NYFA Filmmaking
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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Issa Rae Stars in HBO Comedy Film ‘Coastal Elites’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Issa Rae is set to star in the upcoming COVID-19 era comedy film Coastal Elites, slated to air on September 12, 2020 on HBO and HBO Max.

    In 2020, Rae has already starred in The Lovebirds, The Photograph, and her own HBO show, Insecure, which was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards. It was also recently announced that Rae will work with Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions on new film Sinkhole; a film about female identity and themes of perfection, which just Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions for

    The Filmmaking alum’s latest project, Coastal Elites, is a satire film that follows the lives of five individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as they navigated their new reality. In addition to Rae, the star-studded cast includes Bette Midler, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson, and Kaitlyn Dever.

    NYFA alum Issa Rae as Callie Josephson in HBO’s ‘Coastal Elites’

    In Coastal Elites, plays well-connected philanthropist Callie Josephson, who runs in the same circles as Ivanka Trump. When asked about her upcoming role, Rae explained that it took a lot of research to get into her role but the script was “just incredible to read and immediately resonated” with the NYFA alum.

    The series is set to premiere on HBO and HBO Max on September 12, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to seeing talented alum Issa Rae in her upcoming role in Coastal Elites as well as hearing more about filmmaking alum’s upcoming project, Sinkhole.

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    September 2, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 297

  • New York Film Academy Filmmaking Alum Paul Dano Stars as The Riddler in Matt Reeves’ Upcoming Film ‘The Batman’

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    The Caped Crusader returns in a new adaption from the Cloverfield and Dawn of The Planet of The Apes director, Matt Reeves. The film will feature a star-studded cast including: Robert Pattinson (Batman), Zoë Kravitz (Catwoman), Colin Farrell (The Penguin), and NYFA Filmmaking alum Paul Dano in his most anticipated and career-bending role yet as The Riddler.

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Paul Dano as The Riddler

    While fans of the franchise have already had a preview of Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman for many months now, the recent DC FanDome event premiered a teaser trailer for the upcoming film giving fans their first glimpse at Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, The Penguin, and The Riddler.

    Fans are already excited for the film, with the trailer revealing the dark and unhinged world of Gotham and villains like Dano’s Riddler having a huge hand in the chaos as Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne tries to find his footing as the masked vigilante.

    A note for Batman from Paul Dano’s character The Riddler

    When asked about Dano’s character, Reeves had this to share: “Paul Dano plays a version of The Riddler that no one has ever seen before. What he’s doing is, I think, going to blow people’s minds.” Dano’s performance is already being applauded by fans from the trailer alone, with many taking to social media to share their excitement for his upcoming performance, which has similar undertones to the late Heath Ledger’s Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

    Daniel Day Lewis (Left) and Paul Dano (Right) in ‘There Will Be Blood’

    In addition to The Batman, Dano has already had an impressive acting career at 36 years old. Dano won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance for L.I.E. and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a cast in a Motion Picture for his role as Dwayne in Little Miss Sunshine; he was also nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for There Will Be Blood. His other notable credits include Prisoners, Swiss Army Man, The Emperor’s Club, and The Girl Next Door, among many others. He also made his directorial debut with Wildlife in 2018, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan.

    The Batman is expected to be released October 21, 2021 and will also feature NYFA Acting for Film Conservatory alum Alfredo Tavares, who is announced to be playing the role of a forensic expert.

    Watch the full teaser trailer for The Batman below:

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    August 31, 2020 • Acting, Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 476

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Antonio Campos To Release Film ‘The Devil All The Time’ on Netflix

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is thrilled to announce that Filmmaking alum Antonio Campos will release his upcoming film, The Devil All The Time, on Netflix this September.

    Film poster for Antonio Campos’ upcoming film ‘The Devil All The Time’

    The film, co-written and directed by Campos, boasts a star-studded cast including Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Jason Clarke, Bill Skarsgård, and many more. The film follows young Arvin Russell (Holland) and his family as they encounter a backwards preacher (Pattinson) and the other seemingly tainted cast of characters in this drama-thriller.

    The initial trailer for the film was released in mid August and is already receiving a lot of buzz from excited Netflix subscribers and film critics across social media.

    Campos, who studied filmmaking at NYFA in the late 90’s, is a fully fledged executive producer, director and writer. Previously, Campos has directed the critically acclaimed filmed Christine, indie film After School, many episodes of The Sinner, for which he is also an executive producer, and served as a producer for Martha Marcy May Marlene.

    NYFA alum Antonio Campos

    Following the release of The Devil All The Time, Campos has been announced to direct The First Omen, as part of The Omen horror franchise, though the project is still in development.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum Antonio Campos on his upcoming film The Devil All The Time and encourages everyone to check out the film when it arrives on September 16, 2020 on Netflix.

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    August 25, 2020 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 387

  • New York Film Academy Alum Mirza Farhan Abbas (Mirzaab) Releases Film ‘The Chase’ on YouTube Amid the Global Pandemic and Discusses the Connection of Filmmaking and Reality

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    Like many filmmakers in 2020, Mirzaab (a.k.a Mirza Farhan Abbas) hoped his film would premier in a cinema for a live audience. His film The Chase, was slated to premier in Dubai on March 26, 2020, but then the global pandemic changed everything. The NYFA digital filmmaking alum decided to pivot and release his film on YouTube instead.

