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Archive for 'February 2016'

    Celebrating the Year of the Monkey

    Students and faculty collaborate on this year’s float and present a taste of the Academy’s story

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    Three monkeys and the Monkey King take center stage during the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade. Photo by Bob Toy.

    The Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco was a stunning event on Saturday. Feb. 20 as city streets were blocked off and citizens flocked to the path of the parade where 150 companies and schools participated. Academy of Art University students and faculty were among the excited crowd and participated yet again this year for the Chinese Year of the Monkey. The concept design for the float this year is directly correlated to the Chinese story of the Monkey King. So many people involved with the Academy made a tremendous effort for this year’s parade float and musical number.

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    MPTV Instructor Helps Students Get to Hollywood

    Doug Campbell invites students to visit film sets and learn from the pros

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    Students visiting set in L.A.: (L–R) Directing student Keah Moffett, MPTV instructor Doug Campbell and directing student Yana Das on the set of The Cheating Pact.

    Since the fall of 2010, Academy of Art University School of Motion Pictures and Television instructor Doug Campbell has been teaching directing and acting for film on Thursdays and Fridays. When he’s not teaching at the Academy, Campbell writes and directs feature films in Los Angeles for Shadowland Films. He has directed 18 features since 2009, and on each film, Campbell invites Academy students to visit the set and observe. 

    In a recent Q&A, Campbell shared how he got his start with Shadowland Films, what a typical day for him is like while he’s filming and how students can apply for a set visit. 

    What kinds of films are you making for Shadowland Films?

    They’re low budget, mother-daughter melodramas. They’re a blast to make. We shoot them fast, in 15 days, sometimes less. Most of the time these films are broadcast by the Lifetime Channel. In December and January, we had two films premiere and 11 of our films airing in total. I’ve been really lucky.

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    "Elvis III" Creators Visit the Academy's Auto Museum

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    (L-R) Francesco Attolico, Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens, John D'Agostino and Lorenzo "Dox" Dossena.

    Earlier this month, Academy of Art University had the honor of hosting the creators of the "Elvis III." The 1959 Cadillac De Ville coupe is third in a series of custom Elvis Presley tribute cars. 

    Per Barrett-Jackson.com, "this Cadillac underwent a complete body-off restoration at [John D’Agostino's] Celebrity Kustoms facility in Italy. This very project is considered the first-ever Italian-made American custom car."

    President Elisa Stephens met with D'Agostino, Francesco Attolico and Lorenzo "Dox" Dossena at the Academy's Auto Museum, where they shared more about their beautifully restored creation.

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    Blue Sky Studios Reps Stress Importance of Color Values and Advise Prospective Interns to Make Them Laugh

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    Photo by Edgar Mojica.

    Flying high on the success of The Peanuts Movie, representatives from Blue Sky Studios came to Academy of Art University on Feb. 17 to share information on internship opportunities and what it’s like to work at their company. But what students found most interesting was a detailed presentation by Blue Sky color key artist Mike Lee on color and light. 

    “I’ve been experimenting with color on my personal projects, trying to get good at it, so I took some notes,” said Academy senior Angela Harris, a 3-D modeling major. “My favorite part was when he was stressing value, because that’s what I believe I was missing. I’m gonna go back and study value more.”

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    A Modern Day Sports Figure

    When you see multimedia communications student MaKayla Keating walking down an Academy of Art University hallway, you wouldn’t pick her out as the typical Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. Yet the diminutive five-foot-two 20-year-old trains seven days a week at different gyms around San Francisco and is quickly achieving success in her weight class, in Jiu jitsu, Muay Thai and MMA competitions.

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    Revenge on His Mind: Kenneth Ning F/W 2016

    One of humanity’s most basic instincts is that of revenge. Stories of retribution are some of the oldest, and also some of the most entertaining, if not inspirational. Characters contemplating vengeance abide by their own fashion codes. There are those seeking understated elegance to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to the act of reprisal. Others can only be satisfied if there is an audience to witness the full life’s dramatic theater. No matter your payback strategy, one particular collection by Academy of Art University graduate and rising designer Kenneth Ning showcased many performance-enhancing choices for the modern avengers during his solo debut at New York Fashion Week: Men’s.

