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  • Pete Hammond is Guest Speaker at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

    On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Deadline film critic and reporter, Pete Hammond, joined New York Film Academy (NYFA) students for a Q & A at the Los Angeles campus. NYFA Director of the Q & A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Hammond has worked as a contributor for Variety, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.

    Laiter began the evening by asking Hammond how he got his start in the industry.

    It turns out Hammond didn’t set out to be a journalist. He just knew he wanted to be in the film industry. As an NBC Page, Hammond began working his way up the ladder. From page, he was promoted to a children’s television writer. Soon after, he became a researcher at Entertainment Tonight. From there he moved to the The Arsenio Hall Show, worked on Access Hollywood, and finally, Hammond created the entertainment news program Extra.

    With the Oscars just around the corner, students were curious to know more about the inside politics of the Academy.  One student wanted to know about the possibility of a shake-up at this year’s Oscars. “Looking at the statistics,” he began, “No film has won Best Film without first being nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay.” Three Billboards hasn’t been nominated for Best Director, but it has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The student wanted to know if Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri could take home the grand prize.   

    Hammond was impressed and jokingly asked the student if he was looking for work. “Your predictions are spot on. This is what I’ve been writing about for the past couple of years.”

    Hammond said that only three times in Oscar’s history has a film won Best Picture that had not been nominated for Best Director. Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for Argo, though he did win the Director’s Guild Award later that year. Driving Miss Daisy director Bruce Beresford and Grand Hotel director Edmund Goulding were not nominated, either. “The odds are statistically against Three Billboards but I think it has a shot because of the preferential ballot.”

    Hammond explained that when voting for the Oscars, Academy members number all of the nominees from their favorite to their least favorite. That numbering system can have a huge impact on the final turnout. If enough members place Three Billboards as a three or higher, it could mean a win.

    Hammond also noted a new trend over the past five years: Four out of the five Best Picture winners didn’t see their director rewarded, but all of their scripts did win Best Picture. In looking at the history of the Oscars, this trend is very rare.  

    Of course, students also wanted to pick Hammond’s brain about his personal opinion on the 2017 lineup of films. Hammond was particularly impressed with the stamina of Get Out. A film released in February usually isn’t in contention for the Oscars a year after it’s release. In fact, the last Best Picture nominee to have a February release was another thriller film, Silence of the Lambs, in 1991.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Pete Hammond for taking the time to speak with our students. The Oscars air on Sunday, March 4, 2018, on NBC.  You can read Hammond’s film reviews here.

  • Young Saudi Film Festival Unveils Lineup of Films at New York Film Academy

    On Monday, the Young Saudi Film Festival, hosted by the New York Film Academy, announced the films it will showcase this season. The festival opens Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Los Angeles. The eight films — six from Saudi Arabia and two from Egypt — cover a wide range of genres, from comedy to drama, thriller to family film.

    “We had an impressive variety of films submitted from around the world, and we congratulate all the filmmakers,” said YSFF President and NYFA student Rakan Anneghaimshi (Spring 2016 BFA Acting). “It was very challenging for our selection committee to choose only eight films.”

    Dan Mackler, Director of NYFA Los Angeles, greets YSFF President Rakan Anneghaimshi.

    The committee consisted of NYFA Faculty Miraj Grbic (actor, Mission Impossible), producer Tony Schwartz, and James Coburn (production sound), among others, who did the first round of viewing. The second round of judging was led by YSFF Vice President and NYFA alum Abdulaziz Almutari (Fall 2015 MFA Cinematography) and Maan bin Abdulrahman (January 2013 BFA Filmmaking) of Prince of Arabia Entertainment.

    Impressed with the amount of NYFA involvement in creating this festival, Dean of Enrollment Services Tami Alexander said, “We are very proud that New York Film Academy alumni and students are leading the media and entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia. We support Rakan and Abdulaziz’s vision for the Young Saudi Film Festival and are happy to sponsor the Festival in Los Angeles. After the announcement that cinemas will be allowed in the Kingdom again, I could not be more thrilled. We look forward to strengthening relationships and are excited for new collaborations in Saudi Arabia.”

    In addition to the films, the festival will include a congratulatory video by Saudi Arabian actor Nasser Al Gassaby, a performance by the NYFA Improv Troupe (directed by Groundlings legends Suzanne Kent and George McGrath), and a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers moderated by host Maan B.

