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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts Fulbright Association LA Chapter’s Annual Fulbright Film Festival

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    On May 4, 2019, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted the Fulbright Association LA Film Festival. Created by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Fulbright Association, the unique and exciting event showcased the best recent films that were directed, produced, acted, shot, or scored by current Fulbright grantees and Fulbright alumni of the prestigious Fulbright Program—the US government’s flagship international exchange program. The Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State supported the activity.

    The 2019 Film Showcase included evocative documentary films and breathtaking narrative films from extremely talented filmmakers hailing from United States, Estonia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Peru, Ukraine, Spain, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Armenia, Costa Rica, and Denmark.

    Fulbright Film Festival 2019
    The daylong event was held at
    NYFA’s Los Angeles campus and included film screenings as well as a panel of industry experts–Hollywood for Fulbrighters–featuring accomplished Fulbright Alums in very relevant positions in the industry.

    The President of the Fulbright Association-LA Chapter, Dr. Jose Siles, and NYFA’s Dean of Students, Dr. Susan Ashe, opened the event. In her remarks welcoming the audience, Dr. Ashe thanked the many volunteers that worked for months to put the event together, including the Festival’s panel of judges.

    Dr. Ashe gave special recognition to NYFA’s own Professor Miguel Cruz, a film and television director, Fulbright alum ’05, NYFA Director of Fulbright Initiatives, and the Vice President of the Fulbright Association-LA chapter, for his invaluable contribution to the Festival.

    “It was exciting to see so many talented storytellers,” says Dr. Ashe. “To know that NYFA is affiliated with Fulbright, and gives a platform for bright students to share their voice and vision, is truly inspiring.”

    Fulbright Film Festival 2019
    The “Hollywood for Fulbrighters” industry panel, moderated by Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Film Festivals Advisor and faculty in the College’s Screenwriting department, offered the audience insightful information about how the inherent diversity that is associated with the Fulbright Program can be an advantage in the current Hollywood landscape. The ensuing discussion included accomplished Fulbright alums and key players in the industry: Santiago Pozo, considered one of the foremost authorities in the advertising world for marketing entertainment and film to U.S. Latino audiences; Arturo Diaz, Netflix Manager for International Originals; Mikko Alannen, showrunner for the National Geographic Channel and screenwriter of feature film
    The 33, starring Antonio Banderas; and Miguel Cruz, film and TV director and NYFA’s Professor and Director of Fulbright Initiatives.

    The lively event ended with a reception that allowed participants—including current Fulbright scholars and students, Fulbright alumni, and NYFA students—to network with representatives of foreign consulates (including Manuel Valle, Spanish Trade Commissioner) and representatives of the Fulbright community (including Ann Kerr, California’s Fulbright Enrichment Program Coordinator), as well as share their own experiences in the Fulbright program and the film industry.

    “It was extremely inspiring and touching to see how the vision of Senator Fulbright of promoting mutual understanding among people from different countries, cultures, and social backgrounds was so well-reflected and empowered by the work of our Fulbright filmmakers,” says Dr. Jose Siles, President of the Fulbright Association-LA Chapter.

    Fulbright Film Festival 2019
    Dr. Siles adds, “Organized by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Fulbright Association, hosted by the New York Film Academy, and sponsored by the The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Association LA Film Festival was a total success and set the basis for a yearly event that will continue sending out loud to the world the Fulbright message through the big screen.”  

    The U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. New York Film Academy is proud to have hosted more than 60 Fulbright students from over 35 countries to date.

    The Los Angeles Chapter of the Fulbright Association and NYFA congratulate the following talented filmmakers that were selected for the 2019 Fulbright Film Festival & Showcase:

    Selected Documentary Films Category
    Lucía Florez (Peru)
    Adrineh Gregorian (Armenia)
    Pedro Peira (Spain)
    Kelly Richardson (USA)

    Selected Narrative Films Category
    Laura Ávila (Costa Rica)
    Abdallah ElDaly (Egypt)
    Lasse Elkjær (Denmark)
    Ishani Jayamaha (Sri Lanka)
    Vlad Klimchunk (Ukraine)
    Madi Lääne (Estonia)
    Nataliya O’Lea (Ukraine)
    Alejandro Márquez Vela (Mexico)
    Catherine Taylor (United Kingdom)

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    May 20, 2019 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 306

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Showcases ‘New Faces of Hollywood’

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    On April 18, the New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Acting for Film department proudly presented their annual Alumni Industry Showcase – New Faces of Hollywood.

