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  • 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: 1052

  • 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: 1626

  • WGA Announces This Year’s Winners

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    wga winners

    The Writer’s Guild of America—Hollywood’s most prominent union for screenwriters—announced the winners of their annual award ceremony this weekend, in one of the final award shows of the year before the Oscars wrap up the season. The night puts the spotlight solely on writers, with nominees and awards chosen by other writers, and could be a hint to what expect for next week’s Academy Award winners in Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.

    The awards cover categories from film and television, as well as documentary, radio and even video games, though the winners can only be guild members. Here is a complete list of the winners:

    Film

    • Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness; Fox Searchlight
    • Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game, Written by Graham Moore; Based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
    • Documentary Screenplay: The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, Written by Brian Knappenberger; FilmBuff

    TV & New Media

    • Drama Series: True Detective, Written by Nic Pizzolatto; HBO
    • Comedy Series: Louie, Written by Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K.; FX
    • New Series: True Detective, Written by Nic Pizzolatto; HBO
    • Episodic Drama: “The Last Call” (The Good Wife), Written by Robert King & Michelle King; CBS
    • Episodic Comedy: “So Did the Fat Lady” (Louie), Written by Louis C.K.; FX
    • Long Form Original: Deliverance Creek, Written by Melissa Carter; Lifetime
    • Long Form Adapted: Olive Kitteridge, Teleplay by Jane Anderson, Based on the novel by Elizabeth Strout; HBO
    • Short Form New Media—Original: “Episode 113: Rachel” (High Maintenance), Written by Katja Blichfeld & Ben Sinclair
    • Animation: “Brick Like Me” (The Simpsons), Written by Brian Kelley; Fox
    • Comedy/Variety (Including Talk)—Series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Writers: Kevin Avery, Tim Carvell, Dan Gurewitch, Geoff Haggerty, Jeff Maurer, John Oliver, Scott Sherman, Will Tracy, Jill Twiss, Juli Weiner; HBO
    • Comedy/Variety—Music, Awards, Tributes—Specials: 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, Written by Barry Adelman; Special Material by Alex Baze, Dave Boone, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Jon Macks, Sam Means, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Mike Shoemaker; NBC
    • Quiz And Audience Participation: Hollywood Game Night, Head Writer: Grant Taylor; Writers: Alex Chauvin, Ann Slichter; NBC
    • Daytime Drama: General Hospital, Written by Ron Carlivati, Anna Theresa Cascio, Suzanne Flynn, Kate Hall, Elizabeth Korte, Daniel James O’Connor, Elizabeth Page, Katherine Schock, Scott Sickles, Chris Van Etten; ABC
    • Children’s Script—Episodic And Specials: “Haunted Heartthrob” (Haunted Hathaways), Written by Bob Smiley; Nickelodeon
    • Documentary Script—Current Events: “United States of Secrets: The Program (Part One)” (Frontline); PBS; Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS
    • Documentary Script—Other Than Current Events: “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS
    • TV News Script—Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, Or Breaking Report: “Nelson Mandela: A Man Who Changed the World” (World News with Diane Sawyer), Written by Dave Bloch, Lisa Ferri, Diane Sawyer; ABC News
    • TV News Script—Analysis, Feature, Or Commentary: “Nowhere to Go” (60 Minutes), Written by Oriana Zill de Granados, Scott Pelley, Michael Rey; CBS

    Radio Winners

    • Radio Documentary: “Three Shots Rang Out: The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later,” Written by Darren Reynolds; ABC News Radio
    • Radio News Script—Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, Or Breaking Report: “World News This Week,” Written by Andrew Evans; ABC News Radio
    • Radio News Script—Analysis Feature, Or Commentary: “Civil Rights at 50,” Written by Jane Tillman Irving; WCBS Radio
    • Promotional Writing Winner
    • On-Air Promotion (Television, New Media, Or Radio): “How I Met Your Mother,” Written by Dan Greenberger; CBS
    • Video Game Winner
    • Outstanding Achievement In Video Game Writing: The Last of Us: Left Behind, Written by Neil Druckmann; Sony Computer Entertainment

    Hope to win a WGA award one day? Check out our screenwriting school programs here.

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    February 17, 2015 • Entertainment News, Screenwriting • Views: 3868

  • Screenwriter Ian Shorr Joins Business of Screenwriting Class

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    Ian ShorrOn November 18th, screenwriter Ian Shorr dropped by our Business of Screenwriting class to explain how he went from literally representing himself to becoming one of the most sought after rising screenwriters in town.

    “My career really had two beginnings,” Shorr explained. The first came while Ian was still living in his home state of Utah, desperately trying to find a way to break into Hollywood without any contacts. Shorr didn’t have an agent or manager, but he knew that he needed one. So, he decided to represent himself… No, really.

