movies

How Does ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Fit the Biopic Mold?

Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of rock band Queen and iconic frontman Freddie Mercury, has already won Best Drama at the Golden Globes and is a contender for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It’s also the latest in a long line of biopics about famous 20th century musicians, including Ray, Walk the Line, La Vie en Rose, Get on Up, and Straight Outta Compton.

How does Bohemian Rhapsody fit the mold? Here are some of the most important ingredients to gather into making a successful biopic:

The Roots

Many biopics start with at least a scene from the subject’s childhood, and if they don’t, they usually at least include flashbacks. Bohemian Rhapsody is no different, giving us a look where Mercury is originally from.

The Love Interest

Biopics tend to distill the love life of their subject to one or two key relationships that define and drive the character’s motivations and keep them grounded as their fame and world explode. The focus around Mercury’s relationship with Mary Austin is prominent among the rest of Mercury’s several romantic partnerships, men and women alike. The real-life Austin approved the script but didn’t want to be involved in interviews or in any promotion of the film whatsoever.

The Music

While some biopics avoid playing the hits of their subject due to expensive or inaccessible music rights, many rely on their iconic soundtracks as a huge selling point for the film. Queen’s hits are numerous, catchy, and famous, so of course Bohemian Rhapsody includes as many as it can. Indeed, much of the film is shot as if it were concert footage to mimic what it was like to be at an actual Queen show.

Lookalike Stars

Hollywood has no shortage of talented stars, so often casting a biopic depends heavily on physical looks–to help sell the idea that audiences are watching true events unfold. Rami Malek not only physically transforms into Freddie Mercury, but is a strong talented actor–it’s no surprise he’s nominated for Best Lead Actor at this year’s Academy Awards, especially after winning the Golden GLobe for his performance.

The Title

Most biopics avoid naming themselves after their subject–that would be too on the nose. Instead, most go with a song title from the artist, often one of their bigger hits. This includes Beyond the Sea, Walk the Line, What’s Love Got to Do With It?, Get on Up, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and of course, Bohemian Rhapsody.

So what’s next for the Hollywood biopic? Well for one, later this year in theaters we’ll see an Elton John biopic titled, naturally, Rocketman. In the meantime, we’ll find out soon if Bohemian Rhapsody is not only a hit biopic, but also this year’s Best Picture!

5 Great Netflix Original Films of 2018

Netflix continued to dominate the television industry in 2018, coming out on top with 112 nominees at last year’s Emmy Awards, and boasted more than 60 original films released this year (and counting). From comedies to dramas — and its fair share of documentaries — a tidal wave of strong, original content coming from the streaming platform continues to make it more and more difficult for us to leave the couch.

So, for those of you with no reservations about continuously filling in those perfected couch grooves, here is a list of the great original films Netflix released in 2018:

6 Balloons

In an unexpected pivot from their usual comedic roles, James Franco and Abby Jacobson play a heroin addict and his loving-yet-enabling sister in this heartfelt drama. Barely feature-length at 71 minutes, 6 Balloons follows the siblings over the course of one night after Katie (Jacobson) finds out her brother Seth (Franco) has relapsed.

Written and directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan, the film is bleak in its deliverance of the grappling truths surrounding addiction, and poignant in its examination of unconditional love between family.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

As surprising as it may be for a teen rom-com to win over film critics across the board, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before did just that.

A big win for diverse leads in films, To All the Boys follows Lara Jean Covey, a half-Korean, half-Caucasian high-schooler in suburban America, as she navigates through the complicated events following the leaking of her secret love letters to five of her crushes. The role is winningly played by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Lana Condor, and offers an honest, endearing, and downright sweet take on the dating rituals of adolescence. In a lot of ways, it’s reminiscent of the ‘80s classics of John Hughes, but for the digital age.

Roxanne Roxanne

Roxanne Roxanne is a biopic, co-produced by Pharrell Williams and directed by Michael Larnell, that explores the legendary beginnings of Roxanne Shanté’s career as rap’s first female star at just 14 years old. Coming out of the infamous Queensbridge Projects in Queens, New York, the talented battle-rapper shot to fame after igniting the Roxanne Wars — hip-hop’s first recorded beef — after recording a clapback with legendary hip-hop producer Marley Marl to U.T.F.O.’s hit single Roxanne, Roxanne.

Despite being out of the limelight for many years, the story of the pioneer who paved the way for names like Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, and Cardi B – to name just a few – was worthy of some current recognition; Netflix did just that – and did it in style.

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

This documentary feature by Oscar-winner and 20 Feet from Stardom director Morgan Neville centers around the last 15 years of filmmaking legend Orson Welles’ life, when he was an artist in exile. The film focuses largely on the long and laborious production of his magnum opus, The Other Side of The Wind, which was finally released posthumously this year.

Using more than 100 hours of raw material, this imaginative 122-minute cut is essential viewing for not just Orson Welles fans but any aspiring documentary filmmaker or film enthusiast. The Other Side Of The Wind was semi-autobiographical, and this intoxicating film compliments it perfectly while detailing the life and times of its subject.

The Kindergarten Teacher

Written and directed by Sarah Colangelo, The Kindergarten Teacher is an English remake of the 2014 Israeli film of the same name, a riveting psychological thriller about a disenchanted teacher living in Staten Island who becomes intrigued by a precocious 5-year-old boy in her class after reading his poetry.

Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in the role of Lisa, the self-deluded teacher and budding poet who, in some way, uses Jimmy, the artistic prodigy played by Parker Sevac, to live out her own dreams of becoming an extraordinary poet. The film explores the great lengths in which one will go to nurture the artistic pursuits of a child beyond what is deemed socially or ethically acceptable, as Gyllenhaal unravels and the child’s well-being comes into question.

Masterfully projecting the complexities of life as a struggling woman desperate to be heard, this film is bound to leave you affected. As Rolling Stone puts it, “for the filmmaker and her star, this movie is their poem.”

How to Learn From Other Filmmakers by Watching Films

Anyone with dreams of becoming a successful filmmaker has probably seen a good number of movies in their lifetime — in fact, for many of us, watching movies inspired our own desire to make them.

If you’re a movie buff who wants to take their cinephilia to the next level, try these useful exercises to help you improve your knowledge about filmmaking and pick up new skills and inspiration — all while watching films!

  1. Study the filmmaker’s use of their signature trademarks.

Many filmmakers have their own distinct patterns that can be seen across their works. This can include anything from specific types of shot to a focus on certain body parts.

For example, if you’re watching a Michael Bay movie then you can expect — you guessed it — explosions and fast action scenes.

From Hitchcock’s voyeurism effect and Tim Burton’s dark color schemes to Spielberg’s iconic extreme close-ups, the best filmmakers have trademark methods we’ve come to know and love. Watching their masterpieces to study why they rely on the same techniques is a great way to start developing your own style.

  1. Do a shot breakdown of an important scene.

If there’s one exercise that every ambitious filmmaker has to do at least once in their life, it’s the shot breakdown.

Although it’s a long and arduous process, it’s one of the most effective ways of mastering the complex language of film.

More importantly, you’ll gain a stronger understanding of editing when you consciously watch with the question in mind of why filmmakers and editors chose to cut where they did. A shot breakdown is also great way to study and learn the basic shots and angles in the industry and their best uses.

  1. Focus on camera movement.

The director’s role is to position the camera where they think it will better capture their vision on film. Pay attention to where the camera is and the distance between the camera and subjects. Why did the filmmaker go from a very wide shot to a close zoom for a specific moment? Asking and answering these questions as you watch a film will help you make your own decisions when it’s time to choose how your camera will tell your stories.

