Josh Eiserike
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  • Actress and Acting Alum Alyssa Miller on Her Work in ‘Fathers’ and ‘Forgiven’


    Actress and Arizona native Alyssa Miller plays Cindy in the 2021 feature film Forgiven, now available to stream on Amazon. Starring Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Beverly Hills, 90210), Kristi Lawrence (Glass Walls, Fathers, Spur), and James Yaw (Glass Walls, Hippie Carpool, Mercy), the film follows the life of a child abuse survivor and her struggle with trauma. The feature drama, inspired by actual events, was written and directed by Jason Campbell. 

    Miller, an alum of the New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) 2-Year Acting for Film program, played roles in a series of features and short films following the completion of her studies. A scholarship winner from the International Models & Talent Agency, Miller traveled to New York City to study acting. Her scholarship with NYFA included the chance to learn under the tutelage of award-winning actor and NYFA Board Member Matthew Modinein in a one-on-one master class.  

    The alum spoke with NYFA in a recent Q&A to discuss her current role in Fathers (2022), other projects, and her craft. 

    Alyssa Miller, Actress & 2-Year Acting for Film NYFA program alum

    Alyssa Miller, Actress & 2-Year Acting for Film NYFA program alum

    A Conversation with Acting Alum Alyssa Miller 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Could you tell us about some of your recent films and projects? 

    Alyssa Miller (AM): I recently co-starred in two Dhar Mann Studios videos, “Teen MAKES FUN OF DEAF KID In School” and “DEAF GIRL Told She CAN’T SING” as one of the students and an ASL interpreter. Most recently, I played Samantha in the feature film Fathers (2022), directed by Nicholas Tutora, which is available to stream on Amazon. The film explores the struggles of two divorced men and an unmarried father while fighting for custody of their children. The film stars Nicolas Tutora, Kristi Lawrence, and Andrew Beasley. 

    I also play a role in a newly created feature film entitled Wander Woman, which will be doing festival runs in 2023. My recent local theater productions include “Newsies,” directed by Emma England, and “Where’s Sapphire Blue?” directed by Sonja Camille.

    Alyssa Miller (right) on the set of Fathers (2022)

    Alyssa Miller (right) on the set of Fathers (2022)

    NYFA: Do you follow a process for scouting roles or working with an agent or manager? 

    AM: I review new audition postings on various Actors Access and Casting Networks pages daily. While I submit to as many as possible, I keep in mind all the requirements for each role. 

    My talent manager encourages me to self-submit to projects I see. At the same time, they submit to projects to which actors might not have direct access.

    NYFA: What has been the biggest challenge for you in the industry as an actor? 

    AM: The biggest challenge has been finding a close-knit community where I can find support. While I’m still in touch with many of my NYFA friends, most of us live in different countries, which makes meeting a bit challenging. After moving to Los Angeles and residing here for eight months, I’ve realized how important finding a community is to your adjustment. I now feel like I’m finally starting to find my people.

    NYFA: Have any of your projects featured in festivals or competitions? 

    AM: I was cast in two student films circulating in festivals now! One is entitled Elephant in the Car, and the other is Upside Down, both created by Huntington University students.

    Alyssa Miller (right) on the set of Wander Woman (2023)

    Alyssa Miller (right) on the set of Wander Woman (2023)

    NYFA: Did you learn something at NYFA that you applied directly to your projects?

    AM: So much! I learned how to break down a script, create a character, set etiquette, and set terminology. I also learned how to warm up my instrument and play during a scene.

    I would not be where I am today without the wisdom shared with me by my NYFA instructors, and I constantly recall their words. Recently, I wrapped with the feature Wander Woman, which will make a festival run in 2023. 

    NYFA: Do you have advice you can share with incoming NYFA students? 

    AM: Do the work and have fun! Once you graduate, you will realize how precious your time as a student was because you had the opportunity to work on your craft with friends and peers daily. Don’t waste a minute of it.

    NYFA congratulates Alyssa Miller on her recent work and successes! You can follow her on her Instagram account and check out her professional website for a resume, updated set photos, headshots, or information on how to contact her.

  • NYFA’s Executive Vice President Dr. Joy Zhu Joins Jury of 8th Asian World Film Festival


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Executive Vice President for the China region, Dr. Joy Zhu, attended and juried for the 8th annual Asian World Film Festival (AWFF)

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China region Dr. Joy Zhu

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China region Dr. Joy Zhu (above)

    AWFF showcases the best in Asian cinema and filmmaking in Los Angeles, California. The Festival is unique because they do not accept submissions to screen at its event. The AWFF exhibits films selected to represent their country by The Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. All exhibitions are by invitation only and include movies nominated for the Oscars and Golden Globes for “Best International Feature Film” and “Best Motion Picture” in the Foreign Language categories from the Asian continent. 

    In November 2022, film and television industry professionals, NYFA students, and alumni attended the Young Filmmaker Showcase (an AWFF Special Program). At the event, Dr. Joy Zhu gave an impassioned welcome speech. 

    At the AWFF awards ceremony in Maria Del Rey, California, Dr. Zhu discussed NYFA’s educational efforts to support the next generation of filmmakers to realize their talents. She highlighted the successes of NYFA’s Asian student population. 

    “In our eighth edition of AWFF, we exemplified our good fortune by screening eight examples of cinematic riches,” said Georges Chamchoum, AWFF Executive Director.

    Dr. Zhu attended the star-studded closing night of the Festival, whose attendees, presenters, and awardees included Desmond Chiam, Daniel Wu, Albert S. Ruddy, Lani Netter, Jennifer McCormick, Raghu Kilambi, Alan Vo, and Jenny Ai Trinh Thai, among others.

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China region Dr. Joy Zhu

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China region Dr. Joy Zhu (third from left)

    Ministries, embassies, and critical entertainment industry figures, including The Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association members, support the Asian World Film Festival. The Festival welcomed VIP guests, including Angelina Jolie, Peter Chan, and Shannon Lee, in past years. 

