Author: Ludovic Coutaud

The 10 Best Monologues on Television

Television programs have undeniably conquered the hearts of many all across the globe. When studying in NYFA’s Acting for Film program, the search for a monologue can be a tough exercise. A search in classical or contemporary plays will do – oh absolutely – but why not try TV’s best moments? Incredibly talented actors and writers work day and night to make us laugh, cry, and feel anything possible in numerous ways. Whether new or old, TV shows always know how to shape, in writing and performance, the most entertaining moments of life. The following listing gathers nonpareil actors of all caliber in some of their best moments on screen.

1) Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (2018)
In ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, Viola Davis stars as law professor Annalise Keating. Davis is the first African-American actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award and SAG Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She also received two Golden Globes nominations for her work playing this iconic role. This daring show was created by Peter Nowalk with Shonda Rhimes as executive producer; both are known for their work on Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. In fact, Keating (Davis) appeared in Scandal alongside Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope for a crossover episode in ‘Allow me to Reintroduce Myself’ (Season 7, Episode 12). The following monologue about racism has the ingredients for an important educating moment right in your living room, with a poignant text told with self-possession.

2) Michael Welch, Scandal (2015)
Scandal, aforementioned above, has also struck a new vision for television writing and includes many fabulous guest stars. In the series’ 14th season, the episode ‘The Lawn Chair’ showcases the gifted writers on the show. This beautifully crafted episode also features the talented work of Michael Welch (Twilight, Law and Order, X-Files, Malcolm in the Middle, Bones) delivering one of his most beautiful pieces as Officer Newton. In the scene, the actor’s smashing monologue confronting Kerry Washington is a powerful instant of captivating acting and writing. 

3) Sara Ramirez, Grey’s Anatomy (2009)
Internationally known for her recurring role in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Callie Torres, Ramirez first started in Musical Theatre and collected a Tony Award for her powerhouse portrayal of Lady of the Lake in Spamalot (2015) on Broadway. Both funny and dramatic, Ramirez always peppers her brilliant work with fantastic emotional nuances. On Grey’s, 241 episodes later, she made her coming out as with the support of her many fans and the LGBTQ community. Additionally, she is an activist and highly campaigns for LGBTQ rights. In this piece, grab your handkerchiefs as her character Dr. Callie Torres goes through the mellow roller coaster relationships of any soap opera as she makes her second coming out to her dad. Short and to the point, it does the job and will stick with you for a while.

 

4) Jim Carrey, Saturday Night Live (1996)
Part of the clowns of Hollywood and splendidly precise and expressive in his work, Canadian-born Jim Carrey has a wide range of acting roles from Ace Ventura and The Mask to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Number 23. Carrey is able to spread his unique facial expressions and authenticity across his filmography and showcases that to viewers all over the world. This monologue from Saturday Night Live and it is probably one of the most stressful, thrilling and spontaneous. Why? Because it happens on Saturday Night Live! The title of the program says it all. As an official host during that special episode of season 21 in 1996, Carrey, in his perfect showman suit, brings us to his over-the-top, fascinating world. 

5) Margaret Reed, Seinfeld (1991)
Former Acting instructor Margaret “Maggie” Reed is a fantastic performer, TV program veteran, and award-winning actress. She made a catchy impression on the ‘The Baby Shower’ episode on Seinfeld as the hysterical Mary Contardi, venting a scathing speech in the face of Jerry Seinfeld himself. An easy looking monologue to perform, yet complicated. Reed vocally bombards Jerry so she can finish what she has to say in a comedic and frightening way. A very passionate performer, she can be seen along with Bobby Cannavale, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro in The Jesus Rolls. Her other noticeable appearances go from As the World Turns, Star Trek, The Golden Girls to Law and Order, The Americans or The Blacklist. Great job Maggie and all the best to you! 

6) Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom (2012)
Leading the cast of HBO’s political drama, The Newsroom, is Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy. The Primetime Emmy Award-winner speaks the words of brilliant creator and writer Aaron Sorkin across three seasons. The main events of the show happen behind the scenes of a fictional news channel, but this pearl of writing and opinionated piece certainly doesn’t. With ease, intelligence and knowledge, Daniels makes us believe in every word demonstrating realistic America and its strength. Notably famous for other major films, 101 Dalmatians, Pleasantville, The Hours and Steve Jobs, Daniels also took the stage and obtained a best actor Tony Nomination for each Broadway credits in God of Carnage, Blackbird and To Kill a Mockingbird.  

7) Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne (1993)
Tour de force Laurie Metcalf is always remembered for her character roles. She has a true gift for making something sad also seem quite boisterous. From her start at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company Family in Chicago and to being a TV guest star chameleon, Metcalf has earned three well-deserved Primetime Emmy Awards for her work on Roseanne. For her supporting roles, she is never the “regular” one, but a character with a twist. In this episode of the ABC hit Roseanne, after the loss of their dad, her character Jackie has to tell the family members and starts with Aunt Barbara, who seems to be very deaf. Speaking on the phone is one of the hardest exercises in stock for actors because you have to be precise in your delivery. 

8) Robin Williams, 77th Academy Awards Ceremony (2005)
The Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, SAG Award, Grammys, he has them all under his belt from his long, inspiring career. A memorable vocal impressionist, risk-taker, and sensitive soul, Williams has put on many hats to showcase his nuances as a performer from the heartfelt and goofy Genie in Disney’s Aladdin and the witty Mrs. Doubtfire. This monologue is his speech obtaining a Cecil B. DeMill Award for his stamp on Hollywood History. Still spontaneous and fun, grateful Williams goes to ‘voices mode’ for our amusement.

9) Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives (2006)
Probably one of the most fun, uptight characters you’d ever adore on the screen is Marcia Cross. Her take on Bree Van de Kamp is a pure joy to watch and rewatch on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. Across the show’s eight seasons, Cross was nominated three times at the Golden Globes and once at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Previously famous in soaps such as One Life to Live, Knots Landing and Melrose Place, she also landed several guest stars roles on major sitcom shows from Cheers, Who’s the Boss, Seinfeld to Murder, She Wrote or, more recently, Quantico playing Madame President. Regal, subtle and very eccentric for Bree, this monologue happens when she and her friends are at her husband’s funeral. There’s certain things she can’t hear, and it will be told with class and diction.

10) Sofia Vergara, Saturday Night Live
Everyone adores the accent of the exquisite Colombian-American Sofia as she has proven to America and the rest of the world that beyond a sparkly accent, her talents make her a Hollywood shining star like any other actress. Four-time Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy-nominee for her fun loud role of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family, she is a prominent character across the show’s eleven seasons. Impressive! Vergara has made tons of appearances on TV including Saturday Night Live (Season 37, Episode 18). She starts off hosting with a very personal speech as an eager dreamer from Colombia ready to reach for the stars but mainly someone who accepts herself for who she is. Big lesson right there; own your accent, never forget where you are from, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t speak English.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here.

Five Nature Photographers Everyone Should Know

The awesome, majestic beauty of nature has given inspiration to photographers since the very beginning of the artform, no doubt evolved from centuries of paintings and drawings that drew upon similar landscapes.

Ansel Adams public domain

Photo: Ansel Adams

Some photographers have made careers out of focusing on nature. Even if your focus is more on portraiture, fashion, or urbanscapes, there is still plenty to learn from the images of these incredibly talented nature photographers:

Gene Stratton-Porter

Born in the late 19th century, Stratton-Porter grew up in Indiana and was an active nature photographer, as well as a novelist and silent-film producer. She was a vocal and strident conservationist, passionate about protecting the vulnerable environments she so lovingly captured in her work.

Ansel Adams

Born in San Francisco, Adams had the chance to live in one of the most naturally diverse states in America, photographing desert, nature, and the ocean scenes in his unique style. Like Stratton-Porter, he was a lifelong environmentalist, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 for his work shooting national parks for the United States Department of the Interior.

Karen Lunney

Lunney is a Brisbane-born, contemporary photographer whose work explores transition, liminal space, and where one thing has ceased and another not yet started. She has won multiple awards for her work, many of which use stark black-and-white photography to capture animals and their migration, as well as ocean shores and the light of sunrise and sunset.