  1. Pay attention to new things.

The power movies have to enchant us is all due to the numerous elements filmmakers have at their disposal. Of course, directors want all these parts and pieces to blend together so well that audiences are too busy being captivated by the story to notice how or why the movie is keeping their attention so firmly. But as someone who hopes to improve their own craft while watching films, you should be able to shift your focus to notice and study new elements of the films you watch.

How are they using sound to sculpt a mood? What is going on with the lighting? Shadow? Texture? Are there subtle changes in grade/coloring? Does a certain color continue popping up, and does it have any symbolic meaning? What role does the landscape, city, or setting play? Camera angle?

The list goes on and on. Challenge yourself to notice and question new elements as you watch film to try to understand the choices the filmmakers made behind the scenes.

  1. Examine the most important character action.

There’s a reason why the film industry pays its leading actors well: They’re often the part of a film the audiences connect with first, embodying the characters who drive the story forward and delivering performances that bring scripts and storyboards to life.

Everything audiences see characters do on screen — and includes background extras — plays a part in telling the story of a film. That is why a director’s style with actors plays such an important role in guiding the story.

Who can forget the way Joker laughs in “The Dark Knight”? Or the way Frodo looks at Sam when refusing to destroy the ring at the end of “The Return of the King”? These moments came out of a collaboration between the director and the actors. As you watch, ask yourself how you would direct your actors to reach the performance you envision.

  1. Watch a new movie thrice.


When a good movie comes out that you want to learn from, watch it the first time purely as a cinephile. Throw all your knowledge and vocabulary out the window so you can simply be entertained by the film’s story and mood.

During the second viewing you can focus on the things we covered above to sharpen your understanding of excellent filmmaking.

The third time you sit to watch the film is to catch things you didn’t before, such as foreshadowing, what background characters are doing, and how sets are arranged.

 

How do you learn while watching films? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re ready to learn even more, study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

The Art of the Long Take

If there’s one thing every aspiring filmmaker should consider if they want to achieve success, it’s learning to take chances and be persistent. Not giving up on risky creative ideas is what separates the good films and their makers from the great ones.

Right now, people can’t stop talking about the latest Star Wars film to release — a franchise that wouldn’t exist if the young George Lucas hadn’t gambled his career at the time to see his vision come to life.

Such is the essence of the long take, a technique that offers great benefit to those willing to put in the effort and take a chance.

Risk = Reward

When you consider that today’s movies are made up of several thousand editing cuts, putting together typical shots comes with enough challenge. But while a typical final cut rarely exceeds three seconds per shot, a true long take can last several minutes — or even last for an entire film, as in “Russian Ark” (2002).

These tracking takes involve complicated camera movement, countless hours of rehearsing, and enormous amounts of patience, as a single mistake forces the team to prepare and shoot the scene all over again.

Of course, long takes almost always stand out from the rest of the film when done right. Whether it’s an elaborate action sequence or an establishing shot, viewers love watching a scene unfold without any visual interruptions. This is why many directors pay close attention to long shots, even if it might cost them valuable time and resources.

The Many Uses of a Long Take

There are many ways this powerful technique can be used in filmmaking

A common one is for an establishing shot that introduces the audience to a new scene or location. Since there aren’t any cuts, a long take smoothly draws us into the space via continuous look at the setting and moving parts. For example, the first shot in 2015’s “Spectre” lasts a breathless four minutes as we follow a masked man moving through a Dios de Los Muertos party and up onto a rooftop before revealing the identity of the man we’ve followed.

Long takes are also a fantastic tool for when a director wants to instill suspense into a scene. The best example is also one of the earliest uses, in Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil,” as we begin by watching a man place a timebomb in the trunk of a car that then drives through busy city streets. The long shot allows tension to simmer as the audience waits to see when and where the clock will run out.

Many action directors strive to create intense scenes through the use of complex choreography that goes uninterrupted. If you’ve seen 1992’s “Hard Boiled” then you no doubt remember the incredible shootout scene as two men blast away several mobsters while moving down corridors, using an elevator, and tearing the place apart.

These are only a handful of the various uses of the long take.

Recipe for your Long Take

If you’re a fan of long takes and hope to utilize one in a project one day, we applaud you. The following are a few questions to ask yourself before jumping in:

  1. Do You Need A Long Take?

Although an exciting challenge, the long take shouldn’t be used just for its own sake. In other words, take time to evaluate your planned film and decide where, if at all, a long take would be the optimal choice. It’s better you realize early that a long take won’t actually make the scene more impactful.

  1. Are Your Actors Ready?

There’s more pressure on actors when one mistake can lead to hitting the reset button on a scene lasting several minutes and you may need extra preparation and rehearsal. You should make sure you have enough time available to budget in everyone’s schedules for rehearsals prior to shooting.

  1. Do You Have The Equipment?

Unless the action will be circling the camera like in 1992’s “The Player,” you’ll need a budget or access to the essential equipment that will enable the camera movements to allow for a long take. You’ll also need audio equipment that can pick up sounds throughout the take as well as the ability to light the entire thing so it looks good. NYFA students have access to one of the largest equipment libraries in the world, so your time spent training here may provide the perfect opportunity to create the long take you envision.

  1. Can Your Crew Handle It?

Composing long takes requires extra effort from everyone involved, and that is doubly true for your crew members who are handling the camera equipment. If they’re up to the task, make sure you plan for breaks between long takes so exhaustion and stress doesn’t play a role in ruining a long take and leaving your team upset.

What are your favorite long takes in films? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

A Q&A With New York Film Academy Filmmaking Alum Jacob Hayek

New York Film Academy Filmmaking alumnus Jacob Hayek decided to use his NYFA thesis project as an opportunity not only to tackle tough contemporary issues, but also as an opportunity to take the international film festival community by storm.

So far this year, Hayek’s film “The Jim Crow Holocaust” received a fantastic collection of accolades from international festivals. The nominations and wins include Best Short Screenplay, Best Rising Star, and Best Ensemble Cast at the Monaco International Film Festival; 2nd Best of the Fest, Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Actor at Feel the Reel in Glasgow; Best Short Film, Best Short Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress at WIND International Film Festival, Los Angeles; the Golden Palm Award at Mexico International Film Festival; and more at the Transylvania Cinema Awards in Romania, the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival in the U.S., the Bucharest Shortcut Cinefest, and the Sochi International Film Festival in Russia. Whew!

Hayek found time in his busy festival schedule to chat with the NYFA blog about his film and his recipe for success after film school.

 

The Jim Crow Holocaust

The Jim Crow Holocaust

NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

JH: Well, believe it or not, the last thing I wanted to be before I chose to become a filmmaker was a professional wrestler. When I graduated high school, I was sort of discovering what I wanted to do with my life. I got a job at McDonald’s, which taught me a lot about what I didn’t want to do. I was going back and forth between being a pro wrestler and a filmmaker. One day I thought back to my childhood and realized I love telling and creating stories, particularly movies. For fun, I decided to write a short screenplay to see if I was good at making a movie. I absolutely loved the experience, and that’s when I decided to become a filmmaker.

I searched for a ton of film schools in the New York area; I thought it’d be a good way to start. What drew me most to NYFA was that it threw you right into filmmaking. Whenever I set my mind to something, and my Dad can confirm this for sure, I’m like a bulldog: When I get my jaws on something, I never let go. I wanted a school that didn’t linger on, but made us work under that pressure and realism that you only get on a set. That’s what I love about NYFA. It’s for those who are really driven and committed to their craft, and who will get the type of education that won’t drag on like others. It’s shock and awe. Only the best can make it.

