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  • Q&A with NYFA MFA Filmmaking Alum & Cinematographer Shivashish Ahuja

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Shivashish Ahuja is a Los-Angeles based Cinematographer with industry experience shooting and directing short films and music videos. Ahuja has worked with several well-known artists since graduating from NYFA, including Billie Eilish, Alessia Cara, Naomi Osaka, Tate McRae, and more. 

    Ahuja spoke with NYFA about his latest videos, career challenges, and experience traveling from a small town in India to the city of Los Angeles.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us what originally brought you to the New York Film Academy and what prompted your interest in cinematography?

    Shivashish Ahuja (SA): I come from a small town called Kota, India, which is known for “manufacturing” engineers and doctors. With the strong support from my family, especially my brother, I took the step to move to the United States to pursue my dream of becoming a professional cinematographer. 

    I had an early interest in still photography but decided to pursue moving images after I covered Vin Diesel’s visit to India in a Behind the Scenes video. They were in town to film their movie xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

    For me, film is an engaging medium and forces you to not only think but to take a step toward change. My journey at the New York Film Academy was beautiful. The school not only gave me a platform but also made me aware of the culture and people in the United States. Without NYFA, I wouldn’t have been a member of the Academy Gold Rising Cinematography program in 2021

    NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating from NYFA?

    SA: Ever since I graduated from NYFA, I’ve managed to grow within the industry, including work as a cinematographer for the reality show Staycation and work with Grammy award-winning artists like Billie Eilish, Alessia Cara, and Carlitos Del Puerto. 

    I’ve also worked with Mena Suvari, Naomi Osaka, Tate McRae, and Diljit Dosanjh to name a few. Short films I’ve worked on for Dhar Mann Studios on YouTube have performed well and made it to the IndieFEST Film Awards, and the film Big Rant screened at the Fimucite Festival Internacional de Musica de Cine de Tenerife and made it to the Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA). The movie Paper Boats was screened at the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and my film FaceOff made it as a finalist in the Rethink Dance Film Festival. 

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest work & how it felt to work with well-known artists? 

    Shooting the live performance with Billie Eilish was both challenging and fun. I got the chance to work with fellow NYFA MFA Cinematography alum, Mayur Patankar who was the gaffer, and I served as the rigging gaffer. 

    Billie Eilish was soft-spoken and very respectful to everyone on the set. Plus, to listen to her live was an incentive. I was given the opportunity to work with both Alessia Cara and Carlitos Del Puerto as the cinematographer through Richy Films LLC. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    SA: NYFA taught me the importance of pre-production, especially on bigger sets where celebrities are involved. They have extremely tight schedules and so it’s best to be prepared with everything so when they walk in, you’re ready to roll. Another crucial learning from NYFA was understanding the director’s language. Some shoots demand you work fast, which means maintaining good quality with as few setups as possible in a limited amount of time. By understanding the directors’ and producers’ goals and deliverables, it becomes easier to perform your best. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Shivashish Ahuja for his success in Hollywood and we encourage you to check out the show Staycation and watch the music videos included here. 

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    January 3, 2022 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1076

  • ‘Don Filipo’ by Tim Muñoz Finds Success on Festival Circuit

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    NYFA Acting For Film alum Tim Muñoz directs and writes a recent favorite among the festival circuit. His most recent work, Don Filipo (2021), is a feature-length homoerotic, horror film starring Beverly Benny, Dindeth Ditablan, Rap Robes, Megan Sharpe, and newcomers Adrian Arias and Luis Padilla

    don filipo movie poster

    Don Filipo (2021) Directed and Written by Tim Muñoz

    The story takes place in a remote village gripped with fear after its residents go missing one by one. A young nurse visits the town to look after an ailing town resident, Don Filipo, as terrifying events start to unfold.

