neal weisman

  • NYFA Presents: The Rock The Vote Rally 2020


    A rousing group of New York Film Academy students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses (New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach) participated in a Rock the Vote Virtual Rally yesterday. The Rally included special guest, Tony-nominated actor Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s RENT, Les Misérables, The Rocky Horror Show ), who shared stories of her immigrant family background, becoming a U.S citizen, and the imperative to vote. 

    NYFA Producing alum Lisa Cortes (producer of the Academy Award-winning Precious, recent Emmy Award-winner for The Apollo, and producer/co-director of the just-released Stacey Abrams documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy) spoke of the importance of voting in light of the long history of voter suppression in the U.S. In the making of All In: The Fight For Democracy during the COVID pandemic, Cortes talked about how her NYFA Producing education proved so valuable in pulling together the project during such challenging times. Attendees were treated to a special viewing of the All In trailer and a special musical clip of Janelle Monae performing the closing title song from the film. 

    Also joining via specially recorded video clips was Nikki Renée Daniels from “Hamilton” and Shoshana Bean from “Wicked”,  A special “Get Out The Vote” tribute by Lin Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton capped the Rally. 

    The event was co-produced by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Chair of the Musical Theatre Department, Kristy Cates. 

    “Our sincerest hope was not only to invigorate the NYFA community to become excited about and committed to voting, but to inspire everyone in attendance to reach out to their circles and do the same.” – Kristy Cates

    NYFA’s Rock The Vote efforts include a Zoom room every Tuesday from 1 p.m. ET – 4 p.m. ET that offers voter registration and mail-in ballot assistance for NYFA students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses. Please stop in and check your registration, apply for absentee ballots, etc. Further information is available on the NYFA Voter Resources page.

  • BAFTA New York / New York Film Academy (NYFA) Produce Second Successful Teen Workshop


    The 8-Week Digital Storytelling workshop presented by BAFTA New York and New York Film Academy (NYFA) culminated in a joyous graduation screening on Saturday, November 23.

    Participating students from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx showed their recently completed short films to a capacity crowd of friends, family, and well-wishers at NYFA’s Battery Park campus. A total of eleven films—written, directed, and edited by each of the students—were screened. Romance and horror genres figured prominently, along with a good dose of comedy.

    BAFTA DeWitt Clinton High School November 2019

    Over the course of eight Saturdays, the students learned basic skills of filmmaking: directing, screenwriting, camera, lighting, producing, and editing. Under the expert guidance of various New York Film Academy instructors, the students were working hands-on with state-of-the-art equipment and shooting test sequences from their very first day. The finished films showed a high degree of proficiency, especially considering the short schedule.

    This was the second workshop sponsored by BAFTA NY, an outgrowth of the Learning and New Talent Committee, in conjunction with the New York Film Academy. DeWitt Clinton High School boasts an impressive list of alumni including such luminaries as James Baldwin and Stan Lee, as well as BAFTA winner, Committee member, and Chair of NYFA-NY Producing Neal Weisman. 

    All are looking forward to continuing this workshop program, helping to give voice and digital storytelling skills to some of New York City’s most diverse public school population.

    New York Film Academy congratulates the DeWitt Clinton High School students on their impressive work!


    November 27, 2019 • Outreach, Producing • Views: 1820

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Participant Media CEO David Linde


    David Linde, CEO of Participant Media, the leading global media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social change, recently spent a morning in conversation with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing Chair Neal Weisman as the latest NYFA Producing Department Industry Speaker. Linde and Participant are coming off a hot streak having produced recent Oscar winners Green Book and Roma.

    Linde spoke at NYFA’s New York campus. Attending the speaker series event were students of the NYFA Producing department, as well as students from the NYFA Documentary, Screenwriting, and Filmmaking departments.David Linde

    Linde shared his biographical highlights, starting with his first job in the paralegal department of Paramount Studios in New York City.  He discussed his move into film sales starting with Fox Lorber, and then Miramax, before becoming a partner of the seminal New York production outfit Good Machine. 

    Many of Linde’s relationships with acclaimed filmmakers were forged during this period, including directors Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Ang Lee, Todd Haynes, and Todd Solondz. Linde lavished high praise on one of his mentors, legendary producer Saul Zaentz; they worked together on The English Patient (winner of nine Academy Awards).

    Linde also shared his experience as Chairman of Universal Pictures, where his lengthy—and ultimately successful—campaign brought the studio full force into animation and the family market.

