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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Jason Shah Interviewed by ‘The Tribune’

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    Earlier this year, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Jason Shah was interviewed in a Q&A with The Tribune, the daily English-language newspaper that has been circulated throughout India since 1881.

    Shah first attended NYFA’s Acting for Film program in September 2009 at our New York City campus, where he received a hands-on education from working, professional actors, writers, directors, and producers who are veterans of Hollywood, independent film, and television. In addition to acting, he has modeled and worked as a fitness coach.

    Jason Shah

    His credits include Indian productions such as Bigg Boss, Chandrashekhar Azaad, Inside Edge Season II, and the film Dev D. His latest role in the historical drama Jhansi Ki Rani, which co-stars Anuja Sathe, Aishwarya Raj Bhakuni, and Rajesh Shringarpure, gained Shah enough buzz for The Tribune to sit down with him for an interview.

    Shah spoke of his background—he is half English and half American—as well as his new role in Jhansi Ki Rani. The series, which premiered this year, is the story of the fierce warrior Manikarnika, who was later given the name of Rani Laxmibai, Queen of Jhansi. Shah credits his fluency in Hindi as a crucial skill for landing the part, as well as sharing a lot in common with his character, a foreigner in India.

    Acting isn’t Shah’s only passion. When asked by The Tribune where he saw himself in five years, Shah replied, “I feel after this I might want to go into direction and produce something myself. I have been working on it with a few friends, just waiting for the right time.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Jason Shah on his Tribune interview and his role on Jhansi Ki Rani!

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    April 24, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 55

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum and Emmy Winner Bill Hader

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    On Thursday, April 18, New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum and prolific actor, writer, and director Bill Hader participated in a lively and entertaining Q&A following a screening of his hit HBO series Barry. The event was moderated by Director of the NYFA Q&A Series Tova Laiter.

    Hader is best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, for which he won an Emmy, and has acted in a number of successful films including Superbad (2007), The Skeleton Twins (2014) and Trainwreck (2015), among many others. 

    Laiter opened up the Q&A by asking Hader about his start in the industry. He shared that while he did funny impressions for his friends and family when he was growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he really loved to go to the movies. “When I watched a movie, I got really drawn in by the story, the cinematography, the look of it, the feel of it,” said Hader. 

    When Hader was a teenager, he enjoyed making short films of his own and enrolled in a Filmmaking workshop at NYFA where he made four short films and got a lot of positive feedback from his instructors. Ultimately, Hader moved to Los Angeles, where he started as a production assistant and various low level jobs in the industry.

    Bill Hader

    After working for a while as a production assistant, Hader started to feel creatively unsatisfied, so he started taking improv comedy classes at Second City Theater in Hollywood. Actress Megan Mullally saw Hader perform at Second City and noticed how talented he was and told executive producer of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels, about him. “I had no manager, no agent, no anything,” said Hader, “so I met Lorne Michaels and I auditioned… I auditioned like four or five times for the show… and finally I got the job.”

    A number of students in the audience were interested in asking Hader questions. One student asked how Hader makes his acting feel authentic on shows like Barry. “You have to be truthful, instinctual, and not just go for the laughs,” said Hader. He shared that he watches others express their emotions through small idiosyncrasies and that he will occasionally mimic those mannerisms while acting.

    Another student inquired about Hader’s writing process for Barry. “We kind of have little ‘tentpole’ scenes,” said Hader, “we gotta write this to get to that… We’re constantly working on it but we never fully plan… but the fun of it is kinda seeing where the characters take it… Know that the process is messy and that you’re gonna fail a lot.” He emphasized that writing should always be “character driven” and centered on emotion.

    Bill Hader

    One student asked what advice Hader would give to his younger self when he was starting his career. “I would say to myself, ‘You don’t need to figure it all out this millisecond; it takes time.’ 

