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  • NYFA Alum Rozette Rago Named an Honoree in 2020 Edition of Annual Photographers List

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    She has shot some of your favorite icons from Natalie Portman and Will Smith, to Steven Spielberg and Ryan Coogler, and capturing music icons U2, Metallica, Kanye West, and more. The NYFA Filmmaking alum, Rozette Rago, has had quite the career and she is only getting started, having recently nabbed a spot on the coveted list of “The 30.”

    The 30 is recognized throughout the professional photography industry as a “go-to” outlet to discover some of the best photographers in the world and serves as a platform to elevate emerging photographers growing their careers. Each year, The 30 are selected through a nomination and jurying process that includes the input of established photographers, photo editors, art directors, curators, and other industry leaders that are cultivated by Photo District News Magazine.

    Rago attended an 8-Week NYFA Filmmaking program in 2010 and has since gone on to shoot for The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Vanity Fair, The FADER, HBO, A+E Networks, Rolling Stone, and many more. She has also been profiled by CNN and Masterpiece for her body of work and has been hailed by Culture Photo Editor at The Times as “one of those photographers who elevates the ordinary,”

    NYFA alum used for U2’s promotional materials (Photo by Rozette Rago)

    After arriving on the scene in Los Angeles, Rago shot for bands like U2, Interpol, and Metallica, which then allowed her to leverage her portfolio to get a job as a photo editor at Time Out Los Angeles. For the past three years, she’s been a photo editor at Wirecutter in addition to contributing to other publications and networking with other women in the industry. She’s a member of groups including Authority Collective, Women Photograph, and Diversify Photo.

    Steven Spielberg (Photo by Rozette Rag0)

    The Filipino-American photographer shared with The 30 that she is grateful for the path that she has taken and shares it has “landed me exactly where I want to be,” with a career that has captured stories, scenes from music, performers, and more.

    The cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” and Director Jonathan Chu by Rozette Rago

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Rozette Rago on her incredible journey and for the well-deserved recognition by her peers on being named in The Annual 30 Photographers List.

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  • Sony’s Gemstone Studios’ Inaugural Rising Storytellers Search Names NYFA Alum Krystina Christiansen as a Finalist

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    Originally reported in Deadline, NYFA Producing alum Krystina Christiansen was named one of four finalists competing for a chance to sign a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and win additional prizes in Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search.

    The Houston, TX native originally received her BA in Public Relations at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX before coming to New York Film Academy. “I have been running around with a camera in hand since I was a kid,” shared Christiansen. “I didn’t know what I was doing was called filmmaking and I didn’t grow up obsessing over the art of filmmaking. I just really love storytelling.”

    NYFA producing alum Krystina Christiansen

    “When I got to college, I didn’t see a ‘reasonable’ path to filmmaking outside of being an entertainment lawyer so I went to law school in San Diego with that intent,” she revealed. Not long after, Christiansen recalled sitting in a class one day watching a documentary and it was there she realized she would rather be the person who made that documentary than the student watching it, leading her to study at New York Film Academy.

    “What I got from my time at NYFA was what education has always given me – the confidence I feel I need to move towards my goals. Specifically to NYFA, I love how diverse the community is; I was one of 3 Americans in my class.”

    NYFA producing alum Krystina Christiansen

    After pursuing her MFA in Producing at NYFA, Christiansen worked on an array of productions, directing and producing music videos and a web series, followed by a handful of short films. “I realized I was burning myself out working on shoe-string budget passion projects so I started working as a coordinator.” She then landed her first feature with Black-owned production company Hidden Empire Film Group as a Travel Coordinator for the film Traffik starring Omar Epps and Paula Patton.

    “The cinematographer on Traffik, Dante Spinotti, taught me so much with his actions. He really raised the bar of expectations on the type of people I want to work with. Talent is great, but kindness is key,” shared Christiansen.

    Since then, the NYFA alum has been working in the digital and commercial space as a coordinator and has worked her way up to production managing and producing with companies like Participant’s digital arm SoulPancake, and in 2020 she produced, wrote, and directed for TikTok, The Redford Center, USC Keck Medicine, and others in the commercial and doc space.

