Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • NYFA Grad’s “4 Quarters of Silence” Doc to Premiere at ReelAbilities Film Festival

    4 quarters of silenceUnder his label of Broadway Productions, New York Film Academy Filmmaking alumnus Cody Broadway will be premiering his new documentary short film, “4 Quarters of Silence,” at the ReelAbilities Film Festival in New York City, which takes place March 2-8 2017. The ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the country dedicated to presenting films made by and about people with different disabilities whether physical, developmental or psychological.

    “4 Quarters of Silence” chronicles the day-to-day lives of student athletes enrolled at the Texas School for the Deaf. The school is located in the heart of Texas, Austin which is also home to one of the largest deaf communities in the nation. This compelling story highlights the raw emotion and unique challenges faced by players, parents and coaches as they take part in one of the biggest sports in Texas, high school football. From practice to the Friday Night Lights, the shear grit and faith that embodies these players is showcased in striking form.

    “I’m honored and excited that the film has gotten great reviews and I want to thank Cody and his team for the great work they’ve done,” said Texas School of the Deaf, Head Football coach, John Moore Jr.

    “Our football team is so proud to be featured in this film, it is a wonderful showcase of what deaf people can do,” added The Texas School for The Deaf.

    cody broadway

    Mr. Broadway has received numerous awards and accolades for his work in short films and television. His web series, “I Have a Voice” was awarded the prestigious Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Jury Prize and also the Best International Web Series Short from the Wendy’s.

    “Learning from these athletes has been an eye opening experience for me,” says Broadway. “As a filmmaker I sought to gain a greater understanding of their day-to-day lives, but what I was able to capture was a story that transcends age, ability and personal background. It has been my honor to root for this team both on and off the field.”

    January 19, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1305

  • NYFA Alumna Produces Six Feature Films in Three Years

    Producing six features in three years since graduating from film school sounds impossible. However, New York Film Academy graduate, Mariietta Volynska, proved that you can do it as long as you have the true desire to set that goal and accomplish it.

    Her first notable break into the industry was when she won the Best Commercial at the Tribeca Festival with her NYFA thesis project, an American Express Spec Commercial.

    Since graduating in 2013 she has produced numerous shorts, music videos, commercials and several feature films including “El Freeman” directed by Eljazz Rakhimbekov and Antonio Chavez Trejo, “Summer of 8” and “Still Life” directed by Ryan Schwartz, “Bornless Ones” directed by Alexander Babaev, starring Michael Johnston, and most recently the independent thriller “Culture of Fear” starring Malcolm McDowell, Steven Bauer, Edoardo Costa and Kayla Tabish.

    We recently spoke with Mariietta Volynska and asked her what she thought helps her start and keep the ball rolling on so many projects.

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    1% talent and 99% hard work will get you there. The competition is huge, pure talent is not enough. Don’t be lazy.” Every day Volynska wakes up at 6am and goes to bed around midnight. This schedule allows her to have more working hours.

    Experience. “You learn while you are doing and NYFA provides you with all of the opportunities to get solid experience. Be on set while in school as much as you can, do not avoid participating in a project, because there is only a PA position left or no budget. Work for free. Work as a PA. Just be on set, observe! Get valuable, strong experience.” Before producing her first feature Volynska already had about 30 shorts under her belt.

    Reputation. “Start building your reputation from the first day of classes. You have to click together with your peers. You see who you will work with in the future.” Half of Volynska’s crew are NYFA alumni. They help each other. They recommend each other and always try to get hired as a team. But it’s not only the New York Film Academy that they have in common; all of them are hardworking, trustworthy, and passionate.

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    Broad knowledge. “I’m very happy that I got my BFA in Filmmaking,” said Volynska. “During this program I studied every aspect of filmmaking. I know the equipment and how to use the equipment. I know how to work with actors. I know editing and I know the responsibilities of each crew position on set. All of this knowledge helps me tremendously in line producing and saves a lot of time on all stages of production.”

    Be prepared. If you take a look in the trunk of Volynska’s car you will find everything that could possibly be missed or forgotten on set. Her experience has helped her build a kit, so that no production will be stopped and no set will ever be missing the tools needed to keep working.

    And of course communications. “As a producer you have to know how to deal with every personality to make it work. You need to know how to make your crew a team.”

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    “In another life I probably would be a car racer,” said Volynska with a smile on her face. “But in this one I am the producer and I love every moment of producing, every single problem, every hour I didn’t sleep — everything!”

