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  • NYFA Alum Aditya J. Patwardhan’s “Transference” Now Available on Amazon Prime Video

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    New York Film Academy alum Aditya J. Patwardhan’s most recent directorial feat, Transference is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The psychological thriller tells the story of a trauma therapist who begins experiencing terrifying phenomena following the death of her estranged father.

    Aditya, who hails from Jaipur, India has directed an array of different works from feature films to documentaries to short films and TV series. He has directed and produced films in multiple foreign languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Lithuanian. His passion for film developed in his childhood through his love of music and instruments. “My filmmaking journey really began at the age of seven when I was introduced to music. After learning to play tabla, drums, and the piano during my early school years, one of the first things I was enticed with was observing how background score shapes a film. It became one of my primary obsessions to notice background scores and try to duplicate them at home on the keyboards and drums. Films like The Lion King, Titanic, and The Matrix played a key role in influencing me in terms of music and its association with video. Naturally, I assumed that I would want to grow up to be a music director.”

    His path to film was not direct but one that passed through a variety of different jobs and industries. After obtaining his degree in computer sciences and playing drums for a rock-metal Megadeth and Metallica cover band called Jettatura in his free time, Aditya worked as a social media manager, a media and advertisement head, a music composer, and a music video director. All of these experiences ignited his passion for storytelling, eventually leading him to NYFA’s MA in Film and Media Production program . “What attracted me most towards NYFA was the hands-on nature of its 1-Year (Filmmaking) program. I saw that it gave me a thorough filmmaking education at an accelerated pace and prepared me for a real-world experience sooner than any other school or program that I looked into. The second thing that appealed to me was the filming ‘sand-box’ that NYFA offered. What I mean by that is NYFA has almost all the major filmmaking departments and so within the school, I was able to learn the skills of collaboration with all film vertices.”

    Transference is not his only work available on a major streaming platform. A Touch of Aurora (also known as When Red is White) is also available on Amazon Prime Video. The film, which has amassed over 20 nominations and 12 awards in over four countries on the festival circuit, is a Portuguese-language Brazilian drama that tells the story of a couple both of whom are visually impaired. Sara, played by Brazilian film star Thaila Ayala, was born blind while Luis, a former successful soccer player with a glamorous past, lost his sight following a car accident.  

    A Touch of Aurora | Aditya J. Patwardhan | NYFA Alum

    Aditya J. Patwardhan behind the scenes on the set of “A Touch of Aurora.”

    Another recent production, And the Dream that Mattered features a number of NYFA alumni including acting for film alumni Themo Melikidze and Jongman Kim. The film is in Korean and tells the story of an actor in his 40’s who goes through a midlife crisis when he visits his family and realizes that he has not achieved what he set out to do. 

    His latest project, Rivers: The Upstream Story, is a docu-fiction feature that Aditya both produced and directed. The film follows four characters: Adriana, a refugee from crisis-hit Venezuela, Kankana, an Indian actress working in Hollywood, Suraj, a street cleaner from a slum in Rajasthan, and Ravi who is a television news reporter from Jaipur. 

    We journey with them as they travel across India, an ancient civilization struggling with climate change, water crisis, poverty, and hygiene issues,” explained Aditya. “One of the storylines in the film portrays Isha Foundation’s Rally for Rivers, a pan India water-conservation drive supported by the Government of India and endorsed by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Shahrukh Khan.”

    Aditya had this to say to incoming NYFA students, “the best thing about NYFA’s programs is the fast pace and hands-on style. But that is also something every incoming student should look out for. They have to be prepared to work hard and tirelessly for the length of the program they’re doing.”

    One of the most important things that stand out to me about my initial days in NYFA is the opportunity I got to experiment with my films,” he continued. “I always made sure that any story I told was out of my comfort zone. The protective umbrella of a film school is where you can do just that: try out as many genres and ideas as possible because failure will have fewer consequences here than in a real-world scenario.”

    And The Dream that Mattered | Aditya J. Patwardhan | NYFA Alum

    Aditya J. Patwardhan with the cast of “And The Dream that Mattered,” including NYFA alumni Themo Melikidze (second left) and Jongman Kim (third left).

    It was with the help of NYFA’s Industry Lab that Aditya was able to produce his first multi-language film, Red Souls. “The film,” explained Aditya, “deals with with the subject of human trafficking between Brazil and the US, and won the Best Film award at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival, making me one of the first Indian directors to win an award at a Brazilian festival for directing a Portuguese film.”

