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  • New York Film Academy’s South Beach Campus Announces Winners for NYFA South Beach Made at Home Festival

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    With many festivals being cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Film Academy South Beach instructor Eduardo “Eddy” Santa-Maria decided to engage South Beach students to create their own films from home and have a place to have them shares and voted on for NYFA’s first-ever Made at Home Festival, presented by NYFA South Beach. The Festival’s winners included MFA Acting for Film student Yulia Korotkova (Student Choice Award), and One Year Filmmaking Conservatory student McKenzie Mortensen (Staff & Faculty Choice Award).

    “I constantly see students stop each other in the halls and ask ‘hey how’s that film going,’ and I’ve seen those same students leave that conversation inspired and ready to make a film of their own. That infectious creativity seemed to have died down as we move to remote learning,” shared Santa-Maria. “So, in order to get that vibe back, the itch to create, I figured the Festival would give them a challenge where their creativity would be put to the test and, hopefully, inject that sense of creativity that NYFA is famous for.”

    Students who participated in the Film Festival were given one month to develop, write, shoot, and edit a 5-minute film completely shot from their own home. With the Coronavirus pandemic shutting down many areas all over the country, students were encouraged to use what they had at home, from camera equipment (mobile phones, DSLR) to casting their film with only themselves or who they lived with. 

    McKenzie Mortensen, who won the Staff & Faculty Choice Award for her short film Quarantined, was inspired to make her film due to her own personal experiences of being alone during the pandemic. The Burley, Idaho native’s short film is a horror-comedy about a girl who becomes so bored and lonely that she makes friends with an evil villain, who crawls out of her television. In addition to the full film below, Mortensen has also shared her Quarantined storyboard available here.

    “I hope the audience was able to relate to my short emotionally since my film subject was very current,” says Mortensen. “I also hope they were able to let out a laugh, chuckle or giggle.” Mortensen will graduate from the One Year Filmmaking Conservatory from NYFA’s South Beach campus in September and plans to pursue a career in film editing. In addition to her short film Quarantined and Doritos Super Bowl competition entry, Mortensen also created a short stop motion film, which can be viewed here.

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    Utah vibes ❤️ #2019

    A post shared by McKenzie Mortensen (@mckenz_mort) on

    Winner of the Student Choice Award, Yulia Korotkova, was inspired to create her short film Waters after playing around with different shots and angles taken on her cellphone. After attempting to create a shot of someone being pulled out from under the bed, she was inspired to create a thriller about soul-collecting water that could be condensed for the Festival’s parameters. “The original script was a ten minute film and we [Korotkova and her husband] feel proud of having created this film only using an iPhone without any professional equipment,” she explains.

    Behind the scenes for ‘Waters’ (Directed by Yulia Korotkova)

    Korotkova, who was born in Russia and grew up in Venezuela, moved to Miami 11 years ago and is currently studying acting at NYFA South Beach. Waters, she explains, is her first-ever film. “I was hoping to entertain and, at the same time, show how there is no need for expensive equipment and large expensive production in order to tell a story.”

    NYFA South Beach student Yulia Korotkova

    While the film is not yet posted publicly, Korotkova has released a teaser trailer and encourages readers to check out some of the behind the scenes information for her film.

    Santa-Maria shares he hopes students can realize they don’t need huge sets, expensive cameras, or a large crew to tell a heartfelt story. “As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted our students to realize that no matter where they are in life, no one can take away their ability to tell captivating stories.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA South Beach students McKenzie Mortensen and Yulia Korotkova for winning the top prizes for the South Beach Made at Home Festival and encourages everyone to watch each student’s available footage to get their own creative inspiration. 

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  • NYFA Alum Screens Thesis Film ‘Loving Byron’ at New Filmmakers LA Monthly Film Event

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    A few years ago, filmmaker Deante’ Gray was staying in his mom’s  house in Houston, Texas, while recovering a torn ACL from playing football for the Houston Texans. After leaving the NFL, Deante’ took his career in a completely new direction and enrolled in the New York Film Academy’s MA in Film and Media Production program.

