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  • NYFA DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING INSTRUCTOR CLAUDIA RASCHKE IS DP FOR CNN+ SERIES

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    NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke’s career has run the course of 33 years. She started her career in 1988 and worked her way up to lead cinematographer. In 2011, she was the cinematographer for the Oscar-nominated documentary God is Bigger Than Elvis about actress Dolores Hart who renounced her successful career at the age of 24 to become a Benedictine nun, the film’s success was a precursor of what was to come for Raschke. She has since been the director of photography for multiple award-winning films: the Emmy award-winning documentary RBG about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Peabody Award-winning film Black Magic on ESPN, and Oscar short-listed films Mad Hot Ballroom, Particle Fever, Atomic Homefront and The Freedom to Marry.

    Right before the recent purchase of Twitter by tech magnate Elon Musk for $44 billion dollars, Raschke was working behind the camera to bring to life CNN +’s Land of the Giants: Titans of Tech, a five-part documentary-series about the world’s most powerful CEO’s and how their companies reshaped our world.

    Land of the Giants: Titans of Tech examines the rise of Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. This documentary series unearths the unabridged history of these organizations, from their meager origins to their current standing as billion-dollar entities and their impact on our society. The series uses a combination of archival footage and interviews with field experts, to give the viewers insight into the genesis of the worlds most influential companies and their polarizing founders: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Reed Hastings, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

    Raschke has worked on many projects, of varying subjects but what ties them all together is her method and style of filmmaking: Cinéma vérité. The term itself comes from the French film movement that took off in the 1960s, wherein directors filmed people in everyday situations speaking unscripted dialogue and interacting authentically. The term is used to describe a style of filmmaking that is unimposing.

    NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke behind the camera.

    Raschke has a masterful eye for the truth and her style of filming allows her to tackle nuanced and complex subjects, similar to the ones in Land of the Giants: Titans of Tech and God is Bigger than Elvis, with intimacy. During a conversation with 20/20 host Liz Hinlein, Raschke explained that the key to documentary filmmaking is ceasing the moment. She also shared with us that, at times, while filmmaking, there is a level of vulnerability shared by both the cinematographer and the subject. Raschke said “there is bonding because we experience something together: emotions, anger, resolve, struggle and when that happens they do turn to me.”

    Check out the interview below where Raschke discusses her experience filming the political legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the documentary film RBG, and cinéma vérité, the art of truthful documentary filmmaking.

    NYFA congratulates Claudia Raschke for her commitment to teaching and her creative success!

     

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

     

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    April 29, 2022 • Acting, Cinematography • Views: 156

  • NYFA CHAIR OF CINEMATOGRAPHY (LA) IS DP FOR THE BEATLES DOCU-SERIES

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    NYFA Screenwriting Alum Mohamed Diab Directs Marvel Studios 'Moon Knight'

    NYFA Cinematography Chair (LA) Anthony Richmond, ASC has worked on films of varying genres; Don’t Look Now, a horror film for which Richmond won a BAFTA Award,The Man Who Fell from Earth a sci-fi film starring David Bowie, the horror-thriller Candyman, and the iconic rom-com Legally Blonde all form part of his eclectic portfolio. In addition to his extensive work behind the camera and his invaluable time in the classroom, Richmond is also a member of the Academy Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (A.M.P.A.S), British Academy of Film & Television Arts (B.A.F.T.A), American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C), and British Society of Cinematographers (B.S.C).

    Anthony Richmond’s career was covered in the April 2022 issue of American Cinematographer wherein the legendary magazine celebrates Richmond six-decade career and the way he’s captured rock-and-roll royalty throughout the years.

    In January 1969, only two short years after becoming a cinematographer and five years after beginning his career in the film industry without any formal training, Richmond was entrusted with filming The Beatles as they prepared their 12th studio album and rehearsed for a world tour in under three weeks.

