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  • Talent Agent Jennifer Boyce Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    Talent agent Jennifer Boyce recently dropped by the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles for a Q&A with our students and to speak about her many years in Hollywood as an agent, working at both the Savage Agency and KMR Talent. Senior Enrollment Advisor Chris Devane and Associate Chair of Acting for Film Anne Moore hosted the evening.

    Students heard Boyce’s perspective on head shots and tips on what to do when meeting with an agent. Most students had never met an agent before, so one of the most common questions of the night was: How, exactly, they should go about working with one in their careers? What information should actors have on hand?

    From left to right: NYFA’s Senior Enrollment Advisor Chris Devane, Guest Speaker Jennifer Boyce, and Associate Chair of Acting for Film Anne Moore.

    Boyce suggested that students create opportunities to succeed. “If you are an actor, you do not get to sit at home waiting for your agent to call,” Boyce said. “Don’t ask ‘What is my agent doing for me?’ Instead ask, ‘What am I doing for my own career?’”

    Boyce reminded students that an agent only makes 10 percent commission from what actors make, and cautioned them not to expect agents to do more than 10 percent of the work. She echoed the great advice that actors’ minds and bodies are an instrument, and they need to keep their instrument in tune. She hammered home an old truth: actors have to act. Talking about acting is not acting. Thinking about acting is not acting.

    “It takes a lifetime of commitment to have any success in this business,” Boyce warned. “If you’re not willing to put in the work, then you may not be suited for this business.”

    During the Q&A, one NYFA student asked, “For an agent, what is the most important part of an actor’s resume?”

    Boyce’s explained that, first, acting students should focus on the special skills portion of their resumes. This section is often overlooked, but it is often the difference between a callback and never hearing about a particular job again. Special skills include horseback riding, swimming, sewing, or driving a car. It is in this section where casting directors might think of additional roles for which actors may be the right fit. Secondly, while special skills are important, the best thing an actor can do to improve their chances of securing an agent is to train in their field. This is why even professional actors still take acting classes well into an established career.

    Boyce shared that, from an agent’s point of view, actors who continue to take classes and train demonstrate a work ethic and dedication to their craft. Additionally, many casting directors have established relationships with acting coaches. When they spot a familiar name, casting directors can reach out and learn more about an actor, their abilities, and personality.  

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Jennifer Boyce for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with our students.

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    April 26, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 355

  • Women’s History Month Industry Panel and Hidden Figures Screening at New York Film Academy South Beach

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    New York Film Academy South Beach screened the 2016 drama Hidden Figures this March as part of a month-long event series for Women’s History Month.

    Hidden Figures was based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about three black female mathematicians who worked at NASA. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, respectively. The release of the film came on the heels of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2016, and its critical and commercial success proved that the stories of women of color have been waiting to be told for decades.

    NYFA South Beach Chair of Filmmaking Maylen Dominguez said of the decision to screen this particular film: “These untold stories need to be told. They are part of our history that will disappear if we don’t share them now.” The Filmmaking Chair also served as moderator of the Q&A, which took place after the screening. The Q&A featured panelists who are working women in film, including:

    • NYFA Acting Instructor Susie Taylor
    • Producer Giorgia Lo Savio
    • NYFA Chair of Filmmaking Maylen Dominguez
    • Filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani
    • Actress Maha McCain

    “As a woman, there is no need to be demure or diminutive about your skills,” said Maha McCain, who is an acting instructor at University of Miami. She explained that women are often expected to be more passive, but that they shouldn’t be ashamed to proudly showcase their talent.

    Maylen Dominguez thoughtfully illustrated why it benefits women and men to be more inclusive in casting and hiring: “You’re helping showcase a full picture of humanity. That’s why we’re in film!”

    Filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani added, “Don’t take things personally.”

    Toward the end of the discussion, one of the students raised her hand to say, “Thank you so much for having this kind of discussion. I am about to graduate and I feel hopeful.”

    A male student added, “We want you to know we heard you and our generation is working hard to change how things are.”

    The common themes throughout were to “never give up, support each other, and do not let your voice be stifled. The industry panelists also repeated the idea that it is always important to allow a variety of different voices to be heard, as evidenced by Hidden Figures.

