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  • NYFA Screenwriting Instructor Paul J. Salamoff Wins at 46th Annual Saturn Awards

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    Paul J. Salamoff, writer, director, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Instructor, received recognition for his latest feature film, Encounter (2019), at the 46th Annual Saturn Awards. The film was awarded ‘Best Independent Film’ at the Awards Ceremony and features a star-studded cast. The Saturn Awards, presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, recognizes great work in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. The non-profit organization was founded in 1972 and just a year later organized the first annual Saturn Awards.  

    Encounter stars Luke Hemsworth (Westworld), Anna Hutchison (Cabin in the Woods), Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon, Halloween III, Creepshow), Cheryl Texiera (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Glenn Keogh (Transformers: Age of Extinction), Vincent M. Ward (The Walking Dead), and Christopher Showerman (George of the Jungle 2). The film was produced by Amy Bailey and distributed by Vega Baby. 

    Encounter follows the story of a wheelchair-bound artist who, after having lost everything in a car crash (including his daughter), experiences hardship once more when his friends discover an otherworldly object crashed in a rural field. He continues to investigate in order to confirm if the strange alien life form has nefarious intentions or if it could be the key to getting back what he once lost. 

    Salamoff, the writer and director of Encounter, describes the film as “a deeply personal film to me and was shaped by the films and filmmakers that have inspired me over the years. Even though it is about loss, grief, and the fear of the unknown, ultimately it’s about hope.” The film is now available for viewing on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and released on Special Edition Blu-Ray.

    Screen still from Bob Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Screen still from Paul Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    The film was inspired by legendary science fiction shows and movies including, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Gattaca, Solaris, Another Earth, Moon, Ex-Machina, and Arrival. Salamoff explored themes of loss, grief, and fear of the unknown in Encounter, with the underlying story surrounding the subject of hope. 

    An industry expert with over 30 years of professional experience in film, television, video gaming, and commercials, Salamoff has worked as a writer, producer, director, executive, comic creator, storyboard artist, and make-up FX artist. He was recently named one of The Tracking Board’s Top 100 up & coming Screenwriters and has developed projects with Mosaic Media Group, Hollywood Gang, Blumhouse, Wigram Productions, Silver Pictures, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Vertigo and Eclectic Pictures. 

    Screen still from Bob Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Screen still from Paul Salamoff’s Encounter (2019)

    Salamoff is the author of ‘ON THE SET: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette’ and the graphic novels ‘Discord,’ ‘Tales of Discord,’ ‘Logan’s Run,’ and issues of ‘Vincent Price Presents.’

    New York Film Academy congratulates Paul Salamoff for his much-deserved win and recognition for the film Encounter at this year’s Annual Saturn Awards.

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    November 23, 2021 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 1137

  • NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Shoots ‘I Love Us’ Now Available on Amazon Prime

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    Instructor of Filmmaking and Cinematographer at the New York Film Academy’s NYC campus, Hernán Toro, recently shot a new feature-length film, I Love Us (2021). Released in select movie theaters across several cities in the United States, I Love Us is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. 

    Directed by and starring Danny A. Abeckaser and written by Kosta Kondilopoulos, the film follows the story of a criminal (Danny Abeckaser) born into a crime syndicate, who must choose between his love for a single mother (Katie Cassidy) and his career in heisting. In order to leave his past, he must commit one last act of crime to offer his new family the life they deserve. 

    Toro discusses his artistic approach toward filming, “the approach for the Cinematography was basically pragmatic and came down to the story. I wanted to make Los Angeles look bright even when dark, when things are being cooked, when drama is taking place, families are breaking, thieves are trying to survive and vindicate, bad guys support each other–it all looks sunny. Only the heist is dark, because they provoked a blackout to mute alarms and surveillance cameras.”

    The film was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which posed unique challenges for the crew. Toro explained how the team managed to continue their work, while taking precaution for the actors’ and crew members’ health and safety. According to Toro, “the COVID restrictions were very demanding, because not only had it taken a large chunk of the budget, but it stole away time and the ease of filming on set. After the budget cut–due to the change in the regulations in California–we had 15 days to shoot the entire film. We conducted PCR testing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and had to visit the COVID station every morning to scan a QR code to then complete a form, have our temperatures taken, and take a fresh set of masks. On set, we were required to wear double masks at all times as well as a face shield when actors were on set.

    With a career spanning over 20 years, Toro has shot over 20 feature-length films. His portfolio of work includes feature-length movies, music videos, and commercials for top brands including Toyota, Lipton, NyQuil, Astor, Revlon, Nestea, Presidente, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi. Toro is an Instructor of five years at the NYFA New York City campus and has continued to work in the industry filming over 800 TV spots. 

    As a member of the NYFA faculty, Toro collaborated with other instructors on a multitude of projects. Toro was the cinematographer for a popular production Hamlet/Horatio (2021), a feature film directed by fellow NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Paul Warner

    Originally born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Toro was a student of advertising before leaving home for England, where he attended The London Film School. Upon his return to Venezuela, he became one of the most sought-after cinematographers in the country. He currently lives in New York City, where he has resided since 1995. 

