Filmmaking

The Best Movies About Time Travel (Updated for 2023)

When it comes to the best movies about time travel and time warps, everyone immediately thinks of the iconic 1993 film ‘Groundhog Day.’ From the cute little groundhog to watching Bill Murray relive “Groundhog Day” over and over again to comic perfection, there’s a ton to love about this film. If you love movies that defy all logic, here are a few others that you can watch over and over again. 

The Best Movies About Time Travel

If you haven’t seen films like About Time and Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, stop the clock. These beloved time-travel movies will have you wishing you could travel back in time and watch them again for the first time.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Okay, okay, this movie may not involve an actual time warp … but then again, are you sure?

Nothing is as it seems in this popular cult classic. Janet (Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick) blow a tire and find themselves stranded at the spooky castle of the mysterious Dr. Frank-N-Ferter (Tim Curry). Hilarity and weirdness ensue — including the actual musical number, “The Time Warp.”

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

In this adrenaline-packed action flick, Wolverine goes back in time to save the world, leading to a fun, energetic film that brings viewers through two periods. The film is, by far, one of the best recent X-Men films, especially as it gives us this iconic scene with Evan Peters as Quicksilver.

The quick (no pun intended) slow-motion scenes with Quicksilver are some of the coolest in superhero film history. What more do we need to know? We’re watching it.

Time Bandits (1981)

When a troop of time-traveling pirates (who, oh yeah, are dwarves) bumbles into a young boy’s life looking for treasure, our hero finds himself unable to avoid tagging along through time on a series of misadventures that just might save the universe.

No self-respecting child of the ‘80s could create a time-travel movie list without including Terry Gilliam’s inventive brain-child. Starring Sean Connery and Shelley Duvall, this film ranks with fantasy films like The Dark Crystal and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself dying on the same day over and over again. No big deal.

In this action-packed film, the loop continues until he can build the skill and strategy to work with warrior Rita (Emily Blunt) to fight off an alien invasion and save the world.

Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (2023)

Multiverse hopping, time travel – same thing, right? In 2023’s hit Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) find themselves jumping through alternate realities. The movie (as described) brings the pair, and their daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), through almost every possibility of who Evelyn could have been, taking the viewer along with them.

Dr. Strange (2016)

For those who like their time-loops in another dimension and with a heavy dose of sarcasm, step into the weird and wonderful world of unlikely hero Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) — the caped cynic who survives a debilitating accident and discovers that he can learn and practice magic.

SPOILER ALERT: His ultimate feat is triggering a time loop to — you guessed it — save the world. The fun continues in 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where Dr. Strange battles the reality-bending Scarlett Witch.

The Time Traveller’s Wife (2009)

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, The Time Traveller’s wife is a sweeping romance about love, patience, and of course, impeccable timing. 

Time-traveling Henry (Eric Bana) can’t control his strange powers or fate as a time-traveler, and for the most part, he doesn’t try to. But that all changes when he meets a young woman, Clare (Rachel McAdams), who claims to know him. The story is about how ultimately, nothing can stop true love  —  just complicate it. Warning, this is a tear-jerker.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Eva Green stars as Miss Peregrine, who runs an orphanage for children who have inherited a rare recessive gene of “peculiarity” that grants them powers that are … unusual, to say the least. With the help of a time loop, they live together in relative safety and secrecy … until the time loop is no longer enough, and young Jake must learn to use his powers to become the protector.

Arrival (2016)

Ready for an Oscar winner? This riveting 2016 sci-fi, adapted from Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” was nominated for 8 Oscars and won Best Sound Design.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is called in to break the language barrier with aliens that arrive on earth, preempting an apocalyptic global crisis. Yet, while figuring out how to communicate with the visitors, Louise discovers that alien language has some important side effects… including a life-altering effect on time.

Happy Death Day (2019)

For those who like their time loops with a side of horror, this flick provides mind-bending chills.

College student Tree (Jessica Rothe) is murdered on her birthday and then wakes up again to re-live the ordeal on a loop until she can figure out who is after her. It’s a horror puzzle sure to thrill fans of time loops and terror alike.

Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), a college student, awakens in horror to discover that she has become trapped in a parallel universe. Her boyfriend, Carter (Israel Broussard), has moved on, and her friends and classmates appear to be completely different versions of themselves. When Tree discovers that Carter’s roommate has been manipulating time, she becomes the target of a masked killer once more. When the psychopath begins to pursue Tree’s inner circle, she quickly realizes that she must repeatedly die in order to save everyone.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Starring New York Film Academy alum Aubrey Plaza, this flick follows a sardonic magazine intern as she investigates a local man (Mark Duplass) who places a classifieds ad seeking a time travel companion. 

Complications ensue when she goes undercover in this quirky indie adventure.

Palm Springs (2020)

Nyles (Andy Samberg) meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor and family black sheep, while stuck at a wedding in Palm Springs. Sarah is drawn to Nyles and his eccentric nihilism after he saves her from a disastrous toast. When their impromptu tryst is thwarted by a bizarre interruption, Sarah must join Nyles in accepting the notion that nothing really matters, and they begin wreaking spirited havoc on the wedding reception.

Groundhog Day (1993)

The movie that started it all … Phil (Bill Murray) is a cranky weatherman who finds himself trapped living the same day over and over again — until he gets it right!

Andie MacDowell costars in this classic ’80s film.

About Time (2013)

Tim’s (Domhnall Gleeson) life changes when his Dad (Bill Nighy) reveals a family secret: men in their family can time travel! Tim revels in his newfound ability and its possibilities to help him bolster his love life with his wife Mary (Rachel McAdams, who can’t seem to avoid marrying time travelers), solve problems and excel at work … until he discovers that some of life’s most bittersweet moments just can’t be time-hopped around.

Back to the Future (1985)

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) goes back to the 1950s in a Delorean to save the life of his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). But in the process, he disrupts the time-space continuum — and jeopardizes his own existence — when he accidentally interrupts his parent’s first meeting. Forget getting back to 1985: the real question is, can Marty make his mom fall in love with his geeky dad and get a chance to exist at all?

Marty McFly may not exactly save the world, but this is the greatest time-travel adventure of all time. It’s official.  

Create Your Own Films at NYFA

Have your own idea for a time-loop or time-travel movie? Explore our programs in screenwriting and filmmaking to learn how to tell your own innovative stories.

 

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Movies, Television Shows, and Plays

This January, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and reflect on his legacy of fighting for freedom, civil rights, and social justice.

“MLK was the conscience of America and one of the most transformative leaders of the 20th century,” says Randall Dottin, the Chair of Screenwriting at NYFA New York.

“He held this country accountable for its racism, put in the work to try and dismantle it, and pursued his mission without cynicism. King’s practice of giving grace was unlimited – his life was a testament to the power of love. Change is hard, most of us don’t want to change – it takes self-reflection, sacrifice, and in some cases, pain. King’s life and drive to create a ‘Beloved Community’ shows us that change is possible if we approach it with rigor, discipline, and compassion.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Movies, Television Shows, and Plays

We remember Dr. King through his work, but we can also keep his mission alive by watching films and portrayals of him in popular media. From documentaries to biographies, here are some of our favorite movies and stories featuring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr..

Selma (2014)

Selma (2014) tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr’s endeavors to secure equal voting rights for Black Americans and recounts the three-month period in 1965 in which Dr. King led a massive march from Selma to Montgomery. What’s great about this film and this performance is that it went deep into the character of MLK, how seemingly insurmountable the challenges he faced were, and how he reacted to these challenges.

David Oyelowo, a distinguished British-American actor, portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie. Oyelowo does a phenomenal job of making the character feel as close to the real person as one can get. 

Prior to this film, he was also in the movie The Butler (2013), where he played Louis Gaines. Sound familiar? Well, that’s because it is – he’s the character, Louis, that had an interaction with Nelsan Ellis’ depiction of Martin Luther King. 

David Oyelowo is also well known for his role in the HBO film Nightingale (2014) as Peter Snowdin, his roles as Robert Katende in Queen of Katwe (2016), and for portraying Seretse Khama in A United Kingdom (2016). 

Current NYFA students can see David Oyelowo’s portrayal of MLK in NYFA’s Streaming Video Library. Please note that you must be logged in with your NYFA email credentials to stream this film.

Boycott (2001)

Boycott, a 2001 film, is about the story of Rosa Parks and the early beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement, specifically the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. The film does well to touch upon Rosa Parks’ interactions with some of the movement’s key figures, which include Ralph Abernathy, Coretta Scott King, and of course, Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr MoviesJeffrey Wright as Martin Luther King Jr. in Boycott (2001).

Jeffrey Wright has the honor of portraying Martin Luther King Jr., and here,
the role of MLK is much more central to the story, as it only focuses on one era. Jeffrey Wright delivers a powerful performance as the legendary civil rights leader. 

Ali (2001)

Levar Burton, an actor and director, portrayed MLK in the movie Ali (2001). The film focused on the life of Muhammad Ali (Will Smith), one of the most famous boxers of all time. There was, however, more to the man than just his boxing. Muhammad Ali was an outspoken civil rights advocator with two very close friends who shared similar views. These two individuals are shown in the film Malcolm X and none other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

While the movie focuses more on Ali’s relationship with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, this doesn’t take away from Burton’s performance. Levar Burton is also famous for his roles in ABC’s miniseries Roots as Kunta Kinte, and Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge in the sci-fi television series Star Trek: The Next Generation

King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis (1969)

While this Academy Award-nominated documentary was originally shown at theatres, it aired later on US television. The film begins with the 1955 bus boycott, and the start of the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, then tells the story of King’s movement. The doc is moving and informational and includes footage of protests, King’s speeches, and arrests, as well as heartfelt testimonials.

Though made in 1969, it’s still one of the best stories about Dr. King and has a 100% Tomatometer and audience score on the film rating site RottenTomatoes.

The Mountaintop (2011)

Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop is one of the best stories about Dr. King, with Samuel L.  Jackson (Pulp Fiction, The Avengers) starring. The story is about Dr. King’s last night on Earth, taking place from his room at the Lorraine Motel. While the tale is completely fictional, an angel visits King to tell him his fate, it’s an example of beautiful, symbolic storytelling.

While the play had a bumpy start, at first failing to secure a venue in the United States, it finally debuted in London at the 65-seat 503theatre. The play got rave reviews, and Hall won a Laurence Olivier award for Best New Play. Below are highlights from the play.

All The Way (2016)

One of the more recent films to have been released, All The Way (2016), features Anthony Mackie as MLK. The character is one of the more central figures in the plot, akin to Boycott (2001), if not more so. The film follows Lyndon B. Johnson’s first term in office following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and it focuses on his efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

In an interview with NPR, Mackie talks about how it felt channeling MLK. In keeping with the values MLK upheld, Mackie emphasized not only the importance of portraying the compassion intrinsic to the character but also just how “great and shrewd a politician” he was, as it was a dimension of the character he felt most people weren’t familiar with. He also did well to emphasize MLK’s role “as a leader of men” (NPR, 2016). 

Anthony Mackie is famous for his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as The Falcon
and the new Captain America.

Anthony Mackie has also starred in The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Brother to Brother (2004), for which he won the Independent Spirit Award for best actor, and Notorious (2009), where he portrayed Tupac Shakur.

King (1978)

In 1978, character actor Paul Winfield (Sounder, The Terminator, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan) portrayed Dr. King in this three-part NBC miniseries, with Cicely Tyson playing Coretta Scott King. The story followed Dr. King through his life, capturing his time as a Baptist minister through his assassination. The series received nine Emmy nominations and one award, many applauding Winfield’s realistic and human portrayal of the civil rights legend.

The Butler (2013)

The late Nelsan Ellis stepped into the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the film The Butler (2013). Ellis was an American actor and playwright best known for portraying Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood, an HBO TV series. 

The Butler (2013) is a film that tells the story of Cecil Gaines, a black man who served as a butler in the White House through several presidential administrations. The character of Cecil is based on the life of Eugene Allen, a real butler who served in the White House.

One of the periods the movie visits is the era of the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968), where we get to see Ellis’ portrayal of MLK. In it, he is teaching Gaines’ son, Louis, a lesson about the struggles of racial equality not long before he is assassinated in Memphis. It’s a truly harrowing scene, one in which Nelsan Ellis gives an exceptional performance.

NYFA Honors The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In creating stories about Dr. King, filmmakers keep his story alive in a way that reaches more people and further cement his thoughts and timeless ideas into our memory. We thank all the filmmakers and actors for their profound work in making these memorable films.

The Best Holiday Movies to Stream This Year

Tis the season to stream! 

Cinephiles flock to Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime to watch their favorite flicks through the holidays and new year. We love to watch classics like Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) alongside unconventional movies like When Harry Met Sally (1989). In the spirit of the holidays, we share our pick of the best movies to stream this season, taken from our NYFA faculty. 

The Best Holiday Movies to Stream This Year 

What makes a movie a holiday movie? Some viewers prefer a film focused on a specific holiday, while others prefer watching something familiar each year. Of course, there is the typical Die Hard debate. 

(Is it a holiday movie? Is it not?)

This year, we included something for everyone – traditional holiday classics, feel-good movies with holiday scenes, and unconventional choices. 

1. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

For those who enjoy classic films, Meet Me in St. Louis is a fantastic romantic musical comedy starring Judy Garland. The film takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, the year before the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair, and tells the stories of love and close relationships between sisters. The story predominantly takes place around the Christmas season, with an elegant Christmas Eve ball that pushes many plot points forward.  

best holiday movies to stream
‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ was nominated for four Academy Awards.

Younger filmgoers may recognize the title from the first Sex and the City (2008) movie, as it’s the DVD Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant (played by Jennifer Hudson) gifts to her before moving back to (you guessed it) St. Louis. 

Rent or purchase to stream on Amazon Instant Video.

2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

“After much deliberation, I have to go with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Jonathan Whittaker, Chair of Short-term Programs at NYFA. “As a film professor, I wanted to submit a more highbrow and esoteric title, but the truth is, when I think of the holidays and movies, I think of Christmas Vacation.  Because there are so many memorable scenes and lines, watching it feels like going home again. I can still hear, clear as if it were yesterday, my dad’s laughter filling the living room lit by the warm glow of the Christmas tree.”

“While not a deep story,” he adds, “There were elements of the script, most specifically the characters, that still resonate with me.  Clark Griswold is not the only one with a “Cousin Eddy.”   “It’s Christmas, and we’re all in misery.” 

Stream it on HBO Max.

