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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts Fulbright Foreign Student Welcome Dinner

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    The tradition of hosting a welcome dinner for the incoming cohort of New York Film Academy Foreign Fulbright Grantees continued at the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts in Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) last week.

    Fulbright Grantees with Dan Mackler, NYFA’s LA Campus Director, Amy Ellenberger, Miguel Cruz, NYFA´s Director of Fulbright Initiatives and Marcus Louis Fien

    Fulbright Grantees with Dan Mackler, NYFA’s LA Campus Director, Amy Ellenberger, Miguel Cruz, NYFA´s Director of Fulbright Initiatives and Marcus Louis Fien

    NYFA-LA Campus Director Dan Mackler, and NYFA Director of Fulbright Initiatives Miguel Cruz hosted the six Fulbright students who are on campus for the 2018/2019 Academic Year.  They include four grantees in the MFA Filmmaking Program, one grantee in MFA Documentary Filmmaking, and one grantee in the 1-Year Acting for Film Program. Represented countries are Spain (3), Paraguay, Peru, and Bahrain. NYFA is pleased to recognize a Fulbright finalist from Estonia as part of the group as well. 

    In recent years, NYFA has welcomed nearly 60 Fulbrighters to our campuses in Los Angeles and New York City. NYFA Fulbrighters have hailed from more than 30 countries. 

    Dr. José Siles, President of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Los Angeles, joined the celebration, as did Amy Ellenberger, NYFA Director of Recruitment, and NYFA Admissions Specialist Marcus Fien. Dr. Siles invited the Fulbrighters for a tour of NASA Space facilities where he is engaged in research.

    Fulbright grantee Maya Riquelme, with Amy Ellenberger, NYFA Director of Recruitment

    Fulbright grantee Maya Riquelme, with Amy Ellenberger, NYFA Director of Recruitment

    NYFA-LA Campus Director Dan Mackler enthusiastically stated, “For me, meeting the extraordinarily talented Fulbright students that come to study at NYFA-LA is one of the highlights of the start of every academic year.”

    Mackler continued, “In these global creators of visual and performing storytelling, I am provided hope for a future that will be both exciting and impactful. They connect us with a greater humanity.”

    The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government through the U.S. Department of State.  The Program operates in more than 140 countries and offers opportunities for students and young professionals, as well as for post-doctoral teachers and researchers to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching.  

    The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,900 are to U.S. students, 4,000 to foreign students, 1,200 to U.S. scholars, and 900 to visiting scholars. In addition, several hundred teachers and professionals receive awards.

    NYFA is proud to be the school of choice for so many inspired and creative minds and to participate in numerous Fulbright initiatives, including producing two TEDxFULBRIGHT events and conducting documentary filmmaking workshops at the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program Conferences. 

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  • “Unbroken” Sequel Screened For New York Film Academy (NYFA) Veterans

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    On August 13, 2018, the New York Film Academy’s Department of Veteran Services, was honored to host an advanced screening of the next chapter in the Louis Zamperini story, Unbroken: Path to Redemption. The film is the sequel to the 2014 film, Unbroken, directed by Academy Award Winner®, Angelina Jolie, and hits theaters later this year. Following the screening, producers Matthew Baer and Luke Zamperini, son of Louis Zamperini, treated the audience to a Q&A moderated by Navy veteran and New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting Alumnus, Ron Ringo.

    The event was part of the NYFA DVS series of events that includes guest speakers, film screenings, master classes, workshops, and employment trainings — all which promote industry engagement for NYFA’s veteran-students and the wider veteran communities in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami (South Beach).

    Unbroken Q&A

    Photo Caption: (left to right) Ron Ringo, Matthew Baer, and Luke Zamperini discuss their experience in creating Unbroken: Path to Redemption.

    Baer and Zamperini shared their experiences creating the film, as well as stories about Louis Zamperini himself. With having only 20 days to shoot the entire film, Baer addressed the challenges that he faced along with sharing a lot of valuable information for aspiring filmmakers. Zamperini shared stories of his father and explained how powerful it is seeing his father’s inspirational story depicted on the big screen for everyone to experience. Being on set and seeing his family members being portrayed by actors was incredibly surreal to him. 

    BFA Producing student and US Navy veteran Jonathan Garza commented, “Louis Zamperini’s inspirational and powerful story should be seen by everyone. He is a true American Hero.” He added, “I also enjoyed hearing from Matthew and his insight from years of producing. He mentioned that he still runs into the same problems producing studio films that he did when he was in film school, but on a larger scale.”

    Luke Zamperini is the President and CEO of the Louis Zamperini Youth Ministries Foundation.  Matthew Baer’s other producing credits include The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington, City by the Sea with Robert De Niro and James Franco, and the first chapter in the Louis Zamperini story, Unbroken — among many other successful films. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Matthew Baer and Luke Zamperini for their generosity and willingness to share their stories and to help students pursuing careers in the film industry.

