• NYFA Grad Trip Loon’s “Foxy Dude” Voted Top 20 Most Awesome Music Video of 2014

    hammered satinRock ‘n’ roll is still alive and well, especially for New York Film Academy graduate Trip Loon. His most recent rock video for Hammered Satin, called “Foxy Dude,” has been acclaimed in publications like Rolling Stone and Yahoo, as it is considered one of the Top 20 Most Awesome Music Videos of 2014, along with artists like Ok Go, Basement Jaxx, Arcade Fire and Iggy Azalea. This week, we had a chance to talk to Trip about his video and his career as a budding filmmaker.

    How did you begin working with Hammered Satin? Was this an original idea of yours that you had to pitch or something you developed with the band?

    I’m actively involved in the rock ‘n’ roll scene. I have a rock ‘n’ roll nightlife blog called The Dead Notes where I report about the best new bands in the rock ‘n’ roll underground with a focus on bands who have influences from the rock ‘n’ roll of the 70’s. I came to meet Hammered Satin for the first time when they played The Bowery Electric back in 2010. Then when I moved to LA in 2011, I got in touch with them and did a story about them for my blog. Over the years they became my strongest allies in my activism to promote this kind of rock ‘n’ roll. It was through them that I was hyped as a videographer, blogger and a music entrepreneur/promoter; and all the other bands in LA and all over America were interested in getting in touch with me to be featured in the media I was producing.

    The idea was something I developed with the band. I wanted the video to have a lot of “zingers” (shock value/funny moments) but I was very conservative with my budget that I can only do a few. Noah, the singer of the band, really fought for a lot more zingers and pretty expensive ones too. At first my impulse was to manage his expectations and tell him I can’t. But I’m glad I didn’t because those extra zingers got me Top 20 Most Awesome Videos of 2014 in Rolling Stone.

    In your own words, what is the “Foxy Dude” video about?

    Initially, I asked the band which song they wanted to select and what they wanted to campaign about themselves. We both agreed that at this stage of the band’s career it’s important to campaign the band’s brand as opposed to the single itself. Once the public knows who Hammered Satin are as artists then we can move on to worrying about campaigning actual singles. After some discussion, we thought “Foxy Dude” was the most strategic song that showcases that.

    Hammered Satin is huge on 70’s glam rock and what 70’s glam rock stood for. They want to show the world that they are glamorous, chic, fun, party spirited, cultured, classy and larger than life. The video focused a lot on accomplishing all of those elements. We built a plot of the singer being auctioned off to women and finding love with his guitar player dressed in drag; and then they eventually start a family and have a baby (their bass player). I encourage the audience not to think too much about a “hidden theme.” This is a music video for entertainment and for evoking a sense of wanting to be cultured, high class, chic and fun. And if you saw the video and it got you excited on being that way—and it got you excited on Hammered Satin—then I did my job.

    Was your NYFA education useful in terms of being able to direct a video like this?

    Yes, absolutely. And not just for this video but for my craft as a filmmaker in general. I feel I should give huge shout outs to Paul Warner, John Loughlin, Claude Kerven, Jack Paglen, Stephen Miele, Mary Samuelson and Robert Dinozzi.

    trip loon

    Were you able to build a solid portfolio of work to showcase your talents?

    Right now, I have two feature screenplays and three TV shows developed enough that they’re already getting referrals around producers and agencies. I’ve directed three shorts and a number of music videos, TV commercial specs, and a full music web series of seven episodes (30 minutes each) that will be streamed on a major website.

    Are you currently working on another project?
    Yes, I’m working on a feature length rock ‘n’ roll documentary and more seasons of my music show, Goose Chase, which I have ambitions to eventually sell to broadcast as opposed to just the web. I’m also writing and developing more feature screenplays.


    Goose Chase

    What is your overall goal as a filmmaker?

    My goal is to be a youth culture director that portrays the youth culture with realism. I feel that a lot of content creators now portray the youth culture by pandering to parental control pressures, and a lot of producers want to distribute movies to conservative foreign markets in non-European territories—that there’s a very contrived “wholesome” quality in these movies that panders to the cultural sensitivities of those markets. And that doesn’t just go for youth culture movies, it goes to all movies in general.

