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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Zhuo Tan in Chinese Box Office Smash

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    Zhuo Tan, an alum of New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film Workshop, recently co-starred in the Chinese film, Dying to Survive. The comedy-drama is making headlines across China and the global filmmaking industry as one of the most successful films in the history of Chinese cinema.

    In May 2015, Zhuo Tan attended the New York Film Academy’s 4-Week Acting for Film workshop in Los Angeles, California. Dying to Survive isn’t Tan’s first role in a prominent film — she has also starred in the well-received films Wrath of Silence and Hello! Mr. Tree. She also appeared in Spring Fever, which won awards both at the Golden Horse and Cannes Film Festivals.

    In Dying to Survive, Tan plays a single mother. The comedy-drama is based on a true story, about a leukemia patient named Lu Yong who smuggled illegal medicine into China to help over a thousand other cancer patients. The film was directed by Wen Muye, who co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jianü and Zhong Wei. It was produced by Ning Hao and the movie’s star, Xu Zheng. Also starring in Dying to Survive are Zhou Yiwei, Wang Chuanjun, and Zhang Yu.

    Dying to Survive was an immediate hit with audiences, grossing nearly $50 million on its opening day alone, including preview screenings. In its opening weekend, it nearly quadrupled its take with just shy of $200 million in receipts, the fourth biggest opening weekend in China ever. As of this writing, its box office intake is $367 million, numbers tough for any film — even in Hollywood — to amass.

    The film has also been received well critically, with one reviewer saying it “might be China’s best movie of the year,” and who also credits Dying to Survive for “tackling difficult social issues.” This latter trend is growing — and paying off — for Chinese cinema, which has been around nearly as long as the medium of film itself, but of late has been coming into its own as part of both the global market and cultural landscape.

    China’s influence and importance to the cinematic arts is exactly why the New York Film Academy (NYFA) has established a presence there, having offered local workshops in Shanghai and Beijing. This summer, NYFA is hosting two workshops in the capital city. A 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop is currently in session this July, and another 1-Week Workshop will commence later in the summer.

    The Beijing workshops not only provide state-of-the-art equipment and instruction from experienced, working filmmakers from around the world, but allow students from many diverse backgrounds to work together to craft their art. With the backdrop of the rich cultural heritage offered by Beijing, these students can learn the techniques of filmmaking in a collaborative environment, and share and gain new perspectives from one another to tell their own stories.

    The Beijing workshops can also serve as stepping stones for these students in their journey as filmmakers, including to longer, more intensive programs at New York Film Academy’s other campuses, including Los Angeles. At the Los Angeles campus, where Zhuo Tan studied acting, students receive their education in the heart of Hollywood and can even hone their craft on the world-famous Universal Studios backlot.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates alumna Zhuo Tan on her latest role and looks forward to seeing her future successes! If you are interested in attending the New York Film Academy, you can find more information here.

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    July 19, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2655

  • Robin Wright Directs NYFA Alumna’s “The Dark of Night,” Which Premiered at Cannes

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    Beginning her career in Los Angeles as a literary agent assistant at the William Morris Agency in 1982, Denise Meyers always felt the drive to pursue screenwriting as her main career in life.

    “I thought that since I’d watched hundreds of movies growing up, I understood what went in to a good screenplay,” said Meyers in an interview with the Black List. “I wasn’t a terrible writer, but I wasn’t a great writer either.”

    the dark of night

    still from “The Dark of Night”

    After 12 years of exhausting her contacts with her material and getting nowhere fast, Meyers moved onto a different career as a gourd artist, but, at the end of the day, her heart wasn’t in it as much as screenwriting.

    “I set a goal for myself to learn how to write screenplays the way they are supposed to be written, with no expectation that I would ever get any farther in the film business than I had ever been before,” said Meyers. “I wanted to master the art form, in the same way I taught myself how to work with gourds.”

    Meyers took advantage of an 8-Week Screenwriting scholarship at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, where she hoped to truly master the craft.

    “I won an eight-week screenwriting scholarship to NYFA a few years ago, and the experience was invaluable,” she said. “I use everything I learned at NYFA in every script I have written since then, and it has helped elevate my career beyond what it was before.”

    Since attending NYFA, Meyers has won a number of screenwriting competitions, including a spot on the Athena List (with a script she wrote at NYFA), the Atlanta Film Festival, Table Read My Screenplay Austin, and several others.

    From there, she wrote a short screenplay called “The Dark of Night,” which won the grand prize at Table Read My Screenplay Austin in 2015.
    the dark of night
    “Denise Carlson, an instructor at NYFA, told me about a short script writing contest she had plans to participate in called the NYC Midnight Short Screenwriting Contest,” Meyers recalls. “Twelve hundred people from across the globe signed up to participate, so there were groups of 40 people each who were given a genre, a character and a setting. My group received the following prompts; suspense, a diner, and an unemployed man or woman. We had eight days to write 12 pages, then, if we survived each heat, we were given a new genre, character and setting. I came up with the idea almost immediately, though God knows where it came from. The story is set in 1930. A woman on her way to Chicago for a job interview seeks refuge in the diner where she encounters a waitress, a drifter, and a cop, each with dark and dangerous secret.”

