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  • Photographer Amy Arbus Gives Master Class to New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Students

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    Acclaimed photographer Amy Arbus visited the New York Film Academy’s Battery Park campus to speak to Photography school students. Arbus’ work has been featured in many periodicals such as Rolling Stone, Village Voice, and New York Magazine, and is featured in many collections including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library, and the New York Public Library. Amy’s family has been renowned for their photography — she is the daughter of legendary photographer Diane Arbus, and is also the sister of famed Doon Arbus.

    Amy Arbus at NYFA

    Amy Arbus at NYFA

    Her 80s street style column for Village Voice On the Street is considered one of her seminal works. “Photographers‘ first stuff is what sticks,” Arbus told NYFA students. She captured celebrities on the streets of New York City, including a young Madonna just before the release of her debut album. Her column also included British punk rockers, The Clash, in their prime.

    Of her project, Ladies of the Night, Arbus said, “I broke every rule that I was ever taught.” These photos were taken in secret, from afar, without comprising
    the subjects’ anonymity. Throughout the lecture, Arbus repeatedly referenced the romanticism of those photographs. Her influences also include Film Noir and Modernist Art.

    During a master class with Richard Avedon in 1992, Arbus resolved some of her emotions surrounding her mother’s death (Diane Arbus died by suicide in her bath when Amy was 17). Her Tubs Pictures is a series of nude self-portraits taken in a bathtub and were featured by Avedon in his article on Amy Arbus in Aperture’s Photographers on Photographers issue 151.

    One specific piece of Avedon’s advice that still motivates her to this day was a fitting message to the students in attendance: “You’ve got to contribute something to the medium… you have to do something unique.”

    Arbus is in the midst of her new series Outsiders, seen below, via her Instagram.

    View this post on Instagram

    He’s a heartbreaker

    A post shared by Amy Arbus (@amyarbus) on

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    October 8, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 328

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts PDN’s 30 2018 Panel

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    Next week, Photo District News (PDN) will present PDN‘s 30 2018: Strategies for Launching and Building a Career, featuring their new and emerging photographers to watch. The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to be hosting the event, which will take place on September 27th. PDN has been one of the top resources for professional photographers for over two decades. Every year since 1999, PDN‘s editors have chosen 30 emerging photographers who represent a variety of styles and genres and have demonstrated a distinctive creativity, vision, and versatility.

    Kyle Durosz - PDN's 30 2018

    Photo by Kyle Durosz

    During this informative discussion, photographers selected for PDN’s 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch will share the most valuable lessons they learned as they launched their careers. They will discuss their strategies for gaining exposure, honing their styles, getting help on business issues, and meeting the challenges of starting a photography career in today’s competitive market.

    Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales - PDN's 30 2018

    Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales

    Free and open to the public, this panel will be moderated by Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of Photo District News, and will feature PDN’s 30 photographers Brad Ogbonna and An Rong Xu, a Sony Artisan of Imagery and New York magazine photo editor Marvin Orellana.

    Pusha T by Brad Ogbonna - PDN's 30 2018

    Pusha T by Brad Ogbonna

    The event is sponsored by Sony and Canson Infinity. The Sony Artisan of Imagery is Michael Rubenstein. Running creative will be Marvin Orellana, Photo Editor, New York magazine. The free seminar will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. and will be followed by a reception from 8-9 p.m. You can view work of the participants of this year’s event on PDN‘s website and profiles on each of the 2018 PDN’s 30 photographers are featured in PDN’s April 2018 issue.

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    September 21, 2018 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, International Diversity, Photography • Views: 540

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) to Host National Bullying Prevention Month Screening of “Thirsty”

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    October is National Bullying Prevention Month and to bring awareness to the cause, the Filmmaking school at New York Film Academy (NYFA) is hosting a screening of Thirsty with its filmmakers. Described by as a “post-queer musical biopic,” Thirsty follows bullied girly-boy Scott Townsend as he grows into revered drag queen Thirsty Burlington, fighting obstacles along the way only to discover what he really wants is self-acceptance.

