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  • “Unsettled History: America, China, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid” by Broadcast Journalism Chair Emeritus Bill Einreinhofer Premieres at the NYFA New York City Campus Theater

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    On May 18, New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism Chair Emeritus Bill Einreinhofer premiered his new documentary Unsettled History: America, China, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid at the NYFA New York City Campus Theater. The documentary examines a key moment in American/Chinese history, exploring how the two sides remember this shared event in different ways, the reasons for this divergence and what lessons it may hold today. Recounted by children of the Raiders and their Chinese rescuers, the documentary offers emotional insights that only family members can provide.

    Chinese Consul General Huang Ping from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, along with Ms. Chen Chunmei, Cultural Counselor, and other members of the Cultural Section at the Consulate General attended the screening. Michael Young, NYFA President; Dr. Joy Zhu, NYFA Executive Vice President, China Region; Bill Einreinhofer; NYFA faculty; and crew members of Unsettled History also attended the event. In his speech, Ambassador Huang Ping said:

    “History is a very good mirror. I think we need to draw [on] a few experiences and lessons from history. By telling the story of Flying Tigers and the Doolittle Raid, I believe we know that by working together, China and the US, we can do a lot of incredible things, big things. You know, working together. And by revealing the story, we know the friendships between our two countries and peoples are deeply rooted in the hearts of both sides.”

    Michael Young, President of the New York Film Academy, recalled the nearly 15 years of collaboration between the New York Film Academy and Chinese universities and media groups and expressed his willingness to carry out more collaborative projects in the future. Director and producer, Bill Einreinhofer, recalled some of the touching stories that occurred during the years of filming between China and the United States. He said the eighty American pilots who risked their lives to go on the mission are deserving heroes; the people of Jiangxi and Zhejiang, who sacrificed their lives to help the American pilots, are equally heroic. An estimated 250,000 Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese during their search for Doolittle’s men.

    On the same day, the Chinese Consulate General in New York also handed over more than 20 classic Chinese films from the 1980s to NYFA as teaching materials.

    Unsettled History: America, China, and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid has now been aired on more than 40 local channels in the United States and is scheduled to be aired on WORLD Channel on May 30 in 190 U.S. stations as a part of Memorial Day weekend special programming.

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    May 26, 2022 • Broadcast Journalism, China, Community Highlights • Views: 344

  • New York Film Academy Looks Back at the 2021 Highlights

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    2021 felt like a collective fever dream – a little strange but certainly not as unpredictable as its predecessor. This was a good year!

    In the midst of this reflection, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments the New York Film Academy (NYFA) community was able to create and achieve this year.

    We have selected a handful of the many successes our alumni, students, faculty and staff were a part of – check out our infographic below!

    Please note: NYFA does not represent that these are typical or guaranteed career outcomes. The success of our graduates in any chosen professional pathway depends on multiple factors, and the achievements of NYFA alumni are the result of their hard work, perseverance, talent and circumstances.

     

     

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  • Q&A with Army Veteran and NYFA Photography and Cinematography Alum Xavier Velasquez

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    Two-time New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography and Cinematography Alum Xavier Velasquez has been making waves in sound design and cinematography since graduating from NYFA in 2019.

    Velasquez spoke with New York Film Academy about what he’s been up to since graduating, what inspires his work and his advice to anyone looking to get started in filmmaking.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us a bit about yourself and life before NYFA?

    Xavier Velasquez (XV):My name is Xavier Velásquez. I am a Cinematographer, Photographer, Audio Engineer and Sound designer. I also do a lot of conceptual/surrealist digital art work and I am originally from Brooklyn, NY. 

    Before attending NYFA, I served in the United States Army for 5 years. I was stationed in Germany for 3.5 years and Fort Bragg for the remainder of my contract. I was deployed twice during my service. Once to Turkey for 6 months and the other to Kandahar, Afghanistan for 9 months.

    NYFA: What brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    XV: Honestly, the idea of making films as a career or professional was so far-fetched to me. As a kid I would force my sister and cousins to make films with me on my dad’s old VHS recorder (which I still have). As I was graduating high school, I realized that you could go to college for filmmaking, media, arts – things like that. I decided that was the route for me and applied to the Art Institute of Boston. I was accepted, went to orientation and took the placement tests only to learn that I would also need to do math, science, english and all the other regular subjects before I even got to learn anything about making films. That right there was a NO for me. I looked up other film schools on Google and found out about New York Film Academy and I was hooked. Everything they provided and showcased on their website was exactly what I was looking for. So I applied and got approved for a grant NYFA offered at the time, but then I couldn’t attend because I was 18 and broke and was unable to cover the rest of the tuition. A few years passed, I joined the Army at 20 and while I was deployed to Afghanistan, I was debating whether to reenlist for more years or get out. After having a conversation with my platoon sergeant about college, I decided to google the New York Film Academy again. I saw that the school accepted the G.I bill, a benefit I received from being in the military which would pay for my schooling; that sealed my fate right there. The decision was clearer than ever. I left the military on Veteran’s Day 2015 and by December I was signed up for school and ready for classes in January.  

