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  • Off-Broadway Show by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Instructor James Lecesne Available on Audible

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    The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, the Off-Broadway show by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Filmmaking Instructor, is now available to listen to on Audible, Amazon’s audiobook platform.

    Both written and performed by Lecesne, the story unravels around Leonard Pelkey, a tenaciously optimistic and flamboyant 14-year-old boy who goes missing from a small town on the Jersey Shore. Leonard becomes an unexpected inspiration to the townsfolk, who begin to question how they live, who they love, and what they leave behind. Sound design for the production was done by Christian Frederickson, with original music by Duncan Sheik.

    The New York Times says that The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey will “leave you beaming with joy … a superlative solo show … Mr. Lecesne is a writer of wit and keen observational skills, who here unfolds a dark tale that shimmers with the needling suspense you associate with the best police procedurals.”

    Much of Lecesne’s work focuses on LGBTQIA+ themes, including his screenplay for the Academy-Award winning short, Trevor. That film directly led to his founding of The Trevor Project, an American non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Lecesne also wrote for Further Tales if the City, Will and Grace, and Vicious, starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi.

    The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey by NYFA Documentary Filmmaking instructor James Lecesne can be found on Audible here. New York Film Academy encourages the NYFA community to check it out today!

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  • New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Filmmaking Instructors Keep Busy Outside of Class

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) prides itself on its faculty of professionals working in the film and television industry, who then pass on their first-hand knowledge and experience to their students.

    Here’s a look at some of the latest projects from NYFA-Los Angeles filmmaking instructors:

    Steve Morris
    Steve Morris has been making The Cine-Files Podcast since 2016. Each week, The Cine-Files takes deep a dive into a single great film, exploring its themes, history, filmmaking, and the influence it has on us today. Its goal is to explore films from every era and every genre. 

    So far, Morris and his podcast has tackled over 100 films and explored everything from Citizen Kane and Lawrence of Arabia to The Big Lebowski, Star Wars, Fight Club and Ken Burns’ Civil War. 

    With approximately 20,000 downloads a week, The Cine-Files is a must listen for any serious film fan. The podcast is available on iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Sticher, and Spotify.

    Mark Sawicki
    Cinematography instructor Mark Sawicki played the role of Sultan Karim in the latest Asylum film Adventures of Aladdin, directed by Emmy-winning VFX Artist Glenn Campbell. Campbell is a previous NYFA guest speaker; Sawicki held a Q&A with him and interviewed him about the Sharknado franchise.

    Sawicki also did do a project for Disney as technical director, with Sofia Carson, utilizing the latest technology in motion capture and live compositing with game engines. Sawicki is hoping this exposure will lead to new opportunities for teaching current technology and practice in VRARMR.

     

    David Martin-Porras
    David’s most recent feature (Chain of Death) opened on July 19 at the Laemmle Music Hall and will be released shortly on home release and video on demand. The cast includes NYFA alum Nicolás Montesinos; NYFA alum Pablo Gómez Castro served as 1st assistant director. The screenplay was co-written by Martin-Porras and NYFA instructor Andrés Rosende.

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    July 30, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 318

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography Instructor Suki Medencevic Interviewed By ‘American Cinematographer’

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    Professional director of photography and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography instructor Suki Medencevic, ASC, ASBiH, SAS was recently profiled by American Cinematographer magazine.

    In 2010, Medencevic joined the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), the cultural, educational, and professional organization founded in Hollywood in 1919 to bring together professional cinematographers for advancements and advocation of the medium. In 1920 the ASC founded the magazine publication American Cinematographer, which focuses on art and cinematography and in its first 100 years has evolved to cover everything from foreign films to music videos. In their June 2019 issue, American Cinematographer showcased Medencevic in its Close-Up feature, interviewing him in a comprehensive Q&A format.

    Medencevic has worked steadily in the film industry since his first feature film job in 1994, both shooting and working in the camera department for numerous features, television shows, commercials, made-for-TV films, and documentaries. While still working professionally, he currently teaches cinematography students at New York Film Academy’s Burbank-based campus.

    Medencevic’s colleagues in NYFA’s cinematography department are thrilled to see ASC profile the talented artist, and weren’t at all surprised he was chosen for their Close-Up feature.

    Suki Medencevic
    “Suki is incredibly versatile as an instructor,” says Mike Williamson, Associate Chair of Cinematography at NYFA-Los Angeles. “He brings a high level of technical sophistication to the program, no doubt informed by his role as a member of the ASC Technology Committee. Recently he’s helped us develop the curriculum and integrate new material into some of our lighting classes.”

    Williamson adds, “Suki has a strong connection with his students, and we’re pleased to have him as a member of our faculty.”

    The Q&A in American Cinematographer covered several topics. Medencevic spoke about first studying the art form in Belgrade, Serbia from renowned European cinematographers, before delving into his transition to working professionally in the American film industry.

    Additionally, Medencevic cites Jaroslav Kučera, Vittorio Storaro, Chivo, and Roger Deakins as his favorite cinematographers, and the films Apocalypse Now and Enter the Dragon as two films that made strong impressions on him as a child. He also relayed some advice he once received from another professional cinematographer: “‘If you want to be a cinematographer, don’t waste your time doing anything else.’”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Cinematography instructor Suki Medencevic on his recent profile in American Cinematographer Magazine and encourages everyone to read the full interview here.

