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  • NYFA Alum David Oulton’s Talk Show “Face to Face with David” to Premiere Season 2 on Amazon Prime

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    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum David Oulton is set to premiere the second season of his show Face to Face with David on Amazon Prime Video. 

    The show’s creation is a direct result of the restrictions set in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. “It came out of boredom during COVID. I’m sitting up here in Calgary, Canada losing my mind during the lockdown. I started mulling around with the idea of posting some FaceTime videos on social media, in line with what everyone else had been doing on Instagram and Facebook Live. Then it blew up and within about a week I had signed an agreement with Amazon, started hiring a crew, and it’s been a wild ride since. From conception to airing, the whole turnaround was less than two months and we’ve managed to pull it off.” 

    The objective of the talk show is pure entertainment. “I hope it brings them (the audience) a laugh or two and a quick escape from all the dreadful news we are being bombarded with lately. The concept of the show was to make the viewers feel as though they are listening in on a casual conversation between two people, and less of a formal interview. With a couple of exceptions, we mostly steered away from current events as well. It’s meant to be a half an hour of relaxing, easy watching tv to give yourself a little break.” 

    “Face to Face with David” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video

    Face to Face with David follows a talk show format and features notable guests such as Carson Kressley and Perez Hilton. David spoke of his process for acquiring his big-name guests. “With Carson and Perez, I had built a relationship with via social media. Ironically, they were a couple of the biggest names in season one, but the easiest and most down to earth to get on the show. Carson, for example, said to just text him on the day of filming and let him know when to be ready. Vernee Watson and Lawrence Pressman, both extremely accomplished and award-winning actors, I have known for a very long time. Vernee was absolutely hilarious in sharing her time at the Emmy’s and what it’s like behind the scenes.” The show also featured one of David’s acting instructors at NYFA. “Valorie Hubbard taught me at NYFA, so it was great having her on and to catch up. She’s been a constant mentor since I did the acting program, and we’ve kept in touch. Most of the other guests were booked through their managers of publicists with the producers on the show. We have a really great team in place.” 

    Carson Kressly on “Face to Face with David”

    David attended an Acting for Film Camp for Teens in Los Angeles back in 2010 after he received advice from an acting legend. “I came under the advice of Dame Judi Dench, who first suggested I find a great school in Los Angeles, especially since I was living in northern Canada at the time. After some research and visiting a few places, NYFA seemed to be the best suited.” He has since gone on to work on many successful productions. “Since NYFA, I’ve done about 15 film and television projects: Fargo, Galaxy Trek, Guns of Purgatory, The Agreement. But this show is definitely becoming bigger than anything I’ve done before for me personally.” 

    Of his time in the industry so far David said, I’ve learned to enjoy the process, but also to put the work in. If you show up to set prepared, knowing not only your lines but also your character and their story, the work is so much more fulfilling.”

    He also encourages aspiring visual and performing artists to invest in their future and take a chance on their dreams. “I think that if anyone is reading the post and considering NYFA, and they’re from a small or remote part of the world or they have no experience, think about the fact that I came down from Fort McMurray, Canada with nothing but a couple of high school plays under my belt. If I can take what I learned during my course and eventually get my own talk show, airing around the world on multiple networks, then I think anyone should and can take the chance. You really never know until you hit that ‘submit’ button on the application, and then the possibilities are endless.” 

    Perez Hilton on Face to Face with David

    As for a wish list of future guests, Oulten said he simply hopes to continue to provide quality entertainment. “Honestly, I don’t think I have a true ‘wish list’. I’m really just happy that anyone is taking the time to do our show and be authentic with their interviews. Perez was so fantastic, and really shared a lot of personal details which I wasn’t expecting. His interview was definitely a highlight for me. The second season is set to feature Vanessa Williams, Natasha Henstridge, Melissa Rivers, Pamela Rabe, Corbin Bernsen, Below Deck Med’s Captain Sandy, Ali Landry, and a host of other guests.  

    NYFA would like to wish David Oulton the very best on his second season of Face to Face with David which premiers on November 6, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video. The first season is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Google Play.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 28, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 251

  • NYFA Welcomes Actor & Director Mark Webber to ‘Q&A-List’ Guest Speaker Series

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was excited to host a virtual Q&A with actor and director Mark Webber to discuss directing his latest film The Place of No Words with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of NYFA’s Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Webber has been nominated for multiple awards for directing and acting. He is known for roles in films such as Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, A24’s Green Room, Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, and more. He has also come into his own as a fully-fledged director with his fifth film as director, The Place of No Words, receiving ‘Best Film’ at the Giffoni Film Festival and nominations at Tribeca Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, and the Philadelphia Film Festival.

