francis ford coppola
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  • Greenlight Women and New York Film Academy Host Special Screening of A Classy Broad With Anne Goursaud and Marcia Nasatir

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    This April, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles was proud to host Greenlight Women for a special screening of the documentary A Classy Broad, followed by a Q&A with the film’s director, prolific editor Anne Goursaud, and it’s subject, Marcia Nasatir — the first woman to be vice president of production in a major Hollywood studio.

    From left to right: Marion Rosenberg, Anne Goursaud, Marcia Nasatir, Lawrence Kasdan, and Meg Kasdan.

    Anne Goursaud is known for her work as an editor on films including Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Outsiders. Her 2016 documentary A Classy Broad chronicles Marcia Nasatir’s career from her beginnings as a literary agent in New York City to making history as the first woman to become vice president of production at United Artists, as well as her continuing career as an independent producer. Nasatir is known for driving such films as The Big Chill and Hamburger Hill.  

    Moderated by manager/producer Marion Rosenberg, the Q&A event was introduced by actress Piper Laurie and Greenlight Women President Ivy Kagan Bierman. Marion Rosenberg opened the event by asking how Anne Goursaud and Marcia Nasatir met.

    Anne Goursaud reminisced about going to a yard sale hosted by Marcia Nasatir, and striking up a friendship. Marcia then passed Anne’s name along to Fred Roos — leading to Goursaud becoming Francis Ford Coppola’s editor.

    Ivy Kagan Bierman, Lucy Webb, and Kim Ogletree.

    “She immediately took me in, like she does everybody,” Goursaud recounted fondly.

    The conversation turned to films, and Rosenberg asked, “Do you think it’s possible to make a good film from a bad or moderately well-written script?”

    Marcia responded positively, saying that for her, “It’s not always about all the words, it’s about characters you care about … you go to the movies, or you begin to hear a story that sort of interests you, and you wanna find out what’s gonna happen.”

    Marion Rosenberg, Marcia Nasatir, Piper Laurie, and Anne Goursaud.

    Hanan Higgi, a recent documentary filmmaking alumna, asked,  “Do you have any tips for how to get mentors?”

    Goursaud advised, “You never know where you’re going to meet people. You go to festivals … keep the relationships, keep telling people what you’re doing … have coffee with them … people in the industry are actually very nice.”

    To illustrate Goursauds advice, special industry guests were in attendance for the evening, including writer/director Lawrence Kasdan, known for Empire Strikes Back, The Big Chill and recently, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and his wife, Meg Goldman Kasdan. Nancy Schreiber, the fourth woman ever voted into membership of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers, and recipient of the 2017 ASC President’s Award, was also present.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Marcia Nasatir, Anne Goursaud, Marion Rosenberg, Piper Laurie, Ivy Kagan Bierman, and Greenlight Women for joining us to host this wonderful event.

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  • Candy Clark and Peter Rainer Screen American Graffiti at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    The Los Angeles Campus of the New York Film Academy welcomed back actress Candy Clark following a screening of the classic film American Graffiti. Previously, Clark had joined us for a Q&A following the classic David Bowie Film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. Prolific Film Critic Peter Rainer moderated the event.

    Candy Clark has worked in the film industry for nearly four and a half decades, with roles in classic films including George Lucas’ American Graffiti, The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Fincher’s Zodiac, Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Clark has also worked on TV series including Magnum P.I., Criminal Minds, and a few episodes of the 2017 version of Twin Peaks.

    Peter Rainer has been in the industry for over 30 years, and currently writes for NPR, The Los Angeles Times, and the Christian Science Monitor. He’s also the author of Rainer on Film: Thirty Years of Film Writing in a Turbulent and Transformative Era. Also a NYFA Master Faculty member, Rainer was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. 

    George Lucas’ American Graffiti is a coming-of-age comedy based heavily on Lucas’ own teenage years in Modesto, CA. It was a huge success, and is one of the films that led to the start of the “summer blockbuster.” The film’s success also gave Lucas the funding for a film he’d wanted to do for a long time — a space opera that eventually became Star Wars.

    Rainer and Clark opened the discussion by talking about the doubts studio executives had about American Graffiti, specifically: “they hated the title … nobody knows what graffiti means.”

    Producer Francis Ford Coppola asked everyone on set — actors included — to come up with a new title. Coppola’s suggestion was “Rock Around the Block,” but Clark said they held firm. “American Graffiti has a good rhythm … it just sounds great.”

    One audience member asked if Clark always knew the film would be a success. With a big smile on her face, Clark said that she always thought it would be a hit. Earlier in the Q&A, Clark even talked about how she had a first audition before she’d seen the script, and after reading it, she insisted her agent get her another audition so she could do the writing justice. She really identified with the characters, as she had spent her youth cruising between drive-ins in Fort Worth, Texas.

    Clark talked about her experiences on set, including the fact that “there would not be many takes at all, they had to move on.” Regardless, Clark said she always had confidence in her portrayal of Debbie, who she felt was an easygoing and kind character.

