Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • AFA Filmmaking Grad to Screen ‘Ticketed’ at Cannes

    ticketed

    It cannot be stressed enough how valuable social media and crowdfunding have become in terms of independent filmmaking. As a student filmmaker working on a strict budget, it’s often times an essential part of pre-production. AFA Filmmaking graduate Shantal Freedman took full advantage of this avenue, launching a successful crowdfunding campaign back in September 2014 which raised enough money to get her through the production of her film Ticketed. Freedman recently turned to fans to launch another crowdfunding campaign to raise $7,000 to finish her thesis film.

    This May, Freedman will premiere her film, Ticketed, at the Cannes Short Film Festival. The film focuses on a small town cop, Jackie, who spends most of her time writing out parking tickets. As a trained police officer, all Jackie wants is a little more action: to bust a bunch of bad guys like the cops on TV. When the opportunity knocks, a group of miscreants seize the chance to steal a winning lottery ticket worth $60,000,000.

    However, fate has other plans when the ticket falls into the safekeeping of Jackie. When the thugs attempt to reclaim the ticket by any means necessary, Jackie winds up on the run.

    “More than anything in the world, I want to make movies that as many people as possible can see,” said Freedman. “I also want to get some sort of enjoyment out of it by putting the audience in a better place after viewing the film than they were before viewing it.”

    Freedman also hopes to change the status quo in terms of females in the film industry. She hopes to bring more females in front of the camera with deeper characters and equal representation.

    ticketed set

    The writer, Andrew Freedman, and Shantal have developed Ticketed into a feature. They also have several other scripts that they are shopping around in the horror genre. Ultimately, Shantal hopes to direct action/adventure films.

    She is also busy working at several entertainment companies in Los Angeles. She interns for the renowned casting director, Risa Bramon Garcia, and will be helping her as she starts to cast the 3rd season of Masters of Sex. She works for the talent management company, The Robb Company, and the talent management company, Jump Start Talent, where she is on a track to becoming a manager.

    Freedman’s advice for current students currently working on short films: “You’ll be your best and your happiest if you go all in and commit 100% to the film. If you do that, you’ll tackle every challenge and you’ll be the most pleased with your work at the end.”

    March 16, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1082

  • NYFA Instructor Produces ‘Bad Hair Day'; Disney’s Big Hit

    Disney Original Bad Hair DayIn a rare occurrence, it is Friday the 13th for the second month in a row.

    While this month’s 13th is sure to have its fair share of entertainment news, a month ago marked the premiere of Disney’s Bad Hair Day.

    The original feature film was a huge hit with several younger key demographics, and we are proud to say that Denise Carlson, a NYFA senior producing instructor in Los Angeles, was a executive producer on the project.

    Bad Hair Day, which stars Disney Channel’s Laura Marano and Leign-Allyn Baker, amassed 4 million views, making it the #1 kids’ cable TV film for the year, and the #2 cable TV movie overall.

    The audience was comprised of 2 million viewers age 2-11 (5.1 rating), 1.6 million viewers age 6-11 (6.9 rating) and 1.4 million viewers among Tweens 9-14 years old (5.9 rating).

    While the public television premiere was on February 13th at 8PM, verified users of the Watch Disney XD app got early access on February 6th. During that week of the early release, 435,000 viewers saw the movie on tablets, phones, computers, and set boxes.

     

     

  • Julie Pacino Producing Mary Pickford Biopic


    Mary Pickford is finally getting the Hollywood treatment from the Hollywood she helped to create. Pickford, the curly-haired ingénue considered cinema’s first “America’s Sweetheart” was a huge star in the silent era and early days of Hollywood.

    Pickford wasn’t just one of the first starlets of the silver screen—she was also a powerful force behind the camera. During her career, she co-founded two significant institutions. The first, with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, was United Artists, a studio controlled by actors and filmmakers in an attempt to wrest power from the major studios. UA continues as a major producer to this day as part of MGM.

    Pickford’s other contribution was even greater—she was one of the original 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the organizations of cinema’s professionals in all fields and provider of the annual Oscars. Pickford won two Academy Awards herself, a Best Actress Oscar for 1929’s Coquette and an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 1976.

