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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Indranil Banerjee Creates India’s First Anthology Horror Miniseries “4 Shades of Leap”

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    From his early childhood, Indranil Banerjee remembered watching Toy Story, Jurassic Park, Satyajit Ray’s Gupi Gyan Bagha Byan, and James Cameron’s epic film Titanic. He recalled how, as a kid, crying when Jack died, imagining himself proposing several times to Rose and talking with his friends at school about why his mom had to close his eyes at the theatre in several scenes of the film. It was movies that excited Banerjee at such a young age, and that captivation for filmmaking continued as he grew up. 

    Photo courtesy of Indranil Banerjee

    “When I grew up, I understood that film was something that was very attractive to me. , I started doing photography and slowly started learning about film and camera,” shared Banerjee. “From there, I began to comb through the filmography of some of the world’s best filmmakers.” 

    The likes of James Cameron, Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and more inspired the aspiring director. Filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino inspired Banerjee to learn storytelling through camera tactics, while Satyajit Ray taught Banerjee how characters can come to life and music can elevate each story. 

    Film poster for “The Chase”

    After attending film schools in the UK, France, and the U.S, Banerjee’s sister told Banerjee about New York Film Academy (NYFA), where Banerjee enrolled in an 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop at the New York campus. 

    The filmmaking alum has directed the short film The Chase, which was recognized at the prestigious Los Angeles Cenefest. His other shorts include The Mirage, Trinyani, One Night Stand, and Hello. Banerjee also directed Bahannoborti (52), a television film for one of the most highly recognized Bengali channels in Kolkata, India. 

    Film posters for Banerjee’s anthology series “4 Shades of Leap”

    Now, the filmmaking alum is changing the way India is consuming horror, by launching the first horror anthology miniseries. 4 Shades of Leap is a series of four shorts that are about five minutes each. “The Idea Came in my head at the end of 2019. It was winter and me and my cinematographer Tuhin Dasgupta were having coffee in my terrace and discussing the new Indian Hindi-language anthology horror film on Netflix called Ghost Stories. We then planned to do our own research on some actual horror events in Kolkata, India.” 

    For one month, Banerjee and Dasgupta talked with individuals, visited many abandoned houses, and began forming the script for four individual stories based on real-life incidents. “As a filmmaker, I wanted to make this extremely natural and as real as I could. I used various cinematic elements as a poignant part of each and every tale; the shadows in the first episode, the rain in the second, the match cuts in the third, and the faces of various animals in the last episode.”

    Banerjee behind the scenes

    Banerjee and his crew finished filming the series just before the pandemic and the series has been met with critical acclaim and such a huge response that the series will return for a second season.

    “People like to watch spooky, but there is a difference between Ghostbusters and Insidious. All I can say 4 Shades Of Leap will Just take twenty minutes from your life to make you feel the various waves and stages of horror, with all four episodes based on real incidents. So, you will definitely enjoy it, and, yes, you will remain in shock.” 

    New York Film Academy recognizes the incredible achievement of filmmaking alum Indranil Banerjee and his latest project 4 Shades of Leap. You can watch the horror anthology on Amazon and Apple TV.

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  • NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Braden Duemmler’s Film “What Lies Below” Lands on Netflix

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    NYFA instructor Braden Duemmler’s film What Lies Below is currently has the the #1 spot on Netflix’s Top 10 in the U.S. Today spot, a coveted ranking across all streaming services.

    Duemmler, who wrote and directed the film, is a filmmaking instructor at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. What Lies Below is a horror-thriller film that tells the story of a teenage girl who comes back home from camp, only to realize that her mother’s attractive new boyfriend is too good to be true.

    Braden Duemmler (Left) and Ema Horvath (Right) on the set of “What Lies Below”

    The film stars Ema Horvath (who was recently cast in the upcoming Lord of The Rings series for Amazon Prime), NYFA guest speaker Mena Suvari (American Beauty, American Pie), and Trey Tucker (who was recently cast in the upcoming show Heels on Starz).