    Toro is also an accomplished still photographer, with his work shown as part of a dozen photographic exhibitions, photos published in magazines, catalogs, and three architectural books. From a young age, his talent was encouraged by his father. While looking back on his childhood, Toro recalls a fond memory of his father’s influence on his passion for filmmaking, “I’ve loved making films since I was a little kid, helping my father make home movies on his Bolex 16mm camera. He taught me how to interpret the f.stop for the lens by reading light off of a light meter, so I could give him the aperture and help him not miss a shot. I have pictures of that, and I look around 5 years of age. I still have that light meter.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Hernán Toro for the success of I Love Us, now available on Amazon Prime.

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    October 8, 2021 • Faculty Highlights • Views: 1416

  • NYFA Chair Bill Einreinhofer’s Episode of ‘Century Masters’ Screening at 2021 Beijing Documentary Week

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    Mei Lanfang, the subject of an episode of Century Masters, will have his legacy showcased in a screening at the 2021 Beijing Documentary Week. The program, Century Masters is a 15-part cultural history TV program that focuses on a different historical subject each airing. This particular episode was written and hosted by NYFA’s very own Chair of Broadcast Journalism, Bill Einreinhofer. 

    The Beijing Documentary Week is a film festival that attracts leading documentary producers and production companies from across China. This year’s circuit was held between August 14th and August 21st, 2021. 

    Einreinhofer’s Century Masters episode featuring the subject Mei Lanfang follows the story of his upbringing, influence, and global recognition as a great master of Chinese Peking Opera. Mei Lanfang’s untraditional adaptation to historic stories reinvented them for new audiences and modern times. Fun fact, it would take you a calendar year to watch every Chinese Peking Opera if you watched one per day. That’s how many productions the theatre group created over its 100-year history. You can watch the full episode of Century Masters featuring Mei Lanfang, written and hosted by Bill Einreinhofer here

    Bill Einreinhofer with the camera team of Century Masters filming in ChinaMei Lanfang’s story begins as a young child, growing up in a tumultuous, war-torn China in the early 1900s. Born into a family of privilege and Opera talent, Mei Lanfang’s grandfather is one of the originators of Peking Opera theatre. His father and uncle, both top performers and musicians of the Opera, had high expectations for their son and nephew. Unfortunately for Mei Lanfang, his youth and happy personality were a deterrent for teachers of the art. 

    Considered lazy and untalented, Mei Lanfang’s family extinguished their hopes the child could continue their family trade. After experiencing financial hardship, Mei Lanfang received help and support from a family friend. Very grateful even until his last day, he paid this generosity forward by treating his family’s Opera troupe with dignity and flexibility during economic hardships. 

    Mei Lanfang became an apprentice to this family friend and his talent blossomed into the internationally recognized art we know him for today. 

    Peking Opera, now a popular subject for study in many Chinese theatre schools, has four subjects for which its young student population, between the ages of 11 and 12, must master. These subjects include singing, monologues, acting, and martial arts. For young students, training for Peking Opera is a six-year-long endeavor. 

    Bill Einreinhofer being filmed for the Mei Lanfang episode of Century Masters

    Mei Lanfang is most famous for his adaptation of the popular Opera, Spring of the Jade Hall, the story of a prostitute falsely accused and charged with murder. His performance on Broadway in 1930s New York won him acclaim across the United States. Now recognized on an international stage as a great writer and performer, Mei Lanfang earned an Honorary Doctorate in literature from the University of Southern California. 

    His success while in the United States was of great national pride for China and contributed to his long-lasting legacy. 

    This episode of Century Masters aired in China during the Lunar New Year celebration (also known as the Chinese New Year), where the country witnessed its highest TV viewings. 

    Bill Einreinhofer in the studio filming his episode of Century Masters

    The episode also aired throughout the Middle East. With time, influential figures like Mei Lanfang will have their legacies broadcasted around the globe. Their influence and impact continue to live on, thanks to filmmakers and documentary journalists like Bill Einreinhofer. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Faculty Chair, Bill Einreinhofer for his well-deserved recognition. 

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    September 17, 2021 • China, Faculty Highlights • Views: 955

  • Filmmaking Instructor at NYFA Tackles Queerness in Shakespeare Adaptation ‘HAMLET/HORATIO’

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    Paul Warner, Director and Filmmaking Instructor with NYFA, released feature-length film, HAMLET/HORATIO, available on Amazon Prime, Tubi, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, Apple TV, and YouTube. A collaborative effort with writer David Vando, the film is a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic “Hamlet.” Since its release, HAMLET/HORATIO garnered ten awards across the independent film festival circuit. 

