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  • NYFA Alum Boise Esquerra’s “Blackwater” Screens at 2021 Slamdance Film Festival

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    Known both as a festival “by filmmakers, for filmmakers” and for its Oscar-qualifying short film awards, the Slamdance Film Festival has long been a mecca for emerging independent directors. This year NYFA alum Boise Esquerra, a graduate of the Los Angeles campus’s MFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting programs, will be right in the middle of the action when his episodic film Blackwater screens in the virtual festival February 12 – 25, 2021. 

    In the days leading up to the festival Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, caught up with Boise to talk about the personal experience that inspired his series and the importance of filmmakers from diverse backgrounds telling their own stories.

    NYFA alum Boise Esquerra

    Cricket Rumley (CR): Hi, Boise! Congratulations on getting into Slamdance! Tell us a little about yourself.

    Boise Esquerra (BE): I’d be happy to. I am a Native (Hopi) and Mexican American filmmaker enrolled in the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker, AZ. I am a recent graduate of the New York Film Academy (MFA Screenwriting) and hold a BA in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production and an additional MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA. I love storytelling, creating, and everything that entails filmmaking from start to finish. Currently, I reside here in lovely Burbank, CA, and am represented by Sandra Avila at Inclusion Management.

    CR: Tell us about your film. What is it about and where does it take place?   

    BE: Blackwater is an episodic pilot about Native American country music star Birdie Blackwater whose career is fizzling due to excessive drinking that began 10 years ago. Upon moving back to her home reservation, barely clinging onto what little dignity she has left, Birdie is arrested for a barrage of drunken charges and lashing out at tribal police officers during a late-night performance. The next day, tribal courts order Birdie to complete 180 days of wellness therapy and intense probation or face two years in prison. Birdie now finds herself contending each week with a group of offbeat individuals who each possess their own…“unique” mental limitations. The story takes place on a fictional Native American reservation call Red Rock. 

    CR: Sounds very powerful. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this story? 

    BE: The inspiration for Blackwater came about in September of 2018… a tough experience. I had started a new class (Transmedia) at the New York Film Academy in Burbank, CA. The ultimate goal of the class: develop, write, and shoot a web series pilot. During the first half of the six-month course, I was given the news that my older brother Brandon had developed cirrhosis of the liver to such a serious extent that he would need a liver transplant. My brother had gotten this condition from depression and extreme alcoholism after the death of our mother in 2015. The additional news I would receive from him is that he would be opting for hospice care and wanted to just go peacefully with family for the remainder of his time. That news, to say the least, was devastating. 

    Shortly after his funeral, I returned to my Transmedia class. The project I had been working on up to that point was scrapped. I wanted to write something I was familiar with. I had felt my brother in my heart moving me to lean into all that I had experienced with drug addiction and dependency. I also wanted to heal from losing him to alcoholism. Thus, I put forward a new proposal to my instructors, which was Blackwater

    CR: Boise, I’m so sorry for your loss and the pain your family must have experienced. It’s truly inspiring how you were able to transform your personal tragedy into a meaningful story, and so quickly. 

    What was it like to direct the film?

    BE: My favorite experience directing Blackwater was working with such a phenomenal cast and crew who brought their A-game to each and every scene both on and off-screen. I mean, this was a set from heaven, and pulling off a thirteen-page script in just one day with minimal time, a skeleton crew, and several different scenes went by like clockwork. Heck, we even had an hour to spare after the whole thing was over! Directing that day was one of the best experiences I ever had on set.

    Kyla Garcia as Birdie Blackwater (“Blackwater”)

    CR: You directed a thirteen-page script in one day? Wow! Dare I ask what was the most challenging thing about making the film? 

    BE: It’s crazy because you usually are anticipating challenges that may or may not arise on the day of production, and they did of course, but they were minor and quickly remedied. No. The challenges here were definitely in the final days leading up to production. You would think that getting a simple location (an empty room) for the group scene would be easy-peasy in LA, but when you’re working with a shoestring budget, a simple task all of a sudden becomes a near impossibility. And that was the case up until the last week of location scouting. We finally locked our location, which was an old American Legion post here in Burbank. It was great because they had everything we needed for each scene! 

    The other difficult part was not in pre-production or production, but actually editing. Here I am, dealing with footage of numerous great takes from each actor/actress and reviewing them over and over. Now, you have to realize, that when you’re dealing with high caliber talent as we had, each throwing you grade-A performances with each take, it is extremely hard to pick the right one! This was mainly the case with our main character, Birdie Blackwater, portrayed by Kyla Garcia. What she brought was gold, I tell ya…GOLD. So for her, sorting through the stuff she gave us and settling on certain clips was by itself a two-month process. Keep an eye on Kyla, SHE IS AMAZING!

