• NYFA Screenwriting and Producing Graduates Celebrate with Industry Pitch Fest


    On Thursday, April 21st, 2022, graduating MFA and BFA Screenwriting and Producing students gathered to pitch their thesis projects to industry professionals at an in-person Pitch Fest!  We celebrated their hard work and accomplishments at the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting and Producing students, offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.  And as an added bonus, many faculty members came to the Andaz to support the graduates.

    The students’ dedication and passionate love for their work shined as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year.  Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professionals, this group of talented and creative students’ hard work has paid off, as they pitched agents, managers, studios, and Alternative Media, TV and Film production company execs in a relaxed, round-table environment.

    Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Morgan Dameron, with the assistance of Jenny Sterner and Heather Ritcheson, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including –

    Bad Robot, Lit Entertainment Group, Anonymous Content, Verve, We Are the Mighty, Scenario Entertainment, Tremendum Pictures, HIVEMIND, and Florida Hill Entertainment.

    NYFA wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA and BFA Screenwriting and Producing graduates and wish them the best as they move forward in their professional journeys!



    May 27, 2022 • Screenwriting • Views: 159

  • Q&A with ‘Station Eleven’ Showrunner Patrick Sommerville


    Q&A with ‘Station Eleven’ Showrunner Patrick Sommerville


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with STATION ELEVEN Showrunner PATRICK SOMERVILLE to discuss the writers room, the importance of having a voice in Hollywood and bad drafts, with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Patrick Somerville is a successful novelist and screenwriter with a television deal at Paramount Television Studios. His most recent work includes the hit mini-series, Station Eleven, which he created, based on the best selling novel by Emily St. John Mandel. He wrote and executive produced the show and received rave reviews for the series. Station Eleven was nominated for a Peabody Entertainment Award, and Somerville was nominated for
    a USC Scripter Award.

    He also created, wrote, and executive produced the critically acclaimed Maniac series, starring A-list actors Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. The film received two nominations from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Producers Guild of America (PGA). Somerville also served as writer/producer on the HBO drama The Leftovers starring Justin Theroux and got his start in television writing on the FX drama The Bridge and FOX’s 24: Live Another Day.

    Somerville’s writing appeared in The New York Times, GQ, and Esquire. He is a MacDowell Fellow and the winner of the 2009 21st Century Award, an honor awarded annually by the Chicago Public Library.

    He grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and later earned his MFA from Cornell University.

    During the Q&A, Patrick Somerville shared that as a young boy in Green Bay, Wisconsin he made movies with hi-8 camcorders. He would then edit them using VHS. The guest’s ambitions of being a director started early on, but growing up in Wisconsin, limited in his connection to Hollywood, he transitioned his career ambitions to writing because, “I can do that by myself,” Somerville shared. Fiction did not require the kind of connections necessary to make movies in Hollywood.

    Somerville went on to write two collections of short stories, Trouble (2006) and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature (2010) before getting agent representation. He also wrote two novels, The Cradle (2009) and This Bright River (2012). The Cradle was nominated for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Award. It was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick for Spring 2009, a Target Emerging Writers Pick, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. This Bright River was a New York Times Editor’s Choice as well, and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature was short-listed for the 2010 Story Prize.

    After cold calling publishers, he got published. He was then contacted by an agent who recommended Somerville try screenwriting. After which, he wrote a pilot out of a short story he had in mind, and submitted it to Hollywood agents and managers who loved it. He won his first writing job for The Bridge, an FX drama series that follows two cops as they hunt down a serial killer.

    When asked the difference between a writer and story editor, Somerville stated, “there is none. It means nothing. There’s a hierarchical tier in the writer’s room and the bottom rung is the staff writer followed by the story editor.” After a year in a writer’s room, a writer graduates to story editor, followed by executive producer and co-producer. “It’s a tiered, hierarchical ranking system.”

    Hindsight is 20/20; Somerville remarks that what made a difference in his career was: time! “The advantage that I had was that I wasn’t 23, I was 33. I was always very ambitious in my twenties … my ambition outpaced my technical skill.” Somerville spent some of his career as an educator and as a teacher, he exercised skills in listening, collaboration, and group work. It turns out his work as an educator was preparing Somerville for the writer’s room. The
    writer’s room is a breeding ground for ideas.
    Pitching, collaborating and knowing how to navigate group dynamics are essential skills. “I think it’s important to listen to ideas that aren’t yours, a lot; and to ask yourself why you don’t think they’re good or why you do think they’re good.”

