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  • “Acts of Desperation” Provides New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Credit & Experience Opportunity

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    Acts of DesperationThe Industry Lab of New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) has announced the completion of the feature film, Acts of Desperation, starring veteran actors Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, The Rocketeer) and Jason Gedrick (Backdraft, Dexter.) 

    The quirky thriller was sponsored by the Academy, but involved members of NYFA community as well. Faculty members Richard Friedman (director), Leslie Bates (producer), Neil Casey (director of photography), and Toi Juan Shannon (editor) were the forces behind the film, which afforded opportunities to NYFA alumni.

    Acts of Desperation starts with a woman on a bridge, desperate and considering jumping. But the real action begins when we meet Alan Grillo, a cop on the edge, obsessed over the fact that his wife is having an affair. At the same time, he is tracking a shrewd bank robber who is falling in love with the desperate and obsessed woman whose life he saved on the bridge. As if that’s not enough, the bank robber is also being blackmailed by two unhinged street criminals who will stop at nothing to get their money. Time is running out for all of them as their worlds collide in this unpredictable and compelling thriller centering on six individuals and their treacherous “acts of desperation.”Acts of Desperation

    Shot exclusively in Los Angeles, Acts of Desperation is the first feature credit for over 20 NYFA Filmmaking alumni through Industry Lab, a program designed to facilitate such opportunities. The production companies Scars of the Mind Picture Company and UnicVisions plan to produce many more films through the NYFA Industry Lab, offering even more occasions for our alumni to receive both experience and feature credits to add to their resumes. 

    A special screening will be announced later this month.

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    October 19, 2018 • Filmmaking, Industry Lab • Views: 196

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Sabrina Percario

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    Sabrina Percario has been very busy since graduating from New York Film Academy’s MFA program in Acting for Film. She has worked in multiple positions in film productions and has produced and acted in numerous multi-award-winning films, with several more on the horizon.

    Sabrina Percario

    Sabrina Percario

    Her journey to becoming a prolific and decorated actress and producer had an unconventional start. Born in Brazil, Percario originally worked for nearly a decade in medicine before gradually becoming immersed more and more in the world of drama. Her deep passion for the art and craft of filmmaking matches both her talent and her incredible work ethic.

    The New York Film Academy recently spoke with Sabrina Percario about the many hats she wears in the film industry, as well as what keeps her motivated and moving forward:

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

    Sabrina Percario (SP): I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and I have dual Brazilian and Italian citizenship. In college, I majored in biomedicine and for almost 10 years I worked in the field of Chinese traditional medicine. 

    I used to lead a lot of workshops in this field in front of large audiences of around 200 people — yet I was very shy. I decided I needed to do something to improve my effectiveness as a speaker. So in 2009 I went to an acting school called the Celia Helena Acting School. I immediately fell in love with acting. Acting is very fulfilling to me because I was always fascinated with human behavior. When you study a character, you put yourself in the place of that person. When you step into another person’s shoes, you suddenly understand why someone would act in a particular way. You stop judging people and, in the process, you learn more about yourself.

    I.C.E. CREAM at LAIFFA wins Best Producer - Sabrina Percario

    I.C.E. CREAM at LAIFFA wins Best Producer

    From 2011 until 2014 I worked as a drama teacher for children ranging in age from six to sixteen. Working with kids was one of my most satisfying life experiences. I learned to be more flexible and open to changes, more willing to let others lead the narrative, and more honest with myself about my feelings. During that period in my life I worked two jobs: I was an acupuncturist as well as a drama teacher.

    In November of 2013, I decided to enroll in NYFA so I could study my craft and improve my knowledge about acting for film.

    From 2014 to 2016 I worked on NYFA’s MFA program in Acting for Film. My thesis film Julia won several awards, including Best Leading Actress at the United International Film Festival (UIFF). Julia is a tribute to my mother, who died four years ago. I used the film to talk about grief and express my gratitude to my mom. She taught me to pursue my dreams — and that’s exactly what I am doing.

    NYFA: Your IMDB page is filled with all sorts of roles — actress, producer, writer, composer, to name just a few — do you feel it is important to learn as many trades in the film industry as possible?

    SP: Yes, it is very important. Everyone should learn as much as they can about the business, especially in the beginning of your career, so you have a holistic view of how a film is made. 