3. Jingle Jangle (2020)

Jingle Jangle is one of the highest-ranked, top 20 holiday films on Rotten Tomatoes, making it a must-see for anyone who’s missed it so far. With an all-star cast including Anika Noni Rose, Forest Whittaker, Keegan Michael-Key, and Ricky Martin, the movie follows the journey of a crestfallen toymaker who is inspired by his energetic granddaughter. 


The charming shops in Cobbleton are all named after African American inventors.

The animated movie is an excellent film for anyone who enjoys holiday flicks with an element of magic, such as The Polar Express (2004) or The Grinch (1966).

Stream it on Netflix.

4. Little Women (2019)

The newest version of Louisa May-Alcott’s classic story, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen as Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth, is a cozy yet bold retelling of the story. The warmth of the March family, combined with the close-knit relationship between the sisters (for the most part), makes this a film perfect for watching around the holiday season. 

Although not a holiday movie, the film partially takes place during Christmas. We see the March girls celebrating the holiday with their dear Mother, who inspires them to help others and express gratitude for the little they do have while their father is away at war. For traditionalists, there are seven different adaptations, including a 1933 version with Katharine Hepburn as Jo, and the well-known 1994 version with Winona Ryder as Jo, Samantha Mathis, Kirsten Dunst as Amy, Trini Alvarado as Meg, and Claire Danes as Beth.

Rent or purchase to stream on Amazon Instant Video or Apple TV.

5. Young Frankenstein (1974)

While not a holiday movie, one of Naomi White’s favorite films to watch around the holidays is Young Frankenstein. The NYFA Los Angeles Photography Chair says, “My family and I watched it growing up, and now we watch it with our son.”

It could be worse; it could be raining. (Cue thunder followed by rain). 

Naomi’s selection shows that a film doesn’t have to be holiday themed to be one of the best holiday movies to stream. All that matters is spending time with family and friends and passing on important traditions.

Stream it on HBO Max, Hulu, The Roku Channel, Amazon Prime Video.

6. Carol (2015)

Carol is a breathtaking film that reviewers called “the best lesbian movie ever made.”  Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt, the romantic movie stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as two women who fall in love during the 1950s. The two characters meet during Christmas in a holiday department store. Rooney Mara’s character, Therese, works in the department store, meeting Blanchett’s character, the titular Carol after she enters to purchase her daughter a gift. The two bond and proceed to have an affair. 


‘Carol’ was nominated for 255 awards during the 2015-2017 awards season.

The film is a beautiful story love story. It encapsulates many of the challenges that many LGBTQ+ community members still face today. 

Stream it on Tubi, Amazon Prime Video.

7. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

While many are familiar with the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks romcom, You’ve Got Mail, many aren’t as familiar with the charming classic film that inspired it, The Shop Around the Corner. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan, the film differs from You’ve Got Mail in many ways, such as taking place in Budapest instead of New York City. It’s also a holiday movie, taking place around the Christmas season. 

It’s not surprising that many people overlook this film around the holidays, as Jimmy Stewart also stars in the Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life. The plot is also much more in line with a romantic comedy rather than a holiday film. Similar to the 90s version, the film follows two professionals at odds who are also penpals, unbeknownst to each other. These mysterious penpals are drawn to each other’s poetic views of the world while simultaneously irritated by their real-life counterpart. 

The film is preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and was based on a play 1937 play, Parfumerie.

Stream it on HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video.

8. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Speaking of Meg Ryan, Herschel Faber, the Chair of Filmmaking at NYFA South Beach, adds a not-quite-a-holiday movie into the mix: When Harry Met Sally. 

I’m a sucker for a well-made rom-com, and this one hits all the right notes, including a convention-defining last sequence where Harry finally professes his love for Sally in the most charming of ways as the ball drops on Manhattan. Pure movie magic.”

You heard it here first. Feel free to add When Harry Met Sally to the list of New Year’s Eve movies!

Stream it on HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.

9. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Tokyo Godfathers (Tôkyô goddofâzâzu) is an animated film (anime) about two homeless men and a woman who finds an abandoned infant while living on the streets. They explore Tokyo around the holidays, hoping to find the child’s parents, with the story hitting a perfect balance of comedy and drama.

best holiday movies to stream
Throughout ‘Tokyo Godfathers’, there are buildings that resemble faces to represent what the characters are feeling.

Directed by Satoshi Kon, the film is a heartwarming adventure and a reminder that, sometimes, miracles can happen on the holidays.

Stream it on Tubi and YouTube.

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the most beloved nontraditional holiday films out there. Directed by Tim Burton, this stop-motion animated film was one of the first of its kind, bringing us into the spooky world of Halloween. We meet a cast of colorful characters, including the “Pumpkin King,” Jack Skellington, who has become tired of the scary holiday. By mistake, he discovers the Christmas holiday and is instantly enchanted. 

Despite having no experience with holiday cheer, Skellington decides to take it upon himself to take over Christmas, much to the dismay of Santa and children all over the world. 

Stream it on Disney+.

11. Die Hard (1988)

“My favorite holiday movie is the best holiday movie of all time – Die Hard!” says NYFA New York Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin.  “Lots of action, witty dialogue, great characters, and lots of fun,” he adds. “I think the film endures because it’s ultimately about arriving at redemption and reclaiming love through forgiveness.”

Answering the ultimate question – whether or not Die Hard is a holiday flick, Dottin seems strongly on Team McClane. For viewers still on the fence, this may be one of the best holiday movies to stream! 


The hit tv show ‘Brooklyn 99’ notably features ‘Die Hard’, as it’s the favorite film of the main character “Jake Peralta.”

However, Nunzio DeFilippis, the NYFA Los Angeles Screenwriting Chair, also loves Die Hard but disagrees that it’s a holiday movie.

“I know there is the eternal debate as to whether or not this is a holiday movie. I don’t think it is because I think holiday movies need to be ABOUT a specific holiday. They shouldn’t work (or at least not work as well) if not set during that holiday.  And Die Hard would work just as well if John were visiting his family and there just happened to be a different office party.  All of that being said, it does use the holiday very well to create and enhance mood, so it’s kind of fun to watch it during the holidays.  Plus, it’s Die Hard – a near-perfect action movie.  Why not watch it?”

Stream it on Amazon Prime or Starz.

Learn How To Tell Memorable Stories at NYFA

There are a variety of feel-good films across genres perfect for the holiday season. If you have your own idea for an inspiring movie, check out our available filmmaking programs in the new year. 

8 Streaming Holiday Movies for That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Ah, the holidays! Many a childhood home will be descended upon by adult children and extended family, and many will find themselves cozied up to the TV (or computer screen) under a blanket with a variety of streaming holiday movies. And while some of the old standby favorites like It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street will surely be making their rounds — we’ve got a handy round-up of feel-good films that’ll keep your sleigh bells ringing.

The Best Streaming Holiday Movies: Updated for 2022

With everything from beloved classics to exclusive new movies on competing streaming platforms, there’s truly a film for everyone this holiday season. Here are some of our favorite holiday films.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

1. Home Alone (1990)

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern

Directed By: Chris Columbus

Synopsis: The night before he’s to join his family on vacation to Paris, Kevin McCallister (Culkin) is banished to his room after a fight with his brother, where he wishes his family would all disappear. He wakes up the next day only to discover that his wish has come true! It turns out his family had forgotten him in their mad dash out the door to vacation. But it’s not all peace and quiet: a pair of burglars (Pesci, Stern) have set their sights on the McCallister home. For the next 75 minutes, we follow Kevin as he fends off the goofy yet menacing duo, getting to know a lonely neighbor and helping him reconnect with his estranged son.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: What’s cuter than Macauley Culkin in footed pajamas setting elaborate booby traps to a soundtrack of classic holiday tunes like Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”? And nothing says warm and fuzzy like John Candy as the “Polka King of The Midwest” cramped in the back of a crowded van reflecting on the meaning of family and relationships. This movie lays it on thick with nostalgia, all while reminding us all of what it was like being a kid. You’ll enjoy cozying up to this on your parents’ couch with some eggnog.

Available on: Disney+
Also Watch: Jingle All The Way (1996), The Christmas Chronicles (2018), Uncle Buck (1989)

2. Elf (2003)

Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen

Directed by: NYFA Guest Speaker Jon Favreau

Synopsis: Will Ferrell is over-the-top-hilarious as the heartbreakingly naive elf who, upon learning of his true identity as a human, sets on a quest to find his biological parents while changing the hearts of hardened cynics along the way.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: Buddy’s relentless optimism and good cheer bouncing off Faizon Glover’s deadpan makes for some hilarious and memorable scenes. And if Will Ferrel in an elf costume trying to hug a raccoon in Central Park doesn’t make your belly ache with laughs — you’ve got a heart of coal! This movie is packed with the kind of humor we’ve come to expect from Ferrell while still exploring the grand themes of belonging, family, and acceptance. It’s the kind of film that will deliver the magic you’re looking for, and you can watch it over and over again.

Available on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime
Also Watch: Miracle on 34th Street (1994), Fred Claus (2007),  A Christmas Story (1983)

3. Last Holiday (2006)

Starring: Queen Latifah, LL Cool J

Directed By: Wayne Wang

Synopsis: When the perpetually cautious and predictable Georgia Byrd gets a diagnosis that says she has three weeks to live, she decides to go to the Czech Republic and blow her life savings to live opulently and seek out her hero, Chef Didier. Along the way, she meets high-profile individuals who mistake her for a wealthy, hence in their eyes, important individual.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: Loosely based on a 1950 film of the same name, Last Holiday, is a wonderful reminder to live life to the fullest. Georgia learns how to live in the moment and pursue what she really wants in life instead of playing it safe. 

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime
Also Watch: The Holiday (2006), Love Actually (2003)

4. Spirited (2022)

Starring: Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, Octavia Spencer

Directed by: Sean Anders

Synopsis: In 2022, Will Ferrell gifted us with another to-be holiday classic, Spirited. A modernized, musical version of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” Spirited is the story of The Ghost of Christmas Present (Ferrell) trying to turn miser Chris Briggs (Reynolds) into a good person.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: This film brings us back to the days of Elf when Ferrell played a character full of holiday spirit. His efforts to make Briggs see the good in himself and others is a great holiday reminder to be grateful and present. Octavia Spencer is a delightful addition to the film, playing a sweet co-worker to Briggs that Ferrell’s character “Present” also becomes quite sweet on.  

Available on: Apple TV
Also Watch: The Family Man (2000), It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), The Santa Clause (1994), Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (2020)

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Starring: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy

Directed by: Bill Melendez

Synopsis: Looking for an iconic film to introduce to the nieces and nephews that’ll even Grandpa and Grandma near? Look no further than this old, reliable, based on Charles M Shulz’s comic strip, Peanuts. When Charlie Brown grows disenchanted with the over-commercialized version of Christmas, he embarks on a quest to discover its true meaning, facing ridicule and loneliness in the process. While everyone from Linus to Snoopy seems to be obsessed with their own interests, Charlie seeks counsel from Lucy, who recommends getting involved in a play as a cure for depression.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: It’s animated, it’s set to an award-winning jazz soundtrack, and it includes a sobering moment where Linus delivers a monologue on the true meaning of Christmas, ending it with “And that’s the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown,” that will really get you into the mood. Waterworks alert: if you’ve got a single sentimental bone in your body,  it’s the kind of film that you can create new memories with every year.

Available on: Apple TV
Also Watch: The Muppet Christmas Carol (2002), The Polar Express (2004), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

6. Happiest Season (2020)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Mary Steenburgen, Allison Brie, Dan Levy, NYFA alum Aubrey Plaza

Directed by: Cleo DuVall

Synopsis: Kristen Stewart plays Abby, who is newly engaged to her long-time girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis). She’s excited to meet Harper’s family for the first time when they go home for the holidays, only to discover that no one knows that her girlfriend is gay and that they are in a committed relationship.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: This film joins other LGBTQ+ holiday films that touch on issues of identity, self, relationships, and trust, which can be especially prevalent around the holidays. We see Harper’s fears and insecurities through her actions and the pain it causes Abby, all with holiday traditions and typical family dynamics blended in. The movie shows us how this time of year can unite families, and at the end of the day, the most important thing is love and happiness.

Available on: Hulu
Also Watch: Just Friends (2005), The Family Stone (2005), Four Christmases (2008)

7. The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

Starring: Whitney Houston, Denzel Washington, Courtney B. Vance, Gregory Hines

Synopsis: A dedicated pastor (Vance) of a struggling church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood neglects his wife Julia (Houston) and son as he responds to the many needs of his parishioners. Pressured to sell the church property to a real estate developer (Hines), a desperate prayer for help is answered through Dudley (Washington), an angel sent by God to help the pastor.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: If Whitney Houston’s angelic voice singing “Who Would Imagine A King” doesn’t make you sentimental, God rest your sorry soul. While the story of a struggling Baptist minister sets the stage for a divinely inspirational, gospel music-filled score led by the late Ms. Houston, it’s a dreamy and romantic film where you’ll find yourself willing a romance between Houston and Washington to happen. And don’t be surprised if you’re compelled to order the soundtrack. It will add a little something extra to the ambiance around the table this year.

Available on: Disney+
Also Watch: Almost Christmas (2016),  Last Christmas (2019), Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

8. Falling for Christmas (2022)

Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet

Director: Janeen Damian

Synopsis: Glee and Mean Girls fans rejoiced when Falling for Christmas hit Netflix. Starring Lindsay Lohan and NYFA alum Chord Overstreet, the film features Lohan as a hotel heiress, Sierra, who gets amnesia during a skiing trip. Overstreet comes to her rescue as the dashing Jake Russell, a local inn owner and single dad who offers to put her up until she gets her memory back. Romance ensues.

Why It Makes Us Feel Warm and Fuzzy: Besides the return of Lohan, the film also features funny and charming characters such as Sierra’s pretentious yet goofy fiance, Tad Fairchild (George Young), and a local ice fisherman and outdoorsman Ralph (Sean Dillingham). 

Available on: Netflix
Also Watch: Holidate (2020), The Noel Diary (2022)

Celebrating The Season With Streaming Holiday Movies

Whether you prefer to binge-watch holiday specials or hit up the Hallmark channel, there’s nothing better to celebrate the festive season than a great film. Here at NYFA, we wish you a fun and happy holiday and a wonderful new year!

The Role of the Intimacy Coordinator

Acting is a challenging profession. Amidst competing for roles, long rehearsal hours, and intensive dance routines, you might be surprised by what you see in the script once you finally secure an acting role. 

