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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Partners with LA Animal Services for Photo Shoot

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Outreach and NYFA’s Photography department recently collaborated with Los Angeles Animal Services to help get some of their animals adopted into homes.

    LA Animal Services provides care to found or surrendered pets by housing them in one of six city shelters located throughout the city. The organization has a fleet of volunteers that work with the animals on a daily basis to help get them adopted and into caring homes. One of the most useful tools for adoption is good photographs of the pets, so those interested in adopting can see the animals online. LA Animal Services intakes nearly 164,000 animals a year and any help they can get supporting their outreach and adoption possibilities is important.LA Animal Services 2018

    NYFA’s Photography department brought 16 Photography students to the East Valley Animal Shelter on June 20th and set up several backdrops and lights to capture adorable images of the most underlooked dogs, cats, and bunnies at the shelter. The students had the opportunity to work with the animals and their handlers and produced beautifully lit images. 

    Amanda Rowan, a member of the NYFA-LA Photography Department faculty, remarked, “As somebody who cares deeply for animals, it was wonderful planning this shoot with my Applied Photography class.” She continued, “It was a great lesson in producing a shoot and working with unpredictable clients (the animals). Learning to light and work under these conditions is a great skill to have.”

    NYFA students and everyone involved had a very positive experience working with LA Animal Services. This semester, a new group of NYFA students and alumni have signed up to donate their time to produce short Public Service Announcements (PSAs) about pet adoption and care with LA Animal Services. Mason Richards, Chair of NYFA Community Outreach, stated: “We’re excited to continue the partnership with LA Animal Services with the video PSAs, and also to continue the work of filmmaker and activist Julie ‘JD’ Disalvatore.” 

    Richards added, “It’s so exciting to see our NYFA student body, faculty, and staff sharing their talents for a greater purpose.”

    The New York Film Academy spoke in further detail with three others involved with the LA Animal Services photo shoot. Denise Carlson is a NYFA-LA Producing instructor who is also a pet owner and advocate for animal safety. She connected LA Animal Services with NYFA C.A.R.E.S. — which is part of NYFA Community Outreach. Brenda F. Barnette is the General Manager for LA Animal Services, and Ashley Rodriguez is their Public Relations Specialist:


    LA Animal Services 2018


    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What are the primary services that LA Animal Services provides? Why are these services important?

    Brenda F. Barnette (BB): We provide shelter to lost animals until we are able to reunite them with their owners and help stray pets find their new homes.  We offer free spay/neuter services to low-income LA City residents and discount coupons to any City resident for three dogs, three cats, and three bunnies per household. Additionally, the community can visit their nearest shelter location to adopt, foster, and license and microchip their pet.

    Ashley Rodriguez (AR): You can adopt your best friends at our Animal Services Centers. All of our pets are spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated upon adoption. For those whose pets aren’t spayed or neutered yet, we have free or discount spay/neuter vouchers available to help you get your pet fixed. It’s healthier for them and helps reduce unwanted litters. We also have an amazing team of Animal Control Officers that work out in the field and conduct animal rescues if there is ever a cat stuck in a tree, a raccoon stuck on a roof, or a horse who has fallen into a ditch and can’t get out on its own. 

    NYFA: Denise, how did you get involved with LA Animal Services?

    Denise Carlson (DC): I have been involved in animal rescue for many years, networking animals who need homes, raising money, and doing what I can to help. I usually foster a litter of kittens every year, and two of my dogs are actually fosters. The shelters generally do a great job, but they can’t do it alone — there is so much need, and when you look at the faces of the animals there who don’t have homes it is heartbreaking. The staff and volunteers at LA Animal Services are amazing, and they really appreciate whatever you can do. It is just a very worthwhile organization and NYFA can be proud to work with them. This is a way to really make a difference in the community. 

    NYFA: Why do you think its important to volunteer?LA Animal Services 2018

    DC: In general, there are nothing but positives about volunteering.  When you volunteer you are not just giving a gift to the organization, you are also giving a gift to yourself — it is so satisfying to know you have done something worthwhile! We in the creative community can use our talents in ways that others may not be able to in order to help. Taking photos of shelter pets can help them get noticed and adopted more quickly; making videos about life at the shelter, adoption, how to bring new pets into your home, etc., can make all the difference. You are literally saving lives by helping, and there is nothing better than that!