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    July 22, 2019 • Cinematography, Faculty Highlights • Views: 506

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Earns Several Emmy Award Nominations

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was excited once again to see the NYFA Community represented in this year’s nominations for the 71st Emmy Awards. The awards ceremony will be aired live on Sunday, September 22.

    HBO leads the nominations with a jaw-dropping 137 nods, while Netflix follows not far behind with an impressive 117 total nominations. 

    Zeitgeist television epic Game of Thrones helped HBO with many of those nominations, receiving a total of 32 altogether. One of those nominations includes for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for the penultimate episode, “The Bells.” Alexandra LoRusso, an alum of NYFA’s 1-year 3D Animation & Visual Effects conservatory, worked on the visual effects for that episode and the Game of Thrones finale, “The Iron Throne.”

    Bill Hader

    Dark comedy Barry was another HBO show that made an impressive showing, with a total of 17 nominations. The series was co-created by and stars New York Film Academy alum Bill Hader, who spoke with students earlier this year. Hader was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, which he won the Emmy for last year. He also received nominations this year for
    both Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

    Competing in the same category with Barry for Outstanding Comedy Series is Netflix breakout hit Russian Doll, starring Natasha Lyonne. The show also picked up a nod for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour). NYFA Cinematography alum Rebecca Rajadnya served as first assistant camera on the cinematography team for Russian Doll.

    Also nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) was HBO comedy Insecure, starring and created by NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae.

    The Documentary categories also had nods for the NYFA community. Both Free Solo and RBG were nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program. RBG was shot by NYFA Documentary Department cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke. Free Solo was edited by NYFA editing instructor Bob Eisenhardt, ACE. Eisenhardt, who won an Eddie Award for his work on the film, is also nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program.

    Additionally, the Netflix documentaries Fyre and Our Planet were nominated in the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series category; NYFA 1-year Documentary alum Pedro Alvarez Gales was the assistant editor on Fyre, which was nominated in three other categories as well, while NYFA Acting for Film alum Lana Condor moderated a preview panel for Our Planet.

    Bob Eisenhardt Eddie Free Solo

    Two previous NYFA guest speakers were also nominated for Emmy Awards this year, both in the same category—Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Henry Winkler was nominated for his work in Barry, while recent guest speaker Tony Hale was nominated for Veep; this is his sixth nomination for the role, and he’s won twice. The show is also nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.

    Better Call Saul was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series; previous NYFA guest speaker Gordon Smith has written for the series. Groundbreaking animated program The Simpsons, now in its 30th season and no stranger to Emmy Awards and nominations, was unsurprisingly nominated again this year for Outstanding Animated Program. Mike Polcino, who has directed for the show, spoke with NYFA students last year.

    New York Film Academy congratulates this year’s Emmy Award nominees and looks forward to seeing who goes home with a golden statuette on September 22!

    Here is a full list of this year’s Emmy Award nominees:

    Outstanding Comedy Series
    Barry
    Fleabag
    The Good Place
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Russian Doll
    Schitt’s Creek
    Veep

    Outstanding Drama Series
    Better Call Saul
    Bodyguard
    Game of Thrones
    Killing Eve
    Ozark
    Pose
    Succession
    This Is Us

    Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
    Mahershala Ali, True Detective
    Benicio Del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
    Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
    Jared Harris, Chernobyl
    Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
    Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

    Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
    Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
    Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
    Aunjanue Ellis, When They See us
    Joey King, The Act
    Niecy Nash, When They See Us
    Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon

    Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
    Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
    Stellan Skarsgard, Chernobyl
    Paul Dano, Escape at Dannemora
    John Leguizamo, When They See Us
    Michael K. Williams, When They See Us
    Asante Blackk, When They See Us

    Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
    Emily Watson, Chernobyl
    Margaret Qualley, Fosse/Verdon
    Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects
    Patricia Arquette, The Act
    Marsha Stephanie Blake, When They See Us
    Vera Farmiga, When They See Us

    Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
    Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
    Don Cheadle, Black Monday
    Ted Danson, The Good Place
    Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
    Bill Hader, Barry
    Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

    Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
    Christina Applegate, Dead To Me
    Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
    Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
    Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
    Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag

    Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
    Stephen Root, Barry
    Henry Winkler, Barry
    Anthony Carrigan, Barry
    Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
    Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Tony Hale, Veep

    Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
    Sarah Goldberg, Barry
    Sian Clifford, Fleabag
    Olivia Colman, Fleabag
    Betty Gilpin, GLOW
    Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
    Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Anna Chlumsky, Veep

    Lead Actor in a Drama Series
    Jason Bateman, Ozark
    Sterling K. Brown, This Is UsKit Harington, Game of Thrones
    Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
    Billy Porter, Pose
    Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

    Lead Actress in a Drama Series
    Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
    Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
    Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
    Laura Linney, Ozark
    Mandy Moore, This Is Us
    Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
    Robin Wright, House of Cards

    Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
    Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
    Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call SaulAlfie Allen, Game of Thrones
    Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
    Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
    Michael Kelly, House of Cards
    Chris Sullivan, This Is Us

    Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
    Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones
    Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
    Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones
    Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
    Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve
    Julia Garner, Ozark

    Outstanding Reality Competition Series
    Amazing Race
    American Ninja Warrior
    Nailed It
    RuPaul’s Drag Race
    Top Chef
    The Voice

    Outstanding Variety Talk Series
    The Daily Show
    Full Frontal
    Jimmy Kimmel Live!
    Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
    The Late Late Show With James Corden
    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

    Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
    At Home With Amy Sedaris
    Documentary Now!
    Drunk History
    I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman
    Saturday Night Live
    Who Is America?

