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  • NYFA South Beach Student Wins Best Short Film at SoFlo WebFest in Miami

    marcus wellsNew York Film Academy South Beach student Marcus Wells won Best Short Film at the South Florida Web Fest (#SOFLOWEBFEST) in Miami for his mid-thesis film, “Soiled Roots.”
    South Florida WebFest is Miami’s premier festival dedicated to web entertainment that brings non-traditional voices of cinema to the forefront. The festival takes place during Miami’s epic art fair – Art Basel.
    “The web truly provides the freedom to tell your own story, and our goal was to ensure that the diversity of South Florida was reflective in this web festival,” said SOFLOWEBFEST Executive Director, Ashlee Thomas. “From Spain, to South Africa, Mozambique, Iran, and the US – SOFLOWEBFEST has niched itself to bring colorful stories from around the world to Miami.”
    Wells’ film is about a black mother who is influenced by her own mother’s drug dealing lifestyle which leads to risking the lives of their family. His story was inspired by NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. When he was 10 years old his mother and grandmother were both arrested for dealing drugs. Thomas’ mother was given the chance to either disclose information about her own mother or to not say anything. His mother decided not to speak and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    “What I hope to achieve with this film is feedback on my creative thinking,” said Wells. “This was my most challenging film thus far and would like others to view this story from my perspective. I also wanted to address the idea of bad seeds being planted within families and passed onto the next generation.”

    south beach marcus wells

    Wells plans on submitting his award-winning short to other local, national and international film festivals.

    He is currently working on his thesis film, which he plans to shoot this coming summer and complete by late summer of 2017.

    “NYFA has definitely given me the tools to create my own vision.,” says Wells. “Every teacher wants us to succeed and offers individual attention so that we can achieve the highest quality work.”

    Located in the heart of South Beach, New York Film Academy in Miami offers a wide range of degree, conservatory, and workshop programs designed for students like Wells to achieve their creative goals through hands-on, project-based curriculum.

    December 12, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1756

  • Film and Video Game Writer Patrick Hegarty Speaks to Business of Screenwriting Class

    patrick hegartyRecently, film and video game writer Patrick Hegarty dropped by New York Film Academy’s Business of Screenwriting class to share his remarkable journey of how this one-time professional NFL football player went on to become a professional screenwriter and video game scribe.

    Hailing from Orange County, CA, Hegarty attended the University of Texas at El Paso, where in addition to playing football on a scholarship, he earned himself a Bachelor of Arts in English. However, in 1989, he was recruited by the Denver Broncos and ended up becoming the back-up quarterback to John Elway and Gary Kubiak.

    After 2 years in the NFL, Hegarty attended the University of Colorado Denver and attained his masters in English. The initial plan was to become a novelist, get his PhD, and teach. And for a while that’s what he did, teaching high school English and writing books.

    However, a unique opportunity came for Hegarty when a friend working in the video game sphere needed a writer to generate announcer commentary material for a new football game they were producing called NFL GAMEDAY, and recruited Hegarty to write the play-by-play dialogue.

    Before long, Hegarty immersed himself in video games, writing the scripts for over a dozen titles for Playstation 1 and 2, including, MLB 2002, The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning and Eragon, becoming a Senior Writer for Sony Computer Entertainment. Currently, he is on assignment for Sony and 2K Games on a variety of different titles.

    However, Hegarty also has pursued an active movie writing career, working on projects with a variety of companies. In the feature space, his script “S.T.E.A.L.” made the Hit List and is in development with Total Entertainment based out Brazil. He’s also working on a feature assignment for the production company Constantin Film (“Pompeii,” “The Resident Evil” franchise, etc.).

    Hegarty shared insights into his process, tips and tactics for navigating reps and executives, and staying true to your work. NYFA thanks Mr. Hegarty for being so gracious with his time and advice.

    December 9, 2016 • Game Design, Screenwriting • Views: 951

  • NYFA Musical Theatre Students Hit the Recording Studio for Upcoming Movie Musical

    In addition to live musical productions at theaters in New York City, the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program produces movie musicals as part of the second year in the program. Students play roles written for them and sing songs specifically composed for them, all within a professional model that results in a state-of-the-art movie musical, which is submitted to film festivals across the country. Past productions have gone on to win awards, including “Start-Up.Com,” which won a Laurel of Excellence Award at the Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network.

    recording studio

    “The New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Department is taking the lead in training young talent not only for the stage but also for careers in the film and television industry,” says NYFA Musical Theatre Chair, Mark Olsen. “A highlight of this experience is when students go to a professional studio and work closely with the engineer and the film’s music director to record their final vocal tracks.”