    I was terrified of failing… but you have to fail; you have to learn from that and keep doing it and keep doing it… it’s all a process,” said Hader.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank actor, writer, and NYFA alum Bill Hader for sharing his writing and acting advice as well as the lessons he learned from his experience in the entertainment industry with our students.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Alum Abby Ajayi Featured in Largest Hollywood Reporter Photo Shoot Ever

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    Abby Ajayi, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting alum, was one of 63 black female writers featured in an epic photo shoot by The Hollywood Reporter late last year. In a rebuke to the industry sentiment that it’s hard to diversify writers rooms because there aren’t enough women writers and writers of color to choose from, the industry magazine gathered dozens of women from the networking group Black Women Who Brunch.

    Black Women Who Brunch (BWB) was founded in 2014 by television writers Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Erika L. Johnson, and Lena Waithe as a way to get black female TV writers a chance to meet, support, and get to know one another. Their first meeting was in March 2014 and had 12 attendees. The current membership of BWB is now around 80.

    In addition to taking photos, many of the women shared their experiences and thoughts on being black women television writers—many of whom were the only person of color on their staff. NYFA alum Abby Ajayi was one of those at the shoot interviewed. Unlike many of her peers, she wasn’t the only woman or person of color in her writers room.

    Abby Ajayi

    “On How to Get Away With Murder,” Ajayi toldThe Hollywood Reporter, “there were seven women in the room and six were women of color. It didn’t fall on one person to be the voice of all women or all black people. Having multiple women from diverse ethnic backgrounds broadened the conversation, which in turn led to richer, deeper characters.” 

    Ajayi added, “It’s also inspiring to see the women higher up the ladder prove that there is a path.”

    Ajayi originally hails from Nigeria and attended NYFA’s Screenwriting school in 2011. In addition to How to Get Away with Murder, Ajayi has worked on Eastenders, Doctors, and Hetty Feather. She is currently co-producing Hulu’s limited series adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Screenwriting alum Abby Ajayi on her current success and encourages everyone to read The Hollywood Reporter’s piece!

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    April 16, 2019 • Diversity, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 450

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Student Covers ‘Game of Thrones’

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    The world premiere of the final season of mega hit HBO series Game of Thrones took place last night, and fans of the fantasy series all over the world could not be more excited. HBO is using this excitement to promote the show in every way possible. That included installing “iron thrones” (like the one in the show) in a number of remote places around the world, then tweeting hints so people could search for them.

    NYFA News – Game of Thrones from Bill Einreinhofer on Vimeo.

    One was in New York City. Well, in a very, very remote part of New York. People rushed to Fort Totten Park in Queens to have their 30 seconds with the throne. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism student Nicole Abebe made the journey—on the subway from Manhattan to the last stop on the 7 line, then another 45 minutes by bus—to see why people were willing to come from across the city, and beyond, then spend hours on line, just to shoot a selfie on the “throne.”

    Game of Thrones Broadcast Journaliism
    Game of Thrones Broadcast Journaliism

    Fernanda Mueller is a graduate of the Fall 2018 8-Week Broadcast Journalism workshop. Recently, I contacted her to get some feedback about her NYFA experience. And, in addition to sending me an email, she put together a short video! It is truly delightful, and not just because I make a brief “guest appearance.” You don’t even need to know Portuguese to understand it…

    Thanks, Fernanda!


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    April 15, 2019 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 191

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Alumni Win & Place in International PHOTOgraphy Competition

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    Two New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Alumni were recently honored at the 2018 International PHOTOgraphy Competition, run by Latitude Life APS. Lotta Lemetti won in the Culture section of the contest, as well as the overall competition, while Nipun Nayyar placed second in the Nature/Archiecture Category.

    Latitude Life APS is an International Think Tank based in Italy. According to its own mission statement, Latitude Life APS is the “first international operative think tank of the culture sector” and focuses on interests within art, culture, and scientific research.

