Q&A-List
Posts

  • NYFA Welcomes Producers of Military Docuseries “Ten Weeks” to NYFA’s Q&A-List

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    NYFA had the privilege of hosting a live video Q&A with the co-founder of We Are the Mighty, David Gale, Medal of Honor recipient & Chair of NYFA’s Veteran Advancement Program Col. Jack Jacobs, and We Are The Mighty (WATM) Chief Content Officer and director Chase Millsap. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    David Gale is an executive and award-winning producer who is currently serving as the Exe.VP of Development and Production at Gunpowder & Sky. Before joining G&S, Gale co-founded and was CEO of WATM, a media brand focused on hiring and telling the stories of our military veterans. Gale oversaw the release of 28 films when he was at MTV Films, including Varsity Blues, Save The Last Dance, The Longest Yard, Election, Hustle and Flow, and the cultural phenomenon Napoleon Dynamite.

    (Clockwise) Tova Laiter, Chase Millsap, David Gale, and Col. Jack Jacobs

    Chase Millsap produced the short film, The Captain’s Story, in collaboration with National Geographic to highlight the struggles faced by America’s wartime allies. His work has been featured in National Geographic, The Huffington Post and he has appeared on Buzzfeed and CNN International. Millsap is the Chief Content Officer at WATM and has helmed digital, social, film, and television projects for Warner Brothers Studios, CBS Studios, Netflix, and Blumhouse Productions.

    Col. Jack Jacobs served in Vietnam twice; both times as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions, earning three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat decoration. After Jacobs’ retirement, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust and now serves as the Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program at the New York Film Academy. Jacobs also serves as an on-air analyst for NBC News and he is also the co-author of the memoir, If Not Now, When?, which won the Colby Award.

    Rhett Cutrell filming Army trainee Stormy Gideons on the set of “Ten Weeks” (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Millsap, Gale, and Col. Jacobs discussed the making of their series from Blumhouse TV/We Are The Mighty docuseries Ten Weeks. The series, inspired by Col. Jacobs’ book Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training, is a docuseries that follows a cohort of recruits in their journey from untested, young adults to soldiers during basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Though the docuseries Ten Weeks was originally supposed to be released on Quibi, the series will be available to stream on Roku devices in 2021.

    Ten Weeks (named for the length of basic training) would not have been possible without the support of the U.S. Army, which colonel Jack Jacobs brought in to collaborate throughout the process. Millsap explained that it was a documentary, but it had to have a plan in place: it meant knowing the limits of production each day while on set as it was an active training ground with real challenges, safety concerns, and a rigorous approval process for certain shots. But it was all worth it.

    Army Trainees Trinity Carpenter and Stormy Gideons about to receive their banner during “The Anvil” (Photo courtesy of Blumhouse TV / Quibi)

    “Going through boot camp is an experience most people don’t experience or get to see,” shared Jacobs. “It’s the backstory of national defense.” Gale agreed and added the project “is by veterans for veterans so you can’t understate the importance of the series and also give credit to the Army for giving us the opportunity to use this space.”

    While Ten Weeks is by veterans like Millsap and Col. Jacobs, David Gale, who has been in the film business for many years co-founded WATM because he didn’t see many veterans in higher positions throughout the filmmaking industry. “There is so much talent in the military community and when they leave there are few outlets for them to go into in entertainment,” he shared. Col. Jacobs, who spearheads NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program, added that many across the industry don’t realize how talented are those who serve and what they can accomplish. “[At NYFA], it’s an opportunity to hone what they know and learned in uniform to the arts.”

    Army trainee Stormy Gideons and Drill Sergeant Stewart being filmed by Rhett Cutrell on set for “Ten Weeks” (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Millsap knows all too well the challenges that one can face when transitioning from the military to the film industry. “I spent over a decade in uniform and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I leaned into what I was passionate about,” shared Millsap. “In the military, it’s very easy to see what someone’s job is or what they do. As you think about your next step, your creative work is going to be your calling card. You’ve got to spend your time learning the skill set and reading and watching. Study what’s on the screen to figure out how it was made.”

    Millsap and Col. Jacobs, like so many veterans in the entertainment and film industry, are aiming to make military stories exude authenticity and provide more opportunities to veterans looking to break in. Col. Jacobs advised, “No matter what you’re doing, you have to be prepared for some measure of rejection, but you have to keep working at it and it (the project) has to speak to you.”