    “Almost all the projects I have done have had important team members who were from NYFA and I had collaborated with them first when I was doing school projects. That just stresses how important good collaborations are and the crucial role NYFA plays.”

    New York Film Academy wishes Aditya J. Patwardhan success for his upcoming projects. We urge everyone to check out A Touch of Aurora and Transference on Amazon Prime Video.

     

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    December 30, 2020 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1359

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Cast and Director of Meta Thriller “Black Bear” for NYFA Q&A-List Series

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    On December 9, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with actress & NYFA alum Aubrey Plaza, actor Christopher Abbott, actress Sarah Gadon, and former NYFA instructor and director of the film, Lawrence Michael Levine, to discuss their highly-anticipated new film Black Bear. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    The movie Black Bear is a meta thriller about movie-making, creativity, and ego from writer-director Lawrence Michael Levine. The film debuted earlier this year at Sundance and is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Black Bear boasts an incredible cast, featuring NYFA alum Aubrey Plaza (Ingrid Goes West, Parks & Recreation), Christopher Abbott (Catch-22, First Man), and Sarah Gadon (True Detective, Alias Grace).

    Laiter opened up the conversation by asking Levine how the film itself came to be made. The director cited his wife and frequent collaborator, Sophia Takal (Black Christmas; Hulu’s New Year, New You) as his inspiration. “I can remember the origins of part two was the working relationship with Sofia [Takal], but I wouldn’t say it would resemble the one in the film.”

    The film, Levine explained, is also a result of what many artists tend to do when they are stuck; try something new. “I think I just wanted to do something different and I was writing all this stuff that was very boring and conventional. I was going through a rough time and was bored professionally. It [Black Bear] was, in some ways, kind of about what I was going through.”

    (Clockwise) Tova Laiter, Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon, and Lawrence Michael Levine

    Then Plaza got involved in the project and, in addition to landing the starring role, became a producer on the film. In one of her best performances to date, the NYFA alum revealed that the toughest scene for her was the infamous “breakdown” scene in the second part of the film. “The movie within the movie just because that scene was very complex (a lot of people and a lot of chaos). That was the day, I was always scared and terrified to shoot it and it was a lot to keep all of those things in play and, in a technical sense, it was very trippy.”

    The meta concept of a movie within a movie, for some, seemed to reveal a more mysterious plot than Levine originally intended. “It’s interesting because the response has been ‘the film is mysterious.’ I guess I will say the simplest thing about it is it’s one artist [played by Plaza] doing two interpretations of a scene. The audience is left wondering: Which is real? Are they both real? When does she start writing this? Is it prior to or after meeting the couple? It’s two different ways of exploring the theme of heartbreak and betrayal.”

    Allison (Aubrey Plaza) and Gabe (Christopher Abbott) in “Black Bear” (Momentum Pictures)

    In each part of the film, Plaza, Abbott, and Gadon give knockout and emotionally-driven performances, playing dual versions of their role. “I was very intrigued to get two parts in one movie. It’s like you’re getting paid for one but doing two parts,” joked Abbott. “Larry [Levine] wrote something so genius, especially with something with Aubrey [Plaza] and Sarah [Gadon] attached to it.”

    When asked by a student whether it seemed “daunting” to play different characters, Gadon, who plays Blair, shared that it actually wasn’t daunting at all for her. “When I read the script, I was really excited. It was such an original script and I had never read anything like it, and I knew it would make for a really intense movie.”

    Caption: Gabe (Christopher Abbott) and Blair (Sarah Gadon) in “Black Bear” (Momentum Pictures)

    After discussing Black Bear, the guests turned the conversation towards more technical questions from NYFA students and alumni, who asked the artists about both the directorial and acting process. For directing, Levine provided that sometimes directing means “stepping away, trusting, and letting them [the actors] take the reins and be comfortable. The intention is to make the actors feel safe and supported by having their back if they are lost. I had faith in these three [Plaza, Abbott, and Gadon] and I was dying to work with them for Black Bear.”

    Abbott reminded actors that in most characters, there’s “always a little bit of you in there,” but it’s about determining “how different the character is from you” versus how you are alike that will help you be able to fully dive in. Gadon added that it’s about making a character feel as fleshed out as possible, a nod to screenwriters everywhere to remember to help the actors let that character leap off the page. 

    Plaza shared that it’s important for those about to enter the film industry to continue to explore their craft, make mistakes, and network. “It’s important to focus on those kinds of communities and collaborations rather than figuring out how to ‘get in’ to the industry. If there is anything concrete, you want to get in front of casting directors more than anyone. So focusing your strategy and surrounding yourself around a community of like-minded people is important, because you don’t know what could lead to the next opportunity.”

