The Simpsons
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  • The Simpsons Director Mike Polcino Shares Special Master Class at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) 3D Animation & VFX and Filmmaking students packed the Riverside Theater at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for a storyboarding master class from veteran The Simpsons director, Mike Polcino.

    The Simpsons just surpassed Gunsmoke to become the longest-running scripted show in television history, and Mike Polcino has been with the Simpsons from the very beginning, directing 31 episodes in addition to episodes from the first season of Family Guy.

    Polcino started his career in animation doing all of the tedious work that goes into a massive production such as The Simpsons, such as animation timing and quality control.

    “Occasionally, we’d get the final animations back and Bart’s eyes would be looking in two different directions,” Polcino reminisced. “You’d be surprised what people miss.”

    His talent was unmistakable and, after a few short years, he moved up to become a director. Since then, Polcino has been a staple at Fox Television Animation, whose office is next door to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in Burbank, California.

    Polcino took the students through his process of breaking down an Emmy-winning script to put it on screen. Episode #593, Fland Canyon featured some of The Simpsons most cinematic sequences, such as great sweeping shots of the Grand Canyon. Polcino took the enraptured audience through a visualization process to find the key shots.

    “Part of the fun,” he said, “is coming up with shots that would be impossible without the animation.”

    He then melded the material for both the Animation and Filmmaking students by sharing his process for storyboarding The Simpsons and how it is more directing than animating. The students loved the class, asking for autographs and even taking selfies with the Homer Simpson drawing Polcino left on the whiteboard.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mike Polcino for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students.

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  • R.I.P. Sam Simon, Co-Creator of The Simpsons

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    Copyright The Hollywood Reporter

    Copyright The Hollywood Reporter

    Sam Simon, legendary TV writer and producer, has died after a long battle with cancer at the age of 59. His contributions to the television landscape cannot be overstated.

    Simon first started out in TV as a writer and storyboard artist at Filmation Studios before moving to primetime. There he worked as a writer and producer for such groundbreaking shows as Cheers, Taxi, and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. He also executive produced the infant Fox network’s The Tracey Ullman Show, a sketch show that involved intermittent animated shorts starring a yellow-skinned family named the Simpsons.

    The Simpsons proved popular enough for its own primetime half-hour spot, and so in 1989 the landmark sitcom was created by Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon. The show went on to become a ginormous part of television and pop culture and still runs today, spouting its own streaming service, fan groups, podcasts, and megatons of merchandise, earning hundreds of millions of dollars for its creators.

    Sam Simon was the showrunner for the show’s important first two seasons and was given writing credit for nine episodes, though his contributions far exceeded that. He is considered by many to have defined many of The Simpsons’ trademark tone, wit and humor. Despite leaving the show in 1993, he has been credited ever since as executive producer and the groundwork he laid for the show remains in its DNA to this day.

    Simon worked in television on a few other shows after The Simpsons, but soon devoted much of his life to charity. He supported PETA, Save The Children, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and his own Sam Simon Foundation, which provided free meals to the hungry and sponsored a traveling animal surgery clinic. Before his death, he announced he would donate his entire fortune to charity.

    Sam Simon won nine Emmys and was part of several legendary TV series. He is mourned by millions—those he touched in a personal way, whether through his charity work or his incomparable contributions to television and pop culture. He will be greatly missed.

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    March 10, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4391

  • ‘The Simpsons’ Predicted One of Science’s Greatest Discoveries

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    simpsons higgs boson

    The Simpsons has been ahead of its time since its inception, a forerunner of modern and post-modern television comedy from the moment Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie became the yellow faces of primetime. What’s surprising the Internet this week is that the Matt Groening animated series, now in its 26th season, was also ahead of its time in advanced particle physics.

    In 2012, with help from the multi-billion dollar miles-wide Large Hadron Collider, scientists finally discovered the Higgs boson, the so-called “God-particle” that defines mass for all known matter. But apparently, Homer came very very close to figuring it out on his own in 1998’s episode The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace. The screenwriter of that season nine episode was David X. Cohen, a self-proclaimed math nerd known to sneak in obscure scientific and mathematic equations into The Simpsons and his own series, Futurama. The equation on the board came from a friend of Cohen’s and turned out to be an eerily accurate prediction of the particle’s long-sought after mass.

    Since being reported in The Independent, Homer’s prophecy has gone viral, another step in The Simpsons sudden return to cultural relevance since launching its own streaming service with FXX last summer. Since then, fans have made trending topics of canon-breaking episodes, started popular podcasts reviewing each episode, and—just last month—formed theories that Homer has been in a coma since 1993. It just goes to show that the series is still as talked about as it was when it first aired in 1989—a true testament to its cultural legacy.