    CR: It’s true – Kyla is downright riveting to watch. Besides the editing, what did you learn while making this film?  

    BE: To say I didn’t learn much would be a “shooting myself in the foot” moment and never being able to walk right again, hahaha. I learned a hell of a lot. But I’ll narrow it down to one thing above others, and that was giving my talent the freedom they needed to experiment with their characters and craft on set. There was a lot of ad-libbing, and the more I stepped back and let them have at it, the more they gave. Their performances were elevated, and aside from the few adjustments I gave every now and then, I just kept my mouth shut and steered the ship. I believe this is extremely important because, by the end of any script, these people are going to be the ones who embody this person you wrote, and ultimately bring them to life – and not only the talent, but the entire crew as well. 

    As a director, I realized that you can only hold onto the material for so long before giving it up. You must trust your talent and pass the baton you have and be the coach they need, guiding them from the sideline. Hopefully, if you put in the hard work needed in pre-production and cast the film right, the process will fully evolve on its own. You only need to sit back and enjoy the show at that point. 

    CR: Can you talk about the development process for this pilot and the class you developed it in? 

    BE: Given I had changed my proposal during the six-month Transmedia course, development for Blackwater was done in a three-month period, which is not much time. But…it came very easily to me. The vision for it was clear, so it was really a matter of honing in on what was already in my head. I knew I wanted to do something that was set in a Native American world, and I completely cast with Indigenous talent. This was something I have always wanted to do, I just felt I hadn’t honed in on my craft enough back then. But now it was different. I felt confident enough to give it a try. It was a matter of finding the right, tone, cast, and overall theme, which it turned out to have many. 

    CR: Do you have any special shout-outs to faculty or staff who really helped or inspired you?  

    BE: One of the coolest things about the Transmedia 1 & 2 courses at NYFA were instructors Jenni Powell and Chris Modoono. Not only were they extremely wise and easy to talk to, but their guidance was priceless as they were able to get me from concept to a finished pilot. I can’t stress enough about the creative freedom Jenni and Chris gave us in class. I really owe the experience and opportunity to them and to NYFA. 

    CR: That is so cool. You know every teacher’s dream is to inspire and elevate students at the level you just described. 

    Let’s talk about the amazing festival run you’re having with Blackwater.  

    BE: Blackwater has garnered twenty festival selections, five of those being the Austin Film Festival, Slamdance, Nashville Film Festival, Hollyshorts, and Cinequest Film and VR Festival. 

    CR: That is any filmmaker’s dream list! So what are you looking forward to with Slamdance? 

    BE: I hope to get as much positive attention as possible and of course find a potential buyer or investor for continued production. Native American content and storytelling are so important in this day and age — and extremely hard to find. Slamdance is one of those benchmark experiences you constantly take a step back and go “Wow, I did something really cool here” and realize you’re on the right path. I also hope to network virtually and meet many of the talented filmmakers at this year’s festival! 

    Poster for “Blackwater” pilot

    CR: You will definitely have some great opportunities there. Do you have any advice for recent graduates making their way into the professional world?  

    BE: I would say be consistent, persistent, and honest in your work and what it is exactly you want for your future. Filmmaking and its many crafts are a life long pursuit. Pursuing it should make you happy, grateful, and full of good spirit to have such a calling. If it doesn’t, maybe take a step back and re-evaluate. Focus on what you want, whether that is screenwriting, directing (or both), and constantly sharpen your craft and talents in that world every day in some shape or form. Look to each day as an opportunity to move towards that ultimate goal, and eventually one day…you’ll find yourself there. But don’t forget to have fun and relax along the way. Be happy. 

    CR: Those are very wise words. And speaking of wise words, let’s talk about these trying times we live in today. Do you want to share any thoughts about the importance of film in the lives of humans living right now? 

