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).
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!
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.
New York Film Academy thanks the industry representatives for their time and looks forward to having more of these events in the future!
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
Lujein 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.
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.
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.
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?
LA: 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?
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!
Jameelah 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.
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!
New York Film Academy’s Photography school recently launched its first annual New York Film Academy Photo Alumni Portfolio Review. This year, thirteen of our Photography alumni from around the world gathered at NYFA’S Los Angeles campus for an evening of food, feedback, and networking with top photo industry professionals.
NYFA Photography alumni prepared printed portfolios and came ready to discuss their work and post-graduation photo goals. Our esteemed reviewers included: Photo Agent Jen Jenkins from Giant Artists; Producer and creative consultant, Mara Serdans; and Patti Silverstein from Elemental PhotoArt.
The evening began with an informal discussion with the review committee. Graduates asked about industry standards for portfolio presentation as well as for insight about the next steps they could take to continue their career path. The reviewers also discussed each of their photography journeys.
After the group discussion, both the alumni and reviewers sat down to a delicious Mediterranean meal, and had fun goofing off in our NYFA Photo Booth. The vibe was informal but also productive and rewarding. The evening concluded with each student meeting with a reviewer to get feedback on their personal portfolio projects.
“To be able to hear first hand about your work from people working in the photo industry is the best way to grow and learn as an artist,” says NYFA alum Tanya Gawdi. Gawdi is also the guest alumni editor of FAYN Issue #4. “It was a wonderful networking opportunity and it’s always amazing to be back at NYFA.”
Patti Silverstein, one of the guest reviewers, was also pleased to be there, stating: “I was so happy to have been invited to participate in the NYFA Portfolio event! It was such a fun evening meeting and reviewing the work of a very talented and passionate group of photographers.”
Silverstein continued, “The event was really well organized and relaxed, with just the right amount of time for socializing and for reviewing.”
The New York Film Academy thanks the guest reviewers for their valuable input and congratulates the Photography alumni on their fantastic work!
Lots happening at NYFA over the past couple of weeks, and away from NYFA too. The September 8-week Broadcast Journalism workshop students graduated earlier this month. There they are below, along with instructors Daniel Hernandez and Evgenia Vlasova. The graduates come from (left to right) New York, Ukraine, New Orleans, Norway via London and Brazil. The instructors are originally from Mexico and Russia, although I believe they are now citizens of Brooklyn.
The day after graduation, the 8-week and 1-year students got a behind the scenes tour of NBC News. Col. Jack Jacobs, an MSNBC contributor as well as Chair of NYFA’s Veteran’s Advancement Program, showed them how a network news operation works. In the picture below, they are on the set on the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.
Later they were on a “live” set, for an up-close and personal look at the production of AM Joy, withJoy Reid. Then they went to the control room where the program was being assembled, and sent out “live.”
I think everyone found the tour fascinating, even though we weren’t able to visit the Saturday Night Live set. Apparently a number of the sets for that night’s show were still being built.
Evgenia Vlasova made some news last week too. She was back home to Khabarovsk, in Russia’s Far East, to see her family for the holidays. And she was also back on-the-air, on the morning show that for many years she hosted and co-produced. Who says “you can never go home.”
And as far as I know, Genia is the only person in the Russian Far East with a NYFA hoodie. But who knows, maybe she will recruit some potential students…
Summer Session graduate Mariana Janjacomo has been busy as well. She writes: “Back in Brazil, I’ve been working as a freelance journalist for a lot of media companies… When I was in New York, I got to interview three Hollywood stars for the Capricho website, it is the biggest website for teenagers in Latin America. Lights and camera were already set-up, but it was very challenging to interview them in English. My questions were in the final version of the video too, so I’m glad I had to a chance to practice that kind of interview at NYFA.
Among the stars she interviewed were Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, who are appearing in the film A Simple Favor.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Gonzalo Martin might agree that “life is strange,” especially since he nabbed the lead role in Square Enix’s highly-anticipated video game, Life is Strange 2. Square Enix is the Japanese developer and publisher of wildly popular games Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest, among others.
