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  • Felix Everding on Inspiration, German Soap Operas, and What to do in New York City

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    For international film buffs, Felix Everding is becoming a household name. The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Conservatory grad has run the gamut of television roles in his native Germany, from portraying  Mark Böcking in the wildly popular Sturm der Liebe to Dennis Grabowski in the poignant Rote Rosen, Everding is stealing hearts and lighting up screens both large and small across Europe.

    We had a chance to catch up with the busy NYFA grad to hear his advice on finding inspiration at home, preparing for television roles, and what to do when you find yourself in New York City.

    Felix Everding. Photo copyright: Renate Neder.

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

    FE:  My Name is Felix Everding, and I am an German actor. I grew up in Munich, Germany, and later went to study at the New York Film academy in New York. Today I work as an actor in Germany for television and film.

    I became aware of the New York Film Academy through a friend of mine who I visited in New York. I had always been interested in studying acting in New York, and had done some studying at the Terry Schreiber Studio in New York before. The Academy aspect of NYFA, meaning that the different departments work with each other — filmmakers, actors, producers, etc. — and the international aspect is what got me interested in the New York Film Academy.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you most as an actor?

    FE: I come from a theatre family. My grandfather was a theatre and opera director, and my father is a theatre director as well. I was exposed to theatre and opera at a very young age, and so the magic of the stage and acting captured me quite quickly.

    When I was 16, I knew I wanted to be actor. I think the art of acting is a wonderful tool to bring stories of all sorts closer to the audience, by making it a personal experience and therefore more relatable. We’re storytellers.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    FE: There are many moments I like to look back at from my time at NYFA.

    The acting department becomes great through it’s teachers, and I was lucky to have a couple of really great teachers — some who have actually studied under and worked for Sanford Meisner himself. That was definitely a highlight for me.

    And then, of course, spending lunch breaks and many late nights with my fellow students. There was a certain camaraderie that developed. Still today I call some of my fellow students friends.

    NYFA: As an international student, what surprised you most about living and studying in New York City? What advice would you offer your fellow NYFA students who are pursuing their dreams from around the globe?

    FE: New York in itself is a surprise.

    The city and its energy plays a main part in this whole experience. New York is mind-blowing, especially for a kid from Munich.

    If I had to give one recommendation for New York: WALK! New York is a fantastic walking city. And behind each turn can lay a different world!

    NYFA: You’ve been quite busy working in German television, from Rote Rosen to Sturm der Liebe to Tatort. How do you prepare for your roles?

    FE: That is different for every role. Mostly the first parts you get in television or film are rather small. (Although, of course, the saying is true: there are no small parts, there are only small actors!) So you don’t always get an awful lot to play.  

    Usually I read the script and try to find anything that relates to my character so I can build a certain foundation. Then, step by step, I imagine the world and circumstances my character lives in so I can work out my motivation. And then through learning the lines everything comes together.

    NYFA: In Rote Rosen [Red Roses] you had a long character arc. Can you tell us about that experience?

    FE: In Red Roses I played a character for five months, which gave the chance to really create a character and lead him through a journey — although this experience wasn’t without challenges.

    It’s a daily show, so they shoot one 50-minute episode per day, which means you have very little time on set to try things out. So you really have to have your character and lines set and must be ready to react and change things quite quickly on your feet.

    NYFA: What advice can you offer to NYFA students about transitioning from the classroom to working in television?

    FE:  It’s always different when you’re on a professional set for the first time.

    All you can do is trust the things you learned and be open to learn new things. Just observe how things work on a set and keep an open mind.

    You’ll be fine!

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    FE: I have a couple of TV projects coming up, and a TV movie with a great German director is gonna air pretty soon. I am very excited about that project because I play a dark character, which was a lot of fun.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Felix Everding for sharing a part of his story with the NYFA Blog. Learn more about our Acting for Film courses here.

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    March 15, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 717

  • Amina Zaher in Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and Jute Magazine

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    This Women’s History Month, we’re very excited to get to share stories from the incredible #WomenOfNYFA in our community, and right now the spotlight is on New York Film Academy (NYFA) grad Amina Zaher.

    Zaher has been working up a storm as a fashion photographer, with her work appearing in Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and Jute Magazine, among others, throughout the Middle East. She took the time to sit down with the New York Film Academy Blog and share her journey from corporate management to the glamorous world of high fashion and lifestyle photography.

    Check out what she has to say…

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    AZ: Well my journey started similarly to any student graduated from business/marketing, headed directly to corporate life. First I started working for Microsoft Egypt for five years as a project manager, then Danone Egypt for another three years as well.

    Within these eight years I used to love photography, but had no idea what I could do with that passion. I used to study photography and retouching through Youtube tutorials, sometime by online courses, and I never thought one day that I might become a full-time photographer — it was only a dream (that I was extremely passionate about)!