    Webber’s unique, realistic approach to authentic storytelling began with his first feature, Explicit Ills, where he used elements from his real life and included family members in his cast. He has since cast all his movies that way.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Mark Webber (Right) for NYFA’s Q&A List

    Webber, who shared he was happy to be talking online with NYFA’s students, recalled his upbringing with his teenage single mother and growing up homeless, citing that as a filmmaker he benefited from how he was raised as it allowed him to connect with different groups of people in the community. “These are the things I care about most in my life and I know how grateful I am to be in this position [an actor/director] because I know how vapid the industry can be.”

    The NYFA students and Laiter praised Webber for his recent film and asked him multiple questions about directing, his original filmmaking style, and honing his craft. “I started this process called ‘reality cinema.’ After screening my previous film, The End of Love at Sundance, I felt like I really found my voice. I am particularly fascinated by realism and acting in my own films. I paralleled a moment in the film where I cast my real father, who I hadn’t seen in years, in a scene where we meet face-to-face in real-time. It is deeply fulfilling to get to work on things with people you love.”

    Still from ‘The Place of No Words’ – Mark Webber (Left) and Bodhi Palmer (Right)

    The Place of No Words, in which a three-year-old (played by his son Bodhi Palmer) take a fantastical journey into the wood, to grapples with his father’s (Webber) terminal illness – something he cannot make sense of in real-world terms. his wife, Australian actress Teresa Palmer plays the mother- a real family affair.

    Laiter, who remarked how incredible Bodhi was in the film, asked Webber about directing and being a dad at the same time while on set and working alongside his family. “I can never stop being a dad. I have my dad hat on at all times and Bodhi’s emotional well-being and safety is the top priority for me,” he shared. “Some of the scenes, we would shoot as improv. There are moments of takes with that spontaneity anchored in the framework of the context of the story, so it allows for these moments that feel so authentic and so real take place in this film.”

    The film, part real and part fantasy, creates a colorful world for a child to begin to understand the biggest question of all, “Where do we go when we die?” Webber explained that he wanted the fantasy elements to still feel like reality. “I wanted it to honor the way I see my child’s mind working. So many of the fantasy elements there are from stories that Bodhi and I would tell each other and from stories I tell my own children.”

    Webber’s film pays off, being hailed by the likes of Variety and The New York Times calling it “sweet and personal.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actor and director Mark Webber for sharing his directing experience with NYFA students and alumni and encourages everyone to check out his beautiful and emotionally rich film, The Place of No Words, now available to watch on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and other streaming service providers.

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    October 28, 2020 • Acting • Views: 63

  • NYFA Alum Matthew Avery Berg Screens ‘Accomplice’ in National Film Festival for Talented Youth

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    Science fiction has a unique ability to drop audiences into a futuristic or unrealistic world and make us think beyond the realm of our everyday existence. In writing and directing his sci-fi short Accomplice, however, NYFA alum Matthew Avery Berg drew from a real, personal crisis to create his fictional story that takes place in the distant future. Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, spoke with Matthew as the film became available for online streaming as an official selection of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), running October 23 – November 1, 2020. 

    Crickett Rumley (CR): Congratulations on getting into NFFTY! Tell us more about Accomplice.  

    Matthew Avery Berg (MAB): Accomplice is about a man who’s forced to experience the memories of the person he accidentally killed. It takes place inside a medical compound in the year 2067. The sci-fi elements are obviously not inspired by true events; however, the underlying story is. Following my first surgery, I was constantly on opioids for a week. Being doped up for that long disassociated me from reality and my own mind. I’d start speaking to myself like I was two different people. However, it also led me to reflect on my life. I’d whisper confessions and admit things that I had been in self-denial about.

    Accomplice follows a man whose mind is inhabited by two different people following surgery. The new person in his head forces him to do an introspection on both their lives. It allows the protagonist to finally acknowledge his guilt the same way recovering from surgery had forced me to recognize my own…over way less dramatic things though, of course.

    Film poster for Matthew Avery Berg’s ‘Accomplice’

    My direction of the film was shaped by the health issues I was dealing with while still raising the financing. The prior summer, in 2018, I had progressively become more nauseous each night. Soon I realized that whenever I closed my eyes and avoided light my nausea improved. This feeling, which had previously only lasted a few hours at night, had become a 24/7 occurrence. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. I lost fifteen pounds in two weeks. Before undergoing an MRI, I concluded that I was dying. I was relieved to learn that I had a benign cyst in my brain. Yet, disturbingly this clue only brought more mystery and fear as I grew too sick to walk. Finally, doctors discovered that I suffered from a rare condition called “status migrainosus.” Essentially, an everlasting migraine.

    Despite the diagnosis, no neurologist could provide a cure. I took steroids and tried a variety of medications, but as some symptoms disappeared, others emerged. Two weeks later, I experienced constant vertigo, tingling throughout my body, and unbearable indigestion. I spent each day trying to distract myself until I could be sedated in hopes of waking up better the next day. This cycle continued for months, forcing me to postpone shooting an earlier version of my film.

