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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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  • New York Film Academy Produces Video Highlighting 2019 Burbank Arts Beautification Program

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA), in partnership with the City of Burbank’s Cultural Arts Commission, has produced a video highlighting the 2019 Burbank Arts Beautification Program, an art installation initiative to display original artwork on utility boxes throughout the Burbank community.

    With NYFA’s own Los Angeles campus located in the Burbank area, NYFA offered its support to the Burbank Arts Beautification Program for this local community initiative as a means to provide a glimpse at what has been accomplished so far in the community through the Program. NYFA’s video highlights the Phase 3 of the Burbank Arts Beautification Program, which focused on the utility boxes located in the media district of Burbank. These boxes were painted by talented artists, who were inspired by the theme “A World of Entertainment.” 

    A Vintage Postcard for Burbank’ by Artist Monika Petroczy

    In addition to creating the video highlighting the 2019 Burbank Arts Beautification Program, NYFA also sponsored artist Monika Petroczy, who created her box, ‘A Vintage Postcard for Burbank.’ Petroczy’s box was inspired by the classic vintage postcards from the 1950’s and included famous Burbank landmarks, activities and landscapes both classic and modern.

    NYFA sponsored artist Monika Petroczy (Left)

    This week, the City of Burbank in partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department and the Public Works Department, announced a call to all artists to participate in the Burbank Arts Utility Box Beautification Project for 2020. Various utility boxes throughout the City’s Magnolia Park District will be painted with original art inspired by the theme of “Celebrate Community.” Applications are now open and will close on Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 5:00 P.M PST.

    NYFA would like to thank the City of Burbank’s Cultural Arts Commission for being part of Burbank Arts Beautification Program and encourages artists to apply to be part of the Magnolia Park District phase of the Program. 

    To learn about previous Utility Box Beautification Projects, or to apply, click here

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    June 20, 2020 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 629

  • Congratulations to the Winter Class of 2020 at New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA)!

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    The end of January was an exciting time at New York Film Academy (NYFA), as students and instructors witnessed the culmination of their hard work over multiple days of final screenings, presentations, pitches, and of course, graduation ceremonies. 

    Students were able to invite family, friends, and industry professionals and present their work; Filmmaking, Producing, and Acting for Film students held their final screenings at Warner Bros. Studios; Photography students had their work displayed in art galleries; Screenwriting and Producing students pitched ideas to entertainment professionals; and Game Design students presented their creations at a showcase. The excitement concluded with a full day of graduation ceremonies with family and faculty cheering on their graduates.

    The January 2020 graduation ceremony was held at the Harmony Gold Theater in West Hollywood. Throughout three ceremonies, family and friends from all over the world gathered to celebrate as NYFA graduates proudly accepted their diplomas and tossed their caps in the air.

    Guest speaker and NYFA Board Member Matthew Modine encouraged graduates to be actively present in the moment, instructing students and guests to take a deep breath, while stating, “Conscious breathing reminds us that we are alive, in the moment, and that the moment–this moment–is all there really is. No one has ever existed in the past or the future, there’s only now. You must always remember to breathe.” 


    Modine continued his commencement speech by motivating students to hone in on their creativity and open their minds, proclaiming, “Being an artist requires you to think. It demands you to reason, collaborate, and develop a worldview. Your creativity will only be as vast as your imagination. Your talent will manifest in the choices that you make.” 

    He added, “Today, you graduated from this Academy and you must now enroll in the school of thought. The cost for this next investment is simply being present and aware of each and every moment.” Modine’s message garnered a positive response from the hopeful graduates, excited to share their creativity with the world. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates all of the incredible students who have dedicated so much time and hard work into completing their training here. We look forward to celebrating all their wonderful achievements to come! 

