Post(s) tagged with "conservatory"

AFI Conservatory Alum Ben Kitchens Honored by The American Society of Cinematographers

Congratulations to AFI Conservatory alum Ben Kitchens! He has received an Honorable Mention for his Cinematography on AFI Alum film NARCOCORRIDO from The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC)! 

A ceremony announcing the winners in each category was held at the ASC Clubhouse on June 16. The awards are designed to showcase the artistic abilities of the next generation of filmmakers, with a focus on their cinematographic abilities.

(AFI Alumni)

Mel Brooks and David Lynch Receive Honorary Degrees

Today at the 2012 AFI Conservatory commencement, we were proud to confer Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa upon American comedy icon Mel Brooks and celebrated surrealist David Lynch for “contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image.” Both artists worked together on the Academy Award winning THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), with Lynch as director and screenwriter and Brooks as executive producer. Brooks and Lynch join previous AFI Honorary Degree recipients including Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, James Earl Jones, Nora Ephron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Helen Mirren, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.

For the first time, the AFI Conservatory commencement was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which was declared a cultural landmark in 1968. AFI graduating class representative Vanara Taing spoke about the importance of films, acknowledging the American Film Institute’s tenet that movies matter by saying, “It’s not just a movie – it’s a time to transcend.” In her remarks, Taing referred to AFI as “graduate school on steroids – we make 110 films over two years together.” 122 graduates of the AFI Conservatory received degrees at the ceremony.

AFI Conservatory Films Honored at the 39th Student Academy Awards

Congratulations to the AFI Conservatory thesis teams of NARCOCORRIDO and NANI, winners of the 39th Student Academy Awards in the Narrative film category! At last Saturday’s ceremony, The Bronze Medal went to NANI, directed by Justin Tipping, and the Silver Medal went to NARCOCORRIDO, directed by Ryan Prows.

The AFI Conservatory, named the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter for the quality of its instructors and speakers, and its “glittering parade of alumni,” was the only school at this year’s Student Academy Awards with multiple medal winners.

NARCOCORRIDO, directed and written by Ryan Prows, centers on a gravely ill border cop’s reckless cartel heist and the desperate souls destroyed in her wake. The AFI Conservatory thesis team also includes producer L. Onye Anyanwu, cinematographer Benjamin Kitchens, editor Jarod Shannon, production designer Callie Andreadis and story editor Shaye Ogbonna.

NANI, directed and co-written by Justin Tipping, tells the story of a teenage graffiti artist and an elderly nursing home resident who form an unlikely bond through misadventures in graffiti. The AFI Conservatory thesis team also includes producer West McDowell, co-screenwriter Joshua Beirne-Golden, cinematographer Soren Hiorth, editor Linda Jildmalm and production designer Bonnie Bacevich.


Wally Pfister to Receive the 2012 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal

Cinematographer and AFI Conservatory alum Wally Pfister will receive the 2012 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal. Pfister will be presented with the medal as part of the AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Shirley MacLaine, to be held at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City on June 7, 2012, and broadcast on TV Land on June 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Pfister’s has collaborated with director Christopher Nolan on
MEMENTO (2000), INSOMNIA (2002), BATMAN BEGINS (2005), THE PRESTIGE (2006), THE DARK KNIGHT (2008), INCEPTION (2010), for which Pfister received the Oscar, and this summer’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012). 

Mel Brooks and David Lynch to Receive Honorary Degrees at the 2012 AFI Conservatory Commencement

We are very excited to announce we will confer Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa upon American comedy icon Mel Brooks and celebrated surrealist David Lynch for “contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image” during AFI Conservatory commencement 2012 at Hollywood’s landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Both artists worked together on the Academy Award winning THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), with Lynch as director and screenwriter and Brooks as executive producer. 

Previous recipients of the AFI Honorary Degree include Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, James Earl Jones, Nora Ephron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Helen Mirren, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.

