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  • NYFA Alumnus Directs Hillbilly-Horror “Tuftland”

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    Roope Olenius, who graduated with his BFA in Acting for Film from the Los Angeles campus in 2013, is currently working on his directorial debut Kyrsyä – Tuftland, in Finland.

    roope

    Kyrsyä-elokuvan kuvaukset.

    Honoring films like The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby, the Finnish film discusses current topics such as women’s rights, man’s relationship with nature and young people’s difficulty to find their way into the work life. The story revolves around a young textile student, who takes on a summer job at a secluded and totally self-sufficient town. The cast consists of upcoming actors like Veera W. Vilo, Saara Elina, Ari Savonen and Enni Ojutkangas who have become known as the faces of the new wave of Finnish genre movie with films like Bunny the Killer Thing and Backwood Madness.

    “In addition to the fact that the story discusses extremely important topics, it does it with a very raw and objective voice, which for me was very fascinating from the get-go,” said Olenius. “It was important for me to tell this exact story at this point of my life because it really allowed me to throw my questions into the film and at the same time transform myself into a better person. Even though the story is fictitious (and in ways goes over the top), it points out some mindsets and behavior patterns that currently take place in Western countries and especially in Finland, which for me was a way to connect with the story. The possibility to make a film that has the potential to challenge the audience to think about their own values and opinions in life, is, for me, the whole point of filmmaking.”

    roope

    Kyrsyä-elokuvan kuvaukset.

    Olenius, who has consistently worked as an actor in his home country after graduation, is also producing the film and responsible for the adapted screenplay, which is is based on an original play of the same name by Neea Viitamäki. Kyrsyä – Tuftland is currently in production and set to premiere in 2017.

    “My training at NYFA has helped me enormously in terms of understanding all aspects of filmmaking and how they play together in a film production,” said Olenius. “Even though I studied acting, thanks to the versatile program I attended, I already had a good understanding of filmmaking after graduation and, therefore, the potential to pursue the making of this film after working only few years in the industry. Studying acting for film in Los Angeles has given me resourceful tools to get cinematic and true performances out of the wonderful cast of this film, which I believe will really make this film extraordinary.”

     

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    September 5, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6205

  • MFA Acting Alumna Featured in Video with “The Rock”

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    ionna meliCan you smell what “The Rock” is cooking? Well, if you can’t, check out the new teaser video created by Studio71, which announces his new YouTube Channel. The video stars MFA Acting for Film alumna Ioanna Meli, and has now received over 1.5 million views.

    After submitting herself to a breakdown for the part, Meli received a call from one of the producers saying they watched her demo reel and wanted to know if she was interested in accepting the part. After a thorough explanation of the role from both the producers and the director, Meli was sold.

    “It’s the first time that I’ve been involved in a project that has reached hundreds of thousands of people within a few hours — and now over 1.5 million views,” said Meli. “I was surprised how fast the news spread across the world; articles started popping up right away, the video was being shared on social media by Dwayne Johnson and his fans, and I was getting messages from friends asking if ‘it was really me in that video The Rock shared on Instagram’! It was very exciting, and slightly overwhelming, I’m not going to lie.”

    The YouTube channel, which launched July 18, will feature Johnson’s own videos, a scripted action series, as well as highlight projects from his production company, Seven Bucks Productions.

    Meli also directed the film “A Little Part of You,” which 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 was well received in Madrid and Ioanna’s hometown of Athens, Greece.

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    September 1, 2016 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6662

  • NYFA Grads Team Up for Thriller “Ryde”

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    rydeIf you rely on ride share systems like Uber and Lyft, you may be reconsidering after watching “Ryde,” written, directed and produced by New York Film Academy alumnus, Brian Visciglia, and co-written and edited by NYFA alumnus, Dustin Frost.

    The thriller/horror film is about a cereal killer that uses ride share systems to lure victims in and kill them.

