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  • Forbes Interviews New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Alum Alana Blaylock

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Alana Blaylock has had a productive career since finishing the 8-week Broadcast Journalism workshop at NYFA’s New York City campus in the summer of 2011. It’s no surprise then that many in the indAlana Blaylockustry have taken notice of the Emmy Award winner, including Forbes Magazine, which recently published a profile on and interview with the up-and-coming producer.

    Blaylock has amassed an inspiring roster of credits since finishing her workshop at NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism school, which teaches aspiring reporters a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of the production process, including researching, writing, shooting, producing, and editing. This is important in the modern digital landscape as contemporary broadcast journalists are expected to be multimedia journalists, marrying their technical skills with their creative ones. 

    This is exactly what Blaylock has excelled at, and why she has already won an Emmy and why her career is taking off even as her path winds between both traditional roads and outside-the-box ones. Her credits include work on CNN, HBO, NBC News, National Geographic, and the ID Channel, including popular programs Deadline and United Shades of America. However, her work on newer streaming models like Amazon and YouTube is what has been generating a lot of buzz. 

    One of her latest projects is producing for Best Shot, a YouTube Originals docuseries executive produced by Lebron James and Maverick Carter for the NBA. The show follows the student basketball players of Newark Central High School as well as chronicling the life and career of their mentor, former NBA player and sports television personality Jay Williams.

    In addition to working in both traditional and digital media, Blaylock curates a strong online presence on social media, further highlighting her smart instincts in an ever-changing media landscape.

    “I love the visual storytelling that happens on Instagram,” Blaylock tells Forbes. “That’s the platform I probably use the most [in my personal life]. And I am inspired by movies, set design, museums, exhibits and artists.”

    She continues, “I try to take in as much new culture as possible and then decide what I want to do with it or how it fits into my process as a creative.”

    What lies ahead for Blaylock remains to be seen, but it’s clear whatever she does next will be insightful and successful due to the work she puts in and the philosophy that keeps her driven. When asked about keeping her own personal voice while working on other parties’ projects, Blaylock tells Forbes, “My brand evolves as I attain more world experience. I have to remain authentically Alana, and the projects that I take on are continuations of my career journey.

    “I can adapt to the demands of a project and still be the best version of myself. I remain steadfast in my goals while producing every show, documentary or collaboration. As a result of working on many projects, there’s always new information and experiences. It keeps me well-rounded.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Alana Blaylock on her career and looks forward to her future successes sure to come!

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  • New York Film Academy Instructor Edits Record-Breaking “Free Solo” Documentary

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    The Year of the Documentary strikes again with the arrival of National Geographic’s Free Solo. The 2018 documentary, edited by New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructor Bob Eisenhardt, focuses on rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to climb El Capitan, the vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, without ropes, or “free solo.” El Capitan is so dangerous, no one has ever tried before. Honnold is the only person to have ever accomplished the feat.

    Free Solo currently sits at an astounding 99% on Rotten Tomatoes after 66 glowing reviews. Tom Russo of the Boston Globe said of the film, “Go figure that the year’s most outrageously harrowing action movie turns out to be an arthouse doc from National Geographic.” Free Solo beat out An Inconvenient Truth as the highest per-venue average of all time. The documentary is also screening as part of Thom Powers’ Short List at the 2018 DOCNYC film festival, and has been shortlisted by the International Documentary Association (IDA). It was directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

    Editor Bob Eisenhardt is an Academy Award nominee, three-time Emmy winner, and recipient of the coveted “Eddie” aka American Cinema Editors Award. He has edited over 60 films, mostly feature and television documentaries, including Everything is Copy (HBO), Jerusalem (IMAX), and another rock climbing documentary, Sundance Audience Award Winner Meru. He teaches Advanced Thesis Editing and is a Master Class instructor at the New York Film Academy’s New York City campus. In 2017, Eisenhardt’s film Scotty Bowers and the Secret History of Hollywood was screened at DOC NYC.

    Free Solo is the latest in an exciting run of releases for NYFA Documentary faculty. This year alone has seen rave reviews for Claudia Raschke’s work on RBG, Kristen Nutile’s work on Heroin(e), and Maxine Trump’s To Kid or Not To Kid, all of whom are instructors at NYFA’s Documentary school. For the past eight years, NYFA has been ranked as one of the nation’s top documentary filmmaking schools, grooming students for the practical challenges, opportunities, and realities that arise when creating documentary films.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Bob Eisenhardt on the continued success of Free Solo!