    NYFA: You mentioned you studied Filmmaking, Audio and Photography. What motivated you to continue your studies and transition from Film, Audio and Photography?

    XV: Well there’s no question about it, as much as I love cinematography, compositions, framing, lighting, you NEED really good sound or, in my opinion, your  films don’t work. You can be very experimental with how you shoot and light anything but bad sound is never forgiven. I had months left on my G.I Bill and decided that sound was something I wanted to get more involved in. I love the sound design part of filmmaking. The audience might hear clothes rustling but they wouldn’t know that it’s just me balling up one of my sons clean diapers. It’s exciting creating noise from anything to be anything. I felt solidified in my decision to endure the world of sound design when a film I executive produced, Dp’d, colored and did the sound design for actually won best sound design at a festival. Photography is also important. In my opinion, it is the foundation of good cinematography. The photography program at NYFA really opened my eyes to the artistic world and what a lens can capture. That program alone is what made me the DP I am today. It taught me to appreciate what the light captures and what it doesn’t. It taught me to appreciate the shadows and embrace them because everything has a story. Care about your framing because that one frame can tell a story.

     

    View this post on Instagram

     

    A post shared by Xavier (@_eckz_)

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project? What was your role in the project?

    XV: My latest short film is Sutherland. It is an atmospheric horror film that I co-executive produced and was the director of photography for. I got onto this project because another project I was supposed to DP for fell through. I spoke to the director of Sutherland about it because he was also supposed to be on that project with me and since the first project had fallen through, he offered to write a script for us to work on, if I was interested. He wrote it (what would be Sutherland). I loved it and we went from there. We got a cast and crew and spent 5 nights in July shooting a horror film in a historic house in Virginia. It’s by far one of my favorite projects I’ve been blessed to create. It is currently going through the film festival circuit It has been selected in the category of Best Cinematography for the Montreal Independent Film Festival. 

    Take a look at the Sutherland teaser below!

    There is also and Instagram page for the film : @sutherland_film. 


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

    XV: Aside from Sutherland, I have also been working on 2 other projects. A documentary that I’m DPing, GodsChild, that I’ve been filming for about a year now with former NYFA student, Darius Green. It focuses on a DJ who was a rising basketball star in the early 2000’s here in Virginia. The second project is an episodic comedy of which I am DP and co-producer, Simpleton. An observational comedy that follows the life of our protagonist Gerson. Episode one is finished and we are getting ready to release that soon.

    NYFA: What kind of stories do you want to be known for?

    XV: I don’t know. That’s tough question because I seem to have fallen into the suspense horror genre. Don’t get me wrong, I love that world and creating it but I also want to see if I can venture into other genres but still maintain my artistic integrity where if someone watches anything I’ve made they can tell I either filmed it myself or influenced the project. It is one of the reasons I took on the episodic comedy I mentioned before. At that point, I had never shot a comedy and wanted to see if I could pull it off. Sutherland and Simpleton are polar opposites. I wanted to see if I could do it and make it fit my style of shooting.

    NYFA: What is the importance of film and storytelling in your opinion?

    XV: Film and storytelling are outlets for artists. If it’s documentary work, it gives people a voice. They can choose to use that voice to bring awareness to social issues, tell the truth, or persuade an audience. 

    If we are talking about fiction it gives us the power to use our imagination. For the most part, we are taught to go to college and get a job and that’s it. Our creativity dies out as we fall in line with this “life plan”. With that plan, when are you being creative or imaginative? Being able to create something that tells a story, either using film, photography or art is something creatives cherish. I feel that we are true risk-takers as not everyone can make a living doing something in this field. A lot of artists don’t even get recognized until they pass away. We do this for freedom of self expression but most of the time we don’t care if everyone loves our work because we do. It’s our outlet at the end of the day and if people don’t like it or they think they can do it better, they should pick up a camera or a brush and do it.

     

    View this post on Instagram

     

    A post shared by Xavier (@_eckz_)

    NYFA: Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    XV: Yes I have. Both in my film work and my photography work. My conceptual work was accepted in both the APA (Annual Photography Awards) and the Fine Art Photography Awards. I also had my work in the Conception Art Show in Tribeca and The A.R.T (Artistic Recreational Therapy) in the UK. 

