Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • NYFA Acting for Film Alumna’s “Frisky” Gets Distribution from Gravitas

    friskyShot on a mere five thousand dollars, 8-Week Acting for Film alumna Claudia Pickering’s film, “Frisky,” was recently digitally released by Gravitas — which happens to be the same distribution company who distributed her former NYFA instructor, Adam Nimoy’s Spock documentary — in the US and Canada.

    The Sydney-born filmmaker began her foray into filmmaking through acting, which led to creating comedy sketches, short films and webseries’, the first of which was a music video titled “Sebring,” which included Danny Trejo, who choreographed and performed a synchronized dance for the clip.

    “Acting and directing involves a lot of switching between head spaces, and a lot of trust in your cast and crew,” says Pickering. “Having a very intimate understanding of each scene really helped the process of going between ‘acting’ and ‘directing’ modes. As an actor, I could feel when we had hit the right emotional moments in each scene, but the issue was, I couldn’t see whether we’d nailed the shot. Fortunately, I had a wonderful relationship with our cinematographer, Christiana Charalambous, and trusted her that when she said she got the shot, we were clear to move on.”

    Pickering has now written and produced two feature length films, ‘Frisky’ and ‘Winning Formula‘, of which she directed the former, and both have received international festival success including Official Selection at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the 10th Broad Humor Film Festival in Los Angeles, Best Comedy Feature at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and the Director’s Choice for Best Feature Film at the Austin Revolution Film Festival. Pickering won the 2015 Tropfest Tropvine competition with a stop motion animation of a giraffe telling a dad joke, and regularly creates sketches with her comedy troupe, Frothpocalypse. She is currently developing several projects through her company, Cliff House Productions.

    Frisky

    “My experience at NYFA LA was nothing short of life-changing,” said Pickering. “With incredible teachers such as Adam Nimoy, the course not only taught great acting techniques and theory, but also gave me a solid practical and theoretical foundational understanding of filmmaking. Additionally, I met some wonderful lifelong friends, one of whom, Anna Bennett, I went on to form a comedy production company with.”

    Her most recent film, “Frisky,” involves two young women who move back to San Francisco, where they had met on exchange years earlier. However, their high career aspirations quickly become sidelined by their sexual interests. While wildly crass and charismatic in their public personas, they are in fact fundamentally at odds on many levels. Their opposing beliefs surrounding responsibility and romance, combined with their close quarters while crashing in an acquaintance’s living room, find them thrust onto a fast track to discovering what their friendship is really made of. Based on true events, “Frisky” is an honest, tongue-in-cheek look at what it is to be a woman in the limbo years between college and “the real world.”

    “The film is based on my real life experiences moving from Sydney to Los Angeles — the first and most emotionally potent time was for NYFA — then from LA to San Francisco,” says Pickering. “The emotions, the the friendships, the flings, the near-misses, and the life-long lasting love for people and places. I was living in San Francisco, waiting for another feature film, ‘Winning Formula,’ to go through post production in LA. I was working as an architect to earn some money, but was really becoming disillusioned by the whole profession as I’d sit at my desk and fantasize about stories I’d like to make into movies. One night, I was invited to attend the test screening of a film that a friend of a friend had made on virtually no budget with a six month turn-around. The film was such a joy to watch — so honest and funny — and had been shot on a DSLR camera just like one I already owned and I thought to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I checked my savings account balance that night, quit my job the next day and started writing ‘Frisky'”

    For more information about how to download or stream, “Frisky,” please visit the website at friskymovie.com.

    March 24, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 850

  • NYFA Musical Theatre Alumna Stars in “The Little Mermaid” Musical in São Paulo

    ana luisa pretoAfter graduating from the New York Film Academy, Musical Theatre alumna Anna Luisa Preto returned to her home country of Brazil where she was cast to play the Little Mermaid in “The Little Mermaid: The Musical.” The musical’s first season was at Teatro das Artes in São Paulo, and is now playing at “Teatro Jardim Sul,” also in São Paulo.