    (L-R) Army trainee/soldiers Leo Eades, Joshua Oller, Stormy Gideons, Trinity Carpenter, and Riley Barnard on graduation day (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Laiter thanked the distinguished producers for the series that will open up another world in an authentic and compelling way.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank David Gale, Col. Jack Jacobs, and Chase Millsap for sharing their time and expertise with students and the NYFA community. For more information on veteran opportunities at New York Film Academy, click here.

    To hear the full conversation, click the video below our watch on our YouTube channel here.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 2, 2021 • Acting • Views: 1810

  • NYFA Welcomes ICM Partners’ Doug MacLaren for Online Q&A-List Conversation

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the opportunity to host a live video Q&A with the Head of the Motion Picture Literary Department of ICM Agency, DOUG MACLAREN. The discussion with NYFA students and alumni was centered on the agency world and how agents work with their clients in the entertainment industry, especially now in the middle of a pandemic. TOVA LAITER, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Doug MacLaren is Partner and Co-Head of ICM’s Director’s Group. He is a talent and literary agent at ICM Partners, where he represents directors, writers, and actors across both movies and television. His current clients include Tom Hooper (Best Picture and Best Director Oscar winner for The King’s Speech; Les Miserables; The Danish Girl), Vince Gilligan (Emmy award-winner for Breaking Bad and Better Caul Saul; El Camino), Gurinder Chadha (Blinded By The Light; Bend It Like Beckham), Neill Blomkamp (District 9; Elysium), Peter Weir (multiple Oscar nominee for Dead Poets Society; Witness; The Truman Show) Joseph Cedar (Foreign Oscar nominee for Footnote and Beaufort; Our Boys), and Michelle MacLaren (Emmy award-winner for Breaking Bad; Game of Thrones; Westworld; The Walking Dead).

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Doug MacLaren for NYFA’s Q&A-List

    Laiter began the discussion by asking MacLaren how he ended up in the entertainment agency business, to which he replied that right out of college he was involved in the banking industry. After working in Hong Kong at a French bank, MacLaren realized he needed to reevaluate what it was he actually wanted to do with his life. After coming back stateside, MacLaren decided to finally let his love of cinema lead a path to Los Angeles where he started meeting with companies who made movies he liked and eventually landed a job in the industry.

    Laiter questioned how is the agency able to keep up with the multiple companies around, from studios, streamers and so many independents (when she started in the business there were 5 studios and two independents). MacLaren explained how the agency world is keeping up with the changes. “We have staff covering it all and we meet several times a week where we cover all kinds of possibilities for our clients” he explained. “We need to be specialists in all areas from animation to the independent filmmaking market, and I have a division of people who I can work with for all kinds of projects [studio and streaming alike].”

    Doug MacLaren (Right) with “Breaking Bad” creator and client Vince Gilligan (Zimbio)

    “There’s a lot of ways we can keep things COVID-safe with what we do,” shared MacLaren. “We are finding that scheduling Zooms with studios and big production companies is actually easier to get everyone together. In fact, it’s a plus not having to drive to studios or companies across heavily trafficked Los Angeles. It’s now easier to work with people’s schedules including managing clients in multiple time zones and helping in work/life balance to take moments to relax.

    While the pandemic has changed the way agents are working, studios and streaming services have already been changing the way they pick and choose their projects, MacLaren noted. “Studios like Sony and Warner Bros. are mostly looking for the pre-branded IP (Intellectual property). That shift has been going on for a long time as there is international value in it.”

    “For those of us who grew up loving dramas, comedies, and thrillers, that can be frustrating because of the narrowing of movies that are being made,” he said. “The hope is that the streamers don’t have to worry about the Box Office and streamers like Netflix are making everything from documentaries to sit-coms to replace your cable box.”

    On the other hand, MacLaren warned that the data streaming platforms collect can also be threatening. “My fear is, because I represent a diverse group of artists, is that they [streaming platforms] start to develop an echo chamber and say ‘oh well if people are watching action comedies, let’s make more action comedies and IP-driven blockbuster movies’.”

    Still from Doug MacLaren’s Tedx Talk “Primal Processing Power of Our Brains”

    Laiter also asked MacLaren whether creatives and agents need to have more of a package, even if its middle names of talent, put together before showing it to studio or streamers for a project, to cut through the noise or send a screenplay unattached. “In general, yeah, we are taking things a bit further down the road before exposing them to studios,” he revealed, noting that that the production can be easily imagined by studios if the project has the thoughtfulness and care already put into it. However, if the script is exactly what the studio or streamers are looking for- then yes, just send the screenplay.”

