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  • NYFA LA Welcomes Writer & Producer Neal Baer as Guest Speaker

    On Wednesday, June 21, Neal Baer came to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus to talk about his illustrious career in television. Baer has the distinction of being a key figure in two groundbreaking series. He was a writer and producer on both “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “ER.”  Director of the Q and A series, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

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    Students filled the Riverside Theater to hear Baer speak about the history of the television industry. Many of the students were surprised to learn that “ER” once enjoyed an incredible share of the market. “There’s no drama airing today that comes close to having 40 million viewers. Not even ‘Game of Thrones.’”  

    Of course, a huge portion of the show’s success was the wildly talented and relatively unknown cast, including George Clooney. Baer recalled the excited fan reaction to seeing Clooney in a tuxedo. So mad was the fury, that Baer made sure to include a scene with him in a tuxedo in “Hell or High Water.” The episode went on to be the show’s highest-rated and even earned Clooney an Emmy nomination.

    “I’ve had a very different career than my friends. I’ve only ever been on four shows,” Baer said after being asked about his incredible trajectory. “I started in 1994. That’s twenty-three years. I don’t know anybody else who has done four shows straight through.”

    Whether it was talent, luck, or a combination of both that kept Baer on top, he always made sure to use the best of the time he had. “I loved SVU because every week I got to explore. You had to get into the story through a murder or assault but then I could do a show about teen access to abortion. They let us do amazing things with guns, homeschooling, HIV deniers, euthanasia, everything I was interested in was put into the show.” 

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    That inspiration translated into his hiring practices as a showrunner. Baer was fond of calling obscure actors from childhood favorites to come on the show. Carol Burnett chastised him when he called to ask her on the show: “You used to watch me with your parents on weeknights, didn’t you?” Once, Debbie Reynolds even shared a saucy story about Ava Gardner with Baer.

    “How could you not want to bring these people on your show,” Baer said. “I’ve been very blessed to work with incredible people.”

    One student asked if Baer had any advice for students looking to break into the industry. Baer responded, “They’ve made it very difficult to be a director. I think what you have to do if you want to work, as a director, is shadow. You attach to a director and you just become their shadow. You’ll go to casting meetings, location scouts, anything the director does, you’ll be there.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Baer for taking the time to speak with our students.

  • NYFA Alumnus Anthony James Faure Releases “Kids With Guns”

    Anthony James Faure worked in the film industry for five years before coming to the New York Film Academy. When he started the 1-Year Filmmaking Program he was also starting the post-production process on his latest film, “Kids with Guns.”

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    Using Paris, France, as a backdrop, he shot the feature film over the summer of 2014. The story follows Arno and Mo, two unimportant drug dealers who happen upon a bag filled with MDMA. They decide to sell the trendy drug to the Parisian Golden Youth. Soon they’re forced to navigate the dangerous territory between the real owner of the bag and an overzealous cop that swore to stop him.

    The French thriller was produced with a budget of just €30,000, or around $35,000 in U.S. dollars. He earned the majority of the money via crowd-funding sites, personal savings, and a few grants. Then entire cast and crew worked on a volunteer basis.

    Faure attributes much of that success to his friend and producing partner Antony Renault. Faure said of the experience, “We were trying to get a short film produced in France for a long time. During that time, we wrote ‘Kids with Guns.’ Once the script was done we thought we should just shoot it. It’s that spontaneity that makes the essence of our film: we wanted to shoot now.”

    Faure’s scrappy nature had earned him great footage, but turning it into a film would be an entirely different process. “NYFA helped me in my rewriting process during postproduction. Indeed, after the course I took at NYFA, my understanding of film had evolved, and I managed to use that new knowledge in the editing.”

    The visual effects artist, postproduction manager, and sound mixer for “Kids with Guns” were all students Faure met at NYFA. He enjoyed his experience at NYFA so much he’ll be returning next semester: “I will never stop learning. I have a few feature film ideas and treatments I’ve been working on for a while, going back to NYFA in the screenwriting course will hopefully give me that little push I need to execute them.”

    TEASER KIDS WITH GUNS from Les Films de l’Ours on Vimeo.

    Faure’s next project is a superhero story. “Super Zeroes” is the story of superheroes forced into retirement by a world tired of the destruction their crime fighting causes. They retire to Trinidad-and-Tobago but a crime committed on the island will force them to work together, even if their powers are a bit rusty. NYFA alumni Jolene Mendes and Chloe Na will work with Faure as producers, Sashank Sana is the director of photography, Carolina Lara will do production design, and Daniel Techy is editing.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Faure’s success. To learn more about Faure click here.

