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  • Q&A With New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Claudio Casale

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    Claudio Casale is a busy filmmaker, but recently he found the time to speak with New York Film Academy (NYFA). It was here that he attended our 8-week Filmmaking workshop in April 2017, where he quickly added an arsenal of skills to his already impressive filmmaking prowess.

    “Claudio was one of those students a teacher is so happy to have in the class,” tells his NYFA directing instructor, Thomas Barnes, continuing, “brilliant, passionate, original, and supportive of his colleagues.” 

    Claudio has been incredibly productive since finishing the Filmmaking workshop, working on all sorts of different projects—short films, feature films, narratives, documentaries. In the summer of 2018, he achieved a career highlight when his documentary My Tyson won the MigArti Best Documentary Award at the Venice International Film Festival.

    Claudio Casale

    Claudio Casale

    Claudio spoke with NYFA about that film and win, as well as filmmaking in general, working in documentary, and what lies ahead for him:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy? 

    Claudio Casale (CC): I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. I graduated in Business Management, and at 22 I took two years abroad, mainly in India and Southeast Asia, where I started filmmaking constantly. Many shorts later, NYFA was the first proper education I received on filmmaking. I was mostly self-taught and I joined the 8-week program to gain experience on set dynamics and directing actors. 

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your film My Tyson? 

    CC: My Tyson is a 15-minute short doc on Alaoma Tyson, an Italian teenager born in Italy from Nigerian parents. Today, at 18 years old, Tyson is the Italian boxing champion in the youth heavyweight category. Patience, his mother, sews traditional clothes for the Nigerian community in the Roman suburb they live in.

    As Tyson trains for his next match, Patience tells him the story of their family, revealing ancient rituals, financial struggles, and a severe migration experience. 

    My Tyson premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival where it won the MigrArti Best Documentary Award. 

    NYFA: What inspired you to make My Tyson? 

    CC: Migration is an issue worldwide, from the US all the way to Australia. In Europe, Italy is the first port of arrival for the majority of migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and Maghreb. As many filmmakers of my generation, I felt the need to take a stand on this issue, by offering to the audience a perspective that might get lost in the news cycle. Observation and research was key, as I had to find the story – and therefore my inspiration – on the field: I spent five months with Alaoma Tyson and his family before shooting a single frame. 

    NYFA: How did you get your film involved with MigrArti? 

    CC: MigrArti is a yearly call made by the Minister of Culture in Italy (MiBAC). The production working with me on My Tyson had to submit a detailed dossier for our project. MigrArti can be very competitive, and I was honoured that our project was among the selected ones. Watching our short doc premiere during the 75th Venice International Film Festival was really emotional, and I feel grateful that the Jury awarded My Tyson as MigrArti Best Documentary. 

    NYFA: What are your plans for My Tyson after Venice? 

    CC: We are sending out My Tyson to festivals, as that’s a great way to receive professional feedback and connect with fellow filmmakers. I would be delighted to personally attend international festivals as well, so to see by myself how different audiences relate to the story.

    On the other hand, in Italy we are planning screenings solely for migrants, thanks to the cooperation of NGOs such as ARCI Solidarietà Onlus. Bringing cinema to places where it usually hasn’t belonged, like migration centres and public schools, is a duty as well as a chance to test the impact our little film may have on people we can’t reach with a traditional theatrical run. 

    Then, at the end of the festival distribution, at least in Italy we are working to have a selected theatrical distribution, likely paired with a feature documentary. 

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on? 

    CC: In September, I was in Sicily to direct a narrative short film in 35mm, Inshallah, about to enter post-production. Also, I have a feature documentary in creative and financial development, in which I will invest most of my time this year. It’s a project I am very attached to and I can’t wait to get myself on set to shoot it. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on My Tyson, or your work in general? 

    CC: Among the lessons I received at NYFA, two came particularly handy in this project. First, as director you have got to leave the camera to the operator! As many native-digital filmmakers, I also grew very attached to the camera body (I was my own operator on my first shorts). It wasn’t necessarily easy to delegate that, as it is an act of trust toward the operator, especially on a documentary where things happen out of script and must be captured instinctively. 

    But at NYFA, I learned to do just that: trusting the crew I work with and delegating everything that may distract me from the scene. In some projects I would still be my own operator of course, but thanks to NYFA I could recognize that My Tyson wasn’t one of those cases. 

    Second: directing actors! I find the method taught at NYFA to be extremely effective. Honestly, that module alone was worth the whole course for me. With time, I changed it a little to adapt it to documentaries, where you don’t direct actors but subjects, so the relationship is more subtle and the non-actors’ spontaneity is the first priority and must always be protected. I believe that directing actors and non-actors is what ultimately makes a director great, and that’s something hard to learn without seeing some experts at work, either by joining a school or by being on set as 1st or 2nd AD. 