    Throughout the conversation Somerville encouraged students to have a voice, to bring themselves to the writing, “make sure you’re there in the script somehow … you gotta flash who you are,” stated Somerville. The guest insists on the importance of tone as well, reminding the audience that when a producer is reading a script it needs to be brought to life. Similar to fiction, a good story should jump off of the page.

    When asked about writer’s block and how to combat it Somerville said, “On the days when you don’t feel like you’re good enough, write a couple of things anyways. The critic in you should not be empowered to tell you that you’re not a good writer.” In regards to not knowing where a piece is going, Somerville says,
    “write a bad draft anyways … When you get to the end of the thing, you learn about the thing and then you go back..”

    Somerville was adamant about the contribution of the creative crew behind Station Eleven. Citing the collaboration of the cinematographers, costume designers, lighting crew and music, as a huge component of the show’s success and hoping that both the students and the voting EMMY members will recognize their talents.

    New York Film Academy and Tova Laiter would like to thank Patrick Somerville for sharing his time and writing experience with NYFA students and alumni.

    You can watch the full conversation in the video below:


    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career
    outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on
    multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work,
    perseverance, talent and circumstances.


    May 20, 2022 • Screenwriting • Views: 207




    NYFA Screenwriting Alum Mohamed Diab Directs Marvel Studios 'Moon Knight'

    NYFA Screenwriting Alum Mohamed Diab Directs Marvel Studios “Moon Knight”

    April 7, 2022

    Marvel’s first Arab director may be new to Hollywood filmmaking, but Mohamed Diab has an internationally-acclaimed body of work to his name. NYFA 1-Year Screenwriting alum Mohamed Diab is an award-winning Egyptian screenwriter and director known for telling intimate stories. His directorial debut Cairo 678, the story of three women in search of justice after being victims of sexual harassment in Egypt, won several awards. But despite the great success of his first film, Diab waited five years to release his sophomore film. His reason: he wanted to be better. Diab told NYFA, “Time is your best ally … I got better. I spent five years working on myself, learning, watching movies, watching international cinema, trying to get better and trying to teach myself.” And the results of Diab’s five years of preparation were tangible, his second feature film, Clash, was the official opening selection at the 2016 Cannes Festival, ‘Un Certain Regard’ category.

    After the international success of his first two feature films, more doors opened. Diab found himself with a buffet of scripts and projects at his disposal – and he said “no” to them. For him, it was important to connect to the material and the projects weren’t clicking. Instead, he set out to write scripts with his wife and creative partner, Sarah Goher, and sold them to studios like Blumhouse Productions.

    Everything changed when he read Jeremy Slater’s script for Moon Knight. Diab and Goher immediately set out to prepare what would be a 200-page pitch complete with locations, a score, tone, pictures and costumes. The pitch would become Moon Knight’s bible, what is today the Marvel miniseries.

    Out of all the stories in the Marvel cinematic universe, Moon Knight was always the outcast in the catalog. Moon Knight made his first appearance in Werewolf by Night #32 as a man who received his powers as a byproduct of an ancient curse placed on him by an Egyptian god. The story, although it did not entirely align with the standard Marvel style, became a favorite amongst the editors at Marvel.

    The character and the story were distinct and for the Disney + miniseries, there was only one man for the job.

    Mohamed Diab and Oscar Isaac on the set of Moon Knight from Esquire

    Diab has long championed the fight for Arab representation and been vocal about misrepresentations of Egypt as a flat desert place with only pyramids interrupting the landscape. Diab told Screen Rant, “The way we are always portrayed in cinema has always bothered Egyptians, because it’s mostly not shot in Egypt. Imagine Paris, and you’re seeing Big Ben at the back. It’s insulting, and it hurts. Or it’s shot in Egypt, but you’re trying to make it a bit exotic, so you always see the pyramids and the desert.”

    As Marvel’s first Arab director, Diab made sure that this time around, Egypt was represented accurately. By collaborating closely with the film’s production designer and costume designer, Diab was able to depict Egypt as it is. He also made sure to bring along some of Egypt’s best, editor Ahmez Hafez and Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih to create the series’ score and ensured that 90% of the film’s Egyptians roles went to Egyptians. Diab told NYFA,“I hope that Moon Knight, if it succeeds, opens doors for more Egyptians – I tried my best to make a Moon Knight with an Egyptian flavor.”

    Diab’s 200-page bible and search for authenticity proved to be successful; the series premiered last week to rave reviews.

