Student and Alumni Spotlights
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  • NBC Visits NYFA in Search of Diverse Talent

    nbc diversity

    NBC’s Grace Moss presenting NBC’s Diversity Initiative Programs

    This past Thursday, March 19th at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, our students, alumni and faculty were treated to an informational session on NBC’s Entertainment Diversity Programs hosted by Grace Moss.

    The goal of their initiatives is to increase diversity on the network through programs like Writers on the Verge, the Directing Fellowship Program, NBCU Short Film Festival and Scene Showcase.

    Grace was able to break down each program with her informative presentation, and answered questions from the audience. She even answered specific one on one questions for students after the presentation.

    nbc diversity

    The New York Film Academy strongly recommends its students of diversity apply to these programs, as it is an amazing opportunity to break into the industry on a serious level.

    Below are just a handful of the programs Grace highlighted in her presentation:

    DIRECTING FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM The Directing Fellowship Program is designed to take directors accomplished in their respective fields (features, commercials and/or music videos) and give them the opportunity to work alongside episodic television directors. The selected directors will foster relationships and fine-tune their art to fit the television format.

    NBCUNIVERSAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL The Short Cuts Film Festival is an initiative to discover diverse voices both in front of and behind the camera. It provides creative individuals of diverse backgrounds an opportunity to get their materials in front of key decision makers from the entire NBCUniversal family, as well as agents, managers, producers, and other industry players.

    WRITERS ON THE VERGE Writers on the Verge is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. We are looking for writers who are “almost there,” but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills.

    LATE NIGHT WRITERS WORKSHOP The NBCUniversal Late Night Writers Workshop is a program focused on exposing talented joke, sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late-night & alternative lineup and readying them for a staff writer position.

    NBC SCENE SHOWCASE A 6-8 week workshop of original scenes by diverse writers, cast with up-and-coming actors and guided by directors of diverse backgrounds presented in a one-day showcase for executives, producers, casting directors, and other industry professionals.

     

    March 20, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1205

  • NYFA Student Lucas Diercouff to Film “The Gael” in Paso Robles

    Lucas Diercouff filming The Gael

    Lucas Diercouff, a United States Army veteran and current BFA Filmmaking student at the New York Film Academy, has announced his intention to film his short, The Gael, in Paso Robles, California. To help him achieve the goal, he has launched a GoFundMe campaign 

    The film takes place in 200AD Scotland, in a time when the Romans were trying to take over the Caledonia region. The story follows as Caer (played by Rachel J. Clark, Miss Scotland 2014), attempts to save her husband (Paul Meixner, NYFA graduate and veteran).

    Diercouff chose the Paso Robles area of California to film because he had heard of its resemblance to Scotland. After a bit of investigation and visiting the vineyards in the area, the stage was set.

    In a statement given to the Paso Robles Daily News, Diercouff says:

    “It has always been my dream to tell the story of a challenged love amidst the struggle of war, the kind of story that suits historical period and is an honest portrait of the passion of ancient Scotland.”

    The cast and crew plan to begin filming in May to finish by August, just in time for Diercouff’s graduation. Members of the project include current and former NYFA students, and members from outside the school (along with several veterans that fall into both camps).

     

     

    March 17, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 550

  • Shakespeare Competition at New York Film Academy

    louis fantasia

    photo by Scott Hanlon

    On Sunday, March 9, the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy played host to the LA Branch of the English Speaking Union for its 28th annual high school Shakespeare competition. Six finalists competed before a panel of distinguished film and theatre professionals in the Academy’s Riverside theatre before a cheering audience of family, friends, teachers and patrons, for a chance to perform at the ESU National finals at New York’s Lincoln Center in April.

    The six finalists were Carlos Camacho (Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual & Performing Arts); Clement Dexter (St. Monica Academy); Avery Girion (The Marlborough School); Kathleen Glynn (Los Angeles Senior High School); Emma Rothenberg (Westridge School); and Alex Thorland (New Roads School). They were chosen from 23 participants from the greater Los Angeles area two weeks earlier in a semi-final competition held at the Marlborough School in Hancock Park.

    shakespeare festival

    photo by Scott Hanlon

    Winning top prize was Emma Rothenberg from the Westridge School in Pasadena (shown I photo with drama teacher Laurie Riffe). Runner up Avery Girion, from the Marlborough School, was awarded a tuition scholarship to NYFA’s Advanced Acting summer camp for High School students this July.

