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  • NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Shoots ‘I Love Us’ Now Available on Amazon Prime

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    Instructor of Filmmaking and Cinematographer at the New York Film Academy’s NYC campus, Hernán Toro, recently shot a new feature-length film, I Love Us (2021). Released in select movie theaters across several cities in the United States, I Love Us is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. 

    Directed by and starring Danny A. Abeckaser and written by Kosta Kondilopoulos, the film follows the story of a criminal (Danny Abeckaser) born into a crime syndicate, who must choose between his love for a single mother (Katie Cassidy) and his career in heisting. In order to leave his past, he must commit one last act of crime to offer his new family the life they deserve. 

    Toro discusses his artistic approach toward filming, “the approach for the Cinematography was basically pragmatic and came down to the story. I wanted to make Los Angeles look bright even when dark, when things are being cooked, when drama is taking place, families are breaking, thieves are trying to survive and vindicate, bad guys support each other–it all looks sunny. Only the heist is dark, because they provoked a blackout to mute alarms and surveillance cameras.”

    The film was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which posed unique challenges for the crew. Toro explained how the team managed to continue their work, while taking precaution for the actors’ and crew members’ health and safety. According to Toro, “the COVID restrictions were very demanding, because not only had it taken a large chunk of the budget, but it stole away time and the ease of filming on set. After the budget cut–due to the change in the regulations in California–we had 15 days to shoot the entire film. We conducted PCR testing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and had to visit the COVID station every morning to scan a QR code to then complete a form, have our temperatures taken, and take a fresh set of masks. On set, we were required to wear double masks at all times as well as a face shield when actors were on set.

    With a career spanning over 20 years, Toro has shot over 20 feature-length films. His portfolio of work includes feature-length movies, music videos, and commercials for top brands including Toyota, Lipton, NyQuil, Astor, Revlon, Nestea, Presidente, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi. Toro is an Instructor of five years at the NYFA New York City campus and has continued to work in the industry filming over 800 TV spots. 

    As a member of the NYFA faculty, Toro collaborated with other instructors on a multitude of projects. Toro was the cinematographer for a popular production Hamlet/Horatio (2021), a feature film directed by fellow NYFA Filmmaking Instructor Paul Warner

    Originally born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Toro was a student of advertising before leaving home for England, where he attended The London Film School. Upon his return to Venezuela, he became one of the most sought-after cinematographers in the country. He currently lives in New York City, where he has resided since 1995. 

    Toro is also an accomplished still photographer, with his work shown as part of a dozen photographic exhibitions, photos published in magazines, catalogs, and three architectural books. From a young age, his talent was encouraged by his father. While looking back on his childhood, Toro recalls a fond memory of his father’s influence on his passion for filmmaking, “I’ve loved making films since I was a little kid, helping my father make home movies on his Bolex 16mm camera. He taught me how to interpret the f.stop for the lens by reading light off of a light meter, so I could give him the aperture and help him not miss a shot. I have pictures of that, and I look around 5 years of age. I still have that light meter.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Hernán Toro for the success of I Love Us, now available on Amazon Prime.

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    October 8, 2021 • Faculty Highlights • Views: 392

  • Filmmaking Instructor at NYFA Tackles Queerness in Shakespeare Adaptation ‘HAMLET/HORATIO’

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    Paul Warner, Director and Filmmaking Instructor with NYFA, released feature-length film, HAMLET/HORATIO, available on Amazon Prime. A collaborative effort with writer David Vando, the film is a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic “Hamlet.” 

    HAMLET/HORATIO centers around the grieving producer and main character, Hamlet (played by NYFA Alum Andrew Burdette), who is now head of a film production company following the death of his father. His right-hand man and director, Horatio (played by NYFA Alum Themo Melikidze) captures his close friend’s pain in an enduring promise to tell Hamlet’s story through the production of a film. 

    While the work includes all major themes from the original play, Warner takes a unique approach in explaining the relationship between the close companions. An exploration of their relationship with undertones of gender-fluidity and sexuality, HAMLET/HORATIO captures the essence of the characters’ closeness as a series of dream-like scenes with soft-focused camera work and a series of fourth-wall breaks. 

    Quoted in an article by Washington Blade which touches on the theme of sexuality in the adaptation, “There’s a tremendous amount of exploration of gender fluidity in his work,” says Warner, “There’s never a label on it, but it permeates Shakespeare. There are a lot of characters who fall in love with the soul of the person, rather than the gender.”