    “The story serves as an awareness for all of us using these ride share apps and, even for the drivers, to be more conscious and vigilant with the service,” said Visciglia. “Pay attention to the correct driver, vehicle, and even clients. It’s a great system and very useful, but as always all good can be misused and/or abused.”

    The idea for the film came about after Visciglia noticed a couple of intoxicated young girls calling for a cab — he wondered about their safety. A few weeks later, his friend and fellow NYFA alumnus Olavo Jr. DaSilva asked him to write a thriller for a short. Visciglia decided to update “Taxi” to a more popular and relevant transportation method — ride sharing.

    The film was shot with the ARRI mini Alexa in and around Los Angeles, including Hollywood Blvd where the crew had to prepare and shoot a car crash.

    “I learned a lot from my two years at NYFA,” said Visciglia. “I used that knowledge to write, organize, pre-produce, and execute everything leading up to this feature.”

    As for some advice from the first time feature filmmaker, Viscigilia says, “Practice, practice, practice. Do, do! do! Don’t give up hope. Do everything with passion. Nobody wants it as much as you, so you have to keep the energy and morale going. Read. Research. Pay attention in class. Also, this is ‘art’ as well as business, stay true to your art and stay within your budget.”

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    August 26, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3626

  • NYFA Australia Grad’s “Ice Cold” to Screen at Several International Film Festivals

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    Prior to attending the New York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast, Jonathan Gesthuizen had never written a script. “I really struggled with it to begin with and soon realized that, while it was my weakest skill, it was the area of filmmaking that I was most passionate about,” said NYFA Australia alumnus Jonathan Gesthuizen. “The Director’s Craft Workshops and screenwriting classes were pivotal to being able to co-write and direct Ice Cold.

    ice cold

    Now, Gesthuizen’s short film Ice Cold, which he produced while at NYFA Australia, will be screened at international film festivals after being officially selected for the Tokyo On-Line Lift Off festival, Access Code India festival, Eurofest in St Petersburg, Russia and Action on Film Festival in Los Angeles.

    Ice Cold was submitted for my Digital Dialogue film assignment,” recalled Gesthuizen. “Bobby Mailman (acting student, co-writer) and I were both students mid 2015 and the story came about when Bobby and myself collaborated on an idea based loosely around some of her early childhood memories.”

    The short film is an action, thriller, romantic drama that centers around Jonny, Bella, and Dion as they struggle to grow up and survive in a world overcome with drugs, alcohol and violence. It is a story based around a young indigenous girl and her childhood sweetheart, Jonny, who are separated in their early teens and later reunite and escape from the clutches of Bella’s ruthless drug kingpin boyfriend.

    Ice Cold is about love breaking something open and conquering all, no matter what the obstacles are,” said Gesthuizen. “It’s about new beginnings, change, and how deeply love can be in its most simplest moments.”

    Gesthuizen hopes the networking opportunities at the festivals will be a great opportunity to meet with other filmmakers and industry members as he tries to secure full feature funding from his script that is close to completion.

    ice cold still

    “It’s a huge jump from a short to a feature length film, but I believe in the story and that it will gain traction once exposed to a wider audience,” he says. “It’s also a great chance to be able to see how we stand side by side against our other film associates.”

    In addition to Ice Cold, Gesthuizen says he’s currently writing a couple of other short film projects. One of his projects, Twenty to Heaven, is about a true life experience about a caving expedition that went wrong in the early 90’s and how he and others came close to death. The other is a film called Isle of Broken Dreams, which is about a secondhand opshop that has a huge selection of second hand wedding dresses. The film centers around several main characters and their stories as to how their dresses came to be at the shop.

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    August 11, 2016 • Entertainment Australia, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3973

  • NYFA Grad Luba Salp Introduces Photography Series “Ambivalence”

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    big wave

    photo by Luba Salp

    Originally from Moscow, Russia, Luba Salp (Liubov Salpagarova) received her education in the UK, France, and Australia before being awarded a scholarship to attend New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. After graduating she interned for numerous production companies including photography icon David LaChapelle.

    luba salp

    photography by Luba Salp

    Recently Luba shot a feature documentary “Hollywood Dreams of Rodion Nahapetov” for a major Russian TV Channel One. She’s also worked with major commercial clients that include Nike, Malibu Rum, UPS, Taco Bell, Zippo and more.

