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  • New York Film Academy Alum Made Head of Development at October Films

    New York Film Academy alum Louis Mole has been promoted to Head of Development US at production company October Films, along with colleague Matt Dewar, who’s been made Head of Development UK.

    Mole enrolled in NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary Program, chaired by Andrea Swift, in September 2011 at our New York City campus. In the program, Mole learned to conceive, pitch, produce, direct, and edit various types of documentary shorts, as well as gain experience as cinematographer, sound recordist and assistant camera.

    Of his time at NYFA, Mole said in 2013: “You come out of the program with the fundamental expertise of every single aspect of making a film – which is so unique.”

    Mole put the education to good use, heading to Singapore after graduation and writing three episodes for the docuseries Asian Swindlers. He then joined October Films in 2014 within their London development team, and later came back to the Big Apple when he transferred to the New York office of October Films.

    October Films is an award-winning, fast-growing production company based in the US and UK that focuses on independent content from a variety of genres — including documentaries, dramas, and entertainment and reality programs.

    Some of their recent projects include Eight Days That Made Rome, Dangerous Borders, Annie: Out of the Ashes, Motorheads, and From Russia To Iran: Crossing The Wild Frontier. October Films also has series in production for the BBC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, the Science Channel, and Channel 4.

    Before his promotion to Head of Development, Mole worked on multiple projects for October Films, including Mygrations for the National Geographic Channel, Trailblazers for Discover Channel, and a seven-part series for Lifetime.

    Louis Mole has also paid it forward to newer students at the New York Film Academy, speaking with them as a guest lecturer, and offering his solid expertise.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Louis Mole on his well-earned success, and looks forward to seeing where his career heads next!

    February 9, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 508

  • New York Film Academy Alum Writes For Military Blog We Are The Mighty

    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    NYFA Veteran Students with Col. Jack Jacobs (NYFA Chair of Veteran Advancement Program)

    Everybody knows by now that the Internet is filled with countless blogs, from globally famous media companies to ones covering even the tiniest of niches. But there’s at least one blog that’s doing great work serving an often overlooked yet large and vitally important demographic—the United States military community.

    The blog, We Are The Mighty, is for veterans, servicemen and women, and their families, and covers everything from military news to pop culture, with both thoughtfully penned articles and silly, amusing listicles. Overall, WATM’s mission statement is “Celebrating military service with stories that inspire,” but in doing so, it’s also provided a way for the community to congregate, communicate, and share their ideas and views through its site and social media.

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alum Tim Kirkpatrick

    Tim Kirkpatrick is one of the writers for We Are The Mighty, and has already built an impressive portfolio of articles. Kirkpatrick is a Navy veteran, having entered as a Hospital Corpsman in 2007. In the fall of 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.

    After coming back stateside, Kirkpatrick enrolled at the New York Film Academy and earned his AFA degree in filmmaking from our Los Angeles campus. Honing his skills even further, Kirkpatrick followed his filmmaking education with NYFA’s 8-Week Screenwriting workshop.

    Putting those writing skills to good use, Kirkpatrick has written multiple blog pieces for We Are The Mighty, including “6 of the Funniest Comedic Military Sketches Ranked” and “5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Navy Medal of Honor.”

    One of his most recent pieces is about the New York Film Academy itself, highlighting the Academy’s relationship to the Military and veteran community. As Kirkpatrick mentions in his article, “At any given time, NYFA caters to over 200 veterans in the student body and the school takes pride in putting a camera in their hands on the first day of class,” while also adding that NYFA has enrolled over 1500 veterans and dependents of veterans in total.

    The Military and veteran community is an important part of the NYFA family. Kirkpatrick mentions in his article the Academy’s V.S.A., or Veteran Student Association, where vets from different branches of the armed forces come together over their shared love of film and the visual arts.

    Kirkpatrick also shouts out the venerable Colonel Jack Jacobs, who in addition to being a Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.