    Mariietta Volynska goes far and beyond with her passion of being a line producer. As a true problem solver she recently launched a new locations website, which certainly looks to be an asset for many people in the industry. All locations have special rates for students and independent filmmakers.

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    NYFA would like to thank Mariietta Volynska for sharing her experience and wish her luck with the launch of her new website. We hope to see more of her movies on screen very soon.

    January 19, 2017 • Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2233

  • NYFA Acting Grad Plays Boston Marathon Bomber in “Patriots Day”

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    photo by Jeff Berlin

    Perhaps the most hyped film to open this weekend is Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg. The film is based on accounts from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing search for the Tsarnaev brothers. The New York Film Academy is thrilled to recognize Acting for Film alumnus Themo Melikidze, who plays the role of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers responsible for the bombings.

    In addition to Boston native Mark Wahlberg, Melikidze acts alongside former NYFA guest speakers J.K. Simmons and Michelle Monaghan, as well as John Goodman and Kevin Bacon.

    His climb to acting in a major motion picture and the upcoming FOX TV series “24: Legacy” certainly wasn’t handed to him. After graduating from NYFA, Melikidze attained his OPT status and worked for a year with an Off-Broadway show (“The LiveInTheater”) in NYC. After that, he attained the O1 Artist Visa and moved to Los Angeles to further pursue acting for film and TV.

    “The first months [in LA] were probably the hardest times in my life, since I had no solid place to stay and had no car,” recalled Melikidze. “I was using my bicycle for four hours a day to get to any type of audition. I had one headshot and a few videos posted on LA Casting. One day a talent coordinator contacted me trough the website, stating that the Park Noack Agency wanted to meet with me. Later that week I sat down with the agency and, after a few auditions, I was signed for theatrical and commercial representation.”

    Two weeks later his agency gave him a call to audition for “Patriots Day.” After a self-tape and multiple callbacks, he was invited for the “director’s callback” with Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg.

    That audition completely changed his life, as two weeks after the “director’s callback,” he got the call from his agent that they wanted him for the role of Tamerlan.

    “A majority of young acting students take a course, only skimming the surface of acting, but few have the patience and dedication to hang in for the long haul as Themo has,” said Melikidze’s Acting for Film Instructor at NYFA, Paul Warner. “His passion for the craft, intelligence, and meticulousness in embracing all of its complexities made it clear then, that if Themo was given professional opportunities, that he would excel.”

    Melikidze’s role put him in the difficult situation of portraying a wanted terrorist, who was shot three days after the horrific bombings. While not easy to wrap his mind around the character, Melikidze stepped up to the challenge, adding, “The most challenging thing was certainly to get inside the head of this individual. Knowing his background of having a family, wife, little kid, a brother and friends, and still be able to commit such a horrible act is unthinkable. But I committed myself 100% to the character and really dove into his state of mind, by doing all the research that I could do on the web, watching horrible Jihadi videos that he used to watch, and also having to train with his boxing coach John Allen, who gave me incredible insight to his personal life and his characteristics. But, at the end of the day, what really drove me to portray this character was the absolute hate, disgust and anger that I had for this horrible individual. “

    Be sure to check him out in “Patriots Day,” which is out in US theaters Friday, Jan. 13!

    January 12, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2286

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Grad’s “Mannequin” Wins Award at Reel Horror Film Fest

    A self-proclaimed horror film buff, New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast alumnus Zach-McCoy Davies’ latest short film “Mannequin” recently won an award at the Reel Horror Film Festival held at Movie World on the Gold Coast. The Reel Horror Film Festival is a part of Warner Bros. Movie World Theme Park’s Fright Nights, which is held during the Halloween season.

    “Mannequin” has also screened at the Princeton Student Film Festival, as well as Willoughby Shorts and Screen It Film Fest in Australia.

    Zach Davies

    His short horror film focuses on a lonely costume designer working within a dark theatre who begins hearing bumps in the night upon the arrival of a bubble-wrapped mannequin.

    “NYFA prepared me for the reality of the business. It is hard work, you will be pushed aside more often than not but it’s how you bounce back that shows whether you can make it in the industry,”said Davies on his experience as a student at NYFA Australia.

    Overall, Davies says he enjoyed the atmosphere of being on the backlot and seeing other films being produced. “The lecturers also made the classes engaging, and being able to direct/write/edit your own short film with cinema grade equipment was a massive plus,” added Davies.

