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  • Filmmaking Grad Jesse Kove Helps Save the World in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

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    It’s not easy forging your own path in independent film, but New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking grad Jesse Kove has blazed a trail straight into the hearts of video game and ‘80s film fans with the upcoming adventure flick Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    The film recently wrapped in Arizona, and Kove took the time out of his busy schedule to tell the NYFA Blog more about his work, his exciting projects, and what’s next. Check out what he has to say:

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

    JK: My journey started as a young boy growing up in the film business around my father, (Martin Kove). I was six months old and on movies sets, and I still remember vividly today all the different film sets I’ve been on around the country, and the world that my father brought me along with — traveling with him or visiting him when he was on location was always my favorite thing. It was like going to Disneyland for me, the make-believe. It was always something different, whether [a film was set] in the future or going back in time to the West, I always loved it.

    One of my favorite trips was to India. We had an unforgettable time together. They filmed in Hyderabad, where they literally have a city just for filmmaking. I would travel on my own and walk around and look at all the backdrops and different film sets and feel right at home. I would watch the filmmaking process as well, and ask lots of questions. This was the best education a young filmmaker could get and I was very fortunate to have these opportunities.

    Back home I would make my own little movies with action figures and G.I. Joes. That’s how it all started. I would also copy what I saw in classic movies that my father and I would watch together, The Seventh Samurai, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and Casablanca, all the classics! Making movies is in my blood and its been my passion since early childhood.

    NYFA: Growing up in a show-business family, was there anything that you learned in your time at NYFA that surprised you?

    JK: What I loved so much about NYFA that I didn’t get enough of on film sets was actually learning the basics and history of film cameras, and actually shooting on real film. This was very special, and I was so grateful for NYFA to allow us to do that.

    Also just truly understanding how a digital camera works — the inner workings and technical aspects of all cameras. This is so important, these tools create great filmmakers! It is the knowledge and technology of filmmaking, and they’ve got it down!

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

    JK: There are so many memories of when I was at NYFA. The fondest memories were the relationships and time I had with fellow students — who I am still friends with today. In the industry, relationships are everything!

    NYFA: Can you tell us about Max Reload and the Nether Blasters? What drew you to this project?

    JK:  Max Reload and the Nether Blasters:

    A small town video game store clerk must go from zero to hero after accidentally unleashing the forces of evil from a cursed Colecovision game… Max Jenkins’ gaming fantasies collide with reality when a legendary “lost” installment of the Nether Game series appears on the store counter of his workplace, Fallout Games. Unbeknownst to Max, the game bears a “Curse of The Ages”, and in playing it, he has just unlocked the Nether, an ancient malevolent force of evil from the cartridge, upon his small hometown. Along with a mysterious masked man and his two best friends, Liz and Reggie, Max must figure out how to beat the Nether at its own game before its Game Over for humanity.

    This is a great project that I’m very excited about. The inception actually started two years before this film was written. Scott Conditt and Jeremy Tremp, the writers, directors, and producers, (CineForge Media) had written a short film called Show No Mercy, starring my father and me.

    The idea behind the short was all ‘80s galore and nostalgia: The story follows an arcade store owner (my father) who secretly is John Kreese, his character from The Karate Kid (although never mentioned, that’s a nice Easter egg for everyone), and his young store clerk (me), who both end up getting sucked into an arcade game. They have to fight each other to escape.

    It’s an extremely well done short and I highly recommend everyone go and watch it. The film premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada as well as the Phoenix Comic Fest in Arizona. Making that film was such a fun and creative experience, we all wanted to work together again as soon as possible. Thus, Max Reload came to fruition.

    I got a call from Scott asking if I’d read his new script. I instantly fell in love with it and knew it had huge potential. They had written a character (Steve) basically based on me, but I won’t say too much because you will have to go watch it!

    There are some stellar actors attached to this film, both new and veteran — Greg Grunberg, who is a riot; Hassie Harrison; Lin Shay from the Insidious films; Kevin Smith, who graciously tagged along as he loves indie films, this one caught his eye and we were very lucky to get him; Joseph Reitman; Tom Plumley; Joey Morgan; and of course my father.

    The film will be released around September.

    NYFA: Were you a big fan of video games growing up? Do you have a favorite?

    JK: Absolutely a huge fan of games! Some of my great memories were getting together with my childhood friends and playing games like Halo, 007, NFL Blitz — anything Nintedo 64 was our go-to!  

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspires you as a performer?

