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  • “Acts of Desperation” Provides New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Credit & Experience Opportunity

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    Acts of DesperationThe Industry Lab of New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) has announced the completion of the feature film, Acts of Desperation, starring veteran actors Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, The Rocketeer) and Jason Gedrick (Backdraft, Dexter.) 

    The quirky thriller was sponsored by the Academy, but involved members of NYFA community as well. Faculty members Richard Friedman (director), Leslie Bates (producer), Neil Casey (director of photography), and Toi Juan Shannon (editor) were the forces behind the film, which afforded opportunities to NYFA alumni.

    Acts of Desperation starts with a woman on a bridge, desperate and considering jumping. But the real action begins when we meet Alan Grillo, a cop on the edge, obsessed over the fact that his wife is having an affair. At the same time, he is tracking a shrewd bank robber who is falling in love with the desperate and obsessed woman whose life he saved on the bridge. As if that’s not enough, the bank robber is also being blackmailed by two unhinged street criminals who will stop at nothing to get their money. Time is running out for all of them as their worlds collide in this unpredictable and compelling thriller centering on six individuals and their treacherous “acts of desperation.”Acts of Desperation

    Shot exclusively in Los Angeles, Acts of Desperation is the first feature credit for over 20 NYFA Filmmaking alumni through Industry Lab, a program designed to facilitate such opportunities. The production companies Scars of the Mind Picture Company and UnicVisions plan to produce many more films through the NYFA Industry Lab, offering even more occasions for our alumni to receive both experience and feature credits to add to their resumes. 

    A special screening will be announced later this month.

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    October 19, 2018 • Filmmaking, Industry Lab • Views: 121

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Sabrina Percario

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    Sabrina Percario has been very busy since graduating from New York Film Academy’s MFA program in Acting for Film. She has worked in multiple positions in film productions and has produced and acted in numerous multi-award-winning films, with several more on the horizon.

    Sabrina Percario

    Sabrina Percario

    Her journey to becoming a prolific and decorated actress and producer had an unconventional start. Born in Brazil, Percario originally worked for nearly a decade in medicine before gradually becoming immersed more and more in the world of drama. Her deep passion for the art and craft of filmmaking matches both her talent and her incredible work ethic.

    The New York Film Academy recently spoke with Sabrina Percario about the many hats she wears in the film industry, as well as what keeps her motivated and moving forward:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Sabrina Percario (SP): I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and I have dual Brazilian and Italian citizenship. In college, I majored in biomedicine and for almost 10 years I worked in the field of Chinese traditional medicine. 

    I used to lead a lot of workshops in this field in front of large audiences of around 200 people — yet I was very shy. I decided I needed to do something to improve my effectiveness as a speaker. So in 2009 I went to an acting school called the Celia Helena Acting School. I immediately fell in love with acting. Acting is very fulfilling to me because I was always fascinated with human behavior. When you study a character, you put yourself in the place of that person. When you step into another person’s shoes, you suddenly understand why someone would act in a particular way. You stop judging people and, in the process, you learn more about yourself.

    I.C.E. CREAM at LAIFFA wins Best Producer - Sabrina Percario

    I.C.E. CREAM at LAIFFA wins Best Producer

    From 2011 until 2014 I worked as a drama teacher for children ranging in age from six to sixteen. Working with kids was one of my most satisfying life experiences. I learned to be more flexible and open to changes, more willing to let others lead the narrative, and more honest with myself about my feelings. During that period in my life I worked two jobs: I was an acupuncturist as well as a drama teacher.

    In November of 2013, I decided to enroll in NYFA so I could study my craft and improve my knowledge about acting for film.

    From 2014 to 2016 I worked on NYFA’s MFA program in Acting for Film. My thesis film Julia won several awards, including Best Leading Actress at the United International Film Festival (UIFF). Julia is a tribute to my mother, who died four years ago. I used the film to talk about grief and express my gratitude to my mom. She taught me to pursue my dreams — and that’s exactly what I am doing.

    NYFA: Your IMDB page is filled with all sorts of roles — actress, producer, writer, composer, to name just a few — do you feel it is important to learn as many trades in the film industry as possible?

    SP: Yes, it is very important. Everyone should learn as much as they can about the business, especially in the beginning of your career, so you have a holistic view of how a film is made. 

    It was important for me to wear many different hats on set. Having done these jobs, I have so much respect for all the departments. I know how physical and challenging the grips and electrical (G&E) department can be, and how essential they are in contributing to the director of photography’s view. 

