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  • 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.

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    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 http://www.talesofpoefilm.com

    August 9, 2016 • Cinematography, Community Highlights • Views: 1622

  • Screenwriting Instructor Dan Kay Pens “I.T.” with Pierce Brosnan

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    RLJ Entertainment

    New York Film Academy Screenwriting Instructor Daniel Kay, writer of the film Pay the Ghost with Nicholas Cage, was recently mentioned in Deadline and Hollywood Reporter for his upcoming film, I.T., starring Pierce Brosnan.

    The project has been acquired by RLJ Entertainment for North American distribution rights. The thriller from Voltage Pictures, directed by Good Day To Die Hard director John Moore, and co-written by William Wisher, Jr. (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) was produced by David T. Friendly, Beau St. Clair, Nicolas Chartier and Craig J. Flores.

    “I couldn’t be more excited for the release of the film,” says Kay. “I was very pleased with how it turned out and I think audiences will respond to it.”

    I.T. is scheduled for a September 2016 theatrical and on-demand release.

    August 2, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 958

  • Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) Corey Morris Discusses VA Benefits

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts Veterans Office welcomed Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) Corey Morris, a representative from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare system to speak with NYFA veteran students. Mr. Morris spoke to students about the various benefits that are offered through the VA including healthcare and education benefits.

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    VA Representative Corey Morris speaks with veteran students at NYFA about VA benefits and the healthcare system.

    Many of the student veterans recently transitioned from the military to the educational opportunities at NYFA and were unaware of what benefits are available to them. On the spot, Mr. Morris assisted veteran students in enrolling into the VA Healthcare system at the campus.

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    NYFA veteran students with VA Representative, Corey Morris.

    Retired Army veteran and Filmmaking student, Gail Amend said, “I thought that Mr. Morris had great information to share. I was unaware of all the services that the VA provides. We as veterans appreciate the NYFA Veterans Office in bringing these type of representatives to the campus.”

    The New York Film Academy Veterans staff looks forward to developing the partnership with Mr. Morris and the VA in support of this newest generation of veterans.

    July 28, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 923

  • NYFA and Mexican Consulate Present Mexican Film Series in LA

    Recently, the New York Film Academy worked with the Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles to present the Itinerant Mexican Film Program – screenings that celebrate the cinematic and artistic history of Mexico. Thursday featured a pre-screening reception with Andres Webster Henestrosa (cultural attache from the Mexican Consulate), and a few honor students from Mexico, invited by the diversity department.

    mex consulate

    In his remarks before the screening of “El principio” (The Beginning) Thursday evening, Consul Webster spoke to the importance of showing films by Mexican filmmakers. “I think now that Mexican filmmakers are more recognized…[we want to] show people that Mexican creators are very strong in history.”

    He also spoke to the importance of changing the current perception of people from Mexico, saying that they want to show people from Mexico “a different way than is commonly known — movies are important for this.”

     

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    Consul Webster concluded his introduction by saying, “with this project we want to show that Mexico is a very rich culture…cinema is powerful.”

    The screenings continued on Saturday July 23rd, with “La Pasión según Berenice” (The Passion of Berenice) at noon, and “El lugar sin Límites” (Hell Without Limits) at 2pm.

    July 25, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 1148

  • Students and Alumni Meet with Agents

    As the clock struck 7:00 at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Campus the lobby began to fill with acting students and alumni. Agents from Abrams Artists Agency, Central Artists, Daniel Hoff Agency, DDO Artists Agency, Howard Talent West, Ideal Talent Agency, LA Management, McKeon-Myones Management, Media Artists Group, Prodigy Talent, Debra Manners Talent Management, sat perched behind desks ready to take the student’s head shots and discuss their future.

    Frederico Mallet a recent MFA Acting graduate attended the recent looking for commercial and theatrical representation. “I think it’s fantastic that Barbara made this happen,” said Mallet. “Because she is really great. She’s one of the finest people at NYFA. She’s at it all the time. She cares so much about us and I’m really grateful that she did this.”

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    The event was organized and run by Barbara Weintraub, Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development. She wanted to give recent and soon to be graduates an opportunity not only to network and practice pitching themselves but hopefully to land an agent and secure work.

    Spring 2015 graduate, Katisha Seargent, “I graduated in May and I’ve been trying to get out there. I was doing a lot of self-submissions. I was so grateful to the school put together a program to help us get that foot in the door because it’s something we’ve been trying to do since we graduated.”