    It was important for me to wear many different hats on set. Having done these jobs, I have so much respect for all the departments. I know how physical and challenging the grips and electrical (G&E) department can be, and how essential they are in contributing to the director of photography’s view. 

    As an actress, I’m much more consistent and self-aware about continuity. That happened only after I was a script supervisor and had to take note of how full the wine glass was or its exact position on the table for every take. I learned similar things as a production designer and when I worked in the wardrobe department. All of this knowledge is tremendously helpful to my performance when I’m in front of the camera.

    For a year I explored all the different jobs on film sets and I realized I had to choose which department I liked the most and wanted to work with. I decided to be an actress and producer.

    As a producer I’m able to produce my own projects and cast myself in them. This gives me a certain amount of control over my career as an actress. I can also create my own voice with stories I think will inspire people. Being a producer has enabled me to meet a lot of people in different departments in the industry. The breadth of my extended network has helped me enormously as a producer when I’m casting my crew.

    As an actress, I want to be in a feature film. To that end I’m writing a feature film (In Search Of) inspired by my life. I want to say to all my international friends that it doesn’t matter where you are located as long as you keep doing what you love. I’m writing in collaboration with other screenwriters, both here in Los Angeles and internationally.

    Sabrina Percario in "Tell"

    Sabrina Percario in “Tell”

    I recommend trying out different departments if you still don’t know what you want to be. Become familiar with the universe behind the camera and then choose a route. Once you decide where you fit in, people will begin to associate your name with that specific department.

    NYFA: Is there something you haven’t done on a film yet that you’d like to try?

    SP: I would love to direct a film one day, but right now I want to have more experience producing one.

    NYFA: You’ve won a litany of awards for your work already. Your projects Tell, I.C.E. CREAM and Breaking are the latest to gain recognition. Can you talk a little about these projects and your roles in them?

    SP: My recent projects that I produced are still in the film festival circuit. My latest films are Breaking and I.C.E. CREAM. Breaking is a fable — it’s the inspiring story of a porcelain doll who overcomes her fears and breaks out of her snow globe. Our purpose was to bring awareness about those who have suffered from sexual harassment. So far, we have won three festivals, two finalists, seven semi-finalists, and seven official selections.

    I.C.E. CREAM is another project I had the honor of producing. This film portrays the life of an immigrant family in this new Trump era. Our purpose was to bring awareness about the collateral lives affected by the immigration policies in place. So far, we have won nine awards. 

    My overall purpose in my films is to touch people’s hearts, inspire them, and spread a good, positive message through the characters I play and the films I produce.

    Tell is a film in which I played the lead actress. Its logline reads: Expecting a visit from his ex, a once-famous alcoholic writer decides to play a game of shoot the apple, until the truth of tragedy unveils the outcome of his intentions. For that film I won three awards as best leading actress.

    "Breaking" produced by Sabrina Percario. Actress/ writer/Executive Producer: Alessandra Hajaj - Sabrina Percario

    “Breaking” produced by Sabrina Percario. Actress/ writer/Executive Producer: Alessandra Hajaj

    NYFA: Which of your many projects was the easiest for you to work on and why? Which was the most difficult?

    SP: Breaking was an easy project to produce because it was shot entirely in one location and the crew and cast had an amazing professionalism and respect for each other. Everything went smoothly. Julia was very challenging for me because I was doing the film as a tribute to my Mom, who died four years ago. When I made the film I was still grieving, and it was very hard for me at that time to accept the loss. I was playing myself in the film, so I channeled all my pain and feelings through the character. It was therapeutic to write, produce, and act in that film, and it helped me to accept loss. It gave me the opportunity to express my love in a poetic way.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on?

    SP: I’m currently working on Mojave Shadows, in which I play the lead. Its logline reads: A woman named Susan hikes in the middle of the Mojave Desert while coming to terms with guilt about the death of her son. One night she is attacked by a rattlesnake, and in the harrowing process, finds herself. 

    I’m also producing another project called El Fred. Its logline reads: A not-so-imaginary childhood friend returns as an unusual vigilante to protect a struggling single mother and her bullied son. And in December I’ll produce my first documentary, about self-healing and self-knowledge.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that has applied directly to your career?

    SP: I’m very grateful to NYFA. Thanks to a very hands-on program, I was able to learn how a film works from script to final editing. I also learned that producing a film is a group effort, and each department is essential in creating a coherent film. There are no small roles. I learned that it’s very important to respect your co-workers.

