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  • The NYFA 20/20 Series: A Conversation with Author and Consultant Thomas Werner

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    Guest Spotlight: Who is Thomas Werner? 

    Thomas Werner, Author, Consultant, and Instructor with the New York Film Academy joined global viewers with host, Liz Hinlein for our June 30th 20/20 Online Series. Werner is the author of The Fashion Image with a second book on the way. 

    Author and Consultant Thomas Werner

    Author and Consultant Thomas Werner

    Now a Consultant and Founder of TWP Creative Edge, Werner supports artists and students to achieve their goals as they pursue careers in Fine Arts. As a Curator and former Owner of the Thomas Werner Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea Art District, Werner built a robust network of art collectors over the years, during which time he developed a keen eye for various qualities of work. It’s from this experience that Werner is able to support students with active, hands-on learning experiences. 

    Every Artist Needs Funding. What Do I Keep in Mind for Grant-Writing? 

    Short answer: start small. Thomas Werner advises artists to begin with small funds in order to build experience in the skill of grant-writing. For example, he suggests beginning with $2,000 or $3,000 total funds at a time. Once new artists perfect their writing style based on successes and failures, Werner suggests targeting larger funding opportunities. 

    A grant is “not about me and my artistic vision,” says Werner, but rather a description of “how you’re going to make that vision happen.” In order to set realistic expectations for a project, writers should remain clearly defined in their scope of work that ultimately fits the mission of the organization. According to Werner, sometimes organizations will ask for budgets, so it’s critical that young artists keep their goals in check. At the end of a project, you will be expected to deliver on what you promised. 

    An Artists’s Life on Social 

    Young artists may already have a social media presence on several different platforms. But Werner advises keeping professional and personal lives separate. While artists are human and may be expected to showcase themselves in some of the content they promote, Werner advises keeping the content focused on the work itself. In order to do so, artists may consider creating separate social media handles for the “brand”. 

    Actively promoting your brand is equally as important as having an online presence. Werner suggests a few channels for emerging artists to showcase themselves and their work. For example, he discusses his own presence on Instagram (you can follow Thomas Werner @thomaswernerprojects) and encourages artists to showcase their work in popup shows. 

    In-person and virtual networking offer a much-needed avenue for artists to grow their access to collectors. As a former gallery owner, Werner reminds viewers to pitch to smaller galleries alongside larger names. The reason: smaller gallery owners have a huge network of collectors given the fast-paced nature of their work. 

    Hang in There 

    Werner offers a few truths. He relays, “no one says ‘ your work is amazing, we’re going to fund what you do’ forever,” which means for emerging artists, grant-writing is an essential part of your career. As a consultant, Werner prides himself on his with students to advance their careers with tactile learning. With him, the interactions are not simply transactional. 

    Werner takes time to understand his client’s process. For example, he takes time out of his schedule to learn how the artist creates by visiting the studio or area in which they work and notes any blockers as part of the artists’ process. Anticipating criticism is one very real disincentive for artists to actively showcase their work.

    As a motivation for those who may be experiencing this fear, Werner shares a story from his own experience starting out in the field. During his early years exhibiting his work, much of his work was severely criticized by his own educators. He says, “the work I exhibited–I was told was awful,” Werner pauses before continuing, “but it sold. That’s why I don’t tell people that their work is awful.” 

    As Werner advanced his career, he became his “biggest critic.” Now hyper-aware of everything related to his work and his business, he shares that his journey from curator to gallerist offered experiences that enhanced his ability to tune in with the qualities of his work that are more likely to sell. 

    Get in Touch with Thomas Werner

    If you’re a student or young artist interested in learning more about Thomas Werner, his background, or his ongoing support for emerging artists, follow or DM Werner on his Instagram profile (@thomaswernerprojects) or visit his website thomaswernerprojects.com

    Don’t miss our next 20/20 Online Series with Liz Hinlein by registering directly on our NYFA Events page. The virtual event is held every Wednesday at 3 pm EST

    Host Spotlight: Who is Liz Hinlein?

