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  • 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: 542

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Earns Several Nominations for 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was once again represented in this year’s nominations for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, announced Tuesday, July 28 at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

    NYFA alum and ‘Insecure’ creator Issa Rae (Right) and Jay Ellis (Left) in Season 4 of ‘Insecure’

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae was nominated for her second ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series’ Emmy for her performance in the HBO series Insecure, also created and executive produced by Rae. In total, Insecure received eight nominations including its first-ever Emmy nomination for ‘Outstanding Comedy Series’ and a nomination for Yvonne Orji for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.’

    Fan favorite series Stranger Things continued to capture viewers, receiving eight nominations including ‘Outstanding Drama Series.’ NYFA Filmmaking alum Eric Demeusy previously earned an Emmy in 2017 for creating the now iconic title sequence for the show. The series also previously starred NYFA Board Member and Master Class Instructor Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner and featured NYFA Acting for Film alum Matty Cardarople.

    NYFA guest speaker and ‘The Mandalorian’ creator Jon Favreau

    Competing with Stranger Things for ‘Outstanding Drama Series’ is the Disney+ Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian. Created by NYFA guest speaker Jon Favreau, the series received a whopping 17 nominations total for the newcomer streaming platform. The popular space western also features Rocky star, Carl Weathers, who previously spoke at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for Industry Lab panel discussion. Disney+ also picked up a nomination for ‘Outstanding Short Form Animated Program’ with Forky Asks a Question, featuring the voice of actor and NYFA guest speaker Tony Hale.

    Documentary film poster for Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’

    Easily one of the most talked-about documentaries of the year was Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness, which received four nominations in the Emmy documentary categories including ‘Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series.’ Creating the cohesive and gripping storyline for the documentary was NYFA Documentary Filmmaking alum Pedro Álvarez Gales, who served as co-editor for the popular Netflix series.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum Ragga Ragnars in ‘Vikings’

    Also nominated this year was History Channel’s Vikings for ‘Outstanding Visual Effects in a Supporting Role,’ which stars Acting for Film alum Ragga Ragnars. Better Call Saul screenwriter and NYFA guest speaker, Gordon Smith, was also nominated for his writing for the series episode “Bagman.”

    This year, Netflix beat out HBO’s previous record for the most Emmy nominations to date with 160 nominations, with HBO trailing behind at 107 nominations total this year, though HBO continued its success with dystopian series Watchmen leading with the most Emmy nominations for any show this year in 26 categories. The newly established mobile-only streaming platform Quibi led the short form Emmy nominations this year with 10 nominations across the five short form categories, making it the most of any platform.

    (UPDATE 7/30/20) The Television Academy has officially announced that the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys will be held completely online, with host Jimmy Kimmel, the Emmy producers, and a prominent team of technicians working closely with each of the nominees to ensure the ceremony will still be streamed at the highest caliber possible for TV’s biggest night.

    The Television Academy also noted that nominees can follow the dress code “Come as you are, but make an Effort!,” noting that many of the nominees span across the globe in different time zones, with many tuning in at extremely late hours with the ceremony still being held at its normal Pacific Standard Time. An excerpt from the letter addressed to the nominees can be found below:

    “If you want to be in formal wear, we’d love that, but equally if you’re in the UK and it’s 3am, perhaps you want to be in designer pajamas and record from your bed! We want to work with you to style your moments, but want you to guide us on your levels of comfort – where you want to be, who you want to be with, what you want to wear etc.

    In the forthcoming days, Jen Proctor, our Talent Producer and her extraordinary team at Cultivated Entertainment will be reaching out to you to start talking through the details.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all the nominees for the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys and looks forward to the ABC broadcast of the virtual ceremony on September 20, 2020, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

     

    Here is a list of some of this year’s Emmy Award nominees:

    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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  • HBO Announces NYFA Instructor Lanre Olabisi as 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellowship Recipient

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    At New York Film Academy (NYFA), our distinguished faculty not only have years of experience in the film industry, but they also remain active creators. NYFA is proud to announce that Screenwriting, Directing, and Acting for Directors instructor, Lanre Olabisi, was recently announced as a recipient of the 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellowship

    Lanre Olabisi first got involved in filmmaking after a screenwriting class he took at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. “That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker,” he remembers. Since then, Olabisi decided to make films where the focus is always centered on unique and poignant messages that challenge individual and collective views on a variety of topics. Some of his feature films include August the First and Somewhere in the Middle (Both distributed by Film Movement on all major platforms in North America).