    The musical drama was released in 2016 and won Audience Choice for Best Narrative Feature at the Boston LGBT Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature at the Harlem International Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the Portland Film Festival. It will be screened at NYFA New York’s 1st Floor Theatre on October 11th.

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    The screening will be followed by a Q&A with producer Lisa Thomas, actors Jonny Beauchamp (who plays “middle” Scott Townsend), and Michael DiGioia (Uncle Gene), Choreographer Alexandra Amirov, and editor and NYFA alum Fabrizio Famá. Thomas is an industry veteran who has worked on Wonder Showzen and Ugly Americans. Beauchamp has appeared in Penny Dreadful and Stonewall. Famá has worked on many Italian feature films, documentaries, and shorts.

    The 97-minute feature film was directed by the late filmmaker Margo Pelletier, who was known for her exploration of gender and identity. She previously made the documentary Freeing Silvia Baraldini. Thirsty stars Scott Townsend as himself, lending a unique realism to its ability to tell a story based on his life. Deirdre Lovejoy (The Wire, The Blacklist) co-stars as Townsend’s addiction-addled mother Doris. Keith Leonard plays opposite her as Townsend’s absent and abusive father. Before her death, Pelletier had told Variety that a “good percentage” of the cast is LGBTQ.

    National Bullying Month began in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. It was originally the first week in October and has since expanded to include the entire month. Studies have shown bullying causes “school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression.” Learn more at StopBullying.gov. If you or someone you know is struggling, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You may anonymously report cyber bullying here and also find help and resources here.

    Prior to the Thirsty screening, NYFA will also be hosting a Wellness Day event from noon to 5pm on the 5th floor student lounge in NYC. View some statistics on bullying below:

    National Statistics

    Been Bullied
    • 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
    • 20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

    Seen Bullying

    • 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
    • 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.
    • When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time

    Watch the trailer for Thirsty below:

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    September 21, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Diversity, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 669

  • Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku Speak with New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On July 25, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA), hosted a screening of the film Downrange and a Q&A with Japanese director and writer, Ryûhei Kitamura, and Albanian composer, Aldo Shllaku, moderated by NYFA screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner. Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku

    Kitamura began his career by founding his own independent production company in Japan called Napalm Films. His first mainstream success was a film called Versus (2000) and he went on to direct a handful of other feature-length films including an adaptation of the manga series Azumi (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). In 2008, Kitamura made his American filmmaking debut with Midnight Meat Train, based on the short story by Clive Barker and starring Bradley Cooper. 

    Shllaku is a classically trained composer; you can hear his work in films and on television in productions such as Spider-Man 3, David and Goliath, Kill ‘Em All, Lupin the Third, The Blue Hour and many more.

    Conner opened up the Q&A by asking Kitamura and Shllaku how they got started.

    Kitamura responded, “I grew up watching movies; I even didn’t go to much of the school when I was [in] like elementary school or junior high. I was always at the movie theater, so when I was like 17 I just thought about…what I want to do in my life and naturally…film directing [was] the only thing I wanted to do.”

    Kitamura eventually decided to move to Australia, the home of one of his favorite directors, Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, Resident Evil: Extinction), where he studied filmmaking at the School of Visual Art in Sydney. Kitamura was disappointed to find that his fellow students were not interested in action and horror like he was, so after he finished school he decided to move back to Japan where he would go on to launch his film career.

    Shllaku started his career in Greece to avoid the political turmoil due to the rise of communism in his native Albania. He then moved to Canada where he studied film and composition.

    Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo ShllakuShllaku explained, “[Working globally] does have an impact, first of all, of the cinema of those respective countries and also from the music perspective. I’ve worked in nightclubs in Greece, in Montreal, in New York…so different type[s] of cultures, different type[s] of music…even though I’m classically trained…I absorbed certain things wherever I lived…because they become part of you.”

