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  • Alum Ludovic Coutaud Brings Lunatic Clowns to the Drama Book Shop

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    New York City is a thrilling and challenging place to be an artist. For NYFA Acting for Film Conservatory alum Ludovic Coutaud, creating site-specific shows crafted to play off iconic performances spaces within the city has helped him forge a specific and entirely original path as a performer, producer, and creative director.

    Coming up this summer, Lunatic Clown And Cie, the international theatre company Coutaud founded and serves as artistic director, brings The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) to the iconic Drama Book Shop library. Here, he tells the NYFA Blog what it’s like to perform original clown shows in New York City, and why it’s important for artists to produce their own work.

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

    LC: I studied Acting for Film at NYFA in 2011, and had a blast learning from this very talented faculty. I had visited the campus two months prior as a New York tourist with my parents and loved the idea of studying acting in another language among other foreigners. That is something that makes New York Film Academy such a strong, diverse school. We were 12 students in my class and only three Americans were present. I remember liking to call my class the United Nations of NYFA.

    NYFA: Why acting and directing? What draws you to storytelling through performance?

    LC: I started directing in Marseille, France where I am from, with my first acting teacher directing the end-of-year kids’ shows. It was a true leap of understanding the craft even better, and I found myself being able to communicate my directions more specifically having known what it was like to receive notes. It also taught me the importance of collaboration.

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

    LC: I loved every class for several reasons. The one I discovered entirely and had the most fun with was maybe Maggie Reed’s TV Sitcom and Soap Opera class during the second semester. These formats are very uncommon where I am from (especially the laugh tracks in the background). I learned lots of new tricks and techniques that I still use to this day.

    NYFA: Tell us a bit about your company Lunatic Clown And Cie. What inspired you to start the company, and how do you juggle your multinational and genre-bending productions?

    LC: I have written, directed and produced a dozen of shows in New York City under my name and I have developed a new style through these selections of projects. I’m now six years into the process — but I’ve been called a “clown” all my life!

    For those who know, clowning is a word that resonates out of the ordinary for certain cultures. For example, here in America clowns are often associated with birthday parties and dark serial killer stories. Well, my company, style, and the values behind every show aren’t remotely close to that. I call my clowns “tall children,” or poetic souls. Many names could be found. The style is complex.

    When I first discuss it with the actors involved in my company, I share information with them — like a chart of what to do and not do, and how to find the goal to achieve. Each clown piece is one simple, heartfelt story. I want to always find all the possible nuances and converse about the topic with all my clowns one on one.

    After 7 years juggling between the arts and other wonderful jobs, I have luckily been able to maintain my main target to why I came to New York in the first place. That’s also why it was time for me to brand all of my style under a name that would be catchy, mysterious yet personable: Lunatic Clown And Cie.

    NYFA: As a producer and performer, what challenges do you face when creating your shows, and how do you overcome those challenges?

    LC: Producing a show is hard work, yes, but if you do believe thoroughly in the project, things seem to flow a bit more. Throughout the years, struggles have shifted. My hat of producer joins creative, executive (financing), and supervising roles. Where other projects would hire three people, I found myself loving to do these three positions. My style being different, I needed to have very strong collaborators by my side who would understand me 100 percent. From show to show, I have found that person to assist me along the way on one or two projects, co-direct or even invest in the shows — and most importantly, friends who believed in my work.

    To this day, gathering a group of passionate risk takers, willing to join a community of artists and be clowns, has been a challenge. From all these hats, I would say I added the one of “eager artist hunter” to amplify the panel of the performers who I had the chance to work with.

    NYFA: Your summer show The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) uses clowning to explore the theme of denial. What an interesting combo — what led you to this theme? Why this show, now?

    LC: The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) takes on the very important theme of denial indeed because it has been a subject of mine for a long time. My first short play Denial was a success, also at the Drama Book Shop, in 2016. It was a piece with words and lots of audience members came to find me afterwards and said, ”Did you write this? Thank you. I would love to see more about that theme from you in the future.”

    I remember thinking how interesting that was, so I did find the inspiration to write two new pieces: Look at Me, and now this one. This time, I decided to explore that major topic through physicality only. Again, you realize that clowning and performance art here is the same family for me.

    Timing is very interesting and the society we live in fascinates and aggravates me at the same time. I had a list of eight shows of mine waiting around and I picked this one because I got the Drama Book Shop. This the third time that I have contacted the Drama Book Shop team. Four pieces of mine have swept the stage of the Arthur Seelen Theatre already and this time I had decided to rock the library.