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    November 8, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 85

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary Alum Kendall Ciesemier Talks Activism, Social Causes

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    Chicago native, New York-based producer, writer, and social entrepreneur Kendall Ciesemier has been making waves with breaking news stories and interviews about social causes ever since she was 11 years old. At that young age, she formed Kids Caring 4 Kids to empower young people to help provide basic human needs to children living in sub-Saharan Africa. While she was at Georgetown University, Kendall co-founded OWN IT, a women’s leadership initiative to empower college-aged women to engage with women leaders. And at New York Film Academy (NYFA), Ciesemier completed the 6-week Documentary program in 2017.

    Ciesemier’s personal history of health issues inspired her humanitarian work. Expounding upon that, she says, “My own health struggles entirely formed the lens through which I look at the world.” In lieu of gifts and flowers during her recovery, she humbly requested well-wishers donate to the village of Musele, Zambia — the most highly affected area by the AIDS epidemic at the time. “I found my purpose in founding Kids Caring 4 Kids,” added Ciesemier. Since 2004, 8,000 individuals in five different African countries have been assisted via the construction of dormitories, orphan care centers, a clinic, classrooms, computer labs, bicycles, indoor plumbing, meals, and clean water.

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    LINK IN BIO: My interview with #MeToo founder @taranajaneen just dropped on @mic’s FB watch show: #MicDispatch. Go watch and learn and wow! Tarana really brings it. We discuss Kavanaugh, the one year anniversary of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the state of the #MeToo movement. . Here’s her message for survivors which I found so comforting: “I want us to lay our burdens down. This should be laid at the feet of the Senate. This should be laid at the feet of your local politicians. It should be laid at the feet of the school or institution or whoever that didn't protect you. It's not our burden to bear.” #survivors #believesurvivors #metoo #believewomen #metoomovement

    A post shared by Kendall Ciesemier (@kendallciesemier) on

    Now a producer at Mic, Ciesemier recently found herself helping out with an interview of rising political star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected to the House in 2018 as the youngest woman in Congressional history. The Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed 29-year old recently stunned the country after defeating longtime incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th District. Ocasio-Cortez was interviewed alongside fellow DSA-supported Cynthia Nixon, who lost her bid to defeat incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo.

    At Mic, her topics range from criminal justice reform, racial justice, the #MeToo movement, and more. Her recent interview with Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving life without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense, helped lead to Johnson’s clemency as is arguably the highlight of Ciesemier’s career.

    Speaking of the experience, Ciesemier said, “We actually drove down alongside her family, three hours from Memphis to Alabama. We were racing to get there in time to pick up Alice and watching her walk across the street and see her family across from the prison was pretty powerful.” She continued, “I think, as a journalist, you’re taught to just do your job — but you’re also a human being. I don’t think I processed all of that experience until a good four days after. This is a story I’ll never forget.”

    Ciesemier tweeted her emotional reaction to the release:

    Activists also showed their support of Alice Marie Johnson’s release, including Reese Witherspoon, who thanked Ciesemeier on Twitter for her efforts:

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kendall Ciesemier for her time and, more importantly, her community service, philanthropy, and activism. We wish her the best of luck with all her future endeavors.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update: NBC News Edition

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    There is an old saying about how “the only constant is change.” That is certainly true of Broadcast Journalism. Whether you are a major TV network, an up-and-coming producer, or a student just learning the basics, you can’t stand still. 

    The latest case in point comes from NBC News, which is launching a new streaming service called NBC News Signal. Aimed at folks far younger than me, who use media in far different ways than my generation, it will have its own “nightly news” hosted by Simone Boyce.

    The major networks have long posted stories — and even full programs — on their websites. But the majority of you reading this don’t “watch” TV in conventional fashion. If someone wants to reach you, they are going to have to do it through your phone, in a way that stylistically mirrors other digital information services.

    It’s a crowded field… CBS, Fox, ABC, Cheddar… they are all out there competing for the digital audience. Then there is streaming media app Flex, which went into the news business through its acquisition of Watchup. Flex started as a way to organize your digital content. Now they want to provide content.

    Whatever happens regarding distribution platforms, there will always be a need for something to distribute, for content. Learn the skills essential to being a content creator — in the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism school, for instance — and there is a place for you out there.

    Last week saw a return visit to the Academy by CNBC reporter Leslie Picker. Leslie is so generous with her time, coming in to teach a Master Class for our students. She shared with them insights into how things work “in the real world,” using the arc of her own career as a starting point. She also discussed how stories evolve as they are being reported, and the resulting debates in the newsroom on the best way(s) to cover them.

