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  • Award-Winning NYFA Grad Directs “Smile” for Rapper Baby Kaely

    One of the many terrific benefits of attending the New York Film Academy for aspiring filmmakers is the opportunity to study with other creative people – actors, producers, writers, illustrators and graphic designers. While studying and practicing your craft you can immediately begin building a network of friends in the industry. It is no secret that connections in this business are very important. After graduation, many of our alumni successfully work with their former classmates.

    The most resent example of amazing teamwork of NYFA grads is the new music video “SMILE” for a young Hollywood rapper Baby Kaely, who is just 10 years old and already has collaborated with the famous hip hop producer will.i.am. Her new music video “SMILE” was directed by MA Film & Media Production alumnus Mykyta Samusiev and produced by former NYFA student Kelline Kanoui. In addition to them the crew included another one of our graduates, Konstantin Frolov, who worked on the project as Director of Photography and Editor. The video has been on YouTube for just about a month and has already gained over 130,000 views. This proves once again that a great team of professionals can produce a significant product.

    Another great example of a successful collaboration between New York Film Academy graduates is the award-winning short “Death of a Government Clerk,” also directed by Mykyta Samusiev. The film recently won an Award of Merit Accolade Global Film Competition, Award of Merit Best Short Competition and Award of L.A. NEO Noir Film & Script Festival Film Festival. To bring this Anton Chekhov story to life, Samusiev teamed up with fellow graduates Sergey Kalvarskiy, Egor Povolotsky, Bogdan Yansen and Alex Lampsos.

    death of government

    As they say, there is no force more powerful than a group of people with similar goals and ambitions. When Mykyta Samusiev came to Los Angeles from Ukraine, driven by his dream to become a filmmaker, he didn’t know a single soul in the United States. By completing a Master’s degree program at NYFA, he not only nurtured his interests in writing, directing and producing films but also met many like-minded people that shared his vision.

    We recommend all students to follow his example. Start making connections from the first day of the program. Do not treat your school years as a rehearsal before the real world. Work has already begun!

    December 21, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 860

  • ‘Midnight Delight’ Wins Top Honors at the Oregon Film Awards 2015

    Midnight Delight, the latest feature from New York Film Academy graduate Rohit Gupta has been honored with the prestigious Platinum award for Best Experimental Film at the 2015 Oregon International Film Awards. “We are highly delighted about such an encouraging honor,” said Gupta, whose third film in a row continues to enthrall audiences around the world. Gupta’s earlier feature Life! Camera Action… picked up the Grand Jury Choice Award, the highest recognition at the same event in 2011.

    Tag-lined “Say hi to high…” and “Couch. Conversations. Clarity,” the 85-minute unique comedy film, Midnight Delight, produced by Gupta and Saumin Mehta under the banner of production company Dot and Feather Entertainment, is a composition of nine vignettes of characters at a smoking lounge and their hilarious antics with people they’ve never met before. Gupta shot the entire film over two-nights with a multi-camera set up. Mehta also post-produced the film, including an animated sequence, in only three months. The ensemble cast includes award winning actor Shaheed Woods, Michele Suttile, Alexandra Hellquist, award winning actress Dipti Mehta, John Crann, Maggie Alexander, Bill McCrea, Rachel Myers, Michael Laguerre, Adit Dileep, Sofia Sivan and Michael Lester who is also credited as co-editor. The theme song is I get high by Filo.

    When asked Gupta about the significance of the title, Gupta replied, “Midnight Delight has been my all time favorite ice-cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery.” Fair enough.

    The Oregon International Film Awards (OIFA) recognizes the very best in contemporary international independent cinema and screenwriting. OIFA presents awards annually to unique and compelling films from around the world. Awards are presented each year in four top recognition levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze and only to those films and filmmakers that demonstrate a superior level of craftsmanship and quality.

    midnight delight

    Gupta and his team have another reason to celebrate this festival season as Midnight Delight has also been announced as an Official Selection at the Blow-up Chicago International Art House Film Festival 2015, which takes place towards the end of December. The Festival, named after the Michelangelo Antonioni’s iconic film Blow-Up, brings original storytellers together with adventurous audiences for its annual program.

    Earlier in 2015, Midnight Delight won the Judges Choice Film of the Festival award at the Cannabis Film Festival in Humboldt County, California, where the jury stated, “Midnight Delight is like smoking a cinematic joint.” At the film’s Washington state premiere at the 2015 Hempapalooza Music and Film Festival, it was said, “Midnight Delight is a pure cinematic aphrodisiac that brings a completely new and unique take on cannabis based movies and culture.”