We’ve all watched contemporary television, films, and attended plays, so we’ve become desensitized to the idea that a “sex scene” involves two actors. While engaged in the movie or show, we might see two characters exchanging steamy dialogue and physical contact instead of two professionals at work. From our perspectives, the chemistry of the two actors is paramount to a believable romance scene. Unbeknownst to us, it takes much more to carry out such scenes than good acting.

NYFA’s very own Nedra Gallegos, an instructor at the Los Angeles campus, sat down with faculty and staff to review the role and responsibilities of the Intimacy Coordinator. Our faculty and staff, who have years of professional experience as actors, writers, directors, producers, artists, and screenwriters, know first-hand the importance of communication when building a team. 

Image Source: sagaftra.org

What is an Intimacy Coordinator?

As defined by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), an Intimacy Coordinator is “an advocate, a liaison between actors and production…in regard to nudity and simulated sex and other intimate and hyper-exposed scenes.” 

The fundamental functions of an Intimacy Coordinator involve their role as an advocate or liaison between the actors and production, ensuring performers and other production personnel adhere to safety protocols. It’s important to remember that while the Intimacy Coordinator might seem like a stuffy administrator, there only to stifle one’s creative vision for a project. The reality is they are the opposite. The role of an Intimacy Coordinator is not to suppress but to serve as an additional resource in realizing the director’s vision. 

In essence, the Intimacy Coordinator facilitates an environment in which actors understand what is expected of them in hyper-exposed scenes and ensures there is informed consent. After the appropriate setting is established, the actors have a structure in which to unleash their performance in a way that they know is safe and comfortable. 

When do you hire an Intimacy Coordinator? 

If your film or project includes any of the following, you will want to hire an Intimacy Coordinator: 

  • Scenes with simulated sex
  • Scenes involving simulated genital contact (above or below clothing)
  • Scenes with intense kissing
  • Scenes with simulated kissing
  • Specialized movement, suggested movement (i.e., burlesque/strip-tease/lap dancing/group sex)
  • Scenes involving sexual trauma 
  • Scenes depicting power dynamics or pre-existing relationships within the company that necessitate an outside eye
  • If the director is not confident in handling a scene appropriately or navigating the actors in physical and emotional moments

The above is a sample of scenarios in which an Intimacy Coordinator is advisable. If your project or creative work includes scenes of sexual intimacy, violence, or scenes in which actors might be placed in uncomfortable moments for their character’s development, it is advisable to hire a licensed Intimacy Coordinator. 

“The narrative may be fictional, but the contact is real.”
– Nedra Gallegos, NYFA LA Instructor

Codify It!

A good Intimacy Coordinator will use various vocabulary, best practices, and techniques to stage intimacy, nudity, and sexual violence. As we said before, these techniques aim not to desexualize a story but achieve the director’s vision in a way that is ethical, efficient, effective, and understood by all. 

After the #metoo movement, many organizations, film studios, television networks, and theatrical playhouses took time to ensure they harbored safe environments for their employees. The importance of consent and facilitating a safe work environment across the entertainment industry has never been more pronounced or appreciated than today. 

Image Source: Backstage.com

The Old Approach is no Longer Effective.

Even with the best intentions, directors can fall short of keeping the communication lines between actors open during rehearsals. Below is an example scenario that showcases the director’s “old school” methods of handling, followed by reasons why they are problematic.  

Scenario: Script and direction call for actors to “Just kiss each other.”

Old Approach #1: Talk it through, ask the actors what they think the characters would do with each other, and have them try it. 

  • Problem: This method narrows the emotional distance between the actor and character, making it less fictional and more natural–which is uncomfortable.

Old Approach #2: Send the actors to another room to act out the intimacy scene on their own. 

  • Problem: Actors, of course, want to please, be bold and take risks. This scenario could result in one or both actors feeling uncomfortable.

Old Approach #3: Show, don’t tell. 

  • Problem: The director is the power in the room, and actors are reticent to say no or vocalize their discomfort. As many actors know, many sets harbor a culture that implies “if you don’t do this, someone else will.” This culture suggests an actor is replaceable, leading to even more pressure for them to perform a scene in which they are uncomfortable. 

The Casting Notice, Audition Disclosure Form, and Rider

Before the Intimacy Coordinator is brought onto the set, they first meet with the executive producer, writer, and director to discuss details of the script and intimate scenes involved. This conversation between a Coordinator and producer should include the degrees of nudity, specifics of simulated sex, and other important information a Coordinator needs to know about a scene.

The best way a director and producer can ensure they establish a role requires to clearly outline the expectations for what their project includes. 

Below are examples that directors, producers, and staff can reference when outlining recruiting talent for their projects. Theatrical Intimacy Education provides an example casting notice, audition disclosure form, and rider that outlines what an actor is expected to do, a request for the actor’s consent, and questions to help an actor understand what they can expect should they accept a role. 

How do I Find an Intimacy Coordinator? 

Suppose you’re interested in finding an Intimacy Coordinator or intimacy professional for your project. In that case, you can check out the variety of Facebook groups dedicated to connecting creatives with professionals. The I Need an Intimacy Professional (Facebook Group) is one such group. 

Are you interested in becoming certified as an Intimacy Coordinator? You can go to Intimacy Directors & Coordinators for workshops and opportunities. Theatrical Intimacy Education also offers invaluable resources for those interested in learning more. They also offer certification in youth mental health first aid. 

Don’t be afraid to incorporate all aspects of life into your project. Keep in mind the many facets of a healthy and consent-driven creative environment so that all actors, staff members, administrators, and spectators are safe and comfortable.

Celebrating Native American Filmmakers, Actors, and Visual Storytellers

November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. It is an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and to show how tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges. For National Native American Heritage Month, we look at some of the most influential Native American Filmmakers, Actors, and visual storytellers, as well as some of our favorite movies and television shows that focus on Native American culture.

The Origin of National Native American Heritage Month

In November 1990, the U.S. government designated November as the first official National Native American Heritage Month. Congress chose November since the month concludes the traditional harvest season and generally is a time of celebration and giving thanks.

National Native American Heritage Month provides an opportunity to increase awareness of how historical trauma—such as colonization and genocide— has impacted Native peoples. Likewise, the month calls attention to the unfolding cultural achievements of the nation’s original inhabitants and descendants.

James Young Deer, the first Native American Director, in A Cheyenne Brave (1910).  Via IMDB.

James Young Deer, the first Native American Director, in A Cheyenne Brave (1910).  Via IMDB.

The History of Native Americans in Film and Media

As a film, media, and visual arts school with U.S. campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach, New York Film Academy (NYFA) celebrates the contributions that the Native American community has made to the film, media, and entertainment industries. Many of our campuses are on land that was once home to indigenous tribes, such as the Lenape Native Americans in Battery Park, home to NYFA New York, and the Tongva in the Los Angeles area, in proximity to NYFA Los Angeles.

In the history of Hollywood, Native Americans have often been stereotyped, depicted as caricatures, or represented as victims of extreme violence. Today, there are still issues that Native American groups have to face in entertainment and media. Recently, Native American groups have spoken out about misrepresentation in modern film and television shows, such as the ABC procedural Big Sky and Lovecraft Country.

However, there have been improvements over the years, with organizations such as Illuminative increasing the visibility of Native peoples, as well as fellowships, funding, and programs available from Vision Maker MediaNia Tero Storytelling Fellowship, and Native American Media Alliance Programs. There is a range of talented Native Americans inspiring the next generation of filmmakers, actors, and visual storytellers with their powerful, impactful art.

Native American Filmmakers, Actors, and Visual Storytellers

NYFA honors the extremely talented Native American filmmakers, actors, and visual storytellers who tell compelling stories about their culture through the visual and performing arts. Here are some of the most impactful individuals and examples of the work they’ve done for their communities.

Wesley Studi 

Wesley Studi is a Native American (Cherokee Nation) actor and film producer. He has appeared in Academy Award-winning films such as Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans, as well as Academy-nominated films Geronimo: An American Legend and The New World. He is also known for portraying Sagat in Street Fighter. Other films he has appeared in are Hostiles, Heat, Mystery Men, Avatar, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and the television series Penny Dreadful.

In 2019, Studi received an Academy Honorary Award, becoming the first Native American filmmaker and the second Indigenous person from North America to be honored by the Academy (the first was Buffy Sainte-Marie). In December 2020, The New York Times ranked him #19 in its list of the “25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century.”

“I play those guys like they know they’re doing the right thing,” he said in an interview with GQ.

sterlin harjo

Sterlin Harjo

Sterlin Harjo is a Native American movie producer, director, and documentary filmmaker. He is a member of the Seminole Nation and has Muskogee heritage. He has directed three feature films, a feature documentary, and the FX comedy series Reservation Dogs, all of them set in his home state of Oklahoma and concerned primarily with Native American people and content.

Harjo is a founding member of a five-member Native American comedy group, The 1491s. He also is one of the directors of Cherokee Nation’s monthly television news magazine, Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People, which is produced by Fire Thief Productions, a Native American production company that he co-founded with Cherokee photographer Jeremy Charles.

 

Russel Albert Daniel

Russel Albert Daniels is a photographer whose work stands in the currents of art, reportage, and decolonization. Through his photography, Daniels brings visibility to Native American and underserved communities. His stories about Bears Ears, Standing Rock, Two Spirit, MMIW, and the legacy of colonial-era Indigenous enslavement and captivity in the Southwest educate, inform, and prompt conversation about the historical narrative.

Russel’s projects explore identity, sense of place, and history. His ongoing photo project Who is Genizaro? illuminates the weight of 500 years of Native American slavery in the Southwest Borderlands.

Sydney Freeland

Sydney Freeland is an Emmy-nominated film and TV director of Navajo descent. Her debut feature, Drunktown’s Finest, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and went on to receive the Jury prize at LA Outfest. She also directed the digital series Her Story, which received an Emmy nomination in 2016 for Short Form Series.

Her second feature, the Netflix original film Deidra and Laney Rob A Train, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is currently streaming in 190 countries. Additionally, Sydney has directed episodes for Grey’s Anatomy and the upcoming Heathers.

This year, Native American filmmaker Freeland not only joined as a director for the upcoming superhero streaming series Echo for Disney+ but she was also included in the Fast Company’s Queer 50 list.

adambeach

Adam Beach

Adam Beach is an actor, producer, Saulteaux Indian from Manitoba, and a member of the Ojibwa Nation (Canadian First Nations). He is best known for his roles as Victor Joseph in Smoke Signals, Frank Fencepost in Dance Me Outside, Tommy on Walker, Texas Ranger, Kickin’ Wing in Joe Dirt, U.S. Marine Corporal Ira Hayes in Flags of Our Fathers, Private Ben Yahzee in Windtalkers, Dr. Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, NYPD Detective Chester Lake in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Officer Jim Chee in the film adaptations of Skinwalkers, Coyote Waits, and A Thief of Time.

He starred in the Canadian 2012-2014 series Artice Air and played Slipknot in the 2016 film Suicide Squad. He also performed as Squanto in Disney’s historical drama film Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale. Most recently, he has starred in Hostiles as Black Hawk, Jess Gardiner in the Netflix original film Juanita, and Edward Nappo in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog.

nativeamericanfilmmakers

Tracy Rector 

Tracy Rector is a Native American filmmaker, curator, and arts advocate based in Seattle, Washington. She serves as the Managing Director of Storytelling at Nia Tero, a non-profit committed to supporting indigenous governance and guardianship. She is the executive director/co-founder of Longhouse Media, an Indigenous and POC media arts organization’ home of the nationally acclaimed program Native Lens. She has directed and produced over 400 shorts and other films and is in production on her sixth feature documentary, Outta the Muck, with support from ITVS.

Her first feature project, Teachings of the Tree People: The Work of Bruce Miller, brought oral tradition into a contemporary storytelling format while identifying Coast Salish community involvement in the filmmaking process. Her second feature-length film, the documentary March Point, was recognized by UNESCO as an example of indigenous grassroots mobilization in response to climate change. Tracy received the National Association for Media Literacy Education Award, the 2016 Stranger Genius Award, and the Horace Mann Award for her work in utilizing media for social justice.

josepherb

Joseph Erb

Joseph Erb, a Cherokee Nation citizen, creates indigenous narratives in film, animation, and new media. Erb’s work expands the use of indigenous written and spoken languages across digital platforms. Erb created the first Cherokee animation in the Cherokee language, The Beginning They Told. The program is posted on the Cherokee Nation YouTube channel and has been shown at the Smithsonian. Because of Erb and others’ efforts, Cherokee speakers can use their language to search on Google, communicate with friends on Facebook, and complete work on Microsoft. 

Besides collaborating with students to produce animation in their tribal languages, Erb also produces educational material, such as animated shorts of animals singing numbers and colors in Cherokee.

matikawilbur

Matika Wilbur

Matika Wilbur is a visual storyteller from the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington. She has been traveling and photographing Indian Country in pursuit of one goal: to change the way we see Native America. Beginning her career as a successful commercial photographer, she realized her true calling was to create portrait art that deeply communicated people’s lives and experiences. Matika produced multiple acclaimed exhibitions in leading museums and other venues of her striking portraits of the Pacific Northwest and other Native peoples.

She initiated Project 562, a multi-year photography project whose mission is to photograph and collect stories of Native Americans from each federally-recognized Indian tribe in the US and to create supporting visual curricula and publications. Through her lens, we can see the diversity, vibrancy, and realness of Indian Country, challenge and surpass stereotypical representations, and refresh the national conversation about contemporary Native America.

Native American Films & TV Shows

To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, we compiled a list of some of the best movies and television shows that centralize Native Americans and their culture. 

Action / Adventure

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
Mohawk (2017)
Prey
(2022)

Documentary Films

Trudell (2005)
Reel Injun (2009)
We Still Live Here: As Nutayuneân (2010)
Trick or Treaty? (2014)
Angry Inuk (2016)
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World (2017)
Awake: A Dream From Standing Rock (2017)
Mankiller (2017)
Keep Talking (2017)
Amá (2018)
Merata: How Mum Decolonized the Screen (2018)
Warrior Women (2018)
Words From a Bear (2019)
Nîpawistam Sowin: We Will Stand Up (2019)
Sweetheart Dancers (2019)
Gather (2020)
Love and Fury (2020)

Comedy/Drama

Smoke Signals (1998)
Deidra & Laney Rob A Train (2017)

Drama

Powwow Highway (1989)
Dances With Wolves (1990)
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)
The Doe Boy (2001)
Skins (2002)
Four Sheets to the Wind (2007)
Le jour avant le lendemain (2008)
Shimásáni (2009)
Mosquita y Mari (2012)
The Cherokee Word for Water (2013)
Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013)
Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015)
The Land Of Rock And Gold (2016)
The Northlander (2016)
Indian Horse (2017)
Fukry (2019)
The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open (2019)
Halpate (2020)
Wildhood (2021)
Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher (2021)

Thriller/Horror

Imprint (2007)
On the Ice (2011)
Mekko (2015)
Empty Metal (2018)
Blood Quantum (2019)

Classics

Broken Arrow (1950)
Apache (1954)
Little Big Man (1970)
Billy Jack (1971)

TV Shows

Mohawk Girls (2014-2017)
Basketball or Nothing (2019-)
Trickster (2020-)
Rutherford Falls (2021–)
Reservation Dogs (2021–)
Dark Winds (2022-)
Echo (2023)
Rez Ball (Coming Soon)

Learn How To Tell Your Story at NYFA

Do you want to learn how to tell your story through film, television, photography, and more? Check out our filmmaking programs, acting programs, and much more. Request more information today!

Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy & Predictions for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

A film that was initially announced back in May 2021, it is almost surreal that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is almost here. A lot has happened in that time, including the reveal of who the big bad will be. Let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of what’s current with this much-anticipated movie and how it will honor the late Chadwick Boseman’s legacy as T’Challa.

The Latest from The MCU

The final film of the MCU’s phase four just got a lot bigger. 

What antagonist does Marvel have Wakanda up to bat against? If you’ve been keeping up with the trailers, your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed Namor the Sub-Mariner. Namor is an important entry into the MCU’s rogues gallery with good reason. Should they follow through with certain aspects of his origin, Namor will be the next confirmed Mutant in Marvel’s growing universe. Not to mention that the nation he rules (typically Atlantis) is one of few that could match Wakanda adversarially.

Namor and Black Panther, image via Looper

As a matter of fact, in the comics, Wakanda’s rivalry with Atlantis is pretty legendary. Both are isolated nations associated with superior militaristic and technological feats compared to the rest of the world. Historically, both countries also have valid fears regarding revealing themselves and/or interacting with the greater global community.   The film also marks Rihanna’s return to the music scene. In the biggest splash one could make, Rihanna not only came back with the single “Lift Me Up,” but said single is also part of Wakanda Forever’s soundtrack.

So what do Producer Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team have in store with Wakanda Forever?

Wakanda Forever: Predictions

What will make the clash between these national superpowers so intense is how similar yet strikingly different they are in comparison to one another. Where the MCU is concerned, in Black Panther (2018), Wakanda already took the first step in trying to move forwards instead of back. In lieu of continuing to hide from the world (and thereby its problems, too), the nation and its leadership decided to leave fear behind and make a proud, powerful entrance onto the world stage. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if, creatively, they decided to use Talokan (the MCUs Atlantis, the nation’s new name and look inspired by Aztec culture) to show what Wakanda would have looked like had it decided to stay the course as an isolated nation. 

All in all, depending on how events play out and what kind of story the writers decide to tell, three things can occur. Wakanda prevailed over Talokan’s attempts to besiege them, establishing the latter as an actively threatening force. The second is where both nations are on such an equal footing that they’re ultimately left locked in an uneasy stalemate. Or the third, an outcome which is unlikely but still entirely possible, the Talokanil successfully defeat the Wakandans since their own technology is able to rival them.

The only difference, in that case, would be that the Talokanil would be more tenacious in their efforts to secure victory, possibly resorting to methods the Wakandans wouldn’t be eager to take up. In all possible scenarios, I imagine that whatever the outcome of the conflict might be, it will heavily center around both presenting a challenge while also honoring the legacy of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther.

Honoring Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy

Speaking of which, we should discuss said legacy. One of the biggest reasons why we have Wakanda as we see it today is due greatly in part to the late Chadwick Boseman’s stellar performance as the Black Panther. In tandem with the character’s truly illuminative arc throughout the movies of Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and even Marvel’s What If? animated series, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther became a movement of its own. 

In Civil War, we are introduced to T’Challa when he was a prince. In the wake of King T’Chaka’s violent death at the hands of Helmut Zemo, it was clear then how powerfully devoted the character was to seeking justice. But where did justice end and vengeance begin? Where this fine line rested was what the young prince began to explore, something people still to this day still struggle with to varying degrees and levels. Captain America: Civil War is arguably where people began to see themselves in T’Challa; it is where the movement begins.

chadwickbosemanlegacyChadwick Boseman as T’Challa, image via Syfy

By the time we see the character again in Black Panther (2018), the groundwork we saw laid out in Civil War is fleshed out and expounded upon. T’Challa’s journey evolves in a way that transcends the silver screen, transcends even the MCU itself. The prince not only had to grapple with becoming the king of one of the most powerful countries in the world but also had to reconcile with the shortcomings of his own family, embodied in his father’s decision to do quite knowingly disservice and leave behind his nephew, T’Challa’s cousin Erik Stevens (alternatively known as N’Jadaka or Killmonger).

By the movie’s end, Black Panther comes to represent many things. While celebrating black excellence within the film and without, the Black Panther embodies leadership, honor, courage in the face of the unknown, and above all, an inspiring sense of humility. As the king of Wakanda, he didn’t use his power to throw his weight around or force the world to bend to his will. That wasn’t the kind of leader Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa was, although it was certainly within his power to have access to Wakanda’s indescribably vast resources. Instead, he chose to use his influence to better the world around him, opting to let the world in to promote growth on the global, communal, and interpersonal levels. 


Nakia and Shuri in Black Panther (2018)

These qualities T’Challa personified would likewise become synonymous with Wakanda ideologically and expressively. One of the best examples to date was T’Challa’s ability to work with and eventually become close allies with M’Baku. Even amongst Wakandans, the Jabari was regarded as a tribe that no one would ever be able to work with because of centuries of bad blood. But when you’re someone who treats other people with dignity and respect, regardless of class, prior history, or belief, those barriers become easily scaleable obstacles. T’Challa’s outlook and demeanor were a testament to the healing power of kindness and understanding, something all leaders around the world could take a page from. 

Wakanda would further express these qualities when they answered the call to rebuff Thanos and the seemingly endless legions of space-traveling warriors at his disposal. While the Wakandans considered their own safety, they also did well to consider the safety of the greater world at large. Although the following onslaught could well have meant the end of the great nation, they courageously faced their foe head-on. I’ll even do you one better than that. Imagine having experienced firsthand the Mad Titan’s ferocity, soaking in that defeat for five long years, only to face that very same threat with the same vigor and strength of will in Avengers: Endgame? Yet again, Wakanda endeavors to serve as a beacon of the very best that we can be as human beings. 

Takeaways from the Black Panther Films

Although briefly, Marvel’s What If? also lends towards the brilliance of T’Challa’s legacy. In a universe parallel to the MCU we know, he was the only one who could convince Thanos not to wipe out half the universe in order to better it. Not by force and not by any means necessary either, but simply through the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Mere words. That right there is Chadwick Boseman’s legacy.

It isn’t just bringing a fictional character to life or being relatable enough to vibe with. Chadwick Boseman’s influence goes above and beyond performance. His work opened the door to one of the most thoughtful and inclusive films in cinema.

chadwickbosemanlegacyThe character of T’Challa, voiced by Chadwick Boseman, in “What If” (2021)

 The message his character and the characters around him share is one that impresses upon us a sense of active purpose. A calling that seeks to embolden us as individuals to challenge the divisions that threaten to fracture society at large. His legacy is for us to persevere. To lead with compassion, even though it might be hard or even if it isn’t what everyone else is doing.

To make it short and sweet, he’d want us to be good to each other. Not just for our own sake but for our neighbor’s sake too. That being said, I have faith that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will do more than live up to Chadwick Boseman’s legacy, one need only reference the record as we have it.

 

Movies Coming Out Thanksgiving Weekend: 2022 Edition

When it comes to the best time to release a film, some parts of the year are definitely better than others. Thanks to successful films like Jaws and the original Star Wars movies, the term “summer blockbuster” came to be. But did you know that Thanksgiving weekend is also a highly valued target for Hollywood releases? Before, after, and in the lazy weekend that follows Thanksgiving dinner, Hollywood counts on families going to their local theater to check out the latest films.

Movies Coming Out Thanksgiving Weekend and November 2022

Even though Christmas remains one of the favorite times to release a movie during the holidays, Thanksgiving weekend has also become more and more popular. Here are the films coming out on Thanksgiving weekend in 2022, and several reasons why Thanksgiving weekend is often chosen to release films to theaters and on streaming platforms. 

Thanksgiving Weekend (US)
The Fabelmans (Nov. 23)
Strange World (Nov. 23)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Nov. 23 on Netflix)

Also in November (US)
The Estate (Nov. 4)
Causeway (Nov. 4 on Apple TV+)
I’m Totally Fine (Nov. 4 on Apple TV+)
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Nov. 4 on The Roku Channel)
Wakanda Forever (Nov. 11)
A Christmas Story Christmas (Nov. 17 on HBO Max)
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Nov. 18)
Bones and All (Nov. 18)
The Menu (Nov. 18)
Disenchanted (Nov. 18 on Disney+)

Why Hollywood Loves Thanksgiving Weekend

“It’s still an American film industry truism that there is only so much turkey and football one can consume over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” says Neal Weisman, NYFA Producing faculty and Chair of the department at NYFA New York. “Audiences are proving to be resilient in returning to theatres for unique movie events post-pandemic. This year, the industry is hoping for crowds to spend a few hours with Timothée Chalamat gnawing on Bones and All, a young Steven Spielberg stand-in falling in love with cinema in The Fabelmans, and kids traveling to Disney’s Strange World and checking out the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. For those who previously didn’t get a jump on their holiday movie-going. expect a visit to Wakanda in Wakanda Forever.”

“After two years of lockdown streaming, a few hours in a cinema is the Thanksgiving holiday treat that Hollywood is banking on,” he added.

Here are more reasons why Hollywood chooses to release and stream new movies around Thanksgiving weekend.

1. It’s a 4-Day Holiday

disenchanted

Disenchanted, the sequel to Enchanted comes out on Disney+ in November.

The November holiday always begins on Thursday, and Hollywood knows many people will be off of school and work, which is why big movies are now open in time for Thanksgiving. Producers expect that, sometime in all that free time, they may want to go to the movies. Perhaps this is why several Twilight and The Hunger Games films were released days before Thanksgiving weekend. During the pandemic, of course, studios and streaming companies pivoted, but many still release new films right to platforms instead of theaters. This provides opportunities to get people to watch all sorts of movies to watch in November and throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.

2. The Family is Together

moviescomingoutthanksgiving

The Fabelmans, starring Michelle Williams, comes out on November 23rd in theaters.

Once all the stuffing, pie, and mashed potato are gone, many families like to shop, play games or just spend time together. A great way to do that is by watching TV at home or going to the theater to see a new film. It’s a shared experience and can be enjoyed by all ages. Executives are well aware of this, which is why highly-anticipated films now release during this time. This year, some of these big blockbuster releases around Thanksgiving include Wakanda Forever in theaters, Disenchanted on Disney+, and Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the much-anticipated sequel to the previous film. 

3. The Holidays Are Hectic 

wakandaforever
Wakanda Forever is one of the most anticipated Marvel movies this year.

Every year, friends and family gather around the Thanksgiving table to be grateful for what they have. Then the next day, on Black Friday, people rush to stores or computers to try and grab some great discounts during one of the largest shopping events of the year.  The combination of free time, family togetherness, and impending holiday shopping deficits is the perfect recipe to inspire movie-goers to check out the new releases.

And that is why out of the 200 top movies with the best opening weekends, more than 25 of them arrived in November!

Whether you’ll be enjoying a Hollywood blockbuster this Thanksgiving weekend or celebrating at home, we at the New York Film Academy wish you a happy holiday!

NYFA Alum Tracy Oliver Delivers Killer Laughs With Horror-Comedy “The Blackening”

If the Black character always dies first in a horror movie, what happens when all of the characters are Black?

It’s a question that NYFA Alum Tracy Oliver poses with The Blackening (2022), a horror film based on a Comedy Central short of the same name. The film premiered at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) and received three major distribution offers. The film will announce a public release date once a distribution deal is made.

The film’s all-star cast includes Antoinette Robertson from (Dear White People), Sinqua Walls (American Soul), X Mayo (American Auto), Melvin Gregg (Nine Perfect Strangers), Grace Byers (Empire), and Jermaine Fowler (The Drop) as well as Yvonne Orji and Jay Pharaoh, and was second runner-up for the TIFF People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award.

The Blackening: From Comedy Short to Horror Feature

After the short film was sent to Oliver, she had the idea to make the short into a feature film.“I just really, really loved the concept of it,” she said in an interview with Deadline. “The short that I saw was all about who is the blackest, and whoever is the blackest is going to die first, and I just thought there was something really brilliant about that nugget.”

theblackeninggameboardAn image of a board game called “The Blackening” shown in the 2022 film. Courtesy of TIFF.

Oliver, who also starred in The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl (2011) with NYFA Alum Issa Rae, is known for her work on Girls Trip (2017), The Sun is Also a Star (2019), The First Wives Club (2021), and her Amazon Prime series Harlem (2021). Acting as Producer and Co-Writer, Tracy teamed up with Dewayne Perkins of Brooklyn 99 (2013) and The Amber Ruffin Show (2020) to write the script. Dewayne also stars in the film. With Tim Story of Think Like a Man (2012) directing, the film builds on the initial concept: whoever is the Blackest has to die.

In the 2018 short, a group of friends flee a knife-wielding Michael Myers-like character, leaving their friend Dwayne behind. He is spared when the killer is confused that Dwayne, as well as all of his friends, are Black. 

“I fell like a white woman, so he let me go,” Dwayne explains in the film.

The killer tells the group to decide which of them is “the Blackest” and says he will spare the rest. We get arguments from Lisa, who watches Gilmore Girls, and Nnamdi, who is from Africa, but “the part Charlize Theron is from,” and hates seasoning. Finally, the group decides by emptying out their bags to see who has hot sauce. The film develops this idea further, showing what happens when a group of Black friends vacationing at a secluded Airbnb to celebrate Juneteenth are put in peril as they’re pursued by a crazed killer. Just like the short, they’re challenged to examine and rank their Blackness in order to save their lives. 

blacula the vampireWilliam Marshall as the title character in Blacula (1972). Courtesy of Bloody Disgusting.

The History of Black Characters in Horror

While very funny, the short and the film also demonstrate that when filmmakers write horror for film, Black characters are based on stereotypes and often used to scare, are sacrificed, or further the plot for white protagonists. Throughout horror film history, filmmakers have exploited fear of Blackness in films like King Kong (1933) and Candyman (1992). Black characters die (not always first) in Spider Baby (1967), Beware! The Blob (1972), The Shining (1980), and throughout the Friday the 13th, Scream, and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises. 

