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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Online Acting for Film Alum Stars in Netflix Original Series ‘Sacred Games’

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    With New York Film Academy (NYFA) beginning to expand its offerings and conducting specialized workshops online, actors like Online Acting for Film alum, Elnaaz Norouzi, can take classes to polish their craft from renowned industry professionals anywhere in the world. Elnaaz Norouzi, who recently studied in a 4-Week Acting for Film Workshop, also stars in the Netflix original series Sacred Games.

    Norouzi was born in Tehran, Iran, and later moved to Germany, where she also learned English, German, and French in addition to her native language of Farsi. When she moved to India years later, Norouzi also learned Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi, allowing her to speak a grand total of seven languages.

    NYFA alum Elnaaz Norouzi as Zoya in ‘Sacred

    Just like learning languages opens the doors to understanding different cultures and behaviors, so does becoming an actor. “I always found it super fascinating to learn and to know what other people feel or what makes them do things the way they do them,” says Norouzi. “I feel it takes a lot for an actor to be able to put themselves in the shoes of another.”

    In addition to acting, Norouzi has also been working as an international model for over ten years with brands like Dior, Lacoste, and Le Coq Sportif, to name a few, but it is acting that Norouzi is most passionate about.

    When she began her acting career in India, Norouzi remembers taking a lot of classes in Mumbai, but it was always her dream to go to New York Film Academy. With Norouzi’s normally packed schedule winding down due to the global pandemic, she realized it was time to make that dream a reality and enrolled in NYFA’s Online Acting for Film Workshop. “I learned so much about what I’ve never done before with my scripts. My next script will be full of left-hand side notes.”

    Photo Courtesy of Elnaaz Norouzi

    While many remember their first experience in the film industry, Norouzi remembers several. Her first acting roles for films, Maan Jao Naa and Khido Khundi, were part of two separate film industries, the Pakistani (“Lollywood”) and Punjabi (“Pollywood) industries, respectively. “It’s amazing to be able to explore different film industries. Each of them work so differently,” she says. “Both of those films were only my first two films and I got to learn so much while doing them.”

    After her film acting debut, Norouzi quickly found herself involved in Netflix’s first original series in India called Sacred Games, based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel of the same name. “I remember being one of the last girls to audition for Zoya and Jameela’s role. After I got the role, I discovered they were auditioning girls for over three months for my part and weren’t able to find anyone suitable. By the time I was cast, the shooting for the first season had already started.”

    NYFA alum Elnaaz Norouzi in Netflix poster for ‘Sacred Games’

    “I felt very proud bagging the role, but back then I didn’t expect much because I didn’t know much about Netflix, and no one in India had Netflix yet.” After the series was released, the show became such a success that people began subscribing to Netflix just to watch Sacred Games. “People started recognizing me and calling me Zoya [Norouzi’s character] and I realized how big the show had actually become.”

    The show currently has two seasons available on Netflix and it is likely it will be renewed for a third season. “It may take some time since the original book covered only the first two seasons, so our fabulous writers must write something new for us now.

    Aside from another season of Sacred Games, Norouzi shares she has two films coming up, including a Bollywood film that was delayed in its release due to COVID-19 and a South Indian action film in Tamil. “Lots of people have asked me if Tamil is going to be my eighth language, but that will surely not happen. It was hard enough to learn it for the film, I don’t think I can learn the entire language,” she jokes.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress and NYFA alum Elnaaz Norouzi for taking the time to share her experience in the global film industry and looks forward to seeing Elnaaz in her upcoming projects. Sacred Games (Seasons 1 & 2) are currently streaming now on Netflix.

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    June 29, 2020 • Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 345

  • 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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  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum, Mollie Moore, on Her Journey as a Documentary Filmmaker and the Importance of Storytelling

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking alum Mollie Moore is a filmmaker and cinematographer from South London, who is currently based in London and New York City. She has worked for renowned production companies such as the BBC, PBS, ITVS, Human Love LTD and DNA Films on various projects. Her films have gone on to be screened at festivals all over the world, with her work taking her to multiple continents. With her background in cinematography, Moore’s work pushes the limits of visual poetry through non-fiction storytelling, while also weaving in important themes that highlight the LGBTQ community and forced migration.

