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  • Loveratri, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, Arya Babber and More From New York Film Academy Mumbai Alumni & Guest Speakers

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    Since opening its doors in May 2017, NYFA Mumbai has seen an incredible year filled with student successes, insightful guest speakers, special master classes, and powerful storytelling. If you’re a film buff, whether you’re in the capital of Bollywood or simply streaming movies from anywhere in the world, you won’t want to miss what’s been happening at NYFA Mumbai.

    Check out these alumni success stories, as well as some of the luminaries that have visited our newest campus this year as Guest Speakers to share their advice with NYFA Mumbai students.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Sana Saeed

    TODAYYY ❤️ @newyorkfilmacademy #NYFAMumbai #letstogethermakethisyearcount

    A post shared by Sana Saeed (@sanaofficial) on

    It’s always a special occasion when a NYFA alum returns to their alma mater as a Guest Speaker, and NYFA Mumbai recently welcomed NYFA Acting for Film alum and child star Sana Saeed. Sharing a joyous evening with a packed house of students, Saeed spoke especially to the new class of NYFA Mumbai teen camp attendees in sharing her experiences as a child actor in Bollywood.

    As a child, Saeed played megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter in the romantic epic Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and was re-cast by same director Karan Johar 20 years later!

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Arya Babbar

    Noted actor Arya Babber is currently studying at NYFA Mumbai, taking a Filmmaking course to expand his already impressive repertoire. Well known in Punjabi film industry, Babber was nominated as the Most Promising Newcomer in 2002.

    Babber has also had crossover success in Bollywood, where he is one of the best known Punjabi actors; he has acted in 25 feature films in 16 years. So far, he’s been very open on social media about how much he is loving his time at NYFA Mumbai.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty


    Founder, Director at Opticus INC, recent NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty has over two decades of experience as a director at Ad-Films. During his time at Ad-Films, Shetty was a finalist at the Cannes Lions Festival, one of the most prominent and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. He has been recognized for his work at Promax-Asia Advertising Awards & Goa Abbey Awards.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya


    With over 17 years of experience as a producer, from feature films to ads, for the past eight years NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya has executive-produced such Bollywood hits as Love Story 2050, 1920 London, and TV series 24:India. As a producer, he has worked all over India and internationally, from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Bangkok to Dubai, Paris, Switzerland, and much more.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Tharun Bhascker


    NYFA alum Tharun Bhascker attended NYFA’s intensive 4-week Filmmaking Program in Mumbai in 2011, even before NYFA established its permanent campus at the Urmi Estate. He’s recently directed his second feature hit, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, which follows the major success of his first feature, #Pellichoopulu.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre


    NYFA Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre is an Acting for Film, Filmmaking, and Screenwriting New York Film Academy alumnus. He is best known for for Baahubali: The Beginning, and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, where he played Setu Patti, and Vedam.

    Bahubali 2: The Conclusion was released in April 2017 and quickly became the highest-grossing film in India, grossing $82.8 million in five days.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Seher Latif


    Seher Latif is a Casting Director and CSA member who has had success in both the American and Indian film industries. Her credits include Zero Dark Thirty, Furious 7, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Eat Pray Love. Her Bollywood credits include The Lunch Box, and Monsoon Shootout.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Warina Hussain


    Warina Hussain is a model and actress of Afghani-Iraqi descent, who attended the New York Film Academy’s Mumbai campus in 2017 to study Acting for Film. She is currently filming the lead role in Salman Khan’s Loverati, in which she will star alongside Khan’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma, in his acting debut.

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  • New York Film Academy Photography Alumni Partners Photograph Swedish Star Jasmine Kara

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    When you’re starting your own photography business, few things are as exciting as those first few high profile gigs. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography alumni and teaching assistants Stephany Viera Fernandez and Neil Camposuelo recently celebrated this landmark, during a promotional shoot with Swedish singer and songwriter Jasmine Kara.

    To celebrate and share their success, Stephany and Neil have offered the NYFA blog a sneak peek behind the scenes.

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

    Steph & Neil: Coming from two different parts of the world where photography is not as broad, unlike here in New York, one of the main reasons was to be able to keep growing and to build confidence — not just as a photographer, but also as a complete artist. We attended NYFA in different school years, but we both felt this school is the best avenue to do so.