    The initial release of Richmond’s Beatle footage was seen in Let It Be, a documentary that followed the Beatles through a “fly on the wall” perspective, devoid of narration and interviews from the band mates. In the first half of the film, the audience sees the band toil over songs, trying to make them better and rehearsing at Twickenham Film Studios in London. The Fab Four were not fond of Twickenham Studios and neither was Richmond who told American Cinematographer, “It was very boring — a big, old stage with a huge white cyc.” The colorful background we now recognize in the rehearsal space was Richmond’s doing. “There were a lot of lights rigged up in the gantry, so I had gaffer Jim Powell introduce different gel colors onto the cyc every day to get rid of the horribleness of the white.”


    Whereas the first half of the film is focused on the band’s collaboration, the last part of the film is all about the Beatles’ performance on the rooftop of Apple corps headquarters. The impromptu performance would be the Bealtes’ last live performance together but Richmond maintains that it was a good experience. “Let It Be was a really dark piece about the Beatles breaking up,” he says, “but it certainly wasn’t an unpleasant experience for me. It’s always fun shooting.”

    Richmond also says of the Beatles “[I] never thought of [the Beatles] as stars. I saw them as guys in a band. To me, stars were movie stars.” Perhaps it was best that Richmond was not starstruck by the most influential band of all time. Richmond’s footage is the gift that keeps giving and it’s the kind of footage that insists on the humanity of the Fab Four. It is why Peter Jackson and Jabez Olssen were able to edit almost 60 hours of footage for four years to bring us The Beatles: Get Back on Disney +.

    The new footage in Get Back redirects the attention to what made the band so dynamic. Get Back
    gives Beatles fans a front row seat into the band’s process and provides rock band novices a thorough introduction into the dynamics and mechanics of the legendary band.


    Richmond spoke with NYFA 20/20 host Liz Hilein about his career, acknowledging that while it was easier in the 60’s to learn on the job, these days, the film industry moves at such a rapid pace there is less time to teach onset and highlights the importance of studying the greats.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Chair of Cinematography (LA) Anthony Richmond, ASC on all of his success and his timeless films!

     

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

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    April 18, 2022 • Cinematography • Views: 15

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum, Aditya J. Patwardhan’s, Film is Streaming on Amazon Prime!

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    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Aditya J. Patwardhan has been making waves since graduating in 2014 from our Film and Media Production program. Aditya hails from Jaipur, India and has directed an array of different works from feature films to documentaries to short films and TV series. He has also directed and produced films in multiple foreign languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Lithuanian. 

    His latest project, A Nomad River, is a docu-fiction feature written, produced and directed by Aditya.  “[A Nomad River] is a blend of fictional and non-fictional narrative … This is a personal struggle of four ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, as they travel across India, an ancient civilization struggling with climate change, water crisis, poverty, and hygiene issues.” Aditya says of the film. The film takes place in India and follows four characters: Adriana, a refugee from crisis-hit Venezuela, Kankana, an Indian actress working in Hollywood, Suraj, a street cleaner from a slum in Rajasthan, and Ravi who is a television news reporter from Jaipur. 

    “We journey with them as they travel across India, an ancient civilization struggling with climate change, water crisis, poverty, and hygiene issues,” Aditya shared with NYFA. “One of the storylines in the film portrays Isha Foundation’s Rally for Rivers, a pan India water-conservation drive supported by the Government of India and endorsed by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Shahrukh Khan.”

    Aditya J. Patwardhan with the cast of “And The Dream that Mattered,” including NYFA alumni Themo Melikidze (second left) and Jongman Kim (third left).

    Patwardhan is well-known for his collaborations with other NYFA Alumni. And the Dream that Mattered features a number of NYFA alumni including Acting for Film alumni Themo Melikidze and Jongman Kim and Anup Kulkarni from 2014 NYFA One-Year Cinematography.

    “Almost all the projects I have done have had important team members who were from NYFA and I had collaborated with them first when I was doing school projects. That just stresses how important good collaborations are and the crucial role NYFA plays.”