    Krystina Christiansen behind the scenes shooting “Closing the Gap” for The Redford Center

    Now Christiansen is being recognized for her work and ideas for her project The Narrative by Sony’s Gemstone Studios by being named one of the four finalists in the inaugural Rising Storytellers Search. Her entry pitch for her project, The Narrative, a hybrid docudrama that takes an anthropological view of decades of civil unrest in Houston.

    “When I was 13, I overheard a newscaster talking about the 30 year anniversary of a trial in Houston called ‘The Houston 12.’ While watching it I recognized one of the men was my dad,” she revealed. “He was working overseas at the time and there’s nothing about this trial online so I kept hitting walls anytime I’d inquire about it. My dad is incredibly humble about this, but I knew there was a story here and as mentioned, I love a good story.”

    Christiansen did everything she could to dig deeper into her research to uncover the truth behind The Houston 12 and spent 2019 flying back and forth to Houston to sit in Rice University’s basement reading two decades of microfilm to do research for the story. Throughout that process, she noticed alarming patterns within media stories that revealed covered up corruption and, eventually, the articles detailing the Houston 12 trial.

    Krystina Christiansen shooting “Closing the Gap” for The Redford Center

    The four finalists for Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search, including Christiansen, will receive tools from Sony Alpha and team up with mentors from both SPT and Ideas United to refine their final pitch reels before presenting them for judging in November. In addition to a deal with Gemstone, the creator of the winning proposal will take home equipment from Sony and get access to the company’s Digital Media Production Center (DMPC) technical-virtual training. All finalists will also be given a 24-month subscription to Celtx Video Production Studio Software and Josefinas products.

    New York Film Academy is thrilled to share the exciting news about Krystina Christiansen being named a finalist and wishes the NYFA alum the best of luck and all the support for her biggest and most personal project yet, The Narrative

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    November 19, 2020 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 279

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum Lebogang Fisher Selected for Actors in Training Casting Initiative by Warner Bros. Television

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    Lebogang Fisher or “Lebo” (pronounced Leh-boo), is a South African actress and director (M R Management, Stella Talent) and NYFA alum. Her name “Lebogang” means to be thankful, and she has been, time and time again, for the opportunities she has had, including most recently when she was one of ten selected to be part of the inaugural group of Warner Bros. TV’s (WBTV) “Actors in Training” program.

    The WBTV Actors in Training program is designed to connect Warner Bros. Studio with emerging actors who may have had their final year of dramatic training curtailed or negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 6,800 actors from 280 training programs worldwide who participated in the program, Warner Bros. selected Fisher as an actress to watch and to be introduced to the entertainment community at large.

    NYFA Alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher

    If not for the pandemic, Fisher would have been playing Ophelia in a South African production of Hamlet at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town later this year. In the meantime though, you can watch her work as Cressida in The Show Must Go Online’s Troilus and Cressida.

    Fisher attended NYFA’s 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory program in New York City after her agent in South Africa suggested she audition for the program. “My family didn’t have the money, but you could audition for a talent-based scholarship,” shared Fisher. Recalling her audition for the scholarship, Fisher shared that she remembered messing up one of her monologues, but quickly pivoted and tried something else. “When I was done [with the second monologue], the scout said to me, Yeah…You need to lead with that one next time. He offered me a scholarship on the spot.”

    Following graduation and after finding her footing in the artist community, Fisher discovered the Warner Brothers initiative from a friend on Facebook which prompted her to submit all her materials to the program in hopes of being selected. “At that point in time, I was quite disheartened. A lot of projects that I was auditioning for/preparing for were postponed due to the pandemic, and eventually, all were canceled. Even my survival job fell through,” she revealed. “When I saw the WBTV call, I felt a glimmer of hope. I knew I had to swing BIG.”

    After going through the process and being selected as one of the ten finalists, Fisher acknowledged the honor of being selected. “Being able to meet with the casting team and the showrunners at WBTV is amazing,” said Fisher. “The ability to create a long-lasting relationship with other creatives around the world is something that this pandemic has enabled us all to do. It’s opened me up to people I may never have been able to meet.”

