Laura Bailey-Wickins
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  • NYFA Screenwriting Instructor Paul J. Salamoff Wins at 46th Annual Saturn Awards

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    Paul J. Salamoff, writer, director, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Instructor, received recognition for his latest feature film, Encounter (2019), at the 46th Annual Saturn Awards. The film was awarded ‘Best Independent Film’ at the Awards Ceremony and features a star-studded cast. The Saturn Awards, presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, recognizes great work in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. The non-profit organization was founded in 1972 and just a year later organized the first annual Saturn Awards.  

    Encounter stars Luke Hemsworth (Westworld), Anna Hutchison (Cabin in the Woods), Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon, Halloween III, Creepshow), Cheryl Texiera (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Glenn Keogh (Transformers: Age of Extinction), Vincent M. Ward (The Walking Dead), and Christopher Showerman (George of the Jungle 2). The film was produced by Amy Bailey and distributed by Vega Baby. 

    Encounter follows the story of a wheelchair-bound artist who, after having lost everything in a car crash (including his daughter), experiences hardship once more when his friends discover an otherworldly object crashed in a rural field. He continues to investigate in order to confirm if the strange alien life form has nefarious intentions or if it could be the key to getting back what he once lost. 

    Salamoff, the writer and director of Encounter, describes the film as “a deeply personal film to me and was shaped by the films and filmmakers that have inspired me over the years. Even though it is about loss, grief, and the fear of the unknown, ultimately it’s about hope.” The film is now available for viewing on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and released on Special Edition Blu-Ray.

    Screen still from Bob Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Screen still from Paul Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    The film was inspired by legendary science fiction shows and movies including, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Gattaca, Solaris, Another Earth, Moon, Ex-Machina, and Arrival. Salamoff explored themes of loss, grief, and fear of the unknown in Encounter, with the underlying story surrounding the subject of hope. 

    An industry expert with over 30 years of professional experience in film, television, video gaming, and commercials, Salamoff has worked as a writer, producer, director, executive, comic creator, storyboard artist, and make-up FX artist. He was recently named one of The Tracking Board’s Top 100 up & coming Screenwriters and has developed projects with Mosaic Media Group, Hollywood Gang, Blumhouse, Wigram Productions, Silver Pictures, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Vertigo and Eclectic Pictures. 

    Screen still from Bob Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Screen still from Paul Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Salamoff is the author of ‘ON THE SET: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette’ and the graphic novels ‘Discord,’ ‘Tales of Discord,’ ‘Logan’s Run,’ and issues of ‘Vincent Price Presents.’

    New York Film Academy congratulates Paul Salamoff for his much-deserved win and recognition for the film Encounter at this year’s Annual Saturn Awards.

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    November 23, 2021 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 191

  • NYFA Instructor Claudia Raschke is DP for ‘Fauci,’ ‘My Name Is Pauli Murray’ & ‘Julia’

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    Following her work on the Oscar-nominated documentary, RBG and the Emmy and Sundance-winner, Boys State, cinematographer and NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Claudia Raschke has three new films out this Fall: Fauci, My Name Is Pauli Murray, and Julia

    NYFA Filmmaking Instructor, Claudia Raschke

    NYFA Filmmaking Instructor, Claudia Raschke (above)

    The National Geographic Documentary Film Fauci follows the life and career of Dr. Anthony Fauci through his experiences as an infectious disease specialist and his response to AIDS, Ebola viruses, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Raschke shares about her experience filming on Fauci: “I was in awe of the huge responsibility and leadership Dr. Anthony Fauci shouldered for our nation. Keeping his brilliant mind sharply focused in a highly politicized COVID-19 pandemic made me see what it takes to be a legend.” 

    Following its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, the film was released in theatres and is now available for streaming on Disney+.

    Fauci Claudia Raschke on Set

    NYFA Filmmaking Instructo, Claudia Raschke (left) on set filming Dr. Anthony Fauci for the documentary ‘Fauci.’

    Raschke recently teamed up once again with female co-directing team Julie Cohen and Betsy West to shoot My Name Is Pauli Murray. After premiering in January at the Sundance Film Festival, the documentary feature has since been picked up by Amazon. 