    JK: Acting is such an interesting art. It’s a wonderful journey that’s always changing. I love playing characters that inspire myself and others, I love to make the audience laugh, and I love to tell stories.

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Making movies changes you. You aren’t the same person at the beginning as you are at the end. You’ve learned so much and walked a road that your character has walked in some way, and that connects you forever. It’s living life with these characters: I’ve cried, loved, been through war, kicked ass, been killed and hated, admired, frightened, and have saved lives, plus so much more. It is the hardest but most beautiful, fulfilling work I can ask for and I can’t get enough of it!

    NYFA: What was your experience like serving as both a producer and an actor on As Night Comes?

    JK: As Night Comes was a great experience. I learned a lot from making this film and I owe a lot to my producing partner, Richard Z., who directed and wrote the script for this film. Without him pushing this film up the mountain, it would not have been made. In saying that, I think it’s so important to surround yourself with others who are willing to climb that mountain with you, no matter the odds. I was willing to do that with him.

    We started that movie with literally $200-300 and Subway sandwiches, and finished off by getting a limited theatrical release with our distributor, Gravitas Ventures. We were put on 20 of the 25 major VOD platforms that we have today. That film showed me that anything is possible with enough effort, drive, and belief in what you are doing. Most importantly, you have to have a great script — and we did. That brought a great team behind us.

    Lastly, I love being in front of the camera and behind the camera. Either way, you are still shaping a story. Wearing both hats can be challenging, but I urge everyone to try both. It actually makes you a better actor and or a better director to have been on both sides!

    NYFA: Any advice for our acting students who are looking to produce their own work?   

    JK: Persistence and believing. Believe in what you are doing!

    Through all my experiences, believing in the project, the story, and the character will always carry you through. Making movies is incredibly difficult, and one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. But it is also the most fun you will ever have, from the idea to a year or two later watching it on a screen after post and etc. It’s a journey, and a spiritual journey as well. You are forever connected to that project, and immortalizing something you’ve created … its forever!

    There’s a lot of naysayers in our business, whether it’s about money or what’s popular. Do not take no for an answer. Think outside the box, and get it done!

    When As Night Comes was being made, everyone told us we couldn’t do this or we couldn’t do that. It ended up fueling our passion for getting it made. Yes, you can do that, and yes, you can make your movie, and get it released, and have the world enjoy it!

    Jesse Kove in Max Reload and the Nether Blasters

    Also, this art is a craft. It must be practiced and changed and molded constantly. Keep at it! I still do, and I’m not perfect!

    Also be relentless and fearless. I have been on the phone with some of the biggest studios and top agents and or managers in Hollywood because I wasn’t afraid to pick up the phone and call them. You have nothing to lose.

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

    JK: I have several projects coming out this year, one of which is Max Reload and the Nether Blasters.

    Bring Me a Dream, which was shot in Atlanta, is a thriller directed by Chase Smith. I play a cop who stumbles upon a mansion in the woods and gets sucked into a supernatural wave of psychological mystery. It’s a fun take on the Sandman, played by Tyler Mane (X-Men, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I & II), as a supernatural spirit who injects himself into your dreams and brings out your biggest fears. Very fun!    

    In Bare Knuckle Brawler, directed by Joe Gawalis and filmed in New Jersey, I play a detective who goes undercover as a streetfighter to infiltrate an underground organization in which fighters are turning up dead.

    Next I co-star with my father in a TV pilot called Bloodlands, which follows Arizona detectives who may or may not be on both sides of the law, dealing with drug and human trafficking.

    Also, check out On Wings of Eagles, a World War II drama that I shot in China, starring Joseph Fiennes. It’s the unofficial sequel to Chariots of Fire and now you can watch on Amazon.

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  • Egyptian Star’s Music Video Directed by New York Film Academy Alum Moe Khalil

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    Whether you’re a Spongebob Squarepants fan or your tastes run more towards the vein of A-list celebrities, fast cars, and epic pop music, chances are Egyptian superstar Hamada Helal has a hit for you. Right now the internet is buzzing for Helal’s newest music video Helm El Seneen, which dropped today on Youtube, a glamorous production directed by New York Film Academy (NYFA) filmmaking alum Moe Khalil.

    Singer Hamada Helal is much loved in Egypt not only for his songs and performances in hit films like Hamati Bithibbeni and Mr and Mrs Oweis, but also for his reputation as a great guy: he’s rumored to be a good Samaritan who saved a girl from an assault in Cairo, and his hit “Spongebob” endeared him to a generation of children and Spongebob Squarepants of all ages.

