NYFA Guest Speaker Series
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  • New York Film Academy Hosts Screening and Discussion with Film Critic Peter Rainer

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    On Thursday, July 25th, the New York Film Academy hosted a screening and discussion with Film Critic, Peter Rainer on the film, The Conversation, by Francis Ford Coppola. Made in 1974 The Conversation, is about a surveillance wire tap expert, played by Gene Hackman in his finest performance, who believes he may be implicated in a murder plot. The film is especially relevant today because of the issues it raises about how technology invades our privacy, and for film students, it’s a great example of how sound design on a low budget (courtesy of the amazing Walter Murch) can be an essential storytelling ingredient. It’s also a great example of how a thriller/detective story can also serve as the vehicle for profound observations about the human condition.

    Peter Rainer has 30 years of professional experience as a film critic. Rainer is currently the film critic for the Christian Science Monitor and can be heard regularly on NPR’s Film Week on kpcc-fm. He was one of three finalists in 1998 for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and is a three-time winner of the Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award for best online film critic. He has also written and co-produced two A&E biographies, on Sidney Poitier and John Huston, as well as co-authoring the film Joyride (1977). He has served on the main juries for the Venice and Montreal film festivals.

     

    Rainer opened up the discussion by asking the students in attendance what feelings they had towards the movie. Responses included one student sharing the difference in the impact of sound quality when watching the film on a television screen at home versus in a theater. Another student inquired on Rainer’s opinion on how the ending of the film should be interpreted. Rainer shared, “Well it’s sort of a poetic metaphor, perfect ending for this movie in a way, that somebody whose job it is to infiltrate other people’s lives, is himself done in by the very tactics that he’s a master of.”

    The dialogue continued with Rainer asking a student if they felt as though the murder dream sequence in the film was necesary to the movie. After agreeing that it was not, Rainer added, “I’ve heard this mentioned, I’ve never been able to pin it down, that the film had certain editing issues, editing problems, and that that dream sequence was originally shot not to be a dream scene. Then they sort of cut it in and put the smoke around it and made it seem like it was a dream. I can’t entirely buy that explanation because of what he says to her and so forth. If it wasn’t a dream, if he tracked her down and was yelling at her, then the whole plot falls apart.”

    Rainer then continued on to discuss the alignment the film had with the political environment at the time of its initial release. “As I said when I started out, when this film came out, it was just before Richard Nixon resigned, after he bugged the democratic national committee, and that’s what started the whole Watergate Scandal,” Rainer stated, continuing, “They immediately drew a line between this film and what was going on in the country, but it turns out he had written this script a good ten years before all of that. But a lot of the tools in the film and a lot of the gizmos and mechanisms that he uses were very similar in many ways to what the actual watergate burners used, which is another reason why people thought he was making a great political statement when in fact it was just one of those things.”

    Rainer concluded with sharing insight on Coppola’s belief in auteurs being the only true artists in the filmmaking world, revealing, “Coppola has always had this notion that to be a true artist, you have to be an auteur and write the movie, a well as direct it.” Rainer contested this idea by saying, “I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with adapting other people’s scripts, or adapting other people’s novels. There are many great directors who can’t write screenplays, but know a good screenplay when they see it.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Peter Rainer for sharing his knowledge and critic with students.

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    August 28, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 459

  • New York Film Academy Hosts Q&A with Executive Producer and UPM Nathan Kelly

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    On Tuesday, August 13th, the New York Film Academy hosted a Q&A with Executive Producer, Producer, and UPM, Nathan Kelly. Kelly was joined by a creative executive for Working Title Films, Dana Himmelstein, and the event was moderated by NYFA instructor Denise Carlson.

    Kelly’s line producing credits include Destroyer, Certain Women, Short Term 12, and he just finished production on Covers for Working Title / Focus Features. Recently, Nathan served as the Unit Production Manager on Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood and White Boy Rick.

    Carlson began the Q&A by asking Kelly and Himmelstein to share how they got started in the industry. Kelly shared his journey through film school in which he took part in many different aspects of the film industry before deciding he wanted to become a producer. “I thought I wanted to script supervise then quickly realized I wanted to be more on the producing side of things,” Kelly stated, adding, “So I found my way into becoming an assistant to producers and I worked for a music manager, television producer, celebrity manager in LA for a bit and just learned the general details on how to get things done and navigate problems.”