    A Nomad River was no different. He enlisted the talents of former classmate and collaborator, cinematographer Anup Kulkarni as well as lead actress, Kankana Chakraborty, who is from the 2014 MFA acting program. Many of the other crew members are also from NYFA.  

    A Nomad River is now streaming on Amazon Prime!

    NYFA congratulates Aditya on his success! We look forward to seeing more of Aditya’s work and NYFA collaborations!

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  • Q&A with Army Veteran and NYFA Photography and Cinematography Alum Xavier Velasquez

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    Two-time New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography and Cinematography Alum Xavier Velasquez has been making waves in sound design and cinematography since graduating from NYFA in 2019.

    Velasquez spoke with New York Film Academy about what he’s been up to since graduating, what inspires his work and his advice to anyone looking to get started in filmmaking.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us a bit about yourself and life before NYFA?

    Xavier Velasquez (XV):My name is Xavier Velásquez. I am a Cinematographer, Photographer, Audio Engineer and Sound designer. I also do a lot of conceptual/surrealist digital art work and I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. 

    Before attending NYFA, I served in the United States Army for 5 years. I was stationed in Germany for 3.5 years and Fort Bragg for the remainder of my contract. I was deployed twice during my service. Once to Turkey for 6 months and the other to Kandahar, Afghanistan for 9 months.

    NYFA: What brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    XV: Honestly, the idea of making films as a career or professional was so far-fetched to me. As a kid I would force my sister and cousins to make films with me on my dad’s old VHS recorder (which I still have). As I was graduating high school, I realized that you could go to college for filmmaking, media, arts – things like that. I decided that was the route for me and applied to the Art Institute of Boston. I was accepted, went to orientation and took the placement tests only to learn that I would also need to do math, science, english and all the other regular subjects before I even got to learn anything about making films. That right there was a NO for me. I looked up other film schools on Google and found out about New York Film Academy and I was hooked. Everything they provided and showcased on their website was exactly what I was looking for. So I applied and got approved for a grant NYFA offered at the time, but then I couldn’t attend because I was 18 and broke and was unable to cover the rest of the tuition. A few years passed, I joined the Army at 20 and while I was deployed to Afghanistan, I was debating whether to reenlist for more years or get out. After having a conversation with my platoon sergeant about college, I decided to google the New York Film Academy again. I saw that the school accepted the G.I bill, a benefit I received from being in the military which would pay for my schooling; that sealed my fate right there. The decision was clearer than ever. I left the military on Veteran’s Day 2015 and by December I was signed up for school and ready for classes in January.  

    NYFA: You mentioned you studied Filmmaking, Audio and Photography. What motivated you to continue your studies and transition from Film, Audio and Photography?

    XV: Well there’s no question about it, as much as I love cinematography, compositions, framing, lighting, you NEED really good sound or, in my opinion, your  films don’t work. You can be very experimental with how you shoot and light anything but bad sound is never forgiven. I had months left on my G.I Bill and decided that sound was something I wanted to get more involved in. I love the sound design part of filmmaking. The audience might hear clothes rustling but they wouldn’t know that it’s just me balling up one of my sons clean diapers. It’s exciting creating noise from anything to be anything. I felt solidified in my decision to endure the world of sound design when a film I executive produced, Dp’d, colored and did the sound design for actually won best sound design at a festival. Photography is also important. In my opinion, it is the foundation of good cinematography. The photography program at NYFA really opened my eyes to the artistic world and what a lens can capture. That program alone is what made me the DP I am today. It taught me to appreciate what the light captures and what it doesn’t. It taught me to appreciate the shadows and embrace them because everything has a story. Care about your framing because that one frame can tell a story.

     

    View this post on Instagram

     

    A post shared by Xavier (@_eckz_)

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project? What was your role in the project?

