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  • NYFA Alum Rajni Mysore Chamaraj on Working With Her Sister and Studying in Los Angeles

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    Rajni Mysore Chamaraj, along with her younger sister Shynica Mysore Chamaraj made The Day I Met Joshua, a short film about a social media influencer who encounters a path of self-discovery in the desert. The film was written, directed, and edited by both Chamaraj and Shynica and was screened at the Canadian Academy qualifying festival, Yellowknife Film Festival. The short film also garnered Chamaraj a Best Debut Director award at the Hollywood Film Awards and the Best Editor award in the New York Movie Awards. 

    Film poster for “The Day I Met Joshua”

    “I always felt that film combined the paradox of human nature so well, sometimes the simplicity of a character has left a deep impact. It brought about many changes, subtle, yet life-changing for me. This thought always lingered as to how visual storytelling overcomes all the barriers, be it geography, the human mindsets, or cultural barriers.” – Rajni Mysore Chamaraj

    Chamaraj got her start in Mumbai as the Assistant Creative Director for a television show on Star Plus, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, and eventually became involved in sports broadcasting as an Assistant Producer, creating live and pre-recorded content for sports including NBA games, Champions League, FIFA-U19 World Cup, French Open, World Rally Championship, PGA tours exclusive for the Indian audience. 

    NYFA alum Rajni Mysore Chamaraj (Right) and sister Shynica Mysore Chamaraj (Left)

    After nearly working for four years in the television industry, Chamaraj took her first step to follow her dream of being a storyteller and made the tough decision to leave her job and take-up full-time filmmaking. Her younger sister Shynica, also a filmmaker, was a big influence on that decision. With both siblings having a strong love of the universal language of film and understanding of the other, both knew they needed to pursue filmmaking and eventually work together. 

    “As siblings, we always influenced each other synergistically through our 3:00 a.m. philosophical discussions or just staring randomly into the cityscape of Mumbai with the Arabian Sea in the backdrop,” recalled Chamaraj. “It’s during one such moment, it struck me that I should also get into serious filmmaking and that my sister and I would make a brilliant team. So our idea of teaming up as a family was born with an idea to create an entertainment company that creates multimedia content inspired by regional themes for a worldwide audience. Essentially, we want to use the power of filmmaking to create content that inspires and elevates the human spirit and Entertainment studio that nourishes and mothers evolved, elevated entertainment.” 

    Before venturing into the business of filmmaking, however, Chamaraj wanted to hone her skills and began talking to friends and colleagues about their own film industry journey, leading Rajni to learn more about New York Film Academy. 

    “I attended a two-month program in NYFA Mumbai and instantly fell in love with their teaching methods. You shoot and learn from your mistakes, and there was more hands-on experience than theory classes. The faculty were from around the world which gave me a glimpse into how a long-term program would look like.”

    Photo courtesy of Rajni Mysore Chamaraj

    Eventually, Chamaraj applied and got accepted into the Film & Media Production MA program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. “While living in Los Angeles and studying in NYFA, the biggest advantage I got was that I worked on projects that had crew members from around the world. You get real-life experience of working on a film set right In the collage. [Students] can use this wonderful opportunity and make mistakes and learn from them too. It’s just a preparation for you to face the real world that’s not always as conducive as you would like it to be.” 

    “I am an Indian, the whole process of filmmaking is pretty different in India compared to the American way, so I had to learn a lot of new things such as division of work, laws of the land, and constantly update myself with the latest equipment, and technologies. So as an international student, you need to learn to adapt. You’ll learn that this is an important key that can make your career as a filmmaker outside your home country a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable. Go put your best foot forward, The staff and faculty at NYFA will be with you every step of the way. There were always there for me when I needed them.” – Rajni Mysore Chamaraj

    Poster for “The Day I Met Joshua”

    Now, Chamaraj and her sister are in the thick of their careers, with the recent success of their short film The Day I Met Joshua, which received a positive global response on the film festival circuit. 

    The film is based on Chamaraj’s own experience while on a vacation in Florida. “My phone became unusable as its entire software crashed. That night, I had a sense of awakening because it felt like a personal loss, How could a mere gadget have such a deep impact on me?” 