The episodic graphic adventure video game, available on nearly all major platforms (including Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and macOS), is the sequel to the smash hit and critically-acclaimed Life is Strange, originally released in 2015. That title has sold over 3 million copies to date.
The newest entry released its first episode in September 2018, with the last of five episodes set to come out in 2019. Life is Strange 2 was developed by Dontnod Entertainment (Vampyr, Twin Mirror) and has already been nominated for several gaming awards and won the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Ping Awards.
Life is Strange 2 tells the story of young brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz, who are on the run from the police. The game is a third-person story adventure, with dialogue trees and gaming decisions
affecting the story and future episodes.
Gonzalo Martin stars as lead protagonist Sean Diaz, who the player controls throughout the game. Martin is an Acting for Film alum from the New York Film Academy, having attended the AFA program in 2015, and has previously been a part of the Academy’s admissions team. At NYFA’s acting school, Martin was given both practical experience and a hands-on education to develop his skills as an actor, with training from a faculty of experienced actors currently working in the industry.
Previous acting roles of Martin include BuzzFeed Murder Mystery Stories, and the films I’ll Be Next Door for Christmas and When It Rings.
The New York Film Academy congratulates Gonzalo Martin on landing the lead role in Square Enix’s Life is Strange 2!
Last October, One Night in Miami premiered as a Miami New Drama production at Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre, starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting Alum Kieron Anthony as legendary fighter Cassius Clay.
The play was written by Kemp Powers and staged by Miami native Carl Cofield, associate artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem. It imagines the events of February 25, 1964, after Clay had defeated Sonny Liston and won the World Heavyweight Crown. After the fight, Clay was joined at the Hampton House Motel Room by three other famous men of color — Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, and Malcolm X.
Leon Thomas III, Esau Pritchett and Jason Delane listen as Kieron Anthony’s Cassius Clay (standing on bed) recounts his victory over Sonny Liston in “One Night in Miami.” Photo by STIAN ROENNING
While only the surviving member of the foursome, Jim Brown, knows what the men really discussed that night, One Night in Miami postulates what could have been happened when four such prominent personalities are confined in a small room after such an incredible evening. The play, which takes place during Segregation, also incorporates important themes of race and religion in the 1960s.
Kieron Anthony plays the pivotal role of Cassius Clay, who the day after the night depicted in the play would announce his conversion to the Nation of Islam. He would change his name and be known by for the rest of his life as Muhammad Ali. Of his performance, Christine Dolen wrote in the Miami Herald that Anthony “conveys the young champ’s joyous confidence as he reenacts moments of his life-changing fight for his famous friends. He dials up the rhetoric and swagger when he goes outside to speak with the reporters who finally track him down, but with his friends he’s willing to show he’s still grappling with embracing and declaring his faith.”
Anthony graduated from New York Film Academy South Beach’s 1-year acting conservatory in 2015. As part of an extremely diverse student body with classmates from around the world, Anthony received an educational experience unique from other acting schools in Florida, focusing on hands-on experience from faculty members currently working in the Miami acting scene.
Yves Arispe, NYFA South Beach’s Director of Housing and Student Services, called Anthony’s performance “natural, believable, relatable as he delivered on every beat,” and that, “Kieron’s performance makes NYFA South Beach proud!”
The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting alum Kieron Anthony on his stellar performance as Cassius Clay in One Night in Miami!
Claudio Casale is a busy filmmaker, but recently he found the time to speak with New York Film Academy (NYFA). It was here that he attended our 8-week Filmmaking workshop in April 2017, where he quickly added an arsenal of skills to his already impressive filmmaking prowess.
“Claudio was one of those students a teacher is so happy to have in the class,” tells his NYFA directing instructor, Thomas Barnes, continuing, “brilliant, passionate, original, and supportive of his colleagues.”
Claudio has been incredibly productive since finishing the Filmmaking workshop, working on all sorts of different projects—short films, feature films, narratives, documentaries. In the summer of 2018, he achieved a career highlight when his documentary My Tyson won the MigArti Best Documentary Award at the Venice International Film Festival.
Claudio spoke with NYFA about that film and win, as well as filmmaking in general, working in documentary, and what lies ahead for him:
New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?
