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  • Much-Buzzed Doc Killer Bees is Lensed by New York Film Academy Instructor John Foster

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography Instructor John Foster lensed feature-length sports documentary Killer Bees, which The New York Times raves is “…engaging and humane storytelling that uses the drama of basketball to tell a deeper story about race, class, and the excitement and heartache of young lives careening toward adulthood.”

    The film traces the legacy of Bridgehampton High School’s all-star basketball team, the Killer Bees; championship winners that have united their community for decades. Yet it’s all under increasing threat, as the socio economic divide between wealthy vacationers and diverse working-class community continues to grow.

    Produced by a team that includes legendary NBA star and NYFA alum Shaquille O’Neal, the film is directed by Bridgehampton natives Ben and Orson Cummings. The directors are quoted in  The Hollywood Reporter as saying, “Having grown up in Bridgehampton, we’re honored to release a film that reveals another side of our hometown, known to most as the Hamptons. Releasing this film with Shaquille O’Neal as a producer has given an amazing boost to our mission to garner recognition for this legendary basketball program that provides meaning and hope for a community under siege from the threats of racism, gentrification and income inequality.”

    A faculty member at NYFA’s New York City campus, John Foster is credited as the cinematographer on 37 films — including 1997 Sundance Film Festival favorite Sunday. With Killer Bees, he continues to forge a career packed with hard-hitting documentaries that tackle timely social and economic issues, from the legacy of Brown v. The Board of Education to the genocide in Darfur.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates John Foster on his impeccable work!

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  • “On the Other Side of the Wall” With Elizabeth Grimaldo

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    Elizabeth Grimaldo was already a household name in her native Panama when she came to study Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy, but since then her career has truly crossed international borders. Now based in Miami, the singer/songwriter and actress recently made her U.S. television debut on Telemundo NBC ’s Al Otro Lado Del Muro, tackling an intense storyline involving immigration, human trafficking, and unbreakable family love.

    Here, Elizabeth shares a bit of her amazing story with the NYFA Blog.

    Feliz Miercoles🌵🤗 📸: @mauricionovoaofficial

    A post shared by Elizabeth Grimaldo 🌻 (@lizagrimaldo) on

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    EG: I’ve been on TV since I was 12 years old as a singer, which is also my profession. It started in a national singing contest for kids (Canta Conmigo), which opened so many doors for my career in Panama. At the age of 15, I started acting in my first soap opera as the main character, and it was an amazing experience. My next big project, at the age of 18, was Romeo and Juliet the Musical as Juliet, at the national theater of Panama City. That was a dream come true, to perform there.

    That play turned on my hunger for the performing arts, and I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to this field. One month after the play finished, I went straight to the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us? Or did anything about your program particularly surprise and challenge you?

    EG: Many things were challenging. Acting is hard work, and not many people understand what it really takes to build a character who is nothing like you and convince an audience that it’s “real.”

    I remember one of my coaches, Michael, used to challenge me a lot — which I am grateful for, because I admire him as a person and professional. He was so passionate in every class, every detail, and most important, he wanted us to do what it takes to be great. He cared and wanted us to succeed. He told us once, “Imagine all the secrets that someone would need to know about you to play you perfectly.”

    That was the most challenging part for me, because I realized in that moment how far I was from knowing my character. I realized what it takes to do the job. It’s not acting; its life, and a lot of research.

    NYFA: Before coming to NYFA, you acted in Panama’s Summer Dreams. How has your process changed regarding performing, since your studies and other experiences in Miami?

    EG: It’s totally different. I started to act without having studied acting. Now that I have studied acting (which you never stop doing), I wish I could go back and do it again with what I know now. It’s been a satisfying and fun process.

    NYFA: For our international student community, can you offer any advice on studying in the U.S.? Can you tell us a little bit about your experience of coming from Panama to NYFA Los angeles?

    EG: It was the best decision of my life. It’s hard yes, but it’s so worth it.

    I know it’s scary to leave home and pursue a dream by yourself out there, but let me tell you something: it’s going to change your life in so many positive ways! I accept that I felt overwhelmed many times missing home and feeling lonely, but all those situations that I went through back then in Los Angeles made me the strong, independent, and passionate woman that I am today.

    NYFA made me grow as a professional and a human being. I learned so many things and I am grateful and happy for it.

    NYFA: How did your experience on Canta Conmigo come about? What was it like achieving second place?