    Chamaraj and Shynica then wrote the film and shot it in the Mojave desert. “It was both a challenging and exciting experience. On the third day of the shoot, we even had unexpected rain, we had to stop shooting for a bit,” she remembered. “While shooting in nature, we have to be extra prepared as we are fighting the uncontrollable elements and all this with a cool head.”

    Shooting “The Day I Met Joshua”

    “We had crews representing almost nine different counties, from India, the USA, Cuba, Ireland to China. So as a team, we had to learn to communicate with each other effectively, considering each one of us was from different cultural backgrounds, it was important to keep the overall morale of the whole team-high and positive.”

    In post-production, the film took its shape. With the film marking the first time Chamaraj and Shynica were officially working together, their whole family celebrated their Best Original Story win at Hollywood Gold Awards. “Even more surreal was when our film was screened to a private audience at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank in the very same auditorium where an iconic film like Casablanca was screened for the very first time.”

    Poster for “Finding Home”

    Chamaraj currently resides in India and is working on getting her work visa in the U.S. During the pandemic, the NYFA alum wrote, directed, and edited a short Spanish web series in LA called Finding Home, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime UK and US. As of now, Chamaraj is working on a four-part anthology series about the lives of four urban Indian girls living in different cities of India. 

    “We just shot the first part in Hyderabad city,” she shared. “I am also working as a screenwriter for an Indo-American feature film to be shot in mid of 2022. It’s going to be an exciting ride, I am looking forward to following my heart and dedicating all my energies to bring to life the stories that have had a deep impact on my life.”

    New York Film Academy is excited to share the success of Rajni Mysore Chamaraj and her sister for the film The Day I Met Joshua and looks forward to seeing Chamaraj’s upcoming projects come to fruition in the near future.

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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Meital Cohen Navarro Wins George Sidney Independent Film Competition For Best Narrative Short

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is thrilled to announce that MFA Filmmaking alum Meital Cohen Navarro has won the George Sidney Independent Film Competition at the world-class San Luis Obispo International Festival (SLO Film Fest) for her NYFA thesis film, Over My Dead Body. The film screened at the festival March 9 – 14, 2021.

    Film poster for “Over My Dead Body”

    Over My Dead Body is written, directed, and produced by Israeli-born female filmmaker Meital Cohen Navarro. Her short film explores the taboo of religious intolerance and inter-cultural marriage after a young Jewish Persian-American woman named Isfahan tells her parents that her fiancé is Muslim.

    Over My Dead Body had its world premiere at the prestigious UK Jewish Film Festival in London last November and its North American Premiere at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Ahead of the film’s West Coast premiere at SLO Film Fest last week, Cohen Navarro also received critical acclaim for Over My Dead Body from Voice of AmericaNational Magazine Kayhan London, and the Jewish Journal.

    NYFA alum Meital Cohen Navarro

    “As a grandchild of immigrants, making this film was an amazing journey,” recalled Cohen Navarro. “I hope the film helps families with intergenerational rifts to better understand each other: for parents to see the toll it has on their children and for the younger generation to acknowledge their parents’ equally heartbreaking cultural challenges.”

    Behind the scenes during filming “Over My Dead Body”

    Shot in English and Farsi, Over My Dead Body features Muslim, Christian, and Jewish actors and iconic stars of Persian cinema Mary Apick (Dead End) and Bahram Vatanparast (Zan-e bakere) in leading roles.

    “I believe our role as filmmakers is to project a view of our daily lives onto the silver screen with such sincerity and honesty as possible,” shared Apick. “Each character must face all challenges and obstacles that we all face every day in today’s world. Meital Cohen Navarro has certainly accomplished that delicately and beautifully in the film Over My Dead Body.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Meital Cohen Navarro on her well-deserved win for her film Over My Dead Body at the SLO Film Fest, and looks forward to when her short film will be available to the public.

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  • The 93rd Academy Awards Includes NYFA Alum Shivani Rawat’s “The Trial of The Chicago 7”

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    On Monday morning, Oscar hopefuls awaited as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (“The Academy”) announced the highly anticipated list of Academy Award nominees vying for a gold statue at the 93rd Annual Academy Awards.

    With the COVID-19 pandemic, the award ceremony got pushed from its normal February/early March broadcast and will now be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, honoring the films released in 2020.