    Bit by bit, having many test shoots done with other talented friends in the field (as I was still not sure what kind of photography I want to settle into, but used to have conceptual/fashion sessions), I started getting proposals — not payed, for sure, but some local magazines were interested in collaborating together.

    That’s when I realized that the dream might come true, but I would have to really study. We had many good photographers in the market, and I’ve always thought education is the best way to be up to competition.

    I applied for NYFA in 2014 and it was the experience of a lifetime. It made me first realize that I’m crazy about fashion photography, and also that I’m interested in street and documentary photography. I learned that I can try to use those to compliment my photography mood and compositions, and how important is it to know more about the history of photography!

    Then I came back to Egypt, resigned from corporate life, and started my photography journey. I’d travel every once and a while to a different country with a different culture and try having test shoots there (India, Dubai, the U.S.), and I never stopped studying, as much as possible.

    NYFA: Why photography? What inspires you most?

    AZ: I’ve always felt that I need to make art in some way, and realized that I love to capture portraits of people wherever I’m at. Also I’ve been crazy about fashion since I was a kid, and I used to ask my mum to get me magazines all the time.

    Lately when I started reading about photography I was obsessed with the idea of using lights and shadows to create an interesting image. To me it was very similar to drawing.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    AZ: A lot!! Haha … I was super lucky with my TAs and classes. I was broken hearted the day I left NYFA — they were super helpful extremely kind, and I’ve always felt that they believed [in me]. They even gave me the opportunity to have a test shoot on my last day!

    I also remember once we had to shoot random people in the streets and ask them about their stories … it was so much fun.

    One of the great things that I’ve learned from NYFA is how to get inspired, how to read about great photographers work, and learn the story behind every piece, I used to get attached to these artists.

    NYFA: You’ve done a lot of high-profile fashion photography work, published in Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and Jute Magazine. Congratulations! What advice would you offer fellow NYFA students who dream of seeing their own work in such publications?

    AZ: Dream big, guys! Dreams do come true!

    But first work extremely hard, and never think “I’m already good enough,” because there’s never enough in this field. Do as many test shoots as you can, it’s what makes you learn best.

    I never stop stalking talent to collaborate with. Last month I caught a model in Philae Temple, dressed her up with my own outfit, and had a 10-min test shoot that got published in a local magazine.

    Nothing is impossible.   

    NYFA: What inspired your Major Tom editorial shoot?

    AZ: The idea of Major Tom was inspired by the great David Bowie. It was about a girl receiving a phone call about David Bowie’s death and having a very glamorous breakdown.

    NYFA: Do you have a signature style or favorite equipment you are always sure to use? What do you like to experiment with in your work?

    AZ: I Use Canon 5D Mark III with 85mm or 24-70. Shadows, composition and colors are always what I like to experiment with.

    NYFA: What has surprised you most in working as a commercial and fashion photographer?

    AZ: Actually, I never thought that I working as a commercial and fashion photographer would make me realize I can’t stop studying! It’s funny how fast this field can be with new techniques, equipment, moods that you have to keep up with — not only that, but you must be proactive and come up with your own new identity and creativity. It’s endless.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in terms of the work you are doing now?

    AZ: NYFA is the one thing that pushed me and made me realize that I have to let go of corporate life and move on with my passion. NYFA showed me new aspects. I learned that I don’t have to be a street or documentary photographer to get inspired by that work.

    For example, it made me realize how much I loved the “dirty framing” technique when we were studying street photography, and I used it a lot in fashion. Also pictorialism and juxtaposition were really inspiring to me.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    AZ: Just had three new shoots published in Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and Jute magazine.

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

    AZ: Only that I’m still dreaming really big! I hope someday I will be shooting for brands like Chanel, Prada, Gucci, and Vogue worldwide. It’s still a very long trip, and I will be working Hard for it until I earn it one day. Who knows?

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  • NYFA NEXT Young Filmmaker Program Participates in All Rise Film Competition

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    Three young filmmakers from the New York Film Academy BAFTA Community Outreach program were selected as finalists in the 2018 All Rise Say No to Cyber Abuse Filmmaking Competition in the ages 16-21 category. The theme this year was, “Is Cyber Abuse an International Crime,” and entrants incorporated this theme into their films, giving them a voice on the global epidemic that is cyber abuse.

    Chair of NYFA Community Outreach Mason Richards sounded the call for submissions to the NYFA Community Outreach alumni in Los Angeles who participated in the NEXT Young Filmmaker Program, an advanced outreach filmmaking program held in the summer at NYFA Los Angeles. The students responded by writing three different PSAs focused on the dangers of cyberbullying and its effects young people. “What was amazing about the short films is that the students wrote, directed, and filmed stories based on their real experiences growing up in south LA. They were able to utilize the filmmaking techniques they learned in the outreach film program to tell powerful and unique stories.”

