Sonny Calderon
Author archives

  • Q&A with NYFA Filmmaking Alum Filipe Coutinho on Script ‘Whittier’ and the 2021 Black List

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Filipe Coutinho is a Portuguese-born filmmaker with both short film and television experience. His credits include work as a producer, director, and writer for TV shows and short films such as Women on Top, The J&T Sketch Show, A Walk with James, and Time Asks Time.

    Coutinho recently made the 2021 Black List for his screenplay Whittier. Originated in 2005, the 2021 Black List features a year’s list of the most liked, but not-yet-produced screenplays. Many of the screenplays featured on the Black List have gone on to production and earned Oscars, including Slumdog Millionaire, Argo, The King’s Speech, and Spotlight.

    The alum spoke with us about his latest work, his selection for the 2021 Black List, and his learnings from NYFA. 

    Filipe Coutinho NYFA Alum

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Filipe Coutinho

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Filipe Coutinho (FC): Well, I was born in Portugal, where I spent the first 20 years of my life. My passion for film deepened after I watched a couple of films that completely transformed my perspective of what life is and what could be. 

    At the time, the only way for me to incorporate film into my life was to create a blog (very mid-2000s, I know!) and write about the films I watched. Turns out I was quite good at it, and shortly thereafter, I was invited to write for a few Portuguese publications. 

    When I finished college, I decided that it wasn’t enough for me to write about movies. I wanted to make them and I wanted to help other people in the same way movies helped me. With the full support of my family, I discovered New York Film Academy and made the transatlantic trip.

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating?

    FC: After graduation, my life took me in many unexpected directions. Being an immigrant in America while trying to find steady work in such a competitive industry was a daunting task. But eventually, I was able to find my footing. I worked as a researcher on a BET TV show called Being and developed three shows with FX. Afterward, I found a writing partner, Ben Mehlman, and we dedicated ourselves to the craft fully. 

    I made the quarter-finals of the Academy Nicholl’s Fellowship twice; hosted a table read of my script at the WGA with Reed Diamond, Merrin Dungey, and Hailey Erin; worked on a book adaptation; and then was selected to be a part of the Black List Fellowship Lab, during which I was mentored by Beau Willimon (creator of House of Cards) and Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, Enola Holmes), and took masterclass sessions with Rachel Rovner, Lindsay Doran, and Liz Hannah.

    NYFA: What is your screenplay about?

    FC: Whittier is about a Los Angeles social worker who stumbles upon a political conspiracy while looking into a client’s murder in the wake of the 1987 Whittier earthquake. The film is a reflection on what it takes to keep fighting the good fight despite external circumstances of escalating difficulty. 

    It’s a story meant to shed light on the greed, corruption, and self-serving attitudes that start locally, expand nationally, and ultimately, plague us globally. The intention is to offer a sobering look at the backdoor politics that impact social issues like homelessness and gentrification. I want audiences to take home the idea that just because endings are not always ‘happy’ in a more traditional sense, truth is a cause always worth pursuing. Even though this story is set in 1987, the parallels to today are inescapable. 

    Making this a period piece helped create a healthy distance from the issues of today, allowing the challenging aspects of the story to be easier to digest. We’re hoping to attach a director and/or actor soon.

    NYFA: What was your reaction when you found out you were selected for the 2021 Black List?

    FC: Elation, of course. It’s a huge honor and point of pride to have written the 12th most liked, unproduced screenplay of the year, especially when there are fifty-thousand new pieces of writing every year in the U.S. alone (a very conservative number). It’s also great to get external validation about your work, especially in a field that often requires creating your own momentum.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    FC: I didn’t know anything about filmmaking before I arrived at NYFA. The way the program is structured was perfect for someone like me. Each week I wrote, shot, directed, and edited a new project. That allowed me to understand exactly what my strengths were and lean into them. 

    My technical film education happened at NYFA, for which I’ll always be grateful. Furthermore, I need to shout out one of my screenwriting teachers, Jack Paglan, who was a huge influence in the way I approach writing.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filipe Coutinho for his well-deserved recognition and placement on the 2021 Black List for his script, Whittier

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 11, 2022 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 454

  • Q&A with NYFA MFA Screenwriting Alum Cesia Cano

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    NYFA MFA Screenwriting alum Cesia Cano (above)

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting alum Cesia Cano is a writer and producer with film credits for her work on the television series Robot Trains and Exorcism 101, as well as the short film High Score. The children’s show Robot Trains is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

    Cano spoke with NYFA about her latest projects for film and television and her work that’s appeared on the film festival circuit. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What brought you to the New York Film Academy to pursue your interest in writing?

