David OLeary
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  • NYFA Alum Wins ‘Best Feature Film’ at Visions du Réel Competition for Her Film ‘Puntasacra’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Francesca Mazzoleni’s documentary feature length film, Puntasacra wins the ‘Sesterce d’or la Mobilière’ (Best Feature Film) at the 2020 Visions du Réel competition, held virtually from April 17 to May 2.

    ‘Puntasacra’ (Directed by Francesca Mazzoleni, courtesy of True Colours)

    Mazzoleni atteneded the 4-Week Music Video Workshop at NYFA’s New York City campus in 2017. In addition to Puntasacra, Mazzoleni has directed feature film Succede and short films 1989, L’etoile de Mer, Lo so che mi senti, Nowhere, and Il Premio.

    Puntasacra, her latest feature, is a documentary that tells the story of the inhabitants of Idroscalo di Ostia, a coastal outer district of Rome and the last portion of habitable land at the mouth of the Tiber, Punta Sacra. With half of the community’s houses destroyed by a fire in 2010, the documentary navigates the daily lives of the coast village’s inhabitants and naturally portrays the conversations between neighbors surrounding communism, familial secrets, and community altercations.

    The film was one of 14 feature-length documentaries that were selected for main competition in the prestigious Swiss festival, Visions du Réel, in Nyon (this year online). After winning the Sesterce d’or la Mobilière with a cash prize of CHF 20,000 (£16,657), top Italian sales distributor, True Colours, acquired sales rights for the film.

    Mazzoleni, who could not be there in person to accept her award since the ceremony was held online, made her own award from the items in her home and thanked her ten-person team, with whom she “shared a very complicated and wonderful adventure”. She also thanked the community of Idroscalo di Ostia who gave her the confidence to make her film. She closed her Instagram acceptance speech by telling her followers, “our journey begins today, be patient, the cinemas will reopen.”

    Francesca Mazzoleni behind the scenes of her film ‘Succede’

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Francesca Mazzoleni on the success of her latest documentary film and her recent win at Visions du Réel, and encourages everyone to check out Puntasacra when it becomes available in theaters or online.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Stars in Fox’s ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ronen Rubinstein stars in Fox’s procedural drama 9-1-1: Lone Star, created by American Horror Story creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.

    Rubinstein, who graduated from NYFA in 2013 from a 1-Year Conservatory program for Acting for Film, has also starred in Eliza Hittman’s It Felt Like Love, horror film Some Kind of Hate, and Dude starring opposite Awkwafina and Lucy Hale. Rubinstein also landed a guest star role on an episode of season three for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.

    Rubinstein along with the cast of ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

    9-1-1: Lone Star premiered on January 19, 2020 and was recently renewed for a second season after being declared a hit on the network and receiving a positive response from viewers. The series is a spinoff of 9-1-1, which takes focuses on Los Angeles first responders. In 9-1-1: Lone Star, Rubinstein stars opposite Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler, as  Tyler Kennedy “TK” Strand, an openly gay firefighter/paramedic and recovering opioid addict.

    The show mainly focuses on Owen, played by Lowe, who is the lone survivor of a Manhattan firehouse following the events of 9/11 and seeks to rebuild his station. After this occurs, he moves to Austin with his troubled firefighter son, played by Rubinstein to help out a new firehouse rebuilding from tragedy. Much like its predecessor 9-1-1, each episode focuses on a different local tragedy or crises revolving around characters in the community.

    Rubinstein on set of ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

    When asked about what it has been like working with celebrities like Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler, in an interview, Rubinstein responded, “this whole thing is a dream come true. Getting to work with legends like Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler, every time you show up on set you get to learn from [people] who’ve been doing this [acting] for years.“

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Ronen Rubinstein on the renewal of his show 9-1-1: Lone Star and looks forward to seeing what is next from the NYFA alum.

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    June 3, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 77

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts SAGindie Executive Director Darrien Gipson on the State of the Industry During Covid-19

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    The New York Film Academy recently hosted an Industry Speaker session with the Executive Director of SAGindie, Darrien Gipson. Students and Faculty from all NYFA campuses attended as Gipson addressed the state of the industry during Covid-19.  With all sectors of the industry focused on returning to work, it was a prescient discussion moderated by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman.

