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  • Face 2 Face by New York Film Academy’s Matt Toronto Now on Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Instructor Matt Toronto has just signed a two-year deal with Netflix to stream his film Face 2 Face.

    Together with his brother Aaron, Toronto wrote Face 2 Face about growing up in the age of social media. The film screened at the Manhattan Film Festival and had its premiere at the Edmonton International Film Festival, where it won the jury award for innovation.

    The movie follows two teenagers, Teel and Madison, who rekindle a childhood friendship online. Soon, they begin sharing their lives over the internet as a means of coping with the typical problems of adolescent life even though they are at opposite ends of the popularity spectrum. Madison in an A-list party girl, and she takes pity on Teel, the social outcast, vowing to help him win friends on social media.

    As their relationship deepens, Madison falls for Teel. She forces him to confess the hidden cause of the bullying he faces. His admission sets off a sequence of events that ultimately motivates Madison to expose her own secret. This digital coming-of-age story examines some of the most pressing and difficult social issues facing teenagers today.

    The story was inspired by a vacation Toronto took with his family years ago. While directing a play at the University of Utah, Toronto would FaceTime his wife and kids every night before bed.

    “At one point, the thought struck me,” Toronto said, “If we were talking about something interesting, this could be a movie.” That was when he decided to write a movie that takes place completely over video chat.

    As a professor working with young people, Toronto saw the effects social media had on his students. “I was working with young people all of the time. I could see how they interact with technology,” he said. “Teenagers seemed like natural choices for the heroes of the film.”

    As he dove further into the script, he decided to reach out to his brother, a counselor who has treated many people struggling with the same issues that Madison and Teel face in the script. “Aaron was able to bring a real authenticity to the characters and their development,” Toronto said. “But one of the most important inspirations came from a close cousin of ours who suffered in much the same way that Madison does in the film. We made this film in her honor.”

    Face2Face | New York Film Academy

    Some of the issues that the film focuses on include bullying, sexual identity, suicide, and sexual abuse. Raising awareness was a vital part of the filmmaker’s goals, but Toronto described a realistic and honest portrayal of friendship as the true heart of the film: “The film is about the power that friendship has to help us change, to help us become better people, and to help others as well. I hope the movie will inspire people to be friends. We can all be better friends to anyone who needs one. That’s the kind of thing that changes lives.”

    Toronto credited his time with the New York Film Academy to opening his worldview. The diversity of the school’s student body, in particular, had a profound effect on him. “I learn every time I teach,” he said. “That diversity has brought new insights and perspectives that I might never have found. Each student expands my point of view on the world and on the craft.”

    As an Acting for Film instructor stepping behind the camera, Toronto was able to bring a lot of the lessons from his classroom to the set. “My experience as an actor and an acting teacher are both essential to my work as a director. Actors are the humans that give life to the characters in a script. My background allows me to participate in that process with skill and compassion. I see my actors as designers.”

    To any actors looking to make their debut behind the camera, Toronto offered this advice: “Learn the craft of directing.”

    Matt Toronto | New York Film Academy

    NYFA Acting for Film Instructor Matt Toronto

    As intense as it is to learn the craft of acting, it’s equally important to focus on the details of directing. Toronto warned that it takes years to master directing, but there’s no better time to start than now. “The best actor/directors are the ones that respect both crafts, and put in the effort to grow as artists and storytellers throughout the entire process and on every project.”

    Toronto is working on several new projects. He’s keeping it a family affair, working with his wife to develop three television pilots and a feature, and working on two features with his brother, Aaron Toronto. Though it’s thrilling to see his film as he scrolls through Netflix, Toronto says that hasn’t been the most rewarding part.

    “About a week after it was released,” Toronto began, “I got a message from a viewer through the film’s website. In it, she shared that she was a teenager struggling with depression. She had been planning to commit suicide, but after watching Face 2 Face, she decided she wanted to live. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Knowing that our film had helped someone in such a profound way is worth more to me than all of the artistic accomplishments in my entire life. That’s what art is all about.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Toronto on all of his hard work. Face 2 Face is now available on Netflix in the U.S.

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  • New York Film Academy Alum DonnaLee Roberts in Production for Stroomop in South Africa

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    DonnaLee Roberts via IMDB

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film grad DonnaLee Roberts is a model for on-screen performers seeking to build their own career, their way.

