Student and Alumni Spotlights

  • NYFA Movie Musical “Start-Up.Com” Earns Laurel of Excellence Award

    start-upEach year, the New York Film Academy produces movie musicals as the culmination to its 2-Year Musical Theatre Conservatory. These films consist of entirely original material (story and music) and are produced by industry professionals who come onboard and create a story and musical platform that is tailored around the 2-Year students featured in the film. This year’s film, Start-Up.Com, was written by NYFA Screenwriting Chair Melanie Oram and NYFA Musical Theatre Chair Mark Olsen, who also directed the film. Additionally, NYFA alumnus Sean Robinson was the producer, NYFA Cinematography Instructor Piero Basso was the Director of Photography, and NYFA Musical Theatre Instructor Bobby Cronin wrote the original music, which is a seminal part to the movie musical apparatus.

    In the film, a small but inventive start-up company named Big Apple Orchard develops a program using facial recognition software that they hope can find missing children and aide in the fight against human trafficking.

    Given the talent and hard work that went into the production, it came as no surprise when a Laurel of Excellence Award was presented to Start-Up.Com. The accolade came from the Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network, which will be broadcasting the film on-air August 6th from 9pm-Midnight on Brighthouse Network 635 and Frontier FiOs 32 to an audience of 1.3 million viewers in the Tampa Bay area.


    “The accolade was awarded to everyone at NYFA involved in making the film — students and crew alike,” said producer, Sean Robinson. “It takes a village to make a film of this caliber and everyone’s role is an integral part in the process and should be equally celebrated. The students are fortunate to have a team of veteran filmmakers spearheading this level of exposure for them in the professional arena.”

    The team is already making plans for their next movie musical, which will focus on “freedom of expression.” Blanche Baker, a senior instructor in the Acting and Musical Theatre Programs, is directing and Robinson will be producing once again. The new movie musical, which has social and political undertones and features Musical Theatre’s 2-Year Summer 2015 students, puts an emphasis on examining graffiti as an art, as opposed to vandalism.

    June 28, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 728

  • New York Film Academy High School Camp Grad Spotlight: Oksana Kuzychenko

    Two-time champion of the Russian National Hip-Hop Dancing Championship among junior teams, Oksana Kuzychenko, has always wanted to dedicate her life to the preforming and visual arts. In her early childhood she took dancing and singing classes and lately she discovered her new passion for photography. Last summer Oksana spent 4 weeks in Los Angeles learning Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy High School Camp.

    high school summer camp

    Recently, we spoke with Oksana to catch up on her life after NYFA summer camp.

    Can you please share with us what you’ve been up to since graduating from our summer program?

    Currently, I’m finishing my senior year of high school, teaching stretching classes, and dancing. Last December our team won junior league in the Cheer-Hip-Hop Competition at the International Forum of Contemporary Dance and Cheersport. At the same competition, my sister and I took second place among junior duos.

    Also, in May, our team finished fifth at the 13th World Dance Olympiad in the “Teams Show” category among adults. For us it is a great achievement, because we moved into the adult league only last year and had to compete against teams who have danced in the adult league for more than 3-5 years.

    Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of your dancing performances?

    It helped me to become less shy and fearless. Now, when I perform on stage, I feel more confident. Also, when I teach stretching I use breathing exercises, which we practiced in my NYFA Voice & Movement class.

    In addition, I learned at NYFA how to make short videos and now I often film different school events.

    What was most memorable about your time at NYFA?

    Acting in short student films on the Universal Studios backlot. Never in my life have I been so close to the real world of cinema.

    Did you have any favorite instructors?

    Andrew Bloch! He is very kind, cheerful and thoughtful. He cared about every single student and constantly encouraged us. My English wasn’t very good at that time and Andrew Bloch treated me with understanding and support.

    In the future, do you plan on building a professional career in dancing or is it something you consider more of a hobby?

    Since childhood, my dream was to become an actress—act in the theatre and movies. And of course, as an actress, it is a huge plus to be flexible and rhythmic. But if my acting dream does not come true, I will open my own dance school and will raise new champions!

