New York Film Academy went across the pond and through The Chunnel, discussing our favorite British and French films along the journey. Movies like James Bond 007, A Clockwork Orange, 400 Blows, Les Enfants Terribles, and A Bout De Souffle.
Our Director of Acting Admissions, Roger Del Pozo, is loving Europe and finding some amazing talent! We just hope he comes back to New York at some point…
Plus, with The Avengers box office breaking release over the weekend, we had some crazed fans discuss their favorite Marvel Superhero. In fact, some of them went above and beyond. Yes, we’re talking to you @Caleblabarre. Wonder how many times you’ve seen the movie already?
‘Mamitas’ Opens in Theaters Friday
New York Film Academy instructor Nicholas Ozeki is anxiously awaiting this Friday’s theatrical release of Mamitas, his first feature length film. The coming-of-age romance follows Jordin, a cocky but charming Latino firebrand. On the day he’s suspended for insulting a teacher, he meets Felipa, a bookish, no-nonsense New York girl who sees past his swaggering facade. The two immediately embark on an unlikely friendship that inspires Jordin to find out who he really is.
Mamitas was developed from a short film Nicholas made in grad school. The short won awards at numerous festivals nationally and internationally. He explains, “We got a lot of people asking if [it] was going to turn into a feature. People in the industry saw the potential of the film being developed. It took about 3 years… to raise the money, cast, and shoot [the feature].”
“I wanted to develop a coming-of-age story,” says Nicholas. “[C]oming from a diverse background, I often try to have diversity… in the stories that I tell.” Being in Los Angeles, Nicholas took inspiration from the area’s large Mexican-American community. He explains, “It’s interesting because Hispanics are often portrayed through negative social issues like violence, gangs, and drugs. It was important that the story that we [told was] relatable and positive. It’s not something that you see too often.”
NYFA Events Coordinator Jordan Auten signed on as a co-producer in the early planning stages. Says Jordan, “I believe in the story and always believed in Nick as a director. I really wanted to be a part of the process and collaborate with the core group of people. I was 1000% in from the beginning.”
Nicholas decided to premiere the feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival. “Because it was an LA story,” says Nicholas, “it was an appropriate place to premiere the film at. [The festival] gave us a ton of exposure, got us on the radar, and got a lot of people interested in the film.” Since then, the film has travelled around the U.S., picking up awards and participating in 9 festivals.
Nicholas also received a nomination for the Someone to Watch award at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards.
Nicholas says he enjoys teaching his courses in cinematography and film craft at New York Film Academy. “If you don’t have a job that is related to the film industry… you can lose touch with the craft,” he says. “Teaching is really good at reminding why you started your journey into film. It reminds you where you came from. You can both inspire your students and they can inspire you. It reminds you why movies and entertaining people [are] important”
“Indie filmmaking is a sheer act of will,” he muses. “There’s no studio that is supporting you, expecting to see dailies. It’s filmmaking at the purest it can be. There’s no safety net under you, and no room for huge mistakes. Working with a limited budget, you have to concentrate on the quality of acting and the quality of the story. You’re not going to compete on a production level with studio films, so indie films tend to steer [toward the] dramatic or comedic, but often those genres are what with people connect with most. I think you have a better chance of making a more truthful story than those big-budget action flicks.”
Mamitas opens in theaters across Southern California this Friday, April 27. For a list of theaters, visit the film’s website.
Cannes Finds Liana
New York Film Academy’s filmmaking student Jimmy Chen’s thesis film Looking for Liana was accepted to the prestigious Cannes Short Film Corner. The film follows Steven, a young composer struggling to complete a new piece of music, who wants nothing more than to escape Los Angeles to be alone with his thoughts and find inspiration. His plans are thwarted when he is kidnapped by Gary, an old man with a failing memory and a mission of his own: to scatter his wife’s ashes at the lighthouse where they first fell in love.
Jimmy attended film school in Beijing before joining the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios. Of the school, he says, “It’s amazing. The school [taught] me a lot. I’m really glad I came. There’s loads of opportunities to shoot.”