    Laiter then closed the conversation by thanking MacLaren for pulling back the curtain as to what is happening in the film industry right now and what his job entails. MacLaren replied that he was grateful to join the conversation and wished NYFA students and alumni the best of luck. “Keep making stuff. Keep writing stuff. This is an exciting time for the industry!”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank ICM Partners’ Doug MacLaren for sharing his time and film industry experience with NYFA students and alumni. To hear the full conversation with MacLaren’s insight into the industry and what he thinks will become of movie theaters as a result of the pandemic.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 15, 2020 • Guest Speakers • Views: 1304

  • NYFA Welcomes Actor & Director Mark Webber to ‘Q&A-List’ Guest Speaker Series

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was excited to host a virtual Q&A with actor and director Mark Webber to discuss directing his latest film The Place of No Words with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of NYFA’s Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Webber has been nominated for multiple awards for directing and acting. He is known for roles in films such as Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, A24’s Green Room, Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, and more. He has also come into his own as a fully-fledged director with his fifth film as director, The Place of No Words, receiving ‘Best Film’ at the Giffoni Film Festival and nominations at Tribeca Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, and the Philadelphia Film Festival.

    Webber’s unique, realistic approach to authentic storytelling began with his first feature, Explicit Ills, where he used elements from his real life and included family members in his cast. He has since cast all his movies that way.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Mark Webber (Right) for NYFA’s Q&A List

    Webber, who shared he was happy to be talking online with NYFA’s students, recalled his upbringing with his teenage single mother and growing up homeless, citing that as a filmmaker he benefited from how he was raised as it allowed him to connect with different groups of people in the community. “These are the things I care about most in my life and I know how grateful I am to be in this position [an actor/director] because I know how vapid the industry can be.”

    The NYFA students and Laiter praised Webber for his recent film and asked him multiple questions about directing, his original filmmaking style, and honing his craft. “I started this process called ‘reality cinema.’ After screening my previous film, The End of Love at Sundance, I felt like I really found my voice. I am particularly fascinated by realism and acting in my own films. I paralleled a moment in the film where I cast my real father, who I hadn’t seen in years, in a scene where we meet face-to-face in real-time. It is deeply fulfilling to get to work on things with people you love.”

    Still from ‘The Place of No Words’ – Mark Webber (Left) and Bodhi Palmer (Right)

    The Place of No Words, in which a three-year-old (played by his son Bodhi Palmer) take a fantastical journey into the wood, to grapples with his father’s (Webber) terminal illness – something he cannot make sense of in real-world terms. his wife, Australian actress Teresa Palmer plays the mother- a real family affair.

    Laiter, who remarked how incredible Bodhi was in the film, asked Webber about directing and being a dad at the same time while on set and working alongside his family. “I can never stop being a dad. I have my dad hat on at all times and Bodhi’s emotional well-being and safety is the top priority for me,” he shared. “Some of the scenes, we would shoot as improv. There are moments of takes with that spontaneity anchored in the framework of the context of the story, so it allows for these moments that feel so authentic and so real take place in this film.”

    The film, part real and part fantasy, creates a colorful world for a child to begin to understand the biggest question of all, “Where do we go when we die?” Webber explained that he wanted the fantasy elements to still feel like reality. “I wanted it to honor the way I see my child’s mind working. So many of the fantasy elements there are from stories that Bodhi and I would tell each other and from stories I tell my own children.”

    Webber’s film pays off, being hailed by the likes of Variety and The New York Times calling it “sweet and personal.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actor and director Mark Webber for sharing his directing experience with NYFA students and alumni and encourages everyone to check out his beautiful and emotionally rich film, The Place of No Words, now available to watch on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and other streaming service providers.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 28, 2020 • Acting • Views: 890

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Die Hart’ Actress Nathalie Emmanuel for “The Q&A-List Series”

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    On October 15, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with acclaimed actress Nathalie Emmanuel to discuss the acting craft and her latest project Die Hart (now streaming on Quibi) with NYFA students. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Nathalie Emmanuel is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after English actresses and well-known to many as ‘Missandei’ in the critically acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones. Emmanuel can now be seen in Quibi’s comedic series Die Hart, starring alongside Kevin Hart and John Travolta. The actress was recently seen in Hulu’s romantic comedy series Four Weddings and a Funeral and made her US feature film debut with the wildly popular Fast & Furious and is expected to appear in the ninth installment, F9.

    Emmanuel has also been heard as the voice of Deet in Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and starred in 20th Century Fox’s Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Emmanuel is also set to star in Josh Friedlander’s directorial debut Holly Slept Over, alongside Ron Livingston, Josh Lawson and Britt Lower.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Nathalie Emmanuel (Right) for NYFA’s The Q&A-List

    Laiter began the conversation with the Die Hart actress by asking about how she started in the business. Stating she was a shy kid growing up, Emmanuel remarked how she got into the arts as a fun hobby until she finally got her big break on British TV show Hollyoaks.

