Author: New York Film Academy

8 Summer Camp Packing Tips

Even if you packed weeks in advance, the morning before you head off to summer camp can be a stressful one as you check all your pockets and bags and wonder if there’s anything you forgot to bring. Maybe you won’t realize until a week into camp! By packing early and packing smart, you can do your best to avoid these stresses and focus on having the best time possible at your next camp. Here’s a few tips to help you pack for camp:

Check What the Camp Will Provide

Find out what will be provided for you at the camp by checking the camp’s website or the Packet you received after enrolling, or by calling your admissions counselors. That way you don’t have to burden yourself with redundant items. Packing light doesn’t just make your life easier; it helps you keep better track of everything you’re bringing.

Don’t Forget Shoes!

If you’re wearing a comfortable pair of shoes to travel on the day you leave for camp that are ready to fall apart, or are in a comfy pair of flip flops, you better remember to bring a better pair of shoes to survive the duration of your camp. Make sure they can survive some bad weather and will keep you comfortable—you’ll be on your feet most of the time because going to camp isn’t about sitting around playing video games all day!

Bring a Book

Bringing a book isn’t just a good idea for your trip to camp—it can a great way to unwind and relax in your downtime between camp activities. Even if you’ve brought your phone, a good old-fashioned book can do wonders. Taking your eyes off the screen and your mind out of social media can be exactly the break your brain needs at times.

Books on acting

Bring a Good Water Bottle

Staying hydrated in the heat or on a film set (which can get very hot very quickly under stage lights) is a must. New York Film Academy (NYFA) has water fountains scattered around campus, as do the parks you might find yourself in outside, so make sure you have a sturdy water bottle that can be filled at a moment’s notice.

Leave the Games At Home!

Whether it’s an iPad loaded with the best new gaming apps or a Nintendo Switch, there’s no reason to bring your favorite games to camp. Camp is about meeting new friends, learning new skills, and getting away from the trappings that surround you at home. You’ll be surrounded by fun, high-tech film equipment you can use to make your own movies, or if you’re attending NYFA’s Game Design camp, you can work on your very own video games! You may miss playing Fortnite with your buddies, but Tilted Towers will be waiting for you when you get home. You may even find the games more enjoyable after taking a much-needed break from them!

Make Sure You Have All the Gear You Need

Depending on which camp you attend at NYFA, you may need to bring certain items or types of equipment with you from home. Carefully check your camp website or check in with your admissions counselors to make sure you have exactly what you need, and don’t forget to bring everything the morning you head off for camp!

Bring the Right Bag

It’s not just important what you’re packing, but what you’re packing it in. Your bag should be large enough to fit everything with a little room to spare—just in case you need to add something last minute. It should be sturdy and able to hold everything you’re carrying, ideally with its own space for a water bottle so you can keep hydrated. Finally, you should check for any tears or holes—the last thing you need is something you remembered to pack falling out on your way to camp!

Make a List

Whether it’s a shot list or an annotated screenplay, lists are always a good practice. It’s also a great way to make sure nothing was left behind the day you leave for camp. For a week or two before you head out, start compiling a list of everything you’ll want to bring. When it comes time to pack, use this master list for a quick and painless packing session, and before you head out the door double check the list to make sure everything made it into your bags!

8 Reasons to Go to Summer Camp

Thinking about going to a camp this summer? Whether it’s a filmmaking camp, acting camp, screenwriting camp, or any other kind of camp, there’s a slew of reasons why this year you should pack your bags and head to camp! Here’s just a few:

Meet People From New Cultures

At New York Film Academy (NYFA), you’ll meet campers your age from all around the world. Whether collaborating on a short film, acting in a scene together, or hanging out in your down time, your experiences with these new cultures will only broaden and expand your own knowledge of all the world has to offer.

Boost Your Self-Esteem

Camp can be a great boost to your self-confidence. Making new friends with similar interests can be hard during the school year, but at camp this happens all the time and is a great reminder that your hobbies and passions are well worth your time! Working on new projects will show you just how much you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

Learn Problem Solving Skills

Whether it’s breaking down a script, mapping out how to shoot a scene, or learning your lines, working in the visual arts constantly requires you to use your problem solving skills. The skills you’ll pick up at camp will help you solve problems in everyday life as well, giving you patience and a mastery of critical thinking.

Problem Solving Puzzle Rubick's Cube

Find New Interests

A great thing about attending a NYFA camp is that you will be exposed to campers from other programs working on all sorts of different projects. Maybe you came to NYFA to learn how to act but discover you prefer working behind the camera instead. By seeing several visual arts being taught at once, you’ll have many opportunities to explore new interests you may not have ever considered before!

Learn Collaboration

When working in the visual arts, it is essential that you learn how to work well with others. Indeed, most movies come from the creativity and hard work of several people working together, constantly bouncing ideas off one another and workshopping problems together. NYFA camps will help you work with other campers to make the best projects possible, and teach you valuable skills you can use in life outside of camp.

Kid Child Singing Podcast

Use the Creative Side of Your Brain

During the school year, you may find yourself focusing more on math and spelling and history tests, exercising the left side of your brain more than the right. Attending a NYFA camp during the summer will help give your creative side some love, exercising your imagination and preparing you for a more well-balanced education later in the year!

Get a Head Start on the Digital Media Landscape

Digital media is constantly changing, from hardware to software to artistic and visual trends in cinema, television, and web content. NYFA camps will teach you solid fundamentals in the visual arts that will help you keep up with all the new equipment, techniques, and trends that will continue to evolve as you grow older and pursue a career.

It’s a Great Way to Spend the Summer!

While you could spend all day indoors boosting your Fortnite skills, what better way to spend the summer than trying something new and meeting a bunch of people who share similar interests! By the start of the new school year, you could have new friends and new skills in something you’re deeply passionate about—whether it’s acting, filmmaking, animation, photography, or everything else NYFA can teach you at camp!

Summer Camp Campfire Beach

7 Activities to Beat the Heat This Summer

Attending camps at New York Film Academy (NYFA) will give you all sorts of new skills and experiences, no matter which program or location you choose. While you might be coming to make new friends with shared interests and learning a particular set of skills, you’ll still have time for extracurricular activities in the evenings or during your downtime.

Here’s just some of the activities you might find yourself doing at a NYFA Camp this summer:

Game Nights

Game Nights are a favorite for NYFA campers during weeknights, where you might find yourself trying new games or teaching your friends your personal favorites! The filmmaking industry can be competitive—but not nearly as much as a game of Monopoly!

Sightseeing

Depending on the location you choose for your NYFA camp, you might be seeing a brand new city for the first time. Organized sightseeing visits with your fellow campers and counselors will show you some of the coolest places these locales have to offer.

Sightseeing Hiking Tourist

Seeing New & Classic Movies

After a long day of working hands-on with some serious film equipment, a great way to boost your filmmaking skills in a different way is to watch the masters at work. By going on trips to local movie theaters to see the latest blockbuster, or watching a classic movie from before you were born, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself and pick up some ideas for your own projects.

Museums

Similarly, going to museums can be a great way to expand your knowledge and culture, inspiring your work in ways you may have never considered. Art and history come in many forms, and the wider your repertoire the stronger your own creativity will be no matter what your discipline.

Museum Art

Cool Places to Eat

Museums can be awe-inspiring, but they don’t always have the best cheeseburgers. Camp counselors will bring you to the coolest and most interesting places to eat around town. After all, what better way to learn a new city than by trying the local cuisine!

Beaches & Theme Parks

Most NYFA camps are held during the summer, so a trip to the beach is usually a great way to beat the heat, whether it’s enjoying the sea breeze or diving into the cool, refreshing waves. You can also expect trips to local theme parks where you can challenge your new friends at boardwalk games or see who’s up for the scariest rides.

Guest Speakers

One huge advantage to attending NYFA camps is having access to NYFA’s great guest speakers. Throughout the year, actors, directors, writers, producers, animators, photographers, and other luminaries from every discipline will come and speak to NYFA students. If they happen to be speaking during your stay at NYFA, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to learn directly from the greats!

Adam Driver

Student Essay: How NYFA Counseling Services Helped Me

The following is a short piece written by Pooja Sudhir, a 2018 graduate of New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking in New York City. When she left NYFA, Pooja said she wanted other students to know what it was like to try therapy on our campus.

I moved to New York City in January 2018. I had just turned 22.

It was the first weekend of March, the initial excitement of my new life had died down and the that fact that this was my new routine had slowly started to sink in.

I came home after classes (I had Monday off and we didn’t have class until 3:40 pm on Tuesday) and it was the first time where I had no assignments that kept me occupied, and no distant relatives visiting me. It suddenly occurred to me that I knew no one apart from a few friends I had made at school.

The weather was bad for me to go and explore the city; most people seemed to prefer staying indoors. This is completely contrary to how my social life was back home in Bangalore, India. Keeping in touch with people back home was hard because of the time difference. It became less about communication and more about exchanging information.