    Gipson spoke of the various protocols that are being proposed once production resumes. While a certain degree of uncertainty prevails, and as the industry awaits government guidelines, a consensus around various parameters is formulating.  They include reduced crew sizes, staggered work hours, “pods” of crew alternating on set, various departments working timed shifts, longer days sanctioned by the unions, strict enforcement of social distancing, personal and set/equipment sanitizing regimes, monitoring for symptoms, and isolating actors.

    NYFA Producing Chair Weisman with SAGindie’s Darrien Gipson

    On a positive note, various “silver linings” are beginning to emerge from the current environment. Smaller productions with lower budgets, like student films and web series, are going to find it easier to handle the logistics and flexibility required to move forward. There will be a great hunger for projects as a result of the freeze on production in effect since March. 

    The smaller productions that can proceed at a quicker pace than the larger, more cumbersome projects will be better positioned for distribution. Gipson cited that a smaller number of “starry” submissions to festivals like Sundance will enhance the chances of less high profile films obtaining top-tier festival launches. Streaming platforms and other distribution entities will be seeking more product than ever. These observations connected with the NYFA audience as the conversation made it more apparent that there has rarely been a better time for emerging producers, filmmakers, writers, and actors to create content for a voracious audience. 

    The New York Film Academy has a long standing relationship with SAGindie, and thanks Executive Director Darrien Robbins for her insight and generosity. SAGindie is an invaluable resource for the NYFA community, as they not only assist in navigating the various paths forward working with the Screen Actors Guild, SAGindie will also offer guidance on a host of matters from financing to festival strategies, and more.  SAGindie welcomes NYFA students who would like to reach out and learn more. 

    For more information on SAGindie and how to contact them click here.

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    June 2, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 130

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students and Recent Graduate GRADUATES ACCEPTED INTO THE ACADEMY GOLD PROGRAM

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce that ten NYFA students and recent graduates have been accepted into The Academy Gold Program’s Internship Program for the summer. Out of 25 slots, ten NYFA students or recent graduates were selected to be part of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ (AMPAS) prestigious program.

    New York Film Academy Named by Variety as a Best Film School of 2018

    Academy Gold Program official logo card

    The Academy Gold Program is a multi-tiered educational and experiential initiative that gives top film entertainment, technology, production services, and digital media companies the opportunity to recruit and educate a nationwide pool of diverse talent. The program offers interns exclusive access to Academy members, screenings, industry professionals, and educational workshops.

    Barbara Weintraub, Director of Industry Outreach and Professional Development at NYFA, invited members of the Academy Gold Program to meet with students at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus to explain best practices when applying for the Academy internship. The representatives included Niti Shah (Director, Academy Gold Talent, Development, Inclusion & Alumni Programs) and Bettina Fisher (Director of Educational Initiatives, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences).

    NYFA students with AMPAS’ Bettina Fisher

    During Shah and Fisher’s visit, they gave NYFA students a comprehensive outline of the internship program and the internship disciplines available for students to apply for, including: Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, and Sound. Each discipline is limited to five spots with the entire program only accepting a total of 25 interns.

    On May 15, 2020, after a series of interviews, the Academy notified the successful candidates for the Gold Program and extended the offer to join the Academy Gold Program in Summer 2020.

    NYFA students who were accepted into the Academy Gold Program include:

    • YUANHUA (GWENDOLYN) WANG – Sound (MFA Filmmaking, expected graduation Fall 2020)
    • CATERINA PICCARDO – Production Design (MFA Filmmaking, graduated January 2020)
    • VERONICA BADELL – Production Design (MFA Filmmaking, graduated January 2020)
    • JUNKE (COCO) LI – Production Design (MFA Filmmaking, graduated January 2020)
    • DESTINEE EASLEY – Costume Design (MFA Filmmaking, expected graduation Fall 2020)
    • GOWTHAM NAMASIVAYAM – Editing (MFA Filmmaking, graduated May 2020)
    • RODRIGO GOMEZ – Editing (1-Year Filmmaking, expected graduation Fall 2020)
    • EUNICET PAMELA RUBIO ROJAS – Cinematography (MFA Filmmaking, graduated May 2020)
    • JUAN SANCHEZ – Cinematography (BFA Filmmaking, graduated January 2020)
    • MAYUR PATANKAR – Cinematography (MFA Cinematography, expected graduation Fall 2020)

    NYFA student Mayur Patankar, who was selected for the Cinematography internship program with the Academy Gold Program, shared, “I am so excited for the future training and opportunities.” Recent graduate Juan Sanchez told NYFA that getting into the program is “wonderful news” and that the program would begin this summer via Zoom before returning to practical sessions in the fall.

