Whiplash
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  • Q&A with Oscar-winning ‘First Man’ editor Tom Cross

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    On Friday, March 1, the New York Film Academy hosted a screening of First Man (2018) followed by a Q&A with Academy Award-winning editor Tom Cross, moderated by NYFA Filmmaking instructor, Paul Yates.

    Cross began his editing career in 1997 as an assistant editor, contributing to a number of projects including We Own the Night (2007), Crazy Heart (2009), The Switch (2010) and the Emmy Award-winning drama series, Deadwood. He came to worldwide prominence in 2015 when he won the Independent Spirit Award, BAFTA Award, and Academy Award for Best Editing for his work on the critically acclaimed film, Whiplash (2014). Cross was also nominated for an Academy Award in 2016 for the film, La La Land.

    Tom Cross

    Yates opened up the Q&A by asking Cross about how he started. Cross shared that, when he was a kid, his father took him to the public library to see a screening of the 1953 French film, Le salaire de la peur (Wages of Fear); the film fascinated Cross; he noted that he was able to follow the story and the character arcs despite not knowing the language. Cross said that, from that point on, he “loved going to the movie theater and escaping.” Once he was in high school, he was able to go to video stores and rent movies that were no longer in theaters and got the chance to expand his cinematic repertoire. “That’s kind of what led me to want to try to make my own movies,” said Cross.

    Yates steered the conversation to Cross’ editing process; he asked Cross what he does if he disagrees with a director’s editing idea. Cross shared that, in that instance, he waits for the director to see that an editing idea they suggested isn’t working rather than arguing against it in the moment, “I try to trust the process,” he said.

    One of the students in the audience asked how Cross approached editing First Man, a film about the first moon landing in 1969, because the audience knows going in that the protagonist is going to successfully land on the moon. Cross shared that he and the director, Damien Chazelle, wanted to focus on what most people didn’t know so that it would still be a story with drama and character development; “It was about making it more personal and intimate,” said Cross.

    Another student asked Cross how he approaches editing different types of stories; Cross said that what’s most important is the characters because the audience connects with them and follows their journeys. Cross said that, in Whiplash, he sought to highlight the relationship between the protagonist and his music teacher by finding the right close-ups of each actor to create a sense of tension.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Academy Award-winner Tom Cross for sharing his industry experience and editing techniques with our students!

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    April 15, 2019 • Digital Editing, Guest Speakers • Views: 757

  • J.K. Simmons Finds a Navy SEALS Role More His Tempo

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    Fresh off his Oscar win for his incredible performance in Whiplash, J.K. Simmons is filling his dance card with an upcoming slate of high-profile movies. He’s already signed on for Skull Island, the epic sequel to Peter Jackson’s King Kong starring The Avengers’ Tom Hiddleston and Birdman’s Michael Keaton, set for release in 2017.

    This week, Simmons added another role, that of a Navy SEAL commanding officer giving his troops a hard time—a part he was seemingly born to play. The film is The Lake, a thriller about the aforementioned SEALs searching for sunken treasure in Serbia.

    The Lake is being co-written and produced by prolific French filmmaker Luc Besson, director of La Femme Nikita, León, The Fifth Element and Lucy and creator of The Transporter and Taken series. Steven Quale, director of Final Destination 5 and Into the Storm and a long-time collaborator of James Cameron, will be helming The Lake. Quale is a fitting choice, considering his work with Cameron on other water-based adventures The Abyss and the 3D IMAX documentary Aliens of the Deep.

    Simmons recently spoke with New York Film Academy students about his well-lauded roles in Spider-Man, Portal 2, The Legend of Korra, The Closer, and, of course, Whiplash. There’s no doubt he will bring his trademark talent and passion to The Lake.

     

     

     

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    March 25, 2015 • Acting, Entertainment News, Guest Speakers • Views: 3742

  • Oscar Winning Actor J.K. Simmons Visits NYFA

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    jk simmons

    Academy-Award Winning Actor J.K. Simmons

    New York Film Academy students gathered in a theater at Warner Bros. Studios this past week for a special screening of Whiplash followed by a Q&A with this year’s Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons. Jonathan Kimble (“J. K.” Simmons) is known for his roles as Dr. Emil Skoda on the NBC series Law & Order (and other Law & Order franchise series), neo-Nazi Vernon Schillinger on the HBO prison drama series Oz, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope on the TNT series The Closer, J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and the voices of Cave Johnson in the 2011 puzzle game Portal 2 and Tenzin in The Legend of Korra. Simmons’s performance as music instructor Terence Fletcher in Whiplash (2014) received universal acclaim and earned him more than 30 accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Producer Tova Laiter moderated the discussion.

