Guest Speakers
Category

  • Linshan Zhao Screens ‘The Assassins’

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    assassinspic

    Director Linshan Zhao at New York Film Academy in Union Square

    This Thursday, the New York Film Academy welcomed Chinese director, Linshan Zhao, to screen his film The Assassins. The Chinese historical drama stars Chow Yun-fat as Cao Cao, a prominent warlord who became the de facto head of government in China towards the end of the Han Dynasty. Being that the film has yet to be released in the United States, our students were in for a rare cinematic treat.

    Having ten years of commercial directing under his belt, Zhao had been writing a screenplay for four years. Once producers got their hands on his script, they knew it needed to be made. With that, Zhao raised nearly eighteen million dollars to shoot what would become his first feature film, The Assassins. “It has always been my dream,” said Zhao “Since I was little, I wanted to be a director, and that was my biggest inspiration.”

    Zhao’s next steps are to release the film all over the world, starting with Asian countries and working his way toward North America. He’s also working on his next project, My Super Ex, based on a popular Chinese Twitter feed. Zhao jokingly commented on how we all have those stories from past relationships, and he’s willing to hear them all to help shape his next film.

     

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 1, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 3653

  • Oscar-Winning Cinematographer and Veteran Actor Visit NYFA Students

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler speaks to students

    Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler speaks to students

    Haskell Wexler recently visited students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. The 91-year-old cinematographer was named as one of the ten most influential cinematographers by the International Cinematographers Guild. In the course of his career, he lensed such seminal films as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, In the Heat of the Night, American Graffiti, and The Thomas Crown Affair. He has been nominated for a total of 5 Oscars, and has won two.

    Wexler watched clips of cinematography students’ films, and gave them valuable feedback. “It was an amazing experience to have him share his thoughts and experience with us,” said Diego Gilly, an MFA Cinematography student. “I feel deeply honored to have had the opportunity to share some of our work with him, and hear what he had to say.”

    Robert Forster sized select

    Actor Robert Forster leads a master class for actors

    Oscar-nominated actor Robert Forster, who starred in 1969’s Medium Cool, written and directed by Haskell Wexler, also recently paid a visit to New York Film Academy. In addition to his numerous television roles, Forster is known for his roles in Mulholland Drive, Me, Myself, & Irene, The Descendants, and his Oscar-nominated role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

    Forster led a master class for acting students, telling stories from his life and career, answering questions, and giving advice. “The camera looks real deep into you,” he said. “It knows whether you’re lying or not. If you want your audience to admire you, you have to be someone they can admire. You have to have the qualities that make a person worth admiring. Then it’s easy to deliver that on screen.”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 25, 2013 • Academic Programs, Acting, Cinematography, Guest Speakers • Views: 5668

  • Philip Dorling Screens “Why Stop Now”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    This Monday evening, the New York Film Academy welcomed back former 1-Year filmmaking graduate, Philip Dorling. Philip’s last visit came back in 2011 when he screened his thesis film, “Predisposed.” Since then, Philip raised funds to shoot the feature with Melissa Leo, Jesse Eisenberg, and Tracy Morgan. The film was accepted at Sundance and picked up for distruction by IFC. Along the way, the title was changed to Why Stop Now, which Philip says was the producers’ idea. Though, Eisenberg eventually came up with the wording for the title. This being one of several compromises Philip had to make in order to successfully finish his feature film. As the evening’s host, NYFA Instructor Tassos Rigopoulus puts it, “Filmmaking is all about compromises.”

    Philip suggests young filmmakers take the independent route, as opposed to writing a script and trying to get it in front of a big agent or producer. “If you want to make independent films, you should try to relate to someone who can raise money,” says Philip. Ultimately, Philip was able to convince three major actors to believe in his vision and after three years of planning, the financing eventually came from BCDF Pictures. With NYFA’s intense training and busy schedule under his belt, Philip was able to pull off a twenty day shoot on a relatively small budget, especially for feature standards. And from the words of renowned film critic Roger Ebert, “Why Stop Now is a bright screwball comedy about one fraught day in the life of a piano prodigy, his crackhead mother and her drug dealers.” Not a bad critic to have on your side.

