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  • New York Film Academy Earns Tony Nominations for 74th Annual Tony Awards

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    In a season cut short by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Tony Awards declare the show must go on by celebrating the productions that ran before the February 19, 2020 cut-off to be considered for the 74th Annual Tony Awards.

    The nominations were revealed on October 15, 2020 by Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart, who shared the nominations via video that honored Broadway shows and artists.

    ‘Jagged Little Pill’ (Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy)

    Leading the pack of nominations is the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill with 15 nominations, earning at least one nomination in every eligible category. The heavily-nominated production was produced by NYFA Musical Theatre alumni Chase Thomas and Yael Silver.

    Moulin Rouge! earned 14 nominations, including Aaron Tveit earning the only Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical nomination; making him an automatic winner of the award if 60 percent of the total ballots cast will grant an award to that category.

    Caption: ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

    A Christmas Carol, also produced by NYFA alum Chase Thomas, received nods for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Costume Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Play, and Best Sound Design of a Play.

    At this time, The American Broadway Wing and The American Theatre Wing have not officially announced when the award ceremony, being held virtually, will take place.

    Congratulations to NYFA alum Yael Silver and Chase Thomas on their respective shows’ nominations! To watch the full list of nominations, check out the full video below:

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    October 16, 2020 • Entertainment News, Musical Theatre, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 179

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Pavitra Chalam Co-Directs ‘Rooting for Roona’ – Now Streaming on Netflix

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    Now available to stream on Netflix: Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam co-directs the new, inspirational documentary Rooting For Roona about a child named Roona with an advanced form of hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the brain resulting in an enlarged head and can also cause brain damage.

    Roona quickly becomes known all over the world after images of her go viral. Not long after, Roona is admitted to one of India’s premier private hospitals in the nation in New Delhi to undergo surgery for her condition. In the documentary, Chalam and co-director Akshay Shankar chart the incredible story of Roona and her family as the young child goes through a life-altering surgery to combat her birth defect.

    Documentary film poster for ‘Rooting For Roona’ (Netflix)

    Chalam and Shankar aim to create public awareness around the issue of congenital healthcare and bring birth defects to the forefront of the public conversation. Chalam has previously directed documentary shorts Anamika: Her Glorious Past, Indelible, and Maanasi – ‘of Sound Mind.’

    NYFA Alum Pavitra Chalam with Roona

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam on her latest directorial achievement and encourages everyone to check out the new documentary now streaming on Netflix.

    Watch the full trailer for the new documentary below or click here.

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    October 15, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 256

  • NYFA Photography Alum & Portrait and Fashion Photographer Arif Minhaz on His Award-Winning Career and Photo Inspiration

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    It’s no secret that NYFA alum and India native Arif Minhaz knows how to take a stunning portrait. Don’t believe us? See his stunning work for yourself.

    The Photography alum is also a decorated photographer, having won four WPE International awards for his fine art portraiture and fashion work, which also landed Minhaz on their list of Distinguished Photographers.

    NYFA Photography alum Arif Minhaz

    Minhaz has also won two WPPI awards, received honorable mentions at the Monochrome International Awards (2019), and has had his work exhibited at multiple galleries in New York, London and Paris. “This was only possible because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone,” shared Minhaz. “I urge every aspiring photographer to do the same.”

    One of the four awards won by Minhaz was for one of my high key street fashion photographs shot on the streets of Soho, New York, with the other three awarded for Minhaz’s portrait series “Maanavatvam.”

    Maanavatvam derives from the Indian language of Telugu and translates as ‘Humanity’,” shared Minhaz. “This body of work dives into the true essence of what Maanavatvam stands for: beings capable of inclusive emotional intelligence. It celebrates the diversity we encounter and our understanding and acceptance of the many differences in appearances, behaviors and traits that make all people human.”

    Minhaz came to NYFA in 2019 to study in the 1-Year Conservatory Program. “It was a dream come true and I am forever grateful to my aunt, mom and grandma for gifting me this opportunity of learning from photographers I’ve idolized, at one of the top photography schools in the world,” shared Minhaz. 

    The acclaimed photographer credits NYFA as a key factor to helping him evolve as a photographer. “I would like to thank each and every instructor at NYFA for helping me push my boundaries, refine my photographic style, hone my skills both technically and artistically and put them all together to serve my vision.” The NYFA alum also has this to share with any incoming NYFA students: “Never stop investing time in yourself, be persistent and stay committed.”

    The photo alum continues to be based out of New York City and has shared that he is inspired by “monochromatic dramatism” for his projects and incorporates contemporary elements of style.

