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  • “Acts of Desperation” Provides New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Credit & Experience Opportunity

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    Acts of DesperationThe Industry Lab of New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) has announced the completion of the feature film, Acts of Desperation, starring veteran actors Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, The Rocketeer) and Jason Gedrick (Backdraft, Dexter.) 

    The quirky thriller was sponsored by the Academy, but involved members of NYFA community as well. Faculty members Richard Friedman (director), Leslie Bates (producer), Neil Casey (director of photography), and Toi Juan Shannon (editor) were the forces behind the film, which afforded opportunities to NYFA alumni.

    Acts of Desperation starts with a woman on a bridge, desperate and considering jumping. But the real action begins when we meet Alan Grillo, a cop on the edge, obsessed over the fact that his wife is having an affair. At the same time, he is tracking a shrewd bank robber who is falling in love with the desperate and obsessed woman whose life he saved on the bridge. As if that’s not enough, the bank robber is also being blackmailed by two unhinged street criminals who will stop at nothing to get their money. Time is running out for all of them as their worlds collide in this unpredictable and compelling thriller centering on six individuals and their treacherous “acts of desperation.”Acts of Desperation

    Shot exclusively in Los Angeles, Acts of Desperation is the first feature credit for over 20 NYFA Filmmaking alumni through Industry Lab, a program designed to facilitate such opportunities. The production companies Scars of the Mind Picture Company and UnicVisions plan to produce many more films through the NYFA Industry Lab, offering even more occasions for our alumni to receive both experience and feature credits to add to their resumes. 

    A special screening will be announced later this month.

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    October 19, 2018 • Filmmaking, Industry Lab • Views: 161

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Congratulates Producer Dana Lustig on the Release of Feature Film “Look Away”

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) encourages everyone to check out the new psychological thriller Look Away, which releases this October 12, 2018 on VOD and in theaters nationwide. In a Hollywood culture currently dominated by epic franchise films and sequels, Look Away is an independent film crafted by passionate filmmakers and actors looking to tell an exciting, new story without the luxury of a $200 million budget. The film was directed by Assaf Bernstein — known for the hit Netflix series Fauda — and produced by prolific filmmaker and celebrated New York Film Academy (NYFA) lecturer Dana Lustig.

    Look Away is a thriller-horror about an alienated teenager who switches places with her evil mirror image. It stars Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter, Star Trek: Discovery, The Death of Stalin), and India Eisley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager). Eisley is starring next in the television miniseries I Am the Night with Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman), produced and directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster, Wonder Woman).

    Lustig was born in Israel and has directed five feature films and produced over twenty independent features, working with many high-profile actors, actresses, and filmmakers. Embodying the modern female filmmaker archetype that is finally getting the recognition it deserves in Hollywood, Lustig balances her career in the industry with her occasional lectures at New York Film Academy and other institutions, as well as with being a full-time mother.

    “Filmmaking is a 24-hours-a-day job, it never stops,” Lustig tells NYFA, continuing, “You might find your next story at the dinner table or dreaming at night. It is a lifestyle.”

    As for the types of narratives she pursues, Lustig says that she looks for stories that are “diverse, creative, and moving. Even if it’s a period film, it needs to be current and relevant to today.”Dana Lustig

    The true survival story Jungle, starring Harry Potter lead Daniel Radcliffe, was produced by Lustig and released earlier this year. The film shot both in Colombia and Australia’s Gold Coast, where NYFA has another location with access to the Village Roadshow backlot.

    Lustig directed the dark love story A Thousand Kisses Deep starring Dougary Scott (Mission: Impossible 2) and Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Broadchurch). Whittaker herself has been making headlines this week as she debuted as the Thirteenth Doctor — and first female Doctor — in the long-running smash British series Doctor Who. A Thousand Kisses Deep was nominated for a British Independent Film Award.

