hollywood
Posts

  • NYFA LA Welcomes Special Guest Eric Goldberg, Disney Animator: “Moana”

    On Wednesday, Nov. 16, legendary Disney animator Eric Goldberg brought an exclusive preview of Disney’s latest project, “Moana” to New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. The chair of animation, Mark Sawicki, moderated the event.

    disneymoanaunnamed

    Goldberg’s career is extensive. He’s worked on classic animated television shows such as “Looney Tunes” and “The Simpsons.” His work at Disney includes supervising the dance sequences in Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” and serving as supervising animator for the Genie in “Aladdin.” His specialty is 2D animation. For “Moana,” he oversaw the animation of Mini Maui, the mobile tattoo of Dwayne Johnson’s larger-than-life Maui.

    The theater was filled with animation and game design students both eager to hear from someone with over 25 years in the business and excited to catch a sneak peak of “Moana.” Goldberg did not disappoint in either area, treating students to over an hour of behind-the-scenes footage — including messages from the cast and crew, works in progress, and clips from the film.

    Many students wanted to know how 2D animators could survive in a 3D animation world. Goldberg assured students that the fundamentals wouldn’t be disappearing from animation anytime soon. “I always encourage people to look at the principals,” he stated, “They’ve held together for 100 years.” Mock up, character design, and landscaping are still all animation jobs that are originally drawn by hand.  “It’s about creating characters people can identify with. It’s a blend of both sensibilities: theatric and artistic.”

    Walt Disney Animation Studios' artist Jin Kim showcases the look of the title character in the upcoming adventure "Moana." Says director Ron Clements, “Moana is a vibrant, tenacious 16-year-old growing up on an island where voyaging is forbidden. But Moana has been drawn to the ocean since she can remember and is desperate to find out what’s beyond the confines of her island.” Directed by Clements and John Musker and featuring the voice of Native Hawaiian newcomer Auli'i Cravalho in the title role, "Moana" opens nationwide on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

    ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

    For those hopefuls trying to get into Disney, Goldberg had some additional advice. “Disney is always looking for talent.” He suggests going to the Disney website and looking at the portfolio requirements. He also suggests a tactic that he called “observe and caricature” to up one’s game. “How can you identify a friend in a crowd from behind and 20 yards away?” Goldberg asked.  “It’s their walk. You know how they carry their weight. How they walk when they’re sad or mad.” Goldberg suggests practicing nailing those walks and gestures in order to improve basic skills.

    _DSC0732-300dpi

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Goldberg for sharing his wealth of knowledge with humor and humility. NYFA would also like to thank Tova Laiter for bringing this presentation to the school.

    “Moana” will be in theaters near you on Nov. 23, 2016.

    November 18, 2016 • Guest Speakers • Views: 2578

  • A Discussion with Hollywood Manager Nicholas Bogner at NYFA LA

    On November 9, 2016, Hollywood Manager, Nicholas Bogner, gave a spirited Q and A at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. Bogner represents such giants as Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) and Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl). Actors aren’t the only profession Bogner represents. He also counts writers and directors amongst his clientele. Students from every degree program packed the auditorium to hear the head of the literary branch of Affirmative Entertainment give them the inside scoop.

    bogner

    What makes Bogner unique is that he’s worked in almost every aspect of Hollywood. He’s written and sold television pilots, he was an agent, and he’s produced films. It’s this diversity in his career that he attributes to his success. He understands what it takes to sell a script, both from a buyer and seller’s position. That empathy and belief in his clients are often what help make the sale. “You can’t be half in,” Bogner stated, “When people start to say no, you can’t back out.”

    This is the key difference between a manager and an agent. An agent will take a script to five places and if they all say no, they’ll ask for re-writes. “I’ll take a script to fifty different places,” Bogner said. “You only need one yes.”