    The film premiered at the Philippine Cinemalaya film festival in 2021, and has been showcased across numerous festivals globally. Don Filipo was screened and won ‘Best LGBTQ Film’ at the Stockholm City Film and Luleå International Film Festivals in Sweden, and the Mabig Film Festival in Germany. The film was also named ‘Best International Feature Film’ at the Uruvatti International Film Festival in India. Per a statement from the director about the film, “…I hope it also opens awareness about its message of inclusivity.”

    Tim Muñoz

    Director and Screenwriter Tim Muñoz (above)

    The Phillippines-born director is an alum of the NYFA 1-Week Acting for Film Workshop. His directorial credits include Lodi (2018),  Hombre (2017), and Estranghero (2016). Muñoz maintains a love for independent filmmaking, classic films, and the French New Wave genre. Following fifteen years of work as a director and screenwriter for ABS-CBN and TV5, he transitioned to directing independent films. With close ties to his home country, Muñoz often travels back to the Philippines to create films. He takes inspiration from directors and filmmakers including James Wan, (Annabelle, The Conjuring), and Filipino horror film classics like Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara and Feng Shui

    Don Filipo is a success among critics as well as movie-goers:

    Top Review of Don Filipo on IMDB | May 2021 

    “I have come across a few American-made gay-themed horror movies and I am always left disappointed by the amateurish acting and banal script. Don Filipo, on the other hand, has won me over on so many levels. I find the story quite riveting in its presentation. It is not about originality, but the proper use of directing. The actors did a fantastic job capturing the scenes that even though the movie did not have the benefits of Hollywood special effects, the pacing, lighting, background music and the actors presence make each scene authentic and interesting. Kudos to the writer and director because this was a gay-themed horror done tremendously well.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Tim Muñoz for the success of Don Filipo and the project’s and his deserved awards across the festival circuit.

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    October 28, 2021 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1257

  • Q&A With MFA Filmmaking Alum Apoorv Arora on Life After NYFA and Recent Work

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    Filmmaking alum Apoorv Arora has been busy since graduating from NYFA Los Angeles’ MFA Filmmaking Program in 2018. He has gone on to direct and produce a number of projects and even launched his own production company, Apoorv Arora Films.

    The Indian-born filmmaker is currently based in Los Angeles and runs Apoorv Arora Films. The production company is already credited with the creation of music videos, promo shoots, and short films for both Bollywood and Hollywood.

    In his career as a producer, Arora worked with artists and celebrities including Priyanka Chopra, Diljit Dosanjh, and B Praak. His body of professional work includes projects for leading international brands like Speed Records, The Walt Disney Company, White Hill Studios, Balaji Telefilms, MTV, and others.

    Producer Apoorv Arora on a film set

    Producer Apoorv Arora on a film set

    NYFA caught up with Apoorv to discuss his past and upcoming projects and what he’s been up to since graduating.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What projects have you worked on during the year? Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    Apoorv Arora (AA): I have worked on multiple projects this year and am still working on a few. I am working on two independent feature film projects as Executive Producer and Producer. These projects are in development and pre-production. 

    I have been a believer in promoting black artists and artists of color. This year I produced a couple of music videos with artists of color. One of them is  J.Breckenridge’s single debut, Come To Me. He’s a Broadway artist from the Book of Mormon. He can be seen most recently on the 2020-21 season of The Blacklist (CBS) and Blue Bloods (NBC). This music video was published in the Playbill Magazine.

    The other Music Video I produced is called Olorun Maje by Sir Boyò, which means “God Forbid” in English. The video contains elements of symbolism and abstract art while conveying impactful lyrical content that discusses themes of hope and spirituality. Olorun Maje won Best Music Video Award winner at the Frostbite International Indie Film Festival and Direct Monthly Online Film Festival. The music video is a semi-finalist and finalist at many other film festivals.

    This year has also been great because I registered my company Apoorv Arora Films LLC with the California Secretary of State. It’s a big achievement of mine and something for which I’m very proud. 

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project and how you got involved?

    AA: One thing I like to do is build relationships, and I firmly believe that relationships can make you or break you. 

