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  • Blues Brothers and a Talk with Producer Sean Daniel

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    Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 1.26.39 PM

    On Tuesday, New York Film Academy in Los Angeles welcomed producer, Sean Daniel. Sean provided insight into the life of a producer, both independently and within the studio system. As President of Production at Universal Pictures for several years, he was integrally part of overseeing films such as Animal House, Sixteen Candles, and Blues Brothers, which was screened before the Q&A. Now, as an independent producer and current head of his own production company, Sean Daniel Productions, Sean has brought to life the successful The Mummy franchise, and has several films in development, including a Ben-Hur remake.

    His journey to Hollywood began in 1970, when he received a scholarship to California Institute For the Arts, and just so happened to be first in his class for filmmaking.

    Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 1.35.53 PMAfter college, he applied for a P.A. position at Universal. From there, Ned Tannen, whom he spoke of with great respect and called a “bold studio head,” took him under his wing. He eventually became the youngest President of a studio (at that time) at the age of 34. “I read every script and wrote a lot of coverage,” said Daniel. “Ned liked my point of view. I watched all the dailies I could get my hands on, and eventually got my way onto projects.”

    Later, Sean was asked by one of NYFA‘s producing students from Brazil, “What qualities must a good producer possess?” Sean’s response was simple, yet great advice, “One, you must love it. Two, You must not be in it for the money. Three, you must be incredibly stubborn. Four, you should be really skillful at dealing with people.”

    It’s no secret that maintaining a career as a producer in Hollywood is a very difficult endeavor. Sean admitted that producing takes extremely hard work. Having been involved in many risky ventures, Sean left the students with these words, “It’s always a fight to get any movie made. At the end of the day, however, I love movie making.”

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    July 18, 2013 • Acting • Views: 6221

  • So You Want To Be A Producer?

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    You’ve seen him or her portrayed in the movies as often suave, well-groomed individuals and perhaps you have concocted your own idea of what a producer’s role is on a movie. But, what does a producer actually do? New York Film Academy’s Producing for TV & Film Program aims to break down exactly what it takes to produce a film or television series in today’s market. The program is geared toward students with little to no experience, as often is the case with up and coming producers. After all, you need to start somewhere. It is those students who are eager to control their own destiny in the world of film and television who will flourish in NYFA’s hands-on intensive Producing Program.

    From day one, students are treated as producers and this will last throughout the duration of the course. Students are encouraged to bring a piece of intellectual property, or original material, into the course to develop as their thesis project. Like the real world, the process is broken down into the various stages of production: pitch, treatment, script, talent search, budgeting, scheduling, and plans for marketing and distribution.

    In the past, NYFA has welcomed a number of well known producers to speak with students, providing valuable insight and the motivation needed to break into this exclusive industry. Past speakers have included: Steven Spielberg, Gary Marshall, Ron Howard, Al Ruddy, and many more.

    New York Film Academy degree programs in Producing are offered at all three of our domestic campuses: New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach, Miami.

    If you’d like to request information about New York Film Academy’s Producing Program, CLICK HERE

     

     

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    April 30, 2013 • Producing • Views: 5495

  • Congratulations NYFA Grads!

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    Congratulations to New York Film Academy’s new crop of future filmmakers! Last weekend, 54 filmmaking students graduated from the school’s Los Angeles campus. Four-time Emmy Award winner, Jay Kogen, delivered a rousing commencement speech to the grads. The producer/writer/director, best known for his work on The Simpsons, Frasier, The Tracey Ullman Show, and Malcolm in the Middle, inspired the students to chase their dreams.

    Congratulations to the AFA Filmmaking graduates: Eskil André Brattgjerd, Carlos Garcia, Mohammad Lajevardi, James Neill, and Elias Smith; and to our MFA Filmmaking graduates: Yagiz Acar, Farah Fuad Alhashim, Victor Aminger, Charles Ancelle, Kirsten Eleanor Anderson, Adrian Aquino, Annique Arredondo, Raul Asensio Molina, Eduardo Augusto, Stefani Avila, Tatiana Beller, Askar Bissembin, Nataliya Bobytska, Nicolas Brouwers, Neil Casey, Pablo Chozas Zambrana, John Chuka, Filipe Ferraz Coutinho, Min Dai, Lu Feng, Seth Fuller, Jubilee Gamaniel, Rafael Garcia, Matthew Gengel, Yifei Guo, Yang He, Shirley Hon, McKinley Johnson, Prarthana Suneel Joshi, Christian Jurgensen, Geet Kandya, Dae Kyu Lee, Nancy Lee, Rishi Mehta, Jason Mohan, Adrian Morales Ramos, Roona Mukhopadhyay, Rima Naim, Sishu Peng, Juhi Roddam, Bryan Rooney, Thomas Schade, Galo Semblantes, Anna Skrypka, Keith Thompson, Aili Wang, Robert Womack II, Zi Xiang, Wen-Hsin Yu!

