David OLeary
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  • NYFA Digital Filmmaking Alum Dylan Greenberg on Originality, Artistry, and Her Upcoming Film ‘Spirit Riser’

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    When Dylan Greenberg first came to New York Film Academy (NYFA), she was nine years old; one of the youngest students NYFA had ever enrolled at the school. In fact, due to NYFA’s program age restrictions, it was not common to have someone that young attend such an intensive program. However, Greenberg wowed NYFA early on with her film Ankh, which was inspired by director David Lynch, and the NYFA alum has never looked back since.

    Greenberg has gone on to direct the films ReAgitator: Revenge of the Parody, Glamarus, Wakers, and Amityville: Vanishing Point. Her third film, Dark Prism, was covered internationally by VICE, Rolling Stone, and Flavorwire, among others. She has also been featured in PAPER Magazine and has directed music videos for James Chance and the Contortions, Mac Gollehon, Pastel Confession, and many others. 

    Greenberg’s next project is set to release this year and is described as a supernatural martial arts movie. The film, Spirit Riser, stars Amanda Flowers, Cherie Currie, Kansas and Parker Bowling, Lynn Lowry, Jesse Yungbei, Patti Harrison, and will be narrated by the Tarrantino-favorite Michael Madsen (Kill Bill Vols 1& 2, Reservoir Dogs).

    The New York Film Academy was able to get the scoop on Greenberg’s upcoming film and discuss the NYFA alum’s career as a director, actress, and a creative, who has a strong collaborative nature and a keen sense of originality woven into the fabric of any project she touches. 

    Photo Courtesy of Dylan Greenberg

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What made you want to come to NYFA? Have you carried any learnings with you into your career?

    Dylan Greenberg (DG): I wanted to come to NYFA because at the time I was the only little kid in my neighborhood who seemed really interested in film, especially offbeat films. It was a way for me to find other kids with my interests. Most of the kids were older than me as I believe the classes went from ages 10-13, but it was the first time I was in a room with other children who shared my passions. At NYFA, I learned that realizing your vision is sometimes a fluid effort, and part of that is the understanding that what ends up on screen may not be exactly what you originally pictured. It was also the first time I walked through the process of writing, pre-production, shooting, post and a premiere.  

    NYFA: What have been some of your career highlights so far? 

    DG: One of my big career highlights was when the trailer for my third feature film Dark Prism was covered internationally  by VICE, Rolling Stone, Flavorwire and others. I was 18 at the time and that was the first time I saw my work get relatively mainstream attention. Another highlight was seeing a music video I directed for Sam Huber, on the True Groove Records Label, air on national television in Finland, on the YLE network. Those were two big firsts for me and encouragement that I was going in the right direction. 

    Dylan Greenberg (Right) and Lloyd Kaufman (Left) on the set of ‘Shakespeare’s Shitstorm’ in Albania

    NYFA: Can you tell us more about your collaborations with Troma Entertainment? 

    DG: I got my first job right out of high school working in the Troma offices. In fact, I was still in high school when I started working there. So, it was pretty great being 17 and 18 and having your first job in the field you wanted to be in. I was basically in charge of creating and editing the majority of their internet content while I was there, as well as special features for their Blu-rays. I’ve since become a freelance music video and commercial director, but continue to collaborate with Troma. Recently, I starred in their upcoming feature film Shakespeare’s Shitstorm, which is a super obscene, epic adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  

    Photo Courtesy of Dylan Greenberg

    NYFA: Can you tell us more about your role as a full time music video and commercial director?

    DG: A big reason why I’m able to work as a music video director full time is because of my third feature film Dark Prism. When it got all the press it did, it caught the attention of True Groove Records, who hired me to direct several music videos for them when for others that might have seemed like too much of a risk because the only music videos I had really done before were for my own music. As a result of my work with True Groove, who I still work with to this very day, I was able to get work with many other clients. I learned a lot of networking skills, as the truth is there are many artists in New York City that need a video that both looks one of a kind and is in their budget. So, once I had some more videos under my wing I could send it as examples of the kind of work I do.

    I fill the niche for “weird but engaging” videos, as I’m known for very colorful, in your face visuals. However, I’m able to shoot in any style the shoot demands, and last year when I directed my first commercial to air on CBS, NY1 and News12, I was asked to take a more conventional approach. It was for a disco mega-concert, and because of the commercial, it sold out within a week or so! They actually didn’t have to air the commercial for as long as they thought they did because the tickets sold so fast. I was really proud of that, and again I have True Groove Records and Tomás Doncker to thank for that. 

    NYFA: In addition to your career as a director, you’re also in a band. Can you tell us more about that?