    NYFA: Who has inspired you in your work? Who has inspired you personally?

    XV: This is such a hard question to answer. Inspiration comes from too many places. I could be listening to a song that gives me a feeling or makes an image pop in my head and I would go from there. That’s how most of my digital artwork is created. Either life experiences or music I’m listening to at the time. But if I had to name a few in the film world it would be directors like David Fincher, Ari Aster, Jordan Peele. Tod Campbell’s cinematography work. The photography work of Gregory Crewdson, & Dan Winters are just a few of the many artists that inspire me.

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

    XV: Everything. I knew absolutely nothing about cinematography, photography or filmmaking as a whole. I legitimately left the “comfort” and “stability” of the military without knowing if I would be good at any of this. The first time I held a real camera – outside of my fathers old vhs recorder – was at Nyfa. Whenever someone asks me about going to film school, I tell them if they can afford it then go for it. If they still have any doubt all I have to do is show them my work. I will always consider myself a student of this art form but I do feel that I know what I’m doing simply because I went to NYFA.

    NYFA: Any advice or tips for anyone looking to get involved in photography, film or the visual arts?

    XV: I mean not to sound cliche but just go for it. For the most part nobody is stopping you from doing anything but yourself. Yeah, you can bring up money but if you’re old enough to have these kinds of questions then you should have a phone in your possession and the phones nowadays can do everything. I’ve shot films on my phone. One of my photos that was included in an art gallery I originally took on my iPhone 11. If you want to be a storyteller, there’s literally no reason as to why you can’t write a story, and then find the people that can help you bring it to life.

    I’ll end this Q&A with this: there’s this saying or quote I don’t really remember where I heard it from or who said it but I remember it like this, “there’s pen and paper everywhere, but not everyone is an author” I used that quote to inspire me all the time. I don’t consider myself a writer at all but it reminds me that just because people have access to things doesn’t mean they know how to use it. So if you want to be an author – write stories, a filmmaker – make a film, a photographer – take photos. You never know you just might have that artistic voice someones been waiting to hear, see or feel.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Xavier Velasquez on his accomplishments! We look forward to seeing more of your work!

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    February 11, 2022 • Acting, Cinematography, Diversity, Photography, Student Life • Views: 953

  • OSCARS 2022: FULL LIST OF WINNERS

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    NYFA Celebrates Oscar 2022 Nominations

    The nominations for the 94th Annual Academy Awards are in! This year’s nominees were
    announced by the internet’s favorites Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan on Tuesday,
    February 8th.

    By the pricking of my thumbs, some nominations this way come.

    There were some snubs, firsts, surprises and some not-so-surprising but entirely welcomed
    moments, like Denzel Washington dethroning himself as the most-nominated Black actor with
    his 10th nomination for The Tragedy of Macbeth.

    The Power of the Dog leads with 12 Oscar nominations including Best Picture,
    Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Adapted Screenplay and director Jane Campion makes
    history as the first female director to be nominated for Best Director twice.
    The Power of the Dog’s
    Cinematographer Ari Wegner could make history as the first woman to win Best Cinematography.

    Coming in close second this year is Dune with 10 Oscar nominations
    including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Visual
    Effects. NYFA 3D Animation and VFX Alum Francesco Panzieri was the in-house compositor for
    the adaptation of the Frank Herbert classic. In a Q&A with NYFA about the film, Panzieri
    told NYFA that he had been tapped for the project long before it began production; the
    in-house team at Wylie VFX sought his collaboration after Panzieri’s work on Terminator: Dark Fate.

    Also nominated for Best Picture is NYFA Guest Speaker Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. NYFA Musical Theatre Alum Ilda Mason was casted as Luz, a member of the sharks in Spielberg’s remake, shortly after her run on Broadway in Ivo van Hove’s Broadway revival of West Side Story in 2020. The on-screen revival is also nominated for Best Cinematography making it the 7th Academy nomination for Spielberg’s long-time collaborator and NYFA Guest Speaker Janusz Kaminski. But perhaps most outstanding is Steven Spielberg’s nomination for Best Director; with this nomination, Spielberg became the first director to be nominated 11 times in the category, dethroning former record holder and cult-favorite, Martin Scorsese.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter has been all the rave since premiering last December
    and the debut feature is not letting up. Gyllenhaal is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
    for her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s classic of the same title. The film is also
    represented in the Best Actress category, with Olivia Colman nominated for her
    outstanding performance in Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut alongside Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), Nicole Kidman (Becoming the Ricardos), Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye). Also nominated for her work on The Lost Daughter is Jessie Buckley for Best Supporting Actress. The film’s producers Osnat Handelsmen – Keren and Talia Kleinhendler spoke at length with the Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, Tova Laiter, during a Q&A about the process (and difficulty) of securing the rights to adapt an Elena Ferrante novel and filming during a pandemic with closed borders and a mostly international cast and crew. It seems it was worth it in the end as the film continues to collect nominations this award season. Not too bad for a directorial debut.