    For a complete look at all of NYFA’s events during Women’s History Month, check out our blog piece here.

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  • New York Film Academy Hosts Hip Hop Film Festival Screening Event

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    The New York Film Academy recently hosted screenings, a Q&A, and panel presented by the Hip Hop Film Festival and 247films.tv. The event at NYFA’s Battery Park theatre was entitled “WeWatch: Femme Fatale Edition” and was presented as part of a series of Women’s History Month events hosted by NYFA. The hip-hop-focused festival is based in Harlem, and was founded in 2015. The third annual festival will take place this year from August 2-5 in Harlem.

    NYFA-HHFF-WomensHistory

    The WeWatch event began with food and drinks presented by Revive Kombucha. Attendees shifted into the theatre for the three-hour screening and Q&A portion of the event. Hip Hop Film Festival founder C R Capers introduced and moderated the event.

    After the first screening of comedy web series Shampagne, Capers sat down with series creator and lead actress Melissa Mickens to talk about her process and what served as inspiration. Mickens’ real life experiences of being pigeonholed during auditions spurned her desire to shift focus and pursue a rap career. She also discussed filming on a budget and in Harlem, where she resides.

    Next up was Australian filmmaker Bella Ann Townes’ Hip Hop & Holiness, which profiled Matthew “Mystery” Peet,  a breakdancer, rapper, and graffiti tagger who also happens to be a pastor at church. Peet discusses his relationship to both hip hop culture and religion and how he does not feel they should be mutually exclusive. Townes won Best Emerging Australian Director for the documentary short at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival in 2017.

    Seattle creative Voleak Sip’s short film Float was third in the lineup. Sip was unable to attend the event, but she recorded a video explaining how her older brother was the inspiration behind the main character, Rocky, who is a Cambodian hustler still living with his parents. The music was a key element of the film, and sound editor Jono Hill was on hand to speak to C R about his process. While the film is set in the ’90s, the music was created by present-day producers and musicians who provided a fresh take on the prominent ’90s boombap hip-hop sound.

    The event concluded with Jasmine Callis’ powerful documentary short set entirely in North Philly. Stay Black, Baby: The Mixtape is a complex portrait of Black youth rising, Black art glorified, Black voices uncovered, Black struggle acknowledged, and Black empowerment revered. Over the course of 20 compelling minutes, the film shifted seamlessly from motivational to heartbreaking and back again, covering topics from Black pride and resilience to police brutality and misogyny.

    Callis, who currently works at New York Film Academy as a video editor and producer, attended the event and discussed her inspirations, including Spike Lee and Philadelphia hip-hop legends The Roots. During the Q&A, Capers raved about Callis’ work, which she said belongs in a museum.

    Keep an eye on the Hip Hop Film Festival’s website for upcoming events and details on the 2018 iteration of the festival.

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  • Gender Inequality in Film Infographic Updated in 2018

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) released its original Gender Inequality in Film infographic in 2013. Now, following the TIME’S UP™ movement and actress Frances McDormand’s impassioned call at the 90th Academy Awards for the industry to embrace Inclusion Riders, NYFA’s updated Gender Inequality in Film infographic presents research on gender in film from 2007 to 2017, from more than 40 sources and scholarly studies. 

    “With all that’s happening in the film industry, the New York Film Academy hopes to contribute what we can to the conversation with this infographic. It can be used as a reference and an educational tool to raise further awareness and inspire leaders within the entertainment industry, and beyond,” explains NYFA Chair of Documentary Andrea Swift. “It is an accessible way to interact with key information to support the movement to reach 50/50 by 2020.”

    Throughout Women’s History Month in March, NYFA will be highlighting different aspects of the data in this infographic as a four-part series. This is part one, and reveals the full, updated infographic. Stay tuned for more!

    To further support the conversation around gender inequality in film, NYFA will also host events throughout Women’s History Month, with a focus on International Women’s Day on March 8. For more information, click here.

