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  • Congratulations to the Winter Class of 2018 at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate another class of graduating students.

    The end of a program is always a bittersweet time, as our students and instructors develop a strong bond over the many intense hours spent learning, practicing, and crafting projects, but before the winter class of 2018 walked across the graduation stage to accept their diplomas, the New York Film Academy celebrated all the graduates’ work with a series of final pres

    entations. The day before graduation, all students were given an opportunity to show off their work for family, friends, and entertainment professionals. Filmmaking, Documentary, Acting for Film and Cinematography students held their final screenings at the Riverside Theater and on the Warner Brothers Studios backlot. Photography students had their work displayed in galleries throughout Los Angeles. Game Design students held a game night where anyone in the school could play their games. Writing and Producing students had evenings where they could pitch their projects to industry professionals.

    The winter 2018 graduation ceremony was held at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Hollywood. The graduating class of 2018 was so large the ceremony had to be broken into two parts. Both ceremonies were standing room only. Families and friends came from all over the world.

    In his graduation speech, NYFA Instructor Mike Civille asked the students to think of their education as a gift. He said, “You come from places near and far. You have treated each other and your instructors to your fascinating stories. In this process, you have joined the great filmmakers who have also spoken to audiences about what was important to them. You have learned a new universal language. It’s young, only 100 years old. It crosses both political and cultural borders. This was the gift of the Lumiere brothers and it has traveled all the way to you. Use it wisely to tell your story.”

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

    1-Year Acting for Film

    Frederick Scott Basnight II

    Marlo Butler

    Emmanuel Pierre Cartier

    Undarga Enkhbaatar

    Isaac Wesley Fairley

    Gillian Griffin

    Terrel Mollison

    2-Year Acting for Film

    Daniel Berry

    Rodrigo Borges

    Peter Gomes

    Raymond Karago

    Tiara Donyae Murray

    Kurtis Potter

    Taraiyasi Hans Prymwaqa

    Matthew Robertson

    BFA Acting for Film

    Jazmin Hamilton

    Luis  Cordoba

    Zhiyun Zhou

    MFA Acting for Film

    Rajarshi Banerjee

    Taylor Byers

    Rebecca Cannizzaro

    Rei Alona Kennex Crossman

    Sumaia De Oliveira Radwan

    Jason Dolciani

    Anna Francisca Salles Marques Da Silva

    Craijece Lewis

    Lara Manatta Tenorio

    Jaylyn Neal

    An Thien Phan

    Leandro Luis Pineda Torres

    Aathira Rajeev

    Amber Resha Satcher

    Ke Shuai

    Eric Slaughter

    Lun Tan

    Julien Webb

    2-Year Producing

    Reginald E. Luck

    Nicole Zapata Quiles

    MFA Producing

    Johnnie Christopher Brown

    Kimbra Essex

    Xuan Liu

    Bahaguli Rehemutula

    Yosuke Sugimoto

    Bakhytzhan Urakhayev

    Liying Zhu

    BFA Screenwriting

    Zeyad Al Mutawa

    Katie Clem

    Seth Morton

    Louise Nyberg

    Patrick Kellam Lyons Stinich

    MFA Screenwriting

    Maria Androushko

    Katrina Brown

    Luis Alfredo Gonzalez

    Luke Jarret

    Harmony Kasper

    Joseph Knable

    Carmen Nelson

    Shane Redding

    Raul Ravindrakumar Sharma

    Melarissa Benedicta Sjarief

    Abigail Spencer

    Adam Tetelbaum

    Elon Washington

    MFA Photography

    Brittney Cathcart

    Monika Sedziute

    Yunzhi Wang

    MFA Documentary Filmmaking

    Hanan Higgi

    Amjad Tkroni

    Zhengyi Zhong

    MFA Game Design

    Nouf Bagazi

    Grace Ogwo

    Grettir Olafsson

    Santosh Peri

    Hetian Wang

    AFA Filmmaking

    Awana Morris

    BFA Filmmaking

    Ahmed Adil

    Hamda Al Midfa

    Ahmed Alghamdi

    Lionel Allen

    Saleh Mohammed Almalki

    Abdulaziz Almughrbi

    Faris Salah Beitar

    Danila Butovskiy

    Yujing Gao

    Yaser Hammad

    Wesley Garin Hobbs

    Lingxiao Jin

    Michael Moran

    Muhammad Raheem Sultan

    Victor Valerio

    Paulina Zamorano Castillo

    Marc Vital Guerin

    Jialei Li

    Yaonan Liu

    Topaz Peretz

    Yiding Xia

    Federico Sanna

    MA Film & Media Production

    Praveen Albert

    Oliver Berger

    Mansi Nitin Desai

    Qiqi Duan

    Hongzhi Guo

    Maryna Kovalevska

    Katlego Makhudu

    Natsumi Shibata

    Brionna Sutton

    Alessandro Turco

    Donatela Vacca

    Nihal Vasudevan

    Chuning Wang

    Ala Waznah

    Bingqi Xue

    Shipeng Yu

    MFA Filmmaking

    Khalid Ahmed Alsghair Ismail

    Roque Banos

    Siyuan Chen

    Chaaritha Dheerasinghe

    Travis Donald

    Weilun Feng

    Guoqing Fu

    Jialin Fu

    Yuanmei Ge

    Tingting Hua

    Shuntian Jiang

    Hongdon Lee

    Yixiang Li

    Hai Yao Liang

    Na Liu

    Yiwen Liu

    Jianan Ma

    Sholpan Murabuldayeva

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Guangtao Pi

    Hugo Machado Salvaterra

    George Savidis

    Zicheng Tian

    Jiewen Wang

    Qiushi Xi

    Yuanyuan Xu

    Yuan Yue

    Han Zeng

    Shiyun Zeng

    Haoruo Zhang

    Hao Zhang

    Yuqing Zhang

    Jingwei Zhou

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  • Tony Winner Jeff Marx Visits New York Film Academy

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    Jeff Marx

    Avenue Q’s Jeff Marx

    Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Jeff Marx visited the New York Film Academy at our New York City Theatre in late February, much to the delight of our Musical Theatre students.