    Filmmaker Mirzaab was born and raised in Pakistan, but has been living in Dubai (UAE) since 2007. “I remember that from early on I always wanted to be a film director,” recalls Mirzaab. “There wasn’t a proper film school at an institute or university level known by me that catered to the passion of an emerging filmmaker. In other words, filmmaking was never considered as a full-time profession where I was growing up.”

    NYFA digital filmmaking alum and director Mirzaab (a.k.a Mirza Farhan Abbas)

    Mirzaab recalls being raised surrounded by career choices that only seemed to be in industries such as: medicine, banking, law, teaching, engineering and others. He eventually found himself working in banking to help share the financial responsibility for his family’s household while completing his postgraduate education. “Working there [at the bank] not only brought in the support my family needed, but at the same time I was starting to feel independent in making my educational choices.”

    With a never ending desire for filmmaking, Mirzaab recalls seeking out YouTube tutorials and learning everything from how to operate certain cameras to understanding lighting techniques as best he could. “But there was a major problem in all of it; the lack of process and guidance.” 

    He soon realized it was time to explore other options, so Mirzaab began reaching out to renowned pakistani film directors for guidance and eventually got hold of Mehreen Jabbar, who lives in New York, and encouraged Mirzaab to take a filmmaking course at NYFA. 

    Throughout his time as an independent filmmaker (Over 10 years), Mirzaab explains filmmaking is really about making a connection to life and reality. 

    “I realized that I didn’t need to learn the technical skills, but I did need to have the vision. The imagination should be as bright as the cinema screen and the director must be able to take his or her audience on a 90 minutes long journey where they also feel a part of it.” 

    Mirzaab says that it is the director who borrows a fraction of reality and translates that to an audience and “stirs emotions” among viewers. If that element is missing or is unclear, it may be a well made film but not a great film, which is how he thinks through each project and becoming a better director for the audience. 

    ‘The Chase’ film poster

    His past projects embody that sense of reality and emotion that he wants the audience to experience and relate to like Lasting Silence, which explores the relationship struggles between an able-bodied girl building a friendship with a special needs girl, without having any knowledge of sign language. Another film from the director, Thankful, portrays the relationship between a father and daughter and their different views on one single incident they experience together, while Extra explores ‘happiness’ and ‘contentment’ in life.

    Mirzaab’s latest film, The Chase, explores more themes that people may grapple with regularly such as: mental health, emotional well-being, affection, rejection, social connection, paranormal intuitions, manifestation, friendships and above all, the uncertainty of life and death. “I am a big fan of exploring human relationship stories, real or fiction, it doesn’t matter to me,” he shares. “I always enjoy it and my filmmaking is primarily based on such stories and all my films reflect that commonality.”

    Mirzaab reminds filmmakers, producers, and teachers of every caliber to remember: “The scale of production is a good measure to gauge the seriousness of a filmmaker, but many times we miss out those filmmakers whose passions go way beyond their lack of resources and apprenticeships.” 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Mirzaab on the release of his latest film and encourages everyone to check out The Chase, now available to watch on Mirzaab’s YouTube channel here.

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    July 30, 2020 • Abu Dhabi, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 783

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum’s Documentary Film About Life Changing Meditation Technique Selected for the New York Lift Off Festival

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    In addition to having his film selected in the New York Lift Off Festival, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Naman Goyal is using his latest documentary as a means to educate others during the global Coronavirus pandemic about a unique meditation technique that could assist individuals with their mental health in such unprecedented times. 

    Naman Goyal, who hails from India, graduated from NYFA’s One Year Filmmaking Conservatory  in 2010 from the New York City campus. The Jaipur-based filmmaker is now gaining media attention surrounding his feature documentary The Magical Guru and His Secret Mantra (revealed), which portrays a unique meditation technique that is having a positive impact on hospital patients and others seeking healing. 

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum Naman Goyal

    The docu-film explores an alternative healing method, otherwise known as “’Energy Healing Meditation Technique” and its founder, Guru Ram Lal Siyag. This meditation technique is said to build up the body’s immune system and generate antibodies that could help fight off bacteria or even a virus. 

    Goyal completed filming the documentary in January 2020, a few months before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. “Initially, I only wanted to make a half an hour film on this topic, but as I started researching, the project just expanded into a feature film and one and a half years just flew by,” shares Goyal. The docu-film, includes interviews from doctors and patients who benefited from the Energy Healing Meditation Technique both physically and mentally. Some patients interviewed even included former cancer patients who experienced significantly reduced cancer recovery times. 

    When the global pandemic hit, Goyal knew his documentary would be an informative resource for Coronavirus patients seeking healing. “I started sending clips of my documentary to patients in Wuhan (China), Daegu (South Korea), Milan (Italy), and New York City through Facebook,” says Goyal. 

    At the time the pandemic reached Goyal’s own city of Jaipur, India, he showed the meditation technique to a Coronavirus patient, who recovered a week after beginning the meditation, along with their prescribed medication. Goyal then reached out to another patient in Jodhpur City, who also owed their recovery to the meditation technique. Goyal has since been interviewed by a number of news outlets including India’s CNN-News18 about the technique featured in his documentary (Video below with English subtitles).

    Goyal’s docu-film  has already attracted festival attention and has been selected to appear in the upcoming New York Lift Off Film Festival. Goyal reveals the film may have an official release in September 2020 and shares that he is in talks with the U.S. Department of Health (NCCIH and NIH), who are looking at the possibility of doing a clinical trial with the meditation technique. 

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Naman Goyal on his forthcoming documentary film The Magical Guru and His Secret Mantra and looks forward to upcoming projects from the Filmmaking alum.