    The Military and the film industry are a more natural pairing than some may suspect. Kirkpatrick writes, “As in the Military, the film industry uses a precise chain of command for its operational purposes, so vets feel right at home on set — hierarchy and order (and yes, even paperwork) have been branded into their solid work ethic.”

    You can check out Tim Kirkpatrick and the other writers at We Are The Mighty here.

    January 26, 2018 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1322

  • New York Film Academy Alum Receives International Film Festival Manhattan Award

    Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses

    Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses knows first-hand how much hard work goes into making a film—which makes her Honorable Mention at 2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan all the more rewarding. In October, after screening her documentary “The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah,” Jameelah was the proud recipient of the IFFM’s Film Festival Director Louie Award Honorable Mention.

    This isn’t Jameelah’s first award, either. Her previous documentaries, “Historic Jeddah” and “Our Journey to Hijaz” have also garnered significant praise from multiple festivals in the last several years.

    2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan

    2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan

    A recurring theme in her work is the challenge women face while living in Saudi Arabia. The uphill battle women face, especially in filmmaking, has helped focus her vision and strengthen her voice.

    Jameelah first attended the New York Film Academy’s 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop in June 2011, before enrolling two months later in the 1-Year Filmmaking program at the New York City campus. There, Jameelah was given hands-on training with state-of-the-art film equipment and taught the skills necessary for pre-production through post-production.

    This intensive education prepared Jameelah for a career in filmmaking.“My instructors at NYFA ensured their students after graduation are already well-rounded and equipped to work in any film department,” stated Jameelah.

    Even after making several documentaries and garnering numerous honors, Jameelah still applies the training she received at NYFA. “I made sure that I took down notes for every class,” said Jameelah, adding, “I still have all my notes until now, and I review it at times when I need a refresher.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Jameelah on her Honorable Mention for “The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah,” and looks forward to the important stories she will tell in the future!

    The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah

    The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah

    January 18, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2517

  • Time’s Up and #MeToo Dominate the 2018 Golden Globes

    Oprah

    Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globe Awards. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

    This year’s Golden Globe Awards was clearly different from years past, and not because it was the 75th anniversary ceremony. Nearly all women in attendance, and many of the men, wore all black in a sign of solidarity for the Time’s Up initiative — a response to the gender inequality and sexual harassment prevalent in both the film industry and society as a whole.

    A very public groundswell of support for the movement started after initial reports of sexual harassment came out against megaproducer Harvey Weinstein last year. Since then, more and more women and victims of sexual assault are coming forward and being heard after decades of an institutional culture that allowed sexual assault and discrimination to flourish. In addition to accusations against numerous prominent figures in the media, politics, and elsewhere, additional gender inequalities are also being placed front and center — including a sizable gender wage gap and the disproportionately small number of women represented both in Hollywood and political positions of power.

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    After #MeToo made clear just how many women are affected by these injustices, Time’s Up was started to take specific actions to work towards finally reversing this trend. Along with the call for women to wear black on the Golden Globes red carpet, Time’s Up is advocating for laws that will punish businesses tolerating harassment, working to balance gender parity in the industry, and starting a legal defense fund to support lower-income women seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

    The Red Carpet at this year's Golden Globes

    The Red Carpet at this year’s Golden Globes
    (Getty)

    Wearing black wasn’t a fashion statement. It quickly became apparent to everyone watching the televised Golden Globes on Jan. 7 that the conversation and tone of the night would be dominated by a cause too important to be sidelined, even in the height of Hollywood’s yearly awards season. Several individual moments stuck out from the night that revealed just how deeply both gender inequality and the urgency to correct it run in the entertainment industry’s most powerful circles. Some of these moments include:

    • Talk show host and this year’s emcee Seth Meyers delivered a straightforward opening monologue in support of Time’s Up and the women of Hollywood, while also acknowledging that as a straight white man, his voice wasn’t the most important in the room.
    • While live during an E! Network red carpet interview, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing pointed out that E! was also guilty of a significant wage gap between men and women.
    • When presenting the Best Director award, Natalie Portman made sure to add in the short but poignant adjective “all-male” before listing this year’s nominees. This is especially noteworthy considering Greta Gerwig — who wasn’t nominated — directed the evening’s Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) award winner, “Lady Bird.” (Gerwig was nominated for Best Screenplay, however, and the film picked up two acting nominations and a Best Actress win for Saoirse Ronan.)

