ improvement over the past few seasons, along with their consecutive back-to-back championships. Steven Goldstein, head coach of the women’s basketball team, raved about the camaraderie and diligence of his team, overcoming any obstacle, earning two 2nd place trophies. The two-time championship winning men’s soccer team was introduced by their new coach Roy Lev-Ari, who spoke volumes about their commitment and his resolve as their coach. Emily Seidel introduced the co-ed softball team and talked about their improvement and dedication to the program. Elise Cregg spoke about the department and her new position as the Athletics Coordinator, as well as enjoying coaching the men’s and women’s volleyball teams.

    nyfa athletics

    Dinner was provided by Monte Carlo’s Italian Restaurant while the banquet ensued with music by DJ Tuesday. Alessio Mongardi, a BFA Acting Student, said “The first ever NYFA Athletics Banquet went above and beyond in its quest to bring people together for a fun and enjoyable night filled with exciting, rewarding, and inspiring moments shared with teammates and friends.”

    The student athletes and coaches also participated in a raffle, which ranged from Nike gift cards, to classic historic sports movies. The athletics department looks forward to next year’s athletics banquet and celebrating the upcoming sports’ seasons!

    August 24, 2016 • Community Highlights, Sports • Views: 740

  • Screenwriting Instructor’s “Bookburners” Novel to be Released in Print

    The New York Film Academy is excited to share that the popular series, “Bookburners,” is coming to print through SAGA Press. “Bookburners” is a collaborative novel featuring the talents of Screenwriting Instructor Margaret Dunlap, Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery. Previously released in 16 online installments by Serial Box,”Bookburners” is a critically acclaimed urban fantasy about a secret team of agents that hunts down dangerous books containing deadly magic.


    The savvy pitch is Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in a fast-paced, kickass character driven novel chock-full of magic, mystery, and mayhem, written collaboratively by a team of some of the best writers working in fantasy.

    The cover was designed by artist Marko Manev and designer Michael McCartney.

    “I’m very excited that ‘Bookburners’ is coming to print,” said Dunlap. “We have a great team of writers, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity to take the skills that I learned as a screenwriter and apply them to a new medium.”

    The print version of “Bookburners” will be available on January 10, 2017 from SAGA Press!

    August 24, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 663

  • Biodiversity at the Los Angeles Zoo

    It may have been one of the hottest days in July, but NYFA’s Environmental Biology students were not daunted. It was the day of their “Biodiversity” lecture, but instead of sitting in a class reading slides and looking at pictures of plants and animals on a TV screen, instructor Camille Boag took them to the Los Angeles Zoo. Here, they could experience spectacular examples of our earth’s biodiversity much more profoundly.

    nyfa la zoo

    While the first 20 minutes of the field trip found the group settled in around some tables near the harbor seal exhibit, discussing the fundamentals of Biodiversity and practicing some scientific tactics of measuring it, the remaining two hours were full of exploring the zoo’s hundreds of species on exhibit.

    nyfa la zoo

    The trip was largely a visual tour, aimed to highlight the great diversity found within and among our planet’s biomes. But students were also responsible for finding specific species, such as an endangered species (and looking up why it is endangered), a California local species, a species from a biodiversity “hot spot,” and a species with a particularly well-suited adaptation for its habitat, in a sort of zoo-wide scavenger hunt. This kept the students focused and engaged.

    nyfa la at zoo

    NYFA student Annie Song spoke about the trip, “I saw animals I’d never even heard of. Perhaps my favorite part was the special reservoir for endangered animals. I learned what caused them to be in their current state. If we were just in the classroom I would see less and I wouldn’t feel the same call to ‘save the environment’ as I did being at the zoo and seeing it with my own eyes.”

    Boag’s incentive for this trip is based on the idea that a more intimate experience with our planet’s animals will foster more of a commitment to help conserve them. Who knows, maybe one of her students will make a wildlife documentary one day!