    June 27, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4037

  • BFA Photography Student Delivers TEDx Talk on “Why People Matter”

    brenda cantu

    Brenda Cantu

    In any work of art, or even in everyday life, it is important to emphasize with either the characters in a story or those around us. Recently, BFA Photography student, Brenda Cantu was invited by TEDx Talks to enlighten people to the fact that every individual that you cross paths with has struggles, dreams, and fears of their own and, most importantly, to make people realize that they do matter. Taking this into consideration, we should all be more aware of the attitude we choose to express towards strangers and acquaintances in our daily lives, because it truly does make a difference in the world.

    “I hadn’t really acknowledged this until I started photographing and talking to strangers myself,” said Cantu. “I wanted to share that experience with the audience at hand.”

    The Monterrey, Mexico native initially gained the attention of a woman from TEDx Talks through her social media accounts, which showcased her work. After a conversation over the phone, Cantu was invited back to her home country to deliver a TEDxYouth@ASFM Talk about this very notion: “Why People Matter.”

    “I freaked out, of course, because I had never done anything like that, especially in front of such a big audience! On top of that, I was the only one being brought all the way from LA, and I felt really pressured to deliver something entertaining and great. But I took the opportunity anyway because I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and take this chance to expand my creative work and opinion with the people around me.”

    Cantu hopes her talk will achieve a change of societal attitude.

    "Chris" photo by Brenda Cantu

    “Chris” photo by Brenda Cantu

    “I personally feel that we’re at a time where we lack love and empathy towards individuals that we’re not as familiar with—and even those that we are with—and we lack the awareness of the fact that they feel as much as we do. I want nothing more than to see people being understanding, accepting, and supportive of other people even though they might share different beliefs and experiences, as long as these do not harm one another. It all really just starts with oneself.

    Back at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Cantu is continuing a photography series called “Midnight Memories,” and is in the process of beginning a new personal project that should be released in the next six months.

    "Josh" photo by Brenda Cantu

    “Josh” photo by Brenda Cantu

    “NYFA has not only made me grow in the technical and theoretical aspects of photography, but also in the humane, personal one. I’ve had the extraordinary opportunity of being taught and guided by overly talented teachers that have been nothing but inspiring and supportive to me and to my work. I’m deeply thankful for their insight and knowledge.”


    June 24, 2016 • Photography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3434

  • NYFA Doc Grad Wins Italian Golden Globe

    if i were warriorBravo to New York Film Academy Documentary graduate Valerio Ciriaci for winning the Italian Golden Globe for Best Documentary! This significant award, assigned annually by the Foreign Press Association in Rome, was presented to the director “for the courage, balance and the technical mastery he employed in his first feature film to shed light on the dark pages of Italy’s colonial past and expose the amnesia that surrounds them.”

    The feature documentary, If Only I Were That Warrior, focuses on the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1935. Following the recent construction of a monument dedicated to Fascist general Rodolfo Graziani, the film addresses unpunished war crimes he and others committed in the name of Mussolini’s imperial ambitions. The present day stories of three characters filmed in Italy, Ethiopia and the U.S.A. take the audience on a journey through the remains and living memories of the Italian colonial venture in Ethiopia.


    “The idea for If Only I Were That Warrior took shape in February 2013, after I attended a panel discussion in New York about the recently inaugurated monument to Rodolfo Graziani,” said Ciriaci. “I was struck by the heartfelt anger and indignation voiced by the Ethiopians who were present that day. Their stories spoke of atrocities carried out in the name of my country, and I realized how little I knew, as an Italian, about our colonial ventures in Africa. I began to read about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. I learned how Fascist propaganda told the Italian masses that Ethiopia was their rightful ‘place in the sun.’ I learned about the war crimes committed in the name of Mussolini’s imperial ambitions.”

    In Italy these events belong to a chapter in history that is often overlooked in schoolbooks and obscured by revisionist myths. For decades, Italians saw themselves as “italiani brava gente” (Italians, good people), an expression suggesting Italians were kinder and more tolerant compared to other colonial powers.

    If Only I Were That Warrior – Trailer from Awen Films on Vimeo.

    “As I continued my research, the question that I kept returning to was: how can Graziani, who is remembered as ‘the Butcher of Ethiopia’, be honored in Italy with a public monument? How was this monument approved in a country where Fascism is constitutionally banned? This film is my attempt to unravel these questions,” added Ciriaci.

