Robert Cosnahan
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  • Congratulations MFA, AFA, MA & BFA Graduates in Los Angeles!



    It was a beautiful California day on Saturday, May 28th when New York Film Academy students receiving their MFA, AFA, MA and BFA degrees in Filmmaking, Acting, Producing, Screenwriting, Photography, Game Design, Documentary, Cinematography and Feature Track studies, gathered at the Harmony Gold Preview house in West Hollywood for their degree program commencement ceremonies. Graduations at 10:00am2:00pm, and 6:00pm were packed with family and friends of the graduating students showing their support.

    Commencement speakers actor Peter Onorati (Goodfellas, Rocketman), director/actor Marty Sader (Monday Nights At Seven, Most High), and producer/writer Jeanette Collins (Big Love, Suddenly Susan) as well as NYFA department chairs and deans gave encouraging words of advice for navigating the entertainment industry and life in general.

    Congratulations to all of NYFA Los Angeles 2016 degree program graduates!

    10:00am Graduation


    MFA in Acting


    Amitabh Agarwal

    Nicoletta Brunelli

    Pablo Castel

    Theodore George Crosby

    Sebastian Faure

    Kyly Hawk

    Andrew William Lynton Jackson

    Danny Kay

    Delon Lyadi

    Federico Mallet Flores

    Andrea Méndez

    Tetiana Mesiura

    Matthew Miller

    Julia Edith Arteaga Padilla

    Wilfredo Ramos Jr.

    Katisha Sargeant


    BFA in Acting


    Joseline Angulo

    Roman Arnaize

    Melissa Carvajal

    Schuyler Dalenberg

    Andrea Fernandez Rivera

    Robert Fisher

    Elizabeth Frohlich

    Giulia Giovanetti

    Helena Horta

    Kardelen Isleyen

    Jordan Knapp

    Bronson Lassetter

    Tracy Lewis

    Maria Isabel Luege Marvan

    Ali Mahmood

    Nicholas Massa

    Yang Li

    Yu Lin

    Valeriya Matveeva

    Muhammad Mazhar

    Anthon Meyer

    Joshua Michael Moore

    Meenaz Palsani

    Samantha Prevost

    Laura Gudiño Rodriguez

    Asdis Thula Thorlaksdottir


    AFA in Acting


    Emily Accattato

    Claudia Juliana Arciniegas Rodriguez

    Christopher Beech

    Ashley Cardenas

    Lavelle Clarke

    Fany De La Tejera

    Hanna Dotevall

    Joseph Daniel Equihua

    Janet George

    Raven Lee Glover

    Elizabeth Grimaldo

    Vera Veronica Järvi

    Joshua Liwosz

    Nina Ferreira Lopes

    Gaston Alexander Lopez III

    Juan Manrique Ugarte

    Kamali Martin

    Bianca Martins Viegas

    Lucia Moerk

    Maria de Sa

    Peter Wang

    Jasmin Kirst

    Onur Tekin

    Ian Warner

    Ronald Watts

    Brett Yuille

    2:00pm Graduation


    MFA in Filmmaking


    Nada Al Mojadedi

    Sulafa Ibrahim Alasiri

    Majid Alsharif

    Victoria Nicks

    Alexandr Shashenkov

    Victor Alberto Velasco

    Rodrigo Zanforlin

    Kshitij Bal

    Anatoliy Kim

    Xiongze Ren

    Hui Yuan


    MFA in Filmmaking (Feature Track)