Oriana Koren

Los Angeles-based artist Oriana Koren has exhibited their work in several major publications, and is known for both photographs of food and celebrity portraits, among others; their nature photography however is some of the best in the contemporary scene. Koren uses their background in documentary photography to create embodied, attentive, and lucid imagery from around the world, making for incredible, fully-realized images of nature.

Eliot Porter

Eliot Porter is best known for his vibrant color photographs of nature, but it was birds specifically that first captured his eye as a young, amateur artist. Porter wasn’t just interested in imagery, he also delved deeply into cultural studies of many of the locations he’d capture on film. Porter traveled around the world to photograph ecologically important and culturally significant places, including Utah, Maine, Baja California, the Galápagos Islands, East Africa, Iceland, Mexico, Egypt, China, Czechoslovakia, Antarctica, and ancient Greek sites.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

The Best Animated School TV Series

Schools make for dynamic and popular settings for television series, but perhaps even more so for animated shows since the target audience is usually children. Here is a look at some of the best animated school television series:

Hey Arnold!

Welcome to the life of fourth grader Arnold and the working class problems he, his family, and his neighbors all face while living in the city. The basis for the character was created by Craig Bartlett while he worked on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and drew heavily from his own childhood. The show lasted for five seasons and produced two movies and is still regarded as one of Nickelodeon’s all-time great animated series.

Clone High

Clone High was created by Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Spin City) and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who have since gone on to write and direct hits like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The goofy, slapstick series saw a high school filled with clones of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, JFK, and Gandhi, who, despite their DNA, were modern awkward teenagers. The show featured a stellar voice cast and quickly earned a devout cult following despite only airing for 13 episodes on MTV.

Doug

Winner of four Kids’ Choice Awards, Doug first began on Nickelodeon as one of its original animated series, before getting retooled and moving to Disney’s ABC. The show was a kinder, gentler cartoon compared to other Nickelodeon launch shows like Ren & Stimpy, but gathered a strong, loyal fanbase over time. Doug was eventually adapted into live stage musical as well as an animated feature titled Doug’s 1st Movie in 1999.

Recess 

Created by Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere at Walt Disney Television Animation, this fun and friendly series eventually aired for 126 episodes. The show treated school as a pure microcosm of society, complete with sixth grader King Bob, who demands conformity above all else. The six fourth graders who made up the core ensemble managed to transcend their cliches and make for a fleshed out run that produced one animated feature, Recess: School’s Out, and three direct-to-video sequels: Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street, Recess: All Growed Down and Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade

Daria

Daria has since gone on to become an icon of 1990s alt culture–clever, sarcastic, and acerbic. Daria centered mainly on the personal relationships between Daria and her family, friends, and classmates, with a focus on the juxtaposition between the central character’s jaded, sardonic cynicism and the values/preoccupations of American suburban life. The show’s popularity has endured over time; earlier this year, MTV announced plans to produce multiple spin-offs and sequels of the series.

Magic School Bus

A Canadian-American children animated series based on the book series of the same name by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degren, this vibrant and colorful show fused talented voices led by Lily Tomlin with a fantastical premise to help educate kids through the craziest field trips students could ever imagine. By turning a school staple into a whimsical adventure each week, the show earned a place in the hearts of many young children.

Kim Possible

Annie and Primetime Emmy Award nominated, this Walt Disney Animation series was a critical and commercial hit with a brilliant premise that combined the everyday drama of being a high school student with crime-fighting spy heroics. The show was created by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle and employed several staff writers and freelancers over its four seasons, including New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Screenwriting Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and NYFA-LA Screenwriting instructor Christina Weir.

Sit Down, Shut Up

One of the few animated school series to focus on the faculty rather than the students, Sit Down, Shut Up was Mitch Hurtwitz’s follow up series after the initial cancellation of his award-winning Arrested Development. The voice cast included three alumni from the latter–Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Henry Winkler–as well as other big names like Kristin Chenowith, Will Forte, Tom Kenny, Cheri Oteri, Nick Kroll, and Kenan Thompson. The show stood out for using live action high school backgrounds as well as rapid-fire, fourth wall-breaking jokes that came as such an incredible pace that it made it hard for the Fox Primetime show to find an audience–it was quickly cancelled early in its first season.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

6 Great Online Photo Magazines 

The internet and social media have made the world of photography simultaneously a smaller and a much larger place, creating countless online communities of visual artists who may have never been able to share their work or even collaborate before the digital age.

Photography Camera

Online photo magazines have no doubt sprung up, giving the world no shortage of places to find the work of amateurs and professionals alike. Some are extremely niche; while others are content to showcase the wide spectrum of the genres the medium provides. Here are six of the best photo magazines you can find online:

F-Stop A Photography Magazine

Founded by Christy Karpinski in 2003, this bi-monthly publication features contemporary photography from established and emerging photographers from around the world, with each issue having a theme or idea that unites the work presented to create a dynamic dialogue among the artists.

Social Documentary Network

Launched in 2008, Social Documentary Network (SDN) is for documentary photographers, editors, journalists, NGOs, lovers of photography and focuses on photography that plays an important role in educating people about the world and those curious of the human condition. SDN encourages work about joy, love, happiness, and ordinary life anywhere, as well as both societal problems and their solutions, recovery, peace, reconciliation, and rebuilding–provided the work is authentic, even if that means messy, awkward, filled with contradictions, or lacking answers.

1000 Words

Founded in 2008 by Tim Clark and nominated as Photography Magazine of the Year at the Lucie Awards in 2014 and 2016, this online contemporary photography publication looks to prove the age-old maxim, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The magazine publishes photo book reviews, essays, exhibitions, and interviews that encompass every aspect of the photography world.

Bokeh Bokeh

Bokeh Bokeh was founded by David Garnick and is named after bokeh, the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens that helps separate the subject from the background in photographic works. The online mag features all photographic genres, including fine art, documentary, portraiture, and street, with an emphasis on work that is original, beautiful, and startling. 

Burn

Launched in 2008, Burn is an evolving journal for emerging photographers that is curated by founder and Magnum co-operative member David Alan Harvey. This uplifting artistic magazine showcases photos full of hope, eagerness, and a desire to share in one another’s experience, publishing new stories or singles at least two times per week.

LensCulture

LensCulture has a simple, self-described mission: to discover the best of contemporary photography and share it with the largest audience possible. For over fifteen years, this magazine has been highlighting creatives and professionals in the industry, from over 160 countries, seeking to boost their exposure to the larger community through awards, exhibitions in major cities, festival screenings, and books.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

10 Amazingly Acted Monologues on Films

Whether on stage, television, or film, a great monologue is one of the best gifts a performer can be given. It allows the performer to showcase themselves and focus all their talent and stamina into a page or more of lines and emotion. Many techniques can be used depending on the material and scene, as well as the direction given prior to the take. One thing is for sure, having an objective is key for making your monologue stand out (An action verb or adverb can be helpful, for example). 

Great inspiration can be found in some of the best-acted monologues ever recorded on film, including the following:

Katharine Hepburn in Adam’s Rib
Director George Cukor directs this classic poignant romantic comedy, released in 1949, which tells the story of Amanda and Adam Bonner (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) working as opposite lawyers on the case of a woman who shot her husband. Every word in this key monologue delivered by Hepburn is imbued with meaning, leaving audiences stunned even after the scene has moved on. The adverbs could be: to advise, to enlighten, to educate, to guide.

Cate Blanchett in The Lords of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Enter Middle-earth with Galadriel’s intriguing voice-over monologue. In The Lords of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, this installment speech sets the tone of the adventurous trilogy. Versatile actress Cate Blanchett both wears the hats of the character elf and narrator with brio. All done with regality, the lecture of the premises of the story is told with empowerment and voice specificity. Here, Blanchett engages, hypnotizes, spellbinds, and entrances.

