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  • The New York Film Academy & India’s Bollywood

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    India’s film industry, colloquially known as Bollywood, is the biggest in the world, and aspiring Indian filmmakers need an edge, (or a connection), in order to get a leg up in the business. The New York Film Academy’s own Vice President of International Relations recently visited the country to meet with aspiring filmmakers. She had some interesting comments about what it takes to get recognized in the industry.

    India has huge potential in the area of education in filmmaking and acting. Last year we saw over 100 students signing up at our institute and the number is slated to grow further as more and more students realize the importance of technical know-how in this space.

    NYFA has already produced Bollywood successes. Imran Khan, currently one of the biggest stars in Bollywood, is one of our alumns. So the question remains, is NYFA going to start a school in India? Our Vice President admitted that the New York Film Academy is open to expanding in the country.

    It will, however, be in the long-term, we have only just begun an active association with India, and yes, we do not rule out the possibility of a branch or some sort of joint venture here in the future.

    The response from young filmmakers in India has been great, and no one can deny that there is a lot of passion for film in the country. Hopefully, NYFA’s involvement with Bollywood will continue to grow stronger, and we will have the opportunity of working with more and more students from India!

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    July 9, 2010 • Acting • Views: 6883

  • How do I pay for film or acting school?

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    We get a lot of questions at the New York Film Academy about paying for your film and acting education. Our friends in the Financial Aid Department gave us some advice to share that will hopefully set you in the right direction when figuring out your financial options.

    Attending film school is an excellent investment in your future career in cinema. However, it is also an investment that requires careful planning. When you are developing a financial strategy for your education, a great way to start is by talking to whichever family members or friends are involved economically. A prospective student should know what amount of funds they have available to them as well as the tuition costs and other fees for the program they will be taking. Don’t forget to factor in living costs, (rent, food, etc.), and try to come up with a realistic budget that you feel you will be able to maintain. The more informed you are about your own financial situation, the better equipped you will be to know what forms and what amounts of financial aid you will require.

    For many students, the rate-determining step in funding their education is applying for a student loan. Student loans can be used to cover tuition as well as living expenses for most film school programs. Most students will need a co-signer in order to be approved for a loan; generally a parent or other family member with a good credit score. It is very important to make sure you understand the terms of the loans, and if you have questions always feels free to ask the New York Film Academy Financial Aid Department!

    Additionally, there are many other forms of financial aid available to film students in the form of grants and scholarships. First apply for school-specific grants, and then broaden your search to include awards from outside organizations. There are many different organizations that grant funds to students, and here are two good websites to help begin your search: www.fastweb.com and www.finaid.org. Finding outside monies takes a lot of research and a lot of advanced planing, but can also be a great way to lower your personal tuition expenses. Remember, every little bit helps!

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    June 21, 2010 • Acting • Views: 982

  • NYC vs LA: Which NYFA campus is right for me?

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    VS

    A question we hear often from prospective NYFA students is “which location is right for me?” The decision between attending the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California or in New York City is one of the most common hang-ups applicants face. The curriculum and tuition at both campuses is identical. The real difference is life in the city.

    Transportation, climate, location accessibility and living space are the biggest differences between Los Angeles and New York.

    An empowering aspect of New York City life is the public transportation. There is no need to own a car in New York, and all five boroughs, (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island), are accessible with your metro card. New Jersey and Long Island are also just a train ride away. The trains run 24/7, and though there are sometimes service change surprises, the entire city is more or less accessible at all times. Los Angeles, on the other hand, requires a car, especially if you plan to pursue a long-term program in the city. In order to scout locations, transfer crew and equipment or just to go out on the town, it is necessary to drive in LA. However, once you have a car in the city, the possibilities for filming locations open up enormously.

