Guest Speakers
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  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Casting Director Nancy Nayor as Guest Speaker

    This month, New York Film Academy Summer program acting for film and filmmaking students were invited to a Q & A with casting directing extraordinaire, Nancy Nayor after watching “Before I Fall,” which she has cast. Director of the Q & A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

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    Nayor who served for 14 years of head of Universal Feature casting before striking on her own, is best known for her work with directors such as: Steven Spielberg Spike Lee, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, John Hughes & Sam Raimi’s among many others.

    Her movies include the following: “Act of Valor,” “Ouija,” “Road Trip,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” “The Grudge,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “When a Stranger Calls,” “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl,” “Darkman,” “Casper,” and Wes Craven’s “Scream 4.”

    Nayor gave the students a strong list of do’s and don’t within the casting room. One that surprised many students was: do not shake hands, especially during germ season. Casting directors can meet with over 40 people in a day. They cannot afford to get sick.

    The biggest tip of the night was not to be too nervous and to not over-rehearse before going into an audition so the emotions can shine through. Prepare, yes, but Nayor shared that actors are not necessarily required to be off book, and should not be nervous about every flub. Directors are looking for multiple things, such as how well an actor works with a group or their ability to improvise. But most importantly, they want to know that an actor can be human on camera.

    Laiter asked Nayor about the difference between casting for comedy and drama. Nayor mentioned several differences: “I think it’s different in the sense that there’s a comic timing. People who have it are born with it. You can develop it, but in the end, you’re either born with it or you’re not. In dramatic casting people have to really go for it. Actors really have to commit.”  

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    Nayor also advised dramatic actors to stick to the script more so than comedic actors who may improvise. “When I worked on ‘21 and Over,’ people came into the audition room idolizing these two great writers from ‘The Hang Over.’ But the writers were so tired of their own words. They wanted the actors to improvise… ”

    One student asked, “How do you get discovered?” Nayor responded, “There’s no way you can be undiscovered, technically, because there’s this thing called YouTube. I’m a big believer in self-tapes, whether that’s actors and writers coming together or you writing for yourself. You don’t have to wait for permission to be creative. That project can be a calling card for you.”

    Laiter shared that some of the people who work with Spielberg, whether a composer or cinematographer, had said in NYFA Q&As that he had found them by watching movies on TV late at night, so you never know who is going to see it.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Nancy Nayor for taking the time to speak with our students. Naylor has done casting for 12 films scheduled for release in 2017 including “Delirium” and “Scorched Earth.”

     

    July 27, 2017 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 703

  • Gold Coast Q&A with Advanced Diploma Acting Alumnus Will Allen 

    On Wednesday, July 19, New York Film Academy alumnus Will Allen gave a Q&A at the NYFA Gold Coast campus. Since graduating in January 2017 from the Advanced Diploma of Acting program, Will has burst onto the acting scene, having already received credits on feature films such as, “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Australia Day” and “In Like Flynn.”

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    Students at the Gold Coast campus were given an invaluable insight into how Will used the opportunities and training provided to him by NYFA Australia to establish an acting career. Will explained how NYFA-run Q&A’s and master classes with industry professionals helped Copy of NU4A6298him prepare to break into the industry.

    Will was approached by Talent Manager Gael McDonald, of Williams Management, after an on-campus Q & A session about the industry. He subsequently signed with the agency and had his first audition within a matter of weeks. Will went on to get a featured extra role on “Thor: Ragnarok,” which was filmed at the Village Road Show Studio, where NYFA’s campus is located.

    As the floor opened up for questions from the students, one current acting student asked about his audition process and if he’s made any mistakes. Will responded, “There is no such thing as bad acting, there’s bad choices. Make sure your choices are on point and you’ll be fine … Everyone gets nervous. Every audition, I get nervous — but I prepare so well that when I walk into the room it’s controlled nerves so I use it to my advantage, as I would have more energy going into the room than I would if I did a self test.”