    Cesia Cano (CC): I’m from Dallas, Texas originally, but after reading all the positive online reviews about NYFA, I decided to attend to pursue my passion for writing and storytelling.  

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating from NYFA? Have any projects won awards or have been showcased in festivals or competitions?

    CC: Since graduating from NYFA, I’ve been one of the writers for The Flamenco Killer pilot, a six-season series being pitched to Sony. I was also the co-writer and interview assistant for Taboo, a documentary by Angela Koh. The film won at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2020.

    I’ve also produced three short films and written over forty short scripts for the Neon Children’s Art Theater. I work as a volunteer to help alleviate the struggle theaters, and students face as a result of the global pandemic. These short scripts are read by students over zoom workshops to continue their practice and improve their acting skills. 

    I’m also the founder subscription business Story Layers, a biography service that helps people share and create tangible life stories with their loved ones. I was also the script supervisor for the multiple award-nominated short film High Score by Ethan Itzkow and Serena Ryen. The short film was the winner at the Chelsea Film Festival in 2020 for ‘Best Short Film.’ 

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved? 

    CC: One of my most recent jobs was writer for Robot Trains (Season 3), an animated television show streaming currently streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. 

    As a result of my involvement with the series, I’m also working on my first children’s book set to be published in the Spring of 2022. I got involved in these projects by staying connected with other artists, reaching out to new people in the industry, and sharing my scripts with the right people.

    Robot Trains poster image

    NYFA alum Cesia Cano is a writer for several episodes of season 3 of the children’s show Robot Trains

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    CC: One of the most essential things that I learned from NYFA was to have my sample scripts polished and ready because you never know when a potential employer might ask to see your work and you don’t want to keep them waiting.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Cesia Cano for her work, success on the festival circuit, and her upcoming book publication.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 11, 2022 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 295

  • NYFA Alum Pens First Tanzanian Film to Stream on Netflix, “Binti”

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting Alum Angela Ruhinda is a writer and producer from Tanzania. In 2018, Ruhinda started a production company, Black Unicorn Studios, with her sister Alinda. After holding a screenwriting competition for writers in Tanzania, they found the story that would be the studio’s first feature film, Binti.

    Binti, which centers on the lives of four women as they navigate entrepreneurship, motherhood, infertility and love in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, will premiere on Netflix on January 7th. It is the first Tanzanian film to be acquired by Netflix for global distribution!

    Angela spoke with NYFA about Binti, the start of Black Unicorn Studios and the challenges of doing post-production during a global pandemic.

    How did you come across the project or idea for Binti?  

    In 2018, I started a production company with my sister, Alinda. We named it Black Unicorn Studios. Our first project was a stage play that I wrote. After we wrapped our theatre run, we decided we wanted to venture into film. We had a screenwriting competition only open to Tanzanian writers. We asked for original stories that spoke to the theme of female empowerment. In early 2019, we picked our winning story – Her Life by Maria Shoo. We acquired the script and re-wrote it. We loved that it told the story of four contemporary Tanzanian women and thought it would be the perfect first project for our company. The name ‘Binti’ didn’t occur to us until we finished post production. ‘Binti’ is Swahili for ‘young woman’ and no other name is more fitting for this story.

    What was your process for writing and producing the film? 

    After acquiring the original screenplay, we approached a dear friend of mine named Seko Shamte to join our team as a director and producer. She ended up co-writing the shooting draft of Binti with me. We spent many Saturday afternoons writing powerful scenes together and the whole process took us about a month or so. And then the pre-production process began. The three of us assembled a dream team for the crew. Everyone in the crew was Tanzanian with only three exceptions. Our talented cinematographer, Justin Aguirre, flew in from L.A. I worked with him previously on a pilot called Occupied and really enjoyed working with him. Our sound guy was from Kenya and our assistant director flew in from Zimbabwe. Our director had a lot of experience with these two men and insisted they were the best of the best. We had open casting calls for the actors and saw a lot of great raw talent. There were chemistry tests to make sure we got the right leads in our four women. While we prepped the crew for the three-week shoot in July, we held rehearsals for our actors so that no steps were missed. The shoot was exactly 21 days in July 2019.