    NYFA would like to congratulate its students and recent graduates who worked diligently to apply for the Academy Gold Program and looks forward to following each students’ success as they continue to pursue their careers.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum John Saponara Starts Portrait Series While Working to Make PPE Equipment for Healthcare Workers

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    From businesses to hospitals to schools to families, COVID-19 has forced people into a season of great change and uncertainty, causing people to adapt to new circumstances in the age of social distancing. For many, this has been a cause for reflection and doing their part to stay alert and distance themselves in public. For others, like NYFA Documentary alum John Saponara, this has been a time of giving back to the community and utilizing creativity to bring awareness and hope to others. 

    John Saponara grew up in Yonkers, New York, a suburb just outside of New York City and recalls, “from as young as I can remember I wanted to be a photographer.” His photos have since appeared on book covers both nationally and internationally, including the New York Times bestseller Eat Pray Love. He also founded the crowd-sourced project, Picture Black Friday, and his commercial clients include: Sony, Intel, HP, Oprah, and New York Magazine, just to name a few.

    A volunteer packing face shields in Bednark Studio (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Saponara has been working at Bednark Studio and volunteering his time with other organizations, while also documenting workers and volunteers who continue to make the community safer by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional supplies for individuals and families in the age of COVID-19. 

    Bednark Studio, a full service fabrication company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has been Saponara’s source of inspiration for documenting what is happening behind the scenes. “It’s there [Bednark Studio] that my portrait project formed,” he says. The portrait series follows the workers and volunteers who are working day and night to create PPE like face shields for medical workers or dividers for Uber/Lyft drivers.

    Portrait of a volunteer in Bednark Studio (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    “In the portraits, I’m there as a worker, so I do them when I can in my breaks or in a spare moment,” says Saponara. “In both cases, I don’t want to interfere; just be the proverbial fly on the wall.” The photographs are symbols of those who are working behind the scenes in NYC and all over the world, who are actively volunteering their time or working additional hours to provide PPE equipment or additional, essential supplies for others.

    Masks for Docs volunteer headed to deliver PPE (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Another group Saponara has been volunteering with has been Masks for Docs, formed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “They connect PPE with doctors and medical staff that need it,”  he explains. “Motorcyclists help get where it [the supplies] needs to go.” The grassroots organization is composed of volunteers from the tech, business, arts, and members of non-profit communities, who have banded together to make a difference for healthcare workers not only in New York City, but all over the world.

    A volunteer for Brooklyn Mutual Aid buying supplies (Photo courtesy of John Saponara)

    Saponara also mentions Bushwick Ayuda Mutua, who help “get food on the table of the neediest families in Brooklyn.” In just one weekend alone, Saponara mentions that he and other volunteers were able to feed 200 people in need. “We collect donations of food and money and use those collections to buy groceries that we then deliver to families.”

    Saponara says the groups that he has been able to work with and document are “a combination of the private sectors innovation and the power of people and community to get things done to bring about change effectively and efficiently.”

    New York FIlm Academy thanks alum John Saponara for his service to the community and for sharing his portrait series, and encourages anyone who is interested in learning more about each organization to click the links above for more information on how to get involved.

    To view more images from Saponara’s portrait series and his other works, click here.

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    May 29, 2020 • Alumni Events, Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 430

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alumni Direct Music Videos in Collaboration with Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) filmmaking alumni Gabriele Fabbro and Jonathan Samukange were given the opportunity to collaborate with Josh Homme’s super group, the Desert Sessions, to create two diverse and unique music videos for two of the tracks off the Desert Sessions’ latest album, Vols. 11 & 12.

    The Desert Sessions is a musical supergroup formed by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, who has been hosting his “Desert Sessions” retreats since 1997. Each session involves a different group of well-known musicians mixed with unknown talent, who come together in the desert to simply play music and experiment with new techniques and melodies.

