MFA
Posts

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    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].

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 11, 2021 • Diversity, Entertainment News, Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1280

  • New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking Student Phyllis Tam Named a Finalist in 47th Annual Student Academy Awards

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) own Phyllis Tam, who recently graduated with her MFA in Filmmaking from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, has been named a finalist in the 47th Annual Student Academy Awards for her narrative short film Fragile Moon.

    Still from Student Academy Award finalist film ‘Fragile Moon’ (Photo Courtesy of Phyllis Tam)

    Tam’s short film will compete in the Narrative (Domestic Schools) category in the Student Academy Awards.

    “I could not be more excited that Fragile Moon made it to the semifinals for the Student Academy Awards,” shares NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, Crickett Rumley. “Phyllis worked so diligently to perfect every single detail of her film — down to the placement of subtitles — that it’s no wonder her dedication paid off. It is such a timely story about the impact that immigrating to the U.S and pursuing the American dream has on families. The themes of memory, loss, and the healing power of art resonate long after the film is over.”

    Still from ‘Fragile Moon’ (Photo Courtesy of Phyllis Tam)

    “We are proud to see Phyllis Tam’s creativity and hard work pay off with her film Fragile Moon as she continues to advance in this prestigious competition for student filmmakers worldwide,” says NYFA President Michael Young. “Like Phyllis’ honorary achievement with the Student Academy Awards, we are excited to see NYFA students go on to achieve their dreams with their outstanding work.”

    Finalists for the Student Academy Awards were announced on August 13, 2020, with the ceremony confirmed for Thursday, October 15, 2020.

    The winners of the Student Academy Awards will be eligible to compete for the 2020 Oscars in the following categories: Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, or Documentary Short Subject category. Previous Student Academy Award winners have gone on to win 11 Oscars, and receive 63 Oscar nominations, among them include: Cary Fukunaga, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, and Robert Zemeckis.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
  • NYFA Alum Valéria Costa Works as Production Manager for Netflix’s ‘Sergio’ and ‘Street Food: Latin America’

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    When shooting abroad, a solid production team is essential for shooting projects in an area you may be unfamiliar with. New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum, Valéria Costa, makes it her job to ensure that foreign companies have everything they need, which is exactly what she recently did for the Netflix productions of Sergio and Street Food: Latin America.

    Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Costa came to NYFA after wanting to learn the practical side of filmmaking. “I also wanted to study abroad and improve my English,” she tells NYFA, “so I decided to apply to the MFA Filmmaking program at NYFA and kill two birds with one stone.”

    Valéria Costa (Left) on set

    Costa has since worked her way up through the ranks at production house Brazil Production Services, becoming a as a Production Manager. She has worked on multiple projects both in Brazil and in the United States including Netflix’s Hyperdrive and 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. Costa also worked on the NYC unit for the Brazilian feature film Minha Vida em Marte and on the set of the shoot for the Get to Know Me music video with Brazil’s biggest popstar, Anitta.

    Costa’s recent projects as a production manager have been with big name titles  like the Netflix film Sergio, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, starring Ana de Armas and famous Brazilian actor Wagner Moura. “It was a great experience,” shares Costa. “We had several weeks of pre-production and the challenge to build a 100+ local Rio de Janeiro crew, and served as the main members of the crews (being bilingual) to communicate between the Brazilian crew and American crew that flew to Brazil for this shoot.”

    Film poster for ‘Sergio’

    As with any production, Sergio posed many challenges for Costa and the crew. Some of those challenges included finding the right person for a certain type of shoot and transforming a whole set to resemble an entirely different decade.

    “We had an underwater scene being filmed in the Rio de Janeiro that meant we needed to bring in the best underwater camera operator in Brazil to ensure we had the best footage possible,” reveals Costa. “We also needed to make sure all scene components were true to the time period, with many written as Sergio’s flashbacks from the 70’s; everything from street signs, cars, beach wear, people’s wardrobe, accessories, and more needed to be thought through.”

