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  • NYFA Alum Bob Ahmed’s ‘Tikkun Olam’ Tackles Homelessness with Humanity in Award-Winning Short

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    Bob Ahmed opens his interview at the 2021 SEEMA Summit with a translation from a poem written by a famous Indian poet, Mirza Ghalib: “To be human is easy, but to be humane is almost impossible.” Thus was born the inspiration for his award-winning short Tikkun Olam (2021), which tackles the subject of homelessness in Washington, D.C.

    Tikkun Olam poster

    Image Source: IMDb

    For anyone who has lived in the nation’s capital or is familiar with the city’s history of poverty, you may not be surprised by the alarming number of homeless, an issue that plagues veterans and civilians alike. Tikkun Olam is a poignant film that revolves around the love and humanity of an eight-year-old boy who encounters a homeless veteran. 

    Based on Ahmed’s own experiences while living in Washington, D.C., The Daily Times described the film as an “urgently needed story of hope in our broken world today” with “blistering performances”. Views & News describes the film as “a rare, polished gem” with “riveting performances”. Voice of America calls it “a unique film on an important topic”.

    Director and NYFA Filmmaking Alum, Bob Ahmed

    Director and NYFA Filmmaking Alum, Bob Ahmed | Photo courtesy of Arielle Lewis

    Tikkun Olam won almost universal acclaim garnering success on the festival circuit where the director’s choice to focus on his actors, putting them in a position to evoke truly intense emotional responses was rewarded. The film won ‘Best Short Film – Teens’ at the 22nd ShorTS International Film Festival in Trieste, Italy in July 2021. The short is also an official selection for the 35th Washington DC International Film Festival and the 27th Sedona International Film Festival, which is ranked amongst the “Top 10 film festivals in the world.”

    “I studied at the New York Film Academy and that is where I really got inspired to make film,says Ahmed in an interview with South Asian icon, Aroon Shivdasani, at the 2021 SEEMA Summit. 

    Ahmed believes his role as the director is not to evoke emotion from his actors, but rather to remove the pressure from the set and create an environment in which the actors can create someone truly special on camera. 

    This approach with his actors which encourages them to do what they believe they would do in a scene (even if slightly different from the script) reaps rewards as the short film was also selected for the 21st D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival and selected for the 10th D.C. South Asian Film Festival. 

     

    The director is working on a new film, Johnny & The Golden Gifts about a young boy in Washington D.C, whose life spirals out of control because of a personal tragedy. The story explores themes of forgiveness as a solution to ongoing challenges in modern American Society. 

    Considered both a Director and Screenwriter, Ahmed also wrote, Lost in DC, about a Pakistani man who visits Washington, D.C. and runs into a former high school friend. The two men spend the next several days in each other’s company, learning more about the other’s path in life following their school days. The script is currently a finalist at the 52nd Nashville Film Festival, an Academy Award Qualifying Film Festival. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Bob Ahmed for his success and looks forward to the upcoming Johnny & The Golden Gifts.

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    August 11, 2021 • Acting, Alumni Events, Filmmaking • Views: 1715

  • Q&A With NYFA Alum Abdulrahman Al Madani on Filming ‘The Monster’ and Recent Work

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    NYFA Filmmaking alum, Abdulrahman Al Madani shares his personal experience tackling challenges in the filmmaking industry with anecdotes from his own recent work, as well as advice for emerging filmmakers. Al Madani wrote and produced the successful short film, Laymoon, and closing his newest project, The Monster. 

    Al Madani is a graduate of the One-Year Filmmaking program at the NYFA Abu Dhabi campus from 2014. 

    Abdulrahman Al Madani

    Filmmaker Abdulrahman Al Madani

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What projects have you worked on over the past several years? Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    Abdulrahman Al Madani (AM): My work has comprised of short films, documentaries, music videos, and public awareness campaigns. 

    Since graduating from NYFA Abu Dhabi in 2014, I have written, directed, and produced two short films including Laymoon (2019), which was a recipient of Sharjah Art Foundation’s Production Grant, and The Monster (2021). 

    Laymoon was screened all over the Arabian Gulf, including other Arab countries like Lebanon, North Africa, and Europe such as France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. The film is currently playing on Etihad Airways flights. 

    My latest short film, The Monster, has completed post-production recently and is currently being submitted to film festivals worldwide. 

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project?

