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  • Roadside Attractions’ Eric d’Arbeloff Screens “Manchester by the Sea” at NYFA LA

    Students packed the Riverside Theater in Los Angeles to see one of last year’s most critically acclaimed films, “Manchester by the Sea,” and hear from one of the men who made the film possible, Co-Founder of Roadside Attractions, Eric d’Arbeloff. Roadside Attractions has released over 130 films including “Winter’s Bone,” “Love & Friendship,” “Southside with You,” “Mr. Holmes,” “Love & Mercy,” “The Cove,” “Margin Call,” “Arbitrage,” “Hello My Name is Doris,” The September Issue,” and “Mud.” Tova Laiter, Director of the New York Film Academy’s Guest Speakers Series, hosted the evening alongside NYFA Instructor Shaun Conan.

    Eric d’Arbeloff

    D’Arbeloff started by giving a little history on his company. “We are a small company focused on theatrical releasing. We’re kind of like a specialty boutique production company. We don’t do VOD releases or direct to video. We have a relatively small slate compared to some of our competitors. Typically, an IFC or Sony Picture Classics will do thirty or forty films a year. We’re more like ten or twelve films a year. From the get go the company was always designed for partnerships.”

    It was that spirit of partnership that brought Roadside Attraction to Amazon. Their first film together, “Chi-Raq,” opened to great critical acclaim. Thinking bigger has always been part of their DNA.

    Exhibition community is still establishing the rules with the rise of streaming services. Netflix, for example, likes to release everything on the same day. If you can watch it in theaters you can watch it on the app. But d’Arbeloff and Roadside believe that films like “Manchester by the Sea” wouldn’t exist without a theatrical release and critical discussion. Neither model is better, d’Arbeloff stressed. But he’s in the camp of traditional releasing.

    He explained the different aspects of his job, which include curating the right types of film. Prints and advertising budgets are a difficult challenge. One of the largest challenges is picking the right release date. Holidays, elections, award season and other film release dates all play a key factor in when a movie comes out. D’Arbeloff described this process as “reading the tea leaves.”

    During the Q and A portion one student, Theresa, asked, “Is there any advice to young filmmakers who get their shorts into festivals and are rewarded? How do we manage to transition to features from shorts? Should we wait for feedback or start on a new project?”

    Eric d’Arbeloff at NYFA LA

    “The great thing is there are multiple avenues to make a name for yourself,” d’Arbeloff replied. “I think it certainly helps if you’re a writer or someone who likes to read and is good at developing material. There was a time when I was a producer. I would go to Sundance and keep tabs on all the filmmakers. When I first started you really had to decide, ‘are you going to be in television or film? Are you interested in business or are you interested in creative?’ That’s not the case anymore. I really want to encourage you guys to try everything. There are no boundaries.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. d’Arbeloff for taking the time to speak with our students. Roadside’s latest picture by Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona) entitled “Love & Friendship” starring Kate Beckinsale is currently available on Amazon.

    For more information on Roadside Attractions, you can click here.

    April 19, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1185

  • NYFA Producing Dept. Hosts Evening with Producer Carla Singer

    Last week, the Producing Department at the New York Film Academy hosted an evening with producer Carla Singer. The event was moderated by NYFA NY Chair of Producing Neal Weisman.

    carla singer

    Singer is president and executive producer of Carla Singer Productions, an independent production company that has produced over 30 television movies as well as documentaries and reality series. Her credits include “Freshman Father,” a Hallmark Channel movie, and Disney Channel films “T*witches,” and “T*witches Too.” For TNT, the company executive produced “The Portrait” starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall, as well as “Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files.” At TBS Ms. Singer produced a documentary “The Black West,” which was nominated for a Cable Ace award. She also produced “A Refusenik’s Diary” for PBS, for which she received an Emmy.

    Her extensive credits include the made-for-television movies “A Marriage of Convenience” starring Jane Seymour, “Indefensible: The Truth About Edward Brannigan” starring Brian Dennehy, “Taken Away,” “Angel Flight Down” and “Cold Heart of a Killer.”

    Singer became vice president of drama programming for CBS Television at a time when hardly any women were accepted into upper management at the networks. As a female pioneer for the network, and the industry in general, Singer helped create the extremely successful drama series, “Murder She Wrote,” as well as “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and “The Equalizer.”

    carla singer with neal weisman

    Producer Carla Singer with NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman

    However, Singer’s career certainly wasn’t handed to her. Beginning her career in Israeli TV, Singer recalled working as an assistant director, but was credited and paid for the role of a PA due to the fact that she was a woman. Her career would continue to be an uphill climb due to her gender, but Singer kept one foot in front of the other and pressed on to tremendous success. While she feels there is still gender inequality in film and TV, Singer does acknowledge the progress since her beginnings.

