• NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Premieres “Bullock the Bruiser” at Manhattan Film Festival


    bullock the bruiserNew York Film Academy Filmmaking alumnus Marcelo Mayen delivered an impressive thesis film that premiered at the Manhattan Film Festival at the Cinema Village in New York City. His film, “Bullock the Bruiser,” is an action-thriller with elements of comedy that surround Wilson “The Bruiser” Bullock, who gains his superhero persona after hospitalizing the most hated man in the city, Richard Tucker. However, in order for Wilson to win back the love of his ex-girlfriend, he’s going to have to prove that he’s done indulging his petty superhero identity.

    “The main theme I explore in this film is wanting a fresh start in life,” said Mayen. “Whether we’ve wanted to explore a new career, leave a toxic relationship, or move to a new city, we’ve all been at a point where we’ve wanted a clean slate. But we also know there’s always something — or someone — that tries to keep us from getting that clean slate we need in order to achieve happiness, whatever that means for us. That’s the main theme I explore, and it was inspired by my own decision to move to New York City three years ago to pursue my passion for filmmaking and telling stories.”

    Mayen admits that while Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch” certainly had an influence on his approach to Bullock, his inspiration comes from an eclectic mix of directors from other genres. “I wanted to find inspiration in films that balanced the perfect amount of comedy, action, and drama while keeping the pacing of the film entertaining and fun for the audience,” said Mayen.

    Perhaps the most challenging part of the project was the post-production phase. Being a meticulous director, Mayen says, “I never like to rush art. I am so glad to have met my wonderful post-production team, Jay Rothman, Jose Venutolo, and Nate Seymour because they shared my same passion and determination to make sure this was a film worth showing.”

    Speaking on his time at NYFA, Mayen says it was an extremely fast-paced learning environment that introduced him to many techniques including the importance of editing, sound, color-grading, lighting, cinematography, and all the elements that make up a great film.

    Bullock the Bruiser

    NYFA photo by Stephany Viera

    Mayen is currently working on two projects. One is a feature length action-comedy screenplay that he plans to pitch to studios and enter into The Blacklist. The other is a short film that will involve a Latino lead and will deal with issues of racism and the struggles of being an illegal immigrant in the era of Trump.

    “Bullock the Bruiser” will be screening next at the NewFilmmakers Festival at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City.


    April 25, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3627

  • Producing Grads Team Up for “Lilin’s Brood”


    Nothing like cuddling up with your loved one on Valentine’s Day with a psychological thriller, chiller/horror film. Come on, you know it sounds great. Now that you’re convinced, we have the perfect recommendation for you. Lilin’s Brood, created by New York Film Academy MFA Producing graduates Artii Smith and Phil Simon, has been picked up for distribution and is now available on iTunes, and will be released on Amazon next Friday, February 12th—just in time for Valentine’s Day.

    The movie is about a “New Media” news coverage team (W.H.I.S.T.L.E.) that is stranded near a beleaguered brothel in the middle of nowhere. The footage that is recovered will reveal what happens when they encounter a group of women with a terrifying secret.

    lilins brood

    “It’s personal in a sense that we both really love the horror/thriller genre and wanted to create a story that people like us would love to see,” said Smith. “Also, the characters we created were a loose combination of people we’ve known from our past experiences.”

    The NYFA grads shot the film on a small budget over an eleven day period.

    “Coming up with a strategy far in advance on how to tackle each phase of a project should be top priority,” says Smith. “We planned every single creative detail and business strategic move meticulously.”

    The filmmaking duo also suggests young filmmakers really believe in the story they are working on. It takes so much energy to create a feature, and you don’t want to be stuck doing a project you’re not passionate about.

    Before studying at NYFA’s Producing program, Smith was only interested in producing projects. He didn’t want to write and he wasn’t entirely sure about becoming a director either. But NYFA changed his attitude.

    “I think my joy for writing was discovered and ultimately nurtured at NYFA, and my love for directing really flourished as well. Working with writing professor David O’Leary, I believe, now that I look back, was an essential experience I needed in helping me develop and write engaging feature film scripts. Working with directing professor Nick Sivakumaran really helped me discover my love for directing.”

