• NYFA Awards Brooklyn Film Festival’s Best Director

    michael young

    NYFA President Michael Young congratulates Robert Gregson

    The New York Film Academy is proud to be a Supporting Sponsor at the 18th Brooklyn Film Festival. This year, the festival received 2,331 films coming from 114 countries and selected 109 film premieres coming from 26 countries.

    “Our film competition has been incredibly successful,” said Brooklyn Film Festival Director, Marco Ursino. “The great thing is that our audience, professionals or not, truly enjoyed all of the films.”

    As part of our sponsorship, NYFA’s President Michael Young was on hand to present a tuition scholarship to the Best New Director Award-Winner, Robert Gregson, for his film The Refrigerator. The Brooklyn-based filmmakers’s film focuses on the lives of Howie and Mark, two broke friends who happen to find a refrigerator on the street. Inside the fridge, they discover the way to another dimension. Greed, drunkenness and hilarity ensue.

    We’d like to congratulate Mr. Gregson, as well as the other winners and competitors in the festival. Mr. Gregson’s scholarship entitles him to attend an 8-Week Workshop to one of our many locations around the world. For a full list of this year’s winners, visit the Brooklyn Film Festival’s official website at

    We look forward to supporting next year’s Brooklyn Film Festival!

    June 17, 2015 • Community Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 476

  • NYFA Hosts Special Event for Wounded Warriors

    wwp at nyfaAs a nationally accredited and degree granting college, the New York Film Academy has been privileged over the last few years to enroll hundreds of veteran students at our campuses in both New York City and Los Angeles. To further give back to our veteran and military community, the New York Film Academy in Battery Park held an event exclusive for veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project.

    The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured servicemembers, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

    The daylong event began with a speech from Colonel Jack Jacobs, NYFA’s Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program. Jacobs has served as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division, executive officer of an infantry battalion in the 7th Infantry Division, and commanded the 4th Battalion 10th Infantry in Panama. A member of the faculty of the US Military Academy, Colonel Jacobs taught international relations and comparative politics for three years, and he was a member of the faculty of the National War College in Washington, DC. He was in Vietnam twice, both times as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions, and he is among the most highly decorated soldiers from that era, having earned three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat decoration.

    Jacobs spoke in depth about the importance of veterans in Media and Film, and joined the Warriors for lunch after his inspirational speech. After that, the Warriors were given two truly hands-on workshops in both filmmaking and acting for film.

    “It was an honor and privilege doing this event for the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Director of Performing Arts Enrollment, Roger Del Pozo. “They did a fantastic job in the workshop, and they were very inspiring — it was an amazing experience.”

    wounded warriors

    An award-winning Top Military Friendly School, the New York Film Academy is dedicated to helping veterans achieve their educational and career goals. Many of NYFA programs are approved for the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the New York Film Academy proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

    For more information about NYFA’s Veterans Benefits, Resources and Alumni, please visit

    June 16, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1335

  • Portuguese Filmmaking Grad Directs Award-Winning Commercial

    Directing commercials can not only be a creative and rewarding career, it can also propel directors into the world of feature directing. Just have a look at David Fincher or Michel Gondry’s early career in the film business.

    One of our 8-Week Filmmaking graduates, Francisco Miranda, directed a commercial in his hometown of Portugal, which recently won the grand prize in the prestigious “Galp Create” publicity contest. The video is a 30 second spot for Tangerina.

    “I attribute a huge part of this success to the New York Film Academy,” said Miranda. “Back in school, I gained a lot of knowledge in the classes that I was part of. The movies that I made at NYFA with my fellow students were very important to improve my craft and become a director.”

    Have a look at Miranda’s award-winning spot below!

    Galp Tangerina from Francisco Miranda on Vimeo.