    EG: It was amazing. It changed my life, basically. So many doors opened for me after. Since then my career in Panama has been accepted and successful, thanks Gob and to the people that has been supporting me since the beginning. I feel blessed that I have been able to represent my country in the U.S. and make them proud.

    NYFA: As a singer and musician, what most inspires your work?

    EG: I could say experiences, in every sense of word, which led me to start writing songs. It’s funny because that process started when I was at NYFA living by myself for the first time. I wrote my first songs back then.

    I use to think I couldn’t write lyrics, but I was wrong. Experiences are necessary to tell stories from the heart.

    But what inspires me the most is my mom. She is my drive, the one who encouraged me to do this and helped me in everything. She believed in me since I was three years old and sang for the first time, Cucurrucucu Paloma. Everything I do is dedicated to her.

    NYFA: Can you tell us how your work with Telemundo came about, and a bit about your character?

    EG: This February I had my debut on American television in the Telemundo NBC series Al Otro Lado Del Muro, which means “the other side of the wall.” I still don’t have words to express how happy I am for this opportunity. It was an honor to work with renowned actors such as Gabriel Porras, Litzy Martinez, Marjorie De Sousa and Adriana Barraza, the Oscar nominee for the movie Babel, who was my coach here in Miami at her school Adriana Barraza Black Box. Being able to work with Adriana on my first job was a dream come true.

    The series talks about immigrants and their different stories. My character is Raquel Aranda, a Salvadoran immigrant who arrives in the U.S., running from the human trafficking. Later, she is separated from her family and unjustly deported to Mexico. She tries to cross the border, again facing dangers in order to be with her family and her one-month old child.

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  • A Golden Age, Agence France-Presse in Brazil, WNHT in Connecticut, and More with New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    Inevitably, when I am introduced as the Chair of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism department, I’ll be asked whether broadcast journalism is in fact “relevant” anymore. There are so many digital alternatives these days that traditional “linear” television is obviously in decline. Recently, Streaming Media — a trade industry conference — posted a story attesting to current trends.
    Yet this is precisely why the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program is skills-based. We teach our students to become electronic content creators, multimedia journalists (MMJs). In fact, it was a traditional broadcast network (NBC) that approached NYFA about starting the journalism program. (The trend was obvious a decade ago.) And while many of our graduates work at local TV stations and national networks, an equal or larger number of them are at non-traditional outlets.
    The New York Times is thought of as a “newspaper.” Yet far more people subscribe to their digital edition than read the print version. And video is at the heart of their digital presence.
    There are also entirely new players, such as Now This. They started with a straightforward premise: people increasingly get their news on their smart phones, so they created a service tailored to that group. Now This traces its beginnings to The Huffington Post, a first-generation online news provider.
    When the HuffPost moved into video, they followed the example of cable news network MSNBC. It was a mistake. While MSNBC thrives on cable, HuffPost TV languished and died in the digital marketplace. (BTW, the Fall 2018 1-year Broadcast Journalism students will be visiting MSNBC in October…)
    This is, in fact, a “golden era” for broadcast journalism. The digital marketplace loves short-form, non-fiction video. NYFA Broadcast Journalism grads create short-form, non-fiction video.
    NYFA alum Suzane de Oliveira works for Agence France-Presse in Brazil, where she writes, narrates, and edits online news stories. Recently she put together a story about Marina Silva and her third attempt to be elected president of Brazil. It is a great story to watch because the field producer apparently gave Suzane little if any cover footage (b-roll) to work with. Talk about being resourceful!
    NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate Alyssa Taglia is being seen on-air (and on-line) more and more at WNHT in Connecticut. That includes doing “live shots,” which is the ultimate test for a field reporter. You’re going “straight to air,” so there is no margin for error. I love her recent story about a group of visiting Israeli teens who, along with local teens, painted a “welcome refugees” banner big enough for drivers on an Interstate highway to see…

    Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, NYFA grad and always photogenic Bryanna Reynolds continues to shake up the Australian media scene, and seems to be having a great time doing it. (That’s her on the left, with her sister, in the picture below.)

    🎭 ACT I of the @helpmann_awards … A lovely evening celebrating so many wonderfully talented people 👏 Coming up tonight is ACT II which includes the red carpet where I will be reporting 🎤 Plus performances from some of Australia’s 🎶 hit musicals! 📷: @larajanephotography Special thank you to ABPublicity and Bohemian Rhapsody Club and Magazine for the invite to cover this event 💗


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  • Documentarian Amy Rice Presents “By The People” to New York Film Academy Students

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    This July, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments presented a screening of By the People: The Election of Barack Obama followed by a Q&A with director Amy Rice. The discussion was moderated by Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift

    Producing Chair Neal Weisman, Director Amy Rice, and Documentary Chair Andrea Swift.

