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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking & Cinematography Alum Jean de Meuron’s Short ‘Megan’ Wins at the 2019 Telly Awards

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    Megan Jean de MeuronNew York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking and Cinematography alum Jean de Meuron can add another award to his mantle—his short film Megan was a Silver Winner at the 40th Annual Telly Awards.

    de Meuron hails from Switzerland and first enrolled at NYFA in 2009, taking several workshops, including in Filmmaking, before following his short-term studies with NYFA’s 1-year Conservatory in Cinematography. Since then, he’s been hard at work making award-winning projects. In 2017, he executive-produced the short film La femme et le TGV, which earned an Academy Award nomination. 

    Megan, a short film that also serves as a proof of concept for a feature science fiction epic in the vein of J.J. Abrams’s popular Cloverfield series, was a Silver Winner in the General – Online category. The proof of concept features breathtaking action bolstered by perfectly executed special effects, including a harrowing helicopter crash and the appearance of a colossal, ominous spaceship.

    The short was directed by Greg Strasz and produced by de Meuron, along with Giuseppe Mercadante and Olcun Tan. Megan previously won four awards at the 2018 Pitch to Screen Film Awards: Best Proof of Concept, Best Director, Best Cinematographer, and Best Editor, as well as Best International Sci-Fi Short at the 2018 London International Short Film Festival.

    “I am deeply honored, proud, and humbled that my team and I won a Telly Award,” de Meuron says of Megan’s Silver trophy. “This came as a complete surprise since companies like Disney, Lucasfilm, Netflix, Paramount, Viacom, CBS, DC Entertainment, and so forth were also honored for their work in various categories. We share the Silver Winner Award with CBS in the category 2019 Online: General Viral.”

    The Telly Awards were founded in 1979 to recognize achievements in local, regional, and cable television commercials with non-broadcast video and television programming included shortly after. The Telly Awards have kept up with the times and now embraces media content that can be seen on all screens—from the theater to your smartphone. This also includes awards for VR, television commercials, web series and branded content. This year’s event had a record-breaking amount 12,000 entries, of entries, from from all 50 states and five continents.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) congratulates Filmmaking & Cinematography alum Jean de Meuron on the success of Megan and its Silver Winner Award at the 40th Annual Telly Awards!

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    June 21, 2019 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 594

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Instructor Paul Salamoff, Writer/Director of ‘Encounter’

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    On Saturday, April 13, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of new sci-fi/drama Encounter, the award-winning directorial debut of industry vet and NYFA Screenwriting instructor Paul J. Salamoff. The screening was followed by a Q&A with actors Anna Hutchison, Glenn Keogh, Vincent M. Ward, Christopher Showerman, Wendy David, and Peter Holden, and co-moderated by writer/director Paul J. Salamoff and Chris Showerman. The film also stars Luke Hemsworth (Westworld, Thor: Ragnarok) and Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon, Escape from New York).Encounter Paul Salamoff

    Salamoff has been working for almost 30 years in film, TV, video games, and commercials as a writer, producer, director, executive, comic creator, storyboard artist, and make-up FX Artist. He is the author of On the Set: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette (now in its 4th Edition) and the graphic novels DiscordTales of Discord, Logan’s Run, and issues of Vincent Price Presents. His short stories and essays have been included in acclaimed anthologies including Midian Unmade: Tales From Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring The Blade Runner Universe and he is a two-time Bram Stoker Award Nominee.

    He was recently named one of The Tracking Board’s Top 100 up & coming Screenwriters and has developed projects with Mosaic Media Group, Hollywood Gang, Blumhouse, Wigram Productions, Silver Pictures, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Vertigo, Unstoppable Entertainment (UK) and Eclectic Pictures.

    Encounter has already picked up several awards, including Closing Night Film at the Other Worlds Austin Film Festival, Best Director at the 44th Boston Sci-Film Festival, and the Audience Award and Best Supporting Actor (for Tom Atkins) at the Miami International Sci-Fi Film Festival.

    Salamoff began the Q&A with a discussion about the unique way each of the actors became involved with the film. Some were actors that Salamoff had known and written roles specifically for while others were ones that he had admired and wanted to work with. 

    The most notable story was from Glenn Keogh who got a call three days before filming to replace one of the actors who got stuck in the UK because of a work visa issue. Salamoff remarked how generous it was of Keogh to step in so late and how remarkable a job he did, and in hindsight he “can’t even imagine the role being played by anyone else.”