    While New York has a huge offering of scenes to shoot – parks, city streets, river views, beach side carnivals in Coney Island and neighborhoods that vary from fancy Upper East Side digs to stoop culture in Brooklyn – city shots definitely out-number outdoor locations, and you should still expect to construct a lot of your sets indoors. Los Angeles allows for variety of natural scenes and open spaces and, of course, the versatility of the Universal Studios Backlots. Along with the urban and suburban environments in and around LA, mountains, hills and beaches, students have the privilege of filming on the active backlots in Universal Studios. The ability to recreate any environment in the studios is extremely useful, and waving at buses full of tourists as the Universal Backlot Tour trams drive by is also a perk of the location.

    In the way of climate, the difference is very simple: New York has seasons, Los Angeles does not. Living in New York, you will experience our lovely fall foliage and beautiful spring blooms, but they go hand in hand with one season of snowfall and another of oftentimes muggy heat. In Los Angeles, the weather stays warm and sunny for pretty much the entire year, but while LA’s one season is very pleasant, the unchanging climate can be a little claustrophobic for some. New York has wonderfully well-rounded weather, but you must be willing to deal with frigid January and blazing August.

    Cost also factors in heavily when students make their campus location decision. It’s difficult to gage overall cost of living for each city, as everyone has their own habits and lifestyles, but we’ll do it anyway: The general cost of living in New York City is higher than living in Los Angeles, but that goes without factoring in the cost of owning a vehicle. Maintaining a car and paying for gas and insurance can easily push the price of living in LA to the same level as New York while an $89 per month Metrocard puts all of New York at your fingertips.

    One of the most important differences between attending the New York Film Academy in New York City versus going to school in Los Angeles is your place of residence. In New York City, NYFA manages dorms for students, and accommodations can be arranged through the housing department. There are no NYFA-run dorms in Los Angeles; however, NYFA also has a relationship with a gated community across the street from the campus that will offer students housing at a discount. NYFA also maintains a roommate list where students may be put in touch with each other. In turn, independent housing is more difficult to find in NYC. Students need to be able to prove they can produce each month’s rent or provide a co-signer who can, and due to New York’s competitive housing market and rapid turn-over, renters also can’t start the housing search more than 30 days before move-in while the LA housing market moves at a more normal speed.

    While discussing your film and acting future, we certainly cannot neglect to talk about the importance of making industry connections. The film and television industries in NYC and LA are both enormously important and differ greatly in their style of production. While far more studio movies are filmed in Los Angeles, New York plays home to more television work, and it’s independent film scene is sizable. After you become familiar with each city by scouting locations and negotiating permission to shoot, your career options will open up significantly. For long-term programs, the Master degree and the 3-Year Intensive Bachelor degree, the New York Film Academy already strongly recommends or requires that students spend at least a year studying in each city.

    When you take time out of your busy NYFA schedule to explore outside activities, both cities can keep a person very entertained. Contrary to popular belief, neither New York nor LA boasts an entirely exclusive nightlife environment. They are both big cities, and there is something there for everyone. It should be noted that the majority of film premieres happen in LA, and there are unsurprisingly more opportunities for exposure to Hollywood lifestyle, but New York City boasts a truly huge diversity of film, television and other cultural social events that will be just as enlightening to a film student or actor.

    We hope that answers some of your questions concerning NYFA life in New York City or Los Angeles. Remember, there are great things about both cities – either way, you’ll find your place in NYC or LA while studying film and acting with us.

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    June 15, 2010 • Acting • Views: 6847

  • NYFA Graduate’s Film Sweeps African Academy Awards

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    The African Movie Academy Awards saw quite a bit of NYFA graduate Kunle Afolayan’s feature film, The Figurine, during their 2010 ceremonies. Out of the ten awards for which it was nominated, The Figurine took Best Picture, Achievement in Visual Effect, Heart of African Award for Best Film from Nigeria, Achievement in Cinematography and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. The film has solidified Afolayan’s future in filmmaking and attracted well-deserved attention to Nigeria’s rapidly growing film industry, Nollywood.