    NYFA Instructor Lanre Olabisi

    August the First played at over 35 film festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW) and Karlovy Vary. It also won the top prize at seven festivals and was nominated for an IFP Gotham Award. “This film encapsulates my continuing commitment to move beyond stereotypes of African-American families and depict an honest portrait during a difficult time sans gangs, guns, and violence,” shares Olabisi. 

    His other feature film, Somewhere in the Middle played at over 25 festivals and was nominated for a Black Reel Award. “This film expanded my vision as I examined romantic relationships within New York City – full of people of all backgrounds: African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian, heterosexual, bisexual, and gay.” 

    As a recipient of the HBOAccess Directing Fellowship, a biennial program designed to foster diverse directing talent, it will mean more industry exposure for Olabisi’s upcoming projects, including his upcoming short film, A Storybook Ending, set to premiere in the summer of 2020. 

    Olabisi, who wrote, produced, and directed A Storybook Ending, also collaborated with NYFA Cinematography Chair, Pierro Basso, who served as the DP (Director of Photography) for the film. A Storybook Ending explores contemporary race relations in the United States through the lens of a dark comedy, crime thriller. “While, in many ways, it is a complete departure of my previous work, it is in line squarely with my mission as a filmmaker; to show people of color in ways that we have not seen them portrayed on film,” says Olabisi. “A Storybook Ending draws upon the stylized visual touches of neo-noir cinema while avoiding the stylized acting that often accompanies such films.”


    The short film was recently selected as a finalist for the
    2020 American Black Film Festival’s Annual HBO Short Film Competition and was inspired by the 2015 incident involving former African-American tennis champion, James Blake. “For no apparent reason and without ever announcing his presence, a plainclothes police officer violently tackled Mr. Blake to the ground as he was waiting for a car to pick him up for the U.S. Open tennis tournament,” recounts Olabisi. “This film [A Storybook Ending] is intended to challenge assumptions about race and class.”

    While Hollywood continues to grapple with the conversation surrounding diversity and representation across the industry, Olabisi has this to say: “Fund stories by people of color. Hire people of color to be in the writers rooms, to be on sets, to direct the shows, to shoot the shows. Have a diverse crew. Have people of color in positions of power that are able to green light shows. Right now 95% of the people who decide what we see on television are white. I think the answers are simple – we just need to see a willingness to change on the part of the industry.”

    When it comes to himself as a creative, Olabisi shares that there is always a truth or experience that is woven into all of his films, which comes from his own experience. “All my films have an element of myself in it in some way. It isn’t always apparent to people, but it usually is for those who know me well.”

    ‘A Storybook Ending’ (Dir. Lanre Olabisi)

    Other influences throughout Olabisi’s career include some of his favorite creatives like Stephen Soderberg, Ryan Coogler, Steve McQueen, Ava Duvernay, Oscar Micheaux, Alfonso Curón, and Vince Gilligan. He also notes some of his favorite films that are worth a watch, including: The Silence of the Lambs, Moonlight, City of God, Trainspotting, and Get Out. 

    As for advice to students and aspiring filmmakers, Olabisi has this to say:

    Never give up. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Too many times I see actors and filmmakers who give it a year or two and then give up on their dreams. If you decide that this is not for you and you don’t want to do it anymore – there is nothing wrong with that and nothing to be ashamed of. Find what you love to do and do it. However, if you do find that this is what you love to do – this is your calling – then you should continue to push forward no matter how long it takes you. Things will open up, but you have to be patient and make sure you are working to improve your craft every single day.”