    Keith Anderson

    Sonia Bajaj

    Li Yuan


    MA in Film & Media Production


    Oguzhan Akdogan

    Denise Alessandra Ambroggio

    Chaitanya Kumar Gandikota

    Ruchira Janwalikar

    Ievegen Khazin

    Nency Maisuria

    Witawit Rattanathitinun

    Andalib Rubayat

    Luis Sanchez

    Victoria Tapp


    BFA in Filmmaking


    Jon Beroiz Lopez

    Tomas Diaz Gomez

    Stephanie Dieter

    Brianna Flores-Stanton

    Shane Golden Antonucci

    Alejandro Kahuam

    Haifeng Wang

    Xuhan Gao

    Aijia Li

    Zhong Ren

    Sandy Sai

    Sixing Su

    Li Wei


    AFA in Filmmaking


    Maans Reimer


    MFA in Photography


    Amani Alhomeid

    Alaa Alrafaihi

    Michael Iloba

    Lian Liu

    Alify Nasution

    Nataliya Rudenko

    Madawi Zabarmawi


    BFA in Photography


    Gabriela Azuaje Rodriguez

    Casey McGeorge

    Colleen Stavrakos


    MFA in Cinematography


    Rakan Abdullah Aljamie

    Jiachen Dong

    Dmitry Fursov

    Ruixi Gao

    Jeremy Harris

    Bowen Jiang

    Mohammed Khayat

    Ji Yoon Kim

    Christopher Brendan Kistan

    Nattaphon Voranapa

    Yuchen Yan

    Bo Ye


    6:00pm Graduation


    MFA in Screenwriting


    Charles Ancelle

    Jimena Lucia Carias Zuniga

    Saanya Dua

    Ashley Hargrove

    Hyunmin Jun

    Jeff Kimball

    Robert Thorpe

    Bartosz Tomaszewski

    Breonna Young


    BFA in Screenwriting


    Gal Cohen

    Dion Moosa

    Nuttawuthi Nakong

    Adam Teitelbaum

    Michael Teitelbaum


    AFA in Screenwriting


    Allison Catalfumo

    Anastasiia Cherkashyna

    Joon Sung Seung


    MFA in Producing


    Dusica Aleksic

    Alastair David Boyd

    Krystina Olivia Christiansen

    Jiyin Hong

    Vamsi Jonnalagadda

    Yi Ke Kou

    Sai Sen Lee

    Xiaoxiao Ma

    Shane Miller

    Julian Molina

    Dmitrii Aleksandrovich Musikhin

    Annamaria Pupart

    Nelson Rivera-Jimenez

    Ruben Rueda Valenzuela

    Yuxiao Wang

    Xiaoshi Zhu


    MFA in Producing (Feature Track)


    Mohammed Alshoaiby


    BFA in Producing


    Tom Bateman

    Rebecka Kristensson

    Milagro Mejia


    AFA in Producing


    Nyshon Ferrell

    Chor Kei Hui

    Andreina Perez

    Sim Sagiroglu

    Jing Shi

    Yizhou Su

    Huan Yu

    Kai Zhao

    Joel Seidl

    Peijun Zou


    BFA in Animation


    Mohammed Abuhaimd

    Yousef Badeeb

    Jessica Chung

    Tian Lan


    June 6, 2016 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5760

  • Screening of “Dirty Grandpa” and Q&A with Producer Barry Josephson

    Barry Josephson

    Barry Josephson

    Last week, New York Film Academy students were invited to a theatre in the Warner Bros. lot to view the recently released, still in theaters, Dirty Grandpa, starring Robert De Niro, and Zac Efron, followed by a Q&A with Producer Barry Josephson. De Niro plays the titular “Dirty Grandpa,” a recent widower who convinces his straight-laced grandson (Zac Efron) to take him to Florida for Spring Break. The Q&A was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA instructor Stephanie Lindquist.

    Josephson spoke to the importance of always hunting for new material to work with, saying, “I don’t create intellectual property, I find it.” He cited books as a common source, including for his hit television series Bones and AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies. He also told students that “a lot of it is going out there, talking to agents” to get new projects—not just waiting around for a great idea.

    One student asked what Josephson had done to set himself apart early on. Josephson cited his attitude, advising students that “I think as a guppy in this business, you want to have good ideas. You want to have a positive attitude—[other people] have their own problems—always [be] a problem solver.” He said that people don’t like to work with others who are negative.


    When asked about what it’s like to be asking for money for a project, Josephson talked about how important it is to have a lot of confidence for the project, and to not ask for money until you truly believe in it. He let the students know that they should “go in with as much confidence as possible…[you have to believe] you know better…[and] invest yourself.”


    March 16, 2016 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 3849

  • Cinematographer Julio Macat Talks Comedy with Students after ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ Showing


    Last week, New York Film Academy welcomed Julio Macat, a cinematographer known for his work on comedies such as the Home Alone series, Wedding Crashers, and Pitch Perfect, for a Q&A after screening Horrible Bosses 2. Horrible Bosses 2 features an ensemble cast of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Chris Pine. The discussion was moderated by Dean of Students Eric Conner and Associate Chair of the Cinematography Department Mike Williamson.

    julio macat

    Julio Macat

    Macat arrived before the film started to introduce the film and let students know what to be watching for. He specifically talked about style when shooting comedy, saying that when he first started in the industry, “comedies were shot in kind of a bright way, less contrast. I’ve been able to do comedies that are less bright, more rich,” he added. He also talked about how it isn’t just music that affects the pace of a film, it’s “figuring out when the camera should be moving and when it should be static.”