    December 17, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1406

  • NYFA Student Directs Comedy TV Show for Kazakhstan Television

    Egor Povolotsky and Medet Shayakhmetov

    Egor Povolotsky and Medet Shayakhmetov

    At just 22 years old, New York Film Academy BFA Filmmaking student Medet Shayakhmetov has taken giant steps toward achieving his professional goals. His numerous filmmaking credits include directing music videos for the top Russian rap artist duo Basta/Guf and a commercial for a Swiss social network — Swiss Social, which he wrote, directed and shot. Last spring he directed a comedy TV-show “Q-eлi,” about life in different parts of Kazakhstan, for the Kazakhstan TV’s “Channel Seven.” But his journey into the film industry wasn’t always smooth sailing.

    “It is very important to follow your heart, believe in yourself and believe that everything is possible,” says Medet. From a very young age he loved arts and wanted to pursue a career in design. But in high school his friend asked him to help make a video for a friend’s 16th birthday. Once Medet held a camera in his hands, he knew right away that filmmaking was going to be one of his life’s passions. He made a serious effort to choose the right film school while building a strong video-portfolio. His dream was to study filmmaking, particularly in the United States. And when—thanks to his talent, hard work and perseverance—Medet won a scholarship from the non-commercial organization “Saby Charitable Foundation,” he immediately chose the New York Film Academy.

    “Before I started my education at New York Film Academy I had already shot many music videos and commercials, but I never made a real movie. At NYFA I learned how to make films and work in a team, which is very important. On the first week of the program we were given film equipment and immediately began shooting our first project.”

    on the set of “Q-eлi”

    “Q-eлi” is Medet Shayakhmetov’s first big professional project for television. The practical on-set experience gained at New York Film Academy helped him to accept the offer to direct this project without any doubts. He already knew what the responsibilities of each crew position were and felt confident to plan and manage a full size cast and crew with more than 50 extras.

    “The knowledge I received from the Acting for Filmmakers course was very useful,” recalls Medet. “NYFA instructor Salvatore Interlandi taught us how to hold casting sessions and how to get the best performance from an actor on set.

    Medet is currently working on his thesis film and two new music videos. One is for the indie-pop band POMPEYA (post-production) and the second one is for the Chicago-based DJs FLOSSTRADAMUS (pre-production). After graduating from the New York Film Academy, Medet Shayakhmetov is planning to go back to his home country. He believes the film industry in Kazakhstan has a bright future and he hopes his contribution of the knowledge he gained at NYFA will help the industry to gain recognition on a global level.

    December 16, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1787

  • Actor Paulo Costanzo Visits NYFA Battery Place

    Having grown up with the desire to direct films, especially after first seeing Trainspotting, Paulo Costanzo first broke into the business through acting. His biggest break came about after an open audition in Canada got the attention of Todd Phillips and Ivan Reitman for the comedy, Road Trip. Beating the odds with hard work, talent and a little bit of luck, Costanzo landed the role of Rubin Carver in Road Trip and never looked back. “Had I not prepared and been that confident, I wouldn’t have nailed the audition,” said Costanzo.

    paulo costanzo

    After Road Trip, Costanzo landed several acting roles in both film and television, including the TV series Joey and, most recently, Royal Pains. Having the opportunity to work on set for twenty years as an actor allowed Costanzo to watch and learn from directors on set. It was through that learning process and his long desire to direct that Costanzo would get the job to direct a few episodes of the USA hit show Royal Pains, in which he also plays Evan Lawson.

    Last week, while speaking to acting and filmmaking students at the New York Film Academy, Costanzo dissected several scenes of Royal Pains that he directed and explained the thought process that went behind each. Moderated by NYFA Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker and Acting Chair Glynis Rigsby, Costanzo spoke in depth about the mentality of being confident and prepared, whether it be for an audition or directing a film or TV show.

    royal pains nyfa

    NYFA Short-term Chair Jonathan Whittaker, Acting Chair Glynis Rigsby and Paulo Costanzo

    Costanzo says he can relate to our students in that he is currently in the process of transitioning to a career as a feature director, and so he feels like a beginner in the business. He’s in the middle of writing a dramatic comedy feature that he hopes to direct in the near future.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Costanzo for bringing us his refreshing sense of humor along with invaluable advice. We wish him the best of luck on developing his first feature film!

