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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Writes Feature Film Un Regalo Esencial

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Elizabeth Soto-Lara can now add a feature film to her list of screenwriting credits after finishing production on the film Un Regalo Esencial (An Essential Gift). Not only is she the film’s screenwriter, but Soto-Lara also served on set as the First Assistant Director.

    Un Regalo Esencial was filmed in more than 30 locations in Costa Rica over the course of about ninety days. It was co-written and directed by Jose Mario Salas Boza. Both Boza and Soto-Lara graduated from the New York Film Academy’s Fall ’16 MA Film & Media program. 

    The film tells the story of a grandfather who relives the memories of his first romantic relationship to share life lessons with his grandchild about the consequences of jealousy and insecurity. It merges genres of romance, drama, comedy, and musical, and looks to make its audience ride a rollercoaster of emotions. Its setting ranges from the 1980s to the near future, all in a running time of about 90 minutes. 

    Un Regalo Esencial stars notable Costa Rican actors Viviana Calderon and Pablo Rodriguez, as well as featuring Mauricio Hoffman and Norval Calvo in supporting roles. It is currently in post-production and will be released in October 2018.

    Soto-Lara is a Mexican filmmaker who has been writing for television and film for more than four years. She has written and directed more than 10 short films within both Mexico and the US. Soto-Lara won the award for Best Short Film at the Mexico International Film Festival for her film Restored, which was originally her NYFA thesis film. Restored is also an Official Selection at the 2019 Los Angeles CineFest.

    Of her work on Un Regalo Esencial, Soto-Lara remarked, “It was an unforgettable experience to be able to be on set and see how the words I put on paper came to life. I feel very lucky and thankful to have had this opportunity to share a beautiful story, make friends from around the globe, and learn in the process.”

    She continued, “This experience will remain as an indelible mark in me for the rest of my life.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Elizabeth Soto-Lara’s on her well-earned success and encourages her and the rest of our students to continue writing and keep sharing their stories.

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    August 8, 2018 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 893

  • Actor Cameron Dean Speaks About His Time at New York Film Academy Australia


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    Cameron Dean completed the Acting for Film program offered at New York Film Academy’s Gold Coast campus and has since relocated to Vancouver, Canada. He has worked on a number of projects including Kong: Skull Island and Thor: Ragnarok in Australia, as well as the latest campaign for Lamborghini, shot in Vancouver.

    Speaking of his experience at New York Film Academy (NYFA) Australia, Dean stated he most enjoyed “how interactive and hands on it was” and how It offered him the opportunity “to create and express myself in a safe environment with other like-minded individuals.”

    Dean continued, “The lecturers at NYFA were always helpful and professional; their guidance throughout my entire journey was a step above, and I am where I am today because they brought out the best in me.”

    “When you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life,” he added. “When I was at NYFA it never felt like work, whether I had a 1200-word essay to hand in or doing research for a character, it was all just fun because it’s a part of being an actor. Finding answers and bringing a character to life and giving him or her the voice is what makes this job beautiful.”Cameron Dean

    Dean spent time on the sets for both Kong: Skull Island and Thor: Ragnarok while still a student of the Acting for Film program, allowing him “to get firsthand training on big production sets with A-List actors.” He credits NYFA for preparing him for the film industry by “stripping away my inhibitions which held me back from expressing myself creatively. NYFA set me up with the necessary tools to confidently break down a script, add depth and layers to a character, and take an organic performance into the audition room or on screen.”

    With plans to stay on in Canada, Dean hopes to sustain his career as a working actor and explore stunt performance for action films. “Things I want to achieve as an actor are to play a lead in an action film and do a lot of my own stunt work, for example a John Wick or a Jason Bourne style film.” Dean keeps himself motivated with boxing to increase his fitness and gather skills for the action film genre, and has also started writing him own material.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Cameron Dean and wishes him continued success!

