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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Cinematography Alum Jude Abadi Wins Best Student Cinematography Award

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    This summer, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Cinematography alum Jude Abadi added a very important accolade to her resume when she won the Best Student Cinematography Award at the European Cinematography Awards. The award was for her work as director of photography on the short film The End of the World.

    The European Cinematography Awards are a film competition for filmmakers worldwide. According to their mission statement, the ECA supports “new and student filmmakers, who are just beginning their careers with a supportive and enthusiastic audience for their creative efforts,” as well as gives filmmakers “access to film industry professionals who can offer guidance and other forms of career assistance.”

    Best Student Cinematography Award

    Of the award, Abadi told NYFA that she was “ecstatic.” Abadi enrolled in the MFA program at NYFA’s cinematography school in Fall 2016, an accelerated, conservatory-based graduate program designed to instruct gifted and hardworking prospective directors of photography in a hands-on, professional environment. The cinematography school is chaired by Tony Richmond, A.S.C., B.S.C., who has shot many well-known films including Sympathy for the Devil, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Legally Blonde.

    “Jude did a great job shooting this film, and putting it together,” said Mike Williamson, a NYFA instructor and one of Abadi’s thesis advisors, who worked with her as she shot the film. He continued, “It can be difficult to maintain a consistent look when you’re shooting a long scene in a practical location, but her work over several shooting days matches very nicely. Her team made a strong film, and this award is well-deserved.”

    The End of the World was filmed in Los Angeles and tells the story of a married couple taken hostage by a crazed stranger, and their attempts to defuse their captor and his inane ramblings. It was written by Nabil Chowdhary and directed by NYFA alum Joshua M.G. Thomas. The film co-stars Buffy Milner, another NYFA alum who has recently written, directed, and acted in the film Type.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Jude Abadi on her prestigious award and wishes her the best of luck as her career continues forward!

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    October 22, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 95

  • “Acts of Desperation” Provides New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Credit & Experience Opportunity

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    Acts of DesperationThe Industry Lab of New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) has announced the completion of the feature film, Acts of Desperation, starring veteran actors Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, The Rocketeer) and Jason Gedrick (Backdraft, Dexter.) 

    The quirky thriller was sponsored by the Academy, but involved members of NYFA community as well. Faculty members Richard Friedman (director), Leslie Bates (producer), Neil Casey (director of photography), and Toi Juan Shannon (editor) were the forces behind the film, which afforded opportunities to NYFA alumni.

    Acts of Desperation starts with a woman on a bridge, desperate and considering jumping. But the real action begins when we meet Alan Grillo, a cop on the edge, obsessed over the fact that his wife is having an affair. At the same time, he is tracking a shrewd bank robber who is falling in love with the desperate and obsessed woman whose life he saved on the bridge. As if that’s not enough, the bank robber is also being blackmailed by two unhinged street criminals who will stop at nothing to get their money. Time is running out for all of them as their worlds collide in this unpredictable and compelling thriller centering on six individuals and their treacherous “acts of desperation.”Acts of Desperation

    Shot exclusively in Los Angeles, Acts of Desperation is the first feature credit for over 20 NYFA Filmmaking alumni through Industry Lab, a program designed to facilitate such opportunities. The production companies Scars of the Mind Picture Company and UnicVisions plan to produce many more films through the NYFA Industry Lab, offering even more occasions for our alumni to receive both experience and feature credits to add to their resumes. 

    A special screening will be announced later this month.

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    October 19, 2018 • Filmmaking, Industry Lab • Views: 216

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Sabrina Percario

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    Sabrina Percario has been very busy since graduating from New York Film Academy’s MFA program in Acting for Film. She has worked in multiple positions in film productions and has produced and acted in numerous multi-award-winning films, with several more on the horizon.

    Sabrina Percario

    Sabrina Percario

    Her journey to becoming a prolific and decorated actress and producer had an unconventional start. Born in Brazil, Percario originally worked for nearly a decade in medicine before gradually becoming immersed more and more in the world of drama. Her deep passion for the art and craft of filmmaking matches both her talent and her incredible work ethic.

    The New York Film Academy recently spoke with Sabrina Percario about the many hats she wears in the film industry, as well as what keeps her motivated and moving forward:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Sabrina Percario (SP): I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and I have dual Brazilian and Italian citizenship. In college, I majored in biomedicine and for almost 10 years I worked in the field of Chinese traditional medicine. 