“It’s high time for filmgoers to recognize the racist undertones of using Black characters as foils, particularly in horror films,” says Denise Hamilton, NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Instructor and member of the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. “Years ago, I remember distinctly feeling dismayed when seeing actor Duane Jones killed off at the end of Night of the Living Dead, and thinking how awful that this hero was a suspect because of his Blackness. He wasn’t given a chance to clear himself because Black people are often considered criminal in nature and automatically deemed guilty.”

Even when Black characters in horror are spared, such as Keith David in The Thing (1982), Brandy in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), Duane Martin in Scream 2, they serve as a sidekick and sounding board to the main (white) character. These tropes expand to other film genres and television shows, notably in the Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and X-Men franchises, as well as in Ghost (1990), The Green Mile (1999), American Horror Story: Coven (2013), and even A Christmas Story (1983).

brandynorwoodBrandy Norwood as Carla in “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998).” Courtesy of IMDB.

“We’re often among the first to get killed, or we simply aren’t there,” says Entertainment Journalist Stacey Yvonne of Black Girl Nerds about the horror genre in a review of Oliver’s upcoming 2022 film.

The Future of Horror

Films like The Girl with All the Gifts (2016), Get Out (2017), The First Purge (2018), Us (2019), Atlantics (2019), His House (2020), Black Box (2020), and Nope (2022), show that there’s an audience eager to see horror films with diverse, fleshed out characters. 

“We’ve shifted from being the focal point of the fear to being the heroes,” says Robin R. Means Coleman in Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2021), a Shudder original documentary film based on her novel that examines Black representation in horror.

While The Blackening sends an important message about Black characters in horror films, Oliver also hopes that audiences also will have fun watching the movie. “I want people to go out with their friends, and laugh, and have a good time. That, to me, is a success of a movie,’ she says.

We congratulate Tracy on all of her success, and we can’t wait to see The Blackening.

 

The Best Thanksgiving, Food, and Family Movies to Watch in November

For many, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to gather with friends and loved ones and be thankful for what we have — and of course, to enjoy delicious food! While spending some quality time with the turkey and pumpkin pie, why not put on a great movie? Even the weeks leading up to the holiday can be an opportunity to curl up with a blanket and turn on a festive film. From dramas to comedies, there are a ton of great movies to watch in November and on Thanksgiving Day.

Food & Family: Great Movies to Watch in November

Whether you’re looking for a film to watch on Thanksgiving Day or to get into the holiday spirit, check out our favorite fall and Thanksgiving-related movies. (For a full list of movies about food and family, click the link below!)

More Fantastic Movies to Stream in November

Pieces of April (2003)

Every family has issues, but no matter how heated such a conversation gets at your Thanksgiving table, it probably won’t be as weird as the dysfunctional family in Pieces of April. This comedy-drama is about April Burns, a young woman living in Manhattan with her boyfriend. Although she’s opted to stay away from family matters, April invites them for Thanksgiving dinner, including her mother, who now has breast cancer. Despite plenty of things going wrong, they still end up having dinner and appreciating the importance of family.

Pieces of April premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was well-received by critics. It earned several awards nominations and won many, including nearly a dozen Best Supporting Actress awards for Patricia Clarkson’s performance.

The Joy Luck Club (1993)

The Joy Luck Club tells stories of mothers and daughters, more specifically, four Chinese immigrant mothers and their daughters, who were all born in America. The mothers are a part of the “joy luck club,” an organization they created for a sense of community, where they speak Chinese and play games. Throughout the film, their daughters, who have never had an interest in the club, begin to learn more about their heritage and their mothers’ previous lives before coming to America.

Flashing from present to past, the film successfully navigates the complex relationships between mothers and daughters.

Scent of a Woman (1992)

This classic film brings Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell together for Thanksgiving. Pacino stars as the gruff Lt. Col. Frank Slade, a former Army Colonel. Now blind, Slade convinces Charlie, his caretaker, to spend the week of Thanksgiving with him to enjoy everything that life and New York City have to offer. As they wine and dine through the city, Charlie discovers the joys of living life in a bold, exciting way while uncovering Slade’s real objective for the week.

The film is an incredible coming-of-age story, and Pacino shines as the stubborn yet charming Colonel. Just before the new year, Scent of a Woman is a great reminder to appreciate everything you have and live life to the fullest.

Lez Bomb (2018)

Audiences rejoiced in the 2020 holiday release of Happiest Season, a story about a woman bringing her girlfriend home for the holidays. The film Lez Bomb, released in 2018, tells a similar story but takes place around Thanksgiving. The movie, which stars and was directed and written by Jenna Laurenzo, is about a girl who plans to come out to her family during Thanksgiving. However, her plans change when her friend Austin shows up, and her parents mistake him to be her boyfriend.

The film is one of many LGBTQ holiday movies you should stream this season.

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987)

An iconic American comedy film, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles stars comedy legend Steve Martin as Neal Page, an anxious marketing executive just trying to get home for Thanksgiving. But after a run-in with a goofy curtain ring salesman named Del Griffith (John Candy), what should have been a two-hour trip ends up taking three days.

After accidentally ending up in Wichita, the duo is forced to work together to arrive home in Chicago before Thanksgiving. The humor in the film often comes from Neal losing his temper while Del makes things worse by making mistakes that make their adventure even longer. This is one of those must-watch Thanksgiving-themed films where, if you haven’t seen it, now is definitely the time!

Soul Food (1997)

Soul Food is a wonderful movie for anyone who wants to watch a film about family and food. After the matriarch of their family passes away, the Joseph family slowly falls apart. The film is told through the perspective of Ahmad (Brandon Hammond), Big Mama’s grandson, who feels it is his responsibility to keep the family together. At the risk of losing their Sunday dinners, but more importantly, their family home, the family must pull together and overcome inner conflict.

Starring Vivica A. Fox and Vanessa Williams, Soul Food is a reminder of togetherness and the complications that can come with being a close-knit family. While the film doesn’t take place during Thanksgiving, the focus on family is what makes it one of the best movies to watch in November.

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

Looking for a Thanksgiving movie that will have you and the family laughing together? If so, Grumpy Old Men is the perfect romantic comedy-drama film that stars Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, two legendary actors, real-life best friends, and Academy Award winners. They play two retired and single old men who live next door to each other in Minnesota.

Despite being childhood friends, they started resenting each other when one “stole” the other’s high school sweetheart and married her. Now, they insult and pull cruel jokes on each other while sharing their mutual love of ice fishing. Their feud becomes more intense when an attractive elderly woman moves in across the street, which they fight to attract as Thanksgiving comes around.

Grumpy Old Men was a surprise hit that grossed $35 million above its budget. The film was praised for avoiding political and social issues while still delivering a funny experience.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

The HundredFoot Journey, starring Manish Dayal, Om Puri, and Helen Mirren, is a heartwarming film about culture, tradition, family, and food. After an Indian family moves to France to open a restaurant, they find stiff competition across the street in the form of a traditional, Michelin-star French restaurant. The patriarch of the family (Puri) finds himself toe-to-toe with the prim Madame Mallory (Mirren), who insists that her French cuisine is superior to his traditional Indian dishes. Hassan (Dayal), the family’s eldest, finds himself stuck in the middle.

If you love cooking and Indian food, this film will definitely get your stomach growling.

Addams Family Values (1993)

While this may not be considered a Thanksgiving movie, it has two excellent components: a loving family and a hilarious Turkey Day-themed play. The film depicts a scene where Pugsley, dressed as a turkey, and Wednesday, dressed as a Native American Indian, share the truth about the origins of the holiday – much to the horror of the preppy counselors of their summer camp.

Again, not a traditional Thanksgiving weekend film, but the choice to include a scene that touches on the background of the Native American Indians and Pilgrims provides a welcomed alternative to other Turkey Day stories.

Home for the Holidays (1995)

Home for the Holidays is another one of those films that teach us that even the most divided families can realize the value of being together. In this film, a single mom named Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) loses her job and flies to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with her parents in Baltimore.

Chaos ensues when family members with contrasting opinions share the dinner table. This includes a highly-conservative sister, spoiled nieces and nephews, the eccentric Aunt Gladys, and more. As tensions rise, the festivities get out of hand. But in the end, this film reiterates the themes of family union, peace, and thankfulness that sometimes come only through hard-won effort — but are always worth it.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

While this isn’t technically a movie, this beloved family TV special is a must for every holiday season. The episode aired in 1973 and brings the Peanuts gang together for dinner. Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to Charlie Brown’s for a Thanksgiving feast. Only, he hasn’t prepared one. The friends do their best to muster all the traditional trappings of the holiday — with the help of Lucy, Snoopy, Woodstock, Marcie, Franklin, and Linus.

A classic that people of all ages can enjoy, this episode is only 30 minutes long, which is exactly the perfect length to wait between the turkey and the pumpkin pie.

More Fantastic Movies to Watch in November

Alice’s Restaurant (1969)
The Big Chill (1983)
She’s Gotta Have It (1983)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Dutch (1991)
Son in Law (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Brothers McMullen (1995)
The Ice Storm (1997)
One True Thing (1998)
Stepmom (1998)
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
What’s Cooking? (2000)
Remember the Titans (2000)
Autumn in New York (2000)
Sweet November (2001)
Antwone Fisher (2002)
Funny People (2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Julie & Julia (2009)
Tower Heist (2011)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Free Birds (2013)
Black Nativity (2013)
Krisha (2015)
Mistress America (2015)
Almost Christmas (2016)
Little Women (2019)
The Farewell (2019)
Knives Out (2019)
The Turkey Bowl (2019)
Friendsgiving (2020)
The Humans (2021)

Happy Holidays from NYFA

Whether your Thanksgiving traditions involve watching a favorite film, playing football, eating turkey, or something entirely different, we at the New York Film Academy wish a very happy holiday to you and yours. Inspired to make your own movies? Discover more about the filmmaking programs at NYFA today!

How to Write Horror for Film

It’s a common mistake to call a horror movie a scary movie. Not all horror movies are scary, and certainly not all scary movies are in the horror genre. Therein lies the biggest hurdle to overcome when crafting compelling horror –  figuring out just what is “scary.” That is a question so vast it can be scary itself, crippling creativity and leading to unfinished projects, self-doubt, and wasted talent. So, how do you write a horror for film that captivates an audience?

How to Write Horror for Film: 4 Essential Tips

The truth is that good horror isn’t about scaring as much as it’s about entertaining. When you set out to entertain instead of scare, you will always win the audience. In fact, the first horror film wasn’t considered a horror movie at all, as it was the first movie of its kind. Horror can be our everyday world shown through a nightmare lens and can be inspired by the situations we face and mundane parts of our day suddenly uprooted by the otherworldly. It’s the ultimate genre of escapism, and great horror writers never lose sight of that. 

Here are additional tips on how to write compelling horror.

how to write for horror

1. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, Just Make a Great Wheel 

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, the budding subgenre of the body-count movie was on the rise. Victor Miller, a screenwriter, and director Sean S. Cunningham were amazed by the box office success of John Carpenter’s Halloween and decided to try to replicate it with the first Friday the 13th.

While Halloween played with suspense in its kills, Miller and Cunningham went in the opposite direction, upping the gore factor. The godfather of gore himself Tom Savini, fresh off Dawn of the Dead, was called in to bring to screen what Carpenter hid in the shadows. Practically telling the same story of teens picked off one by one by a psycho killer, both movies are seen as forefathers to the slasher subgenre yet handle it entirely differently. One chose to grotesque their audience into fear by showing the mayhem, while the other let what the audience didn’t see drive their fear. 

When it comes to writing your own horror, don’t get hung up on re-inventing it, find your angle to adapt it.  For example, in 1968, George A. Romero would forever change the idea of the zombie from Voodoo lore to the flesh-eating ghoul. Romero created an entirely new subgenre by re-contextualizing an already existing idea of the recently deceased rise from their freshly dug graves. Every zombie movie since Romero’s Night of the Living Dead has brandished the classic’s fingerprints proudly. Because it’s not always about making something new, but about making something enjoyable.

rob zombie movies

2. Watch The Best (and Worst) Horror Films 

How do you get to perform at Carnegie Hall? Practice. Nothing will beat hours upon hours of self-education on a subject. Luckily, film is a visual medium, and you can literally watch scary movies and call it research. If you’re new to the genre, grab a Top 100 list and hop into the deep end. If you’re a long-tenured fan of fright, then you’ve been doing your homework this whole time. By watching good movies and bad, you’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, which scary movie scenes scare you and which do not, and what entertains you and what doesn’t. All art grows from what came before it, so set out to consume as much horror as you can and expose yourself to all the horror subgenres and horror from other countries. The only thing that can truly hurt you in horror is a narrow imagination. 

Additionally, take the time to listen to the director’s commentary on a DVD or Blu-ray. A simple yet often overlooked tool, these pseudo-TEDtalks are goldmines of reusable info on not only filmmaking but the nature of the horror genre. Rocker turned horror auteur Rob Zombie always includes an extensive make-of documentary to show just what steps go into every step of crafting a horror movie, following from day one of production all the way to the Martini shot. These readily available resources can help you hone your skills in showing kills. 

3. Don’t Feel Pressured to Follow Trends

Horror changes quicker than any other genre. As soon as a new style of horror hits with fright fans, everyone tries to re-create the same magic. The market becomes oversaturated, and just as fast, the style falls out of favor. In 2004, James Wans’ horror debut Saw hit screens and ushered in the short-lived subgenre of Torture horror. Movies that featured exceedingly cruel and unyielding deceptions of violence, such as Hostel and Wolf Creek, are solid examples. 

Wans’ film was a masterclass in how to write horror for film and effective indie filmmaking. The young filmmaker understood how to torture his audience on a budget with implication rather than gratuity. A slew of gorier and gorier knock-offs would follow, enough that by 2007 audiences had grown desensitized to all the bloody carnage. Torture horror all but ceased overnight as Found Footage-style horror movies would find a second and steadier life. This all shows the fickle nature of audiences and that an attempt to create material simply to feed a trend can be a blind and thankless ambition.

 

how to write for horror

4. Create the Horror Movie You Never Got to See

The band KISS is quoted as saying that the key to their success was being the band they never got to see growing up. That’s a beautiful way to approach any creative endeavor. Make the art you never got to enjoy. Whether your dream project deals with a murderous Easter Bunny or a haunted insane asylum, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the idea is, hold on to it and work with it, and, most importantly, make sure it’s something you yourself would want to watch. Think back to being an audience member and what style of story got you excited. If you make the story you wanted to see but never did, you may be surprised to learn just how many people are ready to be terrified by your nightmares as well. 