He says he came up with the concept for the film, which he wrote and directed, while facing troubles in his own life, explaining, “I was struggling with my career and emotions and went [for a drive]. I imagined myself as an old man, reviewing my life and what was important to me.” Inspiration hit him and he went home to start work on the story.
Jimmy shot the film in the summer of 2011 with help from his producer and co-writer, Paris Bauldwin, who we featured on our blog a few weeks ago. Jimmy also worked as art director on Paris’ film, Chrysalis. Both filmmakers were accepted to Cannes and will attend the festivities in May. “Paris and I are going together,” he said. “It’s my first time going to Europe!” Looking for Liana will also screen at the Long Island International Film Expo in New York in July.
New York Film Academy Grad Stars in Damsels in Distress
Analeigh Tipton continues to make us proud. This time starring in the new film, Damsels in Distress, which is now playing in New York and Los Angeles. Tipton attended New York Film Academy’s high school six-week filmmaking program and never looked back. From there she landed a spot on America’s Next Top Model, and before she knew it was sharing scenes with Steve Carrell and Seth Rogen.
Her latest film, Damsels in Distress, follows a trio of beautiful girls who set out to revolutionize life at a grungy East Coast College. They spot our lost-looking graduate, Analeigh Tipton playing the role of ‘Lily,’ and take her under their wing. Tipton shares the screen with Adam Brody from the popular television show The O.C.
We’re anxious to see what’s next in Tipton’s sky-rocketing career!
New York Film Academy Graduate To Screen Film At Tribeca Film Festival
The Tribeca Film Festival was created in 2002 by Robert De Niro, in response to the declining vitality of Manhattan’s Tribeca community following the attacks of 9/11. Since its launch ten years ago, Tribeca Film Festival has established itself as one of the premier film festivals in the world for independent features, documentaries, and shorts. Their mission: “to enable the international film community and the general public to experience the power of film by redefining the film festival experience.”
This year, Tribeca recognized one of New York Film Academy’s international graduates, Martin Rosete. Martin came to New York Film Academy in 2007 thanks to a scholarship from the La Caixa Fellowship Program in Spain. “At that time I could not even dream everything that I was about to learn at NYFA and all the opportunities that this would give me in the professional world.” Now, Martin has a film, Voice Over, being screened at Tribeca and an agent at William Morris Endeavor. His future is ripe for success.
What drives you as an artist?
Outstanding stories. That is what moves me. When I fall in love with a script or story, I am able to commit myself to all the time and pressure that goes into making a movie. If the story is not amazing, it is not worth putting all your energy into. That’s what happened to me with Voice Over. When the writer, Luiso Berdejo, let me read it, I fell completely in love with it and I told him that I would die to direct it. Fifteen months later, we finished Voice Over and now we’re in Tribeca amongst many other film festivals. I also have an agent from William Morris Endeavor and I’m reading many feature scripts. It is a really exciting moment.
Can you tell us about your experience at NYFA?
NYFA is a great place to study filmmaking. It completely focuses on the hands-on experience. I was shooting almost every week on my projects - or classmates’ projects.
In addition to directing, you also gain a sense of each department (sound, photography, editing, etc.) When you leave NYFA, you have a strong understanding about what it takes to make a movie, and that puts you in a great position to enter the professional world.
Also, what I loved the most about NYFA was their advanced equipment (cameras, lighting, etc.) I was able to use the equipment all the time. So, if you go there with the idea of shooting constantly, they will provide you with the resources to shoot 24/7. That is something that no other film school is able to offer.
What is your perspective on screening at film festivals? Advice on the process?
Film Festivals are the main doors to the professional world. Being in the big ones and winning awards, gives you the visibility needed to find the right producer, agent, or investor, interested in your work. My work has been selected in more than 500 film festivals, winning over 100 awards. The only secret is to have something good to show and finding the resources to distribute your work.
With Voice Over we have been super lucky to find the support of the distribution company Marvin & Wayne, The Line Between, Mas Medios, and Genepsis Media who are taking care of the online marketing and social media.
