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  • NYFA Student’s “Soul” Screening at Berlin International Film Festival

    pedro peiraThe Berlin International Film Festival is underway, and we’re thrilled to see New York Film Academy Los Angeles Fulbright student Pedro Peira is Executive Producer of the documentary film “Soul,” which will be screening at the festival this Sunday, Feb. 12 and Monday, Feb. 13.

    The Spanish documentary, from filmmakers José Antonio Blanco and Ángel Parra, focuses on Eneko Atxa, a three Michelin star chef who runs a restaurant complex near Bilbao in the Basque region. His exploration of the “soul” of cooking has him traveling to famous colleagues in Catalonia and Japan. Throughout the documentary, some of the most relevant personalities of international gastronomy such as Michael Ellis, manager of the Michelin guide, or Joël Robuchon, the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world, take us into the secrets and the vicissitudes of a profession based on effort, which is continually being reinvented and requires huge sacrifices.

    pedro peira
    “What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories,” said Peira. “Of course I’ve learned about image and sound, which are also important, but being able to include some kind of drama in a story stands out above the rest. As a matter of fact, during the final editing process of ‘Soul’ I would call the director while he was editing the film and, after watching the cuts together, he applied what I was discovering at NYFA. I think is has helped the film.”

    “SOUL” Trailer from Festimania Pictures on Vimeo.

    “Even though I’ve just finished my first semester at NYFA, I’ve felt an evolution in my work,” added Peira. “When I arrived, my approach to documentary was an informational one. After screening my final project of the semester, I felt that I had started to be able to generate emotions. When people laugh or cry when watching your films, you know you have been doing something right.”

    For tickets and more information on “Soul” and its screening at the Berlin Film Festival, CLICK HERE.

    February 10, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2399

  • NYFA Doc Grads Work on Ryan Gosling GQ Video

    With a record number of Academy Award nominations, “La La Land” is certainly the talk-of-the-town. Recently, GQ provided a behind the scenes with “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling at a photo shoot at the Gellért Thermal Bath in Budapest.


    Two New York Film Academy Documentary alumni had their hand in the video, as both Susi Dollnig and Nina Thomas work at the post-production company House of Trim, which provided the post-production for the video. Dollnig was the Colorist and Thomas was the Assistant Editor on this specific video.

    House of Trim is a boutique post-production facility located in the heart of NYC. The team consists of a collective of talented editors, motion graphics artists and color graders who specialize in feature films, commercial campaigns, documentaries and branded content. Dollnig has been working at the company for about four years as a Colorist, and Thomas joined the company in October 2015 as an Assistant Editor, and recently started taking on editing jobs as well.

    Both Dollnig and Thomas often does post-production work for GQ Magazine and for the Condé Nast group.

    January 26, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1391

  • NYFA Docs Presents “Hashknife Pony Express”

    For 58 years, members of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Posse have participated in the Hashknife Pony Express, a 200-mile horseback ride that brings the Old West back to life.

    A team from the Documentary Department at New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus accompanied the riders from Holbrook to Scottsdale, Arizona and have just released this short documentary entitled “Hashknife Pony Express.”


    The historic Pony Express was only in operation delivering the mail for about 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861, and was never routed through Arizona. Llike the original riders, the Hashknife Pony Express members are sworn in as official representatives of the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the mail along the route from Holbrook to Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Over three days, each horse and rider takes multiple one-mile legs, passing the mail bag from rider to rider, often at full gallop.

    NYFA students Claudio Duek, Steve Estrada, Eva Luna Marini and Alejandro Talens and NYFA LA Documentary Chair Barbara Multer-Wellin split into teams to capture the action along the route. The film was edited by NYFA alumna Michelle Flores and mixed by Instructor John Sisti of the NYFA LA Sound Department.