    “You have to be very persistent,” said Singer. “You have to be risk tolerant. You have to take that risk — even if it’s scary.” Singer recalled two times in her life where she took a pay cut in order to work in a position that could propel her career into the direction she was confident would lead her on the right path.

    Singer advised students to appreciate and take advantage of the creative talent around them. After all, the people you’re working with now are going to be your network, and are going to climb the proverbial latter with you.

    While many of us get caught up in the creative aspect of filmmaking, Singer did advise producing students that, “It’s a business, and you need to make money. Even though that’s a bit crass. You should keep that in your head.” 

    “Carla Singer proved to be an inspiration to the cross section of NYFA Producers, Screenwriters, and Actors who attended the event,” said Weisman. “Emphasizing the need to take career risks and seek mentors, her wisdom gained from decades of television experience was both informative and motivating.”

    April 17, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 920

  • Actor Dolph Lundgren Screens “Rocky IV” at NYFA LA

    Star of “Rocky IV” and “The Expendables,” Dolph Lundgren, visited the Los Angeles campus of New York Film Academy this past week. Students from all majors filled the number twelve theater on the Warner Brothers lot. NYFA LA Admissions Director, Chris Devane hosted the evening.

    dolph lundgren

    Lundgren is well known for his roles as a karate-kicking villain in the James Bond film “A View to Kill” and He-Man in “Masters of the Universe.” Recently he’s been venturing into television. He hosted his own series “Race to the Scene.” He’s played himself in the Nickelodeon animated series “Sanjay and Craig,” and government strongman, Konstantin Kovar, in the CW’s “Arrow.”

    Devane asked a question from a student at the NYFA Australia campus. The student, Andy, asked, “What was your greatest challenge working as an actor?”

    Lundgren responded, “My greatest challenge is you want to make it fresh for yourself all the time. You have to find something fresh in the material for you to be excited about the role. I always have a secret about the character. I don’t tell anyone, not even the director. It takes something to make you excited to come to set every day.”

    One of the instructors in attendance, Aviv Rubenstein, asked, “Upon viewing this movie (“Rocky IV”) as an adult, it seems like Drago is more of a reluctant soldier. You don’t say, ‘I will break you.’ You say, ‘I must break you.’ How much of that is in the script, how much of that is in your performance, and how much of that is in the directing?”

    “You’re completely correct. Some of it was in Stallone’s script. Drago is the Frankenstein myth created by the system. Dr. Frankenstein is the bad guy and the monster is just the creation. That’s why I think this character resonates,” Lundgren said.

    lundgren at nyfa

    Lundgren also credited his dialect coach who not only helped him perfect his Russian accent but also was a Meisner trained actor. He helped Lundgren play the second level since Drago was so stoic they would have him behave embarrassed at certain lines, and these behaviors were not in the script.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Lundgren for taking the time to speak with our students. You can catch Dolph Lundgren in his upcoming films, “Nordic Light,” “Black Water,” and “Dead Trigger.” Lundgren has also recently joined Warner Bros. “Aquaman” film opposite Jason Momoa, which will be shooting at Village Roadshow Studios — where NYFA Australia Gold Coast students have the opportunity to film.

    April 13, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1586

  • Actress Maria Conchita Alonso Screens “The Running Man” at NYFA LA

    Maria Conchita Alonso, the Venezuelan actress with over one hundred credits to her name, brought her cult classic film “The Running Man,” co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the Los Angeles Acting for Film and Filmmaking students. Industry Q and A Director, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

    maria conchita alonso

    Conchita Alonso is both a very popular Latin singer and international actress. Her work on the screen includes “The House of the Spirits,” “Predator 2,” “Chicago Hope,” “Extreme Prejudice” and “Saints & Sinners.” Not content with just images, Conchita Alonso has also written lyrics and performed the vocal for a song in “Scarface.”

    She’s been honored with the Outstanding Actress in Made-for Television Movie or Mini-Series, the Pioneer Award at La Femme International Film Festival, Outstanding Performer of the Year at Nostros Golden Eagle Awards, and a Grammy nomination.

