Community Highlights

  • Anna Serner Speaks on Behalf of Gender Equality in Film

    anna serner

    Since the beginning of 2000, the pursuit for gender equality in film has been an ongoing objective in Sweden. To reach that goal by the end of 2015, the Swedish Film Institute, led by its CEO Anna Serner, made an actionable plan with encouraging results. Under her guidance since 2011, the Swedish Film Institute has made Sweden the first-ever country to achieve 50:50 gender parity in terms of government financing for films. Last year, Serner succeeded in funding an equal number of films made by women and men in Sweden and Europe.

    On Monday night, New York Film Academy students, faculty and staff were invited to attend a special lecture and discussion with Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, to hear a presentation on a topic very much in the forefront here and abroad. That topic is gender equality in the film industry. Much has been said and written about the significant pay and role disparity in the acting field and the fact that women are under represented in the directing profession both qualitatively and quantitatively.

    anna serner

    Ms. Serner, who presides over the institute, a governmental organization which reviews applications and grants funding to prospective filmmakers, presented a list of most common arguments to which she has been subjected that seek to reinforce that disparity in the Swedish film industry and tied those to the conditions that exist in the American film industry as well. The arguments include rationalizations ranging from accusations of funding by quota to ‘women just don’t want to be directors’. Her responses brought to light cultural obstacles and ways of thinking that perpetuate these misconceptions.

    Regarding the accusation of managing by quota she responded, “We don’t do quota.” She went on to say that if an organization does that they have two different funding mechanisms—quota and quality. She maintains that the primary criterion is always quality and commented at length throughout the presentation regarding the quality of female produced and directed works.

    Key to overcoming these obstacles is a system in which female filmmakers are mentored and educated on how to navigate the system. Also key to moving forward, according to Serner, is an inclusive approach that helps to change male cultural paradigms, and brings distributors in early in the development of female led projects in order to make them vested sooner in the process and appreciate the evolution of the films in question.

    April 28, 2016 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 147

  • NYFA Actions Basketball Team Wins Burbank Sports League

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts Men’s Basketball team performed admirably this Winter 2016 Season thanks to the guidance of their coach, former player, Lucius Allen, who not only played for the 1971 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks, but was also a part of the two-time NCAA championship team at UCLA in 1967 and 1968. At the beginning of the season, our NYFA Actions faced off against high-level opponents with ‘down-to-the-wire’ victories. During the mid-season reign, the team continued to grow and enhance their skills and court strategies, which paid off when they earned a solid position in the playoffs.

    nyfa basketball

    The first round of the playoffs tested the team’s training and diligence when matched against formidable teams. The games started out close, but in the end, NYFA secured victories culminating in a score of 61- 50 in their final game to end the playoff season. With their new found ethics of team work, led by coach Lucius Allen, the NYFA Actions earned their place in the championship game for the Burbank Sports League.

    The season finally came to a head this past Tuesday night when the Actions took on the Burbank ‘Wolf pack’ in the championship game of the Burbank Sports League. It was a true nail biter, but the team kept their composure and were able to keep the score close as starting point guard Jean Hyppolite led the way with 23 points.

    nyfa team with lucius

    With aggressive defense, and a well-executed offense, the Actions were able to take the lead away from the ‘Wolf pack’. They held this advantage until the end of the game with a win and a final score of 65-56.

    Coach Lucius Allen, and the entire basketball athletic staff have done an incredible job this season. We’d like to invite everyone out to the games this summer as our very own NYFA Actions will be looking to move up a division and repeat this season’s victory.

    April 26, 2016 • Community Highlights, Sports, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 212

  • NYFA Student Veterans Film Vets4Warriors PSA with Colonel Jacobs

    Last week, New York Film Academy Veteran Advancement Program’s Chair, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel (Ret.) Jack Jacobs, was delighted to host the Director of Rutgers University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC) Major General (Ret.) Mark Graham for a collaboration that would bring the spotlight on Vets4Warriors and the wonderful accomplishments of this unique hotline.

    colonel jacobs

    Vets4Warriors is an exciting, multi-platform, peer-to-peer resource network—staffed by veterans—for veterans and military members of all eras of conflict. It is more than just a crisis hotline—the aim is to service and provide assistance to those who have been impacted by military service before an avoidable challenge or catastrophe occurs in their lives.

    Colonel Jacobs, speaking on behalf of both institutions, filmed with NYFA veteran students and production team members to create a public service announcement that will promote Vets4Warriors, now in its fifth year, to an even larger national audience.


    The partnership between the New York Film Academy and Rutgers UBHC symbolizes both institutions dedication to those who have served our country faithfully.

