Community Highlights

  • Matt Kohnen Wins Best Director at LA Indie Festival

    matt kohnen

    Matt Kohnen awarded Best Director at LA Indie Film Festival

    Most of us aren’t too fond of attending funerals, but in the case of New York Film Academy instructor Matt Kohnen’s film, The Funeral Guest, the main character, Emily, feels a connection to mourners in the emotionally raw atmosphere. Produced and co-written with his brother, Sean, Kohnen’s dark comedy has been getting terrific responses from the festival circuit. Coming off its premiere at the Shanghai Film Festival and screening at festivals in Carmel and Bahamas, The Funeral Guest recently won both Best Actress for Julianna Robinson and Best Director for Kohnen at the LA Indie Festival.

    “Initially, The Funeral Guest was not written, just a vague idea,” said Kohnen. “But we hustled up and wrote a draft in a month and helped get it financed through the Eyde company, which does real estate in Lansing, MI, where we shot. It was a small budget, and a quick prep time, but we did it; and premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival, where I went and did some work with NYFA, talking to student groups.”

    Kohnen’s first feature as a director, Wasting Away/Aaah! Zombies!! was a horror/comedy that won the Audience Award at Screamfest LA, Best Picture Midnight Extreme at Sitge International SciFi/Horror Fest, Audience Award/Best Screenplay/Best Comedy at the Zompire Genre Fest, Best Picture at the Festivus Film Festival, and has been the hit of a host of other film festivals including the well-regarded London Sci Fi Festival and Lund Fantastik Film Festival, gaining Worldwide distribution.

    Repped by Verve Agency and Writ Large Management, Kohnen has also written for producers such as the aforementioned Rob Fried and developed with a wide array of companies such as Gold Circle Films (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Spring Creek Productions (Blood Diamond), and Dark Horse Comics (Hellboy).

    With his brother Sean, he is currently working with Producer Michael Shamberg (Django Unchained, Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction) on a TV pilot set in the world of illegal arms, and has recently sold a pilot about money laundering to Universal Studios, with Omar Epps (House, Resurrection) attached.

    Next on the festival circuits for The Funeral Guest is the Capitol City Film Festival (Lansing, MI) and the Julian Dubuque Film Festival, and more to come!

    March 17, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 615

  • NYFA Hosts Exclusive Screening of “The Unknowns”

    Last week, the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Veterans Services department held an exclusive screening of the documentary “The Unknowns” in collaboration with the organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). More than 50 veterans and guests from IAVA, Wounded Warrior Project, and local community colleges joined NYFA veteran students for the screening. Following the film, NYFA Veteran Service team member and US Navy veteran, Michael Kunselman, moderated a Q&A with “The Unknowns” Producer, Ethan Morse, Director, Neal Schrodetski, and Cinematographer, Matthew Noren. Mr. Morse and Mr. Schrodetski both served as Tomb Guard sentinels during their military service.

    nyfa veteran staff

    NYFA Veterans Staff with the “The Unknowns” Director, Neal Schrodetski, Producer, Ethan Morse, and Cinematographer, Matthew Noren with representatives from IAVA (Steven Padilla)

    The documentary focuses on the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and gives an in-depth overview of the grueling selection process that soldiers undergo to obtain the prestigious honor of becoming a US Army Sentinel Tomb Guard. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—located in Arlington National Cemetery—represents the unidentified soldiers from World War I, Korean War, World War II and Vietnam who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Since 1937, Army sentinels selected for this duty are tasked with guarding the Tomb 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, regardless of weather conditions.


    Director Neal Schrodetski, Producer Ethan Morse, and Cinematographer Matthew Noren discuss the making of “The Unknowns” with the audience

    The Director, Producer, and Cinematographer of “The Unknowns” discussed the process of filming the documentary. Veterans in the audience asked panel members about their time in service as US Army Sentinels. Many attendees in the audience were fellow veterans and enjoyed learning the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    “The film really showed the detail and nuances that go into developing a soldier into a Tomb Sentinel. I really enjoyed seeing the process that the soldiers go through to guard such an important military memorial,” said Navy veteran and MFA Screenwriting student, Bartosz Tomaszewski.

