• NYFA Documentary Adviser Editor on Oscar Winning ‘Crisis Hotline: Veteran’s Press 1’

    Crisis Hotline

    Crisis Hotline: Veteran’s Press 1 has won this years Documentary Short Subject Oscar. The film’s editor Geof Bartz, is also New York Film Academy’s Documentary Curriculum Adviser and Master Class Professor.

    Crisis Hotline: Veteran’s Press 1, which won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject, was edited by Geof Bartz, New York Film Academy’s Documentary Curriculum Adviser, Master Class Professor and Supervising Editor in HBO’s Documentary Department. This is Bartz’ third Oscar win from a total of 5 nominations over the years.

    Crisis Hotline is a touching 40-minute documentary, condensed from 100 hours of footage of VA’s suicide hotline call center, located in Canandaigua, New York. The documentary delves into the deep compassion, emotions and stresses call center operators endure when working daily to help and save suicidal veterans. Many of these operators are in fact veterans themselves, military family members and former service members.

    Nearly every hour, a veteran takes his or her own life. The film brings much needed attention to this issue and other challenges veterans (and their families) face when returning to civilian life.

    “We are hopeful this documentary will help raise awareness of this important issue with the American public,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said.

    Producers Dana Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent went on-stage to accept their aware, with Perry dedicating the film to her son Evan who died at age 15 in 2005.

  • Military Student Michael Valenzuela Overcomes the Odds



    As an extremely talented musician at a very young age, Michael Valenzuela learned to play over 20 instruments. Performing in diverse ensembles comprised of choir, musicals, marching, jazz, rock, folk and contemporary bands, Valenzuela was nearly a prodigy. Despite that, his artistic talent took a back seat after graduating from high school due to his life-long dream of serving his country as a Naval Aviator.

    Valenzuela enlisted in the United States Naval Academy, even though he could’ve attended the Berklee School of Music. “I joined the Navy because I wanted to be a fighter pilot since I was a little kid and serve our country,” said Valenzuela.

    In 2000, Venezuela received his wings of gold and began a career as a carrier-based F/A-18 Strike/Fighter Pilot. Over the course of his military career between combat operations, Valenzuela was given the unique opportunity to be a Demonstration Air Show Pilot, VIP Liaison, and was introduced to the art of filmmaking by working in front of the camera on over 20 episodes of dramatized training films for the Naval Aviation community.

    His passion for the arts continued while stationed in San Diego. While taking commercial and acting for film workshops, Michael appeared in numerous television shows, movies, commercials, as well as documentaries, which inspired him to work on a travel series called Aviator’s Paradise. It was from there where Valenzuela’s life would take a drastic turn.

    “Unfortunately, both my aviation and acting careers were brought to a sudden and tragic halt due to a work accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down for a span of two years,” recalled Valenzuela. “After two major reconstructive surgeries and years of rehabilitation, I returned to the cockpit as an Advanced Aerobatic and Emergency Maneuver Training Instructor. During my recovery, I discovered Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP), becoming a Professional Athlete in the arena of SUP and Snowkiting, and recently became a Crossfit instructor.”

    Turning his life around tenfold, Valenzuela found a new calling in athletics and reaching out to other Disabled Veterans. He began volunteering a considerable amount of his time mentoring and coaching other disabled athletes. He essentially became an ambassador for Disabled Veterans in local and international competition and his accomplishments were featured on an AT&T Uverse Sports series about inspirational athletes.

    With a diverse range of hurdles and accomplishments behind him and with the help and guidance of the staff and students at the New York Film Academy, Valenzuela is enthusiastic about returning other passions of his: acting and filmmaking.

    “I wanted to continue working in the film industry and improve my skill set from a reputable institution. I am looking forward to exploring my passions for motion picture storytelling and have the ability and desire to not only act in front of the camera, but I look forward to collaborating with other artists in a creative environment, obtaining the all-around filmmaking experience to ensure my success within the profession.”

