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  • President Meets and Greets With New York Film Academy Australia Students

    President Michael J. Young visits NYFA Australia

    NYFA President Michael J. Young addresses NYFA Australia students

     

    In early February, New York Film Academy (NYFA) President Michael J. Young visited the Gold Coast campus at New York Film Academy Australia along with the NYFA Australia Board of Directors. Attending the meet and greet were many of NYFA Australia’s current students, including the January 2018 class just getting underway.

    Far from a quiet, staid succession of speeches, the event buzzed with an energy of enthusiasm and good cheer that started with the excited student body loudly cheering and ended with an impromptu dance party.

    Tasha Cooper, Director of NYFA Australia, Gold Coast, introduced President Young, who had come from the Academy’s New York City campus, where he is based. Young, who has been with the New York Film Academy since it was founded in 1992, talked about the history of the school, as well as its future. After speaking briefly, he then let students pick his brain with a myriad of questions, both thoughtful and fun, while also using the opportunity to get to better know the aspiring artists.

    President Michael J. Young visits NYFA Australia

    President Michael J. Young and NYFA Australia students

    Of meeting the NYFA Australia student body, President Young said, “I was honored and delighted to meet the many aspiring filmmaking, acting, and screenwriting students studying with us at the Gold Coast campus. Their enthusiasm was awe-inspiring, and I expect we will see their talent to be equally so.”

    The New York Film Academy expanded to Australia in 2011, and boasts a state-of-the-art facility co-located in Southport, the Gold Coast’s leading educational and creative arts precinct. Attending NYFA Australia’s programs — including camps, workshops, Diplomas, and Advanced Diplomas — affords students the opportunity to shoot and act on NYFA’s exclusive backlot facilities at Village Roadshow Studios, the location of many Hollywood films including Thor: Ragnarok and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. By working within this professional, Hollywood environment, NYFA Australia students gain a unique experience that prepares them for real-world work in the filmmaking industry.

    Director, Tasha Cooper introducing President Michael J Young

    Director, Tasha Cooper introducing President Michael J. Young

    The diverse, vibrant environment of the Gold Coast suits the artistic, zestful personalities of NYFA Australia’s student body. While President Young didn’t expect his casual but informative talk with the students to erupt into a dance party, the festive, exuberant atmosphere made it clearly inevitable. A barista was even on hand, providing students with speciality coffee.

    It’s hard to say who had more fun during the visit — President Young or the students. Likely, everyone equally had a great time. After the event, Tasha Cooper remarked, “As part of a global institution, NYFA Australia students were excited to partake in a tradition where NYFA President, Michael Young, learns more about their story and what they hope to achieve from our interactive and intensive programs.”

    Cooper added, “It was a fantastic event that filled our school with laughter, spirit, and even some spontaneous dancing!”

    February 20, 2018 • Community Highlights, Entertainment Australia • Views: 226

  • Pete Hammond is Guest Speaker at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

    On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Deadline film critic and reporter, Pete Hammond, joined New York Film Academy (NYFA) students for a Q & A at the Los Angeles campus. NYFA Director of the Q & A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Hammond has worked as a contributor for Variety, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.

    Laiter began the evening by asking Hammond how he got his start in the industry.

    It turns out Hammond didn’t set out to be a journalist. He just knew he wanted to be in the film industry. As an NBC Page, Hammond began working his way up the ladder. From page, he was promoted to a children’s television writer. Soon after, he became a researcher at Entertainment Tonight. From there he moved to the The Arsenio Hall Show, worked on Access Hollywood, and finally, Hammond created the entertainment news program Extra.

    With the Oscars just around the corner, students were curious to know more about the inside politics of the Academy.  One student wanted to know about the possibility of a shake-up at this year’s Oscars. “Looking at the statistics,” he began, “No film has won Best Film without first being nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay.” Three Billboards hasn’t been nominated for Best Director, but it has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The student wanted to know if Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri could take home the grand prize.   

    Hammond was impressed and jokingly asked the student if he was looking for work. “Your predictions are spot on. This is what I’ve been writing about for the past couple of years.”