     

    Take a look at all the images in the following links:

     

     

     

    January 2020 Graduates  

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    Mahmoud Abul Burghul

    Meshaal Al Jaser

    Sura Aldakhil

    Elton Alexander

    Khaled Algrainees

    Seda Anbarci

    Nida Arif

    Alina Averianova

    Veronica Badell

    Branden Bailey

    Ryan Barnes

    Catalina Barragan Castano

    Frederick Scott Basnight II

    Alexander Bethea

    Zhishen Bi

    Lyndsay Bianco

    Jaime Blanson

    David Bockenkamp

    Jaden Tyler Boland

    Ekaterina Bolshakova

    Trey Bond

    Cole Ryan Brewer

    Sarah Brine

    Troy Brown

    Amara Brown

    Nathaniel Bryan

    Samuel Buckner

    Zhiyin Cai

    Lissette Camacho

    Matthew Relyea Capron

    Federica Carlino

    Andrei Carmona Linhares

    Yu-Fang (Annie) Chang

    Chin-Wei Chang

    Lingjuan Chang

    Kritika Chawla

    Suimeng Chen

    Yanqing Chen

    Haolin Chen

    Yufei Chen

    Lan-Chi Chien

    Sungho Chun

    JaToris Combs

    Paige Conroy

    Alexis Cruz

    Keren Dekterov

    Brianna Dickens

    Francisca Emma Dolha

    Lialdon Donovan-Green

    Yuwei Du

    Zhiyuan Duan

    Daniel Morgan Duddy

    Murat Dugan

    India Edwards

    Theresa Katharina Eschbacher

    Jose Escorcia

    Anthony Alexander Esparza

    Boise Badilla Esquerra

    Liujin Fang

    Chloe Feller

    Aaron J. Field

    Devan Ford

    Hunter Fox

    Huanting Gao

    Daniel Garza

    Steve Grigdesby

    Haining Gu

    Abdulrahman Haddadi

    Erin Lynnette Hall

    Paiten Hamilton

    Woonyea Han

    Ziwei Han

    Wahijadeen Harrison

    Jingya He

    Skye Hendon

    Herbert Antonio Hidalgo

    Chia-Yu Hsieh

    Xuemao Hu

    Xin Huang

    Sean Jackson

    Sebastian Jaimes

    Julianna James

    Tian Jin

    Bobby LaMont Johnson II

    Senka Joti

    Shreya Karunakaram

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    Sanaya Gautam Khatri

    Mina Khouzam

    Shreya Kotian

    Anton Krasavin

    Brandon Lattman

    Nicholas Lehman

    Yinghao Li

    Junke Li

    Yilin Li

    Dong Huk Lim

    Doudou Lin

    Shiyu Liu

    Gong Liu

    Kameshia Logan

    Chenxin Lou

    Pedro Louis

    Yi Lu

    Gabriel Lugo

    Chi Ma

    Megan Ressa Mann

    Yasmine Mazboudi

    Jack McKeever

    Ryan Mechling

    Siyuan Miao

    Jaasir Omar Minor

    Nicolai Ndambo

    Joseph Neibich

    Rialene Nel

    Nolan Nelson

    Zhuoran Ni

    Dylan Nuttall

    Mudiwa Kennedy Simbai Nyamande

    Ashley Oge

    Romelia Osorio

    Botagoz Ospanova

    Caglan Ozdogan

    Caterina Piccardo

    Justin Piehler

    Muhammad Rehan

    Jason Dale Rhodes

    Kameron Donnel Rory

    Alexandra Maria Roth-Rosenthal

    Aaron Rowe

    Gulshan Salamli

    Sharwin Sandesh Samant

    Juan Martín Sánchez

    Brenda Serrano

    Jia Shi

    Agnes Shinozaki

    Ilan Siegal Berner

    Thorunn Sigurdardottir

    Chul Hyeon Son

    Noelle Soulier

    Cristopher Spagna

    Athena Stamakinley

    Jonathan Stroughter

    Jeremy Suarez

    Edward Suh

    Keping Sun

    Yueh-Tzu Sun

    Rongkang Sun

    Jared Swift

    Phyllis Tam

    Yuchi Tian

    Diego Toussaint

    Joaquin Trapero

    Szabina Hanna Tutor

    Rachel Vaswani

    Vitoria Mitsuyo Wada

    Jiayu Wang

    Yu-Tzu Wang

    Shiran Wang

    Joshua Weyers

    Daniel Wheatley

    Anthony White

    Banghao Xiao

    Jingrui Xin

    Zehao Xu

    Chuanzhuan Xue

    Vladyslav Yuriyovich Yaremov

    Chen Yu

    Yazeed Zailaee

    Miaoling Zhao

    Muyun Zhou

    Sainan Zhu

    Adilet Zhumabek

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    March 2, 2020 • Community Highlights, Student Life • Views: 1216

  • Sun Valley High School and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Give Students the Opportunity to Shoot Films on the Universal Studios Backlot

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    On March 21, Students from Sun Valley High School were able to attend a filmmaking workshop at the New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) that allowed them to produce short films at the highest level over the course of a single day.