    To anyone who’s seen Whiplash, the memory of J.K. Simmons’ role as Fletcher, the music conservatory instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a promising young drummer’s potential, is burned into their memory. Soon after the credits finished rolling, and the man who had just captured the students’ attention so intensely on screen appeared in the flesh and took the stage, the whole theater immediately erupted into cheers and applause during a standing ovation. It was interesting to see how much of a contrast the terrifyingly sadistic Fletcher was to the real man behind the role. J.K. was upbeat, jovial, and having the students laughing in stitches with his endless stream of quips. He was as appreciative to be there as the student’s were to see him and even though the line of students waiting to ask questions stretched to the back of the theater and nearly out the door, J.K. stayed until every last question was answered.

    J.K. talked about the incredibly fateful circumstances surrounding the Whiplash feature. Director Damien Chazelle wrote the part of the student drummer Andrew for Miles Teller not knowing at all the the actor had been a drummer since the age of 15. What’s more, when Damien first approached J.K. about playing the part of music instructor Fletcher, he assured him that there would be a music technical advisor on set and that they could use a body double for difficult orchestral scenes. As it turned out, however, Mr. Simmons studied music in college. “I thought I was going to be Leonard Bernstein when I grew up, but I took a few left turns…” J.K. jokingly said. “It was just all meant to be.”

    Elaborating more on the making of the film that changed his life forever, Mr. Simmons explained that when he first met Damien Chazelle the director was only 26 years old. However, despite Damien’s lack of experience, the two immediately clicked as J.K. saw the genius within the young director. Within 10 minutes of working together on the Whiplash short film, Simmon’s and Chazella knew they would be working together on the feature version. Simmon’s also had a comfortable, creatively exciting relationship with actor Miles Teller on set. Even though the tension between them was high on screen, the two would joke around together between takes on set. This was also due to the relaxed environment Damien created on set which allowed for experimentation from the actors. An interesting fact about the young music students from the various college bands in the film was that, aside from a few, they were composed of real student musicians, not actors. And during the filming the bands were actually creating real music!

    jk at nyfa

    While reminiscing on the long road that took him to where he is now J.K. said, “When I look back it almost seems like I had a plan. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and doing what I really enjoy doing… When I was scrapping by and making ends meet, I didn’t have a wife and kids and any responsibilities… In my case, the level of success, acclaim, attention I’ve gotten more and more of in the last decade or so, if that had happened when I was 25 years old I would not have been prepared creatively, personally in any way.”

     

     

     

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    March 23, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 8523

  • Independent Spirit Awards Liked ‘Birdman’ Too

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    The big story about this year’s Oscars winners may very well be what else they’ve won—namely, the Independent Spirit Awards. The ceremony, as usual, was held the day before the Academy Awards, and rewarded films with smaller budgets and not supported by Hollywood’s largest studios. The show typically has a looser, more fun vibe where its celebrities mingle and goof off, similar to the Golden Globes. This year’s show was hosted by Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell.

    Like the Academy Awards, Birdman walked away with Best Feature. However, in one of the biggest differences from the Oscars, Richard Linklater was awarded Best Director for Boyhood. Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette, and J.K. Simmons all foreshadowed their Oscar wins with acting awards, though Michael Keaton scored the win he couldn’t get Sunday for his starring role in Birdman. Citizenfour presaged its Best Documentary Oscar with a Spirit Award win in the same category. Even the Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards mirrored the Oscars, going to Birdman and Whiplash, respectively. Best Foreign Film winner Ida also got its Spirit Award equivalent for Best International Film.

    With nearly every major winner of the Spirit Awards going on to win their categories at the Academy Awards this weekend, the Oscars overwhelmingly went to films not directly produced or financed by the major studios. Is this a sign of the times, a decentralization of film’s powerhouse auteurs, or just a fluke? Evidence seems to point to the former—after all, five years ago Spirit winner The Hurt Locker beat out Avatar for the Best Picture, but only time will tell. Basically, let’s start the 2016 Oscar predictions!