Peter Finch in Network
Winner of four Oscars in 1977, Sydney Lumet’s Network is regarded as one of Hollywood’s greatest films, and contains the memorable line, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!” Peter Finch’s character Howard Beale is a mentally ill network TV anchor who, instead of struggling privately, is doing so on camera for all the world to see. As a performer, Finch needed to make sure his character’s monologues would move audiences within the movie, so it’s no surprise the audiences watching were moved and riveted. Here, Finch provokes, activates, incites, and triggers the audience.

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator
Charlie Chaplin is best known as a silent film star, but in 1940, Chaplin gave a powerful spoken performance in The Great Dictator, a dramatic comedy that takes on the Nazi government in the midst of the Second World War. The film ends with an incredibly written and gripping speech, where Chaplin’s Jewish Barber speaks in front of national television with tremendous passion and truth that was clearly being directed not just to the audience within the film, but also the one watching it from without. To awaken, to push, to fire, to motivate are some of the many striking verbs used by the unique actor. The following link showcases the clip and its script below.

Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road
Exactly ten years after Titanic, star duo Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio were back together as a couple aspiring for a better life in this mid-50s drama from visionary director Sam Mendes. Their chemistry was as strong as ever, despite being a totally different beast from the melodramatic blockbuster. Winslet is a bundle of raw nerves in a powerful monologue where her vulnerability works not just as a shield but as a weapon. The film earned five nominations at the Academy Awards including ‘Best Screenplay’ and ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role.’ Here, Winslet seeks to awaken, to push, to fire, to motivate are some of many striking verbs used by the unique actor. 

Viola Davis in Fences
The adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer-Prize winning Fences directed by and starring Denzel Washington showed movie audiences that theatre-goers had already known when they saw Washington and Davis play the lead couple on Broadway. Both won Tony Awards for their performance, and Davis won the Academy Award for the film adaptation. Her character Rose Maxson is both a specific person and the embodiment of an entire generation of women of color struggling to take care of their families in the mid-20th century. Listen up to what Rose Maxson has to uncover, unleash, liberate, unchain in this monologue. 

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Ledger famously won an Academy Award posthumously for his iconic performance as Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker. Ledger embodied the role like no other, with even the most subtle facial expressions speaking a thousand words. However, when he was given time to give full speeches, Ledger really shines, especially in his final monologue delivered upside down; his grand scheme may have been thwarted but Ledger’s Joker doesn’t feel like he’s lost–he’s merely playing his part in an eternal struggle between good and evil, reveling in the chaos as he hangs helplessly stories above the ground. See how Ledger frightens, bullies, terrorizes or savors.

Glenn Close in Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Glenn Close is considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation, if not ever, and that talent is on full display in a monologue delivered in Stephen Frears’s adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, co-starring John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, and Keanu Reeves. Close’s mastery of vulnerability, femininity, sexuality, and emotional manipulation makes for one of the most incredible monologues ever delivered. Here, Close wants to strip, to eradicate, and to abolish.

Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting made a star out of writer and actor Matt Damon, who plays an emotionally tortured, working-class genius alongside a career-defining performance from Robin Williams. Damon. His “NSA” monologue is a smooth piece of editing as it continues from one scene to another, and showed movie audiences just how talented a performer Matt Damon truly was and continues to be today. In this scene, Damon wants to release, to unfasten, to relieve, and to free.

Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard
Gloria Swanson gave the performance of a lifetime in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, playing a faded silent movie star in the Golden Era of Hollywood sound films. Swanson herself was a silent film star, nominated for Best Actress at the very first Academy Awards, and had a lot of real-life experience to draw upon for the role. While on its surface her character can be seen as a cartoonish version of her real-life self, there is a great deal of dimension and subtlety to the performance, all on display in her final monologue near the end of the film. Now, gather around to enter the captivating world of Norma Desmond as she venerates, denies, favors, and reveres.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

7 Great Live Action & School Shows TV Series  

It’s been said most television sitcoms can fall into three categories–shows about friends, shows about a family, or shows about a workplace. Many dramas typically fall under one of these categories as well. One location that’s seen it’s fair share of television series is the school, which can be a mixture of all three.

Here are some of the classic live action television series about school:

Community

Dan Harmon’s show about a group of misanthropes who form a study group at a community college quickly became a cult favorite, and lasted five seasons on NBC before getting cancelled and renewed for a sixth season by Yahoo! Screen. The show, which revelled in both referencing and subverting all things pop culture, launched and boosted several careers, including comedy veteran Chevy Chase, Alison Brie, and Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino.

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks, a period drama about high school outcasts in 1980, also launched multiple careers, including Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, producer Judd Apatow, and creator Paul Feig. No wonder the one-season wonder picked up an Emmy for Outstanding Casting in a Comedy. The show had the hallmarks of Apatow’s and Feig’s future work–pop culture-referencing humor with a ton of heart.

Glee

The memorable pilot for Glee launched a new wave of musicals on television, including Smash, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and live performances of famous musicals. The show worked with high school stereotypes like jocks, cheerleaders, and nerds, but over six seasons it shaded its characters with a ton of depth. Glee covered nearly every social issue a high schooler might encounter, as well as covered hundreds of famous pop, rock, and musical numbers. The show, which included NYFA alumni Chord Overstreet and Naya Rivera–the latter as the deviously talented Santana Lopez–also wore its progressive heart on its sleeve, and was praised for its three-dimensional LGBTQIA+ and other diverse characters.

Friday Night Lights

Adapted from the 2004 film by Peter Berg, itself adapted from the nonfiction book by H.G.Bissinger, this NBC drama ran for five seasons, earning critical acclaim throughout its run. Like its source material, the show was based around a Texas town’s obsession with high school football, but quickly transcended that material to become a grounded, fully-realized portrayal of working class families. The show, and its characters, wasn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve, and from time to time punctuated its character drama with breathtaking football action and laugh-out-loud comedic beats.

Saved by the Bell

Originally a workplace vehicle for Hayley Mills about middle school called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the show was renamed Saved by the Bell in season two and re-tooled to be about the students, now in high school, led by the charismatic Zack Morris. The show became both a syndication and Saturday morning staple for an entire generation, and has persisted in pop culture through TV movies and spin-offs like The College Years and The New Class.

My So-Called Life

In 1994, ABC aired this teen drama that lasted for only a season but dealt with several major issues for teens in the 90s in its short time, from drug use to alcoholism to school violence. The show launched the careers of Jared Leto and Claire Danes; the latter winning a Golden Globe for her lead role. 

Veronica Mars

The first season of Veronica Mars was a murder mystery whodunnit with a clever gimmick–what if the hard-boiled private eye was a teenage girl? Suspects and witnesses came from every clique in high school as the title character navigated a murder investigation with her homework and dating life. Kristen Bell’s winning performance as well the show’s shocking twists and clever, snappy dialogue, made the show a cult hit. It lasted another two seasons before being cancelled, but was brought back to life as a feature film and most recently with another season of TV.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

9 Great Pirates Movies That Beat Walking the Plank

Pirate films aren’t as ubiquitous as westerns, but they’ve been a key part of Hollywood adventure films for just as long. Between the high seas action and swashbuckling anti-heros, audiences can’t resist a good pirate movie. 

Whether you’re celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day or just looking for a fun popcorn adventure, here are some of the best pirate films Hollywood has to offer:

Muppet Treasure Island

When Robert Louis Stevenson published his novel Treasure Island in 1883, he practically invented the entire pirate genre, including such staples as treasure maps, buried treasure, peglegs, parrots, and “X marks the spot.” The novel has been adapted countless times and in nearly every medium, so it was natural for Jim Henson’s Muppets to tell the story in their own charming way. Brian Henson, Jim’s son, directed this musical adventure comedy, which featured live-action stars Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, and Tim Curry as Long John Silver.


Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney executives weren’t sure what to make of Johnny Depp’s one-of-a-kind performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in a movie adapted from a theme park ride, but once the original Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl became a monster hit in 2003, what they thought didn’t really matter. Depp’s performance instantly minted a new iconic character, and earned him an Academy Award nomination. The film and its four sequels set a high standard for incredible special effects and epic filmmaking, and have earned several Oscar nominations in addition to Depp’s.