    His advice to aspiring filmmakers is that “no matter what the circumstance, the struggle will always pay off in the end…if you keep pushing forward.”

    Davies has recently started his own video production company servicing small businesses and clients on the Gold Coast, from weddings to corporate videos. Keep an eye out for his next short horror film, which is currently in the works.

    January 11, 2017 • Entertainment Australia, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1451

  • NYFA Animation Alumna Works on FX for “Suicide Squad” and “Fantastic Beasts”

    alex lorussoSince graduating from the Animation School at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, Alexandra LoRusso has worked on the visual FX for major Hollywood movies like “Suicide Squad,” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” She currently works for the VFX company MPC Montreal, where she is now working on two other films.

    While the animation alumna has admitted she’s extremely busy with her work, she took the time out to answer a few questions about her career in FX.

    Which film would you say is the reason you chose this profession?

    It’s hard to pick just one. I will always remember the first movie I saw and it was also my first Disney movie. “Dumbo” inspired me to want to work in the world of Animation/VFX, and in films in general.

    Which area of 3D animation and VFX has been your focus since graduating?

    Since completing the 1 Year Animation program, my focus has been in Effects Animation.

    Which films or projects most proud of, and why?

    Out of all the films I’ve worked on so far, I think I would have to say that I’m most proud of the work I did on “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

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    still from “Suicide Squad”

    If you take a look at this still from “Suicide Squad,” I was tasked to do all the tracer hits, so all the sparks/debris/smoke.

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    still from “Fantastic Beasts”

    For the still from the final trailer of “Fantastic Beasts,” I was tasked to break the crate when it hit the Occamy, and added in splinters.

    When you’re working on the FX for a film, who are you typically collaborating with?

    I collaborate the most with my lead/leads and other FX artists on the film. We do also have daily review sessions with our FX Supervisors who give us feedback on the shot/shots we are working on.

    Would you say your experience at NYFA’s Animation School was useful in terms of the work you’re currently doing?

    The tools I learned while at NYFA were a great introduction to what I’m currently doing.

    Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?

    Since finishing up on “Fantastic Beasts,” I’ve gone on to work on two other films, which I can’t really say anything about at the moment.

    January 11, 2017 • 3D Animation, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1523

  • Broadcast Journalism Alumni Working with CBS News, Vice Media, TVW and More

    The new term is well underway, and the incoming Spring Broadcast Journalism class will soon be here. Before we look to the future, we thought we’d highlight more of our successful Broadcast Journalism alumni.

    NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Nour Idriss is still working at CBS News, but now she has two jobs… She continues to be part of the production team for The CBS Evening News Weekend Edition.

    “I produce and edit VO’s and teases, and some packages by myself. I also oversee the headlines and help with research and material gathering for other producers.” During the week, she is over on the digital side at CBS.com as a freelance Associate Producer for video. “Basically I publish CBS content on the web, using a variety of software.”

    This is the incredible story she did as a NYFA student that launched her career.

    Regular readers will recall some of the stories we featured when Yasmine Muffoletto was a NYFA student. After graduation back in May, she returned to France and a job at Vice Media. Here is the latest from her…

    “I recently joined the VICELAND production team and am no longer with Vice Digital. I also want to thank you once again for everything you taught me. I would not be at Vice anymore if I didn’t know how to edit or even write a script. Those long hours in the edit room actually paid off.”

    We heard from Summer Session grad Starla Sampaco as well.

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    Starla Sampaco

    “I just wrapped up an internship at KING 5 (Seattle’s NBC affiliate station) and am about to move to Olympia, Washington for a full-time internship at TVW (Washington state’s version of C-SPAN) during the legislative session. My internship will require me to do on-air reporting, write scripts and interview legislators. I would not have had the skills necessary for this role if it weren’t for NYFA.”

    Finally, last week we featured Francielle Maines’ marvelous “summer in the city” story, with one of the most remarkable “stand-ups” I have ever seen. (That’s a street dancer flying over Francielle in City Hall Park in New York City.)

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    Francielle Maines

    Well, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Francielle was there as part of a production team. (Who do you think shot the video?) That team included Barbara Makarevich, who for two years hosted a TV talk show in her hometown of Moscow. Barbara has now moved to another famously cold city — Chicago — where she is working on a Masters Degree in Journalism at DePaul University.

    Barbara Makarevich

    Barbara Makarevich

    Francielle wrote: “Had a great time studying at the NYFA. This was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned a lot! Remember that hot day, Barbara?” Who responded:”Sure, I don’t forget things like this. You really did a great job, and I was glad to be a part of your team!”