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alumni Direct Music Videos in Collaboration with Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) filmmaking alumni Gabriele Fabbro and Jonathan Samukange were given the opportunity to collaborate with Josh Homme’s super group, the Desert Sessions, to create two diverse and unique music videos for two of the tracks off the Desert Sessions’ latest album, Vols. 11 & 12.

    The Desert Sessions is a musical supergroup formed by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, who has been hosting his “Desert Sessions” retreats since 1997. Each session involves a different group of well-known musicians mixed with unknown talent, who come together in the desert to simply play music and experiment with new techniques and melodies.

    Official photo courtesy of the Desert Sessions musical collective

    “It is a really creative project that Jonathan Samukange and I have had the pleasure to be involved in,” says Italian filmmaker and NYFA alum Gabriele Fabbro. “Matador records and Josh Homme reached out to NYFA looking for filmmakers to shoot music videos for their latest album Vols. 11 & 12. We had a great first meeting with Josh [Homme], where he explained the nature of the sessions.” After pitching their ideas for their videos, Fabbro and Samukange were selected by Homme and given a production budget to create two videos for the Desert Sessions.

    Still from “If You Run” (Directed by Gabriele Fabbro)

    Fabbro’s video, “If You Run,” follows a young woman who witnesses something terrifying in the woods and tries to escape. The director’s inspiration for the video was taken from deadly attacks on European journalists. “I used to read a lot of news about murders,” says Fabbro. “I remember one [story] in particular that happened in a cornfield. That article came to mind while hearing ‘If You Run’.”

    Filmmaker and NYFA alum Gabriele Fabbro

    “I wanted to play with tension,” says Fabbro. “I wanted a video that would keep the audience at the edge of their seat.” To portray this, Fabbro made sure that every aspect of the video embodied a sense of fear and unease for the viewer “Every tool in the video, from the shakiness of the handheld shots to the distorted sound of the radio, serves to exaggerate this fear.”

    The second video created for Desert Sessions was for the song “Move Together,” directed by NYFA Filmmaking alum Jonathan Samukange, who is also known as “Director O.” His video, filmed in his home country of Zimbabwe, is a reimagining of the story of Adam and Eve. The video enlisted residents of an entire village and utilized the region’s stunning natural landscape to create “a time capsule” and hallucinatory trip through time.

    “Move Together” (Directed by Jonathan Samukange)

    Before being involved with the project, Samukange says he wasn’t planning on staying in the U.S because his vision is to “change the face of cinema in Africa and bring new opportunities.” When he initially pitched his vision for the video, he knew it could only be filmed in his home country of Zimbabwe. “It was a huge risk, but I believed in my heart that the people in Africa have a lot to offer and that’s what I was bringing to the table.”

    Filmmaker and NYFA alum Jonathan Samukange

    When asked about his vision for the video, Samukange stated, “the theme of love and working together [in the lyrics] as well as the conflict that comes with such connections took me back to the time of Adam and Eve.” He explained that their love “created conflict in their lives and they still stayed together through thick and thin.” He wanted his audience to also feel the attraction of opposites and conflict by combining two opposite elements for the video. “I immediately fell in love with the idea of fusing rock and Afro House dance moves. In my opinion, when cultures clash, new relationships and ideas form.”

     

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate both Gabriele Fabbro and Jonathan Samukange on the release of their videos for Desert Sessions and looks forward to seeing what both alums will come out with next. NYFA also encourages everyone to check out Desert Sessions Volumes 11 & 12, out now, on Matador Records.

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    May 28, 2020 • Alumni Events, Filmmaking • Views: 641

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Producing and Filmmaking Instructor Denise Carlson Produces ITS A DOG’S LIFE on Disney+

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    Not all heroes wear capes, but they do have fur. It’s a Dog’s Life, an upcoming Disney+ docu series explores the incredible role that many dogs play to make the lives of others better. New York Film Academy (NYFA) producing and filmmaking instructor Denise Carlson is one of the producers on the series that will be available on the Disney streaming platform May 15, 2020. 

    It’s a Dog’s Life is hosted by voiceover legend Bill Farmer, known for his iconic role as Disney’s Goofy, as he crosses the country to meet different dogs doing incredible jobs or extraordinary activities and explores the special bond between dogs and humans. 

    Title card for ‘It’s A Dog’s Life’

    Carlson, who had previous experience with Disney while working at Disney Channel, was a clear fit for this project given her past production experience and her enthusiasm for animal foster care and animal rescue. “Seriously, there is nothing about working with the dogs that I did not love,” Carlson tells NYFA. “But my favorite part of this project is actually the people involved. We have an amazing group of people who came together to put this show together.”

    Each episode of It’s a Dog’s Life explores a new dog that goes well beyond just fetching the stick in the backyard; dogs like Monte, the latest celebrity dog who starred in the recent live action adaptation of Lady and the Tramp. “It [the show] fits right into the Disney brand, in general, especially since there have been so many dogs in Disney shows and movies,” says Carlson. “It also crosses cultural boundaries- I mean, who doesn’t like dogs?”

    Carlson with Monte, dog turned actor featured in ‘Lady in the Tramp’

    With so many different stories featured on the show, Carlson says the one that sticks out the most is the episode dedicated to SuperCorgi Jojo, the surfing corgi. “It is incredibly touching. Jojo started surfing as therapy after a bad injury,” she says. “Jojo is the happiest little dog and you can tell he loves what he does.”

