Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • MFA Acting Grad’s Award-Winning “Treintañera”

    tamara bunkerMFA Acting for Film alumna Tamara Bunker wrote, co-produced with NYFA alumna Adrenia Kemp, and acted in her New York Film Academy thesis film, “Treintañera.” Since completing the film, “Treintañera” has screened at several film festivals, having been crowned Best Comedy at the Official Latino Short Film Festival 2016, Best Student Film at the Los Angeles Movie Awards 2016, and Award of Merit Special Mention at the Latin/Hispanic – Best Shorts Competition. The film most recently screened at the Studio City Film Festival 2016.

    “I learned most of what I know about film at NYFA, in the classrooms, on set with filmmaking students, and doing production workshops,” said Bunker. “I had some amazing teachers who helped me find my voice as a writer and as an actress. They made me believe in my ideas; they supported them and helped me improve them.”

    The film is a short comedy about a young Mexican-American woman who lives with her Mexican Abuela (grandmother). She is torn between love and her career; she is soon to turn thirty, and is beginning to believe that there is something wrong with her because she hasn’t found a man she can relate to. She is persuaded by her Abuela to have a quinceañera party on her 30th birthday to help her find the man of her dreams – as both her grandmother and mother had done. On the same day, she gets offered her dream job.

    treinteraThe most challenging aspect of the production for Bunker was writing a relatable story that could be told in nine minutes, and creating empathetic characters.

    “I wanted to write about something I understood — women,” said Bunker in regards to writing the screenplay. “I was inspired by women in general. I was also inspired by what it means to be a young woman today — the social pressures that still exist, the barriers, the problems women have to face in order to reach their goals. I have friends who want to get married and have children, and some who don’t. I wanted to show that women have the choice to do whatever they want, and be whatever they want to be. All paths have to be acceptable and possible.”

    tamara bunker

    Bunker also wanted to express the importance of the family in Mexico, and the Mexican traditions. “I wanted to tell a funny story that would embrace these aspects of Mexican life, and would show how important they are both in Mexico as well as in many parts of the US,” she added. “The quinceañera party seemed to be a perfect setting to illustrate these varying facets.”

    Bunker is currently working on the feature of “Treintañera,” writing a horror web series, and directing a NYFA acting thesis film this month.

    November 3, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1756

  • NYFA Grad Kalpana Malviya’s “Made in America” to Air on Zee TV

    Kalpana Malviya is a New York Film Academy graduate who’s been blazing a trail in new television programing. Her new show, “Made in America,” is the first English language reality TV program designed for South East Asians to be shot in Hollywood. But she’s not content in just creating new programing, she’s also determined to bring the next generation of content makers with her.

    kalpana

    “Somebody helped me. I’m not too big to help anybody,” Malviya told me under a shady tree just outside of the studio where “Made in America” was shooting a dramatic prison scene. Malviya’s passion is earnest and forthright, “(students) have fresh ideas. We can learn from them and also guide them along the way.”

    Malviya credits the New York Film Academy with giving her a leg up in the industry, “I’m from India. Hollywood films really pop in India. I took what I learned at NYFA and landed a job with Zee TV.” While at Zee TV, she noticed the abundance of talent and resources and wondered why no one, anywhere outside of South East Asia, was making content for the region. She sought to change that, “I pitched them the idea. They loved it and now, here we are.”

    kalpana

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Kalpana Malviya for taking the time to speak with us. Malviya has created two more shows for Zee TV that will begin filming shortly. “Made in America” airs in early 2017.

    November 2, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2336

  • NYFA Instructor’s “Porgies & Bass” Wins Best Short at Coney Island Film Festival

    porgies and bassNew York Film Academy Filmmaking instructor Thomas Barnes’ latest short film, “Porgies & Bass,” recently won Best Short Film at the Coney Island Film Festival and will be screening at the Big Apple Film Festival, which will take place at the Village East Cinema in Manhattan on Friday, November 4th at 8:30pm.

    The film was co produced by NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo, and the crew featured numerous NYFA alumni and teacher’s assistants.

