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  • Celebrating Fulbright Student Highlights at the New York Film Academy

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    Each year New York Film Academy (NYFA) welcomes Fulbright International students from all around the globe. A proud participant in what is considered the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, NYFA has been the school of choice for inspirational, creative minds worldwide. Here are some of our brightest scholars’ stories.

    Pedro Peira

    Pedro attended NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory program in Documentary Filmmaking and is already finding success. Soul, which he executive produced, screened at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). Of his time at NYFA Pedro says:

    “What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories. 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 is now streaming on iTunes,  Amazon Video, and Google Play.

    Abdallah El Daly

    Already a successful journalist in Egypt, Abdallah came to NYFA to study filmmaking and enhance his storytelling skills. He is keenly aware of the impact movies can have on people and his thesis film, Doors of Mercy, seeks to shed light on the plight an Egyptian woman can face when giving birth to a child out of wedlock.

    Monika Sedziute

    Monika is a portrait and fashion photographer whose work has been published in IKONA, L’Officiel, Elegant Magazine, Promo Magazine, Shuba Magazine, Eden Magazine, Fayn Magazine, Stilius Magazine, Zurda Magazine (online), The Wrap (online), and Luxure Magazine. Her work was also featured at the 2017 edition of Photoville, one of New York’s premier photography festivals.

    Melarissa Sjarief

    A New York Film Academy MFA Screenwriting alum, Melarissa wants to help grow the film industry in her native Indonesia and empower women by telling their stories. She has said that being a Fulbright scholar and being able to make personal and professional connections throughout the course of her studies has been a life-changing experience. Of her time at NYFA she’s said:

    “I learned a lot about structure, dialogue, character. I feel like I now have the skills that are expected of me. That’s why I want to use my voice to speak for those who can’t.”

    Hugo Salvaterra

    Already a founder of a production company in his homeland of Angola, Hugo earned his Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking at NYFA’s Los Angeles Campus. Even though he was encouraged to pursue medicine and engineering, of which Angola is in dire need, he replied, “To me, culture is just as important as those other things.”

    For further information visit the Fulbright webpage.

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  • From Navy SEAL to 12 Strong With New York Film Academy Alum Kenny Sheard

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    Few people have the grit and the determination to become a Navy SEAL, but New York Film Academy alum Kenny Sheard has shown that no matter what he sets his mind to, he brings in the full force of his incredible work ethic, talent, and stamina. After honorably serving in the Navy for 12 years and attaining a place with the world famous, elite Navy SEALS, Sheard has managed to forge an entirely new and challenging path for himself in the civilian world as an actor and stunt performer in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and series.

    Sheard booked his first stunt job in the Transformers franchise while still actively serving in the reserves, and from there, came to NYFA to master new skills in Filmmaking. Since then, his creative career has skyrocketed, with stunt credits in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fear of the Walking Dead, Logan, and the upcoming Avatar 2, among many many more. His acting credits continue to build up as well, with his most recent appearance alongside Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong, now available to stream on Amazon.

    NYFA alum Kenny Sheard via IMDB

    Through it all, Sheard has worked hard to keep learning, stay humble, and encourage fellow veterans as they transition to civilian life. Here, he shares his best advice and some of his story with the NYFA Blog. Check out what he has to say:

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    KS: I’m originally from Miami, FL, and attended College in Newburg, NY, for a few years, but didn’t finish. I moved home, joined the military in May of 2001, and served on active duty until May 2013. In 2010, while assigned to a training command, I was given an opportunity to use my saved up leave (vacation time) to play a minor stunt/acting role on Transformers 3. That experience and a multitude of things that followed are what ultimately lead me to the Filmmaking course at NYFA.

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most about film? What stories are you most passionate to tell?

