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  • New York Film Academy to Host Second Annual Young Saudi Film Festival

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) in Los Angeles recently announced the second annual Young Saudi Film Festival (YSFF), which is slated for Feb. 18, 2018, at the Harmony Gold Theater on Sunset Boulevard. A showcase of recent Saudi films, YSFF is currently accepting submissions from filmmakers.

    Director of NYFA Los Angeles Dan Mackler greets YSFF President Rakan Anneghaimshi.

    “Last year Saudi filmmakers didn’t have any theaters where they could show their films and creative productions. With hope and consistent effort, cinema is now back again in Saudi Arabia,” said YSFF President and NYFA student Rakan Anneghaimshi (Spring 2016 BFA Acting). “Our goal since Abdulaziz Almutari (YSFF Vice President, Fall 2015 MFA Cinematography) and I started YSFF was to have a platform to link filmmakers to each other so they can exchange experiences, knowledge, and connections. It’s going to be the same case this year.”

    Last year’s screening was attended by over 300 guests and presented eight short films. NYFA alum Maan bin Abdulrahman of Prince of Arabia Entertainment hosted the event and moderated a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers, which included Saudi Arabian filmmaker, Meshal Al Jaser (NYFA Fall 2016 BFA Screenwriting).

    Regarding this year’s festival, Director of NYFA’s Los Angeles campus Dan Mackler said, “As an international film school and home to many Saudi Arabian alumni and students, the New York Film Academy is very happy with Saudi Arabia’s decision to reopen theaters. We share Rakan’s excitement for this second event and expect it to surpass last year’s impact on bringing talented filmmakers to light.”

    While the festival focuses on the work of Saudi filmmakers, submissions from around the world will be considered, particularly those from Gulf and Arab states. A panel of NYFA faculty will select eight short films between five and 20 minutes long for the showcase. Judges include film star Miraj Grbic (“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”), actress and comedienne Suzanne Kent (“Taxi,” The Groundlings), cinematographer Anthony Richmond, ASC, BSC (“Don’t Look Now,” “Legally Blonde”), photographer/cinematographer Bart Mastronardi (“Tales of Poe”), director James Rowe (“Blue Ridge Fall”), and novelist Crickett Rumley (“Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell”).

    For a complete list of rules and to submit a short film, please submit via Google form here or on the NYFA Student hub. The deadline is Jan. 28th, so hurry to submit your film!

    The second annual Young Saudi Film Festival on Feb. 18 at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood promises to be an inspiring event attended by both young filmmakers and Saudi esteemed officials. It is free and open to the public. In addition to the short films and a Q&A again moderated by Maan bin Abdulrahman, the event will feature a light reception and a performance by NYFA’s Improv Troupe.

    YSFF President Rakan Anneghaimshi with filmmaker Meshal Al Jaser.

    Reflecting on the upcoming festival, YSFF President Anneghaimshi complimented NYFA’s continued involvement, saying, “I would like to thank Dan Mackler for his endless support and caring, and I would like also to thank Tami Alexander, Crickett Rumley, and Brian Dillon.” He also had kind words for those submitting films: “I wish all the best for all filmmakers applying to the festival.”

    To RSVP to attend the Young Saudi Film Festival on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m., please RSVP here.

  • Jan. 22 Updates from the New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School

    Being a journalist isn’t a 9-to-5 job. News happens when it happens, and we have to cover it. But President Donald Trump’s arrival in Washington, D.C. has made every administration that preceded it look tame. In fact, it has forced news gathering organizations — all of them, not just the “mainstream” variety — to change how they do business.

    Awhile back, The New York Times posted a fascinating story on how — to steal a line from a NYC radio station — “the news watch never stops.” Given the events of this past weekend, with the U.S. government partially closed by a budget impasse, and more than a million women demonstrating around the country, I thought it would be a good time to share this article. (Click on the link, if only to see the great graphic in motion!)

