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  • NYFA Alum Rajni Mysore Chamaraj Selected For Star Collective Program

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    New York Film Academy is excited to announce that alum Rajni Mysore Chamaraj, along with her sister, Shynica Mysore Chamaraj, has been selected to participate in the novel Stars Collective program and will be supported with mentoring from Hollywood luminaries, funding, and creative resources from Starlight.

    Founded by Starlight Media CEO Peter Luo (producer of Crazy Rich Asians, Marshall, Midway). the Stars Collective program supports young emerging filmmakers and artists and heightens diversity in the global entertainment ecosystem with potential funding of up to $100 million collectively. The esteemed group of Stars Collective mentors includes director Sam Raimi, Chinese actor Xiaoming Huang, and producers Donna Gigliotti, Gianni Nunnari, Chris Lee, Sanping Han, Paula Wagner, Patrick Wachsberger, Eric Heumann, and Liming Ke.

    “As we wade through the film industry looking for a middle ground between our creative expression and the logistical roadblocks, initiatives like these give artists a launchpad and opens up the industry to a more diverse range of content and transforms the ecosystem of both the makers and the audience,” shared Chamaraj. “Collectively, I believe the media industry has just started to come of age and it’s a great time to jump on to this bandwagon of independent filmmaking.” 

    Photo courtesy of Rajni Mysore Chamaraj

    Chamaraj is a Film & Media Production MA alum from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Her film The Day I Met Joshua was recently named an Official Selection at the prestigious Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in the UK, which is a BAFTA qualifying festival. She currently resides in India and recently wrote, directed, and edited a short Spanish web series in LA called Finding Home, which is streaming on Amazon Prime UK and US. As of now, she is working on the set of a four-part anthology series about the lives of four urban Indian girls living in different cities of India. The NYFA alum is also working as a screenwriter for an Indo-American feature film to be shot in mid of 2022.

    New York Film Academy is proud of the well-earned success of alum Rajni Mysore Chamaraj and is excited at the prospect of more projects from the NYFA alum as a result of the wonderful achievement of being a Stars Collective participant.

    Starlight has a mission to create content that amplifies diverse voices, and a central focus of the program is helping to promote the next generation of aspiring filmmakers and creative storytellers. Starlight guides filmmakers through the development of projects including indie features, documentaries, and animation, helping them balance art and commerce, while encouraging them to form their own styles of storytelling that not only manifest personal creative visions but catch the zeitgeist of the times.

    The majority of filmmakers selected to the program are female, and represent a highly diverse mix of nationalities, ethnicities, races, and personal and professional backgrounds. The Stars Collective program integrates global resources in order to spark the production of more films of distinctive styles and genres.

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    April 22, 2021 • Acting • Views: 519

  • New York Film Academy Instructors Shoot “The Sisters Karras” And Enter Post-Production

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    Two estranged half-sisters, a will reading, a valuable antique rug, and a mysterious stranger. 

    NYFA Acting for Film and Filmmaking instructor Micah Stathis’ latest film, The Sisters Karras, has deep roots within the NYFA community. With Stathis’ SK Deli Market Productions at the helm of the production, the film also includes New York campus instructors Dan Rodriguez, Dennis Green, and Andy Mendez among the film’s cast and crew.

    Poster for “The Sisters Karras”

    The film, shot last Summer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is an original feature written, directed, and starring Stathis. NYFA teaching assistant for Acting for Film Dan Rodriguez served as the film’s director of photography, with NYFA’s Post-Production Supervisor, Andy Mendez, serving as the main editor of the film. Joining Stathis in the cast is NYFA screenwriting instructor Dennis Green.

    Photo courtesy of Micah Stathis

    The shoot itself proved challenging for the crew as safety took precedent with the filming during the pandemic. 

    “It was very stressful shooting during the pandemic,” explained Stathis. “We were a SAG registered production, so the COVID protocols were very strict and required a lot of additional planning and precautions. Not to mention, it’s really hot shooting in New York in August…especially while having to wear masks!”

    With the production wrapped, The Sisters Karras now enters the post-production phase. Like many filmmakers know, shooting the film is half the battle, with a huge part of the filmmaking process dedicated to putting all the finishing touches on the project and getting the film out in the public eye.