    Aubrey Plaza, Lawrence Michael Levine, Christopher Abbott, and Sarah Gadon at Sundance Film Festival (Zimbio)

    Plaza also remarked during the discussion about her NYFA days and shared with students that “New York Film Academy was so important.” She reminisced that prior to getting into the Teen Filmmaking program that she would stay up late at night and look at the pictures, “dreaming about being in that program.”

    Laiter thanked Plaza, Levine, Abbott, and Gadon for taking the time to join the conversation and for discussing their process and experience filming their critically acclaimed film Black Bear, as well as sharing their expertise with students.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon, and Lawrence Michael Levine for sharing their time and acting experience with NYFA students and alumni.

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  • NYFA Alum Rozette Rago Named an Honoree in 2020 Edition of Annual Photographers List

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    She has shot some of your favorite icons from Natalie Portman and Will Smith, to Steven Spielberg and Ryan Coogler, and capturing music icons U2, Metallica, Kanye West, and more. The NYFA Filmmaking alum, Rozette Rago, has had quite the career and she is only getting started, having recently nabbed a spot on the coveted list of “The 30.”

    The 30 is recognized throughout the professional photography industry as a “go-to” outlet to discover some of the best photographers in the world and serves as a platform to elevate emerging photographers growing their careers. Each year, The 30 are selected through a nomination and jurying process that includes the input of established photographers, photo editors, art directors, curators, and other industry leaders that are cultivated by Photo District News Magazine.

    Rago attended an 8-Week NYFA Filmmaking program in 2010 and has since gone on to shoot for The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Vanity Fair, The FADER, HBO, A+E Networks, Rolling Stone, and many more. She has also been profiled by CNN and Masterpiece for her body of work and has been hailed by Culture Photo Editor at The Times as “one of those photographers who elevates the ordinary,”

    NYFA alum used for U2’s promotional materials (Photo by Rozette Rago)

    After arriving on the scene in Los Angeles, Rago shot for bands like U2, Interpol, and Metallica, which then allowed her to leverage her portfolio to get a job as a photo editor at Time Out Los Angeles. For the past three years, she’s been a photo editor at Wirecutter in addition to contributing to other publications and networking with other women in the industry. She’s a member of groups including Authority Collective, Women Photograph, and Diversify Photo.

    Steven Spielberg (Photo by Rozette Rag0)

    The Filipino-American photographer shared with The 30 that she is grateful for the path that she has taken and shares it has “landed me exactly where I want to be,” with a career that has captured stories, scenes from music, performers, and more.

    The cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” and Director Jonathan Chu by Rozette Rago

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Rozette Rago on her incredible journey and for the well-deserved recognition by her peers on being named in The Annual 30 Photographers List.

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  • NYFA Alumni Majid Al Ansari and Razanne Jammal Involved in Netflix Original Series “Paranormal”

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    Not one, but two alumni are involved in Netflix’s first series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers for Arabic Netflix. NYFA Filmmaking alum Majid Al Ansari directs three episodes of the new series, with actress and NYFA alum Razanne Jammal starring as lead character Maggie Mckillop.

    Film poster for ‘Paranormal’

    Ma Waraa al-Tabea (in Arabic) or “Paranormal” in English, premiered on November 5, 2020, and marks Egypt’s first original series in addition to being the first Arabic Netflix series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers.

    The series is based on Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s thrilling book series about doctor Refaat Ismail, a cynical doctor whose lifelong scientific convictions are suddenly called into question. The Egyptian author’s critically acclaimed novels in Arabic have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

    NYFA alum Razanne Jammal in ‘Paranormal’

    Razanne Jammal attended NYFA’s 4-Week Acting for Film program in 2009 and has since built up a successful acting career, starring alongside Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones and starring in Robert Guédiguian’s Don’t Tell Me The Boy Was Mad, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. She now plays Maggie Mckilop in Paranormal, Refaat’s university colleague who enters the paranormal world to protect those around her from danger.

    Majid Al Ansari at a panel for Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX

    Director Majid Al Ansari attended NYFA’s 2-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program and went on to have his debut feature film Zinzana (“Rattle The Cage”) have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest and its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. Zinzana was subsequently picked up and eventually sold to Netflix as the first Arab film acquisition after the streaming giant branched out to the Middle East. He has director credits for three episodes of the Netflix thriller Paranormal.

