Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Grads Star in “Young Man’s Dream” Music Video

    Madeline Howlett and Georgia Allison, recent graduates of the Acting for Film program at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus, scored themselves lead features as mermaidesque muses in the newly released “Young Man’s Dream” music video for Australian rock group Byron Short and the Sunset Junkies.

    Of her New York Film Academy student experience, Madeline says, “NYFA being on the backlot of the Village Roadshow Studios has a professional agenda from the very beginning. Our lecturers were also very respected and gave us professional advice on how to present yourself in a professional manner when big things are happening around you.”

    Crediting her lecturers for ensuring she learnt in a supportive and inspiring environment, Madeline believes “having teachers who were also brutally honest has made me respect them even more and has helped me learn tremendously as an actress; their support and encouragement has had a huge benefit for me out in the industry.”

    Currently working on a collaborative project with another NYFA graduate, Madeline’s major goal for 2017 is to gain agency representation, stating, “I have never been more excited for my future. This year is my year to grow immensely.”

    February 10, 2017 • Acting, Entertainment Australia, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 589

  • NYFA Student’s “Soul” Screening at Berlin International Film Festival

    pedro peiraThe Berlin International Film Festival is underway, and we’re thrilled to see New York Film Academy Los Angeles Fulbright student Pedro Peira is Executive Producer of the documentary film “Soul,” which will be screening at the festival this Sunday, Feb. 12 and Monday, Feb. 13.

    The Spanish documentary, from filmmakers José Antonio Blanco and Ángel Parra, focuses on Eneko Atxa, a three Michelin star chef who runs a restaurant complex near Bilbao in the Basque region. His exploration of the “soul” of cooking has him traveling to famous colleagues in Catalonia and Japan. Throughout the documentary, some of the most relevant personalities of international gastronomy such as Michael Ellis, manager of the Michelin guide, or Joël Robuchon, the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world, take us into the secrets and the vicissitudes of a profession based on effort, which is continually being reinvented and requires huge sacrifices.

    pedro peira
    “What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories,” said Peira. “Of course I’ve learned about image and sound, which are also important, but being able to include some kind of drama in a story stands out above the rest. As a matter of fact, during the final editing process of ‘Soul’ I would call the director while he was editing the film and, after watching the cuts together, he applied what I was discovering at NYFA. I think is has helped the film.”

    “SOUL” Trailer from Festimania Pictures on Vimeo.

    “Even though I’ve just finished my first semester at NYFA, I’ve felt an evolution in my work,” added Peira. “When I arrived, my approach to documentary was an informational one. After screening my final project of the semester, I felt that I had started to be able to generate emotions. When people laugh or cry when watching your films, you know you have been doing something right.”

    For tickets and more information on “Soul” and its screening at the Berlin Film Festival, CLICK HERE.

    February 10, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2426

  • Former NYFA Student Peyman Umay Earns Fashion Group International Rising Star Award

    The world of fashion gathered at Cipriani 42nd Steet for the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star awards, which included the Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg, who delivered the keynote address and some comic relief for the up-and-coming talent.

    The Rising Star awards focuses on celebrating emerging forces in fashion, beauty and related industries for their creativity and vision. This year’s Menswear prize was awarded to former New York Film Academy student Peyman Umay.

    peyman umay

    After designing for high-end brands in Europe and the U.S., Umay founded Peyman Umay brand in 2011 offering luxury men’s made-to-measure clothing, by appointment only. Within two years, through his passion, hard-work and colorful agenda; Peyman created a loyal clientele by combining his fashion design background with unique services that no other brand does. Realizing the need and not being able to resist the consistent demand, He launched women’s made-to-measure line in 2013 and finally men’s ready-to-wear collection in 2015, opening the first Peyman Umay retail store in Aspen, Colorado. Having recently penned his first book, the New York based designer shares his secrets in “Dressing Well” that will be published soon.

