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  • Writer / Creator Matthew Arnold Gives NYFA Students Advice on How to Pitch for TV

    The writer and creator of “Siberia,” “Emerald City,” and “Shadow People,” Matthew Arnold, visited the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy on Monday, February 27, 2017. Students from several writing classes attended the event.

    matthew arnold

    Arnold read pitches for each of his most recent projects and gave students advice on how to refine their pitches. “I like to do a little research (before a pitch), so I have something to talk to the executives about….

    But for ‘Siberia,’ I did something different. I went in and said, ‘Have you seen this new thing going around YouTube? There’s this reality show in Russia and people are being killed. They think it’s Chechen rebels.”

    Arnold said this pitch would often get Executives to call in their assistants and request to see the videos. When he revealed that this was not a real occurrence, but the pitch for “Siberia” they were already vested in the project. The end of that pitch was this: “We’re going to do for TV what ‘The Blair Witch Project’ did for film.”

    One student asked, “There’s a long established relationship with the world of ‘Oz’ for most of your audience. How did you create something new and not damage the source material?”

    matthew arnold nyfa

    “I think that’s the big challenge. To be honest, I didn’t have this thought when I first sat down to write it. I was just excited to write. But when we got into production, I realized there was a huge responsibility on me. People have a certain feeling about the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ They have childhood memories and beliefs about the story. It really irks me when someone takes the source material and go left, keeping only the names. What’s the point of that?

    So, I wanted to dig into the source material more and kind of translate it. If you read those books they are very vague. You have to infer that this would be a problem and hence there would be a conflict. That’s where you get the complexity without necessarily tampering with the source material.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Arnold for taking the time to speak with our students. You can watch “Emerald City” Fridays on NBC.

    March 13, 2017 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 1734

  • NYFA LA Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate with an Industry Pitch Fest

    Graduating MFA and BFA New York Film Academy Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held at the penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel up on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    pitch fest

    The event was live-Snapchatted by May 14 BFA screenwriting student Kyle Del Fierro. NYFA can be followed on SnapChat at NYFilmAcademy.

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

    These writing students spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting classes working with Business of Screenwriting Instructors David O’Leary and Dirk Blackman, in conjunction with Faculty Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and Associate Chair Adam Finer, preparing and fine-tuning their pitches.

    They shined on this pinnacle evening, leaving with new professional contacts and a wave of interest in the scripts they’d worked so hard on all year.

    la pitch fest

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, this group of bright students brought their A-game, as they pitched agents, managers, studio and production company execs in a relaxed, round-table environment.

    Organized and hosted by David O’Leary, the event featured representatives from various Hollywood companies, including —

    AAO Entertainment, ArieScope Productions, Awesomeness TV, Blumhouse, Canny Lads Productions, Closed on Mondays, Chockstone Pictures, Dino De Laurentiis, Elevate Entertainment, Good Fear Film + Management, Imagination 9, International Film Trust, Madhouse Entertainment, Magnet Management, Management 360, No Bull Script, Original Film, Quadrant Pictures, The Rothman Brecher Agency, Safehouse Pictures, Silver Pictures, STX Entertainment, This is Just a Test Productions, Triple Threat Pictures, and Zucker Productions.

    pitch fest nyfa la

    NYFA wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA and BFA graduates!

    February 2, 2017 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1161

  • NYFA Grad’s Debut Feature “El Camino” Now Available on Amazon and DVD

    “Being able to attend the program on the historic Universal Studios backlot was a dream come true,” said New York Film Academy Los Angeles 1-Year Filmmaking alumnus Sean Bauer. “I was very young at the time and had no idea of the long journey ahead. I learned a lot of skill sets in that year program, but the biggest takeaway was learning about the power of editing, frame by frame. NYFA taught me to be a great editor and, for the many years after, I was a freelance editor in LA on a wide range of projects.
    sean bauer

    After relocating back to San Diego, Bauer decided to buckle down and get serious about creating his feature film debut. “Screenwriting and directing have always been just as important to me and when Elizabeth Ann Guevara approached me about adapting her true story novel (“Separated by Dreams”) it seemed like the perfect fit,” said Bauer. From there, Guevara and Bauer formed an LLC., and sold a small group of investors on their story. In 2011, they shot the film on a small budget with a group of hardworking cast and crew. Because of the lack of funds, post production on the film was delayed for several years.

