nyfa alumni
Posts

  • 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.

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Rohit Mittal Feature “Autohead” Releases on Netflix, “Megalopolis” in the WordsTalks

    NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking Program alumnus Rohit Mittal has just wrapped production on his second independent feature film, “Megalopolis,” with his first, “Autohead,” released worldwide on Netflix.

    “Autohead” earned rave reviews and awards at major festivals worldwide — including 49th Sitges Film Festival, 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival, CPH:PIX, and more. “Autohead” attracted attention from major publications like The Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, Fangoria, and Al Jazeera before its worldwide digital release on Netflix. And that’s not all: anticipation is already high for  “Megalopolis,” which The Reel has highlighted as a smart meditation on a dark side of human nature.

    We had a chance to catch up with Mittal in the midst of his busy schedule via email to hear some of his insights on the process of producing his independent features and finding distribution with Netflix.

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

    RM: I was always interested in movies and literature, but after high school I had to go to law school because it’s a norm in India to get a degree so that you can get a job. But I was not interested in law. In law school all I ever did was watch movies, a lot of them (mainly foreign films), read books, and I wrote poems, short stories, and I also made short films. But after graduating from law school I had to take up a job.

    I worked in a law firm in Mumbai. It was the worst experience of my life. Even then I was making short films over the weekends. After a point it became really frustrating so I decided to quit the job and go to a film school, for two main reasons. One, that I can have a better understating of filmmaking, and the other, to leave the country.

    That’s when I got to know about NYFA. I researched a lot, and NYFA was the only place that offered a very practical hands-on training, and they had the one-year program. The idea to make a film every week really excited me, and a friend was already studying here. So I decided immediately to attend this school.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments?

    RM: Well, there were many. The best were with the friends I made. And all of them were from different countries, so making films with them was great fun.

    NYFA: What inspired your first feature, “Autohead”? Can you tell us a bit about that production process?

    RM: …I wanted to do a character study of a criminal. Also I wanted to explore and question the voyeurism of filmmakers, of films, of the camera. I wanted to question the eye. So yes, with all of this put together I came up with that story.

    We did a lot of planning before we started shooting. We planned for almost four months, because we did not have many days to shoot. We shot the whole film in 14 days, so we could not afford to make mistakes or lose time. In those four months of pre-production I also rehearsed a lot with actors and looked for authentic locations.

    NYFA: How did your distribution deal with Netflix come about? (And congrats!)

    RM: Thank you. Well I got in touch with one of the employees at Netflix. By that time the film had traveled to many festivals, won awards and also got many great reviews. So they got really excited about the film. They saw the film, loved it, and then my sales agent in France and I cracked the deal.

    NYFA: What inspired your shift from the documentary style of “Autohead” to the more surreal and poetic feel of “Megalopolis”?

    RM: The documentary style in “Autohead” was an integral part of the story, because the story was that there is this documentary crew filming an Aut rickshaw driver in Mumbai who turns out to be a killer. So the form became a part of the storytelling. Which is why I love the mockumentary format.

    In “Megalopolis” there is more a formalistic approach. I just wanted to go back to what cinema originally was, that is just visuals and sound. Also I think it is more honest. It is more me. “Autohead” was also honest but it was more angst-driven.

    “Megalopolis” is the kind of film I always wanted to make. Also, it’s based on a novel by my favorite novelist of all time, Fydor Dostoyevsky. So I have tried to adapt that in my own way into visuals and sound. And as far as surrealism is concerned, to be honest that’s how I see things. That’s how I see life. Maybe surreal is real. Or vice versa.

    NYFA: What were some of your greatest challenges in getting your feature films made? What advice would you offer to students looking to make that leap?

    RM: The biggest challenge as we all know is to get the funding. But the way I did it was as independent as things can get.

    For the first film I borrowed money from people which was enough to shoot and edit the film. Once I finished editing the film I started showing it around and that’s when I found another producer to finish the film. All of this took me around 10 months or so, including the wait.

    The idea is to be as realistic as possible, and it starts with your writing. I wrote those films knowing that there is going to be very little money. I had the budget in mind while writing the script. That way I was more realistic and did not build castles in the air, because to be honest I don’t like to wait.