    This Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. PT/3:00 p.m. ET, he will be screening the results of that venture, his thesis film Loving Byron, at New Filmmakers LA’s monthly film event.

    Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, spoke with Deante’ as he prepared for the screening.

    Film poster for ‘Loving Byron’

    Crickett Rumley (CR)Congratulations on getting selected for New Filmmakers! Tell us about your film.

    Deante Gray (DG):  Loving Byron is about a 17-year-old boy who runs away from his problematic home with his girlfriend to live in the middle of nowhere. After finding out she’s pregnant, he has to decide how far he’s willing to go for the love of his life.

    CR: What was the inspiration?

    DG: My inspiration for making this film was my upbringing and seeing how similar a lot of me and my peers were as teenagers growing up in Houston. How a kid can be so in love, so hopeful in life, and it all being stripped away at a moment’s notice.

    Reflecting now on where I’m at in my life, it’s insane how one decision can lead people, good people, down so many different paths. I think in large part where I am in my life, is purely out of sheer luck. I wasn’t smarter than my peers, I wasn’t any more athletic, I didn’t hold a higher moral standard than any one kid growing up. I just got lucky that my collection of choices and decisions didn’t lead me to a path of potential destruction.

    Deante’ directing behind the scenes on ‘Loving Byron’

    CR: The film is beautiful, yet the circumstances very much reflect the times we live in today.  Without spoiling the story, can you talk about how Loving Byron addresses systemic racism and the Movement for Black Lives?

    DG: I think anyone with a deep understanding of systematic racism and the affect it has historically had on the Black community will be able to immediately see the tree in which these issues stem from within the community. And if that’s not enough. There’s a scene between two characters in my film — it’s probably my favorite scene I’ve ever written — that tells you verbatim what systematic racism is.

    CR: It’s a powerful scene. What was your favorite thing about directing this film?

    DG: Definitely the character exploration I went through with my actors prior to filming and also during filming. I felt in discussing with my actors why characters made certain decisions through the movie I was indirectly in my own therapy session. There would be times where I’d realize there were things about my own upbringing that I had never even considered or talked about, and I was forced to somewhat channel those deep feelings and understand them better. Not only that, but my lead is actually my best friend that I grew up with in Houston. So our connection and us knowing everything about one another only amplified the focus and care that was needed to make this film what it is.

    CR: It sounds like the process of making this film had a healing effect. It’s so cool you got to experience that with an old friend. What were other challenges you faced in making the film?

    DG: The most challenging thing was learning how to properly navigate a workable budget. I’m still fairly new to this level of filmmaking, so I don’t know very much about the places and resources to get funding for a film like this. A lot of it was me learning as I was going.

    I learned that you truly can’t be an introvert in this business. If you really want to make a film and want money for it, you have to go out there and get it for yourself.

    Still from Deante’ Gray’s thesis film ‘Loving Byron’

    CR: Just as the film is getting out there now.  Which festivals have you been in so far?

    DG: This will be Loving Byron’s fourth festival selection. Before COVID-19 happened, it was selected for the San Diego Black Film Festival, and that was a tremendous experience. It was my first time since my NYFA screening that I got to interact with audience members after the viewing of my film. It’s moving how impactful certain people can find your film to be. The Q and A’s were amazing along with all the networking events that they had for us filmmakers.

    Loving Byron also won the Remi award at WorldFest Houston International Film Festival, which unfortunately due to COVID-19 got suspended.

    CR: And now you’re in New Filmmakers LA’s monthly screening – it’s such a great local festival. What are you looking forward to this weekend?

    DG: I’m curious to see if a virtual festival can still have that communal filmmaker vibe that typical film festivals have.  A cool thing that they are doing is after the Q and A’s, they are holding random Zoom rooms of four to five people for 30 minutes or so. So it does allow you to briefly network with other filmmakers and people in the business. You never know who you might see in there!