    KS: Films have entertained and inspired me as far back as I can recall. I enjoy reading; however, films have had a more substantial impact on me. In my experience, I’m able to feel and perceive the world through this visual medium in ways that I might not ever have had the chance to, like through a mother’s loving eyes or a tormented serial killer. Personally, I prefer fiction over reality-based stories. That said, some of the most influential films I’ve seen have also been “based on true story” movies. The stories I’m passionate to tell lean on the darker and grittier side.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    KS: I don’t have any favorite standout moments, but I got a ton out of the experience. The teachers were knowledgeable and went above and beyond.

    NYFA: As a veteran, what is your best advice to fellow veterans and active service members interested in transitioning into the visual and performing arts?

    KS: My advice would be to stay focused on your goals/dreams, be true to who you are always, and destroy the ego. Use the discipline, structure, and attention to detail you’ve acquired from your time of service and apply it to your new creative ventures in life.

    Have a work hard, hustle attitude, with a positive and open mind. Don’t ever hang your choice to serve over anyone’s head, ever.

    Sounds like a cheesy poster, but hey, get after it!

    NFYA: You launched your career in the Transformers franchise while still serving in the reserves. What was that experience like?

    KS: Being a part of Transformers was awesome. I met Michael Bay and Harry Humphries through a friend, Echy.

    I can’t say enough great things about Bay and being exposed to a film set like that. I enjoyed every moment, and it came at a time when I had no idea what to do next in life. If I tried to put words to the whole experience and what it’s meant to me, it would degrade it.

    NYFA: You’ve worked in some incredibly successful, major films — from John Wick to 13 Hours and Transformers: Age of Extinction. What is your best advice to our students to prepare for the transition from school to a large-scale blockbuster set?

    KS: That’s a tough one. I think some people get it, and some don’t. I can’t imagine anything I write here might shatter any glass for readers. See my advice to veterans; it applies to all.

    NYFA: Acting and stunts — how does your preparation process change depending on your work?

    KS: These are two very different worlds, which I’m on the bottom of the barrel in both. When it comes to acting, I’m just playing myself. Other than knowing my lines, which have yet to be extensive, there’s not a ton of prep for me.

    Stunts, on the other hand, require a ton of prep. I think I need to point out here that I’m relatively green in the stunt world. The pool of talent I’ve had the honor of working with in the stunt world is insane, and I’m far from being considered anyone of a high caliber. My tactical background has helped me out tremendously, but I’m still learning a ton every project I’m on.

    NYFA: What is your favorite part of working in stunts? Have there been any surprises and challenges along the way, and how do you overcome them?

    KS: My favorite part of working in the stunt community has been the people. Every project I’m on, I’m always impressed with the talent and comradery. I can’t say that I’ve ever been surprised, but it’s always challenging and fun.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about 12 Strong? What was that filming experience like?

    KS: 12 Strong was an outstanding experience. From meeting the guys whom the story was about, to working with all the talented actors and stunt team, it was awesome. I wouldn’t know where to start, the director and producers were solid to work for as well.

    It’s a hard thing telling a true story, and I think Nicolai Fuglsig did an exceptional job. The men who the story is about were very pleased with it, and you can’t ask for anything better than that. I was deeply honored to play Bill Bennett, a medic who later lost his life overseas in Iraq in 2003.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kenny Sheard for taking the time to share his story with the NYFA community. 12 Strong is available to stream on Amazon.

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  • Welcoming Saudi Culture to the New York Film Academy

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    On Monday, April 2, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) was honored to host Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Culture (GCA) at our Los Angeles campus as a part of the Authority’s “Saudi Cultural Days.”

    Traditional Arabic coffee and caramelized sesame-covered dates were served, as Saudi students mixed and mingled before a screening of student work in the New York Film Academy’s theatre, followed by a Q&A.

    “Today is about embracing our culture, and inspiring kids from all over Saudi,” Rakan Anneghaimshi said with enthusiasm. He and Maan Bin Abdulrahman hosted the Q&A with legendary Hollywood producer Ted Field, best known for both Jumanji movies, The Chronicles of Riddick franchise, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and much more.

    During the event, NYFA had the honor of hosting distinguished guests including Khaled Al Saqer, Meshal AlSaleh, Abdulaziz AlMutairi, Faisal Al Houli, and Abdulla Alsaboosi. News channels from Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Channel 1 and Rotana, were also in attendance.