    NYFA alum Matthew Avery Berg (Right) 

    CR: That sounds so painful and challenging. How did this crisis impact your work on the film?

    MAB: It dawned on me there was not much difference between this character suffering from external and intruding memories and me battling these strange ailments. I rewrote the script to incorporate the way I dealt with my pain as a sci-fi thriller. 

    Six months later, in every meeting with the cinematographer, we used the word “migraine” almost as much as “camera.” I instructed him which parts I wanted to feel like a migraine. In one scene, I inserted flashing lights. In another scene, I added other bright lights, and in additional scenes, we used a handheld to simulate vertigo.

    CR: What was your favorite thing about making this film?

    MAB: Seeing the (almost) finished film for the first time on the mixing stage was my favorite thing about making this movie. Although the VFX had not been added in and the color wasn’t confirmed, it was amazing to see what I had been trying to get made since sophomore year of high school play on a big screen for the first time. My producer, who had been very critical of the project up until that point – as was his job – whispered during the fade to black, “that’s awesome”. It took me a second to realize he was talking about our movie. I don’t care what anyone says, nothing is more satisfying in the process of making a film than seeing the finished product.

    CR: What was the most challenging thing about making the film?  What did you learn in the process? 

    MAB: I’d say the biggest challenge was being able to film a high-quality production with as many moving pieces and locations as this project had written. High concept sci-fi is not meant for a short film budget. I was having to rewrite in my head while we were shooting to make our tight schedule and budget work. Although I accomplished what I had set out to, there is a reason I kept my latest project to just two people in a tattooing session. While I do not believe films should be written for the sake of accommodating their budget, I now definitely think about how much a concept could cost to produce before choosing to write it. If you write an amazing space-traveling epic, you’re only doing your story a disservice by making it for $10,000.

    Still from ‘Accomplice’

    CR: What are you looking forward to in your screening with NFFTY? Are any of their masterclasses or programming looking interesting to you? 

    MAB: I’m looking forward to being able to interact with my fellow filmmakers in the same age group as me even if online. Everyone I work with tends to be at least nine years older, so I love the idea of being able to meet other people my own age with the same standard of quality to potentially collaborate with. All of the programming and masterclasses at NFFTY look amazing. However, despite what you may assume from watching my film, I’m most excited to watch the Dynamic Duos section. So much of being young and growing up is about the friendships we make and maintain. If there is a genre I feel that youth filmmakers have the most legitimate truth to share in, it is the buddy film.

    CR: Which festivals have you been in so far with Accomplice? What was that experience like?

    MAB: This has been more than a weird year for festivals. A lot of the festivals have either been postponed or canceled for 2020. However, there have been some other great ones we’ve been able to be a part of so far. We were an official selection at Dances With Films, which had an amazing virtual experience featuring some of the greatest panels I’ve had the chance to listen to. We are also an official selection at FilmQuest and won the shorts category at Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival. Unfortunately, FilmQuest has been postponed to 2021 and we were not able to attend Buffalo Dreams due to the pandemic. However, I had a student film as an official selection at Cinequest a couple of years ago and highly recommend that one. That festival gets up to 100,000 attendees, and the industry networking events are just one of the amazing aspects of that superb festival. Still waiting for the notification date for that one. 

    Accomplice was also invited to be part of Hollyshorts’ Monthly Screening Series on Bitpix.

    CR: You’ve wanted to be a filmmaker since you were four years old, and you started attending NYFA Tween Digital programs when you were in the fifth grade.  How do you think your education and the work you did here prepared you for a career in filmmaking?

    MAB: I did the 12-week Saturday program for three semesters, so for 36 Saturdays I would come and take 6-8 hours of classes throughout the school year in all aspects of filmmaking. I would shoot projects on the Universal Backlot as a ten-year-old. In all honesty, my education at NYFA was essential to preparing me as a filmmaker. I learned everything there was to learn about filmmaking without doing it professionally.

    With that being said, you don’t learn the other 75% until you get actual experience directing on professional sets.

    Still from ‘Accomplice’

    CR: So true. What have you been up to since then? 

    MAB: Since I graduated from my high school, Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, in June of 2019, I have been writing and directing professional short films. Although I was supposed to go to USC starting this semester, I ended up dropping due to the opportunities I was beginning to be handed. Accomplice started getting me attention from executives in the industry who wanted to mentor me and to fund my projects.

    I was offered carte blanche creative control of a fully-financed short film with Academy Award Nominee Eric Roberts, as well as producers inquiring about financing a feature with me directing. I was also being set up with some really big directors to shadow. Although COVID put a halt on the shadowing gigs and the feature offers, I was still able to direct the film with Eric Roberts.

    CR: That’s cool! What was the experience like?  