    December 15, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1504

  • NYFA Grad Shoots Award-Winning Feature on $12k Budget

    dutch killsAfter graduating from New York Film Academy in 2001, Liam Le Guillou returned home and began working at a major broadcasting station in the UK, ITV. While there he trained as camera and editor technician, building on his training from NYFA. Having reached some success at the station, producing his first 30-minute program after only 3 years, Le Guillou decided to set up his own company; Spike Productions. At Spike he produced a number of documentaries as well as some award-wining corporate and commercial content. But his love of narrative filmmaking was still burning and in 2011 he returned to New York to work on his first feature film, Dutch Kills, as Director of Photography/Producer and Editor.

    Dutch Kills was filmed on a nearly impossible $12,000 budget, with mostly a four person crew (two of which were the lead actors). Despite the small crew and budget, the film won Best Thriller Feature at the Manhattan Film Festival in 2014. Also, Dutch Kills is being distributed by Screen Media Films, and is available now on iTunes!

    Recently, we had a chance to ask the filmmaker and former NYFA student about Dutch Kills and his career since graduating.

    How did you get involved with Dutch Kills?

    I got involved with Dutch Kills when I met the Director, Joseph Mazzella, at a networking party in NYC. He told me he was starting the project but was still in need of a cinematographer. After I met with Joe and the two writers (who were also both the lead actors, Tama Filing and R.L. Mann), I realized they had a pretty decent script but they also needed some more help in getting the project off the ground. So I came onboard as DP, but also as a producer — particularly to help with the technical aspects of putting a film together. And when we found that the previously assigned editor was unable to commit enough time to project, I also came on as editor of the film.

    In your own words, what is this film about?

    Dutch Kills is about two close friends who get back together after some time in jail and are forced into doing “one last job” by a crooked cop. But for me it’s really a story about the nature of trust and friendship and how that can change over time.

    Was your NYFA education useful in terms of being able to produce / DP / edit a film like this?

    So I completed an 8-week intensive filmmaking course in 2001 at NYFA in New York. It was an amazing experience for a young Brit, who had never been to New York before. What I loved about the course was it was very practical. We took out 16mm cameras and shot our first shorts the very first weekend of the course. Those skills, and the experience, landed me a job in the technical crew as a trainee position for one of the major TV stations in the UK, ITV, where I continued my camera and editing training for the next few years.

    Liam Le Guillou with Director Joseph Mazzella

    Liam Le Guillou with Director Joseph Mazzella

    What advice would you give to other filmmakers working on such a tight budget?

    Dutch Kills was almost an impossible task of completing a film on just $25,000 (we finished shooting on just $12K). It’s obviously a really difficult job and there are loads of tips and tricks we used to make it happen, and I should probably write a book on it! But a few of the key things were to have a core team, (we had four of us) who were passionate about the film and also equal owners of the project. We each had unique and complimentary skills, which were crucial in pulling together all of the cast, crew, locations and equipment to make it happen. In fact, production went incredibly smoothly but we did underestimate the amount of work and effort post-production would take. I think if you have little to no money, you have to have someone in the team who is a good editor and has the time to take on the project. In our case, I took on the the edit with most of the other team members in the edit with me—this saved a huge cost. But the negative side to that is you don’t have fresh eyes on it, so we ran 4 or 5 test screenings with friends and family which gave us a new insight to the film, and actually lead us to shooting three new scenes, including a new end scene—almost 12 months after principle photography!

    Are you currently working on another project?

    Since we completed Dutch Kills, I’ve DP’ed a second feature film, Painless, which is currently in post and I’ve been working on a number of documentary and short form projects, including a really fun travel/fashion piece called Style Out There, for Refinery29. The series has had over 2 million views, which is really exciting. Have a look at the piece below!

    December 14, 2015 • Cinematography, Digital Editing, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1708

  • NYFA Seeds in Abu Dhabi Blossom at Dubai International Film Festival

    The New York Film Academy’s Emirati students have reached the highest number of films accepted into the prestigious Dubai International Film Festival 2015.

    More than 10 as crew members with 5 directors and actors had their 5 films into the official selection MUHR EMIRATI this year.

    All of them have completed their study at the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi and had the opportunity to learn in the most hands-on program in the world, with the great faculty coming from Los Angeles and New York carrying an international experience in the film industry.

    We encourage you all to attend and watch their films at the festival. The films’ briefs are below:

    ZINZANA – Feature film directed by Majid Al Ansari: Trapped in a prison cell (“Zinzana”) in a remote police station, a man named Talal is tortured by visions of his beloved ex-wife and son as he waits to hear his fate. When officer Daban from a neighboring town stops by, Talal watches as the friendly visit suddenly turns into a bloodbath. Being behind bars is now the least of Talal’s problems, as he is forced to play a madman’s game to save his family’s lives.

