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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Furaha Bayibsa Authors New Book, ‘Children’

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    Furaha Bayibsa ChildrenChildren, a new book written New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Furaha Bayibsa, was released last month.

    Bayibsa has been very busy since graduating the Fall 2015 1-Year Filmmaking program at NYFA-Los Angeles—as a producer, screenwriter, director, and now as an author. 

    Originally from the Congo and born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, Bayibsa has written four short films, three of which she’s directed. She has also become a prolific and talented producer, having worked on over a dozen films to date. These include Landfill, directed by MFA Filmmaking student Yesser Laham, and Straight to Hell, a comedy short written and directed NYFA Filmmaking alum Damon J. Barnes.

    Bayibsa’s book is titled Children and takes place in a San Francisco community in present day. The book is based on new legislation approved and finalized by the Supreme Court that calls for police officers to be put on immediate unpaid leave, charged, and tried as a civilian when abusing their power in service to unarmed civilians. This legislation has been praised and implemented in several nations all around the world and began with the story of two children who fell in love.

    “Writing is one of the most fun things in the world; it’s something I’ve always believed,” says Bayibsa. “Attending NYFA gave me guidance on how to think when I write, not actually how to write; that’s what I liked about NYFA the most.” 

    Bayibsa plans to adapt Children into a feature film as buzz about the book grows, which she plans to also direct.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Furaha Bayibsa on her new book Children and encourages everyone to read a copy today!

    Furaha Bayibsa Children

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    October 17, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 100

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Damon J. Barnes Screens ‘Straight to Hell’

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    Straight to Hell, a period comedy written and directed by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Damon J. Barnes and produced by NYFA Filmmaking alum Furaha Bayibsa, screened last month in North Hollywood. Barnes attended the 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus in 2016; Bayibsa attended one year earlier. 

    Damon J. Barnes Straight to Hell
    The short film is a comedy about Christian gay conversation camps, and deals with very serious LGBTQIA+ issues in a humorous yet thoughtful way. Straight to Hell stars Bendan J. Shannon, Justin Selig, Noah Der, Gracie Lacey, and Collin Lapinsky.

    Straight to Hell began as Barnes’s thesis film while at NYFA. “One of the key driving forces for the film’s style, from choices in the script to choices in music, came from cinema from the 80s—more specifically, from the world of John Hughes,” says Barnes in an artist’s statement for the film. “The way Hughes’ storytelling captures the suburban teenage American experience in a fable-like, classicist body of work that stays true to the tradition of Hollywood romance and adventure was influential on the approach to make the story a comedy rather than a rough-edged, literal presentation—not to say those stories are not needed.” 

    Finding the right tone was important for Barnes. “At the heart of this film is a storyline that is tragic and unjust,” he continues in his statement on the film. “Comedy was used as the vehicle to tell that story. As absurd as conversion therapy is, is how absurd the comedy in the film was designed to be.”

    Damon J. Barnes

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Damon J. Barnes

    Damon plans to donate all the proceeds the film earns that week to nonprofit organization Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which uses litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy to fight hate and bigotry in our society.

    The film screened at the Laemmel NOHO Theater in North Hollywood from September 20 – 26.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking alum Damon J. Barnes on his film and encourages everyone to check out Straight to Hell when they can!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students & Alumni Featured in VoyageLA Magazine

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    VoyageLA, the flagship publication for Voyage Group of Magazines, is a media and city guide for Los Angeles that aims to authentically represent a wide variety of artists and communities, looking for outside-the-box ways to bring together the many different small businesses, independent artists and entrepreneurs, local institutions of LA.

    It’s no surprise that many of New York Film Academy’s incredibly talented students and alumni have been featured on their pages, usually with personal and informative interviews. Here are the most recent NYFA artists who have been showcased by VoyageLA:

    Joseph Ford

    Current BFA Photography Joseph Ford has been hired to shoot Instagram influencers including Blac Chyna and Brittany Renner, and has recently shot photo coverage of the Amazon float for the 2019 SF Gay Pride parade. The Marines veteran talks about his fashion photography company and the path that led him to NYFA-LA and beyond. 

