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  • Cannes International Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers to Screen Life in Color Starring New York Film Academy Alum Ioanna Meli

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    Life in Color is an official selection in the 2018 Cannes International Film Festival Emerging LGBTQ Filmmakers category, starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ioanna Meli. The film shares a touching portrait of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long-lost love of his life. The film is directed by Bishal Dutta, who also wrote it together with Matt McClelland. Along with the prestigious honor of screening at Cannes, the film has shown as part of the Silicon Beach Film Festival in LA.

     

    In the midst of all the excitement, Meli took the time to sit down with the NYFA Blog to talk about the film, screening at Cannes, and what’s next.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your film at Cannes and your role?

    IM: Life in Color was created by a collective of young artists and it tells the story of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long lost love of his life. Working with the team and developing the role of Beth, the daughter, was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an actor so far. Beth’s torment in trying to understand her father and the childhood she was deprived of, while fighting her own beliefs was a challenging journey to go on to. And to be honest, I always feel a little extra lucky getting to work with directors as generous as Bishal Dutta; his direction was insightful and clear, yet allowed for the building of the characters and the relationships between them to develop organically.

    NYFA: How did you come to this project? What inspired you about it?

    IM: I submitted myself through the breakdowns and was called in to read for Beth. The sides I read at the audition and callback were an excerpt from the script at the time; even though it was an early draft, it was clear that both the scenes and the characters were constructed in-depth. The final script is also characterized by minimal dialogue, and that’s definitely one of the most inspiring parts for me — the storytelling that happens without the need for too many words. I got a sense of Beth’s character from the beginning, and her struggle in finding the right way to help her father intrigued me. Most importantly, the story touches upon sensitive issues that are most relevant in our world today and is told in such a way that really draws the audience into the characters’ conflicting realities. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of telling this story.

    LIFE IN COLOR – Trailer from Bishal Dutta on Vimeo.

    NYFA: Are you attending Cannes? Or, can you speak to what this experience means to you?

    IM: It’s still barely sinking in but yes, I will be attending Cannes! I’m not sure how to express how much this means to me. I am excited beyond words, but it’s also a little unreal. I realized that every time I imagined participating in such an event, I pictured myself older. I guess I thought that the chances of getting there would be higher later on in my career. But here we are now, and all of a sudden I get to attend Cannes for the first time with a short film I am so proud to be a part of. I’m looking forward to screening our work in such a unique environment as part of the Emerging Filmmakers LGBTW Showcase; to experiencing this magnificent festival to the fullest in the company of a great group of young artists; to exploring all it has to offer and meeting fellow professionals from around the world. Preparing for this trip to be able to make the most of this opportunity is what I’m focused on right now. But also looking forward to the french croissants, if I’m honest.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    IM: I was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where I would perform on stage at school as well as with the school choir around Europe. I got to experience the world of performance through that, but also because we grew up always playing music all together and going to the theatre with my family. Studying theatre arts was something that came naturally to me; I went on to get my undergraduate degree in drama and theatre arts from Goldsmiths College University of London, and that helped me build a strong base as a performer and creator. Before graduating, I was cast as the lead in the Greek feature film Elvis’ Last Song, which had a very successful festival run, and it was what introduced me to the world of acting on camera. I knew right then that it was what I wanted to train in further; I looked for a graduate program in Acting for Film and that led me to NYFA. Soon after, I moved to Los Angeles, completed my MFA at NYFA, and I was later in the first ever group to graduate from UCLA’s Professional Program in Acting for Camera. Today, I am truly grateful to say that I have seen my work be recognized at Festivals around the world and to have worked with masters such as Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s a business where you definitely take one step at a time, and I still have a million of those I want to take. But now, it’s time for Cannes!

    NYFA: What’s next for you after Cannes?

    IM: We just held a private screening of a pilot for our TV series Dirty Laundry. It’s a dramedy about a dysfunctional family of sorts, comprised of people from different walks of life who form a support group at a local laundromat. In that, I play a cheerful kindergarten teacher, Annie, who is trying to help her older sister survive the sudden death of her husband. The concept is unique and the screening was received enthusiastically by the audience; the production team will begin pitching the show later this month. Other than that, I’m currently completing my own script for a pilot of a comedic series that I want to shoot in Greece and in Los Angeles. I’ll have more information to share about that soon! I’m trying to keep my website updated with everything that’s going on, so go to www.ioannameli.com to stay posted!

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    April 30, 2018 • Acting • Views: 479

  • Life is Beautiful for New York Film Academy Acting for Film Alum Giorgio Cantarini

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    Not many aspiring actors get to spend childhood performing alongside Russell Crowe and Roberto Benigni in international megahits like The Gladiator and Life is Beautiful, but New York Film Academy alum Giorgio Cantarini did.

    You may recognize Cantarini as the spontaneous, cherubic child actor who not only held his own but represented the emotional heart of each of those acclaimed films, but Cantarini has grown quite a bit since then — including in his acting technique. Wrapping up his studies at the NYFA New York Acting Conservatory, Cantarini sat down to share some of his insights with the NYFA Blog. Check out his incredible story.*

    *This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

    NYFA: You’ve been acting since you were 5 years old in Life is Beautiful, can just tell us a little bit about how you came to that film?

