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  • Recent Success For New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Ben Cohen

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Ben Cohen has had a productive 2018. His sitcom screenplay, The Library, recently made the 2nd Round at the 2018 Austin Film Festival. Additionally, it was a finalist in the New York Screenplay Contest.

    Cohen hails from Decatur, Georgia and is currently based in Brooklyn. He has studied at various institutions across the globe, and has honed his comedy chops at Upright Citizen Brigade, among other theaters and playhouse troupes. 

    In addition to writing and performing, he currently teaches for the Filmmaking school at New York Film Academy’s New York City campus, where he has gained a reputation for being incredibly devoted to both his students and his fellow faculty members. He is also a great role model for the aspiring film school students he teaches, as he balances his position at NYFA with a working career in the film and comedy industry, much like most of the Academy’s experienced, industry-savvy faculty members.

    It’s no surprise then that his script for The Library made it to the 2nd Round of the 2018 Austin Film Festival (AFF). The AFF was founded in 1994 and has a focus on screenwriters, and has had judges from Warner Bros., Pixar, ABC Studios, and Nickelodeon in past years.

    Ben Cohen

    Ben Cohen Hosting 2018 NYFA Emmy Party in NYC

    Cohen’s script was also a finalist for the New York Screenplay Contest, a premiere global screenwriting contest that has introduced numerous talented and unique voices to the industry. Being named as a Finalist or Winner of the contest is a coveted, distinct honor.

    Cohen has remained modest about his recent achievements, telling NYFA, “It’s nice to see my writing get some recognition, but it’s important for folks to know rejection isn’t the negative — it’s the norm.” 

    Expounding on this, he continued, “Much more of your creative life is spent being told that you’re not good enough, but you have to keep writing, and more importantly, keep sharing your writing. I’ve learned to appreciate the good days (like this one) and just keep going. It helps to care about other things. My students know I’m just as happy to talk sports or Bowie as I am to talk about writing.”

    Additionally, Cohen was recently featured in a PBS Documentary produced by NYFA alum Ashton Brooks, and he plans to continue writing and pursuing gigs in the industry. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates filmmaking instructor Ben Cohen on his recent successes and looks forward to those still yet to come! 

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  • Q&A With Comedian and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Alum Aubree Sweeney

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    On Monday, October 22, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting alum Aubree Sweeney returned to campus to perform a stand-up comedy set followed by a Q&A with NYFA screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner.Aubree Sweeney

    Sweeney earned a master’s degree in screenwriting at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. After graduated NYFA’s screenwriting school, she studied with the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisational comedy theater and training center in Hollywood; from there, she transitioned to stand-up comedy and now she is a nationally touring comedian. Sweeney continues to build her theatre resume and has been part of several television commercials.

    Conner opened up the Q&A by asking Sweeney’s advice for aspiring comedians. “If stand-up is something you wanna do, just go hit as many open mics as you can,” Sweeney said, “and just keep getting onstage until you feel comfortable.” Sweeney shared that her background as a dancer and a baton-twirler for football games at the University of Arizona helped her with confidence.

    Conner then inquired about Sweeney’s writing process. “Write it, rewrite it, rewrite it again, again, again, don’t look at it for a couple weeks — maybe a semester,” explained Sweeney.

    Aubree SweeneyShe continued, “Write it again, polish it, then you’ve got that confidence because you know this material; you know that it is written to the best of your ability, and then you’re going onstage, and then you’re gonna figure out what that little extra thing [is] that makes it better… I think that most of my confidence in doing stand-up comedy onstage comes from the work not onstage.”

    Sweeney also gave advice about how to deal with the anxiety of being new to performing stand-up, “I would recommend when you first start doing stand-up comedy, at the front, say ‘I’m new.’ I said it was my first show for probably the first 25 shows.”

