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  • Victor Okoye Frank’s Award-Winning “Purpose”

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    Victor Okoye Frank came to the New York Film Academy from Nigeria to further pursue his passion for storytelling. “After college and research, I knew there was no better place to learn the precious art of storytelling than the prestigious New York Film Academy,” said Frank.
    victor frank

    His first semester in the 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory has been selected into a couple of festivals and won six awards including two from “My Rode Reel,” a competition that included over 1,500 submitted films from around the world. Recently, “Purpose” was nominated for Best Short Documentary and Best Director in a Documentary Award at the New York Short Film Awards (SOFI). The winners will be announced in December.

    “I was thrilled to receive the announcement from Rode,” said Frank. “Being such a big company and having over 1,500 movies to sort through — mine came in the top 2 in the Judges’ best films. Also, from the SOFI awards, I’m hopeful for the best overall film, but I will find out in the coming month.”

    victor frank purpose
    “Purpose” is a personal film, not just of his story, but of countless people around the globe who struggle through daily activities, doing things that barely make them happy. “It’s a story of hope and of a revelation that ultimate happiness can be found in doing what you love, and there’s no better time to get to it than now,” the director says.


    “I remember discussing the movie with my directing teacher [at NYFA],” Frank recalled. “He gave me tips of how to propel the story. Overall,  my training at NYFA gave me a good boost toward perfecting the film.”

    Frank is currently in pre-production on his first feature film “365.” He also runs a vlog about filmmaking, “Fourth Film,” which he says he attributes to the knowledge he received from NYFA.

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  • Photography Alumnus’ Work Published on L’Officiel India and Factice Magazine

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    New York Film Academy Photography alumnus Ping Wang‘s fine art project, “The Nostalgia of the Infinite,” is a bold combination of high-end fashion and metaphysical art, or as Wang eloquently puts it: “my exploration and self meditation about time and memory.”

    His fashion editorials inspired by “The Nostalgia of the Infinite,” named “Untramelled,” have been published on L’Officiel India, and the fashion story inspired by the same fine art project named “Delusional” has been published on Factice Magazine.

    untramelled

    photo from L’OFFICIEL INDIA | SEPTEMBER 2016

    “I’ve loved writing since I was very young,” said Wang. “I always take photos with my cellphone and put them into my personal blog. I believe this is the starting point for my photography. However, I didn’t know how to use a professional camera when I came to NYFA. NYFA values the practical and basic learning; it gives students a lot of time to think and then achieve.”

    "Eye of the Painter" in Factice Magazine | photography by Ping Wang

    “Eye of the Painter” in Factice Magazine | photography by Ping Wang

    With Wang focusing on fashion photography since his graduation, he says he notices two trends in the space.

    1. More “motions” are catching the spotlight in the industry. Fashion film has been a big trend.

    2. Fashion photography is cyclical. I’m beginning to see some retro elements and a preference for film lighting.

    photos by Ping Wang

    “In everything that I do, I want to express myself and feel the world,” says Wang.

    For more of Ping Wang’s amazing work, visit his website at www.pingwangxin.com.

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    October 20, 2016 • Diversity, Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4811

  • NYFA Students & Alumni Crew Up for TIFF’s “After the Storm”

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    “After the Storm,” a film from first-time writer and director Jessica Oyelowo, recently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Jessica’s husband, David Oyelowo, known for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King in the award-winning film “Selma,” was a producer on the project.
    on set of "After the Storm"

    on set of “After the Storm”

    Shot in only four days at Oyelowo’s home in Tarzana, the production included a number of New York Film Academy students and alumni in its crew. Giulia Governo, a NYFA alumna from the Cinematography program, was the 1st AC on the shoot; David Hebrero, a NYFA alumnus from the Filmmaking program, was the gaffer; Konstantin Frolov, a NYFA alumnus from the Cinematography program, was the boom operator; Vince GE, a student from the Filmmaking program, was a Production Assistant; and Joann Wong, a student in the Filmmaking program, was in the swing department.
    after the storm

    on set of “After the Storm”

    Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Belle,” “Beyond the Lights”), Chiké Okonkwo (“The Birth of a Nation”) and newcomer Caleb Oyelowo (Jessica’s son) star in the film about the emotional journey of an African American family in the wake of tragedy.
    after the storm

    on set of “After the Storm”

    “I became interested in what it’s like for the families of those out on the front lines,” said director, Jessica Oyelowo. “What happens to relationships when things go wrong, change doesn’t come, or loved ones are away or taken away?”

    “The movie has a bit of a surreal tone, as it deals with how tragedy can affect a family in ways they may not be fully aware of,” said NYFA Instructor Craig Ross.

    The film recently screened at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. For more information, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/afterthestormfilm.

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  • NYFA Student Stars in Iceland’s Oscar Nom for Best Foreign Film

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    “Sparrows,” an Icelandic film that stars current New York Film Academy student Atli Oskar Fjalarsson, has been chosen by the Icelandic Film & TV Academy as Iceland’s submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film recently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the San Sebastian Film Festival.

    sparrows

    The dramatic film is a very delicate, anthropic coming of age story about a 16 year-old boy who is forced to move away from his mother in the comforts of the city, to a tiny secluded fishing village in the middle of nowhere. There he must live with his father and try to fit into a rugged society of skewed social norms.