    Conchita Alonso walked onto the stage with her dog Tequila and the audience fawned appropriately. She had a lot of advice for the students. One particular piece that stands out is, “Don’t ever compare yourself with others. Just work on who you are!”

    maria conchita alonso nyfa

    At the beginning of her career she was told she could not sing, dance, act, and host. She should pick one and perfect it. By dividing her time she was weakening her shot. So, when she wanted to record Vamos A Bailar for “Scarface,” her agent suggested they submit her tape under a different name, so executives could hear her performance instead of seeing her name. It worked, of course, and an important lesson was learned: put your work forward, not your attitude. “Know you’re good, but don’t show it.”

    Vamos A Bailar eventually went to number one on the charts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Maria Conchita Alonso for taking the time to speak with our students. You can catch Conchita Alonso in “Off the Menu,” “He Matado a Mi Marido,” and “Kill ‘Em All” out later this year.

    April 7, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2216

  • Award-Winning Actor Matthew Modine Holds Master Class for Acting for Film Students at NYFA NYC

    With news of a Peabody Award nomination for the Netflix hit series, “Stranger Things,” it couldn’t have been a better time to have New York Film Academy’s long-time friend and board member, Matthew Modine, come in to hold an intimate master class for New York’s Acting for Film students.

    matthew modine

    Modine made his feature film debut in John Sayles’ “Baby it’s You” (1983), soon becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors with his contributions to three Vietnam War-era films. The first was Robert Altman’s “Streamers” (1983), in which he played a soldier preparing for decampment to battle, followed by a starring turn as the mentally unstable titular character of Alan Parker’s “Birdy” (1984). In perhaps the most recognizable role of his career, he narrated the horrors of war as the independent-minded Private Joker in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.”

    “Being invited to work with Stanley Kubrick certainly altered my life,” said Modine. I can’t relate him to any other director because I was there for two years. That just doesn’t happen anymore. The experience with Stanley wasn’t just a friendship. It was a mentorship, a job. It became something that was much more profound. It changed the way I think about art.”

    “He was such an analytical person,” Modine continued. “He was a chess player. There’s different ways of playing the game but the goal is to win. He was a great manipulator. His creative process was the thing that I don’t know if anyone knows the answer to.”

    Most recently, Modine won the SAG Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series award for the role of Dr. Martin Brenner in the Netflix original series “Stranger Things,” and appears in the “Sicario” sequel “Soldado,” the thriller “47 Meters Down,” and the British comedy of manners “The Hippopotamus,” directed by NYFA alumnus John Jencks.

    The award-winning actor began the evening by introducing each and every student in attendance at the theater. After calling out close to 70 students, Modine stressed the importance of understanding who a person is and where they come from. After all, we all come from different backgrounds and experiences and that’s what makes up for who we are. Recalling the classic Harper Lee book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Modine said, “You never really understand a person until you get into their skin and move around in it.

    Throughout the evening, Modine broke down powerful scenes from his films, including “Full Metal Jacket,” “Birdy,” “And the Band Played On,” “Married to the Mob,” and more. He was extremely personable and loose with the students, providing moments of laughter and sincerity. 

    Admittedly a very liberal person, Modine says — no matter where you stand politically or spiritually —that actors should understand and appreciate the enormity of the fact that, “What we do is very important. We tell stories that change people’s lives.” 

    April 6, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1810

  • Director Brian DeCubellis Screens “Manhattan Night” at NYFA NYC

    It was a film noir night for New York Film Academy Filmmaking students, who were treated to Brian DeCubellis‘ new film, “Manhattan Night,” coincidentally on a rainy night in lower Manhattan. The film stars Academy Award winner, Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Campbell Scott, and Jennifer Beals. Porter, played by Brody, is an investigative Daily News reporter who becomes involved with a mysterious woman, Strahovski, while investigating her late husband’s death.

    brian decubellis

    Brian DeCubellis with NYFA Filmmaking Chair, Claude Kerven

    Director Decubellis has written and directed films,  TV shows, commercials,  music videos and branded programming for MTV, Fox, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, Teen Nick, ABC and more. Formerly the founding Creative Director at MTV and Viacom’s creative group Scratch, his work has been recognized with an Effie Award, Ava Platinum Award, Creativity Annual, Beacon Award, Mobius Award, Gracie Award, Prism Award, the prestigious Peabody Award, Telly Award, and an Emmy nomination.

    He has directed programming with over 300 recording artists for MTV Networks as well as RollingStone.com and getmusic.com where he was the in-house video director.

    DeCubellis, who spoke to students after the screening, adapted the screenplay from the Colin Harrison novel, “Manhattan Nocturne.” From the moment he wanted to adapt the book until the film was in the theaters, was a span of about 17 years. While his background is in creating short content for TV and branded campaigns, DeCubellis had been motivated since film school to be a feature filmmaker and storyteller. He advised students to “keep making your stuff and building your reel. Keep writing if you’re a writer. Keep making shorts to really hone your craft, so you’re ready when you have that opportunity.”