    My favorite era of movies is The American New Wave era in the late 60’s and 70’s. It was the height of the counter culture and it was the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll. The music and movies from that era are what got me enamored with American culture. And it seems that magic is completely missing nowadays. I’m a rock ‘n’ roll maniac. I live it and breathe it. Most of my movies are autobiographical and, if they’re powerful enough, maybe life will imitate art. And maybe some kind of impact is going to happen to the culture because of it as well. Who knows?

    November 18, 2015 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 599

  • Disco Has Risen From the Grave: Mark Christopher Speaks with New York Film Academy on “54: Director’s Cut”

    On November 5th, 2015, New York Film Academy in Los Angeles students were delighted to watch the revamped Director’s Cut of 54, followed by a Q&A with writer/director Mark Christopher—discussing his great journey to completing his vision on the disco cult film—with producer Tova Laiter and NYFA Film Festival Advisor Matthew Ladensack.

    While attending film school, Mark Christopher made the short film Dead Boys Club, gaining lots of attention in the film festival circuit and even a theatrical distribution. With the success of Dead Boy’s Club and his subsequent short Alkali, Iowa, Christopher was able to gain a studio’s trust to direct his script about the iconic discotheque Studio 54. Therefore, his student films gave him a direct entree into making a studio feature.

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    Mark Christopher at New York Film Academy

    Focusing on a young New Jersey bartender and his fellow club workers, 54 encapsulated the hedonistic nightlife of 1979 New York, before the drug wars and AIDS epidemic of the 80’s. The story blended humor, tragedy, bisexuality, and rampant drug use–an earnest portrayal of the era’s zeitgeist. Starring Mike Meyers in his first dramatic role, and up and comer Ryan Phillipe, the movie was accumulating attention and set to be a hit.

    However, after seeing early cuts of the film, the studio decided to soften its depraved sexual vibe as they believed this would open the movie up to a wider audience. Removing 40 minutes of the original cut and reshooting another 30 minutes, the new version erased any note of homoeroticism, reinforcing the love scenes between Phillipe and Neve Campbell, and washed over the darker parts that gave the movie depth. The hollowed theatrical release was panned by critics at its release and considered a box office failure.

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    NYFA Film Festival Advisor Matthew Ladensack with Producer Tova Laiter and Mark Christopher

    “As a director you have to hold on to your vision,” Christopher told NYFA students. Which is why after 17 years he revisited 54 to recreate his original story. Unlike most director’s cuts, where a few new scenes are sprinkled here and there, Christopher ripped apart most of the theatrical version like moldy shag carpeting. He found the original footage via bootleg video cobbled together from VHS sources and eye matched it scene by scene, restoring the gritty look and tone of the film. Since it’s release, 54: The Director’s Cut has been praised all over the world, with original and new fans alike flocking to sold out shows.

    When asked what advice he had to share with the film students in the audience, Mark Christopher simply said, “Don’t be afraid.” Students thanked Mr. Christopher for being unafraid to revive Studio 54, a new favorite to many in the theater that night.

    54: The Director’s Cut is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.

    The New York Film Academy wishes the film and Mark Christopher much success!

    November 12, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 762

  • Former NYFA Student’s ‘Utopia’ Earns Afghanistan’s Entry for Academy Award

    chris robb

    Producer Chris Robb in Kabul

    Often times in filmmaking, producers and directors will “cheat” their location by recreating a scene on set or in a completely different country. With former New York Film Academy student Chris Robb’s co-production of Utopia, Robb and his team kept to the story’s authenticity. Together with his company, Tripswitch Productions, along with World Film Production, Afghan Films, and Nay Media, Robb and his team shot on location in Afghanistan, India and the U.K. As one of the many rewarding results of his efforts, the film Utopia, directed by Hassan Nazer, is Afghanistan’s official entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.