    “I have always loved musical theatre, and when I saw the opportunity of auditioning for NYFA’s Musical Theatre program, I was immediately interested,” said Preto. “After researching about the course, the place and the professionals involved I fell completely in love! NYFA has changed the way I approach and study a song or a scene. With what I learned there, I have much more material to work on the performances.”

    Preto says the Little Mermaid was a very special character in her life as a child, especially being a redhead. “It was one of those stories that you do not think will happen to you…until it happens,” she recalls. “I didn’t know about the auditions, in fact, I lived in another city during that period. A friend that I hadn’t spoken for a long time had moved to São Paulo and sent his material to this musical and in the middle of the material was a duet that we recorded when we studied together. The production saw the material and decided to look for me! I almost did not believe it when I saw the producer’s message calling me audition for the mermaid in São Paulo. In the end, I went to do the test and, on the same day, I received the answer that changed the course of my life at that moment.” She became the Little Mermaid.

    ana luisa preto

    Since graduating, Preto has also performed as the character of Cassie with the Company Project Broadway in Highlights of Chorus Line at the “Teatro Guaíra,” in Curitiba.

    “My goal is always to overcome myself,” she says. “Learn something new with each class, or work and be able to put it into practice. I have no idea what my next character will be, but I look forward to more of this amazing world of musicals!”

    March 23, 2017 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1349

  • NYFA Grad’s “The Dawn” to Screen at Kuwait Film Festival

    The DawnKuwaiti filmmaker and New York Film Academy alumnus Yousef Al-Qenaei’s short film, “The Dawn,” was very well received at the ADASA Festival and is due to screen at the Kuwait Film Festival soon, and possibly play in local Kuwaiti movie theaters thereafter.

    His film is about a young boy, Bader, who wants to go fishing with his father. The father, unfortunately, has to cancel the trip due to a work commitment, which leads Bader and his friends on an adventure to find out what it is that the father actually does.

    Al-Qenaei had a chance to talk with us about his film and his experience as a filmmaker in Kuwait.

    What brought you to NYFA, and what led you into filmmaking in the first place?

    I’ve always had a passion for film and theatre. My childhood was spent on stage, and therefore the performing arts were always something I was fond of. After a while, I began writing plays as opposed to acting in them. I found a joy in that. Film was a new medium for me. It involved less dialogue and more to show. It was a challenge I was keen on exploring. NYFA was on the top of my list, and it being in NYC, a hub for creatives, made it all the better.

    What is the current filmmaking scene like in Kuwait?

    Kuwait has always been one of the strongest in the region when it comes to the arts. True, there was a period were things became idle and a lack of interest in the industry was prevalent. But now, the means in which a person is able to broadcast their work are a lot more accessible. Therefore, talent is being recognized and the scene is more inspiring now than ever.

    Did you shoot this film during or after NYFA?

    After my time at NYFA. I actually met with members of the Ministry of Youth Affairs of Kuwait whilst in NYC, at a conference for Kuwaiti students abroad. They asked me to submit a storyline for a short film that I had written, in the hopes that the Ministry may fund it. And they did, which was lovely.

    Would you say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being able to create this film?

    Most definitely. I did an 8-week screenwriting course at NYFA. Before then, my comprehension of story structure and screenplays in general were terribly primitive. So much so that I had never been able to actually complete a screenplay before the course. The instructors and students also helped me with my biggest challenge whilst writing: making it more about showing the emotion than having the characters speak it.

    Kuwaiti filmmaker and New York Film Academy alumnus Yousef Al-Qenaei

    Kuwaiti filmmaker and New York Film Academy alumnus Yousef Al-Qenaei

    Have you screened this film elsewhere, or will you be in the future?

    This is the first official, public screening for the film. It is due to be screened at a few more soon, and then maybe into our local theaters here in Kuwait.

    What do you hope to achieve with this film?