  • NYFA LA Holds Annual Producing Pitch Fest at Andaz Hotel

    On Wednesday, May 17 graduating Producing students gathered in the grand Panorama Ballroom at the Andaz Hotel on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood for the New York Film Academy’s annual Pitch Fest. Veterans of the Hollywood film industry spread across the hall to hear what could be their next project. The extravagant evening was organized by Rich Thorne, Producing Department Faculty Chair and Heather Ritcheson, Producing Coordinator.

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    Each student was allowed three minutes to present their films to each professional volunteer. They could pitch one project with a teaser presentation or pitch two projects. Afterward, students had twenty minutes with their professional advisor for critique, advice, marketing advice, and possible partnership. Volunteers were asked to hold nothing back from the students. Only honest opinions and expertise were acceptable.

    At the end of the night, there was serious interest in three projects from visiting producers. “For those who didn’t get interested in their projects they got the benefit of real-world advice and a lot of them said the difference between pitch fest with the faculty two semesters ago and this one with the professionals was immeasurable,” Richeson said.

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    When asked her thoughts on the evening, Volunteer April Wright, Programmer for Sundance and AFI Fest, Foundation Manager at Women in Film said, “I was impressed with the professionalism of the students and the caliber of their ideas.”

    Marlon Schulman, Founder, and CEO of Horror Equity Fund, Producer and Attorney felt similar stating, “Thanks for the terrific education and prep the graduates clearly had experienced. It allowed us to hear pitches that were interesting, well-prepared and yet open to suggestion, perspective, and possible improvement. Great!”

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    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Michael Barlow, Kimberley Browning, Brian Herskowitz, John Morrissey, Diana Romero, Arnold Rudnick, Marlon Schulman, Rich Thorne, Russ Ward, and April Wright. We’d also like to congradulate all of our graduating producers including Amari Agee, Batool Hassan Alarfah, Mujahed Aljumaiaah, Larissa da Rosa Beck, Xiangrong Du, Thomas Freeman, Yizhen Hou, Ah Reum Jung, Jianhyue Lin, Junhao Ma, Zoe Pelloux, Nikita Sapronov, Yoselin Pamela Solorzano, Huidi Sun, Zhikun Yu, Jihan Zhang, Ziyi Zhao.

    May 31, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1174

  • NYFA Producing Dept. Hosts Evening with Producer Carla Singer

    Last week, the Producing Department at the New York Film Academy hosted an evening with producer Carla Singer. The event was moderated by NYFA NY Chair of Producing Neal Weisman.

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    Singer is president and executive producer of Carla Singer Productions, an independent production company that has produced over 30 television movies as well as documentaries and reality series. Her credits include “Freshman Father,” a Hallmark Channel movie, and Disney Channel films “T*witches,” and “T*witches Too.” For TNT, the company executive produced “The Portrait” starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall, as well as “Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files.” At TBS Ms. Singer produced a documentary “The Black West,” which was nominated for a Cable Ace award. She also produced “A Refusenik’s Diary” for PBS, for which she received an Emmy.

    Her extensive credits include the made-for-television movies “A Marriage of Convenience” starring Jane Seymour, “Indefensible: The Truth About Edward Brannigan” starring Brian Dennehy, “Taken Away,” “Angel Flight Down” and “Cold Heart of a Killer.”

    Singer became vice president of drama programming for CBS Television at a time when hardly any women were accepted into upper management at the networks. As a female pioneer for the network, and the industry in general, Singer helped create the extremely successful drama series, “Murder She Wrote,” as well as “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and “The Equalizer.”

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    Producer Carla Singer with NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman

    However, Singer’s career certainly wasn’t handed to her. Beginning her career in Israeli TV, Singer recalled working as an assistant director, but was credited and paid for the role of a PA due to the fact that she was a woman. Her career would continue to be an uphill climb due to her gender, but Singer kept one foot in front of the other and pressed on to tremendous success. While she feels there is still gender inequality in film and TV, Singer does acknowledge the progress since her beginnings.

    “You have to be very persistent,” said Singer. “You have to be risk tolerant. You have to take that risk — even if it’s scary.” Singer recalled two times in her life where she took a pay cut in order to work in a position that could propel her career into the direction she was confident would lead her on the right path.

    Singer advised students to appreciate and take advantage of the creative talent around them. After all, the people you’re working with now are going to be your network, and are going to climb the proverbial latter with you.