    For additional content related to the conversation surrounding gender equality in film, check out these additional resources from the New York Film Academy:

    1. Time’s Up and #MeToo Dominate the 2018 Golden Globes
    2. Oscar-nominated Editor Kristen Nutile Screens Heroin(e) at New York Film Academy
    3. Anna Serner Speaks on Behalf of Gender Equality in Film
    4. Actress Rose McGowan Screens her Directorial Debut Dawn at NYFA
    5. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Diversifies With 774 New Members
    6. Patricia Arquette Demands Equality for Women
    7. Black Inequality in Film
    8. Sony Pictures Television Selects NYFA Alum Tiffany Paulsen for Diverse Directors Program
    9. NYFA Student Takes Part in Women of Sundance Panel
    10. Legendary Agent Boaty Boatwright Speaks at the New York Film Academy
    11. NYFA Spotlight: Gina Theresa on Women in Games and Motion Capture Acting
    12. Brandii Grace Discusses Inclusiveness in Video Games
    13. NYFA Embraces the Fearless Girl Statue Outside New York Campus
    14. Has Female Equality in Hollywood Progressed in 2014?
    15. UNESCO’s Gender Equality Heritage & Creativity 2014

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  • Oscar-nominated Editor Kristen Nutile Screens Heroin(e) at New York Film Academy

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    Academy Award-nominated editor and documentarian Kristen Nutile visited the New York Film Academy recently for a screening of Heroin(e) followed by a Q&A at the NYFA Theatre at the Battery Park campus.

    A Netflix original, Heroin(e) was nominated in the 90th Academy Awards Best Documentary Short category. The film follows three community leaders, all women, as they battle the opioid epidemic and work to save lives their city of Huntington, West Virginia, a place where the overdose rate is 10 times the national average. Heroin(e) is directed by Peabody-awarding winning Elaine McMillion Sheldon and edited by Kristin Nutile, a NYFA instructor.

    “When I was approached by Elaine, I was very moved by this particular problem and that is why I took on the project,” Nutile has told NYFA. “I loved how she was following three women trying to make a difference. I love that it was female-centric.”

    Despite the early, 7 p.m. start time and the fact that Heroin(e) runs at a tight 39 minutes, the event lasted late into the night, as Nutile generously and thoughtfully stretched her time to answer every student question.

    Nutile explained to a packed house of NYFA New York Documentary Filmmaking students, “I choose projects because I am interested in the subject and like to work with great people. Winning awards is never the goal. To be in an Oscar-nominated crew is truly amazing. Ultimately to me, it’s about the work.”

    Nutile has directed six of her own films and edited two dozen more in addition to teaching at New York Film Academy’s Documentary Filmmaking program in New York City. The program was named by The Independent Magazine in the Top 10 Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers and recently featured in IDA’s Documentary Magazine.

    Watch Heroin(e) on Netflix. You can also learn more on the website.

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  • Celebrate Women’s History Month at the New York Film Academy

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    This Women’s History Month, which also includes International Women’s Day on March 8, the New York Film Academy joins the conversation on gender inclusivity with an updated Gender Inequality in Film Infographic as well as a full slate of events across its campus locations.

    From International Women’s Day industry panel events to film screenings and raffles, check out NYFA’s calendar of Women’s History Month activities, below, and join us on campus in Los Angeles, New York City, South Beach, and NYFA Australia, Gold Coast. And on social media, we’ll be shouting out to many of the Women of NYFA — alums who are doing incredible work in the community, in the entertainment industry, and beyond.

    New York Film Academy Women’s History Month events will include:

    Los Angeles

    MARCH 7 – Stand Up for Women Comedy Night

    Host:

    • Lisa deLarios – Lisa has toured the country featuring for Zach Galifianakis, Paul F. Tompkins, Anthony Jeselnik, and Maria Bamford among others. She was showcased on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and has been a frequent guest on Doug Loves Movies.  