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    August 21, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 699

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Student Pablo C. Vergara Works on Feature Film “Adverse”

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) student Pablo C. Vergara recently worked on the independent feature film Adverse, a drama/thriller written and directed by Brian A. Metcalf. The film is being produced by the actor and musician Thomas Ian Nicholas, who previously starred in Rookie of the Year and the American Pie films, and who stars in Adverse as well.

    Vergara hails from Mexico City and works as a cinematographer, actor, and filmmaker, among other roles. He enrolled at the New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking program in New York in Fall 2016, before moving to Hollywood to work on completing his MFA at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    Lou Diamond Phillips, Brian A. Metcalf, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Pablo C. Vergara

    Lou Diamond Phillips, Brian A. Metcalf, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Pablo C. Vergara

    In July, Vergara had the opportunity to work as a production assistant on the set of Adverse, a role into which the always hard-working and committed filmmaker threw himself with gusto. While on set, he got to work closely with Nicholas and Metcalf, as well as stars Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Stand and Deliver) and Penelope Ann Miller (Carlito’s Way, Kindergarten Cop). 

    Describing his experience, Vergara said, “I had the chance to watch Thomas and Lou work together on a scene and that was truly inspiring. We exchanged knowledge between takes about their craft and life in Los Angeles in general — Lou was a really cool guy and with an amazing personality, cracking jokes and talking to the rest of the crew regularly.” He continued, “The shoot went well and after wrap up, everyone’s spirits were high.”

    Pablo C. Vergara

    Pablo C. Vergara

    A friendly, energetic personality, Vergara also spoke with Nicholas about a possible on-camera role. He got to spend a lot of time with the producer and actor, driving alongside him to and from locations in a U-Haul full of film equipment for the independent shoot. They discussed film and music and their own careers, as well as Nicholas’s previous Q&A with the New York Film Academy. In 2017, Nicholas and Metcalf screened their previous film The Lost Treestarring Michael Madsen, Lacey Chabert, and Scott Grimes — for NYFA students, which preceded their guest panel.

    Adverse’s locations included 4 Hearts Studios in Sylmar, CA, and a private home used for an entire day’s worth of shooting. Vergara got to see the newest RED 8K camera in action up close and personal. “Being a cinematographer myself, I was excited to see this fine piece of equipment operate, and the visuals it captured were fantastic!” he exclaimed. 

    Vergara added, “No doubt this film is going to turn out to be incredible and I was very fortunate to be able to be part of it for a few days. The entire team was very embracing and cordial, and it forged great friendships.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Pablo C. Vergara on his exciting experience, and looks forward to seeing him return to NYFA next Spring to complete his MFA thesis! 

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    August 14, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 712

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Writes Feature Film Un Regalo Esencial

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Elizabeth Soto-Lara can now add a feature film to her list of screenwriting credits after finishing production on the film Un Regalo Esencial (An Essential Gift). Not only is she the film’s screenwriter, but Soto-Lara also served on set as the First Assistant Director.

    Un Regalo Esencial was filmed in more than 30 locations in Costa Rica over the course of about ninety days. It was co-written and directed by Jose Mario Salas Boza. Both Boza and Soto-Lara graduated from the New York Film Academy’s Fall ’16 MA Film & Media program. 

    The film tells the story of a grandfather who relives the memories of his first romantic relationship to share life lessons with his grandchild about the consequences of jealousy and insecurity. It merges genres of romance, drama, comedy, and musical, and looks to make its audience ride a rollercoaster of emotions. Its setting ranges from the 1980s to the near future, all in a running time of about 90 minutes. 

    Un Regalo Esencial stars notable Costa Rican actors Viviana Calderon and Pablo Rodriguez, as well as featuring Mauricio Hoffman and Norval Calvo in supporting roles. It is currently in post-production and will be released in October 2018.

    Soto-Lara is a Mexican filmmaker who has been writing for television and film for more than four years. She has written and directed more than 10 short films within both Mexico and the US. Soto-Lara won the award for Best Short Film at the Mexico International Film Festival for her film Restored, which was originally her NYFA thesis film. Restored is also an Official Selection at the 2019 Los Angeles CineFest.

    Of her work on Un Regalo Esencial, Soto-Lara remarked, “It was an unforgettable experience to be able to be on set and see how the words I put on paper came to life. I feel very lucky and thankful to have had this opportunity to share a beautiful story, make friends from around the globe, and learn in the process.”

    She continued, “This experience will remain as an indelible mark in me for the rest of my life.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Elizabeth Soto-Lara’s on her well-earned success and encourages her and the rest of our students to continue writing and keep sharing their stories.

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    August 8, 2018 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1935

  • iTunes, Amazon & Sydney Screen Far From Here by New York Film Academy Grad James Pillion

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    Making your first feature film is a challenge. Making your first feature film in a foreign country is an even bigger challenge. Yet rising Aussie director and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking MFA graduate James Pillion did just that with his feature debut, Far From Here. Shot on location in Bucharest, Romania, the film screened this Feb. 5 in Sydney shortly before its digital release on iTunes and Amazon.