    We wanted to be surrounded with talented and motivated people who shared the same passion as us. Along with the great faculty and other amazing students, being with them daily and continually creating work opened a whole new domain of ideas and philosophies on how we view the industry that is ahead of us.

    NYFA: Why photography? What inspires you about this medium?

    Steph & Neil: What is really astounding about photography is how you can be able to create your own world, but also at the same time you can capture the world right in front of you.

    There are so many ways you can maximize the use of this medium. Also, the power of one frame and the longevity of preserving that one frame can influence not just the present but also years to come. It is like a relationship also; it builds up gradually, and requires understanding between you and the medium to obtain the peak of mastery.  

    NYFA: How did you two connect as collaborators?

    Neil: After I finished my stint as a student here in NYFA, I applied to work as a TA last year, which eventually made Steph my colleague. That was when I got to know more about Steph and her work. I saw we had the same passion and motivation to succeed, and that was when I proposed the idea to her to work as a photographer duo.

    Steph & Neil: We knew it would be a good idea because we both have different cultural backgrounds and expertise; the dynamic between us is very good. Working with two brains and bodies can get more work done, and we are able to experiment with contrasting ideas and putting everything together cohesively. We both have trust, and along the way we help each other grow as we fill in our individual differences, strengths, and weaknesses.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying (and/or working as a TA) with us?

    Steph: For me, it was when I met all the teachers here in NYFA. I was really in awe of the load of talent and knowledge that they all have. It gives me the drive every day to potentially reach the same level.

    As for working as a TA, it is like being a student all over again. I continuously go along with the classes and I also experience in real time how fast photography changes in terms of style and techniques. That helps me to always have a different outlook and an open mind whenever I approach our own work.

    Neil: Just like what Steph said, my favorite moment here in NYFA is also the opportunity to meet all the teachers, to have a conversation with them and basically to learn from them every day. It is really a blessing to have such a group of people this great, because it helps me to stay humble, work harder, and keep track of my vision — our vision as a photographer duo.

    It is also great to work as a TA here at school because it gives you a sense of responsibility. I consider it a noble profession to be a part of student development, in terms of their career and life, to be able to help them, as well as guide them to be great on what they want to pursue.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your recent shoot with Jasmine Kara? How did this collaboration come about, and any inspiration or details you can share?

    Steph & Neil: We will be doing a cover for her upcoming single that will be released into three different languages (English, Spanish, Persian) this August. We cannot really tell yet the full detail of the single, but it is about how we can carry on in life with all the negativity and problems through laughter.

    The concept we are planning to do is a mix of humor and inspirations from Greek sculptures, work from photographers like Roger Ballen and Chris Buck, and relating it to the music video of Jasmine Kara’s single. Our main idea is having our own take of humor in a contemporary art approach, as we are trying to blend in the mood of the song but still remaining grounded in the style of our work as a photographer duo.

    NYFA: When photographing a star like Kara, how do you prepare? 

    Steph & Neil: This kind of opportunity do not come every day. So, when we knew we would have the chance to do a shoot with her, we started doing our pre-production plan.

    We had at least one-and-a-half weeks and to prepare, and even though it was a short period of time, this is one of the advantages of working as a photographer duo; we’re able to accomplish more and finish on time.

    Plus, [we did] a lot of research also. It is important to get to know the subject, her personality, and her background history as a singer. We had a couple of meetings with her, talking about the ideas for the shoot and making sure everything was according to plan.

    NYFA: What is your must-have piece of photography equipment, or your must-do ritual when preparing for a shoot?

    Steph & Neil: We never forget to have a scrim-jim on our equipment list every time we shoot. It is a very versatile diffusion, and helps soften and tone the light. This is like the signature look we have on most of our work.

    And for a must-do ritual, we love to eat before and even after a shoot! We always double-check everything also from the pre-production and the equipment we are using to avoid mishaps.

    NYFA: What’s your advice to students interested in photographing on the pop and music scene?