    Conner asked Kitamura to discuss the making of Versus, a low-budget horror movie that quickly became a cult hit.

    Kitamura answered, “I knew that I had something in me and I just had to show it to the world…I wrote the script…I went to every single studio, producer, everybody…like 300 places and everybody ignored me…somehow that didn’t stop my passion so I ended up calling friends…and I started asking for money.”

    Kitamura was able to raise about $50,000 this way. When the money started to run out, he called his friends again to keep the production going. When the film was finally done shooting, Kitamura went to one of the top editors in Japan and brazenly asked him to edit the film digitally for free, promising to pay him “when he got famous.” The editor, amused and impressed by Kitamura’s confidence, agreed and the two worked together on a number of projects afterward, including Godzilla: Final Wars. Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku

    Kitamura and Shllaku stressed to the audience that these types of relationships are the lifeblood of the entertainment industry; you have to like the people you work with because you spend hours, days, and weeks together on set, but also because good working relationships can lead to more jobs in the future.

    All of our students, including our many Japanese students, were excited to have Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku as guests at NYFA Los Angeles. The New York Film Academy thanks them for their generous time and for sharing their experiences.

    For Japanese students and schools that would like more information about NYFA programs please contact Noriko Yoshida. Phone: +1-917-570-2375 (USA) Email: noriko@nyfa.edu

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    September 14, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 285

  • Greenlight Women and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screen “The Girls in the Band”

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    On August 22, 2018, the New York Film Academy and GreenLight Women hosted a screening of the film The Girls in the Band, followed by a Q&A with director and producer Judy Chaikin, and moderated by GreenLight Women chair Marion Rosenberg.GreenLight Women: The Girls in the Band

    Chaikin started in front of the camera but found that she was more interested in the exciting challenges behind the camera and set her sights on directing. Since then, she has worked consistently in film, television, and theater, winning several awards including two Cine Golden Eagles, a Billboard Best New Music Video Director nomination, nine Best Film Festival awards, and an Emmy nomination for the PBS documentary Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist.

    Her current film, the feature length documentary The Girls in the Band, is about the unknown history of women jazz instrumentalists from the early 1900s to the present day. The film took top prizes at five film festivals including the prestigious Palm Springs Film Festival.

    Rosenberg opened up the Q&A by asking Chaikin about why she chose the topic of women in jazz: “I came from a family of musicians; my mother was a songwriter, my brothers are … both professional musicians, my sister and I both were trained musically … she played flute, I played piano and trumpet and so music has been a very integral part of my life.”

    GreenLight Women: The Girls in the BandChaikin shared that when she was 13 years old, she was in her junior high dance band as a trumpet player and experienced gender discrimination like the musicians in her documentary. She added, “I absolutely adored it, but the boys … didn’t want a girl in their band, and I was discouraged … so I gave it up.”  Chaikin later regretted this so much that she jumped at the chance to produce a documentary about other women who experienced the same thing.

    Rosenberg asked Chaikin how she typically decides on the subject matter of her projects. Chaikin replied, “When you make a documentary, you gotta know going in that you’re committing yourself to a real long process. It’s gonna be years of your life, and if there isn’t something that’s in the documentary that is so personal to you — that has such meaning for you — it’s gonna be really hard to stay with it.” She continued, “It’s [also] very important to me to know that the subject matter I’m covering has deep roots in our society.”

    The New York Film Academy thanks Judy Chaikin for discussing her compelling documentary and for sharing her advice for film school students.

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    August 30, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 966

  • Women in Comics: New York Film Academy (NYFA) and Final Draft Host “Write On” Podcast

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    On August 20, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) partnered with Final Draft to host a live taping of Final Draft’s podcast, Write On, focused on women in comics. The panelists were Shannon Watters, Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, and NYFA screenwriting school instructor Christina Weir. The event was moderated by Pete D’Alessandro."Write On: Women in Comics"

    Shannon Watters is the senior editor at BOOM! Studios and co-creator and co-writer of the award-winning comic book series, Lumberjanes. Kirsten Smith is a writer and producer (Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s the Man, Ella Enchanted, The House Bunny and The Ugly Truth) and Christina Weir is a writer (New X-Men, Skinwalker, Three Strikes, Maria’s Wedding, Bad Medicine, Play Ball, Dragon Age: Deception).

