cinematography
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  • Cinematography Grad Hired by DP Tony Richmond for “Diary of Wimpy Kid”

    It’s often a difficult and stressful process finding your first job out of college — no matter what line of work you’re in. That’s why it is essential to network and ask around to the people you know best. With one of the New York Film Academy Cinematography program’s recent graduates, Jeremy Harris, he was able to parlay his relationship with the program’s chair, Tony Richmond, into an Assistant to the Director of Photography position on a major motion picture.

    Jeremy Harris

    Jeremy Harris (on right)

    Richmond has an extensive background in cinematography, having worked on major productions like “The Sandlot,” “Legally Blonde,” “Men of Honor” and countless others. While serving as chair of the program, Richmond continues to work in the field. His upcoming Director of Photography work will be on the film “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” with his former student at his side.

    We caught up with Jeremy Harris to find out how he landed the role with Mr. Richmond and what his plans are while on set and in the future.

    jeremy harris

    Jeremy Harris on set of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”

    How did this position come about?

    This position came about a month or so before graduation. Our class was with Tony on a production workshop. We were on lunch break, if I can recall, and Tony asked me if I had family in Atlanta, which I do. Then he mentioned he may be working on a film there and wondered if it went through would I want to go with him. Obviously I couldn’t refuse, especially seeing that it’s another opportunity to learn even more from one of the best, and someone who unconsciously shaped my childhood with “The Sandlot.”

    Can you tell me a little bit about the role you have with Tony and on-set?

    My position on set is Assistant to the Director of Photography. I assume it will be something similar to a Camera PA but whatever the job calls for, I am overly excited and willing to take part in this production.

    Jeremy Harris with Tony Richmond

    Jeremy Harris with Tony Richmond

    What do you expect to achieve / learn from this position?

    This will be my first feature set I’m taking part in, so I know there will be a lot of learning coming with the territory. Being with Tony every step of the way will definitely allow for some needed new knowledge and skills as an aspiring cinematographer; but I love operating and gripping as well, so I will definitely be keeping a watchful eye on those positions on set and ready with plenty of questions. I will be surrounded by nothing but experienced professionals on set, so I plan on soaking in all the information I can — especially set etiquette and procedures — because I take pride in not wasting time or money on set.

    Is your goal to be the main cinematographer on feature films? Is there any style or genre that you prefer?

    Yes, my goal is to be the main cinematographer on feature films. I started out as a news and documentary camera operator, which helped me transition into film and I still have a love and passion for operating, but cinematographer is the main objective. Outside of feature films I’ve had a growing interest in creating art installations.

    1 chance

    still from “1 Chance”

    How would you describe your overall experience in the NYFA Cinematography program?

    Honestly, I loved every minute of my time in the cinematography program. I’ve learned so much over the course of these two years that I would have never thought I could possibly retain. I think NYFA has the best group of cinematographers to not only instruct us but prepare each and every person that comes through that program for life, in general. This has been the best decision I’ve made in my life.

    Are you working on any films of your own that you’d like to share with us?

    I recently DP’d a close friend’s thesis that I would love for people to see. I think the story is amazing and very touching. The title is “1 Chance” and I think it is a great representation of the times, and really gives the audience hope in the world we live in today. Other than that, I am really focusing on learning a lot from this upcoming experience with Tony Richmond and coming back to Los Angeles — or wherever I may land — and applying my knowledge and skills to all endeavors to come.

    September 14, 2016 • Cinematography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3714

  • NYFA Cinematography Instructor Showcases “Tales of Poe” at Comic-Con

    Comic-Con is the nation’s largest convention. It attracts fans not just of capes and cowls, but also genre fans. This year, New York Film Academy cinematography teacher, Bart Mastronardi, spoke on a horror panel about his forth-coming film Tales of Poe. Mastronardi took some time to tell us about his experience and what makes Comic-Con a great place to showcase your work.

    tales of poe

    Can you tell us a little about your film?

    Tales of Poe is an anthology film based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I wanted to make a movie using Poe’s stories in a cinematic way that has not been used before.

    The cast is made up of the horror genre’s best: Amy Steel (Friday the 13th part 2); Adrienne King (Friday the 13th part 1); Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Sharknado: The Fourth Awakens); Lesleh Donaldson (Happy Birthday To Me, Curtains); Debbie Rochon (Satan Hates You); along with Randy Jones (The Village People).

