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  • Live Theater Returns to NYC With NYFA PCMT’s Newest Production “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle”

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    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) recently performed their original musical, NOT WORKING: A 2020 SONG CYCLE earlier this month with live, COVID-safe performances at East River Park Amphitheatre in New York City.

    The original production was conceived and directed by NYFA’s Travis Greisler (The Cher Show) with musical direction by Kevin David Thomas (A Little Night Music) and was created especially for the Musical Theatre students at NYFA.

    NYFA PCMT students rehearse before the show’s debut

    NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle is a nod to the 1970’s song cycle WORKING, and portrays the various stories and vantage points of topics ranging from the global pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, quarantine and isolation, and our immense desire to be telling stories live and in person again.

    The full length, live musical showcases NYFA’s PCMT students performing contributions from 15 different composers/lyricists from many racial backgrounds, gender identities, and sexualities. Each composer wrote about their various points of view on all things 2020 during this time where many have been missing the element of live performance for the majority of the year.

    “It is a show about all the things that are not working in our world, written in 2020, about 2020, and performed in 2020,” said Greisler. “A thing most new musicals never get to do as they usually take so long to get written and eventually produced. We had quite the opportunity on our hands and I didn’t want to waste it.”

    In addition to the performers, composers, and lyricists involved in the show, NYFA’s PCMT also collaborated across disciplines with NYFA’s Filmmaking and Cinematography departments to capture the live performance for online streaming distribution so as to reach a potentially even larger number of viewers.

    Photo from live performance of “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle”

    “One of the things this pandemic has taught everyone in the performing arts is the necessity to find new and creative ways to bring our performances and talents to a large audience in an unconventional way,” shared Pierro Basso (AIC-IMAGO), Chair of NYFA’s Cinematography Department in New York. “What the pandemic has not done, however, is deter from the longstanding collaboration between the Filmmaking, Cinematography and Musical Theatre departments at NYFA.”

    “NYFA is so proud of all of our students for their continued excellence in the face of very difficult circumstances,” added Senior Executive Vice President and COO at NYFA David Klein. “We are so proud of our Musical Theatre Department, the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre, and our musical theatre students and faculty who have overcome what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to live performance to create a new musical during a global pandemic.”

    Photo from live performance of “NOT WORKING: A 2020 Song Cycle

    The show’s producer and Chair of NYFA’s Musical Theatre Department Kristy Cates (Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) also added, “I am thrilled that NYFA gave us the green light to create and produce this amazing new piece of work and I know this show has been an extremely uplifting and cathartic experience for all the performers, composers and audiences alike. We are proud we were able to share NOT WORKING with New York City.”

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  • Film “Make America Safe” by NYFA Acting Instructor Blanche Baker Enjoys Festival Run

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    Our NYFA Acting faculty aren’t only professionals in front of the camera but are working professionals in the industry constantly experimenting and making their own work while simultaneously teaching NYFA students the fundamentals of their craft.

    Blanche Baker teaches in both the Acting and Musical Theatre departments at NYFA’s New York campus. With an extensive background on the stage and on screen, Baker made her television debut in the miniseries Holocaust, for which she won an Emmy Award. Her feature films include Sixteen Candles, The Handmaid’s Tale with Robert Duvall, Raw Deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Kevin Bacon HBO film Taking Chance. She was part of the Yale Repertory Theatre and Anna Sokolow’s dance troupe and her theatre roles include Steel Magnolias and Edward Albee’s Lolita with Donald Sutherland. 

    Film poster for “Make America Safe”

    In addition to writing and directing the award-winning short film Streetwrite, Baker wrote and directed her latest film Make America Safe, with award-winning cinematography Piero Basso, serving as the director of photography. The film has been garnering accolades and making its rounds on the festival circuit, recently appearing in the Global Impact Festival in Washington, D.C.

    Make America Safe is a musical short film about the 2nd Amendment and asks the question, “what if in the next few years citizens were required to carry weapons in order to ensure the safety of the public?” Using the premise of a news commentary show, the film takes a sardonic look at this possible future and examines the kind of scenarios that could arise in this world. With music composed by Andy Peterson, it sheds light on the rationales that could lead to such a future. 

    The film features a talented cast of Musical Theatre students working alongside NYFA’s professional faculty of artists as part of their Musical Theatre curriculum, which requires students to perform in original movie musicals, combining both musical theatre for the stage and for film.

