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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Producing Alum Peipei Duan Receives Cathay Bank Scholarship

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    Peipei Duan, a 2018 graduate of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing program, recently received the Cathay Bank Scholarship, which awards and supports Chinese students of great academic achievementPeiPei Duan

    Peipei’s determination to pursue a career in producing has been with her since she attended the Beijing Film Academy in China, before eventually enrolling in the Producing program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    While at NYFA she produced several short films—one of which, Lip Reader: Game of Detective, won the Golden Award at the 15th Guangzhou Student film festival. While at NYFA, Duan also interned at Frederic Golchan Productions as an assistant at company events and festivals.

    Duan plans to use the Cathay Bank award money to produce a new short and take it to the festival circuit.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) congratulates MFA Producing alum Peipei Duan on her scholarship and wishes her success as she continues her promising career.

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    September 12, 2019 • Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 36

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing Students Shoot Webseries ‘Over Coffee’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing students headed across the river to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to produce two episodes of Over Coffee, a new webseries featuring women in most of its prominent roles both on- and off-camera.Over Coffee Producing

    Over Coffee, by New York-based screenwriter Nefertiti Warren, tells the story of three contemporary urban women, sharing their trials and tribulations. The production was shot by a current NYFA Cinematography student, and directed by recent NYFA Filmmaking graduate Ellinor Skeppström.

    Production was held in Greenpoint, a neighborhood of Brooklyn located on the East River, where one of New York’s largest production communities has evolved over the past decade as studios both small and large have set up shop in the area.

    The webseries is the fourth project produced by NYFA Producing students as part of their 1-Year Conservatory studies. Previously, they honed their craft producing short films, reality television sizzle reels, and commercials.

    “It was a new experience for me,” says NYFA Producing student Emilia D’Agata, “because I had never worked on a webseries. It was very nice to work all together as producers and deal with a screenwriter, director, and cast who are all women. I hope that in the future we can continue to work on this project. It was an amazing experience.”

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    September 9, 2019 • Producing • Views: 476

  • 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: 522

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing Student Phoebe Wang Awarded Movie Magic Scholarship 

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing student Xiaoxiao (Phoebe) Wang was recently awarded the Entertainment Partners’ Movie Magic Scholarship Producer Award Certificate. At the ceremony, Wang was also presented with a check for the amount of $1,450.

    The Scholarship is provided by Entertainment Partners, a company that puts technology front and center for the entertainment industry. Movie Magic is a software program for production professionals, helping with film budgeting and software, and is an industry standard.

    Wang, who originally hails from China and is currently enrolled at the producing school in NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, demonstrated a comprehensive understanding and skillful use of the software’s features, and earned the Producer Award Certificate. Wang plans to invest the award money in her current production project, entitled The Beauty.
    Phoebe Wang Featured

    Wang isn’t the first NYFA student to pick up the prestigious scholarship; last year MFA in Filmmaking students Katherin Hussein and Robert (Bobby) Gutierrez each picked up the Movie Magic award.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Producing student Phoebe Wang on winning the Entertainment Partners’ Movie Magic Scholarship Producer Award Certificate and looks forward to seeing the completion of The Beauty!

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    August 8, 2019 • Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 584

  • Q&A with ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Producer Matt Kaplan

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    On Tuesday, August 6, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a special Q&A with esteemed producer Matt Kaplan for our high school campers, following a screening of the Netflix all-time most-viewed original film, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Matt Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Ace Entertainment, focused on making feature films, television series, and digital content for youth audiences. Kaplan has produced incredibly buzzy YA films including the runaway success recent rom-com hit The Perfect Date, Spontaneous, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, starring NYFA alum Lana Condor. He is also behind the upcoming Are You Afraid of the Dark TV reboot based on the 1990s Nickelodeon television series. Kaplan’s past credits include features such as Before I Fall, The Lazarus Effect, and Viral. He is currently working on and next year’s sequel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2.

    Matt Kaplan

    Laiter started by asking Kaplan how he started in the industry. Kaplan talked about how he started making short form content after graduating film school. “YouTube was just getting popular, and so I started making short videos with my friends,” he told the audience. From there, he started as an assistant at Lionsgate, a job his YouTube videos earned him, and worked his way up to an executive position in charge of YA content. During his time at Lionsgate, he was a part of the team that made The Hunger Games. “But I knew as a younger executive,” said Kaplan, “that I wanted to be the one making the final decisions.”