    Over its eight years running, the Festival Advisory and Honorary Boards consisted of industry leaders and cultural representatives from around the world. Past cultural representatives and guests include Oscar-nominated producer Gil Netter (Life of Pi, The Blind Side), Oscar-winning screenwriter David Seidler (The King’s Speech), award-winning director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, Big Little Lies), award-winning director and writer Lulu Wang (The Farewell), producer Andre Morgan (Warlords, Cannonball Run) producer Tabrez Noorani (Slumdog Millionaire, Lion, Eat Pray Love), and actors Joan Chen, Lisa Lu, Tzi Ma, and Lucy Liu. 

  • Nordic International Film Festival 2022 Hosts 8th Successful Festival


    The 8th annual Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF), founded by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni Johan Matton and Linnea Larsdotter (Mikkelä), ran from Wednesday, November 16th through Sunday, November 20th, concluding with an awards ceremony held at Fotografiska. The festival included a variety of captivating short and feature films, including the winner of the prestigious Aurora Borealis Prize, Unity of Opposites, the short film Adieu, the feature-length film An Eternity of You and Me, and the documentary short The Militiamen, among others.

    Aurora Borealis Prize Winner, Unity of Opposites

    Unity of Opposites, directed, produced, and written by Alfred Hedbratt, is a short Swedish film about childhood friends on a camping trip. One friend invites a new friend along, which leads to discomfort and awkwardness amongst the group. The film screened at Scandinavia House and was one of many Swedish films at the festival. Short films The Maw, directed by Patrik Eriksson, and The Diamond, directed by Vedran Rupic, were also nominated in the category.

    NYFA & NIFF’s Partnership

    The event marked NYFA’s 4th consecutive partnership with the festival’s committee. In addition to the Aurora Borealis award, Hedbratt won a 4-week workshop scholarship for a discipline of their choosing. With two of NYFA’s alumni at the helm of the festival, NYFA supports the event, which aims to elevate films shot in Nordic countries and promote equality in film.  

    Before founding the festival in 2015, Larsdotter completed NYFA’s 2-Year Musical Theatre program, and Matton completed the 2-Year Acting for Film program at the NYFA New York campus.

    Nordic International Film Festival 2022: Highlights

    This year’s festival included screenings, a new Festival Village at Fotografiska, and a filmmaker lounge at Scandinavia House. This year, festival attendees were encouraged to follow visual and performance artists serving as NIFF’s ‘Artists in Residence’ at the Ace Hotel

    Artists in residence included filmmaker Brandon Brown (Renewal in Sunset Park, 2017, Lives of Bernard Herrmann, 2023), VR content creator Samantha Quick (Lutaw, 2019, Dreams of the Jaguar’s Daughter, 2019), writer and actor Corey Camperchioli, (Femme, 2018, Ecstasy & Agony, 2019), as well as NYFA Musical Theatre alumni Haley Rice. Rice graduated from NYFA’s 2-Year Musical Theatre Certificate program and is known for her original play LOU.

    Participants could stream online the short narrative film, Hold Me Down through the NIFF website. Based on true events, the film is set in the Bronx, NYC. 


    A scene from Aurora Borealis Prize Winner Unity of Opposites

    Festival Winners

    Nordic International Film Festival 2022 winners include:

    Best Nordic Feature – Beautiful Beings
    Best International Feature – Fucking Bornholm
    Best Documentary Feature – Historjá – Stitches for Sápmi
    Best Nordic Short – The Dinner
    Best International Short – Like You
    Best Documentary Short – The Militiaman
    Honorable Mention – Haulout
    Best Director – Sanne This, An Eternity of You and Me
    Best Cinematography – Jonas Rudström, Hans-Olof Utsi, Historjá – Stitches for Sápmi 
    Best Lead Actor – Søren Malling, The Dinner
    Best Supporting Actor – Gisela Swarting, Double Cheese

    Overall, the festival was a sweeping success, with films from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and the United States. NYFA congratulates alumni Johan and Linnea for their continued success in this latest edition of the Nordic International Film Festival.


    November 22, 2022 • Film Festivals, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 9

  • 8th Annual Nordic International Film Festival Partners with NYFA for Workshop Scholarship


    The Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF) is back for its eighth year with a range of compelling short films and feature films from all over the world. Running from November 16th through November 20th, the festival will be held at Fotografiska and the Scandinavia House in Manhattan. There is also an exclusive, invite-only screening event on Thursday, November 17th at the Chelsea Hotel. The NIFF 2022 Awards Ceremony will be held on November 20th at Fotografiska.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is partnering with the festival’s committee for the 4th year in a row, offering a 4-week workshop scholarship for any discipline to the winner of the prestigious Aurora Borealis Prize. The prize is awarded annually to one filmmaker. Previous winners have included Director Lisa Meyer for Birds of Passage (2021) and Director Nicolas Kolovos for Index (2020). 

    For the first time, the festival will have a Festival Village at Fotografiska. Attendees with a ticket to any of the Scandinavia House screenings may also access the filmmaker lounge on Saturday, November 19th, in Volvo Hall at the Scandinavia House. 

    Hold Me Down, a short narrative film (Sweden), is available to stream on the NIFF website. The film is based on true events and takes place in the Bronx, NYC. Festival goers can also follow the journeys of NIFF’s ‘Artists in Residence’ at the Ace Hotel online, which include photographers, filmmakers, playwrights, actors, writers, and a VR artist. 

    About The Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF)

    Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF) is the largest Nordic film festival outside of Europe and strives to connect international filmmakers, showcase films shot in Nordic countries, elevate Nordic filmmakers, and promote equality in film. Each year, NIFF donates 50% of its Official Selection ticket sales to the Black Independent Filmmaker app and Brown Art Ink and publishes its diversity statistics. In 2021, NIFF had 130% more female representation in the role of director compared to 2020’s top 250 grossing films.

