francesco mazza
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  • “Frankie” Selected for Prestigious Nastro d’Argento

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    francesco mazza

    One of the most prestigious honors for a filmmaker in Italy is to have his or her film selected into the “Nastri d’Argento,” which is essentially the Italian Academy Awards where journalists vote on their favorite films of the year. Former One-Year Filmmaking graduate from New York Film Academy, Francesco Mazza, accomplished this feat with his thesis film, Frankie (Italian Roulette).

    Selected as a finalist for Best Short Film in this year’s Nastri d’Argento, Frankie depicts the story of an Italian immigrant, Frankie Tramonto, and his struggle to earn a Green Card in New York City. Mazza’s film was nominated alongside Brando De Sica, the nephew of famous Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Sica, and Fulvio Risuleo, whose short film Varicella won “La Semaine de la Critique” in Cannes.

    While at NYFA, Mazza was quite fond of his experience and instructors. In fact, last summer he and his former cinematography teacher, Piero Basso, worked on a documentary for Italian broadcaster Sky Arte. Last fall he worked with Instructor Ben Maraniss in the 8-Week Screenwriting Program on the feature version of his script, which is called The Green Card Lottery. Speaking further on his time at NYFA, Mazza said:

    Without NYFA there would be no Frankie at all. At NYFA I made one of the most important encounters of my life: Amos Poe. He taught me not to worry about which cameras I’m shooting on, but to keep in mind one obsession: the emotion, and how to deliver it to the audience in the best possible way. Amos is a cinematographic genius.

    I’m also in debt to Michael Sandoval, my first directing teacher. I’ve never met anybody else with that kind of sensitivity for narrative beats. He taught me how everything you do in a movie—even the color of the t-shirt of an extra in the background—is a choice you must have control over.

    I also want to mention Ben Maraniss, my screenwriting teacher: he is such a great teacher (and a great person). Before coming to NYFA I was already a TV writer in Italy (for the Italian comedy show “Striscia la Notizia”) but Ben took my skills and pushed them to a completely different level. And Ben Cohen: his cinema studies course made me understand that beyond the 3-act structured, classic American narrative movies there is a whole new universe that I just find more interesting.

    Some advice Mazza would like to extend to our current students is to submit only to Academy qualifying festivals (and some from the Moviemakers lists) and if they don’t accept you, save your money for the next movie.

    Speaking of festivals, Frankie will be screening at the seventh annual NYC Independent Film Festival on Thursday, April 28 at 12:00pm at the Producers Club in Manhattan. For tickets and more information, please visit: www.nycindieff.com/film/frankie-italian-roulette.

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    April 13, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3528

  • NYFA Student Writes and Directs Italian Web Series

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    Vera Bes

    Even though Francesco Mazza had already been writing for popular television shows in Italy, he decided to move to New York to challenge himself and become a better artist. “My interest in New York Film Academy came from the all hands-on idea,” says Mazza. “When you are in your early 30’s, you can’t afford to lose time, and at NYFA everything happens fast.”

    During Francesco’s first year in New York, he came up with the idea for a pilot and pitched it to a couple of Italian production companies. The pilot, Vera Bes, caught the interest of Matteo Scortegagna, C.E.O. of Zodiak Active Italy. From there, Francesco wrote the pilot and soon after the project was green-lit. Francesco was not meant to direct the pilot. It was only after he showed Scortegagna his NYFA first semester film, a comedy called Man-eaters, starring his fellow NYFA acting students. After viewing the short, Scortegagna hired Francesco to direct his own pilot.

    “The web-wise record-setting of $80,000 displays how important the project is for us, who strongly believe in the upcoming development of the web market,” said Scortegagna. “As we were half way through pre-production, I came to know that not only was Francesco a talented screenwriter with prestigious credits in our country, but he was also attending a one-year course in directing and filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. Therefore, I immediately offered him the directing of the pilot, a challenge that was brilliantly accomplished by Francesco last March.”

    Vera Bes is about a girl with a special power: using the mystery of “lucid dreams” leant by her grandmother, she is capable of getting into people’s dreams. In her spare time, Vera becomes a “dream consultant”- anybody affected by a recurring nightmare can come by her studio for a consultation. After investigating both in the world of dreams of the client and in reality, she climbs down the client’s unconscious to set him free from the nightmare. But Vera has a further motivation: finding and killing the evil presence who murdered her grandmother.

    “I like to think of NYFA as a toy or a musical instrument. If you apply yourself hard, you’re willing to do sacrifices, you humble yourself no matter what you did in the past and you constantly struggle to learn. And you are going to have real fun. Before studying at NYFA, I’ve always had lots of ideas, but it’s thanks to NYFA that I finally learned how to visualize and dramatize the stories I had in my mind. I would have never been able to direct a project like Vera Bes if I hadn’t had the possibility to learn the essential rules of screenwriting with Ben Maraniss or the importance of externalizing the characters’ struggle with Michael Sandoval. Not to mention all the priceless advice my directing teacher, Amos Poe, gave me throughout the year. I also fondly remember the speech [Filmmaking Chair] Claude Kerven gave us the very first day of school about the true meaning of being a filmmaker — something I’ll never forget.”

    Vera Bes is already part of the official selection for the upcoming 2014 Marseille Web Series Festival. Francesco’s goal is to create a character driven TV drama like Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, True Detective, etc. The idea of Zodiak Active is to find international production companies willing to partner up and produce an international product to be sold worldwide.

    VERA BES – Promo from Vera Bes on Vimeo.

     

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    July 30, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4118