George Leone
Author archives

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Signs Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Xiamen University (XMU), China


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) and Xiamen University (XMU), one of the top academic institutions in Southern China, held a virtual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony on June 7, 2022. Representatives from the two institutions gathered virtually.

    The ceremony was attended byProfessor Zongyi Zhang, President of Xiamen University; Jun Yang, Education Counselor at the Chinese Consulate General in New York; Michael Young, President of New York Film Academy; Dr. Joy Zhu, Executive Vice President for the China Region of New York Film Academy; and faculty and staff from both institutions.

    The agreement’s goal is to foster and support mutual academic, research, and cultural exchanges, as well as to maintain tight partnerships between the two institutions to improve educational value. Furthermore, the MOU intends to provide new and exciting opportunities for XMU students to further their studies at NYFA.

    “We will undertake many significant activities, including facilitating educational and academic exchanges between the two institutions, as well as providing learning opportunities for those seeking workshops, degrees, and other learning experiences in the performing and visual arts,” said President Young. Moreover, with enthusiasm, he said “I hope that in the days ahead we take bold steps together to develop stronger relationships and friendships.”

    Xiamen University (XMU), established in 1921 by Mr. Tan Kah Kee, is the first university founded by a Chinese person overseas in the history of modern Chinese education. XMU has long been listed among China’s leading universities on the national 211 Project, 985 Project and Double First-class initiative. With a graduate school, 6 academic divisions consisting of 33 schools and colleges, and 16 research institutes, XMU boasts a total enrollment of nearly 44,000 full-time students with 20,000 undergraduates, 18,000 graduate students working towards a master’s degree and 5,000 doctoral candidates. XMU currently has a faculty of over 3,000 full-time teachers and researchers. Nestled snugly between green hills and the blue sea, XMU is renowned as China’s most beautiful university for its excellent education facilities and beautiful environment.


    June 10, 2022 • Filmmaking • Views: 73

  • Q&A with MFA Filmmaking Alum Felipe Holguin


    Since graduating, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Felipe Holguin has been making ground-breaking work, capturing sincere and comical portraits of people in and around his native Colombia. 

    Holguin recently wrapped his most recent project, La Suprema. Holguin spoke with NYFA about the road to his production company, Cumbia Films, and the inspiration behind La Suprema.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Felipe Holguin (FH): I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and currently live in Cartagena with my wife and my 5 year-old daughter. We’ve had our own production company, Cumbia Films, since 2009. In 2007, I was living in Sao Paulo, Brasil, and looking to get a masters degree in filmmaking. A friend told me about NYFA and I was immediately interested in living in NY and LA so I began the application process. The rest is history.

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating? Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    FH: Yes. My short film Mañana (Tomorrow) was made during my first year in NYFA and it went to many film festivals around the world and won two Honorable Mentions. With Mañana, Cumbia Films was born. After NYFA, I worked in Los Angeles for some years as 1st AD in multiple projects and directed music videos and commercials. I was part of Film Independent’s Project: Involve program in the Directing Fellowship in 2012. In 2013, we moved back to Colombia and established our company in Cartagena with my wife and partner, where we offer production services for national and international projects. Between 2015 and 2017, I directed 2 feature documentaries funded by the Colombian government: La Suerte Del Salao (Unlucky Luck) and La Cachera.

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project?

    FH: In La Suprema, set in a town erased from the maps where there is not even electricity, a teenage girl dreams of being a boxer. When she learns that her uncle will box for the world title and the event will be televised, she and the community go out of their way to watch the fight, while fighting for her dignity and against oblivion.

    This comedy-tinged drama takes place in the early 2000s, before the internet and mobile phone boom, in a humble town, located far from any city, in Bolívar, Colombia. The film is inspired by the true story of Antonio Cervantes aka Kid Pambelé, who achieved the first world boxing title for Colombia, becoming a national hero, putting San Basilio de Palenque on the map.

