Author: New York Film Academy

First Day of Summer: 5 Awesome Movies To Watch Before Starting Your Summer At NYFA

Are you starting a course at NYFA this summer and wondering how best to use your time before you come for class? Here’s a tip — celebrate the summer doing what you love: watching films!

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There’s no happier way to spend a summer afternoon than by watching an awesome film with popcorn and a cold drink. Here are some fun movies you might want to check out to beat the heat.

1. “The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants” (2005)

At first this may sound like the average teen movie: four girls who are going to be separated for the first time over the summer all promise to stay in touch with each other. While shopping, they come across a pair of jeans that fits each of them perfectly, and they decide to share the pants among their group over the course of their summer holidays.

Yet the traveling pants serve another purpose: to teach the girls important lessons and infuse their lives with magic, miracles and the things that matter. This is a film about love, heartbreak, identity and facing adulthood that you won’t forget too soon.

2. “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997)

If romantic comedies or drama aren’t up your alley, and you like the taste of thrill, this horror/mystery flick may be what you need.

Once again, we have a group of four teenagers. This time, they’re covering up a car accident. A year later, they are stalked by a murderer. Drawing from the urban legend of The Hook, this film’s got quite a cult following, with two sequels and a great soundtrack of rock songs to chill out to.

3. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008)

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a Woody Allen comedy flick. Here, two American women are on a trip to Barcelona, where they encounter an alluring artist who’s into both of them … as well as his ex-wife.

Complete with a beach holiday in beautiful Spain, polyamory and stellar acting, this film has a dreamy and intoxicating quality that’s perfect to watch in summer.

4. “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006)

If you like road trips, this film is a safe bet. Meet the dysfunctional Hoover family, who are convinced that the youngest member, Olive, needs to win a beauty pageant. To that end, they embark on a cross-country journey in a VW bus.

Hilarious and heartbreaking, this gem of a film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two, including the prize for Best Original Screenplay.

5. “500 Days of Summer” (2009)

Not a summer film per se, but it deftly examines a lot of themes connected to our idea of an ‘endless summer’: true love, a perfect relationship, this period of joy we’re convinced shall never end, intoxication, childhood daydreams and so on. The film reverses the typical ‘boy meets girl and falls in love’ trope where the boy is hopelessly in love and the girl isn’t and is told in non-linear flashbacks.  This is a film about wanting something you can never have and being okay to live without it. Summers always end, but we need to keep on living and this movie will show you how.  

What’s your idea of a perfect summer? Are there any other films you need we should add to the line-up? Let us know in the comments below! Spend the summer studying visual and performing arts with NYFA.

National Selfie Day: 3 Fun Facts About Selfies

The selfie has become more than just a contemporary phenomenon: It may go down as one of the defining features of the 21st century. We have phones specially designed for selfies, social media would not be the same without selfies, and even if we claim to hate selfies, we’ve all taken part in them. From the “I woke up like this” no-makeup selfies that make bad hair look so fashionable to “group-fies” with friends and families, the average selfie is a ubiquitous part of daily life.

As you gear up for National Selfie Day, here’s a short history of this cultural trend…

1. The Selfie Was Actually Invented in 1839

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So it’s not that recent a phenomenon after all!

American photographer Robert Cornelius took a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 and even wrote on the back ‘the first light Picture ever taken.’ (Pity, the word selfie wasn’t in use then.)

The trend of taking self-portraits with a camera became gradually more popular in the 20th century. Without the use of zoom lens or selfie sticks, it was a cumbersome process, aided with mirrors, tripods or other props.

When the instant Polaroid cameras arrived, more and more people began to experiment with photography as a hobby and a way of preserving certain life events. The habit even made its way into the movies, such as the 1991 film “Thelma & Louise,” where the two lead characters use a Polaroid camera to take what we now call a ‘selfie’ before embarking on a disastrous road trip.

2. The Word “Selfie” Was Actually Invented By A Drunk Man in 2002

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In Australia, Sept. 13, 2002, in an internet forum there appeared the following post by Nathan Hope:
Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.

Mr. Hope however denied coining the term, claiming it was a common slang. Over the years, linguists have analyzed this phenomenon and pointed out that it is a typical feature of the Australian language to shorten words and end them with “ie,” citing how “barbeque” and “postman” become “barbie” and “postie” respectively in local usage.

Soon enough there came mobile phones with front-facing cameras, and the world was never the same again.

3. “Selfie” Became The Word Of The Year In 2003

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The Oxford English Dictionary announced “selfie” as the word of the year in November, 2013, sometime after it was first included in the online edition of the dictionary.

Meanwhile, there have been specific apps and filters created for taking and editing the perfect selfie, and the Oscar selfie of 2014 became the most retweeted image ever. Now, selfie sticks may be a thing of the past with the rising popularity of selfie drones.

Whether you think it is fun and empowering or you just feel it promotes narcissism, you cannot ignore the selfie, for it looks like the selfie is here to stay for a long time.

Interested in photography? Learn more at the New York Film Academy.

How to Become a Data Visualization Whiz

The digital revolution is a boon for graphic designers because it is constantly creating new job opportunities that may perfectly fit with one’s passions and daily activities. For instance, the age of static websites with text-only content is long past, and nowadays, there’s a huge focus in UI and UX that make surfing the web an enjoyable, easily comprehensible and interactive experience.

Whether it’s an ad, a movie poster or even an Instagram account, the key to its success lies in its visual aesthetics and data visualization forms an integral aspect of it. Which means there are more opportunities than ever for graphic designers who are whizzes with data visualization.

photo by Olivier Carré-Delisle on Flickr

photo by Olivier Carré-Delisle on Flickr


Simply put, data visualization means representing information pictorially or graphically, so as to make it easier to understand and analyze or identify certain patterns. To do this, graphic designers will often work with a team of professionals to gather and interpret statistics.

Suppose your team has collected a whole lot of customer feedback and statistics for a company. You have all the information but just showcasing pages of text at a company meeting won’t help anyone. What you can do is work with your team to turn the data into a clear, coherent, and visually appealing image — perhaps a pie-chart, a graph, an infographic or a map — so that other people viewing it can understand your team’s goal. Data visualization is a team effort to communicate in a fast and effective manner to enable readers to make informed decisions.

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Think of it this way: learning becomes more fun when it’s supplemented with explanatory pictures and videos, right? This is why a power point presentation on a particular topic is way more useful than reading a textbook entry. It’s all about breaking information to bite-sized chunks and representing it pictorially so as to pinpoint certain trends, engage the audience, and get the message across ASAP.

If you’re considering a graphic design career with a focus in data visualization, here are some tips to bear in mind as you build up your skills.

1. Study How Images Work

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Look up how images have always been used to represent information, ideas and thoughts — whether it’s ancient cave paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphics, medieval maps and illustrations, or even picture books and graphic novels where there’s a constant interaction between text and image. Next, look up the current trends in infographics or compare the visual representations of a particular topic to its text-only counterpart. Then take a look at what experts in the field have got to say such as Alberto Cairo, Edward Tufte, Max Roser, Mike Bostock and others. Also look at the online data visualization community such as this and this.