    In addition to A Thousand Kisses Deep, Lustig also directed the comedy Wild Cherry starring Rob Schneider, Kill Me Later starring Selma Blair, Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Wedding Bell Blues starring John Corbett. Additionally, Lustig was a partner at Berman Lustig Productions for ten years, along with producer Ram Bergman (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.) BLP produced the hit Rian Johnson indie Brick as well as Dancing at the Blue Iguana, directed by Oscar nominee Michael Radford.

    Dana LustigLustig tells NYFA that she feels the urge to always keep moving and looking forward to the next project, saying “We can never really be satisfied as storytellers.” She is currently executive producing Spider in the Web with Ben Kingsley and Monica Bellucci and has just wrapped filming the second season of Israeli hit series Very Important Man. She is scheduled next to direct the remake of the Israeli film The Man in the Wall.

    And still Lustig finds time in between projects to speak with film school students at NYFA. One piece of advice she gives to aspiring filmmakers that comes from her roles both as a director and as a producer is to “Find the next great story to tell — one that is financially viable in the current market, both commercially and artistically.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates producer, filmmaker, and lecturer Dana Lustig on her long list of successes and looks forward to the many still to come! Look Away releases nationwide this October 12.

    Dana Lustig Look Away

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    October 11, 2018 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 494

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Sits Down with South Beach Director Maylen Dominguez to Discuss Women in Film

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) has announced that Maylen Dominguez is the new Campus Director of the South Beach location. Dominguez will also continue in her previous role as Chair of Filmmaking in South Beach.

    Maylen has spent the last three years as Chair of Filmmaking, having helped the fledgling South Beach campus establish itself as a force in the South Florida film industry. NYFA South Beach was the only Florida institution featured in Variety’s Best Film Schools of 2018 list. Additionally, the South Beach location was one of only three Florida schools featured in Hollywood Reporter’s Top 25 American Film Schools.

    NYFA South Beach Campus Director Maylen Dominguez


    Recently, NYFA had the pleasure to sit down and chat with the new NYFA South Beach Campus Director about her career, her time at NYFA so far, and her plans for the future:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What does it mean to you to be the new Director of NYFA South Beach?

    Maylen Dominguez (MD): I have a very special connection to Miami, this is the place where my father landed when he was 12 years old and exiled from Cuba. It’s the place where my grandfather, in his mid 50s, re-studied for his medical license and became a doctor again. They ended up moving to Puerto Rico, which is where my father met my mother, and where I was born.

    When I was two weeks old we moved back to Miami, and then my father, who was a doctor in the navy, moved all over the US. I moved to Miami three years ago to be the Chair of the Filmmaking Department, but have been blown away by the experience of living in a place that is so culturally diverse. I love that I get to speak Spanish again. I love that a cortadito (espresso shot) gets passed around periodically in the middle of the day at the office. And I love being back near palm trees and the warm ocean. So, it is an understatement to say how proud and grateful I am that I get to mix the three things I love: Miami, film, and education. The chance to inspire students from all over the world to tell their very unique and beautiful stories is a gift.

    NYFA: Can you elaborate a bit on your background and experience in the film industry?

    MD: I spent nearly ten years in LA hustling through all sorts of jobs in the film business. It was a real eye opener that no one cared about my academic accomplishments, and when I was in the agent trainee program at Endeavor (which is now William Morris Endeavor) the other four people in the mailroom were lawyers. But it was a great learning experience, I read 40 scripts a week and learned what made a story get through the system — and it taught me humility.

    Working with Nely Galan exposed me to producing and how to develop something from the seed of an idea into a television show. Working with Minnie Driver in her production company, I got to see the process of developing a film project. It was interesting to see, not only her acting process, but why she picked the projects she picked. During this time I learned how to produce movies independently. I also got invaluable set experience working with her. I had written and directed a few short films, a documentary, written a couple of features and TV spec scripts, and from this work received a scholarship from NBC to work in TV, but I soon became pregnant and put the crazy hours and lifestyle on hold. Now that my daughter is older, I’ve been writing again and am in the process of producing a short film and feature.

