Filmmaking
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  • NYFA Alumnus Michael Gallagher Returns to Screen “The Thinning”

    On December 16, YouTube pioneer and NYFA alumnus Michael Gallagher screened his latest film, “The Thinning.” Following the screening, Eric Connor led a Q & A with Gallagher.

    michael gallagher

    Connor was Gallagher’s TA when he attended the NYFA Filmmaking Summer Camp when he was just thirteen. He made a film where Connor was chased around the “Jurassic Park 3” set. Using forced perspective Gallagher used a toy dinosaur to chase Connor around the set. It was in this moment that Connor knew Gallagher was special.

    Since then Gallagher has made hundreds of shorts, started the YouTube channel TotallySketch, directed the television mini-series “Interns,” “How to Survive High School” and “The Station,” and produced three films; “Smiley,” “The Thinning,” and “Internet Famous.”

    “The Thinning” was inspired by the current political climate and Gallagher’s own fear of the SAT’s. In the film high school students are required to take an aptitude test. If the student fails they are killed. When two students discover the results are predetermined they’ll do anything to reveal the truth.

    One student asked, “What were some of the things you did to advertise your earliest work?” When I first started I knew you only get so many favors. I knew the first thing that the first thing I asked, I knew it had to count. I went in with my first video. I planned it out and made this attack plan and I just carpet bombed everyone I knew asking, ‘If you ever do one thing for me promote this video.’”

    Gallagher also targeted video sharing sites like Reddit and IAmBored.com. He posted his video on viral threads. Gallagher also found websites centered on themes or items featured in his video. He reached out to administrators and asked for his work to be featured. “You just have to be creative,” Gallagher said.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Gallagher for taking the time to come speak with our students. You can support Gallagher’s work by visiting his YouTube page and hitting the thumbs up. “The Thinning” is now available on YouTube Red.

    December 16, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1623

  • NYFA Grad’s Debut Feature “El Camino” Now Available on Amazon and DVD

    “Being able to attend the program on the historic Universal Studios backlot was a dream come true,” said New York Film Academy Los Angeles 1-Year Filmmaking alumnus Sean Bauer. “I was very young at the time and had no idea of the long journey ahead. I learned a lot of skill sets in that year program, but the biggest takeaway was learning about the power of editing, frame by frame. NYFA taught me to be a great editor and, for the many years after, I was a freelance editor in LA on a wide range of projects.
    sean bauer

    After relocating back to San Diego, Bauer decided to buckle down and get serious about creating his feature film debut. “Screenwriting and directing have always been just as important to me and when Elizabeth Ann Guevara approached me about adapting her true story novel (“Separated by Dreams”) it seemed like the perfect fit,” said Bauer. From there, Guevara and Bauer formed an LLC., and sold a small group of investors on their story. In 2011, they shot the film on a small budget with a group of hardworking cast and crew. Because of the lack of funds, post production on the film was delayed for several years.

    “With my strong editing background, I was able to reshape the film (that we originally set out to make) into a much more compelling piece of cinema. I wore so many hats on this project: writer, director, editor, camera op, stunt double, colorist, the list goes on. There were so many times that we could have permanently shelved this project but pure passion (and my drive to be the best filmmaker I can be) is what got me through the uphill battles.”

    EL CAMINO – OFFICIAL TRAILER from Sean Bauer Films on Vimeo.
    The film, “El Camino” is a character drama about a recovering meth addict whose path to redemption is derailed by a drug fueled past that comes back to haunt him. The existential film that weaves between the past and present, focusing on this inner struggle between these two versions of this character, where the protagonist is also his own antagonist. “It’s an experimentally crafted indie feature with a strong vintage vibe to it, that was inspired by true events and that we made on a micro budget with lots of passion by a dedicated cast and crew,” Bauer said. “It’s a project that I’ve spent the better part of a decade getting made, a movie that taught me how to be a much more creative and tactile filmmaker. I’m incredibly proud of it.

