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  • Director Brian DeCubellis Screens “Manhattan Night” at NYFA NYC

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    It was a film noir night for New York Film Academy Filmmaking students, who were treated to Brian DeCubellis‘ new film, “Manhattan Night,” coincidentally on a rainy night in lower Manhattan. The film stars Academy Award winner, Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Campbell Scott, and Jennifer Beals. Porter, played by Brody, is an investigative Daily News reporter who becomes involved with a mysterious woman, Strahovski, while investigating her late husband’s death.

    brian decubellis

    Brian DeCubellis with NYFA Filmmaking Chair, Claude Kerven

    Director Decubellis has written and directed films,  TV shows, commercials,  music videos and branded programming for MTV, Fox, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, Teen Nick, ABC and more. Formerly the founding Creative Director at MTV and Viacom’s creative group Scratch, his work has been recognized with an Effie Award, Ava Platinum Award, Creativity Annual, Beacon Award, Mobius Award, Gracie Award, Prism Award, the prestigious Peabody Award, Telly Award, and an Emmy nomination.

    He has directed programming with over 300 recording artists for MTV Networks as well as RollingStone.com and getmusic.com where he was the in-house video director.

    DeCubellis, who spoke to students after the screening, adapted the screenplay from the Colin Harrison novel, “Manhattan Nocturne.” From the moment he wanted to adapt the book until the film was in the theaters, was a span of about 17 years. While his background is in creating short content for TV and branded campaigns, DeCubellis had been motivated since film school to be a feature filmmaker and storyteller. He advised students to “keep making your stuff and building your reel. Keep writing if you’re a writer. Keep making shorts to really hone your craft, so you’re ready when you have that opportunity.”

    He also suggested that screenwriters read Blake Snyder’s, “Save the Cat,” and to truly work on their script until it is at a professional level and is enticing for actors. “When you’re writing the script, think of the actors and why they would like to do this.” Not only do you want to have talented actors in your film, investors want to see a package with known talent attached.

    DeCubellis also stressed the importance of knowing the financial side of the business, especially as an independent movie director. At the end of the day, you’re the one with the vision, and you’re the only one who can be the driving force behind your first feature film.

    Manhattan Night” is now available on VOD.

     

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    April 3, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3979

  • MFA Acting for Film Grad Jongman Kim Appears in Judd Apatow’s “Love”

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    After being picked up for a third season on Netflix, Judd Apatow’s romantic comedy series, “Love,” continues to grow in popularity. The series reflects the complicated dating life of millennials living in Los Angeles. In the second season of the show, the main character, Gus, played by creator Paul Rust, winds up working on set with an erratic movie director from Korea, whose name is Victor. The actor, Jongman Kim, happens to be an alumnus from the New York Film Academy’s MFA Acting for Film Degree Program.

    jongman kim

    (left to right) Paul Rust, Jongman Kim, and Randall Park

    Kim has been in a few big studio films in South Korea and even had his own theatre company. However, he says it was when he saw Robert De Niro and Al Pacino‘s performances in film that he aspired to learn “true acting” in America. “People laughed at me because I couldn’t speak any English, and I said that I’m going to America to be an actor,” he said. “I had been acting for 15 years before I moved to NYC, but I couldn’t stand not knowing what true acting was.”

    Kim couldn’t speak English when he first moved to the city, so he first attended ESL school to learn the language.

    “I loved my experience at NYFA,” he said. “I had lots of beautiful teachers and actor friends in both NYC and LA. Meisner Technique changed my perspective of acting. Taking acting classes is really important to me. It’s like a gym for an actor to build his acting muscles.”

    Kim says he’s now being recognized for his work on the streets of LA. “It’s amazing that I started from not speaking any English and not knowing this country,” he said. “I broke my big Hollywood wall, so now I’m just going to keep moving forward.”

    Kim has acted in many short films and one independent feature film that will be released this year. One of his short films, “She Jang,” which he is a producer, co-writer and lead actor, was accepted into the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. Kim is currently repped by the Jenny Stricklin Talent Agency and the Clover Company in Korea. He’s hoping to act in both Korea and the US.

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  • NYFA Grad’s “The Kobal Report” Screens at LA Film Awards and NYC Indie Film Awards

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    the kobal reportRecent New York Film Academy Filmmaking graduate Javier Alfonso Bartolozzi’s thesis film, “The Kobal Report,” has been selected to screen at the Los Angeles Film Awards, NYC Indie Film Awards, and it will also appear at the Cannes Short Film Corner in May 2017.