     

    When asked to share his experiences in performing multiple aspects of production, from executive producing to serving as a unit production manager, Kelly shared, “Each role has a lot of overlap. It’s really unique to the movie and it’s unique to the people you’re working with. It all kind of filters into this idea of being kind of like a team leader and overseeing, helping to manage the budget, the logistics, and the overall methodology of the production and how you’re gonna shoot the movie.”

    Working as collaborators on Working Title / Focus Features’ latest project, Covers, a film about the music industry, Kelly and Himmelstein were asked to share what the development process was like. Nathan began by saying, “This script had an unusually high amount of rewriting  for a production which had nothing to do with the script. The challenges were related to production, and when the movie gets cast a lot of times you may rewrite the roles to fit these different actors that you never anticipated coming on.” Dana added, “There’s a difference in what makes a really good script and what makes a really good movie. Once you’re in production mode, the goal post just moves.”

    Carlson then inquired about Kelly’s biggest project and the summer blockbuster hit, Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, asking him about the environment on set and working with the points of views of well-known filmmakers and acclaimed actors. Kelly stated, “It taught me so much about different ways of thinking about filmmaking. The way that the set functioned was as a big movie, but it also had an intimate energy to it as if it were an independent film. Everybody cared so deeply about what they were doing and the level of dedication that was there was not just from the crew, but also on the cast side as well. Everybody was just insanely dedicated, on time, and available. It was really easy to adopt that same attitude throughout the process.”

    Kelly’s shared some wisdom on what encompasses a great producer, asserting, “You have to protect the movie from every aspect. It’s basically a really careful process of communicating with everybody and allowing the ideas to be out on the table, but making sure to squash all the ones that take away from the film.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kelly and Himmelstein for sharing their experiences and entertainment industry advice with students.

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    August 26, 2019 • Film School, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 422

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum and Emmy Winner Bill Hader

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    On Thursday, April 18, New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum and prolific actor, writer, and director Bill Hader participated in a lively and entertaining Q&A following a screening of his hit HBO series Barry. The event was moderated by Director of the NYFA Q&A Series Tova Laiter.

    Hader is best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, for which he won an Emmy, and has acted in a number of successful films including Superbad (2007), The Skeleton Twins (2014) and Trainwreck (2015), among many others. 

    Laiter opened up the Q&A by asking Hader about his start in the industry. He shared that while he did funny impressions for his friends and family when he was growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he really loved to go to the movies. “When I watched a movie, I got really drawn in by the story, the cinematography, the look of it, the feel of it,” said Hader. 

    When Hader was a teenager, he enjoyed making short films of his own and enrolled in a Filmmaking workshop at NYFA where he made four short films and got a lot of positive feedback from his instructors. Ultimately, Hader moved to Los Angeles, where he started as a production assistant and various low level jobs in the industry.

    Bill Hader

    After working for a while as a production assistant, Hader started to feel creatively unsatisfied, so he started taking improv comedy classes at Second City Theater in Hollywood. Actress Megan Mullally saw Hader perform at Second City and noticed how talented he was and told executive producer of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels, about him. “I had no manager, no agent, no anything,” said Hader, “so I met Lorne Michaels and I auditioned… I auditioned like four or five times for the show… and finally I got the job.”

    A number of students in the audience were interested in asking Hader questions. One student asked how Hader makes his acting feel authentic on shows like Barry. “You have to be truthful, instinctual, and not just go for the laughs,” said Hader. He shared that he watches others express their emotions through small idiosyncrasies and that he will occasionally mimic those mannerisms while acting.

    Another student inquired about Hader’s writing process for Barry. “We kind of have little ‘tentpole’ scenes,” said Hader, “we gotta write this to get to that… We’re constantly working on it but we never fully plan… but the fun of it is kinda seeing where the characters take it… Know that the process is messy and that you’re gonna fail a lot.” He emphasized that writing should always be “character driven” and centered on emotion.

    Bill Hader

    One student asked what advice Hader would give to his younger self when he was starting his career. “I would say to myself, ‘You don’t need to figure it all out this millisecond; it takes time.’ 