    “I’m truly honored to win this award from an organization that has such an impact in the fashion industry,” said Umay. “This is such an amazing acknowledgement, a significant milestone for me because getting here wasn’t easy at all. I had nothing but pocketful of dreams when I first moved to the U.S. People called me ‘dreamer’ but I was the one who never slept. There were some people though who were present during all of my struggles, who witnessed everything I went through, which is why they know more than most as to how much this award means to me. I’m so grateful and I will never take this award granted.”

    Umay’s bespoke line has stirred quite the celebrity buzz, due to his impeccable eye for detail. His clientele includes actors Mickey Rourke, Jeremy Piven, singer John Legend, Dave Diehl of the New York Giants, CBS evening news anchorman Scott Pelley, celebrity chef Todd English, Ryan Serhant from “Million Dollar Listings,” Sonja Morgan from “The Real Housewives of NY” and a host of other affluent people of the U.S. Peyman Umay has been featured in TV shows such as “Design Star,” “The Real Housewives of NY”, “Million Dollar Listings” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

    Upon graduation from Acting for Film at NYFA, he has been in four movies, two short (“Capital Inferno” and “The Cabin”) and two feature movies (“Fairy Tale of New York” and “Ask Uykusu” [Turkish]) all of which are in post production at the moment. His first feature movie is being released on March 17th, the second one on May 19th of 2017.

    February 8, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1371

  • Broadcast Journalism Feb 2017 Highlights

    More than a billion people celebrated the Lunar New Year last week. And New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism alumna Grace Shao brought that story to millions of viewers around the world on the China Global Television Network. (The network was formerly CCTV News, and was re-branded for the new year… solar new year, that is.)
    grace shao
    Back here in the United States, Starla Sampaco has started working at TVW – Washington Public Affairs Network. (That is Washington State, not Washington, DC.) Her first story was about proposed legislation that will greatly increase penalties for distracted driving.

    And while NYFA Broadcast Journalism alumnus Bryanna Reynolds is based in Melbourne, the Seven Network sports production assistant is going to be spending some time in New York. She just covered the Australian Open, and next up will be the Australian Football League season. Bryanna was kind enough to write: “It’s all thanks to what I learned at the Academy. I cannot thank you enough.”

    Bryanna Reynolds

    Last week saw the start of the Spring Semester. Which meant the first camera instruction session for our incoming class of one-year students. This group (starting on the left) came to NYFA from Turkey, New Jersey, Nigeria, Spain, Croatia and Delaware. They are working with a Canon C300, the primary camera we use in the Broadcast Journalism program.

    February 8, 2017 • Broadcast Journalism, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1378

  • Producing Couple Finds Love and Distribution From NYFA Thesis Film

    With students coming from all areas of the world, it’s inevitable that a student will partner up with somebody from an entirely different culture than their own. It’s even possible that the working relationship could extend in personal areas of life beyond the set. At least this was the case with two former students, Rudi and Radhika Womack, who met at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, collaborated on Rudi’s thesis project, and are now married!

    Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 5.11.37 PM

    Rudi came to NYFA from the hills of Cheyenne, Wyoming while Radhika came all the way from New Delhi, India.

    Rudi’s thesis, “Call of the Wolf,” was produced by Radhika, and now, as a much deserving added bonus, the couple’s film was picked up for worldwide rights by Gravitas Ventures.

    Gravitas has set a Feb. 7 VOD/DVD release date for their film, which is about two kidnapped and trapped strangers who must survive the brutal onslaught of winter and are forced to play a deadly game of survival to outsmart their kidnapper — a sniper calling himself “Wolf.”

    “‘Call of The Wolf’ really stood out to us among a sea of submissions,” said Dan Fisher, director of acquisitions for Gravitas. “We really appreciated the quality of the filmmaking and the gradual reveal of the story, and we are excited to release across our multiple platform partners.”

    We spoke to the newly married couple and filmmaking partners before their upcoming release tomorrow.