    Joseph Ford VoyageLA

    Saana Laigren

    In her interview with VoyageLA, 1-Year Acting for Film alum Saana Laigren talks about how she first got into acting during her childhood, and about the internal struggles she’s faced while trying to create a career in the arts. In the end, though, her path ultimately led to her following her dream, and she’s recently won Best Foreign Actress at Chandra Khamini International Film Festival.

    Saana Laigren VoyageLA

    Alice Rehemutula

    VoyageLA calls MFA Producing alum Alice Rehemutula a “trailblazer” in an interview that charts her unconventional path from a Muslim province of China to Shanghai to Hollywood. Rehemutula found great success overseas as a performer, including appearing on China’s Got Talent, but she also has a passion for working behind the camera, earning her Master of Fine Arts in Producing from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    Alice Rehemutula VoyageLA

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  • New York Film Academy Australia Alumni Release Action Short ‘Round Trip’

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    Ren Thackham Round TripRound Trip, a six-minute action film written and directed by New York Film Academy Australia alum Ren Thackham and starring NYFA Australia alum Danny Bolt, recently went online after a spectacular festival run.

    Thackham and Bolt met while studying at NYFA Australia, where Thackham attended the 1-Year Filmmaking program in 2014. Since then, she’s had a great deal of success on the festival circuit with her short films, collaborating often with Bolt, and winning numerous awards and nominations for her work.

    Their latest short, Round Trip, packs a serious punch with an incredible automobile stunt involving a police car flipping over. “We had one police car and one shot at flipping it on camera, and if it didn’t land on it’s wheels, we wouldn’t have had a film,” says Thackham. 

     

    The film was in good hands though; the head of the stunt team was Judd Wild, who worked on Australian action epic Mad Max: Fury Road. Thackham calls Wild “one of the best in the country.”

    Wild wasn’t the only top shelf talent on the production. The film stars 2013 NABBA Mr. Universe Lee Priest in his acting debut, as a criminal trying to escape Bolt’s police officer protagonist. Additionally, the score for Round Trip was composed by Rafael May with didgeridoo by Darren Narul, recorded at Skinny Fish Music in Darwin. 

    Thackham and Bolt next plan to make their first feature film, Ridgy Didge, in 2020 as a directing/producing team.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Australia alumni Ren Thackham and Danny Bolt on the online release of Round Trip and encourages everyone to check out the death-defying short!

     

    Ren Thackham Round Trip Danny Bolt

     

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    October 15, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 135

  • A Banner Year for New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Alfonso Perugini

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    For New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Alfonso Perugini, 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year.

    Since graduating the 2-Year Filmmaking conservatory in 2015, Perugini has worked on several Italian film productions, including some with well known Italian actors like Giacomo Rizzo, Pietro De Silva, Yuliya Mayarchuck, and singer Cheryl Porter, among many others. 

    Perugini also acted in the webseries Garganta, directed by Modestino Di Nenna; the first episodes are now online. Thanks to a respected cast well known from the Italian theatre and television scenes, including Francesco Paolantoni and Antonio Fiorillo, the comedy already has a dedicated following. The immediate success of Garganta has convinced producers Danilo Battista and Rossella De Falco to set up a second season.

    Perugini has also recently released the pilot episode of Hotblade, filmed earlier this year and produced by 16NONI Produzioni Visive and directed by Luigi Borriello. Hotblade is a highly innovative and experimental product for Italy, combining the crime genre with action, humor, erotic, and Asian genre cinema. Perugini is also an associate producer of this ambitious project, and stars in the series alongside model Anna Montella, who plays the role of the heroine Hotblade. Perugini plans to release an English translation of the series as well, anticipating an American audience.

    Uno zio tutto mio, a comedy and Perugini’s fourth feature film as a director, was also announced in a press conference in the Town Hall of Grassano, in the province of Matera, in southern Italy. The film is produced by Pio Volpe for PFOX Produzioni, executive produced by Nancy Mastia, and written by Brando Improta. The film recently shot sequences in Naples, Sorrento, and Matera.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) congratulates Filmmaking alum Alfonso Perugini on a banner year filled with exciting projects and looks forward to the completion and release of Uno zio tutto mio!

