Crickett Rumley
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  • Q&A With 2018 Glendale International Film Festival Filmmakers

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    Looking for something to watch this week?  Look no further than the Glendale Laemmle!  Several films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni are official selections of the Glendale International Film Festival coming up October 5-12, 2018.  

    NYFA spoke with filmmakers Buffy Milner, Gabriele Fabbro, Rudy Womack, Diego Vicentini, and Boise Esquerra right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences:

    Type by Buffy Milner, Fall 2015 BFA Acting for Film
    Screens October 6, 2018, at 2pm

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us about your film, Type.

    Buffy Milner (BM): Type is a coming of age story about the social struggles of a girl recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BM: My classes at NYFA gave me the tools and knowledge that I needed to be able to write and produce my film and much of the pre-production elements, outside of the acting, that I was clueless about before I went to NYFA. The teachers that helped me the most were outside of class, during consultations: Christopher Cass, my thesis advisor, and Joe Basille.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BM: I have won nine awards for my film in festivals, but this is my first live event for Type. I am very excited about having the screening and getting to show my film to others.

    Type

    Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Gabriele Fabbro, BFA Filmmaking Fall 2015
    Screens October 7, 2018 at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Gabriele Fabbro (GF): Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is a narrative music video based on one of the most famous songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The story revolves around a confused young man who has to reject his top-model girlfriend in order to follow his true love. With the music as the driving force of the story, the film aims to break the common conception of “soundtracks perceived as accompaniment to the visual”.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    GF: Past mistakes definitely have been the key to success of this film. I was lucky to work with one of the most talented casts and crews at NYFA. The film would have been a total disaster if it wasn’t for my DP Brandon Lattman, my assistant director Kelvin Shum, and my lead actors Derek Andrew Ramsay and Ydalie Turk. I’m very thankful to my directing instructor Andres Rosende, who taught me how to simplify complex concepts.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    GF: I’ve had two other projects shown at the Glendale Festival. One in 2016, and in 2017 my intermediate film won “Best Student Film”. I’ve worked for the festival throughout 2018. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend this year’s screening. I’ll be shooting a feature documentary in Italy during the festival period. I hope my cast and crew will attend and do some networking. I’m always nervous to watch one of my films on a theatre. I’ve been to over 40 festivals now and that fear still doesn’t leave me.

    Can't Take My Eyes Off You

    In This Gray Place by Rudy Womack, MFA Filmmaking; produced by Radhika Womack, 1-Year Producing

    Screens October 10, 2018, at 8pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Rudy Womack (RW): In This Gray Place is a feature, a psychological thriller about Aaron, a petty criminal who is involved in a robbery gone wrong. Wounded and surrounded by police, he barricades himself in a rest stop bathroom.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    RW: Just about everyone involved with the project I met at NYFA! The lead actor, Aleksander Ristic, was in the MFA Acting program alongside me in the filmmaking department. I also met the Director of Photography, Naeem Seirafi, at NYFA. He was in the Cinematography school.  And, of course, my wife Radhika Womack, who was in the Producing program at NYFA when we first met. All of my experience at NYFA taught me how to pre-plan every small detail. We were a very limited crew with limited resources, so planning was essential to the success of the film.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    RW: Glendale is a fantastic festival and we are very lucky to be a part of it. The caliber of the other films speaks volumes to the quality of the festival and the filmmakers involved. This is our 15th screening, so the nerves have finally gone away. After the first few screenings, I went back and fine-tuned the edit, so I’m very excited to share it with a couple of people who haven’t seen this version. And, of course, I can’t wait to show it to all my friends and colleagues who haven’t seen it yet

    In This Gray Place
    Simón
    by Diego Vicentini, Fall 16 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11th at 6:00pm at the Laemmle Glendale Theatre

    NYFA: Tell us about your film. 

    Diego Vicentini (DV): Simón tells the story of a young Venezuelan freedom fighter seeking political asylum in the United States after being persecuted by the Venezuelan government. Simón must then find a way to keep helping the cause from thousands of miles away.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    DV: The screenwriting and directing classes were the ones that most helped propel the creation and execution of Simón. Gil McDonald from screenwriting read multiple drafts of the script, always helping guide the story to fulfill its potential, as well as urging us to write about something we were passionate about. Andres Rosende then helped to make sure the story was in good shape both in the writing and after, during post-production while I was editing.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    DV: I am looking forward to beginning the festival run of Simón, lucky to be able to have our first public screening in our own city of LA. I am also looking forward to spreading awareness about the dire situation that Venezuelans are going through right now through audiences watching the film.