    As an actress, I’m much more consistent and self-aware about continuity. That happened only after I was a script supervisor and had to take note of how full the wine glass was or its exact position on the table for every take. I learned similar things as a production designer and when I worked in the wardrobe department. All of this knowledge is tremendously helpful to my performance when I’m in front of the camera.

    For a year I explored all the different jobs on film sets and I realized I had to choose which department I liked the most and wanted to work with. I decided to be an actress and producer.

    As a producer I’m able to produce my own projects and cast myself in them. This gives me a certain amount of control over my career as an actress. I can also create my own voice with stories I think will inspire people. Being a producer has enabled me to meet a lot of people in different departments in the industry. The breadth of my extended network has helped me enormously as a producer when I’m casting my crew.

    As an actress, I want to be in a feature film. To that end I’m writing a feature film (In Search Of) inspired by my life. I want to say to all my international friends that it doesn’t matter where you are located as long as you keep doing what you love. I’m writing in collaboration with other screenwriters, both here in Los Angeles and internationally.

    Sabrina Percario in "Tell"

    Sabrina Percario in “Tell”

    I recommend trying out different departments if you still don’t know what you want to be. Become familiar with the universe behind the camera and then choose a route. Once you decide where you fit in, people will begin to associate your name with that specific department.

    NYFA: Is there something you haven’t done on a film yet that you’d like to try?

    SP: I would love to direct a film one day, but right now I want to have more experience producing one.

    NYFA: You’ve won a litany of awards for your work already. Your projects Tell, I.C.E. CREAM and Breaking are the latest to gain recognition. Can you talk a little about these projects and your roles in them?

    SP: My recent projects that I produced are still in the film festival circuit. My latest films are Breaking and I.C.E. CREAM. Breaking is a fable — it’s the inspiring story of a porcelain doll who overcomes her fears and breaks out of her snow globe. Our purpose was to bring awareness about those who have suffered from sexual harassment. So far, we have won three festivals, two finalists, seven semi-finalists, and seven official selections.

    I.C.E. CREAM is another project I had the honor of producing. This film portrays the life of an immigrant family in this new Trump era. Our purpose was to bring awareness about the collateral lives affected by the immigration policies in place. So far, we have won nine awards. 

    My overall purpose in my films is to touch people’s hearts, inspire them, and spread a good, positive message through the characters I play and the films I produce.

    Tell is a film in which I played the lead actress. Its logline reads: Expecting a visit from his ex, a once-famous alcoholic writer decides to play a game of shoot the apple, until the truth of tragedy unveils the outcome of his intentions. For that film I won three awards as best leading actress.

    "Breaking" produced by Sabrina Percario. Actress/ writer/Executive Producer: Alessandra Hajaj - Sabrina Percario

    “Breaking” produced by Sabrina Percario. Actress/ writer/Executive Producer: Alessandra Hajaj

    NYFA: Which of your many projects was the easiest for you to work on and why? Which was the most difficult?

    SP: Breaking was an easy project to produce because it was shot entirely in one location and the crew and cast had an amazing professionalism and respect for each other. Everything went smoothly. Julia was very challenging for me because I was doing the film as a tribute to my Mom, who died four years ago. When I made the film I was still grieving, and it was very hard for me at that time to accept the loss. I was playing myself in the film, so I channeled all my pain and feelings through the character. It was therapeutic to write, produce, and act in that film, and it helped me to accept loss. It gave me the opportunity to express my love in a poetic way.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on?

    SP: I’m currently working on Mojave Shadows, in which I play the lead. Its logline reads: A woman named Susan hikes in the middle of the Mojave Desert while coming to terms with guilt about the death of her son. One night she is attacked by a rattlesnake, and in the harrowing process, finds herself. 

    I’m also producing another project called El Fred. Its logline reads: A not-so-imaginary childhood friend returns as an unusual vigilante to protect a struggling single mother and her bullied son. And in December I’ll produce my first documentary, about self-healing and self-knowledge.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that has applied directly to your career?

    SP: I’m very grateful to NYFA. Thanks to a very hands-on program, I was able to learn how a film works from script to final editing. I also learned that producing a film is a group effort, and each department is essential in creating a coherent film. There are no small roles. I learned that it’s very important to respect your co-workers.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    SP: Be professional. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a class assignment or a student project, you will graduate with your friends and they will be in the film industry with you. Instead of just making a connection, work on building relationships. Be responsible and reliable. Most importantly, ask yourself every day why you’re doing what you are doing. Remember what it’s all about: this is your passion. It’s important to have a goal, a purpose. Pursue your dreams. Don’t let anyone say no to you. Believe in yourself and trust your instinct.

