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Tag Archives: directing

DFA Grad Writing Screenplay for Ridley Scott!

Alexander Felix took a long road to Hollywood, but on the way, he kept his focus on his end goal: to write amazing screenplays.

He credits his writing success to his real-life experiences and his filmmaking background. A graduate of the Digital Film Academy, he recalls his time there as extremely important because it taught him to see things visually. Being able to “visualize what the end product needs to look like” is more important in the world of screenwriting than people realize. It’s certainly helped garner Felix much-deserved attention.

On set at the DFA.
Setting the scene at the DFA.

Felix also notes that the DFA is not a super-expensive school, but one that has “a solid curriculum and (where) everything is very hands-on.” His experiences with directing and cinematography while in the program were inspirational, and he remains open to one day directing his own work.

After his time in NYC and with the DFA, Felix felt ready to make the move to LA and pursue his writing – but fate had other plans. On a cross-country drive, his car broke down in Michigan, prompting an extended stay in Detroit. It wasn’t what he’d planned, but it wound up being a blessing in disguise: while there, he finished writing the Detroit-based Where Angels Die. Being in Detroit, he was inspired by his surroundings and able to location-scout as the script took shape.

Screenwriter Alexander Felix
Screenwriter Alexander Felix

Angels was his seventh feature script – and the one that brought him enough attention to propel his career to the next level. It garnered a rave review from Script Shadow,  and before he knew it, Felix was talking with some heavy hitting agents and managers. He soon signed with two CAA agents, no small feat. A great two-part interview with Script Shadow gives more detail on this experience here.

Now, Felix is truly about to enter the big-time. He’s been officially brought on to adapt Vicious, a V.E. Schwab novel about two pre-med students who discover how people can develop superpowers, with intense consequences. Scott Free, Ridley Scott’s production company, and Story Mining & Supply Co. bought the rights to the book last December and, among others, Ridley Scott will be producing.

Cover for Vicious
Cover for Vicious

This may be the film to help turn Felix from a promising newcomer to a Hollywood VIP. Stay tuned!

To read more about the deal, click here.

 

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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Top 5 Take-aways from the DFA Open House

True to form, the DFA Open House did not disappoint! The two hours were packed with three informative demos that gave attendees a wealth of information.

Here are the top 5 take-aways from the open house:

1. “The director is king… but the audience is GOD.”

This is at the core of what the DFA advocates and how they teach their students. As DFA President Patrick DiRenna says, “The most important ‘person’ to a production is not the star or the DP or even the director… it’s the audience.” The entire goal of film is to get the audience to feel what you want when you want them to feel it – and the DFA is the place to help students figure out how to do just that!

Patrick DiRenna teaches the DFA philosophy.
Patrick DiRenna teaches the DFA philosophy.

2. Film requires skill sets – including how to be a business person.

People sometimes forget that, in addition to being an expert in a particular craft or skill set (lighting, camerawork, audio, etc.), they also need to be great business people in order to succeed in film.

Attendees got a taste of how to think about and market their work and themselves.

3. First Accredited Web TV Production Program!!!

In huge news, the DFA now has the country’s first accredited Web TV Production program. In an age where entertainment is moving online – and the opportunities for development in that area seem endless – this presents a major opportunity to enterprising students.

Corey Christian walks the room through the finer points of editing.
Corey Christian walks the room through the finer points of editing.

4. Avid Media Composer (and RED camera footage) are AMAZING.

You probably knew this already, but Equipment/Facilities Manager Corey Christian showed attendees why. AMC not only has an amazing ‘warp stabilizer’ feature which can help filmmakers steady shaky camerawork after-the-fact, but it can also take wide shots and turn them into excellent close-ups. Corey taught attendees how to use these features.

Essentially, filmmakers now have the option to take previously unusable footage and sculpt it into great shots – saving time and money.

A volunteer becomes Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
A volunteer becomes Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

5. ADR is not as hard as you may think!

Director of Operations and audio wizard Guy Mor handed out flash drives and guided attendees into the world of additional digital recording. One lucky volunteer got to replace the voice of Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, saying “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Mor showed the class how to replace Judy’s original line and make it sound seamless – in less than fifteen minutes.

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what students could learn when they enroll at the DFA. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain.

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Q&A: DFA Student Steven Young!

Born in Harlem, New York, Steven Young grew up listening to the likes of The Beatles, James Brown, and Michael Jackson. At age 9, he came across the parody video “I’m Fat” by Weird Al Yankovic and saw something that combined his love for music and entertainment.