    The festival was founded in 2015 by NYFA alumni Linnea Larsdotter (Mikkelä) and Johan Matton. Linnea Larsdotter, an actor and producer, is an NYFA 2-Year Musical Theatre program alum. She is now President of the film festival. Johan Matton, also an actor and producer, is a 2-Year Acting for Film program alum. 

    In 2020, the festival successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic with a covid-safe drive-in at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in NYC. They also provided an online experience, where 50% of ticket sales went to organizations that support the Black Lives Matter movement.

    2022 Feature and Short Films at NIFF

    NIFF features film categories including documentary feature and short, international feature and short, as well as Nordic narrative and two Nordic narrative A and B shorts. This year’s films tackle an array of topics, including displacement, family, friendship, identity, politics, mythology, fables, and more.

    In previous years, the festival has screened films such as Det Borde Finnas Regler / There Should Be Rules, 2015, Autumn Fall, 2016, Man and a Baby, 2017, and Tiger Milk, 2018. This year, NIFF will showcase films including Beautiful Beings (Iceland), a story about a clairvoyant teen, Historjá – Stitches for Sápmi (Sweden), about an artist fighting climate change, Rainbow (Denmark), where a young girl searches for her biological father, and Maybe (Norway), where two women have an unexpected conversation after closing hours at a library, and many more.

    For an entire list of the 2022 films, please visit the Nordic International Film Festival website

    NIFF at Fotografiska

    NIFF’s opening night and awards ceremony will be held at Fotografiska. The opening night event, which includes a Red Carpet for the directors and filmmakers, officially launches the festival. The feature Beautiful Beings, by Icelandic Director Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, will premiere. The awards ceremony will conclude the festival, as well as an after-party featuring a performance from DJ Virgin Miri.

    NIFF at Scandinavia House

    Scandinavia House will screen most of its 2022 NIFF films on Friday, November 18th, and Saturday, November 19th. 


    Friday, November 18, 2022

    Historjá – Stitches for Sápmi 

    Saturday, November 19, 2022
    An Eternity of You and Me
    The Militiaman
    The Diamond
    The Maw
    Unity of Opposites
    Shower Boys
    Double Cheese
    The Marsh
    The Dinner

    For more information about tickets and the film festival schedule, click here. Best of luck to all of the filmmakers at this special event!


    November 10, 2022 • Acting • Views: 34

  • One Million YouTube Subscribers and ‘The Swipe Life’ with NYFA Acting Alum Charlotte Dobre


    You’ve probably heard of the name Charlotte Dobre from the popular YouTube channel of the same name that features hundreds of videos where she reacts to current events and social media posts in ways that are often hilarious but also surprisingly refreshing.

    The former NYFA 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory program alum recently reached 1 million YouTube channel subscribers (in an article by TubeFilter), a difficult feat to achieve in today’s media-saturated landscape.

    NYFA Acting for Film Alum Charlotte Dobre

    NYFA Acting for Film Alum Charlotte Dobre

    Actress Turned YouTube Sensation Turned Television Pilot Writer

    An actress by trade, Dobre was featured in commercials for international brands like Starbucks, Hilton Hotels, ReMax, Lindt, Credit Karma, Turbo Tax, and more. Her television roles include The Stepson and The Sonnet Project. The Canadian-born performer is not just an actress but a writer and producer with a new project in fruition. 

    Entitled The Swipe Life, Dobre’s new pilot series is a romantic comedy about modern dating life. The story showcases hilarious traps people fall into due to using online dating apps to find romance. According to Dobre, she drew inspiration from her own experiences. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Swipe Life’s pitch was en route with networks but halted once the world began its quarantine protocols. 

    the swipe life-instagram

    After about three years of waiting for the pandemic to subside, Dobre wasted no more time and produced, funded, and wrote the pilot herself. She recruited Rodrigo F. Stoll to direct the pilot. The idea for the show came to her while reading the Chinese classical philosophy novel The Tao Te Ching (The Way) by Lao-Tzu while visiting her grandparents’ farm in Romania. Sadly, Dobre experienced a breakup at the time and, like all of us, stumbled through the unforgiving world of dating. While sitting in her grandparents’ chicken coup, she came across an underlined passage from the 7th verse of The Tao Te Ching (The Way).

    The passage said, “The more you pursue desires, the more they’ll elude you. Try letting life come to you and begin to notice the clues that what you crave is on the way.” After “letting go,” Dobre had the idea for The Swipe Life

    Catch Behind the Scenes footage during the filming of The Swipe Life

    Charlotte’s success comes from both hard work (she’s been doing this full-time since 2017) as well as utilizing clever marketing strategies. NYFA connected with her to learn about her experience as a YouTube sensation, consistently creating content for an audience of 1+ million subscribers. 

    Q&A with Actress/Writer/Producer Charlotte Dobre About Her YouTube Channel

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What is your favorite aspect about creating content for your channels, “Charlotte Dobre” and “Just Charlotte?” 

    Charlotte Dobre (CD): I love the flexibility it gives me. I created my channel at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when I wasn’t getting auditions and needed a creative outlet. Now, my channel allows me to fund my projects and go to auditions whenever I want without sacrificing things like hours at work. If I ever want to take time off, I can simply film and schedule videos ahead of time.

    NYFA: How do you stay on top of YouTube’s constant changes in its Community Guidelines?

    CD: I’ve been working on YouTube for about eight years, and the guidelines have always changed. When a change happens, you can either complain about it or adjust your content and adapt. I’ve always been able to adapt to the ever-changing rules. It also helps to work with someone like a YouTube strategist who knows the platform well. I recognize I don’t know everything, and there’s always room for improvement. That’s why I work with a YouTube strategist once a month and get my team up-to-date with the community guidelines.

    Charlotte Dobre in Starbucks Canada ‘At Home’ Commercial

    NYFA: Are there other reaction video vloggers you watch for inspiration or to see what their practices/styles are? 