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

    SP: Be professional. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a class assignment or a student project, you will graduate with your friends and they will be in the film industry with you. Instead of just making a connection, work on building relationships. Be responsible and reliable. Most importantly, ask yourself every day why you’re doing what you are doing. Remember what it’s all about: this is your passion. It’s important to have a goal, a purpose. Pursue your dreams. Don’t let anyone say no to you. Believe in yourself and trust your instinct.

    I just want to say that I’m very grateful for NYFA. In less than a year I was already working in the film industry. That would not have been possible without the kindness and expertise of the wonderful and talented people at NYFA.

    The New York Film Academy thanks Sabrina Percario for her generous time and looks forward to following her continuing success! 

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    October 16, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1318

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update – October 12, 2018

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    Last week, we featured the new class of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism students learning the fine points of video editing. This week, it is camera class. Graduates will recognize Classroom #505, where many of our students first learned how to shoot with a Canon C300 camera. And as the pictures show, at first it was a lot of fun.

    Broadcast Journalism Update


    But out in the field, shooting your first story (30-second Voiceover) is always challenging. However, things seemed to work out pretty well in the end. (How many of you shot on Stone Street for that project?) I don’t remember the “lion” ever being interviewed before. And with a reflector to even out the light!

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    The big news last week was New York Film Academy grad Sergei Ivonin winning a Primetime News & Documentary Emmy Award. (That is the highest honor in American television.) Sergei was a member of one of the first NYFA Broadcast Journalism classes, and after graduation he went to work at NBC News. For many years he was an MMJ (multimedia journalist) for the magazine show Dateline NBC. That meant lots of travel. He also played an important role in NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. In fact, his Russian language skills made him irreplaceable.That meant he didn’t get very much sleep, as stories had to be generated around the clock for various NBC programs.   

    Sergei is now a producer on the Today show, working on the 9am hour with Megyn Kelly. But it was as a field producer on the Dateline NBC team that he won his Emmy, for a segment in which former U.S. President Barack Obama was interviewed.

    Congratulations, Sergei!sergei ivonin

    Also last week, 2011 Broadcast Journalism graduate Alana Blaylock was profiled in Forbes magazine. Alana used the skills she gained at NYFA as the basis for her development as an innovative content creator. She also has some insightful things to say about the arc of her career, as well as the creative process. Underlying it all is a belief in hard work, adapting to the demands of a project while retaining your integrity, and the enduring value of curiosity and an open mind…

    Alana Blaylock

    Finally, Summer Workshop graduate Varvara Makarevich is still working in Russian language television… Only here in the United States! She is working with Voice of America (VOA), which is a U.S. government-funded broadcast service that distributes journalistically balanced programing in a variety of languages around the world. I know it sounds like a contradiction — a government agency providing unbiased programming — but it’s true. A long-time friend and former colleague in Tokyo is now head of the VOA White House bureau. I think he has one of the toughest jobs in the world. (But that’s just my opinion…)

    Great work, Varvara!

    You can find more information on classes offered at the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School here.

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    October 12, 2018 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 389

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update: October 2, 2018

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    Last week was the first week for the new class of students attending the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism school. On their third day of classes they were introduced to nonlinear video editing software. Yes, it was time to meet Avid Media Composer 8. And the first reactions were… positive. The credit goes to our fabulous Editing instructor Christine Schottanes, and equally stellar TA (and NYFA grad) Catherine Kobayashi, for making complicated software understandable.

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    The class has students from Zambia, New York City, Ukraine, Connecticut, England, China, Louisiana, Spain, and Brazil.

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    When I posted this on Facebook, I heard from NYFA grad Laura Isern. She was chosen from among more than a thousand applicants for a prestigious journalism training program run by Brazilian media giant Globo.

    She wrote: “I’m using Avid in my internship a lot. Classes were really helpful.”

    And speaking (again) of Catherine Kobayashi, the two of us were part of a Virtual Open House last Wednesday. It was great to get questions from people everywhere, including some folks for whom it was the middle of the night. (Now that’s dedication…) If you were one of the participants, thanks for spending time with us. And if you have any additional questions, we’d be happy to answer them…
    Broadcast Journalism Update

    So the Broadcast Journalism camera classes Celina Liv Danielsen took as a student at NYFA came in handy last week. That’s her in the picture below, shooting (and producing) a story at the United Nations for Denmark TV 2.