    Official Selection: 
    Global Nonviolent Film Festival
    South Film and Arts Festival
    Film for Peace
    New York Short Film Festival
    Sanctuary International Film Festival

    Accolades:
    A Show For Change – Creativity Award
    Awareness Festival – Merit Award for Awareness
    X World Short Film Festival – Best International Short and Best Original Music
    Cinefest – Best Musical
    Blow Up Arthouse – Finalist

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    November 17, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Musical Theatre • Views: 141

  • Broadcast Journalism Update – November 2020 Edition

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    2020 has been an eventful year, and even though there are less than two months to go, the pace of events shows no sign of slowing down.

    “Election Day” in the United States became “Election Week.” And as I write this, the Election is still being litigated in court. NYFA Broadcast Journalism grads have been reporting this story to audiences across America, and around the world. Catherine Kobayashi is a New York-based reporter for NHK, Japan’s national Public TV network. Previously she was the lead presenter for NHK World, an English-language news service based in Tokyo.

    “Deep in the Heart of Texas” (which is the title of a famous old song… I know a lot about “old songs”), former NYFA student Nicole Cross had a long night that dragged into the early morning (and beyond) as one of the anchors/presenters for Election Night coverage on Spectrum News 1, a 24-hour local news channel available throughout Texas.

    Danish TV producer/reporter Celina Liv Danielsen spent many, many hours in Las Vegas. But not at any of the casinos. Instead, she was at the Clark County Administration Building waiting for the latest vote count.


    Karen Hua
     remembered the first rule of TV reporting… drink water.
    NYFA instructor Evgenia Vlasova has a substantial social media presence. She discovered what it is like for a major network to see your story, and liked it so much they decide they want to do it too… Personally, I think Genia’s version was better!

    Speaking of Genia, she and I co-hosted a two-hour webinar on TV production during the age of COVID. The first hour looked at TV news production, while in the second hour we explored change in the production of talk shows, episodic television, and feature films. The webinar is part of a three-day conference called Astana Media Week, which draws TV producers and executives from throughout Central Asia.

    And, in keeping with NYFA production protocols, we wore our masks.

    Of course, lots of other things happened over the last few months. Broadcast Journalism graduate Federica Polidoro covered the legendary Biennale de Venezia, one of the few international film festivals that actually took place in-person this year.

    In Brazil, NYFA alum Daniella Gemignani celebrated a work anniversary at media giant Globo, in Sao Paulo Brazil.

    Paula Varejao, who works on Globo’s Mais Globosat, continues going to places I can only dream of visiting.

    Broadcast Journalism grad Beatriz Puente is working for Band TV. And while she loves her job as a producer, I think she might love being an on-air reporter even more…

    One of her recent stories was how a well-known dance club in Rio opened and violated every COVID-19 rule you could imagine. This is why Journalism is so important. Frankly, there are times when Journalism is literally a matter of life and death.

    Many time zones away, former NYFA student Abiola Jinadu has established her own production company in Nigeria. The company specializes in a wide range of video programming, the same way we train our students to be multimedia journalists capable of working in many different settings. Congratulations, Abiola!

    Closer to New York City, NYFA grad Kendall Bunch made her way to Marquette, Michigan (one of the smaller TV markets in the United States) to start her career. It is a path many of us have taken. Myself, I spent a couple of years in Madison, Wisconsin…

    Broadcast Journalism alum (and U.S. Navy veteran) Clyde D. Gunter is now a Content Strategist at ESPN Original Content.

    And current Broadcast Journalism student (and part-time Good Morning America studio crew member) Brett Mills shows how to maintain social distancing with a Sony FS5 HD/4K camera.

    Stay tuned for more updates from Broadcast students, alumni, and faculty. For more information about our Broadcast Journalism programs, click here.
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  • Cinematography Instructor Mark Sawicki Featured in ‘Deadline’ and Discusses New Book “Filming the Fantastic with Virtual Technology” Bringing Movie Magic Solutions

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    As many TV and film productions are grappling with new social distancing guidelines and reassessing working with extras for crowd scenes, New York Film Academy Cinematography instructor for NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, Mark Sawicki, says VFX is here to help.

    Sawicki is a Clio-winning VFX and opticals artist, who has worked on incredible titles from The Dark Knight Rises and Bullet to the Head, to Tropic Thunder, 3:10 to Yuma and X-Men, among several others. Recently featured in Deadline, Sawicki shared how productions will increasingly begin to look to VFX to solve the challenging situations for making safer productions and creating scenes with crowds where multiple extras on set are typically needed.  

