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  • American Cinematographer Spotlights New York Film Academy Cinematography Grad Egor Povolotskiy

    American Cinematographer magazine, the official publication of the American Society of Cinematographers, recently spotlighted the meteoric rise of New York Film Academy MFA Cinematography grad Egor Povolotskiy in it’s Rising Stars of Cinematography piece.

    In an issue that also features ASC giants like the creative minds behind The Last Jedi, American Cinematographer highlights how Povolotskiy’s pathway to success in Los Angeles was paved in large part through his NYFA connections.

    First, Povolotskiy points to his NYFA instructor and mentor Mike Williamson, and later to fellow NYFA alum and line producer Mariietta Volynska, who hired the cinematographer for his first project post-graduation, based on his NYFA thesis. 

    Since then, Povolotskiy has padded out his already impressive resume with three wins at the Rochester International and Voya Film Festivals plus another four nominations for his short film We Are Enemies.

    Now with eight features and almost 60 short films under his belt, we had a chance to hear from Povolotskiy about his experience working on the riveting thriller, Gold Dust, and his own journey behind the lens.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    EP: My journey starts back in Russia. I was at university getting my first master’s in artificial intelligence. Somewhere in the middle of my education, I started taking pictures of my friends and becoming interested in photography in general. I realized that AI was not that interesting for me anymore, and I started growing more as a photographer. (I still finished my masters though!)

    During university, I was working as a photojournalist as well as a wedding and family photographer, shooting for Marriott Hotels in Moscow. I was also an official photographer of Russian Association of Motorcyclists. Bikers and their bikes were involved in film productions, and for me it was always magic to see how films were done. So the next time I saw them on set, I called the president of this association and asked him if I could stop by and take some pictures just for myself. It was a shoot of a son of one of the most famous directors in Russia, with the biggest production company. I ended up being hired as bts [behind-the-scenes photographer] after my first day on set.

    After working for three years as bts and 2nd unit, the producer asked me one day if I wanted to DP a film. I refused, and told her that I would first get my education. … I had a sense of framing and lighting, but I didn’t know anything about being a DP at that time. Being a DP is not just framing and lighting. A DP is a storyteller, a head of a department, a set runner and problems solver — that’s became a definition of my job now.

    When I was choosing a school I was really afraid to go overseas, but my wife supported me, saying that everything was going to be how I wanted. My parents also gave me big support. My DP friends recommended NYFA as a possible school — hands-on and not that expensive. I was choosing between London, Lodze (in Poland), and NYFA, and I choose NYFA in the end.

    Egor Povolotskiy via IMDB

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time as a NYFA student?

    EP: As for favorite moments — I really don’t know, because it was great overall. … Every project I was shooting, I was trying to do better and bigger than my previous project. I still have warm feelings about NYFA and mention it where I can. I was also TA-ing sometimes between projects. By the time I graduated, a lot of people at NYFA knew me already. But I was still afraid of what would happen after school, how I was going to find a job. But right at two weeks after my graduation, I booked my first feature film as a DP!

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit more about your experience shooting Gold Dust?

    EP: That was a fun experience. I went to an interview and I usually talk first, but here I was kind of shocked that the director took the initiative. He ask me, “What’s wrong with you Russians, you shoot so differently?” I really didn’t know what to answer. Later when we became friends he told me that he hired me because of the way I told him that I like to shoot fast. David Wall — a true director, in my understanding of what that means: great powerful leader, a captain of a ship. …

    We were actually blessed to have a desert with its very different looks — breathtaking sunsets, rain, heat — we got everything taped. We got a great “family” film by the end.

    Egor Povolotskiy Cinematography reel summer 2017 from Egor Povolotskiy on Vimeo.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your prep process before you start working on a film?

    EP: I read the script as the “dumbest person,” meaning that everything should be clear for me. If I have any questions, there’s going to be a person [in the audience] who will ask the same question. Then, myself and the director talk about the story in general. … In most cases I’m able to tell what kind of film the director sees in his mind. I do a beat breakdown of a script, and we decide if the film needs to be stylized or not. Then I build visual arcs based on developing the character and style of the film. Usually I give a couple of options to the director, if he gives me freedom. I prefer collaboration over the projects were I have no creative influence — every film is a part of myself.

    … I remember at NYFA we had some sort of test. If the director wanted a shot, but the producer was not giving him money, which side you will take? There are always two [out of three] things you have to choose: not expensive, good or fast. The secret is you can combine all three, actually!