    He also suggested that screenwriters read Blake Snyder’s, “Save the Cat,” and to truly work on their script until it is at a professional level and is enticing for actors. “When you’re writing the script, think of the actors and why they would like to do this.” Not only do you want to have talented actors in your film, investors want to see a package with known talent attached.

    DeCubellis also stressed the importance of knowing the financial side of the business, especially as an independent movie director. At the end of the day, you’re the one with the vision, and you’re the only one who can be the driving force behind your first feature film.

    Manhattan Night” is now available on VOD.

     

    April 3, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1488

  • Emily Seale-Jones Returns to NYFA to Talk About Creating Content

    The Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy has started a new Industry Trend series, which welcomes recent graduates who are at early and mid-level stages of their career. The series aims to provide current students with a glimpse of what their careers might look like in the near future.

    emily seale-jones

    Last week, as part of the Industry Trend series, Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby welcomed her former student, Emily Seale-Jones, who is an actress, writer, producer, and director. Seale-Jones spoke about creating content, specifically her web series “Frankie and Emma.” The series follows the daily, comical antics of two girls in London. Seale-Jones created the show and stars in it with Nancy Wallinger, who is known for “The Play That Goes Wrong” at London’s West End.

    Seale-Jones said she created the show in order to showcase her skills as both an actress and a filmmaker. “It’s really uncomfortable to promote yourself, but you have to get used to it,” she said. “If people aren’t going to bank on you, then you need to do the work and prove you’re bankable. You have to prove yourself.”

    At the end of the day, even if Seale-Jones is unable to sell the series to a network, she believes it’s important to get the work out there for people to see. That’s the goal. “If you want to do something, you just go ahead and do it,” added Seale-Jones.

    Her first experience creating content was at NYFA in 2011 when she decided to create a play with her fellow classmates and with Glynis as her director. Seale-Jones said NYFA broke down the wall of filmmaking, allowing her to believe the entire process of creating a film from idea to completion is feasible.

    Seale-Jones also spoke about her film, “To Tokyo,” which her brother wrote and directed over a four year span in Japan. The film is about a young woman, hiding from her past, who is confronted by her stepsister in Japan and forced to face the figure that haunts her in a world where dreams meet reality.

    With all of her projects, Seale-Jones has realized one major fact: “There has to be something that’s the driving force. You can’t rely on anyone except yourself.”

    March 29, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1135

  • Juanjo Gimenez Screens Palm d’Or Winning Short “Timecode” at NYFA LA

    Juanjo Gimenez brought his Oscar-nominated and Palm d’Or winning short “Timecode” to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. The writer and director stayed after the screening to discuss his short shoot schedule, the difference between features and shorts, and what he has planned for the future.

    Juanjo Gimenez

    Gimenez has been working in the film industry for over twenty years. Highlights of his career include “Tilt,” “Maxima Pena,” and “Esquivar y Pegar.” His experience in film isn’t limited to writing and directing. Editor, Cinematographer, Actor, Producer and Sound are all titles Gimenez has held on various sets making him a true student of cinema.

    NYFA students were thrilled to discuss the short turn around of “Timecode.” Gimenez informed the crowd that from concept to sale, to the final shoot day, was only fourteen days. Developed with a local university Gimenez instituted cost saving measures to bring the film in at cost.

    Using students as part of the crew offered an educational experience. The garage in which the film was shot was offered to them for free. Gimenez didn’t go into detail about how, but he was able to get a RED Dragon for almost nothing. The monitors through which the security guards watch one another are the same monitors on which “Timecode” was edited.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Gimenez for taking the time to speak with our students. You can learn more about Gimenez and follow his creative journey by clicking here.

    March 28, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1240

  • NYFA Welcomes VR Software Architect Chris Bobotis

    Last week, the New York Film Academy welcomed well-known VR artist, Chris Bobotis, to speak to students in our new VR program.

    chris bobotis

    Bobotis is the Co-Founder and 360/VR Software Architect at Mettle, which introduced 360/VR plugins that have been widely adopted by leading companies world-wide, such as The New York Times, Time, CNN, HBO, Google, youtube, Discovery VR, DreamWorks TV, National Geographic, USA Today, LinkedIn, The Ellen Show, BuzzFeed, Conan 360, Framestore, Google, Jaunt VR, GreenPeace, Care, UBER, RYOT, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Apple, and Facebook. Independent filmmakers and youtubers have also widely adopted the toolset available through Mettle, shaping the content that is available through YouTube, FaceBook, Samsung, and other 360/VR viewers.

