X-Men First Class
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  • X-Men Sequel Reveals Production Art, New Nightcrawler

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    xmen pic

    Big news from the Apocalypse this week, or rather, X-Men: Apocalypse, the highly anticipated sequel to last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Director Bryan Singer tweeted some production art that raises more questions than it answers, a beautifully painted image of Wolverine being dwarfed by a giant machine? Another theory is that the figure is the title villain, the super mutant Apocalypse, and the mechanical work depicted is his intergalactic Ship.

    In other news, the sequel has added to its cast and continued its trend of recasting popular characters from the original trilogy with much younger stars. The role of Nightcrawler, the blue, devil-eared teleporter played in X-Men 2 by Alan Cumming has gone to Kodi Smit-McPhee, the young co-star of The Road, Let Me In, ParaNorman and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He joins Oscar Isaac, star of Inside Llewyn Davis and the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII, as well as returning cast members Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult. Nightcrawler isn’t the only mutant getting a younger reboot—the film has already announced its recasting of Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey with Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner.

    The younger casting makes sense—the film will take place in the 1980s, before the timeline of the original X-Men trilogy, and following the 1960s and 1970s settings of X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, respectively. Considering Days of Future Past also retconned the entire franchise’s history, we can expect other interesting casting announcements up until the release of the film in May 2016.

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    February 18, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2968

  • Superheroes are Taking Over Hollywood (and I Feel Fine)

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     Eric Conner is the Chair of the Screenwriting Department for New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios – Los Angeles campus. With an MFA degree from USC School of Cinema and Television and a BA from UPenn, Eric is currently developing two TV pilots, a sci-fi feature, and trying to add to his collection of ironic snapshots with Stormtroopers. Feel free to email him at eric@nyfa.edu

    I often warn my students to avoid becoming “That Guy.” You know “That Guy.” He’s the one in the theater who complains about a director “crossing the 180 line” or using the wrong lens. He’s the one who LOUDLY critiques a movie in terms of “sequences” and “denouement.” Summer’s an especially difficult time for “That Guy” since the multiplexes are filled with Hollywood’s biggest, loudest, and franchise-iest products — though to be fair, there’s a Wes Anderson gem also playing in the theaters, but it’s on a screen smaller than your car. For my $14 (or $28 if you choose the couches and food service of iPic Theaters in Pasadena), I don’t watch a movie with a notebook or penlight. I go to the theaters simply to be transported.

    Sometimes it’s to the dark emotional wilderness of Into the Wild. Other times to see Kevin Bacon singlehandedly ignite the Cold War in X-Men: First Class. Please note: I’m pretty sure the Cuban Missile Crisis did not actually play out that way, especially since my own father was on one of the ships during those tense thirteen days in 1962. But that didn’t make me enjoy the scene any less. This likely goes back to why I work in the arts in the first place. Similar to many of my peers, I grew up on the films of Allen, Scorsese, Coppola, Ashby, Polanski, and Altman, and spent most of my college days working on one play or another. However, I also spent many hours in my native Delaware reading comics, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and — please don’t hold it against me or my department — watching professional wrestling! Meaning that I’m equally transfixed by the damaged honesty of The Descendants as when the Hulk mops up the floor with Loki. In fact, my favorite line of dialogue this decade came out of Bruce Banner’s mouth just as he got his green on. (No spoilers here!)

    With The Avengers approaching Titanic-level grosses, we’re likely to see even more superhero films in the future. And I’m here to tell you that’s okay. Some of them will be stinkers (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider), but others will give us the same thrill that George Lucas unleashed in 1977 with one unforgettable opening shot. For every Daredevil, Elektra, or Green Lantern, there’s a Superman or Spiderman 2. I still think  Magneto’s unorthodox escape from his glass prison — featuring a poor guard with “too much iron in his blood” — is as cinematic as cinema can get. Hopefully, the screenwriters who are developing the next mega-budget superhero adaptations remember the wonder they felt as kids, flipping through the pages of The Flash. Or take a cue from Chris Nolan, who’s been treating Batman like part of the Godfather franchise.

    In fact, our writing department in Los Angeles has even begun to address this head-on by adding comic book writing and game design to our curriculum. Both of these mediums have provided some of the greatest modern writing around. As long as there’s money to be made and stories to be told, Hollywood will continue to look for new films from these existing properties. Some films will anger the aforementioned “That Guy.” But other films will sweep him up in their worlds and remind him why he came to film school in the first place. If you want to discuss this with me, I can be found at either the Ahmanson touring production of War Horse or the opening weekend of Dark Knight Rises

    Eric Connor in a tiff with Darth Vader.

    Learn more about NYFA’s screenwriting program. Click here for more info! 
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    June 14, 2012 • Academic Programs, Screenwriting • Views: 6453

  • Oscar-Winning Special Effects Make-Up Artists Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis Speak at New York Film Academy

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    New York Film Academy hosted a talk for students this week with special effects makeup artists Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis. Woodruff and Gillis have collaborated on some of the largest studio productions in history including The Terminator, Star Trek III, Jumanji, The X Files, Cast Away, and Superman Returns just to name a few. In addition, they have recently done work for the new X-Men First Class and the upcoming prequel to The Thing. Woodruff won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects on Death Becomes Her and was nominated for an Oscar along with Gillis for Aliens 3. Gillis also received an Oscar nomination for Starship Troopers.


    Woodruff and Gillis collaborated on special effects for films including Aliens.

    Woodruff and Gillis spent valuable time with students sharing their experiences from neighborhood adolescent filmmakers, to film school students, to Roger Corman’s employees, to the real world of filmmaking in Hollywood. Addressing the generational gap between practical special effects artists and CGI special effects artists, the two commented that filmmaking has headed in a digital direction, with filmmakers quick to make things “easier” or “cheaper” by going all digital. However, Woodruff and Gillis expressed that practical effects create a more realistic feeling and can actually be a cheaper option to create the visual sensation the director hopes to achieve.

    Woodruff and Gillis recently worked on X-Men First Class.

    Overall, the discussion was incredibly thought provoking. Woodruff and Gillis were extremely inspiring and New York Film Academy thanks them for the visit!


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    May 24, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4943