    One insightful student asked Bogner what traits he considers red flags when looking to sign writers. Bogner responded, “It’s not just about being great on the page, it’s how good you are in the room.” Filmmaking is more than just an art; it’s also a business. Writers have to impress, placate, and convince executives their project is worth the investment. If a writer consistently fails in pitching the project, they won’t have much of a career at all.

    Another student asked about the number of scripts a writer should have prepared. According to Bogner, specs are not necessary anymore. “People finally realized (a spec) was just writing another person’s characters.” What is important is to have two strong scripts.

    bogner

    Do not send nine log lines and ask a manager what they would to read. Time was a factor very much stressed by Bogner. Managers are busy. There are a lot of people trying to get their face seen and their work read. “We’re looking for talent. Yes, it’s daunting, but I’m always looking for that new voice,” Bogner promised. But, managers don’t have time to read lengthy email explaining why they should read an individual’s script or watch their reel.

    Instead, Bogner encourages short sweet emails. Lead with the best, most completed work. “Think about what you’re saying, do a little research, and make it quick,” said Bogner. Other effective tools to have when seeking representation are a solid recommendation from someone working within the industry and a short film that’s on the festival circuit.

    One last piece of advice, from Bogner, to all creatives is, “I try to avoid following a trend because if you’re aware of a trend, you’re probably at the end of it.” He also suggests not worrying about social media following. “The (work) will bring the followers.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Bogner for taking the time to come speak with our students.

    November 17, 2016 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 2553

  • Pulitzer Prize Nominee Peter Rainer Discusses Film Critique

    rainerThis past week, Pulitzer Prize nominee Peter Rainer stopped by New York Film Academy – Los Angeles to discuss what makes a good critic, what he sees as the next wave of filmmaking, and, of course, his years and development as a cinematic journalist. Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon, hosted the event.

    Rainer began his career as a film critic for his college newspaper. In fact, he eventually became the managing editor of the paper, so he could give himself more space for his film reviews. “I really had this jones to be a critic ever since my dad gave me this book called Agee on Film: Criticism and Comment on the Movies. I learned you could be a real writer and still be a critic.”

    He continued, “When I graduated, I went to the library and wrote out a list of 50 publications that I could work for. Not knowing anybody. And I just sent my best work. I think I got two responses. One was from William F. Buckley. John Ford had died around that time so they asked me to do a piece on Ford. That was my first published piece as a writer. “

    Rainer’s first permanent job was with Mademoiselle Magazine. Rainer said of his time there, “The first film I ever reviewed professionally was Chinatown. And I also did an interview with Robert Towne. He let it slip for the first time anywhere that he did an uncredited rewrite of Bonnie and Clyde.” This scoop became a huge Hollywood controversy and put Rainer on the map as a serious journalist.

    paul rainer

    From there, Rainer moved onto the L.A. Times. I had six years at the times. It was an interesting time. I think then the publishing industry had a very cozy relationship with Hollywood.”

    Rainer went on to describe the difficulties critics have faced balancing thoughtful journalism with the demands of their publications’ advertising departments. When the studios keep your paper afloat it’s best not to upset them. “I thought being a critic was this refined thing. It’s connected to the dynamo of journalism, which means you’re connected to advertising. Critics were considered to be antagonistic to the advertisers.”

    Speaking on the state of the pictures today Rainer said, ”I’m always amazed that films that are remade are always the ones that worked the first time. What you should do is remake a film that had a great idea but failed. I see 300 movies a year. I’d say 280 of them are – ugh. I wish I had more time to watch TV. A lot of what’s going on in television, right now, is more exciting than the movies. When I started in the mid 70’s maybe five or eight movies were released a week. Now…it’s more like 25. I never walk out of a film I’m going to review. I still have this ridiculous notion that at some point the film is going to get good or there’ll be some breakthrough performance…”

    Paul Rainer

    To end the evening Rainer read his eulogy to the person he considers the greatest actor of all time, Marlon Brando. A sincere hush fell over the students as they listened to the ups and downs of Brando’s career and how, through it all, he remained the best at his craft.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Peter Rainer for his time and insight. Calderon highly suggests reading Rainer’s book, Rainer on Film: Thirty Years of Film Writing in Turbulent and Transformative Era. This is a great book for film lovers and creators and gives a broad history of one of the medium’s best critics. You can catch reviews from Rainer at the Christian Science Monitor and on NPR’s FilmWeek.