The Pirate

If you’re looking for a romance from Hollywood’s Golden era, this is the pirate film you want. Judy Garland and Gene Kelly teamed up for Vincente Minnelli’s 1948 musical romance, which tells the tale of a woman who dreams about the legendary pirate Macoco. A traveling singer falls in love with her and poses as the pirate to win her heart.

Waterworld

Waterworld, the most expensive film ever made at the time of its release in 1995, takes place in a dystopian future when the ice caps have melted and all of Earth is covered in ocean. The villains of Kevin Costner’s action epic are a mix between classic pirates and apocalyptic oil-slicked Mad Max villains, raiding what little remains of civilization from weaponized jet skis and the Exxon Valdez to pirate and plunder food, gas, and fresh water. Hopper relishes his role as a futuristic pirate, giving maximum intensity in his performance and even sporting an eyepatch.


Captain Blood

Errol Flynn is the definitive Robin Hood for many cinephiles, but for many he’s also the definitive pirate. In fact, Captain Blood, directed by Michael Curtiz, was Flynn’s first Hollywood role. Captain Blood is one of several adaptations of the 1922 novel of the same name, and tells the story of an enslaved doctor and his fellow prisoners who escape imprisonment and become pirates in the West Indies. The 1935 film made stars of Flynn and his then-unknown romantic lead, Olivia de Havilland, and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The Goonies

Produced and based on a story by Steven Spielberg; director/producer Richard Donner and screenwriter Chris Columbus paired for this family adventure comedy, now a modern classic and launching pad for familiar faces like Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, and Martha Plimpton. The story focuses on poor kids from Oregon who attempt to save their homes from foreclosure with an old treasure map that takes them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate.

Hook

Master director Steven Spielberg was also able to indulge in the pirate genre through the meta sequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Hook’s plot concerns a middle-aged Pan (Robin Williams), who is forced back to Neverland to rescue his two children from the clutches of stereotypical pirates led by Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook. Bob Hoskins makes a memorable impression as Hook’s first mate, Smee, and the film includes numerous high-profile cameos, including Glenn Close as the bearded pirate, Gutless. Everyone delights in chewing as much scenery as possible, which made the pirate antics all the more fun.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is most certainly not a popcorn movie, but rather the harrowing true story of real-life pirates who, to this day, prey on tankers containing millions of dollars of cargo. Paul Greengrass directs Tom Hanks as the captain of the Maersk Alabama, who was taken hostage for days along with his crew. The film received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi, who in his first role ever, improvised the now-infamous line, “I’m the Captain, now.”

Treasure Island (1934)

Since this list began with a Treasure Island adaptation, it might as well end with one, and a great one at that. The black-and-white film was directed by Oscar-winner Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz) and starred Jackie Cooper, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore. While the special effects aren’t quite as sharp as today’s CGI, you’ll still find all the thrills that come along with a solid pirate adventures.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Getting Yourself Ready for Your International Acting Audition

New York Film Academy (NYFA) boasts a diverse, international student body with aspiring performers and visual artists coming from over 120 countries, with campuses and locations around the globe. Students studying at NYFA are gaining experience from day one that will help them later on as professionals in the industry–working with international collaborators.

Whether Americans auditioning abroad, or international actors auditioning in the United States, there are certain extra steps to take when preparing for your international acting audition. Here are some of them:

international map plane

Your website

A personal, polished website is incredibly important as your digital calling card, and you should make sure it is available to the most amount of people. Since Hollywood, New York, Australia, and the UK are major hubs for film work, it goes without saying that in addition to your native language, your website should be available in English. Ideally, you can even add extensions that translate your site into multiple languages, in case any auditions pop up in Paris or Tokyo, for example!

Your reel

The same goes for your reel. Adding subtitles is a smart idea and relatively simple, but you can do more. A reel should broadly showcase your talents, and for international auditions, you should include various accents as well, to show you are adaptable to projects in different locations. Put all your talent out there for the industry to see.

Familiarize yourself

If you are auditioning in a location you’re not too knowledgeable about, you should familiarize yourself with major works and names from that region. For example, if you are auditioning for a French production, learning the masters of French cinema, as well as contemporary French actors and actresses, will be a huge plus because it will allow you to be on the same page when communicating with producers, directors, and casting directors. 

Use the internet

While sites like Backstage.com are an invaluable research tool in New York and Los Angeles (and even London), it’s not as useful in locales like Paris or Sydney. Don’t despair though–every major city and region will have similar sites to help you find auditions and gigs. Using a search engine to find these services shouldn’t be too difficult, but you can always start simple with Craigslist, Facebook, and other international websites that know no borders.

Get your passport ready

Make sure you have a valid passport that hasn’t expired, because you never know when your agent might call with the perfect gig. It would be a shame if it turns out you’re unable to fly to the shoot and perform, so always be prepared to jump on a flight–you can learn your lines overnight, but you can’t get a passport that quickly! 

If you’re interested in attending the acting school at New York Film Academy, you can find more information on our programs here.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Tips to Become an Audiobook Narrator

Audiobooks have become an increasingly popular medium with the advent of smartphones and apps like Audible that have evolved into the literary equivalent of Netflix and Hulu. Indeed, many great voice actors are now–reading or performing novels, short stories, biographies, Shakespeare, and everything else that can be transcribed into audio.

These voice actors have to treat their auditions and jobs differently than film or stage actors. Here are five tips for actors who are interested in audiobook narration.

Mic Microphone Recording Studio

Create a unique demo

No different than a reel, a voice demo is your primary tool to present your work and skillset. The quality of the audio is perhaps even more important than if it were a video reel, and including a diverse array of genres and media will show your range and capabilities. Be sure to update your demo regularly to keep it fresh and relevant.

Get some lip balm 

Staying hydrated is one major thing to never forget as an actor, especially for voice actors. But quenching your thirst with a constantly full bottle of water isn’t all it takes–you’ll need to make sure your lips stay just as moist as your tongue and throat. Keep moisturizing lip balm in your bag and don’t forget to keep it close to you and your mic while in the recording booth.

Preserve your stamina

Audiobooks can be incredibly lengthy–A Dance with Dragonsthe 1,016 page-long fifth book in the Game of Thrones is 48 hours and 55 minutes long, for example. Since obviously a project like this wouldn’t be finished in a single recording session, an actor will need to prepare for hours of exercising your voice. Everything from smoking to eating cheese could have an effect on your vocal cords, so doing everything you can–including minimizing speech leading up to the recording session–is important. You’ll also need plenty of rest and sleep to make sure your energy never wanes during these epic recording sessions.

Read More

Reading more books in the genre you’re recording, whether it’s mystery novels or military histories, will help you get a feel for the rhythm of the writing, something you will be translating in your own tone and cadence. Of course, the best thing to do before an audiobook recording is to read the actual book you’ll be working on–that way no surprises show up, whether they are tough pronunciations or an author’s awkward sentence structure. Unless you’re doing a cold reading, you normally would review a script before performing it; audiobooks are no different.

Communication

Behind every great audiobook is a great director, monitoring their performers closely from the control room, or perhaps even from within the recording booth itself. Make sure to take their direction closely, and also to work collaboratively with them–like any other performance, two-way communication with your director is key to bringing out your best. This is especially important in fiction audiobooks, where often you’ll be performing scenes that would fit right in on a stage.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

5 Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read

Graphic Design is one of the most exciting fields to work in these days, and while there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to supplement your graphic design studies, it still pays to read good, old-fashioned, books on the subject.

Graphic Design

Here are some of the books (whether it’s in print or on your e-reader), that every graphic designer or aspiring graphic designer should read:

Thinking With Type
by Ellen Lupton

Perfect for editors, typographers, writers, publishers, and students who want to learn the best use of font for branding and other uses, this beautifully written visual guide provides the latest information on style, font licensing, captions, lining, and details such as the use of small caps or enlarged capitals–all neatly organized in three chapters that are easy to consume. 