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    August 6, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 512

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Jordan Abbey-Young Finishes Feature Film Shoot

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film graduate Jordan Abbey-Young is living the Aussie dream – originally a boy from the bush, he recently finished shooting on the feature film Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan. The Vietnam War drama was filmed at Village Roadshow Studios on Australia’s Gold Coast, adjacent to the New York Film Academy Australia campus co-located in Southport, Queensland. 

    Abbey-Young plays the role of Private Ron Eglinton alongside stars Richard Roxburgh and Travis Fimmel, best known for playing Ragnar on the History Channel’s original series Vikings.

    Abbey-Young stated that NYFA provided “an environment where you could build that personal network of like-minded people all there for a common goal. In this industry you’re nothing without each other, and the relationships NYFA gave me (good and bad, not everyone gets along), have done nothing but propel me as a person and as an all-round creative individual.”Jordan Abbey-Young

    In preparing for entering the industry after completing his training, Abbey-Young says that his teachers “were very realistic people who got on the level with you. That more personable aspect is a huge benefit to NYFA, I feel. It’s a hard industry and having the people teaching you giving you that blunt reality at the same time, it makes you take things on board a lot more if you’re serious about giving it a go.”

    He continued, “My motto has always been ‘Live Life Like A Movie’, so I’ve always had a very internal and a very narrated perspective of my life like it was being filmed.”

    Along with his role in Danger Close, Abbey-Young will appear in another feature titled The Last Video Store. “It’s comprised of a lot of NYFA family from graduated actors, to filmmakers and lecturers, which has been really fun,” he added. As for his future, “I’ll probably go back to robbing banks and doing auditions,” he joked. “Keep an eye out for an eight-part web series entitled Don’t @ Me next year — a very talented lad decided I was worth putting in front of the camera for it.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Jordan Abbey-Young and wishes him continued success!

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    August 6, 2018 • Acting, Entertainment Australia, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 256

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Movie Magic Award Recipients Announced

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    New York Film Academy’s Katherin Hussein and Robert (Bobby) Gutierrez are the most recent recipients of Entertainment Partners’ Movie Magic Scholarship Producer Award. The scholarship is sponsored by Movie Magic, a software program for production professionals. Both students come from the Spring ’16 MFA Filmmaking Feature Track.

    Katherin Hussein is a Spring ’16 MFA Filmmaking graduate at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. Originally hailing from Venezuela, Katherin is currently in development on her first feature film, The Unfinished. The film is about a recently orphaned twelve-year-old who girl who must stop a monster before it destroys her mother’s legacy. The monster is from an unfinished painting.

    With this award, Katherin is recognized for her outstanding development effort on The Unfinished, including the creation of a beautifully crafted and visually powerful proof of concept to support her fundraising efforts.

    Robert (Bobby) Gutierrez is a Spring ’16 MFA Filmmaking graduate at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. A native of Wyoming, Bobby has an extensive background as both an actor and director on stage and in films. He is in development on his film directorial debut, Safe, about a death row inmate who relives his time spent with a wild young couple on a deadly crime spree across the badlands of Montana.

    Bobby is recognized for his outstanding development of the film’s script, adapted from a play by Ron Fitzgerald.  A consistently excellent and ambitious student, he is a very worthy recipient of this recognition.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Katherin and Bobby on their well-deserved awards and looks forward to the completion of their feature films and to all their future successes! 

    Interested in studying filmmaking? Check out more information on New York Film Academy’s programs here.

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    August 3, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 590

  • Q&A With New York Film Academy Documentary Alum Carolina Sosa

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    Carolina Sosa graduated in 2017 from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles campus with a Master of Fine Arts in Documentary. Since then she’s been hard at work on Trumphobia, a feature-length film that originally started as her thesis documentary.