    I was terrified of failing… but you have to fail; you have to learn from that and keep doing it and keep doing it… it’s all a process,” said Hader.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank actor, writer, and NYFA alum Bill Hader for sharing his writing and acting advice as well as the lessons he learned from his experience in the entertainment industry with our students.

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  • Film and TV Star Michael Chiklis Speaks at New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    Emmy-winning actor Michael Chiklis joined the students of New York Film Academy (NYFA) for a discussion about techniques, reinvention, and the impact of image in the film industry. The event kicked off with a screening of the pilot of hit show The Shield, followed by a Q&A with the students.

    Tova Laiter, NYFA Director of the Q&A Series, opened the talk with a comparison of two of Chiklis’ best-known projects: gritty crime drama The Shield, and Best Picture winner The French Connection. Both of the projects feature depictions of antihero cops, handheld cinematography, and a raw energy.

     

    Such roles typify his career–Chiklis is perhaps best known for playing police officers, including LAPD detective Vic Mackey on The Shield, Commissioner Tony Scali on ABC police drama The Commish, and former police captain Nathaniel Barnes in Gotham. But it almost didn’t happen. In order to get his breakthrough role, he had to completely reinvent his image.

     

    Chiklis had been typecast as a nice guy, a far cry from the hard-hitting cop roles he wanted to land. His wife told him, “You might be a wonderful actor but what you’re showing the community right now is a roly-poly affable guy.” He shaved his head, and began hitting the gym six days a week. By the time he auditioned for the role, he looked very different, and got the part immediately. His takeaway? “It’s not up to the studios or others to reinvent you. It’s up to you to do so.”

    His time spent in roles like Detective Mackey has also given him a unique perspective on what makes a character appealing to viewers. “I knew that in order to hold onto an audience… he has to be compelling to watch but that there was going to have to be a lot about this guy that you actually like.”

     

    Chiklis has portrayed The Thing in the Fantastic Four film series, and Jim Powell on the ABC science fiction comedy-drama No Ordinary Family. Additionally, he co-starred as Vincent Savino on the CBS crime drama, Vegas. In 2014, Chiklis joined the cast of American Horror Story for its fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show.

     

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank TV & Film star Michael Chiklis for sharing his insights into acting and the entertainment industry with our students!

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    March 8, 2019 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 260

  • Documentarian Amy Rice Presents “By The People” to New York Film Academy Students

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThis July, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments presented a screening of By the People: The Election of Barack Obama followed by a Q&A with director Amy Rice. The discussion was moderated by Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    The nearly two-hour film documents the years leading up to the election of Barack Obama. Rice gives viewers an inside look into Obama’s evolution from little-known Illinois Senator to symbol of change for a generation.

    Calling it one of her favorite documentaries, Rice was greatly influenced by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s The War Room, about Bill Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992. By the People premiered in August of 2009 on HBO, and last week’s screening gave younger students a look at how the 2008 election differed from recent elections.

    Rice began her career as a cinematographer, working with her eventual co-director on By the People, Alicia Sams. The documentarian talked about the appeal of this type filmmaking, saying, “There was something very organic about documentary. Just pick up your camera and go shoot and follow the story as it’s unfolding in front of you.” 

    "By the People" director Amy Rice

    By the People director Amy Rice.

    After her other brother told her about Obama before he was well-known, Rice watched his speeches and read his book, Dreams from My Father. “I was just naturally obsessed with his story,” she says.

    Her and her team used a trip to Africa during a congressional delegation trip as a testing ground. From there, the film follows the lead-up to the 2008 election and Obama’s transition from presidential long shot to favorite. Rice discussed the difficulties that began to arise as the presidential candidate’s popularity increased. For instance, at one point the film crew was unable to use a boom mic due to secret service safety concerns. Rice pointed out another instance deep into the campaign where security tried to stop her from filming: “I looked so horrified that he was trying to stop me from getting my final shot.” 

    The filmmaker also dropped some words of wisdom on the students throughout the course of the discussion. One thing she stressed was to “always say ‘yes’ to all film opportunities.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Amy Rice for her time and the illuminating discussion with the Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments.

    Watch the trailer below and/or purchase the film here.

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  • Mariano Di Vaio Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles Production Workshop & Guest Speaker Series

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailIt was just another Production Workshop Thursday on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) student crews sprawled across the European set searching for places to shoot, directors framed their shots, actors rehearsed their lines.