    The event was held at the Burbank-based NYFA Theater. This year’s showcase, directed by Anne Moore, Associate Chair of Acting, was it’s most successful to date. The performances showcased NYFA acting school alumni in live scenes and short films written by them and directed by full time faculty, Michael McCartney.

    “We had an incredibly talented group of alumni this year,” says Lynda Goodfriend, NYFA-LA Chair of Acting for Film.

    Alumni Showcase New Faces of Hollywood 2019

    “I couldn’t be more proud, and can’t wait to see where their careers take them,” adds New Faces of Hollywood director Anne Moore. “We already had alumni meet with top casting directors and had four alumni sign with representation.” 

    Some of the industry in attendance this year were casting directors from ABC, CBS, WB, Rapaport/Baldasare, Dea Vise, and Lisa London; talent agencies from Don Buchwald, Mavrick, Aperture, Black Apple Talent, and Daniel Hoff; and managers from Prestige, Evergreen, Marv Dauer, and The Beddingfield Company.

    Here’s what some of the alumni had to say about their experiences in New Faces of Hollywood:

    “The showcase was an absolute blessing and such an amazing experience! From the rehearsal process to the making of the film, I felt like I was put in the best position to grow as an actor and succeed on the night of the show. Having a room full of agents and managers is a priceless opportunity. To showcase my talents in front of industry personnel and establish those networking relationships was absolutely incredible. I encourage all alumni to participate in the future.”
    —Josh Brooks, BFA

    “The alumni showcase is such a rare and extraordinary opportunity. I highly recommend all alumni students audition for this group, because it truly does open doors and get your face out there. To be able to perform in front of all those industry individuals is such a blessing.”
    —Ky Snider, BFA

    “This was an eye-opening experience for me. The amount of time and work that go into creating a single moment that can be seen by all is incredible. It can take months or years to build up to a performance like this one, but people only end up seeing the final product.”
    —Maeve Thompson Osgood, BFA

    “An unforgettable experience that further pushed to break down my internal walls as an actor, while simultaneously granting amazing opportunities for my work to be seen.”
    —Ryan Harrington, BFA

    “The alumni showcase was a great chance to work with some of NYFA’s best. I was so lucky to work with Ky Snider as my scene partner. I always admired her work in the student-directed plays at NYFA, but never had a chance to work with her until the alumni showcase. This year we also had loads of fun writing and starring in our own little films, which are not only original but also great footage for our reels! The showcase generated some leads with agents, managers, and industry for me, making it a good springboard for my post-college career.”
    —Miskar Chomse, MFA

    “An unforgettable opportunity filled with growth, wisdom, and laughter that ignites a path towards success.”
    —Elisa Nanty, BFA

    This showcase represented the very best from the New York Film Academy AFA, BFA, and MFA programs who graduated from January 2018 through January 2019. You can check out their headshots, resumes and demo reels, please click here.

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    May 18, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 632

  • Sun Valley High School and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Give Students the Opportunity to Shoot Films on the Universal Studios Backlot

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    On March 21, Students from Sun Valley High School were able to attend a filmmaking workshop at the New York Film Academy-Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) that allowed them to produce short films at the highest level over the course of a single day.

    Sun Valley Backlot

    NYFA’s hands-on approach gave the students a chance to learn college- and professional-industry level practices on the Universal Studios Backlot, where students of NYFA’s conservatories, workshops, and degree programs also have the opportunity to shoot their films. Over the course of the day, the Sun Valley students were able to shoot, direct, and edit their very own short films.

    The students were broken up into teams and worked closely with NYFA instructor Steve Morris to make their films. The students had a great time and were able to enjoy a professional atmosphere created by the NYFA team that will prepare them should they ever enter the industry. The goal of the workshop especially is to inspire them to be creative and believe in themselves as creatives. 

    New York Film Academy has been partnering with Sun Valley High School for several years. The four-year educational institution is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District and has a goal to “shape young minds to be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges not only in film, but in life and give [their] students the ability to cognitively understand society and allow them the freedom to make choices for their own success.”

    Sun Valley Backlot

    Some of the Sun Valley students spoke about their films and their experience making them:

    Daniel: “One thing I like working on the backlot of Universal Studios is just seeing everything how it was back then and what it looks like now … Right now we’re working on a comedy film, where a guy is meeting up with his crush and he just has bad luck—he’s trying to get to her but he keeps having bad luck that stops him … They meet up and in the middle of the film she hits her face on a pole and that’s his bad luck happening to her. My favorite thing about working here is being able to have the experience and work with teens like me and just learn the everyday things and I just love it”.