    Carlson with SuperCorgi Jojo, the surfing corgi

    New York Film Academy congratulates filmmaking and producing instructor Denise Carlson on her new series It’s A Dog’s Life and encourages everyone to celebrate man’s best friend and all the wonderful things dogs do for us by watching It’s A Dog’s Life when it comes out on May 15, 2020 on Disney+.

    Watch the trailer for It’s A Dog’s Life below:

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    May 13, 2020 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1098

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Aisultan Seitov Nominated For 2019 MTV VMA “Video of the Year”

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum and Partizan director Aisultan Seitov has been nominated for MTV’s VMA for Video of the Year Award for 21 Savage’s music video “a lot” featuring J. Cole. The tone and visuals of the video were influenced by The Godfather Part II and last year’s Oscar-nominated film Cold War. Seitov previously directed the music video for “Red Room,” the first single from Offset’s much-hyped solo album, which gained a lot of buzz for its striking visuals and powerful emotive tone.

    The following video contains explicit content.

    Born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Seitov first came to New York Film Academy as a high school student in our Advanced Filmmaking Camp for Teens, a year later attending the 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory at our New York campus before enrolling in the BFA program in Los Angeles. Along the way, Seitov gained a substantial social media following as an influencer with insight about music and international film. As Shoot Online explains, “This nomination further solidifies Seitov’s reputation as a leader among the new crowd of creators who integrate cutting-edge creativity and digital savvy with youthful authenticity.”

    Hosted by comedian and actor Sebastian Maniscalco, the 36th annual MTV VMAs will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, the first VMA ceremony to be held in the Garden State. Often called the “Super Bowl for youth”, the VMA ceremony draws millions of youth each year, and awards the coveted “Moon Person” statues to winners chosen by viewers who voted on their favorite videos in each category on MTV.com

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Aisultan Seitov on his nomination for Video of the Year and looks forward to tuning in tonight for this year’s MTV VMAs at 8:00pm ET.

     

    Nominees for the 2019 MTV VMAs include:

     

    Video of the Year

    21 Savage ft. J. Cole – “a lot” – Epic Records
    Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” – Darkroom/Interscope Records
    Ariana Grande – “thank u, next” – Republic Records
    Jonas Brothers – “Sucker” – Republic Records
    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Columbia Records
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down” – Republic Records – WINNER

     

    Artist of the Year

    Cardi B – Atlantic Records
    Billie Eilish – Darkroom/Interscope Records
    Ariana Grande – Republic Records – WINNER
    Halsey – Astralwerks/Capitol Records
    Jonas Brothers – Republic Records
    Shawn Mendes – Island Records

     

    Song of the Year

    Drake – “In My Feelings” – Young Money/Cash Money/Republic Records
    Ariana Grande – “thank u, next” – Republic Records
    Jonas Brothers – “Sucker” – Republic Records
    Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – “Shallow” – Interscope Records
    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Columbia Records – WINNER
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down” – Republic Records

     

    Best New Artist

    Ava Max – Atlantic Records
    Billie Eilish – Darkroom/Interscope Records – WINNER
    H.E.R. – MBK/RCA Records
    Lil Nas X – Columbia Records
    Lizzo – Atlantic Records
    Rosalia – Columbia Records

     

    Best Collaboration

    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Columbia Records
    Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – “Shallow” – Interscope Records
    Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Señorita” – Island Records – WINNER
    Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco – “ME!” – Republic Records
    Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care” – Atlantic Records
    BTS ft. Halsey – “Boy With Luv” – Columbia Records

     

    Push Artist of the Year

    Bazzi – Atlantic Records
    CNCO – RCA Records
    Billie Eilish – Darkroom/Interscope Records – WINNER
    H.E.R. – MBK/RCA Records
    Lauv – LAUV/AWAL
    Lizzo – Atlantic Records

     

    Best Pop

    5 Seconds of Summer – “Easier” – Interscope Records
    Cardi B & Bruno Mars – “Please Me” – Atlantic Records
    Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” – Darkroom/Interscope Records
    Ariana Grande – “”hank u, next” – Republic Records
    Jonas Brothers – “Sucker” – Republic Records – WINNER
    Khalid – “Talk” – Right Hand Music Group/RCA Records
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down” – Republic Records

     

    Best Hip Hop
    2 Chainz ft. Ariana Grande – “Rule the World” – 2 Chainz Ps/Def Jam
    21 Savage ft. J. Cole – “a lot” – Epic Records
    Cardi B – “Money” – Atlantic Records – WINNER
    DJ Khaled ft. Nipsey Hussle & John Legend – “Higher” – We The Best/Epic Records
    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Columbia Records
    Travis Scott ft. Drake – “SICKO MODE” – Epic Records/Grand Hustle/Cactus Jack

     

    Best R&B

    Anderson .Paak ft. Smokey Robinson – “Make It Better” – Aftermath Ent/12 Tone Music
    Childish Gambino – “Feels Like Summer” – RCA Records
    H.E.R. ft. Bryson Tiller – “Could’ve Been” – MBK/RCA Records
    Alicia Keys – “Raise A Man” – RCA Records
    Ella Mai – “Trip” – 10 Summers/Interscope Records
    Normani ft. 6lack – “Waves” – Keep Cool/RCA Records – WINNER

     

    Best K-Pop

    BTS ft. Halsey – “Boy With Luv” – Columbia Records – WINNER
    BLACKPINK – “Kill This Love” – YG Entertainment/Interscope Records
    Monsta X ft. French Montana – “Who Do You Love” – Epic Records
    TOMORROW X TOGETHER – “Cat & Dog” – Republic Records
    NCT 127 – “Regular” – SM Entertainment
    EXO – “Tempo” – SM Entertainment

