In a February profile piece, The New York Times (NYT) penned a profile citing a boom in comic books and graphic novels that focus on Afrofuturism, a cultural aesthetic that describes the intersection of African diaspora culture with technology. The term was originally coined in the 1990s and for decades has been used by Black creators to envision an alternative present and future that celebrates the African diaspora.
Among those creators is NYFA 3D Animation & VFX instructor Tim Fielder, who the NYT included in its latest article about the boom of Afrofuturism that goes beyond the popular Marvel comic Black Panther.
Illustration by Tim Fielder for Aja Oba, an African king cursed with eternal life (Harper Collins)
Fielder is an illustrator, concept designer, cartoonist, animator, and creator of the graphic novel series Matty’s Rocket and the critically acclaimed INFINITUM: An Afrofuturist Tale. He has worked over the years in the storyboarding, film visual development, gaming, comics, education, and animation industries. Fielder has served clients such as Marvel Comics, The Village Voice, Tri-Star Pictures, Ubisoft Entertainment, and New York University. He is an active contributor to the body of work surrounding Afrofuturism, citing Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, Pedro Bell, and Overton Lloyd as his major influences.
Fielder recently released his latest book INFINITUM in January, which melds a tale of African kings and space battles and journeys from the creation of the universe and the dawn of mankind to the rise and fall of great African kingdoms. Fielder’s new release was mentioned by The Times as a body of work that contributes to the boom of Afrofuturist titles being released this year.
Fielder, who illustrates his work on his computer, is also the creator of Matty’s Rocket, a graphic novel series following space pilot Matty Watty. The story was inspired by Fielder’s parents and grandparents who never saw themselves represented in films or books in fantasy or sci-fi situations. “I wanted to restore parity in that area while I am blessed to still have my parents, both born in the 1930s Mississippi,” he shares on his website. “My art gives me the power to fill that void with an adventurous narrative.”
New York Film Academy is proud of the well-deserved recognition of instructor Tim Fielder and looks forward to seeing the reception of Fielder’s latest book INFINITUM and for what’s to come from the talented author and illustrator.
Chair of the Broadcast Journalism department at New York Film Academy, Bill Einreinhofer has a lot to celebrate after his film Invisible Love won three major awards at the Paris International Film Festival in February.
Bill Einreinhofer on set of “Invisible Love”
Coming off on its premiere at the Marche du Film, associated with the Cannes International Film Festival, in 2020, Invisible Love has racked up three awards including Best Narrative Feature Film, Best International Actor (Hoang Phuong), and Best International Collaboration.
In addition to Einreinhofer executive producing Invisible Love, NYFA’s roots run deep in the film, with Acting for Film alum Kazy Tauginas playing one of the male leads and former NYFA staffer Nancy Hanzhang Shen serving as both a Producer and the 1st AD on a set working in three languages (Vietnamese, Mandarin, and English).
Hoang Phuong in “Invisible Love”
Invisible Love takes place during the 1930s during the era of French Indochina and follows the story of one woman’s search for love, and how time and again her dreams are betrayed. “The subtext of the film is the nature of colonialism, and the corrosive effect it has on both the colonizers as well as those colonized,” explained Einreinhofer. “There is plenty of melodrama in this film and enough plot for perhaps three movies. While in North America and Europe Invisible Love is considered an ‘art house’ film, in Vietnam and China it is popular entertainment.”
Einreinhofer is no stranger to working heavily with international markets and met the film’s director, Guo Xiang, while working on Einreinhofer’s documentary Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began. “We found we had a lot in common, even though we are totally different and each doesn’t speak the other’s language,” recalled Einreinhofer. “Director Guo valued my experience in international co-production and distribution while I admired his cinematic vision and resourcefulness. He wanted to bring authenticity to this period film [Invisible Love], and my background in non-fiction video and familiarity with Asian cultures helped to ensure historic elements of the film rang true.”
Nancy Hanzhang Shen (Left) and Bill Einreinhofer (Right)
The Broadcast Journalism Chair even makes a cameo appearance in the film as Dr. Sawyer, the director of a Western-run hospital in DaNang, where two of the key characters work. “It [acting] helped me better appreciate the ability of the actors to do the same scene time after time, with no slip-ups in dialogue and always hitting their marks, which I find challenging,” he shared.
