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  • New York Film Academy Staff Member Holds Special Film Screenings in Istanbul, Turkey


    Fadik Sevin Atasoy with Paxton Winters

    Renowned Turkish actress Fadik Sevin Atasoy (left) pictured with Paxton Winters (right)

    New York Film Academy Social Media Manager Mandy Menaker will be in Istanbul, Turkey next week promoting short film Merhaba. Merhaba tells the story of Özge, a young Turkish woman who flies home to Turkey and discovers dealing with her father’s health is more difficult than introducing him to her American boyfriend. She is now forced to make a difficult decision about her life. Merhaba features renowned Turkish father and daughter actors Sönmez Atasoy and Fadik Sevin Atasoy. The supporting cast includes Nursel Köse, İskender Altın, and Paxton Winters.

    Sonmez Atasoy and Fadik Sevin Atasoy

    Real-life father-daughter duo Sonmez Atasoy (right) and Fadik Sevin Atasoy (left) play father and daughter in Merhaba

    Menaker produced the film, which shot on location in Istanbul, Turkey in March 2010. Merhaba will have two special screenings during the week. On June 21, the film will screen for the ALS community during a Bosphorus Cruise Tour, sponsored by ALS-MNH Dernegi (ALS-MND Association). The film will also screen for prominent scientists from Boğaziçi University, University of Massachusetts, Harvard University and Brown University  at the Pera Museum during the 2011 Suna Kıraç Neurodegenaration Conferences in Istanbul, Turkey. After the screening, there will be Q&A between Director Lauren Brady and esteemed medical professional Dr. Alper Kaya moderated by Producer Mandy Menaker, followed by a wine and cheese reception sponsored by the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation. The film’s star, Fadik Sevin Atasoy will attend the invitation-only Pera Museum screening.

    “The goal of this film to entertain audiences while spreading awareness of ALS and related neurodegenerative diseases,” explains Writer/Director/Co-Producer Lauren Brady. “We are thrilled to screen the project during the next week for scientists, survivors, and their supporters.”

    The film is twenty minutes in length and primarily in Turkish with English subtitles. Brady did not speak any Turkish prior to directing the film. The film premiered in New York at the 2011 First Run Film Festival in April, garnering the following awards: Audience Choice Award, Best Actress – Fadik Atasoy, Commendation in Directing – Lauren Brady, Commendation in Producing – Mandy Menaker, Commendation in Cinematography – Mingjue Hu.

    Actress Nursel Köse as Aunt Mine

    Actress Nursel Köse as Aunt Mine

    To learn more about the project and how you can get involved, visit


    June 16, 2011 • Acting • Views: 5248

  • New York Film Academy Graduate Aubrey Plaza Working with Seth Rogen and Amy Poehler


    Aubrey Plaza

    Actress Aubrey Plaza has hit it big since taking a New York Film Academy High School Hands-On Summer Workshop. In the past three months, Aubrey has been a featured guest (with hilarious interviews) on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Lopez Tonight with George Lopez. Her list of costars has grown to include Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman. Aubrey is currently filming Safety Not Guaranteed with Kristen Bell and has signed on to film The Hand Job with Christopher Mintz-Plasse (more commonly known as “McLovin” from Superbad) and Andy Samberg (of SNL favorite’s comedy troupe the Lonely Island).

    Aubrey Plaza stars on NBC’s Parks and Recreation with SNL star Amy Poehler 

    So what makes this NYFA graduate a star? Jarrett Wieselman of New York Post comments, “Aubrey isn’t a bubbly, gum-chewing 20-something who tacks a giggle on the end of her sentences and dots her I’s with hearts. She’s smart, dry and totally sarcastic…Aubrey is one of the most disarmingly hilarious people I’ve ever had the chance to interview.”


    Aubrey Plaza in Scott Pilgrim vs The World

    Aubrey Plaza stars as Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

    Aubrey stars as April Ludgate on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, recognized as one of the top ten TV shows in TIME, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and People Magazine. Her feature film career includes playing Seth Rogen’s love interest in Funny People and Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This May, Aubrey beat actresses Christina Ricci, Ellen Page, Janeane Garofalo, Liz Lee, Zooey Deschanel, and Thora Birch in a MTV poll of who viewers would hope to be cast as Daria in a live action movie. So what comes next for Aubrey Plaza? Follow nyfa on twitter @nyfa for the latest updates.