    VIP invitees include the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, the Saudi Consul, the US Ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, the UAE’s Minister of Education, along with top-level Saudi Arabian actors, producers, filmmakers, and media.

    The complete lineup of films includes:

    Bloodline written and directed by Saud Al-Moghirah, produced by Javier Olmo

    Coexistence by Musab Alamri

    Hero Complex written and directed by Mohamad AlYamani, produced by Mohamad AlYamani and Douglas Spain

    The Nostalgia written by Sarah Lotfy, directed and produced by Moataz Badran

    Piece of Wood by Yassin Koptan

    The Scapegoat written by Charlie H. Millen & Stephen Ranieri, directed by Talha B., produced by Maan B.

    Spirit of North by Mohammad Ali Almarhabi

    Under Concrete by Meshal Al Jaser

    The Young Saudi Film Festival will be at the Harmony Gold Preview House on Sunday, February 18. It starts with a reception at 4 pm, and the program begins at 5 pm. To attend, please RSVP at nyfa.edu/ysff.



    February 14, 2018 • Community Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 872

  • HOLA Partners with New York Film Academy Jaguars to Create Basketball Clinic for Kids

    This winter, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles campus men’s basketball team, the NYFA Jaguars, embraced the idea of giving back. Forming a partnership with Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), a non-profit organization that provides Los Angeles children free access to academic, art, and athletic-based classes, together, HOLA and the NYFA Jaguars created a basketball clinic for kids.

    The clinic was led by the NYFA Jaguar’s coach, NBA Champion Lucius Allen. The clinic consisted of basketball drills that legendary UCLA Coach, John Wooden, used to train Allen when he was in college. “Wooden’s philosophies helped define success for me both inside and outside the game of basketball.” Allen said. The goal was to help instill confidence and sportsmanship in the young basketball players.

    Reflecting on the class, HOLA Athletic Director Kristina Wheeler said, “This was a great experience for our kids. The opportunity to learn from someone like Coach Lucius Allen is rare. I believe the lessons learned today will stick with the students for the rest of their lives.”

    The NYFA Basketball team felt the experience was a special one as well. Coach Allen remarked, “The kids were great. They were receptive, respectful to each other, and very competitive.”

    That sentiment of creating positive change within the community is a cornerstone of the New York Film Academy’s Athletics Program. Through the Athletic Leadership Development Program (ALDP), NYFA students are encouraged to seek out opportunities where they can give back as a team. With that goal in mind, the basketball team will also be creating Valentine’s Day cards for children at a local hospital.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank HOLA and Coach Allen for giving our students a chance to pay it forward.

  • Art LaFleur is Guest Speaker at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was thrilled to have actor Art LaFleur at the Los Angeles campus on Jan. 18, 2018, as a part of the Guest Speaker Series. LaFleur took part in a Q & A following a screening of “The Sandlot.” Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond, who was the cinematographer on the movie, was also in attendance. NYFA Senior Instructor Eric Conner hosted the evening.

    LaFleur is known as a prolific character actor whose career has spanned over 40 years. He’s shared the screen with Hollywood heavyweights like Sylvester Stallone and Kevin Costner, and played American heroes like Babe Ruth as well less heroic characters like Chick Gandil (first baseman for the infamous 1919 Chicago Whitesox).

    When asked about his career and his first major role, LaFleur credited his face — literally — with helping him get a start in the industry. At the time of his first role as Ivan in the made for TV movie “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island,” LaFleur had been taking acting classes for a couple of years but says there was no trick or tip that helped him land the role. He simply had the right look: “There were people in my acting class who were really good. They were wonderful, but they wouldn’t get arrested, whereas I have this mug. I don’t know. I just have this face.”

    One of LaFleur’s most memorable roles is his portrayal of Babe Ruth in the modern classic, “The Sandlot.” To prepare for his audition he studied The Babe’s life and mannerisms by reading autobiographies and watching interviews. Most importantly, he studied old tapes of Babe Ruth playing baseball and practicing Ruth’s mannerisms. He took note of how the legend stood with a bat in his hands and how he would walk to first base. The research paid off when his portrayal won over the film’s casting director.

    It was during the filming of “The Sandlot” that LaFleur met NYFA Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond, who spoke fondly of their brief time on set together.