    Pillion’s successful debut is even more impressive when you hear the backstory. Overcoming many obstacles, including losing his visa and being refused entry to the U.S., Pillion and his writing partner/leading man Jonathan Ahmadi were able to convert a formidable crisis into a poignant work of art. The result is a lush coming-of-age story that follows a young couple navigating pressures that may sound familiar for many NYFA students — holding onto love, living in a foreign country, sacrifice, following a dream, and facing the tough decisions that define your life.

    “The more you surrender your ego and open your eyes and ears to everything around you, the stronger your chances are of ending up with a film greater than the sum of its parts,” the director wrote in Australia’s FilmLink.

    Pillion took some time during the busy week leading up to his film’s Sydney premier and digital distribution to share an exclusive peek into his process with the NYFA Blog:

    FAR FROM HERE TRAILER from Jim Pillion on Vimeo.

    NYFA: What program did you take at NYFA and when did you finish?

    JP: I graduated with honours from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus in 2013 after completing the two-year accelerated Masters in Filmmaking (MFA).

    NYFA: What inspired you to make Far From Here?

    JP: Far From Here follows a young couple, Grant and Sofia, struggling to keep their marriage afloat in a foreign country. When a family crisis pulls them apart, the physical and emotional distance forces the couple to take a hard honest look at their choices and to confront a decision that could alter their future forever.

    The script was conceived in the wake of a life-changing event. I’d lost my visa to the U.S. and had been forced apart from the love of my life in the process. The script was an attempt to examine my newfound circumstances and was written in a very fast four month window over Skype with my writing partner, Jonathan Ahmadi. Jonathan would also go on to play the lead role in the film.

    NYFA: What are your future plans for Far From Here and beyond?

    JP: Far From Here was shot on location in Bucharest and received a very generous distribution deal, with the film screening in 40 cinemas across Romania — an amazing feat for a $100,000 budget!

    To celebrate the Valentine’s Day release of the film on iTunes and Amazon this year, we’re holding the Australian premiere at the Ritz Cinema in Sydney this Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. 

    I’m also in pre-production on my new feature Fire Island — a psychological drama — which is due to shoot in Australia towards the end of this year.

    NYFA: What if anything have you learned from your NYFA experience that has helped you with your professional career?

    JP: My time at NYFA was invaluable. It taught me the value of failure and gave me the opportunity to explore and experiment in a way that I’d never had the confidence to do. Embracing failure is such an important part of my creative mantra — it helps me to continually sharpen my voice as a storyteller.  

    Congratulations to James Pillion and the Far From Here team! Check out more of the behind-the-scenes story of Far From Here in Pillion’s four-part series on FilmLink.

    Far From Here
    is available from the following sources:
    iTunes Australia
    iTunes USA
    Amazon USA

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  • Director & New York Film Academy Grad Aymen Khoja’s Feature Debut is First American-Saudi Film Collaboration

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    The Arabian Warrior is not only the very first American-Saudi film production, but has also celebrated its premiere in Saudi Arabia at a historic moment, just as the Kingdom celebrates the opening of its movie theaters for the fist time in 35 years. The film follows Anmar, a young Saudi man who dreams of becoming a professional football player. It’s a deeply human story about navigating the tension between following one’s dreams, honoring one’s family and traditions, and finding one’s own way in a complicated world.

    After an incredibly successful red carpet premiere covered by major news networks in Dubai, the film is screening across the Middle East with Grand Entertainment — and soon the world, with a distribution deal with MultiVisionnaire Pictures, and an upcoming digital release on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.

    In the midst of his busy opening month, director and New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Aymen Khoja found the time to sit down with the NYFA Blog via email to talk about the film, the Dubai screening, and what’s next.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    AK: Passion and ambition. My active soul pulled my body from all the challenges I faced to the city of angels to study what I’ve dreamed of: becoming a filmmaker!

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most?

    AK: Filmmaking is the best way to get into people hearts! People would listen when they see things through films more than if you talk to them face to face. Plus, I love inspiring people with what I believe is right. Also, I love putting a smile on people’s faces!  

    NYFA: Can you tell us what brought The Arabian Warrior project to life? How did the film come about for you?

    AK: Young people always fight to achieve their goals against their parents, society, or any challenges could stand in front of them. I wanted to explain the pressure young people face when it comes to making their choices about what they want to be in the future.

    NYFA: The Arabian Warrior tells a story that highlights some tensions between a young man with a dream to pursue a non-traditional career, and his parents’ concerns for his future. What resonated with you about this story?

    AK: I’ve seen this situation around me with friends, family. To me the most important question is, how can the son reach his goals but at the same time respect his parents?  

     

    The Arabian Warrior poster via IMDB

    NYFA: Congratulations on screening The Arabian Warrior in Dubai! How did this event come about? Can you tell us a bit about the process of organizing the screening and how it feels leading up to the screening?

    AK: Thank you! It feels wonderful.

    I’d love to thank Dubai for welcoming my first of all time film premier! It was a super exciting process from very the beginning, when we signed Grand Entertainment to distribute our film in the Arab region.

    Big thanks to Isaac, who really worked everything out! It just can’t get better!

    Our film played in 48 theaters all over the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Fantastic success. I thank God, and everyone who helped me with this achievement.   