    Dan Rodriguez (Left) and Micah Stathis (Right)

    “I hope that audiences enjoy the tragicomic tone and nature of the film. I hope audiences find the story of the two sisters captivating, funny, and stressful but ultimately, relatable,” shared Stathis.

    Photo courtesy of Micah Stathis

    “We are definitely aiming for a festival run with an eye towards sales and distribution. We have already been in dialogue with a few distribution companies who are waiting for the film to be ready. We do not want to rush the post-production process and want to make sure the film is, ultimately, as good as it can possibly be. That’s why we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign specifically for post-production.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates the instructors who banded together to create a feature film safely in the middle of the pandemic. To learn more about The Sisters Karras, you can visit the film’s Kickstarter page by clicking here.

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  • New York Film Academy – 2021 Awards Season Recap

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud share the outstanding achievements from the 2021 Awards Season recognizing members of the NYFA community, including alumni and guest speakers.

    Amid Hollywood’s pandemic year, the 2021 Oscars nominations shattered many records related to diversity and historic milestones that have cemented this year’s ceremony as one to watch. Read more >>

    NYFA Nominations

    Shivani Rawat (1-Year Screenwriting NYFA alum)

    Christina Oh (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED – Best Picture (Minari)

    The EE BAFTAs took place on the weekend of 10 and 11 April 2021 and will be broadcast on the BBC. Read more >>

    NYFA Nominations

    Akinola Davies Jr (NYFA Filmmaking alum)

    • NOMINATED – Best British Short Film (Lizard)

    Shivani Rawat (1-Year Screenwriting NYFA alum)

    Christina Oh (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED – Best Film Not in the English language (Minari)

    NYFA Nominations

    Shivani Rawat (1-Year Screenwriting NYFA alum)

    NYFA Awards

    Christina Oh (NYFA Guest Speaker

    • WINNER – Best Foreign Language Film (Minari)

    This year, with the pandemic crippling much of Hollywood’s cinema distribution and disrupting filming productions across the globe, the Golden Globes still proved that content was in no short supply for viewers in 2020. Read more >>

    NYFA Nominations

    Shivani Rawat (1-Year Screenwriting NYFA alum)

    Christina Oh (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED – Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language (Minari) 

    Al Pacino (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED –  Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (Hunters)

    Carl Weathers (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED –  Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (The Mandalorian)

    Glenn Close (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED –  Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Hillbilly Elegy)

    Bryan Cranston (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED –  Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Your Honor)

    The 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards aired Thursday, April 22 at 10:00 pm ET and 7:00 pm PT. Read more >>

    NYFA Nominations

    • NOMINATED – Best Motion Picture – Best Feature (Minari)

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced its list of nominations for this year’s NAACP Image Awards, an annual awards ceremony crediting the outstanding performances in film, television, music, and literature of the past year. This year, NYFA alumni and guest speakers were among the list of distinguished nominees across multiple categories. 

    In addition to the NYFA community’s nominations, alum Paquita Hughes worked on the production team for the Hulu drama Little Fires Everywhere, starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. Ten-time nominee Jingle Jangle from David E. Talbert was worked on by alum  Francesco Panzieri, who worked as the in-house compositing supervisor for the film. Read more >>

    NYFA Nominations

    Issa Rae (4-Week Filmmaking NYFA alum)

    • NOMINATED – Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series  (Insecure – “Lowkey Feelin’ Myself”)
    • NOMINATED – Outstanding Guest Performance (Saturday Night Live)
    • NOMINATED – Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (The Photograph)

    Alfonso Ribeiro (4-Week Filmmaking NYFA alum)

    • NOMINATED – Outstanding Variety Show (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion)
    • NOMINATED – Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition (America’s Funniest Home Videos)

    Lisa Cortés (6-Week Producing NYFA alum)

    Cedric The Entertainer (NYFA Guest Speaker)

    • NOMINATED – Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series (The Neighborhood)

    NYFA Awards

    • WINNER – Outstanding Comedy Series (Insecure)
    • WINNER – Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (Insecure)

    The Producers Guild of America Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Read more >>

    NYFA Nominations

    Shivani Rawat (1-Year Screenwriting NYFA alum)

    Christina Oh

    • NOMINATED – Best Picture (Minari)

    The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was simulcast on TNT and TBS on Sunday, April 4, 2021. 

