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  • NYFA Alumnus Directs Hillbilly-Horror “Tuftland”

    Roope Olenius, who graduated with his BFA in Acting for Film from the Los Angeles campus in 2013, is currently working on his directorial debut Kyrsyä – Tuftland, in Finland.

    roope

    Kyrsyä-elokuvan kuvaukset.

    Honoring films like The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby, the Finnish film discusses current topics such as women’s rights, man’s relationship with nature and young people’s difficulty to find their way into the work life. The story revolves around a young textile student, who takes on a summer job at a secluded and totally self-sufficient town. The cast consists of upcoming actors like Veera W. Vilo, Saara Elina, Ari Savonen and Enni Ojutkangas who have become known as the faces of the new wave of Finnish genre movie with films like Bunny the Killer Thing and Backwood Madness.

    “In addition to the fact that the story discusses extremely important topics, it does it with a very raw and objective voice, which for me was very fascinating from the get-go,” said Olenius. “It was important for me to tell this exact story at this point of my life because it really allowed me to throw my questions into the film and at the same time transform myself into a better person. Even though the story is fictitious (and in ways goes over the top), it points out some mindsets and behavior patterns that currently take place in Western countries and especially in Finland, which for me was a way to connect with the story. The possibility to make a film that has the potential to challenge the audience to think about their own values and opinions in life, is, for me, the whole point of filmmaking.”

    roope

    Kyrsyä-elokuvan kuvaukset.

    Olenius, who has consistently worked as an actor in his home country after graduation, is also producing the film and responsible for the adapted screenplay, which is is based on an original play of the same name by Neea Viitamäki. Kyrsyä – Tuftland is currently in production and set to premiere in 2017.

    “My training at NYFA has helped me enormously in terms of understanding all aspects of filmmaking and how they play together in a film production,” said Olenius. “Even though I studied acting, thanks to the versatile program I attended, I already had a good understanding of filmmaking after graduation and, therefore, the potential to pursue the making of this film after working only few years in the industry. Studying acting for film in Los Angeles has given me resourceful tools to get cinematic and true performances out of the wonderful cast of this film, which I believe will really make this film extraordinary.”

     

    September 5, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3091

  • NYFA Showcases its Talents at the Venice International Film Festival

    It was quite an honor to take part in the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. The exclusive New York Film Academy Showcase at the VIFF began with a Q&A between NYFA Florence Program Director, Diana Santi, and NYFA alumnus, Giorgio Pasotti, who attended a Filmmaking Workshop in 2003. Pasotti has acted in numerous well-known Italian films, including Paolo Sorrentino’s Academy Award-winning film “The Great Beauty.”

    Held at the Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel, Pasotti discussed his overall education at NYFA, which he described as an amazing learning experience.

    diana and pasotti

    “It was more useful to study 8 weeks at NYFA in NY than the years I’ve spent studying and watching movies,” said the Italian actor. Pasotti used the skills he learned from NYFA to direct his debut film, “Io, Arlecchino.”

    Following the Q&A, the festival screened five NYFA student and alumni films that included two live-action shorts, two animated shorts, and one documentary short.

    The five films that screened were:

    “The Life Of Janka,” by Luis Henriquez Viloria (fiction)

    After the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, thousands of kids went to the streets and became targets for organizations of child traffickers. These kids were traded like livestock. “The Life of Janka” is a fictional story of two brothers who go through such an experience.

    “Fumo,” by Sean Miyakawa (fiction)

    Set in the mid-1920s, a frustrated sound composer works as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema, and happens to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

    “Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa,” by Lara-Ann de Wet (documentary)

    In Limpopo, South Africa, the village grannies lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way down the field — and through centuries of oppressive taboos. They play serious soccer and then break into the laughter and traditional song that help fuel their singular struggle for decent lives and a league of their own.

    “The Perfumist,” by Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, Sandra Rivero Ortiz (animation)

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of Machine-Equipped Man against Cosmic Nature. Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    “The Right Way,” by Elena Zobak Alekperov & Flavia Groba Bandeira (animation)

    A short animated story of the day in a mom’s life of raising her young child. While the child tests the mother’s patience, there is a final moment of relief after the mom reveals her secret oasis within the confines of the home.

    santi in italy

    Following the screenings, director Sean Miyakawa spoke in-depth about the making of his original film, “Fumo.”

    Additionally, “The Life of Janka” director of photography Leandro Mouro spoke about his cinematography on Luis Henriquez Viloria’s film, shot in Haiti.

    The prestigious Venice International Film Festival will continue to run until September 10, 2016.