    I don’t have the patience to wait for 10 years to get a big budget for my film, and today it’s possible to create a decent, sellable film with little money. And people made it even 20 or 30 years ago when there was no digital technology. So we have some great examples, and we can follow them and tell a very honest personal story.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all helpful in preparing you for what you’re doing today?

    RM: Yes. I would say so. That’s purely because of the practical training I had at the school. Also the time I got for myself, living in another country. So I figured what I like and what I don’t like, and what I am good at.

    Also I loved to break rules all the time in film school, I enjoyed that a lot and ended up learning a lot. And the biggest and best lessons I learnt were from making bad films. I cherish them. And I experimented a lot. A lot of times I failed, but they were great lessons. Thank god I made mistakes. Film schools are meant for that, to make mistakes.

    NYFA: What about the story or themes in “Megalopolis” felt like they needed to be told, now?

    RM: …You can say that “Megalopolis” or the big city is a metaphor for the human condition in today’s day and age. The city is the ultimate dream. I don’t know if it’s a good one or a bad one. And everything revolves around the city. The city is the central character. It consumes us all. It may be a monster … So yes, with all this I am trying to understand the violent nature of humanity.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about what’s next for you — any upcoming projects or festivals?

    RM: I am still finishing the post-production of “Megalopolis.” And hopefully it will travel to festivals. And yes, I am planning to make another film soon. That is February, 2018.  I will start work on it as soon as I have finished writing the script.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Mittal on all his recent success with “Autohead” and “Megalopolis” and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

  • NYFA Alumnus Pavel Suslov Talks About his Internship at Warner Brothers

    Growing up in Russia, Pavel Suslov developed his passion for filmmaking from the time he got his first camera at the age of seven. Who could have guessed that this camera would eventually lead him to an internship at Warner Brothers?

    “Kids today may not find this unusual (everyone has a smartphone in their hands from an early age),” noted Suslov, “But back then it was quite out of the norm.”

    Pavel Suslov |New York Film Academy Alumnus

    During school years, Suslov was making videos about his dogs, family members, friends, and toys. He soon realized that he wanted to turn this creative hobby into a professional career. After graduating from the St. Petersburg State University of Cinema and Television, he worked for five years creating music videos and commercials for such companies as Ski-doo and Mercury engines, as well as making video reports on local and international events for Gatebil, Formula Drift, and RDS.

    Suslov told NYFA, “At some point, I realized that I wanted to grow even more. That’s why I started looking for a film school abroad. There’s probably no better place to gain film industry experience and networking than Hollywood. It became one of the fundamental reasons I enrolled in the New York Film Academy’s MFA Filmmaking Program.

    Immediately after graduating, Suslov secured himself an internship at Warner Brothers, and was happy to sit down with us and share his experience with NYFA community.

    ET: First of all, congratulations on your internship with Warner Bros. Tell us, what is included in your daily duties?

    PS: Thank you! It’s hard to name it an internship; it’s more a full-time job. I work in the Visual Department, which is responsible for all the video content produced by the company: music videos, promo videos for social networks, new albums, singles, artists, etc. My duties include editing, project development, filming, creating graphics and concepts for various artists. One of my recent projects was a new clip for Linkin Park’s “Talking to Myself,” which was completed shortly before the death of the lead singer, Chester Bennington, and will be the last music video made with all the original members of the band. 

    ET: What day during the internship was the most striking and why?

    PS: It is difficult to single out a certain day, since each of them is very different from other. Today you are going to work on a shoot with Echosmith, tomorrow you are editing the Linkin Park music video, after that you are thinking through new ideas for Mastadon and how to revive their cover visually and dynamically, and the next day you go to the lobby where you meet the new singer of the label. I’m very grateful to my manager, Laura Mende, who tells me various stories about artists and the shooting processes.

    It is worth noting that team spirit is very developed at Warner Bros. Every week there are different staff lunches or meetings. Sometimes bands come to our office to give mini-performances for employees in the backyard. Every time a band or a single of the label goes to the top of the chart, we order huge pizzas for the entire office and arrange lunch in the courtyard.