    The prolific, award-winning South African performer-turned-writer/producer is now shooting feature-length adventure film Stroomop, in which she not only stars but also serves as co-writer and co-producer.

    Stroomop is the directorial debut of Roberts’ frequent collaborator and fellow South African A-lister Ivan Botha, who shared the screen with Roberts in South African blockbusters Vir Altyd and Pad na jou Hart, which the team also co-wrote and co-produced.

    Screen Africa reports that Stroomop is slated for a nationwide release on South Africa’s Women’s Day, Aug. 9, 2018, through the distributor Ster-Kinekor Entertainment.

    Roberts, who holds South Africa’s prestigious Huisgenoot Tempo Award for both Best Actress and Best Feature Film, told Screen Africa that she did some serious water training in preparation for Stroomop, which follows five women on a whitewater rafting misadventure on the Orange River.

    “My character finds herself in a situation where she must take the lead in rough waters,” Roberts said, “So it was crucial for me to be fully prepared for the challenges of filming on the river.”

    At a moment when the eyes of the world are on Hollywood’s gender imbalance, it’s especially exciting to see Roberts leading the way both on screen and behind-the-scenes as a content creator. Roberts summed up her strong work ethic and inspiring outlook well in a previous interview with the NYFA Blog:

    “In this industry we are all creative beings. Create the world you want to play in, create the characters you want to portray. It takes long hours of hard work, commitment and passion to make your dreams come true. The 8-Week Acting for Film Program at the New York Film Academy inspired and motivated me even more. I thought, I can now do this by myself. I don’t need to wait for success to fall onto my lap.”

    Bravo, DonnaLee!

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  • PBS NewsHour’s Jane Ferguson Visits New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    As an international correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, Jane Ferguson is always on the go. This month, she found time in her busy schedule to visit New York, so that she could meet with the Broadcast Journalism students at the New York Film Academy.

    Based in Beirut, Jane currently covers stories in the Middle East, as well as portions of Africa and South Asia. After screening examples of her work, she explained to the students the “story behind the story” — what it took to first find, then report, shoot and edit these reports.

    She also discussed a concern shared by all students: “How do you get your first job?”

    One of the highlights of the session was an opportunity for students to talk one-on-one with Jane, where she answered their individual questions as well as helped them practice the essential art of “networking.”

    Jane’s visit was one of a series of unique experiences available exclusively to students in NYFA’s 1-Year Broadcast Journalism Conservatory program. In addition to meeting outstanding news reporters, producers and executives, students also get behind-the-scenes tours of NBC News and other major New York City production facilities.

    The New York Film Academy thanks Jane Ferguson for sharing her expertise with our students.

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    March 21, 2018 • Academic Programs, Broadcast Journalism, Guest Speakers • Views: 732

  • A Woman’s Place is in the Industry: A Women’s History Month Discussion at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    On International Women’s Day, March 8, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles campus welcomed 10 outstanding panelists for a dynamic and informative discussion entitled, A Woman’s Place is in the Industry

    The event was organized by NYFA Los Angeles Acting for Film Chair Lynda Goodfriend, and co-moderated by Head of MFA Feature Production Lydia Cedrone and Dean of Academic Advising Mike Civille.

    Panelists discussed the industry’s current climate, and offered their advice to students embarking on their careers. In a lively discussion, they shared both personal and professional reflections on their respective careers. 

    Each guest expressed her support of the New York Film Academy’s efforts to offer such a progressive and meaningful forum for women. 

    The evening ended with a lively Q&A with the audience. Several students asked pertinent questions about the direction the industry is heading, and learned from the panelists how the industry culture and women’s roles are changing — and how women can share an equal position in the industry.

    One student asked, “What is the most important thing that needs to change for women in the Entertainment Industry?”

    Actress Barbara Bain’s answer was to the point. “We need to pay women the same as men for the same work.”

    Dea Lawrence added, “We also need more women in positions of power … in the boardrooms, that’s where the decisions really get made.”

    The panelists suggested to our students that a greater emphasis on diversity in front of the camera, behind the camera, and in the content that is written and released, would lead to richer creative output without affecting the bottom line.

    The all-female panel included:

    Barbara Bain

    Three-time Emmy award-winning actress Barbara Bain is perhaps most recognized for portraying Cinnamon Carter in the popular Mission Impossible television series. Also well known for her philanthropy work, Barbara is the founder of the Screen Actors Guild “BookPals” Program, which promotes reading to children in schools throughout Los Angeles.