     

    Best Latin

    Anuel AA, Karol G – “Secreto” – Universal Music Latino
    Bad Bunny ft. Drake – “MIA” – OVO Sound/Warner Bros. Records
    Benny Blanco, Tainy, Selena Gomez, J Balvin – “I Can’t Get Enough” – NEON16/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope Records
    Daddy Yankee ft. Snow – “Con Calma” – Universal Music Latin Entertainment
    Maluma – “Mala Mía” – Sony Music US Latin
    Rosalia & J Balvin ft. El Guincho – “Con Altura” – Columbia Records – WINNER

     

    Best Art Direction

    BTS ft. Halsey – “Boy With Luv” – Columbia Records – Art Direction by JinSil Park, BoNa Kim (MU:E)
    Ariana Grande – “7 Rings” – Republic Records – Art Direction by John Richoux – WINNER
    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Columbia Records – Art Direction by Itaru Dela Vegas
    Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Señorita” – Island Records – Art Direction by Tatiana Van Sauter
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down” – Republic Records – Art Direction by Brittany Porter
    Kanye West and Lil’ Pump ft. Adele Givens – “I Love It” – Warner Records & Def Jam Music Group – Art Direction by Tino Schaedler

     

    Best Rock

    The 1975 – “Love It If We Made It” – Dirty Hit/Interscope Records
    Fall Out Boy – “Bishops Knife Trick” – Island Records
    Imagine Dragons – “Natural” – KIDinaKORNER/Interscope Records
    Lenny Kravitz – “Low” – BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd.
    Panic! At The Disco – “High Hopes” – Elektra Music Group – WINNER
    twenty one pilots – “My Blood” – Elektra Music Group

     

    Best Dance

    The Chainsmokers ft. Bebe Rexha – “Call You Mine” – Disruptor/Columbia Records – WINNER
    Clean Bandit ft. Demi Lovato – “Solo” – Big Beat/Atlantic Records
    DJ Snake ft. Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B – “Taki Taki” – DJ Snake Music Productions Ltd/Geffen
    David Guetta, Bebe Rexha & J Balvin – “Say My Name” – Big Beat/Atlantic Records
    Marshmello & Bastille – “Happier” – Capitol Records
    Silk City & Dua Lipa – “Electricity” – Columbia Records

     

    Best Direction

    Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” – Darkroom/Interscope Records – Directed by Dave Meyers
    FKA twigs – “Cellophane” – Young Turks – Directed by Andrew Thomas Huang
    Ariana Grande – “thank u, next” – Republic Records – Directed by Hannah Lux Davis
    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Columbia Records – Directed by Calmatic – WINNER
    LSD ft. Labrinth, Sia, Diplo – “No New Friends” – Columbia Records – Directed by Dano Cerny
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down” – Republic Records – Directed by Drew Kirsch & Taylor Swift

     

    Video for Good

    Halsey – “Nightmare” – Astralwerks/Capitol Records
    The Killers – “Land of the Free” – Island
    Jamie N Commons, Skylar Grey ft. Gallant – “Runaway Train” – Interscope Records
    John Legend – “Preach” – Columbia Records
    Lil Dicky – “Earth” – Dirty Burd, Inc./Commission/BMG
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down” – Republic Records – WINNER

     

    Best Visual Effects

    Billie Eilish – “when the party’s over” – Darkroom/Interscope Records – Visual Effects by Ryan Ross, Andres Jaramillo
    FKA twigs – “Cellophane” – Young Turks – Visual Effects by Matt Chandler, Fabio Zaveti for Analog
    Ariana Grande – “God Is a Woman” – Republic Records – Visual Effects by Fabrice Lagayette, FKristina Prilukova & Rebecca Rice for Mathematic
    DJ Khaled ft. SZA – “Just Us” – We The Best/Epic Records – Visual Effects by Sergii Mashevskyi
    LSD ft. Labrinth, Sia, Diplo – “No New Friends” – Columbia Records – Visual Effects by Ethan Chancer
    Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco – “ME!” – Republic Records – Visual Effects by Loris Paillier & Lucas Salton for BUF VFX – WINNER

     

    Best Editing

    Anderson .Paak ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Tints” – Aftermath Ent/12 Tone Music – Editing by Elias Talbot
    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)” – Columbia Record – Editing by Calmatic
    Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” – Darkroom/Interscope Records – Editing by Billie Eilish – WINNER
    Ariana Grande – “7 Rings” – Republic Records – Editing by Hannah Lux Davis & Taylor Walsh
    Solange – “Almeda” – Columbia Records – Editing by Solange Knowles, Vinnie Hobbs, Jonathon Proctor
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down” – Republic Records – Editing by Jarrett Fijal

     

    Best Choreography

    FKA twigs – “Cellophane” – Young Turks – Choreography by Kelly Yvonne
    Rosalia & J Balvin ft. El Guincho – “Con Altura” – Columbia Records – Choreography by Charm La’Donna – WINNER
    LSD ft. Labrinth, Sia, Diplo – “No New Friends” – Columbia Records – Choreography by Ryan Heffington
    Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Señorita” – Island Records – Choreography by Calvit Hodge, Sara Biv
    Solange – “Almeda” – Columbia Records – Choreography by Maya Taylor, Solange Knowles
    BTS ft. Halsey – “Boy With Luv” – Columbia Records – Choreography by Rie Hata