    Still from ‘Paranormal’

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Alumni Razanne Jammal and Majid Al Ansari for their involvement on Paranormal and encourages everyone to check out the new series if it is available in their country and looks forward to what’s next from the NYFA graduates.

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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Alessandro Marcon Debuts Short Film “Anemone” at Italy’s Prestigious Trieste Science + Fiction Festival

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    Italian native Alessandro Marcon grew up in the small town of Conegliano, just one hour away from Venice, and had big dreams of becoming a film director. After attending Graphic Design school at ISSM San Marco, Marcon got his start in filmmaking, creating comedy sketches with his schoolmates. “I was in a boarding school (because I lived far away) where we were not allowed to go out. This way we had plenty of time to kill, so we thought ‘why not making some movies?’”

    NYFA alum Alessandro Marcon

    After Graphic Design school ended, Marcon decided to make his dreams come true and become a filmmaker, enrolling at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in Burbank in a 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program.

    “Since then, it’s been a roller coaster ride,” revealed Marcon. “The experience made me see the world from a different perspective. Suddenly, a ton of challenges hit me all at once, making me change and mature into who I am today.” 

    Film poster for “Anemone”

    Marcon has gone on to work on films and music videos, with his latest project being a short film he directed, wrote, produced, edited, and shares a co-cinematographer credit on called Anemone. The 16-minute sci-fi short film was shot on the white peaks of the Dolomites, located in the Eastern Alps. “We worked during winter in places with over 10 feet of snow. It was cold and very difficult to shoot in these conditions,” revealed Marcon. “Some of us literally had blood coming out of our hands or suffered in the below-zero temperatures.”

    In the end, Marcon and his team managed to pull off their short film and are premiering it on October 31, 2020, at the prestigious Trieste Science + Fiction Festival, known for being an important festival in Italy for genre films in particular. “We couldn’t be happier to be there telling what an incredible journey has been,” shared Marcon.

    Alessandro Marcon behind the scenes filming in the Dolomites

    As for what the filmmaker has learned while living out his dream of directing, Marcon shares that it’s all about communication. “I was already good at a lot of technical aspects of filmmaking (not everything, and I’ve still learned a lot), but not really good at talking with people,” revealed Marcon. “I was closed in myself and this translated also on the narratives of my stories. I’m still learning a lot in this field, but if I didn’t come here [to NYFA], all of this would not have happened.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum, Alessandro Marcon, on the premiere of his new film Anemone and looks forward to what is next from the NYFA alum. 

    Anemone will premiere in the U.S. on November 12, 2020, at the Arpa Film Festival

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    October 29, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 904

  • NYFA Alum Matthew Avery Berg Screens ‘Accomplice’ in National Film Festival for Talented Youth

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    Science fiction has a unique ability to drop audiences into a futuristic or unrealistic world and make us think beyond the realm of our everyday existence. In writing and directing his sci-fi short Accomplice, however, NYFA alum Matthew Avery Berg drew from a real, personal crisis to create his fictional story that takes place in the distant future. Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, spoke with Matthew as the film became available for online streaming as an official selection of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), running October 23 – November 1, 2020. 

    Crickett Rumley (CR): Congratulations on getting into NFFTY! Tell us more about Accomplice.  

    Matthew Avery Berg (MAB): Accomplice is about a man who’s forced to experience the memories of the person he accidentally killed. It takes place inside a medical compound in the year 2067. The sci-fi elements are obviously not inspired by true events; however, the underlying story is. Following my first surgery, I was constantly on opioids for a week. Being doped up for that long disassociated me from reality and my own mind. I’d start speaking to myself like I was two different people. However, it also led me to reflect on my life. I’d whisper confessions and admit things that I had been in self-denial about.

    Accomplice follows a man whose mind is inhabited by two different people following surgery. The new person in his head forces him to do an introspection on both their lives. It allows the protagonist to finally acknowledge his guilt the same way recovering from surgery had forced me to recognize my own…over way less dramatic things though, of course.

    Film poster for Matthew Avery Berg’s ‘Accomplice’

    My direction of the film was shaped by the health issues I was dealing with while still raising the financing. The prior summer, in 2018, I had progressively become more nauseous each night. Soon I realized that whenever I closed my eyes and avoided light my nausea improved. This feeling, which had previously only lasted a few hours at night, had become a 24/7 occurrence. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. I lost fifteen pounds in two weeks. Before undergoing an MRI, I concluded that I was dying. I was relieved to learn that I had a benign cyst in my brain. Yet, disturbingly this clue only brought more mystery and fear as I grew too sick to walk. Finally, doctors discovered that I suffered from a rare condition called “status migrainosus.” Essentially, an everlasting migraine.

