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  • NYFA MFA Documentary Student’s “The Incursion” Featured on KTLA TV

    With over ten years of experience in both the communications and production industry in Jamaica, Sasha Gay Lewis set out to pursue documentary filmmaking by enrolling in the MFA Documentary program at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. Lewis has directed, produced, filmed, edited and written a number of documentaries and commercials in Jamaica, Belize, and California.

    sasha on ktla

    Her most recent documentary, which was highlighted on KTLA TV in Los Angeles, is called “The Incursion.” The documentary is an immersive experience that chronicles the events of that deadly day, the emotional drama and personal trauma the residents’ endured and its lingering effects on their lives today.

    On May 24, 2010, a joint police/military operation called “Operation Garden Parish” and famously known as “The Incursion” was launched in Tivoli Gardens — a Jamaican inner-city community described as the ‘mother’ of all ghettoes — to capture the notorious and untouchable drug lord, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. This search climaxed in a deadly clash between the security forces, residents and supporters of Coke, resulting in over 150 civilian deaths. For many of these residents, Coke was a protector and provider. He gave them jobs, created social programs for the children, and took care of the elderly.

    “I was in Jamaica working as a journalist and a producer and at the time the facts about the raid didn’t add up for me,” Lewis. “The journalist in me prompted me to investigate further and the more I researched, the more I wanted to know. It is said that as a documentarian you pursue the things that makes you upset and / or curious about and this was it for me.”
    the incursion

    Still from the documentary “The Incursion.” The Incursion examines the 2010 government raid on an inner-city community in Jamaica that resulted in the death of 150 people.

    Additionally, the victims were being told that their experience was false and that they deserved what they got. Nobody deserves to experience such acts of injustice and violence. The fact that it was carried out by those whose job it is to serve and protect is asinine and a dereliction of duty.

    In 2016, an inquest into the operations of the security forces revealed that the events of May 2010 left enduring physical, psychological and emotional scars on the residents of Tivoli Gardens and that although the operation of the security forces was justified, the manner of its execution by the security forces was “disproportionate, unjustified and unjustifiable.”

    sasha gay lewis

    Director and Producer of the documentary film “The Incursion,” Sasha-Gay Lewis on location in Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica with subjects of her film.

    “I would not have been able to create this documentary without coming to NYFA,” said Lewis. “I was always a storyteller, but through courses such as directing and writing the documentary, I was able to strengthen my storytelling, directing, and producing skills. This was a documentary seven years in the making and being able to workshop it for an entire year made all the difference.”

    “We are living in a story driven world where stories connect and in many cases provide release and healing,” she added. “I am happy that through all the support afforded to me by the Documentary Department of NYFA, I am able to make my contribution even as I pursue my passion and what I believe to be my purpose. I could spend the rest of my life doing this.”

    “The Incursion” is in the final stages of post and will be complete by the end of March 2017. The trailer will be out the first week in April 2017, and it will start its festival run shortly after.

    March 16, 2017 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1916

  • NYFA Instructor Wins Directing Awards for “The Engine of our Ruin”

    engine is in our ruinWith politics at the forefront of our daily news, it’s refreshing to see New York Film Academy Acting for Film instructor Maria Gobetti’s thought-provoking political play “The Engine of Our Ruin,” which played at The Victory Theatre Center in Burbank, California.

    Written by Jason Wells and directed by Gobetti, the play provides plenty of laughs but also offers some chewy nuggets of political give-and-take to savor. One wrong word or one wrong inflection can lead to crisis in our volatile modern world.

    The play is an LA Times Critics Pick that has won several awards, including Gobetti’s 2016 Arts in LA Stage Award for Directing. The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle (LADCC) recently announced its nominations and special awards for excellence in Los Angeles, and The Milton Katselas Award for career or special achievement in direction went to Maria Gobetti.

    Set in a luxury hotel suite somewhere in the Middle East, diplomat Charles Manning-Jourdain meets with delegates of an unfriendly nation in the hope that a simple trade agreement will bring their two countries closer together. But this routine mission quickly becomes an international incident thanks to an idealistic interpreter with an agenda of her own; a belligerent official who brings a rumor of war; and Charles’s own staffers, whose attempts to cover up an after-hours party might just topple a foreign government.

    engine of our ruin

    “This was one of the best directing experiences I’ve had, and I’ve directed over 80 plays — most of which have been world premieres,” said director Gobetti. “I could not have done this without experienced actors. Students should know that these actors were always prepared, always ready to work, and had great ideas. I did not have to ever ‘coach,’ only ‘direct’ actors who were already making strong choices.”

