Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • Producing Grad Inks TV Series Deal From NYFA Guest Speaker

    Heidi Segal Recent Producing graduate from the New York Film Academy’s 1-Year Producing Conservatory, Heidi Segal, is a shining example of how it’s never too late to change your career and pursue an endeavor that is much more fulfilling. The former government contractor of 25 years rediscovered her creativity and hit the ground running while learning the craft of producing. She’s been busy working on several projects since graduating from the program, and was able to catch us up with her new career in a recent interview.

    What made you decide to transition from government contractor to producing for film and TV?

    After escaping an abusive marriage in early 2015, I relocated from Annapolis to Baltimore, MD to be closer to my client base. That summer I discovered “House of Cards” season 4 was shooting in the city and was curious about what it’s like being on set. So I signed up to be an extra and ended up working on the show 9 days over the next couple of months, to include being Robin Wright’s stand-in for a day. Since my industry had become so standardized, there was no longer anything creative about it, so I started crewing for friends on their first films or web series and taking acting classes. Quickly realizing that I preferred being behind the camera instead of in front of it, and enjoying the creative process of filmmaking, I decided to take a couple months off work and attend the 8-week Filmmaking program at NYFA with the intention of returning to Baltimore and my career. However, halfway through the filmmaking course, I realized producing films and TV series was exactly what I should have been doing years ago. Between my natural creativity and 25+ years of directly-relevant business experience, I immediately signed up for NYFA’s 1-Year Producing Conservatory, quit my consulting business, moved to NYC, started Mixed Sygnls Productions, LLC, and went back to school. I’m glad I did.

    Would you say the producing school at NYFA was useful in terms of what you’re currently working on?

    Absolutely. There is no way I could have executed this career transition as completely and efficiently as I have. Without the formal training and networking opportunities provided by the program, it would take me years to figure out I’m doing. I would not have been able to quit my career and focus solely on creating films and TV series.

    Can you tell me a little bit about your short film, “Matthew’s Monsters”? 

    The logline is: Happy-go-lucky by day, a young boy is haunted by the sounds of monsters stomping around his room when the lights go out…until he discovers the source of the monsters’ footsteps.

    I adapted “Matthew’s Monsters” from a story in the book “Icarus of Brooklyn” by Matthew Alper. I wrote the screenplay, cast the two characters (a 4 year-old boy and his mother), directed, and edited the film. I also optioned “Icarus of Brooklyn” for my thesis project and am now developing it into a feature film.

    “Matthew’s Monsters” will be screening at the Cannes Short Film Corner and is being considered for 35 other film festivals worldwide.

    matthews monsters

    “Matthew’s Monsters”

    Can you talk a little bit about your series, “Rough Cut”? Where did the idea come from and what is the status of the project?

    We had a reality TV sizzle reel assignment in the Producing Conservatory 2nd quarter. Each student had to come up with their own concept and pitch to the Producing Department Chair, Neal Weisman. I came up with an entertainment industry-related competition/reality series. I apparently went overboard on my assignment and produced a full pitch package. Neil and Richard D’Angelo suggested I take the project out of the school and find an experienced reality TV Showrunner to attach as a Co-Producer and start marketing the series. I pitched the project to Eric Leemon after he came in for a guest lecture. He loved it, we inked a deal, and he handed it off to his agent at William Morris Endeavor (WME) to shop around for a buyer.

    You’ve recently been working with ID/Discovery. Can you tell me what your position is at the network?

    We had an internship requirement in the Producing Conservatory 4th quarter. Eric Leemon facilitated getting me onboard with HudSun Media here in NYC to work on the development team on the Discovery ID Channel crime reality show Bad Blood season 2. I worked as a researcher to identify murder cases that met the show’s concept for episode consideration. After graduating from NYFA, HudSun Media hired me on an as-needed basis to continue episode research support and to help the production team prepare to shoot and produce episode 5. All 6 episodes are in post production – so my work there is complete.

    What do you hope to achieve at Cannes, especially with your involvement in the Cannes Film Business Program?