    Official photo courtesy of the Desert Sessions musical collective

    “It is a really creative project that Jonathan Samukange and I have had the pleasure to be involved in,” says Italian filmmaker and NYFA alum Gabriele Fabbro. “Matador records and Josh Homme reached out to NYFA looking for filmmakers to shoot music videos for their latest album Vols. 11 & 12. We had a great first meeting with Josh [Homme], where he explained the nature of the sessions.” After pitching their ideas for their videos, Fabbro and Samukange were selected by Homme and given a production budget to create two videos for the Desert Sessions.

    Still from “If You Run” (Directed by Gabriele Fabbro)

    Fabbro’s video, “If You Run,” follows a young woman who witnesses something terrifying in the woods and tries to escape. The director’s inspiration for the video was taken from deadly attacks on European journalists. “I used to read a lot of news about murders,” says Fabbro. “I remember one [story] in particular that happened in a cornfield. That article came to mind while hearing ‘If You Run’.”

    Filmmaker and NYFA alum Gabriele Fabbro

    “I wanted to play with tension,” says Fabbro. “I wanted a video that would keep the audience at the edge of their seat.” To portray this, Fabbro made sure that every aspect of the video embodied a sense of fear and unease for the viewer “Every tool in the video, from the shakiness of the handheld shots to the distorted sound of the radio, serves to exaggerate this fear.”

    The second video created for Desert Sessions was for the song “Move Together,” directed by NYFA Filmmaking alum Jonathan Samukange, who is also known as “Director O.” His video, filmed in his home country of Zimbabwe, is a reimagining of the story of Adam and Eve. The video enlisted residents of an entire village and utilized the region’s stunning natural landscape to create “a time capsule” and hallucinatory trip through time.

    “Move Together” (Directed by Jonathan Samukange)

    Before being involved with the project, Samukange says he wasn’t planning on staying in the U.S because his vision is to “change the face of cinema in Africa and bring new opportunities.” When he initially pitched his vision for the video, he knew it could only be filmed in his home country of Zimbabwe. “It was a huge risk, but I believed in my heart that the people in Africa have a lot to offer and that’s what I was bringing to the table.”

    Filmmaker and NYFA alum Jonathan Samukange

    When asked about his vision for the video, Samukange stated, “the theme of love and working together [in the lyrics] as well as the conflict that comes with such connections took me back to the time of Adam and Eve.” He explained that their love “created conflict in their lives and they still stayed together through thick and thin.” He wanted his audience to also feel the attraction of opposites and conflict by combining two opposite elements for the video. “I immediately fell in love with the idea of fusing rock and Afro House dance moves. In my opinion, when cultures clash, new relationships and ideas form.”

     

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate both Gabriele Fabbro and Jonathan Samukange on the release of their videos for Desert Sessions and looks forward to seeing what both alums will come out with next. NYFA also encourages everyone to check out Desert Sessions Volumes 11 & 12, out now, on Matador Records.

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    May 28, 2020 • Alumni Events, Filmmaking • Views: 168

  • Film From New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum, ‘Love is War’, Available to Stream on Netflix

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    Multi-award winning actress, screenwriter, director, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Digital Editing alum, Omoni Oboli, directs and stars in Nigerian drama Love is War. The film, originally released on September 27, 2019, nationwide in Nigeria, is now available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.

    Omoni Oboli on set for ‘Love is War’

    In addition to Love is War, Oboli has directed Being Mrs Elliott, The First Lady, Wives on Strike, and Okafor’s Law. The Nigerian actress has also received accolades including the ‘Big Screen Actress of the Year’ award at the ELOY Awards for her film Being Mrs. Elliott, and the ‘Personality of the Year’ by Sun Nollywood in 2015.

    For Love is War, Oboli pull double duty as both director and actress, starring in the lead role as Hankuri Phillips, a Minister in her government who is elected to be her party’s candidate in an upcoming election for Governor. Her husband, Dimeji Phillips, is a medical doctor, who is supportive of Hankuri until a turn of events has him running for the same seat in office as his wife. What follows next is a string of events that test the limits of two people at political odds and ultimately their marriage.

    Behind the scenes for ‘Love is War’

    The film highlights themes of social structure, nationality, and gender equality. With the release of Love is War and her past films, Oboli’s talent and dedication to creating cinema on the African continent has catapulted her to success in one of the fastest growing entertainment scenes in the world, Nigeria’s “Nollywood.”