    MAB: It was a magical shoot. LA Ink’s Dan Smith, a celebrity tattoo artist, and musician was involved with the project and did all our tattooing inserts. Richard Patrick of Filter and Nine Inch Nails is slated to compose for it. It’s so awesome to be working with someone who I grew up listening to. The producer on the project is R. Andru Davies whose last feature film with Karen Gillian was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA and a British Independent Film Award. He’s also executive producing Stan Lee’s ArchAlien. The film is currently in post.

    CR: What else do you have coming up? 

    MAB: The next step is a feature film! I’m currently working on a script for what I think could be a great first feature, but I’d be willing to do anything that was offered to me as long as it has the potential to be amazing. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Tween Digital Program alum Matthew Avery Berg for taking the time to talk with us about his film and emerging career. From October 23 through November 1, 2020, Accomplice can be viewed on-demand as a “pay what you can” event. On Sunday, November 1, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT, it will live stream in the Salient Simulations Watch Party, followed by a live Q&A with Matthew and other filmmakers.

    Follow Matthew on Instagram @matthew_a_berg.

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    October 27, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 84

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum George Carson on the Challenges and Rewards From Creating His First Feature Film ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

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    t can be tough and challenging to create any kind of film for the first time, but especially your first feature film. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum George Carson caught up with NYFA to discuss what it was like to create his first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and gave realistic insight into the challenging, but rewarding, process of filmmaking.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum George Carson

    Carson retired from the UK Fire and Rescue service in early 2015. It was then that he decided to pursue a professional career in acting and filmmaking. After studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and pursuing other workshops, Carson realized he wanted to specifically tap into Acting for Film. “I was already aware of NYFA but at that time never dreamed I would go there. I was over the moon to be accepted a year before I was due to retire and  I couldn’t wait to get away from the Fire Service and live in NYC,” shared Carson.

    While at NYFA, Carson recalls bonding with many of his classmates and how they made the short film The Evanescence while at school together. “The whole NYFA experience was just fantastic,” shared Carson. “The instructors had a wealth of real-life experience, unlike some ‘Drama’ teachers who have never been outside a classroom. The facilities were great and the interaction of the Actors course working with the Filmmaking course meant we had a whole bunch of new friends and collaborators.”

    Film poster for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    Carson’s latest film and first feature, GetMeLovedUp.com, which he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in, has been submitted to various film festivals around the world and has already received several awards. The film follows lead characters Sharon and Kevin, who find themselves under pressure from friends and family to find a partner and sign up for an internet dating site. 

    “The inspiration was easy. I had been chatting to a friend in Glasgow one night and she told me about a particularly awful story that had happened to her on a date via an online dating agency,” explained Carson. “We then both shared funny stories about people we had met on these dates. I joked that I should write a film about it and a few months later the script was finished.”

    Carson shared that he had a vision for how he wanted to block the film (image below):

    But don’t let the blocking fool you. The wedding (Seen above) is not actually the lead couple. “For the film, I tried to make sure I avoided all the usual clichés,” shared Carson.

    On the challenges of making a feature film, Carson shared that it can be very different from making a short film. “The casting alone was a far bigger challenge than I imagined it would be. It took months and a considerable amount of time to cast the roles. It is an immense job,” he explained.

    George Carson blocking the scene for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum funded the entire film himself, so the project was working on a microbudget to produce the film and ensure the cast and crew got paid. “It meant having to do all the work ourselves. Meticulous planning and preparation were required at every step otherwise money would be wasted.” 

    Also an actor in the film, Carson shared that understanding the skills needed in front of the camera is just as important for directors to understand as well as actors. “Giving direction is all about clear communication with everyone,” shared Carson. “I don’t think a director necessarily needs a deep understanding of the actor’s craft, but there does need to be an understanding of the skill and directors need to be able to communicate clearly what they would like the actor to do performance-wise. Every word in every line can be delivered in about a million different ways.”

    “For example, the line ‘I will really miss you.’ The director has to let the actor know what they are looking for here. Will the character really miss them or is the character glad they’re leaving?

     

    An actor can say, ‘I will really miss you’ to a character on-screen with great meaning but, at the same time, the director can let the audience know that they actually hate the other character. It is this quality that a director has to tap into.”

    As for what incoming NYFA students should tap into when coming to study at NYFA, Carson says it’s all about studying, working, and learning from yourself and by others the mistakes that are made along the way. “There are very few overnight success stories. Acting and Directing are skills that can be taught and learned. Do the work and don’t worry about failing. Just get on with it. I could talk to you and show you YouTube videos about how to drive a car. But you still need to take the keys and get into that car and drive for yourself to be able to learn how to actually do it.” 

    Behind the scenes of ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum is set to appear in a few upcoming films that have been halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic and shared that GetMeLovedUp.com is expected to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon. The film can currently be found on Reveel.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum George Carson on his outstanding achievement of first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and encourages everyone to check out the film when it becomes available and for upcoming projects from the Filmmaking alum.