    “You can’t get anymore authentic than shooting Afghanistan for Afghanistan and having it present in the film with Afghans playing Afghan roles,” said Robb. “The heart of the film is in Afghanistan, so it made sense that Afghanistan was the heart of this production. We loved their commitment to drive their country forward post Taliban, and this film brings new ideas to their country. There was a real sense that a brighter future for Afghanistan lies ahead.”

    chris robb

    Robb admits, however, that he and his crew were forced to be vigilant in Afghanistan. “You are aware that danger could come from any direction at any time,” said Robb. “We had a team of armed security to protect the crew at all times, which caused its own set of problems, keeping them out of the line of sight, but it was a necessary. The problem is: who is Taliban and who is not? The only difference is one has a gun hidden from sight. They don’t like cameras over there, so we had to hide the camera from sight as much as possible and be creative with that.”

    The film includes three intersecting stories of loneliness and isolation that center around Janan, a woman from Afghanistan who travels to the UK for artificial insemination. Complications arise when William, a medical sciences student working at the clinic, switches the donors semen for his own.

    “Making Utopia was a blessing for me,” says director Hassan Nazer. “I’m an immigrant myself, and what is an immigrant? It’s someone who has made a huge and decisive leap in their life and is now living in a different part of the planet. A new life, within some new kind of cultural rules and that’s what the heroine of our film, Janan, has done. She has taken an enormous decision on the cusp of her middle age. A decision that has a huge impact on the other two main characters’ journeys through life. You wouldn’t be able to find so many scripts these days looking this hopeful at Afghanistan’s future, so when I read it the first time, I knew I was going to direct this film.”

    If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can attend a screening of Utopia on November 1st at 7pm at IPIC Theatre—Westwood, 10840 Wilshire Blvd. Following the screening there will be a Q&A with Robb and some of the other producers and cast from the film. From there, we hope to see the film at the 2016 Academy Awards!

    October 30, 2015 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1030

  • NYFA Graduate Anthony O’Brien Talks Life After Film School

    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles was recently reunited with alumnus Anthony O’Brien to review his career since graduating in 2006. Students delighted in Anthony’s candid discussion of making a career in filmmaking after film school.

    Growing up on a small island in Washington, O’Brien did not dream of being a director. An actor at heart, he went to a performing arts school but eventually dropped out and moved to Los Angeles. There he enrolled in the One-Year Filmmaking program at NYFA to round out his knowledge of acting.

    anthony o'brien

    NYFA grad Anthony O’Brien

    Anthony fell in love with working behind-the-scenes and focused his sights on making it a career. He met fellow NYFA student Jon Chappell, who become his producing partner. He encouraged the students in the audience to start making similar contacts and collaborations. “Be honest about what you contribute. Surround yourself with people who are good at what you are not. The person who’s going to get you money is sitting right next to you.”

    Interviewed by Dean of Students (and Anthony’s first semester instructor) Eric Conner, Anthony discussed how he was passionate (and organized) enough to wear the hats as director and actor even during his earliest films at NYFA.

    Rather than shooting a short film for his thesis, he created a slick teaser trailer to promote his feature length script. Six days after graduating, O’Brien raised half a million dollars with his trailer and set out to make his first feature film.

    Anthony O'Brien and Dean of Students Eric Conner

    Anthony O’Brien and Dean of Students Eric Conner

    Anthony wrote, directed, and starred in the feature film Perfect Sport (co-starring NYFA Alum Jessica Rose). Making the movie was a difficult and humbling experience, he recalled. Despite the film’s success in the festival circuit, Anthony came home to no offers or next opportunities, and spent months unemployed.

    During this time, O’Brien continued working on any film set he could and began to develop the script for his next project. With animatics to present, and an experienced crewman like Director of Photography Phil Parmet, he successfully pitched to a private financier and gained funding for the western The Timber, starring Josh Peck (Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh). The production shot in Romania for three months during one of the country’s worst winters in the past century. The Timber was recently released by Well Go USA Entertainment on all digital and home video platforms.

    When it came to discussing how to make a successful film career, Anthony did not want to offer students “empty true advice” like passion and enthusiasm are enough to see you through. “A director is one-part car salesman and one-part motivational speaker,” he explained. “To make an independent film you need to be courageous enough to find investors, be humble enough to acknowledge your crew knows more than you, and flexible enough to revise the story when needed.”

    We look forward to seeing Anthony O’Brien’s next film Doubting Thomas, and wish him continued success.

