Author archives

  • 3 Emmy Nominations for “A Girl in the River,” Edited by NYFA Master Class Lecturer Geof Bartz


    “A Girl in the River” has been nominated for three Emmy Awards, including Best Documentary and Best Documentary Short. The HBO documentary was edited by New York Film Academy’s own Master Class Lecturer and Curriculum Advisor Geof Bartz.

    Directed by Sharmeen Obaid, executive produced by Sheila Nevins and Tina Brown, and produced by Lisa Heller, the film follows the story of one woman who survived an “honor killing” attack in her native Pakistan.

    Geof Bartz is Supervising Editor of HBO Documentary Films. “A Girl in the River” marks Geof’s 12th Emmy nomination (with five prior wins). The film won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject, which marked Geof’s fifth Oscar, and director Sharmeen Obaid’s second. It’s an incredible awards season journey that, perhaps even more remarkably, has made a real-world impact.

    First they won the Oscar,” observed NYFA New York Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift. “Then they won the DuPont. Now, the Emmy nomination. Yet the most important and satisfying part of all, is that ‘Girl In The River’ actually inspired the Pakistani government to reconsider their laws.”

    The New York Film Academy will hold a master class with Geof Bartz in early August that will include a special screening of “A Girl in the River.” The film will also serve as a jumping-off point for student instruction and exploration.

    “We’re all looking forward to watching the movie with Geof and discussing the intricacies of creating Oscar-worthy docs,” noted Andrea Swift.

  • NYFA Graphic Design Students Visit Studios of Designers Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic


    This month, New York Film Academy graphic design students visited the studios of Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic. This exciting opportunity was made possible by NYFA faculty Jee-eo​​n Lee, who worked at Glaser’s studio as a young designer.

    The students got a first-hand look at Glaser’s studio and works in progress. They were able to ask questions about the world of design and how Glaser see’s design going forward.

    Glaser is perhaps the most well known graphic designer working today, with an international presence and a reputation as a Renaissance man who has changed the graphic design industry with his uniquely intellectual and creative approach to animation and design. He is the creator of the I (heart) NY logo and was awarded the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

    Students then visited with Mirko Ilic, where they were able to see works in progress and discuss design, activism and protest as seen through the lens of graphic design.

    Ilic’s diverse design career has included holding art director position for Time Magazine International Edition as well as the New York Times Op-Ed pages. He also runs his own firm, Mirk Ilic Corp. His work has been recognized with many awards and in in many collections, including the Smithsonian Museum and MoMA.

    So inspiring to hear such honest insight from both Milton and Mirko,” said NYFA Graphic Design Faculty Member Jee-Eon Lee.


  • NYFA Harvard Musical Theatre Students Create Powerful Music Video Cover of Sia’s “Bird Set Free”


    This summer, NYFA Harvard students from around the world had collaborated and performed in a unique and empowering music video project as part of NYFA’s musical theatre workshops. Performing their own vocals in a cover of Sia’s powerful ballad “Bird Set Free,” students created a piece that celebrates the diverse voices and in our international community, as well as the liberating power of the visual and performing arts.

    NYFA Musical Theatre Instructor Bobby Cronin led the music video project, which is as a part of the NYFA curriculum he developed alongside Musical Theatre Chair Mark Olsen and Shani Patel to help students gain insight into the potential power of musical storytelling in film as well as live theatre.

    “I was blown away by the message the first time I heard the song,” said Bobby, “and I’d since been yearning to use the song in an educational environment. Once I met the students at the New York Film Academy’s summer program at Harvard, I knew this would be the song for our music video.”

    The group brainstormed together, and Bobby suggested the idea of using paper signs to represent an important battle each student felt they had struggled with individually, and the students loved it.

    “We then worked with NYFA’s Shaun Clark who was the DP/cinematographer on the project,” said Bobby. “He was very inspired by our ideas and pitched using videos like [Sinead O’Connor’s] ‘Nothin’ Compares 2 U’ as reference — close shots that give the inner turmoil of the artist. We then discussed that the song is about breaking free of these turmoils, and the idea to use black and white (darkness) transitioning into color (light) became the metaphor for our video.”

    The message of Sia’s song resonated especially with the burgeoning musical theatre performers. Some of the lyrics include:

    “I don’t care if I sing off key

    I find myself in my melodies

    I sing for love

    I sing for me

    I shout it out

    Like a bird set free…”

    The students learned the song under the guidance of musical director William Demaniow, in an arrangement created by Bobby. After recording the song with professional equipment, the faculty and student collaborators filmed the music video, which was poignantly edited by Elise Ahrens.