    Minhaz has also explored personal projects that address societal issues “that break stereotypes” by incorporating his personal style of “dramatic portraiture“ into his work to give the illusion of a contemporary painting.  

    “I am inspired by the people I surround myself with, their characteristics and everything else in between,” explained Minhaz. “I take a lot of inspiration from paintings, my country (India) and its culture, my past experiences, and things that I have come across in my life everyday.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA alum Arif Minhaz on his award-winning career and looks forward to seeing what is next from the talented alum.

    Check out Arif Minhaz’s website | Follow him on Instagram

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    October 14, 2020 • International Diversity, Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 988

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

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

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

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

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

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

    NYFA screenwriting alum Miguel Ángel Parra

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

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

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

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

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

    Miguel Ángel Parra on set for ‘The Eternal Angels’

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

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    October 7, 2020 • Film Festivals, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 550

  • A Conversation With NYFA Alum Jeffrey Lay on What It’s Like to Create a Video Game Funded by a Kickstarter Campaign And The Exciting World of ‘TitanReach’

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    I had the pleasure of teaching Jeffrey Lay (BFA in Game Design) in several Game Design classes at the New York Film Academy here in Los Angeles. When he graduated, I had heard he got a job as a level designer at Square Root Studios. I recently found out that Square Root Studios had a new game on Kickstarter, so I contacted Jeffrey to find out more about it.

    Scott Rogers (SR): Hey Jeffrey! Congratulations on launching TitanReach on Kickstarter! How did you join Square Root Studios?

    Jeffrey Lay (JL): Hi Scott! Thank you very much. Funny story, I was in the middle of working on my own project, which was also heavily inspired by RuneScape, however it formed into a more idle-passive (mobile) version due to my limited coding experience. After a few weeks working on it, I saw a Discord post about the game and joined these two guys from Australia, both experienced programmers, and thought the idea was perfect. Now we’re now at about five to six developers. 

    SR: What can you tell me about TitanReach?

    JL: TitanReach is an old school type MMORPG (an online role-playing video game) that focuses on skilling systems and action combat in a massive fantasy open-world with unique quests and a warm social experience! The game is heavily inspired by RuneScape, which had a very warm and calm feeling for it’s skilling system, along with great music, and was a “happy place” you could go to; which we’re combining with the nice warm environment. 

    SR: I think we all could use a “happy place” these days! What makes TitanReach different from all of those other MMORPGs that have come out in the past?

    JL: The biggest adjustment for us is that we’re using action combat, which will be the contrast to it’s skilling system.  

    SR: What are your job responsibilities at Square Root Studios?

    JL: While I’ve been part of TitanReach, I’ve focused on:

    • Level Design: Concepting out areas including the level design of Glimmermoore, the tutorial village, which is seen in the Demo.
    • Game Design: Coming up with the game world & environmental design, content design such as the Slayer Skill with all its details, skilling bosses, mini-games, along with combat design, economy and other various content coming down the line. 
    • Project Management: Throughout the earlier months, this included checking developers are doing their tasks and prioritizing what needs to be done. This also includes finding other issues that need to be addressed although we have someone else who has since filled this position, though I still do some of it.
    • Marketing: I worked a lot on creating the Kickstarter campaign, including the written part of the Kickstarter. I’m also in charge of reaching out to various blogs, websites and content creators to gain exposure.     

    SR: It sounds like they keep you pretty busy! Why should someone back the TitanReach Kickstarter?

    JL: We are being as open to the community as we can be in terms of our development. 

    We’ve released a free demo for anyone to play to see the exact stage we are in, which comes with its bugs and issues (ignore the quest). That demo is continually being patched each week for the community to see how fast we can turn around bugs and add some rough content in a week’s time for people to play around with. 

    With more time, these things can then be cleaned and polished. By backing us it will guarantee the cost of us continuing working on the project in order for us to deliver a polished, nice game. Having gotten this far with a penny, we’ll be able to focus full-time on the project. 

    The biggest benefit for backing us right now is that our Alpha/Beta is unlike most other companies (being 3-10 days) will be throughout the months of the game’s development stage (meaning months of playtime throughout those stages), although a player’s progress will be wiped at game launch, as we don’t want any unbalanced values (economic-abuse) to be transferred over to the official launch like what has happened with the dual universe beta to launch.

    SR: That sounds like a good idea. Too many games have had issues with that in the past. What are some of the issues you find in games nowadays? 

