Documentary Filmmaking
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  • Q&A with NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum Anna Khromova

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    The boom microphone first appeared on a film set in 1929 and since then it has been an indispensable part of audio film production. Though it looks simple, (holding a boom mic out of frame, making sure it doesn’t fall on someone’s head, etc.) operating a boom mic requires technique and precision. Boom Operators work closely with production sound mixers by operating boom microphones, selecting and placing radio microphones, and maintaining the audio equipment. New York Film Academy (NYFA) 6-Week Documentary Filmmaking alum-turned-faculty Anna Khromova has been working as a boom operator since completing the program. Since her time as a student, her projects include work alongside notable names including Neil Patrick Harris and Gigi Hadid.

    Anna Khromova spoke with NYFA about her role as a boom mic operator, her work out routine and what it takes to work on set with boom mics.

     

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What brought you to New York?

    Anna Khromova (AK): At some point in my life, I found myself too comfortable and decided I needed a challenge. So I quit my engineering job at a construction company in Moscow, where I worked as a Project Manager, and decided to explore other places. Moscow is a huge, vibrant city with a crazy fast pace of life. So when I was picking my destination, I looked for a city with the same kind of energy, if not more energetic and energizing. New York seemed like an obvious choice. And as you can see, the city still keeps inspiring me.

    NYFA: Do you enjoy being a boom operator?

    AK: Being a boom operator is a very challenging job, physically and mentally. You can ask my students and they would absolutely agree. So, it would be impossible for me to do my job without being absolutely in love with it. Production Sound Mixing is a very special profession. We are among a few first people who watch a film before anyone else. It is a truly special moment to witness a great performance so up-close and to be able to hear every little nuance of its sound.

    NYFA: What made you fall in love with the boom?

    AK: I fell in love with sound while I completed the 6-week Documentary program at the New York Film Academy. I was fascinated by how colorful and magnificent the world around us sounds through a microphone. I was hooked immediately and never looked back. While in school, I realized that something I enjoyed the most was actually being on a film set. So, I started to look more in-depth into the crew positions specifically that were not directing, production, or editing. The production sound team seemed like an obvious choice: I really loved doing it, I could afford to buy the whole sound gear package from the very beginning, and the demand is constant and only keeps growing.

    I also love that my job quite literally takes me places; because of sound I found myself standing on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial in front of thousands of people during the historic March on Washington for the feature length documentary Black Girls Ride, in a middle of the desert at the Joshua Tree Park shooting a horror feature film Falling Stars, and in the train that was rented to run between New York and New Jersey for hours to shoot a scene for The Inspection by Elegance Bratton. 

    NYFA: How did you become a NYFA instructor?

    AK:New York Film Academy – NY Chair of Cinematography Piero Basso texted me that the school was looking for a new Sound Instructor and that he and Andrea Swift, the Chair of Filmmaking and Documentary departments, thought that I would be the perfect match. I could not have been more happy and honored to hear that. Andrea always was one of my favorite teachers at NYFA and a role model.

    After graduation, I worked on over 300 different projects, including feature-length narrative and documentary films, TV shows for major TV channels, pilots, short films, music videos, commercials, corporate videos. Now, as a teacher, I have all kinds of stories to illustrate every aspect of sound recording and boom operating to my students. 

    NYFA: What’s the one piece of equipment you can’t live without?

    AK: This is the easy one. It’s my “blue” mic or Schoeps CMIT 5U Shotgun microphone. I can change recorders, wireless systems, and boompoles, but as long as I have this microphone on me, I am confident that I will make everyone, including the post-production crew, happy with my sound.

    NYFA: What’s the hardest part of being a boom operator? 

    AK: The hardest part of my job is waiting. Waiting on lights, waiting on talent, waiting on reset of the set.  We do a lot of waiting and it’s what I struggle with the most. When I am running behind the Steadicam operator, booming a scene, recording an interview, I am doing the job I love and fully engaged in the process. I don’t have a specific arms routine, but I enjoy climbing a lot. I think climbing and bouldering are two perfect activities for those who want to strengthen their arms and upper body. It’s a great combination of stretching and muscle.