NYFA: Why filmmaking?

JH: I love the idea of making an incredible story and bringing it to life for all to see. Making an amazing film requires the most vigorous of research and knowledge. It’s one of the best ways to learn.

NYFA: For our current filmmaking students, can you tell us about navigating your transition out of school? Any advice?

JH: My advice to them would have to be, just keep jumping into it. The more experience you gain, the better you become. Make as many connections as you can, make as many movies as you can to master your craft, and yes it’s going to kill you knowing this might not be your best work, that you made mistakes that could’ve been avoided, but never let it get you down. The reason we fall is so we can learn how to get back up. And if your ideas don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough.

NYFA: What inspired “The Jim Crow Holocaust” and how did you go about bringing this film to life?

JH: It was originally a very short film about a little girl sewing a scarf back together for a little boy who was bullied. I was coming up with ideas for a thesis film before I officially enrolled in NYFA. One day my Mom said to me that I was the product of an Arab and a Jew: My father being Lebanese and my mother being born a Jew. In light of all the recent events happening in the Middle East, it hit me that that’s a rare combination today. I decided to make the boy a Syrian Muslim and the girl Jewish. As the election here happened, I added the events of a future with Trump as president and the mass hate encompassing America.

In comparison to many thesis films, mine was beyond ambitious. I co-produced the film with my father. We had actors come from Virginia all the way to Alaska to be in this film. That, and we had to have a ton of extra actors. The one thing that kept this film going was the amazing people who helped us make it, from crew to actors, and the need to create a story about the issues going on today.

NYFA: Your film has inspired an amazing response at film festivals internationally. Can you tell us a bit about that experience, and how you found the right festivals for this film?

JH: It came as quite a shock to be honest. We sent the film to multiple festivals to see where it could go. The very first festival we applied to (Monaco International) nominated us and we ended up winning. From then on, we were on a streak. We were both nominated and won awards in countries like the U.K., Mexico, Romania, Russia, Japan, and here in the U.S.

Don’t limit yourself at first, achieve all you can. You’d be surprised the kind of doors that can open for you.

NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for preparing you for your work on “The Jim Crow Holocaust”?

JH: Yes it was. It taught me just how hard it is to make a movie, and that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I learned that you need to know the rules and the reasons for them if you’re ever going think outside of them.

NYFA: What is next for “The Jim Crow Holocaust”?

JH: Because of the amazing reception the film has received, we’ve decided to turn it into a feature film. We’re going to take our time, do everything right, and create a film for the whole world to see. The screenplay is complete and we’re getting ready to pitch it to studios.

NYFA: Are there any other projects you are currently working on that you’d like to tell us about?

JH: In addition to “The Jim Crow Holocaust,” I’m currently writing a short screenplay for Director/Cinematographer Earl Stepp of “Isomnija.” I’m also writing a few screenplays for other future projects, as wells as video promotions for well known companies and their products. My father and I started a production company together called Birds of Prey Films, and we intend to make it the best there is.

Interested in learning the art of filmmaking? Check out the hands-on programs the New York Film Academy has to offer here!

Star Wars Sequels 101: How Do “The Last Jedi” Filmmakers Build On “The Force Awakens?”

[NOTE: This isn’t spoiler heavy, but if you still haven’t seen “The Last Jedi” and you want to go in cold Porg-y, er… turkey, you should bookmark this for later. Also, what are you waiting for? Go see it already!]

The_Last_Jedi_poster

“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi”, the most anticipated movie of the year (and then some), has finally come out and now critics and fans can scrutinize each and every individual moment for decades to come. But besides who Force-choked who and which CGI creature will be the hottest new toy, “The Last Jedi” answered a more technical question for film buffs—what did Episode VIII do to build on Episode VII?

While “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” isn’t really an original movie in itself—in fact it’s the (obviously) seventh movie in the series—it did hit a reset button for Star Wars in numerous ways. So it’s easy to see how “The Last Jedi” is a direct sequel to “The Force Awakens” more than it is the eighth movie in the Skywalker Saga.

And sequels normally get a bad rap, though “The Last Jedi” is in good company considering “The Empire Strikes Back”—another middle chapter in a Star Wars trilogy—is considered by many to be the greatest sequel of all time.

So how, from a filmmaking perspective, did “The Last Jedi” build on “The Force Awakens?” Here’s just a few, broad examples:

Production Design

Hollywood titan J.J. Abrams was lauded for his direction in Episode VII—namely because he responded to the artificial looking CGI-heavy prequels by bringing grit and texture back to Star Wars. A full, beat-up Millennium Falcon was built for the movie, which was shot often on location and fully built sets as opposed to large swaths of green screen. This dirtier, rougher version of space is kept in the look of “The Last Jedi”—whether on Luke’s isolated island or the remote planet covered in dusty red salt. If you can feel an image you’re really only seeing, the filmmakers are doing their job.

Film Score

It’s pretty much a given that any new Star Wars film needs to retain the iconic themes John Williams first wrote in the 1970s, but to stand out on their own these movies should offer new melodies we’ll be able to hum to. “The Force Awakens” introduced us to “Rey’s Theme” as well as “Kylo Ren’s Theme”, strong motifs that hold up alongside classics like the “Imperial March” and the “Binary Sunset/Force Theme.” “The Last Jedi” is a little scarce on completely new soundtrack entries—though it does have a motif for new character Rose—but it recalls the best music of “The Force Awakens” throughout, using it in several powerful scenes between Rey and Kylo Ren. As the story progresses so does their relationship, and the mixture of their themes accentuate this narrative.

Screenplay – The Story

One of the criticisms of “The Force Awakens” was that it imitated the original trilogy too much, failing to set itself apart. However, a benefit from this was that it created a broader simple story of heroes vs. villains that “The Last Jedi” could then develop and subvert. Now that the audience is familiar with the characters, screenwriter and director Rian Johnson was more free to complicate the narrative, jumping around between solar systems and even including flashbacks, a cinematic technique that’s rare for the Star Wars series. Like famous sequels before it, including “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Godfather Part II,” a more complicated story gives more thematic weight and allows for more emotional nuance for the audience.

Screenplay – The Characters

The narrative wasn’t the only thing complicated in this sequel. Now that Episode XII allowed us to know the new characters in the series, we can find out more about them in more subtle ways. Rey was a mysterious loner who discovered enormous power in “The Force Awakens”; here, she learns how to grapple with such power and we see how shaped she is by never knowing her parents. Kylo’s internal conflict is made more real and evolves from broad angst to a scared child who thought his uncle was going to kill him in his sleep—that would mess anyone up! Even more minor characters, like Supreme Leader Snoke, benefit from the foundation “The Force Awakens” built. In the previous film, Snoke was quickly painted in a hologram as an ominous villain. In “The Last Jedi,” we see just how overwhelming his power in the Dark Side of the Force can be, as well as his knowledge of and hatred for original trilogy protagonist Luke Skywalker. By inferring more backstory, it places characters like Snoke more firmly in the world and makes their actions more palpable and believable.