    NYFA: What are some misconceptions that people may have about pet adoption? Why is it important to make people aware of the issues affecting animals?

    BB: A common misconception is that all shelter animals are broken — and that’s far from the truth. At our LA Animal Services Centers, we have a variety of pets in all sizes, ages, and breeds, just waiting for us to find them a new home of their own. There are life circumstances that may put a pet owner in a position where they must re-home their animal because they have no other option. That pet was raised by a kind person, lived with a family, and knows to trust people. It’s then our job to transition that pet into a new home. Another common misconception is that animal shelter staff view their duties as only a job and do not care for animals. Our staff are extremely dedicated to the animals in our care and the people that we serve. They care compassionately, advocate actively, and work tirelessly to insure the best possible environment for all animals.

    AR: A common misconception I see often is that people can’t believe that they can find a purebred or non-shedding dog at a shelter. We want to encourage all people to visit their local animal shelter before going to the pet store or looking for a breeder. We have amazing cats, dogs, bunnies, and we also have turtles, birds, snakes, guinea pigs, hamsters, roosters, and more available for adoption now! Adopting from a shelter gives the pet you take home a second chance at living a great life and provides space at the shelter for an incoming pet.

    NYFA: What can you say about Julie “JD” Disalvatore’s contribution to LA Animal Services? Why is it important to continue her tradition since her passing? 

    LA Animal Services 2018DC: I met JD through a friend who knew we were both interested in animal rescue. I was completely blown away by her. JD was a very talented filmmaker, and when I met her she was battling terminal cancer. She did not focus on herself, though, instead she devoted her remaining time on earth to helping save animals. She was at the shelters all the time taking pictures of animals who needed homes, she worked on videos for the shelter, and was always an outspoken advocate for them. She would go from chemo sessions to the shelter to help, she did not let anything stop her. JD was a force of nature, and she made a tremendous difference.  When she died it was incredibly sad, but also a real loss for the shelter pets, and I realized that her legacy had to be continued somehow, so I thought it would be a perfect match for NYFA students to be able to do something so valuable and also keep JD’s spirit alive.

    NYFA: How do you feel about the partnership between NYFA-Los Angeles Community Outreach and LA Animal Services? What are some of the benefits for the students as well as your organization?

    BB: We are very excited to be partnering with NYFA-Los Angeles Community Outreach. This is a win-win for the animals, the department, and the students. This partnership helps us artistically communicate our mission to the community while providing the students lessons and opportunities to practice their art.

    AR: We love it! It really is great to be able to partner with the NYFA-Los Angeles Community Outreach team of professors and students to highlight all the great work our staff and volunteers do every day for animals in LA. The students get the chance to work with animals, learn about our services, and help us share very important messages about animal care and welfare at the same time.

    The New York Film Academy looks forward to working with LA Animal Services every semester, using our photography skills and resources to get animals into homes! If you’re interested in adopting or fostering a pet from LA Animal Services, you can find more information here. 

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    August 13, 2018 • Outreach, Photography • Views: 151

  • Q&A With High School 9-1-1’s Tim Warren and Kelli Joan Bennett


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    The New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus welcomed director Tim Warren and producer Kelli Joan Bennett for a Q&A following a screening of their award-winning, impactful documentary, High School 9-1-1 for summer high school students. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter moderated the event.

    The doc follows a year in the life of the members of EMS-Post 53, a volunteer student-run ambulance service in the small town of Darien, Connecticut, where Warren himself had volunteered as a senior in high school. 

    Tim Warren is an American film and television producer whose credits include popular reality programs such as Bar Rescue, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and more. Kelli Joan Bennett is an actor and writer, who recently produced and starred in the feature crime-thriller Collusions, alongside Tom Everett Scott. Together, Warren and Bennett formed Boomerang Production Media in 1996, and it was under this banner that High School 9-1-1 was ultimately produced. 