    June 3, 2011 • Acting • Views: 8409

  • New York Film Academy: What Makes Us Unique


    New York Film Academy is one of the fastest growing, most hands-on film and acting schools in the world. With programs in filmmaking, acting, cinematography, producing, photography, game design, musical theatre, animation, screenwriting, documentary, broadcast journalism, and much more, there is a course for you! Check out a few reasons to study at New York Film Academy:

    Photo of Chord Overstreet

    NYFA Graduate Chord Overstreet stars as Sam on TV Series Glee!

    HANDS-ON WORKSHOPS: New York Film Academy offers the most hands-on film program in the world. From week one, film students have access to cameras and acting students perform screen tests.  In one year, students can expect to make 8 films and work on at least 28 more.

    Aubrey Plaza in Funny People

    NYFA Graduate Aubrey Plaza stars as Seth Rogen’s love interest in Funny People. She also stars alongside Amy Poehler in TV Series Parks and Rec.

    COLLABORATION BETWEEN DEPARTMENTS: Students are able to network with filmmakers, producers, cinematographers, actors, performers, animators, photographers and game designers without leaving the building! New York Film Academy supports collaboration between our departments through informal mixers, mandatory pitch sessions, and joint projects. Producing students are required to team up with filmmakers for at least one project. In addition, New York Film Academy offers regular casting calls through CASTNYFA ( that allow student and alumni actors to audition for up to 100 filmmakers at once, all casting upcoming projects.

    Lisa Cortes

    NYFA Graduate Lisa Cortes Co-Produced the Oscar-Winning film Precious 

    ACCESS TO INDUSTRY: New York Film Academy’s outstanding faculty includes several Oscar and Emmy Award winning filmmakers. Teaching staff have worked professionally for companies/networks including HBO, Disney, Discovery Channel, Fox, Comedy Central, Bravo, History Channel, and more. In addition, they hold degrees from NYU, UCLA, USC, AFI, and Columbia. The Musical Theatre instructors starred on Broadway in Wicked, The Addams Family, Chicago, Les Miserables, and more. Producing mentors have screened features at Sundance and Cannes in the past year. In addition, New York Film Academy invites several guests from the industry to screen work and provide advice and guidance. In the past few months, students have heard from actors including Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi), Kevin Kline (The Ice Storm), Glenn Close (Dangerous Liasons), Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket); directors including Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind); producers including Al Ruddy (The Godfather), Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman), and Debora Cahn (Grey’s Anatomy/West Wing). Steven Spielberg (Jaws) and Nancy Myers (It’s Complicated) will both speak this month.

    Paul Dano in Little Miss Sunshine

    NYFA Graduate Paul Dano starred in Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood

    DIVERSE STUDENT BODY: New York Film Academy has a student body that draws from over 76 countries. Students bring with them different artistic sensibilities, stories, and belief systems. This diversity of background allows students to receive a variety of opinions on their work and reveals new perspectives that strengthen them as artists. In addition, students have opportunities to network with filmmakers all over the world that will later provide valuable connections if they pursue international film production.

    NYFA Graduate Camilla Luddington as Kate Middleton

    NYFA Graduate Camilla Luddington (right) starred as Kate Middleton in Lifetime’s William & Kate.

    LOCATION: New York Film Academy is constantly expanding. Students can do year-round courses of study in New York, Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, and Australia. The New York Film Academy also offers short-term opportunities at Disney Studios Florida and Harvard University and has international locations in Paris, France; Lugano, Switzerland; Mumbai, India; Florence, Italy; Rome, Italy; Moscow, Russia; Kyoto, Japan; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, Korea; Lagos, Nigeria; Shanghai, China; and Beijing, China.


    May 27, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6471

  • Oscar-Winning Special Effects Make-Up Artists Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis Speak at New York Film Academy


    New York Film Academy hosted a talk for students this week with special effects makeup artists Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis. Woodruff and Gillis have collaborated on some of the largest studio productions in history including The Terminator, Star Trek III, Jumanji, The X Files, Cast Away, and Superman Returns just to name a few. In addition, they have recently done work for the new X-Men First Class and the upcoming prequel to The Thing. Woodruff won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects on Death Becomes Her and was nominated for an Oscar along with Gillis for Aliens 3. Gillis also received an Oscar nomination for Starship Troopers.

    Woodruff and Gillis collaborated on special effects for films including Aliens.