  • MFA Acting Alumna Featured in Video with “The Rock”

    ionna meliCan you smell what “The Rock” is cooking? Well, if you can’t, check out the new teaser video created by Studio71, which announces his new YouTube Channel. The video stars MFA Acting for Film alumna Ioanna Meli, and has now received over 1.5 million views.

    After submitting herself to a breakdown for the part, Meli received a call from one of the producers saying they watched her demo reel and wanted to know if she was interested in accepting the part. After a thorough explanation of the role from both the producers and the director, Meli was sold.

    “It’s the first time that I’ve been involved in a project that has reached hundreds of thousands of people within a few hours — and now over 1.5 million views,” said Meli. “I was surprised how fast the news spread across the world; articles started popping up right away, the video was being shared on social media by Dwayne Johnson and his fans, and I was getting messages from friends asking if ‘it was really me in that video The Rock shared on Instagram’! It was very exciting, and slightly overwhelming, I’m not going to lie.”

    The YouTube channel, which launched July 18, will feature Johnson’s own videos, a scripted action series, as well as highlight projects from his production company, Seven Bucks Productions.

    Meli also directed the film “A Little Part of You,” which received Best Short Film as well as Best Actress in a short film at New York City International Film Festival, Best Student Short at California International, and was well received in Madrid and Ioanna’s hometown of Athens, Greece.

    September 1, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1678

  • Acting Chair Lynda Goodfriend Speaks at NYFA Australia Campuses

    Recently, the staff and students of the New York Film Academy Australia — Gold Coast & Sydney campuses — were treated to a Q&A session with the Chair of Acting in Los Angeles, Lynda Goodfriend.

    lynda goodfriend

    Goodfriend spoke honestly and openly about her early beginnings in the performing arts, her early years as a dancer on Broadway, and her success on the iconic American television sit-com “Happy Days,” as well as various film appearances through the years that followed as a teacher and manager.

    During this invaluable session, Goodfriend was able to share her enthusiasm for the craft of acting, and express the hard work and perseverance that is required to be successful in the field.

    “Work harder than everybody else,” she said. “Don’t burn bridges, and never, ever quit.

    lynda goodfriend

    She also broke down some more technical and specific advice, such as:

    • You have to do as much work as you can in your home country; then bring that experience with you. This shows that someone has given you a chance and you have experience to show for it.
    • Never pick your own headshot. Never let your mother pick your headshot. Having a good headshot is part of acting.
    • Without a good headshot, agents won’t look at your resume. Once they do look at your resume, though, they will need a demo reel to show the casting director.
    • It is important to have a demo reel to showcase your work. It should be about 2 minutes. If they can’t see your talent in 30 seconds, they will not watch anything else.
    • The industry has changed drastically. You need to make your own material — create webisodes and put them on YouTube — get yourself out there.

    Goodfriend later took the time to share her experiences as a lecturer and Chair of Acting at the Los Angeles campus, providing valuable insight into the types of degree and long-term programs for students to further study in the U.S., and elaborated on the application process.

    For more information on our Acting for Film programs, please visit nyfa.edu/acting-school.

    August 31, 2016 • Acting, Entertainment Australia, Faculty Highlights • Views: 2833

  • Filmmaking Grads to Screen at Venice Film Festival

    This year’s Venice Film Festival will feature short films from two New York Film Academy Filmmaking alumni. Along with a documentary and two animated shorts, the films will be presented at the NYFA Showcase, which will be introduced on September 1, 2016 by NYFA alumnus Giorgio Pasotti (“The Great Beauty,” “After Midnight,” “Salty Air”) at the brand-new Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel.

    life of janka

    One of the films, “The Life of Janka,” directed by NYFA alumnus Luis Henriquez Viloria, focuses on the story of two brothers from a very poor village in Haiti who are kidnapped by an organization of child traffickers.

    “Because of its honest performances, beautiful cinematography, and tasteful direction, ‘The Life of Janka’ is not only very engaging, but provides a poignant glimpse into the world of Haitian youth after the devastating earthquake of 2010,” said NYFA Academic Chair, Arthur Helterbran.

    After the massive earthquake in 2010, a lot of people went to Haiti to help, but another group of people went there to take advantage of the situation. This is what the filmmaker hopes to finally expose.

    “This will be the first time this fact will be exposed through film,” says Henriquez Viloria. “It’s interesting how many people know about the earthquake, but do not know about the kidnappings.”

    Henriquez Viloria is currently working on the feature length of “The Life Of Janka,” which he hopes will provide more details as to how everything was happening from other point of views.

