On Friday, May 12 five students from the New York Film Academy showcased their short films at the Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival. Held at the beautiful Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Hollywood, select filmmakers were paired with composers to create an original score. The scores were performed live as the films were projected on a screen above the players.
The following students represented the New York Film Academy:
Naimah Hawsah, “Bicycle”
Nani Li Yang, “The Most Beautiful Woman”
Jessica Chung, “Sushi Man”
Tiffany Paulsen, “The Swan”
Zesheng Gao, “Trio”
The New York Film Academy is especially pleased and proud of this collaboration with the Festival, as Tiffany Paulsen’s “The Swan” won the Audience Award for Best Film, and Jessica Chung’s “Sushi Man” won the Audience Award for Best Score.
Hawsah said, “I felt like I was inside the film,” while watching her movie “Bicycle.” Happy with the reception Hawsah said she plans to submit to many more festivals as she hopes her story of a shy young boy will influence children across the globe.
Myriam Frankel, Head of Festival Department at the Los Angeles Campus, created the partnership with the Live Score Film Festival in hopes of elevating the film projects being created by students. NYFA offers degrees in nearly every aspect of filmmaking, but music composition has to be sought outside of the school. Frankel hopes that by building solid bridges with composing communities like fellow sponsors Helix Collective, Megatrax, and the Academy of Scoring Arts students will encourage students to seek original, high quality and customized music scores for their films, as well as facilitate opportunities for fruitful collaboration with composers.
One of the students in attendance, Furaha Bayibsa, described the experience as, “Incredible.” She was particularly taken with a cellist player who received a standing ovation when introduced at the end of the show. “She played with such passion. At one point it looked as if she was going to cry. It was wonderful.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank the composers: Jane Lin, Benjamin Hoff, Annie Rosevear, Bronson Buskett, and Wei-San Hsu for creating beautiful and lasting scores for our students. Congratulations to all of our participants on an amazing showcase.
With experience covering the Syrian War and training at the Documentary School at the New York Film Academy, director Ida Theresa Myklebost takes us up-close and personal into a makeshift refugee camp in Greece where a young boy, Menwar, and his family face the biggest decision of their lives. “Unwelcome” captures his emotional journey and his flight from the devastating conditions in Syria. His story will turn everything you thought you knew about the Syrian refugee crisis on its head. And now, the film will have its North American Premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 27, 2017 at 6pm.
“In times when people become overwhelmed with negative media and fear for potential terrorist attacks, it is important to remember who the actual vast majority of these refugees are, and who really gets their lives destroyed by the terror organizations,” says Myklebost. “The children of Syria have had their lives turned completely upside down. These are the real victims of ISIS and the other terrorist organizations. They are the ones who are being pulled into this war completely against their will, and who have no power to escape.”
Myklebost is a Norwegian journalist, with background from some of the country’s largest TV-stations. She wanted to go deeper and explore the human stories behind the state news. In 2015 she moved to New York to pursue documentary filmmaking at New York Film Academy.
“Although I have a lot of experience in the media world and have worked under high pressure situations covering among others the Syrian war, the knowledge and training I got from NYFA was indispensable,” said Myklebost. “Mainly, I learned to organize on a larger scale, planning a three continental shoot.”
She traveled directly from New York to India to shoot a film that had to be coordinated with her later shoot in Greece. Once in Athens, she led a team, keeping a cool and organized head under high pressure.
Myklebost listed some of the complications, saying, “The police tried to take our passports away, the camp got cleared, we met a few threatening characters who didn’t like us filming, human smugglers and frustrated people talking about ISIS, planning a budget, dealing with many people in chaotic and sometimes dangerous situations, and planning a film while in the field.”