    NYFA: Do you prefer working in narrative or documentary filmmaking? 

    CC: When I started shooting, I had only narrative filmmaking in mind, and frankly I still look forward to direct a feature narrative one day. Documentary happened by chance, yet for the moment I found my little niche here. 

    As for today, I certainly prefer working on documentary filmmaking for a variety of reasons: first, it’s cheaper, so development and pre-production are generally quicker compared with narrative. Second, you can easily practice rhythm and pace with a running time of 52 minutes or longer, a key area of learning for any aspiring director. Last but not least, documentary today is wide open to visual experimentation, an ideal condition for me. 

    NYFA: What differences or similarities do you find between narrative and documentary filmmaking? My Tyson

    CC: Comparing short films only, in my opinion the key advantage of documentary filmmaking is the level of experimentation it allows. I honestly find narrative short films too rigid sometime, as nowadays the pressure to deliver the highest possible production value risks to overpass the focus aspiring directors should be putting into the storytelling. 

    After all, short films are the only tool we have to discover who we really are as visual storytellers. The similarities between narrative and documentary filmmaking are more than one could tend to believe: year after year, more documentaries are shot with a real cinematic language in mind. And I believe that’s one of the reason behind today’s boom of documentaries: many narrative storytellers are getting into documentary, shaping it with their own tools. 

    On the other hand, generally speaking, narrative filmmaking may allow for a wider freedom of expression, especially if you get to write and direct your own script. In conclusion, I would suggest students to be open to both forms, as for different reasons they are equally important in the early stage of a filmmaker’s career. 

    NYFA: What other advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA? 

    CC: If you are a total newbie on filmmaking, be ready to run and absorb everything you’re told. Raise your hand and ask your classmates for help, as at the end of the day, it’s all about the teamwork. 

    While If you have some filmmaking experience already, as I did, be ready to put everything you know aside. Don’t let your previous knowledge block you from learning further. Be open and receptive, and you will take something new and essential with you every day. 

    NYFA: Anything we missed you’d like to speak on? 

    CC: No questions about the Deli down in Battery Park? I must admit, sometimes I miss that sushi! 🙂 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Claudio Casale for his time and thoughtful answers, and looks forward to seeing what inspiring films he comes out with next. We sincerely hope he comes back to New York for a visit sometime and has some sushi from the Deli downstairs! 

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    November 26, 2018 • Filmmaking, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 427

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Alum Mira Hamour

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    The award-winning documentary short Syria’s Tent Cities first found life as an MFA graduation project for New York Film Academy MFA Documentary alum Mira Hamour. It quickly took a life on its own, and thanks to the passion and incredibly demanding—both physically and emotionally—work put in by Hamour, the film has gone on to win eleven awards (and counting)  since its completion in July 2018.

    These honors include:Mira Hamour

    -London Independent Film Awards (Best Documentary Short)
    -South Film And Arts Academy Festival (Best Documentary Short Film)
    -Best Shorts Competition (Award of Merit)
    -Cinema World Fest Awards (Best in Show, Best Documentary Short)
    -International Independent Film Awards (Platinum Award)
    -Los Angeles Film Awards (Best Documentary Short)
    -Independent Shorts Awards (Gold Award for Best Documentary Short)
    -Top Shorts (Best Documentary Award)
    -Docs Without Borders Film Festival (WINNER: Revolution and Reform- Exceptional Merit)
    -Global Shorts (WINNER: Special Mention)

    Additionally, Syria’s Tent Cities has been selected to screen at the Studio City International Film Festival in Los Angeles, an official selection at Short to the Point festival, selected at the Short Long World Festival, been selected as a Semi-Finalist at the Directors Cut Int’l Film Festival, and chosen in the Top Shorts Semi-Finalist Top 40 films. Hamour will be attending the screening on November 14.

     

    The documentary short isn’t just a film—it’s a call to action by Hamour, telling vitally important stories from one of this century’s greatest humanitarian crises and educating its viewers on how they can help in their own small way. Not just a powerful work of filmmaking, Syria’s Tent Cities is an extrapolation of Mira Hamour herself—a passionate plea for empathy and understanding from an artist whose heart matches her mastery of the documentary craft. 

    Amid a festival circuit for Syria’s Tent Cities as well as pre-production and production of several other projects, Hamour found time to chat with New York Film Academy about her film, what drives her work, and her time at NYFA:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Mira Hamour (MH): I identify as Syrian-Canadian. Growing up, I’ve lived in the Middle East and Canada and most recently spent three years in the United States (New York, Los Angeles, and New Jersey).