    That location is ideal for several reasons; it is an actor’s temple, it gathers stories waiting to be told, it is a pleasure to work with the staff and is a centered location for many involved. The show is not Rated R but for everyone. This piece is for all. I look forward to discussing this piece with the audience members.

    NYFA: What’s next for you and The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards)?

    LC: The Lunatic Clown And Cie show Voyage will be next at the New York New Works Theatre Festival 2018 at Theatre Row in September.

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

    LC: NYFA was indeed very helpful since I had the chance to work on several student films and learned from other departments and teachers. My curiosity and the proximity of campuses made me eager to keep learning and that hasn’t changed.

    Congratulations, Ludovic! If you’re in New York City, get your tickets for The Book Wives Club (or The Closeted Beards) here.

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  • New York Film Academy Photography Alumni Partners Photograph Swedish Star Jasmine Kara

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    When you’re starting your own photography business, few things are as exciting as those first few high profile gigs. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography alumni and teaching assistants Stephany Viera Fernandez and Neil Camposuelo recently celebrated this landmark, during a promotional shoot with Swedish singer and songwriter Jasmine Kara.

    To celebrate and share their success, Stephany and Neil have offered the NYFA blog a sneak peek behind the scenes.

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

    Steph & Neil: Coming from two different parts of the world where photography is not as broad, unlike here in New York, one of the main reasons was to be able to keep growing and to build confidence — not just as a photographer, but also as a complete artist. We attended NYFA in different school years, but we both felt this school is the best avenue to do so.

    We wanted to be surrounded with talented and motivated people who shared the same passion as us. Along with the great faculty and other amazing students, being with them daily and continually creating work opened a whole new domain of ideas and philosophies on how we view the industry that is ahead of us.

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

    Steph & Neil: What is really astounding about photography is how you can be able to create your own world, but also at the same time you can capture the world right in front of you.

    There are so many ways you can maximize the use of this medium. Also, the power of one frame and the longevity of preserving that one frame can influence not just the present but also years to come. It is like a relationship also; it builds up gradually, and requires understanding between you and the medium to obtain the peak of mastery.  

    NYFA: How did you two connect as collaborators?

    Neil: After I finished my stint as a student here in NYFA, I applied to work as a TA last year, which eventually made Steph my colleague. That was when I got to know more about Steph and her work. I saw we had the same passion and motivation to succeed, and that was when I proposed the idea to her to work as a photographer duo.

    Steph & Neil: We knew it would be a good idea because we both have different cultural backgrounds and expertise; the dynamic between us is very good. Working with two brains and bodies can get more work done, and we are able to experiment with contrasting ideas and putting everything together cohesively. We both have trust, and along the way we help each other grow as we fill in our individual differences, strengths, and weaknesses.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying (and/or working as a TA) with us?

    Steph: For me, it was when I met all the teachers here in NYFA. I was really in awe of the load of talent and knowledge that they all have. It gives me the drive every day to potentially reach the same level.

    As for working as a TA, it is like being a student all over again. I continuously go along with the classes and I also experience in real time how fast photography changes in terms of style and techniques. That helps me to always have a different outlook and an open mind whenever I approach our own work.

    Neil: Just like what Steph said, my favorite moment here in NYFA is also the opportunity to meet all the teachers, to have a conversation with them and basically to learn from them every day. It is really a blessing to have such a group of people this great, because it helps me to stay humble, work harder, and keep track of my vision — our vision as a photographer duo.

    It is also great to work as a TA here at school because it gives you a sense of responsibility. I consider it a noble profession to be a part of student development, in terms of their career and life, to be able to help them, as well as guide them to be great on what they want to pursue.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your recent shoot with Jasmine Kara? How did this collaboration come about, and any inspiration or details you can share?

    Steph & Neil: We will be doing a cover for her upcoming single that will be released into three different languages (English, Spanish, Persian) this August. We cannot really tell yet the full detail of the single, but it is about how we can carry on in life with all the negativity and problems through laughter.

    The concept we are planning to do is a mix of humor and inspirations from Greek sculptures, work from photographers like Roger Ballen and Chris Buck, and relating it to the music video of Jasmine Kara’s single. Our main idea is having our own take of humor in a contemporary art approach, as we are trying to blend in the mood of the song but still remaining grounded in the style of our work as a photographer duo.

    NYFA: When photographing a star like Kara, how do you prepare? 