    ABDULLAH – Feature film directed by Humaid Al Suwaidi, Cast: Fatima AlTae: The film tells the story of an Emirati boy (Abdullah) who develops a fascination with music from an early age but struggles to hide that over the years from his very conservative family where many things are “haram.”


    GOING TO HEAVEN – Feature film directed by Saeed Salmeen: From Abu Dhabi to Fujairah, young Sultan sets off on an extraordinary journey as he seeks out his grandmother. Sultan, who has dreamt of the warmth of her love, is determined to reunite with an absent grandmother so that he can escape the bitterness of life. Accompanied by his friend, Sultan’s trip will unravel surprises and exuberant emotions.

    BESHKARA – Directed by Abdulrahman Al Madani, thesis film: telling a story of the caretaker of a cantankerous, dependent Emirati grandmother must return to the Philippines, once she finds out that her daughter is terminally ill. However, the grandmother refuses to let her travel because a deep reason we discover at the end of the film.

    THE MAN WHO MET THE ANGEL Directed by Tariq Al Kazim, Cast: Assem Kroma: Between reality and imagination, truth and lies, certainty and delusion, Daniel will have to prove to others that he has met an angel.

    We wish them best of luck in the competition, and hope you will have the opportunity to watching them all!

    December 10, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1594

  • NYFA Grad Sells First Feature and Signs with WME

    Can Evrenol graduated from New York Film Academy Los Angeles 8-week filmmaking workshop in the summer of 2006. It was in that program that Evrenol was able to put together his very first short film, which ended up winning a few prestigious awards in Istanbul, Turkey and other festivals in Europe. It was at that point that Evrenol knew he would be a career filmmaker.

    “I loved NYFA. It was very useful,” said Evrenol. “It was the only practical education I got before launching myself to produce and direct my own independent short films.”

    Now, almost ten years later, Evrenol wrote, shot and produced his first feature film, Baskin, and sold it to IFC Midnight (including a limited theatrical release). It is the first ever Turkish genre film to be released in the United States and one of only a handful of Turkish films ever to be released in the States.

    The film starts out as a normal night on patrol for five cops and ends up as Evrenol puts it, “Five cops go to Hell.”

    The Istanbul native continues to build on his success, having recently signed with powerhouse talent agency WME. Evrenol and his team are gearing up to shoot a second feature film.

    December 8, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1000

  • Creative Power Couple Piper Perabo and Stephen Kay Speak at NYFA

    This week, the New York Film Academy at Battery Park welcomed creative power couple, Piper Perabo and Stephen Kay. Their conversation with Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker was as authentic and inspirational as it gets. The only heated discrepancy amongst them was that Perabo is a Dallas Cowboys fan and Kay and Whittaker are Philadelphia Eagles fans. But all relationships require work, and work is indeed what the two of them have been doing in all aspects of the entertainment business for well over a decade now.

    stephen kay piper perabo

    Stephen Kay and Piper Perabo and NYFA

    Currently starring in Lost Girls on Broadway, the Golden Globe nominated actress Perabo is one of the most talented and versatile actresses working today. Her first big break came in the Jerry Bruckheimer produced film Coyote Ugly, where she played the leading role of Violet Sanford. In 2007, she was seen in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, in Because I Said So with Diane Keaton and Lauren Graham and in First Snow, a film directed by Mark Fergus, costarring Guy Pearce and Adam Scott. In May 2009, she made her stage debut in Neil Labute’s controversial play Reasons to Be Pretty directed by Terry Kinney. The list of credits goes on and on.

    One of Perabo’s biggest pet peeves is when an actor breaks character and stops acting before the director yells cut. She stresses to all actors, “Never stop until somebody says cut! Just keep going.”

    As for her husband Stephen Kay—who directed Get Carter, as well as episodes of the TV series Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, Friday Night Lights and many others—his start came about with his film The Last Time I Committed Suicide. As luck with have it, Kay was discussing his idea while playing hockey with Keanu Reeves. Reeves, who was playing goalie at the time, overheard the idea and immediately wanted to get involved. Through Reeves’ support and attachment to the project, Kay was able to get funding and springboard what would become a successful career in the business.

    piper and kay

    NYFA Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker with Stephen Kay and Piper Perabo

    Most recently, Kay has been the executive producer and director of ABC’s Quantico, USA’s Covert Affairs and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, for Lifetime Television. Along with his wife, he is currently working on The Flight, a television drama about conflict journalists, for Fremantle Television, Corona Pictures and Capa Drama.

    One of the many notable pieces of advice Kay had for our acting students was, “Every time you walk in the door to an audition, the person on the other side of the table wants you to be the right person.” Don’t go in the room thinking that they’re against you succeeding—be confident! Even if you’re not right for that specific part, if they like you, you may get the call for a project months later that’ll be your big break.

