Author: New York Film Academy

The 5 Musicals You Should Watch Out for in 2018

Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool theatre kid or have never seen a Broadway show, you’re in luck in New York City. NYC is the global epicenter for this distinctly American art form, and has so much happening at any given time that there’s bound to be something for everybody. While the word “Broadway” conjures up images of bright lights, sequins, and jazz hands, there’s also a whole lot more to it, especially in the last few years (look no further than Hamilton, the steeped-in-hip-hop-American-history hit).

In any given Broadway season, there will be a slew of brassy revivals, pairing seasoned stars with favorite works (Hello, Dolly! currently stars ageless diva Bernadette Peters), as well as new works and adaptations (Mean Girls is now a musical, with music written by Tina Fey’s composer husband Jeff Richmond), and innovative new pieces (In Transit, an original a cappella work written for the stage).

Here are five hot musicals of all varieties that might tickle your fancy this year:

Frozen

St. James Theatre, currently running

In case you’d finally gotten award-winning composers Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s 2014 score out of your head, Disney’s newest live theatrical experience features your favorites along with a bunch of new tunes.

What’s especially exciting about this production is the pairing of newly-minted stars Caissie Levy (Les Miserables) and Patti Murin (Lysistrata Jones) as Elsa and Anna. It’ll be hard to get a ticket for this week, but with an open-ended run, you won’t run out of time to see this.

One Thousand Nights and One Day

Prospect Theater Company, April 4-29

Prospect is well-known for its commitment to producing new musicals, and this year is no exception. One Thousand Nights and One Day features an ensemble of eight vocalists, and combines the traditional story of Scheherazade with a modern love story between a Jewish man and Palestinian woman.

The heavily-female production team features music by Marisa Michelson, composer of Prospect’s acclaimed Tamar of the River. If you’re after something fresh and authentic, get tickets for this limited run!

Me and My Girl

New York City Center, May 9-13

This delightful 1937 Broadway hit features book revisions by the masterful Stephen Fry. It’s a happy romp about a Cockney who discovers he’s an earl, and it’s getting a limited run featuring contemporary Broadway mainstays like Christian Borle (Something Rotten!) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Finding Neverland). A treat for the traditional and not-so-traditional Broadway enthusiast.

The Beast in the Jungle

Vineyard Theatre, May 4-June 10

This innovative and much-anticipated production pairs legendary composer John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago) with legendary director/choreographer Susan Stroman, as well as accomplished international dancers, fusing modern dance and ballet with a dark and epic love story.

Beetlejuice

October 2018, National Theatre in D.C.; Broadway opening TBD

It’s become common to see film properties adapted into musicals this past decade; they don’t all work, but they don’t all have Eddie Perfect at the helm.

An Australian Renaissance man about to make quite an impact on American audiences (he’s also revising the score for autumn’s King Kong), Perfect is a pianist, composer, actor, singer, and theatre artist, whose wit and exuberance make him the perfect guy for this job.

While the Broadway opening date of Beetlejuice is TBD, this one tries out in Washington D.C. in October of 2018, which makes a New Year opening in NYC likely. In the meantime, D.C. is just a weekend train ride away!

Which musicals are you most excited to catch this season? Let us know in the comments below! Learn more about Musical Theatre by studying with Broadway professionals at the New York Film Academy.

The 5 Biggest Reasons Why We’re Excited About Tribeca Film Festival 2018

The Tribeca Film Festival kicks off this week to once again put the spotlight on the latest independent films and their makers. Featuring over a thousand screenings, numerous panel discussions, and more, it’s easy to see why millions of people attend this acclaimed film festival each year.

Whether you’re just a movie fan or have your heart set on a career in filmmaking, here are five reasons why the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival is set to be the best one yet.

Impressive List of Must-See Movies

The beauty of having a film festival spanning 12 days is that no matter what kinds of movies you like, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

This year there will be more than 50 narratives and 45 documentaries spread across every genre imaginable. Of course, there are always a few films that people definitely don’t plan on missing. Fans of documentaries will want to check out Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It, The Rachel Divide, and Songwriter. Great story films people are talking about are Braid, The Seagull, and centerpiece film Zoe.

With so many great films to recommend, be sure to take a look at the official Tribeca website for a full list of films.

More Films Directed by Women Than Ever Before

Tribeca Film Festival 2018 will make history by having more films directed by women than ever before.

Almost half of the 96 films set to screen at Tribeca this year were directed by women — certainly a cause for celebration, given that women are still vastly underrepresented in the film industry as a whole. According to the famous Celluloid Ceiling study, only 1 percent of 2017’s most successful films employed 10 or more women behind the scenes.

Some of the most anticipated female-directed films that will be at Tribeca include Liz Garbus’ New York Times documentary The Fourth Estate, Eva Vives’ comedy drama All About Nina, and Untogether, the directorial debut of Emma Forrest.

A Look at Upcoming Games

It wasn’t long ago that most people considered games as a form of children’s entertainment. Today, the digital medium is seen as arguably the most powerful form of storytelling. Thanks to the power of interactivity, games allow the audience to not only become a part of the narrative but also influence the outcome of a story and its characters.

Tribeca Games will once again celebrate the artistic and technical achievements of games at this year’s show. Things to look forward to include a special preview of the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, a talk from God of War‘s creative director Cory Barlog, and a variety of demos and esports tournaments for attendees.

Talks From Stars & Filmmakers

If there’s one thing Tribeca fans love more than watching new films, it’s listening to their makers talk about their project. Since the Tribeca Film Festival’s focus is on independent films, this gives aspiring filmmakers a chance to learn more about the process from both up-and-coming stars and renowned industry figures.

This year, attendees won’t want to miss the Scarface reunion, after its 35th anniversary screening. Other notable talks will include Sarah Jessica Parker, John Legend, and the duo of Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

Legendary Film Anniversaries Honored

It makes sense that an independent film festival like Tribeca would do its part to honor the anniversaries of timeless classics. After all, it’s movies like these that help inspire the next generation of filmmakers to push their creative limits and see that their stories one day make it to the big screen.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Scarface, a screening of the legendary gangster epic will be followed by a reunion panel including Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, and director Brian De Palma.

Oscar-winning masterpiece Schindler’s List will also be screened to commemorate its 25th anniversary. A Q&A including Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Embeth Davidtz will follow.

What are you most excited to see at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

6 Independent Filmmakers You May Have Missed

Most people know the likes of Zack Snyder, Ava DuVernay, Christopher Nolan,  — high-profile filmmakers at the helm of the big budget movies getting all the attention. While these talented folks are busy making films destined to be top grossers, there are up-and-coming indie filmmakers elsewhere using their own skills and imagination to create compelling stories. Below you’ll find only a handful of the many great independent filmmakers currently honing their own style while making films worthy of your time.

Jordan Peele

This New York City native had already proven his comedic prowess via the popular sketch series Key & Peele, which he co-created and starred in. But in 2017, Peele took a stab at the director’s seat and found success with his debut horror film Get Out, which received critical acclaim and earned numerous nominations, not to mention an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Peele is currently producing another horror project, an HBO series titled Lovecraft Country.

Nacho Vigalondo

Vigalondo has been in the filmmaking business since 2003 after releasing his Oscar-nominated short film 7:35 in the Morning. The Spanish filmmaker has since worked on a number of films that managed to impress, including 2007 sci-fi thriller Timecrimes and Colossal, a 2016 homage to the Godzilla franchise praised for its genre mash-up and a great performance by Anne Hathaway. Whatever Vigalondo is cooking up next, fans of strange, genre-defying sci-fi films should definitely check it out.

Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani

Gordon and Nanjiani served as writers and co-producers for The Big Sick, one of the highest grossing indie flicks of 2017. The romantic comedy film turned a budget of $5 million into $56 million, while also earning universal praise for its entertaining mix of humor and heartbreak. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards.

Diandrea “Dee” Rees

Rees has been making a name for herself for the last decade with a number of acclaimed projects. Last year she became a must-watch director with Mudbound, a period drama that received nominations everywhere from the Golden Globe Awards to the 90th Academy Awards. Rees also became the first female nominee for the American Society of Cinematographer’s Outstanding Achievement award.

Lone Scherfig

This Danish film director and screenwriter has been using her amazing talents for almost three decades. Her most recent film, a British war comedy-drama based on the 2009 novel by Lissa Evans, is among her best. Their Finest currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 89 percent and was widely praised for its great plot twist and strong chemistry between actors.