    October 28, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1363

  • “Thor,” “Kong,” and “Alien: Paradise Lost” to Film at Village Roadshow Studios in Australia

    One of the immediate and most obvious benefits of having a film school inside the confines of a movie studio is the unprecedented access to the movie industry and the behind-the-scenes exposure to major motion pictures. Similar to our Los Angeles campus, which offers workshops on the Universal Studios backlot, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast Australia location offers programs on the backlot of Village Roadshow Studios adjacent to Warner Bros Movie World in Queensland, Australia.

    Given its resources and state-of-the art studio space, the Queensland studio will be the filming location of three upcoming major motion pictures, including the third installment of Thor, Kong: Skill Island, and Alien: Paradise Lost.

    nyfa australia

    Village Roadshow Studios


    “Queensland offers an amazing and diverse backdrop for Thor: Ragnarok and we are very excited to bring this film to such an incredible locale,” said Louis D’Esposito, Co-President of Marvel Studios.

    This has become a serious location option for many studio films, with Queensland’s Village Roadshow Studios already having been the location for the Scooby Doo films, House of Wax, Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Daybreakers, and Fools Gold amongst many others. Just this past year we saw NYFA Australia Gold Coast Chair of Acting, Brad McMurray and One-Year Acting Grad, Nick Allen-Ducat in San Andreas—starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Paul Giamatti—which also filmed in Queensland.

    “As our economy diversifies, Queensland is demonstrating its strength as a lead destination for filmmakers both internationally and locally, and my government is doing what it can to ensure that Queensland remains a global hub for the screen sector,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

    nyfa gold coast students

    As is the goal with all of NYFA’s programs, the Gold Coast location offers a real world filmmaking experience in a truly hands-on curriculum. There are several course offerings available, including our hands-on intensive Two-Year FilmmakingOne-Year Filmmaking, Two-Year Acting for Film and One-Year Acting for Film programs as well as short-term and evening workshops.

    For more information about NYFA’s Gold Coast campus, please visit:

  • Screenwriter Max Landis: A Thrilling New Voice in Hollywood

    Max Landis is the most energetic, talkative, and downright hilarious screenwriter you’ll ever meet. The man breathes movie concepts and characterizations. Listening to him talk is an inspiring, enlightening, laugh out loud funny, and at times confounding (in a good way) experience.

    New York Film Academy students gathered in NYFA’s Los Angeles theater to watch Chronicle, written by Max Landis, and participate in a Q&A with one of the most original voices in movies and TV. Producer Tova Laiter and NYFA Screenwriting instructor David O’Leary moderated the discussion.

    max landis

    Max Landis at New York Film Academy Los Angeles (photo by Enrico De Conti)

    Featured as one of Forbes 30 under 30 two consecutive years, Max Landis is an outspoken rising star in the screenwriting world. Landis’ first produced feature, Chronicle, startled at the box office and led to more sales. He currently has several projects in different stages of post-production: Victor Frankenstein, starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy and directed by Paul McGuigan; the feature film he wrote and directed, Me Him Her, starring Haley Joel Osment, and featuring Geena Davis and Scott Bakula, which premiered at the Seattle Film Festival; the action comedy, American Ultra, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart; and Mr. Right, starring Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

    Landis is currently in the process of cracking into the television world, having sold two pilots, as well as moving into more directing and producing. He recently sold Dirk Gently, based on the Douglas Adams graphic novel, to BBC America. As a producer he set up Channel Zero, a horror anthology with Nick Antosca writing, at the Syfy Channel.

    Landis has found success both inside and outside of the studio system, and has had a rare amount of tremendous success with original ideas. Barring Victor Frankenstein, which is a complete reinvention that he brought to the studio rather than an assignment he won, all of Landis’ produced films are original ideas.

    The number one thing you take away from meeting Max Landis is the importance of persistence and being prolific in your work. Max has sold 23 screenplays. He had penned a feature script the week before his Q&A with NYFA in just THREE days. If Max wasn’t always writing, he says he’d be depressed. Writer’s block is something that he just doesn’t understand. He has multiple ideas for movies a day. There aren’t enough hours in a day for him to get all his ideas on paper. If you consider yourself a writer, Max says it’s your job to push yourself to this type of creative fluency—if it doesn’t already come to you naturally. You are only a writer if you WRITE.