    Steph & Neil: For us, it’s not just about photographing on the pop and music scene. In general, our advice is that students should continue to grasp anything they can learn. Continue reading books, watching movies, talking to people. In the future, this will be an accumulation of knowledge and experiences that they can apply to their work. They should not be afraid of experimenting, breaking the rules of photography, risking ideas. In this era of photography where everything has been done already, students should be able to create ways to improve these latter ideas into something new and contemporary.

    On the other hand, students must still respect and give credit to the history of photography, the art of it, and take time to understand how we got here to this point — especially in the level of creativity.

    Lastly, we would like to share this quote with everyone. This is a mantra for us working as a photographer duo: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” We both believe that we make our own luck, that we should have to work for it, and just keep creating beautiful images.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you’re doing now?

    Steph & Neil: Absolutely, NYFA was like our training ground and a big part of the foundation of who we are now as an artists and photographers.

    Coming here to New York City and to this school with no prior professional experience, it did help bring out the best in us. The school gave us not just the tools but also the mental preparation to face the reality of this industry.

    Thank you and congratulations to Stephany and Neil!

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  • Good Morning Connecticut, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Cannes From the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    So another week, and another item about Snapchat … No, I am not obsessed with the digital platform. But if you look at the image below, you’ll notice that a wide range of content publishers are.
    As reported by Digiday, Snap — the parent company of Snapchat — has hired veteran digital executive Sarah Gallagher to coordinate communication between Snapchat and the growing number of news and non-fiction content creators that rely on the digital distribution service. Why are major legacy media outlets anxious to distribute their content via Snapchat? Because people my age watch TV, and people your age (well, the age of the majority of people reading this) use apps.
    At NYFA, we offer a skills-based Broadcast Journalism program because there are certain key skills you need to know in a world that includes both broadcasting and narrowcasting.
    Traffic is moving in the other direction as well, with well-known broadcast outlets searching out digital content. Vice is the preeminent digital platform for edgy non-fiction. Begun as a free arts magazine in Toronto, the now USD $8+ billion production powerhouse cut a deal with Channel 4 in the UK. Channel 4 has a reputation for cutting-edge non-fiction programming, and this alliance allows them to build their brand (and their on-demand video service), without the expenses associated with original production.
    Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is a lot of time to fill. And, as one of my former colleagues once put it, “every dream has its budget.”
    I heard from NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Alyssa Taglia on Thursday. Last year around this time, she was a student. Now, she is the morning traffic reporter, and a multimedia journalist, at WTNH in Connecticut. Plus, last week she got the chance to anchor the station’s 9 a.m. Good Morning Connecticut newscast.
    Congratulations, Alyssa!
    Meanwhile, in Georgia (“the country, not the state“), NYFA grad Liza Tsitsishvilli works at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Recently she did a story about one of the most famous singers in her country. It is evidence of just how much they value her that she was given such an important assignment!

    Broadcast Journalism alum Federica Polidora should probably get an award for the sheer number of Italian news outlets she contributes to. Recently she interviewed Philip Glass, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

    She was at the Cannes Film Festival, but instead of the usual red carpet shot she sent us a picture of her with two of her colleagues, and her son…
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  • New York Film Academy Highlighted at New Taipei City Film Industry Exchange Conference

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    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) was honored to participate in a high-level New Taipei City media event, the New Taipei City Film Industry Exchange Conference.

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China Region Dr. Joy Zhu was a panelist at a segment of the event that focused on the cultivation of talent. Dr. Zhu offered an experienced American and Chinese perspective to the conference delegates, which included members of the Taiwan media.  

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China Region Dr. Joy Zhu.

    The conference saw film industry professionals from around the globe converge to explore the new Linkou International Media Park, the largest film park in northern Taiwan. Under the guidance of the city government policy, the film industry in New Taipei City has cumulatively developed nearly 130 hectares of industrial land, not only attracting famous TV stations like TVBS and FTV, but also 597 film companies, including Vieshow Cinemas of Banciao Mega City, Showtime Cinema of HiMall, Ambassador Theatre’s Crown Plaza and the upcoming Showtime Live Shulin Store.

    The opening ceremony was presided over by the mayor of New Taipei City, the Honorable Zhu Liwen. In his speech, Mayor Zhu Liwen commended NYFA, and stated, “NYFA’s involvement will bring opportunities of high-level film and media education to the media park.”