    August 23, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 289

  • Pokémon Go Hunt with Creative Director and NYFA Instructor John Zuur Platten

    New York Film Academy hosted its first ever Pokémon Go hunt this month at the Los Angeles campus. About one hundred students, faculty, and fans joined Creative Director at Niantic Labs and Game Design Instructor at New York Film Academy, John Zuur Platten, to try and catch ‘em all.

    pokemon hunt

    Throughout the evening shouts of, “I leveled up,” “I just took this gym,” and “Oh my god, it’s *insert favorite Pokémon here*” filled the air. In the end, someone took over two gyms, several eggs were hatched, and a Bulbasaur made a surprise appearance just as the event wound down.

    The event then moved inside for an industry meet and greet. Game Design students snacked on Poke Ball pizza while talking shop. Ideas for future games were exchanged as well as talk about whether virtual reality or augmented reality would be a better sell to the gaming community.


    Finally, it was time for the main event. Platten threw away the traditional Q & A process and instead decided to have an open forum, allowing anyone to ask a question as it came up. An excited buzz ran through the audience as Platten began to break down the ins and outs of Niantic.

    The majority of the talk was focused on Niantic’s breakout game, Ingress. Ingress shares many similarities with Pokémon Go, but instead of three teams, there are two: The Enlightened and The Resistance. Each team is trying to own portals that pop up all over the world. The Resistance wants to keep whatever’s trying to come through the portal out of their world. The Enlightened believe there’s something to be gained from whatever’s trying to come through.

    pokemon go creative director

    There’s no violence within the game and, like Pokémon Go, the players don’t have to interact with one another to play. In fact, many fans of Ingress don’t play the game. Instead, they head online, where Niantic has created a wide series of gaming extras. This includes YouTube videos, comics, and short stories that tell extra parts of the story. This media is often cryptic mysteries that participants can solve, netting their team extra points.

    Like Pokémon Go, Ingress has lots of fanatics. People make flags, costumes, and pins with the team’s sigils and show up for mass real world meet ups. Fans also have a civil service side. Many have seen encouraging memes asking players to drop lures outside of children’s hospitals so the very ill can play. Platten recalled a story where a famous Ingress player in need of a wheelchair received one through community donations and support. He recalled another story of an autistic teen who was barely able to leave his room until Pokémon Go was released. That teen’s mother said she felt as if she had gotten part of her son back. “That’s a pretty great magic trip,” Platten stated.

    August 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 1298

  • NYFA Attends Fox 2016 Television Critics Association

    Twice yearly the Television Critics Association gathers to cover the upcoming Fall and Winter programming from major television networks. This year, the New York Film Academy attended the Fox 2016 TCA tour. Fox is putting a more diverse network in its sights this Monday at the Beverly Hilton. The new line-up goes way beyond racial diversity. Fox is expanding the idea of animation on television, the roles women might play in major league sports, and who can play traditional roles.


    With Fox’s new show, Pitch, starring Kylie Bunbury as Ginny Baker the first female pitcher to play on a major league baseball team. Creator and Executive Producer, Dan Fogelman, believes it’ll only be a matter of time before we see a woman in one of the four major sports currently played in America. Fox also brought us the first Black President in the early two thousands with their show 24. Tony Bill, Executive Producer, said the show was pitched ten years ago and predicted the future we live in now, where it’s just a matter of time before a woman plays in the majors.

    The show isn’t just about baseball. What drew many of the creators to the project is the character of Bill Baker, played beautifully by Michael Beach, who is the show’s “sports dad.” Think about Serena and Venus Williams’ father or Tiger Woods’ father. Who are the men behind the child? What do they sacrifice and what drives them? For Bill Baker, it’s the fact that his father wasn’t there to help him get to the majors. He topped at the minors. Baker swore that he would be there for his son. He has a daughter.

    This is where the story begins, a father making sure his daughter has everything she needs to be the very best. So, the show wouldn’t be too bogged down in men, Ginny is given a publicist, Amelia Slater, played by Ali Larter. Both women have to navigate male dominated industries as women at the top of their game.