    Judges for the Finals competition included Tony-nominated actress Roxanne Hart; actor, director and Golden Globe nominee Philip Casnoff (who teaches acting at the New York Film Academy); actress, director and Manhattan Marymount College Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Swain; and actress and ESU-LA Board member Kara Hume.

    fantasia

    photo by Scott Hanlon

    Shakespeare scholar Louis Fantasia, Dean of the Faculty at NYFA/LA, serves as President of the Board of the LA Branch of the English Speaking Union, which is part of a network of 68 branches throughout the US dedicated to global understanding and educational out-reach.

    Said Fantasia, “I was very happy to wear both my NYFA and ESU hats at the same time to help make this wonderful competition a success. I’m thrilled that we could show NYFA’s world class facilities to the participating students, teachers and patrons of the ESU, and equally thrilled that NYFA could help spread the word not only about Shakespeare in schools, but also about the wonderful work the ESU does in education in Los Angeles and across the US.”

  • NYFA Filmmakers Making ‘Waves’ in the Philippines

    waves

    It’s no secret that networking is one of the most essential parts of becoming a successful filmmaker. At the New York Film Academy, we encourage students to find like-minded individuals who want to collaborate and are truly passionate about their craft. After all, you can’t create a film entirely by yourself. It’s a team effort.

    Recently, a team of NYFA students put their efforts together and filmed the feature film Waves. The film was written by Scott Acornley, directed by Don Frasco, edited by Adrian Morales Ramos, and produced by Anna Skrypka and Don Frasco, all of whom graduated from NYFA.

    “NYFA’s intensive hands-on approach worked well for me,” says producer and MFA Filmmaking alumna Anna Skrypka. “We were pushed to wear so many hats that we had no choice but to learn fast and figure our way out.”

    waves still

    The film, which will be Waverly Pictures first feature film, is about intimate friendship, love and heartbreak, revolving around two old friends who test their boundaries on a secluded island in the Philippines.

    Waves is mainly about a man in his later 20s, drowning in his own life, in his own indecision, in his own lack of focus,” says screenwriter and MFA Filmmaking alumnus Scott Graham. “The ocean is a great metaphor for the human subconscious, so I always thought that the main character should be consumed by it, overwhelmed by it. But with the appearance of the whale shark, he kind of starts finding his way. There is beautiful potential inside all of our minds, and sometimes we need to drown and struggle a little bit to find that potential.”

    Waves is now available on Vimeo on Demand, and will be theatrically released this June in the Philippines by the Distribution Company Viva. The team is also in the process of getting US and worldwide distribution.

    waverly pictures

    Frasco and Skrypka are currently working on a number of other projects, including a feature that they intend to shoot early 2016. Through the film, Frasco hopes to explore Cebu youth culture from the perspective of two fresh medical representatives tasked to introduce family planning products to rural towns.

    “I hope to make films that have a sincere impact on society and its culture,” says director and cinematographer Don Frasco. “I believe that principles can be influenced and shaped through cinema in ways that ignite passion and a resilient interest in contributing to the world.”

    There will be a screening and Q&A with the filmmakers at NYFA Los Angeles on March 27th.

    Have a look at the trailer below, where you’ll also have the option of purchasing the film to view in its entirety.

     

    March 17, 2015 • Filmmaking, Producing, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1599

  • Vine Royalty King Bach is Going Hollywood

    king bach

    Hollywood and Vine means something a lot different now than it has to Los Angelinos. For them, it’s always been a famous L.A. cross-street. But these days, in a post-Facebook twenty-first century, it represents a new and fruitful relationship between two titans of culture.

    Since Vine’s launch in 2012, the Twitter-owned video app has been looping millions of six-second videos to a predominantly young demographic. And nobody’s six-second videos get looped more than King Bach, Vine’s most followed user. Bach, 26, has over eleven million followers and is truly the current King of Vine. He has bigger aspirations though, and is getting ready to conquer his next kingdom—Hollywood itself.

