storytelling
Posts

  • NYFA Hosts SAIS Women’s Alumni Travel & Storytelling Panel

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    cyndi freeman

    Cyndi Freeman

    The New York Film Academy hosted a unique and riveting Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Women’s Alumni (SWAN) event at its New York campus at Battery Park last week. The “Travel and Storytelling” event featured a panel of six SAIS Alumni.

    “We are so thrilled and honored to collaborate with SAIS Women’s Alumni Network of Johns Hopkins University,” said NYFA’s Senior Executive Vice President, David Klein. “SWAN’s focus on international relations and humanitarian efforts across the globe so closely align with our mission.”

    This panel was the first in a two-part series on a topic that is close to many SAISers — how travel has impacted careers — as well as the art of storytelling.

    The featured panelists were:

    We have really fantastic relationship that we built with NYFA, and hope to continue to build in the future,” said SAIS alumna Sarah McGrath, who provided the opening remarks for the evening.

    cyndi freeman

    Cyndi Freeman, a two-time NY Fringe Festival award-winning solo performer and storyteller with 20 years of experience, was the facilitator for the evening. Freeman’s shows have been presented in Boston, Amsterdam, Ireland, The UK and NYC. Some other credits of hers include “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, “Campus Comedy” on HBO, and “Compromising Situations” on Showtime.

    “I’m in love with storytelling,” said Freeman. I believe it’s in how you choose to tell the story that shows who you are.” 

    Beginning with Karen Seiger, SAIS alumni panelists shared their stories about how the ability to travel — as well as their personal travel experiences — has had an effect on their professional decisions and career paths.

    Attendees of NYFA students and SAIS alumni also had the opportunity to respond to the panelists’ short, exciting, effective stories, as well as share their own with the audience.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 25, 2017 • Community Highlights • Views: 3527

  • Creative Exec at Unbroken Pictures Visits MFA Business of Screenwriting Class

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    Chris Armogida

    Chris Armogida

    Unbroken Pictures’ Creative Executive, Chris Armogida swung by New York Film Academy‘s Business of Screenwriting II class on July 15th to discuss career advice and strategies for up-and-coming writers looking to break into the entertainment business.

    While regaling his early days working as a film projectionist, Chris reminded the students to, “Watch everything you can. It will really help you know what works and what doesn’t and why a vast cinema library will help expose you to different types of storytelling.”

    Chris also spoke about ways to stand out in an internship at a production company. “An internship is so what you make of it,” Chris said. “Do whatever is asked of you–big or small–with enthusiasm and a desire to learn.” Incidentally, Chris’ career was launched after he was hired off being an intern to working a development and production desk at Village Roadshow Pictures.

    Chris also spoke proudly of working at Rogue Pictures. “I love horror movies, so it was a perfect place for me to learn the ins and outs of working at a studio.” Chris then reviewed the different divisions of a mini-major studio house.

    Chris answered student questions about independent producing versus studio deal producing and the challenges faced for all producers, as well as his process for developing new material with up and coming screenwriters. He also spoke about the new globalization of the movie marketplace and why films are often times now released abroad first before being domestically distributed.

    Chris worked for two years at Rogue Pictures (the genre division of Universal) before becoming a Creative Executive at director Bryan Bertino’s production company, Unbroken Pictures. Bryan Bertino directed the breakout horror hit The Strangers. Unbroken Pictures also recently produced the upcoming horror film Mockingbird for Universal and BlumHouse.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    July 28, 2014 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 5388

  • Pixar’s Rules for Great Storytelling

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Pixar Animation

    Thanks to department chair Eric Conner of the screenwriting program for this great tip! A story artist at Pixar Animation Studios had been tweeting a series of “story basics” which illustrates the kind of talent that exists at Pixar. Their overwhelming success is easily demonstrated by the numbers. 7 out of 12 Pixar films were nominated for Best Screenplay at the Oscars and the company won the Animated Feature Academy Award 6 times. They have 13 consecutive box-office toppers and 2 Best Picture nominations. If that’s not proof of their genius, then we don’t know what is. Steve Jobs purchased the studio in 1986 for $10 million. It was originally a hardware company with only one animator on its staff. Now it’s widely reputed to be one of the best film studios on the planet. Here’s a quote on Deadline from the producer of the latest Pixar hit Brave, which debuted at number 1 at the Box Office this weekend. They attribute their phenomenal success to the basic wisdom that story trumps all.