    Despite the diagnosis, no neurologist could provide a cure. I took steroids and tried a variety of medications, but as some symptoms disappeared, others emerged. Two weeks later, I experienced constant vertigo, tingling throughout my body, and unbearable indigestion. I spent each day trying to distract myself until I could be sedated in hopes of waking up better the next day. This cycle continued for months, forcing me to postpone shooting an earlier version of my film.

    NYFA alum Matthew Avery Berg (Right) 

    CR: That sounds so painful and challenging. How did this crisis impact your work on the film?

    MAB: It dawned on me there was not much difference between this character suffering from external and intruding memories and me battling these strange ailments. I rewrote the script to incorporate the way I dealt with my pain as a sci-fi thriller. 

    Six months later, in every meeting with the cinematographer, we used the word “migraine” almost as much as “camera.” I instructed him which parts I wanted to feel like a migraine. In one scene, I inserted flashing lights. In another scene, I added other bright lights, and in additional scenes, we used a handheld to simulate vertigo.

    CR: What was your favorite thing about making this film?

    MAB: Seeing the (almost) finished film for the first time on the mixing stage was my favorite thing about making this movie. Although the VFX had not been added in and the color wasn’t confirmed, it was amazing to see what I had been trying to get made since sophomore year of high school play on a big screen for the first time. My producer, who had been very critical of the project up until that point – as was his job – whispered during the fade to black, “that’s awesome”. It took me a second to realize he was talking about our movie. I don’t care what anyone says, nothing is more satisfying in the process of making a film than seeing the finished product.

    CR: What was the most challenging thing about making the film?  What did you learn in the process? 

    MAB: I’d say the biggest challenge was being able to film a high-quality production with as many moving pieces and locations as this project had written. High concept sci-fi is not meant for a short film budget. I was having to rewrite in my head while we were shooting to make our tight schedule and budget work. Although I accomplished what I had set out to, there is a reason I kept my latest project to just two people in a tattooing session. While I do not believe films should be written for the sake of accommodating their budget, I now definitely think about how much a concept could cost to produce before choosing to write it. If you write an amazing space-traveling epic, you’re only doing your story a disservice by making it for $10,000.

    Still from ‘Accomplice’

    CR: What are you looking forward to in your screening with NFFTY? Are any of their masterclasses or programming looking interesting to you? 

    MAB: I’m looking forward to being able to interact with my fellow filmmakers in the same age group as me even if online. Everyone I work with tends to be at least nine years older, so I love the idea of being able to meet other people my own age with the same standard of quality to potentially collaborate with. All of the programming and masterclasses at NFFTY look amazing. However, despite what you may assume from watching my film, I’m most excited to watch the Dynamic Duos section. So much of being young and growing up is about the friendships we make and maintain. If there is a genre I feel that youth filmmakers have the most legitimate truth to share in, it is the buddy film.

    CR: Which festivals have you been in so far with Accomplice? What was that experience like?

    MAB: This has been more than a weird year for festivals. A lot of the festivals have either been postponed or canceled for 2020. However, there have been some other great ones we’ve been able to be a part of so far. We were an official selection at Dances With Films, which had an amazing virtual experience featuring some of the greatest panels I’ve had the chance to listen to. We are also an official selection at FilmQuest and won the shorts category at Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival. Unfortunately, FilmQuest has been postponed to 2021 and we were not able to attend Buffalo Dreams due to the pandemic. However, I had a student film as an official selection at Cinequest a couple of years ago and highly recommend that one. That festival gets up to 100,000 attendees, and the industry networking events are just one of the amazing aspects of that superb festival. Still waiting for the notification date for that one. 

    Accomplice was also invited to be part of Hollyshorts’ Monthly Screening Series on Bitpix.

    CR: You’ve wanted to be a filmmaker since you were four years old, and you started attending NYFA Tween Digital programs when you were in the fifth grade.  How do you think your education and the work you did here prepared you for a career in filmmaking?

    MAB: I did the 12-week Saturday program for three semesters, so for 36 Saturdays I would come and take 6-8 hours of classes throughout the school year in all aspects of filmmaking. I would shoot projects on the Universal Backlot as a ten-year-old. In all honesty, my education at NYFA was essential to preparing me as a filmmaker. I learned everything there was to learn about filmmaking without doing it professionally.

    With that being said, you don’t learn the other 75% until you get actual experience directing on professional sets.

    Still from ‘Accomplice’

    CR: So true. What have you been up to since then? 