    Bauer has always gravitated toward films about underdogs and stories of redemption. “‘Rocky (‘76)’ definitely came to mind when I was brainstorming how I’d handle the source material. Craig Brewer’s ‘Hustle & Flow’ came out around the time I had started the writing process and that was influential in ways. Re-reading the book and breaking it all down, it was clear to me, at the time, that I had to take a different approach. I had to make it my own, so it spoke to my sensibilities. So I focused the entire film on the first quarter of the book, cherry picked elements from that section and added in some much needed conflict that would make it cinematically compelling. Taking the character of Miguel, a character written from the point of view of a hazy dream and grounding him in the real world as flesh and blood, it allowed the novel and the film to speak on their own terms while at the same time being tied together, thematically. It really is a one-of-a-kind adaptation.

    el camino

    Bauer is now in the process of writing a few different screenplays, including a follow up to “El Camino.” Bauer says it’s a theoretical film that will explore the concept of alternate realities, told in a similar fashion to how “El Camino” shifts between past and present.

    “It’s also a film rooted around the creation of music and a film that will showcase the rarest of vinyl record collecting, which is a personal hobby of mine,” Bauer added. “It will share some thematic similarities to ‘El Camino,’ but where ‘El Camino’ has this run ’n gun documentary aesthetic to it, this follow up film will flow in a smoother direction.”

    “El Camino” is now available on VOD through Amazon Prime as well as on DVD. Go to ElCaminoMovie.com for more info.

    December 14, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1616

  • NYFA South Beach Student Wins Best Short Film at SoFlo WebFest in Miami

    marcus wellsNew York Film Academy South Beach student Marcus Wells won Best Short Film at the South Florida Web Fest (#SOFLOWEBFEST) in Miami for his mid-thesis film, “Soiled Roots.”
    South Florida WebFest is Miami’s premier festival dedicated to web entertainment that brings non-traditional voices of cinema to the forefront. The festival takes place during Miami’s epic art fair – Art Basel.
    “The web truly provides the freedom to tell your own story, and our goal was to ensure that the diversity of South Florida was reflective in this web festival,” said SOFLOWEBFEST Executive Director, Ashlee Thomas. “From Spain, to South Africa, Mozambique, Iran, and the US – SOFLOWEBFEST has niched itself to bring colorful stories from around the world to Miami.”
    Wells’ film is about a black mother who is influenced by her own mother’s drug dealing lifestyle which leads to risking the lives of their family. His story was inspired by NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. When he was 10 years old his mother and grandmother were both arrested for dealing drugs. Thomas’ mother was given the chance to either disclose information about her own mother or to not say anything. His mother decided not to speak and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    “What I hope to achieve with this film is feedback on my creative thinking,” said Wells. “This was my most challenging film thus far and would like others to view this story from my perspective. I also wanted to address the idea of bad seeds being planted within families and passed onto the next generation.”

    south beach marcus wells

    Wells plans on submitting his award-winning short to other local, national and international film festivals.

    He is currently working on his thesis film, which he plans to shoot this coming summer and complete by late summer of 2017.

    “NYFA has definitely given me the tools to create my own vision.,” says Wells. “Every teacher wants us to succeed and offers individual attention so that we can achieve the highest quality work.”

    Located in the heart of South Beach, New York Film Academy in Miami offers a wide range of degree, conservatory, and workshop programs designed for students like Wells to achieve their creative goals through hands-on, project-based curriculum.

    December 12, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1777

  • NYFA Alumna’s Award-Winning Doc Captures Saudi Arabian Culture

    jameelahComing off of her documentary short film, “Historic Jeddah,” which screened at the International Film Festival Manhattan in 2015, One Year Filmmaking Conservatory Program and the Eight-week Filmmaking Workshop alumna Jameelah Rose Lineses directed a sequel documentary called “Our Journey to Hijaz.” The short film features never-before-seen footage depicting life in Saudi Arabia before the oil boom. It includes reenactments of how people used to live and features a Saudi traditional wedding and a sword dance.