    BE: Well, if I do share anything, it’ll be about the importance of diverse inclusion in today’s film industry and breaking the current mold at hand. And I am speaking specifically to Native American inclusion. Native Americans are perhaps the most underrepresented culture in the film and television industry right now in terms of film and television content, screenwriters, directors, and leading talent. We as Native Americans have been fighting an extremely uphill battle in finding large, fair platforms or opportunities to tell “our own stories,” tell our own history, and voice our own point of view. Since the dawn of cinema, history has been flat-out brutal in our depiction, reducing us to “elk skin and feathers,” mascots, savages, and whatever else the multitude of history books will have you believe. We as a people, as a culture, need to be allowed to write and depict our own stories, our own views, and our own history. Blackwater is one such example out of the 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. The time for diverse inclusion is now, and Hollywood needs to comply accordingly. 

    CR: The time is definitely now, and I’m so happy that you and your work are a solution to this lack of diversity in Hollywood.

    So how we can watch your film during Slamdance and see your Q&A? 

    BE: Slamdance is an online format this year, meaning anyone with a computer or smart TV can access it for only ten bucks. Yes… $10. We’re talking the crème of the crop here, people! Although the official schedule of events isn’t out yet, getting your pass now will ensure you do not miss a single screening. All films will be viewable throughout the festival from February 12th – 25th

    Blackwater will be screening in the “Episodes” block with many other awesome filmmakers and their films, and you will also be able to watch our Q&A as a bonus feature. Go to www.slamdance.com now for your ticket! 

    CR: Thanks for stopping by, Boise. Congratulations and best of luck!

    [NOTE: NYFA students can get their festival passes for $5 by using their NYFA email address].

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    February 11, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1385

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes MFA Screenwriting Alum, Black Film Allegiance Co-Founder, and Monkeypaw Productions Development Manager Elon Joi Washington

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    On Friday, February 21, New York Film Academy (NYFA) welcomed NYFA MFA Screenwriting grad (Class of ’18) Elon Joi Washington, Development Manager at Monkeypaw Productions, and co-founder of Black Film Allegiance. Terah Jackson, ABA Club co-advisor, screenwriting instructor, and NYFA LAS instructor, moderated the event.

    elon joi washington

    Washington is a screenwriter and story analyst with a passion for shedding light on untold narratives. She studied English, Film and Media at the University of Florida, Film and Television at Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated from New York Film Academy’s MFA Screenwriting program. She is the founder of the Black Film Allegiance, a virtual platform promoting collaboration and creative opportunity for up-and-coming filmmakers. Additionally, Washington currently works as Development Manager at Monkeypaw Productions. 

    Following a quick clip of Washington promoting the Black Film Allegiance, Jackson opened up the Q&A by touching upon the students’ interest in Washington’s screenwriting background. He asked, “This idea to become a writer and move into film, when did that start for you?” 

    Washington shared, “I always enjoyed writing. In undergrad I would do open mics as different character roles, and that’s what I started falling in love with character work. I was an English major with a film and media concentration and towards the end my school let me do some production work and I really enjoyed it. But, I was always more interested in what was on the page because it’s where I felt most comfortable creatively.” 

    Jackson then asked what type of stories Washington found herself most engaged in. She replied, “I like stories that revolve around social events and messages that matter to me; especially things that are quite researched. The genres I enjoy are docudrama, horror, psychological thrillers; however, I will do a sci-fi if there’s a bigger message attached to it, but it has to be grounded in truth with something that I know is happening today. Then, I’ll elevate that story in some type of way through a genre like horror.” She continued, “If there’s a research component, that’s usually the part that will draw me in and then the bigger message and character come after.”

    elon joi washington

    Speaking on her time at NYFA, Jackson asked, “Looking back, what were the opportunities here at NYFA that prepared you for what you did after school?” 

    Washington answered, “There are so many resources here that I appreciate, partially because it’s so intimate here and the professors are so hands-on with your growth professionally and as a student. Part of what I appreciated was that opportunity to have one-on-one meetings, even as an alumna. The access you have as alumni is unparalleled. ” She continued, “Also, what you do with the network you’ve built here can really change the course of your post-grad experience. Just having a community and being here created such great connections for me.”

    The Q&A then opened up to student questions. One student asked, “When you submit a script to Monkeypaw Productions, what is it they’re looking for in order to move forward with a story?” 

    Washington responded, “In terms of what Monkeypaw looks for–it’ts genre, underrepresented voices, and a focus on social issues of course, but in a way that’s fun.” She added, “When you’re dealing with difficult issues, you don’t want it to be like medicine, you want it to be rewatchable. It’s always that component, which is a very specific formula and very difficult to find.”  

    New York Film Academy thanks MFA Screenwriting alum Elon Joi Washington for joining sharing her time and expertise with our students!

    elon joi washington

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    March 2, 2020 • Diversity, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2075

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate With Largest Industry Pitch Fest to Date

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    Graduating New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting students attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held as always at the beautiful penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by astounding views of Los Angeles.

