Documentary graduate, Louis Mole, sits down with us to discuss his experience at the New York Film Academy.
“It is such a hands-on intensive course, and it really drills into every single aspect of the filmmaking program from directing to producing, photography, and editing.” said Louis Mole. “You come out of the program with the fundamental expertise of every single aspect of making a film – which is so unique.”
Immediately after graduating the New York Film Academy, Louis went to Singapore and worked on 2 series. One of which was Asian Swindlers, a six part series about Asian conmen, in which Louis wrote 3 episodes and oversaw the edit.
After Singapore, Louis came back to New York where he currently works for the production company behind the Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winning Documentary, The House I Live In.
With 5 years of college education and some work in television and media, Andrea Picco was looking for a school that focused on the hands-on experience and not just theory. “I first enrolled in the 4 week digital filmmaking class just to see how I would like the school and if it really was what I was looking for,” said Andrea. “The very first day we were already out shooting! Those 4 weeks were the longest of my life. I wrote, directed, casted and shot 2 short films and a short documentary. In the process, I learned everything about digital cameras, film vocabulary, menu setting, lenses, proper lighting, F-stops, etc.”
After finishing the documentary, Andrea decided to enroll in the one year documentary class. “Looking back, I know it was the right decision. New York Film Academy is a place where you can become a filmmaker within a year – if you take it seriously and work hard. It is no nonsense. The equipment they provide is great and updated. The staff is very helpful and friendly. The Head of the Documentary Department, Andrea Swift, is absolutely amazing, passionate and inspiring. We had producers, filmmakers, production companies and even Discovery Channel executives come to our classes. Our thesis editing supervisor was Bob Eisenhardt.”
While enrolled in the One Year Documentary Class, Andrea Picco knew she wanted to produce her thesis film on a story related to human trafficking. After filming a promo video for a non-profit in 2008, she met a woman who was a survivor of human trafficking. Andrea shortly became friends with the woman and was soon on her way to Ohio to film what would become her thesis film.
The Girl Next Door is a story of redemption and empowerment.”When you first hear about ‘Human Trafficking’ you usually think it only happens overseas in 3rd world countries, but we don’t usually think about American kids and teens.” The film tells the story of how Theresa survived two years of sex trafficking in the suburbs of Detroit and how she overcame her past to became an abolitionist.
Andrea’s film has been to four film festivals and has won two awards. She plans to turn her short film into a full feature. Andrea is also planning to start filming a documentary about the human trafficking business in Corona, Queens. As Andrea says, “Great stories are easy to find when you keep your heart and eyes open.”
Congratulations to Mohamed Hamdy, New York Film Academy Documentary graduate and Cinematographer of the much anticipated, The Square, which premiered at The Sundance Film Festival! The Square, a new film by Jehane Noujaim, looks at the hard realities faced day-to-day by people working to build Egypt’s new democracy. Catapulting us into the action spread across 2011 and 2012, the film provides a kaleidoscopic, visceral experience of the struggle. Cairo’s Tahrir Square is the heart and soul of the film, which follows several young activists. Armed with values, determination, music, humor, an abundance of social media, and sheer obstinacy, they know that the thorny path to democracy only began with Hosni Mubarek’s fall. The life-and-death struggle between the people and the power of the state is still playing out.
In February 2011, Egyptian, particularly young one, showed the world the way people demanding change can drive an entire nation to transformation. The result was a profound movement toward democracy that is still evolving across the Arab world.
Hamdy shot over 500 hours of the Tahir Square revolution as he lived it, and ended up the Cinematographer of Jehane Noujaim’s new documentary made from inside the Tahir Square revolution by young Egyptians who were (and still are) part of it.
“Aside from Hamdy’s excellent cinematography, my favorite thing about The Square is that it is about and by people who lived it – and are still living – the revolution,” said NYFA Documentary Chair, Andrea Swift. “Hearing their voices, rather than that of third party reporters, makes this the most immediate and important accounting of the one seminal events of our century. Not to mention, it’s the best.”
Reality television has caught on all over the world and Italy is no different. One of its popular shows Clio Make Up on Discovery Italy recently finished shooting its second season. In the second series, the famous makeup artist Clio Zammateo continues her journey into the wonderful world of cosmetics. This time from New York City. In each episode, Clio shows two women how to apply makeup in a professional manner, erasing the small imperfections and creating the perfect look for a special occasion.