     

    Best Cinematography

    Anderson .Paak ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Tints” – Aftermath Ent/12 Tone Music – Cinematography by Elias Talbot
    Billie Eilish – “hostage” – Darkroom/Interscope Records – Cinematography by Pau Castejon
    Ariana Grande – “thank u, next” – Republic Records – Cinematography by Christopher Probst
    Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Señorita” – Island Records – Cinematography by Scott Cunningham – WINNER
    Solange – “Almeda” – Columbia Records – Cinematography by Chayse Irvin, Ryan Marie Helfant, Justin Hamilton
    Taylor Swift ft. Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco – “ME!” – Republic Records – Cinematography by Starr Whitesides

     

    Best Group

    5 Seconds of Summer
    Backstreet Boys
    BLACKPINK
    BTS – WINNER 
    CNCO
    Jonas Brothers
    PRETTYMUCH
    Why Don’t We

     

    Best Power Anthem

    Ariana Grande – “7 Rings”
    DJ Khaled, ft. Cardi B & 21 Savage – “Wish Wish”
    Halsey – “Nightmare”
    Lizzo ft. Missy Elliott – “Tempo”
    Maren Morris – “GIRL”
    Miley Cyrus – “Mother’s Daughter”
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down”
    Megan Thee Stallion ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign – “Hot Girl Summer”

     

    Song of the Summer

    Ariana Grande & Social House – “boyfriend” – WINNER
    Billie Eilish – “bad guy”
    DaBaby – “Suge”
    Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber – “I Don’t Care”
    Jonas Brothers – “Sucker”
    Khalid – “Talk”
    Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – “Old Town Road (Remix)”
    Lil Tecca – “Ransom”
    Lizzo – “Truth Hurts”
    Miley Cyrus – “Mother’s Daughter”
    Post Malone ft. Young Thug – “Goodbyes”
    ROSALÍA & J Balvin ft. El Guincho – “Con Altura”
    Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello – “Señorita”
    Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down”
    The Chainsmokers & Bebe Rexha – “Call You Mine”
    Young Thug ft. J. Cole & Travis Scott – “The London”

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  • Insomnia on STARZ Executive Produced by New York Film Academy Alum Slava N. Jakovleff

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    Many artists dream of creating something entirely original, but to realize that dream on prime-time television is extra special. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Filmmaking grad Slava N. Jakovleff has done just that, distributing not one but two of his original series to major networks; Siberia, to NBC, and Insomnia, now seen worldwide on STARZ.

    Here, Slava shares some of the amazing story behind producing his hit series with the NYFA Blog.

    *Please note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    INSOMNIA | TV SERIES | TRAILER 1 [HD] | STARZ from Slava Jakovleff on Vimeo.

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

    Slava: I wanted to be an actor — this is my passion. I graduated as an actor after four years at one of the best and most famous Russian acting schools in Saint Petersburg, and then got a PhD as an acting and voice teacher. I always thought about directing and producing. I figured out that the knowledge of acting and directing was not enough to make my dream happen. I needed to study filmmaking. And where is the best place to do it? Of course in Los Angeles, the global center of the film industry.

    I checked online resources and found that New York Film Academy had Filmmaking courses at Universal Studios. So, I joined the school at 36. Yes! At 36. It’s never too late to learn.

    NYFA: You wear many hats, as an actor, director, and producer. What inspires you about these various roles, and how does changing between them inform your work?

    Slava: It’s great that now I know something more about acting, directing, and producing. I know how to play, how to be an actor on the set or on the stage. For me, acting is an absolutely phenomenal state of mind. To me, it’s not a job! It’s a state of mind, of soul. Acting is a study of the human soul. This is the first and inner circle.

    Acting really helps me to direct. I’m more an actor’s director than just a director; I love actors and love to work with them. Directing makes it possible to not only deliver the story and actors’ emotions to the audience, but also to make the audience think, laugh, or cry — in short, feel something — while watching a screen or a stage. This is the second circle, a bit wider.

    Producing is the third, wide circle, and gives me the opportunity to care for the first two circles and bring all of these three circles to the audience.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    Slava: I loved how the learning process was organized at the Academy. I got so much professional information in such a short time.

    NYFA: Before establishing yourself in Hollywood, you worked as an actor in Russia. How did you navigate that transition from one industry to another, including acting in another language?

    Slava: Yes, I was a pretty established actor at that time in Russia. When I moved to LA for business reasons, only one thing was important to me: I wanted to establish myself in Hollywood as a producer and director. … But regarding acting as a whole, if you are a professional, educated actor, it doesn’t matter in which language you act. It’s only about the professionalism.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your company, Welldone Production?

    Slava: I founded Welldone Production as my own company in 2004, during my time at NYFA, as a filmmaking company.

    The first project I did in LA was a stage play called The Last Night of The Last Tsar, a mysterious story about the last night of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II Romanov and his family — and what happened with the lead executioner, Yurovsky, exactly 20 years after the execution. We played 6 weeks at the Stella Adler Theater in 2005. It was a successful run, and I told myself, “Let’s start to write the script for my own feature film.” We are now in pre-production. I rewrote the script many times since the start, researching historical information and studying archives. And now I am completely happy with the script I have, titled Swampy Roads. It seems like a very long journey just for one project, but I am completely satisfied and proud of that.