    Pavel Suslov | NYFA MFA Filmmaking

    ET: How long will your internship last?

    PS: Under my current contract the internship will last 5 months. After that I can decide whether I want to stay or not. I think that my answer is obvious.

    ET: Do you think that the experience you got at NYFA has come in handy for you during this internship?

    PS: Definitely. Firstly, it’s about communications, and team work. Almost nothing can be done without a team. I learned this from numerous experiences at NYFA and from our group workshops.

    Then, the filming process. Of course I had experience in implementing projects before, but at NYFA I got an education that allows me to understand who is responsible for what on a set, as well as the main points of pre-production.

    I must say that the differences in the filmmaking process between Russia and here are enormous. I have never regretted going to NYFA, it allowed me to strengthen my filmmaking knowledge and afforded me the chance to intern at Warner Bros.

    NYFA: What are you planning to do after your internship at Warner Brothers?

    PS: In fact, there are many plans. Recently, I started my Vlog on YouTube: at the moment it is designed for a Russian speaking audience, but I have plans to expand it to the English speakers as well. I do not know yet where it will lead, but I can say one thing; for the time that I’m doing this internship, I met a lot of people from completely different industries. And with some of them, we have interesteing projects planned for the future. 

    At the same time, I manage to work on independent projects: commercials and music videos. I’m about to finish my short film and in August we have plans to shoot an Imagine Dragons video, but unfortunately I cannot disclose details yet.

    And, of course, I would like to continue working for Warner Brothers.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Pavel Suslov for his time and wish him continued success in his endeavors.

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Ruchir Garg’s “It’s Gawd” Screens in New York and Amazon

    New York Film Academy filmmaking alumnus Ruchir Garg was an executive producer on independent comedy “It’s Gawd!” starring Tommy Chong, Luke Perry and Rebecca Maden. The film has been released on Amazon and is screening August 24 at the AMC in Union Square, New York City.

    It’s Gawd!” follows the creator as he tries to save humanity (and his job) through a late night variety show and a variety of comedic high jinks. We had a chance to catch up with Ruchir and learn more about his journey with “It’s Gawd” from initial script read to Amazon distribution.

    For those in the New York City area, further information and tickets for the August 24 screening of “It’s Gawd” can be found here.

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

    RG: I have always had great love for stories. While growing up in India, we were surrounded by tales from puranas and jatakas (traditional folk tales). However, engineering and medicine used to be the most desirable professions, and so I studied computer science, and started working as a systems analyst. I came to the U.S. when Merrill Lynch interviewed me on the phone and offered me a job.

    At the time I came to NYFA in 2004, I had lived in NYC for 7 years. I was working in the financial services industry. I used to go to the movies a lot. I loved comedies. Most comedies used to be rom-coms, and I wished there was more diversity of themes in comedy. I read a couple of books on screenwriting at first, which piqued my interest in learning filmmaking. I wanted to direct. The 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA was perfect because I knew I could convince my employer to let me take eight weeks off work. Anything longer than that would have been difficult.

    After the NYFA course I returned to India and participated in the production of a feature film, a family drama. I was mainly observing the process. I then realized that I would have to enter the industry as a writer or a producer. I started writing a comedy on the side. But I was never satisfied with what I wrote. After a couple of years, I put the dream on hold. And then “It’s Gawd” happened.

    NYFA: What inspired “It’s Gawd!”?

    RG: “It’s Gawd!” was inspired by the works of Neale Donald Walsch, which I happened to be familiar with. Jerry Brunskill, who had written the script, was crowdfunding for the film on Indiegogo. I came to know of it when Neale wrote a post about it on his Facebook page. I liked what I saw and contacted Jerry. He turned out to be a gem of a guy.

    After reading the script, I knew I wanted to do the project. Presenting God as a fun loving being was very original.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in preparing for your experience as executive producer of “It’s Gawd!”?

    RG: The NYFA experience turned out to very useful because it was very hands-on. When I came across the script for “It’s Gawd!” I was familiar enough with the filmmaking process so I could ask the right questions to make an informed decision. In fact I am pretty sure that without some prior knowledge of the process, I would not have had the courage to take it up the project.