    The students shot their 3-minute PSA at the Universal Backlot and the NYFA soundstage, and at Washington Prep High School in their neighborhood. NYFA provided the equipment and mentors to assist the students with their films. Post-production was also completed at NYFA where students practiced what they learned while editing on AVID.

    Sharyn Ross, Head of Outreach Program for BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), a long time partner with NYFA’s outreach program, added, “The students get so much out of the filmmaking program at NYFA, and they’ve always talked about coming together to create more work, so the All Rise competition was the perfect opportunity for them to collaborate on a project with a purpose and a message. The international exposure of their films was also very exciting for them.”

    The All Rise annual film competition is designed to give young people a voice about Cyber Abuse and how it affects their everyday lives. The 2018 All Rise young filmmaker finalists Rosalinda Larios (The Victim), Kevin Miles (All Rise) and Jeannie Gardner (Hidden Secret) were among hundreds who submitted to the competition and comprised three of the six finalists in their category. Other students that collaborated on the films are: Tashad Rutherford, Michael Madrid, Chablee “Bubbles” Adams, Daizia Gray, and A’leah Love. The final six films selected were screened and critiqued live online by a panel of distinguished judges including:

    • Paul Giannasi – Leads the UK Cross Government Hate Crime Program and manages the Police’s National Policy on Hate Crime.
    • Ronan Keating – Singer/songwriter.
    • Katie Corcoran – Secondary school history teacher and swimming teacher.
    • Simon Stanley Champ – Senior visual effects supervisor, Cineaste Studios.
    • Otto Bathurst – UK award-winning director, Robin Hood opening this year.

    Young filmmaker Rosalinda Larios added, “It is absolutely great to know that we made it to the final round. This truly acknowledges that our films have that special potential in it, that differed from among hundreds of other films. Hearing these major directors talk about my film, made me feel great. I received many compliments that elevated my self-esteem, but I also received other concerns that actually just motivated me to fix my errors, in order to become a great and better filmmaker.”

    Rosalinda adds, “Being part of the BAFTA/NYFA Outreach program has made a dramatic impact in my life. What I truly like the most about this program is the support system that we receive from all our teachers and mentors. This BAFTA/NYFA family we have created is a wonderful connection that has been part of my life.”

    The BAFTA/NYFA Community Outreach program is currently in its fourth year of partnership, where select students participate in a nine-week film camp on Saturdays, where they produce, write, direct, act and edit shorts films to be screened at NYFA Los Angeles. Classes are taught by NYFA faculty, mentors, and student volunteers. The current NYFA/BAFTA Community Outreach program is running for the Spring 2018 semester, and the final screening for the new cohort of films will screen on in April 2018 at the NYFA theater.

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    March 8, 2018 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1028

  • The NOVA Fest: 7 nominations for Plus One & Alma Mater by New York Film Academy Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre’s original movie musicals Alma Mater and Plus One are Official Selections of the Fourth Annual Northern Virginia International Film & Music Festival, and both films have received a number of award nominations.

    Plus One has been nominated for Best Musical, Best Director (Short Film), Best Screenplay (Short Film), Best LGBT Film, and Best Visual Effects, while Alma Mater is nominated for Best Musical and Best Acting Ensemble.

    In addition to its honors at the Nova Fest, NYFA’s movie musical Plus One will also screen at the Manhattan Film Festival April 21, at 1-3 p.m.  Click here for program and ticket info. The Manhattan Film Festival will also screen NYFA movie musical Walk the Walk April 26, at 4-5 p.m. For those details and ticket info, click here.

    ALMA MATER – trailer from SEAN ROBINSON on Vimeo.

    That is not the only honor the Conservatory has received from the prominent festival. Two other NYFA musicals will be included in the Artist Circle: Food Like Love and Bang Boom Pow.

    As the festival explains, The Nova Fest “offers a fertile environment for distributors, sales agents, buyers, filmmakers, and writers to converge, negotiate and close film, series, and script deals on all media platforms.“ Films are screened from around the world, from countries including Canada, Australia, England, India, Pakistan, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, France, Kosovo, Albania, Spain, and the U.S.

    PLUS ONE – trailer from SEAN ROBINSON on Vimeo.

    The NYFA Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre has been creating original movie musicals since 2012, offering its second-year students the remarkable opportunity to perform in new stories, written for them, alongside industry professionals — including Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart and Tony Award-nominee Charlotte D’amboise. Yet even with these high-profile ties to Broadway, each film is focused on the student performers.