    His film is about a depressed journalist, Colin, who has no aspirations and winds up meeting a cruel “vigilante,” killing criminals in New York. Colin sees him as an opportunity to grow professionally and to fulfill his empty life, with inevitably disastrous results.

    “I wrote the script so that the audience can decide what is right or wrong,” he said. “It’s ‘take law into your own hands’ — a way to give justice.”

    Bartolozzi came to NYFA from Spain. He says he was looking for a school to not only network with like-minded individuals, but also work with students from all over the world.
    “I had the support of a lot of teachers, classmates and, of course, NYFA helped with all the equipment,” said Bartolozzi. “Also, I learned a lot from my instructors, especially from the screenwriting class.”

    Bartolozzi is currently writing a couple new short films, but is still in the early stages of the process.

    “My goal is to create stories to create emotions in people,” says Bartolozzi. “I also want to produce all the crazy ideas I have in my mind. I’m not interested in prizes or festivals, I just want to work as a filmmaker and make a living in the industry.”

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    March 30, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3270

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Grad Works on “Thor” and “Aquaman”

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    Former New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast student, Damian Lang, has shot three award-winning short films thus far, and has worked as a Location Assistant on major Hollywood films like “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Aquaman,” both of which were filmed in the Gold Coast. Between his on-set experience and filmmaking background, Lang says he is currently working on an idea for his first feature film.

    damian lang

    Below is Lang’s description of his three award-winning shorts:

    “Unauthorised Tears”

    “This film is about trying to re-connect with people, woman particularly. I returned from Afghanistan with the Australian Infantry a few years back and developed some mental issues, which unfortunately ended in me losing my wife and job. This sent me on a bit of a downward spiral, but I always forced myself to get out and push through. The events in the film actually happened multiple times — just not usually with a fairy-tail ending.”

    Screenings:

    Caymen, Int Film Festival
    Stage One, Int Film Festival (Won ACS Best Cinematography)
    Long Beach Indie, Int Film Festival
    Screen IT, Gold Coast Film Festival
    Austin Revolution, Film Festival

    “Diamond In The Rough”

    “This film is about understanding your own beauty and worth. I went through a faze where I was trying to build myself into another person to attract certain types of women into my life. I found out it’s not very sustainable or fair on the other person.”

    Screenings:

    Colorado, Int Film Festival (Won Best Student Short)
    Fort Worth, Indie Film Festival
    International Video and Music Awards
    Roma, Cinemadoc Film Festival

    “The First Step”

    This film is about re-connecting even if it isn’t the easiest route, and also about betrayal at the most unexpected times. The idea stems from when I was in Afghanistan and there were multiple ego driven orders that put us in unnecessary danger. Duty first is what we always did, but now we have to live with the outcomes and the question ‘why’.”

    Screenings: (This film is still on the festival scene until December 2017)

    Around Films, Int Film Festival (Won Best Short film)
    Hollywood Screenings, Film Festival (Semi-finalist)

    Lang also directed a music video for the Gold Coast based DJ duo “Bombs Away,” which was featured on MTV.

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  • Emily Seale-Jones Returns to NYFA to Talk About Creating Content

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    The Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy has started a new Industry Trend series, which welcomes recent graduates who are at early and mid-level stages of their career. The series aims to provide current students with a glimpse of what their careers might look like in the near future.

    emily seale-jones

    Last week, as part of the Industry Trend series, Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby welcomed her former student, Emily Seale-Jones, who is an actress, writer, producer, and director. Seale-Jones spoke about creating content, specifically her web series “Frankie and Emma.” The series follows the daily, comical antics of two girls in London. Seale-Jones created the show and stars in it with Nancy Wallinger, who is known for “The Play That Goes Wrong” at London’s West End.

    Seale-Jones said she created the show in order to showcase her skills as both an actress and a filmmaker. “It’s really uncomfortable to promote yourself, but you have to get used to it,” she said. “If people aren’t going to bank on you, then you need to do the work and prove you’re bankable. You have to prove yourself.”

    At the end of the day, even if Seale-Jones is unable to sell the series to a network, she believes it’s important to get the work out there for people to see. That’s the goal. “If you want to do something, you just go ahead and do it,” added Seale-Jones.