    Carolina is one of many notable alumni and faculty to hail from the NYFA Documentary School, including instructor Kristen Nutile, who edited the Oscar-, Peabody-, and Emmy-nominated Heroin(e) on Netflix, and RBG’s director of photography and NYFA Documentary professor Claudia Raschke. Ranked as a top documentary filmmaking school for the past eight years, holding a coveted spot on The Independent Magazine’s list of the Top 10 Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers, the New York Film Academy’s documentary program aims to prepare students for the practical challenges, opportunities, and realities that arise when creating documentary films. Carolina Sosa

    Only 27, Carolina has already amassed several awards and honors for her work in documentary filmmaking. She received the award for Best Film at the Los Angeles Television, Script, and Film Festival and the Award of Excellence from the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards for her documentary short Exit the shelter. She was also invited by CinemaFest 2014 to adapt movies for the blind and deaf after directing Okurelo Cine in 2013.

    It was no surprise, then, when NYFA alum Carolina Sosa recently received a $10,000 grant from the Rogovy Foundation, an organization that works “to build a more enlightened and harmonious planet,” and supplies grants to documentaries and other “highly targeted projects which will have a measurable impact.”

    Recently, Carolina spoke with the New York Film Academy about her film Trumphobia, her time at NYFA, and other projects she is currently working on:

     

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Carolina Sosa (CS): I’m from Uruguay, I’m 27 years old, and I got a Fulbright scholarship to study a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking, and NYFA was the school that gave me the highest tuition award from all the schools that I have applied; also the program was located in Los Angeles.

    NYFA: Why have you decided to focus on documentary filmmaking?

    CS: I like to use art as a tool for change. I believe that reality is often more fascinating than fiction, and I want to dedicate my life to tell true stories that inspire, promote justice, and can make a difference in this world. And also, because I love to travel and share my view with others.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your film Trumphobia?

    Carolina SosaCS: Trumphobia: what both sides fear (tentative title) is a feature documentary about the political division in the United States and how Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric increased that division with the help of the mainstream media. On one side, he gave strength and safety to his supporters and, on the other side, he imposed fear and anger on his opponents, which led to major confrontations, protests, and counter-protests across the country. Trumphobia analyzes the reasons for the political division, provides a moving description of Trump’s supporters along with the people who are most affected by Trump’s policies, and proposes empathy and compassion for all as a possible solution to the turmoil. The documentary has the participation of the Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, New York Senator Michael Gianaris, Berkeley professor of cognitive science and linguistics George Lakoff, Ph.D., professor of psychology and social behavior Peter H. Ditto, six hate crime victims and witnesses from both sides, representatives of major organizations, many of Trump’s supporters and opponents, and includes footage from more than thirteen debates, marches, and protests across six states.

    NYFA: What inspired you to make Trumphobia?

    CS: The documentary started as part of my master’s thesis. I was looking for a subject matter right when Trump got elected, and I thought that making a documentary about a current topic that affected millions of people was worth my long work. Especially because I wanted to portray both sides of the story — his supporters and opponents — and I wasn’t seeing much about the right side on the media, so I wanted to be one of the first ones to make a documentary that actually tried to be objective when it comes to politics. The good thing is that most of the crew was international, so we all had an outsider perspective that allowed us to listen without immediately judging. And the one thing that got my attention the most was the articles about hate crimes related to the election and the violent confrontations between people, so it’s not about Trump’s policies — it’s about critical thinking and how moral values determine our worldview. I believe we are all biased, and we need to be more empathetic with others to overcome our differences.

    NYFA: How did you find out about the Rogovy Foundation grant?

    CS: Thanks to NYFA, I became a member of the International Documentary Association and, through their website, I searched for all the grants that I could apply and that’s how we heard about the Rogovy Foundation. We have applied for more than ten different grants, it’s a long and tedious job to prepare all the documents and materials for each grant, but it was worth it because we got their Miller / Packan Film Fund for the postproduction of our film, and they have been very supportive. Moreover, the IDA accepted our project and they became our fiscal sponsor, so that’s also good news.

    NYFA: That’s great news! What are your plans for Trumphobia?