    Being a collaborator with understanding of storytelling is a great help for a director, if you’re fast. … You have to stay in the budget, and then the producer will always love you. Learning how to use visual tools (composition, lighting, movement, editing, color grading), how to be a leader, how to delegate to your crew and build a shooting process so the crew feel safe, comfortable, respectfully treated — it is huge work.

    Being a DP you’re learning not only about other people, but also about yourself.

    Gold Dust film poster via IMDB

    NYFA: Are you working on any other upcoming projects you’d like to share?

    EP: As for future projects, I’m prepping a film with Richard Friedman (NYFA instructor), a TV series with Cyril Zima, and a mystic feature film with Alex Babaev.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Egor Povolotskiy for taking the time to share a part of his story with our students.

     

  • New York Film Academy Alum Made Head of Development at October Films

    New York Film Academy alum Louis Mole has been promoted to Head of Development US at production company October Films, along with colleague Matt Dewar, who’s been made Head of Development UK.

    Mole enrolled in NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary Program, chaired by Andrea Swift, in September 2011 at our New York City campus. In the program, Mole learned to conceive, pitch, produce, direct, and edit various types of documentary shorts, as well as gain experience as cinematographer, sound recordist and assistant camera.

    Of his time at NYFA, Mole said in 2013: “You come out of the program with the fundamental expertise of every single aspect of making a film – which is so unique.”

    Mole put the education to good use, heading to Singapore after graduation and writing three episodes for the docuseries Asian Swindlers. He then joined October Films in 2014 within their London development team, and later came back to the Big Apple when he transferred to the New York office of October Films.

    October Films is an award-winning, fast-growing production company based in the US and UK that focuses on independent content from a variety of genres — including documentaries, dramas, and entertainment and reality programs.

    Some of their recent projects include Eight Days That Made Rome, Dangerous Borders, Annie: Out of the Ashes, Motorheads, and From Russia To Iran: Crossing The Wild Frontier. October Films also has series in production for the BBC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, the Science Channel, and Channel 4.

    Before his promotion to Head of Development, Mole worked on multiple projects for October Films, including Mygrations for the National Geographic Channel, Trailblazers for Discover Channel, and a seven-part series for Lifetime.

    Louis Mole has also paid it forward to newer students at the New York Film Academy, speaking with them as a guest lecturer, and offering his solid expertise.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Louis Mole on his well-earned success, and looks forward to seeing where his career heads next!

    February 9, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 508

  • NYFA Los Angeles Celebrates it’s Fall 2017 Graduates

    On Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, the New York Film Academy congratulated another graduating class as they crossed into the next stage of their professional careers. Three ceremonies were held throughout the day to accommodate the more than two hundred students who have now completed their education at NYFA.

    Many students spent the previous day at Warner Brother’s Studios screening their final films on the backlot. The occasion is always an emotional one. Warner Brothers is a Hollywood institution that has been home to some of the greatest names and films in the entertainment industry.

    Families were able to gather for photos before the ceremony began. A NYFA backdrop had everyone looking red carpet ready. When it was time for parents to take their seats, students formed neat rows as they filed into the building.

    This year’s commencement speakers ranged from a Hollywood star, a casting director who worked closely with Stephen Spielberg, and a producer/writer for several of the greatest television shows ever made. Each speaker had a copious amount of advice to give to the graduates. A common theme to all the speeches was that the students should learn from the speaker’s own mistakes so they could do even better in their own careers.

    New York Film Academy | Acting School Graduation

    The first speaker to grace the stage was Valorie Massalas, casting director extraordinaire. Her credits include “Indiana Jones,” “Chaplin,” “Total Recall,” “Alive,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Back to the Future II” and III. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on “Annie.” She is a new inductee into the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    Massalas spoke directly to the actors about how the industry has changed since she began her career. The most disturbing change to Massalas is the rise of the social media actor. These are Hollywood hopefuls who have never taken an acting class but have 20 thousand or more followers, and they are being cast in major motion pictures because the heads of studios believe they can put audience members into seats.

    “I’m sharing that with you because it’s disturbing to me that you spend all your time training like you’ve done, with these beautiful people, honing your craft, but if you don’t have social media numbers you could lose a job to somebody who does,” Massalas said. “It’s important for you to be aware of that because it’s just part of our world today. It’s not going to go away, In fact, it’s going to get worse.”