    The recording session, which recently took place at MonaLisa studios in New York City, is very unique to students as they get the chance to have original material tailored and developed personally to them — i.e. characters, music, etc. The students also have the opportunity to work with renown composers on the material and record in an actual recording studio as part of our music theatre program. No other program can provide this level of professional support.

    recording session nyfa

    The next movie musical, “Alma Mater,” is being directed by NYFA Musical Theatre faculty member, Nathan Brewer, Music Direction by Anna Ebbesen, screenplay by Emily Kaczmarek, with Music and Lyrics by Zoe Sarnak.

    It is a story of two rival roommates in the year 1993 at Beecher College, a fictional and exclusive all-girls school in the Hudson Valley. One roommate is preparing for an important fundraising event by organizing a group called “Beecher College Women of Substance.” The other roommate is organizing a group of her own for the same fundraiser, except this group is centered on the recent rebellious advance of the punk rock “Riot Girrrrrls” movement. Both groups awaken to and express their feminist points of view in ways that polarize them into separate and competing camps.

    nyfa recording

    As they rehearse and prepare for the big event, they overlook members of the computer club who are discovering this new thing called the Internet.

    They create songs, they write manifestos, they stake out separate “headquarters” and emerge to define themselves fiercely, but in completely opposite forms. Finally, after a serious arm wrestling match, members of their respective groups experience a moment of revelation where their combined efforts produce amazing results. The two musical styles and points of view come together in a triumphant song of solidarity. Both groups come to realize that they are actually two sides of the same Susan B. Anthony coin.

    “I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful program learning from working industry professionals,” said NYFA Musical Theatre student, Brielle Carmichael. “There is nothing better than being surrounded by people who share the same passion for their art form as you do.”

    December 8, 2016 • Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 1501

  • NYFA Alumna’s Award-Winning Doc Captures Saudi Arabian Culture

    jameelahComing off of her documentary short film, “Historic Jeddah,” which screened at the International Film Festival Manhattan in 2015, One Year Filmmaking Conservatory Program and the Eight-week Filmmaking Workshop alumna Jameelah Rose Lineses directed a sequel documentary called “Our Journey to Hijaz.” The short film features never-before-seen footage depicting life in Saudi Arabia before the oil boom. It includes reenactments of how people used to live and features a Saudi traditional wedding and a sword dance.

    “My inspiration in making both films ‘Historic Jeddah’ and ‘Our Journey to Hijaz’ was my mother,” said Lineses. “She was the one who motivated me to create films about Saudi Arabia’s history and cultural heritage. There are no films showcasing Saudi Arabia’s history and cultural heritage that have been recognized in any international film festival. There are so many stories to tell relating to Saudi Arabia’s history — stories that are not yet known to the rest of the world and that only a handful of people really know.”

    Lineses’ sequel has been recognized by several film festivals thus far, including:

    Film Festival Director Award for BEST STUDENT FILM
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2013
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Ani Ng Dangal Presidential Awardee for Cinema
    6th ANI NG DANGAL/Harvest of Honors 2014
    National Commission for Culture and the Arts
    Manila, Philippines

    Most Popular IFFM Film Promo for “Historic Jeddah” (Saudi Arabia)
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2015
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Honorable Mention for “Our Journey to Hijaz” (Saudi Arabia)
    International Film Festival Manhattan 2016
    New York City, New York, U.S.A

    Lineses says that although she’s been living in Saudi Arabia for her entire life, there are still many things she doesn’t know about her country’s history and cultural heritage.

    “It was only early last year when I started to learn about it on my own by attending cultural events and tours,” said Lineses. “I also discovered that my mother’s first sponsor — when she came to Saudi Arabia — was a member of the Naseef family.”

    lineses

    Naseef is one of the most prominent families in Saudi Arabia, and their ancestral house, Bayt Naseef, is now a museum, which is highlighted in her documentary.

    “As a pioneer, I hope that I am able to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s promising future in the field of cinema,” Lineses says. “I also hope that I am able to give rise to aspiring Saudi filmmakers to do the impossible, break stereotypes, and to not shy away from adversities.”