    “Occasionally, you get to meet incredible people like Art,” said Richmond. “Even though he was on set for only a brief time, his role gave the film credence.”

    LaFleur jumped in explaining, “I get recognized for this film more than any other. It’s the best one-day job I’ve ever had.”

    In speaking of “The Sandlot,” Richmond and LaFleur brought up an old film adage: “Never work with water, children, or animals.” Richmond explained that producers try to avoid these three elements because they can’t be controlled. “The Sandlot” featured all three. There were multiple children in the cast. Two large dogs were brought in to play the junkyard dog. There was the famous swimming pool scene, where Squints pretends to drown so he can get a kiss from Wendy Peppercorn.

    Richmond, a father himself, suggests filmmakers should simply talk to child actors as if they are adults. “Then,” says Richmond, “They’ll behave like adults.”

    One student asked, “What’s the most difficult part of working with children?” According to our guest, the most challenging aspect by far is the tighter shooting schedule. Due to child labor laws the children on “The Sandlot” could only work eight hours a day, and three of those hours had to be dedicated to their education. These regulations make scheduling challenging. It is particularly challenging when every scene has a child in it.

    Another student asked the veteran actor and cinematographer for any advice on how, as an international actor with an accent, he might be able to get ahead in the American film industry? Richmond and LaFleur agreed that success comes from collaboration and networking, which is why film schools like NYFA are the perfect place to meet future business partners and collaborators.

    Richmond said, “I love teaching at NYFA. When I was getting started, four cinematographers really helped me out. You can’t do it without help.”

    LaFleur ended the evening with some advice to the actors in the audience. “If you are lucky enough to be cast in a film or on a television series the most important thing is to be sharp. Be on your game with the dialogue and everything else. And if they don’t talk to you, you’re doing fine.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tony Richmond and Art LaFleur for taking the time to speak with our students.

    January 30, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Guest Speakers • Views: 800

  • New York Film Academy Alum Writes For Military Blog We Are The Mighty

    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    NYFA Veteran Students with Col. Jack Jacobs (NYFA Chair of Veteran Advancement Program)

    Everybody knows by now that the Internet is filled with countless blogs, from globally famous media companies to ones covering even the tiniest of niches. But there’s at least one blog that’s doing great work serving an often overlooked yet large and vitally important demographic—the United States military community.

    The blog, We Are The Mighty, is for veterans, servicemen and women, and their families, and covers everything from military news to pop culture, with both thoughtfully penned articles and silly, amusing listicles. Overall, WATM’s mission statement is “Celebrating military service with stories that inspire,” but in doing so, it’s also provided a way for the community to congregate, communicate, and share their ideas and views through its site and social media.

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alum Tim Kirkpatrick

    Tim Kirkpatrick is one of the writers for We Are The Mighty, and has already built an impressive portfolio of articles. Kirkpatrick is a Navy veteran, having entered as a Hospital Corpsman in 2007. In the fall of 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.

    After coming back stateside, Kirkpatrick enrolled at the New York Film Academy and earned his AFA degree in filmmaking from our Los Angeles campus. Honing his skills even further, Kirkpatrick followed his filmmaking education with NYFA’s 8-Week Screenwriting workshop.

    Putting those writing skills to good use, Kirkpatrick has written multiple blog pieces for We Are The Mighty, including “6 of the Funniest Comedic Military Sketches Ranked” and “5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Navy Medal of Honor.”

    One of his most recent pieces is about the New York Film Academy itself, highlighting the Academy’s relationship to the Military and veteran community. As Kirkpatrick mentions in his article, “At any given time, NYFA caters to over 200 veterans in the student body and the school takes pride in putting a camera in their hands on the first day of class,” while also adding that NYFA has enrolled over 1500 veterans and dependents of veterans in total.

    The Military and veteran community is an important part of the NYFA family. Kirkpatrick mentions in his article the Academy’s V.S.A., or Veteran Student Association, where vets from different branches of the armed forces come together over their shared love of film and the visual arts.

    Kirkpatrick also shouts out the venerable Colonel Jack Jacobs, who in addition to being a Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.

    The Military and the film industry are a more natural pairing than some may suspect. Kirkpatrick writes, “As in the Military, the film industry uses a precise chain of command for its operational purposes, so vets feel right at home on set — hierarchy and order (and yes, even paperwork) have been branded into their solid work ethic.”

