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  • NYFA Students Have a Blast at Jessica Chastain’s Movie Preview

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    Last week a group of New York Film Academy (NYFA) students and alumni were part of a selected audience invited to see the new movie “Miss Sloane,” starring two-time Oscar-nominated actress, Jessica Chastain, before it hit the theaters this past Friday. The verdict from our film specialists is a thumbs up!

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    “The plot is so thrilling that it kept me on my toes from beginning to end. I had a blast,” says BFA Acting student Stefan Leach. His peer Champayne Marte, also enrolled in the same program, agrees: “I’ve never enjoyed a political movie before. It was mind-blowing to learn how the game is played behind closed doors,” she pointed out.

    In “Miss Sloane,” Jessica Chastain plays a ruthless lobbyist in Washington D.C. who is notorious for winning at all costs. She’s faced with her greatest career challenge when she turns down a virtually unrefusable offer from the gun lobby and joins a boutique firm to help pass a law requiring more rigorous background checks. From there, a brisk cat-and-mouse game unfolds, directed masterfully by Oscar-nominated John Madden (“The Debt,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”).

    For BFA Acting students Faith Jibowu and Paola Lendof, the highlight of “Miss Sloane” was seeing a powerhouse woman on the silver screen: “Jessica Chastain is fantastic, her performance surpassed all my expectations, it was really inspiring,” said Faith. “There were definitely stellar moments of acting shared with the audience, it was just amazing,” added Paola.

    MFA Producing student Amari Agee underlined the intelligent plot: “I didn’t see the whole twist coming, which made her character really remarkable and surprisingly likable,” says Amari, who was snapping directly from the screening room as NYFA ambassador on social media.

    miss sloane screening

    Alumnus Andhika Satria (MA Film & Media ‘16) was one of the most excited before the screening, since he is a huge fan of Jessica Chastain. Little did he know, his country of origin, Indonesia, has a prominent role in the plot of “Miss Sloane,” being mentioned several times throughout the film. “She gave an Oscar-worthy performance and seeing my home country on the screen made it even more exciting,” said Andhika, who graduated in September and was program coordinator of the Los Angeles Indonesian Film Festival earlier this month.

    “Miss Sloane’s” preview held at Arclight Hollywood is a continuation of a strategic partnership between Lionsgate Promotional Group and NYFA – whose most recent event was Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” screening. Sealed by the hands of school’s Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter, the goal is to give the NYFA community privileged access to the best Hollywood releases. Future screening invitations will be posted on our exclusive Student Hub and social media. Stay tuned!

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    November 28, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 3263

  • NYFA Grads Team Up for Thriller “Ryde”

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    rydeIf you rely on ride share systems like Uber and Lyft, you may be reconsidering after watching “Ryde,” written, directed and produced by New York Film Academy alumnus, Brian Visciglia, and co-written and edited by NYFA alumnus, Dustin Frost.

    The thriller/horror film is about a cereal killer that uses ride share systems to lure victims in and kill them.

    “The story serves as an awareness for all of us using these ride share apps and, even for the drivers, to be more conscious and vigilant with the service,” said Visciglia. “Pay attention to the correct driver, vehicle, and even clients. It’s a great system and very useful, but as always all good can be misused and/or abused.”

    The idea for the film came about after Visciglia noticed a couple of intoxicated young girls calling for a cab — he wondered about their safety. A few weeks later, his friend and fellow NYFA alumnus Olavo Jr. DaSilva asked him to write a thriller for a short. Visciglia decided to update “Taxi” to a more popular and relevant transportation method — ride sharing.

    The film was shot with the ARRI mini Alexa in and around Los Angeles, including Hollywood Blvd where the crew had to prepare and shoot a car crash.

    “I learned a lot from my two years at NYFA,” said Visciglia. “I used that knowledge to write, organize, pre-produce, and execute everything leading up to this feature.”

    As for some advice from the first time feature filmmaker, Viscigilia says, “Practice, practice, practice. Do, do! do! Don’t give up hope. Do everything with passion. Nobody wants it as much as you, so you have to keep the energy and morale going. Read. Research. Pay attention in class. Also, this is ‘art’ as well as business, stay true to your art and stay within your budget.”

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    August 26, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2964

  • NYFA Veterans Movie Night: “Everest”

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    It’s a Friday night, and the smell of pizza fills the corridors of the fourth floor at the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Los Angeles campus. In NYFA’s state of the art facilities, laughter is shared amongst the veteran students, as they gather to watch a screening of the movie Everest (2015), an American-British film directed by Baltasar Kormákur. “This feels like I’m back in the military,” stated Nicholas Hagen, US Navy veteran and BFA Filmmaking student, describing what it felt like to come together with fellow student veterans.

