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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Oscar-Winning Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski to New York City Campus

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography students recently had the chance to meet and speak with one of the industry’s most renowned and well-known cinematographers, Janusz Kaminski. Kaminski previously spoke with NYFA students at our Burbank-based campus.

    Kaminski originally hails from Poland and only had a handful of cinematography credits to his name when Steven Spielberg chose him to shoot his passion project, Schindler’s List. Kaminski’s beautiful, mostly black-and-white photography earned him his first Academy Award. To date, he has been nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar six times, winning again for Saving Private Ryan.

    Janusz Kaminski

    Since Schindler’s List, Kaminski has shot many of Spielberg’s films, including Amistad, Minority Report, Catch Me if You Can, Munich,  and Ready Player One, and is currently working on the upcoming remake of West Side Story. Other notable credits include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Jerry Maguire.

    Last month, Kaminski spoke at length with NYFA Cinematography students at our New York campus in an intimate setting. He began by sitting down with little fanfare, just inches from the students, and telling them, “I’m here for you, what would you like to talk about?” followed by several questions both technical and related to the profession. All in all, the discussion was very congenial and lasted nearly three hours. The class was extremely friendly, and lasted almost three hours.

    Kaminski stressed to the students the importance of experience and working as much as possible, even if certain projects are low budget and are not going to earn much recognition. He also shared some personal details, including that the work he is most proud of is the film Munich, a difficult film that explores complex themes. Much of what he covered included the thought process of a professional cinematographer, which remains consistent no matter how much success or accolades one acquires in their career.

    Janusz Kaminski

    Kaminski also talked to students about taking risks and working hard, especially in finding the proper visual language for each film. He also focused extensively on how important it is for students to own their images, to find a language and style that is appropriate for the film they are doing, while always remembering that working fast is absolutely fundamental as well as keeping an eye on the production aspects of the job.

    “The meeting with Janusz Kaminski was an incredible experience for the students and for the instructors that have been able to participate,” says Piero Basso, NYFA-NY Chair of Cinematography.

    Basso adds, “Apart from the obvious knowledge and life experiences he has shared with us, the key element of his visit was that even a superstar DP like him, on the verge of shooting again with Steven Spielberg, hasn’t lost his connection to real life and to feelings that are common to every DP before starting a new job.

    “To hear him explaining that less than a week away from starting his new movie (nothing less than the remake of West Side Story) he is still thinking on how to approach it—and that he has a dose of healthy tension and worries about how it will turn out—is refreshing in a world where you are always wondering if your own choices are right, and often you don’t know it until later into the movie when turning back is virtually impossible.”

    Janusz Kaminski
    Since he was speaking with NYFA’s highly-trained cinematography students, he wasn’t afraid to get into the weeds and talk about very technical aspects of his artistic choices. Kaminski brought up the importance of filtration and the necessity of modifying the images while creating them to match the look and tone the filmmakers are exploring for their movie.

    Kaminski also discussed how sometimes lighting is done very simply and almost without any intervention, like in several sections of Saving Private Ryan, but how in other situations it becomes very important to use artificial light even in daytime exteriors—for example in War Horse, which was often lit in daytime to be able to save the beauty of the light in the background of the characters.

    New York Film Academy thanks legendary and Oscar-winning director of photography Janusz Kaminski for taking the time to share his expertise and experiences with our NYFA Cinematography students!

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    July 9, 2019 • Cinematography, Guest Speakers • Views: 493

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Musical Theatre Alum Ilda Mason Cast in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’

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    The production of Steven Spielberg’s high-profile Hollywood remake of West Side Story has announced the casting of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Musical Theatre Alum Ilda Mason. Mason will be showcasing her dancing skills a member of the Sharks in the highly-anticipated film from Amblin Entertainment.

    Mason has previously performed in the Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet as well as a production of Legally Blonde in China, and has been an ensemble member in the national tour of Cinderella. Additionally, she was a professional dancer for two seasons on Panama’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Ilda Mason

    The Tony Award-winning musical was first adapted into a film in 1961 and went on to win ten Academy Awards. This newest adaptation is written by Tony Kushner and stars Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Maddie Ziegler, Corey Stoll, and original West Side Story star Rita Moreno. Casting announcements are still being rolled out as the film gears for production in New York later this year.