    Son of Ade Afolayan, the famed Nigerian actor, Kunle Afolayan didn’t exactly start out following in his father’s footsteps. A banker by profession, the Nigerian filmmaker at first regarded entertainment as more of a hobby. He spent a few years taking small acting jobs while working in banking. It wasn’t until 2005 that Kunle took a leap of faith and left his career to study digital filmmaking at the New York Film Academy in London.

    Irapada, his first work, gained recognition at a number of international film festivals and won the Best Indigenous Award at the 2007 AMAAs. Set in modern Nigeria, the film is colorfully injected with elements of Nigerian myth culture. After a successful building contractor tragically ignores an old relative’s devastating premonitions, he is forced to reassess his long-standing rejection of ancient superstitions.

    Kunle once again peppers a contemporary story with Nigerian folklore in The Figurine. A group of friends finds an effigy of Araromire, a goddess believed to grant good luck, and must confront the negative aspects of supernaturally bestowed fortune.

    Boasting relatively enormous production values, Afolayan’s work on The Figurine has made him a special effects pioneer in Nollywood. His intentions to revolutionize and promote the Nigerian film industry have also extended to his method of distribution. The film was shot with a movie theater audience experience in mind. In a move to reinvigorate Nigerian cinema culture, Kunle Afolayan has pushed for The Figurine to remain in theaters for as long as possible, in contrast to the usual DVD distribution goals of the average filmmaker.

    Kunle Afolayan’s unconventional approach to filmmaking and film distribution has put him at the top of the African film industry. Having recently run a filmmaking program in Abuja, those of us at the New York Film Academy are excited to see one of our graduates work to further advance the Nigerian industry.

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    May 26, 2010 • Acting • Views: 3953

  • Is New York Film Academy a College?

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    Many times people ask me “is New York Film Academy a college?”. For the sake of time, the answer is yes. But if you have the time, you may be interested to learn a little more about what we offer.

    When we first opened our doors in 1992 our film school was referred to as a “filmmakers boot camp” because of our intensive and hands-on filmmaking training offered no college credit at that time. Today, we continue the same intensive and hands-on training while offering college credit and degree programs as well.

    Our campuses in Los Angeles and New York City are accredited by the National Association of Art and Design which allows us to offer college credited courses for a all of our adult programs. For those of you who are interested in earning a college degree in fine arts the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles offers a Associates, Bachelors and Masters degree programs. Students have the option of studying all two or four years in Los Angeles or spend one year in New York City then transfer to Los Angeles to complete their degree. Many students find studying in New York City then transferring to Los Angeles gives them a well rounded “college”experience.

    While we still consider ourselves a technical school you can refer to us as a college if you would like. But don’t confuse New York Film Academy with any other college. We offer the best of both worlds. Earn your degree while you perfect your craft without the long lectures and text book assignments you would expect from a college.

    Fine Arts Degrees offered

    Dozens of college credited course…

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    May 13, 2010 • Acting • Views: 8562

  • NYFA Student Omri Bezalel Interviews George Lucas

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    Photo: Courtesy of The Jewish Chronicle Online

    New York Film Academy student Omri Bezalel learned that good deeds and great filmmaking sometimes produce unexpected rewards when he was granted the opportunity to interview George Lucas for an upcoming project.

    Omri Bezalel was born in Tel Aviv and has lived all over world. He believes his passion for film began when he was nine years old and spent his summer toying with a camcorder and filming commercials with a friend.

    In October 2009, Bezalel began his studies at the New York Film Academy. “It’s a great program which is very intense and hands on,” he reports of his experience with NYFA. A dedicated filmmaker, he publishes all of his work, including his film projects with the New York Film Academy, on his website, Carlito Montana Productions.

