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  • NYFA Produced Movie Musical “Streetwrite” Introduced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The Musical Theatre Conservatory at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) is one of the only musical theatre programs in the world that teaches both musical theatre for the stage and film.

    Blanche Baker

    Blanche Baker

    A recent prime example is “Streetwrite,” written and directed by Blanche Baker, an Emmy Award winning actress and Senior Faculty member of the New York Film Academy, and shot by Piero Basso, an award-winning Director of Photography. The film was fully funded by NYFA, with an international cast of talented Musical Theatre students working alongside NYFA’s faculty and staff of professional artists.

    This Feb. 14, 2017, “Streetwrite” was introduced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Bonnie Sacerdote Lecture Hall. The introduction included a screening of the trailer, followed by a 20-minute performance work by Artists Fighting Fascism: Rebecca Goyette, Brian Andrew Whiteley and Kenya (Robinson).

    Opening remarks were given by International Institute for Conservation (IIC) Council Member, Amber Kerr and introductions by Moderator, Rebecca Rushfield. IIC is an independent international organization supported by individual and institutional members. It serves as a forum for communication among professionals with responsibility for the preservation of cultural heritage. It advances knowledge, practice and standards for the conservation of historic and artistic works through its publications and conferences. It promotes professional excellence and public awareness through its awards and scholarships.

    “We were thrilled that the New York Film Academy and Blanche Baker allowed the International Institute for Conservation to open its Feb. 14, 2017 colloquium, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a showing of the trailer for the NYFA Musical Theater film ‘Streetwrite,’ said Rebecca Rushfield, IIC Conference Organizer. “With an explosion of sound, movement, and color, “Streetwrite” set the context for the discussion that followed, demonstrating how art is created as an expression of protest or outrage.”

    blanche at the met

    Political graffiti has a long history dating back to the walls of Ancient Rome. It represents an alternative means of expression that gives voice to the issues and concerns of the common people. This tradition of free expression forms the basis of “Streetwrite,” a movie musical that asks the question, “How can speech be free if only those who pay can speak?”

    Using street art as a focal point, the film examines the various ways people struggle to express themselves in situations where free speech is curtailed or suppressed. It also explores how certain kinds of expression can be repressive to individuals.

    “Streetwrite’ will have its public world-premiere at The Cutting Room (44 East 32nd Street, NYC 10016) on Sunday, March 12th from 2pm-4pm. It will also have its East Coast Premiere at The Queens World Film Festival on Sunday, Mar. 19 in the Zukor Theatre at Kaufman Astoria Studios. The film has also been accepted to screen at Cinémonde, a private film series at the Roger Smith Hotel in NYC.

    February 20, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 1805

  • NYFA Instructor James Lecesne to Premiere “The Mother of Invention”

    mother of inventionAbingdon Theatre Company presents the world premiere of “The Mother of Invention,” a new play by New York Film Academy Documentary Story instructor James Lecesne, who is an Academy Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award-winner. Ranked by the NY Times as “among of the most talented solo performers of his (or any) generation,” Lecesne has shared the screen with Robert Downey Jr., Ian McKellan, Claire Danes, Holly Hunter, the Sex in the City cast, Anne Bancroft, and many others. He has also shared the stage with Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones, and many others.

    Performances are set to begin January 28, prior to an official press opening on February 9, at The Abingdon’s Theatre (312 West 36th Street). Artistic Director Tony Speciale, who also directed “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” is set to direct.

    When Dottie Nerber’s son and daughter arrive to pack up the contents of their mother’s Florida home, their conflicting memories of her collide. As the siblings unpack family secrets, they must separate fact from fiction and are forced to question the narratives of their own lives. James Lecesne’s new full-length play is an unflinching and comedic look at how one family deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s. It asks why we tell the stories we do about the people we love, and how we live with those stories after they’ve been debunked.

    Concetta Tomei, best known for her roles on TV’s “China Beach” and “Providence” and on stage in “The Elephant Man” (opposite David Bowie) and Sarah Ruhl’s “The Clean House,” leads the cast as Dottie Nerber.