    Since its premiere at Festival dei Popoli in Florence, the film has screened at various festivals and venues in the United States, Italy, the UK and Ethiopia.

    “The film is self-distributed and we often present the film in person at cultural centers, community venues and schools,” said Ciriaci. “Educational distribution has become especially important for the film and we continue to receive requests from history, Italian studies and African studies professors who want to use it as a teaching tool in class. Producer Isaak Liptzin and I have traveled quite a lot both here and in Italy.”

    If I were warrior

    Be sure to check out the film’s website to stay up-to-date on upcoming screenings. Later this summer the team plans to release the film on both streaming platforms and DVD. In the fall, the documentary will be broadcast on TV in Italy and Switzerland.

    Ciriaci is currently working on a couple of new documentaries that are set between Italy and the US—both in the past and the present.

    “Subjects such as memory and migration are of particular interest to me, and I intend to continue investigating them in the next films,” concluded Ciriaci.

    June 22, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2296

  • Kylan Ross: Straight Outta NYFA to “Straight Outta Oz”

    After coming on the scene as a semi-finalist in Season 9 of American Idol, the multi-talented performer Todrick Hall has quickly built a following to become a household name in the world of musical theatre. From his flash mob for Ariana Grande to his Beyoncé themed flash mob performed in the middle of a Target store, Hall’s Youtube channel has grown to over 2 million subscribers.

    Hall is now taking his talents on tour in his upcoming show, Straight Outta Oz. The tour will run the entire summer at cities all across the country. New York Film Academy Musical Theatre students and alumni shouldn’t be surprised when they see a familiar face in the cast, as recent graduate Kylan Ross will be playing “The Wizard.”

    Fortunately for us, we had a chance to chat with the recent Musical Theatre graduate before he heads off on tour this summer.

    Kylan Ross

    Kylan Ross in a NYFA Musical Performance

    Congratulations on being cast as ‘The Wizard’ in Todrick Hall’s Straight Outta Oz! When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue musical theatre?

    I guess there were many different moments in my life that led up to me wanting to pursue musical theatre. Before I can remember, I loved singing pop music. I remember my mom would always be playing either Celine Dion or Michael Bolton songs, or singing random show tunes in the house, so I was raised with music all my life.

    What really opened my eyes to musical theatre was the movie musical adaptations of the musicals Rent and Chicago. I remember being younger and watching those movies on repeat, over and over again, to the point where I could recite the whole movies from start to finish.

    My first big theatre experience was when I went on a high school trip to London when I was 14 and our teachers brought us to see Wicked. From the moment the overture began to play I was in awe. I stood up at the end of the song ‘Defying Gravity’ and began to leave the theatre, until my teachers stopped me and told me that there was another act. I couldn’t believe how music, singing and dancing could tell such a story and I knew from that moment that this was something that I wanted to do. When I returned home I joined a local musical society called S.O.N.G and with them my passion and love for musical theatre grew with every show we put on.

    Why did you decide to study at NYFA?

    When I decided to study musical theatre I was actually in my final year of college studying Forensic Science and Biology. I knew I wanted to finish my degree but I also knew that there was really only one thing I wanted to do, and that was to perform, so I began to research schools. After looking through lots of programs I came across NYFA and from reading what classes they offered and seeing who some of their staff members were, I was sold. NYFA’s 2-Year Conservatory Program not only offers musical theatre training but on-camera training too, which no other program I researched offered. Other classes like Pop/Rock and Movie Musical were also a huge bonus to an already impressive program. I knew NYFA was the place for me.

    kylan ross

    Kylan Ross at NYFA performance

    How did you land the role of ‘The Wizard?’

    I was looking up auditions on when I came across the auditions for Straight Outta Oz. I have been a huge Todrick Hall fan, so when I read the breakdown I knew that this was something I had to audition for. It was one of the first auditions I did after graduating from NYFA, so I was still getting used to the daily audition routine while trying to keep the audition nerves at bay. The first day of auditions at Pearl studios was the singers’ call and I sang “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. I came back the following day to the dance call where we did a commercial/hip-hop routine followed by another singing call where I sang “Alive” by Sia. A few weeks later I received a call from Todrick Hall offering me the role of ‘The Wizard.’

    What was your reaction when you found out?