    Liz Hinlein

    20/20 Online Series Moderator Liz Hinlein

    Liz Hinlein is the Creative Director of Filmmaking and Cinematography with the New York Film Academy. During her tenure, she created our popular weekly virtual event, The 20/20 Series

    Hinlein is an award-winning DGA director and graduate of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her background in filmmaking and media content includes a robust portfolio of work that spans feature-length films, commercials, and music videos for artists including Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone.

    The 20/20 Series is a pop-up virtual event that takes us into the homes, hubs and workspaces of an array of dynamic creative visionaries to allow for relaxed, engaging conversations on craft, creation and artistic vision.

    Each conversation with a creative visionary features 20 minutes of discussion with a moderator and a 20 minute Q&A from YOU, the audience.

    This event is open to the public, as a means of promoting global connection and creativity, a key mission of NYFA.

    You can catch videos from The 20/20 Series as they are released, here

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    July 30, 2021 • Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 463

  • Alum Janek Ambros’ Feature ‘Mondo Hollywoodland’ Available on August 3

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    Janek Ambros, Filmmaker and Producer of Human Capital (2019), Ten Thousand Saints (2015), and Imminent Threat (2015), directed a new narrative film, Mondo Hollywoodland. Recently acquired by Green Apple Entertainment, the film will be released digitally on August 3, 2021, on Amazon and video-on-demand. The film will also release on Friday, July 30, 2021 in Los Angeles at select theaters, including the Arena Cinelounge. Ambros is an NYFA Producing alum, who has worked on a series of collaborative projects both while as a student as well as after graduation alongside other NYFA alum. 

    Mondo Hollywoodland

    ‘Mondo Hollywoodland’ coming out on August 3, 2021

    The film follows a mushroom dealer and man from the fifth dimension as they adventure on a drug-fueled series of events throughout Hollywood, California. The film was named after the X-rated 1967 documentary, Mondo Hollywood. Ambros’ film, Mondo Hollywoodland was executive-produced by Oscar-nominated James Cromwell. 

    The film premiered at the DTLA Film Festival where it won the ‘Creative Vision Award.’ Mondo Hollywoodland made an international appearance at the Innuendo International Film Festival where Ambros won ‘Best Director.’

    Ambros is head of Assembly Line Entertainment, which has produced a series of films including Since August (2022), Legend of Tayos, Exposure 36 (2022). The NYFA alum is co-executive producer of Monica, currently in production. The film Since August competed for the Golden Goblet at the Shanghai Film Festival and will be out in 2022. 

    Janek Ambros

    Director and Producer Janek Ambros

    Ambros has a robust network across industry professionals, including other NYFA alumni, resulting in a few collaborative projects throughout his career. For example, Ambros is a co-producer of the film, Legend of Tayos, alongside fellow NYFA alum, Galo Sablantes. 

    NYFA encourages readers to follow Assembly Line Entertainment’s Instagram account (@assemblylineent), where the team promotes their upcoming films. The company is soon to launch “Sixties” on the platform, which will highlight sixty-second films from filmmakers around the world.

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    July 30, 2021 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 544

  • New York Film Academy Instructors Shoot “The Sisters Karras” And Enter Post-Production

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    Two estranged half-sisters, a will reading, a valuable antique rug, and a mysterious stranger. 

    NYFA Acting for Film and Filmmaking instructor Micah Stathis’ latest film, The Sisters Karras, has deep roots within the NYFA community. With Stathis’ SK Deli Market Productions at the helm of the production, the film also includes New York campus instructors Dan Rodriguez, Dennis Green, and Andy Mendez among the film’s cast and crew.

    Poster for “The Sisters Karras”

    The film, shot last Summer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is an original feature written, directed, and starring Stathis. NYFA teaching assistant for Acting for Film Dan Rodriguez served as the film’s director of photography, with NYFA’s Post-Production Supervisor, Andy Mendez, serving as the main editor of the film. Joining Stathis in the cast is NYFA screenwriting instructor Dennis Green.

    Photo courtesy of Micah Stathis

    The shoot itself proved challenging for the crew as safety took precedent with the filming during the pandemic. 

    “It was very stressful shooting during the pandemic,” explained Stathis. “We were a SAG registered production, so the COVID protocols were very strict and required a lot of additional planning and precautions. Not to mention, it’s really hot shooting in New York in August…especially while having to wear masks!”