     

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    • Many women invited social activists as their guests to the ceremony, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, eschewing the typical tradition of bringing a significant other or relative — which has sparked its own controversy:
    • In addition to wearing black, many of the attendees and presenters displayed Time’s Up pins in support of the movement.
    • The HBO drama “Big Little Lies” dominated the television categories with a cast of mostly women playing complex female characters with nuanced storylines — something that shouldn’t be all that rare, but sadly is.
    • Entertainment icon and living legend Oprah Winfrey was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award — the Globes’ version of a Lifetime Achievement Award — becoming the first woman of color to receive the honor. Winfrey’s acceptance speech roused the room and was a powerful moment in a night of powerful moments, sparking a flurry of trending hashtags and fan speculation about a 2020 presidential run. Winfrey was clearly aware of her platform and influence and focused many of her words on speaking truth to power, the vital importance of a free press, and the significant role diverse role models play for children growing up in a world dominated by faces that do not resemble their own. As an example, she used her own personal experience seeing Sidney Poitier win the Academy Award for “Lillies of the Field.”

     

    These are just some specific instances of a much broader mood and drive dominating the culture right now. As an institution that prepares students for careers in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the New York Film Academy is especially receptive to Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement. Many of the Golden Globes viewers — and even some nominees, like Issa Rae — were students, alumni, and faculty members.

    In 2013, the New York Film Academy researched gender inequality in the film industry and presented its data with an infographic that plainly showed just how serious the problem is. In the intervening years since that infographic was first published, gender inequality has not improved in the film industry. In 2017, Forbes released their annual list of highest-paid actors and actresses. The top 14 were all men, with Emma Stone ranked as the highest-paid actress at #15. A 2016 study found that women — roughly half the population — comprised only 28.7% of all speaking roles in films. Additionally, only 18% of films represented a balanced cast (half the speaking characters being female).

    The New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse body of students, encouraging artists from any number of backgrounds to collaborate and bring together their distinct, personal visions in order to create even stronger, more meaningful stories. Indeed, in 2017 more than half of NYFA’s students were women — a hopeful sign of the industry’s future.

    It goes without saying that there is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of changes that need to be made to both the entertainment industry and the contemporary culture it inhabits. As Oprah Winfrey said in her acceptance speech, telling stories and speaking truth to power is one important way to help bring about these changes. The New York Film Academy encourages those who were previously afraid to use their voice to tell their stories, and to be loud as possible — the time is now.

    • "Big Little Lies" at the Golden Globes

      “Big Little Lies” at the Golden Globes (Photo by @Ramona_Rosales)

    January 10, 2018 • Entertainment News • Views: 561

  • Harper’s Bazaar Profiles New York Film Academy Alum Khadijah Kudsi

    Khadijah Kudsi

    Copyright © Harper’s Bazaar Arabia 2017

    With the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival coming to a close this December, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia profiled six pioneering female filmmakers from the Middle East, including New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Khadijah Kudsi. The in-depth piece about the six directors not only celebrates their hard work and achievements, but highlights the cultural shift taking place in the 21st Century Middle East, and subsequent progress women have made in playing a larger role in society—including the arts.

    NYFA alum Khadijah Kudsi grew up in Saudi Arabia and was always artistic and interested in storytelling. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “I went to New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi in 2014. I only meant to go for four weeks, but that turned into eight, which led into a year and then into a whole career. I did a diploma in filmmaking and then I started working on short films and writing.”

    After graduating from the Academy, Kudsi quickly found work for a Chinese television channel. As her career has progressed, Kudsi likes to focus on stories from Abu Dhabi and the Middle East, including one film that’s premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and another currently in production focusing on Dana Al Ali—the first Emirati woman to climb Mt. Everest.