    August 8, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2599

  • NYFA Welcomes Academy Award Nominated Actor Don Murray

    Historic actor and activist Don Murray presented his classic film Bus Stop — his first film starring opposite Marilyn Monroe — to the New York Film Academy. After the screening, students watched highlights of Murray’s forthcoming documentary, Unsung Hero, which was followed by a Q & A.

    don murray

    Don Murray graduated from The American Academy in 1948. He studied method acting in New York City through the 1950’s, the same time as the greats: James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Steve McQueen. After graduating, Murray auditioned for legendary director, Joshua Logan, for Picnic, but instead of taking the role, Murray decided to take some time off to volunteer overseas.

    When he returned he was cast in a play called The Skin of Our Teeth. Logan was in the audience saw him and decided to hire Murray a week before Bus Stop was to begin filming. Murray, a New York native who had never been on a horse, found himself in a rodeo scene on his very fist day on set.

    don murray

    Aside from some television programs in Los Angeles, and his theater studies, Murray didn’t have a lot of Hollywood experience. Because he’s been overseas, he didn’t even think of Monroe as a big star. Initially, Murray continuously turned down the lead role of Bus Stop down because the studio wanted him to sign an exclusive contract. Something, Murray was unwilling to do and called a “slave contract.” They eventually agreed on two pictures a year for five years and every other year he could go to Broadway.

    Murray described his first love as musical comedy, of which he says Monroe was the best. “I never saw a straight play until I was out of high school. My mother was a Ziegfeld girl and my father managed stage musicals.” He took on his next role, Charlie Samson, in the Bachelor Party because it was an ensemble film. “It was like being in a jazz band,” Murray said. That year both Bachelor Party and Hatful of Rain took the second and third place in Time Magazine’s “Movie of the Year” list.

    “I really didn’t appreciate films until I made my own, The Cross and the Switchblade, which I directed. Then I fell in love with movies. Because (before) I hated that there was no continuity (in filming). Always stop and go. I also didn’t like the star system. What (studios) would put up with someone because they were a ‘star’.”

    During the Q & A, a student asked, “What is the one thing that acting didn’t teach you that you wish you knew?” Murray responded, “Your performance comes not only from the text in the script but the eyes of the director. I didn’t join the Actors Studio when I was invited because there was too much business. An actor would get a cigarette in their hands and suddenly the scene becomes about the cigarette.”

    Murray’s most controversial role was in Advise & Consent where he played a closeted Secretary of State who comes under Senate investigation. The film was released in 1962 decades before its time. A student asked if he worried for his career when he took on the role. Murray responded with, “It was an acting role. It never occurred to me to wonder whether or not people would consider me a homosexual. It was an acting role and a wonderful script. It’s probably the best political film ever made. No, excuse me, All The President’s Men is of the same caliber.”

    Another student asked, “Who did you admire coming up?”

    “Well, of course, when I got out of the academy in ‘48, Marlon was on Broadway in A Street Car Named Desire and I’d never seen anything like that. In the audience, you could feel the heat of New Orleans. I was standing in back totally mesmerized by the whole play but specifically Brando. In films, I liked Clift Montgomery… And, also (I liked) James Dean. Not so much Rebel Without a Cause. But I thought East of Eden was fantastic. That was really Cain in the bible. Whose father, God, rejects his gift of wheat, but accepts Abel’s gift of slaughtered lamb. So he was playing Cain, and that was my part in Skin of Our Teeth. So we were basically playing the same part thematically. But that scene where he is confessing to his father really tears at your heart.”

    don murray event

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Murray for taking the time to come speak with our students and wish him luck on his next project, the Twin Peaks revival on Showtime.

