jonathan whittaker
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  • NYFA Mumbai Hosts Master Class With Co-Chair of Filmmaking and Virtual Reality Jonathan Whittaker

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    With an eye to the increasing opportunities for collaboration between major international film markets, the New York Film Academy Mumbai held a three-hour master class bridging the filmmaking styles of the American and Bollywood industries. The Foundations of Filmmaking Master Class was led by filmmaker, producer, director, and NYFA Co-Chair of Filmmaking and Virtual Reality Jonathan Whittaker.

    Jonathan Whittaker is an educator and media production professional whose credits include “In the Loop,” “Louie,” “Trophy Wife,” and a four-piece Venus by Gillette campaign with Chrissy Teigan. He has created a 3D special for Sony Pictures, directed commercials for Nissan and Hyundai, and produced two feature films: “My Name is David” and “America Here We Come.” His collaborators and clients include Nissan, Sony Pictures, FILM.UA, DirecTV, MiSK, Gillette, Hyundai and Sports Illustrated. 

    In describing the workshop, Mr. Whittaker explained, “Students explore new skills for directors, actors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and producers, expanding their vocabulary for collaboration and storytelling. This is a wonderful way to learn more about American-style filmmaking and open new possibilities for collaboration between the U.S. and Indian film industries.”

    Opportunities for cooperation and exchanges between the Indian and U.S. film industries are now at an unprecedented level, with Bollywood films like “Baahubali: The Conclusion” breaking international box office records and Paramount announcing that it will distribute a Bollywood film for the first time. (“Padmavati,” will be released worldwide alongside the film’s Dec. 1 opening in India.)

    NYFA alumnus Rakesh Varre, who played Setu Patti in “Baahubali: The Conclusion,” has given credit to his education at NYFA for his recent acting success: “Taking that experience from NYFA, I was able to act as a major supporting role in ‘Baahubali.’”

    While the New York Film Academy (NYFA) has held workshops in India for many years, it opened its doors to a permanent location in Mumbai, India, in May 2017, bridging two of the world’s largest filmmaking industries.

    The New York Film Academy’s Mumbai, India location holds film and acting programs at the Urmi Estate, a modern 41 story skyscraper located in the heart of the city. 

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  • NYFA Holds “Directing the Scene” Master Class in London

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    This past Sunday, Feb. 5, New York Film Academy conducted a Master Class in Filmmaking at the Historic ARTS Theatre in London’s West End.

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    Jonathan Whittaker, Chair of Short-term Filmmaking at New York Film Academy

    Taught by Jonathan Whittaker, Chair of the Short-term Intensive Programs at NYFA, the event welcomed filmmakers and performing artists not just from the London area, but from all over Europe.

    With over fifteen years of experience in the film industry—having produced, directed and lensed short films, music videos, live concerts, commercials, TV shows, features, docs, virtual reality experiences and 3D specials—Whittaker’s “Directing the Scene” Master Class enlightened attendees on how to properly break down a scene and take it from the page to the screen.

    Through a lecture that included film clips and anecdotes from films such as Martin Scorsese’s iconic boxing masterpiece “Raging Bull,” and Steven Speilberg’s classic hit “Jaws,” the two-hour Master class highlighted how the filmmaker identifies the purpose of the scene and fits it into the larger whole, designates point of view and designs shots that communicate POV to the audience. Additionally, the lecture explained how the director determines the visual elements that comprise the metaphor, as well as how he or she uses pacing to create tension in the film.

    “Not only was there a great turnout, the participant engagement and thoughtful feedback made this a successful workshop,” said Whittaker.

    The Master Class was very well received by aspiring artists and perspective students. We hope to see some of the individuals again at one of our many locations around the world.

