Documentary Filmmaking
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  • Netflix Releases NYFA Documentary Faculty Work “Heroin(e)”

    heroin(e)_netflixA new Netflix original short documentary entitled “Heroin(e)” premieres today, Sept. 12, and a New York Film Academy instructor was instrumental in its production. Kristen Nutile, who teaches filmmaking and editing at NYFA, served as editor during the making of the film.

    “Heroin(e)” focuses on three women in Huntington, West Virginia, attempting to reverse the devastating, years-long cycle of the opiate epidemic. The film was directed by Peabody-awarding winning documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon who is a native of West Virginia. Her unique, local viewpoint allowed for a more empathetic and passionate portrayal of the issue as opposed to the many outside news outlets that have attempted to cover the epidemic.

    “When I was approached by Elaine, I was very moved by this particular problem and that is why I took on the project,” said the NYFA documentary instructor. The fact that three heroines played the lead roles in the harrowing story was also appealing to Nutile, who stated, “I loved how she was following three women trying to make a difference. I love that it was female-centric.”

    The film focuses on Fire Chief Jan Rader, Cabell County drug court Judge Patricia Keller, and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry, all of whom have taken it upon themselves to attempt to slow the devastating effects of opioid use on West Virginia.

    Nutile is an award-winning, New York-based veteran documentary editor and filmmaker. She has worked on “The Bullish Farmer,” “Deep Run,” “Unfinished Spaces” and edited a wide range of other films, documentary and otherwise. She founded Soft Spoken Films in 2001.

    Check out the trailer for the film below and watch in its entirety on Netflix. You can also learn more on the website.

    September 12, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1308

  • NYFA at IFP Week: Faculty Panel, Student and Alumni Discounts, and More

    The New York Film Academy is proud to be a sponsor of upcoming top industry gathering IFP Week, in Brooklyn from Sept. 17-21. This year, NYFA faculty will be represented on an IFP panel — stay tuned for more details as they come!
    “If you can go, go!” said NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Program Chair Andrea Swift.
    NYFA Documentary Chair Andrea Swift and Producing Chair Neal Weisman explain that IFP Week is a critical industry gathering — whether you’re a producer, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, director, or are involved in the industry in any way. It is as important for launching and maintaining careers as Sundance, and people fly in from all over the world to attend. Simply put, IFP Week is one of the most important events in the U.S. film industry.
    NYFA is proud to help sponsor it and is very pleased to share that IFP has extended a 20% discount to our alumni with special code: NYFA20.

    “IFP’s signature event, IFP Week, has expanded again this year to include numerous public screenings, talks, meet ups, and exhibitions centered on cutting-edge independent content for the big screen, small screen and Internet,” says IFP Deputy Director & Head of Programming Amy Dotson. “From our Filmmaker Magazine Talks, IFP Screen Forward Conference, Direct Access program, VR exhibitions from The Guardian, and more, our guests will have access to some of the most interesting, innovative and outspoken storytellers and leaders working today.”

    NYFA Chair of the Producing Department Neal Weisman will represent as moderator of the “Direct Access” panel: “Finding the Sales.” Neal Weisman is an award-winning film and television producer with over 20 years of international experience. Producing credits include “The Politician’s Wife” (BAFTA and International Emmy Awards for Best Drama Serial, Peabody Award), “Seeing Red” (Christopher Award), and “My Kingdom,” which starred Richard Harris in his last leading role. “Let’s Talk About Sex,” a documentary about adolescent sex in America, broadcast on TLC, digital and DVD release through New Video. Vice President, Edward Pressman Film Corporation: Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” and “Talk Radio,” Barbet Schroeder’s “Reversal of Fortune,” Taviani Brothers’ “Good Morning Babylon,” Fred Schepisi’s “Plenty,” David Byrne’s “True Stories,” David Hare’s “Paris By Night,” Alex Cox’s “Walker,” Charles Burnett’s “To Sleep With Anger,” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Blue Steel.”