    CS: For the thesis, I made the first 20 minutes of the film and, since September 2017 when I graduated, I have been working on the 90-minute version. It took me a lot of time because I started working as an editor right after school, and so I have been very busy. But I have never given up, even without money or with a full-time team, I truly believe in the message of the movie and I’m very proud of the result so far, thus we are still working on it. We shot the movie during a year almost and there is always a new thing with Trump, so it takes a lot of work to edit many hours of footage and do constant research, but we are almost there. We are planning to have a final cut that we can send to the Sundance Film Festival in September, and then really finish the movie in October. After that, we will send it to more festivals and try to find online distribution immediately.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

    CS: For the 1-year project of the school, GuangLi Zhu and I made a short documentary about the killing of pets in animal shelters, called Exit the shelter, and I have been promoting that short as well. We received the award of Best Film at the Los Angeles Television, Script and Film Festival and an Award of Excellence at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, and we are still waiting to see other festivals’ results. GuangLi was one of my classmates and he is back in China now, but I have partnered with the LA Animal Services and other shelters, so we recently did a screening of the short and a fundraising event to help the pets in two different shelters. Meanwhile, I work as an editor, producer, and cinematographer at Dame Dash Studios; right now I’m editing a documentary about a trip to China for them, but I’m also working as a camerawoman for Harrison Engle (former president of IDA) for one of his documentaries. And every once in a while, I work freelance on other small projects. I’m a workaholic, I work eight hours (or more) at my job every day, then I get home and I work four hours on Trumphobia, and on the weekends it’s all about Trumphobia.

     

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on Trumphobia, or your work in general?

    CS: The documentary department at NYFA was very helpful with my project Trumphobia. Since the topic was so urgent, they allowed me to borrow the equipment in November 2016, while all my other classmates shot their thesis in June 2017. I pitched the project when Trump got elected and I asked them if I could travel across the U.S. in the winter holidays so I can shoot what I needed, and with almost no bureaucracy involved they said yes, so I’m always thankful for that. They gave me the freedom to do what I wanted and the resources that I needed when I asked for it, because I shot through the whole year several times and they never said no. I can imagine that this could have been very different in other schools. NYFA gave me the tools that I needed to feel prepared to shoot across the country with little resources.

    Carolina SosaNYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    CS: My advice to new students is to think big, work hard, go to all the events, conferences, and workshops that you can (even the ones that are not related to your degree); go out, meet people, build your network, and apply to as many grants, scholarships, and festivals that you can — you never know who you are going to meet, what you are going to receive, and what you are going to learn.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Carolina Sosa on her recent grant and looks forward to the completion and distribution of Trumphobia and Carolina’s continued career!

    Interested in learning documentary filmmaking? Check out more information on New York Film Academy’s programs here!

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  • Q&A With New York Film Academy Alum and The Equalizer 2 Actor Kazy Tauginas

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    Kazy Tauginas is an artist who wears many hats. He’s an actor, having appeared in television shows such as Sneaky Pete, Blindspot, Person of Interest, Turn, Blue Bloods, and Law & Order: SVU, and blockbuster films including John Wick and The Equalizer 2. He’s also a producer and writer, having worked on an award-winning and very personal short film, Standing Eight.

    Tauginas grew up outside of Chicago, and was a restauranteur and Golden Gloves boxer. In 2009, he decided to follow his lifelong passion in writing and acting, and attended the 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory at the New York Film Academy’s New York City campus. He has been performing steadily since graduating, which isn’t just a testament to his talents. Taguinas is also extremely committed to his art, putting everything he has into every role. “No matter what the project,” he says, “I want to always be the best me I can be.”

    Tauginas can currently be seen in theaters with Denzel Washington in the follow-up to The Equalizer, directed by Antoine Fuqua. He recently spoke with the New York Film Academy about his time on set, his award-winning film Standing Eight, and the continuing experiences that make him the storyteller he is today:

    Kazy Tauginas

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Kazy Tauginas (KT): I grew up just outside of Chicago. Attended the University of Delaware for undergrad. After college, I ended up running a 24-hour diner for 4+ years. When my lease was up, and of no fault of my own, I was forced to walk away from the restaurant business. This event brought me to a fork in the road career-wise. I decided to follow my heart and go after my true dream, which was acting and writing. That life-changing decision led me to NYFA, where I graduated from the Acting for Film Conservatory program in August 2009.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you most about this craft, and what stories are you most passionate about telling?