    The nearly two-hour film documents the years leading up to the election of Barack Obama. Rice gives viewers an inside look into Obama’s evolution from little-known Illinois Senator to symbol of change for a generation.

    Calling it one of her favorite documentaries, Rice was greatly influenced by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s The War Room, about Bill Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992. By the People premiered in August of 2009 on HBO, and last week’s screening gave younger students a look at how the 2008 election differed from recent elections.

    Rice began her career as a cinematographer, working with her eventual co-director on By the People, Alicia Sams. The documentarian talked about the appeal of this type filmmaking, saying, “There was something very organic about documentary. Just pick up your camera and go shoot and follow the story as it’s unfolding in front of you.” 

    "By the People" director Amy Rice

    By the People director Amy Rice.

    After her other brother told her about Obama before he was well-known, Rice watched his speeches and read his book, Dreams from My Father. “I was just naturally obsessed with his story,” she says.

    Her and her team used a trip to Africa during a congressional delegation trip as a testing ground. From there, the film follows the lead-up to the 2008 election and Obama’s transition from presidential long shot to favorite. Rice discussed the difficulties that began to arise as the presidential candidate’s popularity increased. For instance, at one point the film crew was unable to use a boom mic due to secret service safety concerns. Rice pointed out another instance deep into the campaign where security tried to stop her from filming: “I looked so horrified that he was trying to stop me from getting my final shot.” 

    The filmmaker also dropped some words of wisdom on the students throughout the course of the discussion. One thing she stressed was to “always say ‘yes’ to all film opportunities.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Amy Rice for her time and the illuminating discussion with the Producing and Documentary Filmmaking departments.

    Watch the trailer below and/or purchase the film here.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Outreach Partners with Actors for Autism

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    The New York Film Academy-Los Angeles recently partnered with Actors for Autism (AFA), providing “hands-on,” college-level filmmaking courses as an extension of the AFA filmmaking program where students write, shoot and edit their own films. Speaking about the collaboration, NYFA’s Chair of Community Outreach, Mason Richards, said “At NYFA we believe that diversity in the film industry goes beyond race and gender, it also includes ability among other things. And we are wholly mindful about training and creating opportunities for people on the spectrum along with other underrepresented groups. The students were amazing.”NYFA and Actors for Autism

    Actors for Autism is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement, education, and training of people on the autistic spectrum by providing new and innovative programs in the Arts, Film & Television, Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Game Industries. According to their mission statement, Actors for Autism believes that people on the autistic spectrum should live as integrated members of society. Inclusion should be a reality, not a dream. For the last 15 years, AFA has been a pioneer in developing new and innovative programs, providing media & technology training that assists their students in finding employment after they complete their education. There are a variety of companies that have partnered with AFA to provide their students internships and job opportunities. 

    The young AFA filmmakers shot scenes from their short films on NYFA-Los Angeles in-house sound stages in Burbank, and on the Universal Backlot. In addition, they also did ADR and post-production at NYFA with instructors Huch Platt and John Briscoe. Liz Fenning, Program Supervisor at Actors for Autism added, “To our students, it meant everything to them to make films with NYFA, and to have NYFA’s caring faculty and staff support them, as they got to live out their dreams working with high-quality equipment shooting on a studio lot. There is no measure for the joy it brought to them.​”

    ​Fenning continued, “Not only did we notice distinct changes in the students’ technical knowhow, but more importantly, we noticed that they were better able to trust their instincts and pursue their passions with greater confidence. Essentially, it allowed our students to take the leap from viewing themselves as students of film, to directors, screenwriters, and talent.”

    Once the students completed the semester-long filmmaking program, NYFA hosted a private screening for friends, families, and supporters of the young filmmakers at the NYFA theater. Actor and AFA supporter Jack Dylan Grazer, who recently starred as Eddie in the Stephen King adaptation It and will be appearing in the superhero film Shazam, showed his support by attending the screening, and was very impressed by the student films.

    NYFA and Actors for AutismAbout Grazer’s involvement, Fenning stated, “Jack Dylan Grazer has been an incredible supporter of our program. It meant the world to the students, that a young and accomplished cinema artist, would take his very limited time to show support and appreciation of their work. For him to be present at the ceremony at NYFA left them speechless — truly, to have a peer in the industry take the time to celebrate their work has made an indeliable mark on them.”