    Clark also reminisced fondly about her castmates and told stories from their time together, including one about Richard Dreyfuss: He was late meeting her for dinner because Harrison Ford and Paul Le Mat threw him in the hotel swimming pool.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Candy Clark for coming back and speaking to our students about this classic film, and Peter Rainer for his insightful moderation.

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  • Remembering Cinematography’s Prince of Darkness

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    Cinematographer Gordon Willis on set preparing a shot

    A cinematographer occupies a unique position in the creation of a film in that he or she must translate a director’s vision into shots that are both in service to the story while injecting his or her own vision into the film. Renowned cinematographer Gordon Willis, who died on Monday at the age of 82, perfectly captured this tension when he said a director of photography’s (DP) duty is to “fit the punishment to the crime,” meaning that a DP should render the material in an aesthetic manner that marries his or her own unique perspective in service of the film. To say that Willis accomplished this goal is an understatement as he was responsible for pioneering a style of 35mm cinematography that became synonymous with the golden era of Hollywood film in the 70s, working closely with three of that decade’s most notable auteurs—Alan J. Pakula, Francis Ford Coppola, and Woody Allen.

    Donald Sutherland stares out the window in Klute

    Starting his career as a DP with 1970’s End of the Road, Willis first came to prominence in Pakula’s neo-noir thriller Klute in 1971. Throughout the film, Willis makes use of long shots and unusual zooms and angles to essentially estrange the viewer, creating an unsettling mood through his imagery. In addition, Willis started to flex his more innovative and ambitious muscles. For example, in one scene the film’s protagonist Peter Kable stares outside his window upon the city when the camera effortlessly moves forward and appears to almost drop out of the window to create a dizzying shot that uses the building’s massive height, leaving viewers scratching their head at how such an impressive shot could be made to look so effortless.

    Having served as the cinematographer on Coppola’s Godfather trilogy, The Godfather was a watershed moment not just in Willis’s own career, but for cinematography as a whole. The film’s opening scene is famous for its reserved use of light as the film’s bright wedding scene contrasts with Vito Corleone’s dimly lit office in which Marlon Brando’s eyes are almost completely obscured. It was this film that earned him the nickname of the Prince of Darkness as he parted with many of Hollywood’s conventional lighting techniques in favor of heavy underexposure and an orange palette that would become a hallmark of subsequent period films.

    Library of Congress in All The President's Men

    Willis was never afraid of using inventive and new techniques to create the right tone for the films he worked on. One incredible example of this was his re-teaming with Pakula for All The President’s Men in which he placed a winch he placed in the dome of the Library of Congress, allowing a remote-controlled camera to film a full view of the library in a single shot. Throughout the film, his mastery of light is seen as the above shot, showing the library cast in natural light, with the shadowy world of darkness, as exemplified in the under-lit scene in which Robert Redford meets with Deep Throat in a menacing parking garage.

    Having first hooked up with Allen in 1977’s classic Annie Hall, his camera work in 1979’s Manhattan served as a love letter to his hometown. Filmed in a 2:35:1 anamorphic black and white format, Willis managed to help make a modern tale of romance look positively timeless; just take the film’s opening sequence in which iconic sights of the city are fantastically shot and paired with George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” But if one is to call to mind one particularly memorable shot from the film, it would undoubtedly be the scene in which Allen’s and Diane Keaton’s characters sit on a park bench and gaze at the Queensboro Bridge cast against a foggy dawn. Willis chose to emphasize the gigantic nature of the city, which can often make its inhabitants feel like ants, as the viewer only sees the backs of Allen and Keaton, creating a definitive statement on the beauty of both the city and love.

    Remarkably enough, Willis was never nominated by the Academy for any of his work in the above films—although he did receive an honorary Oscar in 2009—but in the hearts of cinephiles and cinematographers alike, his work will continue to inspire and evoke awe for the foreseeable future.

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    May 20, 2014 • Cinematography • Views: 7729

  • New York Film Academy Music Video Competition!

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    New York Film Academy is excited to announce a music video competition with Born Leaders Entertainment/Management artists Weston Coppola Cage, Christina Fulton, and Hassan Khaffaf. Students will compete for the chance to direct, shoot, and produce the singles for the artists’ upcoming singles.

    The competition is open to AFA, BFA, and MFA students in their second year, and alumni. Students will have the opportunity to meet the artists on Thursday, August 9 at 7 p.m. in the Welles room at the school’s Universal Studios campus. After the meet and greet, students will have a week to come up with their pitches for the music videos, and the winning concepts will be chosen by the artists.

    As the son of Nicolas Cage and Christina Fulton, actor and recording artist Weston Coppola Cage, carries on a rich artistic legacy. He released his first album with his band Eyes of Noctum, working with award-winning producer Jack Douglas, and top Swedish black metal producer Fredrik Nordstrom. He was asked to record a song for the major motion picture Drive Angry, and was asked back by the studio to record the monstrous evil voice in Ghost Rider. His much-anticipated solo album is due out at Christmas 2012, and will also star in the forthcoming film Sugar Rat in 2013.