    Woodruff and Gillis spent valuable time with students sharing their experiences from neighborhood adolescent filmmakers, to film school students, to Roger Corman’s employees, to the real world of filmmaking in Hollywood. Addressing the generational gap between practical special effects artists and CGI special effects artists, the two commented that filmmaking has headed in a digital direction, with filmmakers quick to make things “easier” or “cheaper” by going all digital. However, Woodruff and Gillis expressed that practical effects create a more realistic feeling and can actually be a cheaper option to create the visual sensation the director hopes to achieve.

    Woodruff and Gillis recently worked on X-Men First Class.

    Overall, the discussion was incredibly thought provoking. Woodruff and Gillis were extremely inspiring and New York Film Academy thanks them for the visit!


    May 24, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6237

  • Star Wars Actor Billy Dee Williams Receives Honorary MFA Degree at New York Film Academy Event Moderated by Oscar-Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr.


    New York Film Academy Los Angeles was thrilled to host a conversation between veteran actors Billy Dee Williams and Academy-Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. on May 18, 2011.

    Louis Gossett Jr. and Billy Dee Williams

    Academy-Award Winner Louis Gossett Jr. (Left) Interviews Star Billy Dee Williams (Right) at NYFA.

    New York Film Academy students and alumni packed the house for a screening of The Empire Strikes Back followed by a Q&A with Billy Dee Williams. The event was moderated by legendary actor Louis Gossett Jr. Though Louis Gossett Jr. and Billy Dee Williams have known each other professionally for 40 years, it was the first time the stars have appeared on stage together.

    Lando Calrissian

    Billy (Right) appears as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars.

    Billy has been in over 40 films and 70 television shows throughout his career. He is well known for starring as Lando Calrissian in the epic Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi. He has also co-starred twice with Diana Ross, first as Louis McKay in Lady Sings the Blues and later as Brian in the critically acclaimed film Mahogany. Louis Gossett Jr. received a 1983 Oscar for An Officer and A Gentleman.

    Billy Dee Williams

    Billy Dee Williams signs autographs for NYFA students and alumni.

    “This was a great evening!!!” gushes NYFA graduate Michelle Stevenson. “I’m glad I was able to attend. NYFA is the best!!!”

    Billy Dee Williams NYFA

    Star Wars Actor Billy Dee Williams Receives Honorary MFA Degree from New York Film Academy. 

    Students rose to their feet for a standing ovation for Billy Dee Williams, who received an honorary MFA degree from the New York Film Academy. The two stars later posed for pictures with students and signed autographs.

    Black Entertainment Television (BET) will be doing a follow up piece on the event. In addition, New York Film Academy will be posting video clips of the interview in the coming weeks. New York Film Academy extends a huge thank you to Billy and Louis for a memorable evening.


    May 20, 2011 • Acting • Views: 5668

  • New York Film Academy Documentary Profiles Brigitte Harris, Sentenced for Avenging Childhood Abuse


    Bedford Correctional Facility

    Bedford Correctional Facility, the only maximum security facility for women in the State of New York

    Bianca Zanini Vasconcellos is a student in New York Film Academy’s one-year documentary conservatory. For her current assignment, she has spent time filming in the Bedford Hills Maximum Security Correctional Facility for Women. Bianca is profiling 29-year old Brigitte Harris, who is serving five years of prison for castrating and killing her father.

    Bianca originally heard about the story through a photographer who had photographed Brigitte Harris for an article in The New Yorker. After Googling Brigitte, Bianca reached out through personal letters and Brigitte responded. The two have been pen palling for sometime.

    Brigitte Harris

    Brigitte Harris

    Brigitte’s story unfolded on July 28th, 2007 when Brigitte called 911 to report someone was bleeding to death. The “someone” turned out to be her father, Eric Goodman, who was already dead. Brigitte had been sexually abused by her father from the age of three and set out to protect her nieces. Says Bianca: “When Brigitte saw him playing with her small nieces and talking about taking them with him to his home country Liberia, she couldn’t take it anymore. She invited him over that Summer day in July, to make sure he would never hurt anyone again. She wanted him to live the rest of his life without his ‘weapon’”. Brigitte’s original intent was just to injure her father’s organs, but his struggle resulted in his accidental death and Brigitte’s 5-15 year sentence.

    On the filmmaking process Bianca comments that the biggest obstacles in making documentaries are time and personalities: “The two biggest challenges, I think, are the amount of time everything takes – much more than I thought – and then the fact that you are dealing with real people – people who can change their minds, who have schedules, who have interests, fears and expectations. And you have to find a balance, where you respect that without giving up on your own ideas and goals for the film.