    GC: There was an article in the newspaper with casting description of the kids that they were looking for, and my uncle saw the description and was like, “Giorgio it’s the same as you, you have to go to the audition,” and so we went.

    … At the auditions I never acted. Roberto Benigni just wanted to talk with me and see how I reacted. And then of course on the set they explained to me the scene, what was happening.

    NYFA: From the time that you were working on Life is Beautiful through school, did you do any kind of school work involving acting?

    GC: After Life is Beautiful, after The Gladiator, growing up I didn’t want to be an actor because my role in Life is Beautiful was really attached to me … but then after high school everyone told me how talented I was, so I said to myself, okay, let’s see if really I have this talent. I went to Rome to enter a very selective school. Every year like 700 people try to get in and they choose 12: six girls and six guys. So when I was admitted I was really happy.

    I started acting because someone choose it for me, but now it was my choice, and this was a very big step for me to continue, and to discover that I’m good, and now I could study to be a professional, complete actor.

    NYFA:  How was your time studying with the New York Film Academy?

    GC: I had a really great month at NYFA, one of the best experience in my life — for the city, for everything, for New York, for the people.

    The standard is very different than the teaching approach in Italy. It is very different. It’s smart to direct small groups, and just do it, don’t think about it — do it, just do it!

    I really like NYFA a lot because of the action, and the professors too. The energy! I think that they have a lot of students every month, every year, a lot of different students — but every day they come in the class with the with a great energy, to work with you and do the best for you every single day. Seeing teachers every time have good energy, positive energy, and smiling, was inspiring.

    NYFA:  When you’re looking back at your experience at NYFA, is there anything you learned that you feel you’re going to take with you in your future career?

    GC: The technique from NYFA instructors Blanche Baker, Peter Allen Stone, and Victor Verhaeghe, and the scene analysis — truly, the class most important for me was Alison Hodge’s technique.

    NYFA: What inspires your work? Is there a specific film or actor that you always go to?

    GC: For me, Dustin Hoffman. Dustin Hoffman is ideal. When I watched The Graduate, I thought, “What a movie! What an actor.” I was impressed with Dustin Hoffman, he is my idol now and before. He’s a special actor…

     

    NYFA: Can you tell me a little bit about your film Il Dottore del Pesci (The Fish Doctor)?

    GC: The story is about a guy that has a fish shop, but he doesn’t sell the fish; he takes care of the fish. If someone goes out of town, the people can leave the fish with him and he’ll take care of them. His life is with the fishes. One day an American person from a TV network meets him and thinks he is perfect for a show about the the weirdest jobs in the world, like a freak show. My character’s English isn’t great, so he confuses the question and says yes without realizing what he’s signing up for.

    Life changes for him. He used to talk to a lot of people in a really, really small city, with a lot of old people. He has no family. And suddenly he’s in the U.S. and he’s really emotional. And I can’t tell you the finale but it’s so lovely.

    NYFA: Overall is there any advice that you would give to people that are interested in going into acting?

    GC: If you want to be an actor, you have to study a lot. Especially now, because with Netflix and YouTube and the web, a lot of people want to be an actor. Anyone can put his work on on the web, but that’s not a real actor. You bring the art with you.

    It takes a lot of study to understand and know who you are. To be a great actor, you have to know who you are. That’s the main reason that I am here in New York — I want to see when I leave home, and speak in another language with other people, who am I?

    It really was different here. I was different. I don’t know why, but this city or this situation with the school and the feeling with the classmates really gave me a new energy. New perspective, you know? New experiences. To be open and always beautiful. I love it.

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    GC: I’m returning to Italy to start the second part of my scholarship, a theatre production that works with the people that were in prison, to be an actor and assistant director.

    Then, my next project will be to move to New York after the summer. I’m starting the process.  I want to come here now because, while I have an agent in France and Switzerland, I’d like to start a new journey in New York.

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  • From Navy SEAL to 12 Strong With New York Film Academy Alum Kenny Sheard

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    Few people have the grit and the determination to become a Navy SEAL, but New York Film Academy alum Kenny Sheard has shown that no matter what he sets his mind to, he brings in the full force of his incredible work ethic, talent, and stamina. After honorably serving in the Navy for 12 years and attaining a place with the world famous, elite Navy SEALS, Sheard has managed to forge an entirely new and challenging path for himself in the civilian world as an actor and stunt performer in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and series.

    Sheard booked his first stunt job in the Transformers franchise while still actively serving in the reserves, and from there, came to NYFA to master new skills in Filmmaking. Since then, his creative career has skyrocketed, with stunt credits in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fear of the Walking Dead, Logan, and the upcoming Avatar 2, among many many more. His acting credits continue to build up as well, with his most recent appearance alongside Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong, now available to stream on Amazon.

    NYFA alum Kenny Sheard via IMDB

    Through it all, Sheard has worked hard to keep learning, stay humble, and encourage fellow veterans as they transition to civilian life. Here, he shares his best advice and some of his story with the NYFA Blog. Check out what he has to say:

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    KS: I’m originally from Miami, FL, and attended College in Newburg, NY, for a few years, but didn’t finish. I moved home, joined the military in May of 2001, and served on active duty until May 2013. In 2010, while assigned to a training command, I was given an opportunity to use my saved up leave (vacation time) to play a minor stunt/acting role on Transformers 3. That experience and a multitude of things that followed are what ultimately lead me to the Filmmaking course at NYFA.