    Diab’s former screenwriting instructor and current Director of the Film Festival Department at NYFA, Crickett Rumley remembers Mohamed fondly, “I remember Mohamed as a thoughtful, inquisitive, observant student of both screenwriting and human nature. It’s been thrilling to watch him grow as a filmmaker, to see his stories connect with audiences first in his home country then in larger and larger arenas on the international film scene.”

    Mohamed Diab shared with NYFA his advice for aspiring filmmakers, “believe in yourself … The people who achieve their goals are the people who bet on themselves and take risks.” He added, “I knew one day I would be back [in Hollywood], I was in Hollywood 15 years ago and I knew I would be back when I was ready.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Mohamed Diab on all of his hard work, success and dedication to authentic representation!


    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.


    April 11, 2022 • Diversity, Screenwriting • Views: 424

  • NYFA Alum Issa Rae Wins at 2022 NAACP Image Awards


    HBO aired the last episode of the hit-show Insecure on December 26, 2021. In its wake the show left millions of sad (but proud) fans behind and took with it 10 nominations for the 2022 NAACP’s for its superb farewell season. 

    The 5-season show was hailed a critical success from the beginning and its final season did not disappoint. Down to the very last episode “everythings gonna be, ok?!”, Issa Rae kept the ball in the air. The show had been a favorite across generations and garnered Issa a huge following since its premiere in October 2016. However, last December fans had to bid adieu to the show, but last week, the NAACP handed Issa some parting gifts: several awards.

    🏆 Outstanding Comedy Series

    “Insecure” — WINNER

    🏆 Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

    Issa Rae, “Insecure” — WINNER

    🏆 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

    Issa Rae – Insecure -“Everything’s Gonna Be, Okay?!”  — WINNER

    At this year’s NAACP Image Awards, Rae won Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series for her landmark series Insecure,  which also won the Outstanding Comedy Series category, beating populars shows like Black-Ish, Harlem, Run The World, and The Upshaws

    Rae’s performance as Issa Dee won over her co-star Yvonne Orji as well as Tracee Ellis Ross for Black-Ish, Regina Hall for Black Monday, and Loretta Devine for Family Reunion. But it didn’t stop there, Rae also won the Outstanding Writing In A Comedy Series category for the Insecure series finale “everything’s gonna be, okay?!” ⁣⁣



    NYFA congratulates Issa Rae for all of her hard work and successes!



    March 2, 2022 • Acting, Diversity, Screenwriting • Views: 736

  • Q&A with NYFA Screenwriting Alum Shreyas Ayaluri


    NYFA One-Year Screenwriting alum Shreyas Ayaluri hails from India and currently resides in Los Angeles, California were he’s been working as a screenwriter since graduating in 2018.

    Shreyas’ recent film Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea has been gaining traction in the film festival circuit and was Second Rounder at the Austin Film Festival. Second Rounders were chosen from a record field of 14,648 scripts entered in Screenplay, Digital Series, Playwriting, and Fiction Podcast Competitions at AFF.

    Shreyas spoke with NYFA about his passion for storytelling, his process and his “pandemic baby” Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea.

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

    Shreyas Ayaluri (SA): At the age of 22, I decided that I want to tell stories for a living, and quit my perfectly fine advertising job. I moved to the states from India with little-to-no knowledge of screenwriting and film history. I had heard good things about New

     York Film Academy’s screenwriting program and I knew I had to start there. So I started my storytelling journey in the spring of 2018, among aspiring artists and working professionals, and it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

    NYFA: Why have you decided to focus on screenwriting?

    SA: Ever since I was a little kid, I was obsessed with Hollywood and storytelling. I grew up watching Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, The Karate Kid and I would conjure up characters, situations, set pieces in my head and put that on a piece of paper. I always had a certain bond with paper and  pen that grew and transitioned to a keypad and a screen. It sounds anticlimactic but the point is I would always write. I just had a lot of stories in me that I wanted to share. I would later write short stories, experiment with genres and linearity and post it on my since-deleted blog. My friends and family seemed to really like my work, but then again they are friends and family. I was later able to secure a copywriting job because of that very blog. And one day as I was driving back home from my copywriting job, I stopped at a billboard of an ad I wrote, and that was it, when I saw my words spread across that massive billboard, it hit me – I finally knew what I really wanted to do with my life.

    NYFA: What are your day-to-day duties as a screenwriter?