    She also hopes her documentaries will show that it is possible to make a film about Saudi Arabia and still uphold the country’s code of conduct.

    Lineses is now working on another documentary, “Third Culture Kids of Saudi Arabia,” about the people born, raised and currently living in Saudi Arabia. “This film will tackle our everyday lives and show how we assimilate into society,” says Lineses.

    December 6, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1816

  • NYFA Improv Instructor Bill Watterson to Premiere “Dave Made a Maze” at Slamdance 2017

    New York Film Academy Improv instructor Bill Watterson’s directorial debut film, “Dave Made a Maze,” was recently highlighted in Variety as a ‘notable title’ in competition at Slamdance 2017. The festival, which launched in 1995 as an alternative to Sundance, has included showings of such notable titles as Oren Peli’s “Paranormal Activity.” The fest, which takes place at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, will screen 19 movies: 12 world premieres, three North American debuts, and one U.S. launch. Slamdance alumni include Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess, Lena Dunham, Benh Zeitlin, Seth Gordon, and Lynn Shelton.

    bill watterson

    Watterson also has a series of web shorts that he wrote and directed, which led to a TV deal with Brandio Entertainment. As an actor, he performed motion capture and voice over for the video games “LA Noire” and “Lost Planet 3”; appeared in the films “Ouija,” “Jenny’s Wedding,” and Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys”; and TV credits include “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” “The Soul Man,” and “The Young & The Restless.”

    We had a chat with the director and instructor before his upcoming January premiere at Slamdance.

    Congrats on being accepted to Slamdance! Can you tell me what “Dave Made a Maze” is all about?

    “Dave Made a Maze” re-imagines classic 80’s adventure films with a modern comedic edge and a higher body count. Dave, a frustrated artist, gets lost inside the cardboard fort he builds in his living room, and his girlfriend Annie must lead a band of oddball explorers on a rescue mission. The handmade fantasy world features the in-camera effects of puppetry, stop motion animation, and optical illusions.

    How did the film come about?

    A friend of mine from Second City started writing a whacked out script based on an anecdote I’d told him about my mother coming home and panicking that I had gotten lost in a pillow fort I’d made in my bedroom, even though I’d followed protocol and left a note saying I was having dinner at my friend John Richards’ house. She tore the fort apart looking for me. Steve had 60 pages by the next day. Eventually we zeroed in on the themes and started working together to finish the script.

    How were you able to raise funds for the production?

    We got some great talent attachments early on, drawing on contacts at Second City and work we’d done as actors. Some of our production design team came from “Robot Chicken,” and since the handmade look and animations in the film were so important, that caught a lot of investors’ eyes. The film is entirely independently financed.


    Will we be seeing you on screen as well in this film?

    I have a very brief cameo as a still photo on a keyboard box. It was such an ambitious film and we had so little time to prep and even less to shoot. It felt irresponsible to focus on anything other than directing.

    As an improv teacher, what sort of advice or direction did you give your actors?

    It’s always good to be in touch with your instincts, to respond honestly to the things happening before you, to be quick on your feet, and to ask yourself and your actors ‘what if?’ Those are foundational improv skills that also apply to directing. I definitely let the actors play around with dialogue to make sure they were comfortable and felt safe and supported, and because they’re all so gifted comedically. But we had a lot to get done, so I had to be careful not to let the train get off the tracks.

    Bill & Meera

    What do you hope to achieve at Slamdance? Are you looking for a distributor?

    Right now, we’re meeting with sales agents to help us find a distributor at the festival. It’s an honor to be there, and we want to be sure to capitalize on the opportunity. We made a very strange movie, and I’m hoping to find like-minded people in Park City who enjoy the silliness and heart of the film.

    What advice can you give to filmmakers looking to direct their first feature?

    Take all your successful director friends out to lunch and pick their brains. Shadow them on one of their projects if they’ll have you, and take lots of notes. Ask your editor what they hate about directors they’ve worked with in the past, and what mistakes to avoid on set.

    Read Sidney Lumet’s “Making Movies” and know your movie’s theme in and out, and filter all your decisions through that. Everybody wants to direct the movie; keep a small council, and defer to the best idea, whether it was yours or not. Know that the movie you shot will be different from the movie you edit; don’t fight it. Be grateful to the people who are working their butts off to bring your project to life. You cannot get anywhere without them.