    Kudsi continued, “I think it’s important to have ties to this region and highlight positive stories coming out of it. But it’s not always easy—the funding is hard. As is finding the right producer and managing your time being a mother and a working woman.”

    Festivals in the Middle East have grown in importance as more and more voices from the region are making themselves heard. The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) first launched in 2004 with 76 films and 13,000 attendees. During its initial six-day run, acting legend Omar Sharif was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival has steadily grown since then, with over 60,000 admissions to its 2016 event. This year marked the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival and presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Irrfan Khan and Sir Patrick Stewart.

    As the region modernizes and women are being given more and more freedom, their roles in society are becoming more prominent as well. For Middle Eastern women working in the arts, that uphill struggle feels all the more real, considering the industry has been historically unequal not just in the region but around the world. Kudsi told Harper’s Bazaar, “I have four children, whereas most of the crew you work with on set are single or have no kids. They don’t understand when you say you need to wrap by a certain time because I need to go see my kids.”

    The New York Film Academy strives to give filmmakers and artists of all kinds a voice, and prides itself on its diverse student body. By learning and working hands-on together, students find their differences are a strength—learning and sharing experiences not just from the school but from one another. If you’re interested in filmmaking or the visual arts, you can find more information about NYFA’s programs here.

    NYFA has committed itself to giving aspiring storytellers in the Middle East an education they can build their careers on. The New York Film Academy is thrilled to see Khadijah Kudsi recognized for her inspiring work and career, and looks forward to the stories she will tell in the years to come. “I love the rawness in the stories here,” professed Kudsi, “and we have so much to talk about.”

    December 27, 2017 • Abu Dhabi, Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1179

  • New York Film Academy Alum & Associate Director of Recruitment Screens Powerful Documentary “I Heart Jenny”

    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny” at the New York Film Academy’s New York City Theatre

    “I Heart Jenny,” a heart-wrenching and beautiful documentary by producer and director Blake Babbitt, had a special screening this December at the New York Film Academy’s recently opened New York City Theatre. The film follows Babbitt’s close friend Jenny Rie Vanderlinden as she struggled with and eventually succumbed to a rare form of ovarian cancer. More importantly, the documentary focuses on the powerful positive spirit Jenny embodied, inspiring her friends, family, and eventually total strangers with her optimism and zestful love of life.

    In a piece written about Jenny, the Huffington Post wrote, “Jenny doesn’t seem terrified of this thing that is so far beyond us, this thing that none of us can now see… Instead, she’s investing her unconquerable energy in living the spectacular life she’s always lived—skiing, canyoneering, rafting, traveling and raising four amazing children—with a bit more urgency.”

    “I Heart Jenny” started documenting Jenny’s journey over a year after her diagnosis, and followed her right up until her untimely end, a death she refused to allow to shadow her life. Babbitt was inspired to make the documentary after seeing the “I Heart Jenny” stickers their mutual friends began posting frequently as badges of support.

    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny”

    The initial idea of the documentary came to Babbitt during a pitch session that was part of his curriculum while attending the New York Film Academy’s Evening Producing workshop. From there, he started a years long journey, utilizing the skills, resources, and colleagues he met while at NYFA. “I had never made a film before,” said Babbitt, “but I was able to use the resources at NYFA to get my feet underneath me. At NYFA I was surrounded by people who really knew what they were doing. I felt supported by NYFA the entire way.”

    Shooting the film took two years, and was in post-production for another three—a long, laborious process that is not uncommon for documentaries, especially works of passion and as personal as “I Heart Jenny.” During this time, Babbitt not only applied the skills he learned at NYFA, but also used the connections made there to help his film see the light of day. In addition to being a distinguished alumnus, Babbitt is also currently the school’s Associate Director of Recruitment. With this notable position, he is able to guide incoming students as they look to grow as artists and filmmakers in their own right.

