Filmmaking

Tribeca Film Festival’s History and Star Power

When you first dreamt of becoming a filmmaker, you probably had a few names in mind. Say, Sundance or Cannes. But what about Tribeca? The Tribeca Film Festival is a very prestigious name in the filmmaking world and, yes, another perfect setting for your arts and entertainment dreams.

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The Tribeca Film Festival isn’t just a place to showcase drama; it’s an event with a dramatic start. According to the official Tribeca website, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff founded the festival in 2001 after the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. The whole idea was to re-inspire lower Manhattan after the tragedy. That’s why the founders chose the Tribeca neighborhood as the location for the festival. Today the festival team programs film screenings as well as interactive experiences, live performances, and arts and technology panels. Tied to the festival is the Tribeca Film Institute, which helps develop the work of emerging and student filmmakers by awarding grants. (You can watch some of the projects that have benefitted from TFI grants on Vimeo.)

This year, AT&T and Tribeca teamed up to award a whopping $1 million grant to an underrepresented filmmaker at the Tribeca Film Festival. The collaboration, which has been dubbed “AT&T Presents: Untold Stories,” is simple: AT&T will provide the funding and Tribeca will provide the mentorship.

In a press release, Tribeca co-founder Jane Rosenthal said, “As a champion of supporting underrepresented filmmakers for over a decade, Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Film Institute are proud to collaborate with AT&T on ‘AT&T Presents: Untold Stories,’ a significant and essential program that goes beyond the generous funding. To be able to say to a filmmaker that we are not only going to help get your important story made, but we will provide the mentoring, guidance, and guaranteed distribution so it will get seen, is an incredible feeling.”

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The Tribeca Film Festival has launched numerous film careers and premiered films that in just 16 short years are on their way to becoming classics. The first festival premiered “About a Boy,” “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and “The Avengers.” The festival is also a place for career-changers. This year, for instance, Kobe Bryant will be premiering a short film.

If you have the chance, go to the Tribeca Film Festival to see what’s new in independent cinema. The fun begins April 19. View the film and event schedule on the official website.

If you’re interested in learning more about filmmaking yourself, check out New York Film Academy’s film programs.

Pilot Season: It’s Pilot Season, Here Is What’s Coming Your Way

Every new season, it’s exciting to see which new actors, directors, and shows are coming to your television. For students, it’s especially inspiring to watch new talent on the screen — you never know what will inspire your imagination next. Here are a few new pilots that you absolutely can’t miss this season.

“Black Lightning”

For superhero fans, here’s a new offering from DC Comics that’ll premiere this season on the CW. “Black Lightning” stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce, a retired superhero who gets drawn back into the crime-fighting world by his two adventurous daughters.

Largely known as the first African-American superhero, “Black Lightning” first entered the comics world back in 1977. His suit was designed by Laura Jean Shannon of “Iron Man” and “Blade: Trinity” fame.

The pilot was picked up by the CW and will be the fifth superhero series on the network, which already premiered “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Arrow,” and DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow.”

“Unsolved: The Murders of Biggie and Tupac”

This USA pilot centers on — what else? — the two most famous unsolved crimes of the 1990s. It’s already notable for its talented cast of characters. LeToya Luckett (formerly of Destiny’s Child, “Ballers,” and “Rosewood”) has signed onto the project as Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight’s estranged wife. Casting recently found its Sean “Puffy” Combs in Luke James, while ‘Pac and Biggie will be played respectively by Marcc Rose and Wavyy Jones. Aisha Hinds, who currently plays Harriet Tubman on “Underground,” will play Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace.

“Behind Enemy Lines”

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Fans of period dramas should check out this MTV-scripted Fox reboot of the 2001 WWII movie “Behind Enemy Lines.” It’s a military thriller about U.S. soldiers trapped behind enemy lines that tells the story from multiple perspectives, including that of the intelligence officers back on the ground in Washington and the soldiers stationed on a nearby aircraft carrier. Willa Fitzgerald, who stars in yet another reboot (MTV’s “Scream”), has been cast as the main female lead alongside B.J. Britt, Colm Feore, Nestor Carbonell, and Marg Helgenberger.

“Perfect Citizen”

This CBS spy drama centers around the National Security Agency, an intelligence agency so secretive and clandestine that it’s known around Washington, D.C. as No Such Agency or Never Said Anything. Noah Wyle, formerly of “ER,” will star as a whistleblowing attorney who is regarded by many as a traitor and by others as a hero. “Perfect Citizen” boasts some serious writing credentials from Craig Turk, who wrote “The Good Wife.” Paris Barclay will direct and produce the pilot, with Turk as a co-producer.

“Type-A”

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This Fox pilot, starring Eva Longoria of “Desperate Housewives” and “Telenovela,” centers around a consulting firm that does the dirty work of downsizing and layoffs. However, despite a job of delivering awful news, the consulting firm’s staff are like family to each other. Longoria is the first cast and portrays the ambitious Axler, whose brutal tactics cover up a soft and sweet personality. Lesley Wake Webster of “Life in Pieces” will serve as main writer and co-producer alongside Jason Winer.

What are you most excited to watch this pilot season! Let us know in the comments below! And if you’re ready to learn the skills you need to create your own pilot, apply now to study filmmaking and producing at New York Film Academy.

 

25 Video Games Every Game Design Student Should Play Before They Graduate

By Scott Rogers, NYFA Game Design

Developers of new games constantly reference existing games when collaborating with their teammates. There is nothing worse than seeing the team latch onto an idea inspired by an existing game, but you have no idea what they are talking about.

The following is a list of 25 video games every game design student should play before they graduate. It’s not supposed to be a list of the best games of all time, but rather a list of important works that will let you contribute in any design meeting in the industry. Pro tip: If you can’t get access to play the games in full, try watching game play videos on Youtube.

“The Stanley Parable”

 

Developer: Galactic Cafe
Platform: PC
Published: 2011

Why it should be played: “The Stanley Parable” was one of the first “walking simulators,” which used level and sound design to tell a story rather than cutscenes and cinematics. Its dry sense of humor and meta-theme about player choice – which results in over 20 different endings to the game – is a great example to future game designers of how branching narrative works and can be told through level design.

“Super Mario 64”

 

Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 64
Published: 1996

Why it should be played:  To this day, “Super Mario 64” has the best 3D camera in video games – the secret is treating it as if it were a separate character from the player. The revolutionary analog controls are a perfect complement to the camera and the level design artfully translates traditional 2D gameplay into 3D space.

Batman: “Arkham Asylum”

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Developer: Rocksteady
Platform: PS3, XBOX 360, PC, XBOX 360, PS4
Published: 2009

Why it should be played: Everything in the game is designed to make the player feel like they are Batman, from the masterful story to the reactive controls to the surprisingly deep stealth-based gameplay. This results in the first Batman game that is actually true to the license.

“Portal”

 

Developer: Valve Corporation
Platform: PC, XBOX 360, PS3
Published: 2007

Why it should be played: The game is a master class in how to introduce and combine mechanics using level design to create ramping challenges to the player. Another rare example of the use of humor in video games.

“Super Mario Bros.”

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Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Published: 1985

Why it should be played: A classic in 2D scrolling level design. Its first level – World 1.1 – is considered the best level ever designed.

“Bioshock”

 

Developer: 2K Games
Platform: PC, XBOX 360, XBOX One, PS3, PS4
Published: 2007

Why it should be played: “Bioshock” is a first person shooter game that employs intrinsic storytelling through level design, collectibles and gameplay. It is a rare example of a game with a moral point of view, and it utilizes an unreliable narrator as a storytelling device.

“Ico”

 

Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Platform: PS2
Published: 2001

Why it should be played: “Ico” is revolutionary in its use of a sympathetic second character to generate player empathy and create puzzle design. It is notable for having a story told without using dialogue, thereby increasing its accessibility to audiences.

“Fruit Ninja”

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Developer: Halfbrick
Platform: Mobile, XBLA, XBOX One, PS Vita, HTC Vive
Published: 2007

Why it should be played: In addition to its simple concept and satisfying player feedback, the mobile game in particular is an excellent example of how to use consistent touch screen controls in all aspects of the game.

“Tetris”

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Developer: Elorg
Platform: Too many to list
Published: 1984

Why it should be played: This historically important example of casual video games is an excellent example of abstract game design and the go-to “exhibit A” in the academic discussion of gameplay vs. story (answer: they are both important).

“Oregon Trail”

 

Developer: MECC
Platform: PC, XBOX 360, PS3
Published: 1971

Why it should be played: Not only the first educational game but one of the earliest games to use a parser. It also evolved into early graphic adventure game. It teaches while still being fun.

“M.U.L.E.”