    Bezalel is currently working with Films Without Borders, a program to teach Israeli, Palestinian and Rwandan teenagers filmmaking skills and promote peaceful interaction between the three communities. Television producer Jill Samuels, the idea-lady behind Films Without Borders, happens to be a former employee of George Lucas. Lucas accepted her invitation to back the project, and this past April, 26 year old Omri Bezalel found himself walking into the Picadilly editing suites in London to interview the iconic director.

    During Omri’s interview, Lucas explains that the silver lining encircling today’s economically precarious environment offers a special place for young filmmakers.

    You live in a wonderful time. Because the consortium of rich corporations which used to control the entire medium is now doomed. Now anyone can make movies – you can buy a studio, everything, for around $3,000. And it’s as high quality as anybody has. And now with the internet you also have a distribution center which no one controls.

    Considering the delicate and overwhelmingly grim political circumstances that inspired Film Without Borders, Lucas’ subsequent comments concerning the enjoyability of a film are fitting. The content of a movie, no matter how serious, should still be appealing enough for the audience to want to watch it. ”Hopefully, in the process of entertaining them, you give them insight into their own lives and into their own world, but you can’t lose sight of the fact that people are giving you their time and money,” Lucas advices that it is important that a film entertain, not preach; otherwise, it is unlikely to gather many viewers.

    In his final words with the director, Bezalel voiced his anxiety that every good story has already been told. George Lucas admitted that, yes, they have, but reevaluating tropes is by no means a negative. “People have been telling stories for 10,000 years, ” is Lucas’ explanation, “There are only 32 kinds of story. So don’t think you’re going to tell a new story – the only thing that changes is the way you tell the story.” Retelling an archetypal journey, or a combination a several, is in the nature of all modern storytelling, and consequently, finding a unique way to do so is an integral part of cinema.

    Armed with the words of one of the world’s most influential directors, Bezalel has no dearth of inspiration to bring to his work with Film Without Borders and to Israel’s blossoming film industry. Omri Bezalel’s commitment to filmmaking is illuminated by his respect for his own nation’s work in cinema. “A lot of Israeli films I see are better than studio films. Film is an international language,” articulates the New York Film Academy student, “I want to see Israeli film celebrated at the Oscars for what it is, in the Best Film [sic] category, not Best Foreign-Language Film.” When Bezalel graduates from the New York Film Academy, he plans to return to Israel to teach a course for Film Without Borders. Bezalel has already made impressive progress bringing attention to Israeli film and using cinema to spread peace. We’ll certainly keep our ears open for more news about his ongoing projects.

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    May 5, 2010 • Acting • Views: 2823

  • NYFA Graduate Ben Adler’s Bagatelle

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    Graduate of the New York Film Academy’s 2002/03 one year program, Ben Adler, has been keeping busy since his time with us at NYFA. For the past four years, Adler has been studying and making short films in Paris and has found success with his short film Bagatelle.

    In the words of Mr. Adler, Bagatelle tells the tale of “an international group of amateur footballers [who] find their efforts to locate a pitch to play on halted by a group of angry French locals.” Selected for the Cannes program “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down” in 2009, Bagatelle stood out from 2000 other films in the Short Films Corner and earned screening in Palais F. Bagatelle went on to gain recognition at other international film festivals and won the award for Best Short Film at the Portobello Film Festival in London.

    This past year and a half, Adler worked as 2nd assistant to Wes Anderson on Fantastic Mr. Fox and directed a feature length music documentary which is currently in post-production. We’re sure we’ll be hearing more from him soon.

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    May 3, 2010 • Acting • Views: 4035

  • NYFA Graduate Brett Carlson Writer & Director of "Take My Wife"

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    A  gigolo, a hitman and a couple of unhappy husbands walk into a bar; unfortunately, the pimp they’re supposed to meet “inconsiderately” drops dead before showing up to sort everyone out. New York Film Academy MFA graduate Brett Carlson writes and directs the story of what happens when you bring the wrong man home to your wife in his thesis film, “Take My Wife”.