    Sun Valley Backlot

    NYFA’s hands-on approach gave the students a chance to learn college- and professional-industry level practices on the Universal Studios Backlot, where students of NYFA’s conservatories, workshops, and degree programs also have the opportunity to shoot their films. Over the course of the day, the Sun Valley students were able to shoot, direct, and edit their very own short films.

    The students were broken up into teams and worked closely with NYFA instructor Steve Morris to make their films. The students had a great time and were able to enjoy a professional atmosphere created by the NYFA team that will prepare them should they ever enter the industry. The goal of the workshop especially is to inspire them to be creative and believe in themselves as creatives. 

    New York Film Academy has been partnering with Sun Valley High School for several years. The four-year educational institution is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District and has a goal to “shape young minds to be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges not only in film, but in life and give [their] students the ability to cognitively understand society and allow them the freedom to make choices for their own success.”

    Sun Valley Backlot

    Some of the Sun Valley students spoke about their films and their experience making them:

    Daniel: “One thing I like working on the backlot of Universal Studios is just seeing everything how it was back then and what it looks like now … Right now we’re working on a comedy film, where a guy is meeting up with his crush and he just has bad luck—he’s trying to get to her but he keeps having bad luck that stops him … They meet up and in the middle of the film she hits her face on a pole and that’s his bad luck happening to her. My favorite thing about working here is being able to have the experience and work with teens like me and just learn the everyday things and I just love it”.

    John: “We’re working on a film about a kid—so basically he’s supposed to tie his shoe but he can never tie his shoe because there’s always something distracting him … He ends up seeing the guy who robs him for his shoe and gets his shoes back and that’s basically it. I’m not gonna lie—our shot was a little rough in the beginning because we had some complications, but we worked it out and discussed it and we’re just rolling with it. It’s going pretty good now and we’re almost close to finishing it. What I like most about being on the backlot is the new experience—it’s my first time being here. I’ve never seen a backlot like this before. I always wanted to work in the film industry; personally, I want to be a screenwriter, but I wouldn’t mind acting because it’s pretty cool out here.” 

    Fernanda: “I’m the director of the short film that we’re filming here on the Universal backlot and our film is basically about a girl that falls in love with this guy and they end up getting pregnant, but the guy doesn’t want the baby so he beats her and becomes really abusive and she has a miscarriage. My favorite thing about the universal backlot is we get to location scout … We don’t have time to procrastinate so everything’s really fast and fun. My favorite scene was the beating scenes because it was so intense and getting the shots and angles for that scene especially was so cool. I feel really confident with my accomplishments.”

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    April 1, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Outreach • Views: 1322

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Tour the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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    Vampire bats, West African flying squirrels, pangolins and tigers — oh my! 

    During their field trip to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, New York Film Academy (NYFA) students from this summer’s environmental biology course saw a myriad of species firsthand that most people will never be lucky enough to encounter. 

