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  • Live Theater Returns to NYC With NYFA PCMT’s Newest Production “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle”

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    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) recently performed their original musical, NOT WORKING: A 2020 SONG CYCLE earlier this month with live, COVID-safe performances at East River Park Amphitheatre in New York City.

    The original production was conceived and directed by NYFA’s Travis Greisler (The Cher Show) with musical direction by Kevin David Thomas (A Little Night Music) and was created especially for the Musical Theatre students at NYFA.

    NYFA PCMT students rehearse before the show’s debut

    NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle is a nod to the 1970’s song cycle WORKING, and portrays the various stories and vantage points of topics ranging from the global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, quarantine and isolation, and our immense desire to be telling stories live and in person again.

    The full length, live musical showcases NYFA’s PCMT students performing contributions from 15 different composers/lyricists from many racial backgrounds, gender identities, and sexualities. Each composer wrote about their various points of view on all things 2020 during this time where many have been missing the element of live performance for the majority of the year.

    “It is a show about all the things that are not working in our world, written in 2020, about 2020, and performed in 2020,” said Greisler. “A thing most new musicals never get to do as they usually take so long to get written and eventually produced. We had quite the opportunity on our hands and I didn’t want to waste it.”

    In addition to the performers, composers, and lyricists involved in the show, NYFA’s PCMT also collaborated across disciplines with NYFA’s Filmmaking and Cinematography departments to capture the live performance for online streaming distribution so as to reach a potentially even larger number of viewers.

    Photo from live performance of “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle”

    “One of the things this pandemic has taught everyone in the performing arts is the necessity to find new and creative ways to bring our performances and talents to a large audience in an unconventional way,” shared Pierro Basso (AIC-IMAGO), Chair of NYFA’s Cinematography Department in New York. “What the pandemic has not done, however, is deter from the longstanding collaboration between the Filmmaking, Cinematography and Musical Theatre departments at NYFA.”

    “NYFA is so proud of all of our students for their continued excellence in the face of very difficult circumstances,” added Senior Executive Vice President and COO at NYFA David Klein. “We are so proud of our Musical Theatre Department, the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre, and our musical theatre students and faculty who have overcome what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to live performance to create a new musical during a global pandemic.”

    Photo from live performance of “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle

    The show’s producer and Chair of NYFA’s Musical Theatre Department Kristy Cates (Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) also added, “I am thrilled that NYFA gave us the green light to create and produce this amazing new piece of work and I know this show has been an extremely uplifting and cathartic experience for all the performers, composers and audiences alike. We are proud we were able to share NOT WORKING with New York City.”

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  • NYFA South Beach Alum Michael Bradway on How His Modeling and Acting Career Go Hand-in-Hand

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    From working with globally recognized brands like Champion and U.S. Polo Assn. to working on Miami-based short films Hi8, My Dear Delilah, Watch Me, and Piece, NYFA alum Michael Bradway is booked and busy, focusing on both an acting and modeling career that he explains compliments both disciplines. 

    (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    Bradway grew up in Boca Raton, Fl with his mom and two sisters. Bradway remembers first being intrigued by modeling and entertainment when his twin sister Natalie was approached at their local mall one day by a talent manager. “Slowly, one opportunity led to another,” he shared. “However, I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until my senior year of high school when I was in the school production of Fiddler on the Roof, it was was an incredible, new experience.” That experience led Bradway to apply for NYFA’s South Beach campus to pursue a BFA in Acting for Film not long after.

    Campaign for Polo (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    “NYFA South Beach felt like the best choice being a hands-on acting for film program, where I could also study theatre,” Bradway said. “Being at NYFA South Beach for the past three years has taught me so much about acting and filmmaking. For example, hitting your mark, being in the moment, and learning about numerous actors and playwrights. We took editing and film craft classes to get a better understanding and gain more respect for the filmmaking side of a project too. One thing I learned at NYFA, that will stick with me forever, is to always be the most prepared person in the room and there is no excuse not to be.”

    Pursuing acting and modeling has been a helpful experience for Bradway, who recommends that actors look into modeling opportunities to improve their craft. “It’s a great way to explore a different style of art and meet people in various industries,” he explained. “Agencies hold open calls online with instructions, so depending on where you’re located I suggest looking up the agencies in your area.” 