    I just want to say that I’m very grateful for NYFA. In less than a year I was already working in the film industry. That would not have been possible without the kindness and expertise of the wonderful and talented people at NYFA.

    The New York Film Academy thanks Sabrina Percario for her generous time and looks forward to following her continuing success! 

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    October 16, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1067

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Congratulates Producer Dana Lustig on the Release of Feature Film “Look Away”

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) encourages everyone to check out the new psychological thriller Look Away, which releases this October 12, 2018 on VOD and in theaters nationwide. In a Hollywood culture currently dominated by epic franchise films and sequels, Look Away is an independent film crafted by passionate filmmakers and actors looking to tell an exciting, new story without the luxury of a $200 million budget. The film was directed by Assaf Bernstein — known for the hit Netflix series Fauda — and produced by prolific filmmaker and celebrated New York Film Academy (NYFA) lecturer Dana Lustig.

    Look Away is a thriller-horror about an alienated teenager who switches places with her evil mirror image. It stars Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter, Star Trek: Discovery, The Death of Stalin), and India Eisley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager). Eisley is starring next in the television miniseries I Am the Night with Chris Pine (Star Trek, Wonder Woman), produced and directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster, Wonder Woman).

    Lustig was born in Israel and has directed five feature films and produced over twenty independent features, working with many high-profile actors, actresses, and filmmakers. Embodying the modern female filmmaker archetype that is finally getting the recognition it deserves in Hollywood, Lustig balances her career in the industry with her occasional lectures at New York Film Academy and other institutions, as well as with being a full-time mother.

    “Filmmaking is a 24-hours-a-day job, it never stops,” Lustig tells NYFA, continuing, “You might find your next story at the dinner table or dreaming at night. It is a lifestyle.”

    As for the types of narratives she pursues, Lustig says that she looks for stories that are “diverse, creative, and moving. Even if it’s a period film, it needs to be current and relevant to today.”Dana Lustig

    The true survival story Jungle, starring Harry Potter lead Daniel Radcliffe, was produced by Lustig and released earlier this year. The film shot both in Colombia and Australia’s Gold Coast, where NYFA has another location with access to the Village Roadshow backlot.

    Lustig directed the dark love story A Thousand Kisses Deep starring Dougary Scott (Mission: Impossible 2) and Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Broadchurch). Whittaker herself has been making headlines this week as she debuted as the Thirteenth Doctor — and first female Doctor — in the long-running smash British series Doctor Who. A Thousand Kisses Deep was nominated for a British Independent Film Award.

    In addition to A Thousand Kisses Deep, Lustig also directed the comedy Wild Cherry starring Rob Schneider, Kill Me Later starring Selma Blair, Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Wedding Bell Blues starring John Corbett. Additionally, Lustig was a partner at Berman Lustig Productions for ten years, along with producer Ram Bergman (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.) BLP produced the hit Rian Johnson indie Brick as well as Dancing at the Blue Iguana, directed by Oscar nominee Michael Radford.

    Dana LustigLustig tells NYFA that she feels the urge to always keep moving and looking forward to the next project, saying “We can never really be satisfied as storytellers.” She is currently executive producing Spider in the Web with Ben Kingsley and Monica Bellucci and has just wrapped filming the second season of Israeli hit series Very Important Man. She is scheduled next to direct the remake of the Israeli film The Man in the Wall.

    And still Lustig finds time in between projects to speak with film school students at NYFA. One piece of advice she gives to aspiring filmmakers that comes from her roles both as a director and as a producer is to “Find the next great story to tell — one that is financially viable in the current market, both commercially and artistically.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates producer, filmmaker, and lecturer Dana Lustig on her long list of successes and looks forward to the many still to come! Look Away releases nationwide this October 12.

    Dana Lustig Look Away

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    October 11, 2018 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 477

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Sits Down with South Beach Director Maylen Dominguez to Discuss Women in Film

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) has announced that Maylen Dominguez is the new Campus Director of the South Beach location. Dominguez will also continue in her previous role as Chair of Filmmaking in South Beach.

    Maylen has spent the last three years as Chair of Filmmaking, having helped the fledgling South Beach campus establish itself as a force in the South Florida film industry. NYFA South Beach was the only Florida institution featured in Variety’s Best Film Schools of 2018 list. Additionally, the South Beach location was one of only three Florida schools featured in Hollywood Reporter’s Top 25 American Film Schools.