    Having graduated the from the Advanced Acting program in early 2017, Will explained the benefits of doing the second year of training at NYFA and how it’s helped him with his career: “The Advanced program is more business focused by informing you how to market yourself and how you get gigs out in the industry. In your first year you’re learning about yourself as an actor. You’re learning how to find you. In Advanced it’s business time and preparing you in how to put everything you learnt in action.”

    Copy of NU4A6320Will gave the students the following advice, “NYFA is a safe zone where you can explore and don’t feel embarrassed. Don’t pull back. Do the stuff you feel like you shouldn’t do.”

    On the feature film set of “In Like Flynn,” Will became good friends with Clive Standen, from “Vikings,” who took Will under his wing and became an ongoing mentor to him. In October 2017 Will is relocating to Canada with the aim to build and establish an acting career in American and Canada.

    July 2017 Acting Diploma student David Cook shared he appreciated this guest speaker, saying: “I liked Will’s honest approach and how he talked about always being truthful to yourself as an actor”

    May 2017 Acting Diploma student Ilia Valdez agreed, “It was wonderful to see that the lessons learned at NYFA have practical applications in the real world.”

  • NYFA Australia Welcomes Cinematographer Toby Oliver as Guest Speaker

    Sydney students were fortunate to hear from native Australian, award-winning cinematographer Toby Oliver, who has forged a successful career in the U.S. and internationally. Moderated by NYFA Australia Dean of Faculty Art Helterbran Jr., it was an inspiring Guest Speaker event which centered on the topic of work ethic in the film industry.

    Some of Mr. Oliver’s recent credits include thriller “Get Out,” with Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya, filmed in the U.S. state of Alabama. According to IMDB, “Get Out” ranked #1 at the U.S. Box Office on its opening weekend in February 2017.

    NYFA Sydney student Charlie was particularly pleased to hear from a cinematographer with so much experience working in intense movies. “I love horror films,” Charlie shared after the event. “It was so amazing to hear from a DoP who has worked on films I really loved. It’s was the best talk ever.”

    An accredited member of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS), and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), Toby’s credits also include the Australian WWI epic “Beneath Hill 60,” (Australian Academy nomination); TV movie “Beaconsfield” (Gold ACS Award and the ACS Best in Show); “Wolf Creek 2” (ACS Gold Award, Venice Film Festival); and “Carlotta” (Australian Academy nomination). In his uniquely international career, Toby has also created a prolific body of work in China, including the romantic Chinese-language “Waiting Alone” as well as the Australia/China co-production “33 Postcards.”

    Toby’s advice to the international student community of NYFA Australia centered on the importance of having a strong work ethic: “…(working in the film industry) is all about work ethic. If you want to do something, you got to do it properly…all the way through to the end.”

    He also pointed to having an awareness of the whole team on the film set as being essential to a film’s success, no matter the role. “Having actors who got that kind of skills to be aware of the filmmaking process, as well as their own performance, is not easy, but it can usually help make a better movie.”

    NYFA Australia students found Toby’s stories and insights particularly inspiring, given the cinematographer’s breadth and depth of experience. “Very inspiring to hear from a true Hollywood master,” said student Anthony. “This talk gave me a good idea how to work my way to success.”

    Fellow student Simon agreed. “Toby was generous with his time, sharing his insights and knowledge into the industry and his own creative and collaborative practice.”

    The New York Film Academy Australia would like to thank Toby Oliver for visiting our Sydney campus as a Guest Speaker.

  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Dreamworks’ Jeff Wike as Guest Speaker

    NYFA college, conservatory, and summer camp students gathered at the Riverside Theater at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus for a Q&A with DreamWorks chief technology officer, Jeff Wike. Mr. Wike has been with DreamWorks since before the renowned production company ventured into 3D animation. NYFA Chair of 3D Animation Craig Caton conducted hosted the event.

    Caton, also a veteran of DreamWorks, reminisced with Wike on what it was like to work in a space where the employees were provided a free lunch: a seemingly simple gesture from one of the largest animation companies in the world means a lot more than just a nice meal.