    The most gratifying thing for me is when people watch films coming out of Kuwait and are proud that these are local productions. There’s definitely a stigma here, that all works of television or film are mainly social dramas that tend to highlight the negatives of society. We generally tend to sway away from the neutral let alone the uplifting. So I want this film to show that we have a diverse selection of work in the region, all representing different ideologies and mindsets. Representation is key.

    Are you currently working on another project that you’d like to tell us about?

    I am. It is in the very early stages at the moment, but it is definitely a project that will be a lot more challenging than a short film, but all the more gratifying and fulfilling. Watch this space. And thank you for your time!

    March 20, 2017 • Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1286

  • NYFA MFA Documentary Student’s “The Incursion” Featured on KTLA TV

    With over ten years of experience in both the communications and production industry in Jamaica, Sasha Gay Lewis set out to pursue documentary filmmaking by enrolling in the MFA Documentary program at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. Lewis has directed, produced, filmed, edited and written a number of documentaries and commercials in Jamaica, Belize, and California.

    sasha on ktla

    Her most recent documentary, which was highlighted on KTLA TV in Los Angeles, is called “The Incursion.” The documentary is an immersive experience that chronicles the events of that deadly day, the emotional drama and personal trauma the residents’ endured and its lingering effects on their lives today.

    On May 24, 2010, a joint police/military operation called “Operation Garden Parish” and famously known as “The Incursion” was launched in Tivoli Gardens — a Jamaican inner-city community described as the ‘mother’ of all ghettoes — to capture the notorious and untouchable drug lord, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. This search climaxed in a deadly clash between the security forces, residents and supporters of Coke, resulting in over 150 civilian deaths. For many of these residents, Coke was a protector and provider. He gave them jobs, created social programs for the children, and took care of the elderly.

    “I was in Jamaica working as a journalist and a producer and at the time the facts about the raid didn’t add up for me,” Lewis. “The journalist in me prompted me to investigate further and the more I researched, the more I wanted to know. It is said that as a documentarian you pursue the things that makes you upset and / or curious about and this was it for me.”
    the incursion

    Still from the documentary “The Incursion.” The Incursion examines the 2010 government raid on an inner-city community in Jamaica that resulted in the death of 150 people.

    Additionally, the victims were being told that their experience was false and that they deserved what they got. Nobody deserves to experience such acts of injustice and violence. The fact that it was carried out by those whose job it is to serve and protect is asinine and a dereliction of duty.

    In 2016, an inquest into the operations of the security forces revealed that the events of May 2010 left enduring physical, psychological and emotional scars on the residents of Tivoli Gardens and that although the operation of the security forces was justified, the manner of its execution by the security forces was “disproportionate, unjustified and unjustifiable.”

    sasha gay lewis

    Director and Producer of the documentary film “The Incursion,” Sasha-Gay Lewis on location in Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica with subjects of her film.

    “I would not have been able to create this documentary without coming to NYFA,” said Lewis. “I was always a storyteller, but through courses such as directing and writing the documentary, I was able to strengthen my storytelling, directing, and producing skills. This was a documentary seven years in the making and being able to workshop it for an entire year made all the difference.”

    “We are living in a story driven world where stories connect and in many cases provide release and healing,” she added. “I am happy that through all the support afforded to me by the Documentary Department of NYFA, I am able to make my contribution even as I pursue my passion and what I believe to be my purpose. I could spend the rest of my life doing this.”

    “The Incursion” is in the final stages of post and will be complete by the end of March 2017. The trailer will be out the first week in April 2017, and it will start its festival run shortly after.

    March 16, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1919

  • NYFA Alumni’s “I Am a Politician” to Air on HBO

    New York Film Academy alumni Susana Matos and Javier Colon have just finished their latest film “Yo soy un Politico” (I am a Politician). The film is about Carlos, an ex-convict looking for a job where he can make a lot of money without putting in a lot of work. After discussing it with his cellmate, they decide that the only job that fits that description is governor of Puerto Rico.