    CD: There are plenty of reaction vloggers that I admire; however, I tend to stick to ideas that I come up with myself. If there are too many similar videos on YouTube, they trigger steep competition, which results in less of a chance people will find my videos. It’s better to follow your gut and produce something original. 

    NYFA: How do you keep your subscribers interested? 

    CD: I look at topics that have done well in the past. I ask myself, ‘what about that topic kept people interested?’ Was it the thumbnail, the title, or the length of the video? I then come up with variations of that topic that are similar but still original. In addition to coming up with topics independently, I conduct ideation meetings monthly with my content producers, where we flesh out 30-60 ideas. I also employ contractors that specialize in coming up with concepts. 

    NYFA: What skills does one need to enter into vlogging or creating video content on the internet nowadays?

    CD: Above all things, discipline. There are days when you won’t feel like making content, but in order to stay in those algorithms, you have to keep posting. The more you post, the better. 

    Stick to filming in bulk on days you really feel inspired and focus on other things when you don’t want to be on camera. There’s always work to be done, and you have to treat it like a job if you want it to be your job. I also think having a good creative team behind you is key. When inspiration isn’t coming, sometimes the best thing to do is bounce ideas off of other people.

    Portrait Photo for Charlotte Dobre’s self-named YouTube Channel

    Portrait Photo for Charlotte Dobre’s self-named YouTube Channel

    NYFA: Do you see yourself as more of a producer now that you’re working with editors, guests, schedules, etc…? 

    CD: I am definitely a producer as well as a content creator. When you’re a video creator, you’re not just getting in front of a camera — you’re a business owner and have to run a company with multiple employees, lawyers, and accountants. In addition to producing 30+ videos on YouTube a month, I recently was the executive producer of The Swipe Life, with over forty people working on it. 

    NYFA: What made you desire to study acting at NYFA? 

    CD: For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to study acting in New York. I knew people who had already studied at NYFA and had great things to say about the school. I applied, got in, and the rest is history!

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied to your work? 

    CD: Classes at NYFA gave me the knowledge that allowed me to show up on set and know exactly what I was doing. Professionalism in the entertainment industry is very important. Productions want trained actors (not just talented people), and classes at NYFA were very much like a day on set. The first time I booked a job, it was like I had already been an actor for years because of my training at NYFA.

    NYFA: What’s one thing you feel that you couldn’t learn in school but did learn while working on your own terms? 

    CD: School never prepared me for the amount of rejection I’d experienced. I always felt I was a good actress, and I was booking a lot of commercials. Still, I needed to book bigger roles because I lacked opportunity. As a result, I created my opportunities by starting a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, and now The Swipe Life.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Charlotte Dobre for her continued success and endeavors as an actress, comedian, writer, and executive producer. Check out her work on her professional website, her Instagram, and The Swipe Life’s Instagram account for upcoming details!


    November 10, 2022 • Acting, Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 61

  • NYFA Australia’s Aqeedat Chishti Nominated for 2022 Gold Coast Student Excellence Award


    New York Film Academy Australia will be present at the prestigious Gold Coast Student Excellence Awards. The awards celebrate students that make significant contributions to the Gold Coast community through visual and performing arts, as well as charitable initiatives. Previous winners have served as activists and volunteers for impressive causes that range from organizing wide-scale, on-campus student mental health events to tackling health inequalities in diverse populations.

    Nominee & NYFA Student Aqeedat Chishti Strives to be ‘The Voice of the Oppressed’

    Aqeedat Chishti, a student of CUA521020 Diploma of Screen and Media in Filmmaking at NYFA Australia, was nominated for ‘Excellence in Fostering Creative Arts.’ The category recognises a Gold Coast student who mastered an art form, initiated an arts initiative for the community’s benefit, or made a significant contribution as a champion of the community in the arts. The Awards, presented by Study Gold Coast and endorsed by the Office of the Mayor of the Gold Coast, will announce the winners on Friday 11 November 2022 during a gala that celebrates the end of the academic year.

    The Pakistan-born filmmaker won second prize at the National Amateur Short Film Festival with a film she created with her sister and mother, working with no camera and no budget. As a winner, she received a scholarship to join other aspiring filmmakers at NYFA Australia. Following a promise to follow in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, both investigative journalists in Pakistan, Chishti strives to speak on behalf of underrepresented people. She studies filmmaking to help materialize this vision. 

    Chishti was nominated by NYFA Australia for the Gold Coast Student Excellence Awards based on her exciting projects currently in production and pre-production. To learn more about her background, aspirations, and nomination, the team at NYFA Australia sat down with the filmmaker for a one-on-one Q&A.

    New York Film Academy Australia student and filmmaker Aqeedat Chishti

    New York Film Academy Australia student and filmmaker Aqeedat Chishti

    Q&A With Filmmaker Aqeedat Chishti

    NYFA Australia: Tell us about yourself! What is your background, and what brought you to New York Film Academy Australia?

    Aqeedat Chishti (AC): I am a 22-year-old aspiring filmmaker from Lahore, Pakistan. I’ve been fond of writing and have become submerged in art. My journey to New York Film Academy Australia has been surreal and competitive. During my creative journey, I came across the National Amateur Short Film Festival in 2021, which offered a national and international platform for filmmakers. 

    I submitted my film Pathani, co-written and directed by my sister Ibadat Chishti and won second among 1,500 entries from over 72 universities in Pakistan. As a result, I received a scholarship to study filmmaking at NYFA Australia.

    Watch the short film Pathani co-written and directed by Aqeedat Chishti and Ibadat Chishti:

    NYFA Australia: How did you decide on filmmaking as your focus? 

    AC: Since childhood, I’ve observed stories. My father was a crime reporting journalist who followed his father to make a difference in Pakistan’s investigative journalism realm. 