    NYFA VR Instructor Caitlin Burns will appear on the IFP Panel “(Virtual) Reality Check: Bringing Filmmakers into the 21st Century.” As a transmedia producer for over 15 years, Ms. Burns has developed storyworlds and sustainable multiplatform strategies for franchises ranging from global blockbuster feature films, award-winning television shows, AAA console games and Virtual Reality. She also works with international brands, and organizations to use new media technologies to reach audiences and create impact. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Producers Guild of America’s New Media Council and Lead Instructor for 360° Filmmaking and VR Gaming at the New York Film Academy.

    IFP Week in Brooklyn, NYC Sept. 17-21, Programming to include (via official website):

    Filmmaker Magazine Talks @ BRIC

    This year’s IFP Week will kick off on Sunday, September 17th with Filmmaker Magazine Talks @ BRIC. In honor of the 100th issue of the iconic publication, programming will celebrate the creative talents and industry who have filled Filmmaker Magazine’s pages for a quarter of a century. The event will feature Editor-in-Chief Scott Macaulay in talks with 2017 Academy Award-winners Barry Jenkins & Adele Romanski (“Moonlight”), Emmy-nominated director Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), The Safdie Brothers (“Good Time”), Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”) as well as past and 2017 Filmmaker Magazine “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

    IFP Screen Forward Conference @ Made in NY Media Center by IFP

    Featuring intimate conversations with some of the most interesting, innovative and outspoken storytellers and leaders today, the program runs Monday, September 18 through Wednesday, September 20 at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Speakers include Cenk Uygur (“The Young Turks”), Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”), Mark Douglas (“The Key of Awesome!”), Anjali Sud (Vimeo CEO), Jenna Wortham (“Still Processing”) and many more!

    IFP Direct Access & Meet The Decision Makers @ Made in NY Media Center by IFP

    IFP also offers aspiring artists and entrepreneurs – as well as working professionals in the media & tech industry – direct access to top industry leaders through its Meet the Decision Makers and Direct Access tracks.

    Meet The Decision Makers

    Get face-time with some of the most exciting organizations in indie entertainment today in small group meetings with company representatives from Amazon Studios, A&E, Bleecker Street, Cinetic, First Look Media, Field of Vision, HBO, IFC, Killer Films, POV, Oscilloscope, Sony Pictures Classics, Submarine, Vimeo, and more.

    IFP Direct Access

    NEW TO IFP WEEK 2017.  Join top industry leaders for sage advice and time-saving information on how to launch your narrative feature, doc, serialized content, in intimate, small workshops with accomplished industry leaders whose expertise ranges from finding financing to digital distribution.

    NYFA students and alumni are invited to attend the prestigious independent filmmaking event. As part of our partnership, IFP is offering 20% discount to students and alumni. To purchase your ticket(s), go to the website and use the Partner Code.

     

  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Master Class Professor Jeremy Xido’s Film Selected for Spotlight on Documentary at IFP Week

    New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking master class professor Jeremy Xido’s newest documentary “The Angola Project: Detroit” was selected for this year’s Spotlight on Documentary at IFP Week in September.

    “The Angola Project: Detroit” will feature alongside over 145 documentary projects at the IFP Week event in September in Brooklyn, with nonfiction media spanning formats from feature film to web and television series. As IndieWire notes, this year marks an impressive expansion in IFP Week’s programming, with additional slots for exhibitions, guest speakers, screenings, and more.

    The Angola Project: Detroit TRAILER 2017 from CABULA6 on Vimeo.

    Jeremy Xido co-wrote and directed “The Angola Project: Detroit,” which draws on his live-performance piece “The Angola Project.” The film is centered around Xido’s return to Detroit for the first time in 20 years to perform, and, as Xido states on his official website, “The film will be a collision of the mythological Detroit in my artwork and the contemporary city currently undergoing another round of radical change. Having left as not much more than a boy, I return as a young father, hoping to find personal reconciliation and a sense of home for me and my family. But I arrive to a city engaged in a fierce battle over it’s identity. The fashionable hype around Detroit’s great turn-around is tempered by the United Nations’ citation of human rights abuses for denying citizens access to water. Bold construction projects are offset by an unprecedented number of evictions. It is a city suspended between hope and fear: the profound hope for a better future and the numbing fear that rewards reaped by some will just be the next cycle of suffering for others.”