By then, I had already started noticing that I had started to fidget—something I never did before.

I used to wake up every morning feeling extremely anxious for no specific reason. There was this constant physical stress I felt, constant agitation and restlessness.   

On that day, my left hand started to shiver. I am usually someone who respects personal space but, for the first time, I felt like I wanted to hold somebody’s hand. Even watching something on Netflix seemed like a task. That was the day I decided to write to NYFA’s school therapist, Jacky.

I didn’t really understand the reality of relocating to a new country until a few days after it happened. I constantly pressured myself to believe that I was happy and that I was okay, because I genuinely believed I had no reason not to be “okay.”  

My loved ones were extremely supportive of my decision to seek out help, so I had no inhibitions about reaching out. I started my journey wanting to address homesickness and through the process, Jacky and I touched upon many minute chapters of my life—stories and secrets that’ll stay safe with my therapist forever.

For anyone wanting to reach out, I’d like them to know that there is nothing wrong or weak about asking for help. Throughout my journey, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was okay to admit that I wasn’t okay. I was suddenly comfortable being vulnerable when I needed to be.

In my last session with Jacky, I promised myself that I will never hide the fact that I have reached out for help from professionals, and that I will always encourage my friends and family to seek out help when they need it, even if they have apprehensions about doing so.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and has been observed in the United States since 1949. New York Film Academy urges all students, alumni, staff, and faculty to prioritize themselves and their own mental health, and throughout May will host a series of events to both raise mental health awareness and provide a therapeutic outlet for those in need.

The Best Tips For Making a Short Film in a Short Amount of Time

There are any number of reasons you might have a limited amount of time to create a short film (even from scratch), including intentionally for competitions like the Asian American Film Lab72-Hour Shootout. Time is one of the most valuable resources a filmmaker can have, so creating a short film in a crunch can be quite the challenge.

New York Film Academy has pooled advice from the chairs and faculty of our many different departments—including Cinematography, Producing,Filmmaking, and Digital Editing—to give a well-balanced list of offered tips and best practices for creating the best possible short film in a short amount of time:

Story

Try to come up with a great idea that works in a few minutes. Keep the concept simple and focused. A good logline can help you focus your idea and keep you from wandering too far off course.

Come up with a story that can believably occur in a very short amount of time, even ten minutes. Your actual film’s running time doesn’t need to be that long, but you will be able to dramatize shorter events in a more grounded way.

Actors


Cast carefully. Some actors may be more comfortable with ample rehearsal time, so make sure they know the time restrictions of your shoot.

Allow your actors to contribute. If they’re inventive, give them a chance to improvise. Shoot takes with alternate lines of dialogue. This can be especially effective in comedies.

When directing your actors, remember these tips:

Let your actor know what their objective in each scene is.

Make sure you and your actor are on the same page about their character and their motivations. If you disagree, take a few minutes to discuss, listen, and compromise.

Be there for your actor. While some actors may prefer to do things their own way, most seek and thrive on direction, even if it’s just pointing them the right way, metaphorically speaking.

Or literally speaking! Blocking is very important not just for your framing but for the intensity of the scene itself. Work with your actors to find the right blocking for each scene–what feels right for them and what looks best for the camera.

Producing

Make sure your schedules are detailed out to the minute and remember that communication between cast and crew is key. By having everyone’s contact information and by communicating clearly where everyone is expected to be and when, you can avoid unnecessary delays in production. Give them directions and expected travel times to the set.

Organize your days so you can shoot several scenes in one day. If you have multiple locations, select the key location for the day and then find your other locations in the immediate area.  Moving locations can be a killer and waste tons of time. Try to group scenes together that use the same cast members and costumes. Be efficient in your scheduling and don’t be afraid to shoot out of order or out of sequence. Schedule your exteriors first—that way, if it rains you have the option of delaying those scenes until the following day. And have a cover set (or interior) waiting to go, so you can move inside and not lose a shooting day

Equipment

Put together an inexpensive but effective equipment list. Your story won’t be improved with more pixels, but you also don’t want your camera breaking down in the middle of your shoot. Test all the gear before you leave for the set.

Once you’re on location, if something breaks and has to be replaced, you’re going to lose valuable time. Don’t be afraid to be inventive. You may not have a professional dolly but some of the most inventive directors come up with novel solutions that actually make their shots more interesting.

Make sure all batteries and other accessories are charged before the shoot, and spares are being charged during the shoot. Remember, with only three days to shoot, every minute counts and every delay needs to be avoided at all costs.

Acting Audition

Cinematography

Don’t be afraid of using natural lights and don’t be afraid if not everything is lit and bright. Often enough, beauty lies in the darkness. Silhouettes, high contrast, backlighting, and dramatic shadows can create a very dynamic and powerful cinematographic look.  

When shooting a scene, start with your biggest shot first and then shoot all your closer shots looking in the same direction. Then turn around and, again, start with your biggest shot and work progressively closer.  

Sound

Sound, on the other hand, is another issue. Bad sound is often said to be the hallmark of amateur filmmaking. If your audience is struggling to understand what your actors are saying, there won’t be much room left for emotional involvement. So do everything you can, within your limitations, to get the best sound/dialogue recorded on the set. Whoever said, “we’ll fix it in post,” must have had tons of money, so erase those words from your vocabulary.

Keep sound in mind before you even begin filming–make sure the locations you choose and even the story you tell will be make your sound recording as easy as possible. If you can, have a good portion of your film dialogue free, with scenes that can use music or non-sync sound in their stead, as sync sound will always take longer to shoot.

Digital Editing

When working in post-production, remember it’s ok to be ruthless–do not be afraid to cut, even if it means undoing hours of work. Always, always, always back up your project and footage in different locations. Save often so you don’t lose any time due to a computer error. Learn to say goodbye to your mouse and learn keyboard shortcuts to become a faster and more efficient video editor–with only three days to make your film, every second counts!

GENERAL PRODUCTION DO’s AND DON’T’s

Keep your productions simple. Limit the number of cast members. Limit the number of locations. Avoid big scenes with elaborate sets, costumes and props. Stay away from period pieces, children and animals—they are far too unpredictable. And be as professional as you can be. Although you may want to break the rules when it comes to content, there’s a good reason professional shoots are organized the way they are. The better prepared you are, the more likely you will capture your vision.

You can register for the Asian American Film Lab 72-Hour Shootout here.

Acting Scams: How to Identify and Avoid Them

With lots of actors and performers looking for a job, the film industry can be a treasure trove for many scam artists which are incredibly adept at taking advantage of decent people. Aspiring actors who have recently graduated from drama and acting schools are more likely to fall for the hook of con artists due to a lack of professional experience.

Acting Scams

However, if actors just starting out know how to spot and fend off these cons, they have no reason to worry. Especially for those vulnerable recent graduates, experts from Vip-Writers have collected and described some of the most common acting frauds an average performer usually has to deal with at the beginning of their career:

Manager Scams

In the film industry, there can be many swindlers who pretend to be legit managers. They usually ask aspiring actors to pay a “submission fee.” They convince their victims that they are using their funds for submitting them for acting roles and that performers should cover these costs themselves. Meanwhile, these con artists rarely try to actually help the performers get their careers started.

Both fresh grads and experienced performers should note that honest managers never ask performers to pay them anything but an industry norm of 10-20 percent cut of what actors earn while being promoted by them.

Talent Agent Scams

This scheme is very similar to those used by those pretending to be legitimate managers. The latter introduce themselves as talent agents and give naive performers big promises and false hopes since “they are very talented and have all the chances to succeed professionally.”

These scammers blow smoke at aspiring performers telling them about many superstars they claim to have found and represented. In fact, every actor should be weary of all offers that seem to be too good to be true.

These “professionals” usually give actors their contact info and lots of promises. Once these performers call these agents to get more info about an offer, they are always asked to pay additional and/or random fees they probably weren’t told about ahead of time. These excess fees are a clear red flag you should always be weary of.

Online Scams

Since the Internet has become a primary source to find casting calls, and since it is very easy to set up fake websites and social media accounts, many scammers perpetuate their fraud online. There are many scam-like platforms charging a fee to performers to post their headshots, and many in the end do little to nothing with these resumes.

To fend off online fraud, performers should only use well-known, legitimate websites, and keep away from services asking them to pay unnecessary fees!

Contract Scams

Another type of fraud very popular with shady agents can happen to new actors and seasoned ones alike. For all performers, it is important to be alert when signing off on any official documents. Therefore, they should ask a legal counsel to read the fine print before agreeing to the contract terms–no matter how legitimate their prospective talent agent or manager seems.

There are many impostors tending to include outrageous terms on these contracts, which green performers may be willing to accede to. It can often be worth paying extra money for legal counsel; otherwise, these actors take the risk of signing away their rights to scam artists.

No honest professional will be insulted by performers asking for a few days to familiarize themselves with a document and show it to a legal counsel. Legitimate professionals also know about these frauds and thus are flexible with the actors’ requests. If someone insists on a contract being signed right away, then this is definitely a red flag.