    March 15, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 995

  • NYFA Industry Lab Films Latrice Royale’s Music Video

    California native, Latrice Royale, an American drag performer and reality television personality, best known for her appearances in RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 4), RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, and RuPaul’s Drag U, filmed her latest music video, Here’s To Life in collaboration with New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab current students and alumni.

    latrice royale

    Assaad Yacoub, a recent graduate from the New York Film Academy’s MFA Filmmaking feature track, and a current industry lab member, directed the music video and is well known for working with drag performers in his short turned feature Cherry Pop.

    He is also well known for tackling social issues in his films that he made at his time at the New York Film Academy such as The Wing, which recently earned an humanitarian award for outstanding achievement from the 2015 Best Shorts Competition.


    Other notable crewmembers from New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab were current students: Bogdan Yansen (DP and Editor) Vanness Hughes (1st Assistant Director), Olamide Oladimeji (Key Grip), and Joann Wong (Grip), along with alumni: Alex Lampsos (Producer), Star Li (1st Assistant Camera), Alex Tobias (Grip), and Allyson Manno (Behind-the-Scenes Photographer).

    March 8, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1034

  • NYFA Veteran MFA Student Joins We Are the Mighty

    daniel smith

    2nd from the right: Lt. Colonel Daniel Smith, NYFA Producing Student, pictured with fellow students at the WGA Writers Workshop for Veterans

    Daniel Smith, a U.S. veteran, is a producing student at the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) who recently started interning with the organization We Are the Mighty’s social media team. Internet and social media marketing and production are the alternatives for getting content and stories out to audiences. More people watch creative content on the Internet than in theaters and conventional television.

    “The Veteran’s Team at NYFA has been instrumental not only in my enrolling at NYFA but assisting in providing information on additional education opportunities such as the Writers Guild of America Veteran’s Writing Program, organizing master classes, and information about a variety of internships such as We Are The Mighty,” said Dan.

    Dan recently received an MFA in Screenwriting at NYFA and has extensive work experience in various parts of the world, serving in Special Forces and the Intelligence communities. He began his military career as a Private and left as Lieutenant Colonel. Dan is familiar with global security issues and his experience is fodder for his script material. He completed an internship with Abbott Entertainment, writing coverage for twenty-five screenplays. He also completed two screenplays, two spec scripts and a comic. Dan is currently working on a television pilot and feature film script.

    March 7, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 715

  • Adventures on the Big Screen Series at Los Angeles Campus

    nyfa los angeles

    Has this happened to you? You’re in a class, and the instructor asks, who has seen… and then they name some “classic” film.

    You’ve never seen it, but maybe you’ve heard about it. Or maybe you have seen it, but nobody else in the class has. And if you have seen it, ask yourself this, did you see it the way it was meant to be seen? In a theater, on a BIG SCREEN, with an audience?

    The best movie-going experiences gather us together in dark rooms with loved ones, friends and strangers, immersing us in the lives of characters who show us the best and worst of ourselves. Movies communally transport us to other worlds, extraordinary and ordinary, real and imagined. Great movies move us, enlighten us, and most importantly, entertain us. They make us laugh, cry and think.

    one flew over cuckoo nest

    ADVENTURES ON THE BIG SCREEN is all about great movies. Each one has been selected and will be presented by a New York Film Academy instructor. And they are all movies that anyone who wants to make movies must see!

    “Adventures on the Big Screen” series will be happening every other Monday at our NYFA Los Angeles Theater at 7:00pm.


    March 7 – Chungking Express (1994) – Directed by Wong Kar-Wai. 

    Even if all it had to offer were writer-director Wong Kar-Wai’s thrillingly distinctive visuals, this film would be well worth watching. But the thoughtfully drawn characters and naturalistic performances pack a potent dramatic punch. Presented by Mike Civille.