    JL: An issue we see in games nowadays is that they are overwhelmed with Microtransactions (MTX) that bring an unfair advantage to many other users, although it’s understandable why they do it. We want to remain free from MTX, which gives a player any unfair advantage such as gold/xp rates or other unfair benefits. We try to level out the field and give everyone the same chance!   

    SR: That sounds really fair! I think your players will really appreciate that. So, where can we find out more about TitanReach online?

    JL: Our Kickstarter has a lot more information along with our other social media! Feel free to join our Discord of over 12,500 Members and check out our website here!

    SR: Thanks Jeffrey and good luck with the game!

    JL: Thank you!

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Game Design alum Jeffrey Lay on his new game TitanReach and wishes the Jeffrey all the best on the kickstarter campaign.

    For more information on NYFA’s Game Design programs, click here. For more information about about TitanReach, you can reach out to: press@titanreach.com or support@titanreach.com; or check out their social media pages below:

    Facebook |Reddit |YouTube
    Twitch |Twitter |Instagram

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    October 5, 2020 • Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 525

  • NYFA Welcomes Filmmaking Alum and Director Antonio Campos for ‘The Q&A-List Series’

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    On September 29, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with writer/director and NYFA Filmmaking alum Antonio Campos to discuss his latest hit movie on Netflix’s The Devil All The Time with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Antonio Campos’ other notable feature directing credits include the Sundance sensations Christine, starring Rebecca Hall, and Simon Killer, starring Brady Corbet. His debut feature Afterschool premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Caméra d’Or and Un Certain Regard awards. In television, he directed the pilot of the USA Emmy-nominated series The Sinner and served as an Executive Producer for the first season of the anthology series. He has other credits both in Film and TV as producer.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Antonio Campos (Right) for the NYFA Q&A-List Series

    Laiter opened the discussion with the NYFA alum by asking him about how he first got into filmmaking “I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker for a long time and it really started at New York Film Academy,” remembered Campos. He shared a humorous account of how he was too young (13!) to take classes so he posed as a 16 year old so he could take a 6-Week Filmmaking course at NYFA.

    “For six weeks I was living this other reality and my parents were comfortable with me staying up late to edit,” he joked. “My first short film I did at NYFA called Puberty and I remember this moment where I was so nervous to watch the film with an audience that I stayed in the projection room, and I didn’t know how people were reacting. Afterwards, I saw my father crying because he was so proud and it was validation and support that I could feel, so it’s one of the most important moments for me as a filmmaker.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) and Rebecca Hall at ‘Christine’ screening (Photo Credit: Variety)

    Campos then rooted himself in the indie film world, solidifying himself with hits like Martha Marcy May Marlene, which he produced, along with Afterschool and Christine, which he directed. “I made Christine and, in a lot of ways, it led me to getting The Sinner. That became a success and changed the perception of me as someone who can make things work beyond the art house. That’s just patience and letting things organically happen.” To the question of what contributed the most to the success of the movie, he attributed it to the fact that he always takes his time with the script, even if everyone else is impatient. That’s why it takes him four years between movies but ultimately, they get the response he intended them to have.

    Laiter then asked Campos to share more on the making of his hit film The Devil All The Time, which Campos adapted from the original novel and co-wrote with his brother. “The characters felt familiar, but also specific in how he [the author] was rendering the characters and getting into their heads to go to these places with awful people,” revealed Campos.

    Antonio Campos shooting ‘The Devil All The Time’ (Photo Credit: Netflix)

    “It’s an interesting movie to have gotten the wide reception it has. It’s a very disruptive film emotionally. When I talk about the movie, it should feel like you are breathless for two and a half hours until you get in the car with Arvin and then you can catch your breath,” explained Campos.

    With The Devil All The Time boasting a star-studded cast with the likes of Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgård, and more, one audience member asked Campos how he selects actors for his projects. “I like actors that take big swings and make strong choices, along with actors with distinct faces,” he replied. “I ask myself, ‘how do I feel when I meet them,’ because I will be spending a lot of time with them.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) with Robert Pattinson (Right) on set for ‘The Devil All The Time’ (Photo Credit: Netflix)

    Campos also reminded the directors in the audience to “always make your actors feel seen and heard” and reminded the actors in the audience to communicate with other actors on what they need and that a good actor “likes to be around other actors and feed off that energy.”

    With a stacked cast of celebrity actors in his own film, Campos shared that, regardless of star power, his film is, ultimately, character-driven and was “calibrated between people who were more well-known with other character actors or people you may have never seen before.” When it came to casting his film, he shared that he “knew that this film was very different for how we were approaching characters,” and it required the balance of both known and unknown performers, all of whom shine in this ensemble film.