    For Duemmler, What Lies Below was a labor of love, and seeing all of the work that went into writing the film as well as seeing it cast and begin shooting was an incredible moment for the director. “It was wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I still remember the first table read with Ema, Trey, and Mena going through the lines. I had tears in my eyes at the end because I just couldn’t believe I was sitting there, with these incredibly gifted actors, listening and watching them bring the story to life!”

    Behind the scenes of filming “What Lies Below”

    “As we were making the film, it was a battle. Every day had its trials and triumphs and you just had to stay focused on the scene, the shot, the moment, every step of the way,” shared Duemmler. “Every time we wrapped a day, and I knew in my head we got what we needed, I felt the same as I did at that table read: this is happening, this is working, this is awesome!”

    Mena Suvari in “What Lies Below”

    What Lies Below has now been picked up and released by streaming giant Netflix, which has been the launching point for many directors and multiple genres of content for the past decade.

    “It’s very exciting. We’re being released the same week as a film starring Idris Elba! It makes me appreciate the platform [Netflix] and its unique ability to bring films from all genres, budgets, and styles to one place.”

    Trey Tucker in “What Lies Below”

    According to the filmmaking instructor, audiences will be able to enjoy the “intensity of the story” and the mystery that is riddled throughout the film. But most of all, he hopes audiences will argue over the ending. “It is a very polarizing finale and I’ve already seen some great fan theories on the internet. All I’ll say is the ending is not open-ended; it is very definitive and all the answers to the mystery are layered into those final two shots. I hope people enjoy picking it all apart and trying to figure it out!”

    Braden Duemmler on the set of “What Lies Below”

    For anyone out there looking to make their own film, Duemmler says it’s time to stop asking for permission. “You don’t need the studios, or Sundance, or a big-time producer. All you need is a great script and a little start-up capital that will allow you to attach a cast that is recognizable enough to get you your full budget! The cast is EVERYTHING and they care about great scripts!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates filmmaking instructor Braden Duemmler on the release of his first feature film What Lies Below, which is now available to stream on Netflix. Once audiences finish arguing over the ending of What Lies Below, it won’t be long before Duemmler releases his next film Mold, which will begin casting this summer.

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    April 7, 2021 • Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 791

  • New York Film Academy Instructors Shoot “The Sisters Karras” And Enter Post-Production

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    Two estranged half-sisters, a will reading, a valuable antique rug, and a mysterious stranger. 

    NYFA Acting for Film and Filmmaking instructor Micah Stathis’ latest film, The Sisters Karras, has deep roots within the NYFA community. With Stathis’ SK Deli Market Productions at the helm of the production, the film also includes New York campus instructors Dan Rodriguez, Dennis Green, and Andy Mendez among the film’s cast and crew.

    Poster for “The Sisters Karras”

    The film, shot last Summer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is an original feature written, directed, and starring Stathis. NYFA teaching assistant for Acting for Film Dan Rodriguez served as the film’s director of photography, with NYFA’s Post-Production Supervisor, Andy Mendez, serving as the main editor of the film. Joining Stathis in the cast is NYFA screenwriting instructor Dennis Green.

    Photo courtesy of Micah Stathis

    The shoot itself proved challenging for the crew as safety took precedent with the filming during the pandemic. 

    “It was very stressful shooting during the pandemic,” explained Stathis. “We were a SAG registered production, so the COVID protocols were very strict and required a lot of additional planning and precautions. Not to mention, it’s really hot shooting in New York in August…especially while having to wear masks!”

    With the production wrapped, The Sisters Karras now enters the post-production phase. Like many filmmakers know, shooting the film is half the battle, with a huge part of the filmmaking process dedicated to putting all the finishing touches on the project and getting the film out in the public eye.

    Dan Rodriguez (Left) and Micah Stathis (Right)

    “I hope that audiences enjoy the tragicomic tone and nature of the film. I hope audiences find the story of the two sisters captivating, funny, and stressful but ultimately, relatable,” shared Stathis.