    Shorr created a fake agency persona, David Lortz, top brass at the fake agency he created, The Sundance Literary Agency. “Being from Utah I knew the Sundance Film Festival was a big deal, so I figured any association with that was probably a good thing.” The surprising thing about Shorr’s bold tactic was it actually worked — maybe too well.

    “I bought myself a Hollywood Creative Directory and would have David call up and speak to development executives about an exciting new screenwriter whom he wanted to make them aware of – um, me.” Executives would read and liked the writing, which was an early good sign, and some even assumed the agency David Lortz ran was associated with the Sundance Film Festival. Shorr booked meetings (that he set for himself) and was starting to get some real exposure. “The irony was, people really liked David Lortz, I think even more than Ian Shorr,” Shorr joked. Eventually, however, people got wind of what he was up to, and after a cease and desist letter from the Sundance Film Festival’s lawyers, Shorr fired/retired Mr. David Lortz.

    Ian’s second career start came soon after when he packed it up in 2003 and left Utah and moved to Los Angeles, attending USC’s Film School. Meeting his manager (Langley Perrer of Mosaic) at a Pitch Fest in 2007, he sold his senior thesis project EXEMPT to Overture Films – about a troubled teen who falls in with a group of “diplobrats”: foreign teenagers with diplomatic immunity from the law.

    Since then, Shorr has been on a tear – working steadily and continuously as a writer. He sold his spec script Substitution, a teen thriller re-imagining of Strangers on a Train to Alcon Entertainment. In 2008, his low-budget horror movie Splinter was produced and released by Magnolia Films. He set up his spec sci-fi thriller Cristo (a sci-fi reimagining of the Count of Monte Cristo) at Warner Bros. in 2011. In 2013, he sold his sci-fi spec Capsule to Twentieth Century Fox and just had his second feature produced Marble Hornets: The Operator,a found-footage horror movie based off the popular web series Marble Hornets.

    On his visit, Shorr answered a variety of questions for NYFA’s MFA Screenwriting students with his eloquent matter-of-fact humor, drawing from his own insights and breakthroughs in his career thus far. “No matter what you’ll get notes,” Shorr explained, “notes from everyone — your reps, your producers, studio execs, friends, your dog, and you really have two options: see them as a blessing or see them as a fight.” Shorr went on to explain that the best thing is “to see the note behind the note. It’s their job to point out the problems, but it’s your job to find the solution.”

    Shorr is also a big proponent for aspiring writers to NOT get jobs in the film business. “In my experience, it’s far better to let your film school friends do that, and for you to get a job that allows you the most time to write.” Shorr explained. “And guard that writing time like it’s treasure, because frankly, it is.” Shorr explained that while he doesn’t write every single day, he’s constantly thinking about the project he’s working on even when he’s not. “I probably write 5-6 days a week on average,” Shorr said.

    Shorr also explained that writers shouldn’t chase trends but should write to market, which can seem a bit of a paradox, until you unravel it. “Ideas, concepts are entirely execution dependent. You want that idea to be smart, interesting and commercial for the market, but most importantly, it has to be well written and original.” Shorr explained that reps and producers will want to put you in a certain “genre sandbox” and so it’s important early on to write in a sandbox that you really want to play in.

    Television writing was something Shorr definitely encouraged and something he himself is getting into. “Look, only roughly 1,600 writers in any given year make any money as a feature screenwriter —which his pretty damn bleak, but in television, the numbers are at least four or five times that. Neither is easy to break into, both are highly competitive, so why limit yourself to one arena?”

    In fact, Shorr has been branching out into other media arenas as well, including being recently hired to adapt one of his projects into an audio drama for Audible.com, as the company has recently announced that it will move into the original content creation space. “It’s all tell and no show in audio dramas,” Shorr explained, “not something us screenwriters are classically used to, but it’s been a great ride of figuring out how to use voiceover, dialogue and sound effects in creative ways to your advantage.”

    Closing out, Shorr offered some truly intelligent advice that all writers would be wise to take with them as they move forward in their careers. “You have to remember that what producers and studios are buying from writers is their unique point of view, their voice. Therefore, everything you write needs to be something that feels like it could only be written by that one distinct person – you. The story, the dialogue, the description, every line of that script must come from you, and you alone. Be the person for whom others can read and hear their voice on each page undeniably. Be that guy, and I promise you good things will happen for you…”

    Shorr is repped by UTA and Mosaic and is currently hard at work on a variety of projects he has in development, including an upcoming mind-bending sci-fi thriller.

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    December 3, 2014 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 5917