executive producer
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  • New York Film Academy Hosts Q&A with Executive Producer and UPM Nathan Kelly

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    On Tuesday, August 13, the New York Film Academy hosted a Q&A with Executive Producer, Producer, and UPM, Nathan Kelly. Kelly was joined by a creative executive for Working Title Films, Dana Himmelstein, and the event was moderated by NYFA instructor Denise Carlson.

    Kelly’s line producing credits include Destroyer, Certain Women, Short Term 12, and he just finished production on Covers for Working Title / Focus Features. Recently, Nathan served as the Unit Production Manager on Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood and White Boy Rick.

    Carlson began the Q&A by asking Kelly and Himmelstein to share how they got started in the industry. Kelly shared his journey through film school in which he took part in many different aspects of the film industry before deciding he wanted to become a producer. “I thought I wanted to script supervise then quickly realized I wanted to be more on the producing side of things,” Kelly stated, adding, “So I found my way into becoming an assistant to producers and I worked for a music manager, television producer, celebrity manager in LA for a bit and just learned the general details on how to get things done and navigate problems.”

    When asked to share his experiences in performing multiple aspects of production, from executive producing to serving as a unit production manager, Kelly shared, “Each role has a lot of overlap. It’s really unique to the movie and it’s unique to the people you’re working with. It all kind of filters into this idea of being kind of like a team leader and overseeing, helping to manage the budget, the logistics, and the overall methodology of the production and how you’re gonna shoot the movie.”

    Working as collaborators on Working Title / Focus Features’ latest project, Covers, a film about the music industry, Kelly and Himmelstein were asked to share what the development process was like. Nathan began by saying, “This script had an unusually high amount of rewriting  for a production which had nothing to do with the script. The challenges were related to production, and when the movie gets cast a lot of times you may rewrite the roles to fit these different actors that you never anticipated coming on.” Dana added, “There’s a difference in what makes a really good script and what makes a really good movie. Once you’re in production mode, the goal post just moves.”

    Carlson then inquired about Kelly’s biggest project and the summer blockbuster hit, Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, asking him about the environment on set and working with the points of views of well-known filmmakers and acclaimed actors. Kelly stated, “It taught me so much about different ways of thinking about filmmaking. The way that the set functioned was as a big movie, but it also had an intimate energy to it as if it were an independent film. Everybody cared so deeply about what they were doing and the level of dedication that was there was not just from the crew, but also on the cast side as well. Everybody was just insanely dedicated, on time, and available. It was really easy to adopt that same attitude throughout the process.”

    Kelly’s shared some wisdom on what encompasses a great producer, asserting, “You have to protect the movie from every aspect. It’s basically a really careful process of communicating with everybody and allowing the ideas to be out on the table, but making sure to squash all the ones that take away from the film.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kelly and Himmelstein for sharing their experiences and entertainment industry advice with students.

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    August 26, 2019 • Film School, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1060

  • “Homeland” Executive Producer Gideon Raff Visits NYFA

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    Gideon Raff

    Gideon Raff

    On Wednesday, May 14th students gathered in New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles Theater to view the pilot for the recently released TV series Dig followed by a Q&A with Gideon Raff, the show’s co-creator. Gideon “Gidi” Raff is a film and television director, screenwriter, and executive producer. He is best known for the award-winning 2010 Israeli television drama series Prisoners of War (which he created, wrote and directed) and its acclaimed US adaptation, Homeland (for which he won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2012). Raff executive produced and co-created the highly-anticipated series Tyrant in 2014. Gideon directed the award-winning film The Babysitter, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003, and he is also a bestselling fiction author in Israel. His latest TV project, Dig, a ten-episode archaeological thriller about an American FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem, aired recently on the USA Network. The Q&A was moderated by NYFA’s screenwriting instructor Eric Nelson.

    Despite having three shows currently on the the air, Gideon Raff admits that he’s still plagued by the same frustrations and insecurities in writing that he had in film school. Starring at a blank page still intimidates him. He starts to doubt his greatness. Maybe the fact that he’s made a number of hit TV shows is just a fluke… But Mr. Raff does not believe in divine inspiration when it comes to screenwriting; he believes in hard work and perseverance. Gideon pushes those doubts away and ignores the constant stream of excuses his mind makes up to avoid the writing process: “I should go to the gym,” or “I really need to get groceries at Whole Foods.” It’s refreshing to hear that Gideon Raff grapples with the same issues that every writer does and that achieving his level of success is just a matter of… well, hard work and perseverance.

    gideon raff

    Eric Nelson and Gideon Raff

    Gideon starts out with an idea and let’s the story dictate the genre and format. By being sensitive to the needs of the story he’ll know soon if he has a drama or comedy, feature film or TV series on his hands. He often writes alone however on Dig Gideon worked with a co-creator because he was busy also creating his most recent show Tyrant at the same time. Gideon compared the process of writing in a TV show “writer’s room” to group therapy. It’s a very “intimate” process, which can make for an incredible experience or a horrible one. You may spend the day hammering out themes for the season or hearing about a writer’s childhood. Either way it all works to generate ideas.

    A very important element of a good story, according to Gideon, is “delicious characters.” When a student asked Gideon how she too could make her characters “delicious” he said to make them HUMAN. By “human” he further explained that they should be complex and flawed. As an example of this, Gideon referenced Claire Danes’s character in Homeland who has bipolar disorder. What makes her interesting is that she’s an unreliable narrator. We never know which version of her is speaking or if that same version will appear again when it’s time to follow through with what she said before.

    The students were thrilled to gain such valuable knowledge from an entertainment industry heavyweight. We sincerely thank Gideon Raff for visiting NYFA and wish him the best of luck on future projects!

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    May 15, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 6613