    Gobetti and Tom Ormeny, co-artistic directors of the Victory Theatre Center, are pleased to announce their next project — the first production of their season scheduled to rock the Little Victory — the world premiere of “Pie in the Sky.” Directed by Gobetti and produced by Ormeny, Katie Witkowski, and co-produced by Gail Bryson, “Pie in Sky” is set to begin previews on March 10 and is scheduled to run from March 17 through May 23.

    March 2, 2017 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Musical Theatre • Views: 1262

  • NYFA Dean of Academic Advising Screens His Newest Film “The Rachels”

    Dean of Academic Advising at the New York Film Academy, Michael Civille, screened his third feature film, “The Rachels,” at the Los Angeles campus. Civille was joined by actress, Rebecca Stone, who has over fifty credits in shorts, features, and television series. The star of the film, Caitlin Carver, was also in attendance. Carver is set to portray Nancy Kerrigan in the upcoming film, “I, Tonya.”

    the rachels

    Finally, Michael Pesa was in attendance. He is the former Chair of NYFA’s Cinematography program in LA and has over sixty credits, including “The Rachels.”

    Lydia Cedrone, Chair of Feature Track at the New York Film Academy LA, hosted the evening. She kicked off the Q and A by asking Civille to elaborate on the development of the project.

    “I am married to a very beautiful woman, named Hannah,” Civille began. “She is also an Executive Producer and the mother of my children. She works as the Senior V.P. of MarVista Entertainment, and we had talked for some time about wanting to collaborate.”

    ‘THE RACHELS’ EXCERPT (LIFETIME) from Michael Pessah on Vimeo.

    “Finally, this script came up and she handed it off to me,” he continued. “We hired a writer, then she hired Rebecca to shepherd us as a producer. The production came together very quickly. We shot for fifteen days in July and August. We locked picture in about five weeks and then we spent the fall getting it done.”

    Civille admitted to only taking about two months off from working full-time to complete the film. He says his secret is, “Work late and get up early.”

    That work ethic was present throughout the film shoot. At one point in the evening, the cast and crew began to discuss the dreaded “bathroom day,” referring to a scene in the film that takes place in the bathroom. A tight budget and a single location meant the cast and crew would have to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.

    the rachels

    Stone elaborated, “We were lucky that we found a location for our school that allowed us to move around as needed. Thankfully, we were able to, for example, shoot everything in the bathroom in a day. It was ambitious.”

    The rest of the cast and crew quickly chimed in agreement. Civille spoke of 110-degree days and a record-breaking heat wave. Of course, “bathroom day” fell on one of those days.

    Carver spoke about her thirteen-page workday, “Bathroom day was one of the most challenging days. Madison, who plays Rachel Nelson, she and I were having the worst time with that scene. I think it was just being locked in a bathroom all day with toilets behind you and there are ten of our crew dudes behind us, and Mike is in there with us… It was a very challenging day. But then, Mike looked at us, ‘Let it go. Just let it go. I don’t care about the dialogue right now. Just let it go.’ And I think it ended up being one of the best scenes in the entire film.”

    From all of the stress came an incredibly successful film. “The Rachels” had its premiere on January 15th on the Lifetime Movie Network.

    February 28, 2017 • Cinematography, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1392

  • NYFA Student, Actress & Producer Daniela Lavender Takes Part in Sundance “Women in Film” Panel

    Daniela LavenderBorn in Bahia, Brazil, Daniela Lavender has been training and pursuing the arts since the age of eight years old. She began by exploring ballet, jazz, contemporary dance, and eventually stepped into acting and the performing arts. Her theatre credits include British Shakespeare company production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” playing Hippolyta and Titania and a one woman show, “A Woman Alone” written by Dario Fo. From there she went on to appear in film and TV series, including the independent film “Emotional Backgammon,” where she was awarded Best Actress at the Denver Film Festival.