    “I wanted this video to represent the world we live in today and the dream I have of us all co-existing as a human race,” said Bobby. “And, how as an artist, it is of the utmost importance to create from your soul.”

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Cartier Williams Hoofs With Smirnoff Sound Collective


    New York Film Academy filmmaking alumnus Cartier Williams is drumming up a revival in the world of dance on film with his unique brand of tap dance. Williams is a self-professed “hoofer,” a dancer who loves the element of tap that emphasizes stomps, stamps, syncopation, percussion and heel motion. With a recent collaboration with Smirnoff Sound Collective, Cartier is on a mission to bring tap back in film.

    NYFA: Tell me a little about your background and what brought you to NYFA.

    CW: Well, I started tap dancing when I was four years old, taught by my grandmother Audrey Williams. At the age of six, I performed a piece choreographed by Grammy-award winning singer Mya, and won Apollo Kids at the prestigious Apollo Theater, distinguished as one of The Apollo Theater’s youngest “Apollo Legends.”

    Later that year I was invited to the Kennedy Center Honors alongside Robert Downey Jr. When I was 10 years old, I toured with tap legends Buster Brown, Jimmy Slyde, and Dianne Walker on a international tour called “Footnotes.” I shared the stage with Gregory Hines, The Nicholas Brothers, and Peg Leg Bates. On that tour I performed for two U.S Presidents and co-starred in “PBS Special: In Performance at The White House” with Bill Clinton.

    I toured Japan and the U.S in the Tony Award-winning show “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in da Funk,” co-starring Savion Glover. I performed for the AFI Awards: A Tribute To Tom Hanks. Other appearances include The State Department, CIA, FCC, New York Botanical Garden, and New York Children’s Museum of Manhattan. I performed for The Opening of the Cannes Film Festival for Moulin Rouge, appeared in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled and recently appeared in Bart Mastronardi & Alan Rowe Kelly horror film Tales of Poe.

    I ended up at the New York Film Academy in 2009 because I wanted to rekindle the love between tap dancing and film. But I also had something else on my mind, too, that I had to settle: I’m a huge fan of horror films and I wanted to become a director because of Wes Craven and the genius movie he made called “Scream.” I felt I needed to go to the Film Academy to figure this out. So I had two goals: to fix tap dancing and film’s beautiful long relationship, and learn how to make horror films.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your latest project with Smirnoff Sound Collective?

    CW: It’s funny how the Smirnoff video came about. I was on the computer and had just set up my Facebook for my new dance company and I received a message about me dancing in the video. So immediately I talked to the director Stacey Lee, who was hired by VICE to put it altogether.

    I was excited all these great brands coming together for tap dancing! Stacey and I had a great creative talk about me and my dancers and what my creative world was like. We met up a couple times and had one glitch: all the dancers except one in my company weren’t of age to be in the video. So it ended up being only me and Yusaku Komori, who you see in the video.

    A few weeks later we then shot the music video. The process was awesome! Of course early call times, breakfast, hair and makeup … It was complete fun because both of my favorite worlds are coming together all at once. Some scenes there were lots of people on set and sometimes just me and the director because maybe someone is setting something up on the next shot somewhere else.

    The most important thing as a tap dancer is good sound, so that was the first thing I wanted to talk about when I arrived. Tap dancing is percussive and visual, and for me the percussiveness is just as important as the visual. So I must say me and the sound man were best buds! Because sound is important and that was reinforced at NYFA.

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    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that helped you on your career journey?

    CW: When I was at NYFA I became so independent creatively. I learned so much about myself and the stories I wanted to tell. NYFA helped me become the confident director and writer I wanted to be. I ended up directing, choreographing,and producing my own shows when I left the school. My dancing became more powerful because I had stories to tell with the dance that was meaningful. I also learned how to work with people more [collaboratively], because tap dancing is a solo art form at heart and film is not. I learned how to be a team player and how to be patient.

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    Next I am performing on July 22 at The Smithsonian Museum of American History for The March On Washington Film Festival closing ceremony. But currently I am in production for my new show called “ZIGITYBOP!” It will premiere at the Oslo Jazz Festival and in Zurich Switzerland this August. I recently started a GoFundMe page because I would love to bring the show back home to the states. I’m also currently writing a tap-horror short film that I will film this fall.

    NYFA: What is your greatest memory at NYFA?