    John: “We’re working on a film about a kid—so basically he’s supposed to tie his shoe but he can never tie his shoe because there’s always something distracting him … He ends up seeing the guy who robs him for his shoe and gets his shoes back and that’s basically it. I’m not gonna lie—our shot was a little rough in the beginning because we had some complications, but we worked it out and discussed it and we’re just rolling with it. It’s going pretty good now and we’re almost close to finishing it. What I like most about being on the backlot is the new experience—it’s my first time being here. I’ve never seen a backlot like this before. I always wanted to work in the film industry; personally, I want to be a screenwriter, but I wouldn’t mind acting because it’s pretty cool out here.” 

    Fernanda: “I’m the director of the short film that we’re filming here on the Universal backlot and our film is basically about a girl that falls in love with this guy and they end up getting pregnant, but the guy doesn’t want the baby so he beats her and becomes really abusive and she has a miscarriage. My favorite thing about the universal backlot is we get to location scout … We don’t have time to procrastinate so everything’s really fast and fun. My favorite scene was the beating scenes because it was so intense and getting the shots and angles for that scene especially was so cool. I feel really confident with my accomplishments.”

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    April 1, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Outreach • Views: 672

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Grads Attend Industry Pitch Fest Event

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    It was a time of celebration once again as graduating MFA New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting students recently attended their culminating Industry Pitch Fest Event, held in the penthouse ballroom of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, surrounded by astounding views of Los Angeles.  

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone evening celebrates the New York Film Academy’s graduating Screenwriting students, offering them a unique opportunity to jumpstart their professional development by pitching their Film and TV thesis projects to entertainment industry professionals. In addition, a very talented alum of the Screenwriting Department also joined in the event.

    2019 Pitch Fest

    Organized and hosted by Jenni Powell, Ashley Bank, and Adam Finer, the event featured representatives from Hollywood companies, including Monkeypaw, MGM, Practical Magic, Paramount, Automatik, Grandview, and Gulfstream Pictures.

    The exceptional writing students spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting classes working with Business of Screenwriting Instructor Ashley Bank in conjunction with NYFA Screenwriting Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and other members of the Screenwriting department, preparing and fine tuning their pitches.  

    The students’ dedication and passionate love for their work shone as they pitched their thesis projects, which they had developed for nearly a year. Students left with new contacts, excitement about the scripts they’d worked so hard on, and a sense of what it’s like to meet with industry professionals.  

    Their hard work paid off as the talented and creative students pitched agents, managers, studios, and digital, VR, TV and film production executives in a relaxed, roundtable environment.

    “My experience at Pitch Fest was excellent to say the least,” shares David Barbeschi, one of the graduating MFA students at the event. “Nothing like pitching to people who listen to these things as a job to better yourself and see where you stand in the immense LA Film Industry.”

    The New York Film Academy wishes to thank all of the Industry Pitch Fest participants, particularly our industry guests without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our MFA graduates and wish them the best of success as they move forward in their professional journeys!

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    March 12, 2019 • Screenwriting • Views: 889

  • New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Acting for Film Host Winter Season of Student Directed Plays

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailStarting in February, the New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Acting for Film department kicked off their series of workshop productions featuring plays directed by the students themselves.

    The season kicked off with the first two plays—Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Michael Gum (BFA Acting for Film) and Doll’s House Part 2 by Maame-Ekua Mensah (BFA Acting for Film.) Both plays were mentored by full-time NYFA instructor, Cathy Giannone.

    “The Student Directed Plays are an experience that changes all that are involved,” states Giannone. “They are a valuable and important lesson in creativity and process. Everyone walks away having more confidence and a better understanding of the work.”

    “I have learned quite a bit through directing Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” says student director Michael Gum. “As far as creatively, figuring out how to describe a vision in multiple ways so that everyone I am working with is on the same page.  Because the play is fantastical, bizarre, absurd, and at the same time talking about real issues, finding the balance of worlds and keeping everyone in the same world is one of the elements that I think is most important.”

    Gum adds, “I also think that there are two important themes in the play. One: that while technology can be used to form connections, an obsession with it can alienate. And two: The difference between loving the idea of someone and actually loving someone. To me, both these themes are very relevant to today, particularly for students and those working to get in the film industry.”

    Student director Maame-Ekua Mensah had this to say about her experience directing Doll’s House Part 2: “I wanted to do this play to encourage the  audience to take a stand on their own opinions in the future, while still being able to see the logic in others’. The play discusses old perspectives on feminism, love, marriage, and commitment. We currently live in a society where it’s easier to agree with everyone because we are unable to keep the peace when someone has am alternative opinion. I believe people should be coming together, whether or not we have altering opinions, to advocate for the greater good for society. I believe that you can learn a lot from listening to your ‘opponents’ in life. Working on this play has also given me much insight on how to work with a cast and crew.”