    Marx is best known for Avenue Q, the innovative musical starring both human and puppet characters that instantly earned critical acclaim and won over audiences across the country. It went on to win three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It is currently running Off-Broadway and has toured the country and been produced in both the West End and Las Vegas.

    Before writing Avenue Q, Marx passed the New York State Bar exam, planning to be a lawyer. He met partner Robert Lopez shortly after at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, writing a spec Muppet film as a pre-cursor to their collaboration on Avenue Q. Since winning his Tony, Marx has gone on to write for the musical episode of NBC’s Scrubs, as well as songs for Bear in the Big Blue House and The Book of Pooh. He also co-wrote the theme song for Logo TV’s Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World.

    Speaking with the students of NYFA’s Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre, Marx highlighted his indirect path to Broadway stardom, mentioning that he didn’t even start writing until he was 28 years old. “The greatest thing that I can wish for you,” Marx told the audience of aspiring Broadway stars, “is hunger.” He also shared anecdotes about the making of Avenue Q.

    Jeff Marx visits NYFA

    Highlights from the @newyorkfilmacademy Instagram story featuring Jeff Marx’s visit to NYFA #PCMT

    In addition to inspiring students with his story, he also brought a special and well-received guest — puppet and star of Avenue Q, Nicky. Avenue Q’s cast of puppet characters included both rod puppets and live-hands, the latter of which are often operated simultaneously by two puppeteers. Nicky is a live-hands puppet, and students were delighted to see him in action on stage with Marx.

    Nicky wasn’t all Marx brought with him on his visit to NYFA. In addition to Nicky, he brought along his Tony Award, Broadway’s highest honor. Musical Theatre students were thrilled when Marx allowed them to hold it and pass it around — an inspiring moment for those learning at NYFA and hoping to win one of their own in the not-too-distant future.

    By the time the students had to say goodbye to Marx and Nicky, they had learned and laughed, and were extremely grateful for the generous time, energy, and inspiring words Marx brought with him to the New York Film Academy.

    Interested in joining the magical and puppet-filled world of musical theatre? Check out the programs of New York Film Academy’s Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre.

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    March 2, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre • Views: 1408

  • New York Film Academy Alum & Associate Director of Recruitment Screens Powerful Documentary “I Heart Jenny”

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    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny” at the New York Film Academy’s New York City Theatre

    “I Heart Jenny,” a heart-wrenching and beautiful documentary by producer and director Blake Babbitt, had a special screening this December at the New York Film Academy’s recently opened New York City Theatre. The film follows Babbitt’s close friend Jenny Rie Vanderlinden as she struggled with and eventually succumbed to a rare form of ovarian cancer. More importantly, the documentary focuses on the powerful positive spirit Jenny embodied, inspiring her friends, family, and eventually total strangers with her optimism and zestful love of life.

    In a piece written about Jenny, the Huffington Post wrote, “Jenny doesn’t seem terrified of this thing that is so far beyond us, this thing that none of us can now see… Instead, she’s investing her unconquerable energy in living the spectacular life she’s always lived—skiing, canyoneering, rafting, traveling and raising four amazing children—with a bit more urgency.”

    “I Heart Jenny” started documenting Jenny’s journey over a year after her diagnosis, and followed her right up until her untimely end, a death she refused to allow to shadow her life. Babbitt was inspired to make the documentary after seeing the “I Heart Jenny” stickers their mutual friends began posting frequently as badges of support.

    "I Heart Jenny"

    “I Heart Jenny”

    The initial idea of the documentary came to Babbitt during a pitch session that was part of his curriculum while attending the New York Film Academy’s Evening Producing workshop. From there, he started a years long journey, utilizing the skills, resources, and colleagues he met while at NYFA. “I had never made a film before,” said Babbitt, “but I was able to use the resources at NYFA to get my feet underneath me. At NYFA I was surrounded by people who really knew what they were doing. I felt supported by NYFA the entire way.”

    Shooting the film took two years, and was in post-production for another three—a long, laborious process that is not uncommon for documentaries, especially works of passion and as personal as “I Heart Jenny.” During this time, Babbitt not only applied the skills he learned at NYFA, but also used the connections made there to help his film see the light of day. In addition to being a distinguished alumnus, Babbitt is also currently the school’s Associate Director of Recruitment. With this notable position, he is able to guide incoming students as they look to grow as artists and filmmakers in their own right.

    Blake Babbitt

    Producer & Director Blake Babbitt

    As a result of the relationships formed at the New York Film Academy, Babbitt was able to recruit a strong, talented crew for “I Heart Jenny”—many alumni and staff from the school—including:

    Kathleen Harris – DP/Producer
    Brad Gallant – Lead Editor/Producer
    Zena Wood – Associate Producer
    Mike Diaz – Editor/Story Producer
    Chris Hayes – Editor
    Mike Walls – Camera Operator
    Shani Patel – Sound recordist/2nd Camera Operator
    Lexi Phillips – Colorist

    It was only fitting then that “I Heart Jenny” had its initial preview at the New York Film Academy. Babbitt continued, “It was an honor to be able to host my first screening in our stunning new screening room.”

    Andrea Swift, New York Film Academy’s Chair of Documentary Filmmaking, was in attendance, and was very impressed with Babbitt’s debut film. “It takes extraordinary passion, commitment, and talent to make a film like this.” She added, “This film can do real good in the world.”

    The specific cancer that took Jenny’s life was related to the BRCA gene, a sequence of DNA that has become more and more noted in recent years for its ominous relationship to many types of cancer. While making “I Heart Jenny,” Babbitt linked up with Jonathan and Mindy Gray, founders of the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine. The Basser Center is the first of its kind to focus specifically on BRCA-related cancers, and Babbitt has tied his film to their worthy cause, helping to raise donations for further research (click here if you’d like to support the Basser Center as well.)