    The story surrounds Ben, a native fisherman on Long Island, New York, fishing for the prized large striped bass. Meanwhile, Jorge, a Latino immigrant catches porgies, a more common and smaller size fish. What starts out as a beautiful day on the beach turns into a skirmish over territory, and finally erupts in an unforgettable manner.

    We had a chance to speak with the director and NYFA instructor, Thomas Barnes, before his upcoming screening at the Big Apple Film Festival.

    What are some of the themes we can take from your film?

    With all the talk of building walls to keep people out and fears of outsiders stoked by politicians, this film explores social and racial tensions via a tense fishing story. Hopefully, the film transcends political sloganeering to get to a more complex view of people and their struggles to coexist.

    Thomas Barnes

    Thomas Barnes directing his actor on the set of “Porgies and Bass.”

    How did this film come about? 

    The story was devised after several years of fishing on beaches in Long Island, meeting men like the characters in the story, and imagining what would happen in a tense conflict between them. With script in hand in summer 2015, I invited NYFA instructor Richard D’Angelo to come on board as he is an experienced Long Island producer where the film was to be shot.

    I raised the money for production privately and then successfully crowd-sourced the funds for post production via Indiegogo.

    What was the most challenging aspect of the production?

    The changing weather, tides, ocean conditions and light were all challenges. Shooting totally out of sequence and keeping on top of continuity was a headache.

    Also, working in the water with actors, props and camera made for some very tricky set-ups.

    porgies and bass

    Can you tell me the students and alumni involved with the production? 

    Co- Producer Richard D’Angelo helped to hire the following alumni:

    • Production Designer: Roxy Martinez
    • Associate Producer: Jolene Mendes
    • Assistant Director: Attapol Worrawuttaweekul
    • Production Coordinator: Francesca Morello
    • Key Grip: Mateo Salcedo Cancino
    • Gaffer: Miguel Garzon Martinez
    • Editor: Ross Vedder – works with NYFA Editing Dept. I met him through NYFA instructor Lanre Olabisi.

    What do you hope to achieve with this film and its screening at the Big Apple Film Festival?

    It’s a competitive awards festival, so I hope to earn the votes of our supporters in the audience!

    Are there any other screenings or festivals coming up where we can see the film?

    To be confirmed. It just screened at Woodstock Film Festival last week.

    November 1, 2016 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1234

  • Photography Alumna’s Fashion Work Featured in Cosmo China and Lucy’s Magazine

    While in high school, Kimiko Chan received her first camera and quickly fell in love with capturing the details of her world. After studying painting for more than 20 years, Chan decided to attend New York Film Academy’s Photography Program to learn some of the practical elements of photography.

    Kimiko Chan

    photo by Kimiko Chan

    While in the program, Chan recalls her class trip to the Dominican Republic as one of the highlights of her experience. “The DR trip was the best moment at NYFA,” said Chan. “Teachers and students traveled together and worked as a group to explore the country while taking photos and documenting the live’s of local people.

    Since completing her program at NYFA, Chan has worked in fashion photography for Cosmo China magazine, Lucy’s magazine, and some Chinese celebrities.

    “Nowadays, fashion photography trends are more real and more relaxed,” says Chan. “More and more fashion photographers try to explore the deep feeling of human nature instead of a beautiful picture.”

    photos by Kimiko Chan

    For a look at more of Kimiko Chan’s fashion photography work, please visit here website at www.kimikochan.com.

    October 28, 2016 • Photography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1643

  • NYFA Australia GC Grad’s Music Video Featured on MTV

    Damian Lang is a graduate of the New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast. His digital dialogue, “Diamond In The Rough,” has just come off its festival run, screening at four festivals and winning Best Student Short at the Colorado International Film Festival. Damian’s music video production for Gold Coast based DJ duo “Bombs Away” is also currently featured on MTV.

    Damian Lang

    Damian says that NYFA helped prepare him for the real world of the industry through its hands-on approach. “As a filmmaking student, we were constantly creating and learning while performing multiple roles in a film-like environment,” he explains.

    Currently working as a Locations Production Assistant on the latest Marvel feature shooting at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, Australia, Damian is also in post production for his latest music video produced for New Zealand rock-band “Mi-Sex,” as well as for his latest short-film entitled “The First Step.”

    damian lang

    His advice to aspiring filmmakers is that “no one gets a free ride, the choices you make will define you.”