    Brigitte Harris

    Bianca hopes to prepare one cut of the film for Discovery’s student competition. However, as Brigitte’s lawyer pushes for an appeal, Bianca wants to broaden the focus of the film and do a longer cut. Bianca comments that the documentary course at New York Film Academy has been helpful in creating the film:

    “The documentary course at NYFA prepares its students not only for these challenges, but for working as real documentarians in real life. We talk about the various challenges with our teachers, but also with our fellow students, who all face different problems with different solutions.”

    And as for her ultimate goal in documentary? “I want to make great films that will reach a broad audience and hopefully have some kind of impact on people’s lives and in society. I’m in my mid 20’s, just starting off my career – so if I’m not idealistic about changing things for the better, who will be?”


    May 3, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6256

  • CASTNYFA: An Exclusive New York Film Academy Casting Service


    CASTNYFA is a New York Film Academy exclusive casting service. At a CASTNYFA event New York Film Academy actors can expect to audition for up to 90 New York Film Academy filmmakers and alumni all casting upcoming projects.

    CASTNYFA also sends free casting breakdowns to students and alumni in the CASTNYFA database. To get involved, email

    Check out the new CASTNYFA video to learn more!


    April 29, 2011 • Acting • Views: 8118

  • New York Film Academy Graduate Tackles the 1953 CIA Coup In New Documentary


    Joe Ayella is a graduate of New York Film Academy’s short-term filmmaking workshop in Portugal. His documentary American Coup tells the story of the 1953 coup carried out by the CIA to topple the popular Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The film is a mix of rare archival footage and stills and interviews with Middle East experts, historians, and authors.  Among the many interviewees are Stephen Kinzer (author, All The Shah’s Men), Prof. Ervand Abrahamian of Baruch College, Trita Parsi, Ph.D., Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Nuclear Expert Joe Cirincione Amb. Bruce Laingen, Amb. John Limbert, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and legendary newsman Ted Koppel.  Stand-up comic Maz Jobrani (Axis of Evil Comedy Tour) also makes an appearance. Check out what Joe had to say about his film….

    TRAILER VS04-H.264 (video quicktime… by Monteego


    Where did you first get the idea for the film?


    Originally, I had intended to expand upon the short film about the Holocaust that I had made while studying at NYFA in Porto, Portugal.  But, logistically, that proved challenging as some of my Portuguese classmates who I had hoped to use for my crew for my set-in-Portugal story weren’t available due to scheduling and other issues. 


    I had long been fascinated with the story of the first coup ever carried out by the CIA – Iran, 1953 – so, a couple of years ago when there was talk during the Bush years of the possibility of a military strike against Iran, I decided to explore that event.  When I realized that not all that much had been done on the subject in terms of film, I thought it would make for a good documentary.  Hence, American Coup was conceived which I think is a timely film given everything that is happening in the Middle East at the present time. 


    Not many people know, especially in the United States, that Iran had a democracy back in 1953, and that the CIA went in and – along with the British – carried out a coup to get rid of Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and to back the Shah of Iran.  The Shah then ruled in an increasingly despotic manner until he was overthrown 25 years later during the Islamic Revolution.  That revolution had a strong anti-American cast to it because its leaders remembered the events of 1953, and that the US had supported and armed the Shah for the next 25 years against the wishes of the people.


    What were some of the production challenges you faced?


    Probably the biggest production challenge I faced was just the historic nature of the seminal event at the heart of American Coup.  How to bring the story alive.  So I had to hire good, experienced archival researchers to help me find the best footage and stills of the time period.  But I also wanted to bring the story up to date and to show the lingering effects of the coup on the current US-Iranian relationship.  So I did a little section on the 1979 Hostage Crisis, which many Americans are familiar with but not with the underlying reason behind it:  during the Islamic Revolution, Iranian students took Americans hostage because they feared another coup by the CIA. So that section of the film required the additional gathering of archival material. And then I finished the film with some words about the issues dividing the US and Iran today for maximum resonance with today’s audiences.


    I think my training at NYFA helped me in that I had gained experience in doing a short film about the Second World War and the Holocaust, which involved the same sorts of challenges – doing the research, locating archival material, finding people today with the relevant knowledge to tell the story, etc.  And, of course, in just the ins and outs of filmmaking in general, my NYFA training came in quite handily.