    La Suprema is a village in the Matuya district, surrounded mostly by palm oil crops. The community faces problems that go beyond the fiction of this film and it is the ideal location to narrate this story that uses fiction to talk about reality. It represents social challenges and universal values of equity, diversity, inclusion, justice, empowerment, freedom, unity, love and acceptance.

    In 2020, we applied to the Film Fund (FDC-Proimagenes) and won 1 of the 2 awards given for regional feature films. I co-wrote the script with a friend and colleague, also a NYFA graduate, Two-Year Filmmaking alum Andrés Sierra. In 2021, we began castings and scouting, while looking for more funding and working on the script. We recently wrapped production, a successful 4-week shoot here in the Bolivar department, northern region of Colombia. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    FH: I loved that the NYFA program was fully hands-on. On day one, cameras were put in our hands and we began shooting. The best way to learn to shoot a movie is by shooting movies! 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Felipe Holguin for all he has done since completing the MFA Filmmaking Program!



    June 10, 2022 • Filmmaking • Views: 60

  • NYFA Screenwriting and Producing Graduates Celebrate with Industry Pitch Fest


    On Thursday, April 21st, 2022, graduating MFA and BFA Screenwriting and Producing students gathered to pitch their thesis projects to industry professionals at an in-person Pitch Fest!  We celebrated their hard work and accomplishments at the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting and Producing students, offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.  And as an added bonus, many faculty members came to the Andaz to support the graduates.

    The students’ dedication and passionate love for their work shined as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year.  Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professionals, this group of talented and creative students’ hard work has paid off, as they pitched agents, managers, studios, and Alternative Media, TV and Film production company execs in a relaxed, round-table environment.

    Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Morgan Dameron, with the assistance of Jenny Sterner and Heather Ritcheson, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including –

    Bad Robot, Lit Entertainment Group, Anonymous Content, Verve, We Are the Mighty, Scenario Entertainment, Tremendum Pictures, HIVEMIND, and Florida Hill Entertainment.

    NYFA wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA and BFA Screenwriting and Producing graduates and wish them the best as they move forward in their professional journeys!



    May 27, 2022 • Screenwriting • Views: 159

  • NYFA Alumni Films at The American Pavilion



    NYFA Faculty Suki Medencevic is DP on Shining Vale

    May 26, 2022

    Once a year, every year, the south of France becomes the premium destination for filmmakers and producers to gather at various film festivals like the Cannes Film Festival, the Cannes Series Festival and the American Pavilion.

    Since 1989, The American Pavilion has been the central hub for American filmmakers at The Cannes International Film Festival. The American Pavilion’s mission is to bring professional and emerging filmmakers together through programming and film screenings like the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase allowing student filmmakers to showcase their work to Cannes Festival and Film Market attendees.

    In 2020 and 2021, the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase went virtual, due to Covid-19. This year, the American Pavilion is giving those films a live in-person screening. Among the films selected to be screened are three films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni:

    Meital Cohen Navarro

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Meital Cohen Navarro is an award-winning, Israeli-born narrative and documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles.

    Navarro makes her Cannes debut with the screening of Over My Dead Body, the story of a young Jewish Persian-American woman, who reveals to her parents that her fiancé is Muslim right after announcing her engagement. Her parents are devastated by the news and give her an ultimatum: her fiancé or her family. The film explores the internal conflict surrounding a family of Jewish immigrants from Iran now living in Los Angeles.


    Navarro spoke with NYFA about shooting a film in a foreign language, the importance of cinema at a time like this and how food brings us together.

    Dr. Ariel Orama López

    NYFA Acting for Film Alum Dr. Ariel Orama López is an award winning filmmaker, actor and producer. His film 2ḦOOM [Zoom], a live-action/animation hybrid short film filmed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic centered on the lives of two brothers who reconnect using Zoom, is finally getting it in-person screening at The American Pavilion. The selection of 2ḦOOM for the Emerging Filmmakers Showcase marks the first time a short film filmed and created by a Puerto Rican person is screened at The American Pavilion.