    NYFA South Beach Campus Director Maylen Dominguez


    Recently, NYFA had the pleasure to sit down and chat with the new NYFA South Beach Campus Director about her career, her time at NYFA so far, and her plans for the future:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What does it mean to you to be the new Director of NYFA South Beach?

    Maylen Dominguez (MD): I have a very special connection to Miami, this is the place where my father landed when he was 12 years old and exiled from Cuba. It’s the place where my grandfather, in his mid 50s, re-studied for his medical license and became a doctor again. They ended up moving to Puerto Rico, which is where my father met my mother, and where I was born.

    When I was two weeks old we moved back to Miami, and then my father, who was a doctor in the navy, moved all over the US. I moved to Miami three years ago to be the Chair of the Filmmaking Department, but have been blown away by the experience of living in a place that is so culturally diverse. I love that I get to speak Spanish again. I love that a cortadito (espresso shot) gets passed around periodically in the middle of the day at the office. And I love being back near palm trees and the warm ocean. So, it is an understatement to say how proud and grateful I am that I get to mix the three things I love: Miami, film, and education. The chance to inspire students from all over the world to tell their very unique and beautiful stories is a gift.

    NYFA: Can you elaborate a bit on your background and experience in the film industry?

    MD: I spent nearly ten years in LA hustling through all sorts of jobs in the film business. It was a real eye opener that no one cared about my academic accomplishments, and when I was in the agent trainee program at Endeavor (which is now William Morris Endeavor) the other four people in the mailroom were lawyers. But it was a great learning experience, I read 40 scripts a week and learned what made a story get through the system — and it taught me humility.

    Working with Nely Galan exposed me to producing and how to develop something from the seed of an idea into a television show. Working with Minnie Driver in her production company, I got to see the process of developing a film project. It was interesting to see, not only her acting process, but why she picked the projects she picked. During this time I learned how to produce movies independently. I also got invaluable set experience working with her. I had written and directed a few short films, a documentary, written a couple of features and TV spec scripts, and from this work received a scholarship from NBC to work in TV, but I soon became pregnant and put the crazy hours and lifestyle on hold. Now that my daughter is older, I’ve been writing again and am in the process of producing a short film and feature.

    NYFA: Can you talk about being an Hispanic woman in this industry?

    MD: One of our recent graduates is Cuban and he said to me, “I feel honored that I’ll be receiving my diploma from a fellow Cuban.” It really touched me because it reminded me that everything that I do is not just as me but also as the half Puerto Rican, half Cuban me. It’s inspiring when you can see someone of a similar background in a position of influence. The same is true in film and TV. If you are a little girl and you see a complex representation of different cultural backgrounds on screen, it allows room for that possibility to exist in your life. If all you ever see are women of color in subservient and service careers, as a little girl, you begin to believe that that’s as far as you can go. Film and television are such powerful media, and we must use it to make impactful positive changes in our culture.

    NYFA: Can you speak to being a woman in the film industry during the #MeToo movement, what has changed, and what still needs to be improved upon?

    MD: The only way to make changes in a broken system is to bring the bad stuff to light, the stuff that we don’t really want to talk about. And that, to me, is what this whole movement is about, understanding that as much power as was used to control women, leading them to be ashamed and hide things away, can now be turned into power as they break silence and help this not happen to the next generation of women in the film business. It’s led to some hard, but good conversations with film colleagues. And it’s something we talk about in our classes here. Both men and women need to talk about it with depth, empathy, and understanding in order to make real changes. I’m grateful that we have a smart, creative, open student population that is listening and ready to demand change and equality in the film business.

    NYFA: What do you think are the advantages to filming and studying film in Miami?

    MD: Miami is a vibrant, artistically rich, and diverse city, so location-wise it has endless potential. And the film community is still relatively small, so once you get your foot in the door everybody helps support you. Our campus is like a true family/small production company. We help each other through personal issues as well as all of the acting and filming struggles that happen. We also have fun together; we have small get-togethers for holidays and support each other’s successes. When our students graduate, it feels like a family member is leaving, you’re so proud of them but you miss them.

    NYFA: What is your vision for the future of NYFA South Beach?

    MD: I have a very clear image of NYFA South Beach being this large vibrant campus that becomes a center point for film and acting education in the Southeast. I see us continuing to be a creative hotbed where people in the local community, as well as the film community at large, want to partner and do projects with us.

     

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Maylen Dominguez on her new position and thank her for her hard work and service to the community!

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    October 10, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 968

  • Q&A With 2018 Glendale International Film Festival Filmmakers

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    Looking for something to watch this week?  Look no further than the Glendale Laemmle!  Several films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni are official selections of the Glendale International Film Festival coming up October 5-12, 2018.  

