Our 8 Week Filmmaking Students prep for their film shoot on location, just off Park Ave.
New York Film Academy 2011 Producing School graduate and native New Yorker, Nik Taneris, was recently covered on The Huffington Postfor his movie The Turnpike Killer and his film festival, The New York Horror and Exploitation Film Fest. The Turnpike Killer, which was directed by Evan Makrogiannis in 2009 and released this year, is billed as a thriller where “all roads lead to death.”
Interested in learning more about New York Film Academy’s hands-on intensive programs? Well, we’d love to meet you! Come and join us for our September Open House this weekend in New York City, Universal Studios, and Australia!
Next on The Euro Trip: Italy
After Paris and London, what’s next for New York Film Academy? Our admissions team hopes to find the next generation of Fellinis, De Sicas, and Sofia Lorens in Italy’s center of performing arts, Milan,and the Birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence, Italy. We had a chance to speak with our fellow Florentine and head of NYFA’s Florence Department, Diana Santi, about our upcoming trip.
Can you tell us what the audition process was like the last time you went to Italy?
The auditions and the Open Houses we did in Italy last year were amazing! Many prospective Italian students showed up to audition for our Acting Director, Roger Del Pozo. We also had a great turnout for my Filmmaking orientation session. The prospective students who participated were fantastic, very well prepared, talented, and ambitious.
Can you tell us about some of the talent you found there?
We found many talents! Not only in acting, but also in filmmaking, producing, and screenwriting. I think of Alexia Oldini, who just shot her first feature film here in New York and Jacopo Sarno who is currently a working actor in Italy.
Tell us why NYFA chose Florence as a location for its study abroad in Italy?
Florence is a beautiful city - very “international” and surrounded by a gorgeous country side. Florence is the perfect place to study filmmaking and acting for film. The city is extremely inspirational for students and its locations and monuments are ideal backgrounds for student films. Also, NYFA will give a free Vespa to all the students who apply for one year programs… a fantastic perk for scouting locations!
Do you feel it’s important for aspiring actors to come to the US?
I truly believe that acting is a constant research and an international experience can help the candidate grow as a person and as an artist. Also, the acting training we offer in New York City is totally different from the acting programs in Italy.
Want to meet up with us in Milan or Florence May 16th & May 18th? Click Here!
NYFA in Paris, je t’aime!
Jean-Baptiste Gueniffey is a Parisian storyteller who made his way to New York City in search of the truth. We asked, “What truth?” He simply replied, “The truth.” By the end of the interview, this aspiring screenwriter impressed us with his calm and collected demeanor and his matter-of-fact approach to life. Inspired by his childhood love of films and literature, Jean decided to take the plunge into screenwriting because he felt it was the most viable platform to impact the most minds of any audience. “What artist doesn’t want to challenge people and push their boundaries?”
Studying as a film editor in France, he reached out to French screenwriters working in America and they had suggested an education where one “writes and learns to correct what they write.” A personal friend also recommended the New York Film Academy after completing an eight-week intensive program. In search of a flexible program calendar where he could enroll in January, Jean felt our school was the perfect fit. He felt the screenwriting program helps one understand the structure of the story and how elements of motive and conflict are represented on the screen. He sees NYFA as the final step in entering the industry. Currently, Jean is developing a screenplay about an “unusual love” in New Orleans soon after the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Storytelling is, as Jean describes it, about “struggle” and the reality of conflict. “There’s no easy way out. Truth is, we live in an obscenely violent world.”
Jean points to the works of Frank Capra. “His films forces you to ask yourself, ‘What makes an individual matter in this world?’ That’s what inspires my work. I’m in search of what’s real. Genuine. Tangible.” When asked of his plans after NYFA, Jean admits he doesn’t think of the future too much. As he says, “Good things have to mature.” Live in the present moment. Take the plunge. Don’t fuss. Spoken like a true Zen master.
A London Filmmaker in New York City
Lucy Reevely began writing when she was 9 years old. She never told anyone. Not a soul. One day, however, a friend found one of her stories on her laptop and encouraged her to nurture her talent. Lucy’s journey as a filmmaker began recently as she realized her storytelling was visual by nature. Her imagination functions cinematically, and over the years, Lucy gradually decided to expand her repertoire. “Only I can capture the magic in my head, and I don’t want to depend on anyone else for my success.”