I am really content with how I went over all the shots every night, and saw what we had and didn’t have,” said Myklebost. “I thought out what stories we might be onto and made detailed storyboards, so when I got back to New York, there were no surprises and I could just stitch the film together. These are the skills NYFA taught me. I’ve always been a go-getter, and a hard worker, but NYFA pushed me further. They took the skills I already had and offered me an opportunity to see how far I could go with this. They became a platform where I could bounce my ideas, discuss solutions, learn from the professionals and their experiences; and thus enter the field that much more prepared. The true lesson I take away from NYFA is to finally understand the value and importance of good and thorough pre-production. If you know what you want and how to get it (and how to get it if the first plan doesn’t work, or the second or the third), then the process of making movies in the field, and on the run, becomes that much more enjoyable. It’s hard work, but it feels like play if you’re well prepared.”
The big news in the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism department was a visit by Andy Braddell, Vice President and Managing Director of Global Media Services for the Associated Press. Our students (and some instructors too) had a chance to ask questions about how one of the world’s premiere news organizations is meeting the challenge of an ever-changing media environment. Andy also spoke about his career as a front line journalist, and offered our soon-to-graduate 1-year students some practical job-hunting advice.
NYFA grad Bryanna Reynolds got viewers of Good Morning Melbourne — my favorite Australian morning chat show — a sneak peak of “My Fair Lady Australia,” directed by the wonderful Julie Andrews. (Apparently this is something of an annual event.) She got the inside story from the show’s stars, and seemed to have a pretty good time in the process!
Continuing in southern hemisphere, Vanessa Lorenzini is now working as a reporter at TV Cultura in Brazil. Headquartered in Sao Paulo, the network specializes in educational and cultural programming, but also has sports and entertainment offerings as well. One of my favorite stories from when Vanessa was a NYFA student is a charming report on how to take care of the family dog during a cold New York City winter. (Little kids and animals, you can’t go wrong…) A portion of that story is included in her 2015 Resume Reel.
Finally, Broadcast Journalism alum Myla Kucherezhko was so inspired by what she learned at NYFA that she made a total career change. She left the world of high finance and is now focusing entirely on being a multimedia journalist. One of her recent projects is a profile of Swedish fashion icon Gudrun Sjoden. (You can see the story on aol.)
New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism student Ljuba-Lada Marinovic believes capturing a good story requires both diligence and a sense of urgency. When she and classmate Kyle Morris learned of a devastating auto accident in New York City’s iconic Times Square, they knew they had to leave NYFA’s downtown Manhattan campus immediately. In fact, they left so quickly the only “cameras” they had were their mobile phones. Later, Lada recalled, “I remembered how, in one of my first NYFA Broadcast Journalism classes, the instructor pulled out his cell phone and told us that ‘in an emergency, this is all you need.'”
One person was dead, and 22 others injured in Times Square. Was it an act of terrorism? Or a tragic accident? In fact, it turned out to be a case of drunk driving.
A TV news reporter in her home country of Croatia, Lada came to NYFA to become a multimedia journalist. So did former Alaska resident Kyle Morris. Fortunately Lada still had a microphone windscreen emblazoned with the letters RTL — the initials of well-known European broadcaster Radio Television Luxembourg. Lada did an on-the-scene report direct from Times Square for RTL, with Kyle shooting her stand-up on her iPhone. The story first aired in Croatia, then went viral online.
“It was all super stressful, but super exciting! If somebody told me a few months ago that I would use my phone to report for a TV station, I probably would not have believe it. But with the knowledge NYFA gave me, it felt completely normal.”
According to NYFA Broadcast Journalism Chair Bill Einreinhofer, “Lada and Kyle are examples of the highly motivated, truly creative students who attend the New York Film Academy. The storytelling skills they learn prepare them for careers in a wide range of news formats. But the key to their success is the passion they bring to their work.”
Now in its 25th year, the New York Film Academy has established itself as one of the premier visual and performing arts schools in the world. It has campuses in New York City, Los Angeles and South Beach, as well as locations in Australia, Florence and Mumbai. Information about the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program can be found at www.nyfa.edu/broadcast-journalism-school/.