    Hammond said that only three times in Oscar’s history has a film won Best Picture that had not been nominated for Best Director. Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for Argo, though he did win the Director’s Guild Award later that year. Driving Miss Daisy director Bruce Beresford and Grand Hotel director Edmund Goulding were not nominated, either. “The odds are statistically against Three Billboards but I think it has a shot because of the preferential ballot.”

    Hammond explained that when voting for the Oscars, Academy members number all of the nominees from their favorite to their least favorite. That numbering system can have a huge impact on the final turnout. If enough members place Three Billboards as a three or higher, it could mean a win.

    Hammond also noted a new trend over the past five years: Four out of the five Best Picture winners didn’t see their director rewarded, but all of their scripts did win Best Picture. In looking at the history of the Oscars, this trend is very rare.  

    Of course, students also wanted to pick Hammond’s brain about his personal opinion on the 2017 lineup of films. Hammond was particularly impressed with the stamina of Get Out. A film released in February usually isn’t in contention for the Oscars a year after it’s release. In fact, the last Best Picture nominee to have a February release was another thriller film, Silence of the Lambs, in 1991.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Pete Hammond for taking the time to speak with our students. The Oscars air on Sunday, March 4, 2018, on NBC.  You can read Hammond’s film reviews here.

  • New York Film Academy Alum Made Head of Development at October Films

    New York Film Academy alum Louis Mole has been promoted to Head of Development US at production company October Films, along with colleague Matt Dewar, who’s been made Head of Development UK.

    Mole enrolled in NYFA’s 1-Year Documentary Program, chaired by Andrea Swift, in September 2011 at our New York City campus. In the program, Mole learned to conceive, pitch, produce, direct, and edit various types of documentary shorts, as well as gain experience as cinematographer, sound recordist and assistant camera.

    Of his time at NYFA, Mole said in 2013: “You come out of the program with the fundamental expertise of every single aspect of making a film – which is so unique.”

    Mole put the education to good use, heading to Singapore after graduation and writing three episodes for the docuseries Asian Swindlers. He then joined October Films in 2014 within their London development team, and later came back to the Big Apple when he transferred to the New York office of October Films.

    October Films is an award-winning, fast-growing production company based in the US and UK that focuses on independent content from a variety of genres — including documentaries, dramas, and entertainment and reality programs.

    Some of their recent projects include Eight Days That Made Rome, Dangerous Borders, Annie: Out of the Ashes, Motorheads, and From Russia To Iran: Crossing The Wild Frontier. October Films also has series in production for the BBC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, the Science Channel, and Channel 4.

    Before his promotion to Head of Development, Mole worked on multiple projects for October Films, including Mygrations for the National Geographic Channel, Trailblazers for Discover Channel, and a seven-part series for Lifetime.

    Louis Mole has also paid it forward to newer students at the New York Film Academy, speaking with them as a guest lecturer, and offering his solid expertise.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Louis Mole on his well-earned success, and looks forward to seeing where his career heads next!

    February 9, 2018 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 498

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

    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.

  • New York Film Academy Alum Writes For Military Blog We Are The Mighty

    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    NYFA Veteran Students with Col. Jack Jacobs (NYFA Chair of Veteran Advancement Program)

    Everybody knows by now that the Internet is filled with countless blogs, from globally famous media companies to ones covering even the tiniest of niches. But there’s at least one blog that’s doing great work serving an often overlooked yet large and vitally important demographic—the United States military community.

    The blog, We Are The Mighty, is for veterans, servicemen and women, and their families, and covers everything from military news to pop culture, with both thoughtfully penned articles and silly, amusing listicles. Overall, WATM’s mission statement is “Celebrating military service with stories that inspire,” but in doing so, it’s also provided a way for the community to congregate, communicate, and share their ideas and views through its site and social media.

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alum Tim Kirkpatrick

    Tim Kirkpatrick is one of the writers for We Are The Mighty, and has already built an impressive portfolio of articles. Kirkpatrick is a Navy veteran, having entered as a Hospital Corpsman in 2007. In the fall of 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.

    After coming back stateside, Kirkpatrick enrolled at the New York Film Academy and earned his AFA degree in filmmaking from our Los Angeles campus. Honing his skills even further, Kirkpatrick followed his filmmaking education with NYFA’s 8-Week Screenwriting workshop.

