claude kerven

  • BFA Filmmaker Wins Best Foreign Film at Williamsburg Film Fest

    alon juwal

    Director Alon Juwal with actor Yair Grimberg and Tahunia (the dog)

    With award season in full swing, it’s always a great honor when students and alumni of our own are recipients of these awards. Such was the case for BFA Filmmaking student, Alon Juwal, who won Best Foreign Film at the Williamsburg Film Festival in Brooklyn, and was an official selection at the Student Filmmaker Awards and the Viewster Online Film Festival.

    His award-winning film, Castor, tells the story of an Israeli Army Dog Handler who takes his dying dog for one last walk before he is put down. The idea stemmed from a news story on Israeli television, in which Castor’s handler narrated the events leading up to Castor’s death. It was a story of bond and sacrifice that Juwal felt must be told.

    Juwal decided to attend NYFA because of its access to cutting-edge equipment — like the RED camera — that he was unable to access back at home in Israel. One of the benefits about studying at the New York Film Academy is the student’s ability to be bi-coastal. Like many of our degree students, Juwal began his BFA in Filmmaking at NYFA’s New York campus for a year, and is currently finishing his degree with two years at our Los Angeles campus. In essence, he’s getting the best of both worlds.

    castor set

    “My experience at NYFA has been extremely useful,” said Juwal. “I owe much credit to two of my instructors: my directing teacher Tassos Rigopoulos, who taught me the foundations of directing and how to handle a crew; and Claude Kerven, who helped me find my original voice and made me the storyteller I am today. I definitely recommend NYFA to many prospective students from Israel. I am glad I am able to call NYFA my home, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world. It definitely was an amazing ride, and still is!”

    Juwal is currently focusing his work on music videos. This March, he will be shooting a music video for the folk band Yellow Red Sparks, who have are going on tour to entertain thousands of followers.


    February 17, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5663

  • New York Film Academy Friends & Family on ‘SNL 40’


    nyfa snl

    Last night, NBC and Lorne Michaels managed to manifest the highest population density of celebrities, musicians and comedians into one studio. That studio was 8H, and it was for the 40th anniversary of the iconic sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live. 

    Fans had the opportunity to see old sketches reprised, such as Dan Aykroyd’s Bassamatic, Celebrity Jeopardy, Wayne’s World and countless others. The event included appearances by a star-studded list of celebrities and former hosts like Robert De Niro, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin…the list goes on and on. To put it simply, it was like heaven on Earth for SNL fans.

    While being captivated by television history, we recognized some New York Film Academy friends and family.

    Former guest speaker, Molly Shannon, surprised fans with her socially awkward, Catholic school girl character, Mary Katherine Gallagher. Performing in front of some of the most well known and respected entertainers in the world, Mary became very nervous and began smelling her armpits…like this. Though, soon after, she proclaimed that she was still a Superstar!

    Molly Shannon

    Actress & SNL alum, Molly Shannon at a NYFA Guest Speaker Event

    You may have also noticed another former guest speaker and Master Class Filmmaking Instructor James Signorelli. The SNL 40 show paid tribute to Signorelli by giving him his own unique SNL-style graphic during the broadcast. Signorelli has been a part of the show since 1976, having been the film segment producer for more than 400 episodes. He’s considered the king of ad parodies. If you’re thinking of a popular SNL commercial parody right now, James likely produced it.

    Looking back at many of the classic comedy sketches from the early 1980s, you may recall the famous “Synchronized Swimming” sketch with Harry Shearer and Martin Short, or the classic “Assassination of Buckwheat” with Eddie Murphy. What you may or may not know is Claude Kerven, the New York Film Academy in New York City’s Chair of Filmmaking, directed these short comedy films along with many others.

    The New York Film Academy is proud to have connections to the long-standing, ground-breaking show, SNL. Here’s to another 40 years!

  • How Long Should a Short Film Be?


    My September One-Year Filmmaking students are screening their thesis films this week and, once again, this issue of length has come up. Although we recommend that students keep their films to 10-15 minutes, many of my students have made films that are 20-25 minutes.

    The problem is that film festivals are inundated with hundreds, sometimes thousands of film submissions all competing for a place in, what is in all likelihood, a 2-hour program of shorts. Because festivals often have a cut off of 30-minutes for short films, few of these films get accepted. Film festivals want to help and support as many filmmakers as they possibly can, and accepting a 25-minute film into the festival means the five 5-minute filmmakers are going to be excluded.

    So, my advice to my students (and makers of short films, in general) is to keep the film as short as possible. Naturally, you have to do justice to your stories. You can’t squeeze a 30-minute story into a 10-minute package without ruining it. But there’s no question in my mind that with every minute you add to the length of your film, the odds of getting your film accepted decreases.

    Case in point: When my son Bret was 14, he took our summer program for high school students. In that program, he made 3 very short films. The first was 90 seconds, the second 2.5 minutes, and his last film 3 minutes. Although they were very well done for a first-time filmmaker, they were not brilliant. And yet he was able to get each of them into over 10 film festivals.

    Believe it or not, even a 90 second film will open doors for you. One of my son’s films, managed to get into the LA International, at which point, he was contacted by writers, composers and even agents. In fact, the agent who represents Renee Zellweger contacted him to see if he was interested in hiring Rene for his next film!  Now, clearly the agent did not know that he was dealing with a 14-year old. I imagine he (and the other agents) just download the names of the filmmakers from the festival website and start sending out email inquiries.

    So, although I understand that as you grow as a filmmaker it’s natural that you desire to make longer and longer films to demonstrate your ability to handle professional shoots, it is in your best interest to keep the running time short. Remember, festivals include your titles in the running time, so don’t put 5 minutes of credits at the end of the film. Many students are under the mistaken impression that the more names they can run past the screen at the end of their film, the more impressed the audience will be. The problem is that the audience has just seen your film and they’re only going to be as impressed as your film makes them. So keep your titles moving quickly. Just make sure they slow down when it gets to your name. After all, you’re the one you should be promoting.

    Food for thought.

    -Claude Kerven, NYFA NYC Chair of Filmmaking


    August 26, 2013 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 85707