This past season, New York Film Academy Documentary graduate, Marco Vitale was Media Manager of the popular Italian show. Marco wrapped production on the second season on July 2nd of this year. “It was my first TV experience and it was awesome,” said Marco. “I had the chance to work closely with the director, Angelo Vitale, who directed the first 5 seasons of Big Brother in Italy and many others TV shows.”
While living in Italy, Marco was in search of a prominent documentary school in New York City. Though uncertain of New York Film Academy‘s Documentary program in the beginning, Marco was convinced to join the program by Documentary Chair, Andrea Swift. “I decided to apply for the One Year Documentary Program and after a year since graduating, I’m quite sure that it was the best decision of my life.”
Documentary Filmmaker Nancy Hanzhang Shen is in charge of New York Film Academy’s Chinese Social Media and works as a liaison with Chinese colleges. Her latest documentary film Why Am I Still Alive was a finalist for the US Student Academy Awards®2012 andWinner of Best shorts Documentary Festival 2012. The film has screened at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in New York City, White Sands International Film Festival 2012, and the China International Education Fair on Cultural & Creative Industries Exhibition. The film is currently screening at New York City Independent Film Festival 2012.
Here are just a few words of appraisal from respected industry professionals:
“What a beautiful, heartbreaking film. Exquisitely done, and my heart aches for the film’s subject.”— Ilene Starger, member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
“The film is a wonderful piece of work. It deserves to be really widely seen.” —Tom Hurwitz, ASC Four Academy Awards for Best Full-length Documentary
“You didn’t give up! That is what it takes to be a filmmaker. You are only one person and you can and will make a difference.” — Maryann Deleo, ACADEMY AWARD winning filmmaker (Chernobyl Heart)
The NYC Independent Film Festival will screen the film at the Producers Club on Sunday, Oct 21st, 2012.
The Producer’s Club is located at 358 West 44th Street New York, NY 10036 (Between 8 ave and 9 ave.)
Director and NYFA Editing Instructor Rodney Ascher recently returned from the Cannes Film Festival where his first feature film, Room 237, was one of only two American films in the Directors’ Fortnight. His documentary explores numerous theories about Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, The Shining, and its hidden meanings. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and received glowing reviews from the major press. Here’s a roundup.
New York Times examined the documentary and called it an “intriguing” look at a growing subculture of Kubrick fans which has developed over the years.
“One of the great movies about movies…” – Variety.
On his blog, New York Magazine film critic Bilge Ebiri chose Room 237 as his Sundance pick. “The film expresses, better than any movie I can think of right now, the feeling of being lost inside the world of a film, and by extension being lost inside the world of film.”
“A brilliant work of alternative film criticism – and critique of criticism.” – LA Weekly.
“Kubrick was my first favorite filmmaker,” says Ascher, “and one whose work has stuck with me throughout my life – The Shining in particular. The first time I saw it, I managed to sit through about 10 minutes. The music in particular filled me with an overwhelming sense of dread and doom that was more than I could take. It soon became one of my favorites.”
Ascher says the idea for the film came after a chance Facebook posting. “My friend, Tim Kirk, who went on to become a producer of the film, posted an analysis of [The Shining] on my Facebook page. I became interested in the phenomenon — lots of people bringing up radical ideas. I thought we could make a pretty comprehensive field guide to what was in the film. It soon became clear that we could only get the tip of the iceberg.” Room 237 shares theories about The Shining from five people, told through voice over, film clips, animations, and dramatic reenactments. Ascher describes it as “not just a demonstration about how it has captured people’s imaginations, but also how people react to movies, and literature, and the arts in general.”
The film was chosen to screen as part of the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes alongside Michel Gondry’s The We and the I. Room 237 is being distributed by IFC in North America and Wild Bunch in France. Watch for a theatrical release later this year. “It’s very exciting,” says Ascher, “I’d been used to being sort of an outcast with short films, screening to more … select groups. It was great. The screenings were packed, we were in a gigantic theater, got great press … I’m sure anyone would be excited.”
See yourself premiering your movie at Sundance, screening it at Cannes, and getting fawned over by critics? Then look into our school and decide if it’s the right path for you.