    After the film, Dean of Students Eric Conner introduced Macat, and started the Q&A. Macat opened up about his personal attitude toward filming, telling students that they should always be flexible and go with the flow when filming and that “the worst thing to do is to fix yourself, 100%, this is what you’re going to do—most of your best work is going to be happy accidents.”

    macat eric conner

    Macat asked the students about themselves when they came up to ask questions, and when one student expressed a nervousness about lighting, Macat reassured them, saying that, “it took me years to get a hang of lighting. What helped me most about lighting [was] observing real light.”

    His final word of advice to our students was to “work with something they’re passionate about.”


    March 14, 2016 • Cinematography, Guest Speakers • Views: 6968

  • Producer Oren Koules Screens “Saw” with NYFA Instructor David Armstrong


    New York Film Academy students were treated to a special screening of the groundbreaking, and box office record making, indie horror film Saw and participated in a Q&A with the film’s producer Oren Koules and cinematographer / NYFA instructor David Armstrong. Producer Tova Laiter moderated the discussion.

    In 2003, Koules made an almost one million dollar investment with partner Mark Burg to produce Saw. By 2011 the Saw franchise had earned roughly 870 million at the box office. The movie, shot in a mere 18 days, was a very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience according to Oren and David Armstrong (cinematographer of Saw I through VI). The luxuries of a studio movie were nowhere to be seen on this film set. They would often have to get a shot in one take because of time or resource restrictions. However, the run-and-gun nature of making the film, coupled with the fact that Oren was betting everything on an idea he simply believed very strongly in, was an exhilarating experience that made him feel alive.

    Oren Koules

    Producer Oren Koules

    Oren Koules’ story is one that defies Hollywood logic. At the age of thirty-one Oren decided to become a Hollywood producer and he moved to Los Angeles. He tried to get a job as an assistant, but without any industry-related experience, nobody would hire him. However, Oren let none of that deter him and decided instead to just go straight for his goal. Koules was introduced to former Los Angeles Times reporter, Dale Pollock, and the two formed Peak Productions soon after. Together, they packaged films that began getting studio attention for their undeniably good and cutting-edge taste. After landing deals they began producing films like Mrs. Winterbourne and Set It Off. The early success of Peak Productions led Koules to a job as the Senior Vice President of Production at Paramount Pictures. In 1998, Koules and Mark Burg founded management / production company Evolution Entertainment. They produced the Denzel Washington-led thriller film, John Q, which was released in 2002.

    Evolution Entertainment was also responsible for the production of Two and a Half Men starting in 2003. At this time Oren forged a relationship with Charlie Sheen. Having starred in a string of B-movies, Sheen’s Hollywood value had dropped. Oren saw a new future for Charlie—as a TV star. He convinced Sheen to stop making movies for six months to neutralize his image and until his former representation contracted ended. After that, Koules signed him to Evolution Entertainment and he maneuvered Sheen onto his iconic role as Charlie Harper on Chuck Lorre’s Two and a Half Men and became an executive producer on the show. Not bad for Oren having only arrived to Hollywood a little more than a decade before!

    saw screening

    Producer Tova Laiter, Oren Koules, and David Armstrong

    When asked what advice Oren had for filmmakers just starting out in the entertainment industry, his message was simple: “Just believe in yourself.” This wraps up the experience of meeting Oren Koules in so many ways. The man exudes the calm, confidence of a do-er. Oren’s journey through Hollywood has been a steady, determined march as he manifests his goals. His example helps one to truly believe that the key to success is found in believing.

    We sincerely thank Oren Koules and David Armstrong for speaking at the New York Film Academy and wish them continued success in their careers!


    March 9, 2016 • Cinematography, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 5269

  • Adventures on the Big Screen Series at Los Angeles Campus


    nyfa los angeles

    Has this happened to you? You’re in a class, and the instructor asks, who has seen… and then they name some “classic” film.

    You’ve never seen it, but maybe you’ve heard about it. Or maybe you have seen it, but nobody else in the class has. And if you have seen it, ask yourself this, did you see it the way it was meant to be seen? In a theater, on a BIG SCREEN, with an audience?