    Laiter started the night off by inquiring after Warren’s motivation for pursuing the film, so many years after he had experienced life at Post 53. “I was sort of thinking,” he explained, “if I die tomorrow, what would I regret not doing? And ultimately, I always thought about doing a documentary on this organization that was so positively impactful on my life. And even though I didn’t go into the medical field, the things that I learned on the ambulance thirty plus years ago, I still use today as a producer and director.”Tim Warren and Kelli Joan Bennett

    Many of these lessons, Warren noted, came in the form of mantras from the organization’s beloved founder, Bud Doble. “One of them was, ‘Be prepared for what you find, but be prepared to change your mind.’ And that applies to not only when you’re on the ambulance, but when you’re in television and film.” Warren went on to paraphrase, “You need to have a plan. You need to have an idea of what you want to do. But you can’t be so married to that plan that you either miss a greater opportunity, or don’t see a problem that’s coming at you.”

    Over the course of several years following their almost year-long stage of principal photography, that lesson would come into play in more ways than one. The first cut of High School 9-1-1 was upwards of six hours, followed soon thereafter by a two-hour cut. After screening the film for an audience, and being told it was still too long, the two of them cut it down by another fifteen minutes. “We submitted the one hundred and four minute cut to the top ten film festivals,” Warren began. “We were [resoundingly] rejected. So we’re now seven, eight years into this process, a mountain of debt, and nobody loves us.” 

    Warren and Bennett returned to their professional lives for a time, until their collective spark was reignited after Bennett ran into the program director for the LA Film Festival. “The program director says, ‘Oh, I remember that film — great film. Too long. But don’t give up on that film.’ And she said that the film needed to be under 90 minutes. So, that reinvigorated us.”

    The pair then cut the film down to 86 minutes and launched a successful festival tour, screening at Heartland, Kansas City, New Haven, and more, as a part of the American Film Showcase program. After nearly ten years put into the project, its success was well-deserved. But documentary film, as Warren later attests, isn’t necessarily about success.

    “The thing with documentary that I always say is… you have to be really passionate about the subject matter.  And you have to go in pretty much knowing that it’s not your ticket to riches… If you’re thinking about doing a documentary, you have this feeling that, ‘I have to tell this story, and I’m going to tell this story — really — at any cost.’” 

    High School 9-1-1 is currently on a world-wide tour, screening at high schools and within communities, with the ultimate intention of “empowering young people through responsibility.” For behind the scenes, screening information, and more, visit here.

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    August 9, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 708

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students Win At Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival

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    The theater lights dimmed, the first frames of film flickered across the screen, and the orchestra played their opening bars. Orchestra? Yes, orchestra, for this wasn’t just any film screening. This was the Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival, a celebration of the relationship between film and music, and that was the Helix Collective playing live as the films screened. 

    Held on July 21, 2018 at the Barnsdall Art Park Gallery Theatre, the festival featured the works of Los Angeles area film students, including five New York Film Academy (NYFA) filmmakers. Festival director Sarah May Robinson paired each of them with a composer from the Academy of Scoring Arts who scored the shorts. 

    On the night of the event, host Brian Ralston of the SCOREcast interviewed each director/composer team, asking them to discuss the experience of being matched with a total stranger and what it was like to work together. Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival 2018

    Next, conductor Phil Popham picked up his baton and led the orchestra in a thrilling accompaniment for the films. Audiences were entertained by the films of NYFA directors Victoria Gagieva (Niara), Vicken Joulfayan (Liminal), Oliver Weinmann (The Pill), Nicolas Varela (Aphrodite), and Haily Lanyue Zhang and Majik Jingwei Zhou (Arrow and Oil). 

    But the excitement didn’t stop at the last “The End” because the audience was asked to vote for the Best Film and the Best Score. The tension was palpable as audience members texted in their choices. The winners for Best Film were Haily Lanyue Zhang and Majik Jingwei Zhou with Arrow and Oil, and their composer George Oldziey took Best Score. After their win, Zhang exclaimed, “I’m thrilled and excited! Now I have great expectations about launching into more film festivals!” 