    Her first experience creating content was at NYFA in 2011 when she decided to create a play with her fellow classmates and with Glynis as her director. Seale-Jones said NYFA broke down the wall of filmmaking, allowing her to believe the entire process of creating a film from idea to completion is feasible.

    Seale-Jones also spoke about her film, “To Tokyo,” which her brother wrote and directed over a four year span in Japan. The film is about a young woman, hiding from her past, who is confronted by her stepsister in Japan and forced to face the figure that haunts her in a world where dreams meet reality.

    With all of her projects, Seale-Jones has realized one major fact: “There has to be something that’s the driving force. You can’t rely on anyone except yourself.”

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  • NYFA Acting for Film Grad’s “Proceed with Caution” Available on Amazon

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    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alumnus Kojo Boama’s newest short film, “Proceed With Caution,” has been picked up by Amazon Prime video. “Proceed with Caution,” written by NYFA alumnus Joey Colebut, is about an upcoming NYC music producer who stumbles on his way to stardom by getting his mistress pregnant. The film has been talked about by major hip-hop artists such as P.Diddy, Jadakiss, and Swizz Beatz.

    We had a chat with Boama to find out more about his new film, and about how aspiring filmmakers should never give up.

    Hi Kojo. Can you tell us where you’re from and what brought you to NYFA?

    I was born in Ghana, West Africa and raised in Harlem, NY. My mother lived in London and had me educated in England as well. She was going to have me stay and live the rest of my life there, so NYFA in NY was an alternative escape route to move back in with my father up in Harlem while seeking to further my education and study a craft.

    And the craft you studied was Acting for Film. Can you tell us about your experience in NYFA’s Acting for Film program?

    I absolutely loved the acting program. Meisner technique is an essential tool I still use today: always listening to determine the true meaning underneath a person’s statement was a technique that was very useful in the making of this film. This is because I had to multitask around the set — produce, semi-direct and clean the set while playing the lead role. So aside from memorizing my lines, actually paying attention to other actors responses helped save me from potential bad acting.

    kojo boama

    How did this short film come about? What made you want to create “Proceed with Caution”?

    This short film was written by fellow NYFA student Joey Colebut, who had originally had me act in his final showcase at NYFA. I fell in love with the process. Most of our journey can be found on our episodic youtube documentary called “Never Give Up,” which showcases the trials and tribulation it took to actually make this project a reality. “Proceed with Caution” was scheduled to be wrapped in six months, but due to setbacks it ended up taking four years. (Below is the first episode of “Never Give Up.”)

    You have some really notable hip-hop artists and celebrities talking about your film. How did that come about?

    Due to the hardships of making this project a reality, I always had to plot ahead to see how I could overcome any giving situation. Initially, I worked over at CBS and used to rush down celebrities every time they came by to get some endorsements. One endorsement from Jack Thriller, which I actually got on 125th street in Harlem, helped turn this project around. I knew that hiring my co-star, Jack Thriller, who is signed with 50 Cent, and is talked about in the streets to be the next Kevin Heart, would help open other doors to various people within the entertainment business. (Check out this episode for more details.)

    Why do you believe people should see your film?

    Aside from the fact that it’s mere entertainment, I also want to give aspiring artists hope that they could do it as well. Thus, the making of the behind the scenes episodic documentary “Never Give Up.”

    What do you hope to achieve with this film?

    I hope this film helps open doors for me to grow as a filmmaker within the industry, and for me to be able to make a few feature films.

    Are you planning to film a feature version of “Proceed with Caution”?

    I could make a feature version of this project if need be, but I have already written another feature, “Blue Grease,” which I believe would be a great challenge for me if I’m able to accomplish it. “Blue Grease” is an urban love and basketball themed movie.

    We wish you the best of luck with everything!

    If you’re interested in checking out “Proceed with Caution,” CLICK HERE.