    Sweeney shared some of the best ways to get gigs as a comedian: promote yourself as much as possible, be resourceful, be open to performing at unconventional venues like business expos and county fairs, and adapt your comedy content for different crowds.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Aubree Sweeney for her performance and for providing insider insight for aspiring comedians at NYFA.

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    November 7, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 720

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Grads Celebrate With an Industry Pitch Fest

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    It was that time of year once more as graduating BFA New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held at the penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by the astounding views of Los Angeles.Screenwriting Pitch Fest Sept 2018

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrated the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting school students by offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development and pitching their film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.

    These exceptional writing students spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting classes working with instructor Jerry Shandy in conjunction with Faculty Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and other members of the Screenwriting Department, preparing and fine-tuning their pitches. They were also joined by a stellar Screenwriting alum that night. The Pitch Fest shared the venue with an equally impressive event by NYFA’s Producing school.

    The students’ dedication and passion for their work was on display as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year. Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on, and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, their hard work paid off as the talented and creative students pitched agents, managers, studios, and digital, VR, TV, and film production company executives in a relaxed, roundtable environment.

    Screenwriting Pitch Fest Sept 2018Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Adam Finer, the Pitch Fest featured representatives from Hollywood companies including: Jim Henson Company, MGM, Practical Magic, Verve, Rain Management, Little Studio Films, Tremendum Pictures, and Gulfstream Pictures.

    The New York Film Academy wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. NYFA also extends a big congratulations to all of our BFA graduates and wishes them the best of luck as they move forward in their professional journeys!

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    September 26, 2018 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 993

  • Women in Comics: New York Film Academy (NYFA) and Final Draft Host “Write On” Podcast

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    On August 20, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) partnered with Final Draft to host a live taping of Final Draft’s podcast, Write On, focused on women in comics. The panelists were Shannon Watters, Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, and NYFA screenwriting school instructor Christina Weir. The event was moderated by Pete D’Alessandro."Write On: Women in Comics"

    Shannon Watters is the senior editor at BOOM! Studios and co-creator and co-writer of the award-winning comic book series, Lumberjanes. Kirsten Smith is a writer and producer (Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s the Man, Ella Enchanted, The House Bunny and The Ugly Truth) and Christina Weir is a writer (New X-Men, Skinwalker, Three Strikes, Maria’s Wedding, Bad Medicine, Play Ball, Dragon Age: Deception).

    The panelists were first asked what makes comics unique as an artistic medium. Smith said that, in her opinion, comics are special and intimate because they are “a work of art.” Weir added that, in the comic medium, it is essential to keep things moving; even if the scene is just a conversation, it’s important to keep it visually interesting to the reader. Watters shared that she likes using “the page turn” as a tool to surprise and entertain readers of comics in book form.

    The production of a comic is similar to the production of a play or TV show or film because, to be successful, the comic has to tell a story and, in order to tell a story well, there must be trust and communication between all parties involved. Watters described the relationship between a comic writer and artist as symbiotic and “like a marriage.”

    "Write On: Women in Comics"Weir added that comics are “great learning tools for screenwriting” because they “force [the writer] to get to what’s important… You only have so much space to get your point across.”

    The panelists were asked what they believe the future of the comic industry looks like. Watters said that she believes that in the next couple decades, there will be more and more women, people of color, and LGBTQ comic writers and artists. Weir added, “We are in an age now where kids are encouraged to read comics… Comics are cool!”

    Lastly, Watters’ advice for aspiring comic writers and artists is to “Get your stuff out there!” She encouraged students to share their work on the web and to meet other creative people to network, collaborate, and grow.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Shannon Watters, Kirsten Smith, and Christina Weir for sharing their experiences and advice for young writers.