    Blake Babbitt

    Producer & Director Blake Babbitt

    As a result of the relationships formed at the New York Film Academy, Babbitt was able to recruit a strong, talented crew for “I Heart Jenny”—many alumni and staff from the school—including:

    Kathleen Harris – DP/Producer
    Brad Gallant – Lead Editor/Producer
    Zena Wood – Associate Producer
    Mike Diaz – Editor/Story Producer
    Chris Hayes – Editor
    Mike Walls – Camera Operator
    Shani Patel – Sound recordist/2nd Camera Operator
    Lexi Phillips – Colorist

    It was only fitting then that “I Heart Jenny” had its initial preview at the New York Film Academy. Babbitt continued, “It was an honor to be able to host my first screening in our stunning new screening room.”

    Andrea Swift, New York Film Academy’s Chair of Documentary Filmmaking, was in attendance, and was very impressed with Babbitt’s debut film. “It takes extraordinary passion, commitment, and talent to make a film like this.” She added, “This film can do real good in the world.”

    The specific cancer that took Jenny’s life was related to the BRCA gene, a sequence of DNA that has become more and more noted in recent years for its ominous relationship to many types of cancer. While making “I Heart Jenny,” Babbitt linked up with Jonathan and Mindy Gray, founders of the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine. The Basser Center is the first of its kind to focus specifically on BRCA-related cancers, and Babbitt has tied his film to their worthy cause, helping to raise donations for further research (click here if you’d like to support the Basser Center as well.)

    While it’s been a long, winding road for Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” their journey is far from over. Babbitt’s goal is to get the documentary into the Telluride Film Festival, based in Colorado where Babbitt is from and where he first met Jenny. According to Babbitt, “If it gets in, she wants me to bring a cardboard cutout of her—LOL!”

    In addition to submitting the film to as many festivals as possible, Babbitt is also hoping to get distribution, hoping the more people who see the film, the more they will take home its poignant message and look to support the fight against BRCA-related cancers. Babbitt continued, “We’ve had so many supporters along the way, and anytime I felt dejected or lost in the process, I would just think about our supporters and Jenny. I knew I couldn’t let her or them down.”

    Supporters of the film can follow updates on Facebook as well as on Twitter. You can also follow Babbitt’s filmmaking exploits on Instagram.

    The New York Film Academy is proud of Blake Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” and wishes him the best of luck as he continues the legacy of Jenny Rie Vanderlinden and her powerful story.

    I Heart Jenny Promo- Extended Version from Blake Babbitt on Vimeo.

  • New York Film Academy Alum’s “Newton” Selected as India’s Entry for Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award

    Amit V Masurkar’s “Newton”

    “Newton,” a feature-length film by NYFA alumnus Amit V Masurkar, is now in the running for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film — just one in a long line of successes the Indian dark comedy-drama and its writer & director have already seen.

    Co-written and directed by Amit, “Newton” stars Rajkummar Rao as Newton Kumar, a rookie government clerk who seeks to uphold democracy and conduct fair elections in Chhattisgarh’s conflict-ridden jungles. The film has received positive reviews, including from India’s Huffington Post, which called it “a touching, personal and very human film.”

    Amit first premiered “Newton” at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the CICAE Art Cinema Award. Since then, Amit has presented his film at nearly 50 festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival in April, where it screened in the International Narrative Competition, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival, where it won the coveted Jury Prize.

    An Academy Award would be the crowning achievement to go with these accolades, and the journey to attaining one is a long and tough road. Films that are produced outside of the United States and are delivered in a predominantly non-English language are eligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Unlike other Oscars, the Foreign Language Film Award is unique in that the golden statue is presented not to the filmmakers, but to the nation that produced it—adding an air of patriotic pride to the category.

    Each country must then select just one film per year to represent it at the Academy Awards, creating a lot of competition between movies of all genres, especially in a nation as populated and cinema-oriented as India. “Newton” was selected from a shortlist of 26 films to represent India at this year’s Oscars, and the final nominations from five different countries will be announced along with the other Academy Award noms early next year. The 90th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 4, 2018.