    “My inspiration in making both films ‘Historic Jeddah’ and ‘Our Journey to Hijaz’ was my mother,” said Lineses. “She was the one who motivated me to create films about Saudi Arabia’s history and cultural heritage. There are no films showcasing Saudi Arabia’s history and cultural heritage that have been recognized in any international film festival. There are so many stories to tell relating to Saudi Arabia’s history — stories that are not yet known to the rest of the world and that only a handful of people really know.”

    Lineses’ sequel has been recognized by several film festivals thus far, including:

    Film Festival Director Award for BEST STUDENT FILM
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2013
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Ani Ng Dangal Presidential Awardee for Cinema
    6th ANI NG DANGAL/Harvest of Honors 2014
    National Commission for Culture and the Arts
    Manila, Philippines

    Most Popular IFFM Film Promo for “Historic Jeddah” (Saudi Arabia)
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2015
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Honorable Mention for “Our Journey to Hijaz” (Saudi Arabia)
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2016
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Lineses says that although she’s been living in Saudi Arabia for her entire life, there are still many things she doesn’t know about her country’s history and cultural heritage.

    “It was only early last year when I started to learn about it on my own by attending cultural events and tours,” said Lineses. “I also discovered that my mother’s first sponsor — when she came to Saudi Arabia — was a member of the Naseef family.”

    lineses

    Naseef is one of the most prominent families in Saudi Arabia, and their ancestral house, Bayt Naseef, is now a museum, which is highlighted in her documentary.

    “As a pioneer, I hope that I am able to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s promising future in the field of cinema,” Lineses says. “I also hope that I am able to give rise to aspiring Saudi filmmakers to do the impossible, break stereotypes, and to not shy away from adversities.”

    She also hopes her documentaries will show that it is possible to make a film about Saudi Arabia and still uphold the country’s code of conduct.

    Lineses is now working on another documentary, “Third Culture Kids of Saudi Arabia,” about the people born, raised and currently living in Saudi Arabia. “This film will tackle our everyday lives and show how we assimilate into society,” says Lineses.

    December 6, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1831

  • NYFA Improv Instructor Bill Watterson to Premiere “Dave Made a Maze” at Slamdance 2017

    New York Film Academy Improv instructor Bill Watterson’s directorial debut film, “Dave Made a Maze,” was recently highlighted in Variety as a ‘notable title’ in competition at Slamdance 2017. The festival, which launched in 1995 as an alternative to Sundance, has included showings of such notable titles as Oren Peli’s “Paranormal Activity.” The fest, which takes place at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, will screen 19 movies: 12 world premieres, three North American debuts, and one U.S. launch. Slamdance alumni include Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess, Lena Dunham, Benh Zeitlin, Seth Gordon, and Lynn Shelton.

    bill watterson

    Watterson also has a series of web shorts that he wrote and directed, which led to a TV deal with Brandio Entertainment. As an actor, he performed motion capture and voice over for the video games “LA Noire” and “Lost Planet 3”; appeared in the films “Ouija,” “Jenny’s Wedding,” and Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys”; and TV credits include “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” “The Soul Man,” and “The Young & The Restless.”

    We had a chat with the director and instructor before his upcoming January premiere at Slamdance.

    Congrats on being accepted to Slamdance! Can you tell me what “Dave Made a Maze” is all about?

    “Dave Made a Maze” re-imagines classic 80’s adventure films with a modern comedic edge and a higher body count. Dave, a frustrated artist, gets lost inside the cardboard fort he builds in his living room, and his girlfriend Annie must lead a band of oddball explorers on a rescue mission. The handmade fantasy world features the in-camera effects of puppetry, stop motion animation, and optical illusions.

    How did the film come about?

    A friend of mine from Second City started writing a whacked out script based on an anecdote I’d told him about my mother coming home and panicking that I had gotten lost in a pillow fort I’d made in my bedroom, even though I’d followed protocol and left a note saying I was having dinner at my friend John Richards’ house. She tore the fort apart looking for me. Steve had 60 pages by the next day. Eventually we zeroed in on the themes and started working together to finish the script.