    XV: My latest short film is Sutherland. It is an atmospheric horror film that I co-executive produced and was the director of photography for. I got onto this project because another project I was supposed to DP for fell through. I spoke to the director of Sutherland about it because he was also supposed to be on that project with me and since the first project had fallen through, he offered to write a script for us to work on, if I was interested. He wrote it (what would be Sutherland). I loved it and we went from there. We got a cast and crew and spent 5 nights in July shooting a horror film in a historic house in Virginia. It’s by far one of my favorite projects I’ve been blessed to create. It is currently going through the film festival circuit It has been selected in the category of Best Cinematography for the Montreal Independent Film Festival. 

    Take a look at the Sutherland teaser below!

    There is also and Instagram page for the film : @sutherland_film. 


    NYFA: What other projects have you worked on since graduating?

    XV: Aside from Sutherland, I have also been working on 2 other projects. A documentary that I’m DPing, GodsChild, that I’ve been filming for about a year now with former NYFA student, Darius Green. It focuses on a DJ who was a rising basketball star in the early 2000’s here in Virginia. The second project is an episodic comedy of which I am DP and co-producer, Simpleton. An observational comedy that follows the life of our protagonist Gerson. Episode one is finished and we are getting ready to release that soon.

    NYFA: What kind of stories do you want to be known for?

    XV: I don’t know. That’s tough question because I seem to have fallen into the suspense horror genre. Don’t get me wrong, I love that world and creating it but I also want to see if I can venture into other genres but still maintain my artistic integrity where if someone watches anything I’ve made they can tell I either filmed it myself or influenced the project. It is one of the reasons I took on the episodic comedy I mentioned before. At that point, I had never shot a comedy and wanted to see if I could pull it off. Sutherland and Simpleton are polar opposites. I wanted to see if I could do it and make it fit my style of shooting.

    NYFA: What is the importance of film and storytelling in your opinion?

    XV: Film and storytelling are outlets for artists. If it’s documentary work, it gives people a voice. They can choose to use that voice to bring awareness to social issues, tell the truth, or persuade an audience. 

    If we are talking about fiction it gives us the power to use our imagination. For the most part, we are taught to go to college and get a job and that’s it. Our creativity dies out as we fall in line with this “life plan”. With that plan, when are you being creative or imaginative? Being able to create something that tells a story, either using film, photography or art is something creatives cherish. I feel that we are true risk-takers as not everyone can make a living doing something in this field. A lot of artists don’t even get recognized until they pass away. We do this for freedom of self expression but most of the time we don’t care if everyone loves our work because we do. It’s our outlet at the end of the day and if people don’t like it or they think they can do it better, they should pick up a camera or a brush and do it.

     

    View this post on Instagram

     

    A post shared by Xavier (@_eckz_)

    NYFA: Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    XV: Yes I have. Both in my film work and my photography work. My conceptual work was accepted in both the APA (Annual Photography Awards) and the Fine Art Photography Awards. I also had my work in the Conception Art Show in Tribeca and The A.R.T (Artistic Recreational Therapy) in the UK. 

    NYFA: Who has inspired you in your work? Who has inspired you personally?

    XV: This is such a hard question to answer. Inspiration comes from too many places. I could be listening to a song that gives me a feeling or makes an image pop in my head and I would go from there. That’s how most of my digital artwork is created. Either life experiences or music I’m listening to at the time. But if I had to name a few in the film world it would be directors like David Fincher, Ari Aster, Jordan Peele. Tod Campbell’s cinematography work. The photography work of Gregory Crewdson, & Dan Winters are just a few of the many artists that inspire me.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your project?

    XV: Everything. I knew absolutely nothing about cinematography, photography or filmmaking as a whole. I legitimately left the “comfort” and “stability” of the military without knowing if I would be good at any of this. The first time I held a real camera – outside of my fathers old vhs recorder – was at Nyfa. Whenever someone asks me about going to film school, I tell them if they can afford it then go for it. If they still have any doubt all I have to do is show them my work. I will always consider myself a student of this art form but I do feel that I know what I’m doing simply because I went to NYFA.