    When I was in high school, I love watching documentaries. I loved hearing real stories, about real people and learning about all of these world problems that not many people really seemed to know about. I felt like a lot of the social issues that interested me stemmed from the misinterpretation and incorrect practice of religions, and I explored lots of world religions throughout my bachelor’s degree to see if I could find the root cause of these problems and misinterpretations. I wanted to prove that when interpreted and practiced correctly, every major belief system preached love, acceptance, and unity at its core. I focused on taboo and challenging issues and throughout my Undergraduate schooling; I extensively researched a variety of controversial topics, including feminism and homosexuality in Islam, Jewish masculinities and gender identity and, exploring ISIS and radicalization’s global impact.

    Realizing the incredible power of film to bring people together, inform audiences, and encourage them to make a change for the better, I knew that I wanted to study Documentary Filmmaking to learn how to effectively shed light on social issues and present my audiences with viable solutions for positive social change. 

    In July of 2014, I enrolled in a 4-week filmmaking summer course at NYFA while still working on my undergrad, to sort of test the waters and see if this was really for me. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only did I get to meet incredible people who are still very close friends to this day, it kickstarted my career in filmmaking and confirmed my love for it. As soon as I was done with my undergraduate degree, I enrolled full time at NYFA for my MFA in Documentary Filmmaking.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your film Syria’s Tent Cities?

    MH: My debut film, Syria’s Tent Cities, was shot in Jordan, Lebanon, and Canada. It started out as an MFA graduation project, but I worked on it long after graduation and have now developed it into the 30-minute award-winning documentary short that it is today.

    Identifying as both Syrian and Canadian, watching the refugee crisis continually worsen has been especially difficult for me. I felt helpless, and knew that many others also wanted to help but didn’t know where to start. Almost eight years into the crisis, I noticed that the Syrian refugees were now being viewed as one, singular mass statistic. I spent many summers in Syria growing up and have amazing memories there; I wanted to remind the world that these refugees are individuals: they’re parents, they’re children, they’re teachers, they’re families, they’re friends. In many ways, they’re not very different from us, they’ve just been forced into a very unfortunate situation and had their world turned upside down.

    My film is unique in that it explores the Syrian Refugee Crisis from both a local and global perspective by examining the lives of Syrian refugees in Middle Eastern refugee camps while also answering the question of what happens next, once they’re resettled in North America. While planning the film and working on months of pre-production from Los Angeles, one prominent issue kept coming up: there are hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrian children around the world growing up without any access to education. In the long run, this could have very dire consequences and prevent them from becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of their society. The lack of education takes away from what’s left of their childhood and doesn’t give them a sense of importance or purpose. I knew that I not only had to focus on education while making the film, but also present the audience with feasible solutions to help fix this problem. 

    Throughout the film, the refugees work to improve their situation through the efforts of the two individuals I chose to tell this story through: Nowell Sukkar, founder of Nowell’s Mission working in Jordan and Lebanon, and Mazen El-Baba, founder of H.appi Camp working from Ontario, Canada. Both of them have dedicated their lives to making education and inclusiveness a right for all Syrian children. 

    I also worked with Human Rights Watch in Jordan and Lebanon to better explain the situation to the audience; instead of blaming the refugees’ parents automatically, the HRW researchers break down the many reasons why all these barriers exist and how we can combat them.

    Mira Hamour - Syria's Tent CitiesNYFA: What inspired you to make Syria’s Tent Cities?

    MH: The Syria we see on the news today is painfully different from the one I knew growing up; it’s hard to come to terms with just how bad things have gotten in a relatively short amount of time. As with many other global crises, after a while people begin to grow tired of it because, even if they want to help, they don’t know how to. It seems too complicated, too difficult, and they feel helpless. And that’s why I wanted my film to focus on the specific issue of education and how the lack of it is killing refugees’ childhood, their ability to dream, aspire, and achieve.

    During a visit to my home city of Toronto in August of 2016, I spoke with newly resettled Syrians who noticed a world of difference in their children who had just attended the first ever H.appi camp, a free summer camp experience exclusively for newcomer refugee children. H.appi aimed to help these children integrate into Canadian society, improve their linguistic skills and aid them in overcoming the trauma that they had experienced before arriving to Canada. When I actually made the film a year later, I realized that whether they’re living illegally in neighbouring countries or permanently resettled in Canada, many of the refugees were united in one thing: their goal to achieve a better life through a good education and the mental health resources many of them needed to overcome the trauma of war.

    NYFA: What was your experience filming Syria’s Tent Cities?

    MH: Personally, working on Syria’s Tent Cities was especially challenging. For starters, I had under two months to travel to two continents, three countries, and four cities to shoot all of my footage. One of the things about being a low-budget student and having to operate as what was often a one- or two-person crew is that you learn to wear many, many hats on the job. As with most of my other projects, I was in charge of directing, producing, shooting, recording sound, and editing Syria’s Tent Cities. 