    When all is said and done, Fisher shared that being an artist is “a lifetime commitment” and advises students and artists of the craft to remember that. She also reminded NYFA acting students to remember: “There will be many long days. It can be fun, exciting, the newness of the city and the students around you may feel like falling in love. It can also be challenging, strange, but pay attention. Time moves fast.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher on her outstanding achievement and looks forward to seeing what is next from the actress in her career journey.

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  • Cinematography Instructor Mark Sawicki Featured in ‘Deadline’ and Discusses New Book “Filming the Fantastic with Virtual Technology” Bringing Movie Magic Solutions

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    As many TV and film productions are grappling with new social distancing guidelines and reassessing working with extras for crowd scenes, New York Film Academy Cinematography instructor for NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, Mark Sawicki, says VFX is here to help.

    Sawicki is a Clio-winning VFX and opticals artist, who has worked on incredible titles from The Dark Knight Rises and Bullet to the Head, to Tropic Thunder, 3:10 to Yuma and X-Men, among several others. Recently featured in Deadline, Sawicki shared how productions will increasingly begin to look to VFX to solve the challenging situations for making safer productions and creating scenes with crowds where multiple extras on set are typically needed.  

    Courtesy of Mark Sawicki

    Using examples from titles like Casanova, Dracula, Gladiator, Pan Am, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, and more, Sawicki explains different VFX and even practical effects that can make movie magic for keeping sets safer. He also elaborated that background actors are still integral to filmmaking, but safety will need to take precedent. “I think background actors are very important. You know, this is a moving target as we’re adapting.”

    Sawicki is the co-author with Juniko Moody of the recently released book Filming the Fantastic With Virtual Technology: Filmmaking on the Digital Backlot. Like his interview with Deadline explains, Sawicki and Moody outline some of the most ambitious evolutions in digital effects in filmmaking and the new and exciting developments in digital cinematography with their new book, ultimately providing solutions for how VFX can help solve many of the challenges arising as crews look to return to work on COVID-safe sets.

    To read the full article on Deadline, click here. Sawicki’s book has recently been released and is now available on Amazon and Kindle. 

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    November 11, 2020 • 3D Animation, Cinematography, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights • Views: 485

  • NYFA Alumni Majid Al Ansari and Razanne Jammal Involved in Netflix Original Series “Paranormal”

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    Not one, but two alumni are involved in Netflix’s first series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers for Arabic Netflix. NYFA Filmmaking alum Majid Al Ansari directs three episodes of the new series, with actress and NYFA alum Razanne Jammal starring as lead character Maggie Mckillop.

    Film poster for ‘Paranormal’

    Ma Waraa al-Tabea (in Arabic) or “Paranormal” in English, premiered on November 5, 2020, and marks Egypt’s first original series in addition to being the first Arabic Netflix series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers.

    The series is based on Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s thrilling book series about doctor Refaat Ismail, a cynical doctor whose lifelong scientific convictions are suddenly called into question. The Egyptian author’s critically acclaimed novels in Arabic have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

    NYFA alum Razanne Jammal in ‘Paranormal’

    Razanne Jammal attended NYFA’s 4-Week Acting for Film program in 2009 and has since built up a successful acting career, starring alongside Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones and starring in Robert Guédiguian’s Don’t Tell Me The Boy Was Mad, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. She now plays Maggie Mckilop in Paranormal, Refaat’s university colleague who enters the paranormal world to protect those around her from danger.

    Majid Al Ansari at a panel for Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX

    Director Majid Al Ansari attended NYFA’s 2-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program and went on to have his debut feature film Zinzana (“Rattle The Cage”) have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest and its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. Zinzana was subsequently picked up and eventually sold to Netflix as the first Arab film acquisition after the streaming giant branched out to the Middle East. He has director credits for three episodes of the Netflix thriller Paranormal.

    Still from ‘Paranormal’

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Alumni Razanne Jammal and Majid Al Ansari for their involvement on Paranormal and encourages everyone to check out the new series if it is available in their country and looks forward to what’s next from the NYFA graduates.