 

Developer: Ozark Softscape
Platform: Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Atari 8-bit
Published: 1983

Why it should be played: This historically important early economic sim showed that games can more than just dexterity based, action games.

“Dragon’s Lair”

 

Developer: Cinematronics
Platform: Arcade
Published: 1983

Why it should be played: “Dragon’s Lair” is the first laser disc, traditionally animated arcade game with a complete story. Its gameplay is a precursor to Quick Timer Events — and it is an interesting milestone of the time when the film industry recognized games as an emerging and profitable form of entertainment.

“Myst”

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Developer: Cyan
Platform: Mac, Saturn, PS, 3DO, PC, PSP, DS, 3DS
Published: 1993

Why it should be played: This early CD-ROM game was one of the first to utilize 3D pre-rendered graphics, and inspired game developers to incorporate CG graphics and story into their games.

“Journey”

 

Developer: thatgamecompany
Platform: PS3, PS4
Published: 2012

Why it should be played: An example of an “art” game that delivers an emotional story despite simple, almost non-existent gameplay.

“Donkey Kong”

 

Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Arcade
Published: 1981

Why it should be played: The first game with story, the first platform game and a great example of making lemonade from lemons.

“Darfur is Dying”

 

Developer: TAKE ACTION games
Platform: Browser
Published: 2006

Why it should be played: An important example of “serious” gaming and browser-based gaming that is also quite playable.

“Uncharted 2: Among Thieves”

 

Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PS3, PS4
Published: 2009

Why it should be played: A modern classic of 3D level design, AI design, controls, camera and storytelling.

“Pokemon Go”

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Developer: Niantic
Platform: Mobile
Published: 2016

Why it should be played: A modern example of using Global Positioning and Augmented Reality in gaming; how the real world can be used as a game space.

“Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos”

 

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC, Mac
Published: 2002

Why it should be played: Not only a classic of real time strategy gaming, but also contains a robust gameplay editor instrumental in the indie movement of gaming.

“Call of Duty: Ghosts”

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Developer: Infinity Ward
Platform: PC, XBOX 360, XBOX One, PS3, PS4, Wii U
Published: 2013

Why it should be played: An excellent example of the first person shooter genre that uses intrinsic storytelling and shifting perspectives as well as classic level design techniques.

“The Walking Dead: Season 1”

 

Developer: Telltale Games
Platform: PC, XBOX 360, PS3
Published: 2007

Why it should be played: A fine example of the postmodern adventure game genre, featuring gameplay with moral choices and multiple pathing.

“Red Dead Redemption”

 

Developer: Rockstar Games
Platform: XBOX 360, PS3
Published: 2010

Why it should be played: A prime example of an open-world environment gameplay, how to direct gameplay despite an open-world and how to provide gameplay that appeals to all four of Bartle’s classes of players.

“LittleBigPlanet”

 

Developer: Media Molecule
Platform: PS3, PSP, PS4
Published: 2008

Why it should be played: LittleBigPlanet is a top-notch platform game that also has a fantastic level editor to teach you how to make your own levels.

“CodeCombat”

 

Developer: CodeCombat
Platform: Browser
Published: 2014

Why it should be played: A great educational game, where players learn how to write code while fighting monsters! Also good example of how to incentivize a player through monetization

“Superman 64”

 

Developer: Titus Software
Platform: Nintendo 64
Published: 1999

Why it should be played: Although this suffers from horrible controls, camera, gameplay and storytelling, it is important for game developers to learn how not to make a game.

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

NYFA Community: 9 Great Alumni Films to Watch

The diverse, international NYFA community is made up not only of our hard working and hard dreaming students, but also of incredible alumni who have taken their skills and created awesome films. We are always excited and proud to see our alumni make strides in their careers. To celebrate some of the incredible work that’s been done recently, we’ve rounded up a list of great recent films made by NYFA alumni. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these films — and the alumni success stories that go along with them:

“Hellion” (alumnus Tanner Beard)

Since graduating from both the 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop and 4-Week Acting for Film Workshop, Tanner Beard has been busy building a lengthy list of credits. On top of directing, producing, and writing a Spaghetti Western titled “6 Bullets to Hell” through his production company Silver Sail Entertainment, Beard has produced the critically-acclaimed “Hellion,” starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis. Beard also served as executive producer of three films under iconic director Terrance Malick and producer Sarah Green.

“The Thinning” (alumnus Michael Gallagher)

Since attending NYFA Filmmaking Summer Camp at age 13, Michael Gallagher has started the YouTube channel TotallySketch, directed the television mini-series “Interns,” “How to Survive High School” and “The Station,” and produced three films; “Smiley,” “The Thinning,” and “Internet Famous.”

When it comes to advertising your work across the social media highway, Gallagher suggests that “you only get so many favors. I knew that the first thing I asked, I knew it had to count. I went in with my first video. I planned it out and made this attack plan and I just carpet bombed everyone I knew asking, ‘If you ever do one thing for me promote this video.’ ”

“Yo soy un Politico” (alumni Susana Matos and Javier Colon)

New York Film Academy alumni Susana Matos and Javier Colon have just finished their latest film “Yo soy un Politico” (I am a Politician). The film follows an ex-convict who wants a job where he can make a lot of money without putting in a lot of work, so he decides to run as governor of Puerto Rico. Next, Matos and Colon are working together on getting the funding for “Who Cares?,” a road trip dramedy with the tone of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” Their goal is to begin pre-production at the end of this year.

“Hands of Stone” (alumnus Jonathan Jakubowicz)

After graduating from New York Film Academy nearly 20 years ago, Venezuelan-born director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s tackled the story of boxer Roberto Duran (played by Edgar Ramirez) and his legendary trainer, Ray Arcel (played by Oscar Winning actor Robert De Niro) in his new film “Hands of Stone.” Impressive! Jakubowicz’s advice to young filmmakers: “There are no excuses why you haven’t made your first film. If you feel you are ready, do it. And do a feature. You will learn more from a feature than from 30 shorts.”

“Money” (alumnus Martin Rosete)

After starting the 2-Year Filmmaking Program in 2007, Spanish director Martin Rosete is hot on the festival circuit with the release of his latest film “Money,” an elegant thriller that talks about human greed and how money (and the lack of it) can affect different individuals from different backgrounds.

Rosete says that his time spent at NYFA “helped me a lot in understanding the way things are in the industry, in the U.S.; and the fact that we were literally shooting every week also helped in having the opportunity to try different things without any fear of failing. That is really important to be prepared for the real world after your studies are over, and I am really happy to have had that opportunity.”

“Unsullied” (alumnus Simeon Rice)

In the 10 years since he last played in the NFL, Simeon Rice (also a New York Film Academy graduate) made tentative strides in the world of independent filmmaking. Rice says, “You can’t prepare for something like making a film. The hope is people connect with it, but that’s an abstract thing. You can be the best actor in the world, but you still might not get the part. You can make the best film in the world, but that doesn’t mean people are going to see it.”

“Billy Bates” (alumna Julie Pacino)

New York Film Academy Filmmaking graduate Julie Pacino, along with writer-director partner Jennifer DeLia, went on a cross-country tour with their feature film “Billy Bates,” a film that dives deep into the mind of an enigmatic artist and the arduous, psychological madness that goes into his creative approach. “It’s essential to know all aspects of filmmaking,” said Julie Pacino. “I learned that in the short I directed. It’s just as important to know the business side as it is to knowing your actors and crew.”

“Deadpool” (alumna Ashley Maltz)

NYFA Producing graduate Ashley Maltz is an Executive Assistant at 20th Century Fox. Moving over to Fox’s feature film division, Ashley’s first major project was working on the incredibly successful and critically acclaimed “Deadpool” as an executive producer.

“Birth of a Nation” (alumna Jane Oster)

Jane Oster has served as an executive producer on the Sundance favorite “Birth of a Nation.” Next she is producing “Brighton Beach” and “Serial Dater.”

Ready to learn more about filmmaking? There’s a program for you at NYFA’s Film School.

 

How to Get Big Production Value Out of a Little Budget

For independent filmmakers and those just starting out, managing production value can be tricky. You want your film to look and sound great, and that often takes a lot of money — but it doesn’t have to. In this previous NYFA article, we offered a zero-budget checklist for filmmakers, which included some great advice on how to spend your time and resources. Today we offer advice on getting the most production value bang for your buck.

Choose Your Set Piece Scene Wisely

In a low-budget film, one or two high-production-value scenes can really make a difference to the overall effect. It is important to choose those scenes carefully, with thought to the characters and what is vital to their trajectory in the film, as well as what is logistically possible in your circumstances.

In this guest-written article at No Film School, filmmaker Joshua Caldwell tells how he made his feature film “Layover” for just $6000: “If you know how to pull it off for no money, you can allow for a few scenes that look expensive but were actually the cheapest scenes we shot.”