    As a current student, the sky is the limit in terms of what projects Valenzuela would like to pursue after graduation. Though, his interests as of now lie in commercials, travel shows, adventure documentaries and feature films.

    With Valenzuela’s proven track record of overcoming arduous obstacles, we believe he has a bright future ahead of him in the sometimes daunting pursuit of filmmaking and acting.


    February 4, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6378

  • Robert Thorpe Wins Audience Choice Award for Best Director

    Robert Thorpe

    Robert Thorpe with his actor Randall Wulff

    As a proud supporter of the GI Bill, the New York Film Academy was the perfect fit for military veteran and former student, Robert Thorpe. Robert came out of the military at the age of 38, and was looking to get immediate experience on set. “I wanted hands-on,” said Thorpe. “Get in, get dirty and make films.”

    While attending NYFA for a BFA in Filmmaking, Robert focused on his thesis film, The Birthing Field. “I knew a lot coming in to NYFA, having studied film privately, but I still needed to gain a better understanding of why I choose specific shots, or why I cut here or there. In essence, NYFA taught me how to use the camera as an extension of the story and not merely just to shoot some cool stuff.”

    Already an Audience Choice Award Winner for Best Director at the International Film Festival of Cinematic Arts Los Angeles, The Birthing Field is a dramatic horror about a young couple, Matt and Angie, who leave Boston to start a new life in San Diego. On their way while in Arizona, they are abducted and forced into the world of human trafficking where they must reproduce children for the black market.

    the birthing field

    While sitting at his desk one day, he noticed an image of a malnourished boy standing in front of a glass door with the yellow brilliance of the sun blowing out the background outside. The tones were so warm and inviting to the point that he began writing a story around the imagery. This story eventually evolved into The Birthing Field.

    Robert created the film with the initial focus on creating awareness and as a tool for raising funds for a feature version, which he is currently writing the screenplay for. He started working on the film in the fall of 2012 and soon realized his love for the world he created. Over the next year, he wrote several drafts of the script as well as a first draft for the feature. “I learned about my characters and they told me what they do,” said Robert. “I just had to put it on paper for everyone else to see. I rarely start writing the first draft with a whole story in mind — I am a visual person.

    Robert plans on shooting another short, a Sci-Fi horror called Alien Desert, before tackling the feature version of the The Birthing Field.


    November 26, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6276

  • NYFA Grad’s Award-Winning Film Captures Gays in Military


    LingerAfter being raised in a military family, the idea for New York Film Academy Filmmaking graduate Molly Calliste’s thesis film, Linger, came quite naturally. With the theme of the film in mind, Molly’s best friend’s situation truly shaped the story. One of her close friends was a gay U.S. Marine terrified by the thought of being outed. He lived in fear as to what would happen–the least of which he thought would have been a dishonorable discharge.

    “He couldn’t scream about the betrayal he felt,” said Molly. “So I thought perhaps, I could whisper it.”

    And this is what paved way for her film, Linger, which is about the United States military’s handling of gays or suspected gays in the armed services. The forced secrecy, the badge of ‘shame’ and mostly, the betrayal of what is taken when your country fails you on such a level.

    So far, her message is being heard at film festivals around the country. Linger has received an Award of Merit at IndieFest and screened at the IndependentFilmmakerProject. Her upcoming screenings include the NewFilmmakersNY Film Festival fall series on November 12th at 7:15 PM and Bakersfield Film Festival on November 9th in Bakersfield, California.

    Molly was born and raised in Grenada, the British West Indies, but has been living in New York City since the age of twelve. She chose to study at NYFA because of its intensive, hands-on curriculum.

    “My training at NYFA was singularly instrumental in the production of this film, as well as several others. I knew nothing of storytelling in terms of moving pictures, except what I liked and didn’t like. I knew a good film when I saw one, and kept an open mind for the most part, but what I learned from NYFA was not just technical–though a large part of it was. It was also political, and dealt with the ethics and hierarchy of filmmaking. Essentially, you put into it what you hope to get out of your production, and your reputation travelled a lot faster than you ever could in filmmaking. When I didn’t know what I was doing, which was often, I asked for help. Instructors at NYFA: Piero Basso, Lanre Olabisi, Claude Kerven, Ivan Julien and many others were always eager to help. I will always be a perpetual student when it comes to filmmaking.”