    (L-R): Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), and Steven Yeun (“Minari”)

    In the midst of Hollywood’s pandemic year, the 2021 Oscars nominations shattered some historic milestones that have cemented this year’s ceremony as one to watch, with nods that include:

    • Netflix setting a record for distributors with 35 total nominations in 2021. The streaming giant also leads the Best Picture category with two nods, while Amazon, A24, Focus, Searchlight, and Sony Classics held one nomination each. This year, major studios were not present in this category, a notable exception given the tumultuous distribution efforts major studios faced with releasing tentpole and lower budget films across the production slate in 2020.
    • Chadwick Boseman has become the seventh actor to receive a posthumous nomination for his work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
    • Riz Ahmed is the first Muslim actor to be nominated in the Best Actor category for his performance in The Sounds of Metal.
    • Steven Yeun, the first Asian American to receive a Best Actor nod, and Best Supporting Actress nominee Youn Uh-Jung are the first actors born in Korea to earn Oscar recognition for their performances in Minari.

    Best director nominees Chloé Zhao (Left) and Emerald Fennell (Right)

    While there are already incredible highlights from this year’s nominees, the most striking and celebrated have been the nominations received among women, with previous records being shattered across multiple categories including the best director category, which has received criticism in the past for the lack of women’s representation.

    “NYFA is celebrating Women’s History Month by recognizing the women making history at the 93rd Academy Awards. 70 women received 76 nominations – the most in a given year! It’s the first time the Academy nominated two women – Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell – for Best Director at the same time. Zhao is the first woman of color to get a nod in that category and also nabbed nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Fennell’s nomination is also the first time a woman has been nominated for her first feature.

    Viola Davis is the most-nominated Black actress ever, with her fourth Oscar nod. Women are also getting the spotlight in the Best Documentary Feature category with 4 of the 5 nominated films being directed by women. We’d like to also give special recognition to a former NYFA grad, Shivani Rawat (1-Year Screenwriting alum), who executive produced The Trial of Chicago 7 – a Best Picture nominee. We look forward to watching these inspirational ladies take the red carpet on April 25th!” – NYFA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council

    (L-R): Shivani Rawat (“The Trial of The Chicago 7”), Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Christina Oh (“Minari”), and Ann Roth (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

    Other notable records made this year include a historic nomination for Minari producer and NYFA guest speaker Christina Oh, who is the first Asian American woman to receive a nomination for best picture. Meanwhile, costume designer Ann Roth ties for the oldest Oscar nominee-at-large and is nominated for her work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at age 89.

    New York Film Academy is incredibly excited to congratulate the talented and diverse group of nominees representing the body of work at this year’s Academy Awards and will be cheering on NYFA alum Shivani Rawat’s The Trial of The Chicago 7, which is nominated for six awards.

    _______________________

    BEST PICTURE

    “The Father”
    “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Mank”
    “Minari”
    “Nomadland”
    “Promising Young Woman”
    “Sound of Metal”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7″

    ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

    Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
    Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
    Olivia Colman, “The Father”
    Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
    Youn Yuh-jung, “Minari”

    ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

    Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
    Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”
    Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”
    Lakeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

    “Another Round” – Denmark
    “Better Days” – Hong Kong
    “Collective” – Romania
    “The Man Who Sold His Skin” – Tunisia
    Qu Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

    DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

    “Colette”
    “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
    “Do Not Split”
    “Hunger Ward”
    “A Love Song For Latasha”

    DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

    “Collective”
    “Crip Camp”
    “The Mole Agent”
    “My Octopus Teacher”
    “Time”

    ORIGINAL SONG

    “Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
    “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
    “lo Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami…”

    ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

    “Onward”
    “Over the Moon”
    “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”
    “Soul”
    “Wolfwalkers”

    ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

    “Borat Subsequent MovieFilm”
    “The Father”
    “Nomadland”
    “One Night in Miami”
    “The White Tiger”

    ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

    “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Minari”
    “Promising Young Woman”
    “Sound of Metal”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

    Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
    Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
    Gary Oldman, “Mank”
    Steven Yeun, “Minari”

    ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

    Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
    Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
    Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
    Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

    DIRECTOR

    Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”
    David Fincher, “Mank”
    Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
    Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”
    Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

    PRODUCTION DESIGN

    “The Father”
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    “Mank”
    “News of the World”
    “Tenet”

    CINEMATOGRAPHY

    Sean Bobbitt, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    Erik Messerschmidt, “Mank”
    Dariusz Wolski, “News of the World”
    Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland”
    Phedon Papamichael , “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    COSTUME DESIGN