    Fumo

    “Fumo”

    Another very captivating film that will be screening in Venice is from NYFA Filmmaking alumnus Sean Miyakawa. His film, “Fumo,” set in the mid-1920s, is about a frustrated sound composer working as one of the first sound engineers in the history of cinema, and just so happens to be madly in love with the main actress of the production. On the day he decides to finally declare his love to her, he finds out about an affair going on between her and the director. The discovery drives him crazy.

    “’Fumo’ is a visually and sonically arresting love story that is equally sweet, sincere, and sardonic,” says Helterbran. “I have not seen many student films that move me the way that Sean Miyakawa’s surreal romantic-romp ‘Fumo’ does.”

    August 31, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2855

  • NYFA Takes Over Brazilian Film Festival in the US

    Five out of nine films selected for the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival this year are either from NYFA students or from recent grads.

    After the success of the Olympic Games in Rio, a new competition for Brazilian filmmakers is about to begin. It’s the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival (LABRFF), in which the New York Film Academy (NYFA) is already leading the pack. The official selections of the festival were announced earlier this month, and in the category that rewards short films made by Brazilians in the US, five out of nine films selected are either from NYFA students or from recent grads.

    Winners will be announced on September 20th, but for now we present the selected NYFA filmmakers and their films, which will be screened to the entertainment industry in Los Angeles from the 16th.

    the dress

    on set of “The Dress”

    Publicist Raphael Bittencourt competes with “The Dress,” which is his first year’s project for the NYFA MFA in Filmmaking in Los Angeles. The outfit in question serves as a pivot to introduce family issues between the father and his daughters.

    Despite having solid experience in cinematography and advertising in Brazil, Bittencourt came to study at NYFA to network with high caliber professionals and discover technical differences between shooting in his country and in the US. “No school can compete with NYFA in terms of equipment usage,” said Bittencourt. “In our second class, we headed out with a camera in hand, learning by practicing. In Brazil, colleges end up developing film critics, because everything is more theoretical.”

    under water

    “Under Water”

    Family drama also inspires “Under Water: Dive Deep” by MFA in Filmmaking student Lucas Paz. His film portrays the redemption journey of a mother when she returns to the beach where she lost her son in the sea. There, she meets fantastical characters that share unusual experiences, shedding light into her lament.

    For Paz, the face-to-face contact with movie idols, visiting NYFA as guest speakers, is one of the greatest school highlights. He also points out the possibility of students filming their own projects on film (and not only in video) as another big advantage.

    Paz produced another film selected by the festival as well: “Match,” starring Brazilian actor Domingos Antonio (“Blindness,” by Fernando Meirelles) and Puerto Rican actress Laura Alemán (Crackle’s series “Cleaners“). The film deals with the apathy and emptiness of the virtual relationships through smart phone dating apps.

    food for thoughts

    “Food for Thoughts”

    Director Luisa Novo is also a MFA in Filmmaking student at the Los Angeles campus. Her short “Food for Thoughts” was made after she completed the One-Year Filmmaking Conservatory at the school. “I wanted to shoot a film in between my programs and I proposed the idea to my former classmate Jordan Scott, who joined the project as Director of Photography,” she recalls.
    The starting point of “Food for Thoughts” is a relationship breakup with a chef, which leads Hope — played by American actress Brittany Falardeau, who attended a 4-Week Acting Workshop at NYFA — to recall her past relationships and come to a realization that will lead to a major life change.
    red souls

    “Red Souls”

    Brazilian actresses Paula Soveral and Valeria Guimarães also shot their film after graduation. Following the completion of their One-Year Acting Conservatory, in October 2014, they decided to develop a project where they could showcase their talent in English and Portuguese. “We wanted to overcome the accent barrier, showing our full potential,” says Soveral. Thus arose the short “Red Souls,” selected for LABRFF this year. The film shows the drama experienced by women recruited in Brazil under false promises of high financial gains that end up in the US as sex slaves.
    To produce their short film, Soveral and Guimaraes had the support of the Industry Lab, the NYFA department that works as a production company, intermediating real client demands for audiovisual products, which are entirely delivered by students and recent graduates.

    Soveral and Guimarães wrote the screenplay and produced it, also shining on the screen. To direct, they invited another NYFA grad, Indian Aditya Patwardhan, with whom Soveral had worked with previously. “This interaction with different cultures is one of the best things about NYFA,” says the director, who got his MA in Film & Media in 2014. Patwardhan enjoyed working with Brazilians so much that this year he directed “When Red is White,” starring well-known Brazilian actress Thaila Ayala and Al Danuzio, who is currently enrolled in NYFA’s BFA in Acting.