    My greatest memory at NYFA was creating a show with my classmates Matt Denoma and Max Schiano called “Beautiful Choas.” It was a tap show that infused multimedia with electronic music. We performed the show numerous times in Long Island for the public school system. The kids loved it and it was just a blast for me, because the guys I depended on in film class was there for me when it was time to create a tap show. How fun!

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Cartier Williams for taking the time to share some of his story with our community.


    July 17, 2017 • Acting, Diversity, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1828

  • NYFA Photography BFA Student Omar Alturk Featured on Al Arabiya


    Thamer_0217_0040-2New York Film Academy BFA photography student Omar Alturk has been busy creating visual stories on two continents, but the 25-year old photographer recently found the time to appear on-camera for a spotlight on Al Aribiya, to share his perspective as a Middle Eastern photographer working in the U.S. media capital of Los Angeles.

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    Photo by Omar Alturk

    Still in the midst of his studies at NYFA Los Angeles, Alturk has already built a diverse portfolio as a photographer, working as a behind-the-scenes photographer on film sets as well as creating editorial and fashion stories in the U.S. and in his home country of Saudi Arabia. Recently, he created a campaign for Royal Legacy.

    He told Al Aribiya’s audience in the Middle East that he believes photographers in Saudi Arabia stand a great chance of making the crossover to the American market. “The thing that makes you different from the rest of the photographers here is to make a Middle Eastern touch on the photograph or the model or anything you have,” said Alturk. “That I think is what makes you different and creates a different opportunity for you as a photographer in the U.S.”

    We had a chance to catch up with Alturk to hear more about his approach to photography and what has been inspiring him lately.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what made you decide to leave Saudi Arabia to attend the New York Film Academy?

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    Photo by Omar Alturk

    OA: After I graduated from high school, I honestly didn’t know what I should do. I’ve studied in three colleges but I didn’t finish a semester in any of them, so I decided to work. I worked in customer service at a rent-a-car company, then after a while I got a job at the NBC Bank. All that time I wasn’t really happy with what I was doing, even though I was in a good status at the Bank. I had this feeling that this is not what I’m born for.

    So I decided to move to the U.S., but before I went I decided that I wanted to study something I love and I care about. I had photography as my number one interest on my list. After some research I found NYFA, and I found that I can get BFA in photography in Los Angeles California, where everyone wants to be!

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    Photo by Omar Alturk

    NYFA: What inspired you to become a photographer?

    OA: Since I was a kid, I was obsessed with photography.

    I think what made me crazy about it was that my mom used to take a lot of picture of me and my sisters with film camera, and whenever I had the time I used to check the prints of the film and look at it. Every time I checked the pictures, I liked the fact that I could remember everything in that moment: my age, the way I looked, what my interests were. That’s what made me become a photographer: to keep these moments of life in my hard drive and my memory.

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    Photo by Omar Alturk

    NYFA: How has your experience in the photography school been?

    OA: When I started studying at NYFA my experience in photography wasn’t perfect. I knew how to use a camera, but I had never touched any lighting equipment before. So when I started, I was so happy that the school provides any equipment I could ask for.

    That helped me a lot in the learning process, and I became knowledgeable in lighting and how to use it in proper way — what lights I should use if I want some type of style in mind.


    Photo by Omar Alturk

    NYFA: Can you tell me about some of the campaigns and projects you’ve worked on?

    OA: There are many projects I have done through 2016 until today. I’ve worked on over 10 short films as behind-the-scenes photographer, and on one feature film as behind-the-scenes photographer, too.

    There are also many small gigs I’ve worked on that gave me a good experience in photography in Los Angeles. Lately I photographed the owners of a clothing store in Beverly Hills and their collection, which was a big thing for me.


    Photo by Omar Alturk

    NYFA: Are there any projects that particularly stand out for you, that you’re the most proud of?

    OA: For me, I am proud of all of them. But I would say the project which I enjoyed the most was the feature film I’ve worked on. The shoot was 21 days, for 12 hours a day. It was a lot of fun and a challenge at the same time, since I had school on some days of the shooting, but luckily it all worked for the good!

    NYFA: Do you plan on returning to Saudi Arabia to continue your photography career, or rather stay in the U.S.?

    OA: This is still a big decision to me since I’m still studying, but I would say that I can work on both and that what I’m aiming for. I don’t want people to know me only as a Saudi photographer, and that’s it! I’d rather be an international photographer who’s traveling all over the world for photography, and I want to be known worldwide — not only in my city or my country, or even only the U.S.

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    Photo by Omar Alturk

    NYFA: Can you tell me about your upcoming project taking place in Saudi Arabia?