    I used to lead a lot of workshops in this field in front of large audiences of around 200 people — yet I was very shy. I decided I needed to do something to improve my effectiveness as a speaker. So in 2009 I went to an acting school called the Celia Helena Acting School. I immediately fell in love with acting. Acting is very fulfilling to me because I was always fascinated with human behavior. When you study a character, you put yourself in the place of that person. When you step into another person’s shoes, you suddenly understand why someone would act in a particular way. You stop judging people and, in the process, you learn more about yourself.

    I.C.E. CREAM at LAIFFA wins Best Producer - Sabrina Percario

    I.C.E. CREAM at LAIFFA wins Best Producer

    From 2011 until 2014 I worked as a drama teacher for children ranging in age from six to sixteen. Working with kids was one of my most satisfying life experiences. I learned to be more flexible and open to changes, more willing to let others lead the narrative, and more honest with myself about my feelings. During that period in my life I worked two jobs: I was an acupuncturist as well as a drama teacher.

    In November of 2013, I decided to enroll in NYFA so I could study my craft and improve my knowledge about acting for film.

    From 2014 to 2016 I worked on NYFA’s MFA program in Acting for Film. My thesis film Julia won several awards, including Best Leading Actress at the United International Film Festival (UIFF). Julia is a tribute to my mother, who died four years ago. I used the film to talk about grief and express my gratitude to my mom. She taught me to pursue my dreams — and that’s exactly what I am doing.

    NYFA: Your IMDB page is filled with all sorts of roles — actress, producer, writer, composer, to name just a few — do you feel it is important to learn as many trades in the film industry as possible?

    SP: Yes, it is very important. Everyone should learn as much as they can about the business, especially in the beginning of your career, so you have a holistic view of how a film is made. 

    It was important for me to wear many different hats on set. Having done these jobs, I have so much respect for all the departments. I know how physical and challenging the grips and electrical (G&E) department can be, and how essential they are in contributing to the director of photography’s view. 

    As an actress, I’m much more consistent and self-aware about continuity. That happened only after I was a script supervisor and had to take note of how full the wine glass was or its exact position on the table for every take. I learned similar things as a production designer and when I worked in the wardrobe department. All of this knowledge is tremendously helpful to my performance when I’m in front of the camera.

    For a year I explored all the different jobs on film sets and I realized I had to choose which department I liked the most and wanted to work with. I decided to be an actress and producer.

    As a producer I’m able to produce my own projects and cast myself in them. This gives me a certain amount of control over my career as an actress. I can also create my own voice with stories I think will inspire people. Being a producer has enabled me to meet a lot of people in different departments in the industry. The breadth of my extended network has helped me enormously as a producer when I’m casting my crew.

    As an actress, I want to be in a feature film. To that end I’m writing a feature film (In Search Of) inspired by my life. I want to say to all my international friends that it doesn’t matter where you are located as long as you keep doing what you love. I’m writing in collaboration with other screenwriters, both here in Los Angeles and internationally.

    Sabrina Percario in "Tell"

    Sabrina Percario in “Tell”

    I recommend trying out different departments if you still don’t know what you want to be. Become familiar with the universe behind the camera and then choose a route. Once you decide where you fit in, people will begin to associate your name with that specific department.

    NYFA: Is there something you haven’t done on a film yet that you’d like to try?

    SP: I would love to direct a film one day, but right now I want to have more experience producing one.

    NYFA: You’ve won a litany of awards for your work already. Your projects Tell, I.C.E. CREAM and Breaking are the latest to gain recognition. Can you talk a little about these projects and your roles in them?

    SP: My recent projects that I produced are still in the film festival circuit. My latest films are Breaking and I.C.E. CREAM. Breaking is a fable — it’s the inspiring story of a porcelain doll who overcomes her fears and breaks out of her snow globe. Our purpose was to bring awareness about those who have suffered from sexual harassment. So far, we have won three festivals, two finalists, seven semi-finalists, and seven official selections.

    I.C.E. CREAM is another project I had the honor of producing. This film portrays the life of an immigrant family in this new Trump era. Our purpose was to bring awareness about the collateral lives affected by the immigration policies in place. So far, we have won nine awards. 

    My overall purpose in my films is to touch people’s hearts, inspire them, and spread a good, positive message through the characters I play and the films I produce.

    Tell is a film in which I played the lead actress. Its logline reads: Expecting a visit from his ex, a once-famous alcoholic writer decides to play a game of shoot the apple, until the truth of tragedy unveils the outcome of his intentions. For that film I won three awards as best leading actress.