    Lavender is also taking on the role of producer, and currently attends the Producing School at New York Film Academy Los Angeles. As Vice President of Lavender Pictures Productions, which she co-owns with her husband Sir Ben Kingsley, her company has produced “A Birder’s Guide to Everything,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 and was awarded the Heineken first runner up audience award; “Learning to Drive” directed by Isabel Coxiet, which won the Audience Award at Provincetown Film festival; “An Ordinary Man” directed by Brad Silberling; and “Backstabbing for Beginners” directed by Per Fly, which will be released in 2017. Lavender Pictures is currently developing “Cousin Bazilio,” a 6 part mini-series; “TAJ,” an 8 part mini-series; and “Jutland,” a futuristic war drama.

    Recently, Lavender was invited to take part in a panel at the the Sundance Film Festival, which focused on Women in Film. We asked her about her involvement in the panel and her career.

    Can you tell us about your experience at this year’s Sundance?

    I much preferred my second visit to Sundance because I felt empowered. On my first visit I accompanied my husband on his press junket, so I only saw one aspect of Sundance; through an actor’s point of view and someone accompanying an actor.

    This time I went with a group of producers and filmmakers and Sundance was a different experience. I had been invited to participate in the ‘Women in Film’ panel and so I had a function that I was excited about.

    As I was there on my own, people didn’t know anything about me apart from the fact that I had a production company and was taking part in the panel. No one googled me — we didn’t google each other! So I felt that my first interactions with people were truly fresh; uncluttered by the projections that research and misinformation can so often bring.

    But what was most important for me, what made my stay so enjoyable and productive, was that I went empowered by knowledge. For the first time, instead of thinking of how I’m perceived or whether I’m being accepted or all these ego driven thoughts we invariably conjure up in situations like this, I was able to listen because I had knowledge; I knew why I was there and what I had to offer. That knowledge had been enhanced by my joining the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    sundance panel

    How did you become involved with the “Women in Film” panel?

    I met an entertainment lawyer who had been running panels at Sundance and Cannes for the past 15 years. He was a guest speaker at NYFA and my class was fortunate to attend his talk. This was part of the producer’s department programs. After class I contacted him with a question. We talked and, as by then I had been at NYFA for three months and had acquired knowledge, our talk was interesting. He felt that his women’s panel could benefit from what I had to say, so off I went.

    What do you believe was the most important topic of the panel?

    This year Sundance happened at the time of a controversial election and it became very clear to me that the most important topic of the event was knowledge. Emotions were running high and it became evident that if you don’t have knowledge to guide your emotions, passions, even love, will hinder your goals, your effectiveness.

    The more I listened to the women around me the more I was certain that what made them succeed wasn’t that they aggressively fought or protested for their place (even though some might believe so). All the successful women I came across were successful because they were outstanding at what they did. Yes, the fight for women’s rights is important as women have been discriminated against in the past, and still have room to progress until they are treated equally in every area of society, but nowadays we all have opportunities, and the most powerful way to succeed is to be great at what you do. To be the most efficient person in the room. Period. Because great skill is irresistible. Many producers and filmmakers I saw had projects they were passionate about. ‘My passion project’ as’ we say… But then distributers turn to them and say ‘well, but it’s not mine.’ One needs more than passion.

    Do you feel there has been any progress over the last few years in terms of equality for women in film?

    Yes there has been. I still wish to see more female directors. I’m looking for one right now for our TV miniseries, but there has been. The head of the panel mentioned that in his last film 90% of his crew were women. That wouldn’t have happened in the past. I see the world as a much more competitive arena today. The standards are higher, and I believe that isn’t so much about gender or race, I believe that it’s about who is the best at what they do. Who has work ethic versus who is lazy.

    When you ‘play out there with the big guns’ we see fewer nice people and more effective people. To me real kindness is to strive to be good at what you commit yourself to do, and I’m learning that. How good and ambitious you are at your job in the film business is crucial, because the film is like a chain and if one link is weak the film will suffer.
    So the weak link has no place. The one who wants to be nice and not do the work has to go. And the generous ones, the ones who give themselves to the job, the ones who care, they will have a great chance out there if that is their destiny. So for women (as for everyone else), these are great times.

    Aside from producing. You’re also an actress. As an actress in today’s world, what would be your ideal role?

    My ideal role would be a revolutionary social worker with a military background. This woman would restructure the foster care system and children wouldn’t be left in the care of the abusers. This woman would be a strong, lean machine, intelligent and have zero tolerance for child abuse. She would also operate undercover to rescue victims of child trafficking. She would be a kick ass. Like a Navy SEAL. She wouldn’t be upbeat or nice, on the contrary, she would be moody but deeply compassionate. She would also have a dynamic romantic life; she’d like boyfriends and girlfriends alike.