    January 10, 2017 • Broadcast Journalism, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 700

  • NYFA Grad’s “Shoot” Premieres at Arab Cinema Lab

    shootSaudi director and New York Film Academy alumnus Aymen Khoja recently screened his soccer-themed film “Shoot” at the inaugural edition of the Arab Cinema Lab at DIFF. What makes the story unique is the fact that the main character is from Saudi Arabia. The privately-financed production is Saudi Arabia’s fourth-ever feature-length film.

    Egyptian actor El-Masry, best known internationally for his roles in “Rosewater” and “The Night Manager,” stars as a young Saudi expat in Los Angeles with dreams of pursuing a soccer career in the city against the wishes of his traditional father. The film also includes actors Patrick Fabian, Ayman Samman and US soccer star Bryan Jordan.

    “I’ve always loved soccer, and we all know there aren’t many movies that focus on soccer,” said Khoja. “So, I decided to challenge myself and write one, and I told myself it had to be low budget.”

    “As we all know movies can bring the world together, so I was really encouraged to write the story and pushed myself to make it happen,” added Khoja. “We don’t typically see a lot of movies that speak to Arabs in America.”

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    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles alumnus wrote, produced and directed the film under the auspices of his Santa Monica and Jeddah-based Khoja Bros label.

    “NYFA provided me with a lot of knowledge,” said Khoja. “Not only how to direct a movie, but also how to write, how to produce, and how to use all the other elements: music, sound, color, production design, etc. NYFA has great staff. Without their help I wouldn’t be able to make the movie.”

    Khoja is now developing a second film that will also marry both US and Arab cultures — a thriller about the kidnapping of a young Saudi student by a ruthless gangster.

    “We need more Saudi filmmakers to make feature films,” says Khoja. “They need to be brave to make the decision and have the commitment. I care about telling stories and helping in developing our cinema industry.”

    His aims for “Shoot” to have a limited theatrical release worldwide before online streaming platforms and TV.

    January 9, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1363

  • MFA Cinematography Grad Wraps As Assistant to Director of Photography on “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

    We’ve had many instances of students not only collaborating with their peers, but also students and alumni reconnecting and working with their former instructors. As many of the New York Film Academy instructors are working professionals outside of the classroom, Cinematography School alumnus Jeremy Harris was able to capitalize on this through his relationship with Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond.

    Richmond, who has an extensive career as a professional cinematographer, was recently brought on board as Director of Photography for the upcoming Twentieth Century Fox sequel, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” The film, which stars Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott and Jason Drucker, revolves around the character of Greg (played by Drucker), who convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention.

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    Jeremy Harris with Tony Richmond on set of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

    “It was great having Jeremy on set with me on ‘Wimpy Kid “The Long Haul,'” said Richmond. “I am convinced, having seen Jeremy work on the set, that he is now well on his way to a long and successful career as a cinematographer.”

    As Assistant to the Director of Photography, Harris was able to see first-hand the working relationship between the Director and the Director of Photography. He was able to work with Richmond’s three camera crews and the three Alexa cameras, as well as two sets of old Taylor Hopson Cooke Speed Pancro Lenses, which were used from the 1950’s. Even more exciting for the young cinematographer, he had access to multiple techno cranes and stabilized heads.

    diary of wimpy kid

    Some other valuable experiences that Richmond noted for Harris were him being able to be in the DIT tent with not only Richmond, but also his Digital Imaging Technician — to see how the team was using the Technicolor LUT and the color and contrast decisions they were making. He gained working experience with both the electrical and grip crews as well as the rigging crews. Harris also worked with both the 2nd Unit and Stunt Unit of the film.

    “I think the most exciting and fulfilling part of this endeavor was just waking up knowing that every day I would get a chance to not only learn, but be around some of the most lovely, hard-working people I’ve ever met, as well as just having quality time with Tony,” said Harris. “NYFA helped me a lot when it comes to understanding each aspect of being a crew member, as well as being a DP. I didn’t always feel like a fish out of water on set.”

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    As for where this position could lead him in the future, Harris says he still can’t quite put a finger on the exact direction, adding, “I think that’s a good thing. I do know that anything, any opportunity that comes my way from now on, I feel as though I am definitely more prepared, more skillful, clever, and creative.”

    This role also allowed Harris to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Union, which supports Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts. Being a member of the IATSE gives Harris a huge leg up in his career pursuits.