    HAMLET/HORATIO centers around the grieving producer and main character, Hamlet (played by NYFA Alum Andrew Burdette), who is now head of a film production company following the death of his father. His right-hand man and director, Horatio (played by NYFA Alum Themo Melikidze) captures his close friend’s pain in an enduring promise to tell Hamlet’s story through the production of a film. 

    While the work includes all major themes from the original play, Warner takes a unique approach in explaining the relationship between the close companions. An exploration of their relationship with undertones of gender-fluidity and sexuality, HAMLET/HORATIO captures the essence of the characters’ closeness as a series of dream-like scenes with soft-focused camera work and a series of fourth-wall breaks. 

    Quoted in an article by Washington Blade which touches on the theme of sexuality in the adaptation, “There’s a tremendous amount of exploration of gender fluidity in his work,” says Warner, “There’s never a label on it, but it permeates Shakespeare. There are a lot of characters who fall in love with the soul of the person, rather than the gender.”

    The film captures Hamlet’s search for fulfillment in front of a backdrop of fascism, with characters and visuals resembling a previous White House Administration. Whilst battling the corruption of his surroundings, Hamlet sacrifices his own life in the arms of his companion, Horatio, who then pledges to capture his story. 

    According to a Signal Horizon Magazine review, “The two light up near each other literally and figuratively. Beautiful lighting and soft-focused camera work highlight the friend’s interactions.”

    HAMLET/HORATIO won a Film Jury Award for Best Feature at the 2020 edition Film Festivals To Go (FFTG). The film will be available for viewing on all platforms next month. 

    Amazon Prime Film Reviews: 

    “This film has already won many awards in the film festival circuits and for obvious reasons! All of the acting performances are great and this is such a unique, modern take of a Shakespearian classic. Definitely one of the best Indie films I’ve seen. If you are a fan of classics with a twist or artistic and unique indie films, then this is definitely for you! I would love to see them make a version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream like this as well. Bravo!”

    “I love this film! The best thing is you do not have to have a Shakespeare background to understand the story. The movie is beautiful to look at with an outstanding score. I can not believe how great the production value is for this type of indy film. Do yourself a favor and rent this film!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Paul Warner as well as alumni Andrew Burdette and Themo Melikidze for the success of HAMLET/HORATIO, now available on Amazon Prime.

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    September 15, 2021 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 851

  • NYFA South Beach Instructor Daniel Abrusci Wins Gold Promax Award

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    New York Film Academy is excited to share that Filmmaking instructor Daniel Abrusci has won a Gold Promax Award for outstanding achievement in sound design and mixing on the Cbeebies segment Christmas Lights for BBC Latin America. 

    The Promax Awards are the world’s premier celebration of outstanding achievement in entertainment marketing and design, honoring teams of creatives harnessing passionate fandom to drive audiences, create value, and build the biggest brands in entertainment.

    The one-minute animation Abrusci worked on in his home studio was extremely heavy in sound design. “When working with animation, sound design plays a huge role because there’s no audio to start with,” he explained. “I edited three different pieces of music into a one-minute spot in order for the music to be dynamic and help boost holiday emotions.”

    The South Beach instructor had to recreate the ambiance needed for the TV spot to feel a bit more realistic, adding in stylistic sound elements to elevate the story visually. “There’s plenty of creativity involved due to the fact that a lot of these actions might sound different in real life,” shared Abrusci. “Once we have all the different sound design, voiceover, and music elements, mixing is all about making things stand out and giving everything character and space in the frequency spectrum.” Essentially, sound mixing in itself plays an important role in fully forming a character, space, or idea.

    NYFA instructor Daniel Abrusci

    Abrusci urges anyone who is looking to hone their craft to “keep practicing” as it’s practice, trial, and error that allow you to master your skills. “The more time you put into something, the better you’ll become at it. Stay passionate and make it happen!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Daniel Abrusci on his outstanding achievement and looks forward to what’s next from the talented South Beach faculty member. 

    To view the Christmas Lights spot, view the video below. 

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    February 25, 2021 • Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, South Beach • Views: 1823

  • Film “Make America Safe” by NYFA Acting Instructor Blanche Baker Enjoys Festival Run

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    Our NYFA Acting faculty aren’t only professionals in front of the camera but are working professionals in the industry constantly experimenting and making their own work while simultaneously teaching NYFA students the fundamentals of their craft.

    Blanche Baker teaches in both the Acting and Musical Theatre departments at NYFA’s New York campus. With an extensive background on the stage and on screen, Baker made her television debut in the miniseries Holocaust, for which she won an Emmy Award. Her feature films include Sixteen Candles, The Handmaid’s Tale with Robert Duvall, Raw Deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Kevin Bacon HBO film Taking Chance. She was part of the Yale Repertory Theatre and Anna Sokolow’s dance troupe and her theatre roles include Steel Magnolias and Edward Albee’s Lolita with Donald Sutherland. 