2. Cultivate Your Design and Analytical Skills

When it comes to design, choose courses that focus on color theory, branding, visual communications, color perception and data-ink ratio.

Remember it’s not just about being creative or having an aesthetic eye; rather, it’s all about conveying information quickly and efficiently. Master the use of software such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw and database-management software such as Microsoft Excel. Learn a bit of programming such as JavaScript and its charting libraries like D3. And finally, take a course in statistical analysis and graphs as well as data analysis and profiling

3. Make You Own Stuff And Get Feedback

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And as you read and learn, start making your own stuff as well. Take an infographic that you don’t like and redesign it, or take historical information and statistics and represent them pictorially to make a point.

Offer volunteering and freelancing services. If you work at a company, why not turn some of the company data to graphs and offer constructive feedback that will help the company to improve in a specific area? Share your work with others and repeatedly ask them for opinions — if they understood what you tried to convey and what would have made it easier. Be open to negative criticism as well and be on the look-out for self improvement.

4. Learn to Collaborate

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Collaboration is the key to creating great data visualization. It’s important to remember that data visualization is not a lone endeavor. You will most often work with fellow professionals, clients, and companies to collect and interpret data for specific purposes, and you’ll need to learn to communicate clearly and cooperate effectively with your team to achieve your desired goal. Like any graphic design challenge, data visualization is an opportunity to problem solve. It will be much more fruitful if you learn to collaborate with your teammates who can contribute great information and solutions as you seek the best solution.

Data visualization is a vast field, and before you find your niche, you must have a good grasp of the basics. Be prepared to do a fair bit of independent learning and practice if you’re serious about mastering the skill set for creating awesome data visualization. If you’re enrolled in a graphic design course, try to use those classroom lessons when designing your own pie-charts and infographics as well as read up some pioneering work in the field. If there’s an area you have no knowledge about, consider signing up for an online course or tutorial. And always keep in mind that that both your design and analytical skills are of tantamount importance here.

Ready to learn more about graphic design? Check out NYFA’s graphic design programs!

4 Things Students Should Know About the Movie Production Industry

1. Successful people never make it alone.

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How many times have we heard ad nauseam that it’s all about who you know? Those who are at the top now, likely didn’t get there working in a vacuum. They rose through the ranks with others they trusted to collaborate with in reaching their goals. They have a team.

Start by engaging with others not just at school but at workshops, festivals, and seminars. Like-minded people will gravitate towards each other. Folks in the industry often work together and respect one another enough to keep building a professional relationship for their mutual benefit. If you are a writer, find a producer who is willing to work hard with you, and the same goes for directors and actors. Build your team, knowing that these people will fill the critical roles needed to make your films a success.

2. You are the director of your career.

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You’ve heard that opportunity strikes when luck meets preparation. This increasingly digital industry, where we now have access to a plethora of media platforms for storytelling, is primed for you to create your own content.

Gone are the days where filmmakers could rely on studios to greenlight their projects and get the whole team on board. In the age of social media and reality television, an artist often has to have a certain level of presence to even be considered. Create a strong body of work so you can attract an audience and position yourself to be able to make better career making decisions. Become a content creator, and you can become the director of your own career.  

3. Learn the secrets of outsourcing.

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A common misconception of a director or showrunner is that they are the “boss,” when in reality there should always be 4 or 5 trusted people who provide critique or are better skilled in one area or another. Whatever your position, know when to seek the expertise of others who will only make your project better. You’ll always have a blind spot, and your own talent and skill will have a chance to serve the project best when you are successfully collaborating with the talents and skills of the others on your team. Outsourcing for different aspects of your filmmaking process, whether it is for budgeting, animation, or coaching your actors, is one of the tried and true secrets to successful production.  Mentors, film networks, and other resources can fill in these gaps for you.

4. Know the basics of storytelling.

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While we can all agree that the fundamentals of storytelling are important to being a filmmaker, just as critical is knowing where you fit in the story that is actually taking place on set. Oftentimes, graduating from film school will leave you chomping at the bit to be hired as producer, director, or any other position of leadership. The truth is, your professional journey has only just begun. You are more than likely going to take on a PA role before doing anything else. How you handle what may feel like a lowly position is training ground for your future. Whatever your role is on set, it’s a critical one — or you wouldn’t be there. Every step of the way, you are paying dues—and all of it is a part of your story. Exhaust all of your opportunities to do what is expected, do it well, and always go the extra mile. Create your own track record, and be the hero in your story, where the only way to go is up.

Learn more about producing for film, television, and new media at the New York Film Academy.

What Does a TV Producer Do?

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Do you have excellent organizational skills and a head for numbers? Are you also creative and able to see projects through from the planning stages to the very end? Well, you might have the makings of a television producer.

Television producers coordinate and supervise all aspects of a production, from the creative to the administrative. Producers also make the financial decisions and handle contracts, talent and bargaining agreements, and other administrative details. While producers get to be in on the fun of planning and executing a production, they also deal with troubles during production and keep everything within budget.

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Some of the producer’s duties include:

  • Fundraising and networking
  • Working with financial backers
  • Seeking scripts and project ideas
  • Assessing proposed projects
  • Securing rights to books or other creative works
  • Commissioning writers

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  • For news and sitcoms, producers are often part of the writing team
  • Hiring a director, crew, and actors
  • Organizing shooting and production schedules
  • Ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations during production
  • Supervising the entire project from beginning to post-production
  • Holding regular meetings with director to discuss progress
  • Ensuring the project is done on time and within the budget

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There are several different types of producers and each one has different levels of responsibility on a production. The Producers Guild of America has a good overview of the different producer titles and responsibilities on their website.

Producers handle the business side of a production from finances to contracts and do a lot of trouble-shooting every day, so the job can be stressful. The fast-pace and working with other creative people can also be very rewarding. In an interview with Produced By, Marta Kauffman (“Friends,” “Grace and Frankie”) describes her typical day and how working on a series for Netflix is different from a network TV series.

Breaking into the field can be tough, but getting experience as a runner or a production assistant is often the first step. New York Film Academy’s Cheryl Bedford describes her career path and offers encouraging advice to students in this interview.

Ready to learn more about producing for film, television, and new media? Learn the trade at the New York Film Academy.

 

 

 

6 Unlikely Superhero Film Hits

Superman was the first superhero to grace the silver screen back in the 1940s. Since then the Man of Steel has had many incarnations, as have Batman and Spiderman — from camp TV shows to blockbuster movie franchises. But, in recent years,  there are  a few surprise superhero hits that, when first proposed, likely caused more than a little head scratching. To honor National Superhero Day, we celebrate the lesser-known superhero movies that may inspire you to delve deep into comic book obscurity to create a superhero movie of your own!