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    March 28, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4554

  • NYFA Alumna’s Thesis Film “My Lover Never Came” Wins Three Awards at NYC Indie Film Awards

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    Growing up in Myanmar, Moe Myat May Zarchi was very interested in a variety of movies from art house cinema to american independent films, and also reading about film history. Though adept to the storytelling aspects of filmmaking, Zarchi decided to pursue the Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy to learn how to make a film professionally and systematically. While in the program, Zarchi directed her thesis film, “My Lover Never Came,” which she says is about “the process of destruction in identity and sense of direction in this world for wanting something that you would never get back.” The protagonist is a young woman who is waiting and searching for her mysterious lover. It is told subtly in the form of a visual narrative using words and photographic frames.

    my lover never came

    “We had about four months to film our thesis film from writing scripts to production,” said Zarchi. “But just about three weeks before shooting my original script, I had to cancel it because of property rights. I went through an anxiety induced state as it felt too rushed for me to come up with a new idea, a new story. So I decided to take my mind from it. By chance, I came across photographer Duane Michels’ photo sequences, and one of his particular series made me think of this idea. I could personally relate to it so much that I need to make a film of it. The visual style is also an adaption of his photographs.”

    So far the film has screened in New Filmmakers NY and won three awards at NYC Indie Film Awards (Best Short Film, Best Director and Best Editing).

    my lover never came

    “The experience at NYFA was indeed very useful,” said Zarchi. “It totally made me consider all the production aspects of turning an idea into a film; how to balance the budget, draw the timeline, get all the rights, working with a big team and handling the stress. But the most important tip I learned from NYFA is the question ‘why?’ Knowing why I choose a particular frame or movement, the color palette, the production design, the acting style, the pace, and the rhythm, makes me really dig into knowing my film as a director. It really brings out all the emotions and tones from a film.”

    Zarchi is currently working on post-production of a short film she shot in New York, after graduating NYFA. She’s also working on a script for a feature film, which she intends to shoot Myanmar.

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    March 27, 2017 • #WomenOfNYFA, Diversity, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4537

  • NYFA Welcomes VR Software Architect Chris Bobotis

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    Last week, the New York Film Academy welcomed well-known VR artist, Chris Bobotis, to speak to students in our new VR program.

    chris bobotis

    Bobotis is the Co-Founder and 360/VR Software Architect at Mettle, which introduced 360/VR plugins that have been widely adopted by leading companies world-wide, such as The New York Times, Time, CNN, HBO, Google, youtube, Discovery VR, DreamWorks TV, National Geographic, USA Today, LinkedIn, The Ellen Show, BuzzFeed, Conan 360, Framestore, Google, Jaunt VR, GreenPeace, Care, UBER, RYOT, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Apple, and Facebook. Independent filmmakers and youtubers have also widely adopted the toolset available through Mettle, shaping the content that is available through YouTube, FaceBook, Samsung, and other 360/VR viewers.

    Founded in Montreal as a production studio by Chris Bobotis and Nancy Eperjesy in 1992, the team of artists and programmers who have consistently embraced art and tech, and pushed forward the notion of empowering artists with digital tools, developing software by artists for artists.

    Chris Bobotis

    Drawing on a vast experience of production and post-production workflows, Bobotis leads the development of all Mettle software. SkyBox 360/VR plugins are the most complete set of Cinematic 360/VR production tools available for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, and include a VR Player for Oculus RIFT.

    Chris generously spent a couple of hours lecturing on the theory of creating successful VR experiences, as well as demonstrating very practical how-to lessons with the software, which is used in the NYFA VR classrooms.

    At the end of the event, Bobotis offered an award to the best student VR project. Stay tuned!

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    March 24, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3922

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alumna’s “Frisky” Gets Distribution from Gravitas

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    friskyShot on a mere five thousand dollars, 8-Week Acting for Film alumna Claudia Pickering’s film, “Frisky,” was recently digitally released by Gravitas — which happens to be the same distribution company who distributed her former NYFA instructor, Adam Nimoy’s Spock documentary — in the US and Canada.

    The Sydney-born filmmaker began her foray into filmmaking through acting, which led to creating comedy sketches, short films and webseries’, the first of which was a music video titled “Sebring,” which included Danny Trejo, who choreographed and performed a synchronized dance for the clip.

    “Acting and directing involves a lot of switching between head spaces, and a lot of trust in your cast and crew,” says Pickering. “Having a very intimate understanding of each scene really helped the process of going between ‘acting’ and ‘directing’ modes. As an actor, I could feel when we had hit the right emotional moments in each scene, but the issue was, I couldn’t see whether we’d nailed the shot. Fortunately, I had a wonderful relationship with our cinematographer, Christiana Charalambous, and trusted her that when she said she got the shot, we were clear to move on.”

