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  • Gold Dust Screening and Q&A with Cinematographer Egor Povolotskiy at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    Following his recent write-up as one of the Rising Stars of Cinematography in American Cinematographer magazine, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Cinematography graduate Egor Povolotskiy returned to visit NYFA Los Angeles to present a feature film that he photographed.  

    Gold Dust is a feature-length adventure film about two treasure hunters searching for gold in the desert, who accidentally uncover a smuggling operation. Egor described it as a “family movie,” referring to both the story’s theme of friendship over material wealth, as well as the process of making the movie with a tight-knit crew that came to feel like a family by the end of the shoot.  

    Egor praised writer and director David Wall for the strong script and excellent performances in the film, and for creating an atmosphere of collaboration. Wall was also present for the screening, along with many members of the cast and crew who came out to participate in the NYFA Guest Speaker Series event.  

    Following the screening, Povolotskiy took part in a Q&A session moderated by Associate Chair of Cinematography Mike Williamson. He discussed some of the challenges of making this project on a low budget, and his desire to work quickly to maximize the time available on set. Povolotskiy offered praise for his crew, many of whom he first worked with during his time as a NYFA student, noting that he could not have achieved the look of the film without their hard work.

    He offered advice to the Cinematography students in attendance, speaking about the importance of finding good crew members and trusting them to do their work without micro-management. He also discussed some of the technical challenges of the film, including his use of classic “day-for-night” techniques for the massive night exterior scenes in the desert.

    When asking questions, many of the NYFA students in attendance raised topics like how to break into the business, what films have inspired him, and how to pick the best visual approach for a project. Povolotskiy answered their questions, and reminded the students that the cinematographer must create visuals that support the actors and the story, and not merely create pretty pictures. He discussed the importance of picking good projects with strong scripts, rather than looking for projects with big budgets.

    Since graduating, Povolotskiy has photographed eight feature films, and continues to collaborate with fellow NYFA alumni — including many producers, directors, and crew members. His films have played festivals in many countries, and have won awards such as the Festival Trophy and Audience Award for Best Short Film. In addition to working as part of these successful teams, Povolotskiy himself has collected several nominations for his work as a cinematographer. He has two wins for Best Cinematography at the Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival and the WIND International Film festival. He has photographed major actors including Malcolm McDowell, Chris Hemsworth, Steven Bauer, and Eric Roberts.

    Povolotskiy’s next feature film stars Taye Diggs, John Cusack and George Lopez.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Egor Povolotskiy, director David Wall, and the cast and crew of Gold Dust for sharing the evening with our student community.

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  • A Film Worth ‘A Celebration’

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    Tong Zhou

    Director Tong Zhou on the set of “A Celebration…”

    BFA Filmmaking student Tong Zhou just returned from Cannes, where she screened her short film, A Celebration is a Celebration is a Celebration is a Celebration. She also recently won Best Director at the Beijing College Student Film Festival for her work on it.

    Originally from Harbin, China, Tong was attending the prestigious Central Academy of Drama, but said she was becoming frustrated and wanted to find a more hands-on program. She went for a tour of New York Film Academy and was immediately sold. “I really liked it!” she says. “After two years, I quit school in China and moved to New York.” She spent her first year in New York and loved the energy in the city. She shot her thesis film, A Celebration…, in New York City and upstate New York. Beautifully-shot by fellow NYFA student Thrinnanon Samrej, the drama follows Daniel and his complicated relationships in the lead-up to his eighteenth birthday.

    Tong is finishing her degree at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, and is developing a feature screenplay with 2 screenwriters. She plans to shoot the dramedy before the end of the year.

     

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  • Actress Nia Vardalos Visits New York Film Academy

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    Nia Vardalos visited New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus last week for a private screening of her hit film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, followed by a Q&A with students. After training at Chicago’s famed Second City, Vardalos was struggling to find work as an actress. She says she was told she “wasn’t pretty enough to be a leading lady, and not fat enough to be a character actress.” Determined to forge her own path, she wrote her own one-woman show in Los Angeles, based largely on her own upbringing in a Greek family. Rita Wilson came to see it, and returned again with husband Tom Hanks. The couple would soon give her the opportunity of a lifetime: to write and star in her first feature film.

