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  • Students and Alumni Meet with Agents

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    As the clock struck 7:00 at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Campus the lobby began to fill with acting students and alumni. Agents from Abrams Artists Agency, Central Artists, Daniel Hoff Agency, DDO Artists Agency, Howard Talent West, Ideal Talent Agency, LA Management, McKeon-Myones Management, Media Artists Group, Prodigy Talent, Debra Manners Talent Management, sat perched behind desks ready to take the student’s head shots and discuss their future.

    Frederico Mallet a recent MFA Acting graduate attended the recent looking for commercial and theatrical representation. “I think it’s fantastic that Barbara made this happen,” said Mallet. “Because she is really great. She’s one of the finest people at NYFA. She’s at it all the time. She cares so much about us and I’m really grateful that she did this.”

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    The event was organized and run by Barbara Weintraub, Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development. She wanted to give recent and soon to be graduates an opportunity not only to network and practice pitching themselves but hopefully to land an agent and secure work.

    Spring 2015 graduate, Katisha Seargent, “I graduated in May and I’ve been trying to get out there. I was doing a lot of self-submissions. I was so grateful to the school put together a program to help us get that foot in the door because it’s something we’ve been trying to do since we graduated.”

    “I watched the footage that they made us shoot on our very first week at NYfA and I just compare it to where I am now and the growth is just exponential. It’s ridiculous. I learned so many things. My interpersonal communication skills rose exponentially. My confidence…it just went through the roof. I’m playing roles now that I never thought that I would do, that I didn’t think I was good at. I found out I have a comedic side. I never thought I was funny. You find out so much about yourself through this process here at NYFA.”

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    Acting student Owen Rousu knew he only had two minutes to impress the agents, “I have a commercial agent already so I’m looking more for theatrical. My little spiel goes, ‘Hey, I’m Owen. This is my theatrical headshot. I’m looking for theatrical representation; either a manager or an agent. I’m SAG eligible. I think what sets me apart from other actors is I spent five years in the army. I deployed twice as a US Army Ranger. So, the roles that I would go up for are usually army, marines, cops, firefighters, or the bad guy, apparently. I get a lot of villains, which actually, I love.”

    When all was said and done we had several students reach back to tell us about their experience.

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    The meet and greet was such a great event! I got an audition for commercial representation at Daniel Hoff! Which is an agency I’ve wanted to audition for so bad!

    So, thank you!

    Best,
    Linnea

    Thank you so much for yesterday the event was great! I was already contacted by two talent agencies!
     
    So, thank you so much! Those events must keep on going! They are of great help.
     Gonzalo
    Thanks for last night event!! I got contacted by DDO agency already for an interview next Thursday for possible representation!
    Thanks,
    Todd
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    The New York Film Academy would like to thank all the agencies that came to view our students and the current students and alumni who took advantage of this opportunity.

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    July 21, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4078

  • Screenwriter Ian Shorr Joins Business of Screenwriting Class

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    Ian ShorrOn November 18th, screenwriter Ian Shorr dropped by our Business of Screenwriting class to explain how he went from literally representing himself to becoming one of the most sought after rising screenwriters in town.

    “My career really had two beginnings,” Shorr explained. The first came while Ian was still living in his home state of Utah, desperately trying to find a way to break into Hollywood without any contacts. Shorr didn’t have an agent or manager, but he knew that he needed one. So, he decided to represent himself… No, really.

    Shorr created a fake agency persona, David Lortz, top brass at the fake agency he created, The Sundance Literary Agency. “Being from Utah I knew the Sundance Film Festival was a big deal, so I figured any association with that was probably a good thing.” The surprising thing about Shorr’s bold tactic was it actually worked — maybe too well.

    “I bought myself a Hollywood Creative Directory and would have David call up and speak to development executives about an exciting new screenwriter whom he wanted to make them aware of – um, me.” Executives would read and liked the writing, which was an early good sign, and some even assumed the agency David Lortz ran was associated with the Sundance Film Festival. Shorr booked meetings (that he set for himself) and was starting to get some real exposure. “The irony was, people really liked David Lortz, I think even more than Ian Shorr,” Shorr joked. Eventually, however, people got wind of what he was up to, and after a cease and desist letter from the Sundance Film Festival’s lawyers, Shorr fired/retired Mr. David Lortz.