    DG: I’m in a band called Theophobia, which I feel is very similar to a lot of my film projects. In fact, my band mate Matt Ellin was, and is, also a big part of my film projects and has created music for my feature films since they were a teenager. Initially, the band started when my solo song and self directed video “Mia” became an unexpected success and premiered in PAPER Magazine, so I decided to tour the song around New York and promote it at clubs and local television stations. I wanted to have a guitarist and a lot of my friends as backup dancers to make it very theatrical, and I asked my friend Matt to be my guitarist, since they were already such a close collaborator, and I always felt like they were a total whiz kid. At a certain point, we both realized we had such a mutual love for music like Sparks, the work of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf, and we realized it would just be so much more fun to make it a collaborative effort where we contribute an equal amount of ideas, and shine the spotlight on each other. I feel like besides synthesizers and vocals, I also “play” the video, because video is a big aspect of our performance. 

    I program a lot of the synthesizer elements into video that plays behind us, and then we play along with that. Our performances and music are super theatrical and we act our shows out like an improvised play, we deliberately act like clowns and try to get a reaction out of the audience, we sometimes physically fight each other on stage and one time I brought a Christmas tree into the venue in the middle of the performance. It’s really cool to get to direct videos not just for my own music but for OUR music, because whenever I create anything I immediately have a visual image of what I want it to look like, so it’s so cool to get to bring that to life. Definitely one of my favorite parts of music is making music videos. I‘ve watched 80s music videos non stop since I was a kid and found Pop Up Video on TV, so music videos are really my whole life. 

    NYFA: Some directors choose to subvert a personal style or auteurist approach to directing, but that doesn’t seem to be your approach. What would you say makes something a “Dylan Greenberg” project?

    DG: I would say, that in terms of my feature films, many consider them giant music videos. I have a lot of music from all different kinds of artists in my films, and almost always have at least one scene where someone actually sings a song within the film. Like my music videos, my projects are super colorful and in your face. I use a lot of fisheye lenses after falling in love with Hong Kong action cinema and Scott Shaw’s Zen filmmaking. I try to get really dominant with the colors red, blue and green and try to shoot in colorful locations with colorful people. My new film Spirit Riser has a lot of music, and musicians in it such as Dorian Electra, Cherrie Curie, the late Alan Merrill, and of course music from True Groove. That’s my seventh feature film, and will likely see a premiere in October. It’s so long I might have to split it into two movies, actually! 

    Photo Courtesy of Dylan Greenberg

    NYFA: Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?

    DG: Oh my goodness, so many! As I mentioned before, I have a feature film called Spirit Riser coming very soon starring Amanda Flowers, Cherie Currie, Kansas and Parker Bowling, Lynn Lowry, Jesse Yungbei, Patti Harrison, and it’s narrated by Michael Madsen! The only way to describe it is a supernatural martial arts horror fairytale. It’s got music, animation, live action, the Statue of Liberty coming to life and destroying New York, giant talking hands, and ghosts! 

    Furthermore, I have a short film called The Bathtub, which is actually the first short I’ve directed since I was a teenager that doesn’t also serve its primary purpose as a music video. It took me three years to make with Khloaris and I consider it as big of an achievement to me as one of my feature films. 

    We shot the entire project on green screen and we then built all of the sets as miniatures, keying the actors in frame  by frame. It’s so cool, because for the first time ever I got to literally build a world from the ground up, out of paper and cardboard. The point wasn’t to make you believe the miniatures are full size or hyper realistic but rather to make you believe the actors really live inside these boxes, ride the train high above them, and interact with these surreal wacky environments. It’s truly an experience and it stars Bob Bert of Sonic Youth, who also contributes music to the film. We were supposed to premiere it in March at WFMU, but obviously that got delayed. It will be coming soon, though! New York Film Academy would like to thank Dylan Greenberg for taking the time to share more about her directorial style and passion for creation. NYFA encourages everyone to check out Greenberg’s upcoming project Spirit Riser, when it is released later this year.

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    August 11, 2020 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 191

  • NYFA Alum Valéria Costa Works as Production Manager for Netflix’s ‘Sergio’ and ‘Street Food: Latin America’

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    When shooting abroad, a solid production team is essential for shooting projects in an area you may be unfamiliar with. New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum, Valéria Costa, makes it her job to ensure that foreign companies have everything they need, which is exactly what she recently did for the Netflix productions of Sergio and Street Food: Latin America.

    Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Costa came to NYFA after wanting to learn the practical side of filmmaking. “I also wanted to study abroad and improve my English,” she tells NYFA, “so I decided to apply to the MFA Filmmaking program at NYFA and kill two birds with one stone.”