    NYFA: Can you talk about being an Hispanic woman in this industry?

    MD: One of our recent graduates is Cuban and he said to me, “I feel honored that I’ll be receiving my diploma from a fellow Cuban.” It really touched me because it reminded me that everything that I do is not just as me but also as the half Puerto Rican, half Cuban me. It’s inspiring when you can see someone of a similar background in a position of influence. The same is true in film and TV. If you are a little girl and you see a complex representation of different cultural backgrounds on screen, it allows room for that possibility to exist in your life. If all you ever see are women of color in subservient and service careers, as a little girl, you begin to believe that that’s as far as you can go. Film and television are such powerful media, and we must use it to make impactful positive changes in our culture.

    NYFA: Can you speak to being a woman in the film industry during the #MeToo movement, what has changed, and what still needs to be improved upon?

    MD: The only way to make changes in a broken system is to bring the bad stuff to light, the stuff that we don’t really want to talk about. And that, to me, is what this whole movement is about, understanding that as much power as was used to control women, leading them to be ashamed and hide things away, can now be turned into power as they break silence and help this not happen to the next generation of women in the film business. It’s led to some hard, but good conversations with film colleagues. And it’s something we talk about in our classes here. Both men and women need to talk about it with depth, empathy, and understanding in order to make real changes. I’m grateful that we have a smart, creative, open student population that is listening and ready to demand change and equality in the film business.

    NYFA: What do you think are the advantages to filming and studying film in Miami?

    MD: Miami is a vibrant, artistically rich, and diverse city, so location-wise it has endless potential. And the film community is still relatively small, so once you get your foot in the door everybody helps support you. Our campus is like a true family/small production company. We help each other through personal issues as well as all of the acting and filming struggles that happen. We also have fun together; we have small get-togethers for holidays and support each other’s successes. When our students graduate, it feels like a family member is leaving, you’re so proud of them but you miss them.

    NYFA: What is your vision for the future of NYFA South Beach?

    MD: I have a very clear image of NYFA South Beach being this large vibrant campus that becomes a center point for film and acting education in the Southeast. I see us continuing to be a creative hotbed where people in the local community, as well as the film community at large, want to partner and do projects with us.

     

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Maylen Dominguez on her new position and thank her for her hard work and service to the community!

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    October 10, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 981

  • Recap: New York Film Academy (NYFA) at IFP Week 2018

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    This year, New York Film Academy (NYFA) was honored to help IFP Week celebrate its 40th anniversary. A leader in the independent media community, Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. NYFA was a co-sponsor for the second consecutive year. The week-long event took place at IFP’s state-of-the-art Made in NY Media Center in DUMBO, Brooklyn. A leading voice in the independent film industry, IFP also runs Filmmaker Magazine and the prestigious annual Gotham Awards.

    Andrea Swift moderated an essential #MeToo panel on Saturday. The all-women panel took on difficult but necessary questions about the present and future of the industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The panelists discussed what needs to be done both on screen and through media activism. Filmmaker and panelist Shruti Rya Ganguly perceptively said, “The #MeToo movement is not necessarily something new, but a different way of having that conversation.”

    The #MeToo Panel at IFP Week (photo provided by IFP)

    The panel discussed the power of strong journalism and the exact role of social media. They also emphasized the importance of women of color in the aftermath of the #MeToo reckoning. Adding to that, Anne Carey, President of Production at Archer Gray said, “I would hope that the takeaway from this conversation is create a space of safety so people who feel threatened have a place to talk, push to tell the best stories with the best people telling them.”

