Documentary Filmmaking
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  • NYFA Student’s “Soul” Screening at Berlin International Film Festival

    pedro peiraThe Berlin International Film Festival is underway, and we’re thrilled to see New York Film Academy Los Angeles Fulbright student Pedro Peira is Executive Producer of the documentary film “Soul,” which will be screening at the festival this Sunday, Feb. 12 and Monday, Feb. 13.

    The Spanish documentary, from filmmakers José Antonio Blanco and Ángel Parra, focuses on Eneko Atxa, a three Michelin star chef who runs a restaurant complex near Bilbao in the Basque region. His exploration of the “soul” of cooking has him traveling to famous colleagues in Catalonia and Japan. Throughout the documentary, some of the most relevant personalities of international gastronomy such as Michael Ellis, manager of the Michelin guide, or Joël Robuchon, the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world, take us into the secrets and the vicissitudes of a profession based on effort, which is continually being reinvented and requires huge sacrifices.

    pedro peira
    “What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories,” said Peira. “Of course I’ve learned about image and sound, which are also important, but being able to include some kind of drama in a story stands out above the rest. As a matter of fact, during the final editing process of ‘Soul’ I would call the director while he was editing the film and, after watching the cuts together, he applied what I was discovering at NYFA. I think is has helped the film.”

    “SOUL” Trailer from Festimania Pictures on Vimeo.

    “Even though I’ve just finished my first semester at NYFA, I’ve felt an evolution in my work,” added Peira. “When I arrived, my approach to documentary was an informational one. After screening my final project of the semester, I felt that I had started to be able to generate emotions. When people laugh or cry when watching your films, you know you have been doing something right.”

    For tickets and more information on “Soul” and its screening at the Berlin Film Festival, CLICK HERE.

    February 10, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2148

  • Former NYFA Student Peyman Umay Earns Fashion Group International Rising Star Award

    The world of fashion gathered at Cipriani 42nd Steet for the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star awards, which included the Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg, who delivered the keynote address and some comic relief for the up-and-coming talent.

    The Rising Star awards focuses on celebrating emerging forces in fashion, beauty and related industries for their creativity and vision. This year’s Menswear prize was awarded to former New York Film Academy student Peyman Umay.

    peyman umay

    After designing for high-end brands in Europe and the U.S., Umay founded Peyman Umay brand in 2011 offering luxury men’s made-to-measure clothing, by appointment only. Within two years, through his passion, hard-work and colorful agenda; Peyman created a loyal clientele by combining his fashion design background with unique services that no other brand does. Realizing the need and not being able to resist the consistent demand, He launched women’s made-to-measure line in 2013 and finally men’s ready-to-wear collection in 2015, opening the first Peyman Umay retail store in Aspen, Colorado. Having recently penned his first book, the New York based designer shares his secrets in “Dressing Well” that will be published soon.

    “I’m truly honored to win this award from an organization that has such an impact in the fashion industry,” said Umay. “This is such an amazing acknowledgement, a significant milestone for me because getting here wasn’t easy at all. I had nothing but pocketful of dreams when I first moved to the U.S. People called me ‘dreamer’ but I was the one who never slept. There were some people though who were present during all of my struggles, who witnessed everything I went through, which is why they know more than most as to how much this award means to me. I’m so grateful and I will never take this award granted.”

    Umay’s bespoke line has stirred quite the celebrity buzz, due to his impeccable eye for detail. His clientele includes actors Mickey Rourke, Jeremy Piven, singer John Legend, Dave Diehl of the New York Giants, CBS evening news anchorman Scott Pelley, celebrity chef Todd English, Ryan Serhant from “Million Dollar Listings,” Sonja Morgan from “The Real Housewives of NY” and a host of other affluent people of the U.S. Peyman Umay has been featured in TV shows such as “Design Star,” “The Real Housewives of NY”, “Million Dollar Listings” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

    Upon graduation from Acting for Film at NYFA, he has been in four movies, two short (“Capital Inferno” and “The Cabin”) and two feature movies (“Fairy Tale of New York” and “Ask Uykusu” [Turkish]) all of which are in post production at the moment. His first feature movie is being released on March 17th, the second one on May 19th of 2017.