    Anything else you’re working on now or in the near future that you’d like to share?

    I just walked out of a pretty huge meeting that I don’t want to jinx. I shot a series of shorts with a puppet that I’m almost ready to share, and I’m dusting off other pitches to have a better answer to this question come festival time!

    December 2, 2016 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1917

  • NYFA Doc Students Talk with Legendary Documentary Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

    On November 21, 2016, MFA documentary students from New York Film Academy Los Angeles had the opportunity to listen in on a conversation with legendary documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, sponsored by the International Documentary Association.

    DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

    Hegedus and Pennebaker have captured moments of history — from Senator John F. Kennedy’s run for the Democratic nomination in “Primary” to James Carville’s dictum, “It’s the economy, stupid” during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in “The War Room” and the first dot.com mania in “Startup.com.” They’ve portrayed musicians from Bob Dylan to Janis Joplin, Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Branford Marsalis, Emmylou Harris and many more. Pennebaker was one of the pioneers of the Direct Cinema movement of the 1960s that rejected on camera interviews in favor of the so-called “fly on the wall” approach to documentary filmmaking. Together their films have influenced the realms of documentary, music video, and reality television.

    The New York Film Academy students were treated to a riveting clip from the pair’s newest film, “Unlocking the Cage,” about animal rights attorney Steven Wise and his thirty-year fight to break down the legal walls that separate humans and animals. Wise is just the latest in a long series of subjects whose essential humanity shines through in their films.

    “A documentary filmmaker is like a playwright,” Pennebaker told the audience. “He fills a stage with people no one has ever seen before and he has to make them unforgettable.”

    December 2, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1042

  • Award-Winning NYFA Grad’s Newest Film Tackles Native Americans’ Struggle in “Mannahatta”

    Renae Maihi is a New Zealand Film Commission Grant Recipient, who attended the New York Film Academy 8-Week Filmmaking Program on a Professional Development Award. She is currently an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer and director in theatre and film. Her film “Redemption” screened at the Berlin Film Festival and Sundance, and won Best Short Film at imagineNATIVE 2010. Her award-winning short film “Butterfly” screened at imagineNATIVE in Canada.

    mannahatta

    Last month, Maihi returned to NYFA to screen her newest film, “Mannahatta,” before it premiered at ImagineNATIVE in October. The film focuses on an immigrant man who struggles with his difficult boss as he tries to create a life for himself on the island of Manhattan. However, when he is visited by the spirit of an ancient Native American man, he realizes that his existence is intrinsically linked to a larger history of struggle that is woven into the land he now stands on.

    We caught up with Maihi after her screenings to find out more about her and her film.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background and growing up in New Zealand?

    I’m indigenous Maori from the Ngati Whakaue and Ngapuhi tribes. My country, New Zealand, was founded based on a Treaty called “The Treaty of Waitangi,” so it is a country which is founded on a partnership between Maori and the British Crown. As filmmakers in our local box office, Maori stories account for 10 of the top 15 films which is a great indication of our importance in the New Zealand and international landscape. I’m very proud of my heritage.

    What brought you to NYFA?

    I felt the need to further develop my technical skills as a filmmaker. While on set and directing it became obvious to me that I didn’t have the depth of technical understanding to get the best out of my stories and crew. I come from an actor’s background (Bachelor of Performing Arts – Drama Major) and I’m also a playwright. My arts background served me well as a storyteller but film directing is a particular set of unusual skills: The ability to understand the craft of dramatic storytelling in screenplay, the ability to understand rhythm, tone, pace and composition of frame choices, the ability to effectively direct the performance of actors & the ability to technically understand the technologies you’re working with.

    It was the latter I felt was lacking. I was unable to set up three-point lighting and understand the reasons behind it. I was unable to edit my own material and, most importantly, I did not know my way around a camera or lens. This wasn’t good enough for me. The New Zealand Film Commission (our government body which funds us to make films) gave me a Professional Development grant as did my tribe Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust and my industry colleagues in New Zealand. Soon enough, I was on a plane headed to New York to study at NYFA. Life was good.

    Did your background draw you to the topic of your film ?

    As an indigenous woman from New Zealand, my Maori people had multiple struggles with our treaty initially being ignored. Our peoples’ land was stolen and there was systematic racism. I felt an immense empathy for the Native American people whose history was far worse than ours.

