Documentary Filmmaking

  • You’re Invited to the 2013 NYFA Documentary Film Festival


    Tuesday, September 10, 2011
    Screening at 6:00pm
    Reception to Follow
    The Screening Room
    NYFA’s Union Square campus
    100 East 17th Street
    New York, New York 10003

    Why did Lauraʼs father live in a trailer in the familyʼs backyard? Join her quest for answers buried somewhere in her parentsʼ accidentally famous love story, her fatherʼs dark corner of the Vietnam War, and in her own childhood. Experience a new but strangely familiar tenement era with a couple striving to live “The Chinese Dream” in the slums of Beijing. Battle for the title with Joey “The Dragon” Vitale as he bets his honor, his sonʼs admiration and his pro career on one last amateur bout. Witness the birth of a legend when local boogieman, The North Pond Hermit, turns out to real – but wonʼt talk – leaving the people of Rome, Maine to piece his story together for themselves. And prepare for lifeʼs strange and shocking twists as Williamʼs released to rebuild his life after 23 ½ years locked up in Sing Sing for a murder he didn’t commit; and when Danonʼs Mom takes a break from gardening, cooking and feeding animals on the family farm – to confess her secret life at the kitchen table. In short, enjoy the unique, young voices of NYFAʼs Documentary Department, whoʼve combined the art of storytelling with the craft of filmmaking to recount a rich variety of marvelous true tales.

    The Films:

    • THE COST by Kai Lu
    • LEAVETAKING by Laura Snow
    • HEART OF THE DRAGON by CJ Ferroni
    • THE HERMIT – by Lena Friedrich
    • 23 ½ by Aitor Mendilibar
    • MOM by Danon Cardelli
    The Cost by Kai Lu

    The Cost by Kai Lu


    September 10, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 4018

  • NYFA Students to Screen ‘Alumbrones’ on July 9th



    Join us in Union Square July 9th at 7:30pm for a screening of a new documentary filmed in Cuba! The film, Alumbrones, was directed and produced by New York Film Academy student, Bruce Donnelly. Bruce teamed up with fellow students (co-producer) Paulo Adorni, (Director of Photography) Esteban Malpica, and (Second Unit Photographer) Albert Oh.

    The team has just started their festival run, having already been accepted to the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival!

    Students, alumni, and faculty are invited to a sneak preview Tuesday, July 9th!


    July 1, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4521

  • Working with Robert Redford After NYFA



    Acclaimed actor, Robert Redford has announced his first television series. Guess who just got hired as his Production Coordinator? None other than New York Film Academy Documentary Department grad, Andrea Blake!

    Andrea graduated just over a year ago. In that short time, she interned and freelanced for NYFA Doc prof, Hilla Medalia, on Dancing In Jaffa. After that, she picked up and moved to Chicago where she scored a much sought-after internship with Academy Award-nominated / Sundance-winning director, Steve James (Hoop Dreams). She interned and then worked for his company Kartemquin Films on several documentaries – including his highly anticipated Roger Ebert picture.

    Now, with their backing, Andrea just won the new gig on Chicagoland from Robert Redford, his Sundance Productions and the producers of the critically acclaimed AMC series, Brick City.

    Congrats to Andrea – they are lucky to have her!

    -Andrea Swift, New York Film Academy Documentary Chair


  • Tony Gerber’s TED Talks Education Premieres on PBS



    What brings Hip Hop star, John Legend, America’s richest man, Bill Gates, paradigm-shifter TED and New York Film Academy Documentary professor, Tony Gerber together with the top education thought-leaders from around the world? TED Talks Education, hosted by John Legend, which premieres tonight at 10/9 c on PBS.

    Our two time Emmy-winner directed and produced the documentaries with the help of NYFA Documentary grads, Todd Leatherman, (’11 NYC Documentary) who is now Tony’s Production Coordinator/Equipment Manager at Market Road Films, and Ilaria Polsonetti, (’11) who served as Field Producer and Casting Associate. Both get big props from the Market Road crew. As do interns, Daphne Louise Ostendorf (’12) and JR Cronheim (’12).

    TED Talks Education, hosted by John Legend, premieres May 7, 2013 at 10/9 c on PBS


    May 7, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 5667

  • Louis Mole Talks About NYFA’s Documentary Program


    Documentary graduate, Louis Mole, sits down with us to discuss his experience at the New York Film Academy.

    “It is such a hands-on intensive course, and it really drills into every single aspect of the filmmaking program from directing to producingphotography, and editing.” said Louis Mole. “You come out of the program with the fundamental expertise of every single aspect of making a film – which is so unique.”