    Steph & Neil: This kind of opportunity do not come every day. So, when we knew we would have the chance to do a shoot with her, we started doing our pre-production plan.

    We had at least one-and-a-half weeks and to prepare, and even though it was a short period of time, this is one of the advantages of working as a photographer duo; we’re able to accomplish more and finish on time.

    Plus, [we did] a lot of research also. It is important to get to know the subject, her personality, and her background history as a singer. We had a couple of meetings with her, talking about the ideas for the shoot and making sure everything was according to plan.

    NYFA: What is your must-have piece of photography equipment, or your must-do ritual when preparing for a shoot?

    Steph & Neil: We never forget to have a scrim-jim on our equipment list every time we shoot. It is a very versatile diffusion, and helps soften and tone the light. This is like the signature look we have on most of our work.

    And for a must-do ritual, we love to eat before and even after a shoot! We always double-check everything also from the pre-production and the equipment we are using to avoid mishaps.

    NYFA: What’s your advice to students interested in photographing on the pop and music scene?

    Steph & Neil: For us, it’s not just about photographing on the pop and music scene. In general, our advice is that students should continue to grasp anything they can learn. Continue reading books, watching movies, talking to people. In the future, this will be an accumulation of knowledge and experiences that they can apply to their work. They should not be afraid of experimenting, breaking the rules of photography, risking ideas. In this era of photography where everything has been done already, students should be able to create ways to improve these latter ideas into something new and contemporary.

    On the other hand, students must still respect and give credit to the history of photography, the art of it, and take time to understand how we got here to this point — especially in the level of creativity.

    Lastly, we would like to share this quote with everyone. This is a mantra for us working as a photographer duo: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” We both believe that we make our own luck, that we should have to work for it, and just keep creating beautiful images.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you’re doing now?

    Steph & Neil: Absolutely, NYFA was like our training ground and a big part of the foundation of who we are now as an artists and photographers.

    Coming here to New York City and to this school with no prior professional experience, it did help bring out the best in us. The school gave us not just the tools but also the mental preparation to face the reality of this industry.

    Thank you and congratulations to Stephany and Neil!

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  • NYFA DOCS got off to a great start in the 1st Quarter of 2018

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    We seem to be beating industry’s 50-50 in 2020 goal, and docsters are killin’ it across the board.  

    In January alone…

    An Academy Award nomination landed Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Kristen Nutile in Oscar’s limelight as Editor of the  Netflix original doc, Heroin(e).

    October Films promoted Louis Mole (’13) to Head of Development

    Sundance gave Documentary Cinematography Instructor Claudia Raschke some serious love, lauding her work as director of photography of the acclaimed, RBG, featuring her on the celebrated “Women Who Shoot panel. You’ll find Claudia-centric articles include American CinematographerFilmmakerIndiewire, etc.

    With a two-minute micro-doc, alum Gary Bencheghib (’14) moved the President of Indonesia to launch a massive cleanup of the most polluted river in the world. The initiative will employ 7,000 people for seven years, stopping millions of tons of plastics from reaching the ocean each year, and radically improving the lives of 20 million people along the river.

    And then came February…

    A Sniper’s War, the first feature doc from director Olga Schechter (‘14) premiered to rave reviews at two top festivals, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

    “Powerful and disturbing.” – Hollywood Reporter

    Superb cinematography.” – Hollywood Reporter

    “Stunning.” – Counter Punch

    “The most chillingly frightening killer imaginable. – Film Threat

    A 9 out of 10.” – Film Threat

    Schechter scored these key reviews despite the lack of a release date, a publicist, or even a production company. A good, old-fashioned bidding war immediately broke out and it looks like Journeyman Pictures has won worldwide rights with a promise of theatrical release. A Sniper’s War has since gone on to win multiple festivals including Best Foreign Documentary at the Academy Award Qualifying, Arizona Film Festival. (With the new eligibility rules, the Arizona win almost certainly qualifies the film for the Oscar race. The Academy will confirm their new list of qualifying festivals later this spring, so we’ll know for sure then.)

    In other February news, Netflix premiered doc series First Team: Juventus, edited by Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (‘09), which “is produced with elegance and cinematic finesse,” and “ultimately reminds us of the simple beauty of the beautiful game.” – Sports Illustrated 

    Documentary Producing Instructor Dorottya Mathe also premiered her feature, The Independents, at SBFFThe Hollywood Reporter likes it too, especially, “the way in which it subverts all the clichés of the star-is-born story,” and pronounces it, “an extremely engaging film.” Graduate Erica Wong (’14) assisted Dorottya on the production, and fellow NYFA Instructor Piero Basso served as DP. Documentary Instructor Jessica Wolfson’s feature, Hot Grease followed its Discovery premiere with VOD roll out on Discovery Go.