    Ari is an innocent choir boy from the city. His life is turned upside down when he’s forced to leave his home and move to his father that he barely knows, in a place that he left behind a long time ago. It’s hard for him to find footing in this new environment where no one seems to understand or relate to him. Through a series of events, Ari is forced to grow up fast and make decisions that will shape his character forever.

    “Rúnar Rúnarsson, the director, is an old friend of mine,” said Fjalarsson. “We did a short together when I was 14 years-old called “Two Birds” that went on to become a critically acclaimed festival gem, and to this date is one of the most awarded shorts ever made.”
    A few years later, Fjalarsson reconnected with the director and the two began chatting about upcoming projects. It was at that time that Rúnarsson mentioned his film, “Sparrows,” which he was in the middle of casting for. At the time, Rúnarsson was having trouble filling some of the teenage roles.

    “A few months later I did a commercial with Rúnar’s wife, where I shaved my beard clean and cut my hair,” recalled Fjalarsson. “Then the idea first came to light. He called me in for a meeting and took some pictures. He sent the pictures to his producers in Denmark and that was it. I got the part.”
    Fjalarsson hopes the film will take people on a journey and show them a glimpse of a world that is unknown to them while still remaining completely relatable.
    In addition to “Sparrows,”Fjalarsson is currently signed on for two features that are in development; one of them is French and the other one is American.
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    September 27, 2016 • Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4994

  • Gabriele Fabbro’s “Two Steps Away” Wins Best Comedy / Dramedy Short Student Film

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    two steps awayNew York Film Academy student Gabriele Fabbro has spring boarded his POV project into an award-winning short. He won Best Comedy/ Dramedy Short Student Film at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival, and the Direct Monthly Online Film Festival. He is a finalist for the All-American Drive-In and a semi-finalist for the Los Angeles CineFest.

    The original goal of the assignment is to have the same scene and show it from two different points of view. Gabriel credits his teacher, Gareth Dunnet Alcocer, with helping him grow. His previous assignment didn’t live up to his standard. Fabbro’s main objective was to, “…not make the same mistakes this time.” He wrote many, many different versions of the story, but they were all too heavy. “It wasn’t the right story to tell.” A week before he was set to film he wrote “Two Steps Away.” “Everyone was surprised how well we did because it was the most rushed project in the class.”

    Fabbro’s background is in photography. He says when he first got here he knew nothing about cinematography. Making the switch from still images to 24 frames per second has pushed him to be a better filmmaker. He said his fellow creatives Director of Photography Mark Cekham, actors Ydalie Turk and Connor Williams, as well as his sound department Luis Alberto Quijano and Karissa Ketelhut were the only reason he was able to survive the shoot.

    Fabbro pitched “Two Steps Away” as two students, on break, who are trying desperately to get the others attention without being noticed. He was nervous screening the film for the first time. “I’m always like nervous a lot when the film starts up, before and during. It’s terrifying. When they were screening it, I was afraid because they were laughing at parts I didn’t expect to laugh at; but at the end, they laughed…” right where they were supposed to.

    Knowing he had made a good film it was time to begin the submission process. There were numerous sites checked, but Fabbro’s favorite was FilmFreeway. “It’s easier. Faster,” Fabbro said of the service, “The main point is they give you updates. Whether you’re accepted or your not, you get a notification.”

    If you would like to see more of Fabbro please check out his work on Facebook, YouTube, and his IMDb Page.

    “Two Steps Away” has two upcoming festival screenings at the Glendale International Film Festival (September 29) and the Los Angeles International Film Festival (October 15).
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    September 22, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4713

  • Getting Personal with NYFA Photography Alumnus John Tona

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    As a New York Film Academy Photography alumnus, who currently teaches at the school, John Tona, a New York native, noticed he was surrounded by a very diverse student body. After meeting and interacting with men and women from countries all over the world, Tona became fascinated and inspired to create his “(A)Typical Typology” project. Shot on film, each photo is identical in its approach.

    photos from John Tona’s (A)Typical Typology

    Through this photography series, Tona aims to capture a man and woman from 193 different countries, completely stripped of all their possessions. Each individual is without cultural elements such as clothing, jewelry, or other man-made products, leaving only the individual as the unique identifier. As a result, the lines of race and culture are de-emphasized, leaving us to consider the subjects more simply, as members of the human race.

    His Typology project went on display in South Korea at both the Jeonju International Photo Festival and Art Space Artion.

    Tona says he has captured individuals, many of whom were students at NYFA, from 39 countries thus far and plans to continue until he reaches his goal of 193.

    art basel

    photo by John Tona from “The Vacant Self”

    Getting more personal, the photographer’s “The Vacant Self” project is, as Tona says, “a disenchanted look at emotional chaos and sexual dependency in an effort to come to terms with and coalesce a fragmented consciousness under the precarious frame of pictorial narrative.”

    john tona

    photo by John Tona from “The Vacant Self”

    Though you may not know it, the work in this series captures a very personal chapter in Tona’s life, which he was able to express through his models and photography. One particular piece from this collection was on display in Art Basel, while another is currently being displayed at Brooklyn’s Photoville.

    The Intimates

    photo by John Tona from “The Intimates”

    Tona says that while he’s closed the book on this chapter of his life, he’s currently moving forward with another personal series called “The Intimates.”

    Be sure to check out Photoville, which is currently being held in Brooklyn from now until Sept. 25, where Tona and nineteen other NYFA Photography alumni photographs will be on display.

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    September 22, 2016 • Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5703

  • 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: 6729

  • 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: 7126

  • 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: 4092

  • 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: 4430