    June 11, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 981

  • Urban Possibilities and New York Film Academy Team Up For Spoken Word Performance and Story Encounter

    urban possibilities

    New York Film Academy students worked with survivors of homelessness to present a spoken word and musical performance at the NYFA Theater at the Los Angeles campus in May. Urban Possibilities is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the homeless and working poor. Urban Possibilities’ alumni performed spoken word pieces about their lives developed during one of UP’s writing workshops. NYFA Acting students Fernando Sambora and Roman Arnaize performed a musical interlude for the full house of enthusiastic NYFA students and faculty.

    urban possibilities

    The next day, NYFA screenwriting, filmmaking, and documentary students participated in a unique daylong workshop facilitated by Urban Possibilities. NYFA students were paired with Urban Possibilities students to interview one another and share their personal stories. After an hour of heart-to-heart conversation, each person was asked to write a profile of the person they’d been speaking to. Touching, surprising and sometimes extraordinary bonds between the pairs were revealed. One NYFA student called it “an unforgettable day of learning and feeling and writing a truly original piece.” Another said, “I loved it. It was enlightening, inspirational, transformational and eye-opening.”

    urban possibilities

    Eyvette Jones Johnson, Founder and CEO of Urban Possibilities said, “When we exchange our stories, bonds are created and biases begin to melt away no matter what our zip codes may be. That’s important in a world often violently divided by race and class — one that our students navigate daily.”

  • Cinematography Grad Captures New York’s ‘Queens of Flesh & Blood’

    michelle cassis

    Michelle Cassis and her crew on set

    Queens of Flesh & Blood is a fashion piece statement that celebrates the hard-working women who inhabit one of the toughest cities in the world. Shot in the streets of New York City by New York Film Academy Cinematography alumna Michelle Cassis, the film is an anthem to real, persevering women who strive daily to conquer the concrete jungle. It is a film that captures and showcases New York City in its essence — by telling the story through New York’s most iconic signs and billboards.

    “This film is dedicated to real women, with the hopes of inspiring them,” said Cassis. “My goal was to shoot a fashion film with a strong story and message — not just pretty shots — but an inspiring film to the audience. I wanted to jump out of the glamor of couture and editorial and come up with a down-to-earth fashion film that women all around the world could relate to.”

    Cassis creates an homage to strong women while at the same time using New York as a character of the story. “These women, these queens, are out there, we see them everyday,” Cassis concludes.


    The video was shot in New York last October. The crew consisted of other NYFA graduates:

    • Producer Anthony Argento
    • Jieun Shim and Mihyun Park from South Korea, both assistant cameras and graduates from the Cinematography course
    • Tomas Velasques, from Colombia, who helped Ming as his gaffer
    • Mariana Araujo, from Brazil, was assistant director
    • Jorge Godinez, from Mexico, was the production designer

    “I’m really grateful to the entire crew,” added Cassis. “Without their hard-work and help the film wouldn’t be what it is today.”

    Shot with the Arri Alexa and the Optica Elite Anamorphic Primer lenses in 50mm and 70mm, cinematographer Ming Jue Hu said, “The look for each character is inspired by the space they live in. We were going for a romantic realism.”

    In regards to the casting process, Cassis said while she wasn’t necessarily looking for a specific look, diversity was the main goal. The team ended up casting Darin Itdhanuvekin from Thailand, and Lidiia Vidrenko and Alexandra Chelaru from Russia.

    Have a look at Michelle’s video in its entirety below.

    Queens of Flesh & Blood from Michelle Cassis on Vimeo.

    June 9, 2015 • Cinematography, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1351

  • High School Camp Grad’s Short Awarded ‘Short of the Week’

    ike interviews god

    With summer approaching, we’ve been looking back at what some of our High School Summer Camp graduates are working on today. Last week, we stumbled across a “Short of the Week” from New York Film Academy Summer Camp alumnus, Eli Shapiro. His award-winning film, Ike Interviews God, tackles the potential apocalyptic doom of our society in a somewhat dark yet comedic way. As the director puts it, the initial premise of the film was quite simple: if you could have a private conversation with God, what would you ask Her?

    “I wanted to make fun of what would actually happen during a major religious event today,” said Shapiro. “How news stations would exploit it, how people would try to make money out of it, how they’d cast Ryan Gosling for the movie adaptation.”