Claudio Casale (CC): I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. I graduated in Business Management, and at 22 I took two years abroad, mainly in India and Southeast Asia, where I started filmmaking constantly. Many shorts later, NYFA was the first proper education I received on filmmaking. I was mostly self-taught and I joined the 8-week program to gain experience on set dynamics and directing actors.
NYFA: Can you tell us about your film My Tyson?
CC:My Tyson is a 15-minute short doc on Alaoma Tyson, an Italian teenager born in Italy from Nigerian parents. Today, at 18 years old, Tyson is the Italian boxing champion in the youth heavyweight category. Patience, his mother, sews traditional clothes for the Nigerian community in the Roman suburb they live in.
As Tyson trains for his next match, Patience tells him the story of their family, revealing ancient rituals, financial struggles, and a severe migration experience.
CC: Migration is an issue worldwide, from the US all the way to Australia. In Europe, Italy is the first port of arrival for the majority of migrants and asylum seekers from Africa and Maghreb. As many filmmakers of my generation, I felt the need to take a stand on this issue, by offering to the audience a perspective that might get lost in the news cycle. Observation and research was key, as I had to find the story – and therefore my inspiration – on the field: I spent five months with Alaoma Tyson and his family before shooting a single frame.
NYFA: How did you get your film involved with MigrArti?
CC: MigrArti is a yearly call made by the Minister of Culture in Italy (MiBAC). The production working with me on My Tyson had to submit a detailed dossier for our project. MigrArti can be very competitive, and I was honoured that our project was among the selected ones. Watching our short doc premiere during the 75th Venice International Film Festival was really emotional, and I feel grateful that the Jury awarded My Tyson as MigrArti Best Documentary.
NYFA: What are your plans for My Tyson after Venice?
CC: We are sending out My Tyson to festivals, as that’s a great way to receive professional feedback and connect with fellow filmmakers. I would be delighted to personally attend international festivals as well, so to see by myself how different audiences relate to the story.
On the other hand, in Italy we are planning screenings solely for migrants, thanks to the cooperation of NGOs such as ARCI Solidarietà Onlus. Bringing cinema to places where it usually hasn’t belonged, like migration centres and public schools, is a duty as well as a chance to test the impact our little film may have on people we can’t reach with a traditional theatrical run.
Then, at the end of the festival distribution, at least in Italy we are working to have a selected theatrical distribution, likely paired with a feature documentary.
NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?
CC: In September, I was in Sicily to direct a narrative short film in 35mm, Inshallah, about to enter post-production. Also, I have a feature documentary in creative and financial development, in which I will invest most of my time this year. It’s a project I am very attached to and I can’t wait to get myself on set to shoot it.
NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on My Tyson, or your work in general?
CC: Among the lessons I received at NYFA, two came particularly handy in this project. First, as director you have got to leave the camera to the operator! As many native-digital filmmakers, I also grew very attached to the camera body (I was my own operator on my first shorts). It wasn’t necessarily easy to delegate that, as it is an act of trust toward the operator, especially on a documentary where things happen out of script and must be captured instinctively.
But at NYFA, I learned to do just that: trusting the crew I work with and delegating everything that may distract me from the scene. In some projects I would still be my own operator of course, but thanks to NYFA I could recognize that My Tyson wasn’t one of those cases.
Second: directing actors! I find the method taught at NYFA to be extremely effective. Honestly, that module alone was worth the whole course for me. With time, I changed it a little to adapt it to documentaries, where you don’t direct actors but subjects, so the relationship is more subtle and the non-actors’ spontaneity is the first priority and must always be protected. I believe that directing actors and non-actors is what ultimately makes a director great, and that’s something hard to learn without seeing some experts at work, either by joining a school or by being on set as 1st or 2nd AD.
NYFA: Do you prefer working in narrative or documentary filmmaking?
CC: When I started shooting, I had only narrative filmmaking in mind, and frankly I still look forward to direct a feature narrative one day. Documentary happened by chance, yet for the moment I found my little niche here.
As for today, I certainly prefer working on documentary filmmaking for a variety of reasons: first, it’s cheaper, so development and pre-production are generally quicker compared with narrative. Second, you can easily practice rhythm and pace with a running time of 52 minutes or longer, a key area of learning for any aspiring director. Last but not least, documentary today is wide open to visual experimentation, an ideal condition for me.