    Along with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA), the event marked an exciting opportunity for NYFA to forge a new and lasting partnership aimed at fostering talent and cultivating rising stars in New Taipei City.

    An Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing between NYFA and NTUA was a highlight that captured a great deal of media attention. The agreement is expected to yield a rich collaboration on future culture exchanges, academic partnerships, research, trainings, and more, as the institutions work together to develop new courses and programs attuned to the exciting opportunities developing in New Taipei City.

    As New Taipei City opens its state-of-the-art film park up to the world, the New York Film Academy is honored to partner with the city’s government, National Taiwan University of Arts, Linkou International Media Park, and the American Institute in Taiwan, to cultivate rising professionals in the media and entertainment industry.

    NYFA is very grateful to the Commercial Specialist Department of the American Institute in Taiwan for this opportunity.

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  • Final Draft’s Write On With Altered Carbon Writer Nevin Denham Live From the New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles recently welcomed Final Draft to the NYFA Theater for Write On: A Screenwriting Podcast. The live Q&A event featured Final Draft’s Pete D’Alessandro and writer Nevin Densham, executive story editor for Netflix’s original series, Altered Carbon.

    NYFA and Final Draft, the entertainment industry’s standard screenwriting software, have a relationship that goes back many years. NYFA provides a 12-Week Fellowship for the winners of the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest, yet this was the first time that Final Draft held Write On: A Screenwriting Podcast at the NYFA Los Angeles campus.

    “We’re excited to extend our relationship with Final Draft and build upon the great work we’ve done with the Final Draft Big Break Fellowship,” said Dean of Faculty and Chair of Screenwriting Nunzio DeFilippis. “Having the Write On: A Screenwriting Podcast take place at the NYFA Theater provides our students with additional networking opportunities and even more chances to gain insights from podcast guests.”

    Final Draft’s Write On: A Screenwriting Podcast provides listeners with insights into writing from industry experts and professionals, and in this case the audience of NYFA students and guests from Final Draft who were able to learn more about Densham’s journey as a writer. 

    Before delving into writing for Altered Cabon, Densham admitted that his path into writing for television was not traditional. He grew up in Los Angeles in a household where he had the unique experience to learn from his writer, producer, director father Pen Densham.  

    “I was mentored from a very early age on story and a love for storytelling,” said Densham. “At the time, in the late ‘80s, a version of a hero was a man who killed other men, and he did not want me to be raised seeing that as what a hero was. A hero was a man who fought for other people even though you didn’t necessarily get what you wanted. Selfishness versus, you know, being selfless. And from a really early age, those kind of things were made really clear to me because it was just what he believed.”

    Densham shared that he learned early on that it was about “thoughtful storytelling. It wasn’t just ‘hey let’s make a buck.’ It was how do you tell a story that matters? How do you do something that hopefully leaves a little good left in the world? And I was encouraged to write.”      

    Although the lessons from his father shaped his story sensibility, Nevin decided to leave Los Angeles to study sociology. When he returned to L.A. he had the opportunity to jump into the deep end of the pool, but he wanted to understand the business of film and television and first.  

    “I came back to L.A. and I wanted to roll phones,” he explained. “I didn’t know how to do that and I wanted to take notes, ‘cause I didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t know anything, frankly. I knew how to go have a meeting with a top level executive and talk and not be intimidated, but I could not answer a phone, and I knew that was a fatal flaw.”  

    During his time working “on a desk,” he took courses in television writing to learn the things he didn’t know. He wrote spec features and television pilots. His work got him some freelance writing jobs and an offer for a staff position, but his family friend, (and future Altered Carbon showrunner) Laeta Kalogridis told him not to take the job — but she couldn’t tell him why.

    What Densham soon learned was that Laeta wanted him to join her as the story editor of Altered Carbon. Densham took a leap of faith and passed on an offer in hopes that Kalogridis’ project would come through … and it did.  

    Densham knew the Altered Carbon book series well, and over several months worked with Laeta to breaking down the show, learning a lot from Kalogridis during pre-production and production. He praised Kalogridis as the hardest working person, driven out of pure passion.  Through her, Densham learned to not settle for something that could be better.