    Outstanding Television Movie
    Bandersnatch
    Brexit
    Deadwood
    King Lear
    My Dinner with Hervé

    Outstanding Limited Series
    Chernobyl
    Escape at Dannemora
    Fosse/Verdon
    Sharp Objects
    When They See Us

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  • Meet the Faculty of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) 3D Animation & Visual Effects Department

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    Part of what makes the 3D Animation & Visual Effects department at New York Film Academy (NYFA) one of the best animation schools in the world is its experienced, professional, award-winning faculty. 

    These working animators and visual artists are the perfect instructors to NYFA Animation student, able to share a wealth of industry secrets and practical knowledge to prepare students for professional careers in a competitive industry after graduation. By showing students first-hand how they’ve applied their skills on well-known projects like Star Wars and The Last of Us, these exceptional instructors help embody NYFA’s mission to teach the practical, technical and artistic skills necessary for a career in the visual arts.

    Here is a closer look at some of the esteemed faculty of the NYFA 3D Animation & Visual Effects department. Click each image for a detailed, fullscreen look at each faculty member’s achievements!

    You can find more information on the programs offered by the New York Film Academy 3D Animation & Visual Effects department here!

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    July 9, 2019 • 3D Animation, Faculty Highlights • Views: 335

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni & Faculty Pick Up Multiple MTV Movie & TV Award Wins

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) community get to add some Golden Popcorn statues to the ever-growing list of award wins this year, after winning at this year’s MTV Movie & TV Awards. The ceremony was hosted by Shazam! star Zachary Levi and aired on June 17 after being recorded two days prior in Santa Monica. 

    The trendy MTV Awards aims toward a younger audience and—unlike the more traditional Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and various other Awards season ceremonies—it especially prides itself on its unique and progressive categories, typically not differentiating between gender or media platforms. Instead, it groups broadcast, streaming, and theatrically released content together in genderless groupings.

    The top prize in television, Best Show, went to HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones, which ended its eight-season run this year. NYFA 3D Animation & VFX alum Alex LoRusso worked on some visual effects for the last few episodes of Game of Thrones’ final season, including “The Last of the Starks” and controversial but explosive climactic entry “The Bells.”Lana Condor

    The other big winner of the night was Marvel Cinematic Universe record-smashing blockbuster Avengers: Endgame, which picked up awards for Best Hero (Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man), Best Villain (Josh Brolin as Thanos), and top prize Best Movie.

    Competing with Avengers for Best Movie was Netflix original To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, starring NYFA Acting for Film camp alum Lana Condor and actor Noah Centineo. The pair managed to pick up the Golden Popcorn trophy for perennial favorite popular category, Best Kiss. Additionally, Centineo won Breakthrough Performance for his role in the film. 

    Another winner of the night was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court Justice profiled in feature documentary RBG, who won Best Real-Life Hero. The film, shot by cinematography and NYFA Documentary Filmmaking instructor Claudia Raschke, racked up an impressive amount of MTV Award nominations, including Best Documentary, Best Fight (for Ruth Bader Ginsburg vs. Inequality), and Most Meme-able Moment (for her nickname The Notorious RBG.) 

    New York Film Academy congratulates this year’s MTV Movie & TV Award winners and is elated to see the NYFA Community continue to gain recognition for their hard work! 

    Here is the full list of MTV Movie & TV Award nominees and winners:

    BEST MOVIE
    Avengers: Endgame – WINNER
    BlacKkKlansman
    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
    Us

    BEST SHOW
    Big Mouth
    Game of Thrones – WINNER
    Riverdale
    Schitt’s Creek
    The Haunting of Hill House

    BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MOVIE
    Amandla Stenberg (Starr Carter) — The Hate U Give
    Lady Gaga (Ally) — A Star is Born – WINNER
    Lupita Nyong’o (Red) — Us
    Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury) — Bohemian Rhapsody
    Sandra Bullock (Malorie) — Bird Box

    BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SHOW
    Elisabeth Moss (June Osborne/Offred) — The Handmaid’s Tale – WINNER
    Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) — Game of Thrones
    Gina Rodriguez (Jane Villanueva) — Jane the Virgin
    Jason Mitchell (Brandon) — The Chi
    Kiernan Shipka (Sabrina Spellman) — Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

    BEST HERO
    Brie Larson (Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel) — Captain Marvel
    John David Washington (Ron Stallworth) — BlacKkKlansman
    Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) — Game of Thrones
    Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) — Avengers: Endgame – WINNER
    Zachary Levi (Billy Batson/Shazam) — Shazam!