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    October 27, 2020 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 218

  • NYFA Acting Alum Sèdo Tossou Featured in “Dream Life” and Kaminski’s “Upgrade Reality”

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    New York Film Academy alum Sèdo Tossou has kept busy since graduating from the 1-Year Acting for Film program in Los Angeles. He recently completed a nine-episode stint on FYI’s Dream Life where entrepreneur Serena DC moves to Los Angeles to host her new celebrity talk show, Hollywood Disclosure, as well as launch the world’s first online dating school.

    Sèdo spoke about his character who works at the online dating school, The Love Academy. “The academy is a personal development school where guests like Deepak Chopra and Caitlyn Jenner come and talk about their love life and their different experiences as a way to inspire people. I play the web designer of the academy who was supposed to have technicians working for me but I end up having to do everything by myself which creates tension and conflicts. The goal is to make sure that the grand opening of The Love Academy is a success.”

    NYFA Acting for Film alum Sèdo Tossou appeared in 9 episodes of FYI’s “Dream Life.”

    “I had a great time working on the show,” recalled the NYFA alum. “The craziest thing is that shooting for the first season started only one week after graduating from NYFA. That was insane! I didn’t fully realize what was happening. I think I still don’t realize, actually,” he laughed.   

    The NYFA acting for film alum was born in Benin and raised in France had an artistic and active upbringing that ultimately led him to pursue a career in acting. “I’ve done a lot of artistic activities since was a kid. I have a classical music degree in piano, I’ve done martial arts (Viet vo Dao), guitar, singing, dancing (hip hop/dancehall) and a lot of sports too: soccer, tennis, track and field, tennis table, and badminton. I was always admiring American actors who can do everything.”

    His love for acting eventually led him to the New York Film Academy. “I visited the (Los Angeles) campus in the summer of 2018 and loved it right away. Such a beautiful campus! Knowing that I could go to Warner Bros Studios, the Universal Backlot, and especially, collaborate with other filmmakers and photographers is the main reason why I chose NYFA.”

    Another one of the reasons Sèdo chose NYFA was the practical experience and camera hours the program affords its students. “I was doing acting back in France and I knew that what you need as an actor is content to show. So having the possibility of getting footage that we shoot in school and also with other students in filmmaking was the best way for me to start a professional career as an actor. Finding an agent, submitting to casting directors, promoting yourself is all necessary if you want to work as an actor but if you don’t have any footage of your acting everything can get more complicated and difficult.” 

    He had this advice to offer current and future students, “Do not waste time! NYFA has so many resources and once you graduate you don’t want to have any regrets like,  ‘oh, I could have done this or I could have done that.’ Personally, I regret not having done my voice over reel. The studio was there and the teachers to help were there too but I procrastinated and (my studies) went by so fast. I still don’t have my voice over reel today.”

    For having only relatively recently entered the industry, Sèdo has already had the chance to work with a Hollywood legend. “I worked on Upgrade Reality, a film directed by two-time Academy Award-winner Janusz Kaminski who has been Steven Spielberg’s director of photography since 1993’s Schindler’s List. The film for which he won his first Oscar for best cinematography.” He’s also experienced working both French and American run sets. “I worked on multiple American projects when I was in France actually, like Jack Ryan on which I had a role in the first season. But the episode was shot in Paris and I noticed that the organization on US film sets was more streamlined than the French ones. It’s really about the pre-production, everything is so specific, all the shots are well planned, the crew knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, everyone is on time and I was impressed with that level of organization.” 

    Sèdo Tossou with Janusz Kaminski on the set of “Upgrade Reality”

    “I’m currently in Bénin, my home country,” said Sèdo of his current projects. “I just started my first company named ‘Sèdo N’Nogni’ which means ‘My name is Sèdo’ in Fongbe, the most spoken dialect in the country. My goal is for it to become the greatest art school and production company in Africa. At the moment, I’m focusing on organizing MasterClasses in acting, filmmaking, and business.”

    “This year, with the Black Lives Matter movement, I realized that it is not enough to post some hashtags and pictures about it (Black Lives Matter) on social media. We need to act. We need to uplift black voices and my goal is to make it happen in my country, Bénin. Every time I see a post of NYFA on social media, I see so many African people commenting  ‘This is my dream school. I’d love to study there one day.’ I know that it is not easy for an African person to move from their country and go to America to study arts. I want to help develop infrastructures in African countries so they can study there and realize their dreams of making movies.”