    "Breaking" produced by Sabrina Percario. Actress/ writer/Executive Producer: Alessandra Hajaj - Sabrina Percario

    “Breaking” produced by Sabrina Percario. Actress/ writer/Executive Producer: Alessandra Hajaj

    NYFA: Which of your many projects was the easiest for you to work on and why? Which was the most difficult?

    SP: Breaking was an easy project to produce because it was shot entirely in one location and the crew and cast had an amazing professionalism and respect for each other. Everything went smoothly. Julia was very challenging for me because I was doing the film as a tribute to my Mom, who died four years ago. When I made the film I was still grieving, and it was very hard for me at that time to accept the loss. I was playing myself in the film, so I channeled all my pain and feelings through the character. It was therapeutic to write, produce, and act in that film, and it helped me to accept loss. It gave me the opportunity to express my love in a poetic way.

    NYFA: What other projects are you working on?

    SP: I’m currently working on Mojave Shadows, in which I play the lead. Its logline reads: A woman named Susan hikes in the middle of the Mojave Desert while coming to terms with guilt about the death of her son. One night she is attacked by a rattlesnake, and in the harrowing process, finds herself. 

    I’m also producing another project called El Fred. Its logline reads: A not-so-imaginary childhood friend returns as an unusual vigilante to protect a struggling single mother and her bullied son. And in December I’ll produce my first documentary, about self-healing and self-knowledge.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that has applied directly to your career?

    SP: I’m very grateful to NYFA. Thanks to a very hands-on program, I was able to learn how a film works from script to final editing. I also learned that producing a film is a group effort, and each department is essential in creating a coherent film. There are no small roles. I learned that it’s very important to respect your co-workers.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    SP: Be professional. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a class assignment or a student project, you will graduate with your friends and they will be in the film industry with you. Instead of just making a connection, work on building relationships. Be responsible and reliable. Most importantly, ask yourself every day why you’re doing what you are doing. Remember what it’s all about: this is your passion. It’s important to have a goal, a purpose. Pursue your dreams. Don’t let anyone say no to you. Believe in yourself and trust your instinct.

    I just want to say that I’m very grateful for NYFA. In less than a year I was already working in the film industry. That would not have been possible without the kindness and expertise of the wonderful and talented people at NYFA.

    The New York Film Academy thanks Sabrina Percario for her generous time and looks forward to following her continuing success! 

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    October 16, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1337

  • Q&A With 2018 Glendale International Film Festival Filmmakers

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    Looking for something to watch this week?  Look no further than the Glendale Laemmle!  Several films by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni are official selections of the Glendale International Film Festival coming up October 5-12, 2018.  

    NYFA spoke with filmmakers Buffy Milner, Gabriele Fabbro, Rudy Womack, Diego Vicentini, and Boise Esquerra right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences:

    Type by Buffy Milner, Fall 2015 BFA Acting for Film
    Screens October 6, 2018, at 2pm

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): Tell us about your film, Type.

    Buffy Milner (BM): Type is a coming of age story about the social struggles of a girl recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BM: My classes at NYFA gave me the tools and knowledge that I needed to be able to write and produce my film and much of the pre-production elements, outside of the acting, that I was clueless about before I went to NYFA. The teachers that helped me the most were outside of class, during consultations: Christopher Cass, my thesis advisor, and Joe Basille.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BM: I have won nine awards for my film in festivals, but this is my first live event for Type. I am very excited about having the screening and getting to show my film to others.

    Type

    Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Gabriele Fabbro, BFA Filmmaking Fall 2015
    Screens October 7, 2018 at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Gabriele Fabbro (GF): Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is a narrative music video based on one of the most famous songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The story revolves around a confused young man who has to reject his top-model girlfriend in order to follow his true love. With the music as the driving force of the story, the film aims to break the common conception of “soundtracks perceived as accompaniment to the visual”.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    GF: Past mistakes definitely have been the key to success of this film. I was lucky to work with one of the most talented casts and crews at NYFA. The film would have been a total disaster if it wasn’t for my DP Brandon Lattman, my assistant director Kelvin Shum, and my lead actors Derek Andrew Ramsay and Ydalie Turk. I’m very thankful to my directing instructor Andres Rosende, who taught me how to simplify complex concepts.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    GF: I’ve had two other projects shown at the Glendale Festival. One in 2016, and in 2017 my intermediate film won “Best Student Film”. I’ve worked for the festival throughout 2018. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend this year’s screening. I’ll be shooting a feature documentary in Italy during the festival period. I hope my cast and crew will attend and do some networking. I’m always nervous to watch one of my films on a theatre. I’ve been to over 40 festivals now and that fear still doesn’t leave me.