    Shortly after coming to Hollywood, actress and recording artist Christina Fulton landed a part in Oliver Stone‘s critically acclaimed film, The Doors. Her portrayal of the enigmatic Nico launched an illustrious acting career that has included roles in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s DraculaBrian DePalma’s Snake EyesAbel Ferrara’s Dangerous Games and the award-winning independent film, Lucinda’s Spell. Her debut single, Thank You, premiered on MTV’s Jersey Shore earlier this year. She previewed her second single, Freeing My Mind, while opening for Lupe Fiasco, Rock Mafia, and Cobra Starship at Kodak Theater this year.

    Hassan Khaffaf is a Middle Eastern producer and recording artists, soaring off his successful world debut with last year’s number one song in Asia, co-produced by Kanye West. Now he is on his own journey to captivate the world with his unique production and extraordinary artistry.

    Today, Christina Fulton released a statement saying, “New York Film Academy has long been a respected and renowned institution for students seeking training in the creative arts, acting, film, and photography. For many years I’ve wished to collaborate with them and I am very excited by the uniqueness and promise of the program we have designed that combines the excellent training NYFA has long been known for with premier exposure of the student’s work and most importantly, an opportunity for them to work with established artists that can greatly assist in their fretful transition from school to real world that every student must face. What I, and the wonderful NYFA executives who’ve embraced my idea, have done is to combine training with opportunity.”

     

     

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    August 7, 2012 • Academic Programs, Cinematography, Film School, Filmmaking, Producing • Views: 4106

  • Whatever Happened to Francis Ford Coppola?

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    Francis Ford CoppolaLast week was the 40th Anniversary of The Godfather. I don’t know if you saw it but the AMC channel aired it repeatedly during the week. Watching those films again, it made me wonder…

    Whatever happened to Francis Ford Coppola?

    The Godfather was a huge influence. I mean everyone went to see it. I remember I had a friend who was ushering at the movie theater and would sneak me in. It didn’t even matter what part of the movie you came in at, you’d just watch it from there to the end. Sometimes I’d even stay to watch the beginning of the next show. We used to refer to the film as, “the Beast.” That’s how much respect we had for it. A few years later, as a film student, Scorsese became my guy (he was the filmmaker that made me want to be a filmmaker.) The Godfather was still the benchmark and with all due respect and deference to good ol’ Marty, he never made “The Beast”.

    Coppola followed up with Apocalypse Now. The stories about making that film are legendary—the enormous amounts of money, equipment, and insanity that went on in the jungles. But whether you like the film or not, you can’t help but be impressed by the enormity of the undertaking and the execution. It is unquestionably the work of a master filmmaker. And then… What? What happened? He never again fulfilled the promise of his early films. It makes me sad. What went wrong? Where did Francis Ford Coppola jump the shark?

    It started with a film called One From the Heart. You’ve probably never seen it. Few people have. It was a musical fantasy set in Vegas, and even though it pioneered some video-editing techniques, it was a disaster with audiences. Then there were The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. It seemed to us as young directors as the work of a desperate filmmaker who lost one audience and was trying everything he could to connect with a new one. Next he tried a Godfather knockoff, The Cotton Club. An epic crime drama, it even had the same sort of violent montage at the end. A pale imitation and another box office disaster. And finally, Godfather 3, the last ditch effort to recapture past glory. I don’t even have to tell you what a disappointment that film was.

    How did such a great filmmaker lose his way? Was it the disappointing loss of Zoetrope Studios? In 1969, Coppola decided to buck the studio system, which he felt had stifled his artistic vision. He created Zoetrope to fund off-beat films by first time directors. It didn’t work. Was it the pressure of paying off the huge financial debt in which he found himself? Coppola has declared bankruptcy three times. It’s not easy holding onto a personal vision while digging yourself out of a financial hole. Or was it the tragic death of his son? Personal tragedy has a way of putting ambitions of glory in perspective. In the end, perhaps it was just the unimaginable pressure of having to equal something as great as The Godfather.

    The Godfather

    It’s hard not to reflect on the somewhat tragic trajectory of his life. Early success does have its pitfalls. Compare the careers of directors like Spielberg and Scorsese. They all started out at the same time. They were part of an avant-garde group of filmmakers that were revolutionizing Hollywood. But where Spielberg and Scorsese are viable, influential, Academy Award nominated filmmakers to this day, Francis Ford Coppola has sadly vanished from the scene. I can easily imagine him filled with deep satisfaction and appreciation of what he’s accomplished. I can also imagine him with deep regret at what could’ve been. Ultimately, I’d like to think that with age comes perspective, if not wisdom, and maybe even acceptance. What do you think? Every filmmaker has to come to grips at some point with this issue of art and commerce. How have you handled it? Or how do you envision handling it? I’d like to know.

    Click here to learn more about the filmmaking program.

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    March 16, 2012 • Filmmaking • Views: 12096