    After class, all the students had the opportunity to chat with Leslie. For all of her kindness, she left with the highly coveted (and somewhat rare) black NYFA baseball cap…

    Leslie Picker

    Leslie Picker

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    October 29, 2018 • Broadcast Journalism • Views: 28

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update – October 23, 2018

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    Last week, my long time friend and former colleague Grace Wong (currently of ABC News) contacted me about the New York Press Club Foundation’s Annual Conference on Journalism, asking if any New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism students would like to attend.

    Broadcast Journalism

    Well it didn’t take long to find out that a number of students did indeed want to go. So, under the leadership of faculty member Evgenia Vlasova, early on Saturday, October 13 they made their way to the NYC conference site. 

    Besides getting to meet practicing national and New York area journalists, they had an opportunity to chat with the guest speakers as well. That included Jill Colvin, who is White House correspondent for the Associated Press. You can only imagine the stories she had to tell, given that she started covering Donald Trump when he was just one of many candidates seeking to be the Republican nominee for President.

    That’s Jill, third from the right, with Genia and some of the NYFA students:

    Broadcast Journalism

    Students also met Kathryn Dill, who is an editor at CNBC Digital, where she oversees coverage of careers, the workforce, and women in business, for what is primarily a millennial audience.

    That’s Kathryn in the middle:
    Broadcast Journalism

    These days, some journalists work in the so-called “gig economy” not out of necessity, but by choice. Creating content for a wide range of outlets sometimes offers more income security than being tied to a single platform. (Just ask newspaper reporters…)

    Lisa Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with credits from The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Rolling Stone, and other publications and websites. She has reported from several counties, including Haiti from 2010-2014. She is on the left in the picture below:
    Broadcast Journalism

    This is why it is so important to study in New York. There are opportunities here you just can’t find anywhere else…

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    October 23, 2018 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 25

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update – October 17, 2018

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    Everyone knows how much I enjoy writing about New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism graduates. But usually I only “talk” with them via email and Facebook. Recently, however, two of them were actually able to stop by!

    Ibtisam (“Tisam”) Karaasian had already graduated from the Broadcast Journalism 1-year Conservatory Program when I arrived at NYFA in September 2013. But she was still “here” as a TA. Much of what I initially learned about the “student’s perspective” of the program I first heard from Tisam. Later she returned home to Germany, and has worked on a number of different things including a long-term project for the United Nations. And she shared all of this with the current students… and instructor Evgenia Vlasova.

    Broadcast Journalism
    As all current and former NYFA Broadcast Journalism students know, we have a “skills-based” curriculum. And while those skills are essential to the practice of conventional journalism, they can be used in a wide range of media genres and forms.

    I say that because last week I saw someone else who I first met when I arrived at NYFA, Ljubica (“Lubi”) Popovic. She was part of the very first class I taught at NYFA, the 12-week Evening workshop. Currently she is working at the production unit of the City University of New York (CUNY), but that’s just the start. For Fashion Week New York she was a casting director assistant and worked on all the runway preparations for Tadashi Shoji and Bosideng. That meant working with top models, and A-List Hollywood celebrities like Jeremy Renner and Anne Hathaway.

    Next up she is producing a Comedy Special for Sasha Srbulj, which will be filmed in mid-November at the BRIC theatre in Brooklyn.

    ###

    So, did I ever tell you how I studied French for four years… three years in high school, one year in college? Probably not, since almost everything I learned was long ago forgotten. But I am glad to know that NYFA grad Delphine Darmency is still contributing to francophone culture. She recently posted a nice multimedia piece about the Women’s March in New York for French media giant TV5Monde.

    Fabulous work, Delphine…

    Finally, the two great “secrets” behind incredible human interest stories aren’t secrets at all. Everybody knows them… little kids and animals, neither of whom will do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it.

    NYFA alum Livia Fernanda creates online video content at Somar Meteorologia in Brazil. Last week she posted a gem of a story about little kids, climate, and TV weathercasting. I don’t even understand what the children are saying — my Portuguese language skills being worse than my French — but it is still cute. Take a look for yourself… (BTW, that’s the green screen effect that every 1-year NYFA Broadcast Journalism student learns about.)

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    October 17, 2018 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 431

  • Photographer Amy Arbus Gives Master Class to New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Students

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    Acclaimed photographer Amy Arbus visited the New York Film Academy’s Battery Park campus to speak to Photography school students. Arbus’ work has been featured in many periodicals such as Rolling Stone, Village Voice, and New York Magazine, and is featured in many collections including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library, and the New York Public Library. Amy’s family has been renowned for their photography — she is the daughter of legendary photographer Diane Arbus, and is also the sister of famed Doon Arbus.