    It was phenomenal to me the impact of storytelling in newspapers. My father always said it was not a job but a lifestyle like the air you breathe. Life brought me closer to the screen, and I remember participating in a documentary while I was seventeen. That experience changed my life. 

    That’s when I realized the power storytelling holds. Stories we tell can impact the lives of characters and the audience. I decided to focus on filmmaking after winning second in the National Amateur Short Film Festival in 2021. I took a leap of faith with a zest to get one eye behind the screen. 

    NYFA Australia: Tell us about your short film Pathani.

    AC: My short film Pathani is a real story of a girl living in a small Pakistani village. She is a live-hearted girl who reveals her hometown and breaks through the camera while conversing with the audience. She expresses herself to the audience and shares her background, culture, and traditions. 

    The girl breaks the stereotype of a local, rural girl, and the film starts and ends with a fierce message. Pathani was shot in first-person POV, allowing the audience to see Pathani’s experiences first-hand. Pathani represents innocence, compassion, and fierceness in a girl who belongs to a faraway land. Pathani is a journey and feeling. 

    Behind the scenes production image from Pathani

    Chishti in action behind-the-scenes

    NYFA Australia: What inspired you to create Pathani

    AC: I created Pathani with my twin sister, Ibadat Chishti, and our mother. We borrowed a camera from my friend and filmed with zero budget. I believe my lens is an empty slate on which the character can write themself. 

    Pathani represents the underrepresented women who live in remote areas of Pakistan. It was essential to give her platform and space to bring forth a character rarely seen on screens. The film gives her a chance to converse with people outside her borders. Pathani comes from the inspiration of wanting to be heard, a need that resides in everyone. 

    NYFA Australia: What did you learn at NYFA Australia that you apply to your work?

    AC: I’ve learnt how to turn my visions into reality. The hands-on experience of filmmaking played a role in my creation of characters. NYFA Australia taught me professionalism and a blueprint to make impactful films. Like Pathani, I envision other stories, and NYFA Australia teaches me industry skills to help me build other films. Studying is like being in a laboratory and formulating story elements that can reach people’s hearts. 

    NYFA Australia: How did you react when you learned NYFA Australia nominated you for the Gold Coast Student Excellence Award?

    AC: I was thrilled and hoped my nomination would help pave the way for a young girl, sitting in a rickshaw, gazing at the world, to tell her story. I feel humbled and thank NYFA Australia for providing me with this opportunity. 

    NYFA Australia: Are you working on other projects? 

    AC: I’m currently writing scripts, working on a short film, including a music video project, and also working on a documentary about people struggling with homelessness. The documentary discusses the conscious movement and healing of people. 

    NYFA Australia: What advice would you share with other students at NYFA Australia?

    AC: Don’t let the words of people affect you. The character you’ve written could become paramount, or perhaps your dialogue needs to be heard by a viewer. Believe in your story and your characters because they are important. 

    Cinema is an art, and the audience is full of people who feel and have their desires. Keep jotting down your visions and believing in yourself. Believe in the character you’ve created, and continue to work toward bringing your vision to reality. It is you who has the power to change your state of mind.

    We all came [to NYFA Australia] with dreams and hopes, leaving our homes and families to find and create stories. Meeting creators here has been a phenomenal experience. There are talented people here and I hope to continue to create impactful art to make a difference. 

    New York Film Academy Australia congratulates Aqeedat Chishti for her incredible work and nomination. You can catch details about her upcoming projects on her Instagram or Facebook account. 

  • NYFA Screenwriting & Filmmaking Instructor Highlighted in 2022 National Arts Education Week


    Writer, Speaker, Producer, and NYFA Screenwriting Instructor Alex Simmons spoke at the 75th Anniversary of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) National Convention in 2022. 

    Watch Writer & Producer Alex Simmons discuss his work & career at the 2022 NAEA National Convention:

    Similar to previous trailblazers in education, Alex Simmons continues to challenge the barriers of modern technology in education, equal representation, and the continued use of stereotypes in contemporary visual media. His renowned work and accomplishments as a creator of visual media are why Simmons was listed among several professionals in this year’s Celebration of National Arts in Education Week by NAEA

    In celebration of the arts and recognition of the transformative power of arts in education, the Americans for the Arts created the National Arts in Education Week. Beginning the second Sunday of September, the National Arts in Education Week takes place each year and highlights transformative figures in the field of education and visual arts. 

    NYFA Screenwriting Instructor Alex Simmons

    NYFA Screenwriting Instructor Alex Simmons

    Readers might be familiar with his feature in the Golden Globe Awards online magazine for his work on “BlackJack,” a comic about the tales of an African American soldier or fortune globetrotting during the turbulent 1930s. Additionally, Simmons wrote for Disney Books, Penguin Press, Simon and Schuster, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. He developed and led master classes across the globe, including in the United States, the Netherlands, Ireland, Senegal, India, Russia, and Serbia. 

    Producer and co-founder of Kids Comic Con, Simmons has been a member of various education boards, including the Africa Cartoon Centre (Nigeria), New York State Alliance for Arts Education, New York State Council on the Arts, and The Museum for Comics & Cartoon Art, among others. 

    Watch an Interview with Writer and Podcast co-host Christoper Ryan and Kids Comic Con Co-Founder Alex Simmons.

    The writer and producer started his career as an actor in his late teenage years. His early portfolio included acting work in films and commercials. As time progressed, Simmons played various roles on stage and carried his career into voiceover work in commercials and public service announcements. When he realized he had been writing more than performing, Simmons pivoted to writing stage plays and screenplays in the documentary, fiction, and animation categories. According to the NYFA Instructor, “I’m still very active as a writer of children’s books, comics, and graphic novels.” 