    Film poster for “Make America Safe”

    In addition to writing and directing the award-winning short film Streetwrite, Baker wrote and directed her latest film Make America Safe, with award-winning cinematography Piero Basso, serving as the director of photography. The film has been garnering accolades and making its rounds on the festival circuit, recently appearing in the Global Impact Festival in Washington, D.C.

    Make America Safe is a musical short film about the 2nd Amendment and asks the question, “what if in the next few years citizens were required to carry weapons in order to ensure the safety of the public?” Using the premise of a news commentary show, the film takes a sardonic look at this possible future and examines the kind of scenarios that could arise in this world. With music composed by Andy Peterson, it sheds light on the rationales that could lead to such a future. 

    The film features a talented cast of Musical Theatre students working alongside NYFA’s professional faculty of artists as part of their Musical Theatre curriculum, which requires students to perform in original movie musicals, combining both musical theatre for the stage and for film.

    Official Selection: 
    Global Nonviolent Film Festival
    South Film and Arts Festival
    Film for Peace
    New York Short Film Festival
    Sanctuary International Film Festival

    Accolades:
    A Show For Change – Creativity Award
    Awareness Festival – Merit Award for Awareness
    X World Short Film Festival – Best International Short and Best Original Music
    Cinefest – Best Musical
    Blow Up Arthouse – Finalist

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    November 17, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Film Festivals, Musical Theatre • Views: 1295

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing and Filmmaking Instructor Denise Carlson Produces ITS A DOG’S LIFE on Disney+

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    Not all heroes wear capes, but they do have fur. It’s a Dog’s Life, an upcoming Disney+ docu series explores the incredible role that many dogs play to make the lives of others better. New York Film Academy (NYFA) producing and filmmaking instructor Denise Carlson is one of the producers on the series that will be available on the Disney streaming platform May 15, 2020. 

    It’s a Dog’s Life is hosted by voiceover legend Bill Farmer, known for his iconic role as Disney’s Goofy, as he crosses the country to meet different dogs doing incredible jobs or extraordinary activities and explores the special bond between dogs and humans. 

    Title card for ‘It’s A Dog’s Life’

    Carlson, who had previous experience with Disney while working at Disney Channel, was a clear fit for this project given her past production experience and her enthusiasm for animal foster care and animal rescue. “Seriously, there is nothing about working with the dogs that I did not love,” Carlson tells NYFA. “But my favorite part of this project is actually the people involved. We have an amazing group of people who came together to put this show together.”

    Each episode of It’s a Dog’s Life explores a new dog that goes well beyond just fetching the stick in the backyard; dogs like Monte, the latest celebrity dog who starred in the recent live action adaptation of Lady and the Tramp. “It [the show] fits right into the Disney brand, in general, especially since there have been so many dogs in Disney shows and movies,” says Carlson. “It also crosses cultural boundaries- I mean, who doesn’t like dogs?”

    Carlson with Monte, dog turned actor featured in ‘Lady in the Tramp’

    With so many different stories featured on the show, Carlson says the one that sticks out the most is the episode dedicated to SuperCorgi Jojo, the surfing corgi. “It is incredibly touching. Jojo started surfing as therapy after a bad injury,” she says. “Jojo is the happiest little dog and you can tell he loves what he does.”

    Carlson with SuperCorgi Jojo, the surfing corgi

    New York Film Academy congratulates filmmaking and producing instructor Denise Carlson on her new series It’s A Dog’s Life and encourages everyone to celebrate man’s best friend and all the wonderful things dogs do for us by watching It’s A Dog’s Life when it comes out on May 15, 2020 on Disney+.

    Watch the trailer for It’s A Dog’s Life below:

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    May 13, 2020 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 2284

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Faculty Spotlight on Jen Prince

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    Like many residents of Los Angeles, Jen Prince moved to the city from somewhere else. Hailing from Texas, she ventured to Los Angeles to attend film school and has been carving out a niche in the LA indie film scene ever since. 

    As an award-winning producer, director, and editor, Jen’s love of music, movies, and theatre shine throughout her various projects. Currently, she is in post-production on her feature film directorial debut, Miles Underwater, which was the recipient of the Duplass Brothers Seed & Spark Production Grant. In addition, Jen is a vocal advocate for women in film, and teaches a wide array of courses for NYFA’s Producing Department, is the mother of four, and brings her love of guacamole with her from South Texas.    

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Hailing from Texas, you say that your love of music, theater, and film began there. Could you discuss some of your earliest influences? 

    Jen Prince (JP): There was always music in my home. My parents both play instruments and encouraged me to play from a young age. I played in the city’s youth orchestra and participated in my high school theatre program, which was top notch and a pretty singular experience. It was through that study that I became passionate about working with actors and directing, and decided to pursue it in college. With very few examples of female directors I could find in the video store, I definitely took notice and was inspired early on by Jodie Foster, particularly because of her attention to the actor’s process. As I started to explore older films, I was also taken with Mike Nichols and have continued to find inspiration from his films and approach to directing. Sandra Cisneros isn’t a filmmaker, but I learned a lot about creating a sense of place and point of view from her writing. 

