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  • The Power of Music: Being Part of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Glee Club

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Glee Club is an extracurricular club that not only affords NYFA students another way to express themselves artistically, but brings them together and bonds them through a joint love of music and song.Glee Club Summer 2018

    Sunny Amara, a member of the Glee Club for six semesters and its current choreographer, calls being in the club “a new, exciting, thrilling experience every time. There’s nothing I love more than taking the stage and performing my heart out. The Glee Club has been a perfect place for that. It’s just so much fun.”

    Amara also echoes the sentiment shared by many in the Glee Club, that “the basis of Glee Club is a love of music, a love of singing and a love of performing that we get to share with audiences. And to me, that’s tops.”

    Amara adds, “Watching my choreography come to life with these beautiful, singing souls is an experience unparalleled by any. We work hard in rehearsals getting the music and dances to their best, then we get to pour our hearts out on that stage. There’s nothing better than that to me.”

    These sentiments aren’t just felt by Amara, but by many of the members of the NYFA Glee Club. Lara Heine is studying for her BFA in Acting at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus and is also a member of the club. After a performance at the end of last summer, Heine put her thoughts into words, writing the following piece, entitled “The Power of Music”:

    Music and Dance is like therapy for many people. It eases your soul and spreads happiness.

    At least that is how I always felt. As acting students, we are constantly on the go and expected to give our all. On very rare occasions we get something rewarded.

    That is why I chose to sign up for the Glee Club. To give and receive in return. 

    This semester was filled with a lot of talented and driven people and putting on a performance with them was an honor for me. Melissa Sullivan, our teacher, created an amazing lineup of thoughtful chosen group and solo pieces.

    Glee Club Summer 2018Most of us didn’t know each other when we met for our first rehearsal. Over the span of a few short weeks, we rehearsed some of the most challenging musical theatre pieces. We ended up growing, as a group and as people.

    Musical theatre is not always easy. The pressure to be a triple threat is high. When we were doubting ourselves, Melissa would listen and help us to see the positive and move past it.

    On the night of the performance our nerves were blank. During the final rehearsal, everyone was anxious and worried about different pieces and organizational things. The decorations kept falling of the walls and some of the choreography looked funky. Funnily enough, I was never worried if we were going to be able to pull it off. I just knew I was surrounded by so much talent and creativity that whatever happened, we would be fine. 

    And that was the case. Despite some doubts and worries, we went on stage and performed the hell out of it. As they say: “The show must go on.”

    The audience was blown away. They loved every single one of us. I could tell. The choreography was suddenly remembered by everyone, and the harmonies of all the group pieces were completely pitch-free. We all loved every second of it. We gave our heart and received so much love by the audience. All the hard work paid off. It was an awesome result after one semester of a lot of rehearsing. 

    Thank you to everyone who made this performance so amazing. And a special shoutout to Melissa, who has been our sunshine throughout the whole time.

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    November 12, 2018 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Student Life • Views: 980

  • “Sympathy for the Devil” at 50: New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond Presents Restored Godard Film 

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    Fifty years ago, Jean-Luc Godard filmed an intimate, groundbreaking documentary about the Rolling Stones, capturing the recording of one of their most seminal tracks: “Sympathy for the Devil.” The 1968 documentary shares the same title, though it was originally titled One Plus One before its producers controversially took final cut away from Godard. sympathy for the devil

    The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) recently held a limited theatrical release for the 50th anniversary of Sympathy for the Devil, which was kicked off with a Q&A with New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond, A.S.C., B.S.C. Richmond served as Godard’s director of photography on the documentary, and supervised the color grading of the newly restored, 4K version of the film.

    The restoration was done in London by Arrow Films, working off the still-preserved original 35mm negative. “It’s just wonderful,” says Richmond of the project, adding it was “such an honor to go back to a film I shot fifty years ago and give it another life.”

    Sympathy for the Devil was one of Richmond’s earliest films as director of photography. He has mostly worked on narrative features since then, including Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Sandlot, and Legally Blonde. The London-born, BAFTA-winning cinematographer has resided as Faculty Chair of NYFA-LA’s cinematography school since 2015, where students receive hands-on training in the unique visual language of film with state-of-the-art equipment they can use on their classmates’ productions. 

    Sympathy was a landmark moment in rock and roll documentaries, preceding other films like Gimme Shelter and The Last Waltz. Along with a strong political message, the film captured the birth of one of the Rolling Stones’ most famous hits. It was also a turbulent shoot, with legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard butting heads with his producers, who changed his original ending. As an infamous story goes, at a screening of the film, Godard attempted to screen his original ending outside in the parking lot, and when one of the producers intervened, he punched him in the face. 

