Master of Fine Arts
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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students & Alumni Featured in VoyageLA Magazine

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    VoyageLA, the flagship publication for Voyage Group of Magazines, is a media and city guide for Los Angeles that aims to authentically represent a wide variety of artists and communities, looking for outside-the-box ways to bring together the many different small businesses, independent artists and entrepreneurs, local institutions of LA.

    It’s no surprise that many of New York Film Academy’s incredibly talented students and alumni have been featured on their pages, usually with personal and informative interviews. Here are the most recent NYFA artists who have been showcased by VoyageLA:

    Dayana Espinoza

    Recent 1-Year Acting for Film grad Dayana Espinoza has a knack for landing roles in quality films–she’s appeared in award winners Outlandish (Winner – CKF International Film Festival) and The Rosy Summer Day (Best Fantasy Film – Los Angeles Film Awards; Best Short – Top Short Film Festival; Best Women Short – Indie Short Fest; Best Director – Independent Shorts Awards; Best Director – Festigious International Film Festival) as well as Invisible Murderer, which was nominated in the Indie Short Fest for both Best Original Story and Best Film Noir Short. Espinoza, who was born and raised in Peru and has been recently interviewed by both VoyageLA and Film Daily, is currently represented by two agencies and recently worked on her first SAG-AFTRA project.

    Dayana EspinozaJoseph Ford

    Current BFA Photography Joseph Ford has been hired to shoot Instagram influencers including Blac Chyna and Brittany Renner, and has recently shot photo coverage of the Amazon float for the 2019 SF Gay Pride parade. The Marines veteran talks about his fashion photography company and the path that led him to NYFA-LA and beyond. 

    Joseph Ford VoyageLA

    Saana Laigren

    In her interview with VoyageLA, 1-Year Acting for Film alum Saana Laigren talks about how she first got into acting during her childhood, and about the internal struggles she’s faced while trying to create a career in the arts. In the end, though, her path ultimately led to her following her dream, and she’s recently won Best Foreign Actress at Chandra Khamini International Film Festival.

    Saana Laigren VoyageLA

    Alice Rehemutula

    VoyageLA calls MFA Producing alum Alice Rehemutula a “trailblazer” in an interview that charts her unconventional path from a Muslim province of China to Shanghai to Hollywood. Rehemutula found great success overseas as a performer, including appearing on China’s Got Talent, but she also has a passion for working behind the camera, earning her Master of Fine Arts in Producing from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    Alice Rehemutula VoyageLA

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Game Design Alum Drew Fletcher Works on ‘Avatar’ Game

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    Drew Fletcher, graduate of the MFA in Game Design program at New York Film Academy (NYFA) is working on the video game adaptation for the massive blockbuster Avatar franchise. The game is being produced by FoxNext.

    The game, being developed for mobile, is called Avatar: Pandora Rising, and is based on the 2009 film Avatar, the 2009 Best Picture nominee that held the all-time box office record for nearly a decade. Two sequels have already been filmed with director James Cameron, with subsequent sequels already in pre-production. 

    Fletcher, who earned his MFA in Game Design from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus after enrolling in 2015, is working on the game as a QA Tester. His responsibilities include playing the game to seek and log any functional or gameplay bugs. His work on Avatar: Pandora Rising is specializing as the QA pro for combat play; the combat system being developed is similar to Clash Royale.

    Fletcher, who knows the ins and outs of the game even outside its combat play, describes Avatar: Pandora Rising as a “4x game. The objective of our game is to gain resources, build up your army/commanders, build up your alliance and rule Pandora. Similar games to ours in different parts are Rise of Civilization and Clash Royale.”Drew Fletcher

    He enthusiastically adds, “For more information download the game early next year!”

    In addition to Avatar, Fletcher is working on a personal project, saying it is “a mix of color theory and Paper Mario.” While pursing his career in game design, he’s also working on the side researching voiceover acting. 

    Giving advice to current and future NYFA students, Fletcher says, “NYFA gave you the tools to succeed, but the road to your dreams will be long—but worth the fight!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Game Design alum Drew Fletcher on his cool job and looks forward to seeing his future work as a game designer! 

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    October 3, 2019 • Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 689

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking Students Visit Buzzfeed

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    Students from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) 2018 Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking program had the opportunity to tour Buzzfeed’s LA Lexland campus on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. The MFA Filmmaking students, who study at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, were joined by producer and on-camera talent Rie McClenny for their field trip.

    The visit included a chance to tour the studios, offices, prop room, and canteen, as well as the Buzzfeed Tasty Studio where McClenny whips up all manner of desserts for the Tasty Channel. The students enjoyed seeing the new media campus and learned a great deal about how the company operates.