    Can't Take My Eyes Off You

    In This Gray Place by Rudy Womack, MFA Filmmaking; produced by Radhika Womack, 1-Year Producing

    Screens October 10, 2018, at 8pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Rudy Womack (RW): In This Gray Place is a feature, a psychological thriller about Aaron, a petty criminal who is involved in a robbery gone wrong. Wounded and surrounded by police, he barricades himself in a rest stop bathroom.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    RW: Just about everyone involved with the project I met at NYFA! The lead actor, Aleksander Ristic, was in the MFA Acting program alongside me in the filmmaking department. I also met the Director of Photography, Naeem Seirafi, at NYFA. He was in the Cinematography school.  And, of course, my wife Radhika Womack, who was in the Producing program at NYFA when we first met. All of my experience at NYFA taught me how to pre-plan every small detail. We were a very limited crew with limited resources, so planning was essential to the success of the film.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    RW: Glendale is a fantastic festival and we are very lucky to be a part of it. The caliber of the other films speaks volumes to the quality of the festival and the filmmakers involved. This is our 15th screening, so the nerves have finally gone away. After the first few screenings, I went back and fine-tuned the edit, so I’m very excited to share it with a couple of people who haven’t seen this version. And, of course, I can’t wait to show it to all my friends and colleagues who haven’t seen it yet

    In This Gray Place
    Simón
    by Diego Vicentini, Fall 16 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11th at 6:00pm at the Laemmle Glendale Theatre

    NYFA: Tell us about your film. 

    Diego Vicentini (DV): Simón tells the story of a young Venezuelan freedom fighter seeking political asylum in the United States after being persecuted by the Venezuelan government. Simón must then find a way to keep helping the cause from thousands of miles away.

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    DV: The screenwriting and directing classes were the ones that most helped propel the creation and execution of Simón. Gil McDonald from screenwriting read multiple drafts of the script, always helping guide the story to fulfill its potential, as well as urging us to write about something we were passionate about. Andres Rosende then helped to make sure the story was in good shape both in the writing and after, during post-production while I was editing.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?

    DV: I am looking forward to beginning the festival run of Simón, lucky to be able to have our first public screening in our own city of LA. I am also looking forward to spreading awareness about the dire situation that Venezuelans are going through right now through audiences watching the film.

    Simon

    Cowboy by Boise Esquerra, Fall 2015 MFA Filmmaking

    Screens Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 10pm

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.  

    Boise Esquerra (BE): Cowboy is a short drama produced and filmed in the surrounding Burbank area and the Santa Clarita valley. It’s about a bitter, lonely cowboy who is set at ease after crossing paths with a promiscuous female vagabond. 

    NYFA: How did your experience at the New York Film Academy prepare you to make it?

    BE: From the get go, NYFA provides a multitude of hands-on exercises and projects for you to delve right into, allowing for much learning, practice, and most importantly, learning from your mistakes. These lessons are invaluable because they allow you to progress in your craft, so long as you take each one seriously. In particular, towards my final semesters, instructors like Tony Schwartz, James Pasternak, and Greg Marks helped me to reel in everything I learned and apply it to a solid project. Cowboy was the end result.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at Glendale International Film Festival?  

    BE: I am looking forward to the screening itself!

    Cowboy

    The New York Film Academy congratulates our filmmakers and wishes them the best of luck! For more information about screenings and tickets, click HERE.

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    October 5, 2018 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 876

  • Student Perspective: NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event 

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    Andres Vergara is a Spring 2018 MFA Screenwriting student at New York Film Academy (NYFA). On September 8, he and over two dozen other students from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus attended the NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event. Vergara found time between his classes and writing his screenplays to recount the event in his own words:

    Diversity took over at the NewFilmmakers LA Latinx and Hispanic Cinema Event this eighth of September. Hundreds of guests got together at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater as proof that opportunities are opening up for filmmakers from different backgrounds to share their points of view with an audience always hungry for unique stories that showcase different cultures. It began with a wonderful reception where delegations from many different film schools got a chance to mingle and take photos on the red carpet. The New York Film Academy group was strong as students from different ethnicities joined their Latinx and Hispanic peeps to celebrate diversity.