    With the production wrapped, The Sisters Karras now enters the post-production phase. Like many filmmakers know, shooting the film is half the battle, with a huge part of the filmmaking process dedicated to putting all the finishing touches on the project and getting the film out in the public eye.

    Dan Rodriguez (Left) and Micah Stathis (Right)

    “I hope that audiences enjoy the tragicomic tone and nature of the film. I hope audiences find the story of the two sisters captivating, funny, and stressful but ultimately, relatable,” shared Stathis.

    Photo courtesy of Micah Stathis

    “We are definitely aiming for a festival run with an eye towards sales and distribution. We have already been in dialogue with a few distribution companies who are waiting for the film to be ready. We do not want to rush the post-production process and want to make sure the film is, ultimately, as good as it can possibly be. That’s why we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign specifically for post-production.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates the instructors who banded together to create a feature film safely in the middle of the pandemic. To learn more about The Sisters Karras, you can visit the film’s Kickstarter page by clicking here.

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    April 2, 2021 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 14602

  • The 2021 Golden Globes Winners

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    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has announced the nominees for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards. With an NBC semi-virtual ceremony set to take place on February 28, return hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey will no doubt bring the laughs at the expense of this year’s list of nominees; and with many heavyweight shows left out of this year’s nominations due to production delays, this year’s nominations brought many snubs, surprises, and inevitable recognition for many.

    Netflix dominated this year’s Golden Globes, receiving six nominations apiece for David Fincher’s Hollywood bygone era film Mank and binge-worthy drama series The Crown. Also leading nominations for Netflix was Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of The Chicago 7, featuring a stacked cast including Sacha Baron Cohen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, and more.

    The film, produced by NYFA Screenwriting alum Shivani Rawat, is based on the infamous 1969 trial in which seven individuals faced multiple charges including conspiracy after counterculture protests took place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

    Kelvin Harrison Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Mark Rylance (Netflix)

    The Trial of The Chicago 7 earned five nominations total including the coveted Best Motion Picture – Drama category for Rawat (alongside The Father, Mank, Nomadland, & Promising Young Woman). The film’s other nominations included a supporting actor nod for Sacha Baron Cohen, both best director and screenplay acknowledgments for Aaron Sorkin, and a nomination for best original song for “Hear My Voice” by Daniel Pemberton.

    Shivani Rawat at an event for The IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village (2020)

    Rawat attended NYFA’s 1-Year Screenwriting program at the New York campus in 2007. She has since become a film producer with a special focus on independent films. Some of her credits include critically acclaimed films like Captain Fantastic, Danny Collins, Trumbo, and Brian Banks. In addition to The Trial of The Chicago 7, Rawat also produced the 2020 film Wander Darkley starring Diego Luna and Sienna Miller. Her next release, The Ice Road, starring Liam Neeson, is expected to be released later this year.

    Al Pacino in “Hunters” (Amazon Prime Video)

    Included in the nominations were NYFA guest speakers Al Pacino, who received a nod for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (Hunters), alongside The Mandalorian’s Carl Weathers; Glenn Close for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Hillbilly Elegy); and Bryan Cranston for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Your Honor).

    New York Film Academy congratulates all of this year’s nominees and wishes Shivani Rawat and the cast and crew of The Trial of The Chicago 7 all the best during the upcoming award ceremony. The winners will be announced on February 28, 2021.

    View the full list of 2021 Golden Globes nominations below:

    Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

    “Emily in Paris” (Netflix)

    “The Flight Attendant” (HBO Max)

    “The Great” (Hulu)

    “Schitt’s Creek” (CBC) – Winner

    “Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

    Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)

    Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)

    Al Pacino (“Hunters”)

    Matthew Rhys (“Perry Mason”)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”)

    Daisy Edgar-Jones (“Normal People”)

    Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”)

    Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”)

    Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) – Winner

    Best Director – Motion Picture

    Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    David Fincher, “Mank” (Netflix)

    Regina King, “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

    Aaron Sorkin, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

    Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Winner

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”)

    Kate Hudson (“Music”)