A Smile in the Mind
by Beryl McAlhone 

London-based writer McAlhone has a special interest in design that makes this an essential and resourceful book. Highlighting esteemed works from international designers from Japan, Europe, United States, and Great Britain, this entry takes you through hundreds of visuals and illustrations that will no doubt inspire the reader.

Multicolour
by viction:ary

A marvelous source for both amateurs and masters, Multicolour showcases an expansive library of themes, titles, and more. Like many of the books on graphic design, turning each page offers an emotional voyage of color that is as much fun for your eyes as informative for your brain. The palette series includes black & white, gold & silver, neon, and its most recent, pastels.

Logo Modernism (Design)
by Jens Müller

This book focuses on the architecture, art, and product design, of the modernist movement that had its peak from 1940 to 1980. Using around 6000 brand names and their history, Logo Modernism is an incomparable resource for designers, publicists, and brand specialists, as well as those who have a passionate interest in the social and cultural history of 20th century corporation and consumerism. 

Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms
by Alex Fowkes

An impressive showcase of the work 72 typography creators who have designed a diverse array of fonts for posters, packaging, boards, and more. At the end of the publication, a notebook can be found suggesting exercises that graphic designers will find incredibly useful.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

5 Books on Photography Everyone Should Read

While there are plenty of YouTube tutorials and other digital media on every minutiae of photography, sometimes it helps to turn to good old-fashioned books. Whether it’s on equipment, fundamentals, or specific artists, there are countless books every photographer can learn from. Here are just a few you should check out next time you’re at the library or browsing through Amazon:

Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment
by National Geographic Society

Women of Vision showcases the stunning work of women photographers from the first decade of the 21st century, from the Iraq War to the Jersey Shore and everything in between. The riveting results of photo assignments presented here are introduced by National Geographic editor-in-chief Chris Johns, with a foreword by journalist Ann Curry.

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer
by Vivian Maier

Many people discovered photographer Vivian Maier through the 2013 documentary Finding Vivian Maier, but this book allows you to spend as much time as you need with each of her indelible images. The street photographer with a one-of-a-kind point of view only became well-known posthumously, but her work is now immortal in the pages of this work.

Yonkeros
by Jaime Permuth

For those looking for a more specific collection of photos, look no further than Yonkeros, a series of works by New York Film Academy instructor
Jaime Permuth documenting the “Iron Triangle,” an area of New York filled with scrapyards. The photos bring to life an overlooked world where first-world trash is recycled and handled by working class people who live and work in the Iron Triangle.

The Lens: A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer
by N.K. Guy

This simple yet informative book is a straightforward guide for all types of photographers looking for the right lens for the right image. While it may not serve as a beach read, it’s a great reference to keep on your shelf that you can turn to when planning your next shoot.

The Photographer’s Story: The Art of Visual Narrative
by Michael Freeman

Once you’ve mastered the technical fundamentals of photography, you’ll still need to learn how to present your art in a meaningful and engaging way that does your images, and your story justice. The book is a thoroughly modern one, working in how digital media, online galleries, tablets, and the trend of photo-essays all come into play when figuring out how to showcase your work in the contemporary scene.

photography tips and hacks

Keeping photography books in your library is always a good idea–but of course everything starts with a solid background in the art and craft of the medium. If you’re interested in studying photography, check out the programs New York Film Academy has to offer here.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

6 Essential Books on Musical Theatre

While books have seemingly taken a backseat to everything from YouTube videos to audiobooks, they are still an invaluable resource to supplement your musical theatre education, especially when it comes to the history of the stage and the biggest names behind the biggest works.

Musical Theatre

Here are some must-read books for musical theatre performers–both informative and a great way to pass the time when you’re resting your voice. 

Broadway Babies: The People Who Made the American Musical 
by Ethan Mordden

Recounting the development of the American musical comedy genre, this history is as entertaining as the song-and-dance productions it describes. The book features musical legends including Florenz Ziegfeld, Harold Prince, Bert Lahr, Gwen Verdon, Angela Lansbury, Victor Herbert, Liza Minnelli, and Stephen Sondheim, and explores shows with staying power like Anything Goes, Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Follies, and Chicago, to offer a rich account of a beloved but often overlooked American staple.

Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops
by Ken Mandelbaum

This book explores the various how’s and why’s that led to dozens of Broadway musicals that seemed like surefire hits to flop hard at the box office. Mandlebaum is both objective and generous though, finding the positives where he can in shows whose failures could have simply been a product of bad luck and timing. Published in 1992, the book doesn’t describe the infamous Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, but after reading it, you may have an idea of why even Marvel failed on Broadway.

The Vocal Athlete
by Wendy D. Leborgne and Marci Rosenberg

Musical theatre can push the human voice to its limits, and The Vocal Athlete is written specifically to help performers meet the high demands for a sustainable career on stage, providing ideal tools and exercises to help preserve vocal wellness. When it comes to taking care your most important asset, you’ll want all the help you can.

How Sondheim Found His Sound
by Steve Swayne

This highly-praised book is a biography of one of Broadway’s biggest icons–Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist behind works like Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Follies, and Sunday in the Park with George. Knowing Sondheim’s work and what makes the artist tick is key to understanding the very nature of Broadway, and Swayne’s book is a perfect way into his world and understanding how one of the greats came to be.

The Complete Phantom of the Opera
by George Perry

The Phantom of the Opera has cemented its place in Broadway history as an iconic musical, but its roots go much farther than Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 masterpiece. This definitive account of The Phantom of the Opera recounts the history of the work from its historical origins to Gaston Leroux’s classic novel that inspired Webber’s version, as well as the story’s other incarnations in between. All of this is supplemented with beautiful photography that include images from the production itself.

Up in the Cheap Seats: A Historical Memoir of Broadway
by Ron Fassler

Up in the Cheap Seats is a truly original take on Broadway, looking at it as a fan from the ground up, or rather in Fassler’s case, from the cheap seats down. By imbuing the history of Broadway and hundreds of its productions from the personal point-of-view of an actor in his youth, along with the dozens of people he met along the way backstage, the book gives a memorable but relatable and unique take on the musical theatre scene from a heartfelt place of true love.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

10 Great Screenplays from 1999

Many great films are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year–1999 is considered one of the best years in recent history for quality cinema. Great films don’t always begin with great screenplays–many elements come into play before a movie hits theaters that could give it its silver screen magic. But these ten fantastic movies from 1999 were solid from the start, and they started from a great screenplay:

Short Script

The Matrix

Lilly and Lana Wachowski followed up their low-budget erotic thriller Bound with a film that would single-handedly reshape the Hollywood landscape to this day, The Matrix. An action and science fiction original script depicting a dystopian society trapped into simulated reality, the film was also inspired by Japanese animation and martial arts films. The inventive use of CGI and “bullet-time” would blow audiences away, but one can only imagine what producers pictured seeing the screenplay without any visual context.

Being John Malkovich 

This head trip of a comedy was the feature film debut for both director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. After completing the script, which involves a puppeteer commandeering the body of real-life actor John Malkovich (played by himself), Kaufman sent the script to director Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola passed it along to his daughter, filmmaker Sofia Coppola, who was married at the time to Jonze, who subsequently fell in love with the story. Kaufman later wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind while Jonze directed Her; the two collaborated again for Adaptation, which featured scenes on the set of–where else–Being John Malkovich

Magnolia

Eight-time Academy Award nominee Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, The Phantom Thread), both directed and wrote this American epic drama that boasted an A-list cast: Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, and Alfred Molina, among others. Anderson and his cast make this incredible film a mosaic in search of happiness, forgiveness, and meaning in California’s San Fernando Valley. The film earned three nominations at the 2000 Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay. It is also the final feature film role of Oscar winner Jason Robards.