    The film captures Hamlet’s search for fulfillment in front of a backdrop of fascism, with characters and visuals resembling a previous White House Administration. Whilst battling the corruption of his surroundings, Hamlet sacrifices his own life in the arms of his companion, Horatio, who then pledges to capture his story. 

    According to a Signal Horizon Magazine review, “The two light up near each other literally and figuratively. Beautiful lighting and soft-focused camera work highlight the friend’s interactions.”

    HAMLET/HORATIO won a Film Jury Award for Best Feature at the 2020 edition Film Festivals To Go (FFTG). The film will be available for viewing on all platforms next month. 

    Amazon Prime Film Reviews: 

    “This film has already won many awards in the film festival circuits and for obvious reasons! All of the acting performances are great and this is such a unique, modern take of a Shakespearian classic. Definitely one of the best Indie films I’ve seen. If you are a fan of classics with a twist or artistic and unique indie films, then this is definitely for you! I would love to see them make a version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream like this as well. Bravo!”

    “I love this film! The best thing is you do not have to have a Shakespeare background to understand the story. The movie is beautiful to look at with an outstanding score. I can not believe how great the production value is for this type of indy film. Do yourself a favor and rent this film!”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Paul Warner as well as alumni Andrew Burdette and Themo Melikidze for the success of HAMLET/HORATIO, now available on Amazon Prime.

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    September 15, 2021 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 293

  • NYFA Alum Bob Ahmed’s ‘Tikkun Olam’ Tackles Homelessness with Humanity in Award-Winning Short

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    Bob Ahmed opens his interview at the 2021 SEEMA Summit with a translation from a poem written by a famous Indian poet, Mirza Ghalib: “To be human is easy, but to be humane is almost impossible.” Thus was born the inspiration for his award-winning short Tikkun Olam (2021), which tackles the subject of homelessness in Washington, D.C.

    Tikkun Olam poster

    Image Source: IMDb

    For anyone who has lived in the nation’s capital or is familiar with the city’s history of poverty, you may not be surprised by the alarming number of homeless, an issue that plagues veterans and civilians alike. Tikkun Olam is a poignant film that revolves around the love and humanity of an eight-year-old boy who encounters a homeless veteran. 

    Based on Ahmed’s own experiences while living in Washington, D.C., The Daily Times described the film as an “urgently needed story of hope in our broken world today” with “blistering performances”. Views & News describes the film as “a rare, polished gem” with “riveting performances”. Voice of America calls it “a unique film on an important topic”.

    Director and NYFA Filmmaking Alum, Bob Ahmed

    Director and NYFA Filmmaking Alum, Bob Ahmed | Photo courtesy of Arielle Lewis

    Tikkun Olam won almost universal acclaim garnering success on the festival circuit where the director’s choice to focus on his actors, putting them in a position to evoke truly intense emotional responses was rewarded. The film won ‘Best Short Film – Teens’ at the 22nd ShorTS International Film Festival in Trieste, Italy in July 2021. The short is also an official selection for the 35th Washington DC International Film Festival and the 27th Sedona International Film Festival, which is ranked amongst the “Top 10 film festivals in the world.”

    “I studied at the New York Film Academy and that is where I really got inspired to make film,says Ahmed in an interview with South Asian icon, Aroon Shivdasani, at the 2021 SEEMA Summit. 

    Ahmed believes his role as the director is not to evoke emotion from his actors, but rather to remove the pressure from the set and create an environment in which the actors can create someone truly special on camera. 

    This approach with his actors which encourages them to do what they believe they would do in a scene (even if slightly different from the script) reaps rewards as the short film was also selected for the 21st D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival and selected for the 10th D.C. South Asian Film Festival. 

     

    The director is working on a new film, Johnny & The Golden Gifts about a young boy in Washington D.C, whose life spirals out of control because of a personal tragedy. The story explores themes of forgiveness as a solution to ongoing challenges in modern American Society. 

    Considered both a Director and Screenwriter, Ahmed also wrote, Lost in DC, about a Pakistani man who visits Washington, D.C. and runs into a former high school friend. The two men spend the next several days in each other’s company, learning more about the other’s path in life following their school days. The script is currently a finalist at the 52nd Nashville Film Festival, an Academy Award Qualifying Film Festival. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates Bob Ahmed for his success and looks forward to the upcoming Johnny & The Golden Gifts.