    Michelle Pfeiffer (“French Exit”)

    Rosamund Pike (“I Care a Lot”) – Winner

    Anya Taylor-Joy (“Emma”)

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

    Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)

    Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) – Winner

    Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)

    Gary Oldman (“Mank”)

    Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”)

    Best Television Series – Drama 

    “The Crown” (Netflix) – Winner

    “Lovecraft Country” (HBO Max)

    “The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)

    “Ozark” (Netflix)

    “Ratched” (Netflix)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama 

    Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)

    Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”)

    Emma Corrin (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Laura Linney (“Ozark”)

    Sarah Paulson (“Ratched”)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Bryan Cranston (“Your Honor”)

    Jeff Daniels (“The Comey Rule”)

    Hugh Grant (“The Undoing”)

    Ethan Hawke (“The Good Lord Bird”)

    Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”) – Winner

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) – Winner

    James Corden (“The Prom”)

    Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”)

    Dev Patel (“The Personal History of David Copperfield”)

    Andy Samberg (“Palm Springs”)

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

    Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

    Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) – Winner

    Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)

    Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)

    Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

    Best Motion Picture – Drama 

    “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

    “Mank” (Netflix)

    “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Winner

    “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)

    Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

    Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”)

    Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) – Winner

    Jared Leto (“The Little Things”)

    Bill Murray (“On the Rocks”)

    Leslie Odom, Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)

    Best Original Score – Motion Picture 

    “The Midnight Sky” (Netflix) – Alexandre Desplat

    “Tenet” (Warner Bros.) – Ludwig Göransson

    “News of the World” (Universal Pictures) – James Newton Howard

    “Mank” (Netflix) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

    “Soul” (Pixar) – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Jon Batiste – Winner

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy 

    Lily Collins (“Emily in Paris”)

    Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”)

    Elle Fanning (“The Great”)

    Jane Levy (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”)

    Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”) – Winner

    Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    “Normal People” (Hulu/BBC)

    “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) – Winner

    “Small Axe” (Amazon Studios/BBC)

    “The Undoing” (HBO)

    “Unorthodox” (Netflix)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    John Boyega (“Small Axe”) – Winner

    Brendan Gleeson (“The Comey Rule”)

    Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Jim Parsons (“Hollywood”)

    Donald Sutherland (“The Undoing”)

    Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy 

    “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios) – Winner

    “Hamilton” (Walt Disney Pictures)

    “Palm Springs” (Neon)

    “Music” (Vertical Entertainment)

    “The Prom” (Netflix)

    Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture 

    Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”)

    Olivia Colman (“The Father”)

    Jodie Foster (“The Mauritanian”) – Winner

    Amanda Seyfried (“Mank”)

    Helena Zengel (“News of the World”)

    Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language 

    “Another Round” (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

    “La Llorona” (Shudder)

    “The Life Ahead” (Netflix)

    “Minari” (A24) – Winner

    “Two of Us” (Magnolia Pictures)

    Best Screenplay – Motion Picture 

    Emerald Fennell – “Promising Young Woman” (Focus Features)

    Jack Fincher – “Mank” (Netflix)

    Aaron Sorkin – “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Winner

    Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton – “The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics)

    Chloe Zhao – “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy 

    Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”)

    Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”)

    Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”) – Winner

    Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”)

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television 

    Gillian Anderson (“The Crown”) – Winner

    Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)

    Julia Garner (“Ozark”)

    Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

    Cynthia Nixon (“Ratched”)

    Best Original Song – Motion Picture

    “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.) – H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas

    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) – Daniel Pemberton, Celeste

    “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead” (Netflix) – Diane Warren, Laura Pausini, Niccolò Agliardi – Winner

    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios) – Leslie Odom Jr, Sam Ashworth

    “Tigress & Tweed” from “The United States vs. Billie Holliday” (Hulu) – Andra Day, Raphael Saadiq

    Best Motion Picture – Animated 

    “The Croods: A New Age” (Universal Pictures)

    “Onward” (Walt Disney Pictures)

    “Over the Moon” (Netflix)

    “Soul” (Walt Disney Pictures) – Winner

    “Wolfwalkers” (Cartoon Saloon)

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    February 3, 2021 • Entertainment News, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2326

  • NYFA Screenwriting Alum Jon Mann on New Show “Pub Crawl” and Working in the Canadian Film Industry

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    Canadian native Jon Mann grew up with a love of movies and writing. Now Mann is living the best of both worlds as a screenwriter and director, working on projects like his latest television series Pub Crawl, released this November on Bell TV in Canada.