The longer acting school graduates pursue their profession, the better their gut instinct will get at identifying and avoiding various types of acting frauds. Since fresh grads are just starting their career, they should take every offer with an abundance caution–better safe than sorry!

Interested in Applying? Click Here

 

From Book to Screen: Adapting Philip Roth’s ‘Indignation’

On Thursday, December 20, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a guest lecture by producer, production attorney, and NYFA board member, Avy Eschenasy. Eschenasy is the principal of Eschenasy Consulting, which provides advisory services in connection with all business aspects of motion picture production, financing, and distribution.

Previously, Eschenasy was a senior executive at Focus Features from 2002 until 2013, where he was Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning, Business Affairs and Acquisitions. Eschenasy is known for producing Indignation (2016), Casting JonBenét (2017), and A Prayer Before Dawn (2017).

Avy Eschenasy

Eschenasy began the lecture by discussing how the book Indignation by Philip Roth, was optioned to be produced as a feature film. In order for a producer to option a book, they must pay the publisher an “option fee.”

“That fee entitles [producers] to exclusively have the opportunity to buy the rights [to produce the book as a film]” said Eschenasy, “for a limited time period, usually 12 to 18 months” if the producer can find a production company or movie studio that wants to produce the optioned book as a film.

If the producer can find a production company or movie studio that is interested in producing the book as a film, then they would pay the publisher an additional fee for the exclusive opportunity to produce the book as a film. That means that once Eschenasy purchased the rights to produce Roth’s Indignation, Roth’s publishing company was not allowed to sell the option or production rights to any other producers.

Avy Eschenasy

Eschenasy went on to discuss turning the book into a screenplay. In order to get a book adapted to a screenplay, the producer must negotiate with a screenwriter, usually a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

In the contract with the screenwriter, the producer outlines fees paid for the first couple drafts of the script and many times will pay an additional fee if the film makes it all the way to production and distribution. The fees paid to a writer also depend on how they are credited: for example, a writer that has written a script alone would be paid more than a writer that co-wrote a script with one or more partners.

Once the script is finalized, it is time to focus on production. The producer needs to have a “package” ready to prepare for launching production, said Eschenasy. “The script, cast, the director, and the budget.”

Avy Eschenasy

The budget is put together by a line producer and then the producer must try to raise that amount of money to make the film; with independent films like Indignation, this money is typically raised with “pre-sales” to distributors. A “pre-sale” is a contract between the production team and distributors that outlines stipulations that the production team must follow in order to secure financing from the distributor; usually the distributor’s agreement is contingent upon the producer promising a script and a known actor. A way to save money during production is to shoot in a state or a country with tax credits for film and television productions; because of this and a few other reasons, Indignation was shot in New York.

For Indignation, a big part of the production “package” was the actor, Logan Lerman, best known for starring in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). Eschenasy needed a name like Lerman to get distributors interested, but he also needed to make Lerman and his representatives feel confident in Indignation as a production; producers get actors and their representatives to trust their productions with contracts. The contract outlines the shoot schedule, the actor’s “billing” (much like the writer’s “credit” discussed earlier), the fee paid to the actor (including bonuses if the actor wins awards for the role), and perks if applicable.

After all the negotiations and contracts were completed and all of the necessary funds were raised, Indignation went into production. Everything went well during the production phase and then it moved to post-production. Once the final cut of the film was finished, Indignation was entered in the Sundance Film Festival, where it was received very well by critics. Lionsgate Entertainment made an offer to distribute the film in the United States and Sony Pictures Entertainment made and offer to distribute the film to the majority of the international market. After all of their hard work, the Indignation production team got the film made, critically acclaimed, and distributed all over the world.

New York Film Academy would like to thank Avy Eschenasy for sharing his industry expertise and experiences getting Indignation produced with our students!

6 Tips For Building Your Film Portfolio

Even with all the connections in the world, and the most expensive camera money can buy, you probably won’t go too far in the film industry without a great body of work. Your portfolio is arguably the most important asset you have, and in order to gain the attention of the people you want to meet and work with, your portfolio must be relevant and meaningful.

How do you build this portfolio? If you’re struggling on how to get your portfolio in motion, here’s six useful tips for getting started:

Stay Active in School

As a film student, it can be easy to get caught up in exciting plans for the future (or even the weekend), but you should keep in mind that the school projects you’re currently working on aren’t just for a grade – they are your time to build a portfolio.

Your time in film school, while it can sometimes seem neverending, is perhaps one of the few times in your entire career where you sit down and entirely focus on YOU. Not your clients, your boss, your producer – no, you are focusing entirely on self-improvement during film school. Taking advantage of this time and taking it seriously will be the biggest way to get a jumpstart on your portfolio.

Get ahead in school and make the most of it by:

  • Quit procrastinating and get started early. Act like you’re getting paid to work on every project.
  • Stay humble and assume your work needs improvement whenever possible.
  • Ask instructors lots of questions and don’t be afraid to bug them.
  • Volunteer to assist other classmates with shoots and edits.
  • Ask for feedback on your work from classmates and instructors.
  • Attend extracurricular workshops and events whenever possible.

Search the closest job boards and attend school functions to connect with your most experienced teachers or fellow students. Initiating relationships with these people will provide you with a valuable network of directors, editors, and actors. Your network will follow you when you graduate.

YouTube

Start a YouTube Series

When you’re competing for gigs in the film industry, it’s highly advantageous to showcase a multifaceted skill set. Soon after graduation, challenge yourself to write, produce, and direct an original series. Execute the entire process from inception to final product to marketing it.

Regardless of the success, completing this project will give you real world experience creating and producing a project from end to end. It will also send the message to potential hiring producers that you have the work ethic and diligence to finish what you started. Many people coming out of film school have never put together their own project or have what it takes to see something through outside of film school. Don’t get too caught up in view counts or trying to launch the next Stranger Things, the key is that having the ability to show that you can produce a whole series will speak volumes.

IMDb Pro

IMDb pro is a useful resource for obtaining the contact information of nearly anyone in the film industry. There is a monthly membership fee, but you will benefit greatly from being able to reach thousands of producers, directors, editors, and crew. The service provides filmographies and credits for millions of titles along with access to in-development projects not listed on IMDb. Many of these features will gain importance as you progress in your career and must evaluate track records, cast relationships, and search for casting alternatives.   

When you’re first developing your portfolio, you should use this tool to contact people you’re interested in working with. Get creative on how you can become a part of their network and give them a call. Rather than spam the entire catalogue, do your homework on the person you’re contacting and know the right time to make your move. Lead with your strengths and learn to project confidence rather than desperation. If you are genuine and effective, doors will open.

Start In Commercial Work

Every artist would like full-time film work, but sometimes things don’t line up immediately. Commercial & corporate video work can help keep you active in the general video production industry. Apply for corporate video jobs or offer services to business owners in your personal network to make web videos, commercials, marketing content, and other videos they might need. Even if you make a few thousand dollars, it’s money that can be used to refine your portfolio even further. You can pull shots from these videos that look more film-like to build your overall demo reel and they’ll never know it was a small business video.

48 Hour Film Project

The 48 Hour Film Project is a multi-city contest in which teams of participants draw a genre from a hat and then write, shoot, and edit a movie in 48 hours. Teams have full control over plots except for a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue that must appear in their film. The award for Best Film and a cash prize is awarded to entries that demonstrate artistic merit, technical merit, and adherence to the assignment. Films are then premiered at a local theatre for friends and family.

An event like this is a fun way to add a completed project to your portfolio. Additionally, if you produce a good piece, there’s always a chance you could win. Contestants have gone on to have success in other film festivals and others used recognition of their film to get paying work. Film Festivals are also great vehicles for making connections with people in your craft, particularly those who have an interest in your preferred genre. Make the most of the platform these organizations provide in order to get new people talking about your work.

Photo Editing Photoshop Lightroom

Produce Music Videos

Music videos are one of the more fun ways to bring good work to your portfolio. There is constant demand for this service from young people who are rappers, singers, or in bands. Building a network of music artists is considerably easy to do via Twitter or Instagram. As you acquire more paying clients, shooting music videos can turn into a solid source of money for new equipment. It is actually much easier to get funding for these videos than a short film.

Creating videos for music artists allows you to explore creatively and will add things to your portfolio that commercial work won’t. Try to find artists who are looking to incorporate elements of film to their videos. While music videos are generally 2-3 minutes long, they usually welcome obscure or artistic concepts. It’s the perfect chance to showcase precise visual storytelling, and to capture a few extra shots for your demo reel.  

 

Article by Mike Clum.

Mike Clum is the founder of Clum Creative, a corporate video production company that employs 16 full-time video production professionals.

 

The Cyanotype Process: What is Cyanotype Photography?

Recently, New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Photography Co-Chair Kean O’Brien created a Cyanotype workshop for alumni at NYFA instructor Andrew Hall’s darkroom in downtown Los Angeles.