When she visited schools in New York City, Lucy found other institutions artistically restrictive and the curriculum far too regimented. She finds the New York Film Academy to have the perfect balance of freedom and direction. As she says, “No judgment. Just guidance.” Lucy praises her teachers like Michael Sandoval for knowing her voice and talent, their ability to get inside a student’s mind and guiding one’s vision, and never discouraging a pupil from an idea—no matter how farfetched it may seem at first. She simply characterized the student body as diverse. “What you create as an artist is what you experience. Working with people from all over the world, it’s definitely broadened my views on the world and my ability to adapt to another’s perspective.”
Lucy finds NYC the perfect place to hone her skills. Los Angeles seemed too studio-driven and wanted an environment where exploration was mandatory—no boundaries, no limits. To her London compatriots, she urges them to go abroad. “When you’re far from home, it forces you to grow. London’s industry is filled with soaps. If you want to work on features and original screenplays, come to New York.”
Oscar winning actress Holly Hunter joined us for a Q & A at New York Film Academy’s Union Square campus. The crowd was beyond capacity to learn more about the award winning actress’ career of trials and tribulations.
After graduating from her drama program in college, Holly moved to New York City to pursue professional acting. “I moved to New York City in 1980. New York felt organic. I loved it.” Hunter recalled a chance encounter in a stalled elevator, where she befriended playwright Beth Henley. Beth cast her in Miss Firecracker and it wasn’t long until Holly was being looked at by directors James L. Brooks and the Coen brothers for roles in Broadcast News and Raising Arizona. “I got hooked up with some really great filmmakers right away. Kindness is imperative in my career.”
In 1993, Holly had an epic year winning the Oscar for Best Actress in a leading role for the movie The Piano. She was also nominated for Supporting Actress for her role in The Firm – the same year. “It was one of the most extraordinary things that’s ever happened to me. Life is just really an unexpected thing that we deal with.”
Holly admits that even after her Oscar win she still found difficulty landing roles that she really wanted. She recalled having to audition for a role in Living Out Loud, which she knew she was perfect for. Holly had to prove herself to the director, even with a recent Oscar win under her belt. “It could be sexual politics when you’re going for a role. It comes down to your chemistry with the director.” Holly ended up landing the role through perseverance. Though she has maintained a very successful career, Holly considers herself a working actress and not a movie star.
Before leaving, Holly offered a bit of advice to crew members on a film set, “Turn your cell phones off!” Perhaps a lesson for all of us; whether it’s on set, at work, or in the classroom.
We had a slightly dark take on Earth Day, asking our @NYFA and Facebook followers what their favorite “end of the Earth” movies are. The Day After Tomorrow was the most mentioned, but there were some clever choices in the mix as well, like Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
And finally, there’s a new Mayor in town. It seems a certain “Joe” has taken the reigns on Foursquare. Who will oust him?
As always, we thank our loyal followers and look forward to another week of engaging social media.
Between Earth and Sky
Last year, Maria Stanisheva moved to New York City from Bulgaria to study documentary filmmaking at New York Film Academy. “I chose the NYFA Doc program because it was the most intense hands-on program I could find and I think it was a great choice! The program is structured around 6 film projects (two video logs and 4 shorts) in 11 months, which keeps us extremely busy (often meaning more than 10 hours per day in school.) I have had the steepest learning curve in my life and have learned from some of the best in their field - professors who are also very productive filmmakers. I also met some amazing young and diverse filmmakers. Doing a documentary program in a city like New York is amazing fun because you quickly get to know the city in its endless diversity.”
The New York Film Academy documentary student’s thesis Between Earth and Sky will focus on the healing process of a Sioux spiritual leader stricken with cancer. “I hope my next project will take me across America all the way to Nebraska where, together with my team, we will follow an Omaha Native American family.” Maria and her crew are joining Shoshana Phillips and her family hundreds of miles from their Omaha reservation. Cancer forced Shoshana to leave her tribe and move with her family to urban Michigan for treatment. Five years into the treatment, still suffering, her husband Nathan believes the traditional ways of the Sioux are her only chance.
Between Earth and Sky follows Nathan and the family as they travel back to their Omaha reservation in search of the most suitable willow poles from which they will construct a purification sweat lodge and ceremonial tipi. Nathan will build the tipi at a gathering of elders that takes place each May in front of the White House. Nathan plans to perform various rituals in which he will engage the elders and together they will pray for healing.