    I love movies. I read a lot as a kid, and for a while wanted to be a novelist,” shares Mann, “but even at that time, my goal was always to have one of my books be turned into a movie, so one day I figured I should cut out the middle man and become a screenwriter.”

    Photo courtesy of Jon Mann

    Mann, who graduated from NYFA’S 1-Year Screenwriting program in 2013, shares that being involved closely in the Canadian film industry has been a very positive experience, having worked on projects in his home country and in 2018 winning the National Screen Insitute’s Totally Television program with production partner, Rob Ramsay, for their pilot Wolfville.

    “It’s been interesting to also see the way my home province has handled COVID (the Atlantic Bubble, as it’s known). Our industry has boomed because it is so safe here right now compared to, literally, anywhere’s else,” says Mann. “Even last summer, it really picked up. The Lighthouse was filmed here a couple of summer’s ago, Adrien Brody is currently filming a miniseries here, and obviously, Schitt’s Creek has been incredible for the Canadian film industry. We’re kind of killin’ it.”

    “Pub Crawl” host Rob Ramsay

    With the Canadian film industry receiving more attention these days, Mann is excited to continue to work on projects in the Great White North, including his latest project Pub Crawl, a television series that explores the historically significant bars in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    “I have lived in Halifax for 10 years now and the culture here is so embedded in alcohol – for better or for worse. I think it is a healthy mix of cold winters and our location on the trade routes during the 1700s and the 1800s that created an environment where our social lives have practically depended on drinking for over 200 years.” shares Mann about the subject matter. “I could be wrong, but I have never seen a show like this. Telling the history of cities through the lens of the local drinking establishments makes a lot of sense. Halifax, and I’m sure cities of the same age, were literally built by people meeting in these bars and pubs.”

    Still from “Pub Crawl”

    With Halifax’s rich history, Mann hopes that viewers can appreciate not only the region’s pub culture but the stories behind buildings near their homes. “Whether they are pubs, schools, homes, whatever, there is history hidden in plain sight if you are willing to sit down and have a beer with the right person and ask the right questions.”

    The show itself, Man explains, could work in any location around the world covering any point in time in history. “Atlantic Canada has a ton of great locations. St. John’s, Newfoundland would be perfect. The dream would be to take it to Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Boston. Whether it’s the prohibition era in the Americas or going to places like Café de Flore in Paris, there is a lot of history to go around.”

    Still from “Pub Crawl”

    As a writer, Mann encourages others with an original idea to work on projects they can be excited about. “You have to enjoy it, or, I don’t really know what to say. Maybe being a writer isn’t for you. Why would you want to do it if it feels like a chore? I’m a firm believer that if you aren’t enjoying the story you are trying to tell, it will show in the end result.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank NYFA alum, Jon Mann, for sharing more about his latest project and looks forward to what’s next from the writer/director. Pub Crawl premiers November 24, 2020, on Bell TV in Canada.

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    November 13, 2020 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1809

  • NYFA Screenwriting Alum Miguel Ángel Parra’s Enjoys Successful Festival Run With Screenplay ‘The Pink House’

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    We hear it all the time, “write what you know.” As a journalist, Spanish native Miguel Ángel Parra was all too familiar with that phrase and went from applying it to his work as a journalist to becoming a screenwriter writing stories that reflect pockets of his own life. 

    After he lost his job in January 2019, Parra realized it was time to make his dreams come true and focus solely on screenwriting. He also credits the many “voices that have been silenced along the way throughout history” to being the driving force behind wanting to make people listen to those stories as a screenwriter. 

    Enrolling in the 8-Week Screenwriting program at NYFA finally allowed Parra to learn how to improve crafting the structure of his scripts and how to write better dialogue for his characters, crediting instructor Dennis Green as being the driving force behind learning new techniques.

