This month, NYFA Veterans were invited to attend an exclusive pre-release screening of feature film “Dunkirk,” through the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund’s (MPTF) Veteran Benefits Assistance Program. NYFA Veterans William Grodnick and Luis Camacho attended the special screening of “Dunkirk” in New York City and have shared their experiences with the NYFA Blog. Please note: this blog has been edited for clarity and length.
Born in Izmir and growing up in Istanbul, Turkey, Didem Civginoglu says she has always wanted to take the photos that she had imagined in her mind for so many years.
“I had been working in corporate life for the last nine and half years and I was feeling as if I was missing something in life,” said Civginoglu. “I wanted to be out there to catch all of those instant unexpected moments, knowing life changes in an instant. I wanted to be present in the moment.”
In order to accomplish her photographic aspirations, Civginoglu decided to move to New York where she attended the Photography School at the New York Film Academy.
“I was lucky to be a part of an amazing class of talented people who were so willing to learn and share and be as curious as I am,” said Civginoglu about her experience at NYFA. “They were all from different disiplines and cultures, so it made it even more authentic. In addition to our creative and supportive spirit in our class, our instructors and teachers were very open and tolerant. They shared their attention with us generously and patiently.”
Since graduating, Civginoglu has worked on numerous projects including Miss Vogue Turkey and Xoxo Guillaume Canet. “My agency 85|90 Projects showed my portfolio to the Vogue team and they offered to do the photo shoot with Sima, Miss Turkey,” said Civginoglu. “For the XoXo Guillaume Canet photo shoot, they needed a photographer together with an interviewer, so my journalist friend who was assigned to do the interview recommended me as a photographer and it happened.”
While she continues to work on projects in Turkey, Civginoglu is currently based out of New York. She recently worked on a cookbook project called Teldolap, which incorporates backstage photos into a story, as well as a documentary called “Kim Mihri.” She is also working on an upcoming publishing project with a fashion designer.
For more of Civginoglu’s work, visit her website at didemcivginoglu.com.
Last week, the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) hosted a special dinner for new and continuing Foreign Fulbright students who are attending graduate programs in Filmmaking, Photography, Screenwriting, Documentaries, and Film and Media Production. NYFA is proud to be hosting Foreign Fulbright Grantees from seven countries (Lithuania, Spain, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Angola and the Dominican Republic) currently; in recent years NYFA has welcomed more than 50 Fulbrighters to our campuses in LA and NYC. NYFA Fulbrighters have hailed from Bahrain, Angola, Indonesia, Egypt, Spain, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Finland, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Switzerland, Vietnamese, Ecuador, France, Sri Lanka, Russia, Paraguay, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Zambia.
The March 3 event took place at Miceli’s, a classic Hollywood venue, which was established in 1949.
In this wonderful setting with live piano music and waiters singing movie classics — as well as songs from the recent hit film “La La Land” — our Fulbrighters had the opportunity to share interesting conversations on diverse topics, with, of course, filmmaking being the shared passion.
Current NYFA Fulbrighter Pedro Peira (Spain), who had just returned from The Berlinale (The Berlin International Film Festival), shared anecdotes of the festival, as well as the implications of having one of his movies: “Soul,” selected to open one of the headline spots at the Festival.
José Siles, President of the Fulbright Alumni Association of Los Angeles, spoke with our international scholars about all of the enrichment and networking opportunities that the rich Fulbright community of LA has to offer. As a researcher at NASA, José shared with us many interesting details about the recent discovery of exoplanets orbiting the star Trappist-1, which NASA published last week.
Hugo Salvaterra (Angola), our the most recent Filmmaking Fulbrighter to join the LA cohort, recently transferred from a semester at the NYFA NYC campus and delighted to meet his LA peers, and share his first impressions with other scholars in the different fields related to filmmaking.
In a lively discussion with the scholars, Miguel Cruz, NYFA´s Director of Fulbright Initiatives, and Marcus Louis Fien, Senior Admissions Specialist & Manager of Fulbright Admissions, shared future initiatives that NYFA is planning, including a Fulbright Film Festival to be celebrated later this year.
At the special invitation of NYFA’s leadership, on Monday, March 6, the current cohort of Foreign Fulbright Students attended a special NYFA screening of the Academy Award nominated film “Hacksaw Ridge” and had the thrill of meeting acclaimed actor Mel Gibson, the film’s Director, who came to NYFA to discuss the project.
The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) is proud to welcome a new group of veteran students, many of which are transitioning from the military and into higher education for the first time. All new veterans were greeted in their first week with veteran-specific orientations conducted by the NYFA Veteran Services Offices at each of the three US campuses (New York City, Los Angeles, and South Beach) that are designed specifically to accommodate their diverse set of needs and help to set them up for success. Several Veteran Service Organizations (VSO’s) from the local areas sent representatives to educate the new cohort of veteran students on the benefits, resources, and programs available to them at NYFA and in the external veteran community.