    Now, Luba is introducing a new art series, Ambivalence, inspired by her passion for surfing. Ambivalence is a series of photographs taken by the NYFA alumna while surfing in Manhattan Beach, California.

    Cinematography Reel from Luba Salp on Vimeo.

    Each photograph captures the moment when a wave is about to break. This moment — one of simultaneous dread and supreme joy — represents opposing yet inseparable sides of the surfing experience. When this moment is captured as a still image and the dimension of time is removed, it opens up to an entirely abstract perception. The subjective drama of a wave breaking with its unpredictable outcomes is transformed into an objective drama of beholding a monumental landscape. In this way the series can be viewed as a meditation on time.

    For more information on Luba and her art work, please visit her website at www.lubasalp.com.

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  • NYFA Summer Camp Grad Michael Gallagher Releases “Internet Famous”

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    Michael Gallagher began his filmmaking as a Freshman at New York Film Academy’s high school summer program. Whether it was a comedy about a dinosaur with bladder issues or a movie about a prison-bound sea captain (shot entirely in French!), no idea was too out there for his imagination.

    internet famous

    Over the next few years, Michael returned for NYFA’s advanced summer programs and continued making films on his own. Before he even finished high school, Michael had directed Oscar-nominated Michael Lerner and won numerous awards himself.

    Soon after high school, Michael began the comedy site “Totally Sketch,” which currently tallies 1.2 Million “Beautiful” Subscribers (Michael’s own words) and over 400 MILLION VIEWS!

    As Michael explained,  “When we first started, people (on YouTube) were just turning on WebCams. I thought I’d take what I learned at NYFA and take a more cinematic approach (to my comedy shorts).

    In 2012, Michael co-wrote and directed the horror feature “Smiley,” starring Caitlin Gerard, Shane Dawson and featuring Rogert Bart and Keith David.  (Link On ITUNES –  )  The trailer scared up more than 30 Million hits on youtube and introduced the world to the creepiest slasher’s mask this side of “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”.

    Returning to his Internet / comedy roots, Michael co-wrote and directed the parody “Internet Famous,” now available on iTunes and streaming on Netflix. 

    Michael explained, “The movie is about five internet personalities who travel across the country to compete in a talent competition. The problem is – they don’t have any talent.”

    The mockumentary stars Shane Dawson and other internet stars who were more than happy to mock their corner of the Industry. “These are people I’ve worked with in the past. It was fun to bring them in to parody themselves,” said Gallagher. “Shane (in particular) wanted to take the piss out of what he’s doing and comment on all the people who he works (around).”

    A Maker Studios co-production, “Internet Famous” was one of the most highly touted projects at this year’s VidCon (the Comic0-Con for the YouTube generation!)

    But “Internet Famous” is more than just a series of gags, as Michael lets the characters’ emotional stakes never get lost in all the youtube mockery. “Even in Airplane, you care if they land the plane.”

    Gallagher is already gearing up for his next film “The Thinning,” which will be coming to a computer near you this fall.

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    August 9, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4446

  • NYFA Doc Grad Raises Awareness for Environment in “Recycled Mississippi”

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    As a strong advocate in raising awareness about environmental issues, former documentary student Gary Bencheghib has recently set out on a unique voyage to combine his two passions: the environment and documentary filmmaking.

    recycled mississippi

    Beginning in 2009, Bencheghib founded Make A Change World, an organization to raise awareness about environmental pollution and sustainable waste management. The platform was also used to distribute a miniseries to promote the official release of his New York Film Academy thesis film, The Reclamation, which will soon be a 40-minute documentary set for release in early 2017.