    March didn’t miss a beat either…

    Wynona Barbera (’16) took a walk on the fiction side and produced El Cat which became an Official Selection of the hip, HBO Women in Comedy Festival.

    Furlough, the second 2018 fiction film from NYFA Documentary Instructor Dorottya Mathe (Production Supervisor) opened in theaters. The female-driven comedy starred Academy Award winners Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg and Anna Paquin.

    Back in the doc world, Invisible Killers: Ebola Virus, associate produced by Laura Snow (’13) for The Documentary Group aired on Discovery and Science Channel. (And is now available on Discovery Go.)

    Francesca Pagani produced The Italian Mafia’s Young Foot Soldiers and associate produced Inside The Two-Decade Fight to Bring Down a Confederate Monument, both for VICE.

    Weighing in for the 6-Weekers, Kendall Ciesemier (6-Week ’17), now a Mic staff producer, has created a series of pivotal social media micro-docs around the Parkland students’ anti-gun violence campaign, including Should This Responsible Gun Owner Surrender his AR-15? and Parkland Teen vs. NRA Member.

    Director/Producer Tarryn Crossman (‘12) won another SAFTA Award, this time for the hard-hitting MTV Shuga episode In Real Life. Mentions include: Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Screen Africa.

    Mariko Ide (’16) edited her first piece for Google.

    Kristen Nutile edited Weed The People (directed by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein),  which premiered at SXSW — where Indiewire and Interview magazine both pronounced it a “must-see” film. And even People magazine gave it a write-up.

    The Stolen River, directed by Krisztina Danka (6-Week ’17), won Best Environmental Film at the Calcutta International Film Festival. That was after taking Best in Show at Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival, as well as awards at Independent Shorts Awards, Impact DOCS Award, LiFFT Filmotsav and others.

    Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (’08) premiered his first feature documentary, Amigos Del Tren, at San Diego Latino Film Festival.

    The Second quarter of 2018 is off to a great start as well. More on that shortly.

    One spoiler, though…

    Two documentaries nominated for Peabody Awards this year have NYFA Documentary School bloodlines: Heroin(e), edited by prof, Kristen Nutile and Newtown, Associate Produced/Associate Post Produced by Laura Snow (’13).

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  • New York Film Academy & Kazakh National University of Arts (KazNUA) Sign Cooperative Agreement

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    An ancient Kazakh proverb declares, “People’s smiles are hotter than the sun” — and this was made evident earlier this month by the visit to New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) New York City campus of a delegation from the  Kazakh National University of Arts (KazNUA) and the Kazakhstan Consulate.

    Mr. Talgat Taishanov, KazNUA director of the visual arts department, represented KazNUA Rector Ms. Ayman Musahadzhayeva, for the ceremony of a signing of a formal cooperative agreement (MoU) between New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts and Kazakh National University of Arts.

    NYFA Senior Executive Vice President David Klein rendered the agreement and presented an official certificate of appreciation to the distinguished guests from Kazakhstan. In turn, Mr. Taishanov presented Mr. Klein with a traditional stately robe from his country.

    The association between our two creative institutions of higher learning has already yielded productive outcomes, with NYFA supporting “Ushkyn,” KazNUA’s first festival of student films. Additionally, this month NYFA’s LA campus hosted a graduate filmmaking student who is the Head of the Young Section of National Academy of Cinematography at KazNUA.

    The partnership was recently featured on the Kazakh National News station.

    [expand title=”Click here to see the raw transcript, in English translation.”]

    In New York was held a ceremony of signing a memorandum of cooperation between the famous New York Film Academy and the Kazakh National University of Arts. Last year such an agreement was concluded with the branch of the Academy in Los Angeles, thanks to such cooperation, the teachers of Kazakh National University of Arts Meirambek Abdukarimov and Talgat Taishanov passed an internship in the USA. Currently, a second-year undergraduate Ayan Nayzabekov [is] passing the practice in Los Angeles. And today such cooperation between the two film schools is expanding. On behalf of the rector of the Kazakh National University of Arts Ayman Musahadzhayeva, the head of the Cinema and Television department, Taishanov Talgat, took part in the ceremony of signing the memorandum. From the American side the document was signed by the vice president of New York Film Academy David Klein. Thus, a new stage of cooperation between the leading educational institutions of Kazakhstan and the USA is coming, which will contribute to the further development of relations between our countries in the field of culture, art and cinema.