    While Shapiro practices the Jewish faith, he wanted the film to make people laugh regardless of his or her beliefs. “I think everyone — atheists and religious people — have these cosmic questions.”

    To date, Shapiro’s short has screened at several film festivals, including the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival 2014, Screen Actor’s Guild Foundation Film Showcase 2014, DC Shorts Film Festival 2014, Montclair Film Festival 2014, and Hollyshorts Monthly Screening Series 2015.

    Have a look at his award-winning short in its entirety below.

    IKE INTERVIEWS GOD from Eli Shapiro on Vimeo.

    June 8, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 827

  • BFA Filmmaking Grad Finalist in CineGear 2015 Film Series at Paramount Studios


    When our filmmaking students graduate from the New York Film Academy, they bring with them a thesis film that they can be proud of. Often the short film will be his or her calling card to the professional world. But before that happens, we encourage our graduates to enter his or her thesis film into as many film festivals as possible, giving him or her and the film the proper exposure needed.

    One of our recent BFA Filmmaking graduates, Diego Andres Londono, has followed this advice, and has already seen success at the festivals with his thesis film, Medley. He’s won awards at two film festivals, California International Shorts and LAArthouse Filmfest, both as Best Experimental Film. Medley has also been selected into the biggest University level Film Festival in Colombia and was a part of the Cannes Short Film Corner.

    “There is a sweet and twisted bliss in Diego’s talents as he sees things with a creative eye that understands both art and commerce,” said NYFA Instructor Saga Elmoraseb. “He is detailed without being demanding and is sensitive about the filmmaking process. These (and many more) are reasons why I feel Diego is a cut above the rest. His film Medley is proof.”

    Now, Diego’s film is a finalist in the CineGear 2015 Film Series, which will take place at the famous Paramount Studios. Diego is competing for $5,000 in equipment for his next project against two other student thesis films from AFI and USC.

    We had a chance to ask Diego a few questions about his film and his young career before his upcoming GineGear screening on June 4th.

    Congrats on the success of your thesis film! Can you tell us what the film is about?

    It wasn’t the first idea that I had and it was born kind of in the middle of turmoil, as I didn’t know if I was going to be able to shoot a thesis film at all. Nevertheless, one night of May 2014, Matías Piegari, a very good friend and composer, whom I met at NYFA, showed me an amazing piano recital experiment called: “4’33.”

    The experiment was conducted by John Cage, and in it, Cage brought a world-renowned piano player and made the audience believe that he was about to play a sonata. The curiosity would build up as the piano player sat down in front of the big audience, but when the time to perform came in, the player would start his metronome and remain motionless until the metronome hit an entire movement. It is what’s called a symphony composed of silence.

    To me, it challenged the very definition of art because it shows that art is not just this thing that is created by a human being for others to judge, it exists on its own. And in the context of Medley, it exists in nature. I went back home and began writing with extreme passion about a piano concert in which the piano didn’t produce the sounds that it was expected to produce, but sounds of nature. Nature for me is what drives my creativity — as I see it — it is in nature where art resides in its pure form and in its universal state.


    Can you tell us a little bit of how this film came together?

    I got an amazing support from Asaph Polonsky and Tony Schwartz, my directing and producing instructors. They knew of the effort I put on my first thesis idea and the reasons why it didn’t come through. At that time, they put a word in with Mike Civille, who was the head of the filmmaking department at that time. I was asking for an extra semester to be able to shoot my thesis, but Mike gave me an extra month; and he was right: an extra month was enough for me to conceive the idea and shoot it. I had to resource to my own creativity, the producing and directing tools that I had acquired with years and to my friends — the people who I spent three years of my life battling side by side in the sea of projects that is the BFA program.