    ‘A Storybook Ending’ (Dir. Lanre Olabisi)

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Lanre Olabisi on becoming a 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellow and for his film, A Storybook Ending, being selected as a finalist in the 2020 American Black Film Festival’s Annual HBO Short Film Competition.

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    July 9, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Producing • Views: 1376

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Paula Bryant-Ellis on Faith in Storytelling & the Importance of Mentorship and Representation

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Paula Bryant-Ellis’ story is proof that you do not have to grow up in the entertainment industry or start in showbiz at an early age to find your voice or succeed in the business. With the foundation of her faith and the skills from her career and educational experiences, Bryant-Ellis has managed to switch vocations and elevate her voice and the experiences of others along the way. 

    After graduating from Concordia University in Texas, where she majored in Accounting, Bryant-Ellis furthered her education with an MBA from UOP and an executive MBA from MIT. After years in corporate America as an executive and COO in banking and finance, Bryant-Ellis decided it was time for a change. “I was unfulfilled and really felt God pulling me in a different direction. So, my husband and I took a leap of faith and we sold our house, packed up our belongings, and moved to Los Angeles.”

    That leap of faith led Bryant-Ellis to attend NYFA’s Los Angeles campus to study producing. “I enrolled at NYFA because I needed a way to learn the industry and get up to speed quickly,” she says. “I came out of the producing program convinced that I could produce my first project, and I did!” Bryant-Ellis also learned filmmaking at NYFA’s New York City campus. “I was able to develop relationships with students from LA, New York, Russia, Nigeria and South Africa and keep in touch with them even now,” she shares. 

    Photo courtesy of Paula Bryant-Ellis

    Bryant-Ellis has gone on to produce TV series Hard Medicine and the short film Twelve Steps. She also recently made a small cameo appearance for an episode in season four of HBO’s Insecure, directed by her son Jay Ellis, who also stars on the show opposite NYFA filmmaking alum Issa Rae

    Bryant-Ellis’ most recent project to date has been her docuseries Behind Her Faith, which focuses on women in entertainment and their personal journey and the role of their faith in their career. The series features Essence Atkins (A Haunted House, Are We There Yet?), Niecy Nash (Claws, When They See Us), Angelica Nwandu (The Shade Room), and Aisha Hinds (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, 9-1-1).

    Mentoring and encouraging women has always been extremely important to me, especially because there were no role models for me in my field as I was working my way up through corporate America,” reveals Bryant-Ellis. “There were very few females in the upper ranks and there were absolutely no men or women of color in senior or executive level positions.”

    ‘Behind Her Faith’ created by an produced by Paula Bryant-Ellis

    Behind Her Faith is currently streaming on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku and UMC.tv (an AMC network), and Bryant-Ellis hopes to have more seasons in the future. “I want the audience to know that God loves them and that He’s waiting to have an encounter with them that’s more powerful than they could ever think or imagine.”

    With faith being a cornerstone of Bryant-Ellis’ storytelling foundation, she also shares that this time in show business is crucial for people to understand that all stories should properly represented and calls for change in the industry. “Stop believing you can tell my story better than I can. No one’s story is more important than the other but BOTH must be told.”

    Paula Bryant-Ellis behind the scenes during a film shoot

    With the Black Lives Matter movement continuing to bring a reckoning in Hollywood, Bryant-Ellis also adds “it’s not enough to say that you are aligned with a cause when you don’t provide resources to support the cause,” and this is not just an issue that appears in the entertainment industry. “It does not matter what industry you’re in; your Boards and your decision-making team must be diverse and reflective of the people that support and purchase your products.”

    Bryant-Ellis also reveals she has a couple of additional projects in the works including a docuseries and a drama, but is unable to officially share more information just yet. For now, she has this to say:

    “Believe in you. This industry requires tough skin and staying power. Find a niche that works for you and create content that keeps you true to who you are. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. No one can do you better than you, you just have to believe it and trust it. Trust your voice and your vision!”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate alum Paula Bryant-Ellis on her docuseries, Behind Her Faith, and looks forward to what exciting and inspiring projects come next from the NYFA alum!