    It’s a long time coming. Even before he joined Vine in 2013 and earned his fanbase with his quirky six-second sketches, Andrew Bachelor studied at the New York Film Academy and The Groundlings. It was as a struggling actor laboring in the audition mines that Bachelor adopted the stage name King Bach.

    Since breaking out on Vine, Bach has already scored guest roles on The Mindy Project and Wild ‘N’ Out. It was a short jump from mobiles to TV and now a shorter jump from TV to movies as Bach has five upcoming movie projects in production. He’s even playing himself in the Zac Efron vehicle We Are Your Friends.

    Bach has no plans to retire from Vine, however, appreciating the network he’s building his empire from. He likens himself to Will Smith, who gained movie superstardom from his sitcom role as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. While the Fresh Prince can still dominate the box office, there’s a good chance he’ll be competing with a King someday very soon.

    March 16, 2015 • Acting, Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 20633

  • AFA Filmmaking Grad to Screen ‘Ticketed’ at Cannes

    ticketed

    It cannot be stressed enough how valuable social media and crowdfunding have become in terms of independent filmmaking. As a student filmmaker working on a strict budget, it’s often times an essential part of pre-production. AFA Filmmaking graduate Shantal Freedman took full advantage of this avenue, launching a successful crowdfunding campaign back in September 2014 which raised enough money to get her through the production of her film Ticketed. Freedman recently turned to fans to launch another crowdfunding campaign to raise $7,000 to finish her thesis film.

    This May, Freedman will premiere her film, Ticketed, at the Cannes Short Film Festival. The film focuses on a small town cop, Jackie, who spends most of her time writing out parking tickets. As a trained police officer, all Jackie wants is a little more action: to bust a bunch of bad guys like the cops on TV. When the opportunity knocks, a group of miscreants seize the chance to steal a winning lottery ticket worth $60,000,000.

    However, fate has other plans when the ticket falls into the safekeeping of Jackie. When the thugs attempt to reclaim the ticket by any means necessary, Jackie winds up on the run.

    “More than anything in the world, I want to make movies that as many people as possible can see,” said Freedman. “I also want to get some sort of enjoyment out of it by putting the audience in a better place after viewing the film than they were before viewing it.”

    Freedman also hopes to change the status quo in terms of females in the film industry. She hopes to bring more females in front of the camera with deeper characters and equal representation.

    ticketed set

    The writer, Andrew Freedman, and Shantal have developed Ticketed into a feature. They also have several other scripts that they are shopping around in the horror genre. Ultimately, Shantal hopes to direct action/adventure films.

    She is also busy working at several entertainment companies in Los Angeles. She interns for the renowned casting director, Risa Bramon Garcia, and will be helping her as she starts to cast the 3rd season of Masters of Sex. She works for the talent management company, The Robb Company, and the talent management company, Jump Start Talent, where she is on a track to becoming a manager.

    Freedman’s advice for current students currently working on short films: “You’ll be your best and your happiest if you go all in and commit 100% to the film. If you do that, you’ll tackle every challenge and you’ll be the most pleased with your work at the end.”

    March 16, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1206

  • NYFA Instructor Produces ‘Bad Hair Day'; Disney’s Big Hit

    Disney Original Bad Hair DayIn a rare occurrence, it is Friday the 13th for the second month in a row.

    While this month’s 13th is sure to have its fair share of entertainment news, a month ago marked the premiere of Disney’s Bad Hair Day.

    The original feature film was a huge hit with several younger key demographics, and we are proud to say that Denise Carlson, a NYFA senior producing instructor in Los Angeles, was a executive producer on the project.

    Bad Hair Day, which stars Disney Channel’s Laura Marano and Leign-Allyn Baker, amassed 4 million views, making it the #1 kids’ cable TV film for the year, and the #2 cable TV movie overall.

    The audience was comprised of 2 million viewers age 2-11 (5.1 rating), 1.6 million viewers age 6-11 (6.9 rating) and 1.4 million viewers among Tweens 9-14 years old (5.9 rating).