    Immediately after graduating the New York Film Academy, Louis went to Singapore and worked on 2 series. One of which was Asian Swindlers, a six part series about Asian conmen, in which Louis wrote 3 episodes and oversaw the edit.

    After Singapore, Louis came back to New York where he currently works for the production company behind the Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winning Documentary, The House I Live In.


    February 28, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5894

  • The Girl Next Door

    Andrea Picco

    Andrea Picco

    With 5 years of college education and some work in television and media, Andrea Picco was looking for a school that focused on the hands-on experience and not just theory. “I first enrolled in the 4 week digital filmmaking class just to see how I would like the school and if it really was what I was looking for,” said Andrea. “The very first day we were already out shooting! Those 4 weeks were the longest of my life. I wrote, directed, casted and shot 2 short films and a short documentary. In the process, I learned everything about digital cameras, film vocabulary, menu setting, lenses, proper lighting, F-stops, etc.”

    After finishing the documentary, Andrea decided to enroll in the one year documentary class. “Looking back, I know it was the right decision. New York Film Academy is a place where you can become a filmmaker within a year – if you take it seriously and work hard. It is no nonsense. The equipment they provide is great and updated. The staff is very helpful and friendly. The Head of the Documentary Department, Andrea Swift, is absolutely amazing, passionate and inspiring. We had producers, filmmakers, production companies and even Discovery Channel executives come to our classes. Our thesis editing supervisor was Bob Eisenhardt.”

    While enrolled in the One Year Documentary Class, Andrea Picco knew she wanted to produce her thesis film on a story related to human trafficking. After filming a promo video for a non-profit in 2008, she met a woman who was a survivor of human trafficking. Andrea shortly became friends with the woman and was soon on her way to Ohio to film what would become her thesis film.

    The Girl Next Door is a story of redemption and empowerment.”When you first hear about ‘Human Trafficking’ you usually think it only happens overseas in 3rd world countries, but we don’t usually think about American kids and teens.” The film tells the story of how Theresa survived two years of sex trafficking in the suburbs of Detroit and how she overcame her past to became an abolitionist.

    Andrea’s film has been to four film festivals and has won two awards. She plans to turn her short film into a full feature. Andrea is also planning to start filming a documentary about the human trafficking business in Corona, Queens. As Andrea says, “Great stories are easy to find when you keep your heart and eyes open.”


    February 26, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6685

  • The Square Premieres at Sundance


    Congratulations to Mohamed Hamdy, New York Film Academy Documentary graduate and Cinematographer of the much anticipated, The Square, which premiered at The Sundance Film FestivalThe Square, a new film by Jehane Noujaim, looks at the hard realities faced day-to-day by people working to build Egypt’s new democracy. Catapulting us into the action spread across 2011 and 2012, the film provides a kaleidoscopic, visceral experience of the struggle. Cairo’s Tahrir Square is the heart and soul of the film, which follows several young activists. Armed with values, determination, music, humor, an abundance of social media, and sheer obstinacy, they know that the thorny path to democracy only began with Hosni Mubarek’s fall. The life-and-death struggle between the people and the power of the state is still playing out.

    In February 2011, Egyptian, particularly young one, showed the world the way people demanding change can drive an entire nation to transformation. The result was a profound movement toward democracy that is still evolving across the Arab world.

    Hamdy shot over 500 hours of the Tahir Square revolution as he lived it, and ended up the Cinematographer of Jehane Noujaim’s new documentary made from inside the Tahir Square revolution by young Egyptians who were (and still are) part of it.

    “Aside from Hamdy’s excellent cinematography, my favorite thing about The Square is that it is about and by people who lived it – and are still living – the revolution,” said NYFA Documentary Chair, Andrea Swift. “Hearing their voices, rather than that of third party reporters, makes this the most immediate and important accounting of the one seminal events of our century. Not to mention, it’s the best.”



  • Documentary Meets Performance Art


    Committed to showcasing diverse artistic expression, Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) presents CABULA6, an internationally acclaimed performance and film company known for its unique hybrid approach to choreography. CABULA6 will present the US premiere of The Angola Project, a three-part series that includes the world premiere of the trilogy’s final chapter, XIN– Heart of the Matter. The Angola Project masterfully combines the worlds of performance and filmmaking by taking audience members on a very personal journey of the co-artistic directors’ real-life attempts to finance a film and confront the fear of mortality. Performances are November 7-10 (Parts 1 and 2) and 14-17 (Part 3). All shows are at 7:30 p.m., with one additional performance of Part 3 on November 17 at 3:00 p.m.