    NYFA guest speaker and Minari producer Christina Oh’s film received three nominations for her cast, including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Yuh-Jung Youn – WON), and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Steven Yeun).

    NYFA alum Shivani Rawats The Trial of The Chicago 7 received three nominations including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Sacha Baron Cohen), and  Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

    Read more >>

    NYFA Awards

    • WINNER – Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (The Trial of The Chicago 7)

    This year, NYFA alum Akinola Davies Jr. won the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival for his film Lizard. Read more >>

    NYFA Awards

    • WINNER – NYFA Filmmaking alum Akinola Davies Jr.; Short Film Grand Jury Prize (Lizard).

    New York Film Academy congratulates all of this year’s nominees and winners and looks forward to seeing the incredible creative work recognized in 2022. 

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    March 25, 2021 • Acting • Views: 647

  • NYFA Alum Priya Darshini Nominated at 2021 Grammy Awards For Best New Age Album

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    Music’s biggest night of the year will include NYFA Acting and Filmmaking alum Priya Darshini, who is nominated for Best New Age Album at the 63rd Annual Grammys for her debut album Periphery.

    Darshini studied 4-Week Acting for Film and 8-Week Filmmaking at NYFA’s New York campus. After her studies, she appeared in The Letters and went to Bollywood. She then decided to pursue her first love of music and began focusing on her recording career.

    Album cover for Priya Darshini’s “Periphery”

    “I craved to create original music,” she told the Indian Express. American musician Roy Wilfred Wooten even chose her for his famed Black Mozart Ensemble, which combined jazz with classical music, hip hop, and bluegrass. She also became the Artistic Director of Brooklyn Raga Massive and co-led Women’s Raga Massive. Darshini has been featured by Elle India and was recently named by Tatler Magazine Malaysia as one of “Six Asian Women Around The World Changing the Face of Music.”

    Her debut album Periphery is an East-West crossover that blends Darshini’s Indian classical training with influences of American folk and pop. The album was recorded in an abandoned church in Brooklyn, New York over 12 days. Darshini also worked with collaborators Nicholas Prout (Recording Engineer), Max ZT, Dave Eggar, Chuck Palmer, and Will Calhoun. 

    New York Film Academy is proud to see Priya Darshini be recognized for her outstanding achievement by The Recording Academy and wishes her the bust of luck. The 63rd Annual Grammys will be televised on Sunday, March 14 on CBS (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT). 

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  • Netflix Limited Series “Behind Her Eyes” Stars NYFA Alum Eve Hewson

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    Netflix’s binge-worthy new limited series is Behind Her Eyes and it has everyone talking about all the twists and turns. The series, which released on February 17, stars NYFA alum Eve Hewson as lead character Adele.

    Eve Hewson studied at NYFA in 2008 in the Acting for Film program and has since appeared with Sean Penn and Frances McDormand in This Must Be the Place and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. Hewson also appeared alongside Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx in Robin Hood. She recently appeared in the BBC adaption of Eleanor Catton’s novel The Luminaries as Anna Wetherell that premiered in the U.S on February 14, 2021, on Starz.

    Eve Hewson as Adele in “Behind Her Eyes” (Netflix)

    Hewson’s latest project, Behind Her Eyes, is a psychological thriller adapted from Sarah Pinborough’s 2017 novel of the same name. The story follows the love triangle of single mother Louise and married couple Adele (Hewson) and David. With a series of shocking twists, and a highly talked about ending, the story is nothing short of gripping, where nothing is what it seems.

    Poster for “Behind Her Eyes” (Netflix)

    Hewson’s character Adele is married to David, who is having an affair with the new resident to the town, Louise. Adele, surprisingly, is interested in forming a friendly connection with David’s new lover but sets off an entangled web of twisted circumstances and conspiracy.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Eve Hewson on the release of her latest project and encourages everyone to check out the new limited series, now streaming on Netflix.

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  • Documentary Filmmaking Alum Elaine Minionis Awarded Regional Emmy Award for “Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo”

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    NYFA is excited to celebrate Documentary Filmmaking alum Elaine Minionis joining the ranks of multiple creatives who have had the distinguished honor of being awarded an Emmy. The regional Emmy, awarded in late 2020 by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Suncoast Chapter, was for Minionis’ film Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo.

