best director

  • MFA Filmmaking Grad Wins Best Producing and Directing Awards


    Spyros KLast month, New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking graduate Spyros Kopanitsas was awarded the Best Producing Award at The Madrid International Film Festival for his year one short film,  Level 2. Shortly after, he was awarded with the Best Director Award at the Downtown Film Festival in Los Angeles for his thesis film, (Z).

    Level 2 was his year one film during his two year MFA degree and only his second attempt at writing and directing a dialogue based short story. The film is set in a futuristic world where people are plugged into a networking platform video game called “The Place.” In this world, a humble boy asks out a rather high-status girl, but when he doesn’t have access to her level, he has to try and hack his way into the virtual bar they are supposed to meet at.

    His thesis film, (Z) is again set in the not so distant future where individual’s uncontrollable behaviors can be formatted by extreme and invasive measures by a German corporation, called (Z) Corp. In the film, we follow Nico, a raver junkie who wakes up one morning in his apartment only to realize it won’t be an ordinary one.

    Spyros came to us from Athens, Greece, and decided to go for his Master’s degree at NYFA Los Angeles after attending our 8-week filmmaking program in New York City. “I enjoyed the full hands-on practical approach to film and decided to do a two year MFA degree in the Los Angeles,” says Spyros. “The training at NYFA was very valuable in terms of producing and directing, especially in directing, which is the field that intrigues me the most.”

    He currently has a few projects in development, adding, “My goal as a filmmaker is to participate in productions that will entertain the eye and tickle the brain.”

    Level 2

    Behind the scenes of Level 2. Far left, former students Ioanna Sourmeli (make-up) and in the middle, Edrei Hutson (UPM).


    September 17, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4888

  • NYFA Abu Dhabi Grad’s ‘Stepping Out’ Wins 2 Awards at LA Indie Film Festival


    Natilya PadillaStepping Out, a short film directed by our former Ukrainian student Nataliya Padilla, just received two awards: Best Actress and Best Director at the LA Indie Film Festival.

    The film has also been accepted in the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival.

    The film tells a story about “A young woman takes an emotional journey when she is forced to spend a day in old person skin.”

    Nataliya has studied her first year in Filmmaking at New York Film Academy Abu Dhabi, and moved to the NYFA Los Angeles campus to complete her Masters in Fine Art in Filmmaking.

    Congratulations to Nataliya and looking forward to see more awards!


    March 28, 2014 • Abu Dhabi, Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5379

  • NYFA Grad Wins Best Director for ‘The Duck Diaries’


    Duck DiariesDigital Filmmaking Graduate, Matt Twomey, recently won the Best Director award at the NYC Independent Film Festival for his feature documentary, The Duck Diaries: A Cold War Quest for Friendship Across the Americas. The Duck Diaries is a true-life intercontinental adventure about the importance of intercultural outreach in a troubled world, and the astonishing power of a never-say-die spirit. The story is about a group of young American guys who, in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, took it upon themselves to spread Yankee goodwill in Central and South America. For the 27,000-mile journey, they acquired a surplus Army amphibian “Duck.” But the vehicle wasn’t quite up to the seafaring they intended to get them from Panama to Colombia, and they ended up marooned. Fortunately, President John F. Kennedy took an interest in their mission. “In making it, there were numerous times when I met dead ends, blind alleys, and technical catastrophes,” said Twomey. “I needed to take inspiration from the very story I was telling.”

    Matt grew up in West Virginia and set out for Tokyo, Japan after graduating college. After he came up with the idea for the documentary, Matt left Tokyo to come study at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, New York City. He wanted to be in New York, and NYFA offered an intensive workshop in digital filmmaking that he could squeeze in before his production. “Having had no background in film, my NYFA course was a good, hands-on primer in the basics of camera, lighting, sound and editing. Somehow my fellow students and I each managed to make three shorts, which is the best kind of learning.”

    Matt continues to showcase his film at a variety of film festivals. “It’s been extraordinarily gratifying to witness the crowd response to my film. I had an incredible turnout for the screening at the NYC Independent Film Festival, and I was floored to win Best Director — there was such great competition among both narrative and documentary films. In Mexico, at the Oaxaca Film Festival, I met so many great filmmakers.”

    Matt is now developing documentary shorts, one specifically focuses on the fossil fuel divestment movement that is growing across the country. He is also interested in partnering with other filmmakers in a collaboration or in a collective. “The best documentaries are truly more compelling than fiction, and watching them can change a person’s perspective or even spur him into action. I hope to keep discovering and telling such stories.”

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    December 13, 2013 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5397

  • A Film Worth ‘A Celebration’

    Tong Zhou

    Director Tong Zhou on the set of “A Celebration…”

    BFA Filmmaking student Tong Zhou just returned from Cannes, where she screened her short film, A Celebration is a Celebration is a Celebration is a Celebration. She also recently won Best Director at the Beijing College Student Film Festival for her work on it.

    Originally from Harbin, China, Tong was attending the prestigious Central Academy of Drama, but said she was becoming frustrated and wanted to find a more hands-on program. She went for a tour of New York Film Academy and was immediately sold. “I really liked it!” she says. “After two years, I quit school in China and moved to New York.” She spent her first year in New York and loved the energy in the city. She shot her thesis film, A Celebration…, in New York City and upstate New York. Beautifully-shot by fellow NYFA student Thrinnanon Samrej, the drama follows Daniel and his complicated relationships in the lead-up to his eighteenth birthday.

    Tong is finishing her degree at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, and is developing a feature screenplay with 2 screenwriters. She plans to shoot the dramedy before the end of the year.


  • Interview with Director Robert Zemeckis


    The New York Film Academy had a chance to speak with A-list director, Robert Zemeckis! Robert Zemeckis owned the 80’s and 90’s with his classic Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away. Zemekis earned respect from critics and colleagues, while grossing quite a hefty penny at the box-office. His direction of Forrest Gump won him an Oscar for Best Director. It’s pretty safe to say that the filmmaker has established himself as one of the elite directors in Hollywood.

    The New York Film Academy offers many workshops and programs for those wishing to learn film direction.


    October 31, 2012 • Guest Speakers • Views: 7215