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    Lyrical Line and the Art of Mechanization

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    Photo courtesy of Ira Sherman.

    In December of 2015, the renowned Denver based sculptor Ira Sherman, was a guest lecturer at the School of Jewelry and Metal Arts. The event, in collaboration with the Metal Art Guild, was a unique view into his world. Ira’s career, which currently spans 40 years, began with his work as a goldsmith. His current body of work fuses science and technology in a truly unique approach, interacting with the viewer in surprisingly intimate and challenging ways. His lecture to a full house at the 79 New Montgomery theater, left students and faculty alike in awe and is still being talked about months later.


    “The mechanics are the aesthetics and the aesthetics are the mechanics.” Ira Sherman sums up his work in this sentence. It forms the core of all the work he is most passionate about and now has time to create, explore and really enjoy building. Researching his work, I felt confused as to who the real Sherman was, but after listening to him talk I found the “lyrical line” (a word he uses often) that connects his innate design sensibility to all of his creations—whether it is jewelry, a liturgical piece, public art or any of his mechanized/wearable pieces.

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    The Humanity Behind the Impossible

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    Taron Egerton, left, and Hugh Jackman star in Eddie the Eagle. Photo by Larry Horricks. TM and © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

    Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Prisoners) are soaring into theaters with their new film, Eddie the Eagle, directed by Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill). The film is based on the inspirational true story of British ski jumper Michael “Eddie” Edwards (played by Egerton), who was determined to follow his dream of becoming an Olympian even when everyone around him deemed it impossible.

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    John Hillcoat Brings Authenticity to the Big Screen in 'Triple 9'

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    Anthony Mackie and Casey Affleck in Triple 9. Photo credit: Bob Mahoney. Distributor: Open Road Films.

    Triple 9, the newest film from acclaimed director John Hillcoat (Lawless, The Road), focuses on a gang of bank robbers, made up of former Special Forces and corrupt cops, that are mixed up with the Russian Mob. Catching the attention of the Atlanta police force after their most recent robbery resulted in freeway havoc, the group devises a plan to create a distraction in the form of a “999,” police code for officer down, in order to complete their next high stakes heist at the behest of a cutthroat mob boss. The action-packed thriller looks at the world of crime in explosive fashion and features an all star cast with Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus and Woody Harrelson at the helm.

    Academy Art U News recently had the opportunity to sit down with Hillcoat to discuss the amazing cast he assembled for his latest directorial effort, the importance of color used throughout the film and what advice he has for student directors.

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    Film Review: 'Touched With Fire'

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    Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby in Paul Dalio’s Touched With Fire. Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

    Touched With Fire is a compelling film about two young people with bipolar disorder who meet in a psychiatric hospital and fall in love. Carla, played by Katie Holmes, is a published poet. Marco (Luke Kirby), is a less successful but equally gifted writer and artist who, when manic, believes he is from the moon and calls himself  “Luna.” The couple’s shared illness both strengthens their bond and threatens to destroy it as they struggle to manage their symptoms, disagree about the benefits of medication and try to cope with their families’ concerns about their relationship.

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    Aaron Paul Talks 'Triple 9'

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    Aaron Paul in Triple 9. Photo credit: Bob Mahoney. Distributor: Open Road Films.

    Three-time Emmy Award winner Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Need for Speed) stars alongside Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Norman Reedus and Woody Harrelson in director John Hillcoat’s gritty new crime thriller, Triple 9. Paul channels a certain familiarity into his role as the troubled Gabe Welch, an ex-cop entrenched in a crew of bank robbers with ties to the Russian Mob. Tasked with an impossible heist, the idea of manufacturing a triple 9, police code for “officer down,” as a way to distract the Atlanta police force is floated by his cohorts who see no problem in taking out a cop to accomplish the job at hand. Dealing with the group’s decision, Gabe finds himself at the one line he’s not as willing as the others to cross.