    While it’s been a long, winding road for Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” their journey is far from over. Babbitt’s goal is to get the documentary into the Telluride Film Festival, based in Colorado where Babbitt is from and where he first met Jenny. According to Babbitt, “If it gets in, she wants me to bring a cardboard cutout of her—LOL!”

    In addition to submitting the film to as many festivals as possible, Babbitt is also hoping to get distribution, hoping the more people who see the film, the more they will take home its poignant message and look to support the fight against BRCA-related cancers. Babbitt continued, “We’ve had so many supporters along the way, and anytime I felt dejected or lost in the process, I would just think about our supporters and Jenny. I knew I couldn’t let her or them down.”

    Supporters of the film can follow updates on Facebook as well as on Twitter. You can also follow Babbitt’s filmmaking exploits on Instagram.

    The New York Film Academy is proud of Blake Babbitt and “I Heart Jenny,” and wishes him the best of luck as he continues the legacy of Jenny Rie Vanderlinden and her powerful story.

    I Heart Jenny Promo- Extended Version from Blake Babbitt on Vimeo.

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  • Next Generation of Indywood’s Storytellers Train at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy has attracted many aspiring artists with its intensive, hands-on approach to teaching the skills of filmmaking and the performing arts. It’s also caught of the eye of many established artists and celebrities, who then encourage their own friends and family to attend NYFA’s programs and workshops. 

It’s no surprise then that many of NYFA’s alumni have close relationships to famous personalities from Hollywood and Indywood alike. This next generation of performers and storytellers are quickly making a name for themselves in their own right, working hard and using the skills they acquired at the New York Film Academy. Here are just a few of our up-and-coming alumni from India:

    Imran Khan (nephew of Aamir Khan and Mansoor Khan; grandson of Nasir Hussain):

    Imran Khan


    Imran Khan took the 1-Year Acting Conservatory at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus in 2004 before winning a Filmfare Award for his debut in “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na.” He has also starred in commercial hits “I Hate Luv Storys,” “Delhi Belly,” and “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.” Imran’s uncle is Aamir Khan, one of India’s most popular award-winning artists, a wildly successful and talented actor, producer, director, singer, television talk show host, activist, and philanthropist. Imran is also the nephew of producer and director Mansoor Khan and grandson of director, producer, and legendary screenwriter Nasir Hussain.

     

    Krish J. Sathaar (son of Jayabharathi and Sathaar)

    Krish Sathaar


    Krish J. Sathaar studied in the 1-Year Acting Conservatory art NYFA’s New York campus before starting his career as an award-winning actor. After his 2011 graduation, Krish debuted in “Ladies and Gentlemen,” starring Mohanlal. He followed that up with “Malini 22 Palayamkottai” and “To Noora with Love,” and has also acted in the video game adaptation short “Halo: Helljumper.” Krish’s acting career with no surprise to his family–both his parents are stars in India. His father, Sathaar, has acted in nearly 300 films, including “Adiyozhukkukal,” “Sarapanjaram,” “Lava,” and “Samrajyam” Krish’s mother, Jayabharathi, has won two State Film Awards and a National Film Award, and has starred in many films, including “Rathinirvedam,” “Prathikaaram,” and “Madhavikutty.”

    



    Athiya Shetty (daughter of Sunil Shetty)

    Athiya Shetty

     

    Athiya enrolled in the 1-Year Acting Conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2011. In addition to being featured in Indian editions of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and Verve, Athiya starred in the Bollywood romantic action film “Hero.” For her role she was nominated for a Filmfare Award and won the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Award. She also became the brand ambassador for Maybelline New York’s India franchise. Her father, Sunil Shetty, is a Bollywood action star who has acted in over 110 films, including “Balwaan,” “Dhadkan,” “Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat,” “Sapoot,” “Main Hoon Na,” and “Red Alert: The War Within.”

     

    Pannaga Bharana (son of T.S. Nagabharna)

    Pannaga Bharana

    Pannaga attended the 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus in 2008 and has directed two feature length films: 2017’s anthology drama “Happy New Year” and “Maduve Impossible,” an upcoming movie set for a 2018 release. Pannaga’s father is T.S. Nagabharana, a renounced director in the Kannada film industry and a pioneer in the Parallel Cinema movement. With both success in film and TV, he has received numerous accolades, including nine National and 14 State awards.

    Naga Chaitanya (son of Akkieni Nagarjuna)

    Naga Chaitanya

    Naga took an Acting For Film workshop at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in 2007 and has since gone on to both commercial and critical success. His credits include “100% Love,” “Dhada,” “Bejawada,” Autonagar Surya,” and two of the most successful Bollywood films of 2016, “Premam” and “Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo.” His highest grossing film to date is the 2017 film “Rarandoi Veduka Chudham.” Naga’s father, Akkieni Nagarjuna, has starred in over 90 films including “Geetanjali” and “Shiva,” and has won nine state Nandi Awards, three Filmfare Awards South, and a National Film Award-Special Mention.

     

     

     

    Karan Raj Kanwar (son of Raj Kanwar)

    Karan Raj Kanwar

    Karan Raj Kanwar enrolled in both 1-Year Filmmaking and 1-Year Producing at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus and is now recognized as one of India’s youngest leading producers. He currently heads the production company Inderjit Films Combine. His father, Raj Kanwar, was a Bollywood filmmaker based in Mumbai who directed the hit film “Deewana,” as well as “Laadla,” “Jaan,” “Daag: The Fire,” and “Badal.”