    At the same time, my company and I did many projects in Russia and the U.S. One of them was my first TV project here in Hollywood, Siberia (2013), where I was an executive producer and director of some episodes. Siberia was completely independently financed, and afterward the show was bought by NBC for prime-time airing. It was the first time that a Russian producer sold his own independent TV show to NBC. I am very proud of that.

    Siberia TV Series_NBC_ Official Trailer from Slava Jakovleff on Vimeo.

    NYFA: As executive producer and director for STARZ series Insomnia, what inspired you to take on this project? 

    Slava: Insomnia was also a completely independently financed TV series, and when the show was completely ready it was picked up by STARZ.

    My Russian friend, a producer, showed me a story on which he was working at that time. I loved the concept, because I thought this could work for any audience around the globe. I bought the license from him to make an English version, and invited an American-Canadian writing team to rework the story. At the end we got a deep, very edgy psychological thriller, an action story with sci-fi elements.

    I knew that not everyone would like this story, and some networks and streaming platforms would be afraid to put it on the air, saying that the story is too extreme for them. My team and I tried to show the truth that human life costs nothing in modern life. My entire team, cast, and crew members — including one of the best directors of cinematography, Primetime Emmy winner John S. Bartley (LOST, X-Files, Bites Motel), and one of the best casting directors, Primetime Emmy winner Stephanie Gorin (Fargo) — tried to make it happen. I understood that many of us would not like to hear the truth. I really do not like it either, but I needed to say this about it to sort it out myself. I needed to say it without any “politeness” and “polishing.” I wanted to make the viewer think and draw conclusions.

    After the show was done, STARZ picked up the series for worldwide distribution. I am very proud of that.

    NYFA: Were there any challenges along the way in bringing Insomnia to Starz?

    Slava: Bringing any projects to any network or distributor is a big challenge for every team, and this project was no exception.

    The story of Insomnia was set for filming in Washington D.C., but when I was scouting locations there I realized it was impossible. I took a week-long break and announced to my team that the show would be filmed in Moscow, Russia, and the first day of filming should be June 1. This was a real challenge: the team was booked for principal filming starting on April 15 in D.C.

    We had only six weeks for making changes in the script, finding a local Russian production company, organizing to bring the entire American-Canadian team to Moscow, rescheduling the production, new location scouting, language problems (as we had two teams), etc. But we went through all these incredible difficulties (just imagine the problem with visas or understanding between two different languages and mentalities on set) and began to shoot exactly as planned, on June 1.

    Then we figured out that Insomnia is not just the title of this series, but actually what became a way of life for the cast and crew! Filming for all eight episodes took place over 68 working days, 2/3 of which were night shoots. We needed to shoot everything by the end of August, as the story takes place during four consecutive summer days. Management of the production was critical, as filming night scenes during the summer in Moscow was challenging — some nights only had around 2-3 hours of darkness, and the weather is unstable: the sun, clouds, and storms.

    The entire show was filmed in Moscow, with scenes set in New York and Cambodia being filmed on sets. We were able to film in unique locations, such as Red Square and near the Kremlin, Bolshoi Theatre, the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the Four Seasons, and the Ritz Carlton Presidential Suite with its authentic view of the Kremlin and Bolshoi Theatre — no other foreign production companies have been allowed to film in this location before. By the way, Insomnia’s production company, Welldone Production, is the only foreign production company in the last 20 years to be able to film in the highly secure Red Square.

    All explosions, car crashes, gunshots, and underwater scenes were filmed without CGI, and all action scenes were filmed by the main unit team (we didn’t have second unit).

    Then, we spent months editing the series here in Los Angeles in one of the best post-production facilities in town: Burnish Creative. They’re such a talented, professional, and passionate young team. When the show was picked by STARZ, we entered the delivery process and had to go through quality control. It was such a great challenge and big experience.

    The series employed 720 people from nine countries and filmed around 750 total scenes. And I want to again say thank you to my entire team and the people who worked for Insomnia.

    NYFA: What is your best advice for NYFA students who are interested in following your footsteps and founding their own production companies, in Hollywood or elsewhere?

    Slava: In short I can say: break the rules (which is very tough sometimes), and never give up.

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

    Slava: No doubt!

    NYFA: Anything I missed that you would like to speak on?

    Slava: Many years ago, when we were young, my army friend, on the day when we finished our service in the tank troops, gave me a simple drawing of our tank with the inscription, “Follow your star!” Here I am, still following.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Slava N. Jakovleff for his generous interview.

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  • First Doc Feature By Ravjot Mehek Singh Tackles U.S. Health Care System

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    After graduating from New York Film Academy Filmmaking conservatory in New York City at the age of 19, Ravjot Mehek Singh hit the ground running. First, she started with large-scale roles directing Bollywood music videos. Soon after, she was assistant director on The Voice India, an opportunity that opened the door for her to write and direct three of her own TV shows for Dish Network by age 21.

    Singh’s first documentary is I Stand With Jessy, a powerful and intimate portrait of an South Asian immigrant woman in the U.S. fighting breast cancer, in poverty. The film premiered on Dish Network last year in March before going on to win at Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival in New Delhi, India, as well as winning the Impact Doc Awards Film Festival in 2017.

    Here, Singh shares her best advice about telling a story that matters, through filmmaking.

    NYFA: First can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    RMS: I am an Indian American film and TV director, with strong roots in both Bollywood and Hollywood. I have directed a handful of films and TV talk shows for channels on Dish Network, such as Jus Punjabi and Jus 24×7, and have directed many Bollywood music videos.