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    “One thing that’s unique about DreamWorks is the artists and technicians work together,” said Wike. “We work together, we eat together; breakfast and lunch everyday. Which is brilliant, by the way. Let me talk about free lunch. If you think about it, it cost about $10 a day to feed an employee. You’re sitting with the people you work with. I eat lunch every day with my director of boards. Not just because I like them, but also I get to catch up with them. Yeah, we talk about what we did last night or this and that, but a lot of what we talk about is work.”


    “It’s kind of a village and building a family,” Caton said, agreeing that eating lunch on campus fosters a sense of community. At DreamWorks, animators are hired to the company — not for a project. This means teams are working together for years, and every day they foster stronger relationships.

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    One student asked which operating systems should be mastered to help garner professional success in animation.

    “We do use Maya for layouts,” said Wike, spotlighting the Oscar-winning software taught in NYFA 3D animation programs. “We have a system we built on top of it called the Tiber. It allows us to do really interactive set dressing. It does a lot of lazy coding. We do use it in some character effect systems. Mostly we’ve been migrating a lot of that stuff to Houdini over the past six or seven years.”

    For rendering systems, DreamWorks has created their own rendering software, Moonray, used for feature films. A look at their logo might give insight to the inspiration for such a name. For TV the company employs Vray, while Maya is a go-to tool for a variety of other projects.

    The takeaway, according to Wike, is that animators need to know a little bit of everything. “You want to constantly explore,” Wike said as he explained that DreamWorks has a license for nearly every type of animation software on the market.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Jeff Wike for taking the time to speak to our students and the kids participating in teen and tween camps. DreamWorks’ “Captain Underpants” is in theaters now, while “Dawn of the Croods” and “Spirit” are currently streaming on Netflix.

    July 25, 2017 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 136

  • NYFA Welcomes Sherry Lansing and Stephen Galloway as Guest Speakers

    NYFA students at the Los Angeles campus were invited to an exclusive Q & A event featuring former Paramount Pictures chairman Sherry Lansing and Hollywood Reporter writer Stephen Galloway, who penned Sherry Lansing’s recent biography, “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker.” Director of Q and A series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Lansing started her career as a script reader and worked her way up the ladder until she became president at 20th Century Fox in 1980. Lansing was the first woman in history to hold the position.

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    Next, Lansing took on producing for such hits as “Fatal Attraction” (1987) and “Indecent Proposal” (1993). Later, Lansing became the chairman and CEO at Paramount where, for 12 years, she oversaw production and marketing on 200 movies — including blockbusters such as “Braveheart,” “Forrest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Titanic.”

    Lansing had a lot of advice for up-and-coming film creators. One large piece of advice was, “Returning every phone call is just good business. You never know were ideas come from.”

    ‘The executive’s job is to just find good talent,” she told students. “Every film that does poorly is my failure. Every film that does well is not my success.”

    Lansing left the entertainment industry at 60 to pursue an entirely new career in the non-profit industry, and created the Sherry Lansing Foundation, which focuses on cancer research and education. She sits on nine major profit and non-profit boards.

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    Galloway centered the book on Lansing’s journey from an insecure young girl to her incredible ability to make a space for herself where previously there had been no women, saying, “There was no Churchill before Winston Churchill. There was no Sherry Lansing before Lansing.”  

    One of the questions asked was, “What advice do you have for screenwriters and working with a budget? We are always instructed to write from our imagination, but I’ve heard other people say you should write for the budget. What do you think?”

    Lansing responded, “You should always write from the heart. Our job in the studio is to keep the eye on the budget.”

    Lansing advised that striking a harmonious balance is in the best interest of the writer, particularly when working with a studio: They have bought the script and will eventually do with it as they please. If the writer wants to stay on the project they should find a way to work with the studio.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Sherry Lansing and Stephen Galloway for taking the time to speak with our students.  

