inception
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  • Oscar Winner Wally Pfister Talks Chris Nolan

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    Over 400 students signed up to attend Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister’s Q&A in after the screening of Inception for New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. The atmosphere in the room could only be described as a rock concert. And though Pfister was recovering from a bout of food poisoning, he wasn’t going to let down the auditorium full of excited students, who greeted him with cheers of “Wally! Wally!” He spoke about his long-time collaboration with Chris Nolan, saying, “Chris is an incredible storyteller and incredible screenwriter.”

    Following an interview with producer Tova Laiter and Cinematography Chair Michael Pessah, Pfister took questions directly from the students who lined up in what can only be described as a conga line to ask the master about his work. “You have to take risks,” he said. “That’s what will make your career last longer. You have to fight to get your vision on the screen (but not fight with your director).”

    Besides winning the Oscar for Inception in 2011, Wally also garnered Oscar nominations for The Dark KnightThe Prestige, and Batman Begins, and is well known for his work on Insomnia, The Italian Job, Moneyball, Memento, and The Dark Knight Rises.

    MFA Screenwriting student Jordan Farrester said, “It was great to be there with someone who has worked on some of the biggest films of the past ten years. He was really thoughtful and insightful, and had a lot to say about the industry and his vision.”

    Pfister’s latest project is his feature film directorial debut, Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp, and written by NYFA instructor Jack Paglen. The film is slated for release in 2014.

     

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    January 31, 2013 • Academic Programs, Cinematography, Guest Speakers • Views: 6359

  • Producer Chris Brigham and His Road to "Inception"

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    Chris Brigham NYFAChris Brigham isn’t your typical “Hollywood” producer, which comes as a surprise, considering he produced global blockbusters such as Inception, The Aviator, and Analyze This. He doesn’t even live in Hollywood.“New York is a great place for a producer right now, especially with the tax breaks. There are more shows here now, which means more jobs.” Aspiring filmmakers looking to develop stories, however, should still consider Los Angeles. Everyone’s path will be different. It’s up to each individual to recognize which is one’s true calling.“Not everyone will have the chops for this business.”

    As the guest speaker for our Q&A on Thursday, Chris shared with us his journey from a P.A. in New York to the Hollywood powerhouse he is today. Hustling his way to the top, there was much to be learned in terms of film production. Most importantly, he learned quite a bit about dealing with people, which is something he credits to the Teamsters.The motto? “Money talks. Bullshit walks.” New York is a ‘show me’ city where you have to back up what you’re saying. Chris realized his ability in handling people and their problems was a valuable skill in the industry. Soon he began finding steady work as a line producer.

    So what is a line producer? “It’s a critical job. You are the eyes and the ears managing the movie. Being a line producer demands entrepreneurial skills.”Highlighting some of the details of his job, one learns it’s not your typical 9 to 5. Being a freelance line producer requires a lot of travel, networking, and wisdom to find the right project. “It’s better to work on quality projects but it’s a lot of hard work.”

    His recommendation for filmmaking success? “Get your foot in the door. Make phone calls and start out as a P.A. on set.” Eventually you’ll build a reputation and, who knows, you may end up waking up one day with a call from Christopher Nolan’s team to work on Inception. Luck may play a part, however, this game is a foot-race and the last person standing is the one who makes it in this business. Whether it’s writing, directing, acting or producing, there are thousands of people trying to do the same thing you want to do. The key is not losing sight of your dreams.

    What about maintaining a family and some sort of normalcy? Chris recounted some of his struggles balancing career and family. He recalled a shoot in Montreal where he drove six hours to see his wife and kids on the weekends. Character is indispensable. It seems kindness, too, can pay off in a business with a bad reputation for its conceited personalities.

    Twitter was abuzz for Brigham’s appearance. Irrefutably, the most submitted question of the night was “Is film school worth it?” In response, Chris cited his very first film class in college learning about Fellini and Kurosawa. It sparked his passion for the craft. He encouraged our students to collaborate, build bonds, and sustain a network. In this industry, it’s crucial to meet the right people. Create a foundation for yourself. Film school is what you make of it.

    After the Q&A, Chris handled individual students with personal questions, ranging from “Can I meet Christopher Nolan?” to “How do I get my screenplay funded?” Chris stayed for a good 45 minutes afterwards, patiently handling questions and proving to us how integrity can go a long way.

    Chris Brigham Q&A at NYFA

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    March 5, 2012 • Producing • Views: 6502