Taylor Sheridan

This Oscar-nominated actor and writer is mostly known for his role as Deputy Chief David Hale in FX television series Sons of Anarchy. In 2017 he made his directorial debut with Wind River, a neo-Western murder mystery that grossed $40 million from a budget of $11 million. The smart writing, compelling characters, and a story based on actual accounts of sexual assault helped propel Sheridan forward as one of the most promising filmmakers out there.

Who are your favorite up-and-coming indie filmmakers? Share your list with us in the comments below! And learn how to make your own film at New York Film Academy.

Tips on Finding the Perfect Monologue

by NYFA Instructor Denis McCourt, MFA

So you’re taking an acting class, have a general audition, or just want to hone your craft, and are looking for the perfect monologue. The search is really a three pronged approach:

What type of monologue are you looking for?

As you begin your quest for the words you will spend a large amount of time and energy working on, first, it is best to consider what you are trying to accomplish.

In the world of monologues, you have many broad categories — contemporary-comedy, contemporary-dramatic, classical-comedy, classical-dramatic … and even more broadly, plays versus film/television/online-content (web series).

If you are intending to work on a monologue in an acting class, you should select one from a play. These words have been written to be performed live by an actor on stage. That idea might sound obvious, yet many actors use film and television for their source material. That great dramatic monologue you saw in the latest blockbuster film has music, sound, camera angles, lighting, reaction shots and editing (just to name a few elements) to help make that overall dramatic or funny impact for the audience — plus, you will be perpetually compared to that Oscar-winning performance.  

When you find material written to be performed on the stage, it will fare better in your acting class and/or general audition. So, if you have now bought into the idea of plays, you have narrowed your content down from hundreds of thousands to only a few thousand possibilities.

How do you find your connection or hear your voice in the monologue?

This next step is very important in your quest for the perfect monologue.

Let’s say you want to expand the work you are doing in your acting class. You are very funny, which everyone around you reinforces in your work, so now you want to explore your more dramatic skills. One of the hardest concepts about acting that everyone struggles with is the idea of “connection,” or “your voice.” The best way to define this for you is to look back over your lifetime and ask questions.

In the years that you have been on this earth, what has mattered to you? Where did you grow up? Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community? What cultural and gender identity speaks to you? Are you involved in any social issues or causes? Do you feel drawn to victims’ rights, or religious beliefs? Are you an animal rights advocate? Were you raised on a farm or in the city? In sharing these questions, and by you answering them, you begin to feel a connection and find your voice.

The next step would be for you to find a playwright that shares your connection and voice. If, as in our example, you have already decided that you want to work on a dramatic monologue, the exclusion of comedic writers has narrowed your search from thousands down to hundreds. And if you know you’d like to focus on a woman’s point of view, you have now narrowed that down even further.

The good news is that you are now looking for writers that share your voice and perspective, and once you find them there will be a body of work for you to tap into for source material.

I would strongly encourage you to become an avid reader of plays. In your quest for the perfect monologue, you can also develop your skills as a cold reader by reading the plays out loud –honing yet another skill you will need as an actor!

Where do I begin to look to find the perfect monologue?

Let’s face it: acting is already hard enough as it is to do the work well, and in your career you will sometimes be asked to work on material that is not that great if not bad. If you are paid to do it and are at that stage of your career, you will do it. But when developing your craft, the suggestion is to ride a thoroughbred.

What do I mean by that? If you find the best material, it will help you develop the skills you are working on developing. So, how do I find the best material that matches my voice? Although many are looking for that “golden monologue book written just for you,” you need to know that such a thing does not exist.

Most published monologue books are not good source material, because they are not attached to any story or character development — they are random words written for the purpose of actors, like you, in search of the perfect monologue. And, like you, there are thousands of actors buying that book and working on that same monologue which every casting professional and acting coach has heard over and over and over again. So, all of your efforts are thrown out the window as soon as they hear the first sentence because their inner monologue is; oh, no, not this one again.

So, if you get anything from this article, don’t buy the monologue book.

If you put a little more effort into the quest, it will pay off for you in spades. So, where should you look to find this thoroughbred? There is another three pronged approach: check out theatre awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and go see live theatre.

  • Theatre Awards:

If a writer has won or been nominated for a Tony Award or an Olivier Award, the material is a thoroughbred. When an actor has been nominated for or won a Tony Award or an Olivier Award the material is a thoroughbred. Here is the link to the Tony Award past winners.

If you go to that site, it lists not only the winners but the nominees as well, since the inception of the awards. All of this is great source material. You then can even target playwrights that write about content you are searching for in your perfect monologue. You can even target famous actors that you have been following that are “your type.”

You will find this a very rich resource of great material. Plus, you have narrowed down your material from thousands to hundreds or less.

  • Pulitzer Prize for Drama:

This award is a very high benchmark for playwrights, and exploring the winners will provide you with an international selection of original voices of today and years past.

The site not only shares the winners, but also provides you with all of the finalists in any given year. You will see that this list will share some great thoroughbred possibilities in your quest, though you will most likely see some duplicates between the Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize sites.

  • Live Theatre:

As you can probably guess, live theatrical plays are the best source material for finding the perfect monologue.

If you go see lots of plays, you will find material you will want to work on. The great thing about plays is that they are done all over the place.

You can spend big money and go see major New York and/or Los Angeles productions. You can go to great regional theatres in Chicago, Minneapolis or Atlanta. Or you can go to the many local professional and/or community theatres in cities and towns around the world. Other great resources are colleges and universities.

By seeing actors working on the craft you are developing, you will learn. Even if it is the worst performance you have ever seen, you will be hearing the words of the monologues spoken out loud in the context of the story and character arc.

If you see many plays, especially stories that appeal to you, your chances of finding that monologue increases. You have now narrowed the search from hundreds of thousands down to a few hundred or less and you have some practical steps to make in your quest to find the perfect monologue.

Ready to learn more about acting and deepen your craft? Check out the New York Film Academy’s Acting School offerings.

 

Facebook & Journalism: The Influence of Facebook on the News

How many of us wake up in the morning, pick up our smartphones, and turn to Facebook? Ok, maybe you wait until you get to work or get a cup of coffee. In any case, if you look at Facebook daily, you’re not alone. There are more than 2.13 billion active Facebook users worldwide and 1.40 billion of them log on daily, according to Zephoria’s February 2018 update on Facebook statistics.

With so many of us checking in on our newsfeed regularly, it’s no surprise that Facebook’s influence on the news is huge and fraught with controversy. Here we consider how Facebook users are shaped by — and help to shape — the news.

Facebook’s power to affect politics and your emotions.

The mainstream media notoriously underestimated Donald Trump’s possibilities for winning the presidency in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election. And during that time, so much conspiracy and misinformation circulated on Facebook, that some observers wonder if Facebook should not shoulder some blame for allowing or missing fake news.

One such story, found in the “Trending News” section of Facebook in September from fictional WTOE 5 News, claimed that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump. Another from the fake Denver Guardian, published just days before the election, claimed that an FBI agent connected to leaks of Clinton’s emails was involved in a murder-suicide, the Deseret News reported shortly after the election, and they drew connections between the great influence Facebook could potentially have on voters, and the emotional effect it proved to have just a few years earlier.

For a week in 2012 Facebook “tinkered with users’ emotions,” according to a 2014 NY Times article. Whether Facebook was justified in its experiment or not, the results showed pretty convincingly, and not particularly surprisingly, that when shown negative content in their newsfeed, people felt worse, and when shown positive content, they felt better.

Is Facebook’s news really news?

Although Facebook is not a news site, it provides a forum for people to share the stories that excite and titillate, inflame or give smiles. Perhaps a problem is that hard news stories have to compete with weddings and funerals, cat pics and endless fun activities like seeing what you’d look like if you were a person of the opposite sex. Yet, is that so different from traditional news outlets?

“Entertainment was beating up on news long before Zuckerberg was born,” this Atlantic article reminds us. “The back sections of the newspaper have long cross-subsidized the foreign coverage of the A-section.” However, in traditional print, even if we bought the paper for the funnies or sports, we could hardly fail to notice what the publishers had decided were the day’s headlines.

With Facebook, we train our newsfeed to show us what we want to see, by liking, commenting and sharing, so we have the power to make our newsfeed truly newsy. “You can hide your most frivolous friends, follow the Facebook page of every national newspaper, and share every NBC News link that comes your way,” The Atlantic reminds us. “But you don’t.”

UBON RATCHATHANI, THAILAND – Jan 03 : ” View Facebook homepage ” on Jan 03 , 2015, UbonRatchathani , Thailand

Why not?