    NYFA: Any advice or tips for anyone looking to get involved in photography, film or the visual arts?

    XV: I mean not to sound cliche but just go for it. For the most part nobody is stopping you from doing anything but yourself. Yeah, you can bring up money but if you’re old enough to have these kinds of questions then you should have a phone in your possession and the phones nowadays can do everything. I’ve shot films on my phone. One of my photos that was included in an art gallery I originally took on my iPhone 11. If you want to be a storyteller, there’s literally no reason as to why you can’t write a story, and then find the people that can help you bring it to life.

    I’ll end this Q&A with this: there’s this saying or quote I don’t really remember where I heard it from or who said it but I remember it like this, “there’s pen and paper everywhere, but not everyone is an author” I used that quote to inspire me all the time. I don’t consider myself a writer at all but it reminds me that just because people have access to things doesn’t mean they know how to use it. So if you want to be an author – write stories, a filmmaker – make a film, a photographer – take photos. You never know you just might have that artistic voice someones been waiting to hear, see or feel.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Xavier Velasquez on his accomplishments! We look forward to seeing more of your work!

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    February 11, 2022 • Acting, Cinematography, Diversity, Photography, Student Life • Views: 700

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum, Aditya Patwardhan’s, Film is Streaming on Amazon Prime

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    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Aditya J. Patwardhan has been making waves since graduating in 2014 from our Film and Media Production program. Aditya hails from Jaipur, India and has directed an array of different works from feature films to documentaries to short films and TV series. He has also directed and produced films in multiple foreign languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Lithuanian. 

    His latest project, A Nomad River, is a docu-fiction feature written, produced and directed by Aditya.  “[A Nomad River] is a blend of fictional and non-fictional narrative … This is a personal struggle of four ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, as they travel across India, an ancient civilization struggling with climate change, water crisis, poverty, and hygiene issues.”Aditya says of the film. The film takes place in India and follows four characters: Adriana, a refugee from crisis-hit Venezuela, Kankana, an Indian actress working in Hollywood, Suraj, a street cleaner from a slum in Rajasthan, and Ravi who is a television news reporter from Jaipur. 

    “We journey with them as they travel across India, an ancient civilization struggling with climate change, water crisis, poverty, and hygiene issues,” explained Aditya. “One of the storylines in the film portrays Isha Foundation’s Rally for Rivers, a pan India water-conservation drive supported by the Government of India and endorsed by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Shahrukh Khan.”

     

    Patwardhan is known for his collaborations with other NYFA Alumni. And the Dream that Mattered features a number of NYFA alumni including Acting for Film alumni Themo Melikidze and Jongman Kim and Anup Kulkarni from NYFA One-Year Cinematography.

    Aditya J. Patwardhan with the cast of “And The Dream that Mattered,” including NYFA alumni Themo Melikidze (second left) and Jongman Kim (third left).

    “Almost all the projects I have done have had important team members who were from NYFA and I had collaborated with them first when I was doing school projects. That just stresses how important good collaborations are and the crucial role NYFA plays.”

    A Nomad River was no different. He enlisted the talents of former classmates Kankana Chakraborty, from the 2014 MFA Acting for Film program, and cinematographer is Anup Kulkarni, from the 2014 Cinematography program. Many of the other crew members are also from NYFA.

    A Nomad River is now streaming on Amazon Prime and AppleTV!

    NYFA congratulates Aditya on the completion of A Nomad River! We look forward to seeing more of his work and future NYFA collaborations!

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  • Meet NYFA Cinematography Instructor & ASC Member Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

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    At New York Film Academy, the faculty is an incredibly talented group of artists that teach the next generation of filmmakers and creators all while being active members in their industry. For NYFA Cinematography instructor Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC, this is no exception. 

    Maddox-Upshaw has lensed fan-favorite shows like Empire, Snowfall, Tales, and On My Block, to name a few, and teaches 35MM, Advanced Lighting, and Stage to Screen for Actors in NYFA’s Cinematography department. 