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Caldwell gives a “trick” for making the set-piece scene work, and that is to not require dialogue (because dialogue requires multiple takes), and to keep the action simple. If you don’t have the money to shut a place down and hire a bunch of extras, you have to shoot the scene guerilla-style, and he gives an example: “There’s a scene in the film where our main character Simone meets up with a friend and they go to a club in Hollywood. The club is packed, it’s busy, it’s fun, colorful and dark, and our editor, Will Torbett, edited the hell out of it. Feels like we owned that club. But we didn’t. We got permission to be there with our camera and film but nothing else.” But because he only required his lead to dance and have a good time (at a pivotal moment), he got all that was required. “It became the perfect character-based set piece and it really increases the production value of the film.”

Focus Carefully

A tidbit to keep in mind when planning your shots: If you’re going to have people in the frame who aren’t your actors (as in the club scene described above), make sure they’re not focused on or you might need them to sign a release form.

Be Kind to Those Working for Free

Successful low-budget film feats are often made possible by cast and crew working for free. Spending time looking for talented students to gain experience while working on your film is one part of the production value formula, and being kind to them is another. This ProVideo Coalition article reminds you to think about your cast and crew and to not scrimp on their bodily needs and comfort. In the short film “Love and Robots” the filmmakers put a large part of their tiny budget into the costumes, because it was vital to the production value, but they were also aware that, for the actors, “home-made costumes that cover the entire body and face are hot, fatiguing, difficult and just plain claustrophobic. Breathing is a chore.”

Being empathetic to your cast and crew can make the current film the best it can be and help you to gather people for your next project. Providing craft services and a little down time makes all the difference. “Crews eat a lot during 12 hour + days. But having time to sit, eat and drink really restores body and spirit for the non-paid crew. … If you provide for your crew you get twice the work!”

Do It Yourself/Never Sleep

Markus Rothkranz does it all: producer, director, effects artist, model maker, matte painter. In an article at Creative Cow, he discusses the creative freedom that comes with wearing so many hats: “I learned that in the art of filmmaking, you usually raise a lot of money for a project and then hire many people to make the show. It’s a system that works but it’s not for me. In my world, I tend to believe that it is possible to make $100 million movies on $10 million. … “Today, I write, direct, build the sets and the models, set the lights, often act as my own DP and I find a creative freedom in this. It helps that I never sleep!”

Do you have tips for squeezing the most production value out of a lean budget? Let us know in the comments below. And check out NYFA’s filmmaking programs to get learn more about how to make your own films.

Best Scenes in the Movie “Titanic”

It’s the anniversary of the Titanic sinking, so it’s time to revisit James Cameron’s 1997 epic film “Titanic.” It’s three hours and fifteen minutes of classic acting moments that are sure to hit you right in the feels. Whether you’re laughing at Rose spitting off the balcony, or crying as the mother sings her dying children to sleep, Titanic offers plenty of memorable scenes that you’ll never get out of your head. Although if you haven’t seen this now-classic film, we should warn you: there are spoilers ahead!

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“A Real Party”

Because who doesn’t love a third-class romp below deck? The 11th scene in “Titanic” depicts young Jack Dawson taking Rose to a wild party complete with dancing and Irish jigs. Rose amazes the partygoers by performing a party trick of standing directly on her tiptoes, then dances merrily with Jack and shows the crew and passengers that a first-class girl can drink. This scene contrasts nicely with the stiff, unpleasant dinner that Rose has endured earlier as a first-class passenger; down in the hull with Jack, she can finally be gloriously free and have a fantastic time.

“I’m Flying”

The 13th and arguably most famous scene in the movie shows Jack and Rose on the bow of the ship. Jack stands on the ship’s railing and grabs Rose’s arms as she extends them out and exclaims, “I’m flying!” The couple then shares a steamy first kiss. Television station TLC conducted a survey of thousands of adult viewers, who voted it the best screen kiss of all time. The scene was so popular that many couples on cruise ships tried to recreate it; this has led ships to cordon off the bow area for safety reasons.

“The Drawing”

In this scene, Rose asks Jack to draw her wearing the Heart of the Ocean diamond — and only the diamond — the way he formerly drew naked prostitutes in Paris. “Jack, I want you to draw me like one of your French girls,” she declares, lying nude on the couch with her heart pounding. That line became an emoticon, a famous meme on the Internet, and a general staple of pop culture; it’s rare to find someone who won’t get the reference.

“Rose Climbs Back Onto the Ship”

In the middle of the chaotic sinking, Rose is invited onto a boat with her mother and Cal. Rose suddenly realizes that she can’t leave without Jack, and climbs back onto the doomed Titanic. Cal begins shooting at Jack and misses; Rose grabs Jack’s hand and they run away back into the corridors of the ship, plunging into the frigid water. It’s the moment when Rose truly shows her devotion for Jack in risking her life to be with him.

“Jack’s Death”

The most heart-wrenching scene of the movie is when Jack and Rose are unable to fit on the same floating door. Rose climbs on, but the door can’t hold both of their weights. Ever the gentleman, Jack stays patiently in the water until he succumbs to hypothermia and sinks beneath the waves. This scene has sparked a lot of controversy among fans who believe that both Jack and Rose could have fit on the door and survived together.

In honor of the real-life anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, what are your favorite “Titanic” film moments? Let us know in the comments below!

Learn more about filmmaking at New York Film Academy.

What To Expect From Coachella 2017

Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran concert goer, one cannot deny that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an experience like no other — and it reinvents itself every year. For NYFA’s visual and performing arts students, Coachella can serve as an inspiration, a retreat, and even a place to simply enjoy the mingling of creative people, different forms of art, and the outdoors.

Spread over six grand stages, with several musical acts performing simultaneously and featuring a plethora of art installations and sculptures, Coachella may prove to be very overwhelming if you arrive there just with a festival pass and no planning. So to make your Coachella trip more fun, memorable and easy, here’s our round-up on what to expect from this year’s line-up of performers and artists:

1. Headlining Artists Include Radiohead, Gorillaz and Kendrick Lamar

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This is your big chance to watch your favourite singer perform right next to you — and perhaps even take a selfie if you’re lucky. Radiohead is a household name for every fan of rock and roll, and for the ardent follower of the Gorillaz, amidst beautiful renditions, also expect to get a sneak preview of their latest album, “Humanz,” due to release on April 28. Meanwhile, rapper Kendrick Lamar doesn’t usually do festivals, so it may be a rare and unforgettable experience to watch him live with his band, “The Wesley Theory.”

2. There Is Enough Diversity of Genres to Please Everybody

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Yes, whether you’re a rock, pop or country person or if you sway to the beat of a different drum altogether, there is something at Coachella for everyone. Are you into film soundtracks? Then there’s Hans Zimmer, who is all set to play your favourite compositions from “The Lion King,” “Inception,” or “The Dark Knight.” Are you a jazz lover? Don’t miss out the New Orleans’ jazz veterans Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing on stage. Love electronica? Check out Aussie-based band The Avalanches. Other interesting acts include Bon Iver, Lorde, Future Islands and Pond, among others.

3. Innovative Cuisine and Pop-Up Restaurants

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No party or music festival is complete without lavish food and drink, and Coachella 2017 won’t disappoint. The menus of featured restaurants include delicacies like Peruvian burritos and Belgium Leige waffles, while the VIP section has three pop-up restaurants to satiate your taste buds. If you love the outdoors and desserts, check out Outstanding in the Field — and before you hit the mosh pit, hydrate yourself by sipping some exotic cocktails.

4. Interactive Art Is Everywhere

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Amidst the crowd, the desert heat, the raucous screams and the sweat, it’s easy to overlook one thing: that Coachella is actually very beautiful. And this is why the 2017 edition promises to be better than the last: there are to be more large-scale art installations. There’s also a growing sense of eco-consciousness that’s sure to infuse everything from the design of the stages to the placement of the installations. Don’t miss out on “Desert X,” an art biennale, which features art director Neville Wakefield and artist Phillip K Smith III. Also check out the exhibition “TRASHed- Art Of Recycling” and be inspired by innovative ideas to take home.

Coachella 2017, promises to be an audio-visual extravaganza like no other and will no doubt be the buzz of the entertainment industry for some time. With live music, all night-parties, massive art installations, delectable food and an eco-friendly atmosphere, a weekend at Coachella is something you’ll neither regret nor forget. However, to make the most of the experience, don’t forget to go through the itinerary, plan exactly what you’ll see and hear, arrive at the venue early and expect to be entertained beyond your wildest dreams.

Inspired by Coachella? Ready to turn your artistic inspiration into a new skill? Study the visual and performing arts at New York Film Academy.