    January 24, 2017 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1054

  • NYFA Doc Alumnus Working as Associate Producer at NBC

    cj ferroniAfter four years as a middle school teacher, CJ Ferroni noticed his students would often have laser focus when watching a documentary on a subject he was teaching. His fascination with documentaries and the production process that goes into each project grew exponentially until the point where decided to pursue the field as a potential career. His passion led him to study at the Documentary Program at the New York Film Academy and he is now an alumnus of the program working as an Associate Producer at NBC.

    As Associate Producer, Ferroni has worked on season 8 of the true crime doc-series, “Disappeared”; a 6 hour documentary pilot series called “Reasonable Doubt” about current wrongfully convicted people in the process of exoneration; and a 4 hour doc series called “SEAL Team 6,” chronicling the history of the now infamous SEAL team.

    We caught up with the former school teacher to find out more about his career change and his current position at NBC!

    Once you decided on pursuing documentary filmmaking, what made you chose the Documentary Program at NYFA?

    I chose the documentary program at NYFA after spending four years as a middle school teacher. As a teacher, I often used documentaries to supplement lessons. Students had laser focus when watching a documentary on whatever subject we were learning about, and I found them to be great tools in the classroom. Prior to teaching, I was always amazed at how many names were in the credit reels of films and just how much man (and woman) power went into making a 90 minute piece of content. I was fascinated by the filmmaking process, specifically documentaries, but didn’t have any hands on experience. I had stories I wanted to tell and believed that the visual medium is the most effective form of story telling today, so I needed to put some tools in my tool box. That’s where NYFA came in. They stood out to me among various film schools around the country because of their intensive hands on curriculum, a faculty of real filmmakers, and a strong network of employed alumni.

    ferroni on set

    How did the Associate Producer position at NBC come about?

    This position came about like most do in my experience, good timing and word of mouth. Your reputation and the networks you create as you climb the production ladder are everything. This is a big city but nonfiction filmmaking is a small world. Work hard, show up early, be nice, and be fun to work with and you are already more hire-able than most people.

    Was NYFA’s Doc program useful in terms of getting the job?

    NYFA’s Doc program was definitely useful in getting hired by NBC. If I look back at the path that I took from graduation to right now, everything stemmed from the bridges built at NYFA. Also, through classmates’ critiques and my successes and failures at NYFA, I have a foundation of experience and confidence in my abilities as a storyteller that I use every day.

    Was NYFA useful in terms of what you’re currently working on at NBC?

    NYFA gave me technical skills with editing software, cameras, lighting, and sound that directly apply to every job I’ve had since graduation, including my current job. Obviously, I don’t do all of those things at NBC, however, the knowledge of those areas helps me understand the needs of those departments, and helps me communicate, write, and plan shoots efficiently and accurately. Anyone who has been through the doc program at NYFA has also been taught the importance of having a good story. The ability to structure and portray a compelling story is everything in this line of work. The last thing I want to mention is planning. NYFA taught me how to plan my own shoot, figure out what gear I want to use, what crew I want to work with, and how to effectively write a call sheet. I had no idea how often I would be writing call sheets after graduation…

    cj ferroni set

    Which specific projects at NBC are you most proud to have worked on?

    I think the project that I’m most proud to have worked on at NBC is a 90-minute documentary on Alexander Hamilton. It was a great experience in the field. We shot at different museums and historical houses around NYC with a crew of 75 people, and an additional 17 actors. I also had the chance to do some camera work and meet and interview some incredible authors, CEOs, politicians, and popular journalists. I had a big role in planning every aspect of those shoots and it was a lot of fun… plus, we didn’t break anything in the museums.

    Is there a specific project that you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

    Currently, I’m working as an Associate Producer for season 5 of the doc-series “Deadline Crime” with Tamron Hall. We are investigating the unsolved murder of a 12-year-old boy, Garrett Phillips, that made national headlines from 2011-2016.