    The film sets in 1996 where climbers from two commercial expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. With little warning, a violent storm strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. Challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable, the teams must endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures in an epic battle to survive against nearly impossible odds. The film was chosen as it portrays an exceptional example of survival, teamwork and selflessness, which are just some of the core ethos amongst service members.

    The event was facilitated and hosted by the NYFA Veterans Services team in order boost camaraderie amongst NYFA veterans, and foster the creation of a unique bond with one another. With the veteran students being a very diverse cohort in the NYFA community, and some of them being hundreds of miles away from friends and family, the screening provided a sense of a “home away from home” and familiarity to all those veterans who attended.

    -Jhonson Simeon

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    March 3, 2016 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 3487

  • “Thor,” “Kong,” and “Alien: Paradise Lost” to Film at Village Roadshow Studios in Australia

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    One of the immediate and most obvious benefits of having a film school inside the confines of a movie studio is the unprecedented access to the movie industry and the behind-the-scenes exposure to major motion pictures. Similar to our Los Angeles campus, which offers workshops on the Universal Studios backlot, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast Australia location offers programs on the backlot of Village Roadshow Studios adjacent to Warner Bros Movie World in Queensland, Australia.

    Given its resources and state-of-the art studio space, the Queensland studio will be the filming location of three upcoming major motion pictures, including the third installment of Thor, Kong: Skill Island, and Alien: Paradise Lost.

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    Village Roadshow Studios

     

    “Queensland offers an amazing and diverse backdrop for Thor: Ragnarok and we are very excited to bring this film to such an incredible locale,” said Louis D’Esposito, Co-President of Marvel Studios.

    This has become a serious location option for many studio films, with Queensland’s Village Roadshow Studios already having been the location for the Scooby Doo films, House of Wax, Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Daybreakers, and Fools Gold amongst many others. Just this past year we saw NYFA Australia Gold Coast Chair of Acting, Brad McMurray and One-Year Acting Grad, Nick Allen-Ducat in San Andreas—starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Paul Giamatti—which also filmed in Queensland.

    “As our economy diversifies, Queensland is demonstrating its strength as a lead destination for filmmakers both internationally and locally, and my government is doing what it can to ensure that Queensland remains a global hub for the screen sector,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

    nyfa gold coast students

    As is the goal with all of NYFA’s programs, the Gold Coast location offers a real world filmmaking experience in a truly hands-on curriculum. There are several course offerings available, including our hands-on intensive Two-Year FilmmakingOne-Year Filmmaking, Two-Year Acting for Film and One-Year Acting for Film programs as well as short-term and evening workshops.

    For more information about NYFA’s Gold Coast campus, please visit: https://www.nyfa.edu.au/locations/gold-coast.php.

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  • Screenwriter David Chirchirillo Joins NYFA’s Biz of Screenwriting Class

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    cheap thrillersLast month, rising genre screenwriter David Chirchirillo joined New York Film Academy’s Business of Screenwriting class, entertaining students with his journey of how this film student originally from St. Louis, Missouri ended up writing the 2014 cult shock-horror hit Cheap Thrills and, until very recently, working as the Head Writer on Playboy TV’s The Playboy Morning Show.

    Chirchirillo went to Columbia College in Chicago where he took a horror screenwriting class and ended up reading the script for Deadgirl by Trent Haaga, his 2008 horror hit. A fan of low-grade horror and Troma movies, Chirchirillo’s professor was friends with Haaga, and in his last semester put the two in touch. Chirchirillo became his production assistant upon moving to Los Angeles.

    “Cleaning up fake blood, going on food runs, whatever they asked of me really,” is how Chirchrillo described his early experiences working as a PA. A naturally friendly, funny and outspoken guy, it wasn’t long before people in the industry got wind that Chirchirillo was also a writer. “I, of course, was willing to write for free when I started, and made it known that I’d be willing to be fingers on a keyboard.”

    He soon met writer/director Chad Ferrin who was looking for a writer for an original idea entitled, Dances With Werewolves. Chirchirillo jumped all over it and wrote the script – which is a Civil War-era werewolf movie about a group of Confederate POWs who escape a Union prison camp and soon encounter a tribe of shape-shifting Native American werewolves with an insatiable blood lust.

    He also impressed Trent Haaga himself who had written a draft of Cheap Thrills, and attached director E.L. Katz. Katz wanted a fresh take on the script, and after Katz and Chirchirillo had lunch, it was clear they shared the same vision for the script — which was to make it a crazy, satirical dark comedy (it was originally written as a more straightforward thriller). “Remember: this is a comedy,” Chirchirillo had to remind his collaborators.

    Indeed it is. It’s a mind-blowing balls-to the-wall horror comedy that has received some amazing reviews, and currently stands at an impressive 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. It tells the story of a scheming couple, who pin two struggling friends against each other in a series of increasingly twisted dares for money over the course of one unforgettable evening. Premiering at the SXSW film festival, Chichirillo described the euphoric feeling of watching crowds react to the movie, “It was like doing a drug. It was probably the best moment of my career… thus far.”