    “We’re so excited by this program because of the quality of what the students experience in the classroom, and the quality of what they put on film,” NYFA Senior Executive Vice President David Klein told Variety. “There is so much opportunity for them.”

    For tickets and more information on the NYFA movie musicals screening at The NOVA Fest, check out the festival website. D.C. friends — you can catch a screening of Plus One (Weds. April 4) and Alma Mater (Sat. April 7) at Angelika Film Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

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  • Fair Use, Syria, Music Therapy, and James Blunt: Updates from the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    Copyright is an issue that producers come up against again and again. Students often ask me about using clips from well-known films and TV programs, or portions — sometimes very long portions — of popular songs. My response is always the same: Everything is owned by somebody. In fact, usually a number of somebodies…

    In news, we will often acknowledge the source of a few seconds of borrowed video with a “courtesy,” listing the source of the material. Here in the United States, there is a principle called “fair use.” If you do not diminish the ability of the owner of the material to sell it, or use the material as the basis of commentary or for an educational purpose, and you don’t use a lot of it, you are probably OK. Or you’re not. This why TV stations and networks have lawyers. (This legal interpretation applies only in the United States: Every country has its own copyright rules and regulations.)

    A recent court decision involving Fox News further clarifies this issue. A company went into business selling digital “clips” of Fox News programming to subscribers. They termed it “fair use,” claiming they were only redistributing material that has already been distributed freely by the copyright holder. The court said NO, the material belonged to Fox, and distributing it to subscribers without permission from Fox was like selling somebody else’s chicken. (OK … I added the chicken part, but the principle is the same — if you don’t own it, you can’t sell it.)
    There is no “fair use” outside of news. To give you an example, a number of years ago I used a clip from a classic 1930s Hollywood film called The Maltese Falcon. It was part of the tease for the first episode of a PBS documentary mini-series called The Stuff of Dreams. (Extra points if you can name the classic English-language author who originally used that phrase. Answer below…)

    To use the clip, I had to negotiate payments for two actors (both dead), the director (dead), the writer (dead), the composer (dead) and the studio which currently owns the film (not the studio who originally made it). I did all of that before the program was broadcast, because afterwards these folks (or their legal heirs) can ask whatever they want, and you have to pay because you cannot “un-broadcast” the program.
    And the author? William Shakespeare who, as he has been dead for centuries, does not have a lawyer. Plus the filmmakers used it before I did. Of course, they’re all dead.
    I heard from NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Ahlam Tabra via Facebook last week. The TV channel she works with broadcasts from Dubai, and is one of the most reliable sources of information about what is going on inside Syria.
    “Since I have come back from NYFA, I have done a lot at work. Doing a daily talk show is amazing, but it is exhausting. As you said, there is never enough time, budget, or people. We run all day long to do a watchable 52 minutes.”

    Keep up your important work, “Loumi.”
    Also via Facebook, I got to see former NYFA student Georgia Hammond’s latest project, a wonderful short video about how music therapy is part of the treatment program at Sydney Children’s Hospital.

    It’s Music Therapy Week and we can definitely say Sydney Children’s Hospital is a much happier (and louder) place thanks to the amazing work of the Music Therapy Team. In this video Music Therapist Matt shares how music can bring comfort and joy to patients and their families when they need it most.

    And, thanks to Facebook (I see a trend here…), I found out that Brazilian NYFA grad Livia Fernanda recently interviewed British music star James Blunt. She got to use both the interviewing skills she developed at NYFA, and the English she had a chance to practice while she was in New York:

    Momento em que gastei meu inglês. Entrevista com o dono de “You’re beautiful”, James Blunt 🎬🖤 #jamesblunt #theafterlovetour

     

    I also learned that emojis mean the same things in both Portuguese and English. At last, a true international language…

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  • Celebrate Women’s History Month at the New York Film Academy

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    This Women’s History Month, which also includes International Women’s Day on March 8, the New York Film Academy joins the conversation on gender inclusivity with an updated Gender Inequality in Film Infographic as well as a full slate of events across its campus locations.

    From International Women’s Day industry panel events to film screenings and raffles, check out NYFA’s calendar of Women’s History Month activities, below, and join us on campus in Los Angeles, New York City, South Beach, and NYFA Australia, Gold Coast. And on social media, we’ll be shouting out to many of the Women of NYFA — alums who are doing incredible work in the community, in the entertainment industry, and beyond.

    New York Film Academy Women’s History Month events will include:

    Los Angeles

    MARCH 7 – Stand Up for Women Comedy Night

    Host:

    • Lisa deLarios – Lisa has toured the country featuring for Zach Galifianakis, Paul F. Tompkins, Anthony Jeselnik, and Maria Bamford among others. She was showcased on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham and has been a frequent guest on Doug Loves Movies.  