    Two major themes emerged from the discussion – Linde spoke extensively about melding his sales perspective with long-standing relationships with filmmakers. As Co-Head of Focus Features, he went on to distribute such notable projects like Brokeback Mountain, The Motorcycle Diaries, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 21 Grams, and Lost in Translation.

    David Linde

    Linde also shared Participant’s philosophy of backing entertaining narrative feature films and documentaries that can serve as catalysts for social change. 

    He spoke extensively of the social and political action inspired by Roma. One victory cited by Linde is that domestic workers in Mexico will now be entitled to participate in their country’s social security system. Weisman mentioned that comparable efforts are underway through Participant’s work in the US in conjunction with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Students are encouraged to check out the social action element of the Participant website here.

    Linde also addressed the role of Netflix in the distribution of Roma and the industry-at-large. Both Participant and Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón are exceedingly pleased with the way Netflix rolled out the picture, as well as the large viewing figures. Weisman mentioned that Roma blazed a trail for a new kind of hybrid distribution model, about to be put to use with the release of the new Martin Scorsese film The Irishman.

    Linde then inspired the students in attendance by noting that the advent of streaming services has created great opportunities as there are “so many new buyers.”

    New York Film Academy thanks CEO of Participant Media, David Linde, for generously sharing his insight and wisdom with our students!


    October 21, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 2047

  • NYFA Welcomes Exec. Producer of Academy Award Nominated ‘Foxcatcher’

    John Guira

    Executive Producer John Giura with NYFA Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman

    The Producing Department’s Industry Speaker program recently hosted John Giura, Executive Producer of Academy Award nominated film Foxcatcher. Students from various New York Film Academy departments participated in a wide ranging conversation and Q&A session moderated by Producing Co-Chair Neal Weisman, covering everything from the genesis of the project though it’s current release. John brought a unique perspective on the film, as he was one of the champion wrestlers participating in the real events portrayed in the movie. Involved in the development of the script from its earliest stages, students discussed the evolution of the story from real life through numerous draft screenplays to the screen. John graciously provided a link to the screenplay in advance of the session, enabling students to fully appreciate his insights to the development process. A discussion on the casting and eventual financing of the film by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures followed.

    John Guira

    NYFA Producing Class at Battery Park

    John was able to give NYFA students an inside look at the shooting of the movie, as he also served as wrestling consultant. Training actors Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo, as well as choreographing sequences with director Bennett Miller, provided a close appreciation of the filmmaking techniques employed in the creation of this acclaimed film. John commented on a variety of clips from the movie, and shared some exclusive “behind the scenes” footage that he personally shot on set.

    Foxcatcher is currently in theaters nationwide, and has been nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Make Up and Hair. John Giura is currently producing and directing a feature documentary about a high school wrestling team in Oak Park, IL.


    January 29, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 7338

  • ‘Bad Turn Worse’ Filmmaker Returns to NYFA


    bad turn worse

    The New York Film Academy’s Producing Program Industry Speaker series hosted an exclusive screening of the new film Bad Turn Worse this week at the Union Square Screening Room. Opening this weekend in New York, and then fifteen cities across the United States (as well as Video On Demand), NYFA students participated in a post-screening Q&A session with filmmakers Zeke and Simon Hawkins, moderated by Producing Department Co-Chair Neal Weisman.

    The story revolves around three Texas teens who hope to make a break for it and escape their dead-end existence in a cotton-mill town but get sucked into the seedy underbelly of organized crime when one of them steals from the wrong man.

    Having premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and picked up for distribution by Starz, the movie is a thriller set in rural contemporary Texas. The directors, who are brothers, cited various influences in making this first feature film including Terence Malick’s Badlands, Steven Spielberg’s The Sugarland Express, and James Foley’s At Close Range. Made on a low budget, the film shot over forty days, and stars a host of emerging young actors, as well as William Devane (currently appearing in Interstellar). The directors shared their experiences working with L.A. based producers Justin Duprie and Brian Udovich, as well as heads of departments Cinematographer Jeff Bierman and Production Designer Seong-Jin Moon. Director Simon Hawkins also served as Editor on the film. The filmmakers explained their work process, what it’s like to direct as a team – who also happen to be brothers.

    NYFA students were pleasantly surprised to hear that director Simon Hawkins took his very first film course at the New York Film Academy twelve years ago. Screening his first feature film on campus was an exciting homecoming for this NYFA graduate!


    November 13, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 5556