The Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy has started a new Industry Trend series, which welcomes recent graduates who are at early and mid-level stages of their career. The series aims to provide current students with a glimpse of what their careers might look like in the near future.
Last week, as part of the Industry Trend series, Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby welcomed her former student, Emily Seale-Jones, who is an actress, writer, producer, and director. Seale-Jones spoke about creating content, specifically her web series “Frankie and Emma.” The series follows the daily, comical antics of two girls in London. Seale-Jones created the show and stars in it with Nancy Wallinger, who is known for “The Play That Goes Wrong” at London’s West End.
Seale-Jones said she created the show in order to showcase her skills as both an actress and a filmmaker. “It’s really uncomfortable to promote yourself, but you have to get used to it,” she said. “If people aren’t going to bank on you, then you need to do the work and prove you’re bankable. You have to prove yourself.”
At the end of the day, even if Seale-Jones is unable to sell the series to a network, she believes it’s important to get the work out there for people to see. That’s the goal. “If you want to do something, you just go ahead and do it,” added Seale-Jones.
Her first experience creating content was at NYFA in 2011 when she decided to create a play with her fellow classmates and with Glynis as her director. Seale-Jones said NYFA broke down the wall of filmmaking, allowing her to believe the entire process of creating a film from idea to completion is feasible.
Seale-Jones also spoke about her film, “To Tokyo,” which her brother wrote and directed over a four year span in Japan. The film is about a young woman, hiding from her past, who is confronted by her stepsister in Japan and forced to face the figure that haunts her in a world where dreams meet reality.
With all of her projects, Seale-Jones has realized one major fact: “There has to be something that’s the driving force. You can’t rely on anyone except yourself.”
New York Film Academy Acting for Film alumnus Kojo Boama’s newest short film, “Proceed With Caution,” has been picked up by Amazon Prime video. “Proceed with Caution,” written by NYFA alumnus Joey Colebut, is about an upcoming NYC music producer who stumbles on his way to stardom by getting his mistress pregnant. The film has been talked about by major hip-hop artists such as P.Diddy, Jadakiss, and Swizz Beatz.
We had a chat with Boama to find out more about his new film, and about how aspiring filmmakers should never give up.
Hi Kojo. Can you tell us where you’re from and what brought you to NYFA?
I was born in Ghana, West Africa and raised in Harlem, NY. My mother lived in London and had me educated in England as well. She was going to have me stay and live the rest of my life there, so NYFA in NY was an alternative escape route to move back in with my father up in Harlem while seeking to further my education and study a craft.
And the craft you studied was Acting for Film. Can you tell us about your experience in NYFA’s Acting for Film program?
I absolutely loved the acting program. Meisner technique is an essential tool I still use today: always listening to determine the true meaning underneath a person’s statement was a technique that was very useful in the making of this film. This is because I had to multitask around the set — produce, semi-direct and clean the set while playing the lead role. So aside from memorizing my lines, actually paying attention to other actors responses helped save me from potential bad acting.
How did this short film come about? What made you want to create “Proceed with Caution”?
This short film was written by fellow NYFA student Joey Colebut, who had originally had me act in his final showcase at NYFA. I fell in love with the process. Most of our journey can be found on our episodic youtube documentary called “Never Give Up,” which showcases the trials and tribulation it took to actually make this project a reality. “Proceed with Caution” was scheduled to be wrapped in six months, but due to setbacks it ended up taking four years. (Below is the first episode of “Never Give Up.”)
You have some really notable hip-hop artists and celebrities talking about your film. How did that come about?
Due to the hardships of making this project a reality, I always had to plot ahead to see how I could overcome any giving situation. Initially, I worked over at CBS and used to rush down celebrities every time they came by to get some endorsements. One endorsement from Jack Thriller, which I actually got on 125th street in Harlem, helped turn this project around. I knew that hiring my co-star, Jack Thriller, who is signed with 50 Cent, and is talked about in the streets to be the next Kevin Heart, would help open other doors to various people within the entertainment business. (Check out this episode for more details.)
Why do you believe people should see your film?
Aside from the fact that it’s mere entertainment, I also want to give aspiring artists hope that they could do it as well. Thus, the making of the behind the scenes episodic documentary “Never Give Up.”
What do you hope to achieve with this film?
I hope this film helps open doors for me to grow as a filmmaker within the industry, and for me to be able to make a few feature films.