    This semester’s event was particularly special because it was the largest the NYFA Screenwriting school has hosted to date, proving once again it is a favorite of industry professionals.

    Pitch Fest 2020

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating MFA Screenwriting students, offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their Film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.  A record number of industry professionals came out to celebrate and give invaluable input for the students to take away with them as they move into the exciting next stage of their careers.

    The students’ dedication and passionate love for their work shined as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had been developing for nearly a year. Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on, and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the Academy to be their first official night as professional screenwriters, the hard work of this group of talented and creative students paid off as they pitched agents, managers, studios, and alternative media, TV, and film production company execs in a relaxed, roundtable environment.

    Organized and hosted by Screenwriting faculty Jenni Powell and Adam Finer, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including Monkeypaw Productions, Verve, Ventanarosa Productions, Energy Entertainment, Madison Wells Media, ICM, Lit Entertainment Group, Inclusion Management, Legacy Pictures, and nearly 20 other companies.

    New York Film Academy gives a heartfelt thanks to all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible, and extends a big congratulations to all of our MFA Screenwriting graduates and wishes them all the best as they move forward in their professional journeys!

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    February 4, 2020 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1637

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting Alum David Barbeschi Nominated to Popular Austin Revolution Film Festival

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    David Barbeschi has been racking up plenty of festival selections since earning his MFA in Screenwriting from New York Film Academy (NYFA). Most recently, his thesis pilot script Odysseus was nominated to the Austin Revolution Film Festival, an industry favorite fest that is ranked best on FilmFreeway.

    Odysseus is a television pilot developed by Barbeschi as part of the MFA in Screenwriting program at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus. The script is a sequel to the Ancient Greek poem by Homer, The Odyssey. The screenplay expands the mythology of the classic epic and follows Homer’s titular character Odysseus, now past his prime, as he sets sail for Central America to save his estranged son. He soon finds out that the gods he’d challenged in Greece are nothing compared to the ones to the west.David Barbeschi

    “The idea is to rediscover lesser known myths from other cultures,” explains Barbeschi, “through the lens of a more popular mythological character. For example, at some point, Odysseus will have to face off against the Mayan Gods.” In addition to the Austin Revolution Film Festival, Odysseus was also selected for  the Finish Line Script Competition.

    Barbeschi has also been finding success with his Feature 2 script, White Crow, which focuses on an agoraphobic woman who must guide her blind brother to a safe house through a dystopian city. To date, White Crow has been selected in several festivals, including the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Contest, and was just nominated at the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards.

    Both scripts are personal to Barbeschi. “Something I’ve learned at NYFA,” he says, “which I applied when writing Odysseus and White Crow, was ‘write what you like, instead of what you think others will like.’

    “I started out as a producer before coming to NYFA,” he continues, “so whatever I wrote, I wrote solely because of its supposed commercial value, despite not liking the genre or the themes. Ironically, the only projects of mine that have really shown any kind of success are the ones where I took my teachers’ advice and focused on writing good and entertaining stories which I was passionate about.”
    David Barbeschi

    Barbeschi is working as a freelance screenwriter and development producer and is currently juggling over 10 different projects, including a short entitled Off-Road that he wrote and produced; the project is also gaining traction in the festival circuit. Additionally, Barbeschi is working on adapting White Crow into an animated short film.

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Screenwriting alum David Barbeschi on the festival successes of his multiple projects and looks forward to following his endeavors as he continues his filmmaking “odyssey!”

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    July 19, 2019 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1849

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate with an Industry Pitch Fest

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    It was that time of year once more as graduating MFA and BFA New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event.

    The Pitch Fest was held once again at the beautiful penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by astounding views of Los Angeles. The location combined with how well-prepared our Screenwriting students are make this a favorite event of industry professionals.

    Industry Pitch Fest 2019

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting students and offers them an unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their Film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals.

    This year’s Pitch Fest was one of our largest events to date, including a record number of industry professionals coming out to celebrate and give invaluable input for the students to take with them as they move into the next stage of their careers.

    The students’ dedication and passionate love for their work shined as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year. Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on, and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.

    Considered by the Academy to be their first night as professional screenwriters, this group of talented and creative students’ hard work paid off as they pitched agents, managers, studios, and digital, VR, comic, TV, and film production company execs in a relaxed, roundtable environment.

    Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Adam Finer, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including: Monkeypaw Productions, Juvee Productions, Practical Magic, Verve, We are the Mighty, Boom! Studios, Heroes and Villains, Madison Wells Media, BURR! Productions, De Laurentiis, and Lit Entertainment Group.

    New York Film Academy wishes to thank all of the Pitch Fest participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. We’d also like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA and BFA graduates and wish them the best as they move forward in their professional journeys!

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    June 18, 2019 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2108

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting Alum Inés de los Santos Wins Stephanie Rothman Fellowship

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    Earlier this month, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Screenwriting Alum Inés de los Santos received word that she won the Stephanie Rothman Fellowship.

    The Stephanie Rothman Fellowship is a contest for female filmmakers and writers that create thriller, horror, and fantasy stories. Every year, they grant a female creator with a cash award allows the artist to produce the screenplay, or another project they would instead like to make.

    Inés de los Santos applied to the contest with her thesis project, a comedy-horror pilot about a nun-in-training who accidentally performs an exorcism on her one-night-stand, and is subsequently sent to an exorcism academy.

    Inés de los Santos
    “This story has been one of the most passionate projects I’ve ever had,” de la Santos tells NYFA. “And even though it’s based on someone that is not part of my life anymore, I was able to adjust it and make it even more personal to me—all thanks to my teachers and classmates’ notes and suggestions.”

    Inés de los Santos enrolled in Fall 2017 to earn her MFA in Screenwriting from Burbank-based New York Film Academy. NYFA congratulates Inés on the Stephanie Rothman Fellowship and looks forward to seeing her project come to life!

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    June 14, 2019 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2179

  • Q&A With Comedian and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Alum Aubree Sweeney

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    On Monday, October 22, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting alum Aubree Sweeney returned to campus to perform a stand-up comedy set followed by a Q&A with NYFA screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner.Aubree Sweeney

    Sweeney earned a master’s degree in screenwriting at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. After graduated NYFA’s screenwriting school, she studied with the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisational comedy theater and training center in Hollywood; from there, she transitioned to stand-up comedy and now she is a nationally touring comedian. Sweeney continues to build her theatre resume and has been part of several television commercials.

    Conner opened up the Q&A by asking Sweeney’s advice for aspiring comedians. “If stand-up is something you wanna do, just go hit as many open mics as you can,” Sweeney said, “and just keep getting onstage until you feel comfortable.” Sweeney shared that her background as a dancer and a baton-twirler for football games at the University of Arizona helped her with confidence.

    Conner then inquired about Sweeney’s writing process. “Write it, rewrite it, rewrite it again, again, again, don’t look at it for a couple weeks — maybe a semester,” explained Sweeney.

    Aubree SweeneyShe continued, “Write it again, polish it, then you’ve got that confidence because you know this material; you know that it is written to the best of your ability, and then you’re going onstage, and then you’re gonna figure out what that little extra thing [is] that makes it better… I think that most of my confidence in doing stand-up comedy onstage comes from the work not onstage.”

    Sweeney also gave advice about how to deal with the anxiety of being new to performing stand-up, “I would recommend when you first start doing stand-up comedy, at the front, say ‘I’m new.’ I said it was my first show for probably the first 25 shows.”

    Sweeney shared some of the best ways to get gigs as a comedian: promote yourself as much as possible, be resourceful, be open to performing at unconventional venues like business expos and county fairs, and adapt your comedy content for different crowds.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Aubree Sweeney for her performance and for providing insider insight for aspiring comedians at NYFA.

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    November 7, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2154

  • CBS Pilot Pandas in New York Stars Ashley Tisdale & New York Film Academy Grad Dhruv Singh

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    New York Film Academy MFA Screenwriting alum Dhruv Singh will star in upcoming CBS pilot Pandas in New York with Ashley Tisdale.

    Dhruv Singh via his website http://www.dhruvudaysingh.com.

    Directed by Big Bang Theory’s DGA Award-nominated Mark Cendrowski, Pandas in New York centers on an empathetic young doctor, Rishi, and his loving if slightly overbearing Indian family — all fellow doctors who run a family practice in Manhattan and just want what they think is best for Rishi.

    NYFA alum Dhruv Singh portrays the series lead, who returns from a year with Doctors Without Borders in Cambodia and decides to pursue his passion for social justice by practicing medicine at a free clinic — a choice which he is trying to hide from his family. Ashley Tisdale plays opposite Singh as the tough but fair-minded clinic director, Maya — and rumor has it that sparks will fly between the two characters.