    We spent four years making the movie on an independent budget. I chose three of Poe’s works for filming: The Tell-Tale Heart, which I wrote and directed; The Cask of Amontillado, written and directed by Alan Rowe Kelly; and Dreams, which I directed and was adapted by screenwriter, Michael Varrati. I produced the film with Alan Rowe Kelly.

    What did you gain from showcasing at Comic-Con?

    A large amount of exposure and attention. Showcasing Tales of Poe at Comic-Con helped to gain a lot of attention to the movie including the cast and us, as filmmakers, too. Tales of Poe is an independent film in the horror genre so being asked to attend Comic-Con was an honor. It allowed the film to be seen on a large- scale platform and reach a broader audience.

    Our numbers began to increase in regards to publicity. Being at Comic-Con is, to a degree, equivalent to being at the Academy Awards. That is how big Comic-Con is. It’s immensely fun to be there as a fan and buyer, but to be there as a guest will draw audiences to your work, which is what you want it to do.

    tell tale heart

    What are your future goals for this film?

    Actually, Tales of Poe is going to be distributed this October 11th from Wild Eye Releasing on DVD, VOD and other platforms for viewing for North American sales. We are also focusing on international platforms, too. We do have a Tales of Poe poster and DVD signing with some of our cast and crew at Dark Delicacies in Burbank and in NYC at Forbidden Planet closer to the film’s release date.

    The film is in great hands with Wild Eye Releasing as they have been publicizing the film outside of the genre and within the core genre markets. It has already had its premiere and festival run for two straight years. We are all excited about the new journey the movie is taking this October.

    Tell us about how you got into filmmaking?

    I always loved movies not so much television, but movies. I watched all the black and white Universal horror movies. Frankenstein was my favorite. My dad always took me to the movies when I was a kid. I grew up in Queens, NY. Movie theaters were all over the neighborhood.

    He took me to see Star Wars when I was five years old and boy did that the film have a huge impression on me as a kid. When I was twelve my dad took me to see Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter in 1984 and that solidified my love for filmmaking and the horror genre. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It made me excited about movies even more.

    I knew then, filming and horror would be my future. I began to read “Fangoria Magazine”. I still do. I went to the Weekend Of Horrors Conventions and met my favorite horror celebrities. I wanted to be a part of the world. I knew that many people wanted to be directors, so me being a photographer, I studied cinematography, which led me to get into a great independent horror community in NYC. Then, I met filmmaker, Alan Rowe Kelly, and he formed this great friendship that led us to be business partners, which led to Tales of Poe.

    As a director, I approached my films on a personal level. This means I financed them myself for artistic means. My first film, Vindication, took 4 years to make and I was honored when the great horror master, Clive Barker, reached out and attached his name to Vindication with an incredible review. His touch opened so many doors for me. It brought a larger budget and reputable name actors to Tales of Poe. Because of those connections Tales of Poe has a Hollywood premiere at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd and at the NYC Horror Film Festival at the Tribeca Movie Theater.

    What advice would you give to students interested in showcasing their work at Comic-Con?

    Do it! But, do it with purpose! That means you go with posters, characters dressed up, T-shirts, bags, cast, crew, business cards. Find out who will be there in regards to publicity and ask them for interviews, platforms to showcase, panels to speak on if you can.

    Use your social media to the film’s advantage. Social Media is the best form of free publicity and it gets the word around fast. Comic-Con is not a film festival so don’t think you are selling the film. What a filmmaker needs to do is publicize and market the film. Comic-Con will help you find an audience who enjoys genre works of all kinds. You will reach an incredible amount of people.

    What filmmakers must understand is that Comic-Con is for a specific audience. You will not gain interest marketing your latest drama. Comic-Con focuses on specific genre markets. These are the markets I work in as it interests me as a filmmaker. To be an invited guest to speak as a director and showcase Tales of Poe at Comic-Con two years in a row has only benefitted the film. I am honored to be there, but I also know what I had to do to help get the interest for Tales of Poe out there.

    What is the networking scene at Comic-Con like?