    Bradway is currently signed with SELECT Model Management and has booked multiple campaigns for famous brands like Champion, U.S. Polo Assn., Verizon, and Brightline Train. “Brightline Train was definitely one of my favorites because of all the running we had to do through the train, in a park, and they even created their own mock highway for us to run through too,” revealed Bradway.

    Champion campaign (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    When asked about whether he prefers acting or modeling, the NYFA alum explained that both creative pursuits have given him so much joy. “I’ve been so fortunate to have worked with incredible people and companies worldwide,” he shared. “I don’t necessarily have a favorite between the two. Acting has actually helps me with modeling and vice versa. Modeling can be very interactive, even without having to say any lines. You’re capturing a moment with each photo taken and most of the time the company/photographer wants those moments to look natural. Acting has definitely helped me with that skill.”

    In addition to modeling helping his acting skills and acting helping his modeling, Bradway also shared that NYFA South Beach campus’ close-knit community helped him grow in his craft and build a community of faculty and students alike. “it’s a building full of amazingly talented and genuinely wholehearted people who are currently working in the industry,” he gushed. “They are funny, hardworking and all have the same goal in mind; to tell their stories. There are so many stories to tell which is why more people should be exploring acting and filmmaking. Many hands are involved in a single film with a vast amount of different jobs, so there is something for everyone.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank New York Film Academy South Beach alum Michael Bradway for taking the time to share more about what he has learned from modeling and acting and how both careers have helped him grow in the industry.

     

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    November 23, 2020 • Acting, South Beach, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 425

  • NYFA Alum Rozette Rago Named an Honoree in 2020 Edition of Annual Photographers List

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    She has shot some of your favorite icons from Natalie Portman and Will Smith, to Steven Spielberg and Ryan Coogler, and capturing music icons U2, Metallica, Kanye West, and more. The NYFA Filmmaking alum, Rozette Rago, has had quite the career and she is only getting started, having recently nabbed a spot on the coveted list of “The 30.”

    The 30 is recognized throughout the professional photography industry as a “go-to” outlet to discover some of the best photographers in the world and serves as a platform to elevate emerging photographers growing their careers. Each year, The 30 are selected through a nomination and jurying process that includes the input of established photographers, photo editors, art directors, curators, and other industry leaders that are cultivated by Photo District News Magazine.

    Rago attended an 8-Week NYFA Filmmaking program in 2010 and has since gone on to shoot for The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Vanity Fair, The FADER, HBO, A+E Networks, Rolling Stone, and many more. She has also been profiled by CNN and Masterpiece for her body of work and has been hailed by Culture Photo Editor at The Times as “one of those photographers who elevates the ordinary,”

    NYFA alum used for U2’s promotional materials (Photo by Rozette Rago)

    After arriving on the scene in Los Angeles, Rago shot for bands like U2, Interpol, and Metallica, which then allowed her to leverage her portfolio to get a job as a photo editor at Time Out Los Angeles. For the past three years, she’s been a photo editor at Wirecutter in addition to contributing to other publications and networking with other women in the industry. She’s a member of groups including Authority Collective, Women Photograph, and Diversify Photo.

    Steven Spielberg (Photo by Rozette Rag0)

    The Filipino-American photographer shared with The 30 that she is grateful for the path that she has taken and shares it has “landed me exactly where I want to be,” with a career that has captured stories, scenes from music, performers, and more.

    The cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” and Director Jonathan Chu by Rozette Rago

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Rozette Rago on her incredible journey and for the well-deserved recognition by her peers on being named in The Annual 30 Photographers List.

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  • Sony’s Gemstone Studios’ Inaugural Rising Storytellers Search Names NYFA Alum Krystina Christiansen as a Finalist

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    Originally reported in Deadline, NYFA Producing alum Krystina Christiansen was named one of four finalists competing for a chance to sign a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and win additional prizes in Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search.