    Densham spoke about how he approached some of his favorite spec scripts and pilots, saying that he kept giving himself permission to write it the way he wanted. This comment sparked a NYFA student to ask how far out there stories should be.  

    Densham responded, “My advice is to be out there to the degree you’re comfortable with, that you want to be. You have to be able to sell you. You have to be you to the most you can be, and as interestingly and effervescently or at least marketably as you can be. If I’m going to hire a writer or someone is going to hire a writer, they’re looking at not just, can they write?They’re looking at, can I bear to be with them — for hours and hours? Can I have conflict with them? You have to be you, because any kind of inauthentic you will ‘out,’ because you’re going to be working hard with a lot of people. Best to be yourself and to make that what is marketable about you.”  

    The final question to Densham was, what advice would you have given to yourself 10 years ago? After a moment, Densham said he would have told himself, “have a little be more faith.  Have a little bit more confidence.”

    His final piece of advice to himself would be to write more, be more industrious, and to know that “you don’t have to be the natural talent, you have to do it, keep doing it.”

    This was the first Final Draft podcast recorded at NYFA but we look forward to hosting more in the future. Listen to the full episode of Final Draft’s Write On: A Screenwriting Podcast with Nevin Densham here.

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  • The Palm Springs Photo Festival Welcomes New York Film Academy Students

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Department’s third annual trip to The Palm Springs Photo Festival was the best yet.

    “Everyone I met with said they were really impressed by the work from the students at The New York Film Academy,” said NYFA Photography Instructor Amanda Rowan. “I felt so proud to be representing our school and the amazing and talented emerging image-makers in our program.”

    NYFA Instructors took 13 students and collectively attended more than 50 portfolio reviews. The review meetings included photo editors from People Magazine, National Geographic, Wired Magazine, and Vanity Fair, as well as gallerists from both emerging and established national galleries.

    In addition to having portfolio reviews, the students attended several lectures and career retrospective presentations by legendary image-makers such as Stephen Wilkes, Dan Winters and Erwin Olaf. The festival hosted networking events and parties every night, which NYFA students were able to attend to connect with the wider photography community.

    NYFA BFA Photography student Lotta Lemetti said,For me the biggest lesson this festival gave me, was having to learn how to articulate what my work means to someone who has never seen it before.”

    “It was really cool to get to talk about my work and show my images to fresh eyes,” agreed NYFA 1-Year Photography student Maddie Smith. “I had no expectations going in but was just excited. The feedback was amazing!”

    Each year at The Palm Springs Photo Festival, students receive valuable feedback that often lead to jobs or gallery exhibitions. Last year MengMeng Lu met with the curator from Embark Gallery in San Fransisco and a few months later was a part of an amazing exhibition there. In addition, Alejandro Ibarra met with an Editor from BuzzFeed and was then published.

    Amanda Rowan and Kean O’Brien organized this event alongside the director of The Palm Springs Photo Festival, Jeff Dunas. The festival is very generous in supporting the New York Film Academy’s students each year. We cannot wait to go back next year.

     

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  • The Fourth Estate, Cheddar on Snapchat, the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation and More From the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    This is a difficult time to be a journalist in the United States. The level of trust in American institutions has declined significantly in recent years, and that includes journalism. So, is it a good time to let people see how the news business actually works? How the process is chaotic, messy and difficult? How sometimes there are fundamental disagreements on the way to cover a story, not because of partisan bias but because of differing perspectives? The New York Times obviously feels it is, and allowed documentary filmmakers unprecedented access to their operation: 150 days of access, to be precise. The result is premiering later this month on the American Pay-TV channel Showtime, in a series called The Fourth Estate. 

    “You see how much we sweat getting it right, how imperfect it is, too,” media columnist Jim Rutenberg said in an interview with Politico. “I don’t see how you could come away from watching it and not see how much we worry about things people think the media in general is cavalier about.”