    “Emma”
    “Ma Rainey’s Blackbottom”
    “Mank”
    “Mulan”
    “Pinocchio”

    ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND

    “Greyhound”
    “Mank”
    “News of the World”
    “Soul”
    “Sound of Metal”

    ANIMATED SHORT FILM

    “Burrow”
    “Genius Loci”
    “If Anything Happens I Love You”
    “Opera”
    “Yes-People”

    LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

    “Feeling Through”
    “The Letter Room”
    “The Present”
    “Two Distant Strangers”
    “White Eye”

    ORIGINAL SCORE

    “Da 5 Bloods”
    “Mank”
    “Minari”
    “News of the World”
    “Soul”

    VISUAL EFFECTS

    “Love and Monsters”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Mulan”
    “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Tenet”

    FILM EDITING

    “The Father”
    “Nomadland”
    “Promising Young Woman”
    “Sound of Metal”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

    “Emma”
    “Hillbilly Elegy”
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    “Mank”
    “Pinocchio”
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    March 17, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 944

  • NYFA Alum Priya Darshini Nominated at 2021 Grammy Awards For Best New Age Album

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    Music’s biggest night of the year will include NYFA Acting and Filmmaking alum Priya Darshini, who is nominated for Best New Age Album at the 63rd Annual Grammys for her debut album Periphery.

    Darshini studied 4-Week Acting for Film and 8-Week Filmmaking at NYFA’s New York campus. After her studies, she appeared in The Letters and went to Bollywood. She then decided to pursue her first love of music and began focusing on her recording career.

    Album cover for Priya Darshini’s “Periphery”

    “I craved to create original music,” she told the Indian Express. American musician Roy Wilfred Wooten even chose her for his famed Black Mozart Ensemble, which combined jazz with classical music, hip hop, and bluegrass. She also became the Artistic Director of Brooklyn Raga Massive and co-led Women’s Raga Massive. Darshini has been featured by Elle India and was recently named by Tatler Magazine Malaysia as one of “Six Asian Women Around The World Changing the Face of Music.”

    Her debut album Periphery is an East-West crossover that blends Darshini’s Indian classical training with influences of American folk and pop. The album was recorded in an abandoned church in Brooklyn, New York over 12 days. Darshini also worked with collaborators Nicholas Prout (Recording Engineer), Max ZT, Dave Eggar, Chuck Palmer, and Will Calhoun. 

    New York Film Academy is proud to see Priya Darshini be recognized for her outstanding achievement by The Recording Academy and wishes her the bust of luck. The 63rd Annual Grammys will be televised on Sunday, March 14 on CBS (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT). 

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  • “Invisible Love” From NYFA Chair Bill Einreinhofer Wins Big at Paris International Film Festival

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    Chair of the Broadcast Journalism department at New York Film Academy, Bill Einreinhofer has a lot to celebrate after his film Invisible Love won three major awards at the Paris International Film Festival in February.

    Bill Einreinhofer on set of “Invisible Love”

    Coming off on its premiere at the Marche du Film, associated with the Cannes International Film Festival, in 2020, Invisible Love has racked up three awards including Best Narrative Feature Film, Best International Actor (Hoang Phuong), and Best International Collaboration. 

    In addition to Einreinhofer executive producing Invisible Love, NYFA’s roots run deep in the film, with Acting for Film alum Kazy Tauginas playing one of the male leads and former NYFA staffer Nancy Hanzhang Shen serving as both a Producer and the 1st AD on a set working in three languages (Vietnamese, Mandarin, and English).

    Hoang Phuong in “Invisible Love”

    Invisible Love takes place during the 1930s during the era of French Indochina and follows the story of one woman’s search for love, and how time and again her dreams are betrayed. “The subtext of the film is the nature of colonialism, and the corrosive effect it has on both the colonizers as well as those colonized,” explained Einreinhofer. “There is plenty of melodrama in this film and enough plot for perhaps three movies. While in North America and Europe Invisible Love is considered an ‘art house’ film, in Vietnam and China it is popular entertainment.”

    Einreinhofer is no stranger to working heavily with international markets and met the film’s director, Guo Xiang, while working on Einreinhofer’s documentary Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began. We found we had a lot in common, even though we are totally different and each doesn’t speak the other’s language,” recalled Einreinhofer. “Director Guo valued my experience in international co-production and distribution while I admired his cinematic vision and resourcefulness. He wanted to bring authenticity to this period film [Invisible Love], and my background in non-fiction video and familiarity with Asian cultures helped to ensure historic elements of the film rang true.”