    Kelly Gilmore

    Former Senior Vice President of Global Toys at Warner Bros Consumer Products, Kelly Gilmore is responsible for licensing intellectual properties such as DC Comics, Harry Potter, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes to major global toy companies, including Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master and Funko. When Kelly retired in 2016, her team had the biggest financial year of her career, winning a total of nine awards. 

    Ronnie Yeskel

    Casting Director Ronnie Yeskel’s numerous high-profile film and television credits include such iconic films as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction for director/writer Quentin Tarantino. In television, her credits include Curb Your Enthusiasm for Larry David. 

    Lisa Guerriero

    Camera operator Lisa Guerriero has worked on numerous films and television series as an operator and member of the camera crew. A trailblazer in this predominantly male-driven department, her credits include Suicide Squad, Mission Impossible and Fight Club, as well as the widely popular TV series Mad Men

    Elvi Cano

    Elvi Cano is the executive director at Egeda U.S. Elvi and her team in Los Angeles and Miami provide assistance to Spanish and Latin American filmmakers, and serve as a liaison between the U.S. film industry and those of Spain and Latin America. She is actively involved in the annual Platino Awards of Iberoamerican Cinema in Panama, Spain and Uruguay.  

    Jeanette Collins

    Veteran writer and producer Jeanette Collins began her writing career with partner Mimi Friedman on In Living Color, where they were nominated for an Emmy. Their many credits include A Different World, Suddenly Susan, Will and Grace, two seasons on HBO’s acclaimed Big Love, and Dirt. They are currently developing a mini-series for HBO about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

    Winship Cook

    Film, television and theater producer Winship Cook’s Paramount TV series credits include Down Home and Fired Up. She co-executive produced the Hallmark Channel movie The Family Plan.  Winship’s film credits include 102 Dalmatians starring Glenn Close and K-19: The Widowmaker directed by Kathryn Bigelow. She also developed and produced its off-Broad incarnation RFK, an award-winning show directed by Larry Moss. 

    Dea Lawrence

    As the Chief Marketing Officer for Variety, Dea Lawrence is responsible for driving Variety’s global branding and communications strategy — including overseeing the marketing and production of their 70 annual events and summits, and the Variety Content Studio, which creates storytelling for brands. 

    Valorie Massalas

    Casting director and producer Valorie Massalas’ numerous credits include such blockbuster films as Back to the Future 2 & 3 directed by Robert Zemeckis, Indiana Jones, and Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. 

    Jana Winternitz

    Award-winning producer and actress Jana Winternitz has worked with Legendary, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Focus Features. Jana enjoys generating strong and complex female roles for the screen. 

    We thank each guest for her participation!

     

     

     

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    March 20, 2018 • Acting • Views: 613

  • Asset TV, Coffee Time, GeekWire, and Latin America’s Largest Newspaper Feature Broadcast Journalism Grads

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    Want to get a top job in Washington, DC? The secret is to get interviewed by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism grad Gillian Kemmerer … OK, maybe that’s not the way. But it seems to have worked for President Trump’s new economic advisor.

    Gillian is anchor as well as head of programming at Asset TV, which is out to become the “go-to” source for business and financial news. Plus, she even got a mention last week in an item by legendary New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams. I think that is a first for NYFA!

    Meanwhile, there is more great news from Brazil…

    Paula Varejao’s wonderful series Tá na Hora do Café (Coffee Time) is back for a second season on Globo’s satellite channel. Paula has traveled around the world looking at the culture and traditions that surround this most beloved of breakfast beverages. She wrote, via Facebook:
    “É hoje a estreia da segunda temporada do Tá na Hora do Café, dessa vez pelo mundo! Às 22h30 no Mais Globosat (canal 544 da Net). Olha um pouco do que vem por aí!”

    (Today is the premiere of the second season of Tá na Hora do Café, this time around the world! At 22:30 pm on the globosat (Channel 544 of the net). Take a look at what’s coming!)
    Staying in Brazil … OK, Brasil … Last week I heard by email from recent NYFA grad Isabella Faria.
    A lot of things happened in the last few months so I’ll try to sum everything up! When I was finishing the workshop in NYC, a job came up. The description was simple: “You will shoot some stories and edit videos for the biggest newspaper in Latin America, Folha de S.Paulo.” I said: “Why not? It is exactly what I have been doing for the past two months.” I applied and, one week later, I was back in Brazil talking to my future co-workers … I’m really happy and thankful for the job and for the workshop. Thanks to NYFA, I am at the biggest newspaper in Latin America.