    You may or may not have heard of Cheddar. It is a business news video service aimed at younger viewers. (With the exception of faculty and administrators who read these NYFA Broadcast Journalism updates, that means you…) It has a very different tone and approach than conventional business news channels like CNBC and Bloomberg. Now, Cheddar is setting up a new distribution platform on Snapchat. (Yes, the same Snapchat I referred to last week.) It’s another example of a programming service affiliating with a popular, well-known app, instead of depending solely on one they developed themselves.

    Last week I attended a conference on streaming and other OTT (Over The Top) distribution strategies. As always, these meetings amaze me.

    One case in point was a presentation by Google on how it is possible for anyone to to create his/her own personal streaming network — and the ways program suppliers can monetize them. (If you can’t figure out a business model, you can’t stay in business.) One of the biggest challenges is “latency,” the lag time between you clicking an on-screen icon and something actually happening.

    The skills students learn in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program can be used in a wide range of fields, one of which is commonly known as “corporate video.” NYFA grad Georgia Hammond is back home in Australia, and once again this year producing videos for the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation. I can’t think of a better use of multimedia journalism (MMJ) skills.

    Great job, Georgia!

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  • NYFA DOCS got off to a great start in the 1st Quarter of 2018

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    We seem to be beating industry’s 50-50 in 2020 goal, and docsters are killin’ it across the board.  

    In January alone…

    An Academy Award nomination landed Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Kristen Nutile in Oscar’s limelight as Editor of the  Netflix original doc, Heroin(e).

    October Films promoted Louis Mole (’13) to Head of Development

    Sundance gave Documentary Cinematography Instructor Claudia Raschke some serious love, lauding her work as director of photography of the acclaimed, RBG, featuring her on the celebrated “Women Who Shoot panel. You’ll find Claudia-centric articles include American CinematographerFilmmakerIndiewire, etc.

    With a two-minute micro-doc, alum Gary Bencheghib (’14) moved the President of Indonesia to launch a massive cleanup of the most polluted river in the world. The initiative will employ 7,000 people for seven years, stopping millions of tons of plastics from reaching the ocean each year, and radically improving the lives of 20 million people along the river.

    And then came February…

    A Sniper’s War, the first feature doc from director Olga Schechter (‘14) premiered to rave reviews at two top festivals, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

    “Powerful and disturbing.” – Hollywood Reporter

    Superb cinematography.” – Hollywood Reporter

    “Stunning.” – Counter Punch

    “The most chillingly frightening killer imaginable. – Film Threat

    A 9 out of 10.” – Film Threat

    Schechter scored these key reviews despite the lack of a release date, a publicist, or even a production company. A good, old-fashioned bidding war immediately broke out and it looks like Journeyman Pictures has won worldwide rights with a promise of theatrical release. A Sniper’s War has since gone on to win multiple festivals including Best Foreign Documentary at the Academy Award Qualifying, Arizona Film Festival. (With the new eligibility rules, the Arizona win almost certainly qualifies the film for the Oscar race. The Academy will confirm their new list of qualifying festivals later this spring, so we’ll know for sure then.)

    In other February news, Netflix premiered doc series First Team: Juventus, edited by Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (‘09), which “is produced with elegance and cinematic finesse,” and “ultimately reminds us of the simple beauty of the beautiful game.” – Sports Illustrated 

    Documentary Producing Instructor Dorottya Mathe also premiered her feature, The Independents, at SBFFThe Hollywood Reporter likes it too, especially, “the way in which it subverts all the clichés of the star-is-born story,” and pronounces it, “an extremely engaging film.” Graduate Erica Wong (’14) assisted Dorottya on the production, and fellow NYFA Instructor Piero Basso served as DP. Documentary Instructor Jessica Wolfson’s feature, Hot Grease followed its Discovery premiere with VOD roll out on Discovery Go.

    March didn’t miss a beat either…

    Wynona Barbera (’16) took a walk on the fiction side and produced El Cat which became an Official Selection of the hip, HBO Women in Comedy Festival.

    Furlough, the second 2018 fiction film from NYFA Documentary Instructor Dorottya Mathe (Production Supervisor) opened in theaters. The female-driven comedy starred Academy Award winners Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg and Anna Paquin.

    Back in the doc world, Invisible Killers: Ebola Virus, associate produced by Laura Snow (’13) for The Documentary Group aired on Discovery and Science Channel. (And is now available on Discovery Go.)