    SA: The world of screenwriting hasn’t changed much, maybe the last change was the transition to laptops from typewriters. That reminds me, I’ve always wondered what they did back in the day when they had a typo in the second to last line, but I digress. “Screenwriting” sounds fancy but for me, it’s really a lot of observation, contemplation and introspection. I love it. The day’s writing usually begins with an idea I scribbled down before I went to bed the previous night, and knitting an idea mentally before I put it down on the paper and from there it’s a lot of testing and seeing what sticks. And I spend at least an hour digging through various rabbit holes to find the perfect music for a specific scene. When I’m able to churn out good five to ten pages, it’s like a VIP pass to Coachella with your favorite artists headlining. The feeling is euphoric. No, I’ve never been to Coachella.

    Every story idea blossoms from my memories or the ones that I think are memories, stories I hear, someone I met, some experience I had, felt and from there I pull myself out completely and try and write that very thing objectively.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your most recent film? What inspired it? 

    SA: I wrote a silly idea I had into a full blown screenplay during the pandemic called “Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea” as an ode to Jeff Goldblum and also to bring some laughter during those testing times, and little did I know the screenplay took off and garnered some great reviews! Today EEJR, my pandemic baby, has been gaining great traction in the festivals, and has been placed as:

    Screencraft Comedy 2021— Quarterfinalist

    Austin Film Festival 2021— Second Rounder

    StoryPros Awards 14th Annual — Semifinalist

    Filmmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards Season 6 — Quarterfinalist

    Still awaiting results from other top-tier festivals. And through all of that, I was able to get Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea in front of some really influential people in the industry, and is currently being viewed and vetted by a few managers.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

    SA: I’m working on a couple of different projects at the moment: a sci-fi feature, an unscripted TV show pitch, and my passion project, a limited series that I’ve been ideating for years. The show sprouts from childhood memories that couldn’t be more far from reality. I know, what kind of an elevator pitch was that? But that’s how my mind works. I’m also currently shopping for representation.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work?

    SA: The school taught me all there is to learn in screenwriting. NYFA gave me the skills I needed to adapt and grow with the industry and its needs. 

    Also, the courage to break a few rules here and there once I was well-versed on the subject. Instructors at NYFA are simultaneously working in the industry or at least have one foot in the industry so they’re not only teaching you the subject but are also sharing their industry experience as they live it. And you want all those tidbits, their experiences, the tales they remember from the backlot and that’s what makes NYFA so wholesome. Jerry Shandy & Benjamin Sztajnkrycer were two such instructors who went along with my idiosyncrasies and pushed me to further explore and create.

    I graduated from NYFA’s one-year screenwriting program in 2018, and the feature screenplay that I developed while in the program “Amuse Me” fetched me an award for Best Screenplay and a bunch of accolades from top tier festivals, and is still going strong. The script went to Austin twice. There were queries from the industry members for the script – and this was my first ever screenplay! And since then I have written over 7 screenplays including features & tv (most of them placed in top-tier film festivals) produced multiple award-winning shorts and went on to write a song for Broadway.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    SA: NYFA’s curriculum is such that, they not only teach you the subject but they also guide you through all aspects of filmmaking, and and at the end of it, you can have your first screenplay, your directorial debut, your first film that you produced and your acting reel for Curb Your Enthusiasm season 15. 

    Think of NYFA as the coolest and the fastest DMV that has international staff and comes with its own driving school that not only provides you with the license but also teaches you how to drive a car, a truck, a jet-ski, and also a Segway, even if you went there only for a scooter. 

    You’re surrounded by such talented people from all walks of life, you’re always learning. The exposure, the experience and the knowledge is irreplaceable. NYFA is the best place to create, experiment, fail and to rinse & repeat. 

    NYFA: What is next for you?

    SA: I believe the world has seen and had enough. Especially this past year and honestly everyone needs a break. People are just running crazy, there’s so much stress and anxiety everywhere. I just want to bring laughter into this world. I want to be an enabler in all this. And that’s what I’m trying to do through my stories. I want to bring back the charm and the fun of the 80’s and 90’s with today’s relevance and themes wrapped in a delightful, light package, and leave all the preachings, the teachings and the Oscar tales to the wiser ones.

    NYFA congratulates Shreyas on his successes and Elvis Escobar & Juniper Lea!


    February 18, 2022 • Diversity, Film Festivals, International Diversity, Screenwriting • Views: 1291




    NYFA Celebrates Oscar 2022 Nominations

    The nominations for the 94th Annual Academy Awards are in! This year’s nominees were
    announced by the internet’s favorites Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan on Tuesday,
    February 8th.