    While many of us get caught up in the creative aspect of filmmaking, Singer did advise producing students that, “It’s a business, and you need to make money. Even though that’s a bit crass. You should keep that in your head.” 

    “Carla Singer proved to be an inspiration to the cross section of NYFA Producers, Screenwriters, and Actors who attended the event,” said Weisman. “Emphasizing the need to take career risks and seek mentors, her wisdom gained from decades of television experience was both informative and motivating.”

    April 17, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1366

  • NYFA Alumna Wins Best Supporting Actress Award and More

    tasteDanielle Kronenberg is a British actress who currently lives in Los Angeles. She started her training at a very young age at a prestigious full time children’s drama school in London and made her West End debut at nine — the same year she won an award at the London Film Festival. She then went on to star in a number of commercials for the UK and the US.

    Since living in the US, and graduating from the Acting for Film program at the New York Film Academy, Kronenberg has starred in many independent films and a children’s web-series, which she produced. She’s also co-created and produced two of her own films, one of which, “Canvas,” won two awards for producing and the other, “Taste,” won three producing awards and two best supporting actress awards thus far.

    “I think going to NYFA was one of the best years of my training,” said Kronenberg. “I got to study with some great teachers, and I’ve stayed in touch with them too. Also, being part of the NYFA networking circle is pretty incredible. I can now call upon friends and say ‘Hey, I have an idea, let’s shoot something,’ and I know I’ll have a whole team to shoot with. A truly priceless experience.”

    “Taste,” which awarded her a Best Supporting Actress Award, is about a bulimic model who moves to NY to pursue her modeling career, but the secret that she’s harboring comes to the surface and cannot be contained once she meets Evan, a manipulative, successful fashion photographer who has a habit of controlling her muses.

    The writer of the film, Jay Palmieri Jr., who’s also a NYFA graduate, approached Kronenberg after starring in his film. “He said he wanted to collaborate on an LGBT film together as we’re both in that world,” recalls Kronenberg. “So we came up with a story and decided to produce it together. Jay wrote the role of ‘Evan’ for me, as he said he wanted to see me play a very dark emotional character. I’m so glad he did as it was my most challenging role. I’m not like Evan at all, so to play her was a lot of fun. I think the most challenging part was to really get into the head of Evan, and to start thinking like her. She’s totally dark and twisted. I found myself staying in character for most of the shoot, which was also fun.”

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    Kronenberg plays Evan, a fashion photographer in NY who has very manipulative ways. “Evan is the type of woman who doesn’t take no for an answer,” says Kronenberg. “She’s highly successful and has many models falling at her feet in the hopes of getting a big shoot.”

    “Taste” is currently in 15 festivals and counting. It’s streaming on digitalboxoffice.tv — where you can rate the film as well (5 popcorns all the way).

    Kronenberg is now working on two LGBT films and a romantic drama, each of which she will be producing and starring.

    April 4, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2045

  • A Talk with Producer Darryl Marshak at New York Film Academy LA

    Legendary Producer and Talent Manager Darryl Marshak gave a rousing Q and A during the New York Film Academy’s Guest Lecture Series, run by Tova Laiter, at the Los Angeles campus. Students packed the theater to hear advice, stories, and anecdotes from the man who has represented such actors as Leonardo DiCaprio, Ernie Hudson, Phil Hartman, and Ray Liotta among many.

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    The Chair of the Acting for Film Department, Lynda Goodfriend, hosted the evening. Marshak brought memorabilia from his life’s journeys, including a hundred dollar bill signed by Leonardo DiCaprio and a dozen GoPros he handed out to students to film the event.

    Marshak was asked about his early years as an agent and he had this to say before the Internet, you had your feet and you had dimes. You could use the pay phones on the back lot to do business throughout the day. You had to know not just the casting agents, but their assistants, too. Casting directors are like Elephants. They never forget. “

    As for producing now: “It’s really hard to do this without a trust fund, guys. I was shooting on 16 mm and spending all the money I earned for the week on making the next film.”

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    When asked about transitioning from an agent to manager Marshak said: “It was harder to be a manager because I wanted to run it like an agency.” As a manager, Marshak helped both Hilary Swank, who was living in her car, and James Franco, who hadn’t yet joined SAG, get their start in the business.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Marshak for taking the time to speak with our students. You can learn more about the illustrious career of Marshak here.