    The Houston, TX native originally received her BA in Public Relations at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX before coming to New York Film Academy. “I have been running around with a camera in hand since I was a kid,” shared Christiansen. “I didn’t know what I was doing was called filmmaking and I didn’t grow up obsessing over the art of filmmaking. I just really love storytelling.”

    NYFA producing alum Krystina Christiansen

    “When I got to college, I didn’t see a ‘reasonable’ path to filmmaking outside of being an entertainment lawyer so I went to law school in San Diego with that intent,” she revealed. Not long after, Christiansen recalled sitting in a class one day watching a documentary and it was there she realized she would rather be the person who made that documentary than the student watching it, leading her to study at New York Film Academy.

    “What I got from my time at NYFA was what education has always given me – the confidence I feel I need to move towards my goals. Specifically to NYFA, I love how diverse the community is; I was one of 3 Americans in my class.”

    NYFA producing alum Krystina Christiansen

    After pursuing her MFA in Producing at NYFA, Christiansen worked on an array of productions, directing and producing music videos and a web series, followed by a handful of short films. “I realized I was burning myself out working on shoe-string budget passion projects so I started working as a coordinator.” She then landed her first feature with Black-owned production company Hidden Empire Film Group as a Travel Coordinator for the film Traffik starring Omar Epps and Paula Patton.

    “The cinematographer on Traffik, Dante Spinotti, taught me so much with his actions. He really raised the bar of expectations on the type of people I want to work with. Talent is great, but kindness is key,” shared Christiansen.

    Since then, the NYFA alum has been working in the digital and commercial space as a coordinator and has worked her way up to production managing and producing with companies like Participant’s digital arm SoulPancake, and in 2020 she produced, wrote, and directed for TikTok, The Redford Center, USC Keck Medicine, and others in the commercial and doc space.

    Krystina Christiansen behind the scenes shooting “Closing the Gap” for The Redford Center

    Now Christiansen is being recognized for her work and ideas for her project The Narrative by Sony’s Gemstone Studios by being named one of the four finalists in the inaugural Rising Storytellers Search. Her entry pitch for her project, The Narrative, a hybrid docudrama that takes an anthropological view of decades of civil unrest in Houston.

    “When I was 13, I overheard a newscaster talking about the 30 year anniversary of a trial in Houston called ‘The Houston 12.’ While watching it I recognized one of the men was my dad,” she revealed. “He was working overseas at the time and there’s nothing about this trial online so I kept hitting walls anytime I’d inquire about it. My dad is incredibly humble about this, but I knew there was a story here and as mentioned, I love a good story.”

    Christiansen did everything she could to dig deeper into her research to uncover the truth behind The Houston 12 and spent 2019 flying back and forth to Houston to sit in Rice University’s basement reading two decades of microfilm to do research for the story. Throughout that process, she noticed alarming patterns within media stories that revealed covered up corruption and, eventually, the articles detailing the Houston 12 trial.

    Krystina Christiansen shooting “Closing the Gap” for The Redford Center

    The four finalists for Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search, including Christiansen, will receive tools from Sony Alpha and team up with mentors from both SPT and Ideas United to refine their final pitch reels before presenting them for judging in November. In addition to a deal with Gemstone, the creator of the winning proposal will take home equipment from Sony and get access to the company’s Digital Media Production Center (DMPC) technical-virtual training. All finalists will also be given a 24-month subscription to Celtx Video Production Studio Software and Josefinas products.

    New York Film Academy is thrilled to share the exciting news about Krystina Christiansen being named a finalist and wishes the NYFA alum the best of luck and all the support for her biggest and most personal project yet, The Narrative

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    November 19, 2020 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 279

  • Film “Make America Safe” by NYFA Acting Instructor Blanche Baker Enjoys Festival Run

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    Our NYFA Acting faculty aren’t only professionals in front of the camera but are working professionals in the industry constantly experimenting and making their own work while simultaneously teaching NYFA students the fundamentals of their craft.

    Blanche Baker teaches in both the Acting and Musical Theatre departments at NYFA’s New York campus. With an extensive background on the stage and on screen, Baker made her television debut in the miniseries Holocaust, for which she won an Emmy Award. Her feature films include Sixteen Candles, The Handmaid’s Tale with Robert Duvall, Raw Deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Kevin Bacon HBO film Taking Chance. She was part of the Yale Repertory Theatre and Anna Sokolow’s dance troupe and her theatre roles include Steel Magnolias and Edward Albee’s Lolita with Donald Sutherland. 