    It wasn’t all bad news. Certainly, some of the changes would be favorable for the next generation chosen to run Hollywood. Social media is also giving other creatives access to the tight-knit entertainment community. “When I was first starting out you didn’t have the kind of access that you have today with social media,” Massalas said.

    “The most important thing you must always remember is that you are the president of your own company. You have to be prepared to run your business like the president of a company. If you’re not doing that, you’re failing your career because nobody is going to run your business better than you.” Massalas warned students.

    New York Film Academy | Film School Graduation

    The second commencement speaker to take the stage was actor Joshua Helman. Helman’s credits include some of the biggest action films of the last ten years including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Jack Reacher.” He’s also been prolific in television starring in HBO’s “The Pacific,” the mini-series “Flesh and Bone,” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Wayward Pines.”

    Throughout Helman’s hilarious speech, he blended solid life advice with anecdotes from his time getting started in the industry. He began with a bit of advice he had learned from a teacher. “When I was in acting school, a singing teacher told me that the most valuable things an entertainer has to offer the audience are vulnerability and generosity. And not only have I never forgotten that, but I found it to be true.” He concluded this thought saying, “Come back to vulnerability and generosity. It will never be wrong. Find the stuff that challenges you, the truth that scares you, and offer it up to the world with joy.”

    Helman also wanted to prepare students for the reality of how long it can take to start a career. “You have to prove yourself and that can suck. It means working a day job, it means losing sleep, and it means facing long stretches of seemingly infinite time when you feel like you are going nowhere. That is par for the course. Each of you, if you’re not an insane person, is going to want to give up at some point…”

    But, Helman amended, there’s a way to survive the hard years. “You can make peace with it if you never forget that you are doing it in order to do the job that you love and that (entertainment) is your real job.”

    New York Film Academy | Producing School Graduation

    The final speaker of the night was Cherie Steinkellner. She is perhaps best known for producing the multi-award winning television show, “Cheers.” She also wrote for such groundbreaking shows as “The Jeffersons” and “Who’s the Boss?” Finally, she wrote for and produced the Disney animated series and feature film, “Teacher’s Pet” starring Nathan Lane.

    Steinkellner takes issue with the adage, “Those who can’t-do, teach.” “I don’t believe that to be true,” she said. “I think those who can’t-do, learn. Which is to say, if you find yourself to be an irresistible force up against an immovable object, if you find that you can’t achieve something, instead of fighting the same darn thing, consider that the point isn’t to step over that obstacle. Maybe the point of the lesson is: What can I learn from this?”

    With that thought in mind, Steinkellner also wanted to make sure students didn’t think that graduating meant their best days were behind them. She closed out her speech stating,

    “When I was in school, in the seventies, people would say to me these are the best years of your life. I hated that. School is short and life is long. You will never forget the years that you have spent here at the New York Film Academy. I haven’t forgotten the years that I spent in college. Please, trust this elder. The good stuff is all ahead of you. Let’s see what you make. Let’s see what you do. Let’s see your ‘weird.’ Congratulations on your graduation and welcome my friends to the best years of your life.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Joshua Helman, Valorie Massalas, and Cherie Steinkellner for taking the time to speak with our students. We’d also like to congratulate all of our incredible students on their graduation. We hope to see you back here soon, telling the next generation your success story.

    MFA in Acting:

    Vicente Almuna Morales

    Ainur Rauilyevna

    Alejandra Gonzalez

    Vincson Green II

    Haoran Li

    Elizabeth Otaola Cortina

    Nanli Wang

    Chaoyue Zhao

     

    BFA in Acting:

    Melissa Abugattas Lozada

    Reya Al-Jaroudy

    Ratnavali Anderson

    Ira Calilung

    Whitney Cheng

    Abbilyn Chuha

    Jennifer Anne Cipolla

    Briana Davis

    Joseph Ekstrom

    Michael Furlough

    Emmanouil Giamas

    Maria Manuela Gomez

    Anes Hasi

    Christian Elijah Leighty

    Nina Madzirov

    Phillip McNair

    Bethany Rhiannon Daisy Milner

    Rebecca Momo

    Alessio Mongardi

    Analisa Moreno

    Vanessa Rene Nuevo

    Chunxiao Ouyang

    Trinity Page

    Fernando Peralta

    Zachary Thomas Perry

    Raven Ramos

    Maurice Roberson II

    Simran Sangian

    Billy Xiong

    Ming Jie Yang

     

