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  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Instructor Terah Jackson

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    Washington, DC is about as far away culturally from Hollywood as one can get in this country. However, for New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting and Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) instructor Terah Jackson, his hometown (DC, not Hollywood) provides a wealth of experience to draw upon. Terah Jackson

    Jackson doesn’t just write politically-minded movies, but also mixes genres such as science fiction to—as he says—“add some Hollywood flair.” A director and writer of both stage and screen, Jackson has trained at Lincoln Center and worked off-Broadway. He’s also won awards and garnered attention from the WGAW, Nicholls, Film Independent, and Sundance.

    Currently, Jackson teaches NYFA classes such as Playwriting and Great Playwrights as well as courses like Genre Studies and Writing the Feature Film. He took some time from his busy schedule to discuss Washington, DC, his career, and his civic responsibility as an artist—based on his ties to the civil rights movement. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): How did you discover theatre?

    Terah Jackson (TJ): You mean outside of holiday kindergarten pageants, where I was an outstanding Tree #3? 

    I’d say it began with my mother. She’s a master storyteller and as a child I’d follow her around to different storytelling gigs like Three Stories Tall, the first show on NBC4’s 1980s Saturday Morning lineup. She would ask me how she did, and I would give her my notes on her performance and story structure. In time she grew to appreciate it—I think! Those experiences shaped who I am as an artist and storyteller today.

    NYFA: How did your experiences in Washington, DC influence your writing? Do politics—local or national—inform the themes and issues you explore? 

    TJ: Growing up in Washington, DC was, for me, a tale of two cities. There’s Washington—the stuff of The West Wing—then there’s DC, which at times resembles The Wire (which is set in Baltimore). While my neighborhood had its own international gangs, I took the E2 bus line to schools that daughters of diplomats might attend. It was a good life, but confusing crisscrossing cultural and class divides. My sci-fi thrillers, political period pieces, and comedies speak to these experiences. 

    But if you mean more directly “does working in the Pentagon and youth detention centers show up on the page?” Yes, absolutely. To me, working in Hollywood is like DC, but with flair. Take what I did in the DC government, working on adult education and special needs services, dress it up with a little flair like invading aliens posing as lobbyists, and there you g—that’s my sci-fi thriller, Primrose. The customs are different, but the work, the negotiations, and the characters are strikingly similar. There has to be a demand to make a deal. 

    NYFA: Your parents were in the civil rights movement. Can you talk about that—and how that also influenced and shaped you?

    Terah Jackson Rustin

    Civil Rights Activist Bayard Rustin

    TJ: Yes, both my parents were civil rights activists at Howard University and in the city at-large. As the child of civil rights activists, it’s important to me that my work carries forward the spirit of what they fought for—even if it is sci-fi or comedic—that it carries a sense of human dignity. Their work is unfinished. The struggle continues. 

    As an artist I have a civic responsibility to amplify or envision the kind of future we all deserve. It’s an important role to reflect and shape culture as well as one’s sense of self within society. We don’t often discuss it, but Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Sammy Davis Jr., Lorraine Hansberry, and Marlon Brando in their own ways and to varying degrees were influential to making events like the March on Washington what they were. When you look at their artwork they often speak to human dignity and the betterment of society.

    NYFA: Any projects of yours you’d like to highlight?

    Rustin, a feature, probably is the project that honors my parents and their generation the most. It started at AFI as my thesis and was developed further at Film Independent and with support from the WGAW. It’s about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s strategic advisor Bayard Rustin, who is pushed out of the civil rights movement because he’s gay. But when he returns, he organizes the March on Washington of 1963. It honors the work of Bayard and the civil rights movement and hopefully reminds us to keep on working for a truly inclusive and equitable society. 

    NYFA: What are you currently working on?

    TJ: Quite a few projects, but today it’s all about Displaced, a sci-fi pilot, about a lowly janitor who finds he’s receiving pranks calls from inside his bedroom wall from a phone on his own dead body—or at least someone who looks identical to him. Without giving too much away it’s a bit of a doppelganger thriller that I’ve been developing over the past year or so alongside a few other concepts for TV that I can’t talk about yet. Displaced definitely draws on my experience growing up asking those “What if” questions. 