    Helm El Seneen is no doubt his next great achievement in Egyptian popular culture. Fans can also see the full music video on Valentine’s Day, when it will be broadcast on TV in Egypt and the Middle East. In the meantime, check out these behind-the-scenes pics from the shoot.

    This is not the first music video venture for NYFA alum Moe Khalil, whose rise to prominence as a music video director began with Egyptian songstress Shahinaz’s music video for Asal Asal. The beautiful video was filmed in the historic and iconic King Mohamed Ali Palace along the banks of the Nile in Shubra, near Cairo.

    Congratulations, Khalil! Looking forward to our next behind-the-scenes sneak peek into movie video magic.

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  • Dare to Be Remarkable: New York Film Academy Alumna Adriana Ledesma on Film, Family and Future

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    Adriana Ledesma, via IMDB.

    Latina filmmaker and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Masters of Screen and Media graduate Adriana Ledesma is hard at work, applying her remarkable skill set as a writer, director, editor, cinematographer, producer, production manager — and more — to tell distinctive stories. In an industry focused on better promoting diversity and women in film while also creating opportunity for individuals with unique voices, this rising filmmaker is intent on creating engaging stories and touching audience’s hearts, and we are excited to watch her blaze a unique path.

    In the past few years NYFA alumnus Adriana Ledesma has premiered her work at numerous film festivals, including her films “Departure,” “Karma,” “A Choice,” and “Empathize.” In 2016, “Departure” won the Bronze Award for Short Film at the Fameus International Film Festival, and was also nominated for the Best Short Drama Jury Award at the Hollywood Screenings Film Festival and the Best Short Film Hollywood Cinefest award at the Hollywood Cinfast. Adriana’s passion, experience, and unending love of mankind lend a unique perspective to her films, helping to create an experience audiences won’t soon forget.

    Recently, the busy filmmaker took the time to catch up with the NYFA Blog and share some of her thoughts with our international community.

    NYFA: Some of your films have been honored with multiple awards. How did that feel? 

    Adriana Ledesma, via IMDB.

    AL: Of course it’s always a great satisfaction that someone external, in this case some real experts, value the work you do and that you put so much effort into accomplishing. I don’t do things to receive something in return, but I am very passionate and I believe you should put more than 100 percent on everything you do — or else, what’s the point in doing it at all? So it has been an honor for me.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your experience in the film industry since graduating from the New York Film Academy?

    AL: Well, it certainty hasn’t been an easy road. There have been many obstacles and many sacrifices involved, but when you set your mind towards what you truly want, there’s nothing that can stop you.

    What you need to do is take the risk, forget about all the complications you might find on the way, and step out of your comfort zone. Don’t limit yourself, and dare to be remarkable.  

    I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do what I love, to wake up and go to set every day. I feel blessed.

    Adriana Ledesma on set, via IMDB.

    NYFA: You are from Mexico originally and left home to pursue your dream, which is something that many members of our international NYFA community can relate to. Can you tell us a bit about that experience, and how your home and family have inspired your work?

    AL: I am a person who values family immensely and thank God I come from a family where love, affection and support are key. Even though I know they miss me as much as I miss them, the fact that they are always there for me, giving me advice and encouragement, pushes me to continue. …

    Adriana Ledesma, via IMDB.

    … I have countless memories of my childhood, climbing trees, riding bikes with my neighbors, playing soccer, going to the park with my siblings and my parents, etc., but there is one that stands out from when I was around nine years old. I was with some cousins and friends at my cousin’s house, and all of our parents no longer knew what to do to entertain us anymore, so they came up with the idea of all of us creating a whole episode of a TV program. We were very young at that time but I remember, knowing nothing, we pulled together a very decent project with nothing but one camera. Some of us took care of crew-type activities, some of them were acting in it, we had production design involved and even visual effects with some blood. That moment, at that age, felt magical for me.

    Adriana Ledesma on set, via IMDB.

    NYFA: Who are your influences? And how would you define your style as a filmmaker?

    AL: I am mostly inspired by Akira Kurosawa and Steven Spielberg. The way they portray their stories, the approach they have when it comes to every single element involved, the importance they give to movement, acting, and framing while doing a film, is also how I love doing mine.

    For me, making a film is like putting a duet dance piece together: it’s all choreography. First you do the research — you gather all the elements you might use, then you explore styles and steps and you make your creativity shine.