    Where has the finished film screened?


    American Coup screened a couple of months ago at IDFA, the big, wonderful documentary film festival in Amsterdam, and at the Starz Denver Film Festival, another terrific festival, where I got to meet a lot of great filmmakers.  As a result of appearances at those festivals, programmers at other film festivals have requested my film for screening so the film may well screen elsewhere. 


    In addition, Mercury Media out of London is representing the film and hoping to bring a slightly shorter version into various TV markets around the world. 


    What comes next?


    I’m actually working on two other projects right now.  I’ve started to do some shooting in Italy on one project and hope to raise some additional funds for it.  And the other project is another historical piece that’s in research and development.  Unfortunately, I can’t really talk about either project in greater detail at the present time…but maybe down the road if you’re still interested 😉


    April 26, 2011 • Acting • Views: 5433

  • New York Film Academy Music Video Debuts on Rolling Stone!


    Rolling Stone Magazine

    New York Film Academy MFA Graduate Richard (Rick) Greenwood originally approached LA based punk rock band Living Dead Lights about using song “To All The Youth” for his NYFA thesis film Hinnon Valley. The group agreed to let Rick use the song as long he also created a music video for the band. The completed video, Living Dead Lights: To All The Youth debuted on Rolling Stone Magazine online this month. It will also be showing in rotation on Yahoo Music and launching on MTV Europe and Virgin TV Italy as the band kicks off a European tour.

    “Along with some of my fellow NYFA alumni we did the video,” says director Rick Greenwood. “It It was a great experience because the band was so excited about the video. They came and gave 100% every take all day – the energy was contagious.”

    To All The Youth Music Video, Directed by NYFA Grad Rick Greenwood

    The New York Film Academy heavy crew included Director/Cinematographer/Producer/Editor Rick Greenwood (NYFA MFA Grad Dec 2010), Director of Photography Nick DeRuve (NYFA MFA – current student), Assistant Camera Operator Fernanda Rivero (NYFA MFA Grad Dec 2010) and Gaffer Mohnish Saraswat (NYFA MFA Grad Dec 2010).

    When interviewed by Rock Rebel Magazine about the music video, Rocker guitarist Alan Damien commented, “The support we’ve had from the fans has been unbelievable so far.”

    zombie character Hinnon Valley

    A zombie character from Rick’s thesis film Hinnon Valley

    As for Rick’s zombie thesis film Hinnon Valley, it has also experienced success recently including showing before selected screenings of Scream 4 during opening weekend. Ron Irwin reviewed the film for the Los Angeles Examiner calling the cinematography “Oscar level” and writing “Hinnon Valley is a masterfully written, superbly directed and all around fabulously produced short.”


    April 25, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4852

  • New York Film Academy Graduate Rohit Gupta Nominated for Several Awards at World Music and Independent Film Festival


    New York Film Academy One-Year Filmmaking Graduate Rohit Gupta is back on the festival circuit with feature film Life! Camera  Action…, which has just been nominated for several awards at the upcoming 2011 World Music and Independent Film Festival in Washington, DC. The film is up for the following awards:

    •  Best Drama

    •  Best Director, Rohit Gupta

    •  Best Screenplay, Rohit Gupta & Amanda Sodhi

    •  Best Actress, Dipti Mehta

    •  Best Supporting Role, Noor Naghmi

    •  Best Supporting Role, Swati Kapila

    •  Best Original Soundtrack, Manoj Singh

     Life! Camera Action… is the journey of a young, Indian-American woman who sets off to pursue a career in filmmaking against the wishes of her family. Rohit filmed the project in ten days on a Panasonic DVX 100 with two crew-members. The project evolved from 15-minute assignment while studying at New York Film Academy.

    Cast and crew posingCast and crew pose on set

    In a recent interview, Rohit commented that he always believed in the film but that getting nominated for awards is still a “big honor.” He adds, “I thank these people for seeing what I’m seeing in [the story].”

    The film had its world premiere in November at the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival. It has since taken home awards including an Award of Merit at The Indie Fest 2010 and Award of Excellence at the Accolade Film Awards 2010. The film was invited to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts South Asian Film Series and IFF 2011 – Tampa Bay, Florida.

    Rohit previously screened NYFA short film Another Day Another Life at several film festivals internationally.


    April 25, 2011 • Acting • Views: 5579