Now, Facebook is looking to better identify what is actually “news” by establishing a curated “breaking news” tab in Watch. It will feature content generated by Facebook’s news partners, and Facebook and those partners will split any revenue. That’s important, because you can’t just give content away. (Does GM give you a free car?) You somehow have to monetize it, while at the same time facing up to the perceived responsibility social media has for somehow mitigating news trolls…

Do you want to be a maker of news instead of just a consumer? Check out NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism program to learn more.

8 Tips for Getting 1K Instagram Followers in One Month

From ambitious models and actors to small businesses across the globe, everyone is discovering Instagram’s tremendous usefulness in today’s competitive world. The popular social media platform boasts millions of active monthly users and has numerous features that benefit marketers, including the ability to show off your brand and talk to your audience.

There are tried-and-true tips all over the net that can help you find more success on Instagram. If your goal is to earn at least 1,000 more followers in a month, give this a try:

  1. Follow and study the competition.

There’s nothing wrong with checking out other accounts in your industry to see what they’re doing. This includes looking at how often they post, the hashtags they use, what kind of content they post, etc. The goal isn’t to completely copy their strategy, but to jot down what’s working for them and apply the best of it to your own plans.

  1. Become a hashtag master.

A great way to catch people’s attention is by being fun and creative with your hashtag use. You’ll also get more people to see you if you join in on trending hashtags that are receiving tons of attention at the time.

But most important of all, make sure you use hashtags that apply to you and what you’re about. If musical theater is your thing, make sure videos of you singing have hashtags that will draw others interested in the same things.

  1. Network, Instagram style.

Although things like college degrees and experience are important, a lot of people believe there’s nothing like a good connection to land a job. In a way, this idea can also apply when going for more Instagram followers quickly.

The trick is to frequently interact with the most popular influencers in your industry in hopes that you become one of their favorite followers. Make sure to activate your “Turn On Post Notifications” feature so you’re always among the first to post.

  1. Cross-promote on other platforms.

From Facebook and Pinterest to Twitter and YouTube, perhaps there’s a chance you already have another social media account with a few or more follows. Drive traffic from those accounts to your Instagram by frequently sharing your best posts in order to catch their attention. Chances are the people who follow you on other platforms also have an Instagram account as well.

  1. Go viral via Instagram Stories.

The Explore page on Instagram is an awesome feature that can earn you an unexpected level of likes and follows. This is because your stories have the possibility of being show on other accounts based on what kinds of posts and accounts you like/follow. For this to happen you have to create fun, engaging Stories that usually target a specific space.

  1. Make your profile stand out.

Recognition is all about infusing your Instagram with your own personality and visual style. Your profile theme and bio should be unique enough to stand out from the crowd while also doing a good job of representing who you are and what kind of content you like sharing. Although short, your bio will give readers a clear impression of what you’re about and hopefully convince them to follow you.

  1. Run contests and giveaways.

If there’s one thing everyone looks to get, it’s free goodies. Running a giveaway that lasts a few days and requires interacting with your account is a solid way to gain exposure and earn more followers.

A popular strategy is to run a contest in partnership with another influencer, setting up the rules so that people need to follow both accounts in order to be entered to win. It also helps if the gifts are related to your industry, such as giving away a free game or Gamestop gift card if you’re trying to create hype for your own upcoming title.

  1. Don’t skip out on videos.

Photo posts are a powerful tool when it comes to growing your Instagram following — actors should definitely post new headshots or production photos often, and with the right hashtags.

However, it’s hard to argue with all the stats out there pointing to videos as being the best type of content for earning more followers. This makes sense considering that a static image will rarely be as attention-grabbing as moving video with sound and voice, so make sure to mix up your images with videos.

What’s your best advice for growing your Instagram followers? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about the visual and performing arts at the New York Film Academy.

4 Tips for Getting Full-Time Work in Corporate Video


Every year tens of thousands of students across the country graduate with film degrees and get ready to join the workforce. Some of these graduates will go on to enter the film industry, while others will move into the rapidly growing corporate media landscape. More and more corporations and marketing companies are hiring and developing
video production in-house.

While a film degree or certificate from a school like the New York Film Academy is a huge step towards becoming employable in corporate video, there are additional things you can do to optimize your ability to get full-time work. This article outlines five tips for getting a full-time job in the corporate and commercial video industry. Here they are:

1. Know your Audience

Working in corporate video is very different than trying to get work in traditional filmmaking. In filmmaking, the end goal of the process is to output content that will sell to a distributor or be a commercially viable product for entertainment audiences. In corporate video, however, you are primarily aiming to make content that will please a client’s expectations and solve a real world business problem. In order to optimize your ability to work in this sector of the video production industry, you must align your priorities with those of the company you’re aiming to work for.

People hiring in corporate video will care about your ability to:

  • Understand the theory and process how marketing works (lead generation, brand awareness, sales, etc)
  • Be able to think of and develop video ideas that solve problems within any of these areas of marketing and sales
  • Develop marketing messaging and video concepts that align with business goals
  • Develop thoughtful brand-centric creative writing
  • Present ideas, storyboards, and concepts to clients
  • Shoot & edit in a way that matches the client’s or company’s overall brand standards and guidelines
  • Communicate respectful and empathetically with clients
  • Handle varieties of projects at once and work quickly

Understanding the goals and priorities of your hiring audience will inform your interviews, resume building, and overall strategy for finding work. Start to embrace the above points and skills.

2. Invest in Yourself

Hands-on training is a powerful way to build serious experience and stand out amongst other candidates. Beyond the four walls of school there are a variety of other investments one can make to build your network and create ongoing opportunities for full time work. Utilizing some of the following, while not essential, can help develop your career, skills, and ultimately make you a more valuable & hireable professional.

  • AMA or AAF: Groups like the American Marketing Association (AMA) or American Advertising Federation (AAF) allow you a great opportunity to create one-on-one relationships with both potential marketing employers and people who could refer you to others for work.
  • LinkedIn Premium: Linkedin is a great tool to network within corporate America. Linkedin Premium affords you the ability to network even deeper by messaging hiring managers, sending portfolios, and with other powerful tools to help you get in touch with just about any marketing or business professional.
  • Redbooks: Redbooks is a database of targeted decision makers and potential hiring managers of ad agencies and brands. With over 250,000 decision makers from 14,000 agencies, you’ll have the direct contact information of just about anyone in marketing. Having this will allow you to network, send work examples and resumes.
  • Hands-On Workshops: You can never be too experienced to get your hands back on production tools to hone your skills. Keep your skills relevant and honed, and also do some valuable networking and resume building.

There are hundreds of other things you can invest in to help build your career, but the above are great ways to get in front of the right people — which at the end of the day is one of the most vital aspects of getting full-time work in corporate video.


3. Become a Brand

Just like a company must brand and market themselves in order to sell their products, you as a video professional must brand and market yourself to find full-time work. This means you must have the ability to package your skills, communicate your experience, and have the tools to effectively market yourself. The following tools will be valuable:

  • A Simple Website: Creating a simple website through SquareSpace or WordPress can help bring all your information together into one place. Making a website shows you can put the effort in, and shows you’re serious about your craft. Include contact information, work examples, your resume, and references.
  • Completed Social Media Profiles: Create all the relevant social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, Tumblr, etc) and upload all of your video examples and other information to these sites. Add your contact information and experience, as well as linking to your website.
  • Logo: Have a simple logo that represents who you are. It can be as simple as just a text-based logo of your name, or something more artistic. Either way, having a simple logo can help your resume pop, and help make your overall professional brand be engaging.
  • Demo Reel: Your demo reel is essential in summing up your video production capabilities and experience. Have this easily accessible on your website and resume so that employers can quickly get an idea of your skills. Make your demo reel 60 seconds in length and speak to the experience that relates to the type of work you’re aiming to get.
  • Relevant Video Examples: Demo reels don’t always tell the full story. If you’re aiming to work at an ad agency, have example videos of commercials you’ve directed, or web marketing videos you’ve produced. Having this in addition to your demo reel on your website is essential.

The above are the basic branding and marketing tools for your professional brand, and should be updated even after you find your first full-time job. They should evolve with your career and be ongoing tools for you to communicate your value.

4. Follow Up … And Follow Up (Again)

Of course, you must apply and reach out to potential job creators after you have your resume and demo reel, etc. But if you think you’re just going to apply to a job or email a manager once and immediately get a job, think again. Working in corporate video is competitive and it requires consistent and respectful follow-ups to the companies and agencies you’re trying to be employed by.