    Simon

    Cowboy by Boise Esquerra, Fall 2015 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Boise Esquerra (BE): Cowboy is a short drama produced and filmed in the surrounding Burbank area and the Santa Clarita valley. It’s about a bitter, lonely cowboy who is set at ease after crossing paths with a promiscuous female vagabond. 

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BE: From the get go, NYFA provides a multitude of hands-on exercises and projects for you to delve right into, allowing for much learning, practice, and most importantly, learning from your mistakes. These lessons are invaluable because they allow you to progress in your craft, so long as you take each one seriously. In particular, towards my final semesters, instructors like Tony Schwartz, James Pasternak, and Greg Marks helped me to reel in everything I learned and apply it to a solid project. Cowboy was the end result.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BE: I am looking forward to the screening itself!

    Cowboy

    The New York Film Academy congratulates our filmmakers and wishes them the best of luck! For more information about screenings and tickets, click HERE.

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    October 5, 2018 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1489

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Win At Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival

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    The theater lights dimmed, the first frames of film flickered across the screen, and the orchestra played their opening bars. Orchestra? Yes, orchestra, for this wasn’t just any film screening. This was the Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival, a celebration of the relationship between film and music, and that was the Helix Collective playing live as the films screened. 

    Held on July 21, 2018 at the Barnsdall Art Park Gallery Theatre, the festival featured the works of Los Angeles area film students, including five New York Film Academy (NYFA) filmmakers. Festival director Sarah May Robinson paired each of them with a composer from the Academy of Scoring Arts who scored the shorts. 

    On the night of the event, host Brian Ralston of the SCOREcast interviewed each director/composer team, asking them to discuss the experience of being matched with a total stranger and what it was like to work together. Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival 2018

    Next, conductor Phil Popham picked up his baton and led the orchestra in a thrilling accompaniment for the films. Audiences were entertained by the films of NYFA directors Victoria Gagieva (Niara), Vicken Joulfayan (Liminal), Oliver Weinmann (The Pill), Nicolas Varela (Aphrodite), and Haily Lanyue Zhang and Majik Jingwei Zhou (Arrow and Oil). 

    But the excitement didn’t stop at the last “The End” because the audience was asked to vote for the Best Film and the Best Score. The tension was palpable as audience members texted in their choices. The winners for Best Film were Haily Lanyue Zhang and Majik Jingwei Zhou with Arrow and Oil, and their composer George Oldziey took Best Score. After their win, Zhang exclaimed, “I’m thrilled and excited! Now I have great expectations about launching into more film festivals!” 

    Zhou was also full of thanks, remarking, “I want to thank my parents. They supported me to come to the USA to study Filmmaking! Secondly, I want to thank my school. NYFA taught me so much knowledge about filmmaking and gave us this chance to represent the school in this festival. Especially, I want to thank my teachers Nick Sivakumaran, the Kohnen brothers — Matt Kohnen and Sean Kohnen — Carl Bartels, Sanora Bartels, Steve Morris. They are the best teachers, ever, ever!”

    Their prize was a free studio recording of the orchestra playing their composed score.

    All the filmmakers were winners, though, as each received a studio recording of their score for a nominal fee plus a free sound mix from Greenhouse Post.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates all the filmmakers and wishes them continued success in their film festival runs!

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    August 8, 2018 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1097

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Premiere Films at LA Shorts Fest

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    What do New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni Assem Yedgey, Dina Naji, and Zixian (Season) Ouyang have in common?  They all have thesis films premiering at the Los Angeles International Shorts Film Festival (LA Shorts Fest) July 25 – August 2!

    We sat down with the filmmakers right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences.  

    Escala by Assem Yedgey

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Assem Yedgey: Escala is about a young girl who must win a music competition in order to ease the financial burden on her single father, but her instructor’s obsession with her turns this dream into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. The film takes place in Los Angeles. 