    BEST VILLAIN
    Jodie Comer (Villanelle) — Killing Eve
    Joseph Fiennes (Commander Fred Waterford) — The Handmaid’s Tale
    Josh Brolin (Thanos) — Avengers: Endgame – WINNER
    Lupita Nyong’o (Red) — Us
    Penn Badgley (Joe Goldberg) — You

    BEST KISS
    Camila Mendes & Charles Melton (Veronica Lodge & Reggie Mantle) — Riverdale
    Jason Momoa & Amber Heard (Aquaman & Mera) — Aquaman
    Ncuti Gatwa & Connor Swindells (Eric Effiong & Adam Groff) — Sex Education
    Noah Centineo & Lana Condor (Peter Kavinsky & Lara Jean) — To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – WINNER
    Tom Hardy & Michelle Williams (Eddie Brock/Venom & Anne Weying) — Venom

    REALITY ROYALTY
    Jersey Shore: Family Vacation
    Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta – WINNER
    The Bachelor
    The Challenge
    Vanderpump Rules

    BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE
    Awkwafina (Peik Lin Goh) — Crazy Rich Asians
    Dan Levy (David Rose) — Schitt’s Creek – WINNER
    John Mulaney (Andrew Glouberman) — Big Mouth
    Marsai Martin (Little Jordan Sanders) — Little
    Zachary Levi (Billy Batson/Shazam) — Shazam!

    BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
    Awkwafina (Peik Lin Goh) — Crazy Rich Asians
    Haley Lu Richardson (Stella) — Five Feet Apart
    Mj Rodriguez (Blanca Rodriguez) — Pose
    Ncuti Gatwa (Eric Effiong) — Sex Education
    Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky) — To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – WINNER

    BEST FIGHT
    Avengers: Endgame — Captain America vs. Thanos
    Captain Marvel — Captain Marvel vs. Minn-Erva – WINNER
    Game of Thrones — Arya Stark vs. the White Walkers
    RBG — Ruth Bader Ginsburg vs. Inequality
    WWE Wrestlemania — Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte FlairRBG

    BEST REALLIFE HERO
    Alex Honnold — Free Solo
    Hannah Gadsby — Nanette
    Roman Reigns — WWE SmackDown
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg — RBG – WINNER
    Serena Williams — Being Serena

    MOST FRIGHTENED PERFORMANCE
    Alex Wolff (Peter) — Hereditary
    Linda Cardellini (Anna Tate-Garcia) — The Curse of La Llorona
    Rhian Rees (Dana Haines) — Halloween
    Sandra Bullock (Malorie) — Bird Box – WINNER
    Victoria Pedretti (Nell Crain) — The Haunting of Hill House

    BEST DOCUMENTARY
    At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal
    McQueen
    Minding the Gap
    RBG
    Surviving R. Kelly – WINNER

    BEST HOST
    Gayle King — CBS This Morning
    Nick Cannon — Wild ‘n Out – WINNER
    Nick Cannon — The Masked Singer
    RuPaul — RuPaul’s Drag Race
    Trevor Noah — The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

    MOST MEME-ABLE MOMENT
    Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club — The Lilo Dance
    Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood — Ray J’s Hat
    RBG — The Notorious RBG
    RuPaul’s Drag Race — Asia O’Hara’s butterfly finale fail
    The Bachelor — Colton Underwood jumps the fence – WINNER

    BEST MUSICAL MOMENT
    “Shallow” – A Star is Born WINNER
    Live Aid Concert – Bohemian Rhapsody
    “Just a Girl” – Captain Marvel
    “Masquerade” – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
    “Look at that Butt” – On My Block
    “Seventeen” – Riverdale
    “Sunflower” – Into the Spider-Verse
    “I Think We’re Alone Now” – The Umbrella Academy

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  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Instructor Terah Jackson

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    Washington, DC is about as far away culturally from Hollywood as one can get in this country. However, for New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting and Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) instructor Terah Jackson, his hometown (DC, not Hollywood) provides a wealth of experience to draw upon. Terah Jackson

    Jackson doesn’t just write politically-minded movies, but also mixes genres such as science fiction to—as he says—“add some Hollywood flair.” A director and writer of both stage and screen, Jackson has trained at Lincoln Center and worked off-Broadway. He’s also won awards and garnered attention from the WGAW, Nicholls, Film Independent, and Sundance.

    Currently, Jackson teaches NYFA classes such as Playwriting and Great Playwrights as well as courses like Genre Studies and Writing the Feature Film. He took some time from his busy schedule to discuss Washington, DC, his career, and his civic responsibility as an artist—based on his ties to the civil rights movement. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): How did you discover theatre?

    Terah Jackson (TJ): You mean outside of holiday kindergarten pageants, where I was an outstanding Tree #3? 

    I’d say it began with my mother. She’s a master storyteller and as a child I’d follow her around to different storytelling gigs like Three Stories Tall, the first show on NBC4’s 1980s Saturday Morning lineup. She would ask me how she did, and I would give her my notes on her performance and story structure. In time she grew to appreciate it—I think! Those experiences shaped who I am as an artist and storyteller today.

    NYFA: How did your experiences in Washington, DC influence your writing? Do politics—local or national—inform the themes and issues you explore? 

    TJ: Growing up in Washington, DC was, for me, a tale of two cities. There’s Washington—the stuff of The West Wing—then there’s DC, which at times resembles The Wire (which is set in Baltimore). While my neighborhood had its own international gangs, I took the E2 bus line to schools that daughters of diplomats might attend. It was a good life, but confusing crisscrossing cultural and class divides. My sci-fi thrillers, political period pieces, and comedies speak to these experiences. 