    NYFA: Your experience in film is extensive, as a writer, producer, director, and post- production supervisor. How did you find yourself wearing so many different hats in the entertainment industry? If you could pick just one, which would it be? 

    JP: While I was in school I tried my hand at everything because I felt that to be the best director and producer I could be I needed facility with the language and needs of each department. After a few years of post-production gigs in reality television, I found myself itching to make films again and was inspired by my colleague’s scripts. That led to my first feature as a producer and we successfully pulled off a micro-budget road movie. 

    I have continued to follow a low-budget model to create work that I want to see made and I love working as a creative producer in the indie world. I have always felt most at home as a director and am currently in post on my directorial feature debut Miles Underwater. All my different jobs have allowed me to make more work in less time than if I had waited for someone’s permission (and financing) to grant me the job. My willingness to wear all the hats has helped me greenlight my projects. 

    NYFA: As a vocal advocate for women and mothers in film, could you discuss some of the challenges they face in this business and what can be done to overcome these obstacles? Jen Prince

    JP: The statistics are real. Women, and particularly women of color, face well-established implicit and explicit bias when it comes to hiring women in film and, of course, in terms of equal pay. 

    The solution is to hire more women in EVERY position. Seek them out on your projects at every level. Look at your crew list and mandate diverse hires. If you are in the position to be a key in a department, request a new list of potential hires if what you are handed is all men or only has one person of color. The question is specifically about women in film, but of course we need better representation and intersectionality across all marginalized groups. Even on a student film—you are a gatekeeper to opportunity. I have produced four features and they have all had female DPs. Be the change you want to see. 

    I did not understand the challenge I faced when I graduated from film school. I was completely naive to the fact that just because I had passed the gatekeeper of acceptance to a top film school that in no way challenged the statistical almost certainty that I would not be given opportunities. We have to find our voice and press onward by demanding our successes be celebrated—by celebrating each other, by being patrons of each other’s work, by calling out bias, by HIRING OTHER WOMEN EVERY CHANCE WE GET. Stop waiting in line—this line is not for us. 

    NYFA: Any projects you would like to highlight? 

    JP: My two most recent completed indie features are available to stream online and rely almost entirely on word of mouth to be shared, so I’d love everyone to click on them. Quality Problems is a comedy I’m very proud to have made and it is the perfect antidote to cynicism. It’s a lovely film about a family (a real family) dealing with a health crisis while keeping their sense of humor and relationships intact. It was a joyful production and that shows up on screen. And Then There Was Eve is a drama featuring some incredible performances, cinematography, and music, a good example of what you can do with a little if you maximize resources in the right way. 

    NYFA: What are your favorite classes to teach at NYFA and why? 

    JP: One of my favorite classes is Directing for Producers. This subject teaches directing fundamentals through the lens of the producer—how do we support our directors, how do we ask the right questions to get their best work, how do we identify the biggest challenges and assets on each project? Most of these students have no experience working with actors and are fearful of that aspect of directing when we do our casting session, but by the end of the class they feel empowered to give direction and have a new respect for their process. I absolutely love the moment in class where they discover techniques for working with actors effectively and see it work in their films. 

    NYFA: What advice do you have for students looking to get into the entertainment industry? 

    JP: Figure out what is unique about your own worldview and find your confidence in your own voice, tastes, and personal mandates for your work. Take a look at the industry and look for the people doing work that aligns with you and these values. Try to keep getting closer to these circles. Network constantly. That means talk to people, but mostly LISTEN to people and ask thoughtful questions. Follow up on everything. Mean what you say. Support your peers work. Give more than you take. Show up as your authentic, kind self, every day everywhere (and work on being kind, we can all be kinder). Position yourself as close to the job you want to be doing as you can. Don’t stop writing, directing, producing, shooting, even if you have a day job. Don’t let anyone tell you what is impossible for you. 

    NYFA: Any advice on how to make killer guacamole? 

    JP: Yes. Diced tomatoes are key. Also, it always tastes better sharing with friends!

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    October 25, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 2221

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Department Updates: A&E, HBO, PBS, VICE, IDA, MTV Award, BAFTA Nom, Premieres, Fests, Gigs & More!

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a look at the latest achievements of the Documentary Filmmaking department’s alumni, faculty, and students:

    What to Watch

    Season 1 of The Employables, shot and produced by CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) for A&E began airing last Wednesday. You can catch the first two episodes online, and watch the rest of the season Wednesdays on A&E at 10 p.m. EST or online via Hulu or A&E’s website.

    The feature documentary, Trials of Spring, shot by director of photography Muhammad Hamdy (NYC ‘08) aired on PBS as part of the Women, War and Peace series and can still be seen on their website.

    You can catch one of the many pieces Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11) recently cut for HBO’s VICE New Tonight online as well.

    Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) post-graduation short Lumo: Too Young to Die aired on BBC Scotland, and can still be seen on BBC iPlayer.