    NYFA spoke with filmmakers Buffy Milner, Gabriele Fabbro, Rudy Womack, Diego Vicentini, and Boise Esquerra right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences:

    Type by Buffy Milner, Fall 2015 BFA Acting for Film
    Screens October 6, 2018, at 2pm

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us about your film, Type.

    Buffy Milner (BM): Type is a coming of age story about the social struggles of a girl recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BM: My classes at NYFA gave me the tools and knowledge that I needed to be able to write and produce my film and much of the pre-production elements, outside of the acting, that I was clueless about before I went to NYFA. The teachers that helped me the most were outside of class, during consultations: Christopher Cass, my thesis advisor, and Joe Basille.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BM: I have won nine awards for my film in festivals, but this is my first live event for Type. I am very excited about having the screening and getting to show my film to others.

    Type

    Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Gabriele Fabbro, BFA Filmmaking Fall 2015
    Screens October 7, 2018 at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Gabriele Fabbro (GF): Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is a narrative music video based on one of the most famous songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The story revolves around a confused young man who has to reject his top-model girlfriend in order to follow his true love. With the music as the driving force of the story, the film aims to break the common conception of “soundtracks perceived as accompaniment to the visual”.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    GF: Past mistakes definitely have been the key to success of this film. I was lucky to work with one of the most talented casts and crews at NYFA. The film would have been a total disaster if it wasn’t for my DP Brandon Lattman, my assistant director Kelvin Shum, and my lead actors Derek Andrew Ramsay and Ydalie Turk. I’m very thankful to my directing instructor Andres Rosende, who taught me how to simplify complex concepts.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    GF: I’ve had two other projects shown at the Glendale Festival. One in 2016, and in 2017 my intermediate film won “Best Student Film”. I’ve worked for the festival throughout 2018. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend this year’s screening. I’ll be shooting a feature documentary in Italy during the festival period. I hope my cast and crew will attend and do some networking. I’m always nervous to watch one of my films on a theatre. I’ve been to over 40 festivals now and that fear still doesn’t leave me.

    Can't Take My Eyes Off You

    In This Gray Place by Rudy Womack, MFA Filmmaking; produced by Radhika Womack, 1-Year Producing

    Screens October 10, 2018, at 8pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Rudy Womack (RW): In This Gray Place is a feature, a psychological thriller about Aaron, a petty criminal who is involved in a robbery gone wrong. Wounded and surrounded by police, he barricades himself in a rest stop bathroom.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    RW: Just about everyone involved with the project I met at NYFA! The lead actor, Aleksander Ristic, was in the MFA Acting program alongside me in the filmmaking department. I also met the Director of Photography, Naeem Seirafi, at NYFA. He was in the Cinematography school.  And, of course, my wife Radhika Womack, who was in the Producing program at NYFA when we first met. All of my experience at NYFA taught me how to pre-plan every small detail. We were a very limited crew with limited resources, so planning was essential to the success of the film.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    RW: Glendale is a fantastic festival and we are very lucky to be a part of it. The caliber of the other films speaks volumes to the quality of the festival and the filmmakers involved. This is our 15th screening, so the nerves have finally gone away. After the first few screenings, I went back and fine-tuned the edit, so I’m very excited to share it with a couple of people who haven’t seen this version. And, of course, I can’t wait to show it to all my friends and colleagues who haven’t seen it yet

    In This Gray Place
    Simón
    by Diego Vicentini, Fall 16 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11th at 6:00pm at the Laemmle Glendale Theatre

    NYFA: Tell us about your film. 

    Diego Vicentini (DV): Simón tells the story of a young Venezuelan freedom fighter seeking political asylum in the United States after being persecuted by the Venezuelan government. Simón must then find a way to keep helping the cause from thousands of miles away.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    DV: The screenwriting and directing classes were the ones that most helped propel the creation and execution of Simón. Gil McDonald from screenwriting read multiple drafts of the script, always helping guide the story to fulfill its potential, as well as urging us to write about something we were passionate about. Andres Rosende then helped to make sure the story was in good shape both in the writing and after, during post-production while I was editing.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    DV: I am looking forward to beginning the festival run of Simón, lucky to be able to have our first public screening in our own city of LA. I am also looking forward to spreading awareness about the dire situation that Venezuelans are going through right now through audiences watching the film.

    Simon

    Cowboy by Boise Esquerra, Fall 2015 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Boise Esquerra (BE): Cowboy is a short drama produced and filmed in the surrounding Burbank area and the Santa Clarita valley. It’s about a bitter, lonely cowboy who is set at ease after crossing paths with a promiscuous female vagabond. 