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    August 11, 2021 • Acting, Alumni Events, Filmmaking • Views: 1474

  • Q&A With NYFA Alum Abdulrahman Al Madani on Filming ‘The Monster’ and Recent Work

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    NYFA Filmmaking alum, Abdulrahman Al Madani shares his personal experience tackling challenges in the filmmaking industry with anecdotes from his own recent work, as well as advice for emerging filmmakers. Al Madani wrote and produced the successful short film, Laymoon, and closing his newest project, The Monster. 

    Al Madani is a graduate of the One-Year Filmmaking program at the NYFA Abu Dhabi campus from 2014. 

    Abdulrahman Al Madani

    Filmmaker Abdulrahman Al Madani

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): What projects have you worked on over the past several years? Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?

    Abdulrahman Al Madani (AM): My work has comprised of short films, documentaries, music videos, and public awareness campaigns. 

    Since graduating from NYFA Abu Dhabi in 2014, I have written, directed, and produced two short films including Laymoon (2019), which was a recipient of Sharjah Art Foundation’s Production Grant, and The Monster (2021). 

    Laymoon was screened all over the Arabian Gulf, including other Arab countries like Lebanon, North Africa, and Europe such as France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. The film is currently playing on Etihad Airways flights. 

    My latest short film, The Monster, has completed post-production recently and is currently being submitted to film festivals worldwide. 

    NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project?

    AM: I started writing The Monster over a year ago. Once the pandemic hit, I pushed myself to develop the script further. By the end of the year, I was ready to go into production and wrapped filming in February 2021. The film is a drama revolving around a young mother named Hessa who escapes her abusive husband, only to find herself pressured by her estranged mother to succumb to his abuse. 

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

    AM: Being in NYFA was an eye-opening experience in terms of giving me insight into various aspects of production, which allows me to be knowledgeable of everybody’s work on set. Time management, speaking to actors, and writing three-dimensional characters are some of the most important lessons I learned in NYFA which I continue to find useful to this day. In addition, NYFA helped build a filmmaking community that makes it easier to find a group of people you can trust and help one another. 

    NYFA: Are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

    AM: I am currently focused on distributing The Monster to festivals worldwide as well as developing my first feature script. 

    NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming NYFA students? 

    AM: Allow yourself to make mistakes and do not be afraid to experiment. Learn to take feedback with a pinch of salt; everyone will have an opinion about your work. Making films is the best film school, and you will keep learning as you go. Challenge yourself with each project because being stuck in your comfort zone is the death of creativity.

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    July 30, 2021 • Acting, Filmmaking • Views: 1065

  • Celebrating the Graduates of NYFA’s Moscow Journalism Summer School (JSS)

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    Last Friday, Evgeniia Vlasova and I wrapped up a three-day online follow-up to last August’s Moscow Journalism Summer School (JSS). We ended early afternoon New York time, early evening Moscow time and after midnight Siberia time. About two-thirds of the JSS Summer attendees participated at some point over the three days. Some had personal obligations that precluded them from attending. One is a physician, once again treating desperately ill COVID-19 patients.

    Each of the workshop participants produced a story on the theme “2020: The Year No One Expected.” While they all had a common subject, each approached the assignment in a unique way. Genia and I were very impressed by the maturity of the presentations. They were definitely better than what they did last August, although those were pretty good too.

    Here is a link to one of the stories. It is indicative of the enterprise and hard work of the program participants. Below is a “graduation photo” from last Friday.

    We had two guest speakers. Jeff Platt is a general assignment reporter in Bakersfield, California. We invited him to talk about practicing digital journalism when you have limited resources. The other guest was Lara Gato, a NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduate and a Producer with CBSN, the digital streaming service of CBS News. We discussed the differences in producing stories for broadcast/cable television and digital platforms.

    Gillian Kemmerer, Host of The Faceoff & Ice Diaries, guest lectured this Summer and tweeted out her support of the incredible NYFA Moscow Broadcast Journalism students.

    One of the differences between August and January was a more pronounced emphasis on career development. For the final session, each participant answered four questions:

    1. Where do you want to be in one year?
    2. Where do you want to be in three years?
    3. What do you have to do to reach these goals?
    4. What is one concrete step that you can take in the next two months to advance your career?

    These folks gave up part of their Christmas vacations to attend this workshop. I think it is indicative of the value they assign to the Moscow JSS. We ended by asking them to recommend friends and colleagues who would be suitable candidates for the NYFA Moscow JSS II.

    In July, four of the JSS I participants will be in New York for four weeks to study at NYFA. All travel, housing, meal, and tuition costs will be paid by the U.S. State Department.

    In August 2021, we will be holding JSS II. Ideally in Moscow, otherwise online. It too will be fully funded by the State Department.