After shooting two music videos independently, Steven decided to crossover into writing and creating short films, which led him to attend the Digital Film Academy.

DFA: What attracted you to the Digital Film Academy?

SY: The opportunities that DFA presented.

DFA: What opportunities presented themselves to you?

SY: For one, I knew going in that what I learned would not only teach me how to use the equipment but how to excel in my field. Secondly, I knew what I was learning would apply to my everyday work.

DFA: What program did you take at the Digital Film Academy?

SY: One-Year Advanced.

DFA: What class did you like the most and why?

SY: I would say my favorite class here was the directing class, which was taught by Patrick DiRenna. It was one of my favorites because it gave me insight on how to direct an actor and how to make the audience feel how I want them to feel.

DFA: What are you currently working on?

SY: I am currently working on my thesis short film Double Dealing, which is in the post-production stages.

On the set of the feature film Uncommitted.
On the set of the feature film Uncommitted.

DFA: What is Double Dealing about?

SY: It’s about how my character Collin returns to New York after being gone for several years to visit a college friend who has been attacked by an unknown attacker.

DFA: Will you tell us why he’s being attacked?

SY: See the film!

DFA: When your thesis is completed, will you be submitting it to film festivals?

SY: Indeed.

DFA: What is your area of expertise?

SY: Audio Engineering, but I also enjoy writing and directing.

DFA: What is your favorite piece of equipment to use and why?

SY: My favorite piece of equipment is the R88 which allows me to record sound for eight different channels and do a pre-mix before heading into post. Touch Screen is always awesome.

Steven Young playing with audio.
Steven Young doing live audio recording for the Stevie Boi fashion week fashion show.

DFA: Who is your favorite director?

SY: You know, I would have to say Scorsese.

DFA: Give me your top three movies of all time?

SY: Goodfellas, Good Will Hunting, and The Departed.

DFA: Did any of these films influence your short film, Double Dealing?

SY: Maybe The Departed, but not really.

DFA: What is your favorite genre to watch? And is it different from the genre that you shoot?

SY: I would have to say I’m into the more sci-fi action type of films even though I mainly write suspense dramas.

DFA: What are your future plans?

SY: In the future I would like to do more writing and directing as well as start my own production company.

DFA: Any piece of advice for young, aspiring filmmakers?

SY: My advice is to have fun and believe in creative freedom.

By Digital Film Academy Student Blogger Harley Page.

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Why the DFA Open House is a Must-See!

You know the regular school open house drill: sit in a chair with some strangers, hear a few words from a professor about what you would do in his class, maybe hear some success stories about former students…

But the Digital Film Academy Open House is no regular open house.

The DFA is all about getting students working in film – and their open house on Saturday, March 8th from 3-5pm in NYC is no different.

At this totally free event, attendees won’t just get to see the facilities and network with current/former students and professors. They’ll also take part in three hands-on demonstrations:

Directing

Directing Demo: Ever dreamed of commanding your own set as a director? Taught by Patrick DiRenna, the President of the DFA, this directing crash course gives attendees the “magic formula to create the perfect shot.” Guests will learn how to set up two different, dramatic SteadyCam shots and will also be taught the primary functions of a director.

ADR

ADR (Additional Dialog Recording) Demo: Imagine this: you’ve yelled “Cut!,” you’re bursting with excitement over what you filmed, and you get into editing – only to discover that the sound is a garbled mess. Something went wrong – so now, is your project dead?

Absolutely not, because you can replace that original dialog – if you know what you’re doing! Guy Mor, the DFA Director of Operations and an audio wizard, will show you how to both replace bad audio and record audio for animation… the best part? Attendees can take part in a fun exercise, re-recording audio for famous movie lines such as “Hasta la vista, baby” – and enjoy the results.

Media composer

Avid Media Composer Demo: Two things are hot right now in the world of film: Avid Media Composer, the most widely-used non-linear editing program for professional film, and the Red camera. (In fact, most DFA grads report being able to easily find work after graduation thanks to their continued free access to the expensive Red camera through the DFA membership program.) In this demo, DFA Equipment/Facilities manager Corey Christian works with both, showing how to load footage from the Red camera into Avid Media Composer and use the software to create a perfect final image.

If you’ve ever considered a career in film, what are you waiting for? Come to the DFA Open House to make connections, learn tricks of the trade, and see if you’re ready to take the next step to “monetize your media!”

RSVP today at DFA Open House.

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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