Casting

“The Force Awakens” was notable in its diverse casting—bringing more women and minorities to a genre of filmmaking historically dominated by white men. “The Last Jedi” continues this tradition by introducing the characters of Rose & Paige Tico, played by Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Marie Tran and Vietnamese actress Ngô Thanh Vân, respectively. It also introduces Vice Admiral Holdo, a complex leader of the Resistance played by Academy Award nominated actress Laura Dern. Seeing Laura Dern and the late Carrie Fisher—two women over 50—play powerful leaders making heroic wartime decisions—is something rarely seen in Hollywood blockbusters, but something that needs to be seen more and more if cinema is to remain culturally relevant. If the upcoming, untitled Episode IX wants to retain its worldwide audience, it needs to continue this tradition of casting people and faces from every corner of the globe.

Laura Dern & Carrie Fisher

Laura Dern & Carrie Fisher

How to Hone Your Individual Style as a Filmmaker

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In a time when everyone wants to be the next great filmmaker, the task of standing out can seem daunting. The following are a few things every aspiring filmmaker should consider in order to develop their own style and make a name for themselves in the film industry.

Practice, Practice, Practice

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It’s a silly thing to try discovering your own voice as a filmmaker when you’re not even actively making films. It’s like trying to decide what kind of painter you want to be before creating enough works to know your strengths and weaknesses along with what you like. In other words, honing your individual style takes time and practice.

These days, there’s no excuse not to get behind the camera and see what you’re capable of doing. With today’s technology, you can grab a digital camera or even your smartphone and start learning how you want to one day convey your stories to your future audience. This goes beyond only doing film assignments in school and messing around with personal projects of your own.

Find Out What Tools and Techniques You Prefer

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It’s impossible to sharpen your individual style without understanding which techniques work best with your ideas. In fact, some of the most prominent and iconic filmmakers in our industry can be defined in part by the type of lenses they use. A film made by Stanley Kubrick, one of the most influential directors in cinematic history, will almost always employ wide-angle lenses, which arguably help his numerous long tracking shots evoke more emotion.

The more you play with different tools and techniques, the sooner you’ll nail down the combination of things that will make your films unique. You might find that the stories you want to share can make use of extra long takes, also like Kubrick. We also recommend learning what kind of lenses work best for particular types of movies.

Think About The Ideas You Want To Convey

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Honing your own style goes beyond the technical elements of filmmaking. Once you’ve mastered all the popular camera shots every filmmaker should know, you need to decide why you’re using them in the first place. Almost all of the biggest names in Hollywood showed a trend in terms of ideas and themes they preferred having in their stories, and so should you.

By studying Alfred Hitchcock’s films you’ll notice many recurring plot devices and themes he used throughout his career. These elements, along with his incredible talent as a director and producer, are what helped make him take the movie industry by storm. Film is arguably one of the most powerful storytelling mediums we have today — take advantage of this by injecting some of yourself into your work.

Become Effective At Communicating Your Vision To Your Team

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As an aspiring filmmaker, it’s important for you to realize that making movies is a team effort. Where some TV and cartoons portrayals might give the false impression that a director simply sits in a tall chair and yells action, a real-life director is responsible for many, many things — including making sure that everyone on the team understands the vision, the goals, and the strategy to be achieved. A good director is able to get the cinematographers, actors, and the rest of the crew on the same page so the script comes to life as intended.

There’s nothing worse than having an amazing idea in mind that doesn’t come through in the final cut solely because you failed to communicate it to your team. Getting good at communicating your ideals will help you hone your individual style by seeing it come to fruition time and time again. This is vital whether it’s your first film project or you already have a few under your belt.

What have you discovered about your individual style and voice as a filmmaker? Interested in learning more about New York Film Academy’s filmmaking programs? Let us know in the comments below!

Study How to Make Movie Musicals Like “La La Land” at NYFA

As BroadwayWorld.com recently put it: “La La Land isn’t the only vehicle opening the door for a new era of movie musicals. NYFA’s original productions feature Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart (Hamilton, Aladdin), Tony Award nominee Charlotte d’Amboise (Pippin, A Chorus Line), Jen Perry (Kinky Boots) and others.” With “La La Land” breaking Oscar-nomination records, movie musicals are in the spotlight. And NYFA is the only school in the world where students can learn to perform in professionally produced original movie musicals. It’s not only an option but an explicit opportunity, and we a write up in The Huffington Post to prove it. 

Mike Olsen, who chairs NYFA’s musical theatre program, stresses that making movie musicals at NYFA is an incomparable experience: “Imagine being a student of musical theatre and having a team of professionals gather to collaborate with you on the creation of an original movie musical,” he says, “Where the character you portray is written for you, the songs are devised around your unique sound and capability, the movement and dance elements reflect your personal wheelhouse, and the whole endeavor is a highly professional journey that culminates in a fully edited, professionally engineered final half-hour movie musical that gets submitted to festivals across the country.

 

 

“No other training academy has our unique capacity to bring filmmaking and musical theatre together to create such a practical and highly professional educational experience,” Olsen continues. “We are on the cutting edge of this and if I were a young musical theatre talent, and while this popularity swells, I would jump at the chance to get this valuable training.”

Today, the critically-acclaimed movie musical everybody’s talking about in Hollywood and beyond is, of course, “La La Land.” The movie made headlines once again after scoring 14 Oscar nominations.

“While this has been percolating recently in our culture, the recent film ‘La La Land’ has tipped the scales,” says Olsen. “Film producers are now putting movie musicals in their top priority file. As America experiences a new renaissance of the movie musical, it is an exceptional piece of good fortune that the musical theatre program at the New York Film Academy is on the cutting edge of training young talent to meet this new demand.”

Olsen isn’t the only one to point out the cultural relevance of movie musicals. New York Times writer Manohla Dargis recently penned a piece about how “La La Land” gives musicals new importance.

At NYFA, students can merge stage talent with the technical training necessary to bring an original musical vision to the big screen.

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“While the primary training focus of the Musical Theater Department remains rooted in the traditional elements of solid stagecraft, NYFA is also uniquely in the lead when it comes to getting movie musical experience,” says Olsen. “Students in the advanced stages of their training enjoy an unprecedented chance to collaborate with the creative process of writing a movie musical, working in a professional studio to lay down vocal tracks, and being on set and on location, acting and performing, in a fully realized movie making experience.”

Picture this: You and your NYFA classmates making the next “La La Land.” It could happen! Apply for our musical theatre program today.

3 Disney Renaissance Lessons on Animation

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The Disney Renaissance changed the way the world experiences animation. Of all the companies that need no introduction, Disney is perhaps at the top. Boasting one of the world’s greatest libraries of highly marketable intellectual property, Disney will no doubt continue as a household name for years to come. What can aspiring animators learn from this company’s continuing success?

There are many answers to that question, but today we’re focusing on lessons from the Disney Renaissance — a time period that led to the creation of some of the most iconic Disney films. From 1989 to 1999, Walt Disney Animation Studios was putting out hit after hit that to this day still serve as some of the best animated films of all time. In fact, many of them are receiving anticipated remakes, including a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Below are three things both animators and the industry as a whole can learn from the team of animators responsible for the Disney Renaissance era:

1. Animation Is Competitive, and That’s a Good Thing

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It’s easy now to look back and see how successful Disney was during this period. But before the studio began their creative resurgence, they found themselves in a tough spot. Disney struggled for a while; some of their films (like “The Black Cauldron”) failed while new rivals emerged. One of these rivals was Don Bluth Productions, which was founded by an ex-Disney animator who left with 17% of the animators working on “The Fox and the Hound” at the time.