    By the pricking of my thumbs, some nominations this way come.

    There were some snubs, firsts, surprises and some not-so-surprising but entirely welcomed
    moments, like Denzel Washington dethroning himself as the most-nominated Black actor with
    his 10th nomination for The Tragedy of Macbeth.

    The Power of the Dog leads with 12 Oscar nominations including Best Picture,
    Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Adapted Screenplay and director Jane Campion makes
    history as the first female director to be nominated for Best Director twice.
    The Power of the Dog’s
    Cinematographer Ari Wegner could make history as the first woman to win Best Cinematography.

    Coming in close second this year is Dune with 10 Oscar nominations
    including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Visual
    Effects. NYFA 3D Animation and VFX Alum Francesco Panzieri was the in-house compositor for
    the adaptation of the Frank Herbert classic. In a Q&A with NYFA about the film, Panzieri
    told NYFA that he had been tapped for the project long before it began production; the
    in-house team at Wylie VFX sought his collaboration after Panzieri’s work on Terminator: Dark Fate.

    Also nominated for Best Picture is NYFA Guest Speaker Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. NYFA Musical Theatre Alum Ilda Mason was casted as Luz, a member of the sharks in Spielberg’s remake, shortly after her run on Broadway in Ivo van Hove’s Broadway revival of West Side Story in 2020. The on-screen revival is also nominated for Best Cinematography making it the 7th Academy nomination for Spielberg’s long-time collaborator and NYFA Guest Speaker Janusz Kaminski. But perhaps most outstanding is Steven Spielberg’s nomination for Best Director; with this nomination, Spielberg became the first director to be nominated 11 times in the category, dethroning former record holder and cult-favorite, Martin Scorsese.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter has been all the rave since premiering last December
    and the debut feature is not letting up. Gyllenhaal is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
    for her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s classic of the same title. The film is also
    represented in the Best Actress category, with Olivia Colman nominated for her
    outstanding performance in Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut alongside Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), Nicole Kidman (Becoming the Ricardos), Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye). Also nominated for her work on The Lost Daughter is Jessie Buckley for Best Supporting Actress. The film’s producers Osnat Handelsmen – Keren and Talia Kleinhendler spoke at length with the Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, Tova Laiter, during a Q&A about the process (and difficulty) of securing the rights to adapt an Elena Ferrante novel and filming during a pandemic with closed borders and a mostly international cast and crew. It seems it was worth it in the end as the film continues to collect nominations this award season. Not too bad for a directorial debut.

    Beloved animated film Luca brings in a nomination for Best Animated Film for Pixar Studios.
    NYFA Alum Raquel Bordin is part of Pixar’s International Editorial Department, where she
    worked for 11 weeks putting the final touches on the coming-of-age Italian film. More of
    Bordin’s work is headed to the big screen. She recently confirmed with us that she is
    working on the animated sci-fi feature, Lightyear, set to release this summer.

    Also in the Best Animated Film category is NYFA Guest Speaker Amy Smeed who continues to
    soar as Head of Animation at Walt Disney Animation Studio and co-head animator for
    Raya and The Last Dragon
    which has been nominated for Best Animated Film. The animated Danish documentary, Flee, is also nominated and makes Oscar history as the first film to be nominated for Best Animated Film, Best International Feature and Best Documentary.

    Nominated alongside Dune for Best Visual Effects is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Director Destin Daniel Cretton and actor Simu Liu spoke with NYFA during a Q&A curated and moderated by Tova Laiter about bringing the Marvel comic to life, representation and working with special effects.

    Lastly, Drive My Car, adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story by the same name and
    directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, is the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture
    and the first Japanese film to be nominated in more than one category including
    Best International Feature, Best Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

    NYFA congratulates all the nominees, alumni and guest speakers for their nominations at the
    94th Annual Academy Awards! We look forward to hearing the winners on March 27th, 2022 on

    Check out the complete list of nominees below:


    “CODA” – Winner
    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Drive My Car”
    “King Richard”
    “Licorice Pizza”
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “West Side Story”


    Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”
    Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” – Winner
    Judi Dench, “Belfast”
    Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”
    Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”


    Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast”
    Troy Kotsur, “CODA” – Winner
    Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog”
    J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos”
    Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”


    “Drive My Car” – Winner
    “The Hand of God”
    “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”
    “The Worst Person in the World”