    Featured Comedians:

    • Laura House – Laura is a headlining comedian who has performed on HBO, Comedy Central, NBC, and starred in MTV’s Austin Stories. She written on the Emmy-winning shows Mom and Samantha Who, BAFTA-winning Secret Lives of Boys, as well as Nicole Byer’s Loosely, Exactly, Nicole, The George Lopez Show, Mad Love, Blue Collar TV & more.
    • Jackie Kashian – Jackie is a comic whose new album, I Am Not The Hero Of This Story, was the #1 comedy album on iTunes and Amazon. She is in the 12th year of her podcast The Dark Forest and has a new podcast on the Nerdist Network called The Jackie and Laurie Show.
    • Jena Friedman – Jena is a comedian, writer, filmmaker and political satirist who recently appeared on Conan. Her Adult Swim special Soft Focus with Jena Friedman aired in February. She has been a field producer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has written for Late Show with David Letterman. ​
    • Annie Lederman – Annie was the co-host of We Have Issues on E! and has been a cast member on Chelsea Lately, Girl Code, @midnight, and Impractical Jokers.
    • Kate Willett Kate tours nationally and internationally, has been featured on Viceland’s Flophouse and Comedy Central’s This is Not Happening, and recently taped a Netflix special.
    • Vanessa Gonzalez – Vanessa was recently voted “Best Stand-up Comic” in the Austin Chronicle readers’ poll, and created and stars in the Mas Mejor web series Ms. Vanessa.
    • Jessica Sele– Jessica is a stand-up comedian who tours across the country, and has performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and SF Sketchfest. She was written about in HuffPost.
    • Ellington Wells – Ellington is a filmmaker and comedian who hosts the monthly stand-up show Blackberry Jam, and has worked on television shows such as Insecure, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Baskets.

    March 8 – International Women’s Day: A Perspective on Women in Entertainment: Industry Panel Discussion

    Moderators:

    • Mike Civille
    • Lydia Cedrone

    Panelists

    • Dea Lawrence – CMO of Variety
    • Kelly Gilmore – Sr. VP Marketing at Warner Bros.
    • Barbara Bain – 3 time Emmy Winning Actress
    • Jeanette Collins – Producer/Writer: Big Love, Drop Dead Diva, Suddenly Susan
    • Winship Cook – Producer: K-19: The Widowmaker, Sound the Crossing,Family Plan
    • Valorie Massalas – Casting Director/Producer: Back to the Future 2 & 3, Indiana Jones, Total Recall
    • Ronnie Yeskel – Casting Director: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Curb Your Enthusiasm  
    • Elvi Cano – Executive Director EGEDA U.S.
    • Lisa Guerriero – Camera operator: Suicide Squad, Mad Men, Mission Impossible, Fight Club

    New York City

    FEB. 28,  6:30 PM EST – Heroin(e) SCREENING & Guest Speaker Event

    • Exclusive screening of Oscar-nominated Netflix short documentary Heroin(e) with the film’s editor and special guest lecturer Kristen Nutile.

    MARCH 5-6 – Women’s International Film Festival Raffle

    TBD – NYFA Women in Film Screening Series

    • Further details coming soon.

    MARCH 21 – Women in VR: Chat with Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council & NYFA Instructor Caitlin Burns 

    • Further details coming soon.

    Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council & NYFA Instructor Caitlin Burns

    South Beach

    March 21 – NYFA Women in Film Screening and Q&A

    • A screening of the 2016 drama Hidden Figures
    • A Q&A led by South Beach Filmmaking chair Maylen Dominguez

    March 21 – NYFA Women in Film Industry Panel

    • An all-woman panel featuring Rhonda Mitrani, Susie Taylor, Maha McCain, Elli Ventouras, and Giorgia Lo Savio

    NYFA Australia, Gold Coast

    March 8 – International Women’s Day Film Series

    • A screening series of films focused on female protagonists, including The Color Purple, Joy, Thelma & Louise, and Whip It.

    For updates on Women’s History Month events at the New York Film Academy, and to join us for International Women’s Day, be sure to follow us on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram

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  • New York Film Academy Grad Ayane Stars in Walking With My Grandma

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    Photo courtesy of Ayane

    If you haven’t heard Ayane’s name yet, you soon will: the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film graduate will soon be a household name in the third largest movie market in the world: Japan.

    This year, Ayane stars as Natsumi in Walking with My Grandma, a film poised for international success as it releases in over 10 countries. The touching film follows Natsumi as she prepares for her upcoming wedding by helping to rehabilitate her injured grandma, Kiyo (Mitsuko Kusabue), in the hope that they can walk down the aisle together during the ceremony.

