Academic Programs

  • NYFA South Beach Open House with Ralph Gibson & Col. Jacobs

    This upcoming Saturday, May 30th, 2015 the New York Film Academy South Beach will be hosting an Open House with special guests: award-winning photographer Ralph Gibson, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs, as well as Director of Performing Arts Enrollment, Roger Del Pozo and NYFA South Beach Filmmaking Instructor, George E. Fernandez.

    miami open house

    Ralph Gibson, who was recently appointed to Chair of the Department of Contemporary Photography at the New York Film Academy, is that rare artist who has touched the masters of the past half century—from the Beat Generation in San Francisco to the vigor of yesterday’s born-digital, cross-media creations. He began his professional career as an assistant to Dorothea Lange and, to date, has published over 40 photography monographs and his photographs are included in over 170 museum collections around the world. Gibson’s awards include fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Lucie Lifetime Award and the Silver Plumb Award.

    ralph gibson photography

    photography by Ralph Gibson

    Colonel Jack Jacobs, the Chair of the New York Film Academy’s Veterans Advancement Program, served in the U.S. Military for more than 20 years and his gallantry in Vietnam earned him the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest combat honor — two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars. Colonel Jacobs is currently a military strategist and on-air analyst for NBC and MSNBC News.

    In addition to his work at NYFA, Roger Del Pozo has also been a casting director in New York for the last 12 years. In that time, he has cast over a thousand television commercials, as well as films, plays, voice overs, video games, music videos and industrials for many of the top Casting Companies and Advertising Agencies in New York. Some projects Mr. Del Pozo has cast include national campaigns for Apple, Microsoft, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sony, General Electric, AT&T, Fisher Price, Nickelodeon, Cheerios, Verizon, Ikea, Nintendo, Toyota, Mercedes and Heineken, just to name a few.

    G.E. Fernandez started out as a writer. His play, Vietnam Trilogy, was a major hit at the Veteran’s Theater in Los Angeles, winning the Drama-logue award of Best Actor for Richard Chavez. His first feature film, Cease Fire, starring Don Johnson, Lisa Blount, went on to become a critical success. Through the 1990’s he started to make entry into the Television World, by creating and producing the European TV Series Pilot Night Screams. Mr. Fernandez has now moved back to South Florida and has created Magic City Distribution & Production, a marketing and distribution company for Indie Films.

    The Open House is open to prospective students and members of the press. If you’re interested in attending or have questions, please email

    May 26, 2015 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights • Views: 395

  • 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: 829

  • Business of Screenwriting Welcomes WGA’s Geoff Betts

    geoff betts
    New York Film Academy Screenwriting students were treated to Writers Guild of America executive Geoff Betts who visited their Business of Screenwriting class to discuss, contract minimums, protections, residuals and other union benefits as future professional screenwriters.

    Betts came into Nick Yellen’s Business of screenwriting class to meet with soon to graduate screenwriters who are positioned to join the WGA in the coming years.

    Also discussed were how their union protects them both here and abroad.

    Students seemed very interested in the guild’s assistance program that reviews screenwriter’s options and other agreements at no cost to them.

    May 21, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 380

  • 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: 749

  • ‘Whatever You Want’ Wins Best Comedy at LA Independent Film Festival

    whatever you want

    Inspired in large part by Robert Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit, New York Film Academy One-Year Filmmaking alumnus Leonardo Bentes’ film, Whatever You Want, which recently won Best Comedy / Dramedy at April’s Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, combines elements of film noir with slapstick comedy. Bentes even admits his protagonist has influences from the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Hong-Kong Phooey. Indeed, all the makings of a silly comedy.

    Whatever You Want, which was Bentes’ NYFA thesis film, focuses on Benjamin Sherman, a clumsy private investigator who begins to work on a case for a beautiful young woman — the femme fatale. As usual, Benjamin doesn’t get things done right.

    leo bentes

    Director Leo Bentes on set of “Whatever You Want”; photo by Lucia Luben

    “Except for some 3D animation training, I hadn’t had any filmmaking background by the time I started my first class at NYFA,” recalled Bentes. “So, basically everything you see in Whatever You Want — not only directing but also writing, producing, editing — came from what I learned in class, workshops and previous projects, classmates collaboration, and some self-study.”

    Bentes feels strongly that his thesis film will serve as his business card into the professional world of directing. While he has began outlining a TV pilot for Whatever You Want, he hopes his next project will be a feature comedy with some musical influence.