    The panelists were first asked what makes comics unique as an artistic medium. Smith said that, in her opinion, comics are special and intimate because they are “a work of art.” Weir added that, in the comic medium, it is essential to keep things moving; even if the scene is just a conversation, it’s important to keep it visually interesting to the reader. Watters shared that she likes using “the page turn” as a tool to surprise and entertain readers of comics in book form.

    The production of a comic is similar to the production of a play or TV show or film because, to be successful, the comic has to tell a story and, in order to tell a story well, there must be trust and communication between all parties involved. Watters described the relationship between a comic writer and artist as symbiotic and “like a marriage.”

    "Write On: Women in Comics"Weir added that comics are “great learning tools for screenwriting” because they “force [the writer] to get to what’s important… You only have so much space to get your point across.”

    The panelists were asked what they believe the future of the comic industry looks like. Watters said that she believes that in the next couple decades, there will be more and more women, people of color, and LGBTQ comic writers and artists. Weir added, “We are in an age now where kids are encouraged to read comics… Comics are cool!”

    Lastly, Watters’ advice for aspiring comic writers and artists is to “Get your stuff out there!” She encouraged students to share their work on the web and to meet other creative people to network, collaborate, and grow.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Shannon Watters, Kirsten Smith, and Christina Weir for sharing their experiences and advice for young writers.

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    August 28, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1183

  • “Unbroken” Sequel Screened For New York Film Academy (NYFA) Veterans

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    On August 13, 2018, the New York Film Academy’s Department of Veteran Services, was honored to host an advanced screening of the next chapter in the Louis Zamperini story, Unbroken: Path to Redemption. The film is the sequel to the 2014 film, Unbroken, directed by Academy Award Winner®, Angelina Jolie, and hits theaters later this year. Following the screening, producers Matthew Baer and Luke Zamperini, son of Louis Zamperini, treated the audience to a Q&A moderated by Navy veteran and New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting Alumnus, Ron Ringo.

    The event was part of the NYFA DVS series of events that includes guest speakers, film screenings, master classes, workshops, and employment trainings — all which promote industry engagement for NYFA’s veteran-students and the wider veteran communities in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami (South Beach).

    Unbroken Q&A

    Photo Caption: (left to right) Ron Ringo, Matthew Baer, and Luke Zamperini discuss their experience in creating Unbroken: Path to Redemption.

    Baer and Zamperini shared their experiences creating the film, as well as stories about Louis Zamperini himself. With having only 20 days to shoot the entire film, Baer addressed the challenges that he faced along with sharing a lot of valuable information for aspiring filmmakers. Zamperini shared stories of his father and explained how powerful it is seeing his father’s inspirational story depicted on the big screen for everyone to experience. Being on set and seeing his family members being portrayed by actors was incredibly surreal to him. 

    BFA Producing student and US Navy veteran Jonathan Garza commented, “Louis Zamperini’s inspirational and powerful story should be seen by everyone. He is a true American Hero.” He added, “I also enjoyed hearing from Matthew and his insight from years of producing. He mentioned that he still runs into the same problems producing studio films that he did when he was in film school, but on a larger scale.”

    Luke Zamperini is the President and CEO of the Louis Zamperini Youth Ministries Foundation.  Matthew Baer’s other producing credits include The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington, City by the Sea with Robert De Niro and James Franco, and the first chapter in the Louis Zamperini story, Unbroken — among many other successful films. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Matthew Baer and Luke Zamperini for their generosity and willingness to share their stories and to help students pursuing careers in the film industry.