    NYFA: Did anything surprise you during filming, or where there any hurdles you overcame? Any words of wisdom for our students from your production experience?

    AK: A lot of surprises and many challenges, from losing locations, working with actors, staying within the budget, getting creative shots to save the day, etc.

    Advice I can give: be collaborative. Listen. Build a fantastic positive team. Move on. Don’t get stuck with one challenge; fix it and move on.

    Director Aymen Khoja via IMDB

    NYFA: What’s next for The Arabian Warrior?

    AK: It will be released on digital platforms in the U.S. and Canada: Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. We’ve signed with an international distributor worldwide, MultiVisionnaire. The film already has been released on TV, in some part of Asia and Africa.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    AK: I’m developing three projects at the same time. I prefer not to speak about them now, but all what I can say is, they will see light soon inshallah!  

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you are doing now?

    AK: NYFA is one of the main reasons for me to be at this place. I can’t thank NYFA enough. Instructors, environment, departments, classmates, everyone were super helpful. They gave me all the knowledge I needed for this wonderful journey in creating my first feature  film! I’m still in touch with all my instructors, we became like a family! Thank you, family of NYFA, from my heart.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Aymen for his interview, and congratulate him and Mohammad on the great success of The Arabian Warrior

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  • NYFA Los Angeles Celebrates it’s Fall 2017 Graduates

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    On Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, the New York Film Academy congratulated another graduating class as they crossed into the next stage of their professional careers. Three ceremonies were held throughout the day to accommodate the more than two hundred students who have now completed their education at NYFA.

    Many students spent the previous day at Warner Brother’s Studios screening their final films on the backlot. The occasion is always an emotional one. Warner Brothers is a Hollywood institution that has been home to some of the greatest names and films in the entertainment industry.

    Families were able to gather for photos before the ceremony began. A NYFA backdrop had everyone looking red carpet ready. When it was time for parents to take their seats, students formed neat rows as they filed into the building.

    This year’s commencement speakers ranged from a Hollywood star, a casting director who worked closely with Stephen Spielberg, and a producer/writer for several of the greatest television shows ever made. Each speaker had a copious amount of advice to give to the graduates. A common theme to all the speeches was that the students should learn from the speaker’s own mistakes so they could do even better in their own careers.

    New York Film Academy | Acting School Graduation

    The first speaker to grace the stage was Valorie Massalas, casting director extraordinaire. Her credits include “Indiana Jones,” “Chaplin,” “Total Recall,” “Alive,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Back to the Future II” and III. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on “Annie.” She is a new inductee into the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    Massalas spoke directly to the actors about how the industry has changed since she began her career. The most disturbing change to Massalas is the rise of the social media actor. These are Hollywood hopefuls who have never taken an acting class but have 20 thousand or more followers, and they are being cast in major motion pictures because the heads of studios believe they can put audience members into seats.

    “I’m sharing that with you because it’s disturbing to me that you spend all your time training like you’ve done, with these beautiful people, honing your craft, but if you don’t have social media numbers you could lose a job to somebody who does,” Massalas said. “It’s important for you to be aware of that because it’s just part of our world today. It’s not going to go away, In fact, it’s going to get worse.”

    It wasn’t all bad news. Certainly, some of the changes would be favorable for the next generation chosen to run Hollywood. Social media is also giving other creatives access to the tight-knit entertainment community. “When I was first starting out you didn’t have the kind of access that you have today with social media,” Massalas said.

    “The most important thing you must always remember is that you are the president of your own company. You have to be prepared to run your business like the president of a company. If you’re not doing that, you’re failing your career because nobody is going to run your business better than you.” Massalas warned students.

    New York Film Academy | Film School Graduation

    The second commencement speaker to take the stage was actor Joshua Helman. Helman’s credits include some of the biggest action films of the last ten years including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Jack Reacher.” He’s also been prolific in television starring in HBO’s “The Pacific,” the mini-series “Flesh and Bone,” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Wayward Pines.”

    Throughout Helman’s hilarious speech, he blended solid life advice with anecdotes from his time getting started in the industry. He began with a bit of advice he had learned from a teacher. “When I was in acting school, a singing teacher told me that the most valuable things an entertainer has to offer the audience are vulnerability and generosity. And not only have I never forgotten that, but I found it to be true.” He concluded this thought saying, “Come back to vulnerability and generosity. It will never be wrong. Find the stuff that challenges you, the truth that scares you, and offer it up to the world with joy.”

    Helman also wanted to prepare students for the reality of how long it can take to start a career. “You have to prove yourself and that can suck. It means working a day job, it means losing sleep, and it means facing long stretches of seemingly infinite time when you feel like you are going nowhere. That is par for the course. Each of you, if you’re not an insane person, is going to want to give up at some point…”

    But, Helman amended, there’s a way to survive the hard years. “You can make peace with it if you never forget that you are doing it in order to do the job that you love and that (entertainment) is your real job.”