    From a young age, Moore was always involved with the theatre world and, when it was time to go to college, she travelled instead to South East Asia, India, South America and many other places while working as a crew member on fictional film sets. “I realized the vast possibilities of storytelling and the importance of capturing the beauty of the world we live in and the stories within it,” shares Moore. “Documentary felt like a natural marriage with my background in theatre, storytelling and my passion for exploration and the people I met along the way.”

    This realization brought Moore to New York, where she studied in NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory Program for Documentary Filmmaking. “It was a course that I could give all of my attention to, whilst getting maximum in-person time to learn in a creative and hands-on way,” she explains. 

    Film Poster for ‘A Word Away’ (Dir. Mollie Moore)

    Her thesis film, A Word Away, premiered at the Camden International Film Festival. A Word Away centers around a young man named Cosmo, who is from South Sudan and now resides in the U.S, who share his journey of migration through the medium of poetry. For Moore, it was important for her to find “a new way of telling a story of migration, through a more intimate and personal lens.” At the film’s premier, Moore recalls that having Cosmo and his family present was a very important moment for her as it was their stories being told and seen. “Documentary filmmaking should always be seen a collaborative process between the filmmaker and the people sharing their stories.”

    After graduating NYFA, Moore also worked on festival favorite Paper Thin, a documentary about a young transgender womxn starting a new life in New York City after having to flee the persecution of LGBTQ+ persons in Russia. Not long after, Moore worked as the cinematographer for the short film, Mama, a personal story between a mother and daughter (dir. NYFA alum Lucia Florez), who look into their past to try and reconcile their relationship after years of difficult conversations and opinions about sexuality.

    Mollie shooting in Peru on set of the film ‘Mama’ (Dir. Lucia Florez)

    These films, and others with similar themes, are ones that Moore says she holds “very close to my heart and with a lot of passion.” While Moore identifies with these topics on a personal level, as a filmmaker, she explains that these stories are crucial to share. “I think shedding light on topics and communities that have often been massively misconstrued and discriminated against through violent acts of oppression and injustice is of huge importance.” For those that have a platform to shed light on subjects and real world issues in an objective, honest way, it can be a privilege. Moore says, “we must share it [the stories of others] and give voices to those whose realities have often been silenced throughout history.”

    Moore is currently working as a filmmaker on the artist Marc Quinn’s public art project, Our Blood; a multi media public artwork that focuses on the refugee crisis all over the world. The art piece will premiere outside of the New York Public Library in 2021, but for now, Moore and others involved on the project are continuing their filming in London and New York City. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) would like to thank NYFA Documentary alum Mollie Moore for sharing more about her work as a documentary filmmaker and encourages everyone to check out her work and keep an eye out for the Our Blood project, once it has been unveiled in 2021.

    To keep up with Mollie Moore, check out her website here or follow her on Instagram.

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    June 17, 2020 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 421

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum John Saponara Starts Portrait Series While Working to Make PPE Equipment for Healthcare Workers

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    From businesses to hospitals to schools to families, COVID-19 has forced people into a season of great change and uncertainty, causing people to adapt to new circumstances in the age of social distancing. For many, this has been a cause for reflection and doing their part to stay alert and distance themselves in public. For others, like NYFA Documentary alum John Saponara, this has been a time of giving back to the community and utilizing creativity to bring awareness and hope to others. 

    John Saponara grew up in Yonkers, New York, a suburb just outside of New York City and recalls, “from as young as I can remember I wanted to be a photographer.” His photos have since appeared on book covers both nationally and internationally, including the New York Times bestseller Eat Pray Love. He also founded the crowd-sourced project, Picture Black Friday, and his commercial clients include: Sony, Intel, HP, Oprah, and New York Magazine, just to name a few.

    A volunteer packing face shields in Bednark Studio (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Saponara has been working at Bednark Studio and volunteering his time with other organizations, while also documenting workers and volunteers who continue to make the community safer by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional supplies for individuals and families in the age of COVID-19. 

    Bednark Studio, a full service fabrication company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has been Saponara’s source of inspiration for documenting what is happening behind the scenes. “It’s there [Bednark Studio] that my portrait project formed,” he says. The portrait series follows the workers and volunteers who are working day and night to create PPE like face shields for medical workers or dividers for Uber/Lyft drivers.