    You can check out Tim Kirkpatrick and the other writers at We Are The Mighty here.

    January 26, 2018 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1313

  • New York Film Academy Students Attend Cinema Italian Style

    On Thursday, November 16, 2017, two students from the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, Alice Nicolini and Nicolo Azzaro, were invited to attend the opening night of the 13th Annual Cinema Italian Style at the Egyptian Theater. Italy’s oldest film studio, Luce Cinecittà, and the American Cinematheque presented the night, which featured a screening of “A Ciambra,” Italy’s selection for Best Foreign Language Film at next year’s Academy Awards.

    The night also served as a celebration of the 80th anniversary of Luce Cinecittà under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, in collaboration with the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles, the Italian Trade Agency and the Italian Cultural Institute. Needless to say, this was quite an extravagant affair.

    NYFA Students Alice Nicolini and Nicolo Azzaro attend 13th Annual Cinema Italian Style

    The director of the film, Jonas Carpignano, has a youthful and unconventional approach to his filmmaking style, which can best be described as a scripted docudrama. All of the characters in the film are real people and their real names are the same as the characters they play. Likewise, their actual home is the set, and the script is inspired by the lives they lead.

    The level of intimacy the director has built with his cast is immediately tangible. From the opening to the closing shot, the camera is an active component of the film, whipping around at an incredible pace. (Some audience members found it dizzying, but anyone familiar with music videos would recognize the cinematic language.) Carpignano’s fresh take on Gypsy culture in Southern Italy was warmly received.


    One of the attending NYFA students, Nicolo Azzaro, had this to say about the film: “‘A Ciambra’ is a fantastic movie that perfectly showcases the strengths of Italian cinema at its finest. It digs deep into a current reality in Southern Italy, blending the almost documentary approach with a deep and emotional coming of age story.”

    Alice Nicolini, the other New York Film Academy student invited to the event, added, “My favorite part of the evening was hands down the red carpet. It was all new to me. Walking down the carpet was kind of surreal. I mean, we also got our pictures taken and an Italian television station even interviewed us. That is definitely not an everyday thing.”

    After the screening, the students were invited to a gala dinner at Mr. C’s in Beverly Hills. Celebrity attendees included Billy Zane, Ron Pearlman, and “Alias Grace” star Sarah Gadon, who was honored with the inaugural Cinecittà Key the day prior to the event. Students mingled with the stars and creators as they overlooked the Los Angeles skyline and enjoyed a meal curated by Michelin Star Chef Leandro Luppi.

    When asked what he’d learned from the experience, Azzaro responded, “Cinema is a universal art, and no matter what language is spoken in a film, it is capable of connecting people from all around the world. Diversity is truly one of the greatest aspects of the entertainment industry.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Luce Cinecittà and the American Cinematheque for extending an invitation to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    November 30, 2017 • Community Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 589

  • New York Film Academy Attends Cinema Italian Style Press Conference

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Sebastiano Caccetta (Oct ’13 MA, Film and Media Production) scanned the ballroom of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where a press conference launching the Cinema Italian Style festival was taking place. Onstage stood “Alias Grace” star Sarah Gadon, Italian directors Jonas Carpignano and Francesco Bruni, and other major players in the contemporary Italian film industry. Sebastiano was at the press conference in his role promoting cinema and music for the Italian Trade Agency, one of the festival’s sponsors.

    Earlier this month, Sebastiano had reached out to his alma mater, New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, to invite students to this year’s events. Celebrating its 13th year, Cinema Italian Style annually presents Italy’s official submission to the Oscars as well as other recent Italian films.

    All NYFA students, faculty, staff, and alumni were invited to take advantage of free tickets to festival screenings at the Aero Theater from November 17-21. In addition, New York Film Academy students Alice Nicolini and Nicolo Azzaro were selected to attend Opening Night festivities, which included a red carpet event, a screening of Italy’s Oscar nomination, “A Ciambra,” and a gala dinner at Mr. C’s in Beverly Hills.

