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  • NYFA Welcomes Award-Winning Italian Filmmaker Nanni Moretti

    Considered one of the most original Italian filmmakers over the past several decades, it’s hard to think of a more accomplished international guest speaker than Italian director, Nanni Moretti. In 1976, Moretti released his first feature film, Io sono un autarchico, and never looked back. From that point on, Moretti became a professional filmmaker, eventually gaining international acclaim with his film, Sogni d’oro, which won the Silver Lion at the 38th Venice International Film Festival. Moretti was also awarded for La messa è finita, which won the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival and La stanza del figlio, which won the Palme d’Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.

    moretti panel

    In an event moderated by NYFA President Michael Young, students from the New York Film Academy in New York were treated to a screening of his 1993 film Caro diario—which awarded Moretti with Best Director at Cannes—followed by a Q&A with Moretti. Like so many of his films and similar to Woody Allen, Moretti writes, produces, directs and stars in the semi-autobiographical film. Presented in three chapters, Moretti uses the experiences of traveling on his motor scooter, cruising with his friend around a set of remote islands in search of peace to finish his new film and consulting doctor after doctor to cure his annoying rash to cast a humorous look at his life and those around him.

    While bouncing around from doctor to doctor, Moretti eventually discovers he has a lymphatic system tumor on his lung. Based on his actual battle with the illness, Moretti told a full house of students that he only wanted to tell of his struggle if it was delivered in the appropriate tone—dry and ironic.

    nanni moretti

    Most of Moretti’s films are very personal and yet universally relatable. Admitting there’s no calculated plan to succeed in that regard, Moretti says he writes and creates films about his life, his experiences and his neuroses, each a terrific starting-point for a screenwriter staring at a blank page.

    As a kid who began making short films on Super 8, Moretti recommends the current generation of up and coming filmmakers band together with a crew and shoot on video. And while it may be enjoyable at moments to work alone, Moretti says, “In the long run, working alone can be very tiresome and boring.”

    Be sure to check out his most recent award-winning film, Mia Madre, which stars Moretti, Margherita Buy and John Turturro.

    April 5, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 2306

  • Celebrity Photographer Indrani Speaks at NYFA’s Photography School

    This Wednesday, September 30th, Paul Sunday’s Photography class welcomed celebrity photographer and film director, Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri. Indrani’s vast experience and unique sensibility makes her one of the most sought after professional visual artists in the world. Where do we begin…

    Originally from Calcutta, India, Indrani’s photography career began while working with Markus Klinko in New York City. Indrani’s work was soon discovered by David Bowie, who commissioned her for his album cover. As one can imagine, Indrani was ecstatic to work with him, even mentioning she thought it was a prank at first.

    indrani

    Indrani lecturing at New York Film Academy

    From there, Indrani’s celebrity clients grew to the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Eva Mendes, Katie Holmes, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Keanu Reeves, Jay-Z, Usher, Kanye West, Val Kilmer, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Will Smith, Jaden and Willow Smith. She has collaborated with KAWS and Richard Phillips, among others.

    Her advertising clients have included Barney’s New York, LVMH, Lancome, Elizabeth Arden, L’Oreal Paris, Shiseido, Pantene, Head & Shoulders Herbal Essences, Remy Martin, Sky Blue, Lolita Lempika, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Wolford, Girard Perregaux, Anna Sui, MAC, Baume et Mercier, De Beers, Epson, Mattel Broncolor, Hello Kitty, Jaguar, Nike, Pepsi and others.

    Her work has been featured in the top tier publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, GQ, The New York Times, The London Sunday Times, In Style and Time.

    From strategies for collaborating with celebrities, to practical guidance on balancing technique and creativity, she broke it all down and delivered a memorable masterclass for us. According to Indrani, a lot of her success has come from being a great diplomat as well as being original and pushing the boundaries.

    Often times, a photographer only has four to five solid minutes to work with a celebrity client, which can be a challenge within itself. “So much of photography is the talent you work with,” says Indrani. “Some actors are uncomfortable being themselves, and so sometimes you need to give them a role to play.”