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    AY: I learned that there is nothing that cannot be achieved and that you should always follow your heart. I decided that I wanted to have a 100% female crew to create opportunities for women. Throughout my pre-production almost everyone I know was telling me that it was a bad idea and that I wouldn’t be able to handle it, that I was severely limiting my choices in terms of crew.

    All I can say is that I have never before worked in a better environment. I am very grateful that I had an amazing producer by my side – Yulia Safonova. She supported me immensely, and when I was about to give up on my idea of having an all-female crew, she would say, “We can do this.” And we did it. Our crew were united and all of us wanted the best for Escala. I learnt that the most important thing is to listen what people are suggesting, but not always follow, instead to rather feel what is the best for the film. 

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    AY: I haven’t premiered my movie anywhere. LA Shorts Fest will be the official premiere, so this is an exciting new experience for me. I am thrilled to watch it with an audience and observe them and explore their reactions. This is my first festival and it is one of the most prestigious festivals; it is like a dream came true. I’m so grateful that I will be able to share my story with so many people and hopefully they will get something out of it. 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    AY: I want to say that without collaboration and the hard work of my cast and crew, Escala wouldn’t have been made. A huge thank you to everybody involved.

    Escala screens Saturday, July 28, at 9:55 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.

    assem

    Hind’s Case by Dina Naji

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Dina Naji: My film Hind’s Case was inspired by true events. I wanted to shine a light on one case in particular that happened in 2015 in a woman’s housing shelter in Saudi Arabia. The story follows Hind (20), who at a young age witnessed her father kill and bury her mother, then went on to suffer years of abuse at his hands. When Hind escapes from her abusive home, she gets sent to live in a housing shelter. While there, Hind makes the first friends she’s ever had, and enjoys the freedom away from her father. However, when the manager of the housing shelter informs Hind that her father has requested to take her home, Hind decides to take matters into her own hands and gets sent to the solitary confinement room in order to join her mother in heaven, as she can’t stand the thought of living with her father again.

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    DN: The process of making Hind’s Case with a fantastic cast and crew was amazing. As a director, I learned that if you want to make a film, you should have a cast and crew that are passionate about the story you want to tell and want to bring a story alive. 

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    DN: I am very thrilled to have my film screen for the first time in LA Shorts Fest, and it is a huge opportunity to show my film to many people who are coming from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a dream come true. 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    DN: I would like to thank all the crew, cast, and my teachers, especially Scott Hartmann and Tamera Daugherty-Martin, for all the support. And I want to thank the New York Film Academy for this opportunity. 

    Hind’s Case screens Friday, July 27, at 5:30 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.HInd's Case

     

    Love in Canton by Zixian (Season) Ouyang

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Season Ouyang: The movie is about an old woman accepting her husband’s death on her way to his funeral in Canton.

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    SO: I think I improved my directing skills, and it gave me more good ideas about how to direct a good musical film.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    SO: I am looking forward to more audiences seeing and enjoying my movie in this screening. I want people to know me! 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    SO: I want you guys to know my dream is to make Cantonese film be great again in the world! 

    Love in Canton is an official selection of the festival’s New Wave Chinese Filmmakers opening night program. It screens Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 4 pm downtown at Regal LA Live.Love in Canton

    Congratulations to Assem, Dina, and Season! For more information on the LA Shorts Fest, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://lashortsfest.com/

     

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    July 25, 2018 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 885

  • Five New York Film Academy Los Angeles Students Selected as Finalists in LA Live Score Film Festival

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    Whether a director is choosing a song to play in an onscreen location or adding a composed score to the soundtrack to punctuate an emotion, music is a key element for a successful film.

    This May, the Film Festival Department of the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles selected five student and alumni filmmakers to participate in the 2018 Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival. For this unique event, each filmmaker was matched with a professional composer from The Academy of Scoring Arts who then wrote their score. Several filmmakers also worked with post-production sound professor Huch Platt to enhance their sound design. This Saturday, July 21, 2018, the films will be screened for the first time before a live audience while the orchestra Helix Collective plays the new music.

    We caught up with the filmmakers as they looked forward to the event and asked them about their experiences.

    Nicolas Varela

    Film: Aphrodite

    Composer: Drum & Lace

    Logline: A frustrated career in singing drives Aphrodite to pay with her own flesh and identity for an uncertain opportunity in the industry.

    What has it been like to work with your composer?

