Italian native and New York Film Academy Photography graduate, Paolo Testa, says he’s “constantly working on different projects” since graduating. His work primarily deals with magazines and clients in the fashion industry.
photography by Paolo Testa
“I believe that a photography school offers you a priceless opportunity: taking pictures for the sake of taking them,” says Testa. “This allows your creativity to flow and gives you a lot of room for exploration and experimentation. Once you are out of school, you need to work and you lose your free time. My most memorable time at NYFA was spent in the studio. I was using it every day for the sake of experiencing and gaining more knowledge of the studio protocol.”
Testa’s latest work can be seen in WWD. Outside of the fashion industry, Testa is shooting a personal project called “My America” that will be showcased in the next issue of C41 Magazine, a fine art photography magazine distributed worldwide.
photography by Paolo Testa
Additionally, Testa has an active portfolio on the Vogue Italia website. Some of his photos have won awards on the website, including two of which won the Best of vogue.it.
As for some advice that Testa has for our current students and recent graduates, he says, “If you want to make it, you need to focus on one type of photography. Be honest with yourself and don’t try to imitate someone else’s work. Find your own language and write your own story with your own unique style.”
Not only does the New York Film Academy provide an intensive hands-on experience, but it also sometimes plays the role of matchmaker for actors, filmmakers, writers and other creative artists to begin a professional relationship that will last far beyond their years as students.
Such is the case for two alumni, Sara Seligman and Thomas Bond, who met at NYFA and began a working relationship as writing partners. Sara and Tom first met while taking the One-Year Filmmaking Program in 2007. The two initially worked on each other’s thesis films – Sara was Tom’s AD and Tom was Sara’s DP. After school they continued collaborating, and currently they have several feature film scripts that they’ve co-written.
One of their screenplays, Falcon Lake, was awarded a TriBeCa Film Institute Grant, which brought about the attention of potential film financiers and production companies. Through that attention, the team found producer, Anne Clements, and attached Oscar-nominee Adriana Barraza to play one of the leading roles. And more recently, Tom and Sara were selected to participate in the 2016 Film Independent Fast Track. Through that they received even more attention, both for their script and as writers in general. They had the opportunity to meet with several more production companies and agencies, such as WME. They have now landed their first investors and are still looking to gather the remainder of the production budget.
Falcon Lake began at NYFA as Sara’s first-year thesis film, Blessed the Fruit of Thy Womb. Her short was the seed that began the idea, and slowly it grew and evolved into the script it is today.
“The most important thing is to know that the skills we learn in school can be strengthened with practice, from directing to lighting to writing,” says Seligman in regards to her time at NYFA. “NYFA taught us that, when it comes to filmmaking, going out and doing the work is the only way to succeed, and repetition is the way to turn the work from decent to good to great,” added Bond.
Sara Seligman on set
In addition to their writing careers, both Sara and Tom have spent time working on film and TV sets, including The Mindy Project and The People Vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. “Working on TV and film sets has been extremely important in furthering my career,” said Seligman. “We can learn a lot in film school, but practical experience is invaluable. When applying for jobs, it’s the experience that matters most. Getting on-set experience helps me to learn all facets of the filmmaking process.”
“Working on set, you learn to manage the different legs of a project, and the personalities involved,” added Bond. “I love the challenge of working as a team under pressurized constraints, like budget and time restrictions. You really learn who is capable of what, and who will be around for the long haul in an industry that is very unforgiving.”
Thomas Bond at LA Film Festival
Sara and Tom continue to develop and collaborate on screenplays while holding steady jobs in the creative field. Sara is currently working as an Associate Producer at the ad agency Innocean. Before that, she was Jennifer Todd’s assistant on Ben Affleck’s Live By Night and key set PA for The Mindy Project. “I’m proud of the evolvement that each project has meant, and that I was able to work for one of my favorite directors on Live by Night with one of the best DPs in the world Bob Richardson,” said Seligman.
For the past several years, Tom has spent much of his time in the documentary world. “My proudest achievement is definitely getting the chance to work with Albert Maysles at his production company in Harlem, which I did for two years,” said Bond. “Working with a legend, who was so nice, smart, and giving, is an experience I’ll treasure forever. Rest In Peace, Albert!”