Are you planning to film a feature version of “Proceed with Caution”?
I could make a feature version of this project if need be, but I have already written another feature, “Blue Grease,” which I believe would be a great challenge for me if I’m able to accomplish it. “Blue Grease” is an urban love and basketball themed movie.
We wish you the best of luck with everything!
If you’re interested in checking out “Proceed with Caution,” CLICK HERE.
Shot on a mere five thousand dollars, 8-Week Acting for Film alumna Claudia Pickering’s film, “Frisky,” was recently digitally released by Gravitas — which happens to be the same distribution company who distributed her former NYFA instructor, Adam Nimoy’s Spock documentary — in the US and Canada.
The Sydney-born filmmaker began her foray into filmmaking through acting, which led to creating comedy sketches, short films and webseries’, the first of which was a music video titled “Sebring,” which included Danny Trejo, who choreographed and performed a synchronized dance for the clip.
“Acting and directing involves a lot of switching between head spaces, and a lot of trust in your cast and crew,” says Pickering. “Having a very intimate understanding of each scene really helped the process of going between ‘acting’ and ‘directing’ modes. As an actor, I could feel when we had hit the right emotional moments in each scene, but the issue was, I couldn’t see whether we’d nailed the shot. Fortunately, I had a wonderful relationship with our cinematographer, Christiana Charalambous, and trusted her that when she said she got the shot, we were clear to move on.”
Pickering has now written and produced two feature length films, ‘Frisky’ and ‘Winning Formula‘, of which she directed the former, and both have received international festival success including Official Selection at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the 10th Broad Humor Film Festival in Los Angeles, Best Comedy Feature at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and the Director’s Choice for Best Feature Film at the Austin Revolution Film Festival. Pickering won the 2015 Tropfest Tropvine competition with a stop motion animation of a giraffe telling a dad joke, and regularly creates sketches with her comedy troupe, Frothpocalypse. She is currently developing several projects through her company, Cliff House Productions.
“My experience at NYFA LA was nothing short of life-changing,” said Pickering. “With incredible teachers such as Adam Nimoy, the course not only taught great acting techniques and theory, but also gave me a solid practical and theoretical foundational understanding of filmmaking. Additionally, I met some wonderful lifelong friends, one of whom, Anna Bennett, I went on to form a comedy production company with.”
Her most recent film, “Frisky,” involves two young women who move back to San Francisco, where they had met on exchange years earlier. However, their high career aspirations quickly become sidelined by their sexual interests. While wildly crass and charismatic in their public personas, they are in fact fundamentally at odds on many levels. Their opposing beliefs surrounding responsibility and romance, combined with their close quarters while crashing in an acquaintance’s living room, find them thrust onto a fast track to discovering what their friendship is really made of. Based on true events, “Frisky” is an honest, tongue-in-cheek look at what it is to be a woman in the limbo years between college and “the real world.”
“The film is based on my real life experiences moving from Sydney to Los Angeles — the first and most emotionally potent time was for NYFA — then from LA to San Francisco,” says Pickering. “The emotions, the the friendships, the flings, the near-misses, and the life-long lasting love for people and places. I was living in San Francisco, waiting for another feature film, ‘Winning Formula,’ to go through post production in LA. I was working as an architect to earn some money, but was really becoming disillusioned by the whole profession as I’d sit at my desk and fantasize about stories I’d like to make into movies. One night, I was invited to attend the test screening of a film that a friend of a friend had made on virtually no budget with a six month turn-around. The film was such a joy to watch — so honest and funny — and had been shot on a DSLR camera just like one I already owned and I thought to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I checked my savings account balance that night, quit my job the next day and started writing ‘Frisky'”
For more information about how to download or stream, “Frisky,” please visit the website at friskymovie.com.
Born in Seoul, South Korea with a background as a theater designer, photography has always been a passion for New York Film Academy Photography alumna, Eunnym Cho. Cho used her elaborate sets as backdrops for what were the beginnings of her exploration into photography as an art.
“Looking into the Lives” by Eunnym Cho
“I would always take shots of the theater sets and costumes I designed for my portfolio,” said Cho. “At one point I figured having a deeper knowledge of photography would be helpful to get the shots I wanted, so I decided to take the One Year Photography Conservatory at the New York Film Academy. I started the program just to learn more on the technical side, but the course was a lot more than just that. I discovered the huge field over the program and took it serious from there.”