    NYFA Producing Instructor Krysanne Katsoolis moderated the Looking Abroad panel. This panel discussed the how-to’s and why-not’s of utilizing international co-productions and tax incentives. Katsoolis has significant multi-platform experience in content creation, financing, and distribution. She has produced over 60 films and series, and has worked with Academy and Emmy Award-winning directors. Recently Katsoolis built a media venture (Liquid Media Group) with actor Joshua Jackson, which is now public on NASDAQ.

    NYFA Documentary Chair Andrea Swift (photo provided by IFP)

    In addition to panels and screenings, IFP Week presented Spotlight On Documentaries, a mix of 72 documentary features, non-fiction series, and audio stories ranging from an early financing stage to those nearing completion. NYFA Screenwriting Chair Randy Dottin’s work-in-progress film The Chicago Franchise was selected for a prestigious slot in the Spotlight. The unfinished film was produced

    Veranika Nikanava, NYFA Screenwriting Chair Randy Dottin, and Revital Iyov at IFP Week

    by Randall Dottin and Angela Tucker, and executive produced by Cynthia Kobel. After the city of Chicago tore down its high rise public housing towers in 2011, the murder rate continued to climb. The documentary explores the complicated relationship between gun violence, poverty, and residential segregation — and how they’re all interconnected.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank IFP and the Made in NY Media Center for inclusion, yet again, in such a fantastic and thought-provoking week. We look forward to IFP Week 2019!

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  • Q&A With 2018 Glendale International Film Festival Filmmakers

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    Looking for something to watch this week?  Look no further than the Glendale Laemmle!  Several films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni are official selections of the Glendale International Film Festival coming up October 5-12, 2018.  

    NYFA spoke with filmmakers Buffy Milner, Gabriele Fabbro, Rudy Womack, Diego Vicentini, and Boise Esquerra right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences:

    Type by Buffy Milner, Fall 2015 BFA Acting for Film
    Screens October 6, 2018, at 2pm

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us about your film, Type.

    Buffy Milner (BM): Type is a coming of age story about the social struggles of a girl recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BM: My classes at NYFA gave me the tools and knowledge that I needed to be able to write and produce my film and much of the pre-production elements, outside of the acting, that I was clueless about before I went to NYFA. The teachers that helped me the most were outside of class, during consultations: Christopher Cass, my thesis advisor, and Joe Basille.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BM: I have won nine awards for my film in festivals, but this is my first live event for Type. I am very excited about having the screening and getting to show my film to others.

    Type

    Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Gabriele Fabbro, BFA Filmmaking Fall 2015
    Screens October 7, 2018 at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Gabriele Fabbro (GF): Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is a narrative music video based on one of the most famous songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The story revolves around a confused young man who has to reject his top-model girlfriend in order to follow his true love. With the music as the driving force of the story, the film aims to break the common conception of “soundtracks perceived as accompaniment to the visual”.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    GF: Past mistakes definitely have been the key to success of this film. I was lucky to work with one of the most talented casts and crews at NYFA. The film would have been a total disaster if it wasn’t for my DP Brandon Lattman, my assistant director Kelvin Shum, and my lead actors Derek Andrew Ramsay and Ydalie Turk. I’m very thankful to my directing instructor Andres Rosende, who taught me how to simplify complex concepts.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    GF: I’ve had two other projects shown at the Glendale Festival. One in 2016, and in 2017 my intermediate film won “Best Student Film”. I’ve worked for the festival throughout 2018. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend this year’s screening. I’ll be shooting a feature documentary in Italy during the festival period. I hope my cast and crew will attend and do some networking. I’m always nervous to watch one of my films on a theatre. I’ve been to over 40 festivals now and that fear still doesn’t leave me.