    The second edition of their International PHOTOgraphy Competition received hundreds of submissions from across the world, including the US, Australia, Canada, Cuba, India, Japan, and Europe. The categories of the competition included Culture, Intimacy, Nature/Architecture, and Street Photography.

    Lotta Lemetti is from Finland and graduated NYFA’s 1-year Conservatory in Photography in New York City before enrolling in the BFA program at our Los Angeles campus, and won Best of the Best – Photographer of the Year for her contribution to the Culture category. She was awarded a Sony 4K camera for her efforts. Nipun Nayyar won second place in the Nature/Architecture section for his overview shot of the Gordon Dam in Tasmania.

    Lotta Lemetti

    The winners were announced March 30, 2019, while the awards ceremony will be held on April 25 at New York Film Academy’s New York City campus at Battery Park. The competition is co-sponsored by NYFA, as well as Sony, Fujifilm, Nikon, and others. The International Jurors  Committee includes NYFA-New York Chair of Photography David Mager, Professor Saul Robbins, Dr. Davide Andretta, and Professor A. Patron.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Photography alum Lotta Lemetti on her win, as well as alum Nipun Nayya and everyone else who was honored in this year’s competition!

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    April 12, 2019 • Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 246

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism Alum Federica Polidoro Builds an Impressive Portfolio of Media Interviews

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Federica Polidoro has kept busy since graduating the 4-week Broadcast Journalism workshop in July 2016, building a steady and impressive portfolio of interviews with several high-profile filmmakers and actors for multiple leading publications across the globe.

    While at NYFA, Polidoro learned to to identify and make arrangements for story and interview subjects, choose and secure locations, prepare equipment, arrange preparation and setup of the locations, and make final technical checks. One piece she shot at NYFA was about the astrologer Angel Eyedealism. “NYFA is in my heart and I have wonderful memories about the program I attended,” Polidoro says about her experience at the Academy.

    Federica Polidoro

    Polidoro currently works as a freelance journalist for several primary publishing companies in Italy, and has already conducted several high-profile interviews, particularly in the film and arts industry.

    One such Italian media company Polidoro freelances for is GEDI Gruppo Editoriale, and their national newspaper La Repubblica. This includes her work for Repubblica XL, the publication dedicated to music, comics, and entertainment, and L’Espresso, a prestigious weekly news magazine. Polidoro introduced for L’Espresso at the Cannes Film Festival last year, where they released interviews with filmmakers and actors including Sofia Coppola.

    For Rolling Stone Italy, Polidoro reviewed Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman directly from Cannes, and was able to interview Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee and NYFA Guest Speaker Adam Driver. She also interviewed veteran director Terry Gilliam about his decades-old passion project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, as well as legendary composer Philip Glass.

    Polidoro also works with Gruppo 24 ORE’s Il Sole 24 ORE, primarily with their monthly magazine IL, where she has been able to write longer, more in-depth pieces. She earned a cover story when she interviewed filmmaker Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire; Paris, Texas), one of only a few directors to win the Palme d’Or, Golden Lion, Golden Bear, and an Academy Award.

    Polidoro has also interviewed the Coen Brothers for their Netflix and Oscar-nominated film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Alfonso Cuarón about his critically lauded film Roma.

    Recently, Polidoro was guest of King Mohammed VI and Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco for the Marrakech Film Festival, together with other selected members of the international press (she was the only Italian female entertainment journalist of the group.)

    At Marrakech, Polidoro interviewed Robert De Niro, Julian Schnabel, and Guillermo Del Toro, among others. Soon she will be launching video interviews for IL as well, starting with director James Gray, the Jury President of the Festival.

    Polidoro has also recently become a contributor for Cineuropa, the first European portal dedicated to cinema and audiovisual in four languages, for which she interviewed Palme d’Or winner Christian Mungiu. She also works for Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, which published her interviews with filmmaker Errol Morris about Wormwood and filmmaker Paul Greengrass about 22 July, as well as a very intriguing interview with directors Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor about their documentary Caniba.