    Congratulations on having your thesis film picked up by Gravitas! Can you tell us how this film first came about?

    Rudi: I have always wanted to tell a story of survival; of a character who is ripped from their element and forced into a hostile environment. As I developed the story I knew there wouldn’t be a chance of it getting picked up unless the film had some more “traditional” elements. Over seven drafts Call of the Wolf took shape; evolving from a story of pure survival in the wilderness, into a cat-and-mouse game with a man hunting the protagonist.

    How would each of you pitch this film in your own words?

    Rudi: There’s plot and story. The plot is simple: Madman kidnaps two strangers and forces them into the wilderness for a deadly game of survival. But the story, the meat and bones of the film, is all about Lester. He’s a rich kid who has never had responsibility, risk, or any real challenge. Over the course of the film he slowly evolves into a much stronger, self-reliant person.

    Radhika: The film is about survival. It is about overcoming difficulties, rising to the occasion to learning to fight for what is important to you.

    How did you get your thesis film into the hands of Gravitas, your distributor? Were you surprised when they picked up your film for distribution?

    Rudi: We avoided the festival circuit and went straight to distributors with the film. I guess it turned some heads because we had 3 positive responses in the span of a week. Gravitas Ventures was our best choice because of the care and consideration they had towards the integrity of the story. Gravitas Ventures has taken great care of us and I’m very lucky to be working with them.

    Radhika: We were surprised and thrilled when Gravitas Ventures picked up Call of the Wolf for distribution. They have a great line up of films and Call of the Wolf fits right in. We are looking forward to the great things we can do together with them.

    What were some of the challenges of shooting a film on location in the mountains of Wyoming? How did you overcome them?

    Rudi: Wyoming is my home, so I know how unpredictable it can be, especially on the mountain. The weather was really tough for sure. It dropped far below 0 many, many times. But the hardest part for me was the limitations of budget. There were so many things I wanted to do that simply were not possible with the constraints we had. Even simple things like dolly shots were mostly unachievable for us. It also makes it really hard to set up a shot in the snow, because you can’t leave any tracks. You end up walking a long way so the shot is clear. I knew the limitations of budget and equipment were going to hurt us, so very early on I started designing the look of the film around static wide shots. I think the mountain, trees, and snow offered a multitude of opportunities for beautifully framed wide shots. So that’s what we did; we trekked into the trees, set up the camera, and let it roll for a bit. This also helped with the slower pace of the film I was trying to achieve.

    Radhika: The biggest challenge we experienced was the weather. It was very cold and at that temperature and elevation, everyone’s efficiency level goes down. We had planned for it to the best of our ability by scheduling easier scenes at the beginning of the shoot, slower and shorter days than we would normally have if we shot in sunny Los Angeles. Kudos to the cast and crew to have powered through the month and for bringing their A-game on even in such difficult conditions!

    call of wolf

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

    Radhika: Yes. This was Rudi’s thesis film for his MFA in Filmmaking program. We had support and guidance from the teachers at every step of production. There were times we felt they were being too harsh or difficult but in the end it was always for our benefit.

    Where will we be able to see your film?

    Radhika: Just about anywhere that you would see most movies! It will be released on DVD and Blue Ray, and will be available on most major VOD platforms. We’re also hoping to secure a limited release in theaters across Colorado and Wyoming.

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

    Radhika: Rudi and I are currently in principal photography on our next untitled feature film. Additionally I am working on a documentary with an Academy Award nominated director as well as Line Producing a soon-to-be announced Virtual Reality series

    Rudi: We’re currently in production on our next feature film, which is still untitled. It follows the story of a young man who robs a pawnshop to help support his girlfriend. The robbery goes wrong and he barricades himself in a truck stop bathroom, which triggers an intense standoff with the police. Radhika and I also recently made a short film called “Chippy” about a dog who bites a little girl, and the repercussions it has on a single mother and her family. It’s just finishing up its festival run.