  • NYFA Veterans Division Screens “Between Iraq and a Hard Place” With Special Guest Q&A

    This month, the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) hosted a special screening of the military documentary, “Between Iraq and a Hard Place,” at its Los Angeles campus.

    Following the screening, NYFA Acting Instructor Michael Bershad moderated a Q&A with the film’s producer, Rex Pratt, and current MFA acting student, technical advisor and retired Navy/Marine Corps Chaplain Ron Ringo.

    (Left to Right) Moderator Michael Bershad discusses the process of making the film withProducer Rex Pratt and current MFA student and Technical Advisor Ron Ringo.

    The film takes a deep look at the impact that war has on members of our nation’s military when they return from home, and asks the question; Are we are really doing enough to help service members with this transition?

    Packed with raw and unfiltered footage from the war and personal interviews with the men that were there, the film helps the audience gain a valuable perspective on the issues that face our returning men and women who serve our country in the military.

    Marine Corps Veteran and BFA filmmaking student David Jimenez said:

    The film hit home. It captured the stress and fear of combat and how we still manage to have a sense of humor about things, and push through it all. The fact that they mention the difference between coming home on a ship and coming home on a plane is actually astonishing since no one normally thinks of that. I came home on a plane and I was literally on the I-5 freeway going home 25 hours after a mortar attack in the Middle East. The last scene in the film when they are being mortared was powerful. I remember being that scared when it happened to me. That is something that I don’t normally talk about with people.”

    For more information on “Between Iraq and a Hard Place,” please visit the film’s website

     

    by Michael Kunselman

  • NYFA Alumnus Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Screens “Magnificent 7” at Los Angeles Campus

    Screenshot 2017-07-17 13.23.05On Thursday, July 6, New York Film Academy alumnus, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, gave a Q & A at the Los Angeles campus. Garcia-Rulfo is known for his work on the “From Dusk Till Dawn” television series, “Cake” starring Jennifer Aniston, and “180 Grados.” 

    The Q&A event with Garcia-Rulfo included a special screening of “Magnificent 7,” and was attended by students currently enrolled at the NYFA college as well as the tweens from the NYFA summer camps. Associate Chair of the Acting Department Miguel Cruz hosted the evening.

    Garcia-Rulfo has achieved an incredible feat by working professionally in the entertainment industry both Mexico and the United States. He said he was able to achieve this by being selective with what acting projects he accepted early in his career.

    As a young actor in Mexico, Garcia-Rulfo was constantly offered roles in the telenovelas. “They offer you everything, in the beginning, to work on these soap operas. And you’re very hungry in the beginning. But I knew what I wanted my career to look like. I said no to a lot of things early in my career.”Screenshot 2017-07-17 13.23.22

    While he may have said no to parts that did not feel authentic, he poured everything into what he did love, including his studies in the 1-Year Acting for Film Program at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus.

    Of his time at NYFA Garcia-Rulfo said, “New York Film Academy really gave me the chance to work in front of the camera – a lot! Having that experience makes you comfortable to be in front of the camera. Once you get out of here [NYFA] you know everything. I already knew all the aspects of the camera setup and crew when I was on set – having that prior knowledge was one of my favorite things. NYFA gave me a base upon which to build. For that, I am very thankful.”

    Garcia-Rulfo shared a story with the students about his time at NYFA. He and a friend decided that if they were going to work after the graduated they would need representation. They each had a reel and a short film finished. Thinking this would be enough to win over an agent, they decided to rent out the ballroom of a fancy hotel in Beverly Hills. They shipped out fancy baskets filled with chocolate to every representative. “Manuel is a great Mexican actor,” Garcia-Rulfo would tell agents over the phone. They ordered cases of champagne and food. The ballroom was decorated and soon the big day arrived.

    “I don’t think even my mother showed up,” Garcia-Rulfo said.

    The point of the story, according to Garcia-Rulfo, is that craft should always come first.