    Putting those writing skills to good use, Kirkpatrick has written multiple blog pieces for We Are The Mighty, including “6 of the Funniest Comedic Military Sketches Ranked” and “5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Navy Medal of Honor.”

    One of his most recent pieces is about the New York Film Academy itself, highlighting the Academy’s relationship to the Military and veteran community. As Kirkpatrick mentions in his article, “At any given time, NYFA caters to over 200 veterans in the student body and the school takes pride in putting a camera in their hands on the first day of class,” while also adding that NYFA has enrolled over 1500 veterans and dependents of veterans in total.

    The Military and veteran community is an important part of the NYFA family. Kirkpatrick mentions in his article the Academy’s V.S.A., or Veteran Student Association, where vets from different branches of the armed forces come together over their shared love of film and the visual arts.

    Kirkpatrick also shouts out the venerable Colonel Jack Jacobs, who in addition to being a Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.

    The Military and the film industry are a more natural pairing than some may suspect. Kirkpatrick writes, “As in the Military, the film industry uses a precise chain of command for its operational purposes, so vets feel right at home on set — hierarchy and order (and yes, even paperwork) have been branded into their solid work ethic.”

    You can check out Tim Kirkpatrick and the other writers at We Are The Mighty here.

    January 26, 2018 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1306

  • New York Film Academy Alum Receives International Film Festival Manhattan Award

    Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses

    Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Jameelah Rose del Prado Lineses knows first-hand how much hard work goes into making a film—which makes her Honorable Mention at 2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan all the more rewarding. In October, after screening her documentary “The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah,” Jameelah was the proud recipient of the IFFM’s Film Festival Director Louie Award Honorable Mention.

    This isn’t Jameelah’s first award, either. Her previous documentaries, “Historic Jeddah” and “Our Journey to Hijaz” have also garnered significant praise from multiple festivals in the last several years.

    2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan

    2017’s International Film Festival Manhattan

    A recurring theme in her work is the challenge women face while living in Saudi Arabia. The uphill battle women face, especially in filmmaking, has helped focus her vision and strengthen her voice.

    Jameelah first attended the New York Film Academy’s 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop in June 2011, before enrolling two months later in the 1-Year Filmmaking program at the New York City campus. There, Jameelah was given hands-on training with state-of-the-art film equipment and taught the skills necessary for pre-production through post-production.

    This intensive education prepared Jameelah for a career in filmmaking.“My instructors at NYFA ensured their students after graduation are already well-rounded and equipped to work in any film department,” stated Jameelah.

    Even after making several documentaries and garnering numerous honors, Jameelah still applies the training she received at NYFA. “I made sure that I took down notes for every class,” said Jameelah, adding, “I still have all my notes until now, and I review it at times when I need a refresher.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Jameelah on her Honorable Mention for “The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah,” and looks forward to the important stories she will tell in the future!

    The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah

    The Lifestyles of Expats in Jeddah

    January 18, 2018 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2510

  • Packed House For New York Film Academy Gold Coast Screening

    NYFA May 2017 Diploma of Filmmaking End of Year Screening & Graduation

    For New York Film Academy Gold Coast’s May 2017 Diploma Filmmaking students, the holidays didn’t just represent the end of 2017, but the end of a year of learning, training and artistry. On the 21st of December, the group held their graduation at Event Cinema Pacific Fair, along with the End of Year Screening of their final films.

    With a packed house of friends and family, the group of talented, passionate filmmaking students were able to share their achievements in a tangible way, by showcasing the films their vision and hard work made manifest. By having a full theatre audience and seeing their final films up on a big screen, the students got a taste of what their future careers could look like. Being inspired and surrounded by loved ones, the filmmakers were able to celebrate the holidays and their accomplishments of 2017 all at once.

    In addition to gaining vital filmmaking skills, learning by doing, and applying them to their work, the students’ time at NYFA was valuable in other ways. Filmmaking lecturer Trevor Hawkins elaborated, “What is apparent—apart from learning the art and craft of filmmaking, after spending the year working on each others’ films—the students have formed bonds and connections that will continue on into their professional filmmaking careers.”

