NYFA South Beach Instructor Peter Baloff Holds Virtual Q&A with Emmy Award-Winning Producer and Director Michael Pressman

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We’re collaborative artists. Our creative process involves working face to face and hand to hand, finding common objectives and making it all happen. As an instructor at NYFA South Beach during this pandemic, I miss the personal connection with my students and I know my students miss the social and professional interactions with their fellow students. We all miss being there.

Peter Baloff (Left) holds virtual Q&A with Michael Pressman (Right)

I keep looking for silver linings in this time of pandemic. I’m upgrading my landscaping, enjoying my wife’s new-found love of baking, reading more and catching up on some pretty good movies and TV shows. But it’s been hard finding silver linings teaching my students on Zoom. But this week, at long last, a silver lining appeared on Zoom, which I’d like to share with you here.

For the past few years I’ve wanted to invite guest artists to our South Beach campus – accomplished actors, directors, producers, casting directors, cinematographers, so many other journeymen filmmakers with whom I’ve worked over the course of thirty years writing, producing and directing in Los Angeles. 

As it turns out, Zoom opened the door for my first guest artist invitation. For those who attended, there’s no doubt a good time was had by all – by not only our South Beach students, but all students across NYFA’s campuses. 

Michael Pressman (Right) on set with Richard Pryor for ‘Some Kind of Hero’

Michael Pressman directed his first feature film when he was only 26 and went on to direct quite a few big studio hits, including Dr. Detroit and Some Kind of Hero, starring Richard Pryor. He ventured into television, directing TV movies and dozens of episodes of quality TV shows, such as Law and Order, Grey’s Anatomy, The Guardian and Sneaky Pete. As an Executive Producer, Michael became an experienced “Show Runner,” winning two Emmys for the acclaimed series, Picket Fences. His IMDB speaks for itself. 

A natural story-teller, Michael regaled us with tales of working with famous actors, dealing with the studio system, casting, getting the most out of collaborating artists and coping with the ever-changing filmmaking technology. He advised our students on breaking into the business and offered strategies for success. 

I’m convinced the intimate Zoom platform, allowing Michael and I to talk to each other like old friends, was an ideal and more comfortable format for Michael – far better, I believe than a staged event before a live audience. I’m told by those who watched it, the Zoom meeting with Michael Pressman resembled a late night talk show, as entertaining as it was informative. 

Let’s all keep looking for those silver linings, knowing we’ll get together in person very soon.

For more information on our NYFA South Beach programs, please contact  southbeach@nyfa.edu or check out our website here.

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Peter Baloff
New York Film Academy - South Beach

Peter Baloff has written and produced movies and television shows for most of the major studios and networks, including Universal, Disney, NBC, and Fox.

​Peter started his writing career as a playwright. After winning the Norman Lear Award for Playwriting and the David Library Award for Playwriting, he moved to Los Angeles to write for film and TV. Over the past 25 years, Peter has sold over a dozen screenplays (six produced) and worked on numerous network television shows and network specials. QuicksandNo Escape (Universal) won the Writers Foundation Award for Best Screenplay in 1992. The Undertaker recently optioned, was cited by the Writers Guild of America, West as one of the top-10 unproduced comedies.

Peter has taught Screenwriting for the U.C.L.A. Writers’ Program and currently teaches Screenwriting for the New York Film Academy.