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  • “Affluenza” Screening with Director Kevin Asch and Screenwriter Antonio Macia at Warner Bros.

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    affluenza

    This week, New York Film Academy Los Angeles students had the opportunity to see a sneak peek screening of the highly anticipated indie film Affluenza at Warner Bros. Studios followed by a Q&A, moderated by Tova Laiter, with the director Kevin Asch and screenwriter Antonio Macia.

    The film follows aspiring photographer Fisher Miller (Ben Rosenfield) who in the summer of 2008 escapes for the moneyed mansions of Great Neck, while applying to college in Manhattan. Finding himself on the outside looking in at his beautiful cousin Kate’s (Nicola Peltz) circle of indulged friends, he ingratiates himself with high-quality weed and a vintage camera to document their hard-partying exploits until the financial hit, and the glamorous veneer implodes.

    Kevin Asch (Director and Producer) develops and produces projects through his Lookbook Films production company, including Asch’s feature directorial debut, Holy Rollers. The film premiered in the dramatic competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, was released in North America to critical acclaim and played in theaters worldwide throughout 2011. For this debut, Asch won Breakthrough Director at the 2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards and Most Promising New Director at the 2010 Deauville American Film Festival. Antonio Macia (Writer and Co-Producer) has more than 10 years of experience as an independent filmmaker. In 2003, he wrote and co-starred in his first feature, Anne B. Real. This coming-of-age drama won several prizes and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.

    Kevin Asch and Antonio Macia embody the spirit of true indie filmmakers. The two films they’ve collaborated on to date, Affluenza and Holy Rollers, were passion projects of theirs from the films’ first conception. They make movies for one simple reason and one alone—they LOVE it. This is an obvious fact when you hear them speak. They have a “no matter what” attitude when it comes to seeing their films brought to life and their enthusiasm for filmmaking is downright contagious.

    Kevin and Antonio offered some true words of wisdom for aspiring filmmakers. For instance, although Kevin and Antonio consider themselves equal partners, when on set Kevin is captain of the ship because he is the director. They stressed the importance of maintaining one voice of authority in front of the cast and crew. So if Antonio has a suggestion for Kevin while shooting, he will quietly pull him aside and offer the idea. They advise actors to research the filmmakers they audition for. Nothing is more of a turnoff for a director than if the actor who’s reading for them doesn’t have a clue as to who they are or what they’ve done. A little investigation in this respect can go a long way. Kevin and Antonio also recommended to students to not allow fundraising for movies to intimidate them. They raised over a million dollars for Affluenza. Instead of asking themselves whether they could raise one million dollars, which seems like an impossibility, they viewed it as raising $50,000 twenty times. After exhausting their resources and contacts (and their contacts’ contacts) they realized it wasn’t as impossible as it seemed…

    Kevin Asch and Antonio Macia are already on to their next project—a movie entitled King’s Highway for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions, which Antonio is writing and Kevin is slated to direct. Set in the 1980s, this gritty crime drama centers on a former Mossad agent living in New York. We wish them continued success with this film and future ones that their passion is sure to bring them.

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    July 8, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 6248

  • Director Doug Liman Speaks to NYFA Producing Students

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    Doug Liman

    Noted director Doug Liman, whose film Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, is currently playing on over 3,400 screens across the U.S., recently appeared at the New York Film Academy as part of the Producing School’s Industry Speaker series.

    Participating in a lengthy question and answer session with Producing Department Co-Chair Neal Weisman, Doug spoke about various aspects of his career. The discussion largely focused on his process making such seminal independent films as Swingers and Go. He also gave great insight into the development and production of The Bourne Identity, which spawned the ongoing film franchise. Doug’s perspective on his career, and the current state of the film/tv industry, was truly inspiring for the gathering of NYFA producers, filmmakers, and screenwriters.