    Valéria Costa (Left) on set

    Costa has since worked her way up through the ranks at production house Brazil Production Services, becoming a as a Production Manager. She has worked on multiple projects both in Brazil and in the United States including Netflix’s Hyperdrive and 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. Costa also worked on the NYC unit for the Brazilian feature film Minha Vida em Marte and on the set of the shoot for the Get to Know Me music video with Brazil’s biggest popstar, Anitta.

    Costa’s recent projects as a production manager have been with big name titles  like the Netflix film Sergio, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, starring Ana de Armas and famous Brazilian actor Wagner Moura. “It was a great experience,” shares Costa. “We had several weeks of pre-production and the challenge to build a 100+ local Rio de Janeiro crew, and served as the main members of the crews (being bilingual) to communicate between the Brazilian crew and American crew that flew to Brazil for this shoot.”

    Film poster for ‘Sergio’

    As with any production, Sergio posed many challenges for Costa and the crew. Some of those challenges included finding the right person for a certain type of shoot and transforming a whole set to resemble an entirely different decade.

    “We had an underwater scene being filmed in the Rio de Janeiro that meant we needed to bring in the best underwater camera operator in Brazil to ensure we had the best footage possible,” reveals Costa. “We also needed to make sure all scene components were true to the time period, with many written as Sergio’s flashbacks from the 70’s; everything from street signs, cars, beach wear, people’s wardrobe, accessories, and more needed to be thought through.”

    Poster for ‘Street Food: Latin America’

    Another exciting project helmed by Costa and her team was Netflix docuseries Street Food: Latin America. Costa managed the Brazil Unit for the streaming series and  reveals it was a “fulfilling experience” but also challenging overall.

    “The city of Salvador [where the shoot was taking place] is not as developed as São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, so, at some point during production, we had an issue with the equipment and we had to act very fast and put somebody on a plane to bring equipment from São Paulo for us ASAP so our schedule wasn’t affected. Everything worked out in the end and I’m very happy that people from all over the world get to know some of the best Brazilian and Latin American food.”

    Valéria Costa (Second from left) with the production crew behind the scenes of a shoot

    Costa’s job is certainly never quiet. Besides having the usual responsibilities of a Film Production Manager, she is also in charge with advising her clients on the local filming requirements of the country that they are looking to film in, while also seeking to align their expectations based on the limitations of that location.

    “There’s a Brazilian saying that I believe summarizes working in the film industry for me: ‘A rapadura é doce, mas não é mole não.’ That translates to something like, “The candy is sweet, but it’s not easy to bite. What we do is definitely not easy. You work long hours, deal with extremely tight deadlines and budget limitations, but I really love making movies and dealing with all the moving parts of a set and once you can see the final product I can guarantee that it’s worth it.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate MFA Filmmaking alum Valéria Costa on her recent successes for the two Netflix productions, and is excited to see what’s in store for Costa as she continues to manage productions in two different global hemispheres of the world.

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    August 6, 2020 • Filmmaking, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 252

  • TV & Film Actress Samantha Soule Expands Her Craft With New York Film Academy’s Online Workshops

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    At New York Film Academy (NYFA), we are excited to continue to offer our creative and performing arts workshops online so that everyone, from artists and industry professionals like Samantha Soule, can continue to hone their craft under the guidance of renowned instructors from anywhere in the world. Samantha Soule, who recently took an Online Film Directing Workshop and Online Cinematography with NYFA, already boasts an active acting career, with credits including Outer Banks, Godless, City on a Hill, and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, amongst many others.

    A full time actress for many years, Soule holds numerous credits for TV and film across Netflix, Showtime, CBS, and many more. She has a number of projects in the works for the upcoming year which, unfortunately, are on hold due to the global pandemic.

    “When COVID-19 shut down the projects I had in the works, it felt like a really good time to learn and evolve,” shares Soule. “So much of my life as a performer is being the clay for another’s vision, which is a job I love, but as I move forward in life I am interested in the ways I can expand: use other parts of my brain, create stories, create opportunities to collaborate in different ways, and create opportunities for others, and not just benefit from them myself.”

    Samantha Soule as Charlotte Temple in Netflix’s ‘Godless’

    During her online courses at NYFA, Soule shares that learning more outside of acting has been an eye-opening experience, allowing her to explore different avenues of the business like film directing and cinematography. “I learn best by doing, and this course has been an incredible kick in the butt to just get out there and start trying, learn from mistakes, fail, get up and try again.”

    As Soule pursues more avenues for creating more opportunities in the future, she shows no signs of stopping in her acting career, having already gained recognition for many of her roles including the put-together high society woman, Charlotte Temple, on Netflix’s Godless, where Soule stars alongside Michelle Dockery, Jeff Daniels, Merritt Weaver, and Jack O’Connell in the streaming giant’s western mini-series.