    While studying at NYFA, Parra wrote his screenplay for The Pink House, which has since gone on to win screenplay contests in the Madrid International Film Festival (2020), the LGBTQ Toronto  Film Festival (2020), the All Genre Screenplay Contest (sponsored by Amazon, 2020), and become a semi-finalist in the Nashville International Film Festival (2020). 

    “It [The Pink House] is my first feature film script and I wrote it in English! When I came back to Spain, I translated it into Spanish and rewrote it several times,” shared Parra. “During the quarantine, I finished it and translated into English again in order to be able to submit to international competitions.” 

    NYFA screenwriting alum Miguel Ángel Parra

    The Pink House is a dramedy that, while humorous, is also a story about the abandonment suffered by LGBTI seniors. “The young activists who fought for the LGBT rights in the late 70s in Spain are nowadays men and women in their 70s and 8os and most of them don’t have a home to live in, as they were rejected by their families or have lost their couples,” explained Parra about his award-winning script. 

    “It is a story that needs to be told. In my country we lived 40 years of dictatorship, with a hard repression on these people, so I felt that I HAD to thank them for their fight somehow because, thanks to them, we have the rights we have right now.”

    Parra hopes that audiences, especially the younger generation, will be able understand that the story is about having the rights and freedoms of today “because someone fought for them.” Since Parra has submitted his script to multiple festivals and competitions, he has received incredible notoriety and shared that the positive response is overwhelming.

    “Being my first feature film script, it is quite exciting to see that people (and jurys) like it. It’s been an honor to see The Pink House selected at the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition and reaching the semifinals, or being one of the Best Unproduced Scripts at Madrid International Film Festival, or seeing my script published and sold on Amazon thanks to the All Genre Screenplay Contest. I never imagined something like this would happen. “

    As for what’s next for the newly minted screenwriter, Parra’s upcoming short film The Eternal Angels was shot in August and is expected to premiere at the Seville European Film Festival in November. Parra also revealed he recently wrote a play that he hopes will open in January a TV pilot called The Golden Boys, a renewed, gay remix of the popular TV show The Golden Girls, which has already shown interest with a production company.

    Miguel Ángel Parra on set for ‘The Eternal Angels’

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Screenwriting alum Miguel Ángel Parra for taking the time to share his journey on writing his first feature film script and the importance of telling the stories of those who have been silent for a long time. NYFA looks forward to seeing what is next from Parra and wishes him the best on his upcoming short film The Eternal Angels.

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    October 7, 2020 • Film Festivals, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1431

  • NYFA Los Angeles Instructor Colette Freedman Works on Steve Aoki’s Highly Anticipated Mozart-Inspired Musical ‘Mozart²’

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    At New York Film Academy, our instructors are working industry professionals who are constantly creating and pushing the boundaries in their industries. For NYFA Los Angeles Playwright and Features instructor Colette Freedman, she is doing just that, having recently worked as the script doctor on Steve Aoki’s highly anticipated musical Mozart² and continuing her work as a writer and an actress.

    Freedman recalls jumping into her acting and writing career after experiencing an “ah-ha moment” in a theatre company while on a play reading committee. “I was reading a script and I realized ‘I can do better’.” 

    NYFA instructor Colette Freedman

    Freedman then wrote the First to the Egg, which won a slew of awards. She also wrote the play Sister Cities, which has been produced all over the world and made into a novel and a Netflix film adaption in which Freedman also acted alongside Michelle Trachtenberg and Troian Bellisario

    ‘Serial Killer Barbie’ (Written by Colette Freedman)

    Freedman’s favorite projects she’s written include her dark comedy Serial Killer Barbie with Nickella Moschetti and another recent project with Freedman’s writing partner, Brooke Purdy, called The Last Bookstore, which gained great critical acclaim and is even receiving some film interest. 

    For the highly anticipated Mozart², Freedman shares that the process was quite collaborative when working with Steve Aoki and the entire team to bring this story to the stage. We [Freedman and Tegan Summer] write the libretto and original songs alongside composer Gregory Nabours. Steve [Aoki] and his team would then select the EDM numbers that work best for the moments we define in the script, and then it comes together to green light, arrange, and orchestrate.”