    Founded in Montreal as a production studio by Chris Bobotis and Nancy Eperjesy in 1992, the team of artists and programmers who have consistently embraced art and tech, and pushed forward the notion of empowering artists with digital tools, developing software by artists for artists.

    Chris Bobotis

    Drawing on a vast experience of production and post-production workflows, Bobotis leads the development of all Mettle software. SkyBox 360/VR plugins are the most complete set of Cinematic 360/VR production tools available for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, and include a VR Player for Oculus RIFT.

    Chris generously spent a couple of hours lecturing on the theory of creating successful VR experiences, as well as demonstrating very practical how-to lessons with the software, which is used in the NYFA VR classrooms.

    At the end of the event, Bobotis offered an award to the best student VR project. Stay tuned!

    March 24, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2118

  • NYFA Veterans Treated to “Hacksaw Ridge” Screening with Mel Gibson

    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles welcomed Academy Award-winning director, Mel Gibson, to screen his Oscar-winning film, “Hacksaw Ridge,” to an audience of student military veterans. Associate Chair of Acting, Christopher Cass, and Veteran and MFA Acting for Film student Ron Ringo moderated the evening.

    mel gibson

    photo by Kristine Tomaro

    The Q&A began by asking how Gibson first came across the project, “Hacksaw Ridge.” “It was given to me three times by Bill Mechanic,” said Gibson. “He used to run Fox. He really has a passion. He loves film. I’ve never met a producer who was a big mucky-muck but was also willing to really get down in the trenches and get his hands dirty.”

    Gibson said working on this film was different than any other project before it. He is typically accustomed to creating original content or transforming a story from another medium to film. Desmond T. Doss’ story left a significant impression. Telling it correctly was a huge responsibility.

    “There were tears on the page,” Gibson said. “Among the Medal of Honor Recipients, Desmond was the guy. I mean, who goes into a place without a weapon? Generally, recipients do something incredibly courageous in an instant. Desmond was premeditated. He kept laying his life on the line, again and again. He’d crawl into enemy fire to get anyone. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”

    Gibson frequently uses military veterans in his films. He stated that there were Rangers in “We Were Soldiers” and vets in “Black Hawk Down.” “There’s something about marshaling a film crew and the chain of command and the difficulty — the ferocity of what it all takes to get a large number of people together that is kind of like a battle. You have this logistical way of trying to put things together. You have to have a general and a captain and Sargent. On a regular film, this is your First A. D. and the Director. They have to keep everyone’s morale up. Many people on set are veterans.”

    When it came time to for the Q and A portion of the event, one veteran stood up and asked, “When you’re preparing for a role or working with an actor do you listen to music to help set the mood?”

    Gibson responded, “I think music is very important because music transcends logic. It goes straight from your ear to your heart. I did an acting exercise when I was nineteen or something like that. You had to walk up to a person — could be a spouse, a brother, or a friend — and you’re never going to see that person ever again. And you’re saying goodbye for the last time.

    We all did this exercise, and everyone’s laughing and joking around. Then our instructor says he’s going to try out something different. He plays this soulful sort of Bram’s violin thing and we all had to do it again and everyone starts crying. I was amazed. It struck me how transcendent music can be. Music informs a lot of things. Almost everything you do filming wise is rhythmic whether it has music or not. Storytelling has a rhythm and a pace. Your heart, the sound of the ocean, it is all music. So, yes, I think it’s important.”

    mel gibson at nyfa

    photo by Kristine Tomaro

    Gibson also spoke about his first time on set as a director. The night before he was nervous, so he called up Clint Eastwood. Treating the student to an impersonation of Eastwood giving the advice, Gibson said, “Just say action and cut.”

    BFA Screenwriting student and Marine Corps veteran, Patrick Stinich had this to say about the experience, “It was an honor to watch this incredible true story brought to life in a very powerful way. You could tell that Mel Gibson really cares about what drives men that choose of their own free will to wade into the hell that a combat zone can become. I respect him very much as a storyteller, a director, and as a man for that. The 212-seat theater provided those of us who have served our country in a time of war a really intimate and rewarding experience with one of the film industries’ finest. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this event. I learned a lot.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Gibson for volunteering the time to speak with our veterans.

    “Hacksaw Ridge” is now available on VOD and DVD. Gibson will be starring in “The Professor and the Madman,” and “Daddy’s Home 2” later this year.

    March 21, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Veterans • Views: 2689