    The filmmaking duo presented their film at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus on Saturday, March 4. The film will also screen at the Chicago Latino Film Festival and the San Diego Latino Film Festival. It will begin airing on HBO starting this September 2017.

    We had the opportunity to talk to both Matos and Colon after the screening to get more insight into how the film came about.

    Tell us about what drove you to make “I Am a Politician.”

    Susana: Javier’s first movie was titled “I am a Director.” When he produced that movie, there was an ongoing conversation about how to make a trilogy of these I am… films. The character could be a different profession every time. It could be “I am a Regueton Artist,” “I am a Doctor” so when the election year rolled around we settled on “I am a Politician.” I wrote the first 25 pages as a draft to motivate Javier into doing the film and he liked them so we finished the script… and began working on preproduction.

    Was this a collaborative effort in terms of writing and directing? Were you both writer/directors on this film or did you have different roles?

    Javier: It was a collaborative effort. The Idea for this film was on the drawing board since I shot my first film I am a Director. I didn’t really want to do a sequel to that film but Susana began throwing ideas around for this story. One day she just sat down and wrote 20 something pages, I liked them so we finished the script together.
    Even though I have the directing credit on the film, Susana was a very big part of the directing process and decisions during the shoot. And beside being a writer, she was one of the producers of the film.
    carlos en campana
    How were you able to raise funds to produce this film?
    Susana: With Javier’s first feature film “I am a Director” he got distribution from Starz, Sundance, Canal +, and Croatia. Thanks to his reputation with the 1st film, we were able to raise funds through private investors.
    How did the meeting with HBO come about? Can you tell us a little bit about that process of selling your film
    Susana: With the first feature, Javier acquired a sales agent. He was very interested in our future projects.  In 2015 we went to Argentina for a Film Market, and we told him our idea; he loved it and signed a sales contract with us. He shopped the film around and sold it To HBO

    Talk about audience reactions to the film? Is the reaction what you expected or was it different? How? 

    Susana: We are so pleased with Saturday’s screening at the New York Film Academy. We had a full house! It was the first time we had so many people watching the film whose first language was not Spanish and we were happy to hear them laughing.

    Javier: We definitely did not expect that many people to come watch our film and laugh as much as they did.  It’s a comedy with subtitles, so we weren’t sure if English speakers would understand the humor, but based on the comments we received after the screening, seems like they really enjoyed it.

    What was the message you were trying to leave for the audience in this film?

    Javier: When we began writing this film, we knew we wanted it to have a positive message. Susana’s favorite directors are Matt Stone and Trey Parker. In the style of South Park, we wanted to create a satire with a message. The message in I am a Politician focuses on not waiting for politicians to fix our problems. We all should be part of going out there to make a change.

    carlos for independence

    What was the biggest hurdle in completing this project?

    Susana: The biggest hurdle is taking on a film with a very limited amount of money. So many people helped us because they believed in us but I would have loved to pay people well for the work they put in. Which is why we always like to take the time to thank our crew and cast for being a part of this project.

    What are you most proud of in this film?

    Javier: The HBO sale is the first thing that comes to mind, but, also, whenever we watch a screening of the film and I hear someone laugh. It amazes me that I wrote and created something that makes people laugh.

    Would you say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being able to create this film?
    Javier: I actually took a digital course in filmmaking in 2002 in New York. At that time my plan was to be an editor, NYFA help me realize that what I truly wanted was to be a director and tell stories. Im 100% sure that if it wasn’t for that small course, first I wouldn’t be in the situation that we are right now, and most importantly, I wouldn’t have met Susana
     
    Susana: The NYFA filmmaking course helped me develop my skills as a director and for me the greatest asset was the people I met on the program. My classmates are still part of my work. 
    What’s up next for you guys? 