    Once you have planned all the moves, you have to spend time rehearsing so it goes as well as possible. But when you’re actually shooting, you have to deal with unpredictability and uncertainty, because even when you’ve been working on it for a long time, the music might take you to different places.

    Then it becomes about timing. Each of the puzzle pieces have a detailed purpose, a precise time where they are needed, a specific meaning — so at the end, if everything flows as it was supposed to, the unified project gives you goose bumps.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Adriana for taking the time to share a part of her story with our community. Keep an eye out for many of her exciting new projects in development, including “Growing Up,” “Once in a Life time,” “Los Elegidos,” and “Until the End,” among others.

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  • NYFA Gold Coast Holds Sept. 2016 & March 2017 Filmmaking End of Year Screenings

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    This October, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus held a joined graduation screening night for Sept. 2016 Filmmakers and March 2017 Filmmaking at Event Cinemas in Pacific Fair.

    Students and guests gathered in the foyer, where they were photographed at our NYFA media wall before being ushered into the cinema to watch the end of year films. All graduating students screened incredibly diverse and high quality films that showcased their exceptional skills in the art of storytelling.

    Directing and Editing lecturer Trevor Hawkins stated, “It’s been a privilege to be part of these students’ journey in becoming future filmmakers. Filmmaking is a skilled craft. Having a good story also helps, and NYFA certainly gives a firm grounding on both counts. The result has been some of the most impressive end of year productions. I wish them all well and I hope to work with them again sometime in the future.”

    Deputy Chair of Filmmaking Brian Vining said, “The screening was a huge success, with a big turnout of current student filmmakers, family, supporters, cast members and alumni. We are very proud of the skills, motivation and talent of our graduating filmmakers.”

    Congratulations to the graduating students: Brad Smith, Emilie Chetty, Lynne Cairncross, Adam Anonuevo, Callum Taylor, Isaac Moit and Philip Paton. We are very proud of their skills, motivation and talent, and can’t wait to see them succeed in their chosen fields.

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  • NYFA Filmmaking Grad Allan Ungar To Direct Upcoming Thriller “Decoy”

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    NYFA filmmaking alumnus Allan Ungar will direct feature thriller “Decoy,” blazing his path in the action film genre. “Decoy” follows the success of Ungar’s film “Gridlocked,” which has found distribution with digital giant Netflix.

    “Decoy” has already gained buzz in the Hollywood Reporter. Heavy hitters including actors Andy Garcia, Frank Grillo and Tyler Posey and producers Andrew Gunn, Michael Bien, Henry Less, Sissy Federer, Tom North, Tannaz Anisi and Greg Schenz are already attached to the action project.

    The NYFA Blog had a chance to catch up with Allan to hear more about “Decoy” and life in the director’s chair.

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

    AU: When I was in my early teens I was looking for a film school that was intensive through its education, but that would also allow me to have a hands-on experience. When I found out NYFA had a location in LA, I immediately knew that I had to go.

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

    AU: My favorite NYFA moment was walking onto the Universal backlot for the first time and getting to direct a short film on the standing set from the original “Jurassic Park.”

    NYFA: What was the inspiration behind your upcoming feature “Decoy,” and how did this project come about?

    AU: “Decoy” was a script that my manager sent me two years ago, and I remember not being able to read it the night I received it due to a dinner meeting. The person I was seeing happened to be running late, so I began reading the script on my phone. Next thing I knew, I finished the script and hadn’t realized I was there for over an hour! The person never showed up either!

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience shopping “Decoy” to backers at TIFF? What was that process like, and did anything surprise you while there?

    AU: The reception at TIFF was extremely positive and welcoming, although I left most of the business to my producers.

    NYFA: When pulling together a major feature like “Decoy,” do you have any personal rituals or advice you follow to help you with the process that you can share with our students?

    AU: I try to read the script and work with the actors as much as possible beforehand. By breaking down the story and characters in depth, I find that it better prepares me for any changes or curveballs that are headed my way.

    I also like to watch films with similar tones and visual styles as a way to get into the world of the film. Pre-production is where the film lives or dies, so it’s always crucial to utilize whatever time you have to communicate your vision to the department heads and actors.

    NYFA: ou met your “Gridlocked” collaborator Rob Robol while still studying at NYFA. Has the NYFA community played any part in “Decoy”? If so, how? 

    AU: NYFA has played a large role in where I am now, and while there are no direct relationships being used on this film, I would say that the school enabled me to grow as a filmmaker and learn how to foster relationships as a whole.

    NYFA: What has been your greatest lesson in helming major feature film projects?