    Photo courtesy of Paula Bryant-Ellis

    To learn more about Paula Bryant-Ellis and to keep an eye out for her upcoming projects, check out the links below:

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    July 6, 2020 • Diversity, Filmmaking, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 895

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism – February 2020 Update

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    Graduates of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism programs not only have gone on to have successful media careers, but they also seem to be having a lot of fun too!

    Case in point: Most of you already know that the film Parasite was the surprise big winner at this year’s Academy Awards. Well it just so happens that independent film/entertainment reporter and NYFA alum Federica Polidoro did an EXCLUSIVE interview with the South Korean director behind this brilliant film, Bong Joon-ho.

    Joelle Gargulio was a member of the very first NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduating class. From there, she started an entry level job at NBC Interactive, then worked her way up to a reporting/producing role on the Weekend Today show.

    Here she is hosting the #PopStart segment on a recent Saturday morning (Note the cross-platform distribution). Television isn’t just television anymore!

    Speaking of cross-platform distribution…Gillian Kemmerer was already an accomplished print journalist when she enrolled at NYFA, but wanted to become a multimedia journalist (MMJ). These days, she is covering sports and business, with a special emphasis on international hockey. She just passed an important milestone on Twitter and now has over 35,000 followers

    Gillian Kemmerer being filmed for a hockey segment.

    Over the years, we have had a number of talented Brazilian students in the Broadcast Journalism department. Daniella Gemignani was already working for Brazilian media powerhouse Globo when she came to NYFA to study Broadcast Journalism, but she wanted to deepen and expand her skill-set. Recently, she celebrated her fifth anniversary with Globo.

    Speaking of work anniversaries, Beatriz (“Bia”) Puente will have one next year after being offered a producer position at the third largest TV Channel in Brazil. Congratulations Bia!

    Vivian Faver was a member of my first 1-Year Broadcast Journalism program. Nobody could stop Vivian because she was a force of nature and was determined to succeed and work in New York. And succeed she did. The latest evidence is her first story on CNN Style. 

    Another NYFA alum, Mariana Janjacomo, recently penned a special piece for Trivago Magazine about what to do in Florida in the winter. Spoiler Alert: You can enjoy it a lot!

    Another Broadcast Journalism alum, who took a short-term workshop at NYFA, Daniel Fideli, recently recounted his final graduation project for the workshop back in 2014. “NYFA was such an intense experience,” he remembers, “I tend to say that those two months were more useful for me than my four years at university.”

    Meanwhile, we also have an update from the Broadcast Journalism department’s “ambassador to the red carpet,” NYFA alum Bryanna Reynolds:

    Finally, this July, Evgenia Vlasova and myself are teaching a 3-Week Journalism workshop in Moscow. Are you Russian? An early career journalist? A university student starting your senior year in September? (Or do you know someone like that?) Full scholarships are available, covering tuition, housing and transportation. Find more information at: http://nyfajss.com.

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    February 25, 2020 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1031

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Issa Rae Executive Produces HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show

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    This Friday, HBO will premiere its newest comedy series, A Black Lady Sketch Show, executive produced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Issa Rae and created by Robin Thede. The landmark show will be the first ever sketch series on television starring an all-black women cast, as well as the first with an all-black women writers room.

    The first season of A Black Lady Sketch Show, which debuts August 2, 11:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT, comprises six episodes and around forty sketches. The show is a direct response from veteran comedy writer Robin Thede to the traditional lack of diversity in comedy; in 2015, Thede had become late night’s first black woman head writer when after joining The Nightly Show.

    “[A Black Lady Sketch Show] was definitely written from a very specific point of view,” Thede tells Salon, “but it’s from a diverse array of black women. So you’re going to get sketches that have aliens or musicals or thrillers or murder. You’re going to get sketches with all sorts of different things because of the diversity amongst the black women in our writer’s room … For us it’s really about showcasing something that is seen as very homogeneous and showing the layers that black women have. And even on this show, in six episodes, we can’t, we’ve barely scratched the surface.”

    The cast will include Thede, as well as Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, and Quinta Brunson. The show will be co-executive produced by Issa Rae Productions, the production company of New York Film Academy alum Issa Rae.