Cyanotype is one of the oldest photographic processes we know of, and has a distinctive blue color. Cyanotypes are made by treating a surface — paper, cloth or leather — with iron salts which then react to UV light. Originally used to document botanical specimens by placing them on treated papers and exposing them to the sun, it was also an early way to create copies of drawings, especially architectural drawings – thus the name “blueprints.”

Cyanotype

O’Brien worked with NYFA Instructor Andrew Hall before the workshop to pre-coat papers with the cyanotype chemistry so it would be dry and ready to go when participants arrived. But he also demonstrated the process on a large mural print he was making for one of his art projects that is up for an award.

First, he and Hall taped O’Brien’s paper to the table using Frogtape — a green tape with little tack so it wouldn’t damage the paper — and then measured out the chemicals. Cyanotype is equal parts ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. Measuring each chemical separately so as not to add too much, he combined them in a glass bowl and began brushing on the mixture as evenly as possible onto the paper. Then he used a hair-dryer to dry the paper, and the rest of class went upstairs to begin laying out our cyanotypes.

Many students had followed O’Brien’s instructions from the previous week and printed black and white negatives to match the pre-coated paper size. Some used pieces of glass and cut out shapes instead, and some used a mixture of both. Once the negatives and ephemera were placed on the pre-treated sheets, they were put under glass and transferred to a large UV Light box that acted like an oven to bake our prints for 10 minutes each.

Everyone in the group were able to get several prints done each and experiment with various timings and placements. After exposing to UV light, the class went downstairs to Hall’s darkroom and washed the remaining chemistry off the prints until the water ran clear, then squeegeed the remaining water off and lay them in the drying racks to dry.

It was fun NYFA faculty to catch up with alumni and hear how everyone was doing and what they were up to. And it was great to see them interact in a mixed group of students from various cohorts.

NYFA MFA Alum Federico Imperiale stated, “It was great to see two professional photographers like Kean and Andrew working on a laboratory project. They were able to guide us through the understanding of the process, giving us a complete overview of the cyanotype technique and its expressive and aesthetic potential.”

The results of the cyanotype workshop were wonderful to behold and now students know how easy and fun it is and can do it from the comfort of their own home!

Interested in learning photography? Find out more information about the Photography programs at New York Film Academy today!

Written by Naomi White. Naomi is Co-Chair of Photography at NYFA Los Angeles.

5 Tips for Getting Started in Broadcast Journalism

Broadcast journalism is a profession that requires knowledge, hard work, and commitment. It is not a profession for the faint-hearted, as it requires ample time for preparation and presentation. Like other media, the advent of digital platforms and the Internet has led the field to evolve quickly in a short period of time, requiring aspiring broadcast journalists to master many new skills than their more traditional predecessors ever needed.  

Here are just a few tips to get on the right track and set yourself up to become a successful multimedia journalist (MMJ) in the 21st century:

Getting the right education

A proper education doesn’t just get you certifications that will boost your resume and get you in the door, but gives you well-rounded training in a field that is constantly changing. NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school has working, experienced faculty members who keep up with the current industry landscape and can share that experience with their students.

As part of the New York Film Academy, NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school also applies a large focus on the technical aspects of digital broadcast journalism — producing and shooting video, editing, on-camera presentation — skills that multimedia journalists will need to learn in order to be successful in a digital landscape.

Broadcast Journalism Reporter

Getting industry experience

Maneuvering interview rooms with little or no experience will prove unfruitful in broadcast journalism. Getting the relevant experience is thus a fundamental aspect of a career in broadcast journalism.“A graduate may intern for a company to get the necessary experience,” explains Steve Doane, Career Coach at ConfidentWriters.

Additionally, entry-level jobs as production assistants or post-production assistants can be key to working your way up the ladder into more significant positions. Learning the practical skills needed for multimedia journalism, such as those mentioned above as taught by NYFA, are a solid way toward earning those entry-level jobs.

For MMJs, it is also essential to have some experience with social media. In an increasingly networked modern era, mastering the use of social media sites as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great assets for news anchors, and thus part of your training at NYFA’s broadcast journalism school.

Networking 

Creating a network is a key step in journalism. Budding journalists should join such professional organizations such as Society of Professional Journalists, which also provides tons of helpful resources for broadcast journalists, by broadcast journalists. Additionally, keeping close ties to the community of journalists as a whole will help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends, as well as career advancement opportunities.

Learning From the Best

NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school not only utilizes working professionals as faculty members, but often has high-profile guest speakers come and speak to students directly about their careers in the industry. Learning directly from those who have come before you and made similar journeys can be immensely beneficial.

Watch as many lectures, interviews, and videos with industry professionals and leaders on YouTube and other platforms as you can, absorbing their insight and advice and avoiding pitfalls they’ve come to learn the hard way.

Seeing these speakers in person, however, affords even more benefits, as you may have the opportunity to ask them questions directly. Past guest speakers at NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school include Rachel Maddow (MSNBC), J.P. Olsen (VICE NEWS TONIGHT), and Sharon Hoffman (Entertainment Tonight.)

Broadcast Journalism Reporter

Stay focused

Broadcast journalism is competitive and tough. However, with focus, determination, and commitment, a graduate can go very far in this industry. Set goals and work toward them. Such focus can potentially see a journalist through from an entry-level position to a reputable job with an established news or media company, such as NYFA Broadcast Journalism alumni George Colli (WTNH), Lea Gabrielle (Fox News Channel). Grace Shao (China Global Television Network), and Nicolle Cross (ABC, Austin, TX affiliate).   

Apply Now for a Broadcast Journalism Program

Written by Paul Bates

Paul Bates is a writer and storyteller at BeeStudent and Essay Task educational platforms and a contributor at HuffPost and Buzzfeed. Also, Paul is an online tutor at PaperResearch service.

VR in Real Estate: Seeing Opportunity in Enhanced Client Experience

While real estate isn’t traditionally known for being on the cutting edge when it comes to implementing technology in business practices, more and more brokerages and agents these days are seeing the value in virtual reality (VR). Home tours are among the most visible ways that VR is being used in the industry, but there are many other uses that are creating a demand for skilled VR specialists with an eye for design. Real estate professionals have exhausted those traditional ways of creating an experience for their clients and are searching for something more immersive, building upon a job market that may have been considered more “niche” (at least, for smaller operations) in previous years.

VR

Virtual Tours Becoming a Standard

When a home buyer – especially a more tech-savvy one – is looking for a home, they’ll look for sites that can provide the most information compared to others in their market. With the majority of home searches beginning online, this has created somewhat of an arms race in the residential real estate world. Online tours need to offer much more than just a few still photographs, and they can take a potential buyer around the home almost as if they are right there, seeing it in person.

With virtual tours becoming commonplace, buyers are beginning to expect them. The benefits are not so one-sided, though. Agents can spend more time showing homes that actually fit buyers’ needs as opposed to homes that were not properly represented in photographs.

As virtual tours feature becomes standard, agents and brokerages with enough resources are moving toward investing in virtual reality to further improve and streamline the showing process when meeting with clients in order to sift through those properties that “work” for their clients and those that do not before driving out to see them.

VR

Development and Construction Applications

It can be tough to imagine something that does not exist yet. Floor plans and blueprints can give buyers and investors an idea of what they’re getting into, but these methods still present a bit of risk to all parties involved. When builders offer the VR experience to clients, they can better communicate their desires and expectations before construction has begun.

Buyers, after seeing the home in VR, can make adjustments and changes, or even choose a different floor plan entirely, if they see that the home they were considering isn’t actually right for them. Sometimes it’s very hard to tell such things without seeing it “in person”.

In addition to VR assisting with home buyers seeing the homes, builders themselves are starting to see the benefits of using VR in their own businesses. Home builders are beginning to use VR for many purposes, though business employee training and safety are currently one of the biggest uses of VR. It is expected that home builders will increasingly utilize VR in the design and construction process in the coming years.

Helping Buyers See Into the Future

Buyers who are looking at purchasing a home may want to take their existing furniture with them. They may also want to buy new furniture, but aren’t not sure what will fit in the homes they are considering. When a homeowner measures their furniture, or furniture they like at a store, they can drop those dimensions and other information into a program and see where the furniture would go. By using Augmented Reality, or AR, they can also get a good idea of how well it fits in the space, and whether it’s going to work for the ideas they have in mind. It’s much better to discover before the house or the new furniture is purchased that something they had planned to use doesn’t fit the space at all. As Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality become intertwined with smartphones, tablets, and computers, having access to and an understanding of these technologies becomes increasingly important.

VR

A Changing Landscape

The majority of home searches occur online and, believe it or not, more and more buyers are purchasing property without ever seeing it in person. The real estate world is quickly changing, and businesses will have to adapt to the needs of their clients. Moving forward, VR in real estate may evolve much like the real estate website. When consumer access to computers and the internet were relatively new, professional websites were “nice to have”. After only a few years, they became an absolute necessity.