    Can't Take My Eyes Off You

    In This Gray Place by Rudy Womack, MFA Filmmaking; produced by Radhika Womack, 1-Year Producing

    Screens October 10, 2018, at 8pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Rudy Womack (RW): In This Gray Place is a feature, a psychological thriller about Aaron, a petty criminal who is involved in a robbery gone wrong. Wounded and surrounded by police, he barricades himself in a rest stop bathroom.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    RW: Just about everyone involved with the project I met at NYFA! The lead actor, Aleksander Ristic, was in the MFA Acting program alongside me in the filmmaking department. I also met the Director of Photography, Naeem Seirafi, at NYFA. He was in the Cinematography school.  And, of course, my wife Radhika Womack, who was in the Producing program at NYFA when we first met. All of my experience at NYFA taught me how to pre-plan every small detail. We were a very limited crew with limited resources, so planning was essential to the success of the film.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    RW: Glendale is a fantastic festival and we are very lucky to be a part of it. The caliber of the other films speaks volumes to the quality of the festival and the filmmakers involved. This is our 15th screening, so the nerves have finally gone away. After the first few screenings, I went back and fine-tuned the edit, so I’m very excited to share it with a couple of people who haven’t seen this version. And, of course, I can’t wait to show it to all my friends and colleagues who haven’t seen it yet

    In This Gray Place
    Simón
    by Diego Vicentini, Fall 16 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11th at 6:00pm at the Laemmle Glendale Theatre

    NYFA: Tell us about your film. 

    Diego Vicentini (DV): Simón tells the story of a young Venezuelan freedom fighter seeking political asylum in the United States after being persecuted by the Venezuelan government. Simón must then find a way to keep helping the cause from thousands of miles away.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    DV: The screenwriting and directing classes were the ones that most helped propel the creation and execution of Simón. Gil McDonald from screenwriting read multiple drafts of the script, always helping guide the story to fulfill its potential, as well as urging us to write about something we were passionate about. Andres Rosende then helped to make sure the story was in good shape both in the writing and after, during post-production while I was editing.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    DV: I am looking forward to beginning the festival run of Simón, lucky to be able to have our first public screening in our own city of LA. I am also looking forward to spreading awareness about the dire situation that Venezuelans are going through right now through audiences watching the film.

    Simon

    Cowboy by Boise Esquerra, Fall 2015 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Boise Esquerra (BE): Cowboy is a short drama produced and filmed in the surrounding Burbank area and the Santa Clarita valley. It’s about a bitter, lonely cowboy who is set at ease after crossing paths with a promiscuous female vagabond. 

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BE: From the get go, NYFA provides a multitude of hands-on exercises and projects for you to delve right into, allowing for much learning, practice, and most importantly, learning from your mistakes. These lessons are invaluable because they allow you to progress in your craft, so long as you take each one seriously. In particular, towards my final semesters, instructors like Tony Schwartz, James Pasternak, and Greg Marks helped me to reel in everything I learned and apply it to a solid project. Cowboy was the end result.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BE: I am looking forward to the screening itself!

    Cowboy

    The New York Film Academy congratulates our filmmakers and wishes them the best of luck! For more information about screenings and tickets, click HERE.

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    October 5, 2018 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 838

  • Student Perspective: NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event 

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    Andres Vergara is a Spring 2018 MFA Screenwriting student at New York Film Academy (NYFA). On September 8, he and over two dozen other students from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus attended the NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event. Vergara found time between his classes and writing his screenplays to recount the event in his own words:

    Diversity took over at the NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event this eighth of September. Hundreds of guests got together at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater as proof that opportunities are opening up for filmmakers from different backgrounds to share their points of view with an audience always hungry for unique stories that showcase different cultures. It began with a wonderful reception where delegations from many different film schools got a chance to mingle and take photos on the red carpet. The New York Film Academy group was strong as students from different ethnicities joined their Latinx and Hispanic peeps to celebrate diversity.