    The best movie-going experiences gather us together in dark rooms with loved ones, friends and strangers, immersing us in the lives of characters who show us the best and worst of ourselves. Movies communally transport us to other worlds, extraordinary and ordinary, real and imagined. Great movies move us, enlighten us, and most importantly, entertain us. They make us laugh, cry and think.

    one flew over cuckoo nest

    ADVENTURES ON THE BIG SCREEN is all about great movies. Each one has been selected and will be presented by a New York Film Academy instructor. And they are all movies that anyone who wants to make movies must see!

    “Adventures on the Big Screen” series will be happening every other Monday at our NYFA Los Angeles Theater at 7:00pm.


    March 7 – Chungking Express (1994) – Directed by Wong Kar-Wai. 

    Even if all it had to offer were writer-director Wong Kar-Wai’s thrillingly distinctive visuals, this film would be well worth watching. But the thoughtfully drawn characters and naturalistic performances pack a potent dramatic punch. Presented by Mike Civille.

    March 21 (7:30 pm) – Do the Right Thing (1989) – Directed by Spike Lee. 

    One of the most important films of the 1980’s, writer-director-actor Spike Lee dives head-first into a whirlwind of social issues, all set on the hottest day of the year on one racially mixed Brooklyn block. Presented by Leander Sales, who worked on the film.

    April 4 – Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. 

    Widely regarded as the greatest movie musical of all time, this singing, dancing masterpiece also features a smart, funny screenplay set in a Hollywood transitioning from silent films to sound. Presented by Denise Carlson.

    April 18 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Directed by Milos Forman. 

    Only 3 films in history have swept all 5 major Oscar categories (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress), and this is one of them. Grounded by Jack Nicholson’s phenomenal performance as a mental institution rebel, it’s a movie that celebrates freedom and the human spirit. Presented by Greg Marcks.

    May 2 – Some Like it Hot (1959) – Directed by Billy Wilder. 

    Perhaps the great American comedy, this hilarious, cross-dressing satire features incomparable writing, direction and cast – Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. Presented by James Rowe.


    March 4, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 3589

  • Screening of 2016 Oscar Nominated “Room” with Oscar Nominated Director Lenny Abrahamson Q&A


    New York Film Academy students gathered in a Warner Bros. theater to watch the 2016 Oscar nominee Room followed by a Q&A with Director Lenny Abrahamson. The students were blown away by the film, which was released last September to rave reviews and recently awarded actress Brie Larson with Best Actress at the Academy Awards. Lenny Abrahamson inspired and enlightened the students with the discussion that followed. The event was moderated by producer Tova Laiter.
    lenny abrahamson
    Lenny emphasized the importance of students networking with each other. He has a longstanding, deep relationship with his producer, composer and writer—which has been a key factor in his projects being realized. When it’s more than just you, it helps in believing what you’re doing is actually real. In an industry where it’s easy to start feeling like your dreams are impossible, the support from the nucleus group is vital. Therefore, NYFA students’ greatest resource is their fellow students.

    Since a large part of the film took place in a single room, one NYFA student asked whether blocking actors in such a limited space proved to be difficult. Lenny said that initially this was a concern of his. He was challenged to take inventory of all the director’s resources—shot size, varying backgrounds, etc.

    Once he got into the thick of it, Lenny found that the story fueled him with enough variations to have the tiny space not be a limitation, except for the difficulty of squeezing the crew. Perhaps the best art comes not from the freedom but from limitations imposed on us.

    tova lenny

    Tova Laiter with Lenny Abrahamson

    Another question was about directing a seven-year-old boy, Jacob, to an especially praised performance. Mr. Abrahmson said that some of the technique was mimic, some improv; and toward the end Jacob was really on point and flowing. Having a child on set also helped lead actress Brie Larson—when things got too depressing, Jacob was on set to lighten the mood. Lenny also made sure Brie and Jacob had time to bond before the movie started.

    Lenny finally discussed his famous pitch letter to the author of the bestseller book and how it helped him get the job that so many other directors wanted. Most other directors just said how wonderful the book was, but he wrote a five-page letter about his vision while telling her why the other approaches she might have had would not work. Clever, productive and got the job done! (You can read the letter on the Internet or IndieWire blog.)