    The episode of The New York Times’ Secret History of Muslims, directed and produced by Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) is now also available on Vimeo’s list of Staff Picks.

    Human Rights Watch recently published Saudi Arabia: 10 Reasons Why Saudi Women Flee, based on three short animated films created by Maria Stanisheva and commissioned by fellow alum, Human Rights Watch producer Janna Kyllästinen (NYC ’12).

    The Bit Player, shot by NYC instructor and director of photography Claudia Racshke for director Mark Levin, is premiering at The World Science Fair in NYC. The feature documentary tells the story of the brilliant math genius Claude Shannon, father of the digital revolution.

    Drama del Rosario (’19) has two films in distribution on REVRY.TV 

    In This Family  — What is it like coming out as a gay teen in the Philippines? In a country imbued with traditional Catholic views, coming out is received with disapproval and anger, especially from one’s own family.

    The End of LifeWhat pushes a person to choose between living and dying? Science, religion, and law all converge at the end of life.

    Also, In This Family recently won the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary at CAAMFest 2019.

    Honors, Awards, Festivals, Grants

    NYFA Docsters have been racking up festivals, major grants, fellowships, and a variety of honors around the world.

    In April, Julia Cheng‘s (NYC ’18) thesis doc Cricket Liu won Best International Short Documentary at AmDocs (American Documentary Film Festival), and qualified for the Academy Award. Then, Anais Michel’s (NYC ’16) and Braulio Jatar‘s (NYC ’18) short Where Chaos Reigns won Best Short Documentary at San Francisco International Film Festival – and also qualified for the Oscar.

    We Are All Here, an earlier, shorter version of Hannah Currie‘s (NYC Workshop ’18) film Lumo: Too Young To Die, made the shortlist for the BAFTA for Best Student Documentary.

    Pedro Peira‘s (LA ’16) film Trabajadores won the K.R. Mohanan Memorial Documentary Award 2019.

    Director/Producer Maria Stanisheva (NYC ’12) and her company AnimaDocs were awarded a development grant from the French CNC – Centre National Du Cinéma Et De L’image Animée for her animated documentary series Finding Home.

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ‘11) was awarded a SA Writers Development Grant from the South Australian Film Corporation.

    Rodrigo Urriolagoitia (NYC ’12) was selected for “Film Accelerator” at La Selva. There, he will shoot a short fiction film under the supervision of director Lucrecia Martel, who’s taking over that role from Werner Herzog. Created to identify and cultivate the most promising filmmakers around the world, Film Accelerator has tapped Rodrigo as its first ever Bolivian director. Meanwhile, his first foray into short fiction, Our Price, has kicked off its festival run by winning its writer/director Rodrigo a Silver Award for Best Crime Short at the Independent Shorts Awards in Los Angeles. Additionally, Pseudo, a feature he produced in Bolivia, will premiere in September.

    Nancy Dionne‘s (NYC ’18) first semester film, All I Can See Is The Future, was picked up by KweliTV following a great launch as a nominee for Best Documentary at the 2019 Winter International Film Festival. It’s now also an Official Selection of Docs Without Borders, the Katra Sidebar series in Dumbo, Hollywood South Urban, and Bowery Social Justice Film Festival. Stay tuned for its drop date on KweliTV.

    Pretty Dead, produced by Wynona Barbera (NYC ‘16), premiered at HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival.

    Elaine Minionis‘s (NYC ’08) Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo premiered at none other than Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF). It won the Audience Award at the “I’m Not Gonna Move to LA” film festival and also received the Award of Merit at the IndieFEST Film Awards. Uncanny is also an Official Selection of the Miami Independent Film Festival, Fort Myers Film Festival, Tallahassee Film Festival, and Hollywood Florida Film Festival.

    Love From Afar, from director Cristian Sanay (NYC ’14) and editor Nina Thomas (NYC ’15), has hit the festival circuit as an Official Selection of the Latino Film Festival, Corto Circuito Short Film Festival, and Latino & Iberian Film Festival at Yale. The latter included a special Q&A and talk with the filmmakers about immigration. The short has also been invited to be part of the curriculum at various universities, such as Fairfield University in Connecticut and CUNY. Next stop: Long Island International Film Festival on July 12.

    Krisztina Danka’s (NYC Workshop) doc The Stolen River continues its festival run with a new win; this time it was awarded Best Film On Nature at the L’Age D’Or International Arthouse Film Festival in Kolkata, India.

    Amy Wright (NYC ’15) returned to Tribeca Film Festival as Tech Liaison Manager, leading a team that included Anna Panova (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), Maria Tamburro (NYC ’19), and Mollie Moore (NYC ’18). Once again, the team successfully screened well over 100 films and got to spend the time they weren’t on duty rubbing elbows and watching the hottest new films.