    AU: My biggest takeway would be that it doesn’t matter how many times you do it, you will always encounter the unexpected and continue to learn more about yourself and the process each time. I try to remember that it’s also okay to be nervous, so as long as you are as prepared as possible and know the material inside and out.

    NYFA: If you could next do a movie in a completely different genre besides action films, what would it be and why?

    AU: I’d love to tackle a drama; something that’s more intimate and all about the actors. I feel like because it would be something outside my wheelhouse it would be a good challenge.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?

    AU: I’m looking at a couple projects for later but nothing I can speak about yet.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Allan Ungar for sharing some of his story with our community.

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  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Producer David Gale to Q&A Series

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    This October, David Gale came to the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy. Director of Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening alongside Veteran Coordinator Steven Padilla.

    Gale began his illustrious career in entertainment as a lawyer, but wanted to make movies. Without any experience, he had to settle for working at ICM as an Entertainment Lawyer.

    For 10 years he held this position until his firm began working with Ridley Scott’s production company. The two liked working together, and Scott offered Gale a job. It was not glamorous work, but Gale kept his nose to the grindstone and, just when he thought it wouldn’t work out, a friend phoned to tell him that Gale Anne Hurd, the producer of “The Terminator” and more recently “The Walking Dead,” was looking for someone to run her company.

    “I did that job for the next four years,” Mr. Gale said. “That’s where I really learned to produce movies. Gale is a tough one, but she’s fair and a wonderful person. If you did the work she really respected you.”

    Yet Gale still wasn’t doing the kind of work he truly wanted to be doing. Then, in 1995, MTV called. They were looking for someone to run their new feature film division. The first film on the docket was “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.”

    Gale remembered, “I loved it so I stayed there, running MTV Films, for 11 years.” His work included such cult classic hits as “Election,” “Varsity Blues” (with Tova Laiter), “Jackass: The Movie,” and “Pootie Tang.”

    Laiter wanted to know, what was the philosophy behind MTV Films’ and Gale’s success?

    Gale’s response: “When you have a great brand and you’re trying to make movies, or anything really, you can depend on that brand to help you understand and define what it is you want to make.”

    Gale did this by keeping the budget low and by hiring great independent voices. “Murderball,” Tupac documentaries, and indie voices helped define a youth-centered brand for the early 2000’s. When he had the idea to buy a manuscript called “Twilight and the studio passed, “Everyone thought I was crazy,” Gale said. He then decided it was time to move on.

    His boss gave him a new division as head of digital at MTV. In 2006, this move put Gale at the forefront of the next wave of media entertainment. Facebook and YouTube were brand new players on the scene. The rules for digital marketing, development, and content had not yet been created.

    While MTV ultimately elected not to go full blast into the digital world, they gave Gale the freedom to experiment and learn.

    After 18 years at MTV, Gale was looking for something new, only this time he wasn’t sure what the next step would be. So he quit. A few days later, someone sent him a video that led to the creation of We Are The Mighty, a digital media company focused on engaging the United States military community.

    “Somebody sent me a music video of a band I’d never heard of,” Gale recalled. “What was cool about it was it was all veterans in the band, and they had 150 million views on YouTube.”

    A couple of days later Gale received a documentary about five severely disabled veterans who were doing standup, called “Comedy Warriors.” He had a thought: “The military is a big giant audience and no one is serving it.”

    His second thought was, “Whatever I’m doing next I want to be positive in some way. Could I combine my skill set of 30 years and put that to work with a company that could make a difference?”

    Over the next year, Gale invested all of his time and energy into learning about the military and the lives of those who serve. What he learned is that one-third of Americans are directly or indirectly related to the military. Gale found that there were some entertainment companies with a military focus, “But without military personnel behind the camera it’s not going to be authentic. The entertainment industry says we have a lot of jobs for veterans — you can work in the mailroom or as an electrician. But we’re missing the creativity.”

    “There’s a lot of leadership skills not being put to use,” Gale commented. “The level of maturity, the ability to make decisions and adjust is so much higher than a 30-year-old who has been getting copy and delivering scripts for the past 10 years.”

    So Gale co-founded and is now CEO of We Are The Mighty. This organization hires veterans to create content and then helps pitch and launch the content on different platforms. There’s an internship program that turns young creators into professional filmmakers. He’s also partnered with Medal of Honor recipient and Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs to shoot a documentary about the first 10 weeks of basic training.