New York City is often considered the matron metropolis impacting creativity and commerce throughout the globe. Many of our students do indeed pursue the career path illuminated by those glorious Hollywood lights. A peculiar breed of cinematic visionaries, however, has appeared in the arts and cultural scene seeking opportunities outside of movie studios and inside the illustrious world of New York high fashion. One student has stepped forward as arbiter of a brave artistic movement in a cultural age saturated by faux-freedom and endless hipster posturing. Steep Daniels (Cinematography ‘11) is spearheading the vision of NEON Americana.
“NEON Americana represents a new breed of young people, a new way of living. We are freed from social constructs, breaking through into the life they’ve always dreamed of. It represents the new way of living in which its vibrant characters charge through life, never taking ‘no’ for an answer—inspired to be the biggest, best version of themselves. They envision a post-apocalyptic America. One in which a lone television set appears to be the last one left after a cataclysmic event of epic proportions. We look inside the screen to find the next wave of Mankind: the NEON generation.”
As its name implies, NEON’s visual aesthetic is unapologetic in its brightly bold nod to the American spirit. Canadian-bred and hailing from Toronto, Steep exudes a passion which is reminiscent of the unabashed artistic ambition now seen as legend. The sort of creative character—a purity long lost—made famous by the Mudd Club kids in the late 70’s. The young Basquiat as graffiti artist SAMO. A sprightly Glenn O’Brien decades prior to his arrival at GQ magazine. Creatives fueled by youth and an earnestness, they were making their mark with a devil-may-care attitude of art trumps artist. When NYFA produces filmmakers like Daniels who conjure this golden nostalgia through a splashy collaboration with celebrity designer Stevie Boi, we want the student body to stand up and take notice. Stevie Boi’s ascent in fashion is remarkable. Backed by endorsements from pop culture icons Lady GaGa and Madonna, Boi is garnering acclaim for his ability to create drama through his designs. Therefore it is fascinating that he is becoming a character player in the vast NEON universe, a film series about artistic redemption in the heat of dystopian despair. The first subject of this series, Boi collaborated with Daniels in order to proclaim a new world order in the creative arts. “I’ve wanted to do a fashion film with a big artist for a long time and wanted to work with someone who represented a new form of fashion,” said Daniels.
Daniels has enlisted fellow NYFA students Sandra Stakic (Documentary Filmmaking ‘12) and Markus E. Mueller (Cinematography ‘10) to assist in building the NEON brand. Stakic is working on a nonfiction film documenting the creative process of Daniels while Mueller acts as Director of Photography for the project. Stakic credits Daniels for the concept and execution of NEON. As she explained, “It’s his energy which draws people. His willingness to collaborate inspires others around him to be creative.” Becoming friends on their first day of classes at NYFA, the graduates credit the NYFA faculty for inspiring their drive to succeed. “Andrea Swift was incredible. The documentary students became a family in the end. There was healthy competition and a total respect for the filmmaking process,” says Stakic. Recounting 18-hour work days, Daniels credits department chair John Loughlin for teaching him how to “connect the dots” and to stay focused on storytelling no matter the chaos being wrought on set. He also described a creative process unhindered by the oft-cited idea called financial compensation. Everyone involved, including set designers and actors, were not paid. As Daniels explained, “We did it for the passion of being creative. Boi came to Toronto on a bus to work on this film and told me that he was inspired by our willingness to bring everything and ask for nothing.”
Daniels is entering the New York arts scene in full force. NEON Americana will be screened during the Stevie Boi show for New York Fashion Week tomorrow on February 9th. He is also a part of SPiN New York’s annual Valentine’s Day benefit for M.A.D.A on February 14th hosted by the prince of Madagascar and actress Susan Sarandon. He designed the ping-pong table to be auctioned in order to raise proceeds for the foundation. Daniels is committed to expanding the NEON movement to include creative collaboration outside of the world of fashion. Working for passion with no promises, Steep Daniels never expected to have his art become a centerpiece for a designer deemed as the next fashion icon by Vogue Italia. He is living his vision aimed at shifting the paradigm of creativity and commerce.
We encourage students to think outside of the box. How far can your creativity go? Will you take the necessary risks in order to create something greater than yourself?