    “There is something so exciting in talking with creators that you just become addicted and you finally just set your whole life to enjoy those rare, rarified, and immersive moments of overwhelming happiness and satisfaction,” Polidoro tells NYFA. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Federica Polidoro on all of her hard-earned success so far, and looks forward to following her career in the future. We encourage everyone to check out her stories and interviews!

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    March 8, 2019 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 629

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Holds Meet and Greet for Alumni

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    On Thursday, December 6, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a TALENT MEET AND GREET at its Los Angeles Campus. NYFA invited talent agents and managers from around Hollywood to meet with Acting for Film alumni in an informal setting. 

    Agents and managers that attended the event were: Guy Kochlani (Across the Board Talent Agency), Laura Bowman (Brady, Brannon & Rick Talent), Ryan Hayden (Ideal Talent Agency), Denise Barrett (BBA Talent), Jean-Marc Carre & Vincent Carre (Central Artists), Sandy Oroumieh & Lucia Chiao (Rothman / Andrés Entertainment), Christopher Montgomery-Bender (Prodigy Talent), and Tyler Kahl (Allegory Creative Talent).  

    December 2018 NYFA Alumni Meet & Greet

    The talent agents and managers set up their own desks and booths and NYFA alumni went from table to table handing out headshots and spending a few minutes with each representative. For the aspiring actors this was a unique opportunity to meet many talent representatives — all in one evening!

    The NYFA alumni were given time to pitch themselves and ask the agents and managers advice on careers, the entertainment industry, and how to succeed. Hearing real-world critiques from a variety of industry professionals helped them better prepare for their future as they continue to network and pursue their acting careers.  

    Barbara Weintraub, Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development, organized the event and was thrilled with the turnout and positive feedback from both the alumni and agencies. She heard back from students the next day who were contacted by the companies.  

    Here is just some of what the alumni had to say following the meet and greet:

    This experience has been nothing short of amazing. It’s one thing to email your headshot and resume to an agent and hope to hear back, but now not only do you get to hand them a physical copy — you get to sell your personality to them.
    —Jack

    I love this. It’s a great opportunity to meet with agents and managers!
    —Belle Guillory

    It’s great to see agents in real life instead of just submitting your headshot.
    —Laura Van Yck

    This event is so great, and I am so happy that the school is doing this and giving us the opportunity to get in touch with people in the industry and to get to know new people and talk to them.
    —Anna Salles

    New York Film Academy thanks the industry representatives for their time and looks forward to having more of these events in the future!

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    December 14, 2018 • Acting, Alumni Events, Community Highlights • Views: 591

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum and Guest Speakers Earn Golden Globe Nominations

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    On December 6, nominations for the 76h Annual Golden Globes were announced live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Golden Globe Awards have been given out to cast and crew of film and television productions since 1944, and are selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The ceremony naming the winners will be held on January 6, 2019, hosted by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg.

    This year’s nominees include some surprises, as well past winners and past nominees. Unlike the Academy Awards, the Globes include categories in television, and divides many of its categories between drama and comedy/musical categories.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is pleased to see members of its community earn several nominations, and looks forward to seeing them at the ceremonial dinner in January, where we hope they come away with the prestigious Golden Globe statuette!

    NYFA alum and Saturday Night Live veteran Bill Hader is up for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for his lead performance in the HBO hit series, Barry, which is also up for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Earlier this year, Hader earned five Emmy nominations for his work on the show, and came away with a win for Outstanding Lead Actor.

    His Barry co-star, veteran actor Henry Winkler, also won an Emmy this year, and is also up for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. Winkler has been a guest speaker for New York Film Academy students in the past. 