    Son of Zorn

    Son of Zorn will join The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and Family Guy on Fox’s Sunday night lineup. The show is a family sitcom about a divorced dad trying to reconnect with his estranged son after ten years. One caveat: Zorn, played by a subdued Jason Sudeikis, is an animated barbarian. Yes, you read that right. In the live action world, he is the only animated being. Instead of slaying dragons, he’s trying to land a steady job. His son, a shy kid, and his ex-wife, re-married to Tim Meadows, aren’t too interested in having him back around. Zany antics are sure to ensue in this very weird and bizarrely brave new show.

    Rocky Horror Picture Show

    Fox is also pushing the envelope with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Televised musicals have been prime time gold for network television companies trying to find their way in a streaming dominant world. Rocky Horror is taking a very definite step away from the original by embracing the camp cult culture that has surrounded the film since its original release in 1975.

    Costumes are adorned with bright sparkles and lots of feathers; the album is brighter with a stronger emphasis on rock music. One reporter asked point-blank why have a transgendered woman play a transsexual? Lou Adler, Executive Producer, said that Dr. Frankenfurter is an alien. Both Cox and Curry played the role as a person from another world. That’s what they wanted to focus on.

    Victoria Justice said of the opportunity to play Janet Weiss, “Another generation will be singing Time Warp…I get to sing Touch Me. This is so exciting.” Executives clearly have the Rocky Horror fans, and the soon to be fans, in mind when crafting this film. They employed the fan club president to make sure the film stayed authentic.

    They also added a crowd to the film. This is a weird kind of experimental twist on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It allows fans that love to participate in the action a chance to do so in their home. It also introduces new fans to crazy traditions of the fandom.

    Live social media interaction and the buzz around theater trained Lavern Cox, who has a five-octave range and will be playing the lead, nearly guarantee a high viewer turn out. Whether it’ll be a hit or not is something for which we’ll have to wait to see.

    The Exorcist

    Next on Fox’s plate is the television remake of The Exorcist. Creator and Executive Producer, Jeremy Slater, said he knew right off the bat he couldn’t write each season about a newly possessed family. No one tunes in for jumps and gore. The story has to come first. Evil has larger ambitions. They’re not just after one girl.

    There will be Easter Eggs for fans of the original series, and Slater insists that this is a continuation, not a remake. In his version, there are two priests, Father Tomas Ortega, Alfonso Herrera, and Father Marcus Keane, Ben Daniels, who are fighting to save the daughter of the Rance family. The matriarch of that family is Angela, played by Geena Davis. Davis said The Exorcist (1973) is the best horror film ever made.

    Gotham and Lucifer

    The Gotham and Lucifer panels went up at the same time. Immediately there was some concern about why Clara Foley had been replaced with Maggie Geha as the shows’ Ivy Pepper. Producers, Ken Woodruff and John Stephens, said the show is about growth and it was time for Ivy to grow from a timid fifteen-year-old to a sixteen-year-old who might be more willing to hurt people. (I could write about reactions here, but they’re mixed and I don’t know if we want to upset any potential future guests.)

    Lucifer will continue its exploration of adult children trying to work through familial issues, this time by introducing Lucifer’s mom into the mix. Some in the crowd voiced skepticism when they learned the actress playing the role, Tricia Helfer, was only a few years older than Lucifer actor, Tom Ellis. Show Producers insisted that Helfer was the best actress for the job, not to mention the supernatural aspects of the show allow for the suspension of disbelief.

    Finally, the time came to showcase the number one show on basic cable, Empire. Taraji P. Henson was there, along with Executive Producers Ilene Chaiken and Sanna Hamri. Season three’s focal point will remain on the Lyons, however, this time Cookie is determined to leave Luscious.

    Taye Diggs will enter the series as a potential love interest for Cookie. To which Henson responded, “…he wished.” Mariah Carey, who has already finished filming her role, will play Kitty a, “mega-superstar who comes to Empire to collaborate with Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) on an explosive new song.” Carey also has a story with lead character Jamal, played by Jussie Smollett, where she helps him acknowledge some personal difficulties.