    Here’s a full list of the winners:

    BEST FEATURE

    Birdman
 Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole

    BEST MALE LEAD

    Michael Keaton, Birdman

    BEST FEMALE LEAD

    Julianne Moore, Still Alice

    BEST DIRECTOR

    Richard Linklater, Boyhood

    BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

    Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

    BEST SUPPORTING MALE

    J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

    BEST SCREENPLAY

    Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler

    BEST DOCUMENTARY

    Citizenfour
 Director/Producer: Laura Poitras

    Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky

    BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM

    Ida (Poland), Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

    BEST FIRST FEATURE

    Nightcrawler
 Director: Dan Gilroy; Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak

    BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

    Justin Simien, Dear White People

    BEST EDITING

    Tom Cross, Whiplash

    BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

    Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman

    JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD

    Land Ho!

    Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens; Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy

    LENSCRAFTERS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
  The Kill Team, Director: Dan Krauss

    PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
 Chris Chison

    KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
 H., Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel GarciaFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 23, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4030

  • And This Year’s Oscar Nominations Are…

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    A collage of the 2015 Oscar Best Picture Nominees

    The 2015 Best Picture Oscar nominees, clockwise from left: The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Selma, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, American Sniper

    The nominations for the 87th Academy Awards were announced Thursday, Jan 15 with all of the nominees being announced live for the first time, with directors J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón announcing the first batch and actor Chris Pine and Academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs announcing the second group of nominees. And while this year had predictors preparing for a by-the-numbers slate of nominees, the Academy threw more than a few curveballs our way, with Selma getting largely snubbed and Boyhood and Birdman cementing their likely domination come Oscar night with The Grand Budapest making a surprisingly strong showing with nine nominations, tying with Birdman for most nominations.

    Starting at the top, the nominees for Best Picture dropped to eight candidates from nine in the previous years with American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash competing for the main prize. While this category largely came down as expected, one can’t help but wonder if Foxcatcher was dropped to make it an even eight, not to mention the surprise that both Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel maintained momentum throughout the year despite early releases and buzz (the Academy tends to favor films released during the Fall).

    In the Best Actor category, the five nominees had all been favorites throughout awards season, though Bradley Cooper’s turn in American Sniper seemed to take out late-season favorites David Oyelowo in Selma and Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. The full list of nominees are Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, Michael Keaton in Birdman, and Steve Carell in Foxcatcher.

    Competing for best actress, the nominees, similar to their male counterparts, were mostly favorites throughout the season though one can’t help but imagine how Marion Cotillard managed to squeeze out Cake’s Jennifer Anniston for her turn in the Belgian film Two Days, One Night. One thing is for sure, both actresses gave incredible performances and as there can only be five, someone is always going to get the short stick. The nominees are Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore in Still Alice, Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, Reese Witherspoon in Wild, and Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl.

    However, the big shocker came in the Achievement in Directing category as Selma’s Ava DuVernay was snubbed, seemingly in favor of relative newcomer Morten Tyldum and his The Imitation Game. Also, for American Sniper making such a surprisingly strong showing, one can’t help but wonder if Bennett Miller and Foxcatcher pushed out Clint Eastwood. The nominees are Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman, Bennet Miller for Foxcatcher, Morton Tyldum for The Imitation Game, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, and Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

    One of the bigger surprises came in the form of Robert Duvall for his turn in The Judge, a role that had seemingly zero Oscar buzz going into the nominations. J.K. Simmons was of course nominated for Whiplash, where he continues to be the front-runner, with Edward Norton in Birdman, Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, and Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher rounding out the category.

    Finally, in the Best Supporting Actress category, the nominees were largely as expected, though Laura Dern’s flashback-heavy role in Wild edged out other late contenders like Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year and Rene Russo in Nightcrawler. Dern will be competing against Emma Stone in Birdman, Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, Meryl Steep in Into the Woods, and Patricia Arquette in Boyood.

    A few of the other big surprises coming out of LA this morning was The Lego Movie not even being included in the Best Animated Feature category, which was long considered to take the award. On the bright side, the fantastic “Everything is Awesome” was included in the Best Song category. Furthermore, while Rosamund Pike did score a Best Actress nom for Gone Girl, this early awards season heavyweight joined Selma in the snubbed category. Finally, in the Best Documentary category, the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, also considered to be a lock for the award, failed to even score a nomination.

    All in all, Oscar night just got a lot more interested and we hope you’ll join us when we Live Tweet the ceremony on February 22nd.

    Click Read More to see the full list of nominees below.

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    January 15, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 5659