    My Name is Pauli Murray captures the forgotten but brilliant queer, Black legal scholar and activist, Pauli Murray, who influenced former Supreme Court justices Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Raschke added that “Capturing the passionate determination of civil rights activist Pauli Murray makes me appreciate how far we have come and how important it is to pass the knowledge over to the next generation because the fight is not over.” 

    The film is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

    NYFA Filmmaking Instructor, Claudia Raschke

    NYFA Filmmaking Instructor, Claudia Raschke (right) on set filming for ‘Julia.’

    Julia, a portrait of groundbreaking chef Julia Child, which Variety noted was “richly shot by Claudia Raschke,” premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September. Once again, working with co-directing team Cohen and West, Raschke noted how Julia has impacted her as a cinematographer, “The joie de vivre and culinary passion of Julia Child made it possible to find adventure, romance, and a trailblazing career. It revolutionized the way Americans eat and created a new role model for women. She is such an inspiration to me, and my career as a cinematographer, in which 96% are men, and only 4% are women according to the latest Celluloid Ceiling report of 2020.”

    Julia is now out in theatres. 

    NYFA Filmmaking Instructor, Claudia Raschke

    NYFA Filmmaking Instructor, Claudia Raschke (above)

    Raschke has been a Faculty Member of the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Department since 2014. Amanda Brzezowski, Assistant Chair of the Filmmaking Department, Documentary Division describes Raschke, “Not only is Claudia an incredibly talented cinematographer, she’s also an exceptional teacher. Our students love learning from her and getting to work with her as they develop their own cinematic and visual approach.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Claudia on all her successes and hits this Fall.

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    November 22, 2021 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 212

  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Grad Lucia Florez Awarded National Geographic Explorer Grant

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking graduate, Lucía Flórez, was recently awarded the prestigious National Geographic Explorer grant for her upcoming film Shirampari, about indigenous Amazonian fishermen. The film follows Ashéninka leader, Arlindo, as he teaches his 11-year-old son their community’s tradition of catfishing using just a hook. 

    NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Grad Lucia Florez Awarded National Geographic Explorer Grant

    Photo Credit: Christian Luglio / El Taller

    Flórez is joined by Chemi Pérez, a NYFA Filmmaking graduate, who took over the producing role for the project and met Florez while they were studying together in Los Angeles. “NYFA has supported us since the beginning,” Flórez shared, “Learning at NYFA gave us more tools to be able to tell the story.”

    The team shared that the project could only be filmed during a two-week window in the summer due to the water level and conditions. It took the crew several days to get to the remote shooting location via multiple planes, overnight stays in the jungle, a 5-hour boat ride upstream (and dislodging the boat when it repeatedly got stuck in the low tide), and a long hike to the campsite.

    NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Grad Lucia Florez Awarded National Geographic Explorer Grant

    Photo Credit: Christian Luglio / El Taller

    Pérez and Flórez shared the urgency of telling the story at this moment and in showcasing a story that highlights the importance of legacy and conservation. According to Flórez, “It’s a pristine part of the Amazon. The amount of wildlife you see there is amazing. That area will change in the next 10 years… it’s not going to look this way ever again.”

    The film is currently in post-production with plans for a festival run in the Spring of 2022.

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    November 22, 2021 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 118

  • Nika Nikanava’s ‘Generation 328’ Wins Best Student Short at 2021 Woodstock Film Festival

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    Generation 328

    Screen still from Nika Nikanava’s short film, ‘Generation 328’

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking graduate, Veranika (Nika) Nikanava, won “Best Student Short” at the 2021 Woodstock Film Festival with her short film, Generation 328.

    After passing in a tragic hiking accident in Alaska before she could see the film fully finished, Nika’s classmates and other graduates from the NYFA Documentary Filmmaking program worked together to complete the film and submit it to film festivals on her behalf.

    Veranika Nikanava

    Veranika Nikanava (above), NYFA Filmmaking student and posthumous winner of “Best Student Short” at the Woodstock Film Festival

    Anna Panova, one of Nika’s classmates, worked on post production and production of the film. Panova shared that for the graduates supporting the film, “it was important to work on this film as a memory and tribute to Nika’s life. It’s not about us, it’s about her… and making sure that the work of her life is getting proper recognition and is not forgotten. Even though she’s not with us anymore, her work continues to live.”

