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  • Q&A with NYFA Instructor and ‘Project Blue Book’ Creator David O’Leary

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    On Tuesday, January 15, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of the pilot episode of Project Blue Book, a new original series from HISTORY (formerly The History Channel) that adapts the real-life US Air Force investigations of UFOs in the 1950s. The screening was followed by a Q&A with creator and former NYFA screenwriting and producing instructor, David O’Leary, moderated by NYFA Producing instructor, Ashley Bank.

    O’Leary is a former development executive who has worked for Bellevue Productions, Valhalla Entertainment, Kopelson Entertainment, Rogue Pictures, Warner Bros., and Industry Entertainment. He is also a producer on two features set for release this year, Parallel for Bron Studios and Eli for Netflix. Additionally, O’Leary is adapting a sci-fi book series for A+E Studios.

    Project Blue Book David O'Leary

    Bank opened up the Q&A by asking about how O’Leary became a writer. He shared that he started his career as an intern at New Line Cinema and decided he was interested in development, so he moved to Los Angeles where he worked with a friend at Village Roadshow Pictures. From there, O’Leary worked his way up from the mailroom to assistant jobs and became a development executive, himself, at the age of 28. He realized, however, that his true dream was to be a screenwriter. “I pivoted and I’m a big believer in pivoting,” said O’Leary.

    O’Leary shared that even though he knew he was passionate about becoming a professional writer, that wasn’t enough. “Honestly, I had to get good at being a writer; I was not a very good writer when I made that choice.” He continued, “I think the way that you get better at being a writer is you have to keep writing, but you can’t keep writing in a vacuum; you have to keep showing your work to people and you have to keep getting feedback… you need people you trust to tell you ‘Here’s what works, here’s what doesn’t, and here’s why.’”

    O’Leary added that working as a screenwriting instructor at NYFA required him to be extra knowledgeable about professional screenwriting. “It really forced me to practice what I was preaching,” he said. O’Leary then shared that something that helped him stay positive while he worked toward becoming a successful professional screenwriter was “celebrating small victories” because trying to be successful in the entertainment industry is a long and arduous process and one needs to have stamina to make it all the way to their end goal.

    Project Blue Book David O'Leary

    O’Leary made it clear to the audience that hard work is important but sometimes luck also plays a role in success; with Project Blue Book, “It was sort of the right idea at the right time at a network that was looking to grow and move into scripted series.” The simplest way that O’Leary could sum up the show to pitch it to producers was “X-Files meets Mad Men,” which was a concept that had not really been explored before.

    One of the members of the audience inquired about navigating a narrative based on real events. “Every week we look at a real-life case… so it has that kind of ‘based on true events’ cache,” said O’Leary. “[Lead character] Hynek was a real-life guy; we ended up recruiting both [of] his sons as consultants on the project… I really want the show to be entertaining, but I also want to educate people on this phenomenon.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank former instructor David O’Leary for sharing his experiences and advice for writers as well as details about the development and production of Project Blue Book.

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    February 12, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 206

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

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailNew 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! Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • NYFA Alum, Guest Speaker, Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Win Big at 2018 Emmy Awards

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe most competitive race in this year’s Emmy Awards wasn’t in any specific category. Rather, it was a heated contest between cable giant HBO and godfather of streaming Netflix to see which media company would win the most Emmys this year. 

    Several of HBO’s wins came from its new comedy, Barry, starring Bill Hader, a NYFA workshop alum, and Henry Winkler, who both won acting Emmys. Henry Winkler was a guest speaker at our Los Angeles campus (you can also listen to his guest speaker event on the NYFA Podcast, The Backlot).

    Other members of the NYFA community involved with this year’s Emmy Awards include Emmy-nominated alum Issa Rae (Insecure) and alum Francesco Panzieri, who has worked on Emmy-nominated Westworld. Additionally, Netflix’s critical and commercial hit Stranger Things was up for several nominations. The nostalgic horror’s cast includes alum Matty Cardarople and NYFA Board Member and Master Class Lecturer Matthew Modine, and the show’s iconic opening titles were in part designed by Emmy-winner and NYFA alum Eric Demeusy.