    Can you tell us a little bit more about the projects you’re currently working on?

    Our company has two TV miniseries and a war film in development. I’m in talks regarding a third TV mini series, but it’s in the very early stages. I’m also shooting two films as an actress, one in March called “Nomis” and another one in April called “Intrigo” directed by Daniel Alfredson (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Trilogy).

    February 21, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 991

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes Newest Incoming Veteran Student Class

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) is proud to welcome a new group of veteran students, many of which are transitioning from the military and into higher education for the first time. All new veterans were greeted in their first week with veteran-specific orientations conducted by the NYFA Veteran Services Offices at each of the three US campuses (New York City, Los Angeles, and South Beach) that are designed specifically to accommodate their diverse set of needs and help to set them up for success. Several Veteran Service Organizations (VSO’s) from the local areas sent representatives to educate the new cohort of veteran students on the benefits, resources, and programs available to them at NYFA and in the external veteran community.

    veterans in ny

    New York: New veteran students in New York are excited to begin their academic journey.

    In New York, representatives from The Mission Continues, American Corporate Partners, and Black Veterans for Social Justice provided important information to the veterans about initiatives that are offered by their organizations. These services include professional development assistance, emergency housing and legal assistance, as well as volunteer opportunities for those looking to give back to their communities.

    Veteran Services Coordinator, Christopher Paparis announced some new additions for veterans on campus, including the recent opening of the on-campus Veterans Lounge, and a new Fellowship position exclusively available to NYFA veterans with the NYC Department of Veteran Services and NYC City Service Corps.

    In Los Angeles and South Beach, Veteran Services Coordinators spoke to new NYFA veteran students about the many services and resources that the NYFA Veteran Services Offices provide, such as military benefits advising, transitioning information, the School’s Veterans Advancement Program and essentials of student life on campus. A representative from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) came to speak about the various WWP programs and extended an invitation for the veterans to join the organization.

    veterans los angeles

    Los Angeles: New veteran students at the Los Angeles campus pose for a group photo at the veteran orientation

    Army veteran and One-Year Filmmaking student, Corey Bourque said, “The LA Veterans team were very helpful in the orientation. They went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed and helped with questions. I also enjoyed learning about all of the programs and resources available from the Wounded Warrior Project. I was unaware that they offered so much. I am proud to be a veteran attending the New York Film Academy and look forward to my time here.”

    NYFA is honored to serve our nations heroes and are happy to assist them as they begin their academic journey and their careers within the film industry.

    February 16, 2017 • Community Highlights • Views: 1943

  • NYFA Los Angeles 2017 Winter Graduation

    On January 28th, the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles bid farewell to over 120 students as they crossed the stage in their caps and gowns. Amongst teachers, family, and friends, graduates prepared to enter the entertainment field.

    To honor their accomplishments we share here the final words of encouragement from the commencement speakers for the class of 2017 in hopes that they’ll help you on your artistic journey. Congratulations to all the graduates from the New York Film Academy.

    Tab Murphy, writer of “Gorillas in the Mist,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Tarzan,” “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” “Brother Bear,” “Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse, and Batman: Year One,” left students inspired with his impassioned address.

    Tab Murphy

    “This is such an exciting time in Hollywood. There’s so much opportunity out there. There are so many new venues for content and so many ways to be a creator and a writer. It’s an incredibly exciting time. I encourage you to embrace it all. Be entrepreneurial, don’t have such a narrow vision of yourself as a filmmaker and while you’re doing all of that don’t be afraid to embrace life so that when that door of opportunity opens you have something to say.”
    –Tab Murphy

    Andrew Leeds has been acting since he was eight years old. He’s done everything from voice over for animation, acted for television shows including “Bones,” “Cristela,” and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” improvisation with Groundlings Theater. He is in the holiday comedy “Office Christmas Party” and is now writing and producing for television. Leeds used his life experience to provide students with practical life advice to survive in Los Angeles.

    Andrew Leeds

    “If I could leave you with one thing today it would be, believe in yourself. Bet on yourself. However hard you think you’ve worked up until now, work harder. Create, innovate, and bring things to the table no one before you has brought. Every person in here has what it takes to do it. And, if I’m smart, I’ll take my own advice and do it too. Congratulations to all of you as you embark on the next phase of your life.”
    -Andrew Leeds

    Peter Medak has been making movies for close to sixty years and is passionate about the craft now as he was when he first began. He’s directed episodes of “7th Heaven,” “Breaking Bad,” “Cold Case,” “Hannibal,” “Twilight Zone,” “The Wire,” and “Tales from the Crypt.” His films include “The Changeling,” “Species II,” and “Romeo is Bleeding.” Here our his final words to the Filmmaking graduating class of 2017.