What kind of advice would you give to the aspiring filmmaker and NYFA student dreaming to succeed?
Whatever you do, do it right. Even if you are doing a small project with no budget. Try your best. Put all of your energy and passion into it. Sometimes the result won’t be great, but you may get a good lesson that you can apply in the next shooting. I always joke with my crew, even on low budget sets, telling them that we have to face the shoot as if we were doing Ben-Hur. That kind of commitment from everyone makes the difference. And besides all of that, for me it’s very important to show respect for the profession and for the professionals involved.
New York Film Academy Acting For Film Showcase
Are these actors ready for the cover of Vanity Fair, or what? Students from New York Film Academy’s MFA Acting for Film program participated in an industry showcase that brought out scores of entertainment professionals. Produced by Valorie Hubbard and directed by NYFA instructors Maria Gobetti, Anthony Montes, and Tom Ormeny, the performances featured short film clips, scenes, and monologues from 28 actors. The event was held shortly before the students’ graduation, and was a huge success, with all 28 actors receiving callbacks from agents and managers! Congratulations to our rising stars!
September 2010 MFA Acting for Film - Photos by Astor Morgan
This past week followers such as @vdvalor, @hollywood_trey, and @putyrdreams1st shared their favorite TV show movie adaptations. We especially loved how @ljfrack wants the Arrested Development film out right now. Can you blame her? Moreover, we posted our Top 5 Robert De Niro movies of all time and received a slew of opinions. @abuthabt007 and many others were riled over The Deer Hunter exclusion and our Facebook fans were abuzz with their own favorites. Amusingly, some of the films didn’t even feature Robert De Niro on the cast! Reservoir Dogs? As always, we appreciate fine folks like @KarinnePatricia and @agnesagathia sharing with us their journey as newly minted #NYFA students. Those are the type of tweets we absolutely live for!
New York Film Academy’s Crystle Stewart On Her Way With Tyler Perry
Acting for Film graduate Crystle Stewart has kept a busy schedule since her recent graduation. She stars on the TBS show For Better or Worse, which was just picked up for another 35 episodes. Last year, it was named basic cable’s #1 sitcom, and was the most-watched show on any network for African-American adults.
Crystle is a former pageant winner, claiming the title of Miss Texas USA before winning Miss USA 2008. She went on to represent the US in the Miss Universe competition. Soon after, she decided to pursue a career in acting by studying at New York Film Academy. In a phone interview, Crystle said, “I wanted to give it a try and decided to move to Los Angeles. I really enjoyed it. The teachers were fantastic! To me, you either have experience or you get an education. New York Film Academy totally prepared me for my role.”
Crystle landed the role after a chance meeting with Tyler Perry. “I was eating at a restaurant in Beverly Hills and he came in. My boyfriend introduced me and Tyler said, ‘Have a seat. Are you an actress?’ The next day, I got a call from his casting director!”
She soon booked the part of Leslie on For Better or Worse. She explains, “I love the character. She’s the peacemaker on the show. I’m more the mellow person that calms everyone down. I speak the truth to them, even if they don’t want to hear it. It’s more of a drama, but it’s not Tyler Perry if there’s not some comedy thrown in!”
Crystle also had a small role in the film Good Deeds, which is currently in theaters. She spoke glowingly about working with the stellar cast that included Phylicia Rashad, Thandie Newton, Rebecca Romijn, and Gabrielle Union.
After news that the show was renewed, Crystle says she is ready to get back to business. “I’ve never been so excited to go back to work!” she said. “We start shooting this month and new episodes should be airing in the fall.”
Producer Chris Brigham and His Road to “Inception”
Chris Brigham isn’t your typical “Hollywood” producer, which comes as a surprise, considering he produced global blockbusters such as Inception, The Aviator, and Analyze This. He doesn’t even live in Hollywood. “New York is a great place for a producer right now, especially with the tax breaks. There are more shows here now, which means more jobs.” Aspiring filmmakers looking to develop stories, however, should still consider Los Angeles. Everyone’s path will be different. It’s up to each individual to recognize which is one’s true calling. “Not everyone will have the chops for this business.”