    Amit V Masurkar honed his screenwriting skills at New York Film Academy’s New York campus, taking the 8-Week Screenwriting workshop in 2009. After writing for numerous sketch and comedy shows, Amit’s directorial feature-length debut “Sulemani Keeda” became a surprise indie hit. “Newton” is only his second feature film, and Amit has proven to be one of India’s most exciting voices in filmmaking.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Amit V Masurkar on such a fantastic achievement, and looks forward to seeing what further accomplishments he and “Newton” will achieve!

  • Veterans Day: NYFA Honors Veterans and Colonel Jack Jacobs

    This week, our nation celebrates the men and women who have served our country in the US Military by paying special tribute to by honoring them on Veterans Day. Over the last seven years, nearly 1,500 military service members, veteran students, and military dependents, have selected the New York Film Academy (NYFA) to be the choice for their higher education.

    “Jerry Sherlock, who was a veteran of the US Air Force, founded the New York Film Academy 25 years ago and was always committed to making NYFA a welcoming learning environment for veterans who wanted to tell their own stories through the visual and performing arts,” stated Michael Young, NYFA’s President. “As a role model and leader to our veterans, we are honored to have, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, as the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program,” said President Young.

    NYFA in the Veteran's Parade

    NYFA in the Veteran’s Parade


    Colonel Jack Jacobs is an Army Veteran who received the Nation’s highest military honor for his heroism in Vietnam, the Medal of Honor. Colonel Jacobs, a media personality who can be seen regularly on MSNBC and NBC, and often on shows including Morning Joe, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow, is one of only 73 living Medal of Honor recipients.

    Colonel Jack Jacobs at NYFA


    Colonel Jacobs interacts with NYFA’s veteran students on a regular basis providing them with encouragement, advice, and opportunities while they are enrolled at NYFA, and also when they return to the school for the many activities that the NYFA Division of Veteran Services arranges for veteran students and alums.

    While Colonel Jacobs may best be known by the public for his television work, his greatest passion is supporting the military community by serving on the board of numerous veteran non-profit organizations, and speaking at many veteran events. Recently Colonel Jacob’s gave the keynote at the 21st annual Military Ball, attended by over 700 military leaders, which was hosted by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation. In his speech, Colonel Jacobs noted, “There’s nothing like military service that gives young people authority and responsibility at an early age.” He continued,” People who serve time in a uniform can do anything… offering a job to veterans is not charity. These are ‘the’ best people.”

    The New York Film Academy Salutes the service of all US military Veterans This Veterans Day.

    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    November 11, 2017 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 618

  • NYFA Alumnus Dr. Mukesh Hariawala’s Journey from Heart Surgeon to Bollywood Actor

    While many adults around the world return to school to change careers, you don’t often hear about heart surgeons who decide to leave medicine to pursue acting — and then go on to find success in one of the world’s largest film industries. Yet that is exactly what happened in the curious case of New York Film Academy acting for film alumnus, Dr. Mukesh Hariawala, whose recent slew of Bollywood roles and unique backstory has caused a bit of a stir in Sify News, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, and Yahoo News.

    If you’re a fellow career-changer or are simply looking for acting inspiration stories, Dr. Hariawala recently took the time to catch up with us via an email interview to share about his incredible journey from Harvard-educated surgeon to busy Bollywood actor in Mumbai, India.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    MH : In 2014, I became eligible for taking a sabbatical from my 25-year cardiac surgical work in India, the U.K. and the U.S. I wanted to do something unrelated to medicine. Since I had a modelling background from undergrad college days and recollect enjoying it, I chose to try my hand at becoming an actor in mainstream cinema. I interviewed at NYFA in the summer of 2014 and, much to my surprise and delight, got accepted. I took up boarding and lodging at a negotiated rate at nearby Hotel Marriott and moved to New York. I continued to return home to Boston over the weekends.