    Xido’s work on “The Angola Project” has also inspired his TEDx Talk:

    The film also features NYFA documentary graduate Amy Wright as an associate producer. Wright is an award-winning documentarian in her own right: her film “Legacy” won Best Short at the March on Washington Film Festival, which was held at the White House in Washington D.C.

    Quoted in Filmmaker Magazine of their feature film programming, IFP Executive Director Joana Vicente says, “This year’s feature film program doesn’t shy away from tackling the controversial and key issues of our time. Art often reflects the times we live in, and this slate certainly represents a multitude of points of view and perspectives on America today. Through the lens of race, religious expression, disability, female empowerment, immigration, truth, political correctness, radical inclusion and disenfranchisement, our artists pull no punches sharing their stories, demanding attention for the visions they share.”

    For more information on the IFP Week Screenings, click here.

     

  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Alumna Andrea Blake is Associate Producer for VICE on HBO’s “Between Oil and Water”

    “Between Oil and Water” is the latest VICE on HBO piece to benefit from the inestimable talents of New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking grad and associate producer Andrea Blake.

    Along with VICE on HBO’s documentary series, Andrea Blake’s growing roster of credits includes “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: a Short Film by Spike Jonze,” “Black Market with Michael K. Williams,” and the acclaimed documentary series “Chicagoland.” Yet VICE’s “Between Oil and Water” provides a uniquely intimate look at the surprising source of a cultural and political movement that grew into one of the nation’s largest and most talked-about protests: Standing Rock, South Dakota.

    “You can’t drink oil! You can’t drink oil!” the crowd chants in “Between Oil and Water.” The film profiles some of the youth who behind the start of the national movement: 13-year-olds Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer and Alice Brown Otter  — classmates at Standing Rock Community Middle School in Fort Yates, North Dakota. It was in a culture class that a teacher asked them to write to the Army Corps of Engineers about their opinion on the pipeline, which had be rerouted to go through their reservation after the community of Bismarck, North Dakota — a predominantly white population — had cited safety concerns, and the pipeline’s trajectory was moved.

    As VICE News shows, Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer recalls thinking, “If it’s not safe for them why do they put it on our reservation? It’s like they think our lives are more expendable.” After writing for class, both students joined 30 fellow indigenous youth on an incredible 2000 mile run from North Dakota to Washington D.C. in July 2016 to hand-deliver their letters to the Army Corps of Engineers.

    This was the spark of the Standing Rock movement. According to “Between Oil and Water,” the Standing Rock protests evolved into the largest Native American protest movement in history, with 10,000 participants at its peak. Though the plans for the pipeline have not been changed, the film shows how the movement played an essential role in national debate and also had a transformative effect on the young students who played such a central part.

    Alice Brown Otter concludes that while she is disappointed that the government is moving forward with the pipeline, she tries to maintain a positive outlook. “We fight with our words, we fight with kindness, and we’re just strong.”

  • NYFA Student Documentarian Braulio Jatar Interviewed by VICE on Resistance in Venezuela

    Photo by Braulio Jatar

    There are many ways students can spend their breaks from school, but Braulio Jatar took a leave of absence from his studies in the 1-Year Documentary Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy to put his training to work in the field by documenting the current, violent protests in Venezuela.

    Currently, Jatar is one of a dedicated group of documentary filmmakers, journalists and photographers  who brave daily danger to be on the scene, documenting the upheaval and protests in his native Venezuela. The young filmmaker and activist’s work has caught the attention of VICE, who have spotlighted Jatar in an in-depth interview that shares some of the filmmaker’s powerful photographs.

    Photo by Braulio Jatar

    Jatar, who hails from the Venezuela’s capital of Caracas, told VICE, “I came back to Venezuela because I felt it was a very important moment in the history of my country, and, as a documentary filmmaker, it was essential that I was here.”