    Francesca Pagani produced The Italian Mafia’s Young Foot Soldiers and associate produced Inside The Two-Decade Fight to Bring Down a Confederate Monument, both for VICE.

    Weighing in for the 6-Weekers, Kendall Ciesemier (6-Week ’17), now a Mic staff producer, has created a series of pivotal social media micro-docs around the Parkland students’ anti-gun violence campaign, including Should This Responsible Gun Owner Surrender his AR-15? and Parkland Teen vs. NRA Member.

    Director/Producer Tarryn Crossman (‘12) won another SAFTA Award, this time for the hard-hitting MTV Shuga episode In Real Life. Mentions include: Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Screen Africa.

    Mariko Ide (’16) edited her first piece for Google.

    Kristen Nutile edited Weed The People (directed by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein),  which premiered at SXSW — where Indiewire and Interview magazine both pronounced it a “must-see” film. And even People magazine gave it a write-up.

    The Stolen River, directed by Krisztina Danka (6-Week ’17), won Best Environmental Film at the Calcutta International Film Festival. That was after taking Best in Show at Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival, as well as awards at Independent Shorts Awards, Impact DOCS Award, LiFFT Filmotsav and others.

    Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (’08) premiered his first feature documentary, Amigos Del Tren, at San Diego Latino Film Festival.

    The Second quarter of 2018 is off to a great start as well. More on that shortly.

    One spoiler, though…

    Two documentaries nominated for Peabody Awards this year have NYFA Documentary School bloodlines: Heroin(e), edited by prof, Kristen Nutile and Newtown, Associate Produced/Associate Post Produced by Laura Snow (’13).

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  • Mariano Di Vaio Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles Production Workshop & Guest Speaker Series

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    It was just another Production Workshop Thursday on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) student crews sprawled across the European set searching for places to shoot, directors framed their shots, actors rehearsed their lines.

    Then he walked onto the backlot: Mariano Di Vaio, Italian fashion star, Forbes magazine top influencer under 30, and NYFA Acting for Film alumnus. Heads turned as he arrived to shoot a production workshop commercial with Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran and Cinematography Instructor Matt Kohnen.

    “It’s a dream come true to be on the backlot,” said Mariano. “I always said to myself maybe one day I could shoot something in Hollywood. And doing this student project, I feel like I’m rewinding back nine years to my student days.”

    In 2009, Mariano enrolled in an Acting for Film course at the New York Film Academy in New York. When he returned to his hometown of Perugia, Italy, he started a blog about men’s fashion that blew up on the web, netting him over 10 million followers on social media and enabling him to start his own clothing and hair product lines.

    Then he was back on a NYFA set collaborating with faculty and staff on a shoot designed to teach students and alumni how to film a commercial. It featured several of his brands: Mariano Di Vaio Limited Edition Hair Products, NOHOW clothing, and MDV Eyewear.

    Written by Nick Sivakumaran, who also directed, the commercial starts with Mariano walking past several NYFA crews shooting a variety of scenes. He notices one crew in particular — they are struggling to shoot a romantic scene between a guy and girl. The director is obviously frustrated at the lack of chemistry between them. Enter Mariano! He gestures to the director, “un moment,” takes aside the actor, and gives him a quick makeover using his hair products and sunglasses. Suddenly, the actor looks great, the actress is in love, and the director is thrilled! Mariano leaves as everyone looks at him in amazement and wonders, “Who was that guy?” 

    The fake crew consisted entirely of NYFA Acting for Film students and alumni. Ezra Ramos (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film), who played the actor and was styled by Mariano for the commercial, reported that “Mariano just opened up his suitcase and said ‘what’s your size’?” Then he rifled through the suitcase to hook Ezra up with MDV Collection suede loafers and a tropical white NoHow shirt festooned with tiny palm trees, pineapples, and bananas.

    Gulshan Salamli (Spring ’17 BFA Acting for Film) played the role of the unimpressed actress, and she said the shoot with Mariano was a very different experience from the usual production workshop. “Mariano is the star, obviously, and it is interesting to work with him, to play a supporting role and observe how much input a star has on set. I realized it’s okay to be in the shadows, that I can express myself yet serve the project at the same time.”