    OA: The project I’m trying to do is to use my skills I gained at NYFA in photography to show different sides of the holy cities in Saudi. I’m starting at Madina, which is my hometown, then to Mecca, where the Grand Mosque is.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Omar Alturk for taking the time to share some of his story with the NYFA community.


  • NYFA New York Welcomes “The Magicians” Actress Jade Tailor as Guest Speaker


    Actress Jade Tailor of Syfy’s fantasy series “The Magicians” received a warm welcome to NYFA New York City’s campus as a recent Guest Speaker. NYFA Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby hosted the event, guiding the conversation through many inspiring stories from Tailor’s career. 

    “The big key is knowing your work so well that it doesn’t feel like work anymore,” Tailor told her audience of NYFA acting for film and musical theatre students. “Then you just get to play and enjoy it in the moment.”

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    Tailor is perhaps best known for her starring turn as Kady Orloff-Diaz in “The Magicians,” but NYFA students were inspired to hear the multifaceted artist’s story. The actress pursued her childhood dream despite various obstacles, and continues to nurture a passion for using her work as a platform to benefit others.

    “I’ve always wanted to fight for people who were not privileged, who had a difficult time,” Tailor shared, “And I am blessed to have this platform, and I feel it’s my duty to utilize it in any way I can. I think that’s what the drive is, now that I have some semblance of being in the spotlight: I want to utilize that for good. And I want to do work that inspires me and inspires others.”

    Growing up in Los Angeles with a mother who had worked as an actress in the 1970s and a father who had served in the Israeli Army’s Mossad division, Tailor says her family background gave her a unique perspective and helped her prepare for the realities of the industry, with a deep appreciation for training and craft.

    “In a lot of ways those two aspects [of my parents] were a foundation of me working that hard,” Tailor explained. She learned to overcome nerves as a child in acting classes with actress Dee Wallace, of “E.T. the Extraterrestrial” fame. Upon deciding to pursue acting as an adult, Tailor candidly shared that there were years of “literally counting pennies to pay the rent,” a reality that encouraged many students to hear acknowledged by a working actor.

    “It was definitely a long arduous road,” Tailor said. “But I knew I would get there if I put everything into it.”

    The actress repeatedly emphasized the importance of developing confidence and making the decision to focus on the craft above all. She shared that this shift in mindset helped her enjoy the process and connect with her character during a pivotal audition for the producers of “True Blood,” where she went on to portray lead actor Stephen Moyer’s first victim.

    “I really let go in that room and went, who is this character, what is her intention here? And I connected to the work and who she was, and I got a call a couple of hours later that I got the job.”

    After booking “True Blood,” Tailor shared, “I was like ‘Yes I made it!’ and then I got no work. There are gonna be moments where you get this great gig and then there’s a lull for a long time.”

    She stressed the importance of “having a great team behind you” as an actor, as well as “being conscious of the fact that you are going to have to sustain” through slow seasons as well as busy seasons. Tailor’s hard work was rewarded in 2015 when she booked “Aquarius” with David Duchovny: “I’ve been lucky to work with amazing people,” she said. 

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    It was while working on “Aquarius” that Executive Producer John McNamara approached Tailor about reading for a role in “The Magicians,” which turned out to be a surprising story as well. Tailor originally auditioned for the role of Margot, but producers decided the role of Kady was a better fit, a character very different from the roles Tailor had previously portrayed on television. 

    “I am so lucky to be on this amazing show that I love and that’s really fun with a great cast and crew,” Tailor said of “The Magicians.” Yet even in this busy season, the actress has her vision cast for the long term, and is working to develop projects through her own production company, Eyeris Entertainment.

    Tailor executive-produced “But I Love Him,” a film born through the actresses’ volunteer work as a domestic violence counselor. The piece dramatizes a woman’s experience through the cycle of abuse, and premiered at various festivals. “But I Love Him” is now used by various organizations as an education tool for raising awareness about domestic violence.

    Among the many nuggets of wisdom Tailor shared, she advised students to trust their own uniqueness, bring their own authenticity to each role, and build confidence through hard work. This is advice Tailor puts into practice herself. “The work is so important to me,” shared Tailor, “And I always want to do work that is meaningful and inspires me and inspires others. I think when you’re inspired yourself it’s going to read to other people and then other people are going to be inspired too.”

    When students asked about her acting technique, Jade jokes that she calls herself an “eclectic realist,” pointing to the uniqueness of each human being. “We have different things that will resonate, with some of us more so than others,” she explained. “Some people are more logical beings, some of us are more emotional beings. For me, I’m instinctively more emotional.”