    KT: I’ve always had an affinity for film since I was a child. I can probably trace back most of my notable childhood events to the films that coincided with them that particular year.  I was also an only child, so I had to keep myself entertained. I would create epic adventures for my G.I. Joes. I would run around the backyard pretending I was Indiana Jones. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized I actually enjoyed performing.

    Standing Eight

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    What appeals most to me about acting is the ability to step into the shoes of others. Being able to experience different human emotions and walk away (mostly unscathed). I love creating characters. I love being able to surprise people. When I was younger, I always enjoyed a good action movie. But I feel now, as I’ve matured, I prefer films with strong performances — the genre doesn’t matter. If the performances in the films are rooted in truth, I’m entertained. At the end of the day, I just want to be truthful on screen and take people on an emotional ride.

    NYFA: You’ve recently produced a short film called Standing Eight. Can you talk about this project, and what it took for you to make this film?

    KT: Standing Eight is an award-winning dramatic short film about a professional boxer who is forced to retire and contend with his life outside of the ring after being diagnosed with systemic lupus. It’s a story about a man who is trying to face the fact that he’s been beaten by a disease. The conflict only escalates when his former would-be opponent begins trolling him.

    This project was a labor of love. Through and through. My inspiration came from my mother, who has been fighting Systemic Lupus Nephritis since before I was born. Lupus affects millions of people around the globe, yet so few people even know what the disease actually does to the body. (It’s an autoimmune disease wherein the body’s own immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues.) Louis Peduto, Brian Kazmarck, and I made a hard commitment to work with each other in a Producer, Director, Writer/Actor capacity. I wrote the first draft of the film at the end of 2014. From that point, we went through multiple drafts of the screenplay, two successful Kickstarter campaigns (one for actual production, one for post-production). Principal, post, festival submissions, and finally an incredibly successful indie festival run. The film was an Official Selection at 28 festivals worldwide. We were nominated for 22 various awards. In the end, we took home 11 different festival awards and 4 Honorable Mentions. I think the film is accomplishing what I originally set out to do, which was raise lupus awareness.  Just recently I was contacted by the Lupus Foundation of America, and we’re going to be working together to promote the release of Standing Eight on Amazon.

     

    NYFA: That’s incredible, congratulations. You’re currently co-starring in the Denzel Washington film The Equalizer 2. What was the casting process like for that?

    KT: My manager put together a push. Betty Mae Casting agreed to give me an opportunity, which I was and am eternally grateful for. We sent over a self-tape that same night. A week later I was on a plane to Boston. No callback. Straight off tape. I was told they did visit my website. (So, actors: have a website with all your materials readily available. You never know who’s looking.)

    NYFA: Any fun stories or lessons learned while on set for The Equalizer 2?

    KT: To be honest, the entire shoot was a blast. I was in Boston for almost three months. Shooting the climax was physically challenging, but WORTH EVERY SECOND. I worked incredibly hard with the stunt team to make sure I looked the part. I put in hours of training with the rifle. Huge shoutout to Jeff Dashnaw and Mick Gould. Jeff was the stunt coordinator and put together an incredible team. I’m sure Mick got sick of all my questions at some point, but I’m a perfectionist. I was hellbent on not being the weakest link.

    My favorite moment was definitely when I ad-libbed a bunch of lines and Antoine Fuqua absolutely loved it. He jumped out of the van, grabbed my shirt, and said “That’s what I’m talking about!!!” Having a director of that caliber — especially one who I’ve been a fan of for so many years — to give such positive feedback was overwhelming. It was one of those moments in life that just reaffirms that I’m on the right path.

    Kazy Tauginas and Denzel Washington

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    NYFA: How were your experiences different between Standing Eight and The Equalizer 2?