    Poster for ‘Street Food: Latin America’

    Another exciting project helmed by Costa and her team was Netflix docuseries Street Food: Latin America. Costa managed the Brazil Unit for the streaming series and  reveals it was a “fulfilling experience” but also challenging overall.

    “The city of Salvador [where the shoot was taking place] is not as developed as São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, so, at some point during production, we had an issue with the equipment and we had to act very fast and put somebody on a plane to bring equipment from São Paulo for us ASAP so our schedule wasn’t affected. Everything worked out in the end and I’m very happy that people from all over the world get to know some of the best Brazilian and Latin American food.”

    Valéria Costa (Second from left) with the production crew behind the scenes of a shoot

    Costa’s job is certainly never quiet. Besides having the usual responsibilities of a Film Production Manager, she is also in charge with advising her clients on the local filming requirements of the country that they are looking to film in, while also seeking to align their expectations based on the limitations of that location.

    “There’s a Brazilian saying that I believe summarizes working in the film industry for me: ‘A rapadura é doce, mas não é mole não.’ That translates to something like, “The candy is sweet, but it’s not easy to bite. What we do is definitely not easy. You work long hours, deal with extremely tight deadlines and budget limitations, but I really love making movies and dealing with all the moving parts of a set and once you can see the final product I can guarantee that it’s worth it.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate MFA Filmmaking alum Valéria Costa on her recent successes for the two Netflix productions, and is excited to see what’s in store for Costa as she continues to manage productions in two different global hemispheres of the world.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    August 6, 2020 • Filmmaking, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 971

  • Congratulations to the Spring Class of 2020 at New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA)

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    The end of May was an exciting time at New York Film Academy (NYFA) for the Spring Class of 2020, where students and instructors witnessed the culmination of their hard work over multiple days of final screenings, presentations, pitches, and of course, graduation ceremonies. 

    Actor Vincent D’Oforino (Left) and Dean of Academic Advising for NYFA Los Angeles, Mike Civille (Right)

    This year, NYFA graduations, like many across the country, were held virtually with students and their families tuning in from all over the world to celebrate as NYFA graduates proudly accepted their diplomas and tossed their caps in the air.

    Guest speaker Vincent D’Onofrio joined in the commencement ceremony by delivering a speech that encouraged BFA and MFA students as they go into working more closely with the industry after graduation. He encouraged students to continue to remember what they know, but to constantly be willing to learn and grow along the way throughout their respective careers.

    New York Film Academy congratulates all of the incredible students of the class of Spring 2020 who have dedicated so much time and hard work into completing their training here. We look forward to celebrating all their wonderful achievements to come!

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
  • New York FIlm Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Pablo C. Vergara Wins At International Film and Metal Festival

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    Necromurder, the film by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Pablo C. Vergara, won the Award for Best International Fictional Film at 2019’s International Film and Metal Festival (FICIME.)

    necromurder
    The festival, which began this year in Colombia, aims to visualize and support the metal music and film industry not just in Colombia but around the world, generating a forum for artistic expression from a genre that has influenced a search for identity for many generations, and which has been influenced by many artistic sources.

    FICIME received over 500+ submissions from across the globe. Sixty-eight audiovisual projects were selected for the fest, in eight categories, including films from Syria, Croatia, Burkina Faso, Africa, Russia, and Scandinavia.

    Necromurder is a music-oriented movie with strong visuals and design—written, directed, and starring Vergara, who was inspired by films like The Crow and The Doors. The film, based on real events, revolves around two musicians fighting for the title of King of Evil, where their own demons and lifestyles will lead them down a spiral of destruction that culminates in murder. For more details on the film its sources, check out our interview with Vergara here.

    Vergara hails from Mexico City and works as a cinematographer, actor, and filmmaker, among other roles, and enrolled in 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. 