    For more information on NYFA’s Broadcast Journalism School, click here.

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  • NYFA South Beach Alum Michael Bradway on How His Modeling and Acting Career Go Hand-in-Hand

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    From working with globally recognized brands like Champion and U.S. Polo Assn. to working on Miami-based short films Hi8, My Dear Delilah, Watch Me, and Piece, NYFA alum Michael Bradway is booked and busy, focusing on both an acting and modeling career that he explains compliments both disciplines. 

    (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    Bradway grew up in Boca Raton, Fl with his mom and two sisters. Bradway remembers first being intrigued by modeling and entertainment when his twin sister Natalie was approached at their local mall one day by a talent manager. “Slowly, one opportunity led to another,” he shared. “However, I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until my senior year of high school when I was in the school production of Fiddler on the Roof, it was was an incredible, new experience.” That experience led Bradway to apply for NYFA’s South Beach campus to pursue a BFA in Acting for Film not long after.

    Campaign for Polo (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    “NYFA South Beach felt like the best choice being a hands-on acting for film program, where I could also study theatre,” Bradway said. “Being at NYFA South Beach for the past three years has taught me so much about acting and filmmaking. For example, hitting your mark, being in the moment, and learning about numerous actors and playwrights. We took editing and film craft classes to get a better understanding and gain more respect for the filmmaking side of a project too. One thing I learned at NYFA, that will stick with me forever, is to always be the most prepared person in the room and there is no excuse not to be.”

    Pursuing acting and modeling has been a helpful experience for Bradway, who recommends that actors look into modeling opportunities to improve their craft. “It’s a great way to explore a different style of art and meet people in various industries,” he explained. “Agencies hold open calls online with instructions, so depending on where you’re located I suggest looking up the agencies in your area.” 

    Bradway is currently signed with SELECT Model Management and has booked multiple campaigns for famous brands like Champion, U.S. Polo Assn., Verizon, and Brightline Train. “Brightline Train was definitely one of my favorites because of all the running we had to do through the train, in a park, and they even created their own mock highway for us to run through too,” revealed Bradway.

    Champion campaign (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    When asked about whether he prefers acting or modeling, the NYFA alum explained that both creative pursuits have given him so much joy. “I’ve been so fortunate to have worked with incredible people and companies worldwide,” he shared. “I don’t necessarily have a favorite between the two. Acting has actually helps me with modeling and vice versa. Modeling can be very interactive, even without having to say any lines. You’re capturing a moment with each photo taken and most of the time the company/photographer wants those moments to look natural. Acting has definitely helped me with that skill.”

    In addition to modeling helping his acting skills and acting helping his modeling, Bradway also shared that NYFA South Beach campus’ close-knit community helped him grow in his craft and build a community of faculty and students alike. “it’s a building full of amazingly talented and genuinely wholehearted people who are currently working in the industry,” he gushed. “They are funny, hardworking and all have the same goal in mind; to tell their stories. There are so many stories to tell which is why more people should be exploring acting and filmmaking. Many hands are involved in a single film with a vast amount of different jobs, so there is something for everyone.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank New York Film Academy South Beach alum Michael Bradway for taking the time to share more about what he has learned from modeling and acting and how both careers have helped him grow in the industry.

     

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    November 23, 2020 • Acting, South Beach, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2193

  • NYFA Presents: The Rock The Vote Rally 2020

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    A rousing group of New York Film Academy students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses (New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach) participated in a Rock the Vote Virtual Rally yesterday. The Rally included special guest, Tony-nominated actor Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s RENT, Les Misérables, The Rocky Horror Show ), who shared stories of her immigrant family background, becoming a U.S citizen, and the imperative to vote. 

    NYFA Producing alum Lisa Cortes (producer of the Academy Award-winning Precious, recent Emmy Award-winner for The Apollo, and producer/co-director of the just-released Stacey Abrams documentary All In: The Fight For Democracy) spoke of the importance of voting in light of the long history of voter suppression in the U.S. In the making of All In: The Fight For Democracy during the COVID pandemic, Cortes talked about how her NYFA Producing education proved so valuable in pulling together the project during such challenging times. Attendees were treated to a special viewing of the All In trailer and a special musical clip of Janelle Monae performing the closing title song from the film. 

    Also joining via specially recorded video clips was Nikki Renée Daniels from “Hamilton” and Shoshana Bean from “Wicked”,  A special “Get Out The Vote” tribute by Lin Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton capped the Rally. 