In New York, representatives from The Mission Continues, American Corporate Partners, and Black Veterans for Social Justice provided important information to the veterans about initiatives that are offered by their organizations. These services include professional development assistance, emergency housing and legal assistance, as well as volunteer opportunities for those looking to give back to their communities.
Veteran Services Coordinator, Christopher Paparis announced some new additions for veterans on campus, including the recent opening of the on-campus Veterans Lounge, and a new Fellowship position exclusively available to NYFA veterans with the NYC Department of Veteran Services and NYC City Service Corps.
In Los Angeles and South Beach, Veteran Services Coordinators spoke to new NYFA veteran students about the many services and resources that the NYFA Veteran Services Offices provide, such as military benefits advising, transitioning information, the School’s Veterans Advancement Program and essentials of student life on campus. A representative from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) came to speak about the various WWP programs and extended an invitation for the veterans to join the organization.
Army veteran and One-Year Filmmaking student, Corey Bourque said, “The LA Veterans team were very helpful in the orientation. They went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed and helped with questions. I also enjoyed learning about all of the programs and resources available from the Wounded Warrior Project. I was unaware that they offered so much. I am proud to be a veteran attending the New York Film Academy and look forward to my time here.”
NYFA is honored to serve our nations heroes and are happy to assist them as they begin their academic journey and their careers within the film industry.
The New York Film Academy was recently a sponsor of the Producers Guild of America 3rd Annual Produced By: New York Conference. Reaching across film, television and new media, the Produced By Conference is an educational forum conducted by acclaimed producers, including numerous Oscar and Emmy Award winners, as well as the next generation of creative entrepreneurs. Held at New York City’s Time Warner Center, a group of NYFA Producing Students, along with Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Producing Admissions Representative Sal Irizarry, participated in panel sessions and guest speaker presentations featuring a wide spectrum of industry professionals.
Those attending heard from producer-actor hyphenates as Tina Fey, Chris Rock, Matt Damon, and the producers of current and upcoming projects like “Jackie,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Hidden Figures,” “Loving,” “Madame President,” “The Young Pope,” and “Silicon Valley.” Some of the more popular panel topics included: The Future of Producing, It’s Show(runner) Time, TV Today: Embracing the Second Screen, Using A Life To Tell A Story: When Real Life Becomes Fiction, and The Future of Producing.
A special feature of this year’s Conference was the appearance of NYFA Producing instructor Mark Lindsay. His foreign sales experience was highlighted in the Demystifying the Money: Straight Talk About Film Financing panel discussion, led by frequent NYFA Industry Speaker and film finance expert John Hadity.
This is the second Produced By: New York Conference sponsored by NYFA. The Producing Department is one of the few programs in the New York City area whose students are eligible to participate in the PGA East Student Membership Program. This two-year program gives highly- motivated students currently enrolled in a producing-focused degree or certificate program the unique opportunity to become part of their own PGA community by attending regular meetings, creating and supporting events, networking with peers, receiving invitations to PGA events and screenings, and sharing and advancing their knowledge of film (scripted & documentary), television, and new media.
New York Film Academy High School Summer Camp graduate Sara Eustáquio was the recipient of the Award of Merit at the Accolade Global Film Competition in Los Angeles for her narrative fiction short film “Mirror.” The film, which stars NYFA Summer Camp actress Jamie Marchuk, was Eustáquio’s final project of the intensive 3-week HD Filmmaking program.
In the short horror film, Marchuk looks at her mirror for answers, but what she finds may change her life.
The young Portuguese filmmaker, 16, had already been awarded with her debut narrative fiction short film “4242,” which has received 16 international prizes and was screened in more than 30 international film festivals across the globe.
“My time at NYFA taught me much more than I could have imagined,” says Eustáquio. “During the program, I learned about all the technical aspects of the filmmaking process in a fast-paced environment, as well as the importance of telling a story and how to tell a story. It was an amazing experience which deeply changed my perspective and encouraged me to move forward. NYFA helped me find my voice and definitely made me realize this what I want to do.”
The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) recently welcomed many new veteran students to the Los Angeles and New York campuses. As a commitment to support veterans’ education, the NYFA Veterans Services team offered a veteran-specific “orientation” to help them acclimate to the campus and foster camaraderie within the incoming class of 2016. Often times it is the “vet to vet” interaction that helps veterans readjust to civilian life after military service.
NYFA Veteran Coordinators, Eric Brown, Michael Kunselman, and Chris Paparis—veterans themselves—organized the orientations in LA and NY. Each of them has utilized their GI Bill by pursuing their education to obtain their degrees, and so they know firsthand how difficult it can be to start this new journey in an academic setting.