    Ian’s second career start came soon after when he packed it up in 2003 and left Utah and moved to Los Angeles, attending USC’s Film School. Meeting his manager (Langley Perrer of Mosaic) at a Pitch Fest in 2007, he sold his senior thesis project EXEMPT to Overture Films – about a troubled teen who falls in with a group of “diplobrats”: foreign teenagers with diplomatic immunity from the law.

    Since then, Shorr has been on a tear – working steadily and continuously as a writer. He sold his spec script Substitution, a teen thriller re-imagining of Strangers on a Train to Alcon Entertainment. In 2008, his low-budget horror movie Splinter was produced and released by Magnolia Films. He set up his spec sci-fi thriller Cristo (a sci-fi reimagining of the Count of Monte Cristo) at Warner Bros. in 2011. In 2013, he sold his sci-fi spec Capsule to Twentieth Century Fox and just had his second feature produced Marble Hornets: The Operator,a found-footage horror movie based off the popular web series Marble Hornets.

    On his visit, Shorr answered a variety of questions for NYFA’s MFA Screenwriting students with his eloquent matter-of-fact humor, drawing from his own insights and breakthroughs in his career thus far. “No matter what you’ll get notes,” Shorr explained, “notes from everyone — your reps, your producers, studio execs, friends, your dog, and you really have two options: see them as a blessing or see them as a fight.” Shorr went on to explain that the best thing is “to see the note behind the note. It’s their job to point out the problems, but it’s your job to find the solution.”

    Shorr is also a big proponent for aspiring writers to NOT get jobs in the film business. “In my experience, it’s far better to let your film school friends do that, and for you to get a job that allows you the most time to write.” Shorr explained. “And guard that writing time like it’s treasure, because frankly, it is.” Shorr explained that while he doesn’t write every single day, he’s constantly thinking about the project he’s working on even when he’s not. “I probably write 5-6 days a week on average,” Shorr said.

    Shorr also explained that writers shouldn’t chase trends but should write to market, which can seem a bit of a paradox, until you unravel it. “Ideas, concepts are entirely execution dependent. You want that idea to be smart, interesting and commercial for the market, but most importantly, it has to be well written and original.” Shorr explained that reps and producers will want to put you in a certain “genre sandbox” and so it’s important early on to write in a sandbox that you really want to play in.

    Television writing was something Shorr definitely encouraged and something he himself is getting into. “Look, only roughly 1,600 writers in any given year make any money as a feature screenwriter —which his pretty damn bleak, but in television, the numbers are at least four or five times that. Neither is easy to break into, both are highly competitive, so why limit yourself to one arena?”

    In fact, Shorr has been branching out into other media arenas as well, including being recently hired to adapt one of his projects into an audio drama for Audible.com, as the company has recently announced that it will move into the original content creation space. “It’s all tell and no show in audio dramas,” Shorr explained, “not something us screenwriters are classically used to, but it’s been a great ride of figuring out how to use voiceover, dialogue and sound effects in creative ways to your advantage.”

    Closing out, Shorr offered some truly intelligent advice that all writers would be wise to take with them as they move forward in their careers. “You have to remember that what producers and studios are buying from writers is their unique point of view, their voice. Therefore, everything you write needs to be something that feels like it could only be written by that one distinct person – you. The story, the dialogue, the description, every line of that script must come from you, and you alone. Be the person for whom others can read and hear their voice on each page undeniably. Be that guy, and I promise you good things will happen for you…”

    Shorr is repped by UTA and Mosaic and is currently hard at work on a variety of projects he has in development, including an upcoming mind-bending sci-fi thriller.