    March 21 (7:30 pm) – Do the Right Thing (1989) – Directed by Spike Lee. 

    One of the most important films of the 1980’s, writer-director-actor Spike Lee dives head-first into a whirlwind of social issues, all set on the hottest day of the year on one racially mixed Brooklyn block. Presented by Leander Sales, who worked on the film.

    April 4 – Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. 

    Widely regarded as the greatest movie musical of all time, this singing, dancing masterpiece also features a smart, funny screenplay set in a Hollywood transitioning from silent films to sound. Presented by Denise Carlson.

    April 18 – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) – Directed by Milos Forman. 

    Only 3 films in history have swept all 5 major Oscar categories (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress), and this is one of them. Grounded by Jack Nicholson’s phenomenal performance as a mental institution rebel, it’s a movie that celebrates freedom and the human spirit. Presented by Greg Marcks.

    May 2 – Some Like it Hot (1959) – Directed by Billy Wilder. 

    Perhaps the great American comedy, this hilarious, cross-dressing satire features incomparable writing, direction and cast – Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. Presented by James Rowe.

    March 4, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 793

  • NYFA Veterans Movie Night: “Everest”

    It’s a Friday night, and the smell of pizza fills the corridors of the fourth floor at the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) Los Angeles campus. In NYFA’s state of the art facilities, laughter is shared amongst the veteran students, as they gather to watch a screening of the movie Everest (2015), an American-British film directed by Baltasar Kormákur. “This feels like I’m back in the military,” stated Nicholas Hagen, US Navy veteran and BFA Filmmaking student, describing what it felt like to come together with fellow student veterans.

    The film sets in 1996 where climbers from two commercial expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. With little warning, a violent storm strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. Challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable, the teams must endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures in an epic battle to survive against nearly impossible odds. The film was chosen as it portrays an exceptional example of survival, teamwork and selflessness, which are just some of the core ethos amongst service members.

    The event was facilitated and hosted by the NYFA Veterans Services team in order boost camaraderie amongst NYFA veterans, and foster the creation of a unique bond with one another. With the veteran students being a very diverse cohort in the NYFA community, and some of them being hundreds of miles away from friends and family, the screening provided a sense of a “home away from home” and familiarity to all those veterans who attended.

    -Jhonson Simeon

    March 3, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 796

  • NYFA South Beach Introduces The Movement Club

    Founded at the New York Film Academy South Beach, The Movement Club is an outreach organization of students whose purpose is to spread light through the “healing art of acting.”

    Their most recent event, Unzipped, which took place at 360 spaces in Wynwood on February 18th, 2016, was a wonderful venue to introduce both NYFA and the Movement Club to the South Beach area.

    movement club

    “The ability to have the freedom to execute such a brave request is proof that NYFA is building solid and sound artists that have trust and faith in their abilities and a grounded purpose beyond themselves,” said NYFA’s Susie Taylor.

    After students complete a session of Taylor’s movement technique (S.M.U.R.F.) they are given the opportunity to join the Movement Club. The S.M.U.R.F. Technique stands for Story-Movement-Understanding-Rewriting and Future.

    The concept is to take what they have learned about themselves and their classmates out to the community and continue to evolve as artists through our outreach work based on love and kindness towards each other.

    NYFA South Beach is excited to continue this effort for its acting students to explore, develop and execute the passion of the Healing Art of Acting.

    If you’re interested in the performing arts programs at the New York Film Academy South Beach, please visit

    March 3, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 1321

  • NYFA Australia Sydney’s Ben Osmo Wins Oscar for Best Sound Mixing

    ben osmo

    Coming in with a “technical” knockout in last night’s 88th Academy Awards was Mad Max: Fury Road, winning six behind-the-scenes Oscars. The groundbreaking visuals and sound from the production paved the way for its momentous evening, which included New York Film Academy Australia, Sydney Instructor Ben Osmo, who won an Oscar for Best Sound Mixing.

    ben osmo

    The acclaimed film, shot in both Namibia and parts of Australia, is about a woman who rebels against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max. Director George Miller put together quite an impressive cast and crew in this critically and financially successful sci-fi adventure.