    How were you able to raise funds for the production?

    We got some great talent attachments early on, drawing on contacts at Second City and work we’d done as actors. Some of our production design team came from “Robot Chicken,” and since the handmade look and animations in the film were so important, that caught a lot of investors’ eyes. The film is entirely independently financed.


    Will we be seeing you on screen as well in this film?

    I have a very brief cameo as a still photo on a keyboard box. It was such an ambitious film and we had so little time to prep and even less to shoot. It felt irresponsible to focus on anything other than directing.

    As an improv teacher, what sort of advice or direction did you give your actors?

    It’s always good to be in touch with your instincts, to respond honestly to the things happening before you, to be quick on your feet, and to ask yourself and your actors ‘what if?’ Those are foundational improv skills that also apply to directing. I definitely let the actors play around with dialogue to make sure they were comfortable and felt safe and supported, and because they’re all so gifted comedically. But we had a lot to get done, so I had to be careful not to let the train get off the tracks.

    Bill & Meera

    What do you hope to achieve at Slamdance? Are you looking for a distributor?

    Right now, we’re meeting with sales agents to help us find a distributor at the festival. It’s an honor to be there, and we want to be sure to capitalize on the opportunity. We made a very strange movie, and I’m hoping to find like-minded people in Park City who enjoy the silliness and heart of the film.

    What advice can you give to filmmakers looking to direct their first feature?

    Take all your successful director friends out to lunch and pick their brains. Shadow them on one of their projects if they’ll have you, and take lots of notes. Ask your editor what they hate about directors they’ve worked with in the past, and what mistakes to avoid on set.

    Read Sidney Lumet’s “Making Movies” and know your movie’s theme in and out, and filter all your decisions through that. Everybody wants to direct the movie; keep a small council, and defer to the best idea, whether it was yours or not. Know that the movie you shot will be different from the movie you edit; don’t fight it. Be grateful to the people who are working their butts off to bring your project to life. You cannot get anywhere without them.

    Anything else you’re working on now or in the near future that you’d like to share?

    I just walked out of a pretty huge meeting that I don’t want to jinx. I shot a series of shorts with a puppet that I’m almost ready to share, and I’m dusting off other pitches to have a better answer to this question come festival time!

    December 2, 2016 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1942

  • Award-Winning NYFA Grad’s Newest Film Tackles Native Americans’ Struggle in “Mannahatta”

    Renae Maihi is a New Zealand Film Commission Grant Recipient, who attended the New York Film Academy 8-Week Filmmaking Program on a Professional Development Award. She is currently an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer and director in theatre and film. Her film “Redemption” screened at the Berlin Film Festival and Sundance, and won Best Short Film at imagineNATIVE 2010. Her award-winning short film “Butterfly” screened at imagineNATIVE in Canada.

    mannahatta

    Last month, Maihi returned to NYFA to screen her newest film, “Mannahatta,” before it premiered at ImagineNATIVE in October. The film focuses on an immigrant man who struggles with his difficult boss as he tries to create a life for himself on the island of Manhattan. However, when he is visited by the spirit of an ancient Native American man, he realizes that his existence is intrinsically linked to a larger history of struggle that is woven into the land he now stands on.

    We caught up with Maihi after her screenings to find out more about her and her film.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background and growing up in New Zealand?

    I’m indigenous Maori from the Ngati Whakaue and Ngapuhi tribes. My country, New Zealand, was founded based on a Treaty called “The Treaty of Waitangi,” so it is a country which is founded on a partnership between Maori and the British Crown. As filmmakers in our local box office, Maori stories account for 10 of the top 15 films which is a great indication of our importance in the New Zealand and international landscape. I’m very proud of my heritage.

    What brought you to NYFA?