    Peter Medak

    “It’s pure magic. Magic is what you can do with those lenses. You’ve had your training you know about the lenses. You know about lighting, which is so important.

    I had to shoot in South Africa and make it look like Sunset Boulevard but we were in Capetown. It doesn’t exist I said to the producers, ‘You’re all out of your mind. It is impossible to do that.’ But you know I saw it was quite possible. You have to be very clever about it. Choose very carefully what you show in that frame.

    You’re going on an amazing journey and I congratulate you. I want you to follow your dreams. That’s the most important thing.”
    -Peter Medak

    Congratulations to the class of 2017!

    MFA Acting For Film
    Christopher Lee Akens
    Sienna Eve Benton
    Ainur Burkutbayeva
    Maria De Los Angeles Cabrera Toledo
    Rita A Casman
    John O’brien Johnson
    Aditya Joshi
    Yu-Hsuan Lee
    Camila Mejia Duque
    Gina Simone Parris
    Demyra Ravyne Payne
    Shelby Simkin
    Jesselynn Stegall
    Nanli Wang
    Michael Wilson
    Zhe Zeng
    Alem Zewdu
    Wanyao Zhang
    Khorlan Zholzhaxynova

    BFA Acting For Film
    Morgan Aiken
    Leo D’hemery
    Michael Elston
    Alfred Gabidullin
    Reinaldo Garcia
    Kristina Karpechenkova
    Fiona Ketter
    Justin Lightfoot
    Grace Michelle Wangui Mbayah
    Thomas Oakley
    Tayla Jan Schaffner
    Milbelynn Soto
    Marcella Unate
    Anlezia Mone Venter
    Joel Wright
    Ekaterina Zaytseva

    AFA Acting For Film
    Helmer David Arango
    Jenný Arnthórsdóttir
    Montana Cypress
    Vanessa Esquivel
    Paloma Fernandez Vigil
    Andrew Forner
    Daniela Maria Gerdes
    Tomas Gudmundsson
    Christopher Holani
    Lena Annalisa Kane
    Kelsey Kummerl
    Martta Rebekka Maki-Petaja
    Badr Moussa
    Josiah Portukalian
    Nathan Rosado
    Christopher Allyn Rybka
    Ivan Sharudo
    Valita Stoke
    Pranay Unadkat

    MFA Screenwriting
    Ashley Helg
    Casey Hempel
    Efsane Karayılanoğlu
    Timothy Kirkpatrick
    Tricia Lan
    Linn Markussen
    Kayla Maurais
    Karthik Menon
    Chiedozie Orjiako
    Eduardo Faustino Rivera Jaso

    BFA Screenwriting
    Kine Brown
    Kyle Del Fierro
    Jinghui Jia
    Daria Leshchenko
    Jamaul Phillips
    Florian David Sutalo
    William Willis

    AFA Screenwriting
    Hong Bin Zhang

    MFA Game Design
    Yi Chen
    Tianyi Wu

    BFA Game Design
    Hasan Cheikhali
    Maresh Escoffery

    MA Film And Media Production
    Medardo III Abad
    Stephanie Adusei-Boateng
    Lamia Alshwwier
    Hardik Aswani
    Oscar Avila Letelier
    Elizaveta Bolshunova
    Eric Owen Bridges
    Maria Lorena Carrocci
    Sheila David
    Yanhua Gao
    Yunhong Guo
    Albandari Tariq Hakeem
    Naimah Hawsah
    Kiyanoush Jahaandideh
    Adebowale Johnson
    Ajay Marri
    Manikandan Mathivanan
    Kyaw Kyaw Min
    Sadedin Piralievich Nuraliev
    Olzhas Nurbayev
    Daniel Peres Morel
    Tianyu Ren
    Andrea Rodriguez Sanchez
    Nataliya Tsvetkova
    Gudiveti Venkata Raghavendra Reddy
    Chuwei Wang
    Xiao Wang
    Yanping Wang
    Sarai Waters
    Shengsheng Wu
    Fei Xie

