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  • Filmmaking Grad Jesse Kove Helps Save the World in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

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    It’s not easy forging your own path in independent film, but New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking grad Jesse Kove has blazed a trail straight into the hearts of video game and ‘80s film fans with the upcoming adventure flick Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    The film recently wrapped in Arizona, and Kove took the time out of his busy schedule to tell the NYFA Blog more about his work, his exciting projects, and what’s next. Check out what he has to say:

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    JK: My journey started as a young boy growing up in the film business around my father, (Martin Kove). I was six months old and on movies sets, and I still remember vividly today all the different film sets I’ve been on around the country, and the world that my father brought me along with — traveling with him or visiting him when he was on location was always my favorite thing. It was like going to Disneyland for me, the make-believe. It was always something different, whether [a film was set] in the future or going back in time to the West, I always loved it.

    One of my favorite trips was to India. We had an unforgettable time together. They filmed in Hyderabad, where they literally have a city just for filmmaking. I would travel on my own and walk around and look at all the backdrops and different film sets and feel right at home. I would watch the filmmaking process as well, and ask lots of questions. This was the best education a young filmmaker could get and I was very fortunate to have these opportunities.

    Back home I would make my own little movies with action figures and G.I. Joes. That’s how it all started. I would also copy what I saw in classic movies that my father and I would watch together, The Seventh Samurai, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and Casablanca, all the classics! Making movies is in my blood and its been my passion since early childhood.

    NYFA: Growing up in a show-business family, was there anything that you learned in your time at NYFA that surprised you?

    JK: What I loved so much about NYFA that I didn’t get enough of on film sets was actually learning the basics and history of film cameras, and actually shooting on real film. This was very special, and I was so grateful for NYFA to allow us to do that.

    Also just truly understanding how a digital camera works — the inner workings and technical aspects of all cameras. This is so important, these tools create great filmmakers! It is the knowledge and technology of filmmaking, and they’ve got it down!

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    JK: There are so many memories of when I was at NYFA. The fondest memories were the relationships and time I had with fellow students — who I am still friends with today. In the industry, relationships are everything!

    NYFA: Can you tell us about Max Reload and the Nether Blasters? What drew you to this project?

    JK:  Max Reload and the Nether Blasters:

    A small town video game store clerk must go from zero to hero after accidentally unleashing the forces of evil from a cursed Colecovision game… Max Jenkins’ gaming fantasies collide with reality when a legendary “lost” installment of the Nether Game series appears on the store counter of his workplace, Fallout Games. Unbeknownst to Max, the game bears a “Curse of The Ages”, and in playing it, he has just unlocked the Nether, an ancient malevolent force of evil from the cartridge, upon his small hometown. Along with a mysterious masked man and his two best friends, Liz and Reggie, Max must figure out how to beat the Nether at its own game before its Game Over for humanity.

    This is a great project that I’m very excited about. The inception actually started two years before this film was written. Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp, the writers, directors, and producers, (CineForge Media) had written a short film called Show No Mercy, starring my father and me.

    The idea behind the short was all ‘80s galore and nostalgia: The story follows an arcade store owner (my father) who secretly is John Kreese, his character from The Karate Kid (although never mentioned, that’s a nice Easter egg for everyone), and his young store clerk (me), who both end up getting sucked into an arcade game. They have to fight each other to escape.

    It’s an extremely well done short and I highly recommend everyone go and watch it. The film premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada as well as the Phoenix Comic Fest in Arizona. Making that film was such a fun and creative experience, we all wanted to work together again as soon as possible. Thus, Max Reload came to fruition.

    I got a call from Scott asking if I’d read his new script. I instantly fell in love with it and knew it had huge potential. They had written a character (Steve) basically based on me, but I won’t say too much because you will have to go watch it!

    There are some stellar actors attached to this film, both new and veteran — Greg Grunberg, who is a riot; Hassie Harrison; Lin Shay from the Insidious films; Kevin Smith, who graciously tagged along as he loves indie films, this one caught his eye and we were very lucky to get him; Joseph Reitman; Tom Plumley; Joey Morgan; and of course my father.

    The film will be released around September.

    NYFA: Were you a big fan of video games growing up? Do you have a favorite?

    JK: Absolutely a huge fan of games! Some of my great memories were getting together with my childhood friends and playing games like Halo, 007, NFL Blitz — anything Nintedo 64 was our go-to!  

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you as a performer?

    JK: Acting is such an interesting art. It’s a wonderful journey that’s always changing. I love playing characters that inspire myself and others, I love to make the audience laugh, and I love to tell stories.