    Prior to leaving NZ, I was visited in a dream briefly by a Native American chief. He did not say anything but I remember waking up with an understanding that I needed to tell his story. Once I arrived I had a deep sense of pain for what felt like “the forgotten Indian.” I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if my people here in NZ had been sent away from our ancestral lands, hidden from society, genocide, marginalized, and, from what I gathered from some conversations I had with people, hated. This hurt me deeply that the people who survived and lived on a land for 10,000 years prior to anybody else, (the first peoples of the land) were not treated with the regard and respect that they should have been.

    This film is an acknowledgement to their people that validates the importance of their pain, struggle and voice in a subtle way. Ultimately, it’s about the potential for peace through acknowledgment.

    mannahatta

    What surprised you the most in the research and development of the film?

    One thing that surprised me immensely was that my instincts in writing the screenplay about another culture were actually accurate. Once my lead actor Ginew Benton (“Ojibwe”) read the script with his Shinnecock friends, they commented on the significance of stones in their culture. There are stones all throughout the story. This was not something that was told to me, it just felt right.

    The other thing was the racism I actually faced at a pizza shop. They were initially all for me filming in their pizzeria until they found out that there were Native American themes in the story. Soon after I was met with a 180 degree switch in the way I was dealt with and told, “We’re don’t want anything to do with it.” Luckily, through a miracle, I found a pizza shop in NYC’s Lower East Side that had been shut down for a few weeks due to a gas leak. Also, another surprising moment was while filming in a park, a man passed us and started mocking my Native American lead actor, making an indian war cry sound. It was so overtly racist I couldn’t believe it.

    On a few positives, I must mention my three woman team, who was Laurence DeBourbon and Ruth Bayes, both of whom were my “ride or die chicks.” Laurence, who lives in Paris, was a superstar for me, and I really could not have made this film without her. When I make my feature films in the future, I will insist on employing her because she works hard and gets the job done. Probably not really surprising, since the French are the parents of cinema!

    What do you hope to achieve with your film?

    Recently it premiered at ImagineNATIVE in the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, which is the largest and most prestigious indigenous film festival in the world (there are about 1.7 billion indigenous people in the world, by the way) and I was proud for it to play in that festival. I am hoping it does some of the prestigious film festivals in the world but, most of all, I hope it helps people to consider a few things when thinking about the indigenous peoples of America. I hope it helps create a little more understanding.

    Would you say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being able to direct MANNAHATTA?

    Absolutely, it was extremely useful! I made this film while attending NYFA…despite one of my teachers mentioning, “You know you’re not making a student film, this screenplay is a pro film.” I trusted that the people who I had on my team could help me pull this off. Additionally, at one stage, my DP Alexey Korsuovo and I were the only two people on set and I was able to perform multiple crew role — something I couldn’t do prior to going to NYFA. The cherry on the top was I actually edited “Mannahatta” before it went to Annie Collins (“Lord of the Rings”) something that I definitely could not do at all before NYFA.

    My time there and the skills I learned have made me an infinitely better director. I feel much more confident. In fact, while filming another film this year, I did a ten minute 1-shot, something I would not have had the confidence to do prior to my time in the intensive program.

    I went to NYFA to prepare technically before I made a feature film, and I can truly say that upon returning to New Zealand I felt ready for that challenge.

    Where will we be able to see your film in the future?

    I’m in discussions with multiple film festivals, so hopefully in New York soon. “Mannahatta” has also been acquired by FNX, which is an SBS network Indigenous channel with 23 million viewers, so it will screen on that station once the film has completed its circuit. Hopefully it has a rich life and travels.

    Are you currently working on another project that you’d like to tell us about?

    Yes, I’m part of a feature film project called “WARU,” which is in post production. I’m one of the 8 women directors on it; all of the women are some of the top Maori filmmakers in NZ, so it was a great thing to be a part of.

    I was also selected for the Directors & Editors Guild of NZ as an incubator director, so for the next year I’m being mentored by one of our top guilds here, as well as the NZ Film Commission. I have a feature film trilogy that I am developing the screenplay for at present. Lots on the burner!

    December 1, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1406

  • NYFA Student’s “The Jackal” Earns Best Director Award at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival

    Aisultan SeitovFinding people who are completely dedicated to their careers can often be difficult. We had the opportunity to speak with Aisultan Seitov, a young student who is truly dedicated to his passion. His short thesis film, “The Jackal,” recently earned a Best Director Award at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival.