    I was actually on a break from a restaurant job I was working at when I got the call from Todrick. I was in complete shock, so I did what most people do in a time of shock and I called my mother. We spent about five minutes just shouting back and forth at each other with excitement on the phone. I then called my boyfriend Cullen, another NYFA alum, and told him the good news. Unfortunately for me, I had to go back and work the dinner shift at my job, but, needless to say, I was smiling from ear to ear that night.

    kylan ross nyfa

    Would you say your training and experience at NYFA is useful in terms of being prepared for this role?

    I can honestly say that my training and experience at NYFA played, and will continue to play, a huge role in my audition process, as well as preparing for a role and performing. I have learned so many valuable skills and knowledge from the best in the business and I will be forever grateful for that. I would especially like to thank the dance staff at NYFA and in particular Chad Austin, Michelle Potterf and Deidre Goodwin, who I was lucky enough to have from the beginning to the end of my NYFA training.

    I never thought I would ever be able to go to a dance audition, but working with these people really improved my confidence, skill and training in dance and now I go to as many dance calls as I can. All of the staff at NYFA are the most supportive, caring and driven people I have ever met and I am so grateful to have learned from and to have worked with such talented people who genuinely want to best for all their students.

    When will we be able to see you perform as ‘The Wizard?’

    Straight Outta Oz will be touring the country all summer and we will be having a New York show on August 4th in The Highline Ballroom. For tickets and more information about show locations and venues visit

    June 21, 2016 • Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3791

  • Broadcast Journalism Alumni Highlights

    New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism graduate George Colli was on-the-scene in Orlando, for Cox Media, last week. His reports appeared on Fox 25 in Boston, Channel 11 in Pittsburgh, Fox 23 in Tulsa, News Center 7 in Dayton, Channel 9 Eyewitness News in Charlotte, Fox 13 in Memphis and KIRO 7 in Seattle.


    George Colli in Orlando

    Here, in his words, are what he was doing: “Very intense first 48 hours. The vigil last night seems to have lifted the air a little bit. Definitely a different intensity this morning. I’m on about four hours of sleep since Sunday morning, and approaching 90 live shots since 10pm Sunday. I’ve been doing double duty. Starting at 3:30a for morning shows right through the late shows.”


    Zack Baddorf has been pretty busy too. He is editing a cross-platform video project called Veterans Coming Home. In addition to being distributed digitally, these powerful stories will also be broadcast on PBS television stations across the country. His most recent video is about Jeff Hawkins, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, teaches kids to build their own projects at YMakers, a partnership between YMCA of San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Health System.

    Beyt Euro 1026

    If you are in Europe, or a big fan of soccer (OK… futbal), then you know that the eyes of the world are on Europe for Euro 2016. Our very own Beytullah Bayar, a graduate of the Fall 2013 1-year Broadcast Journalism program, is reporting on all the action for Turkish Radio and Television (TRT). As usual, Beyt has a tremendous tie to go along with his equally fashionable suit. Looking sharp there, Beyt!

    We end this week with a final “congratulations” to our most recent NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduates. And thanks to Joel Spector for capturing the final moments of their graduation ceremony. See it here…

    June 20, 2016 • Broadcast Journalism, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 712

  • NYFA Grad Directs “Hands of Stone” with Robert De Niro

    Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 11.34.48 AM

    Jonathan Jakubowicz

    Over the years, boxing films have provided the cinema with many dramatic elements that make for an award-winning film. Directors like Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and David O’ Russell have showcased their remarkable behind-the-camera magic through the story of a troubled or underdog boxer that often undergoes a significant character arc. In New York Film Academy graduate Jonathan Jakubowicz’s most recent film, Hands of Stone, the Venezuelan-born director tackles the story of boxer, Roberto Duran (played by Edgar Ramirez) and his legendary trainer, Ray Arcel (played by Oscar Winning actor Robert De Niro). Coming off its impressive premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Hands of Stone will see its US wide release on August 26, 2016.

    After graduating from the Academy nearly twenty years ago, it was a pleasure to catch up with the director who has certainly come a long way since his film school days.

    Congratulations on your most recent film, Hands of Stone! Can you tell us a little bit about your film? In your own words, what is the film about?