    August 30, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3623

  • Two Animated NYFA Shorts to Screen at Venice Film Festival

    In addition to the two live action shorts and a documentary short, the New York Film Academy will be screening two animated short films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

    Both films were created in NYFA’s 3D Animation program as collaborative projects.

    the right way

    still from “The Right Way”

    One of the films, “The Right Way,” was created by Elena Zobak Alekperov and Flavia Groba Bandeira. The short story is about a mom trying to do the right thing raising her child, but sometimes things are not what they seem to be.

    “The inspiration behind this video was taken from my life,” says Zobak. “I wanted to share my experience of being a parent and trying to do the right thing with everyday life choices. And since sometimes we’re a little bit hypocritical with all this ‘right approach,’ this funny scenario just came to mind.”

    Flavia was responsible for environment design as well as the overall look.

    “I tried to fit the environment to the characters personality or, in the case of the girl, her imposed personality by the mother,” said Groba.

    “It sounds trite to ‘write what you know,’ but by doing so, this team was able to tap into the emotions—humor, frustration, love, contradiction—that make this mother-daughter relationship so relatable, and so funny,” said NYFA 3D Animation & Game Design Chair, Phoebe Elefante. “The high level of technical expertise exhibited in the production is seamless, so the audience can be completely immersed in the storytelling. That’s the kind of mastery to which we encourage all students to aspire.”

    the perfumist

    still from “The Perfumist”

    The other animated film that will screen at the NYFA Showcase in Venice is “The Perfumist,” which was a collaborative effort amongst several animation students — Yukari Akaba, Shannon Lee, Daniela Lobo Dias, and Sandra Rivero Ortiz.

    “The Perfumist” is a dramatic story highlighting the battle of “Machine-Equipped Man” against “Cosmic Nature.” Seeking the perfect scent for his perfume, Benedict Malville runs into the consequences of trampling on sacred, natural ground.

    “I love this short film for many reasons,” said Elefante. “Its exquisite beauty, its dark humor, its depth. But I am most proud of this short because it is creative collaboration at its best. Each woman worked to showcase the others’ talent, and together they were able to produce something exceptional — even beyond what each could have done by herself. That embodies the spirit of ambition and cooperation I hope to see in every student.”

    The animated shorts will be introduced on September 1st by NYFA alumnus Giorgio Pasotti (“The Great Beauty,” “After Midnight,” “Salty Air”) at the brand-new Venice Production Bridge platform at the Spazio Incontri of Venice’s Excelsior Hotel.

    August 30, 2016 • 3D Animation, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2007

  • NYFA Alumna’s “Alive and Kicking” Documentary to Screen at Venice Film Festival

    lara-ann

    Lara-Ann de Wet

    One of the more successful films to come out of the New York Film Academy in recent years is Lara-Ann de Wet’s documentary short, “Alive and Kicking.” Her film has screened at numerous film festivals, including SXSW, Brooklyn Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, and Docs NYC, where her film won Jury Prize for “Spirited Storytelling.” Next up, de Wet will be taking her film to the 73rd Annual Venice Film Festival, where it will screen with four other NYFA short films.

    “Alive & Kicking” is a triumphant story about elderly African women who have taken their health and happiness into their own hands by taking up the game of soccer. It is a story that celebrates the fact that even against the harsh and desolate realities of their lives, living in extreme poverty and crime, and surrounded by death and disease, these African grandmothers are able to create a joyful space whereby they can celebrate being alive and physically able. Not only that, but through the love and guidance of their coach Jack, and Founder Mama Beka, these grannies run and kick their way down the soccer field more impressively than most young people in their community.

    “More often than not we are often only given the unfavorable social and economic statistics of what life is like in rural Africa or South Africa without any documented account of the culture and vibrancy often found within the rural communities,” said de Wet. “Being South African, there are so many wonderful stories that have yet to be told and need to be brought to the world stage.”

    De Wet says her film also celebrates the African women as being a pillar of strength in their society as well as the importance role exercise and community can play as a means to deal with physical or mental illness.

    Alive & Kicking Trailer from Lara-Ann de Wet on Vimeo.
    “My NYFA Doc experience was invaluable in terms of equipping me with the skills and insight I needed to direct this film,” said de Wet. “Prior to my one year conservatory course in documentary filmmaking I had never in fact made a film before, as I had been working in a management role at a brand consultancy. The course not only taught me the technicalities of shooting, editing, producing and directing, but more importantly the elements and critical thinking behind what makes a good story; and how to convey that to an audience. Doing the one year documentary course at NYFA may have been the most worthwhile investment I have ever made and, considering this film was my thesis film, I attribute nearly all I have learned to my training at the New York Film Academy.”