1. “Hellboy” (Dark Horse Comics, 2004)

Guillermo del Toro passed up a shot at directing the third “Harry Potter” film “because he nurtured a need to bring Mr. Mignola’s colossal, monstrous-looking, Twizzler-colored champion to the screen,” according to a NY Times review by Elvis Mitchell. Mitchell congratulates del Toro for keeping the “drizzly, musty gothic ambience” of the source material while giving it his own quirky spin:

“The writer and director Guillermo del Toro has brought a similar woozy, disconcerting melancholy to his film adaptation, and his obvious affection and affinity for that dankness alone would make “Hellboy” worth seeing. But Mr. del Toro lets loose with an all-American, vaudevillian rambunctiousness that makes the movie daffy, loose and lovable.”

2. “Deadpool” (Marvel, 2016)

He has the power to regenerate — his limbs as well as the X-Men franchise. This R-Rated blockbuster proves comics are not just for kids. Returning to the source material, the movie has the titular character breaking the fourth wall — unusual behavior for a filmic superhero and one that worked; a sequel is in development.

3. “Dr. Strange” (Marvel, 2016)

Perhaps the most unlikely part of the story of this worldwide blockbuster is that, after 30 years, it finally got made. But Dr. Strange has always been a superhero outlier. Wikipedia quotes the historian Bradford Wright as saying, “Never among Marvel’s more popular or accessible characters, Dr. Strange still found a niche among an audience seeking a challenging alternative to more conventional superhero fare.”

4. “Watchmen” (DC Comics, 2009)

As the Telegraph notes in a review, “In the annals of Hollywood development hell, the long-anticipated Watchmen ranks high on the list of movies that almost didn’t get made.”

Besides the development SNAFUs, director Zack Snyder created a difficult not-for-kids superhero film. The Telegraph writes: “As well as extreme violence — arms are sawn off, heads are hatcheted, blood spurts in gushers, necks are twisted and broken, a woman is brutally beaten and raped — ‘Watchmen’ also pushes the envelope with an explicit superhero sex scene between Night Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) that Snyder admits borders on pornography and which he filmed to the accompaniment of Leonard Cohen’s anthem ‘Hallelujah.’”

5. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Marvel, 2014)

As Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers wrote in his review: “Maybe you never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel comic franchise that wilts in the shadows while Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers get all the love. Maybe you think a big-*ss movie about wanna-be Marvel icons isn’t worth your time.

“Snap out of it. Guardians of the Galaxy does the impossible. Through dazzle and dumb luck, it turns the clichés of comic-book films on their idiot heads and hits you like an exhilarating blast of fun-fun-fun.”

6. “Ant-Man” (Marvel, 2015)

CinemaBlend ranked Ant-Man #24 on its 30 Best Superhero Movies list, and noted that, “Just like they did the previous year with Guardians of the Galaxy, 2015’s Ant-Man took an obscure character from Marvel’s library and turned them into a hit at the box office. The Peyton Reed-directed flick featured Scott Lang as the Tiny Titan working to harness the Pym Particle technology and make up for his criminal past with Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne’s help. By adding plenty of humor and incorporating a heist into the story, Ant-Man turned out to be anything but small when it came to enjoyability …”

What superhero would you like to see hit the big screen? Let us know in the comments below. And learn how to make your own films at New York Film Academy.

Buzz About This Year’s Tonys

The 71st Tony Awards are all set to be held on Sunday, June 11, so if you’re a Broadway lover, make sure you block the date. This year’s awards ceremony promises to be mesmerizing and we give you six reasons why you should be excited.

1. Kevin Spacey will be hosting the show.

Yup, he’s your favorite guy from “House Of Cards” who also won an Oscar for his role in “American Beauty.” He has even won a Tony for his role in “Lost in Yonkers” way back in 1991.

Although he has never hosted an awards show before, he is known for his mysterious persona that makes him even more endearing. In his own words, “I’m used to people thinking I’m nuts. And you know what? I kind of love it.”

With his enigmatic personality and unlimited charisma, he’s sure to make this year’s ceremony a memorable one. Moreover, Spacey was also a guest speaker at NYFA. Check out his Q&A session here.

2. This year’s line-up of presenters is AMAZING.

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Even if you aren’t that much of a Broadway buff, you surely wouldn’t miss the chance to catch your favorite actor or actress on the small screen, will you? Here are just some of the top names slated to make an appearance: Orlando Bloom, Tina Fey, Scarlett Johansson, Stephen Collbert, Josh Gad, Anna Kendrick and Olivia Wilde, among many others.

3. Some of your favorite nominees are going to be presenters as well.

Now that’s an extra incentive. Among the nominees who are supposed to be presenting as well, we’re 100 percent sure about Ben Platt from “Dear Evan Hansen,” Josh Gobran from “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” and Bette Milder from “Hello, Dolly!” So keep your fingers crossed.

4. Watch out for some fierce competition.

Currently leading the nominations with 12 nods is “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” a musical based on Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Next up with 10 nods is “Hello, Dolly!”

“Dear Evan Hansen” and “A Doll’s House, Part 2″ come third and fourth with nine and eight nominations, respectively.

So who are you expecting to win? Check out our predictions on Student Resources.

5. There’s even a Tony Award Season compilation album to get you into the groove.

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This is absolutely new and guess what? The songs were chosen as per fan votes on the official Tony Awards website!  The album will be officially released digitally on June 9 but you can pre-order it on iTunes. Some highlights from the album include “In A World Like This” from “A Bronx Tale,” “The Last Night of the World” from “Miss Saigon,” and “Sincerely, Me” from “Dear Evan Hansen.” A portion of the proceeds will also go to charity.

6. Guess who all are taking home the special awards?

The word is out that the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement will go to actor James Earl Jones and both Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin will be bestowed a Special Tony Award for their sound design work on “The Encounter.”

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So what part of the Tonys excites you the most?

By the way, we will be live-streaming during the Tony Awards ceremony, so don’t forget to follow us for live updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Entertainment Trailblazers in LGBTQ+ Activism

The entertainment industry has its share of human rights activists, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. Whether for queer or trans rights, these amazing individuals have stood up for what they believed in. Here are a few entertainment individuals whom the New York Film Academy salutes as pioneers in the field of LGBTQ+ rights.

Ellen DeGeneres

DeGeneres famously came out on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1997 before staging her own coming-out on her sitcom “Ellen.” Her coming-out-of-the-closet episode, entitled “The Puppy Episode,” received some of the show’s highest ratings.

She became the first openly lesbian actress to play an openly lesbian character on television. Since then, DeGeneres has had a hugely successful career, hosting both the Academy Awards and the Grammys as well as her own daytime talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” She continues to remain a crucial advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 from Barack Obama.