    Check out Damian’s work on the latest music video for “Bombs Away” on MTV Australia’s website, by clicking here

    October 26, 2016 • Entertainment Australia, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1470

  • Victor Okoye Frank’s Award-Winning “Purpose”

    Victor Okoye Frank came to the New York Film Academy from Nigeria to further pursue his passion for storytelling. “After college and research, I knew there was no better place to learn the precious art of storytelling than the prestigious New York Film Academy,” said Frank.
    victor frank

    His first semester in the 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory has been selected into a couple of festivals and won six awards including two from “My Rode Reel,” a competition that included over 1,500 submitted films from around the world. Recently, “Purpose” was nominated for Best Short Documentary and Best Director in a Documentary Award at the New York Short Film Awards (SOFI). The winners will be announced in December.

    “I was thrilled to receive the announcement from Rode,” said Frank. “Being such a big company and having over 1,500 movies to sort through — mine came in the top 2 in the Judges’ best films. Also, from the SOFI awards, I’m hopeful for the best overall film, but I will find out in the coming month.”

    victor frank purpose
    “Purpose” is a personal film, not just of his story, but of countless people around the globe who struggle through daily activities, doing things that barely make them happy. “It’s a story of hope and of a revelation that ultimate happiness can be found in doing what you love, and there’s no better time to get to it than now,” the director says.


    “I remember discussing the movie with my directing teacher [at NYFA],” Frank recalled. “He gave me tips of how to propel the story. Overall,  my training at NYFA gave me a good boost toward perfecting the film.”

    Frank is currently in pre-production on his first feature film “365.” He also runs a vlog about filmmaking, “Fourth Film,” which he says he attributes to the knowledge he received from NYFA.

    October 25, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2205

  • Award-Winning NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Talks “Money”

    Martin Rosete came to the New York Film Academy in 2007 thanks to La Caixa Fellowship Program in Spain. “At that time I could not even dream everything what I was about to learn at NYFA and all the opportunities it would provide me in the professional world,” said Rosete.

    martin rosete

    After attending the Two Year Filmmaking Program, Rosete went on to direct the short film “Voice Over,” which won numerous awards at festivals all across the world.

    From there, Rosete went on to direct the feature film, “Money,” which continues to gain buzz on the festival circuit. The movie stars Kellan Lutz (“Twilight saga,” “The Legend of Hercules”) and Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Cabin in the Woods”).

    On November 5th, the film will premiere in NYC at the Big Apple Film Festival, and on November 4th it will play in LA at the Egyptian Theater as part of the Arpa International Film Festival. Next year, the movie will be commercially distributed worldwide.

    We had the opportunity to speak with the award-winning director and NYFA alumnus before his upcoming premieres in NYC and LA.

    Congrats on all of your success! Can you tell us about your new film, “Money”?

    “Money” is an elegant thriller that talks about human greed and how money (and the lack of it) can affect different individuals from different backgrounds. We tried to do it as universal and commercial as possible, and we are really happy with the final movie.

    VOICE OVER (English subtitles) from Kamel Films on Vimeo.
    How did this film come about?

    After directing my short film, “Voice Over,” which won over 100 awards in film festivals and got a nomination for the Spanish Academy Award (Goya), I felt that I was ready to jump and direct my first feature film. I started to read a bunch of scripts that my agent (at WME at that time) sent me and, in the end, I found the script for “Money.” I felt it was perfect for my first feature. It was contained, commercial, fun, with great characters and dialogue. I fell in love with it.

    I teamed up with Atit Shah, an American producer based in NY, and we decided to produce it together. It took us a little bit of time to put all the pieces in place, and I have to say that it is been an exciting and fun process, and we are already planning to repeat the team for our next film.

    What was the most rewarding aspect of the production?

    Probably the cast we got. It was amazing to have the opportunity to work with so many talented actors such as Jesse Williams, Kellan Lutz, Jess Weixler, Jamie Bamber and Lucia Guerrero. And besides the talent they have, I will be always thankful for the professionalism and commitment they showed on set. It was a dream to work with all of them.

    on set of "Money"

    How did your NYFA education prepare you to direct “Money”?