    Nancy Hanzhang Shen (Left) and Bill Einreinhofer (Right)

    The Broadcast Journalism Chair even makes a cameo appearance in the film as Dr. Sawyer, the director of a Western-run hospital in DaNang, where two of the key characters work. “It [acting] helped me better appreciate the ability of the actors to do the same scene time after time, with no slip-ups in dialogue and always hitting their marks, which I find challenging,” he shared. 

    Einreinhofer also explained that he was able to rely on Tauginas while on set to give him a quick tutorial on the do’s and don’ts of film performance as well as Shen, who served as a producer and 1st AD on the film. “I was also much taken by the sheer beauty of Vietnam, and how welcoming the people there are to Americans. For my generation, Vietnam was a war, not a place.”

    For those who see the film, Einreinhofer hopes that Invisible Love will speak to the notion that, regardless of culture or societal norms, love knows no barriers and surpasses all universal emotions. 

    The film now continues on the festival circuit for the next six months, after which Einreinhofer and the crew hope to sign agreements with distributors to get into the prime markets and platforms for a larger audience to view the film.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Broadcast Journalism Chair Bill Einreinhofer on his continued success with Invisible Love and looks forward to announcing when the film is available to view for the public. 

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  • NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Lizzie Gottlieb Featured by ‘Insider’ to Talk About New Film “Turn Every Page”

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    NYFA Documentary instructor Lizzie Gottlieb has been directing film and theater in New York for the past couple of decades. As a director, Gottlieb has worked with Peter Dinklage, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Amy Ryan, Michael Ian Black, Justin Kirk, Francie Swift, Josh Hamilton, Sara Ramirez, and more. Recently, Gottlieb got to work with another talent, notable editor, writer, and father to Gottlieb, Robert Gottlieb.

    (L-R) Robert Gottlieb and Robert Caro (Photo courtesy of Lizzie Gottlieb)

    The documentary, Turn Every Page, follows Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro and his 50-year argument and relationship with his editor, Robert Gottlieb (Robert), as they work towards completing a final book. The documentary from Gottlieb is an ode to the work of Caro and Robert over the last 50 years as Robert (89) awaits Caro (85) to complete his much-anticipated fifth volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson.

    “They are not slowing down because of their age,” Gottlieb told Insider in an interview about the project. “I think they both feel the enormous weight to finish [the final LBJ] book. I very much wanted this to be a story about them finishing their life’s work, not just a retrospective of their lives and how impressive they are.”

    The documentary film will also feature interviews from Ethan Hawke, Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker editor David Remnick, and former president Bill Clinton, who will make remarks of the impact of Caro and Rober’s work over the past 50 years. Gottlieb shared that most of the filming of the documentary was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the interview featuring former president Clinton was done recently over Zoom.

    NYFA instructor Lizzie Gottlieb

    Gottlieb is also known for her documentary Today’s Man, which aired on PBS and screened at festivals and conferences all over the world. Her film Romeo, Romeo was honored with the prestigious Excellence in Documentary Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association (NLGJA).  

    New York Film Academy congratulates Documentary Filmmaking instructor Lizzie Gottlieb on her latest achievement, Turn Every Page, and encourages everyone to check out her latest documentary when it becomes available later this year. 

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    March 2, 2021 • Documentary Filmmaking, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1471

  • Actress Alaina Huffman Studies Filmmaking With New York Film Academy

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    Veteran actress and producer Alaina Huffman is no stranger to the film business and has appeared on some of your favorite shows and films over the past couple of decades. From Smallville and Painkiller Jane to Amber Alert and Netflix’s The Perfection, Huffman has a long list of film and TV credits that have allowed her to see the filmmaking process from both in front of and behind the camera.

    Huffman recently decided to take the time to expand her technical skills by taking one of NYFA’s Online Filmmaking Workshops, allowing her to take classes to study the filmmaking craft more in-depth.

    “I’ve had the desire to direct for some time,” Huffman shared. “I had a short I was set to direct last April but I had to postpone due to COVID. Between working and being a single mom of four, I never really felt I could fit school into my life. With all this downtime and watching my kids do homeschool, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to take classes.