    Still from ‘Love is War’

    New York Film Academy congratulates Oboli on the success of her film Love is War and encourages everyone to check out the Nollywood drama on Netflix.

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    May 26, 2020 • Alumni Events, Filmmaking • Views: 214

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum Natasha Thahane Stars in Netflix Original Series ‘Blood and Water’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum, Natasha Thahane, stars in her biggest role to date as Wendy Dlamini, an opinionated, “woke” high school student, in the Netflix teen drama Blood and Water. The South African drama series was released on May 20, 2020 and is available to stream as part of Netflix’s “Originals” lineup.

    New York Film Academy Named by Variety as a Best Film School of 2018

    Netflix poster for ‘Blood and Water’

    Thahane was born and raised in South Africa and graduated in 2018 from NYFA’s New York City campus after completing her 1-Year Conservatory program in Acting for Film. She has appeared in television series such as Skeem Saam, The Queen, and Lockdown, and serves as a brand ambassador for Garnier Fructis.

     

    New York Film Academy Named by Variety as a Best Film School of 2018

    NYFA alum Natasha Thahane as Wendy Dlamini in Netflix’s ‘Blood and Water’

    The Netflix series takes place in South Africa and centers around teenager Puleng Khumalo, who transfers to the prestigious Parkhurst College after suspecting that one of the students there is actually her long lost sister, who was abducted at birth. In addition to Thahane, the series boasts a leading female cast including fresh faces Ama Qamata, Khosi Ngema, Cingy Mahlangu, and Gail Mabalane. The series is also directed by South African female director Nosipho Dumisa, who previously directed the critically acclaimed film Number 37.

    New York Film Academy Named by Variety as a Best Film School of 2018

    Natasha Thahane while doing promotion for ‘Blood and Water’

    Blood and Water is six episodes long and is being hailed as “the next Gossip Girl” by Glamour Magazine, so there is already hope for a season two.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Natasha Thahane on her new starring role and encourages everyone to check out Blood and War, now available to stream on Netflix.

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    May 21, 2020 • Acting, Alumni Events • Views: 379

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Golden Glove Nominated Actress Beanie Feldstein

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    On Monday, May 11, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the pleasure of hosting a live video Q&A with Golden Globe American actress Beanie Feldstein on the occasion of the national release of her latest film How to Build a Girl, in which she has a starring role. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event.

    Beanie Feldstein grew up with a love of theatre and the arts, which led her to pursue musical theatre and eventually a career in acting. “I was obsessed with musicals,” she tells Laiter. “It was all I ever wanted to do [to perform]. I did community theatre my whole upbringing.” After her senior year of college studying Sociology, Feldstein decided to begin auditioning for acting roles and eventually landed her first speaking role on Orange is the New Black in 2015 followed by Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Female Brain, and the HBO pilot for The Devil You Know; launching Felstein’s screen actor career.

    Tova Laiter & Beanie Feldstein discuss Feldstein’s prep for her latest film ‘How to Build a Girl’

    Feldstein’s SAG nominated performance in Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-worthy Lady Bird that Feldstein cemented her rise to prominence. That same year, she starred as Minnie Fay in the Broadway revival of Hello Dolly! alongside Feldstein’s hero and Broadway legend, Bette Midler. The musical went on to receive a Tony Award for “Best Revival of a Musical” and Feldstein received critical acclaim for her performance on the live stage.

    Feldstein was then cast in the highly anticipated film Booksmart, which served as actress Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut and Feldstein’s first role with top billing. The role earned her a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” and the film went on to win the 2020 Independent Spirit Award for “Best First Feature.”

    Beanie Feldstein as Johanna Morrigan in ‘How to Build a Girl’

    Following a screening of the film’s trailer, Laiter opened up the Q&A by commenting on how Feldstein was able to nail her British accent and asked her how she first came to be involved with the production.

    Feldstein read the script for the film while she was still performing onstage for Hello Dolly!. As she read the script, Feldstein recalls that she couldn’t help but feel that she knew this character. “She loves the world, she loves to write, she really is a giving and imaginative spirit, and I just knew her even though I grew up in Los Angeles and was born in the ‘90s. Caitlin’s writing is so deeply felt and it sparkles.” When Feldstein called her agent back, she remembers telling him, “I’ve never been more scared of anything in my life, ever, but I HAVE to try.”