    Still from scene in ‘Loving Byron’

    CR: Maybe someone you collaborate with in the future! But let’s go back to the past for a minute and talk about your work at NYFA. How do you think your education prepared you for a career in filmmaking?

    DG: With NYFA, and the specific master’s program I was in, it was such a loaded fast-paced learning environment. It forced me to truly eat, breathe, and live film. It provided a concrete schedule that allowed me to really maximize and take in the wealth of knowledge and on-set experience you constantly get at NYFA. I was also in class with tremendous filmmakers who knew so much already and consistently pushed their creativity. In large part I wanted to prove to myself I belonged, and I think I did.

    CR: I know you did. Do you have any special shout-outs to faculty or staff who really helped or inspired you?

    DG: I can’t thank my directing instructor David Newman enough for his critical and straightforward approach to filmmaking. His way of teaching and his stress that a director’s responsibility is not only on the set but to an audience as well has definitely stuck with me since our very first class. I also have to thank him for introducing me to the Criterion Collection one day in the library. Changed my life, ha!

    Robert Taylor, who was a screenwriting professor at NYFA during my time there, really helped shape my writing style as well. And gave me tremendous confidence to try new things and take meaningful risks within my writing. Any conversation, no matter how long or small, I always would come away just inspired to keep writing.

    And last but not least you, Crickett! I hadn’t the slightest idea of festival strategies. And since the first day I sent you my film, you’ve been nothing but supportive and helpful to all my pressing questions on the best way to get this film out there.

    Also special s/o to the workers in the library. I’m in there so much (even as a graduate) I know they get tired of me. But they always have been super helpful and nice to me.

    Deante’ behind the scenes shooting ‘Loving Byron’

    CR: Aww, my pleasure! You’ve made a wonderful film, and I’m delighted I get to help you put it out into the world. Speaking of getting out into the world, do you have any advice for recent graduates making their way into the professional world?

    DG: I’m still trying to figure this all out. It’s been undoubtedly hard, trying to stay afloat and wondering what the best route is to get in the business. I think for me, as someone who’s currently freelancing, it’s a lot about staying hungry and hustling every chance you get, while still being inspired to be creative and make things.

    I think you definitely have to have a level of persistence as you go about emailing people, meeting people and even social media. It’s something I’m not the best at. I’m still trying to be better at it. But in the same breath, I know my work ethic, and I know the quality of work I put out. So when the time does come to showcase myself to the right people, I know I’ll be ready.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Deante’ Gray for taking the time to speak about his film Loving Byron and congratulates him on his film screening for the new Filmmakers LA monthly film event.

    Deante’ Gray’s Loving Byron will screen on Sunday, June 28, 2020, in “Shorts Program 1: Belated Spring” at 12:00 p.m. PT, with a Q &A Following at 1:45 p.m. PT.  To reserve tickets, please visit the New Filmmakers LA website
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    June 26, 2020 • Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1744

  • ‘Variety’ Names New York Film Academy as a Top Film School for Fourth Year in a Row

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was recently announced as one of Variety’s “Top Film Schools for 2020.” This is the fourth consecutive year that NYFA has been included in the annual report for Variety’s selections of academic filmmaking institutions worldwide. The report, “The Entertainment Education Impact Report: The Top Film Schools and Educators From Around the Globe,” is created to identify cutting edge film schools that lead the way for students to have “successful careers in the entertainment biz.”

    The schools included in this list are known for their excellence in filmmaking education, guiding their students with “structure and encouragement and artistic expertise.” Due to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 report also listed colleges implementing remote learning to keep students optimistic and engaged through the pandemic.