    Currently, Simmons teaches screenwriting in the Filmmaking Department at NYFA and has taught screenwriting within the Animation and Producing Departments as well. A well-rounded teacher, Simmons has also taught Cinema Studies and a course on Directing Actors. When he is not teaching at NYFA, he coaches a set of private clients and works as a Arts-n-Ed consultant

    When asked about his experiences as a teacher and instructor, Simmons had this to say, “I get the greatest joy out of seeing students discover their abilities and voices as creatives. Whether they pursue this as a career or not, it empowers them as individuals, it improves their communication and collaboration skills and, combined with their creative vision, that is something they can take with them wherever they go.” 

    NYFA congratulates Alex Simmons on his incredible work, continued devotion to the craft of visual arts, and teaching visual arts to youth and adults alike. Check out Alex Simmon’s professional website, where you can find other talks, interviews, and trailers for all his comics and animations!


    November 3, 2022 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 583

  • NYFA South Beach Campus Screens ‘Colonel Jack’ (2022)


    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program, and Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Jack Jacobs had the pleasure of visiting NYFA’s campus in South Beach, Florida last week. He was accompanied by Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Christopher Moore, NYFA’s Director of the Division of Veterans Services. 

    NYFA’s Director of the Division of Veterans Services & Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Christopher Moore

    NYFA’s Director of the Division of Veterans Services & Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Christopher Moore

    NYFA South Beach hosted a screening of the short-documentary, Colonel Jack, which was followed up with a Q&A and networking night with Colonel Jacobs and Chris Moore. The two high ranking and highly decorated military veterans spoke with the students about a variety of topics – among them were leadership and how that translates onto a film set, working through adversity, and hearing from Colonel Jacobs about the circumstances from his tour in Vietnam for which he received the nation’s highest military tribute  –the Medal of Honor. Colonel Jacobs also shared his experiences as an MSNBC On-Air Analyst, fiction and non-fiction author, and Executive Producer of the TV docuseries “10 Weeks”.

    Medal of Honor recipient & NYFA Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs

    Medal of Honor recipient & NYFA Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs

    The audience included NYFA students and veteran-students. NYFA has had the privilege to enroll over 2,500 veterans and dependents of veterans in the past 10 years. With an abundance of programs in the Performing and Visual Arts, NYFA proudly accepts the Post 9/11 GI Bill and is a part of the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program. 


    November 1, 2022 • Community Highlights, South Beach, Veterans • Views: 18

  • Peacock Original ‘Hell of a Cruise’ Produced by NYFA Alum Mehdi Darlis


    You’re stuck on a cruise ship for fourteen days. A mysterious illness is spreading as fast as the Motaba virus in the movie Outbreak (1995). Sounds like a nightmare–except it really happened. 

    In February 2020, off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, the Diamond Princess cruise ship became ground-zero for the spread of the COVID-19 virus among its passengers and the countries in which they returned. 

    Documentary Hell of a Cruise (2022) on Peacock Recalls the Nightmare

    The top-performing original documentary Hell of a Cruise (2022) on Peacock follows the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its passengers after one passenger tests positive for the coronavirus. After the ship is forced to dock and its passengers to quarantine, the documentary shows the U.S. government’s response and immediate attempt to return American passengers, resulting in the rapid spread of the virus en route. 

    Peacock Original ‘Hell of a Cruise’ Produced by NYFA Alum Mehdi Darlis

    Poster for the successful original documentary ‘Hell of a Cruise’ (2022) on Peacock

    The documentary features interview footage from passenger’s experiences on-board during the events, and after they returned home. Footage includes the tight quarters in which passengers were required to quarantine and the medical attempts to save and treat those aboard who tested positive. For anyone who followed the story as it happened in 2020, you’ll remember that there were a reported 700 confirmed cases and over a dozen deaths. The result was considered a premonition of what was about to take place on a global scale. 

    Watch the trailer for Hell of a Cruise (2022) available to stream on Peacock:

    The documentary, directed by Nick Quested, was produced by NYFA’s very own 1-Year Producing Conservatory program alum, Mehdi Darlis. Darlis is producer to a multitude of documentary and short films including BeLoved, Embryo, Vida, Claire, DIVERT LEA, All The Things You Are, Over the net: Dream or illusion? Darlis is also the head of MATTE Films, which is the original content division of MATTE Projects studio.

    NYFA 1-Year Producing Conservatory program alum, Mehdi Darlis

    NYFA 1-Year Producing Conservatory program alum, Mehdi Darlis

    Original Documentary Hell of a Cruise on Peacock Noticed by the Internet

    The documentary, now one of the top-performing movies on Peacock since its release, gained instant popularity. Hell of a Cruise has been acclaimed for its storytelling in Mehdi Hassan’s MSCNBC Show, USA Today, E Online, CNN, and touts a 100% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes

    In an interview with USA Today, director Nick Quested discussed using passenger footage to tell the story of the restrictions placed on the ship. According to Quested, “I’d like the lessons not to be specifically about cruising, but about, you know, government response. It’s like, you need to have a coherent response to this and people need to get away from politicizing it.” 

    Watch Hell of a Cruise (2022) available on Peacock was discussed on The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC:

    When asked by USA Today about the initial project and the activity that happened on the ship, Quested noted “…We were fascinated because the Diamond Princess was the first superspreader event outside of China that we had any type of knowledge of and, you know, it’s interesting, the doctors that went on the boat said, ‘We knew everything we needed to know about COVID at the end of the Diamond Princess.’”

    Neal Weisman, Chair of NYFA’s Producing Department in New York City, and one of Mehdi’s instructors says, “Creating an unscripted television pitch deck and sizzle reel is one of the major production components in the 1-Year Producing Conservatory program. Mehdi was a star student in the program and it is so gratifying to see him using his talents to create popular, yet meaningful content for one of the premiere streamers operating today. I can’t wait to see what Mehdi will produce next!” 

    We want to congratulate the team of the hit documentary Hell of a Cruise and NYFA alum his role as producer on the project. You can watch the documentary, available to stream on Peacock.

    If you’re interested in learning more about Mehdi and his upcoming projects, be sure to follow him on LinkedIn or Instagram.

