Author: New York Film Academy

5 Ways to Write a Convincing Crowdfunding Pitch for Your Film

By NYFA Guest Contributor Grace Carter

Crowdfunding is a competitive arena; there are a lot of people out there trying to get their film funded by online backers. To stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to believe in your talent and ability to make the project happen — and prove to people that you’re worth their investment.

Here are five tips to help you write a convincing crowdfunding pitch for your film.

Pick the Right Platform

Before you get writing that crowdfunding pitch, you need to decide what platform is best for your campaign. Established sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo will give you the benefit of high visibility, but will charge you higher fees than a smaller site. If you choose Kickstarter, keep in mind that their campaigns are an all-or-nothing deal; if you don’t reach your goal, you will not get any of the funding you raised. Indiegogo allows you to choose between the all-or-nothing deal or a situation where you receive your funds regardless of whether your goal was met.

Write a Compelling Story

This is your pitch: your chance to convince would-be backers why your film is worthy of their money. Answer the important questions of who, what, when, where, and why. People often forget to answer the why question, but don’t make that mistake. Talk about yourself and your story, and why you’re making this film. What is your film about, what is its message? What’s your timeframe for filming, and when do you expect to have it completed and ready for viewing? How will be people be able to view it? It’s great to show some passion, just make sure you can deliver on the expectations you create with that passion. 

Build up some credibility by talking about past filmmaking success and any relevant experience you have. Don’t forget to include your call to action, by directing people in how they can support your work. You’ll get better results if you use words like “receive” and “offer” instead of “help” and “support.” 

You may also want to go the extra mile to make sure your pitch is well written by using professional grammar, proofreading, and editing services. Be sure to check your pitch’s grammar with sites like ViaWriting or Simplegrad.

Use Lots of Visuals

Since you’re trying to fund a film, you’ll want to include as many visuals as you can. If you’ve started filming, consider including a short clip so people can see what you’re doing. Don’t worry if you’re still in pre-production, you can film a short video in which you explain what you’re doing and what your vision is for your film. You can put together a very clever and low-budget video pitch, like the one made by the makers of I am I.

Ideally, your video should only be a few minutes long, and the first 10 seconds are critical. If you don’t grab your viewer’s attention in those first 10 seconds, they’ll lose interest and click away before you can even get into your pitch. The last 10 seconds are just as critical, and it’s important to leave your viewers with a clear takeaway and call to action.

“Be sure to rehearse your script quite a bit before you get on camera, so you don’t look like an amateur. A few awkward pauses or stuttering are all it takes for a would-be backer to lose faith. Spend some time crafting your pitch script and practice, practice, practice,” advises Roland Ainsworth, writer at State of Writing.

Include Some Nice Perks

Backer rewards are bonuses you hand out to people who support your campaign, usually on a scale depending on the level of funding. Some perk ideas for a film crowdfunding campaign include a thank you shoutout on the film website; access to an online production diary; access to an inspirational playlist used and curated by the director; a download of the film pre-release; and a DVD and thank you in film credits.

It’s important not to overcommit. Put some thought into how much you can actually deliver on should you receive a lot of support. It would be a shame to ruin your credibility and anger your backers by being unable to deliver on your backer perk promises.

Promotion

Once you’ve got a solid pitch and some nice rewards planned, it’s time to get the world watching.

“Start by letting your friends and family know. It’s a good strategy to try and get 30 percent of your funding with a soft launch targeted at people your group knows, before going ahead with the hard launch on a platform,” recommends Doris Crawford, editor at UKWritings.

Make sure you put together your mailing list and send private emails and phone calls at least a month prior to launching the crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t raise at least 5-10 percent of your target goal, it is probably best to postpone the launch.

Post regular updates on your film’s social media accounts to remind your community of how things are progressing. You might want to build up some hype before you launch your campaign, just don’t overdo it and turn people off. Reach out to friends of friends, bloggers, and influencers. Over time you’ll get people tweeting and organically promoting your campaign. Email might seem old fashioned, but a targeted email campaign can still be very effective.

Conclusion

Writing a convincing crowdfunding pitch can be tough. You’re competing with a lot of other people and a lot of other films. You need to make yours stand out and is backed by a solid plan. Write a compelling story, for what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Use lots of visuals, giving your backers a taste of your filmmaking talent. Follow these five ways to write a convincing crowdfunding pitch for your film.

Ready to learn more about film and media production? Check out our Producing School programs at the New York Film Academy.

Grace Carter is a writer and storyteller at Essayroo and Boom Essays service. She edits, proofreads, writes various types of papers, and helps the content marketing team. Also, Grace is a tutor at Academized educational website. 

Street Photography to Use as Inspiration

There comes a point in time when every photographer faces a creative block, whether is it general frustration with capturing the perfect moment or not being satisfied with your photos. Some photographers might only feel creative when they are traveling; others may struggle with finding a fresh angle when photographing their usual subjects or genres.

You may be wondering how you can get out of your creative rut. Why not borrow from street photography?

We have some tips below to help you get in the zone and try out new methods to inspire your photography:

Shoot with a New Camera

Sometimes, using a new piece of equipment can really give you new perspective and liven up your street photography. It is possible that your shooting style will change as well when shooting with a new camera. If you use a digital camera, try using film, and vice versa.

Borrow a camera from a friend, or if you are up for a challenge, try shooting with a smartphone. You may be surprised with the results.

Try a Different Focal Length

A different focal length will change your point of view and help you see things through a fresh perspective. If you are used to shooting with a 50mm lens, then trying using a 35mm lens. It will force you to get closer to your subject and shoot more dramatic photos.

Change POV

Try changing your point of view to shake up your habits and push yourself out of your comfort zone as a photographer. For example, if you have a habit of taking photos from the ground, also known as “rat’s eye view,” try taking photos from a high level looking down at your subject. Different angles will allow you to see new things that you may have not noticed before.

Create a Project

Here’s a good long-term challenge that will get you outside and force you to find a way to see new things in the everyday. Find a new, interesting spot in your city or town and photograph it every day at the same time. Photograph it for a year, and at the end of the year, do a comparison of photos. Through your photographs, you will be able to see all the interesting things that were happening at that spot on a daily basis.

What do you do when you are in a creative rut? Let us know below how street photography inspires you! Learn more about Photography at New York Film Academy. If you’re ready to take the next step, apply here.

A Guide to The Most Important Film Award Shows

It’s in our nature as humans to appreciate things that stand out from the rest. Whether it’s a sports victory or a notable scientific accomplishment, we love appreciating exception talent and hard work — and the film industry is no different. While there are quite a number of amazing awards shows that every fan of film should check out, below you’ll find a breakdown of perhaps the most-anticipated and important annual film award shows:

The Academy Awards

If there’s one film ceremony that’s more celebrated and anticipated than the rest, it’s the Oscars. Even the trophy itself — a gold-plated bronze figure atop a black metal base — is recognized across the world as arguably the most prestigious award in the industry.

The first Academy Award ceremony was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929, and since then has been overseen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As one of the original celebrations to entertain people worldwide, the Academy Awards helped give the talented, hardworking people in the industry the attention they deserve.

It also paved the way for other top ceremonies such as Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, and Emmy Awards. You can watch awards in all 24 categories annually, when the ceremony is nationally broadcast. The ceremony is usually held during the early months of every year.

BAFTA Awards

This annual awards show, considered the British version of the Academy Awards, honors the best international and British contributions to film.

The event saw its beginnings in 1947 with The British Film Academy, but then the organization merged with The Guild of Television Producers and Directors in 1958, before becoming the The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in 1976.

Supported by more than 6,500 active members located across the globe, The BAFTA Awards are celebrated for rewarding the best in the industry while also providing special recognition to British films in the form of awards that only UK films are eligible to win. This annual award show has been held in February for the last two decades.

Golden Globe Awards

The Golden Globe Awards are one of the most important film award shows for a number special reasons. Not only are both film and television productions recognized, but it also honors projects from foreign countries as well as from the United States.

The 1st Golden Globe awards were held in 1943 after several writers united to form the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit group designed to promote and conduct the ceremony.

Golden Globe winners, which are chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 93 members, receive their awards during an event viewed by more than 160 countries. The Golden Globes can be seen annually and are responsible for helping to fund important scholarships and programs beneficial to future stars, including the Young Artist Awards presented by the Young Artist Foundation.

Cannes Film Festival Palm D’or Award

Held annually in France, the Cannes Film Festival is renowned for giving new films of all genres, including documentaries, a chance to be seen by important industry professionals for the first time. From the early 1930s to today, Cannes has continued making an impact on Europe and the international film industry by serving as a place for filmmakers to show off their work and talent to an invite-only crowd.