    It’s no surprise then that her fascinating life is being made into a film, adapted from Eileen Whitfield’s biography Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. The movie is being scripted by Josh Fagin and directed by Jennifer DeLia. DeLia is producing the film with Julie Pacino, a New York Film Academy graduate who co-founded Poverty Row Entertainment with DeLia. The two also collaborated on Billy Bates, the haunting look at a tortured artist. Pacino, the daughter of Al Pacino, is the perfect choice to tell the story of a Hollywood legend.

    March 12, 2015 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1118

  • Husband & Wife Grads Release ‘Bridenapping’ in Kazakhstan

    A husband and wife team from Kazakhstan, who are both New York Film Academy MFA alumni, Askar Bissembin and Bayan Yerimbet have just released their feature film, romantic comedy Bridenapping (Svadba Na Troih). Bissembin was the writer/director of the film while Yerimbet produced.

    In the film, Azamat agrees to kidnap his best friend’s bride Alia, according to Kazakh ancient tradition. But when his family mistakenly believes Alia Azamat’s wife-to-be, he has to marry his best friend’s fiancée.

    The film was their final project that they developed while at NYFA — Askar in Filmmaking and Bayan in Producing.

    “Thanks to NYFA teachers, Bridenapping developed into a solid story,” said Yerimbet. “After returning to Kazakhstan, I was able to produce the feature.”

    Bridenapping was released all over Kazakhstan on March 5th, 2015.

    The husband and wife team are already in pre-production on a sequel.

    March 12, 2015 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 661

  • NYFA Grad Rohit Gupta Releases Trailer for ‘Midnight Delight’

    midnight delightDot and Feather Entertainment dropped the first movie teaser trailer for their upcoming Midnight Delight, a comedy surrounding a set of characters who get into hilarious antics as they try to make sense of their lives through conversations with people they have never met before. The narrative throws hits us with several uncanny situations throughout the film.

    The feature film was written and directed by New York Film Academy alumnus Rohit Gupta (Life! Camera Action…Another Day Another Life) and co-produced with Saumin Mehta, who is also credited for most of its post-production. Gupta’s earlier productions have won numerous international awards and recognition from around the world including at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

    The movie stars: Alexandra Hellquist, Shaheed Woods, Michele Suttile, Dipti Mehta, Rachel Myers, John Crann, Michael Laguerre, Adit Dileep, Sofia Sivan, Bill McCrea, Maggie Alexandar, Josh Echevarria and Michael Lester.

    Initial response to the newly posted 50-second teaser has been favorable. Tantalizingly edited to offer a sneak preview that whet fans’ appetite without revealing too much, it has been described as “One of the best teasers from the independent film circuit and Indian-American filmmakers.” It features actors Rachel Myers, Shaheed Woods, Michele Suttile, John Crann and new comer Michael Laguerre.

    The movie is slated to release later this year.

    Until then get your first exclusive look here.

    Midnight Delight – Official Movie Teaser Trailer #1 [HD] from DotandFeatherfilms.com on Vimeo.

    March 12, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 768

  • MFA Filmmaking Grad Wins Best Short at Golden Pomegranate

    Jing Wen

    Jing Wen on set of “A, B,C or D?”

    Congratulations to the MFA Filmmaking graduate Jing Wen, whose film A, B, C, or D? won Best Short Film and Best Cinematographer (Xiaolong Liu) at the Golden Pomegranate International Film Festival in China. The film will also screen at Cannes in the upcoming Cannes Short Film Corner, where many of our students will have the chance to showcase their work to the public for the very first time.

    As most of know or remember, A, B, C, and D are the choices in a multiple choice test. This is precisely where Wen came up with the title for her film.

    “When we were young, there was always someone who could give you the right answer — maybe the teacher, maybe our parents,” recalls Wen. “When we grow up, A, B, C and D seem like the different choices in our life. What should we choose at every corner, or which one could lead us to success? Only you can discover the answer.”

    In Wen’s film, her main character, Gary, is a 45 year-old man — an age at which most people lose their energy to pursue lifelong dreams due to the pressures of family, work, money and responsibility. The conflict occurs after Gary is notified by his department manager that he will need to the blame for a particular mistake. This leads Gary with a very difficult decision: should he tell his boss the truth or keep silent?

    You can find out his decision at Wen’s next screening of A, B, C, or D? this May at the Cannes Short Film Corner.

    Wen is currently set to direct The Disappeared Fish, a forthcoming feature comedy film from Bai Ge Zhuang Film & Media Company.