    The networking opportunity at Cannes is my primary focus. I’m hoping to find financing and distribution deals for my upcoming feature films and possibly for “Rough Cut” and the other TV series I am creating.

    What else are you currently working on?

    Under my company, Mixed Sygnls Productions, LLC, I have optioned four feature films. I am currently developing and preparing to produce two of the smaller budget features — “My Name is Velouria,” a $2M action thriller that I plan to shoot in upstate NY this fall, and “Icarus of Brooklyn,” a $3M coming-of-age drama set in Brooklyn in the late 70s, early 80s that I plan to shoot in NYC next spring.

    The other two features will be in the $15-25M range with production planned for late 2018 into 2019. I am also producing a teaser for Michael C. Bryan’s book “Creepy Kid” that will be published later this year. We plan to co-produce a feature film and TV series based on the book. In addition to “Rough Cut,” I am also creating a comedy reality TV series called “Kinda Sketchy” and two narrative TV series. I am creating “Bad Wolff”as a limited series about domestic abuse and domestic violence with the plan to launch a follow-on drama series called “Closure.”

    April 20, 2017 • Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1440

  • April 2017 Broadcast Journalism Alumni News

    Nicole CrossThe New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism Department has more exciting news regarding its alumni.

    Nicole Cross snagged four Associated Press Louisiana awards recently, including Best Daytime Newscast and Achievement. Nicole came to NYFA to begin a total career change, and she treated class time and project assignments as if they were a “job,” tackling everything with discipline, thoroughness and passion. She even made her way to Washington, DC so that she had stand-ups shot there for her Resume Reel.

    Christian Good arrived at NYFA fresh from a degree program in law enforcement. The Toronto Police Department’s loss was our gain. Upon graduation, Christian started building his freelance career as a multimedia journalist. Most recently, he has been traveling the world. He’s working with fashion designer and writer Marcia Sherrill. This past week we found out the two of them were “rolling in rupees” in New Delhi.

    Chritian Goode and Marcia Sherrill in New Dehli
    Prior to enrolling at NYFA, Akeem Holmes received a BA in Communications and Media Studies from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. (He was an outstanding basketball player there too.) Now Akeem is taking the skills he learned at NYFA and returning to his alma mater, where he is building a digital media team to cover the Randolph-Macon sports program. He is training students from the Filmmaking and Journalism programs how to make sports stories that are engaging, exciting and fun.

    That’s Akeem back in his student days, waiting to shoot a talk show segment utilizing a green screen effect to create a “virtual set.” He’s with classmates Kecia Gayle (center) and Maia Walker (left).

    NYFA News green screen

    Finally, congratulations to Spring 2017 8-Week Workshop grad Lizzie Yang, who is working as a full-time freelance Production Assistance at Lincoln Square Productions. “I bet you are familiar with it, but it’s a production company under ABC News. Even though (for now) my contract would only last until the project I’m assigned to is finished, hopefully I can jump onto other projects while I am here and continue working. I am assigned to a 2-hour long documentary production about the last 100 days of Princess Diana, since it’s the 20th anniversary of her death in 1997.”

    Congrats to all of these fine Broadcast Journalism alumni!

    April 18, 2017 • Broadcast Journalism, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1081

  • Acting for Film Alumnus Torsten Colijn Nominated for Best Ensemble Cast

    torstenThe 2017 FirstGlance Film Festival Los Angeles has announced its official nominations for the 17th edition, which will take place April 20-23.

    Torsten Colijn, an Acting for Film alumnus from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, has been nominated as part of the ‘Best Ensemble Cast (short)’ for his role in his first US film production “Leben – Life,” a coming of age story about passion for life, exploration, and self acceptance.

    “I truly did not see this one coming,” said Colijn. “This is really awesome, and such a big compliment to the whole international cast. Claudia Claase, Anastasiya Kuptsevych, Musa Lutfi Trevathan, we all did our best to make this story come to life. With great co-directing by Chessa Mehlman and Ian Sumner.”