    Ilda Mason graduated from the 2-year program at the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA) in 2015. Since then, Mason has performed in two productions of West Side Story—one at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, and the second one at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ.

    “Ilda was an engaged, focused student and an integral member of the NYFA Musical Theatre community,” says Kristy Cates, Creative Director of PCMT at NYFA. “We are all so proud of her many successes and look forward to watching her star continue to rise.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates PCMT at NYFA alum Ilda Mason on her casting in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and can’t wait to see her dance on the big screen!

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    May 1, 2019 • Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 312

  • Director Alexis Sweet Holds Guest Lecture at NYFA South Beach

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    An often overlooked but crucial element in pre-production is storyboarding. Recently, the New York Film Academy South Beach invited director Alexis Sweet to the college to speak on the importance of this very topic. Sweet provided several storyboard examples from his own films and music videos, which he has been working on since 1981.

    alexis sweet

    Director Alexis Sweet at NYFA South Beach

    Sweet has worked on feature films and TV commercials as 1st Assistant Director with filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Hugh Hudson, Joe Pytka, John Boorman, Ridley Scott, Nick Roeg, Richard Loncraine, Spike Lee, Mike Figgis, Tsui Hark and others over the years.

    From 1995 to 2003, he made a number of wildlife documentaries in Africa for national parks and projects funded by the EU.

    By 2002 he had shot over 100 TV commercials for Italy, Romania, Germany, US, England, Kenya and the Middle East.

    In 2003, upon meeting Pietro Valsecchi, he was offered to direct two seasons of “RIS Delitti imperfetti,” an Italian television series that is currently number one in Italy and France.

    Given the fact that Sweet has such a vast background in the industry, students were able to openly ask questions and get a greater insight into the job of a director.

    The New York Film Academy South Beach would like to thank director Alexis Sweet for taking time out from his duties at the Miami Independent Film Festival to come and speak with our students.

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    June 30, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 5193

  • Spielberg’s U-2 Movie Casts U2 Daughter

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    eve hewsonSt. James Place, a historical spy thriller, has quite the pedigree background behind it. Steven Spielberg will be directing a screenplay by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers. Its cast includes Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, and frequent Spielberg collaborator Tom Hanks. Also included in the cast is Eve Hewson, 23, a rising star from Ireland who also happens to be the daughter of music legend Bono.

    Hewson studied acting at the New York Film Academy in 2005 and has since found roles in music videos, thrillers and romantic comedies. She currently co-stars with Clive Owen in the Cinemax medical drama The Knick.

    Spielberg’s hotly-anticipated film takes place in 1960 and stars Hanks as real-life lawyer James Donovan. Donovan was tasked with negotiating the release of a pilot shot down in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Filming commenced last Fall in Hewson’s current hometown—Brooklyn, New York. Ironically, the plane shot down in both real life and in the movie was a U-2 spy plane, U-2 inspiring the name of Hewson’s father’s legendary rock band.

    Dream of co-starring with Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg film one day? Check out New York Film Academy’s acting school program today!

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    March 2, 2015 • Acting, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5634

  • Summer Camps at Universal Studios

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    The New York Film Academy offers summer camps for high school students and tweens at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. In one to six weeks, students have the opportunity to make films, learn to act, learn photography, write feature length screenplays, record investigative journalism pieces, and create their own animations under the umbrella of knowledgeable faculty who have worked in the industry for years.

    Campers go to the theme parks and have had major Hollywood guest speakers, including Ron Howard, Doug Liman, and Steven Spielberg. Students also visit the Hollywood Bowl, attend tapings of TV shows, movie premieres, and much more!

    Summer will be here before you know it! If you’re interested in next summer’s camps, give us a call at 1 (212) 674-4300.

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    November 13, 2013 • Academic Programs • Views: 7576

  • So You Want To Be A Producer?