    NYFA: What are your favorite classes to teach at NYFA and why?Terah Jackson

    TJ: My favorite class to teach at NYFA are the ones when a good mix of students from across the world—from various ages, ethnicities, classes, and those with military experience and those without—are all in the same room together investigating a deep tenet of writing or film that reflects what we are up to in life. In that moment we all learn from each other. It’s dynamic, electric, and enriches everyone.

    NYFA: What advice do you have for students looking to get into playwriting?

    Take risks that you wouldn’t in film and television. Read and see lots of plays. Act in plays. Seek to understand the mechanics of how they are structured. And write, write, write. Develop your writing routine. Connect with other playwrights. Go outside and listen to people and how they speak. Jot down moments of striking human interaction. Piece them together. Theatre often calls for you to dig deep into yourself. So take care of your relationships, spirit, and your health as you do all this. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

    New York Film Academy thanks Screenwriting and LAS instructor Terah Jackson for taking the time to speak with us and wishes him the best in all his creative endeavors.

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    June 26, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 65

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) AFA Filmmaking Student Nicolas Varela Interviewed by VoyageLA

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    Los Angeles culture publication VoyageLA recently interviewed busy filmmaker and New York Film Academy (NYFA) AFA Filmmaking student Nicolas Varela, speaking with him about his work, his struggles, and the friends and support system that keeps him going.

    Varela was originally a stage actor in his home country of Chile, before moving to Los Angeles to study Filmmaking at our Burbank-based campus. He enrolled in the AFA Filmmaking program at NYFA in Fall 2017 to earn his degree.Nicolas Varela Nico Varela

    Students at NYFA hit the ground running, working on their first films very early in the semester.  One of the shorts he made in his first two months at NYFA, Aphrodite, quickly started gaining buzz and screenings at multiple film festivals. These included appearances at Outfest Fusion, Newport Beach Film Festival, and the prestigious Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival.

    “Film festivals have been huge in pushing me forward into the industry,” Varela told VoyageLA. “I have met professionals, friends, mentors or just people simply interested in my art and there to help me out.”

    He added, “Ever since my first festival, I feel like my confidence has grown, as that Chilean outsider, becoming more and more accepted and involved in the industry here across the ocean.”

    Varela was quick to name many of the people who provide him support and help him along his way as he continues to develop his talents as a filmmaker. Varela pointed out NYFA instructor Robert Taylor and NYFA Director, Film Festivals Crickett Rumley as two important members of this network of support.

    New York Film Academy congratulates AFA Filmmaking student Nicolas Varela on the buzz surrounding him and his film Aphrodite! 

     

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    June 25, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 78

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking & Cinematography Alum Jean de Meuron’s Short ‘Megan’ Wins at the 2019 Telly Awards

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    Megan Jean de MeuronNew York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking and Cinematography alum Jean de Meuron can add another award to his mantle—his short film Megan was a Silver Winner at the 40th Annual Telly Awards.

    de Meuron hails from Switzerland and first enrolled at NYFA in 2009, taking several workshops, including in Filmmaking, before following his short-term studies with NYFA’s 1-year Conservatory in Cinematography. Since then, he’s been hard at work making award-winning projects. In 2017, he executive-produced the short film La femme et le TGV, which earned an Academy Award nomination. 

    Megan, a short film that also serves as a proof of concept for a feature science fiction epic in the vein of J.J. Abrams’s popular Cloverfield series, was a Silver Winner in the General – Online category. The proof of concept features breathtaking action bolstered by perfectly executed special effects, including a harrowing helicopter crash and the appearance of a colossal, ominous spaceship.

    The short was directed by Greg Strasz and produced by de Meuron, along with Giuseppe Mercadante and Olcun Tan. Megan previously won four awards at the 2018 Pitch to Screen Film Awards: Best Proof of Concept, Best Director, Best Cinematographer, and Best Editor, as well as Best International Sci-Fi Short at the 2018 London International Short Film Festival.

    “I am deeply honored, proud, and humbled that my team and I won a Telly Award,” de Meuron says of Megan’s Silver trophy. “This came as a complete surprise since companies like Disney, Lucasfilm, Netflix, Paramount, Viacom, CBS, DC Entertainment, and so forth were also honored for their work in various categories. We share the Silver Winner Award with CBS in the category 2019 Online: General Viral.”