Einreinhofer also explained that he was able to rely on Tauginas while on set to give him a quick tutorial on the do’s and don’ts of film performance as well as Shen, who served as a producer and 1st AD on the film. “I was also much taken by the sheer beauty of Vietnam, and how welcoming the people there are to Americans. For my generation, Vietnam was a war, not a place.”
For those who see the film, Einreinhofer hopes that Invisible Love will speak to the notion that, regardless of culture or societal norms, love knows no barriers and surpasses all universal emotions.
The film now continues on the festival circuit for the next six months, after which Einreinhofer and the crew hope to sign agreements with distributors to get into the prime markets and platforms for a larger audience to view the film.
New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Broadcast Journalism Chair Bill Einreinhofer on his continued success with Invisible Love and looks forward to announcing when the film is available to view for the public.
NYFA Documentary instructor Lizzie Gottlieb has been directing film and theater in New York for the past couple of decades. As a director, Gottlieb has worked with Peter Dinklage, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Amy Ryan, Michael Ian Black, Justin Kirk, Francie Swift, Josh Hamilton, Sara Ramirez, and more. Recently, Gottlieb got to work with another talent, notable editor, writer, and father to Gottlieb, Robert Gottlieb.
(L-R) Robert Gottlieb and Robert Caro (Photo courtesy of Lizzie Gottlieb)
The documentary, Turn Every Page, follows Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro and his 50-year argument and relationship with his editor, Robert Gottlieb (Robert), as they work towards completing a final book. The documentary from Gottlieb is an ode to the work of Caro and Robert over the last 50 years as Robert (89) awaits Caro (85) to complete his much-anticipated fifth volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson.
“They are not slowing down because of their age,” Gottlieb told Insiderin an interview about the project. “I think they both feel the enormous weight to finish [the final LBJ] book. I very much wanted this to be a story about them finishing their life’s work, not just a retrospective of their lives and how impressive they are.”
The documentary film will also feature interviews from Ethan Hawke, Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker editor David Remnick, and former president Bill Clinton, who will make remarks of the impact of Caro and Rober’s work over the past 50 years. Gottlieb shared that most of the filming of the documentary was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the interview featuring former president Clinton was done recently over Zoom.
NYFA instructor Lizzie Gottlieb
Gottlieb is also known for her documentary Today’s Man, which aired on PBS and screened at festivals and conferences all over the world. Her film Romeo, Romeo was honored with the prestigious Excellence in Documentary Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association (NLGJA).
New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking instructor Lizzie Gottlieb on her latest achievement, Turn Every Page, and encourages everyone to check out her latest documentary when it becomes available later this year.
New York Film Academy is excited to share that Filmmaking instructor Daniel Abrusci has won a Gold Promax Award for outstanding achievement in sound design and mixing on the Cbeebies segment Christmas Lights for BBC Latin America.
The Promax Awards are the world’s premier celebration of outstanding achievement in entertainment marketing and design, honoring teams of creatives harnessing passionate fandom to drive audiences, create value, and build the biggest brands in entertainment.
The one-minute animation Abrusci worked on in his home studio was extremely heavy in sound design. “When working with animation, sound design plays a huge role because there’s no audio to start with,” he explained. “I edited three different pieces of music into a one-minute spot in order for the music to be dynamic and help boost holiday emotions.”
The South Beach instructor had to recreate the ambiance needed for the TV spot to feel a bit more realistic, adding in stylistic sound elements to elevate the story visually. “There’s plenty of creativity involved due to the fact that a lot of these actions might sound different in real life,” shared Abrusci. “Once we have all the different sound design, voiceover, and music elements, mixing is all about making things stand out and giving everything character and space in the frequency spectrum.” Essentially, sound mixing in itself plays an important role in fully forming a character, space, or idea.