National Pet Day: Our Favorite Pets in Movies

April 11 is a red letter day for all pet owners. Whether you’re a dog person or a cat lady or you prefer raising white mice, National Pet Day is the perfect day to shower your pets with love and gratitude for all the happiness they’ve given you over the years. And the entertainment industry is the perfect place to look to celebrate pets. Perhaps you can make the day even more special by watching a movie that features your favorite animal or bird that the main characters. Here are our picks.

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1. “Two Brothers” (2004)

This is a brave and heart-rending film about two tiger cubs, Kumar and Sangha, who are separated as cubs but finally reunite after a series of misadventures. Set in 1920s Cambodia during the period of French colonization, the period aesthetics are top notch and the film balances humour and heartache brilliantly.

2. “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kittens” (2006)

Following the success of its prequel, “Garfield: The Movie” (2004), this is a hilarious pet movie and features two Garfields. One Garfield is the titular cat from the comic strip most of us have grown up with who lives in the suburbs with frenemy dog Odie and his owner Jon, and the other Garfield is the heir to Carlyle Castle and lives in luxury. Due to a mishap, the two cats are switched and what follows is sheer insanity. This is sure to be a hit with kids.

3. “Marley And Me” (2008)

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A beautiful romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, “Marley and Me” covers 14 years of a dog’s life. In fact 22 different Labradors were used to play the part of Marley. Marley teaches the couple, and later their children, several important lessons and makes their lives fun, meaningful and exciting. This is the perfect pet-centric movie to watch with your family and pet dog(s).  

4. “Dunston Checks In” (1996)

An entertaining family flick, the movie follows adventures of an orangutan Dunston who befriends the sons of the hotel manager of a five star hotel and causes all manner of trouble and mischief. And here’s the secret about the adorable Dunston: he’s a very accomplished jewel thief.

5. “Babe” (1995)

Based on Dick King-Smith’s novel “The Sheep Pig,” this movie explores complex identity issues by following the story of a pig who wants to be a sheep dog. There is something intensely relatable about this film, and it has garnered critical acclaim, having been nominated for 7 Oscars, including Best Picture.

6. “War Horse” (2011)

If “Black Beauty” and “Moby Dick” were your favorite childhood classics, this Steven Spielberg movie won’t disappoint you. Starring big names such as Jeremy Irwine, David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston, the movie is set in the backdrop of the First World War and looks at the bond between young Albert and Joey, his thoroughbred bay horse.

7. “Jungle Book” (2016)

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For many of us, Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” contained a secret world of wild nature, a orphan boy raised by wolves, a ferocious tiger and a friendly bear. The recent Disney rendition of the same captures Kipling’s rich imagination vividly and brings your favorite childhood animals to the big screen.

8. “Zootopia” (2016)

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The ultimate animation film for the animal lover, “Zootopia” is a richly realized anthropomorphic world and details the unlikely friendship that slowly develops between a rabbit police officer and a cunning red fox. Using animals as metaphors, the movie comments on several societal issues in an entertaining and thought provoking manner. The movie even won an Oscar for the Best Animated Feature Film.

So what are your favorite movies featuring animals? Did our list of movies miss out on your pet? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re ready to learn how to make your own professional animal films, study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

Must-Visit Cities for Film Students Studying Abroad

Traveling is a great way to learn about the world and yourself. If you are pursuing a career in the film or arts and entertainment industries, nothing beats being in one of the world’s great cities to give you a new perspective or help you deepen your understanding of the rich history of the world — and the human stories within it. Traveling to new places gives you the chance to exchange ideas and spot new trends. Luckily, the New York Film Academy offers workshops and study opportunities all over the world.

Florence, Italy

The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is both ancient and modern. Whether your tastes run to the classics like Michelangelo or to more modern masters like Ottone Rosai, Florence has it all. If taste is your muse, explore the cafes and bistros. Director Franco Zeffirelli paid homage to his hometown in his 1999 film Tea with Mussolini.

Sydney and the Gold Coast, Australia

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From the rugged harbor and the Opera House in Sydney to the surfer’s paradise of the Gold Coast, Australia has something for both your cultivated and wild sides. Australia’s film industry has given the world “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” the Mad Max series, “Babe,” and “Shine.” Errol Flynn, Naomi Watts, Heath Ledger, Hugh Jackman, Peter Weir, and Baz Luhrmann are just a few of the actors and directors who hail from the Land Down Under.

Paris, France

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Fashion, food, film, and fine art — Paris has it all. There is so much to do and see in Paris, you’ll want to return again and again. Directors François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and many of the other people associated with French New Wave cinema called Paris home. So many films have been set in Paris, you’re sure to recognize dozens of landmarks everywhere you go.

Beijing, China

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From the spectacular Great Wall and Forbidden City to the more humble hútòng side streets, China’s capital city has something for every sort of traveler. Ancient buildings and modern skyscrapers share space in this sprawling city. China’s film industry has long and rich history and is one of the fastest-growing film industries in the world.

Athens, Greece

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Western dramatic traditions started with the ancient Greek playwrights and poets. Hundreds of films from “Zorba the Greek” to “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” have been set in Greece. Spend some time in Athens and visit ancient sites like the Acropolis and the Parthenon or brand new monuments like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, which houses the National Library and National Opera; wherever you go in Athens, you’ll be surrounded by art and culture.

 

Berlin, Germany

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One of the major centers of the German film industry, filmmakers have been flocking to Berlin nearly 100 years. Berlin’s film, fashion, and art industries have always been edgy and inventive. If you want to be ahead of the pack, start exploring in Berlin. The Berlin International Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in the world and takes place every February.

Doha, Qatar

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Home of the Doha Film Institute and the Al Jazeera Media Network, Doha is also a city that celebrates its status as a “world city” because it is a financial center of the Middle East. Doha is an architecture and engineering fan’s kind of place–many parts of the city of new, planned communities where designers are working to create building materials that can handle the rising temperatures.

 

Studying filmmaking and acting for film in a country other than your own gives you the opportunity to explore and experience the world in a one-of-a-kind way. Check out all New York FIlm Academy’s study abroad options to find where your NYFA journey can take you!

Famous Rejection Stories to Keep You Going

“Sorry, Charlie” — you’re not good enough. Every creative person, from writers and actors to producers, will deal with rejection at some point in his or her career. Whether it’s not landing a role, getting booed offstage, or not being accepted into film school, creatives have all encountered hard rejection. Aspiring visual and performing artists around the world, though, often draw inspiration and encouragement from the success stories of celebrities who have themselves persevered through rejection. Read the list to see some celebrities who encountered rejection and how their stories eventually turned out.

JK Rowling

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JK Rowling’s first manuscript of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was initially rejected by 12 different publishing houses. It was only accepted by publishing house Bloomsbury when the chairman’s eight-year-old daughter read the first chapter and demanded to see the second. Bloomsbury’s editor agreed to publish the manuscript, but advised Rowling to get a day job since there was no money in children’s books. She is now a billionaire author of the best-selling series in history, and a major figure in the literary scene.

Mark Ruffalo

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Mark Ruffalo, the Academy-Award-winning actor and producer, spent almost a decade bartending in Los Angeles while co-founding a theatre company. During this time he appeared in a number of films that were never released. His attempt at screenwriting, “The Destiny of Marty Fine,” also tanked; despite some critical acclaim, that movie was never released either. He auditioned tirelessly and finally began to land some small roles in high-profile films. His big break came in 2000 with “You Can Count On Me” alongside Laura Linney, now considered a cult classic. He is currently one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors and recently received an Academy Award nomination for his role in the film “Spotlight.”

Steven Spielberg

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Director and producer Steven Spielberg encountered speed bumps on his way to becoming one of cinema’s most influential figures. He was rejected not one, but three times from the University of Southern California’s film school due to his “C” grades in high school. In 1994, the school finally awarded him an honorary degree, and he became a trustee in 1996. Spielberg has won three Oscars and directed 51 films, with a current estimated wealth of $3 billion.  

Kerry Washington

Actress Kerry Washington, star of the acclaimed series “Scandal,” was originally cast in two other pilots. They both went to series, but Washington was fired and recast. As Washington told Variety magazine, “For both, it was because they wanted me to sound more ‘girlfriend,’ more like ‘hood,’ more ‘urban.'” For her role as Olivia Pope in “Scandal,” she has since been nominated twice for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series.

Leslie Jones

“Saturday Night Live” comedian Leslie Jones began her stand-up career in college, when she won a “Funniest Person on Campus” contest. After winning the contest, she left school and began performing at comedy clubs, working at UPS and Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles as a day job. Her first big break was at the Comedy Store in West Hollywood, where she received poor reviews. She later opened for Jamie Foxx and was booed by the audience; discouraged, she did not perform comedy for three years. She is now a cast member and writer on SNL, with her own comedy special on Showtime and a starring role in the remake of “Ghostbusters.”