Learning How to Write Horror for Film

Some call a life in the arts living the dream. Well, for those who love horror, it might be a dream job, but it’s their nightmares that inspire them. So, to the future masters of horror out there, we wish you chilling nightmares, you’ll need them.

The Biopic Blonde: The Imagined Life of Norma Jean

It’s no secret that these days, biopics are on the rise. Among the most recent is the biopic Blonde, a film based on a novel from the year 2000 of the same name written by Joyce Carol Oates. Aside from being about Marilyn Monroe, one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures, this film is set to make a big splash in the film scene. But why? Well, let’s delve into why that’s the case.

biopic blonde

About The Biopic Blonde

The film appears set to go to some dark places, as it has been rated NC-17. As a result, the biopic Blonde is going to be getting a limited theatrical release while also getting released on Netflix as it is a Netflix Original first and foremost. Despite whatever stigmas may surround the rating, there’s a good reason why this is the case. According to Time magazine, the film will feature a particularly intense sexual assault scene. 

As the reader, you might be scratching your head as to why I might’ve said this was a “good” reason. Well, look no further than the words of Ana De Armas herself, who will be portraying Marilyn Monroe. Within the aforementioned article, the actress is referenced as defending the film for attaining this rating because the scene is among the key moments in the film “that are important for the story [as it] unfolds.” To ensure audiences could grasp a fuller understanding of Marilyn Monroe as a cultural figure, Ana De Armas goes on to say, “everyone [in the cast] knew we had to go to uncomfortable places. I wasn’t the only one.” 

As a viewer, I know I would appreciate the level of thought the creators decided to put into the film. It is informative in that it is clear that this scene is not included for gratuity’s sake, which is also a plus. It serves to add to this film’s anticipation, which already has the allure of being about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Speaking of which, while the film has clearly been able to garner enough interest on its own, as always, we can take this a step further. How? By considering this movie’s hype levels can also be attributed to the genre it is a part of. 

marilyn monroe biopic

Biopics vs. Biographies

Typically, when you think of a biography, you would be inclined to believe it refers to as accurate a historical accounting as possible.  Biopics are different as they can take some artistic and dramatic liberties that biographies do not. In biographies, there are always gaps of knowledge, areas of the lives of our favorite celebrities and public figures that are unknown. 

What biopics allow themselves to do is use this perceived flaw to tell a compelling story. As they are dramatizations of a given figure’s life, they tend to capitalize on the unknown. By opting to let the creative juices run amok as opposed to shying away from areas of speculation and doubt, biopics are able to thrive in a way traditional biographies don’t. 

Of course, creatives must maintain some sense of realism and continuity, as these are real people whose lives are being adapted. A successful biopic will not only be entertaining but also succeed in showing a degree of respect where the subject is concerned. 

To boil it down to a simple recipe, a phenomenal biopic will include a helping of some historical truth, a little dash of drama, mixed in with a dose of creative license. How well the biopic Blonde manages these measurements, we’ll leave you to decide, though it is worth mentioning that Ana De Armas received a standing ovation in Venice, per Variety. Blonde releases on Netflix on September 23rd. 

 

Mental Illness in Movies, TV & Video Games: Exploring Positive Portrayals

Let’s face it. The last few years have been, at best, a challenge. As people have dealt with the combined stresses of worldwide uncertainty, social upheaval, and a devastating pandemic, everyone’s mental health has been under a steady stream of attack. For many, their favorite movies, television shows, and video games provide solace, comfort, and an escape from day-to-day stress. When done correctly, visual media can also show an accurate and positive representation of mental illness in movies, television, and video games. 

Movies About Mental Health
TV Shows About Mental Health
Video Games About Mental Health

Accurate Representation of Mental Illness in Movies & Media

While movies, tv shows, and video games can be comforting, empathetic representations of mental illness in pop culture can also provide an anchor for those fighting their own minds every day. That’s why it’s so important to accurately represent mental illness in film on the screen.

“The portrayal and representation today of mental illness in media has had challenges in regard to continuing to perpetuate stigmas and stereotypes on how mental illness is experienced in real life,” says Stanley Tam, Director of Counseling at NYFA. “This includes the experience of the individual and those surrounding the individual. The nuances of what it’s really like for people on-screen and in-print to go through mental illness continue to be difficult to translate onto media, be it short form or long form.”

Let’s take a look at some recent – and some not-so-recent – constructive depictions of mental illness and how they help change the narrative on these afflictions that affect so many.

Positive Portrayals Of Mental Illness, By Genre

*** WARNING: SPOILERS INBOUND ***

mental illness in movies

Drama: Girl, Interrupted (1999)

“Well, you don’t look crazy,” says a taxi driver to Susanna Kayson (Winona Ryder) in James Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted. That one line epitomizes a common barrier to mental health treatment, the notion that if someone doesn’t “look” sick, they “aren’t” sick and thus don’t need help. Susanna knows something is wrong with her, but until she attempts suicide, no one believes her. That she is eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder – and successfully treated (not a Hollywood ending either, as the film is based on Kayson’s memoir) – gives hope to many who suffer in silence imposed by disbelieving family and friends.

scary movies about depression

Horror: The Babadook (2014)

The very best horror movies go beyond jump scares and gore to take something in the real world and bring it to life. In Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014), the villain is a vengeful ghost that comes to life from a book. But the real villain is depression – the depression a single mom can feel when they’re overwhelmed and overstressed. As Mr. Babadook possesses mom Amelia (Essie Davis) and threatens son Sam (Noah Wiseman), we see her go through many of the same patterns as severely depressed people. Even in the end, Mr. Babadook isn’t defeated; he’s locked away in the basement and must be periodically “fed.” “It was quiet today,” Amelia tells Sam after a feeding, hinting at the same sort of good days and bad days people can feel with depression. The lesson is clear – depression might never go away, but it can be managed, and happiness can be found.

mental illness in films

Animated (Children): Inside Out (2015)

For Inside Out, Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen made a genius move and enlisted the help of UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner to craft a moving portrait of the conflicting emotions inside 11-year-old Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) mind as her family relocated. While one could write an entire book on the film’s depiction of mental health and emotion, it stands out for highlighting the positive impacts of emotions we normally bill as negative: Disgust (Mindy Kaling) helps her avoid things she shouldn’t eat or touch, Fear (Bill Hader) gets her to stop and think before taking rash action and Anger (Lewis Black, of course) helps her stand up for herself. It shows every emotion has value, knowledge that is vital to mental health.

mental illness in kids shows

Animated (Adult): Adventure Time (2010-2018)

Most wouldn’t expect a series about the last human and his talking dog to be so frank about mental illness, but Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time tackles it head-on. The Ice King (Tom Kenny) seems to be just a crazy old man who wants to kidnap princesses, but in the season 4 episode “I Remember You,” we learn he was a good man whose magical crown has slowly eaten away his identity in a fashion, not unlike Alzheimer’s. While it shows the devastating impact something like this can have on the people you love, it also shows how empathy and compassion can help those who suffer.

mental illness in documentaries

Documentary: Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (2021)

Admittedly, it’s debatable if Morgan Neville’s documentary about the legendary chef and raconteur Anthony Bourdain presents a definitively positive take on mental health given Bourdain’s suicide in 2018. But in some ways, it reinforces the need for working on yourself internally, as no amount of external factors will heal you. Bourdain seemingly had it all – a hugely successful career, a world-traveling lifestyle, a taste for things both fine and simple – but it still wasn’t enough. The film is an honest depiction of how no amount of fame and fortune can make mental illness disappear – and for that reason, maybe one of the best examples of mental illness in movies on this list.

jessica jones PTSD

Superhero: Jessica Jones (2015-2019)

While many of Marvel’s films have to quickly hand wave any mental health issues their heroes face (for example, the perfunctory treatment of Tony’s alcoholism in Iron Man 2), their TV shows like WandaVision, Moon Knight, and especially Jessica Jones have taken a closer look. Jessica’s (Kristen Ritter) brutalization by Kilgrave (David Tennant) is the source of her diagnosed PTSD, something all her super-strength can’t battle. But while not all of her coping mechanisms are the healthiest, her commitment to connecting with more of Kilgrave’s victims, and finding healing together, reinforces the importance of being seen and heard by those fighting mental illness in the real world and how with mental health there truly is strength in numbers.

crazy ex girlfriend mental illness

Musical: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)

Many people loved Tony Shalhoub’s role in Monk, even though people with OCD saw it as boiling down their mental illness to a comedic personality quirk. Rachel Bloom would not fall into that trap with her portrayal of Rebecca in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. While the wild musical numbers and general hijinks would lend themselves to a similar reading, we instead see Rebecca presented not as a quirky hero or crazed villain – but as a human being, flawed and fantastic all at once. By not reducing her to such extremes, Bloom makes Rebecca a beacon to others who know their mental health is more nuanced than the binaries of “sick” or “well.”

mental illness in video games

Video Game: Celeste (2018)

In Matt Thorson and Noel Berry’s Celeste, Madeline wants to climb Celeste Mountain just to say she did it. As a player, you guide Madeline through a series of punishing platforming challenges as she makes her way up the mountain, but before long, you realize it’s not a simple platformer. Madeline is being chased up the mountain by a manifestation of her own fears and depression – dubbed “Bad-eline” – and reaching the top isn’t just about accomplishment but catharsis. When she inevitably reaches the top – and comes to terms with her darker self – that catharsis is felt by the player too. 

The Healing Power Of Storytelling

There have been more and more conversations about mental health in the public square recently, driven by people courageously standing up and telling stories about their own battles. Fictional or otherwise, these stories have the power to remind people who struggle with mental illness that they aren’t alone. When telling stories about mental illness in movies or visual media that you create, don’t forget to remember the human and approach it from an empathetic point of view.

For more mental health resources, see the links below, as well as our recommended movies, tv shows, and video games that include characters and plots about mental health. 

Movies About Mental Health

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  • Ordinary People (1980)
  • Strange Voices (1987)
  • The Dream Team (1989)
  • As Good As It Gets (1997)
  • Fight Club (1999)
  • The Virgin Suicides (1999)
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • Canvas (2006)
  • Lars & the Real Girl (2007)
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)
  • Melancholia (2011)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
  • The Skeleton Twins (2014)
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
  • Horse Girl (2020)

TV Shows About Mental Health

  • The United States of Tara (2015)
  • BoJack Horseman (2014)
  • Lady Dynamite (2016)
  • Big Mouth (2017)
  • 13 Reasons Why (2017)
  • Euphoria (2019)
  • After Life (2019)
  • Yellowjackets (2021)
  • WandaVision (2021)

Video Games About Mental Health

  • Aether (2008)
  • To the Moon (2011)
  • Firewatch (2016)
  • Stories Untold (2017)
  • Gris (2018)
  • Limbo (2018)
  • The Longing (2020)
  • What Comes After (2020)
  • Lost Words: Beyond the Page (2020)

Movie Franchises: How to Build a Successful Film Strategy

As an aspiring moviemaker, perhaps your dream is to one day captivate millions of people across the globe with your own franchise. This is an accomplishment far easier said than done, but the truth is that movie franchises certainly have a place in the entertainment industry — and they always will. So it’s absolutely worthwhile to study what goes into creating a movie franchise, such as the ones based on Marvel comic books or J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.

Creating Successful Movie Franchises: 4 Essential Tips

Successful movie franchises like Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, James Bond, The Fast and The Furious, and Batman are some of the best franchises in history. So what goes into building a successful film franchise? Here are a few tips:

Appeal to All or Most Ages


The Lord of the Rings franchise has expanded to additional content, such as the Stories from the Legendarium Featurette on Amazon Prime.

The Lord of the Rings is one of many movie franchises adapted from books and found great success. While it doesn’t have the same appeal for all age groups due to its more dense backstory, the darker world, etc., it is considered by many to be the best fantasy series ever made. The Harry Potter franchise is for all ages, and children, teenagers, and parents all get something from it. From the first book/film all the way to the last, relatable things like friendship, hope, and love are represented through a magical world with peculiar people and creatures that appeal to a wide range of ages and personalities.

When considering your own movie franchise, remember that the more people your films appeal to, the greater your chance of success.

Grow and Develop Your Characters 

The Star Wars universe is enormous, with opportunities to explore additional characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett, and Cassian Andor in various Disney+ series.

In the original Star Wars trilogy, many characters grow throughout the adventure. We see Luke Skywalker go from a nobody on a farm to a rebel fighter and finally a Jedi hero. Since the audience is there when his journey starts, the audience feels like it has a part in his growth and triumph as he matures. In Harry Potter, this same element of the hero’s journey and a character’s full arc is also very prevalent and powerful. The original book/film was aimed at children and featured characters around ten years of age. But by the end, Harry and the rest were teenagers — just like all the loyal fans of the books and films who grew up alongside their favorite characters.

Characters don’t have to age throughout your franchise, but it’s important to allow your audience to feel like they can relate to your characters. Make sure your viewers can witness your characters evolve, as this will drive the audience’s emotional involvement and make them eager to see where your story takes them next.

Cover Basic Archetypes


The fifth and most recent film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

With Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney turned one of their theme park rides into a high-grossing franchise. The success of this franchise can be attributed to its characters, who are firmly rooted in basic archetypes. One example is the hero, Will, who is on a quest to save the girl he loves from a crew of evil pirates. The archetype of the hero, the villain, the wise mentor, etc., can be found in great stories all over the world, and there is a reason that audiences respond to these archetypes. Tap into this powerful storytelling tool with your own future movie franchises.

Well-drawn basic archetypes are arguably one of the biggest reasons why films within the James Bond and Batman franchises are successful. The characters become involved in a traditional tale of good vs. evil, and it’s familiar to the audience. Want your franchise to succeed? Try fitting in archetypes that resonate with most people while creating characters that are charming and compelling.

Take Your Audience To Another World


Thor: Love and Thunder brings beloved characters on a journey through the Universe.

Right now, the by-the-numbers most successful (and largest) franchise of all time is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are many reasons these movies are a hit, but one of the biggest reasons is that they transport you somewhere else. You may be on Earth while watching The Avengers, but the heroes and villains are on Asgard. People love Harry Potter for the same reason. From the moment viewers board the Hogwarts Express and arrive at the wizard school, they immediately feel enraptured by a world of magic and mystery. The characters still face relatable situations like mean teachers, but in Harry Potter, your teacher is a cold, secretive wizard. It’s another world.