    HBO was the Goliath in this situation — the network has won the most Emmys each year for nearly two decades running. In July, Netflix made headlines when it broke HBO’s 17-year streak of most nominations, with 112 total, to HBO’s 108.

    In the end, it came down to the final award of the night, for Best Drama Series — HBO was poised to lose to Netflix by a single Emmy and lose its record. However, Game of Thrones proved victorious, allowing HBO to tie with Netflix, and landing both at the top with 23 Emmys each. Sharing first place is still a huge victory for Netflix, which has been on an upward trend after coming in third in 2016 and second last year. This continues the cultural dominance in longform storytelling that started when COO Ted Sarandos, who spoke with New York Film Academy (NYFA) students earlier this year, shepherded Netflix into the future of original content.

    Netflix and HBO weren’t the only big winners. Amazon Studios won its first top award when its original series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won Best Comedy Series, the first time a streaming-only service has won the category with its own content. Last year, Hulu won the first Best Drama Series Emmy for The Handmaid’s Tale. Ironically, for all its nominations and awards, Netflix still hasn’t won either prize.

     

    All told, the real winners are television viewers, as Peak TV continues its cultural dominance. As HBO CEO Richard Plepler put it, “It’s a wonderful evening for us, but it’s an even better evening for the range of quality great work being recognized in the industry.” While many of the award-winners were white, this year’s nominations did represent a large number of people of color, as well as women in non-acting roles. A step, albeit small, forward for the industry. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates all the nominees and winners of the night and looks forward to another year of innovative, exciting storytelling from the industry!

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    September 18, 2018 • Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 890

  • Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos Speaks With New York Film Academy

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailLast Friday, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor to be invited to the Netflix Sunset-Bronson Studios for a preview screening of Netflix upcoming series The Innocents followed by an exclusive Q&A with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.

    Ted has led content acquisition for Netflix since 2000. Since 2013, he led the company’s transition into original streaming content with the launch of House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black, among numerous other series. Ted has been recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2013, and as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution. Netflix executive Matthew Thunell introduced the pilot. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the afternoon.

    Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Laiter opened the conversation by asking Mr. Sarandos about his unique start in the film industry, from community college for journalism, to running movie rental stores, to where he is now. “It’s a super unlikely path,” Mr. Sarandos said, “I’m always reluctant to give my path… as it wouldn’t make any sense for anyone to try to follow.”

    The conversation moved to Netflix’s first original release, the wildly successful House of Cards. Mr. Sarandos spoke fondly of working with David Fincher, saying “He’s exacting. I love, more than anything, somebody who knows what they want, knows what’s important and what isn’t. David never had a wasted conversation or a wasted argument about anything during production.” He also talked about the initial meeting. They pitched Fincher an offer he couldn’t refuse: two seasons of a TV show, with no pilot, and no notes. The only restriction was that he would have to put his name on it. “The bet was that someone who really cared about their brand would really make it great if you gave him the freedom to do that. And that’s what we did.”

    One student asked what advice he would give his younger self, just starting out in the industry. Mr. Sarandos talked about how far Netflix and the industry as a whole has come and continue to change. “I don’t know that I ever would have seen far enough ahead to say ‘You should do this, and not that.’ The main thing is, I think, is to be incredibly nimble.”

    Tova Laiter & Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Tova Laiter & Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Laiter ended the Q&A by asking what quality Ted felt led the most to his success. He answered, “Probably curiosity. It’s not necessarily what you know, it’s what you’re willing to figure out… Being humble enough to ask, and not being afraid to look dumb, is how you learn.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Sarandos for inviting us to Netflix for this amazing Q&A.

    The Innocents will be streaming starting August 24th – only on Netflix.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    July 25, 2018 • Guest Speakers • Views: 1349

  • Time’s Up and #MeToo Dominate the 2018 Golden Globes

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    Oprah

    Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globe Awards. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

    This year’s Golden Globe Awards was clearly different from years past, and not because it was the 75th anniversary ceremony. Nearly all women in attendance, and many of the men, wore all black in a sign of solidarity for the Time’s Up initiative — a response to the gender inequality and sexual harassment prevalent in both the film industry and society as a whole.

