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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: 467

  • 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: 384

  • 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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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum and Cinematographer, Arjun Ravi, on Communicating with the Director, Shooting Action Sequences, and the Malayalam Film Industry

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    In pre-production and during a shoot, Arjun Ravi has one of the toughest jobs for a film; communicating a director’s vision to the audience as a cinematographer. Like other DP’s (Director of Photography), he is tasked with giving the audience an accurate portrayal of the director’s ideas, characters, settings, and emotions, which are integral elements for any film. 

    Originally from the state of Kerala in Southern India, Ravi graduated from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus in 2017 after completing a 1-Year Conservatory Program for Cinematography. “NYFA has great exposure to many renowned lecturers and guests from the industry,” he says, “which got me interested to join the course even more.” 

    After graduating, Ravi brought the hands-on skills he learned in his cinematography course back to India with him, where he has gone on to shoot three feature films and is currently in production on another. 

    Official film poster for ‘The Kung Fu Master’

    One of Ravi’s more recent films, The Kung Fu Master (Directed by Abrid Shine) is a vengeful action film shot in Auli, India, where Ravi remembers filming for four months in negative degree temperatures with a short amount of time for shooting in daylight (8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.). The film itself was martial arts heavy, requiring an even more specialized way for Ravi to shoot since he was capturing action sequences. Ravi, who shot the action-packed film with a handheld camera, describes filming each scene for The Kung Fu Master as a “breathtaking” experience.

    “Each scene had to be captured in multiple angles in very few takes, as the actors would get extremely exhausted very quickly due to the lack of oxygen.” In addition to the meticulous detail for shooting the action sequences, Ravi also focused on capturing the environment for the film to convey the director’s tone and sense of place. “A lot of historical places were captured in the film to bring out the beauty of the state [in India] where we were filming.” 

    From the fast-paced action of The Kung Fu Master, Ravi then pivoted to his next project, Vaanku, which was “a completely different style of story compared to The Kung Fu Master.” Ravi worked alongside female director Kavya Prakash to tell a more concentrated, character-driven story about four ambitious young women in a coming-of-age drama. 

    “We shot the feature in 29 days. The lighting felt more sophisticated, yet simple at the same time, which gave the movie the look it needed.” Vaanku, which was originally slated to be released in 2020, has since pushed back its release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    All of Ravi’s feature films that he has shot are all considered part of the Malayalam film industry. “Malayalam, to those who may not know, is a language spoken in the southern part of India majority in Kerala, also known as “God’s own country.” Ravi shares that the Malayalam film industry is well known for its scripted films and famous actors, including Mohanlal (Manjil Virinja Pookkal, Rajavinte Makan) and Mammooty (New Delhi). Other well known films that have come from the Malayalam film industry include Kalapani (1996), Manichitrathazu (1993), Killukkum (1991), and many more. 

    As for what’s next for Ravi, he is currently in production on his latest film, Jillampeppere. He also shares that some of the best advice to becoming a great cinematographer is focusing on your lighting, framing, and, most importantly, knowing what the director needs. 

    Arjun Ravi shooting ‘The Kung Fu Master’

    “I listen to the story a few times from the director before we head out for some location scouting.” Ravi notes that there are additional discussions surrounding topics like “the color pattern we would use on the house, for the film as a whole, and the other properties involved with the film.” One of the final parts of Ravi’s process with the director includes making “the shot division [list] according to the dates of the location and the actors, while also taking into account whether there are any action scenes or any kids on the set that day; which means we will need have more time and care.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Cinematographer Arjun Ravi on his success in the Malayalam film industry and looks forward to seeing more from the NYFA alum in the coming future.

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  • NYFA Instructor and Cinematography Chair, Piero Basso, Shoots Critically Acclaimed Film ‘Working Man’

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    Like many films slated for a 2020 release, the low-budget indie film, Working Man, had to cancel its theatrical release due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The film then opted to be released on streaming platforms like Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu and Fandango Now. NYFA instructor and Cinematography Chair, Piero Basso, spoke with NYFA about his work as the Director of Photography (DP) and how Working Man is the film many need right now.

    Working Man centers around factory worker Allery Parker who, after many years in the workforce, finds himself out of a job and attempts to cope with his newfound unemployment. Eventually Parker’s existence takes a turn as he leads his former co-workers in a secret crusade to pressure their bosses to reopen their former work facility. For the first time, Parker feels like the man in charge. However, when truths are revealed, Parker must confront the loss and pain he’s been working so hard to avoid.