    Courtesy of Mark Sawicki

    Using examples from titles like Casanova, Dracula, Gladiator, Pan Am, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, and more, Sawicki explains different VFX and even practical effects that can make movie magic for keeping sets safer. He also elaborated that background actors are still integral to filmmaking, but safety will need to take precedent. “I think background actors are very important. You know, this is a moving target as we’re adapting.”

    Sawicki is the co-author with Juniko Moody of the recently released book Filming the Fantastic With Virtual Technology: Filmmaking on the Digital Backlot. Like his interview with Deadline explains, Sawicki and Moody outline some of the most ambitious evolutions in digital effects in filmmaking and the new and exciting developments in digital cinematography with their new book, ultimately providing solutions for how VFX can help solve many of the challenges arising as crews look to return to work on COVID-safe sets.

    To read the full article on Deadline, click here. Sawicki’s book has recently been released and is now available on Amazon and Kindle. 

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    November 11, 2020 • 3D Animation, Cinematography, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights • Views: 485

  • NYFA Stories: Recent Top 10

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    It’s the most wonderful time of the year…well almost. Netflix has recently announced the upcoming release of holiday musical feature film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Jingle Jangle), starring Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Hugh Bonneville, and more. NYFA alum Francesco Panzieri served as the compositing supervisor for the upcoming film, set to be released on November 13, 2020. Read more…


    The Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF) is holding its 6th edition and, like many festivals this year, has had to re-invent the festival experience due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Founders and NYFA alumni Linnea Larsdotter and Johan Matton devised a hybrid in-person and online experience where festival goers could attend drive-in screenings being held at The Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City, as well as view films online. Read more…


    Out of 18 nominated shows, leading the pack of nominations is the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill with 15 nominations, earning at least one nomination in every eligible category. The heavily-nominated production was produced by NYFA Musical Theatre alumni Chase Thomas and Yael Silver. A Christmas Carol, also produced by NYFA alum Chase Thomas, received nods for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Costume Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Play, and Best Sound Design of a Play. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with award-winning and celebrated actor Alec Baldwin to discuss the acting craft with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event. Read more…


    Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam co-directs the new, inspirational documentary Rooting For Roona about a child named Roona with an advanced form of hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the brain resulting in an enlarged head and can also cause brain damage. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Francesca Scorsese stars as Britney in Luca Guadagnino’s new miniseries We Are Who We Are for HBO. Scorsese’s character is described as an outspoken character in the main friend group that the show centers on. Read more…


    Having already graduated with a BFA in Producing for Film & TV from the New York Film Academy, South African native Thandiwe Mlauli has announced an upcoming project called SOLA. It will be South Africa’s first independently produced and women-led afro-animation, with Mlauli acting as producer, director and showrunner through her animation company Studio Yezi. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to share that Photography alum Jon Henry has been featured in the October 2020 issue of National Geographic (“Nat Geo”).

    Henry, who previously won photography’s most prestigious honors—the Film Photo Award—for his series Stranger Fruit, had his photographs from the series displayed on multiple pages in the Nat Geo issue. The series itself incorporates Michelangelo’s Pietà as a response to the ongoing, senseless murders of African American men by police officers across the United States, Henry shared. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is thrilled to announce that Filmmaking alum Antonio Campos’ upcoming film The Devil All The Time has been released by Netflix.

    The film, co-written and directed by Campos, boasts a star-studded cast including Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Jason Clarke, Bill Skarsgård, and many more. The film follows a backwards preacher (Pattinson) and the other seemingly tainted cast of characters as they converge around the orbit of young Arvin Russell (Holland) and his family. Read more…


    of the long-anticipated films of the summer, Bill & Ted Face The Music, starring Keanu Reeves (John Wick) and Alex Winter (The Lost Boys) was released everywhere on VOD and in select cinemas on August 28, 2020, with NYFA alum Alex Lebovici as a producer. Read more…


    This was last updated October 27, 2020

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    October 27, 2020 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 237

  • NYFA Presents: The Rock The Vote Rally 2020

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    A rousing group of New York Film Academy students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses (New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach) participated in a Rock the Vote Virtual Rally yesterday. The Rally included special guest, Tony-nominated actor Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s RENT, Les Misérables, The Rocky Horror Show ), who shared stories of her immigrant family background, becoming a U.S citizen, and the imperative to vote. 