    Other guest speakers and lecturers at New York Film Academy have also worked on several nominated films and television series this year. This includes Adam Driver, who spoke with NYFA students in New York City earlier this year, and who has a featured role in BlacKKKlansman, nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

    Ralph Breaks the Internet, the highly anticipated sequel to Wreck It Ralph, is up for Best Motion Picture – Animated. Guest speaker for NYFA Los Angeles Amy Smeed served as an animator on the hit movie.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and star of Broadway hits Hamilton and In the Heights, is nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for his role in Mary Poppins Returns. His agent, Andrew Finkelstein, spoke with NYFA students in a productive Q&A at our Los Angeles campus.

    Actress Thandie Newton earned a nod for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her powerful performance in the HBO epic, Westworld. The sci-fi robot yarn with a western twist has had two NYFA alumni work on it. Francesco Panzieri, a Visual Effects artist for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Infinity War, worked on the series. Panzieri took 1-Year 3D Animation & VFX at NYFA in 2008.

    Eric Demeusy, who attended the 1-Year Filmmaking program at NYFA’s film school in Los Angeles, worked on Westworld’s famous and evocative title sequence. He’s previously won the Emmy for Main Title Design for his work on Netflix smash hit, Stranger Things.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates this year’s Golden Globe nominees and looks forward to seeing the ceremony next month!

    Here is a full list of the nominees for 2019 Golden Globe Awards:

    Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
    Amy Adams, Vice
    Claire Foy, First Man
    Regina king, If Beale Street Could Talk
    Emma Stone, The Favourite
    Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

    Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
    Mahershala Ali, Green Book
    Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
    Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
    Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Sam Rockwell, Vice

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
    Olivia Coleman, The Favourite
    Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
    Charlize Theron, Tully
    Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
    Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians

    Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
    Glenn Close, The Wife
    Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
    Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
    Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
    Rosamund Pike, A Private War

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
    Lin Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns
    Viggo Mortinson, Green Book
    Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun
    John C Riley, Stan And Ollie

    Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
    Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
    Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
    Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased
    Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
    John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

    Best Director – Motion Picture
    Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
    Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
    Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
    Adam McKay, Vice
    Peter Farrelly, Green Book

    Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
    Roma
    The Favourite
    If Beale Street Could Talk
    Vice
    Green Book

    Best Original Score – Motion Picture
    A Quiet Place
    Isle of Dogs
    Black Panther
    First Man
    Mary Poppins Returns 

    Best Original Song – Motion Picture
    “All The Stars,” Black Panther 
    “Girl in the Movies,” Dumpling
    “Requiem for a Private War,” A Private War
    “Revelation,” Boy Erased
    “Shallow,” A Star is Born

    Best Foreign Language Film
    Capernaum
    Girl
    Never Look Away
    Roma
    Shoplifters

    Best Motion Picture, Animated
    Incredibles 2
    Isle of Dogs
    Mirai
    Ralph Breaks the Internet
    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
    The Favourite
    Green Book
    Vice
    Mary Poppins Returns
    Crazy Rich Asians

    Best Motion Picture, Drama
    BlacKkKlansman
    If Beale Street Could Talk
    Black Panther
    A Star Is Born
    Bohemian Rhapsody

    Best Actress in a Limited-Series or TV Movie
    Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
    Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
    Connie Britton, Dirty John
    Laura Dern, The Tale
    Regina King, Seven Seconds

    Best Actor in a Limited-Series or TV Movie
    Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso
    Daniel Bruhl, The Alienist
    Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
    Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal 

    Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Limited-Series, or TV Movie
    Alex Bornstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects
    Penelope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Thandie Newton, Westworld
    Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale

    Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited-Series or TV Movie
    Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
    Kieran Culkin, Succession
    Edgar Ramirez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
    Henry Winkler, Barry

    Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy
    Kristen Bell, The Good Place
    Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown
    Alison Brie, Glow
    Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Debra Messing, Will & Grace

    Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy
    Sasha Baron Cohen, Who Is America?
    Jim Carrey, Kidding
    Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
    Donald Glover, Atlanta
    Bill Hader, Barry

    Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama
    Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
    Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
    Julia Roberts, Homecoming
    Keri Russell, The Americans

    Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama
    Jason Bateman, Ozark
    Stephan James, Homecoming
    Richard Madden, Bodyguard
    Billy Porter, Pose
    Matthew Rhys, The Americans

    Best TV Movie or Limited-Series
    The Alienist
    The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    Escape at Dannemora
    Sharp Objects
    A Very English Scandal

    Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy
    The Good Place
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    The Kominsky Method
    Kidding
    Barry

    Best TV Series, Drama
    The Americans
    Bodyguard
    Homecoming
    Killing Eve
    Pose

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    December 13, 2018 • Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1022

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Lujein Ashi

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailLujein Ashi is a filmmaker, graphic designer, and storyteller who works for Saudi Arabia’s leading oil company, Saudi Aramco. In August, Lujein completed the 4-week Filmmaking workshop at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus after winning a scholarship with a 1-minute video. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) met up with Lujein to find out what her experience was like with the program, and what her plans for the future include.Lujein Ashi

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): So, how did your interest in coming here start? 

    Lujein Ashi (LA): I’ve always loved filmmaking stories since I was a child. I told stories to my sisters before we’d go to sleep, stuff I’d make up. I remember there was one moment that really stood out to me in my life. I went to watch Lord of the Rings in the cinema. I was with my friends. When we left everybody was so happy, but I felt sad. I didn’t understand it then. I understand it now. I felt like I was on the wrong side of the screen, like I was the one who was supposed to be giving people that feeling, not people giving that feeling to me. So, stories have always been a part of my life. 

    When it came time to choose what I wanted to study in college, I had to choose something that was practical. In the Gulf, we don’t have many opportunities for film, but then the New York Film Academy came to Bahrain to do a promo. I went and I just sat there and listened to [Dean of Enrollment Services] Tami Alexander do the presentation. She was really sweet. 

    I told her one day I’m going to come — hopefully, if it’s meant for me — and I signed up to their newsletter. I think it was like a month or two later, I get an email saying there was an opportunity for two scholarships for Saudi students. They want to encourage Saudi filmmakers because they’re opening cinemas in Saudi. 

    I saw the email late. I had two days to come up with my 1-minute video. I’ve never done a film before, but I knew I could write. So I wrote a script really fast and I did a very little video. I must have done something right, because she contacted me and told me I was one of the two students that got the scholarship. I was really, really happy. I cried hysterically.

    So I came here. It’s been a crazy four weeks. It’s just so amazing, the collaboration that you have with people… people that were strangers to me on Day One are like really close friends. There’s nothing like it, really. It’s everything I thought it would be, and even more.

    NYFA: Why did you choose the city of Los Angeles?

    LA: I think there’s no place better to learn filmmaking than in Los Angeles because it’s the hub of worldwide, excellent movies. It’s where the Hollywood industry is. Universal, Warner Brothers… all of these places, they’re all here. So there’s no place better to learn filmmaking.Lujein Ashi

    NYFA: What did you learn about filmmaking?

    LA: It’s all about story, that’s for sure. If your story is weak, then it doesn’t matter what you’re going to do. It’s not going to be something that touches people. Also technically the camera is your eye. You need to be one with the camera. You have to look through it, and if you don’t like what you see then you’re not going to like your movie. 

    I mean, it’s not like people can imagine what you meant, you know? So you have to be aware of the technical stuff. Which [at first] was very hard for me, because I’ve never touched a camera before, but Charlie did a really good job teaching us.

    NYFA: Is this something you want to continue doing? What’s your plan after this?

    LA: I found my heart here. I really did. It’s an amazing thing to find. People live their whole lives trying to find that thing they love. I think that’s the key to a happy life. I really feel like I found it here. I’m really going to try and do my master’s in this. Hopefully, then I could just do this for as long as I can. 

    NYFA: Do you see opportunities opening up in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain? 

