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  • 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.

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    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.

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    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: 1492

  • 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: 1259

  • 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: 1872

  • 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: 1375

  • 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: 2378

  • NYFA Grad Kalpana Malviya’s “Made in America” to Air on Zee TV

    Kalpana Malviya is a New York Film Academy graduate who’s been blazing a trail in new television programing. Her new show, “Made in America,” is the first English language reality TV program designed for South East Asians to be shot in Hollywood. But she’s not content in just creating new programing, she’s also determined to bring the next generation of content makers with her.

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    “Somebody helped me. I’m not too big to help anybody,” Malviya told me under a shady tree just outside of the studio where “Made in America” was shooting a dramatic prison scene. Malviya’s passion is earnest and forthright, “(students) have fresh ideas. We can learn from them and also guide them along the way.”

    Malviya credits the New York Film Academy with giving her a leg up in the industry, “I’m from India. Hollywood films really pop in India. I took what I learned at NYFA and landed a job with Zee TV.” While at Zee TV, she noticed the abundance of talent and resources and wondered why no one, anywhere outside of South East Asia, was making content for the region. She sought to change that, “I pitched them the idea. They loved it and now, here we are.”

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    New York Film Academy would like to thank Kalpana Malviya for taking the time to speak with us. Malviya has created two more shows for Zee TV that will begin filming shortly. “Made in America” airs in early 2017.

    November 2, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2316

  • NYFA Instructor’s “Porgies & Bass” Wins Best Short at Coney Island Film Festival

    porgies and bassNew York Film Academy Filmmaking instructor Thomas Barnes’ latest short film, “Porgies & Bass,” recently won Best Short Film at the Coney Island Film Festival and will be screening at the Big Apple Film Festival, which will take place at the Village East Cinema in Manhattan on Friday, November 4th at 8:30pm.

    The film was co produced by NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo, and the crew featured numerous NYFA alumni and teacher’s assistants.

    The story surrounds Ben, a native fisherman on Long Island, New York, fishing for the prized large striped bass. Meanwhile, Jorge, a Latino immigrant catches porgies, a more common and smaller size fish. What starts out as a beautiful day on the beach turns into a skirmish over territory, and finally erupts in an unforgettable manner.

    We had a chance to speak with the director and NYFA instructor, Thomas Barnes, before his upcoming screening at the Big Apple Film Festival.

    What are some of the themes we can take from your film?

    With all the talk of building walls to keep people out and fears of outsiders stoked by politicians, this film explores social and racial tensions via a tense fishing story. Hopefully, the film transcends political sloganeering to get to a more complex view of people and their struggles to coexist.

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    Thomas Barnes directing his actor on the set of “Porgies and Bass.”

    How did this film come about? 

    The story was devised after several years of fishing on beaches in Long Island, meeting men like the characters in the story, and imagining what would happen in a tense conflict between them. With script in hand in summer 2015, I invited NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo to come on board as he is an experienced Long Island producer where the film was to be shot.

    I raised the money for production privately and then successfully crowd-sourced the funds for post production via Indiegogo.

    What was the most challenging aspect of the production?

    The changing weather, tides, ocean conditions and light were all challenges. Shooting totally out of sequence and keeping on top of continuity was a headache.

    Also, working in the water with actors, props and camera made for some very tricky set-ups.

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    Can you tell me the students and alumni involved with the production? 

    Co- Producer Richard D’Angelo helped to hire the following alumni:

    • Production Designer: Roxy Martinez
    • Associate Producer: Jolene Mendes
    • Assistant Director: Attapol Worrawuttaweekul
    • Production Coordinator: Francesca Morello
    • Key Grip: Mateo Salcedo Cancino
    • Gaffer: Miguel Garzon Martinez
    • Editor: Ross Vedder – works with NYFA Editing Dept. I met him through NYFA instructor Lanre Olabisi.

    What do you hope to achieve with this film and its screening at the Big Apple Film Festival?

    It’s a competitive awards festival, so I hope to earn the votes of our supporters in the audience!

    Are there any other screenings or festivals coming up where we can see the film?

    To be confirmed. It just screened at Woodstock Film Festival last week.

    November 1, 2016 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1223

  • Rose McGowan Talks Directing and Gender Inequality

    This Wednesday, the New York Film Academy welcomed “charming” actress and director Rose McGowan to its New York campus. Following the screening of her short film, “Dawn,” McGowan spoke candidly with NYFA Acting for Film Chair, Glynis Rigsby, as well as NYFA’s Short-term Filmmaking Chair, Jonathan Whittaker.

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    After literally being discovered on a street corner, McGowan made her film debut in the 1992 Pauly Shore comedy “Encino Man,” where she played a small role. Her performance as Amy Blue in the 1995 dark comedy film “The Doom Generation” brought her wider attention, and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. McGowan then appeared in the 1996 hit horror film “Scream” and starred alongside Ben Affleck in the 1997 coming-of-age feature “Going All the Way.”

