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  • Director Jeff Preiss Discusses Sundance Award-Winning ‘Low Down’

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    Low Down

    Director Jeff Preiss with NYFA’s Ben Cohen

    This past Wednesday night, the New York Film Academy in Union Square held a special screening of the star-studded film, Low Down. The emotional drama is based on Amy-Jo Albany’s powerful memoir of growing up in the care of her gifted, tormented and frequently absent musician father — a bebop jazz pianist named Joe Albany. The film focuses on the years 1974 to 1976, when Amy (Elle Fanning) had few resources other than the love of her aging grandmother (Glenn Close) and a ragtag bunch of Hollywood outcasts and eccentrics that were her friends.

    Joining us after the Sundance award-winning film was director Jeff Preiss. Jeff emerged as a professional filmmaker in the eighties, through his involvement in the production of experimental cinema. He was co-director of the pioneering Lower East Side Film venue, Films Charas, and a board member of The Collective For Living Cinema. In 1984, he traveled to Berlin to shoot the Rosa Von Praunheim produced Punk Vampire Film, Der Bis.

    In 1987, he was invited by photographer Bruce Weber to be Director of Photography on a series of short films and two feature documentaries, Broken Noses and Let’s Get Lost — the latter winning the Venice Film Festival Critics Award and an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. After three years of collaborating with Weber, Preiss’ film career began to include directing commercials and music videos (clips for Iggy Pop, Malcolm McLaren, REM, B52s, Mariah Carey / Apple, Nike, Coke, American Express among others).

    In 1995, Jeff became a partner with Mindy Goldberg at Epoch Films. Preissʼs experimental projects include video installations in venues including The Whitney Museum of American Art, MOCA, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville Paris, Museum and the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam.

    He has collaborated with artists including Rem Koolhass, Joan Jonas, Andrea Fraser and Anthony McCall. His work is in the collection of MoMA, New York and The Reina Sofia, Madrid.

    In 2005, Preiss cofounded the artist run gallery, ORCHARD, in New York. He currently sits on the board of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn. His 2012 experimental feature film, Stop, was a selection of the 50th New York Film Festival.

    During the Q&A, moderated by NYFA Instructor Ben Cohen, Jeff recounted how his nine year passion project came to be after an encounter with Amy-Jo Albany. He elaborately delved into the process of working with his superb cinematographer and all-star cast. Jeff compared working with his camera team to that of falling in love with a spouse. As for his cast, which consisted of John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Peter Dinklage, Glenn Close, Lena Heady and others, Preiss said, “I could not have picked a better actor to have suited each part.”

    Jeff had a bit of anxiety in his approach toward directing, considering the stature of talent he was working with. Once he discovered how powerful just knowing the story was, his confidence grew. “All I’m doing is getting everyone in sync, telling the story,” said Preiss. “I would tell them the story like it happened to me. Then, everything is in service to them.”

    From there on out, Jeff’s mastery of the story and keeping everyone on the same page was what guided the performances. Though, he admits, Glenn Close was in character from the moment she arrived on set and never broke. As always, her commitment to her craft shined on the big screen.

    The twenty-two day shoot came together through moments of serendipity and perseverance. With a bit of luck and having Jeff behind the wheel, we’re fortunate to have this truly emotional piece that captures Amy-Jo’s story. If you weren’t able to join us for the screening, be sure to check out Low Down when it’s in theaters or On Demand.

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    November 20, 2014 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 7922

  • NYFA Broadcast Journalism School Inspired Award-Winning Career

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    Andras Takacs

    Andras Takacs

    It is more than 4,000 miles from Budapest to New York. Yet, when Hungarian videomaker Andras Takacs wanted to learn the skills essential to being a successful broadcast journalist, he came to the New York Film Academy’s School of Broadcast Journalism. That’s because NYFA “seemed to be THE place in the U.S. to learn digital journalism,” Takacs recalls.

    His time at NYFA inspired him, and collaborator Eszter Cseke, to create the documentary series “On The Spot.” According to Andras, the series is “based on the method of working without a crew, getting much closer to people and their stories in the field.” So far the team has created 40 of these vivid, first-person programs, taking the production team from the revolution in Egypt to the aftermath of the devastating 2011 Fukushima earthquake in Japan. The series is seen on Hungarian Public TV, as well as Spektrum TV in central Europe.

    “On The Spot” was honored with the Press Freedom Award in Strasbourg from the Council of Europe, the Prix Jury prize at the Tourfilm Festival and the Golden Nymph as Best Documentary at the Monte Carlo TV Festival.

    Recently “On The Spot: Gaza” received a Gold Plaque for Investigative Reporting/News Documentary from the 2014 Chicago International Film Festival, and was selected Best Foreign Short Documentary at the 2014 American Documentary Film Festival. The report received rave reviews in publications worldwide, including the Financial Times.

    Attending the New York Film Academy opens the door to a challenging career, giving you the opportunity to both learn essential skills as well as find your editorial “voice.”

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    May 30, 2014 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5282

  • Screening with Award Winning Director Yazhou Yang

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    If you’re a New York Film Academy student in New York, stop by the 4th floor screening room for a screening of award winning director, Yazhou Yang’s film Wings. Following the screening will be an informative Q&A with the director. Don’t miss it!

     

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    September 5, 2012 • Guest Speakers • Views: 3865