    Working with Sofia has been such an amazing experience. I think the directors of the festival made a really good match by putting us together. She really understands my visuals and knows how to translate that in music. We are really communicative with each other, and we are always working for feedback. Beyond the festival, Sofia and I are creating an artistic relationship of mutual support and networking. 

    What have you learned in this process? 

    I learned how important music is. Film is born when music and motion picture meet each other. My film is more powerful than before just because the music is able to highlight emotions and thoughts in an underneath level. Music is not explicit, music works through sensations. 

    What are you specifically looking forward to in the live screening?  

    I hope the orchestra can make justice of Sofia’s work and that the people in the audience can just enjoy this very unique experience of watching a movie with an orchestra playing live. 

    What was it like working on your sound design?

    Huch is such an amazing professional and teacher. I never had classes with him, but when we worked together he was teaching me a lot in the process. Sound design is really underrated among amateur filmmakers. After working with Huch, I realized the big difference a good sound design makes to your film. Sound design is atmosphere, it’s mood, it’s subtle but very important. 

     

    Lanyue Zhang

    Film: Arrow and Oil

    Composer: George Oldziey

    Logline: Around 1010 A.D. during the Northern Song Dynasty, Chen YaoZi, a civil officer from the imperial court with superb archery skills starts questioning the relationship between his archery and his work after he meets an old oil seller.

    What has it been like to work with your composer?

    We did a spotting session at our first meeting, and I gave George some references. He did two versions of music, then my co-director (Majik Jingwei Zhou) and I gave him some notes. He changed some parts, and although we had some different ideas, we accepted each other idea in the end.

    What have you learned in this process? 

    We learned how to communicate with our composer. To make sure our composer can get our story, we let him watch our film and talk about his first idea, then we explained our story and the metaphor in our film. I learned communication is very important in this process. On the other hand, because this is a festival event, we didn’t hire him as our composer. Our collaboration is not like the normal process between director and composer, so we gave George more freedom to do the music.

    What are you specifically looking forward to in the live screening?  

    We are looking forward to bringing our crew to the festival, and also we are looking forward to the live performances.

     

    Vicken Joulfayan

    Film: Liminal

    Composer: Shaun Chasin

    Logline: Nadim tries to escape his own reality but soon realizes that he is being forced to confront it more than ever.

    What has it been like to work with your composer?

    I was not sure in the beginning how the composer would approach my movie after explaining the mood and what genre of music is needed. Then he sent me a first rough and it was way too different from what I wanted. We spoke about it in more detail, and I gave him a deeper explanation of each part. He blew my mind with the updated version.

    What have you learned in this process? 

    I learned to wait and let the composer do his thing, and start tweaking from there, because I did not expect the music to be what it is now, and I love it. That was mainly the composer’s personal touch on the film after understanding the beats of the story.

    What are you specifically looking forward to in the live screening?  

    Actually watching the movie and seeing the live orchestra play the music in front of us is the most exciting part for me!

    Victoria Gagieva

    Film: Niara

    Composer: Steph Kowal

    Logline: A lonely child soldier trapped in the horror of an African militant group experiences a simple act of humanity from a person she is about to condemn to death.

    What has it been like to work with your composer?

    Working with Steph has been great! We met once in person to watch the film together and discuss/dissect it to find a strategy and approach for the music. We were talking about characters, their situations and intentions and also discussing examples of best practices from different films. It was so productive that the first try was exactly what “Niara” needed music-wise.

    What have you learned in this process? 

    The whole experience taught me to be prepared thoroughly for such conversations. I had characters’ back stories ready for Steph, I could explain and reason about the story, ideas and intentions. I was also very open to what she as a professional was bringing to the table, and overall, our collaboration turned out to be perfect.

    What are you specifically looking forward to in the live screening?  

    This will be my first festival experience, so I’m excited about it and open to it. 

    What was it like working on your sound design?

    This was my first time working with a professional sound mixer, and that was extremely interesting and useful. Besides working on the film, Huch explained lots of nuances and practices for future projects. How you organize the tracks for the sound mixer, deliver elements. He was very impressed with my work on the sound design and basically he went off of it. He didn’t have to do any sound design. He just had to mix it and level everything up, distinguish dialogue from the background, things like that. We did two sessions of a couple of hours each.