    As someone who’s doing the job of five people on location at refugee camps in the Middle East, I needed to be able to handle my emotions, even when faced with a seven-year-old girl whose leg has been amputated during the war staring longingly from her wheelchair as her twin sister and other siblings run around their one-bedroom apartment. Even when a two-year-old little boy being raised by a single father is so deprived of the love of a mother he lost while the family were fleeing the country that he curls up in your lap while you’re shooting an interview with his father and clings to you, refusing to let go when you have to leave later. Mira Hamour - Syria's Tent Cities

    I had to keep my composure on location; if I was an emotional wreck, the film wouldn’t get made and no one would hear their story. There were many, many tears when I got home. But I’d have to get up the next day and do it all again, pretending that my heart wasn’t breaking every time I met another child who just didn’t understand why they had to lose family members and run from what was once a safe and happy home. What kept me going was that I knew I was helping, I was telling their stories and encouraging the world to change their lives. In making this film, I truly feel like I grew so much as a person and a filmmaker.

    NYFA: What are your plans for Syria’s Tent Cities?

    MH: My main goal was that I didn’t want my audience to leave the theatre feeling sad and helpless. I wanted to give them tools and solutions to make a difference. In the film we see Nowell and Mazen; they’re not millionaires, they’re not people who have absolutely nothing else going on in their personal lives. Mazen is a full-time medical student and Nowell is a mother of two who has to tend to her own family’s wellbeing. 

    Yet they still make the time to help, they’re dedicated. And although I don’t expect every person who watches the film to start a non-profit like theirs, they show us the small ways in which we can all help truly make a difference in these children’s lives. Simple things and contributions that actually end up having a noticeable and positive impact in the long run. 

    It was incredibly inspiring to work with them and I really hope that, when they watch the film, the audience is inspired in the same way I was. I set up a page on my website where people who watch the film can learn more about Mazen’s and Nowell’s work and make a simple contribution that will truly end up making a world of difference. 

    Additionally, after working with Human Rights Watch through making this film and seeing all of the incredibly valuable research they do on the ground, I partnered with them and created a page specifically dedicated to this cause! All donations that come through the page from the link on my website will be designated to Human Rights Watch’s Refugees Division, specifically for their work on Syrian Refugees.

    I’m especially proud of Syria’s Tent Cities. As someone who identifies as both Syrian and Canadian, this story really hit close to home. It’s something I wanted to do for so long that every (increasingly difficult) challenge that I was faced with while making this film was a blessing I was grateful for, because it meant that I was finally actually making the film and telling the story of Syrian refugees. Mira Hamour - Syria's Tent Cities

    As proud as I am of how well the film’s been doing and as honoured as I am to be able to tell this incredible story, the awards are especially meaningful because they confirm that people recognize the importance of the film’s message and that they’re moved to give it an audience and help. This is just the start, but I know that I’ve succeeded in beginning to raise more awareness, which is what I set out to do when I first made the film.

    I plan to continue showing the film to as many audiences as I possibly can; this is a crucial problem and small contributions can make a very large difference in the life of a refugee child.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

    MH: While working in the field of Documentary Filmmaking, I’ve created films that focused on issues that I felt needed to be heard and further explored. I wanted my films to not only educate the audience on the issue at hand, but to also show them clear ways in which they can help and make a difference or learn about an issue that was once foreign to them and become more accepting, compassionate individuals.

    One of the films I’m working on now, PCOS, is about the often neglected and discredited Poly Cystic Ovarian Disorder in women and how the many side effects it causes impact those affected by it, including facial hair in women. Some of the women in the film resort to elective weight loss surgery to reverse the symptoms of their PCOS, while others accept and try to change society’s harsh criticism of them. I actually have the condition myself and am one of the characters in the film (truly challenging as a simultaneous director!)

     

    I’m also about to release a short documentary film about two Syrian senior citizens who relocated to stay with their family abroad. And while they’re technically safe and living in a comfortable home, their whole lives have been uprooted extremely unexpectedly. At their age after retirement, they expected to live out the rest of their days in familiar Syria, and so they now spend much of their time reminiscing and missing those they lost to the war and during the move. Living in a state of constant uncertainty, major change, and having to adapt to a completely foreign country at their advanced age has made them question whether leaving Syria was worth it, and so the film is named Safe or Sorry.

    Apart from my own projects, I also currently freelance, primarily in Documentary Filmmaking. Most of my jobs are in pre-production and/or production. I love researching a great topic extensively, reaching out to people, booking and conducting interviews, being on location shooting vérité and seeing my subject’s world through the camera’s lens. 

    When people let you into their lives in that way, it’s a really great, fulfilling feeling — there’s a certain mutual trust and understanding there. The amazing people that documentary filmmaking brings into your life and the relationships you develop with the people you film are truly incredible and constantly remind me of why I got into this field and how fortunate I am to call this my job. For instance, making Syria’s Tent Cities was such a humbling and eye-opening experience; I saw firsthand the difference that dedication and love, even coming from a single individual, can make in the lives of those facing a global crisis.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on Syria’s Tent Cities, or your work in general?