    NYFA: Who’s been your favorite fashion icon you’ve worked with on set so far?

    AK: This is a hard question since I was fortunate to work with many talented designers and models. But yes, I do have my favorites. Don’t tell anyone. I love working with Gigi Hadid! She is a hard worker and the sweetest person. And believe me, after 12-hour shifts, it becomes obvious who is a nice one. Of the designers, I admire Peter Dundas, who let us in his magical world of fashion for the documentary TV series that we were shooting during New York Fashion Week. It takes a lot of nerve and patience to let a film crew follow your every step during the most important and stressful event of a year. 

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on right now?

    AK:This week, I am covering a statue opening in Madame Tussaud Museum, recording several interviews for the documentary film, and shooting 2 commercials. And I still have one day off, which is exciting because not all of my weeks have days off. No complaints here; as you may remember, I love being on a film set!

    NYFA: Anything we missed you’d like to speak on?

    AK: I would like to say thank you to [New York Film Academy] for asking these questions and sharing my story. I think it essential to share our stories with new filmmakers who are just at the beginning of their careers and might have a lot of doubts about themselves. When I enrolled at NYFA, I didn’t have any experience in film and had very minimal knowledge about the film industry in general. But I dared to try and now, I couldn’t be happier about that decision. I also post a lot of videos from film sets on my social media, not only to share some tips and tricks on recording sound but, first of all, to show that if I could do it, you can do it too.

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    May 9, 2022 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 183

  • 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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  • NYFA Accepting Applications for 2022 One-Year Conservatory, MFA & Short programs in Documentary Filmmaking

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is accepting applications for 2022 One-Year Conservatory, MFA and Short programs in Documentary Filmmaking.

    Apply now for a remaining spot in the 1-Year Conservatory in Documentary Filmmaking starting in Fall 2022.

    The 1-Year Conservatory in Documentary Filmmaking is the flagship program of NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking Division.

    • Learn to make films by making films.
    • One-year intensive and extremely hands-on.
    • Award-winning filmmakers teach new filmmakers through workshops, lectures and real-time mentoring as students make their own films.
    • Make 6 short nonfiction films and digital media pieces and develop a TV series.
    • Faculty work has won and been nominated for multiple Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, among many top honors.
    • Alumni have won an Emmy Award and been nominated for Emmy and Academy Awards. They have been honored at major film festivals around the world including Sundance, Cannes, Berlin and Toronto Film Festivals.

    NYFA accepting applications for documentary filmmaking

    Perfect for:

    Graduates of a short term NYFA Documentary Workshop

    • NYFA Documentary Workshop tuition is deducted from Conservatory Tuition.
    • Films made in the workshop can be submitted as part of an application for a Talent Based Award.

     Professionals ready to pivot and finally pursue their documentary dreams

    Alumni include former teachers, journalists, military veterans, researchers, anthropologists, and motion picture professionals of various stripes. Others have had jobs in international development, technology, criminal justice, and higher education, among many others.

     Gap Year

    •  College aged students who aren’t ready to start college can spend a year making documentary films.

     Alternative to college

    • Some students choose the Conservatory over traditional academics.
    • Single intensive year vs multi-year investment.
    • Focus solely on the practice of non-fiction filmmaking.

     Activists

    •  Make a movie, change the world (a little bit).
    • Alumni have used documentaries and nonfiction content to create real change.

     World Travelers

    • Because the world is awesome and documentary filmmaking can be an exceptional passport.

    Filmmakers

    • Many fiction filmmakers got started by making documentaries.
    • Others move back and forth between the two.

     Graduates of a different discipline

    • Students have come with degrees in business, social sciences, journalism, psychology, international studies, the arts, health sciences, and information technology, just to name a few.
    • Some use documentaries to share their vocation with a broader audience.
    • Others want an additional area of expertise.