    Chirchirillo went on to talk about some other experiences he’s had as a professional writer. “Every time I write, I learn something new. Once it’s done, it becomes the struggle of having it become a movie, where I learn more. I have a tendency to overwrite in the beginning, but it’s all part of the process of what helps me find the best version of the story.”

    Chirchirillo also had some advice on choosing reps, as he himself has hired and dropped folks over the years in his search for agents and managers who grasp his unique voice, “Pick your reps carefully. Don’t be in a rush to go with the first guy. Find someone who gets you and what you want.”

    Chirchirillo then entertained students with his insane directing experience on the low-budget horror film, 616: Paranormal Incident. “Let’s just say it was a 9-day shoot on a shoestring budget, and due to other less than ideal circumstances brought on by the production, I ended up directing it under a pseudonym. But director Duke Hitchcock is really, really proud of it,” Chrichrillo joked.

    He also spoke about his experience writing a comedy morning show for Playboy TV, which spawned from him first working as an editor first for the network. “I got lucky, and a lot of it came down to timing, but it was a really fun gig.” Chirchrillo wrote and oversaw the comedic bits for the newsroom-based comedy show. “It was great. We would bring in tons of special and celebrity guests, and the people at Playboy had a great sense of humor and there’s not a lot of egos. It was just about having fun and putting on the best show we could.” They wrote a different show every day of the week — an impressive feat in its own right.

    Closing out, Chirchrillo offered some final words of wisdom to the aspiring NYFA screenwriters. “Outline. For a long time, I didn’t, but it really helps. Also, check out Dan Harmon’s 8-steps to Structure. That’s been really helpful for me.” On getting hired on assignments, Chirchirillo reminded the room, “Give them what they want, of course, but remember nothing has to be dumb, and it can all come from you. Find your way to address the note, that’s how you’ll do your best work. And do whatever you need to get your movies made, because that’s what it’s really about: getting movies made.”

    David Chirchirillo, who also wrote a segment for ABCs of Death 2, is currently writing the psychological horror thriller Eli in addition to other projects. He is repped by Bellevue Management and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

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    February 18, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4182

  • Ken Lerner Brings His Vast Acting Experience to NYFA

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    Ken Lerner

    Actor and NYFA Acting Instructor, Ken Lerner

    One of the finest and most accomplished feelings for a teacher is when his or her pupils succeed in the real world. Such is the case with New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film Instructor Ken Lerner, who is not only recognized for his long-standing career as an actor but also for his help in getting thousands of actors cast in movies, television shows, pilots and plays.

    Ken’s audition technique and scene study classes are exciting places to grow as an actor. His technique combines the wisdom of the great acting teachers with whom he has studied—London, Stella Adler and Peggy Feury—with his own extensive hands-on experiences in movies, TV shows, plays and commercials.

    “I love teaching at NYFA because of all the countries that the students come from,” said Lerner. “It is a melting pot of experiences — the enthusiasm of these actors is energizing.”

    Similar to many of NYFA’s staff of talented instructors, Ken has continued to work in TV, movies, and commercials for the last 36 years, making his a recognizable face everywhere he goes. He has appeared in more than 100 top television shows, including The Mentalist, NCIS, In Plain Sight, Two and a Half Men, Desperate Housewives, Castle, Weeds, CSI, Without a Trace and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He has had over 40 film roles, including Unlawful Entry, The Doctor, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Running Man, The Story of Us, Immediate Family, Irreconcilable Differences and Project X. In addition to film and television, Ken has starred in productions at The Pasadena Playhouse and Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theater and off-Broadway.

    “My experience in the industry seems to be the biggest factor in my ability to be trusted that I know what I am teaching them, especially about auditions. I constantly use my acting jobs as reference for my students’ learning.”

    Ken’s experience on sets and on stage give him the ability to share inside information with his students. Ken’s positive approach to the work and outstanding ability to break down scripts help him to nurture and bring out the best qualities in his students. Ken works and auditions all the time and imparts his experiences in his own funny, gentle but firm way. His technique gets results, as evidenced by the success of his students, who star on shows such as House, CSI, Cougar Town, Burn Notice, Scrubs, CSI: Miami and many others.

    Ken uses his extensive contacts in the industry with directors, producers, casting directors and agents to offer special events for his students and monthly industry nights as a public service to the acting community.

    His advice to all of his acting students and those pursuing the craft is to work hard and bring their special qualities to their auditions. “They are unique, and they must bring that into the audition rooms.”

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    January 12, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 5020

  • NYFA Survey: Have We All Switched Over to Streaming?