    After my first music video success with over 100,000 views on YouTube, I recently wrapped producing another music video for artist Sir Boyò. It’s called I Know U Like It and right now it’s in post-production and will be released later this year. 

    I was involved as a Producer from the idea to distribution and release. I think my clients believe in me and have faith in me.

    Producer Apoorv Arora (middle) on a film set

    Producer Apoorv Arora (middle) on a film set

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    AA: I graduated from NYFA with an MFA in Filmmaking and Producing. I think all that I do in Producing on an everyday basis comes from the knowledge that I gained at NYFA. From budgeting to scheduling to skills and knowledge in directing, camera and lighting. All this I learned at NYFA. But I think NYFA isn’t just teaching you film, I believe NYFA also taught me LIFE. 

    I believe it’s just not about what you learn in class but also what you learn outside of it. I have had amazing conversations with some of the great Instructors at NYFA like Nick Sivakumaran, Matt Kohnen, and Igor Kovacevich. These guys are brilliant at what they do and teach. I have learned how to handle things in the toughest situations because things can go wrong even if you have the best plan. I have learned negotiations and how to handle different people differently. 

    These are some of my greatest lessons at NYFA.

    NYFA: Are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

    AA: I’m working on two independent feature film projects as Executive Producer and Producer. These projects are in development and pre-production. I’m also working on a commercial for an up-and-coming eyewear brand. I am also working on a short film based on Black Lives Matter and finally, I have a couple more shorts and a music video in development.

    NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming NYFA students?

    Producer Apoorv Arora on a film set

    Producer Apoorv Arora on a film set

    AA: I would like to tell students that you get one life with multiple opportunities. You should try to seize every opportunity you can in this life. For students, I suggest creating content while they are in school as much as they can. Just keep creating content, so by the time you graduate you have enough on your portfolio to start with. 

    The school gives you access to the best of the best equipment, make sure you use it in your favor. Because the reality is once you graduate you’ll be on your own with your DSLR, so make sure you use those RED Dragons and Arri Alexas as much as you can while in school and keep creating.

    NYFA: How can folks get in touch with you? 

    AA: Students looking for any advice or help to produce a project can email info@apoorvarorafilms.com, visit my website apoorvarorafilms.com or follow me on Instagram

    NYFA would like to thank Apporv Arora for taking the time to speak with us and congratulate him on all his success. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 12, 2021 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1168

  • The NYFA 20/20 Series: A Conversation with Award-Winning Director/DP Jordan Haro

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was thrilled to welcome award-winning Director of Photography,  Jordan Haro as part of The 20/20 Series in May 2021. The 20/20 Series was created by NYFA’s Creative Director of Filmmaking and Cinematography, Liz Hinlein. The conversation was moderated by Hinlein and held virtually, allowing individuals to join NYFA and the special guests from all over the world. 

    Jordan Haro NYFA Guest Speaker

    Award-Winning Director/DP Jordan Haro

    Haro is known for his work on TV shows like Snowfall and Archer, as well as feature-length films including Machete (2010), The Wolverine (2013), and Balloon (2011). His long-spanning career titles include photographer, writer, editor, and keen observer. The Austin, TX-native filmmaker bounced around the globe telling stories for massive clients including National Geographic, Atlantic Records, TLC, and Sony Pictures. Aside from always watching, learning, and growing, Jordan’s current goals and aspirations are squarely set in the world of narrative filmmaking.

    During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Haro and his partner rented an airstream to travel across the United States in order to film, “we rented one airstream trailer back during the pandemic, just when we were coming out of the lockdown phase, that was actually a great trip. That experience sold us on buying one,” says Haro, “It just so happened that a hurricane bore down on us at the same time as this deal. What started as us filming each other, became a tour of climate change across the country. We hit a crazy electric storm in Oklahoma, a horrible snowstorm in Utah, and then got stuck in Colorado while California got hit with those forest fires.” 