    NYFA: What was the process like for you finding distribution with Amazon?

    RG: We submitted the movie originally to several high-profile festivals. It was not accepted. The general feedback was that the movie seemed too commercial. We screened the film for some friends in the business, and received similar response. We were not successful with any major distributors either. They said they looked for critically-acclaimed festival winners.

    A friend and industry professional suggested that since our film had the hallmarks of a cult film (such as  “Idiocracy” and “The Big Lobowski”), we should promote it as one. Since there are no well-defined avenues to do that, we decided to self-distribute.

    We talked to some DVD distributors; but the money offered was very small. We thought we could use Tommy’s growing social media popularity. We started evaluating iTunes, Vimeo, Amazon, etc. and met with their representatives.

    It so happened that Amazon launched its Video Direct platform at this time; It let us present the film to a very large audience and do a bit of revenue sharing. It would take several million views to recoup our cost, but at least the film will be seen by a lot of people. To be accepted, Amazon required a high standard of technical quality, which we did have.

    After the invitation-only premiere in LA — which was very successful — we did a screening in Minneapolis, which sold out. Tugg makes it quite easy to do special screenings. Once a filmmaker has uploaded the film to Tugg, anyone can screen it, provided he/she can promote it and sell a minimum number of tickets.

    NYFA: What advice can you offer to aspiring NYFA student producers who are navigating the world of distribution?

    RG: The distribution industry and marketplace has been changing rapidly. So do your research, investigate options, talk to professionals, follow up. Use your contacts to connect with industry insiders.

    NYFA: Is there anything we didn’t ask you’d like to share with our community?

    RG: The most important thing is to continue to have enthusiasm, even in the midst of adversity. We had our bit of adversity, in every phase, but it was somehow overcome. There is no formula for success. But if we stay enthusiastic, inspiration will flow and doors will open.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ruchir Garg for sharing a bit of his story. And don’t forget to check out the August 24 screening of “It’s Gawd.”

     

     

  • Where Are They Now: NYFA Beijing Filmmaking Alumni

    When it comes to New York Film Academy alumni, we are always very excited to hear the answer to the eternal question: where are they now? New York Film Academy 4-Week Filmmaking Program graduates in Beijing, China, have taken our commitment to hands-on learning to new heights after leaving their four-week intensive programs. We recently had a chance to check in and see what NYFA Beijing alumni Terry Chan, Cao Yaoyao, Phoenix Liu, and Nan Zhang have been up to since completing their certificate programs.

    Terry Chan

    Terry Chan is well known for his work as a composer of the Wang Kai-Wai film, “Days of Being Wild.” The film won Best Film at the 10th Hong Kong Film Awards. He also composed the score of “He Ri Jun Zai Lai,” which was nominated for Best Original Score at the 11th Hong Kong Film Awards and the 28th Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards. Chan also scored fellow NYFA alum Phoenix Liu’s film “30 1/2,” which won for Best Original Score at the Asians On Film Festival 2013.

    Recently, Terry has been working on some new videos for absolutefitnesshk while also keeping busy producing albums and directing concerts for many well-known singers in Hong Kong and Taiwan, including Faye Wong, Sammi Cheng, Kelly Chan, Karen Mok, Joey Yung and Elva Hsiao.

    Cao Yaoyao

    Director Cao Yaoyao is well known for her work on popular Chinese television programs, especially “If You Are the One.” This adaptation of the ITV program “Take Me Out” (“Taken Out” on Network 10 in Australia) became the most popular dating reality show in China, with a staggering audience of 50,000,000 per episode.

    Phoenix Liu

    Phoenix Liu is the director of the film “30 1/2,” for which she collaborated with composer and fellow NYFA alum Terry Chan. Phoenix also directed the first Chinese Australian study abroad TV series “Wanderers.”

    Nan Zhang

    Nan Zhang recently worked as a script supervisor on the “Once Upon a Time,” a romantic and dramatic Chinese fantasy feature produced by Alibaba Pictures and directed by Zhao Xiaoding and Anthony LaMolinara. The film, based on popular fantasy novel “Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles Peach Blossoms” also known as “To the Sky Kingdom,” grossed CN¥175 million, or approximately $25,000,000, on its opening day. The film releases in August 2017 in North America.