    Aisultan, why did you choose the Filmmaking program at New York Film Academy?

    I’m from Astana, Kazakhstan. At first I wanted to enter the local State University and become an engineer. And filmmaking was just my hobby until I won a state grant, which allowed me to study at NYFA.

    Everything started when my school teacher made a video about our class activities. At the end of each week we waited to watch it and got great pleasure from viewing it. In high school I took part in international film competitions and I was among the winners two years in a row. I got an e-mail from NYFA that they were coming to our city. When I learned about the competition for a state grant, I prepared my project — it was a horror film. I always dreamed of studying at NYFA and it came true!

    Tell us about the educational process. Do you have any favorite instructors? Have you had any difficulties?

    I have studied at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for five weeks. I like all subjects and instructors. The three year BFA program at the New York Film Academy allowed me to study for my first year in New York, and the second and third years in Los Angeles.

    It was difficult for me to adapt to the local mentality. Everything was different for me. At first I missed my motherland, but I think it’s usual for a foreign student. I hardly made contacts with other students, but as time passed, it became easier for me.

    Also, in the beginning it seemed strange for me to learn about the need for permits to shoot outdoors, but now I know that it’s the part of the process.the jackal

    Aisultan, tell us about your film, “The Jackal,” which won an award at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival. How did the idea come about?

    I had to shoot my thesis project. At first I wanted to create a thriller in New York. Then I realized that if I did this it wouldn’t be as good as I wanted. And the quality was principal for me. I always dedicate myself to my business and try to do my best.

    When I came back to Kazakhstan and met with my friends, I was shocked, they seemed so different. They stopped following their dreams. They had lost their ambitions. And the fight against this system became the main idea of my film.

    I always try to do something new. I was lucky to get on board one of the best DP in Kazakhstan, Azamat Dulato. We shot project in the outskirts of Alma-Ata. To experiment, this time we made the whole film in one shot. Of course we had some challenges, it was a nasty day, and only half of the extras were present. We didn’t have a large budget. Almost all the money we spent was for the camera rent.

    Who or what inspires you?

    Family conflicts are always in my work, but I want to try all genres, because it would be new experiences for me. I am fond of Wes Anderson’s and David Fincher’s films. And of course my inspiration is from simple things. I started to appreciate my friends, my motherland. Different things inspire me. For example, the architecture of old buildings. As I said, my school teacher played an important role in my life as well. My good friend and musician, Max Korzh, taught me to follow my dream. Also, since childhood I have been fond of Steve Jobs, his outlook influenced my personality.

    Aisultan Seitov at NYFA

    Where would you like to work?

    It’s difficult to answer this question now. Soon I may work in Russia or the Ukraine. This summer I visited a lot of new cities and met many interesting people in the industry. I want to live in America and work on projects all over the world. It’s wonderful to travel and do what you like most of all.

    Aisultan, what advice would you give to someone who is beginning the Filmmaking program?

    It’s important to watch at least one film a day. If you want to create films you should watch them. It is necessary to work hard, with passion. It’s better to create projects that you like. I am a lazy person, but when it is all about my projects, I’ll do the impossible and do it the best way.

    New York Film Academy thanks Aisultan Seitov for his time. We wish him success in his creative career and are confident he’ll be receiving more awards for his upcoming films.

    November 30, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1166

  • NYFA Broadcast Journalism Grad Covers Venice Film Festival

    federica Soon you will be seeing Hollywood stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on NYFA News as part of a wonderful story that recent New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism alumna Federica Polidoro produced for us at the Venice Film Festival. NYFA News is a student-produced TV news magazine in which Federica also covered two previous Venice Film Festival stories where NYFA showcased five student films.

    With the Venice Film Festival behind her, we thought we’d catch up with the Italian journalist, who is now back in her hometown of Rome working with XL La Repubblica.

    Can you tell us what drew you to the field of broadcast journalism?

    I am an entertainment journalist in Italy. I used to be a reporter for film festivals for the last 10 years, interviewing celebrities — especially directors. I began to produce videos on my own, but I wanted to refine my knowledge in this particular field and try to get some chances abroad.

    What made you decide to attend the New York Film Academy?

    Everything in Italy is very theoretical, so I needed some hands-on experience. Studying in New York was my lifetime dream. I couldn’t afford the fee, so I finally applied for a European Union scholarship and I won it.