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    Visual Development Artist and Alumnus Nick Orsi Shares His Disney Experience

    Students were excited to learn the ins and outs of life as a character artist

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    A packed theater at 79 New Montgomery for alumnus and visual development artist Nick Orsi (pictured center). Photo courtesy of Becky Johnson.

    Academy of Art University alumnus Nick Orsi shared his experience as a character artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios with a group of enthusiastic Academy students last month. Orsi graduated from the Academy with a degree in 2-D animation and continued on as an intern with Walt Disney Animation Studios in Southern California. He assisted on his first feature film, Zootopia, produced by Disney and directed by Byron Howard (Bolt, Tangled), Rich Moore (Wreck-It-Ralph, The Simpsons) and Jared Bush.

    Disney’s 55th animated film, written by Bush and Phil Johnston (Wreck-It-Ralph), follows Judy Hopp (Ginnifer Goodwin) who wants more than anything to be a police officer. However, in the utopic land, the traditional candidates for police officers are much larger animals. Judy ends up becoming a “meter maid,” instead of the glorious hero she wishes to be. While out on the job, she meets Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and together they must solve a seemingly controversial conspiracy. The land Zootopia in and of itself proclaims that anyone can be anything and Judy lives by this treasured ideal.

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    School of Animation’s Studio X Work on Oscar-Nominated 'Theeb'

    The class gained valuable special effects experience contributing to the Best Foreign Language Film contender

    For Academy of Ar tUniversity students in instructor Catherine Tate’s Studio X (400A) Fall 2014 class, this year’s Oscar nominations were extra exciting. The class worked on special effects for the Jordanian movie Theeb, an Academy Award contender for Best Foreign Language film.

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    Academy of Art Represents the Rebellious Year of the Monkey for 2016

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    Bob Toy directs students from the Shaolin Temple Kung Fu school. Courtesy of Bob Toy.

    This year Academy of Art University celebrates the Year of the Monkey by exhibiting the infamous legend of the Monkey King (Journey to the West) for San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade. The annual festivities takes place Saturday, Feb. 20.

    The Academy’s involvement in this vibrant and entertaining event the last couple of years was recently rewarded. Just this past year, the Academy’s float was recognized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, receiving the Most Artistic Float Award. Bob Toy, publications and special events project manager, is returning this year as the project manager and art director for the Academy’s float. In addition to leading the team in designing the float, Toy was also asked to direct the opening number of the Chinese New Year Parade.

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    School of Web Design + New Media Host Inaugural Ideate Conference

    WNM students presented their portfolios to top Bay Area companies, shared their projects during the Tech Showcase and received key advice from guest speakers

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    (L-R) School of Advertising Department Manager Liz Lantz, Director of the School of Web Design + New Media Ryan Medeiros, Design Lead DC Scarpelli, Academic Administrator Jenna Robinson, Motion Graphics Lead Colin Sebestyen and Director of the School of Advertising Andrea Pimentel. Photo by Bob Toy.

    As the Fall 2015 semeste rcame to a close, the School of Web Design + New Media (WMN) at Academy of Art University hosted their first-ever Ideate Conference at 180 New Montgomery. Director Ryan Medeiros explained that the department sees this event as becoming their must-attend end of the semester event, much like the School of Fashion’s Graduation Fashion Show. “We’re looking to have the best guest speakers, best industry representatives coming every semester and have it be like a real event,” he said. “Also, I think it gives students something to look forward to at the end of the semester.”

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    Experience the World of 'The Hunger Games'

    Relive the journey of Katniss Everdeen during the latest tour stop of The Hunger Games: The Exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts

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    Photo by Drew Altizer Photography. © 2016 Drew Altizer. All rights reserved.

    The Innovation Hangar at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is currently home to The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, which will be running through July 31. For fans of the hugely successful film franchise, this exquisite exhibit is 12,000 square feet and features seven galleries (District 12, The Tribute Train, The Capitol, Making The Games, District 13, Katniss’ Journey and the Fan Gallery), 46 costumes, over 1,000 authentic props from The Hunger Games film sets and various interactive displays. (A personal favorite: Cinna’s interactive sketchbook, where you can learn all about Katniss Everdeen’s gorgeous dresses and Mockingjay armor.)