    But if you mean more directly “does working in the Pentagon and youth detention centers show up on the page?” Yes, absolutely. To me, working in Hollywood is like DC, but with flair. Take what I did in the DC government, working on adult education and special needs services, dress it up with a little flair like invading aliens posing as lobbyists, and there you g—that’s my sci-fi thriller, Primrose. The customs are different, but the work, the negotiations, and the characters are strikingly similar. There has to be a demand to make a deal. 

    NYFA: Your parents were in the civil rights movement. Can you talk about that—and how that also influenced and shaped you?

    Terah Jackson Rustin

    Civil Rights Activist Bayard Rustin

    TJ: Yes, both my parents were civil rights activists at Howard University and in the city at-large. As the child of civil rights activists, it’s important to me that my work carries forward the spirit of what they fought for—even if it is sci-fi or comedic—that it carries a sense of human dignity. Their work is unfinished. The struggle continues. 

    As an artist I have a civic responsibility to amplify or envision the kind of future we all deserve. It’s an important role to reflect and shape culture as well as one’s sense of self within society. We don’t often discuss it, but Harry Belafonte, Maya Angelou, Sammy Davis Jr., Lorraine Hansberry, and Marlon Brando in their own ways and to varying degrees were influential to making events like the March on Washington what they were. When you look at their artwork they often speak to human dignity and the betterment of society.

    NYFA: Any projects of yours you’d like to highlight?

    Rustin, a feature, probably is the project that honors my parents and their generation the most. It started at AFI as my thesis and was developed further at Film Independent and with support from the WGAW. It’s about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s strategic advisor Bayard Rustin, who is pushed out of the civil rights movement because he’s gay. But when he returns, he organizes the March on Washington of 1963. It honors the work of Bayard and the civil rights movement and hopefully reminds us to keep on working for a truly inclusive and equitable society. 

    NYFA: What are you currently working on?

    TJ: Quite a few projects, but today it’s all about Displaced, a sci-fi pilot, about a lowly janitor who finds he’s receiving pranks calls from inside his bedroom wall from a phone on his own dead body—or at least someone who looks identical to him. Without giving too much away it’s a bit of a doppelganger thriller that I’ve been developing over the past year or so alongside a few other concepts for TV that I can’t talk about yet. Displaced definitely draws on my experience growing up asking those “What if” questions. 

    NYFA: What are your favorite classes to teach at NYFA and why?Terah Jackson

    TJ: My favorite class to teach at NYFA are the ones when a good mix of students from across the world—from various ages, ethnicities, classes, and those with military experience and those without—are all in the same room together investigating a deep tenet of writing or film that reflects what we are up to in life. In that moment we all learn from each other. It’s dynamic, electric, and enriches everyone.

    NYFA: What advice do you have for students looking to get into playwriting?

    Take risks that you wouldn’t in film and television. Read and see lots of plays. Act in plays. Seek to understand the mechanics of how they are structured. And write, write, write. Develop your writing routine. Connect with other playwrights. Go outside and listen to people and how they speak. Jot down moments of striking human interaction. Piece them together. Theatre often calls for you to dig deep into yourself. So take care of your relationships, spirit, and your health as you do all this. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

    New York Film Academy thanks Screenwriting and LAS instructor Terah Jackson for taking the time to speak with us and wishes him the best in all his creative endeavors.

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    June 26, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 406

  • ‘Debris’ by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Julio O. Ramos In Competition at Palm Springs International Shortfest

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    Debris, the award-winning short film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Julio O. Ramos, is screening in competition at this year’s Palm Springs International Shortfest. Ramos is an acting instructor at NYFA-Los Angeles’s Burbank-based campus.Julio O. Ramos

    The film was written by Lucas Micelles from a story by Ramos, who directed the short as well. Debris is a thriller set against the bleak backdrop of human labor trafficking and focuses on Armando (Tenoch Huerta), a hard-working construction foreman who needs to resort to unconventional methods to deal with an accident on his site. After the contractor (Karren Karaguilian) discovers what Armando is up to, Armando is forced to face the consequences of his actions.

    “My intention with Debris is to shed light over this grim world of labor trafficking, focus on the vulnerable lives of illegal construction workers, and break the stereotypical notion that labor trafficking only happens somewhere else,” says Ramos. “We must ask ourselves: Who are the people building the homes of America? Where did they come from? Who hired them? America’s obsession with cheap labor has led to a complicated immigration policy intertwining the everyday American life with the global transgressions of labor trafficking.” 

    Ramos adds, “It happens right here in America and, arguably, we are all responsible.”

    Debris premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and since then has competed in nearly 100 film festivals, picking up awards including Best Narrative Short at the 2018 Sidewalk Film Festival, Special Mention of the Jury at the 2019 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and two Jury Awards for Best Narrative Short Film and Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi.

    Julio O. Ramos

    The film’s latest achievement is screening at the 2019 Palm Springs International Shortfest. The festival, now in its 25th year, takes place across seven days every June, hosting more than 350 short films annually as well as a series of panels, seminars, roundtable discussions, and master classes.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting instructor Julio O. Ramos on the success of Debris and wishes him the best of luck at Palm Springs International Shortfest.