    While the public television premiere was on February 13th at 8PM, verified users of the Watch Disney XD app got early access on February 6th. During that week of the early release, 435,000 viewers saw the movie on tablets, phones, computers, and set boxes.

     

     

  • Julie Pacino Producing Mary Pickford Biopic


    Mary Pickford is finally getting the Hollywood treatment from the Hollywood she helped to create. Pickford, the curly-haired ingénue considered cinema’s first “America’s Sweetheart” was a huge star in the silent era and early days of Hollywood.

    Pickford wasn’t just one of the first starlets of the silver screen—she was also a powerful force behind the camera. During her career, she co-founded two significant institutions. The first, with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, was United Artists, a studio controlled by actors and filmmakers in an attempt to wrest power from the major studios. UA continues as a major producer to this day as part of MGM.

    Pickford’s other contribution was even greater—she was one of the original 36 co-founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the organizations of cinema’s professionals in all fields and provider of the annual Oscars. Pickford won two Academy Awards herself, a Best Actress Oscar for 1929’s Coquette and an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar in 1976.

    It’s no surprise then that her fascinating life is being made into a film, adapted from Eileen Whitfield’s biography Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. The movie is being scripted by Josh Fagin and directed by Jennifer DeLia. DeLia is producing the film with Julie Pacino, a New York Film Academy graduate who co-founded Poverty Row Entertainment with DeLia. The two also collaborated on Billy Bates, the haunting look at a tortured artist. Pacino, the daughter of Al Pacino, is the perfect choice to tell the story of a Hollywood legend.

    March 12, 2015 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1276

  • Husband & Wife Grads Release ‘Bridenapping’ in Kazakhstan

    A husband and wife team from Kazakhstan, who are both New York Film Academy MFA alumni, Askar Bissembin and Bayan Yerimbet have just released their feature film, romantic comedy Bridenapping (Svadba Na Troih). Bissembin was the writer/director of the film while Yerimbet produced.

    In the film, Azamat agrees to kidnap his best friend’s bride Alia, according to Kazakh ancient tradition. But when his family mistakenly believes Alia Azamat’s wife-to-be, he has to marry his best friend’s fiancée.

    The film was their final project that they developed while at NYFA — Askar in Filmmaking and Bayan in Producing.

    “Thanks to NYFA teachers, Bridenapping developed into a solid story,” said Yerimbet. “After returning to Kazakhstan, I was able to produce the feature.”

    Bridenapping was released all over Kazakhstan on March 5th, 2015.

    The husband and wife team are already in pre-production on a sequel.

    March 12, 2015 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 727

  • NYFA Grad Rohit Gupta Releases Trailer for ‘Midnight Delight’

    midnight delightDot and Feather Entertainment dropped the first movie teaser trailer for their upcoming Midnight Delight, a comedy surrounding a set of characters who get into hilarious antics as they try to make sense of their lives through conversations with people they have never met before. The narrative throws hits us with several uncanny situations throughout the film.

    The feature film was written and directed by New York Film Academy alumnus Rohit Gupta (Life! Camera Action…Another Day Another Life) and co-produced with Saumin Mehta, who is also credited for most of its post-production. Gupta’s earlier productions have won numerous international awards and recognition from around the world including at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

    The movie stars: Alexandra Hellquist, Shaheed Woods, Michele Suttile, Dipti Mehta, Rachel Myers, John Crann, Michael Laguerre, Adit Dileep, Sofia Sivan, Bill McCrea, Maggie Alexandar, Josh Echevarria and Michael Lester.

    Initial response to the newly posted 50-second teaser has been favorable. Tantalizingly edited to offer a sneak preview that whet fans’ appetite without revealing too much, it has been described as “One of the best teasers from the independent film circuit and Indian-American filmmakers.” It features actors Rachel Myers, Shaheed Woods, Michele Suttile, John Crann and new comer Michael Laguerre.

    The movie is slated to release later this year.

    Until then get your first exclusive look here.

    Midnight Delight – Official Movie Teaser Trailer #1 [HD] from DotandFeatherfilms.com on Vimeo.

    March 12, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 856