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    August 28, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1578

  • Screenwriter and Reality TV Story Producer Ed Klau Sits Down with NYFA Students

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    ed klau

    Edward Klau

    Recently, screenwriter and reality TV story producer Edward Klau visited with New York Film Academy Business of Screenwriting students to talk about his unique path in the entertainment business–from working on a variety of reality TV shows over the years to most recently having his thriller screenplay Brights win the Table-Read My Script Competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

    Originally hailing from Miami, 13-year-old Klau loved to make short movies. “I always loved storytelling,” Klau explained. He attended school in upstate New York, with a major in Cinema & Photography. While there, Klau wrote, directed and produced a half-hour TV show that aired on the campus-wide TV station ICTV, entitled Tracy Malis, a crime-thriller web series in the vein of La Femme Nikita. “It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot doing it.”

    While a student, Klau knew that most of the job opportunities in entertainment were in Los Angeles, and while still in school, took an internship over the summer as a set PA on the Nicholas Hytner film The Object of My Affection.

    After college, Klau held assistant jobs working for producer Steve Tisch (FORREST GUMP, AMERICAN HISTORY X), who had a first look deal with DreamWorks at the time. But Klau knew he had other ambitions than working in development; he wanted to write and wanted a job that afforded him some time to do so. He soon found a niche that better suited him when he got a job as a logger/transcriber on LAW AND ORDER: CRIME & PUNISHMENT. “The job was pretty easy. I had to take notes on what was on the footage, that is, its content basically. I was a fast typist, and I also knew how to edit.”

    After graduating, Klau was able to land a job as a logger on The Amazing Race. And from there, he began a long and successful career working his way up the creative reality TV producing ladder, as an associate producer, a story editor, and then a story producer.

    project runway

    Klau has worked on over 30 shows—everything from Project Runway, a reality TV series exploring the fashion world, to Project Greenlight, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of movies. He was a story producer for Trading Spaces, a reality TV series about carpenters who compete against each other to redecorate a room in each other’s homes, and the cooking competition show Ultimate Cake Off.

    As Klau explained to the students, part of his job is to comb through all of the footage that is taken and start finding episodes. “It’s a lot of puzzle-solving,” Klau explained. Essentially, he has to help find “problems of the week” that can become episodes, which is challenging especially on non-competition shows. He then has to find other problems that have come up (B and C stories from footage) and string them all together and make sure they work with another and have a creative coherence.

    As for whether reality TV is really written and scripted, Klau explained, “It depends on the show, but all really come together in the editing. Some shows still basically just shoot documentary-style, and see what they can get, and we have to really create the show in post. That’s challenging, but rewarding. On some shows, the producers intervene with ideas or directions about where the show might go or what a character might say, blurring the lines a bit more. And on some, yes, it’s almost scripted reality, almost like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

    A lot of what Klau enjoys about his work is through osmosis of just being a part of the team. “One of the things I love about what I do is how much I get to learn about niche topics, things I would have never gotten a chance to learn. On Sons of Guns, I learned everything there is to know about building guns. On Flipping Ships, it was building boats, on Kentucky Justice, it was learning about people who manhunt for arsonists.” Klau worked on the ghost-hunter show Paranormal State, and while he claims not to not believe in the paranormal, he did say there was once a very strange “electric glitch” on an episode that gave him the willies….

    paranormal state

    “Every show is completely different and is an entirely new world, which is really cool. It helps my writing as well, not only as a research tool, but in coming up with new ideas,” Klau explained.

    Klau taught the students that some producer and editor positions are known as a “PrEditor” gigs, though it’s not a title that entirely fits his job description, and that reality TV shows are filled with like-minded individuals, many of whom have scripted film and TV aspirations as well, but it’s a great community of individuals who get to create every day. “It’s not a bad day job at all.”

    As for screenwriting, Klau is also beginning to make a name for himself in that arena as well. His script Brights recently won the “Table Read My Screenplay” at the Sundance Film Festival, a great honor. Klau has developed many other projects with producers over the years and shared some closing advice for NYFA’s writing students as well. “I think there are two types of people in the world: those who can and those who can’t, those who will and those who won’t. With writing, you have to remain proactive, because this is not an easy profession and you can’t ever give up.”