     

     

    These are just six notable alumni from the New York Film Academy, part of a group that expands with every new program and workshop. Other alumni from India with illustrious family backgrounds whose careers are now coming into their own include:

    Tisha Mehra (niece of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra)
    Aadar Jain (cousin of Ranbir Kapoor)
    Bilal Amrohi (grandson of Kamal Amrohi)
    Armaan Jain (grandson of Raj Kapoor)
    Umeshy Chakraborty (son of Mithun Chakraborty)
    Dishani Chakraborty (daughter of Mithun Chakraborty)
    Nara Rohit (cousin of Nara Lokesh)
    Suhana Khan (daughter of Shah Rukh Khan)
    Ananya Panday (daughter of Suyah “Chunky” Pandey)
    Aalia Furniturewalla (daughter of Pooja Bedi)
    Devansh Shukla (son of Umesh Shukla)

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    December 12, 2017 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2009

  • NYFA Alum Oguzhan Akdogan Organizes Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy alumnus Oguzhan Akdogan has been working hard to put together the first annual Hollywood Turkish Film Festival in Los Angeles. The festival is designed to promote Turkish cinema in the West and to give young filmmakers an opportunity to network. Akdogan sat down with New York Film Academy Correspondent Joelle Smith to speak about the work he did for the festival and what he’s planning next.

    NYFA: How did you become involved with this festival?

    Akdogan: The festival founders were looking for a producer who knew Los Angeles County well. I sent an e-mail to them to introduce myself. I knew that I would be a great option for this position because I had been working as a producer for the past 2 years in Los Angeles.

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: Why are festivals like this important to you?

    Akdogan: I am a director, producer, and an actor. Naturally, the Hollywood Turkish Film Festival is very important to me. This was an opportunity to represent my country in an international arena. This is the first festival in LA for Turkish filmmakers.

    NYFA: Was there anything about putting this festival together that surprised you?

    Akdogan: Definitely, yes! Honestly, I did not expect that I needed to contact magazines and newspapers. When the festival director called me, I was really surprised. He mentioned that we would need to run our advert through Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and LA Weekly. This was the beginning of the media process for me. It has been a pleasure communicating with such nice media representatives.

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: Which filmmakers were you excited to bring to the festival?

    Akdogan: It was an honor to meet Jacqueline Bisset. She is such an outstanding film actress. When I was a kid, I would watch her films on TV. I never thought that one day this amazing artist would be my guest or that I would walk her to the stage. She is one of the most important figures in world cinema and I am very happy to have met her.

    NYFA: What films should our readers look out for?

    Akdogan: I highly recommend the film “Alya.” It is Turkey’s official selection for the 90th Academy Awards, Best Foreign Language Film. This is a must-see movie. The film is based on a true story and the director tells that story in a very dramatic way.

    Also, I recommend the films; “Troy,” “Plane Tree,” and “Rosso Istanbul.” They are great feature films, which include different cinematic perspectives.

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: Now that all is said and done, how do you feel about the festival?

    Akdogan: This festival is really a dream come true for me. I feel lucky and proud when I think about this project. I have experienced wonderful moments in my life as a producer. I have realized that the film world keeps me alive and happy. I cannot live without art.

    I feel confident since I made a solid contribution to the Hollywood Turkish Film Festival, at Paramount Pictures Studios, and I became a part of such an outstanding organization!

    NYFA: Why should NYFA students attend festivals?

    Akdogan: I would love for NYFA students to attend this festival because it was built on a love of cinema. We screened five short films and four feature films. After the screenings, audience members had a chance to talk with the directors about their storytelling process.

    NYFA: What did you learn from this experience?

    Akdogan: The best thing about the festival is the team’s collaborative spirit. I have learned many wonderful things from them. This organization has inspired me to be better every day. What can be greater than that!?

    Hollywood Turkish Film Festival

    NYFA: What’s up next for you?

    Akdogan: I am producing the 6th Hollywood Turkish Film Festival with this amazing crew. Look for the festival in 2018.

    Also, I am writing a feature horror film. If everything goes well, I will direct my first feature soon. In addition, I am going to produce a couple of feature films in the next year.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Oguzhan Akdogan for taking the time to speak with us. We’re looking forward to the 2nd Annual Hollywood Turkish Film Festival coming to you in 2018.

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    October 30, 2017 • Film Festivals, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1016

  • NYFA Los Angeles Celebrates it’s Fall 2017 Graduates

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    On Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, the New York Film Academy congratulated another graduating class as they crossed into the next stage of their professional careers. Three ceremonies were held throughout the day to accommodate the more than two hundred students who have now completed their education at NYFA.

    Many students spent the previous day at Warner Brother’s Studios screening their final films on the backlot. The occasion is always an emotional one. Warner Brothers is a Hollywood institution that has been home to some of the greatest names and films in the entertainment industry.

    Families were able to gather for photos before the ceremony began. A NYFA backdrop had everyone looking red carpet ready. When it was time for parents to take their seats, students formed neat rows as they filed into the building.

    This year’s commencement speakers ranged from a Hollywood star, a casting director who worked closely with Stephen Spielberg, and a producer/writer for several of the greatest television shows ever made. Each speaker had a copious amount of advice to give to the graduates. A common theme to all the speeches was that the students should learn from the speaker’s own mistakes so they could do even better in their own careers.

    New York Film Academy | Acting School Graduation

    The first speaker to grace the stage was Valorie Massalas, casting director extraordinaire. Her credits include “Indiana Jones,” “Chaplin,” “Total Recall,” “Alive,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Back to the Future II” and III. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on “Annie.” She is a new inductee into the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    Massalas spoke directly to the actors about how the industry has changed since she began her career. The most disturbing change to Massalas is the rise of the social media actor. These are Hollywood hopefuls who have never taken an acting class but have 20 thousand or more followers, and they are being cast in major motion pictures because the heads of studios believe they can put audience members into seats.

    “I’m sharing that with you because it’s disturbing to me that you spend all your time training like you’ve done, with these beautiful people, honing your craft, but if you don’t have social media numbers you could lose a job to somebody who does,” Massalas said. “It’s important for you to be aware of that because it’s just part of our world today. It’s not going to go away, In fact, it’s going to get worse.”

    It wasn’t all bad news. Certainly, some of the changes would be favorable for the next generation chosen to run Hollywood. Social media is also giving other creatives access to the tight-knit entertainment community. “When I was first starting out you didn’t have the kind of access that you have today with social media,” Massalas said.