The highest prize — the Palm D’or — is a prestigious award given to the best film of the year. A 24-carat gold palm encased in blue Morocco leather is given to the winner, which is chosen by juries appointed by the Festival’s board of directors. The jury and its president, selected from a body of respectable international artists, meet annually at the historic Villa Domergue to choose the winner.

Filmfare Awards (Clares)

If there’s one international film industry that’s impossible to ignore for its continued growth and relevance, it’s India’s. Comprised of several film markets including Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry, India has become one of the largest film producers on the planet with ticket sales by number oftentimes surpass Hollywood. The Filmfare Awards were founded in 1954 to honor the talent and brilliance of the Hindi language film industry.

Those awarded the “Lady in Black,” the iconic award statuette of a woman performing an upward dancing motion, are chosen by both the public and a committee of professionals. The Filmfare Awards are presented each year by The Times Group and are considered the Hindi film industry’s equivalent to the Oscars. As of 2016, a total of 31 awards are given during the show.

What are your favorite annual film, television, and media awards? Let us know in the comments below! Learn more about Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

How to Find Space to Improvise in the Filmmaking Process

Who could forget Heath Ledger’s Joker applauding Gordon in The Dark Knight or Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter making the “hsss” sound in The Silence of the Lambs? Whether it was an actor being spontaneous or the team unexpectedly having to rework a scene on the spot, improvisation is a fun and occasionally necessary part of filmmaking. Beyond the many hours behind writing screenplays, planning shots, and preparing scenes, you’ll find that some of our favorite film moments weren’t originally planned.

If you’ve ever been involved in a film production, then you know how crazy schedules can get. This means that if you want room for trying out spontaneous ideas while filming your own project, you’ll have to find time for it in your schedule. Fortunately, there are a number of time management tips to consider if you want to create some extra space for these opportunities.

It All Starts With a Solid Shooting Schedule…

There’s no better way to tackle a creative endeavor as demanding as filmmaking than with a plan of attack — with the understanding that things will almost certainly not always go as planned, and improvisation may be required!

Even if you’re project doesn’t have a large scale of time and dollars on the line, a good shooting schedule will usually directly impact the quality of your film. Thus, you can kiss any room for improvising goodbye if a poor shooting schedule has you pressed for time while you juggle tasks that need to be done and should have already been completed.

A good start for an effective production schedule is making sure your team’s key players sit down and make decisions. These days it’s easier than ever to all stay on the same page, thanks to online communication and project tools like Slack and Google Hangouts.

A rule of thumb in the film business is to plan for extra time — be it more days in a month or hours in a tough shooting day — so you can prepare for the unexpected, and leave space for opportunities to play.

Read: How to Plan an Effective Shooting Schedule

Let Your Budget Work For You!

If you’re a student or new to filmmaking, chances are your first big projects will have pretty limited funds. Even so, it’s important to make sure your budget will meet your main project goals — especially if you plan on having one or two expensive scenes that will impact viewers.

So what does budget have to do with making room for improvising? The better you are at planning according to your budget (and sticking to it), the more breathing room you’ll have during production.

In other words, staying on budget means the entire production will be more relaxed and focused because there’s room for emergencies, extra takes, etc. A rushed, stressful day with an entire team worrying about going over budget or not getting paid will certainly put a damper on things. The less pressure everyone feels while working, the more likely you or someone else will be comfortable enough to offer a fresh, creative idea on the spot — like Don Corleone’s cat in The Godfather.

Read: How to Get Big Production Value Out of a Little Budget

Take Breaks to Refresh Yourself & Your Team

Going with the idea of keeping your team fresh, there’s no better way than to plan for moments where you set the project aside and let your batteries recharge. On a union project breaks are mandated, but even student and non-union projects can benefit from this practice. Breaks can make a world of difference; just like that terrible essay or exam you rushed through due to being exhausted and anxious, your film’s quality will be affected by how strung out you let yourself become during production.

From fueling creativity to increasing work productivity, there are countless studies that convey the importance of taking breaks and practicing self care even in the midst of a hectic or high pressure situation — like working on a film set. Setting aside time for the crew to eat and relax, or an entire day where you can stop to do things you love, will have you coming back with refreshed energy, creativity, and stamina.

If you plan for breaks, taking a break won’t feel like a waste of time; it is a productive part of your schedule. You wouldn’t be the first filmmaker who has a brilliant idea or solves a problem during the time they set aside to NOT think about the project!

Apply Now for a Filmmaking Program

Read: How NOT To Make A Movie: 5 Tips Every Amateur Ignores

Ready to learn more about Filmmaking? Check out New York Film Academy’s degree, conservatory, and short-term Filmmaking programs.

Movie Marketing: Video Game Tie-Ins Done Well

Gaming tie-ins for movie franchises have existed for nearly as long as people have been playing video games. When done well, these media can blend to create a hybrid marketing approach that will reach a wide audience.

The most common and familiar method of video game marketing is the tie-in game, which is produced and sold after the movie is released. These range from straightforward console adventures to immersive MMO games like Lord of the Rings Online or the now-defunct Matrix game universe. Occasionally, these games go on to take a life of their own, becoming a franchise in their own right.

A more recent trend in video game film marketing is more creative and flexible: creating social games to entice casual gamers. Facebook games and smartphone apps reach a wider potential audience than console games, and they can generate a sort of viral marketing frenzy that any film marketer would be glad to launch.

Social games usually rely on player interaction to solve puzzles or complete basic adventures. When these games are designed around a film or television show, they can incorporate elements of the story into the game to pique the player’s attention and create a sense of investment. Because of the social element of casual gaming, these apps entice players to talk about the game and its associated film, which can generate much-needed word of mouth and marketing buzz. This effect is multiplied when the game requires a collaborative effort for fans to solve clues or puzzles related to the game.

Successful Video Game Marketing Campaigns

Recently, The Fast and the Furious 6: The Game has earned a healthy following of casual players. Other successful casual gaming franchises include the nine-week episodic Salt tie-in, Day X Exists, and Disney’s Tron-based social game. Television shows like Dexter and Spartacus have also employed the casual gaming strategy to keep fans engaged between seasons, and the console adaptation of The Walking Dead earned an incredible amount of critical acclaim.

Of course, there are some limitations to what these games can do for a film. For the most part, video game tie-ins of all kinds primarily attract dedicated fans. It’s unlikely that someone unfamiliar or uninterested in an upcoming film will seek out these games, and most of the hardcore player base will be made of people who had planned to see the film anyway.

Where the marketing potential comes is from the friends and acquaintances of these die-hard fans. As these people see their friend playing the game, they may develop some curiosity for the game itself or the world it’s set in. If nothing else, they’ll have some name recognition for the film when it’s released.

Tips for Creating a Promotional Game:

  • Keep the target audience of both the film and game in mind. Certain types of games appeal more to certain demographics in players, and it won’t help you to market a film to players who won’t be interested in watching it. Unlike console games, a large percentage of social gamers are women. Social gamers also span a wide age range.
  • Match the tone of the game to that of the film. You don’t want to misrepresent the film by creating a game that’s wildly different, even if the game itself is quite good. A fun, lighthearted social game will not generate the right audience for a gore-heavy action thriller.
  • Provide an ample budget for the game and find a good developer, ideally one who has graduated from game design school or at least has a lot of prior experience. If you can’t afford to make a high-quality marketing game, it’s best not to attempt it at all. A badly made or overly cheesy game runs a high risk of creating a negative image for your film before it even comes out, which can drive away viewers who might otherwise have been interested in the movie.
  • Whenever possible, reward players for following through at the box office. With mobile devices becoming increasingly popular gaming platforms, it’s easy to provide rewards to your players. Try incorporating a code that will unlock a bonus level or special perks and make that code available only to people who watch the film. Before the movie starts, have the code displayed for viewers to input on their phones, or enable the ability to text before or after the film to receive special perks.

Video game marketing is not the right strategy for every film, but it can be a very powerful tool when used correctly and aimed at the right audience. Putting some careful thought into the benefits and logistics of developing a tie-in game can lead to substantial rewards once the film has been released.