Since graduating from NYFA, Cho’s work has been recognized by several galleries, including:
The Art at the Center National Juried Exhibition 2017, Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, KS, 2017
45th International Art Show, Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, TX, 2017
City Lights Spring 2017 Juried Exhibition, City Lights Art Gallery, NV, 2017
New York International Photography Contest, Gateway Art Center NYC, NY, 2017
40th National Photography Exhibition, Larson Gallery, WA, 2017
Next Up, Next Gallery, CO, 2017
Conroe Art League 2017 Invitational Show, TX, 2017
LA Artcore Annual Photographic Competition, CA, 2017
38th Annual Juried Art Exhibition, Monmouth Museum, NJ, 2017
Dreams, The Darkroom Gallery, Essex Jct. VT, 2016
Primary Colors, Final list, Honorable Mention, New York Center for Photographic Art, NY, 2106
“Untitled Gaze 3” by Eunnym Cho
“Untitled Gaze” is her first ongoing project and “Looking into the Lives” is the one that followed. “Looking into the Lives” is a series of street shots. The project involves two sub-projects: Part I was taken in the Dominican Republic and part II was taken in New Orleans, LA.
“One of the most memorable parts of the NYFA Photography program was the school trip to Dominican Republic,” said Cho. “It was the most enjoyable way to learn about the topic and, as it turns out, was where one of my projects, ‘Looking into the Lives,’ began.”
“Untitled Gaze” by Eunnym Cho
Her other ongoing project, “Untitled Gaze” is a series of images taken in various bars in Manhattan. “At first I was searching for unique, interesting elements of bars, but then I became more aware of the patrons, especially those who were alone,” added Cho. “So I set out to photograph, using the point of view of these individuals. Without looking at their phones, how did they fill the void? What would their eye focus on? In their inebriated state, what do they see? Focusing on singular item or area, I began to create abstractions of what they might see. Drawing inspiration from Uta Barth and Saul Leiter, I looked for things that might catch their eyes as they looked around from their barstool.”
Cho hopes having her work at galleries across the country will provide exposure to her work, but she would love to have an exhibition in her current hometown of New York City.
As Cho puts it, “There is no better place in the world in terms of the amount of galleries and museums that focus on photography.”
The New York Film Academy followed the 89th Academy Awards ever so closely last night on social media, even through the confusion. Heading into the evening, NYFA was firmly rooting for two of its alumni, Jean de Meuron and Raphaela Neihausen, both having been involved with nominated short films. Neihausen’s short documentary film, “Joe’s Violin,” which she produced, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Alumnus Jean de Meuron was executive producer on “La femme et le TGV,” which was up for Best Live Action Short. While the former students didn’t end up winning for their respective categories, their monumental achievement speaks for itself.
Of course the most talked about moment from last night’s awards event, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, was the “Steve Harvey-like” gaffe during the Best Picture announcement. After accidentally awarding Best Picture to the movie musical, “La La Land,” the actual winner was revealed to be “Moonlight,” which iconic actor and director, Warren Beatty, clearly rectified by pointing out the winning card that was supposed to have been read.
So while that was not exactly a shining moment for the gracious team behind “La La Land,” the film still notched a record-tying 14 nominations. “Moonlight” and “Arrival” followed with a very respectable eight wins each. It should also be worth nothing that two of our teacher’s assistants from New York Film Academy South Beach, Robert Colom and Danniel Rodriguez, had the privilege of working on set of “Moonlight” as Production Assistants.
One of the more controversial topics of last year’s awards was the fact that there were no people of color nominated for an Oscar. However, this year offered the most diverse list of nominees, with a total of seven actors of color nominated — six black and one Indian. Some of the winners included Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali from “Moonlight,” and Best Supporting Actress Viola Davis from “Fences.”
NYFA also recognized a few of its former guest speakers like Kenneth Lonergan, who won Best Original Screenplay for his work on “Manchester by the Sea,” and Linus Sandgren, who won Best Cinematography for his capturing of “La La Land.”
Additionally, in the world of animation, “Zootopia” won Best Animated Feature Film. Last year, before the film’s release, 3D Animation students at NYFA had an inside look from “Zootopia” animator, Darrin Butters, who broke down scenes and the development process that went into the Disney film.