    March 1, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 5141

  • Congratulations MFA, AFA, MA & BFA Graduates in Los Angeles!


    It was a bright and sunny California day on Saturday, January 30th when New York Film Academy students receiving their MFA, AFA, MA and BFA degrees in Filmmaking, Acting, Producing, Screenwriting, Photography, Game Design, Documentary, Cinematography and Feature Track studies, gathered at the Harmony Gold Preview house in West Hollywood for their degree program commencement ceremonies. Graduations at 10:00am, 2:00pm, and 6:00pm were packed with family and friends of the graduating students showing their support.

    nyfa la grad

    Commencement speakers actress Heather Hemmens (Hellcats, The Vampire Diaries, The Dukes of Hazard, etc.), writer Courtney Lilly (Black-ish, The Cleveland Show, I’m Through with White Girls, etc.) and writer/director/actress Cathryn Michon (A Dog’s Purpose, Muffintop: A Love Story, etc.) as well as NYFA department chairs and deans gave encouraging words of advice for navigating the entertainment industry and life in general.

    Congratulations to all of NYFA Los Angeles 2016 degree program graduates!

    10:00am Graduation

    MFA in Acting

    Logan Arneson
    Darrell Bernard Bailey
    Amy Burzak
    Cristina Castano Brunet
    Carla D’Errico
    Rishi Das
    Feifei Di
    Jose Antonio Gil Vigna
    Xavier Keither Hatten
    Timothy Hildebrand
    Zane Shah Kanampuram
    Tin-Yu Lien
    Israel James Lister
    Patricia Luiza Coeli Medeiros de Carvalho Peixoto Diego Medellin
    Meghan Modrovsky
    Lauren Mosley
    Anthony Mottola
    Quentin L. Murphy
    Sabrina Pecario
    Jennifer Michelle Scruggs
    S. Alicia Seecharan
    Jazmine Wilson
    Yuqing Wu
    Qiner Zhang
    Nila Zojaji

    BFA in Acting

    Joseline Angulo
    David Bradberry
    Alberto Coutinho Aguiar
    Schuyler Dalenberg
    Kaitlyn Hill
    Katie Mejia
    Joshua Moore
    Christin Muuli
    Mara Topic

    AFA in Acting

    Sigfrido Bobonis Jr.
    Avik Bose
    Raiyah Jane Brown
    Katarina Czabafy
    Shaundel Davis
    Jens Engels
    Ahmad Wais Feroogh
    Jazmin Hamilton
    Robert Hughes
    Sarah Lea
    Phoebe Munford
    Daniel L. Nordling
    Gabriella Pretto
    Grecia Salamon Rodriguez
    Kyler Charles Sawyer
    Maisie Grace
    Alvarez Seavill
    Sofia Steen
    Oliver Villeta

    MFA in Screenwriting

    Louis Cooley
    Brittany Crawley
    Korbinian Hegele
    John Leary
    Sisan McNeil
    Aleksandra Milanova
    José Abel
    Rangel Osorio
    Beatriz Irene Romero Cuellar
    Julian Santos
    Nil Simsek
    Nidheya Suresh
    Peter Szaraz
    Yue Xu

    BFA in Screenwriting

    David Castillo
    Axel Ruelas
    Shari Thakar

    MFA in Photography

    Hadeel Ali B Alahmari
    Hongbin Dai
    Zhuoqun Jiang
    Khulud Muath
    Parth Sutaria

    MFA in Game Design

    Yimeng Du
    Anand Menon
    Edward William Penn
    Yuanyuan Zhu

    MFA in Documentary

    Michelle Flores
    Raed Salagoor
    Alejandro Talens

    2:00pm Graduation

    BFA in Filmmaking

    Rakan AlJabr
    Aman Anand
    Arthur Baptista Galvão
    Maan Binabdulrahman
    Juliana Isa Biondi Gomes
    Santiago Caicedo Valencia
    Jaime Carbajal
    Lucas Diercouff
    Pedro Jose Duran Fernandez
    Tammy-Anne Fortuin
    Renato Gontijo
    Kayd Hildebrandt
    Atinuke Ilupeju
    Jeremy Jimenez
    Keline Kanoui
    Ryan Kenny
    Joshua King
    Yassein Koptane
    Chenyang Li
    Seng Jee Low
    Yulia Melnikova
    Kamila Razykova
    Ilya Rozhkov
    Ruperto Sanchez
    Nicholas Seeley
    Maria Florencia Serrao
    Medet Shayakhmetov
    Jiaojiao Wang
    Mengfei Wang
    Haifeng Wang
    Li Wei
    John Willment-Knowles
    Jarod Dean Winchester