    After its international release in April 2018, Walking with My Grandma will also be available for travelers to view in-flight on their way to many international destinations.
    Helming the project is renowned Japanese director Tetsuo Shinohara, whose 39 directing credits include Heaven’s Bookstore and Inochi. Shinohara is nominated this year for Japan’s Director of the Year award.
    Walking with My Grandma is the latest credit in an already impressive resume for the NYFA alum, who has appeared in eight films as well as eight plays and TV shows. Ayane graduated from NYFA New York City’s Acting for Film Conservatory in 2013. In addition to her starring turn in Walking with my Grandma, Ayane will star alongside Reiko Takashima in upcoming Japanese feature film Omiokuri, which opens in March 2018. 

    👥 敵は常に己の中にあり。 #対話

    A post shared by 文音 Ayane official Instagram (@ayanestagram_official) on

    With box office earnings topped only by China and the U.S., Japan’s film industry generated an astounding box office take of $2 billion in 2017, and it’s exciting to see Ayane poised as a major player for 2018. Congratulations, Ayane!

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  • Rocking Den of Thieves with Acting Conservatory Alum Ron J. Rock

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    If you have the winter doldrums this March, we’ve found the solution: watch action-packed Den of Thieves, the latest adventure from director Christian Gudegast, with a star-studded cast including heavy hitters like Gerard Butler, 50 Cent — and NYFA Acting for Film Conservatory grad Ron J. Rock.

    Rock has been busy since graduating NYFA in 2010. He is the founder of his own production company, Rocktober Productions, and along with making his feature film debut in a major action flick with A-list stars, Rock is also executive-producing upcoming Broadway musical Lucifer.

    We had a chance to hear some of the story behind Rock’s meteoric rise. Check out his interview with the NYFA Blog, below:

    Ron J. Rock via IMDB

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy? Why did you choose the Acting for Film Conservatory program?

    RJR: I’ve been a theatre actor since the third grade in New Jersey, and after high school I wanted to study acting in New York. It’s an amazing city and the people I’ve met in my NYFA program have helped me sharpen my acting skills and create my own content.

    I chose the program because it wasn’t just on-camera training: It was all the skills I need to know as an actor, taught in one program.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you most?

    RJR: I love acting because you can start to understand circumstances and perspectives through different characters. It’s important to live life and be able to relate to others. Relationships become more real.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    RJR: My favorite moments were definitely getting together with fellow students to film any idea we had. It’s a collective program of artists who are working toward the same goal, so it was a lot easier to find people to work with.

    NYFA: Can you tell us how your role in Den of Thieves came about?

    RJR: I was filming a short film in Atlanta, and I came across a producer who knew who I was, and he asked me to stay and read for the character “Junior.” I was hired on the spot.

    NYFA: Shooting Den of Thieves with 50 Cent and Gerard Butler must have had some interesting moments. What surprised you most about the shoot? Any stories you’d like to share?

    RJR: What was surprising was how organized the entire production was. The energy on set was fun and kept everyone going. It was an entire community of hundreds of people making this movie amazing.  

    NYFA: For our students, what is your advice for transitioning from film school to working on a professional film set?

    RJR: Every little detail you learn in class matters when you’re on set and in front of the camera. Taking classes is very important. There is a reason why these [successful] actors are who they are. They train on their craft endlessly.

    NYFA: You’re producing a new musical, Lucifer. What drew you to this project? What is it like working behind the scenes as a theatre producer?

    RJR: I came across this project after I produced a short film of my own. It was intriguing because it is the story of the Bible through the devil’s eyes. It simplifies what the Bible is about for anyone to watch.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in terms of the work you are doing now?

    RJR: YES! The 2-year program helped me stay focused on my career, and it has paid off.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    RJR: I’d like to create a TV series about issues millennials face — love, careers, and unspoken battles we all face in this generation.

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

    RJR: I would also like to say thank you for having me at NYFA and sticking by my side during the successes.

    Thank you Ron J. Rock for sharing your story with the NYFA Blog!

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    February 27, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 918

  • 50 Shades of Silence Producer and New York Film Academy Grad Amy Wright Enacting Change One Doc at a Time

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    New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking grad Amy Wright hasn’t slowed down since winning Best Short at the March on Washington Film Festival at the White House. While busy at work creating a documentary with Emmy-winning media personality-turned-activist Darieth Chisolm, the young documentarian and producer took the time to catch up with the NYFA Blog to share her insights into the important issues behind her documentaires, what’s coming next, and how to revolutionize the mainstream narratives around people of color.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey, what drew you to documentary filmmaking, and why you chose New York Film Academy?

    AW: I had a pretty roundabout journey that led me to documentary filmmaking. First and foremost, I’ve always loved documentaries. As a kid, I would watch nature documentaries with my grandfather, so there was always that positive feeling associated with docs.