    Created by New York Film Academy Documentary Professor, Jeremy Xido, Claudia Heu, and Igor Dobricic, the trilogy begins with Xido’s captivation of Lisbon’s sunset-timed gas lamps and growing idea for a film (Part 1: Lisbon); he finds himself collecting historical tidbits, experiencing random encounters and conducting a slew of interviews with the people he meets there. Part 2: Angola, delves deeper into Xido’s quest to construct a film script as he travels to Angola along the Benguela Railway. Xido—the sole onstage performer in this entire series—must carefully navigate the minefield of international film financing, constantly reconfiguring his script and feature film pitch accordingly.

    Parts 1 and 2 premiered at the Impulstanz Festival in Vienna in 2010, earning acclaim for the creators’ ability to seamlessly blend verbal narration, image and video to create thrilling and novel choreography. The world premiere of Part 3: XIN – Heart of the Matter, is a work-in-progress of the creators’ experiment to produce a disastrous failure, with the hope of discovering something true and valuable among the ruins. Part 3 further investigates the convoluted nature of storytelling, global travel, colonial history and shifting notions of home in today’s age of poly-cultural, mash-up identities. Film footage, spoken lecture, spatial manipulation and use of elements will continue CABULA6’s truly innovative and hybrid approach to choreography.

    “DNA encourages our performing artists to delve deeply into different creative mediums to convey their work most effectively,” says Artistic and Executive Director Catherine Peila. “DNA’s artistic vision not only supports that ideology but also makes it a reality for the artists we present, commission and train. Dance represents our visceral need to engage. Today we find more dance artists looking to create even greater connections through hybrid forms.  CABULA6’s The Angola Project represents conceptual and performative innovations of the movement artist’s exploration and their on-going attempt to fully engage us in their process.”


    November 9, 2012 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 4334

  • Italy’s ‘Clio Make Up’ Shoots in New York


    Reality television has caught on all over the world and Italy is no different. One of its popular shows Clio Make Up on Discovery Italy recently finished shooting its second season. In the second series, the famous makeup artist Clio Zammateo continues her journey into the wonderful world of cosmetics. This time from New York City. In each episode, Clio shows two women how to apply makeup in a professional manner, erasing the small imperfections and creating the perfect look for a special occasion.

    This past season, New York Film Academy Documentary graduate, Marco Vitale was Media Manager of the popular Italian show. Marco wrapped production on the second season on July 2nd of this year. “It was my first TV experience and it was awesome,” said Marco. “I had the chance to work closely with the director, Angelo Vitale, who directed the first 5 seasons of Big Brother in Italy and many others TV shows.”

    While living in Italy, Marco was in search of a prominent documentary school in New York City. Though uncertain of New York Film Academy‘s Documentary program in the beginning, Marco was convinced to join the program by Documentary Chair, Andrea Swift. “I decided to apply for the One Year Documentary Program and after a year since graduating, I’m quite sure that it was the best decision of my life.”
  • NYFA Filmmaker Nominated for Student Academy Award


    Documentary Filmmaker Nancy Hanzhang Shen is in charge of New York Film Academy’s Chinese Social Media and works as a liaison with Chinese colleges. Her latest documentary film Why Am I Still Alive was a finalist for the US Student Academy Awards®2012 and Winner of Best shorts Documentary Festival 2012. The film has screened at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in New York City, White Sands International Film Festival 2012, and the China International Education Fair on Cultural & Creative Industries Exhibition. The film is currently screening at New York City Independent Film Festival 2012.

    Here are just a few words of appraisal from respected industry professionals:

    • “What a beautiful, heartbreaking film. Exquisitely done, and my heart aches for the film’s subject.”— Ilene Starger, member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
    • “The film is a wonderful piece of work. It deserves to be really widely seen.” —Tom Hurwitz, ASC Four Academy Awards for Best Full-length Documentary
    • “You didn’t give up! That is what it takes to be a filmmaker. You are only one person and you can and will make a difference.” — Maryann Deleo, ACADEMY AWARD winning filmmaker (Chernobyl Heart)
    The NYC Independent Film Festival will screen the film at the Producers Club on Sunday, Oct 21st, 2012.
    The Producer’s Club is located at 358 West 44th Street New York, NY 10036 (Between 8 ave and 9 ave.)
    For tickets and more information, click here.




    October 17, 2012 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 4845