    MAB: Since I graduated from my high school, Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, in June of 2019, I have been writing and directing professional short films. Although I was supposed to go to USC starting this semester, I ended up dropping due to the opportunities I was beginning to be handed. Accomplice started getting me attention from executives in the industry who wanted to mentor me and to fund my projects.

    I was offered carte blanche creative control of a fully-financed short film with Academy Award Nominee Eric Roberts, as well as producers inquiring about financing a feature with me directing. I was also being set up with some really big directors to shadow. Although COVID put a halt on the shadowing gigs and the feature offers, I was still able to direct the film with Eric Roberts.

    CR: That’s cool! What was the experience like?  

    MAB: It was a magical shoot. LA Ink’s Dan Smith, a celebrity tattoo artist, and musician was involved with the project and did all our tattooing inserts. Richard Patrick of Filter and Nine Inch Nails is slated to compose for it. It’s so awesome to be working with someone who I grew up listening to. The producer on the project is R. Andru Davies whose last feature film with Karen Gillian was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA and a British Independent Film Award. He’s also executive producing Stan Lee’s ArchAlien. The film is currently in post.

    CR: What else do you have coming up? 

    MAB: The next step is a feature film! I’m currently working on a script for what I think could be a great first feature, but I’d be willing to do anything that was offered to me as long as it has the potential to be amazing. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Tween Digital Program alum Matthew Avery Berg for taking the time to talk with us about his film and emerging career. From October 23 through November 1, 2020, Accomplice can be viewed on-demand as a “pay what you can” event. On Sunday, November 1, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT, it will live stream in the Salient Simulations Watch Party, followed by a live Q&A with Matthew and other filmmakers.

    Follow Matthew on Instagram @matthew_a_berg.

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    October 27, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 589

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum George Carson on the Challenges and Rewards From Creating His First Feature Film ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

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    It can be tough and challenging to create any kind of film for the first time, but especially your first feature film. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum George Carson caught up with NYFA to discuss what it was like to create his first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and gave realistic insight into the challenging, but rewarding, process of filmmaking.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum George Carson

    Carson retired from the UK Fire and Rescue service in early 2015. It was then that he decided to pursue a professional career in acting and filmmaking. After studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and pursuing other workshops, Carson realized he wanted to specifically tap into Acting for Film. “I was already aware of NYFA but at that time never dreamed I would go there. I was over the moon to be accepted a year before I was due to retire and  I couldn’t wait to get away from the Fire Service and live in NYC,” shared Carson.

    While at NYFA, Carson recalls bonding with many of his classmates and how they made the short film The Evanescence while at school together. “The whole NYFA experience was just fantastic,” shared Carson. “The instructors had a wealth of real-life experience, unlike some ‘Drama’ teachers who have never been outside a classroom. The facilities were great and the interaction of the Actors course working with the Filmmaking course meant we had a whole bunch of new friends and collaborators.”

    Film poster for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    Carson’s latest film and first feature, GetMeLovedUp.com, which he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in, has been submitted to various film festivals around the world and has already received several awards. The film follows lead characters Sharon and Kevin, who find themselves under pressure from friends and family to find a partner and sign up for an internet dating site. 

    “The inspiration was easy. I had been chatting to a friend in Glasgow one night and she told me about a particularly awful story that had happened to her on a date via an online dating agency,” explained Carson. “We then both shared funny stories about people we had met on these dates. I joked that I should write a film about it and a few months later the script was finished.”

    Carson shared that he had a vision for how he wanted to block the film (image below):

    But don’t let the blocking fool you. The wedding (Seen above) is not actually the lead couple. “For the film, I tried to make sure I avoided all the usual clichés,” shared Carson.

    On the challenges of making a feature film, Carson shared that it can be very different from making a short film. “The casting alone was a far bigger challenge than I imagined it would be. It took months and a considerable amount of time to cast the roles. It is an immense job,” he explained.

    George Carson blocking the scene for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum funded the entire film himself, so the project was working on a microbudget to produce the film and ensure the cast and crew got paid. “It meant having to do all the work ourselves. Meticulous planning and preparation were required at every step otherwise money would be wasted.” 

    Also an actor in the film, Carson shared that understanding the skills needed in front of the camera is just as important for directors to understand as well as actors. “Giving direction is all about clear communication with everyone,” shared Carson. “I don’t think a director necessarily needs a deep understanding of the actor’s craft, but there does need to be an understanding of the skill and directors need to be able to communicate clearly what they would like the actor to do performance-wise. Every word in every line can be delivered in about a million different ways.”