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    BTS05

    You’ve seen him or her portrayed in the movies as often suave, well-groomed individuals and perhaps you have concocted your own idea of what a producer’s role is on a movie. But, what does a producer actually do? New York Film Academy’s Producing for TV & Film Program aims to break down exactly what it takes to produce a film or television series in today’s market. The program is geared toward students with little to no experience, as often is the case with up and coming producers. After all, you need to start somewhere. It is those students who are eager to control their own destiny in the world of film and television who will flourish in NYFA’s hands-on intensive Producing Program.

    From day one, students are treated as producers and this will last throughout the duration of the course. Students are encouraged to bring a piece of intellectual property, or original material, into the course to develop as their thesis project. Like the real world, the process is broken down into the various stages of production: pitch, treatment, script, talent search, budgeting, scheduling, and plans for marketing and distribution.

    In the past, NYFA has welcomed a number of well known producers to speak with students, providing valuable insight and the motivation needed to break into this exclusive industry. Past speakers have included: Steven Spielberg, Gary Marshall, Ron Howard, Al Ruddy, and many more.

    New York Film Academy degree programs in Producing are offered at all three of our domestic campuses: New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach, Miami.

    If you’d like to request information about New York Film Academy’s Producing Program, CLICK HERE

     

     

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    April 30, 2013 • Producing • Views: 5593

  • Timur Bekmambetov Talks Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, and Vampire Hunting

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    Director/producer Timur Bekmambetov, who has been called “the Russian Steven Spielberg,” recently visited students at New York Film Academy, following a screening of his film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Born in present-day Kazakhstan, Bekmambetov made his mark with Hollywood studios and U.S. audiences with Night Watch, one of the highest-grossing Russian films of all time.

    He made his Hollywood directorial debut with 2008’s Wanted, an action blockbuster starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. Of his stars, he said, “Morgan is very simple to work with, and always jokes around on set. Angelina is very different. She is very serious, very focused. She’s a genius. She’s very powerful. You have to surround yourself with actors you trust.”

    Following the success of Wanted, Timur Bekmambetov teamed up with producers Tim Burton and Jim Lemley for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. When asked how he decided to take on a film based on a vampire/action/historical/period piece novel, Bekmambetov said, “It’s a challenge. It’s important to fall in love with the material. You need to be brave and forget about the rules. There’s no way to [know] how the audience will respond.” The audience responded well, with the film bringing in over $114 million worldwide. Bekmambetov is currently hard at work on preproduction for Wanted 2.

    Timur is also at work on a startup related to the film, and we are proud that he chose NYFA students to work with him on developing it further.

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    December 3, 2012 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4509

  • Casting Advice From a Pro

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    Casting director Nancy Nayor recently visited students at New York Film Academy following a screening of The Grudge. She began her casting career off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club before moving to Los Angeles to become President of Feature Film Casting for Universal Studios, and working on films for Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Ron Howard, and John Hughes. “The first year was kind of a shock, to have that position at 24,” she laughed. She spent 14 years there before opening her own freelance casting company. Since then, she has cast movies including Road Trip, The Whole Nine Yards, Exorcism of Emily Rose, When a Stranger Calls, and Scream 4.

    Nayor spoke about the love of her job, saying, “It’s great because you’re around actors all the time, and you get to think like an actor, and you get to read with the actors, and you’re in the arena of filmmaking or theater, and it’s just fantastic.”

    Following a brief interview, Nayor answered questions from students, offering lots of helpful advice. “You need to have footage of yourself and you have to be able to email links,” she said. “It’s great to make your own reel. Tape your own scenes or monologues. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. I just want to see talent. If you’re constantly taping yourself, and the camera becomes your friend, then when you’re in the audition room you’re not automatically nervous. It helps you go into an audition room and be relaxed.”

    Do you have other helpful tips or advice for auditions? Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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    June 1, 2012 • Guest Speakers • Views: 4707

  • Whatever Happened to Francis Ford Coppola?