    KT: On Equalizer, my only function was to act. So it was relatively simple. Everything was laid out for me and all I had to do was bring my A-game. When you’re an actor, I tend to think of myself as one color on the canvas. When you’re a filmmaker, you’re a painter. On Equalizer I was paint. On Standing Eight, I was more of a painter. Standing Eight was a challenge because I had to wear so many different hats. Luckily, by the time we went to principal photography we had ironed out most of the producing and writing kinks, and I was able to concentrate on my performance. So my experience on Standing Eight was more complex. But to be honest, they were both incredibly rewarding, just on different levels.

    NYFA: Was there anything your experiences on Standing Eight and The Equalizer 2 had in common?

    KT: Absolutely. My commitment. Whenever I put my name on anything, I put my heart and soul into it. As an actor, Equalizer was the opportunity of a lifetime and I treated it as such. I felt exactly the same on Standing Eight. I wanted my painting to be perfect. No matter what the project, I want to always be the best me I can be.

    Kazy Tauginas

    Photo Credit: Sony

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on either Standing Eight or The Equalizer 2?

    KT: What didn’t I use? Everything you learn in acting school becomes applicable at different points in your career.

    NYFA: You’re currently working on the film Invisible Love, produced by NYFA Chair of Broadcast Journalism and Emmy Award-winning Bill Einreinhofer. What was the casting process for Invisible Love?

    KT: [Former NYFA Chair of Acting for Film] Peter Allen Stone and I are connected on social media and he’s been following my journey since I left school. My understanding is that Bill mentioned something to him about the project he was producing and needing talent. Peter threw my name out there. It just worked out splendidly. I auditioned for them. Apparently, I did well, so the offer came in. I love the character they want me to play. I’m really looking forward to working on it.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    KT: I’m currently working on a huge film for a streaming service with an incredibly talented cast. Unfortunately, that’s all I’m allowed to say. Invisible Love is supposed to go into production in the winter. As far as producing, I’m working on putting together a feature film with very similar elements as Standing Eight. It’s my dream to put lupus into mainstream dialogue so we can actually make finding a cure a reality.

    Kazy Tauginas

    Photo Credit: http://kazytauginas.com

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    KT: I have very fond memories of my experiences at NYFA. So I took full advantage of the program while I was there. I think I ended up doing about 50 student films by the time I graduated. I went to every Q&A — got to meet Melissa Leo and Christopher Plummer. I made lifelong friends with some of my classmates and teachers. I really did have wonderful teachers. Lea Brandenburg engrained in my brain that when you’re on camera, you keep it simple. I remember by breakthrough in learning how to cry in Peter Allen Stone’s voice and movement class. Dressing in drag as my activity in Meisner class. I did that because James Price said that “manly men” like me would never do something like drag. Challenge accepted, sir. Bela Grushka was always so encouraging of my work. 

    Our thesis film, which was directed by Victor Verhaeghe, was something my entire class was so proud of. We worked incredibly hard and made phone calls during our lunch break and sent out postcards to every single agent and manager in NYC to invite them to our screening. I really learned so much from that program. I feel like by the time I graduated, I was a different person.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    KT: Take advantage of everything NYFA has to offer. Go to workshops. Screenings. Talks with industry people. Meet filmmaking students. Meet writing students. Go to class prepared. Study. Shoot. Act. Apply everything you learn while you’re still in school. Find the other people who are as hungry as you are. Let your inhibitions go. LEARN. Be humble. You have to be a sponge to learn. Focus on the task at hand. Become the best you that you can be. 

    In 2009, I fully committed to being a creative. If I can do it, you can do it.

     

    The New York Film Academy thanks Kazy Tauginas for his generous time and thoughtful responses, and congratulates him on his current success. We look forward to seeing what the future brings for Kazy!

    If you are interested in learning Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy, you can find more information on our programs here.

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    July 31, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1140

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Avkash Mann Debuts Top 40 Song

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    Avkash Mann

    Avkash Mann
    Photo Credit: Facebook

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Avkash Mann released his debut single, Away, this July. It wasn’t long before it made the American Top 40 Charts on Spotify, along with artists like Ariana Grande and Beyonce Knowles. Mann is the son of prominent Punjabi singer-actor Harbhajan Mann, though he strives to gain credit and success through his own hard work and talent rather than any nepotism or celebrity advantage.