    Featured Comedians:

    • Laura House – Laura is a headlining comedian who has performed on HBO, Comedy Central, NBC, and starred in MTV’s Austin Stories. She written on the Emmy-winning shows Mom and Samantha Who, BAFTA-winning Secret Lives of Boys, as well as Nicole Byer’s Loosely, Exactly, Nicole, The George Lopez Show, Mad Love, Blue Collar TV & more.
    • Jackie Kashian – Jackie is a comic whose new album, I Am Not The Hero Of This Story, was the #1 comedy album on iTunes and Amazon. She is in the 12th year of her podcast The Dark Forest and has a new podcast on the Nerdist Network called The Jackie and Laurie Show.
    • Jena Friedman – Jena is a comedian, writer, filmmaker and political satirist who recently appeared on Conan. Her Adult Swim special Soft Focus with Jena Friedman aired in February. She has been a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman. ​
    • Annie Lederman – Annie was the co-host of We Have Issues on E! and has been a cast member on Chelsea Lately, Girl Code, @midnight, and Impractical Jokers.
    • Kate Willett Kate tours nationally and internationally, has been featured on Viceland’s Flophouse and Comedy Central’s This is Not Happening, and recently taped a Netflix special.
    • Vanessa Gonzalez – Vanessa was recently voted “Best Stand-up Comic” in the Austin Chronicle readers’ poll, and created and stars in the Mas Mejor web series Ms. Vanessa.
    • Jessica Sele– Jessica is a stand-up comedian who tours across the country, and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and SF Sketchfest. She was written about in HuffPost.
    • Ellington Wells – Ellington is a filmmaker and comedian who hosts the monthly stand-up show Blackberry Jam, and has worked on television shows such as Insecure, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Baskets.

    March 8 – International Women’s Day: A Perspective on Women in Entertainment: Industry Panel Discussion

    Moderators:

    • Mike Civille
    • Lydia Cedrone

    Panelists

    • Dea Lawrence – CMO of Variety
    • Kelly Gilmore – Sr. VP Marketing at Warner Bros.
    • Barbara Bain – 3 time Emmy Winning Actress
    • Jeanette Collins – Producer/Writer: Big Love, Drop Dead Diva, Suddenly Susan
    • Winship Cook – Producer: K-19: The Widowmaker, Sound the Crossing,Family Plan
    • Valorie Massalas – Casting Director/Producer: Back to the Future 2 & 3, Indiana Jones, Total Recall
    • Ronnie Yeskel – Casting Director: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Curb Your Enthusiasm  
    • Elvi Cano – Executive Director EGEDA U.S.
    • Lisa Guerriero – Camera operator: Suicide Squad, Mad Men, Mission Impossible, Fight Club

    New York City

    FEB. 28,  6:30 PM EST – Heroin(e) SCREENING & Guest Speaker Event

    • Exclusive screening of Oscar-nominated Netflix short documentary Heroin(e) with the film’s editor and special guest lecturer Kristen Nutile.

    MARCH 5-6 – Women’s International Film Festival Raffle

    TBD – NYFA Women in Film Screening Series

    • Further details coming soon.

    MARCH 21 – Women in VR: Chat with Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council & NYFA Instructor Caitlin Burns 

    • Further details coming soon.

    Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council & NYFA Instructor Caitlin Burns

    South Beach

    March 21 – NYFA Women in Film Screening and Q&A

    • A screening of the 2016 drama Hidden Figures
    • A Q&A led by South Beach Filmmaking chair Maylen Dominguez

    March 21 – NYFA Women in Film Industry Panel

    • An all-woman panel featuring Rhonda Mitrani, Susie Taylor, Maha McCain, Elli Ventouras, and Giorgia Lo Savio

    NYFA Australia, Gold Coast

    March 8 – International Women’s Day Film Series

    • A screening series of films focused on female protagonists, including The Color Purple, Joy, Thelma & Louise, and Whip It.

    For updates on Women’s History Month events at the New York Film Academy, and to join us for International Women’s Day, be sure to follow us on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram

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  • Dare to Be Remarkable: New York Film Academy Alumna Adriana Ledesma on Film, Family and Future

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    Adriana Ledesma, via IMDB.

    Latina filmmaker and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Masters of Screen and Media graduate Adriana Ledesma is hard at work, applying her remarkable skill set as a writer, director, editor, cinematographer, producer, production manager — and more — to tell distinctive stories. In an industry focused on better promoting diversity and women in film while also creating opportunity for individuals with unique voices, this rising filmmaker is intent on creating engaging stories and touching audience’s hearts, and we are excited to watch her blaze a unique path.