    The film addresses the struggles that LGBT youth face while showing strength, beauty, and happiness as two women find each other during their travels through Europe. Colijn plays a waiter, whom one of the women comes across on her journey.

    For Torsten it’s his first USA nomination, although he’s acted in over 60 European film, TV and theatre projects.

    “My training at NYFA taught me about the business of film in America, which is totally different than the Dutch film scene,” said Colijn.

    Earlier this year Torsten attended the Canada Independent Film Festival, in Montreal, on behalf of the producer of the Belgian drama film “Rose,” in which Torsten stars as the emphatic doctor, Zachee, who is determined to save the life of a young girl named Rose. With 12 awards worldwide and 43 nominations so far, “Rose” had its Canadian premiere in Montreal as the film had the honor of kicking of the film festival.

    Colijn is represented by Eric Stevens from Rainbow High Entertainment.

    April 18, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1609

  • Filmmaking Alumnus John Jencks Returns to NYFA to Screen “The Hippopotamus”

    Earlier this month, New York Film Academy Filmmaking alumnus John Jencks returned to NYFA Los Angeles to screen his feature film, “The Hippopotamus,” starring NYFA Board Member Matthew Modine.

    Having grown up in the UK, Jencks recalls his time as a student, hitting up three movies a day at the local theater. His fascination with films took a step further when he worked on a commercial shoot in Portgual with his friends. “I enjoyed the camaraderie of it all,” he said. Ultimately, Jencks relished the multitude of challenges and coming up with different solutions.

    john jencksIt was at that point that Jencks wanted to create his own projects under the tutelage of industry professionals in Los Angeles, where his father happened to live and teach at a local university.

    “I chose NYFA because they give you a camera and let you go on with it,” he said. “It’s an environment where I can make a lot of mistakes and then work them out with industry professionals.”

    While at NYFA, Jencks quickly found his clique who he bonded with and shot a series of short films that helped build his reel and filmmaking experience. After graduating from NYFA, he got a job at the production company, Muse. “I was the first person at work and the last person to leave, but as long as I kept a smile on my face, they’d keep giving me more and more responsibility,” said Jencks about his time with Muse.

    From there he took a job as a 3rd AD on a feature film that was filming in Utah. The film, “Blind Dating,” which starred Chris Pine, introduced Jencks to a fairly large budget production.

    He then went on to produce “Lying” which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, though things didn’t go quite as he’d hoped. “I was booed by the crowd. I believe the film may have been too pretentious, even for the French,” he quipped. Nevertheless, Jencks pressed on in his career, starting his own production company, Electric Shadow Company.

    Jencks has now been working in the film industry for over 10 years as a producer, writer and director. His short film, “Go Away, Please!” (2009) won the Shooting People prize at London Short Film Festival. His debut feature, “The Fold,” starred Catherine McCormack and got its cinematic release in 2013.

    Interestingly enough, back in 2002, while staying at producer Roger Corman’s home, Jencks noticed Stephen Fry’s novel, “The Hippopotamus,” resting alongside his guest bed. “I laughed and laughed,” said Jencks. “I responded very well to the protagonist and antagonist. I thought this story would do well if we were able to take the essence of it and provide a traditional narrative structure.”

    Years later he acquired the rights to the novel and directed the film under his production company.

    When it comes to directing his actors, Jencks talks about using the script as the blueprint to abide by, and how he interprets it is a really interesting journey. His job is to ensure each and every talented actor is on the same page. “You have to tie everything together. That’s the job of the director,” he adds.

    Aside from his directing credits, Jencks has executive producer credits on “Swallows and Amazons” (Andrew Scott, Rafe Spall and Kelly Macdonald); “The Trust” (Nic Cage and Elijah Wood), “Terminal” (Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Mike Myers) and “The Crow” remake.

    As for his role as executive producer, Jencks says he trusts his directors and tries not to get involved with the creative.

    john jencks

    NYFA Dean of the College Sonny Calderon with John Jencks

    Outside of the entertainment business, Jencks is a family man and a keen advocate of human rights. He’s closely involved with Reprieve and Just for Kids Law.

