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  • 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: 964

  • 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: 828

  • 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: 1139

  • 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: 1482

  • 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: 1437

  • 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: 1333

  • 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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  • Top 5 Cinematic Presidents

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    title president

    In the modern political climate, it’s almost impossible for any politician—let alone President—to have universal approval ratings. But the movies, as always, are different. Not only do Hollywood films cast the best looking and most charismatic actors for the cinematic White House, but they also typically put them in situations where their strong leadership will make them larger-than-life heroes. After all, when you get an A-list star to play the President in your movie, you’re not going to waste him on a slew of budget balancing scenes. You’re going to let him kick some butt. Here are the five cinematic Presidents who we’d elect in a landslide.

    Harrison Ford

    By the 1997 release of Air Force One, Harrison Ford was already an elder statesman of Hollywood, an action hero for the past three decades. Like Professor Indiana Jones, Ford’s President Marshall was a smart, strong academic behind the podium with a butt-kicking badass laying just beneath the surface. After his plane gets hijacked by Gary Oldman’s terrorist gang, Ford doesn’t rely on his Secret Service—he dispatches them himself, one by one. There’s nothing better than a President willing to reach to across the aisle and slap his opponent silly.

    presidentford

    Morgan Freeman

    Henry Fonda was an actor everyone could trust and made for a solid President in the 1979 disaster film Meteor. For Deep Impact, an updated film with a very similar plot, Morgan Freeman was the perfect choice for the 90s, an actor with both a deep gravitas and trusting nature. You could believe people could believe Morgan Freeman would protect them, even from a giant comet. After 1998, when Freeman nailed the part as President, the only bigger role he could possibly take on was God. And so he did, in 2003’s Bruce Almighty, and nailed that too.

    president freeman

    Bill Pullman

    At first glance choosing Bill Pullman, a talented actor who never quite made the A-list, even after playing an honest-to-God prince in Spaceballs, might have been an odd choice for the producers of Independence Day. However, considering President James Whitmore was a young, unproven leader who many wondered aloud if he could lead the country after an alien invasion, the casting made perfect sense. Not only did Pullman’s President personally lead his citizens into battle, he could also make great off-the-cuff speeches, and apparently take a punch from Jeff Goldblum if necessary.

    presidentpullman

    Mary McDonnell

    Okay, so Mary McDonnell never played the President of the United States, but she did play the President of the Twelve Colonies in the made-for-TV movie and subsequent remake series, Battlestar Galactica. And if you’re looking for actresses portraying women Presidents, you pretty much have to look at TV or outer space, because the number of Hollywood female Presidents is shockingly close to zero. So while we wait, impatiently, for Hollywood screenwriters to get with the times, McDonnell’s President Roslin is a great example of what a talented actress can do with the role. After becoming President by default (as Secretary of Education, she was the highest-ranking executive still alive after the decimation of the entire human race) she leads humanity’s last survivors to a new planet, dealing daily with unstoppable killer robots and day-to-day partisan politics that even the Apocalypse can’t slow down.

    president mcdonnell

    Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert was such a charismatic, beloved TV pundit that many of his fans (aptly nicknamed the Colbert Nation) wished he would enter politics and call politicians out on their shenanigans where it really mattered. He indulged them a little, getting a not-insignificant ranking in the polls when he ran in the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary. However, after ending his groundbreaking Colbert Report last fall, he decided to fill David Letterman’s shoes in Late Night rather than Barack Obama’s in the White House. We’ll have to settle then for his animated role as the President in Monsters vs. Aliens, a Commander-in-Chief who looks a lot like Colbert, sounds a lot like Colbert, and makes us laugh a lot like Colbert. Hopefully, though, the real Colbert would be a little better with handling alien invasions. Guess we’ll never get to know.

    presidentcolbert

    Interested in writing the next great cinematic President for your favorite actor or actress? Check out our screenwriting program here.

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    February 16, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 5914