    Networking at Comic-Con is incredibly insane and intense as there are many talented people there showcasing their work and art on so many levels. Comic-Con represents the best on a visual scale. It is colorful, loud and big with so much going on in the area. You walk around and something is being promoted in and out of the convention center. The trick is to be prepared to network with as much as you can bring to it. If you go to Comic-Con as just a fan to look around, buy merchandise and see what it offers then great. If you are going for networking then you must bring your game face.

    tales of poe

    What was it like speaking on a panel at Comic-Con?

    It is an honor and so much fun. I have to thank Michael Varrati for asking me to be a part of it. I was there to talk at the biggest, most attended comic book genre convention in the world as an independent filmmaker in the horror genre for Tales of Poe. Talk about it all coming full circle at that moment from being that kid watching Star Wars and Friday the 13th to speaking at Comic-Con.

    Aside from being excited as a fan, being there gave me a platform to discuss the issues the horror genre faces and how Tales of Poe is a part of those issues, too. The panel is a great way to have a dialogue with peers and audience. A filmmaker’s presence at events is important in getting the word out there. Audiences want to know what we have to say outside of print. My presence allows them to meet, greet, and hear what I have to say. It’s a personal thing for audiences to meet and hear the filmmakers as it connects them to the film a bit more. I enjoy the publicity and getting out there to talk to audiences about my work. At Comic-Con it means so much more to me because I love what Comic-Con is. I was that kid who grew up on comics, genre, and fan-fare.

    How important are signings like this in getting your project to the intended audience?

    It is important if you are looking to draw more of an audience to see your movie and get the word out there to be present. Audiences love it when the actors and filmmakers show up to talk, sign, and take pictures.

    For me it is fun. I also know it is important to understand that art is what we as filmmakers bring to our work. But, at the end of the day it is business particularly once distribution gets involved and money exchanges hand.

    If I want to be a part of something then I have to put myself out there to get the intended audience to see what I have produced. Tales of Poe is a very important film to me. I spend four years of my life with Alan producing and directing it to get it out there.

    I equate it to being a parent. When someone has a child you must raise it, educate it, feed it, clothe it, send it to school and do all the things that are important to helping it grow and experience life. The same is with a film. I make movies to fulfill my own artistic needs, but once I am completed with the film it goes to the audiences. They then watch it, giving the movie a new life.

    It’s a great journey if you want it to be. The signings help the film reach an audience on a personal level. Combine that with good social media and the word spreads fast. If the audiences publicize it right away, and if they love it they will talk about it even more. It gets the buzz about your film heard.

    Do you plan on going next year? Why or why not?

    I was planning on going next year as just a fan of Comic-Con. Spend the weekend in San Diego to feel the excitement on a different scale. For two years in a row, I was invited to speak and promote my work. Next year, I would love to go just to go, enjoy San Diego, and be that kid again. But if invited again I would certainly go.

    What’s up next for you?

    I literally just moved from NYC teaching at NYFA in NYC to Los Angeles to teach at NYFA full time. Much of my time is devoted to educating young filmmakers on the understanding of filmmaking through cinematography and lighting. I’ve been a teacher for over 15 years, so to teach filmmaking full time is a lot of fun.

    Besides the promotional circuit for Tales of Poe, I shot a short film called MONTY that will be premiering this year from director Billy Clift, based on actor Montgomery Clift. It was a beautiful art piece to film it as I was the cinematographer. I own my own photography business, too, so I am always working on new projects with other artists. My personal project that I am doing right now is my first photography book focusing on portraits. Another project is to catch up with sleep.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mastronardi for his time. You can learn more about Mastronardi and his work at http://www.talesofpoefilm.com

    August 9, 2016 • Cinematography, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 2366

  • NYFA Grad Working with DP for “Big Bang Theory” and “Mom”

    rebecka KristenssonThrough the assistance of the New York Film Academy’s Alumni Department, recent grads have had their share of success in landing some really solid opportunities in the entertainment business. Such has been the case with alumna, Rebecka Kristensson, who is currently working with the talented Steven V. Silver, ASC. Silver is the Director of Photography for both The Big Bang Theory and Mom. Now that Kristensson has had the chance to settle into her new position, we thought we’d catch up to see how everything is going at her new job.

    Congrats on landing a gig with Steven V. Silver! Can you tell us how this exciting position came about?

    I got the opportunity of working with him from a job ad that was sent out by some instructors at NYFA; in my case by my amazing mentor Denise Carlson (originally from Barbara Weintraub). I applied, and somehow my application reached Steven, with a few other applications. He called me in for an interview, and a few hours into our lunch meeting he hired me on the spot and the rest is history.