    The young director is currently in the middle of raising finances for his next project, Eat My Love, which he began writing two days after Why Stop Now was completed. Not only that, Philip extended an open invitation to NYFA filmmakers and actors to be a part of his next film. He hopes to have more details in the near future.

     

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 12, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4933

  • David Lynch Foundation Event

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    photo (12)

    Executive Director Bob Roth

    This past Saturday and Monday evening, the New York Film Academy hosted a screening event with the David Lynch Foundation at our Union Square campus. The documentary covers renowned filmmaker, David Lynch’s 16 country tour as he spreads his philosophy of transcendental meditation.

    “I have been ‘diving within’ through the Transcendental Meditation technique for over 30 years,” says David Lynch. “It has changed my life, my world. I am not alone. Millions of other people of all ages, religions, and walks of life practice the technique and enjoy incredible benefits.”

    The meditation techniques are aimed to alleviate, and hopefully eliminate, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other stress-related disorders. The unique benefits of TM technique are well documented by extensive research.

    Saturday’s event was represented by David Lynch Foundation’s Lil Malinich, Jessica Wisk, and Executive Director Bob Roth. While Monday’s event was hosted by Director of Programs, Peter Trivelas. “NYFA students are passionate, courageous, and genuinely curious to know more about what can enlighten and strengthen their work as artists,” said Lil Malinich from the David Lynch Foundation. We couldn’t agree more.

    Both events were a tremendous success, with a full house of curious students and transcendental meditation enthusiasts. We want to thank the David Lynch Foundation for setting up two enlightening evenings to share with our community at the New York Film Academy.

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 7, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5382

  • Oscar Winner Wally Pfister Talks Chris Nolan

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Over 400 students signed up to attend Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister’s Q&A in after the screening of Inception for New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. The atmosphere in the room could only be described as a rock concert. And though Pfister was recovering from a bout of food poisoning, he wasn’t going to let down the auditorium full of excited students, who greeted him with cheers of “Wally! Wally!” He spoke about his long-time collaboration with Chris Nolan, saying, “Chris is an incredible storyteller and incredible screenwriter.”

    Following an interview with producer Tova Laiter and Cinematography Chair Michael Pessah, Pfister took questions directly from the students who lined up in what can only be described as a conga line to ask the master about his work. “You have to take risks,” he said. “That’s what will make your career last longer. You have to fight to get your vision on the screen (but not fight with your director).”

    Besides winning the Oscar for Inception in 2011, Wally also garnered Oscar nominations for The Dark KnightThe Prestige, and Batman Begins, and is well known for his work on Insomnia, The Italian Job, Moneyball, Memento, and The Dark Knight Rises.

    MFA Screenwriting student Jordan Farrester said, “It was great to be there with someone who has worked on some of the biggest films of the past ten years. He was really thoughtful and insightful, and had a lot to say about the industry and his vision.”

    Pfister’s latest project is his feature film directorial debut, Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp, and written by NYFA instructor Jack Paglen. The film is slated for release in 2014.

     

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 31, 2013 • Academic Programs, Cinematography, Guest Speakers • Views: 6397

  • Art Imitates Life for Horror Film Director

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    Screenwriting Chair Eric Conner with 'Smiley' Director Michael Gallagher at New York Film Academy

    Screenwriting Chair Eric Conner with ‘Smiley’ Director Michael Gallagher

    Director Michael Gallagher attended summer camps at New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios campus 3 times as a youngster. He started making short films, music videos, and documentaries while in high school. Since then, he has started a wildly popular web series called Totally Sketch, which has over 850,000 subscribers on YouTube.