    Zhou was also full of thanks, remarking, “I want to thank my parents. They supported me to come to the USA to study Filmmaking! Secondly, I want to thank my school. NYFA taught me so much knowledge about filmmaking and gave us this chance to represent the school in this festival. Especially, I want to thank my teachers Nick Sivakumaran, the Kohnen brothers — Matt Kohnen and Sean Kohnen — Carl Bartels, Sanora Bartels, Steve Morris. They are the best teachers, ever, ever!”

    Their prize was a free studio recording of the orchestra playing their composed score.

    All the filmmakers were winners, though, as each received a studio recording of their score for a nominal fee plus a free sound mix from Greenhouse Post.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates all the filmmakers and wishes them continued success in their film festival runs!

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    August 8, 2018 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 269

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Movie Magic Award Recipients Announced

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    New York Film Academy’s Katherin Hussein and Robert (Bobby) Gutierrez are the most recent recipients of Entertainment Partners’ Movie Magic Scholarship Producer Award. The scholarship is sponsored by Movie Magic, a software program for production professionals. Both students come from the Spring ’16 MFA Filmmaking Feature Track.

    Katherin Hussein is a Spring ’16 MFA Filmmaking graduate at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. Originally hailing from Venezuela, Katherin is currently in development on her first feature film, The Unfinished. The film is about a recently orphaned twelve-year-old who girl who must stop a monster before it destroys her mother’s legacy. The monster is from an unfinished painting.

    With this award, Katherin is recognized for her outstanding development effort on The Unfinished, including the creation of a beautifully crafted and visually powerful proof of concept to support her fundraising efforts.

    Robert (Bobby) Gutierrez is a Spring ’16 MFA Filmmaking graduate at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. A native of Wyoming, Bobby has an extensive background as both an actor and director on stage and in films. He is in development on his film directorial debut, Safe, about a death row inmate who relives his time spent with a wild young couple on a deadly crime spree across the badlands of Montana.

    Bobby is recognized for his outstanding development of the film’s script, adapted from a play by Ron Fitzgerald.  A consistently excellent and ambitious student, he is a very worthy recipient of this recognition.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Katherin and Bobby on their well-deserved awards and looks forward to the completion of their feature films and to all their future successes! 

    Interested in studying filmmaking? Check out more information on New York Film Academy’s programs here.

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    August 3, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 595

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design Camp Students Hold Demo Night

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    Game Design Demo Night Summer 2018
    On July 27, the six graduates of the 1-Week Game Design Camp celebrated a week of hard work and education with their very own Demo Night, showing off the different video games they had worked on putting together. The event was held at the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus.

    The five-day course the campers completed is intensive, especially for students as young as these, and covers every step of the process to design and build an original video game. “During this week,” stated Game Design Instructor Jeb Havens, “we worked on prototyping, coding, creating a story behind the game… and they came up with the games you see here.”

    Along the way, the students learned how the video games they grew up playing really work, and gained an appreciation for both the craft and the art of game design. The course taught them how to use the software Unity so they could each construct their own game.

    The students’ parents and relatives were invited to attend the Demo Night, along with counselors and campers from other courses, including Filmmaking, Photography, and Acting. Six computer stations were set up, each with one of the students’ games. Everyone invited had a chance to play the games.

    Some of the games were quite hard to beat, a testament to the hard work and design that went into their assembling. Parents were thrilled to be challenged by their kids’ skillfully crafted games. Many players kept trying over and over to beat the trickier games. The environment was energetic and fun all throughout the night.

    “I’m very impressed with what these students created in such a short amount of time,” Havens continued. “Building a game takes months and months of work, and what [the students] did here in only five days is impressive!”

    At the end of the night, and week-long course, each student left camp with a copy of their game, so they can have other friends and family members play it back home. The brief but intensive and hands-on Game Design camp can be a stepping stone to longer, more advanced programs in game coding and design. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates the 1-Week Game Design Camp students on their hard work and well-designed, challenging, fun, new games. 

    Interested in learning game design? Check out more information on New York Film Academy’s programs here!