    A very public groundswell of support for the movement started after initial reports of sexual harassment came out against megaproducer Harvey Weinstein last year. Since then, more and more women and victims of sexual assault are coming forward and being heard after decades of an institutional culture that allowed sexual assault and discrimination to flourish. In addition to accusations against numerous prominent figures in the media, politics, and elsewhere, additional gender inequalities are also being placed front and center — including a sizable gender wage gap and the disproportionately small number of women represented both in Hollywood and political positions of power.

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    After #MeToo made clear just how many women are affected by these injustices, Time’s Up was started to take specific actions to work towards finally reversing this trend. Along with the call for women to wear black on the Golden Globes red carpet, Time’s Up is advocating for laws that will punish businesses tolerating harassment, working to balance gender parity in the industry, and starting a legal defense fund to support lower-income women seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

    The Red Carpet at this year's Golden Globes

    The Red Carpet at this year’s Golden Globes
    (Getty)

    Wearing black wasn’t a fashion statement. It quickly became apparent to everyone watching the televised Golden Globes on Jan. 7 that the conversation and tone of the night would be dominated by a cause too important to be sidelined, even in the height of Hollywood’s yearly awards season. Several individual moments stuck out from the night that revealed just how deeply both gender inequality and the urgency to correct it run in the entertainment industry’s most powerful circles. Some of these moments include:

    • Talk show host and this year’s emcee Seth Meyers delivered a straightforward opening monologue in support of Time’s Up and the women of Hollywood, while also acknowledging that as a straight white man, his voice wasn’t the most important in the room.
    • While live during an E! Network red carpet interview, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing pointed out that E! was also guilty of a significant wage gap between men and women.
    • When presenting the Best Director award, Natalie Portman made sure to add in the short but poignant adjective “all-male” before listing this year’s nominees. This is especially noteworthy considering Greta Gerwig — who wasn’t nominated — directed the evening’s Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) award winner, “Lady Bird.” (Gerwig was nominated for Best Screenplay, however, and the film picked up two acting nominations and a Best Actress win for Saoirse Ronan.)

     

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    • Many women invited social activists as their guests to the ceremony, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, eschewing the typical tradition of bringing a significant other or relative — which has sparked its own controversy:
    • In addition to wearing black, many of the attendees and presenters displayed Time’s Up pins in support of the movement.
    • The HBO drama “Big Little Lies” dominated the television categories with a cast of mostly women playing complex female characters with nuanced storylines — something that shouldn’t be all that rare, but sadly is.
    • Entertainment icon and living legend Oprah Winfrey was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award — the Globes’ version of a Lifetime Achievement Award — becoming the first woman of color to receive the honor. Winfrey’s acceptance speech roused the room and was a powerful moment in a night of powerful moments, sparking a flurry of trending hashtags and fan speculation about a 2020 presidential run. Winfrey was clearly aware of her platform and influence and focused many of her words on speaking truth to power, the vital importance of a free press, and the significant role diverse role models play for children growing up in a world dominated by faces that do not resemble their own. As an example, she used her own personal experience seeing Sidney Poitier win the Academy Award for “Lillies of the Field.”

     

    These are just some specific instances of a much broader mood and drive dominating the culture right now. As an institution that prepares students for careers in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the New York Film Academy is especially receptive to Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement. Many of the Golden Globes viewers — and even some nominees, like Issa Rae — were students, alumni, and faculty members.

    In 2013, the New York Film Academy researched gender inequality in the film industry and presented its data with an infographic that plainly showed just how serious the problem is. In the intervening years since that infographic was first published, gender inequality has not improved in the film industry. In 2017, Forbes released their annual list of highest-paid actors and actresses. The top 14 were all men, with Emma Stone ranked as the highest-paid actress at #15. A 2016 study found that women — roughly half the population — comprised only 28.7% of all speaking roles in films. Additionally, only 18% of films represented a balanced cast (half the speaking characters being female).

