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  • Mariano Di Vaio Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles Production Workshop & Guest Speaker Series

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    It was just another Production Workshop Thursday on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) student crews sprawled across the European set searching for places to shoot, directors framed their shots, actors rehearsed their lines.

    Then he walked onto the backlot: Mariano Di Vaio, Italian fashion star, Forbes magazine top influencer under 30, and NYFA Acting for Film alumnus. Heads turned as he arrived to shoot a production workshop commercial with Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran and Cinematography Instructor Matt Kohnen.

    “It’s a dream come true to be on the backlot,” said Mariano. “I always said to myself maybe one day I could shoot something in Hollywood. And doing this student project, I feel like I’m rewinding back nine years to my student days.”

    In 2009, Mariano enrolled in an Acting for Film course at the New York Film Academy in New York. When he returned to his hometown of Perugia, Italy, he started a blog about men’s fashion that blew up on the web, netting him over 10 million followers on social media and enabling him to start his own clothing and hair product lines.

    Then he was back on a NYFA set collaborating with faculty and staff on a shoot designed to teach students and alumni how to film a commercial. It featured several of his brands: Mariano Di Vaio Limited Edition Hair Products, NOHOW clothing, and MDV Eyewear.

    Written by Nick Sivakumaran, who also directed, the commercial starts with Mariano walking past several NYFA crews shooting a variety of scenes. He notices one crew in particular — they are struggling to shoot a romantic scene between a guy and girl. The director is obviously frustrated at the lack of chemistry between them. Enter Mariano! He gestures to the director, “un moment,” takes aside the actor, and gives him a quick makeover using his hair products and sunglasses. Suddenly, the actor looks great, the actress is in love, and the director is thrilled! Mariano leaves as everyone looks at him in amazement and wonders, “Who was that guy?” 


    The fake crew consisted entirely of NYFA Acting for Film students and alumni. Ezra Ramos (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film), who played the actor and was styled by Mariano for the commercial, reported that “Mariano just opened up his suitcase and said ‘what’s your size’?” Then he rifled through the suitcase to hook Ezra up with MDV Collection suede loafers and a tropical white NoHow shirt festooned with tiny palm trees, pineapples, and bananas.

    Gulshan Salamli (Spring ’17 BFA Acting for Film) played the role of the unimpressed actress, and she said the shoot with Mariano was a very different experience from the usual production workshop. “Mariano is the star, obviously, and it is interesting to work with him, to play a supporting role and observe how much input a star has on set. I realized it’s okay to be in the shadows, that I can express myself yet serve the project at the same time.”

    Fake crew member Mackenzie Leslie (Summer ‘16 One Year Acting for Film) said she learned a lot on set, pointing at a huge flag on a C-stand that was blocking the bright California sun. “This production workshop has way more equipment than I’ve seen before,” she said.  “I’ve never filmed with a dolly. I’ve seen shots that were made that way, but never been in one.”

    Meanwhile, actors Elizabeth Otaola (Summer ‘16 MFA Acting for Film) and Christopher Rybka (Fall ‘15 AFA Acting for Film) discussed Mariano’s career. “He’s not a traditional actor. He’s inspired me to explore other options and ways of having an acting career,” said Elizabeth, who played the director. “Everything is going to evolve. Television and film will change in the next 20 years.  Smart people should be paying attention to that and create their own content and know about marketing.”

    Christopher concurred, saying, “It’s very unique that Mariano has used Instagram as a marketing tool to get out there rather than going to auditions and hoping someone picks him up.”

    The following night, Mariano entertained a full house of students at the NYFA Theater with humorous and informative tales about his career in a Q&A moderated by Film Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley. He emphasized the importance of setting small, achievable goals in pursuit of big dreams, and of approaching every task, learning opportunity, and job with passion — an outlook he attributed to his instructors at NYFA back in 2009.

    When asked what advice he had for students starting an Instagram account for the first time, Mariano replied,“I would start with videos if I had to start from scratch, because right now I think they are the key. The algorithm has changed, so it’s harder for people to just post photos.” More specifically, he “would definitely put up something about comedy because positivity, that’s what people like. Being happy is what people want to get from their phones.”

    Most importantly, Mariano encouraged students to do exactly what they had been doing when he walked onto the Universal backlot — collaborate with as many people as possible to increase social media following. “If all of you guys here start to do something together, even a small project, you already can reach how many? 10,000 people for sure.” Another reason to collaborate: “Sometimes when you talk and do something with other creative people, something better comes up, better than what you can do by yourself.”  