George Takei

Beloved as “Star Trek’s” Lieutenant Sulu, Takei officially came out in 2005 to oppose then-California governor Arnold Schwarzanegger’s veto of same-sex marriage legislation. Takei’s use of social media — he has over 10 million followers — has made him a pioneer in using Facebook to advance LGBTQ+ rights. Additionally, he is active in state and local politics. In 2014, he won the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)’s Vito Russo award, given to openly gay media professionals who have made important contributions for the LGBTQ+ community.

Laverne Cox

Transgender actress and comedian Laverne Cox first rose to prominence playing Sophia Burset on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” She became the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy in the acting category, as well as the first transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds.

In 2017, she became the first transgender actress to play an openly transgender character in CBS’s “Doubt.” Her success and activism has sparked conversations about transgender acceptance.

Parvez Sharma

This New York-based Indian filmmaker became famous in the LGBTQ+ community when he released his documentary “A Jihad for Love,” about gay and lesbian Muslims. He received the GLAAD Media Award in 2009 for his efforts.

A celebrated journalist who commentates frequently on CNBC and MSNBC, Sharma was named “one of the 100 gay men and women who have helped shape our culture during the year” by OUT Magazine in both 2008 and 2015.

Emily Rios

Latino and lesbian actress Emily Rios stars as an openly lesbian character on FX’s “The Bridge.”

“I’m gay, personally, so being Mexican and a lesbian — this is why I love the character because I deal with the same type of things with my own family,” Emily said in an interview. But her character doesn’t just focus on issues surrounding LGBTQ+ rights. “I want it to be an incidental thing, which is what happens in our everyday life.”

How will you be celebrating Pride Month? Let us know in the comments below.

Who Are We Rooting For at the 2017 Tony Ceremony?

The 2017 Tony Award Season is going to be a blast. Not only do we have Kevin Spacey (who was a guest speaker at NYFA) hosting the show, but we also have a pretty eclectic selection in terms of nominations.

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While “A Doll’s House Part 2″ imagines a sequel to the famous Ibsen play, “Groundhog Day,” based on a film of the same name, is a romantic comedy about a man stuck in a time loop. Meanwhile, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” a musical based on Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is leading the show with 12 nominations.

So who are your expected winners? Below are our predictions in the top categories for this year’s Tony Awards.

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1.  Best Play: Our guess is that it’s going to be “Sweat,” which is based on the Pulitzer-prize winning play by Lynn Nottage and takes a cold hard look at working-class America. However, “Oslo” may be a close contender for this award.

2. Best Musical: We’re torn between two choices — “Come From Away” and “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” but we’re willing to place a bet on the former.

3. Best Revival of a Play: Set in a gypsy-cab station, we think “Jitney” was one heck of an amazing ride and we’re hoping it will bag this year’s Tony.

4. Best Revival of a Musical: We think it’s going to be a close call between “Hello, Dolly!” and “Falsettos” but we’re slightly biased towards “Falsettos.” 

5. Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play: We think Kevin Kline did an amazing job as Garry Essendine in “Present Laughter.” 

6. Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play: As much as we love Cate Blanchett, we have a feeling it’s going to be Laurie Metcalf for her fantastic role in “A Doll’s House, Part 2″ as Nora Helmer.

7. Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical: For this, our heart simply goes out to Josh Groban from “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.”

8. Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical: Both Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone stole our hearts with their mesmerizing performances in “War Paint,” so we’re hoping it might be a draw, though we suspect Bette Midler from “Hello, Dolly!” is going to be stiff competition.

9. Best Direction of a Play: We think it’s a tough choice between Sam Gold (“A Doll’s House, Part 2″)  and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (“Jitney”).

10. Best Direction of a Musical: We’re rooting for Christopher Ashley for all the little ways he made “Come from Away” such a captivating experience.

11. Best Book of a Musical: In our opinion, the award for the best librettist should go to Steven Levenson for “Dear Evan Hansen.” 

12. Best Original Score Written For Theatre: We really hope its Dave Malloy’s heart-wrenching score for “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.” 

Do you agree or disagree with the above predictions?

In fact, we will be live-streaming during the Tony Awards ceremony, so follow us for live updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and see how many of our predictions came true!

The History of Drive-In Movie Theaters (and Where They Are Now)

Many people hear stories of their grandparents going to the drive-in theater for a Friday night hangout, but do you know the history of the classic movie experience?

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Though there were drive-ins as early as the 1910s, the first patented drive-in was opened on June 6, 1933 by Richard Hollingshead in New Jersey. He created it as a solution for people unable to comfortably fit into smaller movie theater seats after creating a mini drive-in for his mother. Appealing to families, Hollingshead advertised his drive-in as a place where “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.”

The success of Hollingshead’s drive-in caused more and more drive-ins to appear in every state in the country, and spread internationally as well. Drive-ins gained immense popularity 20 years later during the 1950s and ‘60s with the Baby Boomer generation. There were over 4,000 drive-ins throughout the U.S. and most were located in rural areas. They maintained popularity as both a space for families to spend time with each other as well as an affordable date night option.

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Drive-ins could only show movies during certain times of the year and were dependent on having decent weather. During the ‘70s, people downsized their cars during the oil crisis in order to save money on the inflated cost of gas, making it uncomfortable to watch movies at the drive-in. To make up for lost revenue, drive-ins began losing their family-friendly atmosphere by showing exploitation films like slasher horrors as well as adult content. The development of the VCR made it more appealing to stay at home and watch movies without paying for a movie at the drive-in.

Slowly, drive-ins began to lose their appeal. In order to have an effective drive-in, it had to be on at least 15 acres of land. Economically speaking, it became more practical for owners to close down their drive-ins in order to sell their land to developers to build malls or multi-building complexes.

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Even though drive-ins are not nearly as popular as they used to be (with some arguing that they will be obsolete within the next decade), there are still drive-ins in business throughout the country. Modern drive-ins vary, but many show current films as well as older films. A lot of them also plan double feature nights. Just like a classic drive-in and a regular theater, they sell refreshments like popcorn, candy and soda. Some even have playgrounds for families to entertain their children.

For now, there are over 300 drive-ins still in operation. Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania have the most drive-ins still in operation in the U.S., with each state having almost 30 left. Unfortunately, Hawaii, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Delaware, and Louisiana no longer have any that are still in business. But no matter the fate of America’s drive-ins, they will always be a nostalgic and cultural icon.

Learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is one of the most iconic superheroes in the world and has a large, faithful fan base. Bursting into the world in 1941, the Amazonian was an instant hit with comic book lovers everywhere. Even people who aren’t avid comic readers still adore the genius design and storyline. And now, the 2017 DC Comics film adaptation has smashed box office records.

As Forbes reports, “‘Wonder Woman‘ made even more over the weekend than originally estimated. It opened not with $100.5 million, but rather with $103.1 million … That makes it the biggest opening weekend ever for a female director.” (Want to learn more about female directors and gender inequality in the film industry? Check out our infographic.)