When planning your franchise, we suggest spending plenty of time creating the world your story and characters will take part in. It might just help viewers fall in love with your film.

Movie Franchises: Getting Started

Creating your own film franchise can be a long and intensive process. But with enough imagination and tenacity, aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters can create immersive worlds and relatable characters. Want to learn more about mapping out a film or television show? Consider taking a long-term or short-term filmmaking program or screenwriting workshop at NYFA!

The First Horror Movie & The History of the Horror Genre

Terrifying people through stories? It’s been a pastime of we humans since antiquity, with a large swathe of folklore centered around things that go bump in the night (particularly supernatural goings-on or anything related to—and exploiting—our innate fear of death.) With such a strong precedent in literature and oral history, it’s no surprise that the first horror movie was quick to get its feet under the table soon after the advent of cinema.

firsthorrormovie

The First Horror Movie: What Was It?

Over the course of a century, film horror has gone through many peaks and troughs, leading us into the somewhat contentious period we find ourselves in today. The history of horror as a film genre begins with—as with many things in cinema history—the works of George Mellies.

Just a few years after the first filmmakers emerged in the mid-1890s, Mellies created “Le Manoir du Diable,” sometimes known in English as “The Haunted Castle” or “ The House of the Devil,” in 1898, and it is widely believed to be the first horror movie. The three-minute film is complete with cauldrons, animated skeletons, ghosts, transforming bats, and, ultimately, an incarnation of the Devil. While not intended to be scary—more wondrous, as was Mellies’ MO—it was the first example of a film (only just rediscovered in 1977) to include the supernatural and set a precedent for what was to come. Where the genre will go over the next hundred years is anyone’s guess, but sometimes it’s good to look back on the long road we’ve traveled to get to this point.

The Literary Years

After the first horror movie, sometime between 1900 and 1920, an influx of supernatural-themed films followed. Many filmmakers—most of whom still trying to find their feet with the new genre—turn to literature classics as source material. The first adaptation of Frankenstein was released by Edison Studios in these early days, as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Werewolf (now both lost to the fog of time.) Things were starting to roll at this point as we moved into…

Title card from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Golden Age of Horror

Widely considered to be the finest era of the genre, the two decades between the 1920s and 30s saw many classics being produced and can be neatly divided down the middle to create a separation between the silent classics and the talkies.

On the silent side of the line, you’ve got monumental titles such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922), the first movies to really make an attempt to unsettle their audience. The latter title is one of Rotten Tomatoes’ best horror movies of all time and cements just about every surviving vampire cliché in the book.

Once the silent era gave way to the technological process, we had a glut of incredible movies that paved the way for generations to come, particularly in the field of monster movies – think the second iteration of Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932) and the first color adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931).

The 30s also marked the first time that the word “horror” was used to describe the genre—previously, it was really just romance melodrama with a dark element—and it also saw the first horror “stars” being born. Bella Lugosi (of Dracula fame) was arguably the first to specialize solely in the genre.

And as well as unnerving its viewers, the genre was starting to worry the general public at this point, with heavy censoring and public outcry becoming common with each release. Freaks (1932) is a good example of a movie that was so shocking at the time it got cut extensively, with the original version now nowhere to be found. Director Tod Browning—who had previously created the aforementioned and wildly successful Dracula—saw his career flounder at the hands of the controversy.

The shock value of Freaks is one of the few that has aged well up until the present day and is still a highly disturbing watch.

Freaks movie poster

The Atomic Years

Freaks were banned for thirty years in the country that really came into its own during this period: Great Britain.

The Hammer horror company, while founded in 1934, only started to turn prolific during the fifties, but when it did, it was near global dominance (thanks to a lucrative distribution deal with Warner and a few other U.S. studios). Once again, it was adaptations like FrankensteinDracula, and The Mummy that put the company squarely on the map, followed up by a slew of psychological thrillers and TV shows.

And, of course, you can’t mention British horror without paying respects to Alfred Hitchcock, singlehandedly responsible for establishing the slasher genre, which we’ll see a lot of as we travel further forward in time.

Another hallmark of the 40s-50s era of horror came as a product of the times. With war ravaging Europe and fears of nuclear fallout running rampant, it’s of little surprise that horror began to feature antagonists that were less supernatural in nature—radioactive mutation became a common theme (The Incredible Shrinking Man, Godzilla), as did the fear of invasion with The War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide, both big hits in 1953.

The latter marked the earliest rumblings of the “disaster” movie genre, but it would be a couple more decades before that would get into full swing.

horror films

The Gimmicky Years

3D glasses? Electric buzzers installed into theatre seats? Paid stooges in the audience screaming and pretending to faint? Everything and anything was tried during the 50s and 60s in an attempt to further scare cinema audiences. This penchant for interactivity spilled over into other genres during the period but quickly died down in part due to the massive amount of expense involved. For horror, in particular, this gave way to the opposite end of the spectrum: incredibly low-budget productions.

From the late 60s onwards, so insatiable was the American appetite for gore that slasher films produced for well under $1 million took hold and were churned out by volume. That’s not to say that there weren’t some masterpieces produced during this time, though; George A. Romero emerged triumphant and kickstarted zombie movies in this period, having produced Night of the Living Dead in 1968 with just over $100k. It went on to gross $30 million, and the living dead rose in its wake.

The Exorcist

All Hell Breaks Loose 

Occult was the flavor of the day between the 70s and 80s, particularly when it came to houses and kids being possessed by the Devil. The reason for this cultural obsession with religious evil during this period could fill an entire article on its own, but bringing it back into the cinema realm, we can boil the trend down to two horror milestones: The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976). Supernatural horror was now very much back in vogue, and harking back to its cinematic origins, literature once again became the source material. This time, however, it wasn’t a Victorian author whose work had fallen out of copyright but a gentleman named Stephen King.

Carrie (1976) stormed the gates, and The Shining (1980) finished the siege (with 1982’s supernatural frightfest Poltergeist following soon afterward). With these hallmarks in the history of horror now firmly established, the foundations were laid for…

Leatherface running in Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The First Horror Movie Slashers

If there’s one trope that typifies the 80s, it’s the slasher format – a relentless antagonist hunting down and killing a bunch of kids in ever-increasing inventive ways, one by one. Arguably kicked off by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, the output became prolific over the next decade. For every ten generic slashers, however, there was one flick that would end up becoming a cult classic even if critical success was mixed at the time—HalloweenFriday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street are the most prominent examples, which became so successful that they spawned their own long-running franchises (the first time in the history of the genre that multiple sequels became commonplace.)

Plenty of imitators and rip-offs followed, too, particularly in the Holiday-themed department. Some were a lot better than others as the genre descended to its most kitschy. Similar to the first horror movie, these films were not intended to scare but to entertain.

horror films

The Doldrums

Suffering from exhaustion in the wake of a thousand formulaic slasher movies and their sequels, the genre lost steam as it moved into the 90s. The advent of computer-generated special effects brought with it a number of lackluster CGI monster titles that did little to revive the genre, such as Anaconda (1997) and Deep Rising (1998). But it was a comedy that ended up saving the day. Peter Jackson’s early foray into filmmaking saw him taking the splatter subgenre to ridiculous extremes with Braindead (1992), and Wes Craven’s slasher parody Scream (1996) was met globally with overwhelming success.

The genre as a whole limped on without much fanfare into the 2000s save for a few box office successes. The zombie subgenre, however, sprang back into un-life during this decade, arguably spurred on by the unprecedented success of Max Brook’s novel World War Z (later becoming a film in its own right.) The video game adaptation of Resident Evil (2002) was among the first of the new wave, followed swiftly by 28 Days Later a few months later, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead (2005), I Am Legend (2007) and Zombieland (2009.)

horror films

The Present Day 

The state of the horror industry is hotly contested. With the genre seemingly relying on churning out remakes, reboots, and endless sequels, many argue that it’s languishing in the doldrums once again with little originality to offer a modern audience. The resurgence of ‘torture porn’ is also derided as a subgenre, having come back into the fore in the wake of the 2000s Saw and Hostel franchises with no signs of slowing down.

On the other hand, glimmers of hope shine through with examples of extreme originality and artistry. Cabin in the Woods (2012) has been heralded as this decade’s Scream, and the recent releases of The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (both 2014) breathed new life into the genre. Jordan Peele, writer, producer, and actor, rose as the new king of horror with original films, including Get Out (2017), Us (2019), and Nope (2022), which top Rotten Tomatoes’ best horror movie list. While scary, the films are also smart and provide sociopolitical commentary, as Peele explained in an interview with Time Magazine. NYFA Alum Tracy Oliver is a co-writer of the 2022 film The Blackening, a movie that makes fun of horror clichés but also calls out racial stereotypes. Both films, similar to the first horror film and a variety of others in the history of horror, don’t have the main goal of scaring the audience.

The Future of Horror Films

With perhaps more subgenres than any other branch of fictional filmmaking, it’s difficult to see how anyone can expand or advance on anything that has come before in cinematic horror. However, there’s no doubt somebody will, and that motivated and imaginative film school students become the Alfred Hitchcocks of tomorrow.

Bros: A Celebration of Talent

One of the biggest discussions in modern discourse is representation on the big screen. Who we see being included in the stories we tell and how we treat them, fictional or not, is reflective of our ability to embrace and celebrate the different people who share our lives with. Knowing that someone has your back is, without question, one of the best feelings in the world. It’s a motivator like no other, especially when it feels like the world around us isn’t as kind as we’d like.

Come September, I’d like to think the world will feel refreshingly brighter for the LGBTQ+ community. An upcoming film created by Billy Eichner, renowned for his work in the rom-com genre, is set to bring the LGBTQ+ community one step forward in the fight for representation. Without further ado, let’s get into what Bros has to offer.

A still from Bros. Courtesy of IMDB.

Bros’ Unique Casting & Why It’s Revolutionary

Typically, when you think of representation in film, you think of creators shoehorning in one, two, or a group of characters that fit the bill. Bros seeks to defy this practice in spades. For one, the cast of this film will be featuring openly LGBTQ+ actors in starring roles. To venture even further into the realm of possibility, these same actors will not just be starring in roles that are strictly LGBTQ+. These actors will also be portraying characters that are straight.Just on a conceptual level, Bros is riveting. It isn’t every day that you see a cast like this. At best, aside from an outlier or two, LGBTQ+ characters are relegated to supporting roles in major properties, not often taking front and center stage. But in this film, not only are the roles they (yup that’s right, as in plural) occupy at the heart of the film, Bros is doing things differently. 

Having openly LGBTQ+ actors in straight roles breaks the stigma that LGBTQ+ people are confined to portraying themselves. This decision is powerful in that their talent as actors becomes that much more exemplified by being able to potentially step outside their comfort zones, offering the chance to further explore themselves as actors. The project blossoms into a celebration of talent.

Redefining A Genre

That’s just one of the highlights of this film mind you. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Eichner himself goes on to say that “now, [LGBTQ+ people will] get to see [them]selves falling in love and falling out of love. And for all of that to be on the big screen in a fun, hilarious, romantic way, that’s what’s so rewarding.” The comment brings to bear another important point to touch upon. In discussing their new project with Entertainment Weekly, Eichner and fellow collaborator Joel Kim Booster talk about the comedy genre overall, the latter noting that it is still a “largely male heterosexual space”. 

While all the great love stories of times past still hold places near and dear, they simply weren’t for everyone. While some similarities will inevitably exist, there are also enough differences that make experiences from the LGBTQ+ community uniquely distinct from the experiences of straight people. A perfect example is referential humor. In the same Entertainment Weekly article referenced prior, Joel Kim Booster spoke about his work on past projects, most notably, what jokes he could and couldn’t use. To him, the making of Bros came with a never-before-seen sense of freedom, “the specificity of the references that [Eicher was] asking us to pull from, that kind of stuff was what I was always told to cut down on because no one would get it, no one would think it was funny. Suddenly that muscle was what [Eichner was] asking me to exercise, and it was great.” 

That right there underscores the importance of being able to see oneself in film, TV, and other entertainment mediums. It confers upon you and the community you represent a sense of hope and belonging, feelings that everyone should be able to enjoy. This is why Bros holds such promise as a film, because it does not limit itself to seeing comedy and romance through the lens of one particular set of experiences and perspectives. To have a project of this scale make the casting choices that it did makes a statement. One that says roles in film can be as fluid as people are in waking life. Bros releases in theaters on September 30th of this year.

8 Scary Movie Scenes & Performances That Will Leave You Unsettled

For some people, the fall season means sweater-wearing weather, pumpkin carving, hayrides, and snuggling under the covers in the morning. For other people, autumn means haunted houses, creating spooky Halloween costumes, and binge-watching horror movie classics. When it comes to horror films, some stand out not only for their ability to terrify their audience but because of the scary movie scenes and performances that leave you sleeping with the lights on.

Scary Movie Scenes & Performances: Our 8 Favorites

An on-screen performance can either make or break a movie—and horror movies are no different. Here are some scary movie scenes and actors with performances that left us shaking to the bones. 

scarymoviescenes

Toni Collette in Hereditary

In 2018, Ari Aster made his feature directorial debut with the bone-chilling, toe-curling nightmare, Hereditary. The film itself will rattle audience members to their core, but actress Toni Collette tackles the role of Annie, an artist turned wife turned mother, without missing a beat and takes her fictional character’s inner life beyond the lines of storytelling. Collette’s Annie is not just a victim in the film–she’s the soul of it, too, and possibly even its devil–she is pure terror. In one scary scene, Collette, possessed, famously crawls across the ceiling. The physical motions are incredibly creepy, which can really make a scene scary. In the first horror movie, for example, a small figure appears on screen and hops around before suddenly vanishing. While simple, the eerie motions are effective.

The film also has scenes that are scary on a psychological level. There is one scene in the movie when Annie tells her son, “I never wanted to be your mother.” At that moment, past the heartbreaking cruelty and honesty, Annie slaps her hand to her mouth just a second too late in the realization that what she said can never be taken back. The words she uttered aren’t just sadistic; it’s sadistic because there is a semblance of truth that is spoken. Collette successfully portrayed the amalgam of backbreaking roles in Hereditary while struggling to deal with traumas left behind by her recently deceased mother. The way that Collette portrays panic and grief in such a visceral way won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween

More than forty years ago, executive producer Irwin Yablans asked director John Carpenter to make a low-budget movie about babysitters getting murdered. Carpenter told The New York Times in 2018, “It was a horrible idea. But I wanted to make more movies, so I said, ‘Great!’” One of the greatest slasher villains of all time, Michael Myers, was born. 