    The third Student Directed Play by the NYFA-LA Acting School was a production of In the Blood, by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Hattie Sallie (BFA Acting for Film) and Cathy Giannone.

    In the Blood tells the story of a homeless woman with five children by five different fathers in a society pitted against them. Speaking about her experience directing the play, student director Sallie says:

    “I wanted to do this play because at the end of it, I cried and in the midst of the crying I asked myself ‘why?’ I wanted to explore my place in society and how I treat people who can do absolutely nothing for me. Then I decided that this would be an amazing, timeless play that I could put up because I wanted to try my hand at directing and I wanted the audience to take a look at themselves as well, have the kind of journey I had while reading In the Blood. 

    “I learned so much from directing this play. I learned the importance of listening, hearing the writer’s intention, colors!!!. I think I have learned how to become a better actor because of it. I am so thankful for this opportunity because now I know the feeling of being on the other side of the casting process and how much I wanted the actors to come in and be ‘the one.’ I know how I loved when the actors came in prepared, when they worked with me, trusted me and not tried to be against me. I learned how much reading and replying to emails and text messages and notices are because I wanted my actors to let me know that they received all the information given. 

    “I learned the importance of rehearsal—how you rehearse is the way you will perform—and how to communicate with actors, how to bring in the energy and uplift them when they needed encouragement. I could go on and on but I will leave it at: This was one of the best experiences of my life!”

    In the Blood star MFA alum Demyra Ravyne Payne has this to say about her fifth production she’s acted in: “NYFA gives not only its students but its alumni the opportunity to do work we couldn’t do anywhere else. “I am very thankful for all the support NYFA has provided me.”

    Thurs. Feb. 28 7:30pm The fourth Student Directed Play of the winter season was an original work from NYFA Acting for Film alum Sam LaFrance: Lost Boy, who also directed it, mentored by full time instructor David Robinette. 

    The play tells the story of a man responsible for kidnapping a handful of children twenty-two years prior being released from prison.

    “I saw a few Student Directed Plays and figured this would be a good opportunity to workshop one of my own projects,” says writer/director LaFrance. “It’s a great opportunity for anyone who loves theatre. You are completely immersed in it and that’s an amazing feeling.”

    NYFA-LA Student Directed Plays Winter Season 2019
    The final Student Directed play of the winter season was Tartuffe and was performed earlier this March. Tartuffe was written by Molière, translated by Richard Wilbut, and directed by Valerie Torres (MFA Acting for Film), mentored by full time NYFA instructor, Mary Sala.

    New York Film Academy congratulates the student directors of the NYFA Acting for Film Winter Season of Student Directed Plays on jobs well done! Bravo!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    March 10, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 149

  • Congratulations to the Winter Class of 2019 of New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA)!

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailNew York Film Academy (NYFA) would like to congratulate another class of graduating students—the Winter Class of 2019!

    The end of a program is always bittersweet—our students and instructors develop a strong bond over the many intense hours spent learning, practicing, and crafting projects. But before the winter class of 2019 walked across the stage to accept their diplomas, NYFA celebrated all of the graduates’ work with a series of final presentations.

    NYFA Logo

    In the days leading up to graduation, all students were given an opportunity to show off their work to family, friends, and entertainment professionals; Filmmaking, Animation, Producing, and Acting for Film students held their final screenings at the NYFA Theater and on the Warner Brothers Studios backlot; Photography students had their work displayed in galleries throughout Los Angeles; Game Design students held a showcase where anyone in the school could play their games, and Screenwriting and Producing students had the chance to pitch their projects to industry professionals.

    The winter 2019 graduation ceremony was held at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Hollywood; the graduating class of 2019 was so large that the ceremony had to be broken into three parts. Families and friends came from all over the world to support and celebrate the graduates on their big day.

    Guest speaker Bryce Neilsen advised graduating students to be patient with their journeys in the entertainment industry as it took him and many of his colleagues a few years to get where they wanted to be. “You’re gonna go through highs and lows … especially when you’re trying to crack that first job,” he said. “As you go along this journey, always remember the people around you, because those relationships will help with growth in the industry but also on a personal level.” 

    Neilsen finished on a hopeful note: “This is a great time to be really telling your story, because there are so many spaces online and elsewhere to turn ideas into a reality.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all of the incredible students who have completed their training here; we look forward to watching your films, seeing your photographs, playing your games, and celebrating your creative endeavors for years to come. Congratulations!