Wonder Woman was the third hero to get her own comic book after popular appearances in “All Star Comics #8” and “Sensation Comics #1” and is still regularly circulating in her own comic books, movies and TV appearances.  But even her biggest fans may not know these five awesome facts about her extraordinary history!

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1. Wonder Woman was partially based off of the creator’s wife.

Besides women’s suffragists, Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston (pen name Charles Moulton) based the first female crime-fighter on his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston. Elizabeth was a psychologist as well as an attorney, often helping her husband with Wonder Woman projects. The couple was also responsible for creating the very first prototype of the lie detector test.

2. Wonder Woman never wore a skirt.

In earlier issues, Wonder Woman seemed to be wearing a skirt. Surprise, it’s not a skirt! Wonder Woman was actually sporting culottes, or split pants with flowing bottoms, making them appear like a skirt, so she could be both practical and feminine. But no matter what she wears, Wonder Woman is always in style!

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3. She used to reform, not kill criminals.

Marston was inspired by the Suffragette Movement and believed having more women in charge of national and global affairs would lead to a more peaceful world. Wonder Woman would send many female villains to Reform (Transformation) Island after capturing them. Her hope was to have them return to the “true nature of women” and to bring peace to society with a women-run Earth.

4. The Lasso of Truth was based off of Marston’s lie detector prototype.

Wonder Woman uses her Lasso of Truth to force villains to be truthful and obedient, even using it to provide evidence in court. But did you know it was based on a real-life invention? Marston and Elizabeth’s lie detector invention directly influenced the creation of her famous Lasso of Truth. The prototype correlated heightened blood pressure with lying and guilt, but courts would not accept it as a reliable measure of guilt.

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5. Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus, Greek god of the sky and ruler of Olympus.

Though Wonder Woman’s first origin story said her mother Queen Hippolyta of Themyscira sculpts her daughter Diana out of clay, praying to the gods of Olympus for her clay–crafted child to come to life, the recent “DC Comics: Rebirth” series tells a different story. Queen Hippolyta only told the story to hide the truth: that Zeus is actually Wonder Woman’s father. This makes Wonder Woman a demigod like Hercules and explains the source of her mighty power.

What are your thoughts on the premier of “Wonder Woman” this week? Let us know in the comments below. Learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

10 Tips for Making More Polished Student Films

Let’s be honest: Many student filmmakers don’t have the time, money, or knowledge to produce a film of professional quality. Students at the New York Film Academy have access to high quality camera, lighting and sound gear, but it never hurts to know a few extra tips and tricks to create a more polished looking film on a shoestring budget.

Check out these student film hacks, below:

1. For Static Shots: Get yourself a tripod. Seriously. When you need a shot to be static, having a rock steady tripod really makes a difference.

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2. For Moving Shots: Build a homemade dolly. Get your hands on a couple of PVC pipes, fasten some tiny wheels (like from your old skateboard) to a wooden plank and you have yourself a homemade dolly on the cheap.

3. For Smooth Handheld Shots: Can’t afford a steadicam? Build your own. Homemade steadicams can be surprisingly affordable.

4. Work with Natural Light: It’s been said by many professional cinematographers that the best lighting is provided by nature. Just check out the stunning work of cinematographer Nestor Almendros on “Days of Heaven,” for which he won an Academy Award. All it requires is the discipline and patience to be at the right place at the right time of day.

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5. Work with Practical Lights: Practicals are the actual lamps and lighting fixtures found on location. As much as we would all like to use professional lighting units, that’s not something a shoestring budget usually allows for. But a well-placed practical not only creates a natural lighting effect, but gives you the added flexibility of turning the light on and off during the shot. In addition, cheap dimmers can be purchased at almost any hardware store and will allow you to creatively set the light intensity you want. If you’re shooting indoors, check out how available lamps look on screen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_50Yy1vDT8

6. Diffused Lighting: Naked bulbs are perfect when you want hard-edged shadows, like a basement scene in a horror film. But if you’re looking for softer lighting, there are a number of inexpensive products that can replace the need for expensive gels. Wax paper and frosted shower curtains are just two examples. These items are not only cheap, they’re lightweight, can be cut into any size you need, and are easily disposable when you’re done.

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7. Sculpting and Shaping Light: One of the keys to lighting well is sculpting and shaping the light. On professional movie sets, this is done with a grip kit. Grip kits contain flags, nets, silks and scrims — expensive tools used for this purpose. But with a little ingenuity, cheap substitutes can be found. Here are just two examples: When you need to block light from part of the set, black poster board can be cut and bent into any shape you need. It has the added advantage of being lightweight, enabling you to hang it in place with painters or gaffers tape. And aluminum foil can be wrapped around a light to focus it into a spotlight or even a pinhole of light.

8. Balancing Colored Light Sources: When mixing daylight with artificial light, the results can sometimes look unprofessional because daylight is bluish (colder), while lamp light is more red (warmer), and fluorescent lights tend to be green. You may like this fruit salad of color, but if you want a more professional look you’ll want the color of your light sources to match. One way to achieve this is to replace all the light bulbs with daylight-balanced bulbs. You can purchase these at a lighting supply store but less expensive versions can often be found at supermarkets and drug stores.

9. Everything Looks Good in Black and White: This may be more of a opinion-based tip, but even with the noisiest, grainiest, lowest quality of video cameras, black and white can act as a last-minute savior! Black and white will also cure problems of mismatched color from your lighting sources.

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10. Cheap Lighting Effects: Need your actors to look like they are being lit by a TV screen or a fireplace? These effects can be easily produced with some inexpensive supplies. Randomly moving a piece of black poster board in front of a soft source of light can reproduce the intermittent flickering of a TV screen. The traditional method is to put a piece of blue gel over the light.

Similarly, by taping strips of orange gel to a broomstick and then gently waving it in front of a soft source of light, you can reproduce the flickering of a fireplace. In both cases, sound effects can go a long way to enhance the effect. Until you have the resources and funds available to get your hands on the gear the pros use, these hacks will do the trick.

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By the way, it isn’t just student filmmakers who can benefit from these tips — low budget and indie filmmaker have used these low-budget techniques for decades. And don’t let these tips be the end of your experimentation: With a little imagination and ingenuity, you can come up with all kinds of startling effects.

Ready to learn more about filmmaking? Check out the New York Film Academy’s programs in filmmaking.

 

How to Produce a Super Soundtrack for Your Low-Budget Film

The soundtrack sets the tone of your film, and connects with your viewers on an emotional, if often unconscious, level. But if getting the rights to use a hit song by a major recording artist is beyond your budget — and let’s face it, most independent films don’t have the kind of money necessary to do that — then these tips for creating a super soundtrack for a low-budget film are for you.

Using Covers to Your Advantage

Gaining rights to music has two associated licenses: The Synchronization (sync) License (held by the songwriter or publisher, who may be contacted through the performing rights societies ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) and the Master License (the entity that owns the recording, typically the record company or the (unsigned) artist or production company).