    January 20, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1331

  • Jonathan Shaw Presents “Finding Noah” to NYFA LA

    shaw and barbara

    Jonathan P. Shaw with NYFA LA Chair of Documentary Barbara Multer-Wellin

    On Wednesday, Jan. 6th, Jonathan P. Shaw presented his documentary “Finding Noah” for students at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus. NYFA LA Chair of Documentary Barbara Multer-Wellin hosted the evening.

    Shaw has balanced a career between documentary and narrative. He is best known as an editor. His greatest hits include “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”, “Blue Velvet,” “Twin Peaks,” and “Disneynature: Wings of Life.”

    His latest project, “Finding Noah,” which he produced, wrote, and directed, is an intense documentary following a scientific exploration into the whereabouts of the fabled ark.

    Shaw was raised Catholic and has been fascinated by the story of the ark for years. He traced the history throughout different religious texts and oral histories. Multer-Wellin wanted to know how Shaw towed the line between controversy, faith, and telling the story.

    Before he left, Shaw had one final piece of advice for students, “I really feel blessed to do all the projects I do. It’s not like it’s not a struggle. Going freelance there’s a risk. But I’ve been able to maintain a marriage for 37 years and send two kids to college. My advice to you is just keep on going.”

    shaw

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Shaw for taking the time to speak with our students. “Finding Noah” is now available for rent on Amazon Video.

    January 17, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1344

  • NYFA Doc Students Talk with Legendary Documentary Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

    On November 21, 2016, MFA documentary students from New York Film Academy Los Angeles had the opportunity to listen in on a conversation with legendary documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, sponsored by the International Documentary Association.

    DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

    Hegedus and Pennebaker have captured moments of history — from Senator John F. Kennedy’s run for the Democratic nomination in “Primary” to James Carville’s dictum, “It’s the economy, stupid” during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in “The War Room” and the first dot.com mania in “Startup.com.” They’ve portrayed musicians from Bob Dylan to Janis Joplin, Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Branford Marsalis, Emmylou Harris and many more. Pennebaker was one of the pioneers of the Direct Cinema movement of the 1960s that rejected on camera interviews in favor of the so-called “fly on the wall” approach to documentary filmmaking. Together their films have influenced the realms of documentary, music video, and reality television.

    The New York Film Academy students were treated to a riveting clip from the pair’s newest film, “Unlocking the Cage,” about animal rights attorney Steven Wise and his thirty-year fight to break down the legal walls that separate humans and animals. Wise is just the latest in a long series of subjects whose essential humanity shines through in their films.

    “A documentary filmmaker is like a playwright,” Pennebaker told the audience. “He fills a stage with people no one has ever seen before and he has to make them unforgettable.”

    December 2, 2016 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1236

  • NYFA Doc’s Second Annual Pitch Session

    On Monday, October 17, 2016, two representatives from the Sundance Documentary Program, Rahdi Taylor (Film Fund Director) and Hajnal Molnár-Szakács (Film Fund Coordinator), came to New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus for the Second Annual Pitch Practice session. This is a chance for NYFA LA documentary students to present their works in progress and receive feedback from an expert panel.

    nyfa doc

    The women from Sundance began their presentation by explaining what the Sundance Institute hoped to get out of the documentaries they take on.

    “We talk about films having meaning and moral purpose. When we say moral, I mean in the sense that the stories matter somehow to someone. There must be a journey ahead. We’re rarely going to pick a past facing bio-doc or a Ken Burns kind of epic piece. We want an uncertain journey that lies ahead, the outcome of which really matters to somebody,” said Taylor.

    “It’s important that people understand that one can participate in the Sundance Institute without participating in the festival,” Molnár-Szakács began. Though they share a name, the festival and institution operate independently of one another.

    Between 1.5 million and 2 million dollars a year is dedicated to the Sundance Institute both domestically and internationally. Characteristics they’re looking for in documentaries includes artful, creative, cinematic, pushing the boundaries of what documentaries are, a film that can reach audiences, and something that will be a catalyst for change.

    nyfa la doc pitch

    The Institute awards financial grants, which are non-recoupable; meaning you don’t have to pay them back. The grants grew out of the Soros Foundation. Initially, the fund was established with a social justice focus, but that focus broadened over the years.