    Haro, originally from Austin, Texas was raised on breakfast tacos and barbecue. He has mainly worked as a director, although has many years of experience in producing, editing, and shooting movies of all shapes and sizes. Jordan runs a production company, Homecourt Pictures, that specializes in producing and editing directly to the network, behind-the-scenes marketing, and promo materials. 

    When asked about how he looks for new work Haro answers, “I’m still figuring that out. The main thing is that during certain periods, I’ll be really busy with work that pays the bills, and then I’ll be hit with phases where I can ask ‘what do I want to do?’”

    As an independent filmmaker, Haro sees owning a camera as a positive investment. Not only is he always at the ready for when a story is breaking but it is a great tool for collaborating/bartering with fellow filmmakers. 

    About Liz Hinlein and The 20/20 Series

    Liz Hinlein

    20/20 Online Series Moderator Liz Hinlein

    Liz Hinlein is the Creative Director of Filmmaking and Cinematography with the New York Film Academy. During her tenure, she created our popular weekly virtual event, The 20/20 Series

    Hinlein is an award-winning DGA director and graduate of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her background in filmmaking and media content includes a robust portfolio of work that spans feature-length films, commercials, and music videos for artists including Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone.

    The 20/20 Series is a pop-up virtual event that takes us into the homes, hubs and workspaces of an array of dynamic creative visionaries to allow for relaxed, engaging conversations on craft, creation and artistic vision.

    Each conversation with a creative visionary features 20 minutes of discussion with a moderator and a 20 minute Q&A from YOU, the audience. This event is open to the public, as a means of promoting global connection and creativity, a key mission of NYFA.

    You can catch videos from The 20/20 Series as they are released, here

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    May 1, 2021 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 208

  • NYFA Screenwriting Alum Jon Mann on New Show “Pub Crawl” and Working in the Canadian Film Industry

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    Canadian native Jon Mann grew up with a love of movies and writing. Now Mann is living the best of both worlds as a screenwriter and director, working on projects like his latest television series Pub Crawl, released this November on Bell TV in Canada.

    I love movies. I read a lot as a kid, and for a while wanted to be a novelist,” shares Mann, “but even at that time, my goal was always to have one of my books be turned into a movie, so one day I figured I should cut out the middle man and become a screenwriter.”

    Photo courtesy of Jon Mann

    Mann, who graduated from NYFA’S 1-Year Screenwriting program in 2013, shares that being involved closely in the Canadian film industry has been a very positive experience, having worked on projects in his home country and in 2018 winning the National Screen Insitute’s Totally Television program with production partner, Rob Ramsay, for their pilot Wolfville.

    “It’s been interesting to also see the way my home province has handled COVID (the Atlantic Bubble, as it’s known). Our industry has boomed because it is so safe here right now compared to, literally, anywhere’s else,” says Mann. “Even last summer, it really picked up. The Lighthouse was filmed here a couple of summer’s ago, Adrien Brody is currently filming a miniseries here, and obviously, Schitt’s Creek has been incredible for the Canadian film industry. We’re kind of killin’ it.”

    “Pub Crawl” host Rob Ramsay

    With the Canadian film industry receiving more attention these days, Mann is excited to continue to work on projects in the Great White North, including his latest project Pub Crawl, a television series that explores the historically significant bars in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    “I have lived in Halifax for 10 years now and the culture here is so embedded in alcohol – for better or for worse. I think it is a healthy mix of cold winters and our location on the trade routes during the 1700s and the 1800s that created an environment where our social lives have practically depended on drinking for over 200 years.” shares Mann about the subject matter. “I could be wrong, but I have never seen a show like this. Telling the history of cities through the lens of the local drinking establishments makes a lot of sense. Halifax, and I’m sure cities of the same age, were literally built by people meeting in these bars and pubs.”