In order to mitigate the high cost associated with master licenses by major recording artists, consider finding a cover of the song recorded by a lessor (or unknown) band. You might also call upon your buddy with a uke to record it.

Find a Rising Star With a Hit in the Making

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SoundCloud is an invaluable resource for up-and-coming bands and musicians, and a goldmine for filmmakers with limited budgets. If you are willing to take the time to search and trust your musical judgement, you can use SoundCloud to put you in touch with some talented unsigned musicians with whom you might be able to negotiate directly.

Finding and Licensing the Sound You Want

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Sites such as The Orchard, Jingle Punks, and Pump Audio (Getty Image’s music division) exist to connect musicians with filmmakers. As this helpful IFP article suggests, the loose rule of thumb is to allot 10-15 percent of your overall budget for music, and suggests making sure you have a professional on your side. Music licensing is complicated and you don’t want to be hit with a lawsuit just when your film is taking off.

Do It Yourself

If you have some musical talent and/or ideas for a minimal sound, you should consider creating your own soundtrack. As this article points out, it’s easier than ever for those willing to spend a little time learning the software to create professional-sounding musical scores:

Apple’s $199 Logic Pro X is a great value considering what you get: over 10G of MIDI sounds, samples and loops (all free and clear), as well as the ability to record your own music using an audio interface, or sample and manipulate any sound you want. Plus, you can score your film from within the program, watching the picture as you work.”  

Get Scrappy

As with all aspects of low-budget filmmaking, creative thinking and adaptability are necessary to do things without breaking your film’s piggy bank on the one hand or feeling disappointed and giving up on the other. Look at the artists around you and reach out. You might find you have a lifelong artistic relationship waiting to happen!

Ready to learn more about film production? Check out the New York Film Academy’s producing programs to get started.

How to Get Into Film Festivals

At the New York Film Academy, students in our filmmaking program learn from the best. Starting on day one through hands-on experience, students learn how to write, shoot, direct, and edit their films. At the end of each filmmaking course, NYFA students have the opportunity to screen their films, open to the cast, crew, friends, and family.

Students don’t have to stop there though. There are many opportunities for students to submit their films to festivals. We have some tips for you to help you get into film festivals.  

Pay Attention

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When you are submitting to a film festival — it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small — pay close attention to all of the submission rules and regulations of the festival committee. Each festival has its own specific set of rules, and it’s important to show the festival committee that you can follow direction.

In an interview with “The Huffington Post,” Elliot Grove, independent film producer and founder of the London Raindance Film Festival, said that a lot of filmmakers end up annoying film festival programmers.

Make sure you read all the rules and regulations for submission before you pick up that phone or send an email to the festival committee. You’ll also want to make sure that you understand the overall tone of the festival, and that the work that you are submitting is reflective of that.

When it comes down to it, there are many factors that determine whether a film will be accepted into a film festival or rejected. Think about quality of the screenplay, subject matter, color correction, and sound mixing when you are submitting a film.

You should also try and submit to film festivals early to avoid paying any late fees. Each film festival has three waves of submissions: early, regular, and late. Prices during early deadlines are at their lowest, whereas submitting late could cost you a ton of money.

Pick the Right Festival

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Again, it comes back to paying attention to details. Each film festival has its own focus and it’s important that you understand that focus before you start submitting your material. When you are looking at the different types of film festivals, you need to think about the genres that will be there and your audience. Also, does the festival have a theme for that year? These are all important factors that you should think about when you are picking the festival.

Test the Film Out Before Submitting  

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Strive to make your film as perfect as possible before you submit it to a film festival. If you feel like something is off, or something in the film could be improved, fix it before you send it off. We know you want to get your film finalized so you can see the audience’s reaction and receive some gratification, but impatience leads to mistakes.

Don’t be afraid to do a live screening with a test audience. You may need a venue, projection and sound equipment, but you’ll be able to watch the audience react to your film and receive their feedback instantly.

You may be able to tweak your film based on the audience’s positive feedback and criticism. It’s extra work for you to do before submitting it to a film festival, but in the end, it would be worth it to do a test screening.

Do you have any tips for submitting films to festivals? If so, let us know below! Learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

 

The Next Virtual Reality Frontier Might Be Ads

With many companies moving from brick and mortar stores to online showrooms, advertisers are turning to virtual reality to help sell products — especially those that most people want to see or test before buying. As the technology improves and more people adopt VR viewing devices, advertisers will have more options for getting their messages out.

Marketers are using VR storytelling to create short, immersive experiences that are quite different from traditional television and online commercials. These VR experiences tend to unfold and slowly introduce the product, allowing the viewer to “discover” the product within the experience.

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Being able to tell an immersive story through VR makes it more likely that viewers will share the clip online rather than clicking to skip the ad — at least until the novelty of VR wears off. VR can also be part of an event. Because the VR viewing experience allows the viewer to look at different things in their environment, they may choose to watch the same piece of advertising more than once so they can focus on different things each time.

Through VR, marketers can showcase products in an “ideal” environment and customers can choose what items to inspect more closely. In 2015, Target ran a series of Halloween ads using VR to show off its line of decorations and costumes. There are six ads, that taken together, tell a story. The Ghoulish Graveyard makes good use of VR technology to help create atmosphere and let viewers see how they might set up a similar lawn display.

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Travel and tourism are natural subjects for VR filmmakers. Dubai Here You Are presents a day in the life of Dubai while Best Western has a series of ads showing off the lobbies and rooms of its hotels across the U.S. Hiking boot maker Merrell produced what they claim is the first commercial “walk around” VR experience in 2015 with its Merrell TrailScape.

Using the immersive narrative techniques also gives more power to public service announcements and showcasing a company’s charitable efforts. AT&T has several ads pointing out the dangers of distracted driving. In a spot titled It Can Wait, viewers are placed in the driver’s seat as a series of texts becomes more of distraction. Experience the TOMS Virtual Giving Trip takes viewers to a school in Peru where the company donates shoes to the students. Companies with a social conscience use VR to take customers behind the scenes to show how their purchases can help people around the world.

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VR advertising can help show that even long-established brands are modern. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are also dipping their toes in the VR world with packaging that can be converted into VR viewers and with links to games and shorts that advertise their products.

Luxury car makers have used VR for virtual test drives. Volvo offers viewers a look around the cabin of the XC90 and then an experience driving a scenic mountain route. Audi uses VR and sandbox gaming to let people build tracks and experience the ride in their Sandbox. Interactive advertising that appeals to young and old helps establish brand recognition that lasts a lifetime. Lexus and ABC teamed up to make QuanticoVR, which gives viewers the point of view of a rookie on the force—there is a chance to look at the interior and exterior of the Lexus and then immersion into the show.

Interested in becoming a virtual reality developer? Study virtual reality at NYFA.