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    Given the upward trend of online streaming versus traditional cable television and the big screen, the New York Film Academy has decided to conduct a survey to see how our followers are watching their favorite movies and television programs. If you have a minute (literally, no more than a minute), we’d love to get your answers to a few questions pertaining to this topic. Thanks so much for you time!

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    February 21, 2014 • Acting • Views: 2727

  • Literary Agent Says TV is Where it’s At

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    melinda jason

    Once again, producer Tova Laiter put together an exclusive event for New York FIlm Academy students in Los Angeles. One of the toughest obstacles coming out of film or acting school is landing the right agent — or landing any agent for that matter. Given the full house at Warner Bros, Theater 4 for this event, students were anxious to get some inside information from Melinda Jason and her business partner Simon Ore. Melinda is a prominent literary agent at Conspiracy LLC – with her partner Simon Ore – a production and management company based in Los Angeles. As a former lawyer at 20th Century Fox and former Head of Literary Department at Gersh, Melinda has also established producing deals with Universal Television, Disney and Sony Pictures, and has produced five feature films. Some of the talent she is most famous for discovering are Michael J. Fox, Dean Pitchford (writer of Footloose), Ron Bass (writer of Rain Man and My Best Friend’s Wedding), and David Saperstein, whose manuscript Cocoon she sold to Fox. Melinda and Simon Ore are currently developing an animated series, several feature films, and several television pilots, including one in partnership with Producer Nick Welchsler (The Road, Requiem For A Dream, Sex, Lies & Videotape, Drugstore Cowboy).

    Melinda wasted no time in getting straight to the point, “In order to get yourself out there nowadays you have to be a great writer, get a producer, make content and create experiences!” Melinda, who has a first look deal with Fox Television, thinks television is where it’s at today. “TV is great now, it’s on a higher level intellectually, you can get your writers paid and once they are respected there they really get to show what they’ve got. These writers really think, they do research. The arch is different than in film, the characters have a lot of potential. TV is about being strategic.” Melinda clearly cares about her writers.

    Simon spoke in terms of what young writers tend to do when getting off the ground. “Sell your passion!” exclaimed Simon. “Once you are in, find the happy medium in compromising with your work.” Don’t sell out, don’t be unreasonable and inflexible.

    Melinda continued on, saying how a good writer must constantly read. “Read good stuff and bad stuff, lots of it. Go to places like www.simplyscripts.com and do the work.” Simon added that a writer needs to be patient. “Some of it is not over when you’re done. Take a break. Come back to it.”

    One thing the pair really stressed is how in today’s market, writers need to MAKE CONTENT! “Create something, put it on the internet.” However, once you get the ball rolling with credibility, it is important to know where content belongs. “Know the networks, they want different things,” said Melinda. “You have to know where content could live.”

    Her final words of advice, “You have to be really careful to never make a choice based on money. Follow your passion. You must feel strongly about it!”

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    September 27, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 6546

  • Martin Landau Discusses His 60 Years in the Business

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    martinlaundau

    On August 1, the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles welcomed Academy Award winning actor Martin Landau for a screening of Ed Wood (1994), followed by a Q&A between Mr. Landau and NYFA students.

    Mr. Landau, 85, has worked on stage and screen for 60 years, appearing in films such as North by Northwest (1959), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), and Tucker: A Man and his Dream (1988). His television credits include the classic 1960s show Mission Impossible and more recently, several episodes of Entourage.

    Mr. Landau explained to students that he left his early career as a cartoonist to join 2,000 other applicants who auditioned for the Actor’s Studio in New York, ending up as one of only two students selected for admission (the other was Steve McQueen). Offering a history of the Actor’s Studio, Mr. Landau also described his instrumental role in creating Actor’s Studio West in Los Angeles, where he still serves as Artistic Director.

    laundauWith such a rich history in the entertainment industry, Mr. Landau told stories of working with Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, and Tim Burton. He spoke candidly about the actor’s job, and explained that actors must always be observant of what is around them, making their daily lives a preparation for various roles. He demonstrated his own lifetime of observation by precisely impersonating Hitchcock, or by speaking with the Irish and Italian accents of his childhood friends. He said that only bad actors pretend to laugh or cry, and that instead, it’s the actor’s job to prepare and focus on the details and emotions of each character in each moment.

    To that end, Mr. Landau encouraged students to enjoy the filmmaking process as it’s happening. He even showed that he still subscribes to this idea – when asked by a student which of his films was his favorite, Mr. Landau quipped, “Whichever film I’m working on now.” Wrapping up, he told students to reach for the stars: tired of seeing “robots…and more robots” in today’s movies, Mr. Landau convinced the young filmmakers in attendance that it was up to them to once again make movies about real people.

    The NYFA students and staff in attendance were awed by the talent and humor of Mr. Landau, and appreciated his time and important advice.

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    August 6, 2013 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 6588