    Dr. Ariel Orama López spoke with NYFA about the inspiration behind 2ḦOOM and filming during a pandemic. Read the interview here.

    Lopez is no stranger to the festival circuit, his film One, about Hurricane Maria and its impact on Puerto Rico in 2017 won 36 international laurels and ten international prizes.

    Robby Sun

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking alum Yueh-Tzu “Robby” Sun is a Taiwan-born filmmaker and writer with experience as a director and editor. Sun’s film, A-Tien, is about a freelance taxi driver who is upset by a big 5-Star taxi company snatching customers and decides to form a protest.


    Meital Cohen Navarro on the red carpet.

    NYFA Alumni Dr. Ariel Orama López and Robby Sun at the American Pavilion.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Meital Cohen Navarro, Dr. Ariel Orama López and Robby Sun on their screenings and their success!


    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.


    May 26, 2022 • Film Festivals • Views: 163

  • “Unsettled History: America, China, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid” by Broadcast Journalism Chair Emeritus Bill Einreinhofer Premieres at the NYFA New York City Campus Theater


    On May 18, New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism Chair Emeritus Bill Einreinhofer premiered his new documentary Unsettled History: America, China, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid at the NYFA New York City Campus Theater. The documentary examines a key moment in American/Chinese history, exploring how the two sides remember this shared event in different ways, the reasons for this divergence and what lessons it may hold today. Recounted by children of the Raiders and their Chinese rescuers, the documentary offers emotional insights that only family members can provide.

    Chinese Consul General Huang Ping from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, along with Ms. Chen Chunmei, Cultural Counselor, and other members of the Cultural Section at the Consulate General attended the screening. Michael Young, NYFA President; Dr. Joy Zhu, NYFA Executive Vice President, China Region; Bill Einreinhofer; NYFA faculty; and crew members of Unsettled History also attended the event. In his speech, Ambassador Huang Ping said:

    “History is a very good mirror. I think we need to draw [on] a few experiences and lessons from history. By telling the story of Flying Tigers and the Doolittle Raid, I believe we know that by working together, China and the US, we can do a lot of incredible things, big things. You know, working together. And by revealing the story, we know the friendships between our two countries and peoples are deeply rooted in the hearts of both sides.”

    Michael Young, President of the New York Film Academy, recalled the nearly 15 years of collaboration between the New York Film Academy and Chinese universities and media groups and expressed his willingness to carry out more collaborative projects in the future. Director and producer, Bill Einreinhofer, recalled some of the touching stories that occurred during the years of filming between China and the United States. He said the eighty American pilots who risked their lives to go on the mission are deserving heroes; the people of Jiangxi and Zhejiang, who sacrificed their lives to help the American pilots, are equally heroic. An estimated 250,000 Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese during their search for Doolittle’s men.

    On the same day, the Chinese Consulate General in New York also handed over more than 20 classic Chinese films from the 1980s to NYFA as teaching materials.

    Unsettled History: America, China, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid has now been aired on more than 40 local channels in the United States and is scheduled to be aired on WORLD Channel on May 30 in 190 U.S. stations as a part of Memorial Day weekend special programming.


    May 26, 2022 • Broadcast Journalism, China, Community Highlights • Views: 344

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum Natasha Thahane Stars in Netflix Film


    NYFA Acting for Film alum Natasha Thahane is a South African actress and model known for her work in Blood & Water, The Queen and many more prominent South African shows.

    Last year, Thahane added another project to her filmography, Kedibone, now streaming on Netflix.

    Kedibone follows a Sotho girl, Kedibone Manamela, who moves to Johannesburg to study acting with the help of her boyfriend’s financial support. Shortly after making the move, Kedibone falls in with a crowd of “cool kids” and becomes Johannesburg’s new “it” girl; but things take a turn for the worse when Kedibone’s new lifestyle reaches her boyfriend’s ears.

    Thahane was nominated for best actress at the Netherland’s Septimius Awards for her work in Kedibone.