    I came to study at NYFA directly after high school, after learning how hands-on the approach was and how students would be learning practical skills from day one.

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you about this medium?

    RMS: In high school, I was always interested in pursuing work that would impact society on a large scale. As a teenager, I would spend many days out of the week vlogging on Youtube, self-teaching editing tricks, and creating improv characters for my comedy sketches. My love for video came together with my goals of positively influencing people on a mass scale, and led me to NYFA.

    What inspires me most about filmmaking is how you can truly allow the audience to see, hear, and feel the struggle of others. The best way to create love and understanding in our world is by walking in each other’s shoes. Many people choose not to step into each other’s [points of view] on a day-to-day basis, which is where film and television come in to assist people in seeing someone else’s perspective.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    RMS: I have so many wonderful memories with my teachers, such as Professor William Tyler Smith, Professor Nicola Raggi, and Professor Tasos Panagiotopoulos. Each of them taught me incredibly valuable lessons that come into use every day in the industry.

    Some of my favorite moments are from the summertime, when all the students were new and figuring out how to use traditional film cameras. It was a unique bonding experience between students from all over the world, and an important lesson on rehearsing until you get the shot right on the first few tries.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your journey in working with Jus TV? What drew you to the mission of Punjabi programming?

    RMS: After graduating from NYFA, I immediately began working overseas in the Indian film industry. I worked on TV shows such as The Voice India, which helped transition me to the more stable, routine lifestyle of television. Jus TV is a major Asian TV channel that is based in New York City, so coming back to the U.S. to work in a channel that crossed Hollywood and Bollywood concepts was the perfect fit! I wanted to use my skills and dual cultural upbringing to create progressive television programming for Asian children and young adults who grew up in America. We are constantly getting two separate streams of content, one side being totally American and the other side being totally Asian. My goal was to create a blend of both types of media to better appeal to our cross-cultural upbringing.

    NYFA: How did your project I Stand With Jessy come about?

    RMS: Jessy is actually my aunt. I did not expect to create a feature documentary on the topic, I had originally planned the project to be 10 minutes long and only focusing on Jessy herself. However, as the project continued to build up, Jus TV gave me the opportunity to merge my personal project with their company and create a full-length feature (the first feature film to come from their channel).

    The more investigation I did to fully understand laws for breast cancer detection and treatment for low-income women, the more flaws I found in our healthcare system in the U.S. I discovered that a huge number of women are left without proper care or any consideration of how time-sensitive treatment options are for breast cancer.

    I started developing the film to focus more on how we can take a stand to change these deadly rules and regulations in the healthcare industry.

    NYFA: What were some of the challenges you faced in creating this feature documentary, and how did you overcome them?

    RMS: One of the biggest challenges for this documentary was allowing Jessy to feel comfortable enough to speak out about a topic that most Asians choose not to openly discuss. There is a huge stigma in nearly all Asian countries about women’s bodies and how illness is perceived. Jessy, like most Asian women, was anxious about how the community would react to her being so open about her breast cancer and the issues that come with chemotherapy.

    Ultimately Jessy and I worked together to create a list of questions that would ease her into speaking about certain harsh topics. In the end, Jessy had become so comfortable while filming that she even allowed me to follow her around throughout her day and film all of it!

    Another unique challenge was reaching members of the government to comment on the issues of our healthcare system. Though many attempts were made to contact government officials, none of them responded to give their input on issues regarding women’s health.

    There is still fear and negativity attached to openly assigning opinions on women’s health and the poor setup of the healthcare system in the United States.

    NYFA: What is your advice to NYFA students interested in producing a feature documentary?

    RMS: My best advice would be to think of a topic that has the depth to be turned into a film of one hour or longer. The topic should be something unique or quirky enough that the audience would be willing to sit and watch a nonfiction piece over the many fictional TV shows and films out there.

    Ultimately, you don’t need much to create a beautiful documentar, besides yourself, a camera, and a subject you’re passionate about. That is part of what makes the documentary genre so accessible for new filmmakers.

    NYFA: Congratulations on all your film festival success! What is next for I Stand With Jessy?

    RMS: I Stand With Jessy has an adjacent petition for the government to lower the age of breast cancer screenings and include screening options that go beyond the basic mammogram. It can be found and supported at change.org/p/i-stand-with-jessy. As of now, 1,702 people have signed it.

    I hope to continue the petition and reach out to members of congress to discuss a reasonable goal for healthcare in the United States.

    Luckily the film has gained major publicity for winning India’s biggest film festival, the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival, and last year it gained American publicity thanks to winning the Impact Doc Awards Film Festival. These two festivals have helped spark public interest in bettering the healthcare system in the U.S. for immigrants.

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

    RMS: The wonderful hands-on approach at NYFA helped eliminate the wasted time of theories and repetitive classwork with no relevance to film. Thanks to NYFA’s one-year program in filmmaking, I was able to find work immediately, with the right connections in the film industry. I have not yet been on any set where my skills have not been at par with serious film professionals and former students with degrees in film.

    I am thankful to NYFA for creating this brilliant, expedited opportunity to learn the true essence of film. After that, it is up to each individual student to continue learning and filling in any blanks for themselves.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

    RMS: This year, I am directing my first horror film in Boston with Mtown Films. Along with that, I am working on directing multiple Bollywood music videos, which has become a fun niche of mine in the past few years. The music videos will be shot all across the United States and India, and will be releasing later this year. I am also looking forward to developing more medical documentaries that expose the truth about the negative impacts of our healthcare system.

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