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    February 9, 2017 • Community Highlights, Road Show • Views: 2626

  • Creative Power Couple Piper Perabo and Stephen Kay Speak at NYFA

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    This week, the New York Film Academy at Battery Park welcomed creative power couple, Piper Perabo and Stephen Kay. Their conversation with Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker was as authentic and inspirational as it gets. The only heated discrepancy amongst them was that Perabo is a Dallas Cowboys fan and Kay and Whittaker are Philadelphia Eagles fans. But all relationships require work, and work is indeed what the two of them have been doing in all aspects of the entertainment business for well over a decade now.

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    Stephen Kay and Piper Perabo and NYFA

    Currently starring in Lost Girls on Broadway, the Golden Globe nominated actress Perabo is one of the most talented and versatile actresses working today. Her first big break came in the Jerry Bruckheimer produced film Coyote Ugly, where she played the leading role of Violet Sanford. In 2007, she was seen in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, in Because I Said So with Diane Keaton and Lauren Graham and in First Snow, a film directed by Mark Fergus, costarring Guy Pearce and Adam Scott. In May 2009, she made her stage debut in Neil Labute’s controversial play Reasons to Be Pretty directed by Terry Kinney. The list of credits goes on and on.

    One of Perabo’s biggest pet peeves is when an actor breaks character and stops acting before the director yells cut. She stresses to all actors, “Never stop until somebody says cut! Just keep going.”

    As for her husband Stephen Kay—who directed Get Carter, as well as episodes of the TV series Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, Friday Night Lights and many others—his start came about with his film The Last Time I Committed Suicide. As luck would have it, Kay was discussing his idea while playing hockey with Keanu Reeves. Reeves, who was playing goalie at the time, overheard the idea and immediately wanted to get involved. Through Reeves’ support and attachment to the project, Kay was able to get funding and springboard what would become a successful career in the business.

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    NYFA Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker with Stephen Kay and Piper Perabo

    Most recently, Kay has been the executive producer and director of ABC’s Quantico, USA’s Covert Affairs and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, for Lifetime Television. Along with his wife, he is currently working on The Flight, a television drama about conflict journalists, for Fremantle Television, Corona Pictures, and Capa Drama.

    One of the many notable pieces of advice Kay had for our acting students was, “Every time you walk in the door to an audition, the person on the other side of the table wants you to be the right person.” Don’t go in the room thinking that they’re against you succeeding—be confident! Even if you’re not right for that specific part, if they like you, you may get the call for a project months later that’ll be your big break.

    We wish the talented and warmhearted couple the best of luck with all of their upcoming projects, and sincerely thank them for candidness and refreshing take on an arduous business.

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    December 3, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 11340

  • NYFA Teams Up with R&B Star Banky W.

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    The New York Film Academy has recently collaborated with R&B sensation, Banky W, on his latest music video for the upcoming single, “Unborn Child” featuring hip hop artist, Lynxxx.

    Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, Banky enrolled in NYFA’s Union Square campus to study an 8-week Filmmaking course where he was able to develop his skills to co-produce and co-direct his largest music video to date alongside Jonathan Whittaker, Chair of Short-Term Filmmaking Program at The New York Film Academy. With a NYFA crew comprised of former students, assistants, and faculty, “Unborn Child” was shot on the stellar Red Epic at Gary’s Loft in Midtown and just off Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx in only 2 days. The video stars Banky, Lynxxx, and 8-week Acting for Film student Aminat Ayinde.

    Banky plays the role of an NYPD officer that finds out the unexpected news that his girlfriend, Ayinde, is now pregnant. As he departs for what he thinks will be just another day on the job, the mother of his unborn child will soon find out that Banky is injured in the line of duty and leaves Lynxxx, his fellow NYPD partner, to deliver an important letter of heartfelt words and lessons for his child to live by in this emotional song and video.

    The video is currently in post-production at the New York Film Academy and is pending information on the premiere. One thing we know for sure is that we are extremely proud to have had Banky join us as a student and collaborator on this project. Working with Banky firsthand, Jonathan Whittaker says, “For someone of Banky’s stature to trust me with their vision is a tremendous honor. There is no higher sense of accomplishment than collaborating with students who are putting into practice what they have learned in my classroom.”

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    November 14, 2014 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5639