    One student asked about where to start when producing a movie. Kaplan replied, “First, try to figure out what kind of movies you’re passionate about telling … typically we will option a book or buy an article or whatever it is, and then hire a writer—or sometimes you’ll ask a friend to write the script on spec. And then once we have the script, that’s kind of the jumping off point. Once you have a good script, amazing things can happen.”

    Another student asked how Kaplan had figured out that he wanted to be a producer. “I like putting things together. I just looked at what I was good at. When I was your age, I took writing classes, and directing classes … but I knew I was good at assessing material, and I knew I had an instinct for what I could sell, and market. And so I spent a lot of my time making relationships with great writers and great directors.”

    Matt Kaplan

    One student asked about how to make connections in the film industry. Kaplan said, “Someone gave me this advice: it’s follow-up … As long as you are passionate about seeking that out, people in this business want to help. Start off by trying to get experience under mentors, don’t just watch—try to make friends with these people, and be helpful. And I think once you start to do that, good things can happen.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before producer Matt Kaplan for sharing his producing insights with our high school campers.

     

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    August 8, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 802

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing Students Aliza Jafri and Jon Legarda Win LA Live Score Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing student Aliza Jafri and 1-Year Producing student Jon Legarda won big at this year’s Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival, coming away with both Best Film and Best Composer. The two students teamed up to produce documentary short A Deep Breath, which focuses on freediving as a place of solace from stress and the emotions tied into being far from home.

    LA Live Score Film Festival 2019

    The Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival is in its sixth year and featured selected works from local film schools that were paired with professional composers to create original scores. The films were screened on July 22 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, with their new scores performed live by renowned performance and recording ensemble Helix Collective.

    The film was curated for the festival by Crickett Rumley, Director of the NYFA Los Angeles Film Festival Department, after a rigorous school-wide competition. “When I first heard about Jon and Aliza’s project, I thought it was incredibly ambitious and wondered how they could possibly meet the deadline,” says Rumley.

    She adds, “Then I saw the rough cut and knew immediately it would be a festival hit. The freediving is so peaceful and beautiful, and the interviews with Jon and his mother are incredibly charming. I look forward to seeing where the film goes next.”

    Jafri and Legarda’s hard work paid off: “It was an amazing feeling because all the late nights staying up editing and trying to push this movie out by the deadline of this festival were really hard,” says the filmmaker. “It gave us a chance to collaborate with a composer and see how that whole process works from beginning to end. It was an amazing experience to see how Cali Wang, the composer, brought life to our film with the score she composed.”

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    August 2, 2019 • Film Festivals, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 621

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Cinematography Alum Tian Liu Builds Impressive Portfolio

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    Since graduating from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Cinematography program, alum Tian Liu (Fall 2015) has been keeping very busy. Liu has been steadily growing her career as a filmmaker and building her portfolio with credits as a photographer, producer, and cinematographer on several professional projects.

    Tian Liu
    Liu was born in China, where she studied sports journalism. While teaching orphans math as a volunteer in Kenya, Liu felt inspired to photograph their experience. After those images were professionally published, Liu realized she wanted to become a filmmaker. “I realized that images have power,” Liu tells NYFA. “It can tell others a story, it also can help people and give people a better life. I love telling stories and I want to be a visual artist.”

    Following her dream, Liu opened a photo studio and enrolled at New York Film Academy. At NYFA, Liu earned her MFA in Cinematography while studying under Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond, ASC, BSC (Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Sandlot, Legally Blonde).

    Tian Liu
    “Without NYFA,” Liu says, I would not have been able to become a female Chinese cinematographer and do the kind of work I find so fulfilling.”

    The Piano, Liu’s thesis film completed at NYFA, has screened at over 35 film festivals, and has picked up an impressive 28 awards for Best Cinematography. Additionally, she has worked on over 40 film projects that used 16mm and 35mm film, and has shot several films as director of photography. Recently, Liu worked on a feature film in Louisiana, as well as a camera operator for Oscar-nominated cinematographer Dean Cundey, ASC (Jurassic Park, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) on the feature documentary Motionless. Liu has also worked in New York City for the United Nations and an esteemed advertisement firm.

    Liu has also found success as a photographer publishing her work in high-profile magazines and newspapers, including China Daily. Over 40 images she’s shot have been featured in Vogue Italia.

    In addition to her work behind the camera, Liu has been a strong voice for female cinematographers, and recently gave a talk at USC about working in the industry as a female, Chinese cinematographer. While the film industry works to course correct issues of gender inequality, women still make up a distressingly small proportion of working professional cinematographers.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA in Cinematography alum Tian Liu on her continued success in the industry and thanks her sharing her experiences with the filmmaking community.

