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  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Furaha Bayibsa

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Furaha Bayibsa has kept herself very busy since graduating the Fall 2015 1-year Filmmaking program—not just as a writer and director, but as a producer as well.

    Bayibsa is very passionate about her craft after growing up with a love of film and television. She seeks out artists who share that passion, and strives to work with those who truly care about what they’re putting on the screen. 

    Furaha Bayibsa

    With that in mind, Bayibsa produced a feature film called Landfill, directed by MFA Filmmaking student Yesser Laham, as well as produced a few short films together with other NYFA alumni. In between producing projects, Bayibsa continues to write screenplays that she plans to either sell or direct herself.

    New York Film Academy recently spoke with Furaha Bayibsa about some of her work, what drives her as a filmmaker, and her love for all things Shonda Rhimes:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Furaha Bayibsa (FB): I was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, but originally from Congo. I’ve always been kind of obsessed with TV and movies. It’s kind of cliche because every filmmaker says that (haha) but really… It was cringe. Movies and TV was the only thing I was talking about. At work people told me to shut up. My friends got upset because every Friday night were occupied for “Shonda Rhimes TGIT.”

    It wasn’t until my mom was like “Okay Furaha, it’s time to choose school because you can’t be home watching movies all the time,” and I was like “Okay, I’m going to film school in LA then.” It was an awkward silence at first, but then she said “okay” and four months later I got my acceptance letter.

    Furaha Bayibsa

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your film 1989 and what inspired you to make it?

    FB: My older sister is a politician in Sweden for the Social Democratic party, a party running Sweden as we speak. The party basically stands for equality and giving back to the less fortunate. She’s my biggest role model, and I’ve always wanted to be like her. Do something meaningful, so my entire life hasn’t just been movies. It’s been movies, demonstrations, manifestations, voting parties, lectures, and a lot of political engagement. 

    Discovering Shonda Rhimes, I realized I could use a film as a tool to speak about really intense stuff, and not make it too much of a lecture. So I decided to make a film about rape, and make it as a ten-minute real-time moment in a couple’s life where they are discussing the topic casually, like couples do all the time (or in Sweden at least).

    I remembered a guy telling me this story of how he was sexually harassed by another man one night, and he never told anyone because he was embarrassed, but it really affected him. It pissed me off, because—hello—this happens all the time, so why should he feel embarrassed? So in the film I have the couple watching a news broadcast about a rape victim who killed their attacker, and then got convicted. After the broadcast we’ll find out that the man is enraged, and his fiancee doesn’t understand why. So they go back and forth until… you need to watch the movie, haha.

    “1989” (2018) Official trailer from Furaha Bayibsa on Vimeo.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about Caminante, Caminante: La Leyenda del Huay Chivo and what inspired you to make it? 

    FB: One of my closest friends, Luis Quijano—we met in film school. He pitched the idea to me 18 months ago. He’s obsessed with horror movies, and he’s from Mexico, so he wanted to make it in Spanish. When he was younger, he worked as a missionary in Mexico, and he grew up hearing a lot of folk tales about monsters in the woods. 

    The “Huay Chivo” is a Mayan beast—half-human and half beast with really creepy eyes. He can turn himself into a goat, a disguise he uses to eat livestock (at least that’s what I understood from it). Luis really wanted it to be as authentic as possible, so together with our friend and cinematographer Andrii Lantukh, we literally went in with our hearts and souls and we made the legend come to life. 

    I produced it together with Luis and it was the realest experience I’ve ever had as a filmmaker. I knew it would be. Luis is amazing at what he does, Andrii too. We’re turning it into a feature film as well. So much fun.

    Furaha Bayibsa

    NYFA: How do you decide which films to produce? What draws you to them?

    FB: In the beginning, I’d get a text saying “Hey Furaha, I have a friend who needs help… are you free?” And that’s literally how it’s been. Just me being nice, saying “yes” to almost everyone. Then I guess the word got out that “Hello everyone, Furaha produces movies and she can raise money too!” And I realized that okay maybe I should find a strategy because I’m only one woman. 

    I’ve tried to produce several short films at the same time, and line produce them too with directors I didn’t connect with. So I had to step back one day and think, “Okay Furaha, why are you here? Because you love storytelling right, not producing.” So now I ask for three things before even agreeing to a meeting. “Script, crew list so far, and budget.” Script to see if I need to help them develop it a little more, budget meaning what they want for the film, and how much money they have on their own so far. 

    Then I read the script, break it down in my head, check the budget, google search the crew. I take my notes, then I meet with them. Even if the material is flat I meet with them because sometimes they have no idea what they’re talking about but they’re just so adorable in person and I kinda love them instantly.

    Furaha Bayibsa

    So I decide to work with them anyways and help them with literally everything – hold their hand through every step until they don’t need me anymore. Because what draws me in is the director’s passion. The story is more important to me than the script, so I always ask them “tell me about the story” and if I can sense that they love filmmaking as much as me in that meeting, and I can laugh with them (super important), then let’s go. The process sounds strict, but the ones I’ve worked with have appreciated my straightforwardness and work ethic, so there must be something I’m doing right (right?) 