    “With my strong editing background, I was able to reshape the film (that we originally set out to make) into a much more compelling piece of cinema. I wore so many hats on this project: writer, director, editor, camera op, stunt double, colorist, the list goes on. There were so many times that we could have permanently shelved this project but pure passion (and my drive to be the best filmmaker I can be) is what got me through the uphill battles.”

    EL CAMINO – OFFICIAL TRAILER from Sean Bauer Films on Vimeo.
    The film, “El Camino” is a character drama about a recovering meth addict whose path to redemption is derailed by a drug fueled past that comes back to haunt him. The existential film that weaves between the past and present, focusing on this inner struggle between these two versions of this character, where the protagonist is also his own antagonist. “It’s an experimentally crafted indie feature with a strong vintage vibe to it, that was inspired by true events and that we made on a micro budget with lots of passion by a dedicated cast and crew,” Bauer said. “It’s a project that I’ve spent the better part of a decade getting made, a movie that taught me how to be a much more creative and tactile filmmaker. I’m incredibly proud of it.

    Bauer has always gravitated toward films about underdogs and stories of redemption. “‘Rocky (‘76)’ definitely came to mind when I was brainstorming how I’d handle the source material. Craig Brewer’s ‘Hustle & Flow’ came out around the time I had started the writing process and that was influential in ways. Re-reading the book and breaking it all down, it was clear to me, at the time, that I had to take a different approach. I had to make it my own, so it spoke to my sensibilities. So I focused the entire film on the first quarter of the book, cherry picked elements from that section and added in some much needed conflict that would make it cinematically compelling. Taking the character of Miguel, a character written from the point of view of a hazy dream and grounding him in the real world as flesh and blood, it allowed the novel and the film to speak on their own terms while at the same time being tied together, thematically. It really is a one-of-a-kind adaptation.

    el camino

    Bauer is now in the process of writing a few different screenplays, including a follow up to “El Camino.” Bauer says it’s a theoretical film that will explore the concept of alternate realities, told in a similar fashion to how “El Camino” shifts between past and present.

    “It’s also a film rooted around the creation of music and a film that will showcase the rarest of vinyl record collecting, which is a personal hobby of mine,” Bauer added. “It will share some thematic similarities to ‘El Camino,’ but where ‘El Camino’ has this run ’n gun documentary aesthetic to it, this follow up film will flow in a smoother direction.”

    “El Camino” is now available on VOD through Amazon Prime as well as on DVD. Go to ElCaminoMovie.com for more info.

    December 14, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1949

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

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

    Moscow Screenwriting Workshop, an Inside Look:

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

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

    paul brown

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

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

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

    paul brown

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

    Producing Workshop Highlights:

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

    russia workshop

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

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

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

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

    russian workshop

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

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

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

    November 10, 2016 • Community Highlights, Road Show • Views: 1548

  • NYFA Screenwriting Students Attend Nickelodeon Writers Event

    New York Film Academy Screenwriting students were invited to Nickelodeon headquarters in Manhattan to attend an entertaining and educational event with Nickelodeon show creators, executive producers and screenwriters. While nobody was slimed or got to meet SpongeBob Squarepants, students were able to meet with and learn from the writers behind-the-scenes of their favorite childhood shows. They were even given a peek into the writers’ room, which is the dream office of many aspiring screenwriters.

    nickelodeon

    The students in attendance were Oluf Marshall, Heather Gil, Christopher Garro, Jianda Song, Merrill Watzman, and Thomas Cersley.

    “This made me long for a writers’ room,” said screenwriting student, Thomas Cersley. “The collaboration that you get — the white board, hiring your best friends to make jokes all day — all of these guys are living out their dream. It’s certainly one way to motivate yourself.”

    “I thought it was great to see how they get into their mind frame,” added screenwriting student, Christopher Garro.

    nickelodeon

    For writers with completed screenplays looking to break into TV writing for kids, Nickelodeon offers an annual Writing Program that selects some of the top comedic TV spec scripts from writers of all backgrounds.