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    May 9, 2019 • Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 685

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing Students Give Notes to Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Tom Schulman

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    Academy Award Winner Tom Schulman, renowned for penning Best Screenplay Winner Dead Poets Society, engaged in a team discussion with New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing students over potential modifications on his new script, which is currently slated for production in the next few months.

    Over the course of more than two hours, Schulman listened with undivided attention as students dissected his script and offered detailed notes on its story, characters, and its world.

    The special opportunity for the students came as part of their Script Collaboration & Story Development class (MFA Program, 5th semester). The class is designed to teach students script analysis, and how to write and convey notes to a screenwriter professionally and effectively.

    NYFA instructor John Morrissey invited Schulman to participate not only as the recipient of the students’ notes, but also to offer our Producing students a rare opportunity to make a direct impact on the story of a professional film.

    Many times during the conversation–punctuated by laughter and meticulous detail-offering—Schulman jotted down students’ notes on a sheet of paper. When asked what he considered the best way for a producer to provide notes to a writer, he promptly responded: “The way we have been doing it here today!”

    He then shared with the students some inside stories on how studio executives give notes to screenwriters and praised the students for their genuine passion and thoughtfulness.

    New York Film Academy thanks Academy Award-winning screenwriter Tom Schulman for giving his time and advice to our MFA in Producing students.

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    May 8, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 774

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy MFA Alum and Instructor Justin LaReau

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    Justin LaReau had a pretty cool job. He was the head basketball coach at Southeastern Illinois College. But he was temporarily living in a hotel, reevaluating his life, and reconnecting with his love for movies. So while he was working on his playbook, he was simultaneously reading screenwriting books and began sketching out the idea of what would become his first feature. 

     

     

    Eventually, he made the difficult decision to leave coaching behind. Justin came out to Los Angeles and got an internship at Underground Film and Management—which led to his career writing, directing and producing films.  New York Film Academy (NYFA) spoke with LaReau about his movies, experiences, and his next projects. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Recently you produced and directed A Demon Within, a horror film. How did that come about? What was it like directing a feature film for the first time? What were the biggest challenges– and what was the learning curve like? 

    Justin LaReau (JL): I started writing it when I was coaching basketball, but it really initiated as a kid when my friends and I would ride by a haunted house that was widely talked about in our community. The house had been abandoned. We stopped our bikes and I saw some movement in the upstairs window. It could have been wind moving the curtains but as a 12 year old, we assumed it was a ghost. My hometown has a documented case of possession that dates back to the 1800s. Knowing that story, I wanted to tap into the personal connections I had as a kid. I felt like it would be a fun experience, plus I believed as a first feature I could get a horror film at a 100K budget fully distributed.

    And in terms of the learning curve, it was tremendous. Whether you are directing or producing, there is nothing like making a full feature. I heard Jon Favreau speak and he said whatever you do or however you have to get it done, make a full feature. Short films are great for trying to find your voice, style and developing the skills, but telling a narrative for 90 minutes or more is like no other. I tell people that I spent summers in 100 degree heat building bridges and overpasses while I was in undergrad. That’s hard work. But making a full-length movie is much harder. And unless you have, you can’t comprehend it nor can you learn as much as doing.

    Justin Lareau

    NYFA: How did your experiences as a producer inform the decisions you made as a director? 

    JL: Because we were operating on a microbudget and I was constantly tracking the spending as a line producer would. It made me eliminate waste and only spend on items that would be seen on screen. We secured free locations, free lodging, free cars/trucks for transportation, discounted food as well as many other resources. Because of that, it allowed an extra shooting day which is so vital. Time as we know is so precious in general and in filming, an extra hour goes a long way in allowing actors the opportunity to act, take direction, and deliver the performance that works for the film. 

    Additionally, the script had to evolve. The team and I were rewriting throughout prep to pull off a full feature. Many elements that would have created more value had to be removed because there just wasn’t enough money. And that is a tough pill to swallow. 

    NYFA: Can you talk about your upcoming projects? What are you working on right now? 

    JL: My producing partner Lydia Cedrone and I recently launched a production company called Tidal Wave Entertainment, LLC. As producers we currently have a slate of eight movies in development. They range from comedies to dramas to thrillers. I’m the writer and attached to direct two of the films: Fallen Lands, a post-apocalyptic drama and The Riddle Maker, a thriller. 