In business development, 80 percent of sales happen after five follow-up attempts, and finding work is essentially sales — so don’t be bashful in sending follow-up emails or making follow-up calls to jobs or companies you’ve applied to. However, don’t be annoying or spammy, as you might create the opposite effect. Here’s a simple follow-up email script that will help increase your ability to engage a hiring manager:

“Hi [First Name] –

How are you? My name is [Full Name] and I’m following up regarding the video position I applied for last week. I understand you have a lot going on, but I wanted to say hello and send you another example of my video work for your consideration.

Here you go: [insert link]

Let me know what you think. If you’d like to speak with any references, let me know and I can send any email introductions. I appreciate your time!”

The above approach does not apply to every situation, but in general is a solid starting email template for following up with a manager. Remind them of your name, that you applied, and send them something referenceable like a new video link or a particular project you’ve done.

Between knowing your audience, investing in yourself, building your brand, and mastering the follow-up, you’ll be in a great position to land a full-time job. Stay engaged throughout your studies at NYFA, and network with fellow graduates. Whatever happens, never give up, as there is incredible opportunity in the corporate video industry.

 

Article by Mike Clum.

Mike Clum is the founder of Clum Creative, a corporate video production company that employs 10 full-time video production professionals.

How to Make Money Selling Stock Photography

It’s been almost 100 years since the stock photo industry began to take off. Since then, countless agencies and solo photographers have made a living selling their work to companies and people across a myriad of industries. Although the internet has helped boost stock photography like never before, the question on many photographer’s minds is the same: is there money to be made?

The answer is yes! People looking to tell their stories and ideas on websites and social media often browse through hundreds of online images in hopes of finding the perfect one. Whether you want to make big bucks as a stock photographer or just some pocket change on the side, here are seven tips that will help you stand out from the competition and find success.

  1. Get yourself a good digital camera.

If you were looking for a stock photo for your article or website home page, wouldn’t you only consider high-quality options? The average stock photo buyer wants pics that are sharp and a pleasure to look at, which means you should invest in a good digital camera if you hope to impress.

A digital SLR that lets you control the settings is recommended, as are these pieces of gear if you like to travel and shoot.

You don’t need the most powerful camera available to stand a chance in today’s competitive stock photo industry, but you’ll do far better if you’re not relying on a smartphone or severely outdated camera.

  1. Know the basics of photography.

Just like in any type of photography, creating stock photos worth buying means being at least familiar with the fundamentals.

The fact is, the average commercial photographer is good at what he or she does because they took classes, earned a photography degree, or simply have put a lot of time into studying important elements like exposure, lighting, etc.

While it’s no secret why a photography degree is so valuable in this day and age, there are other options available for career-changers, continuing ed students, and curious visual artists. You can learn in a conservatory program, short-term workshop, and even though hands-on practice.

  1. Study your own photos carefully.

It’s important to understand the technical editing elements of today’s industry-standard photography software.

Always inspect your images in at 100 percent so you notice imperfections before reviewers do. While you’re at it, make use of things like tripods, low ISO settings, and proper shutter speeds to avoid unwanted blurriness and other unattractive effects.

  1. Develop an impressive portfolio.

It’s nearly impossible to count the number of stock photos that get submitted to the many online microstock photo providers out there. Stock photography is a numbers business — the more photos you put out there for potential buyers to look at, the more likely you are to make some sales.

It’s common for up-and-coming stock photographer to drop at least between 100 to 200 photos a month, whereas established photographers can provide less since they may have consistent buyers.

To keep your photos fresh, consider ideas and projects like these to tap into your creativity.

  1. Use smart keywords on big networks.

Some might argue that you’re better off focusing on sites with less competition. While there’s truth to that, wouldn’t you rather spend hours uploading images and writing keywords for popular sites where more buyers browse each day?

Of course, there’s more to becoming a successful stock photographer than simply dropping tons of pics into a stock site. It’s important to create keywords and descriptions wisely so when your photo is exactly what someone needs, they’ll actually find it in a sea of images.

  1. Do your research and find a niche.

While we’re not saying you can’t have fun while taking stock photos, it’s a good idea to do more than just snap a pic of whatever you feel like capturing. Doing some research will help you learn what customers are looking for, which means paying attention to the types of images that get the most downloads.

That being said, don’t just copy what everyone else is doing unless you can do it significantly better. Find an niche where stock photos are in demand but there’s currently a low amount of content for people to choose from.

  1. Don’t give up!

via GIPHY

This is perhaps the most predictable tip, but one that’s especially important if you see yourself making money selling stock photography. Don’t feel discouraged when only one out of many of your photos actually sell while the rest get passed up time and time again. This is common!

As long as both your photography skills and portfolio continue growing and you pursue your work with determination, you’ll soon find yourself finding a path as a stock photographer.

7 Awesome Women in Film You Should Be Following Now

From directing to cinematography, writing to producing, women in Hollywood are working hard to have an equal voice and share of power in the movies being made … but we have a long way to go. According to the Annual Celluloid Ceiling Report, “In 2017, women comprised 18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.”

Here, we present seven women who defy those numbers and stand as role models for generations of women to come. We couldn’t possibly decide which one of these women was more awesome than the next, so we put them in alphabetical order.

Ava DuVernay

  1. Ava DuVernay was the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at Sundance Film Festival for Middle of Nowhere, and the first to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Selma. Recently, she became the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million — a staggering sum for any director — for Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time.

Nina Jacobson

  1. Nina Jacobson is a producer who, in her time heading up Disney, brought such films as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sixth Sense, and the Pirates of the Caribbean to life. After being fired from Disney, she created her own production company, Color Force, which produced the wildly successful Hunger Games movies. She is also openly gay, and has helped to create a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood by creating Out There with fellow producer Bruce Cohen.

Patty Jenkins

  1. Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman, the third highest grossing film of 2017. It gave her the biggest domestic opening for any female director. Before that, Jenkins wrote and directed Monster, another, darker, woman-centric film that garnered critical acclaim and the academy award for its star, Charlize Theron, whom we will meet below…

Kathleen Kennedy

  1. Kathleen Kennedy started out her career as Spielberg’s secretary and, as we mentioned in this article celebrating women film producers, rose to become one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. She heads up Lucasfilm, and is hence responsible for the Star Wars franchise and the highest grossing movies of the past few years, including The Last Jedi.

Reed Morano

  1. Reed Morano is a cinematographer, known for Frozen River, Kill Your Darlings” and The Skeleton Twins. More recently, she picked up critical acclaim for directing the first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale. In 2013, she became the youngest member of the American Society of Cinematographers, and, according to Wikipedia, is one of only 14 women in this prestigious organization of approximately 345 active members.

Mina Shum

  1. Mina Shum is a Chinese-Canadian filmmaker who prefers to be known simply as an independent filmmaker. Her feature films, Double Happiness and Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity, premiered at Sundance. Her most recent film, Meditation Park, starring Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh, will hit theaters March 2018.

Charlize Theron

  1. Charlize Theron is a South African-American who has established her career beyond her acting talent and beauty by founding her own production company, Denver and Delilah, named for her two dogs. Its first production was Monster, and its latest was Atomic Blonde.

For more on the usefulness of turning actor cred into producer cred, check out this article on why so many actors turn to producing, where you’ll find more awesome women like Viola Davis, Salma Hayek and Drew Barrymore, who all started production companies of their own.

 

 

 

Editing Like an Oscar Winner: Why Learn Avid Media Composer?

by NYFA Instructor Igor Torgeson

Avid Editing

With a new semester beginning, students at NYFA campuses are starting their first introduction to Avid’s Media Composer system.  Hard drives are being formatted, project directories are being created, and folks everywhere are wondering to themselves “What is YCbCr anyway?”

As Post Production instructors, we often get the asked how Media Composer became the software of choice at the New York Film Academy. I can only assume that question is also asked at the many film schools where Media Composer is the required software.

This uniform approach to editing software comes from three basic facts about Media Composer that have been consistent since the 1990’s and look to continue to be true for at least the next five to ten years.

1. Avid Media Composer is the Industry Standard Editing Software.

All of the films nominated the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2018, as well as all the films nominated for Best Editing for 2018, were edited using Avid Media Composer.

If you’re going to be working in feature films or episodic television, Media Composer is simply the standard for editing software.  Post facilities are set up to use Media Composer and that is the expected workflow.

2. Proficiency in Avid Media Composer Translates to Proficiency in Other Editing Platforms

Students sometimes find the first few sessions with media composer a bit challenging, as the interface does very little to inform you what everything is and what it does. This is a legacy of the software’s creation by engineers for technically-inclined individuals.