    NYFA: You have produced, written, and directed—do you have a particular preference for one of these roles?

    FB: Writing and directing goes hand-in-hand for me, and they are my favorites. But producing is so much fun when I work with directors who know the craft, as well as respect the craft. So I don’t know really.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

    FB: Right now? Like, right this second? Right this second I’m only working on one project. I’ve written two feature films that I’ll direct, or sell, or do something with in the future. But now I’m writing a Swedish feature film called Silver Wedding; I want it to be the first feature I direct. The goal is to shoot it in Sweden together with my two favorite filmmaking friends from LA when the time has come. 

    Furaha Bayibsa

    Then there’s another feature film I’m line producing for a friend of mine. A romantic comedy, but it’s standing still right now because our investor is still waiting on the final draft. So that’s gonna be fun too. But it’s the filmmaking industry, so you never know, maybe Shonda Rhimes will call me tomorrow wanting to add me to HTGAWM writer’s room, who knows really?

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your filmmaking?

    FB: Nothing… Just kidding! Too much to tell you about right now. But there were some things that I remember from my education that I will always keep with me. The class Film Art and the class Critical Film mainly. We had to read all the history from the beginning of cinema until the present. 

    I was one of those students who actually read all the chapters, took notes, watched all films, prepared study questions, etc. No I’m not embarrassed, yes my classmates thought I was extra. But now I know so much of the little things people don’t talk about anymore. Those books tell us how past filmmakers thought and experimented with cinema, struggles they faced and how they overcame it. How much they hustled and thought outside the box to achieve their goals. 

    Furaha Bayibsa

    I was also one of the fortunate ones to have Gil McDonald as my screenwriting teacher, and he taught me everything I know about writing. The most important part was that we should show and not tell, and most importantly not to write what the character is thinking or feeling, but instead only write their actions. That’s been my life savior really. 

    My directing instructors (Joe Burke, Nick Sivakumaran, and David Armstrong) all taught me everything else I know about filmmaking. All of these classes have really taught me that we’re all artists painting on a blank canvas, so we should just let our imagination run free. They taught me that cinema is the place where the impossible is done, where there’s no limitations, we just have to put in the work. Maybe that’s why I am the way I am today, because I never let anything stop my creativity. My instructors taught me that. Now I’m teaching you that. You’re welcome!

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    FB: First things first, read the answer to my previous question and if you’re at the LA Campus, find these instructors and befriend them. They’ll change your life I promise. Secondly, and please take this to heart: we’re all different, so don’t compare yourself to another artist. It’s easier said than done I know, but I promise you everyone is going through their own struggles and just because someone might seem to be better than you or have it better than you, please don’t put yourself down because you really have no idea what they had to go through to get there. 

    Furaha Bayibsa

    So what if there’s someone in your class you think is a better writer than you? Go and read more scripts of films you like to learn more about the craft of screenwriting and become as good as them. So someone in class directed a great film and you’re jealous? Go and talk to that person. Ask them about the stuff you admired in the film, how they thought of it, the process. Go online and read trivia from directors from movies you like. Break down movies you like to understand them better. 

    Anyone can watch three movies a day, but you need to put in the behind-the-scenes work to actually grow. And don’t rush please, because we all grow at our own speed, okay? Also, be nice. Not just to your classmates, instructors too. They’re people just like you with feelings. Just trust me on this one—always be nice. 

    NYFA: Anything else you’d like to speak on?

    FB: First day of class, ask for the club brochures and join a club! If there’s no club you like at NYFA, create one yourself. No, it’s not as time consuming as you think, or as lame. NYFA has the resources to make your stay at school more than amazing with their student led clubs, and as a founder and former president to one of NYFA’s coolest and I want to say all-time best (?) clubs, I know what I’m talking about. Join a club! I’d recommend the African Black American (ABA) Film Society at the LA Campus if you’re there. I’ve heard some great things about them. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Filmmaking alum Furaha Bayibsa for taking the time to answer our questions and wishes her the best of luck as her career moves forward!

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    February 11, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 489

  • 2019 BAFTA Nominations Include Documentaries Worked On By New York Film Academy (NYFA) Faculty

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    UPDATE: The winners were announced last night, February 11. The list includes Free Solo, which won Best Documentary, and which was edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Bob Eisenhardt.

    The full list of winners for this year’s BAFTA Film Awards are named below.

    –February 12, 2019

    Nominations for the 2019 BAFTA Film Awards were announced earlier today, as this year’s awards season continues towards its crescendo.

    The BAFTA Awards are given out by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and celebrates cinematic achievements by both British artists and those around the world. The Academy was formed from the combination of the Guild of Television Producers and Directors, founded in 1953, and the British Film Academy, started in 1947. The first BAFTA Award went to silent film star and filmmaking legend Charlie Chaplin.

    Many of this year’s BAFTA nominees should seem familiar, as they have already been recognized by various industry guilds as well as this year’s Golden Globes. Historical comedy The Favourite dominated the nominations with a total of 12 following star Olivia Colman’s win for Best Actress at the Globes.