NYFA instructor Daniel Abrusci
Abrusci urges anyone who is looking to hone their craft to “keep practicing” as it’s practice, trial, and error that allow you to master your skills. “The more time you put into something, the better you’ll become at it. Stay passionate and make it happen!”
New York Film Academy congratulates Daniel Abrusci on his outstanding achievement and looks forward to what’s next from the talented South Beach faculty member.
To view the Christmas Lights spot, view the video below.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce that Photography alum Jon Henry has been featured in TIME Magazine’s TIME 100 Next list for 2021.
Last year, Henry won the prestigious Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture and the Kodak Film Photo Award—for his series “Stranger Fruit.” The alum also had his photographs from the series displayed on multiple pages in the October 2020 National Geographic issue.
Cover of the ‘TIME Magazine’ issue featuring the ‘Next 100’ (TIME Magazine)
TIME reporter Josiah Bates, who wrote the profile on Henry for the Time 100 Next issue shared that Henry’s prolific series “Stranger Fruit” is weighted with significance: “In visual artist Jon Henry’s series ‘Stranger Fruit,’ sons pose with their mothers as if they are lifeless, re-creating scenes of mourning. The mothers stare through the camera’s lens as if holding onlookers accountable for threats their sons could one day face. In 2020—after the killing of George Floyd by police—the series took on new poignancy.”
The alum was featured alongside other artists who made the list including director Boots Riley, Lakeith Stanfield, Florence Pugh, and more. Henry shared his gratitude for being included in the list on his Instagram account: “Honored beyond measure to be included in #time100next. The 2021 TIME100 Next list highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, health, science and activism, and more. Crazy.”
NYFA alum Jon Henry
Henry was also featured on the cover of JRNL 4 and was also profiled by Photograph Magazine. The NYFA alum and Photography instructor’s “Stranger Fruit” series is currently on display in Portland at BlueSky Gallery through March 27, 2021, and will also be featured in Miami from March 11 – May 21 at DotFiftyOne Gallery. The series has also gone international and is currently on view at the KP Gallery in South Korea, the first international solo exhibition for the project.
Untitled 60, St Charles, MO (2020) – Photo Credit: Jon Henry
New York Film Academy is thrilled to congratulate one of its own for being among those selected for TIME Magazine’s TIME 100 Next list for 2021 and is proud of the recognition that Jon Henry is receiving for his body of work and the “Stranger Fruit” series.
At New York Film Academy, the faculty is an incredibly talented group of artists that teach the next generation of filmmakers and creators all while being active members in their industry. For NYFA Cinematography instructor Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC, this is no exception.
Maddox-Upshaw has lensed fan-favorite shows like Empire,Snowfall, Tales, and On My Block, to name a few, and teaches 35MM, Advanced Lighting, and Stage to Screen for Actors in NYFA’s Cinematography department.
Maddox-Upshaw first got interested in the world of lensing and cinematography when his sister Kyla got him on set as a Production Assistant for a Hype Williams music video when he was 19 years old. “I saw how the Cinematographer worked with everyone and created such beautiful images and I already liked photography,” he shared. “I was like, ‘I want to do what he does’ and I set out to learn what I could even though my college didn’t have a film program and really no film studies.”
Photo courtesy of Tommy Maddox-Upshaw
From there, Maddox-Upshaw notes that the documentary film Visions of Light inspired him even further to pursue a career in cinematography, and the NYFA instructor began picking up work between his Boston hometown and New York City while continuing to further his education in cinematography. His work for commercial clients like Ford, Allstate, and HBO, to name a few, helped develop working relationships which led Maddox-Upshaw to eventually work alongside visionaries like Spike Lee and Matthew Libatique, ASC.
He provided VFX additional photography on A Star Is Born, and worked on the second unit for Straight Outta Compton, both shot by Libatique, and shot additional photography on feature films Grown Ups 2, Beyond the Lights, and The Circle. Maddox-Upshaw also served as the director of photography (DP) for Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, Hello Beautiful: Interludes with John Legend, Fixed, and more.
Photo courtesy of Tommy Maddox-Upshaw
Recently, Maddox-Upshaw was recognized by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and was welcomed as a member of the ASC. The distinguished honor is one that names Maddox-Upshaw among the legacy of celebrated directors of photography over the last 100 years.
