The long awaited event has happened. New York Film Academy returned to Russia with two special workshops. With excitement in the air, eager students were fully immersed in producing and screenwriting workshops throughout the weekend. With a strong emphasis on hands-on learning and practical exercises, the workshops allowed students to immediately apply the knowledge they gained throughout the weekend.
Moscow Screenwriting Workshop, an Inside Look:
NYFA screenwriting instructor, Paul Brown, an award-winning writer, director and producer, conducted the screenwriting workshop. Brown has worked in film and television for over twenty-five years. He has produced over one hundred television dramas, pilots, and movies, working on such series as “The X-Files,” “Quantum Leap,” “The New Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise.” He won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best TV Drama, and has been nominated for three Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes.
During the Workshop Orientation, students delved into the secrets of great stories and paired up to work on monologues.
Day One: Brown explained how to hook audiences with exciting movie concepts by showing scenes from popular films. He stressed the importance to wake up certain emotions in the audience. Students learned to develop characters with use of curiosity, compassion, charm and complexity. They examined the structure of the inner story and the inner story’s need, movie climaxes and examples of key scenes.
Day Two: Brown explained how to combine internal and external relationships of the characters, thematic storylines, dialogue and the importance of subtext.
The workshop culminated in the final presentation of the projects. Professional actors were invited to participate in the students’ short screenplays. Throughout the presentations of scenes, with no scenes longer than three minutes, the audience laughed, cried and cheered.
Student Feedback: “We had a chance to try ourselves not only as writers, but as directors and were able to work with professional actors. It was a very interesting experience. The classes were so valuable, not only in terms of receiving new information and practical skills, but also from a psychological point of view. Paul Brown made us thoroughly delve into ourselves and face our ‘skeletons in the closet’. It helped to release our fears and reconsider many things. I thank him for it!” said Wagina Yevgeniya.
Producing Workshop Highlights:
Lydia Cedrone, NYFA Head of MFA Feature Productions and former longtime Chair of Producing, taught the Producing Workshop. Cedrone is a film producer with credits including the MGM release, “The Betrayed,” and was an executive at The Walt Disney Company, Trimark Pictures and Savoy Pictures. She managed finances on more than two-dozen studio films, and oversaw company operations for filmmaker Michael Mann’s production company and finances for the film “Ali,” starring Will Smith, Jon Voight and Jamie Foxx. She urged producers to maintain a balance between finance and creativity. From her lecture, students learned that the producer is the driving force behind the project who manages all stages of the project’s lifespan, from developing the script to determining the necessary budget and securing investors, and from hiring the film’s cast and crew to guiding the project through distribution.
Many of the students in the Producing Workshop were working producers or had a background in the local film and television industries. These students participated to deepen their knowledge and to apply that knowledge to the U.S. standards and practices outlined in the workshop.
At the Workshop Orientation, students began to develop the concepts for their own projects.
Day One: On the first day, students learned about the roles of producers in film and television, producer hierarchy and project workflow. Private investors and funding independent films were discussed at length. Cedrone stressed a balance between financial transparency and the producer retaining full control of the project. She also covered, in detail, the main points of a independent film business plan for fundraising, as well as how to create a television series show bible, along with many other topics.
Day Two: Students learned the U.S. standard rules and practices of scheduling and budgeting. Cedrone led several interactive class exercises, along with a lively Q&A session. On the final evening, students presented their project loglines, along with a short project pitch, during this Mini Pitch Fest. Students clapped and cheered their classmates during the Pitch Fest, and the workshop ended with many friendships forged, along with the promise of many future collaborations.
“I am an actress, and NYFA gave me the opportunity to expand my vision of the film industry. I know how the industry works through the eyes of the artist, and these workshops showed me the production process from a different angle. I learned a lot of useful and interesting information in a short time! I am happy that I met Lydia Cedrone, she’s wonderful!” said Valeria Koltsova, one of the Producing Workshop students.
Another participant, Vasilyeva Margarita, added, “Despite the fact that I currently study producing at the University, the NYFA workshops were very useful for my professional growth! We talked about the producer’s responsibilities, finding funding, and about the world in which producers live. We discussed, in detail, the steps of implementation for different television and film projects, both independent and studio. Lydia Cedrone is a brilliant person and teacher, who knoews her subject and how to present it. It was amazing to spend the whole weekend in the classroom. We had a very warm, family atmosphere. I believe this course can be suitable to all, regardless of the previous level of training. Everyone will feel at ease.”
We thank the student participants in Moscow who made these recent Producing and Screenwriting Workshops such a great success!