• Producer Mohammed Al Turki Visits NYFA and Brings Special Surprise Guest Michelle Rodriguez


    (from left to right) actress Michelle Rodriguez, producer Mohammed Al Turki, director Nicholas Jarecki and co-star Nate Parker

    Last night, Thursday, January 29th, students gathered in the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Theater to view a screening of the financial thriller Arbitrage (Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Time Roth), for which its star Richard Gere was nominated for a Golden Globe, and participate in a Q&A with film’s executive producer Mohammed Al Turki. Making impressive moves in the very competitive Hollywood scene, Mohammed Al Turki is quickly cementing himself as an ambitious producer, actor and philanthropist in the industry. Born in Saudi Arabia and educated in London, Al Turki’s call to film caused him to move to Hollywood and launch his career from there. His executive producing credits also include What Maisie Knew (Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Steve Coogan), Adult World (Emma Roberts, Evan Peters, John Cusack), and At Any Price (Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens). His newest film, Desert Dancer, that follows an Iranian dancer who risks everything to start a dance company amidst his home country’s politically volatile climate and the nation’s ban on dancing, is set to release on April 10th. The Q&A was moderated by producer and NYFA instructor Saga Elmotaseb.

    michelle Rodriguez

    The event was advertised as a Q&A with Mr. Al Turki alone, however, to the audience’s surprise Mohammed brought a couple of friends with him. Added first to the Q&A panel was Arbitrage‘s director Nicholas Jarecki and co-star Nate Parker. Nicholas Jarecki, a prodigy who graduated college at age 19, is a director, producer, and writer best known for directing the film The Informers and documentaries The Outsider and Tyson, in addition to Arbitrage. Nate Parker is an actor and musical performer who has appeared in Beyond the LightsRed TailsThe Secret Life of BeesThe Great Debaters, and Pride. Mr. Jarecki announced that he is a New York Film Academy alumnus himself, having attended a filmmaking workshop as a young man at the Princeton campus. Nicholas raised his fist in the air and yelled “Go NYFA!” as the students applauded and cheered.

    But the surprises didn’t stop there. Shortly before the Q&A Mohammed Al Turki notified NYFA that he was bringing yet another special guest with him but wanted to keep their identity a surprise for everyone. Moments before stepping on stage NYFA was notified and the announcement was made during the Q&A panel’s introduction that the secret guest was, in fact, actress Michelle Rodriguez! Known mostly for playing tough-girl roles in Hollywood blockbusters, Michelle Rodriguez, has starred in Resident EvilS.W.A.T., and the Fast & Furious series, of which the latest installment, Furious 7, will be release on April 3rd. A trailer for Furious 7 is set to air during the Super Bowl.

    What followed was an all-star panel of artists who engaged in exciting discussion on filmmaking from every angle. After all there was a Hollywood mogul, genius director, and two A-list actors on stage. Mohammed Al Turki proved to be a man of many resources, much generosity, and alot of surprises! Like his films he seeks to satisfy, and then some. There’s no doubt that Mohammed Al Turki is the man to watch as he continues his mission of producing meaningful and relevant stories in Hollywood.

    nyfa abitrage

    February 2, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1066

  • Music Video Students Visit Rolling Stone HQ

    rolling stone

    For many decades, Rolling Stone Magazine has been a leading force in music and entertainment culture. Its ability to catapult an artist’s career is quite remarkable. The same could be said for the music video and its ability to launch the careers of so many talented directors. In fact, a slew of today’s top film directors like David Fincher, Spike Jonze and Brett Ratner began their careers by making music videos. In the New York Film Academy’s Rolling Stone Music Video Workshop, we provide that very same training ground.

    rolling stone

    This week, our music video students had the privilege of visiting the world famous headquarters of Rolling Stone Magazine in New York City. As part of the tour students had an opportunity to gawk at the Hallway of Covers, which displays every Rolling Stone cover since its inception in 1967. As you can imagine, our music video students were in awe of the massive display. Our hope is that it was also inspiring for the young artists. You never know, perhaps their face could be on the cover someday.

    rolling stone mag

    January 30, 2015 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 588

  • Congratulations to Degree Program Graduates at NYFA Los Angeles!