Don Bluth’s team began producing successful films like “An American Tail,” “The Land Before Time,” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” This put pressure on Disney to compete at the box office. Many believe the intense competitiveness with Don Bluth Productions is one of the reasons Disney pushed hard to create memorable classics. Though Don Bluth Productions closed its doors in 1995, Disney clearly benefitted from the competition thanks to the work of individual animators who clearly wanted to prove they were the best in the industry.

2. Never Settle: Instead, Do Better

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Of course, those animators we just mentioned wanted more than to simply “beat” the competition. They also strove to surpass their previous work, which is why so many films released during the Disney Renaissance period seemed to have just as much creativity and passion, if not more, than the last.

Imagine releasing “The Little Mermaid,” which earned a whopping $84 million during its initial release, and then being told to do it again — only better. The Walt Disney Animation Studios team did just that, releasing “Beauty and the Beast” two years later, only to follow that up with with “Aladdin.” The next six films of this era, which include “The Lion King” and “Mulan,” were also great box office hits. The lesson? No matter how well you do, try to do better next time.

No matter what field or industry, success can sometimes be a studio’s downfall. Pressure to repeat the same success can be devastating, but it can also push animators to new heights. As an aspiring animator, follow in the footsteps of the animators of the Disney Renaissance era and work to always do better than before, whether your last work was a success or failure.

3. Animate Because You Love It

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Even though Walt Disney had passed on decades before the Disney Renaissance era, his influence is arguably one of the reasons Disney has continued to grow. In fact, many of his principles are still applied throughout every Disney branch more than 50 years later, including his motto: “Do what you love.”

Disney himself began as someone who enjoyed drawing in his spare time. When he decided he wanted to do what he loved for a living, he had to go through many random jobs — including working as ambulance driver for the army during World War I — just to fund his passion. With a desire to draw for a living as his focus, Disney pushed ahead until he had his own animation studio. His love for animation fed his perseverance.

We’re confident that the animators during the Disney Renaissance era felt the same way. Despite growing pressure to release success after success, they simply went on doing what they loved and didn’t hold back. Now, Disney is one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. Coincidence?

What great lessons have you learned from the Disney Renaissance? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Technical Tips for First-Time Filmmakers

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Every person dreaming of becoming a professional filmmaker had that same special moment: You were watching perhaps one of your favorite films of all time when suddenly you thought, “I want to make movies too.”

Of course, not everyone who has this moment actually ends up following through with their goal. This is because anyone can see a great movie and think they can make something just as good, if not better. But the reality is that filmmaking requires dedication, hard work, and a great deal of problem-solving. First-time filmmakers must grapple with this reality, and not let the challenges of filmmaking overcome its rewards.

To help first-time filmmakers through their challenges and joys on the set of their first movie, we’ve rounded up some helpful advice on some of the more important elements of filmmaking. We hope this helps first-time filmmakers keep their vision clear and their chins up as they make their dreams of movie magic a (sometimes hard-won) reality.

Framing and Camera Work

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When actually filming your scenes, you have a wide variety of choices for framing your shots. Here we cover only 12 of the many camera shots that everyone involved in filmmaking should know . While there are exceptions, using the same type of shots throughout your scenes will result in a dull experience.

Instead, study the different types and purposes of the repertoire of shots you can use. By becoming familiar with different shots and incorporating them into your work, you’ll learn how to establish the rhythm of a scene along with the point of view. Tracking shots, pans, and zoom-ins are are also very powerful tools when used correctly.

Casting and Acting

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Many young filmmakers, when casting, put too much emphasis on the physical appearance of the actor. They often make the mistake of casting someone who “looks” the part, rather than the better actor. “The Graduate is a good example. The main character of Benjamin Braddock, was described in the book as looking like Robert Redford and not at all like Dustin Hoffman. But Mike Nichols had the courage to cast Dustin and, as a result, the movie is a classic.

Many young directors are seem to be fearful of casting actors more experienced than they are. They fear that the actor will see that they don’t know what they’re doing and embarrass them. But this is the furthest thing from the truth. If an experienced actor takes a role in your film, it is because they share your desire to make the picture better.

Directing

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Directing a picture can be a challenging experience, even for professionals. However, when you’re inexperienced and not only directing but also producing, catering, being your own assistant director and even being the transportation captain, it can be downright overwhelming. As a result, inexperienced directors often make the mistake of letting their minds wander while the camera is rolling. As soon as they call “ACTION,” they start to think to themselves, o kay, I have this shot, so after this I’ll move over there to get that shot and I have to remember to get that prop ready and don’t forget to call t he location about the schedule change tomorrow and… “CUT!” Then they find themselves in the editing room wondering, “where was I when that was happening because that is not what I wanted in the shot.” The New York Film Academy encourages our students to be in the moment, clear their minds while the camera is rolling. Because no matter how much they’ve prepared, if it’s not happening while the camera is rolling, you didn’t get it.

Editing

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Here’s a little trick NYFA New York City’s Chair of Filmmaking, Claude Kervin, recommends for those times when you get stale from watching a scene over and over and over: Flip the image left to right. Copy the scene and have the software create a mirror image. Part of the reason we feel stale is that we are anticipating every rhythm and movement in the scene. Flipping it left to right adds just enough new information to make our brains feel that we’re watching the scene anew!

Sound & Music

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A good movie requires the perfect combination of images and sound. In fact, sound is often your most powerful tool for conveying emotion to the audience and making sure they feel what you want them to feel. Without sound, it’s much more difficult nowadays to create a mood for your scenes.

While sound effects and dialogue are important, music also plays a vital role in delivering a captivating film experience. Music is also used to create an emotion, and different music works better for specific moods. Our advice: Watch a few movies from different genres and pay attention to the sounds and music they chose. Sound and music are infinitely adaptable to tone, style, and genre, and you’ll find that what worked great for “The Lord of the Rings” wouldn’t be very effective in a horror or romantic comedy.

Do you have any solid advice you’d like to offer first-time filmmakers? Let us know in the comments below!

Celebrate Fashion Week the Film-Lover’s Way

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New York Fashion Week is in full swing, which means fashion lovers all over are ready for their first look at anticipated trends and lines. Suspense and enthusiasm are high this year: Jimmy Choo celebrates their 20th anniversary; spring 2017 trends will be revealed from Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, Prada, and more. Glitterati, designers, celebrities, and students will pour over livestreaming photos and press releases. Professionals and students alike can check up on everything from the hottest runway photos to valuable interviews with top editors and designers in the business. With a full week and a packed schedule for each day, there’s no shortage of things to watch this year.

Of course, movie fans also have plenty to be excited about as the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival also launches in early September. Filmmakers and actors will be looking to make a name for themselves by showing off the projects they’ve been hard at work on. The festival also has plenty of star power as well, including movies featuring some of the best actors and actresses of today.

What better way to participate and celebrate the spirit of both these high-profile, taste-making events than with a list of excellent films that both champion and reveal the world of high fashion? Since we’re in the spirit of both fashion and filmmaking, we’ve created a round-up of movies that every fan of fashion and film should check out. Enjoy!

“The First Monday in May” (2016)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art curated its most-attended fashion gala ever with “China: Through the Looking Glass,” spearheaded by Anna Wintour. This documentary directed by Andrew Rossi offers intoxicating behind-the-scenes access. Viewers are transported to a rarified world, and it’s easy to see why “The First Monday in May” became an instant audience favorite. Passions clash and mingle between the elite of two separate but inextricably linked worlds: fashion and art.

“The September Issue” (2009)

This acclaimed documentary film gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and drama that come with producing a big fashion magazine. “The September Issue” focuses on editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her crew as they scramble to produce the September 2007 issue of American Vogue magazine, the most important issue of the year.