    Producers Angela and Alinda Ruhinda on the set of “Binti.”

    What was your biggest challenge while producing Binti?

    The greatest challenge I had while producing Binti happened during post-production. The pandemic completely disrespected our deadline. The film was initially edited in Tanzania but it also travelled to LA for more editing, Egypt for sound and to India for VFX effects. As you can imagine, each location had its own lockdowns and restrictions so we were constantly on standby and it delayed our deadlines. We ended up completing everything in early 2021 after we secured a distributor.

    Do you have a filmmaker statement you’d like to share about Binti?

    Binti is a love letter to African women. I also want everyone who watches Binti to see our strength, our beauty, our resilience and our ability to choose our own destiny.

    Has Binti been picked up for any festivals or competitions?

    Binti has already screened at several international festivals. It premiered at the Pan African Film Festival earlier this year. Binti has

    “Binti” movie poster

    also screened at Nollywood Film Week (Paris), Durban International Film Festival (SA), Jozi Film Festival (SA), Zanzibar International Film Festival and AFRIFF (Nigeria). In Zanzibar, Binti was awarded Best Feature Film which is something that we are really proud of. It’s a very prestigious film festival. Now we’re really looking forward to sharing it with the world via Netflix! January 7, 2022. Save the date!

    What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    During my time at NYFA, I studied screenwriting. Thus, NYFA taught me a lot about the art of storytelling. I learned how to carefully weave a story, how to create compelling characters and how to move an audience. I always thought my first feature would be a comedy because it is a genre I’ve always been more comfortable writing. However, when I was given the opportunity to show contemporary Tanzanian women enduring specific hardships, I tapped in to all that I learned in school. Drama and comedy are often seen as polar opposites but I’ve found that sometimes one genre can inform the other. In terms of producing a feature film, I literally learned everything on the job. And boy did I learn a lot!

    Are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

    I’m currently developing a TV series that I’m super excited about but can’t give any details on just yet. I would also like to write and produce one or two romantic comedies for 2022 and 2023. There are a lot of opportunities for African creators on the continent right now and it’s all very exciting!

    Do you have any advice for incoming NYFA students? 

    Soak in every single thing you learn at NYFA. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Start watching at least one film a day (something I was told during my first week). And if you can, start building your tribe by meeting creatives from other departments. If you’re a writer, collaborate with some of the producers, editors and actors. Make a few short films. Those relationships might become very valuable after you graduate and the practice will prepare you for the future.

    Be sure to catch Binti, today, on Netflix!

     

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 6, 2022 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 698

  • Q&A with NYFA MFA Filmmaking Alum & Cinematographer Shivashish Ahuja

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Shivashish Ahuja is a Los-Angeles based Cinematographer with industry experience shooting and directing short films and music videos. Ahuja has worked with several well-known artists since graduating from NYFA, including Billie Eilish, Alessia Cara, Naomi Osaka, Tate McRae, and more. 

    Ahuja spoke with NYFA about his latest videos, career challenges, and experience traveling from a small town in India to the city of Los Angeles.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us what originally brought you to the New York Film Academy and what prompted your interest in cinematography?

    Shivashish Ahuja (SA): I come from a small town called Kota, India, which is known for “manufacturing” engineers and doctors. With the strong support from my family, especially my brother, I took the step to move to the United States to pursue my dream of becoming a professional cinematographer. 

    I had an early interest in still photography but decided to pursue moving images after I covered Vin Diesel’s visit to India in a Behind the Scenes video. They were in town to film their movie xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

    For me, film is an engaging medium and forces you to not only think but to take a step toward change. My journey at the New York Film Academy was beautiful. The school not only gave me a platform but also made me aware of the culture and people in the United States. Without NYFA, I wouldn’t have been a member of the Academy Gold Rising Cinematography program in 2021

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating from NYFA?

    SA: Ever since I graduated from NYFA, I’ve managed to grow within the industry, including work as a cinematographer for the reality show Staycation and work with Grammy award-winning artists like Billie Eilish, Alessia Cara, and Carlitos Del Puerto. 