    In closing, Sèdo gave special thanks to the NYFA faculty. “Thank you NYFA for this wonderful year. A huge thanks to Miraj Grbic and Isabella Hoffman who were the best acting teachers I ever had. I hope one day I’ll be successful enough to become one of NYFA Guest Speakers.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Sèdo Tossou for his time and look forward to seeing what’s next for the young actor. We encourage everyone to check out Dream Life on FYI tv or on streaming service Amazon Prime Video.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 26, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 283

  • NYFA Alum Catalina Loret Screens Experimental Short ‘Flores Dentro’ in National Film Festival for Talented Youth

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    Hailing from Merida, a seaside town in the southeast of Mexico, New York Film Academy alum Catalina Loret (Fall 2015 BFA Filmmaking) “grew up on the beach, exploring the underwater world and fascinated with stories from the world underneath. I went to NYFA with the desire to learn how to tell these stories through a camera lens and have since explored different ways to tell stories through film.” Her latest short Flores Dentro is an official selection of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, for which the New York Film Academy is a Producing Partner. 

    Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, caught up with Catalina as the festival was beginning.

    Film poster for Catalina Loret’s film ‘Flores Dentro’

    Crickett Rumley (CR): Tell us about Flores Dentro. What was your inspiration?

    Catalina Loret (CL): Flores Dentro is a film that came out of meeting new collaborators and being inspired to create something personal. I made it two years after I graduated. I wanted to explore women’s relationships with one another using the repercussions of imposed beauty standards as a frame. Women have been instilled with the false narrative that there is not enough room for all of us to be whole without tearing each other down. The physical body fluctuates; our value does not. This film aims to expose the myth of physical beauty standards and to remind everyone that bodies are merely temporary cases and what truly matters lies within and transcends physical form.

    CR: What was your favorite thing about making this film?

    CL: I am very grateful for the connections that were created for this project, from script to camera to animation. Also, that so many women have connected with the film and that it’s a piece that touched on an aspect that can be personal to us.  

    CR: What was the most challenging thing about making the film?

    CL: Shooting in film. It had been a long time since I shot in the film, and sometimes you don’t expose it right, and you don’t learn that until the developed film comes back. But these “mistakes” made the film better as we had to work with the footage we had. It made for more creative and powerful cuts in the edit.  

    Still from ‘Flores Dentro’ 

    CR: What are you looking forward to in your screening with NFFTY? Are any of their master classes or programming that look interesting to you?

    CL: I’m looking forward to sharing this film with more people! It is my intention that this film can reach as many women as possible, and share a message of empowerment and allyship. And the panel I’m most looking forward to is After the Festival Circuit, about short film distribution, so that this film can be shared further.

    CR: Which festivals have you been in so far with Flores Dentro, and what was that experience like?

    CL: I have been to LALIFF (LA Latino International Film Festival) and Hola Mexico, and during these virtual times, it was interesting. Honestly, it’s very tiring being in front of the computer all day, but I was encouraged to attend thanks to the panelists themselves who gave great talks. There was proximity felt as we were all at home in this together, making the best out of these times.

    CR: How do you think your education at NYFA and the work you did here prepared you for a career in filmmaking?

    CL: I learned a very hands-on approach to filmmaking, making it work with what we had, crafting big ideas in simple ways. I was very fortunate to have great classmates who remain colleagues and to have further developed with them.

    Director Catalina Loret behind the scenes of ‘Flores Dentro’

    CR: Do you have any advice for recent graduates making their way into the professional world?

    CL: Make, Do, Create. Keep making projects, even simple ones, and nurture your creativity, and continue to do what you love even on a small scale. It’s easy to get caught up in working for other projects and it is very important to do so, as there is so much to learn from collaborations, but always remember to create your art.

    CR: These are trying times in the world today. Art matters more than ever. Do you want to share any words about the importance of film in the lives of people living right now?

    CL: Art has always been the outlet for trying times. When we are trying to make sense of the world and put words on the nameless, we turn to art to find that connection and understand our inner and outer worlds. In times of physical distance, it is important to make and share films that call for unity and community. These can be our most powerful tools for uncertain times.  

    The New York Film Academy thanks Filmmaking alum Catalina Loret for taking the time to talk with us about her film. From October 23 through November 1, 2020, Flores Dentro can be screened on demand as part of NFFTY’s Art in Motion short film program. This “pay what you can” program will be followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with Catalina and other filmmakers, and viewers can vote for the audience award.

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    October 26, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 177

  • NYFA Partners with the National Film Festival for Talented Youth for 2020 Events

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    As the world’s largest and most influential film festival showcasing young talent from around the globe, the National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle has long been a mecca for emerging directors.  This year, not only is the New York Film Academy jumping on board as a Producing Partner, but NYFA alumni Catalina Loret (Fall 2015 BFA Filmmaking) and Matthew Avery Berg (2011-2012 Tween Digital Programs) have films in the festival and will participate in Q&As.

    Film poster for Catalina Loret’s film ‘Flores Dentro’

    Responding to the current moment, Dan Hudson, NFFTY’s Executive Director, said, “We’re excited to announce that the entire lineup from our 14th edition will be available online for a global audience.” No matter where they are in the world this October 23 through November 1, 2020, members of the NYFA community can attend online workshops, panels, and masterclasses as well as watch the work of filmmakers under the age of twenty-five.