    I felt the need to further develop my technical skills as a filmmaker. While on set and directing it became obvious to me that I didn’t have the depth of technical understanding to get the best out of my stories and crew. I come from an actor’s background (Bachelor of Performing Arts – Drama Major) and I’m also a playwright. My arts background served me well as a storyteller but film directing is a particular set of unusual skills: The ability to understand the craft of dramatic storytelling in screenplay, the ability to understand rhythm, tone, pace and composition of frame choices, the ability to effectively direct the performance of actors & the ability to technically understand the technologies you’re working with.

    It was the latter I felt was lacking. I was unable to set up three-point lighting and understand the reasons behind it. I was unable to edit my own material and, most importantly, I did not know my way around a camera or lens. This wasn’t good enough for me. The New Zealand Film Commission (our government body which funds us to make films) gave me a Professional Development grant as did my tribe Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust and my industry colleagues in New Zealand. Soon enough, I was on a plane headed to New York to study at NYFA. Life was good.

    Did your background draw you to the topic of your film ?

    As an indigenous woman from New Zealand, my Maori people had multiple struggles with our treaty initially being ignored. Our peoples’ land was stolen and there was systematic racism. I felt an immense empathy for the Native American people whose history was far worse than ours.

    Prior to leaving NZ, I was visited in a dream briefly by a Native American chief. He did not say anything but I remember waking up with an understanding that I needed to tell his story. Once I arrived I had a deep sense of pain for what felt like “the forgotten Indian.” I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if my people here in NZ had been sent away from our ancestral lands, hidden from society, genocide, marginalized, and, from what I gathered from some conversations I had with people, hated. This hurt me deeply that the people who survived and lived on a land for 10,000 years prior to anybody else, (the first peoples of the land) were not treated with the regard and respect that they should have been.

    This film is an acknowledgement to their people that validates the importance of their pain, struggle and voice in a subtle way. Ultimately, it’s about the potential for peace through acknowledgment.

    mannahatta

    What surprised you the most in the research and development of the film?

    One thing that surprised me immensely was that my instincts in writing the screenplay about another culture were actually accurate. Once my lead actor Ginew Benton (“Ojibwe”) read the script with his Shinnecock friends, they commented on the significance of stones in their culture. There are stones all throughout the story. This was not something that was told to me, it just felt right.

    The other thing was the racism I actually faced at a pizza shop. They were initially all for me filming in their pizzeria until they found out that there were Native American themes in the story. Soon after I was met with a 180 degree switch in the way I was dealt with and told, “We’re don’t want anything to do with it.” Luckily, through a miracle, I found a pizza shop in NYC’s Lower East Side that had been shut down for a few weeks due to a gas leak. Also, another surprising moment was while filming in a park, a man passed us and started mocking my Native American lead actor, making an indian war cry sound. It was so overtly racist I couldn’t believe it.

    On a few positives, I must mention my three woman team, who was Laurence DeBourbon and Ruth Bayes, both of whom were my “ride or die chicks.” Laurence, who lives in Paris, was a superstar for me, and I really could not have made this film without her. When I make my feature films in the future, I will insist on employing her because she works hard and gets the job done. Probably not really surprising, since the French are the parents of cinema!

    What do you hope to achieve with your film?

    Recently it premiered at ImagineNATIVE in the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, which is the largest and most prestigious indigenous film festival in the world (there are about 1.7 billion indigenous people in the world, by the way) and I was proud for it to play in that festival. I am hoping it does some of the prestigious film festivals in the world but, most of all, I hope it helps people to consider a few things when thinking about the indigenous peoples of America. I hope it helps create a little more understanding.

    Would you say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being able to direct MANNAHATTA?

    Absolutely, it was extremely useful! I made this film while attending NYFA…despite one of my teachers mentioning, “You know you’re not making a student film, this screenplay is a pro film.” I trusted that the people who I had on my team could help me pull this off. Additionally, at one stage, my DP Alexey Korsuovo and I were the only two people on set and I was able to perform multiple crew role — something I couldn’t do prior to going to NYFA. The cherry on the top was I actually edited “Mannahatta” before it went to Annie Collins (“Lord of the Rings”) something that I definitely could not do at all before NYFA.