    AFA in Acting:

    Tia Blackwill

    Corinna Camero

    Melissa Celikovic

    Jassen Charron

    Gregory James Drake

    Kurt Alexander Eberle

    Andre Forrest

    Aaliyah Jones

    Wadley Sterlin

    Travis Nevin Tendler

    Robert Tevlin

    Danielle Torck

     

    MFA in Producing:

    Mazen Aleqbali

     

    BFA in Producing:

    Ruddy Cano Hernandez

    Nyshon Ferrell

    Carlos Gonzalez

    Chor Kei Hui

    Brandon William McCarthy

    Thandiwe Mlauli

    Gilma Edith Montecer Lore

    Sagar Patel

    Angel J. Pitre

    Sim Sagiroglu

    Peijun Zou

     

    AFA in Producing:

    Mengying Sun

     

    MFA in Photography:

    Amal Alahdal

    Dania Saud Altalhi

    Pamela Garcia-Aguirre

     

    BFA in Photography:

    Rushank Anil Agrawal

    Brenda Cantu

    Tanya Gawdi

    Kingi Kingibe

    Ziomara Ramirez

    Wen Tao Tu

     

    MFA in Documentary:

    Sultan Sulaiman Aljurays

    Camilla Elisabeth Borel Rinkes

    Amira Hamour

    Ashley Danielle Harris

    Yuan Li

    Kristin Lydsdottir

    Huda Abdulsalam Moraidikha

    Maria Carolina Sosa Andres

    Guangli Zhu

     

    MFA in Cinematography:

    Jhonny Fabian Garcia Sarmiento

    Rafael O. Rivera

    Maria Sevilla

    Manuel Velasquez Isaza

     

    MFA in Film:

    Joud AlAmri

    Gerald Albitre

    Mahfouz Maeid M. Alzahrani

    Almaz Amandossov

    Dias Azimzhanov

    Yang Bai

    Alma Baimuratova

    Rushikesh Bhadane

    Beatriz Cabrera Figuerez

    Xiaoyue Cao

    Yue Chen

    Moataz Ezzat Elsayed Gamal Elbahaey

    Boise Badilla Esquerra

    Efrain Santiago Fierro

    Anuja Ganpule-Sheorey

    Zesheng Gao

    Mariia Gerasymiuk

    Di Hang

    Amber A. Harris

    Jacob Houghton

    Oboatarhe Ikuku

    Runjie Ji

    Annu Kapil

    Gabriela Ledesma

    Jian Li

    Yitong Li

    Yixin Liang

    Gengru Liu

    Zichen Liu

    Michael Louka

    Kendra McDonald

    Rachel Gebrael Meguerdijian

    Maria Mitkovskaya

    Sonakshi Mittal

    Aditya Rajendra Mohite

    Amanda Molefe

    Rima Mori

    Dina Najialdaies

    Vibhav Vinayak Nayak

    Kevin Nwankwor

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Hiroki Ohsawa

    Derek Parker

    Ana Camila Parra Bernal

    Yuntong Peng

    Rene Rodriguez

    Francia Romero

    Guoqiang Sheng

    Yu Sheng

    Savannah Sivert

    Jourdain Antoine Smith

    Julien Supplice

    Mohitha Vankima

    Shashank Narendra Varma

    Chenyi Wang

    Tixiao Wang

    Zheng Wang

    Erxuan Wu

    Yuzuan Wu

    Lijun Yang

    Meng Yu

    Xiankai Zhang

    Xiaoxiao Zhang

    Xiwen Zhang

    Rui Zhu

    Xuerong Zhu

     

    AFA in Film:

    James Bonfiglio

    Peter Farquhar

    Casey Swing

    Zhen Wang

     

    MFA in Screenwriting:

    Jean-Baptiste Hakim

    Keaton Kaplan

    Kobus Louw

    Aida Marie-Louise Noujaim

     

    MA in Screenwriting:

    Kwang Jin Chai

    Rosa Falu-Carrion

    Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

    Roberto Tapia

     

    BFA in Screenwriting:

    Nick Davis

    Nawaf al Hoshani

    Felix Martinez Autin

     

    MFA in Game Design:

    May Alotaibi

     

    BFA in Game Design:

    Cody Fowler

    Min Han

    Alecksandar Jackowicz

    Mario Monaco

     

    MA in Film:

    Mina Abrahim

    Vedang Bhatt

    Dhriti Borah

    Julian Andres Bueno Sanchez

    Maurice Cassidy

    Jaya Prasad Chitturi

    Xingyue Dai

    Abdallah ElDaly

    Jiawei Gao

    Giunel Ismaiylova

    Abebowale Johnson

    Melissa Johnson

    Vicken Joulfayan

    Chenyang Li

    Mengke Li

    Xi Lin

    Yilin Liu

    Haixiao Lu

    Hin Lam Allan Ng

    Yu Qiu

    Srikanth Navarathna Raju

    Jose Mario Salas Boza

    Kongpob Sangsanga

    Elizabeth Soto-Lara

    Sukrut Shirish Teni

    Jianyu Wang

    Yu Wang

    Jiaxing Wu

    Sipei Wu

    Xueqing Wu

    Siqi Xiao

    Qingjing Yan

    Zain Zaman

    Chen Zhang

    Yiyun Zhang

    Yang Zhou

     

    BFAin Film:

    Ryan Adams

    Sara Ait Benabdallah

    Fawaz Saleh Al-Batati

    Basil Alamri

    Abdullah Saleh Alawaji

    Hani Alqattan

    Ayman Ahmed Alzahrani

    Jascha Bellaiche

    Rolf Niklas Martin Berggren

    Ambre-India Bourdon

    Tammy Cook

    Jose Guilherme Correia Jr.

    Antonio Gassan Darwiche

    Rumena Dinevska

    Gabriel Erwin

    Cirenia Raquel Escobedo Esquivel

    Jiaqing Ge

    Daniel Ivan Gonzalez Ramirez

    Oliver Granö

    Kartikye Gupta

    Akira Hayakawa

    Anton Hermawan

    Nuria Stella Hernandez

    Dongyan Jiang

    Yudi Jiang

    Autumn Joiner

    Joanna Krawczyk

    Henrique Kraychete Freire

    Gabriel Legua

    Xuejiao Liu

    Zhuangzi Liu

    Ana Catalina Loret de Mola

    Mario Mazzarella

    Eric Milzarski

    Nikola Nikolovski

    Varunn Pandya

    Konstantinos Pateronis

    Vladislav Petrov

    Celeste Pillay

    Katherine Pinkston

    Albert Theodore Pranoto

    Anastasia Reinhard

    Alejandro Rojas Melo

    Brooke Schulte

    Richard Selvi

    Denis Semikin

    Muhamad Ashram Shahrivar

    Shiyi Shao

    Jiajin Song

    Michael Tharp

    Hary Johann Tuukkanen Itriago

    Santos Verdia-Cross

    Tiange Wei

    Assem Yedgey

  • NYFA Australia Welcomes Cinematographer Toby Oliver as Guest Speaker

    Sydney students were fortunate to hear from native Australian, award-winning cinematographer Toby Oliver, who has forged a successful career in the U.S. and internationally. Moderated by NYFA Australia Dean of Faculty Art Helterbran Jr., it was an inspiring Guest Speaker event which centered on the topic of work ethic in the film industry.

    Some of Mr. Oliver’s recent credits include thriller “Get Out,” with Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya, filmed in the U.S. state of Alabama. According to IMDB, “Get Out” ranked #1 at the U.S. Box Office on its opening weekend in February 2017.

    NYFA Sydney student Charlie was particularly pleased to hear from a cinematographer with so much experience working in intense movies. “I love horror films,” Charlie shared after the event. “It was so amazing to hear from a DoP who has worked on films I really loved. It’s was the best talk ever.”

    An accredited member of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS), and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), Toby’s credits also include the Australian WWI epic “Beneath Hill 60,” (Australian Academy nomination); TV movie “Beaconsfield” (Gold ACS Award and the ACS Best in Show); “Wolf Creek 2” (ACS Gold Award, Venice Film Festival); and “Carlotta” (Australian Academy nomination). In his uniquely international career, Toby has also created a prolific body of work in China, including the romantic Chinese-language “Waiting Alone” as well as the Australia/China co-production “33 Postcards.”

    Toby’s advice to the international student community of NYFA Australia centered on the importance of having a strong work ethic: “…(working in the film industry) is all about work ethic. If you want to do something, you got to do it properly…all the way through to the end.”

    He also pointed to having an awareness of the whole team on the film set as being essential to a film’s success, no matter the role. “Having actors who got that kind of skills to be aware of the filmmaking process, as well as their own performance, is not easy, but it can usually help make a better movie.”