    The short documentary was produced by Minionis and was picked up for national broadcast by PBS. The film follows renowned Venezuelan visual artist, Mariana Monteagudo, who currently lives in Florida. The film especially captures Mariana’s creative process and her inspirations behind her intriguing, eerie doll sculptures, all made of repurposed materials. From following Mariana dumpster diving to visiting local thrift shops for useful material, Uncanny also touches on topics like immigration, consumerism, and more viewing them through the lens of contemporary art.

    Still from “Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo”

    “Coming from a strong family tradition of ceramists in Venezuela, Mariana loves giving a second life to objects that are discarded by our society,” shared Minionis on her personal Instagram. “Like a waste picker, she [Marina Monteagudo] walks around neighborhoods to salvage gems from people’s bulk trashes, rescuing textiles or baseball balls, plastic bottles of orange juice, or an old unkempt teddy bear. To her, everything has potential for inspiration and hybridism, and that’s the way she lives her life: continuously seeking, always resuscitating abandoned things, permanently combining and thinking ahead of time, and placing her faith into the most unimagined creations.”

    Also a native of Venezuela, Minionis got her start in the arts by writing poetry at a very young age. Her big break came in 2005 when she was one of a handful of winners selected for a national poetry contest, receiving as a reward a text publication with one of the most important literary houses in Venezuela (CELARG). As she grew up and continued to study, her love of photography and documentary became more clear.

    NYFA alum Elaine Minionis with her Emmy and one of Mariana Monteagudo’s dolls

    In 2006, the Emmy-winner saw her still photography work featured as part of the advertising for the 20th Century Fox production of Elipsis. In 2008, Minionis came to study Documentary Filmmaking in NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory program. Of her experience, she shared that “non-fiction visual storytelling became an artistic and intellectual space” that allowed her to explore research and visual concepts of storytelling.

    After graduating, Minionis worked at the Brooklyn-based production company Flicker Flacker Films, as an intern and then the assistant editor for a History Channel feature-length documentary The Naturalized. She eventually became an independent producer at Discovery Networks Latin America/US Hispanics in the Original Production & Development Department.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Minionis on her Emmy win and is proud to count her amongst the NYFA alum ranks. We look forward to her future projects and wish her continued success.

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    February 19, 2021 • Acting • Views: 778

  • NYFA’s Q&A-List Welcomes President of MGM Motion Picture Group Pam Abdy

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    NYFA had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with the President of MGM’s Motion Picture Group, Pam Abdy, to discuss the film production process with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Abdy is the current President of MGM’s Motion Picture Group and oversees the development, production, and post-production for all MGM and Orion films. Abdy is currently developing a multitude of films such as Fiddler on The Roof, Project Hail Mary, and Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives, amongst others.

    At her previous position, Makeready Films/eOne, the company financed and produced Queen & Slim from director Melina Matsoukas and writer Lena Waithe and A Million Little Pieces from director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Previously, Abdy served as President of Production at New Regency, where they released the acclaimed Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Academy Award-winning Birdman, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, Adam McKay’s Academy Award-winning The Big Short, and Iñárritu’s The Revenant in 2016, which received twelve Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Pam Abdy (Right)

    Laiter began the conversation by asking Abdy what a day in the life of the President of MGM Motion Picture Group looks like. Abdy explained that most days consist of hours of Zoom meetings from pitching and financial planning to meetings with production staff and discussing forward slate planning. “It’s an all-encompassing job especially being at home with my daughter in the next room,” shared Abdy. “It’s a little chaotic, but that was just today. Every day is different.”

    Abdy, whose original plan to be a dancer got derailed by injury, got her first big break as Danny DeVito’s assistant, after working at the front desk at DeVito’s Jersey Films. “It was a life-changing opportunity for me,” she remembered. “He is a mentor to me and a second father. I learned how to make movies at that company and was given space to grow and they [the whole team] really taught me how to make films and be on set.”