    Speaking of collaboration, the Mariano Di Vaio/NYFA Los Angeles commercial project will drop on social media sometime in May. Be on the lookout!

    Update – Here’s the NYFA/MDV collaboration for Hair Bello!

    And here it is !! The @hair_bello movie is here! Hope you guys love the amazing work we did at the Hollywood Studios in Los Angeles ! Comment if you liked the old hairstyle better or not!❤️😄

    A post shared by Mariano Di Vaio (@marianodivaio) on

    NOTE: in addition to the students quoted above, the shoot also featured Paulina Hilla (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film) and Amber Satcher (Fall ‘16 MFA Acting for Film).  

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  • Filmmaking Students from NYFA Gold Coast Impress Audience

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    The audience at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast Campus Mid Year Screening got a double dose of talent on October 13, viewing projects from both its July 2017 Advanced Filmmakers and July 2017 Diploma Filmmakers.

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    The Advanced Filmmaking students showed off their skill in producing television commercials while the Diploma Filmmaking students showcased a diverse range of non-sync short films.

    “We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight,” remarked Brian Vining, the Deputy Chair of Filmmaking at NYFA Gold Coast. He continued, “We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight. Many of the television commercials have been conceived, shot and produced to a very high standard and several were indistinguishable from industry standard productions.”

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    NYFA Gold Coast prides itself in training our students in several diverse media, in order to better prepare them for careers in the real world workforce. But, of course, storytelling is just as important, and the Diploma Filmmaking students didn’t disappoint with their artful short films.

    Trevor Hawkins, Lecturer in Directing, Editing & Filmmaking for NYFA Gold Coast, had this to say about the July 2017 group: “There are certainly some promising young storytellers and filmmakers evident in our recent screenings of the July Advanced Filmmakers and the July Diploma Filmmakers.”

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    The screening was all the more successful considering it’s just the halfway point in the students’ syllabus. Hawkins added, “It’s always great to be involved in their journey as filmmakers and I certainly look forward to their future productions.”

    Congratulations to our NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking and Advanced Filmmaking students on such a triumphant night!

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

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    October 17, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1248

  • NYFA Grad Finalist for Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” Grand Prize

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    Doritos Angler

    Do not underestimate the power of the craving for Doritos. At least the New York Film Academy isn’t. Of the ten finalists in the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which provides the winner with the opportunity to have his or her commercial air during the Super Bowl and win one million dollars, the New York Film Academy has two representatives!

    In addition to Nick Sivakumaran and Dave Horowitz’s finalist The Lemonade Stand, we’ve come across former New York Film Academy Los Angeles alumnus James Bedford‘s comical commercial Doritos Angler.

    “I’m really delighted to have made it into the finals, considering how strong the competition is,” says Bedford. “And it’s also great to be the first person from the UK to make it into the finals.”

    You can vote for Bedford’s commercial on multiple platforms everyday from now until January 28th! Visit: https://crashthesuperbowl.doritos.com/finalists#/6517 and vote now!

    Bedford is currently working as a freelance director working across tv, brand films and commercials. If James wins the grand prize, he plans to use the money to film a feature film — no fish involved.

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    January 13, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4612

  • NYFA Grad & Instructor’s Doritos Commercial Finalist to Air on Super Bowl

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    Nick Sivakumaran

    Senior Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran

    With the NFL Playoffs in full swing, remaining teams are battling it out on the field for their dream of playing in the biggest sporting event of them all: the Super Bowl. Comparatively, creative directors, ad agencies and filmmakers have been competing all year for the opportunity to have their ad broadcast on what is also the “Super Bowl for commercials.” Such is the case for New York Film Academy Los Angeles Senior Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran, Filmmaking alum Dave Horowitz, as well as writer Richard Jindapornsuk for their entry into the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. Their hilarious spec commercial, The Lemonade Stand, was announced as one of ten finalists to potentially air during the Super Bowl XLIX broadcast—one selected by fan votes and the other by the Doritos brand. Not only that, if the trio receives the most votes, they will win a guaranteed $1 million grand prize!

    “We’re thrilled to be selected as Finalists and cherish the opportunity to have The Lemonade Stand air during the Super Bowl,” said director Sivakumaran. “It would be an incredible honor to have a project I directed viewed by over 110 million people.”

    The team’s 30 second spot already aired on NBC’s The Today Show during Matt Lauer and Carson Daly’s segment that announced the finalists.

    If you want to support Nick and his team you can help by voting daily, on every browser, on every device.

