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  • Director Jeff Preiss Discusses Sundance Award-Winning ‘Low Down’

    Low Down

    Director Jeff Preiss with NYFA’s Ben Cohen

    This past Wednesday night, the New York Film Academy in Union Square held a special screening of the star-studded film, Low Down. The emotional drama is based on Amy-Jo Albany’s powerful memoir of growing up in the care of her gifted, tormented and frequently absent musician father — a bebop jazz pianist named Joe Albany. The film focuses on the years 1974 to 1976, when Amy (Elle Fanning) had few resources other than the love of her aging grandmother (Glenn Close) and a ragtag bunch of Hollywood outcasts and eccentrics that were her friends.

    Joining us after the Sundance award-winning film was director Jeff Preiss. Jeff emerged as a professional filmmaker in the eighties, through his involvement in the production of experimental cinema. He was co-director of the pioneering Lower East Side Film venue, Films Charas, and a board member of The Collective For Living Cinema. In 1984, he traveled to Berlin to shoot the Rosa Von Praunheim produced Punk Vampire Film, Der Bis.

    In 1987, he was invited by photographer Bruce Weber to be Director of Photography on a series of short films and two feature documentaries, Broken Noses and Let’s Get Lost — the latter winning the Venice Film Festival Critics Award and an Academy Award nomination for best documentary. After three years of collaborating with Weber, Preiss’ film career began to include directing commercials and music videos (clips for Iggy Pop, Malcolm McLaren, REM, B52s, Mariah Carey / Apple, Nike, Coke, American Express among others).

    In 1995, Jeff became a partner with Mindy Goldberg at Epoch Films. Preissʼs experimental projects include video installations in venues including The Whitney Museum of American Art, MOCA, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville Paris, Museum and the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam.

    He has collaborated with artists including Rem Koolhass, Joan Jonas, Andrea Fraser and Anthony McCall. His work is in the collection of MoMA, New York and The Reina Sofia, Madrid.

    In 2005, Preiss cofounded the artist run gallery, ORCHARD, in New York. He currently sits on the board of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn. His 2012 experimental feature film, Stop, was a selection of the 50th New York Film Festival.

    During the Q&A, moderated by NYFA Instructor Ben Cohen, Jeff recounted how his nine year passion project came to be after an encounter with Amy-Jo Albany. He elaborately delved into the process of working with his superb cinematographer and all-star cast. Jeff compared working with his camera team to that of falling in love with a spouse. As for his cast, which consisted of John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Peter Dinklage, Glenn Close, Lena Heady and others, Preiss said, “I could not have picked a better actor to have suited each part.”

    Jeff had a bit of anxiety in his approach toward directing, considering the stature of talent he was working with. Once he discovered how powerful just knowing the story was, his confidence grew. “All I’m doing is getting everyone in sync, telling the story,” said Preiss. “I would tell them the story like it happened to me. Then, everything is in service to them.”

    From there on out, Jeff’s mastery of the story and keeping everyone on the same page was what guided the performances. Though, he admits, Glenn Close was in character from the moment she arrived on set and never broke. As always, her commitment to her craft shined on the big screen.

    The twenty-two day shoot came together through moments of serendipity and perseverance. With a bit of luck and having Jeff behind the wheel, we’re fortunate to have this truly emotional piece that captures Amy-Jo’s story. If you weren’t able to join us for the screening, be sure to check out Low Down when it’s in theaters or On Demand.


    November 20, 2014 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 9741

  • 3 Principles for a Successful TV Commercial


    Kyuhwan Kim commercial

    Last week, the New York Film Academy and The Korea Society teamed up for a special event at NYFA’s Union Square location. Prominent Korean television commercial director, Kyuhwan Kim spoke to a full house of students about his long-standing and successful career in the industry. Kim has directed over 1,000 TV commercials with major clients all around the world including McDonald’s, Pepsi, Google, North Face, Dunkin Donuts, as well as Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and Sony in Korea. Kim has been honored with numerous awards, amongst them are Finalist, Clio Cannes Commercial Film Festival (1995), Finalist, IBA Award (1996), Grand Prix, The Best Ad (Monthly Ad, 1995), Director of the Year (Monthly Ad, 1995), Grand Prix, Ad of the Year (Daehung, 1995), and several others.

    Kim started the evening explaining how it was a goal of his to give a lecture to students in New York City. While he would’ve liked to have given the lecture in English, he isn’t quite fluent in the language. Nevertheless, through an interpreter, Kim was able to breakdown the competitive and sometimes frustrating world of advertising into an informative and entertaining lecture. As a director with such an enormous resume under his belt, Kim’s advice couldn’t be have been more helpful.

    Over the years, Kim discovered, “Any ad will contain three principles: Seduce, Surprise, and Resolve.”

    Kim broke down a few examples of his own work, as well as some of the most recognized commercials over the past decade including the infamous Bud Light commercial Whassup!. The majority of successful commercials contained these three vital principles.

    While Kim loves and appreciates the art form that is involved with creating these “short films,” he realizes the bottom line is sales. Clients invest tremendous amounts of money into the production and television placement of the ad. If the product or brand doesn’t increase sales as a result of the ad, the commercial is essentially a failure. As such, while the creative awards are inspiring, they’re not the end all goal for Kim.


    September 15, 2014 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 7433

  • Screening of ‘Over Again’ at NYFA Union Square


    over again

    Join us this Thursday, March 13th 6:00pm at NYFA Union Square for a screening of the Korean drama, Over Again.

    2013 / Drama / 81min / NR / Korean with English Subtitle
    Directed by Kim, Byung-JuneTo inquire about availability: email your FULL NAME to korea.rsvp@nyfa.edu.