    From left to right: Aziz AlMutairi, Faisal AlHouli, Khaled AlSaqer, Dan Mackler, and Meshal AlSaleh.

    Preceding the Ted Fields Q&A, NYFA screened seven short films for these impressive guests, each directed and/or produced by a Saudi student or alumni. Each filmmaker had the incredible opportunity to show these guests their passion for cinema, and display skills they had gained by dedicating themselves to the craft of storytelling at NYFA.

    Following the screening of the short films by NYFA students, Guest Speaker Ted Field said of the work, “I was truly touched … The editing was masterful; the pacing was perfect … whatever mentoring was involved was first class.” Field said he could tell the instructors have a considerable amount of passion for what they do. Convinced that the students’ work could be accepted into Sundance and Cannes film festivals, he also encouraged the students to submit their films to the Academy Awards.

    New York Film Academy Dean of Enrollment Services Tami Alexander said of the event, “The Academy is very proud of our Saudi students and alumni, and we are honored to be able to host the GCA at NYFA Los Angeles. What a wonderful way to celebrate Saudi Culture, our students and the important work the GCA is doing. We look forward to future collaborations.”

    The mission of the GCA involves creating change, delivering to the world something unique from Saudi Arabia, and increasing cultural acceptance through art such as film, music, and theatre. After a 35-year ban on theatres in Saudi Arabia, as of December 2017, The Kingdom is embracing the cinematic arts by opening theaters across the country. According to the GCA’s VP of Foreign Affairs, it is a massive step forward for Saudis, who can now contribute more directly to this global and unified language.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Saudi’s General Authority for Culture, our honored guests, and all those involved in the creation of this event for their contribution to this important mission.

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  • Indian Film Festival Los Angeles and New York Film Academy Renew their Partnership in 2018

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to be a promotional partner of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema. Screening from April 11-15 at Regal LA Live, this year’s lineup features award-winning new work from Indian filmmakers around the world, and NYFA alumni, students, faculty, and staff will be on hand to experience it from beginning to end.

    “I’ve been attending the Indian Film Festival since 2004, when I introduced and moderated a shorts program and Q&A,” said directing instructor Nick Sivakumaran. “The window it presents into the diversity and quality of Indian cinema never ceases to amaze me.”

    IFFLA 2018 Opening Night Film In The Shadows stars Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, and Neeraj Kabi, in a drama about surveillance and memory.

    IFFLA has graciously invited NYFA students to two programs of short films on April 13 and 14, and provided the NYFA student community a discount code for $2 off tickets.  

    Filmmaking Department Coordinator Prarthana Joshi noted that she had already watched several of the short films, and was excited to see the features — particularly Bornila Chatterjee’s The Hungry, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, that was screened at the Toronto Film Festival last September.  

    “Bornila Chatterjee is a young female filmmaker working outside of the traditional Bollywood system,” said Prarthana. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her film and learning more about how she is making her career happen.”

    Rima Das’s “Village Rocksters” features a powerful female-led narrative and will be the Closing Night film of IFFLA 2018. The screening will be preceded by an Awards Ceremony featuring a prestigious jury: Reza Aslan, Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, and Sundance breakout Aneesh Chaganty.

    Acting for film student Pauline Yang (Fall 2017 1 Year Acting for Film) will be volunteering for the Festival. “I really like being a part of film festivals because it brings a community together,” she said. “Everyone is always so excited to be a part of it, and the audience seems to always have a great time.”  

    In addition, NYFA alumni Rukmani Jones (Jan 2009 MFA Producing) and Ruchi Kishore (Sep 2012 MFA Filmmaking) both work for the Festival, with Rukmani serving as Filmmaker Liaison and Ruchi as Volunteer Manager.  

    “This is my fourth year being involved with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles,” said Ruchi, “And with every year my love and appreciation for the IFFLA community grows deeper.” 