    Graduation NYFA
    New York Film Academy Los Angeles Filmmaking, Acting, Producing, Screenwriting, Photography and Cinematography students received their MFA, MA, BFA and AFA degrees this past Saturday, January 24th during Commencement Ceremonies held at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood, California. Family and friends of the students attended two afternoon graduations (at 3pm for Acting, Screenwriting, Cinematography & Photography students and 6:30pm for Filmmaking & Producing students) completely filling the 400 seat theater for each. Department chairs Art Helterbran (Filmmaking), Lynda Goodfriend (Acting), Tony Schwartz (Producing), Nunzio DeFilippis (Screenwriting), Bobbi Fabian (Photography), and Michael Pessah (Cinematography), addressed their students, offering their final words of wisdom and best wishes for the future.
    graduation speech
    Commencement Speakers Randal Kleiser (film director of Grease, Blue Lagoon, White Fang and Flight of the Navigator) and Patrick Rush (casting director of Party of Five, Dawson’s Creek, Supernatural and The O.C.) gave candid and humorous advice for students navigating the Hollywood system. Afterwards students, family and friends celebrated elegantly at the Riot House Restaurant in West Hollywood’s Andaz Hotel. Congratulations to all of NYFA’s 2015 degree program graduates!
    Congrats to all of our NYFA LA Graduates:
    MFA in Filmmaking
    Saud Al-Moghirah
    Alessandro Amante
    Ramazanova Banu
    Carlos Amaral Baptista
    Nadir Bennaceur
    Isaac Michael Blankenship
    Maria Valentina Carmona Corral
    Lilia Dalakishvili
    Yul Gatewood
    Robert James Gould
    Ritesh Jeswani
    Satoshi Kameoka
    Adrenia Shanell Kemp
    Alexander G. Tobias
    TaoHsiu Wei
    Yazhen Zhang
    Wangshu Zhao
    Mingtao Zhou
    Yanjun Zhou

    MA in Film & Media Production
    Sichen Ai
    Hanaa Saleh Alfassi
    Obisesan Allen Bobola
    Hongyi Cao
    Luciana F Capela
    Zhuo Chen
    Konstantin Frolov
    Zalikha Harun
    Meghan Mildred Hooper
    He Huang
    Jiang Jiang
    Minghang Jiang
    Srinivasa Jonnavithula
    Aditya Patwardhan
    Nadeen Salam Said
    Lisa Schulz
    Dimitrios Tranos
    Fei Fei Wang
    Xurui Wang
    Jiaduo Wu
    Yining Yan
    Liang Zhao
    Yucheng Zhao

    BFA in Filmmaking
    Eskil Brattgjerd
    Hang Cheng
    Noé Miguel Obregón Escobar
    Rachel Karen Gallagher
    Georgy Gorshunov
    Lu He
    Junyao Hu
    Joelle Kahn
    Oscar Benjamin Lyons
    Akshay Pradeep
    Hao Zhang
    Qihuan Zheng
    Tong Zhou
    Camila Varela Zolezzi

    AFA in Filmmaking
    Darío Navarro Anzaldúa
    Rory Butcher
    Jamie Deacon
    Christopher Dyrell Dickerson
    Matthew A Escobedo
    Shantal Lenya Freedman
    Adam Gomez
    Michael James Gros
    Bruno Paolucci
    Christian Smith

    MFA in Acting for Film
    Cody Lyle Asher
    Jovanna Avila
    Parvane Baharian
    Pamela Oma Belonwu-Ifedi
    Lixuan Geng
    Jean Hyppolite
    Keaton Kaplan
    David Grant Kuskie
    Tamara Kvashilava
    Kevin Chua Peng Liang
    Phoebe Ray McHenry
    Adam Wayne Ohl
    Laura Anna-Katariina Ollikainen
    Amir Abdul Rahim
    Cesar Ramirez
    Kathleen M. Roy
    Sally Shepard
    Leandro Manuel Vargas Simoza
    Jeremy Sykes
    Klement Tinaj
    Amanda Anne Vannucchi
    Nina Ce’Mone Wright
    Han Xing
    Xinwan Yu

    BFA in Acting for Film
    Gianlorenzo Albertini
    Diana Salazar Arias
    Adam El-Manawy
    Jonghoon Han
    Deniz Kara
    John Franklin Karbousky II
    Monique Oberholzer
    Elena Petrukhina
    Randall Julian William Stanley
    James Earl Surman Jr
    Kris Swinnen