    Mammal Collections Manager Dr. Jim Dines gave a behind-the-scenes tour for the students and generously introduced them to the world of natural history collections and explained the importance of museum specimens to scientific endeavors.

    Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County


    The specimens presented have been collected and preserved over the past century for use in ongoing and future biodiversity research. Students also learned about specimen preparation and the usage of specimens for animation and filmmaking

    The environmental biology course is part of NYFA’s Liberal Arts and Sciences department, where the creative artists pursuing their degrees at NYFA can build a foundation in courses ranging from Arts & Humanities to History of Art, Theatre & Media to the Social and Natural Sciences.

    The New York Film Academy thanks Dr. Jim Dines and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for giving NYFA students an invaluable insight into this amazing resource and the chance to see and feel such remarkable animals!

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    February 20, 2019 • Liberal Arts and Sciences • Views: 1242

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Holds Meet and Greet for Alumni

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    On Thursday, December 6, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a TALENT MEET AND GREET at its Los Angeles Campus. NYFA invited talent agents and managers from around Hollywood to meet with Acting for Film alumni in an informal setting. 

    Agents and managers that attended the event were: Guy Kochlani (Across the Board Talent Agency), Laura Bowman (Brady, Brannon & Rick Talent), Ryan Hayden (Ideal Talent Agency), Denise Barrett (BBA Talent), Jean-Marc Carre & Vincent Carre (Central Artists), Sandy Oroumieh & Lucia Chiao (Rothman / Andrés Entertainment), Christopher Montgomery-Bender (Prodigy Talent), and Tyler Kahl (Allegory Creative Talent).  

    December 2018 NYFA Alumni Meet & Greet

    The talent agents and managers set up their own desks and booths and NYFA alumni went from table to table handing out headshots and spending a few minutes with each representative. For the aspiring actors this was a unique opportunity to meet many talent representatives — all in one evening!

    The NYFA alumni were given time to pitch themselves and ask the agents and managers advice on careers, the entertainment industry, and how to succeed. Hearing real-world critiques from a variety of industry professionals helped them better prepare for their future as they continue to network and pursue their acting careers.  

    Barbara Weintraub, Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development, organized the event and was thrilled with the turnout and positive feedback from both the alumni and agencies. She heard back from students the next day who were contacted by the companies.  

    Here is just some of what the alumni had to say following the meet and greet:

    This experience has been nothing short of amazing. It’s one thing to email your headshot and resume to an agent and hope to hear back, but now not only do you get to hand them a physical copy — you get to sell your personality to them.
    —Jack

    I love this. It’s a great opportunity to meet with agents and managers!
    —Belle Guillory

    It’s great to see agents in real life instead of just submitting your headshot.
    —Laura Van Yck

    This event is so great, and I am so happy that the school is doing this and giving us the opportunity to get in touch with people in the industry and to get to know new people and talk to them.
    —Anna Salles

    New York Film Academy thanks the industry representatives for their time and looks forward to having more of these events in the future!

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    December 14, 2018 • Acting, Alumni Events, Community Highlights • Views: 1491

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Holds Q&A with “Affairs of State” Director and Cast

    FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn Monday, December 3rd, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of Affairs of State followed by a Q&A with director and NYFA instructor, Eric Bross, producer, Stephen Israel, and actors, David Corenswet and Nate Walker, moderated by NYFA Producing Chair, Roberta Colangelo. Affairs of State explores the extent to which one man is willing to take risks to progress his career in Washington D.C.

    Director and NYFA instructor, Eric Bross, is known for directing A Country Christmas Story (2013), Traffic (2004) and Stranger Than Fiction (2000). Producer, Stephen Israel, is a former VP of New Business Development at TBS, worked in strategic planning at Warner Brothers and spent four years as a management consultant with Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He is known for producing Blood, Sand and Gold (2017), G.B.F. (2013) and I Do (2012). Actor, David Corenswet, is a Julliard graduate known for his roles in House of Cards, The Tap and Elementary. Actor, Nate Walker, is known for his roles in Homeland, Bottom of the Barrel and The Maladjusted.