    Prior to attending NYFA’s 1-Year Acting for Film program in New York City, Thahane studied accounting with hopes of becoming a Certified Accountant. However, Thahane’s passion for acting was still present and she would even miss class sometimes to go to auditions. After getting representation and booking roles like Wendy on Blood and Water and Amogelang Maake on The Queen, Thahane decided that she wanted to invest in her craft and made the move to New York to study at the New York Film Academy.



    Since graduating, Thahane has continued to work on projects in and around South Africa and even has a partnership with Garnier Fructis and just last week, she began shooting for the third season of Blood & Water. But Thahane wants more, during an interview with MacG of Podcast & Chill she shared that she wants to be known internationally as a director and has even started her own production company Thahane Media. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Natasha Thahane on all of her work. We look forward to seeing her performance on Kedibone and Blood & Water!


    May 26, 2022 • Acting • Views: 166

  • Q&A with NYFA Australia Acting Alum Prem Sagar


    NYFA Australia Acting for Film Alum Prem Sagar is an actor, dancer of various disciplines. Sagar studied at The Temple of Fine Arts in Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur. There, he learned and performed a variety of traditional dance forms, including Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Zapin, and many more. After completing his studies at The Temple of Fine Arts, he moved to Kuala Lumpur, where he developed a passion for the stage and began his theater training. 

    After several years of performing as a dancer and theater actor, Sagar decided to further his education at the New York Film Academy Australia.

    While studying at NYFAA Sagar worked on Dome House Six, a film by NYFAA alum Stephen Osborne that screened at the Gold Coast Film Festival in 2022. Sagar spoke with NYFA about his passion for dancing and acting, the value of a theater background and what his studies have taught him. 


    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What brought you to the New York Film Academy? 

    Prem Sagar (PS): My journey has been such a weird journey. I always thought I was going to be a dancer because I was a classical Indian dancer for about 25 years. But I always felt like I was missing something. I got an opportunity back home in Malaysia to be an extra on a movie set and then I was bitten by the acting bug as they say. Everything I have done prior to that, I had trained for. I had knowledge in what I was doing but with acting I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. It just so happened that NYFAA had an open day, I attended and then I immediately just signed on because I’ve always been a person who loves practical learning more than theoretical learning and NYFAA is very practical.

    NYFA: What are some of your artistic inspirations, your favorite actors or your favorite era in cinema history?

    PS: Malay actor Pram Lee is looked upon as one of the legends of cinema and TV back home in Malaysia. He brought a lot of change into the cinema world. Even today you can watch his films and they stand the test of time. Some other actors I loved watching when I was growing up and still do: Denzel Washington, Robert Sheehan, Michael Fassbender. 

    NYFA: What do you hope that people take with them after seeing your work in Dome House Six

    PS: I’ve always said, even when I used to play characters in stage plays and musicals, I want to be remembered as an actor that played a diverse range of characters and roles convincingly. I hope Micah makes them feel something emotionally and mentally as they are watching Dome House Six; and I hope they remember my performance in Dome House Six for many years to come. 

    NYFA: What did you like most about the script when you first read it and what stood out the most about your character? 

    PS: When I first read the script, it was so fresh and so unique. I was blown away. It’s so character driven and I don’t think I have read or watched something like it before. I was like, this is real because trying to find or do something fresh and original is difficult.There’s not so much originality left in the world. Whatever we do, it is basically something we’ve seen or heard from somewhere else but the script it was so fresh and unique for me.

    My character Micah is a man of many, many layers, and I love characters like that. It gives you the opportunity to build and add so much of yourself and depth to the character. For example, Micah loves routine, loves to have everything in control and those qualities are very much alive in me: I love my routine, I love being in control of my outcome and everything.

    NYFA: What was the audition process like? 

    PS: Stephen [Osborne] messaged me one day and said, ‘hey, do you want to come over for a read?’ He had written this script and he wanted to hear voices for his characters. So I said, ‘Yeah, cool, I’ll come over and help.’ And then when I got there, he said, ‘Oh, by the way, this is your audition, so no pressure.’ A week or two after that, he messaged me again and asked me to send him a self tape. I did that. A week after that, I had a chemistry read with two different actresses and then after the chemistry reading he reached out and said I got the role.