    David Klein: – After signing a memorandum of understanding, we expect more meaningful cooperation. We gladly welcome students at the Kazakh National Academy of Arts at the New York Film Academy. We can share our experience and introduce our experts in the film coffers. We look forward to our future cooperation and film festival, which is scheduled for July and will contribute to our successful partnership.

    Talgat Taishanov: – On behalf of the rector of the Kazakh National University of Arts Ayman Musahadzhayeva, today we signed a memorandum of cooperation with the New York Film Academy. Last year we signed the same contract with the New York Film Academy of Los Angeles. We hope that this signing of the agreements gives us an opportunity to exchange students for academic mobility and also to exchange teachers for conducting master classes. For us, this is a very large area of our activity, in the department of cinema and TV. We hope that in the future our students will be free to work in the world cinema space.

    [/expand]

     

     

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  • Life is Beautiful for New York Film Academy Acting for Film Alum Giorgio Cantarini

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    Not many aspiring actors get to spend childhood performing alongside Russell Crowe and Roberto Benigni in international megahits like The Gladiator and Life is Beautiful, but New York Film Academy alum Giorgio Cantarini did.

    You may recognize Cantarini as the spontaneous, cherubic child actor who not only held his own but represented the emotional heart of each of those acclaimed films, but Cantarini has grown quite a bit since then — including in his acting technique. Wrapping up his studies at the NYFA New York Acting Conservatory, Cantarini sat down to share some of his insights with the NYFA Blog. Check out his incredible story.*

    *This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

    NYFA: You’ve been acting since you were 5 years old in Life is Beautiful, can just tell us a little bit about how you came to that film?

    GC: There was an article in the newspaper with casting description of the kids that they were looking for, and my uncle saw the description and was like, “Giorgio it’s the same as you, you have to go to the audition,” and so we went.

    … At the auditions I never acted. Roberto Benigni just wanted to talk with me and see how I reacted. And then of course on the set they explained to me the scene, what was happening.

    NYFA: From the time that you were working on Life is Beautiful through school, did you do any kind of school work involving acting?

    GC: After Life is Beautiful, after The Gladiator, growing up I didn’t want to be an actor because my role in Life is Beautiful was really attached to me … but then after high school everyone told me how talented I was, so I said to myself, okay, let’s see if really I have this talent. I went to Rome to enter a very selective school. Every year like 700 people try to get in and they choose 12: six girls and six guys. So when I was admitted I was really happy.

    I started acting because someone choose it for me, but now it was my choice, and this was a very big step for me to continue, and to discover that I’m good, and now I could study to be a professional, complete actor.

    NYFA:  How was your time studying with the New York Film Academy?

    GC: I had a really great month at NYFA, one of the best experience in my life — for the city, for everything, for New York, for the people.

    The standard is very different than the teaching approach in Italy. It is very different. It’s smart to direct small groups, and just do it, don’t think about it — do it, just do it!

    I really like NYFA a lot because of the action, and the professors too. The energy! I think that they have a lot of students every month, every year, a lot of different students — but every day they come in the class with the with a great energy, to work with you and do the best for you every single day. Seeing teachers every time have good energy, positive energy, and smiling, was inspiring.

    NYFA:  When you’re looking back at your experience at NYFA, is there anything you learned that you feel you’re going to take with you in your future career?

    GC: The technique from NYFA instructors Blanche Baker, Peter Allen Stone, and Victor Verhaeghe, and the scene analysis — truly, the class most important for me was Alison Hodge’s technique.

    NYFA: What inspires your work? Is there a specific film or actor that you always go to?

    GC: For me, Dustin Hoffman. Dustin Hoffman is ideal. When I watched The Graduate, I thought, “What a movie! What an actor.” I was impressed with Dustin Hoffman, he is my idol now and before. He’s a special actor…

     

    NYFA: Can you tell me a little bit about your film Il Dottore del Pesci (The Fish Doctor)?

    GC: The story is about a guy that has a fish shop, but he doesn’t sell the fish; he takes care of the fish. If someone goes out of town, the people can leave the fish with him and he’ll take care of them. His life is with the fishes. One day an American person from a TV network meets him and thinks he is perfect for a show about the the weirdest jobs in the world, like a freak show. My character’s English isn’t great, so he confuses the question and says yes without realizing what he’s signing up for.