    February 6, 2017 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2243

  • NYFA Alumnus David Epstein Lands Role in the Animated Feature Film “The Son of Bigfoot”

    son of bigfootDavid Epstein came to the New York Film Academy from Vancouver to pursue his passion for acting in the heart of the film industry, Los Angeles. “Growing up, I was always very active on the stage, and after my undergraduate in theatre I felt ready to get auditioning for film and TV in Vancouver. After a year and a half, I didn’t book a thing! I figured it was because I had no idea what I was doing when it came to acting for a camera, so I started looking into programs,” said Epstein. “New York Film Academy seemed like the most hands-on school I could find. I thought, ‘I could wait it out and audition in Vancouver for another two years with nothing to show for, or enroll at NYFA. Not only would I get to complete a Master’s Degree, but I would also gain the hands-on film experience day in, and day out.’”

    And right after graduation he landed a role in the animated feature “The Son of Bigfoot” directed by Jeremy Degruson and Ben Stassen.

    Congrats on getting the part. How did your role in “The Son of Bigfoot” come about?

    Epstein: I was actually camping in Yosemite Valley for the weekend with no wifi or cell phone service. We were about to go on a hike for the day when we stopped off in a lodge. I guess we hit a cell phone spot and my phone just started blowing up. Text messages and phone calls galore from my mom, brother, and agent all trying to get a hold of me. When I called them and, they told me that I booked this part in an animated feature – a project that I had zero recollection of ever auditioning for. Weeks earlier, I had just gotten my reel from school and was showing it off to a friend of mine. Fast forward a couple of months and her dad is directing this project called “Son of Bigfoot.” I don’t know the details, but apparently one of the other actors had to drop out and they needed to fill the roll very quickly. He listened to my reel and decided to give me a shot. It was one of those “right place, right time moments.”

    Please tell us about your experience working on this project. What did your learn as an actor?

    Epstein: While I had spent many hours working in the NYFA booth, this was my first time acting in a proper animated film, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I remember flipping furiously through my voice over textbook leading up to the shoot, giving myself a quick refresher before going into the studio… ironically the writer was actually playing one of the leads in the film. The first thing I thought when I got there was: “Where’s that smell of bacon coming from?” Of course, I followed it and saw walls just covered in classic cartoon cells and a huge trophy case filled with Emmys. It was very surreal. I got the chance to meet some of the other cast members and we were all called in one by one into our recording sessions. None of the animation was done at the time of the recording, so we didn’t have to worry about matching the characters’ lip flaps, which was nice, but that said, there wasn’t a whole lot to work off of, either. It was a really steep learning curve trying to figure out how to create the world without any other actor to work off of and no real picture of what the scene would look like. That said, it was a pretty freeing experience too, in that there wasn’t really a wrong answer. Only limit was imagination.

    One of my biggest surprises about the experience was how quickly everything moved. It was like a machine gun session in there. I was given my script, asked to give a few reads of each line and we would move on. Occasionally, there was a redirection, but I was in and out of the studio within an hour. It was crazy!

    david epstein

    Were there any challenges working on this project?

    Epstein: The biggest challenge working on the project was not being able to really prepare. I wasn’t given my script until the day, so I was really going in blind. There was a small character description that was sent to me in advance, but everything was really explained to me on the day. Also, there was no animation at the time, so to this day I still have no idea what my character even looks like. The director just said “alright give me the voice you were thinking of doing,” and I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. I guess it worked because we just kind of went with it. I would have loved the opportunity to play a bit more and really find my character, but everything moved so fast. Just trusted my gut and hoped for the best.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    Epstein: Next week I start shooting for my role in the show “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.” I am also excited to collaborate with my friend/coach Carol Stanzione, Elliot Herman and NYFA alumnus Kevin Chua in an upcoming animated series called “Lei Gong: Chronicles of the Sword.”