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    October 2, 2019 • Film School, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 340

  • New York FIlm Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Pablo C. Vergara Wins At International Film and Metal Festival

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    Necromurder, the film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Pablo C. Vergara, won the Award for Best International Fictional Film at 2019’s International Film and Metal Festival (FICIME.)

    necromurder
    The festival, which began this year in Colombia, aims to visualize and support the metal music and film industry not just in Colombia but around the world, generating a forum for artistic expression from the a genre that has influenced a search for identity for many generations, and which has been influenced by many artistic sources.

    FICIME received over 500+ submissions from across the globe. Sixty-eight audiovisual projects were selected for the fest, in eight categories, including films from Syria, Croatia, Burkina Faso, Africa, Russia, and Scandinavia.

    Necromurder is a music-oriented movie with strong visuals and design—written, directed, and starring Vergara, who was inspired by films like The Crow and The Doors. The film, based on real events, revolves around two musicians fighting for the title of King of Evil, where their own demons and lifestyles will lead them down a spiral of destruction that culminates in murder. For more details on the film its sources, check out our interview with Vergara here.

    Vergara hails from Mexico City and works as a cinematographer, actor, and filmmaker, among other roles, and enrolled in New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking program in New York in Fall 2016, before moving to Hollywood to work on completing his MFA at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. 

    Vergara will be returning to NYFA on October 15, screening his film along with other NYFA filmmakers by invitation of Chair of Filmmaking Claude Kerven. The event will be held at NYFA’s New York campus at 7 p.m.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Pablo C. Vergara on his festival win and encourages everyone to check out the film when it screens at NYFA’s New York campus on October 15!

    necromurder pablo c. vergara

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    September 20, 2019 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 570

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking Students Visit Buzzfeed

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    Students from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) 2018 Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking program had the opportunity to tour Buzzfeed’s LA Lexland campus on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. The MFA Filmmaking students, who study at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, were joined by producer and on-camera talent Rie McClenny for their field trip.

    The visit included a chance to tour the studios, offices, prop room, and canteen, as well as the Buzzfeed Tasty Studio where McClenny whips up all manner of desserts for the Tasty Channel. The students enjoyed seeing the new media campus and learned a great deal about how the company operates.

    “Huge thanks to Rie and Buzzfeed for having the class!” says NYFA instructor Rebecca Louisell.

    Buzzfeed MFA

    From the left, front row: Rie McClenny (Buzzfeed), Rebecca Louisell (Instructor), Mahmoud Abul Burghul, Adilet Zhumabek, Kritika Chawla, Agnes Shinozaki, Veronica Badell, Haining “Carl” Gu, Shiran Wang. Back row: Ryan Mechling, Nick Sivakumaran (Instructor), Chin-Wei Chang, Lan-Chi Chien, Ether Tian Jin

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    September 17, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 330

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Tracy Oliver Launches ‘First Wives Club’ Series

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    First Wives Club, the new adaptation of the hit 1996 film developed for television by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Tracy Oliver, premieres this week.

    Oliver attended the New York Film Academy 4-Week Filmmaking workshop at our Los Angeles campus in 2005. In that workshop she met fellow classmate and NYFA alum Issa Rae, forming a friendship and working relationship that continues to this day. Oliver wrote an episode of Rae’s career-launching webseries, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, as well as starring in the show as Rae’s antagonist, Nina. She has since become a wildly successful Hollywood screenwriter, with script credits including Barbershop: The Next Cut, Little, and The Sun is Also a Star.Tracy Oliver

    Additionally, Oliver co-wrote the hit comedy Girls Trip with Kenya Barris, which made over $140 million at the box office. Oliver and Barris were nominated for a 2018 Image Award for their work on the movie.

    First Wives Club, Oliver’s latest project, is loosely adapted from the feature film of the same name, which starred Diane Keaton, Better Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Maggie Smith, and took audiences by storm in 1996. The original film revolved around a group of women who cope with the divorce and seek retribution against their ex-husbands. The show has been in pre-production for several years, having gone through multiple producers, casts, and studios, before Oliver was handed the reins.