    Since March 2020, NYFA has offered online workshops available in film directing, acting, cinematography, documentary, photography, producing, screenwriting, editing, game design, broadcast journalism, and a list of musical theatre online classes. The courses are designed around remote learning and include live interactive instruction and one-on-one sessions with the instructor. Online workshops are also offered through NYFA Australia to accommodate for Asia-Pacific and Australian time zones. Throughout April to June, teens and kids after-school online workshops are also being offered. The instructors who are teaching online workshops are uncovering innovative ways to virtually bring the film industry to the student’s homes.

    “Our new online model has worked surprisingly well,” said Andrea Swift, Documentary Filmmaking Chair. “We’re making just as many films, and so far, our students have used the “limitations” of social distancing as opportunities to create some extraordinary work. Creativity loves an obstacle.”

    The Variety report continued by highlighting NYFA’s various creative disciplines that “span all forms and platforms,” beyond filmmaking. The piece also mentioned the large volume of programs at NYFA, including the fine arts degrees, graduate opportunities, conservatories, and youth programs offered year round. Variety also commended NYFA’s exceptional faculty and staff, who are all working industry professionals that are active in their respective fields. Additionally,Variety praised NYFA’s state-of-the-art facilities and equipment at campuses and locations worldwide.

    Since 2017, NYFA has been included in Variety’s Entertainment Education Impact Report, first acknowledging NYFA’s superior accelerated creative programs. Variety also called out filmmaking accomplishments of NYFA graduates, which included screenings at Venice, Toronto, Sundance, Cannes, and SXSW film festivals. Recently, NYFA alumni from the producing and cinematography programs have worked on exciting projects such as the “Tiger King” and Awkwafina’s award-winning film “The Farewell.”

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    April 27, 2020 • Academic Programs, Entertainment News, Film School • Views: 928

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking & Photography Alum Paquita Hughes Works on Hulu’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’

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    Paquita Hughes, Navy veteran and alum of New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking and Photography schools, has added Little Fires Everywhere to her growing list of Hollywood credits. 

    Little Fires Everywhere, which debuted on Hulu on March 18, stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, who both also served as executive producers on the dramatic miniseries. The show is adapted from the 2017 novel of the same name by Celeste Ng and tells the story of two mothers from diametric socioeconomic backgrounds in Shaker Heights, Ohio during the 1990s.

    little fires everywhere
    Hughes is a
    veteran of the United States Navy and first attended NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory in July 2011 at our Burbank-based campus in Los Angeles. After completing the program, she then enrolled in the 1-Year Photography conservatory. Her thesis project was a pilot for the dramedy web series Sugar, which dealt with the sex industry and included strongly written, complicated female protagonists.

    Since filming Sugar and graduating, Hughes has been very busy working in Hollywood working in various positions, including as location manager on hit productions like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Marvel’s Runaways. Additionally, Hughes is working as location manager on the new period-set reboot of Perry Mason, starring NYFA Guest Speaker Matthew Rhys.

    “I had an epiphany when I was in the Navy,” Hughes says in a NYFA video spotlighting her success as an alumni, “and I thought to myself if I could succeed at serving my country during a time of war, I could succeed at following my dreams attending film school, so I decided to get out and study film.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking and Photography alum Paquita Hughes on her prolific work on Hollywood productions and encourages everyone to watch Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film Alum Michael Johnson Receives Inaugural Elan Vega Award

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    Before he unexpectedly passed away last summer, New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory and BFA Acting for Film alum Elan Vega lit up the lives of everyone around him, especially his NYFA classmates. His positivity, hard work, and commitment to the arts now lives on through NYFA’s Elan Vega Award, and it was no surprise that the award’s first recipient was NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory student and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson.

    Both Johnson and Vega graduated from the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Both alumni also sought to expand their artistic talents into other avenues; in Spring 2019, Johnson enrolled in NYFA-LA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory while Vega began studying in the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory. Vega was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who had a huge heart and who personified service, perseverance, and passion. Johnson is also a military veteran, having served in the US Army, and shares these same virtues, making him the perfect choice to receive the inaugural Elan Vega Award.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

    The award will be distributed each semester by New York Film Academy in Vega’s honor to students that embody Vega’s kindness, selflessness, and thoughtfulness, students who have demonstrated the desire to help their fellow artists whenever and wherever needed, as Vega had done so many times. Vega loved the process of storytelling, our community, and the friends he made at NYFA, and elevated both his classmates and his program with his enduring attitude.