    I studied theatre in high school and undergrad, so the arts was always a part of my life. However, after graduation I moved to New York, went to grad school at LIU for education and became a high school special education teacher. I enjoyed being in the classroom and working with kids, but there were a lot of issues I saw within the system — issues that affected the kids I worked with the most (underprivileged, of color, immigrant, disabled).

    It started getting to me and I knew that I was going to leave the profession. I just didn’t know what I was going to do next. Then one day, I was in Union Square when I saw a bus stop ad that said “Learn Documentary Filmmaking,” and something just clicked for me.

    At the time, Netflix had started expanding their catalogue of docs, and I was watching docs multiple times weekly. I think at that point I had just watched The Black Power Mixtape and was completely inspired. I saw it as a path back to the arts, but also as a way to change the things I couldn’t accept in the world.

    I went to the next available open house, learned about the doc program, was completely sold on the idea of learning by doing, and a month later I was resigning from the DOE! I finished out that school year with my kids, came to NYFA the following September and never looked back.

    Amy Wright and Andra Swift at March on Washington Film Festival

    NYFA: What inspires you most as a filmmaker?

    AW: I think what inspires me the most is seeing grassroots movements enact change. Or even a single individual. There’s something so motivating about seeing one person, or one group who believes in something so fiercely, use the medium of film to change the world for good.

    I think about films like Blackfish and I wonder if the filmmakers knew when they were first conceiving the film, what an impact it would have on whales in captivity. The idea that I could share something through film that is so important to me, particularly Black American stories, and it changes a system or even just people’s way of thinking about an issue — that’s what keeps me energized and inspired as a filmmaker.

    NYFA: You’ve mentioned that your thesis film, Legacy, was inspired by your grandfather. Can you tell us how Legacy came to life and a bit about your experience of production?

    AW: During the gauntlet that is the second semester of the NYFA docs program (lol), I had settled on doing a doc on the education system, because I was already so invested in the lives of disabled students of color. But as we learn in production, there are lots of roadblocks and challenges to getting the type of access that we need, especially within the time constraints of the semester. I was struggling to come up with a plan B.

    It just so happened that I was on my way to JFK airport when I passed by these stables that I had passed a million times before, and I saw a sign that read “The Federation of Black Cowboys.” And I knew that was my story.

    Something about working in docs makes you look at the world a little more carefully. It felt like I was meant to see, really see that sign. Add to that, as a child my grandfather would take us all to the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (a Black rodeo), and the Black Cowboy Parade in Oakland every year, so it seemed like a no-brainer for me to pursue it.

    50 Shades of Silence via IMDB

    NYFA: The Black Federation of Cowboys talks about its mission to promote and share knowledge of the “Black West.” After your experience of making Legacy, what is the Black West for you? AW: For me, the Black West is wherever the people are. Post slavery, I know for many freed men and women, the West represented a place with no chains or borders, and an escape from the oppressive South. Of course, we know that during that time there wasn’t really a place where a Black person could live without the looming fog of white supremacy and terror. However, the West was romanticized as a place where a man could be free, and forge his own way ahead, and Black people grabbed at that opportunity and never looked back. Which is how legends like Bass Reeves, “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, even outlaws like Nat “Deadwood Dick” Love, could go out and forge their own way ahead, despite being born into slavery. Today, the descendants of that cowboying tradition carry the Black West wherever they are, be it Oakland, Compton, Tulsa, Charlotte, Philly, or even Brooklyn.

    NYFA: Legacy screened at DOC NYC and also won Best Short at the March on Washington Film Festival at the White House, which is amazing! How did this come about, and how did that moment feel?

    AW: I can’t talk about this without first mentioning our [NYFA New York City campus] documentary chair, Andrea Swift. This woman has this amazing knack for putting her students in the right place at the right time, introducing us to the right people, and overall just setting us up for success.

    My class (of 2015) was the first to screen in the DOC NYC U program, which was just an incredible opportunity. And if I do say so myself, being up there with NYU and Columbia … NYFA Docs were pretty strong! So that experience alone, screening at a major doc festival so shortly after graduation, was surreal. I even posted about it on Instagram, and Ava DuVernay liked my post and commented … my head just about exploded!

    During DOC NYC, Andrea introduced me to one of the programmers, Opal Bennett, who also happens to program for March on Washington. She suggested I submit. I was thrilled just to be accepted to March on Washington — I had no clue it was a competition. So you can only imagine my shock when a few weeks after learning I was accepted, I found out that I had won for Best Short.