A good number of renowned designers, models, and photographers from the fashion magazine world appear, including Coco Rocha, Patrick Demarchelier, John Charles Galliano, and more. The highlight of the film is the clashing yet symbiotic relationship between Grace Coddington, a model-turned-director, and the aggressive Anna Wintour.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Despite releasing more than 50 years ago, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” continues to be regarded as one of the best fashion movies ever made. This beloved film stars the iconic Audrey Hepburn as an eccentric socialite obsessed with living a life of glamor and wealth.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” won two Academy Awards, had three nominations, and is worth watching for Hepburn’s outfits alone. Many of them set fashion trends that continue to this day, including her use of a little black dress for formal events.

“Prêt-à-Porter” (1994)

If you’re in the mood for a humorous take on the Parisian fashion industry and enjoy seeing the comical side of major film stars, “Prêt-à-Porter” (Ready to Wear) is a great choice. This satirical comedy film was shot during Paris Fashion Week and features an impressive number of international stars, designers, and models.

Although this film was actually a box office bomb, it’s worth checking out just for the star-studded cast alone. Starring roles and celebrity cameo appearances include Julia Roberts, Naomi Campbell, Rupert Everett, Cher, Sophia Loren, Christy Turlington, Marcello Mastroianni, Linda Evangelista, and dozens more. Of course, “Prêt-à-Porter” is probably best known for a famous catwalk scene that features several minutes of nude female models.

“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)

David Frankel’s comedy drama starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway is arguably one of the most popular fashion movies of the last decade. The film, which is an adaptation of a book with the same name, tells the story of a naive fashion intern (Hathaway) trying to break into the New York fashion industry scene as the co-assistant of Miranda Priestly (Streep), an influential fashion magazine editor.

“The Devil Wears Prada” is a nod to the challenges that come with working in the fashion world, including the career hurdles, demands, and difficult people you might encounter. Streep’s character, a cruel and unrelenting fashion boss, is widely believed to be inspired by Anna Wintour, an icon in the fashion world known for her demanding personality.

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” (2009)

Based on Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic” novels, this romantic comedy stars Isla Fisher as a shopaholic journalist and Hugh Dancy as her boss. Dancy’s character hires the young journalist and shopping addict to write columns in his magazine Successful Savings, which she does with instant success. However, to keep up her facade as a financial guru she must hide the fact that she is herself a compulsive shopper in massive debt.

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” is not meant to be an epic love story or profound look at the fashion magazine industry. Instead, it’s simply a charming movie that features all the dreamy fashion and aspirational moments you could ask for.

Let us know your favorite fashion films or fashion week moments in the comments below!

The Evolution of Seth Rogen: From Teenage Comedian to Superstar

Seth Rogen is on something of a winning streak, and it seems that just about everything the Canadian-born comedian touches of late turns to gold. 

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Having come out of the gate swinging with strong performances in Judd Apatow’s “40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” — two of the highest-rated comedies of the 2000s — Seth Rogen’s career has gone from strength to strength as he further flexed his acting muscles and also added to an impressive list of writing, producing, and directing credits.

Given that he has also branched out from comedy in recent years, it is even more impressive that Rogen’s career is an accidental one. Initially he made a name for himself on the Canadian comedy circuit during his teen years, and was so successful that he became the main breadwinner of his largely-unemployed household by the age of just 16. As a result, he didn’t want to pursue any career other than stand-up comedy, remarking: “As soon as I realized you could be funny as a job, that was the job I wanted.”

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All this raises the question of how exactly Seth Rogen ended up blazing his current the trail. With his latest movie “Sausage Party” killing it from both a commercial and critical standpoint, we’re taking a look at the selected works that got him where he is today.

“Freaks and Geeks” (1999-2000)

While the NBC show was short lived and cancelled after only one season, it has since become a cult classic, launching the careers of numerous then-child actors. Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr and Jason Segel all got their start on this fan favorite.

As did Seth Rogen. “Freaks and Geeks” not only served as his debut acting gig, but also his first credit as a staff writer. Even more important were the connections he made on the show. The two went on to form an enduring friendship and working relationship, collaborating on the ultra-subversive “The Interview” in 2014.

The show also put Paul Fieg and Judd Apatow on the map, the latter of whom saw huge potential in Rogen and took him under his wing. “Obviously, I can’t stress how important Judd’s been to my career,” Rogen said in a retrospective 2009 interview.

“Da Ali G Show” (2004)

From one cult series to another, Rogen managed to land a staff writing position on the highly acclaimed Sacha Baron Cohen breakout series “Da Ali G Show.”

It was little-known that a young Canadian-American was working on a quintessentially British show, but it’s an important road mark for Rogen’s career; he went on to receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in conjunction with the other show writers.

This was all before Seth Rogen became a household name, a process which really began with…

“Knocked Up” (2007)

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“Whenever I see an opportunity to use any of the people from ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ I do it,” said Judd Apatow, who reassembled a lot of the old gang for his first-ever feature. “It’s a way of refusing to accept that the show was canceled. In my head, I can look at ‘Knocked Up’ as just an episode of Seth’s character getting a girl pregnant. All of the movies relate in my mind in that way, as the continuous adventures of those characters.”

Knocked Up” went on to become selected as one of the 10 best movies of the year by the American Film Institute, with Rogen’s lead performance in particular being singled out for praise.

“Superbad” (2007)

Few were convinced that another Rogen/Apatow outing would reach the same bar set by “Knocked Up,” yet “Superbad” raised the bar even higher.

The movie also propelled Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Michael Cera, and Jonah Hill into further stardom. Not bad for a screenplay that Rogen co-wrote when he was 13.

“Horton Hears a Who!” (2008)

This film kick-started Seth Rogen’s prolific voice acting career. The “Kung Fu Panda” franchise followed, along with “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 2009 — as well as the job of voicing the main character, Paul, in the Simon Pegg movie of the same name.

“The Interview” (2014)

Following the successes of “Superbad,” Rogen teamed up once again with Evan Goldberg to work on an idea they’d had a good five years prior: a subversive comedy involving one of the world’s most notorious living dictators.

While critics were polarized by the screenplay (involving an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un, changed following the elder Jong-Il’s death in 2011), this film is a notable point in Rogen’s career. He was the creator of a movie that almost triggered an international crisis, with threats of war and terrorism prompting an industry-wide discussion on the nature of free speech and political commentary. Sony was forced to pull the theatrical release.

“Steve Jobs” (2015)

In the critically acclaimed biopic of Apple founder Steve Jobs (not the Ashton Kutcher version), Seth Rogen showed the world he could act outside of the comedy sphere with his portrayal of Steve Wozniak. It’s an exceptionally multi-dimensional performance, and the real-life Wozniak reportedly felt honored to have been portrayed by him.

“Sausage Party” (2016)

And now we come to “Sausage Party,” Rogen’s latest foray into subversive comedy  — a project where many of the names mentioned above come together again for a Pixar-esque adventure that is firmly for adults. (And yes, the trailer above includes very NSFW language.)

The idea of an R-rated animation isn’t particularly new; 1974’s “Fritz the Cat” was one of the first. Yet it’s not something that has seen widespread adoption, and “Sausage Party” is the first R-rated CG animation. That said, with the runaway success of this movie and the likes of last year’s “Dead Pool,” we’d be very surprised if this doesn’t become a cinematic trend in years to come.

Rogen himself has stated that he “has ideas” for future R-rated animations, currently under active consideration by Sony.