    Then he walked onto the backlot: Mariano Di Vaio, Italian fashion star, Forbes magazine top influencer under 30, and NYFA Acting for Film alumnus. Heads turned as he arrived to shoot a production workshop commercial with Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran and Cinematography Instructor Matt Kohnen.

    “It’s a dream come true to be on the backlot,” said Mariano. “I always said to myself maybe one day I could shoot something in Hollywood. And doing this student project, I feel like I’m rewinding back nine years to my student days.”

    In 2009, Mariano enrolled in an Acting for Film course at the New York Film Academy in New York. When he returned to his hometown of Perugia, Italy, he started a blog about men’s fashion that blew up on the web, netting him over 10 million followers on social media and enabling him to start his own clothing and hair product lines.

    Then he was back on a NYFA set collaborating with faculty and staff on a shoot designed to teach students and alumni how to film a commercial. It featured several of his brands: Mariano Di Vaio Limited Edition Hair Products, NOHOW clothing, and MDV Eyewear.

    Written by Nick Sivakumaran, who also directed, the commercial starts with Mariano walking past several NYFA crews shooting a variety of scenes. He notices one crew in particular — they are struggling to shoot a romantic scene between a guy and girl. The director is obviously frustrated at the lack of chemistry between them. Enter Mariano! He gestures to the director, “un moment,” takes aside the actor, and gives him a quick makeover using his hair products and sunglasses. Suddenly, the actor looks great, the actress is in love, and the director is thrilled! Mariano leaves as everyone looks at him in amazement and wonders, “Who was that guy?” 


    The fake crew consisted entirely of NYFA Acting for Film students and alumni. Ezra Ramos (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film), who played the actor and was styled by Mariano for the commercial, reported that “Mariano just opened up his suitcase and said ‘what’s your size’?” Then he rifled through the suitcase to hook Ezra up with MDV Collection suede loafers and a tropical white NoHow shirt festooned with tiny palm trees, pineapples, and bananas.

    Gulshan Salamli (Spring ’17 BFA Acting for Film) played the role of the unimpressed actress, and she said the shoot with Mariano was a very different experience from the usual production workshop. “Mariano is the star, obviously, and it is interesting to work with him, to play a supporting role and observe how much input a star has on set. I realized it’s okay to be in the shadows, that I can express myself yet serve the project at the same time.”

    Fake crew member Mackenzie Leslie (Summer ‘16 One Year Acting for Film) said she learned a lot on set, pointing at a huge flag on a C-stand that was blocking the bright California sun. “This production workshop has way more equipment than I’ve seen before,” she said.  “I’ve never filmed with a dolly. I’ve seen shots that were made that way, but never been in one.”

    Meanwhile, actors Elizabeth Otaola (Summer ‘16 MFA Acting for Film) and Christopher Rybka (Fall ‘15 AFA Acting for Film) discussed Mariano’s career. “He’s not a traditional actor. He’s inspired me to explore other options and ways of having an acting career,” said Elizabeth, who played the director. “Everything is going to evolve. Television and film will change in the next 20 years.  Smart people should be paying attention to that and create their own content and know about marketing.”

    Christopher concurred, saying, “It’s very unique that Mariano has used Instagram as a marketing tool to get out there rather than going to auditions and hoping someone picks him up.”

    The following night, Mariano entertained a full house of students at the NYFA Theater with humorous and informative tales about his career in a Q&A moderated by Film Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley. He emphasized the importance of setting small, achievable goals in pursuit of big dreams, and of approaching every task, learning opportunity, and job with passion — an outlook he attributed to his instructors at NYFA back in 2009.

    When asked what advice he had for students starting an Instagram account for the first time, Mariano replied,“I would start with videos if I had to start from scratch, because right now I think they are the key. The algorithm has changed, so it’s harder for people to just post photos.” More specifically, he “would definitely put up something about comedy because positivity, that’s what people like. Being happy is what people want to get from their phones.”

    Most importantly, Mariano encouraged students to do exactly what they had been doing when he walked onto the Universal backlot — collaborate with as many people as possible to increase social media following. “If all of you guys here start to do something together, even a small project, you already can reach how many? 10,000 people for sure.” Another reason to collaborate: “Sometimes when you talk and do something with other creative people, something better comes up, better than what you can do by yourself.”  