    Whatever You Want (trailer) from leo bentes on Vimeo.

    May 20, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 736

  • NYFA Representing at Cannes Short Film Corner

    cannes 2015This year, we have a number of filmmakers representing the New York Film Academy at the Cannes Film Festival. These students and alumni have the incredible opportunity of networking and screening their short films at the Cannes Short Film Corner, which offers industry meets, workshops and conferences that deal with strategic issues.

    Our filmmakers benefit from all the advantages of being a Festival de Cannes accredited attendee, from being able to access the Marché du Film exhibitors or those in the Village International. With the festival officially underway, we’ve been hearing from a number of NYFA filmmakers!

    Below is a list of some of these students and their films. We want to wish them all the best of luck in showcasing their films at Cannes!

    francesco mazza

    Francesco Mazza at Cannes

    Francesco Mazza, Frankie

    Richard Selvi, Datin’ Marvin

    Diego Londono, Medley

    Denis Kulikov, Nadezhda

    Ilya Rozhkov, Sabre Dance

    Aditya Patwardhan, Red House by the Crossroads

    Luis Christian Dilorenzi, Sináptica

    Shantal Freedman, Ticketed

    Raquel Bordin, Tip Toe

    Ricardo Lopez-Franco, Binary Stars

    Gabe Chavez, More than Words

    Victor Olea, The Miracle Archives


  • Mohamed Luqman Wins Best Aspiring Filmmaker Award at ZUMEFF

    mohamed luqman

    film director Mohamed Luqman and co-director Saleh Bin Hallabi receiving the Award from the Acting Provost of Zayed University Marilyn Roberts and the Managing Director of NYFA Abu Dhabi Imad DeirAtany

    Under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Bint Khaled Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development, President of Zayed University, the 6th edition of Zayed University Middle East Film Festival (ZUMEFF) took place on May 17 – 18 at Zayed University Abu Dhabi.

    The Awards Ceremony was held on May 18 at 6.30 pm, where the New York Film Academy offered the Aspiring Filmmaker Award in collaboration with the festival.

    The award went to The Final Chapter by Mohamed Luqman, who will join one of the New York Film Academy filmmaking programs. The program will provide him with intensive training in filmmaking, where he will write, shoot, direct and edit number of films while crewing on others.

    Congratulations to Mohamed Luqman! We’re looking forward seeing him on our set.

    -Imad DeirAtany


    May 19, 2015 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking • Views: 661

  • “Homeland” Executive Producer Gideon Raff Visits NYFA

    Gideon Raff

    Gideon Raff

    On Wednesday, May 14th students gathered in New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles Theater to view the pilot for the recently released TV series Dig followed by a Q&A with Gideon Raff, the show’s co-creator. Gideon “Gidi” Raff is a film and television director, screenwriter, and executive producer. He is best known for the award-winning 2010 Israeli television drama series Prisoners of War (which he created, wrote and directed) and its acclaimed US adaptation, Homeland (for which he won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2012). Raff executive produced and co-created the highly-anticipated series Tyrant in 2014. Gideon directed the award-winning film The Babysitter, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003, and he is also a bestselling fiction author in Israel. His latest TV project, Dig, a ten-episode archaeological thriller about an American FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem, aired recently on the USA Network. The Q&A was moderated by NYFA’s screenwriting instructor Eric Nelson.

    Despite having three shows currently on the the air, Gideon Raff admits that he’s still plagued by the same frustrations and insecurities in writing that he had in film school. Starring at a blank page still intimidates him. He starts to doubt his greatness. Maybe the fact that he’s made a number of hit TV shows is just a fluke… But Mr. Raff does not believe in divine inspiration when it comes to screenwriting; he believes in hard work and perseverance. Gideon pushes those doubts away and ignores the constant stream of excuses his mind makes up to avoid the writing process: “I should go to the gym,” or “I really need to get groceries at Whole Foods.” It’s refreshing to hear that Gideon Raff grapples with the same issues that every writer does and that achieving his level of success is just a matter of… well, hard work and perseverance.

    gideon raff

    Eric Nelson and Gideon Raff

    Gideon starts out with an idea and let’s the story dictate the genre and format. By being sensitive to the needs of the story he’ll know soon if he has a drama or comedy, feature film or TV series on his hands. He often writes alone however on Dig Gideon worked with a co-creator because he was busy also creating his most recent show Tyrant at the same time. Gideon compared the process of writing in a TV show “writer’s room” to group therapy. It’s a very “intimate” process, which can make for an incredible experience or a horrible one. You may spend the day hammering out themes for the season or hearing about a writer’s childhood. Either way it all works to generate ideas.