    To that end, the Elan Vega Award includes both a beautifully-crafted plaque and a financial grant to help recipients further their studies and artistic pursuits. Johnson received the award in February in a ceremony attended by, among other NYFA senior faculty, actor and NYFA Master Class instructor Matthew Modine.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    Michael Johnson receiving the Elan Vega Award with senior NYFA faculty

    Like Vega, Johnson is beloved by his peers in the NYFA community, as well as his instructors and other faculty and administration. While the tragic passing of Vega will never be forgotten, his spirit living on through his friends and through future graduates of NYFA who embody that spirit is something to celebrate. Friends and classmates of both Vega and Johnson were glad to see Vega’s memory honored by Johnson, who gave a heartfelt acceptance speech at the award ceremony.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson on receiving the inaugural Elan Vega Award and honoring the spirit of NYFA alum Elan Vega.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

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  • New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Hosts Lunafest: Short Films By, For, About Women

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    On Saturday, March 7, New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) had the pleasure to once again host Lunafest, a series of films by and about women for the Zonta Club of Burbank. Crickett Rumley, NYFA Director of Film Festivals, moderated the event. Lunafest was also attended by Burbank Mayor Sharon Springer and Council Member Tim Murphy. 

    lunafest 2020

    NYFA Acting faculty Lee Quarrie, NYFA Film Festival Director Crickett Rumley, LADY PARTS writer/director Jessica Sherif, NYFA MFA Filmmaking student Jumanah El Shabazz, NYFA Filmmaking alum Roshni “Rush” Bhatia

    In order to combat the underrepresentation of women in film, Lunafest was created in 2001 as the first all-women traveling film festival. Since then, the festival has opened opportunities to more than 150 women filmmakers, giving them the recognition and platform they deserve. In addition, Lunafest travels to nearly 200 cities annually, raising funds for local women’s causes. This year, proceeds from NYFA’s presentation of Lunafest were allocated to Zonta Burbank, a volunteer organization working to empower women through service and advocacy.  

    Following a screening of the short film program, Rumley began a guided conversation where students and panelists had the opportunity to talk about the films. Students from all backgrounds saw themselves in the stories, and even felt uncomfortable, in good ways–they had moments of realization, moments of uplift, and moments of inspiration. 

    NYFA previously hosted Lunafest in 2019. Panelists included members of the campus Film Festival Club, including its president, Jumanah El Shabazz; NYFA alum and recipient of the Zonta Wings Grant, Roshni “Rush” Bhatia; NYFA Acting Faculty and Academic Adviser, Lee Quarrie; and Director and Producer of the Lunafest-selected film Lady Parts, Jessica Sherif.

    Speaking on the relatability of the films to both students and Zonta Burbank members alike, Rumley shared, “Lunafest is such a strong program, and it was fascinating to see how the films reflected audience experiences.” She continued, “Not only was the dance in Ballet After Dark beautiful to watch, the protagonist’s determination to survive trauma spoke to women of all ages. And Zonta members who have been breaking glass ceilings for decades were heavily impacted by PURL because the main character faced such an uncomfortable, if not hostile, all-male workplace that she had to overcome.”

    lunafest 2020

    NYFA alum Roshni “Rush” Bhatia and Jessica Sherif, director/producer of LADY PARTS

    The writing and emotional impact of the films pierced through to everyone in the audience. NYFA student Nadiia Pavlyk-Vachkova, stated, “I invited my friend, a director from India, and I wasn’t sure that he would endure 90 minutes of content devoted to women. But all the films were so strong and well done that we got the impression we were watching Oscar nominees. After the performance, we discussed the funny and tragic moments that we both learned from.” 