    “Huge thanks to Rie and Buzzfeed for having the class!” says NYFA instructor Rebecca Louisell.

    Buzzfeed MFA

    From the left, front row: Rie McClenny (Buzzfeed), Rebecca Louisell (Instructor), Mahmoud Abul Burghul, Adilet Zhumabek, Kritika Chawla, Agnes Shinozaki, Veronica Badell, Haining “Carl” Gu, Shiran Wang. Back row: Ryan Mechling, Nick Sivakumaran (Instructor), Chin-Wei Chang, Lan-Chi Chien, Ether Tian Jin

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    September 17, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 592

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Producing Alum Peipei Duan Receives Cathay Bank Scholarship

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    Peipei Duan, a 2018 graduate of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing program, recently received the Cathay Bank Scholarship, which awards and supports Chinese students of great academic achievementPeiPei Duan

    Peipei’s determination to pursue a career in producing has been with her since she attended the Beijing Film Academy in China, before eventually enrolling in the Producing program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    While at NYFA she produced several short films—one of which, Lip Reader: Game of Detective, won the Golden Award at the 15th Guangzhou Student film festival. While at NYFA, Duan also interned at Frederic Golchan Productions as an assistant at company events and festivals.

    Duan plans to use the Cathay Bank award money to produce a new short and take it to the festival circuit.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) congratulates MFA Producing alum Peipei Duan on her scholarship and wishes her success as she continues her promising career.

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    September 12, 2019 • Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 324

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing Student Phoebe Wang Awarded Movie Magic Scholarship 

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing student Xiaoxiao (Phoebe) Wang was recently awarded the Entertainment Partners’ Movie Magic Scholarship Producer Award Certificate. At the ceremony, Wang was also presented with a check for the amount of $1,450.

    The Scholarship is provided by Entertainment Partners, a company that puts technology front and center for the entertainment industry. Movie Magic is a software program for production professionals, helping with film budgeting and software, and is an industry standard.

    Wang, who originally hails from China and is currently enrolled at the producing school in NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, demonstrated a comprehensive understanding and skillful use of the software’s features, and earned the Producer Award Certificate. Wang plans to invest the award money in her current production project, entitled The Beauty.
    Phoebe Wang Featured

    Wang isn’t the first NYFA student to pick up the prestigious scholarship; last year MFA in Filmmaking students Katherin Hussein and Robert (Bobby) Gutierrez each picked up the Movie Magic award.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Producing student Phoebe Wang on winning the Entertainment Partners’ Movie Magic Scholarship Producer Award Certificate and looks forward to seeing the completion of The Beauty!

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    August 8, 2019 • Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 920

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking Student Drama Del Rosario In Doc Edge Pride Festival

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    In This Family, the BAFTA-shortlisted documentary film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Documentary Filmmaking student Drama Del Rosario is now an Official Selection of the Doc Edge Pride Festival. The prestigious festival is Oscar-qualifying and one of the biggest events In This Family will screen at to date! 

    The Doc Edge Pride Festival is held in New Zealand and is celebrating its fourteenth year. Its mission is “to lead and support filmmakers to develop and make compelling documentary films and to inspire the creative, business, and wider communities to celebrate local and international documentary stories.”

    The fest will be held in Auckland, New Zealand from May 30 – June 9 and then in New Zealand’s capital city Wellington from June 13 – 23.
    drama del rosario in this family

    Drama Del Rosario is a documentary filmmaker originally from Manila, Philippines, whose film focuses on complex themes surrounding culture, religion, commercialization, and LGBTQIA+ issues. In Fall 2017, he began studying for his MFA in Documentary Filmmaking from New York Film Academy at our Los Angeles campus.

    In This Family is a 12-minute short that tells the story of one Filipino family’s reaction to finding out their son is gay, while weaving in the filmmaker’s own story to offer an eye-opening perspective into the process of coming out to and finding acceptance from a very traditional Catholic tradition. Last year, the film was shortlisted for the BAFTA Student Film Awards.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Documentary Filmmaking student Drama Del Rosario on the latest success of his film In This Family and looks forward to seeing where his journey takes him next!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Cinematography Alum Tian Liu Builds Impressive Portfolio

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    Since graduating from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Cinematography program, alum Tian Liu (Fall 2015) has been keeping very busy. Liu has been steadily growing her career as a filmmaker and building her portfolio with credits as a photographer, producer, and cinematographer on several professional projects.