    The start of a new year often signals big changes, and that certainly seems to be the case with NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Grace Shao, who writes:
    “Happy new year friends! All the best wishes to you in 2018! Happy to tell you all I’m moving to Shanghai … to pursue a new role with CGTN, covering the worlds fastest growing economy in one of the most vibrant metropolises!”
    Grace is currently spending a lot of time shuttling between Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG or SHA). I hope she is saving up all those frequent flyer miles…
    And speaking of frequent flyers, NYFA alum Gillian Kemmerer is in Davos (again) this week, covering the annual World Economic Forum for Asset TV.
    And on the “news watch” over at CBS News is recent NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Lara Gato. Last Monday she reported to work at CBS’ digital news operation, where she will be working as an associate producer.
    And who was assigned to instruct her on CBS policies and procedures? NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Nour Idriss!
    Meanwhile, back on Battery Place, NYFA was one of the co-sponsors of Shanghai Film Week New York. I was honored to be chosen to participate in an Industry Panel discussion of U.S./PRC co-productions. As part of my presentation, I spoke about the three “rules” that underlie successful co-productions. One of which is, “Everything is based on relationships.”
  • New York Film Academy Documentary Film Festival Screens 5 Fantastic Student Docs

    The New York Film Academy recently celebrated The New York Film Academy Documentary Film Festival, offering a showcase of five exceptional thesis documentaries from our conservatory students.

    Held at the NYFA Theatre at the New York City campus, the festival served not only as a thesis presentation, but also a professional launch and celebration of an exceptional group of filmmakers. The surprising, compelling stories and unique visions of the Spring ’17 Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory carried a delighted audience of fellow NYFA students, friends, faculty, and staff around the globe and through a series of remarkable worlds you’d never have known existed.

    Screened at the festival were the following films:

    "Jatar" by Braulio Jatar

    “Running Out of Freedom” Directed by Braulio Jatar

    Braulio Jatar’s father, a high-profile Venezuelan dissident, is dying in prison. But the capture order on Braulio’s head makes returning to the country extremely dangerous. His family won’t allow it. But with his father’s life in the balance, and the Resistance gathering to make one last stand, the young journalist has decided to risk his life to fight for his father and for his country.

    “Cricket Liu” Directed by Julia Cheng

    An aging master of the ancient culture of cricket fighting now uses the art to entertain an endless river of tourists, earning all he possibly can, to send in precious red envelops as gifts to the beloved little grandson he is not allowed to know.

    “Gold Flakes” Directed by Santiago Machado

    A courageous father navigates Colombian rainforests, gleaning the last flakes of El Dorado’s gold.

    But it’s drying up. The abandoned mines threaten collapse, a guerilla army is taking over the area, and the government is trying to starve out the gleaners with new taxes and tightening regulations. Still, his family will eat tonight if he can find just one good gold flake.

    “The Future is Rotten” Directed by Nancy Dionne 

    Forests of the Pacific Northwest hold a rare treasure. A secret culture of foragers spend their lives hunting it. Its coveted flavor can bring up to $1000 per kg. But the Matsutake mushroom’s true genius is as a healer of ruined landscapes, and it may offer the best hope for an American forest system run amuk.

    “Sword Swallower” Directed by Katerina Olkhovaya 

    Notorious circus artist Magnificent Jewels makes a career of death-defying performances. Even outside the limelight, the vulnerable if hardened sword swallower sacrifices all for the burlesque circus that from Berlin, to Brussels, to Paris must always go on.

    Congratulations to our Spring ’17 Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory class! It was truly a proud and triumphant night for our documentary community.

  • New York Film Academy Youth Program Grad Lily Buchanan in Syfy’s Happy!

    New York Film Academy kids Filmmaking camp grad and child actor Lily Buchanan recently had a starring turn in Syfy’s dark comedy series, Happy!

    Happy! stars acclaimed actor and New York Film Academy Guest Speaker Christopher Meloni as a degenerate ex-cop-turned-hit-man who, after flatlining in the line of duty, is brought back to life — only to discover he can now see and hear a child’s invisible friend, an animated blue unicorn named Happy. Needless to say, bizarre and thrilling antics ensue.

    The surprising, gritty, and hilarious show is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Darick Robertson and Grant Morrison.

    In Happy!, Lily Buchanan portrays the role of Jamie in not one, not two, but three episodes. We don’t want to give away any spoilers, so you’ll have to check out the show on Amazon Prime — just be aware that viewer discretion is advised, as the storyline of Happy! doesn’t shy away from violence or mature topics.

    Happy! is one in a string of recent successes for New York City-based child actor Lily Buchanan, who has also churned out scene-stealing performances in 2018’s Real Love and The After Party.