    A very important element of a good story, according to Gideon, is “delicious characters.” When a student asked Gideon how she too could make her characters “delicious” he said to make them HUMAN. By “human” he further explained that they should be complex and flawed. As an example of this, Gideon referenced Claire Danes’s character in Homeland who has bipolar disorder. What makes her interesting is that she’s an unreliable narrator. We never know which version of her is speaking or if that same version will appear again when it’s time to follow through with what she said before.

    The students were thrilled to gain such valuable knowledge from an entertainment industry heavyweight. We sincerely thank Gideon Raff for visiting NYFA and wish him the best of luck on future projects!

    May 15, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 903

  • NYFA Appoints Celina Clarich Polanco to VP of Global Admissions and Enrollment

    celina polanco

    NYFA Vice President of Global Admissions and Enrollment, Celina Polanco

    The New York Film Academy is delighted to announce the return of Celina Clarich Polanco to its Admissions Team. Ms. Polanco, NYFA’s newly appointed Vice President of Global Admissions and Enrollment, is eager to begin working with New York Film Academy’s sizeable and diverse student body.

    “During the past few years that I’ve been absent from the New York Film Academy, it has grown exponentially in more ways than one,” Ms. Polanco states. She continues, “Not only has NYFA continued to position itself as a premier performing arts school on a global scale, offering students one-of-a-kind education, it has also expanded rapidly in student body as well as opening numerous new locations, both domestically and internationally.”

    Ms. Polanco has over a decade of experience aiding students’ enrollment in tertiary education. She is a former Director of Admissions at numerous performing arts and filmmaking schools, such as New York Film Academy (New York and Los Angeles campuses), New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, School for Film & Television and TVI Acting Studios and was a founding member of the Executive Team of Relativity School.

    As a clinician, Ms. Polanco has taught Audition Technique and The Business of the Business seminars in 30 states and 6 countries. She has also cast projects in New York and Los Angeles for MTV, ABC, FOX, Broadway and hundreds of commercials. As an actor, her favorite roles include “Camila” in the 2nd National Tour of Tony-Award Winning Musical In The Heights, and touring with the USO of Metropolitan NY, opening for Lee Greenwood and Joan Rivers.

    “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to cultivate an admissions philosophy of generosity and thoughtful guidance to a new generation of NYFA students. With over 60 programs in over 15 countries and many new disciplines to offer, at the New York Film Academy I truly believe there is a program for everyone hoping to learn more about this creative world,” concludes Ms. Polanco.

    May 15, 2015 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights • Views: 1429

  • NYFA Alum brings 3D Animation to the Stage

    bob marley

    On Wednesday, May 13, New York Film Academy 3D Animation alumnus and instructor Mark Reynolds stormed Baltimore’s prestigious Center Stage Theater — not as an actor or musician, but as a 3D animator.

    As a member of the animation team for Center Stage’s production of the new musical Marley, a biography of reggae legend Bob Marley, Mark provided 3D models and animation of numerous locations in the play, from Jamaica’s Trench Town slums to the mountains of Ethiopia, and some very specific locations such as Bob Marley’s house and the breathtaking Bet Giyorgis church in Lalibela, Ethiopia. Under the direction of Projections Designer Alex Koch, the team created a stylized look that combines the earthiness of hand-drawn lines and textures with the bold camera movements and dramatic lighting at which computer graphics excel.

    “What we accomplished is pretty remarkable,” Mark says. “The projections and animation run pretty much throughout the play. We essentially made a two-hour animated feature in ten weeks.”

    Mark, who himself completed NYFA’s one-year 3D Animation program in 2013, now teaches at the school, in addition to working as a freelancer. Most recently, his work was seen projected on the H&M tent ceiling at Coachella. “I spent a week making cartoons of cats shooting lasers out of their eyes. It was ridiculous. This is the kind of gig where you can leave work at the end of the day and say, ‘That was so silly. I love my job!'”

    Marley was written and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, and runs through June 14.

    May 14, 2015 • 3D Animation • Views: 847