    In one of the last questions of the night, one student asked for tips on how NYFA students can make the jump from student to a seasoned professional in the industry. Campos had this to share with the audience:

    “Everyone’s career is different and times out differently. Always expect that things may take longer than you expect, but keep your network of friends and collaborators close. In my case, it was about being open to getting involved with other filmmakers and their processes to make their movies. Keep making short films before you make your feature. Always try and be working. Short films are such a safe place to make mistakes and learn. Put yourself out there and submit to every film festival and embrace the networking aspect of being a filmmaker. You can be the most talented filmmaker in the world, but if you cannot convey your film into concrete terms, people will not be able to understand your vision.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) with the cast of his film ‘Afterschool’ at NYFF (Photo Credit: Godlis)

    As for what’s next for Campos, the writer-director reveals that he is adapting a comedy piece, as well as a new drama series starring Hollywood heavyweight Harrison Ford. “It’s called The Staircase, based on the documentary on novelist Michael Peterson,” he shared. “I’ve been working on it in some capacity for ten years and it never quite worked as a feature, so now it is going to be a series and it’s set up with HBO Max.”

    Campos closed the conversation by thanking Laiter for the enjoyable discussion and wished NYFA’s next generation of filmmakers the best of luck for their future projects.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank director and NYFA alum Antonio Campos for sharing his time and filmmaking experience with NYFA students and alumni, and looks forward to his upcoming projects including The Staircase.

    To watch Campos’ recent film, The Devil All The Time, the film is available to stream here on Netflix.

    To hear the full conversation, click the video below our watch on our YouTube channel here.

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    October 1, 2020 • Acting • Views: 383

  • NYFA Alum Francesca Scorsese Stars in HBO’s ‘We Are Who We Are’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Francesca Scorsese breaks out in her first-ever TV series as Britney in Luca Guadagnino’s new miniseries We Are Who We Are for HBO.

    We Are Who We Are marks Guadagnino’s first TV show after directing critically acclaimed films Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria. The series is a coming-of-age story set at an army base in Italy and follows the exhilaration and pitfalls of becoming a teenager. The series premiered on September 14, 2020 on HBO and also features Jack Dylan Grazer, Chloë Sevigny, Alice Braga, and Scott Mescudi (a.k.a Kid Cudi).

    NYFA Alum Francesca Scorsese in ‘We Are Who We Are’ (Photo Credit: HBO)

    Scorsese studied at NYFA’s New York City campus from 2012-2014 in NYFA’s Filmmaking Camps for Kids and TeensWe Are Who We Are is Scorsese’s first TV project, having also starred in Wolf at The Door and landing smaller roles in projects helmed by her father, famed director Martin Scorsese, which include: Boardwalk Empire, Hugo, and The Aviator.

    Scorsese in ‘We Are Who We Are’ (Photo Credit: Alessio Bolzoni/HBO)

    NYFA would like to congratulate alum Francesca Scorsese on her breakout role as Britney in the new miniseries We Are Who We Are, now appearing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.

    Watch the full trailer for Luca Guadagnino’s We Are Who We Are below or click here.

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    September 30, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Summer Camps • Views: 378

  • NYFA Presents: The Rock The Vote Rally 2020

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    A rousing group of New York Film Academy students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses (New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach) participated in a Rock the Vote Virtual Rally yesterday. The Rally included special guest, Tony-nominated actor Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s RENT, Les Misérables, The Rocky Horror Show ), who shared stories of her immigrant family background, becoming a U.S citizen, and the imperative to vote. 

    NYFA Producing alum Lisa Cortes (producer of the Academy Award-winning Precious, recent Emmy Award-winner for The Apollo, and producer/co-director of the just-released Stacey Abrams documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy) spoke of the importance of voting in light of the long history of voter suppression in the U.S. In the making of All In: The Fight For Democracy during the COVID pandemic, Cortes talked about how her NYFA Producing education proved so valuable in pulling together the project during such challenging times. Attendees were treated to a special viewing of the All In trailer and a special musical clip of Janelle Monae performing the closing title song from the film. 

    Also joining via specially recorded video clips was Nikki Renée Daniels from “Hamilton” and Shoshana Bean from “Wicked”,  A special “Get Out The Vote” tribute by Lin Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton capped the Rally. 

    The event was co-produced by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Chair of the Musical Theatre Department, Kristy Cates. 

    “Our sincerest hope was not only to invigorate the NYFA community to become excited about and committed to voting, but to inspire everyone in attendance to reach out to their circles and do the same.” – Kristy Cates

    NYFA’s Rock The Vote efforts include a Zoom room every Tuesday from 1 p.m. ET – 4 p.m. ET that offers voter registration and mail-in ballot assistance for NYFA students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses. Please stop in and check your registration, apply for absentee ballots, etc. Further information is available on the NYFA Voter Resources page.