    Beloved animated film Luca brings in a nomination for Best Animated Film for Pixar Studios.
    NYFA Alum Raquel Bordin is part of Pixar’s International Editorial Department, where she
    worked for 11 weeks putting the final touches on the coming-of-age Italian film. More of
    Bordin’s work is headed to the big screen. She recently confirmed with us that she is
    working on the animated sci-fi feature, Lightyear, set to release this summer.

    Also in the Best Animated Film category is NYFA Guest Speaker Amy Smeed who continues to
    soar as Head of Animation at Walt Disney Animation Studio and co-head animator for
    Raya and The Last Dragon
    which has been nominated for Best Animated Film. The animated Danish documentary, Flee, is also nominated and makes Oscar history as the first film to be nominated for Best Animated Film, Best International Feature and Best Documentary.

    Nominated alongside Dune for Best Visual Effects is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Director Destin Daniel Cretton and actor Simu Liu spoke with NYFA during a Q&A curated and moderated by Tova Laiter about bringing the Marvel comic to life, representation and working with special effects.

    Lastly, Drive My Car, adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story by the same name and
    directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, is the first Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture
    and the first Japanese film to be nominated in more than one category including
    Best International Feature, Best Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

    NYFA congratulates all the nominees, alumni and guest speakers for their nominations at the
    94th Annual Academy Awards! We look forward to hearing the winners on March 27th, 2022 on
    ABC.

    Check out the complete list of nominees below:

    BEST PICTURE

    “Belfast”
    “CODA” – Winner
    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Drive My Car”
    “Dune”
    “King Richard”
    “Licorice Pizza”
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “West Side Story”

    ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

    Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”
    Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” – Winner
    Judi Dench, “Belfast”
    Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”
    Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”

    ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

    Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast”
    Troy Kotsur, “CODA” – Winner
    Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog”
    J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos”
    Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

    “Drive My Car” – Winner
    “Flee”
    “The Hand of God”
    “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”
    “The Worst Person in the World”

    DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

    “Audible”
    “Lead Me Home”
    “The Queen of Basketball” – Winner
    “Three Songs for Benazir”
    “When We Were Bullies”

    DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

    “Ascension”
    “Attica”
    “Flee”
    “Summer of Soul” – Winner
    Writing with Fire”

    ORIGINAL SONG

    “King Richard”
    “Encanto”
    “Belfast”
    “No Time to Die” – Winner
    “Four Good Days”

    ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

    “Encanto” – Winner
    “Flee”
    “Luca”
    “The Mitchells vs. The Machine”
    “Raya and the Last Dragon”

    ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

    “CODA” – Winner
    “Drive My Car”
    “Dune”
    “The Lost Daughter”
    “The Power of the Dog”

    ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

    “Belfast” – Winner
    “Don’t Look Up”
    “King Richard”
    “Licorice Pizza”
    “The Worst Person in the World”

    ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

    Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos”
    Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog”
    Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick… Boom!”
    Will Smith, “King Richard” – Winner
    Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”

    ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

    Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – Winner
    Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter”
    Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
    Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”
    Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”

    DIRECTOR

    Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
    Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
    Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
    Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” – Winner
    Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”

    PRODUCTION DESIGN

    “Dune” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
    “West Side Story”

    CINEMATOGRAPHY

    “Dune” – Winner
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
    “West Side Story”

    COSTUME DESIGN

    “Cruella” – Winner
    “Cyrano”
    “Dune”
    “Nightmare Alley”
    “Westside Story”

    ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND

    “Belfast”
    “Dune” – Winner
    “No Time to Die”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “Westside Story”

    ANIMATED SHORT FILE

    “Affairs of the Art”
    “Bestia”
    “Boxballet”
    “Robin Robin”
    “The Windshield Wiper” – Winner

    LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

    “Ala Kachuu — Take and Run”
    “The Dress”
    “The Long Goodbye” – Winner
    “On My Mind”
    “Please Hold”

    ORIGINAL SCORE

    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Dune” – Winner
    “Encanto”
    “Parallel Mothers”
    “The Power of the Dog”

    VISUAL EFFECTS

    “Dune” – Winner
    “Free Guy”
    “No Time to Die”
    “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
    “Spider-Man: No Way Home”

    FILM EDITING

    “Don’t Look Up”
    “Dune” – Winner
    “King Richard”
    “The Power of the Dog”
    “Tick, Tick… Boom!”

    MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

    “Coming 2 America”
    “Cruella” – Winner
    “Dune”
    “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – Winner
    “House of Gucci”

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

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    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. 

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    January 3, 2022 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1043

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

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    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).

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    December 23, 2021 • Acting, Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 974

  • Happy Holidays from NYFA’s Division of Veterans Services

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    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

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    December 23, 2021 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Veterans • Views: 659

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

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    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.

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    December 21, 2021 • Alumni Events, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 996

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

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    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.

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    December 16, 2021 • Alumni Events • Views: 1016

  • New York Film Academy & EducationUSA Pakistan Celebrate International Education Week 2021

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was honored to be involved with EducationUSA, the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP), and the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, to celebrate International Education Week (IEW) with film as a vehicle to bridge mutual understanding between the United States and Pakistan.

    For the third year in a row, Professor Piero Basso, NYFA’s New York Campus Chair of Cinematography, led a team of NYFA faculty judges for the filmmaking competition ‘Filminute‘, which was created to help Pakistani students improve their communication skills and unleash their creative potential. Budding filmmakers between the ages of 15 to 18 submitted one-minute films with their unique interpretation on the theme: ‘if these walls could talk.’

    On November 18th, EducationUSA Pakistan held a virtual event to celebrate each film and the award-winning filmmakers. At the event, NYFA Professor Piero Basso provided remarks to the online attendees. He began, “As an educator, it’s always a reason of joy to see the young, new generation creatives expressing themselves in films and willing to take risks, explore creative storytelling, and to not be shy of talking about challenging topics. The theme ‘If These Walls Could Talk’ inspired some filmmakers to confront extremely serious and difficult subjects with a remarkable maturity”.

    Further encouraging young Pakistani filmmakers, Professor Basso stated, “One of the greatest qualities of these movies is the willingness of the filmmakers to find ways to express themselves without the fear of judgment, especially on the technical elements. As the Chair of the Cinematography Department at NYFA’s New York campus, I watched several portfolios and you can often notice in older applicants the fear of submitting work less than technically perfect. Personally, I admire the freshness of younger filmmakers less bothered by the fear of judgment on how they set the camera and more focused in sharing their stories. They produce movies that are imperfect and raw, but intense, true to themselves and a pure expression of their creativity.”

     

    About EducationUSA:

    EducationUSA is the official U.S. government source of information on U.S. higher education. It offers accurate, comprehensive, and current information on accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States, and free guidance and assistance to students interested in applying to U.S. colleges and universities. In Pakistan, EducationUSA is hosted at USEFP, a bi-national commission established in 1950 by the Governments of Pakistan and the United States. USEFP also administers the prestigious Fulbright Student Program and several other scholarships and fellowships for Pakistani students interested in studying in the United States.

     

    About United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP):

     USEFP is guided by a binational commission composed of an equal number of Pakistanis and Americans, with the Chair alternating each year between a Pakistani and an American. USEFP is one of 49 “Fulbright Commissions” located throughout the world. Since 1951 when the first group of Pakistani grantees traveled to America and in 1952 when the first American grantees visited Pakistan, the USEFP has fostered mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the people of the United States through educational and cultural exchange. More than 8,000 Pakistanis and around 935 Americans have participated in USEFP administered exchange programs.

    The Foundation receives support and counsel from both the Pakistan and U.S. governments, but it is not an agency of either. The Foundation supervises a variety of programs that send Pakistani students and scholars to American campuses while bringing American scholars to universities in Pakistan. The goal of all USEFP programs is to help Pakistanis learn more about the U.S. and to help Americans learn more about Pakistan and its people.

     

    About New York Film Academy:

    New York Film Academy

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is a leading film, media, and performing arts college that offers hands-on intensive undergraduate and graduate degree programs, certificates, and workshops across a multitude of areas of study in New York City, Los Angeles, South Beach/Miami, Gold Coast (Australia), Florence (Italy), Beijing and Shanghai (China), and more. Its programs are accelerated and NYFA students can complete a four-year BFA degree in three years. NYFA’s online program offerings allow students the opportunity to advance their creative and technical skills in NYFA’s “Hands-Online Workshops,” available across NYFA’s film, media, and performing arts disciplines.

    NYFA is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). This accreditation extends to all NYFA campuses in the United States and overseas.

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    November 29, 2021 • Community Highlights, Contests, International Diversity • Views: 733