    Once everyone got a seat in the theater, the first panel was announced and five amazing people from the industry walked onstage to share stories, points of view, and advice. The panel included: Nicole Levy, writerNewFilmmakers LA Latinx Event for Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger; Frank Gonzales, Executive in Charge of Diversity at the DGA; Richard Ray Perez, from Sundance; Hebe Tabachnik, Programmer at the Seattle and Palms Springs International Film Festivals; and Catherine Hardwicke; Director of Twilight and the acclaimed Thirteen. This very diverse group (not only in their background, but in their jobs) gave guests insight into how the Hollywood Industry is changing. Even though it is getting more and more competitive, it is uplifting to know there are also more and more people willing to make a bet on new, different voices.

    The second panel comes up. Five amazing Latinas who are taking a stand, not only for their origin, but for their gender, take the stage. Even from a male point of view, it is inspirational to know that the industry is making room for women who are quickly rising to the top: Paula Sabbaga, writer for CW’s Dynasty; Roxanne Pompa, VP for International Formats at CBS; Greta Talia Fuentes, Creative Executive at MACRO; Edith Mendoza, SVP for Comedy Development at CBS; and Alejandra Reyes Rocha, Television Literary at UTA. These great role models for women and Hispanics alike talked about how they got where they are, discussing the many options that exist for diversity and showing their support for upcoming filmmakers. They encouraged us to have a sense of community in which we help each other out as fellow Latinx.

    NewFilmmakers LA Latinx EventAfter an enriching Q&A, we were invited back to the lobby to have great Mexican food, accompanied by Latin music to keep up the mood. And after another chance for networking, even with some of the guest speakers, the showcase finally began. Filmmakers from countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, the United States, Mexico, and my native Colombia—among others—screened amazing short films that showed unique stories and points of view that all cinephiles can love. From romance to sci-fi and a compelling documentary about a Peruvian farmer, the productions made the audience applaud the talent of emerging Hispanic filmmakers.

    NewFilmmakers LA is very much committed to creating a platform for new talent, and whether you are a director, a writer, a cinematographer, or even if you are more into TV than film, they make sure that their events are a well-rounded and fulfilling experience in which guests can enjoy different pieces and hear from those who are making their way through the industry. Not to mention, it is a perfect opportunity for meeting colleagues. My ethnicity encouraged me to attend one of their events for the first time, but my love for films and my admiration for their initiative will have their monthly events in my schedule from now on.

    Written by Andres Vergara

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    October 4, 2018 • Community Highlights, Diversity, Filmmaking • Views: 424

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Grads Celebrate With an Industry Pitch Fest

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    It was that time of year once more as graduating BFA New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held at the penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by the astounding views of Los Angeles.Screenwriting Pitch Fest Sept 2018

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

    These exceptional writing students spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting classes working with instructor Jerry Shandy in conjunction with Faculty Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and other members of the Screenwriting Department, preparing and fine-tuning their pitches. They were also joined by a stellar Screenwriting alum that night. The Pitch Fest shared the venue with an equally impressive event by NYFA’s Producing school.

    The students’ dedication and passion for their work was on display 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 school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, their hard work paid off as the talented and creative students pitched agents, managers, studios, and digital, VR, TV, and film production company executives in a relaxed, roundtable environment.

    Screenwriting Pitch Fest Sept 2018Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Adam Finer, the Pitch Fest featured representatives from Hollywood companies including: Jim Henson Company, MGM, Practical Magic, Verve, Rain Management, Little Studio Films, Tremendum Pictures, and Gulfstream Pictures.

    The New York Film Academy wishes to thank all of its participants, particularly our industry guests, without whom this evening could not have been possible. NYFA also extends a big congratulations to all of our BFA graduates and wishes them the best of luck as they move forward in their professional journeys!

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    September 26, 2018 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 522

  • 2018 New York Film Academy (NYFA) Summer Camps Were An “Incredible Experience”

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    Another school year beginning means another summer must come to an end, but for many young students, it was a summer they’ll never forget. These students spent their summer break at New York Film Academy’s various camp programs, getting to meet new people from around the globe and studying fun, artistic skills that may lead them (eventually, no rush!) to exciting, prosperous careers!

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) offers summer camps to both kids and teenagers in a variety of fields. Teen camps are located around the world, including New York City, Miami, Harvard University, Paris, Australia, and Florence, Italy. Los Angeles Summer Camps 2018

    Each teen camp is built around a challenging and intensive curriculum that combines in-class instruction with faculty-supervised workshops using the same state-of-the-art equipment professionals and NYFA’s adult students use. In between these rigorous but fun exercises, students bond over exciting, supervised activities.