    Once everyone got a seat in the theater, the first panel was announced and five amazing people from the industry walked onstage to share stories, points of view, and advice. The panel included: Nicole Levy, writerNewFilmmakers LA Latinx Event for Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger; Frank Gonzales, Executive in Charge of Diversity at the DGA; Richard Ray Perez, from Sundance; Hebe Tabachnik, Programmer at the Seattle and Palms Springs International Film Festivals; and Catherine Hardwicke; Director of Twilight and the acclaimed Thirteen. This very diverse group (not only in their background, but in their jobs) gave guests insight into how the Hollywood Industry is changing. Even though it is getting more and more competitive, it is uplifting to know there are also more and more people willing to make a bet on new, different voices.

    The second panel comes up. Five amazing Latinas who are taking a stand, not only for their origin, but for their gender, take the stage. Even from a male point of view, it is inspirational to know that the industry is making room for women who are quickly rising to the top: Paula Sabbaga, writer for CW’s Dynasty; Roxanne Pompa, VP for International Formats at CBS; Greta Talia Fuentes, Creative Executive at MACRO; Edith Mendoza, SVP for Comedy Development at CBS; and Alejandra Reyes Rocha, Television Literary at UTA. These great role models for women and Hispanics alike talked about how they got where they are, discussing the many options that exist for diversity and showing their support for upcoming filmmakers. They encouraged us to have a sense of community in which we help each other out as fellow Latinx.

    NewFilmmakers LA Latinx EventAfter an enriching Q&A, we were invited back to the lobby to have great Mexican food, accompanied by Latin music to keep up the mood. And after another chance for networking, even with some of the guest speakers, the showcase finally began. Filmmakers from countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, the United States, Mexico, and my native Colombia—among others—screened amazing short films that showed unique stories and points of view that all cinephiles can love. From romance to sci-fi and a compelling documentary about a Peruvian farmer, the productions made the audience applaud the talent of emerging Hispanic filmmakers.

    NewFilmmakers LA is very much committed to creating a platform for new talent, and whether you are a director, a writer, a cinematographer, or even if you are more into TV than film, they make sure that their events are a well-rounded and fulfilling experience in which guests can enjoy different pieces and hear from those who are making their way through the industry. Not to mention, it is a perfect opportunity for meeting colleagues. My ethnicity encouraged me to attend one of their events for the first time, but my love for films and my admiration for their initiative will have their monthly events in my schedule from now on.

    Written by Andres Vergara

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    October 4, 2018 • Community Highlights, Diversity, Filmmaking • Views: 418

  • And the Winners of the New York Film Academy 48 Hour Film Challenge Are…

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    Last month, New York Film Academy (NYFA) held a 48 Hour Film Challenge for its students. The objective of the contest was to create a short public service announcement (PSA) about the importance of voting. 

    With the midterm US elections quickly approaching and representing a watershed moment in modern American politics, NYFA felt it was important its students had a voice and worked together to communicate with one another about the democratic institution.

    The goal of the challenge was to create something that would motivate and inspire people to vote in the upcoming US elections. The midterms are held every two years in the middle of a presidential term, and are often given less news coverage and weight than a presidential election, focusing on smaller elections as well as the entire 435-seat House of Representatives. However, with the country severely fractured politically and culturally and following a close presidential election with an unexpected outcome, 2018’s midterms have been taken more seriously by politicians, the media, and voting citizens alike.

    With only 48 hours to film and edit their PSAs, the challenge wrapped in the evening of September 23. Students could then watch and vote for their favorite from the top three videos. Voting ended at 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 28.

    With the most votes, the winner of the Vote PSA 48 Hour Film Challenge is…

    VOTE NOW OR TAKE WHAT YOU GET

    …and the winning students who worked on the PSA are…

    Winnie Wang, Xu Cheng, Thor Renner, Carla Hancock, Nino Kvaratskhelia, King Wong, and Nikolaos-Nikias Galatis

    While the winning students certainly earned their votes and the top prize, everyone involved should be commended for the hard work they put into a very worthy cause.

    Student Life and Title IX Coordinator Carlye Bowers, who helped organize the event, stated, “It was very inspiring to see students, who have never met each other, get together and create such powerful messages — all within 48 hours!”