    Official film poster for ‘Working Man’

    Piero Basso’s work as a DP on Working Man was hailed by Hollywood Reporter, saying the “sense of place is well captured by cinematographer Piero Basso.” Basso first got involved in the project after connecting with Tara Tovarek, a producer Basso worked with when shooting the National Geographic series American Genius.She [Tovarek]  felt I had the right personal approach [for the production] considering this was the director’s first feature film and he [Director Rober Jury] needed not only the proper technical support, but someone to confront his vision without being overwhelmed by the experience.” 

    Basso explains that he was also interested to work on the project because it reminded him of personal struggles that he has experienced growing up in Turin, Italy. “It was the center of the industry manufacturing for companies like FIAT, and it has seen a steady and painful decline over the years.” Basso shares. “I have always been fascinated by factories and industrial buildings, as well as the manual work. Visually, it has always intrigued me because of the metal, the reflections, the coldness of the structures, often mixed with the warmth of the work (fire, furnaces, machine executing tasks).”

    Still from ‘Working Man’ (Cinematographer: Piero Basso)

    For Basso, Working Man, at its core, is a humane story grounded in reality that is “able to focus on the main character’s emotions in a non superficial way.”

    For cinematographers, it is a common trait for DPs to leave their personal artistic mark on a project. For Basso, he leaves his mark in a different way. “I personally find it more interesting if my mark is achieved without bringing a special attention to the cinematography, but instead allowing it to disappear in a full integration in the narrative storytelling.”

    While working alongside the director and screenwriter for Working Man [Robert Jury], Basso had several sessions with Jury to discuss the visual concept of the film. “We both felt that this film needed to be approached with a very strong agreement between us on how we wanted to portray the film.” 

    Still from ‘Working Man’ (Cinematographer: Piero Basso)

    Due to the quick 20 day shoot, Basso recalls, “I approached every scene with a sense of urgency to deliver as much as possible space to the actor/director team to bring their characters to life.” Basso also shared that the film was shot on Arri Alexa using Master Prime lenses, a luxury in many cases for mid/low budget films like Working Man.”This allowed us to shoot with a much smaller lighting set up than traditional films.”

    Like many filmmakers, some shoots don’t always go as expected. Basso recalls that portraying the small town of Joliet, IL, while actually shooting in Chicago, IL, made it tough to find locations as the production needed to convey a sense of community that felt realistic to show a sense of community. 

    This sense of community was essential in “showing the powerful capacity of different people to rally together and become, out of many, one entity and how the strength of the group is much stronger than each other’s weakness.”

    Still from ‘Working Man’ (Cinematographer: Piero Basso)

    Basso also notes that the project and sense of place needed to feel authentic. “I loved to see the wrinkles, the imperfections in the skin, and the bodies and ethnicities reflecting a true average of society instead of the Hollywood version of it.” 

    At a time when many around the world are out of a job and America has reached an unemployment level that rivals the Great Depression, Working Man has been released as a poignant time. “Now, with COVID-19 and millions of people losing jobs and the entire society completely shaken up, Working Man is more relevant than ever,” says Basso. “As a character says in the movie ‘a person needs a job to survive, but you need work to feel like you are worth something,’ and I believe today this is a feeling many people can share.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA instructor and Chair of Cinematography, Piero Basso, on his latest cinematography achievement and encourages everyone to check out Working Man, now available to view on demand.

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    June 10, 2020 • Cinematography, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1735

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Writer, Actress, and Director Naomi McDougall Jones to Discuss New Book ‘The Wrong Kind of Women’

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    On March 3, the Cinematography Department at New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) New York campus was extremely excited to welcome Naomi McDougall Jones to kick off the celebration of Women’s History Month with a frank and remarkable conversation on the condition of Women in Cinema, Television and the Entertainment Industry at large. 

    Naomi McDougall Jones is a talented actress turned screenwriter. Out of the necessity of writing characters and stories more in line with the female perspective, she began to explore that longing, which was hard to find in an industry dominated by the male approach. With the realization that the issue was bigger than simply finding the energy and commitment to write such stories, she became an activist initially with her viral Ted Talk and subsequently published her book The Wrong Kind of Women – Inside Our Revolution to Dismantle the God of Hollywood

    Naomi McDougall Jones introduces book ‘The Wrong Kind of Women’ at NYFA New York campus

    Jones recently brought her wisdom and years of deeply documented research to a room full of NYFA’s very own community of filmmakers, actors, producers and many others involved in the industry. One of her first points, looking at the room and the people that came to the presentation, was how, when looking exclusively at film schools around the country, one would assume the problem of representation for female filmmakers doesn’t exist. Female filmmakers, in this definition, meaning the whole group in front of and behind the camera. Female filmmakers consist of slightly more than 50% of the population of today’s cinema educational world, but after analyzing the data, there is a deep discrepancy between the rich, diverse crowd who graduate from colleges and film schools around the globe versus the space that women actually fill in the industry itself. 