    It was not easy. The biggest challenges at Pixar are always the stories. We want really original stories that come from the hearts and minds of our filmmakers. We take years in crafting the story and improving it and changing it; throwing things out that aren’t working and adding things that do work. All of that  is just the jumping off point for the technology and how we are going to make this happen.

    Without further ado, here are 22 pointers from Pixar’s story artists for creating a compelling story and building a mega-successful franchise. Don’t forget to learn more about our animation curriculum and become a top-notch animator for Pixar. Click here to request more information on the program!

    1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

    2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.

    3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    June 25, 2012 • 3D Animation, Film School, Screenwriting • Views: 3978

  • The Collaborative Process of Storytelling

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Meet Peter Allen Stone, an actor and teacher at the New York Film Academy who helped create the successful play Unnatural Acts. Receiving 3 Drama Desk Nominations including “Best Play”, it played to sold out houses at Classic Stage Company in New York City and its run was extended three times due to popular demand. Based on a true story about Harvard University in the 1920’s, five academic deans set out to eradicate the homosexual population at the school. The play exposes the inquisition of students and the struggles young men faced as sexual minorities. A native of San Joaquin Valley in California, Peter Stone decided to become an actor at age four after seeing a production of Annie. At age 18, he obtained management and had a small role in a television show called Saved by the Bell: The New Class. After taking coursework at California State University in Long Beach, his professors who were also veterans on Broadway encouraged him to pursue it fully. As he says, “[They] really taught me that acting was about ‘doing’ and not just saying lines.”

    What has been your experience working with the Plastic Theatre Company? 

    Working on Unnatural Acts has been the most fulfilling time in my life. We worked on the play for a period of time with no money or guarantees. This story is one that came from the heart. We knew this story needed to be told. There were three suicides. I feel honored to be a part of it, and blessed that the ghosts of these students are finally having their stories told. Working as a collective was interesting and challenging at times. However, the group that was assembled knew that the play was bigger than any one of us. We debated, argued, and challenged each other–but always for the sake of the play. We started with the source material from Harvard. We had over 450 pages of handwritten material written by the Deans from their interrogations of the students. As a group, we went through it all and tried to connect the dots while honoring the truth. Some of the writing was barely legible and difficult to read. I felt like an archaeologist discovering a secret world.

    Continue Reading

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    June 20, 2012 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 5238

  • The Art of Impact with James Lecesne

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    James Lecesne is an Academy award winning filmmaker, teacher, and philanthropist. It’s been an exciting time for James with a Tony nomination for The Best Man and soon after that receiving the role of Dick Jensen opposite James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury. However, we especially commend James on the release of his book The Letter Q, a passion project conceived to inspire the youth of America and to raise proceeds for The Trevor Project which he had founded in 1998. We had a chance to speak with James about his inspiration for the book and his teaching at the New York Film Academy. He also shared key insights into the craft of storytelling and how the industry landscape has changed for LGBTQ artists. Don’t forget to get connected with Mr. Lecesne on Twitter and learn about his impact in the arts.

    What was the inspiration for The Letter Q? You’ve already contributed so much to LGBTQ youth, and this book seems to be a continuation of your work with the Trevor Project. 