     

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    February 1, 2013 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5444

  • Timur Bekmambetov Talks Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, and Vampire Hunting

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    Director/producer Timur Bekmambetov, who has been called “the Russian Steven Spielberg,” recently visited students at New York Film Academy, following a screening of his film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Born in present-day Kazakhstan, Bekmambetov made his mark with Hollywood studios and U.S. audiences with Night Watch, one of the highest-grossing Russian films of all time.

    He made his Hollywood directorial debut with 2008’s Wanted, an action blockbuster starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. Of his stars, he said, “Morgan is very simple to work with, and always jokes around on set. Angelina is very different. She is very serious, very focused. She’s a genius. She’s very powerful. You have to surround yourself with actors you trust.”

    Following the success of Wanted, Timur Bekmambetov teamed up with producers Tim Burton and Jim Lemley for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. When asked how he decided to take on a film based on a vampire/action/historical/period piece novel, Bekmambetov said, “It’s a challenge. It’s important to fall in love with the material. You need to be brave and forget about the rules. There’s no way to [know] how the audience will respond.” The audience responded well, with the film bringing in over $114 million worldwide. Bekmambetov is currently hard at work on preproduction for Wanted 2.

    Timur is also at work on a startup related to the film, and we are proud that he chose NYFA students to work with him on developing it further.

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    December 3, 2012 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4390

  • Making it in Hollywood with Donald De Line

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    Producer Donald De Line recently visited students at New York Film Academy as part of the ongoing guest speaker series, following a screening of The Green Lantern. De Line served as President and Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures, before moving on to Touchstone Pictures. During his tenure as President of Touchstone, he oversaw films including Pretty Woman, Father of the Bride, Ransom, What’s Love Got to Do With It, Rushmore, Ed Wood, and the worldwide blockbuster, Armageddon.

    “My thing was always just to work hard, stay in my office, and keep my head down,” says De Line. “Jeffrey Katzenberg always said that you have to be like a race horse with blinders on. You have to look straight ahead and know what you’re looking for.”

    De Line did just that, and scored his first major hit as a solo producer with The Italian Job, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton. He also produced Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies, and John Hamburg’s I Love You Man.

    “Always be studying,” he said to the theater of New York Film Academy students. “Always be working in whatever form you can. Keep your instrument going. And then learn everything that you can about the business. Stay educated. Know what movies are being made around town. Read the trades. Read every script you can get your hands on.”

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    November 27, 2012 • Guest Speakers • Views: 6537

  • The Importance of Learning Your Audience

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    Ron Tippe is the department chair of the Producing department at the New York Film Academy. He is best known as the animation producer for the smash hit Space Jam. He managed the Walt Disney Feature Animation studio in Paris, France while producing the short film Runaway Brain which was nominated for an Academy award. He was also responsible for pre-production on Shrek and worked with George Lucas in collaboration with Universal Studios on Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. 

    I must be a lucky guy. After 27 years in Hollywood with a successful career in the film business, I’m now the Chair of Producing for NYFA. First off, I get to work with some very special people. My fellow colleagues come from various countries which offer different perspectives from a variety of cultures around the world. That said, the commonality is their love of cinema. Almost to a person, the level of passion is infectious and energizing. This attitude towards the art of filmmaking is what constitutes success as a film producer.

    • KNOW WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS. In the entertainment business, nothing is decided at the studio level these days. At least not without going through marketing, branding and PR first. The goal for a studio is to maximize financial gain and stem any losses. Focus groups are de rigeur. In the independent world, film festivals and smaller theatrical releases often depend on word-of-mouth in addition to ever-expanding social media campaigns.
    • GRAB THEM IN THE FIRST TEN MINUTES. When looking for a film to produce, make sure that the first 10 pages of the script are compelling. Introduce the main characters and make sure we understand what the protagonist wants. And then how the antagonist prevents that from happening. Comedy or drama, action or fantasy, a great story is imperative to grab the audience. The sooner the better!
    • WE ARE GLOBAL. The box office is increasingly getting two-thirds of their money  internationally. Producers, it’s a global marketplace. Know it. Own it.
    • WORD OF MOUTH IS A MOVIE’S BEST FRIEND. If an audience is satisfied, he or she will tell others. Facebook, Twitter, Email. You name it, they will use it.  Social media is where it’s at.
    • AUDIENCES ARE NOT STUPID. They are very culturally savvy, increasingly educated and obviously fickle. They know what they like and dislike.