    He is the proud custodian of the internationally renowned “Garden of Cosmic Speculation” designed and created by his father, architect and landform artist Charles Jencks and late mother Maggie Keswick Jencksat, at their family home near Dumfries. His parents are also the founders of Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, which now have 17 units at major NHS cancer hospitals throughout the UK and overseas.

    For those with an affinity for wine, Jencks is also passionate about natural wine and is a part owner of Aubert and Mascoli Ltd, which supplies organic and biodynamic wine to some of the UK’s best restaurants and various discerning private clients.

    April 14, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1689

  • NYFA Alumnus Jaspal Binning’s “Ovum” Available on Digital and VOD

    Beginning today, you’ll be able to watch New York Film Academy Musical Theatre alumnus, Jaspal Binning‘s newest independent feature, “Ovum,” on Digital (iTunes), DVD and Video-on-Demand (VOD). Binning both stars and is executive producer in this dark, comedic, yet uniquely poignant story about the mysterious world of egg donation, which is loosely based on the true-life experience of writer/star Sonja O’Hara.

    Ovum

    In addition to Binning and O’Hara, the film stars Hassan Johnson (“The Wire”), Katie Morrison (“Donnie”), Jaspal Binning (“Brown Nation”) and Rutanya Alda (“The Deer Hunter”). It is directed by Matt Ott, with Dan McBride as editor and director of photography. The film is produced by Vincent Petrosini, Anna Lauren Farrell and Sonja O’Hara. Jeff Forbes, Jack Turner, Kris Frank, and Elyssa Lyn Rabinowitz.

    “The idea for Ovum came to me when I was flipping through the pages of Backstage,” said writer and star, Sonja O’Hara. “Next to casting notices for student films and Off-Off-Broadway plays, I noticed a picture of a group of beautiful, glowing young women and an ad that read: Do something meaningful. Help a woman in need. $8,000 dollars. I remember thinking, ‘here they are marketing a dangerous and experimental vanity procedure to fledgling actresses who are more often than not desperate and financially impaired young women.’ Ultimately I discovered that the in vitro fertilization process can be potentially more affordable than the sometimes exorbitant adoption fees in New York State. The whole issue wasn’t black and white and I felt compelled to explore the questionable moral gray area of financial compensation in exchange for human life. Could an audience relate to a self-serving female character who sells her eggs?”

    This is not the first collaboration with Binning and O’Hara. The two won Best Director prize at the New York Television Festival and Best Pilot of the Festival at ITV Fest for “Doomsday.”

    Since graduating from the Musical Theatre program, Binning has also appeared in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “The Newsroom,” and he plays the lead in the Netflix’s original series, “Brown Nation.”

     

    April 11, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1500

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Alumnus Works on “Pacific Rim 2” and “Jungle”

    Joe TiernanSince graduating from the Filmmaking program at the New York Film Academy, Gold Coast, Joe Tiernan worked on back-to-back blockbuster projects such as “Pacific Rim 2” and “Jungle,” starring Daniel Radcliffe.

    With credits including Australian features “Australia Day,” “Flammable Children” and “Boar,” Tiernan believes NYFA has him well prepared for working in the real world of film and television. “Understanding on-set lingo is essential. I’m happy that was well covered at NYFA,” says Joe.

    Tiernan’s brush with legendary Australian actor Geoffrey Rush during the filming of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” at Village Roadshow Studios is one of his fondest memories of student life at NYFA Gold Coast.

    Discussing the making of a movie about his life, Tiernan explains, “Well, I’m a sucker for a good rom-com and I think Domnhall Gleeson is a champ.” The title? “Redheads,” says Joe.

    The opportunities keep on coming for Joe: “I’ve got two more Art Department gigs lined up on some local features this year though the grand plan is to get on a ‘Star Wars’ set, then I can die a happy man.”