    Venezuela is in turmoil, with violent clashes occurring between the government of Nicolás Maduro and citizen demonstrators, who demand the president step down from power. There have been violent clashes between the police and the protesters, some resulting in casualties.

    VICE reports that Jatar wears a bulletproof vest, anti-gas mask, helmet, and press credentials daily when he leaves his home — where his father, a prominent journalist, is on house arrest.

    Photo by Horacio Siciliano

    Jatar ventures into the streets of Caracas to document what he sees and shares his photos and videos daily to his nearly 150,000 Instagram followers, providing a chilling inside glimpse into the chaotic situation in Venezuela, as it happens.

    Of recent violence and deaths, Jatar told VICE, “We need to take into account that the majority of those killed are young people between the ages of 15 and 18. Who is not saddened to learn that the young men facing the police and the National Guard, who are adults and have guns, are dying for simply demanding a better country?”

    Jatar’s VICE interview in its entirety is available here, and there is a translation function for those not fluent in Portuguese. While there, Jatar is also shooting a set of documentaries, one of which he plans to cut as his NYFA thesis when he returns from his leave.

  • NLGJA’s Excellence in Documentary Award Winner is “Romeo Romeo” by NYFA’s Lizzie Gottlieb

    The prestigious Excellence in Documentary Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association (NLGJA) has been awarded to “Romeo, Romeo,” a documentary feature directed by New York Film Academy documentary faculty member Lizzie Gottlieb, who produced the film together with Eden Wurmfeld and NYFA President Michael J. Young. NYFA documentary alumna Eliana Álvarez Martínez was a camera operator.

    “Romeo Romeo” follows a married lesbian couple, Lexy and Jessica, throughout their poignant  struggles with infertility as they navigate the heavy costs, medical procedures, and reproductive technology to pursue their dream of growing their family. The film aired on PBS’s “America Reframed.” World Channel, which hosts the show, notes that more than 6.5 million American women struggle with fertility issues.

    The NLGJA’s Excellence in Journalism Awards have recognized and promoted fantastic excellent coverage of issues related to the LGBTQ+ community since 1993.

    NLGJA President Jen Christensen has said, “We are thrilled each year by the work that is nominated for NLGJA’s Excellence in Journalism Awards, and this year was no different. All of the award recipients are doing their fair share to advance NLGJA’s mission of promoting fair and accurate LGBTQ coverage, and it is our privilege to recognize their outstanding work.”

    The Excellence in Documentary Award will be presented at the NLGJA convention this September in Philadelphia. “Romeo Romeo” will air again Oct. 24, 2017.

  • NYFA Instructor Joshua Belinfante on Screening “Requires Review” at Dances With Films

    NYFA Instructor and Filmmaker Joshua Belinfante

    New York Film Academy Australia Filmmaking Instructor Joshua Belinfante recently screened his short documentary “Requires Review” at the prestigious Los Angeles festival Dances With Films Festival.

    With an eye for the eccentric and surreal, Belinfante is a filmmaker and photographer who has self-produced numerous short films, crewed on feature films, TVCs, TV shows, music videos and stop motion animations in Australia, Europe, and Asia.

    “Requires Review” follows Björn Lindqvist, a “self-confessed world’s best town planner” who draws attention to urban planning issues by places placards around Stockholm that say “Granskning Erfordras” — in English, “Requires Review.” Sign bearers from around the world have begun copying Lindqvist’s strategy, even at such famous landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, Westminster, the Austrian Mountains, Canals of Amsterdam and even the Opera House, Sydney.

    We had a chance to catch up with Belinfante and hear his reflections on his recent experience at Dances With Films, and learn what inspired his film “Requires Review.”

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what drew you to become an instructor at NYFA Australia?

    JB: I’ve been making films since I was 12 years old. For me, filmmaking is more about putting a part of myself into a work rather than trying to get something out of it. Having said that, the balancing act between art and entertainment is a constant struggle of anyone in film today. I currently work in TV as a post production media manager as well as an independent film producer/director. I operate my own production companies Belinfante Photography and FineSilver Media, where I shoot, produce, edit and direct content for various clients.   