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    And here is some of what she wrote to me…

    “…my new job title is journalist and producer for our US correspondent who is based in Washington DC. Together we are going to cover all US news for the people of Denmark. My job is to find all stories that we are going to produce for our newscast. I’m calling and finding all the sources, writing the manuscripts and articles, I’m the photographer when we are covering events where we are not making stories for our newscast but only covering it live. If my boss is on vacation or is doing other things then I’m reporting live to Danish national television. So I’m pretty busy and have a lot on my plate but it is so much fun. Since I got here I have only been in my apartment four times.  

    The first week was very hectic. I reported live from John McCain’s memorial in DC, then the Danish photographer and I flew to Boston to meet my boss (the US correspondent) to do a story there, then on to Toronto Film Festival and then San Francisco to cover the world’s first try to send out a machine in the ocean that can pick up all the plastic. Three days later we were in North Carolina covering the hurricane and this week was all about the UN. Next up is the midterm elections where we move out in “Trump land” to do many stories and then on election night a lot of live reporting. 

    I’m living in another city and get to travel all over America – it is so perfect. And I work with a very famous journalist from Denmark over here so people back home are starting to know my name in a bigger scale then before. Feel very lucky and blessed. But it took a lot of hard work

    WOW!

    Viviane Faver was a member of my very first class of 1-year Broadcast Journalism students in Fall 2013, after I had arrived at NYFA just a little more than a year earlier. Well I am still in New York, and so is Viviane. Last week she was doing what we in the business call a “cross-platform” story. It will appear in a Brazilian newspaper, a magazine, and on a website. Here is how she summed up the experience on Facebook:

    “I just had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of @Climategroup, Helen Clarkson. ‘As countries step up to drive down emissions it’s important not to leave others behind. We need to ensure a fair and just transition to a clean economy that benefits us all.’”

    That’s Viviane on the right, in the picture below…
    Broadcast Journalism Update

    Thanks to LinkedIn, each morning I get to see the latest edition of GeekWire, hosted by NYFA grad Starla Sampaco. (Not “Sanpan,” as the autocorrect on my email keeps changing it to.) Last week she was reporting on how the cofounders of Instagram were leaving the company. But with all the talk about “fake news,” I have some questions, Starla… That’s a whole lot of blue sky behind you. I thought it rained in Washington State every day…

    Broadcast Journalism Update

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    October 2, 2018 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 401

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Ilaria Polsonetti Nominated for News & Documentary Emmy

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary school alum Ilaria Polsonetti’s film has been nominated for multiple awards at the 39th Annual News & Documentary Emmys. Made for VICE News Tonight on HBO, “Libya: Intercepting Migrants” is nominated for Outstanding Editor News and for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story. Winners are announced on the first of October in New York City.

    Ilaria Polsonetti

    Ilaria Polsonetti

    Polsonetti graduated from NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary program in 2011. She is also a graduate of the 3-Month Screenwriting program, which she finished in 2013. Over the course of her career, the editor has melded her knowledge gleaned at NYFA with her M.S. in Sociology (London School of Economics). After graduating, she worked for Market Road Films, Singer Street Films, and as a freelance editor.

    A screenshot from "Dirty Oil in Nigeria"

    A screenshot from “Dirty Oil”

    Since 2015, Polsonetti has worked for VICE in Brooklyn. With the expansive and ever-growing global media brand, she has had the chance to work on urgent and political topics such as Libya’s migrant crisis and Venezuela’s anti-government protests. VICE’s increasingly diverse and critically-acclaimed documentary series’ have been an ideal place for the multicultural filmmaker to hone her skills. In 2017 alone, Polsonetti worked on “German Hotelier turns Hotel into a Migrant Center,” “Dirty Oil,” and “The Politics of Terror” in addition to the aforementioned Libya piece. Along with her work for VICE, Polsonetti has worked on “The Notorious Mr. Bout” and “First to Fall.” She was also recently editor on VICE’s Raised in the System” starring Michael K. Williams (aka Omar on “The Wire”).