    We wish the talented and warmhearted couple the best of luck with all of their upcoming projects, and sincerely thank them for candidness and refreshing take on an arduous business.

    December 3, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1579

  • NYFA Grad’s ‘Get Happy’ Wins Best Comedy at Manhattan Film Festival

    A much deserved congratulations goes out to former New York Film Academy student Manoj Annadurai, whose romantic comedy Get Happy won Best Comedy at the 2015 Manhattan Film Festival. The film stars Chris Riggi (Gossip Girl), Adam LaVorgna (7th Heaven), Jordan Lane Price (All My Children), Rebecca Blumhagen (Other Plans) and Lauren Sweetser (Winter’s Bone). Also on the team is producer Sania Jhankar, as well as NYFA alumna Molly Calliste—who was an associate producer. The film was shot entirely in New York and was completed in just under a year.

    Get Happy is about a perpetually miserable man who finds happiness when he starts dating a manic pixie dream girl, to the befuddlement of his cynical best friend.

    This marks the first feature film from the Indian-born director Manoj Annadurai. As an innovative entrepreneur in India, Annadurai began his career as a successful technology maven before shifting gears to his true passion, filmmaking.

    “NYFA education is structured in such a way that says ‘Yes, you too can make a movie’,” said director Annaduarai. “The wonderful teachers who taught with so much passion, help you understand what it takes to make a great movie. That gave me the confidence to shoot Get Happy.”

    manoj

    Director Manoj Annadurai on set of “Get Happy”

    In Get Happy, Annadurai explores the idea of happiness. He says, “We live in an age where information is bursting at the seams, we have more access to theories on how to be happy than ever before,” and this is the driving force of the film. He adds, “The theories of happiness are represented by the relationship of two best friends. And when you take these ideas to the extreme, comedy comes into play!”

    “The film is a fun slice of life that is enjoyable, but also conveys a deeper message,” said producer Sania Jhankar.

    Get Happy will be playing at Cinema Village in New York City starting January 15th, 2016. For tickets and information, please CLICK HERE.

    December 3, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1047

  • NYFA Alum Ioanna Meli Makes Waves with “A Little Part of You”

    On November 23rd New York Film Academy Los Angeles students gathered to watch the award-winning short “A Little Part of You” by alumna Ioanna Meli. She and producer DJ Lopez shared their story of taking the thesis film to the festival circuit and ultimately a television premiere.

    Ioanna was raised in Athens, Greece. She studied theater arts in London and, after receiving an opportunity to work in film, decided to study acting directed towards film. She found herself here at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles enrolled in the 1 year acting conservatory, and subsequently the MFA program.

    ioanna nyfa

    For her thesis, Ioanna incorporated everything she learned from her classes and challenged herself by delving into her personal life to share a touching look at the tenacity of relationships with “A Little Part of You.” In the story, an actress receives the opportunity to star in a West End play, much to the chagrin of her lawyer boyfriend who’d be left behind in Los Angeles. “What I’d try to say with the story is to not be afraid to take a risk,” Ioanna notes. “Trusting that if it’s the right decision that the right people will be in your life no matter what.”

    Ioanna knew before making her film that she wanted to make something that could continue outside of the classroom. However, working as the writer, director, and star was a daunting task. She managed to make it happen with help from producer DJ Lopez. DJ advised the audience, “Take time in preproduction to get your ducks in a row, so the production runs smoothly.” That’s how DJ managed to acquire an actual airport for the culminating scene.

    Ioanna was also able to juggle her roles by having her co-director Jay Parupalli prep with her before shooting, so that she could concentrate on the role on set. With only 4 days to shoot, Ioanna and team took advantage of every ounce of opportunity. When they received their equipment in the evening, they shot at night instead of waiting for the day. This was how they were able to make both the 8-minute cut for the thesis guidelines, and a 20-minute version to send to film festivals.

    Meli and Lopez strongly encouraged the audience to do their research on festivals before submitting. It saves money and helps assess where your film is most likely to be chosen and even awarded. A Little Part of You received Best Short Film as well as Best Actress in a short film at New York City International Film Festival, Best Student Short at California International, and well received in Madrid and Ioanna’s hometown of Athens. “When you get the chance to bring a little bit of L.A. from where you come from, it’s really special,” she commented.

    ioanna nyfa

    At the HollyShorts Festival a TV executive took interest in the film, which is how A Little Part of You gained its television premiere on DirectTV Saturday, November 28th.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to seeing more from alumna Ioanna Meli and wish she and DJ Lopez great success in the future.

    November 30, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 749