    Additionally, some of the film was shot on the streets guerilla-style, without permits. Some shots included jumping out of Godard’s car to film his wife, Anna, spray-painting walls, roads, and vehicles, and then hopping back in the car and taking off before the police arrived.

    With an incredible story told by the film and another one around the making of it, it was no surprise that MoMA would host a limited release on its 50th anniversary. The Q&A with Tony Richmond was held after the September 13 screening, which Richmond told NYFA was “a great success. I enjoyed the Q&A, telling them how much in awe I was with Jean-Luc Godard and what an honor it was to shoot a film for him at such a young age.”

    In a recent profile by Rolling Stone magazine, Richmond went into further detail about the shoot, describing how they would pre-light for each member of the band before they would stroll into the studio after a late night of recording and maybe some hard partying: “We knew where Mick was gonna be, where Keith was gonna be, where Brian and Charlie were gonna be, and it was lit in such a way that we never had to touch anything between takes or disturb the Stones in any way…

    “And then the guys would come in, and they’d get down to work, and we would shoot. We were very quiet, and we had a very, very small crew — just a guy pushing the dolly, a focus-puller, Jean-Luc and I, and everybody else was way in the background.”

    Speaking with NYFA, Richmond added, “I wouldn’t know what we were going to shoot until [Mick Jagger] arrived on the set. I can’t tell you how exciting and frightening that was.”

    All told, the new 4K restoration and MoMA’s limited release of Sympathy for the Devil went very well, and included both the theatrical and Godard’s original ending. Richmond told Rolling Stone, “I hadn’t seen it again on a large screen until recently. And I have to say, I think it’s really fantastic… You really see how they’re putting the music together.”

    [UPDATE: November 7, 2018: Sympathy for the Devil will also be screened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on November 8, 2018.]

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    October 15, 2018 • Cinematography, Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1026

  • NYFA Doc Grad Justin Young to Tour with Colbie Caillat

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    One of the more enticing aspects of the New York Film Academy’s short-term programs is the fact that students can learn an artistic craft that may be outside of their main creative focus. As for NYFA Documentary grad Justin Young — who joined the program with such a strong background in music — the 6-Week Documentary Film Workshop was exactly what he was looking for. Faced with a hectic schedule of touring as a musician, Young was able to gain the knowledge he’d hope for within the time frame of the short-term program.

    justin young

    Young, who is very well known in the Hawaiian music scene, has released several albums to date. He’s also toured with his girlfriend Colbie Callait, as well as Gavin DeGraw.

    We had a chance to catch up with Mr. Young before heading off on another US tour with Colbie called The Malibu Sessions Acoustic Guitar.

    What made you decide to join the New York Film Academy Doc program?

    I’d been trying to find another creative outlet, besides music, for a while. Always loved non-fiction form of storytelling — books, radio programs and of course documentary films. The fact that NYFA offers a 6-week course was really appealing. I could totally immerse myself and see if it was something I wanted to pursue without the long commitment.

    Were there any films or influencers that made you decide to learn documentary filmmaking?

    There have been so many. As a kid, I remember watching Hoop Dreams many times and wanting to find more movies like that — not knowing exactly what documentaries were. Later, Capturing The Friedmans was one that totally floored me. More recently, a movie like Keep On Keeping On, that really shows some beautiful human connections made me want to contribute something like that to the world.


    How would describe your overall experience? What did you achieve or produce during your time at NYFA?

    It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was really bittersweet when the program ended. We got a lot of info and tools jammed into the first week and then were sent out to make things. Personally, I learn best this way and with no filmmaking experience, this really shortened the initial learning curve for me. It also bonded all of my classmates. We all became very close and still keep in touch and joke of a reunion someday. I also felt like the teachers took the time to get to know us and help us individually, meeting us wherever we were in our filmmaking.

    You have a very strong background in music — do you have any ambitions to bring your musical background to a film or documentary project?

    Definitely, plan on doing some scoring for some of my own projects. I think that’s something I can uniquely bring to the table – and it helps with the budget!

    How did your relationship with Colbie Caillait come about?

    We met through mutual friends in the LA music scene 10 years ago. Shortly after that, Colbie asked me to join her band and I became her guitarist and eventually Music Director. After a few years of working together we started dating and are now engaged. It’s great to be able to travel and work with your best friend.

