Midnight Cowboy Cinematographer speaks at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, NYC.
Watch Awena’s Dream from New York Film Academy Cinematography student, Sameer Deshpande.
The New York Film Academy is having an Open House in Sydney, Australia! Join us on November 1, 2012 from 7:00PM-9:00PM at Metro Screen Paddington Town Hall
Contact NYFA for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 07 3337 7888.
“Seven Acts of Mercy is representative of the way I like to shoot movies and it is strongly connected to what and how I teach here at New York Film Academy.”
”Not only does NYFA teach you how to become an expert in your field, it also shows you how to build relationships, friendships and industry collaborations. The program is intense, but I like it that way. It teaches you to work under stress and control the situation even when everything is going wrong – which is basically what happens on set in the real world.” - Luigi Benvisto
Deep Freeze: Extreme Filmmaking in the Arctic North
New York Film Academy instructor Kirill Yusim recently returned from Alaska, where he worked as a camera operator for the History Channel show Ice Road Truckers. The documentary-style program follows truck drivers who operate on seasonal roads, crossing frozen lakes and rivers in remote arctic territories. Kirill filmed on Alaska’s Dalton Highway, a deserted 400-mile stretch of road that begins north of Fairbanks, and ends at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean.
“It was my first time in Alaska,” says Kirill. “I knew it was cold. They provided us with an outer layer, boots, pants, and gloves. I picked up a few thick under layers… At the coldest, we wore 5 layers. The weather was -10°F in Fairbanks, and by the time we got to Atigun Pass [about 300 miles away], it was -50°F. There was crazy wind, and you would go through 4 or 5 different weather conditions.”
“We were following trucks pretty closely, doing interviews with drivers, and working on story lines,” he explained. “We would stop at least 8-10 times throughout the day. I was in a chase vehicle and the truck was in front of us. Sometimes we would get out and set up the tripod. Most of the time I’d be fighting through waist-high snow.”
From their home base in Fairbanks, Kirill says, “The one-way trip would take up to 18 hours. They were long days. We had days where it was like 22 hours. We would stay in funny little hotels in Prudhoe Bay. It’s a dry town with no restaurants. The places we had to stay at looked like meat lockers. Probably the coolest thing was shooting time lapses of the northern lights,” says Kirlll. “We would set the exposure and shoot a picture every 8 seconds, [also] shooting transitions from day to night, and the moon rising.”
Kirill teaches courses in cinematography, lighting, and directing at New York Film Academy at Universal Studios. He says, “The fact that I’m able to teach here and listen to students, gather information, and practice at the same time — it’s given me confidence and knowledge [on the set], to know what I’m looking at and knowing where to be.”
To learn more about our Universal Studios campus, click here.
One Graduate’s Journey to the Cannes Film Festival
New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi grad Faraz Waqar’s graduation thesis film 9:11 AM was selected for its world premiere at the Festival de Cannes 2012 Short Films Corner. The Short Films Corner hands you an annual tailor-made program of industry meets, workshops and conferences that deal with strategic issues. Faraz will benefit from all the advantages of being an accredited attendee of the festival. He can access the Marché du Film exhibitors or those in the Village International. Faraz will also be able to network with all the biggest industry players, whether they are institutions, financiers and the most important international reps in the film business. Talk about opening some doors. What more can a film graduate ask for?
Tell us where your passion started?
Studying film and working in film was always my dream. Reviving the film industry in my own country through films has always been my goal. However, the pressure for financial success and lack of support from my family forced me to study Business Management instead of filmmaking. I spent 12 years working in the corporate world as a banker in the Middle East but never let my dream of becoming a filmmaker die. After achieving a fair degree of success in my business career and achieving financial independence, I was in a position to finally pursue my dream and passion.
What drives you as an artist?
The Middle East has played a very important role in the of human civilization. In recent years, however, this region has been in the media for all the wrong reasons. Cinema is the most powerful tool to make or break the image of a person, culture or country. Becoming a film director puts you in a position of immense power. You can influence the hearts and minds of people of the world. This is the best way to contribute something which will benefit your own culture. You also enjoy the immense opportunity to be creative. You’re having fun too.