    Playwrights, as Freedman, points out, are not just there at the beginning to write the story, but are involved in the life of the musical or play from beginning to end. “ [For Mozart²] We have an amazing design team for visuals and incredible choreographers in Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson with Ferly Prado,” she shares. “We steer the narrative, they steer the floor.”

    Poster for Steve Aoki’s ‘Mozart²’

    As for what she hopes audiences will get from her script and the musical overall, she hopes audiences will relate to lead character Nan and shine a light on not only her character, but “all of the women whose talent was silenced due to the patriarchy.”

    Broadway World recently announced some of the names of the talented cast, which includes: Ruby Lewis (Paramour) as Nan, Anthony Rapp (Rent, If/Then) as Salierii, and Justin Matthew Sargent (Rock of Ages, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark) as Mozart. The musical is expected to debut in 2021 at Carnegie Hall.

    In the meantime, Freedman has this to say to students and creatives:

    “Go make art. Especially in these times. Use your voice to create. Brooke and I have a YouTube channel Midlife Mutiny, which gives inspirational tidbits and encourages you to tell your stories and share your voice. Nan Mozart didn’t have the luxury of social media to get her voice out, but you do!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates instructor, actress, and writer Colette Freedman on her recent achievement with Mozart²  and encourages everyone to stay tuned for additional information about the musical and when it will be available to the public.

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    August 17, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Musical Theatre, Screenwriting • Views: 2021

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Instructor Alan Trezza Writes and Executive Produces ‘We Summon the Darkness’

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    We Summon the Darkness, a horror film written and executive produced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting instructor Alan Trezza, recently screened at Fantastic Fest.

    Trezza teaches screenwriting to students at New York Film Academy’s Burbank-based campus. Trezza previously wrote and directed the short film Burying the Ex, which was adapted into a feature directed by Joe Dante.

    “I learned a great deal writing and executive producing We Summon the Darkness,” Trezza tells NYFA, “and I look forward to sharing all the lessons I’ve learned with my students.”

    The film stars Alexandra Daddario, Maddie Hasson, Amy Forsyth, and Johnny Knoxville, and was directed by Marc Meyers. A period story set in the height of the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, the movie follows three best friends into heavy metal after they head off to a secluded party one night, where the evening takes a deadly turn.

    We Summon the Darkness has been receiving overwhelmingly positive praise, including at Fantastic Fest, with Bloody Disgusting calling the film “a metal mayhem joyride” with “extremely likable, fully realized characters in a fully fleshed out world.” 

    Fantastic Fest is an annual festival held in Austin, Texas that focuses on genre films, including horror, fantasy, science fiction, action, and cult movies. This year’s Fantastic Fest was held from September 19 – 26.


    We Summon the Darkness
    will next be holding its premiere on Thursday, October 17, at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, followed by Q&A with director Marc Meyers and cast members Keean Johnson, Johnny Knoxville, Logan Miller, Maddie Hasson, Amy Forsyth, and Austin Swift. Tickets to the screening are available here.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Screenwriting instructor Alan Trezza on his new film We Summon the Darkness and encourages everyone who can to attend to the Los Angeles premiere on October 17!

    (UPDATE: 8.10.2020) We Summon the Darkness is now available on Netflix.

    ‘We Summon the Darkness’ Official Film Poster

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    April 3, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 3736

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film Alum Michael Johnson Receives Inaugural Elan Vega Award

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    Before he unexpectedly passed away last summer, New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory and BFA Acting for Film alum Elan Vega lit up the lives of everyone around him, especially his NYFA classmates. His positivity, hard work, and commitment to the arts now lives on through NYFA’s Elan Vega Award, and it was no surprise that the award’s first recipient was NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory student and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson.