    We’re working on getting the funding for our next project, “Who Cares?,” a road trip dramedy with the tone of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” Our goal is to begin pre-production at the end of this year.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Susana Matos and Javier Colon for taking the time to discuss their work. You can learn more about this dynamic duo on Facebook.

    March 14, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1533

  • NYFA Game Design Alumnus Creates His Own “Borders”

    One of the more controversial topics in recent months has been immigration and America’s stance on border control. Like other artists, New York Film Academy Game Design School alumnus Genaro Vallejo and his teammates, John DiGiacamo and Gonzalo Alvarez, created a unique gaming experience to express their point of view on the subject.

    The game was recently discussed in The Huffington Post, and the New York Film Academy spoke with alumnus Genaro Vallejo to find out more about creating “Borders.”

    Where are you from, and what brought you to NYFA?

    I was born in Acapulco, a beach town in the south of Mexico, I spent most of my life there until I moved to college to Mexico City. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue my lifetime dream of becoming a game designer. I looked up schools in New York, and I found NYFA was the best option for my needs at the time.

    Did you create “Borders” while at NYFA?

    “Borders” was created shortly after I graduated from the One Year Game Design Program. This project was created for a “Game Jam” event in which a game has to be developed during a weekend. Although the task seemed almost impossible at first, the skills learned at NYFA — alongside the help of my teammates John DiGiacomo and Gonzalo Alvarez — enabled us to create a polished experience in a span of three days.

    Was there a retro game that inspired “Borders”?

    Gonzalo, the main artist, took inspiration from the harsh experiences from Mexican immigrants trying to find a better life. The art-style and moral issues were inspired by games like “Papers, Please” and “Passage” (By Jason Rohrer).

    What do you hope people will get out of this game? Are you making a political statement?

    Personally, I think empathy is the key thing that I want people to take with them when they play “Borders.” If you try to understand and feel the struggle and problems of others, you will be more open and thoughtful of others’ actions and motivations.

    Can you tell us how your job at GameCo came about, and what your role is with the gaming company? 

    At first, I was hired at GameCo to write Game Design documents for upcoming games for their platform. Eventually, I began to get involved with QA, Hardware/Software installation and troubleshooting, and Translations. The skills learned at NYFA were without a doubt valuable assets that helped me to get a job at GameCo and expand my versatility in the company.

    I think one of the most important skills learned at NYFA was the whole process of creating the game. From prototyping, documenting your game idea, working in the game editor, to play-testing and fixing bugs. All of the steps you take are important, and you always have to keep focused on moving forward.

    Are you currently working on another game or project that you’d like to share?

    I’m currently working on Mama Hawk, a mobile game about a Mother Hawk trying to feed her babies. Hopefully you can give it a look!

    We certainly will! If you’re interested, please CLICK HERE to learn more about Mama Hawk!

    March 7, 2017 • Game Design, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1345

  • NYFA Photography Alumni Spotlight: Eunnym Cho

    Born in Seoul, South Korea with a background as a theater designer, photography has always been a passion for New York Film Academy Photography alumna, Eunnym Cho. Cho used her elaborate sets as backdrops for what were the beginnings of her exploration into photography as an art.

    looking into the lives

    “Looking into the Lives” by Eunnym Cho

    “I would always take shots of the theater sets and costumes I designed for my portfolio,” said Cho. “At one point I figured having a deeper knowledge of photography would be helpful to get the shots I wanted, so I decided to take the One Year Photography Conservatory at the New York Film Academy. I started the program just to learn more on the technical side, but the course was a lot more than just that. I discovered the huge field over the program and took it serious from there.”