    NYFA: What inspired you to change careers, from a renowned heart surgeon to Bollywood actor?

    MH: Although I have become a reasonably busy actor in Bollywood, I have not completely disconnected myself from the clinical world of cardiac surgery. I continue to maintain my hospital affiliation and privileges in Mumbai. The single most inspiring thought was the challenge of not to be afraid of failure, and to prove to myself that I was capable of succeeding in another profession too, apart from medicine.

    NYFA: What was the greatest challenge for you in shifting careers?

    MH: It was the mental acclimatization to accept the new social status of being a student again at age 50+. I was fortunate to be warmly accommodated by my much younger classmate peers and teachers, who never reminded me of my age. They very much encouraged me about the potential I displayed in class.

    My wife and kids have been most supportive throughout the process. They used to visit NYFA campus during my student days to keep me motivated.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment?

    MH: The acting for film class shoot with classmate co-stars of my outdoor scenes in Union Square. It gave me a nostalgic feeling of being a star, particularly since we were filming surrounded by tourist onlookers from all over the world … wow.

    NYFA: Coming from your medical background, what surprised you the most about your acting training at New York Film Academy?

    MH: Unlike surgery, acting was relatively stress-free and enjoyable. I realized during the course that although we can pretend at times in real life, the camera doesn’t let you lie. The camera will almost always pick up a pretense and unmask you. If the actor is not in the portrayed character, it would spell disaster for the actor and damage the scene. Also, following filming, it takes time coming out of a character back to normal life, and this has been a major surprise working in this new profession.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little about the Bollywood film “102 Not Out,” and how you became attached to the project?

    MH: The film “102 Not Out” has superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor as the lead characters. I met the director, Umesh Shukla, while filming for another movie, “Exit,” in Ladakh. He liked my sincerity to the art of acting and promised me a role in a future project. I did get a call from him, one year later. Honestly, I was plain lucky and feel fortunate to share screen space with legends. Since learning acting is an ongoing process, I am getting the benefit of interactions with the best in the profession.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all helpful in preparing you for what you are accomplishing now?

    MH: An overwhelming 100 percent. Without my NYFA training I could not have mustered the necessary skills to comprehend the complete process of filmmaking. My performances, which again reflect NYFA training, are appreciated by directors and they tend to repeat cast me in their future projects.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to fellow career-changing NYFA students who, like you, wish to pursue an entertainment career after being out in the workforce for awhile in other industries?

    MH: Age should never be a barrier to crossover from an established career to an completely insecure new industry. Additionally, all previous other industry work experiences become an asset in one’s toolkit to play a fortitude of characters, particularly while filming an emotionally charged recall scene. However, training in a good program is paramount in pursuing an long-term acting career. If not, it would surmount to driving a car without wheels.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about other projects you have coming up?

    MH: I have few more films currently undergoing post-production and due for release in late 2017 and early 2018. These include “Exit,” “Genius,” “Chicken Curry Law,” and “Aksar 2.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Dr. Mukesh Hariawala for taking the time to share a bit of his story with our community.

  • NYFA Producing Grad Kalpana Malviya’s “Made in America” Airs on Zee TV

    New York Film Academy 4-Week Producing Workshop graduate Kalpana Malviya’s original reality program “Made in America” launches this week on Zee TV, India’s largest television network.

    India.com reports that “Made in America” is the first-ever English-language Bollywood reality program to be produced entirely in Hollywood. Hosted by Nina Davuluri, the 2014 Miss America winner, the show  chronicles the journey of six young South East Asian women selected from a pool of 6,000 hopefuls in a talent competition in the vein of “America’s Next Top Model.” The competition includes participation in acting classes at the New York Film Academy.

    Last fall, Malviya told the New York Film Academy Blog that her NYFA training was a help in poising her to launch her professional life in television: “I’m from India. Hollywood films really pop in India. I took what I learned at NYFA and landed a job with Zee TV.”