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BE: From the get go, NYFA provides a multitude of hands-on exercises and projects for you to delve right into, allowing for much learning, practice, and most importantly, learning from your mistakes. These lessons are invaluable because they allow you to progress in your craft, so long as you take each one seriously. In particular, towards my final semesters, instructors like Tony Schwartz, James Pasternak, and Greg Marks helped me to reel in everything I learned and apply it to a solid project. Cowboy was the end result.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BE: I am looking forward to the screening itself!

    Cowboy

    The New York Film Academy congratulates our filmmakers and wishes them the best of luck! For more information about screenings and tickets, click HERE.

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    October 5, 2018 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 759

  • Student Perspective: NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event 

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    Andres Vergara is a Spring 2018 MFA Screenwriting student at New York Film Academy (NYFA). On September 8, he and over two dozen other students from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus attended the NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event. Vergara found time between his classes and writing his screenplays to recount the event in his own words:

    Diversity took over at the NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event this eighth of September. Hundreds of guests got together at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater as proof that opportunities are opening up for filmmakers from different backgrounds to share their points of view with an audience always hungry for unique stories that showcase different cultures. It began with a wonderful reception where delegations from many different film schools got a chance to mingle and take photos on the red carpet. The New York Film Academy group was strong as students from different ethnicities joined their Latinx and Hispanic peeps to celebrate diversity.

    Once everyone got a seat in the theater, the first panel was announced and five amazing people from the industry walked onstage to share stories, points of view, and advice. The panel included: Nicole Levy, writerNewFilmmakers LA Latinx Event for Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger; Frank Gonzales, Executive in Charge of Diversity at the DGA; Richard Ray Perez, from Sundance; Hebe Tabachnik, Programmer at the Seattle and Palms Springs International Film Festivals; and Catherine Hardwicke; Director of Twilight and the acclaimed Thirteen. This very diverse group (not only in their background, but in their jobs) gave guests insight into how the Hollywood Industry is changing. Even though it is getting more and more competitive, it is uplifting to know there are also more and more people willing to make a bet on new, different voices.

    The second panel comes up. Five amazing Latinas who are taking a stand, not only for their origin, but for their gender, take the stage. Even from a male point of view, it is inspirational to know that the industry is making room for women who are quickly rising to the top: Paula Sabbaga, writer for CW’s Dynasty; Roxanne Pompa, VP for International Formats at CBS; Greta Talia Fuentes, Creative Executive at MACRO; Edith Mendoza, SVP for Comedy Development at CBS; and Alejandra Reyes Rocha, Television Literary at UTA. These great role models for women and Hispanics alike talked about how they got where they are, discussing the many options that exist for diversity and showing their support for upcoming filmmakers. They encouraged us to have a sense of community in which we help each other out as fellow Latinx.

    NewFilmmakers LA Latinx EventAfter an enriching Q&A, we were invited back to the lobby to have great Mexican food, accompanied by Latin music to keep up the mood. And after another chance for networking, even with some of the guest speakers, the showcase finally began. Filmmakers from countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, the United States, Mexico, and my native Colombia—among others—screened amazing short films that showed unique stories and points of view that all cinephiles can love. From romance to sci-fi and a compelling documentary about a Peruvian farmer, the productions made the audience applaud the talent of emerging Hispanic filmmakers.

    NewFilmmakers LA is very much committed to creating a platform for new talent, and whether you are a director, a writer, a cinematographer, or even if you are more into TV than film, they make sure that their events are a well-rounded and fulfilling experience in which guests can enjoy different pieces and hear from those who are making their way through the industry. Not to mention, it is a perfect opportunity for meeting colleagues. My ethnicity encouraged me to attend one of their events for the first time, but my love for films and my admiration for their initiative will have their monthly events in my schedule from now on.

    Written by Andres Vergara

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    October 4, 2018 • Community Highlights, Diversity, Filmmaking • Views: 394

  • And the Winners of the New York Film Academy 48 Hour Film Challenge Are…

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    Last month, New York Film Academy (NYFA) held a 48 Hour Film Challenge for its students. The objective of the contest was to create a short public service announcement (PSA) about the importance of voting. 

    With the midterm US elections quickly approaching and representing a watershed moment in modern American politics, NYFA felt it was important its students had a voice and worked together to communicate with one another about the democratic institution.