    Both Johnson and Vega graduated from the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Both alumni also sought to expand their artistic talents into other avenues; in Spring 2019, Johnson enrolled in NYFA-LA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory while Vega began studying in the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory. Vega was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who had a huge heart and who personified service, perseverance, and passion. Johnson is also a military veteran, having served in the US Army, and shares these same virtues, making him the perfect choice to receive the inaugural Elan Vega Award.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

    The award will be distributed each semester by New York Film Academy in Vega’s honor to students that embody Vega’s kindness, selflessness, and thoughtfulness, students who have demonstrated the desire to help their fellow artists whenever and wherever needed, as Vega had done so many times. Vega loved the process of storytelling, our community, and the friends he made at NYFA, and elevated both his classmates and his program with his enduring attitude.

    To that end, the Elan Vega Award includes both a beautifully-crafted plaque and a financial grant to help recipients further their studies and artistic pursuits. Johnson received the award in February in a ceremony attended by, among other NYFA senior faculty, actor and NYFA Master Class instructor Matthew Modine.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    Michael Johnson receiving the Elan Vega Award with senior NYFA faculty

    Like Vega, Johnson is beloved by his peers in the NYFA community, as well as his instructors and other faculty and administration. While the tragic passing of Vega will never be forgotten, his spirit living on through his friends and through future graduates of NYFA who embody that spirit is something to celebrate. Friends and classmates of both Vega and Johnson were glad to see Vega’s memory honored by Johnson, who gave a heartfelt acceptance speech at the award ceremony.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson on receiving the inaugural Elan Vega Award and honoring the spirit of NYFA alum Elan Vega.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

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  • Netflix Streams Two Short Films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni

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    In the interest of promoting social issues and international diversity, Netflix has curated a series of six films from Saudi Arabia, including two shorts by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni, Mohamed al Salman and Meshal Al Jaser. The series of six Saudi films is entitled Six Windows in the Desert and was made available last month in 190 countries.

    six windows in the desert
    The release is part of an extended effort by Saudi Arabia to expand its cinema culture. Last year, a feature film by NYFA alumni
    made history by becoming the first Saudi film to screen in a professional theater in Jeddah since the nation lifted its 35-year-long ban on cinemas in 2018. With Six Windows, Netflix aims to  “shine a light on thought-provoking subjects with a focus on social themes.”

    One of the films in Six Windows in the Desert is the 2019 short 27th of Shaban, written and directed by Mohamed al Salman. The film follows two characters–Mohammed and Nouf–who go on a date, an act prohibited in Saudi Arabia. “It’s a simple love story in a very unique and complex culture,” says al Salman of his film. al Salman first attended NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory last fall. 

    six windows in the desert

    Cinema is just starting in Saudi Arabia,” he adds, “and I thought we have too many stories in the 2000s that were never told, which I remember vividly. I thought it’s interesting to tell and watch ourselves in the past, especially in a time where the Saudi society is changing considerably.”

    Is Sumiyati Going to Hell? is another of the six films in the series, directed and co-written by BFA Screenwriting alum Meshal Al Jaser. The film tells the story of a maid named Sumiyati through the perspective of a family’s youngest child; Sumiyati previously won Best of the Month at the 2017 Gold Movie Awards. Al Jaser, who studied at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, was recently nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival for his film Arabian Alien.

    Six WIndows isn’t just a major spotlight for Saudi films, but for short films as well. Arab News quoted NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Abdulelah Al-Qurashi, who described the new series as a great opportunity for short films, “because we usually don’t see them. Short films are usually displayed at festivals.”

    six windows in the desert

    New York Film Academy Filmmaking alum Sultan Al-Salami, who worked on Is Sumiyati Going to Hell?, is thrilled to see Netflix recognize Saudi cinema. “Saudi has a massive amount of talent,” he tells NYFA, before rattling off a list of Saudi directors, producers, and writers, including Sara Alnawasra, Mississippi Ibrahim, Bader Alhomoud, Mahmoud Sabbagh, Haifaa al-Mansour, Malik Nejer, Ali Kalthami, Abdulaziz Alshlahei, Khaled Fahad, Hana Alomair, Dina Naji, Nawaf Alshubaili, and, of course, Sumiyati writer and director Meshal Al Jaser.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA alumni Mohamed al Salman and Meshal Al Jaser on their success and encourages everyone to check out their films as part of Six Windows in the Desert, currently available on Netflix.

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    March 17, 2020 • Film School, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1878