    Portrait of a volunteer in Bednark Studio (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    “In the portraits, I’m there as a worker, so I do them when I can in my breaks or in a spare moment,” says Saponara. “In both cases, I don’t want to interfere; just be the proverbial fly on the wall.” The photographs are symbols of those who are working behind the scenes in NYC and all over the world, who are actively volunteering their time or working additional hours to provide PPE equipment or additional, essential supplies for others.

    Masks for Docs volunteer headed to deliver PPE (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Another group Saponara has been volunteering with has been Masks for Docs, formed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “They connect PPE with doctors and medical staff that need it,”  he explains. “Motorcyclists help get where it [the supplies] needs to go.” The grassroots organization is composed of volunteers from the tech, business, arts, and members of non-profit communities, who have banded together to make a difference for healthcare workers not only in New York City, but all over the world.

    A volunteer for Brooklyn Mutual Aid buying supplies (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Saponara also mentions Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, who help “get food on the table of the neediest families in Brooklyn.” In just one weekend alone, Saponara mentions that he and other volunteers were able to feed 200 people in need. “We collect donations of food and money and use those collections to buy groceries that we then deliver to families.”

    Saponara says the groups that he has been able to work with and document are “a combination of the private sectors innovation and the power of people and community to get things done to bring about change effectively and efficiently.”

    New York FIlm Academy thanks alum John Saponara for his service to the community and for sharing his portrait series, and encourages anyone who is interested in learning more about each organization to click the links above for more information on how to get involved.

    To view more images from Saponara’s portrait series and his other works, click here.

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    May 29, 2020 • Alumni Events, Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 920

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) AFA Acting for Film Alum Hayden Szeto Featured Netflix Original Film ‘Tigertail’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) AFA Acting for Film alum Hayden Szeto recently appeared in a supporting role in the Netflix original film Tigertail. The NYFA alum, also known for his roles in coming of age drama The Edge of Seventeen, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, and NBC’s hit comedy television series The Good Place, plays the supporting role of Eric in the Netflix film.

    Film poster for Netflix’s ‘Tigertail’

    The film is an authentic drama loosely based on the experiences of director, writer, and producer of the film, Alan Yang. Yang, well known as a writer and director for hit shows like Parks and Recreation and Master of None, wrote Tigertail as a personal tribute to his upbringing by his immigrant parents.

    The story follows the boyhood, young adult, and adult stages of Pin-Jui, who comes from a poor upbringing in Huwei (“tiger tail”), Taiwan. When Pin-Jui, who longs to go to America to provide a better life for his mother, is offered an opportunity to start a new life there, he takes it; even if it means marrying his boss’ daughter in a loveless marriage. The story then follows Pin-Jui and Zhenzhen’s [his now wife] in their new life in America. They raise their daughter Angela in their new home and, eventually, the film’s story flashes forward to Angela’s adulthood as she navigates her relationship with her estranged father and her boyfriend Eric, played by Szeto.

    Szeto on set filming ‘Tigertail’ for Netflix

    Tigertail loosely follows Yang’s own father’s life when he immigrated from Taiwan to New York in order to chase the “American Dream.” The film was released by Netflix on April 10, 2020, and has since received positive responses from many critics, who note the heartfelt and emotional subject matter of the film and its characters.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Hayden Szeto on his role in the Netflix drama and encourages everyone to check out Tigertail, now streaming on Netflix!

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    May 13, 2020 • Acting, Alumni Events • Views: 584

  • NYFA’s Graphic Design School Alumni Updates – Where Are They Now?

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    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Graphic Design School has always been committed to developing the next generation of well-trained and successful designers. These students are prepared for an industry that has grown exponentially since the turn of the century, with more opportunities than ever before for skilled graphic designers to find professional work while also expressing themselves in an artistic, creative fashion.

    Some of NYFA’s very own 1-Year Conservatory Graphic Design alumni have spent the past year since their graduation, continuing to learn and improve upon their skill sets as they each continue to build their impressive portfolios as professional designers.

    Carl Dempsey is currently interning at  Big Star Studio, a digital design firm in New York City that focuses on ground-breaking design and production. Big Star is well known for their creative sequences for Westworld, Game of Thrones and the documentary Free Solo. While Dempsey studied at the Academy, he focused on motion Graphics. To view his full graduation portfolio, click here.