The thing to remember, however, is that all the other Non-Linear Editing software on the market is at least in some part inspired by or reacting to Media Composer. That means the general workflow of every platform is the same.  Media gets into the software. A window allows the editor to view and listen to the media.  The editor chooses the media to include in the show and places it in a timeline, which can be viewed in another window.  This is the same in every platform!

Once an editor becomes comfortable with this process in Avid Media Composer, moving to other platforms becomes easier, as the switch is simply a matter of finding the same tools in the new software, as well as understanding which tools the new platform has automated or eliminated.

3. Avid Editors Earn More Than Editors On Other Platforms

Of course, success as an editor is first and foremost a result of talent, skill, and experience — whatever the platform. Nevertheless, the data shows that there is a positive difference in income for Avid editors. For students hoping to move into editing, or at least have a gig that can pay well between other projects, Media Composer is the clear choice.  According to Payscale.com, the median nationwide salary for an editor with Avid skills is over $50,000.  For an editor with Premiere skills, $37,475. In Payscale’s survey, Premiere editors topped out at $53,727, top Avid editors made $105,126!

According to Glassdoor.com, Avid Editors in major markets, depending on experience, can expect even higher salaries, getting to over $135,000 annually. The same site currently lists Premiere Editor positions for $40,000 to $51,000.

For gigs and on an hourly basis, Avid Editors expect between $45 and $75 an hour.  Final Cut Pro Editors fare even worse — Glassdoor currently lists a Final Cut Pro Editing position for $20-$22 an hour.

As we saw above, once an editor learns Avid, it’s relatively easy to shift to a new platform.  So not only does an editor have an economic advantage by knowing Avid, in the absence of Avid jobs, it’s easy to shift to another software, even if it means a lower rate for a while.

Sweeteners

So with those three basic facts in mind, Avid Media Composer has been the clear choice for editing software.  Avid has also sweetened the deal a bit for students and New York Film Academy in particular.  First, Media Composer is available to students for about $10 a month, which is an enormous discount off the retail price.  Second, Avid has partnered with NYFA to make us an Avid Learning Partner, which allows us to offer our students the possibility of earning Avid User Certification (if they successfully pass the exam).  

With those things together, our goal continues to be giving students a thorough training in Post Production, on industry standard software, with a competitive advantage when entering the marketplace.  And maybe even a passing knowledge of YCbCr.

Our 90th Academy Award Predictions: Best Picture, Best Director, and More!

The greatest award show of the year is just around the corner! With the list of Oscar nominees already garnering predictions and buzz, fans will be crossing their fingers until March 4 in hopes of seeing their top picks take home a shiny golden statuette. We’ve joined in on the fun by coming up with our own predictions on who will win this coming Academy Awards 2018.

Top Categories

Best Picture: The Shape of Water

This is one of those years where competition is so stiff that most of the nominated films can win and few would be surprised. But among the excellent choices, Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi fantasy is likely to take away the main prize. It has nominations in more than a dozen different categories, was deemed a critical success, and is viewed by many as a major artistic achievement. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the the most diverse of the best pictures nominees in a time when diversity and gender equality in the industry are major focus points.

Best Director: Christopher Nolan

If there’s one category that has two clear potential winners, it’s Best Director. Greta Gerwig’s nomination serves as the first time in eight years (almost a decade!) that a female has been nominated in the category, and marks the first time that a female director has been nominated for her directing debut –– but Christopher Nolan is also likely emerge victorious. “Dunkirk,” one of the highest grossing films of 2017, is a testament to his directorial prowess. Nolan was able to make his historical war movie — a genre we’ve all seen before — feel raw and intense without the need for excess explosions and effects.

Best Actor: Gary Oldman

Here’s a category where we’d put money down on our choice and not break a sweat. Having won Best Actor at the Golden Globes and then again at the SAG Awards a few weeks later, it’s a safe bet to predict that Gary Oldman will win this award at the Oscars. His transformation into the great Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, which required wearing a fat suit and makeup that took hours to apply, is considered one of his most impressive performances to date. This win would serve as Gary Oldman’s first Academy Award.

Best Actress: Frances McDormand

Best Actress is as competitive as ever at the 2018 Academy Awards. There were many impressive performances throughout the year that all deserve recognition, but only one leading lady is going into the Oscars with momentum. Frances McDormand has already netted Golden Globe and SAG Awards for Best Actress for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, making her the reasonable winner of this race. It would be a well-deserved recognition for a remarkable performance from a truly great actress.

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell

Both Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project, produced by NYFA Instructor Darren Dean), and Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water), are certainly among the favorites to take home this award.

At the top of the list, however, is Sam Rockwell for his large performance in Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. This role has earned Rockwell widespread acclaim, not to mention a two SAG awards, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA Award nomination. His impressive acting abilities are on full display in the 2017 crime drama alongside other incredible talents like Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson, who also received praise for their performances.

Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney

This is another extremely tight category where we can easily see the award go to more than one talented actress.

While Best Supporting Actress nominee Mary J. Blige has made Oscar history this year as the first person ever to be nominated for an original song and acting in the same year, it seems likely that the decision for this category will come down to either Laurie Metcalf for her role in Lady Bird and Allison Janney for hers in I, Tonya, with the latter being our prediction.

Janney has already won a handful of awards for her memorable portrayal of this imperious mother — a performance that created more talk than the rest of the cast.

Other Categories:

Best Animated Feature: Coco

In a year where there aren’t many strong contenders in the animated feature category, it would be the surprise of the night not to see Disney Pixar take home the gold.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Mudbound

Dee Rees’ American period drama, based on Hillary Jordan’s novel and fueled by a fantastic screenplay, is a top contender for this category. While Rees’ exclusion from the Best Director category for Mudbound is already seen as the season’s most controversial snub, with the film receiving both Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Acting nominations, the multi-hyphenate filmmaker has absolutely broken barriers and made Oscar history as the first woman of color nominated in this category.

Best Original Screenplay: Lady Bird

This poignant coming-of-age tale has earned an impressive amount of awards and nominations in various categories, making it a likely winner in this one.

Best Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049

The gold statuette for this category could easily go to either Dunkirk or Mudbound — the latter making history by helping Rachel Morrison become the first woman ever nominated. At the end of the day, we’re predicting that the amazing cinematographic work that went into Villeneuve’s impactful sci-fi film Blade Runner 2049 will set it apart as the winner.

Best Costume Design: The Shape of Water

With a category as unpredictable as this one, we have to go with The Shape of Water, which was snubbed in the makeup and visual effects categories.

Best Film Editing: Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a perfect example of Nolan’s ability to captivate audiences by showing the anxiety and horror of war across intertwined characters and events.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Darkest Hour

Like we mentioned before, the fact that Gary Oldman was able to deliver his stunning performance in a fat suit and after hours of makeup is enough to convince us.

Best Original Score: Phantom Thread

In arguably the toughest category to select a prediction, we’re placing our bets on Jonny Greenwood’s work for Phantom Thread. His moving musical score, which has already earned numerous nominations and awards elsewhere, did an admirable job of further heightening the acclaimed screenplay and direction of the film.

Best Production Design: The Shape of Water

Another close fight where any nominee can hear their name called up. At the end of the day, it’s The Shape of Water that impressed the most with a real-life twist to its fairy-tale world.

Best Original Song: Remember Me from Coco

Plenty of excellent choices but only room for one winner — and our prediction is Coco’s memorable lullaby. A close runner up is “Mighty River” from Mudbound, a nomination that made history by making Mary J. Blige the  first woman of color nominated in both this category and Best Supporting Actress.

Best Sound Editing & Sound Mixing: Dunkirk

In a film with little dialogue and lots of acting, it was the excellent sound editing that helped keep us engrossed by what takes place in Nolan’s war drama.

Best Visual Effects: War for the Planet of the Apes

We feel this year is when these visually groundbreaking films finally earn an award for their cutting-edge performance-capture work.

Best Foreign Language Film: In the Fade

Though not a lock, Critics’ Choice Award and Golden Globe wins might be enough to set this German film apart as winner.

Best Documentary Feature: Faces Places

Agnès Varda’s documentary about traveling portrait painters is expected to pull ahead and win the gold. Varda, a French woman who has been a filmmaker for more than 60 years, made Oscar history this year when she became the oldest-ever nominee, at the age of 89.

Best Animated Short: Lou

Pixar Animation Studios tackles schoolyard bullying in this inspiring animated short by the iconic Emeryville studio.

Best Live Action Short: The Eleven O’Clock

Our bold prediction is that Derin Seale’s humorous live action short will upset other clear winners on Oscars night.