    Joining Ms. Tomei are James Davis (Broadway revival of “The House of Blue Leaves,” Soho Rep’s “We Are Proud to Present…”), Dan Domingues (INTAR’s “Locusts Have No Kings,” The Civilian’s “The Great Immensity” at The Public), Angela Reed (Broadway’s “The Country Girl” and “The Rainmaker,” and national tours of “War Horse” and “Spring Awakenin”g), Isabella Russo (Broadway’s “School of Rock”), and Dale Soules (“Orange is the New Black,” Broadway’s “Hands on a Hard Body” and “Grey Gardens”).

    The creative team includes Jo Winiarski (Scenic Design), Daisy Long (Lighting Design), Paul Marlow (Costume Design), Christian Frederickson (Sound Design), and Jerry Marsini (Props Design). Deidre Works is Production Stage Manager.

    “The Mother of Invention” runs January 28-February 26: Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7:30PM; plus matinees Saturdays at 2:30PM and Sundays at 2:00PM (with the following exceptions, no matinees January 28-29) at Abingdon Theatre Company’s June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues).

    For tickets, visit abingdontheatre.org or call 212-352-3101.

    Use code Mother35 for $35 discount tickets during previews* (Jan 28 – Feb 8).

    January 26, 2017 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights • Views: 969

  • NYFA LA Instructor’s “The Rachels” to Air on Lifetime Movie Network

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    Filming the dramatic finale on a rooftop in Marina Del Rey, CA.

    Many of our instructors are working professionals outside of the classroom. New York Film Academy instructor Mike Civille’s feature film thriller “The Rachels,” which he directed in the summer of 2016, just sold to Lifetime and will air on the Lifetime Movie Network on Jan. 15, 2017.

    Civille was also recently published in the Fall 2016 issue of “Cinema Journal” (one of the top peer reviewed academic journals in the field) with his article “Ain’t Got No Chance”: The case of the Breaking Point (1950).”

    His upcoming film, “The Rachels,” is about the teen queens of Hills High School. When one of them suddenly dies, the other basks in the glow of the social media attention, until a former friend begins to unwind the tangled threads of the mysterious death.

    We had a chance to talk to Civille before his movie airs on Jan. 15th.

    How did you become involved with this project?

    They say there’s always a bit of luck involved — in my case I’m happily married to a very successful development and production executive: my wife Hannah Pillemer is Senior VP at MarVista Entertainment. She and I had been speaking for some time about collaborating on a film, but we had not been able to coordinate our schedules over the last couple of years. Finally, this project came up, the timing was right, I loved the script, and Hannah hired me to direct it for MarVista. We met with the writer, Ellen Huggins, to hash out some ideas in the spring, and then in the summer I took two months off from NYFA as we went into preproduction and filming.

    Was there any particular element of the story / premise that made you want to direct?

    I had taken time away from directing to earn my PhD, but I eagerly dove back into it with this project. I loved that it was a commentary on celebrity culture, and how far people are willing to go to become recognized and remain well known. This is something I actually studied for my PhD, so I loved being able to weave some of my previous research into the story. I also valued the ability to use the camera and production design to show the difference between a person’s filtered social presentation and the real (sometimes fiendish) selves that they try to keep hidden. This idea of perception versus reality really fascinated me, and how we all craft our own version of ourselves and the events in our lives. The movie suggests that truth can be slippery, and things are not always what they appear to be.

    civille

    Still from the film of Rachel Richards (Caitlin Carver) and Roxie (Daniela Bobadilla)

    It’s hard to not notice a similarity in the logline to the film “Heathers.” Was there any inspiration from that film?

    Any high school movie featuring characters with the same name who are fixated on their own popularity has to pay some debt to “Heathers.” I love the tone of “Heathers,” and we tried to instill some of the same feeling into this film, with a little of the same bite. At the same time, it was also important for me to understand and even like these characters to avoid making them one dimensional and shallow. So I worked with the actors to bring some humanity to their performances — they all hurt, they all feel, they all desire validation. So while they might sometimes stray down the wrong path or lash out, there’s something tragic about the ways they are trying to keep up with each other and the world around then. I think it was important to add that layer to our film, which wasn’t a straight satirical comedy like “Heathers.” Instead, we called it a “mischievous thriller” — a self-conscious film about a celebrity that has fun while also providing traditional elements of drama and excitement along the way. Other films that inspired us thematically were “To Die Fo”r (1995), “Sunset Blvd.” (1950), “Virgin Suicides” (1999), and “Mulholland Drive” (2001), with a little dash of “The Conversation” (1974) and “Rashomon” (1950) thrown in.