    AFA Filmmaking
    I-Chen Chung
    Peter Farquhar
    Desmond Goldson
    Sergey Korchinskiy
    Samuel Mcknight
    Joshua Prince
    Ben Zimmerman

    MFA Cinematography
    Saleh Aldwayyan
    Abdulaziz Almutari Talaq
    Amy Lynn Brown
    Jessica Gray
    Joseph Hamilton
    Haoxun Jiang
    Sam Krishna
    Tian Liu
    Yang Liu
    Dhruv Saxena
    Carlos Suarez
    Jaan Kristjan Utno
    Jing Wang
    Haowei Wen
    Yue Xue

    MFA Producing
    Louis Brown
    Qian Dong
    Melissa Gutiérrez Clavijo
    Florian Christian Handler
    Zororo Makamba
    Ana Cindy Quijada R.
    Daniel Wayne Smith
    Funeka Sowazi
    Joshua Thomas
    Alexandre Wilson
    Hanjie Zhang
    Yanjun Zhu

    AFA Producing
    Nicole Tatlock

    MFA Photography
    Nilangana Banerjee
    Pamela Garcia-Aguirre
    Tingting Lou
    Hao Yang
    Yiwan Zhang

    BFA Photography
    Polina Krasovicka
    Xiao Xu

    BFA Animation
    Yahui Cheng

    MFA Filmmaking (Feature Track)
    Bandar Mohayl Almutairi
    Vanness Diane Hughes

    MFA Filmmaking
    Marvin Akanyi
    Mohamad Al Yamani
    Abdulelah Alqurashi
    Hua Bai
    Fanzhen Bu
    Luis Fernando Camargo
    Yang Chen
    Yucheng Geng
    Fei Guo
    Nicole Harris
    Lei Hong
    Shiman Hu
    Hanyang Huang
    Amir Kadiev
    George Leone
    Shaobo Li
    Ziwei Lu
    Pedro Ludwig Marcial
    Milton Lyons
    Haihua Ma
    John Mccain
    Obianuju Obiejesi
    Jorge Andres Ospina Sanchez
    Chanel Page
    Keyu Qu
    Olga Solodukhina
    Pavel Suslov
    Hiroshi Takano
    Diana Esperanza Trejo
    Daniel Velasco
    Rui Wu
    Wei Xiao
    Qin Yan
    Zhiyuan Yuan
    Yuqing Zhang
    Tian Zhou
    Duxiao Zhu

    BFA Filmmaking (Feature Track)
    Hamzah Ahmed F. Tarzan

    BFA Filmmaking
    Noor Matook Al Yaseen
    Paul Araujo Coronel
    Abdullah Bamajboor
    Diego Barragan
    Nikita Belomestnykh
    William Berkowitz Jr.
    Joseph Brandon
    Alexis Brown
    Charles Clark
    Nicholas Cunha
    Guojiang Deng
    Christopher Di Edwardo
    Joel Jerry Duran
    Robert Ford
    Kristen Kiertzner
    Yassein Koptane
    Andrew Kunkle
    Haochang Liu
    Luke Murphy
    Samuel Nieves
    Cindy Osegueda
    Taylor Paluso
    Mariel Quintero
    Shivalik Shankar
    Alexander Stamm
    Shammika Tomar
    Arturo Trapaga
    Hao Wang
    Joann Wong
    Shiyao Yao
    Jiasu Ye
    Yufei Zhang

    February 15, 2017 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 1250

  • NYFA Student’s Film “Dr. Elevator” Selected to 32 Film Festivals

    Born and raised in Bhopal, India, Kartikye Gupta always longed to entertain and inspire people’s lives. “I think, before going and making a film, film education is very essential, so when I finished my high school, New York Film Academy was always on the top of my list,” says Gupta, who is a BFA Filmmaking student at NYFA Los Angeles. “It’s the most hands-on film school, the student gets to write, direct and edit a short film every week, which made me get better and better. More importantly, the school provides an opportunity to interact from different professionals from all over the world and to learn more about different cultures and filmmaking styles from around world.”

    gupta

    Gupta has a firm belief that a film should be a medium of entertainment, where one creates an environment for the audience to forget all their problems and fully enjoy.

    His most recent film, “Dr. Elevator,” was officially selected in 32 film festivals for Best Short Film and screened in major cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, New Orleans, Wellington, Punjab, Queensland, Phoenix, Idyllwild and Copenhagen. The short film takes place in a trapped elevator, where a woman goes into labor, forcing an Indian mathematician with Asperger’s to rise to the occasion and deliver the baby.