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    'How to Be Single' Offers a Fresh Take on Twenty-Somethings in New York

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    Caption: (L-R) Rebel Wilson as Robin and Dakota Johnson as Alice in New Line Cinema's, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures' and Flower Films' comedy How to Be Single, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Copyright: © 2016 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT, LLC. Photo Credit: Jojo Whilden.

    The first time Dana Fox reported for work on the set of her own movie she found herself overcome by the magnitude of it all. Back in 2007, the writer and producer was filming What Happens in Vegas, starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, when she suddenly stopped to take it all in. “I looked around and there were like 450 people making something that I just came up with in my head,” she said. “I started crying because it was so incredible. It was like being a magician. It was an amazing thing.”

    With her fourth film How to Be Single, which she co-wrote with Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, Fox is gaining momentum in the romantic comedy genre. And with a hilarious and talented cast that includes Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson and Leslie Mann the film may be the home run she's been hoping for.

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    Five Tips From Writer and Producer Dana Fox

    How to Be Single screenwriter and producer Dana Fox taught herself to write by analyzing episodes of Sex and the City. “I broke down a bunch of episodes and noticed a pattern,” she explained. “You present a theme, each one of the characters lives out a version of that theme, and at the end you realize that friends are the most important thing – I got it!”

    Fox always wanted to work in cinema and figured the business path would be the safest route to success, so after graduating from Stanford University, the A-plus student enrolled at USC's Peter Stark Producing Program. An assignment to write a 30-page screenplay revealed Fox's own talent for writing. And with four movies, including The Wedding Date (2005), What Happens in Vegas (2008), Couples Retreat (2009), and How to Be Single (2016), as well as a TV series Ben and Kate, the writer-producer has collected quite a bit of movie industry know-how in the last decade. Here are five important lessons she has learned.

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    Film Review: 'Deadpool'

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    Ryan Reynolds is Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, Deadpool. Photo Credit: Joe Lederer - TM & © 2015 Marvel & Subs. TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

    Tim Miller's directorial debut, Deadpool, will slap you in the face with unrelenting tongue-in-cheek raunchiness, pop culture references and samurai-like violence. The Tarantino level of combative action, along with a Van Wilder-esque performance from Ryan Reynolds as the sarcastic Wade Wilson/Deadpool, is the perfect recipe for "non-superhero" fun.

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    Film Review: 'Zoolander No. 2'

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    Ben Stiller plays Derek Zoolander and Owen Wilson plays Hansel in Zoolander No. 2 from Paramount Pictures. Photo credit: Philippe Antonello © 2015 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    It’s been 15 years since Zoolander introduced movie viewers to the dimwitted but sweet male super model Derek Zoolander and his trademark wide-eyed, pouty-lipped look, the Blue Steel. Like the original movie, the new sequel, Zoolander No. 2, stars Ben Stiller—who also directed both pictures—as Derek and Owen Wilson as his former rival turned sidekick, the equally simple-minded Hansel. Will Ferrell returns in his hilarious role as Derek’s arch enemy, the maniacal fashion designer Mugatu. Similar to its predecessor, Zoolander No. 2 is also peppered with cameo appearances from an eclectic mix of actors, fashion icons and other celebrities. Sting, Katy Perry, Anna Wintour and Neil deGrasse Tyson are just a few examples.

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    Film Review: 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'

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    Annabelle (Jess Radomska) chewing her grandfather in Screen Gems' Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

    Burr Steers' Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is bold, gory, and you guessed it, filled with zombies. Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who took the basis of the story from Jane Austen's novel, comes Steers' animated, innovative and snarky screenplay, which is a vast improvement from Grahame-Smith's butchering of the classic tale. Steers writes for a modern feminist audience, ready to route for the women in this story and laugh at the men who cower in the shadows of the ladies who are well trained in Asian combat.

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