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    June 16, 2014 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 5051

  • Legendary Director Peter Medak Speaks at NYFA LA

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    Peter Medak

    Peter Medak and Tova Laiter

    Last week, acclaimed director, Peter Medak visited New York Film Academy Los Angeles after a screening of his 1980 horror film The Changeling at Warner Bros. Studios theater for an in-depth Q&A with Tova Laiter and students. As a first assistant director, Peter worked with legendary British film directors Sir Carol Reed, David Lean, Fred Zinneman, and Alfred Hitchcock. As director, Peter Medak’s 1972 film, The Ruling Class, starring Peter O’Toole, was nominated for an Oscar. His other works include The Krays, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg with Alan Bates, The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Mandy Patinkin and Salma Hayek, and Romeo is Bleeding with Gary Oldman, to name a few. In television he has directed episodes of iconic series such as Breaking Bad, House, The Wire, and Hannibal.

    peter medakPeter had a rocky upbringing growing up Jewish during the Nazi invasion of Hungary and the events that followed. He spent much of his childhood years inside his family’s apartment, unable to attend school because the threat World War II and the subsequent occupation of Soviet Forces posed. He would often look through the keyhole in the apartment’s door, struggling to see what little he could of the outside world. The few films Peter was exposed to were magical to him and ignited his imagination. His aunt was a world-famous traveling opera singer who visited Peter often and gave him a camera and some film as a present. Peter was hooked on filmmaking from that moment on. Later Peter and his family fled to England as refugees. His aunt was able to help him get is first filmmaking job as a trainee in an editing room. He eventually moved up the ranks to work as an assistant director. However, Peter always had ambitions to direct. His big break ironically came when he made one of the biggest mistakes of his career. Peter had failed to call an important actor to set one day. The producer was furious and made Peter admit his mistake to the director himself. Instead of firing Peter though, the director simply coached him on how he could do better next time. The director inquired about his accent and Peter informed him that he was a Hungarian refugee. Admiring his perseverance in the face of adversity the director promoted Peter the very next day to second unit director and his directing career began.

    Peter’s 1980 film The Changeling is regarded as a masterpiece in the haunted house/thriller genre. The director admitted the script gave him chills the first time he read it. He couldn’t put the screenplay down and the material actually frightened him. Peter said that a script that can affect you so profoundly is gold and you should pursue is relentlessly. Throughout his life, Peter has always had an intimate connection to the paranormal. He believes in ghosts and confesses to having seen them. Peter’s experience with the supernatural has informed his filmmaking within the subject. It’s not the ghost that you see up close, right in front of the camera that’s frightening, because it never happens that way. It’s always a glimpse of something that you catch in the corner of your eye that makes the hair on your arms stand up. To that effect, Peter suggested that to show a ghost on film you could fog up a room and wait until only ten percent of the smoke remains. It’s not the effect that’s in your face but the subtle hint of something there that’s scary.

    Peter Medak went on to entertain students with stories from his legendary career and share invaluable advice he’s gained along the way. It was a privilege for all attending to be in the presence of and learn from such a master of his craft. We look forward to seeing what this brilliant mind produces next.

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    May 5, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 8354

  • NYFA Alum Rohit Gupta in the Running for the Prestigious NRI of the Year Award

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    rohit gupta nyfaNew York Film Academy alumnus and New York-based film director, Rohit Gupta, is one of five global Indians short-listed for the prestigious NRI (Non-Resident Indian) of the Year award for Distinctive Global Achievement in Arts and Entertainment, according to a leading Indian media organization.

    To recognize globally successful Indians and to celebrate their achievements, Times Now – an English news channel from the Times Group – announced a new international initiative to honor successful NRIs around the world.

    Rohit’s films Life! Camera Action... and Another Day Another Life have jointly won over one hundred international accolades in various categories around the globe. His journey and process of work are considered a major source of inspiration among aspiring filmmakers, media, film students and youth at large the world over.

    The first edition of the Times Now ICICI Bank NRI of the Year Awards powered by Global Indian International School will be held in Mumbai later this month.

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  • Indie Grits Film Festival

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    grits film festival

    The Indie Grits Film Festival — the Southeast’s premiere film and culture festival for DIY media-makers — is seeking film submissions for its eighth annual event in Columbia, SC, from April 11 – 20, 2014, in five categories: feature, short, experimental, animated and student films.