    NYFA Producing alum Lisa Cortes (producer of the Academy Award-winning Precious, recent Emmy Award-winner for The Apollo, and producer/co-director of the just-released Stacey Abrams documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy) spoke of the importance of voting in light of the long history of voter suppression in the U.S. In the making of All In: The Fight For Democracy during the COVID pandemic, Cortes talked about how her NYFA Producing education proved so valuable in pulling together the project during such challenging times. Attendees were treated to a special viewing of the All In trailer and a special musical clip of Janelle Monae performing the closing title song from the film. 

    Also joining via specially recorded video clips was Nikki Renée Daniels from “Hamilton” and Shoshana Bean from “Wicked”,  A special “Get Out The Vote” tribute by Lin Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton capped the Rally. 

    The event was co-produced by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Chair of the Musical Theatre Department, Kristy Cates. 

    “Our sincerest hope was not only to invigorate the NYFA community to become excited about and committed to voting, but to inspire everyone in attendance to reach out to their circles and do the same.” – Kristy Cates

    NYFA’s Rock The Vote efforts include a Zoom room every Tuesday from 1 p.m. ET – 4 p.m. ET that offers voter registration and mail-in ballot assistance for NYFA students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses. Please stop in and check your registration, apply for absentee ballots, etc. Further information is available on the NYFA Voter Resources page.

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  • NYFA Los Angeles Cinematography Students Adapt to New Hybrid Model in Creative Stage Lighting Workshop

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    As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, New York Film Academy continues to show how its adapting to delivering an applied arts education. The Cinematography department on the Los Angeles campus has taken an updated approach to the “Stage Lighting Workshop” course using practical components integrated with remote instruction.

    Production design instructor Francis Pezza created a set for a modern urban apartment to be built on Stage 5 at TBS Studios (former home of NBC), down the hall from the famous soundstage where Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show.

    The apartment design features a spacious floor plan that incorporates a living room, kitchen, and bedroom. The layout allows students a great degree of flexibility in designing shots and creating a variety of lighting schemes. Additionally, the set features a large window that looks out onto a 50-foot translight backing of the New York City skyline. The backing can be lit for either day or night, and allows the Cinematography students to incorporate a greater sense of depth and dimension in their photography.

    Following the set build, department chair Anthony Richmond ASC, BSC and Cinematography instructor Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC began their workshops with the MFA and One-Year Cinematography students. Each student is instructed to choose a reference image, which will first be analyzed by the class, and then used as inspiration in creating a new shot and lighting setup.

    The instructors and the students worked remotely, relaying their instructions to a group of TA’s on set, who followed the students’ directions, placing and shaping the lights as instructed, and executing the cinematographer’s vision for the shot. The students were encouraged to incorporate camera movement into their visual design, utilizing the available space to best effect.

    Throughout the workshop, the students learned new techniques for lighting, shot design, and moving the camera. This hybrid model of remote instruction with practical elements proved successful in delivering the goals of the workshop.

    Reflecting on the class, Richmond said:

    “I was pleased with the success of this workshop. Working remotely proved very effective. I was with the students on Zoom, where we could all see each other, and the image from the Red camera as the students lit the set. We had additional cameras showing us what was happening on set, including a bird’s eye view of the entire stage. The crew worked well together, and the students were able to accomplish many unique shots.”

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  • NYFA Los Angeles Holds Virtual Graduation Celebration for Summer 2020 Graduates

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    On September 12, NYFA’s Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy saw 238 students turn into graduates as they held a virtual commencement ceremony for former NYFA students to collect their degrees and officially becoming alumni of NYFA.

    Director, producer and screenwriter Bill Duke recorded a special message to NYFA students encouraging them to use this unique time in history to use their gifts and work together as a community after graduation. NYFA Los Angeles also introduced its first student speaker Maya Maria Riquelme Balmaceda (MFA Filmmaking), who addressed her peers on this milestone achievement. Students also were shown a graduation video that was streamed during the ceremony.