    Samantha Soule as Anna Carrera on Netflix breakout series ‘Outer Banks’

    Soule also recently appeared in Netflix breakout series Outer Banks (also referred to as OBX), which was recently renewed for a second season that has yet to begin filming due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Soule plays Anna Carrera, the caring and concerned mother of main character Kiara (played by Madison Bailey). Soule praises the show for its themes of the trust, loyalty and love that you build with the family you are born into and the family you choose. As for whether we will see more of Soule’s character next season, Soule says: “I think there is some of that ferocity in Anna. She has her own history and has made some bold choices herself along the way, but I haven’t a clue where the story is going! We shall see!”

    Samantha Soule (Right) in Showtime’s ‘City on a Hill’

    Soule’s long standing career as an actor has brought her many roles both big and small, but she approaches them all with a student mindset with what she’s absorbed from her experiences along the way. “I have been both really lucky and active in my fight to work on a really diverse array of characters. I love leaping from one world to the next and I learn from each. Each character is a new vantage to view the world, so the wider the range of humans I get to understand the deeper the education. I think most of what I love is the extreme juxtaposition, it’s like using different muscles.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress and NYFA alum Samantha Soule for taking the time to speak to us on her experience as a constant student to her craft and also encourages everyone to check out Soule in AMC’s supernatural thriller Nos4a2, which premiered this summer, and her upcoming project with Godless creator Scott Frank called Queen’s Gambit.

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    August 5, 2020 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 265

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum Drama del Rosario Awarded ‘Juried Prize’ in The 2020 PBS Short Film Festival

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    In late July, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario received one of the two awarded prizes for the 2020 PBS Short Film Festival. The documentary filmmaking alum caught the eye of voters and the prestigious Jury for the competition and ultimately received this years ‘Juried Prize’ for his film In This Family

    Del Rosario was awarded the prestigious prize by eight jury members, who selected the NYFA alum’s film as their favorite out of all the festival selections. In addition to del Rosario’s film, all festival selections are available to the public to watch online.

    ‘In This Family’ film poster

    Del Rosario is a Filipinx documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of the 2019 BAFTA-GSA Commissioning Grant for his documentary film, I’m Okay (And Neither Are You), which touches on sexual assault trauma from a gay couple’s perspective. The NYFA alum is known for creating documentary films that challenge the Filipinx Catholic background and he has worked with many international names including BeBe Zahara Benet (Winner, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 1) and Sophie Sumner (Winner, America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 18). 

    His latest documentary, In This Family, is a twelve minute short film that chronicles what happens after del Rosario’s teach outs him as a gay man and includes recordings of his family’s reaction to the news.

    “Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students,” shared del Rosario. “I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools.”

    Del Rosario also credits NYFA alum Naya Rivera, who tragically passed away in early July, as a source of inspiration for his short film. “In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character, Santana Lopez, was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera.”

    The NYFA alum also shares that this documentary is an important release in his native country as it is produced by Cinematografo, which is under the Filipino production company ABS-CBN International. “It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard!” His full statement can be found below.

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    WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!!!!!! 🎉🔥✨💕😭🎊⭐️🏆 My documentary film “IN THIS FAMILY” is officially the JURY WINNER for this year’s PBS Short Film Festival! This is so huge coming from a very, very stacked jury! 😱 Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students. I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools. ❤️ Furthermore, showcasing this documentary at this particular time has been special to me for two reasons… 1️⃣ First, this documentary is executive produced by Cinematografo, which is under ABS-CBN International. As a lot of people know, ABS-CBN and Philippine media in general are not in a good place right now because of Philippine politics. It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard! 2️⃣ Second, I am extremely touched by all the messages from Glee fans regarding the recent death of Naya Rivera. In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character Santana Lopez was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera. ❤️ I am incredibly honored to receive this award. Thank you so much to CAAM (@caamedia and their superstar team @czarinagee, @akolaurenlola, @livinproofsf, @gracehwanglynch, @krakauer, @sushboy34 ++) for believing in my film as your official entry and for always supporting my career as a documentary filmmaker. Thank you so much to PBS (@pbs) for putting together an amazing film festival with an amazing film line-up and jury. And most of all, thank you so much to my family for continuing to change and grow. I would not be where I am right now had you not powered through the discomfort of growth and change. ALL MY LOVE! 🏆💕

    A post shared by Drama Del Rosario (@dramadelrosario) on

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario for his latest achievement and looks forward to what is next from the talented filmmaker. 

    To watch the full documentary, view below or click here

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  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Student Phyllis Tam Named Semifinalist in 47th Annual Student Academy Awards

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    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) own Phyllis Tam, who recently graduated with her MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, has been selected as a semifinalist in the 47th Annual Student Academy Awards for her narrative short film Fragile Moon.