    Indie Grits invites all levels of filmmakers and films with ties to Southeastern culture. With an independent mentality and far-reaching artistic scope, the juried festival is especially receptive to first-time media makers and prides itself in providing exhibition opportunities for work often overlooked elsewhere. Movie Maker magazine has named Indie Grits one of the world’s 20 coolest film festivals, and last year, Indie Grits drew more than 8,000 attendees.

    Hosted by the Nickelodeon Theatre, South Carolina’s longest running art-house cinema, on Main Street in South Carolina’s capital city, the Indie Grits Film Festival features ten days of the best DIY film, music, food and outside-the-box artistic performances from SC and the Southeast.

    “Our staff and an army of film-loving volunteers from the Columbia area make this festival happen,” said new festival Co-Director Seth Gadsden. “Indie Grits is moving toward the cutting edge of contemporary visual culture, whether that’s through filmmaking, art, or design. We welcome media-makers who exude a visual swagger that says, ‘We take risks, and we’re bold.’”

    Accepted entries will be eligible for $4,000 in juried cash prizes including the Helen Hill Memorial Award for female filmmakers and Top Grit for best festival entry. Indie Grits staff strive to give filmmakers the best experience possible, offering filmmaker-only events and help with accommodations and transportation.

    “Indie Grits does everything it can to make filmmakers feel important,” said Micah Troublefield, winner of 2013’s Local Grit award. “You’re welcomed with open arms by people who really love what they do, and I’m surprised how many talented filmmakers I still keep in touch with after meeting at last year’s festival. I also wish I could go to an Indie Grits closing party every weekend. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”

    For more information, and for submission guidelines, visit www.indiegrits.com, visit the festival’s submission site on Withoutabox.com or contact Seth Gadsden, festival co-director at Seth@IndieGrits.com. Follow @IndieGrits on Twitter and Facebook

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    November 11, 2013 • Film Festivals • Views: 3952

  • Understanding the World through Film: Tiburon International Film Festival

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    Tiburon FFTiburon International Film Festival is a platform for independent filmmakers from around the world, which certainly fits the mold of New York Film Academy’s student body. For students and alumni interested, the 13th Annual Tiburon International Film Festival (TIFF) will be held April 2014 in Tiburon, California and will showcase independent features and short films from around the world.

    Submissions are open to all genres: Fiction, documentary, short, animation, experimental, student, children, sports, music video…..from any nation in the world.

    TIFF has screened over 2000 independent films from more than 100 countries since its inception.

    The festival has also honored and hosted many great filmmakers such as: Oscar winning director and cinematographer Haskell Wexler [Medium Cool], George Lucas [Star Wars], Blake Edwards [Pink Panthers], Santiago Alvarez [Hanoi Martes 13], John Frankenheimer [Manchurian Candidate],George Stevens [Shane], Malcolm McDowell [A Clockwork Orange], Saul Zaentz [One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest],  Mark Rydell [On Golden Pond], Irving Saraf [The Sermons of Sister Jane], Robert Snyder [Pablo Casals: A Cry for Peace], Paul Mazursky [Down & Out in Beverly Hills], Bob Rafelson [Five Easy Pieces], Brad Bird [Toy Story], Luchino Visconti [Death in Venice], Hal Hickel [Pirates of the Caribbean] among many others.

    Golden Reel Awards:

    The films submitted to the Tiburon International Film Festival are eligible to win the “Golden Reel Award” in several categories: Best Fiction, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Short, Best Animation, Best Children’s Film, Best Student Film, Best Music Video, Best Sport Film. The winners of all categories will be announced during a ceremony at the end of the Festival.

    Entry Information:
    Entry form and eligibility guidelines are available by clicking here and filling out the necessary information.

    The Early Bird Deadline on December 1, 2013 is fast approaching while the final deadline falls on January 15, 2014.

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    October 28, 2013 • Film Festivals • Views: 4667

  • ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ Screening with Taylor Hackford

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    Taylor Hackford

    Taylor Hackford at NYFA LA

    Last Wednesday, at the Warner Bros theater in LA, New York Film Academy students were treated to a screening of the classic Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves film, The Devil’s Advocate. Following the screening, director Taylor Hackford dropped by to talk about the film and his career on a whole. Taylor, who directed such films as An Officer and a Gentleman and Dolores Claiborne, says he developed an interest in film during his time in the peace corps in Bolivia. He saw many films there and shot his own on super 8 film. After coming back from the peace corps, he went to law school for two weeks, but then quit because he decided he really wanted to work in the film industry.