    To see the full line-up of films, please visit www.indianfilmfestival.org.  The NYFA community can use the promotion code NYFA2018PP for a $2 discount off all tickets.

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  • Shivalik Shankar’s Film Let Me Be Supports World Autism Month

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    Did you know that April is World Autism Month? This week kicked off with World Autism Day, an event where, as Autism Speaks explained, “hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world, light blue in recognition of people living with autism.”

    With the world coming together in blue light for World Autism Day, New York Film Academy BFA Filmmaking grad Shivalik Shankar went a step further to promote awareness and advocacy for autism yesterday, with his film Let Me Be.

    Shankar directed and co-wrote the short film, which follows an autistic teenager who asserts his independence and expresses his needs by escaping from a day care program to visit the beach. It’s a touching story that depicts many perspectives, including the struggles of the teenager’s parents to manage his care as well as the teen’s struggle for autonomy and acceptance

    The themes of acceptance and awareness run deep in Shivalik Shankar’s filmography, with numerous mental health and disability topics depicted in his work.

    The rising filmmaker told Chandigarh’s Daily Pioneer, “I like a strong storyline, a message to spread across, and autism is one issue which needs to be understood better and across all societies.”

    Bravo! It’s always inspiring to see our alums putting their storytelling skills to work for a purpose. If you’d like to become involved in World Autism Month, visit Autism Speaks.

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  • Filmmaking Grad Jesse Kove Helps Save the World in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

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    It’s not easy forging your own path in independent film, but New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking grad Jesse Kove has blazed a trail straight into the hearts of video game and ‘80s film fans with the upcoming adventure flick Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    The film recently wrapped in Arizona, and Kove took the time out of his busy schedule to tell the NYFA Blog more about his work, his exciting projects, and what’s next. Check out what he has to say:

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    JK: My journey started as a young boy growing up in the film business around my father, (Martin Kove). I was six months old and on movies sets, and I still remember vividly today all the different film sets I’ve been on around the country, and the world that my father brought me along with — traveling with him or visiting him when he was on location was always my favorite thing. It was like going to Disneyland for me, the make-believe. It was always something different, whether [a film was set] in the future or going back in time to the West, I always loved it.

    One of my favorite trips was to India. We had an unforgettable time together. They filmed in Hyderabad, where they literally have a city just for filmmaking. I would travel on my own and walk around and look at all the backdrops and different film sets and feel right at home. I would watch the filmmaking process as well, and ask lots of questions. This was the best education a young filmmaker could get and I was very fortunate to have these opportunities.

    Back home I would make my own little movies with action figures and G.I. Joes. That’s how it all started. I would also copy what I saw in classic movies that my father and I would watch together, The Seventh Samurai, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and Casablanca, all the classics! Making movies is in my blood and its been my passion since early childhood.

    NYFA: Growing up in a show-business family, was there anything that you learned in your time at NYFA that surprised you?

    JK: What I loved so much about NYFA that I didn’t get enough of on film sets was actually learning the basics and history of film cameras, and actually shooting on real film. This was very special, and I was so grateful for NYFA to allow us to do that.

    Also just truly understanding how a digital camera works — the inner workings and technical aspects of all cameras. This is so important, these tools create great filmmakers! It is the knowledge and technology of filmmaking, and they’ve got it down!

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    JK: There are so many memories of when I was at NYFA. The fondest memories were the relationships and time I had with fellow students — who I am still friends with today. In the industry, relationships are everything!

    NYFA: Can you tell us about Max Reload and the Nether Blasters? What drew you to this project?

    JK:  Max Reload and the Nether Blasters:

    A small town video game store clerk must go from zero to hero after accidentally unleashing the forces of evil from a cursed Colecovision game… Max Jenkins’ gaming fantasies collide with reality when a legendary “lost” installment of the Nether Game series appears on the store counter of his workplace, Fallout Games. Unbeknownst to Max, the game bears a “Curse of The Ages”, and in playing it, he has just unlocked the Nether, an ancient malevolent force of evil from the cartridge, upon his small hometown. Along with a mysterious masked man and his two best friends, Liz and Reggie, Max must figure out how to beat the Nether at its own game before its Game Over for humanity.