    February 8, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1218

  • NYFA Instructor James Lecesne to Premiere “The Mother of Invention”

    mother of inventionAbingdon Theatre Company presents the world premiere of “The Mother of Invention,” a new play by New York Film Academy Documentary Story instructor James Lecesne, who is an Academy Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award-winner. Ranked by the NY Times as “among of the most talented solo performers of his (or any) generation,” Lecesne has shared the screen with Robert Downey Jr., Ian McKellan, Claire Danes, Holly Hunter, the Sex in the City cast, Anne Bancroft, and many others. He has also shared the stage with Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones, and many others.

    Performances are set to begin January 28, prior to an official press opening on February 9, at The Abingdon’s Theatre (312 West 36th Street). Artistic Director Tony Speciale, who also directed “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is set to direct.

    When Dottie Nerber’s son and daughter arrive to pack up the contents of their mother’s Florida home, their conflicting memories of her collide. As the siblings unpack family secrets, they must separate fact from fiction and are forced to question the narratives of their own lives. James Lecesne’s new full-length play is an unflinching and comedic look at how one family deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s. It asks why we tell the stories we do about the people we love, and how we live with those stories after they’ve been debunked.

    Concetta Tomei, best known for her roles on TV’s “China Beach” and “Providence” and on stage in “The Elephant Man” (opposite David Bowie) and Sarah Ruhl’s “The Clean House,” leads the cast as Dottie Nerber.

    Joining Ms. Tomei are James Davis (Broadway revival of “The House of Blue Leaves,” Soho Rep’s “We Are Proud to Present…”), Dan Domingues (INTAR’s “Locusts Have No Kings,” The Civilian’s “The Great Immensity” at The Public), Angela Reed (Broadway’s “The Country Girl” and “The Rainmaker,” and national tours of “War Horse” and “Spring Awakenin”g), Isabella Russo (Broadway’s “School of Rock”), and Dale Soules (“Orange is the New Black,” Broadway’s “Hands on a Hard Body” and “Grey Gardens”).

    The creative team includes Jo Winiarski (Scenic Design), Daisy Long (Lighting Design), Paul Marlow (Costume Design), Christian Frederickson (Sound Design), and Jerry Marsini (Props Design). Deidre Works is Production Stage Manager.

    “The Mother of Invention” runs January 28-February 26: Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7:30PM; plus matinees Saturdays at 2:30PM and Sundays at 2:00PM (with the following exceptions, no matinees January 28-29) at Abingdon Theatre Company’s June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).

    For tickets, visit abingdontheatre.org or call 212-352-3101.

    Use code Mother35 for $35 discount tickets during previews* (Jan 28 – Feb 8).

    January 26, 2017 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights • Views: 969

  • NYFA Doc Grads Work on Ryan Gosling GQ Video

    With a record number of Academy Award nominations, “La La Land” is certainly the talk-of-the-town. Recently, GQ provided a behind the scenes with “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling at a photo shoot at the Gellért Thermal Bath in Budapest.


    Two New York Film Academy Documentary alumni had their hand in the video, as both Susi Dollnig and Nina Thomas work at the post-production company House of Trim, which provided the post-production for the video. Dollnig was the Colorist and Thomas was the Assistant Editor on this specific video.

    House of Trim is a boutique post-production facility located in the heart of NYC. The team consists of a collective of talented editors, motion graphics artists and color graders who specialize in feature films, commercial campaigns, documentaries and branded content. Dollnig has been working at the company for about four years as a Colorist, and Thomas joined the company in October 2015 as an Assistant Editor, and recently started taking on editing jobs as well.