    NYFA: And what was your experience making the film with another NYFAA alum?

    PS: It was really just amazing. Stephen is a legend. I’ve known him for almost three years now and even before meeting him, I’ve only ever heard people say amazing things about him. On set, he was very thorough with his work. He gave each of us the space and time to get into character, he was very specific about what he wanted and he gently nudged us where we needed to be. It’s just been a dream to work with him. Look out for his name in the future is what I’m trying to say.

    NYFA: What has been your favorite project so far?

    PS: Definitely Dome House Six. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFAA that you applied directly to this project or other projects that you’ve done?

    PS: Well, I applied basically everything that I’ve been taught at NYFAA because I came into the acting world with zero knowledge about screen acting.

    NYFA: What did NYFA help you understand about acting? 

    PS: I learned so much. It’s not just learning your lines and delivering it in front of the camera. It’s so much more. It’s building your character, building another human being with the essence of yourself. 

    NYFA: Anything else you have to say? 

    PS:I would say that if you’re doing this program, if you want to be an actor, get into theater as well because that has helped me so much. One of my teachers said, ‘it’s easier to bring down an actor that is giving too much. I find it easier to ask him to contain it a bit more; but if the actor is not giving anything at all, it’ll be more difficult to bring something out of them.’ I think theater training helps in that aspect a lot. It definitely gives you a step up one up over everyone else who doesn’t do theater.

    The New York Film Academy is proud of Prem Sagar and all of his accomplishments! We look forward to seeing more of his work.


    May 23, 2022 • Acting, NYFA Australia • Views: 208

  • NYFA Acting Alum Adlih Torres Debuts in Final Season of This is Us


    NYFA Acting Alum Adlih Torres Debuts in Final Season of This is Us

    May 20, 2022

    In 2015, writer Dan Fogelman began developing This is Us as an 80-page movie script for ABC Studios. In 2016, This is Us premiered as a series on NBC, focused on the lives of siblings as they combat personal struggles of body image, race, addiction and more while also dealing with the death of their father. The show and its cast have received great praise, winning multiple awards including, an Emmy award, NAACP Image Award, a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performances.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum Adlih Torres is a Puerto Rican actress who spent some time in Spain before moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Torres graduated in December 2021, a month later she booked her very first role on national TV, Beatriz on NBC’s This is Us. She spoke with NYFA about the work that inspires her and the pursuit of more Latinx representation.

    What brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    I wanted to study acting and go to Los Angeles. The New York Film Academy popped up as an ad while I was watching a movie on my phone. Once I looked into it, I was convinced it was destiny and I had to go to LA to NYFA.

    What made you fall in love with film and TV?

    Alot! Starting with Barney and Friends, everything on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. As well as anything Angelina Jolie was in, anything Johnny Depp was in. They made me want to be like them and be a part of their world.

    What are some of your artistic inspirations?

    Everyday life actually. I find inspiration in everyday life, the people I’ve met around the world, the situations I’ve been in and situations my friends have been in, all of it ties together.

    What do you hope people take with them after watching your performance in This is Us?

    I want people to know that this is only the beginning and that more representation of Latinx people is on the way.

    What was the audition process like for This is Us? How did you prepare?

    I believe I had like less than 72 hours before the deadline. I got the audition while I was at work at night and I freaked out. I reached out to my coaches and we got to film the next day late at night but I didn’t get my footage until the next morning when it was submitted. I didn’t hear back until the next day at my other job and I freaked! The process itself, it was fun. I blasted Bad Bunny on my way to coaching and during the self tape, I just had fun. I brought a lot of my own personal experiences to the character.

    What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work and to your work on This is Us?

    I used what I had learned about on-set etiquette. While at NYFA, I learned how a set works, what goes on while shooting and the preparation for a take. Those things definitely helped me feel more at ease, more at home when I got to the set of This Is Us.