    MFA in Documentary Filmmaking

    • Apply to our 2-Year degree program offered on the Los Angeles campus.
    • Our intensive curriculum prepares candidates with advanced knowledge about independent documentary filmmaking.
    • Apply for credits from a New York City 1-year non-degree program for advanced standing in the MFA program.
    • Fall ’22 is the next start date for the second year.

    6-Week Documentary Filmmaking Workshops

    • Start dates slated for February, May, July and September.
    • Introduction to the basics of Documentary Filmmaking.
    • Created for students who can’t take a year off for the Conservatory.
    • Some try out a workshop and before the Conservatory.
    • Graduates of Online Workshops who want an intensive, live experience.

     Online Documentary Filmmaking Workshops

    4-Week Intensive Online Programs in Documentary Filmmaking/Social Media Micro Docs

    • Start dates slated for January 10th, March 7th, May 9th, June 6th, July 5th, August 1st, and September 6th.
    • Introduction to the basics of Documentary Filmmaking & Micro Docs.
    • Created for students who aren’t able to travel to NYC for an in-person program.
    • Learn how to use your smartphone to shoot 3 documentary films or micro docs.

    15-Week Part Time Online Programs in Documentary Filmmaking/Social Media Micro Docs

    • Start dates slated for January 10th, May 2nd and August 29th
    • Introduction to the basics of Documentary Filmmaking & Micro Docs
    • Created for students who aren’t able to travel to NYC for an in-person program
    • Learn how to use your smartphone to shoot 3 documentary films or micro docs

    To learn about all of NYFA’s Documentary Filmmaking programs, visit the Documentary School website. Ready to apply? Click here to submit your application.

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    November 29, 2021 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1152

  • Nika Nikanava’s ‘Generation 328’ Wins Best Student Short at 2021 Woodstock Film Festival

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    Generation 328

    Screen still from Nika Nikanava’s short film, ‘Generation 328’

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking graduate, Veranika (Nika) Nikanava, won “Best Student Short” at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival with her short film, Generation 328.

    After passing in a tragic hiking accident in Alaska before she could see the film fully finished, Nika’s classmates and other graduates from the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking program worked together to complete the film and submit it to film festivals on her behalf.

    Veranika Nikanava

    Veranika Nikanava (above), NYFA Filmmaking student and posthumous winner of “Best Student Short” at the Woodstock Film Festival

    Anna Panova, one of Nika’s classmates, worked on post production and production of the film. Panova shared that for the graduates supporting the film, “it was important to work on this film as a memory and tribute to Nika’s life. It’s not about us, it’s about her… and making sure that the work of her life is getting proper recognition and is not forgotten. Even though she’s not with us anymore, her work continues to live.”

    Generation 328 is a character-driven documentary following a group of mothers as they defy Europe’s last dictatorship, fighting to free their children from draconian sentences in brutal Belarusian prisons. Under article 328, it is common for young Belarusians to spend around ten years in prison for possession of less than a gram of marijuana. 

    Film Poster for Generation 328

    Film poster for ‘Generation 328’

    The story of Generation 328 is also one that was very personal to Nika. Originally from Belarus, she had a deep passion for telling stories about unheard heroes and was deeply concerned about human rights issues in her home country. Many of Nika’s acquaintances had been detained or knew someone that had been detained under article 328.

    The film had its world premiere at DOC NYC in 2020 and has since been screened at festivals around the world, including the Anchorage International Film Festival, the Ghent Viewpoint Documentary Film Festival in Belgium, and the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival in Canada.

    You can read more about the film or follow Generation 328 on Instagram.

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  • 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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  • Broadcast Journalism Update – July 2021 Edition

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    There are some professional moments you never forget.

    Near the top of the list is getting your first Press Card. It is recognition that you are indeed a “journalist.”

    Earlier this year NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Hannah Palmhagen received her Press Card for the Swedish Parliament (Sveriges Riksdag). Hannah took a very non-traditional route to this moment. It was a journey of self-discovery as well as professional training.