    I’ve also worked with Mena Suvari, Naomi Osaka, Tate McRae, and Diljit Dosanjh to name a few. Short films I’ve worked on for Dhar Mann Studios on YouTube have performed well and made it to the IndieFEST Film Awards, and the film Big Rant screened at the Fimucite Festival Internacional de Musica de Cine de Tenerife and made it to the Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA). The movie Paper Boats was screened at the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and my film FaceOff made it as a finalist in the Rethink Dance Film Festival. 

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest work & how it felt to work with well-known artists? 

    Shooting the live performance with Billie Eilish was both challenging and fun. I got the chance to work with fellow NYFA MFA Cinematography alum, Mayur Patankar who was the gaffer, and I served as the rigging gaffer. 

    Billie Eilish was soft-spoken and very respectful to everyone on the set. Plus, to listen to her live was an incentive. I was given the opportunity to work with both Alessia Cara and Carlitos Del Puerto as the cinematographer through Richy Films LLC. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    SA: NYFA taught me the importance of pre-production, especially on bigger sets where celebrities are involved. They have extremely tight schedules and so it’s best to be prepared with everything so when they walk in, you’re ready to roll. Another crucial learning from NYFA was understanding the director’s language. Some shoots demand you work fast, which means maintaining good quality with as few setups as possible in a limited amount of time. By understanding the directors’ and producers’ goals and deliverables, it becomes easier to perform your best. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Shivashish Ahuja for his success in Hollywood and we encourage you to check out the show Staycation and watch the music videos included here. 

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    January 3, 2022 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 308

  • NYFA Acting Alum Cleavandor Wright in ‘Meeting Juan Jones’ and ‘Diablo’

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film alum Cleavandor Vandorn Wright is a retired Military Army veteran turned actor now working in the film industry. The Florida-based actor spoke with NYFA about his latest work, life after graduation, and advice for NYFA students. 

    Wright first started acting in 2016, at PlayBuilders of Hawai’i Theater Company in a production called ‘Dragonfly.’ The play tells the story about a girl’s journey through foster care and was directed by Terri Madden. The actor performed eleven times, playing six characters, each with dialogue, and toured with the troupe as performances were carried out throughout the island of Hawai’i. Wright was awarded the Ensemble Award at the theater company’s banquet, PO’ OKELA AWARD Ensembles Performance: Non-Traditional. 

    In 2017 Wright was also featured in the television series revamp of Hawaii Five-O in episode five of season eight alongside Chi-McBride. The NYFA alum played the role of a Security Guard. 

    Wright starred in the 2019 film Diablo directed by Cedric Livingston, a suspense thriller following protagonist Reggie who lurks from town to town, picking victims for murder. The film is available for streaming in certain locations on Amazon Prime Video

    NYFA Acting alum Cleavandor Wright plays Edgar in the film Meeting Juan Jones (2021) 

    NYFA Acting alum Cleavandor Wright plays Edgar in the film Meeting Juan Jones (2021)

    The alum also plays Edgar in the 2021 feature film Meeting Juan Jones, in which cryptocurrency trader Tim loses his life’s savings after an insider tip goes wrong. Tim meets Juan Jones, a local Miami shylock who takes Tim for a ride through the streets of Miami for a night of corruption and self-discovery. The film was both directed and written by Larry Camacho and Alejo Vega. The film was produced by Mcpree Production Films based in Miami, Florida. 

    A behind-the-scenes photos of the short film From Miami with love with NYFA alum Cleavandor Wright

    A behind-the-scenes photos of the short film From Miami with love with NYFA alum Cleavandor Wright (left)

    Wright teamed up a second time with Cedric Livingston (Diablo) to be featured in the short film From Miami with love, which was directed, written, and produced by Cedric Livingston. 

    In support of the NYFA community, the actor appeared in two NYFA student films which were directed, written, and produced by a NYFA student and alum from the South Beach (Miami) campus. The two short films Silver Mettel directed by 1-Year Filmmaking student Clay Ransom Greenwald, and 222 directed by NYFA BFA Filmmaking alum Zoe Bell, were also thesis films for the two filmmakers. 