    Tian Liu
    Liu was born in China, where she studied sports journalism. While teaching orphans math as a volunteer in Kenya, Liu felt inspired to photograph their experience. After those images were professionally published, Liu realized she wanted to become a filmmaker. “I realized that images have power,” Liu tells NYFA. “It can tell others a story, it also can help people and give people a better life. I love telling stories and I want to be a visual artist.”

    Following her dream, Liu opened a photo studio and enrolled at New York Film Academy. At NYFA, Liu earned her MFA in Cinematography while studying under Chair of Cinematography Tony Richmond, ASC, BSC (Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Sandlot, Legally Blonde).

    Tian Liu
    “Without NYFA,” Liu says, I would not have been able to become a female Chinese cinematographer and do the kind of work I find so fulfilling.”

    The Piano, Liu’s thesis film completed at NYFA, has screened at over 35 film festivals, and has picked up an impressive 28 awards for Best Cinematography. Additionally, she has worked on over 40 film projects that used 16mm and 35mm film, and has shot several films as director of photography. Recently, Liu worked on a feature film in Louisiana, as well as a camera operator for Oscar-nominated cinematographer Dean Cundey, ASC (Jurassic Park, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) on the feature documentary Motionless. Liu has also worked in New York City for the United Nations and an esteemed advertisement firm.

    Liu has also found success as a photographer publishing her work in high-profile magazines and newspapers, including China Daily. Over 40 images she’s shot have been featured in Vogue Italia.

    In addition to her work behind the camera, Liu has been a strong voice for female cinematographers, and recently gave a talk at USC about working in the industry as a female, Chinese cinematographer. While the film industry works to course correct issues of gender inequality, women still make up a distressingly small proportion of working professional cinematographers.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA in Cinematography alum Tian Liu on her continued success in the industry and thanks her sharing her experiences with the filmmaking community.

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    May 9, 2019 • Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1080

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing Students Give Notes to Oscar-Winning Screenwriter Tom Schulman

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    Academy Award Winner Tom Schulman, renowned for penning Best Screenplay Winner Dead Poets Society, engaged in a team discussion with New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA in Producing students over potential modifications on his new script, which is currently slated for production in the next few months.

    Over the course of more than two hours, Schulman listened with undivided attention as students dissected his script and offered detailed notes on its story, characters, and its world.

    The special opportunity for the students came as part of their Script Collaboration & Story Development class (MFA Program, 5th semester). The class is designed to teach students script analysis, and how to write and convey notes to a screenwriter professionally and effectively.

    NYFA instructor John Morrissey invited Schulman to participate not only as the recipient of the students’ notes, but also to offer our Producing students a rare opportunity to make a direct impact on the story of a professional film.

    Many times during the conversation–punctuated by laughter and meticulous detail-offering—Schulman jotted down students’ notes on a sheet of paper. When asked what he considered the best way for a producer to provide notes to a writer, he promptly responded: “The way we have been doing it here today!”

    He then shared with the students some inside stories on how studio executives give notes to screenwriters and praised the students for their genuine passion and thoughtfulness.

    New York Film Academy thanks Academy Award-winning screenwriter Tom Schulman for giving his time and advice to our MFA in Producing students.

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    May 8, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 1126

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy MFA Alum and Instructor Justin LaReau

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    Justin LaReau had a pretty cool job. He was the head basketball coach at Southeastern Illinois College. But he was temporarily living in a hotel, reevaluating his life, and reconnecting with his love for movies. So while he was working on his playbook, he was simultaneously reading screenwriting books and began sketching out the idea of what would become his first feature. 

     

     

    Eventually, he made the difficult decision to leave coaching behind. Justin came out to Los Angeles and got an internship at Underground Film and Management—which led to his career writing, directing and producing films.  New York Film Academy (NYFA) spoke with LaReau about his movies, experiences, and his next projects. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Recently you produced and directed A Demon Within, a horror film. How did that come about? What was it like directing a feature film for the first time? What were the biggest challenges– and what was the learning curve like? 

    Justin LaReau (JL): I started writing it when I was coaching basketball, but it really initiated as a kid when my friends and I would ride by a haunted house that was widely talked about in our community. The house had been abandoned. We stopped our bikes and I saw some movement in the upstairs window. It could have been wind moving the curtains but as a 12 year old, we assumed it was a ghost. My hometown has a documented case of possession that dates back to the 1800s. Knowing that story, I wanted to tap into the personal connections I had as a kid. I felt like it would be a fun experience, plus I believed as a first feature I could get a horror film at a 100K budget fully distributed.