    March 2, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1890

  • NYFA Welcomes a Group of Enthusiastic Italian Students

    An exceptional group of Italian students recently graduated from the 4-Week Producing Program at New York Film Academy’s New York City campus. The students, all from the Lazio Region of Italy—most whom reside in Rome—attended NYFA as a result of being awarded special fellowships from the Roma Lazio Film Commission’s Torno Subito (“Be Right Back”) program. The Torno Subito program was created to fund projects submitted by Italian university students or graduates, aged 18 to 35 years, with the interest in taking advanced training courses, and upon completion, return home to use their newfound skills in the workplace. Also involved in this educational initiative is AssForSeo, an Italian employment guidance organization.

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    In addition to the students enrolled in the Producing Department at NYFA New York’s campus were dozens of students in the Filmmaking, Documentary Filmmaking, Animation, Broadcast Journalism, Screenwriting, Digital Editing, and Acting for Film programs. Both the New York and Los Angeles campuses of NYFA hosted this wonderful group of talented young Italians.

    NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman declared, “It was a pleasure having this group in our 4-Week Intensive producing workshop. They were very engaged, enthusiastic, and curious – of course they were, they’re Italian!”

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    After graduating from the NYFA program, the students are headed back to Rome where they will work at various industry internships. Most positions are with prominent Italian film production companies, where they will assist in the creation of a wide variety of film projects. The NYFA LA Campus Director, Dan Mackler, was effusive in his praise for the visiting students and stated, “Integrating seamlessly with our large international student community—currently representing nearly 80 countries—the Torno Subito students brought wonderful energy to our school. We expect great film industry success stories to come from these special NYFA alums.”

    NYFA is proud to participate in this program and looks forward to future collaboration with a variety of international partners.

    February 7, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 2227

  • Shanghai Theatre Academy Studies Producing at NYFA NY and LA

    Given China’s rapidly growing movie business, students from the Shanghai Theatre Academy traveled to New York Film Academy for a Producing Workshop, which consisted of one week at the New York campus and one week at the Los Angeles campus.

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    The producer is the spark of the creativity in filmmaking,” said NYFA Senior Executive Vice President, David Klein while introducing the students to NYFA’s Producing Workshop. “If you don’t have a strong concept of how the story will be told, budgeting and preparing the numbers for the project will become extremely challenging.” 

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    The workshop provided an overview of what role the producer plays on a given production, with a strong emphasis on budgeting and scheduling in Movie Magic. Classes within the workshop also included Film Financing, as well as a Directing Class in order to have a filmmaker’s perspective on the process of filmmaking. “I always look to my director as my partner,” said NYFA NYC Producing Chair, Neal Weisman. “It’s my job as a producer to put the director’s vision up on the screen.”

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    Students also learned best practices for how to pitch their projects and, very importantly, where to find the money and how to control the project’s risk.

    “We have learned much and experienced the well developed producing system in Hollywood, said Shanghai student Hongyu Liu. “Thank you very much!”

    January 27, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 1619

  • NYFA Producing Department Students Tour NBC Studios At 30 Rock

    A group of One Year Producing students recently toured the NBC studios at legendary 30 Rockefeller Plaza led by NBC and MSNBC on air talent and editorial consultant Col. Jack Jacobs. Colonel Jacobs is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program, and is one of our nation’s most decorated military servicemembers—including being a recipient of the Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest military award.

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    photo by Marc Frattini

    NYFA producers and Department Chair Neal Weisman got a behind the scenes look at the various newsroom and studio sets for such iconic television shows as the “Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Morning Joe,” “AM Joy,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and a glimpse of the famed “Saturday Night Live” studios. Already familiar with multi-camera studio broadcast techniques from their television production classes at NYFA’s New York City Battery Park campus, students got up front and personal with the state-of-the-art professional control rooms, switchers, robotic cameras, and other equipment that bring NBC shows into the nation’s living rooms every day.

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    photo by Marc Frattini

    Mr. Weisman stated, “in keeping with the Producing Department’s philosophy of emphasizing practical and pragmatic knowledge, skills, and tools — nothing beats observing world class professionals at work. This has been an invaluable experience for our producers as they get ready to enter the Industry.”

    January 18, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 1338

  • New York Film Academy Moscow Workshops with Paul Brown and Lydia Cedrone

    The long awaited event has happened. New York Film Academy returned to Russia with two special workshops. With excitement in the air, eager students were fully immersed in producing and screenwriting workshops throughout the weekend. With a strong emphasis on hands-on learning and practical exercises, the workshops allowed students to immediately apply the knowledge they gained throughout the weekend.