Finally, on a humorous note, NYFA guest speaker Seth Rogen brought us back to the future after emerging from a DeLorean with Michael J. Fox. Mr. Rogen was at NYFA Los Angeles last year to screen his R-rated animated comedy, “Sausage Party,” which was an absolute blast for those students and alumni fortunate enough to attend.
While the snafu at the end of the evening will be talked about for days to follow, the winners will always remember when they received Hollywood’s most coveted prize.
Below is a complete list of the 89th Academy Award nominees — winners are in bold:
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Manchester by the Sea”
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” (WINNER)
Andrew Garfield in “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling in “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen in “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington in “Fences”
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jeff Bridges in “Hell or High Water”
Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight” (WINNER)
Lucas Hedges in “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel in “Lion”
Michael Shannon in “Nocturnal Animals”
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Isabelle Huppert in “Elle”
Ruth Negga in “Loving”
Natalie Portman in “Jackie”
Emma Stone in “La La Land” (WINNER)
Meryl Streep in “Florence Foster Jenkins”
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Nicole Kidman in “Lion”
Viola Davis in “Fences”
Naomie Harris in “Moonlight”
Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams in “Manchester by the Sea”
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“La La Land” (WINNER)
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (WINNER)
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“La La Land”
“Arrival” – Denis Villeneuve
“Hacksaw Ridge” – Mel Gibson
“La La Land” – Damien Chazelle (WINNER)
“Manchester by the Sea” – Kenneth Lonergan
“Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“O.J.: Made in America” (WINNER)
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
“Watani: My Homeland”
“The White Helmets” (WINNER)
“Hacksaw Ridge” (WINNER)
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Land of Mine”
“A Man Called Ove”
“The Salesman” (WINNER)
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”
“Suicide Squad” (WINNER)
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
“La La Land” (WINNER)
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land”
“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from “Trolls”
“City Of Stars” from “La La Land” (WINNER)
“The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story”
Recently, Kazakh Cinematographer, Azamat Dulatov, and NYFA alumnus, Aisultan Seitov, gave a Q & A at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles following a screening of “The Jackal.” The award-winning short film is the first mutual project of Dulatov and Seitov.
From early childhood, Dulatov was interested in photography and painting, and this passion for visual arts eventually led him into the field of cinematography. His first feature film “999” earned multiple awards among different festivals. Since then he has continued to work on successful Kazakh movies such as “Barrier” directed by Zhasulan Poshanova, “Marry in 30,” directed by NYFA alumnus, Askar Bisembin, and “Taraz” by Nurtas Adambaya, to name few.
Despite his extremely busy professional schedule, Dulatov agreed to be director of photography on Seitov’s thesis film, “The Jackal,” immediately after reading the script. “The script is the most important element to me when making a decision,” said Dulatov.
“If I like the story I would work on a small indie film and would even deny a big commercial project if the story isn’t that great. Also, I always discuss with the director and production designer as to how they see the film in terms of colors, temp, atmosphere. And what actors do they want to cast,” Dulatov continued. “Film is a team effort and it’s important to make sure we are all on a same track before we start shooting.”
While in Los Angeles, Dulatov and Seitov worked together on a new music video for Ivan Dorn, and prepared for an upcoming feature film, which will be shot in Kazakhstan in spring 2017.
When one student asked Seitov what is the best way to enter the professional world after graduation, he replied, “Use any opportunity to get on a professional set and meet people. There are a lot of projects shot in Hollywood every single day and they all need help. Go work as a PA, or just stay all day long and observe. Yes, you might end up working for free, but it is up to you to decide if this all is about money or experience.”
New York Film Academy would like to thank Azamat Dulatov for coming in to speak to our students, and we wish all the best to Aisultan Seitov.
Born in Manila, Philippines, Heinrik Caesar Matias flew to New York City in 2016 to study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. Matias says he is passionate in acting, and creating realistic and immersive stories with characters that the audience can connect to. His passion and determination led him to create the award-winning film, “Like Father, Like Son,” while attending NYFA.
His film received “Best Short Film” nominations at film festivals all over the world, including Chandler International Film Festival (USA), Los Angeles CineFest (USA), Barcelona Planet Film Festival (Spain), MedFF (Italy), and Feel The Reel International Film Festival (UK). It won the Gold Award for Best Short Film at the NYC Indie Film Awards.