    NYFA acting alum Cleavandor Wright on the set of the student short film Silver Mettel 

    NYFA acting alum Cleavandor Wright on the set of the student short film Silver Mettel

    When asked what he learned from NYFA that he applied to his work as an actor, Wright replied, “Everything, everything, and everything. I learned consistency, focus, a work ethic, discipline, and resiliency. How to dissect a script and get a visual understanding of what the character’s psychological mentality is so that you exact out the script what the director or writer wrote is what I took away from New York Film Academy.” 

    The actor has advice for incoming NYFA students, which is to “be on time to class and turn in your assignments before the deadline because this all ties into being on time to auditions and film sets. There’s a motto the Army lives by, which is also my motto since I’m a retired Military Army veteran, ‘If you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late.’ Early arrival is always authorized.” Wright goes on to remind students to “ask questions, actively listen, be actively engaged during the exercises to construct techniques for your craft. And don’t forget to have fun!” 

    New York Film Academy congratulates alum Cleavandor Wright for his work in the acting profession, thank him for his service in the United States Army, and wishes him the best of success in his upcoming feature films. You can stay updated on Wright’s latest work by following him on Instagram (@mr_cleavandor).

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 23, 2021 • Acting, Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 474

  • Happy Holidays from NYFA’s Division of Veterans Services

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    NYFA Happy Holidays Veterans

    Dear NYFA Veteran Community,

    During this special time of the year, NYFA’s Division of Veterans Services (DVS) wants to make sure you know how much we appreciate you. As we wrap up 2021 and embark upon 2022, we hope that your holiday season is full of health, happiness and creativity.

    There is always so much interesting output from the talented NYFA veteran-students and veteran-alumni that DVS’s Director, Command Sergeant Major (ret.) Christopher Moore, has planned for a quarterly DVS newsletter in 2022. However, for now, please check out the provided links to see just a few examples of news from our community. Col Jack Jacobs produced a docu-series Ten Weeks on Roku, Director of DVS Chris Moore attending the Veterans Day Reception in NYC, and NYFA Alum, Zane Jones, received a 2021 Daytime Emmy for The Girl in Apartment 15.

    Best wishes for a safe and Happy Holidays and New Years from the Division of Veterans Services. We look forward to you all returning safely in 2022.

    ~ Christopher Moore, Mike Kunselman, Jonathan Cortez & Creshaun Sanders

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 23, 2021 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Veterans • Views: 322

  • NYFA MFA Filmmaking Alum Hongyu “Neo” Li on Life After Graduation as a Development Executive

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Hongyu “Neo” Li has been hired as the Development Executive and In-House Writer for Starlight Media. The production and finance company has produced several popular films including Crazy Rich Asians, Malignant, and Wuhan Wuhan. Li’s creative role includes overseeing treatments, ideas, pitches, and more. He reports directly to Starlight Media’s CEO, Peter Luo. 

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking Alum, Neo Li

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking Alum, Neo Li (above)

    The China-born writer and filmmaker began his career with short films, including Hank and Waiting For Frank, both of which received international recognition. Li screened his short films at over 30 film festivals, including the Palm Springs International ShortFest, Cleveland International Film Festival, and Chicago International LGBTQ+ Film Festival. His most recent screenplay My Chinese Neighbor was semi-finalist at the Austin Film Festival Script Competition, selected as a 2020 New Reality Screenwriting Program finalist, and named a semi-finalist at the 2021 Nashville Film Festival. 

    Li spoke with NYFA about his latest role and life after graduating in 2018. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What can you tell us about what you do as a Development Executive for Starlight Media? 

    Neo Li (NL): As a development executive, I am responsible for generating ideas, treatments, pitches, and scripts, and guiding producers and writers in the development of content, curating a growing slate of film and TV projects. 

    NYFA: What type of projects do you oversee as a Development Executive?

    NL: I have been overseeing a couple of crime thriller projects, one with an Oscar-winning producer attached. 

    NYFA: What is the biggest challenge you’ve experienced in your work in the industry?

    NL: There have been some challenges along the way. The biggest one was shifting my mindset from writing/directing to the perspective of an executive. As a writer/director, I mostly ask myself if the story is appealing to me or not, but as an executive, I have to consider more elements, such as talent, budget, IP, merchandising, distribution—it’s a package of deals. Of course, the story is essential, but it’s not the only factor that needs to be considered.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied to your work and experience since graduating? 