    Unlike some of other photography guests, Indrani shoots digitally only. Though, while she feels the tools are much easier to work with, she insists photographers continually challenge themselves.

    sunday and indrani

    Indrani with NYFA Photography Co-Chair, Paul Sunday

    “Indrani moves through the world with diplomacy and grace and it is no surprise that celebrities the world over have trusted her with their images,” said New York Film Academy Photography Co-Chair, Paul Sunday. “She is a fine role model for emerging artists, balancing the glamour and gloss of her professional life with philanthropy as a persistent advocate for young women, education and environmental sustainability.”

    Moving forward in her career, Indrani has taken to her original passion of filmmaking. Indrani’s film and stills for Digital Death won two Gold Lions at Cannes Festival of Creativity for TBWA/Keep A Child Alive and raised millions to fight AIDS in India and Africa. She has also directed music videos for David Bowie and Alicia Keys.

    indrani lecture

    “It has been a joy to watch Indrani’s continued success as an image-maker, and a great honor to introduce her to our students,” added Sunday. “I was deeply touched by her advice to them regarding thinking and dreaming big. She firmly believes in the power of aspiration to greatly increase our chances of success and surprising ourselves. She counseled photographers to challenge themselves. She also encouraged all of us to hone our technical skills and keep pace with the changes in this ever expanding world of photographic possibilities.”

    We wish Indrani the best of luck moving forward in her already incredible career, and sincerely thank her for enlightening our young visual artists.

    October 1, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 3240

  • Documentarian Harrison Engle Speaks at NYFA Los Angeles

    harrison engle

    With more than 80 films to his credit, Director/Producer Harrison Engle came to New York Film Academy to share his vast experience with our Los Angeles campus students. Harrison has directed documentaries for nearly every broadcast and cable network. Among his many films are Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs (A&E), The Lost Kennedy Home Movies (History Channel), They Came to Play (PBS) and Obsessed with Vertigo (AMC). He has created tributes for seven Academy Awards telecasts and is a past president of the International Documentary Association.

    Harrison screened his Emmy nominated film, “The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt,” which he directed for ABC. Recently the documentary has been re-released as a boxed set with Roosevelt memorabilia.

    Harrison reminisced about studying film before there were film schools, and hiring the young Philip Glass to score his first short film. Engle’s main message to the students was “perseverance” – “Do what you love because you love it and never give up on your dreams.”

    March 27, 2015 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 3235

  • Oscar Nominated Writer/Director Dan Gilroy Thrills NYFA Students with ‘Nightcrawler’

    nightcrawler screening nyfa

    Mike Civille, Tova Laiter and Dan Gilroy

    On Thursday, February 12, New York Film Academy Los Angeles students gathered at Warner Bros. studios for a screening of Nightcrawler (2014), starring Jake Gyllenhaal, followed by a Q&A with the film’s Oscar-nominated writer/director Dan Gilroy. Nightcrawler is a chilling, brilliant portrait of a driven young man, desperate for work, who muscles into the world of L.A. crime photo journalism, only to become the star of his own story. Mr. Gilroy is an experienced Hollywood screenwriter – his credits include Two for the Money (Al Pacino & Matthew McConaughey), Real Steel (Hugh Jackman), and The Bourne Legacy (Jeremy Renner) – and Nightcrawler is his directorial debut. He also wrote the film, and his efforts were rewarded with an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The Q&A was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA Dean Mike Civille.

    Nightcrawler is the type of film that makes a lasting impression and forces you to think. Hollywood movies almost always feature a redeeming hero with a character arc, and these rules are rarely questioned. However, Mr. Gilroy admits to purposefully making a film with no character arc at all, since this Hollywood standard doesn’t translate to real life. Instead, Louis Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, doesn’t change throughout the course of the film and he doesn’t learn a single thing that makes him a “better person.” To that end, he says that he intentionally did not create a backstory for Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, to avoid falling into the trap of creating another conventional Hollywood character. The result is a complicated, attractive, yet morally ambiguous protagonist, and an emotionally stirring film that incites much debate on narrative convention and morality in the movies.

    dan gilroy

    Write/director Dan Gilroy

    Because he made the film outside of the studio system, Mr. Gilroy also says that he had the opportunity to take an unorthodox approach to the screenplay format as well. He says that his script includes no scene headings, no INT. or EXT. indications for locations, no parentheticals, and minimal to no character description. He also played with font size and ellipses, developing a screenplay that reflected his stream of consciousness rather than a traditionally structured script. He recommend that the students read the script as an example of how different a screenplay can be, and described these alternative creative techniques in one word: FREEING.