    NYFA Australia students found Toby’s stories and insights particularly inspiring, given the cinematographer’s breadth and depth of experience. “Very inspiring to hear from a true Hollywood master,” said student Anthony. “This talk gave me a good idea how to work my way to success.”

    Fellow student Simon agreed. “Toby was generous with his time, sharing his insights and knowledge into the industry and his own creative and collaborative practice.”

    The New York Film Academy Australia would like to thank Toby Oliver for visiting our Sydney campus as a Guest Speaker.

  • A Q&A With “The Road” Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe

    On Tuesday, June 13, the New York Film Academy welcomed Javier Aguirresarobe to the Riverside Theater. His son, cinematographer Jon Aguirresarobe (“Hunter Gatherer”), was there to translate.

    Screenshot 2017-06-19 11.38.36

    Aguirresarobe is a world-renowned director of photography known for his work on such great films like “The Others,” “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Goya’s Ghosts,” and “The Promise.” So, why did he pick “The Road,” a film from 2005, to show the students?

    Aguirresarobe shared that the book behind “The Road” was very special for him. He felt that telling this story was the perfect way to begin working in the United States. “The director (John Hillcoat) had already seen my movies at that time. So he thought I was the right one to do this movie, which he considered very special because it was the world after an apocalypse.”

    Screenshot 2017-06-19 11.34.59

    “I asked the producer why they had picked me for the job,” Aguirresarobe said. “I could understand the director being interested, but what did the producers want me?” The producers responded that they wanted to do a more European-style movie.

    The director and cinematographer agreed that they wanted a more “realistic vibe” than a typical American film. One way they tried to achieve that look was by removing the sun. “The lack of the sun in the movie is one of the most challenging aspects of the film,” shared Aguirresarobe. But the aesthetic helped create a sense of complete and utter doom that quickly enwraps the crowd.

    Screenshot 2017-06-19 11.36.19

    At first, Aguirresarobe was extremely troubled by this obstacle. “I was worried because I knew what kind of movie I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it.”

    He studied American films that were shot in Mexico. A lot of them had day for night shots, and Aguirresarobe played around with this to figure out the algorithm. He discovered that, back in the day, filmmakers would burn big piles of gasoline in order to create thick black clouds that could block out the sun. This is no longer a legal option, but Aguirresarobe did pitch it to the director as a joke.

    Aguirresarobe described himself as lucky to have pulled off the look. The time of year became a large factor in the shoot. The lack of greenery helped sell the idea of a dead Earth. “I wanted to respect the spirit of the book.”

    Screenshot 2017-06-19 11.43.09

    Aguirresarobe also felt the lead actors helped cement the book’s spirit onto celluloid. “One of the best things in the movie is Viggo Mortensen. He went at the move with full energy. You can see all of that intensity on the screen.”

    Aguirresarobe joked with students that he would share a few tips and tricks, but in the age of digital, they might seem historic. This did not deter anyone in the audience. One student asked, “Can you talk about how you did that marvelous close-up on Robert Duvall in that speech and the eyes … Was that done in camera or in post-production?”

    Not missing a beat Aguirresarobe confirmed that the shot was done in camera. “Everything is done in camera. Duvall did have contact lenses to make it seem like he was blind.” Flame bars were used to get the look in the eyes. He said he learned a lot on those nights.

    Screenshot 2017-06-19 11.40.51

    He began experimenting with real fire and the bars to create a better look. “Using the fire as a key light creates a horrible image. It creates a very intense red. The shadow gets very rough,” he said.  So he would mix the natural and the artificial to create a natural look.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank both Jon and Javier Aguirresarobe for taking the time to speak with our students about their craft. Javier Aguirresarobe’s next film is Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok.”

    June 19, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2457

  • NYFA LA Chair Tony Richmond Interviewed by Cineaste

    New York Film Academy Los Angeles Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond recently discussed his long-standing career as well as the new 4k digital restoration of “The Man Who Fell to Earth” with Cineaste, a leading magazine on the art and politics of cinema.

    cineaste

    Beginning with his first gig as a news runner on London’s Wardour Street, Richmond chronicles his rise in the business. Early in his career, Richmond had the extraordinary opportunity to work with Jean-Luc Godard on “One Plus One” (“Sympathy for the Devil”), followed by three groundbreaking films for Nicholas Roeg, including “Don’t Look Now,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” and “Bad Timing,” among many other films.