    Sarah Gadon and Jonas Carpignano pose for a photo

    At the press conference, Sarah Gadon, star of Netflix’s “Alias Grace” and a citizen of both Canada and Italy, was presented the key to historic Cinecitta’ studios in honor of their 80th anniversary. A production, distribution, and film archives entity, Luce Cinecitta’ has been the home of iconic filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone, and Marcello Mastroianni. When Sarah noted that the key was not actually a key but a heavy glass award, an Italian official quipped, “You will just have to come to Rome to get the real one.”

    Jonas Carpignano was introduced as the writer-director of Italy’s Oscar nomination “A Ciambra,” which was executive produced by famed Italian-American filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Raised in Rome and New York City, Jonas started making films when he was an undergraduate in the US. His first feature, “Mediterranea,” debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, and his second (“A Ciambra”) won the Europa Cinema Label prize for best European film at Cannes, both impressive accomplishments.

    Speaking of his festival experience, Jonas said, “It’s always an accomplishment to get into a festival. There are different approaches to getting into them. You ask the question where can the film play? What kind of credibility and momentum can this festival give us?”

    When asked if he had any advice for filmmakers on how to navigate the film festival circuit, Jonas was at first reluctant to give an answer because he has made only two features. “I feel I have an infinite amount to learn,” he said. After a moment of thought, though, he came back with this: “Don’t wait for someone to say it’s okay to make your film. If you believe in your ideas and the people you’re making the film with, go do something. Shoot some scenes. Make a trailer. Just don’t wait for someone to say it’s okay.”

    Meanwhile, alum Sebastiano Caccetta reflected on how he got where he is today. “I was 28 when I moved to LA to attend NYFA. The school taught me the American way of working and gave me a very strong work ethic. The teachers were so supportive, and the environment pushes you to do your best. Pitching my film ideas in front of my classmates gave me confidence. I learned about teamwork, how to network, how to build my schedule. Today my ability to work with Cinema Italian Style, it’s because of NYFA. I’m working promoting Italian cinema for the government thanks to NYFA. I’m so grateful.”   

    November 30, 2017 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News, Film School • Views: 585

  • “Rick and Morty” Writer Mike McMahan Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was excited to welcome one of the hottest writers on the animation scene, Mike McMahan. McMahan is currently one of the lead writers for “Rick and Morty” on Adult Swim. A funny kid from Chicago, he originally made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles to become a feature film comedy writer. Luckily, he fell into the world of animation, and television may never be the same. He spoke with NYFA Instructor, Eric Conner, about how to become a Writer’s Assistant, the secrets of the Rick and Morty writer’s room, and his journey from Chicago to Hollywood.

    Like the vast majority of comic writers and performers from Chicago, McMahan began his career at the Second City. While still in college studying drama, he would do basic things for the Second City Theater like help set up the stage before a show. From that experience, he was able to get a P.A. job at Scott Rubin Productions, which led to him being hired on Comedy Central’s “Drawn Together.” When the plug was pulled on the show one of his superiors was able to recommend him for “South Park.” From there he went to Fox Animation where he met Justin Roiland.

    "Rick and Morty" writer Mike McMahan answers questions from students at the New York Film Academy

    Roiland is now known as the voice of both Rick and Morty, but back then he was pitching pilots. “They were just as good as Rick and Morty,” McMahan said. He knew right away he wanted to work with Roiland in a professional capacity. “I know you’re going to have a hit show one day, like, you’re brilliant. ” he told Roiland, “Can I, please, just work on it in some capacity when you do?” A couple of years later, when Adult Swim picked up two scripts to prove it should be a series, Roiland asked him to come on as a writer’s assistant. The rest, as they say, is history.

    McMahan gave the students the skinny on working as an assistant in a writer’s room. “It’s kind of different depending on what room you’re in. It’s an insanely amazing job to get, particularly if you want to be a comedy writer.” A day breaks down like this: the assistant arrives about thirty minutes early. All day they sit on their laptop and take notes as the writers pitch ideas. The assistant is the keeper of all knowledge.

    In the “Rick and Morty” writer’s room, they use a program called Pear Notes, which records all the dialogue in the room. The recording is then sent to the writer assigned to that particular episode. This recording is vital because it doesn’t just serve as a reference for the writer. In a show that uses improvisation heavily, it captures those magic moments, like Dan rapping a song off the top of his head. The writer can add those lyrics verbatim to the script, but it might not capture the cadence or expression of a word. Luckily, the audio can also be played in the recording booth when an actor is doing their voiceover, too.