    Amy Arbus at NYFA

    Amy Arbus at NYFA

    Her 80s street style column for Village Voice On the Street is considered one of her seminal works. “Photographers‘ first stuff is what sticks,” Arbus told NYFA students. She captured celebrities on the streets of New York City, including a young Madonna just before the release of her debut album. Her column also included British punk rockers, The Clash, in their prime.

    Of her project, Ladies of the Night, Arbus said, “I broke every rule that I was ever taught.” These photos were taken in secret, from afar, without comprising
    the subjects’ anonymity. Throughout the lecture, Arbus repeatedly referenced the romanticism of those photographs. Her influences also include Film Noir and Modernist Art.

    During a master class with Richard Avedon in 1992, Arbus resolved some of her emotions surrounding her mother’s death (Diane Arbus died by suicide in her bath when Amy was 17). Her Tubs Pictures is a series of nude self-portraits taken in a bathtub and were featured by Avedon in his article on Amy Arbus in Aperture’s Photographers on Photographers issue 151.

    One specific piece of Avedon’s advice that still motivates her to this day was a fitting message to the students in attendance: “You’ve got to contribute something to the medium… you have to do something unique.”

    Arbus is in the midst of her new series Outsiders, seen below, via her Instagram.

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    He’s a heartbreaker

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    October 8, 2018 • #WomenOfNYFA, Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 1041

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Update: October 2, 2018

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    Last week was the first week for the new class of students attending the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism school. On their third day of classes they were introduced to nonlinear video editing software. Yes, it was time to meet Avid Media Composer 8. And the first reactions were… positive. The credit goes to our fabulous Editing instructor Christine Schottanes, and equally stellar TA (and NYFA grad) Catherine Kobayashi, for making complicated software understandable.

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    The class has students from Zambia, New York City, Ukraine, Connecticut, England, China, Louisiana, Spain, and Brazil.

    Broadcast Journalism Update

    When I posted this on Facebook, I heard from NYFA grad Laura Isern. She was chosen from among more than a thousand applicants for a prestigious journalism training program run by Brazilian media giant Globo.

    She wrote: “I’m using Avid in my internship a lot. Classes were really helpful.”

    And speaking (again) of Catherine Kobayashi, the two of us were part of a Virtual Open House last Wednesday. It was great to get questions from people everywhere, including some folks for whom it was the middle of the night. (Now that’s dedication…) If you were one of the participants, thanks for spending time with us. And if you have any additional questions, we’d be happy to answer them…
    Broadcast Journalism Update

    So the Broadcast Journalism camera classes Celina Liv Danielsen took as a student at NYFA came in handy last week. That’s her in the picture below, shooting (and producing) a story at the United Nations for Denmark TV 2.

    Broadcast Journalism Update
    And here is some of what she wrote to me…

    “…my new job title is journalist and producer for our US correspondent who is based in Washington DC. Together we are going to cover all US news for the people of Denmark. My job is to find all stories that we are going to produce for our newscast. I’m calling and finding all the sources, writing the manuscripts and articles, I’m the photographer when we are covering events where we are not making stories for our newscast but only covering it live. If my boss is on vacation or is doing other things then I’m reporting live to Danish national television. So I’m pretty busy and have a lot on my plate but it is so much fun. Since I got here I have only been in my apartment four times.  

    The first week was very hectic. I reported live from John McCain’s memorial in DC, then the Danish photographer and I flew to Boston to meet my boss (the US correspondent) to do a story there, then on to Toronto Film Festival and then San Francisco to cover the world’s first try to send out a machine in the ocean that can pick up all the plastic. Three days later we were in North Carolina covering the hurricane and this week was all about the UN. Next up is the midterm elections where we move out in “Trump land” to do many stories and then on election night a lot of live reporting. 

    I’m living in another city and get to travel all over America – it is so perfect. And I work with a very famous journalist from Denmark over here so people back home are starting to know my name in a bigger scale then before. Feel very lucky and blessed. But it took a lot of hard work

    WOW!

    Viviane Faver was a member of my very first class of 1-year Broadcast Journalism students in Fall 2013, after I had arrived at NYFA just a little more than a year earlier. Well I am still in New York, and so is Viviane. Last week she was doing what we in the business call a “cross-platform” story. It will appear in a Brazilian newspaper, a magazine, and on a website. Here is how she summed up the experience on Facebook:

    “I just had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of @Climategroup, Helen Clarkson. ‘As countries step up to drive down emissions it’s important not to leave others behind. We need to ensure a fair and just transition to a clean economy that benefits us all.’”