What are your favorite stories of artists overcoming rejection? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re ready to dust yourself off and try your hand at chasing your dreams, why not check out the New York Film Academy’s many short-term and long-term programs?

How to Incorporate History in Your Work: Filmmaking Lessons from NYFA Florence

In the historic city of Florence, your filmmaking opportunities are endless. Florence is where the Renaissance began, a cultural movement that inspired some of the most significant artistic contributions of all time. Awaken your inner Michaelangelo and bring your ideas to life in one of Italy’s most film-friendly cities, at NYFA’s Florence location! It’ll be the best educational investment you’ll ever make.

Florence is the perfect city for artists of all mediums. This is especially true for filmmakers. The creative roots of Florence run deep, a claim proven by its vast collection of art. There are so many sights, sounds, and cultural icons around to create perfect scenes for historical films. Throughout its entire history, Florence has attracted groundbreaking creative minds due a nourishing blend of the beautiful atmosphere and a vibrant artistic culture. You, too, can become a part of that tradition and inspire your own Renaissance!

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The New York Film Academy’s Florence campus sits directly across from the famous Basilica di San Lorenzo church, the place where the Medici Chapels are located. Why not cast someone as Michelangelo, shoot at the Sagrestia Nuova, and add a spark of your own creativity to history? Better yet, go to the Galleria which is also conveniently located by the New York Film Academy. There, you’ll find David, Michelangelo’s most famous statue. You can even have Michelangelo himself tell your audience what’s on his mind in the presence of his original art. What a fitting way to recreate history through your own lens! Recreate the lives and times of the Medici family members along with other prominent historical figures.

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And historical films are just one option — you can enhance and enliven any genre of film with the visual treasures of Florence. Why not film your own romance in Florence and the surrounding countryside of Tuscany? Films like “Under the Tuscan Sun” can serve as an inspiration as you explore ways to use the backdrop of Florence to support a love story, a comedy, or a tale of transformation.

In Florence, your filmmaking opportunities are only as limited as your imagination. The New York Film Academy in Florence is within close vicinity to many beautiful and inspiring sights, including to Piazza del Duomo, or “cathedral square.” Let your audience absorb your story though the eloquent architecture and scenery of Florence. Create a film that is a psychological thriller, a mystery, or a thought-provoking spiritual quest and incorporate shots of old cathedral architecture. Go to Santa Maria Novella and shoot a vintage mass to add a touch of the gothic to your film. These religious structures give your audience a direct taste of history through a setting most people are otherwise familiar with. You won’t be able to find rare sights like those in Florence anywhere else.

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Florence is the home of artistry and architecture. The New York Film Academy’s campus is also right near the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval-looking bridge that has stood the test of time. Historians believe it was built during Roman rule. The Ponte Vecchio even survived World War II Hitler’s rule when he ordered all of Florence’s bridges to be torn down. Just one shot of it can take your audience back in time — or forward, as you use the unique scenery of Florence to set the stage and help you create your own world through film. With some clever shoots and costume design, you can utilize Italian history, fabulous art, and iconic architecture as you build a new vision to share with the world.

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As you can see, the New York Film Academy’s Florence location has so much to offer its students. Take advantage of every sunny day you can to film in Florence’s best quality of light. This opportunity is golden for those looking to make the most out of their education. Make the best of your film education and say “carpe diem” to Florence!

Interested in studying with NYFA Florence? Learn more!

 

NYFA Mumbai: Inspiration From Bollywood

Oh, Bollywood! From tragic epics to side-splitting comedies, the Hindi film industry  based in Mumbai, India) has blessed us with numerous classic films since its inception in 1913. As one of the world’s largest film industries, Bollywood provides no shortage of inspiration; deep character portrayals, riveting love stories, and humorous adventures lie in wait for the intrepid viewer. Whether you’re preparing to study at NYFA Mumbai or are simply a film enthusiast, here are a few great Bollywood movies to satisfy, intrigue, and inspire you along your film journey.

“Mughal-e-Azam” (1960)

This epic historical drama is considered a landmark in Hindi cinema, holding the top-grossing box office record for 15 years after its release — and for good reason. It’s the tale of a sweeping romance between a young Mughal prince and his forbidden love, which leads to a war between the prince and his father the king. Also of note is the soundtrack, which received universal critical acclaim and features some of Bollywood’s most famous songs. The sheer scope of this movie, as well as its high cost for the time, set a new high standard for Hindi film quality.  

“Anand” (1971)

With a title meaning “Bliss,” this graceful drama tells the story of a physician who draws inspiration from a lively and cheerful end-stage cancer patient. Although originally a low-budget film, it has become a cult classic since its release. Lead actors Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan both received significant praise for their emotionally resonant performances. If you’re in the mood for a film with pure heart, rent “Anand” to restore your faith in humanity.

“3 Idiots” (2009)

You know a comedy is pure gold when it’s remade as far away as Mexico and China. This riotous romp follows the lives of three students learning that friendship isn’t just something out of an engineering textbook. Its appeal reached beyond India, becoming one of the most popular movies in Southeast Asia — and even Hollywood briefly dabbled with creating an American version. If you’re feeling crushed under the weight of your studies, take a short break to watch the light-hearted “3 Idiots” and sympathize with the stress of school.   

“Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” (1998)

If you’re looking for an excellent coming-of-age story, look no further than this film from famed director Karan Johar. This heartfelt drama combines two intertwining love triangles set years apart. On-screen pair Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan have an undeniable chemistry that cements this film as a cult classic. Don’t forget to check out a young Sana Saeed, a NYFA alumna, as a young girl struggling under the weight of family secrets. This was the first Bollywood film to ever crack the UK’s Top Ten.

“PK” (2014)

Bollywood isn’t all romance and tragedy, as this science fiction satire proves. “PK” tells the story of an alien who falls to earth and becomes friends with a television journalist. It received both critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time. Aamir Khan, one of Bollywood’s most influential actors, played the scene-stealing lead role of the confused alien to much praise from viewers.

Inspired to learn more about filmmaking? Study with NYFA Mumbai!

Hollywood Blockbusters You Didn’t Know Were Filmed in Gold Coast, Australia

Location can be the most important part of a movie. Production designers will painstakingly search for the perfect location to fit with the vision of a film. While cities like New York or Los Angeles are considered ideal sites, many Hollywood blockbusters were filmed in an Australian coastal city called Gold Coast.

Within the last decade, Australia has become a popular place to shoot big budget films. And the city of Gold Coast, along the eastern seaboard, has the most diverse locations in a small area. From white sandy beaches to lush jungles to grassy fields to a sprawling urban city, Gold Coast is able to cater to films set in any location. The bustling film industry in the Gold Coast makes it an ideal location for students to study the visual and performing arts.

NYFA Australia’s campus in Gold Coast recently expanded into a 22,000 sq. ft. (approx. 2,000sqm) state-of-the-art facility at Southport Central, encompassing a 90 seat theatre, automated dialogue replacement (ADR) room, editing rooms, post production rooms, production workshop studio, acting rooms with sprung floors for voice and movement classes and a sizeable equipment room. Students also have exclusive access to NYFA Australia’s own production studios on the backlot of Village Roadshow Studios, a working international film studio and the set of many a Hollywood blockbuster.

If you’re surprised to hear that Gold Coast is Hollywood’s second home and want to understand how strategic NYFA Gold Coast’s location is, here are 5 Hollywood blockbusters you didn’t know were filmed in Gold Coast, Australia:

“Aquaman” (2018)

It is widely known that superhero movies are on the rise in the film industry. And one of the most anticipated superhero movies is currently being filmed at Village Roadshow Studios. Starring Jason Mamoa (“Game of Thrones”), Amber Heard (“The Danish Girl”) and Patrick Wilson (“Watchman”), this action-packed film tells the long-awaited story of the superhero of the seas. The filming location might have something to do with the fact that Village Roadshow Studios has the largest purpose-built film water tank in Australia.

“San Andreas” (2015)

With improvements in CGI and other technologies, disaster films have become a huge part of the entertainment industry. This blockbuster starring Dwayne Johnson (“Fast and the Furious” series) shows major earthquakes along the unstable San Andreas Fault in California. You might wonder why a movie located in California would film in Gold Coast, Australia. Maybe it is because Village Roadshow House boasts state-of-the-art studio facilities that bring this disaster movie to life.

“Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010)

The studio’s massive water tank also came in handy while creating the third film in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The film follows Lucy, Edmund, and their cousin Eustace as they travel across the sea with Prince Caspian aboard the Dawn Treader. The cast includes stars Tilda Swinton (“Constantine”), Liam Neeson (“Taken”), and Simon Pegg (“Star Trek”). The state-of-the-art construction workshops at Village Roadshow House were a perfect space to build the Dawn Treader. Though the film was destined to be the last of the 20th Century Fox series, it was in the top 30 highest grossing films of 2010.