I joined the 1-year Filmmaking program in Abu Dhabi last February. The institution brought to my doorstep the facilities and instruction that has trained so many prominent filmmakers in the United States. I graduated from NYFA two months ago. It was perhaps the most memorable year of my life. I truly lived my dream. The best part about studying at NYFA was learning from professors who had a wealth of experiences working as directors and cinematographers on world renowned film projects both in Hollywood and in the Middle East. The student body in Abu Dhabi is extremely diverse. We have classmates from Australia, India, Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Eastern Europe, Pakistan, Lebenon, Switzerland, Iraq, UAE, Nigeria and Denmark. It was superb because you got to make some wonderful friends from different cultures and benefit from their vastly different perspectives. I formed some very close friendships and enjoyed working with this diverse international group. Film school always ends up attracting the most creative and passionate people. The network I’ve established will benefit me in any project I pursue.
NYFA’s program is intensive and comprehensive. Film projects start from idea conception to script finalization, and ranges from casting, editing, production and post-production. I wrote, directed and edited 8 complete films during my one year at the school. In addition I was also involved in the production of 39 films in various capacities as part of the crew (short films, documentaries and music videos) for other directors. I got full freedom to experiment, shoot and work on different ideas and scripts for my projects.
We had access to some of the best film cameras in the world. We shot from digital to 16mm, 35mm and even on the Red Epic. It was amazing.
What is your perspective on screening at film festivals? Advice on the process?
Recognition at quality film festivals do add a lot of credibility to a new filmmaker’s profile. It gives one confidence as a professional to people. Recognition at a major festival immediately bring you into the spotlight, especially in a market where filmmaking is still in a nascent stage and the people in the industry all know each other. It helps bring your name into notice amongst all in the film making circle. Never make your film with the intention of getting into any particular festival. That is not the way I would do it. Be selective about the festivals you apply to once your film is complete. I believe that whatever comes naturally from your heart will represent you and what you are most passionate about. It will turn out to be your best work. It is also very important to present their films professionally. Films submitted should be properly branded. DVDs must be labelled, craft themed posters meticulously, and make sure to select originally composed or royalty-free music. This improves the chances of selection too. Every small detail helps.
What kind of advice would you give to the aspiring filmmaker and NYFA student dreaming to succeed?
Be yourself. Let your work be original. Let it be your best creative effort on a subject you are passionate about. It will naturally bring out the best in you. Believe in your work but never shy away from feedback and criticism from a trusted source. The audience is your consumer, and you must communicate a certain point of view. Being too abstract for the sake of being artistic may cause the message of your film to be lost. Be intelligent. Do not focus on controversial topics for the sake of controversy. Base your film on a controversial topic if you truly believe in it. Your script is everything. Make sure it’s perfect. Make sure it’s engaging and interesting.
Actors matter the most. Their performance can make or break your film. Select them wisely, prepare them well and value their time and effort. You cannot make a film alone. It’s a team effort. Your crew is contributing in a major way to give shape to your vision. Value them and treat them with respect. Build your team with the next project in mind. Don’t use and discard others. Selfishness and a bad attitude will take you nowhere in a very team-dependent industry.
Learn more about NYFA in Abu Dhabi. Click here.
New York Fashion Week Meets NEON Americana
New York City is often considered the matron metropolis impacting creativity and commerce throughout the globe. Many of our students do indeed pursue the career path illuminated by those glorious Hollywood lights. A peculiar breed of cinematic visionaries, however, has appeared in the arts and cultural scene seeking opportunities outside of movie studios and inside the illustrious world of New York high fashion. One student has stepped forward as arbiter of a brave artistic movement in a cultural age saturated by faux-freedom and endless hipster posturing. Steep Daniels (Cinematography ‘11) is spearheading the vision of NEON Americana.
“NEON Americana represents a new breed of young people, a new way of living. We are freed from social constructs, breaking through into the life they’ve always dreamed of. It represents the new way of living in which its vibrant characters charge through life, never taking ‘no’ for an answer—inspired to be the biggest, best version of themselves. They envision a post-apocalyptic America. One in which a lone television set appears to be the last one left after a cataclysmic event of epic proportions. We look inside the screen to find the next wave of Mankind: the NEON generation.”