    August 4, 2016 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2167

  • Brazilian Actress Franciely Freduzeski Gives Tips to Foreign Actors in Hollywood

    Franciely FreduzeskiThree years ago famous Brazilian actress Franciely Freduzeski, known from her work on O Clone, América, Zorra Total and Malhação for Globo TV as well as the Brazilian Version of Desperate Housewives for RedeTV and A Fazenda for Rede Record amongst many other credits in Film, Theatre and TV, came to Los Angeles to attend an 8-Week Acting for Film Workshop at the New York Film Academy. After that program she made a very brave decision to start a new career in the entertainment capital of the world.

    In a friendly conversation with NYFA, Franciely Freduzeski shared some useful tips for newcomers to Hollywood based on her personal experience:

    • Learn English and take accent reduction classes! Know that language will stop you a lot. My English wasn’t good when I came here and because of that I was denied for some roles. Scene study and Monologue classes helped me a lot to improve my English. When you do scenes or monologues you are not only practicing language, you are also learning how to act in this language and how to add emotions to what you are saying.
    • Different country, different rules. Before jumping into the industry, study very hard, every day. Not just acting, but how Americans work here—learn about culture. There is a lot of competition here. Be prepared to miss family, friends and hear a lot of no’s.
    • Franciely FreduzeskiBe sure you have the right headshots and know the general auditions rules. At the beginning I didn’t know what pictures I should submit for auditions, what the requirements were, or what the right headshot for different castings should be. Also, I never did cold readings before coming to Hollywood. We don’t have them in Brazil, so I wasn’t prepared for that. At NYFA we had special class where we practiced cold reading technique and it helped.
    • After all, it is Hollywood and, as they say, you have to be in the right place at the right time. So always be prepared. You never know when that “right moment” will come. In Brazil actors are usually notified about upcoming auditions at least a week in advance and are provided with lines. In Hollywood you might be called and asked to come for the audition 2 hours before the actual casting. Now I am always ready for that: I always have high heels in my bag and a makeup set, just in case.
    • Know that it won’t be easy. You have to really dedicate yourself. Sometimes you might feel lonely and desperate. To be honest there were moments when I was crying and wanted to give up, but, as Coco Chanel said, “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”

    Franciely Freduzeski is very thankful for the great support of her son, her boyfriend and her family. With time she managed to find balance between living and working in both countries: Brazil and the United States. Her latest projects in Brazil were a television series called Mascara and a stage play, Exilados, where she played Bertha — a woman with a strong personality who comes to challenge the ideals defended by her husband.

    May 16, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4880

  • Discussion with 20th Century Fox Chairman & CEO James N. Gianopulos

    New York Film Academy students were invited to a theatre on the 20th Century Fox Studios Lot in Beverly Hills for an amazing opportunity—a Q&A with Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of 20th Century Fox Corp., James N. Gianopulos. The event was moderated by producer Tova Laiter.
    fox ceo

    Often, throughout the event, the subject of international filmmakers and more diversity in the industry came up. When asked if students from abroad who studied here should stay here or return home to start their careers, Mr. Gianopulos said,  If you’re [already] here, stay here…there’s so much talent here. It’s no accident that Hollywood is what it is.”

    He acknowledged, though, that “very few movies are filmed in Hollywood—it is too expensive,” but overall he still believed that students should remain here if they can, unless they want to return to live in their original country and make movies about their own culture.

    A student asked what would make Mr. Gianopulos want to work with an international filmmaker, and he told the student, “it’s not whether they are international or not, it’s whether they are a talented filmmaker with a good story to tell.”

    7 (1)

    Producer Tova Laiter with 20th Century Fox Chairman & CEO James N. Gianopulos

    “Culture is more diverse than ever and the studios are looking to match it both because it is the right thing and also because the movies will appeal more to the the diverse audience around the globe. He brought the example of The Martians in which the cast was very diverse. Ridley Scott chose them because they were best for the role.