    Photo courtesy of Micah Stathis

    “We are definitely aiming for a festival run with an eye towards sales and distribution. We have already been in dialogue with a few distribution companies who are waiting for the film to be ready. We do not want to rush the post-production process and want to make sure the film is, ultimately, as good as it can possibly be. That’s why we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign specifically for post-production.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates the instructors who banded together to create a feature film safely in the middle of the pandemic. To learn more about The Sisters Karras, you can visit the film’s Kickstarter page by clicking here.

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  • New York Film Academy Partners with the 2021 FOLCS – International Short Film Competition

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is excited to announce another year of partnership with the Forum on Life, Culture and Society (FOLCS) International Short Film Competition in a five-day virtual event, culminating in an Awards Night on April 8, 2021.

    FOLCS is a non-profit organization that houses culturally relevant conversation topics, providing a unique and enriching experience for audience goers that speaks to the moment with captivating conversations from special guests across multiple industries. NYFA has been a co-host on the FOLCS series of events for the last three years. 

    The annual FOLCS – International Short Film Competition (F-ISFC) is a special event that showcases short films that explore themes of justice, human rights, and the law by emerging filmmakers from all over the world. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the very first time, FOLCS, in partnership with NYFA, will be virtually hosting its annual short film competition, allowing viewers to screen all of the finalist entries over the course of five days starting April 5, 2021.  

    Finalist films for the FOLCS – International Short Film Competition

    This year’s official film selections include titles from Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Malaysia, and the United States, giving entrants the opportunity to have their films shown to a wide audience and films viewed by distinguished professionals including renowned filmmakers, actors, writers, and journalists. Previous F-ISFC judges from NYFA include Cinematography Chair Piero Basso, Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin, Filmmaking Chair Andrea Swift, and Filmmaking instructor Jonathan Whittaker.

    Actor William Fichtner

    All ISFC attendees will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite short, which will be counted towards the Audience Favorite Award which will be announced during Awards Night on April 8, 2021. The awards night is open to all F-ISFC ticketholders and will feature a discussion with the finalist filmmakers, NYFA’s own President Michael Young, and actor William Fichtner (Black Hawk Down, Prison Break, The Perfect Storm, The Dark Knight), who will present the award for The Best Short.

    HOW TO WATCH THE FILMS & VIRTUALLY ATTEND:

    The first 200 people to register for this year’s F-ISFC will receive tickets for the virtual film screenings free of charge, while all other registrants will be charged a $2 fee to unlock the official film selections. To view the F-ISFC slate of films selected for this year’s competition, click here. If you would like to register to attend one or all of the screenings for this year’s F-ISFC, click here to register. On April 5, 2021, you will receive an email with instructions on how to unlock and watch each film online. 

    New York Film Academy is a proud partner of this year’s FOLCS – International Short Film Competition and looks forward to being part of this special event celebrating aspiring independent filmmakers from around the globe. 

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  • NYFA Australia Alum Julian Lawrence Works on “Godzilla vs. Kong”

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    New York Film Academy Australia (NYFA Australia) alum Julian Lawrence has multiple blockbusters under his belt. Having tackled Aquaman, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Thor: Ragnarok, and many others, Lawrence will now add one of the biggest cinematic events of 2021 to his list of credits with Godzilla vs. Kong from Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.

    NYFA Australia alum Julian Lawrence

    Lawrence, a cinematographer, served as a Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) for the second unit team shooting in Australia. A DIT typically has three primary responsibilities while working on a project: data wrangling and protection, assisting the DP, and managing the dailies. Overall, a DIT has multiple responsibilities as the digital format becomes increasingly advanced and more complicated across the industry. Godzilla vs. Kong is no exception as the film is heavy in digital elements that require the utmost care to uphold quality and creativity across the board for the film.

    The Filmmaking alum previously served as a DIT on Den største forbrytelsen and worked as a DIT Utility for Aquaman, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Thor: Ragnarok, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Kong: Skull Island, and Alien: Covenant.

    Film poster for “Godzilla vs. Kong”

    Godzilla vs. Kong is a sequel to both Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Kong: Skull Island, marking the first convergence of cinematic monsters in Legendary Pictures’ new MonsterVerse. The film will have audiences in the middle of an epic clash between two titan figures of mythic proportions in a battle for the ages. The film will star Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, and more.

    The film marks the fourth film in the MonsterVerse series, the 36th film in the Godzilla franchise, and the 12th film in the King Kong franchise. Originally set for a March 13, 2020 release, the premiere was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Audiences will now be able to see Godzilla vs. Kong internationally on March 26, 2021, and in the United States on March 31, where it will be released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming via HBO Max.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Australia alum Julian Lawrence on his recent work on one of the most highly-anticipated films of the year and looks forward to seeing what Lawrence will work on next.

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  • The 93rd Academy Awards Includes NYFA Alum Shivani Rawat’s “The Trial of The Chicago 7”

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    On Monday morning, Oscar hopefuls awaited as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (“The Academy”) announced the highly anticipated list of Academy Award nominees vying for a gold statue at the 93rd Annual Academy Awards.

    With the COVID-19 pandemic, the award ceremony got pushed from its normal February/early March broadcast and will now be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, honoring the films released in 2020.

    (L-R): Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), and Steven Yeun (“Minari”)

    In the midst of Hollywood’s pandemic year, the 2021 Oscars nominations shattered some historic milestones that have cemented this year’s ceremony as one to watch, with nods that include:

    • Netflix setting a record for distributors with 35 total nominations in 2021. The streaming giant also leads the Best Picture category with two nods, while Amazon, A24, Focus, Searchlight, and Sony Classics held one nomination each. This year, major studios were not present in this category, a notable exception given the tumultuous distribution efforts major studios faced with releasing tentpole and lower budget films across the production slate in 2020.
    • Chadwick Boseman has become the seventh actor to receive a posthumous nomination for his work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
    • Riz Ahmed is the first Muslim actor to be nominated in the Best Actor category for his performance in The Sounds of Metal.
    • Steven Yeun, the first Asian American to receive a Best Actor nod, and Best Supporting Actress nominee Youn Uh-Jung are the first actors born in Korea to earn Oscar recognition for their performances in Minari.

    Best director nominees Chloé Zhao (Left) and Emerald Fennell (Right)

    While there are already incredible highlights from this year’s nominees, the most striking and celebrated have been the nominations received among women, with previous records being shattered across multiple categories including the best director category, which has received criticism in the past for the lack of women’s representation.

    “NYFA is celebrating Women’s History Month by recognizing the women making history at the 93rd Academy Awards. 70 women received 76 nominations – the most in a given year! It’s the first time the Academy nominated two women – Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell – for Best Director at the same time. Zhao is the first woman of color to get a nod in that category and also nabbed nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Fennell’s nomination is also the first time a woman has been nominated for her first feature.

    Viola Davis is the most-nominated Black actress ever, with her fourth Oscar nod. Women are also getting the spotlight in the Best Documentary Feature category with 4 of the 5 nominated films being directed by women. We’d like to also give special recognition to a former NYFA grad, Shivani Rawat (1-Year Screenwriting alum), who executive produced The Trial of Chicago 7 – a Best Picture nominee. We look forward to watching these inspirational ladies take the red carpet on April 25th!” – NYFA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council

    (L-R): Shivani Rawat (“The Trial of The Chicago 7”), Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Christina Oh (“Minari”), and Ann Roth (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

    Other notable records made this year include a historic nomination for Minari producer and NYFA guest speaker Christina Oh, who is the first Asian American woman to receive a nomination for best picture. Meanwhile, costume designer Ann Roth ties for the oldest Oscar nominee-at-large and is nominated for her work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at age 89.

    New York Film Academy is incredibly excited to congratulate the talented and diverse group of nominees representing the body of work at this year’s Academy Awards and will be cheering on NYFA alum Shivani Rawat’s The Trial of The Chicago 7, which is nominated for six awards.

    _______________________

    BEST PICTURE

    “The Father”
    “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Mank”
    “Minari”
    “Nomadland”
    “Promising Young Woman”
    “Sound of Metal”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7″

    ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

    Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
    Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy”
    Olivia Colman, “The Father”
    Amanda Seyfried, “Mank”
    Youn Yuh-jung, “Minari”

    ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

    Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
    Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami”
    Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”
    Lakeith Stanfield, “Judas and the Black Messiah”

    INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

    “Another Round” – Denmark
    “Better Days” – Hong Kong
    “Collective” – Romania
    “The Man Who Sold His Skin” – Tunisia
    Qu Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

    DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

    “Colette”
    “A Concerto Is a Conversation”
    “Do Not Split”
    “Hunger Ward”
    “A Love Song For Latasha”

    DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

    “Collective”
    “Crip Camp”
    “The Mole Agent”
    “My Octopus Teacher”
    “Time”

    ORIGINAL SONG

    “Fight For You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Hear My Voice” from “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
    “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”
    “lo Sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)”
    “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami…”

    ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

    “Onward”
    “Over the Moon”
    “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”
    “Soul”
    “Wolfwalkers”

    ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

    “Borat Subsequent MovieFilm”
    “The Father”
    “Nomadland”
    “One Night in Miami”
    “The White Tiger”

    ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

    “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    “Minari”
    “Promising Young Woman”
    “Sound of Metal”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

    Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
    Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”
    Gary Oldman, “Mank”
    Steven Yeun, “Minari”

    ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

    Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    Andra Day, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”
    Vanessa Kirby, “Pieces of a Woman”
    Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
    Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

    DIRECTOR

    Thomas Vinterberg, “Another Round”
    David Fincher, “Mank”
    Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
    Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”
    Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

    PRODUCTION DESIGN

    “The Father”
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    “Mank”
    “News of the World”
    “Tenet”

    CINEMATOGRAPHY

    Sean Bobbitt, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
    Erik Messerschmidt, “Mank”
    Dariusz Wolski, “News of the World”
    Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland”
    Phedon Papamichael , “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    COSTUME DESIGN

    “Emma”
    “Ma Rainey’s Blackbottom”
    “Mank”
    “Mulan”
    “Pinocchio”

    ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND

    “Greyhound”
    “Mank”
    “News of the World”
    “Soul”
    “Sound of Metal”

    ANIMATED SHORT FILM

    “Burrow”
    “Genius Loci”
    “If Anything Happens I Love You”
    “Opera”
    “Yes-People”

    LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

    “Feeling Through”
    “The Letter Room”
    “The Present”
    “Two Distant Strangers”
    “White Eye”

    ORIGINAL SCORE

    “Da 5 Bloods”
    “Mank”
    “Minari”
    “News of the World”
    “Soul”

    VISUAL EFFECTS

    “Love and Monsters”
    “The Midnight Sky”
    “Mulan”
    “The One and Only Ivan”
    “Tenet”

    FILM EDITING

    “The Father”
    “Nomadland”
    “Promising Young Woman”
    “Sound of Metal”
    “The Trial of the Chicago 7”

    MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

    “Emma”
    “Hillbilly Elegy”
    “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
    “Mank”
    “Pinocchio”
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    March 17, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 617

  • Producer & NYFA Alum Alex Lampsos on His Latest Film “Breaking Fast”

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    Born in Beirut and brought up in Abu Dhabi and Canada, Alex Lampsos was always drawn to film and entertainment. From his beginnings in the film festival to producing indie films and music videos for the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Lampsos has also produced commercials for Marvel, Disney, Sony, and LA Models in collaboration with Sir Elton John. 

    After working managing festival experiences and logistics at the Toronto International Film Festival for two years, Lampsos then decided it was time to dive into the technical and creative world of filmmaking itself and moved to Los Angles where he enrolled in NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory. “Halfway through, I honed into my love of producing and took on as many projects that came my way, starting with thesis short films through the school network and slowly expanding into the real world,” he recalled. 

    NYFA alum Alex Lampsos

    The NYFA alum has since gone to produce music videos for Ru Paul’s Drag Race stars which have garnered millions of views and have been featured in Forbes, Entertainment Tonight, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, Paper Magazine, Out, and more.

    He has also produced incredible projects, from Cherry Pop, a NYFA thesis project that got picked up by Netflix, to feature Breaking Fast, which is now available to rent. Collectively, both films have garnered over 30 awards and have had an impact in the queer and indie film community. 

    Film poster for “Breaking Fast”

    His latest feature film, Breaking Fast, is a romantic comedy that follows Mo, a practicing Muslim still reeling from heartbreak. When a guy named Kal offers to join him in his nightly Iftars – the traditional meal eaten by Muslims during Ramadan – meal after meal, the two start to discover they have more in common than they initially thought.

    Lampsos first got involved on the project after a serendipitous encounter with the film’s writer and director Mike Mosallam. “A friendship quickly bloomed, leading us to collaborate on the short film version of Breaking Fast – the genesis of the feature,” recalled Lampsos. “After finding much success with the short, we spent approximately three years developing the feature with a team of leading producers, finally securing the funding and entering production in 2018.”

    Alex Lampsos at premiere for “Cherry Pop”

    As for what he has taken with him since studying at NYFA, Lampsos shared that it’s all about community. “NYFA taught me the importance of building a filmmaking family that can grow and prosper collectively over time, often with fellow students that eventually become long-term collaborators,” he remarked. “It [NYFA] also gave me the framework to approach the industry with a strong sense of ambition and a self-starting mentality; the ‘it’s what you make of it’ mindset, while giving me the technical foundation to thrive.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Alex Lampsos on his latest release Breaking Fast and looks forward to sharing new updates on what’s next from the talented alum. Click here to learn more about Breaking Fast and where to watch the film. 

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    March 8, 2021 • Diversity, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 748

  • Actress Alaina Huffman Studies Filmmaking With New York Film Academy

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    Veteran actress and producer Alaina Huffman is no stranger to the film business and has appeared on some of your favorite shows and films over the past couple of decades. From Smallville and Painkiller Jane to Amber Alert and Netflix’s The Perfection, Huffman has a long list of film and TV credits that have allowed her to see the filmmaking process from both in front of and behind the camera.

    Huffman recently decided to take the time to expand her technical skills by taking one of NYFA’s Online Filmmaking Workshops, allowing her to take classes to study the filmmaking craft more in-depth.

    “I’ve had the desire to direct for some time,” Huffman shared. “I had a short I was set to direct last April but I had to postpone due to COVID. Between working and being a single mom of four, I never really felt I could fit school into my life. With all this downtime and watching my kids do homeschool, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to take classes.

    Photo courtesy of Alaina Huffman

    With a career spanning television fan-favorite titles to her indie film background, Huffman learned a lot during that time beyond being an actor, including what it takes to produce, direct, and work alongside the crew. “Once my career started to move into television, I was working with more established crews and actors. Every day on set is an education if you pay attention. You not only learn what to do, a lot of times you learn what not to do. Now 25 years into my career, I’m still learning along the way.”

    In addition to the teachable moments presented to Huffman on set, being in front of the camera over the years has brought her so much joy in collaboration. “I have a fondness for all the characters I’ve played, they are so special to me,” she revealed. “Being a part of a series is like being part of a family. There’s a closeness and special bonds that form. I have lifelong friends from my time on Stargate Universe, Smallville, Supernatural, and The 100. For me, I like when a character creates themselves. It’s almost effortless, they just come to me like it’s meant to be.”