    What are some of the tasks in your position?

    My position entails many different tasks, such as scheduling, coordinating with post production and Technicolor, staying updated on newly drafted scripts, floor plans, etc. I’ve been working on websites and with publicity, especially since receiving two recent Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series, which he received for both ”Mom” and “The Big Bang Theory” this year. Also, since the production schedules overlap, I often represent Steven wherever he cannot be present.

    What are some of the challenges? What are some of the perks?

    The perks are definitely working with extremely talented and professional people that I look up to a lot. I get to pick Steven’s brain a lot — someone who’s been successful in the industry for a long time, creating the look of shows such as Two And A Half Men, Dharma & Greg, The Big Bang Theory, and Mom, as well as established the look of the pilot of How I Met Your Mother. Lucky for me, Steven is truly an amazing mentor. Also, I get to run around Warner Brother’s lot every day, which is always exciting. To be part of the Chuck Lorre machine is definitely an honor, and very educational indeed.

    Do you believe your NYFA education was useful in terms of being able to work with a cinematographer on MOM and BIG BANG THEORY?

    Definitely! I would neither have received the job ad, nor been considered for the actual job, if it wasn’t for NYFA. Even more so, I would never be able to keep up with this job and professional team without my producing degree.

    What are you hoping this job will lead to? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

    I hope this job will lead to great connections, lots of wisdom, and more opportunities with Steven, Warner Brothers and Chuck Lorre Productions. Outside the studio, I’ve launched a Swedish production company with my two partners – directors and writers – Petter Englund and Johan Englund, which I hope will stay active five years from now creating original content.

    August 5, 2016 • Cinematography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3528

  • MFA Cinematography Students Film Scenes for Master’s Lighting Workshop

    The Fall 2015 MFA Cinematography students have just completed Master’s Lighting, one of several major workshop classes in the third semester of the MFA Cinematography program. The class was taught by instructor Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, whose recent credits include Straight Outta Compton (2nd unit DP), The Perfect Match (DP), and The Miki Howard Story (DP). He demonstrated a variety of current lighting techniques including how to approach large-scale night exteriors, the use of mixed lighting, and some new approaches to using color in a scene.

    master class cinematography

    The week-long workshop began with a visit to the Cine Power & Light rental house. Students learned how to set up powerful lights including 10K tungsten fresnels, 9-light Maxi-Brutes, and 4K HMI PAR’s, carefully going over proper safety protocols for all of the equipment involved. The students were then introduced to generators, power distribution equipment, and the heavy-gauge cable needed to run power to these bigger lights.

    On the second day of the workshop, the students visited Griffith Park to shoot day and night exterior setups using a range of big lighting units and a 600 amp generator. This advanced equipment gave the students the necessary power to use lights in day exterior setting, controlling contrast and balancing the sunlight. These tools also allowed them to light a large night exterior scene, mixing different colored light sources to give the scene more depth.

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    The class then moved to the Sybil Brand Institute, a decommissioned women’s prison where they have shot a number of films and television shows including Legally Blonde, 24, CSI: Miami, and Desperate Housewives. Students used the same lighting package to experiment with new techniques over the next two days of the workshop, shooting scenes on the Red Dragon digital cinema camera.

    cinema class

    The workshop concluded with a Cinematography Practicum at the Sybil Brand facility. The practicum shoot was lead by instructor Gilber Shilton, whose directing credits include episodes of Law & Order, MacGyver, Beverly Hills 90210, and Quantum Leap. With guidance from his instructors, student cinematographer Jaan Utno shot a tense scene in the jail setting. The class worked together to light more than 15 shots, incorporating techniques from the previous workshop days.

    Students leave the workshop with greater knowledge of how to light challenging scenes on a larger scale. Having worked with generators and power distribution systems, they will be ready to work at the high level of skill demanded by professional productions.

    July 20, 2016 • Cinematography, Community Highlights • Views: 2770

  • NYFA Los Angeles Hosts Open House and Mini-Workshops at Universal Studios

    Over the weekend the New York Film Academy hosted an Open House for over a hundred people at Universal Studios, Los Angeles. Prospective students and their parents had an opportunity to meet our award-winning faculty, learn more about our programs, and even participate in mini-classes.

    eric conner

    NYFA Screenwriting instructor Eric Conner welcoming prospective students.