    Colangelo opened up the Q&A by inquiring about Bross’ inspiration for the film. Bross shared that he and Todd Cudworth, the film’s writer, were inspired by the ruthlessness of the “game” of politics; the original script, written in the early 2000s, was based on the tactics used by the Republican party to discredit President Bill Clinton– and the Democratic party as a whole– in the public eye in the late 90s. Bross said that Cudworth asked himself, “What if the Democrats got really ruthless, just matched the tactics of the Republicans who seemed to be pretty much willing to do whatever it [took]?” However, as America moved closer to the Trump presidency, the script evolved.

    Ultimately, Bross and Cudworth wanted to bring attention to the world of politics rather than make an argument about a specific political party as contemporary politics is so consumed by polarity. Producer Stephen Israel assisted with the blurring of the political binary in through the characterization of the protagonist’s boss, a political candidate named John Baines, “We took a lot of trouble to play…Baines’ politics down the middle,” said Israel, “We tried to make him a conservative who could appeal to liberals.”

    Colangelo noted that sex is used by the main character of the film, Michael Lawson, to gain power in the political sphere and asked how Bross navigated the sex scenes from a storytelling perspective. “I never like to shoot anything gratuitous,” said Bross, “Every scene in every movie should have a purpose…and this movie, ultimately to me, is about the exchange of power, sex for power.” Bross discussed how the sex scenes in which Michael is with Mrs. Baines, his boss’ wife, and the sex scenes in which Michael is with Darcy Baines, his boss’ daughter, were shot and edited differently to give different effects; Michael’s scenes with Mrs. Baines are focused on the exchange of sex for power whereas Michael’s scenes with Darcy are more romantic and idealized.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Eric Bross, Stephen Israel, David Corenswet and Nate Walker for sharing their perspectives on storytelling and working in the entertainment industry with our students.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 7, 2018 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1722

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts Q&A with “The Goalkeeper” Director Rodrigo Patiño

    FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailUPDATE (8/20/19): The Goalkeeper has been acquired by HBO Latino and will be available to view in February 2020. The film is also scheduled to have a theatrical release in Argentina.

    On Thursday, November 29th the New York Film Academy hosted a screening of The Goalkeeper followed by a Q&A with director, co-writer and former NYFA instructor, Rodrigo “Gory” Patiño, moderated by Marlene Dermer, co-founder and former director of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

    Patiño is a Bolivian actor, writer and director. He earned an MFA in Film and Television at Chapman University in California and later returned to Bolivia where he co-wrote and directed La Entrega, a 10-episode TV series about human trafficking. This series inspired the film, The Goalkeeper, which has now been chosen to represent Bolivia at the 2019 Academy Awards. Patiño’s most recent film is Pseudo, a political thriller about a taxi driver who steals the identity of a passenger who turns out to be a mercenary.

    Dermer opened up the Q&A by inquiring about the writing process for The Goalkeeper. Patiño shared that one of his co-writers, Camila Urioste, is a novelist who had done extensive research on human trafficking in Bolivia; she helped him create and write the series, La Entrega, which ultimately led to the production of The Goalkeeper. “Eight girls disappear every day…and that’s what’s reported.” said Patiño. Patiño added that he and his team interviewed a high-profile activist in Bolivia, a mother whose daughter went missing, and she shared a multitude of stories with them that helped to shape the film.

    Patiño and his team added a layer of complexity to the issue of human trafficking by forcing the main character of the The Goalkeeper, a father, to make extreme and tragic choices in the hope of paying for his sick son’s surgery; the father ultimately decides to sell a young girl into sex slavery in order to pay for his son’s surgery and he must deal with the consequences of his decision. “We [ask] the audience, ‘How far would you go to save your son or daughter?’” said Patiño, “We wanted to provoke a dialogue.”