    Since graduating from NYFA, Cho’s work has been recognized by several galleries, including:

    • The Art at the Center National Juried Exhibition 2017, Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, KS, 2017
    • 45th International Art Show, Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, TX, 2017
    • City Lights Spring 2017 Juried Exhibition, City Lights Art Gallery, NV, 2017
    • New York International Photography Contest, Gateway Art Center NYC, NY, 2017
    • 40th National Photography Exhibition, Larson Gallery, WA, 2017
    • Next Up, Next Gallery, CO, 2017
    • Conroe Art League 2017 Invitational Show, TX, 2017
    • LA Artcore Annual Photographic Competition, CA, 2017
    • 38th Annual Juried Art Exhibition, Monmouth Museum, NJ, 2017
    • Dreams, The Darkroom Gallery, Essex Jct. VT, 2016
    • Primary Colors, Final list, Honorable Mention, New York Center for Photographic Art, NY, 2106
    Untitled Gaze

    “Untitled Gaze 3” by Eunnym Cho

    “Untitled Gaze” is her first ongoing project and “Looking into the Lives” is the one that followed. “Looking into the Lives” is a series of street shots. The project involves two sub-projects: Part I was taken in the Dominican Republic and part II was taken in New Orleans, LA.

    “One of the most memorable parts of the NYFA Photography program was the school trip to Dominican Republic,” said Cho. “It was the most enjoyable way to learn about the topic and, as it turns out, was where one of my projects, ‘Looking into the Lives,’ began.”

    Untitled Gaze 2_Honorable Mention_NextUp_Denver

    “Untitled Gaze” by Eunnym Cho

    Her other ongoing project, “Untitled Gaze” is a series of images taken in various bars in Manhattan. “At first I was searching for unique, interesting elements of bars, but then I became more aware of the patrons, especially those who were alone,” added Cho. “So I set out to photograph, using the point of view of these individuals. Without looking at their phones, how did they fill the void? What would their eye focus on? In their inebriated state, what do they see? Focusing on singular item or area, I began to create abstractions of what they might see. Drawing inspiration from Uta Barth and Saul Leiter, I looked for things that might catch their eyes as they looked around from their barstool.”

    Cho hopes having her work at galleries across the country will provide exposure to her work, but she would love to have an exhibition in her current hometown of New York City.

    As Cho puts it, “There is no better place in the world in terms of the amount of galleries and museums that focus on photography.”

    March 6, 2017 • Photography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1269

  • NYFA Welcomes Renown Kazakh Cinematographer Azamat Dulatov

    Recently, Kazakh Cinematographer, Azamat Dulatov, and NYFA alumnus, Aisultan Seitov, gave a Q & A at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles following a screening of “The Jackal.” The award-winning short film is the first mutual project of Dulatov and Seitov.

    the jackal

    From early childhood, Dulatov was interested in photography and painting, and this passion for visual arts eventually led him into the field of cinematography. His first feature film “999” earned multiple awards among different festivals. Since then he has continued to work on successful Kazakh movies such as “Barrier” directed by Zhasulan Poshanova, “Marry in 30,” directed by NYFA alumnus, Askar Bisembin, and “Taraz” by Nurtas Adambaya, to name few.

    Despite his extremely busy professional schedule, Dulatov agreed to be director of photography on Seitov’s thesis film, “The Jackal,” immediately after reading the script. “The script is the most important element to me when making a decision,” said Dulatov.

    the jackal

    “If I like the story I would work on a small indie film and would even deny a big commercial project if the story isn’t that great. Also, I always discuss with the director and production designer as to how they see the film in terms of colors, temp, atmosphere. And what actors do they want to cast,” Dulatov continued. “Film is a team effort and it’s important to make sure we are all on a same track before we start shooting.”

    While in Los Angeles, Dulatov and Seitov worked together on a new music video for Ivan Dorn, and prepared for an upcoming feature film, which will be shot in Kazakhstan in spring 2017.

    kazak jackal

    When one student asked Seitov what is the best way to enter the professional world after graduation, he replied, “Use any opportunity to get on a professional set and meet people. There are a lot of projects shot in Hollywood every single day and they all need help. Go work as a PA, or just stay all day long and observe. Yes, you might end up working for free, but it is up to you to decide if this all is about money or experience.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Azamat Dulatov for coming in to speak to our students, and we wish all the best to Aisultan Seitov.