A group of recent New York Film Academy alumni have teamed together to create a production company called Kaleidocircle Productions. Established as fifteen eager actors looking to continue their journey together, they are now a solid group of 12; Aleigha Spinks, Will Parker, Max Turner, Esther Van Zyl, Cesar Brandi, Vitoria Mattos, Laika Lalonde, Victoria Ruud, Natalia Garcez, Ana Paula Marques, Litha Bam and Jen Theophilus.
The production team, a multi-cultural film ensemble, collaborates with actors, filmmakers, writers, photographers, and musicians. They are working to provide high quality entertainment on a global platform while maintaining a level of intimacy and magnitude with their audience. Kaleidocircle strives to provoke, spark, and affect every walk of life the best way possible.
“Our team thrives on creativity and success from every corner of the globe,” said Aleigha K. Spinks, Managing Director.
Working within the LGBTQ community is very important to the company, with many of its founding members being a part of the community. Providing opportunities for not just young creatives, but minorities, alike. No matter the level of experience, Kaleidocircle is always willing to assist in the development of creative individuals.
“I have managed to not only act, but, write, direct and produce original material of high quality thanks to our companies network of artists across 6 continents,” said Will Parker, Artistic Director.
K-Circle, as they like to abbreviate sometimes, has created contemporary promotional material for the non-profit organization, Hetrick Martin Institute. They will also be producing their first professional short film in the fall — a story inspired by the true events of the gas explosions in New York City. They hope to touch their audience, evoking raw and honest emotions, while relaying a message of hope to each and every one of us.
What started out as Thomas Della Bella’s final thesis film at New York Film Academy has now turned into a feature horror film coming out in theaters and iTunes worldwide on August 5th. Written, directed and edited by Della Bella, The Remains stars Todd Lowe (True Blood), Samuel Larsen (Glee), Nikki Hahn (American Horror Story), Lisa Brenner (The Patriot), Brooke Butler (All Cheerleaders Must Die), Hannah Rose Nordberg (General Hospital) and Ashley Crow (Minority Report).
With the NYFA BFA graduate’s film due out in a week, we thought we’d ask him a few questions about his film and his career as a filmmaker after NYFA.
Congratulations on THE REMAINS! Can you tell us how this film come about?
The Remains is the feature length version of my final year thesis short film Open House. I graduated the BFA Filmmaking program in late 2013 in Los Angeles. I knew going into my thesis film that I wanted to make a short film that could be used as a proof of concept for a feature. So, essentially, I wrote a 15 page mini-feature that followed a family that moves into a Victorian house. I broke the script down into three traditional acts with every 5 pages constituting Act I, II and III. So in the final 13 minute film you get this really cool and fast paced haunted house story.
Now, at the time I had an internship at Blumhouse Productions. Blumhouse is the pinnacle of horror and thriller movies out here and I knew from very early on that one day I wanted to be involved with these filmmakers. Some of their titles include: The Purge, Insidious, Paranormal Activity. As I was interning and PAing for them, I was in post production on my thesis film. Once the film was finished, I sent it around the office to everyone I became friendly with. The following day, a co-worker who watched the film called me over to her desk to tell me how much she loved the film and how she was impressed with the quality of the film.
Now let me also mention, the budget of the short film was $5,000 that I raised via Kickstarter. However, the tools that NYFA provided allowed me to elevate the short film to looking like a much bigger budget film.
The co-worker introduced me to an independent producer at the time named Eric Fleischman. I met with him for lunch a few days later and pitched him the feature version. About three months later, the movie was green lit through Eric Fleischman and Sean Tabibian’s genre production company Diablo Entertainment. From that point, we were off to the races. Everything fell into place at rapid speed and the movie was produced on a shoestring budget.
In your own words, what is your film about?
The Remains is, at its core, a homage to the haunted house horror genre. The film follows John and his family after they move into an old Victorian house after the passing of his wife. Soon after moving in, his two youngest children find a chest in the attic that contains a bunch of antiques. From that point on, an item attaches itself to each family member and slowly starts to possess each family member while pitting them against each other.
The themes I explored are all based around the crumbling of the family unit and the idea that you would do anything for the well being of your family.
Were there any influencers that got you into the horror genre?