    Molly’s hope is for Linger to ‘reach’ at least one person, who in turn might alter their perception on how they view a simple human choice.

    Aside from Linger, Molly has recently completed post-production work on a feature film directed by a fellow NYFA alum, Manoj Annadurai, titled Get Happy. She’s also trying to raise funds to film her own feature, tentatively set to begin filming November of 2015.

    Linger canon


    October 13, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5606

  • Military Veteran Student Lands Associate Producer Job at Imaginary Forces


    Paquita Hughes, who completed the One-Year Filmmaking and Photography programs at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, was recently hired at Imaginary Forces, a creative studio and production company that focuses on major film and TV productions.

    “I was one of 15 veterans selected to interview for 8 companies through the AICP (Association of Independent & Commercial Producers),” said Hughes. “We each had five minutes to pass our resume to the company representatives and give our 30 second commercial. I was the only veteran hired ON THE SPOT, in less than five minutes, as an Associate Producer for the company Imaginary Forces.”

    Founded in 1996, Imaginary Forces is a creative studio and full service production company specializing in creating and developing content for commercial advertising, digital and interactive platforms, feature films and film marketing, television, architectural spaces and global brands.

    Their body of award winning work includes the EMMY winning main titles for Mad Men, as well as the celebrated opening sequences for Boardwalk Empire, The Pacific and Nurse Jackie.

    The production company has created hundreds of main titles and content for films like Transformers, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 500 Days Of Summer, Terminator Salvation, Seven, and Minority Report.

    In the commercial world, Imaginary Forces has directed and produced spots for Pepsi, Microsoft, Scion, Chrysler and Google through agencies like ATTIK, JWT, TBWA\Chiat\Day, and The Richards Group. They have also created brand identity for networks such as USA Network, Lifetime, Discovery and Hallmark Channel, and experience design for MoMA, Lincoln Center, The Oscars and Victoria’s Secret.

    Imaginary Forces is comprised of over 70 artists and creative professionals: directors, designers, writers, animators, editors, and producers. Their studios are located in both Los Angeles and New York City.

    Not only that, Paquita’s short film about sexual assault in the military (all female crew) titled Breaking The Silence, which she directed for the 48hr Film Contest last year, was selected for the GI Film Festival in Washington, DC!

    Big congrats to Paquita on her recent successes!


    April 3, 2014 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6261

  • Memorial Day Scholarship for Military Service Members & Veterans


    NYFA Veterans

    In appreciation of the brave men and women who protect our nation, the New York Film Academy is providing an exclusive opportunity for military service members and honorably discharged veterans to receive a 4-Week Scholarship to study at either our Los Angeles or New York campus during the 2014 calendar year.

    We’re offering three 4-Week Scholarships–one in each of the following disciplines:
    • Filmmaking
    • Acting for Film
    • Photography (Please note: 4-Week photography students are required to have their own DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with them at the start of the program)

    To be eligible to be selected as a scholarship winner, we ask:

    Participants need to create a 90-second video telling us your story, and upload it to your YouTube channel.

    Topics to include in the video:

    • Your military background and experience
    • Which program you want to study (Acting for Film, Filmmaking or Photography)
    • Why you want to pursue your passion at the New York Film Academy
    • Anything else you would like to share with us to help shape your story

    In addition to the above points, we encourage participants to include a sampling of their creative work within the video. Perhaps you could edit in a snippet of a short film you’ve created, a scene in which you’ve acted in, or a couple of your iconic photographs. While this is not mandatory, it never hurts to show off your artistic skills!

    How to Submit

    Participants must upload their 90-second video to their YouTube channel with the title “New York Film Academy Memorial Day Competition – Your Title/Name (ex. “Sergeant John Doe”).