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    December 3, 2014 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 6127

  • Renowned Manager/Producer Ben Press Speaks at NYFA Los Angeles

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    Ben Press

    Students were thrilled to hear renowned manager and producer Ben Press speak this past Monday at New York Film Academy Los Angeles’s School for Acting. Ben’s radiant energy spread through the packed room as he entertained and enlightened students with stories from the Hollywood agency world and solid career advice to those starting out in the industry. Manager/Producer Ben Press started as assistant to legendary ICM agent Ed Limato and his roster of stars: Richard Gere, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Anthony Hopkins, Steve Martin, Nicolas Cage, Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando among others. As Paradigm Talent Department Co-Head, Ben packaged America’s Next Top Model, produced/hosted by Tyra Banks and negotiated the $1.5 million talent holding deal for William Baldwin (one of the industry’s most lucrative). Ben now manages clients Elle Macpherson, Rick Yune, Jennifer Esposito, as well as Taylor Swift’s future feature film acting career.

    Ben press never thought he’d work in entertainment. Off a whim and recommendation from a college friend, he landed an interview at ICM, one of the industry’s top agencies. The tradition in Hollywood agencies is to always start from the bottom. After nailing his interview with ICM, Ben did just that; his first job was literally working in the mailroom and pushing a cart. Being accepted into the agent trainee program at top agencies such as ICM, CAA and UTA, however, is a highly sought after position as mailroom workers are likely to be promoted within the company. Whereas the traditional route is to slowly climb the agency ladder, Ben took a different approach. Legendary ICM agent Ed Limato was who Ben wanted to work for and he didn’t want to wait in line to get that job. Ben convinced Mr. Limato’s current assistant to allow him to come into the office early and help him organize and plan for the day. This way Ben would know the ins and out of Ed Limato’s office and be prepared when his opportunity came. The way Ben Press’s opportunity did come is a twist of fate so far-fetched it’s hard to believe even within the context of Hollywood’s crazy world. Because of his determined nature, Ben had already made a name for himself at ICM in the short time he was there and landed an interview for the job of Ed Limato’s assistant when his former assistant was leaving. Ben was wary of his chances of getting the job, because he seemed to be the candidate with the least amount of experience. Soon after his interview, Ben came across a female agent trainee who had collapsed in the mailroom and wasn’t breathing. Luckily he had just learned CPR and immediately began performing it on her as he ordered the other trainee’s to call 911. Ben ended up saving the woman’s life. When Ed Limato got wind of the fact that Ben Press had saved someone’s life in the office he said, “I want THAT guy working for me!”

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    March 14, 2014 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 7210

  • Literary Agent Says TV is Where it’s At

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    melinda jason

    Once again, producer Tova Laiter put together an exclusive event for New York FIlm Academy students in Los Angeles. One of the toughest obstacles coming out of film or acting school is landing the right agent — or landing any agent for that matter. Given the full house at Warner Bros, Theater 4 for this event, students were anxious to get some inside information from Melinda Jason and her business partner Simon Ore. Melinda is a prominent literary agent at Conspiracy LLC – with her partner Simon Ore – a production and management company based in Los Angeles. As a former lawyer at 20th Century Fox and former Head of Literary Department at Gersh, Melinda has also established producing deals with Universal Television, Disney and Sony Pictures, and has produced five feature films. Some of the talent she is most famous for discovering are Michael J. Fox, Dean Pitchford (writer of Footloose), Ron Bass (writer of Rain Man and My Best Friend’s Wedding), and David Saperstein, whose manuscript Cocoon she sold to Fox. Melinda and Simon Ore are currently developing an animated series, several feature films, and several television pilots, including one in partnership with Producer Nick Welchsler (The Road, Requiem For A Dream, Sex, Lies & Videotape, Drugstore Cowboy).

    Melinda wasted no time in getting straight to the point, “In order to get yourself out there nowadays you have to be a great writer, get a producer, make content and create experiences!” Melinda, who has a first look deal with Fox Television, thinks television is where it’s at today. “TV is great now, it’s on a higher level intellectually, you can get your writers paid and once they are respected there they really get to show what they’ve got. These writers really think, they do research. The arch is different than in film, the characters have a lot of potential. TV is about being strategic.” Melinda clearly cares about her writers.