    With its Fall 2016 line-up Fox continues its push for more diverse content. A mix of strong new content, listening to fan reaction, and a dedication to reinvigorating long-standing projects, Fox has set itself apart from other networks who’ve decided to stand close to their traditional programming; a gamble that’s already netted Fox big viewership rewards.

    August 17, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Entertainment News, Filmmaking • Views: 1418

  • Summer Camp Students Film on Universal “Western” Lot

    The New York Film Academy had a huge day on the Universal Backlot last Thursday as the tweens, teens, and Young Storyteller summer camps hit the Western lot to shoot twenty different films in just eight hours. Universal is the largest studio in the world and the Western set is one of their oldest and most recognized.

    young storytellers

    Students gathered on the set at 8am and were led a thorough safety meeting. Once the meeting wrapped, students broke into groups and set out across the lot to location scout. Potential sets included a saloon, stables, an apothecary, and façade of a stately home.

    Stories ranged from a tale of a sci-fi superhero, who’s been pushed around one too many times, to a standoff in a barn. The students explored every genre from romantic comedy to horror. The films shot on the lot will be screened at New York Film Academy for students and their families.

    young storytellers

    One of New York Film Academy’s acting students, Katisha Sargeant, said of her experience, “These kids humble me. Watching their passion for film has renewed my desire to pursue this craft.”

    One student said of her experience, “I’m glad we had a lot of time to think about the story before we got here. You just have to trust in your training and your crew and hope for the best.”

    universal backlot

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Universal Studios for their support and use of their lots.

    August 17, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1527

  • NYFA Los Angeles Animation Instructor Highlights

    Our award-winning faculty and instructors continue to shine in both the classroom and the professional arena. Recently, New York Film Academy Los Angeles Co-Chair of Animation and VFX, Matt Galuppo, and ace faculty member, Matt Sheehan, recently created a refugee awareness video for the Ad Council.

    Galuppo’s company produced the beautiful PSA that is both touching and timely in this time of derisiveness. One can truly appreciate the trials and suffering of our fellow humanity around the globe. Sheehan is featured in the PSA as one of the people chosen to engage in the “experience” of being a refugee.

    Meanwhile, NYFA LA Chair of Animation, Mark Sawicki, contributed matte painting work to the award-winning documentary “Inside the Garbage of the World” directed by Phillipe and Maxine Carillo. His work depicts hundreds of dead whales on the sea shore as a premonition of the ecological catastrophe that awaits if the issue of plastic pollution in our ocean is not addressed.

    The film is now available on Amazon Prime and will be distributed by Dreamscape to universities and public libraries. The film will also be translated into foreign languages and distributed internationally by Journeyman pictures.

    August 16, 2016 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights • Views: 336

  • Broadcast Journalism Update for Mid-August

    Investigative journalism is difficult. Not only do you have to uncover facts that some people (often many people) want to keep secret, but it can also be expensive. Committing limited resources to a story that may never see air is a bold move. Yet more and more U.S. TV stations are getting back into the investigative reporting business, and according to a recent article in the Washington Post, it could help save local TV news. That’s because unique stories like these differentiate a station from its many competitors, and are far beyond the scope of online aggregators and digital news platforms.

    Lynda Baquero

    Lynda Baquero

    We would be remiss if we didn’t mention NYFA graduate and award-winning investigative reporter George Colli. Colli mounted an amazing probe into how defective concrete resulted in the collapse of the foundations of hundreds, perhaps thousands of homes in Connecticut. While he is now a Washington, DC correspondent for Cox Media, NBC-Connecticut is still pursuing the story.

    We should also acknowledge WNBC reporter Lynda Baquero, who visited NYFA earlier this year. The station has built an entire consumer protection unit around her, and has pledged to investigate every consumer complaint that it receives.

    If you are a regular reader of these updates, you know we often discuss the impact of Vice Media. This time, however, we’re not talking about its business model. Instead, we want to emphasize just how adept they are at getting “the story behind the story.” In this case, it is a feature on how reporters (especially freelance reporters) learn basic combat first-aid before they venture into war zones. As the headline accurately states, it is the kind of training that could help them stay alive. Similarly, it might allow them to save the life of an injured colleague.