    Life changes for him. He used to talk to a lot of people in a really, really small city, with a lot of old people. He has no family. And suddenly he’s in the U.S. and he’s really emotional. And I can’t tell you the finale but it’s so lovely.

    NYFA: Overall is there any advice that you would give to people that are interested in going into acting?

    GC: If you want to be an actor, you have to study a lot. Especially now, because with Netflix and YouTube and the web, a lot of people want to be an actor. Anyone can put his work on on the web, but that’s not a real actor. You bring the art with you.

    It takes a lot of study to understand and know who you are. To be a great actor, you have to know who you are. That’s the main reason that I am here in New York — I want to see when I leave home, and speak in another language with other people, who am I?

    It really was different here. I was different. I don’t know why, but this city or this situation with the school and the feeling with the classmates really gave me a new energy. New perspective, you know? New experiences. To be open and always beautiful. I love it.

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    GC: I’m returning to Italy to start the second part of my scholarship, a theatre production that works with the people that were in prison, to be an actor and assistant director.

    Then, my next project will be to move to New York after the summer. I’m starting the process.  I want to come here now because, while I have an agent in France and Switzerland, I’d like to start a new journey in New York.

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  • New York Film Academy Students Attend Red Sparrow World Premiere

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    From its home base at the crossroads of the world, students at the New York Film Academy’s New York City campus are often at the cutting edge of industry news and events. This week, NYFA students received an exclusive invitation from 20th Century Fox to the world premiere of one of the season’s most-anticipated films: Red Sparrow.

    NYFA students dressed in their best business attire for the opening, and had a chance to see director Francis Lawrence together with the films stars Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton, who attended the Feb. 26 premier at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

    Based on the book by Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow is a spy thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton. The story follows ballerina Dominika Egorova, a young woman forced by necessity to navigate a complex web of international intrigue, violence, and intelligence when she is persuaded to join Sparrow School, a training ground for elite secret agents.

    In order to survive and regain control of her life, she must learn to play the game better than anyone else. The all-star cast also includes Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeremy Irons.

    While NYFA students were treated to this VIP World Premier, audiences across the U.S. will have a chance to see Red Sparrow in theatres nationwide on March 2.

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    February 27, 2018 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 1691

  • 2 New York Film Academy Grads Premier Films at 2018 Winter Film Awards

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    New York City’s Winter Film Awards International Film Festival will feature the short films of two New York Film Academy (NYFA) grads in its seventh season, beginning Feb. 22. NYFA Los Angeles grad Tamara Ruppart screens Path of Dreams, a love story based on the life of Japanese poet Ono No Komachi, while NYFA New York grad Joseph Park premiers Inner Glow, a surreal journey of self-discovery and freedom following a troubled young woman in the clouds. More details from the Winter Film Awards, below:

    Path of Dreams

    Directed by NYFA Alum Tamara Ruppart

    Short, from Japan, in Japanese, 25 mins, 2017

    Screening Sunday Feb. 25, Block 10: 9:15 PM-11:45 PM     

    Path of Dreams TRAILER from Kotaro Mori on Vimeo.

     

    In poetic Japan, Komachi strikes a tantalizing bargain with suitor Shosho. If he agrees to write poetry with her for 99 nights, she promises they will create a love more beautiful than poetry. Every day he must ride to her home, and when the sun sets on the 99th night she will take him as her lover. For 98 nights, they journey through poetry, exploring their hearts and minds, as their love and desire grow in anticipation. On the 99th night, Komachi joyfully awaits her lover. But as she watches the sun set, Komachi moves from disappointment to anger, until a sense of mystery fills the stillness in the air, and heartbreak takes hold of her heart. In her grief, she will carry Shosho with her as she walks the path of dreams.

    Inner Glow

    Directed by NYFA Alum Joseph Park

    Short, from United States in English, 11 mins, 2017, World Premiere

    Screening Saturday Feb 24, Block 4: 3:45 PM-6:15 PM /Wednesday Feb 28, Matinee: 2:00 PM-5:00 PM    

    Skye, a troubled young woman trapped amidst the dark clouds with nothing but a window, struggles to access her power to illuminate light bulbs. After much despair and failure, Skye discovers a calling from outside, which turns out to be her clone. This encounter allows her to draw more power, and therefore, the bulbs begin to glow. However, she finds that her clone disappears, which causes the light bulbs to fade away. Skye’s only hope of freedom lies in seeking her true self and acceptance in order to bring in light again.