“Becoming part of the ASC has been a goal of mine since the time I really started to study and read American Cinematographer Magazine and watch Visions of Light when I was about 20 years old,” revealed Maddox-Upshaw.
For his students and aspiring cinematographers, Maddox-Upshaw encourages them to study more than what’s on the other side of the lens to become a good DP.
“Study the art of understanding good screenplays. understand the Black and White of the page so then you can make the correct emotional decision from what is written. Try and watch a movie a day; it makes a difference after a couple of years of doing it. You can recall so much and understand why certain things in cinema work,” Maddox-Upshaw explained.
“No one can dream bigger for you. You have to enjoy the process of your own journey you should want to be on set and learn from other people. You can learn this on your own and don’t be afraid to make mistakes especially in a learning environment.”
In addition to teaching at NYFA, Maddox-Upshaw recently photographed Season 6 of the Fox drama Empire. Additional credits from Maddox-Upshaw include season three of the FX drama Snowfall, season two of Netflix’s On My Block, and season one of the Netflix comedy Huge in France.
New York Film Academy congratulates Maddox-Upshaw on his recent induction into the ASC and is excited to have the opportunity for Maddox-Upshaw to continue to teach NYFA students about what it means to be a director of photography.
To learn more about NYFA’s Cinematography programs, click here.
Spanish producer Irene Mendez has always been interested in visual storytelling. With her degree in communications coupled with her education from NYFA’s 1-Year Producing Conservatory, Mendez is seeking change in the production space, aiming to make all media projects more sustainable across the industry.
Coming to NYFA, Mendez knew it would give her a new perspective on film production. “I’ve always thought it is essential to know and understand how movies are made in different countries, and I saw in NYFA the opportunity to do so,” she shared. “NYFA has some of the best professionals teachers, including instructors who have won BAFTAs and have been in some of the most important film festivals.”
NYFA alum Irene Mendez
From her time at NYFA, Mendez has learned that preproduction is the most essential part of any project. “Work before you get to the set. Study every possibility that might happen once you are filming,” she emphasized. “Be ready for any inconvenience. It is so vital to plan what might happen and be prepared for any kind of problem. It is funny cause it’s actually the same advice I will give to anyone who wants to make a more sustainable film.”
Mendez first got involved in sustainability in filmmaking after attending Madrid’s Another Way Film Festival in Madrid, which focused on sustainable progress in filmmaking. “I realized that we can do much more. There are many things we can change to create the same entertainment content in a much better way,” urged Mendez. “We can tell the same great stories without hurting the planet and its future. Even more, we can help to be part of the change.”
Mendez is now involved with Fiction Changing the World, an organization that specializes in sustainable audiovisual productions, working both in reducing the negative impact of productions and creating fiction and entertainment formats that convey important info about sustainable development to the viewers. “There is a lot of things that we can do when we work on a project to reduce the negatives impacts and create good ones. Not only on how we do things but also in how we tell the stories and entertain.”
This past year, Mendez worked with Fiction Changing the World on a UN campaign to show the world that a new way to make content is possible. “Being part of the UN campaign and seeing Paloma Andres and Rhoda N. Wainwright (Founders of Fiction Changing the World) speak beside people with innovative ideas and famous names as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), makes you understand that we are not alone. There is a lot of people trying to be part of the change. Thousands of unique ideas can help us all to do our bit.”
Fiction Changing the World has also started their campaign The Dante Movement, which focuses on creating fictional media that will inspire sustainable action and change in the world among others to do their part. “Documentaries are a wonderful way to bring attention to different topics, but they have a couple of problems when it comes to reaching the general public,” shared Mendez when asked why the fictional format is a better medium for the campaign as opposed to documentary filmmaking.
Irene Mendez on set
“They [documentaries] often focus on particular topics, which is fine, but it is more difficult to get millions of people interested in very a specific issue. Also, documentaries are not always the first choice of entertainment for the general public. On the other hand, fiction is a format that is consumed by everyone on the planet; it leaves no one out. It is a more global and entertaining way to send a message and to educate and raise awareness.”