    Former student, Meiraj Haq also took a unique route to success. He came to NYFA to sharpen his producing/reporting skills and used those skills to produce an acclaimed documentary about then-candidate and now Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. Amazingly, he became a top actor in Pakistani TV dramas! You can still see NYFA featured on Meiraj’s Facebook cover photo.

    Being nominated for an industry award is always a great honor. It is your peers going “on the record” in their praise of not just what you do, but how you do it. NYFA alum Kecia Gayle works in the challenging world of entertainment journalism. You can find her on Instagram and on Hollywood Unlocked’s own website.

    Of course, if you want to learn about fashion trends and popular culture, you just have to listen to NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Nicole Abebe on The Beat, 99.9 in Lagos. But if you want to double your knowledge, then check out (do people still say that?) the Abebe family on with the Abebes.

    Right now, we are in the middle of a typical New York City Summer. The days are hazy, hot and, humid. If you are a TV reporter, that means just one thing: visit places where people are cooling off. This is precisely what Broadcast Journalism alum Karen Hua did for News12 New York.

    Of course, even though it is Summer there are still important stories to cover (especially in the Southern Hemisphere, where it is Winter). One of the biggest stories continues to be COVID-19. Former NYFA student Fernanda Mueller has returned to Brazil, where she is working for NSC Comunicação, a Globo-affiliated company.

    “The company has a TV channel, radio station, digital and print media. I work as a multimedia reporter for digital and print. We recently made a video series about food prices. In this video, I talk about how prices of rice and beans have increased in Brazil and the state of Santa Catarina during the pandemic,” says Fernanda.

    Even the movies have a serious side, captured in all of its glory by NYFA graduate Federica Polidoro in a recent cover story in Vanity Fair Italia. Federica asked for comments from our own Broadcast Journalism Chair, Bill Einreinhofer.

    Evgenia Vlasova and Bill Einreinhofer are in the middle of producing a new Public TV documentary called Unsettled History: America, China and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid. In April 1942, the five American aviators pictured below, along with 59 of their comrades, were rescued from capture, torture, and certain death at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. The rescue mission was carried out by Chinese farmers, fishermen and militia members. These Americans either crash-landed or parachuted into rural China and survived thanks to the courageous actions of strangers in a foreign land.

    Producer Nancy Hanzhang Shen and Bill Einreinhofer shot the final interview last month, with Prof. Luo Shiping in Shangrao, Jiangxi province, China (centered in the picture below along with the local production team).

    The documentary will be distributed by American Public Television in April 2022, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid.

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  • NYFA Documentary Alum Pedro Peira Talks Upcoming Film LA Queenciañera

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    Pedro Peira is a Fulbright scholar and NYFA Documentary Filmmaking MFA graduate. Since his time as NYFA he has been active in the industry directing, producing, writing and founding his own production company, Festimania Pictures.

    The NYFA alum, who hails from Spain, first became interested in documentary filmmaking in his pre-teen years, “Whenever there was a family event I would take photos or record Hi-8 videos, initially with some help from family members and once they started to trust me, on my own.”

    Having developed a passion for documenting reality, Pedro decided pursue documentary filmmaking as a profession. “It’s a way of informing, entertaining and hopefully, promoting social change. There’s also the added benefit of not having the pressure to raise major funding for a (documentary) film project. Generally, as the costs are much higher for fiction (films), whereas you just need a story and a camera to make a documentary.”

    This decision eventually led him to apply for a Fulbright scholarship and choose NYFA as the place to hone his craft.”When I was doing all the Fulbright paperwork, prior to becoming a finalist, I was looking for a place to study documentary filmmaking and I easily contacted the documentary department at NYFA. The rest is all history.”