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    July 20, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 5632

  • Literary Manager Mike Klein Joins Business of Screenwriting Class

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    Mike KleinLast month, literary manager/producer Michael Klein of Dobré Films sat down with NYFA’s Business of Screenwriting class, charming them with his story of how this River Edge, New Jersey-native wound up becoming a rising literary manager and film producer in Hollywood. Turns out, it all began in Miami, Florida.

    Klein attended the University of Miami and got his Bachelor of Science in the Motion Picture Business. He started off as a production intern on the soap opera, Ocean Ave., a Swedish-American soap filmed in Miami for Dolphin Entertainment, which was filmed both in English and Swedish simultaneously about Miami cops on the case of a prostitute-murdering serial killer. “It was Megan Fox’s claim to fame,” Klein said with a smirk. “I think the Pussy Cat Dolls’ Jessica Sutta also got her start on the show. We had a lot of models on as well.” Not bad for a first job.

    Klein bounced around Miami for a while as a PA and got to work on some pretty impressive movies filming there, including Bad Boys II. “My job was crowd control, making sure people on the streets stayed out of the shots.” Klein explained it was pretty cool. “You know that epic shot where Will Smith is shooting out the window as the car is spinning around out of control in Bad Boys 2? I got to see them shoot that. Turns out the whole thing was done on a massive turn table.” Klein explained the lessons he learnt early on about cultivating relationships. Part of the reason Klein got these jobs, he explained, was because he had worked with them before. “Crews bounce around from shoot to shoot, like a family.”

    However, after a few years, Klein realized it was time to move on from PA’ing. He wasn’t sure if he should head to New York or Los Angeles, but he knew he much preferred the west coast weather and that most of the business was out there. While yearning to get into the creative end of developing stories and working with clients on new material, Klein also knew that a solid pathway into that world was to work in an agency mailroom. So Klein took a job at the now defunct Broder Webb agency (which was acquired by ICM in 2006), a small boutique literary firm. He became an assistant and served as the liaison between clients and their agents.

    Bad Boys II“What I learnt very quickly is that assistants have real power,” Klein explained. “They are the first line of defense at agencies and field calls from all over the world.” Klein also remarked about the ‘class phenomena’ with assistantships. “All your fellow assistants at your company and the places around town you interact with, become your class. You come up together; you grew up together. I can’t tell you how many assistants I knew then are now real power players today. So treat assistants well. It sounds cliché, but today’s assistants really are tomorrow’s studio heads.”

    After working at Broder, Klein knew he didn’t want to be an agent, but that representation and management sounded very interesting to him. Plus, management was a path towards producing, Klein’s other professional goal. So he took a job at BenderSpink, which in 2006 was the powerhouse management company in the spec world, with multiple high six-figure spec sales in any given year. “It was a different time then,” Klein recalls, “specs not only sold often, but for big money.”

    While at BenderSpink, Klein began hip-pocketing a few clients — that is, unofficially representing a few clients of his own, while still assistant. One of these clients was the writer Tim Tori, a genre scribe on the rise. Klein developed and packaged his script Prowl and ended up producing it alongside AfterDark Films. The film was later shot in Bulgaria and starred Josh Bowman from the hit-series Revenge.

    Soon after, Klein went off to form his own production and literary management company, Dobre Films in 2009. He partnered with his close filmmaker friend and collaborator Christopher D’Elia and they have been working together ever since. Klein works with a variety of different writers. While his client Tim Tori went onto write the Joel-Silver produced Dragon Eyes. Klein then found writing team Julie Sagalowsky & Alex Diaz and sold their tween series What’s Up Warthogs to Disney XD, where it aired for two seasons and sold internationally to multiple territories.