    New York Film Academy thanks Lunafest, the Zonta Club of Burbank, and the panelists for joining us for such a successful event and sharing it with our students.

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    March 18, 2020 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film Festivals, Film School, Guest Speakers • Views: 1261

  • Netflix Streams Two Short Films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni

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    In the interest of promoting social issues and international diversity, Netflix has curated a series of six films from Saudi Arabia, including two shorts by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni, Mohamed al Salman and Meshal Al Jaser. The series of six Saudi films is entitled Six Windows in the Desert and was made available last month in 190 countries.

    six windows in the desert
    The release is part of an extended effort by Saudi Arabia to expand its cinema culture. Last year, a feature film by NYFA alumni
    made history by becoming the first Saudi film to screen in a professional theater in Jeddah since the nation lifted its 35-year-long ban on cinemas in 2018. With Six Windows, Netflix aims to  “shine a light on thought-provoking subjects with a focus on social themes.”

    One of the films in Six Windows in the Desert is the 2019 short 27th of Shaban, written and directed by Mohamed al Salman. The film follows two characters–Mohammed and Nouf–who go on a date, an act prohibited in Saudi Arabia. “It’s a simple love story in a very unique and complex culture,” says al Salman of his film. al Salman first attended NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory last fall. 

    six windows in the desert

    Cinema is just starting in Saudi Arabia,” he adds, “and I thought we have too many stories in the 2000s that were never told, which I remember vividly. I thought it’s interesting to tell and watch ourselves in the past, especially in a time where the Saudi society is changing considerably.”

    Is Sumiyati Going to Hell? is another of the six films in the series, directed and co-written by BFA Screenwriting alum Meshal Al Jaser. The film tells the story of a maid named Sumiyati through the perspective of a family’s youngest child; Sumiyati previously won Best of the Month at the 2017 Gold Movie Awards. Al Jaser, who studied at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, was recently nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival for his film Arabian Alien.

    Six WIndows isn’t just a major spotlight for Saudi films, but for short films as well. Arab News quoted NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Abdulelah Al-Qurashi, who described the new series as a great opportunity for short films, “because we usually don’t see them. Short films are usually displayed at festivals.”

    six windows in the desert

    New York Film Academy Filmmaking alum Sultan Al-Salami, who worked on Is Sumiyati Going to Hell?, is thrilled to see Netflix recognize Saudi cinema. “Saudi has a massive amount of talent,” he tells NYFA, before rattling off a list of Saudi directors, producers, and writers, including Sara Alnawasra, Mississippi Ibrahim, Bader Alhomoud, Mahmoud Sabbagh, Haifaa al-Mansour, Malik Nejer, Ali Kalthami, Abdulaziz Alshlahei, Khaled Fahad, Hana Alomair, Dina Naji, Nawaf Alshubaili, and, of course, Sumiyati writer and director Meshal Al Jaser.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA alumni Mohamed al Salman and Meshal Al Jaser on their success and encourages everyone to check out their films as part of Six Windows in the Desert, currently available on Netflix.

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    March 17, 2020 • Film School, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1302

  • Award-Winning Director & Cinematographer Liz Hinlein Joins New York Film Academy (NYFA) As Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is delighted to announce the addition of award-winning director and cinematographer Liz Hinlein to our faculty as the new Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography. Over the course of her career, Hinlein has made a name for herself in a traditionally male-dominated industry as a passionate, talented filmmaker and director of photography whose work has spanned the fields of feature film, advertising, music video and VR/AR/XR.