    Meyers gave the script to Robin Wright’s assistant and, before she knew it, she was getting a call from Wright who wanted to direct the film, along with some of her cast members from “House of Cards.” In fact, 80 crew members from “House of Cards” signed on to work on the film including the director of photography, Dave Dunlap, and costume designer, Jessica Wenger. Boris Maldin, the producer of “House of Cards,” loaned his cameras and equipment.

    the dark of night

    Robin Wright with Denise Meyers

    After that, Leslie Bibb, Sam Rockwell, Callie Thorne and Michael Godere signed on to act in the film for scale.

    Meyer’s “The Dark of Night” recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The black and white film noir is about a woman seeking refuge from a storm who takes matters into her own hands when she encounters a drifter and a waitress at an isolated diner where everyone has a secret and nothing is what it seems.

    Meyers says she just finished a one-hour pilot episode based on “The Dark of Night” that she is developing with TV producer Michelle Rubenstein. She also completed a new feature about Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney that she hopes to get in front of Brad Pitt, and is currently working on a World War II drama about a battle in the Pacific that only a handful of people know about. Finally, she’s working on a web series based on her experiences as an award-winning screenwriter who still fixes toilets for a living.

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  • MFA Acting Alumna Wins Best Leading Actress at United International Film Festival

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    JuliaMFA Acting for Film alumna Sabrina Percario wrote and starred in the short film, “Julia,” which has performed quite well at several film festivals. Thus far the film has screened at United International Film Festival, where Percario won Best Leading Actress; Los Angeles Cine Fest, where the film was nominated for Best Short Film and Best Original Song (also composed by Percario); Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards, where the film won Jury Mention for Best Short Film; and the Glendale International Film Festival, where the film is in the running for Best Student Film.

    “Julia” is about a grieving woman, Sarah, who cannot dare to leave home and study abroad until her mom visits and encourages her to follow her life’s passion. From there, Sarah has to choose between her grief and her dreams.

    “I wanted to do a tribute to my mom, Olga ‘Julia’ Gomes Percario,” said Percario. “She always believed in me and doing this movie was my way to say how grateful I am for everything she taught me in life.”

    julia

    Sabrina Percario wins Best Actress at United International Film Festival

    Percario’s mother passed two years ago and her film provides her point of view of how she dealt with the tragedy.

    “Once I accepted that she was dead, I understood more about life and how she wanted me to pursue and live my dreams,” says Percario. “For me it was really hard to leave my family and move to another country and be in Los Angeles…alone. What I wanted to say with this movie was: it is important to grieve and to accept death, but once you do that you are free to live your life and to follow your dreams.”

    The film also provided Percario with a platform to improve her writing skills while also creating a character that best suits her acting abilities.

    “NYFA taught me different acting techniques and assisted me during the development of my thesis,” said Percario. “During my MFA at NYFA, I learned how to be present in the moment — to connect with the other actor and react in a genuine way, instead of anticipating the reaction.”

    Percario is currently working on her first feature film, which is inspired by “Julia.” The temporary title is: “Julia – My American-Brazilian Jewish Mother.” Percario and her team plan to start filming in the beginning of 2017.

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    September 15, 2016 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3455

  • NYFA Alum Ioanna Meli Makes Waves with “A Little Part of You”

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    On November 23rd New York Film Academy Los Angeles students gathered to watch the award-winning short “A Little Part of You” by alumna Ioanna Meli. She and producer DJ Lopez shared their story of taking the thesis film to the festival circuit and ultimately a television premiere.

    Ioanna was raised in Athens, Greece. She studied theater arts in London and, after receiving an opportunity to work in film, decided to study acting directed towards film. She found herself here at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles enrolled in the 1 year acting conservatory, and subsequently the MFA program.

    ioanna nyfa

    For her thesis, Ioanna incorporated everything she learned from her classes and challenged herself by delving into her personal life to share a touching look at the tenacity of relationships with “A Little Part of You.” In the story, an actress receives the opportunity to star in a West End play, much to the chagrin of her lawyer boyfriend who’d be left behind in Los Angeles. “What I’d try to say with the story is to not be afraid to take a risk,” Ioanna notes. “Trusting that if it’s the right decision that the right people will be in your life no matter what.”

    Ioanna knew before making her film that she wanted to make something that could continue outside of the classroom. However, working as the writer, director, and star was a daunting task. She managed to make it happen with help from producer DJ Lopez. DJ advised the audience, “Take time in preproduction to get your ducks in a row, so the production runs smoothly.” That’s how DJ managed to acquire an actual airport for the culminating scene.

    Ioanna was also able to juggle her roles by having her co-director Jay Parupalli prep with her before shooting, so that she could concentrate on the role on set. With only 4 days to shoot, Ioanna and team took advantage of every ounce of opportunity. When they received their equipment in the evening, they shot at night instead of waiting for the day. This was how they were able to make both the 8-minute cut for the thesis guidelines, and a 20-minute version to send to film festivals.

    Meli and Lopez strongly encouraged the audience to do their research on festivals before submitting. It saves money and helps assess where your film is most likely to be chosen and even awarded. A Little Part of You received Best Short Film as well as Best Actress in a short film at New York City International Film Festival, Best Student Short at California International, and well received in Madrid and Ioanna’s hometown of Athens. “When you get the chance to bring a little bit of L.A. from where you come from, it’s really special,” she commented.

    ioanna nyfa

    At the HollyShorts Festival a TV executive took interest in the film, which is how A Little Part of You gained its television premiere on DirectTV Saturday, November 28th.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to seeing more from alumna Ioanna Meli and wish she and DJ Lopez great success in the future.

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    November 30, 2015 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3694