“For example, I would dare to say that the vast majority of Spaniards of my generation know that water rotates in a different direction in each hemisphere thanks to an episode of The Simpsons in which Bart travels to Australia,” Mendez said. “Fiction is a way to reach every home. We all get motivated watching the Avengers fighting together against Thanos. In our universe, we can all unite to fight our own common enemy.”
Though The Dante Movement is focused on fictional stories to get the message across to viewers, Fiction Changing the World still allows for other formats to be used to reach different people, like documentaries. In addition to working with the organization, Mendez has also been working on the TV series Foundation for Apple TV+ here in Spain, but what Mendez expressed she is most proud of is producing the first certified Positive Carbon Footprint spot for Greenpeace.
“This proves that it is possible to create sustainable content. We had to think from the script in how to make it more environmentally friendly way,” shared Mendez. “I had several meetings with the screenwriters and the production company to explain to them what are the points that make a film create more or fewer carbon emissions and what makes more negative impacts. They quickly understood what was needed and realized that thinking in a sustainable way doesn’t have to compromise the project’s creativity.”
As a lover of making films and the environment, Mendez is an advocate for change in the industry, working to make sets reduce their negative impact on the environment from issues like not recycling properly and consuming more on set than necessary. “The reality is that there are many more things we aren’t doing right. The material we use to build a set, the fabric to sew amazing costumes, and the places we choose to use as scenarios are decisions we can make to reduce the negative impact of production,” she explained. “Our responsibility as filmmakers is not solely to entertain, but also to inform and inspire our audiences. We have the power to reach every single soul, and we should use it.”
New York Film Academy would like to thank Irene Mendez for taking the time to share more about the sustainability movement that is taking place on sets all over the world. With the urgency to act, filmmakers like Irene can continue to make a difference and be agents for change across the industry. NYFA looks forward to seeing what’s next from the alum and to hear more updates on Mendez’s mission for film sustainability.
At New York Film Academy (NYFA), our instructors are not only teaching the next wave of filmmakers and creatives alike but are out focusing on their own work and setting up the shot for the next big film. In this case, veteran cinematographer Claudia Raschke is no different, having lensed yet another prominent documentary film, FAUCI from National Geographic Documentary Films.
The New York-based Documentary Filmmaking instructor is known for shooting the Oscar-nominated and Emmy award-winning documentary RBG, the Oscar-nominated film God is Bigger Than Elvis, the Peabody Award-winning film Black Magic, the Oscar short-listed Mad Hot Ballroom, The Freedom to Marry, and many more.
Behind the scenes of “FAUCI” (National Geographic Documentary Films)
Her latest project will see Raschke as the DP on the highly anticipated documentary FAUCI, directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias. The film will follow epidemiologist and famed White House COVID-19 pandemic advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, offering a glimpse into his career and life as a public servant who has advised seven U.S presidents from the start of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s through SARS, Ebola, and now COVID-19.
There is no release date yet for the film as it was just announced on February 4, 2021, with special appearances listed like Bono, former President George W. Bush, Bill Gates, and more.
NYFA instructor Claudia Raschke on set
Raschke’s year is just getting started, as her feature documentary work on My Name is Pauli Murray recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and the 2021 premiere of Julia (CNN /Imagine Entertainment) on the horizon. Raschke’s new spy documentary, Codebreaker, aired this past January and is currently streaming after airdate on PBS’ American Experience.
“Capturing the big and the small moments of the amazing world we live in feeds my passion for the art of cinematography. Equally important is that I bear witness to and document the unique stories that unfold before my eyes in a way that dismantles barriers, opens doors, and reveals the truth. I believe that filming intuitively, honestly and without inhibition is a journey that requires a compassionate heart and the ability to see and hear what lies beneath the surface.” – Claudia Raschke, DP
New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking’s Documentary Division Cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke on all of her upcoming projects and looks forward to sharing more about the FAUCI documentary upon its release later in 2021.