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    August 1, 2018 • Community Highlights, Game Design • Views: 397

  • Beijing Normal University Students Attend New York Film Academy Workshop

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    This summer, fifteen students from Beijing Normal University (BNU) completed a 2-Week Filmmaking Workshop at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) at its Los Angeles campus. Learning many of the aspects of making a movie — including directing, producing, acting, screenwriting, cinematography, and lighting — the students were prepared to edit and complete their films.Beijing Normal University Students Study at NYFA

    The students found the process to be exhausting, but fulfilling, and were wowed by NYFA’s access to the Universal Studios Backlot, the world-famous lot where movies such as Back to the Future, American Beauty, and Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds have been filmed. Universal Studios has a special relationship with NYFA. Students have the unique opportunity to spectate the importance of “studio life” to the Los Angeles area up close and first-hand, while also getting the one-of-a-kind experience of shooting on the lot themselves.

    Some of the students from BNU were surprised at how much different the Hollywood film industry is from the Chinese film industry, despite many similarities. Chinese cinema has been around nearly as long as the medium of film itself, so as it evolves into the 21st century it is introducing decades of its own styles and techniques to both the global market and cultural landscape.

    Beijing Normal University Students Study at NYFAChina’s influence and importance to the cinematic arts is exactly why the New York Film Academy (NYFA) has established a presence there, having offered local workshops in Shanghai and Beijing. This summer, NYFA is hosting two workshops in the capital city. A 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop is currently in session this July, and another 1-Week Workshop will commence later in the summer.

    By coming from China to Los Angeles, the BNU students have been afforded a unique experience and process for learning the craft of filmmaking. The Beijing Normal University is a public research educational institute in China’s capital city, and, with over 20,000 current students, is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious universities.

    The BNU students were quite complimentary of NYFA’s instructional techniques, as well as its rich and colorful aesthetic. After the two-week program, which lasted from July 9 – July 20 and included producing, marketing, and publicity classes, they had learned how to successfully make their own film from start to finish, from pre-production all the way to distribution. 

    The BNU students screened their films at the end of the workshop. NYFA instructors were impressed with their creativity and storytelling chops. After the screening, the students remarked how touched they were by the instructors’ attention and care, as well as the comprehensive education they’d received along with hands-on experience and the lifetime memories of shooting on the Universal Studios backlot. Beijing Normal University Students Study at NYFA

    If you are interested in attending New York Film Academy’s filmmaking workshops, you can find more information here!

     

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    July 30, 2018 • International Diversity • Views: 525

  • “On the Other Side of the Wall” With Elizabeth Grimaldo

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    Elizabeth Grimaldo was already a household name in her native Panama when she came to study Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy, but since then her career has truly crossed international borders. Now based in Miami, the singer/songwriter and actress recently made her U.S. television debut on Telemundo NBC ’s Al Otro Lado Del Muro, tackling an intense storyline involving immigration, human trafficking, and unbreakable family love.

    Here, Elizabeth shares a bit of her amazing story with the NYFA Blog.

    Feliz Miercoles🌵🤗 📸: @mauricionovoaofficial

    A post shared by Elizabeth Grimaldo 🌻 (@lizagrimaldo) on

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    EG: I’ve been on TV since I was 12 years old as a singer, which is also my profession. It started in a national singing contest for kids (Canta Conmigo), which opened so many doors for my career in Panama. At the age of 15, I started acting in my first soap opera as the main character, and it was an amazing experience. My next big project, at the age of 18, was Romeo and Juliet the Musical as Juliet, at the national theater of Panama City. That was a dream come true, to perform there.

    That play turned on my hunger for the performing arts, and I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to this field. One month after the play finished, I went straight to the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us? Or did anything about your program particularly surprise and challenge you?

    EG: Many things were challenging. Acting is hard work, and not many people understand what it really takes to build a character who is nothing like you and convince an audience that it’s “real.”

    I remember one of my coaches, Michael, used to challenge me a lot — which I am grateful for, because I admire him as a person and professional. He was so passionate in every class, every detail, and most important, he wanted us to do what it takes to be great. He cared and wanted us to succeed. He told us once, “Imagine all the secrets that someone would need to know about you to play you perfectly.”

    That was the most challenging part for me, because I realized in that moment how far I was from knowing my character. I realized what it takes to do the job. It’s not acting; its life, and a lot of research.