This week, Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby welcomed back her former student Caitlin Cooke for an Industry Trends Series discussion. Aside from her acting career, Cooke is a Casting Associate at Donna Grossman Casting, a full service boutique casting company based in Manhattan. Donna Grossman Casting cast commercials, print, beauty, editorial, TV, film, theater, web series, live events and special projects.
photo by Alejandra Arias
Cooke began the talk by saying, “This school to me, it kind of makes me emotional,” said Cooke. “It brought me a lot of friends and a lot of opportunities and I met a lot of people in the industry. Everything I learned here was helpful. I learned a lot of the business side. Also the access to the equipment I had here is insane. Access to the industry here was way better than other places. And the advice that Glynis [Rigsby] and other instructors offer is invaluable.”
Facing the competitive field of actors after graduating, Cooke landed notable TV series and feature films such as Emmy-winning NBC series, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and the star-studded comedy blockbuster, “Grown Ups 2.” Most recently, she had the chance to guest star in an episode of “Tough Love,” a web series created by her friend Steven Bell. To further her and her friends career, she created an original series, “Rules of Cool,” which she was able to sell.
“Creating your own work is very important,” she said. “When you get out of school you’re not sure what to do next. We decided to take control and create our own opportunities.”
Cooke provided invaluable insight into the casting process, breaking down the process and providing tips and suggestions to improve NYFA Acting for Film students’ auditions.
“Auditions are like a first date,” said Cooke. “Act natural, but if it doesn’t work out there’s always someone else. Always take a chance and always listen to what they have to say. Always be appropriate for what the role is. Look appropriate for what you’re doing.”
NYFA would like to thank Ms Cooke for taking the time to speak to our students, and we wish her the best of luck on her blossoming career!
New York Film Academy Photography School alumna Zhuoqun Jiang’s photography work, “Living Shape,” has been selected by the Florence Biennale. The FlorenceBiennale is the major contemporary art exhibition in Florence (Italy), where it is regarded as an outstanding showcase of the international contemporary art production. Every two years the FlorenceBiennale enlivens the Medicean city with a program of collateral events such as conferences, displays, performances, workshops and lectures. All this with a view to offer artists and their audience the opportunity to engage with art and culture, and know more about the theme of each edition of the biennial.
Originally from China, Jiang moved to NY to attend Photography School at NYFA, where she created this piece as her first year final project. She then moved on to her MFA in Photography at NYFA Los Angeles.
“This piece was created to show my respect of life,” says Jiang. “I am a minimalist, and I think the most simple thing carries the greatest power. The triangle represents strength and the color means growing and blooming of life. I handmade the costume as a soft sculpture and asked a model to dress it up.”
Jiang says she was always encouraged by her instructors to create and explore new ideas and concepts. “The skills I learned at NYFA made me confident to face any problem while shooting my projects,” she added.
Jiang has experience in many fields of art; her work consists of sculptural, fashion based, fiber art and photo illustrations. They can be exhibited both as photographs and individual pieces. Her current focus is on exploring the artistic expression through craft, sculpture and photography.
The Florence Biennale 2017 will be held October 6th – 15th at Fortezza da Basso, Florence.
Growing up in Argentina, Gonzalo Maiztegui has been acting since drama club days in school. In fact, he recalls the moment he came to the realization that acting was going to be his lifelong passion and career. From there he says he fell in love with the New York Film Academy, where he attended the AFA Acting for Film program at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles.
After graduating, Maiztegui booked his first National Commercial for Kellogg’s Eggo in the famous “Leggo my Eggo” campaign.
“I auditioned for the part, like any other actor, but truthfully many things I learned at NYFA helped me a lot in that audition,” said Maiztegui. “I was simply myself, and not fake, and then I made strong decisions like my teachers taught me to. Later on the day of the shoot, on set, the owner of the spot came up to me and told me he had made the decision of picking me, and he chose me because I was myself and he liked that and the strong choices I made.”