    Away is a soulful modern pop/R&B track, written and composed by Mann in addition to being performed by him. Mann released it with a beautifully shot black-and-white music video as well. The track is in English, though Mann plans on writing and releasing Hindi tracks in addition to Punjabi songs he’s also previously written.

    Mann told India New England News, “I always thought that if I write songs then I would want to write them for people who can relate to them. My music is inspired by what is going on around me. Not just my own life, but also my friends’ and close family’s lives.”

    Mann also focuses his artistry on introspection and positive values, avoiding topics like violence  and alcohol in his work, whether it is more socially-focused or more romantically-inclined. “I don’t want to promote anything that would wanna make people do something that is detrimental to themselves or people around them,” he continued.

    In the same article, in addition to expanding on why he doesn’t rely on his father’s fame to further his own career, Mann mentions that he has “some film stuff in the pipeline too” — projects that he’ll elaborate on in the near future.

    In May 2017, Mann attended New York Film Academy’s 4-Week Acting for Film workshop. In the month-long course, acting students learn their craft with an emphasis on Stanislavsky’s System, scene study, and monologue work as starting points. In conjunction with their classes, students participate in courses aimed specifically at training the actor for the technical requirements of acting on a film set.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates alum Avkash Mann on his successful hit song, and looks forward to both his future musical and film projects! 

    If you are interested in attending New York Film Academy, you can find more information on our programs here.

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    July 27, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 20904

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Premiere Films at LA Shorts Fest

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    What do New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni Assem Yedgey, Dina Naji, and Zixian (Season) Ouyang have in common?  They all have thesis films premiering at the Los Angeles International Shorts Film Festival (LA Shorts Fest) July 25 – August 2!

    We sat down with the filmmakers right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences.  

    Escala by Assem Yedgey

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Assem Yedgey: Escala is about a young girl who must win a music competition in order to ease the financial burden on her single father, but her instructor’s obsession with her turns this dream into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. The film takes place in Los Angeles. 

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    AY: I learned that there is nothing that cannot be achieved and that you should always follow your heart. I decided that I wanted to have a 100% female crew to create opportunities for women. Throughout my pre-production almost everyone I know was telling me that it was a bad idea and that I wouldn’t be able to handle it, that I was severely limiting my choices in terms of crew.

    All I can say is that I have never before worked in a better environment. I am very grateful that I had an amazing producer by my side – Yulia Safonova. She supported me immensely, and when I was about to give up on my idea of having an all-female crew, she would say, “We can do this.” And we did it. Our crew were united and all of us wanted the best for Escala. I learnt that the most important thing is to listen what people are suggesting, but not always follow, instead to rather feel what is the best for the film. 

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    AY: I haven’t premiered my movie anywhere. LA Shorts Fest will be the official premiere, so this is an exciting new experience for me. I am thrilled to watch it with an audience and observe them and explore their reactions. This is my first festival and it is one of the most prestigious festivals; it is like a dream came true. I’m so grateful that I will be able to share my story with so many people and hopefully they will get something out of it. 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    AY: I want to say that without collaboration and the hard work of my cast and crew, Escala wouldn’t have been made. A huge thank you to everybody involved.

    Escala screens Saturday, July 28, at 9:55 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.

    assem

    Hind’s Case by Dina Naji

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Dina Naji: My film Hind’s Case was inspired by true events. I wanted to shine a light on one case in particular that happened in 2015 in a woman’s housing shelter in Saudi Arabia. The story follows Hind (20), who at a young age witnessed her father kill and bury her mother, then went on to suffer years of abuse at his hands. When Hind escapes from her abusive home, she gets sent to live in a housing shelter. While there, Hind makes the first friends she’s ever had, and enjoys the freedom away from her father. However, when the manager of the housing shelter informs Hind that her father has requested to take her home, Hind decides to take matters into her own hands and gets sent to the solitary confinement room in order to join her mother in heaven, as she can’t stand the thought of living with her father again.