    Winter 2019 Graduates

    Justin Agardy
    Jasmine Akbari
    Bita Alahyan
    Anastasia Aleskovskaya
    Omar Alturk
    Daniel Annerl
    Anastasiia Atroshchenko
    Jorge Alberto Aviña
    Victoria Awo
    Dana Bailey
    Gulshat Baimuratova
    Darien Baker
    David Barbeschi
    Marcus Battle
    Eduardo Bautista Falcon
    Jean Manuel Beauchamp
    Jason Bellitto
    Darya Belokhon
    Jorge Berberena
    Tia Blackwill
    Kamilla Brenneysen
    Brianna Patrice Brents
    David Lamar Bridges
    Joshua Brooks
    Timothy Burk
    Junior Cadet
    Jingshi Cai
    Hui Cao
    Anthony Cheuk On Chan
    Wei-Yang Chen
    Hao Cui
    Zhankhara Daurova
    Brandon Davis
    Noemi De Cassai
    Ines Carolyne de los Santos Almanzar
    Medford Brook Deforest
    Paul Deorio
    Jack Dill
    Karyna Dobrykava
    Christina Douglas
    Peipei Duan
    Jacob Dudley
    Justin Paul Durivou
    Anthony Joseph Esposito
    Dillan Elias Farmer
    Alexander Formenius
    Tiffany Fresco
    Jinjing Fu
    Natalia Fuentealba
    Michael Furlough
    Alexia Garcia del Rio
    Jonathan Aaron Garza
    Drew Gibbs
    Kim Goncalves Cobelo
    Mia Gonzalez
    Christopher Royce Goodloe Jr.
    David Greenley
    Nicolas Gutierrez
    Chase Hahn
    Ryan Harrington
    Erik Christopher Hjortnaes
    Tarik Holmes
    Helena Horta
    Logan Howard
    Yao Hu
    Jihao Huang
    Pengfei Huang
    Bo-Yu Huang
    Daiana Ibrayeva
    Alecksandar Jackowicz
    Jerry James
    Hannah Jauregui
    Yuqing Jin
    Íris Heiða Jónsdóttir
    Folake Kehinde
    Shreya Khandelwal
    Khairulla-Sultan Khissamiyev
    Samuel Alan Kiper
    Joseph Koroma
    Brandon Lattman
    Jeffrey Lay
    Alyssa Leatherman
    Yue Kei Lee
    Brian Leung
    Yuan Li
    Guanzhen Li
    Xin Li
    Xiangran Lin
    Ruiyang Liu
    Yutao Liu
    Ying-Jung Liu
    Qingya Liu
    Siyun Liu
    Yilong Liu
    Ye Lu
    Shihan Lu
    Ruoqian Lyu
    Karan Maini
    Shahsaan Malik
    Juan Manrique Ugarte
    Madison-Ainsley Miller
    Harrison William Misfeldt
    Dave Money
    Luciana Moreno Contreras
    Jana Elizabeth Mosquera Andrade
    Elisa Tazia Nanty
    Nuha Nazrah
    Gabriela Ono
    Scott Owen
    Mohit Panday
    Roman Peremyshlin
    Santiago Ponce de Leon
    John Mauricio Porras
    Zhizhenzi Qiu
    Anthony Robert Riordan
    Nigel Dyllian Robinson
    Trevier Rolle
    Missira Ross
    Siyue Rui
    Ruksima
    Sadi Sadi Eliyesil
    Syed Osama Sami
    Antonia Saval
    Dhruvin Shah
    Yefrat Sharipov
    Poorva Shiva Kumar
    Ahsan Siddiqui
    Aman Kumar Singh
    Gwendolyn Snapp
    Kylee Nichole Snider
    Soujanya Srinivasan
    Edolia Stroud
    Randolph Glenn Summiel
    Isabel Symington Caxide
    Juan David Tarud
    Travis Nevin Tendler
    David Terrazas
    Priyank Thakkar
    Janna Thompson
    Maeve Thompson Osgood
    Tihomir Todorov
    Marisol Torre
    Nghi “Tina” Tran Nguyen Hoang
    Jennifer Trevino Belmonte
    Elan Vega
    Julia A. Velasquez
    Rui Wang
    Lushan Wang
    Yuan Wang
    Yiting Wang
    Zhen Wei
    Connor Williams
    Eddie Lee Wollrabe
    Vivian Wu
    Liang Xiyuan
    Handi Xu
    Jin Yan
    Pauline Yang
    Wencheng Yang
    Ruiguang Yang
    Shuang Yang
    Mingzhu Ye
    Ruliang Yuan
    Egor Zdorovyak
    Zeyu Zhang
    Yuchen Zhang
    Zheyuan Zhao
    Yingzheng Zhong
    Shiyao Zhou
    Junbai ZhouFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    February 28, 2019 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 200

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Holds Q&A with “Affairs of State” Director and Cast

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn Monday, December 3rd, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of Affairs of State followed by a Q&A with director and NYFA instructor, Eric Bross, producer, Stephen Israel, and actors, David Corenswet and Nate Walker, moderated by NYFA Producing Chair, Roberta Colangelo. Affairs of State explores the extent to which one man is willing to take risks to progress his career in Washington D.C.