    Until then, I have been fortunate enough to get a gig hosting a game show for Hyundai at Auto Shows around the states. It has been such a great experience getting to travel around the country and work a job that is creative in nature.

    david epstein

    Who do you believe will get the most out of the NYFA program? 

    Epstein: I think anyone with a true passion and the desire to learn will get the most out of the program. There are so many great opportunities and teachers, that if you care to work, you can learn so much! That said, you’re only going to get what you put into the program. It’s one thing to be in class and to do your assigned work, but it’s the work you do outside of the curriculum that is really special. NYFA’s consult program lets you meet with any of your teachers outside of class time. It’s a private coaching session with industry professionals. I don’t know many other places that offer that.

    What, if any, do you think are the biggest obstacles for new actors in Hollywood?

    Epstein: I think the toughest thing about Hollywood is being seen. You could be doing great work, but it’s getting the right people to see your work that is the real challenge. Coming to LA you hear it over and over again, “there’s so much competition!” At first, I took that to mean that I would be sitting in an audition room with 50 David Epsteins that look just like me. The truth is, the competition is really getting into the door. A good part can get 3000+ submissions. When a casting director has three hours to see 90 actors, why are they going to pick your headshot over anyone else’s? You hear it all the time: This business is all about networking. It’s figuring out the creative ways that you can get on these casting directors’ radars and then about winning them over so they bring you back again and again.

    If anyone has come to LA to become rich as an actor, they could have a rude awakening. It is a super competitive job and while the payday can be sweet, work can definitely be sparse (especially at the beginning). I have often found myself comparing my lifestyle to my doctor and lawyer friends. It can be very disheartening to hear about the condos they are buying or the cars they drive, but it has begged me to check in with my passions. While my car and apartment are far from fancy, I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world.

    February 3, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3353

  • From Football to Acting for Film

    Kevin Gordon is no stranger to the spotlight. Known in the football world as “Flash” Gordon, Kevin Gordon decided to make the switch from sports to school in 2016, after six years as a professional Australian National Rugby League (NRL) player for the Gold Coast Titans.

    kevin gordon

    A self-confessed Will Smith fan, Kevin’s online videos such as “Magic Carpet” along with his impersonations of characters such as William Wallace (“Braveheart”) and Khal Drogo (“Game of Thrones”) generated a social media buzz that further fueled his desire to pursue acting.

    Auditioning for the Acting for Film at New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast, Kevin’s humble charm and strong on-camera look won over the interview panel, and he secured himself a place on the course to study at the Los Angeles campus.

    “NYFA was good for me ’cause I didn’t know anything about acting… and NYFA was really welcoming for students,” Kevin says.

    Since graduating, Kevin has been fortunate to secure an OPT Visa, which will allow him to work in the US throughout 2017.

    kevin g

    “I started my OPT in October last year, and had a busy two months before the Christmas break,” he says. “I did a lot of auditions, and got into a few student films and other shows that are going to be online later in the year.”

    Gordon credits NYFA for giving him “the confidence to go and audition for any role, whether it’s in LA or anywhere in the world.”

    Kevin’s big news for 2017 is his role in an upcoming Chinese feature film – “it was my first time being on a professional set and it felt good. It’s going to be another big year for me. I’m going to continue improving myself and make some big movies!”

    January 31, 2017 • Entertainment Australia, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1812

  • NYFA Doc Grads Work on Ryan Gosling GQ Video

    With a record number of Academy Award nominations, “La La Land” is certainly the talk-of-the-town. Recently, GQ provided a behind the scenes with “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling at a photo shoot at the Gellért Thermal Bath in Budapest.


    Two New York Film Academy Documentary alumni had their hand in the video, as both Susi Dollnig and Nina Thomas work at the post-production company House of Trim, which provided the post-production for the video. Dollnig was the Colorist and Thomas was the Assistant Editor on this specific video.