    Born in Philadelphia and educated in the Quaker school system, Hinlein earned her MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute and her BFA in Film & Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Hinlein’s debut feature film, Other People’s Children, earned several awards on the film festival circuit—including Best of the Fest at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and Best Director at the NYLA International Film Festival—and is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

    Liz Hinlein

    NYFA Filmmaking & Cinematography Creative Director Liz Hinlein

    Hinlein’s wealth of experience and passion for innovation makes her a perfect fit for New York Film Academy, which boasts a diverse and international student body from over 120 countries. With the film industry hungrier than ever for filmmakers and visual artists from every background, Hinlein will be an invaluable asset to NYFA Filmmaking and Cinematography students looking to express the world their stories in their own ways.

    “Stepping in to my new role as Creative Director of the Film and Cinematography departments at New York Film Academy is an exciting new challenge,” says Hinlein. “My vision is to elevate the departments and expand their reach as a dynamic creative hub for creators, filmmakers, and visionary thinkers in New York. We’re building a meeting ground where students and the creative community can nurture ideas, collaborate, and learn from one another. NYFA’s Film and Cinematography departments are a refreshing win-win for students and the industry alike.”

    Hinlein has been at the forefront of a rapidly-evolving visual medium. Recently, her VR film for Byton Auto was nominated for Best Branded Entertainment/Commercial at the 2019 CES VR Fest. In 2018 she directed Accenture’s VR film, Behind the Style, winning that same award. Most recently, Hinlein spent time China writing and directing The Dream Factory, a series of seven epic branding films for the prestigious Sichuan Film and Television University, using Google Translate to navigate her way through the country. Currently Liz is in pre-production on OSAGE ’85, a groundbreaking immersive documentary experience. 

    In television, Hinlein was selected for the DGA DDI TV Directing Program, the Sony Diversity Program and the Viacom Diversity Program. Her visual expertise comes from a background of directing commercials and music videos for top brands, including Dove, Lifetime, Revlon, Gillette, Maybelline, A&E, and MAC Cosmetics. Additionally, Hinlein has created films for superstar musicians such as Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears, and has been commissioned to photograph Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone. 

    Hinlein’s success in multiple fields also reflects NYFA’s commitment to combating gender inequality in the entertainment/media industry by educating and training more women to fill important roles on film and television sets. With a student body that is nearly 50% women, one of Hinlein’s first initiatives as Creative Director will be to form a NYFA Film Femme Club, where students can come together to inspire genuine conversation, encourage self-confidence, collaborate to create healthy media, and establish platforms that empower women to generate a positive impact on the entertainment industry.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to the exciting energy and ideas filmmaker Liz Hinlein will share with our Filmmaking and Cinematography students!

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  • ‘Trauma Therapy’ Screens at New York Film Academy (NYFA) With a Special Q&A

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    On Friday, January 17, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted the creative team behind the thriller Trauma Therapy. NYFA producing student Oksana Chester moderated the event.

    Trauma Therapy

    The panel included producer and Head of International Sales at Glass House Distribution, Michelle Alexandria; writer, actor, producer, and Head of Acquisitions at Glass House Distribution, David Josh Lawrence; director and writer, Tyler Graham Pavey; award-winning director of photography, Pascal Combes-Knoke; and actor and musician, Chase Coleman. 

    Following a screening of the film, Chester opened up the Q&A by asking writer, actor, and producer, David Josh Lawrence, “What made you want to write this film and was it hard for you to allow people to change your vision of the film?” 

    Lawrence shared, “Tom Malloy and I wrote it together. I was watching I Am Not Your Guru, which is supposed to be a documentary, but it’s more propaganda to sell Tony Robbins tickets. So I thought, before Tony Robbins was Tony Robbins, who was into him and what kind of things was he teaching. So we took a character like that and gave him a more sinister thought behind what was going on. That was what started it.” 

    In regards to allowing other people to change his vision, Lawrence stated, “The film is told three times. It’s told on the page, then it’s told in production, then it’s told in editing. You do have to let go of what the film once was because of finances and things getting cut.” He continued, “Things change from your original idea and trusting the people that you are with to make a decision that will not affect the film in a negative way is very difficult thing, but it’s one of those things where you do what you can to make sure that the story stays true to what you started off with.” 