    April 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 455

  • NYFA’s Craig Ross Jr. to Direct Pilot for TV One

    craig rossNew York Film Academy Directing Instructor Craig Ross, Jr. has been tapped to direct an upcoming drama series from media titan Cathy Hughes. Ross has previously directed a number of high profile television shows, such as Number, Bones, Prison Break, and NCIS. Ross says he and the producers worked together in the past, and he has been on the verge of working with this network for months now.

    Hughes founded Radio One and later expanded into TV One, which went public in 1998, making Hughes the first and only African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation at the time.

    The upcoming series for TV One, tentatively titled “Cathy Hughes Presents Media,” was written by Kevin Arkadie and is being produced by Sheila Ducksworth, Susan Banks, Kevin Arkadie, and Mitchell Galin. The series is said to be a soap opera surrounding a black family with a media empire called JUMP—Jones Universal Media Productions.

    “It’s intelligent writing with suspense and dramatic twists,” says Ross. “So, yeah, that’s definitely in my wheelhouse.”

    Production is set to begin on May 9th, 2016.

    April 21, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 297

  • Colonel Jack Jacobs: The Hero’s Story Continues

    col jacobs

    Sue Jacobs, Col. Jack Jacobs, and NYFA’s Jim Miller

    Last week, at the historic Asbury Park Convention Center, almost 2,000 New “Jerseyans” gathered in the vast weather-beaten theater to celebrate the state’s most accomplished citizens. The occasion was the 8th Annual New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) induction ceremony.

    This year’s 12 inductees were selected based on a rigorous nomination and election process. The awardees were deemed to have made invaluable contributions to society and the world. Past inductees include the likes of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Yogi Berra, Meryl Streep, and Frank Sinatra.

    The 2015 honorees are no less stellar and include the New York Film Academy’s own, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program. Colonel Jacob’s valor in Vietnam is legendary. He has earned the Medal of Honor, three Bronze Stars, and two Silver Stars, for saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. He has had several successful careers in business, public service and the philanthropic field.

    This year’s inductees also include Jon Stewart, Derek Jeter, Kool & the Gang, and Christie Rampone; however, it was only Colonel Jacobs who received a standing ovation that night in Asbury Park. As I stood among the applauding crowd of New Jerseyans, I was overcome with gratitude, pride, and emotion, not only because Colonel Jacobs’ valor was honored in such a significant way, but also because he has unselfishly committed his limited valuable time to supporting NYFA’s veteran students.

    Congratulations Colonel Jack Jacobs! You are truly a New Jersey hero, the Nation’s hero, and a superhero of the New York Film Academy!

    April 18, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 447

  • NYFA South Beach’s Movement Club Performs at Olympia Theater

    New York Film Academy South Beach Instructor Susie K. Taylor founded The Movement Club as an outreach organization of students whose purpose is to spread light through the “healing art of acting.” Late last month, The Movement Club put on an all-female performance called “Freedom is Beauty!! #F.I.B. at Olympia Theater in Miami, Florida.

    movement club

    “The New York Film Academy South Beach is excited to be a part of the Celebration of Women’s Month at the Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami,” said NYFA South Beach Director, Elli Ventouras. “Under the guidance of our inspirational Movement Instructor Susie K. Taylor, the female performers of our Movement Club will perform an Interpreted Dance. Susie has really motivated our students to reach their full potential!”

    “In the Lobby Lounge…ETC!” is Olympia Theater’s very own homage to classic Vaudeville and variety shows. Anything from sketch comedy to alternative entertainment, burlesque and improv. Produced by the Front Yard Theatre Collective, this month’s “ETC!” featured an epic collaboration of all-female, Miami based performers, celebrating Women’s History Month.

    olympia theater

    “When I founded the Front Yard Theatre Collective, I never imagined we would find a home in the historic Olympia Theater,” said Gabriela Fernandez from The Olympia Theater. ‘Thanks to “In the lobby lounge…ETC!’ we can maintain our primary goal of offering free quality entertainment for the benefit of our community.”

    NYFA’s group performed Pick A Song, a game where a lucky audience member offers up his or her favorite song and the F.I.B creates a couture movement piece for that specific song.

    movement performance

    The experience was wonderful and Susie K. Taylor was “beyond thrilled with the students” as they joyfully applied their class work to their performance.

    Congrats to The Movement Club on putting on another successful performance. We look forward to the next show!

    April 12, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 438

  • NYFA Presents “Stranger Than Fiction” at IFC Center

    New York Film Academy is excited to present the 2016 Spring Season of NYC’s cutting-edge documentary film series, Stranger Than Fiction, Starting April 12!