    How did Lifetime come about? Was this a project you sold to Lifetime prior to production or rather did you sell the finished film to the network?

    The project was produced without a distribution deal, so I was excited to hear that MarVista recently sold it to Lifetime. They have sold other projects to Lifetime, so there’s a relationship there, but there was no guarantee from the beginning. I was proud that the film sold, because it told me that others see value there, it confirmed MarVista’s faith in me, and it validated my wife’s decision to hire her husband!

    Directing actress Caitlin Carver.

    Mike Civille directing actress Caitlin Carver.

    Did you learn anything while directing this film that you would like to share with your students?

    This was my first time as a “director for hire,” so this was the first time I had to passionately push for certain creative decisions. I had produced previous projects, so I always only had to convince myself. But this was the first time I had to present my ideas to producers and argue for why it should be that way (and not the less expensive way!). Of course, you have to pick your battles, but there were a handful of things I really wanted for the movie, so I had to prepare notes and sketches and descriptions and film clips to show how and why it could work. It reminded me that you have to be energetic and determined in your vision — you don’t yell at people to get your way, but rather you thoroughly present your case to convince them. And at the end of the day, we were able to accomplish a lot, including the most elaborate and dangerous stunt in MarVista history. There’s no such thing as too much preparation, and if you don’t have a vision for how you see it, people are not going to buy it.

    I also was reminded that motivating a cast and crew comes from the top. Early on, DP Michael Pessah, AD Karim Nabil, and I decided that we were going to have fun and keep people motivated by making every day, every shot a fun experience — no matter the hot temperatures, an intense shooting schedule, and several complicated setups. Of course we had stressful moments, but mostly we had fun and the crew appreciated that we were enjoying the process so much. I respected the cast and crew so much, and I decided not to be a director working in a bubble and only talking to actors and the DP. Instead I got to know everyone, and thanked them by shaking everyone’s hand at the end of every shooting day. I wanted to let everyone from the DP to each PA know that I appreciated their effort and what we accomplished. At the end of the shoot, many of the cast and crew remarked that they would do another project with us at any time because they had so much fun and appreciated our gratitude. I’m really proud of that.

    Still from the film of Rachel Richards (Caitlin Carver) and Rachel Nelson (Madison Iseman).

    Still from the film of Rachel Richards (Caitlin Carver) and Rachel Nelson (Madison Iseman).

    Can you tell us about the stunt that you were able to pull off?

    We filmed a dangerous stunt in which we dangled an actress off the roof of a building seven stories up. Our incredible stunt coordinator Tim Mikulecky helped design and achieve this stunt with steel cables — he was such a pro and always looking for how to do the stunt effectively and safely. I’ll never forget standing on the roof during the location scout, and looking over the side with Tim, and he says, “You know, we could actually hang her off of here pretty easily…as long as she’ll go for it.” So when I asked the actress, she said, “Sure, sounds like fun! It will help my performance!” It was by far the most stressful night of the shoot because if anything went wrong, it could be disastrous. But it all went great — thanks to a lot of detailed prep and Tim’s expertise.

    Were there any of crew members from NYFA?

    One of the background performers was former NYFA BFA Acting student Giullianna Martinez. She was a student in my American Cultural History class and it was great to see her on set! Because I knew her, I was able to get her more prominent placements onscreen.

    The DP Michael Pessah used to be the Chair of the Cinematography department at NYFA’s LA campus. I’ve known Michael for 15 years, and he introduced me to the folks at NYFA LA when I moved out to LA. He’s an incredibly talented cinematographer and a joy to work with. His crew respects him so much that they would run through a brick wall for him. Bringing that kind of loyalty with him on set was vital for us to achieve a stylish film in a short production window.