    Maddox-Upshaw first got interested in the world of lensing and cinematography when his sister Kyla got him on set as a Production Assistant for a Hype Williams music video when he was 19 years old. “I saw how the Cinematographer worked with everyone and created such beautiful images and I already liked photography,” he shared. “I was like, ‘I want to do what he does’ and I set out to learn what I could even though my college didn’t have a film program and really no film studies.”

    Photo courtesy of Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

    From there, Maddox-Upshaw notes that the documentary film Visions of Light inspired him even further to pursue a career in cinematography, and the NYFA instructor began picking up work between his Boston hometown and New York City while continuing to further his education in cinematography. His work for commercial clients like Ford, Allstate, and HBO, to name a few, helped develop working relationships which led Maddox-Upshaw to eventually work alongside visionaries like Spike Lee and Matthew Libatique, ASC.

    He provided VFX additional photography on A Star Is Born, and worked on the second unit for Straight Outta Compton, both shot by Libatique, and shot additional photography on feature films Grown Ups 2, Beyond the Lights, and The Circle. Maddox-Upshaw also served as the director of photography (DP) for Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, Hello Beautiful: Interludes with John Legend, Fixed, and more.

    Photo courtesy of Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

    Recently, Maddox-Upshaw was recognized by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and was welcomed as a member of the ASC. The distinguished honor is one that names Maddox-Upshaw among the legacy of celebrated directors of photography over the last 100 years.

    “Becoming part of the ASC has been a goal of mine since the time I really started to study and read American Cinematographer Magazine and watch Visions of Light when I was about 20 years old,” revealed Maddox-Upshaw.

    For his students and aspiring cinematographers, Maddox-Upshaw encourages them to study more than what’s on the other side of the lens to become a good DP. 

    “Study the art of understanding good screenplays. understand the Black and White of the page so then you can make the correct emotional decision from what is written. Try and watch a movie a day; it makes a difference after a couple of years of doing it. You can recall so much and understand why certain things in cinema work,” Maddox-Upshaw explained. 

    No one can dream bigger for you. You have to enjoy the process of your own journey you should want to be on set and learn from other people. You can learn this on your own and don’t be afraid to make mistakes especially in a learning environment.”

    In addition to teaching at NYFA, Maddox-Upshaw recently photographed Season 6 of the Fox drama Empire. Additional credits from Maddox-Upshaw include season three of the FX drama Snowfall, season two of Netflix’s On My Block, and season one of the Netflix comedy Huge in France

    New York Film Academy congratulates Maddox-Upshaw on his recent induction into the ASC and is excited to have the opportunity for Maddox-Upshaw to continue to teach NYFA students about what it means to be a director of photography.

    To learn more about NYFA’s Cinematography programs, click here

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    February 23, 2021 • Cinematography, Community Highlights, Diversity, Faculty Highlights • Views: 2075

  • Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke Lenses Upcoming “FAUCI” Doc For National Geographic

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    UPDATE: NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke is Director of Photography (DP) for the new series Land of the Giants: Titans of Tech premiering on CNN+.

    At New York Film Academy (NYFA), our instructors are not only teaching the next wave of filmmakers and creatives alike but are out focusing on their own work and setting up the shot for the next big film. In this case, veteran cinematographer Claudia Raschke is no different, having lensed yet another prominent documentary film, FAUCI from National Geographic Documentary Films. 

    The New York-based Documentary Filmmaking instructor is known for shooting the Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning documentary RBG, the Oscar-nominated film God is Bigger Than Elvis, the Peabody Award-winning film Black Magic, the Oscar short-listed Mad Hot Ballroom, The Freedom to Marry, and many more. 

    Behind the scenes of “FAUCI” (National Geographic Documentary Films)

    Her latest project will see Raschke as the DP on the highly anticipated documentary FAUCI, directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias. The film will follow epidemiologist and famed White House COVID-19 pandemic advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, offering a glimpse into his career and life as a public servant who has advised seven U.S presidents from the start of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s through SARS, Ebola, and now COVID-19. 