    Mr. Gilroy acknowledged that he wanted to make a film that commented on today’s world, which is focused on “hyper-capitalism” and the predator/prey nature of success. While Louis Bloom has sociopathic tendencies, Mr. Gilroy suggested that Louis’s behavior is a product of modern society, in which competition brings out the “amoral animal” in people. He suggests that he and Jake Gyllenhaal saw Louis Bloom as a starved coyote that comes out of the mountains at night to feed. When Gyllenhaal lost 25 pounds for the role, it thus lent his character a hunger that required his survival instincts to kick in. While this was the central subtext of the film, the commentary is never overdone. Mr. Gilroy encouraged the students to make movies that say something, but cautioned them to avoid making a “message movie.”

    Nightcrawler was no easy task for a first time director. The movie was made for a small budget ($8.5 million) and was shot in twenty-eight days with mostly night shoots. Taking this into consideration when experiencing the elevated artistry of the film, it’s truly astounding. There was no room for error when shooting Nightcrawler, yet it seems like a perfect film. How a director with no previous on-set experience pulled that off is mind blowing. Dan Gilroy attributes his success when the odds were against him to his easy-going attitude, and a positive assumption that creativity would allow the best of even the most stressful moments to emerge. He rolled with the punches, collaborated with his team, pushed through, and took ego out of the equation. This is great advice to any director starting out.

    Mr. Gilroy insisted on staying until the long line of students had asked every last question. We sincerely thank Mr. Gilroy for taking his time to visit NYFA and offer an incredibly in depth and entertaining Q&A. We highly anticipate his next great work.

  • Ryan Gosling Debuts as a Director

    Ryan Gosling

    As is the case with so many successful actors with years of experience on major film sets, Ryan Gosling has decided to go behind the camera with his directorial debut Lost River. While the film was not very well received at the Cannes Film Festival, its trailer provides for a glimpse of Gosling’s promise as a filmmaker.

    The film stars Mad Men‘s voluptuous secretary, Christina Hendricks, as well as Eva Mendes and Australian native Ben Mendelsohn. And perhaps as a throwback, the one-time horror queen Barbara Steele, from films like Black Sunday, Piranha and Fellini’s 8 1/2, plays the role of Belladonna.

    Lost River is about a single mother who becomes swept into a dark underworld while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town. What is clear from the trailer are the elements of fantasy and macabre created in Gosling’s underworld city.

    Didn’t realize Gosling could have such a mysterious imagination hidden underneath the pretty facade? Have a look for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments below.

    February 4, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2256

  • Director Rupert Wyatt Screens ‘The Gambler’ at NYFA LA

    Rupert Wyatt

    On Wednesday January 14th, New York Film Academy Los Angeles students came to Warner Bros. studios for a screening of The Gambler, in theaters now, and participated in a Q&A with director Rupert Wyatt. The discussion was moderated by producer Tova Laiter.