Toy Story 2

Nearly every animated sequel from Disney in the 90s was straight-to-video, so the first sequel from Pixar, a theatrical release, had a large burden to carry. Not only that, but it was a sequel to the universally beloved film that launched the studio into the stratosphere–the 1995 classic Toy Story. Disney and Pixar took no chances and assembled a team of skilled writers for the screenplay to Toy Story 2, including John Lasseter (A Bug’s Life), Pete Docter (Up), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), Ash Brannon (Surf’s Up), Rita Hsiao (Mulan), and Doug Chamberlin & Chris Webb (Bruno the Kid), using the original film’s characters created by Joe Ranft. Their efforts paid off as the film was very well-received and spawned an even more cherished sequel in 2010’s Toy Story 3, as well as the upcoming Toy Story 4.

Eyes Wide Shut

Iconic filmmaker Stanley Kubrick died in 1999, just months before the release of his final completed film, Eyes Wide Shut. His oeuvre was diverse, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket, starring Matthew Modine. Eyes Wide Shut was an erotic psychological drama and mystery starring one of Hollywood’s biggest power couples of the time–Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The script was adapted from Traumnovelle, the 1926 novella by Arthur Schnizler, and was co-written by Kubrick and Academy Award winner Frederic Raphael.

10 Things I Hate About You

Teen comedies come out consistently and often in Hollywood–they cost relatively very little money to make and they’re geared towards a prime demographic. But very few end up classics, remembered decades after their release. 10 Things I Hate About You is one of those classics, beloved by both teens and adults. It helped launch the careers of Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles and featured a supporting cast of very familiar faces. The screenplay came from writing team Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth) and was adapted from William Shakespeare of all people, in this case his play The Taming of the Shrew. Compare the two titles together and you’ll even see they rhyme!

The Sixth Sense

Night Shyamalan showed the world he was a master of suspense when his directorial debut The Sixth Sense was released (though it wasn’t his first screenplay.) While his chops behind the camera immediately drew comparisons to great directors like Steven Spielberg, the most famous elements of the film come from the script itself, including lines like “I see dead people” and the shocking twist ending.

Boys Don’t Cry

Kimberley Peirce’s debut feature was adapted from her 1995 short film of the same name and tells the real story of Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank), a transgender teenage boy from Nebraska who moves to Falls City and befriends a local gang. Struggling with his sexual identity, Brandon falls in love with Lana (Chloë Sevigny) before being sexually assaulted and murdered by his former friends after they find out he was born female. The harrowing story earned Swank an Oscar and Sevigny an Academy Award nomination, with the powerful performances rooted in Peirce’s stark and emotive screenplay.

Fight Club

This first feature written by Jim Uhls (Jumper) was adapted from the novel of the same by Chuck Palahniuk, and may be one of the rare cases where a movie is better than the book. The screenplay makes many smart choices in its adaptation, which features one of the most unreliable narrators in cinematic history. Palahniuk supported the adaptation but didn’t want to be involved as a screenwriter, so Cameron Crowe, Andrew Kevin Walker, director David Fincher, and even film leads Brad Pitt and Edward Norton–uncredited–worked on the five revised drafts.  

American Beauty

Of all the great films from 1999, American Beauty would be the one crowned Best Picture by the Academy. It also picked up four other Oscars, including Best Screenplay for writer Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood.) The satire of suburban upper middle class life was first conceived to be seen on a theatre stage, though the concept grew to finally be sold to its distributor DreamWorks Pictures. Executive producer Steven Spielberg wanted to do it without changing a single word and personally recommended Sam Mendes as a director after David Lynch, Mike Nichols, and Terry Gilliam turned down the chance.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

5 Great Fireworks Scenes in Movies

The Fourth of July means many things to many people, but one thing nearly everyone thinks about on Independence Day are the fireworks. They’re loud, they’re big, and they’re beautiful–so of course they grab our attention, and of course they are a great way to convey action, celebration, and emotion in a visual medium, including film.

Here are five great uses of fireworks in cinema:

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Before several hours of over-the-top groundbreaking cinematic action take place in Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy saga, we get a light show thanks to Gandalf the Wizard and some mischievous hobbits. Gandalf recounts the notable battle between Bilbo and Smaug (later depicted in its own trilogy of blockbusters) with the use of crowd-pleasing fireworks, which goes awry once Merry and Pippin bungle things up and set more off than they can handle.


Brokeback Mountain

One of the most powerful dramas ever made, the background use of fireworks by visionary director Ang Lee serve a more subtle purpose than usual. Ennis (Heath Ledger) is a married father struggling with the love he has for another man. When he faces a pair of drunk, troublemaking bikers who challenge him and his wife, Ennis saves the day and beats them in an affirmation of his traditional masculinity. With the fireworks blazing behind him, it seems like a perfect patriotic cheering moment, but masks the unconventional road Ennis’s life has taken.

Oz the Great and Powerful

“Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” The Sam Raimi-directed, James Franco-starring sequel had a lot to live up to when it was released nearly 75 years after its predecessor, The Wizard of Oz. That classic film used bright technicolor to bestow wonder on its cinematic audience. Oz the Great and Powerful attempts to do the same with a fiery explosion of color during the heightened climactic battle between the good and the wicked.  

Land of the Dead

Zombie godfather George Romero’s long-awaited third sequel to Night of the Living Dead introduced some novel concepts to the franchise of brain-eating ghouls. One was a zombie-proof tank of a vehicle called Dead Reckoning that used “sky flowers” to distract hordes of the undead. By firing fireworks straight into the sky, the living could buy themselves some time as the zombies gawked up in slackjawed awe–Romero’s films are often a critique on actual, breathing humans, and this metaphor might not be too far off.

Mulan

The final battle between Disney warrior Mulan and villain Shan Yu is an epic climax and one of the most memorable scenes in the film. Fireworks are used for good triumphing over evil–a classic trope used with simple yet bombastic fanfare. Fireworks were also invented in China and are an important part of Chinese culture, bringing poignancy to the scene. Will the planned 2020 live action remake outdo this explosive sequence? We’ll soon find out…

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Actors That Didn’t Get the Part and Bounced Back Better Than Ever

For actors, auditioning for parts is a numbers game–the more you audition, the better shot you have at being cast in a role that’s just right for you. This numbers game also means there are a lot more no’s than yes’s, and that goes for just about any actor, even world famous megastars and Oscar-winners. For many of these stars, they worked their way up to the A-list from the very bottom, coming close to a star-making turn that just wasn’t meant to be.

Kate Winslet

Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Shakespearean adaptation Romeo + Juliet cast Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the doomed title couple. Kate Winslet was up for the role but missed out on the chance to star in an epic romance with DiCaprio… at least until a year later when she was cast by James Cameron to star in Best Picture and box office record smasher Titanic.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Winslet’s casting as Titanic’s Rose meant another actress was out of luck–Gwyneth Paltrow. However, that probably freed her up to audition for other films, including Shakespeare in Love, which won Best Picture a year after Titanic. Two decades later, Paltrow appeared in another box office juggernaut, Avengers: Endgame, which recently broke Titanic’s record and could be the highest grossing film of all time by the end of the summer.

Henry Cavill

Cavill had a few roles to his name before being cast as ultimate superhero Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel, but he would have been a lot more familiar to movie audiences a lot sooner if he had won another iconic role–James Bond. When 007 producers were looking to reboot the spy franchise in 2005, several young actors were considered, including Cavill, who made it to a shortlist that included Hugh Jackman, Karl Urban, and Goran Višnjić. According to director Martin Campbell, Cavill was seriously considered for the role, but at 22 years old, was too young. However, it’s not too late for him to land the role in the future

007 James Bond

Renée Zellweger

Zellweger was considered for the role of Satine in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge but Nicole Kidman was cast instead. Zellweger bounced back quickly though, scoring the lead role in the beloved adaptation of Bridget Jones’s Diary, for which she received her first Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. The successful franchise returned in 2004 with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Bridget Jones’s Baby in 2016. Most recently, Zellweger wrapped up biopic Judy in which she plays Judy Garland.