    Oliver Weinmann

    Film: The Pill

    Composer: Jonathan Keith

    Logline: A dark comedy about a woman who is trapped in a relationship, and the only way she is able to go on is by taking a pill.

    What has it been like to work with your composer?

    Being able to work with Jonathan has been an incredible experience. We are both so passionate about the craft of filmmaking. Yet we view films so differently. I focus on the picture whereas Jonathan follows the film by the music and sounds. When I was able to rewatch the film I made with the soundtrack Jonathan created, it evoked emotions that I could not have created with imagery. 

    What have you learned in this process? 

    I have learned to take more of a backseat. As a director, it is easy to over-direct. After meeting Jonathan and talking to him about the vision of my film, I knew that I had to let go of the reigns and let him do what he is best at doing. 

    What are you looking forward to in the live screening?  

    I look forward to an evening filled with music, storytelling, and the people who put it all together. 

     

    We could not have put it better ourselves, and we wish the best of luck to all the filmmakers!

     

    The New York Film Academy community is invited to attend the LA Live Score Film Festival this Saturday, July 21, 2018, from 6-10 pm at Barnsdall Art Park. To purchase tickets, please follow this link and use promo code FilmScoresRock to receive a discount.

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  • Student Spotlight: Rodrigo Zanforlin

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    Seven years ago, Rodrigo Zanforlin (May 2014 MFA Filmmaking) was the head of a successful digital marketing company in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Today, he’s the award-winning writer/director of Jimbo, his MFA thesis short which screened at over 30 festivals, including Beverly Hills Film Festival, Dead Center, New Filmmakers LA, and the Brooklyn Film Festival.

    How did he get here? It all started with a road trip.

    At 27, Rodrigo lived in his hometown of Sao Paolo, Brazil. On the surface, it seemed he had everything: a great job, a beautiful apartment, a wonderful fiancée. But he was miserable. “I felt stuck, and I was very stressed with all the responsibility of running a company with a lot of employees,” Rodrigo said. “I felt like I was hunting lions every day. One day I had a big epiphany. I needed to rethink my life.” He sold everything he had and went to California with nothing but himself and a suitcase. Rodrigo hit the road, camping, exploring, and meeting people. “I was so inspired by the people and the energy of California,” he said. He realized he wanted to stay.

    First, Rodrigo polished his English in San Diego, then he landed at his new home, the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. He chose NYFA over other area film schools because of its hands-on teaching approach and because filmmakers own the films they make. “Also, I’m a multi-cultural guy from a big city in Brazil,” Rodrigo said. “I liked the diversity of NYFA.”

    Like most road trips, Rodrigo’s journey into filmmaking was full of amazing discoveries and frustrating wrong turns. He started in the MFA Documentary department because “I was searching for truth,” Rodrigo said. However, it wasn’t long before documentary instructors suggested that he move to narrative filmmaking. “I was too interested in the aesthetic of my film and controlling the environment to be a documentarian.” He switched to the MFA Filmmaking program. The only problem was – he had to start Semester One all over again. However, that turned out be an amazing experience. “The first semester of NYFA’s filmmaking program was one of my favorites,” said Rodrigo. “That’s when you learn how to be a visual filmmaker.”

    After writing a dialogue-heavy film for a cinematographer friend that Rodrigo called “the worst film ever”, he started asking the question, “What kind of filmmaker am I?” Realizing that he was more interested in visuals than dialogue, he made a surrealistic year one film that did well at festivals. When it came time to write his thesis, however, he decided he wasn’t ready. He took a break to rethink his thesis idea, and “I decided to prepare myself to be a better director,” Rodrigo said. He started hanging out with actors to learn more about how they work and how they prepare themselves for a role.

    Working with actors was a major turning point for Rodrigo. It led to him writing the short script Jimbo, which became his thesis film. Ironically, he cast mostly non-actors in the roles because he felt they could more authentically portray the roles. Rodrigo cited senior directing instructor James Pasternak as a major influence in the thesis process, saying, “Jim really provoked me to explore the characters, to go deeper into the story and the dialogue.”

    Regarding the experience, Jim said, “Rodrigo had strong directorial vision of the movie he wanted to make. Like a good director, he was a good collaborator, open to ideas and willing to use them to make the best movie he could — and did.” Clearly, that is the case: Jimbo was an official selection of more than thirty festivals around the globe, landed a variety of awards, won the NYFA/RED competition last summer, and was picked up for representation by Shorts.TV in November.