    Photo courtesy of Alaina Huffman

    With a career spanning television fan-favorite titles to her indie film background, Huffman learned a lot during that time beyond being an actor, including what it takes to produce, direct, and work alongside the crew. “Once my career started to move into television, I was working with more established crews and actors. Every day on set is an education if you pay attention. You not only learn what to do, a lot of times you learn what not to do. Now 25 years into my career, I’m still learning along the way.”

    In addition to the teachable moments presented to Huffman on set, being in front of the camera over the years has brought her so much joy in collaboration. “I have a fondness for all the characters I’ve played, they are so special to me,” she revealed. “Being a part of a series is like being part of a family. There’s a closeness and special bonds that form. I have lifelong friends from my time on Stargate Universe, Smallville, Supernatural, and The 100. For me, I like when a character creates themselves. It’s almost effortless, they just come to me like it’s meant to be.”

    Photo courtesy of Alaina Huffman

    Like Huffman shared, even professionals who have been in the industry for years are constantly absorbing information and learning along the way, which is why coming to NYFA was another resource for Huffman to explore all the aspects of the filmmaking craft.

    “My advice to incoming students [at NYFA] would be to have fun! Ultimately filmmaking is a joy. Remember why you love movies and television and enjoy learning the tools to aid your creative process. It always amazes me that we all have access to the same equipment, the same information and yet we all come up with such diverse ideas. Enjoy learning from each other as much as the professors.”

    Alaina Huffman in “Stargate Universe” (Syfy)

    What’s next for Alaina Huffman? While we wait for her upcoming horror film Deep Focus, Huffman is slated to direct. “I’m shooting [a movie] next month called The Missing Twin and I’m super lucky in that in addition to playing the lead character, they’ve offered me the opportunity to direct the second unit. Once I finish that I’ll go on to direct my short film that got delayed.”

    New York Film Academy thanks Alaina Huffman for taking the time to share more about her thoughts on continuing her education at NYFA and looks forward to sharing more about her upcoming projects in the future.

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    March 2, 2021 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 898

  • NYFA South Beach Instructor Daniel Abrusci Wins Gold Promax Award

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    New York Film Academy is excited to share that Filmmaking instructor Daniel Abrusci has won a Gold Promax Award for outstanding achievement in sound design and mixing on the Cbeebies segment Christmas Lights for BBC Latin America. 

    The Promax Awards are the world’s premier celebration of outstanding achievement in entertainment marketing and design, honoring teams of creatives harnessing passionate fandom to drive audiences, create value, and build the biggest brands in entertainment.

    The one-minute animation Abrusci worked on in his home studio was extremely heavy in sound design. “When working with animation, sound design plays a huge role because there’s no audio to start with,” he explained. “I edited three different pieces of music into a one-minute spot in order for the music to be dynamic and help boost holiday emotions.”

    The South Beach instructor had to recreate the ambiance needed for the TV spot to feel a bit more realistic, adding in stylistic sound elements to elevate the story visually. “There’s plenty of creativity involved due to the fact that a lot of these actions might sound different in real life,” shared Abrusci. “Once we have all the different sound design, voiceover, and music elements, mixing is all about making things stand out and giving everything character and space in the frequency spectrum.” Essentially, sound mixing in itself plays an important role in fully forming a character, space, or idea.

    NYFA instructor Daniel Abrusci

    Abrusci urges anyone who is looking to hone their craft to “keep practicing” as it’s practice, trial, and error that allow you to master your skills. “The more time you put into something, the better you’ll become at it. Stay passionate and make it happen!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Daniel Abrusci on his outstanding achievement and looks forward to what’s next from the talented South Beach faculty member. 

    To view the Christmas Lights spot, view the video below. 

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    February 25, 2021 • Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, South Beach • Views: 1357

  • NYFA Photography Alum Jon Henry Named on The “TIME 100 Next” List

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce that Photography alum Jon Henry has been featured in TIME Magazine’s TIME 100 Next list for 2021.

    Last year, Henry won the prestigious Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture­ and the Kodak Film Photo Award—for his series “Stranger Fruit.” The alum also had his photographs from the series displayed on multiple pages in the October 2020 National Geographic issue.