    Generation 328 is a character-driven documentary following a group of mothers as they defy Europe’s last dictatorship, fighting to free their children from draconian sentences in brutal Belarusian prisons. Under article 328, it is common for young Belarusians to spend around ten years in prison for possession of less than a gram of marijuana. 

    Film Poster for Generation 328

    Film poster for ‘Generation 328’

    The story of Generation 328 is also one that was very personal to Nika. Originally from Belarus, she had a deep passion for telling stories about unheard heroes and was deeply concerned about human rights issues in her home country. Many of Nika’s acquaintances had been detained or knew someone that had been detained under article 328.

    The film had its world premiere at DOC NYC in 2020 and has since been screened at festivals around the world, including the Anchorage International Film Festival, the Ghent Viewpoint Documentary Film Festival in Belgium, and the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival in Canada.

    You can read more about the film or follow Generation 328 on Instagram.

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  • NYFA’s Chris Moore Attends New York City’s Veteran’s Day Reception

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    New York Film Academy’s Division of Veteran Services (DVS) attended New York City’s Mayor de Blasio’s 2021 breakfast reception in honor of Veterans Day. Over 250 veterans and active service members attended the Veterans Day breakfast, including NYFA’s DVS Director, Command Sergeant Major (ret.) Christopher Moore. Mayor de Blasio’s remarks were inspiring and addressed some of the divisions our society is facing, “there are a lot of challenges, and in some ways, it has become a little too fashionable to talk about our divisions. I look around the room right now, I don’t see any divisions. I don’t see any negativity. I don’t see people who can’t work together or find a common bond. To every veteran in this room, to every veteran in this city, to every veteran in this country – we march with you.”

    James Hendon, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services, also provided motivating remarks. The Commissioner welcomed everyone including the New York Film Academy. The Commissioner went on to say, “in a time of many challenges, the armed forces continue to be one of the things that people across the board can respect and believe in. So, I wanted to ask you to salute everyone in this room.”

    NYFA’s DVS Director, Chris Moore, also attended the New York City Veterans Day Parade where roughly 200 marching units, including bands, floats, vintage vehicles, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul marched up Fifth Avenue from 29th Street to 45th Street. The in-person Veterans Day Parade returned for the first time in 2-years. The parade honored all the brave men and women both past and present.

    In the past 10 years, NYFA has proudly welcomed nearly 2,500 veterans and servicemembers’ dependents as students at NYFA; the NYFA community is grateful to each for their service to our country.

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    November 17, 2021 • Faculty Highlights, Veterans • Views: 392

  • Gianluigi Carella To Become A Director for Stept Studios

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    NYFA Filmmaking alum Gianluigi Carella joined the directorial roster at Stept Studios, a creative and production studio known for its advertising. Carella is a graduate of NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory program in New York City. The Italian filmmaker’s body of work includes a myriad of filmmaking jobs. He has worked on popular music videos as well as commercial videos for international brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Samsung, T-Mobile, Prada, Gucci, Dior, Tom Ford, Tiffany & Co., and Spotify. 

    Filmmaker Gianluigi Carella

    Filmmaker Gianluigi Carella

    According to the filmmaker, “Having signed with an agency like Stept has definitely given me access to certain bids and opportunities. I also signed with Nicholas Berglund in Europe for commercial rep and I am represented by Forager.tv as an editor.”

    Carella was first recognized within the industry for his editing on the VMA-nominated ‘Rule The World’ music video for Ariana Grande, featuring 2Chainz. 

    The filmmaker has a forthcoming project, also produced by Stept Studios, for Oakley and is directing a feature documentary for Amazon on Bella Thorne. The documentary features Benji Mascolo and Bella Thorne. The Leone Film Group-produced film is currently in pre-production and will be available on Amazon Prime Video. 

    Filmmaker Gianluigi Carella

    Filmmaker Gianluigi Carella

    Stept Studios prides itself on the creative content its directors produce. The studio provides services in strategy, production, and post-production. Per their website, their team of directors “represent the next generation of storytellers.”

    An article from Shoot details Carella’s extensive and equally impressive career thus far. The NYFA alum started as an editor for Forager after he graduated from NYFA. He began making a name for himself after working on Ariana Grande’s ‘Rule The World’, which would earn Carella a great deal more work. 