    Stranger Than Fiction, the weekly documentary film series hosted by Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen and presented by IFC Center and New York Film Academy, announces the Spring Season launch of its 11th year. Each screening features a conversation with the filmmaker(s) or other special guests, usually moderated by Toronto Film Festival documentary programmer, Thom Powers. An informal gathering with the guests generally follows.

    documentary now

    The spring slate opens April 12, 2016 with the invitation only, DOCUMENTARY NOW! DECONSTRUCTED, a one of a kind night with directors Rhys Thomas and Alex Buono presenting episodes of their hit IFC TV series. Starring Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, the series parodies and pays homage to well-known documentaries. Season Pass holders are invited. There will be no individual tickets sold for this extraordinary special. See Season Pass information below.

    Other season highlights include the sneak preview of PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW, about a singer discovered on YouTube, with the film subject Princess Shaw in person; and THE WITNESS about the Kitty Genovese case with director James Solomon. The spring season is co-presented by New York Film Academy.

    “In honor of our 11th year, we’ve packed the spring season with extra films to take the line-up to 11 – just like the Spinal Tap amplifier,” said Artistic Director Thom Powers.

    Stranger Than Fiction generates some of the most important documentary programming anywhere. It provides a crucial hub, and integral grist for the mill of New York’s remarkable documentary community. Supporting Stranger Than Fiction is the best way New York Film Academy has found to thank and support all of the NYC documentary filmmakers who have contributed so much to our students’ educations,” said Andrea Swift, Chair, Documentary Department, New York Film Academy.

    This season’s memorable characters include US Senators navigating a Supreme Court confirmation in ADVISE & DISSENT; gay Orthodox Jews struggling for acceptance in TREMBLING BEFORE G-D (15th anniversary); train passengers in Albert Maysles’ final collaboration IN TRANSIT; kidnapped film stars in THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT; grandmothers living off radioactive land in THE BABUSHKAS OF CHERNOBYL; and the legendary restaurateur in FLORENT: QUEEN OF THE MEAT MARKET. Additionally, the creators of the acclaimed the FIELD OF VISION film group will present a night of new shorts.

    The STF spring season takes place at the IFC Center every Tuesday night at 7:30 for eight weeks (plus special screenings Thursdays May 19 & 26). The spring season closes on May 31. The full season schedule appears below.

    documentary now

    Stranger Than Fiction: Spring 2016 Season 7:30pm Tuesdays at IFC Center, Apr 12 – May 31

    Each show features a Q&A with the director or other special guests

    • Apr 12: Opening Night of Spring Season – DOCUMENTARY NOW! DECONSTRUCTED (2015, Q&A w/ dirs. Rhys Thomas & Alex Buono)
    • Apr 19: ADVISE & DISSENT (2012, Q&A w/ dir. David Van Taylor)
    • Apr 26: TREMBLING BEFORE G-D (2001, Q&A w/ dir. Sandi Simcha Dubowski)
    • May 3: IN TRANSIT (2015, Q&A w/ dir. Lynn True, prod Erika Dilday)
    • May 10: THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT (2016, Q&A w/ TBA)
    • May 17: THE BABUSHKAS OF CHERNOBYL (2015, Q&A w/ dir. Holly Morris)
    • May 19: FLORENT: QUEEN OF THE MEAT MARKET (2010, Q&A w/ dir. David Sigal)
    • May 24: FIELD OF VISION (2016, Q&A w/ TBA)
    • May 26: Thursday Special – PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW (2015, Q&A w/ film subject Princess Shaw)
    • May 31: Closing Night – THE WITNESS (2015, Q&A w/ dir. James Solomon)

    Tickets for Stranger Than Fiction screenings are $16 for the general public and $13 for IFC Center members. A Spring Season Pass, good for admission to all 10 events from April 12-May 31, is available for $99 ($80 for IFC members).

    To Purchase Please Visit

    April 11, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 419

  • NYFA’s Louis Fantasia to Present “Murder, Lust, & Madness” at BritWeek

    Noted Shakespeare scholar and New York Film Academy Los Angeles Dean of Faculty, Louis Fantastia, is returning to write, direct and produce Murder, Lust, & Madness, in honor of Shakespeare’s 400th and BritWeek’s 10th anniversary. BritWeek is a non–profit organization, started in Los Angeles in 2007 by Nigel Lythgoe and the then Consul General Bob Peirce, to highlight the creative relationship between the United Kingdom and California.

    louis fantasia

    Shakespeare is every actor’s first love,“ says BritWeek chairman Bob Peirce, Founder and Chairman of BritWeek “And this wickedly delicious entertainment will show why as we honor the Bard’s understanding of human nature.”

    The performance will feature an all-star cast including, Jimmy Akingbola, Ashley Bell, Eric Braeden, Adan Canto, Jane Carr, Suzan Crowley, Karen David, Neil Dickson, Joely Fisher, Judy Geeson, Michele Greene, Ioan Gruffudd, Randy Guiaya, Harry Hamlin, Lexie Helgerson, Isabella Hofmann, Stacy Keach, Jen Lee, Jack Lowe, Jim Nowakowski, Timothy Omundson, Victoria Platt, Joe Spano, Sir Patrick Stewart, Joan Van Ark, Sherry Williams, Robert Wisdom and Michael York.