Maiztegui recently finished shooting a project for BuzzFeed, which will actually be the first Web-series for Snapchat. He also booked an Apple Commercial for their most recent App, “Clips.”
Ever After Parties provide multi-talented performers for not only children’s birthday parties, but also corporate events, weddings, schools and shopping mall displays, and were nominated for Best Party Entertainment in the What’s On 4 Kids Awards 2017.
Playing Sleeping Beauty, “Snow White and Ana (“Frozen”), to name a few, Jennings has been spreading joy and wonder throughout the South East Queensland area.
During her time at NYFA Australia, Jennings enjoyed “the amazing bonds made with the lecturers and endless opportunities that followed with those bonds.” She continues, “I also loved being in such a tight knit community with fellow actors and filmmakers.”
Jennings’ advice to aspiring performers is to “use the gifts you have been given to be a voice for those who don’t have one.” She believes that “hard work is silent, let your work be the words.”
Now signed with Williams Talent, Jennings has already auditioned for the Queensland Theatre Company and has been auditioning for various roles in film and theatre productions.
While many young artists flock to New York City from all around the world, few realize just how difficult it can be to break into the competitive world of “show business.” This personal and relatable struggle was the inspiration behind director Rodrigo Baumgartner Ayres’ film “Felices Acá En New York” (“Happy Here in New York”), which stars NYFA alumna Caroline Rosalino. Both Ayres and Rosalino met during their studies at the New York Film Academy and collaborated on the project soon after.
The film has been well received, having screened at eight film festivals and having been recognized with a “Best Actress Award Nomination” at the Queens World Film Festival. The film won a “Best Audience Award” at Indie Works and a “Best Actress Platinum” at NYC Indie Fest.
NYFA caught up with the two alumni to discuss more about the film and their blossoming careers since graduating.
Congrats on the success of your film! Can you tell us where you’re from, and what brought you to NYFA?
CR: I’m from Brazil, but I also lived in Argentina for five years where I did my BFA in Acting, as well as working in their “off-Broadway theater circle.” I came to the US for the first time for a three month work intership, and I walked past NYFA the very first day I was in New York City. I even have a picture of myself in front of NYFA saying, “Mom, I don’t think I am coming back,” and the funny thing is, it became true. I started researching about NYFA and I found it was exactly what I was missing in my work — since at that point my focus was mainly theatre and soap opera acting.
RA: I am from Porto Alegre, Brazil. I decided to come to NYFA during my last year of adversing & marketing school in Brazil. I wasn’t excited about pursuing that career, I felt there was somehitng missing and it was one of my instructors Anny Baggiotto who had attended NYFA a few years earlier the recommended the school to me.
Caroline, can you tell us how you met Rodrigo?
CR: While at NYFA, I saw him working everyday at our computer lab, but we never had the opportunty to work together during school time. During my OPT time after NYFA, I invited Rodrigo to direct this film and luckily he dedicated himself entirely to the project.
Rodrigo, in your own words, can you tell us what this film is about?
RA: It’s about me, and Caroline’s, and a whole bunch of other foreigner artists’ lives. People who come to NYC with a dream to make it in show business, but soon realize that life here is harder than it looks. It’s about the idealized image that people in our home countries have of us because of the fact that we are living in New York City, supposedly the city of dreams. They don’t know what it means to be a foreigner in this country: working day jobs, struggling with money, having a constant fear of failure, which will culminate into us having no other option besides going back to our home countries with a feeling of defeat. It’s also about friendship. Sol’s character is sacrificing a long lasting friendship with Vicky in order to fulfill her dreams. And these ‘breaking apart’ situations happen no matter how hard you try to keep in touch with friends and family because your life in NYC is very intense; you can’t take a breath between working day jobs and pursing your career as an artist.
How did this film come about?