    Both Dollnig and Thomas often does post-production work for GQ Magazine and for the Condé Nast group.

    January 26, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1265

  • NYFA Docs Presents “Hashknife Pony Express”

    For 58 years, members of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Posse have participated in the Hashknife Pony Express, a 200-mile horseback ride that brings the Old West back to life.

    A team from the Documentary Department at New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus accompanied the riders from Holbrook to Scottsdale, Arizona and have just released this short documentary entitled “Hashknife Pony Express.”


    The historic Pony Express was only in operation delivering the mail for about 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861, and was never routed through Arizona. Llike the original riders, the Hashknife Pony Express members are sworn in as official representatives of the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the mail along the route from Holbrook to Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Over three days, each horse and rider takes multiple one-mile legs, passing the mail bag from rider to rider, often at full gallop.

    NYFA students Claudio Duek, Steve Estrada, Eva Luna Marini and Alejandro Talens and NYFA LA Documentary Chair Barbara Multer-Wellin split into teams to capture the action along the route. The film was edited by NYFA alumna Michelle Flores and mixed by Instructor John Sisti of the NYFA LA Sound Department.

    January 24, 2017 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 961

  • NYFA Doc Alumnus Working as Associate Producer at NBC

    cj ferroniAfter four years as a middle school teacher, CJ Ferroni noticed his students would often have laser focus when watching a documentary on a subject he was teaching. His fascination with documentaries and the production process that goes into each project grew exponentially until the point where decided to pursue the field as a potential career. His passion led him to study at the Documentary Program at the New York Film Academy and he is now an alumnus of the program working as an Associate Producer at NBC.

    As Associate Producer, Ferroni has worked on season 8 of the true crime doc-series, “Disappeared”; a 6 hour documentary pilot series called “Reasonable Doubt” about current wrongfully convicted people in the process of exoneration; and a 4 hour doc series called “SEAL Team 6,” chronicling the history of the now infamous SEAL team.

    We caught up with the former school teacher to find out more about his career change and his current position at NBC!

    Once you decided on pursuing documentary filmmaking, what made you chose the Documentary Program at NYFA?

    I chose the documentary program at NYFA after spending four years as a middle school teacher. As a teacher, I often used documentaries to supplement lessons. Students had laser focus when watching a documentary on whatever subject we were learning about, and I found them to be great tools in the classroom. Prior to teaching, I was always amazed at how many names were in the credit reels of films and just how much man (and woman) power went into making a 90 minute piece of content. I was fascinated by the filmmaking process, specifically documentaries, but didn’t have any hands on experience. I had stories I wanted to tell and believed that the visual medium is the most effective form of story telling today, so I needed to put some tools in my tool box. That’s where NYFA came in. They stood out to me among various film schools around the country because of their intensive hands on curriculum, a faculty of real filmmakers, and a strong network of employed alumni.

    ferroni on set

    How did the Associate Producer position at NBC come about?

    This position came about like most do in my experience, good timing and word of mouth. Your reputation and the networks you create as you climb the production ladder are everything. This is a big city but nonfiction filmmaking is a small world. Work hard, show up early, be nice, and be fun to work with and you are already more hire-able than most people.

    Was NYFA’s Doc program useful in terms of getting the job?

    NYFA’s Doc program was definitely useful in getting hired by NBC. If I look back at the path that I took from graduation to right now, everything stemmed from the bridges built at NYFA. Also, through classmates’ critiques and my successes and failures at NYFA, I have a foundation of experience and confidence in my abilities as a storyteller that I use every day.

    Was NYFA useful in terms of what you’re currently working on at NBC?