    Zhang is also assistant director on the film “Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings,” slated to release in 2018.

  • NYFA Gold Coast Hosts Q&A With Filmmaking Alumnus RK Musgrave

    Recently, New York Film Academy Australia filmmaking alumnus RK Musgrave returned to give a Q&A at the Gold Coast campus as a part of the Guest Speaker Series.

    RK graduated from the Diploma of Filmmaking program in 2013 and has since become a working writer and director in Queensland.

    He recently wrote, directed and produced the dark comedy theatre production “The Turn of Winston Haggle,” which ran for three nights at the Gold Coast Arts Centre Independent Season. Joining RK for the Gold Coast Q&A was one of the stars of the production, NYFA Gold Coast Acting Lecturer Dean Mayer.

    Students at the Gold Coast campus were given an insight into how RK established a creative relationship with his actors and how he utilized this during rehearsals as they collaborated to develop the characters.

    RK explained to the students, “It might be my script but it becomes everyone’s to a point. I’m leading the team, but if Dean comes to me with an idea we test it out to see if it works and if it does, great, we’ll use it … you can’t have an ego about what you’re doing.”

    As an actor, Dean Mayer explained what makes a good director: “Good communication makes me strive as an actor. They have to know what they want and know how to communicate it to actors.”

    RK also informed the students the importance of networking, as well as how it’s critical to establish long-lasting relationships with both filmmakers and actors. RK stated, “I was originally reluctant towards networking but I had to change my opinion. You’ve got to network. A lot of opportunities I’ve got is through the people I’ve gotten to know … now that I’m out in the industry, I’m meeting people and it’s important to build a team you want to constantly work and bounce ideas with … that’s what Steven Spielberg did, he works with the same people.”

    RK further spoke about how he won the 2013 Script-To-Screen longline competition while he was studying at NYFA, which granted him free script coverage. RK was also the winner of the 2016 Australian Commercial Radio Awards for Best Written Commercial.

    RK is currently developing a TV series and pitching to production companies Teddy Browne and Can’t Country. He also has written a 30-minute TV pilot that has been shot with Australia actor, Damian Garvey from “The Kettering Incident,” and is now in post-production with a view to pitching ABC later in the year.

    May 2017 Acting Diploma student Joshua Mackenzie was enthusiastic about the Q&A event: “It was so amazing to hear about his process of rehearsal, working with actors and how to network and maintain working relationships with filmmakers. I learnt a lot.”

    March 2017 Filmmaking Diploma student, Phillip Paton stated, “In one word … inspiring.”


  • NYFA Veteran BFA Film and MFA Screenwriting Alumnus Joins We Are The Mighty

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick

    NYFA Veteran alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick is on the road to success, joining the team at We Are The Mighty (WATM) after completing both is BFA in Filmmaking and MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy.

    While serving with U.S. Marine Corps, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (Known as Dark Horse) as an FMF U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, Tim Kirkpatrick wrote his first script during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. Tim’s experiences in Afghanistan, and his passion for films, led him to pursue his passion of filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

    After returning stateside and transitioning out of the U.S. Navy, Tim pursued his education at the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) in Burbank CA. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Filmmaking and then completed his Master’s degree in Screenwriting, all at NYFA.

    It was while Tim was enrolled at NYFA that he attended an employment and internship event hosted by NYFA’s Veterans Office, which featured the veterans organization We Are The Mighty (WATM).

    Tim’s skill set matched the WATM mission, which is to engage and entertain America’s 114 million military, veterans and their families with original content, branded campaigns and experiential events across multi-channel platforms and distribution partners.

    He was offered an internship with WATM. Tim succeeded as an intern and was eventually hired full-time. He is currently serving as the editorial coordinator for WATM, working underneath David Gale, WATM’s CEO. Mr. Gale was previously an executive at MTV Networks.

