Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • 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: 1659

  • 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: 1650

  • 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: 1884

  • 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.

    “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: 2478

  • 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: 1565

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Grad Works on “Thor” and “Aquaman”

    Former New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast student, Damian Lang, has shot three award-winning short films thus far, and has worked as a Location Assistant on major Hollywood films like “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Aquaman,” both of which were filmed in the Gold Coast. Between his on-set experience and filmmaking background, Lang says he is currently working on an idea for his first feature film.

    damian lang

    Below is Lang’s description of his three award-winning shorts:

    “Unauthorised Tears”

    “This film is about trying to re-connect with people, woman particularly. I returned from Afghanistan with the Australian Infantry a few years back and developed some mental issues, which unfortunately ended in me losing my wife and job. This sent me on a bit of a downward spiral, but I always forced myself to get out and push through. The events in the film actually happened multiple times — just not usually with a fairy-tail ending.”

    Screenings:

    Caymen, Int Film Festival
    Stage One, Int Film Festival (Won ACS Best Cinematography)
    Long Beach Indie, Int Film Festival
    Screen IT, Gold Coast Film Festival
    Austin Revolution, Film Festival

    “Diamond In The Rough”

    “This film is about understanding your own beauty and worth. I went through a faze where I was trying to build myself into another person to attract certain types of women into my life. I found out it’s not very sustainable or fair on the other person.”

    Screenings:

    Colorado, Int Film Festival (Won Best Student Short)
    Fort Worth, Indie Film Festival
    International Video and Music Awards
    Roma, Cinemadoc Film Festival

    “The First Step”

    This film is about re-connecting even if it isn’t the easiest route, and also about betrayal at the most unexpected times. The idea stems from when I was in Afghanistan and there were multiple ego driven orders that put us in unnecessary danger. Duty first is what we always did, but now we have to live with the outcomes and the question ‘why’.”

    Screenings: (This film is still on the festival scene until December 2017)

    Around Films, Int Film Festival (Won Best Short film)
    Hollywood Screenings, Film Festival (Semi-finalist)

    Lang also directed a music video for the Gold Coast based DJ duo “Bombs Away,” which was featured on MTV.

  • Emily Seale-Jones Returns to NYFA to Talk About Creating Content

    The Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy has started a new Industry Trend series, which welcomes recent graduates who are at early and mid-level stages of their career. The series aims to provide current students with a glimpse of what their careers might look like in the near future.

    emily seale-jones

    Last week, as part of the Industry Trend series, Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby welcomed her former student, Emily Seale-Jones, who is an actress, writer, producer, and director. Seale-Jones spoke about creating content, specifically her web series “Frankie and Emma.” The series follows the daily, comical antics of two girls in London. Seale-Jones created the show and stars in it with Nancy Wallinger, who is known for “The Play That Goes Wrong” at London’s West End.

    Seale-Jones said she created the show in order to showcase her skills as both an actress and a filmmaker. “It’s really uncomfortable to promote yourself, but you have to get used to it,” she said. “If people aren’t going to bank on you, then you need to do the work and prove you’re bankable. You have to prove yourself.”

    At the end of the day, even if Seale-Jones is unable to sell the series to a network, she believes it’s important to get the work out there for people to see. That’s the goal. “If you want to do something, you just go ahead and do it,” added Seale-Jones.

    Her first experience creating content was at NYFA in 2011 when she decided to create a play with her fellow classmates and with Glynis as her director. Seale-Jones said NYFA broke down the wall of filmmaking, allowing her to believe the entire process of creating a film from idea to completion is feasible.

    Seale-Jones also spoke about her film, “To Tokyo,” which her brother wrote and directed over a four year span in Japan. The film is about a young woman, hiding from her past, who is confronted by her stepsister in Japan and forced to face the figure that haunts her in a world where dreams meet reality.

    With all of her projects, Seale-Jones has realized one major fact: “There has to be something that’s the driving force. You can’t rely on anyone except yourself.”

    March 29, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1320

  • NYFA Acting for Film Grad’s “Proceed with Caution” Available on Amazon

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alumnus Kojo Boama’s newest short film, “Proceed With Caution,” has been picked up by Amazon Prime video. “Proceed with Caution,” written by NYFA alumnus Joey Colebut, is about an upcoming NYC music producer who stumbles on his way to stardom by getting his mistress pregnant. The film has been talked about by major hip-hop artists such as P.Diddy, Jadakiss, and Swizz Beatz.

    We had a chat with Boama to find out more about his new film, and about how aspiring filmmakers should never give up.

    Hi Kojo. Can you tell us where you’re from and what brought you to NYFA?