    Smith and Simon currently have a part two to Lilin’s Brood already written up and ready to shoot. They are also have several other projects in various stages of development—from treatment to full script—that vary in different genres such as Science Fiction, Drama, Comedy, Action and Historical Biopics.


    February 5, 2016 • Filmmaking, Producing, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6296

  • Hollywood Costume Designer Teaches Costume 101



    Last week New York Film Academy Los Angeles students were treated to a special lesson on “Basic Costume 101” by renowned costume designer Deborah Nadoolman-Landis followed by a discussion with her. Deborah’s distinguished career includes the classics Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Coming to America (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award), and the groundbreaking music video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. She served as a two-term president of the Costume Designer’s Guild, Local 892 and is a Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture and serves on the Executive Board of the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Foundation. The discussion following Deborah’s lecture was moderated by producer Tova Laiter.

    Costume is monumentally important in a movie. It speaks volumes about a character before the character even opens their mouth. However the irony is that it is often the least thought-out (or not thought of at all) aspect of low-budget and student filmmaking. This is a travesty, and Deborah Nadoolman-Landis has made it her life mission to educate filmmakers as to the importance of costume design in all levels of filmmaking.

    tova and nadoolman

    Tova Laiter with Deborah Nadoolman-Landis

    Deborah began the night by calling four student volunteers to the front of the room and asked each student, “Where are you from?” However, Deborah wouldn’t accept a generic answer; she insisted on being told the exact street address of the home they grew up in. Deborah then proceeded to address every article of clothing on each student from their feet to their heads. She asked them where they bought the article of clothing, how much it cost, who was with them when they bought it, and why they choose to buy and wear it, or who gave it to them if it was a gift or who lent it to them if it was borrowed. After this lengthy process, the audience had a much greater understanding of who these people were and what their motivations in wearing these particular clothes were. Deborah explained that she engaged in this dramatically long exercise to prove two very important things: 1) Every article of clothing on every character in your movie must be consistent with their story, and 2) Character details are not general but specific.

    Deborah then asked all of the students in the theater to stand up and group themselves in the four corners of the room depending on whether they were wearing white, black, neutral and subdued colors, or bright colors. It was a rather unorthodox, yet amusing, experience for students who are used to remaining in their seats for the whole NYFA event. Deborah then pointed to the people wearing neutral colors and said, “These are your background extras.” To the people wearing bright colors she said, “this is the cast of Glee.” Deborah explained to students how they could stage their extras and supporting characters in the foreground, mid-ground, and background according to where their main character is in order to draw attention to them. Of course, she stressed the importance of making this color choreography appear random since groups of people never divide themselves naturally according to the color of their clothing.


    Following these exercises, Deborah gave an hour-long keynote presentation that she had made for the Hollywood Costume exhibit she curated at the LACMA. This presentation emphasized the undeniably important role costume design plays in shaping character and just how powerful of a storytelling tool it is. During the Q&A after the keynote presentation, Deborah explained how she designed the iconic outfit Michael Jackson wore in Thriller. She explained that “design is reductive,” meaning you start with all that choices that are obviously wrong and you begin whittling down your options. Michael Jackson was as 5′ 9″ man who weighed less than 100 pounds and her job was to turn him into a powerful sex symbol. His jacket had to make him stand out in front of the rows of zombies he danced in front of. Black, blue, orange, purple would not have worked. “It had to be red,” Deborah said, “There was just no other choice. It had to be red.” She designed the leather jacket to hold padding in the shoulders and included strong lines creating a V to project masculinity. The straight black pants helped to elongate his body. The result speaks for itself as one of the must iconic costumes in history.

    The evening with Deborah Nadoolman-Landis was a truly valuable experience for NYFA students of all disciplines in the audience. If you missed her lecture don’t worry, Deborah has preserved much of her knowledge in educational texts. As a historian with a PhD in design from London Royal college of art, Professor Landis’ books include: Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration, FilmCraft: Costume Design, and the award winning 2012 catalogue for the landmark exhibition, Hollywood Costume, which she curated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and exhibit recently at the LACMA museum in LA to great success. We sincerely thank Deborah for visiting and look forward to what kind of waves in the costume design world she will inevitably make in the future.


    April 22, 2015 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5547