One thing is for certain: we’re keenly anticipating the next trick up Seth Rogen’s multi-faceted sleeve.

The Average Animator Salary and How Its Changed Over Time

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If there’s one profession that has continually grown in demand each year, it’s animation. More and more aspiring animators dream of creating worlds as captivating as the ones they grew up with. Now, schools all over the globe offer all kinds of degree programs in digital art, 3D animation, visual effects, and more.

Of course, it takes more than just passion and imagination to get the dream job of creating jaw-dropping video game environments or lovable film characters. That is why New York Film Academy designed their 3D Animation & Visual Effects School to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to stand out in a competitive job market.

But the question on the mind of many future animators is the same: can I make a good living as an animator? The answer is, yes! In fact, the need for talented animators has led to a growth in annual salaries over the past several years … and there’s no sign of it stopping.

More Demand = More $$$ for Animators

Animators today are getting paid more than those from 20, 10, and even five years ago. This is because advancements in animation and visual effects technology have allowed for better tools offering more realistic graphics. All it takes is one look at a video game from the year 2000 and one from 2016 to see that animation is bigger and better than ever.

At the same time, costs for animation projects have also gone up. For example, “Toy Story” was released in 1995, made on a budget of $30 million with 27 animators. It is still the cheapest movie Pixar has ever produced. In comparison, “Toy Story 3” was released 15 years later on a budget of $200 million— more than six times that of the first movie.

So why are animated films and 3D video games more expensive to make today than ever before? Simply, more animators are required for projects — and those animators are getting paid more. As visuals grow more complex, so too do the tools needed to make it all come alive. Companies want to hire individuals who have mastered the necessary skills and can work quickly without sacrificing quality.

And they’re willing to pay good money.

The Average Salary Today

As of May 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has “Multimedia Artists and Animators” earning an estimated median annual wage of $63, 970 and an hourly wage of $30.76/hour. Median means that half of professionals in this field earned less than those numbers while the other half earned more. Not including self-employed workers, these averages were taken from the salary of 30,250 animators and multimedia artists.

It’s important to remember that the industry you work in affects how much you can make. The top paying industry for animators is Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services, with an average hourly wage of $41.22 and annual wage of $85,750. However, there were only 30 reported people working in this field. So even though the average annual wage of someone working in motion picture and video is less ($73,270), it has a higher level of employment.

The motion picture and video industry employed 9,930 artists and animators in May of 2015, the most of any industry. When comparing numbers from 2014 and 2015, people estimate that animation jobs will grow up to 7 percent, which means more than 4,000 more positions.

(Source link for more info.) 

10 Popular Scenes in Movie History

Combing through cinema history, we thought we’d list ten unforgettable and well executed scenes that have stood the test of time. While we’re not listing these as the top ten best scenes of all time, they’re arguably some of the most memorable. Let us know which scene is your favorite whether it’s on this list or not.

On the Waterfront

Marlon Brando delivers his famous line in the back of a car with his brother. Unhappy with his current position as a “bum,” Brando lets his brother know his disappointment for having to take dives—back when he was a boxer—in order for his brother to make a few extra bucks. He could’a had class.

Casablanca

“Here’s looking at you, kid” Humphrey Bogart is forced to selflessly let go of his former love portrayed by Ingrid Bergman. At least they’ll always have Paris.

The Godfather

In this final scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Michael Corleone has officially taken over all family business as he’s crowned the new Don. His business affairs are now officially off limits for Kay.

Manhattan

Such a breathtaking shot from Gordon Willis of the Queensboro Bridge as Woody Allen professes his love for New York City while having a romantic evening with his best friend’s mistress.

Jaws

Epic monologue from Robert Shaw as he recounts horror tales of the sea from his time in World War 2.

8 ½

Federico Fellini delivers masterful filmmaking in this scene where his main character, Guido, falls into a fantasy where he’s surrounded by all the women from his past.

Duck Soup

This scene is remarkable on several levels. Just consider the time and commitment it must’ve taken Groucho Marx.

The Shining

At the height of his cabin fever, Jack Nicholson chases down his wife and son with an axe. “Here’s Johnny!”

Rocky II

After finally defeating Apollo Creed to become the world champion, Rocky Balboa wastes no time in telling the love of his life, “Yo, Adrian, I did it.”

The Deer Hunter

The harsh reality of Vietnam POW prisoners forced to play Russian Roulette. Some incredible acting chops displayed from Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken. “Mao!”

4 “Jawsome” Films to See During Shark Week

Who doesn’t love Shark Week? As usual, here at New York Film Academy, we’re thinking about our favorite films. This week, in particular, check out four fantastically scary and “jawsome” shark flicks.

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

This is potentially the film that caused the outbreak of shark-mania: a hybrid attitude toward sharks comprised of equal parts love, fear, and infatuation. Making Jaws was no ordinary challenge. Read an interesting reflection from Spielberg, here

Bait (Kimble Rendall, 2012)

Drama? Check. Romance? Check. Gore and heart-pounding suspense? You bet. Bait’s IMDb tagline is only the tip of the iceberg. “A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building – along with 12-foot Great White Sharks.”

The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2016)

This just in: critics are calling the newly released, highly anticipated film, The Shallows, “the best shark movie since Jaws” (The Wrap). Though you’ll go to the theater for Blake Lively, you’ll stay for the excitement of finding out if she can survive a vicious predator attack with nothing to help her but logic and courage.

Deep Blue Sea (Renny Harlin, 1999)

In the past three films, wild sharks with blood thirst and killer instincts gave audiences the shivers, but in Deep Blue Sea, an ever more menacing version of the predator – a genetically enhanced, hyper intelligent shark – will scare you silly. An isolated laboratory built to facilitate Alzheimer’s research becomes a haunting battleground as the sharks outsmart their constraints and head for the kill.

5 Patriotic Films to Commemorate Memorial Day

This upcoming Monday marks Memorial Day, a holiday honoring the brave veteran men and women who have served our nation. For many of us the day involves BBQs and gatherings with friends and families, but for some of us the bonus day off is a time to unwind, relax and catch up on some classic films. If you’re in that boat, we thought we’d highlight some of the films that best commemorate this special day.

Independence Day

Nothing screams American Hollywood blockbuster more than a Roland Emmerich action-packed film, involving the White House getting blown up by a giant spaceship and Will Smith actually punching a space alien in the face. When the common enemy comes from outside this world, it’s up to Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, and the American military to fight off the invading aliens. Together with its inspirational speeches, explosions, romance, and 90’s special effects, this modern classic has everything you could want in a Memorial Day flick. If you still haven’t seen this, be sure to check it out before its long-awaited sequel is releases this upcoming Fourth of July.

Rocky

If you’re still paying for cable and just so happen to be flicking through the channels, chances are you’ll land on a Rocky marathon this Memorial Day weekend. Nobody stands the test of time more than the iconic hero, Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone. With his underdog, South Philly charm and American flag boxer trunks, Rocky can win over any crowd and any generation—even the Cold War Russians as we saw in Rocky 4. With Bill Conti’s unforgettable original score and Burgess Meredith’s rousing speeches, there’s nothing that’ll get you more motivated this holiday weekend than a healthy dose of the Italian Stallion.