Yes! Stanley Kubrick by far has to be one of my biggest influences. The Shining is one of my all time favorite films and you will see references of that in The Remains. I was just always blown away by the moodiness and composition of his films and I really wish I had a chance to meet him. But, specifically, The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Barry Lyndon are my favorites.
I’d also have to say that James Wan and Leigh Whannell are huge influencers of mine. I grew up watching the Saw franchise and those films always left an imprint on my brain. But, I don’t think it was until Insidious in 2010, when I was in my early film school years, that I realized these are the types of films that I want to make and these are the people I aspire to someday work with.
Thomas Della Bella on set of “The Remains”
Thinking back to your time at NYFA. Do you believe your experience prepared you to write, direct, and edit the feature version of THE REMAINS?
Yes, 100%. I learned so much doing my 1 year in NYC and 2 years in LA with the NYFA education model. From the very first day of class, they put a camera in my hand, and honestly, the best learning is by doing. And that is exactly what you do while attending NYFA — you make films. I was very lucky to have such an amazing class that really worked together to make fantastic art. I am still very close with most of my classmates and I hired a few of them to work on my film! I’d also like to point out that many of my teachers at NYFA were extremely supportive of anything I wanted to do or try. I think they definitely helped gear me up to jump into a movie as a first time director.
Was there anything interesting that occurred on set that you’d like to share with us?
Probably the weirdest thing about being on set of The Remains was that fact that we shot the short film at the same house. There are two or three scenes that are exactly the same and untouched that we were shooting for the second time. And it was just a very weird sense of deja vu while doing those scenes. But, we shot the film at this amazing 129 year-old house that had the most fantastic home owners ever. They basically let us take over their house and do whatever we wanted, twice in a row, and that was such a positive experience.
Going back to the fact that the house is now 129 years old…it was just an incredibly creepy house. The second you look at the house from outside you immediately think to yourself, it’s haunted. But, I do remember on numerous occasions that the grip and electric departments were always rushing to get out of the house when we wrapped up every night, because the house is that much creepier at night. There were one or two reports of things moving around on their own, but, for my own sanity, I’ll blame that on the production assistants.
Thomas Della Bella on set of “The Remains”
What advice do you have for filmmakers looking to shoot their first feature?
My biggest piece of advice would be to make a short film with the goal of a feature version behind it. This way when you write the feature version, you have this amazing proof of concept to show potential investors and producers. Also, students should take advantage of crowd-sourcing sites like Indigogo and Kickstarter.
The best move I made early on was getting an internship at a company I was truly interested in. Interning lead to set work and, honestly, I learned the most while working in a production office and being on big budget sets.
Be sure to check out The Remains in theaters and iTunes August 5th!
Headed up by New York Film Academy Photography Chair David Mager, Instructor Chris Knight, and Instructor Andreanna Seymore, photography students were given a truly hands-on experience, capturing images for The LakeHouse restaurant in Bay Shore, New York.
Each instructor led three groups of students to capture environmental work, portraitures, and food product photography images that could be used for advertising and marketing purposes.
“One of my favorite things about this school is the hands-on class work,” said NYFA student, Stephanie Schnabel.
“Luxury Living”; photographed by students from the New York Film Academy Photography Program.
“We were really trying to show how beautiful the restaurant is, as well as the faces of the owners,” said NYFA Photography student, Emma Clinton.
Students’ final advertising photos were featured in a Luxury Living article that highlighted the ten-year anniversary of the Long Island beachfront restaurant. Luxury Living is Long Island’s premier lifestyle publication serving the needs of the area’s most affluent residents. Published quarterly by Newsday, Long Island’s leading content provider, Luxury Living celebrates the life well-lived with coverage of high-end homes and gardens, dining and entertainment, art and culture, travel and automotive, and retail, specifically fashion, beauty, jewelry and accessories.
“Luxury Living”; photographed by students from the New York Film Academy Photography Program.
“I’m really impressed with how everyone worked at this shoot,” said NYFA Instructor Andreanna Seymore. “After this experience, I can really see them working, shooting, and being really professional. I think that this experience has been very successful.”