With this occurring in the not-so-distant past, real estate professionals may be eager to adopt VR technology sooner rather than later.

 

Anthony Gilbert is the owner of The RealFX Group. Anthony specializes in real estate lead generation and digital marketing.

Meet New York Film Academy (NYFA) Faculty Member & Award-Winning Film Critic, Peter Rainer

Peter Rainer

Peter Rainer is a lecturer at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA).

Rainer is also the film critic for the Christian Science Monitor and can be heard regularly on NPR’s Film Week on KPCC-FM. He was one of three finalists in 1998 for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and is a three-time winner of the Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award for Best Online Film Critic. Rainer is also president of the National Society of Film Critics and has appeared as a film commentator on CNN, ABC News World Tonight, Bloomberg Radio, and Nightline.

Additionally, Rainer has served as film critic for New York Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, New Times Los Angeles and Los Angeles magazine. His writings have also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and GQ. He has also written and co-produced two A&E biographies–on Sidney Poitier and John Huston–as well as co-authoring the 1977 film Joyride. He has served on the main juries for both the Venice and Montreal film festivals.

Rainer continues to immerse NYFA students with decades of film history, knowledge, and insight.


Rainer’s Roundtable at NYFA

In this series, Peter Rainer sits down with NYFA students and discusses film production, critique, and the filmmaking process.

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Rainer on Film

With Rainer on Film, Peter Rainer dives deeper into film trends with video essays that incorporate clips from films as well as behind-the-scenes photos and footage. In its debut episode, the film critic discusses films of the 1960s and 1970s. In the second episode, Rainer moves on to the films of the 1980s.

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The NYFA Hour on Popcorn Talk

Popcorn Talk Network is the online broadcast network with programming dedicated exclusively to movie discussion, news, interviews, and commentary. In The NYFA Hour, the New York Film Academy hosted an array of knowledgable industry personalities, with multiple guest appearances with Peter Rainer.

In the episode below, Rainer joins host Pegah Rad to discuss the art of film critique and how cinema has changed since he started writing about the movies:

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Be sure to bookmark this page as we will be updating it regularly with all the newest videos and content with Peter Rainer!

Differences Between TV and Radio/Podcast Journalism

With the ubiquity of digital technologies and the unrelenting demand for news around the clock, broadcast journalists have now become the quintessential multitaskers of the 21st century media. Increasing your chances of getting employed in the world of broadcast journalism requires a skillset beyond just being able to gather, collate, and  deliver information using a teleprompter; it also requires sound knowledge behind the camera, like shooting, editing, and various production requirements for your particular medium — new media, print, television, podcasts, you name it.

Becoming well-versed on an array of platforms gives you a larger pool of choices when deciding which avenue to pursue, as well as impressing a larger number of employers. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips on the differences between journalism in television and radio/podcasts.

Writing and Editing

In television, what the audience sees is critical to the information they process and how they interpret it. For that reason, everything on television is bigger, flashier, and significantly less focused on words. Unlike the radio or podcast format, where the responsibility to visualize the story lies in the audience’s imagination, multimedia journalists and reporters on television deliver a “voice-over” serving as an accompaniment to videos or images — basically acting as a caption to what is seen.

The practice of editing video before writing the text is rarely followed in a television newsroom, though reporters do keep the video in mind when writing, editing the video to then fit the words. What’s most important is to always keep the words simple, short, and succinct, so as not to overwhelm the audience with too much  information at once.

Using simple vocabulary helps engage as well as reach a larger audience. This doesn’t differ much from radio news, although an emphasis on descriptive words and paying particular attention to pronunciation is a lot more critical for radio listeners than it is for TV viewers.

Additionally, since radio listeners are usually engaged in other activities while listening, scripts for radio newscasters usually use a “conversational” style to keep the listener’s attention.  

Formats

Sequencing formats and the stacking of a show on television also differs from radio and podcast news. For instance, a viral video may become the opening story on television, but without the power of visuals, radio and podcasts must prioritize the most attention-grabbing stories using only words, resulting in the viral video story being pushed further back in the show once the listener’s already invested.  

Additionally, weather forecasts and traffic conditions are usually later in the program on television — unless extreme weather conditions or massive traffic jams are the top stories of the day. TV news programs communicate meteorological findings and forecasts with maps and other graphics, many of which depend on chroma key effects.

Contrastingly, 90 percent of car commuters listen to radio, increasing the importance of a traffic reports exponentially for radio news and moving it to the top of the program.

Staff

Although having the advantage of video and images in relaying to audiences what  words sometimes cannot, television broadcasting requires many more people and resources to cover a story.

A field reporter, for example, is ideally accompanied by a camera operator — though it’s even better for your career options if you’re able to act as your own producer, editor, and talent. Multimedia journalists (MMJs) are in high demand.

Radio reporters and podcasters, however, can attend interviews and go on location with nothing but a handheld recording device. This makes it easier to retrieve anecdotes and interview audio to support a story, as preparation and organisation is a lot less complicated. Plus, interviewees are sometimes more likely to agree to an interview off-camera.

With all this considered, it really comes down to personal preference when deciding which medium to pursue as a budding broadcast journalist. Just remember to stay vigilant, be resourceful, and always be curious!

What is your favorite medium to keeping up with the news? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about Broadcast Journalism at the New York Film Academy.

Actors With the Best Fake Accents in Films

Props, costumes, production sets, and CGI can only do so much to transport audiences to a different time and place; the rest of the work lies in the actor’s ability to truly inhabit a narrative, and invite the audience to believe their character and their milieu. Adopting a specific accent is one of those abilities that allows an actor to create a believable character, and while it may seem like a common enough challenge for an actor, excelling accents can be tough. Given the underestimated skill it takes to convincingly pull it off, it’s only fair to give credit where it’s due, so here’s a list of actors with the best fake accents in films:

Meryl Streep

Throughout her illustrious career, Streep has taken up more accents than the average person could recognize. However, her Polish accent in Sophie’s Choice was one of perfection. Being Meryl Streep, practicing lines with a dialect coach was not enough, so she took it upon herself to learn Polish (and German in the last few weeks before shooting!) for the role.

Not only did Streep manage to speak Polish in the film, she also flipped between English and German with a Polish accent.

“I thought if I learned to speak Polish, then the diphthongs and the sounds of that language would be in my mouth,” she said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

Another noteworthy Streep accent we just couldn’t leave out of the discussion was her Australian dialect for Lindy Chamberlain in A Cry in the Dark, the true story of a mother who lost her baby to a dingo (yep, the line “a dingo ate my baby” is, in fact, about a tragic true story).

The general consensus when it comes to mimicking the Australian accent is that it’s bloody hard (see what we did there?), and non-Australian actors who’ve tried it are almost always criticized for it. Streep, however, managed to take it up a notch. Not only did she study the Australian accent with a fine-toothed comb, but she also mimicked the New Zealand-born Chamberlain’s idiosyncratic enunciations -– a result she admits she “sweat bullets” trying to achieve.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

In the biographical film Capote, based on the life of Truman Capote, the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman shined in his portrayal of the famous journalist, winning him the Oscar for Best Actor.

Capote’s unique vocal inflection was incredibly difficult to impersonate without it becoming a parody, and according to dialect coach Erik Singer, Hoffman pulled it off exquisitely: “The accent is dead-on perfect, and it’s totally integrated. It’s integral to the character and what the actor is doing as the character.”

Leonardo DiCaprio

Not one to shy away from adopting accents in films, the Los Angeles native has adopted accents from all over the United States through several eras for his films, from a Brooklyn native in The Wolf of Wall Street or a mid-19th century Irish-Catholic in Gangs of New York.

What really impressed a vast majority of audiences, however, was DiCaprio’s flawless accent in Blood Diamond, where he portrayed a man from Rhodesia, or modern-day Zimbabwe.

As a South African critic put it for Vanity Fair, “Leo is unbelievable … I could believe that he was a South African (as Zimbabwe borders South Africa, the accents can be very similar). Leo gets every word right.”

Hugh Laurie

If you were shocked that Hugh Laurie is actually an Oxford-born Englishman, you can join the estimated 81 million viewers of House who watched him play a gifted, foul-mouthed American doctor for eight seasons and were none the wiser. Moreover, prior to being informed on Hugh Laurie’s nationality, House’s executive producer Bryan Singer was incredibly relieved to have finally found what he believed was an American actor, after auditioning so many foreigners who just didn’t sound right.

“When you’ve got this volume of dialogue and this kind of complexity of writing, you really want to find an American actor,” he told The Paley Center for Media before admitting his shock when told by the casting directors that Laurie was, in fact, British.

Laurie’s American accent was so flawless, Google manages to churn out an overwhelming amount of blog posts and discussion forums dedicated to variations of the words “Hugh Laurie,” “accents,” “American,” and “British.”