    Can you tell us about this current tour / publicity (Billboard Live, Rolling Stone, etc.) w/Colbie for GOLDMINE?

    We’ve been out and about promoting Colbie’s new single, Goldmine, which took us to The Today Show and performances at Billboard, Rolling Stone and Paste, to new a few. We are doing a US tour in October called The Malibu Sessions Acoustic Tour. I’ll be opening the shows with my own set, as well as playing with Colbie.

    Any personal meaning behind the song? Or do the two of you have a personal favorite song?

    I wrote and produced one song on her new album entitled Runnin’. It’s about her struggle to adjust to life on the road, and on stage, and finally finding a comfortable place to be with it.

    With social media being the force it is, where do you see the future of music going for you and other artists?

    Hard to say. Things are changing so fast for all of us creative people. It is important to stay up on the latest ways to share your work and engage your fans. But really I think what doesn’t change is people will always crave real stuff. Express something that’s honest and truthful and there will be an audience for it.

    When and where can we see you and Colbie sing?

    All tour dates are up at colbiecaillat.com, and I have new music and a new website launching soon at kawikayoung.com

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    August 18, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4778

  • MFA Student Composes Musical Score for Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea”

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    On May 4th, students at the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy enjoyed a screening and Q&A of the Ron Howard film In the Heart of the Sea. On hand to discuss the film was the composer of its musical score and current NYFA Filmmaking MFA student, Roque Baños.

    Originally from Spain, Roque is an acclaimed film composer whose credits include The Machinist, Sexy Beast, the 2013 remake of Evil Dead, Spike Lee’s Oldboy, and many award-winning films from Spain, including the 2004 hit El Crimen Ferpecto.

    Roque Baños

    Roque Baños

    Roque was trained as a jazz saxophonist and classical composer, and he brings an eclectic blend of styles to his film scores, making him a much sought after composer for filmmakers of all genres.

    In addition to mastering many musical genres, Roque doesn’t rely solely on traditional instruments for his scores. For In the Heart of the Sea, Roque created samples for his score by bringing the actual whaling ship from the film into the famed Abbey Road Studios in London and playing it like a percussion instrument.

    This willingness to work beyond the typical is what makes Roque’s scores so appealing and memorable. When the moderator, NYFA’s Dean of the College Sonny Calderon, asked Roque about his approach, Roque replied, “Music is all experimentation. You never know what could make your movie more powerful. The best thing to do is collaborate with someone, and experiment. Fifty percent of the movie is sound. You might have a good movie, but if you have the wrong music, your movie will be bad.”

    When Sonny asked how Roque was hired for the film, he explained that legendary composer Hans Zimmer (Batman v Superman, Interstellar, Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean) recommended him for the job. After meeting with Ron Howard, Roque was hired. This story illustrated the importance of having a network of collaborators who support you and your work.

    When a student asked what kind of language a director should use when working with a composer, Roque responded, “You have to say what you expect from the music, just as you do with any actor; it’s the same emotions.”

    Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon with Roque Baños

    NYFA’s Dean of the College Sonny Calderon with Roque Baños

    Finally, Roque explained that he wanted to earn an MFA in Filmmaking from New York Film Academy in order to better understand the entire filmmaking process. In this way, he said, his musical contributions to film can be even more effective.

    Roque’s latest work can be seen in the biblical epic Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) and directed by Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld, The Count of Monte Cristo, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).

    We thank Roque for sharing his wisdom with our students, and wish him continued great success.

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  • Open Mic Slam at New York Film Academy Café

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    open mic

    Starting this Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 at the New York Film Academy Café on the corner of Lexington Ave. and 24th street in New York City, students, alumni and New York City performers are invited to showcase their talents at our first ever OPEN MIC SLAM!

    Performances are open to live music, poetry or stand-up comedy!

    Sign up starts at 7pm. Performances start at 8pm.

    The first 25 people to sign up are allowed up to 4 minutes on stage to perform.

    There is then a 5 slot waiting list for any extra time at the end of the show. Artists must bring their own music and props for their performances.

    If you’re ready to showcase your talent, we’ll see you there!

    If you have any questions, please email Calaine Schafer at calaine.schafer@nyfa.edu.

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    August 25, 2015 • Community Highlights • Views: 3684

  • Composer Daniel Wohl Joins NYFA Screenwriting Class

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    daniel wohlOn January 13, 2015, composer Daniel Wohl sat down with New York Film Academy’s Business of Screenwriting class to offer up his unique perspective on how he broke into the entertainment business as a composer, and what he looks for when he’s designing the music for his film projects.