    Speaking of collaboration, the Mariano Di Vaio/NYFA Los Angeles commercial project will drop on social media sometime in May. Be on the lookout!

    Update – Here’s the NYFA/MDV collaboration for Hair Bello!

    And here it is !! The @hair_bello movie is here! Hope you guys love the amazing work we did at the Hollywood Studios in Los Angeles ! Comment if you liked the old hairstyle better or not!❤️?

    A post shared by Mariano Di Vaio (@marianodivaio) on

    NOTE: in addition to the students quoted above, the shoot also featured Paulina Hilla (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film) and Amber Satcher (Fall ‘16 MFA Acting for Film).  

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes ‘Riverdale’ Stars Ashleigh Murray and Casey Cott

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailTwo stars of hit CW series Riverdale joined the New York Film Academy (NYFA) for a sneak-peek screening of an upcoming episode and a lively discussion with the students of the Musical Theater and Acting for Film departments. Actors Ashleigh Murray, who plays rocker Josie McCoy, and Casey Cott, who plays groundbreaking character Kevin Keller, shared their insights on the show and the industry.

    The episode, entitled “Chapter Thirty-One: A Night to Remember,” adopts a musical format as the characters rehearse and perform Carrie: The Musical at their high school. The musical is the exact show the students are currently rehearsing at the NYFA Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT), which was recently profiled in Variety as a leader in preparing professionals for the medium. This gave the stars and the students common ground for a more in-depth and meaningful discussion of acting technique.

     

    Ashleigh Murray praised the conservatory model of training, stating that it allowed actors a higher level of concentration on their work. “Sometimes focusing just on what you want is the best way to go,” she said, “Because you can just let your right brain take over.”

     

    Casey Cott agreed. “You’re in a unique spot right now to adjust the way you think about art and the way you think about acting,” he told the students, “and to put your bias aside whenever you go see a movie, a TV show, or a play, you can think about it unbiased. Don’t think of it as good or not. Think about what it is, and how you can adjust what you do to fit into the style of what that is.”

     

    In addition to her work on Riverdale, Murray has appeared on Younger, WB show The Following, and Netflix original film Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, along with a national commercial campaign for Coca-Cola and Lady Gaga’s 2013 MTV VMA promo video. Cott’s credits include Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, where he played Lucas Hull, and 2019 drama All the Little Things We Kill. He has also appeared in numerous stage productions, including Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Parade, and The Prince of Egypt.

     

    After the talk, PCMT Creative Director Kristy Cates said, “We are so lucky to have had Ashleigh and Casey speak to our students after the screening. They gave wonderful advice, were extremely gracious, and provided great insight into the business. As creative director of our program, it is such a thrill to be able to facilitate such unique experiences for my students. Special thanks to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation for making this possible!”

     

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Riverdale and actors Ashleigh Murray and Casey Cott for sharing this special event with our students.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 28, 2018 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 223

  • Talent Agent Jennifer Boyce Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailTalent agent Jennifer Boyce recently dropped by the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles for a Q&A with our students and to speak about her many years in Hollywood as an agent, working at both the Savage Agency and KMR Talent. Senior Enrollment Advisor Chris Devane and Associate Chair of Acting for Film Anne Moore hosted the evening.

    Students heard Boyce’s perspective on head shots and tips on what to do when meeting with an agent. Most students had never met an agent before, so one of the most common questions of the night was: How, exactly, they should go about working with one in their careers? What information should actors have on hand?

    From left to right: NYFA’s Senior Enrollment Advisor Chris Devane, Guest Speaker Jennifer Boyce, and Associate Chair of Acting for Film Anne Moore.

    Boyce suggested that students create opportunities to succeed. “If you are an actor, you do not get to sit at home waiting for your agent to call,” Boyce said. “Don’t ask ‘What is my agent doing for me?’ Instead ask, ‘What am I doing for my own career?’”

    Boyce reminded students that an agent only makes 10 percent commission from what actors make, and cautioned them not to expect agents to do more than 10 percent of the work. She echoed the great advice that actors’ minds and bodies are an instrument, and they need to keep their instrument in tune. She hammered home an old truth: actors have to act. Talking about acting is not acting. Thinking about acting is not acting.