Idris Elba

The London-born actor, who in real life has a distinctive Hackney accent, has wowed critics and audiences with two particular accents worthy of a mention; first, when playing drug kingpin Stringer Bell from Baltimore in The Wire, and second, as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

To perfect his Baltimore accent, Elba admits to spending lots of time in a barbershop to familiarize himself with the slang and particular nuances exclusive to Baltimoreans. The result was virtually spot-on.

Perfecting the accent for Mandela, however, came with a little more intense, technical training, as Elba had to embody the specific vocal qualities of Mandela along with a South African accent.

His dialogue coach on the set of the film told The Telegraph that his accent “is one of the closest to the original I have heard. This, coupled with his great technical acting skill and considerable emotional resource, makes for a compelling and brilliant performance.”

Cate Blanchett

Though an Australian herself, Blanchett is renowned for her chameleon-like performances, accruing such a long list of accents you’d be forgiven for not knowing her true national origin without double-checking an interview. Even then some may be confused, as her own Australian accent has morphed; Her ability to instinctively pick up the accents she’s surrounded by in real life has become so habitual for the actress that she admits it’s “politically incorrect” and embarrasses her children much of the time.

Blanchett’s many memorable character accents range from 16th century British to Brooklyn-American, Southern-American, Irish, French, German, Ukrainian, and even Elvish — but from her long list of impressive vocal accomplishments, her remarkable impersonation of Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator deserves an honorable mention.

Director Martin Scorsese had been impressed by Blanchett’s precision and boldness since Elizabeth, and knew if anyone could take on such an iconic character it’d be her. As the New York Times described, “Hepburn’s distinctive voice, loud, clipped and with a pronounced upper-class New England accent … became crucial to her performance.”

Blanchett pulled it off so well, it won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

What are your favorite performances where an actor pulled off an impressive accent? Let us know in the comments below! Learn more about Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy.

Navigating the Maze of VR Scriptwriting & Storytelling for New Writers

Where Do I Begin?

Virtual Reality is an immersive computer technology allowing its participants the opportunity to partake in a simulated environment. The chance to immerse ourselves in a uniquely alternate reality certainly is enticing — but how do you construct the skeleton of a story for the meaty VR body to hang on, and hold your audiences’ attention?

A lot of the same principles of storytelling apply to VR storytelling and scriptwriting, as they do to its conventional counterpart. Yet in VR storytelling you must consider your audience as an immersed participant. What pitfalls do you need to look out for? That is the right question!

Storytelling Checklist

Pacing

The pace by which you reveal your VR world to your audience is crucial. For the vast majority, VR will be an entirely new experience — and at first, an uneasy one. You need to allow them time to adapt, ease them in gently so to speak. Oculus Story Studio suggest a 30-second settling in period, as most viewers will be more familiar with flat screen viewing. This time period is enough for the participant to relax into the new VR environment.

A slower, introductory pace at the beginning will allow the narrative to shine at the more important, later stages. If you rush your audience into the narrative immediately, the unfamiliarity with their VR surroundings will give them a sensory overload, causing many audience members to just walk away.

The Audience

VR is the medium for audience autonomy and freedom. Instead of writing your script with a confined narrative, your storytelling should embrace the space and explore the world you’ve built.

“There are, of course, plenty of tricks to use to navigate this pitfall  and their use depends on the autonomy you as a creator wish to relinquish to your audience,” explains Andy Hays, a Game Writer at UK Top Writers and Study Demic contributor. “Lighting cues, sound cues, the character’s POV, and especially the arc of additional characters can all aid in directing the attention of your audience along the path of the narrative.”

First Person POV

One of the more challenging aspects involves writing a narrative that a participant can lose themselves in, remembering that we still naturally assume ownership of the virtual environment with which we’re engaged. First person POV is certainly the more difficult choice, but has the advantage of looking through an active participant’s eyes.

The Reality of VR

This is not just important in navigating the pitfalls of POV, but we cannot forget that the participant must actively believe the environment they are immersed in. The reality of their Virtual Reality must be engaging.

Writing a story where supporting characters break the fourth wall, engaging directly with the participant, adds a sense of realism to the participant’s experience. The intimacy of these moments is more likely to leave a lasting impact on your audience.

Player Decision-Making

Nowadays, giving autonomy to your audience in terms of story is common practice — particularly in the gaming industry. VR should be no different.

If your audience desires freedom and autonomy of the world, give it to them. Ensure the character arc is engaging and the narrative is constructed with arc-altering decisions. Not only do these decisions develop a believable reality by giving your participant personified responsibility, but it also allows you to retain control over the story and direct your audience once more.

Spatial Storytelling

The key thing to remember here is that the VR space is not just background, or filler. It is an active component in your immersive environment. The world must shift around the participant. Use it to drag their attention in the direction the narrative desires; this again relates to the cues we mentioned earlier.

It is important to note the reverse sensory action of behaviours: How does entering a café, library, or school, affect you on a sensory level, and what then do you add to it to make it distinguishable?

Formatting

Regardless of the media you’re writing for, formatting should always be top of your list. If you wish to write in POV, you can add it to your scene heading. Others choose to write with a more theatrical freedom. Whatever your preference, there are some great tools to assist new writers in polishing off your VR script:

What Next?

Following these tips will set you on the right path to successfully navigating the pitfalls of VR scriptwriting and storytelling. The reality of VR is essential to your audience. And though they seek autonomy and freedom within the world, using the outlined tricks and skills above allow you to retain this power via the narrative, dynamic spatial design, and immersive character arcs you’ve written.

NYFA guest author Freddie Tubbs is a script writer at Paper Fellows. He regularly takes part in film conferences and writes posts and guides for Big Assignments and Write my Australia.

How These 6 Actors Prepared for a Role

Preparation is as much of an actor’s job as a performance itself, particularly when a character’s physicality, speech, or persona are vastly different from your own. Whether an actor’s challenge is primarily physical, mental, emotional, or even vocal, truly embodying a character’s traits in all their nuance produces the most memorable and admirable performances (not to mention benefits come Award season!).

Consequently, great transformations require great dedication, with some actors taking it upon themselves to go to famous extremes to prepare for their roles. Here are some of the most noteworthy examples:

Ben Platt – Dear Evan Hansen

The Tony-winning lead actor of Dear Evan Hansen delivers a gut-wrenching performance, displaying an incredible amount of anguish through the anxiety-ridden teenager, Evan, eight times a week. This kind of repetitive emotional and physical exertion can prove exhausting for the best of us, and among the many differences between acting for camera and acting on stage is the exaggerated movement and vocal projection required for stage actors.

In this New York Times article, Platt talks of the “monkish existence” he has in order to prepare for each show. In addition to losing 30 pounds for the role, Platt gives precedence to solitude and silence in order to rest and recover, notoriously turning down every opportunity for social gatherings. He also refrains from gluten and dairy, takes supplements, and attends physical therapy sessions twice a week that regularly involves the practice of cupping. Much to his chagrin, he’s also developed a habit of nail-biting and obsessively cracking his knuckles — habits he picked up from his character, Evan.  

Charlize Theron – Monster

A former model, Theron had become typecast as the “sexy blonde” before landing the 2003 role of real-life-prostitute-turned-serial-killer Aileen Wuornos.

The statuesque actress famously transformed her physical appearance to such an extent that audiences found her unrecognizable; she gained 30 pounds; dyed and thinned her hair; partially shaved and bleached her eyebrows; layered tattoo ink on her face for the weathered pallor of Wuornos’ skin; and donned unflattering dentures and contact lenses.

Theron devoted five whole months to researching Wuornos’ life in order to truly become her, resulting in a win for the Best Actress category at the Oscars (there’s a theme here). Fifteen years on, Theron continues to make drastic physical transformations, recently gaining 50 pounds for her role as Marlo, the overwhelmed mother of three in Tully. Admittedly, Theron says she struggles a lot more to shed the weight at 42 than she did at 27.

Jamie Foxx – Ray

Foxx went from Booty Call to winning an Oscar for his portrayal of the legendary blind musician, Ray Charles. To transform into the iconic musician, Foxx shed 30 pounds through a weeklong fast, followed by a painfully strict diet and daily workouts — though in this New York Times article, Foxx said that the weight loss was the easy part.

In addition to eyelid prosthetics and sunglasses modelled on Charles, Foxx had his eyes glued shut for 14 hours a day, calling it “a jail sentence.” He also suffered panic attacks for the first two weeks, and crew members would sometimes forget and leave him behind at restaurants or around the set.

Leonardo Dicaprio – The Revenant

The seasoned actor was nominated for an Oscar six times before winning his first in 2016 for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant — and rightfully so. Shooting on location for nine months in Canada and Argentina in freezing wilderness was “a living hell” for cast and crew members alike. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki were intent on creating the most realistic aesthetic for the film, using minimal CGI and only shooting with natural daylight.

As such, an incredible amount of rehearsal went into schedule, to maximize the one hour of optimal light they had per day whilst subjecting DiCaprio to “agonizing” feats against mother nature.