    Documentary Chair Andrea Swift says of Polsonetti’s work,”These nominations don’t surprise me in the least. Ilaria has always been an insightful and diligent editor who demonstrated a unique sensitivity to the human experience. She developed a strong sense of story that is equally evident in this piece.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Ilaria Polsonetti on her recent success and looks forward to seeing what she works on next! You can watch VICE on HBO’s documentary on migrants in the Mediterranean below:

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum A.J. Rivera Joins All-Star Cast of Netflix’s “Another Life”

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum A.J. Rivera is following up several high-profile guest roles on television with a starring role in Netflix’s highly-anticipated new sci-fi drama, Another Life. 

    The 10-episode series is getting a lot of buzz since being picked up by Netflix last April, in part because of a veteran television cast. The cast includes Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff, as well as Alex Ozerov (The Americans), Jessica Camacho (The Flash), Barbara Williams (Mayans MC) and Lisa Renna (The 100). Also starring are film stars Selma Blair (Hellboy, Cruel Intentions) and Justin Chatin (Dragonball Evolution, War of the Worlds.) 

    The show is part of a continued campaign by Netflix COO Ted Sarandos — who spoke earlier this year with NYFA — to produce original content and dominate the longform storytelling market. It tells the story of a team of astronauts and scientists on a mission to search for intelligent life. It was created by Aaron Martin (DeGrassi: The Next Generation).A.J. Rivera

    A.J. Rivera plays Bernie Martinez, a microbiologist on the spaceship who also serves as part-time chef. He is part of the show’s comic relief, where his character uses jokes as a form of currency. Rivera is no stranger to comedy — his previous regular role on a TV series was with the John Stamos vehicle Grandfathered, as Victor.

    Rivera has also appeared on numerous other television shows, including Goliath, Jane the Virgin, Lethal Weapon, Shameless, 2 Broke Girls, Baskets, and This is Us. He attended New York Film Academy’s MFA Acting for Film program in September 2011, at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. There, he was able to train with talented faculty members currently working in the industry, and collaborate with film school students on the backlot of Universal Studios.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates A.J. Rivera on his latest success, and looks forward to seeing him on Netflix’s Another Life in 2019!

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    September 28, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 523

  • Soap Hub Celebrates New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Chad Duell

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Chad Duell has been a soap opera mainstay for some time now and has amassed quite a few fans, but it’s still nice to be spotlighted once in a while. That’s what happened earlier this month when major soap opera publication Soap Hub wished Duell a happy birthday and invited its readers to do the same.

    Duell is best known for his work on popular soap opera General Hospital as prominent character Michael Corinthos. General Hospital is the longest-running American soap opera in production, and second longest-running worldwide, having premiered way back in 1963. It is also the longest-running entertainment show in ABC history, and, with 13 total wins, holds the record for most Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series.

    Duell is also an Emmy-winner, having won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for his work on General Hospital. Before his critically-acclaimed work on the show, Duell also had recurring roles on the hit Disney show sitcoms Wizards of Waverly Place and The Suite Life on Deck.Chad Duell

    Duell, who just turned 31, was born in Chicago and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. He’d been passionate about acting from a young age, and attended theatre class in high school while also playing football. 

    In 2007, he took the 1-Year Acting for Film program at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. The acting school teaches students the craft of acting with a professional, working faculty and with hands-on experience that allowed Duell to act in front of a camera within the first week of his classes. Located in the heart of Hollywood, where students could shoot their projects on the famed Universal Studios backlot, Duell achieved his dream of making it to LA. 

    The New York Film Academy wishes Chad Duell a happy birthday and congratulates him on his continued success as an award-winning television star!

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    September 27, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 339

  • NYFA Alum, Guest Speaker, Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Win Big at 2018 Emmy Awards

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    The most competitive race in this year’s Emmy Awards wasn’t in any specific category. Rather, it was a heated contest between cable giant HBO and godfather of streaming Netflix to see which media company would win the most Emmys this year. 

    Several of HBO’s wins came from its new comedy, Barry, starring Bill Hader, a NYFA workshop alum, and Henry Winkler, who both won acting Emmys. Henry Winkler was a guest speaker at our Los Angeles campus (you can also listen to his guest speaker event on the NYFA Podcast, The Backlot).

    Other members of the NYFA community involved with this year’s Emmy Awards include Emmy-nominated alum Issa Rae (Insecure) and alum Francesco Panzieri, who has worked on Emmy-nominated Westworld. Additionally, Netflix’s critical and commercial hit Stranger Things was up for several nominations. The nostalgic horror’s cast includes alum Matty Cardarople and NYFA Board Member and Master Class Lecturer Matthew Modine, and the show’s iconic opening titles were in part designed by Emmy-winner and NYFA alum Eric Demeusy.