    It’s the story of how Roberto Duran and his trainer Ray Arcel changed each other’s life. Two legends at the heart of the golden era of boxing, and what they went through to get to Duran’s battles with Sugar Ray Leonard.

    Why do you think Roberto Duran’s story is so important to tell?

    It’s an inspiring story that shows how Duran came from nothing and became a hero for his nation. The son of a US marine, Duran grows up dreaming to take revenge against the Americans who are occupying his land, and his American trainer enables him to become the best version of himself. It’s a movie about a Latin hero, and Hollywood usually only shows Latinos as drug dealers.

    How did this film come about and how did Robert De Niro become involved?

    It was a process of many years. From convincing Duran to trust us with his life rights, to writing the script and sending it to De Niro. Then working with De Niro on the script for half a year until he decided to play the part. Then raising the money outside of the system, because no studio would make a movie about a Latin boxer. And then the best part: making the movie.

    The Weinstein Brothers are distributing your film. Can you tell me how that came to fruition?

    I’ve known Harvey for many years because he distributed my first film Secuestro Express. He’s been tracking this movie since before we shot it and he came on board when I showed him some initial footage. He fell in love with it from the beginning and has been an incredible ally in completing the project. We just premiered the movie in Cannes and it was a life-changing experience. And in August it opens wide all over the US. It’s a dream come true all around.

    Would you say NYFA’s training was useful in terms of being prepared to direct films such as this and the others you’ve worked on?

    I went to the University in Venezuela and graduated with a major in journalism, but NYFA was the first exposure I got to any kind of formal education in filmmaking. It was my “ABC’s,” the first steps I took to make movies professionally. That was twenty years ago. There’s no doubt that what I learned at NYFA helped. It was very emotional for me to shoot a scene with De Niro and Ellen Barkin, two legendary New Yorkers, a few blocks from the school. It definitely felt like those two moments in my life, being a film student and directing my dream movie, were connected.

    What advice do you have for filmmakers looking to break into this industry?

    I would tell them to tell stories they are convinced they can tell better than anyone. Duran is Latino; Arcel, his trainer, is Jewish. I’m a Latin Jew. I knew both worlds. Not many filmmakers know both worlds better than me. And that allowed me to make the movie with confidence, and confidence is the only tool a filmmaker can trust. Breaking into the industry is the consequence of achieving a goal. The goal is making a good movie. Focus on that goal. Make a movie that shows you can do stuff others can’t. High quality consumer cameras and computers give you an opportunity no other generation has ever had. There are no excuses why you haven’t made your first film. If you feel you are ready, do it. And do a feature. You will learn more from a feature than from 30 shorts.

    Congratulations once again on this film and all of your success in this industry thus far. We’re looking forward to seeing Hands of Stone in theaters when it comes out this August 26, 2016.

    June 17, 2016 • Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1527

  • NYFA Alumna Livi Zheng Screens Debut Feature “Brush with Danger”

    On June 8th, New York Film Academy students were treated to an inspirational evening with one of their own when they attended a screening and Q&A with NYFA alumna, feature film director, and accomplished martial artist Livi Zheng.

    livi zheng

    Livi screened trailer clips from her first film, Brush with Danger, which she co wrote and starred in with her brother. She also screened press clips from her first film and exclusive behind the scenes from her second film.

    In addition Livi had good advice on the distribution process, one of the most difficult areas for new filmmakers to navigate. She addressed the topic of distributors pressuring to sell your movie immediately “take your time to make your decision. They want to rush you…once you sign, it’s binding,” she said.

    Livi began her academic career in economics before deciding to switch to filmmaking. A lifelong student of martial arts, she has been interested in filmmaking since she was fifteen years old because people in martial arts “do movies or coach.” She told the audience, however, that she sees a strong relationship between filmmaking and economics, telling the assembled students and guests,”Film is a business. It’s very related to economics, but you can learn [economics] by doing it—read a book or Google it.”

    June 16, 2016 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 672

  • A Talk with Fulbright Scholar Elena Kulikova

    Many young people who are dreaming of being able to enroll in a higher education institution in the United States often give up this idea because of high tuition costs. But for those who really want to achieve their goals, the financial barrier is not an issue.

    Today we spoke with New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) graduate student, Elena Kulikova, whose story is truly fascinating and inspiring. In 2008, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship that completely covered her two-year master’s degree tuition at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, as well as living and traveling expenses.