    New York Film Academy | Producing School Graduation

    The final speaker of the night was Cherie Steinkellner. She is perhaps best known for producing the multi-award winning television show, “Cheers.” She also wrote for such groundbreaking shows as “The Jeffersons” and “Who’s the Boss?” Finally, she wrote for and produced the Disney animated series and feature film, “Teacher’s Pet” starring Nathan Lane.

    Steinkellner takes issue with the adage, “Those who can’t-do, teach.” “I don’t believe that to be true,” she said. “I think those who can’t-do, learn. Which is to say, if you find yourself to be an irresistible force up against an immovable object, if you find that you can’t achieve something, instead of fighting the same darn thing, consider that the point isn’t to step over that obstacle. Maybe the point of the lesson is: What can I learn from this?”

    With that thought in mind, Steinkellner also wanted to make sure students didn’t think that graduating meant their best days were behind them. She closed out her speech stating,

    “When I was in school, in the seventies, people would say to me these are the best years of your life. I hated that. School is short and life is long. You will never forget the years that you have spent here at the New York Film Academy. I haven’t forgotten the years that I spent in college. Please, trust this elder. The good stuff is all ahead of you. Let’s see what you make. Let’s see what you do. Let’s see your ‘weird.’ Congratulations on your graduation and welcome my friends to the best years of your life.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Joshua Helman, Valorie Massalas, and Cherie Steinkellner for taking the time to speak with our students. We’d also like to congratulate all of our incredible students on their graduation. We hope to see you back here soon, telling the next generation your success story.

    MFA in Acting:

    Vicente Almuna Morales

    Ainur Rauilyevna

    Alejandra Gonzalez

    Vincson Green II

    Haoran Li

    Elizabeth Otaola Cortina

    Nanli Wang

    Chaoyue Zhao

     

    BFA in Acting:

    Melissa Abugattas Lozada

    Reya Al-Jaroudy

    Ratnavali Anderson

    Ira Calilung

    Whitney Cheng

    Abbilyn Chuha

    Jennifer Anne Cipolla

    Briana Davis

    Joseph Ekstrom

    Michael Furlough

    Emmanouil Giamas

    Maria Manuela Gomez

    Anes Hasi

    Christian Elijah Leighty

    Nina Madzirov

    Phillip McNair

    Bethany Rhiannon Daisy Milner

    Rebecca Momo

    Alessio Mongardi

    Analisa Moreno

    Vanessa Rene Nuevo

    Chunxiao Ouyang

    Trinity Page

    Fernando Peralta

    Zachary Thomas Perry

    Raven Ramos

    Maurice Roberson II

    Simran Sangian

    Billy Xiong

    Ming Jie Yang

     

    AFA in Acting:

    Tia Blackwill

    Corinna Camero

    Melissa Celikovic

    Jassen Charron

    Gregory James Drake

    Kurt Alexander Eberle

    Andre Forrest

    Aaliyah Jones

    Wadley Sterlin

    Travis Nevin Tendler

    Robert Tevlin

    Danielle Torck

     

    MFA in Producing:

    Mazen Aleqbali

     

    BFA in Producing:

    Ruddy Cano Hernandez

    Nyshon Ferrell

    Carlos Gonzalez

    Chor Kei Hui

    Brandon William McCarthy

    Thandiwe Mlauli

    Gilma Edith Montecer Lore

    Sagar Patel

    Angel J. Pitre

    Sim Sagiroglu

    Peijun Zou

     

    AFA in Producing:

    Mengying Sun

     

    MFA in Photography:

    Amal Alahdal

    Dania Saud Altalhi

    Pamela Garcia-Aguirre

     

    BFA in Photography:

    Rushank Anil Agrawal

    Brenda Cantu

    Tanya Gawdi

    Kingi Kingibe

    Ziomara Ramirez

    Wen Tao Tu

     

    MFA in Documentary:

    Sultan Sulaiman Aljurays

    Camilla Elisabeth Borel Rinkes

    Amira Hamour

    Ashley Danielle Harris

    Yuan Li

    Kristin Lydsdottir

    Huda Abdulsalam Moraidikha

    Maria Carolina Sosa Andres

    Guangli Zhu

     

    MFA in Cinematography:

    Jhonny Fabian Garcia Sarmiento

    Rafael O. Rivera

    Maria Sevilla

    Manuel Velasquez Isaza

     

    MFA in Film:

    Joud AlAmri

    Gerald Albitre

    Mahfouz Maeid M. Alzahrani

    Almaz Amandossov

    Dias Azimzhanov

    Yang Bai

    Alma Baimuratova

    Rushikesh Bhadane

    Beatriz Cabrera Figuerez

    Xiaoyue Cao

    Yue Chen

    Moataz Ezzat Elsayed Gamal Elbahaey

    Boise Badilla Esquerra

    Efrain Santiago Fierro

    Anuja Ganpule-Sheorey

    Zesheng Gao

    Mariia Gerasymiuk

    Di Hang

    Amber A. Harris

    Jacob Houghton

    Oboatarhe Ikuku

    Runjie Ji

    Annu Kapil

    Gabriela Ledesma

    Jian Li

    Yitong Li

    Yixin Liang

    Gengru Liu

    Zichen Liu

    Michael Louka

    Kendra McDonald

    Rachel Gebrael Meguerdijian

    Maria Mitkovskaya

    Sonakshi Mittal

    Aditya Rajendra Mohite

    Amanda Molefe

    Rima Mori

    Dina Najialdaies

    Vibhav Vinayak Nayak

    Kevin Nwankwor

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Hiroki Ohsawa

    Derek Parker

    Ana Camila Parra Bernal

    Yuntong Peng

    Rene Rodriguez

    Francia Romero

    Guoqiang Sheng

    Yu Sheng

    Savannah Sivert

    Jourdain Antoine Smith

    Julien Supplice

    Mohitha Vankima

    Shashank Narendra Varma

    Chenyi Wang

    Tixiao Wang

    Zheng Wang

    Erxuan Wu

    Yuzuan Wu

    Lijun Yang

    Meng Yu

    Xiankai Zhang

    Xiaoxiao Zhang

    Xiwen Zhang

    Rui Zhu

    Xuerong Zhu

     

    AFA in Film:

    James Bonfiglio

    Peter Farquhar

    Casey Swing

    Zhen Wang

     

    MFA in Screenwriting:

    Jean-Baptiste Hakim

    Keaton Kaplan

    Kobus Louw

    Aida Marie-Louise Noujaim

     

    MA in Screenwriting:

    Kwang Jin Chai

    Rosa Falu-Carrion

    Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

    Roberto Tapia

     

    BFA in Screenwriting:

    Nick Davis

    Nawaf al Hoshani

    Felix Martinez Autin

     

    MFA in Game Design:

    May Alotaibi

     

    BFA in Game Design:

    Cody Fowler

    Min Han

    Alecksandar Jackowicz

    Mario Monaco

     

    MA in Film:

    Mina Abrahim

    Vedang Bhatt

    Dhriti Borah

    Julian Andres Bueno Sanchez

    Maurice Cassidy

    Jaya Prasad Chitturi

    Xingyue Dai

    Abdallah ElDaly

    Jiawei Gao

    Giunel Ismaiylova

    Abebowale Johnson

    Melissa Johnson

    Vicken Joulfayan

    Chenyang Li

    Mengke Li

    Xi Lin

    Yilin Liu

    Haixiao Lu

    Hin Lam Allan Ng

    Yu Qiu

    Srikanth Navarathna Raju

    Jose Mario Salas Boza

    Kongpob Sangsanga

    Elizabeth Soto-Lara

    Sukrut Shirish Teni

    Jianyu Wang

    Yu Wang

    Jiaxing Wu

    Sipei Wu

    Xueqing Wu

    Siqi Xiao

    Qingjing Yan

    Zain Zaman

    Chen Zhang

    Yiyun Zhang

    Yang Zhou

     

    BFAin Film:

    Ryan Adams

    Sara Ait Benabdallah

    Fawaz Saleh Al-Batati

    Basil Alamri

    Abdullah Saleh Alawaji

    Hani Alqattan

    Ayman Ahmed Alzahrani

    Jascha Bellaiche

    Rolf Niklas Martin Berggren

    Ambre-India Bourdon

    Tammy Cook

    Jose Guilherme Correia Jr.

    Antonio Gassan Darwiche

    Rumena Dinevska

    Gabriel Erwin

    Cirenia Raquel Escobedo Esquivel

    Jiaqing Ge

    Daniel Ivan Gonzalez Ramirez

    Oliver Granö

    Kartikye Gupta

    Akira Hayakawa

    Anton Hermawan

    Nuria Stella Hernandez

    Dongyan Jiang

    Yudi Jiang

    Autumn Joiner

    Joanna Krawczyk

    Henrique Kraychete Freire

    Gabriel Legua

    Xuejiao Liu

    Zhuangzi Liu

    Ana Catalina Loret de Mola

    Mario Mazzarella

    Eric Milzarski

    Nikola Nikolovski

    Varunn Pandya

    Konstantinos Pateronis

    Vladislav Petrov

    Celeste Pillay

    Katherine Pinkston

    Albert Theodore Pranoto

    Anastasia Reinhard

    Alejandro Rojas Melo

    Brooke Schulte

    Richard Selvi

    Denis Semikin

    Muhamad Ashram Shahrivar

    Shiyi Shao

    Jiajin Song

    Michael Tharp

    Hary Johann Tuukkanen Itriago

    Santos Verdia-Cross

    Tiange Wei

    Assem Yedgey

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  • A Conversation with Bolashak Scholarship Recipient, NYFA Alumnus Dias Azimzhan

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    New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) MFA Alumnus Dias Azimzhan was always interested in storytelling, starting out as a blogger before deciding to pursue filmmaking. Azimzhan’s transition to a new profession wasn’t seamless and he had to spend some time working for an international airline company before attending NYFA.

    Eventually, with help of the Kazakh Bolashak Scholarship program, Azimzhan was provided the opportunity to attend NYFA, and recently graduated completing the education he dreamed about. His first film, “Moments of Enlightenment,” screened at numerous festivals, taking home awards from the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival.