    After serving on Amy’s Tribeca Film Festival crew, Anna Panova (NYC ’18) stayed on to assist Sandy O’Hearen, CFO of Tribeca Enterprises and others, soaking up more film festival wisdom in preparation for her launch of the Shortie Film Festival in Williamsburg. It sounds pretty cool—they keep the entry fees low and even have a special award Best NYFA Documentary. Enter the fest here 

    Ida Myklebost (NYC ‘16) has jumped to the other side of the festival equation, too. Her freshman festival run with thesis film Unwelcome was quite successful. Last year, for example, she won Anchorage Film Festival. This year, she’s programming it. And their call for entries is open, so send your films!

    Ghost Villages of Himalayas, the thesis film of Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’19), won the Collective Critics Award in Uttarakhand, India and a Jury Award from Variety International Film Festival, and has been getting love from the press all over India, including an article in The Times of India.

    Juliana Sakae (LA ’13) is Awards Competition Manager for International Documentary Association and is looking for amazing film students to be part of our pre-screening committee:

    “The students will be screening features, shorts, and podcasts in June and July to make sure we have the best in our competition. As a thank you, we offer a 1-year student membership in IDA as well as their name in our Awards Program. The feedback we get from the students is always very positive and they seem to really enjoy the experience.”

    Lucia Flores (LA ‘18) has been awarded a coveted Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship to support her thesis work at NYFA LA.

    This June, Yusaku Kanagawa (NYC ‘15), Chief Producer at Yahoo! JAPAN CREATORS Program in Tokyo, is sitting on the Jury for the 2019 Fresh Pitch competition in Shanghai, China, alongside executives from Discover and NHK. Created by Beijing-based documentary producer/director Julia Cheng (NYC ‘18), Fresh Pitch has quickly become a major hub for the Asian documentary community. Mariko Ide (NYC ‘16), JAPAN CREATORS Program Story Consultant, will be in attendance as well. And Shanghai-based producer Jenny Song (NYC ‘16) is rounding out the NYFA Docs contingent. Together, the four will also attend the Asian premiere of National Geographic’s Academy Award-winner Free Solo, edited by their NYFA mentor, Bob Eisenhardt.

    Great Gigs & Dream Jobs

    Lara Ann de Wet (NYC ’15) has temporarily relocated to Bali as editor of Gary Bencheghib‘s (NYC ’14) new short doc Plastic River, about his ongoing work on the Citarum river with the President of Indonesia.

    Kendall Ciesemier (NYC Workshop) has moved to The New York Times as a producer/reporter continuing the great documentary journalism she began at Mic.

    CJ Ferroni (NYC ’13) has landed in his dream job as a producer/cinematographer developing documentaries for TV at NBC Peacock Productions after years of successful freelancing in the documentary series world.

    Earlier this month, Annie Woods (NYC ‘07) checked in on her way out of the city as she walked away her “fancy” job as creative producer for Viacom to move to a tiny house in Ojai, minimize, and get back to her environmental and social issue documentary work. Or, as Variety would put it, “Woods ankles to go indie.”

    Fuma (Andrea) Fumagalli (NYC ‘07) is also shaking it up. He’s temporarily forsaken sports docs for journalism. After editing the documentary series First Team: Juventus for Netflix and coming in to do some additional editing on Paul George: My Journey for ESPN, Fuma’s moved his attention to reportage for Rai Italia, the channel of Italian Public TV that reaches millions of Italians that live abroad, all across the globe. He’s basically become their foreign correspondent from New York. Check out the page dedicated to his work on “Italy Run.” There will be four pieces and a short doc by the time the Run has run.

    Another foreign correspondent, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11), continues to thrive at the international TV channel i24 and is developing a documentary series there so she can get straight-up docs back into her daily life.

    Less than two months after graduation, Mollie Moore (NYC ’18) got a gig traveling to Uganda as 2nd Camera/DIT for NYFA Docs instructor Eddie Rosenstein. She has since been sharpening her camera acumen freelancing and TAing in the Doc Department. This week, she returned from TAing the expedition to Belize, just in time to take off for Peru to shoot the MFA thesis of classmate Lucia Florez‘ (NYC ’18 / LA ’19).

    Eddie also hired Charlotte Madvig (NYC ’18) in the editing department on that same film. 

    Nika Nikanava (NYC ‘18) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) got to work with NYC instructor and DP Claudia Raschke on a gig for Sesame Street. Claudia also twice booked Amy Wright (NYC ’14), Carolina Gonzales (NYC ‘15), Anisia Boronova (NYC ’15) and Braulio Jatar (NYC ’18) to shoot and record pieces for American Classical Orchestra.

    Serena Smith (NYC ’18), Kuldeep Gangola (NYC ’18), and Mollie Moore (NYC ‘18) served in various positions for NYC instructor Maxine Trump‘s new ITVS digital series Should We Kid or Not?, a spinoff on her documentary, To Kid or Not to Kid. Fellow NYC instructor Dorottya Mathe produced the series.

    Faculty News

    NYC instructor Tracie Holder won a National Endowment for the Arts grant for The Quiet Zone, a new feature doc she’s producing.