    The event was co-produced by NYFA Producing Chair Neal Weisman and Chair of the Musical Theatre Department, Kristy Cates. 

    “Our sincerest hope was not only to invigorate the NYFA community to become excited about and committed to voting, but to inspire everyone in attendance to reach out to their circles and do the same.” – Kristy Cates

    NYFA’s Rock The Vote efforts include a Zoom room every Tuesday from 1 p.m. ET – 4 p.m. ET that offers voter registration and mail-in ballot assistance for NYFA students, faculty, and staff from all three campuses. Please stop in and check your registration, apply for absentee ballots, etc. Further information is available on the NYFA Voter Resources page.

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  • NYFA BFA Producing Alum Thandiwe Mlauli Founds South Africa’s First Woman-Led Animation Studio

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    BFA Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli has announced an upcoming project called SOLA. It will be South Africa’s first independently produced and women-led afro-animation, with Mlauli acting as producer, director and showrunner through her animation company Studio Yezi.

    The South African native, who had been told before that there was no audience for afro-anime, decided to take matters into her own hands. “I knew that [not having an audience] was not true. I had friends both Black and Brown, who were interested in seeing representation in animation,” she shared. “I decided to arm myself with the knowledge I would need to make this dream happen and Studio Yezi is the fruit of this decision.”

    Founded in 2019 in Johannesburg, Studio Yezi (short for/inspired by “inkanyezi,” which means “star” in Zulu) aims to create economic opportunities for Black and Brown people in the animation industry, as well as creating accurate representation on screen.

    Studio Yezi, founded by NYFA Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli

    Studio Yezi has recently launched the campaign #MakeSolaHappen, a crowdfunding initiative to develop SOLA, a story about a magical young girl who awakens in a world where magic is considered dangerous. Set in 22nd century South Africa, the film would also reimagine a world where the country would have been colonized by the Spanish instead of the British. The short film is based on the TV series that Studio Yezi is also developing.

    Founder and CEO of Yezi Studios & NYFA producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli

    “We’re crowdfunding to help us get to the finish line,” explained Mlauli. “We’ve gathered a team of really dope creatives who can definitely bring a product worth talking about. If anybody is interested in supporting us, or becoming a producer, please visit our crowdfunding campaign.

    The film, still in development, is a project that Mlauli hopes will “inspire other young artists to invest in their dreams and pursue them, despite whatever resistance they experience.” The studio CEO also noted how this is a project where more people can recognize Africa for its talents and the people. “We want to create a hub where people refer to us as much as they refer to other places in the world.”

    For other creatives, Mlauli shares that it’s imperative to keep focus. “Remind yourself, as often as you can, why you chose the career path that you chose. When you focus on what you love, and give yourself a chance to dedicate yourself to your dreams, the world will open up for you. I’m an example of that.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Producing alum Thandiwe Mlauli for sharing more about her upcoming film SOLA and the vision of her newly formed company, Yezi Studios. To learn more about Yezi Studios and the campaign to develop SOLAclick here.

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    September 24, 2020 • International Diversity, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1430

  • New York Film Academy Named One of The Top Alternative Film Schools by ‘The Hollywood Reporter’

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) has been recognized as a top alternative film school by Hollywood Reporter for New York and Los Angeles. This is not the first time NYFA has been recognized by Hollywood Reporter; the film industry news source previously listed NYFA in their Top Film Schools of 2019 and Top American Film Schools lists. NYFA was also recently named a Top Film School by Variety for its fourth consecutive year in a row.

    The Hollywood Reporter is known for being a reputable industry resource used by producers, film executives, and rising talent. Their recent announcement also highlighted and gave credit to the school’s ability to quickly adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and accommodate the needs of the student community at such a critical time across the industry

    With NYFA’s newly offered Online Workshops, students have been raving about the new model, which allows them to continue to dive into their discipline of choice and elevate their craft in a safe environment. “The online workshop is the most inspiring and innovative experience I’ve ever had,” shared a NYFA Online Workshop alum. “The instructors are helpful, charismatic, and have made the online program a major success.”

    “We were able to successfully launch NYFA’s Hands-Online Workshops at a time when aspiring artists interested in studying at NYFA must stay home to remain safe and healthy,” says NYFA President Michael Young. “We are now at the point where we are able to offer hybrid courses for our long term and degree programs, where students can continue the intensive, hands-on approach that NYFA is known for, while still being able to safely attend classes online and on campus as well as check out equipment needed to create projects.”