    Spike Lee picked up his first BAFTA nom for directing Best Film nominee BlackKklansman. Bradley Cooper broke BAFTA records by earning five nominations from five different disciplines for his film A Star is Born, which received seven total, including Best Film. 

    Two previous guest speakers of New York Film Academy (NYFA) also received BAFTA nominations. Adam Driver, who spoke with NYFA students at our New York campus last year, received a nod for Best Supporting Actor for his work in BlackKklansman. Glenn Close, who also spoke with NYFA students, picked up a Best Actress nomination for her starring role in The Wife. Close won earlier this week at the Golden Globe Awards for the same performance.

    Three films that were worked on by New York Film Academy faculty and alumni also received BAFTA nominations. Avengers: Infinity War received a nod for Best Special Visual Effects. NYFA 3D Animation and VFX alum Francesco Panzieri worked on the visual effects team for the epic blockbuster. 

    Additionally, two of this year’s Best Documentary nominees feature work by faculty members of the NYFA Documentary school. RBG, the hit documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, was shot by director of photography and cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke. Free Solo, the critically-acclaimed film about Alex Honnold as he attempts to free climb El Capitan, was edited by instructor Bob Eisenhardt. 

    Both films are also shortlisted for the Academy Awards, whose nominations will be announced later this month. New York Film Academy wishes them the best of luck!

    Here is a full list of this year’s BAFTA nominees. The WINNERS are listed in bold.

    Best Film
    BlacKkKlansman
    The Favourite
    Green Book
    Roma
    A Star Is Born

    Outstanding British Film
    Beast
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    McQueen
    Stan & Ollie
    You Were Never Really Here

    Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
    Apostasy — Daniel Kokotajlo
    Beast — Michael Pearce, Lauren Dark
    A Cambodian Spring — Chris Kelly
    Pili — Leanne Welham, Sophie Harman
    Ray & Liz — Richard Billingham, Jacqui Davies

    Film Not in the English Language
    Capernaum
    Cold War
    Dogman
    Roma
    Shoplifters

    Documentary
    Free Solo
    McQueen
    RBG
    They Shall Not Grow Old
    Three Identical Strangers

    Animated Film
    Incredibles 2
    Isle of Dogs
    Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

    Director
    BlacKkKlansman — Spike Lee
    Cold War — Paweł Pawlikowski
    The Favourite — Yorgos Lanthimos
    Roma — Alfonso Cuarón
    A Star Is Born — Bradley Cooper

    Original Screenplay
    Cold War
    The Favourite
    Green Book
    Roma
    Vice

    Adapted Screenplay
    BlacKkKlansman

    Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    First Man
    If Beale Street Could Talk
    A Star Is Born

    Leading Actress
    Glenn Close — The Wife
    Lady Gaga — A Star Is Born
    Melissa McCarthy — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Olivia Colman — The Favourite
    Viola Davis — Widows

    Leading Actor
    Bradley Cooper — A Star Is Born
    Christian Bale — Vice
    Rami Malek — Bohemian Rhapsody
    Steve Coogan — Stan & Ollie
    Viggo Mortensen — Green Book

    Supporting Actress
    Amy Adams — Vice
    Claire Foy — First Man
    Emma Stone — The Favourite
    Margot Robbie — Mary Queen of Scots
    Rachel Weisz — The Favourite

    Supporting Actor
    Adam Driver — BlacKkKlansman
    Mahershala Ali — Green Book
    Richard E. Grant — Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Sam Rockwell — Vice
    Timothée Chalamet — Beautiful Boy

    Original Music
    BlacKkKlansman
    If Beale Street Could Talk
    Isle of Dogs
    Mary Poppins Returns
    A Star Is Born

    Cinematography
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    Cold War
    The Favourite
    First Man
    Roma

    Editing
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    First Man
    Roma
    Vice

    Production Design
    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
    The Favourite
    First Man
    Mary Poppins Returns
    Roma

    Costume Design
    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    Mary Poppins Returns
    Mary Queen of Scots

    Makeup & Hair
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Favourite
    Mary Queen of Scots
    Stan & Ollie
    Vice

    Sound
    Bohemian Rhapsody
    First Man
    Mission: Impossible — Fallout
    A Quiet Place
    A Star Is Born

    Special Visual Effects
    Avengers: Infinity War
    Black Panther
    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
    First Man
    Ready Player One

    British Short Animation
    I’m OK
    Marfa
    Roughhouse

    British Short Film
    73 Cows
    Bachelor, 38
    The Blue Door
    The Field
    Wale

    EE Rising Star Award
    Barry Keoghan
    Cynthia Erivo
    Jessie Buckley
    Lakeith Stanfield
    Letitia Wright

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    February 11, 2019 • 3D Animation, Documentary Filmmaking, Entertainment News, Film School • Views: 1153

  • The BAFTA New York / New York Film Academy (NYFA) / DeWitt Clinton High School Digital Storytelling Program Holds Graduation Screening

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    The BAFTA New York / New York Film Academy (NYFA) / DeWitt Clinton High School Digital Storytelling Program recently held its first graduation ceremony, screening the students’ newly completed short films. Over the course of eight weeks, ten eager and enthusiastic students made their way each Saturday from the Bronx to the NYFA’s Battery Park campus to learn the fundamentals of filmmaking.