    During a recent guest speaker event at New York Film Academy, Gallagher shared his recently-released horror film, Smiley, which was released in theaters nationwide. He described how his experience with internet shorts helped prepare him for his first feature length film. “Most of the sketches I shoot are like little scenes,” he said. “It was like 110 sketches in a row.” Working with a tight budget, the indie film was shot in just 15 days, and the filmmakers were shooting as many as 8 pages of the script per day. But as Gallagher puts it, “Horror movies fit the low budget. You can do a lot more with a little.”

    Gallagher cast friends and actors with large YouTube followings to help build buzz around the film. To date, the trailer has racked up over 21 million views on YouTube. At just 23 years old, his first feature length film was about to be released in AMC theaters across the nation. Things were going well until users of the website 4Chan got wind of the film’s plot.

    Gallagher said he was going for authenticity when he decided to make 4Chan users the villains of his film. In an interview with Huffington Post, he said, “I anticipated a minor backlash of people leaving harassing comments online.” But he didn’t anticipate the website’s users posting his home address, his personal information, and leaving dozens of death threats on his cell.

    After interviews with the TODAY ShowInside EditionVarietyPaste (and the FBI), 4Chan users realized they were only giving him free publicity. Just as the movie was released in theaters nationwide, the threats disappeared.

    Much to 4Chan’s chagrin, we’re happy to report the Smiley DVD is now available for pre-order.

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 14, 2012 • Academic Programs, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5531

  • Making it in Hollywood with Donald De Line

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Producer Donald De Line recently visited students at New York Film Academy as part of the ongoing guest speaker series, following a screening of The Green Lantern. De Line served as President and Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures, before moving on to Touchstone Pictures. During his tenure as President of Touchstone, he oversaw films including Pretty Woman, Father of the Bride, Ransom, What’s Love Got to Do With It, Rushmore, Ed Wood, and the worldwide blockbuster, Armageddon.

    “My thing was always just to work hard, stay in my office, and keep my head down,” says De Line. “Jeffrey Katzenberg always said that you have to be like a race horse with blinders on. You have to look straight ahead and know what you’re looking for.”

    De Line did just that, and scored his first major hit as a solo producer with The Italian Job, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton. He also produced Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies, and John Hamburg’s I Love You Man.

    “Always be studying,” he said to the theater of New York Film Academy students. “Always be working in whatever form you can. Keep your instrument going. And then learn everything that you can about the business. Stay educated. Know what movies are being made around town. Read the trades. Read every script you can get your hands on.”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    November 27, 2012 • Guest Speakers • Views: 6630

  • Interview with Director Robert Zemeckis

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    The New York Film Academy had a chance to speak with A-list director, Robert Zemeckis! Robert Zemeckis owned the 80’s and 90’s with his classic Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away. Zemekis earned respect from critics and colleagues, while grossing quite a hefty penny at the box-office. His direction of Forrest Gump won him an Oscar for Best Director. It’s pretty safe to say that the filmmaker has established himself as one of the elite directors in Hollywood.

    The New York Film Academy offers many workshops and programs for those wishing to learn film direction.

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 31, 2012 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5637

  • Getting a Break at an Early Age

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Victoria Justice Actress

    The “calling” often comes at an early age, but it’s not too often that a performer becomes successful until years of persistence and hard work. That’s not to say Victoria Justice didn’t put in her dues, but she didn’t have to wait long for her first break into the business. The teen actress and pop singer is best known for her work on Nickelodeon’s Zoe 101, and her pop album, Victorious. Recently, Victoria made the jump to motion pictures. Her newest film, Fun Size, stars Jackass star, Johnny Knoxville, and Chelsea Lately’s, Chelsea Handler. The film is The O.C. and Gossip Girl creator, Josh Schwartz’s directorial debut, and Victoria’s first real opportunity to make a name for herself on the big screen.