    NYFA Filmmaking Alum and Emmy-nominated actress Issa Rae (Photo by Erik Carter)

    The August 2020 Hollywood Reporter also featured NYFA Filmmaking alum and Emmy-nominated actress Issa Rae as the issue’s cover star. In the issue, Rae discusses her role as a Black creator and the longevity that her career can have for others to feel inspired and showcase their own stories. To read more about her profile story, click here.

    Page 10 of the August 2020 ‘Hollywood Reporter’ issue featuring NYFA alum Phyllis Tam

    NYFA saw MFA Filmmaking alum (2020) Phyllis Tam celebrated in the August 2020 issue as a finalist for the Student Academy Awards for her film Fragile Moon. The issue also featured recent NYFA Guest Speaker Beanie Feldstein as part of the newly announced cast for the upcoming Apple TV+ production of Harriet The Spy.

    NYFA is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), and is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). These accreditations extend to all NYFA campuses in the United States and overseas.

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    August 27, 2020 • Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1337

  • NYFA Alum Valéria Costa Works as Production Manager for Netflix’s ‘Sergio’ and ‘Street Food: Latin America’

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    When shooting abroad, a solid production team is essential for shooting projects in an area you may be unfamiliar with. New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum, Valéria Costa, makes it her job to ensure that foreign companies have everything they need, which is exactly what she recently did for the Netflix productions of Sergio and Street Food: Latin America.

    Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Costa came to NYFA after wanting to learn the practical side of filmmaking. “I also wanted to study abroad and improve my English,” she tells NYFA, “so I decided to apply to the MFA Filmmaking program at NYFA and kill two birds with one stone.”

    Valéria Costa (Left) on set

    Costa has since worked her way up through the ranks at production house Brazil Production Services, becoming a as a Production Manager. She has worked on multiple projects both in Brazil and in the United States including Netflix’s Hyperdrive and 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. Costa also worked on the NYC unit for the Brazilian feature film Minha Vida em Marte and on the set of the shoot for the Get to Know Me music video with Brazil’s biggest popstar, Anitta.

    Costa’s recent projects as a production manager have been with big name titles  like the Netflix film Sergio, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, starring Ana de Armas and famous Brazilian actor Wagner Moura. “It was a great experience,” shares Costa. “We had several weeks of pre-production and the challenge to build a 100+ local Rio de Janeiro crew, and served as the main members of the crews (being bilingual) to communicate between the Brazilian crew and American crew that flew to Brazil for this shoot.”

    Film poster for ‘Sergio’

    As with any production, Sergio posed many challenges for Costa and the crew. Some of those challenges included finding the right person for a certain type of shoot and transforming a whole set to resemble an entirely different decade.

    “We had an underwater scene being filmed in the Rio de Janeiro that meant we needed to bring in the best underwater camera operator in Brazil to ensure we had the best footage possible,” reveals Costa. “We also needed to make sure all scene components were true to the time period, with many written as Sergio’s flashbacks from the 70’s; everything from street signs, cars, beach wear, people’s wardrobe, accessories, and more needed to be thought through.”

    Poster for ‘Street Food: Latin America’

    Another exciting project helmed by Costa and her team was Netflix docuseries Street Food: Latin America. Costa managed the Brazil Unit for the streaming series and  reveals it was a “fulfilling experience” but also challenging overall.

    “The city of Salvador [where the shoot was taking place] is not as developed as São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, so, at some point during production, we had an issue with the equipment and we had to act very fast and put somebody on a plane to bring equipment from São Paulo for us ASAP so our schedule wasn’t affected. Everything worked out in the end and I’m very happy that people from all over the world get to know some of the best Brazilian and Latin American food.”

    Valéria Costa (Second from left) with the production crew behind the scenes of a shoot

    Costa’s job is certainly never quiet. Besides having the usual responsibilities of a Film Production Manager, she is also in charge with advising her clients on the local filming requirements of the country that they are looking to film in, while also seeking to align their expectations based on the limitations of that location.

    “There’s a Brazilian saying that I believe summarizes working in the film industry for me: ‘A rapadura é doce, mas não é mole não.’ That translates to something like, “The candy is sweet, but it’s not easy to bite. What we do is definitely not easy. You work long hours, deal with extremely tight deadlines and budget limitations, but I really love making movies and dealing with all the moving parts of a set and once you can see the final product I can guarantee that it’s worth it.”

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate MFA Filmmaking alum Valéria Costa on her recent successes for the two Netflix productions, and is excited to see what’s in store for Costa as she continues to manage productions in two different global hemispheres of the world.

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    August 6, 2020 • Filmmaking, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1216