    I am from Spain, and the time that I spent at NYFA helped me a lot in understanding the way things are in the industry, in the US; and the fact that we were literally shooting every week also helped in having the opportunity to try different things without any fear of failing. That is really important to be prepared for the real world after your studies are over, and I am really happy to have had that opportunity.

    You’ve had tremendous success at the film festivals. Can you provide any advice to students about to enter their films into festivals?

    Film Festivals are the main door to the professional world. Being in the big ones and winning awards gives you the visibility that you need to find the right producer, agent, or investor interested in your work. My work has been selected in more that 500 film festivals, winning over 200 awards. The only secret is to have something good to show out there and to have the energy to find the resources to distribute your work in order to get as much as possible out of it.

    "Money"

    Is there anything you can tell us about distribution for “Money”?

    The movie was completed in April 2016 and it is doing great in film festivals. About the commercial life of the movie, it has been sold to many territories and we are negotiating a deal with a studio right now. I would love to be more specific, but unfortunately I cannot reveal more yet. All I can tell you is that in 2017 “Money” will have worldwide distribution.

    What kind of advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers and NYFA students looking to direct their first film?

    Whatever you do, do it right. Even if you are doing a small practice with no budget. Try your best. Put all the energy and passion to get the best out of it. Sometimes the result won’t be great but you may get a good lesson that you can apply in the next shooting. I always joke with my crew, even on low budget sets, telling them that we have to face the shoot as if we were doing “Ben-Hur,” because that kind of commitment from everyone makes the difference. And besides all that, for me, it is very important to do things this way to show the respect for the profession and for the professionals involved.

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

    Yes, as I said, Atit and I are working on a wonderful dark comedy called “Remember Me” written by Rafa Russo. The script was one of the top scripts of the year on The Black List, and it is one of the best scripts that I have read in my life. We are super excited because we know we have another winner on those pages. I cannot wait to start shooting!

    October 21, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2116

  • Photography Alumnus’ Work Published on L’Officiel India and Factice Magazine

    New York Film Academy Photography alumnus Ping Wang‘s fine art project, “The Nostalgia of the Infinite,” is a bold combination of high-end fashion and metaphysical art, or as Wang eloquently puts it: “my exploration and self meditation about time and memory.”

    His fashion editorials inspired by “The Nostalgia of the Infinite,” named “Untramelled,” have been published on L’Officiel India, and the fashion story inspired by the same fine art project named “Delusional” has been published on Factice Magazine.

    untramelled

    photo from L’OFFICIEL INDIA | SEPTEMBER 2016

    “I’ve loved writing since I was very young,” said Wang. “I always take photos with my cellphone and put them into my personal blog. I believe this is the starting point for my photography. However, I didn’t know how to use a professional camera when I came to NYFA. NYFA values the practical and basic learning; it gives students a lot of time to think and then achieve.”

    "Eye of the Painter" in Factice Magazine | photography by Ping Wang

    “Eye of the Painter” in Factice Magazine | photography by Ping Wang

    With Wang focusing on fashion photography since his graduation, he says he notices two trends in the space.

    1. More “motions” are catching the spotlight in the industry. Fashion film has been a big trend.

    2. Fashion photography is cyclical. I’m beginning to see some retro elements and a preference for film lighting.

    photos by Ping Wang

    “In everything that I do, I want to express myself and feel the world,” says Wang.

    For more of Ping Wang’s amazing work, visit his website at www.pingwangxin.com.

    October 20, 2016 • Photography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1518

  • Game Design Master’s Showcase at NYFA Los Angeles

    This past September 2016, the Game Design Department held their annual Master’s Showcase at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus. Students displayed games ranging from virtual reality, tabletop, side scrollers, card games, and PC games.

    game design

    The event also played host to the second Twitch stream for NYFA. Previously, NYFA hosted a Twitch stream for the Pokémon Go Event in July. Students and professors play-tested new games so fans could see the gameplay.

    I asked the team producing the Twitch TV stream, NYFA student Davin Tjen and Nicholas Cunha, about the response they were hoping for from their audience. “We’re very excited for it and we’re very excited to go live. We don’t know (what to expect). Our last stream was a hit, but that’s because it was Pokémon Go.”