  • NYFA Grad’s “Check Your Mate” Wins at the Los Angeles Short Film Festival

    eliza bolshWe are pleased to announce that New York Film Academy alumna Eliza Bolsh’s film “Check your Mate” won Best Short at the Los Angeles Short Awards Film Festival! Bolsh also won the nomination for “Best Female Director” at the European Film Festival, as well as awards and nominations at other film festivals. This summer, the film will screen at the Cannes Film Festival and at the Mediterranean Film Festival in Italy.

    We had the opportunity to speak with Eliza despite her busy festival schedule.

    Eliza, congrats on your awards! Can you please tell us about your film?

    “Check your Mate” is a drama with deep emotional overtones. It tells us about a successful emancipated elderly woman. She used to manage her life as she wanted. She built a career and her life, and now she likes to teach the others, even if they don’t ask about it. Since she plays chess well, she uses her ability to see how much a person is afraid. She especially likes to play with her sister’s grandson. She teaches him strategies in business and always wins. One day, his wedding is at stake. He needs to win whatever it takes. But to do it he must find her weak spot.

    I was inspired by the fact that in my childhood my grandfather played chess with me. He skillfully linked the moves with real life strategies. He provided me with great food for meditation. Now I understand that it was an invaluable experience. There is a simple, vital and profound human history at the heart of my film.

    What were some of the difficulties you faced while creating your film?

    The budget was small, only $15,000. We worked at night to observe the context of the mystery. At the heart of it were two very complicated chess games, created for this film by a professional. The actors had a difficult task to remember all the moves, and, in fact, they had not played before.

    What made you decide to attend the New York Film Academy Los Angeles?

    Los Angeles is the meridian of world cinema, so I chose to study at the New York Film Academy. I have always been a creative person — that’s why I wanted to be realized on a world-wide basis.

    Are you currently working on anything else that you’d like to share?

    Recently I opened my production company, Boldman Bolsh Production, LLC in Los Angeles, which helps other people realize and implement their projects. We create music videos, commercials, films and all stages of the production, starting with the legal registration of documents, finishing with the construction of the set, castings, photography.

    I have far-reaching plans. I want to create global projects and develop my company in all directions. I’m also writing a script for a series. I plan to start shooting at the end of this year, or the beginning of next year. I hope audiences will love it.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Eliza Bolsh for taking the time to speak with us.

    April 6, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1493

  • NYFA Alumna Wins Best Supporting Actress Award and More

    tasteDanielle Kronenberg is a British actress who currently lives in Los Angeles. She started her training at a very young age at a prestigious full time children’s drama school in London and made her West End debut at nine — the same year she won an award at the London Film Festival. She then went on to star in a number of commercials for the UK and the US.

    Since living in the US, and graduating from the Acting for Film program at the New York Film Academy, Kronenberg has starred in many independent films and a children’s web-series, which she produced. She’s also co-created and produced two of her own films, one of which, “Canvas,” won two awards for producing and the other, “Taste,” won three producing awards and two best supporting actress awards thus far.

    “I think going to NYFA was one of the best years of my training,” said Kronenberg. “I got to study with some great teachers, and I’ve stayed in touch with them too. Also, being part of the NYFA networking circle is pretty incredible. I can now call upon friends and say ‘Hey, I have an idea, let’s shoot something,’ and I know I’ll have a whole team to shoot with. A truly priceless experience.”

    “Taste,” which awarded her a Best Supporting Actress Award, is about a bulimic model who moves to NY to pursue her modeling career, but the secret that she’s harboring comes to the surface and cannot be contained once she meets Evan, a manipulative, successful fashion photographer who has a habit of controlling her muses.

    The writer of the film, Jay Palmieri Jr., who’s also a NYFA graduate, approached Kronenberg after starring in his film. “He said he wanted to collaborate on an LGBT film together as we’re both in that world,” recalls Kronenberg. “So we came up with a story and decided to produce it together. Jay wrote the role of ‘Evan’ for me, as he said he wanted to see me play a very dark emotional character. I’m so glad he did as it was my most challenging role. I’m not like Evan at all, so to play her was a lot of fun. I think the most challenging part was to really get into the head of Evan, and to start thinking like her. She’s totally dark and twisted. I found myself staying in character for most of the shoot, which was also fun.”

    kronenberg

    Kronenberg plays Evan, a fashion photographer in NY who has very manipulative ways. “Evan is the type of woman who doesn’t take no for an answer,” says Kronenberg. “She’s highly successful and has many models falling at her feet in the hopes of getting a big shoot.”