    Today, Rodrigo is shooting and writing as much as he can. He recently directed a short film for Serbian/Swedish musician Alezzandra that premiered on Noisey and has been hailed as a “Lynchian fever dream through LA’s seedy underbelly.” His next big project: expanding Jimbo into a feature. He plans to start shooting in late 2018.

    And to think it all started with a road trip!

    Writer Crickett Rumley is the Film Festivals Advisor and Liaison at NYFA in Los Angeles. You can email her at festivalsla@nyfa.edu.

     

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    June 14, 2018 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 826

  • Mariano Di Vaio Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles Production Workshop & Guest Speaker Series

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    It was just another Production Workshop Thursday on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) student crews sprawled across the European set searching for places to shoot, directors framed their shots, actors rehearsed their lines.

    Then he walked onto the backlot: Mariano Di Vaio, Italian fashion star, Forbes magazine top influencer under 30, and NYFA Acting for Film alumnus. Heads turned as he arrived to shoot a production workshop commercial with Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran and Cinematography Instructor Matt Kohnen.

    “It’s a dream come true to be on the backlot,” said Mariano. “I always said to myself maybe one day I could shoot something in Hollywood. And doing this student project, I feel like I’m rewinding back nine years to my student days.”

    In 2009, Mariano enrolled in an Acting for Film course at the New York Film Academy in New York. When he returned to his hometown of Perugia, Italy, he started a blog about men’s fashion that blew up on the web, netting him over 10 million followers on social media and enabling him to start his own clothing and hair product lines.

    Then he was back on a NYFA set collaborating with faculty and staff on a shoot designed to teach students and alumni how to film a commercial. It featured several of his brands: Mariano Di Vaio Limited Edition Hair Products, NOHOW clothing, and MDV Eyewear.

    Written by Nick Sivakumaran, who also directed, the commercial starts with Mariano walking past several NYFA crews shooting a variety of scenes. He notices one crew in particular — they are struggling to shoot a romantic scene between a guy and girl. The director is obviously frustrated at the lack of chemistry between them. Enter Mariano! He gestures to the director, “un moment,” takes aside the actor, and gives him a quick makeover using his hair products and sunglasses. Suddenly, the actor looks great, the actress is in love, and the director is thrilled! Mariano leaves as everyone looks at him in amazement and wonders, “Who was that guy?” 


    The fake crew consisted entirely of NYFA Acting for Film students and alumni. Ezra Ramos (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film), who played the actor and was styled by Mariano for the commercial, reported that “Mariano just opened up his suitcase and said ‘what’s your size’?” Then he rifled through the suitcase to hook Ezra up with MDV Collection suede loafers and a tropical white NoHow shirt festooned with tiny palm trees, pineapples, and bananas.

    Gulshan Salamli (Spring ’17 BFA Acting for Film) played the role of the unimpressed actress, and she said the shoot with Mariano was a very different experience from the usual production workshop. “Mariano is the star, obviously, and it is interesting to work with him, to play a supporting role and observe how much input a star has on set. I realized it’s okay to be in the shadows, that I can express myself yet serve the project at the same time.”

    Fake crew member Mackenzie Leslie (Summer ‘16 One Year Acting for Film) said she learned a lot on set, pointing at a huge flag on a C-stand that was blocking the bright California sun. “This production workshop has way more equipment than I’ve seen before,” she said.  “I’ve never filmed with a dolly. I’ve seen shots that were made that way, but never been in one.”

    Meanwhile, actors Elizabeth Otaola (Summer ‘16 MFA Acting for Film) and Christopher Rybka (Fall ‘15 AFA Acting for Film) discussed Mariano’s career. “He’s not a traditional actor. He’s inspired me to explore other options and ways of having an acting career,” said Elizabeth, who played the director. “Everything is going to evolve. Television and film will change in the next 20 years.  Smart people should be paying attention to that and create their own content and know about marketing.”

    Christopher concurred, saying, “It’s very unique that Mariano has used Instagram as a marketing tool to get out there rather than going to auditions and hoping someone picks him up.”