Patton

Earning George C. Scott an Oscar for Best Actor, this 1970 biopic of American General George S. Patton showcases its patriotism from the very beginning of the film as Patton delivers an inspirational speech to his soldiers in front of a giant U.S. flag. Few may know that the screenplay was written by The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Franklin Schaffner, who was behind the original Planet of the Apes. Coming in on close to three hours in length, this WWII epic chronicles the battles led by the controversial figure, Patton, a man who stops at nothing to defeat his enemies. Not without his flaws, the General exemplifies America’s military strength and confidence during its ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany.

The Hunt for Red October

New York Film Academy founder, Jerry Sherlock, produced this 1990 hit, based on Tom Clancy’s best-selling novel. Starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, the film is set during the late Cold War era and involves a rogue Soviet naval captain who wishes to defect to the United States with his officers and the Soviet Navy’s newest and most advanced nuclear missile submarine. The question is: is he really trying to defect or is he out to start war with the US? For a “war” that involved no real battles, this thriller creates a scenario in which the Cold War could ultimately erupt in an underwater confrontation. That is unless Jack Ryan can save the day.

Born on the Fourth of July

Considered one of Tom Cruise’s most memorable performances and earning him his first Oscar nomination, this captivating Oliver Stone film surrounds the life of Ron Kovic, who was paralyzed in the Vietnam War. Kovic, played by Cruise, becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for. Battling obstacles both with his own mind and body, as well as against the country he once fought for, the film captures the tragedy and difficulties many of our armed servicemembers face when returning home.

Hey Marvel – Here’s Five Ways to Make a Solo Hulk Movie

Hulk

Everybody’s talking about what’s on Marvel’s docket after they released their slate of upcoming movies for the next five years. The core of their cinematic universe of course is the Avengers Trilogy (or Tetralogy since they’re splitting Infinity War into two movies). Sequels to Captain America, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy are no-brainers, and the addition of new heroes Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel aren’t just icing on the cake—they’re a whole extra cake, with icing.

But what about the Hulk? He was the second superhero introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, right after Iron Man way back in 2008, and unlike every other character since, he hasn’t gotten a sequel. It’s agreed by most that The Incredible Hulk was weaker than its compatriots, and like 2003’s Hulk, underwhelmed audiences despite making its money back and then some.

But Incredible Hulk starred Edward Norton and pre-dated the Hulk’s scene-stealing role in The Avengers. Mark Ruffalo is universally adored as Bruce Banner, and with Marvel seemingly making new movies out of thin air, it’s more than conspicuous that he hasn’t earned another solo blockbuster adventure. Gone is the argument that a CGI Hulk in every scene of a movie would simply cost too much money—after all, two of Guardians of the Galaxy’s lead characters are a CGI raccoon and tree. And if the new Avengers: Age of Ultron is any indication, the next Marvel movie will have a supporting cast of about ten thousand computer generated robots.

If it’s not the CGI, and it’s not Ruffalo’s undeniable charm, then just why isn’t Marvel producing another Hulk movie? Maybe they can’t think of a decent plot—The Incredible Hulk’s storyline was basically Hulk Smash. But that’s not a good excuse either. Here’s five ways to make a solo Hulk movie drawn from fifty-plus years of comics backstory, and five directors who could potentially bring these films to life. Get on this, Marvel, before you make us Hulk fans angry.

You wouldn’t like us when we’re angry.

1. Grey Hulk

If you haven’t noticed, Bruce Banner has a bit of a split-personality. What many casual fans don’t realize though is that he doesn’t just have one extra personality, he has several. Besides the big green, savage manifestation of his anger that likes to smash and talk in the third person, Bruce can also turn into the Grey Hulk.

The Grey Hulk is a little smaller and weaker than the Incredible Hulk, and his skin is, well, grey. But he still towers over the average-sized man and has muscles that would make Thor drop a Mjölnir in his pants. He’s also a little smarter than the savage Hulk, able to have conversations and drive a car. In fact, he holds down a job as a mob enforcer in Las Vegas as alter-ego Joe Fixit. He makes a great living actually. If you’re a bookie who’s owed some money, who better to scare your debtors into paying than a big grey monster packing heat.

A Vegas-set mob movie would be a great way to do a Hulk movie different from the previous two. And who better to direct a mob movie than Martin Scorsese? His talent behind the camera has been begging for a superhero to shoot, and he’s worked with Ruffalo before. It’s a match made in heaven.

2. Planet Hulk

Why isn’t Hulk helping out Cap and Thor in their respective sequels? How about because he’s in space? Like, deep outer space. The Planet Hulk storyline from the comics finds Earth’s superheroes fed up with Hulk smashing their stuff all the time and banishing him to a far away planet, Sakaar.

The planet is filled with aliens from a multitude of races, forced to battle one another in a gladiator arena for the amusement of the evil Red King. Hulk fits right in, and leads a revolution from the ground up after smashing some space heads. The Guardians of the Galaxy could even make a cameo, helping Hulk overthrow the Red King and bring freedom to Ancient Rome, er, the planet Sakaar.

Ridley Scott has proven adept at directing space movies and gladiator movies, but he hasn’t tackled a superhero pic yet and this would be the easiest way for him to make that transition. With Scott at the helm, how can we not be entertained?

[editor’s note: Three years after this article was published, Marvel did a version of the Planet Hulk story in Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi]

3. World War Hulk

World War Hulk is technically a sequel to Planet Hulk, but since when has continuity ever been an issue in the MCU (cough, Don Cheadle, cough.) The Hulk has made his way back from the planet Sakaar and is more than a little pissed that he was banished in the first place (and that his gladiator girlfriend was killed in the space revolution.)

Hulk takes his revenge on New York City, fighting Iron Man and Doctor Strange as the super-angry, super-strong, super-huge World Breaker Hulk. It looks like he’ll be duking it out with Iron Man already in Age of Ultron but honestly, shouldn’t that be its own movie? Plus, with Doctor Strange in the mix, it could be Benedict Cumberbatch vs. the Hulk, which honestly is an even better title for the movie than World War Hulk.

This sequel would be loud, filled with mindless action and the borderline-offensive leveling of an American city. Michael Bay would be perfect.

4. She-Hulk

She-Hulk is one of Marvel’s most underrated characters. Her alter-ego is Jennifer Walters, and unlike her cousin Bruce Banner, she is always big and green, but not nearly as mindless and angry. In fact, she’s extremely smart, and works by day as a lawyer.

If Marvel wants to introduce a new hero, they could give her origin in a Hulk movie, having the two team up before She-Hulk sets out on her own. Currently, She-Hulk is one of the most entertaining series in the Marvel line, with a fun, youthful energy that also knows how to have badass battles with fellow heroes like Daredevil and Captain America.

The Kids Are Alright director Lisa Cholodenko, who’s worked with Ruffalo before, could balance the witty courtroom repartee with the sweet kickass brawls She-Hulk isn’t afraid to back down from.

5. Guilt Hulk

When Bruce Banner is angry, the green, savage Hulk lets out his rage by smashing. When Bruce is full of guilt and regret, in many ways, a much more dangerous emotion, he becomes The Beast, a.k.a. the Guilt Hulk. The Guilt Hulk is a terrible monster, larger and stronger than usual and makes the standard Hulk look downright cuddly. He’s got long, sharp claws, is covered in spikes, and on occasion, breathes fire. This ain’t your Daddy’s Hulk.

The Guilt Hulk is so scary the sequel would be more horror than action film, and Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro would be perfect to direct and design the cinematic look of the Beast. At his most contrite, the Guilt Hulk can tower over sixty feet tall and level buildings with a single swipe of his arm. After Pacific Rim, is there any doubt del Toro isn’t the right person for the job?

Guilt Hulk

Guilt Hulk