    Still from “Pub Crawl”

    With Halifax’s rich history, Mann hopes that viewers can appreciate not only the region’s pub culture but the stories behind buildings near their homes. “Whether they are pubs, schools, homes, whatever, there is history hidden in plain sight if you are willing to sit down and have a beer with the right person and ask the right questions.”

    The show itself, Man explains, could work in any location around the world covering any point in time in history. “Atlantic Canada has a ton of great locations. St. John’s, Newfoundland would be perfect. The dream would be to take it to Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Boston. Whether it’s the prohibition era in the Americas or going to places like Café de Flore in Paris, there is a lot of history to go around.”

    Still from “Pub Crawl”

    As a writer, Mann encourages others with an original idea to work on projects they can be excited about. “You have to enjoy it, or, I don’t really know what to say. Maybe being a writer isn’t for you. Why would you want to do it if it feels like a chore? I’m a firm believer that if you aren’t enjoying the story you are trying to tell, it will show in the end result.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank NYFA alum, Jon Mann, for sharing more about his latest project and looks forward to what’s next from the writer/director. Pub Crawl premiers November 24, 2020, on Bell TV in Canada.

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    November 13, 2020 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2371

  • NYFA Welcomes Filmmaking Alum and Director Antonio Campos for ‘The Q&A-List Series’

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    On September 29, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with writer/director and NYFA Filmmaking alum Antonio Campos to discuss his latest hit movie on Netflix’s The Devil All The Time with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Antonio Campos’ other notable feature directing credits include the Sundance sensations Christine, starring Rebecca Hall, and Simon Killer, starring Brady Corbet. His debut feature Afterschool premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Caméra d’Or and Un Certain Regard awards. In television, he directed the pilot of the USA Emmy-nominated series The Sinner and served as an Executive Producer for the first season of the anthology series. He has other credits both in Film and TV as producer.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Antonio Campos (Right) for the NYFA Q&A-List Series

    Laiter opened the discussion with the NYFA alum by asking him about how he first got into filmmaking “I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker for a long time and it really started at New York Film Academy,” remembered Campos. He shared a humorous account of how he was too young (13!) to take classes so he posed as a 16 year old so he could take a 6-Week Filmmaking course at NYFA.

    “For six weeks I was living this other reality and my parents were comfortable with me staying up late to edit,” he joked. “My first short film I did at NYFA called Puberty and I remember this moment where I was so nervous to watch the film with an audience that I stayed in the projection room, and I didn’t know how people were reacting. Afterwards, I saw my father crying because he was so proud and it was validation and support that I could feel, so it’s one of the most important moments for me as a filmmaker.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) and Rebecca Hall at ‘Christine’ screening (Photo Credit: Variety)

    Campos then rooted himself in the indie film world, solidifying himself with hits like Martha Marcy May Marlene, which he produced, along with Afterschool and Christine, which he directed. “I made Christine and, in a lot of ways, it led me to getting The Sinner. That became a success and changed the perception of me as someone who can make things work beyond the art house. That’s just patience and letting things organically happen.” To the question of what contributed the most to the success of the movie, he attributed it to the fact that he always takes his time with the script, even if everyone else is impatient. That’s why it takes him four years between movies but ultimately, they get the response he intended them to have.

    Laiter then asked Campos to share more on the making of his hit film The Devil All The Time, which Campos adapted from the original novel and co-wrote with his brother. “The characters felt familiar, but also specific in how he [the author] was rendering the characters and getting into their heads to go to these places with awful people,” revealed Campos.

    Antonio Campos shooting ‘The Devil All The Time’ (Photo Credit: Netflix)

    “It’s an interesting movie to have gotten the wide reception it has. It’s a very disruptive film emotionally. When I talk about the movie, it should feel like you are breathless for two and a half hours until you get in the car with Arvin and then you can catch your breath,” explained Campos.