    In imagining what’s next for her, Tailor shared she’d love to return to live performance. She has a passion for theatre, having sung at The Blue Note and performed in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Of the stage, Jade says, “It’s my background and my heart, and to go back to Broadway at some point would be amazing … but to do good work that inspires people, that’s really the end goal.”

    Season 2 of “The Magicians” is now available on Netflix. The New York Film Academy would like to thank Jade Tailor for her visit in our Guest Speaker Series.


    July 7, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2013

  • Behind the Scenes of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” With NYFA Alum & Digital Compositor Francesco Panzieri


    FRAN EDITED IMAGE 2NYFA alumnus Francesco Panzieri has been busy since completing his studies at the New York Film Academy, with credits running the gamut from the realism of “Mad Men” to the visionary science fiction of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Most recently, Panzieri has turned his hand as an in-house digital compositor with Marvel Studios for “Spider Man: Homecoming,” which opens July 7.

    “Spider Man: Homecoming” is the first installment of a new Spidey trilogy created through the first-time partnership between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures.

    According to Panzieri, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” will stand apart due to its combination of great storytelling, and a focus on the superhero’s dual struggles to become an Avenger and survive high school.

    “I believe ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ balances in a very successful way two key-elements of Peter Parker’s life in this movie, which are his teenage life as a high-school student and the struggles of a superhero to become an Avenger,” explains Panzier. “I think that the high-school part makes the character extremely compelling because it gives the audience a shared point of view with Peter, since all of us have been through similar life moments.”

    Panzieri muses that films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continue to attract audiences not only through their jaw-dropping visuals, but primarily through their great storytelling. “Write something good,” he says, “Something really good, that people can relate to, and then use visual effects to enhance your cinematic vision of that story.”


    NYFA 3D Animation alumnus Francesco Panzieri (right) pictured with actor Michael Mando (left), who plays Mac Gargan in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

    Along with a great story, Panzieri points to a new colorspace technology created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences called ACES (Academy Color Encoding System) as a vital ingredient to the look of “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Panzieri says, “It was a cool experience for me to test it for the first time in my career and I look forward to ACES being the soon-standard-to-be on features, episodic and commercials.”

    He describes an atmosphere of camaraderie and excitement on set: “Since Sony Pictures owns the film rights to Spider-Man, the whole post-production process took place on the Sony Studios lot, in Culver City, California. Each morning, I got to walk by the original ‘Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 car on my way to work, and that was a very stimulating and inspiring environment.”

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    Panzieri pictured with the original “Ghostbusters” Ecto-1 car.

    “In the studio we had every day all the top-notch leadership team of Marvel Studios surrounding us,” Panzieri recalled. “While we were working on the visual effects for the feature film, they were focused on refining and improving editing and storytelling with the director. What surprised me in a truly unique and positive way, was seeing first-class executives such as the Marvel ones hard at work from dawn’s early lights until late at night. In those moments I realized the true strength and secret of Marvel Studios that deservedly brought them to be number one in the entertainment industry: the love and energy that they put into each and every production they make. Everyone who works at Marvel is an extremely genuine, passionate and dedicated fellow; it’s a huge, big family where there is a unique synergy between all the roles.

    Transitioning from film school to major blockbuster productions is entirely a matter of building relationships, according to Panzieri — and being prepared for high-skilled hard work.

    “My job, it’s all about networking,” Panzieri reveals. “So what happened is that a connection that I had from when I worked on ‘Star Wars’ had called me to work on Spider-Man.”

    Panzieri points to his training at the New York Film Academy as playing a valuable role in preparing him for his work: “I must say that the long hours of classes and lab at the NYFA were definitely an advantage to me on every project I worked on thus far … I can definitely say that the instantaneous hands-on environment I found myself in during my time at NYFA was a true testament to how you’ve got to be when working in Hollywood. Visual effects is art, technology and science at the same time, and as such you need to be really focused, dedicated and good at craftsmanship to keep up with its high quality demands you face in entertainment.”

    “Spider-Man: homecoming” is the first installment of a new Spider-Man trilogy created through a first-time collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios. Box Office Pro has projected a box office opening of $135 million, which ScreenRant notes would make this the 6th largest opening out of 16 Marvel films.


  • NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Samuel Nieves Interns With NFL Films


    Jer OTR1NYFA filmmaking alumnus Sam Jeremy Nieves has not only navigated the transition from military to civilian life, but also the transition from life as a film school student to securing a coveted spot as a Cinematography Intern with NFL Films.

    Sam took some time out of his busy schedule to share with the New York Film Academy community about his incredible journey, and the determination to do “whatever it takes” that has inspired his hard work along the way.