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Making movies changes you. You aren’t the same person at the beginning as you are at the end. You’ve learned so much and walked a road that your character has walked in some way, and that connects you forever. It’s living life with these characters: I’ve cried, loved, been through war, kicked ass, been killed and hated, admired, frightened, and have saved lives, plus so much more. It is the hardest but most beautiful, fulfilling work I can ask for and I can’t get enough of it!

    NYFA: What was your experience like serving as both a producer and an actor on As Night Comes?

    JK: As Night Comes was a great experience. I learned a lot from making this film and I owe a lot to my producing partner, Richard Z., who directed and wrote the script for this film. Without him pushing this film up the mountain, it would not have been made. In saying that, I think it’s so important to surround yourself with others who are willing to climb that mountain with you, no matter the odds. I was willing to do that with him.

    We started that movie with literally $200-300 and Subway sandwiches, and finished off by getting a limited theatrical release with our distributor, Gravitas Ventures. We were put on 20 of the 25 major VOD platforms that we have today. That film showed me that anything is possible with enough effort, drive, and belief in what you are doing. Most importantly, you have to have a great script — and we did. That brought a great team behind us.

    Lastly, I love being in front of the camera and behind the camera. Either way, you are still shaping a story. Wearing both hats can be challenging, but I urge everyone to try both. It actually makes you a better actor and or a better director to have been on both sides!

    NYFA: Any advice for our acting students who are looking to produce their own work?   

    JK: Persistence and believing. Believe in what you are doing!

    Through all my experiences, believing in the project, the story, and the character will always carry you through. Making movies is incredibly difficult, and one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. But it is also the most fun you will ever have, from the idea to a year or two later watching it on a screen after post and etc. It’s a journey, and a spiritual journey as well. You are forever connected to that project, and immortalizing something you’ve created … its forever!

    There’s a lot of naysayers in our business, whether it’s about money or what’s popular. Do not take no for an answer. Think outside the box, and get it done!

    When As Night Comes was being made, everyone told us we couldn’t do this or we couldn’t do that. It ended up fueling our passion for getting it made. Yes, you can do that, and yes, you can make your movie, and get it released, and have the world enjoy it!

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Also, this art is a craft. It must be practiced and changed and molded constantly. Keep at it! I still do, and I’m not perfect!

    Also be relentless and fearless. I have been on the phone with some of the biggest studios and top agents and or managers in Hollywood because I wasn’t afraid to pick up the phone and call them. You have nothing to lose.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    JK: I have several projects coming out this year, one of which is Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    Bring Me a Dream, which was shot in Atlanta, is a thriller directed by Chase Smith. I play a cop who stumbles upon a mansion in the woods and gets sucked into a supernatural wave of psychological mystery. It’s a fun take on the Sandman, played by Tyler Mane (X-Men, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II), as a supernatural spirit who injects himself into your dreams and brings out your biggest fears. Very fun!    

    In Bare Knuckle Brawler, directed by Joe Gawalis and filmed in New Jersey, I play a detective who goes undercover as a streetfighter to infiltrate an underground organization in which fighters are turning up dead.

    Next I co-star with my father in a TV pilot called Bloodlands, which follows Arizona detectives who may or may not be on both sides of the law, dealing with drug and human trafficking.

    Also, check out On Wings of Eagles, a World War II drama that I shot in China, starring Joseph Fiennes. It’s the unofficial sequel to Chariots of Fire and now you can watch on Amazon.

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  • ‘Layover’ Released on VOD Today

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    Layover

    The acclaimed independent feature film Layover, written and directed by Joshua Caldwell, released via VOD on October 13th through their self-release platform at www.layoverfilm.com. The film is available as a streaming rental, a download or several levels of ‘DIY Filmmaker Bundle,’ which includes the film plus bonus content, interviews, commentary, filmmaking apps, software and more. Layover premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival where it was nominated for the prestigious FIPRESCI New American Cinema Award. The film stars Nathalie Fay (Hangover), Karl E. Landler (Syfy’s Metal Hurlant Chronicles), Bella Dayne, and Hal Ozsan (NBC’s The Black List) and was recorded in English and French with English subtitles.

    About Layover:
    Simone, a cynical, young Parisian on her way to Singapore to get married, is forced to spend the night in Los Angeles when her connecting flight is cancelled. After contacting Juliette, an old friend with marital issues, the two head out for a night of fun with some of Juliette’s friends. When Juliette leaves the club with a stranger, Simone finds herself alone, downtown with no ride. The arrival of a handsome and mysterious motorcyclist changes everything. With his help, Simone navigates her way through the Los Angeles night-light of after-parties, beautiful people and endless lights. Over the course of her adventure, Simone begins to question whether or not the life she is leading is the one she actually wants. Will she make her connection?