    On Friday, October 30, Andrea Swift, filmmaker and NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Chair, and Claudia Raschke, Academy Award-nominated cinematographer, and NYFA Documentary Cinematography professor will teach a free workshop on Smartphone Cinematography for Social Media Micro Docs at 6 pm ET/3 pm PT. Attendees will be introduced to the art of making cutting-edge Micro Docs for social media distribution, learn key smartphone cinematography techniques, and be able to ask questions.

    Still from ‘Flores Dentro’ by Catalina Loret

    Throughout the festival, Catalina Loret’s film Flores Dentro can be screened on-demand as part of the Art in Motion short film program. This “pay what you can” program will be followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with Catalina and other filmmakers, and viewers can vote for the audience award.

    On Sunday, November 1, 2020, at 1:00 pm ET/10:00 a.m. PT, Accomplice by Matthew Avery Berg will live stream in the Salient Simulations Watch Party, followed by a live Q&A with Matthew and other filmmakers.  Tickets can be purchased for the live Watch Party and Q&A, or his film can be viewed on-demand during the festival as a “pay what you can” event, where viewers can vote for the audience award.

    Film poster for ‘Accomplice’ by Matthew Avery Berg

    “I’ve long admired the National Film Festival for Talented Youth’s powerful programming and commitment to filmmakers new on the scene,” said Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals. “It’s an honor to be partnering with them this year, and I encourage everyone to swing by for the films, then stay for the panels and workshops.  There’s so much to be experienced and explored.”

    For more information on the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, please click here, and be sure to read our other blogs on Catalina Loret and Matthew Avery Berg to learn more about them and their films.

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    October 25, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 111

  • NYFA Alum Francesco Panzieri Works as Compositing Supervisor for Netflix’s ‘Jingle Jangle’

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    It’s the most wonderful time of the year…well almost. Netflix has recently announced the upcoming release of the holiday musical feature film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Jingle Jangle), starring Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Hugh Bonneville, and more. NYFA’s own Francesco Panzieri served as the compositing supervisor for the upcoming film, set to be released November 13, 2020, on the streaming service platform.

    Forest Whitaker in ‘Jingle Jangle’ (Netflix)

    Panzieri has had an extensive career since attending NYFA’s 3D-Animation & VFX conservatory program and has contributed to over 20 feature films and 50 television series. Some of his titles include Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Fate of The Furious, Avengers: Infinity War, Westworld, Spiderman: Homecoming, and so much more.

    The NYFA alum’s latest work will be featured in Jingle Jangle, a holiday musical by David E. Talbert, with songs by EGOT winner and celebrated recording artist John Legend. The story follows a former toymaker (Whitaker), who is rejuvenated in his love of creativity for his craft when his curious granddaughter appears on his doorstep one day.

    Still from Netflix’s ‘Jingle Jangle’ (Netflix)

    Panzieri worked as an in-house compositing supervisor for Jingle Jangle, leading a team of artists who completed over 230 shots of post-visualization, with over 70 production shots that are in the final cut. Panzieri shared that the total VFX shot count was around 550 and is confident that the film will be welcomed warmly for all audiences over the upcoming holidays.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Francesco Panzieri on his involvement on Netflix’s Jingle Jangle and encourages everyone to check out the holiday film on November 13, 2020.

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    October 22, 2020 • 3D Animation, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 409

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Die Hart’ Actress Nathalie Emmanuel for “The Q&A-List Series”

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    On October 15, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with acclaimed actress Nathalie Emmanuel to discuss the acting craft and her latest project Die Hart (now streaming on Quibi) with NYFA students. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Nathalie Emmanuel is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after English actresses and well-known to many as ‘Missandei’ in the critically acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones. Emmanuel can now be seen in Quibi’s comedic series Die Hart, starring alongside Kevin Hart and John Travolta. The actress was recently seen in Hulu’s romantic comedy series Four Weddings and a Funeral and made her US feature film debut with the wildly popular Fast & Furious and is expected to appear in the ninth installment, F9.

    Emmanuel has also been heard as the voice of Deet in Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and starred in 20th Century Fox’s Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Emmanuel is also set to star in Josh Friedlander’s directorial debut Holly Slept Over, alongside Ron Livingston, Josh Lawson and Britt Lower.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Nathalie Emmanuel (Right) for NYFA’s The Q&A-List

    Laiter began the conversation with the Die Hart actress by asking about how she started in the business. Stating she was a shy kid growing up, Emmanuel remarked how she got into the arts as a fun hobby until she finally got her big break on British TV show Hollyoaks.