    Tim is truly a Renaissance man. In addition to using his talents on behalf of We Are The Mighty, he also works as a military consultant, and has successfully written, produced, and directed several short films, music videos, and commercials.

  • NYFA Photography Alumna Sinem Yazici Continues Her Meteoric Rise

    NYFA photography alumna Sinem Yazici is no stranger to success. As her interview with Asli Pelit illustrates, Sinem was a successful ad agency director before the age of 30 in her homeland of Turkey. This alone is an impressive feat, not least of all because she’s a woman, but more impressive still is her decision to leave her profession and start from scratch as an aspiring photographer.

    As a NYFA photography student in New York she was able to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion photographer, proving that it’s truly never too late to pursue your dreams. Her dedication to the craft has quickly made her one of the rising stars in men’s fashion photography and while she has changed careers, her determination and success remains unmuted.

    She recently sat down with us to discuss her experience at NYFA, her passion for New York City and men’s fashion photography.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Sinem and wish her continued success in her endeavors.

    Below you can find her full interview with Asli. Note: the views and opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the New York Film Academy.

    New York – Studio Washington

    Interviewer: Asli Pelit    Guest: Sinem Yazici

    Asli: New York is a difficult city to be successful or to live in. To be successful is even more difficult. To leave your life behind you and start over again and even start a totally new career, which is photography that you have never done before also as a woman, how did you decide to come to New York?

    Sinem: Of course! I should tell you a little bit about my life before I answer this question. I was in the advertising business. For about 15 years I worked for a big international agency and two of the biggest companies in Turkey. When I became a director at my company I was 29. My goal had been to become a director before I turned 30 years old. After I reached my goal, I started asking myself, “Ok what is going to happen now? What is my next goal or target?” because I always set goals and targets for myself in life. When I started asking myself these questions I realized that I did not want to work in advertising anymore. I was so tired, and felt like I had been working for 30 years: never ending meetings, writing back and forth, working on the weekends. I remember that some days I was working 20 hours a day. At the time that I asked myself these questions, I already had an interest in art and photography. While I had never been the type of person to walk around with a camera everywhere I had been in the photo studio a lot and had worked with photographers because of my job in advertising. So I said to myself, “Why don’t I do this job? I would love to do this! What can I do about it?” One of my clients was a photographer. I called him my brother, Kerim Sandiman. I went to him and said “Kerim can you take me as an assistant to work for you? I don’t want money. I just want to learn what you are doing.” He said, “My dear Sinem, you have to take a class first.” So I said “ok,” and I started going to a class instructed by Muhammer Yatmaz, who is a photography teacher. I loved his classes and I had a great time. I completed two levels. I started taking pictures of my friends and family and I was enjoying it. I told myself I had to educate myself more about photography. I decided to go to NY because Advertising business was almost done for me. When I started doing this, I was up and down and I couldn’t decide what to do but I didn’t stay home and do nothing, I kept learning about photography.  I came to NY and took a program at the New York Film Academy. The program was extremely fun and for years I had been dying to live in New York City. This period in my life was fun and I made a lot of good friends.  I was stopping people in the street and telling them “ I am sorry, are you a model? Can I take your photograph?”

    Asli: Yes, it is a classic NY story.

    Sinem: I took a lot of pictures in NYC and then I went back to Turkey. I started working this time with Tamer Yilmaz, who is a professional photographer and my client. I started working as his assistant and editor. I got a chance to see the real fashion world when I worked with him. When I started taking pictures, I knew I wanted to be a fashion photographer, and mostly I wanted to photograph men’s fashion. My advertising background taught me to focus on one thing and do your best. I told myself that this was my goal, and I wanted to focus solely on being a photographer. I am really enjoying what I do. I worked one year with Tamer and slowly, slowly started missing NY and started wondering if I should go back. I decided to go back. It was a really tough decision but I told myself this, “If I do something really good in one year, I will give myself one more year, but if I cannot do anything, at the end of the year I will go back and continue my photography career in Turkey”. I came to NY on a tourist visa and I had to leave the country every six months. After the first six months, everything went very well. I realized that I had not done a portfolio because I was taking pictures of my friends and family. I started working with professional models, and while I was doing this I submitted everything that I had done and sent my photography everywhere. All of a sudden I started seeing my photos all around and set-up two or three photo shoots a week. That was unbelievable and I started to have a good network of models, agents, hair and makeup artists. I saw that everything was going very well and decided to do my own portfolio. When I did the portfolio, I decided to try to get an artist visa and I was able to get it two years ago. Now I am working legally, I have my clients, and everything is going well but NY is a tough city. There are always ups and downs. I have one more year and we will see after that.