    His first job was in the mailroom at the Los Angeles TV station KCET. He began writing copy, editing, shooting and reporting for their news program. Working as a journalist really helped Taylor develop as a director–learning how to tell people’s stories and make them feel comfortable enough to open up. He also learned how to “deliver on a deadline” with the high turnover rate in news. He eventually started making documentaries for the news station and became passionate about the stories he was telling.

    taylorTaylor also has a love for music and it’s no surprise that his films are known for their great soundtracks. In An Officer and a Gentleman, Taylor knew that music was important to the working class people the movie was about. Taylor went to great lengths to find the right music and especially in convincing the producers to spend the money on the soundtrack. His persistence didn’t stop there. In order to convince the studio to shoot the opening of An Officer and a Gentleman in the Philippines (which sets up Richard Gere’s backstory), he agreed that any expenditures that went over budget for the additional shooting would be taken out of his own salary. Paramount never realized what an amazing movie they had, until it sold so well and became such a success. “Nothing is ever predictable,” Taylor told the students. “All you can do is keep your vision. That is all you have.”

    While shooting The Idol Maker, Taylor was not as experienced as a director. He came onto set with a very detailed plan as to how he wanted to shoot everything. However, his cinematographer and 1st AD had different opinions, and since they were much more experienced than him, Taylor ended up using their ideas. When he saw the dailies two days later, Taylor realized he had made a big mistake–the drama wasn’t there and the shots didn’t mean anything. After that, Taylor remained firm in following his own vision. There was a reason he was hired to direct the movie. “You have to make decisions. If you must, ‘get on with it’ and you can’t ‘take your time.’ Time is money with filmmaking. Preparation is key–you can work through most of your potential mistakes if you think it out ahead of time.”

    Taylor now directs a scene without providing blocking instructions to his actors and tells them to “do the scene.” The actors typically find a few great moments that Taylor will incorporate into the scene. This way the actor feels like he is using their ideas and he’s able to include some spontaneous moments that he hadn’t thought of. Directors have to learn how to work with an actor until they can catch them in an authentic moment. Taylor used the example of working with Keanu Reeves who is not, at first, as spontaneous as Al Pacino. He would have to do eight takes with Keanu before he would break out of his preconceived notions of how to perform. This is a tactic that he had to employ as a director, which worked for this particular scenario.

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    September 23, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 8625

  • NYFA Grad Becomes First Female Native to Direct in Amazon

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    Film still_1

    Women have made leaps and bounds as filmmakers in recent years. In 2010, Katheryn Bigelow became the first female to win Best Director at the Academy Awards for her acclaimed film, Hurt Locker. Recently, New York Film Academy graduate, Darcyana Moreno Izel became the first female born in the Amazon to direct a film in the Amazon. Izel was born in Manaus, the capital of the Amazon state of Brazil. Her monumental achievement gained recognition and financial support from the Brazilian government. The film, Dark Amazon, will be premiering at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival on Tuesday, September 10th at 9:00pm.

    Shot in the some of the deepest parts of the Amazon, the story surrounds a research team searching for natural cures for cancer, who wind up encountering the legendary Anhangá. The supernatural creature, Anhangá is the name locals gave the spirits that roamed the earth after death, tormenting the living. The creature could take any form, but the most well known was of a deer with eyes of fire and a cross on its forehead. Darcyana gathers actual first hand documentary style interviews with some of the locals who claim to have seen the creature, giving the film a real authentic feel. She and her crew even had unexplained phenomena occur during the shoot. “The whistle that you will hear in the movie is not a sound effect but an actual whistle that we all kept hearing during the shoot, which is part of the legend of Anhangá,” says Darcyana. “The legend says that when the creature is around, you can hear this eerie whistle.”

    Darcyana hopes her filmmaker career will allow her the opportunity to show another side of Brazil to the world. In general, the Brazilian people have tremendous hope. “I’ve seen families in complete poverty that were so grateful for being together while having so little, because they always believe tomorrow things will be better.” It is that same hope that has given Darcyana the ability to see out her life-long dream of becoming a director – despite all odds.