    The exhaustive research conducted by Jones for the publication of her book present numbers that are deeply troubling as they show that women represent only a minimal part of the directors hired by producers. These numbers show slightly better in television, however, but in context, this is due to the fact that the main professional figure of a TV show is not necessarily the director, but the show runner, which tends to lean overwhelmingly male. 

    Jones proceeded to explain, in detail, the principal obstacles filmmakers encounter in their quest to break into an industry that seems designed to keep them at bay, all the while white male privilege continues to prevail in the industry. Jones recalled experiencing this firsthand when getting her first feature length film made. The film, Imagine I’m Beautiful, was created out of her motivation for creating a female-driven story. As a female screenwriter and producer with a solid project in her hands, she thought it would have been at least possible to gather enough support within the industry to find a way to produce the movie. She was, unfortunately, wrong. 

    Naomi McDougall Jones discusses the film industry with NYFA creative director Liz Hinlein

    The reality of her situation kicked in faster than she thought and she found herself and her team of female creatives in a limbo, where the already complex process of financing and producing her first feature turned out to be exhaustingly more difficult due to the people in charge of the industry, the so called “Gatekeepers.”

    The lesson she learned at that time was difficult to swallow, but refreshing, as it taught her not to doubt her own talent, but instead focus on the lesson involved. Like so many women before her not having the space or voice they deserved, she began to understand the true nature of the problem. Hollywood is a system based on an “inside” and “outside” structure, similar to a high school cafeteria, where you have options for where you’d like to sit, but can only sit at the table where you are allowed to sit. It’s a system where you immediately know who the “cool people” are- those that are admired, watched and followed by the generic population. 

    In Hollywood, the “inside” world is dominated by cis white males and, for an extremely long period of time, their judgment, support, and approval has been the only way to cross the room and take a seat at “the table.” Fear of being quickly thrown “outside” and losing your spot in the “golden” and “glamorous” world of Hollywood has often pushed aside anyone willing to disrupt the status quo and change the modus operandi of the system. 

    As a result, the movie-going audience has been so accustomed to viewing stories from a male perspective that the risk of pushing for a different one can cause people to be expelled from their seat at “the table” or, rather, pushed to the “outside.” At the same time, the fear of failure has reduced, if not blocked, the possibilities for women to break into the “inside” crowd.

    Naomi McDougall Jones tells audience about the “Inside” and “Outside” Hollywood structure 

    It is an extremely complex topic, which Jones synthesized and captured in front of NYFA faculty, students, and guests in a well attended and even better discussed event. The questions from the audience went from “what can male allies do to help change the system” to “how film schools can better support their female students to allow them better opportunities for success.” Jones left a profound mark on those willing to listen, opening their eyes to what has been her experience and, along with her, the experiences of thousands of women before and after her. 

    Jones also ended the discussion with several reasons to be hopeful. While none of the principal publications in the industry (Variety, Hollywood Reporter, etc.) have dedicated a single line to her book, it has been the subject of several important discussions and articles on several platforms from NPR to the BBC, the Washington Post and even Playboy Magazine. Jones even mentioned that one of the largest corporations and producing entities in the world of television has made her book a required reading for their original content writers.

    The main takeaway of Jones’ presentation has been the necessity for women and minorities to “never let the system tell you your values” and she pushed the students to trust their artistic talent, dare to be radical, and to not sell themselves short, while always finding new ways to push into a deeply troubled industry.

    NYFA Cinematography Chair Piero Basso and Naomi McDougall Jones

    New York Film Academy thanks Naomi McDougall Jones for celebrating the launch of her new book and for discussing the important topic of jobs for women in film with our NYFA students, faculty and guests for Women’s History Month.

    Her book is available for purchase online and can also be found at NYFA’s New York campus library.

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    March 16, 2020 • Cinematography, Diversity, Guest Speakers • Views: 1380

  • Award-Winning Director & Cinematographer Liz Hinlein Joins New York Film Academy (NYFA) As Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is delighted to announce the addition of award-winning director and cinematographer Liz Hinlein to our faculty as the new Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography. Over the course of her career, Hinlein has made a name for herself in a traditionally male-dominated industry as a passionate, talented filmmaker and director of photography whose work has spanned the fields of feature film, advertising, music video and VR/AR/XR.