    I was born in Ghana, West Africa and raised in Harlem, NY. My mother lived in London and had me educated in England as well. She was going to have me stay and live the rest of my life there, so NYFA in NY was an alternative escape route to move back in with my father up in Harlem while seeking to further my education and study a craft.

    And the craft you studied was Acting for Film. Can you tell us about your experience in NYFA’s Acting for Film program?

    I absolutely loved the acting program. Meisner technique is an essential tool I still use today: always listening to determine the true meaning underneath a person’s statement was a technique that was very useful in the making of this film. This is because I had to multitask around the set — produce, semi-direct and clean the set while playing the lead role. So aside from memorizing my lines, actually paying attention to other actors responses helped save me from potential bad acting.

    kojo boama

    How did this short film come about? What made you want to create “Proceed with Caution”?

    This short film was written by fellow NYFA student Joey Colebut, who had originally had me act in his final showcase at NYFA. I fell in love with the process. Most of our journey can be found on our episodic youtube documentary called “Never Give Up,” which showcases the trials and tribulation it took to actually make this project a reality. “Proceed with Caution” was scheduled to be wrapped in six months, but due to setbacks it ended up taking four years. (Below is the first episode of “Never Give Up.”)

    You have some really notable hip-hop artists and celebrities talking about your film. How did that come about?

    Due to the hardships of making this project a reality, I always had to plot ahead to see how I could overcome any giving situation. Initially, I worked over at CBS and used to rush down celebrities every time they came by to get some endorsements. One endorsement from Jack Thriller, which I actually got on 125th street in Harlem, helped turn this project around. I knew that hiring my co-star, Jack Thriller, who is signed with 50 Cent, and is talked about in the streets to be the next Kevin Heart, would help open other doors to various people within the entertainment business. (Check out this episode for more details.)

    Why do you believe people should see your film?

    Aside from the fact that it’s mere entertainment, I also want to give aspiring artists hope that they could do it as well. Thus, the making of the behind the scenes episodic documentary “Never Give Up.”

    What do you hope to achieve with this film?

    I hope this film helps open doors for me to grow as a filmmaker within the industry, and for me to be able to make a few feature films.

    Are you planning to film a feature version of “Proceed with Caution”?

    I could make a feature version of this project if need be, but I have already written another feature, “Blue Grease,” which I believe would be a great challenge for me if I’m able to accomplish it. “Blue Grease” is an urban love and basketball themed movie.

    We wish you the best of luck with everything!

    If you’re interested in checking out “Proceed with Caution,” CLICK HERE.

    March 28, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2141

  • NYFA Alumna’s Thesis Film “My Lover Never Came” Wins Three Awards at NYC Indie Film Awards

    Growing up in Myanmar, Moe Myat May Zarchi was very interested in a variety of movies from art house cinema to american independent films, and also reading about film history. Though adept to the storytelling aspects of filmmaking, Zarchi decided to pursue the Filmmaking Program at the New York Film Academy to learn how to make a film professionally and systematically. While in the program, Zarchi directed her thesis film, “My Lover Never Came,” which she says is about “the process of destruction in identity and sense of direction in this world for wanting something that you would never get back.” The protagonist is a young woman who is waiting and searching for her mysterious lover. It is told subtly in the form of a visual narrative using words and photographic frames.

    my lover never came

    “We had about four months to film our thesis film from writing scripts to production,” said Zarchi. “But just about three weeks before shooting my original script, I had to cancel it because of property rights. I went through an anxiety induced state as it felt too rushed for me to come up with a new idea, a new story. So I decided to take my mind from it. By chance, I came across photographer Duane Michels’ photo sequences, and one of his particular series made me think of this idea. I could personally relate to it so much that I need to make a film of it. The visual style is also an adaption of his photographs.”

    So far the film has screened in New Filmmakers NY and won three awards at NYC Indie Film Awards (Best Short Film, Best Director and Best Editing).

    my lover never came

    “The experience at NYFA was indeed very useful,” said Zarchi. “It totally made me consider all the production aspects of turning an idea into a film; how to balance the budget, draw the timeline, get all the rights, working with a big team and handling the stress. But the most important tip I learned from NYFA is the question ‘why?’ Knowing why I choose a particular frame or movement, the color palette, the production design, the acting style, the pace, and the rhythm, makes me really dig into knowing my film as a director. It really brings out all the emotions and tones from a film.”

    Zarchi is currently working on post-production of a short film she shot in New York, after graduating NYFA. She’s also working on a script for a feature film, which she intends to shoot Myanmar.

    March 27, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3015