    That’s Viviane on the right, in the picture below…
    Broadcast Journalism Update

    Thanks to LinkedIn, each morning I get to see the latest edition of GeekWire, hosted by NYFA grad Starla Sampaco. (Not “Sanpan,” as the autocorrect on my email keeps changing it to.) Last week she was reporting on how the cofounders of Instagram were leaving the company. But with all the talk about “fake news,” I have some questions, Starla… That’s a whole lot of blue sky behind you. I thought it rained in Washington State every day…

    Broadcast Journalism Update

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    October 2, 2018 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 434

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Ilaria Polsonetti Nominated for News & Documentary Emmy

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Documentary school alum Ilaria Polsonetti’s film has been nominated for multiple awards at the 39th Annual News & Documentary Emmys. Made for VICE News Tonight on HBO, “Libya: Intercepting Migrants” is nominated for Outstanding Editor News and for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story. Winners are announced on the first of October in New York City.

    Ilaria Polsonetti

    Ilaria Polsonetti

    Polsonetti graduated from NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary program in 2011. She is also a graduate of the 3-Month Screenwriting program, which she finished in 2013. Over the course of her career, the editor has melded her knowledge gleaned at NYFA with her M.S. in Sociology (London School of Economics). After graduating, she worked for Market Road Films, Singer Street Films, and as a freelance editor.

    A screenshot from "Dirty Oil in Nigeria"

    A screenshot from “Dirty Oil”

    Since 2015, Polsonetti has worked for VICE in Brooklyn. With the expansive and ever-growing global media brand, she has had the chance to work on urgent and political topics such as Libya’s migrant crisis and Venezuela’s anti-government protests. VICE’s increasingly diverse and critically-acclaimed documentary series’ have been an ideal place for the multicultural filmmaker to hone her skills. In 2017 alone, Polsonetti worked on “German Hotelier turns Hotel into a Migrant Center,” “Dirty Oil,” and “The Politics of Terror” in addition to the aforementioned Libya piece. Along with her work for VICE, Polsonetti has worked on “The Notorious Mr. Bout” and “First to Fall.” She was also recently editor on VICE’s Raised in the System” starring Michael K. Williams (aka Omar on “The Wire”).

    Documentary Chair Andrea Swift says of Polsonetti’s work,”These nominations don’t surprise me in the least. Ilaria has always been an insightful and diligent editor who demonstrated a unique sensitivity to the human experience. She developed a strong sense of story that is equally evident in this piece.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Ilaria Polsonetti on her recent success and looks forward to seeing what she works on next! You can watch VICE on HBO’s documentary on migrants in the Mediterranean below:

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  • Shanghai Theatre Academy Representatives Visit New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    Earlier this September, representatives from the Shanghai Theatre Academy visited New York Film Academy’s Battery Park campus in New York City. These representatives included Mr. Lou, General Secretary of Shanghai Theatre Academy, and Mr. Wei, Vice Dean of Film School of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, as well as scholars who are currently in New York.Shanghai Theatre Academy Visit

    The Shanghai Theatre Academy representatives sat down with senior administration and faculty from New York Film Academy (NYFA) to discuss cultural and education affairs between the US and China, as well as potential future partnerships. These senior administration and faculty members from the New York Film Academy included Mr. Jean Sherlock, CEO and owner of the Academy; Mr. Michael Young, President; Mr. David Klein, Senior Executive Vice President; and Dr. Joy Zhu, Executive Vice President (China Region). 

    Both parties have met several times in the past and have already established a strong partnership. The discussions that took place during this month’s meeting were focused mainly on the forefront issues and future plans for furthering educational partnerships between the US and China. 

    Mr. Lou took this opportunity to share his experiences and thoughts on how the Internet has completely reshaped the way entertainment and film are now studied. His perspectives were incredibly deep and well articulated, with Mr. Sherlock and Mr. Young both agreeing with many of his views and thoughts. 

    Shanghai Theatre Academy VisitDiscussions also continued on how to maintain and strengthen the cultural and education relations between the East and West as well as future opportunities for the two institutions to specifically work together. NYFA has prided itself on its focus for a cultural exchange of ideas between the school’s global campuses and the students and educators of China. 

    Late last year, President Michael Young toured China to strengthen the Academy’s cooperation with the country’s aspiring filmmakers, actors, and storytellers. And earlier this summer, a class of students from Shanghai Theatre Academy took a 1-week Photography course at NYFA, where they trained on state-of-the-art equipment with the school’s renowned professional faculty. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks the representatives from the Shanghai Theatre Academy for their visit and for a meaningful and intelligent discussion over several subjects!

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    September 25, 2018 • China, Community Highlights, International Diversity • Views: 348