    “NYFA completely changed my life in giving me the best formation imaginable on the entire filmmaking spectrum — from shooting to editing and producing,” said Bencheghib.

    The two initial episodes of the series have reached over 3 million people after having been pirated by different sources in Indonesia. The miniseries was covered by CNN, Rolling Stone, and various international media outlets, while also helping to increase the official petition against proposed artificial islands in South Bali by 20,000 signatures.

    His latest project, Recycled Mississippi, is an ambitious project in which he attempts the first ever zero-waste expedition by traveling one of the world’s longest and most polluted rivers on the “ioco,” a boat made from plastic bottles and recycled materials.

    recycled mississippi

    The expedition team is made up of 6 environmentalists: expedition leader Dan Cullum, who has been leading ‘recycled expeditions’ on kayaks made from plastic bottles in New Zealand for the past three years; filmmaker and producer Gary Bencheghib; the Swiss Engineering duo includes Livio Knori, the Captain of the vessel and responsible for the overall design and build of the boat ‘ioco’ and Hannes Stauffer, responsible for the woodwork and mechanical componentry of ‘ioco’; and American adventurers Sebastian Engelhart and Zander Hartung.

    The international team will be producing a 40 minute documentary about their expedition and the people and communities along the river that are working to protect and preserve it. Their journey commenced in Minneapolis, MN on the 19th of June and will finish at the end of August at the Gulf of Mexico.

    “This project has by far been the biggest I have undertaken to date,” said Bencheghib. “The expedition, on many levels, has been an experience of a lifetime, filled with amazing encounters. The river people who we have met along the way have been a testament to the deep care people around the world have for our planet.”

    The film, Mississippi Recycled, should be released in early 2017 and will be made freely available to students and teachers worldwide as an environmental platform to living a more sustainable life.

    More recently, Gary and his environmental activist partner and brother Sam were featured in EcoWatch, the nation’s largest environmental sustainability news site, for paddle boarding the Gowanus Canal and Newton Creek. The brothers are creating an 8-part video series to draw attention to polluted waterways. Their series #BroCleanBKLN premiered on Facebook Dec. 7, 2017.

    Gary was quoted in EcoWatch as saying, “In increasingly uncertain times for our environment, there has never been a more important time than now to take action to clean up and restore our waterways. If we can start by showing a good example here in New York, the world will follow!”

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  • Broadcast Journalism Alumni Highlights for August 2016

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    It was an eventful week for New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism graduates. In Denmark, NYFA grad Celina Liv Danielsen has joined Nyheder TV2 as a journalist. She is working at the first 24-hour Danish news channel.
    NYFA grad Celina Liv Danielsen

    NYFA grad Celina Liv Danielsen

    “Celina is one of the hardest working students I have ever met,” said NYFA Broadcast Journalism Chair, Bill Einreinhofer. “Her personal credo is to ‘do your best, nothing less.’ And she is a fabulous writer. Congratulations, Celina!”
    NYFA grad Chiara Carcano

    Another of our grads, Chiara Carcano, was chosen to be one of the co-hosts of the 2016 edition of the Italian travel show Donnavventura. “Kiki” was selected from 180,000 contests, and starting on September 10th, she will be traveling the world for the next 100 days.

    Recent graduate Federica Polidoro explained that the series is “Amazons for the digital age.” (No, not an online marketplace, but the female warriors of classical literature.) She will be facing challenging and extreme conditions, and reporting her experiences to TV, radio and magazine audiences. Congratulations Kiki, and don’t forget to wear your NYFA t-shirt!

    Patricia Saad

    By this time you have likely seen at least some of the network coverage of the Rio Olympics. But Brazilian NYFA grad Patricia Saad is taking a very different approach, exploring the local implications and legacy of the Olympic Games.

    Take a look at Canal Ilumida. And that “walk and talk” she does in the introductory video… she learned how to do that at NYFA. Nice job, Patricia!