    Victoria’s life wasn’t always jumping from show to show, movie to movie, and album to album. She, like every aspiring young actress, began by auditioning for a television commercial. Though, she may have been luckier than most actresses. “My first job ever was an Ovaltine commercial and I was eight years old. I was so excited,” recalled Victoria. “It’s my first audition and I ended up booking it. To me, that was the biggest break anyone could ever have.”

    While this certainly put Victoria on the map, it didn’t necessarily start her career as a buzzing teen star. “I remember auditioning for Zoey 101 as their new series regular. They needed a new roommate for Jamie Lynn Spears, who played Zoey. They were auditioning a bunch of girls for that role and I ended up getting it. I remember I was actually on set filming a Hallmark short film for Christmas time called Silver Bells, and my agent called me and let me know I had just booked a new role in Zoey 101. The creator, Dan Schneider called me personally to congratulate me and I was freaking out. It was such a surreal feeling. I was on such a high. I think that’s kind of what started my career.”

    Victoria Justice Fun SizeFrom there, Victoria spent her teen years as a child of Nickelodeon. Life was pretty good for the young actress. However, Victoria wasn’t a shoe in for Fun Size, despite its ties to Nickelodeon. “I definitely did have to audition. It was not just handed to me. I had to work for that role. “

    It seems Victoria has a knack for performing. After all, she landed her first audition at the age of eight in a national commercial! So, where did this confidence come from? “Definitely my mom. We spend a lot of time together and she’s an incredible mentor. I don’t think I would be at the place I am in my career right now if it wasn’t for her. She’s guided me to make the right choices, she’s helped pick the right team of people surrounding me. She’s just a really smart, genuine, and a great person that I’m very lucky to have in my life.” Based on her personal relationship with her mother, Victoria will have to pull out some of her acting chops for her newest film. She plays the role of Wren, who takes on the responsibility of her brother due to a broken relationship with her mother, played by Chelsea Handler. Wren is your typical teenage girl who happens to have one of her Halloween’s turned completely upside down. “It’s a coming of age story in a lot of ways. I think we can all relate to growing up, learning about ourselves and finding ourselves. I related to her in that way as well.”

    See Victoria Justice in the new movie, Fun Size, when it’s released in theaters on October 26.

    -Frank Pasquine, Director of Social Media at New York Film Academy

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 15, 2012 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5088

  • Classic Art in Video Games

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Chris Solarski in New York Film Academy

    This Thursday the New York Film Academy‘s Game Design and 3D Animation program welcomed guest lecturer, Chris Solarski. Chris is an artist game designer and author of Drawing Basics and Video Game Art: Classic to Cutting Edge Art Techniques for Winning Video Game Design. With a Bachelor’s in computer animation, Chris began working as a 3D character and environment artist for Sony Computer Entertainment in London. Later, he enrolled in art classes at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, where his interest in applying classical art techniques to video games began. It was after a lecture by visual artist, Andrew Jones, that Chris found his true calling. “I was so impressed with his ability to create something out of nothing,” recalled Chris. “I knew I needed more training. I had catching up to do.”

    The students were treated to an hour lecture that was truly fascinating and well thought out. Chris’ lecture focused on the connection between classic art and modern video games. Yes, that’s correct. While it may not be obvious at first glance, Chris was able to dissect classic works of art to validate his points. Using comparisons from the work of artists like Degas and Boticelli, Chris was able to show the influences these artists have on modern gaming. Much like an intricate painting or drawing, a crucial element in game design is emotion. Emotion can be conveyed through composition, contrast, and the structure of images. These elements are essential in the development of any art, and Game Design and 3D Animation are no different. “The composition and contrasting elements have a very strong impact on emotion.”

    One of Chris’ most recent games that he enjoys the most is Journey, mainly due to the composition and emotion of the experience. “It is important to know the emotional experience from the outset and use composition to create the player experience.”

    Chris currently develops his own video games under Solarski Studio, with the aim of exploring new forms of player interaction and creating more expressive and varied emotional experiences in games. “My job is to validate video games.”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 5, 2012 • 3D Animation, Acting, Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 4094