    Buchanan carved out time in her busy schedule over the last holiday season to take on the New York Film Academy’s intensive Holiday Filmmaking Camp for Kids. During her time at the Academy, she enjoyed a special opportunity to see Dominique Morisseau’s original play, PIPELINE, at the Lincoln Center Theater (LCT) — and got meet the play’s star, NYFA Instructor Jaime Lincoln Smith.

    Congratulations on your role in Happy!, Lily — we look forward to seeing what’s next on the horizon!

  • New York Film Academy Alum Receives International Film Festival Manhattan Award

    Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses

    Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses knows first-hand how much hard work goes into making a film—which makes her Honorable Mention at 2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan all the more rewarding. In October, after screening her documentary “The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah,” Jameelah was the proud recipient of the IFFM’s Film Festival Director Louie Award Honorable Mention.

    This isn’t Jameelah’s first award, either. Her previous documentaries, “Historic Jeddah” and “Our Journey to Hijaz” have also garnered significant praise from multiple festivals in the last several years.

    2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan

    2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan

    A recurring theme in her work is the challenge women face while living in Saudi Arabia. The uphill battle women face, especially in filmmaking, has helped focus her vision and strengthen her voice.

    Jameelah first attended the New York Film Academy’s 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop in June 2011, before enrolling two months later in the 1-Year Filmmaking program at the New York City campus. There, Jameelah was given hands-on training with state-of-the-art film equipment and taught the skills necessary for pre-production through post-production.

    This intensive education prepared Jameelah for a career in filmmaking.“My instructors at NYFA ensured their students after graduation are already well-rounded and equipped to work in any film department,” stated Jameelah.

    Even after making several documentaries and garnering numerous honors, Jameelah still applies the training she received at NYFA. “I made sure that I took down notes for every class,” said Jameelah, adding, “I still have all my notes until now, and I review it at times when I need a refresher.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Jameelah on her Honorable Mention for “The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah,” and looks forward to the important stories she will tell in the future!

    The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah

    The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah

    January 18, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2517

  • New York Film Academy Alum Hired by CBS News and Trained by Fellow Alum

    This week, 2017 NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate Lara Gato began work as an Associate Producer at CBS News. To add to what is already a proud moment for her alma mater, Gato is being trained by 2015 NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Nour Idriss.

    Lara Gato  came to the New York Film Academy from her home in Madrid, Spain, to pursue her dream to become a journalist. Her fantastic work was recently featured on the NYFA Blog as a standout example of a professional reel.

    NYFA Alumna and CBS News Associate Producer Lara Gato

    “The reel doesn’t get you the job,” NYFA Chair of Broadcast Journalism Bill Einreinhoffer explained to the NYFA Blog. “The reel gets you the interview which can get you the job. It is the ticket that gets you in the door.”

    Nour Idriss, who is training Gato at CBS News, moved to New York City from her home in Aleppo, Syria. It was while still completing her program at NYFA that Nour was encouraged by a NYFA guest speaker to apply for work at CBS News. She used a story she did as a NYFA student to help secure a role. She works both in the production team for “The CBS Evening News Weekend Edition” and as a freelance associate producer for video at CBS.com.

    With “The CBS Evening News,” Idriss told the NYFA Blog she produces and edits VO’s, teases, and packages, overseeing headlines and assisting with gathering research and material. On the digital side at CBS.com, she During the uses a suite of software to publish web content.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Lara Gato and Nour Idriss for their success and looks forward to hearing more from them at CBS News.

  • New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School Visits NBC News

    So, for graduates of the NYFA 1-Year Broadcast Journalism program, these pictures should bring back some memories!

    This month, the Fall 2017 1-Year students got an exclusive “behind the scenes” look at NBC News. It was all made possible by NBC News military affairs contributor Col. Jack Jacobs, who is also Chair of the NYFA Veteran’s Advancement program.

    While visiting NBC News, the students had the opportunity to meet MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.

    Then, they visited the set of her program “AM Joy,” while the show was in progress.

    Since prime time anchor Lester Holt was off, the NYFA students decided to help out as “substitute anchors” on the set of the “NBC Nightly News.”

    …and made a quick visit to make-up.

    They even had to chance to visit the set of “Saturday Night Live” during rehearsals. (You can hear the band playing here.)

    In fact, they even found out about some of the jokes on that night’s show, 10 hours before air time!