    NL: Directing, writing, and producing my year one film and thesis film at NYFA helped me understand how to complete a film from the logline stage all the way to distribution. The difference is, budgets in the industry are higher, and filmmakers need their work to appeal to a wider audience and are also responsible to their investors and backers. 

    As a film student, I was only commercially responsible to my selfless parents! But I do think that your short films from your degree will be your calling cards as you set out on a film career – so it’s important to think about what your films say about what strengths you can bring to a project.

    In terms of specific classes, I think James Rowe’s directing class deeply enriched my knowledge in directing and story development. While developing my thesis film Hank, I wasn’t really confident about directing it myself, and my instructor David Newman strengthened my faith and confidence. 

    Mark Horowitz’s class in feature film sales, marketing, and distribution gave me a general idea of an executive’s world, which helped me stand out in my three-month internship. And I want to give a big shout-out to Crickett Rumley, who has been a steadfast supporter since I graduated and who has been a great resource for connecting alumni together. 

    NYFA: Are there any other upcoming projects or trends we should know about?

    NL: The biggest trend that I have been paying attention to is that of crime thrillers combined with high concepts. As evidenced by Squid Game, foreign language is not a barrier anymore. The determining element is the core and the theme – is it universal? People living in Seoul struggle with the issue of class, but so do the people in San Francisco.  

    NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming NYFA students? Especially those seeking an MFA? 

    NL: Never underestimate the importance of your year one film, which is a great opportunity to make mistakes and conquer your fears. Stop submitting your films to those film festivals that will hand you 10 awards. Go to the real ones. Go to their screenings and panels and connect with people. You will get inspired, make friends and probably find your next director of photography, producer, or lead actor. When you have ten film ideas, choose the one that you personally respond to at an emotional level. For your thesis film, tell your OWN story and be sincere. 

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Li on his role at Starlight Media and his pipeline of projects. If you’d like to learn more about Neo Li’s work, you can visit his LinkedIn profile or read about him on his professional website.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 21, 2021 • Alumni Events, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 311

  • New York Film Academy & Sichuan University of Media and Communications Launch New Degree in Filmmaking

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    In a virtual ceremony on December 14th, 2021, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) and the Sichuan University of Media and Communications (SUMC) celebrated the launch of a collaborative bachelor’s degree in filmmaking.

    New York Film Academy & Sichuan University of Media and Communications Launch New Degree in Filmmaking

    New York Film Academy and the Sichuan University of Media and Communications (SUMC) celebrated the launch of a collaborative filmmaking degree

    Jean Sherlock (NYFA’s Principal), Michael Young (NYFA’s President), Dan Mackler (Dean of NYFA’s Los Angeles campus), Joy Zhu (NYFA Executive Vice President of the China Region), and other NYFA faculty and staff attended the ceremony.

    Zhang Shuyu (SUMC’s Chairwoman), Zhang Yingjiang (SUMC’s President), Zuo Xuzhou (SUMC’s Vice President), and other SUMC professors also attended the event, as well as an outstanding alum from both institutions.

    Zhang Yingjiang opened the event crediting the success of the program launch to the hard work and long-term partnership between NYFA and SUMC. “This collaborative program is a milestone, marking a new period of collaboration between the two institutions,” said Zhang Yingjiang, SUMC’s President.

    New York Film Academy & Sichuan University of Media and Communications Launch New Degree in Filmmaking

    Zhang Yingjiang, SUMC’s President (above)

    “Sichuan University of Media and Communications is one of our most trusted partners. Over the years, we have successfully developed collaborative projects and enhanced our relationship,” said Michael Young, NYFA’s President.

    New York Film Academy & Sichuan University of Media and Communications Launch New Degree in Filmmaking

    Michael Young, NYFA’s President (above)

    Zhang Shuyu (SUMC’s Chairwoman) said in her speech that the New York Film Academy is an old friend of SUMC and as the collaboration grows, there will be more and more outstanding students, rising into the forefront of the international film industry.

    Zhang Shuyu, SUMC’s Chairwoman (above)

    Jean Sherlock (NYFA’s Principal) congratulated the official launch of the program. He appreciated the high quality of students from SUMC and hoped that the program would bring the partnership between the two institutions to the next level.