    “Take My Wife” has been racking up accolades on the festival circuit and has won a Panavision New Filmmaker Grant and a Fotokem Processing Grant during production which helped make shooting on Super 16mm film possible.

    “Take My Wife” screens at the NYC Downtown Short Fest this Wednesday at 8PM. Last time Carlson was in New York, tickets sold out, so hurry and get your seats. Carlson had this to say…

    It’s been a while since I’ve sent out an update about the progress of Take My Wife. I’m currently only my way to Boston for the Boston Int. Film Festival already underway.  Take My Wife screens this Sunday at 3:30pm.

    From there it’s back to New York, NY.  We did really well in the Audience Choice Screenings at the NYC Downtown Short Fest and have been invited back for the main event.  We screen Wed at 8pm at the Due theater with a cocktail reception to follow.  Last time we where in town the screening sold out— so if you plan to come make sure you get your tickets ahead of time at: https://www.smarttix.com/Show.aspx?ShowCode=6TH6 .

    A short hop from NY and I’m off to the Connecticut Film Festival in Danbury, CT.  The film screens Thursday May 6th at 7:30 at the Heirloom Arts Theater if you’re in the area.

    After that Chesley Heymsfield, one of the film’s producers, and I are off to France for the Cannes Independent Film Festival.  If you’re also going to Cannes let’s meet up there!  Take My Wife plays at 18:00 (Europe and their 24 hour clocks…) on the 20th at the CIFF Villa.  Tickets are VERY limited so if you at the festival and want to go please let me know ASAP.

    Also that week Take My Wife is screening in the Big Island Film Festival in Hawaii.  Why did Hawaii and France have to be the same week?  Geesh.

    Press:

    “After viewing Take My Wife (Twice), there is very little doubt in this critic’s mind that Brett can breakthrough and follow his dream. Even though it is only a short film, it may be one of the funniest pieces you’ll see this year.” – Joe Belcastro, Tampa Movie Examiner

    “A terrific comedy and very well-done piece… …Take My Wife is the best. The film is very well produced and acted and has world-class camera work and editing.” – Gary Wolcott, Tri-City Herald


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    April 27, 2010 • Acting • Views: 2817

  • New York Film Academy Teaches Film Workshops in Abuja, Nigeria

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    This past spring, the New York Film Academy visited Abuja, Nigeria, to train aspiring filmmakers in a four-week film workshop. Thirty faculty members from our New York and LA locations traveled to Nigeria and, in partnership with Del-York International, spent two months giving students hands-on, practical training in film production.

    Listed ahead of the United States’ in productivity, the Nigerian film industry, colloquially referred to as Nollywood, is second only to India’s Bollywood in number of films released per year and is the second-largest employer in the country. Linus Idahosa established the media communications company, Del-York International, with the intent to further develop Nigeria’s extremely active yet largely unknown film industry.

    During a time of national rebranding, a modernized film industry could be a powerful unifying agent for the country of Nigeria. Idahosa believes that, through mass publication of creative expression, Nigerians can harness their cultural capital and more tangibly portray their country’s identity. If talented filmmakers were better trained and equipped to record their personal testimonies, then Nigeria’s collective story could be captured, preserved and publicized to a wider audience.

    Idahosa’s ideas about the power of film are undoubtably shared by his fellow citizens, and the program was met with considerable enthusiasm. Over the course of a month, NYFA gave a passionate group of students, ages ranging from 18 to 40, instruction in directing, acting, producing and animation. Together, Del-York and NYFA were able to give roughly 370 up-and-coming Nigerian filmmakers and actors essential training to advance their craft and better communicate their message.

    The New York Film Academy was honored to be invited by Linus Idahosa and Del-York International to help launch a filmmaking program in Abuja and hopes that the Nigerian film industry will continue to grow and gain recognition.

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    April 23, 2010 • Acting • Views: 8044

  • Writer, Director and Producer Tokunbo Falope

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    Tokunbo Falope, TK as he is fondly called, is a writer, director and producer. He runs BRV, a Nigerian production company, with his brother Deji Falope, who handles the TV aspect while he does the filming.