    Graduating Class of 2020

    1-Year Acting for Film
    Ugwumsinachi Adeife Adeniran, Kimberly Campbell, Leticia Carminati, Caleb Jon Robert Cash, Giovanna de Oliveira Carvalho, Tyler Erart Ebanks, Taiga Hironaka, Neha  Jauhar, Kunyarat Karnchanasej, Melisa Lopez, Dylan Marcus Lorenzo, Luca Marcelino, Astrid Nutta Lilli Morberg, Maria Alejandra Ordonez Ramirez, Bruna G Portugal Martins, Maria Fernanda Rico Sapien, Kassandra Valenzuela, Anuschka van Lent, America Vasquez, Matthew Martin Vey, Braxton DeMarco Wells, Spencer Whitlock, Giovanna Xavier

    1-Year Photography
    Daniel John Phillips, Alejandra Andrea Sone

    1-Year Animation
    Shaela Payne

    1-Year Cinematography
    Omkar Avinash Gharat, Gaurav Hemant Jain, Jianyu Li, Piyush Thoravat

    1-Year Filmmaking
    Jason Aguirre, Mohamed Alsalman, Rodrigo Gomez, Albina Kim, Eva Zehan Liu, Joshua Long-Ellis, Chit Ho Ng, Christopher Perez, Roy Shellef – Sleptzoff, Daniel Karl Martin Sundler, Joshua Michael Wallace, Wanqi Zhang

    1-Year Producing
    Olga Beres, Sara Bothe, Fangda Du, Kexian Li, Rinati Rokach, Sai Praseedha Uppalapati

    1-Year Screenwriting
    Marika Anna Lena Folkesson, Madhav Goyal, Islambek Kaliyekov, Thomas Ralf Kirschner, William Mellon, Gabriela Ono, Mercedes Shaw, Alejandra Toledano

    AFA Acting for Film
    Shuting Li, Kalen Blaine Massengill, Padge James Mattaliano,  Ryan A. Payne, Jarren Terrell Weaver

    BFA Acting for Film
    Nellie Bislamyan, Tullia Ferraro, Megan Elizabeth Galloway, Leonid V. Formaziuk, Kayla Greyling, Tyler Hampton, Lara Heine, Marina Kofman, Xinyao Huang, Dannae Hunter, Cody Mango, Allyson Ledford, Ju Li, Ruiqi Liu, Alexandra Victoria Moreno-Banovich, Laura Pannier, Megan Perreault, Sara Sedran, Haoning Yang, Nestor Jairo Sierra, Shelby Sporl, Alexandra Stepanova, Yunxi Zhang, Alexandra Maria Roth-Rosenthal, Joshua Samuel Flashman, Farida Mohamed Abdel Meguid Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Ahsan Siddiqui,

    BFA Filmmaking
    Matthew DiGiaimo, Friedrich Frauendorf, Leandro Gualdi Farina, Shiyin Nan, Ainur Abilkaiyr, Joshua Adeyeye, Selbi Jumayeva, Ting Jiang, Anton Kristensen, Natalie Pluto, Gabriel Ramirez, Avery Stanislaw, Hyejin Sunwoo, Torey Thompson, Nicolo Azzaro,  Brett Cameron Belanger, Dexter Brown, Yili Cai, Ricardo Castillo, Shuqin Chen, Iván Colón Arroyo, Drake Dalgleish, Linyi Lan, Destinee Easley, Alexander K. Figueroa Hooper, Elisa Fowler, Carol-Lyn Garcia,  Jaquelin Garza, Maria Valentina Gomez, Brian Grobmeier, Sohail Sanjeev Grover, Praveen Gunasekaran, Sean Hale, Yuduan He, Walter Hermosa Jr., Haowen Hsu, Hei Long Hung, Jin Jia, Roujun Lu, Kristina Kim, Brendan Kimmet, Brendan Miske, Jihyeon Lee, Kaiyi Niu, Yuen Yan Leung, Jordan Lewin, Ashton Arthur Shemet, Javier Lopez, Yutong Zhu, Bin Luo, William Giminaro, Saumya Mohta, Valeriya Mashynets, Seojin Park, Dominique Pembleton, Bryce Powell, Mia Redwine, Pablo Sanchez, Wiktoria, Wozniak, Rui Yao, Zizhao Yu, Yue Yu, Changyi Yu, Yunfei Zhou

    BFA Screenwriting
    Jonathan Cribas, Andria Dawson, Sharon Lovell, Douglas Rich, Lana van Beek

    BFA Game Design
    Jason Khoury, Perry Sharp

    BFA Photography
    Onyenaturuchi Joeann Ogbonnaya

    MFA Animation
    Kaiyuan Zhou

    MFA Cinematography
    Zijian Han, Zixun  Jin, Zhuangzi Liu, Jiayi Sun, Darko Mohammed, Mayur Patankar, Nishanth Shri Shiva Prabakaran, Yaxu  Xing, Mervyn Titus, Oskar Urbaniak, Juan Valencia IV, Meng Zhang