    AFA in Filmmaking

    Matheus Ronn Leite
    Xing Li
    Shantanu Paranji
    Louis-Edouard Tete

    MFA in Producing

    María Lea Aevarsdóttir
    Apurva Agarwal
    Zainab Abdullah
    Alzori Kristel Boulos
    Yue Duan
    Abraham Dunmeyer
    Laura Gutiérrez Rozo Paul-Felix Heinisch
    Laura Hurtado Gomez
    Karina Ibragimova
    Lu Jia
    Ontonio Karam
    Matthew Daniel Koss
    Qi Liu
    Yijian Lou
    Yu Meng
    Tarilate Owei
    Sean Parker
    Katja Lucie Sophie Reventlow-Grinling Takamasa Saito
    Christina Sawyer
    Jiajun Song
    Maria Teresa Velez Pinto
    Lin Wang
    Kristopher Welcome
    Yan Yan
    Gang Yang
    Sile Zhang

    MFA in Producing – Feature Track

    Abdullah Kurashi

    BFA in Producing

    Barbara dos Santos
    Ribeiro Vitor Faria Hage

    AFA in Producing

    Guillermo Padilla
    Raza Servia
    Paige Elizabeth White

    MFA in Cinematography

    Maram Al Jaoser
    Belal Albadr
    Joseph Bornilla
    Marvin Geovanny Dubon
    Liu Han
    Giovanni Andres Hernandez
    Dhruv Jayant Lapsia
    Ernesto Pletsch
    Haozhe Zhang

    6:00pm Graduation

    MFA in Filmmaking

    Dina Abdel Aziz
    Mohamad Al Yamani
    Tariq Abdullah Almoqati
    Hiroshi Azuma
    Sonia Bajaj
    Erik Carlson
    Simon Grinde Drivdal
    Shagun Goel
    Mengxue Hu
    David Johnson
    Dennis Larkin
    Alexandra Lebona
    Dong Lei
    Bowen Li
    Xiaoxiao Li
    Xi Ling
    Qi Lu
    Xiaoyun Luo
    Hyunjung Moon
    Ibrahim Nada
    Li Niu
    Yufei Qiao
    Minghao Shen
    Ruowei Wang
    Shuhe Wang
    Xinyi Wang
    Zhengduo Wang
    Konrad Weixelbraun
    Jun Xia
    Hui Yuan
    Li Yuan
    Yi Zhang
    ZhiHua Zhong
    Yuqing Zhu

    MFA in Filmmaking – Feature Track

    Michael James Dominguez
    Yul Gatewood
    Adam Marson
    Gehan Naber
    Aloaye Omoake
    Assaad Yacoub

    MA in Film & Media Production

    Cyndell Addison
    Omoladun Adenuga
    Ruslan Baitenov
    Chelsea Blaire Charles
    Maytus Chernpipat
    Raymond Lenny Kiston Clarisse
    Anthony Charles A. Coralejo
    Sara Maria Duque Restrepo
    Sherando Ferril Cupid
    Julio García Escames
    Daniel Gomez
    Sudesh Kumar Jayaraj
    David Khodzhamiryan
    Georgy Khodzhamiryan
    Ekaterina Kostina
    Thirati Kulyingwattanavit
    Adriana Ledesma
    Xi Li
    Binyue Liu
    Jiping Liu
    Dingmaomao Ma
    Vasha Narace
    Jose Diego Nava Moreno
    Cheuk Yan Ng
    Zolbayar Odkhuu
    Mema Ojukwu
    Joana Prata Pereira de Mattos
    Grazielle Simoes
    Ronda Suder
    Kehao Sun
    Arvind Venugopal
    Zexia Wang
    Shang Wu
    Weiwei Xie
    Yue Yang
    Zichao Yang
    Uzma Zakaria