    Carl Dempsey during his Graphic design showcase at NYFA


    Cheryl Lin
     is now a Senior Designer at MTG, a design firm in New York City that provides custom high-level design solutions based on years of experience, creativity, knowledge and understanding of the current competitive climate. During her time at NYFA, Lin explored her passion for print, interactive and motion design. To view her graduation portfolio, click here.

    NYFA Alumni Cheryl Lin’s self portrait design (Courtesy of Cheryl Lin)

    Jose Taira is currently a Designer at FLUZ App, an app that aims to disrupt the global retail shopping experience through various consumer touch points. During his time at NYFA, Taira’s  focus was print, interactive and motion design. To view his graduating portfolio, click here.

    Jose Taira at NYFA’s Graphic Design showcase

    Click here to learn more about NYFA’s Graphic Design School and check out more from our alumni on our Graphic Design Showcase Page.

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    April 23, 2020 • Graphic Design • Views: 616

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

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

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

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    Michael Johnson receiving the Elan Vega Award with senior NYFA faculty

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

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

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism – March 2020 Update

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    Without a doubt, the spread of the COVID-19 virus is at the top of TV newscasts around the world. That’s not surprising. That said, it is “business as usual” for the Broadcast Journalism department. And even if we can’t meet in Manhattan, my office in cyberspace is functioning just fine.

    The Broadcasting Department connecting online

    Something else that has been transformed is the U.S. Presidential race. Big campaign rallies have been cancelled, until further note. But, before they were, NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Celina Liv Danielsen was traveling throughout the United States for Denmark’s TV2, and was able to capture when President Donald Trump arrived in New Hampshire.

    NYFA Alum Celina Liv Danielsen captures Donald Trump at his campaign rally in New Hampshire.

    As voters were getting ready for Super Tuesday and the selection of Democratic convention delegates in 11 different states, NYFA alum Karen Hua covered a Bernie Sanders rally in California for the NBC affiliate station in Bakersfield; note that she covered this event solo and posted on social media. TV news reporters are now expected to do so, as such
    postings are essential to building and maintaining audiences.

     

    Meanwhile, Brazilian Broadcast Journalism graduate Livia Fernanda had a far more pleasant assignment. She got to cover Carnival in Saō Paulo… but everything ended at midnight with the arrival of Ash Wednesday.

    NYFA Alum Livia Fernanda covers Carnival in Brazil

    Former NYFA student Suzane de Oliveira works for the French news agency AFP in Rio de Janeiro. An important part of her job is taking international AFP stories and repackaging them for the Brazilian TV market. Certainly one of the most moving stories I have seen in a long time was about a father in Syria, who found the best way to keep his young daughter calm as their town was under artillery and aerial bombardment was to make her laugh. Every time an explosion took place nearby, the two would burst into exuberant laughter.

    Of course, some of our Brazilian grads (like some of our Danish grads) find their way back to New York City. Mariana Janjacomo was reporting from in front of the New York Stock Exchange recently, explaining the confusing economic news. She works for Jovem Pan, the main Brazilian radio station based in São Paulo. It is also the largest network of radio stations in the southern hemisphere and Latin America. Like other legacy media companies, they’ve branched out into online video news.

    Thanks to all of you that passed along information about the NYFA Moscow Journalism Summer School (JSS). We received more than three times as many applications and queries as we have available openings. Successful candidates will be notified later this month.
    Finally, if the Cannes Film Festival takes place this May (and right now, that is a big “if”) my independent feature film Invisible Love will be part of the Marche du Film. I must admit I was seriously surprised when I received a copy of the latest poster for the film, and discovered I got top billing! If anybody’s names should be up there, it ought to be Vietnamese actress Hoàng Phượng and NYFA Acting for Film alum Kazy Tauginas. They portray the two characters seen walking on a beach, near Da Nang in Viet Nam, in the poster.

    Poster for ‘Invisible Love’

    Stay tuned for more.
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    March 19, 2020 • Broadcast Journalism • Views: 1031

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

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

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

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

    six windows in the desert

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

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

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

    six windows in the desert

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

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

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    March 17, 2020 • Film School, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 853