    AM: I started writing The Monster over a year ago. Once the pandemic hit, I pushed myself to develop the script further. By the end of the year, I was ready to go into production and wrapped filming in February 2021. The film is a drama revolving around a young mother named Hessa who escapes her abusive husband, only to find herself pressured by her estranged mother to succumb to his abuse. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    AM: Being in NYFA was an eye-opening experience in terms of giving me insight into various aspects of production, which allows me to be knowledgeable of everybody’s work on set. Time management, speaking to actors, and writing three-dimensional characters are some of the most important lessons I learned in NYFA which I continue to find useful to this day. In addition, NYFA helped build a filmmaking community that makes it easier to find a group of people you can trust and help one another. 

    NYFA: Are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

    AM: I am currently focused on distributing The Monster to festivals worldwide as well as developing my first feature script. 

    NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming NYFA students? 

    AM: Allow yourself to make mistakes and do not be afraid to experiment. Learn to take feedback with a pinch of salt; everyone will have an opinion about your work. Making films is the best film school, and you will keep learning as you go. Challenge yourself with each project because being stuck in your comfort zone is the death of creativity.

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    July 30, 2021 • Acting, Filmmaking • Views: 1255

  • Alum Janek Ambros’ Feature ‘Mondo Hollywoodland’ Available on August 3

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    Janek Ambros, Filmmaker and Producer of Human Capital (2019), Ten Thousand Saints (2015), and Imminent Threat (2015), directed a new narrative film, Mondo Hollywoodland. Recently acquired by Green Apple Entertainment, the film will be released digitally on August 3, 2021, on Amazon and video-on-demand. The film will also release on Friday, July 30, 2021 in Los Angeles at select theaters, including the Arena Cinelounge. Ambros is an NYFA Producing alum, who has worked on a series of collaborative projects both while as a student as well as after graduation alongside other NYFA alum. 

    Mondo Hollywoodland

    ‘Mondo Hollywoodland’ coming out on August 3, 2021

    The film follows a mushroom dealer and man from the fifth dimension as they adventure on a drug-fueled series of events throughout Hollywood, California. The film was named after the X-rated 1967 documentary, Mondo Hollywood. Ambros’ film, Mondo Hollywoodland was executive-produced by Oscar-nominated James Cromwell. 

    The film premiered at the DTLA Film Festival where it won the ‘Creative Vision Award.’ Mondo Hollywoodland made an international appearance at the Innuendo International Film Festival where Ambros won ‘Best Director.’

    Ambros is head of Assembly Line Entertainment, which has produced a series of films including Since August (2022), Legend of Tayos, Exposure 36 (2022). The NYFA alum is co-executive producer of Monica, currently in production. The film Since August competed for the Golden Goblet at the Shanghai Film Festival and will be out in 2022. 

    Janek Ambros

    Director and Producer Janek Ambros

    Ambros has a robust network across industry professionals, including other NYFA alumni, resulting in a few collaborative projects throughout his career. For example, Ambros is a co-producer of the film, Legend of Tayos, alongside fellow NYFA alum, Galo Sablantes. 

    NYFA encourages readers to follow Assembly Line Entertainment’s Instagram account (@assemblylineent), where the team promotes their upcoming films. The company is soon to launch “Sixties” on the platform, which will highlight sixty-second films from filmmakers around the world.

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    July 30, 2021 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 755

  • NEW YORK FILM ACADEMY (NYFA) ALUM ISSA RAE EARNS NOMINATION IN 73RD ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum, Issa Rae is in this year’s nominations for the 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, announced Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

    The filmmaking alum was nominated for ‘Guest Actress in a Comedy’ in this year’s Emmy’s for her performance in the HBO sketch series A Black Lady Sketch Show. The HBO series was also nominated for an Emmy in the ‘Variety Sketch Series’ category. As executive producer of the show, A Black Lady Sketch Show is the first sketch comedy to be written by, directed by, and stars all black women.

    The actress and producer is no stranger to nominations. Issa Rae was twice nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards in 2018 and 2020 for her performances as Issa Dee in the HBO hit TV series Insecure.

    Producing NYFA alum, Lisa Cortés co-directed the Emmy-nominated documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, wwhich chronicles the political battle for Democratic Senate seats during the U.S. 2020 Presidential Elections. The documentary was nominated for “Outstanding Writing For A Nonfiction Program.”

    NYFA Guest Speaker Jonathan Groff was nominated for “Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie” for his performance in Hamilton. The play has gone on to win numerous awards, including a Tony, Pulitzer Prize, and Grammy Award.