    HBO was the Goliath in this situation — the network has won the most Emmys each year for nearly two decades running. In July, Netflix made headlines when it broke HBO’s 17-year streak of most nominations, with 112 total, to HBO’s 108.

    In the end, it came down to the final award of the night, for Best Drama Series — HBO was poised to lose to Netflix by a single Emmy and lose its record. However, Game of Thrones proved victorious, allowing HBO to tie with Netflix, and landing both at the top with 23 Emmys each. Sharing first place is still a huge victory for Netflix, which has been on an upward trend after coming in third in 2016 and second last year. This continues the cultural dominance in longform storytelling that started when COO Ted Sarandos, who spoke with New York Film Academy (NYFA) students earlier this year, shepherded Netflix into the future of original content.

    Netflix and HBO weren’t the only big winners. Amazon Studios won its first top award when its original series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won Best Comedy Series, the first time a streaming-only service has won the category with its own content. Last year, Hulu won the first Best Drama Series Emmy for The Handmaid’s Tale. Ironically, for all its nominations and awards, Netflix still hasn’t won either prize.

     

    All told, the real winners are television viewers, as Peak TV continues its cultural dominance. As HBO CEO Richard Plepler put it, “It’s a wonderful evening for us, but it’s an even better evening for the range of quality great work being recognized in the industry.” While many of the award-winners were white, this year’s nominations did represent a large number of people of color, as well as women in non-acting roles. A step, albeit small, forward for the industry. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates all the nominees and winners of the night and looks forward to another year of innovative, exciting storytelling from the industry!

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    September 18, 2018 • Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 719

  • Q&A With New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Horacio Martinez

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    Horacio Martinez graduated from New York Film Academy’s 1-Year Cinematography program last year, but the hard-working lover of film finds education everywhere he goes. That includes everything he learns whole on set, where his work ethic and passion for cinema has made him a valuable asset to any film crew.

    Martinez really spoke with NYFA about his time at the Academy’s Los Angeles campus and his work on a feature film starring Ed Asner as 2nd AC. In addition to all the technical skills he’s picked up along the way, Martinez stresses that human relationships between the crew and between fellow students and instructors are just as important when forging your career in film.Horacio Martinez

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What was the journey that lead you to the New York Film Academy? 

    Horacio Martinez (HM): Movies have been a part of my life ever since I was kid. I’ve always related episodes or experiences in my life with films. In my teenage years, I developed a curiosity about photography. At the same time, I worked as a composer for short films and various behind-the-scenes for photographers and videographers. After I moved to the USA from Venezuela, I explored my passion for photography, doing a lot of Urbex (Urban Exploration). It was a wonderful experience and I got to know every corner of the city. 

    I felt I needed something beyond urban and landscape photography. After doing some research, I decided to pursue my original dream of trying to find a place in the industry of visual storytelling. I found NYFA as my home as a professional, and also as a human being. Cinematography really changed my perception of life, my surroundings, the way I see and analyze problems to opportunities, and everyday life. 

    NYFA: Why did you choose NYFA’s 1-Year Cinematography program?

    HM: Cinematography, in my opinion, is the perfect marriage between technology and art. It is a very passionate career. We have to be chameleons and adaptable. We have to get into people’s minds (in most cases, the director’s) and meticulously dissect their thoughts and ideas, and then translate them into reality with the use of wonderful, amazing tools. Technology can help us in solving problems and achieving a unique look for each film. 

    I looked at the instructors, all the subjects and the approaches to cinematography, and found that the 1-Year Cinematography program was a great match. I needed to formalize my education, and open my eyes professionally about the craft itself. Since I’m in my 30s, I am hungry to go out and explore the world of filmmaking and find the right path to success. 

    NYFA: What were your favorite moments at NYFA?

    HM: Getting to know all of my classmates and people from other departments that share the same passion as me about storytelling. Forging relationships and earning people’s respect one day at a time.

    I loved all of my classes, so it is very hard for me to choose one specific favorite instructor or class. They were all shaping my life as a cinematographer and making me a different person since the day I started. All the classes are of equal importance. All the instructors are very passionate professionals that really care about teaching not only their knowledge, but also personal experiences that really helped me to have a better understanding about the craft of cinematography, and the protocol and relationships in the industry. 