    March 11, 2014 • Community Highlights • Views: 4510

  • The New Year Rings in Fresh Film School Talent

    NYFA Union Square Snow

    Winter in Union Square, NYC

    It’s a new year and we’re quickly becoming accustomed with fresh faces and new talent at the New York Film Academy. The motto of our film school is students receive a “hands-on education” and our new crop of students can tell you, this is certainly the case. Make no mistake, the film school courses are very intense. From day one, students quickly become familiar with our helpful TAs in the equipment room, as they’re checking in and out film equipment to shoot their own short films. While instructors and TAs are on set, guiding individuals and teaching them proper filmmaking tactics, students will deal with similar pressures faced by professional filmmakers.

    Given NYFA’s location in Union Square, the heart of New York City, students don’t have to look far to find the perfect set for their film. Just take a walk around Union Square Park if you’re in the area, you’ll be sure to catch a NYFA T-shirted film school student capturing his or her first ideas onto film. Yes, film. The New York Film Academy is one of the only film schools left who still uses the ArriFlex to create 16mm films. We feel it’s important to learn the roots of cinema before entering the world of digital filmmaking. Though, our students are not deprived in the digital arena at all. NYFA provides access to the RED Epic, Canon 5D, and HDSLR. Plus, students have access to editing suites, at their own convenience, to edit each of their projects. So, our students are well versed in all aspects of filmmaking.

    Just recently, The Huffington Post recommended readers to check out NYFA’s film school workshops as a way to “Change the world using new media.” Perhaps you’d like to change the world or your New Year’s resolution is to learn the craft of filmmaking. If so, be sure to check out our short term workshops or Degree Programs that we have to offer.

    As an example of what you can expect coming out of our film school programs, last September we compiled some of 1 Year Filmmaking students’ films into an impressive reel. Have a look.



    January 21, 2014 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 5274

  • NYFA Grad Wins Best Director for ‘The Duck Diaries’


    Duck DiariesDigital Filmmaking Graduate, Matt Twomey, recently won the Best Director award at the NYC Independent Film Festival for his feature documentary, The Duck Diaries: A Cold War Quest for Friendship Across the Americas. The Duck Diaries is a true-life intercontinental adventure about the importance of intercultural outreach in a troubled world, and the astonishing power of a never-say-die spirit. The story is about a group of young American guys who, in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, took it upon themselves to spread Yankee goodwill in Central and South America. For the 27,000-mile journey, they acquired a surplus Army amphibian “Duck.” But the vehicle wasn’t quite up to the seafaring they intended to get them from Panama to Colombia, and they ended up marooned. Fortunately, President John F. Kennedy took an interest in their mission. “In making it, there were numerous times when I met dead ends, blind alleys, and technical catastrophes,” said Twomey. “I needed to take inspiration from the very story I was telling.”

    Matt grew up in West Virginia and set out for Tokyo, Japan after graduating college. After he came up with the idea for the documentary, Matt left Tokyo to come study at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, New York City. He wanted to be in New York, and NYFA offered an intensive workshop in digital filmmaking that he could squeeze in before his production. “Having had no background in film, my NYFA course was a good, hands-on primer in the basics of camera, lighting, sound and editing. Somehow my fellow students and I each managed to make three shorts, which is the best kind of learning.”

    Matt continues to showcase his film at a variety of film festivals. “It’s been extraordinarily gratifying to witness the crowd response to my film. I had an incredible turnout for the screening at the NYC Independent Film Festival, and I was floored to win Best Director — there was such great competition among both narrative and documentary films. In Mexico, at the Oaxaca Film Festival, I met so many great filmmakers.”

    Matt is now developing documentary shorts, one specifically focuses on the fossil fuel divestment movement that is growing across the country. He is also interested in partnering with other filmmakers in a collaboration or in a collective. “The best documentaries are truly more compelling than fiction, and watching them can change a person’s perspective or even spur him into action. I hope to keep discovering and telling such stories.”

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    December 13, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5357

  • Philippines Disaster Relief Fund at NYFA


    As many of you are aware, the Philippines was recently struck by one of the most powerful and devastating storms recorded in human history. Having leveled many cities and killing thousands of Philippine nationals, Typhoon Haiyan has left an indelible mark on the country.

    As a small start, the New York Film Academy has donated $10,000 to the relief fund. In addition, we would like to reach out to our community to help aid relief efforts overseas. We will be placing a donation box at each front desk of 17 Battery Place as well as at the front desk at Union Square. We will be accepting cash (and coin) donations which we will then donate to Direct Relief, the non-profit emergency response and global health organization with a special initiative for this relief effort.

    Starting Monday, November 18th through Friday November 22nd, we will be collecting cash donations. Let’s pitch in and make a big statement from the entire NYFA community.

    Thank you all so much for your support, every penny helps!

    If you would like to make an individual donation online, you may do so here: DONATE NOW.Philippines



    November 15, 2013 • Acting • Views: 4756

  • NYFA Students to Screen ‘Alumbrones’ on July 9th



    Join us in Union Square July 9th at 7:30pm for a screening of a new documentary filmed in Cuba! The film, Alumbrones, was directed and produced by New York Film Academy student, Bruce Donnelly. Bruce teamed up with fellow students (co-producer) Paulo Adorni, (Director of Photography) Esteban Malpica, and (Second Unit Photographer) Albert Oh.

    The team has just started their festival run, having already been accepted to the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival!

    Students, alumni, and faculty are invited to a sneak preview Tuesday, July 9th!


    July 1, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4325