    These tours are available only to students in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism 1-Year Conservatory program. This group seems to have had fun…

  • New York Film Academy Veteran & Cinematography Alum’s Horror Feature Streaming on Amazon & iTunes

    NYFA veteran alum Alister Conway has found success with his first independently-produced feature film. The Doll takes the familiar horror trope of a haunted doll coming to violent life to new extremes, with this particular “doll” portrayed by Valeria Lukyanova. This is the screen debut for the model and viral internet sensation, known as the “The Human Barbie.” As The Los Angeles Times observes of this casting choice, “Turning a beauty into an inhuman monster is actually a clever premise.”

    Conway took the time to share some insights from his experience bringing The Doll to life with the NYFA Blog.

    NYFA: How did your project The Doll come about? What inspired the idea?

    AC: Through my many networking trails, one night I attended an event at the Soho House. I met an incredible psychologist, Susannah O’Brien, who shared many similar ideas and feelings on the rapidly changing climate of the film industry.

    At the time I had no idea she was also a director organizing a new team to produce a collection of scripts that she written … one of the scripts was The Doll project. It was wild how she had the entire project laid out in her mind with clear bold strokes, these crazy details that blew my mind, with the Human Barbie Doll starring in it all.

    … Long story short, by the end of the conversation she asked if I’d be willing to shoot the project. I can’t remember my exact response. But it was something along the lines of “Oh **** yes! I’d love to.”

    NYFA: For our students, can you tell us a little bit about your role as the cinematographer and co-producer? How did you juggle those responsibilities, and what surprised you the most?

    AC: Coming from a stern military background combined with the hustle mentality of a Brooklyn New Yorker, I’ve always motivated my mind to multitask at the drop of a dime. Originally, I was brought on as the cinematographer, a privilege I still can’t thank Sahara Vision Productions enough for. Then I approached the production team to bring me on as a producer to help manage the overall day-to-day process of pre-production.

    They were reluctant at first until they noticed a $8,000 deficit that wasn’t in the original budgeting. I moved around a few numbers, brought on a few associates at lower rate, made a few deals with equipment lenders, etc. and they were very impressed with what I accomplished. So they tried me out as a co-producer.

    Surprises? After two years overseas in Iraq, not too many things surprise me these days. I’ve learned to play along in the mindset: “Hope for the best. Plan for the worst. Live in the moment.”

    NYFA: Congratulations on your distribution for The Doll with Amazon Prime! Can you tell us a little bit about how you went about securing this deal?

    AC: Thank you. After talks with many distribution companies, we were fortunate to solidify a deal with Gravitas Ventures. We went with them because of their extensive media catalog and reputation of doing what they say they’re going to do — not easy to find distribution companies today with those standards: packaging the deliverables, going through media Q&C, press and social media handling. Gravitas was great throughout the process.

    NYFA: Anything we missed that you’d like to share with the NYFA community?

    AC: Prior to my move to LA from New York, my sole focus was shooting and editing projects for the best possible look. I never focused my attention on the business aspects of the world of content sales and producing. There was a rush that I never expected. It opened me up to a completely different mindset of the filmmaking process.

    Don’t be afraid to try something new on set. Pay close attention to the business mechanics of the world of creating contenting. There are so many avenues within this realm that not only help me keep my sanity during the harsh process of filmmaking but helped build a greater appreciation for the long term financial benefits and my personal growth.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Alister Conway for sharing a part of his story with the NYFA Blog. The Doll is available to stream on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

     

    January 12, 2018 • Acting • Views: 214

  • New York Film Academy Acting Alum Adrian Voo Talks Teen Comedy “Little Bitches”

    Not many of us wish that we could go back to high school, but for New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Conservatory alumnus Adrian Voo, revisiting teen angst never looked better. This month, the world will see him co-star in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s “Little Bitches,” a raucous, R-rated teen comedy that will release digitally Jan. 23 on iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, Xfinity, Verizon Fios, Microsoft Store, Play Station and Google Play.  

    Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Voo was bitten by the acting bug when he was a business major at San Francisco State University. Following his dream led him to NYFA Los Angeles campus for an intensive year of conservatory training before going on to snag mainstream attention in the Jason Biggs comedy “Amateur Night.” “Little Bitches” follows three former-best-friends-turned-frenemies who must find a way to make peace in their senior year of high school in what Sony Pictures describes as a “crazy, twisted, coming-of-age female-empowerment comedy.”