    AFA in Acting for Film
    Morgan Elese Aiken
    Sonia Gonzalez Arrieta
    Luis Facci
    Maxine Foreman
    Amber Greene
    Molly Kelly
    Sebastian Mayer
    James Millot
    Candace Rachelle Morris
    Shaquann Nesbitt
    Nehal Patel
    Nicolas Puorro
    John Reeve
    Arkan Satrio
    Jeremy Harris Shechtman
    Milbelynn Soto
    Megan Leigh Wright

    MFA in Producing
    Cynara Aziza Cherry-Cary
    Yiling Du
    Gabriel Amora de Farias
    Faustino Felix Figueroa
    Xingyu Gao
    Alessandra Micol Ghisolfi
    Li Guannan
    Yingshan Jiang
    Omar Ahmed Tariq Murad
    Yuki Naito
    Charles J. Pass
    Mariana Patricia Pineda M.
    Lifen Ruan
    Chun Shen
    Xuewei Yang
    Leying Zhang
    Qingqing Zhang
    Tianhui Zheng

    BFA in Producing
    Mariana Mendez Alejandre
    Aida Mamezhanova
    Diego Del Rio Toca

    MFA in Screenwriting
    Eric J. Arias
    Edward E. Arnold
    Livia Azzolini
    Kevin André Easley Jr.
    Michael E Madvedoff
    Eshan Parikh
    Kalei Sue Pipczynski
    Rohan Sunil Thakkar
    LeeMar Turner
    Rebecca Verdia
    Zachary Alan Xanders
    Dongjing Yuan

    AFA in Screenwriting
    Chris Arneson
    Samira Elhidmi

    MFA in Photography
    Casey Landon Asher
    Donald Hoffman
    Li Sun
    Qiang Ye
    Lishabai Yi
    Qian Zhe

    MFA in Cinematography
    Loai Ibrahim A Khalifah
    Ora Tiffany Littlejohn
    Robert McIntosh
    Gaofei Zheng

  • Fairytales Come True for BFA Filmmaking Student

    Cinder Pumpkin

    They say fairytales can come true. Well, for Fi Dieter, fairytales are opening major doors for a bright future in the entertainment industry. The New York Film Academy BFA Filmmaking student, of Prince of Arabia Entertainment and Stedica Film, won the prestigious Award of Excellence from The Best Shorts Film Competition, Best Student Film at the 2015 California Women’s Film Festival, Best Student Drama at the 2014 International Family Film Festival at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, and has been an Official Selection in more than 10 festivals including the prestigious LA Shots Fest, the Playhouse West Film Festival, and the Women’s Director’s International Film Festival in New Dehli, India! The award was given for Dieter’s exciting fairytale adaptation drama short Cinder Pumpkin, which was her Intermediate Thesis Project at NYFA Los Angeles.

    Cinder Pumpkin features an exceptional storyline about a bright, socially-awkward girl named Cinder Ellen James (played by Jacquelynn Camden), who believes the only thing she needs for the gorgeous, unreachable Max (played by Travis Daniel Brown) to fall in love with her is one chance. With the help of her loyal friend Tom (played by Billy McCartney), Cinder is determined to take that chance herself. She trades glasses for a pair of high heels and experiences, for the first time, a world of teenage fantasies that makes her rediscover her value as a woman.

    “This award [Award of Excellence] honors not only the great amount of hard work put into our production, but also the growing voice of female directors,” says Dieter. “Cinder Pumpkin is about staying true to who you are even when the odds are against you, a fundamental lesson for all women who fight for gender equality.”

    Dieter is an award-winning Austrian filmmaker, actress and editor. Fi began acting in theater and commercials from an early age, always on a quest to find truth and depth in all she does.

    “Through my work, I intend to raise the voice of female filmmakers,” says Dieter. “I believe that little specific ‘somethings’ allow for a story to become universal and have the power to touch people. I aim to go beyond what is expected of young women to achieve in filmmaking. There isn’t a feeling I enjoy more than the satisfaction I get from proving there is more to me than what meets the eye.”

    Fi is currently in development on a three-part feature, based on a new take on the origins of Merlin the wizard, entitled Extraordinaire. It is a fantasy comedy with two endearing, magical characters whose major flaw is their inability to work together in times when their unity might make or break a kingdom. Extraordinaire Part One will be her thesis film.