    Max Landis detailed a reality of the movie industry that many are not aware of—”spec scripts are dead”—at least in the sense that studios, big and independent, aren’t really buying them anymore. Studios are almost exclusively purchasing branded content or intellectual property. “All this changed,” said Max, “when Pirates of the Caribbean made a billion dollars.” He asked a student, “What does the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland have to do with the movie?” When the student replied with, “Nothing,” Max said, “Wrong! They have the same name!” Spec scripts are being bought and made by private financiers, and the films are being distributed on alternative platforms like Netflix. Landis relayed this information not to discourage students, but for them to better plan their career route. Opportunities, and even better ones, remain, but in a different arena now.

    We sincerely thank Max Landis for bringing his brilliance and enthusiasm to the halls of NYFA and look forward to his next cutting edge film in theaters!

    October 26, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 961

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Student Awarded at SICFF for “Ice Flower”


    His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Kassimi, member of the Supreme Council and the governor of sharjah, awarded New York Film Academy student Shirin Abu Ouf for her documentary Ice Flower, during the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival 2015. The festival, which began on October 21st in the United Arab Emirates, focuses on educating children and youth on the value of cinema, while nurturing their creative impulses and talents for filmmaking. SICFF showcased 78 films from 32 countries, including films from UAE, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Far East.

    Ice Flower was Shirin’s final film of her One Year Filmmaking program at NYFA Abu Dhabi. After completing her first year in Abu Dhabi, Shirin moved to NYFA Los Angeles campus to continue her studies in the Bachelor of Fine Art in Filmmaking degree program.

  • NYFA Sydney Grad Wins Best Film at Willoughby Shorts Film Festival

    Angus Young is making a name for himself in Australia and no, it’s not as a lead guitarist for AC/DC. The New York Film Academy Sydney graduate recently won Best Overall Film at the Willoughby Shorts Film Festival for his film The Lemonade Theory. Young teamed up with fellow graduate Ethan Thomas, who was the film’s director of photography on the five day shoot.

    The short begins with Young Mother Sophia (Kelly Robinson), who wakes up to what she expects to be a normal day, but quickly spirals out of control. Much to her alarm, there is a strange man (Peter McAllum) in the house with her and no matter where she looks, Sophia can’t find her daughter.

    angus young

    Told from the first point of view perspective, the film is essentially a ‘monster in the house’ thriller about a woman and an evil housekeeper who drugs her and steals her children. When you watch the film for a second time, having known the ending, Lemonade Theory is about the housekeeper sustaining love in the face of adversity.

    Lemonade Theory came about through a story my father told me about his grandfather,” said Young. “His father was a sufferer of dementia and believed that he was living in 1930. It’s a jilting paradox to think that someone can believe that, so I explored the idea a little deeper and wrote the story to work as a love story.”

    At the moment, Young is producing and directing a few projects. One project is an animated series called Elliot, which is working on again with his very close collaborator, Ethan Thomas. He’s also working on another animated series for YouTube and a very adventurous feature film, which is set to shoot around December 2016.

    “In comparison to other film schools, which rely heavily on government mandated literacy and theoretical work, the New York Film Academy approach of practical immersion proved to teach me more in that short amount of time than my friends at competing institutions,” said Young. “After a year, and producing eight films—three of which have won several awards—I think NYFA has a thing or two to say about the teaching methods that really work.”

    Young says he’d like to see himself constantly evolve, finding new and innovative ways to push the threshold of entertainment.

    October 22, 2015 • Entertainment Australia, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 596

  • Filmmaking Grad Sean Robinson’s “Indigo Grey: The Passage” Features Hammerstep and Soundtrack by Amy Lee

    In addition to the New York Film Academy’s intensive curriculum, which provides artists the opportunity to explore their craft in a hands-on environment, students are strongly encouraged to network both inside and outside of their programs. One of our filmmaking graduates, Sean Robinson, was introduced to the popular, modern Irish step-dance team Hammerstep through NYFA Musical Theatre alumnus Conor McIntyre. Following the introduction, the Brooklyn based award-winning director was hired to direct and edit a film—with cinematography from NYFA grad Esteban Robles—to promote their dance troupe. After Robinson had the trailer ready to go, it caught the eye of Amy Lee, the famous lead singer of Evanescence. She was so impressed with the film that she came on board to compose the original score, along with Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer.