    Cover of the ‘TIME Magazine’ issue featuring the ‘Next 100’ (TIME Magazine)

    TIME reporter Josiah Bates, who wrote the profile on Henry for the Time 100 Next issue shared that Henry’s prolific series “Stranger Fruit” is weighted with significance: “In visual artist Jon Henry’s series ‘Stranger Fruit,’ sons pose with their mothers as if they are lifeless, re-creating scenes of mourning. The mothers stare through the camera’s lens as if holding onlookers accountable for threats their sons could one day face. In 2020—after the killing of George Floyd by police­—the series took on new poignancy.”

    The alum was featured alongside other artists who made the list including director Boots Riley, Lakeith Stanfield, Florence Pugh, and more. Henry shared his gratitude for being included in the list on his Instagram account: “Honored beyond measure to be included in #time100next. The 2021 TIME100 Next list highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future of business, entertainment, sports, politics, health, science and activism, and more. Crazy.”

    NYFA alum Jon Henry

    Henry was also featured on the cover of JRNL 4 and was also profiled by Photograph Magazine. The NYFA alum and Photography instructor’s “Stranger Fruit” series is currently on display in Portland at BlueSky Gallery through March 27, 2021, and will also be featured in Miami from March 11 – May 21 at DotFiftyOne Gallery. The series has also gone international and is currently on view at the KP Gallery in South Korea, the first international solo exhibition for the project.

    Untitled 60, St Charles, MO (2020) – Photo Credit: Jon Henry

    New York Film Academy is thrilled to congratulate one of its own for being among those selected for TIME Magazine’s TIME 100 Next list for 2021 and is proud of the recognition that Jon Henry is receiving for his body of work and the “Stranger Fruit” series.

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  • NYFA Alum Uzair Merchant Works on CW’s “Superman & Lois”

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    Uzair Merchant has worked on some of the biggest franchises in the world. From Skyfall and Star Trek: Beyond to Fast & Furious 7 and Deadpool 2, Merchant has had an impressive roster of work, including his own personal projects, with his latest work displayed in the highly-anticipated CW series Superman & Lois.

    Poster for “Superman & Lois” (CW)

    Taking the lead from its own universe of Superman (Supergirl, Smallville, and Superman: The Animated Series), The CW is back with Superman & Lois, a spin-off series of Supergirl that follows Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) reprising their respective roles.

    Not much is known about how the series will play out, but it will feature Superman and Lois’ kids Jonathan and Jordan as they return to Smallville and are reacquainted with Lana Lang and her family.

    NYFA alum Uzair Merchant

    Filmmaking alum Uzair Merchant worked as the Assistant Art Director on the series, bringing the show to life through means of concept art, graphics, set design, props, builds, and construction. “Working on Superman & Lois has been pretty awesome I must say,” shared Merchant. “It’s lovely to dive into the Warner Bros. and DC Universe.”

    The show, which is still finishing up filming the first season, faced the added challenge of filming during the COVID-19 pandemic and had to adapt to and implement new COVID-safe protocols. “The crew [on Superman & Lois] is great and that’s something I always look for in a production. We’ve had COVID-19 procedures, which is what makes this production special being able to do all of this in the restrictions, but that’s been the challenge.”

    In addition to his work on Superman & Lois, the NYFA alum has done everything from commercials, corporate films, features, TV shows, music videos, and more.

    “The ability to build worlds and tell stories that can directly affect and influence people, cultures or voices was something that’s always fascinated me about filmmaking,” shared Merchant.

    “Coming to New York Film Academy to study film was a dream,” he revealed when asked about his time at NYFA. “I also wanted to experience studying traditional film, not just digital. Future students should come with an open mind and heart to dive into an unknown world, it’s important to immerse yourself into places out of your comfort zone. That’s why it’s film school. Experiment, explore and be honest with your art.”

    What’s next for the alum? Merchant has also worked on the upcoming film The Misfits, starring Pierce Brosnan, Tim Roth, and Jamie Chung. The alum has also been developing an entire universe over the last decade called Kreativ Universe from his company the Kri8.labs. Part of that cinematic universe will include Merchant’s script Black Rose that won multiple screenwriting awards and is currently in pre-production. Merchant is also producing a music track for the film called “Star Dust.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Uzair Merchant for his outstanding work on Superman & Lois and looks forward to hearing more about the Filmmaking alum’s upcoming personal projects. Superman & Lois will premiere tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on The CW.

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