4 Online Organizational Tools Every Producer Needs

As wonderful as it is to watch a masterful film play out in the theatre or comfort of your home, rarely do audiences consider the weeks, months, and years of elaborate work it takes to produce. Usually, in the lengthy timeline of a film’s cycle from the final screenplay draft to the big screens, the person with the longest-running responsibility is the producer. It’s a widely known fact that producers play a vital role in bringing screenplays to fruition, but that’s not all; even after a film’s release, producers must keep on top of contract negotiations, revenue, and residuals, among other things. With so many responsibilities, it’s imperative for producers to stay organized, as they are essentially the highest-ranking project manager on a film. To support that all-important project management aspect of producing, here is a list of the best online organizational tools every producer needs:

StudioBinder

Cost: Scheduler – $19/month, Indie – $29/month, Professional – $49/month, Studio – $85/month

This software was made for the 21st century producer and filmmaker. It allows you to streamline your production management with an array of clever features, including contact management, stripboards, call sheet builder and monitoring, shooting schedules, and cloud storage. As well as providing interactive access for any team member to contribute — which is vital given that each film has so many contributors, many who are likely to be scattered around the world at different times — StudioBinder provides a modern, user-friendly interface that every beginner can navigate through with ease.

Yamdu

Cost: Development – $5/month, Academic – $9/month, Advanced – $49/month

A direct competitor of StudioBinder, this software has also tailored its features to suit the producer and filmmaker, also offers a financing and deliverables feature. Having the dedicated role of working out a budget and getting the film financed, every producer will need a budgeting and financing program at one point or another. Usually done on Excel spreadsheets, having an integrated program within Yamdu for your budget will make your life a whole lot easier.

Evernote

Cost: Basic – Free, Plus – $24.99/year, Premium – $49.99/year

Unlike the previous programs, Evernote isn’t targeted specifically to producers and filmmakers, but still offers some fantastic organizational tools. Some of its features include brainstorming whiteboards, checklists, meeting notes, reminders, and project-tracking timelines, to name a few. There’s more, too. Say you’ve just had a lunch meeting with the director — a creative, visually-driven individual, who likes to jot or draw things down on a napkin. With its multi-device syncing ability, Evernote allows you to take a photo of any notes or doodles and upload them right away on your smartphone. You can also record and upload audio and video for those great ideas that pop up at obscure moments.

Trello

Cost: Basic – Free, Business Class – $8.33/month/user, Enterprise – $20.83/year/user

This software is made for those who prefer visualizing the progress of a project. It uses a card-based layout for every idea, to which you can then make any changes or adjustments as you go, like adding notes or attaching files, categorizing, color-coding, or creating a task list. The simple, left-to-right format of the cards allows for a visual timeline to track the production process whilst also giving you the ability to sync other platforms like Google Drive into the app. It’s also collaborative and can sync to any device.

Learn more about film, television, and media production at the New York Film Academy.

How to Photograph Camera-Shy People

The advent of smartphones means more people are snapping photos every day. Whether it’s an endless supply of selfies or taking pics of friends and family, the average individual doesn’t mind stepping in front of the camera, but toss in a professional photographer and suddenly even the most photogenic of people can become uneasy. From bashful children to self-conscious adults, here are a few tips to have a successful shoot no matter how camera-shy your subject:

Do Your Part to Make Them Comfortable

It’s easy for a person to become shy if they’re not used to being photographed, or they don’t know the photographer. Since the entire shoot depends on the collaboration and relationship between you and your subject, it’s your job to make them feel relaxed enough to create the shot you are looking for. Form a connection with the person, just like you would with anyone else — by talking.

Get to know your subjects before you start shooting away in order to build a brief but important relationship, where you become more than just the guy or gal hitting the shutter button. That little bit of trust can make it much easier to direct poses, gain access, and help your subject feel at ease enough to look natural.

Pro tip: Break the ice by asking questions, finding a common interest to talk about, and communicating clearly throughout the shoot so that your subject feels relaxed, safe, and included in the process.

Keep Them Busy and Moving

For whatever reason, people being photographed are more likely to feel awkward when they’re standing still. Folks who love it in front of the camera have no trouble holding a pose for a while, but the same can’t be said for the rest of us. If your shy subject is looking stiff, keep them moving.

Since your camera shy subject is probably not a professional model, be prepared to offer suggestions, directions, and compliments throughout the shoot. You are the director as well as the photographer, and offering leadership in terms of movement and position can help an uneasy subject. Focusing on your orders will give them little time to worry about whether they look weird or not, especially if you’ve already built trust and established a rapport.

Pro tip: Though it might sound silly, asking your subject to do things like stretching and jumping can help them shake off nerves and get out of their heads.

Make Them Feel Awesome

Speaking of giving orders, make sure that’s not the only thing you’re doing — or else you’ll risk making the subject even more anxious. Offer positive feedback throughout the session so they get a boost of confidence. Even if you’re still searching for the shot, be sure to be vocal about what they’re doing that’s working.

Giving your subject complements outside of their poses and movement is also key. Again, you’re working on establishing a rapport, so finding positive ways to encourage your subject and pay them compliments — even if the compliments are not about photography.

Pro tip: Remind your camera shy subject that they are brave and bold and doing something unique and positive by stepping out of their comfort zone for your photo shoot!

Make it a Fun Experience

Even the most timid person can let loose when they’re having a genuinely good time. Having a sense of humor, staying relaxed, and keeping your sense of humor handy as the photographer works wonders when you want to create a pleasant photography environment.

Another idea that works great with both kids and adults is introducing props. Bring along some funny photo props so your subject can come out of their shell by being goofy and creative. Even camera shy people can ham it up for a photo with silly hats, masks, or costumes.

Also try playing music during the shoot, so your subjects don’t feel pressured to fill the silence. Music can also help set the mood for the shoot, so choose your playlist carefully — or invite your camera-shy subject to choose music that makes them feel comfortable!

Pro tip: If you’re not relaxed or having fun, your camera shy subject probably isn’t either. As the photographer, you can lead the way by having a good time, being considerate, and setting the mood for a professional and fun shoot.

Learn more about Photography at the New York Film Academy.

Filmmakers Whose Work Stands the Test of Time

There are occasionally filmmakers who break all barriers, whose work stands the test of time and continues to captivate audiences and critics even decades later. If you’re looking for a master class in original, timeless filmmaking, check out these filmmakers whose originality stands the test of time and offers experiences that are still relevant, riveting, and righteously entertaining.

Alfred Hitchcock

It’s impossible to have a list of enduring filmmakers without including Hitchcock. His silent film roots allowed him to innovate in the area of visual storytelling by mastering mise-en-scène, captivating use of music, and wise editing.

Hitchcock is perhaps best known for his innovative camera movement, and his knack for persuading audiences to feel as if they are a part of the story through the clever manipulation of perspective through close-ups, long takes, and more.

Click here to read more about why we think Hitchcock’s work will be enjoyed for years to come.

Timeless Hitchcock films to watch asap:

  • Notorious (1946)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • Psycho (1960)

Akira Kurosawa

Posthumously named “Asian of the Century” in in 1990 by AsianWeek, Kurosawa’s work did more than just put the Japanese film industry on the international map. His superb screenwriting abilities, dynamic style, and innovative techniques went on to influence all of Western cinema, including The Magnificent Seven, a reimagining of Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai. From Americans like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to fellow Asian filmmakers like Hayao Miyazaki and John Woo, countless notable filmmakers have expressed their admiration for Kurosawa’s cinematographic achievements.

Timeless Films

  • Rashomon (1950)
  • Ikiru (1952)
  • Seven Samurai (1954)
  • Kagemusha (1980)
  • Ran (1985)

Steven Spielberg

If there’s one reason Spielberg will be esteemed for ages to come, it’s for his versatility. From intense war stories and terrifying thrillers to adventure movies fun for the whole family, this man has probably done it all — and done it marvellously. While most directors find their niche and stay put, Spielberg’s storytelling prowess has been proven across an amazing range of genres while somehow still expressing his signature style. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love at least one film from this iconic director who, at the ripe age of 71 in of 2018, is still behind the camera.

Timeless Films

  • Jaws (1975)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Schindler’s List (1993)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Spike Lee

This African-American filmmaker began impressing critics and viewers alike with his first feature film “She’s Gotta Have It,” a comedy drama shot in two weeks with a budget of $175,000. When it grossed over $7 million in America, people knew Lee was something special. He has since then delivered several classics that have earned him numerous accolades over the years. Many of his projects are renowned for examining important issues such as race relations, urban poverty, and discrimination even among black communities.

Timeless Films

  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Malcolm X (1992)
  • The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)
  • 25th Hour (2002)
  • Inside Man (2006)

Stanley Kubrick

The late, great Kubrick made an impact on the film industry in a way few other directors have. His constant striving for perfection and mastery of the technical side of filmmaking allowed him to craft cinematic experiences that transcended genre and changed everything that followed. Along with working closely and intensely with his writers and performers, Kubrick was also known for requiring as many takes as it took in order to find what he called “the magic.”