“Fool’s Gold” (2008)

Starring Matthew McConaughey (“Interstellar”) and Kate Hudson (“Deep Water HorizonI), “Fool’s Gold” follows a couple trying to rekindle their failed marriage while hunting for treasure in the Bahamas. This adventure/romantic comedy was originally supposed to be filmed in the Caribbean. However, potential hurricanes forced the crew to move their location to Gold Coast. But with Gold Coast’s blue waters and white, sandy beaches, audiences couldn’t tell the difference!

“Thor: Ragnorak” (2017)

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“Aquaman” is not the only superhero movie Village Roadshow Studios is filming. The third part in Marvel’s Thor series is set for release this year and boasts an all-star cast with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins. The crew exclusively used all nine of the studio’s sound stages, one of which is the largest sound stage in the southern hemisphere.

Luckily, New York Film Academy Australia students have access to all of these facilities and technologies at Village Roadshow House through its NYFA AU Gold Coast.

Interested in learning filmmaking in the heart of Gold Coast’s film industry? Check out NYFA Australia’s Gold Coast campus.

Friday Reads: Best Binge-Worthy Shows to Watch Before Your May Classes Start

NYFA’s upcoming intake dates in May 2017 mean that it’s almost time for you to begin your journey into the world’s most intensive, hands-on visual and performing arts education. With classes starting right around the corner, your television binging time will soon become scarce. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting the editing lab instead of the couch and writing scripts instead of changing the channels. So order some takeout and use the most of your precious remaining free time to get caught up on these great binge-worthy shows. You owe yourself a good binge, after all!

“Stranger Things” (Netflix)

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Believe the hype: this ‘80s throwback really is that good, and it features NYFA guest lecturer and board of directors member Matthew Modine! The show is a driven by a gaping, chilling air of suspense in a Goonies-meets-X-Files mystery that somehow manages to evoke nostalgia without retreading tired content. Fresh and eerie, “Stranger Things” is an easy binge with only eight episodes to tell its tightly-wound story. Especially of note are the fantastic performances, which recently garnered the cast the SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series.

“Santa Clarita Diet” (Netflix)

This 10-episode comedy-horror combines the disparate worlds of California real estate and … zombies? Flesh-eating realtor Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and her husband (Timothy Olyphant) navigate Sheila’s new reality of needing to feast on human flesh. Consider yourself warned: The show has been slammed for its graphic depictions of gore, but overall it’s been both a critical and commercial success.

“Westworld” (HBO)

This is a show you’ll want to binge on and then rewatch for all the subtle nuances that you may have missed the first time around. As one of the more original shows on television, “Westworld” (created by the fiendish imagination of Michael Crichton) is the story of a Wild West theme park where the tourist can do anything … yes, anything. It’s a chilling reflection on the state of humanity, made even creepier by the eerily conflicted figure of its creator (Anthony Hopkins). If you’re looking for a philosophical binge, “Westworld” may be your fix.

“Outlander” (STARZ)

Currently on its second season, “Outlander” is just plain fun to watch. It’s the entertaining drama of a World War Two-era nurse (Caitriona Balfe) who travels back in time to 1700s Scotland, only to fall in love with a handsome rebel Scot (Sam Heughan). Based on the bodice-ripping romance novel series by Diana Gabaldon, this addictive show features an attractive cast set against the gorgeous backdrop of both Paris and the Scottish Highlands. Less reliant on the fast-paced intricacy of “Game of Thrones” or the beguiling philosophical questions of “Westworld,” this show anchors its binge-worthy chemistry in Balfe and Heughan, who make an exceptional screen pair that you won’t want to miss.  

“Narcos” (Netflix)

If you haven’t watched the first season, make sure to get caught up on this show quickly! Both seasons make for a great two-day binge, especially Season 2 as the hunt for Pablo Escobar begins to heat up. Wagner Moura turns in a fantastic character performance as the heavyset and volatile Escobar, while “Game of Thronesactor Pedro Pascal serves as the lean and hungry officer determined to take Pablo down.

Don’t forget to check out our many programs beginning May 2017, and beyond.

Women’s History Month: Women to Know Behind the Camera

Who are the first people you think of when you hear “successful director, screenwriter, or producer”? Unfortunately for a lot of people, they may only know male names — but there are important women to know behind the camera. We’ve previously discussed gender inequality in film, but how can we all help to make more inclusive improvements in the entertainment industry as a whole? Start by educating both yourself and others about notable women who work tirelessly to bring you amazing film. 

In honor of Women’s History Month and bridging the gender gap in the entertainment industry, the New York Film Academy spotlights seven women who are behind-the-scenes of your favorite TV shows and movies:

Haifaa Al-Mansou

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The first Saudi female filmmaker, Haifaa Al-Mansour is a controversial director to some. Her films “Who?,” “The Bitter Journey,” and “Women Without Shadows” have touched on sensitive topics regarding women’s issues. Regardless of hate mail and criticism for being “unreligious,” Al-Mansour is unafraid to make outstanding films with touchy topics. One of her recent projects has been writing and directing the upcoming film “Mary Shelley,” set to release this year.

Julia Roberts

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You know Roberts for her roles in “Pretty Woman,” “Notting Hill,” “Runaway Bride,” and “Mystic Pizza,” but did you know she has also produced a few films? Alongside Canadian director Patricia Rozema and screenwriter Valerie Tripp, Roberts was in charge of producing the movie adaptation of the American Girl character Kit Kittredge called “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.” Roberts also produced the films for the American Girl characters Felicity and Samantha. She has also produced “Extraordinary Moms,” a TV documentary about motherhood as well as the film “Jesus Henry Christ.”

Mira Nair

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Starting her career off as an actress, Nair transitioned into directing a variety of different films including documentary shorts, full-length films, and more. She owns the production company Mirabai Films, which has produced specific films on Indian culture for a broad audience. The accomplished India-native most recently directed the Disney film “Queen of Katwe, about a young Ugandan girl who dominates the world of competitive chess.

Diablo Cody

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The “Juno” and “Jennifer’s Body” writer wears many hats, including screenwriter, producer, actress, and former exotic dancer. Cody’s writing often features a female character with daily insecurities and issues who also has an underlying major struggle. In the New York Times, Cody said, “The attitude toward women in [the film] industry is nauseating. There are all sorts of porcine executives who are uncomfortable with a woman doing anything subversive. They want the movie about the beautiful girl who trips and falls, the adorable klutz.”

Ava DuVernay

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DuVernay is an indie writer, producer, and director of all kinds of film mediums including TV shows, movies, and documentaries. She has been nominated for four Golden Globes and two Academy Awards for her work. Recently, her documentary “The 13th” has been a hit success on Netflix and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Political Commentary. DuVernay’s film “Selma” received critical acclaim and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture.

Lana and Lilly Wachowski (The Wachowskis)

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Formerly known as the Wachowski Brothers before both coming out as trans women, the Wachowskis wrote and directed “The Matrix” and their sequels as well as other ground-breaking sci-fi films. You may know works such as “V for Vendetta,” the film adaptation of “Cloud Atlas,” and “Jupiter Ascending,” all films the sisters have written and directed.

Who are your favorite female film directors? Let us know in the comments below! And check out NYFA’s directing programs to learn more about becoming a film director.

How to Use Crowdfunding Sites Like Kickstarter & Indiegogo to Fund Your Film

Nothing speaks to the independent filmmaking spirit quite like crowdfunding. Not only can you get your project made without relying on traditional top-down sources, but also a successful campaign demonstrates your film’s marketability to potential distributors. Not all crowdfunding campaigns have the built-in fan base of the wildly successful “The Veronica Mars Film Project,” so we’ve gathered some tips and resources to help you make sure your crowdfunding campaign reaches, or even surpasses, its goal.

Do Your Homework

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As we mentioned in this article comparing crowdfunding sites, you need to know the particulars of the platform and choose accordingly. Kickstarter and Indiegogo both have track records of funding successful filmmaking projects, and looking at their film and video specific project pages makes clear that trending projects include feature films, documentaries and shorts. GoFundMe, on the other hand, has gone in another direction with the majority of its campaigns being personal rather than creative. Also, keep in mind that Indiegogo allows users to collect and keep funds as the campaign proceeds, while Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing game, where you must choose a deadline and a minimum goal that you must meet in order to collect funds.

Hit the Ground Running

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Do your research and have everything in place before your campaign starts. Whatever platform you choose, spend some time perusing projects, especially those that seem similar to your own. Both the successes and failures can help you.