    Rupert Wyatt began his career developing features for Miramax and working in British television. After creating several short films, Rupert Wyatt made his feature writing and directing debut with The Escapist, a prison escape drama starring the remarkable Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes and Homeland’s Damian Lewis. The Village Voice – always one of the toughest critics to please – called it “a taut thriller that ends on a note of unexpected grace.” If that wasn’t enough for a debut, Mr. Wyatt even managed to get Coldplay to pen the movie’s title track. His next feature film – Rise of the Planet Apes – showed that a franchise can reach its creative peak in its seventh installment. Featuring the best motion capture performance to date by Andy Serkis, Rise showed that a blockbuster effects-driven movie can challenge and move its audience while creating empathy for the most unlikely of characters. Caesar might be a CG Chimpanzee, but he’s completely three dimensional and human. In Rise, Mr. Wyatt re-launched a 45-year-old franchise and brought CG character animation to a new creative high. Mr. Wyatt next directed the stirring pilot of the Civil War Drama TURN before turning his eye towards the battlegrounds of LA’s underground gambling scene in The Gambler. Working with a script from Academy Award winning writer William Monahan, Mr. Wyatt brings the same nuance and visual control to this character driven drama that he’s demonstrated in all his work.
    the gambler screening
    Rupert is the perfect example of how perseverance and hard work can pay off in Hollywood. He had the dream of being a director all of his life but it wasn’t until he reached the age of thirty-five that he got received his first opportunity to direct a feature film he had been toiling to make for many years. That film – The Escapist – was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and his life was changed forever. This is why Mr. Wyatt encouraged students to stick with the project you are passionate about even when it seems impossible. The biggest mistake can be continuously changing course with projects that are shiny and new but getting nowhere in the process. Whatever film you end up making will most likely take years to get made anyway, so you might as well stick with it.

    Mr. Wyatt’s greatest advice to actors was to be flexible. Sometimes actors will expect the director to say exactly the right thing and shut down if he or she falls short of this. However, this type of attitude is the enemy of creativity. It could be that the crazy bit of direction you give an actor to mix things up in take four falls flat, however, it could also be what unexpectedly brings the scene to life. So take chances, play, and let go of your ego.

    When asked if there is particular genre Mr. Wyatt prefers he said that it was really story that is important to him. In this way he manages create something fresh by subverting genre altogether. While producers may feel they need to sell a movie as one that falls neatly in a specific category, once the audience is in the theater Rupert gives them something they’ve never experienced before. He’s not afraid to try new things which is what makes him such an exciting force in Hollywood.

    rupert wyatt gambler

    We sincerely thank Rupert Wyatt for his enthusiasm in answering students’ questions and wish him the best of luck with his next directorial endeavor.

    Written by Eric Conner and Robert Cosnahan

    January 16, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2974

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

    Low Down

    Director Jeff Preiss with NYFA’s Ben Cohen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    November 20, 2014 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 5909

  • New Indie Comedy “Teacher of the Year” Comes to NYFA

    Teacher of the Year
    This week New York Film Academy Los Angeles gathered to watch the new indie comedy Teacher of the Year and participated in a Q&A with the movie’s writer/director Jason Strouse and lead actor Matt Letscher. The event was moderated by Tova Laiter, who has producing credits on such films as Varsity Blues, The Scarlett Letter, and Cop and 1/2.

    In a mockumentary fashion, Teacher of the Year depicts the honest efforts of a well-meaning teacher, surrounded by an eccentric faculty at Truman High School, as he grapples with whether he should accept a lucrative California Teacher of the Year award, which would mean leaving his job and abandoning the students he cares so much about. The movie was funny and played very well to the students who concluded its the kind of Indie movie they would like to make.

    Teacher of Year Director

    Jason Strouse (left) and Matt Letscher (right)

    Jason Strouse began his writing career on NBC’s Caroline in the City and appeared regularly as a stand up comic before ditching it to become a teacher in L.A. He directed The Audience that premiered at the Palm Springs Short Film Festival. Teacher of the Year is his first feature film. Matt Letscher was most recently seen as “Charles” in the Academy Award nominated Her. His extensive film/TV credits include Scandal, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Criminal Minds, and Entourage. He currently recurs on the final season of Boardwalk Empire as Joe Kennedy and on Castle.

    Writer/director Jason spoke about his roots in TV comedy show writers rooms and doing stand up comedy. The dynamics of both are very similar. He said that TV comedy writers are the funniest and smartest people you will meet, and keeping up with their witty banter in the room is quite a challenge. The writers room is where the magic happens. If your goal is write for TV, you should try to get in the room at all costs. Jason started out as a writer’s assistant, his talents were soon apparent to the writing team and he replaced a staff writer who couldn’t cut it. Later after having worked in the industry, Jason transitioned into teaching high school and works as a principle as he continues to write, produce, and direct. His teaching experience is what inspired Teacher of the Year. He used the mockumentary style to utilize his resources and tight shooting schedule to the greatest effect. The result is an outrageously funny and touching film coming from a truthful place.