    Classes in screenwriting, directing, cinematography, and editing educated the students in telling stories in a medium for which they all have a great passion. Members of the BAFTA Outreach Committee as well as faculty and administrators from both schools joined with the students’ family and friends in the celebration. Aside from newly acquired filmmaking skills, students gained from the experience a boost in confidence, self-awareness, and expression. The program continues the partnership between New York Film Academy (NYFA) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) that has previously brought filmmaking workshops to young aspiring artists.

    As an added treat, the DeWitt Clinton students attended an exclusive pre-opening BAFTA screening of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. After a lively Q&A, the students spent a generous amount of time speaking with the film’s celebrated writer-producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Needless to say, the movie’s creators were mightily impressed when they learned that Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics and creator of Spider-Man, is amongst DeWitt Clinton High School’s illustrious alumni!

    As they continue to find their voices, BAFTA New York, DeWitt Clinton High School, and New York Film Academy look forward to seeing more cinematic stories from the recent grads of their Digital Storytelling Program!

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    February 8, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Outreach • Views: 292

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Kane Senes Makes Micro-Budget Film ‘For Now’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Kane Senes’ first feature, Echoes of War, is a period Western featuring high-end production value and a name cast. Where does one go from there? In Kane’s case, he went back to his DIY film-school roots. Armed with a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign and only the outline of a script, writer/director Kane Senes and fellow NYFA alum and director of photography Anton DuPreez hit the road (literally) and made For Now

    According to its official website, For Now is a “look at twenty-somethings adrift in the limbo between adolescence and adulthood, grappling with the superficial connections that define their generation.” The film was “shot on the road over seven days on a shoestring budget and with entirely improvised performances.” 

    Kane Senes For Now

    As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Senes and his fellow writers (Hannah Barlow and Katharine DuBois) were playing variation of themselves. And the tight schedule and budget meant they had no time for second takes or traditional coverage. 

    The result? A poignant coming of age/road movie akin to Diner, Noah Baumbach’s Kicking & Screaming, and the improvisatory works of John Cassavetes. Senes, DuPreez, Barlow, and DuBois had their official LA premiere of For Now at NYFA and talked about how they made their feature with little money and even less time.

    After attending a Q&A with low-budget maestros The Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, The MisEducation of Bindu), Barlow was inspired to create a film loosely centered on her relationship with her dancer Hannah Connor. An incredibly short four months and one Kickstarter campaign later, principal photography on the film was complete! 

    Kane Senes For Now

    Though initially hesitant to perform as the somewhat unsympathetic character “KANE SENES,” co-director Kane Senes realized that he needed to throw all aspects of himself into the project. This included some personal moments from his relationship with girlfriend/co-director/co-star  Hannah Barlow. The filmmakers soon discovered that the more personal they went with their story, the more relatable it became. However, DuBois (who is flat-out hysterical in the film) did stress that her character’s more “friendly” characteristics were pure fiction. 

    While a traditional narrative film might have a 10-to-1 raw-footage-to-final-edit shooting ratio, the For Now team’s approach meant they only had a few hours of footage to use. As an editor, Senes spent an extended amount of time in post-production and one lone day of reshoots to shape the improvisatory tale into a more cinematic story. Completing the film then led the team to their next big hurdle: distribution. Barlow and Kane connected with fellow NYFA alum Claudia Pickering, whose micro-budget film Frisky received international distribution and is currently being adapted for television. 

    Pickering’s sales agent watched For Now and fully committed to finding the movie distribution. And now, For Now has transformed from a improvisatory, crowd-funded project to a feature available to buy or rent on iTunes, Amazon, and countless other video platforms. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates the filmmakers for taking their passion project all the way to the finish line!

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    February 5, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 306

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Recaps the 2019 Golden Globes

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    Last night, movie and TV fans around the world watched the 76th Golden Globe Awards, where award winners were announced and presented with the famed statuettes at a televised dinner ceremony hosted by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg.

    The Golden Globe Awards are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and have been given out to cast and crew of film and television productions since 1944. The awards show is typically looser and more casual than other ceremonies like the Emmys and Academy Awards, with Hollywood stars drinking and mingling in a dinner atmosphere. 

    Highlights of the evening include Jeff Bridges winning the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry and the subsequent, seemingly off-the-cuff speech he gave that ranged from heartfelt thanks to his family and collaborators to the invention of ship rudders called trim tabs. Among many other feelings, Bridges referred to his role in The Big Lebowski: “If I’m lucky, I’ll be associated with The Dude for the rest of my life.”

    Other memorable moments from the evening included host Sandra Oh speaking to her parents from stage and winning a Globe herself for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama for her role in Killing Eve, and a surprise appearance by Taylor Swift, who presented the awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song. The latter award went to Lady Gaga for “Shallow”, seen here being covered by New York Film Academy (NYFA) student Amanda Jerlov:

    Additionally, the second Golden Globes ceremony since the start of the #MeToo movement contained multiple nods, references, and calls to action for more diversity in the entertainment industry for women and people of color.