Best Documentary Short: Heroin(e)

For this close category we can’t help but side with Heroin(e), a doc that follows Huntington, West Virginia’s fire chief, a local judge, and an impassioned volunteer — all women — as they battle to save lives from opioid addiction in a town where the overdose rate is 10 times the national average. Our very own Kristen Nutile, a NYFA Documentary Filmmaking teacher, served as editor on the film.

IDA: Window to the World of Filmmaking

by Sanora Bartels

When students ask me what’s the best thing they can do when starting out as a documentary filmmaker, I always tell them: “Join IDA!”

IDA is the International Documentary Association and students can join for $35 a year — a small price to pay given the wealth of access to high-level documentaries and their directors, producers, writers and editors.

To give a “for instance,” on Jan. 6, 2018, IDA held a Master Class with Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing in Los Angeles, CA at Netflix Studio facilities — a beautiful new building next to the old KTLA building on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  Driving onto the lot was a pleasure and everyone involved with the day was enthusiastic and welcoming, including Netflix’s Director of Original Documentary Programming Jason Springarn-Koff.  In other words, attendees were rubbing elbows with the people in charge of obtaining new work for Netflix.

More important than the welcoming atmosphere was the opportunity to hear Rachel and Heidi share their experiences making documentaries: Boys of Baraka, Jesus Camp, 12th & Delaware, Detropia, and their latest, One of Us.

They shared clips of their films and spoke specifically of the individual challenges faced with each project. Tickets were limited (100 people were in attendance in the filled to capacity screening room) and there was time for Q&A throughout the Master Class.

NYFA documentary alum Valentine Rosado and classmates on set.

One of the most important pieces of advice Heidi and Rachel gave that day (and there were many) was to hold off pitching your project until you have secured unique access to the subject or story.  

In this era of internet and email, the most important tool to help documentarians secure access is the phone. The filmmaker must make the call and connect one-on-one with the people important to the story. Once you have developed a relationship with the people involved, you can then pitch your story without fear of a production company saying, “Yeah, great idea, thanks for bringing it wrapped in bow, we’ll get right on that,” And then proceeding to put their own team on it.

Yet access can be tricky and often it’s not just as simple as a phone call.

While researching One of Us, the filmmakers learned about Footsteps, an organization designed to help individuals leave the Ultra-Orthodox world of Hasidic Judaism.  With the permission of the organization, they hung out in the lobby of the non-profit for months in order to develop relationships with individuals and possibly use them to tell the story of the difficulty in leaving an oppressive community. Heidi and Rachel estimated that they spent nearly a year developing access and casting their documentary.

Spending a few hours with Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady reminded me that Documentary Filmmaking requires patience and steel-eyed persistence tempered by a genuine compassion for your characters as they share their lives and story.  

The reminder came at a bargain price.

4 Ways Movie Casting is Different From TV Casting

With television’s creativity and talent blossoming in recent years, it’s becoming more usual to see A-List actors and big budgets gracing the small screen. In terms of production value, there’s not a lot to distinguish a show like Game of Thrones from major theatrical releases. Even so, casting for film and television can make different demands on an actor. Just as on-camera acting differs from stage acting, television acting (and hence casting) is different from that of casting for film … and even within television, there is a are a variety of factors casting directors have in mind.

We’ve created this list to help you make intelligent decisions when you get called for your next big audition.

  1. In film, the script is complete.

Sure some films will demand improvisation and require some rewriting during production, but in general the outcome of the film is determined long before an actor is called to audition, which means that the director and producers have a good idea of what they want for the part.

  1. Television scripts are waiting to be written.

On the other hand, television — and in particular television pilots — are an opportunity for actors to create a role, and your personality will at least in part determine the arc of the character as the show enjoys years of success! The viewers will be tuning in to see you, and the writers will be writing for you, so your personality needs to shine through in the audition.

  1. Not all television casting is created equal.

Of course, even casting for pilots in prime time shows is different than for a recurring role in an established show and different again for casting for a guest in a single episode.

Casting director Marci Phillips lays it out in The Present Actor: “One And Done Episodic roles are trickier. When we’re casting Series Regulars, we’re looking for Stars. This usually isn’t so when we’re looking to cast the rest of the episode. With an Under-5 or small Co-star TV role, you are usually there for exposition. You are there to serve and support the story, so they don’t necessarily want someone unique or fascinating unless that’s what the role specifically calls for.”

  1. Network casting vs. cable.

Cable shows have become increasingly filmic in recent years, and hence the performances of the actors more nuanced. Scenes are allowed to unfold without regards to commercial breaks, so it’s important to think about the kind of show you’re auditioning for: network or cable.

As this article at Cast It Talent suggests, network performances tend to be more condensed: “Television programs are built around commercial breaks, and to make sure you don’t change the channel, that’s when the victim tells the detective they know who the killer really is. A dramatic pause, music cue, and the camera slowly inches closer to the detective’s astonished/puzzled/worried face. Cut to commercial.”

Sound confusing? The only way to really grasp the differences is to perform many scenes and practice auditioning for a variety of roles. The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is a great place to learn the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in technique required for film and television acting, so that, when you get to your big-break audition, you will nail it.

Ready to learn more about acting for the screen? Check out our acting programs.

6 Tips for Working With an Editor

As a director, you may have trouble putting your baby in another’s hands. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about your project for years. But working with an editor will be a vital part of being a professional filmmaker, and learning how an editor works can help your film be its best. Here we offer six tips for establishing a relationship with the person who holds the keys to turning your countless hours of hard-earned footage into a film.

  1. Choose your editor wisely.

You will likely be spending a lot of time with your editor, and there may be tense moments of disagreement, so be sure you choose one you like! It’s important that you get along as well as respect their work. As quoted in this MovieMaker article, Michelle Morgan (L.A. Times) gives this important bit of wisdom: “You should never hire an editor that you don’t want to sit and have a beer with.”

  1. Let your editor do her job.

Perhaps the biggest mistake a director can make is to micromanage the editing process. Besides the fact that you’ll be stepping on the toes of your editor, who is an artist in her own right, you’ll be less likely to allow for the objectivity of a person who has come to the project relatively late, and who can look at it with fresh eyes.

  1. Learn how to edit.

This may sound contradictory to the above, but learning what’s possible in the editing process can help you avoid missteps. “I love working with directors who have an understanding of editing,” editor Joi McMillon told MovieMaker, “because I feel like a lot of times when they ask me to do something, and I say, ‘I would love to do that but you don’t necessarily have the material to make that happen,’ they understand.”

  1. Give your editor a room of her own.

Having a quiet room of one’s own is crucial to the creative process, and this is particularly true for your editor. Perhaps this is your first film and super low budget, but packing your editor into a space with lots of distractions is going to hinder her work.

  1. Remember the editor is there to serve the story too.

If you find yourself constantly doubting your editor and question her decisions, it may help to remember that she is also there to serve the story. You did not bring her on board to be an automaton, but as a skilled artist who can serve your story best if she is allowed to work with some degree of freedom.

  1. Give postproduction room to breathe.

Rushing the postproduction process will likely cause thoughtless decisions to impact your film. As The 6 Stages of Editing as a Film Director hints, “Never be afraid to let the first cut ‘rest’ for a few days so everyone involved can see it with fresh eyes.”

Filmmaking is a stressful, deadline-driven business, but you will do your film a disservice if you do not allow a little breathing room, so that you and your editor are not forced to make snap decisions that you’ll regret when you see the finished product on a big screen, with an audience to witness!

Unexpected Places for Finding Your Next Monologue

Whether you act primarily in theatre or on camera, there will come a time when you are asked to perform a monologue. Instead of dusting off that old piece you’ve been performing for years, or turning to a book of monologues that every other actor you’re up against is also clutching, why not look for something fresh? Not only will it be more engaging for you, but an unexpected monologue will be more likely to impress and delight that important casting director or agent.

How to avoid the expected:

Of course there are no hard and fast rules in auditioning — what works for one actor, casting director, agent, and so on, will likely vary vastly. But in general, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of overdone monologues. If the person you’re auditioning for starts mouthing the words with you, it may prove disheartening.

So perhaps you might check in with the lists of overdone monologues at MonologueAudition.com, before you commit.

Look to your favorite films:

Sometimes actors pick monologues that are overdone because they feel like only a classic scene will prove one’s talents. But pretty much every movie has a scene when someone talks for a minute or two — and that’s a monologue. It’s often an important moment in the story when the character is wanting something desperately from the other character and in the process they reveal their most private feelings.

We often don’t notice monologues as such because they are in the context of conversation. If the conversation is interesting, you’ll not notice that one person has had center stage for a minute or two. Try it! Watch any movie you love, and pay attention to the key scenes. There will likely be a monologue in there!