    “The most important thing you must always remember is that you are the president of your own company. You have to be prepared to run your business like the president of a company. If you’re not doing that, you’re failing your career because nobody is going to run your business better than you.” Massalas warned students.

    New York Film Academy | Film School Graduation

    The second commencement speaker to take the stage was actor Joshua Helman. Helman’s credits include some of the biggest action films of the last ten years including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Jack Reacher.” He’s also been prolific in television starring in HBO’s “The Pacific,” the mini-series “Flesh and Bone,” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Wayward Pines.”

    Throughout Helman’s hilarious speech, he blended solid life advice with anecdotes from his time getting started in the industry. He began with a bit of advice he had learned from a teacher. “When I was in acting school, a singing teacher told me that the most valuable things an entertainer has to offer the audience are vulnerability and generosity. And not only have I never forgotten that, but I found it to be true.” He concluded this thought saying, “Come back to vulnerability and generosity. It will never be wrong. Find the stuff that challenges you, the truth that scares you, and offer it up to the world with joy.”

    Helman also wanted to prepare students for the reality of how long it can take to start a career. “You have to prove yourself and that can suck. It means working a day job, it means losing sleep, and it means facing long stretches of seemingly infinite time when you feel like you are going nowhere. That is par for the course. Each of you, if you’re not an insane person, is going to want to give up at some point…”

    But, Helman amended, there’s a way to survive the hard years. “You can make peace with it if you never forget that you are doing it in order to do the job that you love and that (entertainment) is your real job.”

    New York Film Academy | Producing School Graduation

    The final speaker of the night was Cherie Steinkellner. She is perhaps best known for producing the multi-award winning television show, “Cheers.” She also wrote for such groundbreaking shows as “The Jeffersons” and “Who’s the Boss?” Finally, she wrote for and produced the Disney animated series and feature film, “Teacher’s Pet” starring Nathan Lane.

    Steinkellner takes issue with the adage, “Those who can’t-do, teach.” “I don’t believe that to be true,” she said. “I think those who can’t-do, learn. Which is to say, if you find yourself to be an irresistible force up against an immovable object, if you find that you can’t achieve something, instead of fighting the same darn thing, consider that the point isn’t to step over that obstacle. Maybe the point of the lesson is: What can I learn from this?”

    With that thought in mind, Steinkellner also wanted to make sure students didn’t think that graduating meant their best days were behind them. She closed out her speech stating,

    “When I was in school, in the seventies, people would say to me these are the best years of your life. I hated that. School is short and life is long. You will never forget the years that you have spent here at the New York Film Academy. I haven’t forgotten the years that I spent in college. Please, trust this elder. The good stuff is all ahead of you. Let’s see what you make. Let’s see what you do. Let’s see your ‘weird.’ Congratulations on your graduation and welcome my friends to the best years of your life.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Joshua Helman, Valorie Massalas, and Cherie Steinkellner for taking the time to speak with our students. We’d also like to congratulate all of our incredible students on their graduation. We hope to see you back here soon, telling the next generation your success story.

    MFA in Acting:

    Vicente Almuna Morales

    Ainur Rauilyevna

    Alejandra Gonzalez

    Vincson Green II

    Haoran Li

    Elizabeth Otaola Cortina

    Nanli Wang

    Chaoyue Zhao

     

    BFA in Acting:

    Melissa Abugattas Lozada

    Reya Al-Jaroudy

    Ratnavali Anderson

    Ira Calilung

    Whitney Cheng

    Abbilyn Chuha

    Jennifer Anne Cipolla

    Briana Davis

    Joseph Ekstrom

    Michael Furlough

    Emmanouil Giamas

    Maria Manuela Gomez

    Anes Hasi

    Christian Elijah Leighty

    Nina Madzirov

    Phillip McNair

    Bethany Rhiannon Daisy Milner

    Rebecca Momo

    Alessio Mongardi

    Analisa Moreno

    Vanessa Rene Nuevo

    Chunxiao Ouyang

    Trinity Page

    Fernando Peralta

    Zachary Thomas Perry

    Raven Ramos

    Maurice Roberson II

    Simran Sangian

    Billy Xiong

    Ming Jie Yang

     

    AFA in Acting:

    Tia Blackwill

    Corinna Camero

    Melissa Celikovic

    Jassen Charron

    Gregory James Drake

    Kurt Alexander Eberle

    Andre Forrest

    Aaliyah Jones

    Wadley Sterlin

    Travis Nevin Tendler

    Robert Tevlin

    Danielle Torck

     

    MFA in Producing:

    Mazen Aleqbali

     

    BFA in Producing:

    Ruddy Cano Hernandez

    Nyshon Ferrell

    Carlos Gonzalez

    Chor Kei Hui

    Brandon William McCarthy

    Thandiwe Mlauli

    Gilma Edith Montecer Lore

    Sagar Patel

    Angel J. Pitre

    Sim Sagiroglu

    Peijun Zou

     

    AFA in Producing:

    Mengying Sun

     

    MFA in Photography:

    Amal Alahdal

    Dania Saud Altalhi

    Pamela Garcia-Aguirre

     

    BFA in Photography:

    Rushank Anil Agrawal

    Brenda Cantu

    Tanya Gawdi

    Kingi Kingibe

    Ziomara Ramirez

    Wen Tao Tu

     

    MFA in Documentary:

    Sultan Sulaiman Aljurays

    Camilla Elisabeth Borel Rinkes

    Amira Hamour

    Ashley Danielle Harris

    Yuan Li

    Kristin Lydsdottir

    Huda Abdulsalam Moraidikha

    Maria Carolina Sosa Andres

    Guangli Zhu

     

    MFA in Cinematography:

    Jhonny Fabian Garcia Sarmiento

    Rafael O. Rivera

    Maria Sevilla

    Manuel Velasquez Isaza

     

    MFA in Film:

    Joud AlAmri

    Gerald Albitre

    Mahfouz Maeid M. Alzahrani

    Almaz Amandossov

    Dias Azimzhanov

    Yang Bai

    Alma Baimuratova

    Rushikesh Bhadane

    Beatriz Cabrera Figuerez

    Xiaoyue Cao

    Yue Chen

    Moataz Ezzat Elsayed Gamal Elbahaey

    Boise Badilla Esquerra

    Efrain Santiago Fierro

    Anuja Ganpule-Sheorey

    Zesheng Gao

    Mariia Gerasymiuk

    Di Hang

    Amber A. Harris

    Jacob Houghton

    Oboatarhe Ikuku

    Runjie Ji

    Annu Kapil

    Gabriela Ledesma

    Jian Li

    Yitong Li

    Yixin Liang

    Gengru Liu

    Zichen Liu

    Michael Louka

    Kendra McDonald

    Rachel Gebrael Meguerdijian

    Maria Mitkovskaya

    Sonakshi Mittal

    Aditya Rajendra Mohite

    Amanda Molefe

    Rima Mori

    Dina Najialdaies

    Vibhav Vinayak Nayak

    Kevin Nwankwor

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Hiroki Ohsawa

    Derek Parker

    Ana Camila Parra Bernal

    Yuntong Peng

    Rene Rodriguez

    Francia Romero

    Guoqiang Sheng

    Yu Sheng

    Savannah Sivert

    Jourdain Antoine Smith

    Julien Supplice

    Mohitha Vankima

    Shashank Narendra Varma

    Chenyi Wang

    Tixiao Wang

    Zheng Wang

    Erxuan Wu

    Yuzuan Wu

    Lijun Yang

    Meng Yu

    Xiankai Zhang

    Xiaoxiao Zhang

    Xiwen Zhang

    Rui Zhu

    Xuerong Zhu

     

    AFA in Film:

    James Bonfiglio

    Peter Farquhar

    Casey Swing

    Zhen Wang

     

    MFA in Screenwriting:

    Jean-Baptiste Hakim

    Keaton Kaplan

    Kobus Louw

    Aida Marie-Louise Noujaim

     

    MA in Screenwriting:

    Kwang Jin Chai

    Rosa Falu-Carrion

    Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

    Roberto Tapia

     

    BFA in Screenwriting:

    Nick Davis

    Nawaf al Hoshani

    Felix Martinez Autin

     

    MFA in Game Design:

    May Alotaibi

     

    BFA in Game Design:

    Cody Fowler

    Min Han

    Alecksandar Jackowicz

    Mario Monaco

     

    MA in Film:

    Mina Abrahim

    Vedang Bhatt

    Dhriti Borah

    Julian Andres Bueno Sanchez

    Maurice Cassidy

    Jaya Prasad Chitturi

    Xingyue Dai

    Abdallah ElDaly

    Jiawei Gao

    Giunel Ismaiylova

    Abebowale Johnson

    Melissa Johnson

    Vicken Joulfayan

    Chenyang Li

    Mengke Li

    Xi Lin

    Yilin Liu

    Haixiao Lu

    Hin Lam Allan Ng

    Yu Qiu

    Srikanth Navarathna Raju

    Jose Mario Salas Boza

    Kongpob Sangsanga

    Elizabeth Soto-Lara

    Sukrut Shirish Teni

    Jianyu Wang

    Yu Wang

    Jiaxing Wu

    Sipei Wu

    Xueqing Wu

    Siqi Xiao

    Qingjing Yan

    Zain Zaman

    Chen Zhang

    Yiyun Zhang

    Yang Zhou

     

    BFAin Film:

    Ryan Adams

    Sara Ait Benabdallah

    Fawaz Saleh Al-Batati

    Basil Alamri

    Abdullah Saleh Alawaji

    Hani Alqattan

    Ayman Ahmed Alzahrani

    Jascha Bellaiche

    Rolf Niklas Martin Berggren

    Ambre-India Bourdon

    Tammy Cook

    Jose Guilherme Correia Jr.

    Antonio Gassan Darwiche

    Rumena Dinevska

    Gabriel Erwin

    Cirenia Raquel Escobedo Esquivel

    Jiaqing Ge

    Daniel Ivan Gonzalez Ramirez

    Oliver Granö

    Kartikye Gupta

    Akira Hayakawa

    Anton Hermawan

    Nuria Stella Hernandez

    Dongyan Jiang

    Yudi Jiang

    Autumn Joiner

    Joanna Krawczyk

    Henrique Kraychete Freire

    Gabriel Legua

    Xuejiao Liu

    Zhuangzi Liu

    Ana Catalina Loret de Mola

    Mario Mazzarella

    Eric Milzarski

    Nikola Nikolovski

    Varunn Pandya

    Konstantinos Pateronis

    Vladislav Petrov

    Celeste Pillay

    Katherine Pinkston

    Albert Theodore Pranoto

    Anastasia Reinhard

    Alejandro Rojas Melo

    Brooke Schulte

    Richard Selvi

    Denis Semikin

    Muhamad Ashram Shahrivar

    Shiyi Shao

    Jiajin Song

    Michael Tharp

    Hary Johann Tuukkanen Itriago

    Santos Verdia-Cross

    Tiange Wei

    Assem Yedgey

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

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    New York Film Academy filmmaking alumnus Ruchir Garg was an executive producer on independent comedy “It’s Gawd!” starring Tommy Chong, Luke Perry and Rebecca Maden. The film has been released on Amazon and is screening August 24 at the AMC in Union Square, New York City.

    It’s Gawd!” follows the creator as he tries to save humanity (and his job) through a late night variety show and a variety of comedic high jinks. We had a chance to catch up with Ruchir and learn more about his journey with “It’s Gawd” from initial script read to Amazon distribution.

    For those in the New York City area, further information and tickets for the August 24 screening of “It’s Gawd” can be found here.

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

    RG: I have always had great love for stories. While growing up in India, we were surrounded by tales from puranas and jatakas (traditional folk tales). However, engineering and medicine used to be the most desirable professions, and so I studied computer science, and started working as a systems analyst. I came to the U.S. when Merrill Lynch interviewed me on the phone and offered me a job.