Also, try to line up PR before launching. Doing the work before the campaign clock starts ticking will give you a better chance of success. According to this article at CrowdCrux.com, gaining the interest of strangers is most likely to occur within the first three days of launching: “At this stage, you will be in the recently launched tab and if you hustle and get supporters early, you can become a trending project.” After that window, it gets much harder.  

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Story

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Setting up your project page with a clear, concise, and compelling story including visuals and a realistic budget is vital. According to Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook, “there are some basic questions you should answer including: ‘Who are you? What are you planning to make? Where did this project come from? What’s your plan, and what’s your schedule?’” In other words, you want to transmit your passion and excitement to potential backers, while assuring them that you are qualified and capable of bringing the idea to life.

Attract the Low Rollers

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Remember that the beauty of crowdfunding is that many backers with shallow pockets can take the place of one or two execs with deep pockets — but, they will also want return on their investment. According to this Entrepreneur.com article, the most popular pledge amount at Kickstarter is $25, so you want to make sure “the affordable perks don’t run out too fast, or you risk losing potential backers who can’t afford steeper offerings.”

Filmmakers are lucky to have built-in social media minions in the way of cast and crew. However, don’t rely on them to come up with their own mini-campaigns. Give them shareable items that they can customize for their own network. Most Kickstarter campaigns don’t go viral, but that doesn’t mean they don’t succeed. Don’t be shy to reach out to friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances and everybody you can think of that might be interested.

Have you managed a successful crowdfunding campaign? Tell us your experience in the comments below. And learn more about filmmaking and producing with a variety of short- and long-term programs at the New York Film Academy.

The Best Foreign Films to Watch Before You Study Abroad

As you prepare for study abroad with NYFA, no doubt there are a lot of items on your to-do list — but we’re here today to remind you of a pre-travel essential that you won’t want to forget. Whether you are preparing for a course from NYFA Florence to NYFA Australia or NYFA Mumbai, watching a film created in your destination country can be an enjoyable way to kickstart your international education experience. Certain well-made films exemplify their quality through their ability to captivate the audience. They draw us in. They make the real world — our own lives — fade away, and we are engulfed by the cinematic universe (the diegesis) of the film. Some of the most enjoyable movies take us to a new, entirely foreign place and make every detail of its people, rituals, landscape, and culture magical.

One of the best ways to get excited before studying abroad and prepared for your venture into a very different world is to watch films that are based on the places you may study or visit. Listed below are some of the most enchanting foreign films from across the globe.

“Amélie” (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

If you’re planning to study in France at NYFA Paris, this incredibly famous flick must not be missed. It follows Amélie, a quirky, imaginative romantic, who decides that her purpose in life is to help other people. The film traipses all over Paris, painting the city with wonder and mystery. It also nods, stylistically, to the films of the French New Wave, which, if you have time, are another essential as you prepare for your international education in film (see: “The 400 Blows” and “A Woman is a Woman”).

“Poetry” (Lee Chang-dong, 2010)

 

If you’re preparing to study in Asia at NYFA Beijing, NYFA Shanghai, NYFA Kyoto, or NYFA Seoul, this film may offer you extra inspiration. In this drama, a woman in her mid-60s signs up for a local poetry writing class. As she begins to fall in love with poetry, she discovers that she has Alzheimer’s disease. The reflective, emotionally electric film includes beautiful landscape shots of South Korean suburbs.

“Neighbouring Sounds” (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2012)

Ideal for students preparing to venture to NYFA Rio de Janeiro, this film, shot in the Brazilian city of Recife, follows a variety of characters around the neighborhood. Some residents are bourgeois, living in buildings with high security or gated communities. Others have little money, and they show their distaste for the wealth disparity by performing small acts of rebellion. The film is acclaimed for its artful uses of sound and cinemascope.

“Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)

Gearing up for a study abroad adventure at NYFA Berlin? Check out this film first. In this West German film, Emmi, a 60-year-old German hausfrau, and Ali, a younger Moroccan Gastarbeiter, fall in love, despite ideological backlash from family, society, and eventually, even each other. With beautifully crafted indoor and outdoor shots — particularly in the famous scene where Ali and Emmi sit in a park amidst a sea of yellow chairs — this film weaves together cultural contradictions in order to portray a deeper and more meaningful tale of forbidden love.

Studying filmmaking or acting for film with NYFA is an exceptionally rich and enlightening way for students of all backgrounds to expand their knowledge and gain a new perspective on the world. Interested in learning about all our NYFA international locations? Contact us, and begin your own study abroad adventure.

5 Great Filmmaking Podcasts for Film Buffs, Nerds, & Everyone Else

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Not all filmmaking podcasts are created equal. Browse the TV & Film category on iTunes and you will quickly be overwhelmed by the quantity and variability of quality. We’ve done the ear-work for you and found six podcasts that bring together practical information, behind-the-scenes insight, and great conversation to deepen your knowledge and appreciation of filmmaking.

1. WTF with Marc Maron

This may not be strictly a filmmaking podcast, but Maron‘s lengthy conversations with such influential directors as former NYFA guest speaker Ron Howard and self-producing comedians such as Louis C.K. are so in-depth, personal and full of stories about the biz and how projects get made, that you are unlikely to find a more educational show. Besides, we’re pretty sure no filmmaking podcast can say they interviewed Obama while he was president.

2. Filmspotting

A couple of guys geeking out, arguing about and analyzing movies to within an inch of their lives is what this film-crazed podcast is all about. Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen offer their dedicated listeners to best-of lists and lively arguments about the good, the bad and the unsung in cinema. You would have to be a professional film buff not to discover a new title in every show. A favorite episode includes a hotly debated review of “Ruby Sparks,” best-of movies-about-writers lists, and a marvelous analysis of “The Mirror as part of their Iranian Cinema marathon.

3. The Treatment

Film critic Elvis Mitchell always manages to get his illustrious guests to open up and talk intimately and intelligently about their craft. This is a show where you will hear multiple sides to the filmmaking story, for example, one episode features an interview with “Captain Fantastic writer/director Matt Ross and another with Captain Fantastic himself, actor Viggo Mortensen.

4. Monetizing Your Creativity

Canadian hosts Marvin Polis and Fred Keating interview actors, cinematographers, writers, producers, curators of film fests, and many more. Although it is not dedicated to filmmaking, you will find many charming, informational and succinct interviews that focus on “the success principles common to all disciplines.” Check out “Fargo” cinematographer Dana Gonzales (#110), and documentary filmmaker Viveka Melki (#104 to get a taste of this unique podcast’s wide-angle approach.

5. IndieWire – Screen Talk

This is a podcast for those who want to know how things work in the indie film world and beyond. Hosted by IndieWire‘s chief film critic Eric Kohn and Thompson on Hollywood‘s Anne Thompson, this no frills podcast fills you in on film fests, new releases and awards ceremonies big and small. Recent episodes consider subjects as diverse as the Foreign Language Oscar Shortlist and Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Do you have a favorite filmmaking or film buff podcast? Let us know in the comments below. To learn more about filmmaking, contact us for more information about NYFA’s Filmmaking School.

Black History Month Recap: A Q&A With NYFA Faculty

As Black History Month comes to a close, New York Film Academy celebrates the diversity and strength of its community. We had a chance to sit down with a few members of our faculty to hear their insights and inspirations in light of this important month. Joining the discussion are NYFA’s Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department Nancy Kwang Johnson; digital editing instructor and professional Hollywood editor Leander Sales; and film directing instructor and Chair of Community Outreach Mason Richards.

Here is what they had to say:

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Nancy Kwang Johnson

NYFA: Can you share a little about your career or journey in the entertainment industry, and what has driven your success? What makes you get up in the morning? What are you working for?

Leander Sales: I got into the industry because Spike Lee was determine to see more diversity in the film industry and I was determine to be part of this industry. The joys and duties of being a parent [are what get me up in the morning]. I’m generally a very optimistic person and I look forward to what the future may hold. [I’m working for] My kids and making more movies.

Mason Richards: The film industry is extremely rigorous and challenging because there is no real clear path to success, therefore it takes an extreme amount of tenacity and vigor to navigate. The industry is such that in order to be able to tell your own story, you have to work extremely hard. It’s also a great feeling when you get those opportunities to share your journey and tell the stories that matter most to you.

NYFA: Tell us about the first time you saw a character or story on the big screen that really resonated with you culturally and that you felt you could personally identify with. What was that moment like for you?

Leander Sales: Seeing “Cooley High” and getting a chance to meet the director, Michael Schultz.

Mason Richards: One of my favorite films of all time is “To Sir, With Love” directed by James Clavell — the film tells the story of an idealistic engineer-trainee and his experiences in teaching a group of rambunctious high school students from the slums of London’s East End. One of the reasons I love this film is because it stars one of my favorite actors of all time, Sidney Poitier; and this film was the first time I saw someone on the big screen who was from my birth country, Guyana, South America. It was a great feeling then, and it’s always a great feeling when you see strong characters in leading roles that reflect your identity.