    Each guest at the Open House took part in two different classes of his or her choice. They were introduced to 3D-Animation, Producing, Acting for Film, Cinematography, Filmmaking and Photography.

    justin lareau

    NYFA Instructor Justin Lareau talks about the importance of pitching.

    Chair of the Cinematography Department, Tony Richmond, whose career spans well over six decades, welcomed our guests with a camera workshop. Some of Richmond’s credits include: The Sandlot, Legally Blonde, Candyman, Playing God, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Stardust, Rough Riders, Silver Bears, That’s Life and Sunset, The Eagle Has Landed, and The Greek Tycoon. He also served as DP on Tony Goldwin’s directorial debut Walk On The Moon, Sean Penn’s directorial debut Indian Runner, and Anjelica Houston’s directorial debut Bastard Out Of Carolina.

    tony richmond

    Tony Richmond leading a Cinematography class.

    Those interested in Acting for Film jumped into the Improv for Camera Workshop with Chair of Acting, Lynda Goodfriend, and Associate Chair for Acting for Film Studies, Christopher Cass.

    Christopher Cass

    Christopher Cass teaching Improv

    Associate Chair of Animation, Matt Galuppo, discussed the role of the animator in the entertainment industry. An unparalleled animation institute, the animation school at the New York Film Academy provides students with state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on experience with the industry standard Maya, ZBrush, Mudbox, Motion Builder, and Nuke software and top-notch equipment.

    matt galuppo

    Matt Galuppo leading an Animation discussion.

    Instructor Richard Friedman, who has over 25 years experience in directing and producing film and TV, including work in independent feature films, television movies, episodic television series, reality TV, and music videos, immersed the guests in a filmmaking workshop.

    At the same time, Chair of the Photography Department, Michele Kirk, spoke about how the New York Film Academy offers students the remarkable opportunity to study under award-winning, professional photographers who remain active in the many genres of photography, from fine art to fashion, commercial work to photojournalism.

    NYFA Open House at Universal Studios.)

    NYFA Open House at Universal Studios.

    We had a full crowd of interested people, many of whom are very serious about pursuing a career in the Film and Entertainment industry.

    Visit our website to learn more about future open houses!

    June 22, 2016 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights • Views: 1606

  • “Good Luck Chuck” Screening at NYFA Los Angeles

    On Thursday, April 21st, New York Film Academy students were treated to a screening and Q & A of the hit Dane Cook / Jessica Alba romantic comedy, Good Luck Chuck. Director Mark Helfrich and Director of Cinematography / NYFA Chair of Cinematography, Tony Richmond, A.S.C., B.S.C., spoke with students at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Sonny Calderon, NYFA’s Dean of the College, moderated the discussion.

    nyfa good luck chuck

    NYFA Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon; Cinematography Chair, Tony Richmond; Director Mark Helfrich

    When asked how the movie came together, Helfrich said, “I’ve always wanted to direct,” which sent him on the search for scripts. He finally took on Good Luck Chuck, which at that time was a much softer romantic comedy, deciding to turn it into the very sexy R-rated romantic comedy that it became. Commenting on the value of the writing process in the development of the film, Helfrich said, “A screenwriter is worth his weight in gold.” He went on to add that a good script is one where you can’t wait to get to the next page.

    Being relatively new to directing after establishing himself as an editor, Helfrich now had to work with actors in a new way. Sonny Calderon asked him how he went about learning those new skills. Helfrich drew on his experience on previous sets in a non-directorial capacity, when he would visit the set as an editor and watch the director work with actors.

    The conversation turned to the relationship of directing to editing. Helfrich said that some directors have the movie cut in their head before they shoot, tying that to clarity of vision. This clarity of vision from a director, he said, also influences the amount of coverage directors use to cover the scene, saying also that he leans toward the minimum amount of coverage required. Sonny went on to add that a lot of reshooting tends to kill energy on the part of actors, particularly in a comedy. Helfrich said that the current trend is to “over cover” scenes.

    Sonny asked Helfrich about the emergence of digital editing and the differences between that and film editing. Helfrich said that he likes both, adding about film, “It was tangible.”  When asked what he looks for in a director, Tony told the audience to look for someone they like, adding, “I’ve never worked with anybody I didn’t like.”