    The big winners of the night was an eclectic mix of expected wins for favorites, mild surprises, and upsets. The Americans won Best Television Series – Drama for its final season, while The Kominsky Method won Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy for its inaugural first season. In a year of genre-bending films, Green Book won for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy while Bohemian Rhapsody took home the prize for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

    Glenn Close - Golden Globes
    NYFA Guest Speaker Glenn Close winning the Golden Globe

    Veteran actress and previous New York Film Academy guest speaker Glenn Close also surprised many with her win for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, for which A Star is Born lead Lady Gaga was considered a favorite. Close seemed genuinely surprised and gave a powerful, tearful speech that touched on her mother and gender roles in both the industry and society as a whole. 

    After describing how her mother regretted not doing more with her life, Close told the audience, “Women — we’re nurturers — and that’s what’s expected of us… but we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, ‘I can do that’ and ‘I should be allowed to do that.’”

    Other NYFA guest speakers were at the Golden Globes too, as well as several alumni. New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Widows, The Magnificent Seven) was in attendance, as was NYFA Camp alum Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, X-Men: Apocalypse.)

    Former Saturday Night Live star and NYFA Workshop Alum Bill Hader was also present last night. Hader earned five Emmy nominations last year for his work on Barry, a dark comedy about a midwestern hitman who moves to Hollywood to become an actor. At that awards show, Hader picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor. The Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy was the latest achievement in the comedic actor’s evolving career.

    Bill Hader Golden Globes
    NYFA Workshop Alum Bill Hader at the Golden Globes

    The show itself was nominated for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, an impressive feat for a new series with only one season of episodes to date. Barry has received glowing reviews since its 2018 debut, with Hader’s performance being an obvious standout. 

    Hader’s Barry co-star, Henry Winkler, was also nominated for a Golden Globe, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. The veteran television actor has previously been a guest speaker at New York Film Academy. 

    Golden Globes - Henry Winkler
    NYFA Guest Speaker Henry Winkler at the Golden Globes

    Other guest speakers and lecturers at New York Film Academy have also worked on several Golden Globe-nominated works this year, including Adam Driver. Driver spoke with NYFA students in New York City earlier this year, and has a featured role in BlacKKKlansman, nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

    Guest speaker for NYFA Los Angeles Amy Smeed served as an animator on Ralph Breaks the Internet,Golden Globe nominees for Best Motion Picture – Animated. Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose agent Andrew Finkelstein spoke with NYFA students in a productive Q&A at our Los Angeles campus, was a nomineefor Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for his role in Mary Poppins Returns.

    Manuel Garcia-Ruflo Golden Globes
    NYFA Acting for Film Alum Manuel Garcia-Rulfo at the Golden Globes

    Additionally, Francesco Panzieri, an alum of New York Film Academy’s animation school, worked on the HBO series Westworld, whose star Thandie Newton earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. Panzieri is a Visual Effects artist whose other credits include Spider-Man: Homecoming, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Avengers: Infinity War.

    Eric Demeusy, who attended the 1-Year Filmmaking program at NYFA’s film school in Los Angeles, also worked on Westworld, having helped create its famous and evocative title sequence. Demeusy has previously won the Emmy for Main Title Design for his work on Netflix smash hit, Stranger Things.

    Bill Hader Golden Globes
    NYFA Workshop Alum Bill Hader at the Golden Globes with Patricia Clarkson

    The New York Film Academy is proud to see its alumni and other members of its community involved with such highly regarded, award-winning productions.

    Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and nominees! Here is a full list of the winners and nominees for the 2019 Golden Globe Awards:

    Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

    Green Book
    The Favourite
    Vice
    Mary Poppins Returns
    Crazy Rich Asians

    Best Motion Picture, Drama

    Bohemian Rhapsody
    BlacKkKlansman
    If Beale Street Could Talk
    Black Panther
    A Star Is Born

    Best TV Movie or Limited Series

    The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    The Alienist
    Escape at Dannemora
    Sharp Objects
    A Very English Scandal

    Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy

    The Kominsky Method
    The Good Place
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Kidding
    Barry

    Best TV Series, Drama

    The Americans
    Bodyguard
    Homecoming
    Killing Eve
    Pose

    Best Foreign Language Film

    Roma
    Capernaum
    Girl
    Never Look Away
    Shoplifters

    Best Motion Picture, Animated

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
    Incredibles 2
    Isle of Dogs
    Mirai
    Ralph Breaks the Internet

    Best Director – Motion Picture

    Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
    Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
    Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
    Adam McKay, Vice
    Peter Farrelly, Green Book

    Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

    Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie; Green Book
    Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
    Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite
    Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
    Adam McKay, Vice

    Best Original Score – Motion Picture

    Justin Hurwitz, First Man
    Marco Beltrami, A Quiet Place
    Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
    Ludwig Goransson, Black Panther
    Marc Shaiman, Mary Poppins Returns 

    Best Original Song – Motion Picture

    “Shallow,” A Star is Born
    “All The Stars,” Black Panther 
    “Girl in the Movies,” Dumpling
    “Requiem for a Private War,” A Private War
    “Revelation,” Boy Erased

    Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

    Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
    Amy Adams, Vice
    Claire Foy, First Man
    Emma Stone, The Favourite
    Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

    Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

    Mahershala Ali, Green Book
    Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
    Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
    Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Sam Rockwell, Vice

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

    Olivia Coleman, The Favourite
    Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
    Charlize Theron, Tully
    Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
    Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

    Glenn Close, The Wife
    Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
    Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
    Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Rosamund Pike, A Private War

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

    Christian Bale, Vice
    Lin Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns
    Viggo Mortinson, Green Book
    Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun
    John C Riley, Stan And Ollie

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

    Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
    Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
    Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
    Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased
    John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

    Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

    Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
    Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
    Connie Britton, Dirty John
    Laura Dern, The Tale
    Regina King, Seven Seconds

    Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

    Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso
    Daniel Bruhl, The Alienist
    Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
    Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal 

    Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Limited Series, or TV Movie

    Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects
    Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Penelope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Thandie Newton, Westworld
    Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series or TV Movie

    Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
    Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
    Kieran Culkin, Succession
    Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Henry Winkler, Barry

    Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy

    Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Kristen Bell, The Good Place
    Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown
    Alison Brie, Glow
    Debra Messing, Will & Grace

    Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy

    Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
    Sasha Baron Cohen, Who Is America?
    Jim Carrey, Kidding
    Donald Glover, Atlanta
    Bill Hader, Barry

    Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama

    Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
    Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
    Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Julia Roberts, Homecoming
    Keri Russell, The Americans

    Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama

    Richard Madden, Bodyguard
    Jason Bateman, Ozark
    Stephan James, Homecoming
    Billy Porter, Pose
    Matthew Rhys, The Americans


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  • Q&A with ‘A Country Christmas Story’ Filmmakers

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    On Friday, December 14, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of A Country Christmas Story (2013) followed by a Q&A with director and NYFA instructor Eric Bross, and writer and NYFA instructor Steven Peros, moderated by NYFA student, Bakyt Zhumadilova.

    Bross is known for directing Affairs of State (2018), Traffic (2004) and Stranger Than Fiction (2000) and Peros is known for writing Footprints (2009), The Undying (2009) and The Cat’s Meow (2001).

    A Country Christmas Story

    Zhumadilova opened the Q&A by asking Peros about his inspiration for the screenplay. Peros said he started by researching the history of country music and its prevalence in the South, then adding layers of complexity to the story by making the protagonist both a child of divorce and biracial within that world. 

    Peros also wanted the film to be about the various characters’ relationships with music and the arts and added that the music teacher in the film was inspired by a teacher he had when he was a kid.

    Zhumadilova inquired about what it was like for Peros to write A Country Christmas Story star Dolly Parton’s lines knowing she was going to be playing herself in the film. “The funny thing about writing her was, I had written this thing… and suddenly I’m on set going, ‘I’m about to meet Dolly Parton!’ Is she gonna come up to me and say, ‘Well, first off, Steven, I don’t talk like that at all,’” joked Peros. “But she didn’t at all! She didn’t want to change anything… so I was somehow channeling my inner Dolly Parton.”

    “I just thought he really captured her voice,” added Bross.

    Peros shared that Parton suggested that she sing instead of just introducing the music contest at the end of the film. “She just kept giving us gifts.” said Bross.

    A Country Christmas Story

    Peros shared that one of the most notable moments of the shoot was when Parton sang in between takes to entertain extras in the audience. “She knew that all those extras who were there pretty much for free… were there for her,” he said. “She never left the stage… she sang ‘Tennessee Waltz’… and it was like a moment out of a movie; one by one, everything started to get silent.”

    The discussion then moved onto producing a film like A Country Christmas Story on a tight shoot schedule and a tight budget. Bross advised filmmakers to keep the frame focused on the actors as much as possible when working with a small budget because sometimes it’s difficult to afford full, dressed sets. This way the story would still be the center of the film.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank A Country Christmas Story filmmakers Eric Bross and Steven Peros for sharing their entertaining anecdotes from the shooting of the film, as well as their production advice for students.


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    January 4, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 368

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Attend ‘The Price of Free’ Screening

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    A select group of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary and Filmmaking students were invited to attend The Price of Free, a feature-length documentary which screened on November 10, 2018 at the Studio City Film Festival. The film depicts Kailash Satyarthi, who left a career as an electrical engineer to start Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) in an effort to rescue children from slavery. 

    Along with Sanora Bartels, Chair of Documentary NYFA-LA, the selected NYFA students in attendance were from both BFA and MFA programs and included, from Documentary: Lucia Florez, Assemgul Sarsembayeva and Khalila Suprapto; and from Filmmaking: Jose Miguel Perez, Jenny Mochahari, Katherine Russell, and Aastha Verma.

    The Price of Free Screening

    All of the students felt it was an important event and looked forward to attending. Before the screening, Katherine Russell, Spring 2018 BFA Filmmaking student, told NYFA:

    “I’ve always considered myself very socially conscious. I began my first undergraduate career as a political science and sociology double major at Penn State. Throughout my filmmaking career at NYFA and beyond I plan to inject these passions and what I’ve learned into my films. This film piques my interest for these exact reasons.”

    The film did not disappoint; Derek Doneen’s direction is deeply moving. The story opens in a raid on a factory to save several children from slave labor. The camera work and action immediately pulls the audience into the center of the conflict.