    “When Cody Smart, NYFA MFA Screenwriting alumnus, narrated the story, I instantly loved the characters,” said Gupta. “It has a very simple, funny conflict with very interesting characters meeting at the same time. I trusted my actors, gave them a lot of freedom, but still told them what I needed; and they did a great job.”

    dr. elevator

    “I am honored to be a student at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles,” he says. “My lifelong dream of becoming a filmmaker is moving forward, thanks to a generous college like yours. Being a film student at New York Film Academy was a great advantage for me to produce, shoot and edit this film. I used to get notes, feedbacks from my screenwriting and directing instructors on the script, and the film when it was completed, which helped me to make it better and better.”

    Gupta hopes to get “Dr. Elevator” on Amazon in order to reach a larger audience. He’s currently editing another short film, which he directed last year, and intends on submitting it to top tier film festivals.

    February 13, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3778

  • Producing Couple Finds Love and Distribution From NYFA Thesis Film

    With students coming from all areas of the world, it’s inevitable that a student will partner up with somebody from an entirely different culture than their own. It’s even possible that the working relationship could extend in personal areas of life beyond the set. At least this was the case with two former students, Rudi and Radhika Womack, who met at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, collaborated on Rudi’s thesis project, and are now married!

    Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 5.11.37 PM

    Rudi came to NYFA from the hills of Cheyenne, Wyoming while Radhika came all the way from New Delhi, India.

    Rudi’s thesis, “Call of the Wolf,” was produced by Radhika, and now, as a much deserving added bonus, the couple’s film was picked up for worldwide rights by Gravitas Ventures.

    Gravitas has set a Feb. 7 VOD/DVD release date for their film, which is about two kidnapped and trapped strangers who must survive the brutal onslaught of winter and are forced to play a deadly game of survival to outsmart their kidnapper — a sniper calling himself “Wolf.”

    “‘Call of The Wolf’ really stood out to us among a sea of submissions,” said Dan Fisher, director of acquisitions for Gravitas. “We really appreciated the quality of the filmmaking and the gradual reveal of the story, and we are excited to release across our multiple platform partners.”

    We spoke to the newly married couple and filmmaking partners before their upcoming release tomorrow.

    Congratulations on having your thesis film picked up by Gravitas! Can you tell us how this film first came about?

    Rudi: I have always wanted to tell a story of survival; of a character who is ripped from their element and forced into a hostile environment. As I developed the story I knew there wouldn’t be a chance of it getting picked up unless the film had some more “traditional” elements. Over seven drafts Call of the Wolf took shape; evolving from a story of pure survival in the wilderness, into a cat-and-mouse game with a man hunting the protagonist.

    How would each of you pitch this film in your own words?

    Rudi: There’s plot and story. The plot is simple: Madman kidnaps two strangers and forces them into the wilderness for a deadly game of survival. But the story, the meat and bones of the film, is all about Lester. He’s a rich kid who has never had responsibility, risk, or any real challenge. Over the course of the film he slowly evolves into a much stronger, self-reliant person.

    Radhika: The film is about survival. It is about overcoming difficulties, rising to the occasion to learning to fight for what is important to you.

    How did you get your thesis film into the hands of Gravitas, your distributor? Were you surprised when they picked up your film for distribution?

    Rudi: We avoided the festival circuit and went straight to distributors with the film. I guess it turned some heads because we had 3 positive responses in the span of a week. Gravitas Ventures was our best choice because of the care and consideration they had towards the integrity of the story. Gravitas Ventures has taken great care of us and I’m very lucky to be working with them.

    Radhika: We were surprised and thrilled when Gravitas Ventures picked up Call of the Wolf for distribution. They have a great line up of films and Call of the Wolf fits right in. We are looking forward to the great things we can do together with them.

    What were some of the challenges of shooting a film on location in the mountains of Wyoming? How did you overcome them?

    Rudi: Wyoming is my home, so I know how unpredictable it can be, especially on the mountain. The weather was really tough for sure. It dropped far below 0 many, many times. But the hardest part for me was the limitations of budget. There were so many things I wanted to do that simply were not possible with the constraints we had. Even simple things like dolly shots were mostly unachievable for us. It also makes it really hard to set up a shot in the snow, because you can’t leave any tracks. You end up walking a long way so the shot is clear. I knew the limitations of budget and equipment were going to hurt us, so very early on I started designing the look of the film around static wide shots. I think the mountain, trees, and snow offered a multitude of opportunities for beautifully framed wide shots. So that’s what we did; we trekked into the trees, set up the camera, and let it roll for a bit. This also helped with the slower pace of the film I was trying to achieve.