    Still from Student Academy Award Semifinalist Film ‘Fragile Moon’ (Photo Courtesy of Phyllis Tam)

    Only 92 films out of 1,468 films were selected to advance to the semifinal round of the Student Academy Awards. Tam’s short film Fragile Moon was submitted to the Academy under the Domestic Schools entry with New York Film Academy in the Narrative Short Film category.

    “I could not be more excited that Fragile Moon made it to the semifinals for the Student Academy Awards,” shares NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, Crickett Rumley. “Phyllis worked so diligently to perfect every single detail of her film — down to the placement of subtitles — that it’s no wonder her dedication paid off. It is such a timely story about the impact that immigrating to the U.S and pursuing the American dream has on families. The themes of memory, loss, and the healing power of art resonate long after the film is over.”

    Still from ‘Fragile Moon’ (Photo Courtesy of Phyllis Tam)

    “We are proud to see Phyllis Tam’s creativity and hard work pay off with her film Fragile Moon as she continues to advance in this prestigious competition for student filmmakers worldwide,” says NYFA President Michael Young. “Like Phyllis’ honorary achievement with the Student Academy Awards, we are excited to see NYFA students go on to achieve their dreams with their outstanding work.”

    Finalists for the Student Academy Awards are likely to be announced in August similar to previous years. The winners will then be announced in late Fall and will be eligible to compete for the 2020 Oscars in the following categories: Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, or Documentary Short Subject category. Previous Student Academy Award winners have gone on to win 11 Oscars, and receive 63 Oscar nominations, among them include: Cary Fukunaga, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, and Robert Zemeckis.

    New York Film Academy will be hosting a virtual private student screening of Fragile Moon, along with an online Q&A with MFA Filmmaking alum Phyllis Tam on Friday, August 7, 2020.

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  • New York Film Academy Alum Mirza Farhan Abbas (Mirzaab) Releases Film ‘The Chase’ on YouTube Amid the Global Pandemic and Discusses the Connection of Filmmaking and Reality

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    Like many filmmakers in 2020, Mirzaab (a.k.a Mirza Farhan Abbas) hoped his film would premier in a cinema for a live audience. His film The Chase, was slated to premier in Dubai on March 26, 2020, but then the global pandemic changed everything. The NYFA digital filmmaking alum decided to pivot and release his film on YouTube instead.

    Filmmaker Mirzaab was born and raised in Pakistan, but has been living in Dubai (UAE) since 2007. “I remember that from early on I always wanted to be a film director,” recalls Mirzaab. “There wasn’t a proper film school at an institute or university level known by me that catered to the passion of an emerging filmmaker. In other words, filmmaking was never considered as a full-time profession where I was growing up.”

    NYFA digital filmmaking alum and director Mirzaab (a.k.a Mirza Farhan Abbas)

    Mirzaab recalls being raised surrounded by career choices that only seemed to be in industries such as: medicine, banking, law, teaching, engineering and others. He eventually found himself working in banking to help share the financial responsibility for his family’s household while completing his postgraduate education. “Working there [at the bank] not only brought in the support my family needed, but at the same time I was starting to feel independent in making my educational choices.”

    With a never ending desire for filmmaking, Mirzaab recalls seeking out YouTube tutorials and learning everything from how to operate certain cameras to understanding lighting techniques as best he could. “But there was a major problem in all of it; the lack of process and guidance.” 

    He soon realized it was time to explore other options, so Mirzaab began reaching out to renowned pakistani film directors for guidance and eventually got hold of Mehreen Jabbar, who lives in New York, and encouraged Mirzaab to take a filmmaking course at NYFA. 

    Throughout his time as an independent filmmaker (Over 10 years), Mirzaab explains filmmaking is really about making a connection to life and reality. 

    “I realized that I didn’t need to learn the technical skills, but I did need to have the vision. The imagination should be as bright as the cinema screen and the director must be able to take his or her audience on a 90 minutes long journey where they also feel a part of it.” 

    Mirzaab says that it is the director who borrows a fraction of reality and translates that to an audience and “stirs emotions” among viewers. If that element is missing or is unclear, it may be a well made film but not a great film, which is how he thinks through each project and becoming a better director for the audience. 

    ‘The Chase’ film poster

    His past projects embody that sense of reality and emotion that he wants the audience to experience and relate to like Lasting Silence, which explores the relationship struggles between an able-bodied girl building a friendship with a special needs girl, without having any knowledge of sign language. Another film from the director, Thankful, portrays the relationship between a father and daughter and their different views on one single incident they experience together, while Extra explores ‘happiness’ and ‘contentment’ in life.