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    August 8, 2016 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3621

  • NYFA Grad Working with DP for “Big Bang Theory” and “Mom”

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    rebecka KristenssonThrough the assistance of the New York Film Academy’s Alumni Department, recent grads have had their share of success in landing some really solid opportunities in the entertainment business. Such has been the case with alumna, Rebecka Kristensson, who is currently working with the talented Steven V. Silver, ASC. Silver is the Director of Photography for both The Big Bang Theory and Mom. Now that Kristensson has had the chance to settle into her new position, we thought we’d catch up to see how everything is going at her new job.

    Congrats on landing a gig with Steven V. Silver! Can you tell us how this exciting position came about?

    I got the opportunity of working with him from a job ad that was sent out by some instructors at NYFA; in my case by my amazing mentor Denise Carlson (originally from Barbara Weintraub). I applied, and somehow my application reached Steven, with a few other applications. He called me in for an interview, and a few hours into our lunch meeting he hired me on the spot and the rest is history.

    What are some of the tasks in your position?

    My position entails many different tasks, such as scheduling, coordinating with post production and Technicolor, staying updated on newly drafted scripts, floor plans, etc. I’ve been working on websites and with publicity, especially since receiving two recent Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series, which he received for both ”Mom” and “The Big Bang Theory” this year. Also, since the production schedules overlap, I often represent Steven wherever he cannot be present.

    What are some of the challenges? What are some of the perks?

    The perks are definitely working with extremely talented and professional people that I look up to a lot. I get to pick Steven’s brain a lot — someone who’s been successful in the industry for a long time, creating the look of shows such as Two And A Half Men, Dharma & Greg, The Big Bang Theory, and Mom, as well as established the look of the pilot of How I Met Your Mother. Lucky for me, Steven is truly an amazing mentor. Also, I get to run around Warner Brother’s lot every day, which is always exciting. To be part of the Chuck Lorre machine is definitely an honor, and very educational indeed.

    Do you believe your NYFA education was useful in terms of being able to work with a cinematographer on MOM and BIG BANG THEORY?

    Definitely! I would neither have received the job ad, nor been considered for the actual job, if it wasn’t for NYFA. Even more so, I would never be able to keep up with this job and professional team without my producing degree.

    What are you hoping this job will lead to? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

    I hope this job will lead to great connections, lots of wisdom, and more opportunities with Steven, Warner Brothers and Chuck Lorre Productions. Outside the studio, I’ve launched a Swedish production company with my two partners – directors and writers – Petter Englund and Johan Englund, which I hope will stay active five years from now creating original content.

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    August 5, 2016 • #WomenOfNYFA, Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 7039

  • NYFA Grad’s Photography Portfolio Hosted by Vogue Italia

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    Italian native and New York Film Academy Photography graduate, Paolo Testa, says he’s “constantly working on different projects” since graduating. His work primarily deals with magazines and clients in the fashion industry.

    paolo testa

    photography by Paolo Testa

    “I believe that a photography school offers you a priceless opportunity: taking pictures for the sake of taking them,” says Testa. “This allows your creativity to flow and gives you a lot of room for exploration and experimentation. Once you are out of school, you need to work and you lose your free time. My most memorable time at NYFA was spent in the studio. I was using it every day for the sake of experiencing and gaining more knowledge of the studio protocol.”

    Testa’s latest work can be seen in WWD. Outside of the fashion industry, Testa is shooting a personal project called “My America” that will be showcased in the next issue of C41 Magazine, a fine art photography magazine distributed worldwide.

    palo testa

    photography by Paolo Testa

    Additionally, Testa has an active portfolio on the Vogue Italia website. Some of his photos have won awards on the website, including two of which won the Best of vogue.it.

    As for some advice that Testa has for our current students and recent graduates, he says, “If you want to make it, you need to focus on one type of photography. Be honest with yourself and don’t try to imitate someone else’s work. Find your own language and write your own story with your own unique style.”

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    August 4, 2016 • International Diversity, Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6129