Not only does the New York Film Academy provide an intensive hands-on experience, but it also sometimes plays the role of matchmaker for actors, filmmakers, writers and other creative artists to begin a professional relationship that will last far beyond their years as students.
Such is the case for two alumni, Sara Seligman and Thomas Bond, who met at NYFA and began a working relationship as writing partners. Sara and Tom first met while taking the One-Year Filmmaking Program in 2007. The two initially worked on each other’s thesis films – Sara was Tom’s AD and Tom was Sara’s DP. After school they continued collaborating, and currently they have several feature film scripts that they’ve co-written.
One of their screenplays, Falcon Lake, was awarded a TriBeCa Film Institute Grant, which brought about the attention of potential film financiers and production companies. Through that attention, the team found producer, Anne Clements, and attached Oscar-nominee Adriana Barraza to play one of the leading roles. And more recently, Tom and Sara were selected to participate in the 2016 Film Independent Fast Track. Through that they received even more attention, both for their script and as writers in general. They had the opportunity to meet with several more production companies and agencies, such as WME. They have now landed their first investors and are still looking to gather the remainder of the production budget.
Falcon Lake began at NYFA as Sara’s first-year thesis film, Blessed the Fruit of Thy Womb. Her short was the seed that began the idea, and slowly it grew and evolved into the script it is today.
“The most important thing is to know that the skills we learn in school can be strengthened with practice, from directing to lighting to writing,” says Seligman in regards to her time at NYFA. “NYFA taught us that, when it comes to filmmaking, going out and doing the work is the only way to succeed, and repetition is the way to turn the work from decent to good to great,” added Bond.
In addition to their writing careers, both Sara and Tom have spent time working on film and TV sets, including The Mindy Project and The People Vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. “Working on TV and film sets has been extremely important in furthering my career,” said Seligman. “We can learn a lot in film school, but practical experience is invaluable. When applying for jobs, it’s the experience that matters most. Getting on-set experience helps me to learn all facets of the filmmaking process.”
“Working on set, you learn to manage the different legs of a project, and the personalities involved,” added Bond. “I love the challenge of working as a team under pressurized constraints, like budget and time restrictions. You really learn who is capable of what, and who will be around for the long haul in an industry that is very unforgiving.”
Sara and Tom continue to develop and collaborate on screenplays while holding steady jobs in the creative field. Sara is currently working as an Associate Producer at the ad agency Innocean. Before that, she was Jennifer Todd’s assistant on Ben Affleck’s Live By Night and key set PA for The Mindy Project. “I’m proud of the evolvement that each project has meant, and that I was able to work for one of my favorite directors on Live by Night with one of the best DPs in the world Bob Richardson,” said Seligman.
For the past several years, Tom has spent much of his time in the documentary world. “My proudest achievement is definitely getting the chance to work with Albert Maysles at his production company in Harlem, which I did for two years,” said Bond. “Working with a legend, who was so nice, smart, and giving, is an experience I’ll treasure forever. Rest In Peace, Albert!”