    This is a great project that I’m very excited about. The inception actually started two years before this film was written. Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp, the writers, directors, and producers, (CineForge Media) had written a short film called Show No Mercy, starring my father and me.

    The idea behind the short was all ‘80s galore and nostalgia: The story follows an arcade store owner (my father) who secretly is John Kreese, his character from The Karate Kid (although never mentioned, that’s a nice Easter egg for everyone), and his young store clerk (me), who both end up getting sucked into an arcade game. They have to fight each other to escape.

    It’s an extremely well done short and I highly recommend everyone go and watch it. The film premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada as well as the Phoenix Comic Fest in Arizona. Making that film was such a fun and creative experience, we all wanted to work together again as soon as possible. Thus, Max Reload came to fruition.

    I got a call from Scott asking if I’d read his new script. I instantly fell in love with it and knew it had huge potential. They had written a character (Steve) basically based on me, but I won’t say too much because you will have to go watch it!

    There are some stellar actors attached to this film, both new and veteran — Greg Grunberg, who is a riot; Hassie Harrison; Lin Shay from the Insidious films; Kevin Smith, who graciously tagged along as he loves indie films, this one caught his eye and we were very lucky to get him; Joseph Reitman; Tom Plumley; Joey Morgan; and of course my father.

    The film will be released around September.

    NYFA: Were you a big fan of video games growing up? Do you have a favorite?

    JK: Absolutely a huge fan of games! Some of my great memories were getting together with my childhood friends and playing games like Halo, 007, NFL Blitz — anything Nintedo 64 was our go-to!  

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you as a performer?

    JK: Acting is such an interesting art. It’s a wonderful journey that’s always changing. I love playing characters that inspire myself and others, I love to make the audience laugh, and I love to tell stories.

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Making movies changes you. You aren’t the same person at the beginning as you are at the end. You’ve learned so much and walked a road that your character has walked in some way, and that connects you forever. It’s living life with these characters: I’ve cried, loved, been through war, kicked ass, been killed and hated, admired, frightened, and have saved lives, plus so much more. It is the hardest but most beautiful, fulfilling work I can ask for and I can’t get enough of it!

    NYFA: What was your experience like serving as both a producer and an actor on As Night Comes?

    JK: As Night Comes was a great experience. I learned a lot from making this film and I owe a lot to my producing partner, Richard Z., who directed and wrote the script for this film. Without him pushing this film up the mountain, it would not have been made. In saying that, I think it’s so important to surround yourself with others who are willing to climb that mountain with you, no matter the odds. I was willing to do that with him.

    We started that movie with literally $200-300 and Subway sandwiches, and finished off by getting a limited theatrical release with our distributor, Gravitas Ventures. We were put on 20 of the 25 major VOD platforms that we have today. That film showed me that anything is possible with enough effort, drive, and belief in what you are doing. Most importantly, you have to have a great script — and we did. That brought a great team behind us.

    Lastly, I love being in front of the camera and behind the camera. Either way, you are still shaping a story. Wearing both hats can be challenging, but I urge everyone to try both. It actually makes you a better actor and or a better director to have been on both sides!

    NYFA: Any advice for our acting students who are looking to produce their own work?   

    JK: Persistence and believing. Believe in what you are doing!

    Through all my experiences, believing in the project, the story, and the character will always carry you through. Making movies is incredibly difficult, and one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. But it is also the most fun you will ever have, from the idea to a year or two later watching it on a screen after post and etc. It’s a journey, and a spiritual journey as well. You are forever connected to that project, and immortalizing something you’ve created … its forever!

    There’s a lot of naysayers in our business, whether it’s about money or what’s popular. Do not take no for an answer. Think outside the box, and get it done!

    When As Night Comes was being made, everyone told us we couldn’t do this or we couldn’t do that. It ended up fueling our passion for getting it made. Yes, you can do that, and yes, you can make your movie, and get it released, and have the world enjoy it!