    NYFA student and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Drew Demboske asked, “What was the biggest obstacle you faced when starting your company, besides funding?” Gale suggested: just creating something. Once you’ve begun, you tweak, observe changes in viewer consumption, and keep up with those changes that happen every day.  

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. David Gale for taking the time to speak with our students. Check out We Are The Mighty online by clicking here.

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  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Works With Prayanka Chopra, Paakhi Tyrewala on TIFF’s “Pahuna: The Little Visitors”

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    Produced by global superstar Prayanka Chopras and her mother Dr. Madhu Chopra through their production company Purple Pebble Pictures, “Pahuna: the Little Visitors” has garnered a lot of attention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in its Special Event category screening, even winning a mention in Vogue India. NYFA filmmaking alumna Pragya Rathor partnered with the film’s first-time director, Paakhi Tyrewala of Bonfire Tales production company, to work on the shoot.

    Described as a “contemporary Indian version of Hansel and Gretel,” the film grants viewers a rare glimpse of Northeast India as it weaves a fable-like story of three children who are forced to flee their Nepalese village and become separated from their parents in the forest, adapting to survive together. Through this rarely seen portrayal of a typically voiceless region of India, the film brings larger issues such as children’s rights, racism and refugee crises to the global stage.

    The film’s director, Paakhi Tyrewala, told LiveMint, “When I started looking for producers for this film — I must have gone to nine or 10 producers before I came to Priyanka — they all rejected me. Four reasons: first, I was a first-time director. Second, I was a woman director. Third, I wanted to make the film in Sikkim [Province]… and fourth, it was a children’s film. When I came to Dr Madhu Chopra, I was so tired of being told no. So I told her upfront, I have these four problems. She started laughing, and she said, ‘For those reasons, I’ll do your film.’”

    NYFA Filmmaking Alumna Pragya Rathor

    From the red carpet at TIFF, The Indian Express quoted Priyanka Chopra as echoing the theme of overcoming obstacles and raising up unheard voices that has helped to make “Pahuna” a success: “It’s not easy – when you come into entertainment being a woman. You’ve got to pull your socks up for a fight.’”

    Filmed in the remote Indian province of Sakkim using unknown local talent and the local language, the film is a remarkable step in Prayanka Chopras’ venture to bring rarely seen stories and marginalized voices from India to the forefront of cinema. So far, her Purple Pebble Pictures has produced regional films in dialects including Bhojpuri, Marathi and Punjabi, with films planned in Bengali and Konkani.

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  • NYFA Gold Coast Celebrates Jan ’17 Filmmakers End of Year Screenings

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    Last week as August gave way to September, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus celebrated the January 2017 Diploma of Filmmaking Final Screenings. The two-day event held an opening reception for students, friends and family, and concluded with students’ digital dialogue screening at the Event Cinemas in Pacific Fair.

    The final screenings serve as an opportunity for students, friends, family, and faculty to share the experience of watching the films created throughout the duration of the course, celebrate the students’ achievement, and come together to prepare for the transition into the industry.

    NYFA Gold Coast Campus Manager DJ Stonier commented, “I was amazed by the outstanding quality of the films and the range of genres presented. These films are definitely festival circuit ready and I look forward to hearing about the journey these students will have as NYFA-AU graduates.”

    Congratulations to all of our filmmaking graduates.

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  • NYFA Gold Coast Holds Mid-Year Screening for May ’17 Filmmakers

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    This August, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast held the May 2017 Filmmaking mid-year screening showcase for it’s May 2017 intake Filmmaking students at the new, purpose-built Southport campus theatre.

    Filmmaking Lecturer Trevor Hawkins, stated, “It’s all about storytelling and turning good ideas into good films. And that’s what our May intake of student filmmakers are showcasing with their mid-year screening of their non-sync films.”

    As a part of the New York Film Academy Australia’s commitment to hands-on education, the mid-year showcase provides students with the opportunity to screen their work from class for an invited audience of peers, friends, and family.

    Mr. Hawkins continued, “With an impressive variety of story ideas, our new and emerging filmmakers have explored numerous genres including comedy, drama, action, science fiction, gangster and social comment.

    “Each film has left a lasting impression which is a sign of good filmmaking and we congratulate all students on a job well done!  And, as we all know, filmmaking is like learning a musical instrument, it’s all about practice, practice, practice. So we all look forward to their next films.”

    Congratulations to our Filmmaking students for their successful mid-year screenings.

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

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    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.

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    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.

    [quicktime]https://www.nyfa.edu/film-school-blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Band-Practice-NYC.m4v[/quicktime]

    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.”

     

     

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