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  • 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: 580

  • 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: 248

  • New York Film Academy Earns Tony Nominations for 74th Annual Tony Awards

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    In a season cut short by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Tony Awards declare the show must go on by celebrating the productions that ran before the February 19, 2020 cut-off to be considered for the 74th Annual Tony Awards.

    The nominations were revealed on October 15, 2020 by Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart, who shared the nominations via video that honored Broadway shows and artists.

    ‘Jagged Little Pill’ (Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy)

    Leading the pack of nominations is the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill with 15 nominations, earning at least one nomination in every eligible category. The heavily-nominated production was produced by NYFA Musical Theatre alumni Chase Thomas and Yael Silver.

    Moulin Rouge! earned 14 nominations, including Aaron Tveit earning the only Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical nomination; making him an automatic winner of the award if 60 percent of the total ballots cast will grant an award to that category.

    Caption: ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

    A Christmas Carol, also produced by NYFA alum Chase Thomas, received nods for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Costume Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Play, and Best Sound Design of a Play.

    At this time, The American Broadway Wing and The American Theatre Wing have not officially announced when the award ceremony, being held virtually, will take place.

    Congratulations to NYFA alum Yael Silver and Chase Thomas on their respective shows’ nominations! To watch the full list of nominations, check out the full video below:

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    October 16, 2020 • Entertainment News, Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 267

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Pavitra Chalam Co-Directs ‘Rooting for Roona’ – Now Streaming on Netflix

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    Now available to stream on Netflix: Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam co-directs the new, inspirational documentary Rooting For Roona about a child named Roona with an advanced form of hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the brain resulting in an enlarged head and can also cause brain damage.

    Roona quickly becomes known all over the world after images of her go viral. Not long after, Roona is admitted to one of India’s premier private hospitals in the nation in New Delhi to undergo surgery for her condition. In the documentary, Chalam and co-director Akshay Shankar chart the incredible story of Roona and her family as the young child goes through a life-altering surgery to combat her birth defect.

    Documentary film poster for ‘Rooting For Roona’ (Netflix)

    Chalam and Shankar aim to create public awareness around the issue of congenital healthcare and bring birth defects to the forefront of the public conversation. Chalam has previously directed documentary shorts Anamika: Her Glorious Past, Indelible, and Maanasi – ‘of Sound Mind.’

    NYFA Alum Pavitra Chalam with Roona

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam on her latest directorial achievement and encourages everyone to check out the new documentary now streaming on Netflix.

    Watch the full trailer for the new documentary below or click here.

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    October 15, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 363

  • NYFA Alum Francesca Scorsese Stars in HBO’s ‘We Are Who We Are’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Francesca Scorsese breaks out in her first-ever TV series as Britney in Luca Guadagnino’s new miniseries We Are Who We Are for HBO.

    We Are Who We Are marks Guadagnino’s first TV show after directing critically acclaimed films Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria. The series is a coming-of-age story set at an army base in Italy and follows the exhilaration and pitfalls of becoming a teenager. The series premiered on September 14, 2020 on HBO and also features Jack Dylan Grazer, Chloë Sevigny, Alice Braga, and Scott Mescudi (a.k.a Kid Cudi).

    NYFA Alum Francesca Scorsese in ‘We Are Who We Are’ (Photo Credit: HBO)

    Scorsese studied at NYFA’s New York City campus from 2012-2014 in NYFA’s Filmmaking Camps for Kids and TeensWe Are Who We Are is Scorsese’s first TV project, having also starred in Wolf at The Door and landing smaller roles in projects helmed by her father, famed director Martin Scorsese, which include: Boardwalk Empire, Hugo, and The Aviator.

    Scorsese in ‘We Are Who We Are’ (Photo Credit: Alessio Bolzoni/HBO)

    NYFA would like to congratulate alum Francesca Scorsese on her breakout role as Britney in the new miniseries We Are Who We Are, now appearing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.

    Watch the full trailer for Luca Guadagnino’s We Are Who We Are below or click here.

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    September 30, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Summer Camps • Views: 522