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    “There’s no formula to this thing we’re doing,” Garcia-Rulfo explained. “If I have any advice to actors it’s this: just buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. It’s very tough. But, I think we have to enjoy that experience as well. Nurture your craft.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Manuel Garcia-Rulfo for taking the time to speak with our summer camp students and our college students. Garcia-Ruflo will be starring in the remake of “Murder on the Orient Express” alongside Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Penélope Cruz coming out November 10, 2017.

    July 7, 2017 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 669

  • NYFA New York Welcomes “The Magicians” Actress Jade Tailor as Guest Speaker

    Actress Jade Tailor of Syfy’s fantasy series “The Magicians” received a warm welcome to NYFA New York City’s campus as a recent Guest Speaker. NYFA Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby hosted the event, guiding the conversation through many inspiring stories from Tailor’s career. 

    “The big key is knowing your work so well that it doesn’t feel like work anymore,” Tailor told her audience of NYFA acting for film and musical theatre students. “Then you just get to play and enjoy it in the moment.”

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    Tailor is perhaps best known for her starring turn as Kady Orloff-Diaz in “The Magicians,” but NYFA students were inspired to hear the multifaceted artist’s story. The actress pursued her childhood dream despite various obstacles, and continues to nurture a passion for using her work as a platform to benefit others.

    “I’ve always wanted to fight for people who were not privileged, who had a difficult time,” Tailor shared, “And I am blessed to have this platform, and I feel it’s my duty to utilize it in any way I can. I think that’s what the drive is, now that I have some semblance of being in the spotlight: I want to utilize that for good. And I want to do work that inspires me and inspires others.”

    Growing up in Los Angeles with a mother who had worked as an actress in the 1970s and a father who had served in the Israeli Army’s Mossad division, Tailor says her family background gave her a unique perspective and helped her prepare for the realities of the industry, with a deep appreciation for training and craft.

    “In a lot of ways those two aspects [of my parents] were a foundation of me working that hard,” Tailor explained. She learned to overcome nerves as a child in acting classes with actress Dee Wallace, of “E.T. the Extraterrestrial” fame. Upon deciding to pursue acting as an adult, Tailor candidly shared that there were years of “literally counting pennies to pay the rent,” a reality that encouraged many students to hear acknowledged by a working actor.

    “It was definitely a long arduous road,” Tailor said. “But I knew I would get there if I put everything into it.”

    The actress repeatedly emphasized the importance of developing confidence and making the decision to focus on the craft above all. She shared that this shift in mindset helped her enjoy the process and connect with her character during a pivotal audition for the producers of “True Blood,” where she went on to portray lead actor Stephen Moyer’s first victim.

    “I really let go in that room and went, who is this character, what is her intention here? And I connected to the work and who she was, and I got a call a couple of hours later that I got the job.”

    After booking “True Blood,” Tailor shared, “I was like ‘Yes I made it!’ and then I got no work. There are gonna be moments where you get this great gig and then there’s a lull for a long time.”

    She stressed the importance of “having a great team behind you” as an actor, as well as “being conscious of the fact that you are going to have to sustain” through slow seasons as well as busy seasons. Tailor’s hard work was rewarded in 2015 when she booked “Aquarius” with David Duchovny: “I’ve been lucky to work with amazing people,” she said. 

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    It was while working on “Aquarius” that Executive Producer John McNamara approached Tailor about reading for a role in “The Magicians,” which turned out to be a surprising story as well. Tailor originally auditioned for the role of Margot, but producers decided the role of Kady was a better fit, a character very different from the roles Tailor had previously portrayed on television. 

    “I am so lucky to be on this amazing show that I love and that’s really fun with a great cast and crew,” Tailor said of “The Magicians.” Yet even in this busy season, the actress has her vision cast for the long term, and is working to develop projects through her own production company, Eyeris Entertainment.

    Tailor executive-produced “But I Love Him,” a film born through the actresses’ volunteer work as a domestic violence counselor. The piece dramatizes a woman’s experience through the cycle of abuse, and premiered at various festivals. “But I Love Him” is now used by various organizations as an education tool for raising awareness about domestic violence.