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    Guillermo Quesada Paez, Master of Fine Arts student, had several games at the event including Identity, Fetch Through Time, and Samurai V Skeletons.

    Paez said, “Samurai V Skeletons is a tower defense game, but we also made it so you could control the main character. You can play as your tower but you can also play as a guy and help shoot the enemy. We basically mixed two different games together: tower defense and a top down shooter.”

    The hardest part about making the game was creating path finding for the enemy. “We needed an algorithm to find the shortest paths between points,” Paez explained. “The player keeps moving around and the enemy has to keep recalculating their path to get to the player.”

    nyfa game design

    Drew Fletcher, Master of Fine Arts student and one of the developers on Fetch Through Time, told us about his game. “In Fetch Through Time, you’re a gelatin dog bouncing through the world trying to collect bones. You have to make sure you don’t run into anything otherwise you’ll pop.”

    The inspiration behind the game was simple, “…we had two ideas. One teammate had an idea for a gelatin game and another teammate had an idea for an endless bouncing ball, so we combined the two.”

    Board games were also on display. Associate of Fine Arts student Jeffery Lay told us about his game, inspired by the game Set. “I used something called the script effect. For example, here we have the word blue written in green. Your left side of the brain is trying to read the word and the right side of your brain is seeing the color. That brings a clash in your brain and it makes the game more challenging. If you do the script affect often it increases your logical brain. ”

    game design

    Lay also showcased his game Capture, a horror game without monsters. “My main focus was environmental designs. I don’t like horror games. Well … it’s not that I don’t like them. I’m scared of them. So, I thought it might be fun as a challenge to create one. I used environmental design to make it look realistic or give it that natural feeling and I wanted something that had a scary vibe without scaring the person directly. In some of the horror games something just pops up in your face. It’s not fair to the player. I try with music and sound to give players that scary feeling.”

    New York Film Academy professor Scott Rogers (History of Video Games) had this to say about the event, “I’m really proud of all our students. They managed to do some pretty amazing things in a very short period of time. I’m always impressed with the work they do.”

    game design

    Rogers then explained how the students learn to develop their games. “One of the things that we like to teach the students here is that paper prototyping is the foundation of good organized game design, whether it’s making maps for their level designs or actually creating a playable version of their game in paper form. We’re trying to teach them to work not only well, but smart. So paper prototyping is this great tool that’s been around since Dungeons & Dragons.”

    “The other side of this is you could just learn to make a board game. In fact, one of our students earlier tonight was talking to a fellow who’s a Creative Director at a board game company. The guy took the students card because he was so impressed with the game.”

    October 19, 2016 • Game Design, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1463

  • Broadcast Journalism Alumna Reporter for Sweden’s Expressen-TV

    These days, some of the most interesting TV news operations aren’t seen on conventional TV. Case in point, Expressen-TV. Expressen is one of Sweden’s most successful newspapers. But the future is digital, so the news operation has evolved into a cross-platform news service that is now challenging the dominance of traditional broadcasters. And even in Stockholm, much of the talk is about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

    Last week NYFA Broadcast Journalism students got an “insider” perspective of Expressen-TV from Emilie Olsson, a 2013 New York Film Academy graduate. After working with Swedish state broadcaster SVT and commercial outlet TV-4, Emilie is now a general assignment reporter at Expressen-TV.

    emilie olsson

    She shared with the students her career path since leaving NYFA, and described a typical day for a TV news reporter. She began her fascination for broadcast journalism as early as ten years old. On a two-day trip to New York City, Olsson stopped at NYFA to learn more about its Broadcast Journalism program. It wasn’t long until she was hooked and attending the 8-Week program.

    Emilie Olsson

    “During the 8 weeks I learned a lot about the camera, editing programs. It prepared be both technically and improving my language. It makes me feel like I can do interviews in New York. I like the motivation NYFA gives to students.”

    “If you’re from another country, NYFA will be a change for you,” added Olsson. “But don’t be worried. There are people from all different countries, and you learn from your own path. Enjoy it, and take advantage of your education as much as possible.”

    After class, she spent time talking informally with members of the class. Thanks for visiting NYFA, Emilie!

    October 18, 2016 • Broadcast Journalism, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1708