    NYFA: Before coming to NYFA, you acted in Panama’s Summer Dreams. How has your process changed regarding performing, since your studies and other experiences in Miami?

    EG: It’s totally different. I started to act without having studied acting. Now that I have studied acting (which you never stop doing), I wish I could go back and do it again with what I know now. It’s been a satisfying and fun process.

    NYFA: For our international student community, can you offer any advice on studying in the U.S.? Can you tell us a little bit about your experience of coming from Panama to NYFA Los angeles?

    EG: It was the best decision of my life. It’s hard yes, but it’s so worth it.

    I know it’s scary to leave home and pursue a dream by yourself out there, but let me tell you something: it’s going to change your life in so many positive ways! I accept that I felt overwhelmed many times missing home and feeling lonely, but all those situations that I went through back then in Los Angeles made me the strong, independent, and passionate woman that I am today.

    NYFA made me grow as a professional and a human being. I learned so many things and I am grateful and happy for it.

    NYFA: How did your experience on Canta Conmigo come about? What was it like achieving second place?

    EG: It was amazing. It changed my life, basically. So many doors opened for me after. Since then my career in Panama has been accepted and successful, thanks Gob and to the people that has been supporting me since the beginning. I feel blessed that I have been able to represent my country in the U.S. and make them proud.

    NYFA: As a singer and musician, what most inspires your work?

    EG: I could say experiences, in every sense of word, which led me to start writing songs. It’s funny because that process started when I was at NYFA living by myself for the first time. I wrote my first songs back then.

    I use to think I couldn’t write lyrics, but I was wrong. Experiences are necessary to tell stories from the heart.

    But what inspires me the most is my mom. She is my drive, the one who encouraged me to do this and helped me in everything. She believed in me since I was three years old and sang for the first time, Cucurrucucu Paloma. Everything I do is dedicated to her.

    NYFA: Can you tell us how your work with Telemundo came about, and a bit about your character?

    EG: This February I had my debut on American television in the Telemundo NBC series Al Otro Lado Del Muro, which means “the other side of the wall.” I still don’t have words to express how happy I am for this opportunity. It was an honor to work with renowned actors such as Gabriel Porras, Litzy Martinez, Marjorie De Sousa and Adriana Barraza, the Oscar nominee for the movie Babel, who was my coach here in Miami at her school Adriana Barraza Black Box. Being able to work with Adriana on my first job was a dream come true.

    The series talks about immigrants and their different stories. My character is Raquel Aranda, a Salvadoran immigrant who arrives in the U.S., running from the human trafficking. Later, she is separated from her family and unjustly deported to Mexico. She tries to cross the border, again facing dangers in order to be with her family and her one-month old child.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Outreach Partners with Actors for Autism

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    The New York Film Academy-Los Angeles recently partnered with Actors for Autism (AFA), providing “hands-on,” college-level filmmaking courses as an extension of the AFA filmmaking program where students write, shoot and edit their own films. Speaking about the collaboration, NYFA’s Chair of Community Outreach, Mason Richards, said “At NYFA we believe that diversity in the film industry goes beyond race and gender, it also includes ability among other things. And we are wholly mindful about training and creating opportunities for people on the spectrum along with other underrepresented groups. The students were amazing.”NYFA and Actors for Autism

    Actors for Autism is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement, education, and training of people on the autistic spectrum by providing new and innovative programs in the Arts, Film & Television, Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Game Industries. According to their mission statement, Actors for Autism believes that people on the autistic spectrum should live as integrated members of society. Inclusion should be a reality, not a dream. For the last 15 years, AFA has been a pioneer in developing new and innovative programs, providing media & technology training that assists their students in finding employment after they complete their education. There are a variety of companies that have partnered with AFA to provide their students internships and job opportunities. 