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    DN: The process of making Hind’s Case with a fantastic cast and crew was amazing. As a director, I learned that if you want to make a film, you should have a cast and crew that are passionate about the story you want to tell and want to bring a story alive. 

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    DN: I am very thrilled to have my film screen for the first time in LA Shorts Fest, and it is a huge opportunity to show my film to many people who are coming from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a dream come true. 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    DN: I would like to thank all the crew, cast, and my teachers, especially Scott Hartmann and Tamera Daugherty-Martin, for all the support. And I want to thank the New York Film Academy for this opportunity. 

    Hind’s Case screens Friday, July 27, at 5:30 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.HInd's Case

     

    Love in Canton by Zixian (Season) Ouyang

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Season Ouyang: The movie is about an old woman accepting her husband’s death on her way to his funeral in Canton.

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    SO: I think I improved my directing skills, and it gave me more good ideas about how to direct a good musical film.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    SO: I am looking forward to more audiences seeing and enjoying my movie in this screening. I want people to know me! 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    SO: I want you guys to know my dream is to make Cantonese film be great again in the world! 

    Love in Canton is an official selection of the festival’s New Wave Chinese Filmmakers opening night program. It screens Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 4 pm downtown at Regal LA Live.Love in Canton

    Congratulations to Assem, Dina, and Season! For more information on the LA Shorts Fest, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://lashortsfest.com/

     

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    July 25, 2018 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 269

  • 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: 803

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum and Siblings Star Off-Broadway

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    This June, New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni Jameelah Rose Lineses and Joseph Lineses starred together in Mindanao: The Legend of Tabunaway, Mamalu and Their Descendants at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. In addition to both being graduates of the New York Film Academy, Jameelah Rose and Joseph are sister and brother.

    Jameelah Rose Lineses and Joseph Lineses

    Joseph Lineses and Jameelah Rose Lineses

    Mindanao: The Legend ran from June 21 – June 24, with both evening and matinee shows. Based on the oral tradition legend of the brothers Tabunaway and Mamalu, Mindanao: The Legend highlights the culture of the indigenous peoples and sultanates of the Southern Philippines. Mindanao: The Legend was written and directed by Potri Ranka Manis, who also devised the show’s concept and choreography.

    The production supports Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage, a dance ensemble founded in 1992 and devoted to preserving and educating people about the rich, vibrant culture of the Philippines. In addition to the production and additional shows and benefits, Kinding Sindaw also offers workshops and classes in Filipino dances. Its Executive Director is Potri Ranka Manis.

    Jameelah Rose and Joseph Lineses have been members of Kinding Sindaw for over eight months. Jameelah first attended New York Film Academy in June 2011, taking the 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop. Two months later, she enrolled in the 1-Year Filmmaking program at the New York City campus, where she was given hands-on training with state-of-the-art film equipment, and taught the skills necessary for pre-production through post-production.

    Since graduating, Jameelah has made multiple films, including Historic Jeddah, Our Journey to Hijaz, and The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah. These films have been screened in many festivals, and Jameelah has accumulated several awards for her efforts, including the IFFM Film Festival Director Louie Award Honorable Mention. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, and as a dancer and actress for Kinding Sindaw, she is also part of the media and marketing team for the nonprofit organization.

    Jameelah Rose Lineses

    Jameelah Rose Lineses

    Her brother, Joseph Lineses, attended New York Film Academy’s 4-Week Photography program in New York City. Joseph was born in Quezon City in the Philippines, but like his sister Jameelah, he was raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Portraying Mindanao: The Legend was very important to him because of his deep interest in his ancestors and the culture of the Southern Philippines.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates both Jameelah Rose and Joseph Lineses on their successful run of Mindanao: The Legend of Tabunaway, Mamalu and Their Descendants, and looks forward to the continued works produced by Kinding Sindaw. 

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    July 17, 2018 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1235