    Finally, I could not have done this film without the support of NYFA administrators Jean Sherlock, Dan Mackler, Sonny Calderon, and Mary Samuelson, plus the valuable input I got from our instructors, who always made themselves available for tips and advice.

    I’m hoping to have Michael, lead actress Caitlin Carver, and producer Rebecca Stone join me for a screening and Q&A at NYFA on February 13!

    January 5, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 3172

  • Film Critic Peter Rainer to Teach at NYFA Los Angeles

    Part of what makes up a successful filmmaker is a having a vast knowledge of cinema history. Look no further than Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, who are both well known for having an encyclopedic memory of films over the last century.

    peter rainer

    Peter Rainer with NYFA President Michael Young

    Given the importance of film and cinema studies, the New York Film Academy is delighted to welcome its newest faculty member, Peter Rainer, who has thirty years of professional experience as a film critic. “There is still nothing like seeing a movie in a theater on a big screen and being awed by the whole experience — that communal feeling,” says Rainer.

    Rainer is currently the film critic for the Christian Science Monitor, a columnist for Bloomberg News, the president of the National Society of Film Critics, and a regular reviewer for FilmWeek on NPR. He’s also written for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles magazine, New York magazine, and New Times Los Angeles, where he was a finalist in 1998 for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. He is also a three-time winner of the Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award for best online film critic.

    The first film Rainer reviewed professionally was “Chinatown,” which is considered a must-see for any aspiring screenwriter or director.

    “I really had this jones to be a critic ever since my dad gave me this book called ‘Agee on Film: Criticism and Comment on the Movies,'” says Rainer. “I learned you could be a real writer and still be a critic.”There is still nothing like seeing a movie in a theatre on a big screen and being awed by the whole experience, that communal feeling.

    rainer and calderon

    NYFA Dean of the College Sonny Calderon with Peter Rainer

    Beginning this spring, Rainer will begin teaching a special topics seminar at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, which will consist of eight courses. His love for Robert Altman’s career will be an integral part of his course as he intends to screen and discuss much of his work.

    In addition to his seminars, Rainer has been a guest speaker at NYFA LA and intends on speaking at its New York campus in 2017.

    January 4, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1518

  • NYFA LA Faculty and Staff Holiday Party

    This past week the faculty and staff at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus held their annual holiday party with the theme of “Casino Night.” The gambling may have been pretending, but the fun was real. A photo booth, crap tables, and an ugly sweater contest were the highlights of the evening.
    holiday cheer

    Copious amounts of food including cakes and fruit lined an entire wall of the Burbank Studio. A dance floor complete with DJ kept happy feet busy all evening. The photo booth even had a gif-making feature.

    gifnyfa la partynyfa la partynyfa la gif

    “It is always nice to put on your ugly sweater and get to know the people you work with outside of a working environment,” said NYFA LA Marketing staff member Ekaterina Terekhovich. “We danced, we laughed, we got to have a fun time. I met new and interesting people from departments I don’t interact with on a regular basis. I think we should get together more often!”

    The ugly sweater contest was a huge success with many members participating. The winners were:

    1st Place – Christina Tchamkertenian (Human Resources)

    2nd Place – Travis Holder (Acting)

    3rd Place – Anthony Cook (Cine Dept. Faculty and Coordinator)

    A huge thanks is owed to the Animation Department for creating gifs of party attendees. The New York Film Academy would also like to thank all faculty and staff who made this party possible, and wish a happy holiday to all.

    December 23, 2016 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1684

  • NYFA Improv Instructor Bill Watterson to Premiere “Dave Made a Maze” at Slamdance 2017

    New York Film Academy Improv instructor Bill Watterson’s directorial debut film, “Dave Made a Maze,” was recently highlighted in Variety as a ‘notable title’ in competition at Slamdance 2017. The festival, which launched in 1995 as an alternative to Sundance, has included showings of such notable titles as Oren Peli’s “Paranormal Activity.” The fest, which takes place at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, will screen 19 movies: 12 world premieres, three North American debuts, and one U.S. launch. Slamdance alumni include Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess, Lena Dunham, Benh Zeitlin, Seth Gordon, and Lynn Shelton.

    bill watterson

    Watterson also has a series of web shorts that he wrote and directed, which led to a TV deal with Brandio Entertainment. As an actor, he performed motion capture and voice over for the video games “LA Noire” and “Lost Planet 3”; appeared in the films “Ouija,” “Jenny’s Wedding,” and Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys”; and TV credits include “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” “The Soul Man,” and “The Young & The Restless.”