“The experience I had, and the lessons I learned from the New York Film Academy were all applied in the making of this film,” said Matias. “It had to be or there was no way this film could have been made given the conditions we faced. I never had any experience in filmmaking prior to NYFA and, I will admit, it was very difficult. We didn’t have a big budget plus there were only four crew members, including me as the director, and three cast members. We all had to work twice as hard. It was very draining and it was a very challenging time for all of us, but we all felt like this was a story that needed to be told. I was lucky that I had a very professional crew and a talented cast that were all patient with me and the film during its production.”
The short film is a psychological drama that explores the dark natures of depression and how it can even affect the people around the person who’s depressed. After 20 years, Charles, an unemployed alcoholic, finally reunites with his absentee father. The two of them soon realize that the apple does not fall far from the tree.
“Many people fail to see the magnitude of depression and it is very often dismissed as ‘all in your head,’ but I believe that this is a real thing, and it is a serious matter that must be dealt with,” says Matias.
According to the Word Health Organization, as of 2016, depression is the most prevalent mental illness with 350 million cases worldwide and, if left untreated, can often lead to suicide.
While Matias also continues to focus on his acting career, he’s currently working on two different projects — a short story that he hopes to film this year and his first feature film screenplay.
With a record number of Academy Award nominations, “La La Land” is certainly the talk-of-the-town. Recently, GQ provided a behind the scenes with “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling at a photo shoot at the Gellért Thermal Bath in Budapest.
Two New York Film Academy Documentary alumni had their hand in the video, as both Susi Dollnig and Nina Thomas work at the post-production company House of Trim, which provided the post-production for the video. Dollnig was the Colorist and Thomas was the Assistant Editor on this specific video.
House of Trim is a boutique post-production facility located in the heart of NYC. The team consists of a collective of talented editors, motion graphics artists and color graders who specialize in feature films, commercial campaigns, documentaries and branded content. Dollnig has been working at the company for about four years as a Colorist, and Thomas joined the company in October 2015 as an Assistant Editor, and recently started taking on editing jobs as well.
Both Dollnig and Thomas often does post-production work for GQ Magazine and for the Condé Nast group.
Last week, the New York Film Academy New York campus held the Spring 2016 Filmmaking Commencement and Final Screenings. The two-day event held an opening reception for students, friends and family, and concluded with students’ thesis film screenings at the campus’ brand new theater at 17 Battery Place.
“The thesis films made by the Spring 2016 graduating students were very impressive,” said NYFA Filmmaking Chair, Claude Kerven. “Across the board, the quality and the effort made was first rate. It’s remarkable to see how much the students have grown in just one year. The students, along with their instructors, should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
Congratulations to all of our filmmaking graduates! Check out the full gallery of photos from the graduation ceremonies on NYFA’s Facebook Page!
Below are the films that screened over the two-day graduation.
Back in 2009, the New York Film Academy awarded a Tuition Grant to a passionate young filmmaker from Switzerland, Jean de Meuron. While at NYFA, de Meuron got a full scope of the movie-making landscape, studying filmmaking, screenwriting, and cinematography at both the New York and Los Angeles campuses.
Now residing in Los Angeles, de Meuron was recently Executive Producer on the short film “La femme et le TGV,” directed by Timo von Gunten and starring César Award nominee Jane Birkin. The short film, which was inspired by true events, was nominated for a 2016 Academy Award in the Best Live Action Short Category!
We had a chance to speak to our former student before his big day at the Academy Awards this upcoming Feb. 26th, 2017.
Congratulations on your film’s Academy Award nomination! In your own words, what is “La femme et le TGV” about?
“La femme et le TGV” is a charming tale about a lonely woman who, through poetic and thoughtful letters, connects and builds a close relationship with a TGV train driver that passes her house at 190 mph every single day. As the two anonymous souls share their worlds by writing to each other, one fateful day the train does not pass her house, leading her to embark on a journey away from the place she calls home in search of that lost connection.
How did this film come about and how did you become involved with the project?
Our director, Timo von Gunten, read this incredible true story in a Swiss tabloid about a woman who’s been waving at the passing TGV train for many years from her balcony. He immediately fell in love with the whimsical nature and tone of this true story: A woman and a man writing letters to one another without ever meeting in person — or at least for the first couple of interactions. A huge inspiration for Timo has always been “Amélie” — and I think this is quite apparent in his work, as far as the visuals and camera blocking are concerned. However, Timo has such a strong style and visual sense on his own, so he puts his own stamp as a director, infused with elements from the works of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson.