    According to Deadline, the series will also feature Nisha Munshi, Hina Abdullah, Dan O’Brien, Bernard White and Gita Reddy.

    Along with his training in the MFA Screenwriting program at the NYFA Los Angeles campus, Mumbai native Dhruv Singh has honed his comedy chops at the legendary improv studio UCB. An alumni of the CBS Diversity Showcase 2015, Singh has 22 acting credits to his name, including Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Adam Ruins Everything. He has performed in the ABC Talent Showcase; at UCB Maude night and with Queen George on Harold Night; and with The Groundlings Sunday Company.

    Congratulations, Dhruv! The New York Film Academy looks forward to catching Pandas in New York on CBS.

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  • All Rise Film Competition Runner-Up is New York Film Academy MFA Screenwriting Student

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    The New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Screenwriting student Ines Carolyne de los Santos Almanzar and her all-NYFA crew for winning the Runner-Up prize in the All Rise Film Competition.

    Founded by Simone Benhayon in 2015, All Rise is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to eradicate cyberbullying. Through legislation, reform, and education, All Rise has empowered thousands to take a stand against cyberbullying. Part of their education initiative is an annual film competition that draws attention to many of the issues surrounding online bullying.

    This year, the theme of the film competition was “Is Cyber Abuse an International Crime?”

    The youth competition is divided into two categories. The first is a children’s competition, featuring filmmakers between the ages of 10-15. The second is a young adult’s competition, featuring filmmakers between the ages of 16-21. Films can’t be more than three minutes in length. Other than that, creators are able to tell their story in whatever cinematic format they chose.

    Initially, Almanzar wasn’t sure what story she would tell, but she relied on her own experiences.

    “I was a victim of cyberbullying, myself,” Almanzar said. “I know how tough it can be to survive cyberbullying. You want to ask for help, but most people don’t think this is a big issue.”

    With polls showing that anywhere from 35-50 percent of teens have been bullied online, it is clear that cyberbullying is, in fact, a very big deal.

    Almanzar’s film Isn’t This a Crime follows a plus-size woman as she tries internet dating for the first time. She struggles through date after date. She is told she isn’t pretty enough. One man explains that her need to have kids makes her undesirable. Everything from the way she dresses, to her desire to study art, is insulted. Later, the emotional abuse she has endured begins to manifest itself physically as bruises all over her body. When she tries to report the abuse, she’s informed that the police cannot help her.

    The film is incredibly impactful, and Almanzar’s entire crew was made up of current NYFA students and NYFA alumni. Almanzar said she relied heavily on her crew to help complete the project.

    When asked why she liked working with NYFA students, Ines said, “Since we’re all students we already had a kind of shorthand on set. Communication is vital to the success of a set. We were able to move quickly and resolve issues as they happened.”

    You can watch Isn’t This a Crime and all of the finalist films here:

    All Rise Film Competition 2018 Judging Evening from All Rise on Vimeo.

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  • NYFA Veteran BFA Film and MFA Screenwriting Alumnus Joins We Are The Mighty

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    NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick

    NYFA Veteran alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick is on the road to success, joining the team at We Are The Mighty (WATM) after completing both is BFA in Filmmaking and MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy.

    While serving with U.S. Marine Corps, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (Known as Dark Horse) as an FMF U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, Tim Kirkpatrick wrote his first script during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. Tim’s experiences in Afghanistan, and his passion for films, led him to pursue his passion of filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

    After returning stateside and transitioning out of the U.S. Navy, Tim pursued his education at the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) in Burbank CA. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Filmmaking and then completed his Master’s degree in Screenwriting, all at NYFA.

    It was while Tim was enrolled at NYFA that he attended an employment and internship event hosted by NYFA’s Veterans Office, which featured the veterans organization We Are The Mighty (WATM).

    Tim’s skill set matched the WATM mission, which is to engage and entertain America’s 114 million military, veterans and their families with original content, branded campaigns and experiential events across multi-channel platforms and distribution partners.

    He was offered an internship with WATM. Tim succeeded as an intern and was eventually hired full-time. He is currently serving as the editorial coordinator for WATM, working underneath David Gale, WATM’s CEO. Mr. Gale was previously an executive at MTV Networks.

    Tim is truly a Renaissance man. In addition to using his talents on behalf of We Are The Mighty, he also works as a military consultant, and has successfully written, produced, and directed several short films, music videos, and commercials.

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