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most about film? What stories are you most passionate to tell?

    KS: Films have entertained and inspired me as far back as I can recall. I enjoy reading; however, films have had a more substantial impact on me. In my experience, I’m able to feel and perceive the world through this visual medium in ways that I might not ever have had the chance to, like through a mother’s loving eyes or a tormented serial killer. Personally, I prefer fiction over reality-based stories. That said, some of the most influential films I’ve seen have also been “based on true story” movies. The stories I’m passionate to tell lean on the darker and grittier side.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    KS: I don’t have any favorite standout moments, but I got a ton out of the experience. The teachers were knowledgeable and went above and beyond.

    NYFA: As a veteran, what is your best advice to fellow veterans and active service members interested in transitioning into the visual and performing arts?

    KS: My advice would be to stay focused on your goals/dreams, be true to who you are always, and destroy the ego. Use the discipline, structure, and attention to detail you’ve acquired from your time of service and apply it to your new creative ventures in life.

    Have a work hard, hustle attitude, with a positive and open mind. Don’t ever hang your choice to serve over anyone’s head, ever.

    Sounds like a cheesy poster, but hey, get after it!

    NFYA: You launched your career in the Transformers franchise while still serving in the reserves. What was that experience like?

    KS: Being a part of Transformers was awesome. I met Michael Bay and Harry Humphries through a friend, Echy.

    I can’t say enough great things about Bay and being exposed to a film set like that. I enjoyed every moment, and it came at a time when I had no idea what to do next in life. If I tried to put words to the whole experience and what it’s meant to me, it would degrade it.

    NYFA: You’ve worked in some incredibly successful, major films — from John Wick to 13 Hours and Transformers: Age of Extinction. What is your best advice to our students to prepare for the transition from school to a large-scale blockbuster set?

    KS: That’s a tough one. I think some people get it, and some don’t. I can’t imagine anything I write here might shatter any glass for readers. See my advice to veterans; it applies to all.

    NYFA: Acting and stunts — how does your preparation process change depending on your work?

    KS: These are two very different worlds, which I’m on the bottom of the barrel in both. When it comes to acting, I’m just playing myself. Other than knowing my lines, which have yet to be extensive, there’s not a ton of prep for me.

    Stunts, on the other hand, require a ton of prep. I think I need to point out here that I’m relatively green in the stunt world. The pool of talent I’ve had the honor of working with in the stunt world is insane, and I’m far from being considered anyone of a high caliber. My tactical background has helped me out tremendously, but I’m still learning a ton every project I’m on.

    NYFA: What is your favorite part of working in stunts? Have there been any surprises and challenges along the way, and how do you overcome them?

    KS: My favorite part of working in the stunt community has been the people. Every project I’m on, I’m always impressed with the talent and comradery. I can’t say that I’ve ever been surprised, but it’s always challenging and fun.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about 12 Strong? What was that filming experience like?

    KS: 12 Strong was an outstanding experience. From meeting the guys whom the story was about, to working with all the talented actors and stunt team, it was awesome. I wouldn’t know where to start, the director and producers were solid to work for as well.

    It’s a hard thing telling a true story, and I think Nicolai Fuglsig did an exceptional job. The men who the story is about were very pleased with it, and you can’t ask for anything better than that. I was deeply honored to play Bill Bennett, a medic who later lost his life overseas in Iraq in 2003.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kenny Sheard for taking the time to share his story with the NYFA community. 12 Strong is available to stream on Amazon.

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  • Shivalik Shankar’s Film Let Me Be Supports World Autism Month

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    Did you know that April is World Autism Month? This week kicked off with World Autism Day, an event where, as Autism Speaks explained, “hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world, light blue in recognition of people living with autism.”

    With the world coming together in blue light for World Autism Day, New York Film Academy BFA Filmmaking grad Shivalik Shankar went a step further to promote awareness and advocacy for autism yesterday, with his film Let Me Be.

    Shankar directed and co-wrote the short film, which follows an autistic teenager who asserts his independence and expresses his needs by escaping from a day care program to visit the beach. It’s a touching story that depicts many perspectives, including the struggles of the teenager’s parents to manage his care as well as the teen’s struggle for autonomy and acceptance

    The themes of acceptance and awareness run deep in Shivalik Shankar’s filmography, with numerous mental health and disability topics depicted in his work.

    The rising filmmaker told Chandigarh’s Daily Pioneer, “I like a strong storyline, a message to spread across, and autism is one issue which needs to be understood better and across all societies.”

    Bravo! It’s always inspiring to see our alums putting their storytelling skills to work for a purpose. If you’d like to become involved in World Autism Month, visit Autism Speaks.

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  • Photography Grad Venkata “Venky” Krishna Ganesan Rocks 24 Straight Hours of Street Photography in Times Square

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    From his hometown of Chennai to his recent 24 Hours in Times Square project, one thing that never changes for street photographer and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Conservatory grad Venkata “Venky” Krishnan Ganesan is keeping an open mind. The artist recently challenged himself to spend 24-hours straight, out on the streets in New York City, convincing perfect strangers to let him take their portrait on a chilly winter day (20°!). No wonder this enterprising photographer won the Best of Manhattan Award for Photographer 2017.