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Also, this art is a craft. It must be practiced and changed and molded constantly. Keep at it! I still do, and I’m not perfect!

    Also be relentless and fearless. I have been on the phone with some of the biggest studios and top agents and or managers in Hollywood because I wasn’t afraid to pick up the phone and call them. You have nothing to lose.

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

    JK: I have several projects coming out this year, one of which is Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    Bring Me a Dream, which was shot in Atlanta, is a thriller directed by Chase Smith. I play a cop who stumbles upon a mansion in the woods and gets sucked into a supernatural wave of psychological mystery. It’s a fun take on the Sandman, played by Tyler Mane (X-Men, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II), as a supernatural spirit who injects himself into your dreams and brings out your biggest fears. Very fun!    

    In Bare Knuckle Brawler, directed by Joe Gawalis and filmed in New Jersey, I play a detective who goes undercover as a streetfighter to infiltrate an underground organization in which fighters are turning up dead.

    Next I co-star with my father in a TV pilot called Bloodlands, which follows Arizona detectives who may or may not be on both sides of the law, dealing with drug and human trafficking.

    Also, check out On Wings of Eagles, a World War II drama that I shot in China, starring Joseph Fiennes. It’s the unofficial sequel to Chariots of Fire and now you can watch on Amazon.

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  • Boy Scouts of America Earn Special Merit Badges at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) celebrated the third year of its partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), with a special event offering scouts the chance to earn merit badges in the visual and performing arts.

    Through NYFA, boys and girls from local scouting dens were given the opportunity for special merit badges in Game Design, Filmmaking, Photography, or 3D Animation, through one day of hands-on intensive training at the New York Film Academy. In the morning, scouts attended classes with NYFA instructors, where they learned the basic rules of their selected craft and began to formulate the stories they wanted to tell. By the end of the day, each scout had completed a project and earned a new badge.

    The partnership between BSA and NYFA began with NYFA Service Learning Manager Paul McKenna. A native of Burbank, CA, McKenna got the idea for the partnership after reading about a similar program at Harvard. As a father and a scout leader, McKenna explained that many titans of the entertainment industry got their start in programs like the Boy Scouts.

    “Both David Lynch and Michael Moore began making films when they were in the scouts,” McKenna said. “Giving these kids an opportunity today could lead to a life-long passion.”

    Throughout the day, local scout leaders worked with NYFA instructors to help guide the scouts through the process. Assistant Scout Leader Paul Chiaravalle remarked, “The scouts are really enjoying this. … In scouting, we try to balance both outdoor and technical skills. It’s really nice of NYFA to provide this opportunity.”

    Scouts who chose the Filmmaking or Photography tracks at NYFA were taken to the Universal Backlot, where they shot a short film or learned to take portraits against a world-famous backdrop: the European set, which included storefronts, old houses, and even a train station.

    The student filmmakers were ultimately responsible for making a three-minute silent film. In teams of four or five, scouts took turns acting, directing, and filming their movies. Photography students learned how to work with light and shadow and were encouraged to explore the dynamic range of natural light. Framing was also heavily emphasized.

    At the end of the day, parents were invited to attend an award ceremony. Each scout received a certificate with his or her name on it in addition to their badges, which would be received at a later date. The scouts cheered for one another as they received their awards and celebrated their full day of storytelling through the visual and performing arts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Universal Studios, The Boy Scouts of America, and our instructors, who helped make this event possible. Congratulations, scouts!

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  • Women’s History Month Industry Panel and Hidden Figures Screening at New York Film Academy South Beach

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    New York Film Academy South Beach screened the 2016 drama Hidden Figures this March as part of a month-long event series for Women’s History Month.

    Hidden Figures was based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about three black female mathematicians who worked at NASA. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, respectively. The release of the film came on the heels of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2016, and its critical and commercial success proved that the stories of women of color have been waiting to be told for decades.