    With The Devil All The Time boasting a star-studded cast with the likes of Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgård, and more, one audience member asked Campos how he selects actors for his projects. “I like actors that take big swings and make strong choices, along with actors with distinct faces,” he replied. “I ask myself, ‘how do I feel when I meet them,’ because I will be spending a lot of time with them.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) with Robert Pattinson (Right) on set for ‘The Devil All The Time’ (Photo Credit: Netflix)

    Campos also reminded the directors in the audience to “always make your actors feel seen and heard” and reminded the actors in the audience to communicate with other actors on what they need and that a good actor “likes to be around other actors and feed off that energy.”

    With a stacked cast of celebrity actors in his own film, Campos shared that, regardless of star power, his film is, ultimately, character-driven and was “calibrated between people who were more well-known with other character actors or people you may have never seen before.” When it came to casting his film, he shared that he “knew that this film was very different for how we were approaching characters,” and it required the balance of both known and unknown performers, all of whom shine in this ensemble film.

    In one of the last questions of the night, one student asked for tips on how NYFA students can make the jump from student to a seasoned professional in the industry. Campos had this to share with the audience:

    “Everyone’s career is different and times out differently. Always expect that things may take longer than you expect, but keep your network of friends and collaborators close. In my case, it was about being open to getting involved with other filmmakers and their processes to make their movies. Keep making short films before you make your feature. Always try and be working. Short films are such a safe place to make mistakes and learn. Put yourself out there and submit to every film festival and embrace the networking aspect of being a filmmaker. You can be the most talented filmmaker in the world, but if you cannot convey your film into concrete terms, people will not be able to understand your vision.”

    Antonio Campos (Left) with the cast of his film ‘Afterschool’ at NYFF (Photo Credit: Godlis)

    As for what’s next for Campos, the writer-director reveals that he is adapting a comedy piece, as well as a new drama series starring Hollywood heavyweight Harrison Ford. “It’s called The Staircase, based on the documentary on novelist Michael Peterson,” he shared. “I’ve been working on it in some capacity for ten years and it never quite worked as a feature, so now it is going to be a series and it’s set up with HBO Max.”

    Campos closed the conversation by thanking Laiter for the enjoyable discussion and wished NYFA’s next generation of filmmakers the best of luck for their future projects.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank director and NYFA alum Antonio Campos for sharing his time and filmmaking experience with NYFA students and alumni, and looks forward to his upcoming projects including The Staircase.

    To watch Campos’ recent film, The Devil All The Time, the film is available to stream here on Netflix.

    To hear the full conversation, click the video below our watch on our YouTube channel here.

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    October 1, 2020 • Acting • Views: 2107

  • NYFA South Beach Instructor Peter Baloff Holds Virtual Q&A with Emmy Award-Winning Producer and Director Michael Pressman

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    We’re collaborative artists. Our creative process involves working face to face and hand to hand, finding common objectives, and making it all happen. As an instructor at NYFA South Beach during this pandemic, I miss the personal connection with my students and I know my students miss the social and professional interactions with their fellow students. We all miss being there.

    Peter Baloff (Left) holds virtual Q&A with Michael Pressman (Right)

    I keep looking for silver linings in this time of pandemic. I’m upgrading my landscaping, enjoying my wife’s new-found love of baking, reading more and catching up on some pretty good movies and TV shows. But it’s been hard finding silver linings teaching my students on Zoom. But this week, at long last, a silver lining appeared on Zoom, which I’d like to share with you here.

    For the past few years I’ve wanted to invite guest artists to our South Beach campus – accomplished actors, directors, producers, casting directors, cinematographers, so many other journeymen filmmakers with whom I’ve worked over the course of thirty years writing, producing and directing in Los Angeles. 

    As it turns out, Zoom opened the door for my first guest artist invitation. For those who attended, there’s no doubt a good time was had by all – by not only our South Beach students, but all students across NYFA’s campuses. 