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  • NYFA Los Angeles Cinematography Students Adapt to New Hybrid Model in Creative Stage Lighting Workshop

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    As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, New York Film Academy continues to show how its adapting to delivering an applied arts education. The Cinematography department on the Los Angeles campus has taken an updated approach to the “Stage Lighting Workshop” course using practical components integrated with remote instruction.

    Production design instructor Francis Pezza created a set for a modern urban apartment to be built on Stage 5 at TBS Studios (former home of NBC), down the hall from the famous soundstage where Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show.

    The apartment design features a spacious floor plan that incorporates a living room, kitchen, and bedroom. The layout allows students a great degree of flexibility in designing shots and creating a variety of lighting schemes. Additionally, the set features a large window that looks out onto a 50-foot translight backing of the New York City skyline. The backing can be lit for either day or night, and allows the Cinematography students to incorporate a greater sense of depth and dimension in their photography.

    Following the set build, department chair Anthony Richmond ASC, BSC and Cinematography instructor Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC began their workshops with the MFA and One-Year Cinematography students. Each student is instructed to choose a reference image, which will first be analyzed by the class, and then used as inspiration in creating a new shot and lighting setup.

    The instructors and the students worked remotely, relaying their instructions to a group of TA’s on set, who followed the students’ directions, placing and shaping the lights as instructed, and executing the cinematographer’s vision for the shot. The students were encouraged to incorporate camera movement into their visual design, utilizing the available space to best effect.

    Throughout the workshop, the students learned new techniques for lighting, shot design, and moving the camera. This hybrid model of remote instruction with practical elements proved successful in delivering the goals of the workshop.

    Reflecting on the class, Richmond said:

    “I was pleased with the success of this workshop. Working remotely proved very effective. I was with the students on Zoom, where we could all see each other, and the image from the Red camera as the students lit the set. We had additional cameras showing us what was happening on set, including a bird’s eye view of the entire stage. The crew worked well together, and the students were able to accomplish many unique shots.”

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  • NYFA BFA Producing Alum Thandiwe Mlauli Founds South Africa’s First Woman-Led Animation Studio

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    BFA Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli has announced an upcoming project called SOLA. It will be South Africa’s first independently produced and women-led afro-animation, with Mlauli acting as producer, director and showrunner through her animation company Studio Yezi.

    The South African native, who had been told before that there was no audience for afro-anime, decided to take matters into her own hands. “I knew that [not having an audience] was not true. I had friends both Black and Brown, who were interested in seeing representation in animation,” she shared. “I decided to arm myself with the knowledge I would need to make this dream happen and Studio Yezi is the fruit of this decision.”

    Founded in 2019 in Johannesburg, Studio Yezi (short for/inspired by “inkanyezi,” which means “star” in Zulu) aims to create economic opportunities for Black and Brown people in the animation industry, as well as creating accurate representation on screen.

    Studio Yezi, founded by NYFA Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli

    Studio Yezi has recently launched the campaign #MakeSolaHappen, a crowdfunding initiative to develop SOLA, a story about a magical young girl who awakens in a world where magic is considered dangerous. Set in 22nd century South Africa, the film would also reimagine a world where the country would have been colonized by the Spanish instead of the British. The short film is based on the TV series that Studio Yezi is also developing.

    Founder and CEO of Yezi Studios & NYFA producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli

    “We’re crowdfunding to help us get to the finish line,” explained Mlauli. “We’ve gathered a team of really dope creatives who can definitely bring a product worth talking about. If anybody is interested in supporting us, or becoming a producer, please visit our crowdfunding campaign.

    The film, still in development, is a project that Mlauli hopes will “inspire other young artists to invest in their dreams and pursue them, despite whatever resistance they experience.” The studio CEO also noted how this is a project where more people can recognize Africa for its talents and the people. “We want to create a hub where people refer to us as much as they refer to other places in the world.”

    For other creatives, Mlauli shares that it’s imperative to keep focus. “Remind yourself, as often as you can, why you chose the career path that you chose. When you focus on what you love, and give yourself a chance to dedicate yourself to your dreams, the world will open up for you. I’m an example of that.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli for sharing more about her upcoming film SOLA and the vision of her newly formed company, Yezi Studios. To learn more about Yezi Studios and the campaign to develop SOLAclick here.

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    September 24, 2020 • International Diversity, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 345