    Molnár-Szakács expounded that idea saying, “It is partial funding. Whatever the budget of the film, we’re not necessarily funding the entire film, unless you’re shooting some place it’s very cheap to make the film.”

    Our judges perked upon hearing one student’s pitch about trying to find love over age 65. “Docs can be really heavy, so it’s nice to see something lighter,” Taylor said. The pitch was for a 30 minute short, but they encouraged the director to try for a feature. They felt the story could expand up to at least two years.

    nyfa la doc

    They also spoke to the students about how to secure funding. “No one is going to buy a finished film,” Taylor said. She continued, “Make sure if you get the funding you secure funding from more than one major source.” As an example, they said if you were to make a movie about cars and you had to fund from Ford, you’d also want to get Chrysler or Prius to fund you as well, or organizations like Sundance and PBS won’t pick up the film.

    We spoke to one student, Mira Hammour, about her experience. “This was my first time pitching. I got a lot of good feedback and I feel confident going into my next pitch.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Rahdi Taylor and Hajnal Molnár-Szakács for taking the time to help our students improve their pitching technique. For more information on The Sundance Institute’s Documentary Fund Grant click the link here.

    October 31, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1485

  • NYFA Presents Screening Series with Jonathan Demme

    stranger than fiction

    New York Film Academy is pleased to present Academy Award winner, Jonathan Demme, with a retrospective of his documentary films in the special Fall season of Thom Powers’ “Stranger Than Fiction” screening series every Tuesday night through Nov. 1 at 7:00pm at IFC Center. Just last night Demme screened The Agronomist.

    Famous for block-buster movies like his Oscar-winner, “Silence of the Lambs,” Demme then essentially left Hollywood for New York, and for documentaries (though he has directed a couple of fiction films since).

    Esteemed Toronto Film Festival and DOC NYC programmer, Thom Powers, and Raphaela Neihausen programmed this exclusive Stranger Than Fiction retrospective series.  Here they present a short season of extremely rare screenings of some of the rock docs and social protest films that helped form decades of American counter-culture.  Simultaneously fun and powerful, every single film programmed is a must see.

    Upcoming Screenings:

    10/18 Neil Young: Heart Of Gold

    10/25  I am Caroline Parker: The Good, The Mad and the Ugly

    October 12, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1246

  • NYFA Los Angeles Documentary & Photography Excursion to the Dominican Republic

    Each year, MFA, BFA, One-Year and Two-Year photography students, as well as MFA and One-Year documentary students are invited on a one-week exotic trip. This year the New York Film Academy Los Angeles headed on an exotic excursion to the Dominican Republic. The team was led by Documentary Chair Barbara Multer-Wellin, Production Sound Instructor James Coburn IV, and Photography Instructor David Blumenkrantz. Joining their instructors were documentary students Guangli Zhu, Carolina Sosa and Yuan Li, as well as photography students Brenda Cantu and Ziomara Ramirez.

    Along the trip, Ms. Multer-Wellin kept a log of this incredible journey that captured the exotic landscape and culture of the Dominican Republic.

    September 16, 2016

    dominican rep

    We left Los Angeles at 11:00 PM, switched planes in New York and arrived in Santo Domingo the next afternoon. We spent the rest of the day getting acclimated and renting some lighting and grip equipment from a local rental house. Afterwards, we had dinner at an oceanside restaurant, as a huge orange Harvest Moon rose in the sky.

    September 17

    ruins dr

    After a quick stop at a local cambio to change dollars into Dominican pesos, the NYFA team started filming the streets of Santo Domingo. The team began at the ruins of the Monastery of San Francisco, built in 1503. Walking through the local streets we filmed street vendors, performers, painters, young couples, an evangelist, domino players, and a trio of musicians playing Merengue Tipico — the traditional form of the Dominican national dance and music.