    NYFA South Beach Chair of Filmmaking Maylen Dominguez said of the decision to screen this particular film: “These untold stories need to be told. They are part of our history that will disappear if we don’t share them now.” The Filmmaking Chair also served as moderator of the Q&A, which took place after the screening. The Q&A featured panelists who are working women in film, including:

    • NYFA Acting Instructor Susie Taylor
    • Producer Giorgia Lo Savio
    • NYFA Chair of Filmmaking Maylen Dominguez
    • Filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani
    • Actress Maha McCain

    “As a woman, there is no need to be demure or diminutive about your skills,” said Maha McCain, who is an acting instructor at University of Miami. She explained that women are often expected to be more passive, but that they shouldn’t be ashamed to proudly showcase their talent.

    Maylen Dominguez thoughtfully illustrated why it benefits women and men to be more inclusive in casting and hiring: “You’re helping showcase a full picture of humanity. That’s why we’re in film!”

    Filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani added, “Don’t take things personally.”

    Toward the end of the discussion, one of the students raised her hand to say, “Thank you so much for having this kind of discussion. I am about to graduate and I feel hopeful.”

    A male student added, “We want you to know we heard you and our generation is working hard to change how things are.”

    The common themes throughout were to “never give up, support each other, and do not let your voice be stifled. The industry panelists also repeated the idea that it is always important to allow a variety of different voices to be heard, as evidenced by Hidden Figures.

    For a complete look at all of NYFA’s events during Women’s History Month, check out our blog piece here.

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  • Senior Executive Vice President David Klein Tours India With New York Film Academy Mumbai

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Mumbai campus celebrated its approaching second year since opening with a special tour by NYFA Senior Executive Vice President David Klein, who toured four cities in India offering NYFA master classes and interviews with numerous media outlets.

    During Klein’s visit to Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kochi, the executive taught his signature master classes on film direction and storytelling, while also answering questions about New York Film Academy and its Mumbai location for cultural and media institutions, from radio and television to print and in-person events.

    “In 2017, we hosted 190 students from India at our Los Angeles and New York campuses,” Klein told Forbes India. “We are sure that there are a lot more students who would want to study at NYFA, but cannot make it to the U.S. for the courses. So we decided to come to them. We go where the demand is.”

    Following a successful year of hands-on short-term programs in Filmmaking and Acting for Film for adults, NYFA Mumbai has expanded its academic programs to offer workshops for teens in film, acting, and photography.

    David Klein told Indiantelevision.com, “The New York Film Academy is very excited to be in India. There is immense creative talent amongst the youth. We look forward to working with bright and creative young minds and fostering their talents in the new-age, digital world. The media and entertainment landscape is rapidly evolving and calls for several new skill sets which we are well placed to teach.”


    As those who have taken a workshop with NYFA know, the workload is considered intensive, meaning students must be prepared to live and breathe the program during their enrollment. The success of this model of education is evidenced by NYFA Mumbai’s alumni — including Warina Hussain, the leading lady of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s Loverati.

    Yet of all Klein’s teaching and interviews throughout his time in India, perhaps the most important message he offered to aspiring Indian visual and performing artists is this, from his interview in FilmCompanion:

    “If you have any thoughts that you want to do it, reach out to us, is what I would say to any student. Just by communicating with us doesn’t mean you’re making a commitment to do it. I don’t want anybody to just jump in without properly thinking about it and planning it. If you think this is something you want to do, don’t wait. People are scared sometimes to say ‘I am going to go into the film industry’. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to make a three year commitment. Start small! Do a workshop and then when you love it, decide to go on.”

    Special thanks to the many Indian media outlets and collaborators for their interviews and coverage of David Klein’s visit, including:

    Radio One, Mumbai Choufer, Prahaar – Relax, FilmCampanion, Newshublilve, ETC Bollywood Business, IndianTelevision.com, Indiaeducationdiary.in, Startupsuccessstories.in, The Times of India, New Indian Express, The Hans India, Andhra Jyothi, Telangana Today, Eenadu, Sakshi, Andhra Prabha, Manam, Deshabhimani, Madhyaman, Keralabhooshanam, Varthamanam, Janmabhumi, Future Kerala, Kerala Kaumadi, Keralabhooshanam, Mathrubhumi, Veekshanam, Chadrika, Mangalam, and Suprapradham.