    Among the many nuggets of wisdom Tailor shared, she advised students to trust their own uniqueness, bring their own authenticity to each role, and build confidence through hard work. This is advice Tailor puts into practice herself. “The work is so important to me,” shared Tailor, “And I always want to do work that is meaningful and inspires me and inspires others. I think when you’re inspired yourself it’s going to read to other people and then other people are going to be inspired too.”

    When students asked about her acting technique, Jade jokes that she calls herself an “eclectic realist,” pointing to the uniqueness of each human being. “We have different things that will resonate, with some of us more so than others,” she explained. “Some people are more logical beings, some of us are more emotional beings. For me, I’m instinctively more emotional.”

    In imagining what’s next for her, Tailor shared she’d love to return to live performance. She has a passion for theatre, having sung at The Blue Note and performed in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Of the stage, Jade says, “It’s my background and my heart, and to go back to Broadway at some point would be amazing … but to do good work that inspires people, that’s really the end goal.”

    Season 2 of “The Magicians” is now available on Netflix. The New York Film Academy would like to thank Jade Tailor for her visit in our Guest Speaker Series.

    July 7, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 966

  • NYFA Hosts Actor Matt Ross in Guest Speaker Series

    The New York Film Academy was proud to welcome director and actor, Matt Ross, to the Los Angeles campus for a screening of his latest film, “Captain Fantastic.”  Director of the Q and A Series Tova Laiter, a producer known for her work on “Glory,” hosted the evening. Student packed the theater to standing room only.

    Matt Ross is a standout character actor in Hollywood. In the film world, he’s known for such hits as “American Psycho,” “The Aviator,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and “Twelve Monkeys.” He’s no stranger to television either, having appeared in “Six Feet Under,” “Big Love,” “Magic City,” “Revolution,” “American Horror Story,” and, most recently, on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” as Gavin Belson.  

    Matt Ross 006Ross is also a writer and director. His latest work, “Captain Fantastic” stars Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash, a man who raises his six children in the wilderness with his wife. The family has shunned all technology, but when Ben’s wife dies, he has to take his children out into the world.

    Laiter asked Ross about navigating the tension between the time one needs to immerse oneself in his/her profession, and the time one needs for parenting.

    “We live in a culture where you have to navigate work and parenting,” Ross said. He felt that it was easier for him to do this than many of the women he’s met that try to do the same thing. Society is ok with him being a father and a working creator. There’s a lot of societal pressure to be the perfect mom first.

    Laiter then turned the conversation to Ross’ beginnings. Ross grew up in rural California to similar circumstances as depicted in the movie, not knowing anyone in the entertainment business, but he applied and was accepted to Juilliard’s acting program. “I made films before I acted. I didn’t think I wanted to act. I just wanted to tell stories and that’s all acting is.”  

    But Ross was not satisfied with acting alone, revealing, “I taught myself to write.”

    His film “28 Hotel Rooms,” which portrays discovering marriage after romance, was inspired by director Mike Leigh, who workshops intensively with his actors. The short film received notice at Sundance and led to him writing and directing “Captain Fantastic,” which won him directing kudos in Cannes and a SAG nomination for Viggo Mortensen.

    Matt Ross 003Students were eager to speak with Ross about his acting career. One student asked, “How does the on-set dynamic and environment change as an actor as you’re working on sets like ‘American Psycho’ with actors like Christian Bale, as opposed to working on ‘Silicone Valley’ with comedians like T.J. Miller and Kumail Nanjiani?”

    “I don’t think there’s any difference,” Ross responded. “I don’t come from comedy,  improvisation or stand-up. But, I think it’s all problem-solving. For comedy, you have the added difficulty of identifying and illuminating what’s humorous, whereas with drama you’re more focused on illuminating the perceived truth. It’s the same goal.”

    One student asked Ross if having so many children on set of “Captain Fantastic” was an exceptional challenge for him as a director.