    MH: The biggest thing I learned is that loving something doesn’t make it easy — it just makes it worth fighting for and working towards. When I first started this journey, I had absolutely no idea how hard making documentaries would be! But because I love it, it has definitely been worth every challenge I’ve faced.

    As an emerging artist, you’re definitely going to have times where you doubt yourself and your abilities, sometimes even whether you were meant to be in this field at all. You’re going to have friends in ‘safe’ jobs, with a steady paycheque and very little risk involved. And sometimes it’s going to scare you. Being a documentary filmmaker is hard, it’s challenging, there’s a lot of discipline, work, and time management that goes into it. You have to be able to believe wholeheartedly in yourself and your project and the message that you’re trying to put out there. 

    I’ve been so fortunate to have incredibly supportive parents, family, friends, and teachers in my life who have definitely played a big role in getting me to this point today. But to make it in this field, you have to truly believe in your work and keep pushing to make the story you’re working on heard; working past every festival rejection you receive, every professional failure that comes up along the way, every person who discredits you and doesn’t believe in you, and every one of the many challenges you’re going to face. 

    I want to specifically thank Sanora Bartels, who was actually the Consulting Producer on Syria’s Tent Cities for being an amazing mentor, friend, support system, and just an overall wonderful human being. She’s gone above and beyond her role as Chair of the Documentary MFA Program to make sure that her students succeed and reach their full potential. Most importantly, she believed in us and our abilities even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. Having teachers like that when you’re only just starting out in the field is truly invaluable. Sanora is just one of the many incredible teachers I’ve been lucky to work with at NYFA.

    NYFA: What lies ahead for you now?

    MH: In addition to filmmaking, I’m very passionate about travel and hope to be able to see the world through my work. I’ve been to 25 countries so far and it never ceases to amaze me how many similarities we all have on a basic human level, regardless of differing social and cultural norms. I will continue to travel and make films while I learn more about the world; Syria’s Tent Cities is just the beginning, I have so many other projects planned and some are already in pre- and post-production!

    The New York Film Academy thanks Mira Hamour for the time she took to speak with us, and congratulates her on the well-deserved success of her documentary short Syria’s Tent Cities.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) and Hangzhou Culture Radio Television Group Establish Cooperative Training Base

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    On October 27, 2018, the New York Film Academy – Hangzhou Culture Radio Television Group Cooperative Training Base was formally established. China Hangzhou Culture

    David Klein, Senior Executive Vice President of the New York Film Academy (NYFA), and the Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and Editor-in-Chief Zheng Guilan jointly inaugurated the Cooperation Training Base. Mr. Klein travelled from NYFA’s New York City location for the event.

    On June 16, the Group’s Film Project Team and New York Film Academy signed the “Memorandum of Strategic Cooperation”; on October 15, the Secretary of the Party Committee and President of the Group, Yu Xinping, met with the CEO of New York Film Academy, Jean Sherlock, and New York Film Academy Executive Vice President Zhu (Joy) Yuhua. 

    Together, the group discussed the joint establishment of a film and television training cooperation project as soon as possible, as well as a long-term training cooperation system. 

    The establishment of the cooperative training base will enhance the brand influence of Hangzhou Cultural Film Industry with an international vision and form a broader communication and practice platform for Chinese and American film and television talents.

    China Hangzhou CultureThis is in line with the growing influence and interdependence of Chinese cinema and culture on a worldwide audience. As Chinese co-productions with international and major movie studios increase in number and scope, the New York Film Academy has also looked to strengthen relations with the film and cultural institutions of China.

    In addition to educating many aspiring filmmakers, actors, and visual artists from China as part of its international student body, NYFA has also held workshops in China as well, including in Shanghai and, as recently as this summer, in Beijing. Furthermore, the Academy has also hosted workshops for visiting Chinese students at its locations in Los Angeles and New York City.

    The New York Film Academy looks forward to continued cooperation with the Hangzhou Cultural Film Industry and to the success of the New York Film Academy – Hangzhou Culture Radio Television Group Cooperative Training Base!

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    October 30, 2018 • China, Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, International Diversity • Views: 222

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Brings Fashion Photography Workshop to Kazakhstan

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    On October 16, in Astana, Kazakhstan, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography instructor Kristina Varaksina provided visual art and filmmaking students at the Kazakh National University of Arts (KazNUA) with a stimulating hands-on fashion photography workshop. KazNUA Photography Workshop

    NYFA Professor Varaksina is an award-winning photographer; she is the recipient of multiple prestigious photography awards, including the Prix de la Photographie, Communications Arts Photography Annual, Int’l Photography Awards, PDN Faces, and more. 