As its name implies, NEON’s visual aesthetic is unapologetic in its brightly bold nod to the American spirit. Canadian-bred and hailing from Toronto, Steep exudes a passion which is reminiscent of the unabashed artistic ambition now seen as legend. The sort of creative character—a purity long lost—made famous by the Mudd Club kids in the late 70’s. The young Basquiat as graffiti artist SAMO. A sprightly Glenn O’Brien decades prior to his arrival at GQ magazine. Creatives fueled by youth and an earnestness, they were making their mark with a devil-may-care attitude of art trumps artist. When NYFA produces filmmakers like Daniels who conjure this golden nostalgia through a splashy collaboration with celebrity designer Stevie Boi, we want the student body to stand up and take notice. Stevie Boi’s ascent in fashion is remarkable. Backed by endorsements from pop culture icons Lady GaGa and Madonna, Boi is garnering acclaim for his ability to create drama through his designs. Therefore it is fascinating that he is becoming a character player in the vast NEON universe, a film series about artistic redemption in the heat of dystopian despair. The first subject of this series, Boi collaborated with Daniels in order to proclaim a new world order in the creative arts. “I’ve wanted to do a fashion film with a big artist for a long time and wanted to work with someone who represented a new form of fashion,” said Daniels.
Daniels has enlisted fellow NYFA students Sandra Stakic (Documentary Filmmaking ‘12) and Markus E. Mueller (Cinematography ‘10) to assist in building the NEON brand. Stakic is working on a nonfiction film documenting the creative process of Daniels while Mueller acts as Director of Photography for the project. Stakic credits Daniels for the concept and execution of NEON. As she explained, “It’s his energy which draws people. His willingness to collaborate inspires others around him to be creative.” Becoming friends on their first day of classes at NYFA, the graduates credit the NYFA faculty for inspiring their drive to succeed. “Andrea Swift was incredible. The documentary students became a family in the end. There was healthy competition and a total respect for the filmmaking process,” says Stakic. Recounting 18-hour work days, Daniels credits department chair John Loughlin for teaching him how to “connect the dots” and to stay focused on storytelling no matter the chaos being wrought on set. He also described a creative process unhindered by the oft-cited idea called financial compensation. Everyone involved, including set designers and actors, were not paid. As Daniels explained, “We did it for the passion of being creative. Boi came to Toronto on a bus to work on this film and told me that he was inspired by our willingness to bring everything and ask for nothing.”
Daniels is entering the New York arts scene in full force. NEON Americana will be screened during the Stevie Boi show for New York Fashion Week tomorrow on February 9th. He is also a part of SPiN New York’s annual Valentine’s Day benefit for M.A.D.A on February 14th hosted by the prince of Madagascar and actress Susan Sarandon. He designed the ping-pong table to be auctioned in order to raise proceeds for the foundation. Daniels is committed to expanding the NEON movement to include creative collaboration outside of the world of fashion. Working for passion with no promises, Steep Daniels never expected to have his art become a centerpiece for a designer deemed as the next fashion icon by Vogue Italia. He is living his vision aimed at shifting the paradigm of creativity and commerce.
New York Film Academy Cinematography Graduate Shoots in Singapore
New York Film Academy graduate Michael Zaw is actively working in the Singapore television industry as a Director of Cinematography. Since graduating from the January 2011 one-year cinematography course in New York, Michael has worked for the History Channel, Crime and Investigation Channel, Channel News Asia, and Singapore Local Channels.
Michael says that formal training helped him to distinguish the choices he can make in filmmaking and the differences between techniques and elements. He adds, “I am proud that I was in NYFA…I miss NYFA and NY very very much. I kept in touch with all my classmates, I love them so much.”
Insider Perspective: NYFA Students on Film School
Rebecca is a student of the one year cinematography program. She chose the New York Film Academy over a traditional four year film college for it’s cost-effectiveness and hands-on approach to film education. Though she she received scholarships at other film schools, Rebecca still found that NYFA was one of the most hands-on creative films schools of those she considered. Rebecca jumped into her film education immediately after graduating high school. Though she had no prior film experience, she found that being able to use the equipment early in the program allowed her to catch up to students who had. Rebecca doesn’t describe an easy experience, (and how could you expect and intensive program to be a walk in the park?), but she does describe a rewarding one. Take a look at her interview with the NYFA Blog for inside details about film school