    May 6, 2016 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1713

  • NYFA Industry Lab Creates Video for Che’Nelle’s Youtube Channel

    Che’Nelle, a Malaysian Australian recording artist, signed with Universal Music Japan with her 2015 hit single “Fierce,” and is now giving back to the community by working with the Nashville based organization Soles4Souls. The non-profit global social enterprise is committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing.

    che'nelle

    Recently, the New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab filmed Che’Nelle’s charitable cause, donating from her own closet with the help of Los Angeles based celebrity stylist from NBC’s Fashion Star and Eva Longoria’s Ready for Love, Daniel Musto, a current member of E! Style Collective and the Costumer Designers Guild.

    The concept for the video was written by New York Film Academy alumnus Todd Lien and directed by alumna and Director of Les Femmes du Ciné (New York Film Academy’s Women’s Club) Mariana Thome.

    che'nelle

    Other notable crew members from New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab are alumnus producer, Davin Tjen, cinematographer Alejandro Talens, and sound mixer Steve Johnson. Along with current students, gaffer Jiaqing “Vince” Ge and sound mixer Anastasia Reinhard.

    Be on the look out for the video, which should be going live soon on Che’Nelle’s Youtube Channel.

    March 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1808

  • NYFA Grad Cinematographer on ‘Neerja’

    Released in the US over the weekend, the Indian film Neerja has been receiving numerous praises for actress Sonam Kapoor’s portrayal of the life of the courageous Neerja Bhanot, who sacrificed her life while protecting the lives of 359 passengers on the hijacked Pan Am flight 73 in 1986.

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    Working as the cinematographer with one of the best Indian directors in the business, Ram Madhvani, was New York Film Academy alumnus Mitesh Mirchandani. The NYFA grad has worked on a few commercials with Madhvani and working with him on Neerja was a no brainer.

    “When I first met Ram, he said, ‘Mitesh, I would like to shoot this film in a particular way—no lights, 360 degree shooting, long takes, really long takes, freedom for the actors and let’s be completely candid in our approach,” recalled Mirchandani. “At first I was a little reluctant as it was a feature, but soon enough I realized what we were after. We had close to 45 minute takes in almost every sequence without any rehearsals or marks for the focus pullers.”

    mitesh m

    With four cameras rolling at all times, the cast and crew gelled together seamlessly, as though there was only one camera rolling on set. The entire film was shot without using any lights.

    “You really need crew that’s as crazy as you to pull this off,” said Mirchandani. “I was really blessed to have the best crew ever assembled. I didn’t want the film to feel framed and lit, it needed to be as if we were there capturing what was happening at that moment.”

    The hard work paid off, as the Fox Star Studios film has been doing well both critically and at the box-office.

    “I learned a lot from NYFA—the faculty was amazing and really helpful,” added Mirchandani. “The access to equipment really prepared me to get out there and be confident about what I was shooting.”

    Mirchandani is currently busy shooting TV commercials.

    February 25, 2016 • Cinematography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 12438

  • Tommy Upshaw: ‘Straight Outta NYFA’

    With close to nineteen years of professional experience in the film industry, New York Film Academy Los Angeles Cinematography Instructor Tommy “Maddox” Upshaw began his career as a teenager taking whatever opportunities came his way as a Production Assistant in the New York City and Boston area. Maddox’s opportunities came in the form of music videos, which led him to becoming a Union Grip/Electric for the span of 6 years before becoming a professional Motion Picture Cameraman, during which he earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree at the American Film Institute.

    tommy maddox

    Upon completing his Masters and beginning his career as a Cinematographer, there was only one focus in filmmaking, to become one of Hollywood’s premier Cameramen. With mentor and friend, Academy nominated Cinematographer Matthew Libatique ASC (Ironman, Black Swan), Maddox was given opportunities to work directly with some of Hollywood’s premier directors, such as Spike Lee, Jon Favreau, as well as Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. As a Cinematographer and Music Video Director he won best music video at the Elevate Film Fest, and had his silent short film “The Known World” screened at a handful of film festivals across the country.

    Upshaw was recently Second Unit Director of Photography on Straight Outta Compton and Cinematographer on The Perfect Match, among several other major projects.