    I will be eternally grateful to Melissa Inzunza, our Producer, and Yana Surits, our AD: they are not only just classmates, they are my true friends. After the initial struggle, we managed to get Jordan Black on board, an amazing Director of Photography and an equally talented Production Designer, Kalise Wallace (Star Trek: Renegades, Bound). And just like that, we rented a small studio in Glendale and began dressing up the atemporary world where the concert had to take place. A lot of friends came forward and helped in the dressing of the place. To help in the construction, Kalise brought a master threader who works with ‘Cirque du Soleil’ to build their tents and scenery in Vegas. (Only in LA do you get to meet people like that.) He congratulated us for the amazing production value that we were capable of generating with a minimal budget.

    A month after principal photography was completed, we shot the nature sequence. I wanted to contrast the arranged concert as an art form with the pure art that exists in nature. But I knew that I had to choose a place equally beautiful to what we had created artificially. This is why we chose Big Sur as our location for the nature shots. This magical place on Earth is one where Ansel Adams decided to inspire himself and represent his work. At Big Sur, the majestic sequoia trees die by the sea. I’ve never seen that spectacle elsewhere. We hiked for two days with a skeletal crew of five. We captured mesmerizing imagery that, in the words of many photographers, rival those of the National Geographic.

    What do you hope to achieve with this film?

    I wanted to try new approaches to filmmaking by conveying emotions through the creative use of sound and image. I learned heaps in the process; and most likely will affect my future films. As for our audience, I would like to generate questions about what is art, and where does the concept comes from. I would like for them to feel and experience an experimental journey that hopefully will trigger their creativity.

    on set medley

    Would you say your training and education at NYFA was useful in terms of directing this film?

    I am grateful for the education and hands-on training that I received at NYFA. I learned from working on all of my friend’s projects and also from great instructors who taught me to strive for greatness and to stand behind my vision and get my collaborators involved in it. Throughout the time that I spent at the school, we constantly changed and evolved and towards the end of my BFA program I was able to put together all of the directing lessons that I received and implement them in the natural way that I imprinted in Medley’s actors.

    NYFA is a young school but it has an international quality to it that gives you a sense of global perspective that other schools might not give you. This helped me in writing Medley out of a traditional way, and go for an avant-garde style. All for all, I had awesome experiences that allowed me to see the world through other scopes. Being surrounded by different cultures allowed me not only to receive an ‘American Education’ but also to share my cinematic experience with people from around the world. I am proud to say that my film is the first NYFA film to compete in the ‘2015 Cinegear Film Series’ at Paramount Studios, alongside of AFI and USC thesis films, because my school is at that level.

    Are you currently working on another project?

    Currently, I am working on developing a feature film about a murder case in Pleasanton, California, in which authorities work in a crooked way because of the victim being an African American and because of the sense of ‘small town’ that NorCal communities have. We can use all the help that we can get and of course we where planning on coming to NYFA, as we know of the good relationship that the school has with its alumni. I also have projects in development in Colombia and México, which I’m already in conversations with production companies back home to produce in the upcoming years. I say ‘years’ because it seems like feature filmmaking is a marathon and not just a sprinting race, but I’m enjoying the ride.

    Medley has been selected to compete in the Student Film Category for the ‘CineGear film series’ at Paramount Studios on June 4th of 2015. For more information visit:

    Have a look at Diego’s trailer for Medley below!

    June 3, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 993

  • NYFA Australia Acting Chair and Alumnus Appear in ‘San Andreas’

    san andreas premiere

    One-Year Acting Grad, Nick Allen-Ducat and NYFA Australia, Gold Coast Chair of Acting, Brad McMurray                                                              picture by David Clark; Gold Coast Bulletin

    It’s no coincidence that the New York Film Academy Australia’s Gold Coast campus is situated on the backlot of Village Roadshow Studios adjacent to Warner Bros Movie World in Queensland, Australia.

    Similar to our Los Angeles campus, NYFA Gold Coast students have access to the movie studios, giving them a truly hands-on, real-world experience.