    “Amy’s involvement is what really catapulted the project, lending its visibility in mainstream platforms,” said Robinson.

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    Sean Robinson at the LA Shorts Film Festival

    The completed short, Indigo Grey: The Passage is a seven-minute audio-visual experience that premiered at the 2015 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival and has so far been officially selected to screen at 19 International film festivals and has won 4 awards, including best original score. The film has already garnered praise from publications like ABC and the Huffington Post.

    “Whisking you away with its sweeping cinematography, the film was well edited, elegantly directed, and hypnotically choreographed to a riveting soundtrack. Indigo Grey: The Passage is a truly one-of-a-kind project that merges the worlds of film, dance, sci-fi, art and music. With its lack of dialogue, the young Lok’s budding acting performance is extremely impactful as he relies solely on his emotional expression and movement to carry the narrative. A lavish feast of sensory stimulation, this short film has successfully captured the attention of its viewers by transporting them to another dimension and most impressively, all within its humble seven minutes.” — Huffington Post

    Robinson is now working on developing Indigo Grey: The Passage into a feature, in collaboration with Jason Oremus and Garrett Coleman.

    “My filmmaking knowledge derives from training and working with instructors at NYFA—namely Paul Warner, who is my biggest mentor,” said Robinson. “It sounds cliche, but NYFA has definitely changed my life.”

    Additionally, Robinson is in the middle of editing a third feature, The Independents, with cinematography by NYFA Cinematography Instructor Piero Basso and line-produced by NYFA Producing Instructor Dorottya Mathe.

    As you may be able to tell, Robinson’s NYFA roots go deep and his networking has paid off ten fold.

    October 21, 2015 • Filmmaking, Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1049

  • Former NYFA Student to Screen “Historic Jeddah” at International Film Festival Manhattan


    NYFA alumna Jameelah Rose Lineses

    We’re proud to announce that one of our former students, Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses will be screening her documentary short film Historic Jeddah at the International Film Festival Manhattan 2015 in New York City. Jameelah attended both the One Year Filmmaking Conservatory Program and the Eight-week Filmmaking Workshop at the New York Film Academy. Her documentary, Historic Jeddah is the one and only film coming from Saudi Arabia that is included in this year’s official selections. The film festival will run from October 22nd to the 25th. Jameelah’s film will be screened at the Producers Club (358 West 44th Street New York, NY 10036) on Saturday, October 24, 2015 from 5:50pm-8:10pm.

    Jameelah’s selection has already garnered her some notable press, including features in the Saudi Gazette and Arab News—the two leading English newspapers in Saudi Arabia—as well as Malayalam News, a sister newspaper of Arab News.

    Before her upcoming screening this Saturday, Jameelah was gracious enough to answer some questions about her documentary and her future in filmmaking.

    Can you tell us what this documentary is about?

    Historic Jeddah is a multi-part documentary short film that showcases some of Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage such as the Dondurma, Rawashin, Rubat, and more. A multi-part documentary film that will surely give the audience a detailed insight of Saudi Arabia’s Historic Jeddah – A World Heritage Site. A film that will represent one of Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural history.

    What do you hope to achieve with this documentary?

    Without a doubt, Saudi Arabia is the world’s most conservative country. It is also a country that doesn’t offer tourist visas. Therefore, only a handful of people know what it really feels like to be in Saudi Arabia and the things that it has to offer to the world aside from petroleum/gas and oil.

With the help of this multi-part documentary film, people will get to see a different side of Saudi Arabia, and that is its cultural heritage. It will give the audience a new perspective of the whole country and its citizens, especially to those who have never been to the country.

    I believe that this documentary film will contribute to Saudi Arabia’s tourism in the near future. This country has so much to offer but it is not widely known to the rest of the world.

    Why did you choose Old Jeddah as your setting?