Timeless Films

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Francis Ford Coppola


This American filmmaker is responsible for one of the most overwhelmingly praised trilogy of films ever to hit the big screen: The Godfather alone won nearly a dozen Oscars and is #2 in American Film Institute’s list of best American films. The trilogy’s influence inspired the creation of other notable gangster films such as Goodfellas and TV shows like The Sopranos.

Timeless Films

  • The Godfather (1972)
  • American Graffiti (1973)
  • The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Sofia Coppola

The daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia has emerged as one of the most talented female directors of all time. She was the first American woman to win Venice Film Festival’s top prize and receive a Best Director nomination at the 2003 Academy Awards, while also serving as the second woman to win best director at Cannes Film Festival. Her Oscar-winning Lost in Translation a great starting point for film fans to witness Coppola’s impressive ability to balance humor and drama.

Timeless Films

  • The Virgin Suicides (1999)
  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • Marie Antoinette (2006)
  • The Bling Ring (2013)
  • The Beguiled (2017)

Orson Welles

What’s there to say about Welles that hasn’t been said before? The legendary director changed the game with Citizen Kane, a film ranked by many as the best of all time. The 1941 drama went on to influence even the most prominent directors with its nonlinear storytelling, powerful use of themes and motifs, and phenomenal cinematography. Welles would go on to direct several more films, many of which are also worthy of viewing almost a century later.

Timeless Films

  • Citizen Kane (1941)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
  • Touch Of Evil (1958)
  • Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Up-and-Coming Timeless Filmmakers

Christopher Nolan

Still arguably near the beginning of his illustrious career, Nolan came into prominence at the turn of the millenium with Following, a neo-noir crime thriller he funded personally. Since then, the English filmmaker has made a name for himself by producing hit after hit, making him one of the highest-grossing directors of all time. His use of nonlinear storytelling and enticing themes surrounding human morality and identity have allowed him to create films that will likely be watched in film classes for a long time.

Timeless Films

  • Memento (2000)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Dunkirk (2017)

Catherine Hardwicke

Hardwicke got her start in the business as a production designer, where she was able to study the techniques of skilled directors like Cameron Crowe. She first proved her own directing talents with 2003’s Thirteen, which won six awards and nearly a dozen nominations. Highly successful films like Twilight and The Nativity Story have only helped cement Hardwicke’s legacy as one of the best female directors of all time.

Timeless Films

  • Thirteen (2003)
  • Lords of Dogtown (2005)
  • The Nativity Story (2006)
  • Twilight (2008)
  • Red Riding Hood (2011)

Ava DuVernay

Leading the new generation of great African American filmmakers is DuVernay, who in less than two decades has already made a name for herself behind the camera. This includes being the first black woman to win the Sundance Film Festival’s directing award. She is also the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Golden Golden Globe award and Academy Award for Best Picture. With so many accomplishments at the ripe age of 45, we’re confident that DuVernay’s best work is yet to come.

Timeless Films

  • Saturday Night Life (2006)
  • I Will Follow (2010)
  • Middle of Nowhere (2012)
  • Selma (2014)
  • 13th (2016)

What other directors would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below, and learn more about Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

 

The 5 Best Film Podcasts to Listen to in 2018

Podcasts have been popular for quite some time, and statistics show that the popularity of podcasts isn’t slowing down any time soon. According to Nielsen in 2017, 15 percent of Americans listened to podcasts weekly — up from 13 percent in 2016!

Most podcasts are free, and there are several apps that you can use to subscribe and access your faves across all platforms — whether you are using a tablet, laptop, or mobile device.

There are so many topics available through podcasts. The list is endless, and it can be hard to find the right one for you. If you love films, screenwriting, or entertainment and Hollywood in general, we have compiled a list of five of the very best podcasts to listen to this year. We did all the hard work, so it’s time to kick back, relax, and listen to some podcasts.

The Backlot

Did you know that the New York Film Academy has its own podcast series?

NYFA’s The Backlot will inspire you by providing the artistic vision and technical knowledge that you need to have to be successful in filmmaking.

The weekly podcast features a different guest who will share knowledge, provide valuable advice, and discuss varying perspectives that relate to the world of filmmaking.      

Listen to The Backlot here.

Scandalously

If you are looking for a podcast series that offers honest movie reviews, listen to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s British podcast, Scandalously.

The series airs Friday afternoons on Radio 5Live — if you are busy at work and can’t listen to it live, you can listen to it later. Kermode and Mayo discuss each week’s new releases and provide quality movie commentary.

Listen to Scandalously here.

The Faculty of Horror

Are you an avid fan of horror movies? If you love the genre, Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West’s podcast series, The Faculty of Horror, is just for you. Subissati and West analyze the creepy classics, what makes horror films tick, and what society has to say about horror films.

Listen to The Faculty of Horror here.  

You Must Remember This


If you are ever in the mood to reminisce about the crimes of Tinsel Town, take a listen to You Must Remember This.

Host Karina Longworth delves into Hollywood’s history and focuses on crimes like the murder of Johnny Stompanato, boyfriend of femme fatale Lana Turner.

Listen to You Must Remember This here.

How Did This Get Made?


Have you ever watched a movie and wondered how it ever got greenlit?

The podcast discusses cult classics like Nicolas Cage’s The Wicker Man, and the components that take a movie bad or make it great. Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas bring you the results of some of the most famous movie bombs in this podcast series.

Listen to How Did This Get Made? here.   

Have you listened to any of these podcasts? We would love to hear what you think about them! Do you have a favorite podcast that didn’t make our list? Sound off below!

Trends in Journalism to Watch Out for in 2018

Innovations, whether you’re talking about television or the internet, have continued to change how the average person discovers news. And no matter where you look, technology still doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Here are the four biggest journalism trends this year that we consider to be at the top of the list:

Offline But Not Disconnected


There’s no denying the power the internet has when it comes to keeping people informed and connected. In this day and age, it’s far more likely to learn about a current event via a WiFi-connected mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. Tech companies everywhere are enjoying the benefit of features such as push notifications that keep their readers engaged and wary of their latest information.

But what about when they can’t count on their internet connection? Sooner or later, people find themselves in an area or building where Wi-Fi either doesn’t work or runs too slow. According to The Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2017, apps are making a comeback, which means we are seeing news organizations putting more focus on their offline content in order to keep consumers with unreliable internet happy.

Podcasts Continue Their Rise

Journalists and media companies know full well that text and video alone are not enough these days. Many consumers find themselves preferring content that they don’t have to read or see — all you need is a pair of ears. Much like the times of old when radios were the go-to place for news, plenty of folks today want audio news sources they can listen to while driving, working, etc.

In another survey done by Reuters Institute involving 194 leading editors, digital leaders, and CEOs, it was discovered that 58 percent of publishers plan to focus more on podcasts. The same amount will also put more effort into creating content for voice activated speakers.

More Focus on Social Media, but not Everywhere

Even a decade ago when MySpace ruled the social networking world, few could have predicted the power of social media sites in the hands of journalists. More people than ever —  especially in U.S. — prefer taking to Twitter and Facebook to get their news for the day. According to the Reuters Institute survey, the number of American that prefer social media for news has doubled since 2013.

However, trends aren’t quite going the same way elsewhere. Across all the countries surveyed, only about a third of people between the ages of 18 and 24 have social media as #1 on their list. While growth has ceased in the United Kingdom, places like Italy, Brazil, Australia and Portugal are actually seeing a decline.

A Push for Artificial Intelligence

When most people think about artificial intelligence (AI) they imagine robots that can help us with our daily chores before inevitably turning against us once Skynet becomes self-aware. While not as exciting as our favorite sci-fi movies, the use of artificial intelligence in the journalism industry is expected to make a big impact soon. This is why 72 percent of of the top digital leaders and editors plan to start experimenting with AI.

Why would journalists have need for artificial intelligence? According to surveys, 59 percent think AI can improve content recommendations while also detecting intentional media bias. Other uses include using AI. to help automate workflows, improve commercial optimisation, and help journalists find stories.

What are your predictions for the next biggest trends in journalism? Let us know in the comments below, and learn more about broadcast journalism at New York Film Academy.

 

Photography Studios to Follow: Social Media Roundup

When it comes to artistic practice, every creative professional knows that staying true to your own style is pivotal in not only transforming your individual works into a brand but also maintaining artistic integrity. That said, perfecting your photography is rarely done without external influences and drawing inspiration from other photographers, so keeping an eye on current studio trends is always important — not to mention that it can give you some great ideas for your next shoot! So here is a roundup of some of the most influential photography studios to follow on social media:

Acme Brooklyn


Instagram: @acmebrooklyn

Twitter: @ACMEBrooklyn

Facebook: @AcmeBrooklyn

ACME Brooklyn is comprised of ACME Studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and ACME Props in Bushwick, Brooklyn. They offer studio space for rent as well as a prop house with a unique collection of props, furniture, and flats. As well as a 4,000 square foot studio with easy access via a private loading dock, the studio also offers a hair and makeup vanity and stylist area.