    I was drawn to becoming an instructor at NYFA because I wanted to give something back to the next generation of hungry filmmakers. Perhaps there was something I could show them that I was never told when I was in film school. I wanted to teach them the most relevant skills & know-how to help get them a foothold into the film & TV industry.

    Björn Lindqvist in “Requires Review”

    NYFA: As a filmmaker and photographer, how does your approach to your work change in different mediums?

    JB: The medium is always the message. Whether I am taking a photo of someone or making a documentary about someone, you are always trying to capture the essence of the individual. Part of that process involves communicating a value, belief or an aesthetic to an audience. If I am making a docu-fiction or a narrative drama I will still approach the story with the same eyes and the same questions. What am I making? Why am I making it? Who am I making it for? What do I want them to get out of it? Is what I am making real, or unreal?

    NYFA: What would you say is your teaching style as a film instructor?

    Björn Lindqvist

    JB: I always hone in on the needs of each individual learner. Having been trained as a teacher since 2008 I am aware of how to facilitate an environment for learning. Everyone learns differently, some through listening, some through reading, but for most people it’s getting up and doing and making mistakes.

    Unfortunately a lot of industry professionals know their craft back to front but struggle with communicating this in a way that is understandable for students from all walks of life and backgrounds.

    I encourage making mistakes and failing spectacularly so that you can get back up your feet, dust yourself off and try again. Most of the time your failures fuel you more than your successes.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment?

    JB: My favourite NYFA moment would have to be when I taught a mature age student named Paul. At the start of the course Paul couldn’t use a mouse on a computer. By the end of it he was directing films on a RED camera. I gave him a lot of extracurricular work to do and he went from strength to strength. Most people wrote Paul off due to his difficult past and Paul-Hogan-Crocodile-Dundee kind of approach to life. I’m happy to report Paul has been making some great projects since finishing up at NYFA. I regularly keep in touch with our alumni too.

    NYFA: Can you tell us what inspired your film “Requires Review”?

    JB: I have always been aghast by poor town planning in global cities. What’s town planning, I hear you say? Well it’s otherwise known as urban planning, and it’s all the things that make a city keep spinning. The architecture, transport, public utilities etc. I was curious what the problems would be in a seemingly perfect city like Stockholm.

    I had a script, I just had to find a town planner to interview. Which proved quite challenging! But, rather serendipitously I eventually met a mysterious urban planner in the national library in Stockholm! We spent a few hours discussing all the horrible things we hate in cities, and the next day we made the film.

    NYFA: How was your experience at Dances With Film? 

    JB: Dances with Films was such a beautiful experience, meeting filmmakers and like-minded people from all over the world. Being welcomed with open arms by people you’d never met before was truly touching. Every day of the festival there was an industry meetup, cocktail session or a screening to attend. It was a great boot camp and introduction to the LA filmmaking scene. And a breath of fresh air from my day to day life!

    NYFA: Would you say your time within the NYFA community was at all helpful in your experience creating this film?

    JB: One thing I will say is that when I arrived in LA, it was a happy accident that some of our acting students & teachers from Sydney were studying & working at the NYFA LA campus. It was pretty surreal that they were able to attend the screening and came out to support “Requires Review” and all the other filmmakers at the festival. The NYFA community shone through there for sure.  

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    JB: I’m currently working on some TV shows for Australian ABC and SBS TV networks. I am also in development on a TV series based on “Requires Review” as well as several other independent productions that I filmed in Bangkok and Sydney.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to your students who are seeking to find the path to screening their own films in a festival like Dances With Film?

    JB: Know what your film is, why you made it, and what you want to get out of it. Is your film going to be a calling card for you as a director? DOP? Writer? How can you best use this film as a stepping stone?

    NYFA: Is there anything we missed that you’d like to share with the NYFA community?

    JB: I always take the attitude that you are always an amateur at your profession. The second you believe you are a professional that knows everything you shut yourself off to curiosity and a desire to learn more. You also shut yourself off from learning from those around you & your own experiences. Never stop being inquisitive and learning!