RA: This film was a nine day pre-production process: one day of shooting and over six months of editing, which I did myself. Caroline sent me a story written by Alejandro Escaño, a writer and theatre performer from Argentina, and she told me she wanted me to DP it. She thought I had a camera and equipment, which I didn’t, and she had another director lined up for the shoot. I told her I didn’t have a camera, but I might be able to put the production together. Apparently, the other director wasn’t showing much interest, so I took over and brought my friend Daniel Rey Lozano to DP and operate the camera, borrowed sound equipment from an indie company called ‘Gradient Films’, whom I worked with before, and Caroline called Andrei Costanzi Posse to operate the sound, a Brazilian actor who lives in NYC, which I had also previously met in another project.
We were only five people on set and shooting guerrilla style. Months later, in the later stages of editing, I brought in my cousin from Brazil, Saulo Baumgartner Mosna, to compose the music for us.
The biggest challenge was adapting the story that was sent to us by Alejandro, which was a great story with a lot of heart, but also not written in a standard script format. It was a story written in Word, which required a lot of changes if we wanted to have any hopes of executing it as a film. The original story involved a higher budget, at least three or four days of shooting, and more time of pre-production. So with nine days until the shooting date, Caroline and I were re-writing the story and adapting it into our ‘one day’ schedule.
One day of shooting seems like a lot to handle. Can you tell me how you were able to pull off a one day shoot?
RA: We got a crew of reliable people who are in it for the art rather than money, and that’s why we were able to shoot for some 16 hours. It was definitely exhausting, but when you have people like that, you know are going to see it through to the end. When Carolyn and I were writing the script I was careful with how I was shaping the scenes. Like I said, the original story was quite different — more places, different style — so I tried to make it logistically viable, so that we could travel quickly between locations.
What did you see in Caroline that made her a perfect fit for the role of Sol?
RA: Caroline is a great actress, seasoned, reliable and she really fit the role, because just like her character Sol, Caroline is also an immigrant who is struggling to make a living here in NYC. Except maybe for the ‘killing’ visions and day dreaming, Sol and Caroline are quite similar. But the fact was that Caroline reached me with the story first. Knowing her for her professionalism and talent, I had no doubts that we could make this project work.
Caroline, can you tell us a little bit about Sol and who she is as a character?
CR: Sol is a struggling actress that has been living in NY for three years. She wants to sustain the image of a successful life, but deep down she is not completely proud of all her choices. The truth comes to surface when her best friend from Argentina comes to visit her.
Would you two say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being prepared for this film?
CR: I was truly blessed to have a great group at NYFA. From my colleagues that had so much potential — not even mentioning the unforgettable time we had together — but also our teachers were excellent and always open to work as well. NYFA prepared me not only to shift my theatre acting experience into film format and understand the professional filmmaking process, but essentially to understand acting as a business and how the film industry works in the US.
RA: NYFA played an absolutely fundamental role in my career as a filmmaker. I had no previous background in film before — coming from advertising and marketing — so everything I learned was at NYFA. I did the One-Year Filmmaking Conservatory, which was very intense and an incredible learning experience. Kudos to my directing instructor Paul Warner; he was my main source of inspiration and I follow his teachings blindingly. I definitely learned a lot from him. NYFA cultivated my passion for the art and set me on track for a career that I can no longer live without. NYFA’s program is complete. I graduated the school feeling confident about my talent and what I could accomplish in the future.
Tell us what’s next for the two of you.
CR: I have a few jobs lined up. I might be traveling around the country for that. One of them is a virtual reality film. I can’t wait for the experience of shooting in 360. And for certain the feature of “Felices Acá en New York.”
RA: I am shooting two new short films in May – June, 2017. One is a comedy that pays tribute to NYC as a romantic and also productive environment. The other one is a drama about loss and grief that criticizes America’s support program to veterans of war. Besides that, I also work as 1st Assistant Director, so I am involved in a sci-fi short film to be shot in September, 2017. I am also constantly writing. I have six scripts in the works that are dialogue pieces primarily made for the stage and that I also intend to turn into films.