Mel Brooks is only one of 14 people who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony Award, and his artistry ranges from writing, directing and producing to acting and composing. Brooks got his start as a writer on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS in 1950, and later joined forces with Buck Henry in 1965 to create the hit television series GET SMART. Brooks’ first venture into film was as a voice actor in THE CRITIC (1963), which won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film. He again won the Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay, for his first feature, THE PRODUCERS (1968). Brooks is known for his comedy films including BLAZING SADDLES (1974), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), SILENT MOVIE (1976), HIGH ANXIETY (1977), HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 (1981), TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1983), SPACEBALLS (1987), LIFE STINKS (1991), ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS (1993) and DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT (1995). His films have been recognized by the American Film Institute as among the funniest American movies of all time, with three films in the top 15 of AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list; BLAZING SADDLES ranked #6, THE PRODUCERS ranked #11 and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN ranked #13.

Director, screenwriter, visual artist, composer/musical artist and AFI Conservatory alumnus David Lynch (AFI Class of 1970) is known for his darker, dreamlike explorations of American life. In 1977, his debut, ERASERHEAD, which began as his thesis film while attending AFI Conservatory, premiered at Filmex, the precursor to the American Film Institute’s AFI FEST. Since then, the award-winning filmmaker has continued to craft some of the world’s most immersive noir dreamscapes, gaining mainstream success and a reputation as an innovator. His film works range from sci-fi to crime-drama and include DUNE (1984), BLUE VELVET (1986), TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992), LOST HIGHWAY (1997), THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999), MULHOLLAND DR. (2001) and INLAND EMPIRE (2006). BLUE VELVET has been honored by AFI as one of the greatest mysteries of all time and as one of America’s most heart-pounding movies in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills. Also, Frank Booth from BLUE VELVET was ranked among the greatest villains of all time on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list.

Among the premier theaters in Los Angeles, 2012 marks the first AFI Commencement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which opened in 1927. For the past three years, Grauman’s Chinese has been the exhibition home to AFI Fest, the American Film Institute’s annual celebration of excellence in global cinema, with Hollywood Boulevard lighting up over eight consecutive nights each November with red carpet premieres and screenings.

AFI Alums Launch New YouTube Channel WIGS

There is some exciting new content from AFI Conservatory alums Jon Avnet (AFI Class of 1972) (BLACK SWAN, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, RISKY BUSINESS and Rodrigo Garcia (AFI Class of 1986) (ALBERT NOBBS, IN TREATMENT, MOTHER AND CHILD) on YouTube. The two have joined forces to create and launch WIGS, an innovative digital channel producing high-end, original, scripted dramatic series and short films about the lives of women.

The channel is one of the first brand new high-end channels to come to YouTube, which advanced funds for the top series’ production and pledged $200 million to market them.

The digital channel’s premiere series, JAN is written and directed by Jon Avnet, and stars Caitlin Gerard, Virginia Madsen and Stephen Moyer. The series SERENA also launched, written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia and edited by Julie Janata (AFI Class of 1981). The web series stars Jennifer Garner and Alfred Molina.

Episodes of JAN and SERENA as well as Behind-The-Scenes content and additional trailers, are all available now at

The Duplass Brothers at the AFI Conservatory last week, discussing their film THE DO-DECA-PENTATHLON with AFI Fellows.

AFI Alumni Film NO

Congratulations to Daniel Dreifuss (AFI Class of 2007) and producer of NO, bought by Sony PIctures Classics at Cannes!

AFI Alum to Adapt “Peter and the Starcatchers” for Disney

Congratulations to AFI Alum Jesse Wigutow, AFI Class of 1999. Wiguow has been hired by Disney to adapt the best-selling children’s novel, Peter and the Starcatchers, which gives the backstory for the iconic Peter Pan character.

Wigutow also adapted Robert Ludlum’s thriller Osterman Weekend (in development at Summit), as well as The Crow with F. Javier Gutierrez expected to direct (at Relativity Media), and the upcoming Steve McQueen biopic.

AFI Alumni Win Student Academy Awards

Congratulations to all the AFI Conservatory alums who worked on NANI and NARCOCORRIDO, announced as winners of the Student Academy Awards in the Narrative Category! Placement in each category will be announced at the Academy ceremony on June 9.

Producer: West McDowell
Director: Justin Tipping
Screenwriter: Justin Tipping/Josh Beirne-Golden
Cinematographer: Soren Hiorth
Editor:Linda Jildmam
Production Designer: Bonnie Bacevich

Producer: Onye Anyanwu
Director: Ryan Prows
Cinematographer: Benjamin Kitchens
Editor: Jarod Shannon
Production Designer: Caliope Andreadis


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