    The New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse body of students, encouraging artists from any number of backgrounds to collaborate and bring together their distinct, personal visions in order to create even stronger, more meaningful stories. Indeed, in 2017 more than half of NYFA’s students were women — a hopeful sign of the industry’s future.

    It goes without saying that there is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of changes that need to be made to both the entertainment industry and the contemporary culture it inhabits. As Oprah Winfrey said in her acceptance speech, telling stories and speaking truth to power is one important way to help bring about these changes. The New York Film Academy encourages those who were previously afraid to use their voice to tell their stories, and to be loud as possible — the time is now.

    • "Big Little Lies" at the Golden Globes

      “Big Little Lies” at the Golden Globes (Photo by @Ramona_Rosales)

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    January 10, 2018 • Entertainment News • Views: 1471

  • TV Executive Jerry London Visits NYFA LA

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn Monday, October 9th, 2017 the New York Film Academy was proud to welcome TV Executive, Jerry London. London is best known for producing “Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Doris Day Show.” He’s directed over three hundred episodes of television, eleven miniseries, and forty TV movies throughout his lengthy career. In addition to working on “Chiefs” with Charlton Hesston and “Ellis Island” with Richard Burton, London earned an Emmy nomination for his work on the twelve-hour mini-series, “Shogun.”

    London screened a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Shogun” for students at our Los Angeles campus. The Q and A was hosted by Associate Chair of Filmmaking, David Newman. The evening’s conversation began with Mr. London’s childhood. On Saturdays, when London was five, he would accompany his uncle to work at the RKO studio lot. “I became fascinated by it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew I wanted to be in the movie business.”

    Jerry London Visits NYFA LA

    At first, London tried his hand at art design but found admission to the union difficult to obtain. “You had to be a son or daughter of someone who was already an art designer,” he explained. His uncle thought he ought to try editing. On the RKO lot, London learned to splice film on the Moviola. At nineteen, he landed his first Hollywood gig as an Apprentice Editor on “I Love Lucy.”

    After eight years on “I Love Lucy,” London moved to Fox to edit the television program, “Daniel Boon.” The producer of the show, Ed Feldman, then asked London to cut a new pilot. The pilot was “Hogan’s Heroes.” The show ran for six years and London edited every episode.

    Feldman altered the course of London’s life once again when he suggested that Jerry become a director. London was not convinced he could direct actors. “I didn’t know much about staging. I knew cameras because I used to shoot stills. I knew editing. What I didn’t know was actors or stage direction. I didn’t have the confidence.” He thought about it and began taking acting lessons. Soon he was directing plays and getting to know the ins and outs of the craft.

    After a year, he was still struggling with his confidence when it came to actors. He decided to take psychology courses at a local college. “That was the most valuable thing I ever did in regards to becoming a director. The whole course was about dealing with people, how to understand their thinking, and how to make them have confidence in your speaking.” Now, he was ready to direct. In season four of “Hogan’s Heroes,” London directed his first episode of television.

    Jerry London

    From there he directedThe Partridge Family,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “The Brady Bunch.” These multi-camera comedies were a lot of fun to film, but London aspired to challenge himself with more serious work. “Comedy is a writer’s medium,” London said, “and drama is where the director can move the camera and really set the tone for the piece.”

    He decided to take one of the comedy scripts he was hired to direct and shoot it like a drama. He convinced the Director of Photography to take a chance with the network. “At this point, I’d shot 40 episodes (of “Love: American Style”). If I don’t make another one it will be okay.” Six weeks later ABC sent him a letter. He was concerned they hated it and he would be out of a job. Instead, he was hired to direct his first drama.

     

    Now, he was bouncing around back and forth between noted dramas like “Kojak,” “The Rockford Files,” and “The Six Million Dollar Man.” “It was a great education. In those days you shot in six days. As a director, you’re a problem solver and you have to come up with an answer. By the end of those two years, I had a lot of confidence.”