    NYFA Acting Alum Adlih Torres Debuts in Final Season of This is Us NYFA Acting Alum Adlih Torres Debuts in Final Season of This is Us


    What was your favorite part of working on This is Us?

    Meeting the rest of the cast in the scene with me, meeting the director Zetna Fuentes and the writer of the episode, Jonny Gomez. They are all amazing people and I felt right at home. 12 hours on set felt like 3 hours!

    What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on? Do you have any projects coming up?

    As of now, I’m just auditioning and working on my craft. I’m in the pre-production stage of my short film Where The Fish Swim and we’re getting ready for filming.

    What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    The advice I would give is, don’t worry about other people and what they’re doing. Focus on yourself and your craft. Put in double the work. Go above and beyond, don’t just do the bare minimum. Plan out the props for the wardrobe, trust me it will help! And also, a lot of people will tell you different things, including teachers. Just take it in, see what resonated with you and give it a go! And most importantly, it’s okay to fail. I have failed multiple times in life as well as academically, but I never gave up.

    The New York Film Academy is proud of all Adlih has accomplished in such a short time. We look forward to seeing her performance on This is Us on Tuesday, May 24th at 9pm on NBC.


    May 20, 2022 • Acting • Views: 11

  • Q&A with ‘Station Eleven’ Showrunner Patrick Sommerville


    Q&A with ‘Station Eleven’ Showrunner Patrick Sommerville


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with STATION ELEVEN Showrunner PATRICK SOMERVILLE to discuss the writers room, the importance of having a voice in Hollywood and bad drafts, with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Patrick Somerville is a successful novelist and screenwriter with a television deal at Paramount Television Studios. His most recent work includes the hit mini-series, Station Eleven, which he created, based on the best selling novel by Emily St. John Mandel. He wrote and executive produced the show and received rave reviews for the series. Station Eleven was nominated for a Peabody Entertainment Award, and Somerville was nominated for
    a USC Scripter Award.

    He also created, wrote, and executive produced the critically acclaimed Maniac series, starring A-list actors Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. The film received two nominations from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Producers Guild of America (PGA). Somerville also served as writer/producer on the HBO drama The Leftovers starring Justin Theroux and got his start in television writing on the FX drama The Bridge and FOX’s 24: Live Another Day.

    Somerville’s writing appeared in The New York Times, GQ, and Esquire. He is a MacDowell Fellow and the winner of the 2009 21st Century Award, an honor awarded annually by the Chicago Public Library.

    He grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and later earned his MFA from Cornell University.

    During the Q&A, Patrick Somerville shared that as a young boy in Green Bay, Wisconsin he made movies with hi-8 camcorders. He would then edit them using VHS. The guest’s ambitions of being a director started early on, but growing up in Wisconsin, limited in his connection to Hollywood, he transitioned his career ambitions to writing because, “I can do that by myself,” Somerville shared. Fiction did not require the kind of connections necessary to make movies in Hollywood.

    Somerville went on to write two collections of short stories, Trouble (2006) and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature (2010) before getting agent representation. He also wrote two novels, The Cradle (2009) and This Bright River (2012). The Cradle was nominated for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Award. It was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick for Spring 2009, a Target Emerging Writers Pick, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. This Bright River was a New York Times Editor’s Choice as well, and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature was short-listed for the 2010 Story Prize.

    After cold calling publishers, he got published. He was then contacted by an agent who recommended Somerville try screenwriting. After which, he wrote a pilot out of a short story he had in mind, and submitted it to Hollywood agents and managers who loved it. He won his first writing job for The Bridge, an FX drama series that follows two cops as they hunt down a serial killer.

    When asked the difference between a writer and story editor, Somerville stated, “there is none. It means nothing. There’s a hierarchical tier in the writer’s room and the bottom rung is the staff writer followed by the story editor.” After a year in a writer’s room, a writer graduates to story editor, followed by executive producer and co-producer. “It’s a tiered, hierarchical ranking system.”