    Moscow Screenwriting Workshop, an Inside Look:

    NYFA screenwriting instructor, Paul Brown, an award-winning writer, director and producer, conducted the screenwriting workshop. Brown has worked in film and television for over twenty-five years. He has produced over one hundred television dramas, pilots, and movies, working on such series as “The X-Files,” “Quantum Leap,” “The New Twilight Zone,” “Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise.” He won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best TV Drama, and has been nominated for three Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes.

    During the Workshop Orientation, students delved into the secrets of great stories and paired up to work on monologues.

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    Day One: Brown explained how to hook audiences with exciting movie concepts by showing scenes from popular films. He stressed the importance to wake up certain emotions in the audience. Students learned to develop characters with use of curiosity, compassion, charm and complexity. They examined the structure of the inner story and the inner story’s need, movie climaxes and examples of key scenes.

    Day Two: Brown explained how to combine internal and external relationships of the characters, thematic storylines, dialogue and the importance of subtext.

    The workshop culminated in the final presentation of the projects. Professional actors were invited to participate in the students’ short screenplays. Throughout the presentations of scenes, with no scenes longer than three minutes, the audience laughed, cried and cheered.

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    Student Feedback: “We had a chance to try ourselves not only as writers, but as directors and were able to work with professional actors. It was a very interesting experience. The classes were so valuable, not only in terms of receiving new information and practical skills, but also from a psychological point of view. Paul Brown made us thoroughly delve into ourselves and face our ‘skeletons in the closet’. It helped to release our fears and reconsider many things. I thank him for it!” said Wagina Yevgeniya.

    Producing Workshop Highlights:

    Lydia Cedrone, NYFA Head of MFA Feature Productions and former longtime Chair of Producing, taught the Producing Workshop. Cedrone is a film producer with credits including the MGM release, “The Betrayed,” and was an executive at The Walt Disney Company, Trimark Pictures and Savoy Pictures. She managed finances on more than two-dozen studio films, and oversaw company operations for filmmaker Michael Mann’s production company and finances for the film “Ali,” starring Will Smith, Jon Voight and Jamie Foxx. She urged producers to maintain a balance between finance and creativity. From her lecture, students learned that the producer is the driving force behind the project who manages all stages of the project’s lifespan, from developing the script to determining the necessary budget and securing investors, and from hiring the film’s cast and crew to guiding the project through distribution.

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    Many of the students in the Producing Workshop were working producers or had a background in the local film and television industries. These students participated to deepen their knowledge and to apply that knowledge to the U.S. standards and practices outlined in the workshop.

    At the Workshop Orientation, students began to develop the concepts for their own projects.

    Day One: On the first day, students learned about the roles of producers in film and television, producer hierarchy and project workflow. Private investors and funding independent films were discussed at length. Cedrone stressed a balance between financial transparency and the producer retaining full control of the project. She also covered, in detail, the main points of a independent film business plan for fundraising, as well as how to create a television series show bible, along with many other topics.

    Day Two: Students learned the U.S. standard rules and practices of scheduling and budgeting. Cedrone led several interactive class exercises, along with a lively Q&A session. On the final evening, students presented their project loglines, along with a short project pitch, during this Mini Pitch Fest. Students clapped and cheered their classmates during the Pitch Fest, and the workshop ended with many friendships forged, along with the promise of many future collaborations.

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    “I am an actress, and NYFA gave me the opportunity to expand my vision of the film industry. I know how the industry works through the eyes of the artist, and these workshops showed me the production process from a different angle. I learned a lot of useful and interesting information in a short time! I am happy that I met Lydia Cedrone, she’s wonderful!” said Valeria Koltsova, one of the Producing Workshop students.

    Another participant, Vasilyeva Margarita, added, “Despite the fact that I currently study producing at the University, the NYFA workshops were very useful for my professional growth! We talked about the producer’s responsibilities, finding funding, and about the world in which producers live. We discussed, in detail, the steps of implementation for different television and film projects, both independent and studio. Lydia Cedrone is a brilliant person and teacher, who knoews her subject and how to present it. It was amazing to spend the whole weekend in the classroom. We had a very warm, family atmosphere. I believe this course can be suitable to all, regardless of the previous level of training. Everyone will feel at ease.”

    We thank the student participants in Moscow who made these recent Producing and Screenwriting Workshops such a great success!

    November 10, 2016 • Community Highlights, Road Show • Views: 1826