    The Winter Film Awards lineup will include a total of 93 films at Cinema Village in Greenwich Village, and this year the festival has reported their selected filmmakers come from 31 countries; 40% of the films were created by women, 43% were created by people of color. The New York Film Academy applauds the continued work to promote diversity in the entertainment industry, and congratulates Tamara Ruppart and Joseph Park. If you’re in the city, tickets are on sale now — check out our alumni films at the Winter Film Awards. 

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  • Jungle Magazine Features New York Film Academy Grad Jon Henry as Cover Artist

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    We always love to hear what our alumni are up to, and this winter we were delighted to see NYFA New York City Photography Conservatory grad Jon Henry’s work featured as the cover image for Jungle magazine. His composition Untitled 27, Providence, RI was created exclusively for the magazine’s 03 limited edition.

    The UK-based publication focuses on fashion and culture and releases a new issue bi-annually, so it is all the more significant for a photographer to see their work featured on the cover.

    NYFA alum Jon Henry‘s photo on cover of Jungle Magazine

    This time, Henry’s work has the added distinction of representing Jungle’s limited The Resilience Edition, for which he photographed the cover model, actress and artist Jemima Kirke. Kirke’s story of starting over in a new country to provide a better life for her children is resonantly captured by Henry’s photography.

    Jungle features Henry’s work alongside Tove Lo, MNEK, Mark Hartman, Louise Trotter, Sally Bourke, Daniel Castro Garcia, Mark Hartman, Ben Murphy, ALMA, Joseph Special, Poppy Ajudha Blue Lab Beats and Jennifer Neiderhauser Schulp.

    In their forward to the The Resilience Edition, the Jungle editors explain why Henry exemplifies their theme of resilience: “Henry’s work responds to the violence and maltreatment of African American men in the United States, and looks at the resilience of the mothers who have to stay strong despite knowing the extent of the tragedies that could hit their family.”

    NYFA alum Jon Henry

    Jon Henry graduated from the New York Film Academy Photography School’s 1-Year Conservatory and is a teaching assistant at the New York City campus. In his visual artwork, he focuses primarily on the black family and the community at large. He also explores the representation of athletes in fine art. His Stranger Fruit in Smack Mellon’s Hot Picks 2017 and the project was also on the short list for the Lucie Foundation grant.

    Henry also appeared recently as a panelist at one of Miami’s major art festivals, Spectrum Miami.

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  • New York Film Academy Alum Uzair Merchant is Best Indie Director at Los Angeles Film Awards

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    In the middle of a the entertainment industry’s award season, it’s easy to see how a prestigious award can mean more than its weight in glitter or gold. Winning an award is a remarkably exciting way for artists to share their stories and receive recognition for a job well done, and we are proud to congratulate one such New York Film Academy alum.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) filmmaking graduate Uzair Merchant has been busy since completing his filmmaking workshop at NYFA New York City. With production credits with the BBC, Marvel Studios, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and more, the triple-degree black belt has also launched his own award-winning production company, and recently snagged the competitive Best Indie Filmmaker Award from the Los Angeles Film Awards.

    The NYFA Blog had a chance to sit down and catch up with the award-winning filmmaker and production designer to hear more about his film “Chasing Lines,” what inspires him, and what’s next.

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

    UM: I’m an Indian filmmaker who grew up in Dubai. My background is in production and set design, which I studied at Nottingham Trent University in England. However that was always a path for me wanting to make films: understanding the creative side. Some of the greatest filmmakers like Sir Ridley Scott and Alfred Hitchcock were part of art departments before making it as mainstream filmmakers. It’s the one side of film that has retained its roots in cinema, with the process just using different tools now.

    Learning to make films in New York [at the New York Film Academy] was a dream though, especially with the alumni list of NYFA. It’s in the heart of it all! Could you believe telling a kid in dubai in the ‘90s, “You can make films in new york at the film academy”? It was literally a dream.

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

    UM: Lots of moments! Every day was a moment of its own, but learning the traditional ways of film, actually spooling it in, the process of measuring everything — it was amazing.

    Most of all, it was the people around me. I made some of the best friends there who were all amazing in their own way, and learning off of each other was amazing. I’m sure we’ll make more films together.

    NYFA: Why did you choose filmmaking? And what inspires you most as a filmmaker?

    UM: The freedom of telling a story. Film to me is the best medium that you can use to connect with an audience, and immerse them into any world you create. Suddenly you have this power of speaking through the voice of another artist, along with the whole crew, all working towards that moment, that one amazing moment.