    Once you have uploaded your video onto YouTube, copy the video’s URL link and paste it into a post to NYFA’s Veterans Facebook page. In your post to NYFA, include your name and contact information so we can reach the winners. If you’re uncomfortable posting your contact information online, please email your details and the link to your post to


    Videos must be properly submitted by Memorial Day: Monday, May 26th 2014 by 11:59PM.

    How the Winners Are Selected

    The winners will be determined based on the following combination:

    • The story told to us in your video
    • The public’s response to your video on our Facebook page (therefore, don’t forget to share a link with your friends and family to our Facebook page so they can like, share and comment on your video!)
    • You’re able to submit a copy of your DD214 directly to NYFA, once we’ve contacted you as possible winner.
    • Winners will be announced before the end of June 2014!

    If you have any questions, please email with “Memorial Day” in the subject line. For more information about our Veterans Benefits, visit:

    We look forward to your entries!


    February 28, 2014 • Acting, Contests, Filmmaking, Photography, Veterans • Views: 5934

  • New York Film Academy Continues to be Top Military Friendly School


    NYFA Save A Suit

    Recently, the New York Film Academy volunteered to produce a video for the “Save A Suit Foundation” at the Met’s Citi Field. The nonprofit organization provides military veterans with professional business attire and the confidence needed to succeed in the work force. Several NYFA alumni were also invited to the event, as the New York Film Academy is the school of choice for many veterans. “This is such a wonderful job networking event for the men and women who deserve it most,” said Evan Leone, NYFA Director of Veterans Admissions in NY. “I didn’t hesitate in inviting several of my Veteran students.”

    NYFA has also developed a partnership with The Soldiers Project, a nonprofit that provides free, confidential counseling to military service members and veterans. A clinician from the Soldiers Project visits the LA based campus every Wednesday and Thursday to provide counseling support. The organization has also provided training for faculty and staff on the common readjustment issues many veterans face as they return home. The film they shot here is intended to help Colleges to develop support programs for veterans, and how to best help them.

    NYFA, a school synonymous with its hands-on intensive approach to learning, is honored to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and participate in the post – 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon tuition assistance programs at both New York City and Los Angeles campuses. Recently, listed NYFA as a Top Military Friendly School.

    “If I can succeed at serving my country during a time of war, I can succeed at following my dreams at attending film school,” says NAVY Veteran and NYFA graduate, Paquita Hughes. If you served time in the military, you too can follow your dreams by pursuing an education in the arts at the New York Film Academy.

    If you have any questions about financial aid and military benefits at New York Film Academy, please contact the Office of Veterans Services at or call (818) 733-2600.




    October 15, 2013 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6115

  • New York Film Academy Hosts Screening of Veteran Documentary


    Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 11.33.56 AM

    This past Thursday, the New York Film Academy, in collaboration with the Soldiers Project, a non-profit which provides confidential readjustment counseling to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, held a screening of Where Soldiers Come From. The screening was immediately followed by a Q&A with currently enrolled veteran students at NYFA.

    nyfa veteransThe film is based on a four year journey of childhood friends whose lives are forever changed by war. Where Soldiers Come From, provides a glimpse beyond the guns, glamour, and politics of war, and highlights family, friendship, community and the impact of war on our returning service members and veterans.

    The Q&A allowed currently enrolled civilian students, faculty, and staff to ask the panel of veteran students about their experiences, while in the military, after the military, and now as a college students. The panel consisted of a former special operations service member (BFA Screenwriter), a Marine who deployed to Afghanistan (BFA Filmmaking), and two Army veterans (BFA Acting/MFA Acting), including a woman veteran who served as an MP (Military Police).

    “The event brought together not only our veteran student population, but our entire campus community as a whole to learn about the experiences of our veterans,” says John Powers, Director Office of Veterans Services at NYFA. “With more than 200 veterans on campus, we are focused on providing services to ensure that NYFA veterans are meeting their educational and artistic goals while bridging the civilian, military gap.”


    October 15, 2013 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 4008