    About Joshua Caldwell:
    Joshua Caldwell is an accomplished director, writer, producer, and MTV Movie Award winner. He has worked with a number of high-profile producers, including CSI: creator Anthony E. Zuiker, for whom he produced ‘Cybergeddon’, the online global motion picture event for Yahoo!, and directed all of the film’s ancillary content for its immersive website. His award-winning short film ‘Dig’, starring Mark Margolis of ‘Breaking Bad’, was featured in numerous film festivals, and his latest short ‘Resignation’ screened at Comic-Con. His debut feature film ‘Layover’ World Premiered at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival where it was nominated for the New American Cinema Award. Joshua currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with his wife Danielle, son Austin, and rescue dog Hadley.

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    October 13, 2014 • Community Highlights • Views: 3332

  • “Affluenza” Screening with Director Kevin Asch and Screenwriter Antonio Macia at Warner Bros.

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    affluenza

    This week, New York Film Academy Los Angeles students had the opportunity to see a sneak peek screening of the highly anticipated indie film Affluenza at Warner Bros. Studios followed by a Q&A, moderated by Tova Laiter, with the director Kevin Asch and screenwriter Antonio Macia.

    The film follows aspiring photographer Fisher Miller (Ben Rosenfield) who in the summer of 2008 escapes for the moneyed mansions of Great Neck, while applying to college in Manhattan. Finding himself on the outside looking in at his beautiful cousin Kate’s (Nicola Peltz) circle of indulged friends, he ingratiates himself with high-quality weed and a vintage camera to document their hard-partying exploits until the financial hit, and the glamorous veneer implodes.

    Kevin Asch (Director and Producer) develops and produces projects through his Lookbook Films production company, including Asch’s feature directorial debut, Holy Rollers. The film premiered in the dramatic competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, was released in North America to critical acclaim and played in theaters worldwide throughout 2011. For this debut, Asch won Breakthrough Director at the 2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards and Most Promising New Director at the 2010 Deauville American Film Festival. Antonio Macia (Writer and Co-Producer) has more than 10 years of experience as an independent filmmaker. In 2003, he wrote and co-starred in his first feature, Anne B. Real. This coming-of-age drama won several prizes and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.

    Kevin Asch and Antonio Macia embody the spirit of true indie filmmakers. The two films they’ve collaborated on to date, Affluenza and Holy Rollers, were passion projects of theirs from the films’ first conception. They make movies for one simple reason and one alone—they LOVE it. This is an obvious fact when you hear them speak. They have a “no matter what” attitude when it comes to seeing their films brought to life and their enthusiasm for filmmaking is downright contagious.

    Kevin and Antonio offered some true words of wisdom for aspiring filmmakers. For instance, although Kevin and Antonio consider themselves equal partners, when on set Kevin is captain of the ship because he is the director. They stressed the importance of maintaining one voice of authority in front of the cast and crew. So if Antonio has a suggestion for Kevin while shooting, he will quietly pull him aside and offer the idea. They advise actors to research the filmmakers they audition for. Nothing is more of a turnoff for a director than if the actor who’s reading for them doesn’t have a clue as to who they are or what they’ve done. A little investigation in this respect can go a long way. Kevin and Antonio also recommended to students to not allow fundraising for movies to intimidate them. They raised over a million dollars for Affluenza. Instead of asking themselves whether they could raise one million dollars, which seems like an impossibility, they viewed it as raising $50,000 twenty times. After exhausting their resources and contacts (and their contacts’ contacts) they realized it wasn’t as impossible as it seemed…

    Kevin Asch and Antonio Macia are already on to their next project—a movie entitled King’s Highway for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions, which Antonio is writing and Kevin is slated to direct. Set in the 1980s, this gritty crime drama centers on a former Mossad agent living in New York. We wish them continued success with this film and future ones that their passion is sure to bring them.

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    July 8, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 5892

  • NYFA Alum Raises 70k For First Feature

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    Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 12.28.06 PM

    Abigail Schwarz and Nicola Scandiffo

    New York Film Academy alumni, Abigail Schwarz, will be shooting her first feature film, Those Who Wander. The independent comedy, written and directed by Schwarz, is about growing up, growing apart and getting lost along the way. The project recently raised $70,000 through Kickstater and is gearing up for production. Signed on to the project thus far are producer Nicola Scandiffio, executive producer James Frey (Bestselling Author, A Million Little Pieces), cinematographer Elisha Christian (Save the Date), casting director Adrienne Stern (ASC Casting), Emmy Award Winning actress Anna Holbrook, and countless others.