    “For example, the line ‘I will really miss you.’ The director has to let the actor know what they are looking for here. Will the character really miss them or is the character glad they’re leaving?

     

    An actor can say, ‘I will really miss you’ to a character on-screen with great meaning but, at the same time, the director can let the audience know that they actually hate the other character. It is this quality that a director has to tap into.”

    As for what incoming NYFA students should tap into when coming to study at NYFA, Carson says it’s all about studying, working, and learning from yourself and by others the mistakes that are made along the way. “There are very few overnight success stories. Acting and Directing are skills that can be taught and learned. Do the work and don’t worry about failing. Just get on with it. I could talk to you and show you YouTube videos about how to drive a car. But you still need to take the keys and get into that car and drive for yourself to be able to learn how to actually do it.” 

    Behind the scenes of ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum is set to appear in a few upcoming films that have been halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic and shared that GetMeLovedUp.com is expected to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon. The film can currently be found on Reveel.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum George Carson on his outstanding achievement of first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and encourages everyone to check out the film when it becomes available and for upcoming projects from the Filmmaking alum.

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    October 27, 2020 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 883

  • NYFA Alum Catalina Loret Screens Experimental Short ‘Flores Dentro’ in National Film Festival for Talented Youth

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    Hailing from Merida, a seaside town in the southeast of Mexico, New York Film Academy alum Catalina Loret (Fall 2015 BFA Filmmaking) “grew up on the beach, exploring the underwater world and fascinated with stories from the world underneath. I went to NYFA with the desire to learn how to tell these stories through a camera lens and have since explored different ways to tell stories through film.” Her latest short Flores Dentro is an official selection of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, for which the New York Film Academy is a Producing Partner. 

    Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, caught up with Catalina as the festival was beginning.

    Film poster for Catalina Loret’s film ‘Flores Dentro’

    Crickett Rumley (CR): Tell us about Flores Dentro. What was your inspiration?

    Catalina Loret (CL): Flores Dentro is a film that came out of meeting new collaborators and being inspired to create something personal. I made it two years after I graduated. I wanted to explore women’s relationships with one another using the repercussions of imposed beauty standards as a frame. Women have been instilled with the false narrative that there is not enough room for all of us to be whole without tearing each other down. The physical body fluctuates; our value does not. This film aims to expose the myth of physical beauty standards and to remind everyone that bodies are merely temporary cases and what truly matters lies within and transcends physical form.

    CR: What was your favorite thing about making this film?

    CL: I am very grateful for the connections that were created for this project, from script to camera to animation. Also, that so many women have connected with the film and that it’s a piece that touched on an aspect that can be personal to us.  

    CR: What was the most challenging thing about making the film?

    CL: Shooting in film. It had been a long time since I shot in the film, and sometimes you don’t expose it right, and you don’t learn that until the developed film comes back. But these “mistakes” made the film better as we had to work with the footage we had. It made for more creative and powerful cuts in the edit.  

    Still from ‘Flores Dentro’ 

    CR: What are you looking forward to in your screening with NFFTY? Are any of their master classes or programming that look interesting to you?

    CL: I’m looking forward to sharing this film with more people! It is my intention that this film can reach as many women as possible, and share a message of empowerment and allyship. And the panel I’m most looking forward to is After the Festival Circuit, about short film distribution, so that this film can be shared further.

    CR: Which festivals have you been in so far with Flores Dentro, and what was that experience like?

    CL: I have been to LALIFF (LA Latino International Film Festival) and Hola Mexico, and during these virtual times, it was interesting. Honestly, it’s very tiring being in front of the computer all day, but I was encouraged to attend thanks to the panelists themselves who gave great talks. There was proximity felt as we were all at home in this together, making the best out of these times.

    CR: How do you think your education at NYFA and the work you did here prepared you for a career in filmmaking?

    CL: I learned a very hands-on approach to filmmaking, making it work with what we had, crafting big ideas in simple ways. I was very fortunate to have great classmates who remain colleagues and to have further developed with them.

    Director Catalina Loret behind the scenes of ‘Flores Dentro’

    CR: Do you have any advice for recent graduates making their way into the professional world?

    CL: Make, Do, Create. Keep making projects, even simple ones, and nurture your creativity, and continue to do what you love even on a small scale. It’s easy to get caught up in working for other projects and it is very important to do so, as there is so much to learn from collaborations, but always remember to create your art.

    CR: These are trying times in the world today. Art matters more than ever. Do you want to share any words about the importance of film in the lives of people living right now?