    How would you describe your experience in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program?

    New York Film Academy is the most wonderful academic experience I’ve ever had. In Italy, I taught Editing Technics at the Fine Art Academy, so this is an opinion also as a professor. I think NYFA is a school that you could only imagine in your dreams. The building is terrific, the equipment is tremendous, professors are incredible people and the tasks are so exciting.

    With [Broadcast Journalism Chair] Bill Einreinhofer, I found the kind of mentor that you can only get in a movie. He’s a very inspiring person, quiet yet powerful. He is a great example of an educator for me, and it was a privilege to meet him on the path of my life. His generosity and sensibility, honesty and open-mindedness, his precious advice, and his guidance are a treasure for me. He let me express my creativity by pushing the bounds of my intellectual curiosity. He gave me the self-confidence to believe that I was in the right place in the right time and that I can do it. Even if it is a school and not real life, as he reminded us often, his support meant a lot to me. His name was my first reason to opt for NYFA, and it was my best decision. My satisfaction with Bill’s appreciation of my work is priceless.

    I can sum up my feelings about the New York Film Academy with one word: happiness.

    How was your experience covering the Venice Film Festival for NYFA News?

    I worked for the biggest newspapers, magazines and platforms in Italy — especially for web content — but I could not believe I had the chance to produce something for NYFA on my own.

    What have you been working on since graduating?

    I am currently working on the second phase of the scholarship with a six months internship for the biggest Italian Newspaper, La Repubblica. I will likely continue to produce and edit video for them as a freelancer, but I am submitting some projects to show to other satellite and web channels with a more dynamic approach — a place where I can create “long-lasting” content.

    So are you working primarily in Italy now?

    I’m working in Italy, but very open to working for the US from European Festivals and for Italy / Foreign Countries from the US as entertainment content creator. I am going to launch my website with a showreel and a catalog of all my previous work. Among my interviews are artists such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Amos Gitai, Andrei Konchalovski, Andrew Niccol, Anton Corbjn, Asghar Farhadi (Oscar®), Atom Egoyan, Charlie Kaufman (Oscar®), Ethan Hawke, François Ozon, Gabriele Salvatores, Giuseppe Tornatore, Hou Hsiao Hsien, Jeremy Irons, Jerzy Skolimoski, Kim Ki Duk, Kirill Serebrennikov, Lav Diaz, Marco Bellocchio, Mike Leigh, Olga Kurilyenko, Paul Haggis (Oscar®), Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Valeria Golino, Wash Westmoreland, William Dafoe, Wim Wenders, Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

    Is there an assignment or story that you’re most proud of?

    My last day in Venice, after 14 interviews, my last interview was with Lav Diaz. He won the Golden Lion, so XL Repubblica got the interview ready while he was receiving the award. After Venice I interviewed the Golden Palm Winner, Ken Loach, for the Italian premier of “I, Daniel Blake.” I edited part of this work for NYFA, too.

    This season I am working on Award Season with written pieces and on editing videos on the themes of “Toys in Christmas Movies,” on Rube Goldberg machines in cartoons, and on movies set in hospitals and asylums to prepare for the release of Gore Verbinski’s “A Cure for Wellness.”

    I am managing the trip to the Cannes Film Festival and sending projects to find enough sponsors, and more than one media coverage, so that it’s useful to get more interviews and a better accreditation.

    For me it is quite easy to find a job, since I am a very hard worker, but I am looking for the kind of job and creative space where I can do something unique and personal.

    What do you hope to achieve in your career as a journalist? 

    I am a storyteller, a content creator, an investigator, a talent scout, and a wacky Italian with the obsession for weird stuff. I am a dreamer, but I am also a problem solver. There is nothing impossible for me. As a journalist I would like to express my own personality, get in depth subjects with anthropological analysis and humor, telling them with ethics and poetically. I would like to show different ways to read the contemporary phenomena delivering stories with visual appeal, originality, but simple language and profound meaning. Stories useful for the soul, pleasant for the ears, spectacular for the eyes.

    I would like to get work experience in the US for a short amount of time — maybe one year — to get in touch directly with the industry. I would like to do the job I did for the last ten years, traveling around the world looking for untold stories. I would like to be myself, but better, bigger and cooler. And maybe, once in my life, cover The Golden Globes and The Oscars.