    After graduating the 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, Rae turned the success of her award-winning web series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl into a deal with HBO. The deal included her series, Insecure, which she writes, produces, and stars in, and for which she earned Golden Globe nominations in 2017 and 2018. It also included developing more projects for HBO with a special focus on diversity. A Black Lady Sketch Show turned out to be the perfect fit for Issa Rae productions.

    New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse, international student body with aspiring performers and visual artists coming from over 120 countries in a nearly even female-to-male ratio. Recently, NYFA Screenwriting alum Abby Ajayi was one of 63 black female writers featured in an epic photo shoot by The Hollywood Reporter late last year. Other notable women of color that have graduated from NYFA include Amy Wright, Furaha Bayibsa, Omoni Oboli, Paquita Hughes, and Akila Robinson.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Issa Rae on her latest production and wishes the best of success to Robin Thede and the cast and crew of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show!

     

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  • Silicon Valley’s John Altschuler Speaks With New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On August 15, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of HBO’s Silicon Valley followed by a Q&A with creator and showrunner John Altschuler. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series, Tova Laiter, moderated the event.

    As a student at University of North Carolina, Altschuler created the first comedy sketch show on the university student TV. He and his co-writer, looking to capitalize on their venture, sent written material in three boxes to three owners/editors of the National Lampoon magazine, adding a dollar to each to get their attention. It worked! He became a writer for the most iconic humor magazine of its time, until he moved to Hollywood.John Altschuler

    After moving to Los Angeles however, he realized that his previous work was not going to magically open doors in the industry, so he worked odd jobs until he started getting gigs as a production assistant. He was careful not to pitch himself, instead concentrating on the job at hand. He told students, “Whatever job you get, just do that well… make their lives easier and they will look out for you; they will want to help you because you made their day that much easier.”

    His first writing job, on HBO’s The High Life, led to his becoming an executive producer and showrunner on FOX’s King of the Hill for 12 years and the relaunch of Beavis and Butt-head for MTV. He then co-created Silicon Valley for HBO, and Lopez for TV Land, starring George Lopez. He’s also produced Mike Judge’s film, Extract (2009) starring Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis and Ben Affleck, and co-wrote Blades of Glory (2007) starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder.

    A student asked Altschuler about his inspiration for Silicon Valley. He replied, “I was reading a biography of Steve Jobs and there was a quote in there where Bill Gates was ridiculing Steve Jobs: ‘The guy can’t even write code!’ Altschuler thought: “The guy created the biggest brand in the world and there’s somebody up in Silicon Valley sniping at him; I was like, “This is hilarious!'”

    To the question of whether the creators knew Silicon Valley culture or only did research when they wrote the pilot, the answer was, “Both.” Altschuler had family members who were engineers, but they also did further research:

    “We went up to Silicon Valley… and it was so funny, because… everybody kept talking about how they were making the world a better place… The sanctimony was so thick that I thought, ‘well this is something to make fun of.’ It’s… fun to take on the big guys and try to deflate them.”

    John AltschulerLaiter noted that sometimes it’s easier to make fun of something when you’re outside of it, and Altschuler concurred.

    One student asked about Altschuler’s tips for pitching a show or movie to a producer. Altschuler advised, “[When] you go in, have your story and try to start off with a topic sentence or a personal story… try to make it a conversation, not a laundry list of ‘first this happened and then that happened.'”

    Altschuler imparted to the students that no matter what, they have to like what they’re making or no one will want to consume it. And when they write, and a scene doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to let it go. “If it’s really great, it will get its way in back later.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank John Altschuler for sharing his industry expertise and advice for our film school students!

     

     

     

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    August 17, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3657

  • HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival Features Documentary Grad’s Film El Cat

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    New York Film Academy Documentary Filmmaking Conservatory grad Wynona Barbera is producer of El Cat, now an Official Selection at HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival!

    HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival (WICF) is an inclusive event focused on smashing gender inequality in comedy, where they flip the usual gender ratio in comedy: 80% of WICF performers are women.