    Later, she appeared in several Hollywood films, including “Devil in the Flesh” (1998), “Jawbreaker” (1999), “Ready to Rumble” (2000), “Monkeybone” (2001) and “The Black Dahlia” (2006). In 2005, McGowan played Ann-Margret alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Elvis Presley in the CBS miniseries “Elvis.” In 2007, she starred in “Planet Terror,” part of the double-feature film directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, “Grindhouse.” The following year, she starred in the crime thriller film, “Fifty Dead Men Walking.”

    Since the age of five, McGowan has had a fondness for classic cinema. Realizing that her true passion lies in filmmaking, McGowan decided to pursue the craft of directing. “There were no directors that looked like me,” said McGowan. “The gypsy experience of [directing film] was appealing to me.”

    Her directorial debut short, “Dawn,” made its critically acclaimed world premiere at Sundance Film Festival. The film is a disturbing tale of a young girl’s budding sexuality and one’s desire to experience the unknown. Dawn, played by Tara Barr, is a quiet young teenager living in Kennedy-era America who longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life. When she strikes up an innocent flirtation with the boy who works at her local gas station (Reiley McClendon), she thinks that he is perhaps the answer to her teenage dreams. Though when she invites the boy and his friends into her otherwise cloistered world, she gets a lot more than she bargained for.

    “I definitely gained a sense of confidence as a director,” she said. “I learned I was wearing the pants that fit me for the first time.”

    McGowan says the film was partially inspired by the classic Robert Mitchum film, “The Night of the Hunter” while some of the aesthetics of her 1950’s period piece was influenced by the original 1960’s Disney film, “The Parent Trap.”

    rose mcgowan

    “A lot of filmmaking is to make the least amount of mistakes as possible,” said McGowan to room full of acting and filmmaking students. “A painter gives thought to each stroke, so why not you.”

    McGowan stressed the importance of actors and filmmakers to know and be confident in their worth.

    She warned young actors venturing into the field to be wary of being controlled by those in higher positions and encouraged those who are oppressed to speak out.

    She’s also incredibly devoted to empowering women in film and television, stressing the overall gender inequality in film.

    McGowan has many projects in the works, including a feature and a pilot for Amazon Studios. She’s also expressed interest in directing a “Dawn 2.0,” which she says will be shot using VR filmmaking.

    October 28, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2778

  • NYFA Australia GC Grad’s Music Video Featured on MTV

    Damian Lang is a graduate of the New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast. His digital dialogue, “Diamond In The Rough,” has just come off its festival run, screening at four festivals and winning Best Student Short at the Colorado International Film Festival. Damian’s music video production for Gold Coast based DJ duo “Bombs Away” is also currently featured on MTV.

    Damian Lang

    Damian says that NYFA helped prepare him for the real world of the industry through its hands-on approach. “As a filmmaking student, we were constantly creating and learning while performing multiple roles in a film-like environment,” he explains.

    Currently working as a Locations Production Assistant on the latest Marvel feature shooting at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, Australia, Damian is also in post production for his latest music video produced for New Zealand rock-band “Mi-Sex,” as well as for his latest short-film entitled “The First Step.”

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    His advice to aspiring filmmakers is that “no one gets a free ride, the choices you make will define you.”

    Check out Damian’s work on the latest music video for “Bombs Away” on MTV Australia’s website, by clicking here

    October 26, 2016 • Entertainment Australia, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1459

  • Guest Lecture from Director Bruce Bilson

    On Thursday, October 13th prolific director Bruce Bilson brought more than just a lecture to the BFA Filmmaking students on the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, he brought the history of Hollywood with him. Mr. Bilson took over David Newman’s class for the day and spoke with the students about the “nuts and bolts” of directing.

    bruce bilson

    Bilson’s notable credits include: The Flash (1994), Hogan’s Heroes, The Love Boat, The Six Million Dollar Man, Sanford and Son, Mary Tyler Moore, Get Smart, The Patty Duke Show, Bewitched, Dynasty, The Fall Guy, and Dinosaurs; to name just a few.

    Bilson recounted the tale of filming The Andy Griffith Show title sequence. A six-year-old Opi, played by Ron Howard, would stroll in next to Griffith. They hit their mark as they walked down the dirt road, but when Howard had to throw the rock he couldn’t quite make the lake. After several failed attempts, Bilson decided to have the prop guy sit behind a bolder and throw the rock. Bilson said if you watch the opening the timing of the rock hitting the water is visibly off. But, that’s the only tell.

    bruce bilson

    Bilson had some advice for the students. “Learn as much as you can about anything that interests you.” He credits his two years in the Air Force helped him direct an episode of Pensicola. “Nothing’s wasted,” he continued, “Lessons will come back to you.” He expanded by saying he hated taking the class that was most helpful to him, playwriting. Even though he never became a writer, being able to understand what made great storytelling was indispensable.

    His final bit of advice was to, “Research your project.” The obvious job is to watch the show and knowing the stats on the most popular episodes. “Do the show you were hired to do.” Perhaps not so obvious is to know who all of the people involved in the show from the Executive Producer to the Office Production Assistant. Bilson encouraged his students to “Get to know the secretary. They control everything.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Bilson for taking the time to come speak with our students. You can continue to watch Mr. Bilson’s work in syndication everywhere.

    October 25, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1495