    The goal of the challenge was to create something that would motivate and inspire people to vote in the upcoming US elections. The midterms are held every two years in the middle of a presidential term, and are often given less news coverage and weight than a presidential election, focusing on smaller elections as well as the entire 435-seat House of Representatives. However, with the country severely fractured politically and culturally and following a close presidential election with an unexpected outcome, 2018’s midterms have been taken more seriously by politicians, the media, and voting citizens alike.

    With only 48 hours to film and edit their PSAs, the challenge wrapped in the evening of September 23. Students could then watch and vote for their favorite from the top three videos. Voting ended at 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 28.

    With the most votes, the winner of the Vote PSA 48 Hour Film Challenge is…

    VOTE NOW OR TAKE WHAT YOU GET

    …and the winning students who worked on the PSA are…

    Winnie Wang, Xu Cheng, Thor Renner, Carla Hancock, Nino Kvaratskhelia, King Wong, and Nikolaos-Nikias Galatis

    While the winning students certainly earned their votes and the top prize, everyone involved should be commended for the hard work they put into a very worthy cause.

    Student Life and Title IX Coordinator Carlye Bowers, who helped organize the event, stated, “It was very inspiring to see students, who have never met each other, get together and create such powerful messages — all within 48 hours!”

    This year, Election Day in the United States will be held on November 6. The New York Film Academy congratulates the winners of the 48 Hour Film Challenge and encourages everyone who is eligible to go out and vote!

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    October 3, 2018 • Community Highlights, Contests, Filmmaking, Student Life • Views: 381

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Grads Celebrate With an Industry Pitch Fest

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    It was that time of year once more as graduating BFA New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held at the penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by the astounding views of Los Angeles.Screenwriting Pitch Fest Sept 2018

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrated the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting school students by offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development and pitching their film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.

    These exceptional writing students spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting classes working with instructor Jerry Shandy in conjunction with Faculty Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and other members of the Screenwriting Department, preparing and fine-tuning their pitches. They were also joined by a stellar Screenwriting alum that night. The Pitch Fest shared the venue with an equally impressive event by NYFA’s Producing school.

    The students’ dedication and passion for their work was on display as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year. Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on, and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, their hard work paid off as the talented and creative students pitched agents, managers, studios, and digital, VR, TV, and film production company executives in a relaxed, roundtable environment.

    Screenwriting Pitch Fest Sept 2018Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Adam Finer, the Pitch Fest featured representatives from Hollywood companies including: Jim Henson Company, MGM, Practical Magic, Verve, Rain Management, Little Studio Films, Tremendum Pictures, and Gulfstream Pictures.

    The New York Film Academy wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. NYFA also extends a big congratulations to all of our BFA graduates and wishes them the best of luck as they move forward in their professional journeys!

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    September 26, 2018 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 513

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Doc Instructor Maxine Trump

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    Maxine Trump is a filmmaker, producer, editor, and author. She is based in Brooklyn and teaches Documentary at the New York Film Academy. Her films Musicwood and To Kid or Not To Kid cover such varied topics as the state of the acoustic guitar industry and the decision to not have children, respectively. NYFA sat down with her and talked about her career as a documentarian and freelance filmmaker, as well as her new book:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): How does the process for writing a book differ from writing a screenplay or documentary? Do you prefer one to the other?

    Maxine Trump (MT): That’s an interesting question. It’s very different, it’s a different way of talking to an audience. Although you still want to be accessible, it is more academic — no surprises there — writing an academic book.

    Maxine Trump

    Maxine Trump

    I never go for an academic voice in my films, everything should be entertaining, never educational. I tell all my students never to describe your documentary films as educational. Even the BBC has taken that word out of their mission statement. It just sounds boring, and your film will be boring generally, if it’s educational. You’re not making instructional YouTube videos, that’s a very different form of entertainment. Although I love hybrids, and being inventive with formats. So maybe there will be an amazing instructional documentary that someone will make and I’ll eat my words, but I’ve yet to see it. Werner Herzog comes close.

    Anyone want to experiment?

    NYFA: I watched your “Trumps Against Trump” short and Donald Trump was elected President shortly thereafter. How have you dealt with sharing his last name since?

    MT: That’s funny to be asked that question here, people ask me ALL the time. You know we often make documentaries to deal with something personal that we have wrestled with, even if it’s not obvious in the film we’re making. I know one famous documentarian that realized they kept making films that somehow always wrestled with a father figure. So this was my purging, I had to do something. And with all the crazy, shocking political decision-making right now, this film brings a little bit of light. Some humor, and helps me cope with my name. After all, as I’m told in the film by one great character on the street, the [guy] ruined my name.