    At the end of the day, the assistant throws out all of the trash in the room and gets it ready for the next day. “You’re kind of like their babysitter. You’re going to spend the entire next day in that room.” The assistant then organizes all the notes and pulls clips from films and television that were referenced during the meeting. Traditionally, writer’s assistants work for a year and then they’re given an episode to write. “On an Adult Swim show, this is a chance to prove your voice as a writer.”

    Mike McMahan answers students questions about screenwriting

    McMahan got his first chance to write for Rick and Morty with season one episode nine, “Something Ricked This Way Comes.” This now iconic episode featured an ending where Summer and Rick get buff and beat up cruel people like a man who strangles his dog, and a Nazi. It earned him a new title in the show’s second season, Story Editor. By the third season, he had earned the position of Story Producer and written a total of four episodes for the show: “Rickshank Redemption,” “The ABC’s of Beth,” and “Total Rickall.”

    McMahan warned students that as incredible as these jobs are they are also difficult to come by. “They usually go to the assistants of the lit agents because they know the job exists in the first place. If the creator doesn’t have someone they’re already interested in usually the answer is yes because the agent’s assistant tends to be responsible. They set up meetings and manage the calendar so they should be able to handle the responsibility.” Another way to get in is to be the writer’s PA.

    Connor asked McMahan, “What do you think you learned as a Writer’s Assistant that you couldn’t have learned in a classroom?” McMahan responded, “I think you learn that every room is going to be different. There’s no manual you can read that is going to teach you how to be chill and do a good job.”

    He goes on to explain that nobody remembers the job that was done; they remember the person who did the job. “A lot of advice I give to first time writers who are moving out here is, it doesn’t matter what job you get, it matters that you’re the best at doing the job.” A writer’s room is like a family. Integrating one’s self into that family is how people stick around.

    One student, Nigel Robinson, asked, “What are some of the techniques you use to reverse audience expectations to make the show re-watchable.” McMahan contributed a large part of the show’s success in this area to Reddit. “If somebody guesses something we were planning to do on Reddit, we all get together and say ‘We’re not doing that anymore.’” If somebody tweets ideas at McMahan, he lets them know that they won’t use it.

    “If a thousand people guess an ending then that means a thousand people will watch and think that’s’ just an okay episode.” So they stretch themselves to come up with something completely different. “When I tell other writers how many weeks we spend on these shows they’re in awe.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Mike McMahan for taking time to speak with our students. There’s no word yet on whether the show has been picked up for a fourth season, but keep watching Adult Swim for more information.

    November 30, 2017 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 648

  • NYFA Alum Oguzhan Akdogan Organizes Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    New York Film Academy alumnus Oguzhan Akdogan has been working hard to put together the first annual Hollywood Turkish Film Festival in Los Angeles. The festival is designed to promote Turkish cinema in the West and to give young filmmakers an opportunity to network. Akdogan sat down with New York Film Academy Correspondent Joelle Smith to speak about the work he did for the festival and what he’s planning next.

    NYFA: How did you become involved with this festival?

    Akdogan: The festival founders were looking for a producer who knew Los Angeles County well. I sent an e-mail to them to introduce myself. I knew that I would be a great option for this position because I had been working as a producer for the past 2 years in Los Angeles.

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: Why are festivals like this important to you?

    Akdogan: I am a director, producer, and an actor. Naturally, the Hollywood Turkish Film Festival is very important to me. This was an opportunity to represent my country in an international arena. This is the first festival in LA for Turkish filmmakers.

    NYFA: Was there anything about putting this festival together that surprised you?

    Akdogan: Definitely, yes! Honestly, I did not expect that I needed to contact magazines and newspapers. When the festival director called me, I was really surprised. He mentioned that we would need to run our advert through Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and LA Weekly. This was the beginning of the media process for me. It has been a pleasure communicating with such nice media representatives.

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: Which filmmakers were you excited to bring to the festival?

    Akdogan: It was an honor to meet Jacqueline Bisset. She is such an outstanding film actress. When I was a kid, I would watch her films on TV. I never thought that one day this amazing artist would be my guest or that I would walk her to the stage. She is one of the most important figures in world cinema and I am very happy to have met her.

    NYFA: What films should our readers look out for?