     

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    March 5, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3752

  • 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: 4452

  • A Standing Ovation for Jonah Hill at NYFA

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    Jonah Hill with Tova Laiter

    Jonah Hill with Tova Laiter

    Jonah Hill has come a long way from his brief comedic appearance in the The 40 Year Old Virgin, to his Oscar nomination in Moneyball. His comedic presence and timing puts him at the top of his class, and yet his transition into more dramatic roles has been something to marvel. This week, the New York Film Academy was thrilled when Mr. Hill came in to speak with students and alumni. As a testament to his comedic timing, Jonah started the evening shouting,”I’m here! I’m here already!” as Eric Conner, the Dean of Students, introduced the actor who had already been sitting in the back of the room.

    Jonah was in high spirits throughout the night, quickly acknowledging his true passion in life – making movies. He feels it’s what he’s been put on this Earth to do, and he encouraged the crowd to aggressively pursue filmmaking if they feel the same. “This business is so weird,” said Jonah. “If this isn’t the only thing you want to do in life, then leave the room and don’t do it. But if this is the only thing you want to do in life and can’t imagine doing anything else, then don’t worry about how much time it’s taking. It will happen in whatever incarnation it’s supposed to happen. But you have to just ‘make stuff’ constantly and don’t worry about ‘making it.'”

    At a young age, Jonah wanted to direct, but says he was really bad in giving directions to actors. So, he took acting classes to find out how an actor would want to be given direction. As a result, he fell in love with acting as well. He studied Meisner in school, but admits he now uses a variety of techniques that vary from film to film. He also likes to improv, as long as it’s about the character and not to be funny. Jonah recalled his improved scenes with Martin Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street. “It’s so cool that new stuff can happen, that no one knew about ever, and that makes the reactions real – because they’re hearing it for the first time.”

    In regards to the challenges he faces as an actor, Jonah said, “I think the most challenging part of being an actor comes from the days where something really bad is happening in your personal life. Let’s say some death or breakup or friendship thing – some personal thing that’s going on outside of work – and you have to show up that day and act and give your performance like none of that is happening.”

    His journey through Hollywood grew as he managed to maintain friendly working relations with so many talented artists, namely Judd Apatow, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen. “You find the people who you’re creatively in tune with.”

    Like most people, Jonah recognized how some would have assumed he, being the comedy guy, would be an odd casting choice as the second dramatic lead next to Brad Pitt in Moneyball. Typically, once you’ve successfully done one thing in Hollywood, most people will push you to do the same thing over and over. But, for Jonah, it’s important to make all kinds of movie. “I think I’m a product of two things: The Simpsons and Goodfellas.” The Simpsons encouraged his taste in comedy and Goodfellas, the other side of things.

    While admitting he was nervous talking about himself, Jonah was very appreciative of being able to speak in front of our students and his positive rapport was undeniable after closing on a standing ovation. He’s currently writing a movie that he plans on directing next year. His new movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, will be out in theaters on November 15.

    standing ovation

    podcast

     

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    August 21, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 9550

  • Congratulations NYFA Grads!

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    Congratulations to New York Film Academy’s new crop of future filmmakers! Last weekend, 54 filmmaking students graduated from the school’s Los Angeles campus. Four-time Emmy Award winner, Jay Kogen, delivered a rousing commencement speech to the grads. The producer/writer/director, best known for his work on The Simpsons, Frasier, The Tracey Ullman Show, and Malcolm in the Middle, inspired the students to chase their dreams.

    Congratulations to the AFA Filmmaking graduates: Eskil André Brattgjerd, Carlos Garcia, Mohammad Lajevardi, James Neill, and Elias Smith; and to our MFA Filmmaking graduates: Yagiz Acar, Farah Fuad Alhashim, Victor Aminger, Charles Ancelle, Kirsten Eleanor Anderson, Adrian Aquino, Annique Arredondo, Raul Asensio Molina, Eduardo Augusto, Stefani Avila, Tatiana Beller, Askar Bissembin, Nataliya Bobytska, Nicolas Brouwers, Neil Casey, Pablo Chozas Zambrana, John Chuka, Filipe Ferraz Coutinho, Min Dai, Lu Feng, Seth Fuller, Jubilee Gamaniel, Rafael Garcia, Matthew Gengel, Yifei Guo, Yang He, Shirley Hon, McKinley Johnson, Prarthana Suneel Joshi, Christian Jurgensen, Geet Kandya, Dae Kyu Lee, Nancy Lee, Rishi Mehta, Jason Mohan, Adrian Morales Ramos, Roona Mukhopadhyay, Rima Naim, Sishu Peng, Juhi Roddam, Bryan Rooney, Thomas Schade, Galo Semblantes, Anna Skrypka, Keith Thompson, Aili Wang, Robert Womack II, Zi Xiang, Wen-Hsin Yu!

     

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    February 1, 2013 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6340