    Elena KulikovaElena, how did your Fulbright Scholarship come about?

    I really love studying, in general. I need constant development, constant stimulus, and training is the best motivator. Previously, I had received my degrees from Lomonosov Moscow State University and VGIK, and I then wanted to get my Masters Degree abroad.

    At that time, I was working with a wonderful film producer Roman Borisevich. We attended various international festivals and film markets together and I realized that I want to study co-production — an area of filmmaking that wasn’t widely known, and taught in Russia at that time.

    Visual Arts education in the United States was a natural logical solution, but I could not afford it financially, and began to look for grants options. As a result, I learned about the Fulbright program, which is on a competitive basis, providing grants for education, research, and training in any US university for citizens of Russia and many other countries.

    Can you describe the competition process?

    The first step required submitting translated diploma of higher education, two letters of recommendation, two motivational essay (personal statement, study objective), as well as to pass the pre-TOEFL test. Then I passed the TOEFL iBT and GRE General official exams. The final step was the interview.

    Who conducts the interview and what questions should candidates be prepared for?

    Every interview begins with a self-presentation. This part should be prepared in advance. Preparation will give you self-confidence, which is very important. The members of the Commission are teachers from different US universities participating in the Fulbright program. There might be representatives of Harvard, the University of Utah, professors from Texas, etc. But this does not mean that you go to those universities. Their goal is to assess your motivation to study in the chosen area, see if you have “sparkling eyes,” that your English is good and academic goals are serious.

    You should keep in mind that Fulbright provides scholarship for more than 40 disciplines. And the commission chooses one or two candidates from each field. I can’t tell exactly how many applications were in my stream, but at the first stage, we were told that there are 10 candidates for one spot.

    Be confident, positive, friendly and prepare a few questions to the Commission. Ask them for advice. Keep the dialogue.

    Tell us about your interview experience?

    This is a very funny story. A specific time of the interview was scheduled for each candidate. Of course I was very nervous, because it was the final step. When I entered into the room and saw six American teachers, my heart dropped down.

    They asked me to introduce myself and talk about my education and work experience. I was prepared for this question and spoke enthusiastically about how lucky I was to study in two of the best Russian Universities, and how grateful I am to my destiny.

    Suddenly, the professors started talking to each other, and then one of them interrupted me. He asked me to wait outside because of “technical issues.”

    I did not understand anything, but went out obediently, thinking I had failed.

    Ten minutes later, I was invited back and explained that there was confusion with my documents. Instead of my portfolio they had documents of another Elena Kulikova from Tula (also a member of the competition), who studied the biology of invertebrates.

    The professors apologized and asked me to come for a new interview the next day. We laughed together, and next day I wasn’t scared anymore. The professors seemed almost like family.

    How did you prepare for the TOEFL and GRE exams?

    I did it on my own and most of my energy was spent for GRE preparation. This exam is more difficult. In addition to language skills it required a refresher in algebra and geometry memory. Even if it’s just a high school level, it’s been 10 years since I graduated the school. After all, my GRE result was “passing,” but with the TOEFL I “flunked” the speaking section.

    I did not have enough time to formulate my thoughts. The timer counted five seconds, and I fell into a stupor. Due to the low results in this section my overall score went down. Instead of the required 100 I scored 97.

    I would advise students who are planning to apply to try several times before the exam to pass the training tests (from books or online) and watch video tutorials on the passage of each section (a lot of them are on YouTube), to avoid the situation that happened to me.

    Any tips for recommendation letters and motivation essays? What should you pay attention to?

    Letters of recommendation have to be written by teachers (who know the academic performance of the candidate), or colleagues, including managers from work. They should really know you and your abilities very well.

    Motivation letter: Try to imagine your future in three years. What would you like to achieve? Now think about how a Masters Degree from a United States university can help you realize your goals. This should be the main idea of ​​your essay. Describe your experience up to date. What achievements have you already made? At the end, add about how you plan to apply the knowledge when you return to Russia.


    Kulikova Elena

    Please share with us the most vivid memories of studying producing at NYFA. 

    At the New York Film Academy I started adding practical skills and techniques to the theory background I had and I was able to produce more than 10 projects in two years.