On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to the Up Stairs Lounge, a gay bar located on the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. For 43 years, it was the deadliest single event to affect the gay community in U.S. history. Thirty-two people were killed and some bodies were never identified. One-third of the New Orleans chapter of the Metropolitan Community Church were killed in the blaze, including two clergy. The primary suspect was never charged with the crime. The tragedy did not stop at the loss of lives. There were also the delayed injuries: lost jobs, fear, public ridicule and severed families. The devastation was compounded by the homophobic reactions and utter lack of concern by the general public, government and religious leaders. The fire permanently altered lives and was the root of many lifelong struggles.
NYFA Alumnus Robert Camina at Manhattan Film Festival Premiere
Despite the staggering historical significance, few people know about the devastating event. Filled with the desire to bring this tragic story to life, director Robert Camina made this the focus of his second documentary feature, “Upstairs Inferno.” Camina’s documentary brings humanity to the headlines by shining a light on the very painful effect the tragedy had on survivors, witnesses and loved ones. Their interviews are gut wrenching, yet insightful. Some of the people interviewed in the film haven’t publicly discussed the fire until now, especially on camera. The film is narrated by New Orleans’ own New York Times Best Selling Author, Christopher Rice.
The documentary has been an official selection of nearly 40 film festivals around the world, winning a total of 8 Jury Awards, 4 Audience Awards, 2 Special Programming Awards and 2 Community Awards. It’s been in the spotlight in the New York Times and CNN. The film has received glowing reviews, including the San Francisco Chronicle citing that the doc “echoes of Spike Lee’s [Oscar nominated] civil rights film “4 Little Girls.” It was also invited to screen at the Library of Congress in February 2017.
Camina, a 2006 graduate of the New York Film Academy 8-Week Film Workshop, recently returned to New York for his NY premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival at Cinema Village. The festival awarded his film with the distinguished Film Heals Award.
“New York has a very special place in my heart,” said Camina at his premiere. “This is where my film career began — at the New York Film Academy in 2006.”
Camina’s first official film, “Hunter4Love,” a short comedy produced at the New York Film Academy, played in twelve film festivals across the U.S.
“The New York Film Academy provided more than technical training,” added Camina. “It provided an opportunity to meet other people like myself. You can’t place a value on that. Before our session, I had never felt such a strong bond with a group of people. I felt I had finally found my tribe after years of looking. My class was filled with phenomenal people from around the world with a common passion: to tell stories. We got very close and in fact, we all still keep keep in touch through a Facebook group. Two members of my class who met for the first time while at NYFA, ended up getting married and starting a family. We not only made movies, we made lifelong friendships. My classmates gave me (and continue to give me) the support to pursue filmmaking.”
A promotional video that Camina directed for the Dallas Theater Center, “Meet Kevin Moriarty,” earned him 2 Telly Awards: “Outstanding Achievement in Direct Marketing” – Bronze, and “Cultural Marketing” – Bronze. The Telly Awards are the advertising industry’s highest accolade.
“Martini the Movie,” Camina’s second official short film, wrapped production in the Fall of 2008. The film screened at 10 film festivals across the country, winning the award for “Best Comedic Short Film (Men’s)” at the 2009 QCinema Film Festival. The film also won the Audience Award for “Best Musical” at the 2012 Out in the Desert – Tucson International LGBT Film Festival.
In June 2009, Camina began principal photography on his first full length feature film, “Raid of the Rainbow Lounge,” a documentary about the controversial and violent police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas gay bar that sparked an unprecedented outcry by the gay community leading to historic change. The film, narrated by Emmy nominated actress and TV icon, Meredith Baxter, opened to rave reviews and a media frenzy in March 2012. It was the official selection of more than 30 film festivals and garnered a number of awards, including 5 “Best” film awards and 3 “Audience” awards.
One of the many highlights of Camina’s career was receiving an invitation to the White House to meet President Obama during Obama’s 2012 LGBT Pride Month Reception.
“Upstairs Inferno” continues to screen at film festivals across the country.