    Throughout his career each project has taught Pedro valuable lessons that have allowed him to grow in his profession. “I learned to delegate responsibility. In my first feature I took on most of the production roles (mainly due to budget constraints) and I have now learned to share these tasks. I’ve also transitioned to using a narrative structure so as to make the film more appealing to the audience.” As for what leads him to choose a project Pedro had this to say, “I guess what attracts me most to a project is who’s behind it. There’s people who I would work for free and, also, others who I wouldn’t work for no matter the amount. The type of project is also very important when it comes to my decision making. For me, it’s not the same to be part of a project which can lead to a change in society compared to a film which generates profit for the producers without any higher purpose behind it.”

    The Fulbright scholar has also started his own production company. “Festimania Pictures was set up in Spain 7  years ago. Although we carry out some distribution and consulting, we’re now mainly focused on documentary
    production. Our biggest successes so far have been the features Soul, which world-premiered at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival and Free Way, which world-premiered at the 2020 San Sebastian Film Festival. Both films have been widely distributed around the world and on the top-tier festival circuit.

    As for upcoming projects, Pedro has a few lined up, including the Rosario Dawson backed LA Queenciañera. “We’re finishing post-production of a film called LA Queenciañera,  of which I’m the director and producer. The movie follows LA-based, transgender, undocumented, Latina activist, Bamby Salcedo, as she prepares for an epic 50th birthday celebration, which is a deliberate queering of that traditional Latino ritual, the Quinceañera. Our executive producer is Rosario Dawson and we have the participation of Patricia Arquette, sharing the story of her sister Alexis.”

    Patricia Arquette sites with trans rights activist Bamby Salcedo and documentary filmmaker Pedro Peira

    Pedro Peira with Patricia Arquette and Bamby Salcedo

    “We’re also in development for a documentary series which explores the influence of Islam on the gastronomies of Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Spain.”

    As for advice to aspiring documentary filmmakers and NYFA students Pedro says, “work hard and enjoy what you do. Don’t worry about not having budget – if the idea is good, success (and funds) will come. Just be patient.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Pedro Peira on his success and looks forward to the upcoming LA Queenciañera.

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    June 17, 2021 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2150

  • More Than a Career Move: Filmmaking as a Medium of Truth With NYFA Documentary Alum Jia Wertz

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    Canadian native Jia Wertz exited a 20-year career in the fashion corporate world to dive into the filmmaking industry. With a background in photography and a passion for social issues and bringing a voice to the voiceless, Wertz decided it was time to answer her calling – becoming a storyteller.

    “I didn’t want to simply work at a job that was focused on making profits for a corporation without doing any good in the world for other people,” shared Wertz. With the decision to make a career shift, Wertz remembers the moment it all changed for her. “ I was at Adnan Syed’s post-conviction hearing in Baltimore and Amy Berg’s team was there filming the HBO docuseries The Case Against Adnan Syed and a light bulb just went off.”

    NYDA alum Jia Wertz

    Wertz realized that filmmaking would be something that she could do to reach a large audience and impact social change by speaking on the conflict of the institutional correction systems and the wrongfully accused.

    “I have been passionate about wrongful convictions since I was in my twenties,” revealed Wertz. “My interest in this cause began when I read Rubin Carter’s book The Sixteenth Round, and I’d wondered ever since what I could do to help people who have been unjustly imprisoned. There is something about an innocent person being silenced that really shakes me to the core. After hearing Adnan Syed’s story on the Serial podcast, I was really motivated to do something.”

    And she did. Wertz took a 6-Week Documentary Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA and went on to direct the true-crime documentary Conviction, now available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. The documentary short follows the wrongfully convicted Jeffrey Deskovic of the rape and murder of a fellow classmate at the young age of sixteen and how he fought the justice system against all odds to prove his innocence. “The film tells his story, in his own words, and sheds light not only on the shortcomings of the justice system but the physical and emotional impacts that wrongful convictions have on the lives of innocent people,” revealed Wertz.