    The Telly Awards were founded in 1979 to recognize achievements in local, regional, and cable television commercials with non-broadcast video and television programming included shortly after. The Telly Awards have kept up with the times and now embraces media content that can be seen on all screens—from the theater to your smartphone. This also includes awards for VR, television commercials, web series and branded content. This year’s event had a record-breaking amount 12,000 entries, of entries, from from all 50 states and five continents.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) congratulates Filmmaking & Cinematography alum Jean de Meuron on the success of Megan and its Silver Winner Award at the 40th Annual Telly Awards!

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    June 21, 2019 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 138

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking Alum Hani Alqattan Makes Award-Winning Film ‘Amal’

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    Amal, the award-winning film written and directed by BFA Filmmaking Alum Hani Alqattan, has been steadily picking up festival screenings as well winning Best Shorts Competition.Hani Alqattan Amal

    Alqattan always had a general interest in film, which he eventually followed by writing and directing several shorts before enrolling at New York Film Academy. In 2017, he earned his BFA in Filmmaking from NYFA’s Burbank-based campus.

    Since graduating, Alqattan has hosted a filmmaking workshop at WOW Middle East in Dubai and was a guest speaker at the Women Economic Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia—the first of its kind. Additionally, he has served as administrative director at Areen Academy in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

    In 2016, Alqattan began production on Amal, a short film about a young girl whose father dies in a Paris attack and must deal with the repercussions the tragedy takes on her and her mother. 

    Amal Film – Directed by Hani Alqattan from Kartikye Gupta on Vimeo.

    Hani Alqattan AmalIn addition to winning Best Shorts Competition, Amal was a finalist in both the World of Women Film Fair Middle East and Miami Epic Trailer Festival, as well as a semi-finalist in the San Mauro Film Festival. It has also been an Official Selection at numerous other fests, including the Largo Film Awards, Kazan Film Festival, Ouchy Film Awards, Los Angeles CineFest, Fair International Film Festival, Qumara International Film Festival, 2nd Asian International Film Festival, WIND International Film Festivals & World Humanitarian Awards, and Steps International Short Film Festival

    Alqattan is keeping busy as a filmmaker and is currently shooting a proof of concept short for Needle in Thread, as well as working on the feature version of the script.

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA Filmmaking alum Hani Alqattan on the success of Amal and wishes him the best of luck as his career after NYFA continues to steadily move forward!

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  • ‘Debris’ by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Julio O. Ramos In Competition at Palm Springs International Shortfest

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    Debris, the award-winning short film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Julio O. Ramos, is screening in competition at this year’s Palm Springs International Shortfest. Ramos is an acting instructor at NYFA-Los Angeles’s Burbank-based campus.Julio O. Ramos

    The film was written by Lucas Micelles from a story by Ramos, who directed the short as well. Debris is a thriller set against the bleak backdrop of human labor trafficking and focuses on Armando (Tenoch Huerta), a hard-working construction foreman who needs to resort to unconventional methods to deal with an accident on his site. After the contractor (Karren Karaguilian) discovers what Armando is up to, Armando is forced to face the consequences of his actions.

    “My intention with Debris is to shed light over this grim world of labor trafficking, focus on the vulnerable lives of illegal construction workers, and break the stereotypical notion that labor trafficking only happens somewhere else,” says Ramos. “We must ask ourselves: Who are the people building the homes of America? Where did they come from? Who hired them? America’s obsession with cheap labor has led to a complicated immigration policy intertwining the everyday American life with the global transgressions of labor trafficking.” 

    Ramos adds, “It happens right here in America and, arguably, we are all responsible.”

    Debris premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and since then has competed in nearly 100 film festivals, picking up awards including Best Narrative Short at the 2018 Sidewalk Film Festival, Special Mention of the Jury at the 2019 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and two Jury Awards for Best Narrative Short Film and Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi.

    Julio O. Ramos

    The film’s latest achievement is screening at the 2019 Palm Springs International Shortfest. The festival, now in its 25th year, takes place across seven days every June, hosting more than 350 short films annually as well as a series of panels, seminars, roundtable discussions, and master classes.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting instructor Julio O. Ramos on the success of Debris and wishes him the best of luck at Palm Springs International Shortfest.