    “I didn’t go to school for film composing, I just went for composing generally,” Wohl explained. That he did…Wohl holds a BFA from Bard College, an MFA from the University of Michigan, and is in the process of getting his Doctorate in Music Composition from Yale University, an honor awarded to only a few musicians a year. His academic background in music theory and technique is vast.

    “I knew I wanted to make my own albums,” Wohl stated, “but I always have had a strong interest in writing music for film, TV and other forms of entertainment and being a part of the storytelling process. It’s something I’ve really grown to love.”

    Wohl’s 2013 debut album, the New Amsterdam Records’ Corps Exquis, a multi-media, chamber and electronics project created in conjunction with the TRANSIT new music ensemble and a collective of New York-based video artists, was hailed by the New York Times, Pitchfork and many others, and earned Wohl a coveted spot on NPR’s Top 100 Songs of the Year.

    Wohl also makes a living off commissions and music grants, of which he’s been awarded many. “In some ways, the music world is sort of the reverse of the visual arts world. Someone will commission you to write a piece, and then you get to make something, and it can be whatever you want it to be. In film, where, if you’re hired by a director, producers or studio execs, they have a real say over what your music turns out to be. The music world isn’t like that as much. That’s one of the freeing things about the professional music community, they really trust their artists and let them — encourage them really — to do their best work as they see it.”

    More recently, Wohl has become involved in the world of film composing, working on some impressive projects. He was the composer on The Color of Time, starring Mila Kunis, and Jessica Chastain, a poetic road trip through Pulitzer-Prize winning C.K. Williams’ life.  He also composed the music for the surreal drama Elixir, a film by Brodie Higgs, which recently premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, and The Fly Room, which was an official selection at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival.

    Wohl explained that he’s basically “the third to last person to work on the film.” “It’s a close collaboration with the director. You usually have about six weeks to write the music. Sometimes, the director will give you a ‘temp track’, so you know sort of the tone they’re going for, but it’s really about figuring out what the director wants. All directors know what they don’t want and what they don’t like, but not all know what they want — until they hear it,” Wohl explained. “It’s part of my work to help get them there.”

    the color of time

    “The Color of Time”

    Wohl will often watch an early cut of the movie and/or read the script when he’s preparing to craft the musical tracks that will become the melodic pulse of the film.”The story and the music are intricately linked.” Wohl played selections from the recent films he scored, allowing the students to see some of his finished products.

    “Music definitely helps tell the story, and cue the audience into how to feel. Sometimes, it can save a scene, and deliver meaning that really isn’t obvious without the music. I definitely look for those moments of emotional catharsis and shift in the storytelling, so that the music works with the story seamlessly.” Wohl explained how on some projects the director might want a musical theme for each main character, and how his background in musical composition really helps generally.  “Films, like music, have a real rhythm, and you definitely have to listen for that. Even if you’re not an expert on a given style — say jazz — you may still have to write something in that style to go with intrinsic rhythm and mood of the scene.”

    Wohl has received support from grants including New Music USA, Meet the Composer/Commissioning Music USA, the American Composers Forum / Jerome Foundation, C.A.P, the Barlow Endowment, MET Life Creative Connections, and the Brooklyn Arts Council, amongst many others.

    His music has been heard at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Webster Hall,  Dia Beacon, Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center, Mass MoCA, Disney Hall’s REDCAT, the Chelsea Art Museum, MoMA, Arsenal de Metz (France), Warhol Museum, as well as over media outlets such as NPR, PBS, WQXR, CANAL +, TFI and FRANCE 2.

    Wohl is also passionate about bringing music to younger artists and has taught courses in composition, orchestration, and theory at Sarah Lawrence College and at Yale, and — in addition to NYFA — has given talks at NYU, Brooklyn College, Juilliard (evening division), and Amherst College.

    More info on Daniel Wohl can be found at his website www.danielwohlmusic.com. Born and raised outside Paris, France, Daniel Wohl currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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    February 17, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4646

  • Geoffray Barbier’s Video Featured on Jay Z’s Youtube Page

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    New York Film Academy Filmmaking Instructor, Geoffray Barbier directed a short film for Oddka about the New York City band, The Virgins, which is being featured exclusively on Jay Z’s YouTube page. In the video, the band members discuss the relief of removing themselves from a major record label and focusing on their love of the music. Be sure to check it out!

    fgqw_AfficheOddkaxTheVirgins_1

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    June 27, 2013 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 4264