    Then, to add to the excitement, we learned that we would be screening at The Obama White House! The actual screening was very bittersweet for me, though: The day I learned that we’d be screening at The White House, I called my grandfather to invite him. We lost him very unexpectedly later that day. So for him to have been a huge inspiration for the film, but not be able to attend that special screening … it was a pretty emotional day for me.

    “Legacy” Trailer from Amy Wright on Vimeo.

    NYFA: So many times we see Black culture and Black women especially portrayed on film — and behind the scenes — in subservient or tertiary roles. As a minority woman director, what are the stories you see that still need to be told?

    AW: I think right now there’s an active push to present images that counter the mainstream narratives about people of color and women of color. I mean, right now we have Black Panther, this huge blockbuster about a non-colonized Black, African people. That in and of itself is revolutionary. And it was shot by a woman! A whole action film, shot by a woman.

    Visibility is key. Personally, what I would like to see are more stories about people of color that have nothing to do with the fact that they are people of color, because in many ways, unapologetic Blackness is inherently political. So it’s cool when we see things that show, “Hey we live normal lives and experience human emotions just like everyone else.”

    In Detroit, right now, there are people who have repurposed the empty lots for beekeeping. They happen to be Black. That’s so dope to me, that as a people we do these incredible, regular things just like anyone else. That’s what I’d like to see more of.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    AW: Right now, I’m writing and producing an exciting project with former NBC journalist Darieth Chisolm called 50 Shades of Silence, in which we chronicle her terrible experience with revenge porn and her mission to have legislation passed to protect victims and punish perpetrators. We were recently featured on Dr. Oz and The Today Show with Megyn Kelly — you should check us out!

    Also, I have been developing another (currently untitled) documentary feature about the Shreveport six that’s really near and dear to my heart. In 2010, six Black kids drowned in the Red River in Shreveport while trying to save a friend. That friend survived. It’s a tragedy that shook an entire community, and there are rippling effects of that tragedy in Shreveport to this day. But more to come on that … I don’t want to give too much away.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Amy Wright for sharing her story with our community. Learn more about 50 Shades of Silence here.

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  • Blockchain, Gothamist, Citizen Journalism, & TV Asia: Updates from the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    So, what do you know about blockchain technology? It is the technology behind Bitcoin, a so-called cryptocurrency. Put simply (probably too simply), instead of there being one, central “computer” where all the records of an enterprise are kept, there are an unlimited number of “users” who are keeping the records on their own computers, which (in theory) keeps any individual user from cheating. Blockchain technology is becoming a disruptive force in many industries, and it looks like the news industry might be next.

    The always interesting Journalism.co.uk posted a story about Civil, a “decentralized journalism marketplace,” that is using a USD $1,000,000 grant to set up crowd-sourced online news operations in a variety of places, including Chicago here in the United States.

    Personally, I am wary of so-called “citizen journalism.” Being a journalist requires a series of essential skills. Just buying a video camera (or a mobile phone) doesn’t automatically imbue someone with those skills.

    The problem is that large news companies seem to be getting only larger, and dropping coverage of a vast number of areas both geographically as well as subject-wise. So-called hyperlocal news organizations were supposed to fill that gap. But here in New York, Gothamist and DNAinfo both closed, as have many Patch outlets nationwide.

    In a piece of good news, public media outlet WNYC has put together funding to revive Gothamist. That may be the only way local news can survive, within a “public service” economic model.

    As for Facebook, the technology giant which at one point was expected to dominate global news distribution, TechCrunch reports that more efforts are underway to separate legitimate news reports from viral rumors, slanders and propaganda. This points to the key problem with uneditied/unmediated “citizen journalism”: It can easily be highjacked by people with agendas, which often don’t encompass truth…

    In alumni news, recent NYFA Broadcast Journalism alum Anita Efraim is now a radio reporter back home in Brazil. She’s working for media giant Globo. She writes, via Facebook:

    My first article for Radio Globo was about one of may favorite themes, the race. During the shooting, one of the interviewees told me something that made me think a lot: everyone who runs, runs for something. And maybe it’s true. Hope you like it! 

    Broadcast Journalism grad Radha Dhar sent me a long email about how one of the student projects she did at NYFA ended up getting her (and a classmate!) professional jobs:

    ’ve been working full time as a social producer and news researcher at TV ASIA since December. I was covering the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali, in Times Square for the NYFA News Package project, where I managed to nab an interview with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). This guy from TV ASIA noticed me and interviewed me on the spot, asking for news pitches, saying “We could use young people like you to target millennials!” I told him about my team (Brigette Mancheno & Elina Mukherjee — who later also ended up getting a job from that story) because he seemed pretty excited hearing that we are from NYFA and wanted to know what the students there are up to! (Below is a pic of me out shooting that day!) 

    And now she interviews Bollywood stars on the red carpet. Wow!
     
      
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