    New York Film Academy & Sichuan University of Media and Communications Launch New Degree in Filmmaking

    Jean Sherlock, NYFA’s Principal (above)

    NYFA and SUMC believe that the new collaborative bachelor’s degree in filmmaking will further enrich academic and educational exchanges between the United States and China, and cultivate more young storytellers with a global vision.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 20, 2021 • China, Filmmaking • Views: 313

  • NYFA Faculty Justin LaReau & Lydia Cedrone Release ‘Lantern’s Lane’ in Select Theaters and Amazon Prime

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA)’s Justin LaReau & Lydia Cedrone released a new feature film, Lantern’s Lane (2021), to select theaters in November 2021. The film is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime and Apple TV

    The film follows a recent college graduate and her estranged high school friends as they return to Lantern’s Lane, the location of an evil urban legend, and must fight to survive the night. Directed by NYFA Film Festival Coordinator Justin LaReau and co-produced by NYFA staff member Lydia Cedrone, the film stars Brooke Butler, Andy Cohen, and Ashley Doris. 

    The horror-thriller comedy Lantern’s Lane was filmed during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The distributing company, Vertical Entertainment, released the film in the United States to select cities on November 5th, 2021. 

    Director Justin LaReau is a NYFA alum as well, having earned his MFA in Producing back in 2014. LaReau founded Zoe and Pebbles Productions, which produced the feature film A Demon Within (2017) and has several projects currently in production. LaReau was a producer for No Alternative (2018) and worked on the crew for We Are Your Friends (2015). His film No Alternative opened the Dances with Films Festival in 2018. 

    NYFA’s Justin LaReau

    NYFA’s Justin LaReau

    Lydia Cedrone, co-producer of Lantern’s Lane, previously worked for Disney and Forward Pass. In partnership with LaReau, the two professionals launched Tidal Wave Entertainment in 2017. Having expansive professional experience across production and costume and/or wardrobe work, Cedrone worked on costume and wardrobe for the film Pearl Harbor (2001), starring Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale. Cedrone has credits for her production assistant work as a crew member for films like Ali (2001) and A Bronx Tale (1993). 

    NYFA’s Lydia Cedrone (left)

    NYFA’s Lydia Cedrone (left)

    New York Film Academy congratulates both Justin LaReau & Lydia for the release of Lantern’s Lane and its continued success across streamlining platforms. 

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 20, 2021 • Acting • Views: 414

  • NYFA MFA Screenwriting Alum Bruce Purnell’s New Feature ‘Boxing Day’ Unwrapped for the Holidays

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Bruce Purnell, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting alum, director and producer, has a new feature film coming this holiday season. Boxing Day, the story about a British author living in the United States who returns home to London for Christmas to introduce his American fiancée to his eccentric British-Caribbean family, is a romantic comedy co-written by Purnell. The main character’s relationship is put to the test, as his fiancée soon discovers the world her partner left behind. 

    The new romantic comedy was co-written with director Aml Ameen in his directorial debut. The plot of the film was inspired by director Ameen’s own life and will star Ameen himself. Boxing Day will also star Aja Naomi King, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. The film will be the first UK holiday film to feature an all-black cast. 

    Promotional poster for Boxing Day (2021)

    Promotional poster for Boxing Day (2021)

    Financed by BFI and Film4 with Warner Bros. Pictures as a distributor for the film’s release in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Boxing Day is produced by Ameen and Purnell’s new label Studio113. 

    In a statement featured in a Deadline article, director Ameen quotes, “It is such an honor to be teaming up with Warner Bros. Pictures, Film4, and BFI to bring Black British Culture to the world in this universal holiday rom-com. It’s long been a dream of mine to capture films that reflect the wonderfully multi-cultural city that raised me while sharing stories from the diary of my life.”

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum and writer Bruce Purnell (left)

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum and writer Bruce Purnell (left)

    Screenwriter Bruce Purnell has also worked as a director and producer, having developed and filmed several short films, including One Heart, Moments in the Grey, and Learning to Share. New York Film Academy congratulates Bruce Purnell for his success with his newest feature Boxing Day, coming to theaters this holiday season.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 16, 2021 • Alumni Events • Views: 558