    Starting out

    TK grew up in Festac Town, Lagos, had his secondary education at Kings College and was still an undergraduate of the Ogun State University when he decided to leave Nigeria for the US. He settled in Los Angeles and was working in a hospital supposedly to become a doctor like his father when he decided to give film school a try. Two and a half years at the New York Film Academy (NYFA), majoring in filmmaking exposed him to production, directing, screen writing and cinematography. It also prepared him for work as Second Assistant Director for the Los Angeles unit on the movie “Transformers” and as Assistant Director for Spike Lee’s “St. Anna”.

    However, TK took a look at Los Angeles, decided competition was too stiff for a black foreigner just starting out and opted for Nollywood. He returned to Nigeria and directed his first movie, ‘Silent Scandal’, gratis because he was more interested in “changing the game and putting his creative talent to play,” he explains.

    Professional uniqueness

    He feels that in Nigerian movies, drama is shot like comedy, comedy like action and action like drama. The uniqueness of his work stems from his camera shots, movements, pacing and the whole nine yards.

    Most challenging time on set

    This was when he worked with Spike Lee as assistant director. “His name is Spike for a reason; he has a very short temper and fuse so if he wants his actors on set in one minute and you spend an extra minute, he is up and yelling at you.”

    Taking business risks

    ‘Silent Scandal’ was a risk. Contrary to his thinking, his talent could not compensate for organisational lapses. Pre-production was done in a couple of days. Audition and shooting were simultaneous. Location was not known before hand. His efforts at ensuring proper lighting were regarded as a waste of time and money. He learnt his lessons though and has decided to personally produce his next movie.

    Improving Nollywood

    TK believes he is a selfless, open-minded perfectionist who is very strict when it comes to his work. He says “Actors feel that the whole over-the-top exaggeration and shouting is acting but I do not believe in acting, I believe in reacting. I want an actor that can listen and react rather than act because that is the way it should be. When it comes to production, people still need some kind of schooling and training not just to refine their skills but to know the set hierarchy and how a set is run.” He desires the best for people who work with him and he leads by example hoping that others will follow.

    Versatility

    Apart from filmmaking, he produces music videos and TV commercials. He did a TV commercial for Darbur toothpaste last year in Nigeria (yet to be released) and also shot a Nike commercial in New York. “I just finished two music videos for two artists, Zeal and Niyola. I also have about three Nigerian story scripts that are ready to be produced. I have working tittles which might change. One is called ‘Paradise: Under Construction’. The main character in the story is Lagos State, I made Lagos look very good especially for people living abroad who want to come back but have negative feelings. I kind of balanced it though. Attached to this script are international faces like Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje and Hakeem Kae Kazim both of whom acted in ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and Akon.

    Motivation

    “Growing up in Lagos was interesting. One comes out and sees the bus conductor shouting, people on the road saying stuff, graffiti on the buses and different clichés like “binti laye”, “no condition is permanent” etc. All those things fascinate me. Nigerians know how to express themselves and despite the difficulties they always have hope. Telling the stories of these people is what motivates me.”

    Aspiration

    TK would like to make a Nigerian movie that will earn him an Oscar. He will also like to attract foreign filmmakers into Nigeria, as this would enhance income and exposure for the industry.

    Role models

    In life, he looks up to Barack Obama because despite all odds, he achieved something that seemed impossible. In production, he looks up to Spike Lee and Mel Gibson. In other aspects of the industry, he looks up to Will Smith.

    Hobbies

    TK expresses himself by writing and loves to do a variety of other things. He had given playing basketball at the NBA some thought until he got to America and saw African-Americans playing, he opted for football instead. He loves taking pictures and could go for a drive taking pictures of the scenery. He also loves listening to music. His favourite…full story

    For more info on film school

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    April 15, 2010 • Acting • Views: 3022