    February 9, 2016 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6749

  • Prolific TV Director Mary Lou Belli Brings Her Acclaimed Sitcom Workshop to NYFA


    mary lou belli

    New York Film Academy students received a special treat when Emmy award-winning TV director Mary Lou Belli taught her acclaimed sitcom directing and acting workshop at the school. Mary Lou has been directing television for over 20 years and the shows she’s worked on include NCIS New OrleansMonkHart of DixieWizards of Waverly PlaceSister SisterCharles in ChargeGirlfriends, and The Game, to name a few. She has co-authored three books, “The NEW Sitcom Career Book,” “Acting for Young Actors,” and “Directors Tell the Story,” with fellow DGA member Bethany Rooney.

    mary lou belli

    The theater was packed with filmmaking and acting students thrilled to learn more about the art of sitcom. Mary Lou first lectured, sharing crucial sitcom concepts and vocabulary, and then brought groups of volunteering students to the stage where she paired them off to run classic sitcom scenes. Mary Lou critiqued the students’ performances using the concepts and vocabulary she taught them, and had them run the scenes again and again until they perfectly popped like any comic gem you’d see on television. She also cycled in and out filmmaking students to shadow her as director and jump in with their own scene critique and reworking when called upon. The energy in the room was high and students raced to the stage to be the next to participate. The audience cheered and burst out in laughter at every scene iteration.

    mary lou

    NYFA students were also happy to discover that the curriculum and experience that they received is very close to what they saw from a world-class sitcom director.

    We sincerely thank Mary Lou Belli for imparting her wisdom on to us and look forward to the next wonderful TV show she directs!


    January 18, 2016 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 4471

  • Producer Jack Rapke Brings “The Walk” to NYFA


    New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles received a special viewing of The Walk (directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, and Charlotte Le Bon), which is not yet released to DVD or Blu-ray, and afterwards participated in a Q&A with the movie’s producer Jack Rapke. The Walk is a 2015 American 3D biographical drama based on the story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. Producer Tova Laiter moderated the discussion.

    jack rapke

    Jack Rapke took a rather roundabout path to get to where he is today. After graduating from film school he first aspired to be a cinematographer and tried hard to get into New York’s camera union. Finding it difficult to launch his dream Rapke considered other avenues into the film industry and after a series of loose connections found himself at an interview for a spot in the William Morris agency’s mailroom. A week after he was hired for the job he received an acceptance letter from New York’s camera union. Jack was faced with a life-defining choice—go back to New York and pursue a career as a cinematographer or stay in Los Angeles and try his hand at being an agent. Feeling he had an innate talent for it, Jack decided to pursue a career in representation.

    Rapke was quickly promoted from William Morris’s mailroom, eventually became a top agent, was head-hunted by CAA and rose to co-chair of their motion picture department. His client list included some of the biggest names in Hollywood such as Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Michael Bay, John Hughes, Joel Schumacher, and Imagine Entertainment partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Jack tells people, “The reason I was such a good agent was because I was not an agent.” By breaking the mold clients were comfortable with Jack and found him relatable. As a young assistant at William Morris an agent got in his face one day and told him, “Listen to me, if you want to represent them, you can not be scared of them!” Jack took this principle to heart and as he climbed the ranks he witnessed how every agent and manager surrounding him was deathly afraid of their clients. However, his ability to see his clients as equals gained him the respect of Hollywood’s most powerful players. Another trait that Rapke contributes to his success as an agent is that he always told the truth. He never danced around the issues or got someone else to do the dirty work with his clients—he was 100% up front. But being honest doesn’t mean being harsh, as an agent, and still to this day, Rapke is known as one of the nicest guys in Hollywood and someone who will ALWAYS return your call. Jack believes that if someone calls him they’re essentially saying, “I value and respect you and what you have to offer” and not returning their call, which is the most basic form of respect in return, is a complete insult.

    After 17 years of being an agent Jack was faced with another life-defining choice—he could continue as an agent, and probably coast very well at that for the rest of his life, or he could pursue what he set out to do from the beginning which was actually making movies. Rapke was forced to look into the abyss and acknowledge that if he was to take the leap into film producing he risked falling from such great heights as a successful agent and being a massive failure. However, Jack knew if he didn’t answer the call he felt deep inside and continued living on the other side of the glass looking in on those doing what he wanted to do, it would destroy him. So Rapke partnered with director Robert Zemeckis and formed their company ImageMovers. He went on to produce a remarkable body of acclaimed films including Cast Away (starring Tom Hanks), What Lies Beneath (starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer), the Oscar-nominated Flight (starring Denzel Washingtion, Don Cheadle and John Goodman), the Ridley Scott-directed Matchstick Men (starring Nicholas Cage), Real Steel (starring Hugh Jackman) and movies utilizing Zemeckis’s pioneering performance-capture and 3-D technology including The Polar ExpressMonster HouseBeowulf, and A Christmas Carol. He also produced the Showtime series The Borgias, starring Jeremy Irons. So to say the least, Jack’s decision to no longer be the guy representing the person who makes films and BE the person who makes films, paid off.