    In 2012, Klein discovered the writing team of Richard Tanne & Travis Baker. Klein helped develop their epic Caesar script, The Roman, which Mark Wahlberg is now producing. In 2013, Klein introduced Rich & Travis to Mythology Entertainment, where they’re currently developing a TV series alongside Academy Award Winner Mark Andrews (Brave). In addition, Travis wrote and directed the indie-horror Mischief Night, which was released through Lionsgate in May 2014. Richard also wrote the romantic drama Southside With You, which is going into production in 2015 and is being produced by Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow). Most recently, Klein introduced the team to Radar Pictures, who ended up acquiring their crime thriller spec, Midnight.

    The Philly Kid

    In the summer of 2014, Klein signed writer, James Breen. In the short time Klein has worked with Breen, he helped Breen get signed to The Gersh Agency, and he was hired by Blumhouse Pictures to write a thriller for Gwyneth Paltrow to star.

    Klein offered a variety of advice for NYFA’s writing students. “There’s no shortcut to being a good writer other than reading scripts… There’s also something I call ‘relationship currency’. I can’t tell you how valuable good relationships are out here; it’s almost everything. Start making them now — at your internships, and out there in town. It’s essential.”

    Klein went onto talk about what he looks for in scripts. “A unique voice, commercial appeal, specificity, and subtext — that’s super important.” But the other thing Klein looks at is the person themselves: “Can they take criticism? Are they good in a room? Do they take their time with their craft or do they rush it? Are they too married to their first draft and unable to change? All of this is just as important. Writers need to be flexible collaborators,” Klein explained. What turns Klein off to new clients? “When every character sounds the same, and when I can put the script down after 30 pages, then you have a real problem.” Klein closed out with some expert advice for all of the students — “Passion drives projects. What speaks to you? You need to find that voice deep inside and hang onto it tight.”

    In addition to managing, Klein successfully balances a full slate of feature films. After producing Prowl, Klein co-produced The Philly Kid, executive produced by Joel Silver. Currently, Klein’s in pre-production with Millennium Films on the action/thriller Point of Violence, as well as the cerebral horror, Spell with Radar Pictures. Klein’s also developing the art-house drama, This Is Your Death, alongside Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito. Klein lives in Los Angeles, CA and teaches Pitching classes at NYFA. He can be reached through his company website – www.dobrefilms.com.

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    January 15, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 6093

  • NYFA Los Angeles Wraps its Write Start Contest Workshop

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    NYFA Los Angeles Screenwriting

    NYFA Los Angeles Screenwriting Room

    Often a writer confines his or herself, staying true to his or her own thoughts. Typically, the writer is stubborn, holding strong to the original idea. However, truly perfecting the craft of screenwriting requires practice, guidance and workshopping with peers. Having an environment with knowledgable professionals and like-minded individuals is imperative to the overall goal of completing an industry standard screenplay that could actually be shopped around Hollywood. This notion is precisely what the New York Film Academy’s Screenwriting School is built upon.

    Two weeks ago, we wrapped up the Write Start Contest Workshop. Launched by The Writers’ Store and co-sponsored by New York Film Academy’s MFA Screenwriting Program, the Write Start Contest invited writers to submit a one-page pitch for a feature screenplay idea. Out of hundreds of applicants, eight winners were chosen. The grand prize was a special 8-week workshop at NYFA Los Angeles. Four of the eight winners elected to come to NYFA Los Angeles in person to participate in the workshop. The others participated in an online workshop. At the end of the program, each student completed a finished feature length screenplay, which we believe has the ability to be shown to industry professionals.

    If you have an idea for a screenplay and are looking to hone your craft in a structured environment, be sure to check out NYFA’s Screenwriting Programs!

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    March 27, 2014 • Screenwriting • Views: 4267

  • NYFA MFA Screenwriting Alum Sells Thesis Pilot Script to ABC

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    In their second year of study, students in New York Film Academy’s MFA Screenwriting program choose to write either a feature film or a television pilot for their thesis project. While every student hopes to launch their career with a great writing sample, recent graduate Angela Ruhinda (Jan 2011 Screenwriting) took it one step further. Last week, Angela’s thesis pilot, Iman & Andy, sold to ABC with Whoopi Goldberg and Ben Silverman attached as producers.