    My time there and the skills I learned have made me an infinitely better director. I feel much more confident. In fact, while filming another film this year, I did a ten minute 1-shot, something I would not have had the confidence to do prior to my time in the intensive program.

    I went to NYFA to prepare technically before I made a feature film, and I can truly say that upon returning to New Zealand I felt ready for that challenge.

    Where will we be able to see your film in the future?

    I’m in discussions with multiple film festivals, so hopefully in New York soon. “Mannahatta” has also been acquired by FNX, which is an SBS network Indigenous channel with 23 million viewers, so it will screen on that station once the film has completed its circuit. Hopefully it has a rich life and travels.

    Are you currently working on another project that you’d like to tell us about?

    Yes, I’m part of a feature film project called “WARU,” which is in post production. I’m one of the 8 women directors on it; all of the women are some of the top Maori filmmakers in NZ, so it was a great thing to be a part of.

    I was also selected for the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ as an incubator director, so for the next year I’m being mentored by one of our top guilds here, as well as the NZ Film Commission. I have a feature film trilogy that I am developing the screenplay for at present. Lots on the burner!

    December 1, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1415

  • NYFA Student’s “The Jackal” Earns Best Director Award at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival

    Aisultan SeitovFinding people who are completely dedicated to their careers can often be difficult. We had the opportunity to speak with Aisultan Seitov, a young student who is truly dedicated to his passion. His short thesis film, “The Jackal,” recently earned a Best Director Award at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival.

    Aisultan, why did you choose the Filmmaking program at New York Film Academy?

    I’m from Astana, Kazakhstan. At first I wanted to enter the local State University and become an engineer. And filmmaking was just my hobby until I won a state grant, which allowed me to study at NYFA.

    Everything started when my school teacher made a video about our class activities. At the end of each week we waited to watch it and got great pleasure from viewing it. In high school I took part in international film competitions and I was among the winners two years in a row. I got an e-mail from NYFA that they were coming to our city. When I learned about the competition for a state grant, I prepared my project — it was a horror film. I always dreamed of studying at NYFA and it came true!

    Tell us about the educational process. Do you have any favorite instructors? Have you had any difficulties?

    I have studied at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for five weeks. I like all subjects and instructors. The three year BFA program at the New York Film Academy allowed me to study for my first year in New York, and the second and third years in Los Angeles.

    It was difficult for me to adapt to the local mentality. Everything was different for me. At first I missed my motherland, but I think it’s usual for a foreign student. I hardly made contacts with other students, but as time passed, it became easier for me.

    Also, in the beginning it seemed strange for me to learn about the need for permits to shoot outdoors, but now I know that it’s the part of the process.the jackal

    Aisultan, tell us about your film, “The Jackal,” which won an award at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival. How did the idea come about?

    I had to shoot my thesis project. At first I wanted to create a thriller in New York. Then I realized that if I did this it wouldn’t be as good as I wanted. And the quality was principal for me. I always dedicate myself to my business and try to do my best.

    When I came back to Kazakhstan and met with my friends, I was shocked, they seemed so different. They stopped following their dreams. They had lost their ambitions. And the fight against this system became the main idea of my film.

    I always try to do something new. I was lucky to get on board one of the best DP in Kazakhstan, Azamat Dulato. We shot project in the outskirts of Alma-Ata. To experiment, this time we made the whole film in one shot. Of course we had some challenges, it was a nasty day, and only half of the extras were present. We didn’t have a large budget. Almost all the money we spent was for the camera rent.

    Who or what inspires you?

    Family conflicts are always in my work, but I want to try all genres, because it would be new experiences for me. I am fond of Wes Anderson’s and David Fincher’s films. And of course my inspiration is from simple things. I started to appreciate my friends, my motherland. Different things inspire me. For example, the architecture of old buildings. As I said, my school teacher played an important role in my life as well. My good friend and musician, Max Korzh, taught me to follow my dream. Also, since childhood I have been fond of Steve Jobs, his outlook influenced my personality.