    “Taste” is currently in 15 festivals and counting. It’s streaming on digitalboxoffice.tv — where you can rate the film as well (5 popcorns all the way).

    Kronenberg is now working on two LGBT films and a romantic drama, each of which she will be producing and starring.

    April 4, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1644

  • MFA Acting for Film Grad Jongman Kim Appears in Judd Apatow’s “Love”

    After being picked up for a third season on Netflix, Judd Apatow’s romantic comedy series, “Love,” continues to grow in popularity. The series reflects the complicated dating life of millennials living in Los Angeles. In the second season of the show, the main character, Gus, played by creator Paul Rust, winds up working on set with an erratic movie director from Korea, whose name is Victor. The actor, Jongman Kim, happens to be an alumnus from the New York Film Academy’s MFA Acting for Film Degree Program.

    jongman kim

    (left to right) Paul Rust, Jongman Kim, and Randall Park

    Kim has been in a few big studio films in South Korea and even had his own theatre company. However, he says it was when he saw Robert De Niro and Al Pacino‘s performances in film that he aspired to learn “true acting” in America. “People laughed at me because I couldn’t speak any English, and I said that I’m going to America to be an actor,” he said. “I had been acting for 15 years before I moved to NYC, but I couldn’t stand not knowing what true acting was.”

    Kim couldn’t speak English when he first moved to the city, so he first attended ESL school to learn the language.

    jongman kim on love

    “I loved my experience at NYFA,” he said. “I had lots of beautiful teachers and actor friends in both NYC and LA. Meisner Technique changed my perspective of acting. Taking acting classes is really important to me. It’s like a gym for an actor to build his acting muscles.”

    Kim says he’s now being recognized for his work on the streets of LA. “It’s amazing that I started from not speaking any English and not knowing this country,” he said. “I broke my big Hollywood wall, so now I’m just going to keep moving forward.”

    Kim has acted in many short films and one independent feature film that will be released this year. One of his short films, “She Jang,” which he is a producer, co-writer and lead actor, was accepted into the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. Kim is currently repped by the Jenny Stricklin Talent Agency and the Clover Company in Korea. He’s hoping to act in both Korea and the US.

    March 31, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2197

  • NYFA Grad’s “The Kobal Report” Screens at LA Film Awards and NYC Indie Film Awards

    the kobal reportRecent New York Film Academy Filmmaking graduate Javier Alfonso Bartolozzi’s thesis film, “The Kobal Report,” has been selected to screen at the Los Angeles Film Awards, NYC Indie Film Awards, and it will also appear at the Cannes Short Film Corner in May 2017.

    His film is about a depressed journalist, Colin, who has no aspirations and winds up meeting a cruel “vigilante,” killing criminals in New York. Colin sees him as an opportunity to grow professionally and to fulfill his empty life, with inevitably disastrous results.

    “I wrote the script so that the audience can decide what is right or wrong,” he said. “It’s ‘take law into your own hands’ — a way to give justice.”

    Bartolozzi came to NYFA from Spain. He says he was looking for a school to not only network with like-minded individuals, but also work with students from all over the world.
    “I had the support of a lot of teachers, classmates and, of course, NYFA helped with all the equipment,” said Bartolozzi. “Also, I learned a lot from my instructors, especially from the screenwriting class.”

    Bartolozzi is currently writing a couple new short films, but is still in the early stages of the process.

    “My goal is to create stories to create emotions in people,” says Bartolozzi. “I also want to produce all the crazy ideas I have in my mind. I’m not interested in prizes or festivals, I just want to work as a filmmaker and make a living in the industry.”

    March 30, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1392