    Given the unparalleled access to the filmmaking community in Queensland, it came as no surprise to find two of our very own in front of the camera for the upcoming blockbuster film San Andreas, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Paul Giamatti. NYFA Australia, Gold Coast Chair of Acting, Brad McMurray and One-Year Acting Grad, Nick Allen-Ducat had roles in the film, and walked the red carpet at the Queensland premiere, which took place at the Roxy Theatre.


    pic by David Clark; Gold Coast Bulletin

    “Being on the backlot leaves it wide open to massive possibilities as many of our current and former students had on set experience as extras on San Andreas and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken,” said McMurray. “Having international blockbusters shooting on NYFA’s doorstep creates an industry pulse that is felt by all of the students at NYFA. This creates a hunger that will drive them into this vibrant exciting industry. In securing a role on something as big as San Andreas, it enables me to get in the room face to face with the students and share this valuable experience with them. The class experience then becomes a session of artistic osmosis where the students beliefs and expectations are ramped up ready for the industry.”

    In addition to Brad and Nick’s roles in the film, NYFA Australia filmmaking students were able to intern on the production of the film.

    Having filmed on the Coast, The Rock, who was in attendance at the premiere, had this to say about his experience: “I had the best time — amazing time — shooting the film on the Gold Coast.”

    Look for Brad, Nick, and The Rock in San Andreas, which opens in theaters today!

  • MFA Filmmaking Grad Produces Feature ‘El Freeman’

    Since graduating from his MFA in Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles in 2012, Antonio Chavez Trejo has established himself as the Director of Production and Creative Services for a 360 production and social media marketing company based in LA, called Supersonix Media Inc. Having come from a film school background and being well versed in the many facets of filmmaking, Antonio served his hand as producer, co-director and camera-op on his feature film entitled, El Freeman. Antonio and his team are now handling distribution, marketing, and crowd funding.

    el freeman

    The film is about El, an immigrant from Kazakhstan who is trying to raise money to hire a lawyer to get his papers in order. He ends up meeting the wrong set of people, and works at a moving company with a few low life criminals who steal from the owners of the homes. During one of his jobs, El meets a man who will become his mentor and help him correct his path. In addition to his eventual brotherhood with his fellow criminals, there’s also a love story that pushes the interior motives of El and his connection with his values and his family.

    “Working on El Freeman taught me something very important,” said Trejo. “Im up for the challenge, and I have acquired the leadership I need to run any film I want to make.”

    el freemanTrejo had been assembling the team for about two years, which includes former classmates of his, director Yelhas Rakhimbekov, director of photography Erik Kjonaas, and 1st AD Carolina Sandoval. This tight group of filmmakers worked arduous schedules to complete production of the film.

    “We had days when we had to shoot 6, 7, 8 or 9 pages a day,” recalls Trejo. “With their eyes and ears and my directing keeping the vision of Yelhas, we shot something that looks as beautiful as the script is.”

    Trejo and his team finished principal photography, and are currently in post-production.

    Aside from this project, Trejo has been showcasing a few of his short films and has a feature script which he hopes will see a green light soon.


    May 26, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1200

  • NYFA Grad Alfonso Ribeiro From ‘Fresh Prince’ to Host AFV


    photo courtesy of ABC

    Who can forget the lovable Carlton from the popular 90’s television series, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? What most of you may not know is actor Alfonso Ribeiro took a filmmaking workshop at the New York Film Academy in 1999 to provide him with additional insight into the creative process that surrounds him on set.

    Since coming off the hit show, Ribeiro has acted and appeared in a number of television series, including his most recent stint on Dancing with the Stars. Now, Ribeiro will replace Tom Bergeron as the host of the long running show, America’s Funniest Home Videos. Like the series showrunners, we think Ribeiro will be a terrific fit.

    “There’s got to be a sincerity and a connection with the audience,” executive producer Vin Di Bona told Variety. “You’ve got to be someone who cares about kids. That connection you make with the audience is of the utmost importance to me. That’s something you just don’t get by reading copy. In our auditions, it just became very, very apparent that Alfonso is a genuinely nice man.”

    Ranked as one of primetime TV’s most family-friendly shows, AFV wrapped its 25th anniversary season this past Sunday.


    May 20, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1218