    Dermer went on to ask the audience if they had any questions for Patiño; one audience member wanted to know how Patiño and his writing team navigated having the main character of the film, the father, make the disturbing decision to sell the girl to human traffickers as that could quickly turn the audience against his character. “We were conscious that this [was] an anti-hero story…but, believe it or not, we had some people that said, ‘Yeah, but he had to save his son!’…We wanted that dilemma.” said Patiño.

    Another audience member asked Patiño what his advice would be for aspiring filmmakers. “Write, write and write,” said Patiño, “because people are hungry for content.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Patiño for sharing his knowledge about the epidemic of human trafficking in Bolivia and his advice for young storytellers.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 5, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1546

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Lujein Ashi

    FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailLujein Ashi is a filmmaker, graphic designer, and storyteller who works for Saudi Arabia’s leading oil company, Saudi Aramco. In August, Lujein completed the 4-week Filmmaking workshop at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus after winning a scholarship with a 1-minute video. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) met up with Lujein to find out what her experience was like with the program, and what her plans for the future include.Lujein Ashi

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): So, how did your interest in coming here start? 

    Lujein Ashi (LA): I’ve always loved filmmaking stories since I was a child. I told stories to my sisters before we’d go to sleep, stuff I’d make up. I remember there was one moment that really stood out to me in my life. I went to watch Lord of the Rings in the cinema. I was with my friends. When we left everybody was so happy, but I felt sad. I didn’t understand it then. I understand it now. I felt like I was on the wrong side of the screen, like I was the one who was supposed to be giving people that feeling, not people giving that feeling to me. So, stories have always been a part of my life. 

    When it came time to choose what I wanted to study in college, I had to choose something that was practical. In the Gulf, we don’t have many opportunities for film, but then the New York Film Academy came to Bahrain to do a promo. I went and I just sat there and listened to [Dean of Enrollment Services] Tami Alexander do the presentation. She was really sweet. 

    I told her one day I’m going to come — hopefully, if it’s meant for me — and I signed up to their newsletter. I think it was like a month or two later, I get an email saying there was an opportunity for two scholarships for Saudi students. They want to encourage Saudi filmmakers because they’re opening cinemas in Saudi. 

    I saw the email late. I had two days to come up with my 1-minute video. I’ve never done a film before, but I knew I could write. So I wrote a script really fast and I did a very little video. I must have done something right, because she contacted me and told me I was one of the two students that got the scholarship. I was really, really happy. I cried hysterically.

    So I came here. It’s been a crazy four weeks. It’s just so amazing, the collaboration that you have with people… people that were strangers to me on Day One are like really close friends. There’s nothing like it, really. It’s everything I thought it would be, and even more.

    NYFA: Why did you choose the city of Los Angeles?

    LA: I think there’s no place better to learn filmmaking than in Los Angeles because it’s the hub of worldwide, excellent movies. It’s where the Hollywood industry is. Universal, Warner Brothers… all of these places, they’re all here. So there’s no place better to learn filmmaking.Lujein Ashi

    NYFA: What did you learn about filmmaking?

    LA: It’s all about story, that’s for sure. If your story is weak, then it doesn’t matter what you’re going to do. It’s not going to be something that touches people. Also technically the camera is your eye. You need to be one with the camera. You have to look through it, and if you don’t like what you see then you’re not going to like your movie. 

    I mean, it’s not like people can imagine what you meant, you know? So you have to be aware of the technical stuff. Which [at first] was very hard for me, because I’ve never touched a camera before, but Charlie did a really good job teaching us.

    NYFA: Is this something you want to continue doing? What’s your plan after this?

    LA: I found my heart here. I really did. It’s an amazing thing to find. People live their whole lives trying to find that thing they love. I think that’s the key to a happy life. I really feel like I found it here. I’m really going to try and do my master’s in this. Hopefully, then I could just do this for as long as I can. 