    For more information, visit their Writing Program website by clicking here.

    November 4, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1778

  • NYFA Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate with an Industry Pitch Fest

    Graduating MFA, AFA and BFA New York Film Academy Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held at the penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel up on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    screenwriting dept

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

    These writing students spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting classes working with Business of Screenwriting Instructors David O’Leary, Jerry Shandy, and Dirk Blackman, in conjunction with Faculty Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and Associate Chair Adam Finer, preparing and fine-tuning their pitches.

    nyfa screenwriting

    They shined on this pinnacle evening, leaving with new professional contacts and a wave of interest in the scripts they’d worked so hard on all year.Considered by the school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, this group of bright students brought their A-game, as they pitched agents, managers and production company representatives in a relaxed, round-table environment. Organized and hosted by David O’Leary, the event featured representatives from various Hollywood companies, including literary agencies, management companies, and TV and Film production companies.

    Attendees included: Blumhouse, Closed on Mondays, Elevate Entertainment, Good Fear Film + Management, ICM, Imagine Entertainment, International Film Trust, Mad Chance, Madhouse Entertainment, Magnet Management, Management 360, Marc Platt Productions, Moresco Productions, Nightshade Entertainment, Original Film, Quadrant Pictures, RatPac Entertainment, Triple Threat Pictures, and Walden Media.

    NYFA wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA, BFA and AFA graduates!

    September 20, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1831

  • Screenwriting Instructor’s “Bookburners” Novel to be Released in Print

    The New York Film Academy is excited to share that the popular series, “Bookburners,” is coming to print through SAGA Press. “Bookburners” is a collaborative novel featuring the talents of Screenwriting Instructor Margaret Dunlap, Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery. Previously released in 16 online installments by Serial Box,”Bookburners” is a critically acclaimed urban fantasy about a secret team of agents that hunts down dangerous books containing deadly magic.

    bookburners

    The savvy pitch is Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in a fast-paced, kickass character driven novel chock-full of magic, mystery, and mayhem, written collaboratively by a team of some of the best writers working in fantasy.

    The cover was designed by artist Marko Manev and designer Michael McCartney.

    “I’m very excited that ‘Bookburners’ is coming to print,” said Dunlap. “We have a great team of writers, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity to take the skills that I learned as a screenwriter and apply them to a new medium.”

    The print version of “Bookburners” will be available on January 10, 2017 from SAGA Press!

    August 24, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1854

  • The Multi-Talented Paul J. Salamoff Visits NYFA’s Business of Screenwriting Class

    Paul J. SalamoffThis past week, multi-hyphenate entertainment professional Paul J. Salamoff joined our Business of Screenwriting class to explain how this kid from Natick, Massachusetts went on to work on more than 50 films, TV shows, video games, comic books, and commercials, wearing practically every creative hat imaginable — writer, producer, director, executive, and yes — make-up artist.

    Salamoff originally began his career as a Special FX/Make-Up Artist, working for years on such iconic films as “Critters 3-4,” “Ed Wood,” “Escape from LA,” “Batman & Robin,” “Doctor Dolittle,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Dogma,” and “Me Myself and Irene.”

    But, Salamoff was also bitten by the writer bug, and before long his career as a TV and film writer took off as well, with credits including “The Dead Hate the Living” (co-written with Dave Parker), “The St. Francisville Experiment” and “Alien Seige” for the SyFy channel. He was also recently named one of The Tracking Board’s Top 100 Up & Coming Screenwriters and has developed projects with Blumhouse Prod., Ritchie/Wigram Prod., Mosaic Media Group, Hollywood Gang, Silver Pictures, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Vertigo, Unstoppable Entertainment (UK) and Eclectic Pictures.

    Salamoff is also author of the novel “The Silent Planet” and two non-fiction books: “On the Set: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette” (which is in its 3rd Edition), and “The Complete DVD Book.” His short stories have been included in acclaimed anthologies including “Midian Unmade: Tales From Clive Barker’s Nightbreed,” and he is a two-time Bram Stoker Award Nominee.