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    June 21, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 493

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update – June 18, 2019

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism school gives our students a set of skills, which they can then use to build their careers. Sometimes that means getting a job. Other times it means starting a business. That’s what NYFA grad Meiraj Haq from Pakistan has done. Haq has created Kulture, a production and catering event management company. (Although we take no credit for his ability as a caterer…)

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    Haq wrote me:  “My main aim is to create content and become the biggest YouTuber in Pakistan. I’ve already worked with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and made his official election documentary for the 2018 elections. And I have a few more big collaborations coming in the near future as well.”

    In our craft, you don’t wait for things to happen, you make them happen. Lauren Vanney (known online as Lauren O’Connell) has certainly taken that advice to heart.  She knows exactly what her subject niche is…

     

    Lauren is the only NYFA Broadcast Journalism student to demonstrate how to exfoliate your lips as part of a class project. (See Lauren, I remember!)

    ***

    Every month, we have an Open House at NYFA. (It is where I first met some of you now reading this Update…) There is a standard video we play, and I have seen it many times. So, imagine my surprise, when in the latest version I saw for the first time two of our Brazilian grads from back in their student days… Vanessa Lorenzini and Patricia Saad. That January, it was especially cold in New York City. Very different from Sao Paulo. But Vanessa and Patricia were not deterred!

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    It’s not unusual for graduates to come back and visit. What is unusual is when someone who attended one of our Summer Teen Camps stops by, especially since she lives in China… Helen Wang Zheng and her mother were in New York last week and stopped by NYFA. Based on the experience she had with us two years ago, Helen plans to pursue a major in Communications in college.

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    Finally, department faculty meetings aren’t usually the highlight of a given week. But the “meeting” we held two weeks ago was certainly memorable. It took place on Robert Ferraro‘s sailboat, out on Long Island Sound. Robert was patient with Evgenia VlasovaDaniel Hernandez, and myself as he explained some of the finer points of sailing. By the way, he is holding a can of seltzer in the picture below…

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Department Updates: A&E, HBO, PBS, VICE, IDA, MTV Award, BAFTA Nom, Premieres, Fests, Gigs & More!

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a look at the latest achievements of the Documentary Filmmaking department’s alumni, faculty, and students:

    What to Watch

    Season 1 of The Employables, shot and produced by CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) for A&E began airing last Wednesday. You can catch the first two episodes online, and watch the rest of the season Wednesdays on A&E at 10 p.m. EST or online via Hulu or A&E’s website.

    The feature documentary, Trials of Spring, shot by director of photography Muhammad Hamdy (NYC ‘08) aired on PBS as part of the Women, War and Peace series and can still be seen on their website.

    You can catch one of the many pieces Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11) recently cut for HBO’s VICE New Tonight online as well.

    Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) post-graduation short Lumo: Too Young to Die aired on BBC Scotland, and can still be seen on BBC iPlayer.

    The episode of The New York Times’ Secret History of Muslims, directed and produced by Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) is now also available on Vimeo’s list of Staff Picks.

    Human Rights Watch recently published Saudi Arabia: 10 Reasons Why Saudi Women Flee, based on three short animated films created by Maria Stanisheva and commissioned by fellow alum, Human Rights Watch producer Janna Kyllästinen (NYC ’12).

    The Bit Player, shot by NYC instructor and director of photography Claudia Racshke for director Mark Levin, is premiering at The World Science Fair in NYC. The feature documentary tells the story of the brilliant math genius Claude Shannon, father of the digital revolution.

    Drama del Rosario (’19) has two films in distribution on REVRY.TV 

    In This Family  — What is it like coming out as a gay teen in the Philippines? In a country imbued with traditional Catholic views, coming out is received with disapproval and anger, especially from one’s own family.

    The End of LifeWhat pushes a person to choose between living and dying? Science, religion, and law all converge at the end of life.

    Also, In This Family recently won the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary at CAAMFest 2019.

    Honors, Awards, Festivals, Grants

    NYFA Docsters have been racking up festivals, major grants, fellowships, and a variety of honors around the world.

    In April, Julia Cheng‘s (NYC ’18) thesis doc Cricket Liu won Best International Short Documentary at AmDocs (American Documentary Film Festival), and qualified for the Academy Award. Then, Anais Michel’s (NYC ’16) and Braulio Jatar‘s (NYC ’18) short Where Chaos Reigns won Best Short Documentary at San Francisco International Film Festival – and also qualified for the Oscar.

    We Are All Here, an earlier, shorter version of Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) film Lumo: Too Young To Die, made the shortlist for the BAFTA for Best Student Documentary.

    Pedro Peira‘s (LA ’16) film Trabajadores won the K.R. Mohanan Memorial Documentary Award 2019.

    Director/Producer Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) and her company AnimaDocs were awarded a development grant from the French CNC – Centre National Du Cinéma Et De L’image Animée for her animated documentary series Finding Home.

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ‘11) was awarded a SA Writers Development Grant from the South Australian Film Corporation.