    Michael Pressman (Right) on set with Richard Pryor for ‘Some Kind of Hero’

    Michael Pressman directed his first feature film when he was only 26 and went on to direct quite a few big studio hits, including Dr. Detroit and Some Kind of Hero, starring Richard Pryor. He ventured into television, directing TV movies and dozens of episodes of quality TV shows, such as Law and Order, Grey’s Anatomy, The Guardian, and Sneaky Pete. As an Executive Producer, Michael became an experienced “Show Runner,” winning two Emmys for the acclaimed series, Picket Fences. His IMDB speaks for itself. 

    A natural story-teller, Michael regaled us with tales of working with famous actors, dealing with the studio system, casting, getting the most out of collaborating artists, and coping with the ever-changing filmmaking technology. He advised our students on breaking into the business and offer strategies for success. 

    I’m convinced the intimate Zoom platform, allowing Michael and I to talk to each other like old friends, was an ideal and more comfortable format for Michael – far better, I believe than a staged event before a live audience. I’m told by those who watched it, the Zoom meeting with Michael Pressman resembled a late-night talk show, as entertaining as it was informative. 

    Let’s all keep looking for those silver linings, knowing we’ll get together in person very soon.

    For more information on our NYFA South Beach programs, please contact  southbeach@nyfa.edu or check out our website here.

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    July 10, 2020 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing, South Beach • Views: 1905

  • ‘Debris’ by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Julio O. Ramos In Competition at Palm Springs International Shortfest

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    Debris, the award-winning short film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Julio O. Ramos, is screening in competition at this year’s Palm Springs International Shortfest. Ramos is an acting instructor at NYFA-Los Angeles’s Burbank-based campus.Julio O. Ramos

    The film was written by Lucas Micelles from a story by Ramos, who directed the short as well. Debris is a thriller set against the bleak backdrop of human labor trafficking and focuses on Armando (Tenoch Huerta), a hard-working construction foreman who needs to resort to unconventional methods to deal with an accident on his site. After the contractor (Karren Karaguilian) discovers what Armando is up to, Armando is forced to face the consequences of his actions.

    “My intention with Debris is to shed light over this grim world of labor trafficking, focus on the vulnerable lives of illegal construction workers, and break the stereotypical notion that labor trafficking only happens somewhere else,” says Ramos. “We must ask ourselves: Who are the people building the homes of America? Where did they come from? Who hired them? America’s obsession with cheap labor has led to a complicated immigration policy intertwining the everyday American life with the global transgressions of labor trafficking.” 

    Ramos adds, “It happens right here in America and, arguably, we are all responsible.”

    Debris premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and since then has competed in nearly 100 film festivals, picking up awards including Best Narrative Short at the 2018 Sidewalk Film Festival, Special Mention of the Jury at the 2019 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and two Jury Awards for Best Narrative Short Film and Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi.

    Julio O. Ramos

    The film’s latest achievement is screening at the 2019 Palm Springs International Shortfest. The festival, now in its 25th year, takes place across seven days every June, hosting more than 350 short films annually as well as a series of panels, seminars, roundtable discussions, and master classes.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting instructor Julio O. Ramos on the success of Debris and wishes him the best of luck at Palm Springs International Shortfest.

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    June 21, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 2448

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Emmy-Winning Actor Matthew Rhys

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    On Thursday, May 30, New York Film Academy (NYFA) welcomed Emmy-winning actor Matthew Rhys to its New York City campus for a jovial, passionate, and insightful Q&A session with NYFA students. The event was moderated by Amy Van Horne, actress and Creative Director of Acting for Film at NYFA-New York.

    Rhys won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his incredible work on FX series The Americans, a dramatic thriller about undercover Soviet spies living in the 1980s Virginia suburbs. He was previously nominated twice for the role, as well as a third time for his work on HBO’s Girls. Additionally, he received two Golden Globe nominations as well as a plethora of other awards and nominations for both his work on The Americans and other projects. 

    Matthew RhysThe Q&A discussion followed the screening of a reel produced by NYFA featuring Rhys’ well-known and applauded work in the stage play Look Back in Anger (with co-star and previous NYFA guest speaker Adam Driver); films The Edge of Love, Burnt, and Steven Spielberg’s The Post; and television shows Brothers and Sisters and the aforementioned The Americans.