    When asked about what piece of advice the panelists wish they knew before they started in the industry, Combes-Knoke expressed, “Take risks and pursue the projects that are more meaningful as opposed to the money. Specifically when it comes to cinematography, try not to get complacent with something you know is going to work. Try new things, use new tools, try different lenses you’re not comfortable with, because you’ll find happy accidents.”  

    Trauma Therapy

    Chester then opened up the Q&A to the student audience. One student asked, “Since you guys are independent, how involved are you in each step of the process?” 

    Director Graham-Pavey shared, “It really depends on the relationship with the individuals. The more you trust the people doing the job, the more they’re telling you as opposed to you telling them. I think every project is different, but in this one I did a cut of the movie then turned it over and they finished it up nicely.” 

    Combes-Knoke added on, “Tying all this together, a majority of directors I’ve worked with would shoot every shot for every angle for the entire scene because they don’t know what they want, and Tyler was great about knowing what shots he wanted—and frankly we couldn’t have made the film in any other way. We had such a short schedule to shoot all those pages out.” 

    To close off the Q&A, the panelists were asked what keeps them motivated. Coleman replied, “Getting to see how I created something that affected people in a great way. That’s what’s so fun and amazing about creating art and creating change in front of someone. When it inspires them to do something better with their life, that’s what keeps me motivated.” 

    When asked what advice moderator Oksana Chester wished to impart on her fellow NYFA students, she shared, “My biggest advice to anyone new to this industry is don’t be afraid to meet new people, or go to different events, or apply for internships. If you want the world to know who you are and see your talents then you must be the one to take those hard, first steps to show the industry why you’re here and why you matter.”  

    New York Film Academy would like to thank the creative team behind Trauma Therapy for joining us, and sharing their expertise with our students.

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    February 28, 2020 • Film School, Guest Speakers • Views: 1541

  • New York Film Academy Cinematography Alum Shoots Awkwafina’s Award-Winning Film ‘The Farewell’

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    The Farewell Qianying Zhou & Anna Franquesa-Solano

    NYFA Alumni Qianying Zhou & Anna Franquesa-Solano

    The Farewell, the multiple award-winning drama-comedy film starring Awkwafina, was shot by director of photography and New York Film Academy Cinematography alum Anna Franquesa-Solano, with BFA Filmmaking alum Qianying Zhou working as 1st Assistant Camera.

    Both Solano and Zhou started their journeys from outside the United States. Solano originally hails from Spain and attended the 1-Year Cinematography conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2010. Zhou, who enrolled in the 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2010 before continuing her studies in the BFA Filmmaking program at NYFA-Los Angeles, is from China.

    I believe in order to grow, you have to step out of your comfort zone,” Franquesa-Solano tells NYFA. “My first big leap was moving to New York without even speaking English in order to study cinematography. A few years later I challenged myself again by shooting The Farewell, a demanding project that came with a lot of responsibility. These two have been so far some of the most important decisions of my career.”

    The Farewell Anna Franquesa-Solano

    NYFA Cinematography Alum Anna Franquesa-Solano

    These decisions have paid off, both for Franquesa-Solano and for the beautifully-shot film. The Farewell was a Grand Jury Prize nominee at Sundance before earning numerous nominations and awards, including nominations for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards and, most recently, winning top prize at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature.

    The Farewell tells the story of a Chinese family who decide not to tell their grandmother she is dying, scheduling a wedding to bring the family together before she dies. The film was written and directed by Lulu Wang and stars Awkwafina, the Queens-born rapper, comedian, producer, writer, and actress who has steadily risen in fame since appearing in films like Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. Her dramatic talent in the film earned her numerous nominations and awards as well, including a Golden Globe win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Cinematography alum Anna Franquesa-Solano and BFA Filmmaking alum Qianying Zhou on the success of The Farewell and looks forward to following their blossoming careers!

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