    CL: Art has always been the outlet for trying times. When we are trying to make sense of the world and put words on the nameless, we turn to art to find that connection and understand our inner and outer worlds. In times of physical distance, it is important to make and share films that call for unity and community. These can be our most powerful tools for uncertain times.  

    The New York Film Academy thanks Filmmaking alum Catalina Loret for taking the time to talk with us about her film. From October 23 through November 1, 2020, Flores Dentro can be screened on demand as part of NFFTY’s Art in Motion short film program. This “pay what you can” program will be followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with Catalina and other filmmakers, and viewers can vote for the audience award.

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    October 26, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 628

  • NYFA Partners with the National Film Festival for Talented Youth for 2020 Events

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    As the world’s largest and most influential film festival showcasing young talent from around the globe, the National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle has long been a mecca for emerging directors.  This year, not only is the New York Film Academy jumping on board as a Producing Partner, but NYFA alumni Catalina Loret (Fall 2015 BFA Filmmaking) and Matthew Avery Berg (2011-2012 Tween Digital Programs) have films in the festival and will participate in Q&As.

    Film poster for Catalina Loret’s film ‘Flores Dentro’

    Responding to the current moment, Dan Hudson, NFFTY’s Executive Director, said, “We’re excited to announce that the entire lineup from our 14th edition will be available online for a global audience.” No matter where they are in the world this October 23 through November 1, 2020, members of the NYFA community can attend online workshops, panels, and masterclasses as well as watch the work of filmmakers under the age of twenty-five.

    On Friday, October 30, Andrea Swift, filmmaker and NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Chair, and Claudia Raschke, Academy Award-nominated cinematographer, and NYFA Documentary Cinematography professor will teach a free workshop on Smartphone Cinematography for Social Media Micro Docs at 6 pm ET/3 pm PT. Attendees will be introduced to the art of making cutting-edge Micro Docs for social media distribution, learn key smartphone cinematography techniques, and be able to ask questions.

    Still from ‘Flores Dentro’ by Catalina Loret

    Throughout the festival, Catalina Loret’s film Flores Dentro can be screened on-demand as part of the Art in Motion short film program. This “pay what you can” program will be followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with Catalina and other filmmakers, and viewers can vote for the audience award.

    On Sunday, November 1, 2020, at 1:00 pm ET/10:00 a.m. PT, Accomplice by Matthew Avery Berg will live stream in the Salient Simulations Watch Party, followed by a live Q&A with Matthew and other filmmakers.  Tickets can be purchased for the live Watch Party and Q&A, or his film can be viewed on-demand during the festival as a “pay what you can” event, where viewers can vote for the audience award.

    Film poster for ‘Accomplice’ by Matthew Avery Berg

    “I’ve long admired the National Film Festival for Talented Youth’s powerful programming and commitment to filmmakers new on the scene,” said Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals. “It’s an honor to be partnering with them this year, and I encourage everyone to swing by for the films, then stay for the panels and workshops.  There’s so much to be experienced and explored.”

    For more information on the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, please click here, and be sure to read our other blogs on Catalina Loret and Matthew Avery Berg to learn more about them and their films.

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    October 25, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 387

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Issa Rae Hosts ‘Saturday Night Live’ in Show’s 46th Season

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    “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night…with your host, Issa Rae!” In the show’s third episode of the live sketch comedy’s 46th season, NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae played the iconic role of celebrity host on Saturday Night Live, performing in the comedic sketches alongside the show’s main cast and introducing this week’s musical guest, Justin Bieber.

    NYFA alum Issa Rae performs her opening monologue on ‘SNL’ (Will Heath/NBC)

    With Rae as host, shared how important the hosting gig was to her and joked that if Insecure’s fourth season was her senior year of High School, then SNL felt like the prom and the live audience were her dates. Rae also joked, “If the show goes bad tonight, just blame it on me, Mary J. Blige,” a lighthearted jab at how Black people in Hollywood often get confused for other people who look nothing like them.

    Rae’s quirky comedy enlivened many sketches throughout the evening, but her top moments seemed to shine in sketches like “First Date Exes,” where her character keeps seeing her extremely off-putting exes while on a first date, and “Canadian News Show,” in which she played an anchor always on the lookout for Canadian rapper Drake in Toronto.

    Rae recently appeared in HBO’s original film Coastal Elites and is currently in pre-production on season 5 of her critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated series Insecure.

    New York Film Academy is proud to watch NYFA alum Issa Rae shine on stage and looks forward to what’s next from the talented writer, director, producer, and actress.

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    October 18, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 437