    This year, Election Day in the United States will be held on November 6. The New York Film Academy congratulates the winners of the 48 Hour Film Challenge and encourages everyone who is eligible to go out and vote!

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    October 3, 2018 • Community Highlights, Contests, Filmmaking, Student Life • Views: 389

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) to Host National Bullying Prevention Month Screening of “Thirsty”

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    October is National Bullying Prevention Month and to bring awareness to the cause, the Filmmaking school at New York Film Academy (NYFA) is hosting a screening of Thirsty with its filmmakers. Described by as a “post-queer musical biopic,” Thirsty follows bullied girly-boy Scott Townsend as he grows into revered drag queen Thirsty Burlington, fighting obstacles along the way only to discover what he really wants is self-acceptance.

    The musical drama was released in 2016 and won Audience Choice for Best Narrative Feature at the Boston LGBT Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature at the Harlem International Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the Portland Film Festival. It will be screened at NYFA New York’s 1st Floor Theatre on October 11th.

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    The screening will be followed by a Q&A with producer Lisa Thomas, actors Jonny Beauchamp (who plays “middle” Scott Townsend), and Michael DiGioia (Uncle Gene), Choreographer Alexandra Amirov, and editor and NYFA alum Fabrizio Famá. Thomas is an industry veteran who has worked on Wonder Showzen and Ugly Americans. Beauchamp has appeared in Penny Dreadful and Stonewall. Famá has worked on many Italian feature films, documentaries, and shorts.

    The 97-minute feature film was directed by the late filmmaker Margo Pelletier, who was known for her exploration of gender and identity. She previously made the documentary Freeing Silvia Baraldini. Thirsty stars Scott Townsend as himself, lending a unique realism to its ability to tell a story based on his life. Deirdre Lovejoy (The Wire, The Blacklist) co-stars as Townsend’s addiction-addled mother Doris. Keith Leonard plays opposite her as Townsend’s absent and abusive father. Before her death, Pelletier had told Variety that a “good percentage” of the cast is LGBTQ.

    National Bullying Month began in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. It was originally the first week in October and has since expanded to include the entire month. Studies have shown bullying causes “school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression.” Learn more at StopBullying.gov. If you or someone you know is struggling, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You may anonymously report cyber bullying here and also find help and resources here.

    Prior to the Thirsty screening, NYFA will also be hosting a Wellness Day event from noon to 5pm on the 5th floor student lounge in NYC. View some statistics on bullying below:

    National Statistics

    Been Bullied
    • 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
    • 20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

    Seen Bullying

    • 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
    • 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.
    • When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time

    Watch the trailer for Thirsty below:

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    September 21, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Diversity, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 669

  • Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku Speak with New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On July 25, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA), hosted a screening of the film Downrange and a Q&A with Japanese director and writer, Ryûhei Kitamura, and Albanian composer, Aldo Shllaku, moderated by NYFA screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner. Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku

    Kitamura began his career by founding his own independent production company in Japan called Napalm Films. His first mainstream success was a film called Versus (2000) and he went on to direct a handful of other feature-length films including an adaptation of the manga series Azumi (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). In 2008, Kitamura made his American filmmaking debut with Midnight Meat Train, based on the short story by Clive Barker and starring Bradley Cooper. 

    Shllaku is a classically trained composer; you can hear his work in films and on television in productions such as Spider-Man 3, David and Goliath, Kill ‘Em All, Lupin the Third, The Blue Hour and many more.

    Conner opened up the Q&A by asking Kitamura and Shllaku how they got started.

    Kitamura responded, “I grew up watching movies; I even didn’t go to much of the school when I was [in] like elementary school or junior high. I was always at the movie theater, so when I was like 17 I just thought about…what I want to do in my life and naturally…film directing [was] the only thing I wanted to do.”