    The KazNUA students explored the technical side of lighting and working with professional equipment, as well as the principles of working with ideas, creative teams, and models. Working with Profoto equipment, this workshop was a unique opportunity to learn about working with simple and complex lighting set-ups, learn to solve problems on set, and create outstanding fashion images.

    As stated by David Mager, Chair of NYFA’s Photography school, “Kristina never fails to amaze me. She has the incredible combined ability to teach the technical, while being amazingly creative.”

    Mager added, “Students always walk away with new knowledge that is easily implemented in their own photographic practice.”

    New York Film Academy and Kazakh National University of Arts have a close affiliation under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was rendered earlier this year.

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    October 23, 2018 • International Diversity, Photography • Views: 97

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts Fulbright Foreign Student Welcome Dinner

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    The tradition of hosting a welcome dinner for the incoming cohort of New York Film Academy Foreign Fulbright Grantees continued at the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts in Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) last week.

    Fulbright Grantees with Dan Mackler, NYFA’s LA Campus Director, Amy Ellenberger, Miguel Cruz, NYFA´s Director of Fulbright Initiatives and Marcus Louis Fien

    Fulbright Grantees with Dan Mackler, NYFA’s LA Campus Director, Amy Ellenberger, Miguel Cruz, NYFA´s Director of Fulbright Initiatives and Marcus Louis Fien

    NYFA-LA Campus Director Dan Mackler, and NYFA Director of Fulbright Initiatives Miguel Cruz hosted the six Fulbright students who are on campus for the 2018/2019 Academic Year.  They include four grantees in the MFA Filmmaking Program, one grantee in MFA Documentary Filmmaking, and one grantee in the 1-Year Acting for Film Program. Represented countries are Spain (3), Paraguay, Peru, and Bahrain. NYFA is pleased to recognize a Fulbright finalist from Estonia as part of the group as well. 

    In recent years, NYFA has welcomed nearly 60 Fulbrighters to our campuses in Los Angeles and New York City. NYFA Fulbrighters have hailed from more than 30 countries. 

    Dr. José Siles, President of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Los Angeles, joined the celebration, as did Amy Ellenberger, NYFA Director of Recruitment, and NYFA Admissions Specialist Marcus Fien. Dr. Siles invited the Fulbrighters for a tour of NASA Space facilities where he is engaged in research.

    Fulbright grantee Maya Riquelme, with Amy Ellenberger, NYFA Director of Recruitment

    Fulbright grantee Maya Riquelme, with Amy Ellenberger, NYFA Director of Recruitment

    NYFA-LA Campus Director Dan Mackler enthusiastically stated, “For me, meeting the extraordinarily talented Fulbright students that come to study at NYFA-LA is one of the highlights of the start of every academic year.”

    Mackler continued, “In these global creators of visual and performing storytelling, I am provided hope for a future that will be both exciting and impactful. They connect us with a greater humanity.”

    The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government through the U.S. Department of State.  The Program operates in more than 140 countries and offers opportunities for students and young professionals, as well as for post-doctoral teachers and researchers to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching.  

    The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,900 are to U.S. students, 4,000 to foreign students, 1,200 to U.S. scholars, and 900 to visiting scholars. In addition, several hundred teachers and professionals receive awards.

    NYFA is proud to be the school of choice for so many inspired and creative minds and to participate in numerous Fulbright initiatives, including producing two TEDxFULBRIGHT events and conducting documentary filmmaking workshops at the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program Conferences. 

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  • Recap: New York Film Academy (NYFA) at IFP Week 2018

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    This year, New York Film Academy (NYFA) was honored to help IFP Week celebrate its 40th anniversary. A leader in the independent media community, Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. NYFA was a co-sponsor for the second consecutive year. The week-long event took place at IFP’s state-of-the-art Made in NY Media Center in DUMBO, Brooklyn. A leading voice in the independent film industry, IFP also runs Filmmaker Magazine and the prestigious annual Gotham Awards.

    Andrea Swift moderated an essential #MeToo panel on Saturday. The all-women panel took on difficult but necessary questions about the present and future of the industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The panelists discussed what needs to be done both on screen and through media activism. Filmmaker and panelist Shruti Rya Ganguly perceptively said, “The #MeToo movement is not necessarily something new, but a different way of having that conversation.”

    The #MeToo Panel at IFP Week (photo provided by IFP)

    The panel discussed the power of strong journalism and the exact role of social media. They also emphasized the importance of women of color in the aftermath of the #MeToo reckoning. Adding to that, Anne Carey, President of Production at Archer Gray said, “I would hope that the takeaway from this conversation is create a space of safety so people who feel threatened have a place to talk, push to tell the best stories with the best people telling them.”