    January 21, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1473

  • NYFA Veteran Student Hired as Military Consultant for Shia LaBeouf

    nick jones shia labeouf

    Nick Jones, Jr., Gary Oldman and Shia LaBeouf

    You never know when or from whom your next opportunity will manifest. In such an arduous and competitive industry like filmmaking, it’s best to take advantage of every relationship and be aware of the potential of each encounter. One of our BFA Filmmaking students Nick Jones, Jr., a veteran who was able to fund his education through the G.I. Bill, has provided us with a prime example of this.

    While at the premiere of Mandela, Jones sparked a conversation with a woman sitting next to him in the theater, who happened to the wife of director Dito Montiel. While Dito and his wife were very friendly to Nick, he debated whether or not to bring the conversation to the next step — reaching out for professional guidance. “They disappeared in the crowd. I waited,” remembered Jones. “Then, something forced me to get up and chase him down in the lobby. He was super nice and we stayed in contact since. He helped me with my year one project. Giving me feedback on my writing and helping me find an editor through his post-production team.

    Nick Jones, Jr.

    Jones on the set of “Man Down”

    Fast forward a bit, Montiel gets tapped to direct Man Down, starring Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman and Kate Mara. Since LaBeouf was playing a former U.S. Marine, he immediately wanted to know who he could turn to for accurate technical and character advice to provide for an authentic film. Montiel remembered Jones and his work, and the fact that Jones had served in the Marines — a perfect match for the job.

    Now Jones is working as a military consultant on Man Down. While on the job, Jones noticed, “Whenever you have a script that is written by someone without military experience, there are a lot of assumptions and liberties taken on that front. But it’s normal because usually you have a consultant onboard to correct and fill in the blanks — kind of like the glue that brings it all together.”

    Being a rookie in such a valuable and respected position, Jones was understandably nervous. “Shia studied me like a book. It wasn’t just a question and answer relationship. We spent everyday with each other. He picked up on my verbiage, posture, life experiences, etc. Every night I would send him an email about the Marine Corps. Just random knowledge or current events. The most important thing was getting him in the mindset of a real Marine. How we think, how we feel about things, our reaction to current events, and the importance of brotherhood. You’re a product of your environment, and what I tried to do was create an environment that immersed him in the Corps. He trained with real Marines. He learned from real Marines. He became friends with real Marines. And I think that experience helped create a real persona for his character. The more real life experiences he could pull from, the better.”

    Jones suggested that veteran students looking to consult on films should maintain their relationships within the military. He also recalled some valuable advice from his Warrant Officer, “You don’t have to know the answer to everything, you just have to know where to find it.”

    While Nick had a bit of luck on his side in landing this coveted job, he is the one who made it happen with hard work and initiative.

    Jones with director Dito Montiel and Shia LaBeouf

    Jones with director Dito Montiel and Shia LaBeouf

    January 20, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1324

  • Director Rupert Wyatt Screens ‘The Gambler’ at NYFA LA

    Rupert Wyatt

    On Wednesday January 14th, New York Film Academy Los Angeles students came to Warner Bros. studios for a screening of The Gambler, in theaters now, and participated in a Q&A with director Rupert Wyatt. The discussion was moderated by producer Tova Laiter.

    Rupert Wyatt began his career developing features for Miramax and working in British television. After creating several short films, Rupert Wyatt made his feature writing and directing debut with The Escapist, a prison escape drama starring the remarkable Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes and Homeland’s Damian Lewis. The Village Voice – always one of the toughest critics to please – called it “a taut thriller that ends on a note of unexpected grace.” If that wasn’t enough for a debut, Mr. Wyatt even managed to get Coldplay to pen the movie’s title track. His next feature film – Rise of the Planet Apes – showed that a franchise can reach its creative peak in its seventh installment. Featuring the best motion capture performance to date by Andy Serkis, Rise showed that a blockbuster effects-driven movie can challenge and move its audience while creating empathy for the most unlikely of characters. Caesar might be a CG Chimpanzee, but he’s completely three dimensional and human. In Rise, Mr. Wyatt re-launched a 45-year-old franchise and brought CG character animation to a new creative high. Mr. Wyatt next directed the stirring pilot of the Civil War Drama TURN before turning his eye towards the battlegrounds of LA’s underground gambling scene in The Gambler. Working with a script from Academy Award winning writer William Monahan, Mr. Wyatt brings the same nuance and visual control to this character driven drama that he’s demonstrated in all his work.
    the gambler screening
    Rupert is the perfect example of how perseverance and hard work can pay off in Hollywood. He had the dream of being a director all of his life but it wasn’t until he reached the age of thirty-five that he got received his first opportunity to direct a feature film he had been toiling to make for many years. That film – The Escapist – was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and his life was changed forever. This is why Mr. Wyatt encouraged students to stick with the project you are passionate about even when it seems impossible. The biggest mistake can be continuously changing course with projects that are shiny and new but getting nowhere in the process. Whatever film you end up making will most likely take years to get made anyway, so you might as well stick with it.