    House of Trim is a boutique post-production facility located in the heart of NYC. The team consists of a collective of talented editors, motion graphics artists and color graders who specialize in feature films, commercial campaigns, documentaries and branded content. Dollnig has been working at the company for about four years as a Colorist, and Thomas joined the company in October 2015 as an Assistant Editor, and recently started taking on editing jobs as well.

    Both Dollnig and Thomas often does post-production work for GQ Magazine and for the Condé Nast group.

    January 26, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1410

  • NYFA NYC Spring 2016 Filmmaking Commencement and Final Screenings

    Last week, the New York Film Academy New York campus held the Spring 2016 Filmmaking Commencement and Final Screenings. The two-day event held an opening reception for students, friends and family, and concluded with students’ thesis film screenings at the campus’ brand new theater at 17 Battery Place.

    filmmaking grad

    “The thesis films made by the Spring 2016 graduating students were very impressive,” said NYFA Filmmaking Chair, Claude Kerven. “Across the board, the quality and the effort made was first rate. It’s remarkable to see how much the students have grown in just one year. The students, along with their instructors, should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

    Congratulations to all of our filmmaking graduates! Check out the full gallery of photos from the graduation ceremonies on NYFA’s Facebook Page!

    Below are the films that screened over the two-day graduation.

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    spring 2016 films

     

    January 25, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 828

  • NYFA Alumnus Jean de Meuron’s “La Femme et le TGV” Nominated for Academy Award

    la femme et la tgvBack in 2009, the New York Film Academy offered a Brett Ratner Tuition Grant, which was awarded to a passionate young filmmaker from Switzerland, Jean de Meuron. While at NYFA, de Meuron got a full scope of the movie-making landscape, studying filmmaking, screenwriting, and cinematography at both the New York and Los Angeles campuses.

    Now residing in Los Angeles, de Meuron was recently Executive Producer on the short film “La femme et le TGV,” directed by Timo von Gunten and starring César Award nominee Jane Birkin. The short film, which was inspired by true events, was nominated for a 2016 Academy Award in the Best Live Action Short Category!

    We had a chance to speak to our former student before his big day at the Academy Awards this upcoming Feb. 26th, 2017.

    Congratulations on your film’s Academy Award nomination! In your own words, what is “La femme et le TGV” about?

    “La femme et le TGV” is a charming tale about a lonely woman who, through poetic and thoughtful letters, connects and builds a close relationship with a TGV train driver that passes her house at 190 mph every single day. As the two anonymous souls share their worlds by writing to each other, one fateful day the train does not pass her house, leading her to embark on a journey away from the place she calls home in search of that lost connection.

    How did this film come about and how did you become involved with the project?

    Our director, Timo von Gunten, read this incredible true story in a Swiss tabloid about a woman who’s been waving at the passing TGV train for many years from her balcony. He immediately fell in love with the whimsical nature and tone of this true story: A woman and a man writing letters to one another without ever meeting in person — or at least for the first couple of interactions. A huge inspiration for Timo has always been “Amélie” — and I think this is quite apparent in his work, as far as the visuals and camera blocking are concerned. However, Timo has such a strong style and visual sense on his own, so he puts his own stamp as a director, infused with elements from the works of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson.

    I met Timo while I was a Jury Member at the Basel Gässli Film Festival, where I saw his short film that he had directed. I was immensely impressed with his visual flair, mise-en-scènesensitivity with which he directed actors and staged scenes, as well as the color palette, soundtrack and edit. There was a filmmaker at work, who I considered a true artist that caught my attention. During the festival, I approached him, complementing his work and saying that I would like to work with him very much. The rest, so they say, is history.

    How did you attach Jane Birkin to the project? And what was it like to work with her?