Tom Hiddleston

Hiddleston was close to being cast as Norse god Thor in the title Marvel film, so close that he even filmed screen tests with a prop hammer and blond wig. The role ultimately went to Chris Hemsworth, but Hiddleston didn’t leave empty-handed–he scored the role of Thor’s brother, Loki. Over the course of three Thor films and three Avengers films, Loki has become a fan-favorite anti-hero and Hiddleston a Hollywood A-list household name.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Mastering the 7 Stages of Film Production

A film is a living, breathing thing, and like all living things, from plants to humans, they start from something small before growing into its final form. If you’re struggling to figure out where to begin when making your movie, or what to do after that, or what to do after that, take a breath and look over this basic map of the 7 Stages of Film Production:

Development

The development period belongs to the project producer, who starts gathering the ideas of the film–rights from books, plays etc., if needed–until the final draft of the screenplay is completed. During this time, a first synopsis is done which will help the lead producer sell the idea and raise funds. Often storyboards other visual aids will be drafted to accompany the script and help the producer communicate the essence of the film.

Financing

Networking and making meetings, often in Los Angeles and to a lesser extent New York, is how many producers will meet with possible financiers. Additionally, a lot of producers travel to festivals, both domestic and international to show the project materials to possible investors.

Pre-production

With enough funding in hand, pre-production can begin, starting with the selection of the cast, crew, locations of the shoot, building of sets and props etc. Shot lists and put together and the producer starts working on a schedule for the entire shoot, starting broad and getting more specific as production begins to ramp up.

Production

The assistant director (AD) shines during production as the actual footage is filmed by coordinating all the different teams at once. Actors, possibly after days or weeks of rehearsing, finally shoot their scenes as the production crew–grips, lighting, sound, camera, etc. work hard to make every second count and shot look as great as possible. Writers and producers may be on set but it’s the director who is calling all the shots creatively–with their AD making sure they’re sticking to the schedule and getting the footage they need before it’s time to move on.

Post-production

This where the editor comes into play, and if the budget is big enough, visual effects teams.

In collaboration with the director, editors begin to assemble takes and shots and create a linear film based out hours of footage. For bigger productions, teasers can be done during this time in order to start marketing. A music composer comes in to orchestrate the score of the movie as final cut begins to loom. Sound design and color direction are important elements during this time as well, and culminate in picture lock–the final edit of the film.

Marketing

In the case of a major production company, teasers are already out to promote the release date of the film. In other scenarios, promotional posters, festivals screenings, and social media are best to help generate buzz for the film. If the production is small, the creatives involved with the film may have to wear this hat whether they like it or not, though it’s possible for producers to outsource to small marketing companies that do this for a living.

Cannes Red Carpet


Distribution

Theatrical distribution is typically divided between domestic and international and involves agreements with production companies to pay for the film to screen at physical theatres. Previously, producers would also concentrate their efforts on how the films would be made into physical copies of VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray and make deals with video rental chains, but nowadays streaming is king. While smaller filmmakers may try to get on as many platforms as possible–Amazon Video, Hulu, Netflix, etc.–getting an exclusive deal with a single platform may be more lucrative, especially if it comes with promotion on the platform’s end. Hand in hand with marketing, promotion for the film during its release is also key, including press interviews, red carpet premieres, and other launch parties.

After all of this, it’s time to get started on your next film!

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

7 Perfect Films for Father’s Day

Fathers and father figures have been a storytelling trope for millennia, from oral traditions passed generation by generation, to the earliest written epics and sagas. Cinema, of course, is no different.

Here’s a look back at some of the best films to watch on or around Father’s Day:

 

Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio is one of Disney’s earliest animation features, and follows a puppet who was given life by a fairy after his creator, Geppetto, wished upon a star. After a sometimes heartbreaking journey and reunion, Pinocchio is transformed from a living marionette into a real boy, and Geppetto becomes his true father.

 

The Kid (1921)

This American comedy-drama silent classic focuses on the simple yet powerful journey of a tramp (Charlie Chaplin) who finds a baby on a street and takes it upon himself to look after him. Their special relationship grows through a very physical series of unfortunate circumstances and showcase a lovable and energetic father figure with a very turbulent child sidekick (Jackie Coogan). 

 

Mary Poppins (1964)

Magical nanny Mary Poppins comes to a London house to help raise the children of Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson), a strict disciplinarian. While he initially seems cold and harsh, his deeply sentimental and sincere love of his kids eventually shines through with some help from Poppins.

 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The third entry in the Indiana Jones trilogy is decidedly more lighthearted and comedic than its darker predecessors, and a lot of that comes from the bickering relationship Indy has with his bookwork father, played by Sean Connery. The Spielberg film finds its heart in their relationship though, as ultimately they both realize they need each other even more than they do the Holy Grail.

 

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Robin Williams is in peak form in this family classic, playing a divorced dad who misses spending time with his three kids. His solution is outside-the-box, using heavy prosthetics, he transforms into elderly British nanny Mrs. Doubtfire, and is hired as his children’s nanny. A series of iconic comedic setpieces ensue.

 

Billy Elliot (2000)

Set in England during the 1984-85 coal miners’ strike, Billy Elliot tells the story of a boy (Jamie Bell) who wants to become a professional ballet dancer. His father (Gary Lewis) wants to push him into boxing. Billy’s ballet teacher (Julie Walters) serves as bridge for the father and son, helping Billy both fulfill his dream and be accepted by his father.

 

Father of the Bride (1991)

This remake quickly became a classic in its own right with comedy legend Steve Martin playing the lead role and learning that part of being a parent is knowing when to let your children go and start their own lives. Buoyed by a stellar supporting cast that includes Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kieran Culkin, and B.D. Wong, it wasn’t surprising when the film spawned a direct sequel.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

6 Reasons to See ‘Beetlejuice: The Musical’ 

While a lot of movies seem ripe for adapting to Broadway–like Frozen, Kinky Boots, and Once–many people were surprised when it was announced Tim Burton’s 1988 dark afterlife comedy Beetlejuice would be turned into a big-budget musical.

Though it may have been a surprise, it was certainly the right choice as Beetlejuice: The Musical has become a hit with critics and audiences alike, racking up an impressive eight Tony nominations earlier this Spring.

Beetlejuice Musical


If you haven’t already, here’s six reasons to check out
Beetlejuice: The Musical:

The creepy story

Fans of the film are well aware of the story, but it’s not one you’d normally see on Broadway:

A lonely teenage girl befriends the ghosts of a married couple after her family moves into their home. Scott Brown and Anthony King are well deserving of their Tony nominations for Best Book of a Musical.

It’s devilish fun

Director Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Moulin Rouge) takes a leap with this spectacular show that never takes a break from its silly energy and slapstick physical comedy. Capturing the manic energy of Michael Keaton’s original performance and Tim Burton’s direction is no small feat, so it’s no wonder the show has been Tony nominated for Best Musical.

There are visual effects, projections, and puppetry

Awarded for Best Makeup at the Oscars 1989, this visionary show lives up to the original film’s Hollywood special effects. Tony nominations for Best Lighting Design, Sound Design and Scenic Design should tell you that you’ll be in for a treat when seeing the various magical moments offered by this blockbuster musical.

Costumes straight from the film

A six-time Tony nominee for Best Costume Design, William Ivey Long obtains two more nods this year for his brilliant work in Beetlejuice and Tootsie. Original film director Tim Burton built his career on the stunning warped visuals from his own imagination, and Long’s wardrobe work both evokes the unique style while offering something new to a live theatre audience.

It is wickedly cast

Tony nominee and Broadway veteran Alex Brightman (School of Rock, Wicked, Matilda the Musical) is the perfect choice for the fast-talking wild card ghoul, Beetlejuice. After all, it’s not his first time in a Tim Burton adaptation–in 2013 he also performed in the musical adaptation of Big Fish. The stellar cast of Beetlejuice is rounded out by Anne Caruso (Blackbird), Kerry Butler (Les Miserables, Mean Girls) as Barbara, and Rob McClure (Avenue Q, Something Rotten) as Adam.

New and familiar tunes

A musical isn’t worth seeing if the music isn’t great, and the numbers offered by Beetlejuice are fantastic. In addition to new, diverse rock- and pop-based tunes written for the show (Beetlejuice also earned a Tony nomination for Best Original Score), the play also features two classics from the original film–the “Banana Boat Song (Day O)” and Harry Belafonte’s “Jump in the Line.” So if you haven’t already, now’s the time for you to jump in the line for tickets to see Beetlejuice: The Musical!