    I was browsing through Facebook and I saw this group called Arabian Jewel. They are organizing a tour to Old Balad because there was an ongoing festival. It was held earlier this year on January 2015. I was intrigued by it. I discussed it with my mother and we ended up going on the tour. My mother was my inspiration when I made the film. In fact, she was the one who told me that I should film the tour and bring a spare camera with me. She told me that I could turn it into a film someday, which I actually ended up doing. This film is entirely shot using a camera-phone (Samsung Note 3 and iPhone 5s) and a digital compact/point and shoot camera (Nikon Coolpix).

    What initially made you pursue a career in filmmaking? How did you start?

    I have always loved watching movies and TV series since I was very young. As I grew older, I began to critique various films. Gradually, my interest in watching films evolved into something more in depth, and that is to study the art of filmmaking. Since I was in 5th grade of elementary school, I have dreamed of becoming a successful film director. Until the day I graduated from high school, my ambition did not change.

    My greatest influence on wanting to pursue a degree in the motion picture of arts is the East Asian cinema, with great focus on South Korean and Japanese television series and music videos.

    I am a huge fan of Brett Ratner’s Rush Hour movies starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Jackie Chan is one of my all time favorite action stars alongside Jet Li. It has been one of my dreams to be able to work with them on a project. I have watched almost all of their films. I also love the Harry Potter movies.


    Would you say your studies at NYFA were useful in terms of making Historic Jeddah?

    Yes, of course! I still remember during my studies in the filmmaking conservatory program, we had documentary elective classes from our directing instructor, Tassos Rigopoulos. Although it was just an elective, I was always present in that class. I am glad that we had documentary elective classes in NYFA. I have learned so much in a short period of time.

    At the New York Film Academy, we write, direct, edit, produce and shoot our own films. I was able to apply the skills I learned from NYFA in making Historic Jeddah because it is a film I shot, directed, edited and produced by myself. I have also applied those skills on my other projects here in Jeddah since almost all of it are a “one-woman show.”

    Would you recommend NYFA to other students interested in pursuing the arts?

    Absolutely! I have been promoting NYFA in my own way ever since it became my dream school back in 2008 (I was an incoming 2nd year high school student during that time) and even before NYFA had information sessions in Saudi Arabia. I can safely say that I was one of the first few people, if not the first, to ever inquire about filmmaking programs at NYFA, back in 2008. Also, I still wear my NYFA gear often (caps, t-shirts, bags, summer/winter jacket and hoodies). This is one of the ways I promote the school in Jeddah. In fact, recommending NYFA has already become a habit of mine after I graduated and became an alumni.

    I highly recommend the New York Film Academy for anyone interested in pursuing the arts, especially for aspiring filmmakers and actors/actresses. I believe that NYFA was the best place for me to hone my skills in filmmaking and learn many more things that can contribute to my career someday. And based on my experience studying there, I can say it is worth it. Not only the instructors teach us how to operate different kinds of cameras (from film to digital), they also teach as the etiquette in working in the industry. Before I forget to mention, our instructors also taught us all the roles and functions of other crew positions, as well.

    I believe that NYFA has excellent faculty members because they make sure their students do not fall behind classes. They are also very knowledgeable and experienced. In addition to that, the counselors and NYFA staff are very attentive to the needs of the students.


    What is your goal as a filmmaker?

    My goal is to become a prominent figure in the motion picture of arts. I hope to become a multi-award-winning, multi-lingual, and world-renowned filmmaker in the future. I wish to win an Oscar for Best Director and for my film to win as well. I would also like to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the youngest director of my generation—if there’s such an award. I became a filmmaker at the age of 18 — the youngest of my class during the Eight-week filmmaking program at NYFA.

    Given the chance, I would like to become a pioneer in educating young and aspiring filmmakers here without breaking the code of conduct of Saudi Arabia. At the moment, there are only a handful of filmmakers from Saudi Arabia, especially female filmmakers like me.

    Are you currently working on anything else?

    Yes, I am currently working on 3 documentary films. One of the films is about the Expats of Jeddah. This is actually a continuation of my semester film during my filmmaking conservatory studies at NYFA. For this film, I interviewed additional people of different nationalities. The film will be about their lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — from their first impressions, things they like/dislike about the country, culture differences, advices to incoming expats, etc.

    We wish the best of luck to this very ambitious filmmaker, especially on her upcoming festival screening. For tickets to the screening of Historic Jeddah, please CLICK HERE

    October 19, 2015 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1225