    NYFA: You’ve covered disparate topics from the decision to children not having access to toilets to the acoustic guitar industry’s interaction with the environment. How do you decide to focus and hone in on topics that you think will make for good and worthwhile documentaries?

    MT: This is a lovely question, and one that I talk about a lot with the students. You will sit with your film for a very long time, so what are you passionate about? I’ve made documentaries with an underlying message, from the overloaded New York sewage system, to people deciding not to have children. But my films are entertaining. I don’t even like the phrase “social issue filmmaking” anymore, and I make them all the time. But, first and foremost, I think often about who might be coming home from a hard day at work and would want to turn on my film. I don’t want them to necessarily feel bad about life, I want them to feel like there is hope and be surprised and sometimes shocked and sitting on the edge of their seats and laughing, and crying, and want to see more.

    That’s filmmaking.

    Maxine Trump - Musicwood

    Maxine Trump’s “Musicwood”

    NYFA: What projects do you have coming up that people should keep an eye out for?

    MT: The beauty (and the bane) of freelance is that you’re always working, juggling about five projects any one time. But I love this life. Yesterday I was commissioned to write TV treatments for micro-docs for a TV network, today I’m talking to distributors about my latest feature documentary To Kid Or Not To Kid, about people deciding whether or not to have children. And this afternoon I’ll be pulling together casting ideas for a web series for public television that I’ve just been comissioned to make. And then, of course, I teach at NYFA. This lifestyle allows me to teach (and write) about real world examples.

    I love my flexible life, and it’s so great that NYFA supports faculty to work in this way. I think we have a really strong documentary department helmed by Andrea Swift and supported by Amanda Brzezowski, and it’s a joy to teach.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Maxine Trump for her time answering our questions and for all the hard work she does to educate NYFA’s Documentary school students. You can purchase her new book, The Documentary Filmmaker’s Roadmap: A Practical Guide to Planning, Production and Distribution here.

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    September 24, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Documentary Filmmaking, Faculty Highlights • Views: 397

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) to Host National Bullying Prevention Month Screening of “Thirsty”

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    October is National Bullying Prevention Month and to bring awareness to the cause, the Filmmaking school at New York Film Academy (NYFA) is hosting a screening of Thirsty with its filmmakers. Described by as a “post-queer musical biopic,” Thirsty follows bullied girly-boy Scott Townsend as he grows into revered drag queen Thirsty Burlington, fighting obstacles along the way only to discover what he really wants is self-acceptance.

    The musical drama was released in 2016 and won Audience Choice for Best Narrative Feature at the Boston LGBT Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature at the Harlem International Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the Portland Film Festival. It will be screened at NYFA New York’s 1st Floor Theatre on October 11th.

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    Margo Pelletier directing Marilyn Matarrese and Deirdre Lovejoy

    The screening will be followed by a Q&A with producer Lisa Thomas, actors Jonny Beauchamp (who plays “middle” Scott Townsend), and Michael DiGioia (Uncle Gene), Choreographer Alexandra Amirov, and editor and NYFA alum Fabrizio Famá. Thomas is an industry veteran who has worked on Wonder Showzen and Ugly Americans. Beauchamp has appeared in Penny Dreadful and Stonewall. Famá has worked on many Italian feature films, documentaries, and shorts.

    The 97-minute feature film was directed by the late filmmaker Margo Pelletier, who was known for her exploration of gender and identity. She previously made the documentary Freeing Silvia Baraldini. Thirsty stars Scott Townsend as himself, lending a unique realism to its ability to tell a story based on his life. Deirdre Lovejoy (The Wire, The Blacklist) co-stars as Townsend’s addiction-addled mother Doris. Keith Leonard plays opposite her as Townsend’s absent and abusive father. Before her death, Pelletier had told Variety that a “good percentage” of the cast is LGBTQ.

    National Bullying Month began in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. It was originally the first week in October and has since expanded to include the entire month. Studies have shown bullying causes “school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression.” Learn more at StopBullying.gov. If you or someone you know is struggling, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You may anonymously report cyber bullying here and also find help and resources here.

    Prior to the Thirsty screening, NYFA will also be hosting a Wellness Day event from noon to 5pm on the 5th floor student lounge in NYC. View some statistics on bullying below:

    National Statistics

    Been Bullied
    • 28% of U.S. students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
    • 20% of U.S. students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

    Seen Bullying

    • 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
    • 70.4% of school staff have seen bullying. 62% witnessed bullying two or more times in the last month and 41% witness bullying once a week or more.
    • When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds 57% of the time

    Watch the trailer for Thirsty below:

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    September 21, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Diversity, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 659