    Radhika: The biggest challenge we experienced was the weather. It was very cold and at that temperature and elevation, everyone’s efficiency level goes down. We had planned for it to the best of our ability by scheduling easier scenes at the beginning of the shoot, slower and shorter days than we would normally have if we shot in sunny Los Angeles. Kudos to the cast and crew to have powered through the month and for bringing their A-game on even in such difficult conditions!

    call of wolf

    Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of being able to create this film?

    Radhika: Yes. This was Rudi’s thesis film for his MFA in Filmmaking program. We had support and guidance from the teachers at every step of production. There were times we felt they were being too harsh or difficult but in the end it was always for our benefit.

    Where will we be able to see your film?

    Radhika: Just about anywhere that you would see most movies! It will be released on DVD and Blue Ray, and will be available on most major VOD platforms. We’re also hoping to secure a limited release in theaters across Colorado and Wyoming.

    Are you currently working on another project that you’d like to tell us about?

    Radhika: Rudi and I are currently in principal photography on our next untitled feature film. Additionally I am working on a documentary with an Academy Award nominated director as well as Line Producing a soon-to-be announced Virtual Reality series

    Rudi: We’re currently in production on our next feature film, which is still untitled. It follows the story of a young man who robs a pawnshop to help support his girlfriend. The robbery goes wrong and he barricades himself in a truck stop bathroom, which triggers an intense standoff with the police. Radhika and I also recently made a short film called “Chippy” about a dog who bites a little girl, and the repercussions it has on a single mother and her family. It’s just finishing up its festival run.

    February 6, 2017 • Filmmaking, Producing, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2227

  • NYFA Inspires Young Storytellers

    On Thursday, January 19th, New York Film Academy Los Angeles students teamed up with The Young Storytellers and a local elementary school. The Young Storytellers is an organization that helps students of all ages create, revise, edit, and showcase a screenplay.

    young storytellers

    For the past ten weeks, mentors for the New York Film Academy have met with ten future storytellers. The children, between the ages of eight and ten, wrote stories inspired by their best friends, little brothers, favorite films, and conquering their fears. Each story ends with a lesson they think other kids need to learn.

    In the morning the kids were introduced to a dozen NYFA actors. The actors auditioned by showing off their accents, animal impersonations, and acrobatic skills. The children handed out their scripts to their selections and gave detailed descriptions of how they originally envisioned characters.

    storytellers

    Students entered the auditorium on a paparazzi (made up of their mentors) lined red carpet and thunderous applause from their classmates. One by one the students presented their work to the entire student body. Before the show began each mentor explained their mentees’ journey and spoke highly of the accomplishments achieved.

    young storytellers

    Lead mentor Menno said of the experience, “We really want to make the kids feel special. We don’t do this program to get students into the Golden Globes one day. We’re here to help them become more confident and better public speakers.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank The Young Storytellers for partnering with us to complete this project. To learn more about Young Storytellers, click here.

    January 30, 2017 • Community Highlights • Views: 1091

  • NYFA Docs Presents “Hashknife Pony Express”

    For 58 years, members of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Posse have participated in the Hashknife Pony Express, a 200-mile horseback ride that brings the Old West back to life.

    A team from the Documentary Department at New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus accompanied the riders from Holbrook to Scottsdale, Arizona and have just released this short documentary entitled “Hashknife Pony Express.”


    The historic Pony Express was only in operation delivering the mail for about 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861, and was never routed through Arizona. Llike the original riders, the Hashknife Pony Express members are sworn in as official representatives of the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the mail along the route from Holbrook to Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Over three days, each horse and rider takes multiple one-mile legs, passing the mail bag from rider to rider, often at full gallop.

    NYFA students Claudio Duek, Steve Estrada, Eva Luna Marini and Alejandro Talens and NYFA LA Documentary Chair Barbara Multer-Wellin split into teams to capture the action along the route. The film was edited by NYFA alumna Michelle Flores and mixed by Instructor John Sisti of the NYFA LA Sound Department.

    January 24, 2017 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 1054