    NYFA Producing Instructor Krysanne Katsoolis moderated the Looking Abroad panel. This panel discussed the how-to’s and why-not’s of utilizing international co-productions and tax incentives. Katsoolis has significant multi-platform experience in content creation, financing, and distribution. She has produced over 60 films and series, and has worked with Academy and Emmy Award-winning directors. Recently Katsoolis built a media venture (Liquid Media Group) with actor Joshua Jackson, which is now public on NASDAQ.

    NYFA Documentary Chair Andrea Swift (photo provided by IFP)

    In addition to panels and screenings, IFP Week presented Spotlight On Documentaries, a mix of 72 documentary features, non-fiction series, and audio stories ranging from an early financing stage to those nearing completion. NYFA Screenwriting Chair Randy Dottin’s work-in-progress film The Chicago Franchise was selected for a prestigious slot in the Spotlight. The unfinished film was produced

    Veranika Nikanava, NYFA Screenwriting Chair Randy Dottin, and Revital Iyov at IFP Week

    by Randall Dottin and Angela Tucker, and executive produced by Cynthia Kobel. After the city of Chicago tore down its high rise public housing towers in 2011, the murder rate continued to climb. The documentary explores the complicated relationship between gun violence, poverty, and residential segregation — and how they’re all interconnected.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank IFP and the Made in NY Media Center for inclusion, yet again, in such a fantastic and thought-provoking week. We look forward to IFP Week 2019!

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  • Shanghai Theatre Academy Representatives Visit New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    Earlier this September, representatives from the Shanghai Theatre Academy visited New York Film Academy’s Battery Park campus in New York City. These representatives included Mr. Lou, General Secretary of Shanghai Theatre Academy, and Mr. Wei, Vice Dean of Film School of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, as well as scholars who are currently in New York.Shanghai Theatre Academy Visit

    The Shanghai Theatre Academy representatives sat down with senior administration and faculty from New York Film Academy (NYFA) to discuss cultural and education affairs between the US and China, as well as potential future partnerships. These senior administration and faculty members from the New York Film Academy included Mr. Jean Sherlock, CEO and owner of the Academy; Mr. Michael Young, President; Mr. David Klein, Senior Executive Vice President; and Dr. Joy Zhu, Executive Vice President (China Region). 

    Both parties have met several times in the past and have already established a strong partnership. The discussions that took place during this month’s meeting were focused mainly on the forefront issues and future plans for furthering educational partnerships between the US and China. 

    Mr. Lou took this opportunity to share his experiences and thoughts on how the Internet has completely reshaped the way entertainment and film are now studied. His perspectives were incredibly deep and well articulated, with Mr. Sherlock and Mr. Young both agreeing with many of his views and thoughts. 

    Shanghai Theatre Academy VisitDiscussions also continued on how to maintain and strengthen the cultural and education relations between the East and West as well as future opportunities for the two institutions to specifically work together. NYFA has prided itself on its focus for a cultural exchange of ideas between the school’s global campuses and the students and educators of China. 

    Late last year, President Michael Young toured China to strengthen the Academy’s cooperation with the country’s aspiring filmmakers, actors, and storytellers. And earlier this summer, a class of students from Shanghai Theatre Academy took a 1-week Photography course at NYFA, where they trained on state-of-the-art equipment with the school’s renowned professional faculty. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks the representatives from the Shanghai Theatre Academy for their visit and for a meaningful and intelligent discussion over several subjects!

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    September 25, 2018 • China, Community Highlights, International Diversity • Views: 401

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts PDN’s 30 2018 Panel

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    Next week, Photo District News (PDN) will present PDN‘s 30 2018: Strategies for Launching and Building a Career, featuring their new and emerging photographers to watch. The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to be hosting the event, which will take place on September 27th. PDN has been one of the top resources for professional photographers for over two decades. Every year since 1999, PDN‘s editors have chosen 30 emerging photographers who represent a variety of styles and genres and have demonstrated a distinctive creativity, vision, and versatility.

    Kyle Durosz - PDN's 30 2018

    Photo by Kyle Durosz

    During this informative discussion, photographers selected for PDN’s 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch will share the most valuable lessons they learned as they launched their careers. They will discuss their strategies for gaining exposure, honing their styles, getting help on business issues, and meeting the challenges of starting a photography career in today’s competitive market.

    Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales - PDN's 30 2018

    Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales

    Free and open to the public, this panel will be moderated by Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of Photo District News, and will feature PDN’s 30 photographers Brad Ogbonna and An Rong Xu, a Sony Artisan of Imagery and New York magazine photo editor Marvin Orellana.

    Pusha T by Brad Ogbonna - PDN's 30 2018

    Pusha T by Brad Ogbonna

    The event is sponsored by Sony and Canson Infinity. The Sony Artisan of Imagery is Michael Rubenstein. Running creative will be Marvin Orellana, Photo Editor, New York magazine. The free seminar will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. and will be followed by a reception from 8-9 p.m. You can view work of the participants of this year’s event on PDN‘s website and profiles on each of the 2018 PDN’s 30 photographers are featured in PDN’s April 2018 issue.