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

9 Movies Perfect for the Summer

Some movies just have a certain feel to them, and summer movies are no exception. Summer movies can evoke the feeling we had when the school year would end, or bring to mind summer imagery like beaches, sunshine, and fireworks.

The best part of summer movies is that you can watch them year-round, whether it’s in comfy air conditioning in the middle of July, or reminding you of warmer times during an ice cold February blizzard. Here’s some summer movies that will always bring the sunshine:

Jaws

The 1975 classic is the definitive summer movie, not only taking place on (and scaring people away from) the beach, but it was also the first summer blockbuster, making popcorn movies as much of a summer staple as ice cold lemonade. The shark-starring thriller also launched director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams into the stratosphere.

Grease

One of the most famous summer love stories ever takes place before the musical film even starts, but watching the sparks fly all over again between Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) makes this film an all-time classic.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

The ultimate road trip movie, Vacation was comic actor Chevy Chase in peak form as the head of the Griswold family on a doomed trip to theme park Walley World. The film, directed by Caddyshack director and Ghostbusters writer and star Harold Ramis, spawned three sequels starring Chase, as well as a fourth sequel that served double duty as a remake.

Lilo & Stitch

Academy Award nominee for Best Feature in 2003, the Disney film showcases the friendship between an adorable little girl and an even cuter alien creature. Even though the movie is animated, its Hawaiian setting will give you summer vibes while giving you all of the feels.

The Parent Trap

Both the 1961 and 1998 versions of the Disney family comedy are must-watches. Stars Hayley Mills in the original and Lindsay Lohan in the remake are perfectly cast in dual roles as identical twin sisters little ready to do whatever it takes to bring their divorced parents back together, even if it means pretending to be one another.

Dirty Dancing

The 1987 film tells the story of Frances (Jennifer Grey), a teenage girl who falls in love with her dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) at a summer resort in the Poconos. The film spawned timeless quotes, heated dance moves, and iconic track “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life,” which won the Golden Globe, Oscar, and Grammy for Original song. Nobody puts this movie in a corner.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Rowan Atkinson reprises his iconic role as Mr. Bean in a family-friendly farce that also showcases the stunning vistas of France. Along the way, Bean finds true love and helps a young boy reunite with his father.

Little Miss Sunshine

If you’re looking for a little subdued dramedy in your summer films, Little Miss Sunshine is probably for you. The road trip indie stars Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin (who won an Oscar for his role), and tells the story of an adorable little girl who wants nothing more than to win a pageant, and her miserable family stuck along for the ride.

The Great Outdoors

Another 80s vacation classic, The Great Outdoors shows off comedic greats John Candy and Dan Aykroyd as bickering, competitive in-laws sharing a summer cabin by the lake. Full of slapstick humor and barenaked bears, The Great Outdoors was written by John Hughes at the height of his Hollywood powers.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

10 TV Shows To Watch Now That Game of Thrones is Over

The final victim after eight seasons of fire, ice, and bloodshed on HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones just might be our Sunday nights. Thrones had established itself as the appointment TV show of the decade, and now that the game is over, there’s a void left in both the television landscape and the hearts of many viewers who crave watercooler-ready event pop culture.

But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of shows, both old and new, to fill the vacuum left by Game of Thrones. Here’s ten of the most notable:

[SPOILERS below]

Westworld

Westworld’s third season is still a year away, but there’s a reason the sci-fi western drama adapted for HBO by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy takes its time between installments, and it’s not just its incredibly high production values. The show’s incredibly complex, weaving storylines take time to map out and write, but leave fans with plenty of theories and mythology to chew on each week in the same way Game of Thrones has since 2011.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deSUQ7mZfWk

Stranger Things

There will be more than just fireworks this Independence Day–this Fourth of July will see the season three premiere of Netflix’s nostalgic horror/sci-fi series, Stranger Things. As the show’s child stars mature into teenagers and the time period reaches the heart of the 1980s, we’re expecting shopping malls, New Wave music, and of course, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) facing off with terrifying grotesque monsters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

A Discovery of Witches

The new critically-acclaimed BBC series A Discovery of Witches stars Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey, The Good Wife) and Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge, Triple 9) and is based on Deborah Harkness’ bestselling All Souls trilogy. Its first season comprises eight episodes and its tale of magic and witchcraft should scratch the itch of Thrones fans wanting more magic in their pop culture.

His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials was first adapted into a blockbuster 2007 Hollywood film, The Golden Compass, that bombed hard and put the planned trilogy to a halt. Fans of the beloved series have been clamoring for another adaptation ever since, and are finally getting it thanks to a collaboration between HBO, BBC, and New Line Cinema. The cast includes Ruth Wilson (The Affair), James McAvoy (X-Men), Dafne Keen (Logan), and Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. The historical fantasy that, yes, deals with magic, spirits, and the end of the world–but also talking polar bears–is expected to surpass fans’ already-high expectations; its second season is already in pre-production.

https://youtu.be/eudsYr0iER0

The Walking Dead

The zombie smash hit will be back on AMC for its tenth season in October, coming off its game-changing ninth season that saw the loss of series protagonist Rick Grimes. New showrunner Angela Kang was praised for steering the show into a new era with several new castmembers and the rise of big, big bads The Whisperers. The Whisperers storyline will continue in the new season, and likely lead to the deaths of even more fan favorite characters, including Michonne, whose actress Danai Gurira is rumored to be leaving the show soon.

Good Omens

One of the most anticipated shows of 2019 is Amazon Prime Video’s adaptation of Good Omens, the fan favorite comedic novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about the birth of the Antichrist and the end of everything. Amazon spared no expense and the show boasts an incredible cast: Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brian Cox, and Frances McDormand. The six episodes of the series were directed by Douglas McKinnon (Doctor Who) and focuses on Sheen and Tennant as a bickering angel and demon forced to team up to stop the Apocalypse.

https://youtu.be/SGVhesWfPMY

The Witcher

Based on the wildly popular video game, The Witcher will be a Netflix original about Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, who struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more evil than the creatures he faces. Henry Cavill is moving on from Superman and Justice League and has physically transformed into the fan-favorite, silver-haired protagonist.

The Expanse

The Expanse has been drawing comparisons to Game of Thrones since its debut in 2015, and the parallels are obvious. Both are adapted from a series of epic, bestselling novels and both deal with multiple alliances, betrayals, political maneuvering, and a supernatural threat that overwhelming it all. The story by James S. A. Corey involves grounded, realistic space exploration in the somewhat near future when Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt are all warring governments who must come together to deal with an extragalactic… something. Its first three seasons aired on Syfy, but after being cancelled, season four will air on Amazon Prime Video, possibly because Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is a huge fan of the series.

https://youtu.be/8X5gXIQmY-E

The Lord of the Rings

Amazon Prime Video is pouring over a billion dollars to create the most expensive television show in history, a five-season prequel to JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth epic. Amazon has been keeping details surrounding the production very close to the vest, but a late 2019 release hasn’t yet been ruled out. Once the show does air, expect Lord of the Rings to dominate pop culture conversation in the same way Game of Thrones, and the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy, once did.

Untitled Game of Thrones Prequel

Then again, maybe Game of Thrones will fill the Game of Thrones-shaped hole in our hearts. Well before the series ended, HBO had commissioned up to five spinoffs to be created, though details about most of them have been sparse. One such show, by Bryan Cogman, has already been cancelled. Another is rumored to be an adaptation of Robert’s Rebellion, the near-recent civil war that directly led to the first season of Thrones.

However, one prequel is already in production, with a pilot to be filmed sometime this year. Its cast includes Naomi Watts as series lead, as well as Miranda Richardson and John Simm. The story is supposedly set 10,000 years before the current series, and will involve the Age of Heroes and possibly the mysterious origin of the Night King.

So while the watch has ended for Game of Thrones, one of the most epic, expensive, talked-about series in the history of television, rest assured there will still be plenty more content to watch, dissect, and argue about online.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here