    Elizabeth Olsen, one of the many stars in the hit Marvel Studios’ Avengers films and guest speaker at the latest NYFA Q&A-List series with Tova Laiter was nominated for “Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie” for her stellar performance as the Scarlet Witch in WandaVision. The Disney+ series was also nominated in the “Limited Series” after taking off in popularity at the start of 2021.

    Another Disney+ series nomination was granted to Legendary Actor, Carl Weathers, for his performance in The Mandalorian for “Guest Actor in a Drama.” Carl Weathers made an appearance as a NYFA guest speaker at our Los Angeles campus Industry Lab Panel discussion in 2019.

    Film legend and NYFA Guest Speaker Alec Baldwin was nominated for “Guest Actor in a Comedy” for his performance on Saturday Night Live (SNL). Most are familiar with parody performances as Former President Donald J. Trump, but the actor has a long screen history from dramas to comedies. Alec Baldwin was a guest speaker at a NYFA Q&A-List Series with Tova Laiter, where he discussed the craft of acting to students and faculty.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all the nominees for the 73rd Annual Primetime Emmys and looks forward to the ABC broadcast of the virtual ceremony on Sunday, September, 19th, 2021 to be hosted by NYFA’s former guest speaker Cedric The Entertainer.


    OUTSTANDING DRAMA

    The Boys (Amazon Prime)

    Bridgerton (Netflix)

    The Crown (Netflix) – Winner

    The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

    Lovecraft Country (HBO)

    The Mandalorian (Disney+)

    Pose (FX)

    This Is Us (NBC)

     

    LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA

    Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

    Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country

    Josh O’Connor, The Crown – Winner

    Regé-Jean Page, Bridgerton

    Billy Porter, Pose

    Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason

     

    LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

    Uzo Aduba, In Treatment

    Olivia Colman, The Crown – Winner

    Emma Corrin, The Crown

    Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Mj Rodriguez, Pose

    Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country

     

    SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

    Aunjanue Ellis, Lovecraft Country

    Gillian Anderson, The Crown – Winner

    Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown

    Emerald Fennell, The Crown

    Madeline Brewer, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

     

    SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA

    Michael K. Williams, Lovecraft Country

    John Lithgow, Perry Mason

    Tobias Menzies, The Crown – Winner

    O-T Fagbenle, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Max Minghella, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian

    Chris Sullivan, This Is Us

     

    GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

    Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Claire Foy, The Crown – Winner

    Mckenna Grace, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Sophie Okonedo, Ratched

    Phylicia Rashad, This Is Us

     

    GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

    Don Cheadle, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

    Charles Dance, The Crown

    Timothy Olyphant, The Mandalorian

    Courtney B. Vance, Lovecraft Country – Winner

    Carl Weathers, The Mandalorian 

     

    OUTSTANDING COMEDY

    black-ish (ABC)

    Cobra Kai (Netflix) 

    Emily in Paris (Netflix)

    Hacks (HBO Max)

    The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)

    The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

    PEN15 (Hulu)

    Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)  – Winner

     

    LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

    Aidy Bryant, Shrill

    Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant

    Allison Janney, Mom

    Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish

    Jean Smart, Hacks – Winner

     

    LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY

    Anthony Anderson, black-ish

    Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method

    William H. Macy, Shameless

    Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso – Winner

    Kenan Thompson, Kenan

     

    SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

    Hannah Einbinder, Hacks

    Aidy Bryant, SNL

    Kate McKinnon, SNL

    Cecily Strong, SNL

    Juno Temple, Ted Lasso

    Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso – Winner

    Rosie Perez, The Flight Attendant

     

    SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY

    Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hacks

    Kenan Thompson, SNL

    Bowen Yang, SNL

    Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso – Winner

    Brendan Hunt, Ted Lasso

    Nick Mohammed, Ted Lasso

    Jeremy Swift, Ted Lasso

    Paul Reiser, The Kominsky Method

     

    GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

    Jane Adams, Hacks

    Yvette Nicole Brown, A Black Lady Sketch Show

    Bernadette Peters, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

    Issa Rae, A Black Lady Sketch Show 

    Maya Rudolph, SNL – Winner

    Kristen Wiig, SNL

     

    GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

    Alec Baldwin, SNL

    Dave Chappelle, SNL – Winner

    Morgan Freeman, The Kominsky Method

    Daniel Kaluuya, SNL

    Daniel Levy, SNL

     

    LIMITED SERIES

    I May Destroy You (HBO)

    Mare of Easttown (HBO)

    The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) – Winner

    The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime)

    WandaVision (Disney+) 

     

    MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIE

    Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square (Netflix) – Winner

    Oslo (HBO)

    Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia (Lifetime)

    Sylvie’s Love (Amazon Prime)

    Uncle Frank (Amazon Prime)

     

    LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You

    Cynthia Erivo, Genius: Aretha

    Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision 

    Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit

    Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown – Winner

     

    LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Paul Bettany, WandaVision

    Hugh Grant, The Undoing

    Ewan McGregor, Halston – Winner

    Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

    Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton

     

    SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Phillipa Soo, Hamilton

    Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton

    Jean Smart, Mare of Easttown

    Julianne Nicholson, Mare of Easttown – Winner

    Moses Ingram, The Queen’s Gambit

    Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision

     

    SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

    Jonathan Groff, Hamilton 

    Anthony Ramos, Hamilton

    Paapa Essiedu, I May Destroy You

    Evan Peters, Mare of Easttown – Winner

    Thomas Brodie-Sangster, The Queen’s Gambit

     

    REALITY SHOW HOST

    Nicole Byer, Nailed It!

    Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness, Queer Eye

    RuPaul, RuPaul’s Drag Race – Winner

    Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank

    Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons, Top Chef

     

    COMPETITION PROGRAM

    The Amazing Race

    Nailed It!

    RuPaul’s Drag Race – Winner

    Top Chef

    The Voice

     

    UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM

    Becoming (Disney+)

    Below Deck (Bravo)

    Indian Matchmaking (Netflix)

    RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked (VH1) – Winner

    Selling Sunset (Netflix)

     

    VARIETY SKETCH SERIES

    A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO)

    Saturday Night Live (NBC) – Winner

     

    VARIETY TALK SERIES

    Conan

    The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

    Jimmy Kimmel Live

    Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Winner

    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

    Courtney B. Vance, Lovecraft Country

    Carl Weathers, The Mandalorian

     

     Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)

    “Hamilton” – Winner

    “Bo Burnham: Inside”

    “David Byrne’s American Utopia”

    “8:46” – Dave Chappelle

    “Friends: The Reunion”

    “A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote”

     

    Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

    “Hacks” (Episode: “There Is No Line”), Directed by Lucia Aniello – Winner

    “B Positive” (Episode: “Pilot”), Directed by James Burrows

    “The Flight Attendant” (Episode: “In Case of Emergency”), Directed by Susanna Fogel

    “Mom” (Episode: “Scooby-Doo Checks and Salisbury Steak”), Directed by James Widdoes

    “Ted Lasso” (Episode: “Biscuits”), Directed by Zach Braff

    “Ted Lasso” (Episode: “The Hope that Kills You”), Directed by MJ Delaney

    “Ted Lasso” (Episode: “Make Rebecca Great Again”), Directed by Declan Lowney

     

    Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

    “The Crown” (Episode: “War”), Directed by Jessica Hobbs  – Winner

    “Bridgerton” (Episode: “Diamond of the First Water”), Directed by Julie Anne Robinson

    “The Crown” (Episode: “Fairytale”), Directed by Benjamin Caron

    “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Episode: “The Wilderness”), Directed by Liz Garbus

    “The Mandalorian” (Episode: “Chapter 9: The Marshal”), Directed by Jon Favreau

    “Pose” (Episode: “Series Finale”), Directed by Steven Canals

     

    Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

    “The Queen’s Gambit,” Directed by Scott Frank – Winner

    “Hamilton,” Directed by Thomas Kail

    “I May Destroy You” (Episode: “Ego Death”), Directed by Sam Miller and Michaela Coel

    “I May Destroy You” (Episode: “Eyes Eyes Eyes Eyes”), Directed by Sam Miller

    “Mare of Easttown,” Directed by Craig Zobel

    “The Underground Railroad,” Directed by Barry Jenkins

    “WandaVision,” Directed by Matt Shakman

     

    Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

    “Hacks” (Episode: “There Is No Line”), Written by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky – Winner

    “The Flight Attendant” (Episode: “In Case of Emergency”), Written by Steve Yockey

    “Girls5eva” (Episode: “Pilot”), Written by Meredith Scardino

    “PEN15” (Episode: “Play”), Written by Maya Erskine

    “Ted Lasso” (Episode: “Make Rebecca Great Again”), Written by Joe Kelly, Brendan Hunt, and Jason Sudeikis

    “Ted Lasso” (Episode: “Pilot”), Written by Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly

     

    Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

    “The Crown” (Episode: “War”), written by Peter Morgan – Winner

    “The Boys” (Episode: “What I Know”), written by Rebecca Sonnenshine

    “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Episode: “Home”), written by Yahlin Chang

    “Lovecraft Country” (Episode: “Sundown”), written by Misha Green

    “The Mandalorian” (Episode: “Chapter 13: The Jedi”), written by Dave Filoni

    “The Mandalorian” (Episode: “Chapter 16: The Rescue”), written by Jon Favreau

    “Pose” (Episode: “Series Finale”), written by Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk, Our Lady J, Janet Mock, and Ryan Murphy

     

    Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

    “I May Destroy You,” Written by Michaela Coel – Winner

    “Mare of Easttown,” Written by Brad Ingelsby

    “The Queen’s Gambit,” Written by Scott Frank

    “WandaVision” (Episode: “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”), Written by Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron

    “WandaVision” (Episode: “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience”), Written by Jac Schaeffer

    “WandaVision” (Episode: “Previously On”), Written by Laura Donney

     

    Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series

    “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” – Winner

    “The Amber Ruffin Show”

    “A Black Lady Sketch Show”

    “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

    “Saturday Night Live”

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    July 21, 2021 • Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1560

  • Broadcast Journalism Update – July 2021 Edition

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    There are some professional moments you never forget.

    Near the top of the list is getting your first Press Card. It is recognition that you are indeed a “journalist.”

    Earlier this year NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Hannah Palmhagen received her Press Card for the Swedish Parliament (Sveriges Riksdag). Hannah took a very non-traditional route to this moment. It was a journey of self-discovery as well as professional training.

    Former student, Meiraj Haq also took a unique route to success. He came to NYFA to sharpen his producing/reporting skills and used those skills to produce an acclaimed documentary about then-candidate and now Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. Amazingly, he became a top actor in Pakistani TV dramas! You can still see NYFA featured on Meiraj’s Facebook cover photo.

    Being nominated for an industry award is always a great honor. It is your peers going “on the record” in their praise of not just what you do, but how you do it. NYFA alum Kecia Gayle works in the challenging world of entertainment journalism. You can find her on Instagram and on Hollywood Unlocked’s own website.

    Of course, if you want to learn about fashion trends and popular culture, you just have to listen to NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Nicole Abebe on The Beat, 99.9 in Lagos. But if you want to double your knowledge, then check out (do people still say that?) the Abebe family on with the Abebes.

    Right now, we are in the middle of a typical New York City Summer. The days are hazy, hot and, humid. If you are a TV reporter, that means just one thing: visit places where people are cooling off. This is precisely what Broadcast Journalism alum Karen Hua did for News12 New York.

    Of course, even though it is Summer there are still important stories to cover (especially in the Southern Hemisphere, where it is Winter). One of the biggest stories continues to be COVID-19. Former NYFA student Fernanda Mueller has returned to Brazil, where she is working for NSC Comunicação, a Globo-affiliated company.

    “The company has a TV channel, radio station, digital and print media. I work as a multimedia reporter for digital and print. We recently made a video series about food prices. In this video, I talk about how prices of rice and beans have increased in Brazil and the state of Santa Catarina during the pandemic,” says Fernanda.

    Even the movies have a serious side, captured in all of its glory by NYFA graduate Federica Polidoro in a recent cover story in Vanity Fair Italia. Federica asked for comments from our own Broadcast Journalism Chair, Bill Einreinhofer.

    Evgenia Vlasova and Bill Einreinhofer are in the middle of producing a new Public TV documentary called Unsettled History: America, China and the Doolittle Tokyo Raid. In April 1942, the five American aviators pictured below, along with 59 of their comrades, were rescued from capture, torture, and certain death at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. The rescue mission was carried out by Chinese farmers, fishermen and militia members. These Americans either crash-landed or parachuted into rural China and survived thanks to the courageous actions of strangers in a foreign land.

    Producer Nancy Hanzhang Shen and Bill Einreinhofer shot the final interview last month, with Prof. Luo Shiping in Shangrao, Jiangxi province, China (centered in the picture below along with the local production team).

    The documentary will be distributed by American Public Television in April 2022, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raid.

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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: 1735

  • 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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    April 2, 2021 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Screenwriting • Views: 15665

  • 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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