    “I watched the footage that they made us shoot on our very first week at NYfA and I just compare it to where I am now and the growth is just exponential. It’s ridiculous. I learned so many things. My interpersonal communication skills rose exponentially. My confidence…it just went through the roof. I’m playing roles now that I never thought that I would do, that I didn’t think I was good at. I found out I have a comedic side. I never thought I was funny. You find out so much about yourself through this process here at NYFA.”

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    Acting student Owen Rousu knew he only had two minutes to impress the agents, “I have a commercial agent already so I’m looking more for theatrical. My little spiel goes, ‘Hey, I’m Owen. This is my theatrical headshot. I’m looking for theatrical representation; either a manager or an agent. I’m SAG eligible. I think what sets me apart from other actors is I spent five years in the army. I deployed twice as a US Army Ranger. So, the roles that I would go up for are usually army, marines, cops, firefighters, or the bad guy, apparently. I get a lot of villains, which actually, I love.”

    When all was said and done we had several students reach back to tell us about their experience.

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    The meet and greet was such a great event! I got an audition for commercial representation at Daniel Hoff! Which is an agency I’ve wanted to audition for so bad!

    So, thank you!

    Best,
    Linnea

    Thank you so much for yesterday the event was great! I was already contacted by two talent agencies!
     
    So, thank you so much! Those events must keep on going! They are of great help.
     Gonzalo
    Thanks for last night event!! I got contacted by DDO agency already for an interview next Thursday for possible representation!
    Thanks,
    Todd
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    The New York Film Academy would like to thank all the agencies that came to view our students and the current students and alumni who took advantage of this opportunity.

    July 21, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1348

  • MFA Cinematography Students Film Scenes for Master’s Lighting Workshop

    The Fall 2015 MFA Cinematography students have just completed Master’s Lighting, one of several major workshop classes in the third semester of the MFA Cinematography program. The class was taught by instructor Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, whose recent credits include Straight Outta Compton (2nd unit DP), The Perfect Match (DP), and The Miki Howard Story (DP). He demonstrated a variety of current lighting techniques including how to approach large-scale night exteriors, the use of mixed lighting, and some new approaches to using color in a scene.

    master class cinematography

    The week-long workshop began with a visit to the Cine Power & Light rental house. Students learned how to set up powerful lights including 10K tungsten fresnels, 9-light Maxi-Brutes, and 4K HMI PAR’s, carefully going over proper safety protocols for all of the equipment involved. The students were then introduced to generators, power distribution equipment, and the heavy-gauge cable needed to run power to these bigger lights.

    On the second day of the workshop, the students visited Griffith Park to shoot day and night exterior setups using a range of big lighting units and a 600 amp generator. This advanced equipment gave the students the necessary power to use lights in day exterior setting, controlling contrast and balancing the sunlight. These tools also allowed them to light a large night exterior scene, mixing different colored light sources to give the scene more depth.

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    The class then moved to the Sybil Brand Institute, a decommissioned women’s prison where they have shot a number of films and television shows including Legally Blonde, 24, CSI: Miami, and Desperate Housewives. Students used the same lighting package to experiment with new techniques over the next two days of the workshop, shooting scenes on the Red Dragon digital cinema camera.

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    The workshop concluded with a Cinematography Practicum at the Sybil Brand facility. The practicum shoot was lead by instructor Gilber Shilton, whose directing credits include episodes of Law & Order, MacGyver, Beverly Hills 90210, and Quantum Leap. With guidance from his instructors, student cinematographer Jaan Utno shot a tense scene in the jail setting. The class worked together to light more than 15 shots, incorporating techniques from the previous workshop days.

    Students leave the workshop with greater knowledge of how to light challenging scenes on a larger scale. Having worked with generators and power distribution systems, they will be ready to work at the high level of skill demanded by professional productions.

    July 20, 2016 • Cinematography, Community Highlights • Views: 1796

  • NYFA’s Ken Lerner Appears on HBO’s “Silicon Valley”

    Mike Judge’s HBO comedy, Silicon Valley, which surrounds the lives of young computer programmers who head out to Northern California to succeed in technology, has been a wild success thus far. Now in its third season, those of us at the New York Film Academy may recognize Acting for Film Instructor Ken Lerner in a few episodes.

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    Ken Lerner, left, and T.J. Miller in “Silicon Valley.” Credit John P. Johnson/HBO

    Lerner has been playing the character of Arthur, who is Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti’s Business Manager.

    In addition to his teaching at NYFA, Lerner has acted in many major film and television productions, including his most recent appearance on the FX’s mini-series The People Vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. He’s also appeared in The Mentalist, NCIS, In Plain SightTwo and a Half Men, Desperate Housewives, Castle, Weeds, CSI, Without a Trace and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He has had over 40 film roles, including Unlawful Entry, The Doctor, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Running Man, The Story of Us, Immediate Family, Irreconcilable Differences and Project X. In addition to film and television, Ken has starred in productions at The Pasadena Playhouse and Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theater and off-Broadway.