    Mirzaab’s latest film, The Chase, explores more themes that people may grapple with regularly such as: mental health, emotional well-being, affection, rejection, social connection, paranormal intuitions, manifestation, friendships and above all, the uncertainty of life and death. “I am a big fan of exploring human relationship stories, real or fiction, it doesn’t matter to me,” he shares. “I always enjoy it and my filmmaking is primarily based on such stories and all my films reflect that commonality.”

    Mirzaab reminds filmmakers, producers, and teachers of every caliber to remember: “The scale of production is a good measure to gauge the seriousness of a filmmaker, but many times we miss out those filmmakers whose passions go way beyond their lack of resources and apprenticeships.” 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Mirzaab on the release of his latest film and encourages everyone to check out The Chase, now available to watch on Mirzaab’s YouTube channel here.

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    July 30, 2020 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 574

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Earns Several Nominations for 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was once again represented in this year’s nominations for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, announced Tuesday, July 28 at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

    NYFA alum and ‘Insecure’ creator Issa Rae (Right) and Jay Ellis (Left) in Season 4 of ‘Insecure’

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae was nominated for her second ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series’ Emmy for her performance in the HBO series Insecure, also created and executive produced by Rae. In total, Insecure received eight nominations including its first-ever Emmy nomination for ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ and a nomination for Yvonne Orji for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.’

    Fan favorite series Stranger Things continued to capture viewers, receiving eight nominations including ‘Outstanding Drama Series.’ NYFA Filmmaking alum Eric Demeusy previously earned an Emmy in 2017 for creating the now iconic title sequence for the show. The series also previously starred NYFA Board Member and Master Class Instructor Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner and featured NYFA Acting for Film alum Matty Cardarople.

    NYFA guest speaker and ‘The Mandalorian’ creator Jon Favreau

    Competing with Stranger Things for ‘Outstanding Drama Series’ is the Disney+ Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian. Created by NYFA guest speaker Jon Favreau, the series received a whopping 17 nominations total for the newcomer streaming platform. The popular space western also features Rocky star, Carl Weathers, who previously spoke at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for Industry Lab panel discussion. Disney+ also picked up a nomination for ‘Outstanding Short Form Animated Program’ with Forky Asks a Question, featuring the voice of actor and NYFA guest speaker Tony Hale.

    Documentary film poster for Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’

    Easily one of the most talked-about documentaries of the year was Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness, which received four nominations in the Emmy documentary categories including ‘Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series.’ Creating the cohesive and gripping storyline for the documentary was NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales, who served as co-editor for the popular Netflix series.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum Ragga Ragnars in ‘Vikings’

    Also nominated this year was History Channel’s Vikings for ‘Outstanding Visual Effects in a Supporting Role,’ which stars Acting for Film alum Ragga Ragnars. Better Call Saul screenwriter and NYFA guest speaker, Gordon Smith, was also nominated for his writing for the series episode “Bagman.”

    This year, Netflix beat out HBO’s previous record for the most Emmy nominations to date with 160 nominations, with HBO trailing behind at 107 nominations total this year, though HBO continued its success with dystopian series Watchmen leading with the most Emmy nominations for any show this year in 26 categories. The newly established mobile-only streaming platform Quibi led the short form Emmy nominations this year with 10 nominations across the five short form categories, making it the most of any platform.

    (UPDATE 7/30/20) The Television Academy has officially announced that the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys will be held completely online, with host Jimmy Kimmel, the Emmy producers, and a prominent team of technicians working closely with each of the nominees to ensure the ceremony will still be streamed at the highest caliber possible for TV’s biggest night.

    The Television Academy also noted that nominees can follow the dress code “Come as you are, but make an Effort!,” noting that many of the nominees span across the globe in different time zones, with many tuning in at extremely late hours with the ceremony still being held at its normal Pacific Standard Time. An excerpt from the letter addressed to the nominees can be found below:

    “If you want to be in formal wear, we’d love that, but equally if you’re in the UK and it’s 3am, perhaps you want to be in designer pajamas and record from your bed! We want to work with you to style your moments, but want you to guide us on your levels of comfort – where you want to be, who you want to be with, what you want to wear etc.

    In the forthcoming days, Jen Proctor, our Talent Producer and her extraordinary team at Cultivated Entertainment will be reaching out to you to start talking through the details.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all the nominees for the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys and looks forward to the ABC broadcast of the virtual ceremony on September 20, 2020, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

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  • Award-Winning Actor Alec Baldwin Holds Live Q&A on Acting Technique for NYFA Students

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    On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with award-winning and celebrated actor Alec Baldwin to discuss the acting craft with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event.