    “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is currently in post-production and will be in theaters May 19, 2017.

    January 6, 2017 • Cinematography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1925

  • Broadcast Journalism Grads Land Jobs at “Squawk Box,” “Record TV,” “Globo,” & “KION”

    cameron costaA number of Broadcast Journalism graduates from the New York Film Academy got in touch with Chair Bill Einreinhofer over the holidays, to inform him of some of the success they’ve achieved in 2016. Below are just a few of the graduates who have gone on to begin their careers in the industry.

    Cameron Costa started a new job just days before she graduated from the September 12-week Evening Broadcast Journalism Workshop. Costa’s hard work got her a job on the CNBC show Squawk Box. She reports for work 4:30 am weekday mornings at the NASDAQ Stock Exchange here in Manhattan, and helps produce the leading cable business news morning program in the United States. In fact, the program is seen globally as well on CNBC International. Congratulations, Cameron!

    Francielle Maines, a Summer Session graduate from Brazil, is now working a video editor at Record TV in her home town of Santa Catarina. She has been assigned to a wide range of projects, and we have no doubt she is doing remarkable work. We will always remember her for the fabulous story she did on a sultry August afternoon about dancers in City Hall Park, not far from NYFA’s Battery Place campus. (Don’t miss her remarkable stand-up, at :44 into the story.)

    Francielle Mianes
    Laura Isern is also from Brazil. She attended the September 2016 4-week Broadcast Journalism workshop. Just before the Christmas holiday, she told me that she was hired as a Journalism Intern at media giant Globo. (Globo dominates the media scene in Brazil, across print, broadcast, cable and digital media platforms.) “During my interview, it was clear that my experience at NYFA was the one thing they liked the most about my curriculum,” said Isern. “I’ll be writing articles, but mainly, I’ll be practicing my audiovisual skills, producing content for their social networks.”

     Laura Isern

    The first class Einreinhofer taught at NYFA when he became the Chair of the Broadcast Journalism department was the 12-week Evening course, and one of the graduates from that first class was Linda Zhang. Born in China, she moved to New York as a teenager. Bilingual and bi-cultural, she is a talented reporter. Last year she joined the news staff of KION in Salinas, California. While the Central Coast is generally considered a small TV market, Linda is right next door to Los Angeles, the #2 market in the country.

    Congratulations to all of our graduates! We wish them much success as they continue represent the Academy all over the world.

    January 3, 2017 • Broadcast Journalism, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1312

  • Child Dance Sensation Takes Up Acting for Film at NYFA

    Kevin Tellez began having an interest in dance when he was four years old, but his talent was far beyond your average four-year old’s little shimmy. By the time he was seven years old he won first place at The World Latin Dance Cup.

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    Kevin Tellez with Gloria and Emilio Estefan

    “His father loves music, but I think that his talent comes from his hard work because he loves acting and dancing more than anything.”

    Kevin has made appearances on several TV shows, including Ellen where he was able to show off his skills to the host, who is known for her love of dancing. He is now in Gloria Estefan’s Broadway show “On Your Feet,” where he has performed for over a year as the young Emilio Estefan.

    Now at the age of 11, Tellez has taken up the 12-Week Kids Acting for Film Weekend program at the New York Film Academy.

    “Before NYFA we tried other programs where he didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t enjoy it,” said Tellez’s mother, Anny Tellez. “At NYFA, he is learning and doing what he really loves. We definitely have seen improvement and growth in his acting.”

    Like most parents with children in show business, Tellez’s parents were nervous about letting their son travel around the world and performing on Broadway. “Our main concern was school,” said Mrs. Tellez. “We thought it was going to be too much for him; going to school like everyone else and then going to Broadway. Luckily, we have been able to manage the acting and dancing career as well as school. He is a very responsible child and he has amazing grades in school. My husband and I didn’t want him to be home schooled. Kevin is the type of child that enjoys being around his peers and we try to keep his life as normal as possible.”

    Kevin dreams to some day be an actor in Hollywood and hopes he will inspire other kids to follow their dreams.

    “As a parent I would say that our job is to support our children in whatever it is that they want to do,” said Mrs. Tellez. “I never in my life thought that my son would be on Broadway and have a career in entertainment at such a young age. Sometimes it’s not easy to make time for everything that as parents we have to do, but we always want our children to be happy and will do the impossible for them — and some way or another we manage to do it. At the end of the day all of the sacrifices that we make are so worth it.”

    January 2, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 756