    Sometimes the best education is watching and observing something Abdy does to this day, even as President at MGM Motion Picture Group. She urged NYFA students to remember that no job is too small to do no matter how many years of experience you have. “It doesn’t matter what I have to do. Every job is meaningful and nothing is beneath me,” said Abdy. “I will do whatever it takes to navigate a problem. I feel like some people think things are not their job, but to be a great producer, you have to manage so many different personalities and money. It’s an incredible responsibility that doesn’t get enough credit.”

    Part of being a great producer means being able to collaborate with the director, something Abdy mentioned as being one of the most important parts of putting a movie together and in production. “It’s everything to find the right director for your film,” she emphasized. “If it’s not the right director the film won’t have the right point of view. The best day of a producer’s life is getting the director on the movie, but it’s also the worst day because it becomes the director’s and you may not agree with everything they do. Your vision may not be their vision. But when that person comes on and they elevate that, there’s nothing better.”

    Pam Abdy (Left) with the cast and crew of “Queen & Slim”

    One of the career highlights for Abdy has been the vision of Melina Matsoukas and Lena Waithe, with whom she worked with on Queen & Slim. While on the film, Abdy learned a very important lesson that has stayed with her to this day. “I usually have to be part of everything and find solutions. That movie wasn’t about that. It was about creating a safe space and giving Melina and Lena the floor while I stand in the background to help navigate things as they needed them,” she began. “What was so joyful about that film is both of those women are such visionaries. Allow artists and visionaries to have the space to tell their stories. Don’t impose your own on their process. I learned about creating space for artists’ voices and it was the greatest joy of my career.”

    Abdy, like many others in the film industry, is continuing to adapt to the film industry facing restrictions due to the COVID pandemic. “Before, you hustled, made major movies, dealt with your budget, and put the movie together which – sometimes things took longer. Now, you don’t have the luxury of time anymore. You are locked down. If you are not working in a pod, then you leave the set. It’s not as fun,” she laughed. “Sometimes magic happens when you are making a film and I worry that the new rigidness may impact that work. There’s no answer right now as to when this part is going to stop, and it’s so expensive. What it’s doing is putting a burden on film budgets for COVID costs. There is a danger that good movies won’t get made because the cost is too burdensome.”

    Pam Abdy during promotion for Zach Braff’s “Garden State”

    One student asked Abdy how to become a better producer. Abdy urged them to get their hands on as many scripts as possible, even the one that got made already. “Study filmmakers. Filmmakers love to know their producers understand other filmmakers’ work. Take time and watch how filmmakers grow. See what changes. Watch the language and understand the common thread of their films throughout. Then, define your taste and identify what actually is your taste.”

    As Laiter closed the discussion and thanked Abdy for her generous wisdom, Laiter asked Abdy what has made her so successful in her career. Abdy replied it’s all the positives and the negatives about herself combined. “As I get older I recognize my flaws and I’m trying to do better with delegating. Be kind and be generous to everyone. This whole business is based on relationships and the experience of those relationships.”

    Abdy’s upcoming slate includes Joe Wright’s Cyrano, Ridley Scott’s Gucci, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin’s Dog, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s untitled upcoming film. New York Film Academy would like to thank Pam Abdy for sharing her time and invaluable knowledge of the film business with NYFA students and looks forward to welcoming her back again in the near future.

    To watch the full conversation, click here or view the video below:

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    February 18, 2021 • Acting • Views: 656

  • NYFA Alum Lana Condor Stars in “To All The Boys: Forever and Always” on Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Lana Condor returns as Lara Jean Covey in Netflix’s original film To All The Boys: Always and Forever. The film is the third and final installment in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series adapted from the novel series of the same name from Jenny Han.

    Lana Condor and Madeleine Arthur and in “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (Netflix)

    After attending Acting for Film at NYFA’s camps, Condor graduated high school and had her film debut as the popular mutant Jubilee in the summer blockbuster X-Men: Apocalypse. Immediately following, Condor appeared in the Mark Wahlberg thriller Patriots Day, co-starring alongside fellow NYFA alum Themo Melikidze. Condor has also appeared in Alita: Battle Angel, the TV series Deadly Class, and the coming-of-age film Summer Night.

    To All The Boys: Always and Forever will have fans seeing beloved character Lara Jean (Condor) faced with the difficult decision of what to do after she graduates high school and whether her future includes long-term boyfriend Peter, played by Netflix favorite Noah Centineo (The Perfect Date, Sierra Burgess is a Loser). From the film series beginning with 16-year old Lara Jean having her secret love letters go public to all of her crushes, to the unexpected twists along the way leading up to the third film, fans will have to say goodbye to Condor’s character as she closes her high school chapter.

    Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (Netflix)

    What is the NYFA alum up to now that the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy has concluded? Condor is still booked and busy and will appear in the upcoming films Moonshot and the edgy comedy Girls Night. In her spare time, the actress has been known to share style and beauty tips on her social media channels and was most recently profiled by Vogue.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Lana Condor for bringing the character Lara Jean Covey to life over the past few years and looks forward to her future roles in Hollywood and beyond. To All The Boys: Always and Forever will be available to stream on February 10, 2021, on Netflix.

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    February 10, 2021 • Acting, Diversity, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 716

  • NYFA Welcomes Producers of Military Docuseries “Ten Weeks” to NYFA’s Q&A-List

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    NYFA had the privilege of hosting a live video Q&A with the co-founder of We Are the Mighty, David Gale, Medal of Honor recipient & Chair of NYFA’s Veteran Advancement Program Col. Jack Jacobs, and We Are The Mighty (WATM) Chief Content Officer and director Chase Millsap. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    David Gale is an executive and award-winning producer who is currently serving as the Exe.VP of Development and Production at Gunpowder & Sky. Before joining G&S, Gale co-founded and was CEO of WATM, a media brand focused on hiring and telling the stories of our military veterans. Gale oversaw the release of 28 films when he was at MTV Films, including Varsity Blues, Save The Last Dance, The Longest Yard, Election, Hustle and Flow, and the cultural phenomenon Napoleon Dynamite.

    (Clockwise) Tova Laiter, Chase Millsap, David Gale, and Col. Jack Jacobs

    Chase Millsap produced the short film, The Captain’s Story, in collaboration with National Geographic to highlight the struggles faced by America’s wartime allies. His work has been featured in National Geographic, The Huffington Post and he has appeared on Buzzfeed and CNN International. Millsap is the Chief Content Officer at WATM and has helmed digital, social, film, and television projects for Warner Brothers Studios, CBS Studios, Netflix, and Blumhouse Productions.

    Col. Jack Jacobs served in Vietnam twice; both times as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions, earning three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat decoration. After Jacobs’ retirement, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust and now serves as the Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program at the New York Film Academy. Jacobs also serves as an on-air analyst for NBC News and he is also the co-author of the memoir, If Not Now, When?, which won the Colby Award.

    Rhett Cutrell filming Army trainee Stormy Gideons on the set of “Ten Weeks” (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Millsap, Gale, and Col. Jacobs discussed the making of their series from Blumhouse TV/We Are The Mighty docuseries Ten Weeks. The series, inspired by Col. Jacobs’ book Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training, is a docuseries that follows a cohort of recruits in their journey from untested, young adults to soldiers during basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Though the docuseries Ten Weeks was originally supposed to be released on Quibi, the series will be available to stream on Roku devices in 2021.

    Ten Weeks (named for the length of basic training) would not have been possible without the support of the U.S. Army, which colonel Jack Jacobs brought in to collaborate throughout the process. Millsap explained that it was a documentary, but it had to have a plan in place: it meant knowing the limits of production each day while on set as it was an active training ground with real challenges, safety concerns, and a rigorous approval process for certain shots. But it was all worth it.

    Army Trainees Trinity Carpenter and Stormy Gideons about to receive their banner during “The Anvil” (Photo courtesy of Blumhouse TV / Quibi)

    “Going through boot camp is an experience most people don’t experience or get to see,” shared Jacobs. “It’s the backstory of national defense.” Gale agreed and added the project “is by veterans for veterans so you can’t understate the importance of the series and also give credit to the Army for giving us the opportunity to use this space.”

    While Ten Weeks is by veterans like Millsap and Col. Jacobs, David Gale, who has been in the film business for many years co-founded WATM because he didn’t see many veterans in higher positions throughout the filmmaking industry. “There is so much talent in the military community and when they leave there are few outlets for them to go into in entertainment,” he shared. Col. Jacobs, who spearheads NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program, added that many across the industry don’t realize how talented are those who serve and what they can accomplish. “[At NYFA], it’s an opportunity to hone what they know and learned in uniform to the arts.”