  • Q&A with MFA Producing Alum Paul Hutchens About the Documentary Series ‘Life After’


    Paul Hutchens, Producer, and Writer is known for his film and television work, including Coconut Cowboys, A Football Fantasy, Loco, The Other Side of Normal, Rabid Love, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, among others. The MFA Producing alum sat with New York Film Academy in a conversation about his latest documentary series Life After now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

    Paul Hutchens’ Life After Premise

    The series follows former players from the National Football League (NFL) as they live their lives in retirement. The show’s first episode features DeMarcus Ware, considered one of the best outside linebackers to play in professional football, as he adjusts to his new life following a back injury that resulted in his professional retirement. The episode showcases Ware as he motivates the members of his own gym, 3 VOLT fitness, and educates the audience on how to spirits high after countless surgeries.

    The series is executive-produced by Hutchens. You can read more about Life After in Paul’s exclusive interview with Variety Magazine.

    Q&A With Producer, Writer, and NYFA Alum Paul Hutchens

    We interviewed Paul about the series, his experience playing football, and experience at NYFA.

    NYFA MFA Producing Alum Paul Hutchens

    NYFA MFA Producing Alum Paul Hutchens and Executive Producer of ‘Life After’


    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us a little about your docu-series Life After?

    Paul Hutchens (PH): Life After is a sports docu-series about retired NFL players in their careers after football. I was able to create this series because of relationships I made while earning my Master’s in Producing at NYFA. A former classmate, Lisa Astakova, introduced me to my good friend and producing partner, Brandon Miree, who played in the NFL for five years.

    Brandon and I produced multiple projects together over the last six years, and before I felt comfortable pitching Life After, I needed confirmation that Brandon was interested in being a part of the production team. However, Brandon was just one piece of the puzzle that made Life After a viable project.

    Luckily, the MFA Producing program at NYFA required multiple internships. Martha Sanchez hired me as an Intern when she was a Manager at Shelter Entertainment Group. Martha quickly became a mentor and one of my most trusted advisors in Hollywood. She helped me get a job as an Assistant at APA, and we have remained close over the years.

    After Brandon signed on, I immediately called Martha because she represents former all-pro NFL running back Thomas Q. Jones, who made the transition from a professional athlete to an actor and producer. Just like any scripted film or TV project, it helps to get talent attached and to me. Thomas was the most important piece of the puzzle that made Life After possible.

    NYFA: What about Life After inspired you to take on the project?

    PH: I played football in high school, and some teachers treated me like a “dumb jock” because I was in the IB program. While a concussion my sophomore year ended my football career almost as soon as it began, my love for football and sports, in general, has never wavered. When the Fox News anchor, Laura Ingram, told LeBron James to “Shut up and dribble,” I realized that the world needs to see that we’re more than athletes and we’re actually quite intelligent and innovative.

    Thomas Q. Jones graduated from the University of Virginia in three years before being selected as the 7th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. Myron Rolle was a Rhode Scholar at Florida State and is now a Neurosurgeon! These guys are intellectually impressive, and I hope Life After helps to eliminate the “dumb jock” stigma.

    As an avid fan of the NFL and self-proclaimed Fantasy Football expert, I was always curious about what the players do with the rest of their lives after football. At NYFA, I was taught that every good story has “life and death” stakes. Of the big four professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL), NFL players have the shortest careers, the most damage done to their bodies, and earn the least amount of money earned because there are 55 players on a team. These games receive ticket sales from 16 (now 17) regular season games. In comparison, an MLB team has 26 players and 162 games, the NHL has 23 players, and the NBA has 15, and each play 82 regular season games.

    If you look at TV ratings, Primetime NFL games get the same number of viewers as the series finale of Game of Thrones, with around 30 million viewers. In 2021, 91 of the top 100 most viewed tv shows or sporting events were NFL games, and yet, the average career earnings for an NFL player before taxes is $6.1 Million while the NBA is $24.7M, MLB is $17.9M, and the NHL is $13.6M. Yet the NBA gets 1 to 3 million viewers for a primetime game.

    Most NFL players will retire from football after three years in the league, and in 2010 the league minimum was around $400k for a rookie, with a slight increase for each additional season played, so it’s important to have a game plan for your life after football. When most people retire at the age of 65, $2 million is the magic number to live comfortably, so you don’t have to work. If you retire in your 20s, you’ll need dramatically more income, so the stakes are the highest for NFL players to figure out a career path following football.

    I was inspired to create Life After because I wanted to help give these players a platform to showcase their talents off the field.

    DeMarcus Ware

    The first episode of ‘Life After’ follows the life of former NLF outside linebacker, DeMarcus Ware


    NYFA: Do any of the stories of the cast resonate with you as a former high school football player who decided to switch career paths?

    PH: As a Film and TV producer, I always gravitate toward stories that are similar to mine. I started my career in professional sports, but not as an athlete.

    I started in the front office of the Carolina Hurricanes, and I was fortunate to be a part of the Stanley Cup Championship team. Thomas’ story resonates with me because he did not aspire to be an actor or producer, it was a calling, and he dove in head first. His acting career started small with a featured extra role in Straight Outta Compton, and his persistence and dedication to his craft led to bigger and bigger roles on series like Luke Cage.

    Now, Thomas is a lead actor and producer of Johnson on Bounce and just finished his second season with Cedric the Entertainer as an Executive Producer. Thomas takes the same approach to be an actor and producer as he did when he was an all-pro NFL running back. His commitment, professionalism, and attention to detail taught me a lot. However, I don’t think we switched career paths.

    Thomas was an entertainer on the field, and now he’s an entertainer off the field. There are a lot of similarities between professional sports and Film/TV production. We’re both still part of a team trying to sell tickets to an audience, we still want to inspire people and put on a good performance that gives people a reprieve from the stresses of the world.

    NYFA: What brought you to New York Film Academy’s MFA in Producing?