 

 

9 Tips for Writing a Film Review

Whether you are an actor, a filmmaker or a film geek through and through, writing film reviews can help hone your ability to think critically and watch movies with a response that goes deeper than “that movie was awesome!” And for you future film reviewers out there, it’s never too soon to start. Here are nine tips for writing a film review that people will want to read.

1. Watch the film.

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Once is necessary twice is preferable. Taking notes is also a good idea and will help the writing process by making it easy to refer to your in-the-moment thoughts and reactions.

2. Express your opinions and support your criticism.

Professional reviewers do not shy away from telling their readers whether they thought the movie was good bad or indifferent, and in fact readers come to rely on those reviewers whose tastes reflect their own when deciding whether or not to spend their time and money. Professional reviewers also have watched a lot of movies and can express why and how they came to their criticism. Be sure to back up your thoughts with specifics–a disappointing performance, a ridiculous plot, beautiful cinematography, difficult material that leaves you thinking, and so on.

3. Consider your audience.

Are you writing for a fan site, a national news outlet, or a Teen Magazine? Knowing who your readers are can help you decide what elements of the movie to highlight. You should also adjust your writing style to fit the publication.

4. The actors.

Many casual filmgoers will be inspired to see a movie if a favorite actor is in it, so you should probably spend a little space talking about the performances: seasoned actor in a new kind of role, brilliant performance from a rising star, excellence despite a lackluster script, dynamics in an ensemble, and so much more can be said about the actors in any given film.

5. Directors, cinematographers, special effects.

This is where your film geek can really shine. Tell your readers about the highlights or missteps of directors, cinematographers, costume designers and CGI magicians. What worked, what surprised, what fell short of expectations, are all great questions to address in the body of your review.

6. No spoilers!

Give your readers some idea of the plot, but be careful not to include any spoilers. Remember the point of a good review is to get people interested in going to the movie. Don’t get over excited and ruin it for them!

7. Study the professionals.

As with all writing endeavors, the more you read the better you will be. And when you read film reviews that you like (or don’t like), think about why. Use your critical eye to think about why one reviewer has a hundred thousand followers and another two. Be sure also to read the publications where you’d like your writing to appear as a template for your own reviews, and don’t forget to read the submission guidelines!

8. Reread, rewrite and edit.

Edit your work; your opinions will not be taken seriously if you misspell the director’s name or can’t put together a grammatically correct sentence. Take the time to check your spelling and edit your piece for organizational flow.

9. Find your voice.

The best reviewers have a distinct personality that comes across in their writing. This does not happen overnight, so take every opportunity to write as an opportunity to develop your own style and voice that will grab reader’s attention and keep them coming back for more.

Ready to learn more about filmmaking? Check out the New York Film Academy’s many program options.

 4 Books to Inspire You About the Future of Virtual Reality

To be very honest, it’s impossible to NOT be excited about the sheer potential of virtual reality. From the perspective of the user- it’s exactly like tumbling into wonderland and discovering a whole new surreal and interactive world. From the point-of-view of the VR developer, it’s like playing God- creating and designing a world as per your imagination. Whether you’re looking to work in the lucrative VR industry or just a scifi nerd, these books will inspire you about VR’s future by sharpening your imagination with futuristic fantasies or giving you theoretical knowledge you can put to test.

1. “Learning Virtual Reality: Developing Immersive Experiences and Applications for Desktop, Web, and Mobile” by Toni Parisi

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If you’re looking for an easy to read but extensive introduction packed with practical tips, this is your go-to handbook. Written by an industry expert and entrepreneur, this book gives you a lowdown on the 3 most important VR platforms- Cardboard, Gear and Oculus- and explains how to actually go about doing the stuff. After all to make your imagination into reality you need to learn UI design, work with 3D graphics as well know a fair bit of programming.

2. “Neuromancer” by William Gibson

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This seminal cyberpunk work of fiction, first published in 1984 that ushered in the world of cyberspace and VR, long before the Wachowski duo made the “The Matrix” (1999). Set in a futuristic America, the novel follows Case and Molly as they try to save the world from a rogue AI. So if you’re having trouble wrapping your head round the whole idea of VR and its consequences, this book should give you ideas.

3. “Masters Of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture” by David Kushner

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Of course, if Pokemon Go is anything to go by, the primary field to be affected by VR is the gaming industry.  Which means if you’re really interested in VR, you might as well be a geek when it comes to video games especially of the experimental variety. This book talks about how two random guys came together to form their company “id software” that went on to launch the famous “Commander Keen” and “Wolfenstein 3D” games. It not only gives a sneak peek into how the video games are designed and how the industry works in general, but it also highlights the importance of collaboration and the need to work in a team of complementing skill sets to make successful products.

4. “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson

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Hailed by VR experts and scientists like Michael Abrash, this hard sci fi novel that came out in 1992 literally set the ball rolling for the virtual to be made real. In fact, most of the VR terminology we use everyday such as “metaverse” and “avatar” can all be traced back to this book that is a blend of history, myth, linguistics, computer science and politics and makes for heavy reading.  

5. “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

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As Variety puts it, Ernest Cline’s visionary dystopian novel “has been hailed by many in the VR industry as a seminal piece of writing about virtual worlds.” It’s inspired so many current industry leaders, VR developers, and artists, that Warner Bros. is currently producing a major motion picture version of the book directed by Stephen Spielberg, to be released in 2018.

So if you’re up for studying VR at NYFA, these books are a must-read to brush up your knowledge as well as to broaden your horizons. After all VR is one field that requires both technical skill and expertise as well as creativity and imagination. So while you’re reading a programming handbook on Unity, make sure you’re up to date with important sci fi literatures as well.

The Best International Film Festivals for Study Abroad Students to Watch

Ah, the joys of studying abroad: new food, new friends, new experiences, and of course- who could forget?- new films! If you’re a study abroad student, definitely take advantage of these international film festivals that are sure to knock your socks off.

Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale)

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This prestigious film festival was founded in 1951 in West Berlin, Germany. With over 300,000 tickets sold and a whopping half a million admissions, it is considered the largest publicly attended film festival in the world. Over 400 films are screened during the festival. It typically coincides with the European Film Market, which is the largest European film industry meeting. Together, the Berlinale and European Film Market attract roughly 20,000 industry professionals, as well as almost 5,000 journalists. For the newest, latest, and greatest, don’t miss out on the Berlinale.

International Film Festival of India (IFFI)

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Held in Goa — one of India’s most popular and colorful tourist destinations — this is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. The film festival takes its inspiration from the phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which means coexistence and peaceful tolerance. Founded in 1952 as a non-competitive exhibition, the IFFI now awards prizes to the best films screened. The eleven-day festival also coincides with the feast of Basque saint Francis Xavier, so it’s sure to be a carnival of movies and parades.

Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF)

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The Montreal World is the only competitive film festival in North America recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations. Started in 1977, it’s the oldest film festival in Canada and the most diverse; while the Toronto International Film Festival mostly shows films from North America and Canada, the Montreal World focuses on including films from all over the world. It’s held in late August, which conveniently avoids the biting cold of Montreal in winter. If you’re looking for a buffet of international cinema, this is your best bet if you’re studying abroad in Canada.  