    NYFA Mumbai workshops are held at the Urmi Estate (95 Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel [West] Mumbai, Maharashtra 400 013, India). The Urmi Estate is a modern 41 story skyscraper located in the heart of the city, which is itself the heart of the world’s largest film industry and is the home of Bollywood.

    For those interested in studying in Mumbai, please visit http://www.nyfa.edu/mumbai for more information.

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  • President of Paramount Television Amy Powell Holds Q&A at New York Film Academy Los Angeles Screening of Hit Show The Alienist

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    The New York Film Academy welcomed Paramount Television President Amy Powell to its esteemed roster of Q&A guests this week. Director of the Q&A Series at NYFA Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Powell began her career as an intern for Ted Turner. She went on to create the marketing campaign for Paranormal Activity and produce the 3D Justin Bieber film Never Say Never. Now, she’s the president of Paramount Television, the one who has brought 13 Reasons Why, Grease Live for Fox, and The Alienist to screens everywhere.

    Based on a Caleb Carr novel of the same name, Paramount Television bought the rights for The Alienist 20 years ago. Yet when they acquired the rights, they were only in the filmmaking business, and the project proved too ambitious for a two-hour film.

    The Alienist was a perfect book for us to conceptualize for television,” Powell explained. “In fact, nine out of 10 of the shows we produce are based on literature.”

    Books play a huge role in Powell’s life. Even with two kids, a full-time job, and all the globetrotting she does for her shows, she still reads two books a week. Recently she bought the right to the Margaret Atwood trilogy Madd Addam as well as George David-Roberts’ Shantaram, a book she’s obsessed over for years.

    Laiter asked Powell why novels make such great television.

    “Books create the roadmap for depth of character,” Powell began. “They create set pieces and story arcs that are robust in nature. The ability for a screenwriter to come into a world that a novelist has envisioned allows them to create a visual patina on top of the depth of character that already exists.”

    Powell is an innovator. She created a marketing campaign for Paranormal Activity called “demand it.” At the time, Paranormal Activity was a small budget horror film. After its successful screening at Slamdance, the studio knew they had a potential hit on their hand.

    The “demand it” strategy began with a website. Powell would call up movie bloggers from all across the country and send them screeners of the film, they would write a review, and the fans would get excited about the movie. Fans were then directed to a link where they could demand the movie come to their city.

    Powell then personally called movie theaters and asked, “If we sell out your theater will you screen this film?” No one turns down free money. Once the theater agreed, local fans rushed to get their friends and families to buy a ticket so the theater would sell out.  

    The final touch to “demand it” was Powell’s; she arranged it so that the film only screened at midnight, making it feel more like a special event. The timing also meant that moviegoers left the theatre terrified at 1:30 a.m. — greeted not by the sun, but by pitch-black night. Fans leapt onto social media to tell everyone about the experience.

    Paranormal Activity went on to make $107 million.

    During the Q&A, one student wanted to know what Powell thought the future of television looked like, considering new tech like neural networks and quantum computing.

    Powell answered, “The shared experience of enjoying the paranormal and the scare and the thrill of being in a packed audience, that community sense of fandom is going to come to an end.” Instead, Powell projects that the experience will be more personalized. Exactly how that will come to be is unknown, but she encouraged students to study and explore VR and AR storytelling formats.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Powell for taking the time to speak with our students.

    Be sure to watch the last episode of The Alienist on Monday 3/26, or 13 Reasons Why, originated by Selena Gomez; Maniac directed by Carrie Fukunaga and starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill; Catch 22 directed by and starring George Clooney; Jack Ryan starring John Krasinski; and Shooter produced by Mark Wahlberg and starring Ryan Phillippe and Omar Epps.

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