    In the past few years NYFA alumnus Adriana Ledesma has premiered her work at numerous film festivals, including her films “Departure,” “Karma,” “A Choice,” and “Empathize.” In 2016, “Departure” won the Bronze Award for Short Film at the Fameus International Film Festival, and was also nominated for the Best Short Drama Jury Award at the Hollywood Screenings Film Festival and the Best Short Film Hollywood Cinefest award at the Hollywood Cinfast. Adriana’s passion, experience, and unending love of mankind lend a unique perspective to her films, helping to create an experience audiences won’t soon forget.

    Recently, the busy filmmaker took the time to catch up with the NYFA Blog and share some of her thoughts with our international community.

    NYFA: Some of your films have been honored with multiple awards. How did that feel? 

    Adriana Ledesma, via IMDB.

    AL: Of course it’s always a great satisfaction that someone external, in this case some real experts, value the work you do and that you put so much effort into accomplishing. I don’t do things to receive something in return, but I am very passionate and I believe you should put more than 100 percent on everything you do — or else, what’s the point in doing it at all? So it has been an honor for me.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your experience in the film industry since graduating from the New York Film Academy?

    AL: Well, it certainty hasn’t been an easy road. There have been many obstacles and many sacrifices involved, but when you set your mind towards what you truly want, there’s nothing that can stop you.

    What you need to do is take the risk, forget about all the complications you might find on the way, and step out of your comfort zone. Don’t limit yourself, and dare to be remarkable.  

    I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do what I love, to wake up and go to set every day. I feel blessed.

    Adriana Ledesma on set, via IMDB.

    NYFA: You are from Mexico originally and left home to pursue your dream, which is something that many members of our international NYFA community can relate to. Can you tell us a bit about that experience, and how your home and family have inspired your work?

    AL: I am a person who values family immensely and thank God I come from a family where love, affection and support are key. Even though I know they miss me as much as I miss them, the fact that they are always there for me, giving me advice and encouragement, pushes me to continue. …

    Adriana Ledesma, via IMDB.

    … I have countless memories of my childhood, climbing trees, riding bikes with my neighbors, playing soccer, going to the park with my siblings and my parents, etc., but there is one that stands out from when I was around nine years old. I was with some cousins and friends at my cousin’s house, and all of our parents no longer knew what to do to entertain us anymore, so they came up with the idea of all of us creating a whole episode of a TV program. We were very young at that time but I remember, knowing nothing, we pulled together a very decent project with nothing but one camera. Some of us took care of crew-type activities, some of them were acting in it, we had production design involved and even visual effects with some blood. That moment, at that age, felt magical for me.

    Adriana Ledesma on set, via IMDB.

    NYFA: Who are your influences? And how would you define your style as a filmmaker?

    AL: I am mostly inspired by Akira Kurosawa and Steven Spielberg. The way they portray their stories, the approach they have when it comes to every single element involved, the importance they give to movement, acting, and framing while doing a film, is also how I love doing mine.

    For me, making a film is like putting a duet dance piece together: it’s all choreography. First you do the research — you gather all the elements you might use, then you explore styles and steps and you make your creativity shine.

    Once you have planned all the moves, you have to spend time rehearsing so it goes as well as possible. But when you’re actually shooting, you have to deal with unpredictability and uncertainty, because even when you’ve been working on it for a long time, the music might take you to different places.

    Then it becomes about timing. Each of the puzzle pieces have a detailed purpose, a precise time where they are needed, a specific meaning — so at the end, if everything flows as it was supposed to, the unified project gives you goose bumps.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Adriana for taking the time to share a part of her story with our community. Keep an eye out for many of her exciting new projects in development, including “Growing Up,” “Once in a Life time,” “Los Elegidos,” and “Until the End,” among others.

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  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Diversifies With 774 New Members

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    On June 28, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy) admitted the biggest, most diverse class of new members in the institution’s 90-year history. According to the Academy’s official site, this year’s class includes 774 entertainment professionals from 57 countries, signaling a continuation of the Academy’s commitment to pursue greater diversity and inclusion for women and minorities within its ranks.

    The New York Film Academy has always celebrated the diversity of the international entertainment industry, which is reflected in our student body: 50 percent of NYFA students are from countries outside the U.S., with an equal representation of male and female students. As New York Film Academy President Michael J. Young notes, “This very diversity is a pillar of the industries our students hope to enter upon graduation,” and supports the raising of a new generation of film and media artists that can help build toward greater inclusion both onscreen and behind the scenes.