    MA Film and Media Production
    Ruijing Chen, Harsh Bhatia, Byrrh Barry Lovon Bryant, Xinqi Guo, Joseph Deeks, Tian Lan, Siyu Song, Sneha Sunil Menon, Jingnan Yang, Imani Williams-Sparks, Jing-Hsuan Wu, Hanxiao Zhang, Siming Zhu

    MA Producing
    Muyin Tang, Noemi Durivou, Katchusca Gonzales Lopes, Xuejiao (Scorpio) Liu, Valeriia Nikulina, Ramona Pojoga, Paphitchaya Suesat, Zhirui Wang, King Wong, Yiming Zhao

    MFA Documentary Filmmaking
    Kari McGuire, Khalila Yuniarto Suprapto

    MFA Filmmaking
    Jessica Ackerson, Eric Alt, Yufan Chai, Linzhou Dai, Wanxin Ding, Nanshan Guo, Mohamed Hammad, Xiaotian Hou, Tianqi Ji, Jason Jones, Shelby Jones, Kai Shiuan Lai, Songhuan Li,  Haocheng Li, Zhengda Lyu, Yuan Ma, LaDerrian Meredith, Jenny Mochahari, Amy Nigro, Maya Maria Riquelme Balmaceda, Meng Chan Sam, Yimeng Shao, Filippos Tsapekis, Guan Chen Wang, Yinyue Wang, Yuanhua Wang, Yukun Xing, Kunqi Yang, Yi Yang, Ainamkoz Yemzharova, Hengrui Zhang, Haoxian Zhu

    MFA Screenwriting
    Arthur Boiron, Kurt Devonshire, Selena Fitzgerald, Pierre Gilson, Katherine Gregory, Damilola Ketiku, Alexandra Talavera Mendez

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    September 17, 2020 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 65

  • NYFA Los Angeles Instructor Colette Freedman Works on Steve Aoki’s Highly Anticipated Mozart-Inspired Musical ‘Mozart²’

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    At New York Film Academy, our instructors are working industry professionals who are constantly creating and pushing the boundaries in their industries. For NYFA Los Angeles Playwright and Features instructor Colette Freedman, she is doing just that, having recently worked as the script doctor on Steve Aoki’s highly anticipated musical Mozart² and continuing her work as a writer and an actress.

    Freedman recalls jumping into her acting and writing career after experiencing an “ah-ha moment” in a theatre company while on a play reading committee. “I was reading a script and I realized ‘I can do better’.” 

    NYFA instructor Colette Freedman

    Freedman then wrote the First to the Egg, which won a slew of awards. She also wrote the play Sister Cities, which has been produced all over the world and made into a novel and a Netflix film adaption in which Freedman also acted alongside Michelle Trachtenberg and Troian Bellisario

    ‘Serial Killer Barbie’ (Written by Colette Freedman)

    Freedman’s favorite projects she’s written include her dark comedy Serial Killer Barbie with Nickella Moschetti and another recent project with Freedman’s writing partner, Brooke Purdy, called The Last Bookstore, which gained great critical acclaim and is even receiving some film interest. 

    For the highly anticipated Mozart², Freedman shares that the process was quite collaborative when working with Steve Aoki and the entire team to bring this story to the stage. We [Freedman and Tegan Summer] write the libretto and original songs alongside composer Gregory Nabours. Steve [Aoki] and his team would then select the EDM numbers that work best for the moments we define in the script, and then it comes together to green light, arrange, and orchestrate.”

    Playwrights, as Freedman, points out, are not just there at the beginning to write the story, but are involved in the life of the musical or play from beginning to end. “ [For Mozart²] We have an amazing design team for visuals and incredible choreographers in Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson with Ferly Prado,” she shares. “We steer the narrative, they steer the floor.”

    Poster for Steve Aoki’s ‘Mozart²’

    As for what she hopes audiences will get from her script and the musical overall, she hopes audiences will relate to lead character Nan and shine a light on not only her character, but “all of the women whose talent was silenced due to the patriarchy.”