    “It takes a lifetime of commitment to have any success in this business,” Boyce warned. “If you’re not willing to put in the work, then you may not be suited for this business.”

    During the Q&A, one NYFA student asked, “For an agent, what is the most important part of an actor’s resume?”

    Boyce’s explained that, first, acting students should focus on the special skills portion of their resumes. This section is often overlooked, but it is often the difference between a callback and never hearing about a particular job again. Special skills include horseback riding, swimming, sewing, or driving a car. It is in this section where casting directors might think of additional roles for which actors may be the right fit. Secondly, while special skills are important, the best thing an actor can do to improve their chances of securing an agent is to train in their field. This is why even professional actors still take acting classes well into an established career.

    Boyce shared that, from an agent’s point of view, actors who continue to take classes and train demonstrate a work ethic and dedication to their craft. Additionally, many casting directors have established relationships with acting coaches. When they spot a familiar name, casting directors can reach out and learn more about an actor, their abilities, and personality.  

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Jennifer Boyce for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with our students. Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 26, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 1107

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

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFollowing 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.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • Angelina Jolie’s Oscar-nominated The Breadwinner Screened at New York Film Academy With Producers Mimi Polk Gitlin & Anthony Leo

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn Tuesday, March 6, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) 3D Animation & VFX students were excited to welcome Oscar-nominated producers Mimi Polk Gitlin and Anthony Leo of The Breadwinner, a feature animation executive-produced by Angelina Jolie.

    Leo has produced Justin Bieber’s Believe, the Bruno & Boots Series, and television series Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. Polk Gitlin is perhaps best known for producing Thelma & Louise, and her work with Director Ridley Scott.

    NYFA animation students watched the duo’s latest film, The Breadwinner, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Director of the Q&A Series at NYFA Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Leo first encountered The Breadwinner, based upon by the book of the same name written by Deborah Ellis, while on vacation. One of his daughters had a friend who loved the book. One night, when the girl’s mother was reading the book aloud, everyone, no matter his or her, age stopped to listen. By the end of the vacation, the two families had both completed the book.

    Leo didn’t immediately purchase the rights to the book. He was a young producer and unsure if he was ready to dive headfirst into such an important property. But, he and the book continued to cross paths. Finally, years after that fateful trip, when he was at Groundwood Books looking for properties to develop, The Breadwinner was revealed as an option. He jumped at the opportunity.

    The decision to adapt the story as an animated film instead of a live-action film was not made lightly. The book was crafted for children ages 10-13 as a part of an educational curriculum. Even so, some of the themes in the book can be challenging to discuss.

    “We thought, if we did a live-action film like The Kite Runner, our concern was that we would lose that 10-13 year-old audience the book was meant for,” Leo said. “Through animation, we could help make those harder scenes more palpable for kids and adults.”

    From there, the producers looked at which animation studios were making this kind of content. Films like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Cartoon Saloon’s The Secret of Kells had paved the way for animated films with serious content aimed at children. Leo pitched The Breadwinner to Cartoon Saloon and they eagerly agreed to work on the project. Soon, Polk Gitlin joined the team to help with financing and Nora Twomey decided to direct.

    The Breadwinner is Polk Gitlin’s first formal introduction to animation. “I’ve always loved movies with strong female protagonists,” she said. “Not only is The Breadwinner about a strong, young, female protagonist, but it also had great substance. It was an inspirational and helpful film that I thought could educate people about what was going on in this part of the world. I hoped this film would inspire people to get up and help make a difference.”

    Polk Gitlin knows how to pick winners. When she and Ridley Scott were producing Alien, she encouraged Ridley to direct. “They’re not going to think of you for this kind of film,” she advised the young filmmaker. “You should take advantage of the fact that we own it and control it.”

    When it came time for the Q&A portion of the evening, one student wanted to know what advice the two had for students just beginning their careers in animation.

    “You should watch all of the animated shorts nominated for the Oscars,” Polk Gitlin told students. “It showcases multiple styles and all of these filmmakers worked on a very tight budget. It helps shape the way you think about your film. Most of those nominees are students.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Leo and Polk Gitlin for taking the time to speak with our students. The Breadwinner is now available to stream on Netflix in the United States. Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail