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  • NYFA Alum Rozette Rago Named an Honoree in 2020 Edition of Annual Photographers List

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    She has shot some of your favorite icons from Natalie Portman and Will Smith, to Steven Spielberg and Ryan Coogler, and capturing music icons U2, Metallica, Kanye West, and more. The NYFA Filmmaking alum, Rozette Rago, has had quite the career and she is only getting started, having recently nabbed a spot on the coveted list of “The 30.”

    The 30 is recognized throughout the professional photography industry as a “go-to” outlet to discover some of the best photographers in the world and serves as a platform to elevate emerging photographers growing their careers. Each year, The 30 are selected through a nomination and jurying process that includes the input of established photographers, photo editors, art directors, curators, and other industry leaders that are cultivated by Photo District News Magazine.

    Rago attended an 8-Week NYFA Filmmaking program in 2010 and has since gone on to shoot for The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Vanity Fair, The FADER, HBO, A+E Networks, Rolling Stone, and many more. She has also been profiled by CNN and Masterpiece for her body of work and has been hailed by Culture Photo Editor at The Times as “one of those photographers who elevates the ordinary,”

    NYFA alum used for U2’s promotional materials (Photo by Rozette Rago)

    After arriving on the scene in Los Angeles, Rago shot for bands like U2, Interpol, and Metallica, which then allowed her to leverage her portfolio to get a job as a photo editor at Time Out Los Angeles. For the past three years, she’s been a photo editor at Wirecutter in addition to contributing to other publications and networking with other women in the industry. She’s a member of groups including Authority Collective, Women Photograph, and Diversify Photo.

    Steven Spielberg (Photo by Rozette Rag0)

    The Filipino-American photographer shared with The 30 that she is grateful for the path that she has taken and shares it has “landed me exactly where I want to be,” with a career that has captured stories, scenes from music, performers, and more.

    The cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” and Director Jonathan Chu by Rozette Rago

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Rozette Rago on her incredible journey and for the well-deserved recognition by her peers on being named in The Annual 30 Photographers List.

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  • NYFA Alumni Majid Al Ansari and Razanne Jammal Involved in Netflix Original Series “Paranormal”

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    Not one, but two alumni are involved in Netflix’s first series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers for Arabic Netflix. NYFA Filmmaking alum Majid Al Ansari directs three episodes of the new series, with actress and NYFA alum Razanne Jammal starring as lead character Maggie Mckillop.

    Film poster for ‘Paranormal’

    Ma Waraa al-Tabea (in Arabic) or “Paranormal” in English, premiered on November 5, 2020, and marks Egypt’s first original series in addition to being the first Arabic Netflix series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers.

    The series is based on Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s thrilling book series about doctor Refaat Ismail, a cynical doctor whose lifelong scientific convictions are suddenly called into question. The Egyptian author’s critically acclaimed novels in Arabic have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

    NYFA alum Razanne Jammal in ‘Paranormal’

    Razanne Jammal attended NYFA’s 4-Week Acting for Film program in 2009 and has since built up a successful acting career, starring alongside Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones and starring in Robert Guédiguian’s Don’t Tell Me The Boy Was Mad, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. She now plays Maggie Mckilop in Paranormal, Refaat’s university colleague who enters the paranormal world to protect those around her from danger.

    Majid Al Ansari at a panel for Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX

    Director Majid Al Ansari attended NYFA’s 2-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program and went on to have his debut feature film Zinzana (“Rattle The Cage”) have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest and its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. Zinzana was subsequently picked up and eventually sold to Netflix as the first Arab film acquisition after the streaming giant branched out to the Middle East. He has director credits for three episodes of the Netflix thriller Paranormal.

    Still from ‘Paranormal’

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Alumni Razanne Jammal and Majid Al Ansari for their involvement on Paranormal and encourages everyone to check out the new series if it is available in their country and looks forward to what’s next from the NYFA graduates.

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  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum George Carson on the Challenges and Rewards From Creating His First Feature Film ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

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    It can be tough and challenging to create any kind of film for the first time, but especially your first feature film. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum George Carson caught up with NYFA to discuss what it was like to create his first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and gave realistic insight into the challenging, but rewarding, process of filmmaking.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum George Carson

    Carson retired from the UK Fire and Rescue service in early 2015. It was then that he decided to pursue a professional career in acting and filmmaking. After studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and pursuing other workshops, Carson realized he wanted to specifically tap into Acting for Film. “I was already aware of NYFA but at that time never dreamed I would go there. I was over the moon to be accepted a year before I was due to retire and  I couldn’t wait to get away from the Fire Service and live in NYC,” shared Carson.

    While at NYFA, Carson recalls bonding with many of his classmates and how they made the short film The Evanescence while at school together. “The whole NYFA experience was just fantastic,” shared Carson. “The instructors had a wealth of real-life experience, unlike some ‘Drama’ teachers who have never been outside a classroom. The facilities were great and the interaction of the Actors course working with the Filmmaking course meant we had a whole bunch of new friends and collaborators.”

    Film poster for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    Carson’s latest film and first feature, GetMeLovedUp.com, which he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in, has been submitted to various film festivals around the world and has already received several awards. The film follows lead characters Sharon and Kevin, who find themselves under pressure from friends and family to find a partner and sign up for an internet dating site. 

    “The inspiration was easy. I had been chatting to a friend in Glasgow one night and she told me about a particularly awful story that had happened to her on a date via an online dating agency,” explained Carson. “We then both shared funny stories about people we had met on these dates. I joked that I should write a film about it and a few months later the script was finished.”

    Carson shared that he had a vision for how he wanted to block the film (image below):

    But don’t let the blocking fool you. The wedding (Seen above) is not actually the lead couple. “For the film, I tried to make sure I avoided all the usual clichés,” shared Carson.

    On the challenges of making a feature film, Carson shared that it can be very different from making a short film. “The casting alone was a far bigger challenge than I imagined it would be. It took months and a considerable amount of time to cast the roles. It is an immense job,” he explained.

    George Carson blocking the scene for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum funded the entire film himself, so the project was working on a microbudget to produce the film and ensure the cast and crew got paid. “It meant having to do all the work ourselves. Meticulous planning and preparation were required at every step otherwise money would be wasted.” 

    Also an actor in the film, Carson shared that understanding the skills needed in front of the camera is just as important for directors to understand as well as actors. “Giving direction is all about clear communication with everyone,” shared Carson. “I don’t think a director necessarily needs a deep understanding of the actor’s craft, but there does need to be an understanding of the skill and directors need to be able to communicate clearly what they would like the actor to do performance-wise. Every word in every line can be delivered in about a million different ways.”

    “For example, the line ‘I will really miss you.’ The director has to let the actor know what they are looking for here. Will the character really miss them or is the character glad they’re leaving?

     

    An actor can say, ‘I will really miss you’ to a character on-screen with great meaning but, at the same time, the director can let the audience know that they actually hate the other character. It is this quality that a director has to tap into.”

    As for what incoming NYFA students should tap into when coming to study at NYFA, Carson says it’s all about studying, working, and learning from yourself and by others the mistakes that are made along the way. “There are very few overnight success stories. Acting and Directing are skills that can be taught and learned. Do the work and don’t worry about failing. Just get on with it. I could talk to you and show you YouTube videos about how to drive a car. But you still need to take the keys and get into that car and drive for yourself to be able to learn how to actually do it.” 

    Behind the scenes of ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum is set to appear in a few upcoming films that have been halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic and shared that GetMeLovedUp.com is expected to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon. The film can currently be found on Reveel.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum George Carson on his outstanding achievement of first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and encourages everyone to check out the film when it becomes available and for upcoming projects from the Filmmaking alum.

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    October 27, 2020 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 636

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Issa Rae Hosts ‘Saturday Night Live’ in Show’s 46th Season

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    “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night…with your host, Issa Rae!” In the show’s third episode of the live sketch comedy’s 46th season, NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae played the iconic role of celebrity host on Saturday Night Live, performing in the comedic sketches alongside the show’s main cast and introducing this week’s musical guest, Justin Bieber.

    NYFA alum Issa Rae performs her opening monologue on ‘SNL’ (Will Heath/NBC)

    With Rae as host, shared how important the hosting gig was to her and joked that if Insecure’s fourth season was her senior year of High School, then SNL felt like the prom and the live audience were her dates. Rae also joked, “If the show goes bad tonight, just blame it on me, Mary J. Blige,” a lighthearted jab at how Black people in Hollywood often get confused for other people who look nothing like them.

    Rae’s quirky comedy enlivened many sketches throughout the evening, but her top moments seemed to shine in sketches like “First Date Exes,” where her character keeps seeing her extremely off-putting exes while on a first date, and “Canadian News Show,” in which she played an anchor always on the lookout for Canadian rapper Drake in Toronto.

    Rae recently appeared in HBO’s original film Coastal Elites and is currently in pre-production on season 5 of her critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated series Insecure.

    New York Film Academy is proud to watch NYFA alum Issa Rae shine on stage and looks forward to what’s next from the talented writer, director, producer, and actress.

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    October 18, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 271

  • NYFA Alum Francesca Scorsese Stars in HBO’s ‘We Are Who We Are’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Francesca Scorsese breaks out in her first-ever TV series as Britney in Luca Guadagnino’s new miniseries We Are Who We Are for HBO.

    We Are Who We Are marks Guadagnino’s first TV show after directing critically acclaimed films Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria. The series is a coming-of-age story set at an army base in Italy and follows the exhilaration and pitfalls of becoming a teenager. The series premiered on September 14, 2020 on HBO and also features Jack Dylan Grazer, Chloë Sevigny, Alice Braga, and Scott Mescudi (a.k.a Kid Cudi).

    NYFA Alum Francesca Scorsese in ‘We Are Who We Are’ (Photo Credit: HBO)

    Scorsese studied at NYFA’s New York City campus from 2012-2014 in NYFA’s Filmmaking Camps for Kids and TeensWe Are Who We Are is Scorsese’s first TV project, having also starred in Wolf at The Door and landing smaller roles in projects helmed by her father, famed director Martin Scorsese, which include: Boardwalk Empire, Hugo, and The Aviator.

    Scorsese in ‘We Are Who We Are’ (Photo Credit: Alessio Bolzoni/HBO)

    NYFA would like to congratulate alum Francesca Scorsese on her breakout role as Britney in the new miniseries We Are Who We Are, now appearing on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.

    Watch the full trailer for Luca Guadagnino’s We Are Who We Are below or click here.

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    September 30, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Summer Camps • Views: 564

  • TV’s Biggest Night: Top Moments From the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys

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    It was the best of times, it was the virtual of times. In the age of social distancing, this year’s Emmys went with the flow and joined the company of many award shows and events that have gone completely virtual this year due to COVID-19.

    Host Jimmy Kimmel during the Emmy Award Ceremony (September 20, 2020)

    Host Jimmy Kimmel joked that this year the ceremony had a new name, “The Pandemmys,” as he cracked jokes in his opening monologue to a sea of cardboard cut outs of celebrities, except for Ozark actor Jason Bateman, who seemed to be the only live audience member in attendance.

    “We’ve been quarantined and locked down. We’ve been confined to our homes like prisoners in a dark and lonely tunnel, and what did we find in that dark and lonely tunnel? I’ll tell you what we found: a friend who is there for us 24 hours a day. Our old pal, television.” –Jimmy Kimmel

    While many have been wondering how the Emmys would pull off such a star-studded event with nominees and their loved ones not being able to attend due to safety concerns, it seems the Emmys went inside the homes of the nominees and presenters this year, with producers sending 130+ nominees camera kits to set up in their home to capture live reactions and acceptance speeches. The novelty of the awards show didn’t stop there. Regina King, who won for lead actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal of Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night) in the HBO’s Watchmen, was already a few seconds into her fourth-career-Emmy acceptance speech when her Emmy, possibly delivered by a representative in a hazmat tuxedo, arrived. 

    Emmy award-winner Regina King in ‘Watchmen’ (Photo Credit: HBO)

    Emmy-winner at the 71st Annual Primetime Emmys Ramy Youssef (Ramy) joked about the new method of delivering the awards by tweeting “when you lose the Emmy,” after a person in a hazmat suit seemed to wave goodbye when Youssef lost his category to Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek). 

    Other highlights of the night include Watchmen making history as first comic-book adaptation to earn top Emmy – Outstanding Limited Series. Recent NYFA guest speaker Nicole Kassell served as a director and producer for the acclaimed and decorated series. 

    (L-R) Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox

    There was also a brief F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion with Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, and Jennifer Aniston, who reunited to show support for Aniston’s nomination for Apple TV+ original The Morning Show. Aniston’s co-star, Billy Crudup, ended up nabbing Apple TV+’s first Emmy Award for Crudup’s win for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

    Tyler Perry was recognized for his incredible contribution to shaping television and his humanitarian efforts as the first individual to receive the Emmys Governor’s Award since 2014. Julia Garner wins the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series again for her role in hit Netflix series Ozark. Succession‘s Andrij Parekh,an Indian-Ukranian director wins plaudits for his Emmys acceptance speech:

    “I want to dedicate this Emmy to all the kids whose names like mine are difficult to pronounce. To those who don’t look like their classmates & are defined as outsiders – as hyphenated Americans & not simply just as Americans. This is proof that you belong.” –Andrij Parekh

    Topping off the night with the most wins was Canadian comedy series Schitt’s Creek with nine statuettes overall, breaking a record previously held by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which became the most awarded comedy in a single year with its eight wins in 2019; those wins included Creative Arts Emmys. According to Gold Derby, no comedy prior to Schitt’s Creek had won all seven comedy categories at the main ceremony. The show is also reportedly the first comedy to win all four comedy-acting categories in a single year, per AwardsWatch

    Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek) accepts Emmy award (Photo Credit: ABC)

    Schitt’s Creek actor and co-creator Dan Levy shouted out NYFA Alum Issa Rae in his Emmys speech for best comedy writing and said: “I want to recognize Issa Rae and the writers on Insecure for writing some of the funniest, most heartfelt television of the year.” The NYFA Filmmaking alum, who was nominated for her second Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy for Insecure, recalled her first Hollywood pitch experience during the telecast, where she shared how a studio executive attempted to tell her what Black audiences wanted to see on television. Read more here

    During the “In Memoriam” segment of the evening, H.E.R. sang in memory of all the brilliant talents we’ve lost his year, including Chadwick Boseman, Regis Philbin, and NYFA alum Naya Rivera.

    To top off the night, Euphoria actress (and now Emmy-Winner) Zendaya set a record as the youngest person to win the best lead actress in a drama category for her role as Rue in the A24/HBO drama. This was her first-ever Emmy nomination and win, and it’s not likely to be her last. 

    View the full list of this year’s winners below:

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

    Don Cheadle, Black Monday
    Ted Danson, The Good Place
    Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
    Ramy Youssef, Ramy

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
    Christina Applegate, Dead To Me
    Linda Cardellini, Dead To Me
    Issa Rae, Insecure
    Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES

    Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Curb Your Enthusiasm

    Dead To Me
    Insecure
    The Good Place
    The Kominsky Method
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    What We Do In The Shadows

    OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR FOR A COMEDY SERIES 

    Schitt’s Creek, Andrew Cividina & Daniel Levy – Winner
    Modern Family, Gail Mancuso
    Ramy, Ramy Youssef
    The Great, Matt Shakman
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amy Sherman-Palladino
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Daniel Palladino
    Will & Grace, James Burrows

    OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES

    Succession – Winner
    Better Call Saul

    The Crown
    The Handmaid’s Tale
    The Mandalorian
    Stranger Things
    Killing Eve
    Ozark

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True – Winner
    Hugh Jackman, Bad Education

    Jeremy Pope, Hollywood
    Paul Mescal, Normal People
    Jeremy Irons, Watchmen

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Regina King, Watchmen – Winner
    Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere   

    Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America  
    Octavia Spencer, Self Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker 
    Shira Haas, Unorthodox 

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen – Winner
    Dylan McDermott, Hollywood
    Jim Parsons, Hollywood 

    Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend 
    Jovan Adepo, Watchmen 
    Louis Gossett Jr., Watchmen

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Uzo Adub, Mrs. America – Winner
    Holland Taylor, Hollywood

    Margo Martindale, Mrs. America
    Tracey Ullman, Mrs. America
    Toni Collette, Unbelievable
    Jean Smart, Watchmen

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    William Jackson Harper, The Good Place 
    Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
    Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maise
    Mahershala Ali, Ramy
    Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Betty Gilpin, GLOW

    D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place
    Yvonne Orji, Insecure
    Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
    Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Jeremy Strong, Succession – Winner
    Steve Carell, The Morning Show

    Jason Bateman, Ozark 
    Billy Porter, Pose
    Brian Cox, Succession
    Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Zendaya, Euphoria – Winner
    Olivia Colman, The Crown

    Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
    Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
    Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
    Laura Linney, Ozark

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Billy Crudup, The Morning Show  – Winner
    Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul 

    Bradley Whitford The Handmaid’s Tale
    Mark Duplass, The Morning Show
    Nicholas Braun, Succession
    Kieran Culkin, Succession 
    Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
    Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Julia Garner, Ozark – Winner
    Laura Dern, Big Little Lies

    Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
    Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
    Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Fiona Shaw, Killing Ev
    Sarah Snook, Succession
    Thandie Newton, Westworld

    OUTSTANDING SHORT FORM NONFICTION OR REALITY SERIES

    National Geographic Presents Cosmos: Creating Possible Worlds – Winner
    Between The Scenes – The Daily Show

    Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: Pandemic Video Diaries 
    Pose: Identity, Family, Community
    RuPaul’s Drag Race Out Of The Closet

    OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES

    Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Winner
    The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

    Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
    Jimmy Kimmel Live!
    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

    OUTSTANDING VARIETY SKETCH SERIES

    Saturday Night Live – Winner
    A Black Lady Sketch Show

    Drunk History

    OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE

    Bad Education – Winner
    American Son

    Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones
    El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
    Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend

    OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES

    Watchmen – Winner
    Little Fires Everywhere

    Mrs. America
    Unbelievable
    Unorthodox

    OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES

    The Last Dance – Winner
    American Masters
    Hillary
    McMillion$ 
    Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness 

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    September 21, 2020 • Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 674

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum & Vice President of Original Films at Netflix, Tendo Nagenda, Featured in ‘The Hollywood Reporter’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Tendo Nagenda recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about what viewers can expect from Netflix originals in the age of COVID-19, showing that the streaming service giant is not slowing down and ready to provide viewers with more content in the next couple of years.

    Nagenda, who studied Filmmaking at NYFA in 1999, went on to become the VP of Production at Walt Disney Studios, where he was involved with titles like Queen of Katwe, A Wrinkle in Time, and Dumbo, among others, until he was nabbed by Netflix in 2018 to be the new VP Original Films. In Nagenda’s new role, he explained to The Hollywood Reporter that Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed film Da 5 Bloods was the first film he gave the greenlight to at Netflix, followed by Spenser Confidential with Mark Wahlberg, and fan favorite The Old Guard starring Charlize Theron.

    Tendo Nagenda for ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ (Photo Credit: Phylicia J. L. Munn)

    In his conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Nagenda shared that right now, with the pandemic in mind, “there are still going to be plenty of movies that people will want to see in the theater. I just think that there is also going to be an awareness that there is a super-high-quality film available that might or might not be in theaters.”

    Enter Netflix. The streaming platform has seen tremendous growth since the pandemic hit, accumulating 10 million subscribers in the streaming service’s second quarter, growing the global user base to 193 million. Ultimately, restrictions and safety have caused more people to turn to streaming services in general to consume all the media they want.

    As a company, Nagenda revealed that Netflix has shown no signs of slowing down due to the pandemic. “We have a lot of runway, definitely through 2020 and part of 2021,” he shared. “We want to get to work and back into production just like everybody else, and we want to get through this year. We’re still in pretty good shape.”

    (L-R) Lena Waithe, Tendo Nagenda, Ava DuVernay, and David-Oyelowo (Photo Credit: Trendy Africa)

    As for what’s next from the popular streaming platform, it is still in high competition with heavy-hitter Hollywood studios that have their own intellectual properties (IPs) and catalogue of directors to choose from. “We have to concentrate our efforts on finding people of that talent level that we can work with as early as possible and then get them to make movies only for Netflix,” explained Nagenda.

    Still from Nagenda’s first film with Netflix – ‘Da 5 Bloods’ (Courtesy of Netflix

    “We’re looking at big, broad-audience, PG-level adventure films as something that we want to get into. Something along the lines of the first Star Wars, or Harry Potter 1 and 2. A lot of family live action, fantasy, spectacle movies that we think are big and can play great.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate the NYFA alum and Netflix executive on his recent feature in The Hollywood Reporter and looks forward to seeing upcoming original titles like The Gray Man (Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans) spearheaded by one of NYFA’s very own.

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    September 15, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 516

  • Assembly Line Entertainment Founder & NYFA Producing Alum Janek Ambros Shares Exciting Slate of Upcoming Projects and Collaborations with Fellow Producing Alum Robbie Leacock

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    After graduation, it’s straight to set for many alumni; but for others, it means a new era of innovation injected into the film industry by bringing in new, incredible stories to new audiences. MFA Producing alum Janek Ambros decided to do just that by starting up his own international production company, Assembly Line Entertainment, which has already had films appear in festivals all over the world including Sundance and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

    “When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I took a production company course at NYFA,” recalled Ambros. “It was in that class where I created the company logo, and the type of company I’d want (heavily inspired by American Zoetrope). Seven years later, we’re on a very similar path that was outlined in class – starting with shorts and moving on to high-end festivals like Sundance and TIFF, with more development focused on projects we make from the ground up. It’s testament to NYFA’s goal of learning by doing.”

    Janek Ambros (Right) at TIFF for Assembly Line Pictures’ ‘Human Capital’

    Assembly Line Entertainment already boasts an impressive filmography, including 10,000 Saints (Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld), Human Capital (Maya Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Alex Wolff), and documentary Imminent Threat (Dir. Janek Ambros), among others. 

    “We’re excited to be working on a new large slate of movies going into 2021 that we’re producing with our new Head of Production, Kahlilah King,” shared Ambros. “From traditional narratives to social impact docu-series, we [Assembly Line Entertainment] have many projects that are adapting to the ever-changing landscape of distribution.”

    Alex Wolff (Left) and Maya Hawke (Right) in ‘Human Capital’ (Photo Courtesy of Assembly Line Entertainment)

    Some of those upcoming projects slated for release include Mondo Hollywoodland (Dir. Janek Ambros), animated political satire First New Nation, an untitled birthing docu-series (Written by Khaliah King), and Sixties, a digital campaign on social media that features 60-second films from countries all over the world to highlight new developing directors.

    Another upcoming project is feature film Hey, Johnny, directed by Ambros and produced by fellow NYFA Producing alum Robbie Leacock, who previously also produced Imminent Threat, serves as the executive producer the Sixties project, and is writing and producing upcoming mockumentary series The Flat Tyres for Assembly Line Entertainment. 

    Robbie Leacock (Left) on set of ‘The Flat Tyres’ (Photo Courtesy of Assembly Line Entertainment)

    After graduating from NYFA, Leacock started at Potboiler Productions as a producer’s assistant before moving up to assistant producer. He later served as an associate producer on Netflix’s The Red Sea Diving Resort before returning to the U.S. to join producing partner Janek Ambros at Assembly Line Entertainment. “We were always told that the relationships you build at film school are the ones that will last throughout your career, and this proved to be so true,” revealed Leacock. “We now have our first TV series in the works (The Flat Tyres), a satirical comedy about a gang of hijackers from the townships, for which we are currently shooting on location in Cape Town, South Africa.”

    With a slate of upcoming projects and new opportunities for Ambros’ production company, 2021 is set to be the biggest year yet for Assembly Line Entertainment and the NYFA alumni, who are working to create character-driven projects for audiences that reflect modern society.

    Assembly Line Pictures Founder Janek Ambros

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Alumni Janek Ambros and Robbie Leacock on their upcoming projects with Assembly Line Entertainment and looks forward to hearing about new projects as they develop. 

    NYFA also encourages readers to check out Assembly Line Entertainment’s Instagram account, where their project Sixties will officially be launched. For a full list of the company’s productions, click here.

    Assembly Line Entertainment
    Founder: Janek Ambros
    Producer: Robbie Leacock

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  • NYFA AFA Filmmaking Alum Nick Venuti Screens Film ‘Buffalo Scientists’ at Dances With Films Festival

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    In a classic case of “write what you know,” recent alum Nick Venuti, from the Fall 2018 AFA Filmmaking class, drew from his past when developing ideas for his thesis film, Buffalo Scientists. “Thinking about what it would be like if two of my childhood friends attempted some big crazy thing and picturing how it would play out” was his inspiration. “They always had big imaginations and typically don’t think things through,” Venuti said, ”so I thought it would make an entertaining movie. From there, I just started thinking, how could I turn it up a notch? What if the clerk (main character) was our favorite high school math teacher, Mr. Hughes?” 

    The result is Buffalo Scientists, a quirky dark comedy, that had its world premiere at the Dances with Films festival in Los Angeles on August 28, 2020.  Director of NYFA’s Film Festival Department, Crickett Rumley, caught up with Nick to talk about the film right after his first screening and before his second with the well-known indie festival. 

    Crickett Rumley (CR): Congratulations on getting into Dances With Films!  Tell us a little bit more about your film. 

    Nick Venuti (NV): Buffalo Scientists is a comedy about an ex-history teacher named Bill Peterson. Bill works at a convenience store in Sacramento run by his egotistical manager, Carl. After Carl leaves for the night, 2 masked men, Jeremy and Alan, enter to rob the store. During the robbery they recognize Bill as their former high school history teacher. After reminiscing about the past, Bill decides to join the boys on an adventure into the night.  

    CR: And what a bizarre adventure it is.  It must have been so much fun to direct.  What was your favorite thing about directing it?

    NV: It was the first film that I felt like I was really the director. I had such an amazing team with me on set that for the first time ever I didn’t feel like I had to micromanage every aspect of production. I could focus solely on directing. I got to spend so much more time with the actors than I ever have. I love doing almost everything on set, but it was so cool to experience being just the director for once. 

    Film poster for ‘Buffalo Scientists’

    CR: Did you experience any challenges in making the film? 

    NV: I think the most challenging part for me, and for a lot of people is the final 5% of post-production; when the energy and excitement of being on set and seeing the first cut is over. It is hard to work in that final stretch where you have already seen the film 50+ times and you still need to watch it two or three times a day just to clean up all the small glitches and hiccups. You start to fall out of love with the film a little bit after seeing it so many times. After crossing the finish line, all the fun comes back with festivals and showing people for the first time, but the hardest part is definitely locking the film. 

    CR: I agree. I think all artists get tired of their work at some point, and that’s when you have to dig in even deeper.  What was your biggest takeaway from making the film? 

    NV: I learned how awesome it is to have a producer helping. I could not have done it to this scale if I didn’t have my producer (and NYFA Alumni) Andrew Reyna. I handled all the paperwork and logistics for my previous films, so I didn’t realize how much a great producer frees you up to focus on the creative aspects until this project. 

    CR: Let’s back up a little. How and when did you decide to go into film?  

    NV: I am from Binghamton, a city in upstate New York. I started looking into film when I had a stop motion project in high school. I loved directing and writing the project so much that I took some film courses at my local community college. My teacher saw I was really passionate about the subject, so he recruited me to drive down to the Everglades to work on a project for the school. I had to live in a tent for two weeks as we had to shoot a documentary for a local news station. At this point I still barely knew how to turn on a camera, but I loved every second of it. When I got back, I started looking for film schools. I knew I wanted to try and make a career in film, so I began looking for a school that could help me do just that. I discovered the New York Film Academy, went to New York to check it out and knew it was the place for me. I went to the New York City campus for the first year and liked it so much I decided to do my second year at the LA campus. 

    CR: Do you think your education at NYFA and the work you did here prepared you for a career in filmmaking? 

    NV: I think NYFA does an amazing job at throwing you straight into the deep end and just having you try to see what you can do. I believe just two months in we already had four films under our belts. This made it so easy to experiment and try things that I would never have done otherwise. We just constantly had to make new films and got to see what worked and what didn’t. It was tough making a new film every week but it was essential in helping me to build my own style and voice. 

    Nick Venuti on set with actors

    CR: Do you have any special shout-outs to faculty or staff who helped or inspired you? 

    NV: There were so many teachers that helped and inspired me: Lea Brandenburg, Ben Cohen, Brad Sample, Joe Burke, Crickett Rumley, and Richard D’Angelo all impacted me more than they could ever know. There are many more but those in particular stood out. 

    CR: Thanks for the shout-out!  Much appreciated.  So, this is your first film festival with Buffalo Scientists, and Dances with Films is such a great place to get started.  What has it been like to work with them? 

    NV: Dances with Films has been absolutely amazing. The festival has to be online this year due to COVID-19, but they are working as hard as they can to get it as close to the real thing as possible. They have virtual lounges and panels, and everything is live. It all helps it to still feel special even though we can’t experience being in Los Angeles and in the theater. Dances with Films has gone above and beyond with this as an online festival. 

    CR: What were you looking forward to about your screening? 

    NV: Before the virus, I was really looking forward to finally sharing the film with everyone in The Chinese Theater on the big screen and getting to meet the other amazing filmmakers in our block. Unfortunately, the whole festival went online, so that dampened the excitement a little, but it still was a pretty cool feeling knowing that lots of people from all over the world were watching. 

    CR: You moved back to New York after finishing your degree at the LA campus. What are you up to these days? 

    NV: I’ve been keeping busy since getting out of school. I have directed a few local commercials, was DP for a feature film in January, shot a couple music videos for local artists, and I have been getting consistent editing work on the side. Currently, SUNY Broome hired me to direct and shoot virtual field trips for the college and I have been working on scripts for future projects. I am also waiting to see how Buffalo Scientists does in festivals and if there is any interest in a feature version of the film. 

    CR: Back to Dances With Films, when is your next screening and where can we get tickets? 

    NV: We have another screening on Saturday September 5 at 11:15 pm PDT. You can get tickets for the Midnight Shorts block here.

    CR: Is there anything else we should know about the screening? 

    NV: Although our film is a comedy, I want to mention that we are placed in the comedy/horror section of the festival, so some of the films in our shorts block can be very dark and violent. 

    CR: Definitely one for the late night crowd!  Congratulations again, Nick.  Enjoy that next screening.

     Nick Venuti’s film, Buffalo Scientists, will screen a second time on Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 11:15 p.m. PT. For tickets and more information, click here.

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    September 3, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 668

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Issa Rae Stars in HBO Comedy Film ‘Coastal Elites’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Issa Rae is set to star in the upcoming COVID-19 era comedy film Coastal Elites, slated to air on September 12, 2020 on HBO and HBO Max.

    In 2020, Rae has already starred in The Lovebirds, The Photograph, and her own HBO show, Insecure, which was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards. It was also recently announced that Rae will work with Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions on new film Sinkhole; a film about female identity and themes of perfection, which just Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions for

    The Filmmaking alum’s latest project, Coastal Elites, is a satire film that follows the lives of five individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as they navigated their new reality. In addition to Rae, the star-studded cast includes Bette Midler, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson, and Kaitlyn Dever.

    NYFA alum Issa Rae as Callie Josephson in HBO’s ‘Coastal Elites’

    In Coastal Elites, plays well-connected philanthropist Callie Josephson, who runs in the same circles as Ivanka Trump. When asked about her upcoming role, Rae explained that it took a lot of research to get into her role but the script was “just incredible to read and immediately resonated” with the NYFA alum.

    The series is set to premiere on HBO and HBO Max on September 12, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to seeing talented alum Issa Rae in her upcoming role in Coastal Elites as well as hearing more about filmmaking alum’s upcoming project, Sinkhole.

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    September 2, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 672