    Mr. Wyatt’s greatest advice to actors was to be flexible. Sometimes actors will expect the director to say exactly the right thing and shut down if he or she falls short of this. However, this type of attitude is the enemy of creativity. It could be that the crazy bit of direction you give an actor to mix things up in take four falls flat, however, it could also be what unexpectedly brings the scene to life. So take chances, play, and let go of your ego.

    When asked if there is particular genre Mr. Wyatt prefers he said that it was really story that is important to him. In this way he manages create something fresh by subverting genre altogether. While producers may feel they need to sell a movie as one that falls neatly in a specific category, once the audience is in the theater Rupert gives them something they’ve never experienced before. He’s not afraid to try new things which is what makes him such an exciting force in Hollywood.

    rupert wyatt gambler

    We sincerely thank Rupert Wyatt for his enthusiasm in answering students’ questions and wish him the best of luck with his next directorial endeavor.

    Written by Eric Conner and Robert Cosnahan

    January 16, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 590

  • NYFA Grad Finalist for Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” Grand Prize

    Doritos Angler

    Do not underestimate the power of the craving for Doritos. At least the New York Film Academy isn’t. Of the ten finalists in the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which provides the winner with the opportunity to have his or her commercial air during the Super Bowl and win one million dollars, the New York Film Academy has two representatives!

    In addition to Nick Sivakumaran and Dave Horowitz’s finalist The Lemonade Stand, we’ve come across former New York Film Academy Los Angeles alumnus James Bedford’s comical commercial Doritos Angler.

    “I’m really delighted to have made it into the finals, considering how strong the competition is,” says Bedford. “And it’s also great to be the first person from the UK to make it into the finals.”

    You can vote for Bedford’s commercial on multiple platforms everyday from now until January 28th! Visit: and vote now!

    Bedford is currently working as a freelance director working across tv, brand films and commercials. If James wins the grand prize, he plans to use the money to film a feature film — no fish involved.

    January 13, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1358

  • Filmmaker Nathan Scoggins Gives Career Advice and Inspiration in his Visit to NYFA

    Nathan ScogginsOn December 2nd, 2014, screenwriter and director Nathan Scoggins sat down with NYFA’s Business of Screenwriting class to tell his tale of how this son of a pastor from Warwick, Rhode Island, found his way to writing movies in Hollywood.

    “I couldn’t have grown up further from Hollywood,” Scoggins recalled. “I was raised in a conservative town with pretty traditional values. But my family always encouraged artistic exploration, and I think for me it just awakened something inside.” Scoggins grew up loving classic movies like Hoosiers and Citizen Kane, as well as movies with a heartfelt, hopeful or spiritual message like Field of Dreams. He wrote short stories and plays in high school, which won him a few awards. He also played soccer, which he credits to teaching him a certain level of mental toughness, something he definitely feels all writers need to have.

    Attending Wesleyan University, Scoggins originally thought he might teach English when he graduated but “God messed all that up,” Scoggins joked with our students. Scoggins had taken a bunch of film classes and fell in love with the classic westerns like The Searchers and Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. Upon graduating, Scoggins knew he wanted to do good in the world (for anyone who knows Nathan, they know his spirituality and Christian faith is a big part of who he is), but that writing itch was also never far away from him. Serendipitously, it was the merging of Scoggins’ religious upbringing and his desire to write that lead to his first break.