    Ganesan is hoping to set an official record with his marathon 24-hour portrait session on the streets of New York, during which he told Fstoppers he blasted through:

    • 2.5 liters of water
    • 3 energy bars
    • 5 cups of coffee
    • 15.9 miles (walking back and forth between Duffy Square to Times Square)
    • 1,000 strangers
    • 680 portraits

    Now, the Photography Conservatory grad tells the NYFA Blog about his process behind his herculean street photography project, his approach to art, and what’s coming next.

    NYFA: What inspired your 24 Hours in Time Square project?

    VKG: The idea is been in my mind for a long period of time. It was more of a goal I wanted to achieve as a test of endurance: Will I be able to stand and talk to a whole bunch of strangers for 24 hours straight, and convince them to get a portrait done in less than a min?

    NYFA: What surprised you the most? What did you learn through this experience?

    VKG: Learning how to handle rejection was very important for growth. Everyone talks about failure. I think if you are open to rejections and you will never have failure.

    I was surprised that I was able to handle rejection for 24 hours non-stop.  

    NYFA: What is your key advice to students interested in street photography?

    VKG: Sometimes you have to be more of a business person than an artist. If you need something, you ask for it and you will get it.

    My advice would be stop clicking pictures with the camera and start clicking with your mind. You will get better pictures.

    NYFA: As a street photographer in these extreme conditions, what were your strategies for endurance? And how did you select your subjects?

    VKG: Endurance will follow with excitement. I am always excited to click pictures of people I can never do that will nature. I go with my gut for my subjects and they turn out to be interesting faces.

    NYFA: What inspires you most about street photography?

    VKG: Interactions with lots of people inspire me the most. When you talk to so many people, you get a new perspective in life, and it gets better the more you interact.

    NYFA: How has your approach to photography grown or changed since studying at NYFA?

    VKG: After being a commercial photographer for many years, I had to unlearn what I did in the past. I think unlearning is the key to learning. You always think you know, but you actually don’t. I learned how to look at photography in a different way in terms of becoming an artist and making money. With the help of all my mentors at NYFA, I have become a extremely evolved photographer.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    VKG: I enjoyed every moment in NYFA. That was the most exciting period in my life. You get to see and lean the something new every day.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?

    VKG: I am working on something with which I will be able to give back to other photographers. It’s a website where you can upload your images, and we will help you get your photographs curated. This will help photographers develop their style and introspection.  

    With the 24 Hours project, I will be applying for the book of records and thinking about doing the same project for five more years, and make it into a book of strangers.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you are doing now?

    VKG: It is like the human brain — I use only 7-10 percent of what I learnt at NYFA, but I am trying to use more and see what happens. I use almost all the basic techniques and NYFA gave me a road map on what how and why, which makes me a better photographer.

    Check out all of Ganesan’s 24 Hours in Times Square project page as well as his website, Venky Photography, for more of his work.

     

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  • Filmmaking Grad Jesse Kove Helps Save the World in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

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    It’s not easy forging your own path in independent film, but New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking grad Jesse Kove has blazed a trail straight into the hearts of video game and ‘80s film fans with the upcoming adventure flick Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    The film recently wrapped in Arizona, and Kove took the time out of his busy schedule to tell the NYFA Blog more about his work, his exciting projects, and what’s next. Check out what he has to say:

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    JK: My journey started as a young boy growing up in the film business around my father, (Martin Kove). I was six months old and on movies sets, and I still remember vividly today all the different film sets I’ve been on around the country, and the world that my father brought me along with — traveling with him or visiting him when he was on location was always my favorite thing. It was like going to Disneyland for me, the make-believe. It was always something different, whether [a film was set] in the future or going back in time to the West, I always loved it.

    One of my favorite trips was to India. We had an unforgettable time together. They filmed in Hyderabad, where they literally have a city just for filmmaking. I would travel on my own and walk around and look at all the backdrops and different film sets and feel right at home. I would watch the filmmaking process as well, and ask lots of questions. This was the best education a young filmmaker could get and I was very fortunate to have these opportunities.

    Back home I would make my own little movies with action figures and G.I. Joes. That’s how it all started. I would also copy what I saw in classic movies that my father and I would watch together, The Seventh Samurai, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and Casablanca, all the classics! Making movies is in my blood and its been my passion since early childhood.

    NYFA: Growing up in a show-business family, was there anything that you learned in your time at NYFA that surprised you?

    JK: What I loved so much about NYFA that I didn’t get enough of on film sets was actually learning the basics and history of film cameras, and actually shooting on real film. This was very special, and I was so grateful for NYFA to allow us to do that.

    Also just truly understanding how a digital camera works — the inner workings and technical aspects of all cameras. This is so important, these tools create great filmmakers! It is the knowledge and technology of filmmaking, and they’ve got it down!

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    JK: There are so many memories of when I was at NYFA. The fondest memories were the relationships and time I had with fellow students — who I am still friends with today. In the industry, relationships are everything!