    At the time I came to NYFA in 2004, I had lived in NYC for 7 years. I was working in the financial services industry. I used to go to the movies a lot. I loved comedies. Most comedies used to be rom-coms, and I wished there was more diversity of themes in comedy. I read a couple of books on screenwriting at first, which piqued my interest in learning filmmaking. I wanted to direct. The 8-Week Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA was perfect because I knew I could convince my employer to let me take eight weeks off work. Anything longer than that would have been difficult.

    After the NYFA course I returned to India and participated in the production of a feature film, a family drama. I was mainly observing the process. I then realized that I would have to enter the industry as a writer or a producer. I started writing a comedy on the side. But I was never satisfied with what I wrote. After a couple of years, I put the dream on hold. And then “It’s Gawd” happened.

    NYFA: What inspired “It’s Gawd!”?

    RG: “It’s Gawd!” was inspired by the works of Neale Donald Walsch, which I happened to be familiar with. Jerry Brunskill, who had written the script, was crowdfunding for the film on Indiegogo. I came to know of it when Neale wrote a post about it on his Facebook page. I liked what I saw and contacted Jerry. He turned out to be a gem of a guy.

    After reading the script, I knew I wanted to do the project. Presenting God as a fun loving being was very original.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in preparing for your experience as executive producer of “It’s Gawd!”?

    RG: The NYFA experience turned out to very useful because it was very hands-on. When I came across the script for “It’s Gawd!” I was familiar enough with the filmmaking process so I could ask the right questions to make an informed decision. In fact I am pretty sure that without some prior knowledge of the process, I would not have had the courage to take it up the project.

    NYFA: What was the process like for you finding distribution with Amazon?

    RG: We submitted the movie originally to several high-profile festivals. It was not accepted. The general feedback was that the movie seemed too commercial. We screened the film for some friends in the business, and received similar response. We were not successful with any major distributors either. They said they looked for critically-acclaimed festival winners.

    A friend and industry professional suggested that since our film had the hallmarks of a cult film (such as  “Idiocracy” and “The Big Lobowski”), we should promote it as one. Since there are no well-defined avenues to do that, we decided to self-distribute.

    We talked to some DVD distributors; but the money offered was very small. We thought we could use Tommy’s growing social media popularity. We started evaluating iTunes, Vimeo, Amazon, etc. and met with their representatives.

    It so happened that Amazon launched its Video Direct platform at this time; It let us present the film to a very large audience and do a bit of revenue sharing. It would take several million views to recoup our cost, but at least the film will be seen by a lot of people. To be accepted, Amazon required a high standard of technical quality, which we did have.

    After the invitation-only premiere in LA — which was very successful — we did a screening in Minneapolis, which sold out. Tugg makes it quite easy to do special screenings. Once a filmmaker has uploaded the film to Tugg, anyone can screen it, provided he/she can promote it and sell a minimum number of tickets.

    NYFA: What advice can you offer to aspiring NYFA student producers who are navigating the world of distribution?

    RG: The distribution industry and marketplace has been changing rapidly. So do your research, investigate options, talk to professionals, follow up. Use your contacts to connect with industry insiders.

    NYFA: Is there anything we didn’t ask you’d like to share with our community?

    RG: The most important thing is to continue to have enthusiasm, even in the midst of adversity. We had our bit of adversity, in every phase, but it was somehow overcome. There is no formula for success. But if we stay enthusiastic, inspiration will flow and doors will open.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ruchir Garg for sharing a bit of his story. And don’t forget to check out the August 24 screening of “It’s Gawd.”

     

     

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  • NYFA’s Ragga Thordarson Continues to Garner International Recognition

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    NYFA’s Ragga Thordarson continues to garner international recognition, this time in her native country of Iceland. Interviewed by Morgunblaðið, one Iceland’s leading papers, Ragga spoke of her success in the film and television industry as a producer, director, and consultant.

    The article went on to discuss her role within the New York Film Academy and the importance of the inclusive, diverse environment NYFA fosters.

    You can find the original article here. An English version can be found below.

    “The World of Film is International”

    Ragnhildur Magnúsdóttir Thordarson, or Ragga, as she is called, lives in Los Angeles where she works at the prestigious New York Film Academy. Ragga has produced and participated in a number of creative and film projects both overseas and here at home in Iceland and was among other things, a consultant to the team behind “The Simpsons” on the Simpsons’ Iceland episode.

    Ragga Thordarson | New York Film Academy

    “This started when I graduated with a Master’s degree in Producing For Film and Television  from New York Film Academy in March 2012. I left Iceland in 2010 and graduated two years later,” says Ragga, who has done well in recent years in Los Angeles, California, USA, as a Producer. The projects include short films that have been featured at various film festivals.

    In 2012, Filmbreak named Ragga Best Producer for one such project. Her short sketch video was named Carlos & Brandi 2 and was a follow-up to the first Carlos and Brandi, based on short episodes of the Icelandic-American couple created by Ragga. She also wrote and directed the documentary From Oakland to Iceland. Ragnhildur now works as Director of Admissions at New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, which oversees students’ applications worldwide.

    Consultant for Icelandic Simpsons

    “Before I graduated, I worked as a radio and television host (in Iceland) and as a filmmaker. So I have been producing across platforms for a considerable amount of time,” says Ragga

    “After graduating, I started working as a Producer in LA in various projects. Among other things, I worked for Reebok and was a consultant on “The Simpsons” Iceland episode. I produced and wrote content that was featured on “Funny or Die.” In fact, I was working on various types of projects. Then I started working in events for New York Film Academy. “

    Industry professionals with impressive resumes

    Ragga then began managing Q and A´s and various events at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. “We had guests coming to Warner Brothers for screenings and Q and A’s. There were people from all different jobs in entertainment and film; screenwriters and actors, for example, such as Linda Woolverton, Josh Brolin and Jonah Hill. Then there were filmmakers, even animation experts and others, some household names and others less known to the public, but industry professionals who have great bodies of work and extensive credits, sometimes behind the scenes. These people come to share their creative and industry experiences with students. This was a great job.” Ragga is raised in the United States, but is Icelandic and has spent considerable time living in Iceland as well. She and her husband have lived in Los Angeles in recent years.