    Ross replied, “They’re not difficult in the ways that people think they’ll be difficult. The difficulty was that they were having too good a time and so they’re playing around too much. I was worried about losing the light.”

    Ross advised the students, “Everyone has a process. My job is to create an environment in which their process can flourish. Kids need more time to get in character. Charlie was really young. Sometimes I’d have to break things down. Sometimes Viggo would push Charlie. Sometimes I would give him things to try. We’d play until we got it right.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Matt Ross for taking the time to speak with our students. “Captain Fantastic” is now available for download on Amazon.

    July 5, 2017 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1450

  • Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond Screens His Classic “The Man Who Fell to Earth” At NYFA Los Angeles

    On Monday, June 26 New York Film Academy students were treated to a star-studded screening. NYFA’s Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond screened his classic film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” The film’s leading lady Candy Clark joined him for the discussion of one of David Bowie’s most popular films.

    Directed by Nicolas Roeg,The Man Who Fell to Earth is about an alien (Bowie) trying to save his planet by siphoning water off of Earth. To do so, he assumes the identity of Thomas Jerome Newton, starts a billion dollar company, and moves in with Mary-Lou (Clark). But the creature could not predict the cruelty of business done here on Earth and soon must face the consequences.

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    Film critic and frequent NYFA collaborator Peter Rainer hosted the Q and A. Rainer kicked off the evening by enquiring about working with the renowned director and frequent collaborator of Richmond, Nicholas Roeg.

    Landing the lead male role for any film can be difficult. Roeg originally had someone else in mind for the role. As Richmond shared, “Nick’s first choice was Michael Crichton. He was very tall. He was going to do it and then pulled out. The whole thing kind of fell apart. Then Nick saw ‘Cracked Actor,’ a documentary on David Bowie on the television. They scheduled a meet-up. Bowie kept him waiting for about six hours, eventually said he would do it, and then we were off and running.”

    Many perceive “The Man Who Fell to Earth to be a science fiction film. According to Rainer, this is not the case: The themes are much more closely related to a family drama. This weird blend of genres along with the magnetism of superstar David Bowie at the helm the film led to the creation of a hit. But, as actress Candy Clark told students, not everyone thought that success would translate.

    “It’s a two hour and twenty-three-minute movie,” Clark began. “Donald Rugoff, head of Cinema 5 at the time, was like Harvey Weinstein. He had a reputation for putting out art house films that exemplified the director’s vision. But with this film, he started seeing dollars. Nick Rogue and Graeme Clifford had spent a year and a half meticulously cutting this film, piece by piece. Rugoff got a hold of it. Despite his reputation, he decided to cut twenty-three minute. He hired a guy who cuts commercials. This film took a year to cut. The new guy did it in a week. He just willy-nilly took out stuff.”

    While touring to promote the film, Clark saw the fist American cut of the film.  She called Nick immediately after, but the damage was done. “Years later I called up Cinema 5. I pitched this big lie that I was getting asked about the film all of the time.” Clark then convinced them to release the original cut of the film, saying she told them, “You don’t have to spend any money. Just take the original poster and add a banner with the word: uncut. I’ll promote it any way you want … As a result, the American cut has dwindled to the wayside. All that is seen now is the director’s cut. It’s now out on Criterion. I never gave up on this film.”

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    During the Q and A, one student asked how Richmond planned so many of the daytime shots to get the light just right.

    Richmond revealed, “I would like to say that I did it. But I was so, so lucky with the sky. Every time we did some vast exterior there would be this incredible sky. The scene with the cottage, for instance, that cloud hung over the cottage all day. It never moved. I went back to Mexico and I was going through this little town and I felt like I’d been there. Now, it’s a huge artist commune.” The location holds artistic magic.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tony Richmond and Candy Clark for sharing their experiences with our students. We would also like to thank Peter Rainer for hosting the night’s festivities. The 4k restoration of “The Man Who Fell to Earth is now available everywhere Blu-Rays are sold. Rainer’s book “Rainer on Film” is also available for sale on Amazon.