    The ninth annual WICF will be held April 19-22 in Boston. Along with HBO, this year’s event is sponsored by NBC, ImprovBoston, and Le Chevalier. Major stars are headlining, including Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro, with additional performances by Kat Radley, Gina Yashere, Emma Willman, and Kelly McFarland.

    Although Wynona Barbera studied documentary filmmaking at NYFA, El Cat is a fiction film — which just goes to show how NYFA students can apply their skill set in so many ways as they forge their own paths as storytellers.

    “Congratulations to Wynona,” said NYFA New York Chair of Documentary Filmmaking Andrea Swift. “HBO’s Women in Comedy Festival is a major player in launching the next generation of leaders and innovators in comedy. It just goes to show the skills NYFA Documentary Filmmaking students develop here can be applied to all kinds of content, especially fiction films. Can’t wait to see what’s next!”

    El Cat will be competing in the The HBO Insider Comedy Short Challenge and WICF Comedy Short Contest with Paul Feig on Saturday, April 21, in Cambridge, MA. #WomeninFilm #WomenOfNYFA

     

     

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  • NYFA Documentary Alumna Anais Michel Joins Editing Team on Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s New HBO Series

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    NYFA Documentary Filmmakng alumna and former NYFA teaching assistant Anais Michel brings that rarest of all documentary talents to the table: comedy.

    When her film “Coach Mike” screened at the Wythe Theater in Brooklyn, the audience started laughing at minute two and didn’t stop until the credits ran out. Aptly, while she’s developing her new comedic doc inside the world of dance, the New York Film Academy grad is also busy honing her comedic chops working with comedy powerhouses Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner on the editing team of their new HBO series.

    While HBO has yet to release many details on the new series, we can reveal that Anais’ editing team is headed by HBO’s Gladys Murphy, who was nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Editing: Documentary and Long Form for her work on 2016’s “Larry Kramer in Love and Anger” for HBO.

    Coming from a background in competitive ballet and jazz dance, Anais has worked hard to position herself amongst some of the most successful female industry leaders working behind the scenes of film and television as directors, producers, editors, and writers in an industry plagued by gender inequality.

    Anais earned her master’s in journalism at France’s prestigious French Press Institute (Institut Français de Presse) before attending the New York Film Academy’s Documentary Filmmaking conservatory program, as well as the digital editing workshop.

    Since graduation, Anais has worked as an assistant editor with the internationally popular “VICE News Tonight” for their French edition, as well as working as an editor for documentary projects for prestigious nonprofit organizations including the Metropolitan Museum and the NoVo Foundation. Her short film “Hand Sight,” about a four-year-old blind girl, is an official selection of  the upcoming International Festival of Red Cross and Health Films.

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  • “Insecure” Producer Deniese Davis Visits NYFA LA’s ABA Club

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    The New York Film Academy was extremely proud to have Producer, Deniese Davis, at our Los Angeles campus. She spent more than an hour with the African and Black American Film Club answering questions about the industry, her career, and how to craft great stories.

    Davis said that she began her career like many of the students who currently attend NYFA, by working on short films. Soon after, however, she found herself working with New York Film Academy alumna Issa Rae on her YouTube show “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” She was also the associate producer on the film “Burning Sands” which focused on the hazing culture within college fraternities. The film was an official selection at Sundance this year and is a Netflix Original Film. Davis continued her work with Issa Rae as Co-Producer on HBO’s “Insecure.” She is also working on a new television series titled “Minimum Wage.”

    Insecure Producer Deniese Davis at NYFA

    Davis had a great deal of advice for the students. “You never know who is going to be the next big actor, director, or producer…” She encouraged students to build lasting relationships with their peers and not to spend all of their energy working with established professionals.

    The ABA Social Media Manager, Reed Douglass, had this to say about meeting Davis; “After speaking with Deniese I felt much more informed. I felt that I had acquired information that was useful for both my career and myself personally. I also felt like club members gained a lot from the discussion as well.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Deniese Davis for taking the time to speak with our students. Season two of “Insecure” is now available on HBO.

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    September 26, 2017 • Guest Speakers • Views: 2648