    November 29, 2016 • Broadcast Journalism, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1121

  • NYFA Acting Alumna Ingrid Vollset to Appear in “You Can’t Say No” with Peter Fonda

    ingrid vollsetNew York Film Academy Acting for Film alumna Ingrid Vollset was born in Los Angeles to Norwegian parents and moved back to Norway at an early age where she spent her childhood and early adolescence. Growing up she was drawn towards storytelling — through the craft of acting, writing and directing — with the belief that film and theatre are some of the most important tools we have to change the world.

    Since graduating from NYFA’s New York location, she has been in numerous independent films, including the upcoming film, “You Can’t Say No,” which stars the legendary “Easy Rider” actor Peter Fonda. Vollset is also active on the writing, producing and directing side of things and is currently working on a script for an independent feature.

    We had a chance to catch up with Ms Vollset to find out more about the film and her career post-NYFA.

    Congrats on your upcoming film, “You Can’t Say No.” Can you tell us in your own words, what you believe this film is about?

    To me, this film is about social, moral and relationship values; integrity of character and sanctitude of bonds between human beings. It is about soul-mates and serendipity, about honesty and commitment, and about being willing to think outside-the-box and follow your dreams without losing sight of what is most important at the end of the day — taking care of yourself and the one’s you love the most.

    How did the role of Allison come about for you?

    Allison is a nomadic vagabond free-spirited young woman in the midst of her journey of life discovery. Her and Hank’s serendipitous crossing of paths turns out to be that of a very valuable friendship for the both of them — driving the story forward in a way where Hank’s value system and integrity is challenged, and he ultimately ends up earning a place in all our hearts by the end of their arc.

    What were some of the challenges of getting into your role?

    The subtle balance of naiveté and bravery. Allison is so willing to put her heart on the line — to risk being hurt — just to stay true to every present moment and living it freely. Accessing her vulnerability and her loneliness and yet letting her strength supersede it all — she is someone with an amazing capacity for forgiveness, understanding and compassion. She will willingly dry her eyes and smile at the world, no matter how many times it seemingly lets her down — she doesn’t see it that way and accepts whatever comes her way as ‘meant to be’.

    Were you able to work directly on set with Peter Fonda? 

    Unfortunately, my shooting days were not aligned with Peter Fonda’s, as our characters did not meet in the film. I heard amazing stories of the other actors and crew members of how much they learned from him and enjoyed having him on set!

    Would you say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being prepared to perform in this film and other films/shows you’ve worked on?

    I’ve learned many valuable skills and tools at NYFA that I have been able to use in all my work as an actor. Acting for Film classes with Paul Warner taught us how to meticulously break a script down and unveil beats, actions and tactics that ultimately help reveal the physical life of your character.

    The Improv classes were extremely helpful as so much of the work on set and in rehearsal is improv based. And the Meisner work helping to get you out of your head as an actor and better trust your instincts and impulses in the moment.

    The Shakespeare classes with David Vando taught us how to let the text float as a boat on the river of the inner life that is present in the actors. And our scene study classes with Glynis Rigsby taught us to understand our characters on a deeper level, ask questions, be curious and connect with the story and the objectives in a way where you end up having real skin in the game. The wide variety of classes offered allowed us as students to find out where our strengths and weaknesses as actors lie.

    Also, the experience of acting in the directing students’ short films created amazing hands-on experience that prepared us for professional settings in the safest of circumstances.

    ingrid

    Which role are you most proud of thus far? Why?

    The role I am most proud of this far is the one of Paula in “Paula, Why?” This is a film I wrote and produced myself, and has a very autobiographical component to, so it was one of the most challenging parts I have ever had to play.

    Are you currently working on anything new and exciting that you’d like to share?

    Currently, I am co-producing and acting in the first season of a dramedy webseries where we are hoping for an early 2017 release. Two friends decide to open up an Airbnb in their apartment to cover their NYC rent and do not expect it to be a life-changing experience.

    I am in post-production for “Paula, Why?” where we are hoping for a late 2017/early 2018 release mainly geared towards the festival market. The music and boxing themed story of an immigrant brother and sister’s survival in the outskirts of NYC.

    We will be going into production before the end of the year on a short film called “Tendencies”: the story of two sisters cleaning out their mother’s house as she needs to move into a retirement home due to early onset Alzheimer’s and everything they discover over the course of that weekend.

    November 24, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3148