    Abigail is currently still casting and looking for crew in NYC and LA, and the project is part of the SAG Ultra Low Budget Indie Agreement for low budget feature films.

    If you would like to be involved in the film in any context, please contact wanderproduction@gmail.com.

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    July 22, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5341

  • Sarah Louise Wilson’s Feature to Air on PBS This Weekend!

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    Actor Steve Talley in ‘The Accidental Death of Joey by Sue’

    New York Film Academy MFA Film student Sarah Louise Wilson is riding a wave of success. Her films have played at 30 festivals worldwide. Her first short film, which premiered 3 years ago at Frameline, continues to make the rounds on the festival circuit, and is used as an educational tool in classrooms. She wrote, produced, and starred in her first feature film, Jelly, alongside Natasha Lyonne (Slums of Beverly Hills, But I’m a Cheerleader), and Ed McMahon in his last film role. Shot on 35mm, the film was sold to Sundance Independent and IFC. Her second feature length film, The Accidental Death of Joey by Sue, was bought by PBS, and will make its television premiere this weekend. Variety called it “Stylish and strange enough to mark Sarah Louise Wilson and [co-writer/producer] Neal Thibedeau as helmers to watch.”

    Continue Reading

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  • Sal’s Guide to Being An Independent Producer

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    Sal Irizarry is making a splash with his debut comedy feature film, Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship. Sal met his producing partners, Jane Basina and Waj Arshad, while attending NYFA. After graduation, they decided to work together under Sal’s company banner, Justified Ends Entertainment.  From there, they ran a nation wide script contest through indieWIRE.com, raised private equity, and produced the film in 2011.

    So, where did his passion for the industry begin?

    “I was looking to go to film school and I didn’t want to spend three years on theory before learning the process hands-on. After looking into several programs and seeking the advice of several of my friends who were already in the industry, I decided to attend NYFA because of its intensive, hands-on program, from day one.  Just as I had hoped, in the first week of school we were working on our first short film. The Producing Program taught me real world skills and industry practices that were relevant throughout the entire process of production; from development to festival screenings and everything in between.  Let’s be clear though, there are some things you can’t learn in a classroom, but the education I received at NYFA was the perfect foundation to get me through the process.”

    What drives you as an artist?

    “As a creative producer, I enjoy the process of finding a story worth telling as much as I enjoy the wheeling and dealing side of the business.  Though my primary responsibility on set is to support the director, I have a responsibility to my investors to finish the movie on time, on budget and to get it out for the world to see.  Maintaining the balance between art and commerce, managing expectations, finding creative solutions to problems that will come up both on and off set is just the beginning.  After all, if your investors don’t recoup, you don’t get to keep making movies!”

    What is your perspective on screening at film festivals? Advice on the process?

    “You feel this sense of validation for all your hard work when you get into a fest and yet you can’t help but feel disappointed when you’re not accepted.  The fact of the matter is that navigating the festival circuit takes a lot of time and energy.  What I mean is, not every festival is a good fit for every movie and submitting to every upcoming fest can get really expensive really fast.  I’ll research what movies played in a particular festival the prior year to get an idea if they’re truly indie friendly and support first time and up and coming filmmakers, or if it’s geared towards screening Hollywood Tentpoles.

    At the end of the day, film festivals are great for exposure and buzz, but the ultimate goal for a producer is to get the movie sold.  Have a web presence.  Make sure your press kit and marketing materials are in order.  Lastly, don’t forget about the deliverables you’ll need in order to get a distribution deal! If your plan is to DIY your film’s release, make sure you’ve built a community around your movie that you’ve cultivated and nurtured throughout the process.  Keeping your fans updated as well as supporting other filmmakers in their efforts as best you can, will go a long way in this day and age.”

    Final words of advice to  NYFA students dreaming to succeed?

    “Persistence, patience, 100% dedication, tons of hard work, long hours and a lot of luck.  I cannot tell you how much I have sacrificed to realize my dream of being a producer.  The commitment necessary to see a project through to the end is not for everyone.  But hey, somebody’s gotta do it and I figure, why not me!”

    Click here to learn more about our Producing program.

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    May 11, 2012 • Producing • Views: 5005