    If you live in Brazil and share the same passion as Darcyana, The New York Film Academy wants to see you in Brazil from September 16th – October 1st! NYFA will be conducting auditions, open houses, and workshops. Please contact Jonathan Juarbe at jjuarbe@nyfa.edu for more details.

    Film still_2

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  • A Word From Musical Theatre Chair Mark Olsen

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    Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 11.27.56 AM

    The following is a post from New York Film Academy‘s Chair of the Musical Theatre Conservatory Program, Mark Olsen. Mark is a professional actor, author, and director – currently working as a movement consultant on two Broadway shows. His students are working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in major films, television shows, and in regional theatres, both here and abroad.

    First, it is important to recognize that the previous Chair, VP Boyle, worked diligently and with great verve over the past four and a half years to bring this program to a level that is attracting such extraordinary young talent. I am honored to be given the task to not only serve that original mission, and greatly energized to take the program boldly forward. With the great faculty we have and the amazing students from all over the world, we are poised to do great things.

    I find it very interesting and appropriate that as I assumed this new position, numerous students of mine were joining other former students and fulfilling their dreams of performing on the Broadway stage. (And in Tony nominated productions no less!) In addition, one student just got the lead in the national tour of Evita and another just informed me yesterday that she was cast in the upcoming musical, Soul Doctor. Add to that the fact that a few months ago I was brought on to do some movement consulting for Cicely Tyson, who is starring on Broadway in Trip to Bountiful, and it certainly seems like this is my special Broadway season.

    However, what I really need to share with you is the incredibly big news: We have moved into our glorious new building in Battery Park! We are inhabiting the fifth floor for now, while the fourth floor finished its last stages of construction. The studios are extraordinary, the dance rooms exquisite, the views of the Hudson bay – breathtaking.

    Mark at NYFA doorwayOf course, I could not have made this transition and taken on the sudden task of this new position if it weren’t for the hard work and quick study of the new Musical Theatre coordinator, Megan Nilon. Together we have kept the ship steady and have navigated the various storms to land us safely and happily into our elegant new facility.

    Kevin Duda, who is in Book of Mormon, just recently directed the Movie Musical for the second year class who graduated last Friday. It was a rousing success. After final edits, it will be submitted to festivals thither and yon and the amazingly good looking cast will have that credential, great footage and photos for their professional reels.

    All in all it has been a terrific ride so far. We are experiencing a lull for a few weeks, with only one class in residence, but we all thrill with anticipation because July promises to be quite a mash up of Musical Theatre activity. When that hits, the summer season will kick off in earnest. All hands on deck, dedicated to giving the very best training to these students, these wonderful young singers, dancers, actors.

    Let’s make some good magic!

    -Mark Olsen

    If you’d like to learn more about NYFA’s Musical Theatre Conservatory Program, click HERE!

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    June 12, 2013 • Musical Theatre • Views: 6044

  • Linshan Zhao Screens ‘The Assassins’

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    assassinspic

    Director Linshan Zhao at New York Film Academy in Union Square

    This Thursday, the New York Film Academy welcomed Chinese director, Linshan Zhao, to screen his film The Assassins. The Chinese historical drama stars Chow Yun-fat as Cao Cao, a prominent warlord who became the de facto head of government in China towards the end of the Han Dynasty. Being that the film has yet to be released in the United States, our students were in for a rare cinematic treat.

    Having ten years of commercial directing under his belt, Zhao had been writing a screenplay for four years. Once producers got their hands on his script, they knew it needed to be made. With that, Zhao raised nearly eighteen million dollars to shoot what would become his first feature film, The Assassins. “It has always been my dream,” said Zhao “Since I was little, I wanted to be a director, and that was my biggest inspiration.”

    Zhao’s next steps are to release the film all over the world, starting with Asian countries and working his way toward North America. He’s also working on his next project, My Super Ex, based on a popular Chinese Twitter feed. Zhao jokingly commented on how we all have those stories from past relationships, and he’s willing to hear them all to help shape his next film.

     

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    March 1, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 4222