    De Wet continues to work as a freelance editor and producer on other documentaries. She is also in the process of applying for funding to make a second film about surf therapy in South Africa.

    “My goal is to continue to direct and tell stories that shine a light on African Culture,” she says.

    August 29, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1659

  • NYFA Grads Team Up for Thriller “Ryde”

    rydeIf you rely on ride share systems like Uber and Lyft, you may be reconsidering after watching “Ryde,” written, directed and produced by New York Film Academy alumnus, Brian Visciglia, and co-written and edited by NYFA alumnus, Dustin Frost.

    The thriller/horror film is about a cereal killer that uses ride share systems to lure victims in and kill them.

    “The story serves as an awareness for all of us using these ride share apps and, even for the drivers, to be more conscious and vigilant with the service,” said Visciglia. “Pay attention to the correct driver, vehicle, and even clients. It’s a great system and very useful, but as always all good can be misused and/or abused.”

    The idea for the film came about after Visciglia noticed a couple of intoxicated young girls calling for a cab — he wondered about their safety. A few weeks later, his friend and fellow NYFA alumnus Olavo Jr. DaSilva asked him to write a thriller for a short. Visciglia decided to update “Taxi” to a more popular and relevant transportation method — ride sharing.

    The film was shot with the ARRI mini Alexa in and around Los Angeles, including Hollywood Blvd where the crew had to prepare and shoot a car crash.

    “I learned a lot from my two years at NYFA,” said Visciglia. “I used that knowledge to write, organize, pre-produce, and execute everything leading up to this feature.”

    As for some advice from the first time feature filmmaker, Viscigilia says, “Practice, practice, practice. Do, do! do! Don’t give up hope. Do everything with passion. Nobody wants it as much as you, so you have to keep the energy and morale going. Read. Research. Pay attention in class. Also, this is ‘art’ as well as business, stay true to your art and stay within your budget.”

    August 26, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1431

  • NYFA Game Design at Revolutionary Learning 2016

    Last week, New York Film Academy NY Chair of Animation & Game Design Phoebe Elefante hosted the first ever Pitch Contest Game for participants of Revolutionary Learning 2016. The conference, which took place at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel, focused on innovation in game-based learning – a sizable, and very profitable sector of the larger game industry.

    The conference featured a long list of influencers in the GBL space, kicking off with legendary keynote speaker Ian Livingstone (founder of Eidos, the company that created Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), and concluding with an inspirational talk by Rebecca Rufo-Tepper (game-learning evangelist and Program Director for the Institute of Play). Other featured speakers included NYC locals Nicholas Fortugno of Playmatics, Scott Brewster of Electric Funstuff, Jordan Shapiro Senior Fellow at Sesame Workshop, and Justin Leites, President of Amplify.

    game design

    The Pitch Contest Game, designed and run by Ms. Elefante and NYFA NY Game Design alumna Nina Mirhabibi, guided participants through a game concept development process, which resulted in a short pitch presentation to the audience and an illustrious panel of judges, which included: Dr. Elena Bertozzi (founder of the Engender Games Group at Quinnipiac University), Michael Gi (Play Designer at BrainPOP), and Bert Snow (VP of Design at Muzzy Lane Software). The panel also featured a student judge, Mickell Ford Jr., member of Mouse.org and starting freshman in the Design and Technology program at Parsons. The winning team created a game called Amor Vincit Omnia, designed to teach ethics to students in middle school and up. The Crowd Favorite award was given to the team that created Pitch Deck, a game for MBA students and aspiring entrepreneurs that aims to bring humor to the high pressure investor pitch.

    “We designed the Pitch Contest Game to bring conference participants together, encourage collaboration, have fun, and design games. None of the players knew each other at the beginning, and all of the teams have plans to continue development of their concepts into playable games,” said Ms. Elefante. “That’s a big win.” All of the activities and design documentation used to help participants design their games are now available on the Revolutionary Learning Blog.

    phoebe

    The educational games market in the US is estimated at $1.5 billion. According to Ms. Elefante, NYFA students aren’t required to make learning games, but “I always encourage our students to consider the marketplace — there are countless opportunities for game designers and developers if you know where to look.”

    Unlike other top game design schools, NYFA’s Game Design School offers a course that challenges students to lead their own Game Studio with two other classmates. Throughout the semester, students receive coding support and mentorship from professional game programmers, developers, and instructors. This focused effort and unique approach of pairing students with professionals allows students to create their own digital game by the end of the semester.

    August 25, 2016 • Community Highlights, Game Design • Views: 604