    The young AFA filmmakers shot scenes from their short films on NYFA-Los Angeles in-house sound stages in Burbank, and on the Universal Backlot. In addition, they also did ADR and post-production at NYFA with instructors Huch Platt and John Briscoe. Liz Fenning, Program Supervisor at Actors for Autism added, “To our students, it meant everything to them to make films with NYFA, and to have NYFA’s caring faculty and staff support them, as they got to live out their dreams working with high-quality equipment shooting on a studio lot. There is no measure for the joy it brought to them.​”

    ​Fenning continued, “Not only did we notice distinct changes in the students’ technical knowhow, but more importantly, we noticed that they were better able to trust their instincts and pursue their passions with greater confidence. Essentially, it allowed our students to take the leap from viewing themselves as students of film, to directors, screenwriters, and talent.”

    Once the students completed the semester-long filmmaking program, NYFA hosted a private screening for friends, families, and supporters of the young filmmakers at the NYFA theater. Actor and AFA supporter Jack Dylan Grazer, who recently starred as Eddie in the Stephen King adaptation It and will be appearing in the superhero film Shazam, showed his support by attending the screening, and was very impressed by the student films.

    NYFA and Actors for AutismAbout Grazer’s involvement, Fenning stated, “Jack Dylan Grazer has been an incredible supporter of our program. It meant the world to the students, that a young and accomplished cinema artist, would take his very limited time to show support and appreciation of their work. For him to be present at the ceremony at NYFA left them speechless — truly, to have a peer in the industry take the time to celebrate their work has made an indeliable mark on them.”

    Since receiving their Certificates of Completion from NYFA-Los Angeles, two of the student filmmakers so far have gained employment at local production companies, while others are interviewing and still looking for employment.

    ​“We cannot thank NYFA enough for this partnership. With this program, NYFA truly demonstrates what it means to be a leader in the Los Angeles film community. For our students, they have provided a life changing experience. We are beyond grateful for NYFA’s generosity, and are awed by its heart for this population of artists, so often overlooked by the film community at large.​”

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    July 26, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Community Highlights, Diversity, Outreach • Views: 388

  • Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos Speaks With New York Film Academy

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    Last Friday, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor to be invited to the Netflix Sunset-Bronson Studios for a preview screening of Netflix upcoming series The Innocents followed by an exclusive Q&A with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.

    Ted has led content acquisition for Netflix since 2000. Since 2013, he led the company’s transition into original streaming content with the launch of House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black, among numerous other series. Ted has been recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2013, and as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution. Netflix executive Matthew Thunell introduced the pilot. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the afternoon.

    Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Laiter opened the conversation by asking Mr. Sarandos about his unique start in the film industry, from community college for journalism, to running movie rental stores, to where he is now. “It’s a super unlikely path,” Mr. Sarandos said, “I’m always reluctant to give my path… as it wouldn’t make any sense for anyone to try to follow.”

    The conversation moved to Netflix’s first original release, the wildly successful House of Cards. Mr. Sarandos spoke fondly of working with David Fincher, saying “He’s exacting. I love, more than anything, somebody who knows what they want, knows what’s important and what isn’t. David never had a wasted conversation or a wasted argument about anything during production.” He also talked about the initial meeting. They pitched Fincher an offer he couldn’t refuse: two seasons of a TV show, with no pilot, and no notes. The only restriction was that he would have to put his name on it. “The bet was that someone who really cared about their brand would really make it great if you gave him the freedom to do that. And that’s what we did.”

    One student asked what advice he would give his younger self, just starting out in the industry. Mr. Sarandos talked about how far Netflix and the industry as a whole has come and continue to change. “I don’t know that I ever would have seen far enough ahead to say ‘You should do this, and not that.’ The main thing is, I think, is to be incredibly nimble.”

    Tova Laiter & Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Tova Laiter & Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos

    Laiter ended the Q&A by asking what quality Ted felt led the most to his success. He answered, “Probably curiosity. It’s not necessarily what you know, it’s what you’re willing to figure out… Being humble enough to ask, and not being afraid to look dumb, is how you learn.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Sarandos for inviting us to Netflix for this amazing Q&A.

    The Innocents will be streaming starting August 24th – only on Netflix.

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    July 25, 2018 • Guest Speakers • Views: 510

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Premiere Films at LA Shorts Fest

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    What do New York Film Academy (NYFA) alumni Assem Yedgey, Dina Naji, and Zixian (Season) Ouyang have in common?  They all have thesis films premiering at the Los Angeles International Shorts Film Festival (LA Shorts Fest) July 25 – August 2!