    Photo courtesy of Alaina Huffman

    Like Huffman shared, even professionals who have been in the industry for years are constantly absorbing information and learning along the way, which is why coming to NYFA was another resource for Huffman to explore all the aspects of the filmmaking craft.

    “My advice to incoming students [at NYFA] would be to have fun! Ultimately filmmaking is a joy. Remember why you love movies and television and enjoy learning the tools to aid your creative process. It always amazes me that we all have access to the same equipment, the same information and yet we all come up with such diverse ideas. Enjoy learning from each other as much as the professors.”

    Alaina Huffman in “Stargate Universe” (Syfy)

    What’s next for Alaina Huffman? While we wait for her upcoming horror film Deep Focus, Huffman is slated to direct. “I’m shooting [a movie] next month called The Missing Twin and I’m super lucky in that in addition to playing the lead character, they’ve offered me the opportunity to direct the second unit. Once I finish that I’ll go on to direct my short film that got delayed.”

    New York Film Academy thanks Alaina Huffman for taking the time to share more about her thoughts on continuing her education at NYFA and looks forward to sharing more about her upcoming projects in the future.

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    March 2, 2021 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 647

  • 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: 982

  • NYFA Alum Uzair Merchant Works on CW’s “Superman & Lois”

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    Uzair Merchant has worked on some of the biggest franchises in the world. From Skyfall and Star Trek: Beyond to Fast & Furious 7 and Deadpool 2, Merchant has had an impressive roster of work, including his own personal projects, with his latest work displayed in the highly-anticipated CW series Superman & Lois.

    Poster for “Superman & Lois” (CW)

    Taking the lead from its own universe of Superman (Supergirl, Smallville, and Superman: The Animated Series), The CW is back with Superman & Lois, a spin-off series of Supergirl that follows Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) reprising their respective roles.

    Not much is known about how the series will play out, but it will feature Superman and Lois’ kids Jonathan and Jordan as they return to Smallville and are reacquainted with Lana Lang and her family.

    NYFA alum Uzair Merchant

    Filmmaking alum Uzair Merchant worked as the Assistant Art Director on the series, bringing the show to life through means of concept art, graphics, set design, props, builds, and construction. “Working on Superman & Lois has been pretty awesome I must say,” shared Merchant. “It’s lovely to dive into the Warner Bros. and DC Universe.”

    The show, which is still finishing up filming the first season, faced the added challenge of filming during the COVID-19 pandemic and had to adapt to and implement new COVID-safe protocols. “The crew [on Superman & Lois] is great and that’s something I always look for in a production. We’ve had COVID-19 procedures, which is what makes this production special being able to do all of this in the restrictions, but that’s been the challenge.”

    In addition to his work on Superman & Lois, the NYFA alum has done everything from commercials, corporate films, features, TV shows, music videos, and more.

    “The ability to build worlds and tell stories that can directly affect and influence people, cultures or voices was something that’s always fascinated me about filmmaking,” shared Merchant.

    “Coming to New York Film Academy to study film was a dream,” he revealed when asked about his time at NYFA. “I also wanted to experience studying traditional film, not just digital. Future students should come with an open mind and heart to dive into an unknown world, it’s important to immerse yourself into places out of your comfort zone. That’s why it’s film school. Experiment, explore and be honest with your art.”

    What’s next for the alum? Merchant has also worked on the upcoming film The Misfits, starring Pierce Brosnan, Tim Roth, and Jamie Chung. The alum has also been developing an entire universe over the last decade called Kreativ Universe from his company the Kri8.labs. Part of that cinematic universe will include Merchant’s script Black Rose that won multiple screenwriting awards and is currently in pre-production. Merchant is also producing a music track for the film called “Star Dust.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Uzair Merchant for his outstanding work on Superman & Lois and looks forward to hearing more about the Filmmaking alum’s upcoming personal projects. Superman & Lois will premiere tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on The CW.

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