    PH: I grew up in Charlotte, NC in the 90s before everyone had cell phones and the internet. I didn’t know film school existed or that it was a viable career choice, but I loved going to and watching movies!

    As ridiculous as it might sound, the HBO series Entourage showed me that a career in Hollywood was possible, and I started to entertain the idea of moving to Los Angeles, but I didn’t know where to start. At first, I started consuming knowledge about how to make films and tv shows, and it quickly became a passion I never knew I had. I started working with a small production team in Charlotte, NC when my boss asked me to research film schools for a potential commercial real estate development project, and I discovered NYFA.

    I read mostly negative comments on message boards that film school wasn’t worth it and that you should just take money to make a film. However, I didn’t know how to write a script or anything about distribution, scheduling, or raising money for a film. I would download scripts online and try to watch some of my favorite films like Braveheart while reading the script, but I quickly learned that the script doesn’t always match what’s on the screen. I thought about applying to UCLA or USC, but the application process didn’t fit my timetable, and NYFA was more hands-on.

    I also liked that all of the teachers at NYFA worked in the industry, and I wanted to learn from professionals, not career/tenured professors. I came to NYFA to build a foundation that gave me the confidence I needed to prepare for a career in Hollywood.

    Watch the Life After Trailer:

    NYFA: What was your experience as a student?

    PH: My time at NYFA was one of the best experiences of my life. IT WAS INTENSE! 30 hours of class per week, 20-30 hours of work outside of class per week, and when I got an internship at Universal Pictures in Physical Production, I worked 40 hours a week even though they only paid me for 30 hours/week.

    I felt like a kid in a candy shop with unlimited money! I consumed knowledge at an unprecedented rate. My film budgeting class was taught by the Senior Director of Finance at Universal Pictures. I learned about story structure and script writing from David O’Leary, creator of Project Bluebook. I got to film on the Universal Studios backlot on the set of Back to the Future. I was able to take lessons I learned in class and immediately apply it to work I was doing at the internships.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied to your work?

    PH: How to write film and television scripts, how to analyze a script, story structure, film finance, entertainment law, how to work with a crew, how to handle and navigate egos, problem-solving on set that projects cost money and if you don’t have money you need to raise money.

    I also learned how to get a permit, film on location (coordinating with police and firefighters), hold a boom mic, set lingo, how to give notes on someone else script, how to take notes on my script, how to pitch a project, time management, and the importance of PREP!

    Definitely the importance of catering and feeding your crew with craft services, audio and music, and wardrobe, the necessity of paperwork and administrative tasks, and how much it sucks–but it needs to be done.

    I learned how to operate a camera, how to set up a dolly, post-production, how to work with actors as both a producer and director, and how to organize and conduct an audition.

    Trust me, the list goes on and on.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about the internship you conducted during your studies that eventually brought you to this latest project?

    PH: The internship was basically a class. Instead of going to class, I went to the internship. My first internship was at Shelter Entertainment Group, a boutique talent management company in Beverly Hills. It took me 1 hr. 15 min. to drive to work from North Hollywood. I worked for 10-15 hours a week basically as an assistant for former William Morris veteran Alan Iezman and his management team which included my mentor and Associate Producer of Life After Martha Sanchez.

    I performed typical assistant tasks like rolling calls, printing and binding scripts, relaying offers, and helping clients with directions to auditions. However, the most important and educational task was maintaining the breakdowns and client submissions/appointments (auditions) in Breakdown Express.

    For people who have never worked in Hollywood, Breakdowns inform talent representatives which projects are moving forward when they expect to start principal production, and what roles they are currently casting. For an aspiring producer, it was my first experience with the Hollywood information highway. I got to learn about what studios were making before they went into production.

    NYFA: Is there advice you would like to share with producing students that you wish you had when you started?

    PH: Get a job in the mailroom or as an assistant at a talent agency or management company. Work hard, don’t complain, and get on a desk and stay there for at least a year (whether or not you want to become an agent).

    You probably don’t if you’re in film school and want to be involved in the creative process. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of working as a talent representative if you want to be a producer, director, or writer. You need relationships with agents, and it’s important to understand the nuances of what projects are getting made and why they are getting made.

    You’ll also read a lot of scripts so you’ll be able to identify a good script from a bad script, especially when you see the finished product. Find your Martha Sanchez!

    Work hard enough that someone wants to be your mentor. It’s common in Hollywood to “send the elevator back down.” Mentors need mentees as much as mentees need mentors. The mentee might help the mentor later in their career, you never know. However, it is the responsibility of the mentee to keep the relationship going. Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help. It’s how you ask and how you react to the answer that will help you develop and keep a relationship.

    Don’t get in the way of your own success. I’ve seen so many people argue about backend percentages that they destroyed the project before it even got made. The backend can be nice and lucrative, but it’s also unlikely. You’ll make more money with the more credits you produce or direct.

    Focus on what you get paid for the project and make the project because the backend is unlikely, and Hollywood is known for creative accounting. Attitude is everything. Attitude is contagious and can infect a production crew or office just like it can on a ship in the middle of the ocean. People don’t want to be around negative attitudes, and it will impact your ability to get hired again. Be the person you would want to work with. Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from them. Don’t let your mistakes define you but take ownership of them and don’t repeat the mistake.

    NYFA: What has been your biggest professional challenge to date?

    PH: Cost of living in Los Angeles and the compensation for entry-level jobs in Hollywood. When I worked at APA as an Assistant, I made $10.50/hour. Hopefully, it’s increased. But being 3000 miles away from my family was even harder.

    NYFA: What’s one thing you feel that you couldn’t learn in school but did learn while working in your field?

    PH: The pace at which information moves through agencies, studios, and networks and the sheer volume of information that you need to consume on a daily basis in order to be successful.


    New York Film Academy congratulates Paul for his outstanding work as a producer and the new series Life After. Be sure to check it out on Amazon Prime!



    October 21, 2022 • Community Highlights, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 36