    Oliver’s adaptation focuses more a story of sisterhood, and chronicles three best friends after one of them, Hazel, is caught up in an infamous cheating scandal. The three friends, who all recently came out of relationships, support each other while seeking revenge as they learn to put themselves first. The show stars Jill Scott, Michelle Buteau, and Ryan Michelle Bathe as the three friends—Hazek, Bree, and Ari. The cast also includes Mark Tallman, RonReaco Lee, and Malik Yoba. In addition to developing the show, Oliver also directed its seventh episode.

    Tracy Oliver

    First Wives Club will premiere on September 19 as a launch title for the brand new Viacom streaming service, BET+, which also goes live on September 19. Its first season, which filmed in New York City late
    last year, will air for ten episodes.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Tracy Oliver on the launch of her new series, First Wives Club, and encourages everyone to check out the show when it premieres on BET+!

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    September 17, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 291

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Robert Nazar Arjoyan Releases I Promised Her Life

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    This week, I Promised Her Life, the award-winning short film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Robert Nazar Arjoyan, premiered on Vimeo.

    The film is about a grieving Armenian-American mother named Elena who defies centuries-old tradition as she walks the line between death and the afterlife on the day of her daughter’s funeral. In the lead role is Anne Bedian (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Lost, The Grid). I Promised Her Life has played over 30 festivals, and has so far picked up 7 awards.

    Arjoyan attended the NYFA 4-Week Filmmaking camp at our Los Angeles campus in 2004, where he made three films. His studies and eventual career in film was fate: after randomly stopping at a slot machine while vacationing in Las Vegas and winning the jackpot, Arjoyan celebrated by using the winnings to attend the camp. “The voice in my head demanded that someone, anyone, go pull that machine,” Arjoyan tells NYFA.

    His gut feeling paid off; his mother pulled the handle on the slot, won the jackpot, and soon after Arjoyan was learning the skills needed to be a filmmaker in Hollywood. “I look back upon those weeks on the storied Backlot with tremendous fondness and gratitude,” says Arjoyan.

    “The summer I spent at NYFA as a 15 year old taught me the core fundamentals that helped me make I Promised Her Life,” adds Arjoyan, “and will continue to do so for all future projects. That was a magical and invaluable experience.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Robert Nazar Arjoyan on the release of his new film, and encourages everyone to check out I Promised Her Life on Vimeo!

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    September 13, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 475

  • New York Film Academy Filmmaking Alum Hannah Lux Davis Directs ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Music Video

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    The music video for “Don’t Call Me Angel,” the tie-in single to the latest Charlie’s Angels film performed by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey, and directed by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hannah Lux Davis releases tomorrow, September 13.

    The song, released by Republic Records, is the first single off the Charlie’s Angels official soundtrack album and serves as the film’s main theme. The latest entry of the popular franchise about three crime-fighting women stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska, and was written and directed by Elizabeth Banks.Hannah Lux Davis

    Davis originally hails from Bellevue, Washington, and attended the 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus in 2004. Since then, she has directed music videos for such high-profile musicians as Whitney Houston, Lil Wayne, Halsey, and Drake. She has frequently collaborated with Ariana Grande, and directed the hit videos “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings.”

    For her work, Davis has been nominated for multiple MTV Video Music Awards, and has won twice—in 2013 she won Best Hip-Hop Video for “Love Me” by Lil Wayne, and in 2014 she won Artist to Watch for “Miss Movin’ On” by Fifth Harmony.

    “Davis has a uniquely colorful style that can be seen in her videos for Hilary Duff’s ‘Sparks’ and David Guetta’s ‘Hey Mama’ featuring Nicki Minaj,” writes Lucy Binetti in a profile on Davis for Substream Magazine.

    In the article for Substream, Davis talks about her commitment to following her own instincts and style, as well as her passion for filmmaking. “I really do think this is the only thing I’m meant to be doing,” says Davis.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Hannah Lux Davis on her successful career as a music video director, and encourages everyone to check out her latest project, “Don’t Call Me Angel” by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey.

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    September 12, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 297