    Randy Dottin, NYFA Chair of Screenwriting, won a documentary grant from the Sundance Institute for his six-part documentary series called The House I Never Knew.

    RBG, DP’ed by NYC instructor Claudia Raschke, is up for four different MTV Movie Awards, including Best Fight (RBG vs Inequality). Free Solo, edited by fellow NYC instructor Bob Eisenhardt, is up for an MTV Movie Award as well.

    Claudia Racshke has also wrapped her celebrity-laden world tour shooting the new National Geographic series Activate, about local activism around the globe.

    NYC instructor Kristen Nutile and Master Class instructor JP Olsen made great use of their residency as MacDowell Fellows and re-emerged with their new doc, Stan, finished and ready to begin its life in the world.

    The Spirit of Discovery, story produced by NYC Documentary Chair Andrea Swift, premiered on KPBS. The feature doc was directed by once and future instructor Eliana Alvarez.

    Maxine Trump’s To Kid or Not to Kid, associate produced by Marie Vanderrusten (NYC ’15) continues to rack up festival appearances and press around the country. And from The New York Post to The Daily Mail, the film is getting love from the press on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Many thanks to distinguished alum Ilaria Polsonetti (NYC ’11), who generously returned this April to teach a Master Class with the current students in the Doc Department. As part of the Master Editors series, Ilaria’s master class was part of a line-up that also featured Academy Award nominee (with Spike Lee, 4 Little Girls) Sam Pollard, and NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt, editor of this year’s Oscar winner, Free Solo. Polsonetti was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing in News last year for a short documentary she edited for VICE on HBO. Currently a staff editor for VICE News Tonight, she has cut numerous short docs and served as editor on Raised in the System, a VICE on HBO feature documentary starring Michael K. Williams (The Wire), among others. The students got to watch some of the films she’s cut, and soak in her wisdom and insights on editing and working as an editor—especially for VICE—as well as learn about the path she’s taken to get from film school to her current position in the world.

    Personal and Community News

    Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11) checked in to let us know that he’s now a father. Welcome baby boy, Augustine! And while his new feature documentary Love in the Time of Antidepressants continues to make the festival rounds, he has moved to New Orleans to set up shop making docs with his wife and filmmaking partner—and Augustine’s mom—Madeline. If you know anybody in the business in or around New Orleans, Paul would love to meet them! (Andrea’s happy to connect you if you aren’t already.) 

    Turns out Francesca Pagani (NYC ’11) was listed as a producer and Points North Fellow at Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) alongside Paul Gallasch (NYC ’11), who got a nod in the last update. We’ll have to catch Francesca’s details in the next update as, last we heard, she was on a pirate ship in Panama shooting a new short doc.

    In other NYC ’11 reunion news, Bianca Zanini (NYC ’11) and Department Chair, Andrea Swift, got to grab a coffee in Tel Aviv, where Bianca is now based.

    It seems Marco Vitale (NYC ’11) had just spent a few days there too, en route from Iceland to Naples.

    Michael Jovic (NYC ’09) has become a father too. Welcome, Roman Jovic!

    And per Facebook, Fred Boll (NYC ’07) has one on the way!

    SEND YOUR NEWS!

    Your community wants to know what you’ve been up to! Just email or tag your Documentary Chair and we’ll take it from there!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Ayelet Zurer Stars in Netflix Hit ‘Shtisel’

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    Award-winning actress and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Instructor Ayelet Zurer is currently starring in Netflix’s newest binge-worthy hit. Shtisel is a innovative Israeli drama that focuses on a family of ultra-Orthodox Jews in a Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. The actress stars as Elisheva, a widowed mother who captures the heart of Akiva, a shy young man struggling with his father’s matchmaking efforts.

    Zurer is a familiar face in films and television in both America and Israel. She has starred opposite Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons, Russell Crowe in Man of Steel, Ewan McGregor in Last Days in the Desert, and Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe in Adam Resurrected. Zurer also starred on multiple seasons of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix and In Therapy (adapted as HBO’s In Treatment). She received the Israeli Academy of Film (OFIR) Best Actress Award for Nina’s Tragedies, and is a two-time winner of the Israeli Academy of Television’s Best Actress Award.

    The Hebrew-language Shtisel is making headlines for its honest and touching portrayal of a traditionally insular community. The New Yorker calls the show “generous, lighthearted, and nostalgic,” and says the show’s success is “the result of several powerfully understated performances, most notably by Ayelet Zurer in the role of Elisheva.” The New York Times was similarly complimentary, calling the show “groundbreaking.”

    Though the show was originally screened in 2013-14, the show’s success on Netflix has been so impressive that its original creators are currently considering creating a third season. In addition, an American version of the show has already been sold Amazon by Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of classic 1990s sitcom Friends. The show, to be set in Brooklyn, will be titled Emmis.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Ayelet Zurer on her continued success and looks forward to seeing her future projects!

     

     

     

     

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    April 25, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 3587