    And in terms of the learning curve, it was tremendous. Whether you are directing or producing, there is nothing like making a full feature. I heard Jon Favreau speak and he said whatever you do or however you have to get it done, make a full feature. Short films are great for trying to find your voice, style and developing the skills, but telling a narrative for 90 minutes or more is like no other. I tell people that I spent summers in 100 degree heat building bridges and overpasses while I was in undergrad. That’s hard work. But making a full-length movie is much harder. And unless you have, you can’t comprehend it nor can you learn as much as doing.

    Justin Lareau

    NYFA: How did your experiences as a producer inform the decisions you made as a director? 

    JL: Because we were operating on a microbudget and I was constantly tracking the spending as a line producer would. It made me eliminate waste and only spend on items that would be seen on screen. We secured free locations, free lodging, free cars/trucks for transportation, discounted food as well as many other resources. Because of that, it allowed an extra shooting day which is so vital. Time as we know is so precious in general and in filming, an extra hour goes a long way in allowing actors the opportunity to act, take direction, and deliver the performance that works for the film. 

    Additionally, the script had to evolve. The team and I were rewriting throughout prep to pull off a full feature. Many elements that would have created more value had to be removed because there just wasn’t enough money. And that is a tough pill to swallow. 

    NYFA: Can you talk about your upcoming projects? What are you working on right now? 

    JL: My producing partner Lydia Cedrone and I recently launched a production company called Tidal Wave Entertainment, LLC. As producers we currently have a slate of eight movies in development. They range from comedies to dramas to thrillers. I’m the writer and attached to direct two of the films: Fallen Lands, a post-apocalyptic drama and The Riddle Maker, a thriller. 

    NYFA: You earned your MFA from NYFA in Producing. What’s it like to be a former student on the other side of the classroom—and how does that inform your teaching? 

    JL: I had been teaching for 10 years and had already completed a graduate program. I went from standing in front of the room to sitting in the seat again. What I enjoyed about NYFA besides the hands-on experience and the location was the wealth of experiences instructors brought to the classroom. And that is what I try to draw on now. I have been where the students are and I have been through the same program. This allows me to truly connect with them.

    Justin Lareau

    NYFA: What’s your favorite class to teach and why?  

    JL: My favorite class to teach is Pitching. It is a skill/craft that all producers, writers, or directors need to develop. My mom would probably say that I like pitching because I am full of it, but selling an idea starts with the way you present it. We may have the next Oscar-winning idea, but if you can’t excite someone about it, it probably will never get made. 

    NYFA: Speaking of, what advice do you have for students who might be looking to produce and direct? 

    JL: I am a believer that if you want to do something, then go do it. But students should know that your drive and commitment has to be greater than you can imagine. You have to be able to grind through the times when things get tough. This is not an easy industry. But you need to be like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. So get your hands dirty and get to work!

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    April 12, 2019 • Faculty Highlights, Producing • Views: 941

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Ioanna Meli Stars in “Isabel”

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    Isabel, a short film starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ioanna Meli, is now available on Amazon Prime Video, allowing millions of the streaming service’s subscribers to check out the haunting drama. 

    Ioanna Meli
    Ioanna Meli

    Ioanna Meli originally hails from Greece, and studied for her Master of Fine Arts in Acting for Film from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, where she was trained and taught by a faculty of working professionals from Hollywood, Broadway, and the independent film industry.

    NYFA’s MFA in Acting for Film program is an intense commitment — students learn two years’ worth of education in only sixteen months, and are often rehearsing and studying on weekends, in evenings, and wherever they can find those extra minutes to devote to their craft. Meli was more than up for the task however, and her work in Isabel shows off her talent and the skills she picked up while at the Academy.

    Written and directed by Alex Knudsen based on a story by Charlotte Zang, Isabel tells the story of an elderly woman named Isabel Dove at the very end of her life. However, when she seemingly passes away, she wakes up hours later as her younger self. The mystery grows deeper from there as Isabel searches for answers and reflects on the life she thought she was leaving behind. The film stars Jamie Donnelly and Lauren Elyse Buckley as old and young Isabel, respectively; Meli co-stars as Meredith. 

    About her experience filming the short, Meli tells New York Film Academy, “Working with Alex on set was a fantastic, collaborative experience. The film’s dialogue was composed to express only what was necessary to move the story forward, creating a sense of mystery that’s powerful in this film.”

    Meli continued, “The scene we did with Lauren was challenging; our energies and objectives in the story are very different and in the scene, we meet under circumstances that both of our characters are uncertain about. Working through that together was an interesting process.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Ioanna Meli on her stellar work in Isabel, and encourages everyone who can to check it out on Amazon Prime Video

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    December 17, 2018 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1320