    NYFA: Shortly after graduating, you had the opportunity to work on an independent feature film as the 2nd Assistant Camera (2nd AC). Can you tell us about that?

    HM: That was an amazing opportunity and I am really thankful for it. When I was at NYFA, one of my main priorities was to create strong relationships not only between my classmates and fellow students, but also between me and the instructors. In this case, Anthony B. Richmond ASC, BSC called me on a Saturday afternoon, asking me if I could join his son Gaston on a low budget feature film starring Ed Asner. I immediately said yes. At first, I couldn’t believe that I got a personal phone call from Tony himself asking me if I could work with his son.

    Everything turned out amazing, and I really learned a lot about all the duties of a 2nd AC in the real world. Of course, what I learned at NYFA was a huge influence on my workflow. 

    NYFA: As the 2nd AC and media manager, what were your responsibilities on the film? 

    HM: My first priority was to be invisible. That’s a thought that I always had with me while working on set. Invisible to the point that I had to make the 1st AC’s — Gaston Richmond’s — job easy. I had to keep the department afloat. Everything has a domino effect. If one tiny little thing breaks, falls, or is not charged, then the department could be delayed big time, so anticipation was key. 

    I also needed to keep the camera in order, keep all the batteries charged, keep track of all the rolls that we shot and what day they were shot. When things flow smoothly, it’s thanks to order, organization, and protocol. 

    I also had to change lenses in extreme situations, and change camera magazines. I had to run blocks and blocks down the street during a massive heatwave in order to back up the files to three hard drives at the same time, while keeping in constant communication with the Sound Mixer to also get the sound files and back them up in the proper way.

    Gaston was a great mentor, and I really learned a lot from him. He gave me great support, and helped me keep things in balance with the thousands of details that people assume are going to be taken care of. It is true that no one is going to tell you how to do your job at first, but I saw that as an opportunity to show them who I really was and all that I knew. 

    NYFA: Were there any specific challenges for the camera department on this film? How did you handle those issues? 

    HM: There were a lot of challenges like I mentioned before, but being a 2nd AC is a challenge itself. You are the base of the camera department, the one that keeps everything running smoothly. If you take care of the details, people will trust that you will do your job.

    My first focus was to have a great relationship with my department. We are a team, and we all wanted to have things moving forward smoothly. My relationship on set with Gaston (1st AC), was really important since he and I were working so closely. As I said, he was very reliable, incredibly supportive on set, and a great guy with a great personality. With a good attitude and always keeping our cool, we solved any challenges that we had to overcome.

    It is also extremely important to have a good relationship with every single department on the project. You never know when someone will have to help you, and basically save your life. I also offered myself as help to other departments when needed.

    Life on set is not easy, it is basically creating art out of chaos. That’s why it is extremely important to have good relationships with everyone, have a great attitude, a good sense of humor. Be humble at all times, and ask for help when you need it. These factors will help you overcome all the challenges on set. 

    1st AC Gaston Richmond and 2nd AC Horacio MartinezNYFA: Did your classes at NYFA prepare you for working on a professional set? 

    HM: Definitely. 100% of the material, cinematography practicums, and classes that I had at NYFA were of huge help, especially when it came to actually knowing my role. You have to respect the protocol of communication between members of your department, and with other departments as well.

    I never felt out of place, and I spoke the same language as the DP. This was especially helpful when we had to be very technical, with camera resolution, lenses, filters, white balance, etc. 

    NYFA: What advice would you give to current students about starting their careers? 

    HM: Never doubt yourself. Always be yourself. Be willing to learn, because one of the most exciting things about this career is learning about new technologies, developing skills to solve problems, and experimenting with different looks. This is not a 9-to-5 career, and every day is not the same. The challenge is how to adapt ourselves, and use our personality and creativity to leave our mark and identity in the visual story we are telling. 

    NYFA: What projects do you have coming up next? 

    HM: Right now, my mission is to join projects that will help me develop my skills and become a better professional. I hope to join the camera union (Local 600) in the near future. I want to learn, I want to meet people, and create bridges and relationships.

    In the meantime, I am prepping a music video and a couple of short films with great directors, all of them out of NYFA. 

     

    The New York Film Academy thanks Horacio Martinez for speaking about his experiences and looks forward to the future successes his drive, passion, and hard work will undoubtedly bring him!

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    September 17, 2018 • Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 492

  • 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: 1733