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  • Legendary ICM Agent Boaty Boatwright Speaks at NYFA NYC

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    The New York Film Academy recently welcomed distinguished ICM talent agent, Boaty Boatwright, who has been in the business for fifty years. Moderated by producer Tova Laiter, the gracious guest fielded questions from a packed theater of filmmaking, producing, and acting students at 17 Battery Place.

    boaty and tova

    Producer Tova Laiter with ICM Agent Boaty Boatwright at NYFA

    Boatwright began her career as a children’s casting assistant in New York for such iconic films as To Kill A Mockingbird and the original Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Boatwright also served as an executive for major film studios including MGM, Columbia, and Universal.

    As a casting agent, Boatwright worked closely with legendary directors including Norman Jewison, John Huston, Sydney Pollack, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ridley Scott.

    After moving into the role of a talent agent, Boatwright began representing directors such as Alan Pakula, Sidney Lumet, and notable actors, Joanne Woodward Paul Newman. Her current client list includes Stephen Frears (Academy Award Nomination), Tom Hooper (Academy Award Winner) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Academy Award Winner).

    While acknowledging how difficult the business can be to break in, Boatwright stressed the importance of pushing work at the film festivals, especially Toronto and Sundance. It is often the writer/directors job to be his or her own producer before gaining the attention of an agent. Most agents need to see proven work under a young filmmaker’s belt before they considering signing them. “Finding an agent is the hardest and most important part of the business,” she said.

    boaty

    Tova Laiter and Boaty Boatwright

    Several actors from the audience also inquired about being cast as foreigners in American films. Boatwright understood the challenges involved, but stressed the importance of owning your cultural background and finding roles that could highlight what it is that makes your audition different than what’s expected.

    Another fascinating moment of the evening came when Boatwright touched on a time she had worked with Alfred Hithcock, recalling the posh London hotel suites and expensive wine that Hitchcock would enjoy at lunch. In a time when California wine was just becoming popular Hitchcock told Boatwright, “I’ll never drink California wine.”

    Few can claim the amount of experience that Boatwright has had in the entertainment industry, which leaves us extremely thankful for the time she spent enlightening our students on the path ahead.

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    July 22, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 8462

  • Renowned Manager/Producer Ben Press Speaks at NYFA Los Angeles

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    Ben Press

    Students were thrilled to hear renowned manager and producer Ben Press speak this past Monday at New York Film Academy Los Angeles’s School for Acting. Ben’s radiant energy spread through the packed room as he entertained and enlightened students with stories from the Hollywood agency world and solid career advice to those starting out in the industry. Manager/Producer Ben Press started as assistant to legendary ICM agent Ed Limato and his roster of stars: Richard Gere, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Anthony Hopkins, Steve Martin, Nicolas Cage, Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando among others. As Paradigm Talent Department Co-Head, Ben packaged America’s Next Top Model, produced/hosted by Tyra Banks and negotiated the $1.5 million talent holding deal for William Baldwin (one of the industry’s most lucrative). Ben now manages clients Elle Macpherson, Rick Yune, Jennifer Esposito, as well as Taylor Swift’s future feature film acting career.

    Ben press never thought he’d work in entertainment. Off a whim and recommendation from a college friend, he landed an interview at ICM, one of the industry’s top agencies. The tradition in Hollywood agencies is to always start from the bottom. After nailing his interview with ICM, Ben did just that; his first job was literally working in the mailroom and pushing a cart. Being accepted into the agent trainee program at top agencies such as ICM, CAA and UTA, however, is a highly sought after position as mailroom workers are likely to be promoted within the company. Whereas the traditional route is to slowly climb the agency ladder, Ben took a different approach. Legendary ICM agent Ed Limato was who Ben wanted to work for and he didn’t want to wait in line to get that job. Ben convinced Mr. Limato’s current assistant to allow him to come into the office early and help him organize and plan for the day. This way Ben would know the ins and out of Ed Limato’s office and be prepared when his opportunity came. The way Ben Press’s opportunity did come is a twist of fate so far-fetched it’s hard to believe even within the context of Hollywood’s crazy world. Because of his determined nature, Ben had already made a name for himself at ICM in the short time he was there and landed an interview for the job of Ed Limato’s assistant when his former assistant was leaving. Ben was wary of his chances of getting the job, because he seemed to be the candidate with the least amount of experience. Soon after his interview, Ben came across a female agent trainee who had collapsed in the mailroom and wasn’t breathing. Luckily he had just learned CPR and immediately began performing it on her as he ordered the other trainee’s to call 911. Ben ended up saving the woman’s life. When Ed Limato got wind of the fact that Ben Press had saved someone’s life in the office he said, “I want THAT guy working for me!”

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    March 14, 2014 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 8047

  • How to Land a Literary Agent Out of Film School

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    Linne Radmin

    Tuesday night, we had a packed house at New York Film Academy Los Angeles for our guest speaker — brought in by Producer Tova Laiter — Literary Manager, Linne Radmin. Radmin spent seven years at ICM as a senior literary manager before founding the Radmin Company, a boutique literary management and production company based in Beverly Hills that represents screenwriters and directors. She has worked with a diverse range of clients which include Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Leslie Dixon (Mrs. Doubtfire), and Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street). The Radmin Company’s current clients include Student Academy Award winner Shawn Wines, who is working on a comedy pilot for Warner Bros, Cinco Paul and Ken Saurio (Despicable Me), Todd Alcott (Antz), and several more.

    When Linne was asked by Tova how she decides whom to represent, she responded, “I have to be in love with the work and believe that I can help the writer.” Tova then asked her to expand on how the writer/manager relationship works and how it’s formed; Linne responded, “Crafting a query! The initial letter – and it needs to be intelligent, clear, creative, decisive. Be bold, but not obnoxious.”