    Now Emmanuel is known all over the globe and her most recent project, Die Hart, is the latest comedy from bite-size content streaming provider Quibi. Laiter, who also has experience with Quibi for the reboot of Varsity Blues, asked Emmanuel about her experience shooting the show and the unique breakdown of each episode. “It was a four week shoot and we shot based on where we were and what we could get and it can be quite challenging shooting out of sequence, but the script was so great I remember leaving it and laughing so much and my character was such a fun challenge for me.”

     

    Nathalie Emmanuel and Kevin Hart in ‘Die Hart’ (Quibi)

    The discussion then opened to questions with one student asking Emmanuel about what she looks for in a script when deciding on a role. “I look for the challenges and aspects of the character that I can relate to,” she began. “As a woman and as a woman of color, I want to ask myself ‘what else can I bring to this?’ It’s also interesting to play people who are complex and when there is variety in the character’s journey.”

    Speaking of characters, Emmanuel shared with the audience some advice on how to further connect with their characters if they are feeling stuck. “Sometimes my character can be inspired by music or it’s as simple as putting on your character’s clothing, but it depends on the part and sometimes the day. Once I am sure I really understand the scene and what I am about to do, the character’s world and the people around them, then it helps me connect to my character quicker.”

    Nathalie Emmanuel in ‘The Fate of The Furious’ (Universal Pictures)

    When building out her characters, Emmanuel shared that the process is different each time depending on the story and motivation of her character. “It really depends on the story. My character is a badass in Game of Thrones, but in a different way from my character in Fast & Furious is,” she recalled. “I would just try to prepare the character and identify all their qualities and flaws. I try to treat each character as an individual person and focus on their actions and what they do.”

    Emmanuel also encouraged students who are making the move in the industry to have a solid support system nearby. “I’ve had to work hard at positive affirmation. I have control over the things that I can control in my career and there is a confidence that comes with that,” she shared. “You have to give yourself time though. Things won’t happen at the speed like someone else.”

    Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei in ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

    Students were also able to ask Emmanuel about getting the part of her most iconic role, Missandei on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Emmanuel joked that she kept harassing her agent about to find a role to audition for on the show.

    After landing the role and winning over audiences everywhere, Emmanuel remarked that her favorite director on the series, Mark Mylod, was outstanding at making everything comfortable on set for an intimate scene with fellow actor Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm). “Mark took the best care of us and gave us his ideas and would allow us to provide feedback. He was so respectful and so wonderful and just helped us bring out the beauty of that scene to where we felt like we just earned this moment.”

    When working with directors, Emmanuel shared that she likes it when she can get direct feedback, even if it’s criticism. “As long as people are respectful to me when giving a note, I am fine with it,” she elaborated. “When it is laid out in a clear way, even if it’s negative, they [the director] are allowed to do that. Sometimes, you just have to work stuff out, get frustrated, and work through it.”

    Nathalie Emmanuel in ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ (20th Century Fox)

    At the end of the discussion, Laiter thanked Emmanuel for taking the time to speak with NYFA students and giving them insight into getting into character and working on set. “It was my pleasure honestly,” replied Emmanuel. “When I had seen the amazing talent of the people who have been on this series [Q&A-List], I was flattered to be here. I also get so excited about the talent that’s coming into the industry; you guys [NYFA students] are going to take hold of that whole shift that is happening.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress Nathalie Emmanuel for taking the time to speak with the NYFA community and invite the actress to come back in the future as many times as she wants!

    Nathalie Emmanuel can be seen in Quibi’s Die Hart, now available to stream by downloading the Quibi app in the app store or through Quibi.com.

    podcast

     

     

     

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 20, 2020 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 860

  • NYFA Welcomes Filmmaking Alum and Director Antonio Campos for ‘The Q&A-List Series’

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    On September 29, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with writer/director and NYFA Filmmaking alum Antonio Campos to discuss his latest hit movie on Netflix’s The Devil All The Time with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Antonio Campos’ other notable feature directing credits include the Sundance sensations Christine, starring Rebecca Hall, and Simon Killer, starring Brady Corbet. His debut feature Afterschool premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Caméra d’Or and Un Certain Regard awards. In television, he directed the pilot of the USA Emmy-nominated series The Sinner and served as an Executive Producer for the first season of the anthology series. He has other credits both in Film and TV as producer.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Antonio Campos (Right) for the NYFA Q&A-List Series

    Laiter opened the discussion with the NYFA alum by asking him about how he first got into filmmaking “I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker for a long time and it really started at New York Film Academy,” remembered Campos. He shared a humorous account of how he was too young (13!) to take classes so he posed as a 16 year old so he could take a 6-Week Filmmaking course at NYFA.