    On a far happier note, NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Gillian Kemmerer is down in Rio covering the Summer Olympics. As Asset TV looks at the world through the lens of business and finance, that means stories about ratings as much as gold medals.

    First weekend ratings fall short of podium from Asset TV US on Vimeo.

    Staying with the Olympics, the New York Times produced a fascinating hybrid-journalism story on American swimmer Ryan Lochte. (You know, the guy who is really sick and tired of being compared to Michael Phelps, and for good reason.) Part print report, part new media, part full motion video. It is a great example of how the lines separating different forms of journalism have blurred.

    Great to see NYFA alum Emilie Olsson’s latest story for TV Expresse/Nyheter in Sweden, even if it is about a guy who burned down his neighbors’ home while they were away…

    the helpmann awards
    NYFA graduate Bryanna Reynolds had a lot more fun covering The Helpmann Awards, where Australia’s outstanding stage performers are honored. And once again it was a “sister act,” with Bryanna doing the interviews and her sister Alaina Reynolds shooting. (But who did the editing, Bryanna?)
    Grace Shao

    Grace Shao

    Finally, following her graduation from the NYFA Broadcast Journalism summer session, Grace Shao is back in Beijing. She is in the process of completing her financial journalism Masters degree program at Tsinghua University. Once that is wrapped, she will be joining CCTV as a reporter/editor in their English language news unit. It’s a real accomplishment to land a job like this before completing a degree program. Grace says she learned a number new skills during her stay with us. 祝贺!  (Congratulations!)
  • NYFA LA Doc Chair Producing “Orchestrating Change”

    New York Film Academy Los Angeles Documentary Department Chair Barbara Multer-Wellin is producing a documentary, Orchestrating Change, on an orchestra made up of musicians with mental illness who are combating the stereotypes their illness carries. We spoke with Multer-Wellin about what drew her to this project, and what she hopes people will learn after watching.

    nyfa la doc chair

    Tell us a little bit about your film.

    The documentary is being co-produced and directed by me and Margie Friedman. We’d been friends and colleagues for a long time and were looking for a project to work on together when we heard about the work of Me2/Orchestra. Ronald Braunstein, a Juilliard-trained conductor, whose spectacular career was derailed by his diagnosis with bipolar disorder, started Me2. He and his wife, a career orchestra administrator, have created two (and soon to be more) orchestras made up of musicians with mental illness and those who support them. Their mission is to combat the kind of stigma Ronald and so many other people living with mental health diagnoses have faced.

    barbara welltin

    Barbara Multer-Wellin, Corey, and Margie Friedman

    Most independent documentaries take a long time to produce because so few projects can obtain full financing up front. We’ve been filming Me2 for about a year now and that has given us the opportunity to document the growth of the orchestras and how much the musicians have gained from participating. Me2 is working towards a performance at a major concert hall that we hope will be the finale of the film.


    I have to thank New York Film Academy for allowing me the flexibility to shoot in Boston and Burlington, Vermont on various days over the last year. I believe our students benefit because I, like so many of our Chairs and Instructors, am able to keep making work as well as teaching.

    You can learn more about Me2/Orchestra and Multer-Wellin’s documentary, Orchestrating Change, by clicking here.

    August 12, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 232

  • NYFA Cinematography Instructor Showcases “Tales of Poe” at Comic-Con

    Comic-Con is the nation’s largest convention. It attracts fans not just of capes and cowls, but also genre fans. This year, New York Film Academy cinematography teacher, Bart Mastronardi, spoke on a horror panel about his forth-coming film Tales of Poe. Mastronardi took some time to tell us about his experience and what makes Comic-Con a great place to showcase your work.

    tales of poe

    Can you tell us a little about your film?

    Tales of Poe is an anthology film based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I wanted to make a movie using Poe’s stories in a cinematic way that has not been used before.