    “They say write what you know, and I knew a lot about being a spiritual leader from my father and I thought — we’ve never really seen a movie about an African American priest before.” That script, then called Parker and later called The Least of These tells the tale of a priest who returns to his old Catholic high school to replace a priest who has gone missing, only to begin to suspect that the missing priest may have been murdered by someone at the school to hide a darker secret. This script was a game-changer for Scoggins, especially when it placed in the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship along with a whole host of other screenplay competitions. It was the spark Scoggins needed to pack it up and move to Los Angeles.

    Scoggins began to write short films. There was Midnight Clear, which is about an escaped prisoner who forms an unlikely connection with the family whose home he breaks into during a storm; and Cries From Ramah, about two mothers, one Israeli, one Pakistani, who both lose children in a bombing at a Tel Aviv and unknowingly encounter each other while in the hospital waiting room. Scoggins also directed Pop Star, which is about a spoiled British pop star sent to a hospital before his first big tour. Once there, he meets a girl who enables him to see himself in a new light. Scoggins tells stories about people and moments in time when they are fundamentally altered.

    “One of the keys out here,” Nathan explained, “is finding people who really get you as a writer.” One of the collaborators Scoggins found early on was producer and mentor Ralph Winter (The Giver, X-Men Origins), who ended up Executive Producing The Least of These. “Another is to keep the people who are the most important to your priority — I’m a husband and father before anything else.”

    The Least of These soon attracted the attention of Grey’s Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington, as well as legendary character-actor Robert Loggia. Because of Nathan’s background with directing a few shorts, Nathan was able to direct the film as well. “We assembled a great team of people who really believed in me.” One thing Nathan explained to the students was “you should always be thinking and asking what other value can I add?” As it turns out, Scoggins has a knack for raising money independently, and he helped raise a significant portion of what turned out to be a million dollar budgeted debut feature. Scoggins went the angel investor route, asking friends and acquaintances who might want to contribute. “One of the advantages of making movies with a message is there are people out there who do want to help, but that’s definitely not why I tell the stories that I do.”

    After The Least of These, Scoggins went on write his second feature The Perfect Summer. “I had ten days to write the script,” Scoggins explained, to which all of the students (and me) did a complete double-take! It’s true. Scoggins got the call from a producer – who had liked his work — that he was making a spiritual surfing drama and needed a script ASAP. Scoggins had been planning a family trip to Seattle with his wife and kids. “He asked me if I could do it, and, after we negotiated the terms,” Scoggins joked, “I gulped, yes, I could.” Scoggins learned a valuable lesson about writing under pressure during this time. I wrote sixteen pages a day. Scoggins found that there were some nice parallels to surfing, which is a form of ‘walking on water’, and Jesus’ famous similarly miraculous feat. “It’s always an act of faith to make something out of nothing, which is why I think creativity is so closely linked to spirituality.” With our minds sufficiently blown, Scoggins has more wisdom to dispel.

    “One thing I’ve learnt with writing spiritual stories is that you can’t be too overt or too preachy. When you are, the audience tunes it out. Jesus is a slap in the face, not a comfort. And my faith is hard-fought. You have to avoid easy answers and half-truths, as there’s a lot of “Jesus Junk” out there,” Scoggins explained, alluding to some of the recent fair out there that’s capitalized on the ’God-craze’ in cinema lately. “It’s easy to say, ‘I do this in the name of Jesus’, it’s a lot harder to actually act like him.” The class, as evidenced by their comments and further questions, were truly grateful to Scoggins’ openness throughout and honesty about his faith and the role it plays with his work — something truly rare these days.

    Scoggins closed out with some more valuable pointers for NYFA’s screenwriters to take with them after they graduate. “Always be writing and always be finishing,” Scoggins exclaimed, recalling the fervor of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. “Try and do ten pages a day.” “Don’t chase scraps,” Scoggins continued, meaning don’t take a job just for the money, “find meaning in what you’re doing,” at which he joked, “this can be hard, as you don’t want to tell your daughter she has to live in your car and shower at the Y either!”

    On a roll, Scoggins closed out, “How you treat people matters. Listen to the universe, look for guidance all around you. It’s there. If you’re too self-focused, you’ll miss the opportunities. Don’t give up. Ever. Oh, and write thank you notes. Hand written thank you notes. It’s a dying art form people always appreciate.” Scoggins shook the hands of each of the students as he left, wishing them luck individually.