    The audience is then taken back to the beginning of Satyarthi’s work, and the history of the struggle is conveyed through masterful animation and several interviews with key supporters of the cause. Some of the most compelling footage is “observational” — using hidden cameras — of the charity workers as they go undercover as “buyers of goods” in an attempt to expose the locations of illegal factories and their captive labor. 

    The work is not for the faint of heart. Throughout, the worthiness of the project is expressed in the experiences of the children who are freed from shackles and able to pursue education.

    The screening was followed by a Q&A session with The Price of Free director, Derek Doneen, and its featured subject, Nobel Prize winner Kailash. Satyarthi was asked how he had the courage to begin and continue the work to free children from slavery, considering the dangers involved. In addition to the very real threat of reprisal from the criminals running the factories, there are police officers who are bribed and, at best, look the other way, and, at worst, savagely beat those who attempt to break the children free.

    Satyarthi replied to the question with a smile and shared a lovely Indian folktale:

    “One day a terrible fire broke out in the jungle – a huge section was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the jungle. As they came to the edge of a stream, they stopped to watch the fire and were feeling very discouraged and powerless.

    “They all bemoaned the destruction of their homes, except the hummingbird. The hummingbird swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water in its beak and flew into the jungle to put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. Finally, the tiger grew concerned for the hummingbird’s safety: ‘It is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire. What do you think you’re doing!?’

    “The hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, ‘I am doing what I can.'”

    The Price of Free Screening

    After the screening, the students enthusiastically shared their experience and thoughts about moving forward:

    “After watching The Price of Free you will never be the same. You will carefully read the labels in supermarkets. You will evaluate your every purchase and think whether [you] really need another decorative box or a candle. Consumerism at its highest degree of barbarism is the focus of Derek Doneen’s film… Kailash Satyarthi has a mission: the battle for the right of every kid on this planet to have a childhood.”

    —Asem Nurlanova, Fall 2017 MFA Documentary

    “From the opening of the documentary to the last frame, there was not a minute where I felt unmoved or a disconnect by the reality of the harsh hitting stories. The director, Derek Doneen, did an exceptional job bringing the reality to life. As the credits rolled, I saw people right, left, and center tearing up, almost sobbing. 

    “Not a lot of people have the power to move the world forward with them, he surely is one of them. It was an honor and an inspiration to be in the same room and having a moving conversation with the humble man himself, Mr. Satyarthi. I highly recommend for everybody to watch The Price of Free and would like to thank Crickett Rumley and NYFA-LA for the opportunity.” 

    —Aastha Verma, Fall 2017 MFA Filmmaking 

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    January 3, 2019 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 379

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Student Wins Big with ‘Lip Reader: Game of Detective’

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    On December 20, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA student Shi Tanxuan showcased his short film, Lip Reader: Game of Detective at the 15th Guangzhou College Student Film Festival, one of China’s most prestigious student film festivals. It came away as one of the festival’s biggest winners.

    Lip Reader: Game of Detective is a comedic detective story, written to be part of a cinematic, “special detective universe” — a rare and ambitious trait for a student film. Lip Reader tells the story of Lin, a college student with a severe hearing impairment, who has a fantastic talent for reading lips. Lin, who works as an “intelligence analyst” for a paparazzi company, must track down a missing $20 million diamond necklace two days before a popular Chinese actress is to wear it at the Academy Awards. 

    Lip Reader: Game of Detective - Shi Tanxuan

    Lip Reader stood out from more than 500 short films at the 15th Guangzhou College Student Film Festival. The event is one of two college student film festivals approved by China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Popular with students across the country and beyond, it plays an important role in promoting Chinese movies. 

    By the end of the festival, it had won the Gold Award in the “Original Motion Picture and Animation Film Competition (Drama) competition. Additionally, it picked up the “Huayi Brothers Media Group Star-making Entertainment Special Award” at the award ceremony.

    Shi Tanxuan started the MFA in Filmmaking program at New York Film Academy in Summer 2017 at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. In addition to writing and directing Lip Reader, he also put together a cast and crew of several other Chinese students and alumni from NYFA, including:

    General Executive Producer
    Peipei Duan
    2017 Fall MFA Producing

    Second Unit Director
    Kaibo Xu
    2017 Fall MFA Filmmaking

    1st & 2nd Assistant Director
    Fei Chen
    Mengmeng
    2018 Fall BFA Filmmaking

    Post Supervisor
    Cherry Cao
    MFA Fall 2015 Filmmaking

    Post Production Coordinator
    Zhenghao Yang
    2016 Fall MFA Filmmaking

    Cast:
    Klay Li
    2016 Spring MFA Filmmaking

    Demi Ke
    2015 Spring MFA Acting for Film

    Xinran Cao
    2018 Summer MFA Acting

    Yiwen Sun
    BFA Fall 16 Acting 1C

    Jiani Yang
    BFA Acting 2017

    Lip Reader: Game of Detective - Shi Tanxuan

    The New York Film Academy congratulates the above students and alumni on their hard work and wishes Shi Tanxuan the best of luck as he expands the story and universe of Lip Reader: Game of Detective!