    Asli: When I look at your industry from the outside, men have all the good positions. Do think that women in this industry are behind men or are they equal?

    Sinem: Openly, I cannot say that they are equal. There are a lot of successful women photographers but when I look at the top 10, 70 or 80% are male. As someone who wants to be in the men’s fashion photography business, I’m pushing my luck because the business is already male dominated. There are a lot of gay photographers in this business. As a woman photographer, I am trying to survive. Being a woman, I believe gives me an advantage. The feedback that I am getting from my models and agents is that there is a difference as to how a gay male photographer sees a male model and a woman photographer sees a male model. I believe this minor difference makes my work unique.

    Asli: And this gives you an advantage.

    Sinem: Yes, yes, yes.

    Asli: Generally, when I look at the world and we talk about women’s rights, human rights and women doing two jobs at the same time – on one side they have a family, and at the same time try to have a career – do you think there is anything that has to change or do you believe that this idea gives women a chance at a higher position at work? Do you have any advice that you would give women?

    Sinem: Clearly, until this time, I was able to accomplish this as a CEO, but I believe I got tired. That was the reason I stopped my career. When I look at successful women’s lives as a CEO or Executive level, they have a great family life. This shows how strong we are already. You are a mom at home but you are a CEO or boss at work. When I search their personality, the successful ones always listen to their brain, not their heart. We, as women are very emotional and when we leave the emotions on the side we become equal with men. Men do not work with their emotions. I experienced this 15 years and the last six or seven years, I experienced it a different way. I believe that if women leave their emotion on the side there is nothing that can stop them. They can do anything. That is the only advice I can give. Other than that, we are already strong and powerful.

    Asli: I know that two years will go by quickly, but I hope that you stay here longer and continue your career here. What is your goal now in your career?

    Sinem: Hmm, I want to be in the top ten. You know, there is the top ten in the world. There is already a Turkish photographer in this top ten, Mert. I am very proud of him, he is my idol. I hope to reach his level.  This is a big dream for me. If I do reach his level, I will be the happiest person in the world. Even if I cannot, I would be very proud if people are discussing the work of a woman Turkish photographer. I don’t want this just for myself, I want to represent my country. We have a lot of problems in Turkey right now and when people hear this type of story they get happy. This would be my other goal if I cannot be very famous. This is my plan for the next couple of years. I don’t know what I am going to do after that, we will see.

    Asli: We will see, thank you very much.

    Sinem: I appreciate it

    Asli: I wish you success.

    Sinem: Thank you very much.

  • Spielberg’s U-2 Movie Casts U2 Daughter

    eve hewsonSt. James Place, a historical spy thriller, has quite the pedigree background behind it. Steven Spielberg will be directing a screenplay by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers. Its cast includes Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, and frequent Spielberg collaborator Tom Hanks. Also included in the cast is Eve Hewson, 23, a rising star from Ireland who also happens to be the daughter of music legend Bono.

    Hewson studied acting at the New York Film Academy in 2005 and has since found roles in music videos, thrillers and romantic comedies. She currently co-stars with Clive Owen in the Cinemax medical drama The Knick.

    Spielberg’s hotly-anticipated film takes place in 1960 and stars Hanks as real-life lawyer James Donovan. Donovan was tasked with negotiating the release of a pilot shot down in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Filming commenced last Fall in Hewson’s current hometown—Brooklyn, New York. Ironically, the plane shot down in both real life and in the movie was a U-2 spy plane, U-2 inspiring the name of Hewson’s father’s legendary rock band.

    Dream of co-starring with Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg film one day? Check out New York Film Academy’s acting school program today!

    March 2, 2015 • Acting, Entertainment News, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4363