    Actor Matt Letscher spoke in depth about the actors process. He discussed the differences between theater and film acting—which he describes as an “acting out” (theater) as opposed to “letting the camera in” on what’s going on inside the actor (in film). However, regardless of the acting style, the process of breaking down a script and understanding the reasoning and motivation behind every action is always the same. He believes acting is just like carpentry or any other craft, and your skills improve only by “doing the work.” Matt carried a massive notebook around with him on the set of Teacher of the Year, filled with his own notes about his character and the story, and would delve into it every moment he got in between shots and takes. When he worked early in his career with Anthony Hopkins, he saw a similar scenario with Hopkins making notes on every paragraph of his script.

    Jason and Matt stayed after their Q&A to mingle and take pictures with students. We sincerely thank Jason Strouse and Matt Letscher for visiting NYFA, and wish them the very best in their future filmmaking ventures!

     

    October 17, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 4310

  • 3 Principles for a Successful TV Commercial

    Kyuhwan Kim commercial

    Last week, the New York Film Academy and The Korea Society teamed up for a special event at NYFA’s Union Square location. Prominent Korean television commercial director, Kyuhwan Kim spoke to a full house of students about his long-standing and successful career in the industry. Kim has directed over 1,000 TV commercials with major clients all around the world including McDonald’s, Pepsi, Google, North Face, Dunkin Donuts, as well as Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and Sony in Korea. Kim has been honored with numerous awards, amongst them are Finalist, Clio Cannes Commercial Film Festival (1995), Finalist, IBA Award (1996), Grand Prix, The Best Ad (Monthly Ad, 1995), Director of the Year (Monthly Ad, 1995), Grand Prix, Ad of the Year (Daehung, 1995), and several others.

    Kim started the evening explaining how it was a goal of his to give a lecture to students in New York City. While he would’ve liked to have given the lecture in English, he isn’t quite fluent in the language. Nevertheless, through an interpreter, Kim was able to breakdown the competitive and sometimes frustrating world of advertising into an informative and entertaining lecture. As a director with such an enormous resume under his belt, Kim’s advice couldn’t be have been more helpful.

    Over the years, Kim discovered, “Any ad will contain three principles: Seduce, Surprise, and Resolve.”

    Kim broke down a few examples of his own work, as well as some of the most recognized commercials over the past decade including the infamous Bud Light commercial Whassup!. The majority of successful commercials contained these three vital principles.

    While Kim loves and appreciates the art form that is involved with creating these “short films,” he realizes the bottom line is sales. Clients invest tremendous amounts of money into the production and television placement of the ad. If the product or brand doesn’t increase sales as a result of the ad, the commercial is essentially a failure. As such, while the creative awards are inspiring, they’re not the end all goal for Kim.

    September 15, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3767

  • Director William Dickerson’s ‘Don’t Look Back’ to Air This September

    Don't Look Back

    As is the case with many of New York Film Academy‘s talented roster of instructors, Directing School Instructor William Dickerson has been directing a feature film in addition to his teaching. The film, Don’t Look Back, revolves around Nora Clark, a children’s book writer whose life is at a crossroads. After moving back into the house she inherited from her grandmother, Nora comes to grips with the traumatic memories from her childhood and takes in an inquisitive, seductive new roommate, Peyton, who is not entirely whom she appears to be.

    Don’t Look Back is being released domestically on iTunes (and other VOD platforms) on September 1st, and then will premiere on television on Lifetime Movie Network on September 28th.

    It stars Lucy Griffiths (True Blood), Cassidy Freeman (Longmire), Tyler Jacob Moore (Once Upon a Time), Roddy Piper (They Live) and Kate Burton (Emmy Nominated for her role on Scandal).  

    Be sure to check the film out on demand or when it airs on Lifetime Movie Network. In the meantime, check out the trailer below!

     

    September 2, 2014 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 14372