    When it was time for questions one student asked, “On a scale of one to one hundred, how much of an actor’s performance is his, and how much is the director.”

    “I would say eighty percent of it is his.” London responded.

    He said that it is important to give an artist space to create. When he worked with Faye Dunaway on his film, “Ellis Island,” she took out a mirror while rehearsing marks to check up on the work of the Director of Photography. This way she could examine how she looked on camera. The Director of Photography, Jack Hildyard, who also worked on “Bridge Over the River Kwai,” was furious. No one wants to be second-guessed by someone outside of his or her expertise on set.

    London did not want to upset or embarrass Dunaway. For the first day, he decided to let it go. As he was watching the dailies he was stunned to discover that Dunaway looked twenty instead of forty. Hildyard was incredible at his job. The following day when Dunaway asked about the dailies London let her know how good she looked and politely told the Academy Award winner she did not need the mirror. Dunaway agreed and they got along famously for the rest of the shoot. “It was the smartest decision I had ever made.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. London for taking the time to speak with our students. His book, “From ‘I Love Lucy’ to ‘Shogun’ and Beyond: Tales From the Other Side of the Camera”, is now available on Amazon.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 19, 2017 • Guest Speakers • Views: 1605

  • NYFA Alum Cody Broadway Snags a Heartland Emmy

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    New York Film Academy alumnus Cody Broadway has been quite productive since taking the One Year Filmmaking program at our New York City campus. In addition to directing the dramatic short film “She Rides Bulls,” Broadway has also put in multiple years at FOX television affiliates in both San Angelo and Abilene, Texas.

    Since then, he’s worked at KUSA 9NEWS, a major NBC station based in Denver, Colorado. It’s there that Broadway worked as Visual Producer for their heartbreaking yet important continuing coverage of the city’s drug plight. That effort paid off when KUSA’s “Mile High Heroin: Denver’s Struggle with Addiction” earned the team a Heartland Emmy Award.

    The Heartland Emmys Awards are an official chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, who famously distribute the Daytime Emmys and Sports Emmys, among several other prestigious ceremonies.

    A significant portion of the midwest, including large regions in Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado, is covered by the Heartland Emmys, and the competition each year to win one of the golden statues is always tough.

    After his win, Broadway excitedly remarked “None of this would have been possible without NYFA!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates the KUSA team and Visual Producer Cody Broadway on their award and applaud their invaluable reporting on Denver’s tragic addiction crisis.

    2018 Update: Cody Broadway won two more Heartland Emmy Awards. This year, he took home two awards for Storyteller and Photographer/Editor. Congratulations, Cody!

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    October 18, 2017 • Diversity, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1489

  • Filmmaking Students from NYFA Gold Coast Impress Audience

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe audience at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast Campus Mid Year Screening got a double dose of talent on October 13, viewing projects from both its July 2017 Advanced Filmmakers and July 2017 Diploma Filmmakers.

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    The Advanced Filmmaking students showed off their skill in producing television commercials while the Diploma Filmmaking students showcased a diverse range of non-sync short films.

    “We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight,” remarked Brian Vining, the Deputy Chair of Filmmaking at NYFA Gold Coast. He continued, “We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight. Many of the television commercials have been conceived, shot and produced to a very high standard and several were indistinguishable from industry standard productions.”

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    NYFA Gold Coast prides itself in training our students in several diverse media, in order to better prepare them for careers in the real world workforce. But, of course, storytelling is just as important, and the Diploma Filmmaking students didn’t disappoint with their artful short films.

    Trevor Hawkins, Lecturer in Directing, Editing & Filmmaking for NYFA Gold Coast, had this to say about the July 2017 group: “There are certainly some promising young storytellers and filmmakers evident in our recent screenings of the July Advanced Filmmakers and the July Diploma Filmmakers.”

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    The screening was all the more successful considering it’s just the halfway point in the students’ syllabus. Hawkins added, “It’s always great to be involved in their journey as filmmakers and I certainly look forward to their future productions.”