    Here is one of her stories, about the high price of public transportation in São Paulo. Isabella edited it herself! As she did this story about the 50th birthday of the most famous dance company in São Paulo.

    See, newspapers aren’t just newspapers anymore…

    Finally, I heard via Facebook from Summer Session grad Starla Sampaco. Who, among her many talents, “speaks” emoji…

    “Hi friends! Very excited to announce that I’ve accepted an offer to host and produce videos for GeekWire. Check out the pilot episode of GeekWire’s new online show, TLDR.
    It’s a quick daily rundown on all things tech
    .” 🎥🤓🤖
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  • New York Film Academy Alum Alex Kahuam’s So, You Want to Be a Gangster? on Amazon Prime

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking alum Alex Kahuam’s latest feature film, So, You Want to Be a Gangster?, is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

    Alex Kahuam directing So, You Want to Be a Gangster? via IMDB

    Shot in just three weeks, the dark comedy was inspired by the work of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Kahuam credits his education at NYFA and the amazing crew he met there for his success.

    Kahuam wanted to explore a black-comedy action film.  So, You Want to Be a Gangster? is a film about an unsuccessful actor named Victor, whose friends decide to enter him in a poker tournament to cheer him up — not realizing that the American mafia controls the game. When a fight breaks out, Victor is kidnapped and trapped inside a warehouse with the leader of the Yakuza and the head of a Mexican cartel.

    “I wanted to make something similar to my idols,” Kahuam says, pointing to his influences. “They make fun of reality, but at the same time manage to have some sort of political or moral message in the end.”

    For a true homage, Kahuam filmed So, You Want to Be a Gangster? in the same style as his cinematic heroes, implementing long takes.

    Long takes are challenging for a number of reasons: The actors have to nail every line of dialogue and every part of the blocking, the lighting has to be perfect throughout the entire shot, and crews will go through multiple tests to make sure everything runs smoothly.

    With such a short production schedule, Kahuam had to think and move quickly.

    “We didn’t have that luxury of time but we were able to manage,” explains Kahuam. “You have to be able to show your cast and crew that everything is okay. As the director, you’re the captain. Everyone is looking at you.”

    Kahuam says he was driven by this challenge. “We had long, complicated action scenes, stunts, pyrotechnicians, blood, makeup, prosthetics, squibs, etc. All those things that I just mentioned take a lot of time to coordinate and execute. I think the cast and crew did an awesome job. I’m really happy with the results.”

    Kahuam credits his education at NYFA with his ability to cope with the demanding schedule.

    “NYFA really instills two things in its students,” he says. “The first is teamwork. The second is to use the time at school to make mistakes.”

    Kahuam went on to explain that making mistakes in a safe environment allowed him to learn more quickly: “When you’re making a feature, you don’t have time to make mistakes. You can only rely on the team that is surrounding you.”

    Kahuam has been excited to share So, You Want to Be a Gangster? with audiences around the world. Now, distribution with Amazon has allowed him to attain this goal.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Kahuam on all of his success. We look forward to the next project!

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  • Gold Dust Screening and Q&A with Cinematographer Egor Povolotskiy at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    Following his recent write-up as one of the Rising Stars of Cinematography in American Cinematographer magazine, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Cinematography graduate Egor Povolotskiy returned to visit NYFA Los Angeles to present a feature film that he photographed.  

    Gold Dust is a feature-length adventure film about two treasure hunters searching for gold in the desert, who accidentally uncover a smuggling operation. Egor described it as a “family movie,” referring to both the story’s theme of friendship over material wealth, as well as the process of making the movie with a tight-knit crew that came to feel like a family by the end of the shoot.  

    Egor praised writer and director David Wall for the strong script and excellent performances in the film, and for creating an atmosphere of collaboration. Wall was also present for the screening, along with many members of the cast and crew who came out to participate in the NYFA Guest Speaker Series event.  

    Following the screening, Povolotskiy took part in a Q&A session moderated by Associate Chair of Cinematography Mike Williamson. He discussed some of the challenges of making this project on a low budget, and his desire to work quickly to maximize the time available on set. Povolotskiy offered praise for his crew, many of whom he first worked with during his time as a NYFA student, noting that he could not have achieved the look of the film without their hard work.

