New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy About Us



Dan Mackler Dan Mackler
Chief Strategy Officer/Senior Vice President/Dean of NYFA Los Angeles

MFA, NYU Tisch School of the Arts; BA, Dartmouth College. Russian film scholar. Consulted on Spike Lee’s 25th Hour. Director of feature film The Karaoke King.

Sonny Calderon Sonny Calderon
Vice President of Academic Affairs

MFA in Screen and Television Writing, USC. BA in Communications, University of Michigan. As co-founder, writer, and producer at Impressionista Films, created and produced award-winning branded entertainment for clients such as Hilary Duff, Miller Beer, DKNY, Ford Motor Company, Macy’s, DirecTV, and Martha Stewart.

Nunzio DeFilippis Nunzio DeFilippis
Dean of Faculty; Chair of Screenwriting

Nunzio DeFilippis has worked in television, film, comic books and videogames for the last two decades. He received his MFA in Screenwriting from USC, and had his thesis screenplay optioned by Hollywood Pictures. Soon afterwards, he began writing with his writing partner and now wife, Christina Weir (also NYFA faculty).

Together, DeFilippis & Weir have written for the HBO series ARLISS and the Disney Channel series KIM POSSIBLE. They have developed an animated series at Disney, a TV movie at Oxygen, feature films at Process Media and Humble Journey Films, and a video game at Sony. Their work in comic books has included runs on NEW X-MEN, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, and BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL. Their creator-owned comics include THE AMY DEVLIN MYSTERIES (in development as a TV series at E!) and FRENEMY OF THE STATE (co-written with Rashida Jones, optioned as a feature film by Imagine Entertainment/Universal Pictures). They are currently working on a novel and a television pilot.

DeFilippis joined the faculty of NYFA Los Angeles in 2009. He helped introduce Transmedia and Sequential Art to the school and became Director of Curriculum Development for the Screenwriting Department in 2013 before becoming chair in 2014.

Susan Ashe Susan Ashe
Dean of Students

Susan Ashe comes to NYFA from Cal Poly Pomona, where she served for 12 years. After completing her Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Indiana University, Ashe became the associate director of recreation, programs and marketing at Cal Poly Pomona in 2005.

In 2010, Susan took on the role of Cal Poly’s director of student conduct and integrity. While there, she earned her doctorate from the University of Southern California in 2012. In 2014, she was presented with the Vice President’s Leadership Award for her dedicated service to the students and the division.

Prior to her career in higher education, Ashe held positions in the film and entertainment industry. As NYFA’s Dean of Students, Ashe will have the opportunity to merge many of her interests and talents in both supporting student success and educating students through visual storytelling.

Mike Civille Mike Civille
Dean of Academic Advising

PhD American Studies (Boston University); MFA Film Studies (Boston University) As a film scholar, Mike has presented papers on Hollywood cinema and popular culture at the Society of Cinema and Media Studies, the Popular/American Culture Association, the California American Studies Association, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), and the Baseball Hall of Fame. As a film director, his short "After June" (2006) played at several nationwide film festivals including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Palm Spring International Festival of Short Films.

Mary Samuelson Dr. Mary Samuelson
Dean of General Education; Chair of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Dr. Mary Samuelson received her Ph.D. and MA degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and completed her undergraduate work in Cinema-Television and English Literature at the University of Southern California (USC). For the past four years, Mary has taught courses and advised students in the Cinema and Media Studies and Writing Programs departments at UCLA, the Cinema-Television department at Los Angeles Community College (LACC), and here at the New York Film Academy (NYFA). Her essays "Radical Moment: The National Recovery Administration and Hollywood's 'New Deal'" and “Wartime News Flow: Government and Studio Newsreels, 1941-1945” will come out in collections focusing on film and the law (September 2016) and the U.S. newsfilm (June 2016), respectively. Mary’s dissertation “The Patriotic Play: Roosevelt, Antitrust, and the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry” is slated for book publication in Spring 2017.

Barbara Weintraub Barbara Weintraub
Director of Industry Outreach and Professional Development

Barbara Weintraub is a leading Hollywood entertainment career counselor with a history of hands-on experience, working with many of the industry’s most acclaimed producers and directors.

Barbara’s first job was an actress on Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, which convinced her she wanted to work “on the other side of the camera." She honed her production skills working with legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer on Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun before joining the senior management team responsible for launching E! Entertainment Television, the first all-entertainment reporting cable channel.

Barbara started her own production company, producing television shows including an NBC comedy special with Kelsey Grammer, Jason Bateman and Tony Shaloub. She is also Vice President and Board Member of GreenLight Women.

Art Helterbran Art Helterbran
Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

MFA in Film Directing, California Institute of the Arts; BA in Radio/TV/Film, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Art Helterbran, Jr. joined NYFA in 2011 as a directing instructor and subsequently served as Chair of the Filmmaking Department. Prior to becoming Director of CETL, Art played a vital role in the Academy overseas, most notably as the Academic Dean of NYFA Australia.

Also a freelance writer, producer, and director, Art has produced commercials that have aired throughout Southern California. His short films have screened around the country in Oscar-qualifying festivals such as the Rhode Island International Film Festival, the Nashville Film Festival, and the Palm Springs International ShortFest.

Veronika Kurshinskaya Veronika Kurshinskaya
Community Outreach Manager

Veronika Kurshinskaya is a writer, producer, and actress. She has a BFA in Political Science from Yaroslavl State University and MFA in Acting from NYFA Los Angeles. Veronika believes that through art we can inspire future generations to make the world a better place. Veronika’s passion is creating, organizing, and supporting outreach programs that help to reveal the beauty of storytelling to underserved kids.

Peter Bloland Peter Bloland

Dr. Bloland served for 30 years with the U.S. Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He held a variety of scientific and leadership positions at CDC in the areas of malaria research and control, emerging infectious diseases, global public health systems strengthening and capacity development, and vaccine-preventable diseases. He has participated on US public health response teams in a variety of domestic and global emergencies, including refugee crises (Zaire, 1994) and urgent refugee relocations (Eritrea, Burundi, Liberia, Cambodia), SARS-CoV-1 (Taiwan, 2003), Rift Valley fever outbreaks (Kenya and Tanzania, 2007), Haiti earthquake (2010), and global polio eradication (2013-2019). He has published over 100 scientific articles. Dr. Bloland received bachelor’s degrees in Psychobiology (University of California Riverside) and Veterinary Science (University of California Davis), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (University of California Davis), Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, (University of California Davis), and is an alumnus of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (CDC’s “disease detective” training program). .

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