    We had a chat with the director and instructor before his upcoming January premiere at Slamdance.

    Congrats on being accepted to Slamdance! Can you tell me what “Dave Made a Maze” is all about?

    “Dave Made a Maze” re-imagines classic 80’s adventure films with a modern comedic edge and a higher body count. Dave, a frustrated artist, gets lost inside the cardboard fort he builds in his living room, and his girlfriend Annie must lead a band of oddball explorers on a rescue mission. The handmade fantasy world features the in-camera effects of puppetry, stop motion animation, and optical illusions.

    How did the film come about?

    A friend of mine from Second City started writing a whacked out script based on an anecdote I’d told him about my mother coming home and panicking that I had gotten lost in a pillow fort I’d made in my bedroom, even though I’d followed protocol and left a note saying I was having dinner at my friend John Richards’ house. She tore the fort apart looking for me. Steve had 60 pages by the next day. Eventually we zeroed in on the themes and started working together to finish the script.

    How were you able to raise funds for the production?

    We got some great talent attachments early on, drawing on contacts at Second City and work we’d done as actors. Some of our production design team came from “Robot Chicken,” and since the handmade look and animations in the film were so important, that caught a lot of investors’ eyes. The film is entirely independently financed.


    Will we be seeing you on screen as well in this film?

    I have a very brief cameo as a still photo on a keyboard box. It was such an ambitious film and we had so little time to prep and even less to shoot. It felt irresponsible to focus on anything other than directing.

    As an improv teacher, what sort of advice or direction did you give your actors?

    It’s always good to be in touch with your instincts, to respond honestly to the things happening before you, to be quick on your feet, and to ask yourself and your actors ‘what if?’ Those are foundational improv skills that also apply to directing. I definitely let the actors play around with dialogue to make sure they were comfortable and felt safe and supported, and because they’re all so gifted comedically. But we had a lot to get done, so I had to be careful not to let the train get off the tracks.

    Bill & Meera

    What do you hope to achieve at Slamdance? Are you looking for a distributor?

    Right now, we’re meeting with sales agents to help us find a distributor at the festival. It’s an honor to be there, and we want to be sure to capitalize on the opportunity. We made a very strange movie, and I’m hoping to find like-minded people in Park City who enjoy the silliness and heart of the film.

    What advice can you give to filmmakers looking to direct their first feature?

    Take all your successful director friends out to lunch and pick their brains. Shadow them on one of their projects if they’ll have you, and take lots of notes. Ask your editor what they hate about directors they’ve worked with in the past, and what mistakes to avoid on set.

    Read Sidney Lumet’s “Making Movies” and know your movie’s theme in and out, and filter all your decisions through that. Everybody wants to direct the movie; keep a small council, and defer to the best idea, whether it was yours or not. Know that the movie you shot will be different from the movie you edit; don’t fight it. Be grateful to the people who are working their butts off to bring your project to life. You cannot get anywhere without them.

    Anything else you’re working on now or in the near future that you’d like to share?

    I just walked out of a pretty huge meeting that I don’t want to jinx. I shot a series of shorts with a puppet that I’m almost ready to share, and I’m dusting off other pitches to have a better answer to this question come festival time!

    December 2, 2016 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 2085

  • Ralph Gibson, Chair of NYFA’s Department of Contemporary Photography, Opens Major Exhibition in Paris

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    Renowned American Photographer Andres Serrano and Ralph Gibson, Paris 2016

    Recently, the renowned photographer, and NYFA’s Chair of the Department of Contemporary Photography, Ralph Gibson, opened a major photography exhibition at the prominent Galerie Thierry Bigaignon in Paris.