I met Timo while I was a Jury Member at the Basel Gässli Film Festival, where I saw his short film that he had directed. I was immensely impressed with his visual flair, mise-en-scène, sensitivity with which he directed actors and staged scenes, as well as the color palette, soundtrack and edit. There was a filmmaker at work, who I considered a true artist that caught my attention. During the festival, I approached him, complementing his work and saying that I would like to work with him very much. The rest, so they say, is history.
How did you attach Jane Birkin to the project? And what was it like to work with her?
Timo tells this story best, so I extend the courtesy of having him share his thoughts here, as he as the director, worked most closely with her:
“First of all, I had to write a screenplay that was emotional, touching. I have a very good friend, a casting director and acting coach in London, who helped me to pass on the script to Jane’s agent. What I didn’t know, of course, and I was quite lucky — I have to admit that — the topic of solitude resonates so much with her. She just fell in love with the story. She called me up and said wants to do it. However, the funny thing was, first she said, “I want to do it, but I can’t because I’m not supposed to ride bicycles anymore.” And as you know, the film has loads of biking scenes… Working with Jane was quite an extraordinary experience because she has this inner beauty still kept alive. She’s quite fragile but very, very truthful. That’s what’s really great about her.” — from Timo von Gunten’s interview with ScreenPicks (Alfonso Espina) – Interview: Timo von Gunten Talks About ‘La Femme et le TGV’
I would add that Jane has this incredible generosity and gentle kindness that I witnessed while we were attending the Locarno Film Festival, where she was awarded the Golden Leopard for her Life Achievement.
Can you tell us how you found out about NYFA and the Tuition Grant?
While I was a student at the New York Film Academy, NYFA founder Jerry Sherlock, who had always been very supportive of me, suggested that I should apply for the Tuition Grant — as I had done several short films during my studies that did the festival circuit. While applying, I put all of my passion and dedication into my application materials, meaning I went above and beyond by presenting a strong package. When I was awarded the Tuition Grant I was very proud.
Would you say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being able to produce this film?
Certainly. I always liked the New York Film Academy’s philosophy and educational approach of “learning by doing.” The practical experience enabled me to gain a very sophisticated understanding of physical production, and all its challenges that come with it. As my favorite filmmaker of all time, Steven Spielberg, once noted, “Filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.” That being said, with director Timo von Gunten and my producing partners Giacun Caduff and Bela Böke, we had a wonderful synergy of complementing components, as we each could rely on each other’s strengths and interests.
Jean (on the right) attending the Golden Globes
What has been the reaction of your team, knowing you have a one in five chance of winning an Academy Award for this short?
I think every filmmaker aspires for his or her work to be critically acclaimed — some more than others of course — but in the end, storytelling is also entertainment, and as such we thrive to speak to, emotionally engage and captivate an audience. The reaction has obviously been overwhelming, however, we won’t define the success of our film solely on awards, but also on how the story resonates with our audience and how we are able to touch and move people. It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be considered for Academy Award consideration and we are infinitely grateful.
Why do you feel your film deserves to win the Academy Award? What makes it so unique?
Tough question. I think every film that has been nominated is there for a reason and deserving of such an accomplishment. What makes “La femme et le TGV” unique — at least as far as I am concerned — is its fairytale element that makes this story not only very charming and uplifting, but also relevant and meaningful. Our story, more than ever, is timeless because of the fact that although developed between written letters, most people of several generations (young and adult) can relate to our protagonist’s journey where, in the digital realm of things, loneliness and longing for something, are huge components of our daily lives.
Where would we be able to see this film?
“La femme et le TGV” is currently available on iTunes.
Are you currently working on any other projects you’d like to discuss?
Yes, I am currently developing a feature film with Timo and my producing partner Chady Eli Mattar, who, like myself, worked for prolific and immensely gifted producer Scott Rudin — a true industry icon. The film is called “The Man Who Sold The Eiffel Tower” and tells the true and epic tale of a charismatic con-artist, Victor Lustig, whose journey culminates in pulling off the biggest scam in the history of mankind — selling the Eiffel Tower — ensuing in a manhunt across the world that threatens to tear apart his beloved family.