    Born in Philadelphia and educated in the Quaker school system, Hinlein earned her MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute and her BFA in Film & Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Hinlein’s debut feature film, Other People’s Children, earned several awards on the film festival circuit—including Best of the Fest at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and Best Director at the NYLA International Film Festival—and is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

    Liz Hinlein

    NYFA Filmmaking & Cinematography Creative Director Liz Hinlein

    Hinlein’s wealth of experience and passion for innovation makes her a perfect fit for New York Film Academy, which boasts a diverse and international student body from over 120 countries. With the film industry hungrier than ever for filmmakers and visual artists from every background, Hinlein will be an invaluable asset to NYFA Filmmaking and Cinematography students looking to express the world their stories in their own ways.

    “Stepping in to my new role as Creative Director of the Film and Cinematography departments at New York Film Academy is an exciting new challenge,” says Hinlein. “My vision is to elevate the departments and expand their reach as a dynamic creative hub for creators, filmmakers, and visionary thinkers in New York. We’re building a meeting ground where students and the creative community can nurture ideas, collaborate, and learn from one another. NYFA’s Film and Cinematography departments are a refreshing win-win for students and the industry alike.”

    Hinlein has been at the forefront of a rapidly-evolving visual medium. Recently, her VR film for Byton Auto was nominated for Best Branded Entertainment/Commercial at the 2019 CES VR Fest. In 2018 she directed Accenture’s VR film, Behind the Style, winning that same award. Most recently, Hinlein spent time China writing and directing The Dream Factory, a series of seven epic branding films for the prestigious Sichuan Film and Television University, using Google Translate to navigate her way through the country. Currently Liz is in pre-production on OSAGE ’85, a groundbreaking immersive documentary experience. 

    In television, Hinlein was selected for the DGA DDI TV Directing Program, the Sony Diversity Program and the Viacom Diversity Program. Her visual expertise comes from a background of directing commercials and music videos for top brands, including Dove, Lifetime, Revlon, Gillette, Maybelline, A&E, and MAC Cosmetics. Additionally, Hinlein has created films for superstar musicians such as Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears, and has been commissioned to photograph Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone. 

    Hinlein’s success in multiple fields also reflects NYFA’s commitment to combating gender inequality in the entertainment/media industry by educating and training more women to fill important roles on film and television sets. With a student body that is nearly 50% women, one of Hinlein’s first initiatives as Creative Director will be to form a NYFA Film Femme Club, where students can come together to inspire genuine conversation, encourage self-confidence, collaborate to create healthy media, and establish platforms that empower women to generate a positive impact on the entertainment industry.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to the exciting energy and ideas filmmaker Liz Hinlein will share with our Filmmaking and Cinematography students!

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  • New York Film Academy Cinematography Alum Shoots Awkwafina’s Award-Winning Film ‘The Farewell’

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    The Farewell Qianying Zhou & Anna Franquesa-Solano

    NYFA Alumni Qianying Zhou & Anna Franquesa-Solano

    The Farewell, the multiple award-winning drama-comedy film starring Awkwafina, was shot by director of photography and New York Film Academy Cinematography alum Anna Franquesa-Solano, with BFA Filmmaking alum Qianying Zhou working as 1st Assistant Camera.

    Both Solano and Zhou started their journeys from outside the United States. Solano originally hails from Spain and attended the 1-Year Cinematography conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2010. Zhou, who enrolled in the 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2010 before continuing her studies in the BFA Filmmaking program at NYFA-Los Angeles, is from China.

    I believe in order to grow, you have to step out of your comfort zone,” Franquesa-Solano tells NYFA. “My first big leap was moving to New York without even speaking English in order to study cinematography. A few years later I challenged myself again by shooting The Farewell, a demanding project that came with a lot of responsibility. These two have been so far some of the most important decisions of my career.”

    The Farewell Anna Franquesa-Solano

    NYFA Cinematography Alum Anna Franquesa-Solano

    These decisions have paid off, both for Franquesa-Solano and for the beautifully-shot film. The Farewell was a Grand Jury Prize nominee at Sundance before earning numerous nominations and awards, including nominations for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards and, most recently, winning top prize at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature.