    NYFA sat down with Azimzhan to find out more details of his journey.

    Dias Azimzhan | Kazakh Bolashak Scholarship

    NYFA: Based on your experience, what do you recommend to those who are just planning to apply for the Bolashak scholarship program?

    DA: At the beginning of the process, you may be scared and demotivated by the list of documents that you need to collect, but this procedure is also similar in other countries (including the U.S.) when applying for certain grants, so I advise you to be patient.

    Look at this process as the first step of the journey to your dream. Further, during following stages, be self-disciplined and organized as possible. Plan and rationally use your time for preparing other documents and visas. It is important do not be late for the beginning of the academic year. Start dates can vary depending on the school and country.

    NYFA: What was most difficult during the Bolashak application process?

    DA: During the examinations, I often heard from the candidates for the scholarship that the third stage is the most difficult, that is, the last stage of the selection. In this round, the candidate surrounded by members of the selection committee (usually composed of the President of the Center of International Programs, doctors of science, professors and public figures) answers various questions. Those questions can be absolutely unpredictable — they can ask you about the constitution of the country, continuing with questions in poetry, mathematics, history, psychology, foreign languages, etc.

    However, personally, for me, the most difficult stage was the second one, where the candidates who passed the first round have to take an IQ and psychological test. Additionally to logic tasks, it includes various mathematical and geometric questions. About 500 questions in total.

    It’s also important to mention that each Bolashak scholarship candidate has to know Kazakh language on a very high level. Everyone will have to pass KAZTEST in the first round (analog to TOEFL and IELTS), and based on results you will either go to a second round or not.

    Dias Azimzhan graduates form NYFA

    NYFA Why did you choose the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts?

    DA: It all started in 2011 when I decided to write a script. At that time I had a blog (where I was writing my thoughts and observations) and I thought that it would not be difficult for me to write a story for the movie. I installed “Finaldraft” (screenwriting software) and started. But on the first paragraph, it became clear that I did not have enough knowledge in this area. I did not know how to structure and tell the story for the screen using pen and paper. The art of screenwriting has its own nuances (for example, you can not write the characters’ thoughts as in novels, as the viewer simply does not see it). I began to look for materials and educational institutions to fill the gap.

    I primarily considered the New York Film Academy because of the intensive program, with an emphasis on practice. Also, NYFA instructors are working in the film and television industry, which is important in terms of gaining new knowledge from them.

    Unfortunately, at that time I did not know about Bolashak, and did not have the necessary financial funds to apply. I had to postpone my dream. And, as it turned out, everything does happen for reason: While creating a financial basis for the future, I was working in the international airline company. I saw the world and got acquainted with the culture of many countries, which helped to significantly improve and broaden my horizons and critical thinking. Those qualities are very important for the director and filmmakers in general.

    Eventually, already with little life experience and certain skills, I decided to return to the realization of my dream and plunge into the creative process, which imbued the walls of NYFA.

    Dias Azimzhan | Kazakh Bolashak Scholarship

    NYFA: What is your impression of your NYFA program? Do you have a favorite subject or instructor?

    DA: I was enrolled in NYFA’s MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Filmmaking, where the main emphasis is on directing, screenwriting and cinematography. You also learn producing, acting and other components of film art in general. Since this is a degree program, in the first year of study we simply do not have time for anything else besides school. The world of cinema becomes a part of your life (if not all life), whether you like it or not.

    I would like to highlight screenwriting instructor, Lee Gordon. In his class, I gained knowledge on structuring story and the ability to apply this knowledge directly to the shooting process. Also, a thank you goes out to directing instructors Steve Morris and Michael Sandoval, for teaching me working with actors and listening and feeling every member of the crew. All these years, Carl Bartels taught us the art of cinematography. In his classes, we learned different cameras, lenses, compositions and how to feel the visual components of the frame. I also want to highlight Mark Horowitz, who shared his huge experience in the film business and content promotion.

    NYFA: Your short social drama “Moments of Enlightenment” has won many awards at various film festivals. Tell us how the idea for this film was born?

    DA: In 2008, one of my friends lost her job. It was during the global financial crisis. By the way, I also lost my job then. I think almost everyone remembers this difficult period for many in the world. On one cloudy autumn day, I met her at the cafe, and she told me about her difficult situation, including problems in the family. I was helping her as much as I can. Part of her story remained in my head forever.

    And when I had an opportunity to tell the world a small story, I decided to share that period of my acquaintance’s life (with her permission), through the prism of two immigrants living in the U.S.

    Dias Azimzhan | Kazakh Bolashak Scholarship

    NYFA: Recently, you starred in Alisher Suleimen’s “Cloud on the Roof.” Did you use behind-the-scenes experience and knowledge in acting?

    DA: I think behind-the-scenes experience gives a huge advantage to the actor, not only in knowing the geography of the scene and the shooting process but also in understanding the story itself since not every actor can think like a director. But neither does every director think like an actor in terms of becoming a new character; finding and making new skills, habits, weaknesses and strengths his own.