    The following night, Mariano entertained a full house of students at the NYFA Theater with humorous and informative tales about his career in a Q&A moderated by Film Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley. He emphasized the importance of setting small, achievable goals in pursuit of big dreams, and of approaching every task, learning opportunity, and job with passion — an outlook he attributed to his instructors at NYFA back in 2009.

    When asked what advice he had for students starting an Instagram account for the first time, Mariano replied,“I would start with videos if I had to start from scratch, because right now I think they are the key. The algorithm has changed, so it’s harder for people to just post photos.” More specifically, he “would definitely put up something about comedy because positivity, that’s what people like. Being happy is what people want to get from their phones.”

    Most importantly, Mariano encouraged students to do exactly what they had been doing when he walked onto the Universal backlot — collaborate with as many people as possible to increase social media following. “If all of you guys here start to do something together, even a small project, you already can reach how many? 10,000 people for sure.” Another reason to collaborate: “Sometimes when you talk and do something with other creative people, something better comes up, better than what you can do by yourself.”  

    Speaking of collaboration, the Mariano Di Vaio/NYFA Los Angeles commercial project will drop on social media sometime in May. Be on the lookout!

    Update – Here’s the NYFA/MDV collaboration for Hair Bello!

    And here it is !! The @hair_bello movie is here! Hope you guys love the amazing work we did at the Hollywood Studios in Los Angeles ! Comment if you liked the old hairstyle better or not!❤️?

    A post shared by Mariano Di Vaio (@marianodivaio) on

    NOTE: in addition to the students quoted above, the shoot also featured Paulina Hilla (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film) and Amber Satcher (Fall ‘16 MFA Acting for Film).  

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  • Indian Film Festival Los Angeles and New York Film Academy Renew their Partnership in 2018

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to be a promotional partner of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), the premiere showcase of groundbreaking Indian cinema. Screening from April 11-15 at Regal LA Live, this year’s lineup features award-winning new work from Indian filmmakers around the world, and NYFA alumni, students, faculty, and staff will be on hand to experience it from beginning to end.

    “I’ve been attending the Indian Film Festival since 2004, when I introduced and moderated a shorts program and Q&A,” said directing instructor Nick Sivakumaran. “The window it presents into the diversity and quality of Indian cinema never ceases to amaze me.”

    IFFLA 2018 Opening Night Film In The Shadows stars Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, and Neeraj Kabi, in a drama about surveillance and memory.

    IFFLA has graciously invited NYFA students to two programs of short films on April 13 and 14, and provided the NYFA student community a discount code for $2 off tickets.  

    Filmmaking Department Coordinator Prarthana Joshi noted that she had already watched several of the short films, and was excited to see the features — particularly Bornila Chatterjee’s The Hungry, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, that was screened at the Toronto Film Festival last September.  

    “Bornila Chatterjee is a young female filmmaker working outside of the traditional Bollywood system,” said Prarthana. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her film and learning more about how she is making her career happen.”

    Rima Das’s “Village Rocksters” features a powerful female-led narrative and will be the Closing Night film of IFFLA 2018. The screening will be preceded by an Awards Ceremony featuring a prestigious jury: Reza Aslan, Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour, and Sundance breakout Aneesh Chaganty.

    Acting for film student Pauline Yang (Fall 2017 1 Year Acting for Film) will be volunteering for the Festival. “I really like being a part of film festivals because it brings a community together,” she said. “Everyone is always so excited to be a part of it, and the audience seems to always have a great time.”  

    In addition, NYFA alumni Rukmani Jones (Jan 2009 MFA Producing) and Ruchi Kishore (Sep 2012 MFA Filmmaking) both work for the Festival, with Rukmani serving as Filmmaker Liaison and Ruchi as Volunteer Manager.  

    “This is my fourth year being involved with the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles,” said Ruchi, “And with every year my love and appreciation for the IFFLA community grows deeper.” 

    To see the full line-up of films, please visit www.indianfilmfestival.org.  The NYFA community can use the promotion code NYFA2018PP for a $2 discount off all tickets.

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  • Young Saudi Film Festival Unveils Lineup of Films at New York Film Academy

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    On Monday, the Young Saudi Film Festival, hosted by the New York Film Academy, announced the films it will showcase this season. The festival opens Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Los Angeles. The eight films — six from Saudi Arabia and two from Egypt — cover a wide range of genres, from comedy to drama, thriller to family film.