    The cast is made up of the horror genre’s best: Amy Steel (Friday the 13th part 2); Adrienne King (Friday the 13th part 1); Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Sharknado: The Fourth Awakens); Lesleh Donaldson (Happy Birthday To Me, Curtains); Debbie Rochon (Satan Hates You); along with Randy Jones (The Village People).

    We spent four years making the movie on an independent budget. I chose three of Poe’s works for filming: The Tell-Tale Heart, which I wrote and directed; The Cask of Amontillado, written and directed by Alan Rowe Kelly; and Dreams, which I directed and was adapted by screenwriter, Michael Varrati. I produced the film with Alan Rowe Kelly.

    What did you gain from showcasing at Comic-Con?

    A large amount of exposure and attention. Showcasing Tales of Poe at Comic-Con helped to gain a lot of attention to the movie including the cast and us, as filmmakers, too. Tales of Poe is an independent film in the horror genre so being asked to attend Comic-Con was an honor. It allowed the film to be seen on a large- scale platform and reach a broader audience.

    Our numbers began to increase in regards to publicity. Being at Comic-Con is, to a degree, equivalent to being at the Academy Awards. That is how big Comic-Con is. It’s immensely fun to be there as a fan and buyer, but to be there as a guest will draw audiences to your work, which is what you want it to do.

    tell tale heart

    What are your future goals for this film?

    Actually, Tales of Poe is going to be distributed this October 11th from Wild Eye Releasing on DVD, VOD and other platforms for viewing for North American sales. We are also focusing on international platforms, too. We do have a Tales of Poe poster and DVD signing with some of our cast and crew at Dark Delicacies in Burbank and in NYC at Forbidden Planet closer to the film’s release date.

    The film is in great hands with Wild Eye Releasing as they have been publicizing the film outside of the genre and within the core genre markets. It has already had its premiere and festival run for two straight years. We are all excited about the new journey the movie is taking this October.

    Tell us about how you got into filmmaking?

    I always loved movies not so much television, but movies. I watched all the black and white Universal horror movies. Frankenstein was my favorite. My dad always took me to the movies when I was a kid. I grew up in Queens, NY. Movie theaters were all over the neighborhood.

    He took me to see Star Wars when I was five years old and boy did that the film have a huge impression on me as a kid. When I was twelve my dad took me to see Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter in 1984 and that solidified my love for filmmaking and the horror genre. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It made me excited about movies even more.

    I knew then, filming and horror would be my future. I began to read “Fangoria Magazine”. I still do. I went to the Weekend Of Horrors Conventions and met my favorite horror celebrities. I wanted to be a part of the world. I knew that many people wanted to be directors, so me being a photographer, I studied cinematography, which led me to get into a great independent horror community in NYC. Then, I met filmmaker, Alan Rowe Kelly, and he formed this great friendship that led us to be business partners, which led to Tales of Poe.

    As a director, I approached my films on a personal level. This means I financed them myself for artistic means. My first film, Vindication, took 4 years to make and I was honored when the great horror master, Clive Barker, reached out and attached his name to Vindication with an incredible review. His touch opened so many doors for me. It brought a larger budget and reputable name actors to Tales of Poe. Because of those connections Tales of Poe has a Hollywood premiere at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd and at the NYC Horror Film Festival at the Tribeca Movie Theater.

    What advice would you give to students interested in showcasing their work at Comic-Con?

    Do it! But, do it with purpose! That means you go with posters, characters dressed up, T-shirts, bags, cast, crew, business cards. Find out who will be there in regards to publicity and ask them for interviews, platforms to showcase, panels to speak on if you can.

    Use your social media to the film’s advantage. Social Media is the best form of free publicity and it gets the word around fast. Comic-Con is not a film festival so don’t think you are selling the film. What a filmmaker needs to do is publicize and market the film. Comic-Con will help you find an audience who enjoys genre works of all kinds. You will reach an incredible amount of people.