    Alec Baldwin has received a Tony nomination for his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, a supporting actor nomination at the Oscars for The Cooler (2004), and he has won three Emmy awards, three Golden Globes and seven consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards for ‘Best Actor in a Comedy Series’ for his role as Jack Donaghy on NBC-TV’s 30 Rock.

    Tina Fey (Left) and Alec Baldwin (Right) pose with their SAG Awards for ‘30 Rock’

    Baldwin’s filmography also includes the critically acclaimed film The Hunt for Red October, for which NYFA’s Founder, Jerry Sherlock, was Executive Producer, as well as Glengarry Glen Ross, It’s Complicated, The Departed, Pearl Harbor, Blue Jasmine, Still Alice, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and many more.

    More recently, Baldwin has gained critical acclaim and popularity surrounding his portrayal of President Donald Trump for Saturday Night Live, joining the cast regularly for ongoing appearances as the 45th President.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Alec Baldwin (Right) for The NYFA Q&A Series

    Laiter began the Q&A by asking Baldwin about his successful career and finding his place in Hollywood. “In the beginning, you have a boyish gratitude [on set], similar to being a guest in someone’s house,” he began, “everyone on the set knows more than you, but that changes later on when you are on a film and someone says something to you and you go ‘no, I think it’s this,’ as you begin to understand what will make a scene work.”

    The conversation then switched to Baldwin’s successful career as not only a dramatic actor, but a comedic performer, where Laiter brought up Baldwin’s hilarious and well-timed character Jack Donaghy on NBC’s critically acclaimed TV series 30 Rock. “The show, to me, is one of the ultimate examples of me being the beneficiary of very good writing,” he shares. “The writing was the best I had ever seen in terms of comedy and it was natural to me.”

    Baldwin on set for Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’

    One student asked Baldwin about how he chooses the right script as an actor. Baldwin responded: “I try to decide ‘is this movie a movie I want to make or I want to see?’ Then, I look at my character. I’ve played parts where my character wasn’t the biggest role or well-served in terms of page count, but there was an opportunity to me where I could see that character having an impact on that film.” When it comes to looking at a script, Baldwin explains that it’s about the quality of storytelling and the impact of your character that matters.

    Another student asked Baldwin about what it can be like for an actor when giving a performance in a film versus acting in television series.

    Baldwin as President Donald Trump for ‘Saturday Night Live’

    “Moviemaking is intense because you have to narrow everything down to what is worthwhile and what works,” he shares. “Television allows for more time to spread your character arc or story along. There is more complexity involved because there is more time. If not in this episode then in the next…”

    To the question of whether one should try everything or stick to the one that already works, Baldwin recommended that when you are just starting out and you are young, to try everything to become the actor you can be and want to be, Baldwin reminded students that it isn’t just about finding an agent, “making it,” or getting everything “right” after studying acting: “Join a rep company. Do as many shows as you can. Do as many roles as you can off the beaten path so you can make your mistakes under the radar before you get typecast.”

    Steve Martin (Left) and Alec Baldwin (Right) host the 82nd Academy Awards

    Baldwin also provided profound advice to students when auditioning for a role. “Remember they asked you there.” He explains that it can be easy to go into an audition with a “people pleasing attitude,” but “they want what you have; they invited you to come to audition and they need you. You are a professional and they are looking for someone to play a part, and you give everything you’ve got in the audition. Once you walk into the room and realize no one is doing anybody any favors, it’s business, and you’re a part of that business, then everything is going to change for you.”

    Baldwin closed the conversation by thanking Laiter for the conversation and the students for their time, and expressed that he hoped his words were helpful to those looking at a career in acting.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank the talented Alec Baldwin for sharing his time and acting experience with NYFA students and alumni.

    To listen to the full conversation, click the video below or check it out on our YouTube channel here.

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    July 27, 2020 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 199

  • New York Film Academy Alum Mickey Fonseca’s Sells Award-Winning Film ‘Resgate’ to Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting alum, Mickey Fonseca, has struck a deal that many producers dream of with his latest film Resgate (“Redemption” in English) being acquired by streaming giant Netflix. Fonseca, who wrote, directed, and produced the film, shot on location in his home country of Mozambique.

    Fonseca was born in Mozambique and grew up with a love of film and acting. At the age of 12, he even remembers writing Steven Spielberg and expressing his interest in becoming an actor. “Amblin Entertainment replied a few months later telling me to get an agent. I didn’t know what an agent was, but I was ecstatic with the news.” Though his dreams of becoming an actor faded over the years, Fonseca continued to immerse himself in film, watching movies as often as he could.