    The film was announced on February 4, 2021, with special appearances listed like Bono, former President George W. Bush, Bill Gates, etc., and as of October 6, 2021, it is available to stream on Disney+.

    NYFA instructor Claudia Raschke on set

    Raschke’s year is just getting started, as her feature documentary work on My Name is Pauli Murray recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and the 2021 premiere of Julia (CNN /Imagine Entertainment) on the horizon. Raschke’s new spy documentary, Codebreaker, aired this past January and is currently streaming after airdate on PBS’ American Experience.

    “Capturing the big and the small moments of the amazing world we live in feeds my passion for the art of cinematography. Equally important is that I bear witness to and document the unique stories that unfold before my eyes in a way that dismantles barriers, opens doors, and reveals the truth. I believe that filming intuitively, honestly and without inhibition is a journey that requires a compassionate heart and the ability to see and hear what lies beneath the surface.” – Claudia Raschke, DP

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking’s Documentary Division Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke on all of her upcoming projects and looks forward to sharing more about the FAUCI documentary upon its release later in 2021. 

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  • Cinematography Instructor Mark Sawicki Featured in ‘Deadline’ and Discusses New Book “Filming the Fantastic with Virtual Technology” Bringing Movie Magic Solutions

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    As many TV and film productions are grappling with new social distancing guidelines and reassessing working with extras for crowd scenes, New York Film Academy Cinematography instructor for NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, Mark Sawicki, says VFX is here to help.

    Sawicki is a Clio-winning VFX and opticals artist, who has worked on incredible titles from The Dark Knight Rises and Bullet to the Head, to Tropic Thunder, 3:10 to Yuma and X-Men, among several others. Recently featured in Deadline, Sawicki shared how productions will increasingly begin to look to VFX to solve the challenging situations for making safer productions and creating scenes with crowds where multiple extras on set are typically needed.  

    Courtesy of Mark Sawicki

    Using examples from titles like Casanova, Dracula, Gladiator, Pan Am, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, and more, Sawicki explains different VFX and even practical effects that can make movie magic for keeping sets safer. He also elaborated that background actors are still integral to filmmaking, but safety will need to take precedent. “I think background actors are very important. You know, this is a moving target as we’re adapting.”

    Sawicki is the co-author with Juniko Moody of the recently released book Filming the Fantastic With Virtual Technology: Filmmaking on the Digital Backlot. Like his interview with Deadline explains, Sawicki and Moody outline some of the most ambitious evolutions in digital effects in filmmaking and the new and exciting developments in digital cinematography with their new book, ultimately providing solutions for how VFX can help solve many of the challenges arising as crews look to return to work on COVID-safe sets.

    To read the full article on Deadline, click here. Sawicki’s book has recently been released and is now available on Amazon and Kindle. 

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    November 11, 2020 • 3D Animation, Cinematography, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1768

  • NYFA Cinematography Alum & Rapper Sapra on Single “Haiwan” and Shooting a Music Video During a Global Pandemic

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    NYFA Cinematography alum-turned-rapper, Sapra, recently released his latest track “Haiwan.” Sapra, along with fellow NYFA grads Justin Knodel, Mohit Soni, and Pierre Mendoza, have been making the most of their time in quarantine by producing the music video for “Haiwan.” 

    Originally from New Delhi, India, and currently based in Los Angeles, Sapra is known for fusing Bollywood rhythms with contemporary Hip-Hop sounds with lyrics that address social issues like body positivity, drug abuse, human rights, and more universal themes like love. The rapper’s latest track “Haiwan” (Translated to “Devil” in Hindi) is now available on major streaming platforms, with the video also available on video platforms like YouTube.

    The video for the newly released track centers around COVID-19 and the response from countries throughout the world, specifically the U.S. and China. The sound is ferocious with Sapra’s rapping vocals and lyrics focus on themes of unity and love in the face of the global pandemic. A Cinematography alum from NYFA, Sapra’s video pays special attention to the imagery with eye-catching visuals for the viewer to experience the essence of human diversity and how our common humanity is the unifying factor in these unprecedented times.