    Timo tells this story best, so I extend the courtesy of having him share his thoughts here, as he as the director, worked most closely with her:

    “First of all, I had to write a screenplay that was emotional, touching. I have a very good friend, a casting director and acting coach in London, who helped me to pass on the script to Jane’s agent. What I didn’t know, of course, and I was quite lucky — I have to admit that — the topic of solitude resonates so much with her. She just fell in love with the story. She called me up and said wants to do it. However, the funny thing was, first she said, “I want to do it, but I can’t because I’m not supposed to ride bicycles anymore.” And as you know, the film has loads of biking scenes… Working with Jane was quite an extraordinary experience because she has this inner beauty still kept alive. She’s quite fragile but very, very truthful. That’s what’s really great about her.” — from Timo von Gunten’s interview with ScreenPicks (Alfonso Espina) – Interview: Timo von Gunten Talks About ‘La Femme et le TGV’

    I would add that Jane has this incredible generosity and gentle kindness that I witnessed while we were attending the Locarno Film Festival, where she was awarded the Golden Leopard for her Life Achievement.

    Can you tell us how you found out about NYFA and the Brett Ratner Tuition Grant?

    While I was a student at the New York Film Academy, NYFA founder Jerry Sherlock, who had always been very supportive of me, suggested that I should apply for the Brett Ratner Tuition Grant — as I had done several short films during my studies that did the festival circuit. While applying, I put all of my passion and dedication into my application materials, meaning I went above and beyond by presenting a strong package. When I was awarded the Brett Ratner Tuition Grant I was very proud, as Brett’s impressive career has inspired me very much and continues to do so. His journey from having Steven Spielberg support his student short film, “Whatever Happened to Mason Reese” (1990), to becoming a Hollywood movie mogul (co-financing the slate of Warner Bros. with his company RatPac) is immensely awe-inspiring.

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

    Certainly. I always liked the New York Film Academy’s philosophy and educational approach of “learning by doing.” The practical experience enabled me to gain a very sophisticated understanding of physical production, and all its challenges that come with it. As my favorite filmmaker of all time, Steven Spielberg, once noted, “Filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.” That being said, with director Timo von Gunten and my producing partners Giacun Caduff and Bela Böke, we had a wonderful synergy of complementing components, as we each could rely on each other’s strengths and interests.

    Jean (on the right) attending the Golden Globes

    Jean (on the right) attending the Golden Globes

    What has been the reaction of your team, knowing you have a one in five chance of winning an Academy Award for this short?

    I think every filmmaker aspires for his or her work to be critically acclaimed — some more than others of course — but in the end, storytelling is also entertainment, and as such we thrive to speak to, emotionally engage and captivate an audience. The reaction has obviously been overwhelming, however, we won’t define the success of our film solely on awards, but also on how the story resonates with our audience and how we are able to touch and move people. It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be considered for Academy Award consideration and we are infinitely grateful.

    Why do you feel your film deserves to win the Academy Award? What makes it so unique?

    Tough question. I think every film that has been nominated is there for a reason and deserving of such an accomplishment. What makes “La femme et le TGV” unique — at least as far as I am concerned — is its fairytale element that makes this story not only very charming and uplifting, but also relevant and meaningful. Our story, more than ever, is timeless because of the fact that although developed between written letters, most people of several generations (young and adult) can relate to our protagonist’s journey where, in the digital realm of things, loneliness and longing for something, are huge components of our daily lives.

    Where would we be able to see this film?

    “La femme et le TGV” is currently available on iTunes.

    Are you currently working on any other projects you’d like to discuss?

    Yes, I am currently developing a feature film with Timo and my producing partner Chady Eli Mattar, who, like myself, worked for prolific and immensely gifted producer Scott Rudin — a true industry icon. The film is called “The Man Who Sold The Eiffel Tower” and tells the true and epic tale of a charismatic con-artist, Victor Lustig, whose journey culminates in pulling off the biggest scam in the history of mankind — selling the Eiffel Tower — ensuing in a manhunt across the world that threatens to tear apart his beloved family.

    January 24, 2017 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2841