    Showerman followed up with a question about Salamoff’s mature directing style despite being a first-time director. Salamoff cited the fact that he has been a fan of movies since he was five years old and still sees “tons of movies” as well as jokingly claiming to be the reason why Moviepass failed. He went on to say that he was heavily influenced by directors such as David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, and most recently Denis Villeneuve.

    When asked about the story itself, Salamoff discussed his desire to tell a story “where the science-fiction and fantastical aspects are important, but it’s more about the characters.” He cited films like Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Stalker as well as the films of Brit Marling (Another Earth, Sound of My Voice) as having influenced the screenplay.

    The big takeaway from the Q&A was that Salamoff tried to create an environment on set that was highly collaborative with his cast and crew. Wendy Davis pointed out that even though the film was on a tight schedule, “it felt very safe and free for the actors” and that Salamoff would “allow us time to play and discover things.” 

    Encounter Paul Salamoff
    Peter Holden added that “If you’re going to try to pull things off on a shoestring, then you better have people be on your side,” which prompted the cast to reminisce about how well they were taken care of especially in regards to food. 

    A number of the film’s producers owned local restaurants and supplied them, according to Anna Hutchison, “with as much crab legs, steak, and oysters as they could eat.” 

    Vincent Ward followed that by saying “they never had to worry about anything” and could just focus on their craft.

    Keogh went on to say that they’ve “all worked on projects where the camaraderie was not there,” but it was there on Encounter because Salamoff set the tone from day one. 

    Salamoff remarked that this was always the plan and “at the end of the day, I made the movie that I wanted to make,” before adding “but it’s always interesting the road it takes to get there.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank instructor Paul Salamoff and the cast of Encounter for sharing their experiences and advice for filmmakers as well as details about the development and production of the film.

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    June 3, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 779

  • How H.R. Giger Changed the Way We See Aliens

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    alien head designed by H.R. Giger for the movie Alien

    It’s hardly an understatement to say that H.R. Giger, who died on Monday at the age of 74, permanently altered the way Hollywood depicts aliens. When his frightening and singular extraterrestrial debuted in Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien, mainstream audiences had frankly never seen anything like it. Having pioneered a biomechanical style that infused robotic elements into his representation of biological organisms, Giger hit upon a truly original style that has continued to keep movie fans up at night thirty-five years after his creation first hit the screen.

    Simply put, Giger created the first extraterrestrial that looked positively alien. After all, who can ever forget his creation’s mouth within a mouth moving Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley to terrified tears? From the metallic sheen of its over-exaggerated forehead to its sleek to its skeletal body—with what looked like steam valves protruding from its spring—and limber legs and threateningly ribbed tail, Giger fused together natural and mechanical motifs to create a creature that looked positively other. While his alien creation—also known as a “xenomorph”—became his calling card, Giger is also credited with creating the film’s “facehugger” and “chestburster”, embryonic versions of the xenomorph that emphasized the biological influences on his work.

    H.R. Giger designed facehugger from the movie Alien

    Though aliens have had a presence throughout the history of sci-fi, before Giger, aliens were often exaggerations of the human form with actors dressed in absurd make-up and costumes that often looked downright goofy. After all, the modern viewer will often be moved to laughter when viewing the creations of such schlock masters as Roger Corman or the aliens that plagued Doctor Who. But Giger’s alien is unlikely to elicit even a giggle from the most veteran sci-fi fan, a creature so terrifyingly original that it helped to spawn three sequels of diminishing quality and a prequel, Prometheus, that is essentially an exploration of Giger’s mind and aesthetic.

    Once Alien entered the popular consciousness and helped to win Giger and his colleagues an Oscar for Best Achievement for Visual Effects in 1980, extraterrestrials on the big screen started to look nastier, more menacing, and truly otherworldly. Even though the adorable Wookies are often what first come to one’s mind when thinking of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, Giger’s influence can be seen in such terrifying creations as the Sarlacc, the sand pit beast that gleefully swallows its victims down its spikey opening. The height of Giger’s influence can arguably best be seen in Predator, whose titular creature fused human-like dreadlocks and reptilian mandibles with a technologically advanced creature that looked equal parts alien and machine. It only seemed a matter of fate that both creatures would face off countless times in comic books and movies like Alien vs. Predator.

    To this day, Giger’s biomechanical vision of extra-terrestrial life continues to permeate popular culture, be it the aliens in movies such as The Avengers and Transformers to the cyberpunk creations of William Gibson to characters in countless graphic novels and comic books. While Giger was a true artist who created an extensive pantheon of paintings, movies, album covers, and works of interior design, when it comes to Hollywood and its many aliens, his influence is likely to be felt for decades to come.

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    May 14, 2014 • Filmmaking • Views: 6348