And never fear, if the interlocutor interjects with an “mm hmm,” or “right on,” you can just accept that kind of encouragement as nonverbal, or simply cut it out completely.

So the first thing to remember is that monologues can be buried in plain sight, and the second thing to remember is that you can often find a good one simply by doing a little editing.

 

Don’t limit yourself to plays and screenplays:

In this persuasive article called Why You Should Have 20 Monologues, Karen Kohlhaas offers some examples of unexpected places to look for monologues — including interviews with famous writers, artists, astronauts, or even everyday people who might be in the news or interviewed over the course of a documentary. But she reminds us, “Make sure you end up with a clear beginning, middle, climax and end.”

Importantly, Kohlhaas urges actors to embrace the challenge. “Looking to someone else to choose material for them puts actors in a passive position — which they are in too often in this business!”

It might take a little more work to look for monologues outside the monologue sites and books, and to do a little editing to make them right, but the process will likely make that monologue meaningful for you and special for your audience.

In what unexpected places have you found your best monologues? Let us know in the comments below! Ready to learn more about acting? Enroll at the New York Film Academy’s Acting School today.

How to Style Your Cinematography like Steven Spielberg

From “Jaws” to “The Color Purple,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spielberg has given us many of the most iconic moments in cinema. We have already extolled the genius of Spielberg in this previous NYFA article, but today we examine some of the specific cinematographic techniques he employs to achieve such spectacular results to help inspire your own cinematographic stylings.

Sideways tracking shot.

A sideways tracking shot follows the movement of the characters. Although it is a classic technique, Spielberg makes it his own. “Spielberg adds considerable visual texture to the shots by putting all manner of objects and extras between the camera and the two main subjects, to enhance the richness of the frame and the visual perception of movement,” writes this LA Video Filmmaker article.

Spielberg also uses the variant of having the actors approach the camera after tracking, ending in a close-up, as exampled by the scene in “Jaws” when the camera tracks Brody and his wife to the fateful boat.

Introducing a character.

As the below video essay details, Spielberg often uses either action or fraction (glimpses of body parts or features) to introduce his protagonists, and some of his most memorable introductions employ both. Think of one of the most iconic character introductions of all film time: to Indiana Jones in the first “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

[Spielberg how to introduce characters: ]

The long take.

A long take, aka a “oner,” is a continuous shot played out in real time. Unlike other directors, Spielberg’s long takes tend to be less stylized and more emotionally driven. As this No Film School article puts it, “Spielberg disguises these long takes in a number of ways, allowing audiences to become immersed in the dramatic energy of the scene without feeling the kinetic energy of the camera.” For some examples from everything from “Saving Private Ryan” to “Jurassic Park,” check out this video by Tony Zhou.

Over the shoulder.

Over the shoulder shots are common enough in cinema, but Spielberg uses dramatic and claustrophobic over the shoulder shots to create effects that push the boundaries of classic cinematographic framing. The dramatic shot uses a wide lens, making the character in the foreground look bigger than the other character, which conveys a feeling of dominance. The claustrophobic shot increases the amount of shoulder in the frame, pushing the main subject away from center. This article offers some “pretty pictures” to illustrate these techniques in “Amistad” and “Munich.”

Frame within a frame.

A cinematic frame within a frame utilizes physical objects–mirrors, windows, doors, power lines–to divide the frame and create striking composition. In “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” Spielberg and his cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, use a circular lamp fixture, and in “Minority Report,” they use a headset held by one of the characters in the foreground. The novelty of these framing devices suggests how you can use everyday objects for brilliant aesthetic effects.

What are your favorite examples of Spielberg cinematography? Let us know in the comments. Learn more about cinematography at the New York Film Academy.

4 Prototypes That Will Help You Survive The Road Towards a Successful Game

By Felipe Lara – Instructor, New York Film Academy Game Design

If you have led a team in the development of a new game, you probably felt at some point like the clown in the illustration above: trying to entertain people, while juggling 10 things at the same time, trying to navigate through a flimsy thin line without falling, and pulling your team along for the ride.

The fact is that making games is risky business. There is no way around this, but prototyping the right things will help you reduce risk greatly.

The main risk is of course figuring out what game you should build – what combination of game mechanics, compelling art, storytelling, and social will attract players and keep them engaged long-term. But this major risk is composed of many smaller risks: Do your game mechanics engage players? Does your game run smoothly in the delivering platform? Does your game stand out from the competition?

Although there is no way to getting rid of all risk, you can reduce and keep your risks in check before too many of them pile up and bog down your game.

This process of figuring out what product we should build is what is called product discovery. In the last few years, new methodologies have emerged that have changed the way we look at this process: lean startup, design thinking, rapid prototyping, user-centered development. These all utilize prototyping and user-testing as essential tools to help us learn what is the right product to build, how to connect with our users, and reach our goals. For a big picture view of product discovery I recommend this presentation by Teresa Torres, a coach and consultant who helps companies figure out how to build the right products.

I want to focus on 4 prototypes that will help you create a game with long-term engagement and growth. I talked in previous articles how successful games and experiences need to go through four steps: first stand out, then connect with players at an emotional level, then engage them so you can keep them for longer time, and finally get them to help you grow. Each of these steps has at least one major risk:

  • Is your game going to stand out in the crowd?
  • Will players who see your game care about trying it out?
  • Will your mechanics keep them engaged?
  • Will they talk about your game with their friends and recommend it?

The 4 prototypes below will help you validate potential solutions to overcome each of these steps:

1. Concept Art.

It might sound strange to list concept art as a prototype, but the right concept art can be a very useful tool to test two of the foundations of a successful game: how to stand out and how to connect emotionally with your target players.

In reality, players do not connect to games and experiences exactly because of the art itself, but rather because of the attitudes and points of view that the art reflects which resonate with them. Art alone will not sustain players’ interest; the “cool look” factor wears off quickly and needs to be accompanied by game mechanics and stories that continue reinforcing the points of view and theme that got players’ attention in the first place.

However, art is the easiest way to explore and start testing which themes resonate with your target players and which ones don’t. Finding the right theme and the right representation of it, will take you a long way towards standing out and connecting quickly with your players.

2. Core loop.

Having a core loop that does not engage players is probably your highest risk — and one of the most common causes of failure.

All games have a core set of activities that the player repeats over and over to advance through the game. These repeatable activities are usually called loops, and are the engine that keeps the player’s interest going. If this core loop does not keep the players’ and fulfill at least some of their initial expectations, they will quit and your game will be like a leaky bucket that needs to be refilled with new players constantly.

Needless to say, it is much harder to reach any success with a leaky bucket. I have seen many developers trying to add more and more features to their games, hoping that these features will cover the hole in their leaky core loop. The problem is that more features rarely solve the problem, and fixing the core loop is much more complicated and expensive once it is interconnected to a bunch of secondary features. In the end, they would have been better off if they had taken care of their core loop before adding a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

Prototype your core-loop and make sure it works before trying to add more features!

3. On-boarding experience.

Once you have an engaging core loop, you need to make sure that players get to it. This means that the onboarding experience — the time since your players first start playing your game until the time they get to the core loop — needs to be as smooth and engaging as possible.

Having an engaging core loop won’t help if players quit the game before getting to it. Prototype and test your onboarding experience.

4. Social loop.

There is a sequence of social activities that happen around games that go viral or form a strong player community: players are compelled to share the game or the results of the game with their friends, which in turn are compelled to start playing the game and tell other friends about it.

These activities are sometimes structured as part of the game mechanics inside the game, like in “Clash Royale,” where the core mechanics of the game involve playing with other players, joining clans, etc. But social loops can also happen outside of the game itself. In games like “Minecraft” or “Little Big Planet,” players create their own content and share it in forums and social networks, and although these activities happen outside of the game, they effectively promote the game to others.

Social loops outside of the game are harder to measure, but even looking at number of social media posts and likes can veer you in the right direction. If you care about having a game that can grow its user base organically without a highly expensive marketing campaign, you need to prototype and test your social loops.

Conclusion

Risk is part of the thrill of making new games and experiences, but building the right prototypes at the right time can help you keep your risks in check before they get out of hand and you fall into the sharks.

The 4 prototypes above are important because they help you test and validate how your game will engage players, but they are not the only ones. In the end, prototyping is about mitigating risks and the general rule is that you need to build the prototypes that tackle your higher risks first; this could be more related to the technology, or to your business model, depending on what you are innovating on.

What prototypes do you consider the most important ones? Let me know in the comments.