    It was while working with Zee TV that Malviya came up with the idea for “Made in America,” which combines Hollywood glamour with Bollywood power for an entirely unique reality television experience. Malviya recalled, “I pitched them the idea. They loved it and now, here we are.”

    As Sameer Targe, CEO, ZEE TV America explained to India.com, Zee TV is “the flagship television network for the South Asian community in the United States,” meaning that the new reality program will provide an exciting collaboration and cultural bridge between Hollywood and Bollywood.

    We had a chance to catch up with Kalpana Malviya to hear her thoughts about bringing her original series to life.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    KM: As a child I was always fascinated by films and wanted to make movies and TV shows. I pursued modeling in India to try and further my dreams. I won (first runner up) a beauty pageant, Miss Gladrags, 2009, and from there received many opportunities. After my modeling contract was up, I started working at various production companies. I soon realized I had to learn. So, I decided to come to the New York Film Academy to expand my knowledge in production.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us?

    KM: My favorite NYFA moment was the realization of my true abilities. I saw a new world opening with tremendous opportunities all around me. I was soaking up as much as I could, but it wasn’t until a professor from NYFA sat me down and told me that I had a natural talent for producing, I realized what I wanted to do within the industry.

    NYFA: What inspired your passion for producing?

    KM: In addition to my fascination with films, I had a knack for business. I am certain the business woman in me was influenced by watching my father run his own company. I found myself naturally gravitating towards producing, without realizing what it was at the time. There I could utilize both my creativity and business abilities to produce quality film & TV shows, which allowed me to bring all my skills to the table. It wasn’t just enough to understand the story, I had to visualize and work towards bringing my vision to the right niche market.

    NYFA: Now that “Made in America” has aired on Zee TV (congrats, again!), can you tell us how your role as a producer has evolved? Are there any aspects of bringing the production to air that have surprised you, or opened new challenges?

    KM: I would have to say that learning to market the show to the right audience was certainly a challenging and evolving aspect for me. In addition, to bring the story forth I had to explore new ways of marketing with social media, targeted ad campaigns, and press coverage, all while keeping in mind the final goal of increasing our show’s revenue.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for preparing you for the work you are doing today?

    KM: Of course! I took my first steps toward development, direction and distribution (“Triple D’s”) at NYFA. There, I gained all the necessary knowledge and technical skills to become a creative mega force. All of those technical skills and creative understanding are critical for my role at Zee TV.

    NYFA: You’ve said in other interviews that part of your inspiration for “Made in America” was a desire to see more high quality South East Asian content on TV. Can you share with our international student community your view, as a working producer, as to why this is so important?

    KM: I think it’s super important to celebrate diversity within media. America has been recognized as the melting pot of cultures from my recollection. Its even more pertinent to bring this to our communities given today’s heated political climate. We can use media as an outlet to reflect different ethnicities, viewpoints, and lifestyles. I would urge to all student to choose a media platform that represents diversity.

    I am thankful to be a part of one such media force with a threshold of 1 billion viewers  over 171 countries around the world. Zee TV brings cultures together and celebrates differences in cultures of our unique countries to amplify the beauty.

    NYFA: For our producing students, can you offer any advice on bringing an original concept like “Made in America” to live on a major network?

    KM: Its a combination of finding the right media platform that allows you to be innovative and creative and where the executives fully support their staff’s new ideas. Without people like Sameer Targe (Zee America’s CEO) and Kitty Koo (VP International Relations at NYFA), among others, to support and believe in me, making these shows would not be possible.

    At the end of the day you need to believe in your own vision and people to help you make that vision a reality. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” (Harriet Tubman)

    NYFA: Can you share with us about any upcoming projects you are working on?

    KM: I’m working on an array of new programs produced in the U.S. by Zee, which will air on the channel throughout 2017 and 2018. There’s a huge variety in what we’re producing — a matchmaking show, a business show, and a new style family quiz game show, as well as a docu-drama on successful Indian-American entrepreneurs.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kalpana Malviya for taking the time to share a part of her story with our community.