    “My experience in the industry seems to be the biggest factor in my ability to be trusted that I know what I am teaching them, especially about auditions,” says Lerner. “I constantly use my acting jobs as reference for my students’ learning.”

    Mr. Lerner is just one of the many examples of how our students have the privilege of working with current industry professionals who can provide unparalleled insight into the business.

    July 7, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 1875

  • NYFA Awards “The King of Judo” at Moscow Pitch Fest

    The Youth Center of the Union of Cinematographers of the Russian Federation held its eighth Pitch Fest for Debutants as part of the 38th Moscow International Film Festival on June 21-22. Over the years, more than 2,000 young filmmakers, from leading art universities and film schools, have attended the Pitch Fest and about 20 of their films have been produced.

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    This year 686 projects were submitted for consideration (289 – short films, 236 – features, 124 – TV series, and 37 – documentaries) and 10 from each category were chosen for the final Pitch Fest. Young filmmakers had an opportunity to present their ideas to an expert jury consisting of professionals in the field of film and television.

    And we are happy to announce that a special prize from the New York Film Academy—a One Week Workshop Certificate in any subject—was awarded to professional journalist and aspiring screenwriter Alexey Khodorych for his television project, The King of Judo.

    The King of Judo is a family mini-series adaptation of the eponymous story by Albert Ivanov. This is a story of growing up, which explores the theme of the manifestation of evil in man rising.

    Coincidently, Alexey Khodorych had a previous encounter with the New York Film Academy. In 2008 he interviewed NYFA Instructor an award-winning writer, director and producer, Paul Brown, for a major Russian newspaper, Kommersant. At the time, Paul Brown who worked on such series as The X-Files, Quantum Leap, The New Twilight Zone, Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise, was visiting Moscow with NYFA for a hands-on workshop. Now Aleksey can come to Los Angeles to continue their old conversation while learning new crafts and gaining new skills.

    We hope to see Alexey Khodorych among our students soon! And we also would like to wish the best of luck to all the Debutant Pitch Fest participants in their careers! Believe, dare, do!

    July 6, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 1772

  • BFA and MFA Photography Gallery Show

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    The BFA and MFA Photography Gallery Show of the Spring 2016 graduating students from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles was held at Schomburg Gallery, in the famous Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, CA. The seven MFA students and three BFA students had a wonderful turn out of 250 people. Aside from family and friends, one of the guests was the retired curator of photography from the Getty Museum – Weston Naef – who stopped by to enjoy the exhibition.

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    Bergamot Station is a facility housing multiple art galleries in Santa Monica, California. The site was previously a railroad station from 1875 to 1953, serving the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad and later the Santa Monica Air Line. The station was named after the Wild Bergamot flower, which once grew in the area. The Bergamot Station is on schedule to become a Historical Landmark in the next few years.

    The New York Film Academy and Schomburg Gallery at Bergamot Station have created a partnership and the BFA and MFA Photography shows will be exhibited there every semester going forward.

  • Student Networking Night in LA

    Every semester New York Film Academy Los Angeles gathers young aspiring professionals together to provide them with an opportunity to establish new connections and share their ideas and projects while building a strong list of professional contacts. It was a huge turn out for Student Networking Night on June 24th, which was hosted by NYFA’s Chair of Industry Outreach, Barbara Weintraub.

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    “This is my second networking event at NYFA and it’s very helpful,” remarked MA Filmmaking Student, Daniel Peres Morel. “Here I’m getting all type of connections—meeting producers, cinematographers, people who I become friends with, collaborate with—and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”

    In the creative spirit of “meet & greet,” non-profit organization NewFilmmakers LA (NFMLA) joined the event to share information about all the wonderful showcases and screenings they organize monthly to support emerging filmmakers. NFMLA provides a forum where filmmakers can be recognized for their contributions, have open audience discussions about their projects and connect with industry professionals for insight on distribution, production, acquisition and representation.

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    “This event is really important, because connections you make here could bring you on further when you go into your life after school,” commented One-Year Acting for Film student Stephanie Weise.

    Business cards were exchanged, filmmakers crewed up and lots of pizza was eaten!

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    “It was a great event to meet actors, actresses, directors, and filmmakers all under one roof,” added One-Year Cinematography student Zachary Haussmann.

    NYFA is very excited that students from different programs were able to find collaborators with shared interests.