    “Lead Me Home”
    “The Queen of Basketball” – Winner
    “Three Songs for Benazir”
    “When We Were Bullies”


    “Summer of Soul” – Winner
    Writing with Fire”


    “King Richard”
    “No Time to Die” – Winner
    “Four Good Days”


    “Encanto” – Winner
    “The Mitchells vs. The Machine”
    “Raya and the Last Dragon”


    “CODA” – Winner
    “Drive My Car”
    “The Lost Daughter”
    “The Power of the Dog”


    “Belfast” – Winner
    “Don’t Look Up”
    “King Richard”
    “Licorice Pizza”
    “The Worst Person in the World”


    Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos”
    Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog”
    Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick… Boom!”
    Will Smith, “King Richard” – Winner
    Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”


    Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – Winner
    Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter”
    Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
    Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”
    Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”


    Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
    Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
    Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
    Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” – Winner
    Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
    “West Side Story”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
    “West Side Story”


    “Cruella” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “Westside Story”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “No Time to Die”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “Westside Story”


    “Affairs of the Art”
    “Robin Robin”
    “The Windshield Wiper” – Winner


    “Ala Kachuu — Take and Run”
    “The Dress”
    “The Long Goodbye” – Winner
    “On My Mind”
    “Please Hold”


    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Dune” – Winner
    “Parallel Mothers”
    “The Power of the Dog”


    “Dune” – Winner
    “Free Guy”
    “No Time to Die”
    “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
    “Spider-Man: No Way Home”


    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Dune” – Winner
    “King Richard”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “Tick, Tick… Boom!”


    “Coming 2 America”
    “Cruella” – Winner
    “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – Winner
    “House of Gucci”

  • Q&A with NYFA MFA Screenwriting & MFA Acting for Film Alum Antaneise Jasonya


    Antaneise Jasonya’s Headshot

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting and MFA Acting for Film alum Antaneise Jasonya is an actor and writer from the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois and recently booked her first commercial with DoorDash! Antaneise also wrote and starred in the short film I’m Press which has had a successful festival run. The film has been selected by Urban Media Makers Festival, Black Women Film Network and Feedback Romance Festival.

    Antaneise spoke with NYFA about the laughter of an audience as inspiration, the importance of slow and steady networking and her other projects!

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Antaneise Jasonya (AJ): My name is Antaneise Jasonya and I’m from the south suburbs of Chicago, a really small town called Monee. Growing up, I had a gymnastics and music background mostly but loved any and everything involving entertainment. I’d sit in front of the TV watching The Spice Girls movie for days at a time if I could. In 2015, I moved to California and performed as an LA Clipper’s entertainer for 3 seasons, teaching gymnastics on the side. Then, in 2018, I decided to go to NYFA to pursue my childhood dreams of becoming an actress. The best part was getting close to my classmates who are now life-long friends!

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating? Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    AJ: Well, after writing my thesis script, premiering it at Warner Brothers theater for graduation and hearing real laughs from the audience at the showing, I was extremely inspired and actually decided to go back to NYFA to learn more about screenwriting. I just recently finished the MFA Screenwriting program and since then I’ve honestly gotten much needed rest. I also got an agent, booked my first commercial, and continued to fine tune scripts I began writing in the program. Currently, working on my web series The Love Equation; Romantic Dramedies are my favorite genre to write and act in, hands down!

    Check out the trailer for I’m Press below!

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project?

    AJ: The latest project that I worked on was acting in the DoorDash commercial. Fun Fact: after getting my agent, this was the very first audition I was sent on. On set they asked if I wanted to rep a specific team since it was sponsored by the NBA, and of course I chose my team, the LA Clippers! It was so cool wearing that red shiny jacket and felt sort of full circle. Oh, I didn’t originally have the line I’m reading, they kind of just threw it to me on set, I went with it, and they chose it for the spot!

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    AJ: From NYFA I learned to always be ready, take direction, and have confidence by making the line my own. Although I don’t consider myself the best networker because of how low key I can be at times, I also learned that networking even slowly helps. I say this because I ultimately received this opportunity because of my agency, getting an agent came about after interning with them first, and I interned with them because I took a chance at NYFA’s suggestion to find an internship.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Antaneise Jasonya on her first commercial booking and the success of her first short film!



    February 4, 2022 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Diversity, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 832

  • NYFA Alum Pens First Tanzanian Film to Stream on Netflix, “Binti”


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting Alum Angela Ruhinda is a writer and producer from Tanzania. In 2018, Ruhinda started a production company, Black Unicorn Studios, with her sister Alinda. After holding a screenwriting competition for writers in Tanzania, they found the story that would be the studio’s first feature film, Binti.