    We sat down with the filmmakers right before the festival and asked them to tell us about their experiences.  

    Escala by Assem Yedgey

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Assem Yedgey: Escala is about a young girl who must win a music competition in order to ease the financial burden on her single father, but her instructor’s obsession with her turns this dream into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. The film takes place in Los Angeles. 

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    AY: I learned that there is nothing that cannot be achieved and that you should always follow your heart. I decided that I wanted to have a 100% female crew to create opportunities for women. Throughout my pre-production almost everyone I know was telling me that it was a bad idea and that I wouldn’t be able to handle it, that I was severely limiting my choices in terms of crew.

    All I can say is that I have never before worked in a better environment. I am very grateful that I had an amazing producer by my side – Yulia Safonova. She supported me immensely, and when I was about to give up on my idea of having an all-female crew, she would say, “We can do this.” And we did it. Our crew were united and all of us wanted the best for Escala. I learnt that the most important thing is to listen what people are suggesting, but not always follow, instead to rather feel what is the best for the film. 

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    AY: I haven’t premiered my movie anywhere. LA Shorts Fest will be the official premiere, so this is an exciting new experience for me. I am thrilled to watch it with an audience and observe them and explore their reactions. This is my first festival and it is one of the most prestigious festivals; it is like a dream came true. I’m so grateful that I will be able to share my story with so many people and hopefully they will get something out of it. 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    AY: I want to say that without collaboration and the hard work of my cast and crew, Escala wouldn’t have been made. A huge thank you to everybody involved.

    Escala screens Saturday, July 28, at 9:55 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.

    assem

    Hind’s Case by Dina Naji

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Dina Naji: My film Hind’s Case was inspired by true events. I wanted to shine a light on one case in particular that happened in 2015 in a woman’s housing shelter in Saudi Arabia. The story follows Hind (20), who at a young age witnessed her father kill and bury her mother, then went on to suffer years of abuse at his hands. When Hind escapes from her abusive home, she gets sent to live in a housing shelter. While there, Hind makes the first friends she’s ever had, and enjoys the freedom away from her father. However, when the manager of the housing shelter informs Hind that her father has requested to take her home, Hind decides to take matters into her own hands and gets sent to the solitary confinement room in order to join her mother in heaven, as she can’t stand the thought of living with her father again.

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    DN: The process of making Hind’s Case with a fantastic cast and crew was amazing. As a director, I learned that if you want to make a film, you should have a cast and crew that are passionate about the story you want to tell and want to bring a story alive. 

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    DN: I am very thrilled to have my film screen for the first time in LA Shorts Fest, and it is a huge opportunity to show my film to many people who are coming from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a dream come true. 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    DN: I would like to thank all the crew, cast, and my teachers, especially Scott Hartmann and Tamera Daugherty-Martin, for all the support. And I want to thank the New York Film Academy for this opportunity. 

    Hind’s Case screens Friday, July 27, at 5:30 pm at the Noho Laemmle Playhouse.HInd's Case

     

    Love in Canton by Zixian (Season) Ouyang

    NYFA: Tell us about your film.

    Season Ouyang: The movie is about an old woman accepting her husband’s death on her way to his funeral in Canton.

    NYFA: What is the most important thing you learned in making this film? Good or bad?

    SO: I think I improved my directing skills, and it gave me more good ideas about how to direct a good musical film.

    NYFA: What are you looking forward to at your screening at LA Shorts Fest?

    SO: I am looking forward to more audiences seeing and enjoying my movie in this screening. I want people to know me! 

    NYFA: Anything else you would like us to know?

    SO: I want you guys to know my dream is to make Cantonese film be great again in the world! 

    Love in Canton is an official selection of the festival’s New Wave Chinese Filmmakers opening night program. It screens Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 4 pm downtown at Regal LA Live.Love in Canton

    Congratulations to Assem, Dina, and Season! For more information on the LA Shorts Fest, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://lashortsfest.com/

     

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    July 25, 2018 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 272