    The New York Film Academy has reported in its Gender Inequality in Film Infographic that approximately 5 men are employed for every 1 woman in the film industry, and women account for only 30.8 percent of speaking characters on screen — though women make up 50 percent of the U.S. population. Figures for the inclusion of minorities in the industry are no better, with NPR reporting in 2016 that a USC study found only “28.3 percent of characters with dialogue were from non-white racial/ethnic groups, though such groups are nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population.”

    As the LA Times notes, the 774 new members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are announced after a period of time in which the Academy, along with the wider entertainment industry, has attracted scrutiny and debate over issues of inequality. The underrepresentation of women and minorities created controversy during the 2016 and 2017 Oscars ceremonies, with many protesting the predominantly white and male nominations — nominated by a predominantly white and male Academy — under the rallying cry #OscarsSoWhite.
    According to an interview with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO, Dawn Hudson, in the LA Times, addressing inequality is a long-term project for the Academy: “That commitment [to diversity] has not waned and will not wane for many years to come. Because I don’t see this industry getting a lot more diverse or having more gender parity anytime real soon. So this work will be ongoing for the Academy. And I know that it has inspired others to follow suit.”

    According to the Academy’s website, while the addition of its 774 new members reflects a359 percent increase in women” and a “331 percent increase in people of color” inducted since 2015, the total percentage of membership for women and minorities in the Academy remains low, at 28 percent for women and 13 percent for minorities

    The New York Film Academy is committed to nurturing a diverse and international community for students, faculty, and staff. For the full list of the 774 new members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, click here.

    New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film

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    July 3, 2017 • Entertainment News • Views: 2273

  • NYFA Student, Actress & Producer Daniela Lavender Takes Part in Sundance “Women in Film” Panel

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    Daniela LavenderBorn in Bahia, Brazil, Daniela Lavender has been training and pursuing the arts since the age of eight years old. She began by exploring ballet, jazz, contemporary dance, and eventually stepped into acting and the performing arts. Her theatre credits include British Shakespeare company production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” playing Hippolyta and Titania and a one woman show, “A Woman Alone” written by Dario Fo. From there she went on to appear in film and TV series, including the independent film “Emotional Backgammon,” where she was awarded Best Actress at the Denver Film Festival.

    Lavender is also taking on the role of producer, and currently attends the Producing School at New York Film Academy Los Angeles. As Vice President of Lavender Pictures Productions, which she co-owns with her husband Sir Ben Kingsley, her company has produced “A Birder’s Guide to Everything,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 and was awarded the Heineken first runner up audience award; “Learning to Drive” directed by Isabel Coxiet, which won the Audience Award at Provincetown Film festival; “An Ordinary Man” directed by Brad Silberling; and “Backstabbing for Beginners” directed by Per Fly, which will be released in 2017. Lavender Pictures is currently developing “Cousin Bazilio,” a 6 part mini-series; “TAJ,” an 8 part mini-series; and “Jutland,” a futuristic war drama.

    Recently, Lavender was invited to take part in a panel at the the Sundance Film Festival, which focused on Women in Film. We asked her about her involvement in the panel and her career.

    Can you tell us about your experience at this year’s Sundance?

    I much preferred my second visit to Sundance because I felt empowered. On my first visit I accompanied my husband on his press junket, so I only saw one aspect of Sundance; through an actor’s point of view and someone accompanying an actor.

    This time I went with a group of producers and filmmakers and Sundance was a different experience. I had been invited to participate in the ‘Women in Film’ panel and so I had a function that I was excited about.

    As I was there on my own, people didn’t know anything about me apart from the fact that I had a production company and was taking part in the panel. No one googled me — we didn’t google each other! So I felt that my first interactions with people were truly fresh; uncluttered by the projections that research and misinformation can so often bring.

    But what was most important for me, what made my stay so enjoyable and productive, was that I went empowered by knowledge. For the first time, instead of thinking of how I’m perceived or whether I’m being accepted or all these ego driven thoughts we invariably conjure up in situations like this, I was able to listen because I had knowledge; I knew why I was there and what I had to offer. That knowledge had been enhanced by my joining the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    sundance panel

    How did you become involved with the “Women in Film” panel?