    The famous American photographer exhibited a new series of large-format color photographs entitled Vertical Horizon. Gibson, best known for his black & white monochrome images of the human form, has also often explored architectural elements in his works. The works in this exhibition evolved from the time that Gibson began doing color digital photography some years back.

    As the gallerist Thierry Bigaignon states, “Ralph Gibson’s images highlight the idea of boundaries and opposition. They’re visual oxymorons, so we decided to title the exhibition Vertical Horizon, which perfectly encapsulates these concepts.”

    gibson and clark

    Ralph Gibson and Larry Clark, filmmaker and photographer, at the opening of L’ Histoire de France at the Hotel Scribe, Paris. Nov -4, 2016

    Gill Mora, one of the world’s most important art critics and historian of American photography, recently commented on Gibson’s new photography series, “Ralph Gibson is without doubt the most European of American photographers, and knows our culture perfectly. His mastery of composition, halfway between graphic artwork and abstraction, has never precluded the sensuality that is the particular trademark of his photographs. It is time to rediscover Ralph Gibson.”

    At 77, Ralph Gibson is as active as ever — both in his studio and at the New York Film Academy. In addition to lecturing to NYFA students, Gibson also takes on a mentoring role to students as part of a unique mentorship program that NYFA established for long-term photography students.

    November 17, 2016 • Faculty Highlights, Photography • Views: 1152

  • NYFA Films Special Veterans Day Message with Col. Jacobs and DVS Commissioner, Brigadier General (ret.) Loree Sutton

    Members of New York City Department of Veteran Services (DVS), including the DVS Commissioner, Brigadier General (ret.) Loree Sutton, gathered at the New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) state-of-the-art facilities at 17 Battery Park to film a special Veterans Day message to salute, and thank those veterans who have served in our Armed Forces. The message marks the first official Veterans Day message from the City of New York’s newly created Department of Veterans Services.

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    Colonel Jack Jacobs chats with NYFA veteran student, Joshua Flashman, in between takes.

    Commissioner Sutton was joined by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and Chair of the New York Film Academy’s Veterans Advancement Program (VAP) to send a message to both New York City veterans and the civilians who support them. They both spoke about how important the NYC community is to veterans, and how the strengths of the City’s nearly 250,000 veterans adds tremendous value to the NYC communities. Both retired servicemembers asked that— on this 2016 Veterans Day— citizens do more than simply thank veterans for their service, but also to let veterans know what a powerful asset they are as they continue to make invaluable contributions to making this the greatest city— in the greatest country— on earth.

    “There’s nobody more creative than veterans,” said Col. Jacobs. “They’re the one’s who bring life experience and creativity to a profession that requires both of those attributes.”

    “To see these students working at the New York Film Academy is really a thrill and an affirmation of the strengths we know our veterans have,” added Brigadier General, Sutton.

    jacobs and sutton

    NYC Department of Veteran Services Commissioner, Loree Sutton Brigadier General (ret.) and Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and Chair of the NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program (VAP) during taping of the 2016 Veterans’ Day Message.

    “It means a lot to know we’re appreciated in our community,” said NYFA Acting for Film student and veteran, Labrena Ware.

    “It feels great to have a sense of brotherhood,” added NYFA student and veteran, Pavlos Plakakis, who found his acting calling in the military after being told he had a talent for boosting morale amongst the troops.

    Veterans from nearly all branches of service had the opportunity to meet and speak with Commissioner Sutton and Colonel Jacobs during the filming. Those in attendance reflected about the diversity and spirit of the “Big Apple,” and also symbolized the passing of the torch from one generation of American service members to the next.

    November 9, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1321

  • NYFA Instructor’s “Porgies & Bass” Wins Best Short at Coney Island Film Festival

    porgies and bassNew York Film Academy Filmmaking instructor Thomas Barnes’ latest short film, “Porgies & Bass,” recently won Best Short Film at the Coney Island Film Festival and will be screening at the Big Apple Film Festival, which will take place at the Village East Cinema in Manhattan on Friday, November 4th at 8:30pm.

    The film was co produced by NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo, and the crew featured numerous NYFA alumni and teacher’s assistants.