    I like waking up knowing that morning I can be living in a world of the 10th century or 100 years in the future for the next few weeks or days or months. It’s exciting.

    Social realism inspires me the most. I like observing life around me, especially when I’m traveling. Then, “Life imitates art, far more than art imitates life.” (Oscar Wilde)

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your process in creating “Chasing Lines,” and what motivated you to bring this project to life?

    UM: “Chasing Lines” is a sequel to a short film I made eight years back, “In Between Lines,” which was about comparing roads to people. Hopefully eight years from now, I’d like to make “Beyond Lines” — and then it will be an overall 15 minute trilogy made over 16 years.

    The first film, “In Between Lines,” was about figuring out the paths of life and comparing roads to people. “Chasing Lines” is about realizing the chase of life, but trying to understand the why. It’s a dialogue with the earth. Hopefully “Beyond Lines” will be about .. who knows? I’ve always been obsessed with that question of purpose of life and how connected we are in such a weird magical network of a universe.

    On the technical side of “Chasing Lines,” I wanted to explore. You see how the smartphone has kind of taken over everything, and if that is the future in some weird way I wanted to explore it, so the whole thing — even the voice-over — is recorded on the iPhone. The poster image is also taken on the iPhone.

    It was challenging, especially doing the long time-lapse shots that lasted 20-30 minutes each. Fun, though.

    NYFA: “Chasing Lines” just won Best Indie Filmmaker at the Los Angeles Film Awards. Congratulations! For our students, do you have any advice on what you learned through the process?

    UM: Thank you so much!

    Honestly my advice to NYFA students is to make the films they want to make. On the process, I don’t think anyone should let things change or shape their film. It’s good to get inspired through different things, but there isn’t really one set way I think…

    Maybe that’s the best advice: get inspired.  

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

    UM: Oh, for sure: NYFA teaches you fundamentals you are expected to know and understand in the professional world. Simple things, but important — like basic rules of filmmaking and understanding the whole process from start to end.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming screenings or new projects you’d like to tell us about?

    UM: There are things in the pipeline, mainly my feature that I’ve been working on for about eight years as well, called “Elixir Of Life.” I’d hope to get that kicked off soon…

    I also do production design for a theme park in Dubai called Global Village, and we design and build pavilions for each country. It’s pretty cool, like a massive standing film set for six months. That’s the first part of my year coming up and even though it’s so wild and crazy with the scale of it all, it’s fun — and you learn a lot very fast. You have to. Plus, I get to work with my parents on it! We each have our areas on the project and its all connected and feeds into the bigger picture.

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

    UM: I have my own production company called B Kreativ Productions, based out of Dubai and recently Vancouver too. We are a multi-award-winning production company and it’s something I’d like to grow over time by adding creative value by exploring and merging with new talent and work. My relationship with NYFA and my university Nottingham Trent gives us the opportunity to grow, and we are lucky to have that!

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Uzair Merchant for sharing a part of his story with our community, and congratulate all our alums who are working hard to shape the industry for the better.

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  • “Mindhunter” Screening with Guest Speaker Happy Anderson at New York Film Academy

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    David Fincher’s critically-acclaimed Netflix series “Mindhunter” has been described by Slant Magazine as “addictive and resonant,” and features the work of two New York Film Academy (NYFA) instructors.

    In the wake of David Berkowitz (aka “Son of Sam”), Charles Manson and others, a new team within the FBI was formed to psychologically analyze the minds of killers. “Mindhunters” focuses on the early days of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) as its members struggle to understand the minds of serial killers, a term which had not yet been coined. The series stars New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Master Class lecturer Jonathan Groff, while veteran actor and NYFA instructor Happy Anderson is featured in two episodes of Season 1 in the chilling role of imprisoned killer Jerry Brudos.

    Jonathan Groff and Happy Anderson in a still from “Mindhunters,” via IMDB.

    This week, Anderson will return to NYFA’s New York City campus as a special guest in the New York Film Academy’s Guest Speaker Series, to share insights with students and discuss his career — which has included roles on acclaimed shows such “The Knick,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “The Deuce.” He will also be featured in “Bright” alongside Will Smith, which will be released December 22nd, 2017. Episode 7 of “Mindhunter,” in which Anderson guest stars, will be screened for students prior to a Q&A. NYFA Chair of Acting in New York City Peter Stone will be moderating the Q&A.

    “Mindhunter” has recently been renewed by Netflix for a second season which was announced in a tweet by the show’s official account:

    Watch the trailer for season one below:

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