    Film poster for “Make America Safe”

    In addition to writing and directing the award-winning short film Streetwrite, Baker wrote and directed her latest film Make America Safe, with award-winning cinematography Piero Basso, serving as the director of photography. The film has been garnering accolades and making its rounds on the festival circuit, recently appearing in the Global Impact Festival in Washington, D.C.

    Make America Safe is a musical short film about the 2nd Amendment and asks the question, “what if in the next few years citizens were required to carry weapons in order to ensure the safety of the public?” Using the premise of a news commentary show, the film takes a sardonic look at this possible future and examines the kind of scenarios that could arise in this world. With music composed by Andy Peterson, it sheds light on the rationales that could lead to such a future. 

    The film features a talented cast of Musical Theatre students working alongside NYFA’s professional faculty of artists as part of their Musical Theatre curriculum, which requires students to perform in original movie musicals, combining both musical theatre for the stage and for film.

    Official Selection: 
    Global Nonviolent Film Festival
    South Film and Arts Festival
    Film for Peace
    New York Short Film Festival
    Sanctuary International Film Festival

    Accolades:
    A Show For Change – Creativity Award
    Awareness Festival – Merit Award for Awareness
    X World Short Film Festival – Best International Short and Best Original Music
    Cinefest – Best Musical
    Blow Up Arthouse – Finalist

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    November 17, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Musical Theatre • Views: 141

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum Lebogang Fisher Selected for Actors in Training Casting Initiative by Warner Bros. Television

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    Lebogang Fisher or “Lebo” (pronounced Leh-boo), is a South African actress and director (M R Management, Stella Talent) and NYFA alum. Her name “Lebogang” means to be thankful, and she has been, time and time again, for the opportunities she has had, including most recently when she was one of ten selected to be part of the inaugural group of Warner Bros. TV’s (WBTV) “Actors in Training” program.

    The WBTV Actors in Training program is designed to connect Warner Bros. Studio with emerging actors who may have had their final year of dramatic training curtailed or negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 6,800 actors from 280 training programs worldwide who participated in the program, Warner Bros. selected Fisher as an actress to watch and to be introduced to the entertainment community at large.

    NYFA Alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher

    If not for the pandemic, Fisher would have been playing Ophelia in a South African production of Hamlet at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town later this year. In the meantime though, you can watch her work as Cressida in The Show Must Go Online’s Troilus and Cressida.

    Fisher attended NYFA’s 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory program in New York City after her agent in South Africa suggested she audition for the program. “My family didn’t have the money, but you could audition for a talent-based scholarship,” shared Fisher. Recalling her audition for the scholarship, Fisher shared that she remembered messing up one of her monologues, but quickly pivoted and tried something else. “When I was done [with the second monologue], the scout said to me, Yeah…You need to lead with that one next time. He offered me a scholarship on the spot.”

    Following graduation and after finding her footing in the artist community, Fisher discovered the Warner Brothers initiative from a friend on Facebook which prompted her to submit all her materials to the program in hopes of being selected. “At that point in time, I was quite disheartened. A lot of projects that I was auditioning for/preparing for were postponed due to the pandemic, and eventually, all were canceled. Even my survival job fell through,” she revealed. “When I saw the WBTV call, I felt a glimmer of hope. I knew I had to swing BIG.”

    After going through the process and being selected as one of the ten finalists, Fisher acknowledged the honor of being selected. “Being able to meet with the casting team and the showrunners at WBTV is amazing,” said Fisher. “The ability to create a long-lasting relationship with other creatives around the world is something that this pandemic has enabled us all to do. It’s opened me up to people I may never have been able to meet.”

    When all is said and done, Fisher shared that being an artist is “a lifetime commitment” and advises students and artists of the craft to remember that. She also reminded NYFA acting students to remember: “There will be many long days. It can be fun, exciting, the newness of the city and the students around you may feel like falling in love. It can also be challenging, strange, but pay attention. Time moves fast.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher on her outstanding achievement and looks forward to seeing what is next from the actress in her career journey.