    NYFA: Can you tell us about Max Reload and the Nether Blasters? What drew you to this project?

    JK:  Max Reload and the Nether Blasters:

    A small town video game store clerk must go from zero to hero after accidentally unleashing the forces of evil from a cursed Colecovision game… Max Jenkins’ gaming fantasies collide with reality when a legendary “lost” installment of the Nether Game series appears on the store counter of his workplace, Fallout Games. Unbeknownst to Max, the game bears a “Curse of The Ages”, and in playing it, he has just unlocked the Nether, an ancient malevolent force of evil from the cartridge, upon his small hometown. Along with a mysterious masked man and his two best friends, Liz and Reggie, Max must figure out how to beat the Nether at its own game before its Game Over for humanity.

    This is a great project that I’m very excited about. The inception actually started two years before this film was written. Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp, the writers, directors, and producers, (CineForge Media) had written a short film called Show No Mercy, starring my father and me.

    The idea behind the short was all ‘80s galore and nostalgia: The story follows an arcade store owner (my father) who secretly is John Kreese, his character from The Karate Kid (although never mentioned, that’s a nice Easter egg for everyone), and his young store clerk (me), who both end up getting sucked into an arcade game. They have to fight each other to escape.

    It’s an extremely well done short and I highly recommend everyone go and watch it. The film premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada as well as the Phoenix Comic Fest in Arizona. Making that film was such a fun and creative experience, we all wanted to work together again as soon as possible. Thus, Max Reload came to fruition.

    I got a call from Scott asking if I’d read his new script. I instantly fell in love with it and knew it had huge potential. They had written a character (Steve) basically based on me, but I won’t say too much because you will have to go watch it!

    There are some stellar actors attached to this film, both new and veteran — Greg Grunberg, who is a riot; Hassie Harrison; Lin Shay from the Insidious films; Kevin Smith, who graciously tagged along as he loves indie films, this one caught his eye and we were very lucky to get him; Joseph Reitman; Tom Plumley; Joey Morgan; and of course my father.

    The film will be released around September.

    NYFA: Were you a big fan of video games growing up? Do you have a favorite?

    JK: Absolutely a huge fan of games! Some of my great memories were getting together with my childhood friends and playing games like Halo, 007, NFL Blitz — anything Nintedo 64 was our go-to!  

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you as a performer?

    JK: Acting is such an interesting art. It’s a wonderful journey that’s always changing. I love playing characters that inspire myself and others, I love to make the audience laugh, and I love to tell stories.

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Making movies changes you. You aren’t the same person at the beginning as you are at the end. You’ve learned so much and walked a road that your character has walked in some way, and that connects you forever. It’s living life with these characters: I’ve cried, loved, been through war, kicked ass, been killed and hated, admired, frightened, and have saved lives, plus so much more. It is the hardest but most beautiful, fulfilling work I can ask for and I can’t get enough of it!

    NYFA: What was your experience like serving as both a producer and an actor on As Night Comes?

    JK: As Night Comes was a great experience. I learned a lot from making this film and I owe a lot to my producing partner, Richard Z., who directed and wrote the script for this film. Without him pushing this film up the mountain, it would not have been made. In saying that, I think it’s so important to surround yourself with others who are willing to climb that mountain with you, no matter the odds. I was willing to do that with him.

    We started that movie with literally $200-300 and Subway sandwiches, and finished off by getting a limited theatrical release with our distributor, Gravitas Ventures. We were put on 20 of the 25 major VOD platforms that we have today. That film showed me that anything is possible with enough effort, drive, and belief in what you are doing. Most importantly, you have to have a great script — and we did. That brought a great team behind us.

    Lastly, I love being in front of the camera and behind the camera. Either way, you are still shaping a story. Wearing both hats can be challenging, but I urge everyone to try both. It actually makes you a better actor and or a better director to have been on both sides!

    NYFA: Any advice for our acting students who are looking to produce their own work?   

    JK: Persistence and believing. Believe in what you are doing!

    Through all my experiences, believing in the project, the story, and the character will always carry you through. Making movies is incredibly difficult, and one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. But it is also the most fun you will ever have, from the idea to a year or two later watching it on a screen after post and etc. It’s a journey, and a spiritual journey as well. You are forever connected to that project, and immortalizing something you’ve created … its forever!

    There’s a lot of naysayers in our business, whether it’s about money or what’s popular. Do not take no for an answer. Think outside the box, and get it done!

    When As Night Comes was being made, everyone told us we couldn’t do this or we couldn’t do that. It ended up fueling our passion for getting it made. Yes, you can do that, and yes, you can make your movie, and get it released, and have the world enjoy it!

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Also, this art is a craft. It must be practiced and changed and molded constantly. Keep at it! I still do, and I’m not perfect!

    Also be relentless and fearless. I have been on the phone with some of the biggest studios and top agents and or managers in Hollywood because I wasn’t afraid to pick up the phone and call them. You have nothing to lose.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    JK: I have several projects coming out this year, one of which is Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    Bring Me a Dream, which was shot in Atlanta, is a thriller directed by Chase Smith. I play a cop who stumbles upon a mansion in the woods and gets sucked into a supernatural wave of psychological mystery. It’s a fun take on the Sandman, played by Tyler Mane (X-Men, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II), as a supernatural spirit who injects himself into your dreams and brings out your biggest fears. Very fun!    