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Joshua Belinfante for sharing a bit of his story with our community, and congratulate him on his recent successes!

  • 3 Emmy Nominations for “A Girl in the River,” Edited by NYFA Master Class Lecturer Geof Bartz

    “A Girl in the River” has been nominated for three Emmy Awards, including Best Documentary and Best Documentary Short. The HBO documentary was edited by New York Film Academy’s own Master Class Lecturer and Curriculum Advisor Geof Bartz.

    Directed by Sharmeen Obaid, executive produced by Sheila Nevins and Tina Brown, and produced by Lisa Heller, the film follows the story of one woman who survived an “honor killing” attack in her native Pakistan.

    Geof Bartz is Supervising Editor of HBO Documentary Films. “A Girl in the River” marks Geof’s 12th Emmy nomination (with five prior wins). The film won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject, which marked Geof’s fifth Oscar, and director Sharmeen Obaid’s second. It’s an incredible awards season journey that, perhaps even more remarkably, has made a real-world impact.

    First they won the Oscar,” observed NYFA New York Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift. “Then they won the DuPont. Now, the Emmy nomination. Yet the most important and satisfying part of all, is that ‘Girl In The River’ actually inspired the Pakistani government to reconsider their laws.”

    The New York Film Academy will hold a master class with Geof Bartz in early August that will include a special screening of “A Girl in the River.” The film will also serve as a jumping-off point for student instruction and exploration.

    “We’re all looking forward to watching the movie with Geof and discussing the intricacies of creating Oscar-worthy docs,” noted Andrea Swift.

  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Students’ “Where Cultures Collide” to Air on KCETLink

    “Where Cultures Collide,” a web series produced and directed by NYFA’s MFA Documentary students in Los Angeles, is set to be published by PBS affiliate KCETLink starting August 1, 2017. The five-part series of 5-7 minute segments explores aspects of different cultures that have merged into the mainstream in Southern California and been transformed to a degree. The series spotlights cultural contributions from Latin America, Thailand, Polynesia, Armenia, and Saudi Arabia.

    KCET_Students_H20A0993As part of their Community Film Project class, our MFA Documentary students had a unique opportunity to work with KCETLink in a professional producing relationship. The class, led by instructor Denise Hamilton, met with their “client” KCETLink to determine their interests. After the initial contact, they developed and presented concepts for them in a pitch meeting and were Greenlit to produce stories about unique “cultural clashes”. It was a professional pitch session that they passed with flying colors!

    Students Ashley Harris, GuangLi Zhu, Yuan Li, Zhengyi Zhong, Sultan Aljurays, Camilla Borel-Rinkes, Mira Hamour, Carolina Sosa Andres and Kristen Lydsdottir served as directors, producers and crew members, responsible for the entire process from pre-production to post.

    KCET_Denise_H20A1041

    “It was a very difficult assignment” Denise acknowledges, “because they had to conduct extensive research and produce while simultaneously planning and prepping their thesis films.”

    And, like any Client / Producer relationship, the group received notes for adaptations and changes throughout the process. Ultimately, the students obtained an invaluable lesson about creating work for someone else, and got a kick-start into the professional world of producing for a high-level client. KUDOS!

     

    July 27, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 571

  • NYFA Los Angeles Holds Social Media Networking Night

    _DSC7452Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development Barbara Weintraub held a Social Media Networking Night at NYFA Los Angeles in late July. Over 220 students from the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus attended the event held in the Riverside Building.

    The lobby was filled with film companies like Film Independent and New Filmmakers LA. They were there to share opportunities for students, membership experiences, and career paths.

    A color-coded system helped students get in touch with other students. Small dots on name tags indicated whether the attending was an actor, filmmaker, photographer, or game designer.  

    “There are so many students that I hadn’t met,” said acting student An Phan. “I’m at the Barham building most of the time while the photography and filmmaking students are at Riverside. I never get to interact with them. I saw a lot of portfolios and I was blown away by how talented everyone was. It was great interaction. I had a lot of fun.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to wish all the students applying for professional memberships and those students teaming up to work on a project success on their next venture.