    Aisultan Seitov at NYFA

    Where would you like to work?

    It’s difficult to answer this question now. Soon I may work in Russia or the Ukraine. This summer I visited a lot of new cities and met many interesting people in the industry. I want to live in America and work on projects all over the world. It’s wonderful to travel and do what you like most of all.

    Aisultan, what advice would you give to someone who is beginning the Filmmaking program?

    It’s important to watch at least one film a day. If you want to create films you should watch them. It is necessary to work hard, with passion. It’s better to create projects that you like. I am a lazy person, but when it is all about my projects, I’ll do the impossible and do it the best way.

    New York Film Academy thanks Aisultan Seitov for his time. We wish him success in his creative career and are confident he’ll be receiving more awards for his upcoming films.

    November 30, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1177

  • A Talk with NYFA Alumna Bayan Yerimbet

    YerimbetNYFA alumna, Bayan Yerimbet is a well-known producer in Kazakhstan, as well as a businesswoman, wife and mother of two. She has a very creative family. She has worked on two feature projects with her husband, Askar Bissembin, who is a filmmaker and producer. Her sister, Bota Yerimbet, is a screenwriter and director; and her brother, a 19-year-old student who studies marketing, Darmukhamed Yerimbet, was recently invited to make a teaser music video for a film that will soon be released. Bayan Yerimbet found a moment to tell us about her creative family, and how she manages her time for both family and work.

    Bayan, you started out working in the banking sector. What made you decide to work in the film industry? 

    Oh, it’s a very interesting story. I have a law degree. I worked in a law field, and my last job was in the bank. I felt I had reached the highest position at bank that I could at that time, and I thought that I wanted something in my life to change. I realized that I liked both law and film. So I started my research, and then found that these two spheres are crossed in producing. I found it interesting, and we started to look for a film school to study at. We wanted to know how to create a movie, and that’s how it started.

    Your film “The Wedding for Three Persons” was very successful in Kazakhstan. What are you working on currently?

    It was my first film. The second one is “Nauryz.KZ,” and it’s in the post-production phase. It will be released in March because it is dedicated to the national holiday, Nauryz – which means Kazakh New Year. I can say that it is the story about love, spring and the awakening of nature! My husband is the director and I am a producer on this film.

    Is it easy for you to share the set with your husband?

    I realized that it is very difficult. We knew that we would work together on our first project, because we both liked the thesis film that I was developing when I was a NYFA student. But this second film was an order from investors; they found us and paid for it. Our friends sponsored our first film; you know the rule of the three F’s- only Friends, Family or Fools will sponsor your first project. It was more difficult to work with our second film. Even with my husband, we had more responsibility. There were different situations, but we made it. I can say that if you have strong relationships, you can do anything. It is hard, but possible; we passed this exam (laughs).

    Yerimbet and husband

    Can you tell us the secret of how you have time for everything? You have two children, work in the film industry with your husband, and run your production studio.

    I honestly don’t know. I have to do it. Of course it is difficult. You have to be in constant movement because, with children, everyone needs you both at home and at work. There is no secret. You must do everything and be an active person.

    From the time my daughter was three years old, she has been involved in the film industry. We took her to the US where she spent a lot of time on set and played in the movies. But, most of all, my daughter likes to write. She wrote some stories. We’re planning to publish them one day, following her desire to become an author. And maybe she will find it interesting to write screenplays when she’s older and will become a screenwriter, like her parents.

    You studied in the Producing program at NYFA, and your husband studied in the Filmmaking program. Please tell us about your favorite teachers, and what has changed in your life after graduating from NYFA?

    We were looking for a film school in Los Angeles, because this city is the heart of the film industry. We knew the New York Film Academy representative in our native city in Kazakhstan. It was easy for us to discuss our enrollment and to learn more about the school. We were surprised, but everything was arranged in the best way and we received the state grant for the school. We realized that NYFA was what we needed.