    I met an entertainment lawyer who had been running panels at Sundance and Cannes for the past 15 years. He was a guest speaker at NYFA and my class was fortunate to attend his talk. This was part of the producer’s department programs. After class I contacted him with a question. We talked and, as by then I had been at NYFA for three months and had acquired knowledge, our talk was interesting. He felt that his women’s panel could benefit from what I had to say, so off I went.

    What do you believe was the most important topic of the panel?

    This year Sundance happened at the time of a controversial election and it became very clear to me that the most important topic of the event was knowledge. Emotions were running high and it became evident that if you don’t have knowledge to guide your emotions, passions, even love, will hinder your goals, your effectiveness.

    The more I listened to the women around me the more I was certain that what made them succeed wasn’t that they aggressively fought or protested for their place (even though some might believe so). All the successful women I came across were successful because they were outstanding at what they did. Yes, the fight for women’s rights is important as women have been discriminated against in the past, and still have room to progress until they are treated equally in every area of society, but nowadays we all have opportunities, and the most powerful way to succeed is to be great at what you do. To be the most efficient person in the room. Period. Because great skill is irresistible. Many producers and filmmakers I saw had projects they were passionate about. ‘My passion project’ as’ we say… But then distributers turn to them and say ‘well, but it’s not mine.’ One needs more than passion.

    Do you feel there has been any progress over the last few years in terms of equality for women in film?

    Yes there has been. I still wish to see more female directors. I’m looking for one right now for our TV miniseries, but there has been. The head of the panel mentioned that in his last film 90% of his crew were women. That wouldn’t have happened in the past. I see the world as a much more competitive arena today. The standards are higher, and I believe that isn’t so much about gender or race, I believe that it’s about who is the best at what they do. Who has work ethic versus who is lazy.

    When you ‘play out there with the big guns’ we see fewer nice people and more effective people. To me real kindness is to strive to be good at what you commit yourself to do, and I’m learning that. How good and ambitious you are at your job in the film business is crucial, because the film is like a chain and if one link is weak the film will suffer.
    So the weak link has no place. The one who wants to be nice and not do the work has to go. And the generous ones, the ones who give themselves to the job, the ones who care, they will have a great chance out there if that is their destiny. So for women (as for everyone else), these are great times.

    Aside from producing. You’re also an actress. As an actress in today’s world, what would be your ideal role?

    My ideal role would be a revolutionary social worker with a military background. This woman would restructure the foster care system and children wouldn’t be left in the care of the abusers. This woman would be a strong, lean machine, intelligent and have zero tolerance for child abuse. She would also operate undercover to rescue victims of child trafficking. She would be a kick ass. Like a Navy SEAL. She wouldn’t be upbeat or nice, on the contrary, she would be moody but deeply compassionate. She would also have a dynamic romantic life; she’d like boyfriends and girlfriends alike.

    Can you tell us a little bit more about the projects you’re currently working on?

    Our company has two TV miniseries and a war film in development. I’m in talks regarding a third TV mini series, but it’s in the very early stages. I’m also shooting two films as an actress, one in March called “Nomis” and another one in April called “Intrigo” directed by Daniel Alfredson (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Trilogy).

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    February 21, 2017 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2328

  • Gender Inequality in Film

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    To view the updated Gender Inequality in Film infographic released in 2018, click the banner above.

    In light of the record-breaking opening of the female-led action film Hunger Games: Catching Fire this past weekend, the New York Film Academy decided to take a closer look at women in film and what, if any, advancements women are making. After reviewing the data, it is clear that Hollywood remains stuck in its gender bias. Of course, it’s not all disparaging news and there are a number of female filmmakers, characters, and emerging talent challenging the status quo. In addition, in the independent sphere, women made up roughly half of the directors at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, yet still struggle when it comes to films receiving a wide release. By shedding light on gender inequality in film, we hope to start a discussion about what can be done to increase women’s exposure and power in big-budget films.

    New York Film Academy's Gender Inequality in Film Infographic

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    November 25, 2013 • Infographics • Views: 372895