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    December 27, 2018 • China, Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 514

  • The Magic City: Florence, Italy

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    Recently, on a rainy afternoon in Florence, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with students at New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Florence location, located in a charming state-of-the-art facility on Via Torta, near the Basilica di Santa Croce. 

    The students had just returned — soaked and exhausted — from a long day filming the last scenes of their final projects. The “crews,” each comprised of four or five students, all used the city of Florence as the “film set” for their visual stories. They were in the homestretch, although they still had a few demanding days ahead, editing their films before presenting their work at the graduation screening and celebration of the conclusion of their semester abroad programs in Filmmaking and Acting for Film. These students came from 12 countries — the United States, Hungary, Ukraine, Iran, Netherlands, Romania, UK, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, and Mexico. 

    Florence 2018

    After unloading their camera gear, we sat down and spoke about the impressions of their time in Florence, and at NYFA, during the past 12 weeks. “Life-changing” was the most echoed description; all heads also nodded “yes” when one student said, “this study abroad opportunity has by far been the best experience of my life so far; during these months I have grown so much as a person and as a filmmaker. ”

    One student fervently told me that, while he had had a passion for acting from a young age, before NYFA he had doubts about whether it was something he wanted to pursue instead of an economics degree; but now he wants nothing more than to be an actor.

    All of the students’ reactions warmed me with joyfulness and “NYFA pride.” There was more under the surface because all of the sentiments were very familiar to me — each word and narrative brought back vivid and distinct memories…

    Florence 2018

    It was 1976 when my feet stepped off a plane at the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome and a new phase of my life began. Much of it stays with me to this very day, and now, encircled by this wonderful group of young “creatives,” more and more remembrances came rushing back to me. 

    I arrived at 18, never having previously left US soil, with just $300 dollars in my pocket and a full scholarship to study art in Florence that was graciously provided by publishing icon, Anna K. Meredith. At a later point I learned that Ms. Meredith, who at the time headed the family’s The Meredith Corporation — a massive publishing empire that produces dozens of the most popular magazines (including Sports Illustrated, Fortune and PEOPLE) — personally chose me as the first recipient of her generous study abroad grant. 

    My route to this study abroad experience was an extraordinary one; I was a freshman at the University of Denver and in the Spring of that year my favorite art instructor approached me — quite out of the blue — and handed me a formal document. “Read it!” she ardently and rather exuberantly stated. It was an acceptance letter from a US-accredited Art School in Florence. I was offered an acceptance and didn’t even know that I had applied! My professor, seeing my dismay, explained, “Jim, I applied on your behalf because I knew if you had this opportunity, it would change your art and your life in so many amazing ways.”

    Florence 2018

    Now, I knew that in a week this delightful group of talented young people would be saying goodbye to the city of Florence, to the New York Film Academy staff and faculty, to their classmates and their friends, and that they would walk forward — as I did 40 years ago — into lives that will be forever changed for the better. 

    My teacher was certainly more accurate than she could ever have imagined. It is both the magic of Florence and the impact of the experience of studying abroad that simply cannot be explained well in words, because they reside in a spirit deep within the city — and at the same time — in one’s own heart. 

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    December 24, 2018 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Study Abroad • Views: 389

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) and Hangzhou Culture Radio Television Group Establish Cooperative Training Base

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn October 27, 2018, the New York Film Academy – Hangzhou Culture Radio Television Group Cooperative Training Base was formally established. China Hangzhou Culture

    David Klein, Senior Executive Vice President of the New York Film Academy (NYFA), and the Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and Editor-in-Chief Zheng Guilan jointly inaugurated the Cooperation Training Base. Mr. Klein travelled from NYFA’s New York City location for the event.

    On June 16, the Group’s Film Project Team and New York Film Academy signed the “Memorandum of Strategic Cooperation”; on October 15, the Secretary of the Party Committee and President of the Group, Yu Xinping, met with the CEO of New York Film Academy, Jean Sherlock, and New York Film Academy Executive Vice President Zhu (Joy) Yuhua. 

    Together, the group discussed the joint establishment of a film and television training cooperation project as soon as possible, as well as a long-term training cooperation system. 

    The establishment of the cooperative training base will enhance the brand influence of Hangzhou Cultural Film Industry with an international vision and form a broader communication and practice platform for Chinese and American film and television talents.

    China Hangzhou CultureThis is in line with the growing influence and interdependence of Chinese cinema and culture on a worldwide audience. As Chinese co-productions with international and major movie studios increase in number and scope, the New York Film Academy has also looked to strengthen relations with the film and cultural institutions of China.

    In addition to educating many aspiring filmmakers, actors, and visual artists from China as part of its international student body, NYFA has also held workshops in China as well, including in Shanghai and, as recently as this summer, in Beijing. Furthermore, the Academy has also hosted workshops for visiting Chinese students at its locations in Los Angeles and New York City.

    The New York Film Academy looks forward to continued cooperation with the Hangzhou Cultural Film Industry and to the success of the New York Film Academy – Hangzhou Culture Radio Television Group Cooperative Training Base!

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    October 30, 2018 • China, Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, International Diversity • Views: 401