    NYFA alum and director of ‘Resgate’ Mickey Fonseca (Far right)

    After moving to Cape Town, South Africa in his mid-twenties, Fonseca got a job as a runner for Monkey Films, where he continued to develop his love for telling stories. “I watched lots of films and read all the books I could get my hands on,” he remembers. Fonseca also gained more experience by working on film sets for big-budget films like Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Diana, starring Naomi Watts.

    In 2006, Fonseca started his own production company (Mahla Filmes), and later decided to go to New York City to attend NYFA’s 8-Week Screenwriting program. “I decided I needed to go to NYFA to get better knowledge of the craft,” he shares. “I wanted to write the best script as I possibly could and, for this, I needed ‘one-on-one’ guidance from the best instructors.”

    Still from ‘Resgate’ featuring Gil Alexandre (left) and Arlete Bombe (right)

    After years in the business, Fonseca and his team have released their most challenging project to date, Resgate, which was produced by his company Mahla Filmes and a small crowdfunding campaign. “For over six years, we shot commercials, bought most of the equipment, saved money to pay cast/crew/locations, and we could finally make the film at all costs, with no interference,” he shares.

    Resgate revolves around a man who, after four years in prison, returns to his girlfriend and child to learn about a dangerous debt taken by his late mother. “It’s the first Mozambican independent film and it did extremely well in the local cinemas (8 weeks), breaking all records,” says Fonseca. The film also went on to win two Africa Movie Academy Awards for ‘Best Production Design’ and ‘Best Screenplay,’ and was nominated in four additional categories including ‘Best Director’ (Mickey Fonseca).

    Behind the scenes in Mozambique for ‘Resgate’ (Photo Courtesy of Mickey Fonseca)

    With the film’s local success, Fonseca and his team knew they needed to get a distributor. “We pulled out all our contacts, hustled very hard and managed to get our film to the Netflix door,” he explains. “Fortunately for us, they liked it.” After Netflix acquired the film, Fonseca reveals that the agreement is more than just a business move, it is an important moment for African film. “Resgate is the first film from Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Africa on Netflix and I am positive this will pave the way for other films to be screened on the platform and hopefully create Netflix co-productions too.” He continues, “Africa is a creative bomb waiting to explode. There’s so much creativity and talent.”

    Still from Fonseca’s film ‘Resgate’

    Fonseca shares he is now in the early stages of writing a thriller on Xenophobia with a focus on African unity and hope, and another script set in southern Mozambique. “I write my own films and what inspires me to write is my city, its people, and the day-to-day stories. My films are all about people l meet, hear about and read about, and the social instabilities that lead to life-changing decisions.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA alum Mickey Fonseca on his exciting news with Netflix and encourages everyone to check out Resgate when it becomes on the streaming platform.

    Check out the Resgate film trailer below or click here.

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    July 24, 2020 • Acting • Views: 547

  • New York Film Academy Acting for Film Alum Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Stars in Apple TV+ Film ‘Greyhound’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Acting for Film conservatory program alum Manuel Garcia-Rulfo stars alongside Tom Hanks in the Apple TV+ film Greyhound. Originally slated for a theatrical release, the film was acquired by Apple TV+ in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down movie theaters across the country.

    Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Center) in ‘Greyhound’

    The film made its streaming debut on July 10, 2020 and has since received critical acclaim. Greyhound follows U.S. Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Hanks) and his Allied convoy across the Atlantic. After being pursued by German U-boats, he and his crew find themselves embroiled in what would come to be known as the longest, largest and most complex naval battle in history: The Battle of the Atlantic.

    Apple TV film poster for ‘Greyhound’

    Manuel Garcia-Rulfo stars as one of Commander Ernest Krause’s crew members named “Lopez,” who assists Hanks’ character in The Battle of the Atlantic. Also starring in the film include incredible talents Stephen Graham (This is England), Rob Morgan (Stranger Things), and Elisabeth Shue (Back to the Future franchise). Hanks, who wrote the screenplay for the film, based the script off of the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester.

    The NYFA alum has already had a buzzing career in both Mexico and the United States. As a young actor in Mexico, Garcia-Rulfo said he was offered roles in telenovelas that he decided to turn down. “You’re very hungry in the beginning. But I knew what I wanted my career to look like. I said no to a lot of things early in my career.”

    Manuel Garcia-Rulfo photo shoot (Photo Credit: FLAUNT Magazine)

    Since then, Garcia-Rulfo has starred in critically acclaimed films and blockbusters like WidowsThe Magnificent Seven, 6 Underground, and Sicario: Day of the Soldado. He will also be starring in the upcoming film Sweet Girl from Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman), expected to release late 2020 or in 2021.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Manuel Garcia-Rulfo on his latest acting role in Greyhound and the film’s success on Apple TV; NYFA looks forward to what’s next from the Acting for Film conservatory alum.

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    July 22, 2020 • Acting, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 413