    NYFA gave me technical skills with editing software, cameras, lighting, and sound that directly apply to every job I’ve had since graduation, including my current job. Obviously, I don’t do all of those things at NBC, however, the knowledge of those areas helps me understand the needs of those departments, and helps me communicate, write, and plan shoots efficiently and accurately. Anyone who has been through the doc program at NYFA has also been taught the importance of having a good story. The ability to structure and portray a compelling story is everything in this line of work. The last thing I want to mention is planning. NYFA taught me how to plan my own shoot, figure out what gear I want to use, what crew I want to work with, and how to effectively write a call sheet. I had no idea how often I would be writing call sheets after graduation…

    cj ferroni set

    Which specific projects at NBC are you most proud to have worked on?

    I think the project that I’m most proud to have worked on at NBC is a 90-minute documentary on Alexander Hamilton. It was a great experience in the field. We shot at different museums and historical houses around NYC with a crew of 75 people, and an additional 17 actors. I also had the chance to do some camera work and meet and interview some incredible authors, CEOs, politicians, and popular journalists. I had a big role in planning every aspect of those shoots and it was a lot of fun… plus, we didn’t break anything in the museums.

    Is there a specific project that you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

    Currently, I’m working as an Associate Producer for season 5 of the doc-series “Deadline Crime” with Tamron Hall. We are investigating the unsolved murder of a 12-year-old boy, Garrett Phillips, that made national headlines from 2011-2016.

    January 20, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1227

  • Jonathan Shaw Presents “Finding Noah” to NYFA LA

    shaw and barbara

    Jonathan P. Shaw with NYFA LA Chair of Documentary Barbara Multer-Wellin

    On Wednesday, Jan. 6th, Jonathan P. Shaw presented his documentary “Finding Noah” for students at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus. NYFA LA Chair of Documentary Barbara Multer-Wellin hosted the evening.

    Shaw has balanced a career between documentary and narrative. He is best known as an editor. His greatest hits include “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”, “Blue Velvet,” “Twin Peaks,” and “Disneynature: Wings of Life.”

    His latest project, “Finding Noah,” which he produced, wrote, and directed, is an intense documentary following a scientific exploration into the whereabouts of the fabled ark.

    Shaw was raised Catholic and has been fascinated by the story of the ark for years. He traced the history throughout different religious texts and oral histories. Multer-Wellin wanted to know how Shaw towed the line between controversy, faith, and telling the story.

    Before he left, Shaw had one final piece of advice for students, “I really feel blessed to do all the projects I do. It’s not like it’s not a struggle. Going freelance there’s a risk. But I’ve been able to maintain a marriage for 37 years and send two kids to college. My advice to you is just keep on going.”

    shaw

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Shaw for taking the time to speak with our students. “Finding Noah” is now available for rent on Amazon Video.

    January 17, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1206

  • Urban Possibilities and New York Film Academy Team Up For Spoken Word Performance and Story Encounter

    New York Film Academy students worked with survivors of homelessness to present a spoken word and musical performance at the NYFA Theater at the Los Angeles campus. Urban Possibilities is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the homeless and working poor. Urban Possibilities’ alumni performed spoken word pieces about their lives developed during one of UP’s writing workshops. NYFA acting students Fernando Sambora and Roman Arnaize performed a musical interlude for the full house of enthusiastic NYFA students and faculty.

    The next day, NYFA screenwriting, filmmaking, and documentary students participated in a unique daylong workshop facilitated by Urban Possibilities. NYFA students were paired with Urban Possibilities students to interview one another and share their personal stories. After an hour of heart-to-heart conversation, each person was asked to write a profile of the person they’d been speaking to. Touching, surprising and sometimes extraordinary bonds between the pairs were revealed. One NYFA student called it “an unforgettable day of learning and feeling and writing a truly original piece.” Another said, “I loved it. It was enlightening, inspirational, transformational and eye-opening.”

    urban possibilities

    Eyvette Jones Johnson, Founder and CEO of Urban Possibilities said, “When we exchange our stories, bonds are created and biases begin to melt away no matter what our zip codes may be. That’s important in a world often violently divided by race and class — one that our students navigate daily.”