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  • 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: 714

  • Broadcast Journalism Update – November 2020 Edition

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    2020 has been an eventful year, and even though there are less than two months to go, the pace of events shows no sign of slowing down.

    “Election Day” in the United States became “Election Week.” And as I write this, the Election is still being litigated in court. NYFA Broadcast Journalism grads have been reporting this story to audiences across America, and around the world. Catherine Kobayashi is a New York-based reporter for NHK, Japan’s national Public TV network. Previously she was the lead presenter for NHK World, an English-language news service based in Tokyo.

    “Deep in the Heart of Texas” (which is the title of a famous old song… I know a lot about “old songs”), former NYFA student Nicole Cross had a long night that dragged into the early morning (and beyond) as one of the anchors/presenters for Election Night coverage on Spectrum News 1, a 24-hour local news channel available throughout Texas.

    Danish TV producer/reporter Celina Liv Danielsen spent many, many hours in Las Vegas. But not at any of the casinos. Instead, she was at the Clark County Administration Building waiting for the latest vote count.


    Karen Hua
     remembered the first rule of TV reporting… drink water.
    NYFA instructor Evgenia Vlasova has a substantial social media presence. She discovered what it is like for a major network to see your story, and liked it so much they decide they want to do it too… Personally, I think Genia’s version was better!

    Speaking of Genia, she and I co-hosted a two-hour webinar on TV production during the age of COVID. The first hour looked at TV news production, while in the second hour we explored change in the production of talk shows, episodic television, and feature films. The webinar is part of a three-day conference called Astana Media Week, which draws TV producers and executives from throughout Central Asia.

    And, in keeping with NYFA production protocols, we wore our masks.

    Of course, lots of other things happened over the last few months. Broadcast Journalism graduate Federica Polidoro covered the legendary Biennale de Venezia, one of the few international film festivals that actually took place in-person this year.

    In Brazil, NYFA alum Daniella Gemignani celebrated a work anniversary at media giant Globo, in Sao Paulo Brazil.

    Paula Varejao, who works on Globo’s Mais Globosat, continues going to places I can only dream of visiting.

    Broadcast Journalism grad Beatriz Puente is working for Band TV. And while she loves her job as a producer, I think she might love being an on-air reporter even more…

    One of her recent stories was how a well-known dance club in Rio opened and violated every COVID-19 rule you could imagine. This is why Journalism is so important. Frankly, there are times when Journalism is literally a matter of life and death.

    Many time zones away, former NYFA student Abiola Jinadu has established her own production company in Nigeria. The company specializes in a wide range of video programming, the same way we train our students to be multimedia journalists capable of working in many different settings. Congratulations, Abiola!

    Closer to New York City, NYFA grad Kendall Bunch made her way to Marquette, Michigan (one of the smaller TV markets in the United States) to start her career. It is a path many of us have taken. Myself, I spent a couple of years in Madison, Wisconsin…

    Broadcast Journalism alum (and U.S. Navy veteran) Clyde D. Gunter is now a Content Strategist at ESPN Original Content.

    And current Broadcast Journalism student (and part-time Good Morning America studio crew member) Brett Mills shows how to maintain social distancing with a Sony FS5 HD/4K camera.

    Stay tuned for more updates from Broadcast students, alumni, and faculty. For more information about our Broadcast Journalism programs, click here.
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  • Cinematography Instructor Mark Sawicki Featured in ‘Deadline’ and Discusses New Book “Filming the Fantastic with Virtual Technology” Bringing Movie Magic Solutions

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    As many TV and film productions are grappling with new social distancing guidelines and reassessing working with extras for crowd scenes, New York Film Academy Cinematography instructor for NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, Mark Sawicki, says VFX is here to help.

    Sawicki is a Clio-winning VFX and opticals artist, who has worked on incredible titles from The Dark Knight Rises and Bullet to the Head, to Tropic Thunder, 3:10 to Yuma and X-Men, among several others. Recently featured in Deadline, Sawicki shared how productions will increasingly begin to look to VFX to solve the challenging situations for making safer productions and creating scenes with crowds where multiple extras on set are typically needed.  