    NYFA: You earned your MFA from NYFA in Producing. What’s it like to be a former student on the other side of the classroom—and how does that inform your teaching? 

    JL: I had been teaching for 10 years and had already completed a graduate program. I went from standing in front of the room to sitting in the seat again. What I enjoyed about NYFA besides the hands-on experience and the location was the wealth of experiences instructors brought to the classroom. And that is what I try to draw on now. I have been where the students are and I have been through the same program. This allows me to truly connect with them.

    Justin Lareau

    NYFA: What’s your favorite class to teach and why?  

    JL: My favorite class to teach is Pitching. It is a skill/craft that all producers, writers, or directors need to develop. My mom would probably say that I like pitching because I am full of it, but selling an idea starts with the way you present it. We may have the next Oscar-winning idea, but if you can’t excite someone about it, it probably will never get made. 

    NYFA: Speaking of, what advice do you have for students who might be looking to produce and direct? 

    JL: I am a believer that if you want to do something, then go do it. But students should know that your drive and commitment has to be greater than you can imagine. You have to be able to grind through the times when things get tough. This is not an easy industry. But you need to be like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. So get your hands dirty and get to work!

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    April 12, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Producing • Views: 716

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing Department Participates in Australian International Screen Forum

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailNew York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing students had the opportunity to attend this year’s Australian International Screen Forum, which included panels moderated by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman and NYFA Producing Film Finance instructor Krysanne Katsoolis. 

    The Australian International Screen Forum aims to connect Australian film and television artists with the New York-based screen industry, and internationally showcases the work of Australian short filmmakers.

    The second annual four-day event was held from March 19 – 22 at Lincoln Center and featured master classes, panel discussions, and workshops with industry veterans, as well as the New York Australian Film Festival, which was open to the public. A new addition to the forum this year was a pitch contest open to Australian and US filmmakers, conducted before a judging panel of industry greats that included Krysanne Katsoolis, who in addition to teaching at NYFA is CEO and President of ViewPark.

    Australian International Screen Forum

    Katsoolis also moderated an interesting panel on indie financing strategies, where producers shared case histories and anecdotes about the current state of financing, and what it takes to get projects made in this dynamic landscape.

    Marketing Strategies for the Indie Producer was another panel, moderated by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman, which discussed the timeframe for producers to engage with the fundamentals of marketing and distribution, i.e. identifying unique selling points, the target audience, and niche audiences. The panel consisted of speakers Schuyler Weiss (Producer, Piercing, Ghost Team, Head of Production & Development, Baz & Co), Sara Kiener (Head of Distribution, Cinereach), and Keisha Salmon (Director of Communications and Audience Development, American Documentary | POV). There was a consensus amongst the panelists that producers must engage with these concepts early on in the producing process, i.e. development.

    The panel also touched on the importance of grassroots support for projects through festivals and outreach campaigns, the role of social impact/action efforts in achieving filmmakers’ objectives, and driving audience development, as well as the nature of target audiences for filmmakers in the festival circuit—very often the first audience for producers and filmmakers is the industry, as in the search for a distribution deal, while film audiences remain the ultimate target.

    Also discussed by the panel was the ever-expanding role of social media in contemporary film and television marketing, often being used as a substitute for more traditional (and expensive) tools, i.e. advertising.

    Australian International Screen Forum

    Interesting perspectives were expressed by the various participants, including Keisha Salmon, who spoke to the broadcast platform and the role of documentary festivals and outreach campaigns for their product. Sam Kiener spoke about Cinereach, which is a non-profit that finances films, including Beasts of the Southern Wild, and how they liaise with the distributors of their films. Schyuler Weiss spoke from the producing perspective, particularly about festival strategies when and if your film does not get into Sundance.

    “All in all, a very comprehensive and stimulating conversation about the dynamic landscape of film and TV marketing today and its impact on producers,” Weisman said after the event.

    The Pitch Royale event was a popular, two-round contest, which included Krysanne Katsoolis as a judge. Industry delegates from Australia and the US pitch their film or series projects for one or two minutes to a panel of screen development industry leaders. The judges, who aim to mirror the real world development process, selected the best pitches based on a selective criteria. King Wong, a 1-Year Producing conservatory student, participated in the pitch session with a project close to his heart, and did very well.

    The Australian International Screen Forum was an informative, insightful, and fun event, and New York Film Academy looks forward to it again next year!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 1, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Producing • Views: 10