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  • Stephen Colbert to Interview George Lucas at Tribeca

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    colbert lucas

    For those of you on Stephen Colbert withdrawal, there’s a beacon of light ahead with the announcement from the Tribeca Film Festival that the long-time TV host will interview Star Wars creator George Lucas. The two are expected to discuss Lucas longstanding career as a filmmaker, which includes the classic franchises Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Fans also expect Lucas to unveil a bit about the upcoming films, which are being directed by J.J. Abrams, under Disney.

    Colbert hasn’t hidden his crush on Star Wars, having had an epic light saber duel with Comedy Central’s The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart. The force was strong for Colbert.

    While not everyone will be able to attend the exclusive interview this April in New York City, there is some solace in the fact that the brilliant comedy mind will be returning soon enough when he replaces David Letterman on the The Late Show this September.

    Now we just need to figure out how we’ll cope without Letterman…

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    March 18, 2015 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News • Views: 3149

  • 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: 4144

  • Superheroes are Taking Over Hollywood (and I Feel Fine)

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     Eric Conner is the Chair of the Screenwriting Department for New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios – Los Angeles campus. With an MFA degree from USC School of Cinema and Television and a BA from UPenn, Eric is currently developing two TV pilots, a sci-fi feature, and trying to add to his collection of ironic snapshots with Stormtroopers. Feel free to email him at eric@nyfa.edu

    I often warn my students to avoid becoming “That Guy.” You know “That Guy.” He’s the one in the theater who complains about a director “crossing the 180 line” or using the wrong lens. He’s the one who LOUDLY critiques a movie in terms of “sequences” and “denouement.” Summer’s an especially difficult time for “That Guy” since the multiplexes are filled with Hollywood’s biggest, loudest, and franchise-iest products — though to be fair, there’s a Wes Anderson gem also playing in the theaters, but it’s on a screen smaller than your car. For my $14 (or $28 if you choose the couches and food service of iPic Theaters in Pasadena), I don’t watch a movie with a notebook or penlight. I go to the theaters simply to be transported.

    Sometimes it’s to the dark emotional wilderness of Into the Wild. Other times to see Kevin Bacon singlehandedly ignite the Cold War in X-Men: First Class. Please note: I’m pretty sure the Cuban Missile Crisis did not actually play out that way, especially since my own father was on one of the ships during those tense thirteen days in 1962. But that didn’t make me enjoy the scene any less. This likely goes back to why I work in the arts in the first place. Similar to many of my peers, I grew up on the films of Allen, Scorsese, Coppola, Ashby, Polanski, and Altman, and spent most of my college days working on one play or another. However, I also spent many hours in my native Delaware reading comics, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and — please don’t hold it against me or my department — watching professional wrestling! Meaning that I’m equally transfixed by the damaged honesty of The Descendants as when the Hulk mops up the floor with Loki. In fact, my favorite line of dialogue this decade came out of Bruce Banner’s mouth just as he got his green on. (No spoilers here!)

    With The Avengers approaching Titanic-level grosses, we’re likely to see even more superhero films in the future. And I’m here to tell you that’s okay. Some of them will be stinkers (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider), but others will give us the same thrill that George Lucas unleashed in 1977 with one unforgettable opening shot. For every Daredevil, Elektra, or Green Lantern, there’s a Superman or Spiderman 2. I still think  Magneto’s unorthodox escape from his glass prison — featuring a poor guard with “too much iron in his blood” — is as cinematic as cinema can get. Hopefully, the screenwriters who are developing the next mega-budget superhero adaptations remember the wonder they felt as kids, flipping through the pages of The Flash. Or take a cue from Chris Nolan, who’s been treating Batman like part of the Godfather franchise.

    In fact, our writing department in Los Angeles has even begun to address this head-on by adding comic book writing and game design to our curriculum. Both of these mediums have provided some of the greatest modern writing around. As long as there’s money to be made and stories to be told, Hollywood will continue to look for new films from these existing properties. Some films will anger the aforementioned “That Guy.” But other films will sweep him up in their worlds and remind him why he came to film school in the first place. If you want to discuss this with me, I can be found at either the Ahmanson touring production of War Horse or the opening weekend of Dark Knight Rises

    Eric Connor in a tiff with Darth Vader.

    Learn more about NYFA’s screenwriting program. Click here for more info! 
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    June 14, 2012 • Academic Programs, Screenwriting • Views: 6356

  • The Importance of Learning Your Audience

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    Ron Tippe is the department chair of the Producing department at the New York Film Academy. He is best known as the animation producer for the smash hit Space Jam. He managed the Walt Disney Feature Animation studio in Paris, France while producing the short film Runaway Brain which was nominated for an Academy award. He was also responsible for pre-production on Shrek and worked with George Lucas in collaboration with Universal Studios on Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. 

    I must be a lucky guy. After 27 years in Hollywood with a successful career in the film business, I’m now the Chair of Producing for NYFA. First off, I get to work with some very special people. My fellow colleagues come from various countries which offer different perspectives from a variety of cultures around the world. That said, the commonality is their love of cinema. Almost to a person, the level of passion is infectious and energizing. This attitude towards the art of filmmaking is what constitutes success as a film producer.

    • KNOW WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS. In the entertainment business, nothing is decided at the studio level these days. At least not without going through marketing, branding and PR first. The goal for a studio is to maximize financial gain and stem any losses. Focus groups are de rigeur. In the independent world, film festivals and smaller theatrical releases often depend on word-of-mouth in addition to ever-expanding social media campaigns.
    • GRAB THEM IN THE FIRST TEN MINUTES. When looking for a film to produce, make sure that the first 10 pages of the script are compelling. Introduce the main characters and make sure we understand what the protagonist wants. And then how the antagonist prevents that from happening. Comedy or drama, action or fantasy, a great story is imperative to grab the audience. The sooner the better!
    • WE ARE GLOBAL. The box office is increasingly getting two-thirds of their money  internationally. Producers, it’s a global marketplace. Know it. Own it.
    • WORD OF MOUTH IS A MOVIE’S BEST FRIEND. If an audience is satisfied, he or she will tell others. Facebook, Twitter, Email. You name it, they will use it.  Social media is where it’s at.
    • AUDIENCES ARE NOT STUPID. They are very culturally savvy, increasingly educated and obviously fickle. They know what they like and dislike.

    A producer is someone who works insane hours under very difficult conditions. You’re always inside the pressure cooker. You’re constantly nudged by studio executives with their myriad of concerns—most of which are related to budgets and finance. How is this related to being a teacher of film? Passion is absolutely essential in the making a film, or at least in providing a great experience during the making of that film. The same is true in the classroom. A passionate teacher is infectious, and that passion often manifests itself in motivated and inspired students. A great producer can make or break that wonderful experience. After all, the producer is who a crew looks to for leadership. It’s a high standard. The same is true in the classroom here at NYFA. We aim to attain the highest standards and “shoot” for it every single day.

    I’m proud of my teachers and students. We are motivated and inquisitive. Most importantly, we work hard. The students will become great producers for the next generation of moviegoers. Because producers have a strong hand in the filmmaking process, we should be proud of the education that the students are getting here at NYFA. Frankly, we should let the world know how good we are. Time to get the word out. Producer. Teacher. Leader. Motivator. I must be a very lucky guy. Stand by to roll.

    Action!

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    April 24, 2012 • Producing • Views: 5660