    Akdogan: I highly recommend the film “Alya.” It is Turkey’s official selection for the 90th Academy Awards, Best Foreign Language Film. This is a must-see movie. The film is based on a true story and the director tells that story in a very dramatic way.

    Also, I recommend the films; “Troy,” “Plane Tree,” and “Rosso Istanbul.” They are great feature films, which include different cinematic perspectives.

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: Now that all is said and done, how do you feel about the festival?

    Akdogan: This festival is really a dream come true for me. I feel lucky and proud when I think about this project. I have experienced wonderful moments in my life as a producer. I have realized that the film world keeps me alive and happy. I cannot live without art.

    I feel confident since I made a solid contribution to the Hollywood Turkish Film Festival, at Paramount Pictures Studios, and I became a part of such an outstanding organization!

    NYFA: Why should NYFA students attend festivals?

    Akdogan: I would love for NYFA students to attend this festival because it was built on a love of cinema. We screened five short films and four feature films. After the screenings, audience members had a chance to talk with the directors about their storytelling process.

    NYFA: What did you learn from this experience?

    Akdogan: The best thing about the festival is the team’s collaborative spirit. I have learned many wonderful things from them. This organization has inspired me to be better every day. What can be greater than that!?

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: What’s up next for you?

    Akdogan: I am producing the 6th Hollywood Turkish Film Festival with this amazing crew. Look for the festival in 2018.

    Also, I am writing a feature horror film. If everything goes well, I will direct my first feature soon. In addition, I am going to produce a couple of feature films in the next year.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Oguzhan Akdogan for taking the time to speak with us. We’re looking forward to the 2nd Annual Hollywood Turkish Film Festival coming to you in 2018.

    October 30, 2017 • Film Festivals, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 922

  • NYFA Welcomes WME Talent Agent Andrew Finkelstein for Q&A

    On Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 the New York Film Academy was excited to welcome William Morris Endeavor Entertainment Talent Agent Andrew Finkelstein to its packed Los Angeles Campus. Finkelstein represents some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Denzel Washington, Richard Gere, Lin Manuel Miranda, Barry Levinson and Michelle Rodriguez as a well as a new generation of talent including Maika Monroe (“It Follows”), John David Washington (“Ballers”), Bill Skarsgard (“IT”) and Amy Seimetz (“GFE”), and the Safdie Brothers (“Good Time”).

    Tova Laiter, Director of Guest Lecture Series for NYFA, hosted the evening and asked Finkelstein about his start in the industry. After graduating from college, Finkelstein made the trek from New York to Los Angeles and wasn’t sure where he should begin his career. Time and time again he continued to receive the same advice: “You should be working in an agency.”

    Andrew Finkelstein at NYFA LA

    He realized he should start in the mailroom of an agency with the goal of working with legendary agent, Ed Limato, for whom he eventually worked for several amazing years. It took eleven interviews but eventually, he landed the mailroom job.  “It’s hustling and networking. Even if you don’t think you know anybody, you know somebody who knows somebody. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to say yes.”

    “The importance of the mailroom is that it weeds out people with mismatched expectations”. It also taught him was who was who. He would read the hard copy of Variety between shifts and during breaks and stayed curious, an important trait to have if you want to be good at your job.

    One student asked, “What would be the best business card for an actor?”

    “The best business card is really great work,” Finkelstein responded. He gave several examples of clients who had worked from nothing to directing projects with giant budgets. For example, the Safdie brothers who directed the Cannes sensation “Good Times” had been directing short films to try and get their names out there- starting with no budget and slowly increasing them. Both “Good Times” and the “Daddy Longlegs” competed at Cannes this year.

    When a student asked how best to promote their work, Finkelstein shared the story of another client, Amy Seimetz.“If the films are great you’ll find other artists will start championing you.” Seimetz was living on a friend’s couch just a few years ago. She got some money to make a film that was entered into the South by Southwest film competition, and she was awarded the best emerging female film director and Steven Soderbergh saw it. She is now show running The Girlfriend Experience, adapted from Soderbergh’s film of the same title and is one of the most sought-after young directors in Hollywood.

    Finkelstein encouraged the students to use the New York Film Academy’s resources while they were in school, collaborate with their peers, and most of all keep producing great work. The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Finkelstein for taking the time to speak with our students.

    October 25, 2017 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 988