    This year, at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, located in the heart of Hollywood, over 600 students attended the kids and teens camps offered. Students arrived from all over the world, many of them returning for their second, third, and even fourth summers running! Camps that ran included Filmmaking, Acting for Film, Screenwriting, 3D Animation, Music Video, Photography, Documentary, and Game Design.

    One of the perks of NYFA’s Los Angeles campus includes unique access to the Backlot of Universal Studios, where campers could shoot and act in their film projects. The backlot includes famous sets of Mexico, Western, Colonial St, Elm St., Log Cabin, Europe, Courthouse Square — featured in blockbuster movies like Back to the Future and Nightmare on Elm Street.Los Angeles Summer Camps 2018

    At the end of each camp, which ranged from one to eight weeks, students screened or presented their work at NYFA’s main school building, along with popcorn and a red carpet step-and-repeat photo session.

    “Teaching with the summer program is the best!” remarked instructor Jason Crossman. 

    Fellow camp instructor Bruce MacWilliams agreed, adding “I really enjoyed teaching the kids and teens this summer! It was a lot of work, but very rewarding!”

    Students that stayed overnight during the camps stayed at Toluca Hills, where NYFA faculty, counselors, and RAs supervised pool parties and game nights. Other activities the students participated in between workshop classes included going to theme parks like Universal Studios, Six Flags, and Disneyland. 

    Campers also visited Santa Monica, The Grove, The Americana, and Universal CityWalk. Other activities included laser tag, bowling, mini golf, video arcades, karaoke, dance classes, and tie-dye sessions.

    Los Angeles Summer Camps 2018

    Photography Campers Exhibit Their Work

    New York Film Academy, famous for its guest speakers and Q&As with industry leaders and professionals, had two such events specifically for the teen campers. The award-winning documentary High School 9-1-1 was screened, followed by a Q&A with director Tim Warren and producer Kelli Joan Bennett. And John Altschuler, co-creator of the HBO hit comedy Silicon Valley, spoke with students as well.

    Many students couldn’t hold back their gratitude for their summer to remember. “Thank you so much for everything,” said camper Gemma Penglase, continuing, “the camp has been the most incredible experience, and I loved every moment of it and I will definitely be back.”

    Jade Klacko, another camper, shared a similar sentiment, adding, “On a personal note, I wanted to express my gratitude to you and to everyone responsible at NYFA for making my time so memorable.” Klacko went on, “I wanted to say that it was one of the best experiences of my life and I was so sad to leave to go back to Florida and say goodbye. You run such an amazing program and I am so thankful that I got to experience this three-week summer program at NYFA.”

    Interested in attending New York Film Academy’s kids & teen camps next summer? You can check out more information here!

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    September 20, 2018 • Community Highlights, Summer Camps • Views: 348

  • Q&A With New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Horacio Martinez

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    Horacio Martinez graduated from New York Film Academy’s 1-Year Cinematography program last year, but the hard-working lover of film finds education everywhere he goes. That includes everything he learns whole on set, where his work ethic and passion for cinema has made him a valuable asset to any film crew.

    Martinez really spoke with NYFA about his time at the Academy’s Los Angeles campus and his work on a feature film starring Ed Asner as 2nd AC. In addition to all the technical skills he’s picked up along the way, Martinez stresses that human relationships between the crew and between fellow students and instructors are just as important when forging your career in film.Horacio Martinez

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What was the journey that lead you to the New York Film Academy? 

    Horacio Martinez (HM): Movies have been a part of my life ever since I was kid. I’ve always related episodes or experiences in my life with films. In my teenage years, I developed a curiosity about photography. At the same time, I worked as a composer for short films and various behind-the-scenes for photographers and videographers. After I moved to the USA from Venezuela, I explored my passion for photography, doing a lot of Urbex (Urban Exploration). It was a wonderful experience and I got to know every corner of the city. 

    I felt I needed something beyond urban and landscape photography. After doing some research, I decided to pursue my original dream of trying to find a place in the industry of visual storytelling. I found NYFA as my home as a professional, and also as a human being. Cinematography really changed my perception of life, my surroundings, the way I see and analyze problems to opportunities, and everyday life. 

    NYFA: Why did you choose NYFA’s 1-Year Cinematography program?