    In Bare Knuckle Brawler, directed by Joe Gawalis and filmed in New Jersey, I play a detective who goes undercover as a streetfighter to infiltrate an underground organization in which fighters are turning up dead.

    Next I co-star with my father in a TV pilot called Bloodlands, which follows Arizona detectives who may or may not be on both sides of the law, dealing with drug and human trafficking.

    Also, check out On Wings of Eagles, a World War II drama that I shot in China, starring Joseph Fiennes. It’s the unofficial sequel to Chariots of Fire and now you can watch on Amazon.

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  • New York Film Academy MFA Grad Christian Bulich Writes, Produces, and Stars in ’64 Koufax

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    ‘64 Koufax is an indie film with an important message: relationships matter. Following two brothers as they navigate together through a problematic moment in their relationship, the film has the depth and humanity that can only come from a passion project. Recently spotlighted by Occhi Magazine, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting for Film grad Christian Bulich poured himself into ‘64 Koufax not only by writing the script and portraying the protagonist, but also by producing.

    For the NYFA Blog, Bulich discusses the hurdles and rewards of taking on so many roles within a film production, and how his fellow actors can best poise themselves to successfully produce their own work. Check out what he has to say:

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy’s MFA in Acting for Film program?

    CB: Before I came to NYFA I had mostly done stage work and didn’t really have any real experience with film sets, so I was kind of desperately looking for a school that offered an acting program with a distinctive focus on camera work.

    After finding NYFA through some online research, I spent time going through the website, and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was the right choice for me. The combination of the hands-on experience and the variety of classes that the MFA program consists of was exactly what I was looking for.

    Actually, I remember also getting in touch with some students who were enrolled in one of the programs at NYFA at that time and asking about their experience, and all of them had only positive things to say. So at the end of the day it was a pretty easy choice for me.

    NYFA: Why acting? What makes you passionate about this craft?

    CB: There are so many things that make me passionate about it. I could talk about this topic for days. To make it short, I love this craft because it simply makes me really happy.

    Already at an early age I noticed the satisfying feeling when I was doing plays and working on different characters and just being involved in a creative environment. With time this feeling just became stronger and stronger, and to this day I love finding new things about myself, and that I can connect to the characters that I’m working on.

    I know it might sound cheesy right now but it sometimes actually feels sort of therapeutic to me. Acting makes you think about certain things in a different way, which can be a good thing sometimes.

    NYFA: What was your experience like coming to Los Angeles for acting, all the way from Germany?

    CB: Well, coming to Los Angeles was not my first experience living in the states. I’ve lived in New York before and had some of the most significant experiences in my life out there. But coming to Los Angeles was a bit different compared to New York, since my moving to the west coast was completely acting-related, and nothing else.

    So overall I can say that it’s a completely different world compared to Germany in regard to the acting business. It’s so much faster and more demanding out here, and Hollywood just has so much more to offer than the German market. I guess the variety and the amount of projects that are being produced out here is one of the most attractive aspect of living in LA for me personally.

    But the number one reason why I actually never want to leave this place is that almost everybody I meet shares the same passion for film and the craft in general. To be able to share thoughts and have great conversations with people who love the same thing you love — that’s pretty special.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    CB: The showcase performances and the student-directed plays are definitely my favorite moments.

    There is something special about meeting new people and working with them on a play or a scene for weeks, and then performing it, and afterwards celebrating the success together. You grow really close during those moments, and these people become sort of a second family for you. And that’s exactly who I still keep in touch with even after graduating: students and teachers who were involved in these projects.

    NYFA: What inspired you to create and produce your short film ’64 Koufax?

    CB: All my favorite movies have one thing in common; relationships.

    In my opinion, there is nothing more interesting than the connection between people. A story that deals with relationships between friends, family, couples, or other individuals will always be something that the audience can easily relate to, and maybe find themselves in one of the characters — which as a result might even help with certain personal matters. That was my exact intention with ’64 Koufax.

    Growing up I always had a distinctive view on family and friends and their importance in my life. Nonetheless, I had many fights with some of them about things that might seem stupid now, but back then were very important to me. And because of these disagreements I have lost some very important friends and caused some cracks in relationships with some of my relatives. With time you start realizing that there is nothing more important than these people, and that no matter what you should always hold together through good and bad times.

    The story of ’64 Koufax deals with this message. It shows two brothers going through a very difficult time in their lives, in which both make desperate decisions that affect each other in negative ways. But they realize that without each other there is nothing left, and that they have to do their best and find a way back to each other.

    NYFA: What was the experience like for you in ‘64 Koufax, flowing through so many different roles in production — producer, writer, star? What surprised you most?

    CB: That was not easy! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to become such a difficult affair. The process of writing the story and working on the character of Terry was very inspiring and I had lots of fun doing that, but then I decided to produce that thing and, well … yeah … not as easy as I thought it will be. I guess since I have never produced any films before I overestimated myself a little bit. The production process prior to the shoot was actually not too bad, and everything went mostly as planned. But as soon as we got to set and started shooting, my head was all over the place. I had a difficult time focusing on just the acting part and leaving alone the production part. So every small problem on set became a problem that affected me as a producer.