    Broadway World recently announced some of the names of the talented cast, which includes: Ruby Lewis (Paramour) as Nan, Anthony Rapp (Rent, If/Then) as Salierii, and Justin Matthew Sargent (Rock of Ages, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark) as Mozart. The musical is expected to debut in 2021 at Carnegie Hall.

    In the meantime, Freedman has this to say to students and creatives:

    “Go make art. Especially in these times. Use your voice to create. Brooke and I have a YouTube channel Midlife Mutiny, which gives inspirational tidbits and encourages you to tell your stories and share your voice. Nan Mozart didn’t have the luxury of social media to get her voice out, but you do!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates instructor, actress, and writer Colette Freedman on her recent achievement with Mozart²  and encourages everyone to stay tuned for additional information about the musical and when it will be available to the public.

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    August 17, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Musical Theatre, Screenwriting • Views: 1282

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking Alum Drama del Rosario Awarded ‘Juried Prize’ in The 2020 PBS Short Film Festival

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    In late July, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario received one of the two awarded prizes for the 2020 PBS Short Film Festival. The documentary filmmaking alum caught the eye of voters and the prestigious Jury for the competition and ultimately received this years ‘Juried Prize’ for his film In This Family

    Del Rosario was awarded the prestigious prize by eight jury members, who selected the NYFA alum’s film as their favorite out of all the festival selections. In addition to del Rosario’s film, all festival selections are available to the public to watch online.

    ‘In This Family’ film poster

    Del Rosario is a Filipinx documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of the 2019 BAFTA-GSA Commissioning Grant for his documentary film, I’m Okay (And Neither Are You), which touches on sexual assault trauma from a gay couple’s perspective. The NYFA alum is known for creating documentary films that challenge the Filipinx Catholic background and he has worked with many international names including BeBe Zahara Benet (Winner, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 1) and Sophie Sumner (Winner, America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 18). 

    His latest documentary, In This Family, is a twelve minute short film that chronicles what happens after del Rosario’s teach outs him as a gay man and includes recordings of his family’s reaction to the news.

    “Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students,” shared del Rosario. “I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools.”

    Del Rosario also credits NYFA alum Naya Rivera, who tragically passed away in early July, as a source of inspiration for his short film. “In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character, Santana Lopez, was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera.”

    The NYFA alum also shares that this documentary is an important release in his native country as it is produced by Cinematografo, which is under the Filipino production company ABS-CBN International. “It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard!” His full statement can be found below.

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    WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!!!!!! 🎉🔥✨💕😭🎊⭐️🏆 My documentary film “IN THIS FAMILY” is officially the JURY WINNER for this year’s PBS Short Film Festival! This is so huge coming from a very, very stacked jury! 😱 Thank you so much to everyone who watched and voted for my documentary! Your support has been so overwhelming, and I am so moved by all the messages from queer youth, parents of queer children, and teachers of queer students. I hope this documentary moves us closer to helping the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and loved, especially within Asian families and schools. ❤️ Furthermore, showcasing this documentary at this particular time has been special to me for two reasons… 1️⃣ First, this documentary is executive produced by Cinematografo, which is under ABS-CBN International. As a lot of people know, ABS-CBN and Philippine media in general are not in a good place right now because of Philippine politics. It has been so humbling to have this documentary represent how important it is to keep Philippine media alive and growing! Our voices need to be heard! 2️⃣ Second, I am extremely touched by all the messages from Glee fans regarding the recent death of Naya Rivera. In the documentary, I reference various queer programs, Glee especially. Naya Rivera’s character Santana Lopez was one of the crucial queer characters that helped me and my family get to where we are now. It is a testament to how much queer entertainment can change the life of a family on the other side of the world. Rest in Power, Naya Rivera. ❤️ I am incredibly honored to receive this award. Thank you so much to CAAM (@caamedia and their superstar team @czarinagee, @akolaurenlola, @livinproofsf, @gracehwanglynch, @krakauer, @sushboy34 ++) for believing in my film as your official entry and for always supporting my career as a documentary filmmaker. Thank you so much to PBS (@pbs) for putting together an amazing film festival with an amazing film line-up and jury. And most of all, thank you so much to my family for continuing to change and grow. I would not be where I am right now had you not powered through the discomfort of growth and change. ALL MY LOVE! 🏆💕

    A post shared by Drama Del Rosario (@dramadelrosario) on

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Drama del Rosario for his latest achievement and looks forward to what is next from the talented filmmaker. 

    To watch the full documentary, view below or click here

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