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    June 21, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 158

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Dishani Chakraborty

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Dishani Chakraborty is ready to make her mark on the Bollywood scene. The young actress grew up in India, first in Coimbatore and then Mumbai, before moving to Los Angeles to study acting. Dishani first took the NYFA 4-week Acting for Film workshop before moving on to the 1-year Acting for Film conservatory at our Burbank-based campus.dishani chakraborty

    Since then, Dishani has steadily been increasing her skills as an actress as well as her presence online. When she returns home, she plans to hit the ground running with a career in acting that will follow in the footsteps of her brothers and her father, noted and award-winning Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty (Disco Dancer, Agneepath, Suraksha). Indeed, buzz around her is already growing—she recently appeared in a photo story for Times of India.

    New York Film Academy recently spoke with Dishani Chakraborty about her favorite classes at NYFA, her artistic family, and what influences and inspires her as an actress:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Dishani Chakraborty (DC): I grew up in a small city in the south of India called Coimbatore. I lived there with my three older brothers and parents for about nine years until we moved to Mumbai. 

    Growing up in a household full of artists, I knew when I was really little that I wanted to be an actor. A normal day in my house consisted of my family talking about movies, both Hollywood and Bollywood. My siblings and I would watch at least one movie a day after school. I was so influenced by Western culture because of the number of movies and TV shows I watched and the music I listened to. 

    I knew that I wanted to go abroad to learn the craft of filmmaking and acting once I finished high school. And what better place to learn than Hollywood itself. That’s how New York Film Academy came in the picture. I did a short, 4-week Acting workshop back in 2016 at the Los Angeles campus and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was the best intensive course I had ever taken. I was blessed to have incredible teachers. So I decided to come back and do a 1-year Acting conservatory to gain more knowledge and experience before I started my journey in Bollywood.

    dishani chakrabortyNYFA: What attracted you to learning the craft of acting?

    DC: I think I was lucky because I had the access to learn the craft of acting from a very early age thanks to my father being an actor. I remember going on his film sets and being astonished by every little aspect. But for me, the thing that excites me the most about an actor’s job is that their learning process never ends. As an actor, you really never stop growing or learning. There’s so much you can prepare for, discover and explore. As actors, we’re lucky that we can choose to be versatile by doing one job.

    NYFA: What inspires you as an actor?

    DC: Growing up, I saw a lot of Natalie Portman’s work—I felt very much like her. Because I’m a petite person with a baby face and even though I’m over 18, I’ve looked 15 for quite a long time. Natalie Portman has been a big influence on me as an actor. Watching her versatility from doing something like Léon: The Professional to Star Wars to one of my favorite movies of her, Closer. I hope to get roles with that kind of range, whether I work in Bollywood or Hollywood.

    NYFA: Your family has a great deal of experience in the entertainment industry. How do you differentiate yourself from the work they’ve done?

    DC: I’m a firm believer in there’s no “recipe for success.” Everybody’s journey is completely different. I do feel blessed because I’ve learned a lot of things about “showbiz” from my family and it certainly gives me a boost, but my father has raised my brothers and me to be hard workers, and most of all to work our way to get things.dishani chakraborty

    And I think living in LA and working here has given me a great dose of experience and independence, and I think that will help me a lot when I start working in Bollywood. I want to achieve things through my talent and hard work.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you find yourself using often?

    DC: My favorite class in NYFA was Technique & Scene Study. I can say hands down that my teacher, Mr. Dig Wayne was by far the most excellent teacher I’ve ever had. I was lucky enough to also have him when I did the 4-week program in 2016. When I started NYFA, I was very shy and self-conscious. He taught us the craft of method acting and I think his class helped me overcome so many of my inhibitions. 

    I still remember my first class with him and he made us do an exercise where we closed our eyes and he told us to hear our mothers calling our name. It was the biggest triggering point for me. And he told me to open my eyes and start my scene right then and there with those emotions. I felt so authentic and organic. His method was discovering as much information as possible for your character. Their backstory, their body language, even how you think they’d sound like. I think that’s been such an important take away for character build up.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    DC: Like I mentioned before, as actors, we never really stop learning and growing. Take your time and learn. Take notes! I still to this date go back to my notebook for an audition or a shoot to read notes that I’d made while I was in school. 

    Don’t be afraid to be first in class to go up on stage. Being a shy kid, I always felt like my heart would sink into my stomach every time I thought of going first. But believe me when I say, it’s SUCH a confidence boost when you do. 

    dishani chakrabortyAnd for students starting out, I would recommend creating your own content as well. Write! I know it’s easier said than done and the first draft possibly will be trash and will suck. However, don’t be discouraged—the process of recognizing that will only make you better at it. 