    Of course, I had great people on set who did an amazing job coordinating everything, but even though I wasn’t actively helping out with set issues my mind was jumping back and forth from being Terry to being Christian the producer. So overall it was a bit of a frustrating experience, because I could’ve done better performance-wise, in my opinion. But I also have to say that I learned a lot throughout that process and definitely grew as a person and actor.

    NYFA: Did producing your own short film change the way you approach acting?

    CB: That’s a good question actually. I haven’t really thought about that. I kind of separated the production process and the acting process completely from each other, or at least I was trying to do that. I think the experience of ’64 Koufax definitely showed me how important it is to have a clear mind on set as an actor.

    NYFA: What is your advice to acting for film students who want to produce their own films?

    CB: Don’t do it! No, I’m just kidding. I think everyone should make this experience and grow from it. So if you decide to produce your own film, I’d suggest you create a clear schedule and always be on time with what you set up to achieve. That way you will have less problems on the day of the shoot and you’ll be able to completely focus on just the acting part.

    Also, choose your crew wisely. Find quality people you trust! That’s the only way you can survive on set with a double duty of acting and producing.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    CB: I’m currently working on two projects that I’m very excited about. The first one is a short film that we’re aiming to shoot in May. It’s a piece about a father-son relationship and their differences in religious beliefs. This film will be directed by Kobus Louw, who also directed ’64 Koufax. We will also have the whole crew of our previous project working with us again, which I’m incredibly excited about.

    The second project we’re currently working on is a feature film that we are planning to shoot in early 2019. It’s a very interesting concept. All I can say about it right now is that it’s a very uncommon love story with it’s own unique genre.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you are doing now?

    CB: Oh, yes! It actually turned out even better than I expected it to be. And I’m not saying that because this is a NYFA Blog interview and I have to say nice things about this school. I honestly feel like I have gained so much useful experience and knowledge during my time at NYFA, which really helps me on daily basis in this industry.

    In addition to that, I have met some of the best teachers at this school that I have ever worked with and some of the most amazing students that I keep creating great content with.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Christian Bulich for sharing his story, and say congratulations on wrapping production on ‘64 Koufax!

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  • CBS Pilot Pandas in New York Stars Ashley Tisdale & New York Film Academy Grad Dhruv Singh

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    New York Film Academy MFA Screenwriting alum Dhruv Singh will star in upcoming CBS pilot Pandas in New York with Ashley Tisdale.

    Dhruv Singh via his website http://www.dhruvudaysingh.com.

    Directed by Big Bang Theory’s DGA Award-nominated Mark Cendrowski, Pandas in New York centers on an empathetic young doctor, Rishi, and his loving if slightly overbearing Indian family — all fellow doctors who run a family practice in Manhattan and just want what they think is best for Rishi.

    NYFA alum Dhruv Singh portrays the series lead, who returns from a year with Doctors Without Borders in Cambodia and decides to pursue his passion for social justice by practicing medicine at a free clinic — a choice which he is trying to hide from his family. Ashley Tisdale plays opposite Singh as the tough but fair-minded clinic director, Maya — and rumor has it that sparks will fly between the two characters.

    According to Deadline, the series will also feature Nisha Munshi, Hina Abdullah, Dan O’Brien, Bernard White and Gita Reddy.

    Along with his training in the MFA Screenwriting program at the NYFA Los Angeles campus, Mumbai native Dhruv Singh has honed his comedy chops at the legendary improv studio UCB. An alumni of the CBS Diversity Showcase 2015, Singh has 22 acting credits to his name, including Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Adam Ruins Everything. He has performed in the ABC Talent Showcase; at UCB Maude night and with Queen George on Harold Night; and with The Groundlings Sunday Company.

    Congratulations, Dhruv! The New York Film Academy looks forward to catching Pandas in New York on CBS.

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  • Senior Executive Vice President David Klein Tours India With New York Film Academy Mumbai

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Mumbai campus celebrated its approaching second year since opening with a special tour by NYFA Senior Executive Vice President David Klein, who toured four cities in India offering NYFA master classes and interviews with numerous media outlets.

    During Klein’s visit to Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kochi, the executive taught his signature master classes on film direction and storytelling, while also answering questions about New York Film Academy and its Mumbai location for cultural and media institutions, from radio and television to print and in-person events.

    “In 2017, we hosted 190 students from India at our Los Angeles and New York campuses,” Klein told Forbes India. “We are sure that there are a lot more students who would want to study at NYFA, but cannot make it to the U.S. for the courses. So we decided to come to them. We go where the demand is.”

    Following a successful year of hands-on short-term programs in Filmmaking and Acting for Film for adults, NYFA Mumbai has expanded its academic programs to offer workshops for teens in film, acting, and photography.

    David Klein told Indiantelevision.com, “The New York Film Academy is very excited to be in India. There is immense creative talent amongst the youth. We look forward to working with bright and creative young minds and fostering their talents in the new-age, digital world. The media and entertainment landscape is rapidly evolving and calls for several new skill sets which we are well placed to teach.”