    “I was inspired to work on this documentary because I thought it would be an effective way to spread awareness about wrongful convictions, and also because Jeff’s story is so inspirational – it’s truly a testament to the human spirit. Jeff now has a non-profit organization that helps other people who are wrongfully convicted, and by sharing his story I am able to support his organization and the work he does.”

    With a crew of NYFA students and the encouragement of NYFA instructor Kuldeep Sah Gangola, Wertz worked on the documentary during her course. “From the very first day shooting the film while I was attending NYFA, it just felt right – like I was in the right place, doing exactly what I should be doing,” shared Wertz. 

    Behind the scenes of “Conviction”

    “Every part of the process has been a learning experience and extremely enjoyable – from filming with Jeff who is such a great interviewee, to the excitement (and surprise) of being officially selected at eleven film festivals, and now to have the film streaming on Amazon Prime. I would’ve never thought that we could’ve accomplished all of this in a short year after finishing the documentary program at NYFA.”

    The documentary is a testament to Wertz’s hard work and dedication on transitioning into her true calling – being a storyteller and advocate for the unheard. “My hope is that the film spreads awareness of a cause that I think often goes unnoticed. Unless it impacts you personally, you may not even think of wrongful convictions as a major issue in our country. A very conservative estimate is that about 2-5% of people incarcerated in the US are wrongfully imprisoned. At this rate, it could mean tens or even hundreds of thousands of people – the numbers are staggering.” 

    Jeffrey Deskovic and Jia Wertz (“Conviction”)

    People are beginning to take notice of Wertz’s Conviction. From the multiple festival laurels  Wertz has received to the Emmy Award-winning show The List, people are taking note of Jeffrey’s story and Wertz’s passion to bring his voice to the forefront  – and she isn’t done yet. The NYFA alum is currently in post-production of a feature-length version of Conviction and aims to finish and distribute the film this year.

    New York Film Academy celebrates Jia Wertz’s work for her applauded first film Conviction and looks forward to seeing what story Wertz will focus on next. Conviction is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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    March 4, 2021 • Diversity, Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1887

  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Lizzie Gottlieb Featured by ‘Insider’ to Talk About New Film “Turn Every Page”

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    NYFA Documentary instructor Lizzie Gottlieb has been directing film and theater in New York for the past couple of decades. As a director, Gottlieb has worked with Peter Dinklage, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Amy Ryan, Michael Ian Black, Justin Kirk, Francie Swift, Josh Hamilton, Sara Ramirez, and more. Recently, Gottlieb got to work with another talent, notable editor, writer, and father to Gottlieb, Robert Gottlieb.

    (L-R) Robert Gottlieb and Robert Caro (Photo courtesy of Lizzie Gottlieb)

    The documentary, Turn Every Page, follows Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro and his 50-year argument and relationship with his editor, Robert Gottlieb (Robert), as they work towards completing a final book. The documentary from Gottlieb is an ode to the work of Caro and Robert over the last 50 years as Robert (89) awaits Caro (85) to complete his much-anticipated fifth volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson.

    “They are not slowing down because of their age,” Gottlieb told Insider in an interview about the project. “I think they both feel the enormous weight to finish [the final LBJ] book. I very much wanted this to be a story about them finishing their life’s work, not just a retrospective of their lives and how impressive they are.”

    The documentary film will also feature interviews from Ethan Hawke, Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker editor David Remnick, and former president Bill Clinton, who will make remarks of the impact of Caro and Rober’s work over the past 50 years. Gottlieb shared that most of the filming of the documentary was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the interview featuring former president Clinton was done recently over Zoom.

     

    NYFA instructor Lizzie Gottlieb

    Gottlieb is also known for her documentary Today’s Man, which aired on PBS and screened at festivals and conferences all over the world. Her film Romeo, Romeo was honored with the prestigious Excellence in Documentary Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association (NLGJA).  

    New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking instructor Lizzie Gottlieb on her latest achievement, Turn Every Page, and encourages everyone to check out her latest documentary when it becomes available later this year. 

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    March 2, 2021 • Documentary Filmmaking, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1999

  • 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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