    Where the industry is lacking is behind the camera. He expressed Fox’s support for “The Ghetto Film School,” which is a program for high schooler filmmakers in disadvantage areas of NYC and LA to learn without cost to them. In terms of gender, four out of the five top positions of the creative divisions at Fox are women (big applause here from NYFA females!).

    When asked where a young filmmaker should start in order to get the attention of the bigger studios, Mr. Gianopulos told the student that Fox doesn’t “take unsolicited material,” so the students should “keep making stuff and keep networking relentlessly until [they] get noticed by an agent who can submit for you.” He candidly told students “I worked my a– off in between the lucky breaks.”

    When asked what trait that he found most useful, he considered the question for a moment, and then said that “I’ve been trying to put humility to work.” He also said to “have trust in the people you work with.”

    After the Q&A, students were treated to a trailer for the film X-Men: Apocalypse on the big screen.

    March 25, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 2197

  • NYFA Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate with Industry Pitch-Fest

    On September 17th, 2015, graduating MFA, BFA, and AFA New York Film Academy Screenwriting students attended their culminating Industry Pitch-Fest Event, held at the Andaz Hotel up on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    pitch fest

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone event celebrated the New York Film Academy’s graduating MFA, BFA, and AFA Screenwriting students, offering them a professional outlet to jumpstart their careers by pitching their thesis projects to industry executives.

    These writing students, having spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting III class preparing and fine-tuning their pitches for their thesis film and TV projects, shined on this pinnacle evening, leaving with new professional contacts and a flurry of interest in the scripts they’d worked so hard on all year.

     

    screenwriting pitch

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, this group of bright students brought their A-game, as they pitched agents, managers and production company representatives in a relaxed, round-table environment.

    Hosted by NYFA’s Business of Screenwriting curriculum head, David O’Leary, in conjunction with NYFA’s Screenwriting Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and Associate Chair Adam Finer, the event featured representatives from various Hollywood companies.

     

    screenwriting pitch fest

    Attendees included Hollywood literary agencies and management companies, including representatives from ICM, BenderSpink, Underground Management, and Next Level Entertainment, as well film and TV production companies, including Original Film, Marc Platt Productions, Taggart Productions, Closed on Monday / Oni Press, and Bright Whale Entertainment, amongst others.

    NYFA wishes to thank its participants, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our May ’14 MFA, BFA and AFA graduates!

    Onwards and upwards!

    September 24, 2015 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 2856

  • Joanne Horowitz, Talent Manager to Kevin Spacey & Scott Eastwood, Speaks at NYFA

    Students gathered in the Welles Screening Room at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus to participate in a Q&A with renowned talent manager Joanne Horowitz, whose clients include former NYFA guest speaker, Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and up and comer Scott Eastwood. The discussion was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA acting instructor Melissa Sullivan.

    joanne horowitz

    Talent Manager, Joanne Horowitz

    The room was packed with NYFA actors eager to hear some tricks of the talent trade from one of the industry’s top managers (she was just honored as Manager of the Year by her peers), and Joanne was eager to share her wealth of knowledge with the students. One of the most resonating bits of advice for aspiring actors was to relish the audition process. Forget thinking of auditions as simply a means to an end, but rather take joy in it as an opportunity to act. Success will eventually only come to the actor who loves acting—not focusing on landing the role. Joanne also stressed the importance of keeping your spirits high in between auditions and during inevitable dry spells of work. She said having another passion in life, whether it be photography, playing an instrument, supporting a cause, etc., is essential. Acting is a difficult career path; be easy on yourself, and take a break from it if you have to.

    horowitz

    Melissa Sullivan, Tova Laiter and Joanne Horowitz

    Joanne spoke at length about her time representing Kevin Spacey and Scott Eastwood, and her unlikely foray into management. Earlier in her career, Joanne worked at Studio 54 and was VP of publicity and marketing for Universal film studio doing PR for Alec Baldwin, Christopher Reeve and briefly Robert Downey Jr. One day, Kevin Spacey, then a struggling actor in off-off-Broadway theater, asked her to be his manager. Joanne took a leap of faith because she believed in his talent and never took no for an answer.