    NYFA May 2017 Diploma of Filmmaking End of Year Screening & Graduation

    NYFA May 2017 Diploma of Filmmaking End of Year Screening & Graduation

    Indeed, forming relationships with colleagues is just as important to the collaborative art of making movies as the practical skills needed to bring them to life. While this is just the beginning of their careers, the students were already showing off their distinct talents. Each of their final films portrayed their own unique voice, and demonstrated just how much they’ve grown since starting the program in May.

    Hawkins added, “We wish them all the best and look forward to all their future projects.” The New York Film Academy congratulates the students on their films and a job well done!

  • Time’s Up and #MeToo Dominate the 2018 Golden Globes

    Oprah

    Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globe Awards. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

    This year’s Golden Globe Awards was clearly different from years past, and not because it was the 75th anniversary ceremony. Nearly all women in attendance, and many of the men, wore all black in a sign of solidarity for the Time’s Up initiative — a response to the gender inequality and sexual harassment prevalent in both the film industry and society as a whole.

    A very public groundswell of support for the movement started after initial reports of sexual harassment came out against megaproducer Harvey Weinstein last year. Since then, more and more women and victims of sexual assault are coming forward and being heard after decades of an institutional culture that allowed sexual assault and discrimination to flourish. In addition to accusations against numerous prominent figures in the media, politics, and elsewhere, additional gender inequalities are also being placed front and center — including a sizable gender wage gap and the disproportionately small number of women represented both in Hollywood and political positions of power.

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    After #MeToo made clear just how many women are affected by these injustices, Time’s Up was started to take specific actions to work towards finally reversing this trend. Along with the call for women to wear black on the Golden Globes red carpet, Time’s Up is advocating for laws that will punish businesses tolerating harassment, working to balance gender parity in the industry, and starting a legal defense fund to support lower-income women seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

    The Red Carpet at this year's Golden Globes

    The Red Carpet at this year’s Golden Globes
    (Getty)

    Wearing black wasn’t a fashion statement. It quickly became apparent to everyone watching the televised Golden Globes on Jan. 7 that the conversation and tone of the night would be dominated by a cause too important to be sidelined, even in the height of Hollywood’s yearly awards season. Several individual moments stuck out from the night that revealed just how deeply both gender inequality and the urgency to correct it run in the entertainment industry’s most powerful circles. Some of these moments include:

    • Talk show host and this year’s emcee Seth Meyers delivered a straightforward opening monologue in support of Time’s Up and the women of Hollywood, while also acknowledging that as a straight white man, his voice wasn’t the most important in the room.
    • While live during an E! Network red carpet interview, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing pointed out that E! was also guilty of a significant wage gap between men and women.
    • When presenting the Best Director award, Natalie Portman made sure to add in the short but poignant adjective “all-male” before listing this year’s nominees. This is especially noteworthy considering Greta Gerwig — who wasn’t nominated — directed the evening’s Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) award winner, “Lady Bird.” (Gerwig was nominated for Best Screenplay, however, and the film picked up two acting nominations and a Best Actress win for Saoirse Ronan.)

     

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    • Many women invited social activists as their guests to the ceremony, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, eschewing the typical tradition of bringing a significant other or relative — which has sparked its own controversy:
    • In addition to wearing black, many of the attendees and presenters displayed Time’s Up pins in support of the movement.
    • The HBO drama “Big Little Lies” dominated the television categories with a cast of mostly women playing complex female characters with nuanced storylines — something that shouldn’t be all that rare, but sadly is.
    • Entertainment icon and living legend Oprah Winfrey was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award — the Globes’ version of a Lifetime Achievement Award — becoming the first woman of color to receive the honor. Winfrey’s acceptance speech roused the room and was a powerful moment in a night of powerful moments, sparking a flurry of trending hashtags and fan speculation about a 2020 presidential run. Winfrey was clearly aware of her platform and influence and focused many of her words on speaking truth to power, the vital importance of a free press, and the significant role diverse role models play for children growing up in a world dominated by faces that do not resemble their own. As an example, she used her own personal experience seeing Sidney Poitier win the Academy Award for “Lillies of the Field.”

     

    These are just some specific instances of a much broader mood and drive dominating the culture right now. As an institution that prepares students for careers in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the New York Film Academy is especially receptive to Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement. Many of the Golden Globes viewers — and even some nominees, like Issa Rae — were students, alumni, and faculty members.