NYFA: What differences or similarities do you find between narrative and documentary filmmaking?
CC: Comparing short films only, in my opinion the key advantage of documentary filmmaking is the level of experimentation it allows. I honestly find narrative short films too rigid sometime, as nowadays the pressure to deliver the highest possible production value risks to overpass the focus aspiring directors should be putting into the storytelling.
After all, short films are the only tool we have to discover who we really are as visual storytellers. The similarities between narrative and documentary filmmaking are more than one could tend to believe: year after year, more documentaries are shot with a real cinematic language in mind. And I believe that’s one of the reason behind today’s boom of documentaries: many narrative storytellers are getting into documentary, shaping it with their own tools.
On the other hand, generally speaking, narrative filmmaking may allow for a wider freedom of expression, especially if you get to write and direct your own script. In conclusion, I would suggest students to be open to both forms, as for different reasons they are equally important in the early stage of a filmmaker’s career.
NYFA: What other advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?
CC: If you are a total newbie on filmmaking, be ready to run and absorb everything you’re told. Raise your hand and ask your classmates for help, as at the end of the day, it’s all about the teamwork.
While If you have some filmmaking experience already, as I did, be ready to put everything you know aside. Don’t let your previous knowledge block you from learning further. Be open and receptive, and you will take something new and essential with you every day.
NYFA: Anything we missed you’d like to speak on?
CC: No questions about the Deli down in Battery Park? I must admit, sometimes I miss that sushi! 🙂
The New York Film Academy thanks Claudio Casale for his time and thoughtful answers, and looks forward to seeing what inspiring films he comes out with next. We sincerely hope he comes back to New York for a visit sometime and has some sushi from the Deli downstairs!
As anyone who follows American media knows, stories about President Donald Trump and his administration have monopolized the news for months. But this week, an even bigger story dominated the headlines. Two massive California wildfires, one in the mountains of Northern California and the second in coastal Southern California, have devastated communities and resulted (as of today) in the deaths of more than 50 people. An additional 100+ people are missing.
News coverage of these tragedies has served an important public service function. And two New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism school graduates are on the scene, documenting the fires and their aftermath.
NYFA alum Celina Liv Danielsen, along with photographer Thomas Hass, are there working for the Danish television network DK2. Earlier this week, they visited what remained of a small Northern California town ironically called Paradise. It wasn’t an easy assignment, one which takes an emotional as well as physical toll…
Celina Liv Danielsen
Karen Hua is also a NYFA graduate. She is reporter with the NBC TV station in the Southern California city of Bakersfield. While not threatened by fire — at least not yet — area residents have experienced the side effects of these blazes for months. Karen wrote earlier this week:
“The fires in Southern California are relatively close to us in Bakersfield. We’re a 2-hour drive from the Ventura/Malibu area, and we’ve been covering them extensively…
“Ultimately I’m okay, and everyone in Bakersfield is safe — there aren’t too many trees in our city to spread flames. However, we’ve seen toxic air quality and heat as a result of the fires around the state this year. This summer was terrible with the Carr, Medicino, and Ferguson Fires. There were days when the entire city was advised to stay indoors. But we are fortunate we are all safe.”
There are many ways to cover the same story. A digital producer/editor, working at ABC News headquarters in New York, created a powerful story for the ABC late night news program Nightline. The story, distributed over multiple platforms, captured the sheer terror of what is taking place…
Public Television took a somewhat different approach. Friend and former colleague Miles O’Brian was in California shooting material for an upcoming episode of the popular Nova science series. While his focus was on previous wildfires, he and his team found themselves in the middle of a new “mega-fire,” an event so large that it literally creates its own weather. Miles was interviewedon the PBS NewsHour, for which I once produced.
As commentator Richard Reinhold noted earlier this year in TVNewsCheck, increasingly local TV news reporters are becoming “first responders,” often arriving on the scene of major events at the same time (or even before) police, fire, and emergency medical teams.
That’s why it is so important that we get the story right. People will act on the information we give them. We have to make sure it is accurate.