    Most of them were short films for students from the Filmmaking Department, but still it was a major operation, which required my producer’s knowledge to count the number of shooting days and break down a budget on paper. We received official permission to shoot along with major production companies in Film LA, scouted locations, organized and conducted auditions, signed contracts with actors and crew, and organized catering. In short, with each new project I was gaining new real producing experience.

    In particular, I would like to mention the Head Producer of the program – Lydia Cedrone. She is an incredibly strong woman and an excellent professional. She knows how to motivate and is always ready to work with each student who needs her advice or consultation. We have developed wonderful friendships.

    Also, my favorite NYFA instructor became Brian Udovich, who led the NYFA Industry “Pitching” course. Being an extremely shy person by nature, I was shaking like a leaf. He coached us how to speak in front of an audience. But the adrenaline from his lessons, plus the practical tips and friendly atmosphere, made me free from the fear of public speaking. Now I am happy and completely free to participate in the pitches and give presentations and provide lectures.

    Also, I’ve never thought that, as a producer, I can independently write a full-length screenplay. NYFA proved to me that it is possible! During training, I wrote two features and a pilot for a television series in English. My thanks goes to Sharon Hoffman for her patience, professional comments, edits, as well as the delicious brownies that she fed the exhausted students who were not sleeping night after night writing the next 20 pages of their script.

    What were some of your achievements while studying in the US?

    It is difficult to write about the achievements. Rather, I have received a huge number of possibilities: the ability to learn from real professionals working in Los Angeles; the ability to have trained in the production company of Mark Cuban (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Road,” “Jacket”); the ability to live in the heart of the film industry and attend guest speakers events with Steven Spielberg, Janusz Kaminski, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, and J.J. Abrams; attend screening previews of films and join meetings with writers and directors nominated for an Oscar. Additionally, I worked as a volunteer at the AFI Festival.

    How do you motivate yourself?

    I just believe in my dreams. In fact, if you really want something, everything in life is possible.

    What helps you make the right decision in difficult situations?

    Confidence in my beliefs, colleagues support, and experience.

    Where do you see yourself in ten years?

    I prefer not to build plans for a career. I prefer harmony in my personal and professional life. Only then do I feel happy and full of energy for the realization of the boldest creative ideas. If something starts to outweigh—work or family—the problems begin. The only thing I’m sure about the future: I will keep studying and I would like to get a PhD.

    In your opinion how in today’s world does the success of a creative person depend on the level of education received?

    In my opinion creative success does not directly depend on the education received. And success itself is generally an ephemeral substance. Like luck. But education makes life more interesting and opens up new horizons, awakens imagination, and gives emotions and experiences that are not available to uneducated people.

    June 15, 2016 • Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4267

  • Starting a Career in Animation Through Social Media

    As a graduate of the 3D Animation program at the New York Film Academy, Eliska Podzimkova has utilized her skills and creativity through the emerging social media platform, Instagram. Since creating her account animateNY, Eliska has grown over 56k followers, who all check their newsfeed for Eliska’s unique take on both New York City and, currently, the world.


    A photo posted by Eliska Podzimkova (@animateny) on

    The Prague native has loved New York City ever since she was a child and her pursuit of the arts at the New York Film Academy only furthered her love. To continue her stay in New York, Eliska was welcomed to NYFA’s social media team to liven its artistic brand and engage with likeminded artists. Her work was well received by students, alumni, and followers of the Academy.

    “The Story of New York”

    A video posted by Eliska Podzimkova (@animateny) on

    After nearly a year of working with NYFA, Eliska’s sense of exploration and desire to travel the world led her back to Europe where she continues to work, travel, and animate. Eliska has worked alongside British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, and has been featured in numerous publications including Metro NY, Evening Standard, boredpanda, and others. Her short film Babl won Best Animated Short at the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in Brooklyn.

    BABLS from Eliska Podzimkova on Vimeo.

    This summer, the New York Film Academy is reuniting with the animation alumna through its annual #NYFASummer Photo Contest. For the past few summers NYFA has held a photography contest on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for our summer camp students to show off their locations, sets, and overall campus life at each of their specific locations.

    For more information on the #NYFASummer Contest, please CLICK HERE.

    June 14, 2016 • 3D Animation, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3146