    December 21, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 2545

  • NYFA Alumna’s Award-Winning Doc Captures Saudi Arabian Culture

    jameelahComing off of her documentary short film, “Historic Jeddah,” which screened at the International Film Festival Manhattan in 2015, One Year Filmmaking Conservatory Program and the Eight-week Filmmaking Workshop alumna Jameelah Rose Lineses directed a sequel documentary called “Our Journey to Hijaz.” The short film features never-before-seen footage depicting life in Saudi Arabia before the oil boom. It includes reenactments of how people used to live and features a Saudi traditional wedding and a sword dance.

    “My inspiration in making both films ‘Historic Jeddah’ and ‘Our Journey to Hijaz’ was my mother,” said Lineses. “She was the one who motivated me to create films about Saudi Arabia’s history and cultural heritage. There are no films showcasing Saudi Arabia’s history and cultural heritage that have been recognized in any international film festival. There are so many stories to tell relating to Saudi Arabia’s history — stories that are not yet known to the rest of the world and that only a handful of people really know.”

    Lineses’ sequel has been recognized by several film festivals thus far, including:

    Film Festival Director Award for BEST STUDENT FILM
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2013
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Ani Ng Dangal Presidential Awardee for Cinema
    6th ANI NG DANGAL/Harvest of Honors 2014
    National Commission for Culture and the Arts
    Manila, Philippines

    Most Popular IFFM Film Promo for “Historic Jeddah” (Saudi Arabia)
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2015
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Honorable Mention for “Our Journey to Hijaz” (Saudi Arabia)
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2016
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Lineses says that although she’s been living in Saudi Arabia for her entire life, there are still many things she doesn’t know about her country’s history and cultural heritage.

    “It was only early last year when I started to learn about it on my own by attending cultural events and tours,” said Lineses. “I also discovered that my mother’s first sponsor — when she came to Saudi Arabia — was a member of the Naseef family.”

    lineses

    Naseef is one of the most prominent families in Saudi Arabia, and their ancestral house, Bayt Naseef, is now a museum, which is highlighted in her documentary.

    “As a pioneer, I hope that I am able to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s promising future in the field of cinema,” Lineses says. “I also hope that I am able to give rise to aspiring Saudi filmmakers to do the impossible, break stereotypes, and to not shy away from adversities.”

    She also hopes her documentaries will show that it is possible to make a film about Saudi Arabia and still uphold the country’s code of conduct.

    Lineses is now working on another documentary, “Third Culture Kids of Saudi Arabia,” about the people born, raised and currently living in Saudi Arabia. “This film will tackle our everyday lives and show how we assimilate into society,” says Lineses.

    December 6, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1955

  • NYFA Doc Students Talk with Legendary Documentary Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

    On November 21, 2016, MFA documentary students from New York Film Academy Los Angeles had the opportunity to listen in on a conversation with legendary documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, sponsored by the International Documentary Association.

    DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

    Hegedus and Pennebaker have captured moments of history — from Senator John F. Kennedy’s run for the Democratic nomination in “Primary” to James Carville’s dictum, “It’s the economy, stupid” during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in “The War Room” and the first dot.com mania in “Startup.com.” They’ve portrayed musicians from Bob Dylan to Janis Joplin, Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Branford Marsalis, Emmylou Harris and many more. Pennebaker was one of the pioneers of the Direct Cinema movement of the 1960s that rejected on camera interviews in favor of the so-called “fly on the wall” approach to documentary filmmaking. Together their films have influenced the realms of documentary, music video, and reality television.

    The New York Film Academy students were treated to a riveting clip from the pair’s newest film, “Unlocking the Cage,” about animal rights attorney Steven Wise and his thirty-year fight to break down the legal walls that separate humans and animals. Wise is just the latest in a long series of subjects whose essential humanity shines through in their films.

    “A documentary filmmaker is like a playwright,” Pennebaker told the audience. “He fills a stage with people no one has ever seen before and he has to make them unforgettable.”

    December 2, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1158