allan ungar

  • NYFA Filmmaking Grad Allan Ungar To Direct Upcoming Thriller “Decoy”


    NYFA filmmaking alumnus Allan Ungar will direct feature thriller “Decoy,” blazing his path in the action film genre. “Decoy” follows the success of Ungar’s film “Gridlocked,” which has found distribution with digital giant Netflix.

    “Decoy” has already gained buzz in the Hollywood Reporter. Heavy hitters including actors Andy Garcia, Frank Grillo and Tyler Posey and producers Andrew Gunn, Michael Bien, Henry Less, Sissy Federer, Tom North, Tannaz Anisi and Greg Schenz are already attached to the action project.

    The NYFA Blog had a chance to catch up with Allan to hear more about “Decoy” and life in the director’s chair.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    AU: When I was in my early teens I was looking for a film school that was intensive through its education, but that would also allow me to have a hands-on experience. When I found out NYFA had a location in LA, I immediately knew that I had to go.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us?

    AU: My favorite NYFA moment was walking onto the Universal backlot for the first time and getting to direct a short film on the standing set from the original “Jurassic Park.”

    NYFA: What was the inspiration behind your upcoming feature “Decoy,” and how did this project come about?

    AU: “Decoy” was a script that my manager sent me two years ago, and I remember not being able to read it the night I received it due to a dinner meeting. The person I was seeing happened to be running late, so I began reading the script on my phone. Next thing I knew, I finished the script and hadn’t realized I was there for over an hour! The person never showed up either!

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience shopping “Decoy” to backers at TIFF? What was that process like, and did anything surprise you while there?

    AU: The reception at TIFF was extremely positive and welcoming, although I left most of the business to my producers.

    NYFA: When pulling together a major feature like “Decoy,” do you have any personal rituals or advice you follow to help you with the process that you can share with our students?

    AU: I try to read the script and work with the actors as much as possible beforehand. By breaking down the story and characters in depth, I find that it better prepares me for any changes or curveballs that are headed my way.

    I also like to watch films with similar tones and visual styles as a way to get into the world of the film. Pre-production is where the film lives or dies, so it’s always crucial to utilize whatever time you have to communicate your vision to the department heads and actors.

    NYFA: ou met your “Gridlocked” collaborator Rob Robol while still studying at NYFA. Has the NYFA community played any part in “Decoy”? If so, how? 

    AU: NYFA has played a large role in where I am now, and while there are no direct relationships being used on this film, I would say that the school enabled me to grow as a filmmaker and learn how to foster relationships as a whole.

    NYFA: What has been your greatest lesson in helming major feature film projects?

    AU: My biggest takeway would be that it doesn’t matter how many times you do it, you will always encounter the unexpected and continue to learn more about yourself and the process each time. I try to remember that it’s also okay to be nervous, so as long as you are as prepared as possible and know the material inside and out.

    NYFA: If you could next do a movie in a completely different genre besides action films, what would it be and why?

    AU: I’d love to tackle a drama; something that’s more intimate and all about the actors. I feel like because it would be something outside my wheelhouse it would be a good challenge.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?

    AU: I’m looking at a couple projects for later but nothing I can speak about yet.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Allan Ungar for sharing some of his story with our community.

  • TIFF 2017 Highlights NYFA Alumni Film Work Including “Pahuna,” “Waru,” and “Decoy”


    The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a seminal event of the film industry’s calendar, and is in full swing this year from Sept. 7-17. Celebrities, filmmakers, producers, critics, and cinephiles travel to Toronto from around the world to screen and celebrate new films from rising names and established stars.

    This year, as part of its mission of “changing the way people see the world through film,” TIFF is screening a number of groundbreaking, buzz-worthy films — and a few were created by and with NYFA alumni.

    Pahuna: The Little Visitors

    Produced by global superstar Prayanka Chopras and her mother Dr. Madhu Chopra through their production company Purple Pebble Pictures, “Pahuna: the Little Visitors” has garnered a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in its Special Event category screening. NYFA filmmaking alumna Pragya Rathor partnered with the film’s first-time director, Paakhi Tyrewala of Bonfire Tales production company, to work on the shoot.

    Described as a “contemporary Indian version of Hansel and Gretel,” the film grants viewers a rare glimpse of Northeast India as it weaves a fable-like story of three children who are forced to flee their Nepalese village and become separated from their parents in the forest, adapting to survive together. Through this rarely seen portrayal of a typically voiceless region of India, the film brings larger issues such as children’s rights, racism and refugee crises to the global stage.


    NYFA alumna Renae Maihi’s work in feature film “Waru” has made an paradigm-shifting international debut, screening at TIFF in its Discovery section as well as opening for 2017 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in October, which according to Screenz is the world’s largest platform for indigenous media.

    According to Stuff, the innovative feature contains eight separate narratives written and directed by nine different Maori women. New Zealand Film Commission told the magazine, “With ‘Waru,’ there has not been a narrative feature film helmed by a Māori woman since Merata Mita’s ‘Mauri’ in 1988. Having a film made by nine wahine Māori screening in Toronto feels like a positive step toward addressing this, with the opportunities the festival can provide for these filmmakers.”

    TIFF programmer Jane Schoettle praised the “Waru,” saying it’s “like nothing anybody has seen before.”


    Another exciting NYFA-TIFF connection comes via The Hollywood Reporter’s announcement that NYFA alumnus Allan Ungar will be at TIFF this year, working with 13 Films to shop new feature project “Decoy” to buyers.

    Heavy hitters including actors Andy Garcia, Frank Grillo and Tyler Posey and producers Andrew Gunn, Michael Bien, Henry Less, Sissy Federer, Tom North, Tannaz Anisi and Greg Schenz are already attached to the action projec. Director Allan Ungar wrote “Gridlocked,” which was acquired by Netflix.

  • High School Camp Grad ‘Tapped’ For First Feature


    New York Film Academy high school summer camp graduate, Allan Ungar’s first feature film, Tapped, has been picked up for distribution by Lionsgate Home Entertainment in the US and VVS Films in Canada.

    “Allan made the best films of any camper I’ve ever seen,” said former Teen Camp faculty member and associate producer, Rob Robol.

    Tapped stars Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens), UFC supertsars Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Krzysztof Soszynski, Nick Bateman (Hobo With a Shotgun) and Martin Kove (The Karate Kid). The Canadian Mixed Martial Arts action drama revolves around the life of a disgruntled teenager with a troubled past who enters a MMA tournament to face the man who killed his parents. The film is shooting in London, Ontario and is slated for release in 2014.

    The film was produced by Canadian production company Hackybox Pictures and NYFA alum Alex Lebo’s Oriahsphere Entertainment.



    April 16, 2014 • Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5325