    The Farewell tells the story of a Chinese family who decide not to tell their grandmother she is dying, scheduling a wedding to bring the family together before she dies. The film was written and directed by Lulu Wang and stars Awkwafina, the Queens-born rapper, comedian, producer, writer, and actress who has steadily risen in fame since appearing in films like Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. Her dramatic talent in the film earned her numerous nominations and awards as well, including a Golden Globe win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Cinematography alum Anna Franquesa-Solano and BFA Filmmaking alum Qianying Zhou on the success of The Farewell and looks forward to following their blossoming careers!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes MultiChoice Talent Factory Scholar-Filmmakers

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    New York Film Academy started off the New Year by welcoming two esteemed MultiChoice Talent Factory full scholarship winners to our hands-on, intensive 8-Week Filmmaking workshop in New York City. These winners were chosen as the top of their class at the Multichoice Talent Factory in their respective countries.

    MultiChoice Talent Factory

    Jim Miller, Mainala Silondwa, Hillary “Hillax” Lanogwa, Blake Babbitt

    The Multichoice Talent Factory is MultiChoice Africa’s flagship Corporate Social Value (CSV) initiative. It is a 12-month training program distinctly designed to train the next generation of African film and TV creatives in partnership with stakeholders across the continent and globe—including New York Film Academy. 

    The scholarship winners are Mainala Silondwa from Zambia and Hillary “Hillax” Lanogwa from Kenya. Silondwa is an emerging film director who was a production manager for the final-year MTF student film, The Painting and casting assistant, production manager and offline editor for Savannah Skies; Lanogwa is a cinematographer who was the camera operator for MTF student films Ensulo and Promises.

    “The entire New York Film Academy Filmmaking Department’s team considers it a huge honor to welcome both Mainala and Hillary,” declares NYFA instructor and Chair of Short-Term Programs, Jonathan Whittaker, “two high-caliber filmmakers who bring so much raw talent and passion into the classroom and on set, to NYFA 

    MultiChoice Talent Factory

    Blake Babbitt, Mainala Silondwa, Hillary “Hillax” Lanogwa, Jim Miller

    “These scholarships present not only the opportunity to hone Mainala’s and Hillary’s skillsets but also to positively impact their respective domestic film markets. The time-tested techniques and protocols they will learn from their Hollywood and New York experienced instructors will give them a leg up on the competition back at home. We have no doubt that after proving themselves yet again in our programs both Hillary and Mainala will go on to have enduring and successful careers in the industry.”

     written by Blake Babbitt, NYFA Associate Director of Outreach

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography Alumni Shoot Empire State Building Film

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    Isabel Padilla, recent graduate of the 1-Year Cinematography conservatory at New York Film Academy (NYFA), served as director of photography on the short film The Red Balloon, recently published on the official YouTube channel of the Empire State Building.

    Isabel Padilla

    NYFA Cinematography Alum Isabel Padilla

    The film, directed by Pedro Tamames, was the winner of a contest sponsored by the iconic New York skyscraper. Tamames submitted his ideas and storyboards a year ago, and was chosen to make the film out of all the submissions. Padilla has worked with Tamames for over three years, shooting all of his films—The Red Balloon was no exception.

    The film shot for two days in April and one in September on site at the Empire State Building. Padilla calls the shoot “a very unique and unforgettable experience for somebody who just moved to New York. The purpose of the project is to show students’ talent and to show the new Empire State facilities through a short film that everybody can enjoy. It was a great opportunity and a challenge, from which we all learned a lot through preparation and teamwork.”

    Padilla originally hails from Spain and attended the 1-Year Cinematography conservatory in Fall 2018 at NYFA’s New York campus in downtown Manhattan. She attributes her NYFA education and especially the lessons on delegating roles on set to the successful production of The Red Balloon despite its very tight schedule. 

    “Being able to delegate to other people was extremely helpful to be able to achieve the number of shots planned,” Padilla tells NYFA. “Communication is key, and both my ACs were from NYFA as well (Alejandro León and Beth Ribeiro), which, since we learned from the same place, made everything go smoother and more effectively.”

    Isabel Padilla

    NYFA Cinematography Alum Isabel Padilla

    Padilla has kept busy since graduating NYFA and is working hard to push herself both professionally and creatively. When asked what she would tell current students looking to pursue careers in cinematography, Padilla says, “My main advice is to get out there, to shoot with people you feel you have a creative connection with and to experiment with people from other atmospheres … Moreover, to create a good relationship with the director, be their friend. As a cinematographer, with a director you have to connect and see the project together as one, and to do that, you don’t just have two meetings but a full journey to get to the goal with both of you being happy and satisfied.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Cinematography alumni Isabel Padilla, Alejandro León, and Beth Ribeiro on seeing their work published by the Empire State Building and looks forward to seeing their future projects! 

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    December 30, 2019 • Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1420