    LA: Yes, for sure! Especially with the opening of cinemas, the government has been opening different entertainment entities trying to open things up to the people. I think there’s definitely going to be a demand for that. It’s going to be an exciting time for Saudi.

    NYFA: As Saudi opens up, is there a place there for you? Do you see yourself working there?

    Lujein AshiLA: I don’t know. I mean, sure, if there’s a place for me in Saudi to make great movies. I would love to. I mean, it’s my country. But to me, my geographic location was never something that was important. I’m very multicultural. My father is from Saudi, my mom’s from Lebanon, I lived in Baghdad, and I’m married to a Palestinian. I come from very different places, so I never felt like I belonged somewhere. Sometimes it’s a disadvantage, but sometimes it’s an advantage. Wherever you are, you feel like you can just connect with people because you’re from everywhere, basically. 

    So yeah, I mean, I could be — for example— in LA or in New York or anywhere with like-minded people, trying to do the same thing, just doing what we love; ultimately making somebody feel something. That’s why we go to the movies, right? Because we want to feel something! I could make somebody feel like Lord Of The Rings made me feel or Game of Thrones or any of these shows that have changed me so profoundly. It just amazes me how somebody could get that feeling out of you. It’s so satisfying. 

    NYFA: You mentioned two high-fantasy titles — is that kind of your thing?

    LA: I love fantasy, yeah. I mean, I love getting out of the real boring world and leaping into somebody’s imagination. That’s something out of this world! 

    NYFA: Why do you think stories are important?Lujein Ashi

    LA: I think they make people feel empathy for one another and understand each other on a level that maybe we don’t. In real life, there are a lot of issues that, when a film sheds light on them, could actually bring people closer together. You know, I think arts and filmmaking have the capacity to change people’s lives, to change societies and to open people up.

    Truthfully, it’s fundamental for our growth. It’s fundamental for us to connect and to see the point-of-view of other people. If I saw it from your perspective, which is what film lets you do, maybe I’ll be able to connect with you and understand you.

    The New York Film Academy wishes Lujein Ashi the best of success with her future endeavors, and hopes to see more of her amazing and beautiful stories in the near future!

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    December 5, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 692

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses Wins Best Cinematography Award

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailJameelah Rose del Prado Lineses has won several awards for her various film projects since attending New York Film Academy (NYFA), and last October, she added another. At the 8th Annual International Film Festival Manhattan, Lineses earned the Best Cinematography Award for her music video, Atareek.Jameelah Rose Lineses

    The 2018 International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM 2018) opened on October 17 and ran until October 21, with its awards ceremony held on October 18 at the Philippine Consulate in New York City. Lineses screened Atareek at the Producers Club Theaters, just a few blocks from Times Square. Saudi Vice Consul of the Saudi Arabian Consulate, Mazin AlMouallimi, was in attendance at the event.

    Atareek is “a journey to the colorful streets of Old Balad” that explores “the beautiful history of the city’s rich culture and heritage.” It was the only film representing Saudi Arabia at this year’s festival, and was shot, directed, edited, and produced by Lineses, who was assisted by her mother throughout the shoot.  

    Lineses picked up a lot of the skills necessary for filmmaking, from pre-production through post-production, at the New York Film Academy, which she first attended in June 2011 when she enrolled in the 8-Week Filmmaking workshop. Two months after that, she deepened her studies and attended the 1-Year Filmmaking program at NYFA’s New York City campus.

    Atareek was filmed in 2017 entirely in Jeddah during the Atareek festival and is the third production Lineses has made that features Historic Jeddah. Her previous films, Historic Jeddah and Our Journey to Hijaz, have garnered significant praise from multiple festivals in the last several years. 

    In addition to Atareek, Lineses worked on two other films that were Official Selections at IFFM 2018. She was Associate Producer on Reunion as well as Assistant Director, Editor, cast member, and one of the producers of Mindanao. 

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses on her film Atareek and her latest award win!  

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    November 30, 2018 • Cinematography, Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 938