    HM: Cinematography, in my opinion, is the perfect marriage between technology and art. It is a very passionate career. We have to be chameleons and adaptable. We have to get into people’s minds (in most cases, the director’s) and meticulously dissect their thoughts and ideas, and then translate them into reality with the use of wonderful, amazing tools. Technology can help us in solving problems and achieving a unique look for each film. 

    I looked at the instructors, all the subjects and the approaches to cinematography, and found that the 1-Year Cinematography program was a great match. I needed to formalize my education, and open my eyes professionally about the craft itself. Since I’m in my 30s, I am hungry to go out and explore the world of filmmaking and find the right path to success. 

    NYFA: What were your favorite moments at NYFA?

    HM: Getting to know all of my classmates and people from other departments that share the same passion as me about storytelling. Forging relationships and earning people’s respect one day at a time.

    I loved all of my classes, so it is very hard for me to choose one specific favorite instructor or class. They were all shaping my life as a cinematographer and making me a different person since the day I started. All the classes are of equal importance. All the instructors are very passionate professionals that really care about teaching not only their knowledge, but also personal experiences that really helped me to have a better understanding about the craft of cinematography, and the protocol and relationships in the industry. 

    NYFA: Shortly after graduating, you had the opportunity to work on an independent feature film as the 2nd Assistant Camera (2nd AC). Can you tell us about that?

    HM: That was an amazing opportunity and I am really thankful for it. When I was at NYFA, one of my main priorities was to create strong relationships not only between my classmates and fellow students, but also between me and the instructors. In this case, Anthony B. Richmond ASC, BSC called me on a Saturday afternoon, asking me if I could join his son Gaston on a low budget feature film starring Ed Asner. I immediately said yes. At first, I couldn’t believe that I got a personal phone call from Tony himself asking me if I could work with his son.

    Everything turned out amazing, and I really learned a lot about all the duties of a 2nd AC in the real world. Of course, what I learned at NYFA was a huge influence on my workflow. 

    NYFA: As the 2nd AC and media manager, what were your responsibilities on the film? 

    HM: My first priority was to be invisible. That’s a thought that I always had with me while working on set. Invisible to the point that I had to make the 1st AC’s — Gaston Richmond’s — job easy. I had to keep the department afloat. Everything has a domino effect. If one tiny little thing breaks, falls, or is not charged, then the department could be delayed big time, so anticipation was key. 

    I also needed to keep the camera in order, keep all the batteries charged, keep track of all the rolls that we shot and what day they were shot. When things flow smoothly, it’s thanks to order, organization, and protocol. 

    I also had to change lenses in extreme situations, and change camera magazines. I had to run blocks and blocks down the street during a massive heatwave in order to back up the files to three hard drives at the same time, while keeping in constant communication with the Sound Mixer to also get the sound files and back them up in the proper way.

    Gaston was a great mentor, and I really learned a lot from him. He gave me great support, and helped me keep things in balance with the thousands of details that people assume are going to be taken care of. It is true that no one is going to tell you how to do your job at first, but I saw that as an opportunity to show them who I really was and all that I knew. 

    NYFA: Were there any specific challenges for the camera department on this film? How did you handle those issues? 

    HM: There were a lot of challenges like I mentioned before, but being a 2nd AC is a challenge itself. You are the base of the camera department, the one that keeps everything running smoothly. If you take care of the details, people will trust that you will do your job.

    My first focus was to have a great relationship with my department. We are a team, and we all wanted to have things moving forward smoothly. My relationship on set with Gaston (1st AC), was really important since he and I were working so closely. As I said, he was very reliable, incredibly supportive on set, and a great guy with a great personality. With a good attitude and always keeping our cool, we solved any challenges that we had to overcome.

    It is also extremely important to have a good relationship with every single department on the project. You never know when someone will have to help you, and basically save your life. I also offered myself as help to other departments when needed.

    Life on set is not easy, it is basically creating art out of chaos. That’s why it is extremely important to have good relationships with everyone, have a great attitude, a good sense of humor. Be humble at all times, and ask for help when you need it. These factors will help you overcome all the challenges on set. 

    1st AC Gaston Richmond and 2nd AC Horacio MartinezNYFA: Did your classes at NYFA prepare you for working on a professional set? 

    HM: Definitely. 100% of the material, cinematography practicums, and classes that I had at NYFA were of huge help, especially when it came to actually knowing my role. You have to respect the protocol of communication between members of your department, and with other departments as well.