    What filmmakers must understand is that Comic-Con is for a specific audience. You will not gain interest marketing your latest drama. Comic-Con focuses on specific genre markets. These are the markets I work in as it interests me as a filmmaker. To be an invited guest to speak as a director and showcase Tales of Poe at Comic-Con two years in a row has only benefitted the film. I am honored to be there, but I also know what I had to do to help get the interest for Tales of Poe out there.

    What is the networking scene at Comic-Con like?

    Networking at Comic-Con is incredibly insane and intense as there are many talented people there showcasing their work and art on so many levels. Comic-Con represents the best on a visual scale. It is colorful, loud and big with so much going on in the area. You walk around and something is being promoted in and out of the convention center. The trick is to be prepared to network with as much as you can bring to it. If you go to Comic-Con as just a fan to look around, buy merchandise and see what it offers then great. If you are going for networking then you must bring your game face.

    tales of poe

    What was it like speaking on a panel at Comic-Con?

    It is an honor and so much fun. I have to thank Michael Varrati for asking me to be a part of it. I was there to talk at the biggest, most attended comic book genre convention in the world as an independent filmmaker in the horror genre for Tales of Poe. Talk about it all coming full circle at that moment from being that kid watching Star Wars and Friday the 13th to speaking at Comic-Con.

    Aside from being excited as a fan, being there gave me a platform to discuss the issues the horror genre faces and how Tales of Poe is a part of those issues, too. The panel is a great way to have a dialogue with peers and audience. A filmmaker’s presence at events is important in getting the word out there. Audiences want to know what we have to say outside of print. My presence allows them to meet, greet, and hear what I have to say. It’s a personal thing for audiences to meet and hear the filmmakers as it connects them to the film a bit more. I enjoy the publicity and getting out there to talk to audiences about my work. At Comic-Con it means so much more to me because I love what Comic-Con is. I was that kid who grew up on comics, genre, and fan-fare.

    How important are signings like this in getting your project to the intended audience?

    It is important if you are looking to draw more of an audience to see your movie and get the word out there to be present. Audiences love it when the actors and filmmakers show up to talk, sign, and take pictures.

    For me it is fun. I also know it is important to understand that art is what we as filmmakers bring to our work. But, at the end of the day it is business particularly once distribution gets involved and money exchanges hand.

    If I want to be a part of something then I have to put myself out there to get the intended audience to see what I have produced. Tales of Poe is a very important film to me. I spend four years of my life with Alan producing and directing it to get it out there.

    I equate it to being a parent. When someone has a child you must raise it, educate it, feed it, clothe it, send it to school and do all the things that are important to helping it grow and experience life. The same is with a film. I make movies to fulfill my own artistic needs, but once I am completed with the film it goes to the audiences. They then watch it, giving the movie a new life.

    It’s a great journey if you want it to be. The signings help the film reach an audience on a personal level. Combine that with good social media and the word spreads fast. If the audiences publicize it right away, and if they love it they will talk about it even more. It gets the buzz about your film heard.

    Do you plan on going next year? Why or why not?

    I was planning on going next year as just a fan of Comic-Con. Spend the weekend in San Diego to feel the excitement on a different scale. For two years in a row, I was invited to speak and promote my work. Next year, I would love to go just to go, enjoy San Diego, and be that kid again. But if invited again I would certainly go.

    What’s up next for you?

    I literally just moved from NYC teaching at NYFA in NYC to Los Angeles to teach at NYFA full time. Much of my time is devoted to educating young filmmakers on the understanding of filmmaking through cinematography and lighting. I’ve been a teacher for over 15 years, so to teach filmmaking full time is a lot of fun.

    Besides the promotional circuit for Tales of Poe, I shot a short film called MONTY that will be premiering this year from director Billy Clift, based on actor Montgomery Clift. It was a beautiful art piece to film it as I was the cinematographer. I own my own photography business, too, so I am always working on new projects with other artists. My personal project that I am doing right now is my first photography book focusing on portraits. Another project is to catch up with sleep.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mastronardi for his time. You can learn more about Mastronardi and his work at

    August 9, 2016 • Cinematography, Community Highlights • Views: 1599