    As those who have taken a workshop with NYFA know, the workload is considered intensive, meaning students must be prepared to live and breathe the program during their enrollment. The success of this model of education is evidenced by NYFA Mumbai’s alumni — including Warina Hussain, the leading lady of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan’s Loverati.

    Yet of all Klein’s teaching and interviews throughout his time in India, perhaps the most important message he offered to aspiring Indian visual and performing artists is this, from his interview in FilmCompanion:

    “If you have any thoughts that you want to do it, reach out to us, is what I would say to any student. Just by communicating with us doesn’t mean you’re making a commitment to do it. I don’t want anybody to just jump in without properly thinking about it and planning it. If you think this is something you want to do, don’t wait. People are scared sometimes to say ‘I am going to go into the film industry’. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to make a three year commitment. Start small! Do a workshop and then when you love it, decide to go on.”

    Special thanks to the many Indian media outlets and collaborators for their interviews and coverage of David Klein’s visit, including:

    Radio One, Mumbai Choufer, Prahaar – Relax, FilmCampanion, Newshublilve, ETC Bollywood Business, IndianTelevision.com, Indiaeducationdiary.in, Startupsuccessstories.in, The Times of India, New Indian Express, The Hans India, Andhra Jyothi, Telangana Today, Eenadu, Sakshi, Andhra Prabha, Manam, Deshabhimani, Madhyaman, Keralabhooshanam, Varthamanam, Janmabhumi, Future Kerala, Kerala Kaumadi, Keralabhooshanam, Mathrubhumi, Veekshanam, Chadrika, Mangalam, and Suprapradham.


    NYFA Mumbai workshops are held at the Urmi Estate (95 Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, Lower Parel [West] Mumbai, Maharashtra 400 013, India). The Urmi Estate is a modern 41 story skyscraper located in the heart of the city, which is itself the heart of the world’s largest film industry and is the home of Bollywood.

    For those interested in studying in Mumbai, please visit http://www.nyfa.edu/mumbai for more information.

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  • Here’s Where I Stand by New York Film Academy PCMT Plays for Everytown and March for Our Lives

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    As the March for Our Lives Movement conducts rallies and students around the country commemorate the 20th anniversary of Columbine with walkouts on April 20, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT)’s will donate all proceeds from its powerful update of the movie musical Camp’s smash hit Here’s Where I Stand to Everytown for Gun Safety, a charity focused on protecting communities from gun violence. The non-profit organization, first founded by concerned mothers, “is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities,” and has inspired more than 4 million people to “come together to make their own communities safer.” 

    Students from around the country also joined together March 24 in the first March for Our Lives protest, in at least 50 cities throughout the U.S. On that day, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) raised its voice in support. PCMT’s powerful update of the movie musical Camp’s smash hit Here’s Where I Stand is available for digital download on iTunes (go to iTunes Store, not iTunes Music, and search “PCMT”), Google Play, and Bandcamp.

    To download on iTunes, open iTunes Store (not iTunes Music) and search for “PCMT”.

     

    In line with the March for Our Lives rallies and Everytown’s message of community and hope, Here’s Where I Stand offers an empowering message for young people in its lyrics:

    In this life we’ve come so far

    but we’re only who we are (who we are)

    Courage of love (courage of love)

    will show us the way (show us the way)

    From the time PCMT first conceived the Here’s Where I Stand project in October of 2017 to March For Our Lives’ first rally on March 24, there had been 18 school shootings. New York Film Academy students and faculty alike at PCMT have been inspired by the students around the country who are raising their voices for safety and change.

    Here’s Where I Stand is a powerful song that resonates differently for everyone,” says PCMT Artistic Director Kristy Cates.  “It is a song about having the courage to speak your truth and take a stand for what you believe in. As we’ve seen young people around the country respond to the epidemic of gun violence by raising their voices for change, we as musical theatre performers thought this was the perfect way for us to lend our own voices in support this movement.”

    The PCMT’s music video is directed by The New York Film Academy’s PCMT was highlighted by Variety as one of the most cutting-edge musical theatre training programs.

    To download on iTunes, open iTunes Store (not iTunes Music) and search for “PCMT.” To download PCMT’s Here’s Where I Stand to your Apple or Android devices from Google Play or Bandcamp, click the icons below:

     

    If you experience any difficulties downloading the track on iTunes through your phone app, please try your desktop.

    Thank you to the talented students who lent their voices to the song and cause (in alphabetical order):

    Alexandra Attardi, Alyssa Carrigan, Cecilie Kiorbye Bertelsen, Clara Colombo, Damaris Olivo, Ekaterina Chigvintseva, Gabriella Malm, Giuliana Deantoni Tanze, Grace Strickland, Hannah Swanson, Helora Danna Santos da Rosa, Jenna Bruce, Lisbeth Celis, Madeline Mancebo, Majeste Pearson, Maria Cavanaugh, Maria Christina Mosquera, Marije Louise Maliepaard, Micaela Haskins, Michael Baccari, Nathaniel Anderson, Nicole Goldstein, Noah Chartrand, Paige Gittelson, Rebecca Keenan, Ruby Locknar, Ryan Curley, Samuel Beard, Sarah Elizabeth Venners.
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