    Angela Ruhinda

    Angela Ruhinda

    The sitcom is about an interracial couple who are forced to team up on a relationship advice vlog, with their whole office and millions of viewers following their relationship.

    NYFA Associate Screenwriting Chair, Adam Moore caught up with Angela, who is back home in her native Tanzania at the moment, to ask her about the experience.

    Where did the idea for ‘Iman & Andy’ come from?

    Iman & Andy was an idea I came up with during my second and final year at NYFA. I chose the TV option for my thesis because I’ve always wanted to create my own sitcom. I love romantic comedies but it’s not very often that you see a really good one on television anymore. I wanted a really fun couple that people could relate to. I was a big fan of the show ‘Dharma & Greg’ and love the Yin and Yang dynamic of their relationship. I wanted to update the concept by making them inter-racial and involving social media. The main statement I want to make is that online dating in the social media age is awkward, crazy and stressful no matter what color you are. 

    How did the script get from your thesis workshop to Electus?

    I entered the Storyboard TV screenwriting contest in October 2012 and became a finalist by January 2013. I lost the competition by just a few votes but Amanda Krentzman, one of the judges on the panel who happens to work at Electus Productions, loved my script so much she contacted me after the contest was over and expressed interest in selling it to a major network. 

    Did the script change from your thesis draft to the one that eventually sold?

    I sat down with Electus…and I just talked to them about season arcs and characters. They already understood the concept. Pitch workshop [part of Business of Screenwriting 3, a second-year screenwriting course taught by Adam Moore] did help me with my nerves in the room. I was able to speak clearly about my ideas and charm the crap out of them. Electus gave me a few notes on characters and one or two scenes before we decided to send out the script to networks. Thankfully, I only did two re-writes and ABC liked the concept and script enough to buy it as soon as they read it. 

    What’s one piece of advice you’d give to current students?

    Don’t knock screenwriting competitions! They can change your life and kickstart your career!

    How excited are you right now?

    They haven’t created a word yet that describes how I’m feeling!

    Well, there is a word for how we at NYFA are feeling – PROUD. Speaking about their former student, Thesis Advisor Jerry Shandy and Thesis Instructor Eric Nelson had this to say:

    We’re proud of Angela because she worked really hard on this pilot in the Thesis Workshop class. With her workshop mates’ support, she continued to develop her idea, writing and rewriting until it was singing. That’s what we strive to do in screenwriting workshop classes here at NYFA: take a good idea and refine it until it’s a piece of material the writer is proud to take out into the world.

    Congratulations, Angela!

    -Adam Moore

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    December 5, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Diversity, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5995

  • Understanding the World through Film: Tiburon International Film Festival

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    Tiburon FFTiburon International Film Festival is a platform for independent filmmakers from around the world, which certainly fits the mold of New York Film Academy’s student body. For students and alumni interested, the 13th Annual Tiburon International Film Festival (TIFF) will be held April 2014 in Tiburon, California and will showcase independent features and short films from around the world.

    Submissions are open to all genres: Fiction, documentary, short, animation, experimental, student, children, sports, music video…..from any nation in the world.

    TIFF has screened over 2000 independent films from more than 100 countries since its inception.

    The festival has also honored and hosted many great filmmakers such as: Oscar winning director and cinematographer Haskell Wexler [Medium Cool], George Lucas [Star Wars], Blake Edwards [Pink Panthers], Santiago Alvarez [Hanoi Martes 13], John Frankenheimer [Manchurian Candidate],George Stevens [Shane], Malcolm McDowell [A Clockwork Orange], Saul Zaentz [One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest],  Mark Rydell [On Golden Pond], Irving Saraf [The Sermons of Sister Jane], Robert Snyder [Pablo Casals: A Cry for Peace], Paul Mazursky [Down & Out in Beverly Hills], Bob Rafelson [Five Easy Pieces], Brad Bird [Toy Story], Luchino Visconti [Death in Venice], Hal Hickel [Pirates of the Caribbean] among many others.