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    August 21, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 617

  • Silicon Valley’s John Altschuler Speaks With New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On August 15, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of HBO’s Silicon Valley followed by a Q&A with creator and showrunner John Altschuler. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series, Tova Laiter, moderated the event.

    As a student at University of North Carolina, Altschuler created the first comedy sketch show on the university student TV. He and his co-writer, looking to capitalize on their venture, sent written material in three boxes to three owners/editors of the National Lampoon magazine, adding a dollar to each to get their attention. It worked! He became a writer for the most iconic humor magazine of its time, until he moved to Hollywood.John Altschuler

    After moving to Los Angeles however, he realized that his previous work was not going to magically open doors in the industry, so he worked odd jobs until he started getting gigs as a production assistant. He was careful not to pitch himself, instead concentrating on the job at hand. He told students, “Whatever job you get, just do that well… make their lives easier and they will look out for you; they will want to help you because you made their day that much easier.”

    His first writing job, on HBO’s The High Life, led to his becoming an executive producer and showrunner on FOX’s King of the Hill for 12 years and the relaunch of Beavis and Butt-head for MTV. He then co-created Silicon Valley for HBO, and Lopez for TV Land, starring George Lopez. He’s also produced Mike Judge’s film, Extract (2009) starring Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis and Ben Affleck, and co-wrote Blades of Glory (2007) starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder.

    A student asked Altschuler about his inspiration for Silicon Valley. He replied, “I was reading a biography of Steve Jobs and there was a quote in there where Bill Gates was ridiculing Steve Jobs: ‘The guy can’t even write code!’ Altschuler thought: “The guy created the biggest brand in the world and there’s somebody up in Silicon Valley sniping at him; I was like, “This is hilarious!'”

    To the question of whether the creators knew Silicon Valley culture or only did research when they wrote the pilot, the answer was, “Both.” Altschuler had family members who were engineers, but they also did further research:

    “We went up to Silicon Valley… and it was so funny, because… everybody kept talking about how they were making the world a better place… The sanctimony was so thick that I thought, ‘well this is something to make fun of.’ It’s… fun to take on the big guys and try to deflate them.”

    John AltschulerLaiter noted that sometimes it’s easier to make fun of something when you’re outside of it, and Altschuler concurred.

    One student asked about Altschuler’s tips for pitching a show or movie to a producer. Altschuler advised, “[When] you go in, have your story and try to start off with a topic sentence or a personal story… try to make it a conversation, not a laundry list of ‘first this happened and then that happened.'”

    Altschuler imparted to the students that no matter what, they have to like what they’re making or no one will want to consume it. And when they write, and a scene doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to let it go. “If it’s really great, it will get its way in back later.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank John Altschuler for sharing his industry expertise and advice for our film school students!

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    August 17, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1306

  • Q&A With High School 9-1-1’s Tim Warren and Kelli Joan Bennett


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    The New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus welcomed director Tim Warren and producer Kelli Joan Bennett for a Q&A following a screening of their award-winning, impactful documentary, High School 9-1-1 for summer high school students. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter moderated the event.

    The doc follows a year in the life of the members of EMS-Post 53, a volunteer student-run ambulance service in the small town of Darien, Connecticut, where Warren himself had volunteered as a senior in high school. 

    Tim Warren is an American film and television producer whose credits include popular reality programs such as Bar Rescue, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and more. Kelli Joan Bennett is an actor and writer, who recently produced and starred in the feature crime-thriller Collusions, alongside Tom Everett Scott. Together, Warren and Bennett formed Boomerang Production Media in 1996, and it was under this banner that High School 9-1-1 was ultimately produced. 