    He offered advice to the Cinematography students in attendance, speaking about the importance of finding good crew members and trusting them to do their work without micro-management. He also discussed some of the technical challenges of the film, including his use of classic “day-for-night” techniques for the massive night exterior scenes in the desert.

    When asking questions, many of the NYFA students in attendance raised topics like how to break into the business, what films have inspired him, and how to pick the best visual approach for a project. Povolotskiy answered their questions, and reminded the students that the cinematographer must create visuals that support the actors and the story, and not merely create pretty pictures. He discussed the importance of picking good projects with strong scripts, rather than looking for projects with big budgets.

    Since graduating, Povolotskiy has photographed eight feature films, and continues to collaborate with fellow NYFA alumni — including many producers, directors, and crew members. His films have played festivals in many countries, and have won awards such as the Festival Trophy and Audience Award for Best Short Film. In addition to working as part of these successful teams, Povolotskiy himself has collected several nominations for his work as a cinematographer. He has two wins for Best Cinematography at the Hollywood International Moving Picture Film Festival and the WIND International Film festival. He has photographed major actors including Malcolm McDowell, Chris Hemsworth, Steven Bauer, and Eric Roberts.

    Povolotskiy’s next feature film stars Taye Diggs, John Cusack and George Lopez.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Egor Povolotskiy, director David Wall, and the cast and crew of Gold Dust for sharing the evening with our student community.

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  • Felix Everding on Inspiration, German Soap Operas, and What to do in New York City

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    For international film buffs, Felix Everding is becoming a household name. The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Conservatory grad has run the gamut of television roles in his native Germany, from portraying  Mark Böcking in the wildly popular Sturm der Liebe to Dennis Grabowski in the poignant Rote Rosen, Everding is stealing hearts and lighting up screens both large and small across Europe.

    We had a chance to catch up with the busy NYFA grad to hear his advice on finding inspiration at home, preparing for television roles, and what to do when you find yourself in New York City.

    Felix Everding. Photo copyright: Renate Neder.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    FE:  My Name is Felix Everding, and I am an German actor. I grew up in Munich, Germany, and later went to study at the New York Film academy in New York. Today I work as an actor in Germany for television and film.

    I became aware of the New York Film Academy through a friend of mine who I visited in New York. I had always been interested in studying acting in New York, and had done some studying at the Terry Schreiber Studio in New York before. The Academy aspect of NYFA, meaning that the different departments work with each other — filmmakers, actors, producers, etc. — and the international aspect is what got me interested in the New York Film Academy.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you most as an actor?

    FE: I come from a theatre family. My grandfather was a theatre and opera director, and my father is a theatre director as well. I was exposed to theatre and opera at a very young age, and so the magic of the stage and acting captured me quite quickly.

    When I was 16, I knew I wanted to be actor. I think the art of acting is a wonderful tool to bring stories of all sorts closer to the audience, by making it a personal experience and therefore more relatable. We’re storytellers.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    FE: There are many moments I like to look back at from my time at NYFA.

    The acting department becomes great through it’s teachers, and I was lucky to have a couple of really great teachers — some who have actually studied under and worked for Sanford Meisner himself. That was definitely a highlight for me.

    And then, of course, spending lunch breaks and many late nights with my fellow students. There was a certain camaraderie that developed. Still today I call some of my fellow students friends.

    NYFA: As an international student, what surprised you most about living and studying in New York City? What advice would you offer your fellow NYFA students who are pursuing their dreams from around the globe?

    FE: New York in itself is a surprise.

    The city and its energy plays a main part in this whole experience. New York is mind-blowing, especially for a kid from Munich.

    If I had to give one recommendation for New York: WALK! New York is a fantastic walking city. And behind each turn can lay a different world!

    NYFA: You’ve been quite busy working in German television, from Rote Rosen to Sturm der Liebe to Tatort. How do you prepare for your roles?

    FE: That is different for every role. Mostly the first parts you get in television or film are rather small. (Although, of course, the saying is true: there are no small parts, there are only small actors!) So you don’t always get an awful lot to play.  

    Usually I read the script and try to find anything that relates to my character so I can build a certain foundation. Then, step by step, I imagine the world and circumstances my character lives in so I can work out my motivation. And then through learning the lines everything comes together.

    NYFA: In Rote Rosen [Red Roses] you had a long character arc. Can you tell us about that experience?