    Join the campaign on social media below and use #VoteLemonadeStand.

    Each of the 10 “Crash the Super Bowl” finalists are invited to Arizona to attend Super Bowl XLIX and watch the game from a private suite, where they will tune in to learn which finalist ads will air for the world to see. The eight finalists whose commercials don’t air during the broadcast will each win $25,000. The runner-up whose ad airs, but does not receive the most fan votes, will win $50,000. The Super Bowl XLIX broadcast will be on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, on NBC in the United States and local broadcast networks around the world.

    Voting ends January 28th, 2015, so vote now and support our fellow NYFA peers!

     

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    January 7, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6003

  • Award-Winning Commercial Filmmaker Transitions to Feature Film

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    BrunoWith years of success in the commercial directing world, including a “best advertising” award at the Garden State Film Festival for the commercial Flanm by Coca-Cola and several awards for the advertising campaign Big Shake that has been a viral success on the Internet, New York Film Academy 8-Week graduate, Bruno Mourral, has decided to venture into the world of feature filmmaking.

    Bruno had been working as a professional prior to enrolling at NYFA, but wanted to truly hone his skills over an 8-week summer program. “It helped me strengthen my knowledge of filmmaking,” said Bruno Mourral. “I mostly made good contacts in the filmmaking industry. They gave me the opportunity to partner up and create Maninhat, a production company based in New York City. We worked internationally with several big brands such as Sony, Sports Illustrated, Nissan and others.”

    Since 2005, Bruno has had the idea for his feature, Kidnapping Inc., which he initially intended to have a rather serious tone. During his time at NYFA, he went ahead and worked on an idea for a short-film revolving around the theme of Kidnapping. Though, his tone shifted to that of a dark comedy.

    Last year, Bruno decided to team up with two screenwriters to help him develop a feature based on that short story. “The experience of working with two people who shared the same ideas and passion was great. This helped me bring the movie to a whole other level. Today, we are very pleased with the Kidnapping Inc. script.”

    Based on actual events, Kidnapping Inc. is a dark comedy, satirizing the Haitian society’s epidemic of kidnapping. The movie is about two deliverymen working for the largest kidnapping corporation in Haiti. While delivering the wealthy senator’s son, the duo foolishly misunderstand each other and one of them ends up killing the boy. Trying to fix this mess, they stumble upon the senator’s son look-alike, which sets them on the craziest kidnapping of their lives.

    Bruno is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign, in which he hopes to raise $150,000. To learn more about his fundraiser, CLICK HERE.

    If he raises the funds to film the feature, his goal is to introduce the film to several festivals and find distribution deals to make this movie accessible to the world. He also wants this movie to be a premiere for the rebirth of the Haitian film industry.

    Watch below for a sneak peek of Kidnapping Inc.

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    November 11, 2014 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4954

  • NYFA Welcomes World War Z Director Marc Forster

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    marc forster

    Marc Forster with Tova Laiter

    Wednesday night, the New York Film Academy hosted a full house at Warner Bros for the screening of World War Z with Director Marc Forster brought to us by Producer Tova Laiter. His work includes smart character-driven films (Monster’s Ball, Stranger Than Fiction) as well as stylish studio blockbusters (Quantum of Solace, World War Z) and he has been nominated for an Oscar several times. His film Finding Neverland is beloved by many and received 7 Oscar nods. He also made The Kite Runner, Machine Gun Preacher and several other films. His actors also do well under his guidance. For example, his third film, Monster’s Ball, earned Halle Berry an Oscar.

    Marc grew up in Davos, a winter resort in Eastern Switzerland. He decided at the age of 14 or 15 that he wanted to become a filmmaker, though his doctor father and family thought he would “come to his senses” and go into academics eventually. Good thing for Marc, he never did come to his senses.

    forsternyfaNYFA student, Krishna, asked Marc what was the most important part of the filmmaking process. He said it all mattered, but that pre-production is very vital. He added that, “there are different challenges for different projects, it depends on who the key people are involved. I make films in a very Swiss manner, very prepared…and pre-production is the most important.”

    Marc never puts the meticulous work involved in directing a film to rest. He admits that he has a vision, which caters to every detail including color, wardrobe, haircuts and lighting. “You are only as good as your last film,” says Forster. Though, he added, “I’m not a guy who just goes out and shoots.”

    He also told the audience to try and have thick skin as, “not everyone is going to love your work, you just have to get used to it.”