    Since receiving their Certificates of Completion from NYFA-Los Angeles, two of the student filmmakers so far have gained employment at local production companies, while others are interviewing and still looking for employment.

    ​“We cannot thank NYFA enough for this partnership. With this program, NYFA truly demonstrates what it means to be a leader in the Los Angeles film community. For our students, they have provided a life changing experience. We are beyond grateful for NYFA’s generosity, and are awed by its heart for this population of artists, so often overlooked by the film community at large.​”

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    July 26, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Community Highlights, Diversity, Outreach • Views: 394

  • NYFA Alumni (& Brothers) Maan & Talha Bin Abdulrahman Are Saudi Film Trailblazers

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    Five of the nine films premiered by Saudi Arabia at Cannes this year featured the work of NYFA students and alumni, including brothers and fellow BFA Filmmaking graduates Maan Bin Abdulrahman, producer, and Talha Bin Abdulrahman, director. Together, the brothers founded Prince of Arabia Entertainment, and have helmed an impressive series of award-winning projects.


    Talha’s NYFA thesis film, The Scapegoat, screened at the 14th Dubai International Film Festival as well as the second annual Young Saudi Film Festival, Irvine International Film Festival, Orlando Film Festival, San Antonio Film Festival, and Chandler Film Festival.

    At Cannes, the brothers presented Film School Musical, which they co-directed. Winning over critics and audiences alike, the musical short won the Best Shorts Competition at the Hollywood Comedy Shorts Film Festival as well as the Jury Prize for Best Musical and Best Cinematography, garnering numerous festival award nominations along the way.

    Additional film credits include Under the Concrete (Winner: Qomrah 2), Served Cold (ShortsTV, Winner: 2014 Student Filmmaker Awards Film Festival), and Not This Way (Winner – Golden palm in Dammam Film festival).

    We’re exciting to see the next steps these brothers take in both the Saudi and international film industry.

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  • Eurasia International Film Festival (EIFF) Welcomes the New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was honored to participate in the Eurasia International Film Festival this July in Astana, Kazakhstan, as a VIP guest on the red carpet and beyond.

    Established in 1998 and accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers (FIAPF), the Eurasia International Film Festival is Central Asia’s most prestigious film forum. The event focuses on fostering and celebrating collaborations between European and Asian film industries, all while supporting Kazakhstan’s current and future filmmakers.

    As a distinguished guest, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Jim Miller represented NYFA in the prestigious event’s competitive Project Market program, as well as heading the PitchFest jury.

    To support the development of new works, Eurasia International Film Festival’s Project Market offers filmmakers, producers, distributors, and production companies an opportunity to form partnerships, shop films, and do business. This year’s Project Market was a smashing success, connecting filmmakers with diverse international institutions including Syndicado (Canada), Film Republic (Great Britain), Alpha Violet (France), Filmotor (Czech Republic), Juben Pictures (China), IRIB MEDIA TRADE (Iran), Festagent (Russia); and Kazakh film companies Kazakhfilm, Sataifilm, Nurtas Production, Bissembin Film and MG Production, for presentations, panels, master classes, and more,

    A crowning jewel of 2018’s Project Market was the PitchFest competition. Out of 31 project submissions, 10 films from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan were selected to compete for four top prizes. The most sought-after prize? Two full tuition scholarships to the New York Film Academy.

    NYFA Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Jim Miller spearheaded the PitchFest jury, working alongside premiere filmmakers, writers, directors, film critics, editors, journalists, documentarians, distribution executives, and producers. These industry experts hailed from the film industries of Kazakhstan, Russia, Singapore, Israel, and the U.S. Together, they selected four winners, with the two grand prize winners receiving scholarships to the New York Film Academy’s New York and Los Angeles campuses.

    The NYFA scholarships were awarded to Kazakh filmmaker Amir Amenov (Ystyk kun, salkyn sira/Hot Nights, Cold Beer), and Kyrgyz filmmaker Dalmira Tilepbergen (Lonely Pine).

    Celebrities from around the world, including César Award-winning actor Vincent Cassel (France) and two-time Palme d’Or-winning director Emir Kusturica (Serbia), attended the Eurasia International Film Festival’s climactic red carpet event and award ceremony, along with many special VIP guests. The award ceremony featured world-class performances for an enthusiastic audience of over 5,000.