In an interview with Yahoo, DiCaprio refers to some 30-40 sequences involving going in and out of freezing rivers, sleeping in an animal carcass, and, of course, that bear scene, as “some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.”

Although the horse carcass was a prop and the bear a product of CGI, eating a raw bison liver was 100 percent real. The vegetarian actor volunteered to make the edible sacrifice to serve Iñárritu’s immersive vision, concerned the faux liver provided wasn’t authentic enough.

“When you see the movie, you’ll see my reaction to it,” he says. “It says it all. It was an instinctive reaction.”

Jared Leto – Suicide Squad

No list about method acting and extreme transformations is complete without including the controversial antics of Jared Leto. Known for his over-the-top commitment to roles, the naturally slender actor seems to be constantly starving or gorging, having lost 25 pounds for Requiem for a Dream, gained 67 pounds for Chapter 27, and most recently lost 40 pounds for his 2013 Oscar-winning role as Rayon, a transgender HIV-positive woman in Dallas Buyers Club.

Besides his physical appearance, however, Leto truly immerses himself in his characters by never breaking off-camera. His Suicide Squad co-star Will Smith famously said, “I’ve never actually met Jared Leto. We worked together for six months and I’ve only ever spoken to him as The Joker.”

Leto also sent Smith bullets with a love letter — similar to what fellow castmate Margot Robbie received, only instead of bullets, there was a live rat. All Suicide Squad castmates received dubious gifts from “The Joker,” and these details served to renew a public debate about the nature of authentic method acting and its value in contemporary film.

Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry

In 1999, Swank played a groundbreaking role of a real-life transgender youth who was born female but lived as a male, until he was killed in 1993 for that reason. The tragic true story prompted Swank to commit everything she had to the role. She took on the persona of Hilary Swank’s brother, James, for four weeks prior to shooting. Roaming around Santa Monica in disguise, with stuffed her pants, flattened breasts, and a lowered voice, the actress said she was treated differently in public and felt like she lost every ounce of her femininity.

She told EW, “It put me in a state of real hopelessness. I cried a lot for days.” The tears didn’t last long though: she won the Best Actress Oscar that year for her work.

What are your favorite stories of famous actor preparation? Let us know in the comments below! Learn more about Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy.

The 6 Latest & Greatest Trends in Animation

The art of putting together images to depict a sequence of events is much older than we think. Egyptian murals with carvings showing the steps to wrestling moves have been found in tombs left behind more than 4,000 years ago. A thousand years earlier, someone in the area of modern-day Iran painted sequential images of a goat leaping up to bite a tree leaf on a pottery bowl.

Today, animation continues offering us a captivating way of telling stories and providing information. Thanks to advancements in techniques and technology, here are the latest ways you can impress with your own animation talents:

  1. 3D Looks to Retro & Vintage

To keep their content fresh and unique, many 3D animators are looking to art styles from the past for inspiration. One of the more popular trends looks to Gouache, a ’60s era water-based painting style which involved heavy use of color layers and dry brushing. Another cool 3D animation style that’s becoming popular again is retrofuturism. This makes use of sci-fi aesthetics from what people in the late ’70s and early ’80s thought the future might look like. Use of lush lighting effects and pixelated digital elements serve to create places and characters that feel both retro and sci-fi.

  1. High Contrast Cel Animation

Converse Chuck Taylor II Shield Canvas from Golden Wolf on Vimeo.

This is an animation trend that’s been on the rise for a few years now and has been used by some of the top companies in the world, including Nike, Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network, and even fo the Winter X games. Vibrant, contrasting colors combined with an angular design are used to give the animation a simplified, almost cel-style look. The result is a fun, in-your-face sequence that’s hard to look away from. Some of the best examples are from Golden Wolf, an animation production company based in London.

  1. 2D and 3D, Together

A trend that began in recent years and has continued picking up steam is creating animations that look like a mix of 2D and 3D. You don’t have to look far to find a tutorial that shows you how to end up with a flat 2D look by using a cel shader to render 3D. By giving 3D objects a 2D look, animators are able to make expressive, illustrative elements that immediately attract a viewer’s attention while delivering information in a clear and colorful way.

  1. Hyper-Surrealism

HONDA “The Dreamer” from Roof Studio on Vimeo.

If there’s one great animation trend that makes full use of the power of CGI imagery, it’s this style. The effect of hyper-surreal animation relies on combining photo-realistic elements with fantastical imagery to create dreamlike worlds and action. There are few examples better than Roof Studio’s “The Dreamer” add for Honda, which takes viewers along a whimsical journey as a realistic vehicle drives across outlandish locations.  If you’re interested in an animation style that lets your creativity and imagination run wild, look no further.

  1. Dynamic Function Animation in Apps

App developers are also now seeing the power animation can have to give users a memorable experience. Instead of using static images or just text, many apps in 2018 are using functional animation that keeps a user’s attention with a vibrant, interesting user interface. This includes using animation to brighten navigational elements, confirm user input, zoom in and out on content, and more. Since there’s nothing better than motion, mainly because our eyes are designed to follow it, 2D animation offers an unmatched level of visual feedback.

  1. Resurgence of 2D Animation in Marketing

In entertainment industries like film and video games, 2D animation took a back seat when 3D arrived. Since then, companies have felt there’s no better way to captivate audiences, players, and potential customers than with 3D animation, even if it requires more time and effort to create. But now that more people are using the internet like never before, be it on their smart devices or computers, companies need attractive yet cost-effective ways to grow their marketing brand. Thus, a big trend in animation these days is having the ability to whip up simple, attention-grabbing 2D animation videos for use in mobile and web advertisement.

Learn more about 3D Animation & VFX at the New York Film Academy.

How to Use Sound to Heighten Emotions in a Film

The introduction of sound was perhaps the most dramatic advancement in the history of film. From chilling sound effects and atmospheric music to the witty dialogue between two characters, our favorite movies just wouldn’t be the same had they been made in the silent era. Just like the tremendous effort it takes to get the right shots and put them all together in post, adding sound effectively require immense creativity, skill, and attention.

Sound design and scoring adds a powerful layer of meaning to what we see on screen, creating a mood and making the story more impactful and memorable. For both the aspiring filmmaker and sound expert looking to work in film, here’s how the three major types of sound in film are used to heighten emotion — and remember, sometimes there’s no better way to get a response from the audience than by having moments with no sound at all:

Sound Effects

The world is full of sound, and we as humans are very sensitive to what we hear. One of the most powerful uses of sound in film involves simply interpreting and conveying how natural (or everyday) sounds affect how we feel. Sound also works to affect mood by simulating reality and creating illusions.

For example, if a woman is shown sitting alone in her room with a book, the average viewer will absorb a completely different mood if 1) we hear children playing in the background or 2) we hear loud thunder and rain. Pouring rain accompanied by frightening thunder makes us feel anxious even though they are sound effects added by a talented editor. When the woman then hears a booming knock on her door, you can bet a sound designer chose the perfect sound to give viewers a startling, curious effect.

Dialogue

You may not have realized it, but dialogue is a very powerful way in which sound is used to heighten emotions in film. Dialogue is an incredibly effective way of getting the audience introduced to a character, hooked into a story, or transported to a different state of mind. The way two or more characters on screen speak to one another makes all the difference for your audience, and it’s an important consideration if you want the right mood for your story. It’s not only what your characters say, but how they say it.

We can’t think of a better example than when we first meet Vito Corleone in The Godfather. After the balding man explains the awful situation about his beaten daughter, we might expect Corleone to show some sympathy, maybe even outrage. Instead, Marlon Brando’s excellent voice and line delivery helps give the immediate impression that Corleone is no ordinary man; he is actually insulted by the man’s request. The manner of speech in which dialogue is delivered, and Marlon Brando’s iconic vocal choices in character, are great examples of how dialogue can serve as an essential tool if you’re using sound to influence a scene’s atmosphere.

Music

Close Up Shot of Girl Wearing Black Wired Headphones Photo by Gavin Whitner (musicoomph.com)

Music is one of the most powerful elements a filmmaker can call upon when it comes to leveraging sound to craft atmosphere in film. Audiences may have grown accustomed to hearing moving symphonies during war scenes, and completely different music when the secret admirers finally confess their love to one another, but the fact that in reality we don’t have music accompanying major moments in our life makes this film convention all the more compelling. It’s a powerful way to tap into the emotion you’re trying to convey.

Use music carefully in your film to not only cue viewers into how to feel, but to also get an emotional response. For example, horror movies are famous for using music to create tension just before a jump scare or horrifying moment, and pacing the music of your film score with silence can have a profound effect. If you really want to play with the audience’s emotions, consider mixing things up to. For example, Scorsese’s brilliant choice of an upbeat song during a montage of corpse after corpse in Goodfellas made those scenes more jarring and impactful than if a somber track had been played.