    Kitamura eventually decided to move to Australia, the home of one of his favorite directors, Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, Resident Evil: Extinction), where he studied filmmaking at the School of Visual Art in Sydney. Kitamura was disappointed to find that his fellow students were not interested in action and horror like he was, so after he finished school he decided to move back to Japan where he would go on to launch his film career.

    Shllaku started his career in Greece to avoid the political turmoil due to the rise of communism in his native Albania. He then moved to Canada where he studied film and composition.

    Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo ShllakuShllaku explained, “[Working globally] does have an impact, first of all, of the cinema of those respective countries and also from the music perspective. I’ve worked in nightclubs in Greece, in Montreal, in New York…so different type[s] of cultures, different type[s] of music…even though I’m classically trained…I absorbed certain things wherever I lived…because they become part of you.”

    Conner asked Kitamura to discuss the making of Versus, a low-budget horror movie that quickly became a cult hit.

    Kitamura answered, “I knew that I had something in me and I just had to show it to the world…I wrote the script…I went to every single studio, producer, everybody…like 300 places and everybody ignored me…somehow that didn’t stop my passion so I ended up calling friends…and I started asking for money.”

    Kitamura was able to raise about $50,000 this way. When the money started to run out, he called his friends again to keep the production going. When the film was finally done shooting, Kitamura went to one of the top editors in Japan and brazenly asked him to edit the film digitally for free, promising to pay him “when he got famous.” The editor, amused and impressed by Kitamura’s confidence, agreed and the two worked together on a number of projects afterward, including Godzilla: Final Wars. Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku

    Kitamura and Shllaku stressed to the audience that these types of relationships are the lifeblood of the entertainment industry; you have to like the people you work with because you spend hours, days, and weeks together on set, but also because good working relationships can lead to more jobs in the future.

    All of our students, including our many Japanese students, were excited to have Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku as guests at NYFA Los Angeles. The New York Film Academy thanks them for their generous time and for sharing their experiences.

    For Japanese students and schools that would like more information about NYFA programs please contact Noriko Yoshida. Phone: +1-917-570-2375 (USA) Email: noriko@nyfa.edu

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    September 14, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 285

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Sponsors Prestigious IFP Week 2018: Faculty Featured on Panels, NYFA Discounts, and More

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is once again a proud sponsor of the famed industry gathering IFP Week 2018, in Brooklyn from September 15th through 20th. At this year’s event, NYFA faculty will be featured on two separate IFP panels. Additionally, NYFA Screenwriting Chair Randy Dottin’s work-in-progress film The Chicago Franchise was selected for a prestigious slot in IFP Week’s Spotlight on Documentaries.

    NYFA Documentary Chair Andrea Swift and Producing Chair Neal Weisman explain that IFP Week is an essential industry gathering —whether you’re a director, producer, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, It is as important for launching and maintaining careers as Sundance, and people fly in from all over the world to attend. IFP Week is the only multiple-platform, international co-production market for projects in the United States. This year is particularly exciting as IFP is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the independent media community.

    Andrea Swift will moderate an important #MeToo panel on Saturday, September 15th at 12:30 p.m. The all-female panel will explore difficult but necessary questions and discuss how we can shape the future of the #MeToo movement on screen and through media activism. NYFA Producing Instructor Krysanne Katsoolis will moderate the Looking Abroad panel on Monday, September 17th at 2 p.m. This panel will discuss the how-to’s and why-not’s of utilizing international co-productions and tax incentives.

    IFP Week 2017 

    Additionally, NYFA Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin’s film The Chicago Franchise was selected for a prestigious slot in IFP Week’s Spotlight on Documentaries. The documentary explores the complicated relationship between gun violence, poverty, and residential segregation in the nation’s third largest city. Learn more about the full project slate here.

    The New York Film Academy is proud to help sponsor IFP, and is very pleased to share that IFP has extended a 20% discount to our students and alumni using special code IFP20! Click the following panel titles to purchase tickets for the #MeToo and Looking Abroad.

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