    “For six weeks I was living this other reality and my parents were comfortable with me staying up late to edit,” he joked. “My first short film I did at NYFA called Puberty and I remember this moment where I was so nervous to watch the film with an audience that I stayed in the projection room, and I didn’t know how people were reacting. Afterwards, I saw my father crying because he was so proud and it was validation and support that I could feel, so it’s one of the most important moments for me as a filmmaker.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) and Rebecca Hall at ‘Christine’ screening (Photo Credit: Variety)

    Campos then rooted himself in the indie film world, solidifying himself with hits like Martha Marcy May Marlene, which he produced, along with Afterschool and Christine, which he directed. “I made Christine and, in a lot of ways, it led me to getting The Sinner. That became a success and changed the perception of me as someone who can make things work beyond the art house. That’s just patience and letting things organically happen.” To the question of what contributed the most to the success of the movie, he attributed it to the fact that he always takes his time with the script, even if everyone else is impatient. That’s why it takes him four years between movies but ultimately, they get the response he intended them to have.

    Laiter then asked Campos to share more on the making of his hit film The Devil All The Time, which Campos adapted from the original novel and co-wrote with his brother. “The characters felt familiar, but also specific in how he [the author] was rendering the characters and getting into their heads to go to these places with awful people,” revealed Campos.

    Antonio Campos shooting ‘The Devil All The Time’ (Photo Credit: Netflix)

    “It’s an interesting movie to have gotten the wide reception it has. It’s a very disruptive film emotionally. When I talk about the movie, it should feel like you are breathless for two and a half hours until you get in the car with Arvin and then you can catch your breath,” explained Campos.

    With The Devil All The Time boasting a star-studded cast with the likes of Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgård, and more, one audience member asked Campos how he selects actors for his projects. “I like actors that take big swings and make strong choices, along with actors with distinct faces,” he replied. “I ask myself, ‘how do I feel when I meet them,’ because I will be spending a lot of time with them.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) with Robert Pattinson (Right) on set for ‘The Devil All The Time’ (Photo Credit: Netflix)

    Campos also reminded the directors in the audience to “always make your actors feel seen and heard” and reminded the actors in the audience to communicate with other actors on what they need and that a good actor “likes to be around other actors and feed off that energy.”

    With a stacked cast of celebrity actors in his own film, Campos shared that, regardless of star power, his film is, ultimately, character-driven and was “calibrated between people who were more well-known with other character actors or people you may have never seen before.” When it came to casting his film, he shared that he “knew that this film was very different for how we were approaching characters,” and it required the balance of both known and unknown performers, all of whom shine in this ensemble film.

    In one of the last questions of the night, one student asked for tips on how NYFA students can make the jump from student to a seasoned professional in the industry. Campos had this to share with the audience:

    “Everyone’s career is different and times out differently. Always expect that things may take longer than you expect, but keep your network of friends and collaborators close. In my case, it was about being open to getting involved with other filmmakers and their processes to make their movies. Keep making short films before you make your feature. Always try and be working. Short films are such a safe place to make mistakes and learn. Put yourself out there and submit to every film festival and embrace the networking aspect of being a filmmaker. You can be the most talented filmmaker in the world, but if you cannot convey your film into concrete terms, people will not be able to understand your vision.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) with the cast of his film ‘Afterschool’ at NYFF (Photo Credit: Godlis)

    As for what’s next for Campos, the writer-director reveals that he is adapting a comedy piece, as well as a new drama series starring Hollywood heavyweight Harrison Ford. “It’s called The Staircase, based on the documentary on novelist Michael Peterson,” he shared. “I’ve been working on it in some capacity for ten years and it never quite worked as a feature, so now it is going to be a series and it’s set up with HBO Max.”

    Campos closed the conversation by thanking Laiter for the enjoyable discussion and wished NYFA’s next generation of filmmakers the best of luck for their future projects.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank director and NYFA alum Antonio Campos for sharing his time and filmmaking experience with NYFA students and alumni, and looks forward to his upcoming projects including The Staircase.

    To watch Campos’ recent film, The Devil All The Time, the film is available to stream here on Netflix.

    To hear the full conversation, click the video below our watch on our YouTube channel here.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 1, 2020 • Acting • Views: 1502