    Golden Reel Awards:

    The films submitted to the Tiburon International Film Festival are eligible to win the “Golden Reel Award” in several categories: Best Fiction, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Short, Best Animation, Best Children’s Film, Best Student Film, Best Music Video, Best Sport Film. The winners of all categories will be announced during a ceremony at the end of the Festival.

    Entry Information:
    Entry form and eligibility guidelines are available by clicking here and filling out the necessary information.

    The Early Bird Deadline on December 1, 2013 is fast approaching while the final deadline falls on January 15, 2014.

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    October 28, 2013 • Film Festivals • Views: 4140

  • So How Do You Get a TV Series Off the Ground?

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    dytman

    One of the most crucial steps into the film and television industry for any writer is finding and landing the right agent. It’s one of the first obstacles for any film student, especially after graduation. So, the New York Film Academy was excited to hold an informative Q&A with the Senior VP of Gersh Agency, Jack Dytman. His long list of clients include TV series show-runners, executive producers, story editors, staff writers and feature writers in all aspects of the business. His clients have worked on network and cable television series such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, Walking Dead, Desperate Housewives, Castle, Criminal Minds, Hawaii 5-0, Smash, Lie To Me, Frasier, Without A Trace, Law and Order: SVU, X-Files, Alias, Hill Street Blues, Suddenly Susan, Murphy Brown, Boston Legal, Barney Miller, Law and Order, Chicago Hope, NYPD Blue, Married with Children, Carnivale, and more. Numerous clients have been nominated for Emmy Awards, ten clients have received Writers Guild Award nominations, and four have won. In the last five years his clients have received nine Producers Guild Award nominations.

    Given his background, Jack provided much insight into the world of the business. He spoke about the current popularity of television, noting, “I have a long line of feature writers trying to get into television, but TV is different…you need to be able to lay the pipeline for 100-150 episodes. It’s not just three acts and an ending!” He also stated that the people that you may need to pitch to are “smart and have heard everything, so the work needs to be unique.”

    dytman2

    Tova Laiter with Jack Dytman

    One of our students asked Jack the popular question, “How do you get your foot in the door at a network show?” He suggested that, “If you want to get in the door, be a writer’s assistant. If you can’t do that, do something else – sweep if you have to!” Typically it can take up to ten years to develop a writing career for networks, but there are exceptions. One exception he mentioned was the creator of Burn Notice, who had never written for a show. So while it’s rare, it can happen. “You should find your niche and focus on that genre. Understand the networks and cable  – what are they branding? Understanding the difference between ABC, CBS and SHOWTIME is important.”

    While Jack admits it was difficult to predict what shows would become hits, he knew Magnum PI was going to be. However, other shows such as Pushing Daisies simply didn’t catch, even with the top people on board. Then there was Seinfeld, which took about three years to turn into a good show. Go figure.

    Jack also walked our audience through the Development process for TV shows, which was quite telling.

    1. Writer goes to agent with AN IDEA.
    2. If agent says “it’s great” they go to a studio or network.
    3. If it moves forward, they will create or develop a creative team together.
    4. The team will, among other things, BRAND the show. An incredibly important part of network television (each studio and network have branding branches.)
    5. If all goes well, the pilot is picked up once written.
    6. The pilot WILL receive notes, accept them and work with them!
    7. Hopefully pilot gets made, then shown, then repeated.
    8. This process repeats itself annually.

    If you don’t like receiving notes, you’re in the wrong business. Jack stressed the importance of being able to take notes and establishing a relationship with producers and executives. The old cliche about the industry being, “Half about ability and half about like-ability,” is true. “A lot of it is about relationships – you have to network constantly.” He closed with these words of advice, “Have someone refer you when trying to get your work out there.”

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    August 1, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5109