    Now Emmanuel is known all over the globe and her most recent project, Die Hart, is the latest comedy from bite-size content streaming provider Quibi. Laiter, who also has experience with Quibi for the reboot of Varsity Blues, asked Emmanuel about her experience shooting the show and the unique breakdown of each episode. “It was a four week shoot and we shot based on where we were and what we could get and it can be quite challenging shooting out of sequence, but the script was so great I remember leaving it and laughing so much and my character was such a fun challenge for me.”

    Nathalie Emmanuel and Kevin Hart in ‘Die Hart’ (Quibi)

    The discussion then opened to questions with one student asking Emmanuel about what she looks for in a script when deciding on a role. “I look for the challenges and aspects of the character that I can relate to,” she began. “As a woman and as a woman of color, I want to ask myself ‘what else can I bring to this?’ It’s also interesting to play people who are complex and when there is variety in the character’s journey.”

    Speaking of characters, Emmanuel shared with the audience some advice on how to further connect with their characters if they are feeling stuck. “Sometimes my character can be inspired by music or it’s as simple as putting on your character’s clothing, but it depends on the part and sometimes the day. Once I am sure I really understand the scene and what I am about to do, the character’s world and the people around them, then it helps me connect to my character quicker.”

    Nathalie Emmanuel in ‘The Fate of The Furious’ (Universal Pictures)

    When building out her characters, Emmanuel shared that the process is different each time depending on the story and motivation of her character. “It really depends on the story. My character is a badass in Game of Thrones, but in a different way from my character in Fast & Furious is,” she recalled. “I would just try to prepare the character and identify all their qualities and flaws. I try to treat each character as an individual person and focus on their actions and what they do.”

    Emmanuel also encouraged students who are making the move in the industry to have a solid support system nearby. “I’ve had to work hard at positive affirmation. I have control over the things that I can control in my career and there is a confidence that comes with that,” she shared. “You have to give yourself time though. Things won’t happen at the speed like someone else.”

    Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei in ‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO)

    Students were also able to ask Emmanuel about getting the part of her most iconic role, Missandei on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Emmanuel joked that she kept harassing her agent about to find a role to audition for on the show.

    After landing the role and winning over audiences everywhere, Emmanuel remarked that her favorite director on the series, Mark Mylod, was outstanding at making everything comfortable on set for an intimate scene with fellow actor Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm). “Mark took the best care of us and gave us his ideas and would allow us to provide feedback. He was so respectful and so wonderful and just helped us bring out the beauty of that scene to where we felt like we just earned this moment.”

    When working with directors, Emmanuel shared that she likes it when she can get direct feedback, even if it’s criticism. “As long as people are respectful to me when giving a note, I am fine with it,” she elaborated. “When it is laid out in a clear way, even if it’s negative, they [the director] are allowed to do that. Sometimes, you just have to work stuff out, get frustrated, and work through it.”

    Nathalie Emmanuel in ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ (20th Century Fox)

    At the end of the discussion, Laiter thanked Emmanuel for taking the time to speak with NYFA students and giving them insight into getting into character and working on set. “It was my pleasure honestly,” replied Emmanuel. “When I had seen the amazing talent of the people who have been on this series [Q&A-List], I was flattered to be here. I also get so excited about the talent that’s coming into the industry; you guys [NYFA students] are going to take hold of that whole shift that is happening.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress Nathalie Emmanuel for taking the time to speak with the NYFA community and invite the actress to come back in the future as many times as she wants!

    Nathalie Emmanuel can be seen in Quibi’s Die Hart, now available to stream by downloading the Quibi app in the app store or through Quibi.com.

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    October 20, 2020 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 194

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Issa Rae Hosts ‘Saturday Night Live’ in Show’s 46th Season

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    “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night…with your host, Issa Rae!” In the show’s third episode of the live sketch comedy’s 46th season, NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae played the iconic role of celebrity host on Saturday Night Live, performing in the comedic sketches alongside the show’s main cast and introducing this week’s musical guest, Justin Bieber.

    NYFA alum Issa Rae performs her opening monologue on ‘SNL’ (Will Heath/NBC)

    With Rae as host, shared how important the hosting gig was to her and joked that if Insecure’s fourth season was her senior year of High School, then SNL felt like the prom and the live audience were her dates. Rae also joked, “If the show goes bad tonight, just blame it on me, Mary J. Blige,” a lighthearted jab at how Black people in Hollywood often get confused for other people who look nothing like them.

    Rae’s quirky comedy enlivened many sketches throughout the evening, but her top moments seemed to shine in sketches like “First Date Exes,” where her character keeps seeing her extremely off-putting exes while on a first date, and “Canadian News Show,” in which she played an anchor always on the lookout for Canadian rapper Drake in Toronto.

    Rae recently appeared in HBO’s original film Coastal Elites and is currently in pre-production on season 5 of her critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated series Insecure.

    New York Film Academy is proud to watch NYFA alum Issa Rae shine on stage and looks forward to what’s next from the talented writer, director, producer, and actress.

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    October 18, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 149