    “In India millions of people were on the street, unemployed, sick, walking over 200 miles to get back to their hometowns,” shared Sapra when asked about what inspired him for the track. “Justin Knodel, also an NYFA graduate, rang me up and said ‘why are you not doing something, let’s shoot something together.’ I then called my music partner Sharad Tripathi and he wrote the lyrics immediately. I collaborated with my neighbor, Apiwe Bubu, and my mentor, Ara Torosyan, who are music producers and we had a song in 8 hours.” 

    He continued, “My friend Mohit Soni (Also a NYFA alum) helped Justin shoot this project. It was a small crew due to COVID-19 and they both nailed it despite those limitations,” revealed Sapra. “Mohit created some amazing lighting schemes and also helped me co-produce this video. I personally went 9 times to the location to get shots and the location was a 4-hour drive back and forth from Burbank.”

    Behind the scenes of the “Haiwan” shoot (Photo courtesy of Sapra)

    With the location for the shoot being filmed in the desert, Sapra reveals it was chosen to show the “emptiness, barrenness, and roughness” that surrounds the lyrics and purpose of the song itself. “The land showed how people are feeling out of place and we played off the idea that there is little life left. The diversity of the characters in the music video helped to bring a global element to the song making the message of the song much more universal and relatable.”

    The rapper hopes that the song helps listeners feel the need to stand up for justice. “We must do something to act in a just and kind manner to this global pandemic,” he encourages. “We must have compassion for our neighbor, have a dialogue with people who are suffering, do something about climate change and subside the greed, anger, and foolishness within this world.”

    The energetic and socially-conscious artist has more up his sleeve and has also recently released singles “Coco” and “High on Love,” for which the alum also has also released music videos.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CHVVhohhxrl/

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    November 10, 2020 • Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1540

  • NYFA Los Angeles Cinematography Students Adapt to New Hybrid Model in Creative Stage Lighting Workshop

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    As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, New York Film Academy continues to show how its adapting to delivering an applied arts education. The Cinematography department on the Los Angeles campus has taken an updated approach to the “Stage Lighting Workshop” course using practical components integrated with remote instruction.

    Production design instructor Francis Pezza created a set for a modern urban apartment to be built on Stage 5 at TBS Studios (former home of NBC), down the hall from the famous soundstage where Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show.

    The apartment design features a spacious floor plan that incorporates a living room, kitchen, and bedroom. The layout allows students a great degree of flexibility in designing shots and creating a variety of lighting schemes. Additionally, the set features a large window that looks out onto a 50-foot translight backing of the New York City skyline. The backing can be lit for either day or night, and allows the Cinematography students to incorporate a greater sense of depth and dimension in their photography.

    Following the set build, department chair Anthony Richmond ASC, BSC and Cinematography instructor Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC began their workshops with the MFA and One-Year Cinematography students. Each student is instructed to choose a reference image, which will first be analyzed by the class, and then used as inspiration in creating a new shot and lighting setup.

    The instructors and the students worked remotely, relaying their instructions to a group of TA’s on set, who followed the students’ directions, placing and shaping the lights as instructed, and executing the cinematographer’s vision for the shot. The students were encouraged to incorporate camera movement into their visual design, utilizing the available space to best effect.

    Throughout the workshop, the students learned new techniques for lighting, shot design, and moving the camera. This hybrid model of remote instruction with practical elements proved successful in delivering the goals of the workshop.

    Reflecting on the class, Richmond said:

    “I was pleased with the success of this workshop. Working remotely proved very effective. I was with the students on Zoom, where we could all see each other, and the image from the Red camera as the students lit the set. We had additional cameras showing us what was happening on set, including a bird’s eye view of the entire stage. The crew worked well together, and the students were able to accomplish many unique shots.”

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