    We had a chance to pick Upshaw’s brain in between his teaching and hectic Hollywood schedule.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your thoughts on the current cinematography program, and the direction you’d like to see it take?

    I feel the current program is great. It offers something that other programs around the country don’t. You have some extraordinary working professionals that are teaching cinema that still involves the process of starting on film, which is great because it’s giving a perspective of all the tools that are available to tell stories. The program will only get better if we as faculty hold our cinematography students to a different standard about work ethic and quality of story analysis and physical execution on set.

    What do you hope to achieve as Instructor of Cinematography at NYFA Los Angeles?

    I hope I can help a group of young filmmakers believe they can have a stake in becoming a part of the elite filmmakers in Hollywood. I feel as though I’m giving them the tools to truly be great storytellers, and also tools to be great leaders on set, which is a part of being a Director of Photography.

    How do you feel your experience in the professional world will relate to NYFA’s cinematography students?

    I feel it probably helps my students to take me a bit serious when they see that I’ve worked on some fun projects over the years and that I keep working; in between teaching at NYFA, which is a blessing.

    tommy upshaw on set

    Can you tell us a bit about the role of a 2nd Unit DP versus head cinematographer / DP?

    Second Unit DPs are either “Mr. Clean Up” on a scene or we get to do some fun action scenes from time to time. We also occasionally get to create some amazing transitions and moments that 1st Unit can’t do because of time. It’s a great place to learn from some great Master Cinematographers because they have to give you their notes—so you can match their work. With that being said, you get to see their applied notes and approach on set.

    What advice do you have for students looking to break into the professional world of cinematography in today’s industry?

    First off, you have to believe in yourself. Secondly, respect your own path on this journey. Learn about screenwriting, so then you can understand story-beat breakdowns. If you can make all your choices on story beats then you’re doing the best job for the project or movie. To just make cool images is not what it’s ALL about. Being honest to the story or product or moment is the job of a Cinematographer. The technology is easy to learn; how and when to use it is another thing. And lastly, just stay with it. If you truly love this craft, it’s a way of life and if you learn how to surf it, it’s fun and exciting.

    February 8, 2016 • Cinematography • Views: 2142

  • Cinematography Chair Anthony Richmond Remembers David Bowie from “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

    “I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.” Over the span of sixty nine years, the recently deceased legend of music, art, film, theatre and pop culture, David Bowie was indeed as extraordinary as he set out to be. Always setting the trends and breaking the boundaries as an artist, the entertainment icon and pioneer of glam rock’s legacy will live on forever.

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    David Bowie on set of “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

    “He was a major, major artist,” said New York Film Academy Cinematography Chair, Anthony Richmond, who was Director of Photography on the Nicolas Roeg film The Man Who Fell to Earth, which starred Bowie as a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. “He just kept reinventing himself.”

    The 1976 British sci-fi film, which was actually shot in New Mexico, was originally cast for Peter O’ Toole. However, those who know the movie—which maintains its strong cult following due to its use of surreal imagery and unforgettable Bowie performances—know that it wouldn’t be nearly the same without him. “I don’t think there was another person who could play that part,” said Richmond. “Bowie was a bit like an alien himself—bringing his own artistry to the film.”


    The British film was Richmond’s first film in which he spent the entire shoot in America. While on set, Richmond and director Nicolas Roeg would play some of Bowie’s hits, especially “Young Americans,” which was one of his more recent songs that Richmond was quite fond of.

    Bowie would spend almost eight hours each morning getting into his alien costume. In fact, it was Richmond’s wife at the time who spent all morning dolling up Bowie.

    “Unlike most rock stars, Bowie was incredibly professional,” said Richmond, a man who is no stranger to working with rock legends. Richmond was responsible for photography on the seminal British music scene of the late 60’s. He shot The Rolling Stones classic, “Sympathy For The Devil” for Jean-Luc Godard, and then collaborated with Michael Lindsey Hogg on The Rolling Stones’ “Rock And Roll Circus” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” His other rock and roll credits include: The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright,” as well as the Documentary “Glastonbury Fayre.”

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    David Bowie, Nicolas Roeg and Anthony Richmond

    Like most of us, Richmond was a huge fan of Bowie’s work and would frequently see him in concert and listen to his music whenever he could.

    “I was deeply saddened when I read the news this morning. We lost one of the most extraordinary artists of our time.”