    The story surrounds Ben, a native fisherman on Long Island, New York, fishing for the prized large striped bass. Meanwhile, Jorge, a Latino immigrant catches porgies, a more common and smaller size fish. What starts out as a beautiful day on the beach turns into a skirmish over territory, and finally erupts in an unforgettable manner.

    We had a chance to speak with the director and NYFA instructor, Thomas Barnes, before his upcoming screening at the Big Apple Film Festival.

    What are some of the themes we can take from your film?

    With all the talk of building walls to keep people out and fears of outsiders stoked by politicians, this film explores social and racial tensions via a tense fishing story. Hopefully, the film transcends political sloganeering to get to a more complex view of people and their struggles to coexist.

    Thomas Barnes

    Thomas Barnes directing his actor on the set of “Porgies and Bass.”

    How did this film come about? 

    The story was devised after several years of fishing on beaches in Long Island, meeting men like the characters in the story, and imagining what would happen in a tense conflict between them. With script in hand in summer 2015, I invited NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo to come on board as he is an experienced Long Island producer where the film was to be shot.

    I raised the money for production privately and then successfully crowd-sourced the funds for post production via Indiegogo.

    What was the most challenging aspect of the production?

    The changing weather, tides, ocean conditions and light were all challenges. Shooting totally out of sequence and keeping on top of continuity was a headache.

    Also, working in the water with actors, props and camera made for some very tricky set-ups.

    porgies and bass

    Can you tell me the students and alumni involved with the production? 

    Co- Producer Richard D’Angelo helped to hire the following alumni:

    • Production Designer: Roxy Martinez
    • Associate Producer: Jolene Mendes
    • Assistant Director: Attapol Worrawuttaweekul
    • Production Coordinator: Francesca Morello
    • Key Grip: Mateo Salcedo Cancino
    • Gaffer: Miguel Garzon Martinez
    • Editor: Ross Vedder – works with NYFA Editing Dept. I met him through NYFA instructor Lanre Olabisi.

    What do you hope to achieve with this film and its screening at the Big Apple Film Festival?

    It’s a competitive awards festival, so I hope to earn the votes of our supporters in the audience!

    Are there any other screenings or festivals coming up where we can see the film?

    To be confirmed. It just screened at Woodstock Film Festival last week.

    November 1, 2016 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1239

  • NYFA South Beach Sponsors Miami Web Fest & Vet Fest

    juan duenas

    New York Film Academy Veteran Services Coordinator, Juan Duenas on the red carpet at the Miami Vet Fest.

    The South Beach, Miami campus of the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) was a key sponsor of the 3rd Annual Miami Web Festival, and Miami VET Festival, which were simultaneously held recently in the “Magic City.”

    The Miami Web Fest is a four-day event showcasing the hottest new web series content from around the world. The festival is designed to create a work-play environment, attracting Miami’s vast and multicultural community of arts enthusiasts.

    During the Miami Web Fest, NYFA Filmmaking instructor Herschel Faber taught an exclusive Master Class for interested filmmakers. The workshop provided an overview of the importance of the screenplay, tips and tricks for making filmmaking dollars go further, shot framing, cinematography, and working with talent. The session provided a great overview of filmmaking with a concentration on utilizing storytelling in a visual and dynamic way. Professor Faber, who teaches Filmmaking at NYFA South Beach, brought a wealth of experience as he has spent the last 16 years working as a writer, director and producer of film and TV.

    The event also featured the VET Fest, which is a division of the Miami Web Fest designed to showcase films and web series with military themes or films created by military filmmakers. Bryan Thompson, a US Army Veteran and award-winning filmmaker created the VET Fest. Veteran filmmakers from across the country met at the event to showcase their films. As part of the support of the Vet Fest, NYFA’s Veteran Service Division provided a Filmmaking Program Scholarship, which was awarded to the veteran who was selected in the category of the “Best Film in the Festival.” The winner has the opportunity to use the scholarship at any of NYFAs domestic campuses.

    New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts, and the NYFA Veterans Service Division, are proud supporters of the Miami Web Fest and the VET Fest, which brought together hundreds of aspiring filmmakers including many service members.

    For more information on NYFA’s South Beach campus, please see miami.nyfa.edu.

    October 21, 2016 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1465