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    Producer Tova Laiter with Producer Jack Rapke at NYFA LA

    Jack Rapke’s journey to the successful producing career he enjoys today is as thrilling and twist-packed as one of his blockbuster films. At the end of the evening Jack got serious with the audience and said, “Look, there was always only two paths for me. I was either going to be accepted into this industry whatever form that took by the powers that be, and I still don’t know who those powers are, or they were going to have to kill me. It was binary. There was never any other choice.” While saying this Jack’s conviction, which got him to where he, was felt by everyone in the crowd and they broke out in applause.

    We sincerely thank Jack Rapke for stopping by the New York Film Academy to impart his wisdom on our students and look forward to seeing his next epic, inspiring work on the silver screen!

    Currently, Rapke is serving as Executive Producer on the upcoming “Untitled Steven Knight WW2 Project” starring Brad Pitt, to be directed by Zemeckis for Paramount Pictures.


    December 24, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 6575

  • Screenwriting Instructor Dan Kay Discusses ‘Pay the Ghost’ and Writing in Hollywood


    New York Film Academy screenwriting instructor Dan Kay is making quite an impression in Hollywood right now with the latest Nicholas Cage flick he penned entitled Pay the Ghost. The taut thriller follows a man (Nicolas Cage) who—haunted by eerie images and unexplainable messages—tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of his son. The film hit theaters, Blu-ray and digital download just in time for this past Halloween. Kay has also written the horror film Timber Falls (2007), comedy Way Off Broadway (2001), which he also directed, and the revenge thriller I.T. in post production now and set to release soon. I.T. stars Pierce Brosnan as a successful book publisher who is pitted against a young disgruntled I.T. consultant using his tech skills to threaten the author’s family and livelihood. Los Angeles campus’s Dean of Students Eric Conner moderated the discussion. Dan Kay recounted for students the path that got him to where he is today and gave invaluable advice.

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    Consistent with the NYFA philosophy of learning by doing, right out of college Dan moved to New York and began working on every film set he could find. This helped him to learn the nuts and bolts of film production. Meanwhile, he wrote what was to become his screenwriting and directorial debut Way Off Broadway. It took him two years to find money for the film, however Dan considers this time he spent pitching and rewriting the script to be crucial to the story’s success. Had he gotten money right after finishing the first draft of the script the film would not have been any good. The film is based off of his friends and experiences in college theater. Dan stressed the importance of “writing what you know,” which is exactly what he did in order to break into the biz.

    After coming out to Los Angeles Dan was hired to write the sequel and story arch for subsequent sequels to Disney’s Tinkerbell animated movie. The producing team working on the series loved Dan’s work and he was feeling confident navigating the very new-to-him world of children’s movies. However, out of nowhere there was a corporate takeover and everyone who had hired Dan was suddenly replaced and the new producers replaced Dan as well. This had nothing to do with the quality of his work but rather the new producers wanted to bring in their own writers. The entertainment industry is unpredictable and unstable, Dan explained, and you have to be resilient. This is exactly what Dan did in deciding to venture into a whole new genre for him—horror. It wasn’t long until his first horror script Timber Falls was being produced.

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    NYFA Dean of Students Eric Conner with Dan Kay

    Dan described how the making of his movie Pay the Ghost came about which was particularly interesting to producers. A producer Dan collaborated with had been hitting up small literary management agencies looking for good, unpublished stories. Agencies are often more than happy to option these stories for free and forgo payment until and if the story is developed into some medium. This is exactly how Pay the Ghost came about, as it was originally a short story—albeit a very short story. Dan’s producer gave him the optioned short story and he elaborated on it extensively to develop a feature length script. His work impressed production companies and the script was soon bought. Once Nicholas Cage decided to attach himself to the script it wasn’t long before financing came through and the film was made.

    The New York Film Academy is privileged to have Dan Kay, such a wonderful real world entertainment professional, teaching our students and we look forward to watching his career soar!


    December 22, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 6103