As the clock struck 7:00 at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Campus the lobby began to fill with acting students and alumni. Agents from Abrams Artists Agency, Central Artists, Daniel Hoff Agency, DDO Artists Agency, Howard Talent West, Ideal Talent Agency, LA Management, McKeon-Myones Management, Media Artists Group, Prodigy Talent, Debra Manners Talent Management, sat perched behind desks ready to take the student’s head shots and discuss their future.
Frederico Mallet a recent MFA Acting graduate attended the recent looking for commercial and theatrical representation. “I think it’s fantastic that Barbara made this happen,” said Mallet. “Because she is really great. She’s one of the finest people at NYFA. She’s at it all the time. She cares so much about us and I’m really grateful that she did this.”
The event was organized and run by Barbara Weintraub, Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development. She wanted to give recent and soon to be graduates an opportunity not only to network and practice pitching themselves but hopefully to land an agent and secure work.
Spring 2015 graduate, Katisha Seargent, “I graduated in May and I’ve been trying to get out there. I was doing a lot of self-submissions. I was so grateful to the school put together a program to help us get that foot in the door because it’s something we’ve been trying to do since we graduated.”
“I watched the footage that they made us shoot on our very first week at NYfA and I just compare it to where I am now and the growth is just exponential. It’s ridiculous. I learned so many things. My interpersonal communication skills rose exponentially. My confidence…it just went through the roof. I’m playing roles now that I never thought that I would do, that I didn’t think I was good at. I found out I have a comedic side. I never thought I was funny. You find out so much about yourself through this process here at NYFA.”
Acting student Owen Rousu knew he only had two minutes to impress the agents, “I have a commercial agent already so I’m looking more for theatrical. My little spiel goes, ‘Hey, I’m Owen. This is my theatrical headshot. I’m looking for theatrical representation; either a manager or an agent. I’m SAG eligible. I think what sets me apart from other actors is I spent five years in the army. I deployed twice as a US Army Ranger. So, the roles that I would go up for are usually army, marines, cops, firefighters, or the bad guy, apparently. I get a lot of villains, which actually, I love.”
When all was said and done we had several students reach back to tell us about their experience.
The meet and greet was such a great event! I got an audition for commercial representation at Daniel Hoff! Which is an agency I’ve wanted to audition for so bad!
So, thank you!
Thank you so much for yesterday the event was great! I was already contacted by two talent agencies!
So, thank you so much! Those events must keep on going! They are of great help.
Thanks for last night event!! I got contacted by DDO agency already for an interview next Thursday for possible representation!
The New York Film Academy would like to thank all the agencies that came to view our students and the current students and alumni who took advantage of this opportunity.
The tradition of cowboying is alive and well—in Brooklyn. In former New York Film Academy Documentary student Amy Wright’s film, Legacy, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2015, Wright takes a glimpse into the lives of the men and women who comprise The Federation of Black Cowboys. From trail riding in Virginia, to giving riding lessons to kids back in Brooklyn, The Federation ensures that the legacy of America’s forgotten black cowboys will live on for generations to come.
This Wednesday, July 20, Wright’s film was recognized and awarded Best Short by the March on Washington Film Festival, which was held at the White House. The March on Washington FF strives to increase awareness of the events and heroes of the Civil Rights Era and inspire renewed passion for activism. The festival uses the power of film, music, and the arts to share these important stories.
“I accept this award in honor of my late grandfather, who was the inspiration for the film,” said Wright. “I’m so glad to have been able to share the legacy of black Cowboys with the world.”
In her film, Brooklyn’s own Federation of Black Cowboys ride the trails, transport inner city kids off the streets and onto horses, and work to preserve and celebrate the legacy of the forgotten 1/3 of old west cowboys who were Black. Wright shines a light on the lesser-known aspects of Black history. Her journey with the Federation of Black Cowboys, from urban Brooklyn to rural Virginia, reveals the nuanced intersection of Black culture and American iconography.
“The making of Legacy has been a whirlwind experience, from pitching it in the one year NYFA doc program to its screening today at the White House,” added Wright.
“These cowboys have character in every sense of the word, from their quiet integrity to their colorful personalities,” says Andrea Swift, Chair of the Documentary Department, New York. “Seen through the lens of Amy Wright’s camera, scions of the American West like Captain Lee, Rabbit, Momma, Bug, Magic and Mountain Man fill the screen and the imagination with an unconventional vision of life on the range—if the range was Brooklyn.”