    Rodrigo Urriolagoitia (NYC ’12) was selected for “Film Accelerator” at La Selva. There, he will shoot a short fiction film under the supervision of director Lucrecia Martel, who’s taking over that role from Werner Herzog. Created to identify and cultivate the most promising filmmakers around the world, Film Accelerator has tapped Rodrigo as its first ever Bolivian director. Meanwhile, his first foray into short fiction, Our Price, has kicked off its festival run by winning its writer/director Rodrigo a Silver Award for Best Crime Short at the Independent Shorts Awards in Los Angeles. Additionally, Pseudo, a feature he produced in Bolivia, will premiere in September.

    Nancy Dionne‘s (NYC ’18) first semester film, All I Can See Is The Future, was picked up by KweliTV following a great launch as a nominee for Best Documentary at the 2019 Winter International Film Festival. It’s now also an Official Selection of Docs Without Borders, the Katra Sidebar series in Dumbo, Hollywood South Urban, and Bowery Social Justice Film Festival. Stay tuned for its drop date on KweliTV.

    Pretty Dead, produced by Wynona Barbera (NYC ‘16), premiered at HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival.

    Elaine Minionis‘s (NYC ’08) Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo premiered at none other than Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF). It won the Audience Award at the “I’m Not Gonna Move to LA” film festival and also received the Award of Merit at the IndieFEST Film Awards. Uncanny is also an Official Selection of the Miami Independent Film Festival, Fort Myers Film Festival, Tallahassee Film Festival, and Hollywood Florida Film Festival.

    Love From Afar, from director Cristian Sanay (NYC ’14) and editor Nina Thomas (NYC ’15), has hit the festival circuit as an Official Selection of the Latino Film Festival, Corto Circuito Short Film Festival, and Latino & Iberian Film Festival at Yale. The latter included a special Q&A and talk with the filmmakers about immigration. The short has also been invited to be part of the curriculum at various universities, such as Fairfield University in Connecticut and CUNY. Next stop: Long Island International Film Festival on July 12.

    Krisztina Danka’s (NYC Workshop) doc The Stolen River continues its festival run with a new win; this time it was awarded Best Film On Nature at the L’Age D’Or International Arthouse Film Festival in Kolkata, India.

    Amy Wright (NYC ’15) returned to Tribeca Film Festival as Tech Liaison Manager, leading a team that included Anna Panova (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), Maria Tamburro (NYC ’19), and Mollie Moore (NYC ’18). Once again, the team successfully screened well over 100 films and got to spend the time they weren’t on duty rubbing elbows and watching the hottest new films.

    After serving on Amy’s Tribeca Film Festival crew, Anna Panova (NYC ’18) stayed on to assist Sandy O’Hearen, CFO of Tribeca Enterprises and others, soaking up more film festival wisdom in preparation for her launch of the Shortie Film Festival in Williamsburg. It sounds pretty cool—they keep the entry fees low and even have a special award Best NYFA Documentary. Enter the fest here 

    Ida Myklebost (NYC ‘16) has jumped to the other side of the festival equation, too. Her freshman festival run with thesis film Unwelcome was quite successful. Last year, for example, she won Anchorage Film Festival. This year, she’s programming it. And their call for entries is open, so send your films!

    Ghost Villages of Himalayas, the thesis film of Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), won the Collective Critics Award in Uttarakhand, India and a Jury Award from Variety International Film Festival, and has been getting love from the press all over India, including an article in The Times of India.

    Juliana Sakae (LA ’13) is Awards Competition Manager for International Documentary Association and is looking for amazing film students to be part of our pre-screening committee:

    “The students will be screening features, shorts, and podcasts in June and July to make sure we have the best in our competition. As a thank you, we offer a 1-year student membership in IDA as well as their name in our Awards Program. The feedback we get from the students is always very positive and they seem to really enjoy the experience.”

    Lucia Flores (LA ‘18) has been awarded a coveted Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship to support her thesis work at NYFA LA.

    This June, Yusaku Kanagawa (NYC ‘15), Chief Producer at Yahoo! JAPAN CREATORS Program in Tokyo, is sitting on the Jury for the 2019 Fresh Pitch competition in Shanghai, China, alongside executives from Discover and NHK. Created by Beijing-based documentary producer/director Julia Cheng (NYC ‘18), Fresh Pitch has quickly become a major hub for the Asian documentary community. Mariko Ide (NYC ‘16), JAPAN CREATORS Program Story Consultant, will be in attendance as well. And Shanghai-based producer Jenny Song (NYC ‘16) is rounding out the NYFA Docs contingent. Together, the four will also attend the Asian premiere of National Geographic’s Academy Award-winner Free Solo, edited by their NYFA mentor, Bob Eisenhardt.

    Great Gigs & Dream Jobs

    Lara Ann de Wet (NYC ’15) has temporarily relocated to Bali as editor of Gary Bencheghib‘s (NYC ’14) new short doc Plastic River, about his ongoing work on the Citarum river with the President of Indonesia.

    Kendall Ciesemier (NYC Workshop) has moved to The New York Times as a producer/reporter continuing the great documentary journalism she began at Mic.

    CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) has landed in his dream job as a producer/cinematographer developing documentaries for TV at NBC Peacock Productions after years of successful freelancing in the documentary series world.

    Earlier this month, Annie Woods (NYC ‘07) checked in on her way out of the city as she walked away her “fancy” job as creative producer for Viacom to move to a tiny house in Ojai, minimize, and get back to her environmental and social issue documentary work. Or, as Variety would put it, “Woods ankles to go indie.”