    Director and NYFA instructor, Eric Bross, is known for directing A Country Christmas Story (2013), Traffic (2004) and Stranger Than Fiction (2000). Producer, Stephen Israel, is a former VP of New Business Development at TBS, worked in strategic planning at Warner Brothers and spent four years as a management consultant with Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He is known for producing Blood, Sand and Gold (2017), G.B.F. (2013) and I Do (2012). Actor, David Corenswet, is a Julliard graduate known for his roles in House of Cards, The Tap and Elementary. Actor, Nate Walker, is known for his roles in Homeland, Bottom of the Barrel and The Maladjusted.

    Colangelo opened up the Q&A by inquiring about Bross’ inspiration for the film. Bross shared that he and Todd Cudworth, the film’s writer, were inspired by the ruthlessness of the “game” of politics; the original script, written in the early 2000s, was based on the tactics used by the Republican party to discredit President Bill Clinton– and the Democratic party as a whole– in the public eye in the late 90s. Bross said that Cudworth asked himself, “What if the Democrats got really ruthless, just matched the tactics of the Republicans who seemed to be pretty much willing to do whatever it [took]?” However, as America moved closer to the Trump presidency, the script evolved.

    Ultimately, Bross and Cudworth wanted to bring attention to the world of politics rather than make an argument about a specific political party as contemporary politics is so consumed by polarity. Producer Stephen Israel assisted with the blurring of the political binary in through the characterization of the protagonist’s boss, a political candidate named John Baines, “We took a lot of trouble to play…Baines’ politics down the middle,” said Israel, “We tried to make him a conservative who could appeal to liberals.”

    Colangelo noted that sex is used by the main character of the film, Michael Lawson, to gain power in the political sphere and asked how Bross navigated the sex scenes from a storytelling perspective. “I never like to shoot anything gratuitous,” said Bross, “Every scene in every movie should have a purpose…and this movie, ultimately to me, is about the exchange of power, sex for power.” Bross discussed how the sex scenes in which Michael is with Mrs. Baines, his boss’ wife, and the sex scenes in which Michael is with Darcy Baines, his boss’ daughter, were shot and edited differently to give different effects; Michael’s scenes with Mrs. Baines are focused on the exchange of sex for power whereas Michael’s scenes with Darcy are more romantic and idealized.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Eric Bross, Stephen Israel, David Corenswet and Nate Walker for sharing their perspectives on storytelling and working in the entertainment industry with our students.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 7, 2018 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 942

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Hosts Q&A with “The Goalkeeper” Director Rodrigo Patiño

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn Thursday, November 29th the New York Film Academy hosted a screening of The Goalkeeper followed by a Q&A with director, co-writer and former NYFA instructor, Rodrigo “Gory” Patiño, moderated by Marlene Dermer, co-founder and former director of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

    Patiño is a Bolivian actor, writer and director. He earned an MFA in Film and Television at Chapman University in California and later returned to Bolivia where he co-wrote and directed La Entrega, a 10-episode TV series about human trafficking. This series inspired the film, The Goalkeeper, which has now been chosen to represent Bolivia at the 2019 Academy Awards. Patiño’s most recent film is Pseudo, a political thriller about a taxi driver who steals the identity of a passenger who turns out to be a mercenary.

    Dermer opened up the Q&A by inquiring about the writing process for The Goalkeeper. Patiño shared that one of his co-writers, Camila Urioste, is a novelist who had done extensive research on human trafficking in Bolivia; she helped him create and write the series, La Entrega, which ultimately led to the production of The Goalkeeper. “Eight girls disappear every day…and that’s what’s reported.” said Patiño. Patiño added that he and his team interviewed a high-profile activist in Bolivia, a mother whose daughter went missing, and she shared a multitude of stories with them that helped to shape the film.

    Patiño and his team added a layer of complexity to the issue of human trafficking by forcing the main character of the The Goalkeeper, a father, to make extreme and tragic choices in the hope of paying for his sick son’s surgery; the father ultimately decides to sell a young girl into sex slavery in order to pay for his son’s surgery and he must deal with the consequences of his decision. “We [ask] the audience, ‘How far would you go to save your son or daughter?’” said Patiño, “We wanted to provoke a dialogue.”