    In 2013, the New York Film Academy researched gender inequality in the film industry and presented its data with an infographic that plainly showed just how serious the problem is. In the intervening years since that infographic was first published, gender inequality has not improved in the film industry. In 2017, Forbes released their annual list of highest-paid actors and actresses. The top 14 were all men, with Emma Stone ranked as the highest-paid actress at #15. A 2016 study found that women — roughly half the population — comprised only 28.7% of all speaking roles in films. Additionally, only 18% of films represented a balanced cast (half the speaking characters being female).

    The New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse body of students, encouraging artists from any number of backgrounds to collaborate and bring together their distinct, personal visions in order to create even stronger, more meaningful stories. Indeed, in 2017 more than half of NYFA’s students were women — a hopeful sign of the industry’s future.

    It goes without saying that there is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of changes that need to be made to both the entertainment industry and the contemporary culture it inhabits. As Oprah Winfrey said in her acceptance speech, telling stories and speaking truth to power is one important way to help bring about these changes. The New York Film Academy encourages those who were previously afraid to use their voice to tell their stories, and to be loud as possible — the time is now.

    • "Big Little Lies" at the Golden Globes

      “Big Little Lies” at the Golden Globes (Photo by @Ramona_Rosales)

    January 10, 2018 • Entertainment News • Views: 548

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

    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.

  • Harper’s Bazaar Profiles New York Film Academy Alum Khadijah Kudsi

    Khadijah Kudsi

    Copyright © Harper’s Bazaar Arabia 2017

    With the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival coming to a close this December, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia profiled six pioneering female filmmakers from the Middle East, including New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Khadijah Kudsi. The in-depth piece about the six directors not only celebrates their hard work and achievements, but highlights the cultural shift taking place in the 21st Century Middle East, and subsequent progress women have made in playing a larger role in society—including the arts.

    NYFA alum Khadijah Kudsi grew up in Saudi Arabia and was always artistic and interested in storytelling. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “I went to New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi in 2014. I only meant to go for four weeks, but that turned into eight, which led into a year and then into a whole career. I did a diploma in filmmaking and then I started working on short films and writing.”

    After graduating from the Academy, Kudsi quickly found work for a Chinese television channel. As her career has progressed, Kudsi likes to focus on stories from Abu Dhabi and the Middle East, including one film that’s premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and another currently in production focusing on Dana Al Ali—the first Emirati woman to climb Mt. Everest.

    Kudsi continued, “I think it’s important to have ties to this region and highlight positive stories coming out of it. But it’s not always easy—the funding is hard. As is finding the right producer and managing your time being a mother and a working woman.”

    Festivals in the Middle East have grown in importance as more and more voices from the region are making themselves heard. The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) first launched in 2004 with 76 films and 13,000 attendees. During its initial six-day run, acting legend Omar Sharif was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival has steadily grown since then, with over 60,000 admissions to its 2016 event. This year marked the 14th Annual Dubai International Film Festival and presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Irrfan Khan and Sir Patrick Stewart.

    As the region modernizes and women are being given more and more freedom, their roles in society are becoming more prominent as well. For Middle Eastern women working in the arts, that uphill struggle feels all the more real, considering the industry has been historically unequal not just in the region but around the world. Kudsi told Harper’s Bazaar, “I have four children, whereas most of the crew you work with on set are single or have no kids. They don’t understand when you say you need to wrap by a certain time because I need to go see my kids.”

    The New York Film Academy strives to give filmmakers and artists of all kinds a voice, and prides itself on its diverse student body. By learning and working hands-on together, students find their differences are a strength—learning and sharing experiences not just from the school but from one another. If you’re interested in filmmaking or the visual arts, you can find more information about NYFA’s programs here.

    NYFA has committed itself to giving aspiring storytellers in the Middle East an education they can build their careers on. The New York Film Academy is thrilled to see Khadijah Kudsi recognized for her inspiring work and career, and looks forward to the stories she will tell in the years to come. “I love the rawness in the stories here,” professed Kudsi, “and we have so much to talk about.”

    December 27, 2017 • Abu Dhabi, Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1164