    February 27, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1202

  • Former NYFA Student Publishes “Sociedad En El Diván: Una Década en Los Medios”

    Three years after the publication of his theoretical framework “Crëative Synapse: Create.your.Universe” and parallel with his full celebration of a decade in media, former New York Film Academy Acting for Film student, Dr. Ariel Orama López (AG Orloz), published his new book “Sociedad En El Diván: Una Década en Los Medios.” His contributions as a media psychologist, artist and performance coach, and professional actor have been immortalized on Telemundo, WAPA, Freemantle Media, Piccolo Universe by Ricky, TISOC Barcelona, PsicoPediaHoy Colombia, JWT Agency and Fundación Mi Sangre of the Colombian artist Juanes.

    Sociedad En El Diván: Una Década en Los Medios

    AG was selected as a finalist of the Telemundo: Actors Workshop in Miami directed by well-known Mexican actress Adriana Barraza (nominated for an Oscar for her role in “Babel”) and performed as Performance and Creative Life Coach for the reality show “Idol Kids Puerto Rico.” He will soon be returning to the screen in the experimental and artistic film “Etreum,” co-directed by the well-known distinguished actress, Idalia Pérez Garay, and the respected director, Vicente Juarbe.

    AG is an active member of the Puerto Rican Actors and Actresses Organization (Colegio de Actores de Puerto Rico), has been participated as a juror of the PEN CLUB OF PUERTO RICO, was quoted by one of his texts at the distinguished Spanish University Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and has been highlighted as an author in the collective book “Communication and Education: Strategies of Media Literacy,” at Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona. He received multiple awards for his contributions in sciences, humanities and arts.

    AG Orloz will also be acting in an upcoming web series, a new short film, and as a co-producer of a new reality web series with the finalist of Telemundo GRAN HERMANO USA, Jommart Rivera.

    As a composer, AG was one of the three winners of Festival International de la Voz y la Canción in Miami, and was selected as a jury member in the next event on November 2017.

    February 24, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1517

  • NYFA Student, Actress & Producer Daniela Lavender Takes Part in Sundance “Women in Film” Panel

    Daniela LavenderBorn in Bahia, Brazil, Daniela Lavender has been training and pursuing the arts since the age of eight years old. She began by exploring ballet, jazz, contemporary dance, and eventually stepped into acting and the performing arts. Her theatre credits include British Shakespeare company production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” playing Hippolyta and Titania and a one woman show, “A Woman Alone” written by Dario Fo. From there she went on to appear in film and TV series, including the independent film “Emotional Backgammon,” where she was awarded Best Actress at the Denver Film Festival.

    Lavender is also taking on the role of producer, and currently attends the Producing School at New York Film Academy Los Angeles. As Vice President of Lavender Pictures Productions, which she co-owns with her husband Sir Ben Kingsley, her company has produced “A Birder’s Guide to Everything,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 and was awarded the Heineken first runner up audience award; “Learning to Drive” directed by Isabel Coxiet, which won the Audience Award at Provincetown Film festival; “An Ordinary Man” directed by Brad Silberling; and “Backstabbing for Beginners” directed by Per Fly, which will be released in 2017. Lavender Pictures is currently developing “Cousin Bazilio,” a 6 part mini-series; “TAJ,” an 8 part mini-series; and “Jutland,” a futuristic war drama.

    Recently, Lavender was invited to take part in a panel at the the Sundance Film Festival, which focused on Women in Film. We asked her about her involvement in the panel and her career.

    Can you tell us about your experience at this year’s Sundance?

    I much preferred my second visit to Sundance because I felt empowered. On my first visit I accompanied my husband on his press junket, so I only saw one aspect of Sundance; through an actor’s point of view and someone accompanying an actor.

    This time I went with a group of producers and filmmakers and Sundance was a different experience. I had been invited to participate in the ‘Women in Film’ panel and so I had a function that I was excited about.