Milk Studios


Instagram: @milk

Twitter: @MilkStudios

Facebook: @MilkStudiosNY

According to their lively Instagram feed, “Milk is a culturally conscious company built to enable creative expression and collaboration.” Besides the incredible projects from music videos to modelling shoots, Milk invites participation. In March 2018, they launched a celebration of their community with a virtual road trip under the hashtag #GenderDiaries, asking people to submit their own gender photos. Along with studios for rent in both Los Angeles and New York, Milk also offers event production services internationally and hosts exhibitions at their own gallery in Manhattan.  

Root Studios

Instagram: @rootstudios

Twitter: @RootStudios

Facebook: @ROOT.NYC.BKN

Root Studios are a premier photo house offering studio space, equipment, events, digital, motion, creative production and rentals. Their main studio is located in the heart of New York City’s Gallery District with a full equipment room and digital capture services. Their newest addition in Brooklyn, NYC also offers four pristine rental spaces with all of the Manhattan style amenities.

Smashbox Studios


Instagram: @smashboxstudios

Twitter: @smashboxstudios

Facebook: @SmashboxStudios

Founded in 1991 by Dean and Davis Factor, the great grandsons of makeup artist Max Factor, Smashbox has earned a reputation among the industry as a hub for world class photographers and directors who produce content for major magazines, music and entertainment projects, and ad campaigns. Along with their global cosmetics brand, Smashbox Cosmetics, the innovative brothers have created iconic spaces within their two locations – having five studios in their LA space and one in Brooklyn, NYC, totaling 25,000 square feet.

FD Photo Studio

Instagram: @fdphotostudio

Twitter: @FDPhotoStudio

Facebook: @FDPhotoStudio

FD Photo Studio offers 23 stages totaling 36,000 square feet in one LA studio. Their point of difference lies in their competitive prices for rental space whilst specializing in producing high quality content around fashion and beauty, headshots, and ad campaigns. They also host events for photographers as well as offering high-end retouching on client projects.

Magnum Photos

Instagram: @magnumphotos

Twitter: @MagnumPhotos

Facebook: @MagnumPhotos

More of a photographer’s cooperative insofar as the collective works of photographers than a studio per se, this alliance was founded in 1947 by four pioneering photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, and David Seymour. Magnum represents many of the world’s most prestigious photographers and maintains its founding ideals with a mix of journalist, artist, and storyteller. With a vast international client base of media, charities, publishers and brands, it’s been providing content for almost 70 years that chronicles world events, people, culture, and places that redefines history. According to their website, “when you picture an iconic image, but can’t think who took it or where it can be found, it probably came from Magnum.”

Ready to learn more about photography? Check out our program offerings at the Photography School at New York Film Academy.

The 7 Coolest Virtual Reality Experiences in the World

As far back as the invention of the computer, imaginative scientists and lay people alike have fantasized about the potential that technology could empower us to travel through and perhaps one day live within computer-generated environments, virtual worlds that fulfill our perceptions and senses, resulting in an immersive and life-like experience. Today, many incredible virtual reality experiences exist that anyone can explore — while many more VR experiences are yet to be made!

Whether it’s from the comfort of your own room or in a specially designed warehouse, here are some of the most impressive virtual reality experiences you can try out today.

Madame Tussauds Ghostbusters Experience

New York City is the place to go if you want to take on one of the most exciting virtual reality adventures on the globe.

Wearing high-end VR headsets and while wielding their own actual proton pack, participants at Madame Tussauds Ghostbusters Experience enter elaborate rooms designed to replicate actual places from the Ghostbusters universe. You’ll sense being touched by ghosts, explore haunted versions of famous NYC locations, and blast away evil spirits in an experience that has been praised by critics from Time to Forbes.

Zombie Survival at Zero Latency VR Arena

With the walking undead a major theme in so many popular movies and games in the last decade alone, you may think you’ve had enough of zombies — but  Zero Latency’s Zombie Survival VR experience can change your mind. The most immersive zombie outbreak game in the world, Zombie Survival is a VR experience where you’re placed inside a giant warehouse with a gun in your hand and plenty of hungry corpses to blast way. Zero Latency allows groups of up to eight people to join the free-roam zombie scenario together, and visitors can also check out other games, including sci-fi shooter Singularity.

Batman Arkham VR

Who hasn’t imagined what it would be like to be the Caped Crusader? In Batman: Arkham VR, players can actually live out what it’s like to become the man behind the mask as they interact with vividly detailed environments, all made by the creators of the iconic Arkham game trilogy.

In this thrilling VR experience, the story’s focus is on Batman’s exceptional detective skills. Just like Bruce Wayne, players can use a number of fascinating gadgets to search for clues and interact with the gorgeously sombre city of Gotham, all while coming face to face with some of Batman’s seminal friends and foes.

YouTube Virtual Reality

It makes sense that the world’s favorite video-sharing website offers one of the best and most diverse VR experiences out there, if you have your own equipment to plug in (or can nab some extra time at your NYFA VR program’s lab!).

Check out YouTube’s official VR channel to access tons of 360° videos that work on just about any VR and mobile device. You can explore the oceans of Australia, get a taste of what it’s like to fly a military aircraft, feel like you’re at your favorite artist’s concert, and much, much more.

IMAX VR

Everyone knows that IMAX is one of the best ways to enjoy a movie, so just imagine an IMAX VR experience!

At an IMAX VR Experience Centre, viewers not only enjoy incredible, crisp visuals, but also 360° sound that transports you to other worlds like nothing else can. IMAX has partnered with top producers to provide experiences ranging from an action-packed adventure with the Justice League to a mystical experience as a tree going through its various stages of life. Check out the official Imax VR page to see what’s near you.

Google Earth VR

It’s been more than a decade since Google Maps originally launched and changed the way we think of place with its innovative 360° panoramic views. Nowadays, Google Earth VR allows you to take your directional curiosity for real images of our home planet a step further. From the cathedrals of Florence and the ruins of Rome to Switzerland’s majestic Matterhorn, Google Earth VR allows you to take a breathtaking look at the places you’ve always longed to see.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

The average gamer doesn’t need to be introduced to Resident Evil, one of the longest running horror series in the industry that’s tense enough to freak you out while playing on a regular TV. Of course, those brave enough to try the game on a PS VR headset are in for an exhilarating gaming experience like never before, as they explore a creepy mansion inhabited by a sadistic family of cannibals.

What are your favorite VR experiences? Let us know in the comments below! And learn to create your own VR content at New York Film Academy.

How to Network in the Film Production World

In reference to leaving his day job and surrounding himself with other filmmakers to perfect his craft, the great Tarantino once said, “if you run the hundred-yard dash with people much faster than you, yeah you might come last, but your time will be better than winning against slower competition.” Producing a film is far from a solitary feat and the ability to learn from others is a basic, albeit critical, part of improvement. So, what better way to increase your chances of success in an industry that practically invented the saying “it’s all about who you know”, than networking?

Here are a few tips on how to get started:

Social Media

Just as instinctive as it may be to utilize a dance studio to learn how to dance, one should similarly consider social networking sites for – as the name suggests – networking. When even the most introverted of all introverts is merely a click, swipe, and/or double-tap away from deep-diving into the biggest room full of people: otherwise known as the Internet, ‘tis indeed a great time to be alive.

Sites like LinkedIn are a sure-fire way to get connected to those who share your professional interests, but there are some other lesser-known networking sites specifically catered to professionals in film and media. Sites like Shooting People share similarities with LinkedIn, whereby users’ profiles are more like extensive portfolios; but unlike the latter, they have a strong emphasis on collaboration and allow users to work on one another’s projects. Similarly, Movidiam and Mandy.com cater specifically to those in film and media and also provide a great platform for finding work.

That said, don’t underestimate the connective power of mainstream sites like Facebook. Joining industry-specific groups is key. Not only will these groups give you access to a supportive community of fellow producers and filmmakers to learn from, but once you turn your event notifications on, it’s on!

Events

Social media might allow for reach and immediacy, but there’s a real gravitas in the connection between human beings in the flesh that cannot possibly be translated or outweighed by virtual alternatives. However, using social media to get you these face-to-face meetings is crucial. Once you’re following key industry people and are part of several online communities, invitations to industry events are going to be commonplace. Use this! Do as successful producer Jane Applegate does and “…attend as many mixers and workshops as possible” – something she swears by when prompted on the value of networking.