    The film school students, many of which were screenwriters, had very specific questions for Linne. Lawrence, a writer, wanted to know where in a screenplay does Linne expect to find the inciting incident. Linne, without hesitating, responded, “page 12 or 13!”

    She also admitted that although good writing is often timeless and just plain good, there are definitely topical trends which affect or are affected by the marketplace. Currently? “Rom-coms are out, emotional sci-fi is in!”

    Linne admitted that today’s market is tough for film school students and emerging writers, encouraging them to have both an agent and a manager. “Agencies have so scaled back – so better to have more voices in the marketplace by having both an agent and a manager, ideally a manager first. Eventually, also, a lawyer!”

    Linne added that in all of this, branding is highly important! When asked by a student how she sifts through all the material she examines she said, “Passion for the material coupled with an idea, notion, plan about how I can use this is the marketplace. Branding matters.”

    Asked by Diego, an MFA Filmmaking student from Columbia, how directors carve themselves out when looking for representation, she said, “Shoot, shoot and shoot! Put it online, do a webseries. Just keep shooting!” Having a reel is obviously of utmost importance for directors, whereas screenwriters should be more concerned with GOOD WRITING.

    Stephanie, a Swedish screenwriting student asked Linne what is important to think about for those looking for a manager. “Hopefully you will have choices here. You want to feel that the manager listens to your ideas. Also, what feels right is probably the way to go!” She also said it’s okay to be your own advocate, “If you feel your manager’s involvement is too little or too much, speak up!”

    About the influx of lucrative quality television, Linne said, “Now some managers are strictly working in TV, but less are only in features. There is some great programing on TV now, so it’s good to be open.”

    Asked by a student about getting into a TV writing room, Linne admitted this is highly competitive and usually the Showrunner (Executive Producer of TV show) hires his or her writers.

    Some general tips that came out during the evening:

    1. Become a writer’s assistant if you can

    2. Agents and managers should take 10%

    3. Enter legitimate writing contests

    4. Brand yourself! Once you have a hit, you will have more freedom to write something within a different genre

    Linne also noted that the Radmin Company is always looking for interns!

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    January 17, 2014 • Film School, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 7596

  • Randall Emmett Recounts His Journey to Mega-Producer Status

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    Emmett

    Producer Randall Emmett

    Last week, prolific film producer, Randall Emmett spoke to New York Film Academy students, providing them with some valuable insider Hollywood advice. Beforehand, Randall screened his most recently released film, Escape Plan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, which premiered only four days before. The film, with its mega-star personas and epic action scenes, was a good compliment to a larger than life producer like Randall Emmett.

    Randall has produced over seventy feature films and has at any time five films in different stages of production. With a reputation for packaging movies and getting them made, Emmett’s films have been both box office ‘hits’ and acclaimed works, debuting at Sundance, Berlin and Toronto, with many nominated for Independent Spirit Awards. Randall’s films include 2 Guns (starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg), End of Watch (starring Jake Gyllenhaal), Righteous Kill (starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro), 88 Minutes, The Amityville Horror, and Narc among many.

    As a kid, Randall was obsessed with acting and would make short films with the family’s home video camera on the weekends. After spending a summer in high school as a PA on a movie set, Randall realized he wanted to work behind the camera and decided to attend film school in New York for college. In a sea of aspiring directors, Randall was the only student who wanted to produce. At the time, producing didn’t really exist as a discipline or specialty, so Randall learned through “trail by fire.” Starting in his sophomore year, he produced an abundance of his senior classmates’ thesis projects, offering to deliver their films for five thousand dollars. Randall would go to extremes, far beyond the efforts of the average film student to get the best equipment rates, locations, and actors for his director. He would wear numerous hats to finish the film, acting as producer, AD, production manager, casting director, etc.

    Randall described the incredible amount of work he performed in school not as a burden, but a “magical experience,” because he was so in love with filmmaking. In his senior year, Randall took the highly unconventional route and chose to make a feature for his thesis. He wanted to leave school with what he believed would be a real product. Randall and his thesis team asked everyone for money, scraping together about twenty-five thousand dollars to make the film. Shooting a feature on 16mm film for such little money was a huge feat at the time, but Randall pulled it off. After moving to Los Angeles, he actually sold the film he made in college.

    The famous Aaron Spelling, a mentor of Randall’s, encouraged him to work at an agency. Although Randall was opposed to working in an office, he took this advice and worked at ICM. This proved to be invaluable experience as he learned how agencies, the center of Hollywood’s universe, operated. Meanwhile, he met Mark Wahlberg through an acquaintance. They hit it off and became friends, because they both shared a passion for movies. Later, Randall left ICM and took a job Mark Wahlberg offered him to be his personal assistant. The show Entourage, which Mark Wahlberg created, is based on his crazy life with Randall as he was a rising movie star in Hollywood.

    Randall had been trying to package movies throughout his time in Los Angeles. After he finished his assistant work with Mark Wahlberg, Randall found himself broke and sleeping on his friend’s couch in his late twenties. At this point he had been led astray countless times by “investors” that ended up never having a penny to their name. However, Randall didn’t give up, and finally met George Furla who ended up funding his first feature in Los Angeles. They have been producing partners ever since.

    Randall’s story is one of the underdog independent producers that now dominate Hollywood. His main message to students was to always believe in yourself no matter what level you’re at. This type of excitement attracts others and opens doors. It was Randall’s extreme positive energy that had students falling in love with him all evening as he told his story. Randall Emmett is just one of those people who you want to see succeed and we wish him continued success in the future.

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    October 30, 2013 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 28639