    I cannot say that some teachers are better than others; they are all good. I liked Raf Green, he taught us writing for TV. I liked his way of explaining materials. I would also like to speak, separately, about the Director, Dan Mackler. He is great. He helped me with my thesis film when I had some location problems. Dan solved this problem over night. It sounds strange, but there are no limits in America. Students may ask teachers for help, and NYFA instructors are always ready to give you time.

    Everything changed after graduation. My rhythm and lifestyle were changed. Previously, I had a job with a strict schedule, but now I live with the creative process day and night. The film industry doesn’t adhere to strict rules and regulations. It’s not the routine work I had before. Now, I have more creativity. Everything is more interesting. We have more friends and more interests. Everything has become better in our lives. We became more confident and we use this knowledge.

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    What are your plans for the future?

    We will shoot films not only in Kazakhstan, but also in other countries. My husband shot four projects here; I want to expand our territory. The world is large; there are a lot of sets. I want to make a feature film in another country, maybe in Russia, the US, Canada and so on. I would like to have more experience. We need to go and try to do more.

    Also, as you already know, my sister, Bota Yerimbet, graduated from the NYFA Filmmaking Program in 2012. And we have an idea to come up with a collaborative project in the near future.

    New York Film Academy thanks Bayan Yerimbet very much for her time. We wish her success in her creative career.

    November 14, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1777

  • NYFA Works with Korean Producers and Directors Educational Institute at Youtube LA

    On Tuesday, October 25th, the New York Film Academy helped bring cultures together by working alongside the Korean Producers and Directors Educational Institute (KPDE) at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles. The producers traveled to America to learn about the American style of development, streaming, and television audiences.

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    The tour of YouTube Space included all the highlights. In the first studio, they visited there was a podium with a mock presidential seal at the far end of the room. This set was housed in one of the smaller studios, but the group had fun pretending to address the nation.

    The next studio they visited was the largest in the building. Studio one is decked out with a hanging light rig, sound absorbing floors, and a three hundred and sixty-degree catwalk. Sets that have been housed in this space include half an airplane and a two-story hotel.

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    Other highlights of the trip include the gear room which holds a RED Dragon, a green screen room where Weezer shot a music video and the control room where live streams are produced.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank YouTube Space for hosting us and the Korean Producers and Director’s Educational Institute. If you’d like to learn more about YouTube Space LA and their various locations around the world click here.

    November 8, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1269

  • Roskino Talks Russian Cinema at NYFA LA

    On Friday, October 28, 2016, New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus hosted Roskino, a Russian-based organization that works alongside the government to promote an international image of Russian cinema. With the goal of Hollywood level production, combined with Russian storytelling, Roskino is the only company of its kind in Russia.

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    Roskino showcased two of Russia’s strongest films; a short film titled The Boy, and a historically based feature, The Duelist. The Duelist was shot entirely in St. Petersburg. Writer/ Director, Vlad Kozlov, and actor, Petr Fedorov, were in attendance to speak with students about their work.

    One student asked Fedorov what he looks for in a director. Federov replied, “They need to know what they want, and they shouldn’t be afraid of me.”

    A NYFA alumnus wanted to know how much of historic St. Petersburg was actually on screen. “We had some computer graphics, but most of what you’re seeing is real,” Fedorov explained. In the film, the streets are caked in layers of mud. Dirt was brought in by the truckload and watered down once it reached set. Horses were brought in and allowed to wander the set and make it to their home.

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    “It’s one thing when the actor is trying to imagine. It’s another thing when it’s all there,” Fedorov continued. “Actors should respect the work that happens before they get to set. You are responsible for every frame.”

    The conversation shifted to the hope for the future of Russian cinema. Kozlov said, “I hope, in the future, Russian films will be shown all over the world. It will happen soon and we will be the best.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Petr Fedorov, Vlad Kozlov, and all the hands at Roskino who made this event possible. The Duelist will be released in select theaters on December 2, 2016. If you’d like to learn more about the films of Russia you can follow Roskino here.

    November 4, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 2263