    “The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death will be marked with celebrations, performances, lectures and discussions all around the Globe!” says Fantasia. “Literally, all the world is still Shakespeare’s stage, and I am thrilled that we are kicking off this tenth anniversary year of Britweek, with an evening of some of Shakespeare’s most passionate plays—OTHELLO, MACBETH, ROMEO & JULIET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM—in short, an evening of “Murder, Lust, & Madness“ in verse, prose, song and dance from William Shakespeare.“


    Mayor John Mirisch of Beverly Hills will proclaim April 23rd to be “Shakespeare 400 Day,” in the city of Beverly Hills. The show will be performed by over 28 of Hollywood’s most notable thespians at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on April 23, 2016. Media preview was held at Beverly Hills City Hall on Thursday, March 24, 2016.

    Over the past ten years, BritWeek has become a global forum that highlights British excellence and influence in films television, music, fine art, street art, fashion, cuisine, architecture, design, automotive, computer science and sport. Key events include the BritWeek UKTI Business Innovation Awards on April 27 and BritWeek’s 10th Anniversary Red Carpet Celebration, a black tie gala at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica on May 1st.

    April 6, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 575

  • Tribeca Film Festival Selects Matthew Modine’s “Super Sex”

    The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival has officially selected Super Sex for its world premiere where it will compete for Best Narrative Short. The comedy stars Kevin Nealon, Elizbeth Perkins, Efren Ramirez, Ruby Modine, and the legendary Ed Asner. Super Sex was written for the screen and directed by Matthew Modine.

    “When we began production, I wanted to involve students from the New York Film Academy,” said Modine. “Jerry Sherlock was a dear friend and nothing made him more happy than when his students were involved with successful projects. I’m thrilled Super Sex is having its world premiere in the city Jerry loved and having students from NYFA participate.”


    Pictured Above: Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Nealon | photo by Frank Masi

    Modine contacted NYFA’s CEO Jean Sherlock and Director Dan Mackler, hoping to involve students from the Academy’s “Industry Lab.” The Industry Lab is a student run production entity supervised by NYFA faculty. “The Industry Lab students had the invaluable opportunity of working with film veterans Modine and Director of Photography Julio Macat, an experience they won’t forget,” said Mackler. Julio Macat (Home Alone, Wedding Crashers, Pitch Perfect) met with the Lab and was impressed by their knowledge and the quality of equipment available to them for film production. Macat enlisted Evan Stulc of the Lab’s camera department to be his camera assistant, giving him an amazing opportunity to work with one of the leading cinematographers in the motion picture industry. “It was a fantastic experience. I learned so much about the craft working alongside a legend like Julio,” said Stulc.

    julio macat

    Pictured Above: Julio Macat | photo by Frank Masi

    Super Sex Producer, Joe Toronto interviewed NYFA students eager to work on the film. Toronto chose Mara Topic as an Associate Producer. Joann Wong, Alyssa Manno, Egor Povolotskiy, Aaron Pong, James Geyer, David Mori, and Nick Ramsey worked in the art, lighting, and editorial departments. “It was wonderful working with the NYFA students,” said Toronto. “They were helpful and enthusiastic and worked hand-in-hand with experienced professionals. I feel the best way to learn a craft is by doing—and they did!”

    Super Sex anchors the California Dreaming short film program at the Tribeca Film Festival. Tickets for the premiere on April 15 and three additional screenings are now available to purchase here:

    April 1, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2149

  • NYFA Industry Lab Creates Video for Che’Nelle’s Youtube Channel

    Che’Nelle, a Malaysian Australian recording artist, signed with Universal Music Japan with her 2015 hit single “Fierce,” and is now giving back to the community by working with the Nashville based organization Soles4Souls. The non-profit global social enterprise is committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing.


    Recently, the New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab filmed Che’Nelle’s charitable cause, donating from her own closet with the help of Los Angeles based celebrity stylist from NBC’s Fashion Star and Eva Longoria’s Ready for Love, Daniel Musto, a current member of E! Style Collective and the Costumer Designers Guild.

    The concept for the video was written by New York Film Academy alumnus Todd Lien and directed by alumna and Director of Les Femmes du Ciné (New York Film Academy’s Women’s Club) Mariana Thome.


    Other notable crew members from New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab are alumnus producer, Davin Tjen, cinematographer Alejandro Talens, and sound mixer Steve Johnson. Along with current students, gaffer Jiaqing “Vince” Ge and sound mixer Anastasia Reinhard.

    Be on the look out for the video, which should be going live soon on Che’Nelle’s Youtube Channel.

    March 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 591