    Dermer went on to ask the audience if they had any questions for Patiño; one audience member wanted to know how Patiño and his writing team navigated having the main character of the film, the father, make the disturbing decision to sell the girl to human traffickers as that could quickly turn the audience against his character. “We were conscious that this [was] an anti-hero story…but, believe it or not, we had some people that said, ‘Yeah, but he had to save his son!’…We wanted that dilemma.” said Patiño.

    Another audience member asked Patiño what his advice would be for aspiring filmmakers. “Write, write and write,” said Patiño, “because people are hungry for content.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Patiño for sharing his knowledge about the epidemic of human trafficking in Bolivia and his advice for young storytellers.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 5, 2018 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 929

  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Lujein Ashi

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailLujein Ashi is a filmmaker, graphic designer, and storyteller who works for Saudi Arabia’s leading oil company, Saudi Aramco. In August, Lujein completed the 4-week Filmmaking workshop at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus after winning a scholarship with a 1-minute video. 

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) met up with Lujein to find out what her experience was like with the program, and what her plans for the future include.Lujein Ashi

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): So, how did your interest in coming here start? 

    Lujein Ashi (LA): I’ve always loved filmmaking stories since I was a child. I told stories to my sisters before we’d go to sleep, stuff I’d make up. I remember there was one moment that really stood out to me in my life. I went to watch Lord of the Rings in the cinema. I was with my friends. When we left everybody was so happy, but I felt sad. I didn’t understand it then. I understand it now. I felt like I was on the wrong side of the screen, like I was the one who was supposed to be giving people that feeling, not people giving that feeling to me. So, stories have always been a part of my life. 

    When it came time to choose what I wanted to study in college, I had to choose something that was practical. In the Gulf, we don’t have many opportunities for film, but then the New York Film Academy came to Bahrain to do a promo. I went and I just sat there and listened to [Dean of Enrollment Services] Tami Alexander do the presentation. She was really sweet. 

    I told her one day I’m going to come — hopefully, if it’s meant for me — and I signed up to their newsletter. I think it was like a month or two later, I get an email saying there was an opportunity for two scholarships for Saudi students. They want to encourage Saudi filmmakers because they’re opening cinemas in Saudi. 

    I saw the email late. I had two days to come up with my 1-minute video. I’ve never done a film before, but I knew I could write. So I wrote a script really fast and I did a very little video. I must have done something right, because she contacted me and told me I was one of the two students that got the scholarship. I was really, really happy. I cried hysterically.

    So I came here. It’s been a crazy four weeks. It’s just so amazing, the collaboration that you have with people… people that were strangers to me on Day One are like really close friends. There’s nothing like it, really. It’s everything I thought it would be, and even more.

    NYFA: Why did you choose the city of Los Angeles?

    LA: I think there’s no place better to learn filmmaking than in Los Angeles because it’s the hub of worldwide, excellent movies. It’s where the Hollywood industry is. Universal, Warner Brothers… all of these places, they’re all here. So there’s no place better to learn filmmaking.Lujein Ashi

    NYFA: What did you learn about filmmaking?

    LA: It’s all about story, that’s for sure. If your story is weak, then it doesn’t matter what you’re going to do. It’s not going to be something that touches people. Also technically the camera is your eye. You need to be one with the camera. You have to look through it, and if you don’t like what you see then you’re not going to like your movie. 

    I mean, it’s not like people can imagine what you meant, you know? So you have to be aware of the technical stuff. Which [at first] was very hard for me, because I’ve never touched a camera before, but Charlie did a really good job teaching us.

    NYFA: Is this something you want to continue doing? What’s your plan after this?

    LA: I found my heart here. I really did. It’s an amazing thing to find. People live their whole lives trying to find that thing they love. I think that’s the key to a happy life. I really feel like I found it here. I’m really going to try and do my master’s in this. Hopefully, then I could just do this for as long as I can. 

    NYFA: Do you see opportunities opening up in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain? 

    LA: Yes, for sure! Especially with the opening of cinemas, the government has been opening different entertainment entities trying to open things up to the people. I think there’s definitely going to be a demand for that. It’s going to be an exciting time for Saudi.

    NYFA: As Saudi opens up, is there a place there for you? Do you see yourself working there?