    Lastly, try to be in front of the camera as much as possible. As actors, we’re born to critique ourselves. But the positive side on that is you’ll discover so much about yourself when you watch yourself. And HAVE FUN!! Because these are going to be the best days of your lives.


    New York Film Academy thanks Acting for Film alum Dishani Chakraborty for taking the time to thoughtfully answer our questions and share her experiences with the NYFA Community! 

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    June 19, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 434

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate with an Industry Pitch Fest

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    It was that time of year once more as graduating MFA and BFA New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event.

    The Pitch Fest was held once again at the beautiful penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by astounding views of Los Angeles. The location combined with how well-prepared our Screenwriting students are make this a favorite event of industry professionals.

    Industry Pitch Fest 2019

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting students and offers them an unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their Film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.

    This year’s Pitch Fest was one of our largest events to date, including a record number of industry professionals coming out to celebrate and give invaluable input for the students to take with them as they move into the next stage of their careers.

    The students’ dedication and passionate love for their work shined as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year. Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on, and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the Academy to be their first night as professional screenwriters, this group of talented and creative students’ hard work paid off as they pitched agents, managers, studios, and digital, VR, comic, TV, and film production company execs in a relaxed, roundtable environment.

    Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Adam Finer, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including: Monkeypaw Productions, Juvee Productions, Practical Magic, Verve, We are the Mighty, Boom! Studios, Heroes and Villains, Madison Wells Media, BURR! Productions, De Laurentiis, and Lit Entertainment Group.

    New York Film Academy wishes to thank all of the Pitch Fest participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. We’d also like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA and BFA graduates and wish them the best as they move forward in their professional journeys!

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    June 18, 2019 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 193

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Partners with Raritan High School for the Veterans Portrait Project

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) recently partnered with Raritan High School in Hazlet, New Jersey for the Veterans Portrait Project (VVP), a nonprofit organization and ongoing photography project that honors the women and men who have served their country in the armed forces.

    NYFA Photography instructor John Tona guided digital photography students at the high school as they captured portraits of over a dozen veterans from across New Jersey, as well as any of the students’ family members from across the US who have served.

    Veterans Portrait Project VPP Raritan HS
    On set was Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor Recipient and Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program, who greeted the student photographers and veteran subjects, as well as joining them for a portrait. Each veteran participated in an individual portrait session.

    Additionally, the participating veterans and Colonel Jacobs were interviewed by AP Language students who used the statements to compose a tribute to commemorate their service. Both the portraits and written tributes were showcased in a dedicated exhibit at the school on Memorial Day. 

    “There are few Americans with experiences as diverse, startling, and life-altering as our military veterans,” said Jacobs. “The Veterans Portrait Project brings these experiences into emotionally-laden view, and in the process, the Project captures the creative skill of those who have served us. The New York Film Academy is proud to be a part of this spectacular effort.” 

    “It was an amazing experience,” remarked Tona, who worked closely with the students and their veteran subjects. “It’s always great to work with young students, eager to learn photography. What I think made this even more special was our subjects. Meeting with and hearing some of the stories from the veterans and their families from all major conflicts going back to World War II was a unique experience—not only did the students of Raritan High School receive photography lessons, but it was a lesson in our nation’s history as well. I am glad I could be a part of it.”

    Also in attendance during the event were Hazlet Mayor Scott Aagre, Raritan High School Principal Dr. Andrew Piotrowski, and Monmouth County Freeholder Sue Kiley.

    The Veterans Portrait Project was launched by Stacy Pearsall, a decorated combat photographer who has completed three tours in Iraq and photographed approximately 6,000 US veterans. The project provides photography students with an opportunity to advance their studio lighting and portrait photography skills, while also giving them the chance to thank America’s heroes through their art.

    “The Raritan High School Veterans Portrait Project’s purpose is to provide students the opportunity and privilege of interacting with local military veterans while advancing their interviewing, writing, and portrait photography skills,” declared Teresa Gennarelli, Fine Arts Educator at Raritan High School. “The event fosters a knowledge of—and a respect for—the sacrifices our veterans have made for all of us, and bestows a small honor on our heroes.”

    New York Film Academy and Chair of the NYFA Veteran Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs thanks the students, faculty, and staff of Raritan High School and Ms. Stacy Pearsall for including NYFA in this impactful activity and for their dedication to those who have served in this nation’s military.