Learn more about game design at the New York Film Academy Game Design School.

Stanley Kubrick & One-Point Perspactive

The title “one-point perspective” is so evocative of what the technique actually does: changing your perspective.

Hi, my name is Miguel Parga, and I’m a filmmaking teacher at the New York Film Academy. That sounds almost like I’m introducing myself at a Filmmakers Anonymous meeting and I guess that’s not far from the truth. Those of us who have the film bug understand that when you’re into film, mere marginal involvement is never good enough. It often turns into an obsession. For me it’s an addiction.

Fellini said: “Film is a disease. It’s cure: more film.” He was right.

But what is it exactly that we’re addicted to? For me, it has a lot to do with the way films make me see the world in a different light.

A one-point perspective shot is when all the horizontal lines in your frame, if you were to extend them infinitely, would disappear into a point, usually at the center of the frame. That’s the vanishing point. Think about looking at a train track disappearing in the distance.

It’s no secret to those who know me that one of my favorite filmmakers is Stanley Kubrick.

Kubrick used the shot endlessly, both static and moving. Here are some examples.

Humans don’t usually see the world in one-point perspective. It happens, but it’s not that common. If you’re in a room, your eye line usually sits a bit above where it would have to be for the lines in the room to disappear into one vanishing point in the center.

In order for this to happen ,  you have to lower your gaze by about a foot.

Go ahead. Try it. Get up. Go to the middle of the room, then crouch down about a foot, and look at the room from that vantage point.

Different right? Now, walk around looking for shots.

You just forced yourself to look at the world in a different way. This is what Kubrick is making you do. Whether you want to or not, he’s forcing you to do it.

Remember that scene in “Dead Poets Society,” where Robin Williams tells his students to get up on top of his desk, just to remind themselves that they must look at the world from a different point of view?

Kubrick and his one-point perspective shots force you to look at the world differently. When you crouch down, you’re looking at the world from the point of view of somebody of that height – a child perhaps. In this way the director forces not only a change of perspective, but a psychological change as well. He wants you to look at the world through the eyes of a child.

He wants you to remember what the world looked like from that height, when your imagination was open, and you saw the universe with new eyes.

Now go watch some movies! Kubrick ones!

 

The Right Concept Art Will Save You Money: 4 Steps to Develop

By Felipe Lara – Instructor, New York Film Academy Game Design

A good piece of concept art can be used as a prototype to test one of the essential elements that your game will need to succeed: You’ll need to connect emotionally to your player. Spending on concept art is sometimes viewed as a luxury or even a distraction, but if done correctly, concept art will save you money and put you in the right direction towards developing a successful experience. In this article, I’ll dive into the significance of art, and four steps to develop effective concepts.

We all have game ideas; some good, some bad. But having an idea is far from having a concept. A concept is something more concrete and more developed, and when it is done right, it is practically a prototype that will help you validate the foundation of your game or experience: the emotional connection with your players.

Finding an Emotional Connection

One of the most important qualities of a successful game is the ability to connect emotionally with players. If you are able to connect with players and involve them emotionally through your game, you are practically on the other side. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many hurdles that can take your project off track, but you have achieved a fundamental requirement: the ability to connect and be relevant.

In a previous article I talked about the 4-step sequence that successful games follow: stand out, connect, engage, and grow. In this article, I am going to talk about how, by doing concept development the right way, you can figure out and validate early on if your game concept has the potential to stand out and connect with your target players.

The Role of Art in Your Game

The art of a game is the window to all its other elements. You access the mechanics, stories, and social features through characters, environments, and user interfaces. The right art style will help you engage your players and communicate the humor and fun of your game mechanics, or the drama of your story. The wrong one will be more of a hurdle than a helpful connector and amplifier. The right art style will also help you stand out and connect with players by communicating the mood, emotions, and theme of your game.

Concept Art as a Prototype to Validate Emotional Connection

The right concept art will reflect all the good qualities of your game: the emotions it creates, its core story, and its theme. Even if the core mechanics or story details are not represented in your concept art, the emotions resulting from them will be present. This is why the development of concept art can be a great tool to test if players connect with the basic theme and emotions of your game. Developing concept art can be a faster and cheaper way to test and validate one of the foundations of a successful game: emotional connection.

4 Steps to Create the Right Concept Art

  1. The first step is defining who is your target player, what are your goals, and what is your point of view (or the reason you care about making this game).
  2. The second step is to define a theme that your players resonate with. The only way to know if your theme resonates with an audience is by testing: pick a few members of your audience and talk to them about your theme, see if they relate with it. Remember that theme is not a topic, but rather an opinion about a topic. People don’t resonate with a topic by itself like “zombies in a post-apocalyptic world.” People resonate with views about the world that those topics make easy to represent — and that they agree with. For example, in the case of the topic “zombies in a post-apocalyptic world,” a possible theme would be “only the cut-throat can survive in the world.”
  3. Once you have defined your theme, pick an art style that also resonates with your audience, and brainstorm some ideas about possible mechanics, stories, and social interactions. I am not arguing for being a copycat regarding the art style. It is about narrowing down possibilities and starting from solid concrete examples pointing in the right direction. Once you have those, you can innovate within clear parameters. As with theme, the only way to know if your art style will resonate with your audience is by showing them pictures of similar art styles.
  4. Finally, with a clear theme, a ballpark idea about the art style, and ideas about story, mechanics, and social interactions; create a piece of concept art. This piece should represent your main activity or conflict, and your theme. Once you have something concrete, get feedback from your audience and iterate from what you learn.

If you follow these four simple steps, you will end up with a concrete piece of concept art that connects with your audience and can help you as a guide or compass throughout development. You will not have a game yet, but you will have a good foundation to build one and something concrete that can guide your decisions for the rest of the development process.

Ready to learn more about game design? Find more info about New York Film Academy Game Design including student work here.

Scheduling Screenwriting: How to Find Time to Write

Great writers often insist the best way to improve your writing is to keep practicing your craft. We all know that devoting time to writing is at least half of the effort, but how do you make the time to write? It’s easy to say that you’ll get to it when you can, but for too many writers that ends up never happening.

In need of a push to find time to schedule your screenwriting? Here are some classic tips that will help you crank out those some-day award-winning first drafts.

Create Goals

Whether you are hoping to finish your movie-length drama script or just want to write a one-act play, setting reasonable goals can help you finally finish any writing project. While free-writing is fun and great for generating ideas, having short and long-term goals can ensure that you finish your creations and beat writer’s block.

Your goals can be based on an amount of words per day or how long you should devote to writing daily. Make sure you set yourself a goal that is specific, and doable!

Set a Consistent Time to Write Daily

Routine is a writer’s best friend, believe it or not!

Even writing for a little as five or 10 minutes a day can help keep the ideas flowing. This technique works best when you set your writing time the same exact time per day. If you are most alert at 8 a.m. then write at 8 a.m. If you like to write at night, then write at night.

No matter what, keep it consistent for the best results — and write every day!

Keep a Notebook Around … Always

Think about all of the time you spend waiting at the doctor’s office or before a class starts. You have a lot more spare time than you might think!

If you take public transportation or carpool often, spend the time of the ride writing down your latest ideas and drafts. Jot down some dialogue ideas when you overhear interesting snatches of conversations around you or see something inspiring. For the nights when you come up with your next brilliant idea just before you go to sleep, keep a notebook on your nightstand to capture the ideas before you drift away to dream.

Devote a Space Specifically for Writing

It’s tempting to tell yourself that you can just write your next script while passively watching television, but let’s be honest: you probably will end up not writing at all. Instead of trying to cram writing in alongside other activities, carve out an oasis of space and time strictly for your writing.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, play your favorite music or write in total silence. Just like keeping a consistent goal and time for your writing helps you dedicate time and mental clarity to writing, creating a writing space strictly for writing will help you eliminate distractions. Do not allow your cell phone or pet to interrupt your flow!

Soon you’ll be looking forward to shutting yourself away to create new scripts every chance you can.

Do It Online

Another great way to boost your skills, keep yourself motivated, plug into community, and motivate yourself to finish projects on time is to enroll in an online screenwriting course, like those at New York Film Academy. You’ll be receiving the expert instruction of working, professional screenwriters, but with the added bonus of just enough flexibility to be able to carve out your own writing schedule. Best of all, there’s an online course for whatever you’re working on:

While making time for writing is important, having a support system to help you grow unleashes your fullest potential.

The New York Film Academy immerses screenwriting students in an interactive curriculum. From small writing workshops to teaming up with filmmakers, the program is perfect for taking talent to the next level.