    NYFA: Hi Sam, congratulations on your upcoming internship with NFL Films! To start off, can you tell us a little bit about where you’re from and why you decided to study at the New York Film Academy?

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    Sam Jeremy Nieves

    SJN: I was born and raised in Philadelphia. It’s a very hard-working, hands-on type of city, which is how I learn best. I knew at about age 14 that I wanted to go to film school, while shooting mini-chase scenes with my hot wheels cars, taking classes for film photography and mass media, and doing video work for my church.

    When the time came, however, I could not afford film school and was devastated, but still determined to take whatever detour necessary to get where I wanted to go. The “detour” in this case was the Marine Corps. I knew I could use the G.I. Bill to help pay for college, so I chose to become a Combat Photographer (turning down a $25,000 bonus offer for another military job, in the process) with the Marines, earning my G.I. Bill, and making my own way to college.

    I was stationed at Miramar (where they filmed “Top Gun”!) in San Diego, and Camp Pendleton, which put me in California towards the end of my enlistment. Originally, I had my sights set on attending film school in Florida, but already living in California, I began searching for a school within the state that had a very hands-on type of bachelor’s degree program in filmmaking, and that also accepted the G.I. Bill. That’s when I found out about the New York Film Academy.

    NYFA: What led you to choose a path in cinematography? What inspires you most as a cinematographer?

    Cinematography Reel from Sam Jeremy Nieves on Vimeo.

    SJN: Cinematography, for me, is a deep-seated passion and craft that I’m always learning and pursuing.

    I started taking film photographs around age 10, with my mother’s camera. I was bored with the traditional photos, taken at family BBQ’s and pool parties, and I thought I could do something a little different. My mother let me use her camera more and more, encouraging me to keep going. That was the beginning of my life-long passion for creative imagery.

    Another moment I experienced, that further sealed my career choice, happened around age 17. I had been doing camera work and intro videos for my church for a few years, and one video in particular culminated with the illusion of a man being hit by a speeding car. I couldn’t wait to see what the reaction from the audience would be. When the moment came, it drew an audible gasp from the crowd of over 200 people, and it was the most incredible feeling, sitting among them in that moment, having created something that truly captured them for an instant, making them feel something. I knew, right then, that I wanted to keep on doing this for a long time, creating images, and experiences like that for people to lose themselves in.

    Initially, I wanted to enroll in the cinematography program at NYFA, but it’s a master’s degree program rather than a bachelor’s. So, I chose the filmmaking program instead, seeing it as an opportunity to shoot more projects as the lone cinematographer in a class full of directors.

    Inspiration, for me, comes primarily from music, or other people’s work. I love hearing a great piece of music, and translating the emotions of it into visual ideas. I’m also a big fan of Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki. I think their work is incredible, and innovative, and their attitudes toward their craft are very humble.

    NYFA: As a veteran student, you’ve transitioned both from military to civilian life, and from film school to securing a competitive internship. What advice would you offer to fellow students facing similar transitions?

    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    SJN: The transition from military to civilian life can be very different, from person to person, but I think the success of my own transition came from having a specific goal, a plan for that goal, and following through with it. Never go into a transition without some sort of plan, or at least an idea of what you want to do, especially when you have the advantage of knowing when that transition will happen.

    My goal, even before enlisting with the Marine Corps, was to go to film school. My plan was to apply to my school of choice, set up my G.I. Bill, and find a new apartment, all within the last 12 months of my enlistment. I followed through with that plan, and ended up with a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking, that I am very proud of, and thankful for.

    The next transition was much more difficult to navigate, but again, having a specific goal in mind was essential. I was about to graduate film school with a family to take care of (my wife and newborn son), no more G.I. Bill benefits (which paid for our apartment), and no income. It was the most challenging time of my life, and it deeply tested my passion, and career choice. I knew that if I was going to make it work, I’d have to get out of my comfort zone, and be willing to do whatever it takes. This seems to be where a lot of people get stuck and give up, but if you really want it, you have to be passionately stubborn, and push through the inevitable challenges. You really have to take advantage of every avenue you can, especially in an industry like this, where everyone’s path seems vastly different.


    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    My wife and I decided to move back home, with my parents, who graciously prepared the whole first floor of their house for us to stay in until we could find a job and an apartment. This really seemed like an embarrassing step backward, but again, I knew I had to be willing to make difficult decisions, and do whatever it takes to make this work. You often hear “it’s all about who you know,” and this quote was always very frustrating to me because I felt as though I didn’t have a dad that was a famous Hollywood director, or a great aunt that was some famous executive producer. But sometimes, “the people you know,” aren’t that obvious.