    Fake crew member Mackenzie Leslie (Summer ‘16 One Year Acting for Film) said she learned a lot on set, pointing at a huge flag on a C-stand that was blocking the bright California sun. “This production workshop has way more equipment than I’ve seen before,” she said.  “I’ve never filmed with a dolly. I’ve seen shots that were made that way, but never been in one.”

    Meanwhile, actors Elizabeth Otaola (Summer ‘16 MFA Acting for Film) and Christopher Rybka (Fall ‘15 AFA Acting for Film) discussed Mariano’s career. “He’s not a traditional actor. He’s inspired me to explore other options and ways of having an acting career,” said Elizabeth, who played the director. “Everything is going to evolve. Television and film will change in the next 20 years.  Smart people should be paying attention to that and create their own content and know about marketing.”

    Christopher concurred, saying, “It’s very unique that Mariano has used Instagram as a marketing tool to get out there rather than going to auditions and hoping someone picks him up.”

    The following night, Mariano entertained a full house of students at the NYFA Theater with humorous and informative tales about his career in a Q&A moderated by Film Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley. He emphasized the importance of setting small, achievable goals in pursuit of big dreams, and of approaching every task, learning opportunity, and job with passion — an outlook he attributed to his instructors at NYFA back in 2009.

    When asked what advice he had for students starting an Instagram account for the first time, Mariano replied,“I would start with videos if I had to start from scratch, because right now I think they are the key. The algorithm has changed, so it’s harder for people to just post photos.” More specifically, he “would definitely put up something about comedy because positivity, that’s what people like. Being happy is what people want to get from their phones.”

    Most importantly, Mariano encouraged students to do exactly what they had been doing when he walked onto the Universal backlot — collaborate with as many people as possible to increase social media following. “If all of you guys here start to do something together, even a small project, you already can reach how many? 10,000 people for sure.” Another reason to collaborate: “Sometimes when you talk and do something with other creative people, something better comes up, better than what you can do by yourself.”  

    Speaking of collaboration, the Mariano Di Vaio/NYFA Los Angeles commercial project will drop on social media sometime in May. Be on the lookout!

    NOTE: in addition to the students quoted above, the shoot also featured Paulina Hilla (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film) and Amber Satcher (Fall ‘16 MFA Acting for Film).  

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  • Platino Awards and New York Film Academy Industry Lab Collaborate on Eugenio Derbez & Rob Schneider Comedy Sketch

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    The New York Film Academy Industry Lab participated in the production of the fifth edition of the Platino Awards, which was celebrated April 29 at Riviera Maya and broadcast to more than 60 countries. The Platino Awards have quickly become the Oscars of the Spanish and Latin-American film industry.

    The New York Film Academy team shot a comedy sketch written by and starring Eugenio Derbez (Overboard, How to Be a Latin Lover, Instructions Not Included), and Rob Schneider (Saturday Night Live, Grown Ups, Don´t Mess with the Zohan).

    The premise of the sketch was built around the clichés that Latin artists face when crossing over into the American film and television industry. Based on Derbez’s recent success in hits such as Overboard and How to be a Latin Lover, this hilarious sketch focuses on Rob Schneider wanting to cross over to the Latin market and being asked to audition by Derbez for all sorts of stereotypical characters.

    The sketch was directed by Spanish comedy director Miguel Cruz (Aída, CaigaQuienCaiga). Cruz is also a senior acting instructor for sitcoms and drama at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus.

    The Industry Lab was proud to offer equipment and production services for this groundbreaking sketch. NYFA Cinematography alumni Mridul Sen and Filmmaking alumni Fady Elmankabady were able to work as Gaffer and AC, under the guidance of Spanish Director of Photography Jon Aguirresarobe, son of renowned cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe (ASC).  

    The Industry Lab is a production services entity of NYFA, offering equipment and crew support for professional productions. Our Industry Lab members have excelled in all aspects of production which enables them to acquire real world experiences. 

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Rob Schneider, Eugenio Derbez, the Platino Awards, and the students of Industry Lab for putting together such an incredible event and hilarious sketch.

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