     

    March 11, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 917

  • ‘Gotham’ Shines Light on New Cast

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    Rob Gorrie with Ben McKenzie  (photo from @RobGorrie)

    Over the past few episodes, the popular Fox series Gotham, based on DC Comics’ Batman franchise, has shined a light on the Wayne family business and its board members. It was only a matter of time before the series introduced Lucius Fox, a tech genius who, in the comics, has been Wayne’s business manager and the acting CEO of Wayne Enterprises. Fox will be played by Chris Chalk, an actor predominately known for his theater work, but who’s also appeared in HBO’s The Newsroom and Showtime’s Homeland, as well as FX’s Sons of Anarchy and Justified. He also starred in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave.

    This comes off the news that actress Jada Pinkett Smith and her character Fish Mooney will be leaving Gotham at the end of its first season. Though, in a recent interview on Live with Kelly and Michael, Smith hints that her character could always reappear down the line.

    The popular Fox series has also introduced the acrobatic circus family The Flying Graysons. John Grayson and Mary Loyd, who at this point in the show have just met, will eventually become the parents of Dick Grayson, who most of us know as the first Robin. What’s most exciting to us about the introduction to the family is that the role of John Grayson is being played by New York Film Academy Admissions Representative Rob Gorrie. Gorrie has appeared in a number of film and television productions, including his season stints on the popular soaps, As the World Turns and One Life to Live.

    March 10, 2015 • Acting, Entertainment News, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 820

  • Oscar Nominated Editor Discusses Cutting Best Picture Winner ‘Birdman’

    douglas crise

    Editor, Douglas Crise

    New York Film Academy students gathered in the school’s own Los Angeles theater this week for a screening of the Academy Award Winner for Best Picture Birdman followed by a Q&A with Douglas Crise, the Oscar nominated editor of the film. Crise received an Oscar nomination for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel in 2007. He has since cut John August’s The Nines, starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa McCarthy; David Schimmer’s Trust, starring Clive Owen; and Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere which has received much critical acclaim. His collaboration with filmmaker Harmony Korine on Spring Breakers—which stars James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens—has been talked about as revolutionary. Doug just received a BAFTA nomination for is work on Inarritu’s Birdman starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis. The discussion was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA LA’s Dean of Students Eric Conner.

    It is often said that the best editors make their cuts “invisible” to the audience, stitching shots together in just the right so that the audience can lose themselves in the story and not focus on the filmmaking craft. Douglas Crise achieved this in a very literal way with Birdman—the vast majority of which appears to be all one shot, but in reality is composed with many, many edits. These cuts are nearly impossible to see at all, even with the trained eyed. So how many cuts were there in Birdman? This has been a topic of hot debate, and while the number of cuts have been kept secret but the team, the special effects department had spilled the beans and said it was 100, which Douglas didn’t deny. This is compared to the 30 definite edits planned before the shooting of Birdman.

    To cut together the best film possible, Crise had to dig deep down and use every trick in the book, and even invent many himself to make the impossible possible. For instance, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu would like Michael Keaton’s performance at the beginning of one long shot and Edward Norton’s performance at the end of it. Douglass would have to dig deep to think of solutions such as rotoscoping Michael Keaton out of the first shot and laying him onto the background where Edward Norton appears in the next shot until Keaton walked offscreen and the second shot took over completely. Douglas Crise enjoyed working with Inarritu because the demanding director always pushed him to do his best work, and to achieve levels he originally thought impossible.

    douglas crise

     Crise discussed his contrasting, yet equally fulfilling experience, editing Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Whereas Birdman required working within strict limitations, Douglas was called upon to nearly rewrite Spring Breakers in the editing room. He moved things around out of chronological order, laid dialogue and sound over scenes from the footage of other scenes, and worked from a rough outline instead of a detailed script. Harmony’s approach to Crise was more relaxed, as the two discovered the story together from the footage. Having worked so well with two iconic directors whose working styles are at different ends of the spectrum Douglas has exhibited how creatively flexible he is.

    Douglas Crise gave NYFA students a unique and important insight into the post production process. We sincerely thank Mr. Crise for taking the time to visit us and look forward to seeing his next critically acclaimed editorial work.