    Army trainee Stormy Gideons and Drill Sergeant Stewart being filmed by Rhett Cutrell on set for “Ten Weeks” (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Millsap knows all too well the challenges that one can face when transitioning from the military to the film industry. “I spent over a decade in uniform and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I leaned into what I was passionate about,” shared Millsap. “In the military, it’s very easy to see what someone’s job is or what they do. As you think about your next step, your creative work is going to be your calling card. You’ve got to spend your time learning the skill set and reading and watching. Study what’s on the screen to figure out how it was made.”

    Millsap and Col. Jacobs, like so many veterans in the entertainment and film industry, are aiming to make military stories exude authenticity and provide more opportunities to veterans looking to break in. Col. Jacobs advised, “No matter what you’re doing, you have to be prepared for some measure of rejection, but you have to keep working at it and it (the project) has to speak to you.”

    (L-R) Army trainee/soldiers Leo Eades, Joshua Oller, Stormy Gideons, Trinity Carpenter, and Riley Barnard on graduation day (Photo courtesy of We are the Mighty / Quibi)

    Laiter thanked the distinguished producers for the series that will open up another world in an authentic and compelling way.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank David Gale, Col. Jack Jacobs, and Chase Millsap for sharing their time and expertise with students and the NYFA community. For more information on veteran opportunities at New York Film Academy, click here.

    To hear the full conversation, click the video below our watch on our YouTube channel here.

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    February 2, 2021 • Acting • Views: 1489

  • It’s Been a Journey for Acting for Film Alum Elsabet Ademe, But She is Just Getting Started

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    Elsabet Ademe was born in Ethiopia, and as a teenager, she embarked on the most dangerous journey of her life – traveling the treacherous smugglers’ route toward the West, living in several countries, and working in each one to save money. Her goal was to make it to the United States to pursue a career in film. Years later, Ademe is a U.S. citizen and BFA graduate from New York Film Academy with an active career in Los Angeles.

    Acting for Film Alum Elsabet Ademe

    “I had a dream of becoming an actress since I was six years old, so when I got a chance to follow my dream, I decided to go to school first,” said Ademe. “I did my research about a film school, then I came across the New York Film Academy in 2014. I took the Acting for Film 1-Year Conservatory program in New York, then I did few theaters in NYC. In 2016, I moved to LA and started the NYFA’s Acting for Film BFA program.”

    After Ademe graduated in 2018, she picked up acting, casting directing, producing, and writing projects. Her first web series pilot, The Bartender, got picked up by PAN Africa Film Festival.

    Ademe recently wrote a book called Behind Sunrise, based on true events, which is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more. The book’s synopsis reads:

    The story of the bright and positive, yet ferociously determined, Sarah Belay.

    Sarah is a sixteen-year-old Ethiopian girl with big dreams. She wants to travel to Europe to pursue the arts. However, she has a huge problem – her family is dead set against it.

    When she hears the man who drives her to school talk about human smuggling, her ears perk up. She knows what she’s going to do. Weeks later, in the dead of night, she leaves her home to embark on a journey that dramatically changes her life.

    With little information from her transporters, Sarah travels the perilous off-road paths toward Sudan in the care of suspicious and increasingly cruel men. The battle for survival brings out the worst in some, and the incredibly good in others as a bond forms between some of the travelers.

    Arriving in Sudan, Sarah finds work and saves money for what she believes is the most dangerous leg of the journey – the long trek through the Sahara Desert and into Libya. The passage, however, is a nightmare far worse than anything she could have imagined. Abandoned by the smugglers in the vast barrenness of Al Kufrah, the friends escape and hire a local Libyan smuggler to get them to Tripoli.

    Instead, he takes them to the middle of the desert and into even more life-changing dangers. Will Sarah survive the journey to reach her dreams? Or will the circumstances beyond her control destroy her?

    Ademe will appear in the short film Raine on the Run, which is slated to be released later this year and will continue to expand on her acting and writing skills for the future. “I’m Ethiopian so English is my second language and I have learned a lot to develop my writing skills, while also building a network through NYFA,” shared Ademe. “I discovered myself at NYFA and through me, I can do anything.”

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    January 14, 2021 • Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2155