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    Francis Ford CoppolaLast week was the 40th Anniversary of The Godfather. I don’t know if you saw it but the AMC channel aired it repeatedly during the week. Watching those films again, it made me wonder…

    Whatever happened to Francis Ford Coppola?

    The Godfather was a huge influence. I mean everyone went to see it. I remember I had a friend who was ushering at the movie theater and would sneak me in. It didn’t even matter what part of the movie you came in at, you’d just watch it from there to the end. Sometimes I’d even stay to watch the beginning of the next show. We used to refer to the film as, “the Beast.” That’s how much respect we had for it. A few years later, as a film student, Scorsese became my guy (he was the filmmaker that made me want to be a filmmaker.) The Godfather was still the benchmark and with all due respect and deference to good ol’ Marty, he never made “The Beast”.

    Coppola followed up with Apocalypse Now. The stories about making that film are legendary—the enormous amounts of money, equipment, and insanity that went on in the jungles. But whether you like the film or not, you can’t help but be impressed by the enormity of the undertaking and the execution. It is unquestionably the work of a master filmmaker. And then… What? What happened? He never again fulfilled the promise of his early films. It makes me sad. What went wrong? Where did Francis Ford Coppola jump the shark?

    It started with a film called One From the Heart. You’ve probably never seen it. Few people have. It was a musical fantasy set in Vegas, and even though it pioneered some video-editing techniques, it was a disaster with audiences. Then there were The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. It seemed to us as young directors as the work of a desperate filmmaker who lost one audience and was trying everything he could to connect with a new one. Next he tried a Godfather knockoff, The Cotton Club. An epic crime drama, it even had the same sort of violent montage at the end. A pale imitation and another box office disaster. And finally, Godfather 3, the last ditch effort to recapture past glory. I don’t even have to tell you what a disappointment that film was.

    How did such a great filmmaker lose his way? Was it the disappointing loss of Zoetrope Studios? In 1969, Coppola decided to buck the studio system, which he felt had stifled his artistic vision. He created Zoetrope to fund off-beat films by first time directors. It didn’t work. Was it the pressure of paying off the huge financial debt in which he found himself? Coppola has declared bankruptcy three times. It’s not easy holding onto a personal vision while digging yourself out of a financial hole. Or was it the tragic death of his son? Personal tragedy has a way of putting ambitions of glory in perspective. In the end, perhaps it was just the unimaginable pressure of having to equal something as great as The Godfather.

    The Godfather

    It’s hard not to reflect on the somewhat tragic trajectory of his life. Early success does have its pitfalls. Compare the careers of directors like Spielberg and Scorsese. They all started out at the same time. They were part of an avant-garde group of filmmakers that were revolutionizing Hollywood. But where Spielberg and Scorsese are viable, influential, Academy Award nominated filmmakers to this day, Francis Ford Coppola has sadly vanished from the scene. I can easily imagine him filled with deep satisfaction and appreciation of what he’s accomplished. I can also imagine him with deep regret at what could’ve been. Ultimately, I’d like to think that with age comes perspective, if not wisdom, and maybe even acceptance. What do you think? Every filmmaker has to come to grips at some point with this issue of art and commerce. How have you handled it? Or how do you envision handling it? I’d like to know.

    Click here to learn more about the filmmaking program.

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    March 16, 2012 • Filmmaking • Views: 10228

  • Spielberg’s Son Gets Behind Camera at NYFA Film School

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    From BBC News – The eldest son of director Steven Spielberg has completed work on his first film, a short thriller about a couple caught up in a string of murders.

    Max Spielberg, 17, wrote, produced, directed, filmed and edited the movie, entitled Snap Shot, during a filmmaking workshop run by the New York Film Academy.

    He attended the four-week course, held at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, over the summer.

    The film focuses on a tourist couple whose camera becomes mixed up with that of a serial killer, drawing them into the investigation when their photos turn out to be of his victims.

    There are no plans for the film to be given a public screening in the near future.

    “It will be for his own personal use when he pursues other avenues in the industry,” said a spokesperson for the New York Film Academy.

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    October 3, 2002 • Acting • Views: 5035