    Fuma (Andrea) Fumagalli (NYC ‘07) is also shaking it up. He’s temporarily forsaken sports docs for journalism. After editing the documentary series First Team: Juventus for Netflix and coming in to do some additional editing on Paul George: My Journey for ESPN, Fuma’s moved his attention to reportage for Rai Italia, the channel of Italian Public TV that reaches millions of Italians that live abroad, all across the globe. He’s basically become their foreign correspondent from New York. Check out the page dedicated to his work on “Italy Run.” There will be four pieces and a short doc by the time the Run has run.

    Another foreign correspondent, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11), continues to thrive at the international TV channel i24 and is developing a documentary series there so she can get straight-up docs back into her daily life.

    Less than two months after graduation, Mollie Moore (NYC ’18) got a gig traveling to Uganda as 2nd Camera/DIT for NYFA Docs instructor Eddie Rosenstein. She has since been sharpening her camera acumen freelancing and TAing in the Doc Department. This week, she returned from TAing the expedition to Belize, just in time to take off for Peru to shoot the MFA thesis of classmate Lucia Florez‘ (NYC ’18 / LA ’19).

    Eddie also hired Charlotte Madvig (NYC ’18) in the editing department on that same film. 

    Nika Nikanava (NYC ‘18) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) got to work with NYC instructor and DP Claudia Raschke on a gig for Sesame Street. Claudia also twice booked Amy Wright (NYC ’14), Carolina Gonzales (NYC ‘15), Anisia Boronova (NYC ’15) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) to shoot and record pieces for American Classical Orchestra.

    Serena Smith (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’18), and Mollie Moore (NYC ‘18) served in various positions for NYC instructor Maxine Trump‘s new ITVS digital series Should We Kid or Not?, a spinoff on her documentary, To Kid or Not to Kid. Fellow NYC instructor Dorottya Mathe produced the series.

    Faculty News

    NYC instructor Tracie Holder won a National Endowment for the Arts grant for The Quiet Zone, a new feature doc she’s producing.

    Randy Dottin, NYFA Chair of Screenwriting, won a documentary grant from the Sundance Institute for his six-part documentary series called The House I Never Knew.

    RBG, DP’ed by NYC instructor Claudia Raschke, is up for four different MTV Movie Awards, including Best Fight (RBG vs Inequality). Free Solo, edited by fellow NYC instructor Bob Eisenhardt, is up for an MTV Movie Award as well.

    Claudia Racshke has also wrapped her celebrity-laden world tour shooting the new National Geographic series Activate, about local activism around the globe.

    NYC instructor Kristen Nutile and Master Class instructor JP Olsen made great use of their residency as MacDowell Fellows and re-emerged with their new doc, Stan, finished and ready to begin its life in the world.

    The Spirit of Discovery, story produced by NYC Documentary Chair Andrea Swift, premiered on KPBS. The feature doc was directed by once and future instructor Eliana Alvarez.

    Maxine Trump’s To Kid or Not to Kid, associate produced by Marie Vanderrusten (NYC ’15) continues to rack up festival appearances and press around the country. And from The New York Post to The Daily Mail, the film is getting love from the press on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Many thanks to distinguished alum Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11), who generously returned this April to teach a Master Class with the current students in the Doc Department. As part of the Master Editors series, Ilaria’s master class was part of a line-up that also featured Academy Award nominee (with Spike Lee, 4 Little Girls) Sam Pollard, and NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt, editor of this year’s Oscar winner, Free Solo. Polsonetti was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing in News last year for a short documentary she edited for VICE on HBO. Currently a staff editor for VICE News Tonight, she has cut numerous short docs and served as editor on Raised in the System, a VICE on HBO feature documentary starring Michael K. Williams (The Wire), among others. The students got to watch some of the films she’s cut, and soak in her wisdom and insights on editing and working as an editor—especially for VICE—as well as learn about the path she’s taken to get from film school to her current position in the world.

    Personal and Community News

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11) checked in to let us know that he’s now a father. Welcome baby boy, Augustine! And while his new feature documentary Love in the Time of Antidepressants continues to make the festival rounds, he has moved to New Orleans to set up shop making docs with his wife and filmmaking partner—and Augustine’s mom—Madeline. If you know anybody in the business in or around New Orleans, Paul would love to meet them! (Andrea’s happy to connect you if you aren’t already.) 

    Turns out Francesca Pagani (NYC ’11) was listed as a producer and Points North Fellow at Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) alongside Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11), who got a nod in the last update. We’ll have to catch Francesca’s details in the next update as, last we heard, she was on a pirate ship in Panama shooting a new short doc.

    In other NYC ’11 reunion news, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11) and Department Chair, Andrea Swift, got to grab a coffee in Tel Aviv, where Bianca is now based.

    It seems Marco Vitale (NYC ’11) had just spent a few days there too, en route from Iceland to Naples.

    Michael Jovic (NYC ’09) has become a father too. Welcome, Roman Jovic!

    And per Facebook, Fred Boll (NYC ’07) has one on the way!

    SEND YOUR NEWS!

    Your community wants to know what you’ve been up to! Just email or tag your Documentary Chair and we’ll take it from there!

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