Last Friday, Evgeniia Vlasova and I wrapped up a three-day online follow-up to last August’s Moscow Journalism Summer School (JSS). We ended early afternoon New York time, early evening Moscow time and after midnight Siberia time. About two-thirds of the JSS Summer attendees participated at some point over the three days. Some had personal obligations that precluded them from attending. One is a physician, once again treating desperately ill COVID-19 patients.
Each of the workshop participants produced a story on the theme “2020: The Year No One Expected.” While they all had a common subject, each approached the assignment in a unique way. Genia and I were very impressed by the maturity of the presentations. They were definitely better than what they did last August, although those were pretty good too.
We had two guest speakers. Jeff Platt is a general assignment reporter in Bakersfield, California. We invited him to talk about practicing digital journalism when you have limited resources. The other guest was Lara Gato, a NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate and a Producer with CBSN, the digital streaming service of CBS News. We discussed the differences in producing stories for broadcast/cable television and digital platforms.
Gillian Kemmerer, Host of The Faceoff & Ice Diaries, guest lectured this Summer and tweeted out her support of the incredible NYFA Moscow Broadcast Journalism students.
I had the chance to guest lecture the @NYFA Moscow students remotely this summer. Seeing their final projects leaves me in awe of what they learned. This is an evocative look at how orthodox churches are handling (or not) COVID from Anastasia Dzutstsati. https://t.co/RzlGHFyVWD
One of the differences between August and January was a more pronounced emphasis on career development. For the final session, each participant answered four questions:
Where do you want to be in one year?
Where do you want to be in three years?
What do you have to do to reach these goals?
What is one concrete step that you can take in the next two months to advance your career?
These folks gave up part of their Christmas vacations to attend this workshop. I think it is indicative of the value they assign to the Moscow JSS. We ended by asking them to recommend friends and colleagues who would be suitable candidates for the NYFA Moscow JSS II.
In July, four of the JSS I participants will be in New York for four weeks to study at NYFA. All travel, housing, meal, and tuition costs will be paid by the U.S. State Department.
In August 2021, we will be holding JSS II. Ideally in Moscow, otherwise online. It too will be fully funded by the State Department.
For more information on NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism School, click here.
NYFA is thrilled to announce that our colleague, Hannah Gilliland, was recently accepted into the NAFSA Academy, and was awarded a NAFSA scholarship to attend the 2021 cohort of young international education leaders of the future.
The NAFSA Academy is a highly cherished program of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. NAFSA “…is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange”. Its mission is to provide a path for every student, scholar, and specialist who is seeking the benefits of international education and to have every “…higher education integrates international perspectives into its teaching, research, and service missions”. The NAFSA Academy, which informs and educates people to uphold the organization’s mission, is a competitive, yearlong, intensive training and networking course on international education. Trainees are chosen from all over the US and are from many different international education backgrounds.
“The curriculum is rigorous and will provide Hannah with a wide-ranging array of tools for her to manage the NYFA Study Abroad Department efficiently”, stated Jim Miller, NYFA Vice President. Mr. Miller went on further to say, “we are very, very proud of Hannah — all of us at NYFA who interact and work alongside her regard her as a true gem of a colleague and we know that she has an incredible future in the field!”
The NAFSA Academy curriculum includes networking opportunities, an individual learning plan in which trainees arrange goals in terms of personal and institutional goals, blog assignments, attending the regional and annual NAFSA conference, and more. “What is unique is that I get to meet people all over the country and learn about all aspects of international education and while this course will benefit me, it will also benefit NYFA as a whole”, Hannah indicated upon learning of the award.
Hannah Gilliland at NYFA’s table at NAFSA’s 2019 annual conference
“The NAFSA Academy will not only help with important connections but also will assist me in making the NYFA Study Abroad Department stronger and give me insight into how other Study Abroad Departments are run. I believe NYFA’s emphasis on international and globally-minded students is one of our greatest and unique strengths that sets us apart from other schools and I think that this is a great opportunity for myself and for NYFA to grow and to become more known and knowledgeable in the field of international education.”
New York Film Academy congratulates Hannah Gilliland on her recent achievement and looks forward to what’s next from our esteemed colleague.