    Check out some of the student portrait work below:

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    June 18, 2019 • Photography, Veterans • Views: 323

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update – June 18, 2019

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism school gives our students a set of skills, which they can then use to build their careers. Sometimes that means getting a job. Other times it means starting a business. That’s what NYFA grad Meiraj Haq from Pakistan has done. Haq has created Kulture, a production and catering event management company. (Although we take no credit for his ability as a caterer…)

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    Haq wrote me:  “My main aim is to create content and become the biggest YouTuber in Pakistan. I’ve already worked with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and made his official election documentary for the 2018 elections. And I have a few more big collaborations coming in the near future as well.”

    In our craft, you don’t wait for things to happen, you make them happen. Lauren Vanney (known online as Lauren O’Connell) has certainly taken that advice to heart.  She knows exactly what her subject niche is…

     

    Lauren is the only NYFA Broadcast Journalism student to demonstrate how to exfoliate your lips as part of a class project. (See Lauren, I remember!)

    ***

    Every month, we have an Open House at NYFA. (It is where I first met some of you now reading this Update…) There is a standard video we play, and I have seen it many times. So, imagine my surprise, when in the latest version I saw for the first time two of our Brazilian grads from back in their student days… Vanessa Lorenzini and Patricia Saad. That January, it was especially cold in New York City. Very different from Sao Paulo. But Vanessa and Patricia were not deterred!

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    It’s not unusual for graduates to come back and visit. What is unusual is when someone who attended one of our Summer Teen Camps stops by, especially since she lives in China… Helen Wang Zheng and her mother were in New York last week and stopped by NYFA. Based on the experience she had with us two years ago, Helen plans to pursue a major in Communications in college.

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    Finally, department faculty meetings aren’t usually the highlight of a given week. But the “meeting” we held two weeks ago was certainly memorable. It took place on Robert Ferraro‘s sailboat, out on Long Island Sound. Robert was patient with Evgenia VlasovaDaniel Hernandez, and myself as he explained some of the finer points of sailing. By the way, he is holding a can of seltzer in the picture below…

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Game Design Alum Crafts Breathtaking World of ‘CyberNeon’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Game Design alum Junliang Zhang has created CyberNeon, an incredibly impressive and visually striking 3D environment that evokes the classic hallmarks of cyberpunk art.

    Cyberpunk has its roots in the musical subculture of punk rock, early computer hacker culture, 80s Japanese culture, and American crime novels and movies; particularly film noir. In 1984, author William Gibson wrote Neuromancer, a novel about high-tech and low-life. The book took the science fiction community by storm and popularized the genre called cyberpunk.

    The genre’s visual style has greatly influenced movies like 1982’s Blade Runner, 1985’s Brazil, and 1988’s Akira. Video games such as Shadowrun, the Metal Gear series, Deus Ex, and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 are all clearly inspired by cyberpunk’s tropes and visuals.

    With these games and movies serving as inspiration, NYFA BFA Game Design alum Junliang Zhang has perfectly captured the spirit of cyberpunk in CyberNeon, the 3D environment he spent over a year creating. Zhang hails from Shanghai, China, and enrolled in NYFA’s BFA Game Design program in Fall 2014 at our Burbank-based campus.

    Zhang’s Chinese heritage replaces many of the traditional Japanese motifs found in the genre, and giving the world an identity all its own. William Gibson once said that “Japan IS cyberpunk” while Zhang’s work proudly proclaims “China IS cyberpunk.” 

    Junliang Zhang CyberNeon
    Using the Unreal engine, Zhang built a world of perpetual night and neon that could easily be inhabited by cyberpunk notables Rick Deckard or Kanada. Flying cars zoom over through canyons of skyscrapers that are festooned with advertisements for all manner of products. Futuristic displays literally dance, twirl, and flash—making the dark urban landscape come alive with motion and movement. 

    Technology is everywhere; even the darkened alleys have computer screens that flash data faster than the human eye can comprehend. The camera lingers for a few moments on a tricked-out street rod that announces “I See You” on its digital license plate. This “electric city” feels alive and as if it is constantly watching you.

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA Game Design alum Junliang Zhang on the amazing work he’s done on CyberNeon and looks forward to what the talented game developer has in store next!

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    June 17, 2019 • Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 164