Halloween helped launch a career for actress Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Janet Leigh, the aforementioned star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Curtis’s teen protagonist Laurie Strode was meant to be an innocent, repressed teenage girl who is quick on her feet. Her inner strength comes out as she’s forced to go toe-to-toe with an unstoppable killing machine, and Curtis made the role her own by the end of the first film. Since then, Halloween has spawned several sequels, remakes, and reboots, and Curtis has gone on to reprise the role of Laurie Strode in several subsequent films in the franchise: Halloween II, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection, the 2018 Halloween, and its sequel, 2020’s Halloween Kills.

The films have some of the best scary movie scenes, from Michael Myer’s slow and creepy walking to various jump scares. But in one of the scariest scenes, the finale of the first Halloween film, Jamie Lee Curtis cries as Michael reveals his victims, one by one, then appears from the shadows.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson gives one of the most famous horror movie performances of all time in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, with multiple iconic scenes including Nicholson smashing through a door with an axe and screaming, “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Nicholson is not only an actor, he’s written and directed as well and had the opportunity to write an entire scene for The Shining. He recalls being berated by his wife when he would be at home writing, telling The New York Times, “That’s what I was like when I got my divorce. I was under the pressure of being a family man with a daughter, and one day I accepted a job to act in a movie in the daytime I was writing a movie at night, and I’m back in my little corner, and my beloved wife Sandra walked in on what was unbeknownst to her, this maniac—and I told Stanley about it, and we wrote it into the scene.”

Pulling from his own personal experiences at home, Nicholson was able to ground his growing supernatural insanity with the foundation of everyday pressures–talk about great acting!

Lupita Nyong’o in Us

Lupita Nyong’o in Us

12 Years a Slave and Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o gives a chilling performance in Jordan Peele’s Us, his followup to Oscar winner Get Out. Nyong’o portrays both Adelaide Wilson, a mother with an unclear past, and Red, Adelaide’s evil doppelgänger. Early in the film, the audience is introduced to Red and her family, who are clad in red jumpsuits and eerily resemble each member of Adelaide’s family. The doppelgängers are there to exact vengeance on the Wilson family, but Peele doesn’t let the audience know why until near the end. The most chilling part of Nyong’o’s performance as Red was her voice. To make her doppelgänger stand out, she created a memorable voice. In a particularly scary scene in Us, Red tells Adelaide her story, which wouldn’t be too scary if she didn’t have the raspy, menacing voice narrating the tale.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Many little girls growing take dance lessons or even dream of being a famous ballerina. In Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman portrays Nina, a young ballet dancer with a driving ambition so disturbing it makes the audience uncomfortable. Nina is a perfectionist willing to push herself over the edge for the sake of her art. In order to bring the prima donna to life, Portman spent hours a day training with the world’s best dancers, coaches, and teachers. Portman’s performance as the dancer who falls into madness is so convincing that it’s hard to remember that it’s just fiction.

While Portman may not be able to completely relate to the dancer’s obsessive ambition, there is one thing Portman shares with Nina–Portman told Vanity Fair in 2011 that there is a connection between the actress and her character: “The quest for perfection and the need of an artist to sort of please yourself and find your own way, not to be just trying to please other people.” 

In her quest to have the perfect performance in Swan Lake, Nina begins to pick and claw at her own skin. These moments don’t have the same oompf as a jump scare but are disturbing and uncomfortable to watch.

Sissy Spacek in Carrie

A lot of people don’t recall their high school days quite as fondly as others may. Brian de Palma’s Carrie, released in 1976, plays on that teenage angst to an extreme degree in this Stephen King adaptation about a young abused girl who possesses very strange and terrifying powers. Actress Sissy Spacek portrays Carrie, and Piper Laurie portrays Carrie’s religious fanatic mother. 

At 27 years old, Spacek received an Oscar nomination for the role of Carrie. The audience can feel Carrie’s desperation and insecurity in every scene throughout the movie. Spacek was able to show the audience what everyone feels at some point in their life–feeling like an outsider and not being able to fit in. As a teenager, it can be very traumatizing not to fit in. Spacek was able to successfully deliver a frightening performance of a variety of emotions, including a great deal of frustration and fear. By the time of her–and the film’s–violent climax, the audience can see exactly how and why Carrie has been pushed to such a point. It’s one of the most iconic scary movie scenes of all time.

scary movie scenes


Anthony Hopkins in
Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins was only on screen for 16 minutes as convicted serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 classic Silence of the Lambs, but his performance was so memorable and superb in that brief amount of time that Hopkins ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Actor. In one of the most unsettling scary movie scenes to date, Lecter speaks to Senator Martin through the infamous hockey mask, complimenting her suit. It’s one of many terrifying performances in the film.

Additionally, throughout the movie, the audience is fed bits of information that helps heightens Hopkins’ on-screen performance and make Lecter more grounded as a character, even when he’s not on screen. To the audience, Lecter is a villain yet not the villain–a mentor, maybe even a friend to the protagonist FBI agent played by Jodie Foster, but an opponent to her as well. The ability to portray a complex and technical character demonstrates why Hopkins was worthy of an Oscar for this role. It’s worth noting that Foster received an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film as well.

Anthony Perkins in Psycho

A good horror or thriller doesn’t need to depend on violence, gore, or the supernatural to make it successful–or scary. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, featuring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, is a testament to that fact. In an interview with The Record in November 1990, Perkins, who portrayed the titular killer Norman Bates, said, “There’s no place to hide in Psycho.”

Perkins made his fame by playing the deranged motel owner and went on to play Bates in several sequels. As a product of being a tormented child in Hollywood, Perkins was able to take his experience and pour it into his acting career–especially in roles where he needed to portray the darker side of nature. He played the role of the tense and repressed man well because he drew from personal experiences. Despite being soft-spoken and eerily calm for most of the movie, Perkins made Norman Bates one of the most famous and frightening horror movie monsters of all time. In all of the scenes on this list, the Psycho shower scene definitely tops as one of the best scary movie scenes of all time.

Making and Starring in Scary Movies

Whether you’re new to the art of filmmaking or looking to improve your acting chops, one of the best things you can do is watch horror films. By studying memorable scene work and performances,  you can practice your own techniques and tap into your own terror.

Returning to Netflix, Strange(r) Things Are Afoot

Stranger Things started out as a Netflix Original that featured cute references to the famous tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG), Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Since then, it’s safe to say that the show has become quite iconic within the sci-fi/fantasy genre and pop culture in general. However, the show’s season 4 looks like it is making some fascinating decisions that warrant discussion, specifically where the main antagonist is concerned. Without further ado, let’s get into why you might lose your mind.

The (Other) Looming Threat Within the Upside Down  

It has been a while since Stranger Things has adapted another character from the D&D. The show started us off with the Demogorgon in season one, with hints of something more. Seasons 2 and 3 dealt much more heavily with the Mind Flayer and eventually included variants of the Demogorgon (I’m looking at you Demodogs). Since it is not truly dead, the Mind Flayer might return once more, but the trailer chooses to focus on something else instead. Based on the visuals we have from the trailer, it appears the newest up and comer will be a being by the name of Vecna. 

Vecna is an interesting choice, mainly because of his background in D&D. According to an article from Gizmodo, Vecna, who is best described as “an ancient god-like Lich”, also has some critical supplementary details to boot. To give you a better idea of what Vecna is like, the being is also described as “calculating and ruthless” and one that manipulates a person’s greatest fears to his own ends and personal satisfaction. 

Better yet, there might be more to Vecna than meets the eye once we harp in on a key detail and look into his design some.

Speculations of the Strange

Before we start, it should be mentioned that Vecna is well and truly a credit to the magic of practical effects. It’s been stated by Ross Duffer, one of the creators of Stranger Things, that the villain will be a good “90% practical” in terms of special effects throughout the season. The talent behind this villain is none other than Barry Gower, who also worked on Game of Thrones’ Night King. Pictured below is what Vecna will look like in the show.

Vecna (human form with tentacles) from Stranger Things Season 4

Vecna’s appearance is intriguing, to say the least. He bears a notable resemblance between two antagonists that viewers have seen already, these being the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer. Now it is possible that this could simply be a product of the Upside Down being his native dimension, but where’s the fun in chalking it up to that? There are a couple of potential explanations as to why he looks like this. 

For one, Vecna could indeed be the true form of the Mind Flayer. It is something of a stretch considering that Vecna and the Mind Flayer of D&D do not share any explicit connection. But it is not impossible either since Stranger Things isn’t necessarily married to D&D’s character lore. For instance, the Mind Flayer doesn’t look like a shadowy spider in D&D, this design is a creative adaptation. Speaking of the Mind Flayer, the most noteworthy thing about both of these characters’ designs is that they both have similar tentacle-like appendages. It’s possible that what we refer to as the “Mind Flayer” might in actuality be a projection of Vecna’s power. It’s certainly something a god-like Lich could pull off.

In this vein, the second and third explanations for Vecna’s appearance could be as follows: either Vecna is the one pulling the strings behind the Mind Flayer or the Mind Flayer is the one puppeteering Vecna (though not as heavily as it does the Demogorgons). This is supported by the way he seems to be “plugged in” to the Upside Down via his tentacle appendages. Whether that gives him greater control over his subordinates or how he draws his power from the Mind Flayer remains to be seen in terms of defining this relationship. 

A key detail we have yet to mention might also support the notion that Vecna is the true mastermind behind Upside Down. Going back to that article from Gizmodo, another part of Vecna’s description reads that “he sought to play with the toys left by other gods…and reshape the world, his Exandria, to his liking”. It has always been somewhat unclear why the Mind Flayer has such a vested interest in Earth, despite the fact that Eleven ripped a hole in the fabric of reality to the Upside Down, to begin with. The absence of dialogue from this character makes it all the more vague too. But Vecna, at least in his D&D lore, has a reason other than tormenting people for his enjoyment. Who’s to say his Exandria, or perhaps, in this case, his Upside Down is enough for him? Maybe he wants more worlds to reshape, and upon being presented with Earth, sees an opportunity to do this? This theory would also serve to deepen our understanding of the Mind Flayer, should it be revealed that it is a pawn or an alternate form of Vecna. 

As stimulating as these theories are, there is no way to truly know until the first part of Stranger Things is released, so we’ll just have to see now, won’t we? Volume I of the fourth season of Stranger Things will premiere exclusively on Netflix on May 27th and Volume II will release on July 1st.

The Filmmaking Process for Beginners

It can be difficult to know what it truly takes to make a film until you’ve made one. Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or just want to get an idea of how to make movies, here’s a very basic breakdown of how a film is made.  Think of this as the beginner’s guide to the filmmaking process.

The Filmmaking Process: 7 Essential Steps

There is a lot that goes into making a film. Overall, some of the most important parts of the filmmaking process include:

Step 1: The Idea

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Every movie you’ve ever seen first starts with an idea in someone’s brain. Although things change as a project goes on, the story you come up with in the beginning will serve as the foundation on which everything else will be built. Start thinking about the kind of story you want your film to tell and all the important story elements involved: plot, characters, conflict, etc.

Our tip: Ideas pop into our heads unexpectedly! Be sure to have somewhere to save ideas on your phone or carry a journal. It’s also a good idea to create a folder in which you save newspaper and magazine articles, snippets of overheard dialogue, notes on characters you see on the street, and even dreams. You may not know what to do with these things now, but the day will come when you do.

Step 2: The Script

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The script is where you’ll put down the story, setting, and dialogue in linear form. This important tool will be used by the rest of the team to know what’s going to happen in the film. You’ll also be using your own script as a reference throughout the process as well since you may need to refresh yourself on certain actions, dialogue lines, and more.

Our tip: Don’t be afraid to make changes to the script even after you think it’s ready. More often than not, better ideas will come to you well after this stage in the filmmaking process.

And don’t be afraid to let your actors improvise, whether it’s in rehearsal or on the set. You may be surprised at what your actors are able to imagine from their character’s point of view. This is especially true for filmmakers who may not be great at writing dialogue.

Step 3: The Storyboards

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A storyboard is a sequence of drawings that represent the shots you plan to film, and can be a critical part of the filmmaking process. We highly recommend this process because it helps you visualize each scene and decide on things like camera angles, shot sizes, etc. You’ll discover your storyboard’s true value when it helps communicate what you’re trying to go for to other people on the set.

And for those of you who think, “I can’t draw,” photographing your storyboards can be a quick solution. Your camera phone works fine for this. Just take a couple of friends to your location and tell them, “You stand here, you stand there,” and take pictures. Take lots of pictures from lots of different vantage points. Then select the ones you like best, and there’s your storyboard. Doing this has the added advantage of showing you what’s really possible. Because we often draw storyboards, then discover to our disappointment, that we’d have to demolish-+ a wall to get the perspective that we’ve imagined.

Step 4: The Cast and Crew

Assembling your team can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. We recommend you take as much time as needed to find the right people for your film. For crew members, be sure to consider their past work and experience and request showreels or any examples if available. You should also hold auditions to find the best actors and actresses for your roles.

Our tip: Don’t feel obligated to include friends and family in your project. This is your film, which means choosing the best people for the job. Hopefully, your acquaintances are professional enough to accept when you don’t think they’re a fit for your project.

Step 5: The Locations

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You may need to construct sets for a setting you’d like to have. But for scenes where an actual location will do, you’ll need to do some scouting to find the best spots. Take a camera with you and do as much traveling as possible, snapping shots of places you think will serve as the perfect setting for particular scenes.

Our tip: Always consider the space required by the cast and crew. Don’t choose a cramped, narrow space where only the actors will fit well and not the cameras, lights, etc.

Step 6: The Filming

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It all comes down to this. To prepare, be sure to have a shooting script ready along with an organized schedule of what will be filmed and when. Give yourself plenty of time to shoot scenes so that you’re never rushed and can accommodate changes or problems. It’s common for a scene that will last one minute in the final cut to require more than five hours to film.

Our tip: If time permits, try filming the same scenes from new angles. This way, you’ll have more footage to work with that can keep your viewers engaged.

Step 7: The Post-Production

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If you thought filming took time, you were wrong. Post-production is when you edit all your footage to create a rough cut of the film. Once done with the rough cut, you’ll begin adding things like sound effects, music, visual effects, and color correction. This process will require the use of editing software — if you’re not confident, feel free to find/hire an experienced editor.

Our tip: Before you polish up your rough cut, show it to people whose opinions you can trust. It’s better that you find out what isn’t working now rather than when your audience is watching the final version.

Master the Filmmaking Process at NYFA

Ready to become more than a beginner? Study film and the entire process at the New York Film Academy. Learn more about NYFA’s Film School today!