    Pickering has now written and produced two feature length films, ‘Frisky’ and ‘Winning Formula‘, of which she directed the former, and both have received international festival success including Official Selection at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the 10th Broad Humor Film Festival in Los Angeles, Best Comedy Feature at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and the Director’s Choice for Best Feature Film at the Austin Revolution Film Festival. Pickering won the 2015 Tropfest Tropvine competition with a stop motion animation of a giraffe telling a dad joke, and regularly creates sketches with her comedy troupe, Frothpocalypse. She is currently developing several projects through her company, Cliff House Productions.

    Frisky

    “My experience at NYFA LA was nothing short of life-changing,” said Pickering. “With incredible teachers such as Adam Nimoy, the course not only taught great acting techniques and theory, but also gave me a solid practical and theoretical foundational understanding of filmmaking. Additionally, I met some wonderful lifelong friends, one of whom, Anna Bennett, I went on to form a comedy production company with.”

    Her most recent film, “Frisky,” involves two young women who move back to San Francisco, where they had met on exchange years earlier. However, their high career aspirations quickly become sidelined by their sexual interests. While wildly crass and charismatic in their public personas, they are in fact fundamentally at odds on many levels. Their opposing beliefs surrounding responsibility and romance, combined with their close quarters while crashing in an acquaintance’s living room, find them thrust onto a fast track to discovering what their friendship is really made of. Based on true events, “Frisky” is an honest, tongue-in-cheek look at what it is to be a woman in the limbo years between college and “the real world.”

    “The film is based on my real life experiences moving from Sydney to Los Angeles — the first and most emotionally potent time was for NYFA — then from LA to San Francisco,” says Pickering. “The emotions, the the friendships, the flings, the near-misses, and the life-long lasting love for people and places. I was living in San Francisco, waiting for another feature film, ‘Winning Formula,’ to go through post production in LA. I was working as an architect to earn some money, but was really becoming disillusioned by the whole profession as I’d sit at my desk and fantasize about stories I’d like to make into movies. One night, I was invited to attend the test screening of a film that a friend of a friend had made on virtually no budget with a six month turn-around. The film was such a joy to watch — so honest and funny — and had been shot on a DSLR camera just like one I already owned and I thought to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I checked my savings account balance that night, quit my job the next day and started writing ‘Frisky'”

    For more information about how to download or stream, “Frisky,” please visit the website at friskymovie.com.

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    March 24, 2017 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Diversity, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3471

  • NYFA Musical Theatre Alumna Stars in “The Little Mermaid” Musical in São Paulo

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    ana luisa pretoAfter graduating from the New York Film Academy, Musical Theatre alumna Anna Luisa Preto returned to her home country of Brazil where she was cast to play the Little Mermaid in “The Little Mermaid: The Musical.” The musical’s first season was at Teatro das Artes in São Paulo, and is now playing at “Teatro Jardim Sul,” also in São Paulo.

    “I have always loved musical theatre, and when I saw the opportunity of auditioning for NYFA’s Musical Theatre program, I was immediately interested,” said Preto. “After researching about the course, the place and the professionals involved I fell completely in love! NYFA has changed the way I approach and study a song or a scene. With what I learned there, I have much more material to work on the performances.”

    Preto says the Little Mermaid was a very special character in her life as a child, especially being a redhead. “It was one of those stories that you do not think will happen to you…until it happens,” she recalls. “I didn’t know about the auditions, in fact, I lived in another city during that period. A friend that I hadn’t spoken for a long time had moved to São Paulo and sent his material to this musical and in the middle of the material was a duet that we recorded when we studied together. The production saw the material and decided to look for me! I almost did not believe it when I saw the producer’s message calling me audition for the mermaid in São Paulo. In the end, I went to do the test and, on the same day, I received the answer that changed the course of my life at that moment.” She became the Little Mermaid.

    ana luisa preto

    Since graduating, Preto has also performed as the character of Cassie with the Company Project Broadway in Highlights of Chorus Line at the “Teatro Guaíra,” in Curitiba.

    “My goal is always to overcome myself,” she says. “Learn something new with each class, or work and be able to put it into practice. I have no idea what my next character will be, but I look forward to more of this amazing world of musicals!”

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