    Passing on that successful production experience to our students will be none other than Instructor Osmo, who teaches hands-on production and sound workshops, which take our students out of the classroom and directly onto a real set environment.

    ben osmo

    We’re so proud of Mr. Osmo and would like to congratulate him on his Oscar win!

    February 29, 2016 • Community Highlights, Entertainment Australia, Filmmaking • Views: 4072

  • NYFA Works with Pan African Film & Arts Festival

    In celebration of Black History month, the New York Film Academy Industry Lab partnered with the Diversity department with the 24th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles from February 4th -15th. Established in 1992, PAFF is a non-profit 501 (c)(b) corporation dedicated to the promotion of cultural understanding among people of African descent and is dedicated to racial tolerance through the exhibition of film, art and creative expression.

    pan african

    Ardrian Newell, a current documentary student at New York Film Academy, Maram Al Joaser, a recent graduate from the Masters of Cinematography program, and Allyson Manno, a graduate from New York Film Academy’s Masters in Filmmaking program, all industry lab members, got the opportunity to work three of the screenings and panels.

    The first panel was a conversation with Nate Parker about his directorial debut feature film The Birth of a Nation. In addition to directing, Nate played the starring role in this Biopic about Nat Turner and his famous slave revolt in Northern Virginia. The film garnered much buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before being purchased by Fox Searchlight.

    The second panel followed a screening of Oscar nominated film Creed director/screenwriter Ryan Coogler and screenwriter Aaron Covington. They discussed at length their motivations and inspirations for making the film and Coogler’s quick rise as a powerful voice in Hollywood as an acclaimed filmmaker.

    creed cam

    The third panel followed a screening of the documentary feature by Abby Ginzber and Frank Dawson, Agents of Change, which tells the story of the unrecognized individuals whose commitment to justice and equality paved the way for the student activists of today. The film, which is the centerpiece of this year’s PAFF, acts as a reminder of all that was done to achieve equality, dignity, and equity on education campuses as well as paving the way for societal reform in America, during the 1960’s and beyond.

    The New York Film Academy is proud to collaborate with this year’s PAFF in bringing diverse voices to the public conversation and look to expand our collaboration in the future.

    February 26, 2016 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 597

  • NYFA Documentary Adviser’s Short Up for an Oscar

    geof bartz

    Geof Bartz (Imdb image)

    Geof Bartz, New York Film Academy Documentary Master Class instructor and curriculum adviser (and Supervising Editor of HBO’s Documentary Department), is up for yet another Oscar this year! You may remember that Veterans Dial 1, the film Geof edited last year, won. This time he’s nominated for his editing work on Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s A GIRL IN THE RIVER: The Price of Forgivenes (Documentary Short category).

    Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s A GIRL IN THE RIVER: The Price of Forgiveness chronicles the story of a 19-year-old Pakistani woman, Saba Qaiser, who was shot in the face and thrown in a river by her father and uncle for marrying against their wishes.  But Saba survived, only to face another challenge: how to bring justice to her attackers in a legal system that allows “honor killers” to be “forgiven” and set free.

    More than 5,000 women are the victims of such honor killings worldwide each year. Sharmeen’s movie has already begun to draw the attention of critics in the US, including Nicholas Kristof’s piece in the NY Times last month.

    TRAILER – A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness from Sharmeen Obaid Films on Vimeo.
    And Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised to push his parliament to amend honor killing laws because of pressure brought by the nomination of Sharmeen’s film.

    A GIRL IN THE RIVER:The Price of Forgiveness will premiere on HBO and be available on HBO GO in early March. Meanwhile, you can check out the Oscars this weekend and see how it fares against four other terrific short documentaries!

    February 25, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1814