New York Film Academy guest speaker
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  • New York Film Academy Welcomes Producer Ted Field as Guest Speaker

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles recently had the honor of hosting prolific producer Ted Field for a Q&A, following a screening of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Currently the chairman and owner of Radar Pictures, Field has seen success in both film and music. In 1984, he founded Interscope Films, which produced hits like Cocktail, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Mr. Holland’s Opus, and more. He also founded Interscope Records, an independent record label that signed emerging artists such as Dr. Dre. Eminem, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and others. Through his current company, Field has released hits like The Last Samurai, Spring Breakers, the Riddick franchise, and The Amityville Horror.

    Field’s first film was Revenge of the Nerds, and he and Laiter fondly reminisced about the movie. Field shared some of his struggles making the film, “…[it] still took me two years to get that film made. And I almost gave up. I was like, ‘This business is just too hard’ and I nearly quit, and all of a sudden … [Fox] greenlit the film.”

    Field also talked about his previous career as a race car driver: “If you’re thinking at 240 miles an hour about characters in your movie, it’s time to switch careers.”

    Laiter asked about the difficult things a producer has to do, including getting the rights to thought-after source material. Field dove into the topic, saying, “This business is ultimately about persuasion … you have to find a way to get to that author, tell that author how passionate you are, and how you would make it, and how you would protect his vision. Break down doors. Don’t take no for an answer … You know, the word you’ll hear most in the movie business, or the television business, is no. That’s the word. And it should not matter. By the way, you don’t get any credit for having made a lot of movies. We’ve made a lot of movies, but each one is a new series of no’s before we get a yes.”

    One student asked, “How does the development process work?” Field said that the development process is different on every film, and the one thing that almost all films have in common is they’re collaborative.

    “And, to me,” he added, “A producers not really a producer if he isn’t working on development — if he isn’t reading every draft, making comments on every draft … in the end, your responsibility as a producer is to make the best film possible.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ted Field for taking the time to speak to our students and share his wisdom from his many years in the industry.

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    June 20, 2018 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 2858

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    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.

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