ivan leon
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  • Game Design Students Venture to New York Film Academy Alum’s Escape Hotel in Hollywood

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    Last week, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Director of Media Lab Matthew Sheehan took a group of NYFA Game Design postgraduate students out for a heck of a final: the one hour to escape challenge from Slaughterhouse at the Escape Hotel in Hollywood. The stakes: solve the puzzle or pay the ultimate price — no, not a failing grade, just the pain of defeat.

    For the uninitiated, an escape room is a little bit theater, a little bit puzzle, and a whole lot adventure. Groups of anywhere between two to eight, whether coworkers, families, friends, or even couples, are placed into a themed room filled with puzzles and surprises, and have one hour to solve the clues to find their way out.  Escape rooms are amazing fun and they are all over the place, but nobody is doing them like the Escape Hotel in Hollywood.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    A soon as you enter the Escape Hotel in Hollywood, you know you are about to go on an adventure. Going into the hotel is like stepping into a story line. The lighting, the sound, and the costumed employees of the hotel all set the stage.

    When the NYFA group talked over the choice of which of the rooms we could go through with a macabre bellhop, MFA student Fabio Ribak’s face lit up when we were told, “You start the Slaughterhouse room blindfolded and handcuffed to the floor.” Challenge accepted!

    In the end, we did not make it out. But it was okay, as the room was so much fun. The teamwork, the panic, and the discoveries were worth every second of it. These rooms are more than padlocks and puzzles; they are stories, little movies, games come to life, with you in the center. For a group of students who had recently completed story-focused visual and performing arts training, it was the perfect evening.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    Escape Hotel co-creator Ivan Leon sat down with us afterward. Ivan is also a NYFA alum, who after completing his education went to work starting the Escape Hotel with some of his classmates.

    “It’s what’s next,” he told us. “It’s combining every form of media arts, theater, and games, in a way no one else is doing, and we wanted to make a big commitment, to be on top.”

    If you want to see it, you will have to come up to the Escape Hotel in Hollywood and put your blindfold on. If you want to make friends with the next Ivan Leon, you should come over to the New York Film Academy.

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  • How Two Former NYFA Students Formed Fact Productions

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    fact productions

    (left to right) Ion Beroiz, Ivan Leon, Juan Carlos Arciniegas, Film Critic and CNN host

    One of the many positive aspects of attending a film school like New York Film Academy is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with motivated and creative artists. What’s fascinating about the collaboration between former NYFA students, Ion Beroiz and Ivan Leon, is their partnership came after not having seen or worked with each other for nearly eight months. Ivan, originally from Bogota, Colombia, had the desire to start his own production company, but needed the right partner who shared a similar passion of producing quality content. After discussing his ideas with Ion at party in Los Angeles, the two of them soon found themselves on the same page. Two days later, they registered the corporation name Fact Productions, Inc. They haven’t looked back since.

    Since it’s nearly impossible to start from scratch and acquire paid clients, the duo put together a few spec commercials, using footage from their NYFA productions, stock footage, and personal videos. Soon after, they submitted their best commercial for a contest and were awarded second place. Now that they were “on the map” and beaming with confidence, they were able to parlay the victory into a few video gigs for some local restaurants. Not exactly international acclaim, but certainly a step in the right direction for a blossoming young production company.

    It wasn’t long until NYFA was on their mind again. The duo pitched two more commercial ideas to NYFA Los Angeles’ Jean Sherlock and Dan Mackler. Jean and Dan were quite taken with their ideas and decided to assist in the production of another spec commercial, providing more quality content for Fact’s reel.

    After improving the portfolio, they landed their first major client: Samsung. The production called for a voice-over in Hungarian and re-editing two commercials—washing machines were the product. Following Samsung, Fact began working with Mattel, producing internal communications.

    As the ball continued to roll, a friend of theirs was able to introduce them to a contact at the record label, Universal Music Spain. It just so happened that the label was looking for a production company to take the lead on an upcoming video. Perfect, right? Well, they only had six days to prep! Looking back at their NYFA days, they realized, six days was plenty of time. They locked treatment with Universal two days before the shoot, providing them with 48 hours to produce a music video with full crew, 22 extras, a big band from Spain, and a mega star of the Spanish rock world, Enrique Bumbury. A hell of a challenge, to say the least.

    Fortunately, the team pulled it off. The band was thrilled with the final product and so was Universal. After that, the phones were ringing.

    “No matter how big or small our projects are, we always prepare them in the way our mentor from NYFA, Jonathan Pope Evans, told us, ‘As detailed as possible’,” said Ivan. “As Ion and I say, going to set is like going to war. We got that sense of preparation from NYFA.”

    Fact’s most recent project was a music video for the band Marlango, featuring their new single Dinero. Have a look at the video below!

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    October 20, 2014 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 7476