    Lujein AshiLA: I don’t know. I mean, sure, if there’s a place for me in Saudi to make great movies. I would love to. I mean, it’s my country. But to me, my geographic location was never something that was important. I’m very multicultural. My father is from Saudi, my mom’s from Lebanon, I lived in Baghdad, and I’m married to a Palestinian. I come from very different places, so I never felt like I belonged somewhere. Sometimes it’s a disadvantage, but sometimes it’s an advantage. Wherever you are, you feel like you can just connect with people because you’re from everywhere, basically. 

    So yeah, I mean, I could be — for example— in LA or in New York or anywhere with like-minded people, trying to do the same thing, just doing what we love; ultimately making somebody feel something. That’s why we go to the movies, right? Because we want to feel something! I could make somebody feel like Lord Of The Rings made me feel or Game of Thrones or any of these shows that have changed me so profoundly. It just amazes me how somebody could get that feeling out of you. It’s so satisfying. 

    NYFA: You mentioned two high-fantasy titles — is that kind of your thing?

    LA: I love fantasy, yeah. I mean, I love getting out of the real boring world and leaping into somebody’s imagination. That’s something out of this world! 

    NYFA: Why do you think stories are important?Lujein Ashi

    LA: I think they make people feel empathy for one another and understand each other on a level that maybe we don’t. In real life, there are a lot of issues that, when a film sheds light on them, could actually bring people closer together. You know, I think arts and filmmaking have the capacity to change people’s lives, to change societies and to open people up.

    Truthfully, it’s fundamental for our growth. It’s fundamental for us to connect and to see the point-of-view of other people. If I saw it from your perspective, which is what film lets you do, maybe I’ll be able to connect with you and understand you.

    The New York Film Academy wishes Lujein Ashi the best of success with her future endeavors, and hopes to see more of her amazing and beautiful stories in the near future!

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    December 5, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 917

  • The Power of Music: Being Part of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Glee Club

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe New York Film Academy (NYFA) Glee Club is an extracurricular club that not only affords NYFA students another way to express themselves artistically, but brings them together and bonds them through a joint love of music and song.Glee Club Summer 2018

    Sunny Amara, a member of the Glee Club for six semesters and its current choreographer, calls being in the club “a new, exciting, thrilling experience every time. There’s nothing I love more than taking the stage and performing my heart out. The Glee Club has been a perfect place for that. It’s just so much fun.”

    Amara also echoes the sentiment shared by many in the Glee Club, that “the basis of Glee Club is a love of music, a love of singing and a love of performing that we get to share with audiences. And to me, that’s tops.”

    Amara adds, “Watching my choreography come to life with these beautiful, singing souls is an experience unparalleled by any. We work hard in rehearsals getting the music and dances to their best, then we get to pour our hearts out on that stage. There’s nothing better than that to me.”

    These sentiments aren’t just felt by Amara, but by many of the members of the NYFA Glee Club. Lara Heine is studying for her BFA in Acting at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus and is also a member of the club. After a performance at the end of last summer, Heine put her thoughts into words, writing the following piece, entitled “The Power of Music”:

    Music and Dance is like therapy for many people. It eases your soul and spreads happiness.

    At least that is how I always felt. As acting students, we are constantly on the go and expected to give our all. On very rare occasions we get something rewarded.

    That is why I chose to sign up for the Glee Club. To give and receive in return. 

    This semester was filled with a lot of talented and driven people and putting on a performance with them was an honor for me. Melissa Sullivan, our teacher, created an amazing lineup of thoughtful chosen group and solo pieces.

    Glee Club Summer 2018Most of us didn’t know each other when we met for our first rehearsal. Over the span of a few short weeks, we rehearsed some of the most challenging musical theatre pieces. We ended up growing, as a group and as people.

    Musical theatre is not always easy. The pressure to be a triple threat is high. When we were doubting ourselves, Melissa would listen and help us to see the positive and move past it.

    On the night of the performance our nerves were blank. During the final rehearsal, everyone was anxious and worried about different pieces and organizational things. The decorations kept falling of the walls and some of the choreography looked funky. Funnily enough, I was never worried if we were going to be able to pull it off. I just knew I was surrounded by so much talent and creativity that whatever happened, we would be fine. 

    And that was the case. Despite some doubts and worries, we went on stage and performed the hell out of it. As they say: “The show must go on.”

    The audience was blown away. They loved every single one of us. I could tell. The choreography was suddenly remembered by everyone, and the harmonies of all the group pieces were completely pitch-free. We all loved every second of it. We gave our heart and received so much love by the audience. All the hard work paid off. It was an awesome result after one semester of a lot of rehearsing. 

    Thank you to everyone who made this performance so amazing. And a special shoutout to Melissa, who has been our sunshine throughout the whole time.

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    November 12, 2018 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Student Life • Views: 897