    “The greatest thing about Godard, for me, and this has resonated throughout my career, is that, as he once said, movies have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order,” said Richmond about his work with Godard. “I think that’s fantastic…bloody fantastic!”

    As to his work with director Nicholas Roeg, Richmond said, “The cinematographer’s job is to put the director’s vision on the screen and maybe enhance it. But Nic has a very strong vision for the movie. What I’ve always found is that as a cameraman, or as a cinematographer as we’re called, we want to learn from the director exactly how he wants his movie to look, feel, and smell. Some of them know what they want, but they can’t put those feelings into works, whereas Nic can.”

    cineaste

    To date, Richmond has worked as a cinematographer on more than ninety films from all genres, including “Men of Honor,” “Candyman,” Legally Blonde,” “Dumb and Dumberer,” and recently completed “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” with NYFA alumnus Jeremy Harris working as his personal assistant on the film.

    Having worked on a variety of genres, Richmond says he has now reached a point in his career where he will only work with friends. He’s currently working on a movie a year while serving as the Chair of NYFA LA Cinematography.

    “It’s wonderful watching these new kids coming up,” said Richmond in his interview with Cineaste.“

    Richmond will be heading east to NYFA’s New York location for an exclusive Cinematography Master Class on June 16, 2017.

    May 30, 2017 • Cinematography, Faculty Highlights • Views: 2164

  • NYFA Alumni Team Up on Short Film “Worth It?”

    worth itInspired by films like “The Jungle Book,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Gravity,” and “Inception,” among others, Edgar Vega began his career working as a Lighting/Compositing artist on a feature animated film in Guadalajara, Mexico. From there, he wanted to further his knowledge and skill in the field of cinematography and decided to leave his hometown of Mexico to study at the 1-Year Cinematography Program at the New York Film Academy.

    “After working on that feature film I needed to properly learn the origins of lighting for picture as well as how camera and light reinforces the narrative,” said Vega. “There was always an interest in narrative since I did my Bachelor’s in Animation & Digital Arts back in Guadalajara, but I never had a real approach to lighting until I worked in this film I’ve mentioned. The final look of it relied more on illustration rather than the use of cinematography tools, which is not bad, it was just the vision of the director at the time. I believe that in a film that uses 3D and CGI rendering tools that produce photorealistic images, cinematography would be the right tool for producing and achieving the desired result.”

    Vega wanted to learn and experiment with merging both worlds like “Gravity” and the other films that inspired him. He says his favorite cinematographer is Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, not only because he’s from his country, but also because while filming “Gravity,” Lubezki and the VFX Supervisor Tim Webber developed technology to merge the hybrid CGI and live action into one image. “That was the challenge there,” said Vega. “They had to determine how lights would affect character’s faces, and then match it to composite the live action and animation perfectly.” The film ended up winning the Academy Award in both fields in 2015.

    Since graduating from the Cinematography Program, Vega has had the opportunity to work as a Lighting/Compositing Artist on the Nick Jr. series called “Block Party.”

    “Chris Papa, Scott Kennell, and their team were developing a new pre-school franchise that speaks about teamwork and unity,” Vega said about the series. “I was invited onto ‘Block Party’ to develop a possible final look, which earned an internally good response. As a result, a first episode was made. Thanks to the concepts learned at NYFA, I was able to assertively respond to the necessities of both Chris and Scott.”

    He is now in postproduction on his thesis film, “Marcus,” which merges live action and CGI.

    Vega also was the DP on NYFA Filmmaking alumna Cheyenne Pasquer’s film, “Worth It?,” which screened at the London Monthly Film Festival December 2016, Miami Independent Film Festival December 2016, The Lovecraft January 2017, and the California Women’s Film Festival February 2017, where it was nominated for Best Director.

    “At the beginning we both had a lot of questions about the complexity of the film, since the script was extensive for the amount of days I could afford to shoot,” said Pasquer about her collaboration with Vega. “Most of the shoot was overnight, so I think the adaptation was a crucial skill that me and Edgar developed during the shoot of ‘Worth it?’ We were both in a difficult scenario not only because the film was physically demanding, but also because we successfully worked out with our crew and actors. As a DP he delivered beautiful shots that matched with the requirement of the story, both aesthetically and narrative wise.”

    “Worth It?” will be screening at this year’s Cannes Short Film Corner in May.

    April 28, 2017 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3141

  • 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: 5072

  • 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: 3334

  • 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: 5940