The orientations focused on all aspects of a veteran’s transition including an overview on the services that the NYFA Veterans Services team provides, such as: information on student life, explanations as to how GI bill benefits work, how to obtain VA healthcare benefits, institutional policies, and providing new students the opportunity to network and develop relationships with one another. The veterans in attendance had the opportunity to speak with VA healthcare representatives and sign up for VA healthcare benefits while scheduling medical visits at the local VA Hospital right on the spot.
First year Photography student, Luis Amador, expressed that he “had been putting off seeking assistance with the VA Healthcare system for many reasons, but being able to enroll right from school was a huge benefit.”
At the orientation event, veterans and active duty military had the opportunity to meet with local and national veteran service organizations and their representatives. The NYFA Veterans Services team invited key partners within the community to speak with the veterans to educate them on the services they provide. Representatives from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Vet Centers, and VA Medical Centers were all in attendance.
At our New York campus, aspiring actors, filmmakers, producers and screenwriters listened to NYFA Senior Vice President, David Klein, talk about the importance of storytelling through the medium of visual and performing arts. He spoke about how important veteran students life experiences are to our campus community.
The veteran students found the orientation highly beneficial and enjoyed networking with fellow veterans. Many of them stayed after to speak with the NYFA Veteran Coordinators and the representatives from veterans organizations who attended.
“The orientation was very informative. It was great learning about what services are available to veterans and learning just how dedicated the NYFA veteran team is in supporting veterans. The camaraderie among the veteran students made me feel more comfortable coming to school,” stated Army veteran and New BFA Acting student, Travis Frazee.
The New York Film Academy would like to welcome all new active duty military servicemembers, veterans, and their families to our campus community!
On behalf of the New York Film Academy administration, thank you for your service to our country.
-Jim Miller, Chris Paparis & Michael Kunselman
Disco Has Risen From the Grave: Mark Christopher Speaks with New York Film Academy on “54: Director’s Cut”
On November 5th, 2015, New York Film Academy in Los Angeles students were delighted to watch the revamped Director’s Cut of 54, followed by a Q&A with writer/director Mark Christopher—discussing his great journey to completing his vision on the disco cult film—with producer Tova Laiter and NYFA Film Festival Advisor Matthew Ladensack.
While attending film school, Mark Christopher made the short film Dead Boys Club, gaining lots of attention in the film festival circuit and even a theatrical distribution. With the success of Dead Boy’s Club and his subsequent short Alkali, Iowa, Christopher was able to gain a studio’s trust to direct his script about the iconic discotheque Studio 54. Therefore, his student films gave him a direct entree into making a studio feature.
Focusing on a young New Jersey bartender and his fellow club workers, 54 encapsulated the hedonistic nightlife of 1979 New York, before the drug wars and AIDS epidemic of the 80’s. The story blended humor, tragedy, bisexuality, and rampant drug use–an earnest portrayal of the era’s zeitgeist. Starring Mike Meyers in his first dramatic role, and up and comer Ryan Phillipe, the movie was accumulating attention and set to be a hit.
However, after seeing early cuts of the film, the studio decided to soften its depraved sexual vibe as they believed this would open the movie up to a wider audience. Removing 40 minutes of the original cut and reshooting another 30 minutes, the new version erased any note of homoeroticism, reinforcing the love scenes between Phillipe and Neve Campbell, and washed over the darker parts that gave the movie depth. The hollowed theatrical release was panned by critics at its release and considered a box office failure.
“As a director you have to hold on to your vision,” Christopher told NYFA students. Which is why after 17 years he revisited 54 to recreate his original story. Unlike most director’s cuts, where a few new scenes are sprinkled here and there, Christopher ripped apart most of the theatrical version like moldy shag carpeting. He found the original footage via bootleg video cobbled together from VHS sources and eye matched it scene by scene, restoring the gritty look and tone of the film. Since it’s release, 54: The Director’s Cut has been praised all over the world, with original and new fans alike flocking to sold out shows.
When asked what advice he had to share with the film students in the audience, Mark Christopher simply said, “Don’t be afraid.” Students thanked Mr. Christopher for being unafraid to revive Studio 54, a new favorite to many in the theater that night.
54: The Director’s Cut is currently available on iTunes and Amazon.
The New York Film Academy wishes the film and Mark Christopher much success!
We’d like to congratulate New York Film Academy Acting for Film instructor, Isaac Byrne, who recently won a New York Innovative Theater Award for Directing. The award came for his work on In Vestments, which also won Outstanding Premier of a New Play.