    The New York Film Academy thanks the Eurasia International Film Festival, and its President Aiman Massakhajayeva, for the honor of participating.

    Massakhajayeva is the National Artist of the Republic of Kazakhstan, an honorary UNESCO Artist of Peace, and the Rector of Kazakh National University of Arts (KazNUA) — with whom NYFA recently established a partnership. This fall, the NYFA Los Angeles campus will welcome six KazNUA students through this cooperative agreement.

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  • Broadcast Journalism Summer School, Wind Summer Festival, and Invisible Love From the New York Film Academy

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    Summer is well underway here in New York City, and that means the NYFA Broadcast Journalism Summer Session is in full swing too. Once again this year, we have students from seemingly everywhere: Abu Dhabi, Brazil, Connecticut, Uzbekistan, and Washington, D.C.! Below is the “Official Unofficial Class Picture.”
    On Saturday, the group was outdoors practicing their shooting technique. (Which was good, seeing as today they are shooting their first project!) Our students work with Canon C300 cameras, which are better than the equipment many TV stations actually use. Battery Park, located right across the street from NYFA, is a great location to shoot. Especially on a lovely Summer day.
    Trust me, as serious as the folks in the picture below look, the short-term workshops really are fun. (NYFA grads reading this email can back me upon this…)
    Speaking of having fun …
    NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Chiara Carcano is one of the hosts of the Wind Summer Festival, a combination performance series and singing contest seen on Canale 5 and heard on the Radio 105 network in Italy. (The skills you learn at NYFA don’t always lead to newsroom careers — they can be used in a variety of ways!) This is also an example of how English remains the linqua franca for many international cultural events.
    As most of you reading this know, I have spent my professional career creating non-fiction video. But that has changed, as I’m now part of the creative team producing an independent feature film called Invisible Love. In fact, I am an executive producer. (Nothing like starting at the top…) A China/Vietnam/U.S. co-production, I got involved thanks to the work I did in China last year for my soon-to-be-released documentary Shanghai: 1937. I have to say, it’s exciting to see my name on a movie poster.
    That poster makes it clear this is a drama. The story takes place in what was then called French Indochina, during the 1930s.
    NYFA Acting for Film grad Kazy Tauginas has been cast in a major role. He plays an American doctor haunted by his troubled past, whose involvement with a Vietnamese nurse leads to tragedy. (You can see Kazy in the new Denzel Washington film The Equalizer 2.)
    The Invisible Love team had a booth at the film market associated with the just completed Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF). We’re looking for theatrical presentation in China and Vietnam, as well as international theatrical and TV distribution.
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  • RBG, Shot by New York Film Academy Documentary Professor Claudia Raschke, Is Box Office Hit

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    This year’s breakout documentary, RBG, shot by Director of Photography and NYFA Documentary Department Cinematography Instructor Claudia Racshke, tells the story of Supreme Court Justice and surprise millennial icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg (aka “The Notorious RBG”), The Flatbush, Brooklyn-born Justice was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1992, becoming only the second female to serve at the highest federal court in the United States.

    When the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, we highlighted Claudia on the NYFA blog, and Filmmaker magazine also featured an interview. Sundance and American Cinematographer spotlighted her on their “Women Who Shoot” panel. MovieMaker magazine also ran an article exploring her equipment preferences.

    RBG NYFA

    RBG 

    And why not? Claudia’s previous work has already been nominated for Academy Awards four times, and has won a Peabody, a DuPont, and a National Board of Review Award, among many others. She has worked on such acclaimed documentaries as My Architect, about Louis Kahn, Mad Hot Ballroom, which focuses on a New York dance program, and Small Wonders, which documents a music teacher in East Harlem.

    On its opening weekend, RBG scored the second-highest-per-screen average at the box office, second only to Avengers Infinity War. The film has also earned a 93 percent Fresh rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It then spent the next three weeks among the Top 10 overall Box Office earners, holding its own in the company of blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War, Ocean’s Eight, Black Panther, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool 2, and A Quiet Place.

    Claudia Raschke with Ruth Bader Ginsberg

    Claudia Raschke with Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Photo provided by Claudia Raschke.

    RBG has also already worked its way amongst the 25 highest-earning documentaries in history, and its run is far from over. NYFA would like to congratulate its Documentary instructor Claudia Racshke on her impressive work on an already important film. You can watch the official trailer below.

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