    Another student, Pablo, asked Marc about the degree of collaboration he gets into with actors. Marc said, “I love actors and it’s all about collaboration. You have to start at the beginning and really discuss the character.” Actors work differently. He has been lucky and has great relationships with many successful actors. He added that sometimes you simply have to, “do takes until you are both happy.”

    Asked by a filmmaking student what’s the best way to get started in today´s filmmaking world, Marc suggested one of the following:

    • 1. Make a commercial reel
    • 2. Make documentaries
    • 3. Try to make a small feature and get it into Sundance or Cannes

    And for all of them: Know what is personal and important for you. Do something original and interesting.

    Marc noted the importance of maintaining his cool on set. “Once on set, there is nothing you can do except stay focused.” He told a story of getting a bad toothache while shooting on an aircraft carrier, only to be driven to a barn after wrap for a procedure, then to get up at 4 am and resume shooting. Stay focused.

    On staying true to yourself and your vision, Marc said, “I don’t like branding myself…I do what I am passionate about. I try to continually challenge myself and I like making films that are dealing with the human condition.”

    Truly, an inspiring filmmaker.

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    November 8, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 5933

  • Tips From a Commercial Talent Agent

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    CA1A5875-1

    Jennifer Boyce, the head of the Commercial Talent Department at The Savage Agency for 22 years, spoke to more than 60 acting students in the Welles Screening room at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. The Savage Agency has been one of the top agencies for young talent – from ages 3 to 40 – for over 35 years. They represent actors for theatrical, voice over, and commercials.

    Here are some of the facts that she feels are important for new talent to know:

    1. Having an awesome photo is important! If you are not known to the Casting Director, they have no imaginations. Have several pictures with different looks. Once the Casting office gets to know you, they will have an idea of your type.
    2. Be a “CAN DO” client. Jennifer said, “I work for free until you work, so if I worked for a year for you to finally get a job, that’s one day’s work. You will earn $627.00 at scale for a commercial. I will make $62.70. So I don’t make money unless you make it. So I want clients to work. If I make a suggestion you should pay attention to that. You have to show me you are passionate about this.”
    3. An audition is not a pedicure appointment. You have to really want it. If you don’t there are lots of others who do. Every audition is an opportunity! When you are starting out, you should be willing to do everything.
    4. Don’t just rely on your agent. Don’t just sit by the phone and wait, complaining that your agent isn’t doing anything for you. “I make 10%, so I always say I will do 10% of the work, but you have to do 90%. I get you in the door, but after that the rest is up to you.” It’s important to create your own work – be in plays, improv groups, get yourself out there.
    5. If something is not working, don’t blame your agent, look to yourself.
    6. At the end of the day your job is to audition. Some actors hate the casting process. Get used to it. They might pick somebody because they look like their sister or girlfriend, but that is what happens. You can’t control what they are looking for, but you can control what you do in the room. If you’re getting callbacks, you are doing your job. If you don’t get the job, it’s not on you. You can’t get involved in the politics. That’s the only way you can enjoy being in the business.

    CA1A5857The audience had many questions for her, including the following:

    Q: How do you choose new clients?
    A: I usually choose through referral. If it’s not a referral, I go off picture and resume submission. I look for a GREAT picture, lots of training, improv groups, Second City and Groundlings. A lot of commercials are improv and funny, so those skills are especially important to me.

    Q: How many head-shots should I have?
    A: Have one good headshot to get you to see the agent. But don’t spend a lot of money on it, because most likely your agent will want you to get new ones. Every agents has different taste. A theatrical headshot is different – you need one great one. For commercials, you should have several looks that show different types that you can play.

    Q: What do you look for in a headshot?
    A: For commercials, I look for a headshot to be well lit. I want it to “pop” and see what role you’re going to play.

    Q: How easy is it to get Non-SAG actors into auditions?
    A: It’s getting harder to get commercials for non-union actors. A production company has to write an “essay” about why they need to use you for a union production, and if they don’t have a good reason, they will be fined $750. Casting has become more competitive so the Casting Director is not as willing to bring in non-union actors anymore because of this. They are more likely to call in names and their heavy hitters that they know. So new actors have a harder time getting in. Not everyone gets in to every audition – no matter who they are.

    Q: What about sending candy or gifts to an agent in order to get a meeting?
    A: I never open anything from anyone I don’t know. Better to send a postcard. A postcard is a very nice way to introduce yourself, and I can see it without opening anything.

    NYFA thanks Jennifer for taking the time out to provide invaluable advice for our acting students. Her final words of advice could not be more helpful, “Be grateful and thankful for every opportunity you get.”

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    July 25, 2013 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 37097