    Carella made his directorial debut with the film, The Blind Man’s Ball. Since then, he’s directed many music videos for international artists (including Princess Nokia, Anna, Rich the Kid, Irama, and Sofia Reyes). In the commercial world, the NYFA alum also worked on a series of films for Lux Hotels, Audi, Cartier, and Donna Karan. Additionally, Carella directed and edited an ad for the Riot Games and Mercedes-Benz partnership too. 

    Carella’s advice for students is to get ready for when the opportunities come. The filmmaker says, “If I hadn’t spent so many endless nights smashing my head on the keyboard trying to understand how certain things are done, prepping my website, working on specs and personal projects to show my skills, I wouldn’t have been able to get hired and get noticed. When they come to you, you need to have your stuff together, something to show. Use every single school project as something you could potentially show to a client, go simple and clean, AND LEARN EDITING.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Gianluigi Carella for his impeccable work in the film industry and looks forwards to his upcoming projects.

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    November 5, 2021 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 322

  • Nidhie Sharma Shoots Homemade Trailer For Her New Book, Invictus: The Jungle That Made Me

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    Nidhie Sharma, a NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking alum, is building an impressive career as a filmmaker and as a best-selling author. Sharma worked on multiple projects in varying roles spanning her career, ranging from producing to co-directing to writing, but now she adds author to her CV. Her new book Invictus: The Jungle That Made Me was released on August 10th, 2021. You can see the trailer for her new book below. 

    Sharma has worked as a writer for the web series Inside Edge. Sharma has directed three climate documentaries for Current TV founded by Al Gore, creator of the Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Her list of short films includes Kids Bank of India and Mask in the Mirror.

    She was also Associate Director on the second season of the Indian series adaptation 24, an action thriller show. Sharma has worked with national award-winning filmmaker Sudir Mishra and associate producer/director Melora Hardin’s indie feature You.

    Filmmaker and Author, Nidhie Sharma

    Filmmaker and Author, Nidhie Sharma

    The filmmaker’s literary debut came with her book Dancing With Demons, published by HarperCollins in 2014. Sharma’s latest book Invictus: The Jungle That Made Me made the Outdoor Survivor bestseller charts since its release was first announced.. 

    The alum shared with us that while filming the trailer Invictus, she used only her iPhone as Mumbai was under strict lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    Sharma reflected on her creative journey, saying that thus far it “has been an interesting one” and recalled her days starting out at NYFA. The Filmmaker and Author has a passion for wildlife conservation and gender rights, describing them as “themes that regularly recur in [her] stories”. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Nidhie Sharma on the success of her new book and future endeavors.

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    November 3, 2021 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 373

  • ‘Don Filipo’ by Tim Muñoz Finds Success on Festival Circuit

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    NYFA Acting For Film alum Tim Muñoz directs and writes a recent favorite among the festival circuit. His most recent work, Don Filipo (2021), is a feature-length homoerotic, horror film starring Beverly Benny, Dindeth Ditablan, Rap Robes, Megan Sharpe, and newcomers Adrian Arias and Luis Padilla

    don filipo movie poster

    Don Filipo (2021) Directed and Written by Tim Muñoz

    The story takes place in a remote village gripped with fear after its residents go missing one by one. A young nurse visits the town to look after an ailing town resident, Don Filipo, as terrifying events start to unfold.

    The film premiered at the Philippine Cinemalaya film festival in 2021, and has been showcased across numerous festivals globally. Don Filipo was screened and won ‘Best LGBTQ Film’ at the Stockholm City Film and Luleå International Film Festivals in Sweden, and the Mabig Film Festival in Germany. The film was also named ‘Best International Feature Film’ at the Uruvatti International Film Festival in India. Per a statement from the director about the film, “…I hope it also opens awareness about its message of inclusivity.”