In Vestments, written by Sara Fellini, is about four priests and a sacristan who are haunted by their pasts and their present addictions while they live and work in a crumbling church they are struggling to rebuild. This unique performance took place at the West Park Presbyterian Church, which was abandoned for a while and is now in the process of being rebuilt. The play was considered a site specific and immersive performance. Audience members were led to their pews and seated by nuns. In that sense, the play happened all around you, not just in front of you on a stage.
This isn’t Byrne’s first involvement with an award-winning play. He was also nominated for directing The Other Mozart by Sylvia Milo, which won for Outstanding Solo Performance and Original Music.
We had a chance to catch up with the award-winning director to gather some more insight on In Vestments, his career, and his teaching.
How did you get involved with the project and where did the idea come from?
The playwright and lead actor, Sara Fellini, took my private acting class for a year and then came to me with a play she had written called Hazard a Little Death— which I ended up directing. We produced that play several times, always using a number of former NYFA students as actors in each production. Kaitlan Emory, Tara Scalesi, Daniel Benhamu, Antonio Thompson, Brigita Cajauskyte, Linnea Larsdotter, and Mary-Anne Wright all performed roles in the various productions.
Sara had worked for years as a sacristan at a Catholic Church in Queens and after the success of Hazard a Little Death (that play was nominated for number of Planet Connection Awards including Antonio Thompson for Actor in a featured role) she wrote In Vestments, which was inspired by her time as a sacristan.
We developed the project over several months, with the help of some other NYFA people: faculty Rico Rosetti, John Desiderio and former students Connor Lyons and Ben Mann.
What does this most recent award mean to you as an artist?
It’s always nice to be recognized for your work, especially on artistically rewarding pieces that aren’t big financial pay days. I’m mostly just happy that the hard work that the cast and crew put in paid off. It’s very validating. Sometimes you make money and sometimes you don’t make money but they give you nice little award for your resume and mantelpiece.
It gives you a little more cache when you’re meeting people, and you always meet more industry people when you get nominated for something. I’m actually meeting this week with a film and theatre producer that was one of the judges for this award, so hopefully this will lead to some more successful projects.
How do your professional achievements and experience come into play during your teaching?
Well, it’s always helpful to have a concrete recent example to point to when you’re trying to explain something in class. It’s good to be able to say: “that project just you saw; this is what we used to accomplish this” or “what I’m trying to show you right now; this is how that actor accomplished that performance you watched last night.”
You have to stay fresh and in the game, I think. The industry is always changing and growing and if you keep working, you do too—as an artist but also as a teacher, too.
What advice do you have for students looking to break into the world of theater / directing / acting?
Just know that there’s no magic day where you suddenly transition from student to artist. Your career has already begun. Your work and your attitude in the classroom is going tell everyone around you whether you are someone they want to work with. It’s not about talent; it’s about trust.
We had a lot of people, including some very notable Broadway actors, audition for the role of Jakamo in In Vestments. But it was Pierre Marais’ incredible diligence in his time as a student at NYFA that convinced me that he could do the role. I fought for him because I knew he had the talent and the ability, but most of all that I could trust him. Pierre really was at the heart of that production in so many ways. We fell right back into the language and rhythms we had working together in the classroom and it really helped speed up and facilitate the rehearsal process.
You never know where your next job is going to come from, but it almost always comes from the relationships you’ve built. Whether it’s a teacher or fellow student or someone you meet in an audition room after you graduate, you’ve got to get good at earning people’s trust with your skill, your attitude, and your professionalism. If you’re hard working and have a good attitude in a class then you’re building a reputation and a skill set that’s going to get you work.
Italian filmmaker and actor, Alfonso Perugini came to New York City with a Cinema Studies background, but it was at the New York Film Academy’s hands-on Two Year Filmmaking Conservatory in that Perugini says he truly “perfected the technique of filmmaking.” In addition to honing his craft at the Academy, Perugini fell in love with the city that surrounded him.
Two years after graduating from NYFA, Perugini completed his first major film, which will be screening at Laceno d’Oro, a prestigious international film festival held in Italy. This year’s festival includes films from famous directors such as Abel Ferrara, Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders. In fact, Perugini’s film, New York, will be screening right before Wenders’ on September 17th.
Perugini’s film is divided into five episodes—one dedicated to each borough in New York City—Staten Island, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. The protagonist is a photojournalist named Patrick Fawkes (played by Finnish Jarkko Mäkelä), who returns home after a four month trip in which he’s been reporting on US troops in Afghanistan.
His cast includes actors from all around the world. Two of the female leads come from South America, Venezuelan model Carla De La Hoz and NYFA acting graduate Sofia Negromonte from Brazil. American actor, Daniel Berkey, whose been in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, plays the father of the protagonist.
Of particular note is the film’s score from the unpublished repertory of the famous Italian composer, Piero Piccioni.
After New York’s Laceno screening on September 17th, the film will continue its tour at festivals and film events all over the world.