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  • Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos Speaks With New York Film Academy

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    Last Friday, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor to be invited to the Netflix Sunset-Bronson Studios for a preview screening of Netflix upcoming series The Innocents followed by an exclusive Q&A with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.

    Ted has led content acquisition for Netflix since 2000. Since 2013, he led the company’s transition into original streaming content with the launch of House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black, among numerous other series. Ted has been recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2013, and as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution. Netflix executive Matthew Thunell introduced the pilot. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the afternoon.

    Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Laiter opened the conversation by asking Mr. Sarandos about his unique start in the film industry, from community college for journalism, to running movie rental stores, to where he is now. “It’s a super unlikely path,” Mr. Sarandos said, “I’m always reluctant to give my path… as it wouldn’t make any sense for anyone to try to follow.”

    The conversation moved to Netflix’s first original release, the wildly successful House of Cards. Mr. Sarandos spoke fondly of working with David Fincher, saying “He’s exacting. I love, more than anything, somebody who knows what they want, knows what’s important and what isn’t. David never had a wasted conversation or a wasted argument about anything during production.” He also talked about the initial meeting. They pitched Fincher an offer he couldn’t refuse: two seasons of a TV show, with no pilot, and no notes. The only restriction was that he would have to put his name on it. “The bet was that someone who really cared about their brand would really make it great if you gave him the freedom to do that. And that’s what we did.”

    One student asked what advice he would give his younger self, just starting out in the industry. Mr. Sarandos talked about how far Netflix and the industry as a whole has come and continue to change. “I don’t know that I ever would have seen far enough ahead to say ‘You should do this, and not that.’ The main thing is, I think, is to be incredibly nimble.”

    Tova Laiter & Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Tova Laiter & Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Laiter ended the Q&A by asking what quality Ted felt led the most to his success. He answered, “Probably curiosity. It’s not necessarily what you know, it’s what you’re willing to figure out… Being humble enough to ask, and not being afraid to look dumb, is how you learn.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Sarandos for inviting us to Netflix for this amazing Q&A.

    The Innocents will be streaming starting August 24th – only on Netflix.

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    July 25, 2018 • Guest Speakers • Views: 2314

  • Robin Wright Directs NYFA Alumna’s “The Dark of Night,” Which Premiered at Cannes

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailBeginning her career in Los Angeles as a literary agent assistant at the William Morris Agency in 1982, Denise Meyers always felt the drive to pursue screenwriting as her main career in life.

    “I thought that since I’d watched hundreds of movies growing up, I understood what went in to a good screenplay,” said Meyers in an interview with the Black List. “I wasn’t a terrible writer, but I wasn’t a great writer either.”

    the dark of night

    still from “The Dark of Night”

    After 12 years of exhausting her contacts with her material and getting nowhere fast, Meyers moved onto a different career as a gourd artist, but, at the end of the day, her heart wasn’t in it as much as screenwriting.

    “I set a goal for myself to learn how to write screenplays the way they are supposed to be written, with no expectation that I would ever get any farther in the film business than I had ever been before,” said Meyers. “I wanted to master the art form, in the same way I taught myself how to work with gourds.”

    Meyers took advantage of an 8-Week Screenwriting scholarship at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, where she hoped to truly master the craft.

    “I won an eight-week screenwriting scholarship to NYFA a few years ago, and the experience was invaluable,” she said. “I use everything I learned at NYFA in every script I have written since then, and it has helped elevate my career beyond what it was before.”

    Since attending NYFA, Meyers has won a number of screenwriting competitions, including a spot on the Athena List (with a script she wrote at NYFA), the Atlanta Film Festival, Table Read My Screenplay Austin, and several others.

    From there, she wrote a short screenplay called “The Dark of Night,” which won the grand prize at Table Read My Screenplay Austin in 2015.
    the dark of night
    “Denise Carlson, an instructor at NYFA, told me about a short script writing contest she had plans to participate in called the NYC Midnight Short Screenwriting Contest,” Meyers recalls. “Twelve hundred people from across the globe signed up to participate, so there were groups of 40 people each who were given a genre, a character and a setting. My group received the following prompts; suspense, a diner, and an unemployed man or woman. We had eight days to write 12 pages, then, if we survived each heat, we were given a new genre, character and setting. I came up with the idea almost immediately, though God knows where it came from. The story is set in 1930. A woman on her way to Chicago for a job interview seeks refuge in the diner where she encounters a waitress, a drifter, and a cop, each with dark and dangerous secret.”

    Meyers gave the script to Robin Wright’s assistant and, before she knew it, she was getting a call from Wright who wanted to direct the film, along with some of her cast members from “House of Cards.” In fact, 80 crew members from “House of Cards” signed on to work on the film including the director of photography, Dave Dunlap, and costume designer, Jessica Wenger. Boris Maldin, the producer of “House of Cards,” loaned his cameras and equipment.

    the dark of night

    Robin Wright with Denise Meyers

    After that, Leslie Bibb, Sam Rockwell, Callie Thorne and Michael Godere signed on to act in the film for scale.

    Meyer’s “The Dark of Night” recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The black and white film noir is about a woman seeking refuge from a storm who takes matters into her own hands when she encounters a drifter and a waitress at an isolated diner where everyone has a secret and nothing is what it seems.

    Meyers says she just finished a one-hour pilot episode based on “The Dark of Night” that she is developing with TV producer Michelle Rubenstein. She also completed a new feature about Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney that she hopes to get in front of Brad Pitt, and is currently working on a World War II drama about a battle in the Pacific that only a handful of people know about. Finally, she’s working on a web series based on her experiences as an award-winning screenwriter who still fixes toilets for a living.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • Netflix Announces Premiere Dates for Orange is the New Black and Wet Hot American Summer

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    Already binge-watched all of House of Cards’ season three and find yourself scrambling for more streaming content to devour? Don’t worry—Netflix has you covered. The media giant announced this week the announce dates for three of their original series, as well as several other projects.

    The first premiere announced is June 5 for Sense8, the anticipated series by The Matrix creators Andy and Lana Wachowski, which recently made headlines with news that it would be incorporating footage of live births. It will be followed by Orange is the New Black—Netflix’s critically and audience-adored original series that isn’t House of Cards—which will overload FCC-protected bandwidths on June 12. Shortly after that, appropriately amidst a hot summer, a star-studded series sequel to Wet Hot American Summer will debut on July 17.

    Netflix has been making waves for some time now in its push to become a major league original content creator on the same level as television networks and even movie studios. It looks to be living up to that potential already this year with these original series as well as the Canadian thriller Between, the comedy specials Chris D’Elia: Incorrigible and Jen Kirkman: I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine), and the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone. With a ton more content currently being produced by Netflix, it’s only a matter of time before every week brings about a new premiere, so clear your schedules while you can.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 3, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3299