    One person that was extremely helpful was Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development at NYFA, Barbara Weintraub. Barbara incredibly makes herself available as a resource to the entire school, and can be that “person you know,” to help along the way. She helped me restructure my resume and fine-tune my cover letter when I was applying to NFL Films, and answered any questions I had about the process.

    I also found out, through conversation, that my uncle had a co-worker who had worked for NFL Films in the past, so I asked my uncle if he could talk to him for me. He said “of course,” and also showed him my resume and cover letter, which gave him enough confidence to contact NFL Films on my behalf, referring me for the interview I was after.

    It’s great if you have someone who can help you land the interview, but at the end of the day, they can only get you in the room, it’s up to you to get the job.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA prepared you for pursuing this internship opportunity?


    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    SJN: I know that my time at NYFA was very important in my pursuit of this internship opportunity. I also recognized early on that it was up to me to get the most out of my college experience, and not anyone else’s responsibility — including the instructors. I learned as much as I possibly could, asked questions, got my hands on every piece of camera equipment NYFA had to offer, got on as many sets as possible, and shot as many projects as time would allow.

    During my interview at NFL films, I was then able to talk about my experience with a wide variety of cameras, and formats, and my versatility in learning new equipment. I graduated NYFA, having taken full advantage of everything their program, instructors, and staff had to offer. I had gained a new confidence in my craft, and in my experience, that became evident during my interview, and had an effect on the way I spoke and carried myself.

    There were several especially great teachers that I had the pleasure of learning from at the New York Film Academy, and I made sure I learned everything I could from them, regardless of any previous experience or knowledge I might have already had, coming into the program. NYFA has a great program, for anyone who is willing to do the work, and really pursue their craft.


    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about what will you be doing as an intern with NFL Films?

    SJN: As a Cinematography Intern with NFL Films, I will be working and learning directly from the best cinematographers in the sports industry, seeing how they operate, firsthand, on and off the football field. I will also be assisting in many ways, including prepping camera equipment, running cable, driving camera trucks, filling out camera reports, and so on.

    Interestingly, I’ve done all of those things many times on various sets during my time at NYFA, and was even asked about this during my initial interview at NFL Films. NFL news used on this page source of via NFL Betting. I’m looking forward to the experience because it puts me in close proximity to people who know much more than I do about the craft that I love.

    NYFA: Are you currently working on any other projects you’d like to tell us about?

    SJN: While looking for a job, or internship, I was also making myself available for freelance work. I recently worked with the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, shooting video and photos of their Special Operations Group during an overnight, woodland training exercise. It was very exciting, and similar to the kind of work I did as a Combat Photographer for the Marine Corps. I also got involved with a local hockey charity event, featuring several players from the Philadelphia Flyers, during which I will also be shooting video and photos.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Sam Jeremy Nieves for sharing a bit of his story with the NYFA community and fellow Veteran students.


    July 3, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 3651

  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Diversifies With 774 New Members


    On June 28, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy) admitted the biggest, most diverse class of new members in the institution’s 90-year history. According to the Academy’s official site, this year’s class includes 774 entertainment professionals from 57 countries, signaling a continuation of the Academy’s commitment to pursue greater diversity and inclusion for women and minorities within its ranks.

    The New York Film Academy has always celebrated the diversity of the international entertainment industry, which is reflected in our student body: 50 percent of NYFA students are from countries outside the U.S., with an equal representation of male and female students. As New York Film Academy President Michael J. Young notes, “This very diversity is a pillar of the industries our students hope to enter upon graduation,” and supports the raising of a new generation of film and media artists that can help build toward greater inclusion both onscreen and behind the scenes.

    The New York Film Academy has reported in its Gender Inequality in Film Infographic that approximately 5 men are employed for every 1 woman in the film industry, and women account for only 30.8 percent of speaking characters on screen — though women make up 50 percent of the U.S. population. Figures for the inclusion of minorities in the industry are no better, with NPR reporting in 2016 that a USC study found only “28.3 percent of characters with dialogue were from non-white racial/ethnic groups, though such groups are nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population.”