    FE: In Red Roses I played a character for five months, which gave the chance to really create a character and lead him through a journey — although this experience wasn’t without challenges.

    It’s a daily show, so they shoot one 50-minute episode per day, which means you have very little time on set to try things out. So you really have to have your character and lines set and must be ready to react and change things quite quickly on your feet.

    NYFA: What advice can you offer to NYFA students about transitioning from the classroom to working in television?

    FE:  It’s always different when you’re on a professional set for the first time.

    All you can do is trust the things you learned and be open to learn new things. Just observe how things work on a set and keep an open mind.

    You’ll be fine!

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    FE: I have a couple of TV projects coming up, and a TV movie with a great German director is gonna air pretty soon. I am very excited about that project because I play a dark character, which was a lot of fun.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Felix Everding for sharing a part of his story with the NYFA Blog. Learn more about our Acting for Film courses here.

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    March 15, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 717

  • Celebrating Craig Caton-Largent’s 1st Anniversary as Chair of 3D Animation & VFX at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    Craig Caton-Largent has just marked his first anniversary as Chair of 3D Animation & VFX at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Campus. Caton is renowned in the film industry for his groundbreaking VFX work on beloved blockbusters including Jurassic Park, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Big Trouble in Little China, Edward Scissorhands,  Apollo 13, Tangled, and more.

    To celebrate Craig’s anniversary, we’re sharing some highlights from his first year as chair of the Animation School at NYFA Los Angeles. Here’s looking forward to another great year!

    Building Community

    At Home

    This year, the NYFA Los Angeles 3D Animation School created an art wall and added a display cabinet to show off student work. The wall was a wonderful encouragement and inspiration for 3D Animation & VFX students as they worked on their showcase projects, creating a great talking point in the community and sharing their work with others. It was a great to share all their hard work with the rest of the NYFA community!

    Numbers

    It’s been a big year at the NYfA Los Angeles Animation School — this year we’ve seen a 283% increase in student enrollment in our 3D Animation & VFX programs!

    On Social

    The NYFA Los Angeles 3D Animation & VFX School also joined Instagram this year! Follow “nyfa_animation_gaming” and join the conversation!

    Alumni News & Credits

    It’s been a great year for our NYFA Los Angeles 3D Animation &VFX alumni! Here are some inspiring stories:

    • BFA grad Jessica Chung is the Winner of the LA Livescore Film Festival for Best Original Score for her animation short, Sushi Man.
    • 1-Year Conservatory grad Alex LoRusso isurrently working as an FX Artist at Scanline. Her 2017 major film credits Include Justice League, Pirates 5, & Alien Covenant. She also recently worked on Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
    • 1-Year Conservatory grad Soraia Malaquias is working as a 3D Generalist at TNF Visual Effects. Her impressive list of 2017 film credits Include: American Gods and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
    • 1-Year Conservatory grad Gabriel Fernandez currently works as a Production Assistant at Eight VFX.
    • 1-Year Conservatory alum Ujala Saini is a VFX/Post Production at Electric Theatre Collective.

    Events

    There have been a lot of special events to celebrate this year!

    Monsterpalooza

    Chair Craig Caton’s new animation software Animservo was announced, and NYFA conducted the test phase. The announcement was broadcast live, then received over 20K views in the first hour.

    Siggraph

    SIGGRAPH is the world’s largest, most influential annual conference and exhibition in computer graphics and interactive techniques. Chair Craig Caton gave demonstrations during the course of the convention at the Faceware Technologies booth.

    Motion capture data from Faceware’s Analyzer and Retargeter software was output to an animatronic goblin using Caton’s new animation software, AnimServo.

    Media Lab

    This year also saw NYFA Los Angeles’ launch of the the Media Lab, to create opportunities for students and instructors to collaborate on research projects.

    The first project was testing Chair Craig Caton’s animation software Animservo. With testing successfully completed, Animservo has now be become available at animservo.com.  

    Matt Sheehan has been given directorship of the Media Lab and there is an exciting list of topics coming up … stay tuned!

    Industry Guests

    The New York Film Academy’s Guest Speaker Series saw a number of incredible animation and visual effects artists visit to share their insights with NYFA Los Angeles Animation School students.

    Amy Lawson Smeed, lead character animator of Disney’s Moana, came for a special screening and talk with Chair Craig Caton. That’s not all — NYFA alum Hanna Johansson then had a chance to meet with Amy personally to discuss her reel!