    Vergara will be returning to NYFA on October 15, screening his film along with other NYFA filmmakers by invitation of Chair of Filmmaking Claude Kerven. The event will be held at NYFA’s New York campus at 7 p.m.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Pablo C. Vergara on his festival win and encourages everyone to check out the film when it screens at NYFA’s New York campus on October 15, 2019.

    necromurder pablo c. vergara

    UPDATE – OCTOBER 22, 2020:

    Vergara’s film Necromurder got a special poster to reveal in Times Square as part of NYC’s Shockfest. Vergara’s director showreel will be shown ahead of screenings throughout the festival, where Rob Zombie, himself, will be in attendance as the festival’s guest of honor.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    September 20, 2019 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3300

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

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

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

    Buzzfeed MFA

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    September 17, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 1655

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

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

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

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

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    September 12, 2019 • Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1057

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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

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

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

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

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    August 8, 2019 • Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1993

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

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    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!”

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    July 19, 2019 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1782

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking Student Bruklyn Miller Wins Wolfson CinemaSlam Works in Progress Award

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) South Beach student Bruklyn Miller hasn’t completed her MFA in Filmmaking yet, but she’s already making waves in the festival circuit with her film, Celestial. The project was recently selected to receive the Wolfson CinemaSlam Works in Progress Award from the Miami Film Festival’s CinemaSlam section.

    Bruklyn MillerMiller is currently enrolled in the MFA in Filmmaking program at NYFA’s South Beach campus in Miami, Florida. As part of her studies, the young filmmaker will receive 2,000 hours of hands-on instruction and production experience on a variety of high-end digital and analog film cameras.

    Celestial is Miller’s intermediate film. The social thriller focuses on Nola Dubois, an intentionally standoffish girl gifted with the ability of touch sensitivity. As she begins to unravel mysterious secrets about her parents’ church, Dubois finds herself haunted by tragic and disturbing events. 

    “As a filmmaker, you are often put in positions of struggling to make it closer to your dreams,” says Miller. “Celestial is the reason I applied to New York Film Academy. Working with the cast and crew for Celestial allows this to feel real. Everyone is so committed to creating something that goes beyond a typical horror film. We want to create something that haunts our audience even when it isn’t making them jump; something that is hushed and character driven—the real terror goes beyond the central purpose and more so with the byproduct of a ruthlessly specific agenda and the effects it has on our main character.”Bruklyn Miller Celestial

    The film was selected to receive a $2500 Wolfson CinemaSlam Works in Progress Award. As part of the grant, the film will be enrolled at no cost in next year’s Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation CinemaSlam Competition. The prestigious section of Miami Film Festival’s CinemaSlam aims to support Miami-area student filmmakers and help them navigate the film festival circuit, as well as encouraging students to use archival materials in film and video production, specifically material housed at the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Media Center.

    UPDATE (3.30.20)

    Bruklyn Miller nabbed the top prize at the Wolfson CinemaSlam Production Grant Competition during the Miami Film Festival in March 2020.

    When asked about incorporating the archival footage in her film for the competition, Miller remarked, “I knew how I wanted to use the archival footage the moment the opportunity was presented to us, however, I never planned on highlighting it as much as I did in the finished product.”

    Miller, who is in her second year at New York Film Academy’s South Beach campus working toward her MFA in Filmmaking, says that Celestial is the reason she applied to New York Film Academy in the first place. “I found myself with, what I believed at the time, was a good script, but no idea on how to bring it to life,” she says. “New York Film Academy and CinemaSlam helped me do exactly that.” Celestial, Miller’s narrative short film, follows the uneasiness that stems from the stigma surrounding mental illness in the African American community.

    Bruklyn Miller with her top prize at the Wolfson CinemaSlam Competition during Miami Film Festival (March 2020)

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA in Filmmaking student Bruklyn Miller on big win at the Wolfson CinemaSlam Production Grant Competition.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    July 2, 2019 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2162