Intern, Volunteer, and Gain Experience

Find production companies, film festivals, and film shoots that will accept interns or volunteers. Do what you can — run errands, grab coffee, anything. Exposing yourself to every bit of the filmmaking process in live action will only increase your knowledge on producing films in the real world; whilst offering valuable industry connections and great career prospects.

Make Friends

Networking differs from the act of making friends in that its main purpose is to increase your arsenal for career advancement. The act of making friends, however, has a genuine intention behind it and something rarely synonymous with the entertainment industry – longevity. Authentic connections between likeminded people can stand the test of time and be of great benefit to all parties involved. Take advantage of being a student at NYFA where you’re constantly surrounded by others who share your passion for film and reach out to classmates. You never know, the friends you make in class may just be the same ones standing beside you on the stage as you give your Oscars speech.

Listen. Be Humble. Be Kind.

None of the aforementioned strategies will ever be of use to you without practicing these throughout:

Listen – people are most susceptible to giving their best if they feel they’re being heard. Listening to others will only ever open your mind up to more opportunities.

Be humble – as Socrates says, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Everyone can teach you something if you’re open to it.

Be kind – positivity breeds positivity and people react accordingly. The best way to create an atmosphere you can prosper in is to give what you wish to receive. Plus, it just feels good to be kind!

So, go forth with these in mind and you’re bound for success. Happy networking!

Video Games that Successfully Made the Jump from Movie to Game

Whether it’s due to rushed development times or not enough creative freedom, games based on movies rarely become the talk of the industry. Once in a while, however, a tie-in game will not only exceed expectations, but even transcend genre to inspire the rest of the industry.

If you’re convinced that all games that make the jump from movies aren’t worth playing, these may convince you otherwise:

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

It’s hard to believe that Peter Jackson’s fantasy adventures, which include some of the most ambitious and groundbreaking films of all time, were released almost 15 years ago. The legendary trilogy made The Lord of the Rings a hot license again, convincing various developers in the last two decades to create games set in Middle-Earth.

Atop the many excellent titles based on Tolkien’s world is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by Stormfront Studios. Players can fight and explore their way through some of the most memorable battles and locations from the first two films. The gameplay is addicting, the settings were faithful to the movies, and, best of all, you could play as the three coolest characters: Aragorn, Gimli, or Legolas.

Goldeneye 007

The world had already experienced 16 other films in the James Bond universe by the time GoldenEye released in 1995, but this film was the first to star Pierce Brosnan as the famous Secret Service agent, and it broke a six-year hiatus for the series. The film was met with mostly positive reviews, but perhaps its greatest achievement was inspiring one of the best video games of all time.

GoldenEye 007 released in 1997 for the Nintendo 64 and is considered one of the most important games in the industry. It’s revolutionary first-person shooter gameplay, story-driven campaign, and fun multiplayer influenced some of the biggest series today. Rare’s masterpiece is what the developers of classics like Call of Duty, Halo and other popular shooters studied endlessly.

Several Star Wars Games

The iconic space saga has been a part of the video game industry almost as long as the original film trilogy itself. As one of the most celebrated franchises out there, it’s no surprise that it has inspired more than 100 games. Although not every title has lived up to the name, there are a number of Star Wars games that every fan should play.

One of them is Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic, an RPG that lets players feel like they’re part of a story set when the Jedi Knights were at their strongest. Gamers who love the fast-paced air combat in the films can check out Rogue Squadron II to jump into the cockpit of classic ships. For a shooting experience similar to Call of Duty, the Battlefront series is the way to go.

Spider-Man 2

In a time when we get at least three big budget movies a year based on Marvel Comics alone, it’s easy to forget about the original films that helped kickstart the superhero craze. A lot of credit goes to the original Spider-Man trilogy by Sam Raimi. The second installment, which is considered the best of the three, got its own action tie-in game that people love to this day.

Developed by Treyarch, a veteran studio now known for their Call of Duty games, Spider-Man 2 released in 2004 to immediate acclaim. Never before could players swing so seamlessly across an expansive city setting while using Web-Head’s famous moves. If there’s one game the devs behind the upcoming new Spider-Man should look to for inspiration, it’s this one.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

The Chronicles of Riddick is one of those movies that bombed at the box office but somehow did very well with its DVD release. Despite getting bashed by critics and earning Vin Diesel a Razzie Award nomination, the film, along with its tie-in game, gained a very loyal and very large cult following.

Escape from Butcher Bay surprised everyone, featuring excellent action and stealth mechanics along with great visuals for the time. The voice acting, which featured performances by the actual film actors, was also highly praised. The game earned various awards and accolades, including several Game of the Year nominations.

6 Tips On How to Sell Your Screenplay

You’ve sacrificed countless hours of your social life and mental stability, poured your blood and sweat out onto the pages, and — let’s be real here — questioned your creativity and, henceforth, your life choices almost every day up to this point. You know a script needs multiple drafts to be considered ready to go out into the world; no one who is successful is sending first drafts of their scripts to festivals or competitions. Ultimately, one great script is worth more than a million mediocre scripts. So, you have put in the work.

You’ve rewritten, revised, reviewed, gathered feedback, and revised again — and again. And again. But finally, you’ve done it; your screenplay is ready. The sense of accomplishment and pride is akin to the love parents experience after witnessing the birth of their first child; a laborious creation like the proverbial phoenix out of the ashes.

But then comes the daunting task of getting your screenplay out to the masses.

With over a hundred thousand scripts going into the system each year and about 300 films getting made — only about 10 of those coming from first-time writers — the odds can feel intimidating. That said, it’s all about the numbers, meaning that the more you get your screenplay out there, the higher the chances are of it being seen.

After you’ve written several drafts of the script and you’re sure it’s ready to submit as a showcase piece, consider these 6 tips on how to get started with selling your screenplay:

Don’t Sell Your Screenplay

This may sound completely contradictory, but when it comes to selling a spec script — work that isn’t commissioned or solicited — rather than industry players purchasing it right away, the chances of them considering the script as a resume for you is far more likely.

Put simply, your spec script should be used to showcase you as a screenwriter in order to build a career writing other scripts that are paid for by studios. Rather than working to sell your screenplay, sell yourself.

Bear in mind that even if an executive likes your script the inevitable question becomes, “what else you got?” You have to be able to answer with another script or at least a detailed pitch. So never stop writing.

Focus on nurturing your craft. Selling your screenplay is one transaction: building a career can take a lifetime of dedication. You have to continue to work, improve, revise, and adapt to navigate the industry. Writers need to write consistently to get better over time, and the better your writing becomes, the more likely your chance to sell something or, even more importantly, build a lasting and fruitful career.

Contests can also be a place where you can make connections leading to representation and opportunities to get your showcase script read by executives. For example, check out the Austin Film Festival, where a few of our students have been invited after submitting their scripts.

Make a Short for Your Movie

Now, whether you intend on using your script as a resume or a masterpiece in its own right, you still have to advertise it in its most polished and perfected form to get noticed. Making a short film from your screenplay is becoming the most powerful calling card to be seen. It may seem tough to condense an entire screenplay into a short, but it’s an important skill to master. If you can do a short, you can put it up on a website like scripts.com – this is where sales agents look for really great short movies that often come from feature-length scripts. YouTube and Vimeo are also great platforms for you to use to garner exposure.

Contests

Finishing well in a competition immediately increases the chances of your work being read. Not only does it help your credibility as a screenwriter and raise your profile, but the majority of competitions also offer cash prizes — so why not enter as many competitions as possible? There are numerous competitions happening every year from major players like the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards to lesser-known, yet just as important, ones like the Final Draft Big Break Contest. So enter away!

Query Letter or Email

This is as basic and as critical as it gets. A query letter/email outlines who you are and what your script is about, and is sent to studios, agents, and managers. It may sound simple, but a good query letter and email plan requires lots of patience and persistence, as established industry contacts leave little room to hear from unknown writers (although managers are a little more open to nurturing new talent). Regardless, exhausting all your options in establishing connections with the gatekeepers will increase your chances of being represented and create exposure for your screenplay. This is also where having your short film will help immensely. Busy and important people rarely have time to sit and read through an entire script from an unknown, so on top of your brief plot summary within the query, including a link to a finished short film is extra helpful.

Pitchfests

Just what it sounds like, a pitchfest is a conference of sorts where industry insiders gather to share their knowledge and scout potential new talent. The key for budding screenwriters is to attend these events not only focused on the sole objective of selling a screenplay, but also building a network of contacts and receiving valuable feedback. Pitchfests also offer you the perfect platform to hone your pitching skills, as it’s something you’re going to need to get good at in the industry. Go in there with your perfected pitch, always ask for feedback, and don’t forget to follow up with a “thank you” after the day!