    March 10, 2015 • Digital Editing, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1054

  • BFA Student Shane Golden Shoots Feature Film ‘Tapestry’

    shane goldenWith the variety of programs and locations at the New York Film Academy, we provide students with the opportunity to not only explore the world, but also hone their craft in several disciplines while earning a degree. One of of our former Two Year Filmmaking students in New York, Shane Golden, took advantage of NYFA’s resources by studying in New York City while simultaneously interning for filmmaker Brett Ratner. Now, he’s finishing his studies at our Los Angeles campus, where he just finished working as Co-Director of Photography on the upcoming feature film Tapestry.

    The film, directed by Ken Kushner, stars actors Burt Young and Stephen Baldwin. The story revolves around a man (Stephen Baldwin) in the midst of a heavy personal and spiritual crisis. Aided by his father (Burt Young), and his family, he embarks on a personal journey that will forever change him.

    We recently had the chance to catch up with Golden, who has his hands full with projects both inside and outside of the school.

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    Shane Golden with actor Burt Young

    Hello, Shane, congrats on wrapping your feature film, Tapestry! Can you begin by telling us how you first became involved with this film?

    Vanja Ulepic, the Director of Photography of the film asked if I wanted to co-DP on the film with him. He and Ken Kushner, the Director of Tapestry, both really liked the successful online campaign video I had just produced for the tech company, Rocki.

    How long was the shoot?

    The shoot was in production for a little over 6 weeks.

    Would you say your training at NYFA was useful in terms of your transition to DP’ing on a feature film like Tapestry?

    Definitely. Between my time at NYFA and the times I’ve been fortunate enough to spend interning for Brett Ratner, I felt confident in my abilities as a filmmaker. I never considered myself a DP, and had no ambition to become one, but after this experience I have a new found appreciation and respect for the craft. Before we started I remember thinking, “I have no idea what the hell I’m doing as a DP,” but when I got into action and with the language and skills I developed at NYFA, I was able to effectively communicate with the cast and crew on the production.

    Was there any particular shot/scene or influence you had on Tapestry that you’re most proud of?

    There are some tracking shots we did of Stephen’s character in the office where he works that came out really great aesthetically for camera and helped to establish the tone of the film.
    There’s also a scene we shot with Burt Young in this church that came out phenomenal. The architecture was beautiful and allowed for a lot of possibilities when it came to blocking for both the actors and the camera.

    When and where can we see the film? Is there an official release date yet?

    The film is set to be released in theaters sometime next year.

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    Shane Golden with actor Stephen Baldwin

    Are you currently working on another project? If so, can you tell me a little about it.

    I have a few projects, currently. I’m actually now working on the Tapestry soundtrack as a singer/songwriter. Ken, the Director, heard my music and really
    loved it. He asked me if I would sing something for the soundtrack and I said of course. It’s being produced by Grammy winning songwriter/producer Jane’t Sewell-Ulepic and Vanja Ulepic. I’m definitely honored and humbled to be this involved with the project. Besides that, I just booked another feature for later this year, but I don’t have too many details on that project as of yet.

    What is your goal as a filmmaker and cinematographer?

    Simply put, my goal is to tell great stories. I want to make films that touch audiences and inspire my peers to wanna keep creating and producing films that entertain and influence the world.

    Is there any advice could give for current students studying cinematography?

    I would say just know there’s no right or wrong to this. Experience, technique and knowledge of the equipment obviously helps, but at the end of the day you have to use what you have and, as a DP especially, work to make an image that’s
    interesting to you and that best tells the story. Awards and accolade are nice, but I think getting better at your craft is the true gem of any artists pursuit.

    March 9, 2015 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1246

  • Award Winning Journalist Kimberly Wallace to Speak at NYFA

    kimberly wallaceFriday morning Kimberly Wallace, a field reporter and in-studio anchor with ViOS 1 News, will be visiting New York Film Academy. An award-winning and Emmy nominated journalist, during a two hour Q&A session with Broadcast Journalism students she will discuss the challenges of reporting from the field, as well as the skills necessary to be a successful studio anchor.

    ViOS 1 News is an example of how content distributors (in this case, Verizon) are becoming content creators. ViOS 1 News is also the kind of production unit where being a multimedia journalist (MMJ) is an absolute necessity.

    The Q&A session will take place 9:00 am this Friday March 6, at NYFA’s 17 Battery Place campus. Current students, as well as potential Broadcast Journalism students, are invited.