    The actor was more than happy to take multiple questions from students, both in the theater audience and from our South Beach campus, where the event was livestreamed.

    Among other topics, Rhys discussed the grueling process of acting with an American accent (Rhys is native to Wales), and said that there are always two things that happen before he recites a line: first, he has to decide if the sound will come out right, and then he has to act the part as he speaks.

    The actor was also asked which was his favorite character to play, and he replied that The Americans’ Philip Jennings is definitely his favorite, given the complexity of the show and the intricacies of the character. When asked about how he prepares emotionally to get into character—since undercover spy Philip Jennings has so many false identities—Rhys said that he always tries to identify parts of the characters that he shares a truth with to lend a sense of authenticity to each part.

    Matthew Rhys

    When asked about his favorite director to work with, he said of course that it was the director of The Americans, but also elaborated on his experience working with Steven Spielberg on The Post. “It was like working with God,” Rhys told the audience, “and everyone in the room knew it.”

    Rhys has also directed several television episodes as well as a documentary short. When asked about his role as a director, he responded that a film set is a forest, and that everyone involved on set is a tree that thinks they’re the only one in that forest. He added that directing made him better at time management.

    One student asked for advice on auditioning. Rhys advised students not to try and show off in an effort to differentiate themselves. Now that he’s on the other side of the casting table as a producer on the new Perry Masonwhich he will also star in—he’s noted that in auditions that “those who serve the script more than they serve themselves” always stand out.

    “Turn up on time, know your lines, be bold, and great gods will come to your aid,” Rhys told the captivated audience.

    New York Film Academy thanks Golden Globe-nominated and Emmy-winning actor Matthew Rhys for taking the time to share his advice and experiences with our New York and South Beach students. 

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    June 4, 2019 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2630

  • Q&A with Oscar-Nominated Producer, Director, and Editor Sam Pollard

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    Legendary producer, director, and editor Sam Pollard led a spirited “Conversation with…” and Q&A session after a rousing screening of his latest documentary Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me at New York Film Academy (NYFA).  A capacity crowd at NYFA’s Theatre in New York City was captivated by the film, which traces the iconic entertainer’s life from his youth in Harlem to international stardom— from Hollywood to Broadway to Las Vegas and beyond. 

    Sam Pollard

    (from L to R): NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman, NYFA Docs Chair Andrew Swift, Filmmaker Sam Pollard, NYFA Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin

    NYFA students were inspired by Sam Pollard’s recollection of his early career, when he gravitated towards an editing career after a Public Broadcasting internship program. He went on to cut narrative features as well as documentaries, most notably working with Spike Lee on films including Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Clockers, and Bamboozled. In 1998, Pollard and Lee were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for 4 Little Girls.

    Pollard moved into producing and directing while working on Eyes on the Prize, still considered the seminal work on the American Civil Rights Movement.  Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me capped NYFA’s celebration of Black History Month. Made for American Master/PBS, other Sam Pollard projects made for the series include works about August Wilson and Zora Neale Hurston.

    “Filmmaking is hard work but it’s like magic when it works. Now it feels seamless, and that to me is that magic of filmmaking,” Pollard explained to the audience.

    The evening was a co-production of NYFA’s Producing, Screenwriting, and Documentary departments, moderated by respective Chairs, Neal Weisman, Randy Dottin, and Andrea Swift. Pollard told the students in attendance, “If you’re here because you love to create, be compassionate, committed, and willing. Learn the craft and be proud of what you’ve done.” 

    He added, “As aspiring filmmakers, you should be committed to making the best possible film you can make, and if you hang in there, you will be rewarded.”

    The New York Film Academy thanks Oscar-nominated producer, director, and editor Sam Pollard for sharing his experience and wisdom with our students and encourages everyone to check out Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

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