Wright’s film is yet another shining example of the high quality, award-winning films that haven been produced with the New York Film Academy’s Documentary Program.
As a part of Six-Week 16mm & HD New York Film Academy Filmmaking Camp our students learn how to actually shoot on film. Why, you may ask? Well, regardless of the fact that nowadays digital imaging is equivalent or maybe even surpassing the technical capabilities of film, many productions are still shot on film. This means that knowing how to work with 16mm is still a precious skill in the industry.
Recently, at a beautiful location at the Griffith Park, the students had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with film for the very first time. Have a look for yourself!
NYFA alumna, Gabby Egito, being honored with the Portuguese-Brazilian Award
NYFA alumna, Gabby Egito, was recently honored with the Portuguese-Brazilian Award, one of the most important accolades of Lusophone communities in the United States. The honorees list was handpicked by a jury committee of journalists who gathered names of the art world, entrepreneurs and notable professionals who excelled in cultural or social awareness in support of their communities in America.
Egito was recognized for her achievements as a recent Brazilian filmmaker. Her fast rise began in 2010, when she came to the U.S. to attend a NYFA 8-Week Workshop at the Los Angeles campus. In the workshop she produced a 7-minute dark comedy, Synergy, which was honored at the Awareness Film Festival, in Hollywood. This sealed her participation in the NYFA One-Year Filmmaking program under a merit-based scholarship.
During her studies at the New York Film Academy, Egito wrote and directed two other films that became festival darlings including the thriller Stuffed and the psychological drama Taken for Granted. Egito has amassed nine awards and five nominations at competitions from coast to coast: Hollywood, Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlantic City (New Jersey), Houston (Texas), Atlanta (Georgia), Cleveland (Ohio) and Muskogee (Oklahoma).
Still from “Synergy”
“It’s amazing to look back and realize how much I’ve achieved since I arrived in this country with two suitcases and a dream of becoming a filmmaker,” said Egito. “NYFA certainly played a decisive role in this journey, providing me the hands-on experience I needed to start off.”
Egito is now working on a long-form documentary about disparities between American and Brazilian dating. “I want to address the cultural differences I’ve been observing in the past six years living in Los Angeles,” commented Egito. “It’ll be very amusing, I promise you.”
The Portuguese-Brazilian Award, organized by Ricky Terezi, was held on July 12 at a 19th-century Norman-style castle overlooking the Hudson River, 30 miles from New York City.
MFA Photography Alumnus, Alify Nasution, has been nominated by Cosplay Gen Magazine as one of the top 15 Best National cosplay Photographers of 2016. Nasution is a fine art photographer, specializing in conceptual portrait photography. He’s been shooting since 2009 but found a passion for photographing costume enthusiasts, otherwise known as cosplayers.
Cosplay is a design driven art form where fans create costumes based off their favorite characters. Media from which characters are pulled range from anime to video games, comic books, and even real people. Sometimes cosplayers take two characters and create a singular hybrid. This new age art form allows fans to demonstrate their incredible creativity and innovation.
The costumes can take hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to create. For many in the community, it’s more than just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. Before turning to photography Nasution was a cosplayer. His first costume was Rogue from Ragnarok Online.
Back in 2005, when Nasution was getting started, there was no such thing as cosplay photography. Photographers would simply go to conventions and take ‘documentary-style’ photographs of the convention goers.
photo by Alify Nasution
This is when Nasution realized all of the efforts poured into making costumes and role-playing characters could be better appreciated if photographed professionally. He saw how he could combine fashion photography, fine art photography, and portraiture to properly document these unique pieces of art.
In 2015 Nasution began his journey to become a professional photographer. He moved from Indonesia to Los Angeles to study Fine Art Photography and in 2016 he graduated from the New York Film Academy receiving his MFA in Photography.
photo by Alify Nasution
While at NYFA his knowledge of photography increased tremendously, both technically and theoretically. During his studies he was able to explore vast concepts from political to fantasy, eastern and western culture, every race, creed and nation. Nasution remains steadfast in his goal to introduce cosplay photography to a global audience. He doesn’t just take a beautiful photograph; he preserves a story.