    Amy Lawson Smeed

    Byron Bashforth, character shading lead of Disney’s Coco, revealed more Disney magic in an intimate Q&A with Chair Craig Caton.

    Byron Bashforth answers questions about Disney's Coco at NYFA LA

    Byron Bashforth

    Head of Research and Development of DreamWorks Animation, Jeff Wike, was another honored guest, who treated Animation School students to a remarkable industry insider perspective on the innovation and inspiration behind much of today’s most cutting-edge animation.

    Jeff Wike atNew York Film Academy Los Angeles

    Chair Craig Caton-Largent and Jeff Wikes at NYFA Los Angeles

    Jason Liles, the Lead Actor in Netflix’s DeathNote, gave Animation School students an inside perspective of what it’s like for the actors working on the other side of motion capture technology.

    There are many exciting projects as we move into Chair Craig Caton’s second year of leadership — stay tuned for more. Congratulations, Craig, on a remarkable 1st anniversary!

     

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  • The Greensboro Four Remembered on February One with New York Film Academy Faculty Filmmakers

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    “February One” marked the 58th Anniversary of the Greensboro Four sit-in, and the producers, director, and editor of the award-winning short film, The Counter: 1960 were invited to North Carolina A&T to participate in a commemorative celebration.

    The day culminated with a screening of the film, The Counter: 1960, produced by New York Film Academy’s Chair of the Industry Lab and Producing Instructor Kimberly Ogletree, edited by NYFA’s Leander Sales; directed by Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd, and co-produced and starring Ashley Jackson, daughter of Reverend Jessie Jackson, to commemorate the protest in 1960. The story chronicles three WOKE students who are frustrated by police killings of unarmed black youth and wanting to contribute to positive change, the students experience time travel, finding themselves seated at a lunch counter in 1960 which sparked more civil rights sit-ins across the nation. This is the first award-winning short produced through the NYFA Industry Lab.

     

    In 1960, Jim Crow was the law and segregation was enforced. The flourishing five & dime store Woolworth’s sold inexpensive merchandise to the working middle class but African Americans were only allowed to shop there. Four apoplectic college students from North Carolina A&T decided that, when it came to segregation, enough was enough.

    Committed to making a change, they walked up town and sat down at the F.W. Woolworth “whites only” lunch counter and politely asked to be served. When they were refused, these brave young men remained in their seats. This event immediately sparked national attention. The action of four courageous young men added fuel to an already burning fire, with hope that this injustice would right a wrong through a nonviolent Civil Rights protest — which was only one of many that were spreading across the rural south.

    Hundreds of students, churches, civil rights organizations and members of the community joined the six-month-long protest. And on July 25th, 1960 the Woolworth department store chain ended its policy of racial segregation in its stores across the southern United States.

    New York Film Academy digital editing instructor, Leander Sales, remembers the racial tension in North Carolina: “I grew up in this and that’s what keeps me strong and focused.”

    The anniversary celebration at North Carolina A&T began with the laying of a wreath beneath the bronze statue of the Greensboro Four: Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain (Deceased), David Richmond (Deceased) and Ezell Blair. The event was well attended by the news media, students, young children from nearby elementary schools, and community residents, all present to honor the men.

    The day continued with a packed campus auditorium celebrating the civil rights movement with a panel of A&T students discussing the state of African Americans in 2018.

    After the assembly, a march from North Carolina A&T to the F.W. Woolworth museum was organized.

    As Kimberly Ogletree commented, “This is a monumental moment in my life. As I walk the same path as the Greenboro Four walked I can feel the anxiety they must have felt, because ultimately those young men had no idea if they would leave unscathed and alive because police brutality was an everyday occurrence in the rural south.”

    Once the march arrived at the Woolworth’s, the group was taken on a tour of the museum, where they were able to see the original counter where the sit-in took place in 1960. The celebration continued as The Counter: 1960 filmmakers shared their “February One” experiences and pitched their film on the campus radio station WNAA 90.1 FM, followed by the screening of the film.

    Every seat was filled in the theater and the film was very well received. The panel discussion was educational and informative. As these men were remembered, the celebration paid homage to their sacrifice to stand, sit, kneel and march on. They will forever be remembered in history as the Greensboro Four.

    The New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab in Los Angeles, California provided production services for the short film, which is currently receiving film festival accolades worldwide.

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    March 12, 2018 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 808