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    September 21, 2018 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, International Diversity, Photography • Views: 666

  • Chinese Consulate Visits New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    Representatives from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles visited New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus on Thursday, August 22nd, 2018. The representatives included Mr. Zhizhe Zhuang, Vice President of Chinese Consulate General; Mr. Jin Gu, Cultural Consul of Chinese Consulate General; Mrs. Jin Wang, Cultural Consul of Chinese Consulate General; and Mrs. Haiying Cai, Education Consul of Chinese Consulate General. 

    These representatives sat down with administration faculty from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) to discuss cultural and education affairs between the US and China, as well as potential future partnerships between NYFA and the Chinese Consulate. Faculty and members from the senior administration from the New York Film Academy included Mr. Jean Sherlock, CEO and owner; Mr. Dan Mackler, Director of the Los Angeles campus; Mr. Sonny Calderon, Dean of the College (Los Angeles); and Joy Zhu, Executive Vice President for the Asia Region. Mr. Bo Jiang, a longtime friend of NYFA and President of the Shanghai Film and Art School, was also in attendance at the meeting.

    Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles Visits New York Film Academy

    Representatives from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles with NYFA Senior Administration

    Both parties introduced their respective schools and organizations, and shared common goals for cultural and education exchange. The common theme through the meeting was that art has no boundaries. The meeting was widely successful, as both parties discovered that there are many commonalities between the two. Mrs. Haiying Cai, Education Consul, had many great questions regarding Chinese students, and the representatives from the Consulate were both impressed and excited by the work that NYFA is doing and has achieved with our Chinese student population. Furthermore, they graciously offered their assistance in any matters that they may provide support on. Talks of future cultural events were also a highlight, and both parties look forward to these future opportunities to work together. 

    After the meeting, the Consulate representatives were taken on a tour of the campus. They had the opportunity to explore the main building on Riverside Drive, as well as the classrooms and studios in Burbank Studios. After the tour, the two parties congregated for dinner, which proved to be both enjoyable and enlightening. During dinner, both parties further explored the cultural and education relations between the East and West as well as future opportunities to work together. The atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant, and the evening was a great success for all involved!

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    August 28, 2018 • Community Highlights, International Diversity • Views: 684

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Broadcast Journalism Attends Digital Taipei 2018

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    Digital Taipei 2018Earlier this month, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Broadcast Journalism Bill Einreinhofer was invited to attend Digital Taipei 2018, a media production forum held in Taiwan. Einreinhofer called it “a wonderful experience.”

    In addition to attending Digital Taipei 2018, Einreinhofer was able to visit its associated trade show, which he found to much more gender diverse than similar events. “I was very impressed,” stated Einreinhofer, adding “Unlike many of the conferences I have attended, there were a significant number of women here. (Media isn’t a ‘guy’s club’ anymore!”) The various items on display were as diverse as the crowd, including many cultural takes on mainstream forms of technology and media. This included virtual reality that incorporated Chinese lanterns alongside the high-tech eyewear.

    Einreinhofer is an Emmy Award winning producer/director/writer who has developed and produced programming for PBS (PBS NewsHour), ABC (Good Morning America), CBS (60 Minutes), Discovery (Spacewalkers: The Ultimate High-Wire Act) and HBO (Diary of a Red Planet) among many other distinguished credits. He is currently producing the feature film Invisible Love, starring NYFA alum Kazy Tauginas. Digital Taipei 2018

    Einreinhofer is very committed to his students, and took the opportunity in Taiwan to showcase samples of some of NYFA’s recent graduates from our broadcast journalism school. This included Broadcast Journalism graduate Lara Gato’s fabulous Resume Reel and recent work by NYFA alum and multimedia journalist (MMJ) Alyssia Taglia.

    Gato and Taglia are just two of the many successful alumni who have graduated from NYFA, one of the country’s top broadcast journalism schools. The core of the NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism program is learning to work both behind and in front of the camera in a location (New York City) that affords aspiring broadcast journalists a huge variety of professional options and challenges students to become resourceful digital reporters who can handle every aspect of covering a story.

    In addition to the conference and trade show, the trip allowed Einreinhofer to explore Taipei, a city that combines modern architecture with traditional urban scenes and cultural touchstones. 

    Einreinhofer made note to give a special thank you to Shawn Tsai, Manager of the Digital Content Industry Promotion Office, who helped organize and coordinate the trip. While we’re glad Einreinhofer got to share his experience and knowhow with Digital Taipei 2018, the New York Film Academy is certainly happy to have him back in New York working closely with the students of our Broadcast Journalism school!

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