    Binti, which centers on the lives of four women as they navigate entrepreneurship, motherhood, infertility and love in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, will premiere on Netflix on January 7th. It is the first Tanzanian film to be acquired by Netflix for global distribution!

    Angela spoke with NYFA about Binti, the start of Black Unicorn Studios and the challenges of doing post-production during a global pandemic.

    How did you come across the project or idea for Binti?  

    In 2018, I started a production company with my sister, Alinda. We named it Black Unicorn Studios. Our first project was a stage play that I wrote. After we wrapped our theatre run, we decided we wanted to venture into film. We had a screenwriting competition only open to Tanzanian writers. We asked for original stories that spoke to the theme of female empowerment. In early 2019, we picked our winning story – Her Life by Maria Shoo. We acquired the script and re-wrote it. We loved that it told the story of four contemporary Tanzanian women and thought it would be the perfect first project for our company. The name ‘Binti’ didn’t occur to us until we finished post production. ‘Binti’ is Swahili for ‘young woman’ and no other name is more fitting for this story.

    What was your process for writing and producing the film? 

    After acquiring the original screenplay, we approached a dear friend of mine named Seko Shamte to join our team as a director and producer. She ended up co-writing the shooting draft of Binti with me. We spent many Saturday afternoons writing powerful scenes together and the whole process took us about a month or so. And then the pre-production process began. The three of us assembled a dream team for the crew. Everyone in the crew was Tanzanian with only three exceptions. Our talented cinematographer, Justin Aguirre, flew in from L.A. I worked with him previously on a pilot called Occupied and really enjoyed working with him. Our sound guy was from Kenya and our assistant director flew in from Zimbabwe. Our director had a lot of experience with these two men and insisted they were the best of the best. We had open casting calls for the actors and saw a lot of great raw talent. There were chemistry tests to make sure we got the right leads in our four women. While we prepped the crew for the three-week shoot in July, we held rehearsals for our actors so that no steps were missed. The shoot was exactly 21 days in July 2019.

    Producers Angela and Alinda Ruhinda on the set of “Binti.”

    What was your biggest challenge while producing Binti?

    The greatest challenge I had while producing Binti happened during post-production. The pandemic completely disrespected our deadline. The film was initially edited in Tanzania but it also travelled to LA for more editing, Egypt for sound and to India for VFX effects. As you can imagine, each location had its own lockdowns and restrictions so we were constantly on standby and it delayed our deadlines. We ended up completing everything in early 2021 after we secured a distributor.

    Do you have a filmmaker statement you’d like to share about Binti?

    Binti is a love letter to African women. I also want everyone who watches Binti to see our strength, our beauty, our resilience and our ability to choose our own destiny.

    Has Binti been picked up for any festivals or competitions?

    Binti has already screened at several international festivals. It premiered at the Pan African Film Festival earlier this year. Binti has

    “Binti” movie poster

    also screened at Nollywood Film Week (Paris), Durban International Film Festival (SA), Jozi Film Festival (SA), Zanzibar International Film Festival and AFRIFF (Nigeria). In Zanzibar, Binti was awarded Best Feature Film which is something that we are really proud of. It’s a very prestigious film festival. Now we’re really looking forward to sharing it with the world via Netflix! January 7, 2022. Save the date!

    What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    During my time at NYFA, I studied screenwriting. Thus, NYFA taught me a lot about the art of storytelling. I learned how to carefully weave a story, how to create compelling characters and how to move an audience. I always thought my first feature would be a comedy because it is a genre I’ve always been more comfortable writing. However, when I was given the opportunity to show contemporary Tanzanian women enduring specific hardships, I tapped in to all that I learned in school. Drama and comedy are often seen as polar opposites but I’ve found that sometimes one genre can inform the other. In terms of producing a feature film, I literally learned everything on the job. And boy did I learn a lot!

    Are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

    I’m currently developing a TV series that I’m super excited about but can’t give any details on just yet. I would also like to write and produce one or two romantic comedies for 2022 and 2023. There are a lot of opportunities for African creators on the continent right now and it’s all very exciting!

    Do you have any advice for incoming NYFA students? 

    Soak in every single thing you learn at NYFA. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Start watching at least one film a day (something I was told during my first week). And if you can, start building your tribe by meeting creatives from other departments. If you’re a writer, collaborate with some of the producers, editors and actors. Make a few short films. Those relationships might become very valuable after you graduate and the practice will prepare you for the future.