What are your favorite examples of a powerful use of sound in cinema? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

Photography Hashtags to Increase Your Reach on Instagram and Twitter

Few could have expected the # sign, previously called pound or number sign and only recognized on a phone, would become an important part of social media.

Hashtags are used to identify a message on a specific topic, allowing people with similar interests to discover each other’s content in the expansive sea that is the internet.

The Power Of The Hashtag

As a photographer, you naturally want other fans and professionals of the art form to check out your work, especially if you’re confident in your abilities and seeking exposure. By using the right hashtags, you’ll increase the number of people in the online photography community who come across your stuff. Many popular pages even look to hashtags to select what photos they share or add to their featured pages, which inevitably increases your social media reach.

Choosing The Best Hashtags For You

From professional to amateur photographers, many have made a name for themselves on Instagram and Twitter with the help of well-chosen hashtags. While it’s not a death sentence, some people are put off by posters who get carried away with how many hashtags they use. In fact, a big mistake to avoid is using hashtags that aren’t relevant to your photo or just aren’t trending.

Instead, your best bet is to carefully choose relevant hashtags while also keeping an eye on whatever is trending. To help you find the best, here are some excellent hashtag choices for some of the most popular categories in the photography world:

Niche Hashtags

Arguably the best hashtags you can use are the ones where people with the same interests will discover you. Although you’ll reach less people, they’re likely to appear on someone’s relevant search who will continue revisiting your pages and follow you.

Trending Hashtags

Sometimes, all it takes is a well-timed post that uses a hot hashtag to earn tons of exposure. If you hop on Twitter or Instagram and see that the latest trend is photos of funny old people, sand castles, or whatever, there’s nothing wrong with jumping in to see if your stuff becomes popular.

Generic Hashtags

These are the hashtags everyone uses and for good reason: everyone follows them. For example, the most basic and timeless photography hashtag is simply #photo. It’s harder to stand out from the crowd with a generic hashtag, but you still have a chance of getting your work on people’s devices. These are best mixed with trending and niche hashtags.

Most Popular Photography Hashtags

Photography Hashtags

#photo #photogram #photographer #photooftheday #pictures #photographyislife #capture #instalove #picoftheday #keepitsimple #exposure #collectivelycreate #instagood

Wedding Photography

#Beachwedding #Beachwedding #weddingcake #Weddingphotography #Weddingphotographer ##Engagement #weddingideas #weddingdress #beautiful #gorgeous #bride

Urban / Street Photography

#urbanphotography #streetphotography #urbex #buildinggraffiti #shoot2kill #graffitiart #streetmobs #instagraffiti #urbanandstreet #guerillaart #urbanromantix #spraypaint #urbanphoto #wallart #streettogether  #streetart #streetartistry #streetexploration

Portrait Photography

#postmoreportraits #portrait #photooftheday #portraits #portraitmood #feelgoodphoto #portraiture #makeportraits #selfshot #vsco #vintage #selfportrait #portraitphotography #selfportrait #selfie #selfies #myself #face #lips #hair #me #eyes #mouth #cute #pose #moi #closeup #model

Nature Photography Hashtags

#nature #naturegirl #awesome_earthpix #discoverearth #earthfocus #mothernature  #naturesbeauty #sky #wanderlust #natureseekers #sun #summer #wildlifelovers #explore #birdphotography #wildlifephotography  #photooftheday #skylovers #animalsofinstagram #wildlifephoto #natureisbeautiful #travelphotography #wildlifeplanet #picoftheday #traveling #summer #wildlifeonearth #naturelover #wildlifeperfection #sunset

*Top 5 Pieces of Gear You Need for Travel Video and Photography

Landscape Photography

#landscapephotography #travelphotos #nationalgeographic  #nakedplanet #places_wow #optoutside #earthofficial #natgeo #beautifuldestinations #pixel_ig #landscapelover #amazingplaces cityofdreams #landscapephotomag #natgeoyourshot #exploretheglobe #landscape_hunter #splendid_earth #ourplanetdaily

Travel Photography

#travel #travelphoto #worldtravelpics #getlost #travelphotography  #travelscenes #thegoodlife #instatravel #explorer #travelworld #instapassport #hdriphonegraphy  #travelingram #mytravelgram #keepitwild #mytravelgram #traveladdict #arountheworld #travelwithkids #paradise #travelawesome #wonderfulview  #travelstoke #lifeisbeautiful #adventuretravel #goodoldmemories

Food Photography

#Chefmode #foodoftheday #foodaddict #onthetable #hautecuisines #chefsofinstagram #foodpost #foodlife #foodie #hungry #sweet #fresh #homemade #foodgasm #yummy  #foodphotography #foodpics #foodstagram #instafood #Eatingfortheinsta #foodgram #nomnom #cleaneating

Black & White Photography

#blackandwhite #bnw #monochrome #instablackandwhite #bwstyleoftheday #monotone #monochromatic #bnw_society #bw_lover #bw_photooftheday #photooftheday #bw  #instagood #bw_society #bw_crew #bwwednesday #noir #insta_pick_bw #bwstyles_gf #irox_bw #igersbnw #fineart_photobw #monoart #insta_bw

Fashion Photography

#fashionphotography #fashionphotographer #FashionDiaries #Ootd #Liketkit #StyleTheBump #fromabove #outfitinspiration  #todayiwore #lovethislook #streetfashionstyle #newshoes #shoesday #makeyousmilestyle #howtostyle

*7 Fashion Blogs Aspiring Photographers Should Follow Now

Ready to learn more about Photography? Check out our Photography programs at New York Film Academy.

5 Things Old School Games Mastered

Today’s video games offer some of the most captivating worlds and stories one can experience. From incredibly realistic environments to impressive artificial intelligence, games have evolved at a faster rate than perhaps any other entertainment medium.

It’s hard to believe that, a little over two decades ago, the gaming industry was just transitioning from 2D to 3D. Of course, games couldn’t have gotten to where they are today without the old-school classics and the innovations they contributed to the field, still used by game designers today.

Here are five notable contributions the retro games mastered, that made lifelong gamers out of us:

Rewarding Skill

Game development was a different beast back in the ‘80s and ‘90s; teams didn’t have millions of dollars and years of development. Instead, you were required to create a game — sometimes in less than a year — that would convince people to drop their hard-earned cash. This meant crafting worlds and gameplay that was not only captivating but also challenging. Otherwise, gamers would fly through in a few hours and want their money back.

Thus, many retro games are masterpieces when it comes to providing a satisfying level of difficulty that, rather than frustrating players, made them want to get better. Instead of having to get through thoughtless quick-time events, players were pushed to memorize enemy spawn locations, boss patterns, and power-up locations, increasing their skill through gameplay to unlock rewards and advance.

Providing Unique Experiences

There’s a reason why many of the most popular gaming franchises today got their start back in the “golden age” of video games; although there have always been copycats and clones, developers making old school games had comparably less time and money riding on one project, which meant they could take more risks. Those risks led to lots of creativity, with games within the same genre full of variety. For example, if you wanted a change from your favorite beat-’em-up, you had everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Golden Axe to Battletoads and Streets of Rage 2.

In contrast, you can take several of today’s first-person shooters and find that they look remarkably similar. If you don’t agree, consider how every developer is at the moment scrambling to cash in on the very popular “battle royale” style game after the success of Fortnite.

Immediate Attraction

Game developers were limited in a number of ways in the ‘80s and ‘90s, compared to today’s studios. Visuals, of course, could only handle so many pixels, as devs also had to create fun experiences with controllers and arcade machines with far fewer buttons. Because of this, old-school games feel like compact, thrilling bursts of fun that you can pick up and play without the need for tutorials or getting used to complicated control schemes, etc.

Even a complete gaming novice can pick up an NES controller, boot up Mega Man and have a great time. Compare that experience to Assassin’s Creed, where novice players must familiarize themselves with lengthy story scenes and tutorial segments before they can get to the meat of the gameplay.

Old-school games also didn’t require signing into an account or having an online connection to play — just another way these games remain accessible and simple to enjoy, no matter your level of expertise.

Offering Fun With Friends

On the other hand, we have to acknowledge that many of the multiplayer games we enjoy now let us do things we could only dream of in our wildest imagination, back in the day. Fortnite, for example, lets you play against a whopping 99 other players in a world where you can destroy almost everything in the environment — all while building massive towers and bridges. The only downside is that if you want to play on the couch with a friend, they’ll need to bring their own TV screen and console; like most modern big-budget titles, there’s no local multiplayer.

Before the advent of high-speed internet, devs were almost obligated to make fun games that friends could play together. Arcade cabinets were surrounded by teens watching players duke it out in Mortal Kombat or unite to tear a city apart in Rampage.

As most of today’s developers realize the ever-existent hunger for couch co-op games, we can’t help but recall the hours of enjoyment old-school games gave us alongside friends and family.

You Could Play ASAP!

Remember when you could play a game without having to wait for console boot-up times, long loading screens, or new patch updates to download? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

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