    It’s been quite a job negotiating for the two-time Oscar winner and now Netflix series star, but Joanne has concentrated just as much energy on fostering young, up-and-coming talent Scott Eastwood, whom she met while he was living in Hawaii, years before he decided to act. She stayed in contact with Scott and, when he eventually moved to LA, Joanne put him in acting classes, insisting that nobody talk about his association with his famous father. Now Scott has made his way onto the A-list roster, having landed roles in movies like Fury and The Longest Ride. Some of Joanne’s other budding stars include Gavin Stenhouse (Allegiance) and Claudia Lee (Hart of Dixie, Kick-Ass 2).

    horowitz

    In addition to managing, Joanne’s other passion is animals. A tireless advocate and organizer for animal rights, Joanne specifically focuses her efforts on protecting African elephants and rhinos from poaching. She received a standing ovation from like minded animal lovers.

    We sincerely thank Joanne Horowitz for visiting NYFA and we wish her the best of luck in all of her management and animal rights endeavors!

    August 26, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 6107

  • BFA Filmmaking Student Screens “The Script” at Bucheon Fantastic Film Fest

    chang park

    Chang Hyun Park

    We’d like to congratulate one of our BFA Filmmaking students at New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Chang Hyun Park, whose short film The Script screened at the 19th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. BiFan is a Korean film festival that redefines the fantasy genre films. The festival, which includes 235 total films from 45 different countries, runs from July 16 – 26. 

    In the film, his main character, a screenwriter named William, deals with the stress of severe writer’s block. Park describes his film as a “twisted” film with a focus on schizophrenia.

    Originally from South Korea, Park had been studying film in his home country but never had the opportunity to actually make a film! “I usually studied about film in front of desk,” recalled Park. “But I really wanted to make a movie and knew NYFA was known for its hands-on filmmaking programs and its commitment to providing high quality equipment to make a movie.”

    the script

    After his one-year filmmaking program at NYFA NYC, Park decided to continue his film education by pursuing a BFA degree at NYFA Los Angeles.

    After he graduates, he hopes to use his showcase his films in order to get work in Hollywood as a writer/director. With a film already making the festival circuits as a student, we think he has a great chance to succeed.

    July 23, 2015 • Film School, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3517

  • NYFA’s Kenneth Johnson Provides Students with 40 Years of Film & TV Experience

    johnson on mike douglas

    NYFA LA Instructor Kenneth Johnson on “The Mike Douglas Show”

    The New York Film Academy believes that a crucial element toward maintaining its intensive hands-on programs is having instructors with industry access and real life experience in the field he or she teaches. Los Angeles Filmmaking instructor Kenneth Johnson knocks those requirements out of the park. Johnson has been a successful writer-producer-director of film and television for over 40 years. Creator of the landmark original miniseries V, he also produced The Six Million Dollar Man and created such iconic, Emmy-winning series as The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk and Alien Nation.

    Referred to as Kenny by those who know him well, Johnson trained in classic theater at Carnegie Mellon University, and had early success as a producer-director of live TV in New York. At only age 25, he became Executive Producer and Showrunner for the legendary, talk-variety program The Mike Douglas Show, which won an Emmy under his leadership.

    bixby johnson

    Kenneth Johnson with Bill Bixby

    Moving to California, Kenneth produced and directed several TV specials including Vincent Price in an Evening of Edgar Allan Poe and two top-rated documentaries for ABC: Alan King in Las Vegas. He became the youngest writer-producer-director at Universal Studios when he joined The Six Million Dollar Man where he created the Emmy-winning Bionic Woman. He was Showrunner of both Top Ten bionic series simultaneously. He then created The Incredible Hulk, yet another iconic, long-running Emmy-winner for which he penned Bill Bixby’s now-famous line, “Don’t make me angry…you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

    In the 1980s, Kenneth continued to cement his place in television by unveiling his epic alien invasion miniseries V. It was critically acclaimed and he received a Writers Guild Nomination. His original miniseries V stands as the highest-rated work of science fiction in television history.