Nancy Kwang Johnson: I am Korean and African American.  My great grandmother on my father’s side is full-blooded Cherokee.  As a result, as a teenager, I would empathize and hold onto every word of Cher’s hit song, “Half Breed.”  

As far as languages go, I grew up in a household with two parents who were fluent in Korean.  As a result, my mother tongue is, and will always be Korean; it’s the only language that I can speak without an accent.  I teach in French and English, and I speak basic Albanian and Wolof.

Because of my mixed racial heritage, I always had two types of dolls when I was growing up – an African American doll and a Korean doll adorned in the national costume (hanbok).  As I did not have dolls that actually looked like me, I gravitated towards female role models on the silver screen – tv and film – who were also mixed like me.  

From the onset, I would gravitate towards my namesake, Nancy Kwan (of “The World of Susie Wong”) as she was my mother’s (Kwang’s) favorite actress and [she] had been on the set of “Susie Wong” during her pregnancy.  

As a child, I was a huge fan of the television show called “Zoom,” because one of the cast members was Puerto Rican, also named Nancy, and looked like me (for example, she wore her hair in two braids). As a teenager, I gravitated towards Irene Cara of the hit show, “Fame” (1980) and Tai Babilonia (the 1980s Olympics hopeful). Why? As a Korean and African-American female teenager, it was refreshing to see aspiring actresses and Olympic-calibre figure skaters break the boundaries of race and gender on the silver screen.

Throughout my college years at Vassar, I would have to say that the person who made the most impression on me would have to be Jennifer Beals of “Flashdance” (1983) for a number of reasons. Jennifer Beals, like myself, was bi-racial, had an upbringing in Chicago, and is also a fellow Ivy Leaguer. She attended Yale and I attended Cornell.  

In 2012, I was invited to the first White House Korean-American briefing.  On this momentous occasion, I would have to confess that of the 150 plus Korean-Americans in attendance I was one of two Korean-Americans who had an African-American parent.

The French have a saying, “…bien dans sa eau (to be comfortable within one’s skin).  With respect to images on and off of the silver screen coupled with the absence of images – that look like me – I am comfortable within my skin.

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Mason Richards

NYFA: Is there a particular film, piece of art, or Black artist that has had a profound impact on your life? Why?

Mason Richards: I’m inspired by the art of Jean Michel Basquiat, not only because of his use of color, form and medium, but also for his ability to tell his personal stories through art – this inspires me as a filmmaker. 

Leander Sales: James Baldwin’s books have been very important to me because while I lived abroad, I often found myself reading his book of essays “Nobody Knows My Name.” Why? His essays gave me deep insight into American and European racism.

NYFA: What stories would you like to see brought to the screen that are yet untold?

Leander Sales: There are many, but I would like to see more movies like “Hidden Figures,” “Malcolm X,” etc. I guess you would say historical which may be movies we may find on Netflix.

NYFA: How have you seen the industry shift or grow over time in terms of diversity in representation?

Leander Sales: Recently, things are getting very interesting after a few years of #OscarsSoWhite. We will see if this is temporary.

NYFA: What is your favorite moment from Black television history?

Leander Sales: I have to say my favorite moment was when I realized we, as a people, have a lot of work ahead of us. Why? We have so much to offer to this world. Our talents and genius has made this world a better place. Can you imagine America without African Americans?

NYFA: How does your culture, environment, and experience inspire your artwork?

Leander Sales: Many things have influence me, but visiting Africa six times really gave me a deeper understanding of who we are as a people and who I am as an individual.

Mason Richards: I like to tell stories that reflect the world we live in. Film is a beautiful medium to inspire, reveal, and share different views and perspectives of the world.

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Leander Sales

NYFA: Any words of wisdom for aspiring black artists and creators?

Leander Sales: Put in the work. Climb to the top and throw the rope back down.

Mason Richards:  It’s really important for any artist or filmmaker to tell their own personal truths; and although this can be intimidating and challenging at times, it’s an amazing feeling when you get to see your story, your personal truth, and your own narrative on the big screen.

NYFA: Is there anything we’ve missed that you’d like to speak on?

Nancy Kwang Johnson: Having lived abroad (namely, South Korea, France, Senegal, Canada, and Albania), I learned very quickly that the manner in which race is conceptualized in the U.S. differs greatly from its European, Asian, and African counterparts. As a result, I have become accustomed to the social construction of race, and know that in the U.S. people tend to fixate on the one-drop rule (if you have one drop of Black blood then you are black). For example, in the U.S., people tend to categorize me as Black albeit I self-identify as Korean and Black, or I will check the “other” box and list both Korean and Black.

On the other hand, all of the other countries that I have lived in (such as South Korea, France, Senegal, Canada, and Albania), I am deemed as the exotic “other” and racial mixing is more accepted. In South Korea, I have the same racial mixture as Hines Ward. In France, Parisians approach me and greet me in Polynesian. In Senegal, I am called “Madame Chinoise.” In Canada, I am classified as a Francophone and a First Nations member. And in Albania, I am dubbed the Francophone Ivy Leaguer with North Korean ancestry who is also biracial like President Obama.

New York Film Academy would like to thank Nancy Kwang Johnson, Leander Sales, and Mason Richards for taking the time to share a part of their stories with our community.

Not Just the City of Lights: What you Can Learn About Film in Paris

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There’s nothing wrong with studying film all your life in America. After all, cities like Hollywood and New York boast some of the best film schools in the world. But if you’re looking to study abroad and see the world through a different kind of lens, here’s why we recommend NYFA’s Paris location in the City of Lights:

Discover A New Place

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There’s something exciting about visiting the set of your favorite film. It’s the reason 2013 marked the 500,000th guest to travel all the way to Wellington, New Zealand, to see Hobbiton. Even if a place looks different in reality than in film, it’s interesting seeing how the filmmakers used the place to tell their stories.

Imagine walking through one of the most famous film locations of all time. The city of Paris is a sight to behold as you marvel in its historical beauty, fine art, and rich culture. Only by visiting yourself can you see why it’s more than a popular tourist location — it’s where movies have been shot since the dawn of filmmaking. You’ll have an opportunity to investigate and understand in new ways the choices of filmmakers who pioneered new styles and forms, including French New Wave.

As a filmmaker, you’ll no doubt gain new ideas and inspiration from a city known for its beauty and style.

Find Inspiration From of the Best Films of all Time

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One thing you can expect to do as a filmmaking student in Paris is to watch a lot of films. Like a game developer or musician, you should be studying other people’s work to learn different styles and techniques you may want to know and master. The only thing better than watching excellent films is getting out there and putting your own directing skills to practice. At NYFA Paris, you’ll have the opportunity to do just that, through a hands-on education that encourages you to create your own original work.

Some of the best movies ever made were filmed in Paris. These include recent critical successes like Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amélie,” winner of multiple BAFTA Awards, César Awards, and Best Film at the European Film Awards. “The 400 Blows,” which is considered the best French film ever made, is a 1959 drama film that was also shot in Paris.

Whether you’re exploring the vibrant streets or shooting your own project, there’s something special about knowing you’re in a city where other filmmakers created their masterpieces.

Explore the Top French Film School

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La Fémis, where NYFA Paris courses are held, is one of those schools every aspiring filmmaker should attend at least once in their lifetime. Established in 1943, the Paris-based film and television school and gone on to be ranked as one of the top international film institutions in the world. It was listed as third best by The Hollywood Reporter in 2014 and is part of a world-class federal research university named PSL Research University.

Previous alumni have also proven it’s one of the best places to discover your voice and master the art of filmmaking. Graduates have won everything from the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion, Cannes Film Festival’s Golden Palm, and Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear. It is currently the most rewarded film school in the world and follows a curriculum that constantly puts students behind the camera.

Where better to learn and grow as a filmmaker than in the city responsible for some of cinema’s greatest evolutions?

Visit Where New Wave Was Born

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In Paris, you’ll be where one of the most important movements in cinema’s history took place. To this day, techniques adopted by New Wave filmmakers continue influencing movies long after they were introduced. What started out in one city in the mid-1950s eventually spread throughout the globe.

A lot of the characteristics that defined New Wave cinema may not have emerged anywhere else. This is because France was in an economic crisis after World War II, and thus filmmakers had to approach their projects differently. New Wave films are recognized by their low budgets, on-location shots and sound, anti-authoritarian heroes, improvised dialogue, and unique Mise-en-shots and editing.

While studying in Paris, you’ll learn about the French New Wave from professors who grew up watching and idolizing these fantastic films.

Interested in studying filmmaking in Paris with NYFA? Learn more here.