    As I was there on my own, people didn’t know anything about me apart from the fact that I had a production company and was taking part in the panel. No one googled me — we didn’t google each other! So I felt that my first interactions with people were truly fresh; uncluttered by the projections that research and misinformation can so often bring.

    But what was most important for me, what made my stay so enjoyable and productive, was that I went empowered by knowledge. For the first time, instead of thinking of how I’m perceived or whether I’m being accepted or all these ego driven thoughts we invariably conjure up in situations like this, I was able to listen because I had knowledge; I knew why I was there and what I had to offer. That knowledge had been enhanced by my joining the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    sundance panel

    How did you become involved with the “Women in Film” panel?

    I met an entertainment lawyer who had been running panels at Sundance and Cannes for the past 15 years. He was a guest speaker at NYFA and my class was fortunate to attend his talk. This was part of the producer’s department programs. After class I contacted him with a question. We talked and, as by then I had been at NYFA for three months and had acquired knowledge, our talk was interesting. He felt that his women’s panel could benefit from what I had to say, so off I went.

    What do you believe was the most important topic of the panel?

    This year Sundance happened at the time of a controversial election and it became very clear to me that the most important topic of the event was knowledge. Emotions were running high and it became evident that if you don’t have knowledge to guide your emotions, passions, even love, will hinder your goals, your effectiveness.

    The more I listened to the women around me the more I was certain that what made them succeed wasn’t that they aggressively fought or protested for their place (even though some might believe so). All the successful women I came across were successful because they were outstanding at what they did. Yes, the fight for women’s rights is important as women have been discriminated against in the past, and still have room to progress until they are treated equally in every area of society, but nowadays we all have opportunities, and the most powerful way to succeed is to be great at what you do. To be the most efficient person in the room. Period. Because great skill is irresistible. Many producers and filmmakers I saw had projects they were passionate about. ‘My passion project’ as’ we say… But then distributers turn to them and say ‘well, but it’s not mine.’ One needs more than passion.

    Do you feel there has been any progress over the last few years in terms of equality for women in film?

    Yes there has been. I still wish to see more female directors. I’m looking for one right now for our TV miniseries, but there has been. The head of the panel mentioned that in his last film 90% of his crew were women. That wouldn’t have happened in the past. I see the world as a much more competitive arena today. The standards are higher, and I believe that isn’t so much about gender or race, I believe that it’s about who is the best at what they do. Who has work ethic versus who is lazy.

    When you ‘play out there with the big guns’ we see fewer nice people and more effective people. To me real kindness is to strive to be good at what you commit yourself to do, and I’m learning that. How good and ambitious you are at your job in the film business is crucial, because the film is like a chain and if one link is weak the film will suffer.
    So the weak link has no place. The one who wants to be nice and not do the work has to go. And the generous ones, the ones who give themselves to the job, the ones who care, they will have a great chance out there if that is their destiny. So for women (as for everyone else), these are great times.

    Aside from producing. You’re also an actress. As an actress in today’s world, what would be your ideal role?

    My ideal role would be a revolutionary social worker with a military background. This woman would restructure the foster care system and children wouldn’t be left in the care of the abusers. This woman would be a strong, lean machine, intelligent and have zero tolerance for child abuse. She would also operate undercover to rescue victims of child trafficking. She would be a kick ass. Like a Navy SEAL. She wouldn’t be upbeat or nice, on the contrary, she would be moody but deeply compassionate. She would also have a dynamic romantic life; she’d like boyfriends and girlfriends alike.

    Can you tell us a little bit more about the projects you’re currently working on?

    Our company has two TV miniseries and a war film in development. I’m in talks regarding a third TV mini series, but it’s in the very early stages. I’m also shooting two films as an actress, one in March called “Nomis” and another one in April called “Intrigo” directed by Daniel Alfredson (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Trilogy).

    February 21, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 994