    The NYFA Blog had a chance to catch up with Voo to hear more about “Little Bitches,” what he loves about comedy, and what’s next.

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

    AV: My love for film has spanned my lifetime but I had never really given acting much thought until my final year of business school. I was auditioning for plays and became fascinated with the craft. After receiving my BS, I decided to explore acting and searched for an intensive film school, and that’s when I found NYFA!

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

    AV: One of my earliest childhood memories was being in absolute awe while on a tram tour at Universal Studios. So the first time we had an on-camera class on New York Street was a little “magical” for me.

    NYFA: Congratulations on your role in Sony Pictures’ “Little Bitches”! How did this project come about for you?

    AV: Thank you! Long story short, I was pitched to Scott Aversano (producer). I was so excited to hear that he was assembling a teen comedy, knowing his previous success with “That Awkward Moment” and “Orange County,” among many others. We had a good meeting and he brought me in to read for Nick Kreiss (writer/director).

    NYFA: You’ve had a great streak of working in some big comedies. For our students, what do you find the most challenging about intensive comedy work? How do you prepare?

    AV: I’ve found the most challenging part to be forgetting that it’s a comedy — and not trying to be funny! I think comedy works best when you trust the script (the writers) and find the dialogue rhythm. Once you have the rhythm, you can add improv for color.

    NYFA: You recently served as an executive producer of “Dear Dictator” with Michael Caine and Katie Holmes, as well as appearing in the film. Tell us about that process, and why you felt drawn to this story?

    AV: I had worked with the writer/director’s on “Amateur Night,” which was their true life story, so I was thrilled when they invited me to be a part of “Dear Dictator.” The script is so inspired (it was featured in the Black List in 2006). It’s a satire but, ultimately, a story about a non-conventional family. There’s some familiar film moments but it’s truly a film like no other…

    It was also a full circle moment to work with Michael Caine since I studied his “Acting in Film” book at NYFA!

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in preparing for the work you’re doing now?

    AV: Very much so! When I first walked through the doors, I had a little stage experience and almost no formal training; I dreaded speaking with fellow actors whenever I was in productions because they used jargon that I had never heard of. NYFA instilled technique and discipline, and molded my process today. I’ve also become a strong proponent for hands-on training and found it to be an essential element.

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

    AV: Let’s just say, for now it’s “Little Bitches” and “Dear Dictator” in March! I hope you guys will enjoy the films as much as we had making them. Cheers to everyone at NYFA!

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Adrian Voo on his work in “Little Bitches,” and looks forward to seeing “Dear Dictator” soon!

  • Packed House For New York Film Academy Gold Coast Screening

    NYFA May 2017 Diploma of Filmmaking End of Year Screening & Graduation

    For New York Film Academy Gold Coast’s May 2017 Diploma Filmmaking students, the holidays didn’t just represent the end of 2017, but the end of a year of learning, training and artistry. On the 21st of December, the group held their graduation at Event Cinema Pacific Fair, along with the End of Year Screening of their final films.

    With a packed house of friends and family, the group of talented, passionate filmmaking students were able to share their achievements in a tangible way, by showcasing the films their vision and hard work made manifest. By having a full theatre audience and seeing their final films up on a big screen, the students got a taste of what their future careers could look like. Being inspired and surrounded by loved ones, the filmmakers were able to celebrate the holidays and their accomplishments of 2017 all at once.

    In addition to gaining vital filmmaking skills, learning by doing, and applying them to their work, the students’ time at NYFA was valuable in other ways. Filmmaking lecturer Trevor Hawkins elaborated, “What is apparent—apart from learning the art and craft of filmmaking, after spending the year working on each others’ films—the students have formed bonds and connections that will continue on into their professional filmmaking careers.”

    NYFA May 2017 Diploma of Filmmaking End of Year Screening & Graduation

    NYFA May 2017 Diploma of Filmmaking End of Year Screening & Graduation

    Indeed, forming relationships with colleagues is just as important to the collaborative art of making movies as the practical skills needed to bring them to life. While this is just the beginning of their careers, the students were already showing off their distinct talents. Each of their final films portrayed their own unique voice, and demonstrated just how much they’ve grown since starting the program in May.

    Hawkins added, “We wish them all the best and look forward to all their future projects.” The New York Film Academy congratulates the students on their films and a job well done!