Listing Services

There are a significant number of websites offering a directory for industry people looking for screenplays. Sites like The Black List, Spec Scout, and The Tracking Board (among many others) give you a paid platform to advertise your work directly to industry buyers, as well as the opportunity to get feedback on your work.

As intimidating as it may seem as a first-time screenwriter selling a script, don’t forget that groundbreaking films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Back To The Future” were among many genius screenplays that got repeatedly rejected to begin with. The common denominator in all those cases was the unwavering passion the screenwriters had about their work, and the persistence to get their work noticed. So never give up!

How To Find Your Acting Mentor

Current “it man” of acting, Michael B. Jordan, said of his mentors, Forest Whitaker, Ben Affleck, and Oprah, “As an actor, a solo mission doesn’t really happen that often … somebody that’s been through it before that’ll reach back and give you some sound advice is so valuable … and I’ve been pretty lucky to have some good people.”

Jordan is a great example of how having a mentor, in what is easily the most competitive business in the world, can be an incredible resource, perhaps even helping aspiring actors navigate from waiting tables and getting a big break. So, here are some helpful tips on how to go about finding your own acting mentor:

Connect with your teachers.

The advantage of being in NYFA’s Acting for Film School is that you already have access to a vast number of skilled instructors who are active in the industry and who are there to guide you through the ins-and-outs of what to expect in the “real world.” NYFA’s professional faculty provide their students with exceptional training, and students have the opportunity for additional guidance through private consultations with their instructors.     

Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm, so every teacher is at their best when their students are eager to learn. Always be present, don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as possible, sign up for extra workshops, and make sure to stay in touch with your teachers beyond graduation.

Reach for the stars.

‘90s singer and songwriter Lisa Loeb, most known for her number one hit song Stay from the classic film Reality Bites (1994), got that gig with just a little faith and a lot of courage. She lived next door to the star of the film, Ethan Hawke, and took the incentive to hand him her demo tape — which Hawke then passed on to director Ben Stiller. Now, this may deviate a little from the narrative of budding actors finding acting mentors, but it’s a great example of how simply asking can go a long way. Make a list of your heroes, do a little bit of research, and find out what events they may be attending next — Q&A’s and discussion panels are ideal. Prepare the most compelling question(s) for them. You might even consider asking your hero to be your mentor!

Anything is possible, so long as you try.

Network

Networking isn’t just about building contacts to find work, but is also a great way to find people even just a few steps ahead of you to learn from. Attend acting workshops, conferences, screenings, join an improv group, and use social media to your advantage. Facebook has an infinite number of groups you can join, and you’ll be sure to find multiple mentors on discussion boards alone.

Read Books

The next best thing to being mentored in person by your heroes, is being mentored through a book. Whether it’s an autobiography like Bossypants, by Tina Fey, or more along the lines of a step-by-step guide like Sanford Meisner on Acting, every actor can improve their craft with the pearls of wisdom in the pages. The best part about this is there’s no security, agent, or even time getting in the way of you and your mentor.

The main takeaway from all of these points is that as a mentee, to be successful, the key is to always be open to learning and to never stop asking.  

Cannes 2018: Four Things Everyone is Talking About

We’re fast approaching the 71st edition of the Festival de Cannes, which will be held from May 8-19 in the beautiful resort town in France. Cannes is renowned for shining more light on international films, attracting big names, and only allowing a select few to compete for the top prize. Here are the four topics creating the most buzz around this year’s festival.

Women in Cannes

Cannes prefers keeping their list of films competing for the coveted Palme d’Or to a minimum. This year, directors from all over the globe will be represented among the 17 films that made the lineup. However, the number of female directors represented in the competition at Cannes will be the same as this year: three. They are:

  • Eva Husson (Girls of the Sun)
  • Nadine Labaki (Capernaum)
  • Alice Rohrwacher (Lazzaro Felice)

As one of the most important film events next to the Academy Awards, many industry figures have expressed a desire for Cannes to do a better job of including female filmmakers.

According to festival director Thierry Frémaux, the reason for the low number of female directors is due to wider issues in the industry — mainly a lack of women directors in general. According to the 2017 Celluloid Ceiling report on the top 100 films, only 11% directors were women.

Interestingly enough, this year’s festival jury — headed by Cate Blanchett — will include more women than men.

Impressive Veteran & Debut Films

Some of the biggest names in the industry are set to show off their latest projects at Cannes 2018.

French film legend Jean Luc-Godard, who has never won the Palme d’Or despite having seven of his previous films entered, will compete again with Le Livre d’Image. Spike Lee is aiming to win with his upcoming crime drama BlacKkKlansman. Another American, indie favorite David Robert Mitchell, competes for the first time with Under the Silver Lake.

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, a love story set during the tense period after World War II, is also set to debut at the festival. Other anticipated special screenings include Wim Wenders’ Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, and upcoming blockbuster Solo: A Star Wars Story by Ron Howard (which will not be competing for the main prize).

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a project Terry Gilliam began almost 20 years ago, will have its world premiere this year.

Diverse Filmmakers From Around The Globe

One of the best things about the Cannes Film Festival is the diversity of filmmakers who range from various homelands.

Egypt’s A.B. Shawky and Japan’s Ryûsuke Hamaguchi will be joining the Palme D’Or race with their respective films Yomeddine and Netemo Sametemo (Asako I & II). Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki is in the run with Capernaum alongside China’s Jia Zhangke with A Touch of Sin. South Korean director Yoon Jong-bing didn’t make the competition lineup but will have his thriller The Spy Gone North get a midnight screening.

Two directors currently at odds with their home governments also made it into the main films selection. Iranian film director Jafar Panahi, who will have his drama film Three Faces featured at the festival, is currently banned from leaving his country. Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov will also not get to see his Soviet rock drama Leto screen at Cannes, due to being under house arrest since 2010.

The Netflix Battle

If there’s one topic surrounding Cannes 2018 that people are talking about the most, it’s probably the standoff between the festival and film streaming giant Netflix. Although festival director Thierry Frémaux claims they’re more than welcome in Cannes, Netflix didn’t appreciate the ruling that only films receiving a theatrical release are eligible to compete for prizes. In response to the Cannes ruling, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos made the decision to exclude all their films from screening at Cannes.

Netflix also removed The Other Side of the Wind, an unfinished film by industry legend Orson Welles, from the Out of Competition section of Cannes — despite being eligible to screen with the new rule.

Other films that Cannes goers will miss out on due to the theatrical release rule include Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark, Paul Greengrass’ Norway, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, and a documentary by Morgan Neville called They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.

What are you most looking forward to in Cannes 2018? Let us know in the comments below!

Racial Inclusion – or the Lack Thereof – in Mainstream Media

By Jennifer Betit Yen, President of Asian American Film Lab

Inclusion and diversity have been trending in Hollywood, yet we are — or should I say we remain? — in an inclusion crisis.

Statistics about racial inclusion in film have remained stagnant since 2007, meaning that despite more light being shed on the issue through headlines, social media, and discussion, little real or consistent progress has been made over the past decade. Black Panther aside, we are still seeing a larger story that it is not an easy time to be an American actor or filmmaker of color. Frankly, there’s never really been a good time.

To put this in perspective, The Hollywood Diversity 2018 report states that only 1.4 out of every 10 leading actors are people of color. And USC Annenberg’s 2017 report on diversity the top 900 films shows the sad difference between diversity in the real world compared to the current state of representation in Hollywood:

  •      29.2% of all characters were from minority racial/ethnic groups, compared to 38.7% of the actual U.S. population coming from minority racial/ethnic groups.
  •      Despite the low number of minority characters in the top 900 films, 49% of the movie-going public who went to see these films come from minority racial/ethnic groups.

Clearly, these numbers are just not adding up.

And it’s not better behind-the-scenes: Annenberg found that there were only 30 Asian directors in all 900 films — and only two of those directors were women.       

From problematic classics such as The Good Earth and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where white actors played Asian characters, to recent major films that have made the problematic choices of casting white stars to play minority characters, actors and filmmakers of color are often shocked and confused by the choice to whitewash minority characters.[1] Strangely, as the population of Asian Americans in the United States has increased, our representation on TV and in film has decreased — the only racial group this was reported as happening to.

Yet study after study shows that, actually, diversely cast films and shows make far more money than homogenous shows. Yes! It’s true! Audiences are demanding diversity.

In an article in The New York Times, one journalist put it quite succinctly, saying, “Economics has nothing to do with racist casting policies. Films in which the leads have been whitewashed have all failed mightily at the box office. Inserting white leads had no demonstrable effect on [increasing] the numbers. So why is that still conventional thinking in Hollywood? For years, audiences have essentially boycotted these films, yet studios keep making them.”