As the guest speaker for our Q&A on Thursday, Chris shared with us his journey from a P.A. in New York to the Hollywood powerhouse he is today. Hustling his way to the top, there was much to be learned in terms of film production. Most importantly, he learned quite a bit about dealing with people, which is something he credits to the Teamsters. The motto? “Money talks. Bullshit walks.” New York is a ‘show me’ city where you have to back up what you’re saying. Chris realized his ability in handling people and their problems was a valuable skill in the industry. Soon, he began finding steady work as a line producer.
So what is a line producer? “It’s a critical job. You are the eyes and the ears managing the movie. Being a line producer demands entrepreneurial skills.” Highlighting some of the details of his job, one learns it’s not your typical 9 to 5. Being a freelance line producer requires a lot of travel, networking, and wisdom to find the right project. “It’s better to work on quality projects but it’s a lot of hard work.”
His recommendation for filmmaking success? “Get your foot in the door. Make phone calls and start out as a P.A. on set.” Eventually you’ll build a reputation and, who knows, you may end up waking up one day with a call from Christopher Nolan’s team to work on Inception. Luck may play a part, however, this game is a foot-race and the last person standing is the one who makes it in this business. Whether it’s writing, directing, acting or producing, there are thousands of people trying to do the same thing you want to do. The key is not losing sight of your dreams.
What about maintaining a family and some sort of normalcy? Chris recounted some of his struggles balancing career and family. He recalled a shoot in Montreal where he drove six hours to see his wife and kids on the weekends. Character is indispensable. It seems kindness, too, can pay off in a business with a bad reputation for its conceited personalities.
Twitter was abuzz for Brigham’s appearance. Irrefutably, the most submitted question of the night was “Is film school worth it?” In response, Chris cited his very first film class in college learning about Fellini and Kurosawa. It sparked his passion for the craft. He encouraged our students to collaborate, build bonds, and sustain a network. In this industry, it’s crucial to meet the right people. Create a foundation for yourself. Film school is what you make of it.
After the Q&A, Chris handled individual students with personal questions, ranging from “Can I meet Christopher Nolan?” to “How do I get my screenplay funded?” Chris stayed for a good 45 minutes afterwards, patiently handling questions and proving to us how integrity can go a long way.
New York Film Academy Student On “Exploiting Your School Environment”
New York Film Academy student Ella Nuortila was featured on Finland blog, FINNYC this week. Ella (a Finland native) is in her first year of the one-year producing program at New York Film Academy’s New York campus, and has just wrapped filming her first two short films. Check out what Ella had to say in this great interview:
How do you think the study environment is different here compared to Finland?
E: Our class is very small, only seven people. That makes the studying more “mentor-type” and we get very hands-on education although there is a lot of room for own creativity. We are able to choose our own projects and the crew for the film, even from outside of the school environment. This enables us to build our contacts and exploit our school environment at the same time.
What are the greatest advantages of learning film producing in New York, as we know you are going to finish your studies in Helsinki Metropolia School of Applied Sciences in couple of years?
E: It’s definitely the amount of possibilities in terms of finding other independent film producers, shooting locations, and other professionals in the field. For example, there isn’t really a location specialist title in Finland but here you can request special features for the location and they will find it.
Your school program is only one year; how does your spring look like?
E: We are going to shoot a music video which I’m very excited about – I’ve been part of music videos before but not behind the camera and during the whole process from the beginning with discussing with the artist. In addition, we are doing an advertisement, and as the last project I’ll write my “thesis” that is basically writing the Package for my movie idea that I can later pitch to producers and investors.
And after school? Will you stay in New York?
My student visa enables me to work for 12 months after I finish my studies at the New York Film Academy. I hope to find a paid internship or a job so that I could stay here and take advantage of this time as best as I can. This is definitely an opportunity that everyone and anyone should experience. If you want it, you can do it.