    Two years ago Dan Savage launched the phenomenally successful It Gets Better Project as a way of spreading the word to young LGBT and Questioning young people that the Trevor Project is there for them 24/7. As the only nationwide suicide prevention and crisis intervention helpline for LGBTQ youth, our organization receives over 30,000 calls a year. Not all of them are rescue calls, but each call establishes a life-to-life connection with a young person who is asking important questions. We provide an ear to listen and the encouragement to be who you are. The idea for the The Letter Q came from Sarah Moon, my co-editor. When she was a teenager, she was lucky enough to be surrounded by adults who shared their stories and their wisdom with her – sometimes in the form of letters, and as she says, “It didn’t seem quite fair to me that I should have been the only teenager to get wonderful letters to carry around.” Soon after coming up with the idea, Sarah approached me about not only writing a letter to my younger self, but also donating a portion of the royalties from the sale of the book to the Trevor Project. Together we compiled a wish-list of authors and began to write to them, ask them, stalk them. The book seemed to fit so perfectly with my own desire around that time to provide young people with tools to help them get through their difficult years. We had been exploring ways to help young people “make it better” right now. And the minute Sarah proposed the idea for the book, I knew we were on our way.

    Has your teaching at NYFA helped inspire your work in some way? Reading the bio on your website, teaching plays a strong role in your career. What are the most important lessons you impart to your students who aspire to make it in film and theatre industries? Have students ever surprised you with their insights in the art and craft of telling stories?

    Teaching is a way to not only give back some of what I’ve learned, but also a way for me to continue learning about story. Storytelling, in any form, is hard work; it requires honesty, courage, craft and above all determination. But it can also be a mysterious and mystical experience, a means to enlarge and enlighten not only the storyteller, but the audience as well. For each of us, it happens differently, the idea comes in the form of a hunch, a worry, an inkling a fear, or sometimes as a fully formed brainstorm; but however it happens it always arises out of something that we happen to believe. We might not be able to articulate what it is exactly, but something in us knows, something in us feels for a truth that we need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    James as featured in the New Yorker.

    Stories are the blueprints of our passions told in code, the urge of something within our selves that is itching for resolve, the reliable and readable map of our beliefs. Leif Finkel, a professor of bioengineering at UPenn, once wrote: “Our cortex makes up stories about the world and softly hums them to us to keep us from getting scared at night.” I’m no professor of bioengineering, but I heartily agree. Of course, a good story does more than that. Stories hum not only for ourselves, but for our audience as well; their song transforms the muddled and often conflicted experiences of living in this troubled world into something valuable and enduring for us all; they are the means by which we can pass our wisdom along to future generations. The results are always surprising, or at least they should be.

    What are your thoughts on representation in the media regarding the struggles that independent filmmakers face as sexual minorities? How do you see the industry landscape for LGBTQ artists? Has it changed at all since you started as a young artist compared to the present day?

    When I was a teenager, the world was a very different place. I grew up without ever hearing the word homosexual spoken, I didn’t know a single gay person, there were no role models to whom I could look for encouragement or guidance. One of the great accomplishments of the LGBTQ community is this idea that we are not just here for ourselves. We have a responsibility to pass along our history and our pride to the next generation. Young people who are struggling and coming up in the world should not have to figure this out by themselves. Of course, there is still a ways to go in terms of achieving equality. Look to places like Uganda, South Africa, Russia, and Iran. Or right here at home to see what happens to certain people when they express themselves fully. But as Kate Millet, the revolutionary feminist recently pointed out —- gays and lesbians have achieved so much in a matter of mere decades, while women have been struggling for centuries to change things. To hear the President of the United States declare that the love of gays and lesbians is equal to that of their fellow (heterosexual) citizens, is certainly proof to me that the world is changing. More change is possible — and needed.  And I believe that by encouraging people to tell their stories, teaching them how to do it in the most exciting and engaging way, it will make for a better world.

    James with Daniel Radcliffe for The Trevor Project.

    To learn more about the Documentary Filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy, click here.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    June 11, 2012 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 5568