    New York Film Academy is International

    The environment is international

    Ragga managed events at NYFA until she was eight months pregnant with her first child. “I had my daughter Stella three years ago, and was what in Iceland would be considered a ‘last minute mom’” says Ragga, and laughs.

    “After becoming a mom, I went to work on new projects for New York Film Academy and because I knew the school so well, I ended up working in Admissions. My job then evolved into the position I am in now. I love this school, the departments within it work well together, and  more than half of the students are international. This is a very global environment, and it’s great to be surrounded by people who are storytellers from all over the world. You hear Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and many more languages ​​daily here. It reflects in my opinion the cinema world which is far more international than I think people generally realize. “Hollywood is such a multinational place and New York Film Academy’s student body reflects that. Then filmmakers (including NYFA’s) meet at various film festivals across the world, with their common love of and passion for film. “

     

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    July 31, 2017 • Academic Programs, Faculty Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 2366

  • NYFA LA Welcomes Writer & Producer Neal Baer as Guest Speaker

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    On Wednesday, June 21, Neal Baer came to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus to talk about his illustrious career in television. Baer has the distinction of being a key figure in two groundbreaking series. He was a writer and producer on both “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “ER.”  Director of the Q and A series, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

    Baer Q and A 004

    Students filled the Riverside Theater to hear Baer speak about the history of the television industry. Many of the students were surprised to learn that “ER” once enjoyed an incredible share of the market. “There’s no drama airing today that comes close to having 40 million viewers. Not even ‘Game of Thrones.’”  

    Of course, a huge portion of the show’s success was the wildly talented and relatively unknown cast, including George Clooney. Baer recalled the excited fan reaction to seeing Clooney in a tuxedo. So mad was the fury, that Baer made sure to include a scene with him in a tuxedo in “Hell or High Water.” The episode went on to be the show’s highest-rated and even earned Clooney an Emmy nomination.

    “I’ve had a very different career than my friends. I’ve only ever been on four shows,” Baer said after being asked about his incredible trajectory. “I started in 1994. That’s twenty-three years. I don’t know anybody else who has done four shows straight through.”

    Whether it was talent, luck, or a combination of both that kept Baer on top, he always made sure to use the best of the time he had. “I loved SVU because every week I got to explore. You had to get into the story through a murder or assault but then I could do a show about teen access to abortion. They let us do amazing things with guns, homeschooling, HIV deniers, euthanasia, everything I was interested in was put into the show.” 

    Baer Q and A 003

    That inspiration translated into his hiring practices as a showrunner. Baer was fond of calling obscure actors from childhood favorites to come on the show. Carol Burnett chastised him when he called to ask her on the show: “You used to watch me with your parents on weeknights, didn’t you?” Once, Debbie Reynolds even shared a saucy story about Ava Gardner with Baer.

    “How could you not want to bring these people on your show,” Baer said. “I’ve been very blessed to work with incredible people.”

    One student asked if Baer had any advice for students looking to break into the industry. Baer responded, “They’ve made it very difficult to be a director. I think what you have to do if you want to work, as a director, is shadow. You attach to a director and you just become their shadow. You’ll go to casting meetings, location scouts, anything the director does, you’ll be there.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Baer for taking the time to speak with our students.

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  • NYFA Alumnus Anthony James Faure Releases “Kids With Guns”

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    Anthony James Faure worked in the film industry for five years before coming to the New York Film Academy. When he started the 1-Year Filmmaking Program he was also starting the post-production process on his latest film, “Kids with Guns.”

    Screenshot 2017-06-23 15.06.19

    Using Paris, France, as a backdrop, he shot the feature film over the summer of 2014. The story follows Arno and Mo, two unimportant drug dealers who happen upon a bag filled with MDMA. They decide to sell the trendy drug to the Parisian Golden Youth. Soon they’re forced to navigate the dangerous territory between the real owner of the bag and an overzealous cop that swore to stop him.

    The French thriller was produced with a budget of just €30,000, or around $35,000 in U.S. dollars. He earned the majority of the money via crowd-funding sites, personal savings, and a few grants. Then entire cast and crew worked on a volunteer basis.

    Faure attributes much of that success to his friend and producing partner Antony Renault. Faure said of the experience, “We were trying to get a short film produced in France for a long time. During that time, we wrote ‘Kids with Guns.’ Once the script was done we thought we should just shoot it. It’s that spontaneity that makes the essence of our film: we wanted to shoot now.”

    Faure’s scrappy nature had earned him great footage, but turning it into a film would be an entirely different process. “NYFA helped me in my rewriting process during postproduction. Indeed, after the course I took at NYFA, my understanding of film had evolved, and I managed to use that new knowledge in the editing.”

    The visual effects artist, postproduction manager, and sound mixer for “Kids with Guns” were all students Faure met at NYFA. He enjoyed his experience at NYFA so much he’ll be returning next semester: “I will never stop learning. I have a few feature film ideas and treatments I’ve been working on for a while, going back to NYFA in the screenwriting course will hopefully give me that little push I need to execute them.”

    TEASER KIDS WITH GUNS from Les Films de l’Ours on Vimeo.

    Faure’s next project is a superhero story. “Super Zeroes” is the story of superheroes forced into retirement by a world tired of the destruction their crime fighting causes. They retire to Trinidad-and-Tobago but a crime committed on the island will force them to work together, even if their powers are a bit rusty. NYFA alumni Jolene Mendes and Chloe Na will work with Faure as producers, Sashank Sana is the director of photography, Carolina Lara will do production design, and Daniel Techy is editing.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Faure’s success. To learn more about Faure click here.

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