    NYFA: Do you see opportunities opening up in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain? 

    LA: Yes, for sure! Especially with the opening of cinemas, the government has been opening different entertainment entities trying to open things up to the people. I think there’s definitely going to be a demand for that. It’s going to be an exciting time for Saudi.

    NYFA: As Saudi opens up, is there a place there for you? Do you see yourself working there?

    Lujein AshiLA: I don’t know. I mean, sure, if there’s a place for me in Saudi to make great movies. I would love to. I mean, it’s my country. But to me, my geographic location was never something that was important. I’m very multicultural. My father is from Saudi, my mom’s from Lebanon, I lived in Baghdad, and I’m married to a Palestinian. I come from very different places, so I never felt like I belonged somewhere. Sometimes it’s a disadvantage, but sometimes it’s an advantage. Wherever you are, you feel like you can just connect with people because you’re from everywhere, basically. 

    So yeah, I mean, I could be — for example— in LA or in New York or anywhere with like-minded people, trying to do the same thing, just doing what we love; ultimately making somebody feel something. That’s why we go to the movies, right? Because we want to feel something! I could make somebody feel like Lord Of The Rings made me feel or Game of Thrones or any of these shows that have changed me so profoundly. It just amazes me how somebody could get that feeling out of you. It’s so satisfying. 

    NYFA: You mentioned two high-fantasy titles — is that kind of your thing?

    LA: I love fantasy, yeah. I mean, I love getting out of the real boring world and leaping into somebody’s imagination. That’s something out of this world! 

    NYFA: Why do you think stories are important?Lujein Ashi

    LA: I think they make people feel empathy for one another and understand each other on a level that maybe we don’t. In real life, there are a lot of issues that, when a film sheds light on them, could actually bring people closer together. You know, I think arts and filmmaking have the capacity to change people’s lives, to change societies and to open people up.

    Truthfully, it’s fundamental for our growth. It’s fundamental for us to connect and to see the point-of-view of other people. If I saw it from your perspective, which is what film lets you do, maybe I’ll be able to connect with you and understand you.

    The New York Film Academy wishes Lujein Ashi the best of success with her future endeavors, and hopes to see more of her amazing and beautiful stories in the near future!

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    December 5, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1466

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Gonzalo Martin Stars in “Life is Strange 2”

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailgonzalo martinNew York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Gonzalo Martin might agree that “life is strange,” especially since he nabbed the lead role in Square Enix’s highly-anticipated video game, Life is Strange 2. Square Enix is the Japanese developer and publisher of wildly popular games Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest, among others. 

    The episodic graphic adventure video game, available on nearly all major platforms (including Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and macOS), is the sequel to the smash hit and critically-acclaimed Life is Strange, originally released in 2015. That title has sold over 3 million copies to date.

    The newest entry released its first episode in September 2018, with the last of five episodes set to come out in 2019. Life is Strange 2 was developed by Dontnod Entertainment (Vampyr, Twin Mirror) and has already been nominated for several gaming awards and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Ping Awards.

    Life is Strange 2 tells the story of young brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz, who are on the run from the police. The game is a third-person story adventure, with dialogue trees and gaming decisions
    affecting the story and future episodes.

    Gonzalo Martin stars as lead protagonist Sean Diaz, who the player controls throughout the game. Martin is an Acting for Film alum from the New York Film Academy, having attended the AFA program in 2015, and has previously been a part of the Academy’s admissions team. At NYFA’s acting school, Martin was given both practical experience and a hands-on education to develop his skills as an actor, with training from a faculty of experienced actors currently working in the industry.

    Previous acting roles of Martin include BuzzFeed Murder Mystery Stories, and the films I’ll Be Next Door for Christmas and When It Rings.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Gonzalo Martin on landing the lead role in Square Enix’s Life is Strange 2! Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    November 28, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2435