    I had the opportunity to synchronize my knowledge in both, because I already had acting experience in small projects, as well as experience in studying the art of improvisation at NYFA along with the courses I had taken in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

    NYFA: What did you learn from acting as a director?

    DA: Nowadays, due to lack of time and the fast pace of pre-production, not every director, unfortunately, has the opportunity for deep and detailed exploration of characters, giving preference to breaking down the story itself — which is also very important. Actors can fill that gap and breathe life into the characters, but they need to do it together with the director and screenwriter; otherwise, free interpretation can have a negative impact on the story and even ruin the project.

    Dias Azimzhan | Kazakh Bolashak Scholarship

    NYFA: What projects are you currently working on?

    DA: Now is the editing process of the recently shot short “Interius: The War Within.” I think we will finish the post-production of the film by fall.

    Also, we shot three music videos with Kazakh singers. One of them has already been aired on the national music channel. All of them were shot in Los Angeles, and I was responsible for the script and directing of storyline.

    In parallel with the editing, I am writing a script for a feature film under the working title “Pure Society.” I write in English, but depending on where it will be shot script can be translated and adapted.

    WATCH “Ulitio” Official Trailer :

    NYFA: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

    DA: I see myself the founder of production studios and a film school. Perhaps, the director-inspirer of the younger generation, who still has to keep building our society together with you, a society of people with an unconventional thinking and a fair approach to life.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Dias Azimzhan for sharing with us his story. We believe that his experience is truly inspiring and would like to wish him all the best with his filmmaking career.

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  • MFA Student Composes Musical Score for Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea”

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    On May 4th, students at the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy enjoyed a screening and Q&A of the Ron Howard film In the Heart of the Sea. On hand to discuss the film was the composer of its musical score and current NYFA Filmmaking MFA student, Roque Baños.

    Originally from Spain, Roque is an acclaimed film composer whose credits include The Machinist, Sexy Beast, the 2013 remake of Evil Dead, Spike Lee’s Oldboy, and many award-winning films from Spain, including the 2004 hit El Crimen Ferpecto.

    Roque Baños

    Roque Baños

    Roque was trained as a jazz saxophonist and classical composer, and he brings an eclectic blend of styles to his film scores, making him a much sought after composer for filmmakers of all genres.

    In addition to mastering many musical genres, Roque doesn’t rely solely on traditional instruments for his scores. For In the Heart of the Sea, Roque created samples for his score by bringing the actual whaling ship from the film into the famed Abbey Road Studios in London and playing it like a percussion instrument.

    This willingness to work beyond the typical is what makes Roque’s scores so appealing and memorable. When the moderator, NYFA’s Dean of the College Sonny Calderon, asked Roque about his approach, Roque replied, “Music is all experimentation. You never know what could make your movie more powerful. The best thing to do is collaborate with someone, and experiment. Fifty percent of the movie is sound. You might have a good movie, but if you have the wrong music, your movie will be bad.”

    When Sonny asked how Roque was hired for the film, he explained that legendary composer Hans Zimmer (Batman v Superman, Interstellar, Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean) recommended him for the job. After meeting with Ron Howard, Roque was hired. This story illustrated the importance of having a network of collaborators who support you and your work.

    When a student asked what kind of language a director should use when working with a composer, Roque responded, “You have to say what you expect from the music, just as you do with any actor; it’s the same emotions.”

    Dean of the College, Sonny Calderon with Roque Baños

    NYFA’s Dean of the College Sonny Calderon with Roque Baños

    Finally, Roque explained that he wanted to earn an MFA in Filmmaking from New York Film Academy in order to better understand the entire filmmaking process. In this way, he said, his musical contributions to film can be even more effective.

    Roque’s latest work can be seen in the biblical epic Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) and directed by Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld, The Count of Monte Cristo, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).

    We thank Roque for sharing his wisdom with our students, and wish him continued great success.

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  • MFA Grad’s ‘Breakfast in Beirut’ to Screen at Festivals Worldwide

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    beirut

    Coming off the success of her award-winning short film, 7 Hours, which screened at over 30 film festivals across the world, New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking graduate Farah Fuad ALHashem has a new film currently making the rounds at festivals around the world.

    The documentary film, Breakfast in Beirut, recently screened at the Lebanese Film Festival in Sydney, Australia and is currently circulating around the Arab world with screenings coming up at the Alexandria International Film Festival for Mediterranean Countries 2015 (September 2nd-8th, 2015 in Egypt). In November, it will screen at the Cairo International Film Festival as well as screenings in Paris, Venice, Beirut and Dubai.

    The documentary film’s experimental direction examines Beirut as a chaotic city and its inhabitants’ relationship with it. But underneath this chaos, the heart of Beirut is waiting to be discovered.

    After writing 17 different versions of the script, with script supervisor Rachel Vine in Universal Studios, Hollywood, writer and filmmaker Farah ALHashem kept changing the storyline until her arrival in Beirut, where she ended up shooting a completely different version of the script.

    For more information about the film, you can visit the Facebook Page. Also, have a look at the trailer below!

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    August 24, 2015 • Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4651