    Hindsight is 20/20; Somerville remarks that what made a difference in his career was: time! “The advantage that I had was that I wasn’t 23, I was 33. I was always very ambitious in my twenties … my ambition outpaced my technical skill.” Somerville spent some of his career as an educator and as a teacher, he exercised skills in listening, collaboration, and group work. It turns out his work as an educator was preparing Somerville for the writer’s room. The
    writer’s room is a breeding ground for ideas.
    Pitching, collaborating and knowing how to navigate group dynamics are essential skills. “I think it’s important to listen to ideas that aren’t yours, a lot; and to ask yourself why you don’t think they’re good or why you do think they’re good.”

    Throughout the conversation Somerville encouraged students to have a voice, to bring themselves to the writing, “make sure you’re there in the script somehow … you gotta flash who you are,” stated Somerville. The guest insists on the importance of tone as well, reminding the audience that when a producer is reading a script it needs to be brought to life. Similar to fiction, a good story should jump off of the page.

    When asked about writer’s block and how to combat it Somerville said, “On the days when you don’t feel like you’re good enough, write a couple of things anyways. The critic in you should not be empowered to tell you that you’re not a good writer.” In regards to not knowing where a piece is going, Somerville says,
    “write a bad draft anyways … When you get to the end of the thing, you learn about the thing and then you go back..”

    Somerville was adamant about the contribution of the creative crew behind Station Eleven. Citing the collaboration of the cinematographers, costume designers, lighting crew and music, as a huge component of the show’s success and hoping that both the students and the voting EMMY members will recognize their talents.

    New York Film Academy and Tova Laiter would like to thank Patrick Somerville for sharing his time and writing experience with NYFA students and alumni.

    You can watch the full conversation in the video below:


    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career
    outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on
    multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work,
    perseverance, talent and circumstances.


    May 20, 2022 • Screenwriting • Views: 207

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Sidney Esiri’s First Feature Film


    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Sidney Esiri‘s journey has not been linear. Instead, it has wrapped around the Nigerian entertainment industry, health industry and military. Esiri, commonly known as Dr. Sid, is a singer, producer, director and former dentist.

    Prior to working in the music industry, Esiri graduated from the Nigerian Air force Secondary School in Ikeja. Shortly after, he attended the University of Ibadan to study dentistry and dental surgery.

    Esiri is the son of a Nigerian fashion designer and trailblazing actor, Justus Esiri. Justus Esiri is known as a pillar in the Nollywood film industry with a career dating back to the 1960’s. Most notably, he starred in the film adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It is no surprise that his only son, Sidney Esiri, took after him. After several years of making chart-topping music, Esiri starred in his first film The Last 3 Digits in 2013 and made his directorial debut in 2015 with The Application.

    This June, Esiri debuts his first feature film, The Order of Things, in theaters across Nigeria.

    The Order of Things brings humor and levity to the topic of marriage traditions among siblings. The film has been in development since 2017.



    Ahead of the release of the film, Esiri shared the trailer for The Order of Things on Instagram. In the post, he references his time at the New York Film Academy. “7 years ago I attended the @newyorkfilmacademy to learn how to be a filmmaker. In 2022, I’m making my directorial debut, Glory to God 🙏🏾. Please enjoy the #Firstlook of The Order of Things Movie. 


    Sidney Esiri shared with NYFA that the most important thing he learned while studying filmmaking at our NYFA Los Angeles campus was the importance of “putting together the right team with the right work ethic” and the importance of “having the right processes in place to ensure proper workflow. Proper planning and pre-production will make the shooting process easier.” 

    Lastly, Esiri says “NYFA will give you the building blocks needed to express your imagination as well as put you in a space with other creatives that will challenge you to be better.”

    NYFA congratulates Sidney Esiri on all his successes. We look forward to seeing The Order of Things in theaters June 10th, 2022!


    May 16, 2022 • Filmmaking • Views: 212