    Tim Muñoz

    Director and Screenwriter Tim Muñoz (above)

    The Phillippines-born director is an alum of the NYFA 1-Week Acting for Film Workshop. His directorial credits include Lodi (2018),  Hombre (2017), and Estranghero (2016). Muñoz maintains a love for independent filmmaking, classic films, and the French New Wave genre. Following fifteen years of work as a director and screenwriter for ABS-CBN and TV5, he transitioned to directing independent films. With close ties to his home country, Muñoz often travels back to the Philippines to create films. He takes inspiration from directors and filmmakers including James Wan, (Annabelle, The Conjuring), and Filipino horror film classics like Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara and Feng Shui

    Don Filipo is a success among critics as well as movie-goers:

    Top Review of Don Filipo on IMDB | May 2021 

    “I have come across a few American-made gay-themed horror movies and I am always left disappointed by the amateurish acting and banal script. Don Filipo, on the other hand, has won me over on so many levels. I find the story quite riveting in its presentation. It is not about originality, but the proper use of directing. The actors did a fantastic job capturing the scenes that even though the movie did not have the benefits of Hollywood special effects, the pacing, lighting, background music and the actors presence make each scene authentic and interesting. Kudos to the writer and director because this was a gay-themed horror done tremendously well.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Tim Muñoz for the success of Don Filipo and the project’s and his deserved awards across the festival circuit.

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    October 28, 2021 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 580

  • NYFA Alum Elizabeth Grimaldo Stars in ‘Algo Azul’ an AFI Latin American Film Festival Official Selection

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    NYFA alum Elizabeth Grimaldo stars in Algo Azul (2021), a selection for this year’s 32nd AFI Latin American Film Festival hosted by American Film Institute. Grimaldo is a 2015 graduate of the Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) Acting for Film program in Los Angeles. The Panama-born actress is recognized for her roles in Dream Killer (2019), Al Otro Lado del Luro (2018), Acepto (2021), Little Star (2016), and Sueños de Verano (2011). 

    Grimaldo’s most recent work, Algo Azul is a romantic comedy that follows the story of a high-end wedding planner, Ana (played by Grimaldo) as she organizes the wedding of a famous actress and influencer, along with her own. When a strange turn of events results in Ana accidentally stealing her clients’ $20,000 wedding dress, Ana resolves to make the most of fate before she’s caught. As Ana and her pursuers engage in a mad dash across Panama City, she reflects on the meaning of true love and learns about herself along the way. 

    Directed by Mariel García Spooner, Algo Azul was filmed in Panama City’s lushly historic Casco Antiguo and was named an official selection for the 2021 Los Angeles Latino and Cine Las Americas film festivals. The film also stars Andrea Pérez Meana, Andres Lutrell, and Pablo Brunstein. 

    The 32nd annual AFI Latin American Film Festival is one of North America’s largest and longest-running showcases of Latin American cinema. Screened films include work from Spain and Portugal as the festival celebrates Ibero-American cultural connections during National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

    The festival is one of Washington’s top events and features international festival favorites, award winners, local box office hits, and debut works by promising new talents. The New York Film Academy congratulates Elizabeth Grimaldo on Algo Azul’s selection at the 32nd AFI Latin American Film Festival and her continued success. 

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    October 28, 2021 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 461

  • Recent NYFA Screenwriting Alumni Celebrate with Industry Pitch Fest

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    Due to the global pandemic NYFA, like most of the world, turned to remote education and many of NYFA LA’s recent Screenwriting graduates took classes, developed and workshopped their stories, and pitched in a virtual setting.  But on Thursday, October 7th, 2021, for the first time in over a year, our students were able to pitch in-person to industry professionals.  We celebrated with a return to the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood for an industry PitchFest for the MFA and BFA graduates who completed their degrees during the pandemic.

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent BFA & MFA Graduates at the Andaz Hotel for NYFA’s 2021 PitchFest

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting students, offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their Film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.  And as an added bonus, many of the Screenwriting department faculty came to the Andaz to support the alums and, in many cases, meet them face-to-face for the first time.

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent MFA & BFA graduates pitching their thesis projects at the Andaz Hotel

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

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent MFA & BFA graduates pitching their thesis projects at the Andaz Hotel

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

    2021 PitchFest NYFA Screenwriting Alumni

    Recent MFA & BFA graduates celebrate with Screenwriting Department faculty

    Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Morgan Dameron, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including — Verve, Lit Entertainment Group, Anonymous Content, Fake Empire, VMI Worldwide, Imagination9, Yousif Nash, Scenario Entertainment, and Muidem Media.

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

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    October 25, 2021 • Alumni Events, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 608