    In the 90’s Kenneth created the Alien Nation TV movie-pilot which became an Emmy-winning series and five subsequent Emmy-nominated TV movies. Throughout his career, Kenneth has directed notable television movies for all the major networks including the top-rated Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and Don’t Look Under The Bed for Disney.

    V

    Johnson on the set of “V”

    Other TV movies include Sherlock Holmes Returns for CBS, which brought him a nomination for the Edgar Allen Poe Award from The Mystery Writers of America.

    Kenneth also directed the feature films Steel and Short Circuit 2. Beyond his film and television work, he has written the novels An Affair of State, V The Original Miniseries and V The Second Generation, published in four editions.

    Needless to say, it’s an honor to have Mr. Johnson teach filmmaking at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles for the past six years—his insight is invaluable.

    “Having had the opportunity to present my seminar at numerous other film schools and universities, I have continually been most impressed by the students at NYFA” says Johnson. “The majority of them have a strong desire and determination to succeed in this very tough business. Their attentiveness is always good and their questions probing and thoughtful. Plus we have fun together.”

    Johnson initially contacted NYFA Los Angeles Director Dan Mackler about being a resource for NYFA LA because he believed he could provide students with something that is often missing in academic settings: what it’s like to actually be in “The Trenches” of filmmaking. As Johnson puts it, he can provide, “What it’s like to be boots-on-the-ground doing the work. Including the prep necessary, a wealth of smart insights from my career producing and directing TV and features, plus useful tools I’ve created over the years that can benefit them. And I do it with gusto, laughs (often at myself) and a gazillion visuals: miles of behind the scenes footage, storyboards, etc., to show exactly how we accomplished the finished work.”

    Kenneth Johnson

    Johnson’s advice begins as soon as you walk into his first class. The very first thing he asks his students is if they love this business. Of course, every student will nod affirmatively, but then he makes it clearer: “Do you REALLY LOVE IT?! —because if you don’t love it like breathing, you can’t succeed and you’d be wise to step away.” At the end of the final session, Johnson gives his students a multi-page handout called “Getting a Gig,” which contains every bit of advice he’s amassed on that important subject over the span of his career.

    When asked about today’s landscape, Johnson says, “I think there are more opportunities in TV simply because there is far more product necessary to feed the TV (read cable, web, streaming, etc.) audience’s infinite appetite. Far more TV and video projects get made every year than features. They also happen faster. TV is also a great place to learn your craft. When I started producing, writing and directing on the Bionic shows at Universal it was like grad school…with pay. TV is the greatest training in the world for making movies — or for waging war. If you can survive through the making of under-scheduled, under-budgeted, restrictive TV schedules, making a theatrical movie becomes a piece of cake. Just ask Joss Whedon or Steven Spielberg.”

    Johnson admits that the biggest challenge in our business is the constant rejection. “All of us in the arts get told no far more often than yes. Or even worse, we get told yes and then no — when the studio or network management changes while you’re in the midst of writing, prepping or even sometimes shooting. Francois Truffaut said he always tried to have at least three to five projects in development simultaneously —because he knew the odds were against more than one ever happening— and that one only if he was lucky.

    A filmmaker has to develop a thick skin and a determination (as Fred Astaire sang) “to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.”

    Those who are true survivors will indeed survive to try another day. Where there’s life there’s always hope.

    Johnson has three upcoming guest sessions for the MFA Producers group on July 9, 16, and 23 of 2015.

    May 1, 2015 • Filmmaking • Views: 3663