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

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Held over a three-week period in July and August, this film festival is one of the oldest in the world- and certainly the most notable one Down Under. You might not think of Melbourne as a significant film history site, but it was the location for the shooting of “The Story of the Kelly Gang” (1906), the first full-length feature film. The most prestigious award given is the Grand Prix for Best Short Film, a $10,000 prize that is recognized worldwide in the short film category. There are also a host of other awards for feature films and documentaries.

Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF)

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This film festival is one of Hong Kong’s largest cultural events. 250 titles are screened every year from over 55 countries, making it one of the world’s biggest film festivals. Since 1972, HKIFF has helped open Asian cinema to the world and introduced the culture of Hong Kong to foreign tourists flocking to the festival.

Interested in learning about filmmaking at one of the New York Film Academy’s international locations? Check out our worldwide locations.

How to Break Into Local News as a Broadcast Journalist

If you want to break into journalism, you better prepare yourself for it first. Unlike traditional disciplines where you can enroll yourself in a course, study and take exams, get a degree and then comfortably land a job, journalism doesn’t work like that. Of course, signing up for a degree course always helps, but remember it is your real life awareness and practical skills that will ultimately help you to have a flourishing career. Broadcast journalism, which includes radio, television and the internet, in particular requires you to be skilled in a number of areas, and we tell you how.

1. You Need To Have These Basic Skills

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A lot of people tend to be under the impression that superior writing skills is your ticket to a journalism job, but that’s not true. Journalistic writing is different from creative and academic writing and writing great reports comes with practice. As a broadcast journalist, you also need top-notch speaking skills and the ability to think on your feet. You need to be able to present information no matter how provocative in a diplomatic and pleasing manner. If you have performance anxiety, take up a classes in public speaking or body language and presentation skills or join the local debate and drama clubs.

2. Apply For Internships and Get Work Experience

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You won’t get a job if you have stellar grades and amazing references, unless you have work experience. So take up a part time job that gives you the real life experience of being a journalist- work for the college newspaper or the community radio station. When you’re on summer break, apply for an internship at a local television station. It doesn’t matter if it’s unpaid: at this stage you need the certificate, and more importantly, you need the experience and the right contacts.  And don’t just stop after one brief stint at the newsroom- keep building your CV as you learn.

3. Win Some Student Journalism Awards

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You also need to display quick and sharp critical thinking skills and an acute knowledge of current affairs.  Winning awards or even being nominated for one, helps you stand out from the rest. Take part in local, national and international competitions. Even participating in your college MUN will give you a crash course on international politics and diplomacy. Try your hand at investigative journalism and see if you can get a byline at a major newspaper or a website. Even a few published clips might go a long way in getting you a job.

4. Understand How the Style of Reporting Changes Across Media

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A report published in a newspaper is different from the one that’s broadcast over tv, and will still differ from the one posted on the internet. So try to find out what changes when you adapt a piece of news across different media. If you’re working in radio, the audio is of utmost importance and you might want to practice scriptwriting or making podcasts. Similarly, for tv and the internet, you need to know the basics of videography including shooting and photographing people or events live as well as editing. Also keep some additional skills handy like knowing shorthand or speaking in a foreign language.

5. Be Proactive

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In other words, go out there and do it yourself. Don’t wait for the college placement cell to give you a job. Take the initiative, build the right contacts and volunteer your services. Interview local celebrities or if you feel that something’s missing from the local news, cover the matter yourself and send it to a news agency. Or if you can provide a different angle to a popular news story, go and do it, instead of discussing it with friends. In short, do as you would do if you were already a broadcast journalist.

Broadcast journalism may look and sound tough, but if you can do it right, you’re in for an exciting, enjoyable and fulfilling career. Remember, the keywords are versatility, experience and being proactive. Don’t fret if you think you don’t have the right skills. If you really want a career here, make a list of your strengths and weaknesses and then make an action plan to improve your weaknesses and build on your strengths. Be passionate and keep preserving, and you won’t even notice when you’ve broken into the industry.

Middle Eastern Filmmakers You Should Know

Film industries across the globe are growing, and many Middle Eastern countries have a rich cinematic history. For example, Egypt has a film industry that dates to the silent era and Qatar is the home of the Doha Film Institute. Filmmakers in this region often have character-driven narratives that create intimate glimpses into the lives of people who live in the shadow of constant conflict. Because budgets can be very tight in these areas, there are rarely big car chases and special effects; instead, there is creative plot development and solid character development. Here are just a few of the filmmakers you should know:

Youssef Chahine was an Egyptian writer and director who is credited with launching the career of Omar Sharif. Chahine did not shy away from controversy in his films and often explored social themes such as same-sex relationships, the role of women in society, and the relationship between Egypt and Western culture. Like all great directors, Chahine is a stylist with the camera. Cinematology provides an excellent introduction to the framing technique he used throughout his career.

Elia Suleiman is a self-trained writer, actor, and director whose first feature film, “Chronicle of a Disappearance” won Best First Film at the 1996 Venice Film Festival. Suleiman’s films about the Palestinian diaspora are full of comedy and tragedy. He often appears in his feature films as a silent stone-faced character who is reminiscent of Buster Keaton, taking in the absurdity of life in exile. Visually, his films are stunning, full of juxtapositions of sweeping landscapes and closeups on characters’ faces. His dialogue is natural, yet funny and insightful. His 2009 film “The Time That Remains” is a semi-autobiographical look at his family’s life from 1948 to today.

Eran Ricklis is an Israeli writer and director whose films explore the complex relationships between Arabs and Jews in Israel. While his films often have political actions as a backdrop, the focus is on the people who must deal with consequences daily. Films like “Cup Final” (1991), “The Syrian Bride” (2004), and “A Borrowed Identity” (2015) all feature characters who must find a way to understand each other’s humanity.

Annemarie Jacir is a Palestinian-American filmmaker who explores life in exile in films like “Salt of this Sea” and “When I Saw You.” Her films feature strong female leads and challenge expected gender roles. She is also a poet and the cofounder of the Dreams of a Nation cinema project, which promotes Palestinian cinema.

Nadine Labaki is a Lebanese actress and director. She began her directing career doing commercials and music videos before making her first feature film, “Caramel” (2006). “Caramel” and Labaki’s 2010 film, “Where do We Go Now,” both explore love, social roles and traditions, sexuality, and gender roles with humor.

Babak Anvari is an Iranian writer and director, whose 2016 feature debut, “Under the Shadow,” is a psychological thriller. The film is set during the 1980s in post-revolutionary Tehran and Anvari and uses lighting, camera angles, and sound to create genuinely frightening scenes that are reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s work.

Want to learn more about global cinema? Thinking about studying abroad? The New York Film Academy has several international locations.