    Laiter started the night off by inquiring after Warren’s motivation for pursuing the film, so many years after he had experienced life at Post 53. “I was sort of thinking,” he explained, “if I die tomorrow, what would I regret not doing? And ultimately, I always thought about doing a documentary on this organization that was so positively impactful on my life. And even though I didn’t go into the medical field, the things that I learned on the ambulance thirty plus years ago, I still use today as a producer and director.”Tim Warren and Kelli Joan Bennett

    Many of these lessons, Warren noted, came in the form of mantras from the organization’s beloved founder, Bud Doble. “One of them was, ‘Be prepared for what you find, but be prepared to change your mind.’ And that applies to not only when you’re on the ambulance, but when you’re in television and film.” Warren went on to paraphrase, “You need to have a plan. You need to have an idea of what you want to do. But you can’t be so married to that plan that you either miss a greater opportunity, or don’t see a problem that’s coming at you.”

    Over the course of several years following their almost year-long stage of principal photography, that lesson would come into play in more ways than one. The first cut of High School 9-1-1 was upwards of six hours, followed soon thereafter by a two-hour cut. After screening the film for an audience, and being told it was still too long, the two of them cut it down by another fifteen minutes. “We submitted the one hundred and four minute cut to the top ten film festivals,” Warren began. “We were [resoundingly] rejected. So we’re now seven, eight years into this process, a mountain of debt, and nobody loves us.” 

    Warren and Bennett returned to their professional lives for a time, until their collective spark was reignited after Bennett ran into the program director for the LA Film Festival. “The program director says, ‘Oh, I remember that film — great film. Too long. But don’t give up on that film.’ And she said that the film needed to be under 90 minutes. So, that reinvigorated us.”

    The pair then cut the film down to 86 minutes and launched a successful festival tour, screening at Heartland, Kansas City, New Haven, and more, as a part of the American Film Showcase program. After nearly ten years put into the project, its success was well-deserved. But documentary film, as Warren later attests, isn’t necessarily about success.

    “The thing with documentary that I always say is… you have to be really passionate about the subject matter.  And you have to go in pretty much knowing that it’s not your ticket to riches… If you’re thinking about doing a documentary, you have this feeling that, ‘I have to tell this story, and I’m going to tell this story — really — at any cost.’” 

    High School 9-1-1 is currently on a world-wide tour, screening at high schools and within communities, with the ultimate intention of “empowering young people through responsibility.” For behind the scenes, screening information, and more, visit here.

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    August 9, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1336

  • Documentarian Amy Rice Presents “By The People” to New York Film Academy Students

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    This July, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments presented a screening of By the People: The Election of Barack Obama followed by a Q&A with director Amy Rice. The discussion was moderated by Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    The nearly two-hour film documents the years leading up to the election of Barack Obama. Rice gives viewers an inside look into Obama’s evolution from little-known Illinois Senator to symbol of change for a generation.

    Calling it one of her favorite documentaries, Rice was greatly influenced by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s The War Room, about Bill Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992. By the People premiered in August of 2009 on HBO, and last week’s screening gave younger students a look at how the 2008 election differed from recent elections.

    Rice began her career as a cinematographer, working with her eventual co-director on By the People, Alicia Sams. The documentarian talked about the appeal of this type filmmaking, saying, “There was something very organic about documentary. Just pick up your camera and go shoot and follow the story as it’s unfolding in front of you.” 

    "By the People" director Amy Rice

    By the People director Amy Rice.

    After her other brother told her about Obama before he was well-known, Rice watched his speeches and read his book, Dreams from My Father. “I was just naturally obsessed with his story,” she says.

    Her and her team used a trip to Africa during a congressional delegation trip as a testing ground. From there, the film follows the lead-up to the 2008 election and Obama’s transition from presidential long shot to favorite. Rice discussed the difficulties that began to arise as the presidential candidate’s popularity increased. For instance, at one point the film crew was unable to use a boom mic due to secret service safety concerns. Rice pointed out another instance deep into the campaign where security tried to stop her from filming: “I looked so horrified that he was trying to stop me from getting my final shot.” 

    The filmmaker also dropped some words of wisdom on the students throughout the course of the discussion. One thing she stressed was to “always say ‘yes’ to all film opportunities.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Amy Rice for her time and the illuminating discussion with the Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments.

    Watch the trailer below and/or purchase the film here.

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