    I never felt out of place, and I spoke the same language as the DP. This was especially helpful when we had to be very technical, with camera resolution, lenses, filters, white balance, etc. 

    NYFA: What advice would you give to current students about starting their careers? 

    HM: Never doubt yourself. Always be yourself. Be willing to learn, because one of the most exciting things about this career is learning about new technologies, developing skills to solve problems, and experimenting with different looks. This is not a 9-to-5 career, and every day is not the same. The challenge is how to adapt ourselves, and use our personality and creativity to leave our mark and identity in the visual story we are telling. 

    NYFA: What projects do you have coming up next? 

    HM: Right now, my mission is to join projects that will help me develop my skills and become a better professional. I hope to join the camera union (Local 600) in the near future. I want to learn, I want to meet people, and create bridges and relationships.

    In the meantime, I am prepping a music video and a couple of short films with great directors, all of them out of NYFA. 

     

    The New York Film Academy thanks Horacio Martinez for speaking about his experiences and looks forward to the future successes his drive, passion, and hard work will undoubtedly bring him!

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    September 17, 2018 • Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 494

  • Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku Speak with New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On July 25, 2018, the New York Film Academy (NYFA), hosted a screening of the film Downrange and a Q&A with Japanese director and writer, Ryûhei Kitamura, and Albanian composer, Aldo Shllaku, moderated by NYFA screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner. Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku

    Kitamura began his career by founding his own independent production company in Japan called Napalm Films. His first mainstream success was a film called Versus (2000) and he went on to direct a handful of other feature-length films including an adaptation of the manga series Azumi (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). In 2008, Kitamura made his American filmmaking debut with Midnight Meat Train, based on the short story by Clive Barker and starring Bradley Cooper. 

    Shllaku is a classically trained composer; you can hear his work in films and on television in productions such as Spider-Man 3, David and Goliath, Kill ‘Em All, Lupin the Third, The Blue Hour and many more.

    Conner opened up the Q&A by asking Kitamura and Shllaku how they got started.

    Kitamura responded, “I grew up watching movies; I even didn’t go to much of the school when I was [in] like elementary school or junior high. I was always at the movie theater, so when I was like 17 I just thought about…what I want to do in my life and naturally…film directing [was] the only thing I wanted to do.”

    Kitamura eventually decided to move to Australia, the home of one of his favorite directors, Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, Resident Evil: Extinction), where he studied filmmaking at the School of Visual Art in Sydney. Kitamura was disappointed to find that his fellow students were not interested in action and horror like he was, so after he finished school he decided to move back to Japan where he would go on to launch his film career.

    Shllaku started his career in Greece to avoid the political turmoil due to the rise of communism in his native Albania. He then moved to Canada where he studied film and composition.

    Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo ShllakuShllaku explained, “[Working globally] does have an impact, first of all, of the cinema of those respective countries and also from the music perspective. I’ve worked in nightclubs in Greece, in Montreal, in New York…so different type[s] of cultures, different type[s] of music…even though I’m classically trained…I absorbed certain things wherever I lived…because they become part of you.”

    Conner asked Kitamura to discuss the making of Versus, a low-budget horror movie that quickly became a cult hit.

    Kitamura answered, “I knew that I had something in me and I just had to show it to the world…I wrote the script…I went to every single studio, producer, everybody…like 300 places and everybody ignored me…somehow that didn’t stop my passion so I ended up calling friends…and I started asking for money.”

    Kitamura was able to raise about $50,000 this way. When the money started to run out, he called his friends again to keep the production going. When the film was finally done shooting, Kitamura went to one of the top editors in Japan and brazenly asked him to edit the film digitally for free, promising to pay him “when he got famous.” The editor, amused and impressed by Kitamura’s confidence, agreed and the two worked together on a number of projects afterward, including Godzilla: Final Wars. Q&A with Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku

    Kitamura and Shllaku stressed to the audience that these types of relationships are the lifeblood of the entertainment industry; you have to like the people you work with because you spend hours, days, and weeks together on set, but also because good working relationships can lead to more jobs in the future.

    All of our students, including our many Japanese students, were excited to have Ryûhei Kitamura and Aldo Shllaku as guests at NYFA Los Angeles. The New York Film Academy thanks them for their generous time and for sharing their experiences.

    For Japanese students and schools that would like more information about NYFA programs please contact Noriko Yoshida. Phone: +1-917-570-2375 (USA) Email: noriko@nyfa.edu

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    September 14, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 288