    A producer is someone who works insane hours under very difficult conditions. You’re always inside the pressure cooker. You’re constantly nudged by studio executives with their myriad of concerns—most of which are related to budgets and finance. How is this related to being a teacher of film? Passion is absolutely essential in the making a film, or at least in providing a great experience during the making of that film. The same is true in the classroom. A passionate teacher is infectious, and that passion often manifests itself in motivated and inspired students. A great producer can make or break that wonderful experience. After all, the producer is who a crew looks to for leadership. It’s a high standard. The same is true in the classroom here at NYFA. We aim to attain the highest standards and “shoot” for it every single day.

    I’m proud of my teachers and students. We are motivated and inquisitive. Most importantly, we work hard. The students will become great producers for the next generation of moviegoers. Because producers have a strong hand in the filmmaking process, we should be proud of the education that the students are getting here at NYFA. Frankly, we should let the world know how good we are. Time to get the word out. Producer. Teacher. Leader. Motivator. I must be a very lucky guy. Stand by to roll.

    Action!

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    April 24, 2012 • Producing • Views: 5720

  • Producer Chris Brigham and His Road to "Inception"

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    Chris Brigham NYFAChris Brigham isn’t your typical “Hollywood” producer, which comes as a surprise, considering he produced global blockbusters such as Inception, The Aviator, and Analyze This. He doesn’t even live in Hollywood.“New York is a great place for a producer right now, especially with the tax breaks. There are more shows here now, which means more jobs.” Aspiring filmmakers looking to develop stories, however, should still consider Los Angeles. Everyone’s path will be different. It’s up to each individual to recognize which is one’s true calling.“Not everyone will have the chops for this business.”

    As the guest speaker for our Q&A on Thursday, Chris shared with us his journey from a P.A. in New York to the Hollywood powerhouse he is today. Hustling his way to the top, there was much to be learned in terms of film production. Most importantly, he learned quite a bit about dealing with people, which is something he credits to the Teamsters.The motto? “Money talks. Bullshit walks.” New York is a ‘show me’ city where you have to back up what you’re saying. Chris realized his ability in handling people and their problems was a valuable skill in the industry. Soon he began finding steady work as a line producer.

    So what is a line producer? “It’s a critical job. You are the eyes and the ears managing the movie. Being a line producer demands entrepreneurial skills.”Highlighting some of the details of his job, one learns it’s not your typical 9 to 5. Being a freelance line producer requires a lot of travel, networking, and wisdom to find the right project. “It’s better to work on quality projects but it’s a lot of hard work.”

    His recommendation for filmmaking success? “Get your foot in the door. Make phone calls and start out as a P.A. on set.” Eventually you’ll build a reputation and, who knows, you may end up waking up one day with a call from Christopher Nolan’s team to work on Inception. Luck may play a part, however, this game is a foot-race and the last person standing is the one who makes it in this business. Whether it’s writing, directing, acting or producing, there are thousands of people trying to do the same thing you want to do. The key is not losing sight of your dreams.

    What about maintaining a family and some sort of normalcy? Chris recounted some of his struggles balancing career and family. He recalled a shoot in Montreal where he drove six hours to see his wife and kids on the weekends. Character is indispensable. It seems kindness, too, can pay off in a business with a bad reputation for its conceited personalities.

    Twitter was abuzz for Brigham’s appearance. Irrefutably, the most submitted question of the night was “Is film school worth it?” In response, Chris cited his very first film class in college learning about Fellini and Kurosawa. It sparked his passion for the craft. He encouraged our students to collaborate, build bonds, and sustain a network. In this industry, it’s crucial to meet the right people. Create a foundation for yourself. Film school is what you make of it.

    After the Q&A, Chris handled individual students with personal questions, ranging from “Can I meet Christopher Nolan?” to “How do I get my screenplay funded?” Chris stayed for a good 45 minutes afterwards, patiently handling questions and proving to us how integrity can go a long way.

    Chris Brigham Q&A at NYFA

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    March 5, 2012 • Producing • Views: 6508