    As a comic creator, Salamoff is the writer of a number of comic book series including “Vincent Price Presents Black Scorpion” and the critically acclaimed “Logan’s Run:Last Day,” “Logan’s Run: Aftermath,” “Logan’s Run: Rebirth,” written with William F. Nolan. He is also the creator of the original graphic novel “Discord” and its prequel “Tales of Discord.”

    In 2005 Salamoff became Vice President of Production for David Lancaster Productions working on Wes Craven’s “The Breed” and “Hollow Man 2.” After a successful merge with Bold Films, he became their Vice President of Production and worked on such films as “Legion,” “Bobby,” and Starship Troopers: Marauders.”

    Having been involved with The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films for over twelve years; he produced the 22nd, 23rd, 33rd, 34th and 35th Saturn Awards. Salamoff has also produced Video Game TV/Web Development Diaries and Trailers working on such high-profile projects as “Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur,” “The Adventures of Tintin, Bulletstorm,” Mass Effect 2,” “Gears of War 2,” and “Dead Space.”

    Salamoff answered a diverse range of questions from students ranging from how one gets into the comic book and video game writing arenas, to his process when he writes his screenplays (he sees the whole movie in his head before he begins, and bangs out the first draft in a mere 4-5 days!), to what it was like working on some of the more racy puppeteering and animatronics scenes for some of the most famous Farrelly Bros. movies.

    A treasure trove of knowledge, as is evidenced by his many successes, the students thoroughly enjoyed his warm energy, breadth of Hollywood experiences, and hilarious anecdotal stories.

    Next up for Salamoff, (amongst other things – no surprise), he is working steadily on his original horror screenplay “Beyond Repair,” currently being produced by Closed on Mondays Ent. (“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”) and is directing a Sci-Fi/horror drama (which he co-wrote with Actor/Producer/Director Noel Clarke) for the UK’s Unstoppable Ent.

    August 11, 2016 • 3D Animation, Game Design, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 2369

  • Screenwriting Instructor Dan Kay Pens “I.T.” with Pierce Brosnan

    Brosnon IT

    RLJ Entertainment

    New York Film Academy Screenwriting Instructor Daniel Kay, writer of the film Pay the Ghost with Nicholas Cage, was recently mentioned in Deadline and Hollywood Reporter for his upcoming film, I.T., starring Pierce Brosnan.

    The project has been acquired by RLJ Entertainment for North American distribution rights. The thriller from Voltage Pictures, directed by Good Day To Die Hard director John Moore, and co-written by William Wisher, Jr. (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) was produced by David T. Friendly, Beau St. Clair, Nicolas Chartier and Craig J. Flores.

    “I couldn’t be more excited for the release of the film,” says Kay. “I was very pleased with how it turned out and I think audiences will respond to it.”

    I.T. is scheduled for a September 2016 theatrical and on-demand release.

    August 2, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1633

  • Producer Chris Armogida Visits with David O’Leary’s Business of Screenwriting Class

    Chris ArmogidaThis past week, film producer Chris Armogida visited with David O’Leary’s Business of Screenwriting Class to regale his story of how he went from a development intern to a film producer.
     
    Armogida began his career with development stints at Village Roadshow and Rogue Pictures (the then genre division of Universal). He next became a development executive for film director Bryan Bertino’s production company Unbroken Pictures, where he worked on developing countless projects, many which were set up at studios, including the project Grim Night which sold, amidst multiple bids, to Universal.
     
    Also while at Unbroken, Armogida had the chance to work on-set as a producer on Mockingbird (a Universal Pictures film, and Blumhouse Pictures and Marc Platt co-production) and the psychological horror feature February aka The Blackcoat’s Daughter (which A24 is releasing this coming September).
     
    Armogida answered student questions about producing and what a producer does, the advantages and disadvantages of independent filmmaking, working in the industry, how to go about getting a job after graduating, and what he looks for in a new writers and projects. A generous resource, who’s visited the New York Film Academy before, his advice to these students was invaluable.
     
    Armogida now runs his own production company Nightshade Entertainment, with multiple projects in development, including We Summon the Darkness written by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex) and The Importance of Blood, which he’s co-producing with Circle of Confusion.

    August 1, 2016 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1276