    Courtesy of Mark Sawicki

    Using examples from titles like Casanova, Dracula, Gladiator, Pan Am, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, and more, Sawicki explains different VFX and even practical effects that can make movie magic for keeping sets safer. He also elaborated that background actors are still integral to filmmaking, but safety will need to take precedent. “I think background actors are very important. You know, this is a moving target as we’re adapting.”

    Sawicki is the co-author with Juniko Moody of the recently released book Filming the Fantastic With Virtual Technology: Filmmaking on the Digital Backlot. Like his interview with Deadline explains, Sawicki and Moody outline some of the most ambitious evolutions in digital effects in filmmaking and the new and exciting developments in digital cinematography with their new book, ultimately providing solutions for how VFX can help solve many of the challenges arising as crews look to return to work on COVID-safe sets.

    To read the full article on Deadline, click here. Sawicki’s book has recently been released and is now available on Amazon and Kindle. 

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    November 11, 2020 • 3D Animation, Cinematography, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights • Views: 485

  • NYFA Cinematography Alum & Rapper Sapra on Single “Haiwan” and Shooting a Music Video During a Global Pandemic

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    NYFA Cinematography alum-turned-rapper, Sapra, recently released his latest track “Haiwan.” Sapra, along with fellow NYFA grads Justin Knodel, Mohit Soni, and Pierre Mendoza, have been making the most of their time in quarantine by producing the music video for “Haiwan.” 

    Originally from New Delhi, India, and currently based in Los Angeles, Sapra is known for fusing Bollywood rhythms with contemporary Hip-Hop sounds with lyrics that address social issues like body positivity, drug abuse, human rights, and more universal themes like love. The rapper’s latest track “Haiwan” (Translated to “Devil” in Hindi) is now available on major streaming platforms, with the video also available on video platforms like YouTube.

    The video for the newly released track centers around COVID-19 and the response from countries throughout the world, specifically the U.S. and China. The sound is ferocious with Sapra’s rapping vocals and lyrics focus on themes of unity and love in the face of the global pandemic. A Cinematography alum from NYFA, Sapra’s video pays special attention to the imagery with eye-catching visuals for the viewer to experience the essence of human diversity and how our common humanity is the unifying factor in these unprecedented times.

    “In India millions of people were on the street, unemployed, sick, walking over 200 miles to get back to their hometowns,” shared Sapra when asked about what inspired him for the track. “Justin Knodel, also an NYFA graduate, rang me up and said ‘why are you not doing something, let’s shoot something together.’ I then called my music partner Sharad Tripathi and he wrote the lyrics immediately. I collaborated with my neighbor, Apiwe Bubu, and my mentor, Ara Torosyan, who are music producers and we had a song in 8 hours.” 

    He continued, “My friend Mohit Soni (Also a NYFA alum) helped Justin shoot this project. It was a small crew due to COVID-19 and they both nailed it despite those limitations,” revealed Sapra. “Mohit created some amazing lighting schemes and also helped me co-produce this video. I personally went 9 times to the location to get shots and the location was a 4-hour drive back and forth from Burbank.”

    Behind the scenes of the “Haiwan” shoot (Photo courtesy of Sapra)

    With the location for the shoot being filmed in the desert, Sapra reveals it was chosen to show the “emptiness, barrenness, and roughness” that surrounds the lyrics and purpose of the song itself. “The land showed how people are feeling out of place and we played off the idea that there is little life left. The diversity of the characters in the music video helped to bring a global element to the song making the message of the song much more universal and relatable.”

    The rapper hopes that the song helps listeners feel the need to stand up for justice. “We must do something to act in a just and kind manner to this global pandemic,” he encourages. “We must have compassion for our neighbor, have a dialogue with people who are suffering, do something about climate change and subside the greed, anger, and foolishness within this world.”

    The energetic and socially-conscious artist has more up his sleeve and has also recently released singles “Coco” and “High on Love,” for which the alum also has also released music videos.

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    November 10, 2020 • Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 406