    As the LA Times notes, the 774 new members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are announced after a period of time in which the Academy, along with the wider entertainment industry, has attracted scrutiny and debate over issues of inequality. The underrepresentation of women and minorities created controversy during the 2016 and 2017 Oscars ceremonies, with many protesting the predominantly white and male nominations — nominated by a predominantly white and male Academy — under the rallying cry #OscarsSoWhite.
    According to an interview with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO, Dawn Hudson, in the LA Times, addressing inequality is a long-term project for the Academy: “That commitment [to diversity] has not waned and will not wane for many years to come. Because I don’t see this industry getting a lot more diverse or having more gender parity anytime real soon. So this work will be ongoing for the Academy. And I know that it has inspired others to follow suit.”

    According to the Academy’s website, while the addition of its 774 new members reflects a359 percent increase in women” and a “331 percent increase in people of color” inducted since 2015, the total percentage of membership for women and minorities in the Academy remains low, at 28 percent for women and 13 percent for minorities

    The New York Film Academy is committed to nurturing a diverse and international community for students, faculty, and staff. For the full list of the 774 new members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, click here.

    New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film


    July 3, 2017 • Entertainment News • Views: 2742

  • NYFA Sydney Filmmaking Student Wins UBER Competition


    The sharing economy has created all kinds of opportunities for people and organizations to come together in new ways. Recently, ride-sharing giant Uber connected with 90 Seconds to create a contest, inviting filmmakers to submit a film concept around the theme “a shared ride.” Finalists were selected to compete for votes in the Uber & 90 Seconds Short Film Festival, and first prize was taken home by New York Film Academy Sydney filmmaking student Michael Gosden for his short, “Hitchin’ a Trike.” Michael’s video has since surpassed 3 million views on Youtube.

    We had a chance to sit down with Michael and hear a little bit about his journey with NYFA and the inspiration behind his film “Hitchin’ a Trike.”


    Filmmaker Michael Gosden.

    NYFA: Congratulations on your success in the Uber & 90 Seconds Short Film Festival! First, can you tell us a little about yourself and why you chose New York Film Academy?

    I originally grew up on the Central Coast and moved to Melbourne in 2011 to study acting with the Victorian College of the Arts. Being there solidified my passion for storytelling and, with a few friends, I started to create work outside of acting. We would shoot short films, web series, music clips and even a few feature films. I quickly found that being behind the camera was just as exciting as being in front of it. But I found that our guerrilla filmmaking approach was limited by my day-to-day obligations, and I wanted to commit to immersing myself in film as much as possible for a period of time. That’s what attracted me to the New York Film Academy Australia. The hands-on approach to study was exactly what I wanted.

    How did your entry to the UBER competition come about? What drew you to it?

    It popped up on my news feed and this was around a time between semesters, so there was a tiny gap in my hectic schedule to pursue. I had a great little team of friends that were available and the story I came up with was a simple one. Also, it had a pretty great cash prize attached to it, and being a student in Sydney is hard!

    What inspired your idea for “Hitchin’ a Trike”?

    Nostalgia was my biggest inspiration, to be honest. The only thing Uber attached specifically to the brief was the theme “shared ride,” and it made me think about the moments I spent with my older brothers in our little kid bike gang, and how we would often have to share bikes if one of the other had broken down for whatever reason. I just ran with that idea and intertwined it to what I understood Uber to be at the time.

    Would you say your time at NYFA was useful in terms of preparing you for your work in the competition?

    Definitely. Primarily in my preparation, which I severely lacked the skills for beforehand. We had one day to shoot, so we couldn’t waste time with shot listing or anything like that.

    With over 3 million views on your UBER video, what are you planning next?

    I have a mockumentary web series that I shot before starting at NYFA about a group of master sommeliers (expert wine tasters) and how they are put through different tests to be inducted into the Grand Master Sommilier Society, the Illuminati of wine society. I put that on hold while studying and now I want to edit and distribute that to the world.

    I also have a one-shot feature film that I wrote and directed, with a friend, a few years ago that is premiering at the Perth Revelation International film festival. I also have a treatments for a TV show and three features that I want to explore more and hopefully get some funding for. So I’m guessing that will keep me busy over the next few years.

    As a filmmaker, what is your driving passion?

    For who I am at the moment, the driving force has always been to try and tell the story of people or communities that wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance. I don’t know if I necessarily have an overall goal or message: That usually comes when I start focusing onto a story. But the passion definitely comes from the excitement I feel when a film leaves you with a greater sense of that topic than when you first walked in, good or bad. I just hope that people are changed by the stories I create.

    Is there anything I missed that you’d like to talk about?

    If you happen to be in Perth for the Revelation film festival, it’d be great if you went along and supported my film “Watch the Sunset.” You can find all the information here.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Michael Gosden on his success with “Hitchin’ a Trike” and thank him for sharing some of his story with the NYFA community.