Change is coming, though, and it’s coming from independent filmmakers who work outside of the Hollywood system to create original, diverse, and authentic films — and that’s why I work with the Film Lab. That’s why the Film Lab[2] is here. We create and produce our own content. We encourage our members to create and produce their own content. Content that is bold. Content that is innovative. Content that is — wait for it — diverse. Through the 72 Hour Shootout, an annual global filmmaking competition that gets winning filmmakers network mentorships, exposure and more, and with our incredible sponsors, we provide our filmmakers with platforms on which to exhibit and disseminate that content to a wide range of audiences –not just one homogenous ethnic group, but all audiences.

As U.S. women’s national soccer player Alex Morgan (who, coincidentally, was part of a wage discrimination lawsuit demanding equal pay for equal work) has said, “It’s all about learning to create your own success.” Alex Morgan is one of five players who brought a wage discrimination complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation, as reported by Health Magazine (June 2016).

By making diverse films, we empower ourselves and, by extension, all of us. And by “us,” I don’t just mean Asian Americans. I mean Latinos. I mean African Americans. I mean Native Americans. I mean LGBT. I mean women. I mean men. I mean all of us. #ActionUnites

You know the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them” right? Well, the economics show we can beat the inclusion crisis. The changing face of the entertainment media landscape shows we can beat the inclusion crisis. And the rise of diverse America shows we will beat the inclusion crisis.

We will make our own content and we will support other diverse content. And we will not support content from Hollywood in which Asian American and other diverse faces, characters, voices, and stories are excluded.

As rising filmmakers and storytellers, I encourage you to work hard to tell your story, raise your voice and show your face. So, go on. To the filmmakers out there with the tenacity, the passion, the power, and the talent: carpe diem!

***

Jennifer Betit Yen is the President of the Film Lab, a 501c3 dedicated to the promotion and support of gender and ethnic diversity in mainstream media.  She is also an actor (Search Party, Royal Pains, Film Lab Presents, The Beacon Street Girls), writer (The Opposite of a Fairy Tale) and producer (La La Land, My Not So subConscious, The Opposite of a Fairy Tale, Mirror Mirror). She has received mentions by The New York Times and Backstage Magazine, among others, for her work as an actor. Her film The Opposite of a Fairy Tale, a fictional take on elder abuse, sold out at MOCA and was an official selection of the 39th Annual Asian American International Film Festival, the Palm Springs Desert Film Society, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation NY Shorts Showcase, at the NYC Conference on Elder Abuse, at WOMANKIND, screened at HBO, and was licensed by the City of New York.  A graduate of Cornell University, and Boston University School of Law, Jen authors the blog Ethical is Beautiful.  Be Beautiful (www.EthicalIsBeautifulBeBeautiful.com) and enjoys boxing, fine vegan dining with her adorable husband and running with her also adorable rescue mutt.

[1] Check out the “Fairy Princess Diaries” blog for more on this topic.

[2] www.film-lab.org

Learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

5 Ways an Acting Degree Can Help You Outside the Acting Industry

While our favorite film and television stars make it look easy, acting for film requires a variety of skills few ever come to master. It’s why an acting degree is so important at an early age— there’s no better way to start learning the ins and outs of the industry before diving in.

Whether you make a career out of acting or take another route later in life, here are several ways an acting degree or conservatory program prepares you for more than just acting.

  1. Confidence under pressure.

Most careers out there will put you in a high-pressure situation at some point. This can be an intimidating thought if you’ve always been a naturally shy person or simply don’t work well under stress. Becoming a good actor is impossible without developing self-awareness and confidence, since you’re tasked with embodying human emotion, character, and memorizing lines to deliver them later in front of either a live audience or film team. Acting skills can be used in all kinds of daily situations.

Experience performing everything from silly to emotional roles will leave you with a stronger sense of confidence that’s perfect for taking on auditions, interviews, meetings, and more.

  1. Teamwork.

If there’s one thing you can expect to do throughout your acting studies, it’s working with others. While individual skills and roles are important, how well a group connects to overcome hurdles often influences the impact of the performance. This is why actors are taught to become strong team players in order to collaborate better with others and build off each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

It goes without saying that almost every industry outside of acting is looking for people who can become an effective, positive contributor into their team.

  1. Public speaking.

They say almost three out of four people have some form of glossophobia — the fear of public speaking. However, being able to speak in front of people without stuttering or panicking is a valuable skill almost everywhere. Since acting is all about talking and performing in front of an audience, an acting degree is a great way to build skills that can directly translate to public speaking and help you overcome any anxiety about presenting yourself in a diverse variety of professional settings.

If you can learn to speak clearly in front of people, including delivering moving monologues, then giving a convincing speech or leading a meeting elsewhere will be no problem.

  1. Learn how to listen.

The ability to respond based off of what we hear, as opposed to how we feel or what we were thinking while others were speaking, is a skill worth improving. In acting classes you are taught to pay attention in order to perform on cue, improvise a line if someone messes up, etc. Acting is all about listening, timing, and responding to others, which means those who don’t listen will fail to deliver a moving, believable performance.

An acting degree or conservatory program will leave you with refined communication skills that are important for finding success in showbiz, other careers, and even in your relationship with friends and loved ones.

  1. Building strong friendships.

Speaking of relationships, a great way to form bonds with people is by working together on something you all share a passion for. Even if you don’t become bffs with everyone in your acting classes, you’ll gain respect for each other and connect while learning in a dynamic and intensive educational environment. But more often than not, a long-lasting relationship is formed between students who worked toward a fun, challenging goal together.

Learning to act puts you in touch with your own inner humanity, which helps you build empathy and form connections with other humans. Never a bad thing!

No matter where you find yourself in life, your level of happiness will probably be much higher if you learn to form friendships with other employees and bosses. Learning to build character relationships while playing roles with varying viewpoints can also help make you a more empathetic and understanding person. Ready to learn more about acting? Check out our acting degree and acting conservatory programs!

 

Photography Marketing 101: 4 Tips for Developing Your Unique Selling Proposition

In a time when just about everyone has a smart device with a camera, more people than ever are giving photography career options a shot. With an influx of individual photographers out there, those who really want to make money off their work must have a unique selling proposition that draws attention and makes them stand out.

To set yourself apart from the crowd and find success as a photographer, consider the following nuggets of marketing advice.

Make It All About Your Strengths

A unique selling proposition should always revolve around what makes you “better” than the competition, no matter how big or small the advantage is. If the average photographer takes X amount of time to complete a certain task and your strength is doing that same task efficiently in half the time, there’s the foundation for your unique selling proposition.

If you need an idea, consider how Domino’s Pizza got its explosive start. Instead of a crazy topping or special ingredient, their original selling proposition was promising that your pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or else it was free.

Do you have a knack for photographing pets or have time for free pre-event photo shoots? Figure out what you’re good or can offer and go with it.

Find Your Target Audience

No matter how versatile you are as a photographer, you’re more likely to find financial success if you focus on a particular area. For example, there are photographers out there who have mastered the art of capturing food and know there are plenty of websites and magazines willing to pay good money for their work. Because of their specialty, their unique selling proposition will tend to be different than someone who photographs, say, boats or lawn gnomes.

Once you narrow down who would be most likely to like your work, build a unique selling proposition around what they want and why you’re the one they need. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask what they’d love to hear to be convinced that you cater specifically to them and have something different when compared to the competition.

Develop An Elevator Pitch

You may be in trouble if you can’t express why your photography is worth checking out without reading off a paper or going into a lengthy, robotic monologue. You can’t have a strong selling proposition without an elevator pitch— a concise explanation of why your talent and work will make their life better and/or solve their problems. While there’s no exact length it needs to be, shoot for trying to capture a consumer’s attention in as much time as the average length of a TV commercial.

In other words, less than a minute. If this sounds like a daunting task, even if you’re confident in your work, then perhaps you need to either do more research on who your target demographic is or go back to analyzing your strengths. Having an idea of who your ideal customer is, along with a lively, condensed pitch you developed just for them, is a key part of any unique selling proposition.

Inject Your Personality

The challenge big companies have is coming up with an image that encapsulates the entire strategy. One advantage you have as an individual photographer is being able to wield your personality in order to sell your work. There’s no better way to flaunt your skills, experience, and character traits than by adding a touch of yourself.

If you’re confident in your abilities or always know how to make a good impression with humor, stamp that bit of yourself into your unique selling proposition. It’s hard for competitors to go up against a personality that resonates with people, especially when talking about fashion photography and other areas where you’rehttps://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/5-tips-for-landing-paid-fashion-photography-work/ expected to interact with models.