    Since we’re here to make a documentary about Merengue, this was a great stroke of luck. Dinner was at a restaurant in Santo Domingo’s China Town. Our two Chinese team members, Guangli and Yuan, were able to speak with the owners in Chinese, although their dialects were not the same. Somehow, in a mixture of Spanish, Chinese and English, we managed to order a real feast.

    September 18

    dom rep

    Today was all about challenges and overcoming them. Our NYFA crew was scheduled to interview the noted Dominican percussionist and folklorist Edis Sanchez at his new apartment. But we soon discovered that Mr. Sanchez had yet to move in, so the apartment was empty (luckily he brought his drums and some chairs). We were able to film a great interview with available light and a single bounce board.

    That evening we filmed an outdoor Merengue concert and dance party with the band Grupo Bonyé at the ruins of the San Francisco Monastery, first built in 1503. We hope to interview the band’s leader, Señor Nestor Sanchez, later this week, a great addition to our documentary about the importance of Merengue in the Dominican Republic and just maybe our reward for hanging in there.

    September 19

    dancers dr

    By our third full day we had adjusted to the realities of filming here in Santo Domingo. Traffic on weekdays rivals Los Angeles — it just takes more time than you think to get anywhere, even with the expertise of our driver/new friend Victor. We spent the morning filming more establishing shots for the opening sequence of our documentary, including the first cemetery built in Santo Domingo; a haunting and eerily beautiful place full of crosses, angels and a few stray dogs. Next were a flower/flea market, the Presidential Palace and an upscale residential area. This is a city of stark differences between the way the rich and poor live, like most cities. We spent the afternoon at the Palace of Fine Arts where we were fortunate to be able to film the fantastic dancers from the Ballet Folklorico Nacional Dominco as they rehearsed three Merengue pieces. One couple demonstrated the basic steps of Merengue for our cameras. Tomorrow, an interview with Elizabeth Crooke Morel, Director of Ballet Folklorico Nacional Dominco, and Nestor Sanchez, from the great band that played at the concert at the ruins of the San Francisco Monastery.

    September 20

    sanchez

    The New York Film Academy LA documentary crew began the day back at the Palace of Fine Arts in Santo Domingo to interview the Director of the Ballet Folklorico Nacional Dominco, Elizabeth Crooke Morel who told us more about the elements of the dance Merengue. After a quick stop to film more establishing shots in a shopping area in the city, we all piled back into the van. Soon we arrived at the home of musician Nestor Sanchez. Señor Sanchez spoke movingly about the history of Merengue and the profound meaning it holds for the Dominican people.

    September 27, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1946

  • NYFA Doc LA Program Joins Talk with Werner Herzog

    werner herzog

    Students from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Documentary Filmmaking program recently had the opportunity to hear Werner Herzog speak as part of the International Documentary Association’s ongoing Conversation Series.

    Herzog is one of the most celebrated and influential documentary filmmakers of our time. His documentaries range from Little Dieter Needs to Fly, a film about a German-American Vietnam War vet who revisits his place of capture at the hands of the Vietcong, to Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a look inside one of the oldest caves in the world and the study of how early man lived. Herzog’s documentaries never fail to provoke profound questions about human nature. Other notable works include Into the Abyss, Encounters at the End of the World, On Death Row, Rescue Dawn, Grizzly Man, and The Enigma of Casper Hauser.

    Herzog encouraged the audience to “have a strong affinity or respect for those in front of your camera” and to aim to “take the audience into a land of rogue insight and poetry.”

    MFA student Guangli Zhou said, “’I just wrote an essay about him a couple weeks ago. I’m in front of him right now. It’s an awesome experience.”

    MFA student Camilla Borel Rinkes wanted to thank Herzog for, “sharing your inspiring stories and for motivating me to keep broadening my horizon.”

    September 26, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1592