    After co-starring with Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart, Feldstein remembers being really nervous and excited all at once for landing the starring role and leading the entire cast for How to Build a Girl. “I thought, ‘What do I want the crew and the cast and Coky [Giedroyc] to remember me by?’ Then I remembered I’d rather be kind than good in a scene.”

    Saorise Ronan (left) and Beanie Feldstein (right) in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Ladybird’

    A filmmaking student then asked Feldstein how directors can better work with their actors when on set, to which Feldstein responded, “the greatest gift all of the beautiful and incredible directors that I have worked with have given me is a feeling of stability and calm.” Feldstein then recalled her time working with Olivia Wilde on Booksmart and how Wilde would say, “sets are like construction sites.”

    “Stay very calm and clued into what they [your actors] are doing and what they are feeling because there is so much beautiful chaos on a set, especially when you are in a time crunch,” Feldstein replied. “The greatest gift you can give is to just say ‘it’s you and me, I’ve got this, and I’m here for you’.”

    Feldstein on set during the filming of ‘Booksmart’ with co-star Kaitlyn Dever

    Feldstein then concluded that, overall, no matter what role you play on a film set, take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, and if you lose a job, put yourself in another person’s shoes. “You might be perfectly right for something, but if not, it’s the other girl or guy’s best day of their lives. If you don’t get something, it’s the best day of another person’s life.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank the gracious Beanie Feldstein for sharing her time and expertise with the students and encourages everyone to watch her latest starring role in How to Build a Girlnow available to stream, and to keep an eye out for Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky in Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story: Impeachment, which has yet to start production.

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    May 18, 2020 • Guest Speakers • Views: 138

  • NYFA Instructor & Alum, Arnold Song, Builds Demo for Houdini Hive Worldwide Presentation

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    On Monday, May 18, 2020, SideFX will host their annual Houdini Hive Worldwide presentation that explores the various techniques used by top studios and artists to meet a wide variety of studio production needs. NYFA instructor & alum, Arnold Song, who works at SideFX, is part of the team testing and building the demos for the presentation.

    Houdini, the premiere procedural animation software by SideFX, is a universally adopted software across animation studio giants like Dreamworks, Disney, and Pixar. (In fact, it is one of the few “off the shelf” pieces of software that Pixar uses).

    NYFA instructor and alum Arnold Song

    NYFA had the opportunity to speak to Song about his work for the presentation, the future of Animation and VFX, and any advice he has for students interested in pursuing a path in this industry.

    When asked about his presentation for the event, Song commented that it will be centered on how things can be done in a new system in Houdini (USD Workflow), called Solaris. USD stands for Universal Scene Description and it allows 3D data to be interchanged among different suites of digital creation applications. The Solaris presentation, Song says, will allow animators and VFX artists to learn “how to bring in USD assets, how to select different models from the one asset set, how you can add effects on the USD asset, and, finally, how to use the new render engine, Karma, to render it.”

    Houdini (USD) Workflow

    “For me, everything is new,” says Song. “I didn’t know anything about USD at the beginning, and Solaris is still under development. Putting two completely new things together, and creating a good result [with his team] is the most fun part.”

    Rendered image using Houdini software

    When asked what advice Song has for students who want to get into effects animation, Song shared this response:

    “Effects animation is unlike other departments like modeling, animation, and lighting. Making an effect is slow. You change some values, and you wait anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours,” he begins. “There is no correct way to make something, which means there could be 100+ ways to make a similar effect. This increases the opportunity to make a totally unique effect but, at the same time, it is really hard to get to know how exactly things should work. So, be patient and just keep practicing.”

    USD could become a replacement for the now standard python language. To see Houdini accepting it so enthusiastically means that it is here to stay and will most likely become the standard of the future. It seems that SideFX, and NYFA alum and instructor Arnold Song, are signaling that USD will become the programming language of the future for Animation and VFX.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) would like to congratulate NYFA alum and instructor Arnold song on his upcoming presentation for Houdini Hive Worldwide and would like to thank him for sharing more about his work on Polaris and his advice to future students.

    For more information on the 3D & VFX Animation School at NYFA, check out our website here. 

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    May 15, 2020 • 3D Animation, Alumni Events, Faculty Highlights • Views: 486