    My Big Fat Greek Wedding became a sleeper sensation, becoming the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, and earning Vardalos an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. She followed up by writing, producing, and starring in Connie and Carla, and co-starred with Richard Dreyfuss in My Life In Ruins. She made her directorial debut with 2009’s I Hate Valentine’s Day, and co-wrote the box-office hit Larry Crowne.

    Vardalos shared stories about her rise to fame with New York Film Academy students, and even brought prizes that she gave away throughout the night. “It was amazing how she was so humble and down to earth,” said MFA Filmmaking student Edrei Hutson. “She was willing to share her experiences and gave great advice on writing and filmmaking in general.”

    Vardalos answered dozens of questions from excited students, and said, “Learn the rules, so you know what you’re breaking. Be true to yourself and find people who support what you want to do.”

    She is currently working on a project at Paramount, which she describes as an anti-romantic comedy for single people. Vardalos also recently released her first book, Instant Mom, in which she opens up about the heartaches, headaches, and humor of becoming an adoptive parent.

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    May 2, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 7354

  • On Becoming a Man Wins Best Comedic Short

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    IMG_4920

    MFA Filmmaking student Kevin Resnick’s first year film, On Becoming a Man, is currently making the rounds on the festival circuit. It already won Best Comedic Short at the IFS Film Festival, and is a finalist for Best Short Film at the Athens Jewish Film Festival. The coming-of-age comedy follows young Jacob Schneidelman in the days leading up to his Bar Mitzvah. Jacob’s overbearing mother is on a Bar Mitzvah planning warpath, involving a personalized oil-on-canvas portrait and a handcrafted chocolate Moses fountain. To top it all off, she won’t let Jacob’s gentile neighbor (and secret crush), Sally, take part in the festivities! Jacob must choose: bow down to his mother like his father does, or stand up to her and finally become a man?

    Growing up in Toronto and Los Angeles, Kevin says he always wanted to see the world. He got to do so during his 13 years on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, where he logged over 2,000 flight hours. After leaving the military, Kevin started getting acting work in New York. Though he had acted in numerous short films, he always dreamed of writing and directing his own films. He decided to earn his MFA in Filmmaking at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. He says, “It’s been fantastic. The thing that really attracted me was that it’s so hands-on. In this business, it’s all about experience.”IMG_4539

    People in the Los Angeles area will have a chance to see On Becoming a Man when it plays the IFS Film Festival. The film plays in the Comedic Shorts Block B4 at 4:30 p.m. at the Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills on Thursday, March 28, with an encore screening on Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. Check out the website for full details.

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    March 22, 2013 • Academic Programs, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4509

  • Finding Luck With ‘The Lucky One’

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    Filmmaker Bala Balakrishnan graduated from New York Film Academy in 2010. Shortly after graduation, he wrote, produced, and directed a short film called The Lucky One. It made the festival rounds in 2012, and proved to be a hit, winning 8 awards in competitions across the nation.

    Bala works as a software engineer during the day. Like many people with day jobs, he decided an Evening Filmmaking program would work best with his busy schedule. “I was always interested in film,” says Bala. “After I had my second kid, I said, ‘I don’t want to be sitting in front of a computer all the time.’ It was my childhood desire to tell stories. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go take a class.’ I invested and it paid off.”

    He began commuting to New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus from nearby Orange County. As he puts it, “You start from the beginning, and get hands-on experience.” The Evening Filmmaking program covers writing, directing, cinematography, and editing – all the building blocks for getting started in filmmaking.

    After graduation, Bala decided to start work on a short film. Working around his day job, he wrote a story about a young boy whose parents would rather spend time on their iPhones than taking care of their child. Like many filmmakers these days, he turned to Indiegogo to fund his 18-minute short film. Bala started production in the summer of 2011, working with a number of his New York Film Academy classmates.

    Since its completion, The Lucky One has played numerous festivals across the nation, and just won its eighth award last week at the California Film Awards. Bala Balakrishnan is currently working with a screenwriter for a feature length action thriller, in addition to two other feature length scripts.

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