    “We had an impressive variety of films submitted from around the world, and we congratulate all the filmmakers,” said YSFF President and NYFA student Rakan Anneghaimshi (Spring 2016 BFA Acting). “It was very challenging for our selection committee to choose only eight films.”

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

    The committee consisted of NYFA Faculty Miraj Grbic (actor, Mission Impossible), producer Tony Schwartz, and James Coburn (production sound), among others, who did the first round of viewing. The second round of judging was led by YSFF Vice President and NYFA alum Abdulaziz Almutari (Fall 2015 MFA Cinematography) and Maan bin Abdulrahman (January 2013 BFA Filmmaking) of Prince of Arabia Entertainment.

    Impressed with the amount of NYFA involvement in creating this festival, Dean of Enrollment Services Tami Alexander said, “We are very proud that New York Film Academy alumni and students are leading the media and entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia. We support Rakan and Abdulaziz’s vision for the Young Saudi Film Festival and are happy to sponsor the Festival in Los Angeles. After the announcement that cinemas will be allowed in the Kingdom again, I could not be more thrilled. We look forward to strengthening relationships and are excited for new collaborations in Saudi Arabia.”

    In addition to the films, the festival will include a congratulatory video by Saudi Arabian actor Nasser Al Gassaby, a performance by the NYFA Improv Troupe (directed by Groundlings legends Suzanne Kent and George McGrath), and a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers moderated by host Maan B.

    VIP invitees include the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, the Saudi Consul, the US Ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, the UAE’s Minister of Education, along with top-level Saudi Arabian actors, producers, filmmakers, and media.

    The complete lineup of films includes:

    Bloodline written and directed by Saud Al-Moghirah, produced by Javier Olmo

    Coexistence by Musab Alamri

    Hero Complex written and directed by Mohamad AlYamani, produced by Mohamad AlYamani and Douglas Spain

    The Nostalgia written by Sarah Lotfy, directed and produced by Moataz Badran

    Piece of Wood by Yassin Koptan

    The Scapegoat written by Charlie H. Millen & Stephen Ranieri, directed by Talha B., produced by Maan B.

    Spirit of North by Mohammad Ali Almarhabi

    Under Concrete by Meshal Al Jaser

    The Young Saudi Film Festival will be at the Harmony Gold Preview House on Sunday, February 18. It starts with a reception at 4 pm, and the program begins at 5 pm. To attend, please RSVP at nyfa.edu/ysff.

     

     

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    February 14, 2018 • Community Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 1965

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

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    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.

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  • Spring 2016 Screenwriting Students Complete Second Semester

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    What’s it like for a screenwriter to hear his or her work read aloud by actors for the first time? Thrilling and nerve-wracking all at once, as LA’s Spring 2016 MFA, AFA, and One Year students discovered when they saw their work performed in a staged reading at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Theater last Saturday night. Rounding out the second semester of their program, students chose 4-6 page scenes from their original screenplays and TV pilots, then event coordinators Terah Jackson and Crickett Rumley cast the roles with professional actors, including NYFA grads Dijon Delonte Hawkins and Heather Hult.

    screenwriting

    Screenwriter Queenian Okagu was excited to hear the actor playing the father in her feature Culture Clash do a Nigerian accent. “He sounded just like my dad,” she said. For Lindsey Lauren Hall, hearing her TV script And Then There Were Three read out loud was a real learning experience. “I heard some lines fall flat, so I’m going to have to go back through the script and work on them.”

    screenwriting grad

    The audience of friends, family, and faculty, including Screenwriting Department Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and Associate Chair Adam Finer, were drawn into a futuristic Los Angeles in David Castillo’s pilot The Crimson Samurai, met an ambitious young race car driver in J.B. Hakim’s The Formula, and got creeped out by the mysterious town in AJ Kunkel’s October. The bros of Adam Zagri’s Dungeons and Daily Life and the potential lovers in Robert Styles’ Friend Zone Jones had the audience in stitches, while Rachna Sukura’s Indira and Hamidreza Khorsanizadeh’s Motherhood explored complex relationship dynamics and family situations.

    Following the reading, the screenwriters networked with their actors and enjoyed a reception with faculty and guests. Congratulations to the Spring 2016 MFA and AFA students on finishing their first year, and best of luck to the Spring 2016 One-Year students who just completed their program!

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    September 15, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 2064