    Be sure to catch Binti, today, on Netflix!



    January 6, 2022 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1563

  • NYFA Screenwriting Instructor Paul J. Salamoff Wins at 46th Annual Saturn Awards


    Paul J. Salamoff, writer, director, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Instructor, received recognition for his latest feature film, Encounter (2019), at the 46th Annual Saturn Awards. The film was awarded ‘Best Independent Film’ at the Awards Ceremony and features a star-studded cast. The Saturn Awards, presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, recognizes great work in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. The non-profit organization was founded in 1972 and just a year later organized the first annual Saturn Awards.  

    Encounter stars Luke Hemsworth (Westworld), Anna Hutchison (Cabin in the Woods), Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon, Halloween III, Creepshow), Cheryl Texiera (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Glenn Keogh (Transformers: Age of Extinction), Vincent M. Ward (The Walking Dead), and Christopher Showerman (George of the Jungle 2). The film was produced by Amy Bailey and distributed by Vega Baby. 

    Encounter follows the story of a wheelchair-bound artist who, after having lost everything in a car crash (including his daughter), experiences hardship once more when his friends discover an otherworldly object crashed in a rural field. He continues to investigate in order to confirm if the strange alien life form has nefarious intentions or if it could be the key to getting back what he once lost. 

    Salamoff, the writer and director of Encounter, describes the film as “a deeply personal film to me and was shaped by the films and filmmakers that have inspired me over the years. Even though it is about loss, grief, and the fear of the unknown, ultimately it’s about hope.” The film is now available for viewing on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and released on Special Edition Blu-Ray.

    Screen still from Bob Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Screen still from Paul Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    The film was inspired by legendary science fiction shows and movies including, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Gattaca, Solaris, Another Earth, Moon, Ex-Machina, and Arrival. Salamoff explored themes of loss, grief, and fear of the unknown in Encounter, with the underlying story surrounding the subject of hope. 

    An industry expert with over 30 years of professional experience in film, television, video gaming, and commercials, Salamoff has worked as a writer, producer, director, executive, comic creator, storyboard artist, and make-up FX artist. He was recently named one of The Tracking Board’s Top 100 up & coming Screenwriters and has developed projects with Mosaic Media Group, Hollywood Gang, Blumhouse, Wigram Productions, Silver Pictures, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Vertigo and Eclectic Pictures. 

    Screen still from Bob Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Screen still from Paul Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Salamoff is the author of ‘ON THE SET: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette’ and the graphic novels ‘Discord,’ ‘Tales of Discord,’ ‘Logan’s Run,’ and issues of ‘Vincent Price Presents.’

    New York Film Academy congratulates Paul Salamoff for his much-deserved win and recognition for the film Encounter at this year’s Annual Saturn Awards.


    November 23, 2021 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1133

  • Recent NYFA Screenwriting Alumni Celebrate with Industry Pitch Fest


    Due to the global pandemic NYFA, like most of the world, turned to remote education and many of NYFA LA’s recent Screenwriting graduates took classes, developed and workshopped their stories, and pitched in a virtual setting.  But on Thursday, October 7th, 2021, for the first time in over a year, our students were able to pitch in-person to industry professionals.  We celebrated with a return to the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood for an industry PitchFest for the MFA and BFA graduates who completed their degrees during the pandemic.

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent BFA & MFA Graduates at the Andaz Hotel for NYFA’s 2021 PitchFest

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting students, offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their Film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.  And as an added bonus, many of the Screenwriting department faculty came to the Andaz to support the alums and, in many cases, meet them face-to-face for the first time.

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent MFA & BFA graduates pitching their thesis projects at the Andaz Hotel

    The students’ dedication and passionate love for their work shined as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year.  Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent MFA & BFA graduates pitching their thesis projects at the Andaz Hotel

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, this group of talented and creative students’ hard work has paid off, as they pitched agents, managers, studios, and Alternative Media, TV and Film production company execs in a relaxed, round-table environment.

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent MFA & BFA graduates celebrate with Screenwriting Department faculty

    Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Morgan Dameron, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including — Verve, Lit Entertainment Group, Anonymous Content, Fake Empire, VMI Worldwide, Imagination9, Yousif Nash, Scenario Entertainment, and Muidem Media.

    NYFA wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA and BFA graduates and wish them the best as they move forward in their professional journeys!


    October 25, 2021 • Alumni Events, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1172