    Simon spoke in terms of what young writers tend to do when getting off the ground. “Sell your passion!” exclaimed Simon. “Once you are in, find the happy medium in compromising with your work.” Don’t sell out, don’t be unreasonable and inflexible.

    Melinda continued on, saying how a good writer must constantly read. “Read good stuff and bad stuff, lots of it. Go to places like www.simplyscripts.com and do the work.” Simon added that a writer needs to be patient. “Some of it is not over when you’re done. Take a break. Come back to it.”

    One thing the pair really stressed is how in today’s market, writers need to MAKE CONTENT! “Create something, put it on the internet.” However, once you get the ball rolling with credibility, it is important to know where content belongs. “Know the networks, they want different things,” said Melinda. “You have to know where content could live.”

    Her final words of advice, “You have to be really careful to never make a choice based on money. Follow your passion. You must feel strongly about it!”

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    September 27, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 7171

  • So How Do You Get a TV Series Off the Ground?

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    dytman

    One of the most crucial steps into the film and television industry for any writer is finding and landing the right agent. It’s one of the first obstacles for any film student, especially after graduation. So, the New York Film Academy was excited to hold an informative Q&A with the Senior VP of Gersh Agency, Jack Dytman. His long list of clients include TV series show-runners, executive producers, story editors, staff writers and feature writers in all aspects of the business. His clients have worked on network and cable television series such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Walking Dead, Desperate Housewives, Castle, Criminal Minds, Hawaii 5-0, Smash, Lie To Me, Frasier, Without A Trace, Law and Order: SVU, X-Files, Alias, Hill Street Blues, Suddenly Susan, Murphy Brown, Boston Legal, Barney Miller, Law and Order, Chicago Hope, NYPD Blue, Married with Children, Carnivale, and more. Numerous clients have been nominated for Emmy Awards, ten clients have received Writers Guild Award nominations, and four have won. In the last five years his clients have received nine Producers Guild Award nominations.

    Given his background, Jack provided much insight into the world of the business. He spoke about the current popularity of television, noting, “I have a long line of feature writers trying to get into television, but TV is different…you need to be able to lay the pipeline for 100-150 episodes. It’s not just three acts and an ending!” He also stated that the people that you may need to pitch to are “smart and have heard everything, so the work needs to be unique.”

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    Tova Laiter with Jack Dytman

    One of our students asked Jack the popular question, “How do you get your foot in the door at a network show?” He suggested that, “If you want to get in the door, be a writer’s assistant. If you can’t do that, do something else – sweep if you have to!” Typically it can take up to ten years to develop a writing career for networks, but there are exceptions. One exception he mentioned was the creator of Burn Notice, who had never written for a show. So while it’s rare, it can happen. “You should find your niche and focus on that genre. Understand the networks and cable  – what are they branding? Understanding the difference between ABC, CBS and SHOWTIME is important.”

    While Jack admits it was difficult to predict what shows would become hits, he knew Magnum PI was going to be. However, other shows such as Pushing Daisies simply didn’t catch, even with the top people on board. Then there was Seinfeld, which took about three years to turn into a good show. Go figure.

    Jack also walked our audience through the Development process for TV shows, which was quite telling.

    1. Writer goes to agent with AN IDEA.
    2. If agent says “it’s great” they go to a studio or network.
    3. If it moves forward, they will create or develop a creative team together.
    4. The team will, among other things, BRAND the show. An incredibly important part of network television (each studio and network have branding branches.)
    5. If all goes well, the pilot is picked up once written.
    6. The pilot WILL receive notes, accept them and work with them!
    7. Hopefully pilot gets made, then shown, then repeated.
    8. This process repeats itself annually.

    If you don’t like receiving notes, you’re in the wrong business. Jack stressed the importance of being able to take notes and establishing a relationship with producers and executives. The old cliche about the industry being, “Half about ability and half about like-ability,” is true. “A lot of it is about relationships – you have to network constantly.” He closed with these words of advice, “Have someone refer you when trying to get your work out there.”

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    August 1, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5255