    Congratulations to our NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking and Advanced Filmmaking students on such a triumphant night!

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year ScreeningFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 17, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1398

  • Actress Maria Conchita Alonso Screens “The Running Man” at NYFA LA

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailMaria Conchita Alonso, the Venezuelan actress with over one hundred credits to her name, brought her cult classic film “The Running Man,” co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the Los Angeles Acting for Film and Filmmaking students. Industry Q and A Director, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

    maria conchita alonso

    Conchita Alonso is both a very popular Latin singer and international actress. Her work on the screen includes “The House of the Spirits,” “Predator 2,” “Chicago Hope,” “Extreme Prejudice” and “Saints & Sinners.” Not content with just images, Conchita Alonso has also written lyrics and performed the vocal for a song in “Scarface.”

    She’s been honored with the Outstanding Actress in Made-for Television Movie or Mini-Series, the Pioneer Award at La Femme International Film Festival, Outstanding Performer of the Year at Nostros Golden Eagle Awards, and a Grammy nomination.

    Conchita Alonso walked onto the stage with her dog Tequila and the audience fawned appropriately. She had a lot of advice for the students. One particular piece that stands out is, “Don’t ever compare yourself with others. Just work on who you are!”

    maria conchita alonso nyfa

    At the beginning of her career she was told she could not sing, dance, act, and host. She should pick one and perfect it. By dividing her time she was weakening her shot. So, when she wanted to record Vamos A Bailar for “Scarface,” her agent suggested they submit her tape under a different name, so executives could hear her performance instead of seeing her name. It worked, of course, and an important lesson was learned: put your work forward, not your attitude. “Know you’re good, but don’t show it.”

    Vamos A Bailar eventually went to number one on the charts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Maria Conchita Alonso for taking the time to speak with our students. You can catch Conchita Alonso in “Off the Menu,” “He Matado a Mi Marido,” and “Kill ‘Em All” out later this year.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 7, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 4857

  • NYFA Welcomes President of Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, David Madden

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn Wednesday, November 30, David Madden, President of Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, held a Q & A for students perusing degrees in Acting, Directing, and Filmmaking. Madden has helped bring shows like “The Americans,” “The Killing,” “Burn Notice,” “The Shield,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Pitch,” and the forthcoming “Star” from Lee Daniels to televisions in living rooms around the country.

    david madden

    Hollywood Producer, NYFA Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter hosted the evening alongside NYFA Screenwriting Instructor, David O’Leary, whose script, “Blue Book,” was just purchased by the History Channel and will be produced by Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers.

    Madden’s role at Fox is multifaceted. Scripted programming, alternative entertainment and casting all fall under his jurisdiction. In the past, he worked for Paramount Pictures based Madden Company where he produced more than twenty films.

    “We have 15 hours of primetime programming every week, 52 weeks a year. Pretty much everything is original whether it’s scripted or reality,” Madden explained. “Every single program that goes on the air in prime time, I oversee. I read every script of the scripted programs. I watch every episode of the reality shows. I watch every cut of every show. I’m responsible for the development and I’m responsible for the casting. My job is simply to make the shows.”

    david madden

    When asked about the current state of network television in the age of streaming and premium cable, Madden didn’t feel that broadcast was facing any trouble. While, yes, they compete with these new service providers, economically, broadcast has to reach a wide audience in the millions. Madden doesn’t feel that means sacrificing quality. “Being populist and being good are not mutually exclusive,” he said. Also, historically, Fox has always been more subversive and positioned in between traditional networks and cable.

    One student asked, “With the number of TV shows being produced now do you believe the quality of actor being hired is less, in order to fill roles?”

    “I sure hope not,” Madden said. With most shows green-lit during pilot season in January, landing the right actor for the right role during this time can be very challenging. The upside is that new actors are afforded more opportunities than ever (as well as writers). “We are always looking for material and new talent, but they have to, legally, come to us via the right channels.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Madden for taking the time to speak with our students.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 5, 2016 • Guest Speakers • Views: 3153