    Nathan Scoggins lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children. He is repped by Carlos Bobadilla. He recently completed his comedy script Made in Mexico, which will be shopped in 2015.

    January 13, 2015 • Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 663

  • NYFA Grad & Instructor’s Doritos Commercial Finalist to Air on Super Bowl

    Nick Sivakumaran

    Senior Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran

    With the NFL Playoffs in full swing, remaining teams are battling it out on the field for their dream of playing in the biggest sporting event of them all: the Super Bowl. Comparatively, creative directors, ad agencies and filmmakers have been competing all year for the opportunity to have their ad broadcast on what is also the “Super Bowl for commercials.” Such is the case for New York Film Academy Los Angeles Senior Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran, Filmmaking alum Dave Horowitz, as well as writer Richard Jindapornsuk for their entry into the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest. Their hilarious spec commercial, The Lemonade Stand, was announced as one of ten finalists to potentially air during the Super Bowl XLIX broadcast—one selected by fan votes and the other by the Doritos brand. Not only that, if the trio receives the most votes, they will win a guaranteed $1 million grand prize!

    “We’re thrilled to be selected as Finalists and cherish the opportunity to have The Lemonade Stand air during the Super Bowl,” said director Sivakumaran. “It would be an incredible honor to have a project I directed viewed by over 110 million people.”

    The team’s 30 second spot already aired on NBC’s The Today Show during Matt Lauer and Carson Daly’s segment that announced the finalists.

    If you want to support Nick and his team you can help by voting daily, on every browser, on every device.

    Join the campaign on social media below and use #VoteLemonadeStand.

    Each of the 10 “Crash the Super Bowl” finalists are invited to Arizona to attend Super Bowl XLIX and watch the game from a private suite, where they will tune in to learn which finalist ads will air for the world to see. The eight finalists whose commercials don’t air during the broadcast will each win $25,000. The runner-up whose ad airs, but does not receive the most fan votes, will win $50,000. The Super Bowl XLIX broadcast will be on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, on NBC in the United States and local broadcast networks around the world.

    Voting ends January 28th, 2015, so vote now and support our fellow NYFA peers!


    January 7, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2002

  • Producing Grad Khalid Hasan Khan Making Waves in Pakistan with ‘Hotal’

    Meera as Kashika in Hotal

    Meera as Kashika in Hotal

    Growing up in Pakistan on Hollywood films, TV and even cartoons, New York Film Academy Producing graduate Khalid Hasan Khan found his venture to NYFA Los Angeles’ film school inevitable. It was at the Academy that Hasan learned the craft of filmmaking and began to develop the basis for his award-winning film, Hotal. The independent Pakistani feature film is a psycho-thriller about an Indian woman who ends up in a hotel where she meets her unborn sister. In addition to its original storytelling, Hotal is completely groundbreaking in that it is the first Hindi feature film shot outside the Indian Bollywood industry.

    The film boasts Lollywood star Meera and singer Jasmine Sandlas, who sings her “Mombatti” song in the film. After winning Best Film and Best Actress (Meera) at the Delhi International Film Festival, Hotal is arguably the most talked about film in Pakistan.

    The Hindu wrote, “The screenplay by Khalid Hasan is being viewed as a bold attempt which will go a long way in making Pakistan’s small yet rapidly growing industry more creative and original.”

    Hotal Deal

    Khalid Hasad Khan inking a deal with IMGC

    Before Khalid attended NYFA, he claims he had no real desire to write and direct a feature length film. Once he had the opportunity to experience the filmmaking process from start to finish in a hands-on environment, his outlook changed. “It dawned upon me that I can do everything from start to scratch,” said Khalid. “I have learnt a lot by doing hands-on filmmaking during my graduation program.”

    Indeed he did. Khalid not only developed an original screenplay, he was able to attach significant talent from Pakistan in what is now an award-winning film with a global distribution deal. “I owe it all to my faculty and management,” added Khalid.

    Pakistan’s distributor, IMGC Global Entertainment has acquired the global distribution deal for Hotal, which is set to be released on March 13, 2015. Interestingly enough, Khalid admitted he was wearing his NYFA jacket when he officially inked the distribution deal with Chairman, Sheikh Amjad Rashid.

    Have a look at the trailer for Hotal and let us know what you think!

    Hotal (Theatrical Trailer) from Khalid on Vimeo.

    January 6, 2015 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 973